She had been walking endlessly uncertain where she was going as long as she was far away from the Kari. She felt terrible for leaving without saying anything to Sesiago, but she could not stand and listen to Katsu speak further on what she should or should not do with her own body. They had not even gotten the blood work back and he was wanting her to make a decision to keep a baby that could very well be Hiko’s. She and Sesiago had not even talked about it and as she walked she considered why she was including Sesiago in any of her decisions.
Her mind was muddled with unwelcome thoughts, but her attention quickly drew to the vehicle that had pulled up alongside of her. The windows were tinted as she squinted her eyes to try and see who was behind the wheel. For a moment she was not certain what to expect until the door opened and out stepped the last person she wanted to see. “Get in.” Her body was frozen and even though she told herself to run, she just stood there paralyzed. “I said get in.” He took a step toward her when she failed to comply to his wishes, his hand reaching out and grabbing her.
She was panicking as she felt her stomach lurch as she bent forward and threw-up. If it was not for the fact that he was gripping her arm tightly she would have certainly collapsed. Why could she not bring herself to move or even fight? He pulled on her arm, forcing it into an uncomfortable position as he spoke, “You are going to get in the car or I am going to make you. I will only warn you once. If you try to run from me, you will regret it.”
Tationy forced her body into an upright position. It was now or never for her. If she got into his car, there was no guarantee she would survive the experience if she didn’t she may not survive it anyway. She managed to find her voice somewhat awkwardly, “If I get in your car are you going to kill me?”
There was something unrecognizable in his eyes before he relinquished his grip upon her wrist. “If I kill you, Sesiago will make things difficult for me. So let’s just say you are my bargaining chip.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means, you are going to get in my car right now.”
“If I refuse?”
“Do you want to refuse Tationy?” She felt that panic again settle in her chest as she looked into those cold heartless eyes. The part of her with any sort of strength told herself to run and fight no matter what, but the weak part of her that was scared and frightened, got in that car with him. She had no idea if it was going to be a decision she would regret for the rest of her life. Not even a single notion in her head whether or not she would even survive the experience. They drove, night and day, stopping only to refuel and eating in the car. She made note that he paid for everything in cash, though she was thankful that his car was rather flashy so if her body did turn up it was not as though the people on this journey were going to forget that luxury sports car.
“Why did you do it?” She finally broke down and asked three days into their journey.
“Why did I do what?”
“You slept with my cousin and then lied about it, you deserved worse then what you got. How can you call it rape, when you were wet throughout it?”
Tationy bit the inside of her cheek ignoring his question as she spoke, “Were you really going to sell me?”
“Did I mean anything to you?” There was a pause that lingered much to long and she had to wonder why that question out of all of them was a difficult one for him to answer. “Why can’t you answer me?”
“My father warned me to be careful around you. He kept talking about falling and becoming a monster. I am already a monster.” He moved his hand from the steering wheel to her leg, which caused her to instantly tense. “I like that look on your face.” He responded and she glanced toward the rearview mirror catching sight of that look in his eyes. “Thousands of years this tradition has been taking place. A Tylo woman is brought to the Kari and the elders of this family play their little game to see which of the firstborns is the heir to Kazuma’s kingdom. You are not the first and you will not be the last.” His hand slid further up her leg and she quickly placed her hand on top of his to stop him. “My father thought he was being smart when he manipulated me into stopping into that restaurant you were working. Sesiago might be ignorant to the game those old fools play, but I knew the moment I saw you what their plan was.”
“What do you mean?”
“My father and Sesiago’s have been manipulating this situation from the beginning. You just happened to attend a party for Sesiago’s birthday, yeah right.”
“Suemeli, was really nice and invited me.”
“I am sure she failed to mention she is my father’s lover. I am guessing that Iashi played a hand in you and Sesiago getting together. He is uncle Katsu’s right hand. They call him the ‘hand of God’ because it was once believed by these old Kari fools that Katsu was the reincarnate of Kazuma. There is no such thing as coincidence upon the island of Shimragata.”
“What you did, was that all a part of it as well?”
She tried to hide the emotion in her voice, but she knew she had failed when he glanced at her briefly and spoke, “You disappointed me. You were the first time in years that I had considered not going through with an auction and then you slept with him. How could you spread your legs for Sesiago? Was I not good enough for you?”
His question had given her pause. She never considered why it was she slept with Sesiago other then she had wanted to. Her lack of response to the question, must have struck a nerve because they both had gotten quiet the remainder of the trip.
She lost track of how long they had been driving until finally he had stopped the car and exited the vehicle. She cautiously followed suit as she looked around and realized she did not recognize the area. “Where are we?”
He did not answer her question, simply gestured toward the home behind her. “It is bought and paid for. Deed is on the table inside.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Do not call anyone. Do not go back to Bridgeport. If I find out you did, I will come and find you.”
“Hiko, aren’t you at least going to explain? Don’t you think you owe me that much?”
She noticed how he paused a moment and that expression upon his face she could not decipher it. What secrets was he protecting? “If any Kari come looking for you, run. There is money in the house.”
“You really have no idea what Katsu had planned for you? I do not know if I should feel sorry for you or pity. He and my father will send people to find you. If they find you, I cannot guarantee your safety.”
“What about Sesiago?”
He was annoyed, she could tell. “If he gives me what I want, he can have what he wants. Don’t you want to know if he really loves you?”
Her stomach knotted, truth be told she wanted desperately to know the answer to that question. Was he just helping her because he felt responsible? Katsu seemed to think that Sesiago was in love with her, but here Hiko was telling her not to trust Katsu. She did not know what she should feel or think and trusting Hiko, was it even something she should consider? There were too many questions and the lingering doubt consumed her thoughts, so much so that by the time she looked up to address Hiko he was already gone.
Tationy had come to quickly realize that Hiko was speaking the truth when she caught sight of a familiar bracelet upon a man in the town she was abandoned in and she ran. She was not certain what fate she was running from, but the fear of not knowing was more than enough reason for her to keep moving, eventually she left the country altogether and crossed the border where she hoped she would find some peace.
The distance from the Kari and Bridgeport did nothing for the heaviness. The thoughts of Sesiago, Hiko, and everything that had transpired where never far from her mind. The unwelcome pregnancy only compounded the problem. She thought perhaps it was too much to hope for that the urine test she took at Doctor Hamara’s office was in fact a false positive. She was running from what she was not certain, carrying a baby that may or may not be Sesiago’s, and her emotions regarding Hiko and what had transpired were more conflicted now, then they had ever been before. That certainly did not mean she had forgotten everything he did, but it did nothing to ease her mind.
She was constantly sick, living in what was dubbed as a partially furnished house on the beach. Of course by partially furnished they meant the kitchen and bathroom and nothing else. She was sleeping on the floor, with only enough money to survive a few months so she had started looking for a job. She thought perhaps the distraction would be good for her. Truth was, it only helped when she was busy. In those moments when there was nothing to do, she had time to think about all of the things she knew she had to address eventually.
He had arrived to Isla Paradiso and the location he was told he could find her. He was so angry knowing that Hiko knew where she was. He had too many questions and just to be given the opportunity to see her, he had to give up the one thing his family had of true value. The place he was told she was staying was empty, not much in the way of furniture as he glanced in all of the windows looking for any sign of her. He was worried that he was too late and that she perhaps had moved on. He waited for several hours until he caught a glimpse of someone walking down the path off in the distance. The closer the figure came the better he could see her. She was walking with her head down so he was certain she had yet to notice him. When she finally did she stopped walking mid-stride and he could see more clearly the baby bump. Did she keep the baby because it was his or because it was Hiko’s?
He had to force the anger from his voice and off his face, “Why did you leave me?”
“I didn’t. I mean, not exactly.”
“Not exactly? You left Bridgeport and traveled across the nation and even out of the country and you tell me you were not exactly leaving me.”
“How did you find me?”
He looked away from her not being able to hide the anger, “That is what you are so concerned about? You know exactly how I found you.”
“Hiko.” The soft way she said his name did nothing for how he was feeling at that moment. He noticed how she began walking and brushed by him, “I need to get off my feet.” He turned and allowed his eyes to follow her, the things he wanted to say clouded now by anger at how dismissive she seemed regarding his feelings. He noticed though how she left the door opened behind her and he hesitantly moved to follow.
When he made it into the house she was kicking her shoes off and a soft sigh escaped her lips. “Are you in pain?” He asked his voice softening.
“Pain, not really. Just ache all over.”
“Why did you decide to keep the baby?”
She had not answered him, simply moving toward the bay window taking a seat on the floor. If she was trying to anger him or even frustrate him, she was succeeding. He moved toward her quickly taking a seat next to her. His hand instinctively moved on its own to touch her cheek. The surprised look she gave him caused him concern. During their time apart had she grown to fear him? “Why would you even ask me that?”
“You said you could not have Hiko’s baby did you change your mind? Does he know? Are the two of you together?”
“Are you out of your mind?” Her words caught him off-guard. He noticed how she sighed, “Hiko and I are not together. I have no idea if he knows, I certainly did not tell him. As for why I changed my mind. It was because of you. This baby is yours no matter whose blood he has that is what I tell myself and I am happy with that, even if it turns out to not be true.”
“Then why did you leave me?”
“Your father kept talking about how I should test you and how if I abort that you would be devastated. He just kept putting this pressure on my shoulders even if that was not his intent. So I went for a walk to get some fresh air and Hiko found me. I was so paralyzed I could not even run. He told me to get in his car. My options were to fight him and hope I get away or do as he told me to. That weak part of me was so afraid of what he would do if I ran that I got in his car and left with him.”
“Did he touch you?”
“No. I mean yeah once, he put his hand on my leg, but I think he only did it to see my reaction. We drove a long time and he just dropped me off at this place in the desert. On the trip he kept telling me that your father and his were manipulating everything. That there were no coincidences on Shimragata. That everything that happened was orchestrated by them and I think he was trying to tell me that even his reaction was plotted and planned by the elders of the Kari. He said something about me not being the first Tylo woman to be brought to the Kari. That it was a game to see which of the firstborns was the heir of Kazuma. When he was telling it to me, I could not believe anyone would be so callous and that Hiko would say anything, but what does he have to gain by saying it?”
Sesiago frowned, “Yayoi said something similar to me that night you disappeared. I went looking for you, but you were gone.”
“I am sorry. After he left I thought, maybe it was for the best. You were doing so much for me and I did not want to drag you down.” She looked away from him trying to hide the fact that there were tears welling up, but he had noticed them. Now that he was here with her, everything he wanted to say or even ask seemed so unimportant. “Are you hungry, I can make something.” She was always like that, quickly collecting herself and moving forward.
He grabbed her hand to stop her from leaving the spot they were sitting pulling her slightly into him. “I do not need anything.” He had expected her to tense or pull away, but she had sighed and leaned into him. “I want us to talk.”
“Mmmhmm.” He glanced at her face, the soft response told him she was comfortable and probably more than a little tired. He had to wonder how well she had been sleeping during their time apart. He realized that her body had relaxed considerably and her eyes were closed. That anger that had been building steadily within him, dissipated rather quickly at the sight of her. As much as he enjoyed the closeness they were sharing the floor and the wall he was sitting and leaning against was doing nothing for his back and he groaned as he tried to adjust his position some. Not an easy thing to do seeing she was lying, pressed into his chest. “Are you alright?”
He considered her question, but did not offer a response right away. The light of day was long gone and he could tell she was tired. “Let’s go.” He whispered and she blinked at him before nodding her head and pulling herself away from him.
He reached down and took her hand moving outside toward the Ford F-1 Pick-up that he had parked in her yard. He opened the door, grabbing up a blanket, before closing it, and walking around toward the tailgate. He offered her the blanket and when she took it, he proceeded to open the gate climbing himself in to the back and then helping her up. He laid himself down, it was not going to be as comfortable as a bed, but hopefully it would at least be more restful than that floor. He reached out for her hand, tugging her slightly and he made note that she did not hesitate to comply with his attempts to get her to lie with him. He pulled the blanket over them and sighed contently. “Why did you trade in the Mustang?”
“It belonged to the Shima Corporation. Hiko would only tell me where you were if I relinquished my shares.”
She lifted her head, even under the darkened sky he could see those eyes staring at his face. “You gave up your families company?”
“Only the shares that belonged to me that I had gotten from my mother. Seiji, Yayoi, and my father still have their own shares. Though controlling interest is now held by Hiko.”
“Why would you do that?”
He grew silent at her question. It was not as though he did not have an answer for it, he was simply not certain if he was ready to say it. “You are more important to me then that company.”
“I am sorry.”
“Why are you sorry?”
“Hiko referred to me as a bargaining chip, I did not understand what he meant. Had I know, I would have come and found you.”
He closed his eyes as the arm he had wrapped around her tightened. “Hiko would have found a way to use you against me no matter if you were there or not. I am just glad he did not hurt you.” He laid a kiss on her forehead and added, “You are the only thing in this world that matters to me and I would give up anything I had to, to keep you safe and be at your side.”
“You know this is starting to feel a bit romantic. Lying in the back of a pickup truck under the night sky. The cool breeze brushing along our skin as we cuddle into one another.”
His eyes opened and for a time he stared up at the night sky before he finally braved it and rolled himself to his side so he could better see her face. “Would that be such a bad thing?” He questioned as his lips sought out hers. He kept the kiss brief not wishing to make her feel forced or pushed into anything. There were things they had to discuss and work out. He was content with her just being in his arms, but he knew if she was willing to do more, then it would be difficult for him to tell her no.
To Be Continued