“Where are they now?” Kai asks, forcing me to move in front of him, wrapping his arms around me, and causing me to become immobile.
I try to wiggle away, but Kale looks between us, frowning, so I instantly wrap my arms around Kai, making it look like we’re embracing.
“I’m not sure,” he mutters, looking around, and I do the same even though I have no idea what his mom and dad look like.
“Well, before they get here, let me introduce you to my wife,” Kai says as I return my gaze to Kale.
“Nice to meet you,” I tell him softly.
“You too,” he grunts then glances behind us, a smirk appearing on his face. “Good luck. You’re going to need it,” he says, looking at Kai before disappearing.
I’m just about to open my mouth and yell at Kai about how giant of an idiot he is when I hear someone take a sharp inhale. I turn my head to look over my shoulder and see an older woman who’s wearing a swimsuit with a sarong tied around her waist and a handsome older man wearing a linen shirt and shorts.
“Fuck,” Kai groans under his breath while turning me in his arms and wrapping his hands around my waist.
“Svezda,” the woman whispers, looking at me. Then confusion fills her eyes as she looks at Kai.
“Mom, I would like you to meet Myla. Myla, my mother and father, Leia and Bane Jr.”
Kai’s mother’s eyes travel from Kai to me then back again, and I can see hurt in her eyes, which I don’t understand.
“Nice to meet you,” I tell her, putting my hand out in front of me.
Her eyes drop to my hand then lift to meet mine again. “Bane?” she gasps quietly, looking from my hand to her husband.
I take my eyes off her and look at him just as he’s pulling his eyes off me, but I still catch the look of sadness in his gaze.
“Kai?” I ask as his father tucks his wife into his chest when she begins to sob.
“My mom and yours were very good friends,” he tells me softly in my ear, “and you look a lot like her, so I think it’s just a shock for her to see you here.”
“My mom?” I whisper back.
I don’t have any pictures of my family. I remember my mom having long, blond hair, but that’s all I can recall about her appearance. So thinking about the fact that I might have been seeing my mother every day when I looked in the mirror is shocking.
It takes a moment for Kai’s mom to pull herself together, but when she does, her head turns towards me, and she takes a deep breath before stepping away from her husband and coming to stand in front of me. Her hand lifts and she cups my cheek as tears fill her eyes.
“I didn’t know.” She inhales and closes her eyes when her gaze meets mine again.
I’m confused by the look on her face until she speaks.
“Your mother would have been thrilled. We would joke often when you were young that you and Kai would get married. At the time, it was just wishful thinking, but seeing that her wish has come true, I know she is still watching over you.” She whispers the last part, and I hate myself a little more.
I swallow over the sudden lump in my throat and notice that Kai’s hands have tightened around me so much that I can feel every one of his muscles against my back. I try to speak, but there are no words to describe the emotions I’m feeling right now. I can’t believe that his mother and mine were friends, and I can’t believe he knew the kind of effect this situation would have on everyone yet still followed through with it. He never even gave me a choice in the matter, and I feel worse now than I ever did.
“You knew my parents?” is the first thing that comes out of my mouth, and then I feel horrible when silent tears begin to fall from her eyes.
“I did. We did. I thought…” She pauses and looks over her shoulder at her husband then brings her gaze back to me. “I believed you were dead. If I had known, I would ha—”
“Leia,” Kai’s father says, cutting her off, and comes to stand next to her. “Maxim didn’t want that.”
“But—” she tries to argue.
“No, love. It wouldn’t have been safe,” Bane says firmly, and Leia dips her chin then looks up at Kai through her long lashes.
“How did you know?” she asks him quietly.
I tilt my head back to look at Kai. His sunglasses are now sitting on top of his head again, his eyes focused on his mother.
“We always knew,” Kai tells her.
I instantly wonder what else he could be keeping from me. I first believed he was doing this to help me, but a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach is leading me to believe that this has more to do with him than me. I just can’t figure out why.
“I know you have a lot of questions, but let’s put them off for another time. Myla hasn’t eaten.”
“I’m fine,” I tell him, hoping he will relent. I have a lot of questions of my own, and maybe his mom will be able to answer them for me.
“You need to eat,” he tells me on a squeeze.
“He’s right, honey. And we’ll have plenty of time to talk when we’re planning your real wedding.”
At her words, the nausea I was feeling earlier comes back in full force, making it hard to breathe.
“That’s not necessary,” I wheeze out.
“Of course it is. I don’t understand kids these days, all of you in such a hurry to get things done that you forget you need to remember the little moments. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy you have fallen in love with my son, but as a friend of your mother’s, I know she would have wanted a big wedding, with you in a dress. I want to make that happen for her.”
I nod because I can’t say anything.
“We should find your sister. I know she will be excited to meet Myla,” Kai’s mom mutters, looking around.
“She met her earlier,” Kai states, wrapping an arm around my shoulders.
Her eyes come back to us and go soft when she sees Kai press a kiss to the side of my head, which I stupidly feel all the way down to my toes.
“We’re both glad you’re here, Myla,” Bane says, looking between Kai and me. “I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of each other.”
“We will,” I agree, and he puts his arm around his wife.
“I’m glad you’re here, Myla. I will come over soon and visit with you,” Leia promises.
“I would enjoy that very much,” I tell her, feeling my face brighten.
Without thinking, I take a step towards her and give her a hug. When her arms close around me, I feel like she is somehow a link to my parents, and I will be able to find out whatever it is I need to know. That feeling alone is worth whatever messed-up crap is going to happen.