“Hey, Pika,” I say when I open the door to our room and find him leaning against the wall across the hall.
“Kai asked me to take you to the dining room.”
I nod and begin to follow him down the hall. Things have gotten a little easier between Pika and me, but I still hate the look of pity I sometimes see on his face when he’s looking at me. I guess it helps that he doesn’t talk much, and honestly, half the time, I forget he is even around.
“Did you have a good night off?” I ask, trying to fill the silence between us.
His eyes come to me over his shoulder, and he shrugs. “Didn’t do much,” he grumbles then turns around and continues walking.
“Sounds like fun,” I mutter then bite the inside of my cheek, wondering why the hell I said that.
Normally, Aye is with us, so it’s easier to deal with Pika and his cold demeanor. He seems like an all right guy—if you like the silent, broody type who would be more inclined to watch paint dry than to talk to you.
We walk the rest of the way in silence, and as soon as we make it just to the entrance of the dining room, I hear my mom ask if I’m coming and Kai tell her that I was getting out of the shower when he left the room. I duck my head and fight back a blush that is getting ready to take over my face, remembering what I did.
When we enter the dining room, I take in my mom, who is sitting next to the large open doors that lead out to a balcony. If you didn’t know any better, you would think I’m her biological child. We have the same blond hair and blue eyes, and she is also tall and lean.
My dad is sitting at the table with a newspaper open in front of him. He shaved his hair off when I was fifteen and hasn’t grown it back since. He is also tall, but his body is larger, and where he used to be fit, his body has started to go soft with age. His dark-brown eyes meet mine and he smiles, pushing back from the table and coming towards me.
“There’s our girl,” he says quietly, wrapping me up in a hug.
“Hey, Dad,” I reply just as softly, wrapping my arms around his back while soaking in one of his wonderful hugs—one of my favorite things in the world.
“You doin’ okay this morning?”
“I am.” I lean back and smile up at him.
His face goes soft, and he leans in and kisses my forehead.
“I can’t get over how beautiful you have become,” my mom whispers.
I turn towards her just as she engulfs me in a hug. Even though she said the same thing yesterday when we picked them up from the airport, my head soars from hearing her words. I hadn’t realized just how much I missed them. They are the only parents I have ever known, and there was never a moment growing up that they didn’t make me feel welcome and loved.
“I’m happy you’re here,” I whisper back honestly.
“You know, wherever you are in the world, if you needed me, honey, I would go through hell to make it to you.”
A sob climbs up my throat. I know she is telling the truth, and that is why I have always tried to protect both my parents. The thought of something happening to them because of what their son has done has always made me fearful.
“Don’t cry. We’re here now.” She holds me tighter then whispers in my ear, “Your husband looks like he’s going to murder someone. I don’t think he likes it when you cry.”
I pull my face away from her chest, and my gaze collides with Kai’s. “I’m okay.” I wipe my face with a tissue my dad hands me.
Kai comes over to me and wraps an arm around my waist before kissing the side of my head. “I was telling your mom about our shark diving trip.” He looks down at me and smiles.
“I told him about when you were little and you were fascinated with the ocean but how the closest you ever got to sea life was at the aquarium,” Dad says.
“Dad used to tease me about him having to work more hours just to afford my obsession with the aquarium.” I smile at the memory.
“I loved having that time with you,” my dad says then looks at Kai. “My sons were always doing one sport or another, and life was always hectic. It was nice to spend a quiet afternoon once a month with a little girl who wanted nothing more than to sit in the observatory of the aquarium, watching the fish swim around.”
“I loved that time with you too—just as much as I liked helping you in the bakery on Saturdays when I got older,” I tell him.
“You were always a good kid.” He looks at me with eyes full of sadness then takes my mom’s hand. “I don’t know what we did, but whatever it is, we’re sorry. We tried to be good parents.”
“Oh God,” I choke out. “You didn’t do anything,” I get out around the lump in my throat. “You were amazing parents—the best. I just… I just…” I pause, not knowing what to say. There is no way to explain to them why I left home and never looked back without calling out their son, and I’m not willing to risk telling them what he did to me.
“I know there is much to talk about, but if we could put all of that off until another time, I would be grateful. Myla has been very stressed since we got married, and I really don’t want my wife to spend the first few weeks of our marriage depressed,” Kai says.
My face goes soft, and I lean deeper into his side.
“This should be a happy time for us, makamae,” he adds, tilting his head down towards me.
I look up at him in wonder and know that this is one more reason why I could fall in love with him so easily. He has a way of reading me that no one has ever had before.
“I agree,” my mom says quietly, and my eyes go to her. She is looking up at Kai with her eyes shining. “We have plenty of time to talk about everything. Let’s just have a good time while we’re here.”
“Thanks, Mom,” I whisper.
She smiles at me and reaches out to gently hold my cheek before dropping her hand to her side.
“I, for one, am starving,” my dad chimes in, and the energy in the room becomes lighter.
Kai presses another kiss to the side of my head then leads me over to the table and pulls out a chair for me before taking a seat at my side.
“Thank you,” I whisper, looking at him when the servers come in to take the breakfast orders.
He leans in and I tilt my head back without thinking, accepting his kiss. When our lips part, his eyes stay locked on mine and the look I have been trying to decipher appears on his face again before he turns away, not giving me a chance to figure it out.