Chapter 30 - You Take My Breath Away

Ah Man’s father, Man Kwok Thai, paced back and forth in his prison cell like a nervous wreck.  Though he was behind bars, he felt like a free man once again.  Eventhough his freedom would only be for one hour.  He was looking forward to it and wanted nothing more than to be able to walk his only daughter down the aisle and to give her his blessings.

“Are you ready?” One of the two prison guards came to unlock his cell.  They were also the ones in charge of escorting him to and from the wedding ceremony.

“Yes, Sir!” he answered humbly.
Outside the prison gate, Ah Man waited for her father inside a limo.  When he arrived and sat next to her, she got all emotional and tears were starting to form in her eyes.

“No, no, no,” Mr. Man comforted his daughter and pulled out his handkerchief from the breast pocket of his new suit.  “Yuen Lan, you mustn’t cry.  You are going to be the prettiest bride today.  So you mustn’t cry.”

“That’s right.  You don’t want Chi Shan to see a pair of panda eyes now, do you?”  Kwan played her role as the Maid of Honor. 

Fei almost stopped her from fulfilling this role when he learned that she would be riding to the chapel with a criminal.  But Kwan assured him that she would be safe and that Mr. Man would have no chance of hurting anyone because the guards would be riding with them.  After much convincing, Fei relented.  But he made Kwan promise to wear a tiny bugging device that allowed him to tune in wherever she was.

After they reached the chapel, Mr. Man walked his daughter down an empty quiet narrow aisle.  Kwan was walking in front of them and the two guards were behind them.  At the end of the hallway, Lok Kin Yip, Mr. Man’s ex-business partner was standing there looking at the approaching parties with a smile.
Mr. Lok was an uncle figure to Ah Man after her mother died.  He treated Ah Man like his own daughter because of his former affair with her mother which led to her suicide.  Ah Man had asked him to walk her down the aisle in respect of her late mother whom Ah Man now believed was truly loved by Mr. Lok when her mother was alive.  As she was growing up, Ah Man was fed the wrong impression of Uncle Lok by the lies her own father had told her.  Today, Mr. Lok felt honored to be here and it brought him great joy and comfort to be able to walk her down the aisle.

Upon reaching the end of the hallway, Mr. Man realized that it didn’t matter what rank his soon-to-be Son-in-law held, it wouldn’t matter even if the Queen of England was here.  There was no way a prisoner would ever be allowed to enter such a holy place for the safety of all who were there.  Grace was given to him to watch his daughter get married.  However, he was to watch from a distance, without participation.

Yet, when Mr. Man saw his ex-business partner, the man whom he believed destroyed his marriage and family; hatred began to fill his heart once again.  His pride and arrogance overtook him.  Instead of feeling remorse for trying to kill Mr. Lok and for the mistakes he made in the past, he once again caved into vengeance.  As soon as Kwan saw the oncoming rage from his eyes, she quickly signaled the two guards to take hold of him.   
Fei heard the commotions in his earpiece as the guards struggled to keep Mr. Man at bay.  He immediately left Chi Shan’s side and rushed to where Kwan was near the bridal room. 

Chi Shan noticed the urgency on Fei’s expression and decided to run after him.  Korean who had just stepped up to the mic was the next to follow and that was when everyone in the sanctuary wondered what was happening.  No one knew there was a prisoner in the building, not even Korean who was the Master of Ceremony.  This privilege information was only for the bride and groom, with the exception of the Maid of Honour and her husband, the Best Man.

When they got to the scene, Fei held Kwan back behind him for her protection, away from Ah Man who had Chi Shan to protect her.  Then he and Korean guarded Mr. Lok just in case Mr. Man act out his revenge. 

When Ah Man realized what was happening, she knew it was too late.  She tried to call after her father but she could only managed to calm him down long enough for him to apologize to her.  “I am sorry, Yuen Lan.  I have failed you as a father.”

In tears, Ah Man pleaded.  “No Dad.  It’s not too late.  As long as you are willing to let go of the hatred, you can still turn yourself around.  Just let it go.  Uncle Lok has already forgiven you.”

Mr. Man looked into his daughter’s eyes.  “I can’t.  I have lived in this hatred for too long.  I don’t know how to live outside of it.”  He then turned to Chi Shan who was holding Ah Man back.  “Chi Shan, I hand my daughter to you.  Take good care of her.”

“I will.”  Chi Shan promised.

Then Chi San nodded to the two guards to take Mr. Man away.  The bride was hoping to seat her father at the very back of the sanctuary, she now knew this would not be so.  When Chi Shan was certain Ah Man was able to handle the reality, he said to the guards.  “Take him upstairs to the media room as originally planned.”

Fifteen minutes later, Korean returned to the pulpit to resume his MC duties.  When he noticed the intense ambience among the guests, Fei happened to step out from behind the stage and stood next to Chi Shan as his best man.   So Korean took this opportunity and turned it into an ice-breaker.  “No worries, everyone!  The wedding ceremony is about to start.  Fei had to rush in to use the washroom just now!”

That brought laughter from the guests and the mood shifted from solemn to cheery once again.  Fei immediately sent Korean a glare, but a smile escaped when he realized Chi Shan was looking at him.  “Don’t worry!  It’s your wedding, I will give you face.  I won’t punch him today.”

And so with a smile from Chi Shan to Korean, the wedding ceremony began.  It was indeed a lovely wedding and everything went as planned.  No surprises at all throughout the entire ceremony.  The only unexpected part was when Kwan had to excuse herself twice to go to the washroom during the 40-minute ceremony.  She had to ask Fei to hold the bridal bouquet during the ring exchange so she could excuse herself a second time.  Fei felt awkward taking on the role to adjust the bride’s train when Kwan didn’t make it back in time.  Chi Shan chuckled at him and Ah Man giggled because the sight of him holding the bridal bouquet while fixing her bridal gown was simply beyond description, in a good way.  It was rather comical and the guests thought so too.
After the pronouncement of the newlywed couple, Chi Shan and Ah Man turned around to face the sanctuary.  The first thing they did was look up to the media room where Mr. Man was being excorted out.  When he saw his daughter and son-in-law looking at him, he gave them a very endearing smile.  That was the last glance Ah Man had of her father on her wedding day. 

While the newlywed couple was busy with the photoshoot, Fei caught a glimpse of his wife walking out of the sanctuary alone and decided to follow her.  When they got to the reception hall, he noticed she was going from one food table to another and nothing seemed to please her majesty the queen’s appetite.  When he couldn’t hold his amusement any longer, he stepped up beside her.

“What kind of Maid of Honor are you?” He flashed her one of his dimple smile.  She was too hungry to be captivated by his irresistible charm, so she ignored him.  “Aren’t you supposed to be by Ah Man’s side all the time?”

Kwan remembered her duties and made a pouty face for her husband and reluctantly started to walk back towards the sanctuary.  Just before approaching the main entrance, a sudden urge caused her behavior to flip 180 degree towards Fei.  “Darling hubby, I saw a bakery not too far down the street.  Can you go and buy us some White Sugar Rice Cakes?” (白糖糕)
“White Sugar Rice Cakes?!”  Fei looked at her with a teasing smirk. “Don’t tell me now that you are married, you are not concerned about gaining weight.”

Once again, Kwan gave a dejected pout and mumbled under her breath.  “I’m gonna gain it regardless, might as well eat to my heart content now!”

Fei did a double take on what she said, he couldn’t be certain his ears heard right.  Well, they heard correctly; however, the words did not register in his brain.  Then Kwan’s pout turned into a spoiling smile, just the way she knew he couldn’t resist.  “Please hubby.  It won’t take long.  There’s no White Sugar Rice Cakes here.  We have this urge to eat White Sugar Rice Cakes.”

Kwan pleaded and pushed her husband towards the direction of the front door.  Fei had already caved into her request, but he still bargained for a kiss first.  After getting what he wanted, he headed towards the front door of the church when something like a huge hammer hit his ‘Der-brain’.  He turned around immediately but his wife was already half way down the aisle heading towards the bride and groom and all their guests.

“Kwan!”  He shouted across the sanctuary.  Once again, as if he was competing for the 100 meters in the Summer Olympics, he dashed towards her in a nick of time.

Kwan turned around and saw the enlightened look on her husband’s face as he came running towards her.  If only that was the reaction he gave her the very first time he heard the news on that cold November night, then she wouldn’t have had cried so many tears.  But she figured it was better late than never, so she stopped in her steps and smiled at him.  But Kwan wasn’t the only one who heard Fei shouting her name, everyone in the sanctuary did.  They all turned around and watched as he came running up the aisle and swept his wife off her feet.
“We have the urge…you…you…you didn’t…”  Fei whispered breathlessly into Kwan’s ear.

“Shhhhh!”  Kwan hushed her husband.  Somehow she sensed they were being watched at this precise moment and she didn’t want to take the limelight away from the bride and groom.  She also didn’t want anyone to know she was expecting a baby yet.  However, she knew exactly what her husband meant and she whispered excitedly in to his ear.  “Yes!….No! … I didn’t! Now let me down!”

Fei let Kwan down on her feet but he held her in a tight embrace.  “Our baby … I’m…..I’m going to be a father?”

“Yes, only if you don’t take away my breath and cut off my circulation.”  Kwan chuckled with happy tears and tried to squeeze some words out while fighting to catch some air into her lungs.

Realizing what he was doing, he immediately released her from his embrace; but then he swept her up in his arms again to take her away from the sanctuary.   When Kwan wrapped her arms around his neck, he nudged the nap of her neck and whispered.  “You just took my breath away!  I can’t believe I’m going to be a father!”  And when Kwan continued to hush him and told him to let her down, he claimed her mouth with his.

Then an old familiar voice came over the microphone.  “Hey!  This is not your wedding!  And there are children here!  Get yourself a room, will you!”

You Take My Breath Away

by Rex Smith