Chapter 2 - Meeting the Maid of Honor

Daniel was surprised Emily had chosen to come to a super crowded Chinese Dim Sum restaurant where tons of people were waiting for a table at the entrance when they arrived.  But he was even more surprised when the General Manager recognized her right away and walked them through the crowded hall into an area where private rooms were partitioned off.

"Are you two VIPs here?"  Daniel turned to ask Ethan who was following behind but was too busy looking at his text messages to pay any attention to his younger brother’s question.

"No, but May gives me this privilege when she's here!"  Emily didn't think she needed to give the reason why May was able to grant such special privileges.

"Really?!  Does your Maid of Honor happen to be the owner of this restaurant chain?"  Daniel asked with a chuckle.  His amused tone told Emily he didn't think so, but Daniel didn't catch the ‘smirk’ she and the GM exchanged. 

In fact, he had forgotten all about his question when they entered a 500-square-foot room where one round table was elegantly set up with crystal drink-wares and gold-rimmed plates.  Next to the plates were silver-ware cutleries.  The middle of the table sat a beautiful arrangement of pine and poinsettias to reflect the upcoming Christmas season.   If he had not just walked through the busy noisy Dim Sum restaurant to get here, he would have thought they were having lunch at a five-star restaurant where French food was served.
"Wow!  Paul, May has really gone out of her way for this.  You didn't have to section off the whole room during this busy lunch hour."  Emily said to the GM.  "She could have put a few more tables out for business."

"May said it has to be the best for the bride to be!"  Paul beamed with beady, yet smiley eyes.

"Help yourself to drinks over there.  I'll get the waiter here and let May know you guys are here."

"Wow!  I didn't know you have friends of such high caliber!"  Daniel teased after Paul left the room.

Emily looked at Ethan who gave a slight nod of his head with a smile.  She turned to Daniel and gave him a stern look.  “Promise you won’t mention this to anyone, especially May, my Maid of Honor!”

Daniel nodded with apprehension.

"I didn't know she was the owner until 6 months ago.  I always thought we were given these private rooms because she knew the General Manager."  Emily explained as she took her coat off and handed it to Ethan who was hanging up his jacket in the closet by the door. "But don't bring it up because she keeps herself low profile."

Daniel decided to keep his jacket on and made his way to the bar.  "Didn't you tell me your Maid of Honor is a teacher?"

"She is!  But she's on a Leave of Absence right now."  Emily nodded to Daniel's offer to pour her a glass of orange juice.
 
A rush of noises came from the doorway and Emily turned around and saw her Maid of Honor strolling in with an 11-month old baby girl in her arms.
 
Ethan was the first to greet them with a bear hug.  They had only met a couple of times before he proposed to Emily last year.  Since then, they had been meeting a lot more often due to unfavorable circumstances surrounding May's life.  And of course, due to the upcoming wedding as well.

"Tessa!"  Emily cheered excitedly at the baby in May's arms.
When May entered the room, Daniel had his back to the entrance and his eyes were focused on the glass in one hand and the jug of orange juice in the other.  The familiar voice and laughter that filled the room caused him to put the jug down immediately.  He knew that voice, he had heard that laughter before, many, many years ago.  He placed the half-filled glass of orange juice down on the counter and slowly turned around.  Suddenly, his shoes felt like they weighed a ton and he couldn’t move.  He started to feel a chill coming up from the balls of his feet when he saw the Maid of Honor.  He had to lean back against the counter for support when he couldn't move his feet.  For the first time in his life, he thought he was experiencing the so-called cold feet syndrome.  Never in his wildest dream did he think he would be in the same wedding party as May, AKA Shamayim.

As soon as Ethan released May from his embrace, Daniel knew she was his high school classmate.  Besides her voice and laughter, he also recognized her face though he only caught her side-profile.  But he knew for certain she was the Shamayim he knew from high school. 

But Daniel wasn't about to give out this information because he didn't want Emily to know her Maid of Honor was indeed the subject of the diary she just returned to him an hour ago.  He was quite certain Emily didn't know May's legal name was Shamayim Lee.  He knew this because Ms. Brown had call her by that name for attendance check once during their very first English class back in high school.   She in turned responded by saying her name was 'May' but Daniel caught it when no one else seemed to have.  When he questioned her about the name, she told him people either pronounced her name wrong or would make fun of it.  Thus she went by the name, May.  He was the only person in high school whom she allowed to call her by her legal name.  And he had only done so quietly or when they were alone.  However, he twisted the sound a bit to call her 'Shall-May-Ren' - meaning Little Beauty in Mandarin.  The name always made May blush and Daniel liked it because it was “their thing”. 

It seemed surreal to Daniel that he was in the same room with his 'Shall-May-Ren'.  She was dressed in a casual business attire and her long silky straight black hair was tucked behind her left ear.  Her body appeared to be much slimmer than when she was a teenager, a bit too slim to have given birth to the baby in her arms.  But what did he know?  He had seen skinny Asian women whose tummy was as flat as the railroad track after giving birth.  Nonetheless, he still found her mesmerizingly attractive, still a little beauty in his eyes.  Suddenly, he felt a pang of jealousy towards the man he had yet to meet, the man who was lucky enough to father his child with her.  By looking at the mixed features of the baby girl, he figured the man was either a Caucasian or of mixed heritage like he was.

"So Ethan, where is this brother of yours?"  May asked as she placed Tessa into Emily's arms.  Right that instance, May caught a figure of a man standing across the room by the wet bar.  Her eyes met Daniel’s and surprise swept over her face instantly.  But her expression turned comical almost immediately when she recognized who he was.  She covered her mouth to hold back her shocking laughter.  She was only successful for three seconds before she blurted his name in between her laughter.  "Danny?!  You ... you ... you are ... the Best Man?!  You are Ethan's brother?!"
Daniel cleared his throat to make certain he wouldn’t sound like a girl with a high pitch voice.  "That’s what my parents told me!"  He finally spoke and then an uncontrollable twinkle escaped his right eye.  "Hard to believe we both came from the same pool of genes just by our looks, huh?!"

May gave him a quick overall glance and the smile in her eyes communicated she liked what she was seeing.  He was taller and much more muscular than how she had remembered him from 15 years ago.  She took in his clean shaven facial appearance which still held a good percentage of the youthful features she remembered when they were in high school.  However, his skin tone was no longer fair but just a shade off the golden tan.  May figured it must have been a result from hanging out on the beaches in LA.  Just looking at him in his casual apparel of a simple white shirt under his brown leather sport jacket was enough to make her want to ogle longer.  But she couldn't.  There was so much she didn't know about him, yet so much she knew as well.  Like the fact that there was a girlfriend, or perhaps a fiancée now, in the picture.

"Well, your set of genes is just as ggg…uh good!"  She was about to say good looking but held her tongue back.  “You’re so tan now!”

She had always been attracted to his looks even back in high school.  But then so did a lot of other girls.  To May, he was the only student with good looks and good grades.  He was also good in sports and was on the basketball team which earned him the yearly athletic award for 5 years in a row.  Though he was considered a bit on the short side in junior high for a basketball player, his lack of height and small built gave him the advantage in maneuvering around the court like a road runner.  But it was his personality and character that made him well-liked among his peers and the teachers.  However, May was most attracted to him by the fact that he was always able to make her laugh with his teases whenever they were together.  That was until he became friends with people she did not like during the last two years of high school. 

Upon seeing her bright joyful smile, Daniel couldn't keep his own joy from bubbling over.  However, he didn't think it was appropriate to give her a hug right there and then.  Even if he wanted to, his two hands seemed to be glued inside his pockets and he suddenly didn’t know how to maneuver his arms when she approached him.

"It's good to see you again!"  May said with a tint of reservation that sparked from her eyes. 
It was her extended hand in front of him that finally made him take his right hand out from his pocket to shake hers.  Smooth, Danny, real smooth.  He chastised himself.  Then he relaxed when their handshake created a moment of focus.  And mixed messages were communicated when they looked at each other in the eyes.

"You guys know each other?!"  Ethan was the first to ask after seeing no introduction was needed between the Best Man and the Maid of Honor.

"We went to high school together!"  May exclaimed when she turned around to take Tessa back into her arms.  "But we belonged to different circles of friends.  He thought my friends were nerdy!"

"I did not!"  Defended Daniel while watching May blow kisses into the baby's palm, causing the baby to giggle adorably.

Ethan and Emily laughed as May insisted Daniel’s friends were rowdy back when they were in high school.  But Daniel tried to come up with a line to clear his reputation from way back then. 

After blowing another set of kisses into Tessa's tiny palm, May finally threw Daniel a sideway grin and said.  "Okay, maybe not you, but your friends did."  Then May turned to face Ethan and Emily.  "I do vaguely recall him saying we were the intelligent bunch way back when."

"Then what did your friends call his friends?"  Emily asked out of curiosity.

"We were known as the cool bunch!"  Daniel emphasized his description by flipping the collar of his jacket which earned him more laughter, even a bout of giggles from Tessa who suddenly leaned towards him, wanting him to carry her.
 
May snorted a 'Please' gesture as she placed Tessa into his arms.  "Yeah, but mostly made of bullies and bitches!"  Surprised at the look of agreement on Daniel's face, she turned to Ethan and Emily.  "He was the only exception!  The rest of his gang were all no good-doers!"

"Were you two even friends back in high school?"  Ethan wondered when May’s description of the two groups seemed more like water and oil.  He gave his brother a pat on the back.  "If you had hung around friends like May in high school, perhaps Mom and Dad would have let you stayed in Vancouver!"

"We were in a lot of classes together."  May answered without considering what Ethan said and then started to lead the way towards the table when she noticed the food was being brought in by the waiters.  "We were also in the school band and saw each other a lot in the gym during practices."

"We were both on the basketball team."  Daniel added and walked towards the high chair with the booster seat for Tessa. 

"A Co-Ed basketball team?"  Ethan raised a teasing brow with a smirk.

"No!"  Daniel gave his brother a scowl which brought on a few chuckles from Emily and May.

"Well, we did have a few Co-ed practice sessions!"  May looked at Daniel. “Do you remember?”
Oh yeah!  Daniel remembered them like they happened last night.  When May saw the tint of red warming his cheeks, that was all the cue she needed to know he remembered.  However, she wondered if he was thinking what she was thinking, about that moment in time when they almost kissed in the gym equipment room.  Instantly, May’s thoughts were brought back to the numerous times when Emily had vented her frustration about how Daniel’s girlfriend wanted to be in the wedding party. May came to her own conclusion, that ‘almost kissed incident’ wouldn't be in Daniel’s memories.
 
"Yeah, those were really fun times!"  Daniel smiled innocently at her before placing Tessa in the booster seat while Ethan and Emily commented on how fun those Co-ed practices must have been.
 
When Daniel took his seat next to May, Tessa started to fuss and cry.   Emily tried to coo the crying baby.  "Why Tessa, don't you want your sister and I to feed you?"
 
May also tried to coo the baby and noticed Tessa kept leaning her body towards Daniel.  "You want to sit next to Danny Gor Gor, is it?"
  
Daniel suddenly felt a strong mixture of shock and warmth in his stomach.  It started from a spark upon hearing that May was a sister to Tessa.  He questioned himself as to why he assumed May was the mother when the baby bore no resemblance to her whatsoever.  Then the spark ignited a glow which brought on the warmth in his heart when May called him Danny.  She was the only one who used to call him by that name.  Well, aside from his grandmother.

"Sister?!"  He voiced his shock.

May turned to look at him with resignation.  "Yeah, I tell people my Dad took a lot of Chinese herbs which kept him very, very, active!  But it also resulted in a heart attack shortly before my half-sister was born!"
 
Still shocked by the info that was just given to him, he watched as May got up from her seat and lifted Tessa's chair.  As soon as she placed Tessa next to him, the baby was bubbling with giggles.  May gave Daniel a grin.  "Your lucky day!  You get to feed her!"

"Good practice for you, Daniel!"  Emily said with an enthusiastic smile when May handed him a small Tupperware of Cheerios.
 
May remembered the numerous conversations when Emily used to vent her frustration about how the Best Man's pregnant girlfriend wanted to be in every wedding photo.  Emily didn't like the idea of her bulging stomach, but May knew that was just an excuse.  It was rather obvious Emily didn't like the idea of them.

"That's right!  You and your girlfriend, or is it wife now?  You guys are expecting a baby soon, right?!"  Then May looked into Daniel’s eyes and asked.  "Why didn't you bring her along today?"

"Um...?"  Daniel uttered a sound in a questionable fashion and stared blankly at May.  He was too stunned to say anything else.  He then watched as Emily elbowed May to whisper something in her ear that was not meant as a whisper at all.

"Sorry, I forgot to mention he broke up with her a few months ago!"

When May turned around again to look at Daniel, he was expecting something in the form of an apology.  But he certainly wasn't expecting a pair of brown eyes shooting out the look of disgust at him.  "You dumped your girlfriend after getting her pregnant?!"

I Can't Believe my Eyes - by Air Supply