Chapter 3 - Dirty Laundry

"I ... um ..."

Before Daniel could utter a complete sentence, Emily pulled May to her side and whispered some more information into her ear.  This time, she made sure it was just a whisper for May alone to hear.  Daniel watched as the expressions on May's face changed as Emily let on that the pregnancy stunt his ex-girlfriend pulled on him was the reason they broke up.  To wrap up everything, Emily announced specifically to May of the Best Man’s current non-attached status.

May straightened her back and sat up in her seat again.  She cleared her throat as she turned to face Daniel and finally offered him the apology he was expecting earlier.  "Sorry!" 

May noticed his quiet disposition.  When he glared at Emily with annoyance, May felt bad for him.  "If it's any consolation, I didn't think you would turn out to be the heartless irresponsible kind of guy!"

Daniel watched May bit her lips inwards and then she flashed a sorrowful pair of eyes at him.  As he had expected, in less than 3 seconds, a shy smile escaped from her eyes to her lips and formed a deep dimple at the bottom of her left cheek.  And there it was, the smile that caught his eyes on the very first day he met her in high school when he accidentally bumped into her as he rounded the corner in the hallway.  The very next day, he found out they had 7 out of 9 classes together.  And because of their similar height at the time, which was on the short side, they were either seated next to each other or close to each other.  To say he was thrilled back then was an understatement.
That evening, Daniel’s grandmother presented the diary as a gift to him before she returned to Kelowna where home was to him since he was born.  His brother, Ethan, had graduated from high school two years earlier and was transferring to third year at The University of British Columbia.  Since Daniel was starting high school, his parents thought this was a good time to have both their children live with them in Vancouver.

Daniel was his grandmother's Danny Boy.  He was more attached to his paternal grandma than to his own parents who would visit Kelowna once a month if time allowed.  She knew her youngest grandson was a prodigy of some kind, but he was also an introvert and was a very shy boy.  But she knew he had a good heart with obedience that would make parenting seemed like the easiest job in the world.  However, Grandma also knew he was not a good communicator and was never assertive in making friends.  She encouraged him to make friends with his classmates, especially the girl who smiled at him and said hello to him.  (Who else would Danny Boy be mentioning when Grandma asked how his first day of school went?) 

Grandma was hoping that life in the big city would help Danny develop his social skills and self-confidence.  Thus she thought a diary would be good for him to collect his thoughts and feelings as he sorted things out in that brilliant brain of his.  And so that night, Daniel decided he was going to make a point to talk to his Shamayim and that he would write down every word she would say to him.  Even when it was just a simple 'Hi!' with a smile.
A roll of chuckles and Ethan’s pat on the back brought Daniel out of his trance.  "My brother had always been known as the small guy with a big heart!  Some people thought he started that moving company."

Daniel cleared his throat to buy some time for himself to collect his composure.  When Tessa discovered her newest interest on his wrist, he decided to remove his outer jacket and rolled up the sleeve of his shirt.  When Tessa's attention was fully occupied by his Tag Heuer Aquaracer Chronograph watch, he said to Emily.  "Thanks for publishing my dirty laundry and for advertising my availability.  I ought to collect royalty fees from you!"

Emily made a sore-loser facial expression at him.  "It's not like she's a stranger to you.  The two of you already know each other!"  She could tell Daniel was not going to let her off the hook so easily.  Fearing he might seek revenge on her later, Emily offered him information she knew would put her back on his goody two-shoe list again.  "Okay, to be fair, May is also single and unattached!"

"Hey!"  May elbowed Emily and said to Ethan in a joking manner.  "You got to start taming your wife!  Step it up and be a Petruchio!"

“Who’s Petruchio?”  Ethan asked innocently.

"Hey!  You calling me a shrewd!"  Emily fought back but only with laughter. 

“Shakespeare!”  Daniel educated his brother.  “Taming of the Shrewd?!”

"Daniel, speaking of dirty laundry, May also broke up with her boyfriend a few months ago when she found him ..." Emily wanted to even the score by getting back at May.  

But Ethan stopped his soon-wife-to-be from finishing the sentence and gave May an apologetic look.  He relaxed when May returned an understanding smile.

Daniel happened to steal a glance at May when she turned to look at Tessa.  He didn't expect she would complete Emily's sentence, but he was glad she did. 

"I found him in bed with a bimbo when I came back a few days early from my trip."  May elaborated.  To break the silence around the table and to ease her heart's gnawing pain caused by the image of that day when she walked in on her Ex, May decided it wouldn't hurt to let Daniel know a glimpse of her relationship past.  "Anyways, Emily was always telling me to drop him, she always said he was a douche bag!"

The happy mood came back around the table and two waiters started placing multiple dishes of Dim Sum on the turn-table.  Daniel leaned in front of Tessa to whisper something to May.  "Just so you know, Emily never liked my Ex either.  And she made me promise to get her approval before I can date anyone the next time!"

"Yeah, she made me do the same as well!"  May whispered back.

"That's right!"  Emily said cheekily and then she turned and pretended she was talking to Ethan.  "And I approve!"

Ethan could not contain his amusement by the puzzling look on May and Daniel’s faces.  Emily joined Ethan in laughing without as much as a glance towards her Maid of Honor or the Best Man.
 
"You're good, Baby! I must say, you are really good!" Ethan gave her two thumbs up.
 
Watching the two lovebirds communicating secret codes thru their glances and laughter, both May and Daniel asked at the same time.  "What's so funny?!"
 
When Ethan just shook his head but continue to laugh, Daniel chided at his brother.  "Care to share?"

"Ah ... nope!  Not when I plan on making her my wife in 10 days!"  Ethan said putting his arm around Emily's shoulders.  "Besides, Emily and I have no secrets between us!  I know exactly what she's up to!"

May decided to boycott the two lovebirds.  She told Daniel to ignore them and invited him to start eating the food while she was putting some baby food out for Tessa.  "Are you okay with Dim Sum as appetizers or did you want to order some other dishes from the menu?"

Daniel did a mental count of the multiple round bamboo trays spread out on the turn table in front of them.  "You ordered 12 appetizers, how many dishes does the main course have?" 

"Nine!"  May casually glanced at him while wiping Tessa's hands.  "Did you want to order more?"

"Shall-May-Ren!  You're kidding, right?!"  When Daniel saw the look on May’s face, he had to swallow a gulp of air before he could continue to breathe.  The name just rolled off his tongue before he could catch it back.  To his surprise, there was that blush on May’s cheeks again.  He just realized how much he had missed seeing her blush like that.

"Umm…..no, no, no! I’m not kidding!  There are nine more dishes to come!"  May touched one of her cheeks with the back of her hand when she realized she was blushing.  She hadn't heard that name for more than 15 years.  Well, that was because no one else but Daniel called her by that name.  But she surprised herself that she could still be so affected by hearing that name after all these years.
 
May noticed the sparkles in Daniel's eyes when she looked up.  She told herself to say something so he wouldn't know she was blushing.  "They are small size dishes, not like the ones in those Chinese wedding banquets."

"Daniel!  What did you call her?!"  Emily asked.

Darn! Daniel thought.  He had hoped Ethan and Emily weren't paying any attention to the conversation between him and May.  But no such luck because his soon-to-be sister-in-law had hearing as sharp as those of dogs.  He looked at May who gave him a bashful smile.  She grinned, acknowledging she was aware the name was their little secret.

Emily tried a different tactic when she noticed how Daniel ignored her question.  She turned to her Maid of Honor.  "May, what did Daniel just call you?"

"Hmmm?"  May decided to play it cool by pretending to fuss over Tessa so she didn't have to look at Emily.  “He just asked how many main dishes were in our luncheon menu.”

Emily pushed May’s shoulders back against her seat and so that May had no choice but to turn around to face her.  She noticed how rosy May’s cheeks were.

"Your face ... are you blushing?"  Emily asked coyly.

"No, it's hot in here, that's all!"  May fanned herself on the neck with her two hands.  "I asked Paul to turn up the heat in this room earlier."

"Really? You are feeling hot?!"  Emily sat back and folded her arms over her chest.  "I don't feel hot in here."  She turned to Ethan.  "Do you feel hot, Honey?"

Ethan shook his head while munching on a piece of spring-roll.

Daniel offered to fill May's tea cup with Chinese tea, but she asked for the hot water instead.  Then she realized she should have asked for cold water instead when Emily gave her a questioning grin.
 
While pouring the hot water for May, Daniel noticed how Emily was giving him the look of interrogation.  After placing the pot of hot water back on the saucer plate, he braved himself to look at Emily who then sent him a smirk.
 
To avoid her teasing gaze, Daniel picked up his own teacup which held the hot Chinese tea.  While sipping the tea, he watched as Emily took hold of May's spoon.  She then proceeded to scoop an ice-cube from her orange juice and dropped it into May's hot water.  "Here you go!  This ought to help cool you down, Little Beauty!"

Daniel just about choked because the hot tea went down the wrong pipe.  He quickly placed the cup in his staggering hand back on the table as he fought to control his gagging cough.  Ethan reached over and pat him on the back.

"Are you okay, Sai Lo?"
 
No, I am not okay.  Daniel thought to himself.  He quickly stood up to shake the excess hot tea off from his shirt.  However, it was too late to stop the burning sensation on his chest caused by the scorching tea.  May was at his side with dry napkins to help, when their eyes locked, she held back and handed the napkins to him.
 
After giving May an appreciative smile, Daniel set his glare on Emily who shrugged her shoulders and mouthed him a silent 'Sorry'.  He returned an interrogating look because her smile was too cheery to be an apology.

After the waiter cleaned up the mess and replaced Daniel's place setting, he settled down into the new chair.  To prevent Emily from bring up the subject of Little Beauty, Daniel decided to dominate the conversation by asking about the events leading up to the day of the Wedding.  Emily gave both of them a binder each which held all the information of the wedding, including contact numbers, home and email addresses. 

May sat back to keep an eye on Tessa while Daniel asked the questions regarding their duties before, during and after the wedding.  She was impressed by his attention to details and how meticulous he was in his questioning to make sure they understood everything.  He was like a business man in control of the meeting.  As she watched and listened to him go over the duties on the day of the Wedding with Emily and Ethan, she couldn't help but grow fond of him by the minute.   Even more so now than when she was in high school.  She noticed he was assertive and confident, yet he seemed to still possess a certain level of shyness whenever he looked at her which made him looked adorable in her eyes. 

When he was done, he closed his binder and held it out to Emily.  "Can this go back in your bag?  You can give it to me when Ethan drops me off after lunch?"

"Um!"  Emily shook her head and pushed the binder back to Daniel.  She swallowed whatever was in her mouth and then turned to May.  "You're heading home after lunch, right?"

"Yes, Tessa needs her nap."  May looked at her watch. “In an hour!”

"Would you mind giving Daniel a ride?  He lives really close to you!”  Emily explained.  “Ethan and I need to meet Pastor Greg after lunch.  He called this morning to reschedule our appointment.  There was an unfortunate death over the weekend and he had to speak at the funeral tomorrow."

Daniel noticed right away there was an awkward expression on May's face.  He couldn't quite make out if she was hesitant or reluctant to give him a ride.  But before May got a chance to respond to Emily, he decided to speak up.  "I can always take the Skytrain!"

May turned to look him directly in his eyes and announced with a bit of hesitance.  "I think there is a Skytrain Station just two blocks from here!"

Daniel didn't know how to react but to acknowledge May with a nod.  Emily turned aghast and Ethan turned very quiet to a point where he stopped biting his food.

Ocean Deep

by Cliff Richard