“Oh, it’s right over there,” I said pointing. “I’ll wait in dairy for you, it’s in that back corner.” He moved off with a nod and I watched him for a moment before grabbing a cart and heading for the milk. He look almost out of place here, this is where I had done all my shopping for as long as I could remember. The store had never changed in all that time, so I had the same odd feeling I had in my room. Coming back pregnant and with a husband. Huh.
When I got to the milk I chuckled to myself while looking at the prices. I had become so used to thinking in yen instead of dollars. And when had everything gotten so expensive? Wow I’m thinking like a mom already. I had always thought my mom was cheap, now I understand. I laughed a little and grabbed the best deal, as I placed it in my cart a voice spoke up behind me.
“(Well now, I must be seeing things. I thought you ran away a long time ago.)” That voice. His voice. I froze, it was a voice I only heard in my nightmares, and even those stopped as soon as I met Hatori.
“(Eric?)” my voice was barely more than a whisper. I couldn’t turn around even if I wanted to. Hatori, where is Hatori? I need him, now.
“(Who else? You aren’t expecting someone else are you?)” Eric said darkly, hinting that if the answer was yes there would be hell to pay. He slowly strutted into my vision, and despite my better judgment my eyes snapped up to meet his. No, I need to be stronger than this.
“(And what if I was? It’s not any concern of yours, hasn’t been for three years,)” I said with more confidence then I felt. His eyes narrowed at the reminder.
“(What’s with the accent?)” he asked suddenly. Accent? Do I have an accent now? Well I guess that makes sense… anyway that’s not the point.
“(What do you want?)” I snapped ignoring his question.
“(I think you know. You ran off before we could work things out. Now that you’re back in town why don’t you come to my place,)” he said in what he thought was a sexy voice, but once you’ve heard Hatori’s purr nothing else can measure up.
“(Screw you,)” I said and reached out to grab the cart. His hand shot out, grabbed my wrist and pulled it into the air shaking it a little near his face. I felt extremely vulnerable, not only did I just lose a hand to defend with, he’s pretty tall so my arm was stretched high leaving my side exposed.
“(What is this Inora?)” his voice rising slightly. Then I realized, he had my left hand, my wedding ring waving in front of his face. Hatori, please, help me.
Everything seems backwards here. I’ve never fully appreciated what Inora had to go through when she first got to Japan until now. People that worked there, I could tell from the uniform, kept asking me things. I did notice that a lot of them were women. I would smile kindly and tell them that “(I don’t speak English)” at least I hope I’m saying it right. Inora had just told me on the plane ride over. I finally got to where I could see dairy type items and quickly spotted Inora… with a man. He was standing awfully close to her. Figures, I look away for one second and someone’s already hitting on her. She’s too beautiful for her own good. Then I saw it, his hand reaching out to grab her wrist, wrench it up in the air and him shouting a question at her.
My blood went past boiling into super nova territory. It seemed like I was right behind him before I even had a conscious thought to move. Inora… I’ve never seen her like this. She was shaking, head bowed in submission, and her right arm was wrapped around her stomach. An instinctual effort to protect our baby. I hadn’t realized that I could become any more livid, but I just did.
“Take your hands off my wife,” my voice was low and dangerous. Even if he couldn’t understand my words there was no mistaking my meaning. He dropped her hand instantly and she snapped it back quickly to wrap around her stomach, other than that her pose didn’t change. He was saying things, he was angry, I didn’t care. My better sense was telling me that he had let go and that we should just leave, but the rest of me was crying for his punishment. I glanced back to Inora and saw it, the red marks on her wrist that I could tell were going to bruise.
My fist connected so forcibly with his face he was sent backwards into the clear doors in front of the milk. He was stunned for a moment, and then he righted himself and started shouting. I could make out the swear words, Inora used them enough. I walked over to Inora and gently grabbed her hand, she flinched at first which simply broke my heart, but she slowly looked up and relaxed when she saw it was me. She stepped closer and pressed herself into my side. She was still shaking a little.
“Don’t even think about touching my wife again,” I said in the same threatening voice. I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and his eyes lingered on my wedding ring before snapping to hers then to my face. A man in a suit, I’m guessing a manager, rushed up and started trying to sort things out. Inora gave our names to the man, said something about Japanese while gesturing to me, and started to explain. Fear crossed the face of the man I just punched and he got up rather quickly and ran off.
“I can guarantee he knows he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. And if the cops get called…” she trailed off. A few minutes later the manager left, taking out his phone as he went.
“So what happened?” I asked.
“I told him what happened and gave him Eric’s name. He said he would inform the police and that he believed us. Basically I doubt we’re gonna have to deal with anything else seeing as he ran away,” she said monotone.
“Are you ok?” I asked rubbing her shoulder a little.
“Yeah. Come on let’s get this shopping done.” She moved through the store quickly throwing things in the cart without looking at them too hard. I kept scanning the area around us, just in case. I wanted to know exactly what happened but I could understand that she didn’t want to explain it all here. From what I could tell he had been upset at the thought of her married. But why would that be, old boyfriend perhaps? It seems hard to believe that anyone who has dated Inora would let her go willingly. Through my thoughts I barely noticed that we checked out then got in the car to go home. She pulled into the driveway and I helped her with the groceries. Silently. It was all silently, and it was starting to worry me.
“Dan?” she called as soon as we got in. Dan came in and immediately noticed that something was wrong. She explained what happened, and he became angrier and angrier the more she went on. He asked a question, looking at me, and she shook her head. Then he said something softer and took the bags from me. She set hers down and led me up to her room.
“Ok. Sit with me, this will take a while,” she said after closing the door. I moved to sit with her on the bed and she took a deep breath before beginning. “First of all I’m sorry for not telling you this sooner, I didn’t think it would come up again so there was no point. That person, if you can call him that, was Eric. I dated him for two years. He hadn’t always been a jerk, or at least he hid it. I met him soon after my parents died, and he was a comfort. More in the way that he took my mind off of it than anything else.
“As time went by I did see little glimpses of what he was really like but I had grown to almost depend on him in some weird way. It’s like I thought that if I left him there would be nothing to fill the hole my parents left. He just kept getting…well… crazier. Finally one day he punched me because… I wouldn’t have sex with him. I left him but he showed up the next day being all sweet like I remembered him being when I first met him.
“And I’m sorry to say, that happened two more times. Then I told Dan and let him answer the door that last time. Eric… sort of went insane. He called all the time, parked in front of our house. We got a restraining order and he broke into the house. After Dan got through with him he was happy to go with the police. Meanwhile I was going to therapy… anyway after about a year the therapist said I should be fine not going anymore and showed me a website for an exchange program. And you know the rest.”
“So… you left him a year before you came to Japan? And for that year you were in therapy?” I asked. I just had to be sure… I didn’t want to think I had come into her life before she had fully healed.
“Yes don’t worry. You weren’t the rebound guy. If anyone was the rebound it was Shigure…”
“It’s just hard to believe. You always seemed ready to open up to anyone. Usually people in your case would have built walls around their hearts,” I said grabbing her hand.
“I swore to myself that I wouldn’t let him change who I was before I met him. It’s true, I didn’t trust anyone for a while besides Dan but I worked through it,” she smiled. Yet another reason why she is such a strong woman today.
“God I love you. And I’ve never wanted to murder someone so much in my life,” I said.
“Yeah, by the way, remind me to never get on your bad side,” she laughed.
“I don’t think there’s a way for you to be on my bad side.”
“So you aren’t upset that I never told you?” she asked.
“No. Like you said it was in your past, I can understand you not wanting to tell me. Though I still wish you had,” I said. I wanted to be honest with her.
“Um, you should also know that that’s probably why I was with Shigure. It was nice having someone who found me attractive. You know?”
“Let me guess Eric told you that no one else would ever want you?” I asked, fearing the answer. She nodded. My hatred for that man just doubled. I pulled her in my arms and rubbed her back the way I knew she found soothing and she began to cry into my chest. I just feel so helpless, what can I do for her? Nothing really but be here for her. But that doesn’t seem like enough. I felt my eyes stinging and didn’t even try to hold back the tears. Dan poked his head in the door and took in the sight before him with a soft smile then said something.
“Dan says that… you’re a good man and that he is so happy that you are in his family now,” Inora said softly.
“He took the words right out of my mouth,” I said. She laughed lightly and told him. He came and patted me on the back and said something else that caused Inora to blush brightly and order him out.
“Idiot,” she muttered at the door.
“What did he say?”
“He said that… he would sleep with headphones in tonight,” she blushed brighter. I laughed, hard. That man was as blunt as a bowling ball. And I was thankful to him, he lightened the mood so I could talk to her about other things. It seemed so soon that it was late and both of our minds were a million miles away from Eric.
“I love you,” I said once we had decided to go to bed.
“I love you too,” she said and kissed me. It turned out that it was a good thing Dan was wearing headphones that night.
(A/N): Ahhh! I tried to make it longer. I did. But according to my outline that’s all that goes in this chapter… but at least it was more interesting than the last one no? Anyway I hope you liked it! Tell me if you like this new twist or not! ;)