The You I Never Knew

© [dramalovers26/Cheng26] 2008. All rights reserved. Distribution of any kind is prohibited without the written consent of dramalovers26/Cheng26].

Disclaimer! The following is a work of Fiction. The events and characters
are fictional and the celebrity names/images are merely borrowed and do not
represent who the celebrity is in real life.
Ariel Lin, Joe Cheng, Zai Zai (Vic Zhou), Ruby Lin, Alan, Ambrose hsu

Chapter 1

In all her twenty-one years of life; Ariel Lin has only two regrets. The first regret was the day she decided to go swimming and it wasn’t even a really hot day; of all the days to go swimming she chose THAT particular day even though her father had wanted her to stay home... normally her father was easy going and did not mind if Ariel goes out occasionally, but he was adamant that she stay home that day and she did not listen.

The second regret was the day she met Joe Cheng…by the lake on that swimming day that should never have been. If she did not go swimming that day, she would not have met HIM…and she wouldn’t be sitting in the doctor’s office now with this heart wrenching, terrifying news.“You’re pregnant.” The doctor beamed at Ariel Lin with the news.

“I’m pregn…pregnant?” Ariel uttered in shock. The doctor nodded, he loves giving young parents the good news.
Ariel nodded as the doctor continues talking; however she was in such a daze that the doctor’s words went in one ear and out the other. The only part she heard loud and clear was, “You’re pregnant”.
Ariel felt conflicted with her emotions, she was single and pregnant without a clue of Joe Cheng’s whereabouts. Ariel quickly left the clinic after the doctor prescribes her a bottle of prenatal pills. I can’t tell dad I’m pregnant! He’ll go ballistic…but he’s a doctor so he’ll find out sooner or later. Where should I go from here? What should I do? Ariel signed deeply, she has no clues what to do next.

Joe promised he would come back for her, but after waiting for over two months there was still no sign of him. On the day that they both agreed to meet again, Ariel waited for him by the lake where they had first met. She waited, and waited…until it was so dark she had a hard time finding her way home. She went back the next day and waited for him, hoping that he was just delayed…but everyday without signs of him, a little hope died until all the hope Ariel held on to faded.

Ariel scolded herself for being stupid; she was played by Joe Cheng. One look at him and she should have known he was a player!

The first time Ariel met Joe, she never entertained the thought that he was a flirt…, he appeared to be sincere and seems to really enjoy her company.
Oh, why did I fall for him? Ariel looks up at the sky and asked,
“Why did I meet him? Somebody’s playing a joke on me from up there and it’s time to stop!”

Now that she looks back, Ariel truly believes the saying, opposites attracts. Joe was the total opposite from her; he lives life on the fast lane, wandering around the world as a young upcoming photographer and she…well, she’s a small town miss goody two shoes in training to be a nurse with her father as her mentor.

 Like a magnet they were attracted to each other the moment they met; in Joe Ariel saw the possibilities of being wild and letting go of all worries and just enjoying the moment. In Ariel, Joe saw the possibilities of slowing down, and appreciating the beauty of living in one place. Ariel suddenly realized Joe and her were like moths. Moths are attracted to fire…but the attraction could be deadly…they get burned every single time. Ariel signed deeply again. Yeah, in my case…I got burned, pregnant out of wedlock and only twenty one years old without a job…ain’t life grand?


Ariel rummages through everything in her room. She remembers Joe giving her a card with his personal information. I’m keeping this baby no matter what and whether he likes it or not, he’s the baby’s daddy, so he has half the responsibilities! Ariel repeated to herself as she continues with her search.

“Ah huh! Found it!” Ariel shouted in joy. She finally found his business card; Ariel quickly read what Joe wrote on the back of the card.

Whenever you need me and I’m not with you, please contact this place. Joe quickly scrawled an address and phone number.
Could this be his home? Ariel wondered. It doesn’t matter, she needed to find him before her stomach starts showing.

Ariel left the small mountain village and took a cab to the heart of Taiwan, the city of Taipei. Kai Lin, Ariel’s father was not happy with her constant visits to the big city, but was assured when Ariel told him she promised to bring back all the herbs he had requested. After a long ride, the cab finally stopped. Ariel looks out from the window and saw a nice two story house with roses around the fence. She doubled check the address making sure it was correct before stepping out of the cab. This better be the correct address! Ariel thought, she was running low on cash. Ariel quickly rings the door bell; after a few rings someone opened the door. Ariel saw an older petite feminine version of Joe Cheng. This must be his mother! Ariel quickly smiled and introduced herself.

“My name is Ariel Lin, I’m a friend of Joe Cheng…is he home?” The older woman widened her eyes and muttered, “What?”

Ariel repeated herself,

“I’m here to see Joe Cheng”. Suddenly tears welled up in the woman’s eyes and she started sobbing. A young man with some similiar facial feature to Joe walked up to the door and put his arms around the older woman.

“Mom, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Vic… Zai Zai, this girl here, she wants to see Joe.” She said through her tears.

“I’m sorry, you must not have heard; my brother died a month ago.” Vic said sadly. Ariel thought she heard wrong, she asked,

“What did you say?”

“My brother, Joe…he’s dead.”

Ariel felt sudden dizziness, everything was spinning really fast and she couldn’t stop herself from falling to the floor. It can’t be….it can’t be! Ariel kept repeating as she fell.

“Oh my! She fainted!” Vic’s mom shouted.

Nina Cheng stares intensely at the girl on her son’s bed. She wonders who this girl was and how she found their address. Joe was always very protective of the family’s private lives. Even when his photographs brought an onslaught of media attention and controversial topics, the privacy of his family was never interrupted because no one knew where he lived.

Asides from Joe’s often controversial photographs and articles, he also had a reputation as a wanderer and a ‘bad boy’ because of his on again and off again relationships with several high celebrities…the most recent one before his death was with supermodel Selina. Nina was curious, this girl look very different from all the other women Joe has been with in the past. Sleeping on the bed, the girl appears to be very innocent and there was an air of sweetness about her…almost pure. Nina wondered how in the world her womanizer son met someone so completely different from him.

Nina took a step back when Ariel groans. Ariel quickly sat up from the bed and looked around, everything looked very unfamiliar. She saw Nina standing by the doorway with an anxious look on her face.
Nina smile hesitating at Ariel,

“I’m sorry if I frighten you earlier with my crying…it must be a shock for you.”

Ariel nodded…she remembers, Joe’s dead. “I want to apologize too, I didn’t know…” Ariel couldn’t finish her sentence, looking at Joe’s mom reminded her of Joe and she suddenly want to jump in the woman’s arms and cried her eyes out.

Ariel felt as if everything was surreal; it’s not really true is it? He can’t be dead? But Ariel knew logically that Joe was dead. Nina smiled kindly at Ariel and said,

“I can see this is very hard for you…I wished I’ve met you before, I don’t know what to say…”

“How did he die?” Ariel asked. Nina walked over to Ariel, pulled up a chair by the bed and sat down; she finds it hard to believe herself.

“Joe was on his way home from his latest assignment…did he tell you? He was going to Africa for a friend who came down with a sudden illness that required immediate medical care. He told us in his letter that he was thinking about settling down and he’ll give us the detail when he gets home.

I don’t know what it is that he wanted to share with us…it’s too late now. We got a letter from the US embassy stating that Joe was caught in a cross fire in one of the village, they said he died immediately. We request to have his body sent home…but they said it was charred and they had it embodied. So, they sent us his ashes…, if you want we can visit his grave…” Nina stopped when she saw how hard it was for Ariel to keep her emotions under control.

“Joe said he was thinking about settling down?” Ariel whispered with a little hope in her heart…maybe, just maybe Joe was thinking about settling down with her when he wrote that letter.

Nina nodded; Ariel squeezed her eyes shut in happiness and despair…Joe didn’t forget, he did remember about his promise; and in despair because everything was too late.

“Sweetheart, it’s okay to cry, don’t hold it in” Nina whispered, wanting to question about Ariel and her son’s relationship but realizing now was not a good idea. Nina feels that she and Ariel shared a common bound, and that was the pain of losing Joe. She took Ariel into her arms and comforts the girl as much as possible.


Matthew Cheng visited his son, Vic at the old family restaurant again. Lately, he’s been going to just check up on Vic to make sure that he was safe. Matthew was planning to open a new restaurant but with the death of his younger son he did not have the energy or the will to continue working.

 He thank god for Vic who has always been very goal orientated and doesn’t let emotions get in his way of completing a job. After Vic took over the Cheng enterprise five years ago, they opened three more restaurants in Taiwan and a few more overseas. Matthew was very proud of Vic’s work ethnics. When Vic saw his dad, he quickly got up from his desk and walked over to him.

“Dad! You’re supposed to be at home resting” Vic chided his dad. Matthew smiled.

“I was resting. I just wanted to know about our overseas progress.”

“It’s only been open for two years but so far everything is fine. I have some of the best chefs and trustworthy managers working there.” Vic said.

Matthew nodded and continues looking at his son. He wish he had spent more time with Joe, life was too short…he shouldn’t have taken everything for granted.

“Dad, why are you staring at me?”

“I just wanted to take a good look at you…I didn’t do that when Joe was alive, I wish I had…”

Matthew closed his eyes in pain. Vic patted his dad in comfort.

“I know dad, I know.” Vic has so many regrets himself, he wish he had tried harder to be a better brother.
 He wished he had taken some time off work to spend with Joe when he was home form one of his latest adventures.

“That girl, Ariel Lin, she seems pretty shock over Joe’s death. Do you have any idea who she is?” Matthew asked. Vic shook his head; he wondered who she is too.

Chapter Two

Selina kissed the man on her bed and with a deep sign of satisfaction she untangled out of his embrace. She walked slowly to the window and peeked outside for any potential paparazzi hiding behind the buildings, trees, bushes…she’s been in the entertainment world long enough to know about being extra cautious. If the reporters learn of this mysterious man living and sleeping with her there was going to be hell to pay…not only to her agent but also to her family and fans.

Selina dropped the towel she has wrapped around her and walked into the bathroom to shower. She closed her eyes, lifted her face upward and let the water covered her whole body. Life was wonderful, she has the man of her dream sleeping in her bed and she has just signed a five year renewal contract with her modeling agency. Everything was looking up for her.

Selina did not want to worry about her lover leaving soon, she knew he was only going to be with her for a short while…most likely to satisfied his needs, but she was getting her needs met through him also. She heard the sound of the bathroom door opened and the shower door slide open. Smiling in anticipation, Selina invited him to join her.


“You’re what?!” Matthew, Nina and Vic all shouted at the same time.

“I’m pregnant with Joe’s baby” Ariel repeated.

Nina started balling with tears of happiness, Matthew scratched his head not quite sure how to take in the news. It was Vic who eyed Ariel up and down with such intense scrutiny that Ariel felt as if she was a prisoner being interrogated.

“How do we know that it’s his?” Vic questioned. He walked around Ariel purposely trying to intimidate her.

“Joe Cheng is no ordinary man; he has quite a lot of assets…not only from our family run business but also from his high profile job. If the baby is his as you claimed, then the baby stands to inherit millions…so forgive me if I find it hard to believe what you’re saying.”

Ariel felt like a small ant being step on with each words Vic uttered. She never for one moment thought her child’s paternity was in doubt.

“I don’t need to defend such accusation; I thought it was only fair that I let his family know about this pregnancy. If you choose not to believe me then it’s your loss.” Ariel said to Vic with disappointment in her eyes. Vic felt almost sorry that he was so rude to her, but being in the business world so long it was only natural that Vic reacted the way he did.

“Let’s pretend that you’re telling the truth for a minute here, if it’s true that you’re pregnant with Joe’s baby, what were your plans for coming here to see him?” Vic asked.

Ariel grabbed her purse from the table and proceeded to leave.

“I don’t need to tell you anything. I’m leaving.”

It was a major mistake coming here! Ariel stopped when she heard a loud painful wail coming from Nina. She turned around and saw Nina on the floor crying. It was shocking to see such a composed, sophisticated person like Nina sobbing uncontrollably.

“Don’t leave please…please stay” Nina begged.

“Mom, we don’t know for a fact that the baby is Joe’s.” Vic tried to reason with his mom. Nina ignored her son.

“Please Ariel, I believe you…come back and sit down” she patted to a chair next to her. Uncertain, Ariel hesitantly sat down on the chair.

“I know you came here to see Joe, it was to tell him about the baby?” Nina asked. Ariel nodded.

“After that, what was the plan next?” Nina asked again. Ariel shrugged, she really didn’t think that far ahead. She was already on her first trimester of pregnancy; the driving force that gave her enough courage to come look for Joe was the fact that it took two to tangle so he should shared some of the responsibilities.

“I don’t know, I just didn’t want to go through being pregnant alone…I thought Joe and I could come up with some kind of plan.” Ariel said softly. She could feel Vic staring at her, almost as if he was trying to figure out how her brain works and what was going on inside. The family was silent for a little while then suddenly Nina clapped her hands in delightful glees.

“Since the baby’s Joe, I think we should have you married into the family.” Nina said excitedly. She was proud of herself for coming up with such a brilliant plan.

“What?!” Everybody shouted.

“I don’t want my grandchild to be a bastard; it’s better for him to grow up without any question about his identity. What do you think father?” Nina turned to her husband. Matthew nodded in agreement. He too does not want his grandchild to be a bastard.

“NO!” Vic shouted he was about to leave but his father stopped him.

“Son, I know your mother and I…this is asking a lot from you…but do this for your brother, do this for Joe. . Do you really want your nephew or niece to grow up without the Cheng last name?”

those words were like magic, it stopped Vic mid-stride from leaving the room. Do this for Joe, do this for Joe…Vic closed his eyes briefly, family loyalty and parental filial override his need for freedom; Vic signed in defeat and said,

“Fine, I’ll marry Ariel”

He was whispering her name as he leaned in closer and gently kissed her throat; slowly descending up her chin and with gentleness he tenderly kissed her lips. She opened her eyes and smiled at him; a smile filled with hope and anticipation for the future…their future; then as quick as a dream everything disappear and she was alone again…by herself with no one to hold, no one to whispered her name.

 The lonely girl pulled her scarf closer to her throat and looked out her apartment window. She came to Taipei over a month ago, but she was afraid of seeing him again…like a timid coward she was, she told herself she’ll go see him tomorrow, and the next tomorrow and the next…until a whole month passed and she still whispered,

“I’ll see him tomorrow. I really will!”

She closed her eyes and leaned back against the wall. What will he say when he sees her? How will he respond? He must really hate me…even I hate myself! The girl took off her necklace the necklace that he gave her and gently opened the oval shape locket. There were an initial on each side of the locket; R.L and Z.C, She gently caresses his picture and said again,

“Tomorrow, I’ll go see you tomorrow.”


“Are you insane? I am not getting married!” Ariel could not believe Vic actually has the audacity to say he’ll marry her as if she should be thankful!

She was even more stunned that Nina had suggested it. Ariel turned to Vic, with contempt in her voice she said,

“Listen to me loud and clear, I am not getting married to you.”

Vic was surprised at Ariel’s refusal. Isn’t this what she wanted? If not for security and a name for her baby…what exactly does she want? If she behaved this way, maybe Joe is the father…Vic frowned, but she’s not Joe’s type at all.

Ariel turned to Mr. and Mrs. Cheng and said,

“I know you two means well, but this isn’t what I want.”

“This is so sudden you must think ill of us, but won’t you reconsider for your baby’s sake?” Nina begged.

 Ariel shook her head.

“Then what are you planning to do?” Matthew asked.

 That was the problem; Ariel has no idea what to do next. Every single one of her plans involved Joe…but with him gone, Ariel was really scared.

“I…I don’t know… look I’ve been here long enough I should get going.” Ariel grabbed her purse and practically ran out the door. Nina shoved Vic to the door,

“Go after her! She’s not lying to us, trust me! I can sense this kind of thing. Find out what we can do to help her!” Nina said urgently as she forced Vic out of the door.


Ariel, what are you going to do next? You need money for prenatal care…which you don’t have any. How are you going to tell your dad, you can’t hide it from him forever…you’re already almost three months pregnant it won’t be long till your stomach starts to show! Ariel groans. She was really tire of thinking, and wondering and worrying. Oh Joe… it’s not fair that you’re gone. I wish you were here to help me through this. Ariel heaved a huge signs, what do I do now?

Vic sat inside his car observing Ariel’s every movement. As a business man he tends to distrust anybody who makes claims without proof. However he is first and foremost Nina Cheng’s son and he knows he can trust his mother’s words.

Ariel, if you’re pregnant with Joe’s baby…I promise to marry you so the baby will have our family name, I’ll do anything and everything possible to make you fall in love with me if that's what it takes for you to agree to marry me. That’s my promise to Joe and the unborn baby…and I never break any of my promises.

Silena came home from her photo shoots to find everything in the living room in disarray. She quickly ran into the bedroom and found a note on the bed.

I had a great time, I’ll come by again.

Silena quickly crumbled the note and threw it against the wall. He was gone again…after such a wonderful morning he still left. Silena grabbed the remote and turned on the TV before undressing for shower. As she was undressing something on television caught her attention.

“Vic Cheng of the Cheng Enterprise is personally seeking for a model and spoke person for their new chain of products. Vic has taken the Cheng Enterprise to the next level with his innovative combination of entertainment and excellent dining experience. You must have some experience in modeling, public speaking and between the ages of….”

Silena turned the TV off. It was time to go see the Cheng family tomorrow; it has been quite a while since she had last seen them.


Chapter 3

Vic and Ariel sat down for lunch at the family restaurant. It took Vic a long time to persuade Ariel to go with him, but after making her guilty for not feeding the unborn baby Ariel decided that she was hungry.

“I’m sorry Ariel for doubting you; blame it on my cynical self. I stopped believing in love a long time ago.” Vic said.

Ariel frowned,

“What does love have to do with whether the baby’s Joe or not?”

“I realized that you’re not like the other women Joe dated in the past. You wouldn’t make love with someone if you didn’t love that person.” Vic tried to explain.

“Are you saying that Joe sleeps with women he’s not in love with?” Ariel asked. Vic was trapped, why did he even bring up the subject? Sometime you can be a real fool! Vic chided himself.

“I…I’m sure he doesn’t…” Vic stammered suddenly embarrassed with the whole conversation.

“It doesn’t matter anymore does it?” Ariel said sadly, she suddenly focused all her attention on the dishes in front of her; all these talk about Joe were really painful for her. She needed to stay strong for the baby but thoughts of Joe seem to weaken her resolve for the future.

“Ariel, it does matter because even with him gone you still have us.”

“What do you mean by that?” Ariel was curious; why is Vic suddenly so nice?

“I want to help you…I’m sorry for being so rude to you earlier, but I’ve realized at a time like this you need all the support you can get.” Vic said sincerely.

“You really mean that?” Ariel asked still distrustful. Vic nodded,

“Can you forgive my rudeness and give me another chance?” Ariel was surprised at the quick turnaround. She nodded slowly still processing everything Vic just said.

“Tell me some of the things you had planned to do with Joe?”


“I want to help you in his place…are you okay with that?” Vic asked.

Maybe it’s been a long day, or maybe it was because of the pregnancy causing Ariel to be so emotional…but Vic’s words touched her deeply; made her feel safe and that maybe everything was going to be okay.

“I’m okay with that” whispered Ariel.

“Selina, come in come in! It’s been so long I’m so glad to see you!” Nina said when she saw Joe’s old childhood friend, and the on again and off again girlfriend. Selina gave Nina and Matthew a hug. She found herself smiling in their presence; they always know exactly what to say to put her at ease.

“My look at how bony you are, let’s go to the kitchen to get you something to eat.” Nina took hold of Selina’s hand.

“Sit down, eat and tell me what’s going on with you.” Nina said firmly. Selina usually only visits when she needed to be comforted, or when she needed advice.

“Is Vic home? I saw the advertisement for a new spokesperson…”

“Why don’t we wait till Vic gets home?” Matthew told Selina firmly, he knows Selina long enough to know how she is when it comes to striking a job deal.

“Joe’s friend, Alan Lou has he contacted any of you after news of Joe’s death?” Selina asked. Nina shook her head,

“No we haven’t heard from him. Is he still ill? I know that was the reason Joe took his place.” Nina answered.

“Really? I didn’t know Alan was ill…maybe that’s why he hasn’t contacted.” Selina said with a slight frown.

“I’m sure…Alan’s a really good friend of Joe, I’m sure when he feels better we’re see him again.” Nina said trying to comfort Selina; it seems the poor girl was still brooding over Joe’s death.


After Selina left the Cheng resident, she made a quick call.

“What the hell is going on? Why haven’t you contacted the family?” Selina asked angrily. The other line was quiet for a few seconds before the bored reply,

“I’m not up to it yet.”

“You need to tell them the truth!”

“When I’m ready” a gruff voice responded then there was silence.

Ariel walked into her father’s office, sat down for a few minutes then got up and started pacing back and forth. She looked at the time; it was almost time for her dad to come home. Where are you Vic? You promised you’ll be here to support me! Today was the day Ariel decided to tell her father about her pregnancy.

She was almost four months into pregnancy… in her second trimester and she knows her dad is already suspicious. She’s been wearing baggy clothes to hide her stomach but it was becoming harder each week as the fetus grows. She was afraid of her dad’s reaction, never mind the small town and their high moral standards! Ariel wondered how in the world she got in herself into this situation…and then she remembered how she met Joe.


This was her hideout, nobody knows about this swimming area except for Ariel. Ever since she was a little girl, instead of fighting over a swimming spot with the other children, Ariel would come to her special place to swim. Today was no exception; she was in a really good mood and couldn’t wait to dip in the water! She quickly took off her clothes, placed it inside her towel and quickly jumped in the water. The water felt so good, Ariel faced downward and let the water current takes her along the lake.

Joe Cheng finally made his escape! He was tired of all the female pawing over him, especially after they found out he had broken off with Selina. Not that it was a surprise; he and Selina could never stay faithful to each other; there was always someone else after a few weeks…sometimes a few months. Maybe it was because they’d known each other all their lives and couldn’t really see themselves with each other for the rest of their lives.

As Joe was tracking down the lake, he saw a body floating down the river; without a thought he took off his camera and jumped in the lake swimming as fast as he could towards the body. He quickly grabbed hold of her and started dragging her out of the river.

Ariel felt somebody grabbed her, she tried to scream but the water got in her mouth and she started to choke. Help, I’m being kidnapped! She wanted to shout but couldn’t make a sound because of all the water inside her. The person dragged her to dry land and lay her down. She felt someone pumping air into her mouth and then he gently pumped her chest area; Ariel realized it was CPR. She opened her eyes and saw the most handsome man she has ever seen.

Ariel couldn’t stop staring at him, she wanted to say something but was tongue tied. When he leaned over to give her mouth to mouth CPR, he was surprised to see Ariel awake and staring at him with wide doe eyes. Joe grinned at her and helped her up.

“You’re the first person I saved using CPR” he said.

Ariel smile, she was so happy to be saved by him.

“Actually your CPR was slightly off, but with training you’ll learn” she said.

“You had experience before?” he asked.

“My dad’s a doctor and I am in training to become a nurse.” She replied.

Joe nodded; he couldn’t stop himself from glancing at her from head to toes. Ariel was suddenly embarrassed; she got up and started walking uphill. Joe followed her; there was something about this girl…something that inspired something in him.

“Hey, I save you from death…aren’t you going to introduce yourself?” He asked.

Ariel grinned,

“Ariel Lin and you?”

Joe hesitated, he wasn’t sure if he should tell her his real name…what if she recognized him and decided she want her 5 minutes of fame? But there was something innocent and pure about her that put Joe to shame when he considered lying about his real name.

He extended his hand for a handshake and said,

“I’m Joe Cheng.”

Ariel quickly grabbed his hand and held onto it without letting go. She likes the feel of his hand in hers; she couldn’t stop smiling as they talked about everything from their childhood to teenage years. Joe was so easy going, and even without thinking they seem to know how to complete the other person’s sentence.

Ariel knew that this was the beginning of love. From that day on, Ariel went back to the swimming spot almost every day and wordlessly like it was an unspoken promise, Joe was always there waiting for her.

End of flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ariel, ready?” Ariel jumped startled.

She turned around and saw Vic smiling at her. She nodded,

“How did you get in?” she asked, she did not remember the door bell ringing.

“I let him in” Kai Lin said as he put his books on top of the desk.

“Dad!” Ariel whispered, suddenly nervous and anxious at the same time. Vic nodded in encouragement. This is it Ariel! You need to tell your father.

Ariel went over to her dad and said,

“I need to share something with you and I suggest you sit down first.”

Kai frowned at his daughter’s seriousness, sat down and waited for her to continue.

“I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to be blunt…dad, I’m pregnant.” Ariel said.

Kai Lin did not say anything for a long time; he put his hands on top of his forehead and started messaging from both sides. The stillness in the room caused Ariel to become even more jumpy and nervous; she hated disappointing her dad…and when he is quiet and still like this; it means he was more than just upset.

“Wait here you two and don’t go anywhere” Kai suddenly said, he got up and grabbed his jacket.

“I’ll be back. BOTH OF YOU STAY UNDERSTAND?” Both Vic and Ariel nodded.


Kai Lin went to the priest’s home and stopped him from eating his dinner. He told the priest it was an emergency, and quickly explained what his daughter had told him. With the priest in toll, Kai Lin walked to his house with almost half the townsfolk following from behind.

No way was he going to allow his only daughter to be pregnant out of wedlock! What kind of father would he be?! He quickly asked
his dead wife to forgive him for not being a better father.

When Kai Lin opened the door with the priest behind him, Ariel and Vic stared at him in shock. Their eyes got even bigger when they saw the town folks pushing into the room. Kai Lin motioned for one of the woman behind the door to come forward. She squeezed into the room and in her hands was a wedding dress.

Two younger girls also squeezed in the room, giggling shyly as they throw glances at Vic; in their hands were make-ups and accessories for the hair. Ariel tried running out the window, but one of the older woman grabbed her and shouted,

“Get Ariel to her room, it’s time to dress her up for the wedding!”

 They took hold of Ariel and literally dragged her up the stairs. Ariel quickly glanced behind for Vic and found him standing very still, disbeliefs and shock still visible on his face as the men go on and on about safe sex, and taking responsibilities for his action as a man.

Chapter 4

Joe Cheng sat down sprawl lazily across a bench flirting with the assistant while waiting for Max Chu, the UN embassy representative and his best friend to hand him his passport.

“We recommend that you remained here until we conclude the bombing incident.” Max said. Joe shook his head.

“No, I think it’s time for me to head home.”

“You do understand the complexities of this case? There was a reason why all the files and photographs in that car were destroyed. Somebody knows you have the information and they purposely bombed the car.” Joe shrugged.

“For your safety we even went as far as linking out information that you were found dead during crossfire; if they found out you’re still alive…”

Tina the secretary excitedly said,

“Not all the information was destroyed; they took some of the files with them before bombing the car.”

 Max looked over at her with his eye browses arched in question marked; Tina quickly started busying herself with paperwork.

“If they had wanted to kill me they had so many opportunities already.” Joe reasoned.

Max nodded and said,
“Their target probably wasn’t you but the information you had; we thought if you were pronounced dead it might help us cracked the case…but there’s still no lead. I think it’s safer for you to stay here until you regained your memory.”

Joe frowned; Max was hiding something from him. He could feel it in the air, and sensed it by the way Max avoids looking him in the eyes. Maybe I was the target? Or maybe the information found in the car wasn’t the right ones? Max told him he’d lost his memory, but Joe remembered everybody in his family, friends, the schools he attended, all his ex-girlfriends and even his personal information…the only thing he couldn’t remembered was when he took those infamous photographs, and how the highly classified files got into his hands.

The doctor told him he has temporarily amnesia blocking the last six to seven months of his memories…starting from early summer. Joe was told that he must have taken those photographs over the summer; could that be the reason why he couldn’t remembered anything that happened over the summer? Joe mused distractingly but more interested in getting back his passport.

“I can regain my memory here or back home it’s the same thing.” Joe said. He looks Max in the eyes, as friend to friend in silent communication, Max nodded and handed him his passport.

“I’m concerned about your memory loss; whoever targeted you will follow you back to Taiwan it’s dangerous for you and possibly your family…” Max started to say, but Joe cut him off.

“Not if they believe I’m dead” Joe said.

“The minute you walk on Taiwan soil…” Max said but stopped when he realized Joe was going to do whatever he wanted.

“I promise you Max if I remembered anything I will contact you first.” Joe assured his friend; Joe and Max go way back to their elementary school days; he understood his friend’s worry but Joe was homesick and he wanted to go home.


“Where the hell is he?” Alan gritted his teeth as Selina seductively rolled up her stocking; he was getting really angry waiting for her answer.

 Selina leaned down and pulled out her shoes from under his bed.

“Why are you so upset, we just had one heck of a good time…don’t spoil my mood.” Alan grabbed his towel, wrapped it around his waist and walked in the bathroom.

“I thought you had something important to tell me? Isn't that why you came to see me or were you just looking to get laid?.. If you're done, you know where to door is” He said before brushing his teeth. Selina zipped up her shirt, went in the bathroom and watch Alan silently. She took her hand and gently hand combed his hair.

“Shh…just let me enjoy myself for a little while huh?” She continue to brush his hair with her hand and he pushed it out of the way.

“Stop that.” He said. Selina smiled and moved in closer to him,

“Make me stop” she whispered in his ear.

Alan turned to Selina and said softly in warning,

“You don’t want me to.” Selina wrapped both her arms around his neck in a tease answered,

“I would love for you to show me.” Alan without warning picked Selina up and threw her on the bed. He jumped on top of her with both his muscular arms wrapped around her, he held her hostage.

“Tell me where Joe is, stop playing with me…you know something.” Selina didn’t answer. Alan knew exactly what to do to get her talking. He kissed her passionately from her collarbone up to her lips; slowly he nibbled the top of her lips then the bottom. Just as Selina signs in satisfaction, Alan stopped.

“Tell me where Joe is.”

“Why do you want to know?”

“I know for a fact Joe can’t be dead, something must have gone wrong and I need to find out what it is.” Alan said.

“He…I…we…weren’t together, I swear...fine I was with a man, but it wasn’t Joe, Joe’s dead!” Selina responded, she wrapped her hands around his waist and tried to pull him downward for another kiss.
Alan pushed her off; grabbed his pants and pulled it on.

“Still only loyal to your Joe huh?”

 Alan shook his head at her in a flash of jealousy which was gone so quick, Selina thought she had imagined it. Alan pulled a t-shirt over his head and without another word headed out the door.

Your Joe only? Selina laughed at the irony of those words. He was never my Joe to start with, and for the brief time he was mine, I can’t seem to ever make him mine for long. Selina sat up on the bed, with a sad smile on her face she whispered silently in the air,

“But, it’s not Joe that I want…the one I want, I can’t have.”


“Where are you going Ariel?”

The old auntie said as she held Ariel down on the bed. The two teenage girls giggled as they pulled off Ariel’s shoes. Oh my god, I can’t believe this is happening to me! Ariel screamed in her head, she grabbed hold of her pant when the two younger girls managed to pulled her shoes off and started on her pant next. “I need to see my dad, it’s really urgent!” Ariel pleaded.

“Nothing is more urgent that getting you marry young lady; you’re lucky I haven’t said anything about your immoral behaviors…” the old auntie started and Ariel covered the woman’s mouth.

She begged,

“Please don’t starts the lectures now, go get my dad!”

Everybody in the room ignored Ariel, off with her pant and onto her blouse. Ariel held onto her blouse for dear life. Okay, I don’t want to do this but I have no choice; she started screaming at the top of her lung.

“I NEED TO SEE MY DAD!!!! VIC IS NOT THE BABY’S FATHER, HE’S NOT THE BABY’S FATHER!!!” Suddenly there was utter silence in the room; even the noise from downstairs stopped.


Everybody shouted at the same time; Ariel’s father burst into her room without knocking. Ariel was so embarrassed at her dad’s behavior. Vic must really think we’re all crazy! She saw her dad holding onto Vic’s hand; he looked fluster and confused, Ariel realized her dad must have dragged him up the stairs with him when he heard her screaming.

Ariel felt a cold breeze on her thigh; she quickly looked down and turned a darker shade of red when she realized she was wearing her Winnie the poo underwear…of all day to wear this particular underwear.

Already embarrassed at her dad’s behavior, Ariel now turned red as a tomato embarrassed at herself. Is there no end to this humiliation? Ariel wondered, she quickly grabbed her blanket and covered up; but not before she saw Vic blushing furiously.

He looked everywhere around the room but her; Ariel didn’t blame him…twenty one years old and still wearing Winnie the poo underwear?

Kai Lin didn’t notice anything unusual. He shook his hand at Ariel,

“What is the meaning of this? This is not who you fornicated with?” Ariel winced at the choice of word her dad used.

“No, he is not.”

“Then who’s the fella that got you pregnant?” Ariel glanced at Vic; she didn’t know quite how to explain it to her dad. Gee dad, he was alive a few months ago, but now he’s dead? Ariel knows her dad was a very skeptical person; he most likely will want proof.

“Vic’s brother…” Ariel started to say, when her father suddenly turned to Vic and asked,

“Where is your brother?”

“He died almost two months ago…” Vic answered; Kai Lin suddenly punched Vic on the face.

“Stop lying, show me this brother of yours right now! I want my daughter married today!”

“Dad he really is dead, we’re not lying!” Ariel tried to explain. Kai Lin shouted,

“Get the priest up here! They’re getting married right now!” One of the young girls ran downstairs and dragged the priest up the stairs with her. The priest was heaving out of breath by the time he reached the upstairs room. He sat down on the closest chair in the room and told Ariel and Vic to stand up and faced him.

“Dad, we’re not lying. Vic do you have a picture of Joe? Show it to my Dad.” Vic took out his wallet and pulled out a picture of Joe. Kai Lin glanced at Joe’s picture and without even pausing or thinking it through he said,

“I don’t believe you. Priest please proceeds.”

The priest took out his bible and in a monotone voice started the wedding ceremony. Ariel still sitting on the bed with the blanket covering her underwear, and Vic blocked from the door by two of the town strongest man.


Joe got on the plane, took out a magazine and started reading some of the articles. He was surprised to read about his high profile funeral, speculations to the real cause of his death and how many of his ex-girlfriends was mourning.

Joe closed his eyes and thought of Selina…did she mourned for him? The last he remembered they were out cruising on a last minute vacation. He can’t wait to see her; Selina knows exactly how to make him feel better and after all the stuff that happened to him he really need some cheering up from his girlfriend.


Ruby Lin took off her locket and placed it inside a vanilla envelope; she sealed the envelope and put it in the mail box. Inside, she wrote a quick message:

I’m a coward, I tried contacting you a few times but just couldn’t. Please understand.

She signed the letter with her initial RL, all the while hating herself for being a coward and even more terrifying, she was afraid that Vic had forgotten her...maybe she was the only one holding on to the past, maybe that was why she didn’t have the courage to meet Vic face to face.

Chapter 5


Ruby wanted to died, this time she was going to really jump! Every time she tried jumping off the top of the school building…she would think about her Ma and her younger brother and couldn’t bring herself to. But today was the day; she could feel it deep in her soul…today her whole life will change…because she’ll be dead. Ruby stood on top of the school building closed her eyes tight and counted softly…one, two…,

“What the heck are you doing up there?”
A male voice questioned. Ruby looked behind her…it was Vic Cheng affectionately known as Zai Zai through out the school.

 He was everything she was not…he was easy going, very popular with lots of friends, smart and from a very well known family in the neighborhood. Ruby didn’t answer him, she closed her eyes tight again and started counting…on the count of three she was really going to jump.

Softly she whispered,
“One, two, three” She threw herself into the air…but strangely she didn’t fall. Someone was holding her; she knew that someone was Vic.

“If you’re going to kill yourself…don’t leave behind any witnesses!” Vic said as he pulled her down from the top.

“Go away.” Ruby murmured. She grabbed her back pack and ran down the stairs.

The next day, Ruby went back to the top and Vic was already there. He had brought enough lunches for two.

“I noticed you don’t eat much during lunch so I brought something extra…come join me?” Vic said.

Ruby hesitated for a second, but her stomach started to growl really loud…she didn’t eat dinner last night and she didn’t have any money for lunch. She went and sat next to Vic, and nervously started unwrapping the sand which. She waited until Vic took a bite of his sand which before eating hers.

“What year are you in school?” Vic inquired, he have never seen her before until that day he found her on the roof top.

“I have two more years before graduation.” Ruby answered. She was eating really fast, as if she hasn’t eaten for a few days…which was very close to the truth, she hasn’t been eating very well for the last few days…because of her step dad.

“I’m graduating this year and I know almost everybody in school, but I haven’t seen you before.”
Ruby shrugged, school attendance was not important for her.

“I’m usually late or absent.”

She answered quickly and went back to eating. After a long silence, Ruby finally looked over at Vic. He had stopped eating his lunch, with his head lean back against the wall he was smiling at her as she eat.

“What?” She asked.

“I like watching you eat…it’s interesting.” Vic impishly answered.

“I haven’t had anything to eat for a long…” Ruby started to say, but she stopped herself. Don’t bring up family problems; it’s none of his business! Ruby chided herself for getting carried away.

“Why don’t we meet here every day for lunch? I promised to bring lunch for the both of us.” Vic said.

 Lunch every day? It was a temptation Ruby could not refused, she nodded slowly in agreement, watching Vic closely just in case he was playing a prank on her. Vic smiled and she saw the sincerity in his eyes.

“Okay, I’ll be here.” She answered, suddenly feeling like a burden has lifted and she was glad that he saved her from jumping off the building.

End of flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ruby finally did it! She sent the locket to Vic…now everything was up to him.

“Zai Zai please don’t let it be late for us, I’m sorry it took me four years… but I’m ready.”


“I’m sorry could you please repeat again?”

Nina could not believe her ears…somebody said he was Joe Cheng and he needed a ride home from the airport!

“Mom, it’s me Joe.”

“My son is dead! Please stop playing with me, damn paparazzi!”

Nina screeched then she hung up the phone. She sat down on the couch; shaking in anger…it hasn’t been that long, the family was still grieving how can people be so cold hearted? The phone rang again, with a loud signs of exhaustion Nina picked up the phone.

“Hi Mrs. Cheng? This is Max Chu.”

“Hi Max, I haven’t heard from you…how are you?”

“Selina told me to call you because she thought it would be better for the family to know the truth regarding Joe’s death but I didn’t have time…”

“What do you mean?” Nina demanded.

“Joe…he’s not dead, he called me to contact you because you didn’t believe him…he’s waiting at the airport.” Max explained.

Nina suddenly dropped the phone and started running outside. Joe was alive, Joe was alive! Why didn’t Max share that information with the family earlier? It doesn’t matter, her baby was alive! Nina ran excitedly toward Matthew.

“Father, call Vic right now! Joe is alive and he’s waiting for us at the airport!”

“Wh…what?” Matthew thought he heard wrong.

“Our son is alive! Hurry we need to call Vic!” Nina grabbed her husband’s cell phone and dialed Vic’s number. After a few rings Vic finally answered.

“Zai Zai this is your mom, I need you home right now! We’re going to pick up your brother from the airport, he’s alive!” Nina shouted over the phone.

“What?! Joe is alive?!” Nina winced at her son’s loud shout.

“Yes, so come home right now.” Nina said firmly.

“I’m kinda busy mom…Ariel and I… we’re getting married.” Vic said weakly.

“You and Ariel getting married?!” Nina turned to her husband, and handed him the phone…today’s shock was too much. She shakily walked to a chair and sat down.

Matthew picked up the phone and said,

“I don’t understand son, please explain.” Someone else answered the phone.

“Mr. Cheng, my name is Kai Lin; I’m Ariel’s father…tell me the truth, is your younger son Joe Cheng dead?” Confused, Matthew answered simply,

“No, he’s at the airport.”

“Pick up your son and bring him over to my house, I have a few words to say to that young man!”

Kai Lin said and hung up the phone. Still confused with the whole exchange, Matthew took his wife’s hand and walked to their car.

“I just spoke with Ariel’s dad; we’re going to see him after picking up Joe.”


Nina and Matthew recognized their son right away. Even though Joe had on a beanie hat, covered over with a black hood and tinted sunglasses over his eyes, his parents knew that it was him. Joe didn’t want to cause a commotion so he took extra precaution in his appearance, dressing in a way that the public would not recognized.

After the tearful yet very happy reunion, Joe got in the car with his parents. He immediately sensed something was wrong, from the way his father kept glancing back at him in bewilderment and the many unasked questions that he knew his father was dying to ask to his mother’s continuous lip biting. Nina nervously bit into her lips; she didn’t know how to tell Joe that Vic was getting married to Ariel. She signaled for her husband to tell Joe; but Matthew was at a lost also. They continued driving in silent until Joe noticed they were driving in the opposite direction from their house.

“Where are we going, this isn’t the way to our house.” Joe said in a tired voice, he was ready for bed.

“We’re not going home yet…Ariel’s dad wanted to see you as soon as possible, so we’re going there first.” Matthew answered.

Joe frowned; he did not recognize the name.

“Are they new friends of yours?” Joe asked.

“Huh? It’s Ariel, she’s your friend. We met her only a few months ago.” Nina said.

Joe frown, it must have been in the last seven months…he does not remembered knowing any Ariel.

“I don’t remember…the doctor said I lost some of my memories, maybe that’s way I don’t remember who she is.”

Joe shrugged and continues staring out the window.

“You have amnesia?!” Nina asked shock. Joe nodded,

“According to the doctor only the last six or seven months…”

“You don’t remember Ariel?” Matthew asked, very worried now.

“How can you not remember Ariel? She’s the most cheerful, sweet girl I’ve ever met! Of all your girlfriends, she is the only one that I feel is right for you.” Nina was very disappointed.

“Girlfriend?” the last girlfriend Joe remembered was Selina.

Who is this Ariel? How did we meet and why is she my girlfriend? It was strange to hear you have a girlfriend, and you have no clues what she looked like, her personalities or why you even like her. Joe felt the back of his neck hurting and knew that if he tried to think too much, he was very close to coming down with a migraine.

@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@~~~~~~~~~~~~~@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~“Dad, this is enough! Joe is not going to agree to this!”

Ariel’s voice was very hoarse and dry, she felt as if she had used up all her vocal cord today trying to talk some sense into her dad. Since the moment Ariel told him about her pregnancy…Kai Lin had the house surrounded with no escape route at all for Ariel and Vic; he was determined that his little girl was properly wedded that very night…or he won’t rest.

Ariel glanced over at Vic; he was leaning against the wall clearly exhausted and still shock at the whole turn of events. A man held onto his left arm, and on his right side, another man was holding on to his right arm.

Clearly no hope of escape for him either; Ariel signs…sometimes her father was too much! Ariel thank the heaven for the phone call from Vic’s parents; before being forced to say “I do”, Vic’s phone rings…with the news that Joe was still alive. Ariel felt relieved and ecstatic that Joe was alive and at the same time she was worry about his reaction to the pregnancy. Stay focus Ariel, stay focus, remember it takes two to make a baby so it’s only fair that Joe take half the responsibilities.

Ariel heard a car drove up the drive way. A little girl ran excitedly up the stairs,

“They’re here, they’re here! Doctor…doctor, the real husband is here!” Kai Lin turned to his daughter and told her to stay put. He glanced over at Vic and said,

“You! come with me.”

Kai Lin walked downstairs; he was exhausted but refused to give in to his old age. He has a mission to complete, and he won’t rest until it’s done. He saw a middle age man and woman and knew immediately that it was Vic’s parents. He stared intensely at the other young man…who looked vaguely familiar.

“I’m sorry, have I seen you before?” Kai asked. Joe smiled, without his sunglass and hood he wasn’t surprise that someone recognized him so easily.

“No, I don’t think we’ve met but you must have seen me on magazines or some of my more popular photographs” Joe answered with a smile.

“You’re a photographer?” Kai Lin asked. Joe nodded.

Kai Lin groaned…why didn’t he connect the dots earlier, he had read something about an infamous photographer who was also known as a playboy within the entertainment society…news of his death was everywhere in the newspaper, magazine, radio etc.

Kai Lin has always been a very conservative person, even though he does not have a TV or radio in his home, he still heard news of Joe Cheng’s death from his patient and or the nurses. How in the world did his daughter meet him? Why of all the men to get pregnant by, why must it be this womanizer?

“You young man has a lot of explaining to do! But first thing first, let’s go upstairs.”

Kai signaled for the men to grabbed hold of Joe. Shocked Joe tried to struggled out of their hold, but couldn’t, the men was too strong. Vic quickly gave his brother a hug and with a look of sympathy moved out of their way.

“What in the world is happening?’ Nina asked Vic.

“Mom, Dad, Joe’s getting married.” Vic answered with a twinkle in his eyes.

Chapter 6

Joe was dragged up the stairs on all four, two men in the front and two in the back with Kai Lin leading the way to Ariel’s room. Ariel waited anxiously pacing back and forth…she has so many questions for Joe. If you’re not dead where have you been all this time? What happened to our promise to meet again? Why didn’t you show up that day? Is everything alright? She wanted to ask him how he feel about being a father, would he considered raising their baby together?

But the moment the door opened and she came face to face with Joe…all her questions were forgotten. Ariel started crying, it must be the pregnancy hormones acting up! But Ariel knew it wasn’t because of that…the truth was it was so good to see Joe again. She couldn’t stop the continuous flow of her tears, she walked slowly to Joe…afraid that maybe she was dreaming, and Joe really was dead. She had lay in her bed and dreamt of Joe so many nights, what if this is just one of her dream?

Joe stared wide eyes at Ariel. Who is this pregnant girl crying? Why is she looking at me like this? Joe felt very uncomfortable with the way the girl was looking at him…like she deeply loves him. Slowly the girl gently touched his face, and he felt his heart skips a beat…almost as if he was trying to remember something very important.

His body reacted to her touch…his body recognized her touch, it was a very familiar touch…but his mind, as much as he tried, Joe couldn’t remember her. The way she stares into his eyes was filled with love, and questions. Joe didn’t know how to respond to the overwhelming emotions shown on the girl’s face. He had never met any girl that was so open with their feelings before…this girl was like an open book.

“You’re really real… Joe…oh, Joe I’m so mad at you but I’m more happy to see you right now!” the girl cried, she rush towards him and without warning hugged him tight. Her whole body was shaking with uncontrollable sobs, it was tears of happiness Joe realized…but he was very confused.

 If he loves this girl as much as she loves him…how could he have forgotten about her? Maybe…maybe he was playing with her and she took him for real? This wouldn’t be the first time he played on girls…but not innocent girls…and Ariel Lin looked too innocent for him.

“I…I don’t know who you are, I’m sorry.” Joe said. Ariel froze, she look up into his face.


“I don’t know who you are, I don’t think we met before.” Joe said.

Ariel felt as if Joe had pulled her heart out and stomped on it till it stopped beating.
“How could you say that to me?! Look at me you jerk? Did I do this to myself?” Ariel shouted through her tears and started punching Joe. Joe looked down at her stomach…he knew she was trying to tell him he was the baby's father.

Ariel could not believe him, so I was right all along…he was just playing with me! Idiot, I’m such an idiot! Ariel scolded herself as she continues to hit Joe over and over. Kai Lin stopped his daughter from hitting Joe. He looked Joe straight in the eyes,

“How dare you! Priest please proceeds with the wedding.” Kai Lin stood behind Joe and whispered in his ears,

“You got my daughter pregnant and you have the audacity to deny ever meeting her? Do you have a death wish?”

Joe shook his head, from the way all the men in the room was looking at him he knew it was safer to keep his mouth shut.

Matthew and Nina walked into the room. Nina put her arms around Ariel and explained,

“Ariel, I’m so sorry I should have explained to you that Joe lost his memories.”

“What?” Ariel was confused, if he lost his memories why did he remember everyone else besides her?

“He lost just the last seven months of his memories.” Matthew explained.

Ariel glared at Joe. How dare he conveniently choose those months to forget…it was during those times that they spent almost all their days together!

“Son, you are the baby’s father. You need to do right by her and the baby, your mother and I give you our blessing.” Matthew said softly…it was a blessing and an ordered. Joe was tired, hungry and on top of all that, he has a huge headache from lack of sleep.

“Look, Ariel or whatever your name is. I don’t love you; I don’t even know if that baby’s mine but because my parents trust you and it doesn’t look like I can leave this place until I get shackled to you…shit, I’ll marry you.” Joe said. He knew his words were hurtful, but he had one hell of a day and frankly at the moment he didn’t care.

Ariel’s eyes welled up with tears, she wanted to refused…she wanted to shout she didn’t need his help, she wanted to cursed him and cursed the day they met…but one look at her dad and she hesitated. Ariel saw Joe signs in boredom, as if he was just waiting for everything to be over with. She still could not believe the words Joe said…I don’t love you? Shackled to you? Ariel wondered… did he really lose his memory or could it be just an act because he didn’t want to be with her? Ariel opened her mouth to refuse, forget about responsibilities or marriage; I can raise this baby myself!

“For your information stupid pig head, I don’t want to mar…” Ariel stopped, she felt the baby kick; this was the very first time the baby moved! Shock, Ariel put her hands on her stomach in wonderment. My baby, oh my god…I’m really going to be a mother soon! Ariel suddenly slit her eyes at Joe. Whether he likes it or not, he is the baby’s daddy…I’m not letting him off the hook that easily! I’m doing this for the baby, doing this for MY baby. Ariel repeated over and over…for my baby.

“Fine, let’s get this wedding over with!” Ariel said. By midnight tonight, I will be Mrs. Ariel Cheng, and you pig head…you’re going to be a daddy.


Alan Luo met Joe at his home; he knew Joe wasn’t dead…there was no way Joe could have died, nevertheless, it was good seeing his friend face to face. He wanted to ask Joe what information he had uncovered during the assignment, but when he heard Joe has amnesia he decided it was probably safer not to ask Joe any questions until he was ready or regained his memories.

 Alan was shock to learn that Joe was also married. When he met Ariel Lin, Alan was stunned at how complete opposite the two was. He felt immediately sorry for Ariel, especially after witnessing Joe’s indifference to his wife. Selina was holding on to Joe the whole night which irritate Alan but he held his composure for the sake of being civil…and Joe’s parents whom he admired and respect. News of Joe’s rise from the dead was on all major newspaper, magazines, TV, with calls for interviews from major news station. Joe had declined all interviews and refused to have any reporters at this welcome home gathering. This was the very first time Ariel realized the magnitude of Joe’s popularity…he was a celebrity.

When Ariel saw Andy Lau shaking hands with Joe, and in the next room Ziyi Zhang was chatting with Joe’s mom and next to Ziyi was Michelle Yee; Ariel felt like she was in a dream. Everything was surreal…Ariel stood by the stairs uncertain of what to do next…she was scared, nervous, and feeling like she was pushed underwater…she was drowning and there was no one to save her. Suddenly Ariel couldn’t breathe…the music, the laughers, the expensive dresses, jewelries; the famous people …she understood at that moment the situation she was in by marrying Joe Cheng.

How dare he lied and said he was only an upcoming twenty five year old photographer? It was obvious that he was more than just a photographer. Ariel looked around the room and blushed when she realized what an outcast she was from all the beautiful dressed people. Ariel tried gasping for air, it seems no one noticed how uncomfortable she was…I need to leave; I need to get some fresh air. Ariel blindly search for the door and felt someone grab hold of her hand.

Ariel quickly glanced up and saw Vic smiling down at her. She held onto his hand for dear life, it was such a comfort to have someone she knows next to her. The moment they were out of the house, Ariel took a deep breath. She closed her eyes and slowly inhales and exhale…she needed a few minutes to just breathe, to be away from all the chatting, dancing, music...from all the loud noises.


Vic understood how Ariel feels; he stood next to her and watched her silently. It must be so hard for her…realizing Joe was more that what he seems. Ariel gave Vic an apologetic smile,

“Sorry” she said, and with a tired signs she sat down on the bench.

“No need for apology… I should have warned you about this gathering.” Vic said. Ariel shook her head,
“For a small gathering, there are quite a lot of people.”

“People are naturally curious, of course they wanted to see Joe you know back from the dead and all.” Vic said and grinned, he noticed Ariel looking for Joe throughout the night.

“You should also be aware that Joe is very popular with the ladies…don’t take it too seriously.” Vic patted her on the back. Ariel shrugged, what was she supposed to do? When she saw Joe flirting with many beautiful women…she didn’t know what to do; she kept telling herself that she has every right to be angry…but at the same time she realized maybe she didn’t. It was a forced marriage, and Joe doesn’t remember who she is.

Ariel leaned back against the bench and put her hands on her stomach, whenever she felt sad putting her hands on her stomach helped her feel a little better.

“Can I put my hands there too? I want to feel your baby move”. Vic said suddenly excited. Ariel grinned,
“Sure”. She took Vic’s hand and put it on top of her stomach. After a few minutes, Vic felt the baby moved and he suddenly jumped startled at the forced of the kick.

“Whoa, it must be a boy…what a kick!” He said in amazement.

“When are you going for the ultrasound?”

“Next week, but I preferred not to know if it’s a boy or girl” Ariel said. Vic nodded, it didn’t matter if it was a boy or girl…he’ll love it no matter what.

“Is Joe going with you?” Vic asked. Ariel shook her head,

“No, he’s meeting up with some friends”

“Do you mind if I tag along?” Vic asked, eager for the experience.

“No, it’ll be nice to have you along.” Ariel said and laughed when Vic jumped up and danced.


Selina pushed Joe into one of the vacant room and kissed him hard on the lips.

“I’m so glad you’re back!” Joe kissed her back and held onto her…he remembered her, everything from her caresses, kiss…he remembers everything about her. Joe smell deeply the fragrance of her perfume…still the same, it was the fresh smell of Lilly.

“Shh…quiet down or they’re hear us!” Selina laughed, she turned around and locked the room.

“How in the world did you end up married the first day back from your assignment?!” Joe shrugged; he wanted to say it was a matter of life or death decision but got side tracked when she started kissing him again.

“Did Max mention me at all?” Selina asked curious. Joe smiled; he knew she was going to ask about Max sooner or later.

“No, he didn’t mention you” Selina paused for a second then resumed kissing Joe. She was probably expecting too much from him.

“Did you really forget everything…Max said whoever targeted you in Africa will follow you to Taiwan.”
“Let’s not talk about this, I’m really tired.” Joe whispered in her ears,picked her up and headed towards the bed.


A man parked his car across the street and in his hands was a telescoped; he was paying very close observation to all the commotions at the Cheng household. He knew how secretive and protective Joe was when it comes to his family’s privacy…but it wasn’t hard at all for him to find out Joe’s whereabouts or his daily activities. The man chuckled, he found it quite amusing that Joe Cheng got hitched as some people call it or married the first day he stepped foot on Taiwan soil. The man decided it was a good idea to keep an eye on the bride, just in case she comes in handy later on.

Chapter 7

“I think it’s better for the two of you to stay here with us.”

 Nina said hoping Joe would agree. Joe announced that he had brought a small two bedroom house and wanted to move out of the family house by the weekend. Ariel remained quiet throughout the family discussion.

She knew the reason Joe wanted to move out…it was for freedom, living in the home with his parents was hell for Joe...he felt trapped and wanted his space. Ariel remembered the conversation she had with Joe last night.

She was sleeping on the bed and he was getting ready for a shower. Before lying down on the bed, Ariel had set up a sleeping area for Joe on the sofa. It became routine…Ariel sleeps on the bed and Joe sleeps on the couch. On that particular night, Ariel smelled perfume on Joe’s clothes.


“What’s that smell?” Ariel sniffed; it smelled like lilly.

“Why?” Joe pulled off his pant and grabbed a towel. Ariel looked on the floor and saw lipstick marks on Joe’s collar shirt.

She glanced at his face and saw below his chin…lipstick marks.

“Why…” Ariel wanted to ask, but Joe cuts her off.

“Look, I’ve told you before I don’t know you. I don’t love you, I only married you because I trust my parents when they told me you’re pregnant with my baby…but you know what? Don’t expect me to care about you just because you’re my wife. I must have been crazy to marry you”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I saw the way you live with your dad…you’re dirt poor, be honest…you married me for money isn’t that right? You may be pregnant but I think you’re nothing but a gold digger there’s no way in hell I could have been as careless as to impregnate a girl I don’t even plan to marry.”

Joe said and walked in the bathroom.

After the wedding, Joe thought about everything that had happened and he refused to believe he was ever in any kind of relationship with Ariel.

There was no way he could ever have been in love with someone like Ariel…so that means Ariel must have planned the whole thing. She knew about his fame, his wealth and wanted a piece of the pie herself…that made more sense to Joe.

“Are you certain that you didn’t plan to marry me Joe? How could you say those words to me…are you purposely hurting me for loving you? You’re afraid of love aren’t you?” Ariel followed him to the bathroom.

“I already married you! what more do you want? I’m sorry but right now I only see you as a gold digger…I can’t imagined myself ever loving someone as unrefined as you…you’re like a country bumpkin how could I have fallen for you? Are you sure you didn’t drug me?”

Joe said those words so carelessly, but with every words Joe uttered…Ariel’s heart cracked a little bit more until she felt like every pieces of her heart was shattered. How could Joe be so cruel, this was not the Joe she remembered, she has no clues who this person is.

“Fine, we’re both adult here…tell me exactly what it is that you want!” Ariel said, she was trying very hard not to cry but tears were welling up in her eyes and she knew the ache in her heart won’t allow those tears to stay inside.

“Since you’re five months into your pregnancy, we have to wait four more months. Once you give birth to the baby, I want a divorce.” Joe said emotionless. Ariel stared at him stunned…are you even human? She wanted to shout.

“Why bother getting married in the first place?” Ariel wanted to know. Joe shrugged,

“This way the baby will have my last name, I will pay for child support and make sure he has all his needs met.”

“You don’t want the baby?”

“I don’t have time for a baby” Joe replied curtly.

“I…I don’t know you, who are you?” Ariel asked softly, this was not the person she fell in love with.

“Listen carefully Ariel, I don’t want to repeat myself; I will continue dating whomever I want, come home whenever I want and I suggest you get used to it because I’m not going to change.” Joe stared straight into Ariel’s eyes; he wanted her to know he was serious and meant every word he said.

“I pray when you get your memory back, you won’t regret a single word you said tonight. As of this moment our relationship is over! I’m sorry that I’ve ever met you!” Ariel said through tears and rushed to the bed. She pulled the cover over her and cried the entire night.

End of flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“No, no we’re moving. It’s already been decided.” Joe said firmly.

Nina held Ariel’s hands and said,

“I’ll come by to visit often, and if you need me to go with you to the clinic just let me know.” Ariel nodded and tried to smile, but inside her heart was hurting…without Joe’s parents she was really alone. She saw Joe got up from the table and walked over to the window, sipping his coffee quietly.

Ariel shudder thinking about their conversation last night. He called her a gold digger; he wanted to divorce after the baby’s birth…who are you Joe? How could you be so cruel? This person she married is a complete stranger and not the man she fell in love with…or maybe the person she fell in love with was a fake…and this is the real Joe Cheng?

Vic held the oval shape locket in his hands, why did Ruby sent him the locket? He wondered if it was a dream, but with the locket solid in his hands he knew it wasn’t a dream. What do you want after all these years Ruby? You left without a word…what do you want now?

Vic opened the locket and stared intensely at it; their initials were engraved on each side of the locket. He reached under his shirt and pulled out an exact replica of the locket. He had tried throwing the locket away many times in the past but couldn’t bear to separate from it. Vic signs, Ruby I stopped believing in love a long time’ve kill my heart the day you left me.

What do you want now? Vic took off the locket he has around his neck; he suddenly realized without his knowledge the locket had became such a part of him that it was actually holding him back from living in the present and the future. The last three months spent with Ariel, Vic saw the fighting spirit in his sister in law, her determination to make the best of her situation and her endless hope and optimisms for her and her baby.

Ariel made him realized what he had lost…he finally understood he was holding on to false hope, holding on to the past… and it was time to let go. Vic threw both the lockets into the bottom of the draw and locked it. He stood up and opened the window; suddenly there was a flash of white outside and the scent of fresh jasmine…a unique bar soap that Ruby made only for herself.

The smell disappears quickly as if it was never there. Vic wondered if he was hallucinating again... many times in the past he found himself searching for her in crowded streets, saw her in his dreams, and every waking moment he thought if he just paid more attention, search a little farther he would eventually find her.

 But in the end, Vic realized she was really gone and she was not coming back…leaving him with so many torturous unanswered questions. Vic shook his head, for a second he thought he saw Ruby...and that familiar jasmine smell that he loved. I must be going crazy! He signed deeply…almost like an old man, his whole body hunched back against the wall and his eyes stared out the window filled with memories of the past.

@~~~~~~~~~~~@~~~~~~~~~~~~@~~~~~~~~~~~~~“Do you remember anything?” Alan asked Joe, handing him a glass of wine. Joe shook his head,

“Every time I forced myself to remember, my head hurts like hell.”

“Don’t strain yourself. Even though I want to know what news you’ve uncovered, your health is more important to me.” Alan said meaningfully to his friend.

Joe laughs,

“I know, that’s why you’re my best pal.”

“Don’t let Max hear you.” Alan teased.

“But damn I wish I know what I’m supposed to look for. I get the feeling that somebody’s been following me.”

Joe looked around the room, tonight was Alan’s big night with star magazine; it was a stepping stone to becoming one of the most popular photographers and he was happy for his friend…but he couldn’t shake off the feeling that he was being spied on. Maybe somebody really did follow him to Taiwan.

Alan put his glass down on the table and nudged Joe,

“Isn’t that Ariel by the corner?” he asked. Joe shrugged,

“Yeah, I didn’t want to leave her home alone and my parents are out on a date.”

“Tell her to join us; can’t you see how uncomfortable she is?”

“She married me, she should get used to this kind of life.”

Joe answered with a shrug. Alan shook his head at his friend’s cold indifference to his wife.

“You keep my wife company, someone’s looking for me.”

Joe handed his glass to Alan and walked towards a group of giggling young actresses.


Alan walked over to Ariel; she was holding a small plate of fruits but was not eating it. Alan could tell she was very unhappy and uncomfortable with her environment.

“Sorry, I know this is not good for the baby.” Alan said apologetically.

Ariel strained a tired smile,

“Is there any place to sit? I’ve been standing here for quite some time and my back is killing me!”

“Follow me.”

Alan led Ariel to a small isolated house outside of the main house. Ariel was amazed at the beautifully carved handiwork on the outside of the house…like a small cottage. There were vines everywhere, the leaves were vibrant green and it wrapped itself around the cottage like it was part of the house. Ariel realized the vine was part of the house; it was part of what makes the cottage so charming. The vines curved up on the top of the roof, and a few were hanging around the door. Outside by the windows were wildflowers of all sorts and colors.

Ariel was in love with the place, she turned to Alan with a huge grin…this cottage reminded her so much of home. She did not realized how much she missed home until she saw the cottage. She missed her simple town, the simple folks and her dad; she felt tears rolling down her cheek, embarrassed Ariel turned from Alan to hide her tears. She was surprised at the dept of her emotions invoked by the simplicity of that cottage. Simplicity…that’s what I want; Ariel thought and tried to dry her eyes.

“I felt the same way when I first saw this cottage.” Alan whispered softly, he smiled at Ariel, in his eyes Ariel saw a clear message…it was saying don’t be afraid. She smiled back at him tentatively, with his reassuring smile; Ariel allows her tears to freely flow.

“Really? You cried when you first saw this cottage?” she raised her eyebrows in disbeliefs.

Alan nodded,

“I really did…although I was about six at the time.” He answered with a grin.


“Yeah, and it was because my cousin went inside the cottage first to hide and I wanted it to be my hiding place first!”

Alan suddenly laughed remembering how silly he and his cousin was when they were young. Ariel heard herself laughing with him; it’s been so long since she was able to just laugh…it felt really good.

“Is this your place?” She asked. Alan opened the cottage door and invited Ariel inside.

“It belonged to my cousin… he died a few months ago. He left me this place.” Alan felt his voice trembling, his eyes suddenly felt wet. Ariel was quiet waiting for Alan to compose himself. Inside the cottage was equally breathtaking, the wall was made out of photographs and on each wall there was a quote with its own stories.

This is a wall of memories, of dreams; of life…Ariel was at awed at how beautiful it was. Ariel was held spellbind by a picture, she touched it gently; it was a picture of two laughing boys with their arms around each other.

“These pictures have so many different stories to tell. Look at this two boys…they’re best friend, the whole world belongs to them and they were going to conquered it together.” Ariel said, she turned to look at Alan.

“You’re right…that’s exactly what it means. That was Ambrose and me when we were young…we were going to conquered the world…later when we were older, we decided we were going to conquered the entertainment industry with my outstanding photography and his excellent ability to produce movies…we were…”

Alan stopped, he felt choked up. How could this simple girl do this to him? He tried so hard not to think about his cousin…with the death of Ambrose, it was as if a piece of him died too. Ariel sat him down and gave him a tissue.

“I’m sorry.” She whispered.

“How do you do that Ariel? Make me feel this way…I have yet to shed any tear for him, I refused to until I find the person that killed him.” Alan said softly.

“He was murdered?” Ariel asked shock. Alan nodded,

“He was murdered, even though everything is covered up real nice and tight. I know my cousin all my life and I know he didn’t commit suicide…I won’t rest until I find the killer” Alan glanced at Ariel’s pale face.

“Let’s talk about something do you feel about being a mom?”

Ariel grinned; she knew changing the topic was not only good for her but for him also.
She reached over and took Alan’s hands in hers, she knew he was hurting and she wanted to comfort him. She also understood that now was not the time for him to cried or let go of his emotions…he needed those emotions to help him stay focused in finding the killer.

“I don’t know, I’m excited and scared…but I think I’m ready…” Ariel became really animated in her excitement and continues talking. Ariel has not talked as much as she did tonight, but she was glad to have someone listen to her talk about her pregnancy and her emotions. She realized it was healing for Alan also; his tension was slowly dissipating little by little until he was grinning at her story.

Alan took a deep breath. Listening to Ariel talk was soothing for him for some unexplained reasons. Alan smiled at Ariel’s facial expressions as she describes her morning sickness, how she felt when the baby move at odd hours of the night, songs she listen to, different method used to soothe the baby and help her relaxed.

Watching her, listening to her…Alan felt like lighting had suddenly strike him, he couldn’t stop staring at Ariel, when did she become so beautiful! He suddenly realized Ariel was almost ethereal with her long black hair, soft expressive eyes, even with her huge stomach and small petite frame she was gorgeous in his eyes. Alan felt his heart beats faster and faster, and knew that right at that moment with his eyes on her smiling face and his heart hammering…he was falling in love with his best friend’s wife.

Chapter 8

Ariel couldn’t sleep, her feet was really swollen from standing all night at Alan’s party. Her back was aching so much that she couldn’t even lie down. The doctor told you to be careful! Why didn’t you listen? Ariel groans, like she had any choice! Alan’s party didn’t end until three in the morning, and Joe wanted to stay until the end.

Alan was actually very helpful throughout the night, he brought her a hot pack for her aching back; and he even sat her down and took her shoes off so her swollen feet wouldn’t hurt so much. Ariel believed it was because of their heart to heart moment at the cottage. She asked Alan if she could visit the cottage every once in a while as a thinking place.

He surprised her by giving the cottage’s spare key and said that she could visit any time she wanted. Alan was so much more considerate than her husband…what husband? Ariel refused to think of Joe as her husband. If she had known marrying Joe would be like this, she never would have married him. Ah…it’s all water under the bridge now Ariel, don’t think about it! Ariel scolded herself for reminiscing againI need to put something on my back, it’s too painful! Ariel dragged herself out of bed and walked quietly into the kitchen.

She heard Joe on the phone, and suddenly froze not quite sure what to do next. Since last month after Joe expressed openly his feelings toward her, Ariel did her best to ignore him and pretended they didn’t know each other. But at times like this, when her back was hurting and her feet was swollen and all she wanted was just some comforting words…Ariel’s heart ached for the man she fell in love with. She wished there was some way she could help him regained his memory…but Joe was very distant and a majority of time he was not even home…and when he is home, he stay coped up in his room.

She wished he was more involved in her pregnancy…but he didn’t even want to go see the doctor with her, most of the time it was Vic or his parents. Ariel sometimes wondered if he was purposely keeping his distance as a way to protect himself from becoming attached to the baby. With his behavior, it was really hard to tell what goes on in his head.

“I told you Selina, I’ve talked to Max already. I don’t know what it is that they want, and no I don’t remember anything….yes, it has to do with some photographs I took and some confidential documents…but I don’t know how they’re connected.” Joe signs in frustration; this was the fifth time Selina called.

“Look, you’re not involved in this so stop sticking your nose in other people’s business!” Joe said and hung up the phone, mumbling curses under his breath.

Ariel silently walked into the kitchen and opened the freezer; the ice pack was located in the far end of the freezer, way out of her reach. Without thinking, she quickly grabbed a stool and set it in front of the refrigerator.

Okay, you need to be careful! Slowly she climbed onto the stool and with one hand holding the freezer door, and the other hand she tried reaching for the ice pack. Ariel was trying to balance the stool as she slowly inched in for the pack. The chair started to wobbled and Ariel knew in that instant she was going to fall, she try grabbing hold of the freezer door but the sudden movement pushed the door away from her hands and she fell. Ariel remembered praying…oh dear god, please save my baby!


Ariel opened her eyes surprised that she was her room. Joe was sitting next to her on the bed; in his hands was an ice pack. Ariel realized her feet weren’t hurting, she glanced down; Joe must have wrapped it in warm towels. She felt something cold from the back and wondered if he had put some ice pack there too.

“What happen?” She asks.

“You fell but the doctor said you’re fine since it wasn’t a hard or high fall.” Joe answered; he was avoiding eye contact with Ariel. Is he concern? Ariel couldn’t tell if he was or not.

“And the baby?” Ariel wanted to know. Joe did not answer; instead he lifted her up and switched the ice pack.

“Is the baby okay?” She asked again.

“The doctor said for you to have a good night rest, and monitor any changes in your body…bleeding, anything that’s abnormal…if there’s changes then we’re to let him know…he’s in the next room” Joe said, but he still avoided looking directly in Ariel’s eyes. Something’s wrong….he’s not telling me something!

“Why is the doctor in our home at this hour? You’re hiding something from me; I need to know what it is now, tell me!” Ariel yelled in distraught, she was afraid…she was afraid of the answer. Joe remained silence.

“Tell me the truth; I want the truth …what happen?!” Ariel demanded.

“The baby…, the baby…., I….” Joe couldn’t say it; he squeezed his eyes shut tight as if he was in pain. He got up from the bed and suddenly punched the wall in frustration.

“What happen to my baby?” Ariel shouted, she felt cold all of a sudden…is this true fear? Did something happen to my baby? Oh god, what happen…? Ariel hurriedly pulled off her blanket and glanced down…she saw red everywhere. She heard herself screaming in fear, but could do nothing to stop from screaming…there was blood all over her lower portion of the body.


Joe punched the hospital wall over and over again until his hands bled; it’s your fault, it’s your damn fault for acting so callous towards her! He lifted his fist to punch the wall again but Vic stopped him. Ariel...even with the doctor in the home...her condition was so bad they had to rush her to the hospital. Joe saw bleed gushing out of his hands, but couldn't feel the pain.
“You’re not helping by acting out this way. Calm down.” Vic dragged Joe over to the bench and sat him down.

“She’s in critical condition right now…, you need to stay strong for Ariel.”

Vic's eyes welled up in tears of pain when he recalled getting the phone call from Joe. Joe was in a panic and was hardly audible when he told Vic Ariel had gone into premature labor…and the baby was stillborn.

“The baby couldn’t be saved, but she can…you need to stay calm and strong for her.”

Joe pushed Vic off him, he didn’t want to be hold…he didn’t want to feel more guilty than he already was. Joe saw his parents hugging each other in the corner, his mother quietly sobbing in his father’s arms. Joe banged his head against the wall…he couldn’t stop thinking about what happened that night…


Joe remembered the sudden surge of panic when he found Ariel on the kitchen floor unconscious and bleeding. The blood, the dark red blood around Ariel caught Joe’s attention and his vision became blurry. Joe felt his head aching; his brain was trying to recall something very important.

He saw fragmented visions of a man lying on the floor still as death, and another shadow standing over the fallen man. Joe strained his eyes trying to recall that elusive memory…the man on the floor looked like his friend Ambrose…, but he couldn’t see the face of the shadow standing over Ambrose. Then the vision disappear and Joe saw another vision…this time it was Ariel’s laughing eyes as she splashed water on him.

Joe saw himself chased after Ariel and lifted her up into his arms and kissed her gently on the lips. Ariel wrapped her arms and legs around him and they stayed in that position for a long time. As quick as the vision appeared, it was gone as quickly.

Something wet was rolling down Joe’s cheek; he touched his face and realized it was tears. Why am I crying…why is my heart hurting so much? Joe kneeled down beside Ariel and gently lifted her into his arms…what if, what if she was telling the truth? What if I really did love her? Joe felt the back of his head aching…straining to recall more memories, more memories of this girl in his arms but the more he tried, the more his head hurts. Joe put Ariel in bed and called the doctor, while he was waiting for the doctor he wondered about the shadow over Ambrose’s dead body.

Alan told him Ambrose was dead…but he didn’t go into details, Joe assumed it was either an accident or natural causes. But what if Ambrose was murdered? Is that why Alan was so anxious for him to regain his memories? Joe felt frustrated; he wished he could remember everything that happened in the past. He stared at Ariel for a long time, he wish he could remember she was and what she had meant to him.

End of flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joe got up when he saw the doctor walking towards them.

“How is she?” Nina asked urgently.

“She’s fine, she lost a lot blood. I recommend she stay in bed for a few weeks to recuperate. She’s still in shock over losing the baby; please help keep her stress level down.” The doctor handed Joe some paperwork to sign.


Ariel was hurting, her heart was dying in aching pain…the doctor said her baby was dead, but she refused to believe it...if her baby died then she would die too…so it’s not true, the doctor was lying. She stared at the wall, her mind was blank…she couldn’t focus, all she kept thinking over and over in her head was it’s not true, it’s not true. Her heart refused to accept that her baby was dead. Ariel rocked back and forth on the bed…it’s not true, my baby’s not dead…it’s not true. She closed her eyes briefly, silently sobbing and resumed staring at the wall again…it’s not true.

Joe observed her movements from the doorway; he couldn’t walk in the room. He recalled his behavior towards her and the baby and he couldn’t face her. It’s my fault…, I didn’t want to be a father, I damned her and the baby…and now I’m being punished. Joe closed his eyes and cried; even though he didn’t want to be a father…losing something that was a part of him still hurt deeply. After seeing the vision of Ariel in his arms, Joe wondered…what if he was wrong about Ariel, what if he was wrong about everything?

Chapter 9

Ariel sat inside the small cottage and closed her eyes. She felt at peace inside the cottage, the tranquility of the environment calmed her roaring emotions. She spent a month in the hospital recuperating from the loss of her baby…she never knew if it was a boy or a girl, she didn’t want to know, she wasn’t ready to know.

Sometimes Ariel would dream of her baby and the many what if questions popped in her head….what if her baby didn’t died? What if she didn’t step on the stool, what if she had paid more attention to the doctor’s instructions? What if the baby was wanted by both parents…would it have died? Did her baby died because it knew the parents weren’t ready?

 She tortured herself daily with what if questions, she knew it was pointless but still could not stop from wondering, asking, and praying for some kind of answer.Even though logically in her head Ariel understood her baby is dead…in her heart she was still hurting, and she wondered if she would ever heal.

Ariel refused to see Joe throughout her hospital stay…she never wanted to see Joe Cheng again. After she was released from the hospital, Ariel had moved into a hotel. She knew his parents were concern, especially Vic…but Ariel wanted space away from them and Joe. The door opened and Ariel saw Alan standing in the doorway, hesitating whether to leave or stay when he saw Ariel. Ariel smile and motioned for him to come inside.

“How are you feeling?” he asked gently. Ariel shrugged,

“I don’t know…same I guess.” They were both quiet for awhile, and then Alan whispered,

“You know Joe’s having a tough time too…especially now that he remembered a little bit of you.”

“Can we not talk about him please?” Ariel pleaded.

“I don’t know if Joe shared with you but he’s going through a lot right now; remember I told you Ambrose was murdered? I think Joe holds the key to finding the murderer…we actually switched assignment because Joe was in a better position to uncovered the real killer…if I had known what Joe had to go through, I wouldn’t have…” Alan stopped when Ariel bowed her head down over her knees.

“Please…don’t talk about Joe.” She begged, her heart hurts hearing Joe’s name. Alan nodded silently; he took hold of her hands and asked,

“What do you want to talk about?”

“Nothing…just hold my hand, that’s enough for me.”

Ariel squeezed Alan’s hand then she leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes again. Alan watched Ariel with her eyes closed for a long time, he wish there was something he could do for her. He wished he could take away her pain and make her smile again. They sat inside the cottage listening to the sound of silence with Alan staring at Ariel with unrequited love in his eyes. He slowly leaned in close to Ariel and wanted to kiss her…but held back because she was his best friend’s wife.

“You’re so beautiful Ariel…I’m sorry, but I just wanted to let you know…” Alan said out loud what he was thinking, surprised to hear himself. Ariel suddenly opened her eyes.

“No one ever calls me beautiful, pretty or cute but not beautiful…you’re a photographer so I’m accepting it as a compliment.” She grinned at him. Alan heaved a sign of relief,

“It is a compliment.”

Ariel noticed the intensity of emotions in Alan’s eyes and felt a little uneasy.

“Thanks…I should get going; I have an appointment with my lawyer.” She got up and grabbed her purse.

“A lawyer?”

“I’m divorcing Joe…getting married was a mistake for both of us.” She answered emotionless.

“You both agree?” Alan asked curious.

Ariel nodded, she was ready to let go of everything with Joe and go back to her old life…to her old self. She realized being pregnant and married to Joe, she somehow lost herself along the way without realizing it. Why was I so cowardly? Why didn’t I stand up for myself more…? Ariel learned an important lesson and she promised never to make the same mistake again.

This is goodbye forever Joe, after the divorce finalized Ariel planned to live in her hometown with her father. She planned to continue her nursing career…and promised never to see Joe Cheng again.

“Can I visit you?” Alan asked suddenly shy. Ariel nodded, Alan was a good friend and she did not want to lose their friendship.

“I would love for you to visit.” Ariel smiled and told Alan she needed to leave. After she was gone, Alan jumped up in excitement…he has a chance with her. No matter how long I have to wait Ariel, I’ll wait until you’re ready to love again, Alan promised silently.


A man held a gun over Ambrose’s fallen body, he shot Ambrose across the chest over and over again. Joe saw himself staring stunned from the doorway, his whole body frozen…he recalled picking up his camera and clicking as many time as possible then rushing out of the room. He heard police sirens from the background; he was sweating profusely in fear and from exhaustions. He heard footsteps following him and picked up his pace…hurry, hurry, hurry!

Then everything disappears, and Joe saw himself again, this time he was swimming in a lake with Ariel. She was wearing a pink t-shirt over her bathing suit. She splashed water at him and laughed at his expressions.

“Come and play with me, the water’s not cold; I promised…come on!” Ariel teased, and splashed more water. Joe rushed toward her and picked her up. She wrapped her arms and legs around him and they kissed tenderly. Ariel has the softest and sweetest kiss. Joe deepens his hold on her and slowly they sink deeper into the water.

 Ariel opened her eyes and winked at him then playfully she shoved him all the way under water. Joe saw Ariel swimming out of the lake and running away from him. He chased after her, and they playfully run after each other for awhile until he caught her from behind and resumed their kiss. After a long, deep sweet kiss, Joe held Ariel tight in his arms and leaned close to her ears.

“Have you ever thought about getting married?” He whispered.

“Only if it’s to you!” Ariel answered. Joe smiled with relief on his face.

“Then will you marry me Ariel? I love you, I’ve never fallen in love with anybody…you’re the first and I know deep in my heart the last and only girl I can and will ever love.” Joe said and gently lay her down onto the ground.

“I feel the same way about you…I love you too Joe, I love you too.” Ariel whispered back. Then the vision disappears; Joe suddenly opened his eyes and realized he was sweating all over. “Will you marry me Ariel? I love you…”

He remembered saying those words to her, he remembered the feeling of blissful contentment…he remembered the deep love he has for her. Joe groans, and damned himself to hell. What did I do? Oh god, what have I done?! He jumped out of bed and ran to Ariel’s room…when he opened the door he found the room empty. The he realized she left already, she was gone.

@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~“Joe hasn’t called me for over a month, what’s going on?” Max demanded over the phone. Selina winced at his loud tone.

“That’s because there’s nothing new. He still can’t remember anything; didn’t he say he’ll contact you when he remembers?” Selina asked.

“It might be too late by then; I need to know where he hid the rest of the photographs.” Max said angrily. Selina could tell he was frustrated and stress out.

“Have you found the script?” She asked.

“No, I thought Joe had it…but he didn’t. I think the script is hidden with the photographs.”

“When are you coming home?” Selina asked suddenly anxious for his return.

“I don’t know; if you want me home sooner you need to help me. Sleep with Joe or Alan or whoever, get some answers or we’re both in deep water.” Max shouted over the phone. Selina shrugged, Max and his outbursts and sporadic mood swings never changed…he was the same even when they were children.

“Look Max, I don’t know what’s going on but I’m doing the best that I can.” She explained hoping he wouldn’t be angry at her.

“Fine, get some answers and call me.” Then he hung up the phone.


“Okay, the divorce papers are ready. Just sign here and then I’ll send Mr. Cheng a copy to sign.” Mr. Lee, Ariel’s lawyer said. Ariel leaned over the table and quickly scrawled her signature. She heaved a deep sign of relief, it was done…she was free.

The moment Ariel arrived at the hotel; she packed all her bags and called for a cab. She carried all her bags downstairs and waited anxiously for the car. She wanted to leave Taipei as quickly as possible, she wanted to forget everything. When the car arrived, the cab driver helped Ariel with her bags. Once inside the car Ariel took off her wedding ring. She held the ring in her hands for a long time…this ring symbolize so many things, her baby…, her life as Mrs. Cheng, her new friends and family. This ring also symbolizes the death of her baby, her downhill relationship with Joe…and the end of their marriage.

Ariel signed deeply, suddenly feeling tire and old. She wanted to throw the ring out of the window; she almost did…but realized she needed to hold on to the ring to give her courage, to remember her struggles, her pain and also her will and determination for the future. Ariel pulled out one of her shoe string, with the ring inside the shoe string Ariel decided to wear it as a necklace.
“Goodbye Joe Cheng, I hope never to see you again.” Ariel whispered softly as the cab headed toward her hometown and out of Joe’s life.

Chapter 10

“Vic, there is a girl here to see you.” Pat, the waitress knocked on his office door with the message.“Who is it?” He asked. Pat shrugged and answered,

“Ruby I think.” Vic nodded and told Pat to show her in. Vic was exhausted, he had one hell of a week…with Ariel filing for divorce, and Joe regaining some of his memories, it seems the whole family was on a never ending emotional roller coaster ride. His parents were still mourning over the death of their grandchild…and Joe, Joe was on a slow decline sinking into depression.

Vic didn’t have the energy to face Ruby…, he didn’t want to see her, he was afraid of his own reaction towards her. Calm down Vic, remember your promise? You promise to let go of the past and just focused on the future…facing Ruby is part of the healing process, it’s part of letting go of the past. Vic reminded himself to concentrate on the here and now and not the past.

The moment Ruby walked inside the room, Vic felt his heart skips a beat. She looked the same…all these years and she still has an aura of innocence and kindness about her. Vic knew that to be false, she was heartless…she torn his heart into shreds and left him bleeding behind. Vic vowed never to judge a book by its cover again, it could be deadly.

“What do you want?” He asked. Ruby winced at the harsh tone he used, but she expected it to be this way.

“Did…did you get the locket?” she was nervous, standing next to Vic face to face…she wanted to jump in his arms, she wanted to cry her heart out and apologized over and over…she wanted to tell him the truth but was afraid to...she wanted to shared her pain...but didn't want to burden him.

Vic opened the draw and took out a locket and handed it to her.

“You can leave now.” He pointed to the door. Ruby held onto the locket for a few minutes then she dropped it on the desk.

“I just wanted to see you…even if it’s only for a brief second; I wanted to see your face.” She smiled hesitating at Vic and then with her head bowed down, Ruby started walking towards the door.

“Before you go, answer one question for me.” Vic stopped her with his question. Ruby nodded slowly and turned to face him with her eye brows raised quizzically.

“Why did you leave without saying goodbye?” He almost choked on his words, the rush of emotions surprised him…letting go of the past was a lot easier said then done.

“I didn’t want you to stop me.” Ruby answered truthfully, her eyes begged him to believed her and leave it at that. Vic didn’t like the answer at all…it wasn’t even an answer.

“Tell me the reason why you left.” Ruby remained silent.

“Did it have anything to do with your step father?” Vic inquired…he knew it had everything to do with her step father. He was the one that bailed him out of jail the night Ruby left home; but he wanted her to tell him the truth.

“I heard that you bailed him out of jail and managed to keep his mouth shut, how much money did you give him?” She asked.

“It doesn’t matter.” Vic waited for her to open up. Ruby avoided looking him in the eyes,

“I’ll pay you back…I know it’s thanks to you that my mom and brother are alive today. My mom said my step father died a week after I left and you were supporting them with your wages…I…I’ll give you back the money.” Ruby mumbled in a rush, she suddenly felt nervous. Vic’s eyes were filled with pity, anger and most of all…disappointment. Ruby started crying and in embarrassment she tried running out of the room.

 Vic grabbed her wrist and shouted,

“Damn you Ruby, tell me the god damn truth! I don’t care what it is, but I need an answer! You owed me that much!” Ruby started shaking in fear, oh my god…I’m losing my mind again, I’m losing it again. She tried breaking free from Vic’s hold but he held on to her tight. Ruby felt like the wall was closing in on her, she couldn’t breathe, in a panic she started gasping for air…oh god, no…not now, please not now! Ruby prayed, but her vision blurred and she felt energy draining from her body, suddenly weak she fell into Vic’s arms lifeless.

“What the hell?” Vic turned Ruby’s face toward him and felt panic rising when he saw her pale face. What the hell happened that night! Vic picked her up and took her in his car.


Ruby screamed in her sleep; she was afraid…she saw her younger self back in her old dark room again. Her step father was in the room with her, he stuffed her mouth with rags and pulled both her hands and tied it from the back. Ruby was afraid, she was so afraid she felt numb all over her body. She saw the hall way light flickered and saw the shadow of a man walked into the room. The man asked,

“How much?” Ruby knew what was going to happen, she escaped so many time already but this time it was unexpected…her step father wasn’t drunk and she had became too comfortable…she should have kept her guards up.

“I don’t care, enough to last me a few months.” Her stepfather answered.

“No! No! Please no!” Ruby begged in distress but couldn’t make a sound because of the rag in her mouth, where was her mother? What happen to her mother and brother? She looks around the room and couldn’t find them.

“Is she worth that much?” the man chuckled.

“She’s fresh, haven’t been used before.” Ruby heard the crisp answer.

“Fine, she’ll do…since she’s fresh, I’m handing her over to my son…it’s his first time.” The man answered. Ruby was thrust from her stepfather to the other man; she was dragged outside through the back door and shoved into a car parked in the back of their house. Ruby saw another man sitting in the car, she glanced up and saw a familiar face. He was surprised to see her.

“What’s this?” he asked his father in a gruff unhappy voice.

“Your birthday present” was the quick reply. Ruby’s only hope was in the hands of that familiar figure next to her. She begged him to help with her eyes, but when he turned to look at her with intense hunger in his eyes…she knew he wasn’t going to rescued her. She knew at that moment, this was the night she was going to be changed forever. Please forgive me Vic…, please forgive me, Ruby prayed silently.


“She left?” Vic asked the nurse.

The nurse nodded and handed him the release forms to sign. It appeared Ruby left the hospital on her own without permission. Vic was stunned and angry. He was more angry with himself, the moment Ruby fainted he rushed her to the hospital fearing for her health. Without meaning to, his heart opened up again just by glancing at her face, you’re a fool Vic…a damn fool.

Vic remembered the day Ruby fainted like it was yesterday, his heart was racing furiously in fear as he speeded his way through traffic. The words she said on the way to the hospital did not make sense at all, and Vic wondered what the hell it all meant. He knew from piecing everything she said, something must have happened the night she left Taiwan, something major must have happened, but he was still as clueless now as he was back then. Flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ruby…Ruby stay awake, keep your eyes open, I’m taking you to the hospital!” Vic said urgently as he speed from one lane to the next, praying that he could make it to the hospital without being stopped for breaking the law. Ruby groaned and held both her hands up in front of her as if the protect herself from an attacker.

“Don’t hurt me…please don’t hurt me.” She whimpered in agony as tears flow down her cheek.
“No one’s going to hurt you Ruby, I promise…I’m here.” Vic said trying to keep his focus on her and the road at the same time.

“I..I don’t want to, please Vic, please help me…please!” Ruby continues whimpering. She continues to swing her hands back and forth as if pushing someone off her. He’d never seen Ruby behaved this way before…what the hell happened?

“You can’t do this to me, you can’t betray me and Vic like this…please think of Vic…please…” Ruby groaned in pain then suddenly started screaming in agitation and fear. Vic felt hopeless watching Ruby in so much pain. Hurry, hurry, faster, faster! He stepped on the gas again.

End of flashback~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ruby ended up staying at the hospital way longer than expected. She was eventually sent to the psychiatric unit. Vic went to visit her everyday, but she refused to tell him what happened to her. Ruby why don’t you trust me? What do I need to do to make you trust me? Give it up Vic, give it up! He berated himself for being a fool again and angrily walked out the hospital. He threw the bouquet of wildflowers he brought for Ruby in the trash can and without a backward glance got in his car and drove off.


Ruby waited until Vic was gone then she went to the trash can and picked up the bouquet. She held the bouquet in her hands for a very long time in deep thoughts. Maybe it was a mistake to come back…maybe she’s not ready yet. Ruby signed in frustration, she wanted to start a new life, she wanted to be with Vic but just like the past…she let fear take control of her. The image of that familiar face haunted her for years…what he did to her, what she was forced to do. Ruby closed her eyes, and tried to calm her nerves…she felt the need for vengeance reawaken in her heart. Please, just let me be at peace…please…she prayed, but knew that she was never going to be at peace until she destroyed the person that had ruined her. He was someone everyone knew and loves…he was someone even she trust until that night…that night he had turned her world upside down.


Joe stared at the divorce papers in front of him. The package arrived almost a month ago but he didn’t want to look inside, he knew what it was. After debating with himself, he finally opened the envelope and took out the divorce document. Should I just signed and free Ariel…or should I begged for forgiveness and hope she give me a second chance? Joe accepted that he truly loves Ariel…but he also understood his behavior towards her was abhorrent and he has no one to blame but himself.

He was ashamed of himself…those nights he was out partying, sleeping with other women while Ariel was at home lonely and hurt over his behaviors. No…she deserved someone much better than me, I don’t deserve her. Joe heaved a sign of regret and with shaky hand, he signed the divorce document. This is to prove that I love you Ariel…I love you so much that I’m willing to set you free. With the signed document in his hands, Joe didn’t know if he should mail it or hold on to it. He stood there undecided for some time, and then with a determined look on his face he made up his mind. He knew what to do next, and he hopes that he’d made the right decision.


“Have you thought about getting married and having kids in the future?” Alan asked, curious. He’s been coming to see Ariel almost everyday, and felt she was comfortable enough with him to answer some private questions. Ariel smiled at Alan’s question and continues picking flowers from the side of the lake and putting it in her basket.

“Maybe…, what about you Alan? Do you have someone in mind?” Ariel asked.

“Yes, I do have someone but it’s a secret. I’m waiting until she’s ready.” He answered. Ariel was curious,

“Tell me please? who is it?”

“She’s about your height; about the same built, long black hair…she’s a lot like you.” Alan grins at her confused look.

“Are you by any chance referring to me?” Ariel asked quietly.

“It depends on your answer.” Alan was suddenly serious; he stared straight into her eyes waiting for her response. He also scolded himself …she’s not ready yet, why did you go and say something like that!

“I thought you were in love with Selina.” Ariel said. Alan shrugged,

“I had a crush on her for a very long time…since we were in high school, but I realized what I felt wasn’t love, not after meeting you.”

Ariel sat down and put the basket of flowers in front of her.

“I don’t know what to say Alan, you’re been such a great friend…supporting me after I lost my baby, letting me cry on your shoulder when I felt lonely and depressed…” Ariel closed her eyes briefly…the look on Alan’s face was heartbreaking…how could she say no to him?

“…but I have to be honest with you…I’m still very hurt over Joe. If you’re willing to accept me with my wounded heart, then I’m willing to give us a chance.” Alan could not believe his ears; Ariel was giving him a chance. He leaned over and kissed Ariel soflty on the lips, and then hugged her. She made him the happiest man alive. Alan got up, took her hands in his and together hand in hand they walked back to town.

Chapter 11

“Damn this job! I’m going back to Taiwan” Max said angrily over the phone. His mother, Maki Akanishi covered her ears not wanting to listen to her son’s rant. She handed the phone to her husband.“Calm down, everything is under control here.” Mr. Chu said.

“No everything is not under control; did your men get what I need?”

“We’re working on it Max, you need to stay low until I tell you otherwise.” Mr. Chu warned his son.

“I can’t take that chance; I’m done wasting my time here, I’m coming home.” With that said, Max hung up the phone. Maki nervously pulled on her dress, she was afraid to ask her husband what her son wanted but felt compelled to ask because of her worry for him.

“What did he say?” She asked softly fearing the worst.

“He wants to come home.” Her husband answered.

“What if…what if he becomes moody again?” She wondered out loud. Mr. Chu chuckled,

“Put him back on medication.”

Maki didn’t want her son on medication; he becomes a completely different person whenever he was on medication.

“I..I…think it’s a good idea to send him to my parents for a little while.” She whispered softly. Mr. Chu shrugged,

“Let him be, he’s not a kid anymore. Besides why would he want to go see them? Every time he visits there, they call him by his Japanese name and he hated it.”

Maki frowned,

“He shouldn’t feel that way. On his birth certificate I name him Jin Akanishi; I don’t understand why he insisted on being call Max.” Mr. Chu laughed at his wife’s ignorance.

“Because he wants to believed that he’s my real son; can you blame him for refusing his Japanese blood?” Mr. Chu asked.

Maki knew why her son refused to acknowledge his Japanese blood…it was because of what had happened to them in the past. She was kicked out of the home after she gave birth to Max. He never forgave his grandparents for their harsh action, even though they apologized and reconciled with Maki…Max was still bitter and held a grudge against them.

Maki married his real father…a Taiwanese and they moved to Taiwan; expecting a long happy life with her husband, Maki was unprepared and without any means of support when she was suddenly left on her own. Max’s biological father was from a very prominent family in Taiwan, upon learning their son’s marriage to a Japanese girl…they forced the two to divorce and she was put out on the street with her infant son.

Maki shakily sat down on the crouch; she blamed herself for her son’s behaviors. She kept too many secrets from him, and he became an angry bitter person after learning the truths. She still remember the day her son learned of his real father’s identity …he was so angry, Maki swear Max had gone berserk because he trashed everything that was in the house. Max was never the same after that day, and Maki has been covering and cleaning up his mess ever since.


“Where are you going?” Selina asked. Joe shoved two huge bags in the back of his trunk and reply,

“To see my wife.” Selina frowned, she thought after the baby’s death Joe and Ariel were going to divorced.

“Why? I thought you said you didn’t love her.”

“I change my mind. I do love her.” Joe said curtly and continues putting the rest of his bags inside the car.

“Are you going on a long trip? What’s with all these bags?”

“I’m going to win my wife’s heart…and I have a feeling it’s going to take a long time.” Joe answered and got inside the car.

“Aren’t you curious why I’m here?” Selina asked.


“What if I tell you that I’m jealous of your wife, are you going to give us another go?” Selina said with an impish smile. Joe shook his head,

“No we’re done Selina…it’s becoming too mundane for me.” Joe put the car in drive and scowled when Selina opened the passenger door and jumped inside.

“I’m curious about Ariel, let me come with you. She must be someone special if free sex doesn’t entice you.” Joe groaned, Selina was giving him one hell of a headache,

“I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.”

“Don’t worry about me; I can take a cab home.” Selina answered and told Joe to get going. She leaned back in the seat and replayed the words Max told her; “keep close eyes on Joe; let me know if there are any changes. I need your help Selina…you’re the only one that I trust.”


Alan laid the flowers Ariel made for him in front of Ambrose’s grave.“I’m here again Amb, can’t seem to stop talking to you huh? Still following you even though you’re gone…” Alan put his head in his hands, damn he missed Ambrose. They were the best of friends; they grew up together and shared everything.

“I still find myself picking up the phone and dialing your numbers…wondering why it’s out of service and then…I remember…damn it Ambrose why did it have to be you? Why?”

Alan gently fingered the headstone and whispered,

“You know how we used to tease about there being almost zero percent of human beings finding their soul-mate. We even joked about how the world was coming to an end if one of us were lucky enough to find that special someone? Guess what, the world’s coming to an end…because I’ve found my other half.”

Alan chuckled, when did I become so sentimental? It must be Ariel’s influence. Everything was beautiful…even the newborn babies that Ariel helped delivered with their wrinkle faces and loud cries. Alan admired her strength and determination; he knew helping her dad delivered newborns was hard for her but she held her composure and did her job efficiently every time.

“Hard to believe huh Amb? With me always chasing after Selina…, damn I wish you could meet Ariel. She’s the sweetest girl out there; I want to marry her if she’ll have me…”

Alan felt silly talking to his dead friend, but somehow he knew in his heart Ambrose was listening to him…maybe even laughing at him for being so mushy.


“We’re here and I want you out of my car NOW.” Joe looked meaningfully at Selina. With a grunt, Selina opened the door and got out.

“She’s not at home, so give it up. Go find a hotel to stay…wait is there even a hotel here?” She looked around the small town with a frown. Selina leaned over to Joe with a teasing smile whispered,

“Why don’t we spend some more time together?”

Joe didn’t answer, he waited impatiently for Selina to closed the car door; Selina shrugged and slammed the door. What’s up with the attitude? She was not in the mood to cajoled Joe today. The moment the door closed, Joe drove off. Selina took out her cell phone and reserved a room. With her sleeping arrangement in place, she quickly dialed Max’s number.

“Max, I have some news.”

“What is it?”

“I think Joe remembers something. He’s been acting strange lately… today he decided he wanted to stay married to his wife…a wife he did not remembered meeting, but now he even admits he loves her.”

“Did he say anything else?” His voice suddenly got louder and Selina wondered why Max was so concerned about Joe recovering his memories.


“Are you positive?” Max demanded.


“I’m coming back home Selina; leave the spare key behind the plant. I want everything to be in secret just like before, understand?” Max said firmly. Selina jumped in excitement; she can’t wait to see him.

“Okay, it’ll be our secret” she quickly assured him.


Joe parked his car and sat inside pondering for a long time. He was puzzled at his behavior; for some unexplained reasons, his hands automatically drove the car to this deserted spot by the lake. He could have sworn he’d never been here before…but then he’s not quite sure…even though he has no memories of this place, his body reacted strongly to it. As if it was familiar with the place, he found himself walking through the woods, and climbing over high rocks.

He was hiking along the lake for a long time and didn’t stop until he saw the most beautiful site in front of him. It was a lake; in the corner of the lake was a circular spot perfect for swimming. There was also a passage almost like a waterfall with water running freely replenishing the swimming area. Joe quickly walked over and took his shoes off; he sat down and dipped his feet in the water.

Ah, it felt so good! Without warning, something jumped out of the river and Joe came face to face with Ariel. Her eyes widen in shock when she saw Joe; she rushed out of the lake and grabbed her towel. Ariel glanced behind quickly before leaving but turned around in concern when she saw Joe’s motionless body falling into the water.

Without pausing Ariel jumped in the lake. This reminded her of the first time she met Joe, and for a brief moment she wondered if Joe was playing a trick on her. She went underwater and grabbed hold of him and with all her strength pulled him out to dry land. She leaned in close and couldn’t hear Joe breathing.

Ariel felt for his pause, something was wrong…Joe’s not breathing! Ariel felt panic rising inside her and she quickly performed mouth to mouth CPR. Joe…Joe…Joe…with every breath she takes, she called his name silently. Joe finally coughed and water flowed out of his mouth, Ariel helped him up and checked his pause again. After she was done, she looked up at Joe and found him staring at her.

“Ariel…Ariel…I love you.” He whispered with tears in his eyes, without warning he grabbed hold of her and hugged her tightly. Something was different about him; Ariel realized it was in his gaze…he was staring at her with deep love in his eyes…the same way he did before losing his memories. This time there was also deep sorrow and regrets in his gaze, silently begging her to forgive him.

“Ariel, Ariel…I’m so sorry baby, please forgive me…” Joe repeated over and over while holding her in his arms.

“What happen?” She asked confused at his sudden change of behavior. Joe held her even tighter and with despair in his voice he reply softly,

“I remember everything…this place, the lake, you…I remember everything.”

Chapter 12

Vic got a phone call from the psychiatric unit; one of the staff said Ruby left a bag behind and they didn’t have her contact number. Vic didn’t have her personal information so he went and picked up her bag from the hospital; hoping to find some kind of clues to her errant behaviors. Once home he threw the bag on the table and leaned back against his bedroom wall, debating whether he should take a look inside or just leave it.

After a while, he leaned forward and opened the bag. Inside was a notepad, a few pens and a small key. Frowning, Vic scanned through her notepad…inside the notepad was a picture of him, Joe and his three other high school buddies. One of the people in the picture was circled with a check marked next to it…and the word KILL. Puzzled Vic flipped through the notepad wondering if he had missed something the first time. He turned each page over and over until towards the end of the pad, there were some writings. Vic felt his whole body turned numb when he read what she wrote. Please don’t do it Ruby, don’t do it! He grabbed her bag and ran out to his car.


Ruby waited outside his home patiently. After she left the hospital, she made up her mind to free herself once and for all; Ruby decided there was only one solution, only one option…there was no other way to truly be free until he was six feet under the ground…dead, gone, and his existence wiped from the face of the earth. She waited everyday behind the corner…waiting, waiting, waiting; she didn’t care how long she has to wait…with her gun in her pocket, she was ready and damn the consequences!


“Where the hell are you?” Vic shouted over the phone frantic.

“Why?” the other person asked.

“I don’t know what the hell happened between you and Ruby, but I want you to tell me the truth now!” Vic said angrily over the phone. The other line was silence for a minute and then he said,

“Is she back from America?…did she say anything about me to you?” suddenly the other person sounded concern.

“No, she didn’t, that’s why I’m asking you what the hell happened between you two.” Vic felt frustrated; it was as if they were giving him the run around.

“How is she?” the other person asked.

“Why the hell do you care?” Vic wanted to know.

“She’s my friend too…so you two made up?”

“Look, we’ve been friends for a very long time…something happened between you and Ruby and I need you to tell me.” Vic said impatiently.

“You won’t like the answer Vic. As someone that knows you only too well, I suggest you leave it at that and don’t dig any deeper or you won’t like what you find.” Came the gruff response and then he hung up the phone.

Vic ran his hands through his hair and got inside his car. He headed straight to Mrs. Lin’s apartment. The night Ruby left, Mrs. Lin kept her mouth closed and did not denied or admits that Ruby left home because of her husband. The only thing she said was that it was safer for Ruby to be out of the house.

“Mrs. Lin, time to fess up the truth…” Vic mumbled and stepped on the gas.


The man pushed his seat back and closed his eyes. He just got the best news in the world…his little whore was back in Taiwan. He suddenly groaned remembering the night they spent together and all the wonderful things she did for him. She was the woman for him, no one came even close to her…he search and search for someone that could come a little close to his Ruby…but no luck. Eyes filled with lust, he glanced out the window…be patient Ruby, be patient…I’m coming to get you.


“Mrs. Lin, I don’t have much time. Tell me what happened the night Ruby left home?” Vic asked urgently. Mrs. Lin stared at the floor and nervously pulled her hair.

“What…what do you mean? It’s been so long…I, I don’t remem…” Mrs. Lin stuttered.

“Cut the bull crap! Your daughter is in danger and if you don’t tell me the truth I won’t be able to help her!” Vic shouted, he was tired of people hiding information from him.

“Dan…danger? What do you mean?” Mrs. Lin suddenly looked up with worry lines on her face.

“Your daughter is planning to kill someone; she has a gun with her.” Vic said, still shocked over what he read.

“Do you know who?” Mrs. Lin asked.

“If you don’t give me the information right now, I have no choice but to turn your daughter in. The police will put her in jail and she might never …”

“Okay, stop! Please don’t blame Ruby…it’s not her fault.”

Mrs. Lin nervously sat down on the sofa and stared at the wall, she was ashamed to look Vic in the face.

“That night…that night, my husband was out of money and he wanted a drink real bad. He already gambled our rent money. You see…he, he had a habit of picking up girls and selling them to the highest bidder…that was how he made money. Well I told him never to get close to my Ruby…that was the deal between us, but sometimes…sometimes he would forget and tried to sale her. Well, that…that night because he was in a bad mood he beat me up real bad…and locked me in the closet with my son. He told me he was going to sale Ruby…said Ruby was living for free and needed to put in her fair share.” Mrs. Lin paused and closed her eyes…she didn’t want to remember that night; she didn’t want to admit that her daughter was raped because of her negligence as a mother.

“Ruby was sold?!” Vic asked softly but his eyes were filled with anger…enough anger to kill someone. Mrs. Lin nodded and continued,

“She was sold to the highest bidder…one of the more prominent families in Taipei. Afterward, she was dropped off in the back alley; that was where I found her…she was bleeding and bruised. When I touched her she started crying and didn’t want me near her. She ran inside the house headed straight to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and without warning stabbed her stepfather repeatedly from chest to stomach. We thought he was dead…but when he stood up and grabbed the knife from Ruby, I told her to run…I told her to find my younger sister and I let my husband stabbed me, I didn’t care if I was dead…I just wanted Ruby to be safe. When the police arrived… you know what happen. I told them domestic violence and I was defending myself…and later you bailed him out.”

Mrs. Lin stared shamefully at the ground. She waited for Vic to say something, but he did not. Vic stood in front of her still as a rock staring off into space trying to rail in the raging emotions inside of him. Finally with a loud, frustrated painful roared, he kicked the table in front of him, punched the wall repeatedly, and smashed all the vases lined against the wall.

“Ruby was raped?!” He asked with a deadly whisper. Mrs. Lin nodded, head held down afraid that Vic was going to hit her.

“I’m not like that husband of yours…I will never hit a woman no matter how much she deserved it.” Vic said calmly. Vic stopped when he saw pictures of Mrs. Lin’s late husband by the door; with precise motion he took the pictures off the wall and with his lighter he burned each and every single pictures of the dead man. The he walked out of the house…leaving debris from the broken vases, and smashed walls behind.


Ariel pushed Joe off her. What did Joe mean when he said he remembers everything? Why now when everything’s too late?“What do you mean by that?”

Joe took her hands in his again and said,

“You, I remember you and our summer together. I remember the promise we made to meet each other…everything.” Ariel got up and stepped away from Joe.

“It’s too late Joe, I’m sure you also remember the way you treated me when we were married. If you really love me as you claimed…then even if you didn’t recognize me, your heart should have.” She pulled her hands out of Joe’s grasp and reached for her towel; she turned away from Joe and started walking back to town. Joe followed her silently from behind.

“Stop following me!” Ariel shouted.

“You’re still married to me; I shredded the divorce paper…I still love you and I refused to divorce you.” Joe said and walked in front of her. Ariel stomped her feet and ran in front of him.

“I don’t love you Joe…” Ariel yelled and started running away from him. Joe frowned and ran after her. He grabbed her wrist and stopped her.

“You still love me.” Joe held her face in his hands and stared into her eyes.

“You still love me.” He repeated again. Ariel shook her head,

“I don’t…how dare you assumed I love you! I already buried the love I have for you the day our baby died!” She felt panic when Joe leaned in close to her; they were almost nose to nose.

“You still love me.” He said again very calmly, patiently as if waiting for Ariel to discover something that he already knew. Ariel was afraid to look into Joe’s eyes, she was afraid of her emotions.

“Don’t be stubborn. Listen to me because I am not going to repeat myself. I DON’T LOVE YOU!” Ariel said the last four words really slow and loud.

Joe smiled and pulled Ariel’s into his arms.

“Are you trying to convince yourself? Because I know you love me. I can feel it in your shivers as I touch you. I can feel it in your heart when I hold you...listen…they’re beating faster the closer I am to you. I can see it in your eyes…I can taste it…”

Joe leaned down and kissed Ariel on her lips. Joe signs in satisfaction as he nibbled the top and bottom of her soft lips; then slowly he descended down to her collarbone and tenderly rain kisses all over her neck and slowly worked his way back to her lips. Ariel couldn’t stop him, her body reacted hungrily to his touch…it reacted so strongly that she was unable to think…the sensation of his kisses pleasured her all over her body, she wanted the sensation to continue forever. Ariel! Think about Alan…think about Alan! She told herself and bit Joe’s lips.

“Owww!” He yelped, there was blood on his lips.

“I…I love Alan.” Ariel said quickly and tried pushing Joe off her but he would not let her out of his embrace.

“Alan? What Alan?” He asked softly, afraid of the answer.

“Your friend…Alan.” Ariel said and this time Joe let her out of his embrace.

“You’re dating Alan?” He asked, not quite sure how to react or if he even believe it.

“Ask him if you don’t believe me. I suggest you sign that divorce paper Joe. We’re over, everything’s over.” Ariel walked away, leaving a very stunned Joe behind.


You’re an idiot Ariel! Why did you let him kissed you? You completely forgot about Alan! If Joe didn’t sign the divorce paper that means you’re cheating him…What?

“Ahh! Stop it!” Ariel suddenly shouted and knocked on her head a few times.

“Stop what?” a male voice teased from behind. Ariel turned around and jumped in startled.

“Alan! When did you get here?” She asked.

“Just now, did you go for a swim?” he asked. Ariel nodded. Alan moved in close to her and gently kissed her lips and took her hands.

“Here, let me hold the towel for you. I missed you.” He whispered in her ears and held her closer. Ariel smile nervously and asked,

“Did you visit Ambrose?” Alan grinned,

“Yeah…and I told him all about you.”

“What did you tell him?” Alan chuckled and said,

“It’s a secret.”

“Tell me”



Joe watched Ariel and Alan arms in arms walking back to her home. Alan looked so carefree and relaxed; he was smiling and laughing…the most relaxed Joe has ever seen him. Ariel…Ariel was smiling into his friend’s face, they were teasing each other back and froth.

Joe felt his knees weaken; he sat down on the ground defeated. Ariel wasn’t lying…the person she love wasn’t him…it was his best friend!

Chapter 13

“He’s not here.” Ruby heard a voice whispered in her ear, in reflex she took out her gun and tried to pressed the lever but it wouldn’t budged. The person behind her grabbed hold of the gun and ripped it out of her hands.“What are you so afraid of?” The voice asked again, this time filled with pity. Ruby slowly turned around and faced Vic. From the looks on his face, she realized he must have learned the truth…he knows, he knows about her secret. Ruby bowed her head in shame, she felt dirty and used…she’s not worthy of love…not worthy to love Vic.

With an anguish cry, Ruby covered her face and kneels down on the cement. She didn’t want Vic’s pity; she didn’t want him to ever know of her shame…now that he knows, he’ll hate her…or even worse, pity her! She sat on the ground sobbing, everything was lost.

Crying uncontrollably, Ruby prayed that Vic would just leave her alone; she didn’t want him to see this side of her…this weak, timid, shameful side of her. Vic slowly and gently took her face in his hands and gazed at her with a mixed of emotions in his eyes.

“Did you think I would stop loving you Ruby? Or blame you?” Ruby shamefully avoided looking him in the eyes; Vic turned her face towards him again and whispered,

“Look at me Ruby, what do you see? Is this the face of a man who would abandon you or stop loving you for something that is out of your control?” Ruby shakily shook her head; she put her head between her knees afraid to believe Vic’s words.

“I’m dirty Vic, I did so many things that night…I thought I could put it behind me but I can’t. I’m not a whole person anymore, I don’t know who I am…I’m afraid…”

Vic took her in his arms,

“You’re not dirty Ruby…don’t ever believe that it’s your fault, it is not your fault. He’s going to pay for what he did to you, I promised you that. You are to stay far away from him and let me take care of everything.” Vic said firmly. It was a promise Vic planned to keep no matter what. It was payback time for all those years of suffering Ruby endured.


Two days later

“Why are we all here?” Alan asked. Joe locked the bedroom door and signaled for Vic to begin the meeting.

“Remember the night Ruby left Taiwan? She didn’t leave on her free will; it was because she didn’t have any choice.” Vic stated. Alan frowned; he didn’t understand what was going on. Why bring up Ruby? Hasn’t it been four or five years since she left Taiwan?

“Why are we talking about Ruby?”

“She’s back.” Joe answered, and glanced at his brother.

“She was raped by someone we all know and trust; this person is from a family that has enough clout to influence government officials to covered up his messes; Joe also regained most of his memories…relating to Ambrose’s death. Tonight’s meeting is to decide what we’re going to do about it.” Vic nodded towards Joe.

Joe put both his hands on the wall and after a few minutes of knocking and pressing, he took a hammer from his draw and punched through the wall. He then reached inside the wall and pulled out three large size envelopes.

“This is the infamous photographs everybody’s looking for. Take a look at it.” Joe said quietly and handed the pictures to Alan.

“Looks familiar?” Vic asked. Alan was stunned, where did all these pictures comes from?

“Here’s something else, I think this explain things a little bit more, don’t you?” Joe added and handed Alan a document.

“What the hell?” Alan stared at the document with confusion in his eyes. What the hell? He was stunned speechless.


The three men stood in the room silently; each with different thoughts running through their head.“So, what we discussed about…this must be it Joe.” Alan glanced over at his friend.

“You remember right?” he asked. Joe nodded; the worried look on Alan’s face brought him back to the night he first took the photographs.


Joe slide inside his car with a smile on his face; Ariel had just accepted his proposal to share the rest of her life with him! He touched the camera around his neck, they took so many pictures today, he could not wait to develop the films. Joe was almost home when he received a call from Ambrose.

“Yeah?” Joe answered.

“Joe I need you to pick something up for me, it’s really important.” Ambrose sounded panicky. Joe frowned; Ambrose usually is so calm why does he sound so anxious?

“What is it?” Joe asked glancing at the freeway exit.

“Go by my studio and pick up a package for me, someone sent it to me…he said it’s in my mailbox.” Ambrose said quickly and hung up the phone. Joe shrugged, turned his car around and headed toward Ambrose’s studio.


Joe whistles as he climbed up the stairs; He loves visiting Ambrose’s condo, everything was so nice and elegant…not to mention plenty of beautiful women. Surprisingly today was quiet. Normally there were a lot of people walking through the hallway. Halfway to Ambrose’s unit, he heard people arguing with each other. Curious Joe tiptoed towards the sounds. It was coming from Ambrose’s place. Ah! Joe realized he left Ambrose’s package in his car. Not wanting to walk all the way back downstairs, Joe reached inside the mat for the spare key. He couldn’t find the key, without hesitation Joe opened Ambrose’s door. What Joe saw frozen him on the spot like a statue…Ambrose was laying on the ground, bloodied and his eyes closed. Is Ambrose dead? Joe saw a man standing over Ambrose firing one gunshot after another. Joe suddenly grabbed his camera and without thinking hastily clicked his camera as fast as he could. The man heard the camera clicking and turned towards Joe; not wanting his face seen, Joe ran downstairs praying that he could make it to his car. Joe heard footsteps behind him, sweating and with his heart speeding, Joe picked up his pace and ran even faster. He grabbed the car keys out of his pocket and without a backward glance jumped in the car and drove off. Joe looked in the rearview mirror and for a brief second thought the silhouette of the man panting behind looked familiar. Joe thought he saw his friend Max Chu…but he wasn’t sure.

End of flashback @~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alan was still waiting for Joe’s answer.

“Yeah, I remember. When the police ruled Ambrose’s case as suicide, I knew something was wrong. Everything makes more sense now with the pictures and the birth certificate.” Joe said, he picked up the legal birth certificate and shook his head. Who would have thought Max Chu and Ambrose were half brothers?

“Max saw me that night at Ambrose’s place. He knew I took pictures. When we met in Africa he denied it was him, but the more he denied and make up excuses I was more sure it was him.” Joe stops talking for a second, and massaged his head. His head was hurting; thinking about the past always give him a headache.

“Max purposely paid someone to bomb my car, if I was inside the car that night…I would be dead; I guess thanks to the higher power, I was mugged, beaten and knocked senseless by a group of hooligans and didn’t make it to my car that night. Next thing I remember, I woke up without any memories of what had happened. Thank god, I left before Max…” Joe stopped when Vic held up his hands.

“Max didn’t work alone; he couldn’t possibly get away with all this by himself.” Vic said while looking through the pictures.

“Whether he works alone or not, we might not have enough to convince the judge. This might be enough to convince the judge Ambrose was murdered, but is it enough to put Max behind bars? These pictures only show his back view and not his face.” Alan said, still shock with the truths.

He finally understood now why Joe was so adamant about going to Africa in his place. They discussed the possibility of Max knowing something about Ambrose’s death…but to be the murderer? Alan felt unwavering rage inside of him; he wanted to wrap his hands around Max and choked the life out of him. Ambrose…I’m so sorry buddy! Alan closed his eyes and sat down on the bed with his head bowed down. Vic put his arms around Alan in comfort.

Alan and Joe decided it was better for Joe to visit Max when they found out that Max was sent to Africa as a UN representative through his father’s connection.

“I didn’t opened Ambrose package until it was almost time for me to go to Africa…but when I did…I found the birth certificate and dozens of photographs of Ambrose and his dad…Max’s dad also.” Joe scanned through the pictures; Max must have spent a lot of his time shadowing his birth father and half brother. There were a lot of pictures; some of them have death threats next to their faces.

Joe decided to hide everything he has inside his bedroom wall. He didn’t want to accuse Max without finding out the truths; Max was someone he grew up with, laughed and loved. Joe regretted his actions; he should have gone straight to the police instead of meeting with his friend. Vic jumped up suddenly with one of the pictures in his hand.

“Joe…Alan, does this look like a permanent scar to you?” Vic asked excitedly. Alan and Joe looked at the picture, it was the back of Max’s left arm.

“Yeah, Max had it stitched four or five years ago; some kind of accident.” Alan answered with a frowned at Vic. Four or five years ago? Did Ruby leave that mark on him? Vic wondered.

“With this scar, we can prove that Max killed Ambrose.” Vic answered.

“The question is how are we going to get him to cooperate; and is he even in Taiwan?” Joe wondered.

Chapter 14

Selina wrapped her arms around Max and closed her eyes uneasily; Max acted very differently ever since he came back home. Every night, he used her to satisfy his needs, but it seems he’s becoming even more distant and dissatisfied with her.She remembers staring into his lust filled gaze, but his eyes did not see her…it was as if he was imagining she was someone else. She knew something was wrong when he called her another woman’s name…he called her Ruby. Selina felt tears flowing down the side of her eyes and turned away from Max. She didn’t want him to see her crying.

Silently sobbing, Selina did not hear her cell phone rings. Max grabbed her phone and threw it on the bed, and then he got up and walked naked into the bathroom. She heard the shower turned on. Selina signs, she couldn’t concentrate…she wanted to know who the other woman was. Ruby…Ruby…the name sounds so familiar…do I know her?

The phone continues to ring, forcing herself she answered the phone.


“Selina, where are you now?” Alan asked.

“Home” She groans and got out of bed.

“Selina…the guys and I, we need to talk to you…” Alan started to say but was cut off.

“I’m kind of busy right now, I’ll call you later.” Selina said and hung up the phone; she made up her mind. It didn’t matter who Ruby was, she was going to make Max forget all about the other woman…she wants to be his number one only.


“You’re positive that you gave him that scar?” Detective hung asked Ruby again. Ruby nodded, how many time did she answered yes already? Detective hung held up the picture of Max with the scar on his left arm in front of Ruby.

“You have to be 100% sure, this is the son of one of the most influential business man in Taiwan, not to mention the politics involved if he is convicted.” Detective hung stared intensely into Ruby’s eyes, he was not taking a chance on his career if there was any doubt.

“I’m more than 100% sure.” Ruby answered. Vic took her hands in his and squeezed it gently.

“You, Joe Cheng…you’ll be on the witness stand and Ruby you need to file a rape report and gives testimony to how Max Chu received that scar; it’s gonna be a long and ugly fight, are you willing to go through with it?” Detective hung asked the group sitting in front of him. They all nodded with determination on their faces. Detective hung nodded and signals one of his men to contact the UN embassy. After a few minutes, one of the staff hung up the phone and said,

“Max Chu quit his position as of last week; he should be in Taiwan by now.”

“Contact his family” Detective hung ordered.

“I want murder case no.XXXX reopened, name of victim Ambrose, and date of death……”

Alan closed his eyes and signed in relief; with a silent prayer, Alan thanked the higher power and whispered, “Amb, you can rest peacefully now we’re going to do everything we can to cleared your name.”


Six months later

“Max Chu was found dead at the home of super model Selina Ren; his body parts dismembered. The doctor said his heart was missing…. Selina and Max rarely were seen in public and it came as a surprise to colleagues and friends that Selina and Max was dating. Max Chu was also under investigation for the death of an upcoming movie producer, however the case was dropped and all legal charges were denied by the court. Selina Ren insisted the death of Max Chu was an accident, she said it was self defense; she claims she was protecting herself from Max’s erratic behaviors. The outcome of this case is still pending…”

Alan turned off the TV, and sat down next to Selina in the jail visitor’s room.

This was the first time he saw her without any make up on, nor was she wearing fashion designer clothes or jewelry; but Selina held herself like a queen. She was very calm and composed. After a long silence, Selina whispered,

“I’m not sorry…I’m not sorry at all.”

Alan nodded and let Selina continue talking; he now understood why he had a crush on her for so long. Selina was a person that knows what she wants and was not afraid to get it…regardless of how. That strengths and determination was what drawn him to her…until he met Ariel.

“You were only defending yourself…” Alan said, he didn’t want Selina to incriminate herself, there were camera installed in every corner of the visitor’s room. Selina quickly shook her head and whispered again,

“He’s mine, he belongs to me…he knows that. He knows how much I love him and understand him…I didn’t mind sharing him with others every once in a while…but when he…when he looked right through me while we were making love…I knew, I knew if I don’t do something I would lose him forever. So, I…I made sure he stays mine forever. Do you understand Alan…do you? His heart belongs to me forever.”

Selina was very firm and confident in her beliefs. Alan suddenly remembered the reporter on TV said Max Chu’s body was dismembered and they did not find his heart. He glanced at where Selina was pointing and noticed she was pointing her chest as she whispered,

“His heart belongs to me…he’s with me forever.” Suddenly Alan realized where Max’s heart was…but he was keeping it to himself. He stayed in the room with Selina until visiting hours was over. Selina’s love for Max was very different…near obsession and there was no denying it was a very possessive love.

How can Love such a simple word, yet the meanings…the feelings, the needs, the yearnings can make a person do things beyond their imagination. Love…., what kind of love do I have for you Ariel? Alan wondered as he headed home.


After months of debating with himself, Joe decided to let Ariel go. On his way to the meet his lawyer, he took out his cell phone and almost call Ariel; but every time the phone rang, he would hang up. Give it up Joe, give it up…Let her go, Joe reminded himself. He quickly signed the divorce document and with shaky hands handed it over to his lawyer. Perhaps…Ariel and I weren’t meant to be after all. With that thought in mind, Joe decided to leave Taiwan.

He realized he needed to let go of the past…everything that happened with Ambrose, Max, Selina…he needed to let everything go. I’ll leave once the divorce finalized, Joe promised.

Ariel closed her eyes and lowered her whole body under the water. It’s been almost seven months since she’d last seen Joe. After the argument she had with him, he finally signed the divorce document. Everything was over…they no longer have any relation with each other.

Ariel touched her stomach and suddenly felt tears welling up in her eyes…will this hurt ever go again? Alan told her that Joe left Taiwan on another assignment and he would be gone about a year. Why should you care? Joe means nothing to you, absolutely nothing. Despite telling herself that, Ariel continues to cry under the water.

What are you doing Ariel? You must be a fool, are you still in love with Joe? If you are, why are you allowing Alan to hope? What kind of a person are you? You need to be honest with yourself…you’re still not over Joe and even with Alan by your side…you can’t let go of Joe.

Tell Alan the truth, be fair and tell him the truth! Ariel opened her eyes and slowly started walking out of the lake. She saw Alan waiting for her on dry land. This is it Ariel…this is it.

Something was different about Ariel today, Alan suddenly felt uneasy…somehow he already know what Ariel was going to say. Alan quickly put the diamond ring he held in his hand back inside his pocket. His heart was breaking with every steps Ariel took, he knew…the moment she reach him, she was going to end their relationship. He wanted her to walk, he wanted her to continue walking forever so that he wouldn’t have to hear those heart wrenching words.

Ariel stops next to Alan, the pain in his eyes…the look of defeat…how did he know she was going to break up with him?

“I…Alan, I…” Alan stopped her and took her right hand in his. He stared at her for a very long time in silence. Then slowly, he took out the ring from his pocket and laid it inside her palm.

“I know what you’re going to say; please…you don’t have to say anything. I know what you want, and I’m letting you go. But promise me; promise me you’ll remember me. This ring is for you…I can’t give it to anyone else; I had it design for you. Please accept.”
Alan quickly looked away from Ariel, his eyes were burning and he chuckled to himself. Am I actually crying for a girl? What a joke Ambrose, I bet you’re laughing at me right about now huh?
“I can’t accept this…Alan I don’t deserv…”

“You still love him?” Alan asked suddenly.
Ariel nodded, she was so ashamed of herself for leading Alan on. She cursed herself for not being able to love Alan the way she should…he was like a brother to her, a friend…she wished he could be more to her, but Joe was still holding her heart and she couldn’t let him go.

After dropping the ring in her hand, Alan put both his hands inside his pocket and left.
“I’m sorry Alan…I’m so sorry.” Ariel mumbled, she was hurting for Alan…but suddenly felt relieved. At least Alan can find someone that truly loves him…he deserves that and so much more.


“Bye Dad, I love you. Remember to take your medication…just because you’re a doctor doesn’t mean you should neglect your own health now…” Ariel leaned in and kissed her father on the cheek. Kai Lin hugged his daughter and gently touched her hair.

“Your mom would be so proud of you, going to America to finish your nursing education. Once you’re done you can work anywhere you want.”

“Silly dad, you know I’ll only work for you.” Ariel said, she lifted her bags and gave him another kiss before lining up.

“Ariel! Ariel!” Alan was racing through the airport.
“Alan, you made it!” Alan grabbed her and hugged her tightly.

“Remember to call me if you need anything…and that ring, if you want it to mean more than just friendship…let me know; I’ll wait for you.” Alan said almost out of breath from rushing.

“Don’t wait for me Alan…I’m not changing my mind.” Ariel whispered and quickly squeezed his shoulder.

“Flight no.---- heading to USA is boarding.” Ariel grabbed her bags and quickly hugs her dad and Alan.

“Bye Alan….bye dad, wish me luck in America!”

Chapter 15: The End

1 year later in California~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~“

Ariel, you naughty girl! You’ve been hiding your handsome boyfriend from me!” Hebe said as she steals secret glances of Alan. Alan grins and gave Ariel a quick hug. Hebe smile widely at Alan, she was very attracted to him. Ariel stacked each of her books inside her backpack and got up.

“Miss me?” Alan asked playfully.

“No, not really…” Ariel teased.

“Why are you here?” Hebe asked, cutting the conversation between Ariel and Joe.

“Yeah Alan…why are you here, graduation’s not until next month.” Ariel frowned, he was one month early.

“I knew it! You’ve forgotten all about Ruby and Vic’s wedding!” Alan pointed at Ariel and shook his head in disappointment.

“So, it’s this weekend?” Ariel groans, she completely forgot about Vic’s wedding!

“I’m here personally to remind you of the wedding date, time and location.” Alan grinned and handed Ariel another wedding invitation.

“Will Joe be there?”

“No, he’s still on one of his assignment.”

“Oh…” Ariel signs, she has not seen Joe for almost two years. If time truly heals the heart, then the hurt in her heart would be healed by now…sadly, she was still very deeply in love with Joe.


“Why aren’t you taking the same flight back to Taiwan with me?” Ariel raises her eyebrows at Alan, waiting for his excuses.
Alan smirks,
“I’m trying to win a date with your feisty friend Hebe, do you mind?” he answered and left her waiting in line.

Once inside the airplane, Ariel quickly sat down and strapped the seatbelt around her. She grabbed a magazine and covered her face with it. She really needed to catch up on her sleep. With a yawn, Ariel quickly dozed off.

“Sir, I’m sorry this is the only seat available.”
The flight attendant said and pointed to an empty seat next to a girl sleeping with the magazine over her face.

Joe Cheng nodded and sat down next to the sleeping girl. When he got the phone call from Vic threatening him to attend his wedding, Joe had to pull a few strings in order to back out on his photo shoot appointments. After adjusting his chair, Joe leaned back and closed his eyes.

Every once in a while the girl next to him would snore. This girl reminded him of Ariel, her presence even with the snoring was so familiar…it was comforting.

The plane jerked slightly and the magazine fell off the girl’s face. Joe leaned down, picked up the magazine and proceeded to cover the girl’s face and saw that it was Ariel. He stared at her for a very long time, unable to control himself he kissed her on the lips gently.
Seeing you like this, this chance meeting….I think it means we’re meant to be. Joe thought and smiled…perhaps we’re meant to be together after all.

“Ariel…” He whispers and then smile. An hour later Joe Cheng also dozed off into a long needed sleep; with Ariel sitting next to him his mind and heart felt relaxed and peaceful. Two hours later, Ariel woke up and saw Joe sitting next to her. Shocked at first, she stare at his face for a very long time then gently touched his lips.

She had a feeling someone kissed her, was it a dream or was it Joe? The kiss still lingers on her lips. Ariel leaned over to Joe and kissed his lips…just to verify if the kiss was her imagination or from Joe. After a few seconds, Joe deepens the kiss and held her hands. Ariel opened her eyes and saw that Joe was awake and grinning.

“Hi” He whispers softly.

“Hi” Ariel replied and they both blushed at the same time.

Without a word, the two held their hands on the airplane from California to Taiwan, Taipei. Verbal words were unspoken, but the hearts have spoken and it whispered…I love you.