As they drove back to her apartment later that morning, Ana couldn’t imagine how she had survived breakfast with Yoshi and Ken. Although the three of had eaten breakfast as if it was something they did together every day, Ana still felt like the whole thing was like something out of the Twilight Zone.
Ana fiddled with a button of the borrowed shirt she wore. Ken had thoughtfully rummaged in his sister’s drawers for something for her to wear, as the gown of the previous night was quite ruined. Ana was now wearing jeans and a white button-down shirt of Yuki’s.
When Ana had emerged from the bathroom, she found Ken, who had also showered and changed, deep in discussion with Yoshi over how to bring Ana home. She had blanched at the idea that this whole episode could be blown out of proportion by an enterprising reporter who could be camped outside. In the end, it was decided that Yoshi would drive and Ken would sit in front, while Ana ducked in the back until they were well on their way. Ken had wanted to wait for Takashi to bring the van over since the van’s windows were dark, but Ana had balked, not wanting his manager to know that she had spent the night.
It was early afternoon when they finally got to her apartment. Yoshi dropped them off at the foyer while he found a place to park. Ana and Ken were silent as they rode the lift up to the Ana’s floor.
When they got to her door, Ana, who was rummaging in her bag for her keys, started when Ken suddenly turned her to face him.
“You’ve been awfully quiet.” He observed.
She shrugged, “It’s just that this whole thing has gotten so surreal …”
“Really? Which part?”
“Don’t tease,” Ana said, frowning.
She looked so adorably irritated that Ken couldn’t resist gathering her in his arms for a hug, “Well, life with you is never boring at any rate.”
“Ha-ha.” Ana retorted, though she didn’t resist the comfort of his arms, “I keep expecting the sky to fall next.”
“Pessimist.” Ken teased as he leaned back to look at her, “Ne, what else could happen?”
“Hey Ana, is that you?” Tessa called as the door suddenly burst open, “Where have you been? Guess who I found downstairs…”
Still in Ken’s arms, Ana whirled around and was floored to see the identically shocked faces of her parents, behind of course, the equally shocked face of Tessa. She looked up at Ken, pushed him away abruptly and turned to face her parents, “Mom? Dad? What are you doing here?”
“These are your parents?” Ken inquired.
“Yes, they are, uh…” Ana began “Mom, Dad, it isn’t what you’re thinking…” she began.
Her dad’s reddening face resembled a volcano that was about to erupt “Really now? Then kindly explain to us what we ought to think. Two days ago, a Japanese reporter turned up at our house in Cebu. They’ve apparently been doing an investigation on you.”
“They what?” Ana and Ken both got out.
“Yes, and they were quite insistent to find out what we thought of your relationship with…”
A slight cough made them all pause and look at Ana’s mother. “Why don’t you two come in,” she invited in a placid voice, “I don’t think this is a discussion that should be held at one’s doorstep, don’t you think?” She turned and walked back into the living room, followed by her husband, Ana, and Ken.
“Ana?” Her mother said as they sat down on the sofas, “You have not yet introduced us to your companion.”
“Oh, mom and dad, this is Ken Nakamura. Ken, these are my parents,” Ana managed to get out, wringing her hands worriedly. She shot a glance at Tessa, who was still standing at the genkan, her mouth still a perfect little O. No help from that quarter.
Ken stood and shook hands with her mom and dad. “I am very pleased to meet both of you.” He said.
Ana’s father kept a firm grip on Ken’s hand as he tried to size him up. “And who are you exactly in relation to my daughter?” he bit out.
Ken’s smile broadened as he began to answer, “Actually I’m …”
“He’s … he’s … he’s my fiancée.” Ana suddenly announced.
It was suddenly so silent that you could have heard a pin drop. Tessa, Ana’s parents, and Ken simply stared at her.
Then suddenly as if on cue, Ken turned to her dad, “I am sorry you had to find out this way. Ana and I had planned on flying to Cebu next weekend to formally ask your permission, but I guess the cat’s out of the bag.” He said and smiled amiably.
Ana’s parents’ expressions thawed slightly at this. Her mother looked back and forth between the two of them, before finally glancing at Ana’s hands, “But she doesn’t even have a ring!” she exclaimed.
“That’s because we had to get it resized.” Ken explained quickly as he reached for Ana’s hand. “You’ll see it tonight,” he continued, “As I’m hoping you’ll do us the honor of dining with us.”
This, apparently did the trick for Ana’s mom suddenly burst into tears and came to hug both of them. “Oh we would love to! This is wonderful news, isn’t it darling?” She nudged her husband. Hard.
Ana glanced at her father. His face could have been set in stone. He looked stonily at Ken, “What do actors make nowadays?” He asked baldly.
“Dad!” Ana wailed.
But her father ignored her, “I came over here with the intention of paying off the sleazy actor my daughter got involved with,” he said, “I do wonder if you’re the type that could be bought.”
Ken recovered his composure, “I’m not.” He answered.
“Dad, how could you even …”
“When I die, Ana will come into quite a fortune of her own,” her father told him, “Were you aware of that?”
“No I wasn’t,” Ken answered, “I’m not marrying her for her money.” He assured the other man with a smile, “Please don’t worry, I’ve got enough to support us both.”
“Have you slept with my daughter?”
“Ana, I am your father and I have the right to ask him this,” Ana’s father shot back and then barked at Ken, “Well, have you?”
Ken smiled yet again, “If I did I wouldn’t tell you. It is entirely our own business. But please rest assured that I only have the highest respect and affection for Ana and that I really do intend to marry her.”
“Daddy!” Ana shouted as she got up and faced her father, “Now you listen to me, you have no right to interrogate Ken like this! I’m not a child and you can’t fob me off on your friends’ sons anymore. I am of age and I will marry whomever I want! Now if you don’t like that, you can get back on a plane to Cebu right now because I’m not talking to you until you stop treating me like this!”
Everyone was staring at Ana again. Ken even had the audacity to wink at her.
Her father stared at Ken for a long minute before harrumphing and said, “I don’t believe in long engagements.”
“Da-ad!” Ana wailed yet again, but Ken grabbed hold of her hand and urged her to sit next to him.
“I don’t either,” Ken answered. “I was hoping to convince Ana to marry in two months’ time.”
“Wha- what?” Ana turned disbelievingly to Ken, she was glad he was game, but this was taking the farce more than one step too far.
“Two months? Oh, that’s not enough time to plan everything,” Ana’s mother protested. “We have to call the caterers and photographers, have the gowns and invitations made, and inform all our relatives.”
Ken turned to Ana and smiled, “Well sweetheart, I’d rather not wait, but if you’d really like a grand wedding…”
“No! I mean yes I do want a nice wedding but…” Ana wailed, “Mom, Dad, why don’t we talk this over first. Our schedules are both quite packed at the moment…”
“I’d be happy to clear my schedule for you,” Ken said and Ana gave him a murderous stare.
“Oh, alright. We have two months at least,” Ana’s mother declared. Then she suddenly stood and reached for her bag. She walked over to the couch, emptied the contents of the bag on it, and then hurriedly rummaged through the spilled contents.
“Mom, what in the world are you looking for?” Ana asked, still trying to think of a way out of this situation.
“My phone,” her mother explained as she found it and turned it on. She looked through her planner and began dialing a series of numbers.
“We don’t have to tell everybody about it yet…”Ana protested, but trailed off when her mom lapsed into Cebuano. Ana felt the blood drain from her face as she realized that her mom was arranging for the Cebu Cathedral and the ballroom at the Mariott in Mactan to be blocked on a weekend roughly two months from today. She was also directing Coring, her secretary, to contact photographers and couturiers and caterers and to Fedex a bundle to them tomorrow. She even had Coring call both her sister and Ana’s godmother to tell them the news. “There, that’s that.” She said as she ended the call. “Coring will arrange everything with the church and the hotel…” she explained, “…and between Auntie Jackie and your Ninang Mildred, everyone in Cebu will be notified by the end of the week.”
Ana was close to panic, “But mom…”
Her mom turned to face her suddenly, “Don’t tell me you didn’t want to get married in Cebu?” she asked.
“Of course I’d rather get married in Cebu, but…”
“Is there a problem with having the wedding in Cebu?” she asked Ken instead, “Would you rather have a traditional Japanese wedding?”
“I would rather that Ana be able to celebrate it with the people she loves,” he replied.
Her mother beamed at him, “That’s lovely. Now let’s all sit down and get to know each other. Ana,” she gestured to her daughter, “where are your manners? Get us some coffee and biscuits. Come Dad, enough of that glowering,” she admonished. “Now dears,” she said as they all sat down, “Have you given any thought as to the theme?”