Tea Leaves and Sapphire Earrings

Brother-in-law, Family Meeting, and Plan of Attack

Match Fifteen: Brother-in-law, Family Meeting, and Plan of Attack:

-Ju-

I am seven months along now. I want summer to be over. The hot is a nightmare and my workload keeps shrinking. Hen-to and Fei took away some of the paperwork.

“Bik wouldn’t stop talking about you needing rest,” Hen-to told me. I just roll my eyes and sighed. Bik was killing me here. Today, I sat in my office and looked up at the ceiling.

“I’m bored!” I complained aloud. My phone rang.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Hi, sweetheart,” Yao said on the other line. I didn’t have the energy to perk up.

“Hey,” I said. “Help me…”

“What’s the matter?” he asked. I rubbed my forehead.

“I’m trapped in this cage around me,” I complained. Yao chuckled on the phone.

“Sorry,” he said. “They just want Little Bean to be safe.” I put my hand to my stomach and frowned. I shuddered as I remembered the shopping trip last month. Who was that crazy lady? What was she talking about with my child? Some Golden Warrior crap. I wrinkled my nose. What type of drugs was she on? Who does that? Walking up to random pregnant strangers in the street and talking about their supposed “future”? I don’t even know what Little Bean is going to be! I tried to push all of that out of my head.

“Does it have to be at my expense?” I asked.

“Aw,” Yao said. “Do you want to come out with me?” I paused in my chair.

“And go where?” I asked. He grew quiet on the phone for a moment.

“I need to go visit Kiku,” he said in a low voice. I myself suddenly became grin.

“How is he doing?” I asked.

“Not good,” Yao replied. “We might have to put him in a home.”

“Aw, how awful,” I said.

“Everyone in the family is going to go see him,” he said. “Do you want to come?”

“Yes!” I was quick so say. “Do you want to meet up?”

“No, I will pick you up,” Yao said. “Give me about thirty minutes.”

“Okay,” I said. “Love you.”

“I love you too,” he said. I started to smile as I hung up. I was going to have a day of freedom for a change! I squealed to myself at my desk.


We left shortly before lunch. I was just happy to get out of the house again. I was worried that my captors were going to keep me in the house until October. I took a deep breath.

“We’re leaving now!” I shouted at the front door. My advisors sat in the living room looking through my paperwork.

“Where are you heading off to?” Fei asked.

“Visiting my brother,” Yao said. “We should be home by later tonight.”

“Take care,” Hen-to said.

“Okay!” I said. I found myself itching to run out of that house as fast as I could.

“Ready to go?” Yao asked.

“Yes,” I said. He put his arm around my shoulders. My heart did little flips in my chest. I giggled as she walked me out of the house.


Kiku was being held in an assistant living home for the time being. The hospital talked to Sena about what to do. She reluctantly agreed. It must be hard for her. She refuses to show us how she really feels.

“As long as I stay by him I will be fine,” Sena keeps saying. I can already see that it’s taking a toll on her.

“When was the last time you slept?” Vietnam asked. Sena shook her head.

“I’m fine,” she said. “It’s fine. He will get better. I know he will. He has too.” That was last Sunday at her house. She’s not holding it together anymore.

Yao and I didn’t talk for the whole drive down. I just looked out the window. Little Bean rested inside of me. I’m starting to think that they like car rides. It’s the only time they aren’t kicking about. I closed my eyes and tried to take a little nap.

Moments later, I felt someone shaking me on the arm.

“Hey,” Yao whispered. “Wake up. We’re here. Hey. Hey.” I opened my eyes and looked over at him.

“We’re here,” he said. I looked out the window. The building was massive. You would need sunglasses to look at the white surface outside. How many windows did this building have? The bright green bushes didn’t help either. Yao got out of the car and walked around to my side.

“Thanks,” he said as he opened the door. He helped me out.

“My back hurts,” I complained once I rose to my feet. Yao rubbed on my lower back.

“It’s okay, I’ve got you,” he said. Yao walked me to the glass doors. The receptionist looked when we walked up to the desk.

“Good afternoon!” she greeted us walked inside.

“Hello,” I said. Yao picked up the pen and signed us both in.

“How are you both today?” the receptionist asked.

“Good,” I said. “And you?” The receptionist sighed.

“Tired,” she said. “My feet hurt and I am tired of seeing the same faces every day. You know what I mean?”

“Uh… I guess,” I said. I rubbed my stomach as I frowned. The receptionist looked down at said stomach.

“When are you due?” she asked.

“October,” I said. The receptionist whistled.

“Wow,” she said. “You sure you’re not having twins?” I laughed.

“No,” I said. “Just the one.” Yao finished signing us in and handed back the clipboard. The receptionist looked over the paperwork.

“Okay, you are all set,” she said. “Enjoy your visit.” Yao grimly nodded. He took me by the arm and led me down the hall. I waved at the receptionist as we left.


Kiku looked worse from the last time I saw him. We found Sena standing in the hallway. She looked down at her hands as she trembled.

“Sena?” Yao asked. She looked up at us. I covered my mouth as I saw her face. Sena had the same tired eyes that Kiku had. She looked like she had been crying.

“Are you okay?” I asked. Sena shook her head. Yao pulled her into a hug. She didn’t try and smack him like she normally would.

“Is he awake?” I asked. Sena lowered her eyes.

“Yes,” she mumbled.

“Can we… see him?” I asked. She didn’t answer. I stood on my tiptoes and peeked into the room. I only caught a glance at him. That was all it took for me to see how bad things had gotten. Kiku looked like he wasted away. He too was biting on his hand. Speaking of his hands, they looked blacker than coal itself. Same with his feet. Kiku’s eyes were sullen and looking dead. His face looked ready to collapse in on itself. I could see all of the bones in his body.

“Kiku?” I asked. He didn’t even respond to his name. Yao and Sena looked in the room with me. Sena sank to her knees, trembling.

“Kiku?” Yao asked. His brother’s gaze never left the floor. My husband ran into the room. I moved my hand to my chest. Little Bean kicked at me from inside. I had to take a step backwards.

“What happened to him?” I asked. At that question, Kiku finally looked up at us. He tried to say something to us, but the words were too soft for us to hear.

“What is that, baby?” Sena asked. She ran over to Kiku as he started shaking.

“Nurse!” his wife screamed. “I need help! Nurse! Nurse!” The whole time, my stomach dropped. A horrifying image from my past nightmares started to reply itself in my head.


My husband and I gathered with his family at Kiku and Sena’s house. Everyone sat in the living room. We all knew why we were here.

Yao held my hand as he spoke.

“This isn’t working for him,” he said. “Kiku is clearly getting worse.” Sena stood near the front door. I saw her mumbling something under her breath. We all looked up at her.

“What did you say?” Yao asked. Sena lifted her head.

“What am I supposed to do?” she asked. “You wouldn’t understand what’s going on!” Her eyes started to well up with tears. I about fell out of my chair. I had never seen her like this before. She trembled as she spoke.

“What do you mean?” Yao asked. Sena shook her head.

“You won’t believe me,” she said. My husband’s grip grew tighter around my hand. I clenched my teeth.

“Baby,” I whispered. Yao just ignored me.

“Try me,” he said. She shook her head again.

“How long have you been dealing with this?” Vietnam asked, her tone sounding like a mother trying to calm down a worried child. Sena dropped her shoulders.

“Close to a year now,” she said.

“Close to a year?!” Yao shouted. “Why didn’t you say anything before?!”

“You’re hurting me,” I said as I sucked in a mouthful of air. My husband loosened his grip on my hand. My fingers were still throbbing.

“What was I supposed to say?!” Sena roared. “My husband has been seeing some woman in a red dress and she’s driving him mad and making him sick?” She wrinkled her nose and snorted.

“You would all think I was crazy,” she muttered. All of the older siblings froze. Ivan didn’t even blink. (Yes, he was here too. He’s family also.)

“What did you say?” Yao asked in trembling voice.

“There is a woman in a red dress terrorizing my husband,” Sena said, stressing out each word.

“And you can see her too?” Vietnam asked.

“Yes,” Sena said. The siblings all turned to each other talking. Li Ying grabbed Ivan by the hand. I looked around, shuddering. The more I hear about this Woman in Red, the more I feel unease. I placed my hand on my stomach. Sena sank to her knees.


But, there was some good news when Yao and I got home. So much happened in that afternoon alone that my head started to swim. I just wanted to collapse on my bed and go to sleep.

“We’re home,” I said. Hen-to and Fei were standing in the living room, smiling at us. I looked at my advisors back and forth.

“What?” I asked. “What is going on?”

“We’ve got him,” Hen-to said. “We’ve that the bastard.”

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