Finally she heard Michael calling her name back in the present and she realized that tears were falling down her face again.
When Michael saw her staring blankly at the computer, crying silently, he called the reception and asked all calls be directed to Terrence or an office junior. He then locked the door and went to comfort his friend.
Although the flood of tears was brief, they spoke until five o’clock. Mike had done his best to keep her mind off Kendo until he called her. Now he was waiting downstairs.
Eve gave Michael a long warm hug, once again thanking him for his support before unlocking the office door and going down to ground floor.
He had come in a stretch Mercedes-Benz. The chauffeur opened the door with a bow and she nodded in response. She stepped into the car and found Kendo, but he wasn’t alone. He sat facing two strange men.
As the door closed on the outside world, her stomach turned cold and she knew before he even said hello that it was time to say goodbye. Somewhere in her heart, Yvonne felt an overwhelming sorrow, but she didn’t cry. She wouldn’t do that in front of these people she didn’t know.
Kendo introduced the men as Miss Konishiki’s brothers. The younger of the two looked at Yvonne with something more than interest. She turned to face Kendo questioningly.
“I’m taking you home,” he said softly.
On the way to the Greenwood house, he asked her urbanely about work and Michael’s well-being. She answered calmly despite the way her heart fluttered under her skin. The two Konishiki men never spoke and were never spoken to. They just watched the couple silently. It made Yvonne slightly uncomfortable but it occurred to her that these might be her last moments with Kendo. She wasn’t about to let them pass in silence.
The car stopped in her driveway and the two of them exited the car. The Konishiki duo followed, unnoticed at first. Yvonne unlocked the door and Kendo entered, only to stop as Yvonne let out a startled cry.
He turned swiftly to see the two men following behind him.
“You wait outside,” Kendo said fiercely.
“But-” one of them started.
His next words were in harsh Japanese but Yvonne understood him.
Since they were about to imprison him for the rest of his God-given life, the least they could was give him privacy in his last few minutes of freedom.
With that he slammed the door shut on their surprised faces.
They went to the living room, not trusting themselves anywhere more intimate.
“The tests came back last night. Yvonne, I’m sorry,” he took a deep breath. “I am the father.”
“Oh, I knew it,” she said sadly. “The minute I saw your face, I knew.”
“I’m sorry,” he said again, helpless. He reached out and pushed strands of hair away from her face.
“I know. Me too.” Pause. “I think you should go.”
“What?” Not only was Kendo shocked, he was hurt.
“My heart is breaking and I can’t bear it, Kendo. The quicker you go, the faster I’ll break down and the sooner I’ll start building my life without you.”
If he hadn’t heard for himself, Kendo would not have believed that Yvonne had spoken so tonelessly. He looked at her with an expression of such injury that she looked away.
Then he understood. All too clearly.
Ken realised in that moment that Yvonne thought a swift, curt farewell would help her deal with the situation they found themselves in. He knew, though, that under the façade she had quickly erected, she was falling apart just as fast as he was.
At first he wasn’t sure whether to humour her and leave as though they hadn’t been lovers in every sense of the word. But then he knew that if he didn’t get to hold her one more time, he would never have a day’s peace after the moment he walked out of her home.
He moved to kiss her one last time and she panicked.
“Don’t!” she said sharply. With immense effort, she lowered her voice, “Don’t touch me, please. Just go.”
Yvonne wrapped her arms around herself, as though she was trying to squeeze the agony of the entire situation right out of her body. She held her breath to keep from making any sounds. To keep herself from screaming.
He stood up without a word. Just as he reached the door, Ken heard her release a heart-wrenching sob and that was when Kendo realized he would never be free of his love for Yvonne. Rushing back to the room where she was, he grabbed her, drawing her into his arms.
“God, I love you, Yvonne.”
“I love you too,” she told him, clinging to him hardly able to speak.
“How am I supposed to do this and live with myself?” Ken cried.
Yvonne just shook her head and sobbed.
Twenty minutes later, the couple said their last words to one another.
“Good bye, Yvonne.”
She moaned, unable to respond in kind. “Oh, Kendo… Go.”
He steeled himself as best he could against the soft sound of her crying as he strode out the door.
It wasn’t a long walk back to the car but Kendo managed to make his face a blank mask which hid his true feelings. The two Konishiki men stopped talking as he cast looks of hatred at them, on his way to the waiting car. If looks could do physical damage, the two men probably would have been in a world of hurt.
Michael received a phone call at seven that evening. It was Yvonne.
“He’s gone, Mike. I’ve lost him!”
“I’ll be over there right away. Hold on, babes, I’m coming over.”
This time Michael could do nothing to stop her tears. The pain of her loss was so great. No consolation or attempt to make her stop crying seemed to be doing any good, so he called Mrs. Baker.
“Yvonne? Oh, it’s you, Mike. Has she finished saying goodbye to Kendo?” she asked gravely.
“Mrs. Kunosawa called to tell me everything. Michael, how is my baby taking it?”
“Badly, Mrs. B. Very badly.”
They spoke for a while longer and then Mike hung up.
“Your mother is coming to get you, babes.”
Yvonne looked up swiftly. She got off the couch and sped through her bedroom to the bathroom. She took a quick shower, changed into a tracksuit. Then she went to her closet and threw a few clothes into a case and took out a suit for tomorrow. She ran downstairs again to apologize to Michael. Setting down her case, she gave him a ghost of a smile.
“I’m sorry for scaring you.”
“You didn’t. I was just worried- I hate seeing you cry.”
She hugged him. Of all her friends, he undoubtedly knew her best, and yet she knew he didn’t understand the depth of her pain. How could she explain to him that this was such a permanent loss?
Yvonne knew she didn’t wish this kind of unhappiness on anyone. A few days ago she would have never believed that it was even possible to feel such anguish over a living person. Now, it seemed her whole existence was crumbling at the foundation and the burden was so heavy, no words or actions could mend her breaking heart.
The doorbell rang and Michael went to answer it. Mrs. Baker glided in and looked around. Upon seeing her daughter, sitting still and looking very withdrawn, she stopped, disconcerted.
“Are you all right?” She could tell her daughter was in pain and for the first time in a long time, Mrs. Baker didn’t know how to act.
Yvonne shook her head meekly in answer to her mother’s question, but as Mrs. Baker moved to comfort her Yvonne quickly brushed past her.
There was a hint of panic in her voice when Yvonne said, “Let’s go.”
It only took a few seconds.
Yvonne’s mother discerned that her daughter had the slightest hold on her composure and the younger woman was afraid of falling apart with no chance of getting herself back together if she let it happen.
They all left the house together. The Bakers bid Michael farewell and drove off. The conversation on the way to the Baker’s residence was stilted, but Yvonne managed to tell her mom what had been happening to her over the past few days.
Avril Baker drove straight through the wrought iron gates of her home and into the underground garage.
When Yvonne and her mother came up from the basement, her father was a few yards away from the elevator.
“There’s Daddy’s little girl,” he rumbled, his light brown eyes reflecting concern.
It was all she could do to keep herself from falling apart. Yvonne Baker took a deep breath and stepping into her father’s arms, she found comfort, security and love. All the things that seemed to slipping away from her.
He rested his chin on her head. “It’s okay, pumpkin. Daddy’s here.’
“I know,” she said in a small voice, “but it hurts so badly.”
“It will pass, my dear. It may take some time,” he conceded, squeezing her gently, “but it will pass. In the meantime, you can stay here for a little while and let us help you, ok?”