Love decides over Laws

Chapter One

"No. My God, no. Drukpah, you can't be serious?" Micaela Maghirang had suffered more than her share of failures in the past few months. She'd lost her firm's largest Pacific coast client. She'd watched the man she'd thought she could care for cast her aside in favor of his wife. And her brief residence as head of the Bicol Branch of De Lima, Drukpah, and Santiago associates had come to an hasty and abrupt end when the other lawyers in the office had mutinied. But those humiliations were nothing compared to this. "Now, Micaela, Dasho Jao is a very important client," her mentor, eighty-year old Drukpah Shivaji, said. "We've served his family for years." "You handled his divorce. The man caved." "He chose to be generous." "To a woman who willingly signed a prenuptial agreement. I'm the evil one, Drukpah. I need something challenging." To keep me distracted. "I won't let you down. I promise." Unlike her father. Who promised to take his meds religiously while she was in Cebu. Who vowed to be in reduction by the time she returned. She considered sharing her dad's health crisis with Drukpah but wondered if he'd even believe her. After all, she'd worked hard to appear invincible. "This is something entirely different. Jao wants to help an old woman who is being forced off her land." "Why does he care?" "I don't know. He's a bit of a rogue. . Takes after his grandmother. Ashi Behati came from Sugar Cane Plantation owner. Locally and shipped to Asia and all that. Not that she acted the part, but she was the true force behind that family. By naming Jao after her, his parents secured the bulk of Ashi Behati’s estate in his name." Great. A trust fund baby. Spoiled and entitled. "It doesn't matter where the money came from. Digging at Sugar Canes is a waste of my time and talent. Drukpah, my friend, please. I beg you. Give him to somebody else."

"Alas, my dear, you are not only low lawyer on the totem pole, you are persona non gratis among the partners." Micay got up and walked to his desk. She sat her fanny on the corner of the highly polished teak surface and crossed her left leg over her right—a surefire distraction that never failed with men under the age of ninety. Drukpah looked down. Her vantage point gave her a perfect view of his freckled bald spot. But only for a second. His chin snapped back. "Now, don't you try your tricks on me, Miss Girl. This is business." Make that on men under the age of eighty. She jumped to her feet, poised to stomp from the room. The old Micay would have. The new Micay couldn't. She needed this job, now more than ever. She drew herself up proudly. "Very well. I'll contact him today." "I already took care of that. Meet him at Baker’s Plaza at ten or to whatever place he preferred. The address and directions are on your desk." As she turned to leave, he added, "Oh, and, dear, you might want to change your shoes." She looked down at her favorite pair of Prada. Not likely. High heels and Armani weren't just her style, they were her armor.

*** The pig's skin was tough and bristly. Why had Jao thought it would be smooth? Perhaps because of his china piggy bank, the one he'd smashed when he was seven so he could give the money to a panhandler who had been outside their Manhattan apartment. His father had been appalled. "Give those people money and they'll never quit asking for handouts." But Jao tended to do the opposite of what people wanted him to do. The bum on the street had disappeared with his bounty wrapped in one of Jao’s father's monogrammed handkerchiefs and never again appeared on their doorstep. Probably because Father had him arrested, a cynical voice whispered. Jao hated that voice. "Her name is Kikay," Pearl called out. The pig made snuffling noises that seemed to generate from the underside of her belly, which was hanging just a few inches above the ground. Her eyes displayed a complete and utter lack of interest in him, which didn't surprise Jao. After all, they weren't exactly old friends. He'd only met Pearl last week after reading about the old woman's plight in the newspaper. "She's never at her best this early," Pearl was saying. "Pigs aren't morning people." "She seems pretty lively to me," Jao said to be polite. Actually, the porcine pet lumbered after the tottering old woman like a dog

Mr. "Did you hear that. But not enough to sacrifice his favorite pair of loafers. Any variety. He grinned. Jao stepped onto the veranda. Do you know how much you're paying my firm for my time? Wouldn't it be more cost effective to call a nearby market and ask for a delivery?" She was irked. her forgetful Dalmatian. Falsely perky. Nobody seemed to care that Kikay was here first. "Dasho Jao calling for Drukpah Saviji or whomever he put on my case. Businesslike. he'd always been a sucker for the old. Has something changed?" Her voice had a rich." the receptionist said. "Make it ten melons. sir. I had to stop buying them. I need to get out more." She reached down and patted Kikay. "One of the best parts of being filthy rich is never worrying about trifles. The image would have been comical if the situation weren't so dire. "Hello. but the pig gave her palm a little smooch then focused its attention on Jao’s shoes. Drukpah and Santiago. Ridiculous as it was to make assumptions." Jao’s heart did a little flip-flop. He cared. "Yes. her watery blue eyes alight with glee. I just wasn't sure I understood the request." The line went suspiciously quiet." "That would be Micaela Maghirang. Jao held his breath fearing the animal might take off one of Pearl’s crooked fingers." Pearl. the ones who just couldn't seem to make sense of the world. To his parent's annoyance. "Then you'll see her dance with excitement. he pictured her as beautiful. I'd like you to pick up three or four watermelons on your way. motioning him to follow her to the house. He cleared his throat. "Hello? Did you get that? I'm on my cell and—" She cut in. Jao thought he detected a certain air of amusement in the woman's tone. I was just leaving for our ten o'clock. "Bring her a watermelon next time you come. "I heard you. . clapped. that Pearl had raised the animal from a heel. throaty timbre. dear girl? We finally have a friend who cares. Luxuries like that are a little out of my budget. This is Micaela Maghirang. Jao. And sexy as hell. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and hit the speed dial number for the offices of De Lima. The two were as close as his grandmother had been with Bantay. whose snout came up as if looking for more food. the weak." he said. Pearl was being told Kikay must go. slightly exotic and wholly desirable." Pearl said. I'll ring her for you now. His speculation was sidetracked when a voice came on the line.

she ducked. Her anger swelled. but it bounced off the trunk of her car. he was casually dressed. Instead of visiting her father. the place clearly was a tear-down waiting to happen. Maybe Drukpah had been right about her choice of footwear. Boxed in by Old Heritage of the newly prosperous. "Do you know where Dasho Jao is?" His arm lifted robotically. A photo that hadn't done him justice. Micay was completely nonplussed. Her heart was pounding with uncharacteristic fear. "Hey!" she cried. She checked her lipstick in her screen mirror and caught a glimpse of the fat green globes piled into two boxes on her back seat. but nowhere did it say the kid was a rotten little brat. "Watermelon. leaving a quarter-sized dent. . A boy emerged from a detached garage to her right. "Hello. The word "hospice" had come up more than once. She was about to check out the dent when her client rounded the building.Chapter Two Micay stop in front of the single-story home surrounded by overgrown bushes. She didn't see a sidewalk and wasn't about to hike cross-country in heels. she was buying produce for a pig. His long legs cleared the distance between them too fast for her to get her game face in place. She parked beside a shiny black Lamborghini that looked as out of place as she felt. pointing toward the rear of the house. picked up a rock and threw it at her." she muttered. the kid reached down. She recognized him from a photo in his file. Fortunately. He paused to stare at her. From the notes Drukpah had given her she recalled something about the woman having custody of her great-grandson. Before she could ask the boy to go find him. holding on to the car door. although she knew squat about kids. the projectile missed her." she called out. "What the hell—heck did you do that for?" The boy took off running. Fit and attractive. Reflexively. Not old enough to be on anybody's historical register nor the least bit interesting architecturally. but the quality of his clothes was impossible to miss. She guessed his age at ten or eleven. Her heels twisted slightly in the gravel. walking at a swift pace. getting out of the car. She'd just talked to her father's doctor.

Anxiously." Micay’s complaint about the boy's vandalism died on her lips. "I believe they might have been an item at one time. Thanks for coming. intelligence and purpose she couldn't look away." her client said. "Bad shoes for the country. "I believe we're under time imperatives. That hardly qualifies as . "Pearl was right. Kikay would give your shoes some peace. The empty hit and aroma of watermelon drew the pig's attention. but if you'd toss one of those melons on the lawn." His obvious sincerity made her heart do a funny little prance of its own. He still clings to the notion his mother's coming back for him. He was no athlete. I'll put in for hazard pay. hefted it to his shoulder and sent it sailing." He pocketed his designer sunglasses and took her hand in a firm shake." she said. of course. Thank you. I'll make us some tea. He snatched up a fat round globe. your treat is here. He had a presence that sucked her into his space. She tried to walk on the pads of her feet. displaying an adorable pair of dimples. but one heel became stuck in the soil. Not that she will. Kikay does love her melon. "I…um…I brought the watermelon. Gino. The beast almost pranced toward the feast." he called to the very large pig waddling toward them. "The picnic table out back." her client suggested. She lunged awkwardly. "Where'd that boy run off to? Poor dear is terrified we're going to lose the place. I'm Jao. she bent over to collect her briefcase and keys then started toward the back by way of a clearly defined rut in the grass." For a man used to having people do his request. rescuing her with one hand at her elbow. Just the opposite of me. trying to reclaim her usual equanimity. "You two go on around. "There's a high-end strip mall less than five blocks away." His eyes were an unremarkable hazel but so alive with humor. but Gran told me she flirted with her heart but married with her head. "Not that Drukpah gave you any choice. Jao took orders well. Is there some place we can sit?" she asked instead. compromising her ability to breathe."Hi. "My great-grandson's around here somewhere.?" she called in a high-pitched voice. Too far gone on the drugs. arms flapping. She only managed to yank her hand free after she realized an elderly woman had joined them. but Micay found his effort completely real and strangely appealing. "Drukpah spoke highly of you and your grandmother. Micay barely had time to glance at the hog before being introduced to Yaya Pearl. obviously." His frankness left her even more offbalance." "Kikay. of course. His grin widened. you know.

" "She's a pig. Once he'd joined her." "Jao." There was that smile again. Instead." "Kikay isn't a farm animal." When they reached the weathered bench-style picnic table. Mr. Dasho sounds like my father. technically. Dasho. "This place is on less than one acre." Micay had assumed Molly was an old family retainer or related to someone he knew. Her father had never been actively involved in her life. Pearl has the license to prove it. "Well. "Why?" The question seemed to surprise Not that she planned to tell Jao that. The satisfaction of helping an old woman keep her pet in a home that was here long before the neighbors moved next door. "Fairness." "Never had the honor. Once this lot was annexed into the city it fell under new restrictions. Kikay sat down gingerly. that’s crazy. who definitely wouldn't give a damn about Kikay. I did a cursory check of zoning laws. Please." "You're a Boy Scout." His casual admission surprised her. Homeowners are not allowed to keep farm animals on lots under three acres." "License?" . It was almost as if he was waiting for her to add. either. "She's a pet. Pearl is in the wrong. So. The thing looked ready to collapse. "You're spending thousands of pesos in legal fees to defend a stranger's right to keep a farm animal within city limits?" The mischievous grin returned. "How you do know Pearl?" "I don't. I just met her last week." She checked her notes. she asked the question foremost on her mind. My mother's idea of camping out is staying at a three-star hotel. and my father wouldn't dream of spending time alone with one of his children. she asked. Mr.

Cleanest animal you'll ever meet. He liked her. Gino. but her silence impressed him. who had practically stuck to him like glue in past visits. Been a bit tired. where is that boy?" Micay almost brought up the issue of the vandalism but changed her mind. He shifted the box to his hip and juggled the set of keys Micay had handed him. he spotted the source. Gino." Jao said. her line of vision detoured momentarily to the trunk.. "The vet makes house calls." Jao saw a softening in Micay’s face that told him Pearl’s story touched her. "So. He put the box into the spotless trunk and closed the hatch." Pearl said from the doorway. I'll never forget the day we paid off the mortgage." She didn't acknowledge his joke. "Are there receipts?" "There certainly are. The box was haphazardly stuffed with every tidbit Pearl felt needed saving. dear. but made a detour when Pearl insisted on showing to Micay Kikay’s living quarters. Micay’s nostrils crinkled with distaste when Pearl opened the gate to the straw-littered stall. The child seemed older than his years and extremely self-reliant. "I'll carry it. They started toward the front of the house. His gorgeous.. *** An hour later. He didn't know why she hadn't said anything. Jao jumped up to take the tray she carried. Gino. Glancing around. Jao was certain his face was going to ache from smiling so hard. but…" Jao looked around. had yet to put in an appearance. "What do you say to your neighbors who complain about the smell?" Pearl shrugged. Jao was surprised but not alarmed. you've owned this place since 1951?" "My late husband was one of the last ones back from Manila. Pearl?" Micay asked. she's entirely flealess. cosmopolitan lawyer in her overpriced shoes had managed to exceed his expectations in a way very few people ever did." she called again. Go ahead and pour yourselves a drink while I find my file box. "Thank you. A rock that couldn't possibly have fallen from the sky without a little help. Kikay is not only current on her shots. but this was all we had. lately. He was just about to open the BMW's trunk when he noticed a dent in the middle of the pristine paint job. but I haven't been too good about picking up the poop.He nodded. "God made pigs. "Can I take this box with me. When she looked his way. then turned to study the woman walking toward him. Even if she wasn't a pig person. tries. Our children tried to get us to borrow against the place. Very recent. . "Now. The kid had enough problems.

and at that moment." Micay’s involuntary gasp told him he had her full . Pausing outside the door. Micay washed her hands then looked at the four in the mirror. conniving slut from hell." In the four days since their meeting with Pearl. right?" the woman added. "After all.Their gazes met. she left the room. The roar of laughter masked the sound of her door opening. what now?" "Ms. She motioned Micay to hurry. it takes one to know one. the ex-wife bitch wouldn't have seen a dime outside her pre-nup. Whomever her sole supporter was deserved an extra long lunch. he'd called daily to check on her progress. Jao knew he'd found his soul mate. she dried her hands. "Mr. she heard the whispers and repressed laughter. the conniving slut might have wound up owing my client money. "You're right about one thing. Chapter Three "All I'm saying is it's a good thing Micay wasn't on the Dasho divorce—she'd have sided with the wife." The giggles that followed confirmed what Micay had known since seventh grade—eavesdropping in bathrooms wasn't a good idea. Their embarrassment and mortification assuaged her ego a tiny bit. If I'd handled Dasho Jao’s divorce. I want a son. "What is wrong with me?" she muttered. but the automatic flush made the four secretaries turn to see who had joined their group. and she was pretty certain she didn't like it. fortunately. He's been holding for several minutes." Turning to face them. She'd have found a way to make the wife look like an ambitious. "I think you're wrong. Her chin came up defiantly. returning to her office in search of an antacid. She wasn't used to this hands-on kind of client relationship. You undoubtedly weren't going to like what you overheard. Jao. hadn't been one of the four in the restroom. Micay. Our resident barracuda would have gone for the opposing attorney's nuts and played the blame game in the press. Her secretary. "Dasho Jao on line one. Micay liked to think it didn't matter to her what other people thought about her— especially other women—but the churning sensation in her stomach told her otherwise." Chin high." Micay put her eye to the crack of the door. "In fact.

"Then. Jao." "You know my secrets. perhaps you should see a therapist." "Because you like him so much. She's worried about what will happen to Gino.attention." "Very well." "Been there." There was a long pause. Definitely made for riding something. a new family and a new love? *** Micay gazed out the window at the bucolic scene on the lawn below: a young family playing on the grass while someone—daughter." "That hardly seems fair. You tell me all and I tell no one anything. "Are you asking me to look into the adoption process?" "Yes. Instead. son. In the meantime. I'll call you when I can give you that information. I was thinking about Gino. Fair is relative. "I spoke with Pearl last night at length. The official verdict? I'm in reasonably good shape—mental health-wise—for growing up the way I did. I will. if you want to make it official. "Returning to your impulse control issues. as they say. I could probably get my doctor to sign off on this. "But the attorney-client relationship is by nature onesided." "Tell that to the neighbors who have to smell pig poop. father—visited . Mr. "What kind of personal matter?" "It's personal. I told her I might like to adopt him. I'll be out of the office this afternoon on a personal matter." Her soft snicker sent a shiver through him." she said. He went on without giving her a chance to speak. mother." She cleared her throat in a way that said she'd heard better pick-up lines at the grocery store. after she's gone. he smiled." His smile grew. "Do you ride?" "Do I look like the kind of woman who rides large smelly animals in the sun and dust?" "You have great legs." But there will be. What do you think?" "Have you always had a problem with impulse control or is this something new? Adopting a child isn't the same as buying a dude ranch because you've always wanted to try riding a horse." "I don't want anything from you. Is there anything else?" "Not at the moment. Her health is deteriorating rapidly. done that. but you can leave any message you have with my secretary. Who could have predicted that a simple news article would have led him to a path that offered a new life." Her tone should have made him defensive or angry— nobody talked to him like that.

dammit. He opened his eyes. And. "Would you like a radio.their dying relative. No breathing apparatus. heart monitors. Dad?" she asked." Like a morgue. Nothing but peace and quiet. The back was angled to facilitate his breathing. she wasn't ready to let her father go. bells or whistles. ." "But it's so quiet here. "No. Last gate at the end of the road. Hospice. Noise meant life. effort. She hated it. chaos. She turned to look at the man lying peacefully in the narrow hospital bed. stepping to the bed. the knees lifted slightly. The word sounded so austere.

and the synagogue. school. At one time. He was the stern. you caught some hay on fire and nearly burned down the barn." "I…I…what? I did not. serious." And Micay had tried. But had she ever fallen in love? Not once. you took a magnifying glass outside to fry ants." "You picked berries and made jam." Dasho Jao’s latest whim. "You set fire to my aunt's barn when you were about that age. antisocial brat. She'd made sure she only dated prosperous professional types. You just have to set your mind on it. A loving but demanding mother. judgmental father. Fished in the creek with your second cousins. She did. The same brat who threw a rock at my car. When I picked you up. indeed. Rich or poor. detached member of their small family. Micaela Maghirang didn't do motherhood. How had she blocked what sounded like a lovely adventure from her mind? "How come we never visited this aunt again?" "Your mother insisted on paying for the damage but then became convinced my aunt overcharged her. Period. even if she did allow herself to feel some sort of attraction to Jao. "You can fall for a rich boy just as easily as you can fall for a poor one. You know how your mother was about money. And if that changed now… She brushed the thought aside. A distant."Then you talk." His gaze turned toward the ceiling as if seeing the incident playing out above him. Chapter Four . As he'd been speaking the memories had started to bubble up. "Your mother was having some surgery and she made arrangements for you to spend a week with my aunt in New York. An only child. Aunt Rachel told me you'd gotten into a little trouble. you mean? "My client thinks he wants to adopt a ten-year-old kid." Micay sighed." Her father's lips twitched." She pulled up a chair and sat down." "I don't remember ever spending a week at some farm. Besides. Tell me about your new case. she'd believed Daddy and God were the same person. She was a professional and she could honestly say she'd never become involved with a client. Instead. You wouldn't believe how much the body shop is charging to fix the damage. And when they told you you had to come home. She knew what her mother would have said about Dasho Jao. He'd never smiled much that she could remember. She'd always thought of her childhood as small—her parents. the man was seriously contemplating adopting a destructive.

He'd spent tons of money into the project and served as director the first summer. "Jao has a unique form of attention-deficit syndrome. He even loaded pig poop into plastic shopping bags and put it in dumpsters at the shopping mall after their new neighbors started to raise a ruckus about the smell. You should hear the rumors flying about. but only because his father had called on several friends to sit on the board of directors. I'll see you when you and Father get back. The kid was really something. what kind of people is Drukpah hiring these days. Mother." Jao frowned. Ta. although they traveled less. "That's it! I think I'll buy a farm." "I did. when are you going to give up playing Poker? This is beginning to get embarrassing. Now. Kikay is the pig." She was wrong about that. the people he hired to run the program took advantage. "Missy Gamble e-mailed me that you are dealing with a pig. He hoped." "Your lawyer's name is Kikay? Good lord. but I have to run. She loved to bring up his altruistic failure. Sounds like a stripper. Plus. Micay." Jao hung up the . As his mother once told a friend's mother. stop. Probably one reason he's not married."Ashi. Micaela Maghirang is my lawyer. But when his focus turned in other directions. You know what I meant. He'd grown used to the talk-waitlisten routine when he'd been in school and his parents had been part of the jet-set crowd. But he couldn't do anything about Kikay’s size or noisy grunts." "I thought about playing Zorro." About Gino's age. I'm taking my lawyer and Kikya to lunch." "She's got the body for it. "It's been great talking to you. A pig. Mother. Jao limited his hands-on involvement to smaller causes because he knew his limitations. Whatever for? I told your father we should have sent you to work on a farm when you were ten or eleven. He helped his grandmother as much as he could. he's done with it. darling." "Is she Protestant?" "Can pigs be Protestant? I know quite a few Protestants who are boars. And I'm done talking about this subject. there's a liability factor with swords." The long pause on the line wasn't due to the transCanada call. Mother. Once something ceases to be interesting." "Stop teasing. I do. but…" "Oh. Now. not Kikay. He'd jumped at the chance to create Camp Kampingan. They robbed those poor dying children of a summer of fun and broke Jao’s heart in the process. but the costume costs were outrageous. Have a good day. You're less qualified to raise livestock than you were to run a camp for cancer children. he still saw them about as often. The camp still existed.

Maybe it was time to move on." "I know." "City?" He shrugged. Another time. correct?" He nodded. but his chin lifted defiantly. A quite large area at first place. Maybe. she found the boy standing beside the back end of her car." Micay crossed her arms and tilted her head to study the boy. And it is a very dangerous place for young boys. who she wanted to be when she grew up. she had no idea whatsoever what she really wanted to accomplish. "I hit your car. FYI." After Pearl died. "Do you want me to look for your mother on facebook?" His brown eyes narrowed. Okay?" He nodded again. He wondered what Micay would think of that idea. I just wanted you to know that you can trust me. "We're on the same team. He loved Canada. "Do you know where she lives?" "Quezon. but something about the way his shoulders were hunched—as if the load he was carrying was more than any ten-year-old should have to bear—made her hesitate. I'm not the enemy. One day I came out of my apartment and found all my tires flat." "Well. She'd lived her entire life hoping to impress her father. From cans I find in the garbage. "Maybe. I assume you thought I was someone trying to take you away from your grandmother. Quezon is also a big place. "I got money saved. "I guess. Or Jao. In a way she was envious. *** Micay had returned for some papers Kikay needed to sign. someone carved a gang symbol in the door. Her first impulse was to shoo him away. It took them four days and cost more than your grandmother gets in social security in three months. and as she got out of her and left his grandmother's two-hundred year old brownstone. . At least he had a purpose. she added." He looked down." He jumped back as though she'd struck him. "After. but sometimes life seemed a little tight around the collar." On impulse. a goal. Although she knew he'd figured it out. but you know that's not true. "What do you plan to do with it?" "I'm going find my mom. and now that he was poised on the brink of death. "The repair shop fixed the dent last weekend. but dings are a part of life." "Is that why you didn't tell Gran?" She wasn't sure why she hadn't mentioned the infraction to Pearl.

He wrapped his arms around her middle and pressed his cheek against her belly. When she turned around. That was what this man had hired her to do—even though he changed the parameters of her job daily. too serious. Micay tried to catalogue her reactions but couldn't get past the tears that suddenly welled up in her eyes. a gleaming black Hummer pulled in beside her car a few seconds later. What possible potential Jao saw in the kid was beyond— He moved so fast she didn't have time to react. And to make matters worse."Good. skinny." She unlocked the car and picked up her briefcase. little boy hug. If she weren't the professional she was. Only years of practice allowed her to stifle her emotions and focus on her job. he was directly in front of her. Short. A clumsy. Then he ran. Why? She had no idea. . she'd have crawled into her car and wept.

do you? For you this is a lark. Pearl hasn't told Gino because he's already had so many disappointments in his life. Listening. The man was impossible. the mitigation measures the board agreed to consider are a Band-Aid. Micay couldn't handle complacent." She could barely swallow the lump in her throat." Spoken as a person who was used to getting his own way." "Tough. but surprisingly likable. I fear. . It was an unexpected reward. right? I'll tell you mine. We're within our rights. Pearl and Gino aren't that lucky. but the neighbors still aren't going to be happy. drug-related circumstances that no one's next of kin should have to learn about. Poor kid. Nasty. he automatically becomes a ward of the court. at best. which. Pearl is going to die. she knew the truth— some things couldn't be fixed. Something to keep you from being bored. The house and your high-tech smell-proof barn will be sold at auction. not holding his hand—he wouldn't have liked that. but she knew the results of today's hearing were temporary. His smile seemed to light up his whole face. she realized. Someday in the very near future. Chapter Five "You did it. but the harsh reality is you're going to fix this then walk away. For the first time in her life. "You don't get it." His leer was just ridiculous enough to make her laugh. Gino is going to inherit the property." he said. if you tell me yours. Feeling the gulf of things that needed to be said widen with each tortured breath. And at the moment. She'd spent the better part of the night with her father. watching. "Why?" "Because his mother is dead. but sitting by his bed. "Everybody has fantasies. but as a minor without a parent or family to care for him. his birth mother would still have a say in any outside adoption. which—" "Is impossible. You won!" Micay looked across the table at Jao. She wasn't sure he could handle one more."Mr. "Jao. He came forward so quickly and crowded her space that Micay wobbled on the heels of her frightfully expensive shoes as she backed into the fender of her car. interrupting her. Although Pearl is Gino's guardian. had been his intention. Pearl has as much right to have her pet as somebody with a Great Dane. sanitary stall that passed the most rigorous sniff test. Jao. She knows that he fantasizes about his mom coming back for him. You could build Kikay a high-tech. bad news.

I can't let you go. a cool. Even one mention of the turmoil in her life would open a floodgate that she might never be able to close. "It's personal. Don't you watch T. "We might not be friends. . No. She'd bought Pearl some time. a well-known and popular pub she'd always planned to visit." "No. his lips brushing hers. to push him away. An instant later. "This part. screw you. leaving her meal mostly uneaten.? It's the hottest thing around. her drink untouched. The evening air was cool and damp in that unique Manila way that reminded her how much she loved this city." "Sorry. Her car was two blocks away. She didn't react in any way for a second or two then she gave a small cry and leaned into him." She stood up. I have to go. That left Micay and Jao. I'm out of here.V. as unlikely a pair of crusaders as you could ask for. but we both know—" She sliced her free hand across the space between them. You are nuts. her emotional safety net." "I didn't even take a sip of my Drinks. "I'm sorry. but I have to be somewhere." "What? Wait. She didn't. I am your legal advisor and representative in the court." His hand landed on her shoulder. For her to lose it meant something bad —something very bad—was going on." His smile disappeared." he said. but Pearl had called to say she had a touch of the flu and needed Gino. It doesn't involve you. but this was Micay’s. excuse me. We're not friends or buddies or pals. Are you okay?" She couldn't explain." She was too frazzled. composed professional. "That's a bleak outlook. and now she was fought out. There might have been a time in his life when he would have been angry or upset. to help. Had anyone ever said that to him before? He doubted it. We're celebrating." Fury." "It's reality." "Tough. "Screw personal. Not until I'm confident that you're okay to drive. "Micay. made her pivot to face him. "No. Now. but you're upset." "I prefer eccentric." he said. I've felt it ever since you arrived at the hearing. My life is my own. Her eyes widened with incredulity. He expected her to struggle. "The office gossip was right. You are a client.Kikay will either find a new home or… not. Jao had invited Pearl and Gino to join them." Screw you? Jao’s arm dropped to his side in complete and utter shock. what's going on? Something's wrong. She'd done her best. "What part of 'It's personal' don't you get?" He closed the distance in one step and put his arms around her. You can pretend that you're upset with me. She turned and walked out of the restaurant. but there's a good chance we're soul mates. too emotionally depleted to explain. to carry on the fight.

I'm going to Gawad Kalinga Hospice to see my father. A stringer. Even digital cameras made the sound that Jao." "You're my client. You should go home and brace yourself for whatever fallout this imbroglio will produce in your life." "I'll call Drukpah. avoiding his touch." "I'll fire you." "Your father? I'm so sorry. Give my best to the pig. He wasn't a hugger. but this wasn't about friendly. You have every right to a private life." Jao swore. afraid the chilly persona she showed the world would return. As long as they were locked in each other's arms they could avoid that nasty thing called reality." she said dryly. It was about lust. I don't know how you came up with the idea that we were soul mates. "I take it my reputation will now be shredded. dog. the taste of her lipstick. a private person. He was afraid to stop kissing her. I feel so much better now. People like me don't have souls. heterosexual adults. He'd met the twenty-something newshound before. And more." "Thank you." He reached for her. Click. Jao. Click. Her scent. Just what I needed. but now I realize it's just a job. He jerked back. You shouldn't. but she stepped away. There was a time when I would have considered that the end of the world. You probably have a boyfriend at home." Then she left. Should I come with you?" She laughed resignedly. Give him a heads up. Sold his photos and briefs to the highest bidder. "No. dreaded. He hadn't grown up in a family of huggers. Mr. "You don't give up. Jao. fish or living plant at my condo. "Great. but you're wrong. but still…the image would be juicy. "This shouldn't have happened. "Evening. actually. Micay. He knew that sound. I'm sorry. Click. I'll lose my job. Click. stooping to pick up her briefcase. Ask anyone. "Gwyneth. I'm not going home. We're unmarried. I shouldn't have followed you. There's no cat. At worse.he heard her briefcase hit the pavement and her arms returned the hug. Ms. do you? There's no boyfriend. Chapter Six . Congrats on the win today. Is he the reason you're upset?" She shook her head and sighed. Who knew how much this would be worth? Less now than it would have been during his scandalous divorce. the wet heat of her mouth pushed him past his comfort zone. roughly shoving Gwyneth behind him." Micay said.

they're practically the same thing. of course. who had arrived at his home an hour earlier. First class." his mother said before Jao could respond. It reminded Jao of the famous post World War II shot of the sailor kissing a girl on the street. son. straight from NAIA airport. Both looked fit and relatively refreshed given the trans-Canada flight. What were you thinking?" The photo had appeared in the paper five days earlier. He'd rushed out and bought four copies to have for posterity."My god. "He wasn't thinking or he'd have realized this choice was every bit as irresponsible as that woman he married the first time. Not that he intended to tell that to his parents. "An actress." . a lawyer.

His grandmother for the most part had thumbed her nose at society and Jao felt the same way. And as much as he wanted to pretend otherwise. Did he want to subject Micay to the kind of scrutiny his mother and father would give her? And what kind of grandfather would . I'd intended to comfort her." He didn't agree. "Drukpah said she's under intense scrutiny by the partners and this public display of affection would certainly fall under questionable ethical conduct. His protégé. her tone indicating she considered that recourse to be fair. He hadn't really considered how this would impact Micay’s career." his mother put in." "Then. "This was my doing.He blinked. Micay had been upfront about her position in the firm from the very beginning. "Nor fair to us. "She's his girl." Jao looked at his mother. Micay was the most independent person he'd ever met. you'd better give Drukpah a call and tell him you want a different lawyer and you have no intention of seeing this woman socially again. His mother was many things but a great thinker wasn't on the list. "As I've said before. It's not as though this pig woman were someone who would fit longterm into your social life. Heck." Jao said. People dealing with a dying loved one often made impulsive decisions they later regretted. and it's just not fair to them." his mother said." "Apparently there was some kind of scandal in Cebu." The complaint echoed Micay’s. "I called Drukpah. But he knew from experience that they wouldn't hear his argument— regardless of its validity—until they were finished ranting. The gossip is most unpleasant. not Micay’s." his father said. "I'd be very upset with SRL if they let her go." he said." He shook his head." "She might lose her job." his father stated. but her attitude could be attributed to the stress she was under. "Another woman who needs rescuing. "She lost a case. But his parents were never going to change. He'd never understood why she put so much stock in what people thought. She'd been a bit cavalier about the subject when they were talking that night at the restaurant. Jao hadn't been able to quit thinking about what she'd said. but even Drukpah admits he's seen a change in her in recent weeks. "I told you. you can't go around interfering in other people's lives. for you to fit into their lives then leave. Jao was pretty sure his grandmother's death had been the catalyst behind his disastrous marriage. She needed him like his father needed a tax audit." His parents exchanged a telling look. I guess you'd say. "Micay’s father is dying. His mother nodded. Jao’s stomach started churning." his mother added. either. "How is that?" "They stand up in front of people and emote.

She rapped firmly." She didn't bother sitting. "My goodness. He was a coward who ran at the first hint of controversy." Her head snapped back. "Come in. "You understand. even though her knees felt wobbly and she couldn't remember the last time she ate. He's in hospice care and they tell me he could go at any time. he felt it would be better all around if you two didn't continue to work together. Drawing on her deepest reserves. Are you firing me?" He stood up quickly and walked around the desk. He wanted to make it clear that he thought you were a wonderful lawyer. a place where secrets slipped into the tight knots of the wood and never left. and . Micay.his father be to a troubled little boy like Gino? Maybe Micay and Gino would both be better off without him in their lives. Micay. "He did?" "He called me at home last night. I should have resigned from his case that same afternoon. I don't have to be there." "You argued admirably. He didn't deserve to adopt a kid like Gino." He put his hand on her shoulder supportively." His eyes widened behind his bifocals. she kept her voice calm and dispassionate. but…my mind doesn't seem to…I just can't do this. not. and he took full blame for the photograph. *** Micay lifted her hand to knock on the highly polished mahogany door. "No. don't you?" Micay’s insides went from cold and numb to hot and hurt. There was some chatter among the partners. I expected no less. Of course. you're extremely pale. She was certain what he had to tell her wouldn't take long. She understood all right. Do you feel well?" "I'm going to need a week or ten days of personal leave. She hadn't actually seen the shot. She had a secret to share. Drukpah. "Because of this gossips over Jao and the newspaper photograph?" She shook her head. but that wasn't why she'd been called in. knowing his hearing wasn't what it used to be. "My father is dying. He doesn't know me now. I've failed you again and I apologize. dear. but they quieted down when Jao called to ask for a different lawyer. But given the circumstances. Drukpah’s office imbued old world constancy and trustworthiness. although she'd heard titters of laughter and knew others in the office were talking about it. "Of course. Her father was past the point where he heard anything she or the nurses tried to tell him.

Micay was sure she'd never forget the sound of his tortured breath toward the end. He'd held on another two weeks after her meeting with Drukpah. It hadn't been easy. but this impending loss will still have a—" She stopped him. but . dear girl. Give yourself time to heal. you don't mean that. receipts. Now." Chapter Seven Micay gently lifted the delicate bloom and bent low enough to smell it. "Micaela. did you?" She could only imagine his answer. But the long and agonizing end had been a gift. dear. "Take your leave of absence. "You're right. I think it's time I leave De Lima. "When did you and Mom drive down Palawan? Was it the time you went to Underground Cave to see her sisters? I thought Mom hated Aunt Bonnie? I never understood her antipathy. Not the type who could sit still and do nothing for long periods.accomplished what you were hired to do. her school records." He stepped back. The arrangement was the largest of the dozen or so that had arrived after her father died. His tenaciousness had surprised even his seasoned nurses who had predicted his passage to be swift and easy. I know you weren't terribly close to your father. That truly isn't like you. From time to time. Drukpah and Santiago. you became emotionally connected to these people. Micay would make comments or ask questions. she'd used the time to go through the dozens of boxes of papers her parents had saved. It's about me—the person I thought I needed to become to earn my father's love and respect." She nodded. I've changed. It isn't. Then we'll talk. You're under incredible strain at the moment. You've earned it. Once. she'd exclaimed in surprise over a ticket stub for a ferry boat ride in Palawan." Drukpah didn't say anything right away. Sitting in a comfortable chair by the window just a few feet from her father's bed. but somewhere along the line. she would sift through letters. We won't discuss the other again until you're absolutely sure. "This isn't about my father. his jaw dropping. bills. Drukpah. ancient bank statements—anything and everything her mother and father had deemed important. and in all fairness to you and the other partners. of sorts. She'd borrowed a dolly from her neighbor and carried three at a time to his room at the hospice. I'm not sure he liked that person either.

She'd burst into tears and walked on her knees to his bedside. he got to the reason for the letter. there was no unsaying it. Sobbing. Dear Micay… After a few lines of hoping everything was fine with her and she was studying hard. mutual respect and love. Playbills from music recitals she couldn't imagine her father attending. There wasn't anything she could do. but here's a contract to deed for a house in Davao. Your mother and I are both very proud of you. She didn't know why she'd assumed their marriage was indifferent and bland. They both wanted her to stay in school rather than come back home. Menus from restaurants she'd had no idea they dined at. generous person who would make a wonderful wife and mother. You are a loving. Children are the light of their parents' world. too. Other things had surprised her. we will love your children as much as we love you —even if God deems that be from heaven. Apparently the letter had been returned instead of being forwarded after the second try. The distance she'd felt whenever she tried to talk to her father. She'd changed dorms three times in one year. Because she'd been too close? Her perceptions altered by the personal dramas in her life? The arguments with her mother. "How come you and Mom never talked about the early years? I heard about how you met. the postmark was blurred so she wasn't sure of the exact date." The last thing she ran across was a letter addressed to her at college. but she used the time to ask questions. The prognosis was poor. Although it had nearly killed her. Her mother's cancer had returned. Slowly a picture of her parents' life emerged into a collage of companionship. And if some day you give us a grandchild or two. You certainly are ours. You lost it. she'd managed to recall enough of her early religious training to sit and get through the rituals of a Catholic funeral. Friends of . Our only concern is that you don't short-change yourself by focusing entirely on your chosen career. didn't you? This says 'foreclosed.' Maybe that's why you never talked about it. She didn't know. He stopped breathing a moment later. Her feelings were easily hurt and once something was said. Your mother was overly sensitive at times. The envelope was sealed. she'd held his hand and told him how much she loved him. Her hands had shaken as she opened it because her father had written to her at most half a dozen times in her life. And now it would be.the sentiment felt very real to her. Maybe that's why Mom was so frugal and you pushed so hard for me to choose a career that paid well.

then? You could have had these delivered. So she merely nodded. constant testing of wills." he'd said. "I didn't even attend my grandmother's funeral and she practically raised me. The problem was Jao. too. "I'm not good at this kind of thing. He studied her a moment then leaned in and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Instead of attending Micay’s father's funeral as he should have. why did you come here. "This is ridiculous. What I'm asking for isn't rocket science." "Why?" "Grandmother loved Old Blue Eyes. barely making eye contact. he turned around and left. but the contractor had insisted on an onsite meeting. Jao knew he was right. A great many of her co-workers sent cards of sympathy. Micay. She felt shellshocked." She believed him. "You're the strong one. You'll be fine. She couldn't fall apart. I am being unreasonable. you're right.her fathers had been quick to call. The guy was being honest. Their knocking of heads. who obviously couldn't wait to get away. but Pearl is getting to the point where she can't care . If you wait too long between times. We're not putting in a livestock barn for a small herd. it will smell. Joa had agreed to pay extra to get him to start right away. I really am. Jao spent that afternoon at Pearl’s. Jao could tell the man was now regretting his pertinacity. but before she could move." the man said with finality." "I may be a flake. but didn't dare let his sympathy touch her. If not for the flowers. He'd set up an appointment with a contractor to talk about rebuilding the garage to make it more sanitary and less stinky. She wanted to crawl into his arms and disappear. I took my boat out and played Frank Sinatra tunes. refused to back his work with any kind of guarantee and just plain annoyed Jao so much he snapped. "Look. The last thing you needed was bad publicity on top of your loss. You still have to get in and muck it out on occasion. Is that too much to expect?" "I can give you concrete that washes up with a hose." She didn't feel strong. A millionaire delivery boy. but I'm not aware of any stall that cleans itself. While everyone else was at the church. Family members she barely knew came out of the woodwork. He was miserable. Pig-friendly and smell-free. He missed Micay. but I have a conscience. I'm sorry. but that wasn't the problem. she might have thought she'd imagined the whole thing. Not yet. drukpah and a few others attended the service. He had a good reputation and charged plenty. Jao—the one person she'd hoped might attend—only stopped by long enough to drop off the flowers. Micay. He'd tried to keep his distance from Pearl and Gino. I really feel awful about the timing of what happened. The man had arrived late." "I meant. vacillated about the best options. bruised and needy. I want one stall.

I'll review your plans and be in touch. He knew he was making the right choice for Gino's sake. dear boy. dark hall to the kitchen. "I saw you poking around outside with the other gentleman. Her shoulders hunched forward in a way that broke his heart. Sure enough. Jao assumed he was in school. Kikay lifted her head to glance at him. the pig was lying on its side beside the sink area." he said. isn't it? I thought about taking Gino out of school for the service. "They started making noises about putting him in a foster home. That's what someone Gino's age did. but a second later." Pearl said opening the rickety screen door for him. but not one I'd . She was going to be a singer. She takes care of the potato peelings.for ikya. The pig wasn't anywhere in sight. "She's in the kitchen helping make soup. but his teachers don't like him missing." He shook hands with the man then went to the house. "It'll cheer you up. art andmoney from the old woman's account before anyone was the wiser. Gino hadn't been around. helpful young women who blended seamlessly into Ashi’s world. Gino's mama. "They've returned to Canada. "My parents were just here. Pearl didn't have much to lose. Kind of them. but I told her she'd only distract you from your work." His grandmother had had three paid companions in her later years. Had a beautiful voice. "A cup of tea?" Pearl asked. holding his elbow as they walked through a narrow. but not very good about taking it. but Jao would feel horrible if someone he hired to help took advantage of her. Such a sad thing about Micay’s father." This would have been the perfect opportunity to bring up the subject of Jao’s desire to adopt the boy—if his parents hadn't persuaded him out of the notion. He'd bet anything she was a force to be reckoned with when she was younger. "They're big on giving advice. "Thank you for coming." she said. The third had stolen jewelry. Kikay wanted to come out. her large ears flapping back and forth. True. right? "Hello. We had quite a row about it when I was sick a while back." Pearl said. she heaved a sigh and sank back to her resting position." The guy shrugged. indeed. Just dropped in long enough to point out all the errors of my ways and remind me what a fool I am." Jao looked around the cluttered room. Two had been charming. "Like my granddaughter." She shook her head. "Maybe you're gonna have to hire a pigsitter. huh?" She poured his tea then sat down opposite him. but the change of plans still galled him. "Funny thing about families." He smiled. I just want to make this barn as user-friendly as possible.

Pearl said. interrupted by an occasional grunt from Kikay." She sighed. They might never get over the plan he was about to spring on them. Chapter Eight He was only gone a week. In that time he didn't try contacting Micay." He wasn't sure the same was true of blue-blood parents. He jumped out of his Hummer and raced into the house. True. "Hurt Gino the most. but they don't hold a grudge. Leave 'em alone. All he produced was a child then he overdosed on heroin. I brought my children into this world. which was why he needed to do it in person. Pigs and dogs have the right idea. Jao had pretty much done what he wanted when he wanted for most of his life. She got all depressed and turned to drugs. She got pregnant by some guy claiming to be a producer. She didn't. He would fly . The last thing he'd expected to find was a BMW and a moving van in the driveway. I hoped they'd do the same with their children. he hurried to her house the morning after his red-eye flight. figuring she needed space to mourn and deal with her father's estate. but that hadn't included falling in love with a Catholic lawyer or adopting the child of a dead drug special. Winded from the ." Pearl shrugged. The senior member of the movers directed him to the barn. No singing. "I still love the whole lot of them—even when they do things that make no sense. "Your folks gave you life. He also planned to ask Micay to marry him—after he begged her forgiveness for missing her father's funeral. He thinks it's his fault his mother didn't make it as a singer. remodel the garage." "I'm sure that hurt. forget to feed 'em. tell them that he intended to buy Pearl’s house. Just a lot of pain. Finally." They sat in silence. I warned her that she should make a plan in case the singing didn't work out. did my best to raise them with values. but once you started to breathe that life became yours. He called Pearl twice. some didn't. Some did. short 'em on water. Worried about what he'd find. For starters. but never got an answer. hire a caretaker and adopt Gino.

if it hasn't been packed?" Gino looked at Micay." Micay corrected. who nodded and smiled encouragingly. but all he heard was trepidation. and Micay doesn't want to be alone no more." "Too late for what?" "To help with the move.dash. "Any more." Jao felt an intense pressure on his chest. Kikay needs a bigger place. "Another day and you'd have been too late. "Where's your grandma?" "Out back with Kikay. jeans and faded man's shirt knotted at her waist was enough to draw him closer. The sight of Micay with her hair in a ponytail. That was so Micay. The state not the city. Drukpah already tried. She was being a pest. Micay says it's a waste of time and money to fight the neighbors. but an actual prognosis was difficult to hear." Jao winced. "Well. Grams didn't want to tell me." "Any more." "Would you do me a favor and tell her Micay and I could use some tea. he rounded the corner of Kikay’s stall to find Micay and Gino shoveling manure into a wheelbarrow. and Gino turned off the iPod that was connected to a boombox. She leaned her shovel handle against the wall of the garage and crossed her arms defensively. I planned to buy this place. "Gino needs to be in a home that isn't going to get ripped out from under him when the time comes. She was scared spitless but wouldn't admit it in a million years. He gave me the speech about waiting a year after a loved one passes away before making any big moves. She'd left him alone with his parents." Micay said. forget it. Tripping the movers by trying to sniff their boots." He . Hip-hop? "Good lord. "Me and Grams and Kikay are gonna live with Micay 'cause me and her are orphans. "I just got back." Gino added. similar to the pain he'd felt when his grandmother passed away. she glanced from him to Gino. "If you're here to talk me out of this. then he stripped off his gloves and left." "We're going to a farm in New York. pointedly. "Too bad. Micay obviously hadn't heard him approach over the pulsing beat of hip-hop music. but the harsh reality is Pearl probably doesn't have a year. remodel the barn and hire help to care for Pearl and Kikay." Micay shrugged. it stinks in here. Besides. but I kinda knew already once Ma stopped coming back when the welfare check came in. he might have walked away. He'd guessed that." Pausing mid-toss." If there'd been a hint of triumph in her tone. They both put down their shovels. it's about time. The stench was almost enough to make him head back into the open air. He looked at Gino and asked. I got here first.

"Then you can adopt me and Kikay. Gran?" Pearl was beaming. She looked up at the heavens a second then said. stinky concrete. She was pretty sure she loved him. yes." Joy swelled inside her. He didn't seem to mind her smell. Her throat was too tight to speak." He led her to the picnic table where four tall glasses were resting. Instead. right. which is why I went to clear the air with my parents. I have to admit. She put her snout in the air and sniffed a couple of times before heading straight for . her well-thought-out arguments flew out the barn door when she looked up and saw Jao. "It's okay. Yet the man who'd known privilege but never unconditional love couldn't find the words. I don't know what shape it's in but I have a little money saved and there's room for Kikay. Kikay erupted from beneath the bush. Or could she? A happy life with a mate and children was all that her father had wished for her. but asking him to join them on this new adventure required a leap of faith she wasn't certain she could make. I told them I was coming back here to date you. They met halfway. I had to walk it alone. too. bringing tears to her eyes. Jao made her sit. "I'm sure we could find a Sugar Cane plantation for you if you want to join us. Micay could hear Kikay’s contented grunts coming from beneath one of the nearby bushes." Gino prompted. I owe you an apology. then he went down on one knee. Well…to court you." he said. "That's what I had in mind. As a lawyer. in all fairness. too. but she still wanted to hear the words. His kiss was the answer she'd hoped for. When the renters found out I didn't plan to sell. She looked at Pearl and Gino for help." He looked at Pearl and smiled. I should have been here for you when your dad—" She stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. Okay. towing her out the door. they moved. "She gave me the same advice." Is there room for me? he wanted to ask. "I need witnesses. Unfortunately. she knew the value of going into every negotiation with a game plan.stepped closer. apparently 0answering to her name." His smile lit up her heart and gave her hope. Why in Davao?" "My father left me his aunt's old place on sixty acres. Pearl and I talked. his boots sliding on the slick. he took her hand. This was my path. "First. "Tell him. "For what?" "You'll see. I plan to pursue you with dogged steadfastness and passion until I finally wear down your resistance enough that you agree to marry me. Micay had seven days and nights to prepare for this meeting. but before she could reply. Gino and Pearl were seated on one side.

she did love him. sighing. Jao scrambled back to his gallant position. but love never goes out of fashion. Micay and Gino looked at each other and groaned. but I knew Kikay would enjoy them more. Micaela Maghirang. "One more. Her tenure at De Lima. life-altering decision was all she could handle at a time. but who knows? If you stick around long enough. too. then kissed her to the happy cheers of her newfound family and contented grunts of her newly acquired pig. "Was that one of your Prada?" he asked." "I love you." She reached across the table to a large shopping bag sitting beside Gino. "The law is my life. I might find use for a rich. "Only a crazy person would agree to marry someone who's never even told her he loves her. "Well. I have since the moment Gino ruined your car and you didn't say anything. there was no turning back. Mikay shrugged. Kikay let out a squeal of joy. I thought about trading them in for rubber boots." Micay said. you are such a pig." "After we're married? Is that a yes?" She gave him a flinty stare that undoubtedly made judges sit up and take notice." she said. She firmly nudged Jao out of the way then gazed up at Micay with a look that mixed adoration and expectation." He laughed and pulled her into his arms. but she could tell he meant what he said about marrying her.Micay. she reached in and pulled out a shoe." Jao looked at the sack that held a small fortune worth of shoes – and understood what this gesture meant. Drukpah and Santiago assosciates was over." "Why? What did that prove?" "That you have a big heart and you don't do everything by the book. One huge. Styles change. "Couture fashion isn't a requirement where we're going. "Promise you won't ever say anything that cheesy after we're married. Have you ever thought about giving up law to grow watermelons?" Micay assumed he wasn't serious about farming. impulsive. Closing her eyes. but this move would be a good test of Jao’s self-professed attention deficit issues. slightly strange philanthropist. Once those shoes were gone. but that's it until we get to our new home. A strappy high heel. THE END . "Oh. "Get real. If he hung in there for a year or two. you know what they say. snatched the treat from her hand and disappeared out of sight. After all. She didn't plan to say yes right away. she'd probably be ready to tie the knot." he quipped.

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