Manny pulled his Jeep into the marina parking lot and parked beside the largest sailing yacht at the docks, where he knew his wife’s parents were likely seething with anger. He didn’t care. This needed to be done in order for Aloise to be free of their control.
He climbed from the Jeep and walked around the front to help her down, pulling her into his arms. Her beautiful brown eyes pleaded with him for reassurance.
“I won’t let them hurt you,” Manny said, leaning down to place a kiss on her lips, which were slightly swollen from the previous night when they had barely paused for breath.
“I’m not worried about them hurting me,” she said. “I’m worried they’re going to try to take me away from you.”
“I won’t let that happen.” He leaned down so he could look her directly in the eye. “As soon as we get your belongings off this boat, we will spend tonight in each other’s arms, and every night for the rest of our lives.”
“Is that a promise, Mr. Cohen?” Her flirty eyes nearly made him lift her back inside the Jeep and kiss her until he couldn’t see straight.
“Yes, that is a promise, Mrs. Cohen.” In the privacy of the open door to his Jeep, they shared one very long kiss before closing the door and walking hand-in-hand toward her parents’ sailing yacht. After only a few feet toward the dock, Manny stopped short. “Did they turn the boat around? Or am I imagining that the bow was facing west yesterday?”
“Yeah… they did. Weird.” She shrugged and they continued down the planks of the dock to where the mounting ladder sat ready.
Nothing seemed out of place, yet Manny had an eerie feeling. They started down the stairs to the galley salon.
“Mamá? Papá? Alondra?” Although she called to her family, Aloise headed straight for her stateroom and climbed up onto her bed, opening the furthest stowage cabinet. “Can you hand me that box?”
Manny shoved the box they’d brought from his house closer to her and waited by her door, wondering how soon her father would come around the corner with his shotgun. Manny refused to lift a weapon against another human, even in self-defense. All he could do was hope.
“You have a lot of nerve showing up here,” David Ashish’s gruff voice spoke as he descended the stairs.
“Thank you, Sir.” Manny nodded. “I like to think of myself as a courageous man.”
From inside her stateroom Aloise snickered and Manny fought to maintain his composure.
“You are just a little boy.” David stepped closer but Manny held his ground.
“My hope is that my youthful appearance will continue into old age,” Manny said without flinching.
“You will regret the decisions you made these past two days,” David said.
“There are many things in my life that I regret,” Manny answered. “But marrying your daughter will never be one of them.”
“We’ll see about that.” David turned and stormed up the stairs, temporarily blocking the sunlight streaming in from above.
“Is that true?” Shira Ashish said from the stairwell coming down from the larger salon. When she came into view, Manny noticed her swollen eyes from crying. “Did the two of you get married?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Manny nodded respectfully. “Yesterday.”
“She wasn’t of marrying age yet,” Shira said. “She needed to wait for her sister to find a husband first.”
“Twenty is legally old enough in the United States,” Manny said.
“We are from Mexico, not United States,” she said. “You have disrespected our values and ruined our daughter.”
“Your daughter is the most incredible woman I’ve ever met, and I will treasure her until the day I die.” Manny was impressed with himself for modulating his tone. “I wish you luck finding a husband for Alondra. I’m sure she’s looking forward to getting out from under your oppressive rules as well.”
“Manny, can you take this box to the Jeep and bring me that other box we brought?” Aloise interrupted their argument. “I guess I have more stuff than I thought I did.”
“I’m glad we decided to bring two.” Manny leaned down to lift the heavy box from her bed and turned toward the steps leading outside. The box was awkward and lopsided and carrying it along the side plank of the sailboat was a feat.
He stumbled down the boarding ladder onto the dock and looked up to realize his new father-in-law was beside him. Startled, Manny wondered why David hadn’t offered a hand if he was right there watching him struggle to get down the ladder.
The two men regarded one another but no words were said. Manny turned and stumbled along the dock and up the concrete steps to the parking lot. His keys were in his jeans pocket, so he set the heavy box on the ground and fumbled to unlock the Jeep.
“What the heck does that girl have in here?” he mumbled, lifting the box and placing it on the back seat. He opened the box. “Books?”
Classics. He lifted them to check the bindings. A Tale of Two Cities, Gone with the Wind, Pride & Prejudice, Twilight. Really? On top was a Bible. A small smile lit Manny’s face as he closed the box of his wife’s treasures, feeling he learned almost as much about Aloise from peeking into this box as he had during an entire night of lovemaking.
A different king of smile shifted on his face and he hurried to grab the other box before heading back to the boat.
The boat that had been docked directly in front of his Jeep.
The boat that was now exiting the marina and rounding the corner into the Thunder Bay River, nearly to the mouth of where the river flowed into Lake Huron.
The boat where his wife had been packing the last of her belongings to come home with him forever.
“No!” Manny screamed. There were no other patrons in the parking lot.
Dropping the box, Manny ran toward the marina, where the harbor master stood behind the counter.
“Call for the Coast Guard!” Manny yelled to the man, who immediately lifted the receiver of the phone beside him. “We have to stop that boat! They’re kidnapping my wife!”
Not waiting to hear the man’s conversation, Manny ran back out to the parking lot and watched David Ashish yanking the rigging to release the sails. Wind lifted the giant white sails, pushing his slim racing yacht further out into Lake Huron.
“If they reach the international boundary into Canadian waters…” Manny whispered to an empty parking lot. “I’ll never get her back.”