“I’m sorry, son, that boat was registered to a Mexican citizen. They are not under our jurisdiction.” Petty Officer Haskins from the Coast Guard wasn’t making sense, and more important, wasn’t launching a fleet to go rescue Aloise.
“But they’ve kidnapped my wife.” Manny pointed in the direction where they’d disappeared over the horizon.
“Is your wife a United States citizen?”
“N—no… we got married yesterday.” Panic crushed Manny’s chest.
“How many months had she been in the U.S.?”
“M—months?” Manny stammered. “Two days. She’d been in the U.S. two days.”
“You married a woman you’d known for two days?”
Less than 24 hours, Manny thought, but didn’t tell him that. “I have a marriage license that says her parents can’t kidnap her.”
“I’m sorry, son, that’s not how it works. You’re asking the Coast Guard to spend thousands of dollars to rescue a non-citizen. There’s nothing I can do, son.” The man rested a hand on Manny’s shoulder, but he shrugged it off.
Son… he keeps calling me son. I’m not a little boy! he wanted to scream. He ground his hands into fists.
Father! City Hall, where his father worked, was walking distance from the marina.
Manny took off at a full sprint, arriving at City Hall faster than he could have maneuvered his Jeep out of the parking lot and down the street.
Throwing open the door to the building and skidding around the corner into his father’s outer office, Manny cried out to his receptionist, “I need to speak with my father.”
“I’m sorry, he’s in a meeting. You’ll have to wait.” Her calming voice only served to snap his last semblance of temper.
Manny shoved past the receptionist and barreled through the office to a closed conference room. He threw open the door to where a dozen men and women sat around an oval table with papers and laptops and presentation folders and cups of coffee and bagels strewn across the table. “Father, they’ve kidnapped Aloise!”
“Emanuel, I’m in a meeting.” Mayor Jacob Cohen stood and offered Manny a disappointed and angry glare.
“David Ashish stole Aloise and they are barreling toward international waters as we speak, and you have to get the Coast Guard to rescue her.”
“I thought I told you to say away from that girl,” Jacob growled.
“I’m sorry I disobeyed you,” Manny said in a calmer voice. “Now please, you have to help me get her back.”
“I don’t have to do anything for that family. Now if you’ll kindly close the door on your way out, we can talk about this when I get home tonight.”
“But she’s my wife.” Manny’s voice cracked as he fought to maintain composure.
“Your what?” Jacob’s eyes narrowed.
“We got married yesterday.”
“What were you thinking, Emanuel? I told you to stay away from that family.”
“David and Shira Ashish are not our enemies. What he and your brother, Liam, did was wrong, but it’s time you forgave them.”
Jacob pounded his fist on the table. “Don’t you presume to know anything about what my brother and David did to our family.”
“Father, don’t you understand? This is why Aloise and I were brought together. She and I were meant to bring a reconciliation between our families.”
A feeling of peace washed over Manny and he understood how all the pieces fit together now. How else could their experience be explained otherwise?
“Why else would she have run out of gas at exactly the spot in the middle of a forest where my hunting blind happened to be built?” Manny pleaded with passion. “Why else would I have been singing loud enough from the top of that hunting blind that she could hear me all the way from the road? Why else would she and I have been drawn to each other like a moth to a flame? Why else would we have gotten married less than twenty-four hours after meeting?” Manny sighed and his eyes softened.
“Your youthful fantasies and teenage hormones have just gotten you into the biggest mess of your life, Emanuel. Now you can live with the consequences.” Jacob pointed out into the office. “Now, pull that door shut so I can continue my meeting.”
A city police officer appeared at Manny’s shoulder and pulled his arm. “Let’s go, sir. You’ve been asked to leave.”
“No! Wait! You don’t understand!”
The officer pulled Manny’s arm behind him and took handcuffs from his belt.
“Father!”—Manny called over his shoulder— “If it were mother on that boat, what would you do?”
His father had told him the stories of how Grandpa Arnold had gotten angry and forced his daughter, Maryam, onto their yacht, leaving Puerto Aventuras, and Jacob, behind. Captain Arnold had told Jacob in no uncertain terms that he was not to speak to her again.
Jacob chartered a helicopter that very day and flew thousands of nautical miles to plead forgiveness and beg for Maryam’s hand in marriage. Twenty-two years later, their families joined in happiness, it was hard to remember what the original argument had been about.
The officer slapped a cuff on one of Manny’s wrists just as the mayor appeared in the doorway.
“Wait,” Jacob called to the officer. “Release my son. We need to go rescue his wife.”