The Most Beautiful Day of My Life - Chapter 2: Noon

The small chapel was flooded with light sifting through painted-glass windows. The air was permeated with the sweet, heady scent of flowers. In a dim corner an organ softly sounded.

A tall, raven-haired man in a perfectly cut black tuxedo, paced nervously in front of the altar.

“Calm down, pal.” His best man tapped his shoulder. “I’m sure she’s just stuck in traffic.”

Ryo turned with a start. “What if she changed her mind? She wasn’t herself this morning.”

“Not many brides-to-be are lucid on their wedding day, Ryo.” Saeko and her two sisters joined the two men. “She’ll be here, don’t worry.”

“Besides,” Yuka added, “she was all ready and set when we left.”

Umibozu walked down the aisle. “I called the café.”

“And?” Ryo was beyond nervous.

“There was no answer.”

“See?” Kazue smiled. “She’s coming.”

Ryo hesitatingly nodded, his instincts screaming at him something was definitely and utterly wrong.

A uniformed police officer ran through the door. “Nogami-san, Nogami-san, thank God I found you.”

Saeko frowned . “Kamiya-san, it’s my day off! I told everyone I didn’t want to be bothered!”

The policeman shifted from one foot to the other. “I apologize, Nogami-san, but this is an emergency.”

Saeko grabbed him under the arm, dragging him in a corner. “What is it?” she hissed.

Ryo’s sensitive ears managed to catch something similar to, “We found...” He saw Saeko turn pale and his heart stopped for a fragment of a second. “Umibozu,” he mumbled.

“I heard.” The giant looked worried

Saeko returned on wobbly legs, her eyes wide and frightened. “Umibozu, your wife...Miki’s at the hospital.”

“Oh, God.” Ryo’s heart threatened to shatter in his chest. “Was there an accident? Kaori?”

Saeko shook her head. “No accident. My deputy found Miki by the road. She’s in a coma. The doctors say it’s gas poisoning.”

“Gas?” Umibozu looked ready to crumble.

“What about Kaori?”

“There’s no sign of her, Ryo. Or the car.”

Ryo collapsed on a bench, dropped his head in his hands. “This isn’t happening.”

“Ryo.” Saeko sat beside him. “I assure you we’ll do anything in our power to find her. Don’t worry.”

Ryo’s eyes flashed angry sparks as he looked at her. “Worry?” He laughed bitterly. “Saeko, I’m way beyond worry at the moment. I knew something like this might happen, and still we had to go through with the whole fucking thing.”

Umibozu was pale as a ghost. “You don’t even know if it’s because of you.”

“Why then? Why kidnap her if not because she was about to become my wife?” Ryo lowered his head again. “God damn it.” He guiltily looked up. “Sorry, father...I shouldn’t have caved about the whole wedding thing.”

“Saeba.” Kazue walked to him, her arms tucked in the crook of Mick’s elbow. “This meant the world to her. Don’t ruin it by feeling guilty. We’re going to find her. Right, Mick?”

The American nodded. “Sure thing, man. I’m ready to swipe the city.”

Umibozu looked towards the chapel door.

Ryo understood. “Go, Umibozu. You should be with your wife right now. I’m sorry she was involved.”

The colossus smiled sadly. “Knowing her, she probably fought like a hellcat.”

“Kamiya-san.” Saeko stepped to the police officer, whispering in his ear. “Great. Umibozu, he’s going to give you a lift to the hospital.” She smiled. “I hope Miki gets better soon.”

“Thanks, Saeko. Ryo, if you need anything, you have my number.”

Ryo nodded. “Yeah. Now go.”

Mick watched the giant leave, before turning back to his friend with a determined look on his face. “What’s the plan, bud?”

Ryo stood up. He was going to find whoever kidnapped Kaori and make them pay. With interest. “We call every informer this screwed-up city has. I don’t care what it takes, pay them, threaten them, torture them, just get me some news.” He purposefully strode out of the chapel, impatiently tugging at his tie.

Saeko caught up with him at his car. “Ryo! What are you planning to do?”

“Look for the limo.” He threw his jacket on the seat. “Saeko, find out who’s been released from jail recently.”

“Ok.” She touched his shoulder. “Try not to do anything stupid.”

He winked. “You know me.”

“Yes, I do,” Saeko whispered as she watched the Mini speed down the drive. “Be careful, Ryo.”

X
Y
Z

Her name echoed in her head and there was an earthquake or some similar cataclysm. Kaori had a splitting headache and the yelling, which was getting louder, didn’t help matters much. Her daze lifted some, and she noticed there was no earthquake. Someone was shaking her for all they were worth. Why were people so disregarding to others’ misery? Why couldn’t they just let her sleep?

“Kaori!” The shaking increased. The one doing the shaking started panting from the effort.

Kaori mentally smiled with glee. They were tired. Good. At least she wasn’t the only one.

“Kaori, wake the hell up!”

Was it her or did the voice sound really familiar. Kaori started to slowly unglue her eyes open. Her mouth felt like something crawled inside and died. Slowly. Blech.

“Kaori, please, wake up,” the familiar voice pleaded.

That’s it, girl. You’re going to wake up right this instant. Chop, chop. Snap yourself awake, Kaori!

“Yeah, yeah,” she grumbled, lifting a heavy eyelid. She quickly lowered it with a groan as the light blasted at the insides of her skull. “I’m up.”

“Oh, thank God. I thought you’d never snap out of this, whatever it is.”

“Drug induced sleep, perhaps?” Kaori helpfully suggested, hefting herself up on her elbows. She could finally keep her eyes open and noticed the room was in fact dim. The excruciating pain was provoked by a flickering candle. Great, just great!

“Kaori? Are you sure, you should be up?”

“Hell, yes! It’s my wedding day. I’ve got to be there.” She rubbed her eyes, sniffing gently at her palms. The floor wasn’t very clean. There goes her white dress. “It won’t be the same without me, don’t you think?” She finally turned her head to see her companion and her jaw snapped open. “Sayuri?”

“Hey, girl.” The woman beside her smiled crookedly.

Taking in her appearance, Kaori grimaced. Sayuri didn’t look to be in a good shape. She was too thin, her eyes were blank, and the state of her clothes wasn’t even worth mentioning. “What happened to you?”

Sayuri toyed with her shaggy locks. “Well, I’ve been here quite a while, Kaori. Congrats on the wedding, by the way.”

“You were supposed to be my maid of honor, but I couldn’t reach you.”

“Probably because I’ve been here for more than a month.”

Kaori frowned, cursing between her teeth. “Who’s the son of a bitch who did this?”

“That would be me,” a soft voice spoke from a dim corner. The shape strengthened and walked to them. As it stepped into the light, Kaori could see it was a tall young man, very close to her age. Dark brown hair brushed his collar, blank dark blue eyes adorned his pale visage. “Don’t look at me like that, Kaori,” he chided, smirking. “They say vengeance is better savored cold.”

Sayuri shifted closer to Kaori, knowing full well the wrath this young man was capable of. She’d experienced it on her own skin.

“Vengeance?” Kaori looked at him, her eyebrow climbing. “What the hell are you talking about? Who are you?”

“Oh, where are my manners.” The man bowed mockingly. “My name is Yurinoki Ichiro son of Yurinoki Hajime.”

Kaori let the names sink in. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”

His eyes flashed with hatred. “No, I guess not.” He smoothed his perfectly tailored suit. “My father has been dead for quite a long time.”

“I’m sorry,” Kaori whispered.

He slapped her, splitting her lip. “Shut up! Don’t speak of sorry in front of me, you bitch!”

Kaori tenderly touched her lip, wincing at the sting. “You’re one seriously disturbed bastard, you know that, Ichiro?”

He slapped again, his dark eyes flashing with fury. “Don’t use my name, whore! I’m Yurinoki-sama to you! To both of you!”

Kaori grabbed two fistfuls of her skirt, jumping to her feet. “Listen, buster!” She poked at his chest. “Don’t you ever hit me again, you hear! And don’t even expect me to address you with respect! You’re not worth for me to step on you!”

She yelped as he grabbed her by the hair, pushing her down onto her knees. “You will address me with respect, bitch, just like your sister, here, does!”

Kaori gasped. How did he know Sayuri was her sister? “Look, you’re not the only one holding a grudge towards Ryo—”

His demonic laughter stopped her from speaking any further. The guy was insane. “You think this has to do with your lover? Please, I don’t care about Saeba, this is all about you two!”

“You should care about him, Yurinoki-sama,” Sayuri whispered shakily. “Because when he finds out you were the one to have Kaori kidnapped, he’s going to stop at nothing to make you pay.”

“I’m not afraid of him.” Ichiro tightened his grip on Kaori’s hair. “Even if he finds out, it’s going to be too late. You’ll both be dead.” He suddenly shoved Kaori away, and her head collided with the metal wall.

“You’re out of your fucking mind,” Kaori spat.

“Call me whatever you like, bitch, you both still die tonight.” He turned on his heel, elegantly left the room, and locked the door behind him.

X
Y
Z

“Anything?”Umibozu asked in the hospital’s hallway.

Ryo shook his head. “I’m still waiting for the info. How is she?”

“Pretty bad. She’s still not responding.”

Ryo knew exactly how his friend felt. Helpless. He’s been feeling the same ever since noon and the news of Kaori’s disappearance. Where are you, baby? If something happened to her, he was going to slaughter the bastards who dared touch her.

“Ijuin-san!” A nurse rushed out of Miki’s room. “Ijuin-san, she’s awake. She’s asking for you.”

Ryo slapped Umibozu on the back. “What are you waiting for? She’s awake, man. Go see her.”

As Umibozu slipped through the door, Ryo sighed. Lucky bastard!

“Ryo.”

He turned. “Mick. Please, tell me you got news.”

The American nodded, worried. “Not good though.”

Ryo’s heart skipped a beat. “What do you mean?”

“The entire scenario has nothing to do with you,” Doc answered instead. “This is vengeance of a different kind.”

“Ryo,” Umibozu called softly. “Before she passed out, Miki heard the name Yurinoki and they mentioned a ship.”

Ryo’s head snapped around. “Mick, call Saeko.”

“I’m on it, Ryo,” Saeko interrupted, having emerged from around the corner. “And I’ll contact the Coast Guard as well.”

Ryo smiled. She was always there when he needed a friend. “Thanks, Saeko, I owe you one.”

“You bet your ass, you do,” she replied with a smile, already dialing.

Ryo turned back to Doc. “Professor, tell me everything.”

X
Y
Z

Kaori rubbed her aching head. “Sayuri, do you have any idea what that guy’s problem is?”

“I overheard a conversation a few days ago.” Sayuri walked to her sister, kneeling beside her. “Will you be all right?”

“Yeah.” Kaori grinned. “My head’s pretty sturdy. Don’t fret. What conversation?”

Sayuri shrugged. “Something about children paying for the sins of their fathers.”

Kaori nodded. “I guessed as much.”

“What do you mean?”

“I know who Yurinoki Hajime was.”

Sayuri pressed her fingers against the bump on Kaori’s head. “What? Why did you pretend otherwise?”

“I didn’t want him to realize I know what he’s about.” Kaori grimaced, seeing rusty stains on her skirt. Just perfect! “Yurinoki was a member of a more peaceful faction of the Yakuza. He was killed as he tried to prevent a takeover by another Yakuza family.”

“Killed? By whom?” Sayuri was afraid she already knew the answer.

“Our father.” Kaori smiled sadly. “Don’t look at me like that. I’m not stupid. I know Makimura wasn’t my real father or Hideyuki my brother. I’ve known it for quite some time. Even before my brother died.” She gazed pensively at the flickering candle. “Our real father was Takeda Mitsukage. A murderer. A professional killer. He was the one to kill Yurinoki, and Ichiro, as the son of one of his victims, is taking his revenge on us.”

“But why tonight? Why didn’t he act before.”

“He couldn’t kidnap me before, because Ryo was always there. Our wedding gave him the perfect opportunity to act.” Kaori tucked a stray lock behind her ear. “Besides, tonight’s the anniversary of his father’s death.”

“Oh, God,” Sayuri whimpered.

Kaori put her arm around her shoulders. “I promise you we’re going to make it, sis.”

Sayuri sniffed. “Sis?”

“That’s what you are. My sister.” Kaori winked. “I’m going to get us out of here. Soon, I hope.”

“Shouldn’t you wait for Saeba?”

Kaori shook her head. “There’s no time to wait for him.”

“Why not? Don’t you think he’s going to look for you?”

“Oh, he will.” I know you will, Ryo. “But he’ll never make it in time. We’re on a ship. And moving fast.”


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