Chapter 8~ Persistent
Max stood as Mei entered the kitchen. He was intoxicated with her. When he had called last night to make sure she got home safely, he realized she was going to try and make things difficult. He didn't care; he was not going to let her go. Max picked up a large vase filled with beautiful flowers. He handed it to Mei and gently kissed her cheek.
“These are for you,” he gently whispered.
Mei smiled as she whispered, “thank you,” in Chinese.
The warmth of his spirit could be felt throughout the room. It was soothing; his entire presence was delightfully overwhelming.
Song beamed with excitement. She hadn’t seen her daughter smile in such a long time. She could tell her daughter had feelings for Max. Song hoped that he felt the same way for her daughter too. She didn't want to see her daughter get her heart broken. She also didn't want her to miss out on being a teenager.
“I’m sorry for not calling first,” Max said, gently holding her hand. He smirked, thinking back to when he tried to call the number, only to get the voice mailbox of a local animal shelter. He led her to the kitchen table. “I would like to ask you on a date,” Max explained.
Song was glowing with happiness. She admired how handsome and polite he was. She hated seeing her daughter so withdrawn. Max seemed to be able to force Mei out of her shell; this immensely impressed Song.
“I don’t know about that,” her stepfather coldly interrupted while entering the kitchen to wash an apple. “She has chores,” he growled.
Thomas was disgusted by Max's presence; he felt threatened. Another man in his territory just drove Thomas mad. A bold young man such as Max made it difficult for Thomas to conceal the rage he was feeling. Max's presence seemed to come with the spirit of change, and Thomas would not welcome it. Something about his energy made Thomas feel fearful as a child who had been caught with his hand in a cookie jar.
“Her chores are finished,” Song lied. She wanted her daughter to enjoy every moment of this new experience. “Go, love birds, enjoy your day.” Song stood from the table, ushering them to leave at once.
“I don’t know,” Mei slowly expressed. She didn’t need Max to see her new wounds or bruises. The Florida sun would be sure to reveal what she carefully hid under tons of makeup. She didn’t want to be around anyone. Most importantly, she didn't want to fall in love, and he was already giving her a challenge.
“It’s okay Mei…You’re only young once,” her mother sighed.
“Please don’t make me beg,” Max pleaded. "I have no shame."
Mei smiled as she nodded her head. There goes that head again working against me, she thought.
“I will take those flowers,” Song said, snatching them from her daughter’s hands.
Max softly tugged her as they started towards the front door. “Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Paulard. I’ll have Mei back at a decent hour,” Max yelled back.
He lead her to his vehicle, his heart bursting with excitement that she was allowing him to treat her the way he had dreamed.
“Max!” Mei yelled, stopping in front of his vehicle. She needed to tell him to forget about her. She knew how guys thought, and that she would understand if he didn’t want to be with her, that she would not be angry with him.
Max stopped, turned, and then looked at her. “Mei, you told me something last night, and I will never forget ...I want to be a part of your life." He wanted to say much more but didn’t want to scare her away.
Mei already appeared to be searching for an emergency exit.
Am I ugly to her? he thought.
“I don’t remember last night,” Mei hastily lied, walking towards the passenger door. Max rushed past, opening the vehicle door for her. She paused and looked at him strangely before getting into the SUV. Only in movies had she observed such men, and they were rarely in their teens.
He smiled at her, observing her every move; he would have paid any amount of money to know her every thought. He closed the door after she was seated, and makes his way around to the driver’s side.
Max entered the driver's seat. Starting the engine, he glanced over at Mei. “You don’t remember… Uha? Hmm…I will have to remind you,” he said.
I would like to see you try. You are not getting back in these panties,” Mei thought.
“Put on your seat belt; I don’t want you slipping away,” Max teased as he backed out of the driveway.
“So where are we going?” Mei asked.
“First, brunch,” Max replied.
“Good I’m starved,” Mei responded.
"Are you all right? You seem tense," Max inquired, sensing something was bothering her.
"No, I'm fine," she lied but noted that he could sense her emotional battle.
Mei could feel his energy encircling her, doing what his physical body could not do at the moment. She had never experienced anyone who showed this much interest in her before.
"If you ever want to talk to me about anything, I’ll listen. Please don't ever be afraid to come to me." Max felt guilty for what had happened last night; however, he could not get past all the passion and desire he felt for Mei. She had him wrapped around her pinky, and she didn't even know it.
"Max, I'm good. Don't worry about me. I gave you that wrong number for a reason," she hinted.
He gazed at her momentarily. He was taken aback by her words. "Yeah, look. We should talk about what happened last night."
Mei cringed inside as she thought about last night, her stepfather slowly killing her joy. She turned her head towards the passenger side window as a tear rolled down her cheek. They came to a stop at a traffic light. Max gentle turned her chin, forcing her to look at him. She closes her eyes not wanting to meet his. Max could see a slight bruise on her cheek, causing his heart to leap in his chest.
"Mei, what happened?" he questioned, concerned by the bluish green bruise, emerging from beneath her make up.
She pulled away. “Nothing."
Cars behind them began to honk. The streetlight had changed to green. Max hesitated but then turned his attention to driving again. He eagerly found a place to stop and speak with her. He could not ignore what he just saw. He pulled off at a park that sat next to a lake.
"Is this where you’re taking me?" Mei observed, confused by the abrupt stop.
"No, I want to know what happened to your face. When you left, you didn't have that bruise on your cheek." Max was stern; his demeanor let her know she could not satisfy him with a lie.
"I don't want to talk about it," Mei pleaded.
"Did Cora slap you? You can tell me."
"Then, what happened?"
Mei looked at the passenger door quickly pulling the handle and unbuckling her seat belt in what seemed to be one swift move. Max suddenly jumped out of the vehicle and raced around to the passenger side door as Mei slammed the vehicle door closed and walked off. He was on her heels as he grabbed her by the waist, pulling her against his chest. Mei screamed and fought back, trying to get away, He wrapped his arms around Mei. His energy surrounded her like the protective wings of an angel. In his heart, he whispered a prayer and peace came over her.
"I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to know what happened," Max whispered in her ear.
She cried as her body became limp. Max held her close. "I just want to know what happened, but if you don't want to tell me, it's okay.”
Mei's tears affected him more than he understood. He would do anything not to see her cry.
Mei nodded her head as she turned to face him. "I just can't right now; this isn't a first date conversation. We already started off wrong; who knows where this will end up.”
"Mei, I'm not what you think. I’m... Okay! I admit; maybe I should have handled things better. I shouldn't have given in, but there you were in my arms. I dreamed about you since I was a boy coming to the youth center. I can't get you out of my mind, all through middle and high school you ignored me and then finally! I'm sorry, I gave into my weakness--you."