The family shared their breakfast in silence. Usually mealtime was a joyous occasion with laughter and excitement for a new day activity ahead. Bashir noticed Kaci shrank away from him in the car as he was dropping her off at her school and his heart melted. Perhaps he should have been more restrained in dealing with Angela the evening before. He didn’t want any of his children to fear him he only wanted to work in their best interests. Kaci was young, she’d eventually understand this, but he hated the silence at breakfast this morning.
“I hope you didn’t forget your cell phone this morning Kaci. We like you to keep in touch during the day to confirm you are alright.” Kaci took the phone out of her bag and showed him without speaking.
As soon as Kaci was dropped off at school she went to her favourite spot on campus under a tree and messaged her brother Amir filling him in on all the details. She was almost late for class after completing her report.
When the house was clear, and she observed Bert and the children had departed from Sheffield’s home for their day activities Baraa took Angela and hastened over there. Both Barra and Angela wept as they clung to Tess. Baraa continued to apologize and finally a shocked Tess managed to calm them.
“What’s going on Baraa, and why didn’t you come over for Lucas to take you to University Angela. Are you sick? Should I call a doctor?”
“Didn’t Lucas say anything about his visit last night?” Baraa and Angela looked surprised.
Lucas has been unusually quiet, and I did wonder why he didn’t take Angela to the University. What’s going on?”
The story came out in a rush, Angela interrupting her mother whenever some detail was missed out. When they were finished Tess sat thinking. Then she got up from her chair and came over to Angela.
“Angie, Bert and I would just love to have you as a daughter-in-law. We need to respect your parents though and we will not interfere. This is something you and Lucas must work out with your Father, and we cannot be seen disrespecting him. All we can say is you would be a dearly loved addition to our family if your family would agree to that. Whichever way it works out we will continue to look on the Khoury family as close friends and hope you continue to reciprocate that. That’s all we can do! Now why don’t you continue to visit, and I’ll prepare some drinks and snacks to relax you. No more crying now, be positive this can be worked out.”
The mood continued to be sombre when Bashir returned home that evening. He’d been surprised Lucas was in class and acting respectfully despite Bashir picking on his work. He’d also been surprised when Bert phoned to tell him about one of their new research projects he thought Bashir may be interested in. So out of curiosity he dropped by Bert’s company and was shown the prototype Bert was so enthusiastic about. Bashir had expected some form of interference in his affairs and when nothing was raised he concluded Lucas had not shared yesterday’s events with his parents. Strange!
He’d decided he’d been too extreme taking his daughter out of classes. Tonight, he’d talk with her. She could go back to classes and he’d buy her a car so she could be independent but on strict condition she make no attempt to see Lucas. In his heart he knew if he told Lucas not to talk with his daughter he’d do that. The boy was trustworthy, and the family was upright. But he was not so sure about his daughter.
So, after supper he sent Kaci to her room and sat around the table with Baraa and Angela. He went through the reasons he didn’t want his daughter and the Sheffield boy to see each other again. Then he announced that if she agreed to follow his instruction she would have her own car and be permitted to continue classes.
The lecture was interrupted by an urgent clanging of the door chimes. Bashir was irritated and asked Baraa to see who was being so impatient. She opened the door and cried out joyfully, “Amir’s here!” She hugged and kissed him and then turned in surprise. Entering behind him were two of his cousins.
Amir wasted no time with the niceties of a return greeting. He was angry. “We’ve come to take Angela back East with us as it’s not safe for her here. How did you let this happen Dad? Angela, pack a suitcase, you’re coming with us, we’ll protect you!”
Angela ran and locked herself in her room.
Bashir was furious. “I’ll decide what I do with my daughter Amir, and for that matter with the son I’m paying the way through Medical School.”
Bashir took a close look at the two men with Amir.
“Your parents have been pursuing me to agree a marriage with you.” He pointed at the older cousin. “It is inappropriate for you to force your way into my house and make these demands, now get out!”
The one pointed out laughed. We are here with the permission of Angela’s grandparents, so we have a right to be here on their behalf. We are taking Angela with us for her safety so are asking you nicely to agree. He moved menacingly toward Bashir.
Amir had not been prepared for this. “Cousin don’t touch my Father we came here to help him out not to fight with him.” Amir moved quickly to his father’s side to protect him. I think we better leave.”
“Of course, we’ll leave that was the plan if you remember, now get Angela and we’ll be on our way!”
Amir was confused and turned to his Father. “Don’t you think it’s a good idea to get Angela away from this mess Dad?”
“No!” Roared Bashir.
The cousins looked at each other. Angela was the prize their family was determined to get. They moved in and shoved Amir aside. “Get Angela out of the room and we’ll be on our way. Your wimp son can stay.”
Bashir turned to his wife who was shaking with fear at the confrontation. “Phone the police Baraa and tell them it’s an attempted kidnapping!” She nodded and headed for the phone but one of the cousins pushed her aside and yanked phone out of its socket.
Kaci had been listening through the door of her room and realized she needed to do something quickly. She phoned the Sheffield’s and told them to come quickly and save them. People were trying to kidnap Angela and threatening her Father.
Within minutes Bert and Lucas had rushed in and were on guard. Amir had moved in front of his father to protect him and Lucas joined him. They smiled at each other. Meanwhile Tess had phoned the police and within five minutes there was a siren as a police car sped down the street and screamed into the driveway.
One of the cousins rushed at the door he’d seen Angela flee too and broke it down. But Angela was not there. He looked at the open window and shook his head. Looks like she’d escaped. He rushed out and pulled his brother away.
“We need to move out we’re in trouble I heard a police siren and they’ll find we have a record back East. If we escape through Angela’s open window we may find her on the way and run to our car down the street before the police move in. The police arrived as the brothers jumped out the window, had a quick look around the back then fled through Sheffield’s property then up the street to their car.
Kaci watched them go through a crack in her drapes with lights out. She turned on her lights and poked her sister in the closet. “You can come out now, good thinking climbing over the balcony and tapping on my window.”
Half an hour later the fugitives were intercepted as they were heading for the freeway out of town and bought back to police headquarters for questioning. Amir had provided the car registration number to police who’d put out and all points alert. The cousins tried to implicate Amir in the plot to kidnap but when the situation had been thoroughly investigated it was clear he’d been manipulated by his cousins who’d heard the story passed along by Kaci in her text messages. It also became clear that the Grandparents had never been approached for permission to make that journey. Amir had been hoodwinked they’d been consulted and wrongly told his father needed their help. Relatives had been horrified when confronted by the police.
Bert and Tess comforted the Khoury’s after the police had left. Bashir pointed to his girls. You two sleep together this evening and I’ll get Angela’s door fixed tomorrow. Now please go to your rooms. Amir you stay here I want to talk with the Sheffield’s.”
He turned to Bert and Tess, “Can you stay and talk for a while, I know its late?” Bert nodded.
Then Bashir turned to Lucas. “Young man I think you have something to talk over with your parents as they obviously don’t know what’s happened yesterday.”
Bert spoke. “Lucas didn’t tell us. but we found out anyhow so there’s no need of an explanation. We respect your culture and will continue to be your friends. Perhaps it’s better Lucas goes now.”
Bashir sighed. “Lucas this is highly unconventional in our culture, but do you have anything to say to me and your parents.”
“I’m sorry you think I broke your trust in me Sir. It was not like that. I’ll respect your directions.”
Bashir sighed again this was hard work. “Not that at all son, I do trust you. What else was it you wanted to say to me?”
“Sir I would like you to give me a chance to prove I could be a good husband to Angela. Both of us should finish our university education first, but with your permission I could learn to fit in with your culture.”
Bashir turned to his son Amir. “Amir you’re my eldest son so are part of this decision. How do you think I should answer this unusual proposal?”
Amir shrugged. “You decide Dad, I know you want the best for your kids. I know Lucas keeps his word and loves our family. I would accept him if you do.”
“OK Lucas you have my permission to escort Angela not as her big brother in the absence of Amir but as a potential to be considered as a suitor. You are free to move around together with that understanding but there will be no late nights out together. I want both of you to finish your respective courses at the University and then we’ll sit down and talk about the future when that’s out of the way. I know I can trust you with that.”
Angela and Kaci who’d been listening from behind their closed door burst out and the women all cried together out of joy. The men shook hands happily.
Bashir noted to share with his relatives back East that Angela’s marriage plans were now settled and there’d be no need for further proposals. To his surprise most of them sent their congratulations looking forward to meeting the lucky man and the feast that would accompany any community wedding.
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