We didn't wake up until the next day. Her family had allowed the two of us to sleep without interrupting. I was expecting either the father or the two brothers to be against the idea of me sleeping next to Chri the whole night.
“Good morning,” I greeted as I walked into the kitchen with my girlfriend. I was careful with what I wore today. I had on three-quarter gray slacks, a white sleeveless T-shirt and pumps. Chri wore another summer dress with blue flowery prints on it.
The whole family were up and around the table in the kitchen eating breakfast while her mother was behind the stove still cooking more. I looked down on the table and a small gasp escaped from my mouth. On the table lay a stack of toasted bread with margarine beside it and other spreads, croissants, macaroni and cheese omelette and lastly pancakes that her mother was still making more with the syrup next to it.
Where is the miso soup? The rice? Where is the traditional Japanese food I normally eat?
But who was I kidding? This was Gozo, Malta. They ate different food.
“Wow, mama, it’s like you made a feast,” Chri exclaimed giddily, sitting herself down on the chair opposite Jake and next to her father while I sat opposite Joshua and next to her. “Mama, you shouldn’t have!”
Feast? I glanced at the food. Was this meant to be a feast? I suddenly felt homesick; my appetite left me abruptly leaving me with a sickly feeling.
While she dug into the food, I was nibbling on a piece of pancake. Joshua saw me nibbling and gasped.
“Dude, you should eat more!” he half shouted and half cried out. “Like, you haven’t eaten from yesterday!”
He shoved some omelette on my plate. Jake also was concerned with my lack of appetite and placed slices of toast on my plate. I looked down on my plate that was filled with food and then up at the grinning faces of the two brothers.
“Eat,” they ordered.
I covered my mouth and made gagging noises alarming everyone in the kitchen. Chri quickly placed a hand on my back and caressed it. “Are you okay, honey?”
“Too much food,” I managed to say through the gagging.
“Man, the dude’s like a girl!” Jake laughed. He held out his hand and high-fived his younger brother who was only younger by a year.
I got the feeling that her family had no idea that I could understand them because they kept going back to speaking in their own language whenever they wanted to say something without me knowing. I grunted as I felt the little breakfast I ate was coming back up.
“Dude really must be a girl,” the younger brother responded also laughing. “Oh, maybe Christine got her pregnant.”
I nearly fell off the chair at his last comment while Chri, who was fuming now, threw her fork towards her brother missing his cheek by an inch.
“Stupid brother!” she shrieked. “Are you saying I’m a guy?”
Sweat dropped at the back of both brothers’ heads. Her father told her off for how dangerous it was while her mother told the guys off for picking on both me and their sister. The nausea began to disappear slowly as the thought of food was no longer in my head.
“Anyways,” the older brother changed the subject after being reprimand by his mother the most as he was the oldest. “What kind of sports are you into?”
“I like to play basketball and I love swimming,” I replied without realising how sports fanatic the guys were or how competitive they were. It was too late to regret.
“Swimming?” Joshua’s excitement was growing and I could see it. “We have a swimming pool at the back! How about it bro?” he turned to his brother with a knowing look which only made me jeer in panic.
“We should do that , shouldn’t we?” Jake said, emphasising ‘that’.
That? I wondered. Whatever that was, it wasn't good. I yelped when the two brothers were by my side within seconds and anchoring their arm under my armpit. They hoisted me up from my chair causing the chair to fall down with a thud.
“Hey!” Chri shouted disapprovingly stopping them from taking me away.
Oh, my girlfriend! I have forgotten she was with me and on my side. I grinned at her wanting to kiss her but thought it would be inappropriate in front of her family.
“You can’t make him do that...” she told them off. “At least make him change into his trunks.”
My jaws dropped six feet under. I just stared at her while the brothers agreed and dragged me away.
I was betrayed by my own girlfriend.
That, I found out later was climbing onto the roof of the game room and then jumping into the pool. It wouldn't have been scary if not for the fact that I would have to do make sure I jump over the four metres concrete below to land in the pool. I was only clad with my black trunks. The brothers were also wearing trunks.
I peered down and saw that Chri had come out to watch. She sat on the bench next to the patio door that led to the dining room. I could see a shadow inside and guessed it was their father also wanting to watch but was too stubborn to come out. I smirked but soon dropped it when the brothers got my attention again.
“Okay, now dude,” the younger brother said. “I’ll demonstrate that it’s not that hard.”
Using the wide space, he backed away far. Then he started off jogging, it turned to sprints and once he got to the edge of the roof he jumped. In mid air he balled up his body and spun until he was two meters away and then landed on the water with a huge splash of water spraying everywhere.
I gulped when Jake motioned me to go next as he didn't trust me to do it after him. I glanced at my girlfriend who had betrayed me earlier and saw the worry in her eyes. I understood that although it was dangerous, she believed I could do it which may have been the reason she had not stopped her brother.
If she had confidence in me, I thought with a grin appearing in the corner of my mouth and startling the brother, maybe I should show her what I was capable of.
I went to the other side of the roof and took a deep breath before releasing it slowly. I raised my hands above my head and then started off doing acrobatic flips shocking the older brother. By the time I got to the edge of the other side I turned and then finished off with a back flip. I safely fell in the pool just as Joshua was getting out.
“That was awesome!” he screamed.
“My turn!” the older brother yelled from above. I moved away to give him enough space.
We spent the morning outside. I was forced to do more jumping and then have a race with them swimming. I managed to have gotten the brothers’ favour. Chri had joined us at the pool after watching and tried to get me away from her brothers who only wanted to compete with me with other things.
After showering, we all went back to the kitchen for lunch. Once again the food was different than my usual. Pasta was not my favourite food but at the moment I didn't care as yesterday’s lack of food as well as this morning got me starving, I could eat anything.
I noticed an extra person with us today, an older woman who looked similar to Chri’s father though she was much younger than him. She caught me staring at her as I sat down around the table. I gasped when she winked.
“Dude, that’s our uuu...” Jake paused as he received a glare from the woman. “Aunt,” he finished off grimly.
I frowned at his behaviour but when Chri’s father motioned them all to sit down to eat, I let the thought slide. Throughout lunch, I ate uncomfortably as I felt the woman’s eyes on me. I was glad when lunch was over because the brothers took me to play some games in the game room. But I wasn't happy long because the woman followed Chri here.
“Wah, Christine, I can’t believe you landed such a handsome guy,” the woman spoke in Maltese. Her voice was a little too high-pitched to my liking.
“What you on about?” Jake asked, speaking in his native language. “How are girly-guys handsome?”
“Yeah,” the other brother agreed. “Guys, who have muscles like us, are called handsome.”
Chri and their aunt snorted. The aunt then looked at me, seizing me up like I was a meat on display. “He’s so my type.”
“Aunt Laura!” she cried out. “Don't look at my boyfriend like that!”
I was beginning to find it annoying that they all thought I didn't understand. Just when I was about to confess that I understood their language, I was alarmed when the aunt stalked up to me. I nearly screamed when she placed her hands on my chest letting it slide down to my stomach.
“I love Asian men,” she purred.
Jake and Joshua quickly came in between us, pushing me behind them and protecting me with their body. I was a little taken aback by their actions. Chri was also beside them and they were glaring at their aunt.
“Un-aunt Laura,” Jake spoke, still not speaking English. “We wouldn't have cared if you flirted with some next guy but we like him. He’s got some spunk for an Asian, girly-dude,” I rolled my eyes at his description of me, “and he took us on our challenge when other guys would never try to compete with us.”
Wait I never knew that! I could have refused any time! I grumbled at the thought.
“It’s not like I’m going to eat him alive,” the aunt said, laughing.
Joshua shook his head. “We can’t let him fall victim to your flirting.”
I wanted to say that I would never fall for her in the first place but I liked the fact they were trying to protect me. I was glad that I was on their good side. But I was starting to wonder just what they were protecting me from. Was their aunt really scary?
“Christine is our sister,” the younger brother went on stopping my thoughts. “Although we tease her, fight with her and make her angry, she’s still our baby sister at the end of the day that we want her to always be happy. If she’s going to be happy with Tomohisa, then we will protect him from you.”
“Wow,” Aunt Laura let out a slow breath of air. “Well, since you say it like that I really can’t pick on him.”
Chri looked at her brothers, tears pricking at the corner of her eyes. “You guys are the best!” she cried out and jumped on them for a hug.
Later I found out why they were protecting me. Aunt Laura was actually Uncle Laurence. I think I was starting to love the brothers who protected me from the cross-dresser. But I was a little surprised by knowing that Laurence was their father’s little brother. The grumpy father who has yet to smile or say good things about anything, had a brother who crossed-dresses.
At dinner time we ate at the dining room. There were meat, fish and other seafood with a lot of pasta but still no rice. As I ate gloomily, I felt a pair of eyes. At first I was alarmed thinking it was “Aunt Laura” who I thought didn't give up on me, but I was surprised to meet Chri’s father’s eyes. He quickly looked away after being caught and he never glanced at me ever since.
Her mother was trying to overfill my plate with food, fussing over that I should eat as I was too “skinny” as she pointed out.
When dessert time came, her father finally spoke startling everyone around the table as he had not spoken until now.
“Christine, are you not going to go over and see Joseph?” he asked.
Joseph! I have forgotten to demand who he was the times I was alone with her. I listened on as once again they weren't talking in English.
“Why should I see that weirdo for?” she said with a frown.
“You’ve known him ever since you were toddlers and he’s been over many times asking if you called or when you’re coming back. You know, he has been waiting for you to return.”
“Why would he wait for me?” she questioned in confusion. “And just because we knew each other from childhood doesn't mean I was close to him.”
The older brother chuckled. “I remember he always followed you around. He treated you like a princess.”
“I remember that too,” the younger brother laughed. “He did whatever she asked him to do. One time, she told him to wait for her at the beach and he was waiting there while she had forgotten all about him.”
“Everyone was panicking when they found him missing and began searching for him,” Jake followed after. “Christine got in a lot of trouble when we found him.”
“Well, he was stupid to wait like that,” she defended herself haughtily.
“He’s a perfect gentleman,” her father spoke again. “And he’s Maltese as well.”
I knew where he was going with his conversation. He had a problem with me being Japanese. He wanted his daughter to date a Maltese guy.
Chri let out a snort. “Perfect gentleman! Yeah right! He forced a kiss on me before I left for Japan.”
I also knew what everyone was thinking when the room had fallen silence. This Joseph character had forced a kiss on her hoping for her to remember him. He had no idea that he only had made her dislike him more. I wondered if she was dense. Joseph liked her while she found his behaviour weird. I was actually glad she had no interest in him as I did not want competition with a Maltese guy who her father will approve of.
From the family the mother approved of me from the beginning, the brothers accepted me into the family when I was able to compete with them, the “aunt”... well, she didn't exactly count. It only left the father who still did not approve me dating his daughter.