Here's chapter 2. Only roughly edited so expect mistakes. Also, I'm trying to keep this as short as I can for the benefit of forum readers. Hope you enjoy
Link to Chapter 1 : http://www.animeforum.com/showthread.php?t=69838
“Dear, you look a little upset. Are you feeling well?” Freya’s father asked in concern.
“I’m alright, father. I just feel a little tired from the flight, that’s all.” She flashed a wide grin and tried her best to look undisturbed.
“Well, it won’t be long till we’re relaxing at Mr. Sato’s home. It’s a really charming place and you’ll love it there.”
Freya was not convinced but she nodded her head in agreement all the same. They had been flying for over sixteen hours and then sat in a bullet train for the next two. Currently, they were being driven to the Sato home and much to Freya’s relief, in very comfortable black limousines.
“You know, your grandfather was born not far from this town,” Mr. Takahashi added.
“Really? What did he do before arriving at the U.S.?”
“He was just a paint salesman. Everyday, he’d carry buckets of paint on his shoulders to sell. In those days, that was how large paint manufacturers used to engage sales employees. They’d pay them commission for each bucket of paint they sold. But it wasn’t much, just a few cents per bucket.”
“That sounded rough. How did he make his way to the U.S. and build our family?”
“Your grandfather was horribly hard working. Unlike his peers who kept to the usual ways of carrying the paint and selling it door-to-door, he saved enough money to invest in a cart so that he could carry more, and the more he carried, the more he sold. Soon, he developed a neat number of regular customers and was able to build his own stall. Later, the paint company recognized your grandfather’s talent and employed him to work at their office. Then the war came and your grandfather was forced to leave the country. But being the survivor that he was, he looked for ways to earn a stable living. At that time, I had already been born, so the need to feed his family drove him to work even harder.”
Mr. Takahashi paused, reminiscing about the days when he could only imagine living the way he did now. He took a sip from his Evian bottle and then continued, “With the little bit of savings he had, he started selling different things, paints, garden tools, old clothes, almost anything he could buy and sell with a profit. I remember your aunt making paper cranes out of old newspaper for him, thinking that those would sell,” he chuckled.
“But eventually, his efforts paid off and he had enough to own his very first retail store. That’s how he started the Takahashi chain,” Mr. Takahashi finished and smiled proudly.
The inspiring story left Freya feeling guilty for the pleasures she had been receiving since birth. But it reminded her of how much she had to be thankful for. She could only begin to imagine the life that her father and grandfather had lived through and wondered that if the boredom she sometimes felt would’ve been better nurtured by going through harsher times. Instead, she spent those idle hours thinking of how much her school mates envied and gossiped about her, how a boy was cruel enough to ignore her crush and how she wanted to kill herself for living such a dull routine life.
Freya looked out the window and at the farmers that whizzed by. The lush surrounding green and the honest hard working farmers carried a peaceful calm about them; something that she had been seeking but could never obtain. Indeed the holiday was a welcomed change from her burnt-out aristocratic life and she smiled to herself at the thought of still being able to appreciate the simpler things.
“Well, if only pure hard work was still applicable nowadays.” Mr. Takahashi interrupted suddenly and jolted Freya from her contemplations.
“Since we’re about 30 minutes away from the Sato home perhaps now would be a good time to tell you this,” Freya watched as her father rubbed his hands together in a nervous, unconfident pose, a pose that she had only ever seen him do once and that was when her grandfather had passed on. She bit onto her lips as her worst fears started to reveal themselves.
“We’ll be meeting Mr. Sato’s eldest son, Kazuki, you remember him visiting about 4 years ago don’t you?” Mr. Takahashi said without looking at his daughter, afraid that he would see fear and betrayal in her eyes.
“Father, you didn’t… I mean, you just can’t marry me off and from what I remember he was an obnoxious… horrible… as…”
“Freya I’m sorry but our family business isn’t going to expand any further on American soil. We need this alliance for the benefit of our Takahashi line.” Mr. Takahashi said whilst looking stern, his confidence and resolute posture returned.
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this,” devastation poured throughout Freya’s defeated bodice and she cried. “You lied to bring me here and tell me this? I’m so stupid, so damn stupid. Here I was thinking that you were giving me a break from that superficial life and now you’re taking me to be locked up in yet another prison. How selfish can you be?”
“You watch your tongue young lady! One would think that you’d be a little more grateful for what you’ve been provided. The least you could do is answer to your responsibilities.” Mr. Takahashi belted out in fury only to have his flames doused by the hurt he saw in his daughter’s form.
The young red-head sobbed, huddled in one corner and trying her best to isolate herself from this beast, this man she no longer knew. It was funny how the limo’s interior had seemed large but now she felt as if she were in a small cage, trapped with a lion in it. Mr. Takahashi sighed and reached into his pocket for a handkerchief before easing himself closer to his daughter. “I’m sorry…”, he said in a gentle tone and slowly handed the blue silk to her. “I’m sorry that you have to fix a problem that I can’t fix.”
Freya relaxed a little more from hearing her father’s change in tone. She looked at him teary eyed, assessing the offer of his handkerchief before accepting it and concluding that there was no more harm to be done. Her worst fears had already been delivered to her and she knew that some day, that would be her fate – to live a life where she would never be allowed to make her own choices, to accept her role and duties as the eldest daughter of the Takahashi household.
Slowly, she wiped her eyes and then her cheeks whilst wondering about what her father had said. It wasn’t hard to notice the severity of their family’s financial state, with her mother cutting off all shopping weekends; the usual caviar, fine French wines and parties being reduced to a bare minimal. Perhaps, this was the only way to really save her family.
“So….so, if I marry Mr. Sato’s son, we’d be able to revive the business?” she spoke nervously.
“Yes, and prevent the stores from closing down. The Sato family has very deep pockets and they’ll be more than happy to fund our retail business in Japan. But as proof of our family alliance and to affirm it, a marriage is necessary.”
“And what of Mr. Sato’s son? Is he agreeable?”
“He is agreeable to the alliance and is aware of the purpose this marriage brings with it. He’s also vowed that you will never be wanting, you will only have.” Freya’s father smiled but the warmth in it did little to calm her squirming insides. It was then that she noticed the wrinkles on his face. She wondered why she had failed to see the worry and desperation that had carved its mark with dryness and hundreds of lines on his skin and though the act was cruel, perhaps it really was the only way left.
“Father, pass me my handbag.” She instructed and righted herself before smoothing out a few creases that had appeared on her skirt.
“What?” Mr. Takahashi said in disbelief and confused at his daughter’s sudden change in demeanor.
“Well, my make-up is ruined and I don’t think Kazuki would be too pleased with seeing his future wife look like a ghost.”
“Oh, right.” Mr. Takahashi handed the Gucci tote to his daughter.
Freya powdered her nose, added some more blush to her cheeks and reapplied her lipstick. Then she checked her face in the mirror, examining it carefully and making sure all traces of her earlier outburst had been hidden. Then, she had one final look at her face, closed her eyes in acceptance and snapped the mirror shut.