Jessica, Ceci, and Carlos.
“Mommy, the search for that ship was called off,” said Little Ceci. “I’m sorry that so many sailors are missing, but I’m glad they aren’t going to kill any more squids.”
“The sea is an unforgiving place,” said Jessie.
“I wonder if the squids were somehow involved,” said Ceci. “After all, that ship killed three squids. Maybe they were getting even.”
“That would really mean that the squids are intelligent, have emotions and memories, and can plan an attack,” replied Jessie.
“And why not?”
“As I said before, there’s no proof for any of that.”
“Carlos doesn’t think that’s such a crazy idea.”
“And Carlos has no proof either except for the attack of the squid that he recorded with Dr. Octavian, when he tried to lure them in with lights,” Jessie paused, and then continued, “And speaking of Carlos, you and I need to talk about him sometime soon.”
“You mean about that you like each other?” asked Ceci.
“You noticed, eh.”
“Well yeah. You like each other a lot.” This time it was Little Ceci’s turn to pause before continuing more softly, “Do you love each other?”
“Yes, Cecilia. We do. How do you feel about that?”
“Do you plan to get married? Because if you do, I think that would be great. I like Carlos too, and he would be here almost all the time instead of just most of the time.”
“We were both worried about how you might feel. There was nothing to worry about at all. Thank you, Cecilia.” Jessie gave her precocious daughter a long, tight hug. She whispered into Ceci’s ear, “Even though I love Carlos now it doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten your Daddy Greg or that I don’t love him any more. I will always remember him and love him, and I hope that you always will too.”
“I’m glad that you said that, Mommy,” said Little Ceci. “I will.”
“Jessie, I’m so happy for you,” said Big Ceci on the Visiphone. “I miss our get-togethers when I used to stopover on my trips from school. I wish I could congratulate you in person.”
“I’ll still be coming to visit with Little Ceci as we do now,” said Jessie. “Just that maybe Carlos will also be coming when he can get away from the Institute. I mean if that’s okay with your parents.”
“Do you want me to tell them?”
“No, I should tell them myself. I just wanted you be the first to know after my Mom.”
“Hey, I’ve got a great idea,” exclaimed Cecilia. “How about coming to Hong Kong for the ceremony? I’ll arrange for your mom, Carlos’ family, his boss, your friends, to come over. We’ll charter a flight. Set everyone up in one of our hotels. It’ll be fun!”
“That’s way, way too generous of you, Ceci,” said Jessie.
“Not at all. Think it over, Jessie. I’m quite serious.”
“Won’t you have to run it by your father and mother first?”
“Not for things like this. And anyway, Daddy’s’s turning more and more of the daily operations over to me. And don’t worry about the expenses; the company did really well last year.”
The wedding of Jessica and Carlos took place in Hong Kong with Little Ceci acting as her mother’s maid of honor before a small gathering of 250 guests.
But if was your wedding to Jessica, Greg, Lily Chao thought sadly, sitting alone in a quiet side room before the reception, we would have had a party of more than a thousand. But perhaps you and Jessica might have eloped since we didn’t approve of her then. Oh Greg, if we’d given our approval, perhaps you wouldn’t have gone sailing that day. Perhaps you would have brought her here to meet us instead. She sat with the past for a while longer. At last she thought, I’m grateful that you and Jessica gave us our granddaughter. You would be so proud of her Greg. Bolstered by the thought of Little Ceci, she dried her eyes, composed herself, and went out bravely to meet the guests, During the reception she proudly pointed out Little Ceci to her friends as Greg’s daughter, “You can see Greg in her, can’t you? And she speaks excellent Mandarin that she learned just by talking with me on visits and over the phone.”
When the wedding festivities were over and the newly-weds and visitors had departed Hong Kong, Lily and T.F. could relax at last.
“I’m glad that we’ll be getting back to the routine after all the excitement and planning. It was fun but exhausting,” said T.F., as they were preparing for bed. “Big Ceci arranged everything so well. But you seemed quiet at times Lily, in the midst of all the celebration.”
“I couldn’t help but think of how it could have been Greg’s wedding,” replied Lily. “Did we do wrong in rejecting Jessica out of hand when he told us he wanted to marry her?”
“What’s done is done. We mustn’t second guess ourselves. Jessica deserves a chance for happiness. Carlos seems like a good man even though we only met him before the wedding. And now Little Ceci will have a father-figure at home.”
“Little Ceci seems to already have a good relationship with Carlos. That’s important. And did you see and hear Little Ceci talking with our guests?” said Lily. “Mostly in Mandarin and pretty fluently!”
“She is amazing. It’s hard to believe that she’s only eight.”
“I spoke with Jessica before they left about her schooling. She’s been in that school for gifted children, but even there, she’s outpacing the curriculum,” said Lily. “The faculty has had to devise extra programs to keep her engaged.”
“And it’s not only her mental development,” noted T.F. “Physically too. Carlos said that at her swim club, she has been placed with the next older age group.”
“She takes after Greg. He was an excellent swimmer,” said Lily. “Since she is an only child, it’s important that she is involved with team sports for her social development. Intellectually, she has no peers.”