IN LOVE WITH A SOLDIER
(Meeting with Auntie Jean (2)
"Yes, the token," the boy replied dryly. "I've heard that its owner can rule two gangs and possess a lot of money. The person who sent that email to my father said so, and I think some other people know too."
Joe was deep in thought and was astonished. He thought to himself, 'I've never heard this thing. If it is true, will my Daddy be in danger?'
Joe asked, "Mike, are you sure?" Joe gazed steadily into the distance.
Mike started nervously flicking the pocket on his school clothes as he watched Joe. "I'm sure," he replied.
"There must be a token. But..." His words ended abruptly.
Joe looked back at his friend and asked, "But what?"
"I...I think a lot of people may be planning to take the token." Mike hesitated before speaking again. "So...your Daddy might be..."
He didn't get a chance to continue his thought, for Joe immediately interrupted him. "My Daddy will be fine. No one can hurt my Daddy."
"Well, you might be right," Mike conceded. "My Dad told me that no one would dare challenge your Daddy." He was reluctant to continue, but Joe needed to know. "But people who want that token will usually do anything to get it."
A new thought suddenly occurred to Joe. "Does the token have any meaning?" Mike pondered before responding. "I don't know. But the guy who sent the email to my father said the token was a symbol of power and wealth."
Thinking fast, Joe spoke just as quickly, "Mommy and Daddy must already know this. But they haven't told me. If I'm right, Uncle Derek knows too. But does Mond know?"
Mike thought of something and quickly shouted, "There might be one thing related to the token, Joe."
Joe turned his attention back to Mike, asking, "What is it?"
"It's about your butler's death," the other boy explained. "Your Daddy buried this, but some people still know your butler died in a car accident." Mike thought back to the news he would watch every day to see what was going on in the business world.
Silence befell the pair of boys on the stone bench. Mike had guessed at what Joe had been thinking. He'd seen quite a few odd things happen in his home around his Great-Grandpa's death.
Mike watched Joe's face and he could tell the other boy was deep in thought. Mike had always thought Joe was much smarter than him, and he admired Joe for this. They were both just kids, and although Mike had opportunities to try to learn and understand more things, he just wasn't a match for Joe's intelligence. It was always enjoyable to discuss and solve problems with Joe, so he often wanted to be friends with the Chu boy.
Interrupting Mike's train of thought, Joe inhaled quickly and looked at Mike, blurting, "You haven't told anyone else, have you?"
Mike shook his head quickly. "No, I only came to tell you this morning."
"Don't tell the others, including Anna," Joe urged the other boy. "This is only between you and me." It was hard enough dealing with these things as it was, he definitely didn't want his schoolmates to hear about it.
Mike agreed quickly. "What should we do next, Joe?" he asked, looking to Joe for answers.
Rubbing his chin, Joe thought aloud, "My Daddy hasn't told me any of this, so he must not want me to know. But I need to know these things, because I can't let my parents be in danger."
"Right," Mike nodded. "They could go after your Mommy to get the token."
"So," Joe affirmed. "We'll look for clues secretly. We'll have to figure out where the token is, and what it does." It would be better to know the answers to those questions first. 'If I'm right, the token must mean a lot, ' Joe thought to himself. 'If not, those people wouldn't be trying to get it so badly. Mike's Daddy is also famous and powerful like my Daddy, so the people he deals with must also be famous and powerful. My family is very powerful too, so the same people must know my Mommy and Daddy.'
"Okay," Mike concurred. "I'll help you, Joe."
Having finished his thoughts, Joe said, "I don't know what to do right now. I'll need more time to think. Please don't tell the others," he appealed to Mike. "After I figure out what we should do, I'll tell you and then we can discuss. Is that okay?"
Mike replied in agreement, "Okay."
Joe ordered, "Okay. Just be online at night as usual. I'll send you message if I have any problem. There are too many people in school, so we shouldn't talk about this thing here. We shall just play games in school as usual and contact at night, okay?"
"Okay, okay, I understand," Mike replied. It was a great honor to accompany Joe, his most trustworthy friend.
"Alright, let's return to class now." Joe nodded.
Mike replied, "Okay."
Back in the classroom, Joe sat in his seat. He decided to find his Aunt Jean first. He wanted to see if she knew anything about this. If she didn't, then Joe would know that Mond hadn't told her.
Using his phone, Joe texted Aunt Jean.
Joe typed, 'Aunt Jean, could you please have lunch with me? I don't want to eat in the dining hall and I can take a leave. I want to have lunch with you, please.' He sent the message and then received text from Jean a few minutes later.
Jean replied, 'Okay. You can go out of the school after class and I'll wait for you at the school gate.'
Joe felt his plans beginning to come together, making him smile.
Lunchtime came quickly. Joe gave the gatekeeper his note for leave before finding Aunt Jean standing by her car beyond the school gate.
He ran excitedly to her, yelling, "Aunt Jean!"
"Joe! I'm here," she called back. She squatted to hug him tightly.
"You got here on time, Aunt Jean!" Joe cried.
Smiling, Jean tucked some hair behind his ear. "Of course. I was afraid you might be hungry. Your pick, and I'll take you for a great lunch."
"Thank you, Aunt Jean," Joe replied politely. "You're so nice to me. Let me think." He tapped a finger to his chin a few times, pretending to think of a place. "Ooh! I want to eat at Crossing Bridge Noodles!"
Jean's smile grew as she gestured at the car. "Okay, let's go." They drove off together in her car.
On the way, Jean glanced at Joe a few times through the rear-view mirror.
Growing concern made Jean ask, "Joe, where are the two men your Daddy sent to protect you? Why didn't I see them at the school?"
Joe shrugged casually. "I don't know." He glanced at her reflection in the mirror. "Maybe they don't need to protect me anymore because I'm safe now."
She pursed her lips as she continued to drive. Finally, she nodded. "You're right. You're always safe."
"Of course, Aunt Jean," Joe smiled sweetly at his aunt.
Her nephew's happy face warmed Jean's heart.
Once they arrived at Crossing Bridge Noodles, they found a table in the corner and began chatting while they ate.
Just before taking a bite, Jean asked, "How are you doing in school, Joe?"
Joe moved his chopsticks quickly to show he wanted to say something important. "Pretty good." He hesitated before his next bite. "Well, Aunt Jean, I want to tell you something."
"Okay, say it," Jean happily replied.
He looked at his aunt, still holding his chopsticks, and then laughed. "I'm going to take piano class." He beamed at her. "My Mommy found a piano teacher for me and I might be taking lessons in two days."
Surprised, Jean gushed, "Really? That's great! Joe, you'd better study piano hard." Jean sincerely encouraged Joe to learn piano well. If he were her own child, she'd be very excited. Children always made Jean feel the whole world must be full of joy.
"Of course, Aunt Jean. I really want to learn the piano." Joe tapped his fingers along the table, mimicking a pianist's fingers across a piano. He imagined his wonderful and bright future. "I truly want to make beautiful music with my piano. And I hope I can be Piano Prince and ask my Mommy to watch me playing the piano someday."
Jean grinned at her nephew, watching his excited face. "You should study hard. Piano is not so easy to learn."
Joe held up his pinky finger in a promise. "Take it easy. I will try my best to learn it." His eyes grew wide in eagerness. "I will invite you to my piano concert! You have to come see me play the piano. Promise me, okay?"
"Okay, I will," Jean enthusiastically replied. Joe was almost like he was her own son. But her thoughts turned to his parents, Jackson and Cherry. She looked away.
Tilting his head at his aunt's expression, he asked, "Aunt Jean, what's the matter?"
Jean looked into her nephew's big eyes and replied hesitantly, "Will your Daddy and Mommy welcome me?"
Joe stopped in his tracks. "No." His face fell before he looked back at her. "I'll talk to my Mommy and Daddy, so please. Aunt Jean, don't be worried."
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