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(Meeting for a wedding)

Isla sighed and shook her head. "No, Aron is not aware of this. And I don't want to worry him because he will try to deal with the situation." She clasped her hands before speaking. "You know Aron is still dealing with Simon's death. But Colin's family is also causing him trouble. And if he finds out that Colin has been harassing me, I'm afraid he will try to settle the score violently and destroy himself in the process."

Autumn wanted to console Isla, and started to talk but decided to keep quiet. She was thinking only Aron could resolve the matter of Colin hounding Isla, since her friend was helpless in dealing with the situation.

Although Aron may decide to handle things violently, perhaps he can be persuaded to settle it in a civil manner. Autumn finally spoke up. "Isla, I still think it's better to tell Aron what has been going on so he can think of a way to put a stop to it." As angry as she was over the situation, she was calm as giving her suggestion.

"I know what to do," Isla suddenly blurted out. With a small smile, she said, "Tomorrow my parents will be coming to Y City to discuss my wedding with Aron's grandparents. I'll tell Aron about it then."
"That sounds good," Autumn agreed. She only hoped Isla would really push through with telling Aron.

Autumn escorted Isla to the door of her home just to ensure she was home safe. Nowadays, living a comfortable life was not a guarantee against facing danger.

At the end of the year, Autumn finished her last proposal and gave orders for her employees to take their annual leave.

She knew taking a break was necessary because they would soon be faced with several big cases when they returned to work after the new year. She wanted all of them to be well rested.

Isla left the office earlier to pick up her parents from the train station. John and Jina wore down jackets that their daughter bought earlier in preparation for the meeting with Aron's grandparents.

With their work at the farm, they rarely dressed up stylishly.

"Dad! Mom!" Isla cried as she ran up to her parents. She was so glad to see them with big smiles as they hugged their daughter. They were also laden with packages, which made Isla feel guilty.

"You know it's not necessary to bring me so many things. I have a comfortable and peaceful life here," she reassured them.

"Ahhh, but dried turnips and freshly-preserved pickles are your favorites," said Jina. They also brought freshly-picked carrots from the village that were not available in the big city. Then Jina shyly asked, "Isla, do I look good in this jacket?" She smiled while caressing the sleeves.

"Oh you look very good in it," Isla told her mother. She escorted them to her car and drove directly to the hotel where Aron and his grandparents were looking forward to meeting them.

As soon as Aron caught sight of Isla and her parents approaching, Aron stood up excitedly to greet the three and his grandparents were equally welcoming.

The impending marriage brought the two families closer together. Joanna especially enjoyed chatting with Jina. As the elders got along, Isla noted how tired Aron looked and was immediately concerned. "Not been sleeping well?" she asked him softly.

"Maybe," he replied. But he took Isla's hand in his to reassure her. "It's nothing serious, really. I'm just tired because I stayed up late last night. So don't be worrying about me," he told Isla.

As food was served, Mike poured out wine, as a sign of respect for John, whom he found to be simple, kind-hearted and easy to get along with.

Mike and Joanna looked at one another and nodded, as each realized how right it was for Aron to be marrying Isla rather than Becky.

Joanna spoke up. "Aron and Isla, I think, are already old enough so they should no longer postpone their wedding. So I suggest that an auspicious date be selected for it. Do we all agree?" She looked at Jina and John, expecting a response.

"I wholeheartedly agree," Jina replied. "And that's why we came here to make these arrangements." She was smiling at everyone.

She was soft-spoken, but there was eagerness in her tone. "Aron is an enterprising man, and we are quite honored to welcome him as our son-in-law. His relationship with Isla may have faced challenges but I believe they are fated to be together for good." Jina looked at her daughter and said, "It is time to discuss their wedding."

She took out a sheet of red paper from her coat and explained, "I requested a village elder to divine Aron's and Isla's dates of birth for an auspicious day for the wedding. And he gave a day in May next year as the date. Is this agreeable to all?"

Joanna examined the date neatly brushed on the red paper and nodded her approval. "An auspicious day, indeed," she said to Jina. She was about to bring up the matter of betrothal gifts when she heard a familiar voice that was certainly not welcome.

Fiona, along with members of her family, spotted the group and walked over haughtily. "Why, is there a party going on here?" she mocked.

She scanned who were in the table, "What brings all of you here?" Joanna rose to question Fiona's arrival, displeasure evident in her face.

She was further annoyed because of their coming without calling beforehand. Fiona spoke lazily, "Ah, are we not welcome here, Mom?" Turning to Isla's parents, she explained, "Aron was an orphaned boy and my family raised him.

He was treated with care and love like he was our own child. So it is only right that we join the family gathering to discuss his wedding, right?"

To Jina, she said, "I'm awfully sorry for being late."

"That's all right," Jina replied. She felt the tension building around them as Fiona went on with her bitter sarcasm. 'Who is this woman?' she thought to herself.

Too nervous, she pulled Isla close and asked, "My dear, who is that lady? How should I refer to her?" She was whispering so as not to add to the tension.

"They are Aron's uncle and aunt," Isla explained. She had to calm herself while patting her mother's arm in assurance.

Unfortunately, Colin joined his parents and went up to Isla. "Miss Zhao, we meet again," said he. It was obvious he was flirting with Isla, much to Aron's dismay.

Colin believed the best way to antagonize his cousin was through his girlfriend because any discomfort felt by Isla would certainly upset Aron.

Isla opted to ignore Colin's behavior. But she could not escape Fiona, who, upon seeing her nephew's betrothed, was drawn to her beauty but was turned off by the rustic manners of her parents, however well-dressed they were.

"I suppose this young lady is Isla," Fiona said looking at the young woman. She approached Isla, a hypocritical smile on her lips. "You look pretty," she commented.

Isla nodded and said, "Yes, Aunt. It's me." Isla addressed Fiona the way Aron did, as a sign of respect but which was met with Fiona's contempt. "Miss Zhao, your marrying into the family is still a long way off. You better call me Mrs. Chen… to avoid raising any suspicions," said she.



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