By the time Ian and Maya had finally arrived home from China, it was quite late, pitch dark and raining really hard. The house had no lights on, so Ian took her by the hand and guided her to the bedroom where they both collapsed into bed exhausted from their trip. The next morning, Maya awoke early, as was her routine, and slowly guided her way downstairs. The sun had already begun to rise which gave the house a light sunny glow. She stood in the middle of the main floor and took a look around. This is it, she thought. The kitchen was decent, although the stove and fridge were far too old. The living space, if that is what you could call it, didn’t even have a couch or chair to sit on, let alone a television; something she had been really looking forward to. She didn’t grow up with a t.v. and she wondered what Shen’s fascination was with it.
The set of stairs from the main floor led her to the basement where she found a single bed and a sculpting wheel. Back upstairs, Maya stepped out onto the deck of the boat and down onto the dock and gasped. Looking this way and that, she ran down the dock onto the island and spun frantically in a circle. Nothing. Nothing but grey-blue sky and water as far as the eye could see. Not another soul around. Not another boat, not another house in site or even any land could be seen in any direction.
It was then a sense of real dread and fear bubbled up from the middle of her soul. What have I done? I’m trapped! Fearing the worst, she hoped that she hadn’t just walked out of one bad situation, into an even worse one. What if Ian was a wife abuser too? What if it all was an act in China? At least in China she had friends, she had options for escape. But here? I can’t go through this again; I won’t survive it. In China she had read certain wife abusers came on very sweet in the beginning then became the person they really were, once they had the woman right where they had them; once the marriage was done and they were living in the man’s home. Plus they often isolated the woman from friends and family, not allowing them to work or go out. This was the epitome of isolation!
Heart pounding, senses tingling, Maya was starting to hyper ventilate. Fear like she had never felt before filled her senses and she became hyper aware of everything around her. Every sound, every smell added to that fear. She shook uncontrollably, so much so felt her heart had risen to her throat and her stomach had twisted in knots. You will not cry, you will not cry, she repeated in her head over and over again. Get a grip, this will not help you to make a plan to solve this. You can survive this! Taking deep breaths to calm her panic, Maya tried to think rationally, without the fear.
Think think think, Maya said tapping her head with her fingers. There has to be some way out of this mess. This is not what I signed up for. I mean this can’t be real, can it? Pacing the island to and fro, Maya worked at keeping panic at bay while she concocted a plan in her head to fix this terrible mistake, while keeping an ear to the door for Ian. Methodically considering all angles, she worked the plan till she knew exactly what she was going to do. But as we all know plans never seem to go the way they’re planned….
Ian woke to the sunshine. The trip home had been less upsetting than the trip over, mainly because he was filled with such hope and expectations for his new life. He hadn’t gone to China with the thoughts of finding a wife, but now that he had met Maya, he was more than glad that he did. A whole new chapter of his life was about to begin and he couldn’t wait to get started. So he jumped out of bed and went to find his pretty little wife. He found her in the kitchen making breakfast. He touched her shoulder and Maya jumped and backed away from him. Her reaction to his touch concerned him and he tried to approach her more softly.
“I am so glad you are here,” he whispered to her.
Maya smiled. “Well, aren’t you sweet in the morning. I’m making you breakfast. Are you hungry?”
“Starving. But not for food!” He held out his hand to her and waited for her to respond. She glanced down at his hand and placed her hand in his. Ian reached behind her to turn off the stove, noticing her wince slightly at the movement of his arm. Taking her other hand gently, he led her to the bedroom to show her just how glad he really was. Their lovemaking was gentle and sweet. Nothing like the night they had spent together in China, and he found he loved her all the more for this side of her he had not yet seen. What a lucky guy am I, he thought to himself. My very own sex kitten rolled into this beautiful, giving woman. I shall never be left wanting. If only I can get her to fully trust me, and understand that I will never hurt her.
As much as Ian just wanted to spend the day in bed, his frugal nature was pulling him back to work. He spent the rest of the day sculpting; working towards his goal of being able to sculpt with stone. He wasn’t quite there yet, but he felt another three days of work would do the trick and then he could start making some serious money and a name for himself in the field. That was one of the things he appreciated about Maya. She was artistic herself and her paintings were were so detailed and beautiful. She wouldn’t have any trouble working to the top of her skill in this type of environment. He planned to introduce her to sculpting as well. If she could produce such wonderful paintings, he couldn’t wait to see what she could do with clay!
Ian was quickly finding out that saving Maya from her situation was not an instant fix. She almost appeared lost at first, not knowing what to do and unsure of her place. He was very gentle with her in his speech and movements. More than a few times that first day, she had flinched at his movement or taken involuntary steps away from him. He understood why it was she was acting the way she was, yet it surprised him as well. They had spent several days together in China, and he didn’t think he had done anything that could had given her the idea he was an abusive man. But the more he thought about it, she was careful with him too. At the time, he thought it was just because she wanted to be proper, as a married woman should do. However he missed the signs that clearly showed she was frightened around men as well. All because he was too caught up in his desire to save her and ultimately have her for himself.
He had others issues as well. Her Chinese traditional training ran deep and it was going to take some time to get her to understand that this was a new world and they were husband and wife, not man and slave. His first lesson was to get her to understand that meal time was shared together. Supper came that first evening and while he went to sit on he stool at the island, she went to stand against the wall. Eventually he got her to sit beside him and eat when he told her he would not eat another piece of food until she did so. Then he made her sit while he did the dishes. They had several more discussions about chores around the house, all the while Ian trying to get her to understand that she was not there to serve him. Chores would be shared. He made the mistake of joking that if she didn’t listen to him about chores, that he would tie her to a chair and make her watch him clean. Not a smart thing to say. Her eyes went big as saucers and she was so scared he could smell the fear radiating off her. He quickly apologized and then very matter of fact pointed out that he didn’t even own a chair, so how was he going to do that? That had them sharing a brief laugh together. After that, he asked her if she wanted to head up to bed. They climbed into bed together and he turned to her and asked if he could hold her while they slept. Maya looked uncertain but she did slide over and he placed his hand on her hip. Baby steps he thought.
After that first day, Maya seemed to settle in a little better and kept herself busy with her art. He was happy that she could now devote herself to the passion she so long had to hide. She spent hours at the paint easel happily focused on painting after painting. Her skills were wonderful and he wondered what kind of masterpieces she could produce with time and practice. He did manage to get her away from the paint easel for other things, like scuba diving.
She wasn’t keen on getting into the water, until he told her all the wonderful treasures that could be found on the shallow sandy floor. Then she decided that it might not be so bad after all. The spent the afternoon on the second day, just splashing around in circles finding shells, toys and a few other items.
That night he insisted on cooking and made her a meal of macaroni and cheese, which was a new dish for her to try. She kept standing up from the chair at the island, and he kept asking her politely to sit down and let him cook. He did however, try to phrase it like a loving husband and not a command, as she was used to with Shen.
She was definitely unsure about having a meal cooked for her, but when he placed the bowl in front of her she dug in and was pleasantly surprised at Ian’s cooking skill. He wanted to explain that it really was a simple dish that even a child could make, but decided that any praise from Maya, was a step in the right direction for their marriage.
The next morning Maya approached Ian and tentatively brought up the subject of the lack of furniture in the house. He agreed that now there was two in the house, that maybe more furniture would be a good thing. With the sale from all the gems he collected in China, they would certainly be able to afford a living room suite. He headed down to the kitchen and pulled out his computer, to do some shopping online. He was so deep in thought that he didn’t hear Maya come up behind him to look over his shoulder. Her feathery light touch on his shoulder startled him and he stopped what he was doing and looked up.
She had started to lightly rub the back of his head and he was so pleased all he wanted to do was turn around and kiss her. Instead he briefly smiled and closed his eyes enjoying the affection she was giving him. Not wanting to let her know she had startled him or how pleased he was by the affection, he went back to searching the web for some good affordable pieces. Maya offered her opinion and together they choose a sturdy couch, rocking chair and television. He placed the order for delivery the following day.