Love Matters (A David Chan Mystery, Part Six)

Chan wasn’t tired, despite the multiple homicides.  All afternoon, the prospect of meeting Nina for dinner had shared space in his head with working the case.  Normally, this much blood might have made him sick, but not today.

He called Nina.  As seemed likely, she said she had no appetite, but wondered if Chan could stop by for coffee.

Nina lived near their alma mater, Roosevelt High, mauka of Nehoa Street.  She greeted him at the door and his heart picked up speed.

After she said, “David, so what have you learned?”, Chan wished he’d thought out a strategy for breaking further bad news to her, rather than spending all that time thinking about her while driving over.

Chan could figure no other way to go than to come right out and tell Nina that her other two brothers were dead.  Of course this had her crying again, but this did allow Chan to jump over and sit by her on the sofa.

After she’d calmed down, he told her they were working the angle of the cars now, and that both he and Victor Yamamoto had a strong hunch this would lead them close to the center of the problem.

With the bad news out of the way, and with Nina recovered, the conversation turned into a catching up session.  Chan was curious about Nina’s break with her family, but he didn’t ask directly.

Something had triggered Nina leaving the family restaurant and going to work as a cook at Chow Yoo Chu, but the way she talked about it, the move seemed more like a straightforward headhunting.

The owner of the posh Waikīkī Chinese restaurant had heard of Nina’s cooking prowess and had asked her if she didn’t think there might be too many chefs in her family-run operation.  Apparently she agreed.  It was as simple as that.

“So your parents had no problem with your going?” Chan asked.

Nina laughed.  “Oh man, they had a huge problem with that, but we’d already sort of become tired of butting heads over business, so it was a good time to go.”

“Butting heads how?”

“Menu, recipes, advertising, inventory, staffing.  You name it, we disagreed about it.”

“But,” said Chan, “that’s not the falling out you mentioned this afternoon.”

Nina looked at him, said nothing, her face blank.

“Oh, right, you didn’t want to talk about it.  Sorry.”

“Yes,” she said, oddly icily, “I don’t want to talk about that.”

“I’m sorry,” said Chan.  “I didn’t mean to bring it up.”

But he had meant to try to bring it up, and Nina knew he was digging for the information.

She was herself again, however.  “David, I was sorry to hear about your wife.  Elaine, right?”

“Yes,” Chan said.  Now they were on a topic that he didn’t particularly want to talk about. “She passed away two years ago, cancer.”

“I’m so sorry, David.  I’ve never been married, but I think I can imagine how hard that must have been.  You have children, right?”

“Yes, a daughter and a son, Sarah and David the third.  Sarah’s at O‘ahu College, an Art major, and David’s a junior at Roosevelt.”

“Ah, that’s good, another generation of die-hard Rough Riders.”

“Well, Sarah was going to go to Roosevelt, but all her ballet friends were at Punahou, and she begged us to send her, so we bit the bullet and did.  It’s good O ‘ahu College is so inexpensive.  I’m going to be paying for that Punahou education until I retire.  If I can retire.”

Nina laughed.  Chan too, then.

The mood picked up.  Chan was feeling good again, which made him feel a little guilty again.

The phone rang.

“Excuse me.”  She picked up.  The conversation on her side was a series of yeses and nos.

Nina hung up, smiled and said, “David, I’m terribly sorry, but I have to go out.”

In his mind, Chan cursed.  “Oh, sure, okay.”

He got up and went to the door.  She opened it.  They were practically breathing the same air.  Chan’s heart sped up again, but he stepped back.

Nina gave an awkward half smile.  “Thanks for coming over.”

Chan surprised himself.  “Yes, no problem, how’d you like to try for dinner again?”

Her reply seemed a bit slow.  “Yes, David, yes.  That would be good.  How about I call you.”

And just like that, Chan was tired.  He got into his car and slammed the door.  “Great.  She’ll call me,” he said aloud.  “Right.”

* * * * *

Aloha #WriterFriday, I hope you are well. Today’s #WritingPrompt is

love matters

Use it to inspire a piece of writing, short or long, and then post that piece on your site and link back to me, or simply post it as a comment below. I’d love to read what you write : )

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