At that moment, Kairi was the only one who could truly understand her father’s heartache. She knew that he was grieving over her mother’s inability to witness the scene before them with her own eyes.
Sometimes, the living found comfort in believing that their deceased loved ones could appreciate the fruits of their patience from the afterlife. This perspective could bring peace of mind.
However, not everyone could adopt such an open-minded outlook. Some people might regret that their loved ones couldn’t live long enough to witness the outcomes they had hoped for, and they became consumed by this sorrow, unable to break free from its grip.
Mr. Elms, along with Kairi, belonged to the latter group.
Martial artists placed a high value on strength and strive to overcome their destinies. They believed that the key to changing one’s fate lied in living life to the fullest. Therefore, they didn’t believe in an afterlife, knowing that death was final, like a candle that had been snuffed out.
To the living, the greatest source of regret was when a loved one died with unfulfilled desires.
Given this, Kairi chose not to comfort her father. She understood that he needed to shed tears to find relief from his pain.
Fortunately, Mr. Elms was not a fragile man. After shedding tears, he allowed his grief to flow out and felt somewhat better.
Realizing that this was meant to be a joyful day, he quickly wiped away his tears and, with a smile, said, “I’m sorry, I made a fool of myself. Isn’t it time for me to be served some tea?”
With Mr. Elms’ recovery, the Elms family breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Wanting to help the old man move forward, Zayne eagerly asked those around him, “Where’s the tea? Why hasn’t it been served yet? I want to offer tea to my father-in-law!”
“We’re bringing it now!” A young man scurried forward with two cups of tea.
Zayne pulled Kairi closer to him, and the two of them knelt on either side of Mr. Elms. Zayne picked up one of the cups, held it with both hands, and respectfully presented it to Mr. Elms.
He spoke loudly and clearly, “Dad! Please have some tea!”
Mr. Elms smiled and nodded in gratitude, accepting the tea from Zayne. He held the cup with one hand and took a sip.
Mr. Elms delicately set his teacup down on the table before him and motioned for his daughter, Kairi, to hand him the second cup. He emptied the contents and then turned to face Zayne with a serious expression.
“Zayne, there’s just one condition that I require before I can allow you to marry my daughter,” he began, his eyes fixed on the young man.
Zayne bowed his head respectfully. “Please, Father, tell me what it is.”
Mr. Elms took Kairi’s hand in his own and held it tightly.
Then, with a stern voice, he spoke his condition. “I don’t care where the two of you end up living, nor what kind of life you choose to lead. You don’t even have to visit me for years on end, be it one, three, five, or even eight or ten years. I won’t be upset or fussy about it. All I ask is that you treat Kairi with the utmost care and respect. If at any point you stop loving her, don’t mistreat her. As long as I’m alive, if you ever send her back to the Elms family unharmed, I won’t hold it against you. Can you promise me that?”
As the old man spoke, Kairi and Xion wept openly, moved by the gravity of his words.
Zayne hung his head in shame, knowing all too well the sordid reputation of the Banks family. His father had gone as far as attempting to kill his ex-wife and daughter in order to safeguard the family’s honor.
Thankfully, Dora had come to the rescue and saved the mother and daughter, but the entire incident had resulted in widespread contempt for the Banks men, both in their country and around the globe. Mr. Elms’ concerns were not unwarranted, given this background.
Feeling a deep sense of shame, Zayne lifted his right hand and made a solemn pledge. “Father, you needn’t worry. I have already decided that Kairi and I will settle down in Aurous Hill after we’re married. This way, not only will I be able to spend more time with Xion, but Kairi and I will be able to live together as well. I’ll visit you often, and I swear to treat Kairi with all my heart, to love and cherish her every day, and to do everything in my power to protect her. If I ever fail in these promises, you and the Elms family have my permission to take my life at any time!”
Mr. Elms nodded with satisfaction, handed Kairi’s hand to Zayne, and said with relief, “In that case, I have nothing else to say. You can take Kairi with you.”
Zayne expressed his gratitude respectfully, “Thank you, Dad! Don’t worry, I’ll never let Kairi be wronged!”
“Alright, alright, alright!” Mr. Elms repeated the word three times, waving his hand with a smile, signaling the couple to leave.
Zayne and Kairi exchanged glances, rose to their feet, and exited the house. With Zayne by her side, Kairi entered the first wedding car.
Xion and the other female members of the Banks Family also headed to the hotel together.
In accordance with Chinese wedding customs, Zayne had initially planned to take Kairi to his home to pay homage before proceeding to the hotel for the wedding ceremony.
However, the Banks Family wasn’t from Aurous Hill, and Dora had deliberately kept Zayne’s wedding a secret. So, he had arranged a presidential suite at the Shangri-La, which served as Zayne’s temporary residence.
This practice was fairly common, as women often traveled from their hometowns to the city where their husbands-to-be resided, staying at a hotel to prepare for the wedding.
By convention, Kairi’s family should have booked a hotel in Eastcliff, allowing Zayne to pick her up and take her home for the ceremony. However, Dora had insisted on using the Shangri-La, so Zayne had no choice but to comply.
At this point, most of the Banks Family, including the elderly patriarch and Zara, were waiting in the presidential suite at the hotel. The invited guests from the Ito family were already present.
Also in attendance was the well-known Eastcliff host, 46-year-old Julian Davis. A household name in China, Julian Davis was considered a top-tier host.
Xion had invited him to emcee the wedding, as his parents were martial artists who maintained a close relationship with the Elms Family. Growing up, Julian Davis had spent considerable time with the Elms Family.
Xion wasn’t worried about outsiders discovering her father’s marriage, nor about them noticing her mother’s restored arms. After all, only the Banks and Elms families knew of her mother’s disability.
What concerned her was Adrian, who was to be the marriage officiant, and the potential exposure of his identity.
Having grown up in the Elms Family and being a descendant of martial arts masters, Julian Davis had Mr. Elm’s trust. His character was beyond reproach, so Xion knew he would keep quiet about the day’s events.