TWO WEDDINGS (Two Sons - Two Daughters Trilogy Book 2)
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He is undergoing serious surgery, while one of his two passengers becomes paralyzed and the other dies. Bao Shaoyen needs this incident to be discreetly addressed, and Eddie manages to blackmail Eleanor Young into helping the woman, who she learns is extremely wealthy and has a son named Carlton who resembles Rachel. Astrid Teo, Nick's cousin, is invited to this wedding, and later meets with Charlie Wu, whom she befriends.
Michael Astrid's husband has become extremely successful due to Charlie's secret investment, and his behavior has become arrogant and hostile.
Charlie is stuck in an unhappy marriage with Isabel, but does not let Astrid know, and continues to help her with her troubled marital issues. Meanwhile, Kitty Pong, the former soap actress who managed to marry her way into the Singapore elite, tries to buy her way into the high-society of Hong Kong by appearing in gossip magazines and buying high-profile art. However, she is socially clumsy and finds herself continually shunned; so she hires the services of Corinna Ko-Tung, a woman from a well-born family who helps Kitty appear more sophisticated by trying to change her behavior and make better social connections.
Kitty can act well and manages to amend some of the damages she created.
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Nick is still not on speaking terms with his mother or his grandmother, and he does not attend his grandmother's Chinese New Year event. Intruding upon Rachel and Nick's wedding rehearsal, she informs Rachel that she has located her long-lost father, and she reconnects him with Rachel and her mother.
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Eleanor decides that she approves of Nick and Rachel's marriage, Nick is suspicious and asks her why she is reversing her position. She reveals it wasn't just because Rachel now associates with the wealthy elite of China, but also that Eleanor was trying to protect both him and Rachel from Su Yi's wrath. Years ago, she endured life as Su Yi's disapproved daughter-in-law due to Philip marrying her out of love. Rachel meets her father, Bao Gaoling, prior to the wedding, and is afterwards invited to spend time with his entire family in Shanghai during her honeymoon. Bao Shaoyen is angered by this and demands Bao Gaoling keep her away from her house.
He places her in a fancy hotel and stalls any meeting for over a week, but Nick suspects mischief. Carlton is also banned from associating with her, but decides to meet Rachel anyway, and quickly becomes close with her and Nick.
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He introduces her to his wealthy party-time friend Colette Bing. The four of them eventually travel to Paris for a shopping spree. At a party, Colette's boyfriend for 3-years, Richie Yang, proposes but she does not accept. He gets angry at Carlton and they vent their anger by deciding to compete in a reckless car race. Rachel begins to feel upset she has only met her father once since reuniting. In anger, he accidentally tells Rachel that Bao Shaoyen refuses to let her into her household. Bao Shaoyen is in fear of losing her husband's political advantages for having an illegitimate child, and wishes to prevent Rachel from receiving Carlton's inheritance.
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Before leaving, Colette calls him a spoiled brat for hurting Rachel and tells him to go through with the race with Richie. Upon learning about his previous accident, Rachel convinces Carlton not to race Richie. In turn, Carlton apologizes to Rachel for his behavior. Rachel decides to leave China, but returns to visit her friend Peik Lin. However, at the spa, she becomes very ill and is placed under medical watch after experiencing mysterious organ failures.
Peik Lin and Nick receive a bouquet of flowers with a note, saying that Rachel was poisoned as a warning. The poison is extremely rare, and Carlton realizes that his parent's pharmaceutical company may be involved. Believing Bao Shaoyen poisoned Rachel, he comes home to confront her about it and she denies involvement in the poisoning.
Refusing to believe his mother, Carlton then confesses to his father about how she bribed everyone to cover up the truth of his accident as well as the other girl's death.
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However, when Rachel discovers the truth, he claims Shaoyen intentionally poisoned her in order to shun her. A study she and a colleague conducted measuring knowledge of fundamental financial principles compound interest, risk diversification, and the effects of inflation found that 65 percent of Americans ages 25 to 65 were financial illiterates. Choice, often in the face of ignorance, is certainly part of the story. Take me. I plead guilty. I am a financial illiterate, or worse—an ignoramus.
I chose to become a writer, which is a financially perilous profession, rather than do something more lucrative. I chose to live in New York rather than in a place with a lower cost of living. I chose to have two children. I chose to write long books that required years of work, even though my advances would be stretched to the breaking point and, it turned out, beyond.
We all make those sorts of choices, and they obviously affect, even determine, our bottom line. But, without getting too metaphysical about it, these are the choices that define who we are. We make them with our lives in mind. The alternative is to be another person. But even having made those choices, which involved revolving credit, for the better part of my life I was not drowning in debt maybe treading in it … okay, barely treading. In retrospect, of course, my problem was simple: too little income, too many expenses.
Credit enabled me to forestall this problem for a time—and also to make it progressively worse—but the root of the problem was deeper.
Few of us do. I went to college; got a graduate degree; taught for a while; got a book contract; moved to a small, inexpensive, rent-controlled apartment in Little Italy to write; got married; and bumped along until I landed a job on television those of you with elephant memories may remember that for three years, I was one of the replacements for Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on the PBS movie-review show Sneak Previews.
My wife continued to work, and we managed to scrape by, though child care and then private schools crimped our finances. I never wanted to keep up with the Joneses. All right, I wanted them to be winners.
In our case—and I have a feeling in the case of just about every American—there were unforeseen circumstances. The housing market in New York soured, and I eventually sold the apartment for a steep loss, because I had no choice. I suppose I could have slashed the price sooner to bring in more would-be buyers—in retrospect, that would have been the wisest choice—but I wanted to cover what I owed the bank. Or at least I felt better thinking it was true.
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I still had my books, but they took longer to write than I had calculated, and cutting corners to turn them out faster, I knew, would be cutting off my career. I tell the M. In any case, with my antediluvian masculine pride at stake, I told her that I could provide for us without her help—another instance of hiding my financial impotence, even from my wife. I kept the books; I kept her in the dark. And then, on top of it all, came the biggest shock, though one not unanticipated: college. Because I made too much money for the girls to get more than meager scholarships, but too little money to afford to pay for their educations in full, and because—another choice—we believed they had earned the right to attend good universities, universities of their choice, we found ourselves in a financial vortex.
I am not saying that universities are extortionists, but … universities are extortionists. There was worse to come. Because I lived largely off the advances my publisher paid me when I commenced research on a book, the bulk of my earnings were lumped into a single year, even though the advance had to be amortized to last the years it would take to write the book.
That meant I was hit by a huge tax bill that first year that I could not pay in full without cannibalizing what I needed to finish the book. When I began writing a biography of Walt Disney, as my two daughters headed toward college, I decided to pay whatever portion of my taxes I could, then pay the remainder, albeit with penalties added, when the book was published and I received my final payment.
The problem is that the penalty meter keeps running, which means that the arrears continue to grow, which means that I continue to have to pay them—I cannot, as it happens, pay them in full. I suppose that was a choice, too: pay my taxes in full, or hold back enough to write the book and pay my mortgage and buy groceries. I did the latter. Perhaps none of this would have happened if my income had steadily grown the way incomes used to grow in America. There was a good year here or there—another television job, a new book contract, that movie sale.
But mostly my wages remained steady, which meant that, when adjusted for inflation, their buying power dipped. For magazine pieces, I was making exactly what I had made 20 years earlier. Real hourly wages—that is, wage rates adjusted for inflation—peaked in ; since then, the average hourly wage has essentially been flat. These figures do not include the value of benefits, which has increased.
Though household incomes rose dramatically from to for the top quintile, and more dramatically still for the top 5 percent, incomes in the bottom three quintiles rose much more gradually: only That is over a period of 47 years! But even that minor growth is somewhat misleading.
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The peak years for income in the bottom three quintiles were and ; incomes have declined overall since then—down 6. The erosion of wages is something over which none of us has any control. The only thing one can do is work more hours to try to compensate. I long since made that adjustment. I work seven days a week, from morning to night. There is no other way. Commerce Department defined that class less by its position on the economic scale than by its aspirations: homeownership, a car for each adult, health security, a college education for each child, retirement security, and a family vacation each year.
By that standard, my wife and I do not live anywhere near a middle-class life, even though I earn what would generally be considered a middle-class income or better. Median family income in was roughly half that. In my house, we have learned to live a no-frills existence.