Posts tagged “aunt

Guiding Light, Chapter 12

Posted on 01/12/2015

Mashing sweet potatoes was all Phoebe’s mother allowed her to work on, she was much too distracted for anything else. Sentenced to the breakfast nook with a bowl, a pound of boiled sweet potatoes and her Aunt Belinda’s potato masher, Phoebe got to work. In the kitchen, her mother and aunt bickered over the main menu while out in the backyard, Uncle Harry and her father attempted to put the deep-fryer to work.

She had a perfect view of the two men, standing around the funny-looking equipment. If she wasn’t sulking over her menial task, Phoebe would’ve laughed at their puzzled expressions or at least offered to help.

Then she thought of the brothers in the Teka home, wondering what they were doing for Thanksgiving. Phoebe frowned at the thought of either Darah or Geraldine cooking. Her fingers stilled on the masher.

“Now now,” Aunt Belinda spoke up. “That is certainly not the way Mama used to do it.”

Phoebe turned to see the sisters standing over the stove, arguing over a silly pot of greens. She rolled her eyes and turned away.

“I’m not trying to do it like Mama. Give me the spoon, Bel.”

“Marsha, I’ll be darned if I let you taint Mama’s greens.”

“For goodness’ sake! It’s my kitchen, my stove! I can do whatever I want with my greens.”

Phoebe sighed heavily. So much for some peace and quiet. She mashed the last potato and set it aside before standing. “I’m gonna help Dad and Uncle.”

The women paid her no attention, now criticizing each other’s cooking. Shaking her head, Phoebe put the bowl on the counter and moved to the back door.

“You sure we should use Crisco?” Uncle Harry muttered, assessing the bottle of oil. “Bel’s on a strict diet.”

“Then she’ll eat greens,” her father answered.

Phoebe held back a smile, closing the door. “Need some help, fellas?”

Both men looked up and her father gave her a distracted smile before looking away.

Uncle Harry studied her carefully. “And how will you help?”

Phoebe arched a brow, coming to stand beside them. “Looks like you need all the help you can get, Uncle. It’s been almost an hour and you’ve still not put it together.”

Uncle Harry tugged on her puffy ponytail and flashed her a grin. “That’s all on your dad.”

“Like you’re doing anything but staring at me.”

“I said we should print out the instructions.”

Phoebe smirked. “Daddy seems to think frying a bird requires no instructions.”

“It doesn’t,” Clint replied, setting down the container on its stand. “Our forefathers deep-fried turkeys and chickens long ago. Don’t think anyone sat down to write some dumb instructions. Harry, hand me that screwdriver.”

Harry shook his head but reached down to collect the tool. “Hope you guys have an extra bird in the oven, just in case.”

Phoebe winked conspiratorially. “It’s covered.”

“O ye of little faith.” Clint squatted. “Just watch. When I’m through pulverizing this bird, you’re not having any of it.”

“Pulverized doesn’t sound tasty.” Harry regarded his niece. “You okay?”

Phoebe nodded with a smile. “Mashed potatoes ready for your favorite pie.”

His lips twitched, though his expression remained serious. “I meant about your guy.”

Cheeks on fire, Phoebe glanced once at her father before looking back at her uncle. “Err…”

“She’s got no guy until he meets my approval,” Clint groused.

Harry chortled. “The girl’s twenty-eight, Clint. Too old for show and tell.”

“Thank you!” Phoebe scooted close to her ally and wrapped an arm around him. She rested her chin on his shoulder and smiled.

He winked at her. “Besides, I got a good look at him. He’s a decent fellow.”

Phoebe gave him a weak smile. Though relieved that he liked Abe’s character, it didn’t change the fact that Abe didn’t want anything to do with her.

“I’d be the judge of that,” Clint grumbled from his squatting position. “Where’s the gas?”

Harry sighed and dislodged himself from Phoebe to retrieve the gas cylinder. “You sure about this, Clint?”

“Yup. Got it covered.” Clint accepted the cylinder.

Harry took Phoebe’s hand in his. “When he lights it, you and I run for the door.”

“Ha-ha, very funny.”

Phoebe stifled a giggle and rested her cheek against Uncle Harry’s shoulder. They turned to watch her father hook the gas cylinder and she held her breath. But only for a moment. There was a distinct hissing sound and then flames under the open container that would hold the thawing bird sitting on the open grill. No explosions, not spontaneous combustion. She relaxed against her uncle.

“Well I’ll be,” Harry breathed in awe. “I think you’ve got something here, Clint.”

Clint flashed a smug grin. “Told you.” He stood and walked around them to the grill.

The door opened behind them and a frowning Aunt Belinda stepped out. Her frown eased at the sight of blue flames under the open cylinder. “It worked?”

“Of course it did,” Clint answered, stepping around the container retrieve the turkey. “Now we just wait for the Crisco to warm up and–”

Crisco oil?” Belinda’s frown returned. “Clinton, I can’t eat with that!”

Clint snorted and Harry shook his head. “I told you so.”

Phoebe held back a smile and started to step aside, intending on returning inside to assist her mother. Uncle Harry squeezed her hand, pulling her attention back to him.

“Let’s talk.”

Her heart skipped a beat. Those words, even at the age of twenty-eight, didn’t bode well for her.

So when they came to stand on the side of the house, Phoebe acted quickly. “I’m sorry, Uncle Harry!” she burst out. “I should’ve stayed away, should’ve told him and you–”

Harry shook his head. “Enough of that. It was an honest mistake, and sheer coincidence that I would be there.”

She blinked. “You’re not upset?”

He sighed. “I was upset because you jeopardized their chance…”

Phoebe hung her head. “I know.”

“But they’ve got someone scheduled for their place tomorrow, so it’s fine.”

She looked up, smiling. “That’s great!”

He regarded her with a puzzled smile on his face. “I can see why you’d find it hard to stay away. They’re a good family.”

Phoebe looked down again, sighing. “Yeah… they are.”

“And they seem to like you as much as you like them.”

She closed her eyes, trying to ignore the aching feeling in her gut.

“Why don’t you go to them? It’s the holidays.” He reached for her hand, willing her to look up. His expression was kind, understanding.

Her eyes watered. “I wish I could, Uncle Harry. You have no idea just how much.” The tears fell free when Uncle Harry pulled her close.

<<Chapter 11 || Chapter 13>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 17

Posted on 01/04/2015

farmersmarket

Gabriel didn’t know what angered him more; that Jeremiah had gone back to find Odetta or the fact that the woman in the blue dress wasn’t Odetta. The feeling of falling one step behind Jeremiah choked his pride as it always did ever since their younger days.

Pushing aside the troubled feelings, Gabriel sat up as Deidre sauntered into the study. She held out a glass of fresh beet juice for him to drink. Ignoring her stern gaze, he quietly accepted the drink and gulped it down.

“I just don’t see why you couldn’t at least offer to take them to the airport.” Deidre snatched back the empty glass. “And you didn’t bother calling. Honestly Gabriel, what is the matter with you? This isn’t like you.”

Without a word in his defense, Gabriel returned his attention to his miniature S.S. ocean liner ship.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you two didn’t like each other anymore.”

Gabriel rolled his eyes. “Don’t be so dramatic, Deidre. I’ve just been busy.”

“Too busy to comfort your friend mourning his dying aunt?” She gestured to the pile of unfinished models on his desk. “Is this what you call being busy?”

“Deidre, enough,” he growled, adjusting a stubborn piece on the tiny reel.

Deidre hissed with disdain. “You’re wrong for this, Gabriel, and you know it.” Muttering under her breath about his stubborn pride, she stormed out of the study.

Gabriel lowered his hands, staring blankly at the model ship in front of him. His wife’s nagging words, poking at his pride and guilt for the growing resentment toward Jeremiah.

Suddenly, a faded image of a morose Jeremiah standing beside him in front of an open grave, flashed in his mind’s eye. After their college graduation more than three decades ago, Jeremiah accompanied him to a mutual friend’s funeral. Though they were still not on speaking terms after a full-blown brawl between them, they still came together, both sporting identical bruises on their faces. A willowy female stood between them, her head bowed in deep sorrow.

Gabriel frowned at the image of the willowy woman who wept bitterly. This woman was Odetta Chance, his college sweetheart and the cause for the fist-fight with Jeremiah.

The doorbell rang loudly and he blinked out of the daze. Deidre’s voice filled the silence as she greeted their daughter Samina and ushered her in.

“Hey dad.”

A gentle smile crossed his lips as Samina peeked into the study. Gabriel stood and walked around the desk to welcome his first daughter.

“What a fine surprise,” he said, gathering Samina into his arms. He placed a kiss on her forehead and led her back to the desk, ignoring Deidre’s pointed stare.

“Everything okay?” he asked as she took the seat on the other side of his desk.

Samina hesitated answering until she settled in the chair across his desk. “Yeah…”

His brow furrowed at the fatigue plain in her voice. “You sure?”

“Hmm, I’m fine.” Samina flashed him a smile. “See?”

He merely arched his brow, unconvinced.

With a sigh, Samina lowered her gaze to the model on his desk. “Started another one already?” Her long fingers traced the smooth line of a pond sail boat.

Gabriel smiled as she gently lifted the boat in her hands. “Remember that one? Took us the entire night to complete.”

“I remember. Mom was annoyed.”

“She’s always annoyed.”

Her smile turned wistful and she placed the miniature boat on its stand.

His heart sunk at the forlorn expression on her face. “Nothing yet?”

She merely shook her head solemnly, eyes riveted to the unfinished boat before them.

“Don’t worry.” He reached over the desk and took her hand in his. “These things take time. Remember that God’s timing will never match ours. And his ways are not our ways.”

“Sometimes I wish it was…” Samina’s voice hitched as a sob caught in her throat.

Gabriel looked at her face that seemed unreadable at first glance. She was trying so hard to act unaffected by her sudden unemployment. Ever since she was a child, he found Samina quite hard to read unlike her siblings, her reserved nature resembling his own. But this father knew when she held back tears. Like now.

“Sam,” Gabriel began tenderly, coaxing Samina to look up. The telltale glimmer in her eyes made his heart ache. “It’s okay to be disappointed about the way things are happening… but don’t doubt God’s love for you. Believe that he has only the best for you.”

Samina sniffed back tears, staring at the patient love in her father’s eyes.

Gabriel smiled, squeezing her hand gently. “Whether it’s your job… or your future spouse, it’ll work out for your good.” He nudged her hand when she rolled her eyes. “Trust me, I know.”

Samina pulled her hand from his, tucking it under her armpit. She lowered her gaze. “Dad, please. I’m not even thinking about marriage.”

“For now or forever?” He didn’t like the resignation in her voice.

She leaned forward to study the boat, tracing the miniature rudder. “Haven’t seen this one before. Is this new?”

Gabriel tamped a sigh and looked down at the boat. “Not really. Just haven’t had much time to work on it.” He watched with bemusement as Samina fished through the pile of loose pieces. “Wanna give your old man a hand?”

Samina smiled gently. “You don’t have to ask.”

In the quiet secluded corner of the hospital stood a gazebo overlooking a fish pond and a small garden. Nadine had spotted the miniature paradise from her window one morning. Upon Topher’s arrival at her room during his lunch break, she asked for his company to investigate the grounds.

As Topher wheeled her down to the garden, Nadine surveyed the bright flowers lining the path. Her wheelchair was parked by the iron-wrought bench under the gazebo and once Topher helped her to stand, Nadine touched the cherry blossoms draped at the opening. “They overdid it a little…”

“Hmm?” Topher mumbled, watching a dragonfly hover a cluster of flowers planted on the ledge.

“Everything. The gazebo’s a nice touch though…” she paused to breathe in deep.

Topher eyed her warily. “Be careful.”

Nadine rolled her eyes. “Relax. The air out here isn’t as bad as back home.” For measure, she inhaled in deeper, exhaling with a blissful sigh.

“Still…” He watched the serene expression on her face and swallowed the rest of his words. If she was happy and comfortable, maybe he could rest easier.

“I’m fine.” Nadine cleared her throat and Topher leaned closer. She held up a hand to him and peered down into the fish pond. “I wonder if anyone’s gone fishing in there.”

Topher smirked, staring into the murky water. “Hope not.” He stretched his limbs, grunting as the tension eased off his taut muscles.

“How are the lovebirds? When’s the wedding again?”

“Sooner than you think. In the next few weeks.”

“Good. I should be right as rain by then.” She watched the dragonfly flit from one flower bed to another. “Wedding preparations going well?” she asked casually.

Topher shrugged. “Besides the stress of trying to get things done on time, yeah.” He didn’t bother bringing up Ada’s agitated nerves or Samina’s troubling absence.

Nadine scoffed lightly. “I can imagine. That Ada girl seems high-strung. Downright neurotic.”

“She was only nervous because you were giving her the third degree.” He squinted at her. “You promised to be nice.”

“I was nice,” Nadine countered, flicking at the dragonfly. “Is it a crime that I want to make sure my boys are taken care of?” At Topher’s pointed silence, she peered up at him. “By the way, when do you plan on making me a grandmother?”

Topher gave her a sideways glance. “Impatient, aren’t we?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Nadine tilted her stubborn chin. “I’m not getting any younger waiting on you.”

Reminded by her debilitating condition, he quickly averted his gaze before she noticed. The thought of Nadine’s time slipping away made him reconsider his priorities. Presently, marriage was becoming a higher priority than building his career. It didn’t help that Jaxson’s upcoming nuptials spoke of the thrills of finding one’s mate.

Aside the stress of wedding plans, Jaxson was content and excited to spend the rest of his life with Ada. Topher caught himself wondering if there was someone that would make him feel just as content.

Suddenly, Samina with her striking features and shy smile flickered in his thoughts. Topher sat up, his heart doing a little back-flip. His lips curled in a smile. “Might be sooner than you think…”

Nadine chuckled low, pulling Topher’s attention to her. She had a knowing smile on her face. “She seems nice.”

Topher arched a brow. “What?”

“I like her.” Her eyes danced with mirth. “Maybe she’s a little aloof and shy. But it’s good that she can cook a mean Cajun dish. Means I won’t have to worry you’ll be taken care of.” She wriggled her brows and poked a bony finger in his side.

He frowned, wrapping a hand around her thin wrist. “Nadine… No one said anything about Samina.”

Nadine gave him a pointed stare. “You just did.” She laughed at his strangled groan.

<<Chapter 16 || Chapter 18>>

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