Posts tagged “Boyfriend

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 49

Posted on 04/06/2015

street2

Samina ignored Topher and Ezekiel for the rest of the camping trip; not an easy feat with hyper girls and unrepentant, meddling mothers underfoot. Thankfully, neither her family nor Ezekiel’s noticed the awkward shift and everyone parted ways, ending the holiday with most of them still smiling.

She couldn’t wait start work again. She’d do anything at work; even scrape gum off the sidewalk, if it would distract her from thinking about Ezekiel’s increasingly agitated texts and Topher’s pointed silence.

Pushing out a breath, Samina hurried up the stairs to the front door of the downtown office.

“Welcome back!” the secretary greeted Samina warmly once she entered the front lobby.  “Hope you had a great vacation?”

I need a vacation from the so-called vacation. Samina walked up to the desk, greeting the younger woman with a smile. “All is well, Kyra. I heard there’s a lot to catch up on.” Despite the unorganized chaos of the organization, Samina still felt good to have some sort of purpose.

Kyra smirked. “Ain’t nothing you can’t handle.” Her eyes glinted with confidence. “Oh, by the way, there’s a new girl and she’s been assigned to you.”

Samina raised both brows. “Me? But I just barely came on board.” She was still getting used to her increasing responsibilities as Activity and Outreach chair. Stack of dusty files and a growing list of phone contacts awaited her attention at the back cubicle next to the men’s bathroom door.

Kyra kicked a shoulder. “That’s how it is around here, best get used to it. Here” She extended a folder to Samina. “You better read this before you meet her. I hear she’s quite a handful.”

Collecting the folder, Samina managed a smile. “Thanks for the heads up.”

“See you at lunch,” Kyra called out as Samina trudged to the double doors.

With a distracted wave, Samina tucked the folder under her arm and made her way down the hallway, greeting her coworkers on the way to her cubicle. Stale air masked with a very flowery scent assailed her nostrils as she sat down at her desk.

Just then, an older man strolled out of the bathroom, the sound of flushing interrupting the silence. He gave her a chagrined smile which she returned before averting her eyes. She certainly didn’t miss this aspect of her new job.

Wrinkling her nose, Samina shifted her chair as far as she could from the door and dragged the folder to an empty spot on her desk. Her eyes skimmed over the details on the page.

Talitha Resendez. Age 18. Resident of Juvenile Justice Center in downtown Houston.

Samina leaned back into the seat, quickly reading the brief biography of the troubled youth. By the closing sentence, a teary-eyed Samina considered the girl who would be her charge for the remainder of the summer.

By lunchtime, she’d regained composure and was ready to greet Talitha who was set to arrive with her probation officer in less than five minutes.

Her phone dinged just as she stood to walk to the front lobby. With a sigh, Samina lifted the phone to see a text from Topher. Her heart skipped several beats as she opened the message to read.

Your dad came by to see Nadine. All is well. SWOY.

“What in the world is SWOY?” She frowned, deflated as she scrolled down the message and found nothing else. Slightly annoyed, Samina turned the phone upside down and stepped out of her cubicle before her five-minute mark was up.

A petite, round-faced brunette sat with her arms folded and a scowl marring her features. A hard-faced man with mottled skin stood at the counter, addressing Kyra.

“She’ll be out—” Kyra paused as the man looked up once Samina stepped into the lobby.

All eyes turned to her, the brooding teenager assessing her openly. Samina offered all a smile as she stepped forward with a hand extended at the probation officer. “Good afternoon. I’m Samina Wells.”

The man’s face barely changed and Samina’s smile waned a little. He took her hand and shook it firmly before letting go. Then he gestured to the teenager who took her time to stand, as if this was her last act of defiance.

Kyra and Samina exchanged glances before turning back to the odd pair.

The man placed a hand over Talitha’s shoulder and the girl’s small face tightened as his was. “This is Talitha Resendez. She’ll be assigned to you for a few weeks before school resumes.”

Samina nodded and offered Talitha another smile, noting the girl’s uncanny hazel eyes and olive complexion. She would be a pretty girl if she didn’t scowl so much. “Nice to meet you, Talitha.”

Talitha eyed her suspiciously as she did with those who asserted too much authority or force in her life. The heavy hand on her shoulder didn’t help any, Samina noted quietly.

Glancing up at the probation officer, Samina spoke in soft tones. “How about we step into the conference room and discuss this more.” She turned to the girl, kind smile in place. “Talitha, would you like something to eat first before we begin?”

“She already had lunch,” the probation officer answered for her.

Samina didn’t take her eyes off Talitha and didn’t miss her eyes harden as if quietly protesting her superior’s words.

“Samina,” Kyra spoke up. “There’s some kolaches from the morning meeting. Grab some on your way.”

“Good idea.” Samina gave Kyra a smile and gestured forward. “Please, right this way. I’ll be with you in a minute.” She paused to watch the probation officer lead a quiet Talitha down the hallway and then tamped down a sigh.

“Good luck,” Kyra muttered as she walked past the desk to the kitchen.

Samina hurried down the hallway to the kitchen, not wanting to leave the girl with the stern-faced man for much longer. There was something very odd about the pair and for the first time, not a thought of Topher and Ezekiel crossed her mind.

Except Ezekiel wasn’t going to let her off easily.

Samina groaned aloud, spotting Ezekiel standing outside her house after she parked her car in the driveway. She stepped out, glaring at him. “I thought I made myself clear, Ezekiel. What are you doing here?” She slammed the door and walked around the front of the car.

He stepped into her path. “We need to talk.”

Pausing in step, Samina stared up at him, noting that his jaw was shadowed with a beard forming. Ezekiel never allowed hair on his face. She eyed the bags under his eyes and heaved a sigh. “I don’t know why you’re doing this but I’m not ready to talk.” She skirted around him and walked up the porch step, tugging out her keys.

Ezekiel snatched it from her.

Samina hissed under her breath and glared at him. She held out her hand. “Give me my keys.”

“Not until you talk to me.”

She rolled her eyes but nodded. Snatching the keys from his hand, she gave him her back as she opened the door. Strolling inside, Samina tossed her purse on the couch and kicked off her shoes. Unbinding her hair and shaking it free, she walked over to the thermostat and turned on the AC. “I would offer you something to drink but you’d think it’s an invitation to get comfortable.”

A choking laugh from him made Samina turn around. There was a bemused smile on Ezekiel’s face that made her squint at him. “What’s funny?”

His smile faded, a wrinkle appearing between his eyes. “Nothing at all. Do you know how many times I’ve picked up my phone to call you?”

She folded her arms across her chest. “Apart from the times you texted me? What happened to giving me space?”

“I never agreed to that and you know it.”

Samina clenched her jaw. “So because we were dating, you think you could dictate what I get to do now?”

He raised a brow. “What does that mean?”

“I’m not a mindless person who needs a man to tell her what to do.”

Ezekiel raised both brows. “Did I say that? I don’t remember saying anything close to that.”

“You didn’t have to. It’s clear you don’t take me seriously.”

He pursed his lips, eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What are you doing?”

Samina turned away, moving to the kitchen. She needed a drink. Jerking open the fridge door, she grabbed an unopened bottle of water and untwisted the cap.

“I want an explanation, Sam.”

“My name is Samina,” she snapped in annoyance. Turning to face him, she glared at the surprised look on his face. “I hate when you call me Sam.”

He frowned. “You’ve never mentioned it before.”

She took a swig of the water before answering. “Well, now you know.”

Perturbed, Ezekiel squinted at her. “What’s going on here?”

“Nothing.” Samina felt her face growing hotter, her heart beating faster. She hated confrontation, hence her need for space. Him being here, invading her space, demanding an explanation, only made it harder for her to make her decision. “I told you I needed time and you should’ve respected that.” She rounded the counter and walked past him.

He grabbed her shoulder and turned her to face him. Confusion and concern were etched on his handsome features. “Talk to me.”

Samina averted her gaze, swallowing hard. She hated that his expression was because of her confusion, her indecision.

“Is this about me proposing?”

Her heart flipped over. Samina clenched her jaw.

“Is that it? Are you not ready? Did I rush you?”

Samina bit her bottom lip, feeling the sting of tears at the back of her eyes.

His fingers pressed the soft part of her shoulder. “Sam—I mean, Samina… look at me.” When she managed to look at him, his gaze was uncertain, anxious. “If I’m rushing you, you can tell me. I’ll fall back, give you space. Is that what you want? Should we take things slow?”

A part of her wanted to scream no; that his proposal and his insistent pursuit of her was what she’d always wanted. Another part struggled to follow, feeling suffocated by his barrage of questions and seeking an escape.

The doorbell rang then and Ezekiel looked up, his brow furrowed. “Are you expecting someone?” His voice hardened with suspicion and Samina knew he assumed it was Topher.

Samina jerked from his hold and moved quickly toward the door. Her eyes widened and she quickly turned to Ezekiel. “Hide! Now!” she whispered fiercely, heart racing.

He scowled darkly. “I’m not going anywhere—“

“It’s my mom.”

Ezekiel moved swiftly down the narrow hallway, toward her bedroom.

Waiting until he’d taken refuge in her room, Samina drew in a measured breath before opening the front door with a smile. “Mom, what’s going on?”

Deidre eyed her warily but pushed her way inside. “We need to talk.”

Samina stifled a groan and tossed a ‘help me’ look to the ceiling before closing the door. She glanced once at the bedroom door before turning to see her mother nudge the discarded shoes with her foot. “Is everything alright?”

“I’ve been thinking about what you told us.” Deidre plopped on the sofa and gestured her over. “Come sit.”

With a fleeting glance at the closed door, Samina trudged to the sofa. “What do you mean?” she perched on the side, eying her mother carefully. Had her father mentioned something about Karen’s outburst? Was her mother here to give her own version of a lecture? “Mom, what’s this about?”

“Hush.” Deidre reached for her hand, cupping it between hers. “What are the updates on your procedure?”

Samina inhaled sharply.

“I couldn’t sleep, not knowing what is going on with your health.” Her brow furrowed. “Did your doctor mention anything after the surgery?”

Biting her bottom lip, Samina hesitated. The walls were thin and this certainly wasn’t the way she wanted Ezekiel to find out.

“Samina…”

Breathing a sigh of resignation, Samina closed her eyes and told Deidre everything. From the discovery of the tumor, the fear of telling everyone, the procedure itself, and the treatment plan she would have to follow until her hormones were back in order.

Deidre wiped her eyes and sniffed. “My poor baby.” She pulled Samina into a hug and rubbed her back. “I can’t believe you went through all of this on your own.”

Samina swallowed hard. “I’m okay, Mom.”

“Yes, my darling girl.” Deidre kissed her ear before pulling back. Her gaze roved Samina’s face, a feeble smile lifting her lips. “My brave girl.” She cupped Samina’s cheek, rubbing her skin with the pad of her thumb. “Your father and I are praying this through. You will be okay. I love you.”

Samina allowed her mother another embrace and sighed. “I love you too.” This wasn’t how she wanted her mother’s affection, not out of pity or remorse.

When Deidre left a half-an-hour later, Samina pressed her head against the door and braced herself at the sound of his footfall behind her.

“You had surgery?” Ezekiel spoke evenly.

Samina drew in a measured breath before she turned around. His expression was furious and stormy. Now Ezekiel was another person angry that she’d kept it a secret. She fought a tremble and began to explain. “Zeke…”

“Just answer the question, Samina. Did you have surgery?”

But before she could respond, Ezekiel shook his head. “Alright. We’ll talk later.” He stomped angrily toward the door.

Samina barred his way and frowned up at him. “What—”

“You wanted space, you got it.” His blazing eyes focused on the door, not her. “Move.”

Bristling inwardly at his slight, Samina watched him jerk the door open and stomp past her to the driveway. She moved to the porch, calling after him. “I thought you wanted to talk!”

The car door slammed in response, the revving engine deafening her protests.

Flabbergasted, Samina watched his car reverse out the driveway onto the street. Something in her gut told her Ezekiel would probably be the one ignoring her calls this time around. With a sigh, Samina re-entered her house, telling herself she only had herself to blame if neither Ezekiel nor Topher would call her for a while.

<<Chapter 48 || Chapter 50>>

Chasing Truth: Chapter 25

Posted on 12/12/2014

sunny-sky_zps4b29cbdc

“If I wanted you to walk away and never come back, you’d do that?” Mari asked Blake, ignoring the tightening of her stomach.

She couldn’t believe it. If what he was saying was true, he wanted her with him all along and yet he was willing to walk away? Both of their eyes were fixed on the water rather than each other. She could see Blake’s shoulders tense at the question and he inhaled before he forced the air back out through his lips.

“If that’s what you want, I’ll respect it.”

She clenched a handful of sand before she let the grains slip through her fingers. “But it’s not what you want?”

Blake cursed under his breath. “No, Marielle. It’s not what I want, but this is your choice. You were too young to make it then. I’ll let you make it now.”

Mari drew her knees up into her chest and wrapped her arms around them. “I don’t know you and up until a few days ago, I didn’t think I would ever even have the opportunity to get to know you. Can we give it a little bit of time before I make that kind of decision?”

“We can do that.”

Neither spoke again. Only the sound of rushing waves and seagulls overhead broke the silence. Mari rested her chin on her knees. She hesitated, turning his words over in her head. It was her choice. She couldn’t even begin to make one without learning more about the man beside her.

“She didn’t talk about you much. Of course I was little when she died, but when I asked questions she would always say that you were a good man. That you loved me.”

His eyes went unfocused and there was a tinge of sadness to his smile. “I didn’t deserve her, but the time I had with her were the best times of my life. You couldn’t be with her and not enjoy life. She made things fun. There were times I thought I would die laughing from her jokes and antics. She brought happiness into a room just by walking into it. Not having you two with me was hard.”

Tears welled up in Mari’s eyes. This was what she’d missed not having him. “You must have a million stories about her.”

He seemed to come back to himself as he shifted in the sand to cross his ankles. His smile didn’t fade. “A million, maybe more.” He looked to her. “And I’m sure you have just as many.”

She nodded. Over the years she’d fought hard to hold onto every memory of her mother she could. She had a journal filled with them.

“Was she ever Miranda Mason?”

The question earned her a genuine smile. “She was my wife when she died but only four, now five, people know that. I protected her just as I protected you.”

“I bet she was gorgeous.”

“The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life. I kept pictures. I’ll make sure they get to you.”

“I’d like that. I’d like that a lot.”

“Is her grave close?”

The soft-spoken question was the last she expected. She chewed the corner of her bottom lip, nodding. “It’s not too far.”

“Will you take me?”

“Yeah,” she whispered.

He got back to his feet and extended his hand. She wiped her hands on her jeans, brushing off the sand before she tentatively placed her hand in his. He pulled her to her feet. With a squeeze so quick she couldn’t be sure she didn’t imagine it, he let her hand go and gestured before him.

“Lead the way.”

They climbed up the slope of the shore back toward the road. Mari waved to Janey who was jogging after her daughter running full out for the water. She didn’t miss the curious look Janey shot Blake’s way either. It wouldn’t be long before people were speculating on his identity.

“That’s Janey,” she murmured. “She owns one of the cafés in town. Don’t stop or we won’t leave the beach.”

“She talks a lot?”

“She owns a café everybody loves because she’s friendly and she cares. So yeah, she’s chatty.”

He laughed, but listened to her advice and kept going until they left the sand to cross the road.

“Miranda loved this place, the people. She was happy to get the chance to raise you here.”

“I know. She taught me all about what makes this place so special. I left for school, but this is home. It always will be.”

“Sometimes you’re like her clone when you talk.”

She smiled,  but focused on the trail ahead of her. There were very few times in the last several years Mari had walked the path to the hill with someone else. Raoul went with her several times as a child and Julia and Leilani accompanied her a time or two but as she grew older, she made the trip alone. She couldn’t pinpoint why, but walking up the familiar path with Blake a step behind her sent nerves dancing in her stomach.

She hesitated when they topped the hill and searched for the right thing to say. Blake didn’t need words. He was already crossing the grass between them and the grave. He didn’t speak, just stared at the headstone.

“I can give you a few minutes,” she offered quietly.

“No. Stay.”

That was it. He said nothing else. Mari locked her fingers together and twisted them as she watched him. Several minutes passed and he did nothing but rest his hand on the headstone.

“She liked the view,” Mari finally said. “We used to come up here a lot. Sometimes she’d let me help pack lunch and we’d eat. Other times we just came up here and played. No matter what though, she’d always just sit here for a while and look out at the water. She always said it was like being on top of the world. I didn’t realize when she died how out of the norm it was for her to be buried here, but no one argued so I got what I wanted. What I thought she would’ve wanted.”

“You were close.”

“She was my best friend besides Jules and Leilani. We did everything together.”

“Knowing you had that helps. Knowing she had that. She was so excited when she got pregnant and when you were born you were everything to her. It’s good she never lost that.”

Mari found herself giving voice to something she hadn’t in years. “I miss her,” she whispered. “Raoul was great and Allie when she came. They weren’t her though. It’s just this hole nobody can fill I learned to act like didn’t exist.”

He took a step toward her before he caught himself. He cleared his throat. “Do you talk about her?”

She shook her head. “At first, but it seemed like it only made Raoul sad so it got to  the pointwhere I only talked about her with Jules and Leilani occasionally.”

His jaw ticked.

“It wasn’t his fault,” Mari said quickly. “He never asked me to stop. I just didn’t want to make him sad. I came out here and talked to her instead. He gave me everything they could salvage and just about everything he had of her at his place became mine. Coming out here is what kept her close for me though. Maybe because we had so many memories here.”

His expression cleared as he rested a hand on the headstone again. “I can’t go back and fix that for you but if you ever want to talk about her, I’m listening.”

She nodded and looked back over the hill.

“How long are you staying?”

“Two or three days at the most. At least this first time.”

Mari squeezed the nape of her neck. If today was any indication, two or three days spent with Blake were bound to be filled with awkward moments, but they had to start somewhere. It was more time than she’d expected anyway. She wanted to get to know him and not just because she had questions.

“Okay. I think that’s good. It’s somewhere to start.”

“I want to come out here again while I’m here.”

“Okay.”

“Want to head back so we can show Raoul I didn’t run away with you?”

That earned him a small smile. “That might be a good idea.”

When they wound back down the path and up to the house together the front door was open and Gage stood on the porch. His arms were folded across his chest as he stared Tyler down. Mari inhaled deeply.

“That’s the Tyler boy I’ve been hearing about?” Blake asked.

“Yeah, that’d be him.”

She’d expected to have the entire day with Blake first. Still Tyler had been true to his word. He’d given her the first meeting alone. Now it was time to introduce Blake to her boyfriend.

<< Chapter 24 || Chapter 26 >>

%d bloggers like this: