Posts tagged “brother

Sanctuary, Chapter 1

Posted on 12/05/2017

“Thanks brother,” J.R. Obed said graciously as he patted Clement Teka, his brother-in-law on the back. The two men shared smiles and a handshake before J.R. took his place beside his teary bride.

Clement grimaced at the sight of her big brown eyes glimmering with tears. “What bride goes to her honeymoon in tears? It’s Dubai, for goodness’ sake not Arlington. No offense to Arlington—”

“Oh come here, you big doofus,” Darah laughed amid her tears and flung her arms around his neck.

“Be careful,” he said, giving J.R. a pointed look over her head. “You’re carrying precious cargo.” He finally drew her back by her slender shoulders and scanned her features. “What happened to my tough, no-nonsense sister?” His thumb rubbed a stray tear that fell down her cheek.

“She’ll be back in a few months,” J.R. quipped as Clement released Darah and she moved back into her husband’s arms. Placing a hand over his wife’s protruding stomach, J.R. smirked and earned himself a dig in his side from his wife’s unrelenting elbow. He grunted in reply. “My bad, she never left.”

Darah clucked her tongue and turned back to face her older brother. Her brow furrowed slightly, concern etched in his face. “When do you leave?”

Clement pocketed his hands, one fiddling with car keys. “In a week.”

“Will you get to talk with Eli before you go?”

Again Clement and J.R. exchanged a look before he looked down at his sister, giving her a gentle smile. “Give him some space, D… he’s figuring things out.”

That was not at all what she wanted to hear. Darah frowned. “We’ve given him space. It’s eating Abe alive and I just wanna shake—” she paused when J.R.’s hand rested on her shoulder.

“Relax,” her level-headed husband of a few months said gently, his hand kneading the tension between her shoulder blades. “Like Junior said, he’s figuring things out… and Abe understands that.”

“Well I don’t,” she shot back, impatience clear in her tone.

“That’s because you’re not a man… thank God,” Clement quipped and flashed his frustrated sister a smile. Then his gaze shifted over their heads to the security line. “You better get going. The line’s long.”

The tension eased from Darah’s face and she glanced over at the security line. Whipping her head to J.R., she nodded before looking to Clement. “We have to go.”

“I know,” Clement dead-panned and accepted yet another hug. He laughed when she held on a moment longer, leaving J.R. to wrestle with her two carry-on bags and the roll-on suitcase. It was Darah’s first international trip and her naive excitement was definitely showing. “Get going, Squirt.” He pressed a kiss to her temple and released her.

Her gaze stayed on him even as she followed J.R. toward the line. “Be careful on your way back.”

Clement merely smiled and waved to both, then once both were addressed by the stern-faced TSA agent and Darah had to turn away, Clement finally dropped his hand. Still, he waited until they’d been cleared and sent down the priority check line, thanks to Darah’s heavy pregnancy and J.R.’s connections. It didn’t take long before they were cleared at the other side and he caught J.R.’s face and waved. With a sigh, Clement finally turned away and headed for the bathroom before driving home.

“Okay,” Karen breathed a sigh, adjusting the strap of her bag on her shoulders. She turned away from the security line and faced the crew of family members standing before her. She smiled at their expressions conflicted. “This is it. Smile a little, it’s just a vacation.”

“A long vacation,” Deidre Wells grumbled, stepped forward to adjust the stiff neck of Karen’s caftan blouse. Her eyes swept over her youngest daughter’s face, a furrow appearing in her brow. “You have your passport and medical card?”

Karen refrained from rolling her eyes. Instead, she patted the pocket of her jeans jacket. “Got it right here, Mama. Relax.”

“How can I when this is your first international—“

“Dee, take it easy,” Gabriel Wells said, placing a sustaining hand on his wife’s shoulders. His eyes crinkled in the corners as he gave his daughter a smile. “She’ll be fine.”

“Thanks for the confidence, Dad.” She smiled when he winked and then shifted her gaze to her sister who looked ready to weep. “Oh Lord,” Karen muttered in mid-laugh. “Not again.”

Samina Wells-Chance sniffed and shook her head. “Sorry, I can’t help it.” She too stepped forward and threw her arms around her youngest sister’s shoulders. “Call us when you arrive.”

“At my layover or final destination?” Karen asked, staying in Samina’s arms for a moment longer than usual. As her mother mentioned, this was her first trip abroad and to Africa, no doubt. Despite her bravado, she was nervous and somewhat afraid of what waited for her.

“All cities, Karen,” Deidre said in a voice that brooked no argument. Her daughters disengaged from their embrace and Deidre stepped in when Samina moved toward her father, resting her hand on her slightly-protruding stomach. Deidre squeezed Karen in a tight hug and Karen made a face over her shoulder, invoking a chuckle from both her father and sister.

“I’ll be fine, Mom,” Karen said, careful to keep exasperation from her tone. “I’m not a teenager.” And just as she said that, a young boy sauntered past them with no entourage of teary-eyed mother and sister to escort him. Karen watched as the boy confidently approached the stern-faced TSA officer, presenting his passport and ticket before walking forward after receiving permission to continue.

She sighed, releasing her mother. “Stop worrying. Besides…” her eyes skittered over Samina’s pregnant belly. “You’ve got two and a half grandbabies to worry about. By the time I get back, my third niece or nephew would be here.”

Samina made a face. “Don’t remind me.” She sniffed and ducked her face against her father’s shoulder. Gabriel smirked and wrapped an arm about his first-born’s shoulder, pulling her close.

“Oh brother…” Karen rolled her eyes heavenward. “I better go before this one starts crying again.”

“I can’t help it!” Samina protested, sniffling.

The intercom beeped and an announcement about international flights sounded over the speaker. Gabriel met Karen’s gaze and nodded. “You better get going.”

Karen nodded, grateful that her father wasn’t as emotional or she would’ve cried too. As much as she was excited about this long-awaited planned trip, her stomach was in tight knots of anxiety. What if she was making a mistake going on her own? Maybe she should’ve waited for Samina to deliver and then plan for the two of them to go together. Topher had already volunteered to plan his work travel around their plans so he could stay with their two kids while Samina traveled… so why couldn’t she wait?

“Make sure you take pictures,” Samina said, pulling Karen out of her reverie.

“And keep your phone on,” Deidre said pointedly, still adjusting Karen’s collar.

Karen managed not to roll her eyes. “Mom, that’s Samina not me. I always have my phone on…. Besides, international calls are expensive, so I’ll just send emails instead.”

“We’ll take care of the bill,” Gabriel inserted firmly and Karen could only smile. Her father didn’t say much about her going on this long pilgrimage to the Motherland, but she knew he was in support even though he worried as the others did.

“Thanks Daddy,” she said gently, earning a wink from him. Then drawing a breath, she smiled through the frazzled nerves. “Okay, I better go.”

“You have everything you need? Cash, calling card, your contacts?” Samina asked, proving fretting was in her blood.

Karen merely nodded. If she was in their shoes, she’d probably be just as bad. “Yup,” she said confidently, patting the breast-pocket of her jacket. After another round of hugs and kisses for everyone including her unborn nephew/niece, Karen finally turned toward the TSA agent who eyed her curiously.

“First trip out of country,” he drawled while checking her ticket.

“Yup,” Karen answered with no reaction to his obvious censure. Collecting her documents, she nodded her thanks as he directed her to the long line of people waiting to unload their bags and get scanned. Tamping a sigh, she turned back to look at her family one last time. “Say hi to everyone for me.”

“Will do,” Samina promised, parking her hands on her stomach. “Love you.”

“Love you too.” Karen smiled, her heart warmed as she watched them blow her kisses and winks before they ushered her pregnant sister away. Ignoring the pang in her chest, Karen drew in a breath and turned to face the front. Standing on her tiptoes, she quietly counted the people in front of her and fought a groan. It would take at least thirty minutes before she would reach her gate terminal. Shaking her head, she lowered her heels and lifted her phone from her pocket to browse her email.

A few minutes later, someone tapped her shoulder. Karen glanced up and behind her, eyes wide in surprise. “Clement,” she said and smiled in greeting. “What are you doing—you’re leaving already?”

Clement’s smile was warm and visible since he’d shaved the beard he had for months. She could clearly see his handsome face, most especially his youthful features. “Not yet,” he said in that deep melodious voice that matched the twinkle in his eye. “But I see you’re on your way.”

Karen smiled demurely, patting her breast pocket for her passport. “That I am.”

His smile turned crooked and his deep-brown eyes did a sweep of her face. Feeling subconscious, Karen arched a brow. “So what are you doing here?”

“Just dropped off the newlyweds for their long-awaited honeymoon.”

Karen laughed softly, inching a bit when the line finally started moving. On the other side of the barricade, Clement also inched forward. “Oh that’s right,” Karen replied with a smile. “I forgot they’d wanted to wait a bit because of Mr. Obed. How is he?”

“He’s fine,” Clement answered easily of his in-law. “He’s inherited my meddling—I mean doting sisters so he’s in good hands.”

She held a hand over her mouth, trying to contain the giggle. “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that slip up.” She inched yet again and Clement took another step.

He bowed his head slightly though his twinkling gaze never strayed from hers. “How magnanimous of you.” His eyes then shifted over her head and he straightened. “I think it’s your turn.”

Just like that, the anxiety rolled over her in waves. Karen swallowed and she looked to the young teenager standing next to her. “Excuse me, you can go ahead of me.”

Clement’s brow arched as she allowed four more people to skip her in line. “When’s your flight?”

Karen bit her bottom lip as she fumbled with her passport, the ticket almost dropping if not for her quick hand to catch it. “Uh… in two hours.”

He searched her features. “You nervous?”

His gentle voice made her pause and she nodded, expression chagrined. “A bit.”

Clement’s searching eyes should’ve made her squirm, but it didn’t. After two more curious travelers passed Karen, he pulled his hands from his pockets and held them out to her.

Karen blinked at his open palms and then at his face. “Hmm?”

“Give me your hands for a minute,” he said, tone patient.

With only a moment of hesitation, Karen slowly placed her hands in his. She drew a breath when his long fingers closed around her palms and she peeked up at him, almost forgetting to breathe when she saw that his eyes were closed! Was he about to do what she thought he was about to—?

“Our Father in heaven,” Clement began, his voice gentle and warm as it was the day he officiated his sister’s wedding ceremony in their family’s backyard months ago.

Moments later, Karen’s eyes fluttered open to his and she whispered a soft ‘Amen.’ His dimpled smile stole her breath away and for a moment, Karen forgot where they were… or the anxiety that once rolled violently in her stomach.

He squeezed her hands before releasing it. “God speed on your journey.”

Karen gave him a smile and before she could think to regret anything, she closed the distance and wrapped her arms around him. “Thank you,” she said, closing her eyes as she held on for another moment, wanting to prolong the time and the peace his prayer and presence had gifted her.

Struck by the surprise embrace, it took only a few seconds for Clement to return the hug. He kept it brief, squeezing her shoulder before releasing her. “You’re welco—”

His eyes widened when she pressed a kiss to his cheek. Tongue-tied, Clement watched as she drew away and flashed him a smile. He still didn’t say anything, standing there with his mouth propped open as she maneuvered her way through the gate toward the impatient TSA agent that barked for her passport and ticket. His brow furrowed, feeling annoyed by the agent’s treatment but when Karen peered back at him to wave, he straightened.

“Take care!” they said at the same time, and Karen giggled. “You too!” she called out, waving once more before hurrying to the next shortest line.

A bemused smile quirked his lips as he watched her pull off her sneakers and place them on the conveyor belt. He couldn’t help but chuckle when she forgot to put her phone on the conveyor belt and had to be instructed to do so. Clement shook his head as she took it all in stride, not frown in place.

His grin deepened when she successfully made it through the scanner and did a fist pump when it didn’t beep.

“Cute,” he muttered and stretched a bit to see her pass through the gate until he couldn’t see her anymore. Then Clement finally turned away, heading for the exit towards the parking garage. He had only a few hours left in the day and his first stop was dinner with baby brother Eleazar.

On the short trek to the garage, Clement dialed his brother’s cell and waited. After the second ring, it went straight to voicemail. Frowning, Clement pulled back the phone to stare at the screen.

“Something’s wrong, Junior,” Darah had complained on the way to the airport, fretting as she always did when it came to their youngest brother Eleazar. “I swear, ever since he moved in with his grandmother he’s been acting dodgy and it kills me.”

Clement’s mood darkened as he ducked into the car. He’d been against Eleazar getting close to his biological grandmother, mother to a woman who had abandoned him at the foot of a church dumpster days after his birth. Though the older woman insisted that she would’ve stopped her daughter from abandoning Eleazar so cruelly and causing years of trauma, Eleazar couldn’t separate her from her cruel daughter who at least had the decency to die soon after her unforgivable crime.

He dialed the number again. His fingers curled around the steering wheel, thinking about the woman who put a rift between him and his brother. Though he’d been absent for a few years and the distance could be blamed for the strain in their once-tight bond, Clement blamed the elderly woman for why Eleazar now avoided his adopted family and treated them with a cool attitude whenever he came by to visit his nephews and nieces.

Clement slammed a fist against the steering wheel when the call rang four times before going straight to voicemail. Summoning what patience was left, Clement waited for the beep to leave a message.

“Eli, I leave in four days. Call me as soon as you can.” He swallowed hard. “I love you, bro…” Then with a sigh, he disconnected the call and tossed it to the passenger’s seat before reversing from the parking spot. For now, all he could do was wait and pray.

Unfortunately, Clement was not a paragon of patience.

<<Cover Page || Chapter 2>>

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Lighthouse, Chapter 22

Posted on 19/08/2016

“But…” L.J.’s eyes skimmed her face when Darah looked up. “He loves you.”

Her breath caught at the words. “He does?”

His expression turned quizzical. “You didn’t know?”

Dazed, Darah shook her head.

“You’re certainly are an odd one.” L.J. coughed and drew in a raspy breath, his brow furrowed in pain.

Alarmed, she reached out. “My God, are you okay?”

He held out a hand to ward her off. “Calm down before they hear you.”

Settling back in her seat, she warily eyed the prongs in his nose and the mask resting on his chin. “Are you sure you should be discharged?”

“Not you too,” he groaned as he lay back against the pillow. Then he sighed. “I hate hospitals.”

“Not many like ‘em.” She eyed his taut features. He wasn’t good at hiding much of anything, including pain. She motioned to the oxygen mask he wasn’t utilizing. “Maybe you should wear that.”

He didn’t even blink. “And maybe you should hush…”

Darah drew a hand over her mouth like a zipper. Relief loosened her shoulders when his lips twitched a smile. Maybe J.R.’s father could be charmed after all.

“Anyway, I’m sure you already know about J.R.’s mother.”

She sobered. “Hana told me about her.”

His brows raised, then shrugged. “Yeah, well it’s been a while since we had a woman in the house.”

“Except Hana.”

“Not counting Hana… she’s family.”

Ignoring the painful twist in her gut, Darah managed a smile. “I know she’s your pick for J.R.”

“Marrying Hana or anyone else…” he grimaced, unable to mask his discomfort. “… is his choice to make. I only make suggestions based on my experiences. It’s what parents do.”

She wrung her hands together. “Well, he values your opinion.”

“A bit too much, but that’s my fault.” L.J. muttered, fidgeting gingerly. “Ugh… I really hate this bed.”

Darah hurried to his side and ignoring the weight of his suspicious stare on her face, she fluffed his pillow before returning it behind his head.

“Thank you,” he mumbled as she took her place at the foot of his bed. “Where was I?”

“You’re welcome. And J.R.’s valuing your opinion being your fault…”

“Right,” he played with the rubber of the oxygen mask. “Well, it’s been a struggle for me to let him make choices for himself… and now I wonder if I haven’t held on too long.”

Darah nodded, knowing the gist of it all.

“I’d always assumed I’d live to see him get married and have kids.” His cursory gaze swept over her. “To live and bounce my grandchildren on my knee, and tell them stories of their heritage.”

Her shoulders tensed under his probing stare and she tightened her clasped hands.

“I guess I’d forgotten life can be unjust at time—” L.J. drew in an uneven breath that caught in his throat. His brows furrowed and alarm flitted in his features as he choked on the breath. The sound of the cough that left his mouth was violent and harsh, the sheer pain of it deepened the lines in his brow. He gasped for air, hand moving to his throat.

Frightened, Darah jumped to her feet. “I-I’ll get the nurse.” She hurried out the door before he could stop her, not that she noticed as she barreled down the hallway.

Nurse Karen turned the corner just as Darah hurried toward it. She grabbed Darah’s shoulders, chuckling. “Whoa, you okay?”

Heart racing, she gestured over her shoulder. “Please help. He can’t breathe.”

The woman’s amusement fled as her eyes drifted over Darah’s head. She brushed past Darah toward the room, and Darah didn’t follow, hurrying around the corner in search of J.R. and Hana.

She found them standing just inside the conservatory windows that overlooked the garden. Clement was nowhere in sight and from their identical stances, Hana and J.R. were in deep conversation. She bit her bottom lip, hesitating to interrupt them. Then the alarm in L.J.’s eyes propelled her forward. “E—“

“What will he say once he finds out?” Hana stifled Darah’s words.

“I don’t know,” J.R. answered in a strained voice. He was clearly exhausted.

“I know,” Hana countered. “He’ll be against it, especially since it’s not even your child.”

Darah’s stomach turned violently and she shifted from view when Hana turned her head to glare at J.R.

“What are you thinking, Bhaiyaa?”

Curiosity of J.R.’s thoughts temporarily outweighed Darah’s urgency to inform him of his father. So she stalled, waiting and dreading his response.

J.R. sighed heavily. “I don’t know.”

Darah’s brow furrowed. What didn’t he know?

“Are you really thinking of marrying her?”

J.R. was silent a little too long and Darah bit the inside of her cheek a little too hard, drawing blood. Her pulse thumped violently in her throat as she stared at his back and broad shoulders.

Hana sighed heavily. “Maybe I shouldn’t say this—”

“Then don’t.”

Darah glared at Hana. The woman was meddling more now than before she knew Darah’s little secret.

J.R. sighed, dragging a hand through his hair. “Look, it’s complicated.”

Darah frowned at the back of J.R.’s head.

Hana snorted. “Well it’s about to get more complicated, Bhaiyaa. Are you really going to let Uncle think the baby’s yours? And what if the father wants to be part of the baby’s life, can you handle the drama?”

With each second J.R. remained silent, Darah grew more troubled. Blood pooled in her mouth as she gnawed the inside of her cheek, eyes stinging with tears that threatened to spill, her stomach in gnarled knots. His hesitance condemned her for putting him in such an awful predicament; having to tell his dying father that the woman he’d chosen was having another man’s baby. She could imagine the horror and disappointment in L.J.’s eyes, and the hurt and shame in J.R.’s.

Darah took a step back, losing courage to announce herself. She was the bad guy in the story—the villain dashing L.J.’s dreams of beholding his grandchildren and seeing his bloodline through his only son. And every time J.R. would gaze at her son, he’d feel cheated and resentful. The thought of J.R. resenting her hurt more than the pesky ache in her stomach.

Taking another step back, Darah decided against revealing herself to the couple. They didn’t need to know she’d come for them, and Nurse Karen was more than capable of stabilizing J.R.’s father.

Suddenly Clement opened the door leading to the garden and stepped inside, greeting the couple with a smile. When he spotted Darah standing by the column, he started to call out to her.

Putting one finger to her mouth, she shook her head adamantly, pleading with him not to call her out.

Noticing Clement’s furrowed brow, J.R. turned in the direction of his gaze.

Darah ducked behind the column, heart pounding violently in her chest. If he knew she’d been standing there and overheard their conversation, he’d feel even more shame. She didn’t want that for him.

“What is it?” J.R. inquired gently.

“Uh, it’s nothing.”

Darah released the breath she didn’t know she’d been holding, and a solid tear slid down her cheek.

“What are you still doing out here? Thought you’d be heading back.” Clement asked.

“Darah’s still with Uncle,” Hana answered. “So we’re giving them privacy.”

Wiping the tears with the back of her hand, Darah slunk away before Clement’s could respond. She’d make her decision now. J.R. didn’t deserve to bear the shame and pain of what she’d done.

“I see…” Clement spotted Darah trudging away and frowned. He’d noticed the sadness in Darah’s face, as if she’d been gutted. Something was wrong. He returned his attention to J.R. “Well, I better go see about her before I head back. The family’s wondering if she stay with you or come with me.”

Deciding to keep his opinion about that decision unspoken, J.R. simply nodded.

Hana placed her hands to her hips. “It’s not advisable that she stay here in her condition. Expectant mothers need as much rest as possible, don’t you agree Reverend?”

At the look of alarm on Clement’s face, J.R. nodded. “It’s okay, we already discussed it.”

Clement frowned. Was the discussion the cause of Darah’s shell-shocked expression? He turned to J.R., gaze wary. “You told her?”

“Actually,” Hana spoke up before J.R. could. “I figured it out on my own and confirmed with your sister.”

His frown only deepened as she confirmed his concern for Darah. He tamped a weary sigh. “Yeah, you’re right, Doc. I better get my pregnant sister home then.” Cutting J.R. a withering glance, Clement brushed past them to go after Darah.

The three found Darah standing outside the door to L.J.’s room. Clement scowled as Darah kept her head bent, hiding her face. No doubt she was crying.

Concerned that she was outside and not with his father, J.R. stepped forward. “What’s wrong?” He glanced toward the door and then back at her. “Did something happen?”

Clement frowned as J.R. placed his hands on Darah’s shoulders. “Why don’t you go find out about your old man first? I’ll handle my sister.”

J.R. hesitated, looking at Darah’s bent head. Her silence was unsettling, more so than her taut shoulders that drew in defensively when he touched her. His heart skipped a beat, afraid of what his father might have said to her? “What happened?”

Hana stepped around him to open the door, and gasped at the sight of the doctor and nurse by L.J.’s bed. “Bhaiyaa, come quick.”

At the panic in Hana’s voice, he looked up and spotting the somber expressions awaiting him inside, he released Darah’s shoulders.

Clement came to stand by Darah as J.R. stepped inside and closed the door. Then he placed a hand on her shoulder, feeling it tremble against his palm. “What happened?”

This time, Darah let out a whimper and leaned her forehead against his chest. Clement swallowed a sigh and wrapped his arms around her.

“Can we go home now?” her voice was faint, reminding him of the nights when she had terrible nightmares as a kid. “Please?”

The soft plaintiff made him tighten his hold around her. “Alright, let’s go.”

J.R. frowned at his sleeping father’s form, wondering what went wrong. The niggling thought of a morose Darah standing outside the door crossed his mind. “I thought you said he was stable. What happened?”

The doctor nodded, expression somber. “It seems the edema is taking its time to clear up. The oxygen levels are gradually increasing, which is good, but we’ll have to monitor him a bit more closely.”

His shoulders sagged. “So his discharge date…”

“We’ll have to postpone that for now.” The doctor glanced down at his patient. “His immune system is a bit compromised, so we’ll have to watch for infection also…”

The calmer of the two, Hana nodded and placed her hand on J.R.’s shoulder. “Thank you Doctor.”

Nurse Karen stalled after the doctor left the room, then she turned to the couple with a wan smile. “He’ll be fine, he’s in good hands. I’ll be praying for you.”

J.R. nodded listlessly and lowered to the chair beside his father’s bed, staring at his mask-covered face. Just when he thought his father was getting better, bad news re-surfaced. He dragged a hand over his face and let out a weary sigh.

“Thank you for catching it on time,” Hana said, her hand still resting on J.R.’s shoulder.

“Oh, it wasn’t me. The fiancée Darah found me first,” Nurse Karen responded. “She was a bit shook up, so I immediately knew something was wrong.”

J.R. looked up, surmising why Darah trembled in his arms. He was instantly reminded by the Teka siblings’ deeply-rooted aversion to hospitals. Just like him, they’d had their fair share of traumatic events and didn’t need another to remind them of their painful past. Maybe it was best for Darah to return with Clement than staying here with him. As much as he needed her now, she was better off at home with her family. Resolved, he turned to Hana.

She nodded with a half-smile. “I’ll check on her.”

He sighed as Hana stepped out, then arched a brow when she returned with a frown on her face.

“She’s gone,” Hana answered, hand on the doorknob. “She and her brother.”

His phone then dinged and vibrated at his hip. Fishing it out, he answered Clement’s call. “Hello?”

“Don’t worry about Darah. I’ll take her home.”

J.R. swallowed the lump in his throat. “Alright.”

Without another word, Clement disconnected the call and J.R. lowered the phone to his thigh. Part of him was relieved, part of him disappointed with the news. Deciding to worry about Darah later, he shook out of it to ask Nurse Karen the next steps in his father’s recovery.

In the car, Clement lowered the phone to the cup-holder and exhaled deeply. “You alright?”

In the passenger’s seat, Darah had her face to the window and kept silent.

When she sniffed back tears, Clement reached up and patted her head. “It’s okay. You’re okay.”

Unfortunately, his words offering no balm to Darah’s aching heart. The decision that awaited her would be the hardest one she would have to make, probably harder than her decision to keep the baby. More than anything, she dreaded and resented the resolution altogether.

Darah closed her eyes tightly shut, pushing one last tear down her cheek.

<<Chapter 21 || Chapter 23>>

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