Posts tagged “Choices

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 27

Posted on 27/04/2015

ehredt

Deidre had no idea how to phrase her concerns to Sheena but she had just a few seconds to figure it out before the dial-tone stopped ringing.

“Dee?” Sheena’s weary voice droned on the other end, jerking Deidre from her jumbled thoughts. “Is everything alright?”

Guilt seized her windpipe, nerves dancing. “How are you?”

“As well as we can be…” Sheena sighed. “Please talk about something cheerful. How is the fam?”

“We’re fine.” Deidre bit her bottom lip. “Sheena, let me ask you something. I’ll need your honest answer.”

“As if there was any other kind.” Sheena stifled a yawn. “Go ahead.”

Deidre shifted in her chair. “It’s about Ezekiel… And Samina.”

Sheena inhaled sharply.

Deidre gripped the phone, nerve slipping. “Y’know what, never mind. This was a mistake. I should’ve waited until—”

“Wait!” Sheena protested. “Dee, wait a minute. What do you mean?”

Deidre cringed, trying to figure out the best way to backpedal out of the mess she’d put herself in. “It’s nothing… Really, it was just a silly thought.”

“It can’t be if I’m thinking of it too.”

Deidre froze. “Huh?”

Sheena laughed softly. “Dee, that’s why you’re my best friend. Girl, we think too much alike.”

“Wait what? I…” Deidre swallowed. “What do you mean?”

Sheena giggled, her uninhibited joy prickling Deidre’s jumpy nerves. “Isn’t this great? It’s what I’ve been praying about for a long time. Dee, isn’t it wonderful? Your daughter and my son, in love. Finally!”

A strangled noise escaped Deidre’s throat and she bit it back, not wanting to alarm Sheena. “Finally…?” she breathed, incredulous.

“Of course he’s denying it but it’s so obvious,” Sheena gushed openly. “The moony stares and the forlorn sighs when he thinks we’re not looking.”

“We?” Deidre raised a brow, imagining the twinkle in Sheena’s eyes.

“Let’s just say I caught them being cute together.” Sheena giggled. “Oh gosh, Dee. Can you believe it? My son is in love with your daughter. It’s about time!”

Once they bid their goodnight, Deidre lowered the phone back on its cradle, Sheena’s words ringing in her ears. Ezekiel in love with Samina? After all this time?

At the chapel that following Sunday, Deidre struggled against rising indignation as she caught Ezekiel’s eyes travel down the aisle. Looking for Samina, no doubt.

Her lips pursed as Ezekiel’s gaze connected with hers. When he flashed her a smile of greeting, she forced one of her own and looked away.

At her side, Gabriel raised a brow at her. Deidre rolled her eyes. It was none of his business; especially if he didn’t divulge the reasons for why he fought with Jeremiah.

Shrugging Gabriel shifted to face the front stage. She wrinkled her nose in displeasure and turned her attention forward.

“We must put off any sign of judgment for our Christian brother and sister,” the senior pastor spoke on. “We might not have gone through the same set of troubles or tribulations, but in God’s eyes, we’re the same. Wretched, poor and lost.”

The crowd murmured their collective agreement. Deidre squinted her eyes at him.

“At the end of the day, the person you sit next to deserves your respect and love. Love thy neighbor as you love thyself, that’s what the Word says right?”

Squelching any reaction caused by the pastor’s words was difficult and she fidgeted with her Bible. Then the image of Samina weeping for her unrequited feelings stirred up indignation greater than any remorse or guilt.

She knew more than anyone what damage could be caused when someone pined over a lost love. Sneaking a glance at her husband’s profile, her jaw tightened.

Steeling her spine, Deidre made her decision. She would not sit back and watch her daughter waste years pining for a man who didn’t notice her until now. It hurt too much.

“What’s wrong with you?” Gabriel’s hushed voice tugged her to the present. “You’re daydreaming during the sermon?”

“No. Everything’s fine.” Deidre bit her bottom lip, her mind working out a plan.

“Hold on a minute, Laide.” Ezekiel tamped down aggravation as Adelaide pulled him toward the exit doors. He peered over his shoulder, eyes darting across the lobby for any sign of Samina. No luck.

“Papa,” Beulah whined, tugging at his other hand. “I’m hungry.”

Her voice like frigid water over his senses, doused his feverish search for Samina. Ezekiel jerked his eyes to her cherubim face. “Didn’t they feed you in Sunday school?”

She looked away guiltily. “I don’t like ham.”

Ezekiel snorted in disbelief. “Since when?”

Adelaide sniffed, mouth pursed in distaste. “Ham sandwiches are disgusting.”

“Apparently.” He rolled his eyes. His daughters were becoming too picky for his liking. “Alright then. Let’s stop at the pancake house before going home.”

“Awesome!” Adelaide grinned wide. Beulah danced beside him as they walked down the church steps toward the parking lot.

He grinned, leading them down the crosswalk. “You’re too spoiled for your own good—Aunty Dee,” he said in the same breath, spotting Deidre Wells walking up to him. “Good afternoon.”

Deidre nodded, eyes sweeping past him to gaze down at his daughters. Her warm smile was reserved for them.  “Hello girls. How are you?”

Adelaide and Beulah merely blinked at her.

Ezekiel laughed nervously. “Girls, this is Grandma’s best friend, Gramma Dee.”

“She’s our grandma too?” Beulah asked innocently.

Deidre breathed out a laugh. “Oh heavens, no!”

Ezekiel’s smile waned at her fierce reply.

She bent, meeting Beulah’s eye-level, and smiled gently. “Why don’t you call me Aunty Dee?” She turned a pointed look at Ezekiel. “Lord knows I’m not quite ready to be anyone’s grandmother.”

He was rendered speechless at her unwavering gaze; as though she’d caught him doing something very wrong.

“Are you Aunty Sammy’s mom?” Adelaide asked, nudging their attention to her.

Deidre’s gaze bounced to Adelaide. “Yes I am.”

Beulah bounced on her heels. “I like Aunty Sammy. She’s nice.”

“Indeed she is and so are you.” Deidre tapped Beulah on the tip of her nose, earning her a giggle.  Then she straightened, regarding Ezekiel solemnly. “Zeke, we should have a talk.”

“Yes, of course,” he forced through dry lips. “Girls, get in the car and strap up. I’ll be just a moment.” He released their hands and watched them walk to the car before turning back to Deidre’s unwavering stare. For some reason, he felt like she’d inspected him through and through, finding him wanting. He summoned a breath. “Is… everything alright?”

Deidre managed a smile. “It will be, Ezekiel.” She tilted her head slightly, eyes studying his face. “How long has it been?”

“How long?” his brow knotted in confusion though his mind had a clue what she was inferring. His shoulders tensed.

“Since Winsome.”

His gaze darted to the girls fidgeting in the car. “Five years…”

Deidre clicked her tongue piteously. “What a pity. She would’ve been proud to see you and the girls.”

He couldn’t answer, couldn’t look at her.

“I know how much you loved her.”

This time, her gentle voice nudged him to look at her. Ezekiel blinked at the warmth belied in her brown eyes and his Adam’s apple bobbed uncomfortably. “I…”

Then suddenly, her fingers reached for his. Gripping it tight, stealing his breath at her beseeching gaze. “But it’s time to move on, Zeke… Don’t you think?”

Ezekiel couldn’t speak. He just stared dumbly.

Deidre smiled warmly. “You could love again, find happiness again; not only for your daughters but for you.” Her gentle gaze caressed his face like a mother’s would.

He swallowed hard, realizing that she was as encouraging as his had been about moving on. Finding love again. His heart flipped over. Was she giving her permission to court Samina? Did he dare hope?

Then Deidre released his hand, though the warmth of her smile remained with him. “You never know who your heart might be open to.”

Ezekiel smiled. Yep, she was hinting as his mother did. “Yes Ma’am.”

Deidre’s lips curved. “Do you have any… prospects?”

His face heated under her astute gaze but he dared not look away. “Maybe.”

Surprisingly, her smile waned slightly. Her brows lifted. “Really?”

“Yes Ma’am.” Ezekiel nodded. He wanted to ease her nerves, convince her that she didn’t need to worry but only once he’d settled things with her daughter first. “Is… Sam around?”

She stiffened; the movement was hard to miss.

Ezekiel frowned. “I-Is she okay?”

Deidre’s smile was forced this time. “She’s fine. On a vacation right now.”

He raised his brows. “A vacation?”

She kicked a shoulder and crossed her arms. “Yes, vacation. She took off last night and she’ll be back in a week. Why?”

“Oh, it’s nothing.” He tamped down the pangs of disappointment that he’d have to wait a week. As Deidre bid him a good day and walked away, Ezekiel let out a whoosh of breath.

What was a week to wait if he could have the rest of his life to love Samina?

Time to love again… his heart fluttered in his chest as he made his way to the car.

The cool air skittered along her arms and she clenched her fingers together. In the thin hospital gown, she shivered.

It felt strange sitting in this empty room, waiting to be led into the surgery room. Around her, she could hear families encouraging their loved ones and felt a pang of sadness that she was alone.

If she’d told her family, Deidre would be weeping uncontrollably and her father would be pacing behind the curtain, tension etched on his face.

Samina shook her head, clearing the image. It was better this way, she told herself, squeezing her fingers together. The surgery would be a quick one and she’d be home before anyone could question her absence.

“I’m doing the right thing,” she muttered softly.

“Are you?” her doctor pulled back the curtain and came to stand by her bed.

Samina managed a smile, her nerves jittery and unsettled. She pressed her clenched hands to her midsection. “Is it… my turn?”

Dr. Halliday’s gaze was gentle, sympathetic. “Are you ready?”

Apprehension gripped her throat, rendering her speechless. For a moment, Samina wished she could’ve asked one person to come. Tears filled her eyes and she blinked them away, hitching her chin. “I’m ready.”

<<Chapter 27 || Chapter 28>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 26

Posted on 24/04/2015

stuff

Samina groaned as the melody of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ filled the gym room. She placed a hand on her hips. “Do we have to do this?” She needed to get rest before her surgery tomorrow.

“What’s with the look, Sammie?” Ada teased. “You don’t wanna dance?” She shimmied to Jaxson who eyed her in open amusement.  “Ohh, I wanna dance with somebody…” She draped her arms on Jaxson’s shoulders and swayed her hips to the rhythm.

“Really, Ada,” Samina pushed out an exasperated sigh, hands planted on her hips. “How could this be the bridal party song? You’re supposed to pick something slow and romantic—” she swallowed a gasp as Topher took her hand in his and tugged her to his side.

“Relax, Samina.” He smiled. “It’s her wedding after all.”

“How right you are,” Ada tossed over her shoulder and giggled as Jaxson took her around the room for a spin. “This is the perfect song.”

Samina bit back a retort when Topher placed a hand against her back. Face on fire, she directed her gaze to his right shoulder.

“Put your hand on my shoulder. I won’t bite you.”

“I wanna feel the heat with somebody,” Ada mimicked Whitney’s contralto, tossing her dark bob as Jaxson spun her around. “C’mon, loosen up.”

“Might as well, Sammie.” Jaxson tossed Samina a grin. “She’s got the song on repeat and won’t quit until you give in.”

Samina stifled a groan and placed her hand to Topher’s shoulder. “Just one dance,” she informed with a stern expression.

Topher nodded. “Yes, Ma’am.” Then he guided her around the dance floor.

An hour later, Samina accepted the bottle of water Topher extended to her. Twisting the cap, she tilted her head and swallowed a gulp of the cool liquid.

Ada dabbed her forehead with an engraved towel and grinned at Samina from across the car hood. “Now, wasn’t that fun?”

“I’m not sure if that’s exercise or a dance recital,” Topher drawled, taking a swig of his own water.

“It wasn’t bad,” Jaxson piped in, draping an arm around Ada’s shoulders.

“Of course it wasn’t. We got our steps to match and put in a good workout too.” She grinned unapologetically. “Sounds like a win-win to me.”

“Not if we already worked out,” Jaxson mumbled, earning him a quelling stare from his fiancée. He cleared his throat and tossed his head back for a gulp of water.

Samina snuck a peek at Topher’s biceps, her fingers recalling the solid cords of muscle as she held onto him during the dance. It was almost like she floated on air when he spun her around, light on his feet, like he’d done this before.

“Ready?” Topher’s voice broke through and Samina peered up at his handsome face shrouded by shadows.

Heat shot through her cheeks and she blinked at the amusement dancing in Ada’s eyes. She’d been caught daydreaming. “Uh…”

“The car’s this way,” Topher gestured to his left.

“Right.” She turned to Ada, accepting her friend’s quick hug.

“Call me tomorrow,” Ada said, releasing Samina. “We’ll talk.”

Samina didn’t have the heart to mention that she’d be out of pocket for the next week. “Goodnight.”

Once they parted ways with the engaged couple, Topher and Samina strode over to the dark Audi parked across the street.

“Did you have a good time tonight?” Topher asked as they drove down the quiet street. “You seem a little tuckered out.”

She shrugged. “Maybe a little. I just need to lie down.”

“I completely understand. Ada’s a little too excited about this dance.”

Samina snorted. “A little?”

Topher chuckled. “But she was happy to see you. She missed you.” He tossed her a glance. “We all did.”

She quietly faced the window, eyes stinging.

“I don’t mean to rush you, but—“

“Then don’t.” She curled her fingers into her palms, holding her breath and hoping he’d leave well enough alone. She couldn’t think about anything but her surgery for now.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

Samina’s shoulders relaxed and leaned back in the cushioned seat. In the companionable silence, she made plans. Excuses for her family once she returned. They’d wonder at her absence, probably be angry that she left without notice. But it was better than face the terrifying backlash that she’d undergone surgery without telling them. She squeezed her eyes shut and released a breath. For now, she’d focus on praying for peace and a safe surgery. Her family’s wrath, she’d deal with later.

“Looks like your sister has a visitor.”

Samina’s eyes snapped open and she squinted at her driveway. She sat up in her seat, her heart skipping a beat. “Oh no…”

“What’s the matter?” Topher put the car in park behind the minivan. Her mother’s.

Eyes on the lights in the condo window, Samina quickly unbuckled her seatbelt and pushed open the door. “Thanks for the ride. Don’t worry about walking me to the door.”

“Wait a min—Sam—!” the rest of his words were muffled by the car door closing.

Samina could already hear her mother’s clear soprano as she stood by the front door, saying a little prayer before she stepped inside.

“Hey Sis,” Karen greeted her by the door. “I was just about to call…” she peered over Samina’s shoulder at the shiny Audi parked behind their mother’s minivan. “Who?”

Samina grabbed Karen’s arm and jerked her away from the door. “Not a word,” she warned in a low tone.

“What?” Karen blinked. “Mom said she’d be stopping by. I figured you were out with your friends. How’d it go?”

“Stop talking,” Samina mumbled, peering over Karen’s shoulder at the empty hallway. “Where’s Mom?”

Karen placed her hands on her hips. “By the way, your bags are packed. Are you still babysitting those kids? I thought you’d stopped.”

“Will you stop it already?” Samina snapped. “Mind your business, Karen.”

“Hello?” Deidre’s voice echoed in the hallway, frowning at her two daughters glaring at each other. “What are you conspiring about?” She opened her arms and stepped forward

Samina turned to face her mother with a wavering smile. “Good evening, Mom…” she stepped into Deidre’s embrace.

Karen caught her mother’s confused look over Samina’s shoulder and shrugged.

“I wasn’t expecting you,” Samina confessed as Deidre released her. “Is everything alright?”

“Honestly,” Deidre scoffed incredulously. “Does anything have to be wrong before I come visit my girls?” She hooked an arm under Samina’s, steering her first daughter toward the living room when the doorbell rang.

Samina stiffened against her. Please no… No!

Deidre peered over her shoulder as Karen hurried to the door.

“Oh hey Topher,” Karen greeted cheerfully.

Samina squeezed her eyes shut.

Deidre gaped at the tall, handsome man filling the door with his imposing frame. “Oh…my.”

Topher smiled in greeting. “Hey Karen.” He gave Deidre a smile, eyes skimming over Samina’s back turned to him. He lifted a leather purse. “Just bringing this for Samina.”

Samina turned her head, face flooded with heat. She’d forgotten her purse!

Karen grinned, accepting the bag. “Thanks.”

He smiled in kind and dipped his head slightly. “Have a good night.”

“You too,” Karen chirped, closing the door as Topher turned away from the doorstep.

Deidre quietly tugged a wooden Samina to sit beside her. Karen trailed behind.

Samina perched on the seat her mother patted beside her, eyes trained to the floor. The silence in the parlor was so thick; she could cut it with a knife.

“So…” Deidre began. “How was your outing?”

Samina pinched the hem of her skirt. “Fine.”

“Hmm, seemed like it was more than fine…”

Karen muffled a cough in her shoulder, evading Samina’s eyes.

Samina scowled. “What did you say?”

Karen’s eyes grew wide as tea saucers; a picture of innocence. “I didn’t say anything, I swear!”

“Yeah right,” Samina retorted. “You can’t keep your big mouth shut for anything.”

Deidre rolled her eyes. “Samina, that’s enough. Don’t bully your sister.”

Samina glared at her sister, her mouth pursed tight, her body trembling with pent-up frustration. It was certainly a good thing she didn’t tell Karen about her surgery. The entire church would’ve probably shown up at her doorstep if she had. Samina rolled her eyes, irritated to distraction.

“Since I hate beating around the bush, who was that man?”

Groaning, Samina shot to her feet. “Mother, please!”

“What?” Deidre blinked, looking every bit as innocent as Karen. “What did I say?”

Karen sighed petulantly. “Honestly, Sammie. Why so catty tonight?”

Samina hissed. “Do you two ever quit?”

“Sit down, Samina,” Deidre said firmly. “What’s the matter with you?”

Throwing an exasperated glance to the ceiling, Samina dropped to her seat and folded her arms across her chest.

“Explain this fierce reaction you’re having. Now, young lady.” Deidre’s stern expression brooked no argument.

“Don’t listen to Karen,” she clipped out, glowering at her younger sister. “He’s just one of the guys in the wedding.”

“Just one of the guys, huh?” Deidre nodded her head in understanding. “So he’s the Christopher Chance, the best man and your date for the wedding.”

Samina whipped her head to glare at Karen.

Karen lowered her head.

“What didn’t you tell her?”

Deidre’s brow furrowed. “Sammie, why are you so defensive about him? Shouldn’t you be at least flattered that he’s interested in you?”

Samina rolled her eyes. “He’s not interested in me, Mother.”

“Is that right? That’s not what I heard.”

“My God, Karen!” Samina stood again, jabbing a finger in Karen’s direction. “This is why I can’t tell you anything.”

Karen stiffened, leaning away from her sister’s offending finger.

“Relax,” Deidre tugged Samina’s sleeve, pulling her back to her seat. “Your sister’s just excited for you. And frankly, so am I.”

Samina dragged a hand down her face. She needed to lie down. Now.

“You’re messing up what little makeup on your face, dear.” Deidre held onto Samina’s wrist. “Anyway, he looks like a very nice young man. Tell me about him.”

Biting back a moan, Samina met her mother’s expectant gaze and took a deep breath. “There’s not much to say. He’s Jaxson’s best friend who I met five years ago. He’s the best man and that’s it.”

“Actually, there’s more,” Karen inserted, ignoring Samina’s heated stare. “Ada told me he’s crushed on Samina since the first day they met.”

Samina scowled. “That’s a lie…” even her protest didn’t sound convincing to her own ears and she bit the bottom of her lip.

Deidre gestured Karen to continue and at the end of Karen’s detailed account of the handsome gentleman who had eyes for her first daughter, she was practically jumping in her seat over Topher’s intentions to pursue Samina. “Very interesting…”

Samina shook her head in despair, wishing her bedroom door was close enough for her sneak away before the onslaught of questions forming in her mother’s mind.

“So let me get this straight,” Deidre drawled. “There’s a gorgeous, kind and attentive man wanting to court you and you’re hesitating because…?”

“Thank you, Mom!” Karen piped, wrinkling her nose when Samina sent her a scathing glare.  She sat back, arms folded.

Samina then sighed, too tired to argue with either of them. “It’s complicated.”

“What’s complicated about that? He wants to get to know you. So let him.”

She shook her head, the side of her temples throbbing. “It’s not that easy.”

“Why?”

“She still loves Zeke,” Karen inserted softly.

Samina inhaled sharply, jerking her eyes to Deidre’s.

“What?” Deidre squeaked out, sitting up in her seat. “Who? Ezekiel Dames?!”

The horrified look on Deidre’s face was too much to bear. Samina looked away.

Karen nodded solemnly. “It’s true.”

Deidre gaped at her daughter’s profile. “Samina, still? After all these years?”

She could hear the censure in Deidre’s tone. Tears welled up in her eyes.

“But he’d been married for eight years. Sam—” Deidre’s voice oozed with disbelief. “There is no way you could’ve harbored your feelings for that long.”

Feeling the judgmental stares boring into her, Samina drew in her shoulders. Tears rolled down her cheeks, overwhelmed with embarrassment and sadness.

In college, she’d avoided dates with men and declined attending social events for fear that a guy would ask her out. She was that loyal to Ezekiel. Years passed as she lived that way, holding a torch for him while he made a family with his college sweetheart. Her throat clenched up, realizing now that she was a social failure at thirty years old and now that Topher expressed his intentions to court her, she didn’t know how to let him.

Deidre shook her head. “This can’t go on, Samina. You can’t continue like this.”

Samina bobbed her head stiffly, vision blurred with tears. “I know…”

Both Deidre and Karen blinked in surprise at Samina’s soft reply.

“Huh, what?” Karen asked dumbly, expecting protests instead.

Samina summoned a breath, releasing it. “I know I should let go of my feelings for Zeke.”

“Do you think you can after all this time?” Deidre’s question was soft, sympathetic.

Lifting her eyes to the gentle look in her mother’s gaze, Samina wanted to weep. There was no reproach, only love. Samina nodded. “I will. I have to.”

Both Deidre and Karen sighed in collective relief, watching Samina swipe the stray tears on her cheeks.

“Oh, Sammie,” Karen scooted off the couch to kneel beside Samina. She grabbed hold of her sister’s hand and squeezed it tight. “You can do it.”

Samina managed a watery smile at her sister, letting herself be embraced by both mother and sister.

Deidre wrapped both arms around her daughters; her heart breaking at the sounds of Samina’s muffled sobbing against Karen’s shoulder.

As much as she wanted to believe Samina intended to release her feelings for Ezekiel, she knew firsthand that a person’s heart often rebelled against his will to change, to move on from a past love.

Her jaw tightened in resolution, knowing she had to do something about Samina’s heartbreak as soon as possible.

“Everything will be okay,” Deidre said gently, rubbing Samina’s trembling shoulders. “I promise you…”

<<Chapter 25 || Chapter 27>>

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