Posts tagged “crushes

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 45

Posted on 26/05/2015


Deidre had one last moment of rebellion as she took in the too-brilliant smile Ezekiel gifted her daughter. He started to pull back Samina’s chair, intent on sitting beside her. Topher was rounding the table to sit by Jeremiah.

“Uh, Zeke,” she spoke up, ignoring the warning in Sheena’s glare. “Why don’t you sit by your father?”

Topher stopped short. Samina’s eyes flew to his.

Jeremiah snorted, pulling his chair out. “No need for that, Dee. The kids are fine where they are.”

“Indeed,” Sheena clipped out with a stiff smile on her lips.

Deidre clenched her jaw and squinted at her friend.

“Actually, Topher,” Gabriel spoke up, gesturing to the chair on his left. “Come sit here so we can get acquainted.” He met Deidre’s gaze and offered her a half-smile.

Deidre blinked at his wary smile and though they had much to settle between them, she answered with one of hers.

Jeremiah raised a brow. “What’s with the musical chairs? He’s fine where he is.”

“Ooh, musical chairs!” Beulah cooed as Ezekiel helped her onto her chair, boosted up by a cushion or two.

The adults shared a chuckle, Topher catching the gentle smile Samina cast on Ezekiel’s little girl before he looked away. Deidre didn’t miss this and lifted her stubborn chin. “I insist. Ezekiel?”

The man noticed her raised brow and his knotted in consternation. “Uh, well…”

Karen sighed and nudged Ezekiel aside. “I’ll switch with him, no problem.”

Obadiah frowned at the now-empty seat by him. He glanced over at Topher. “Let’s sit together. You play basketball?”

Sheena pouted. Deidre preened as Ezekiel trudged to the seat across from Samina. Gabriel and Jeremiah glanced at each other and smirked.

Topher smiled as he moved to take the empty seat. “A little.”

“You look like a basketball player,” Karen said. “You’re tall enough.”

“He’s not that tall…” Adelaide muttered and all eyes turned to her. She shrugged her bony shoulders nonchalantly, although her critical gaze swept over Topher. At the mature age of nine, she could read people very well. She knew when her father was unsure or nervous. Like now, fidgeting in his seat, with his jaw clenching and unclenching. All because the tall stranger made Auntie Sammie stare like he was the only person in the room. Immediately she didn’t like this guy.

Then he turned to look at her. “You’re right, Adelaide. I’m not that tall.” Topher gave her a smile that almost blinded her.

She blinked.

He winked and she felt her cheeks warm.

Adelaide looked down. “Laide…” she mumbled shyly.

Both Ezekiel and Samina gaped as Adelaide furtively glanced at him through lowered lashes. Samina raised both brows. So Topher’s exuberant charm extended to reserved adolescents also?

“Maybe you’ll join me and a couple of guys later for a game or two?” Obadiah asked, taking a sip of his water. “We’d love to have you on our team.”

Gabriel cleared his throat before Topher could answer. “Let’s say a prayer first. Some of us are starved.”

Ezekiel sought Samina’s eyes after the quick prayer but she dutifully kept her head bowed for an extra minute. He smiled. Her devotion for God was incredible. His heart warmed with pride that she could be his one day.

Leaning into Karen, Beulah giggled as Karen wiped a smudge of mashed potatoes from her cheek. Ezekiel smiled but Karen purposely avoided looking his way.

“So, yeah you will?” Obadiah nudged Topher just as he began to eat.

Jeremiah chuckled. “Obad, let the man eat first.” He winked at Topher before cutting into his ribeye steak.

“I thought you were heading back to Canada…” Samina spoke softly, finally lifting her gaze to his.

Ezekiel frowned. Sheena and Deidre both raised brow at her forlorn tone. Gabriel leaned into his seat.

Topher paused at cutting his own steak and looked up. “We will… Any day now.”

Feeling the full attention on them, Samina lowered her eyes. “I see,” she answered stiffly and remained quiet.

Jeremiah frowned. “Nadine, how is she?” His gaze skittered over Gabriel’s face, noting the tension between his eyes.

Topher kicked a shoulder. “She’s on the mend.”

“I should visit her before you two leave.” He gave Topher a smile and returned to eat his food.

“Why Canada?” Gabriel spoke softly.

Topher took his time chewing, mulling over the question. “Nadine said my fath—Maurice worked there.” He shrugged. “I guess he prepared a place for her there.”

Gabriel nodded, his features solemn, thoughtful.

Jeremiah sighed but didn’t say anything else. No doubt the two friends thought of their dead friend and all they’d missed over the years.

Again, Topher’s gaze collided with Samina’s. She offered him a smile, albeit wobbly and unsure. This time, he just stared back instead of looking away, sorrow plain in those striking grays of his.

She swallowed hard as her heart skipped a beat. Oh how lonely he looked, even surrounded by people. How she wished to reach across the table and grab his hand and—

“So Zeke,” Deidre spoke up. “How’s house hunting?”

Samina’s face lit aflame and she broke eye contact instantly, mortified that she’d forgotten where they were.

“We saw a purple house!” Beulah piped up, flashing her toothy smile. “Daddy said we’ll buy it.”

Ezekiel smiled indulgently. “I said we might, Bumblebee…” His warm gaze skittered over Samina before returning to Deidre. “We’re working on it.”

Samina dipped her chin, training her eyes on the steak and potatoes on her plate. Her heart was hammering in her breast and she would’ve held a hand to her chest if not for the hawk-eyes trained on her.

The lunch ended with no incidents and the men stood from the table, grunting their appreciation. Topher quietly stacked his dish over Obadiah’s. Deidre brushed his hands aside. “You’re a guest. We’ll take care of it. Go watch the game with the men.”

“Nadine’ll have my hide if I let you clean up after cooking. I’ll do it.” Topher granted her a smile that warmed all the women’s hearts all over. Even Sheena couldn’t help but grin.

Obadiah wrinkled his nose but followed suit, stacking a few plates and trudging after Topher to the kitchen.

“What a nice young man,” Deidre cooed, openly admiring the broad-shouldered man standing by the kitchen sink. “He’s not afraid to do housework. He’ll make a wonderful husband.”

Sheena snorted at her pointed words and folded her arms.

The rest of the men grunted. “And what are we, chopped liver?” Jeremiah countered good-naturedly, nudging Gabriel on the shoulder.

“Maybe I’ll marry him,” Karen teased as she wiped Beulah’s cheek.

Samina frowned as a pang tingled her insides. She avoided her mother’s eyes.

“You’re too old!” Adelaide protested, the adults chuckling softly.

Sheena laughed a bit too loudly and gathered her oldest granddaughter in a hug. “I think you have competition, Karen dear.”

Karen grinned audaciously at Adelaide’s blazing eyes challenging her. “Is that so?”

“You’re too young.” Ezekiel smoothed a hand over Adelaide’s puffy hair. He glanced once at Topher and Obadiah, his brow drawing a frown that persisted long into the evening.

Hours later, Samina trudged out onto the driveway beside him, smiling as Beulah and Adelaide raced to their car. She drew in a breath as Ezekiel’s fingers sought hers. Glancing once at his shadowed features, she noticed the absent smile on his face and stopped short. “Hmm?”

Ezekiel grabbed her other hand, lacing their fingers together as he came to stand before her. “You alright, Sam?” The pad of his thumbs brushed her palms.

She avoided his perceptive gaze even under the dim light of the half moon. “Uh-hmm…” was all she could muster for even if she wasn’t okay, there was no way she could disclose the reasons for her jumbled thoughts. It wouldn’t be fair to him.

He inclined his head closer, attempting to peer at her face. She held her breath, only releasing it when he leaned away. “I would kiss you if not for the faces pressed against the front window of your house.” He chuckled as Samina jerked her face up. “Oh, who cares?” Ezekiel leaned forward and planted a peck on her lips.

Samina jerked back, more surprised than she should’ve been.

He raised a brow, smile unrepentant. “What?”

She drew in her lips as his eyes focused on them. No doubt her parents, his parents, her siblings and Topher watched them from the window. Her stomach did a somersault, stealing away her breath. Topher. What if he saw? What would he think?

Ezekiel tugged one hand free and brushed back stubborn tendrils of hair that tickled her cheek. “I hope I’m not moving too fast for you… am I?”

Samina just stared as he tucked the hair behind her ears, his fingers brushing the skin of her nape. She stiffened her shoulders. “And if you are?”

He raised a brow, fingers paused. “I am?”

She looked over her shoulder at Beulah bouncing in the backseat, a frowning Adelaide wagging her finger in protest. One corner of her lips lifted in a wry smile. “I don’t know.” Her mother questioning if she was ready to be anyone’s mother plagued her thoughts more today than before. Although she loved Ezekiel’s daughters, Samina wondered now if she really could step into the role of stepmother. Her chest tightened.

“Sam…” Ezekiel’s gentle voice drew her attention. His smile was missing. “You know I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want, right? You know I respect and love you, don’t you?”

Samina searched his face, knowing the lines of his face that she’d memorized over the years. This was the face of the man she’d loved for all her adolescent life. She’d dreamt of being his wife, the mother of his children. Could she give up this chance just because of a passing fancy?

Ezekiel squeezed her hand, a ghost of a smile twitching his lips. “You do, don’t you?”


He smirked. “Love me too, right?”

Samina bit the inside of her cheeks. She did, didn’t she? Breaking eye contact, she leaned into him and pressed her forehead against his shoulder. “Yeah…” Topher was just a passing fancy. He’d leave town and she’d never see him again, and her conflicted heart would finally settle on what it really wanted. Ezekiel. Right?

An hour after Topher left the house with Jeremiah and Sheena tailing, Samina sat up in her seat and gaped at her parents. “What did you just say?” There was no way she heard him correctly, yet her heart pounded violently.

“We’re going camping,” Gabriel repeated, not breaking eye-contact.

“With everyone.” Deidre grinned from ear-to-ear, though not as keen on adventure as she was on potential time to set her plans in motion. “Jeremiah and Sheena are fine with it and Ezekiel will take time off since he’s the CEO of his company. The girls will love it too. Finally some summer time fun.”

Karen shrugged. “It might be fun, Sammie.”

Not really. Samina shook her head adamantly, missing the conspiring smile shared between her mother and sister. “Okay, camping with the Dames family is fine… But why is Topher invited?”

“Why not?” Gabriel frowned. “This trip was planned with him in mind.”

Her heart flipped over. If her father came up with the idea, there was no way she could protest now. Samina groaned inwardly.

“Before he and Nadine leave the country,” Gabriel continued. “It’ll be good for us to connect with him. Let him know he’ll always have family here.” His Adam’s apple bobbed, his eyes glistened with unshed tears. “I’d like to do this, Samina. And I want you all to be there too.”

Obadiah smiled approvingly. “I’m with you Dad. Topher’s cool.”

“Isn’t he?” Karen grinned in reply, folding her arms. “It’s a great idea, Dad.”

Deidre rubbed her husband’s back. “I’m sure Nadine will appreciate you making amends this way… His parents would’ve too.” She met his eyes and gave him a smile.

The odd man out, Samina quietly struggled with this charitable act. How could she spend a weekend in the company of two men who made her heart and mind constantly confused and bothered? Pushing out a breath, Samina slumped into the seat.

Ezekiel was just as conflicted, except he openly rejected the idea. “I can’t afford to go camping. We’re in the middle of a negotiation deal.” He scowled, tossing a pair of rolled socks into the duffel bag. “Like whoever came up with this inconvenience?”

James smirked knowingly from where he stood, watching his best friend grow more agitated. “Inconvenient because you’ll have to trust me completely to figure things out on my own, or inconvenient ‘cos you’ll have to date Samina under watchful eyes… or is it something else?” His lips twitched as his friend’s face darkened, fully aware of the new dilemma. Another man in contest for Samina’s heart.

“All of the above.” Ezekiel forcefully shoved a pair of cargo shorts in the bag.

James sputtered in laughter and once Ezekiel hurled him a warning stare, he snuffed it out quickly. Clearing his throat, he schooled his features. “And what makes you think this guy’s worth your concern?”

Ezekiel frowned. “I don’t know… I just… do.” He rolled up a jacket and shoved it into the bag. “It isn’t just the way he looks at her that makes me mad. It’s…”

“You’re worried that your jealously is warranted.”

It was times like this that Ezekiel wished his long-term friendship with James wasn’t so strong. The man could read him too well.

“Samina loves you, Zeke. She always has. Just because some guy passes her fancy doesn’t mean her feelings for you will change.” James smirked. “You gotta give it to her, man. For how many years, she’s only ever loved you.

Ezekiel swallowed hard. He should’ve been warmed all over at the thought of Samina loving him for so long. He should’ve been strengthened with confidence that this Topher fellow wouldn’t make her waver. But he was worried. He really was.

“That’s the problem…” He met James’ concerned gaze. “I don’t think this is just some passing fancy.”

James rolled his eyes. “Then you better step up your game.” He nodded when Ezekiel raised a querying brow. “You never really had to try winning Winsome over. She only had eyes for you, lucky son-of-a-gun.” He shook his head incredulously. “I don’t know why. I’m better looking.”

“Your modesty’s pretty impressive too,” Ezekiel answered dryly.

“Isn’t it?” James flashed him a grin. “In any case. If this guy’s making Samina’s heart waver, you’d better show her why it shouldn’t.”

Ezekiel frowned. “What are you suggesting?”

James snorted. “I can’t spoon-feed you forever. Woo her.” He raised both bushy brows. “The right way, this time.”

The right way… Ezekiel bit the inside of his cheeks, brow drawing a frown in deep thought. Was there a right way to win Samina’s heart completely?

Nadine eyed Topher warily. “So you’ll go then?”

He silently traced lines on her wrinkled palms.

With his head bent, she could only stare at his stubborn curls and imagine him as a boy, asking for permission to play with friends till sundown. Nadine pushed out a sigh. “Is this really what you want?”

Topher nodded.

Even without looking at him, seeing deep into his solemn gray eyes, Nadine knew he wanted this. He was curious about his father and who knew him best were his only friends, Jeremiah and Gabriel.

“And even if you see Samina…” Nadine paused when his fingers stilled. Her heart ached, recalling the solemn way he told her about Samina loving another. “Won’t it hurt being close to her?”

He didn’t lift his head once, didn’t answer with a grunt or a sigh. And Nadine knew then why he said yes.

More than knowing about his father and mother, Topher realized that this would be the only time he’d see Samina before leaving for Canada. He’d resigned in himself, most likely after the lunch at her place, to let her go. It was in his eyes when he came home that evening; that he’d decided to give her up.

Nadine lifted her free hand to his head, the soft curls of his head tickling her palm. She didn’t need to say a word and he didn’t ask for it. This was the only way she knew to comfort him. To comfort a man who had given his heart away.

<<Chapter 44 || Chapter 46>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 11

Posted on 17/03/2015


Gabriel warily eyed his friend over the car hood and huffed a breath, causing Jeremiah to peer up at him. “You went back, didn’t you?”


“The day we saw Odetta, you went back.” Gabriel scowled when something resembling guilt flickered in Jeremiah’s black eyes. “Fool. What were you thinking?”

“It wasn’t her.” Jeremiah lowered his gaze, rubbing off dirty oil from his palms.

Gabriel clenched his jaw, squinting at Jeremiah. “What are you saying? We both saw her.”

“I checked,” Jeremiah argued. “There was no one named Odetta on the guest list. It wasn’t her.”

His firm tone left no room for argument and Gabriel glared at him.

Jeremiah sighed and resumed the inspection under the car hood. In increasing annoyance, Gabriel stepped away from the car and walked to the half fence by the driveway. He frowned, watching an elderly woman push a baby stroller across the street. “When will you go to Abbeville?”

Jeremiah wiped the sweat from his eyes. “Probably next week. Why?”

Gabriel didn’t respond at first and Jeremiah looked over his shoulder, taking in his friend’s taut shoulders.

“It wasn’t her, Gabe,” Jeremiah insisted gently.

“I hear you.” Gabriel didn’t sound convinced.

Mildly affronted but not in the mood to argue, Jeremiah grunted low in his throat and returned his eyes back to the car hood.

“What a strange woman,” Ada scoffed, adjusted the black lace belt over her satin gown. “Sure she has a close relationship with Jax, but to treat me like I’m not worthy to marry him is just too much!”

Samina smiled sympathetically. It seemed even after a day, Ada could still not shake off the indignation she felt under Ms. Nadine’s open criticism. “I’m sure Jaxson made her see your many good qualities.”

Ada rolled her eyes. “I don’t need her adding more stress to my already-stressful life.”

Samina managed a smile.

“Maybe we should’ve waited a few months,” Ada mumbled, smoothing the satin over her almost-flat stomach. “Planning a wedding in six weeks is no joke.”

“You’re doing fine,” Samina said, earning her a grateful smile from Ada.

Ada fluttered her fingers to the row of dresses in the corner. “Check out your dress. It’s the peach one on the right.”

Samina turned to the rack of frilly gowns and her stomach clenched slightly. There was only one in a sea of blue dresses that could be remotely resemble the peach Ada claimed. Except that it was a tangerine chiffon.

“What do you think of your gown?”

Samina smoothed a hand over the soft chiffon and blinked up at Ada. “Interesting.”

“Interesting? For as long as I’ve known you, interesting isn’t a good word.” Ada then dropped her arms, squinting at Samina’s shoulder. “What’s wrong with it?”

Samina’s eyes widened. “I didn’t say anything was wrong with it. I just…”

Ada scoffed and looked down, assessing her generous curves into the satin white dress.

Thankfully, a saleswoman moved into the room with a smile that froze as Ada turned toward the mirror. With one worried glance at Samina, she ushered forward, plastering a smile on her face. “Can I help you, Miss?”

Ada turned her back to both women. “Help me zip this up.”

Both Samina and the saleswoman exchanged glances. The zipper gaped open with little room to work around and both women approached Ada slowly.

With Ada fidgeting and the saleswoman’s complexion paling by the second, Samina brushed her hands aside and stepped in front of the zipper. As the saleswoman gripped the gaping ends of the dress, Samina tugged on the zipper. They both breathed a sigh only after Samina secured the hook at the top of the dress.

Both stood back and studied Ada’s curvy form squeezed in the satin white gown.

“It’s beautiful!” the saleswoman gushed, clasping her hands together.

“No, it is not,” Ada said between clenched teeth as she shimmied against the taut material of the gown. She threw a desperate look in Samina’s direction. “Do something!”

The saleswoman paled. Samina sighed. “It’s alright, Ada… We’ll figure it out.”

“Don’t worry.” The saleswoman stepped forward and tugged gently on the bodice. “It’ll fit perfectly once we do the final fitting.”

“This is my third fitting! How many do I need to get?” Ada pushed her hands aside and pulled at the embroidered bodice.

Samina and the poor saleswoman grimaced as the beading along the bodice popped out.

Ada’s face crumbled. “What am I gonna do? I’m getting married in less than two months!”

Samina held back a sigh and held her tongue. “It’s a beautiful gown.”

“Yeah, beautiful gown that I can’t wear.” Ada’s lips trembled and she turned to the nervous saleswoman. “I don’t like it and I don’t want it.”

The saleswoman swallowed hard, beads of perspiration dotting her forehead. “But w-we can let it out a little. This type of shape fits your figure.”

“I said I don’t like it.” Ada swiftly turned back to Samina. “I look like Ursula from the Little Mermaid, don’t I?”

Samina’s tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth at the look in Ada’s eyes. Though her friend was naturally curvaceous, Ada was a disciplined eater except during extreme stress. No doubt planning a wedding with little help only exacerbated her habitual late-night eating and snacking. She swallowed hard, struggling for a diplomatic response.

Just then, a fast melodious tune interrupted her thoughts, playing over the chamber music. Samina recognized her ringtone and jerked her attention to her purse on the chair.

Ada scowled and crossed her arms over her chest.

“Hold that thought,” Samina said, hurrying over to retrieve her phone. Her eyes widened in surprise at Ezekiel’s name flashing on the screen.

“Sammie, pick it up.”

Samina flipped open the phone and held it to her ear. “Hello?” she answered hesitantly.

There was a slight pause before Ezekiel replied. “Sam?”

His warm baritone made her cheeks tingle. She gripped the phone tightly and managed to reply. “Yes, hello…”

“Hello. Is this a good time to talk?”

Samina peered over to see Ada and the saleswoman both facing the mirror, assessing the dress. “Uh, well…” Samina hesitated, knowing Ada desperately needed her. But her curiosity kept her on the phone, wondering why Ezekiel was contacting her after such a long stretch of silence between them. “Not really…”

“This dress is beautiful on you,” the saleswoman protested in a calm voice despite Ada’s increasing agitation. “Most brides can’t pull off this look. I assure you.”

Samina caught Ada’s eye in the mirror and managed a smile she hoped would encourage her friend.

“Oh wow…” Ezekiel mumbled. “I did call at a bad time.”

Samina watched Ada’s brow only furrowed. Her smile waned. Ada’s state-of-mind was more important at this moment. “Hey, let me call you in a few hours?”

“Yeah sure, Sam. That’s not a problem.” Ezekiel sounded winded. “Call me when you’re free. I apologize for the interruption.”

“I’ll call you later.” Samina quickly disconnected the call and shuffled over to Ada’s side.

Ezekiel stared down at his phone, unsure he heard correctly. The words dress and brides stirred up images of Samina draped in resplendent white and his chest tightened uncomfortably.

“I come bearing gifts!” James strode into the room, toting a box in his arms. With a smug grin, he placed the box on Ezekiel’s desk. “Courtesy of Goodwin. The meeting went well as we predicted. Congratulations.”

Turning slowly, Ezekiel only regarded the crate of food in silence.

“Uh-oh,” James muttered, his smile waning. “What’s eating you?” He pulled out a box of take-out and placed it before Ezekiel. “I thought you’d be jumping for joy. We get to keep their business.”

“Great,” Ezekiel muttered in a lackluster tone that raised James’ brow and stirred his curiosity.

James took the seat opposite Ezekiel and opened his own box of food. “What gives?” He reached for a pair of chopsticks, snapping it open.

“I think I’ll rescind the job offer to Sam.”

“The nanny position?” James eyed him curiously. “You found someone else?”

Ezekiel shook his head, trailing the plastic spoon over the rice and meat.

“Does she not want it?”

“It’s not about her. I don’t want it…” His unsettled stomach churning, Ezekiel swallowed the food.

“You don’t want what?” James lowered the chopsticks into his box of noodles.

Ezekiel caught the knowing glint in James’ eyes and shifted in his chair. “It doesn’t matter…” Pushing out of his chair, he moved to stand by the window overlooking the city.

James smirked. “Since you came back from Houston, you’ve been acting strange…”

“Don’t even…”

James chortled at Ezekiel’s warning tone, tickled that his uncanny observation. He wasn’t Ezekiel’s best friend for nothing. Rising to his feet, he jaunted over to Ezekiel’s side and peered out the window. “You’re curious about her, aren’t you?”

Ezekiel clenched his jaw. He could already see where James was going and didn’t like it one bit. “That’s ridiculous.”

“Admit it, Zeke. I know you are.”

“Impossible.” He steeled himself at the vision of Samina surrounded in white, her smile radiant and alluring.

James turned to face Ezekiel. “We’ve been friends since high school. Witnessed all your past crushes and relationships, your dumb insecurities and whatever foolishness you’re working through in that block head of yours.”

Ezekiel squinted at him.

James grinned, unapologetic. “Look, It’s obvious when something or rather, someone is bothering you.”

Ezekiel dragged his gaze to the window.

“Samina’s got you all bothered?”

Ezekiel stiffened and he stepped away from the window. “You’re delusional.” He didn’t have time to deal with any confusing thoughts of his childhood friend. Sitting back down in his chair, he peered down at the phone.

James chuckled softly. “It’s funny how the tables have turned.”

“What are you yapping about now?”

James merely shrugged, moving back to his seat. “Somehow, between your trip to Houston and now, you’ve been defensive about your feelings for Samina.” He shook his head incredulously. “Just like she was back in the old days.”

“I am not defensive about her, because I don’t have any feelings. I barely see her for that to be the case…” He trailed off, catching the rest of James’ remark. “What do you mean she was like that back in the day?”

James grabbed his food container, a triumphant smirk lifting his lips. “I’m surprised you didn’t know.” He watched Ezekiel fish out a piece of meat to his mouth. “Sam has always had the biggest crush on you.”

Ezekiel choked on the chicken and his eyes swung back to James’ face.

James nodded eagerly. “Yup. For as long as I remember, she’s always liked you…”

Ezekiel swallowed the offending piece of meat, his brow furrowed deep. He couldn’t have possibly heard correctly. “Repeat that? Who liked who?”

<<Chapter 10 || Chapter 12>>

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