Posts tagged “crushes

Sanctuary, Chapter 8

Posted on 24/06/2017

“But that was mean, Karen. Wasn’t there a better way to let him down easily?”

Karen rolled her eyes, sidestepping a man struggling with his roll-on luggage. “I already said no many times, and he still didn’t get it. What else was I supposed to do?”

“Threatening to bust his face should’ve been your last resort, if that.” Samina sighed. “I keep forgetting what a gangster you can be when provoked.”

“Well that’s not fair,” Karen countered, stepping around a column toward the terminal. “Why is it that men don’t get any flack for rejecting someone but women get labeled picky or gangster for saying no? Don’t I get a say who I want having access to my life?”

“No one says you can’t decide on who gets to be in your life, Kare-bear,” Samina said in a placating tone. “I’m merely making an observation that you get overly aggressive—“

“Aggressive,” Karen scoffed, slowing to a stop. “I’ll let anyone else call me that but not you. As my sister who should know me well, that word was uncalled for.” She ignored the curious stares from passersby. “I am not aggressive.”

“Okay fine, not aggressive.” Samina heaved a sigh. “Why the excessive reaction to guys? Don’t you think it’s high time you settle down?”

“No you didn’t,” Karen said, resuming her walk to the assigned gate. “You of all people shouldn’t be saying that to me. Weren’t you the one hopelessly single at age 30?”

“And I remember you saying the very same thing to me, pushing me to give Topher a chance.”

“So you’re returning the favor?” She stopped again, putting her free hand at her hip.

“I’m encouraging you to be flexible. If you really opened your eyes and looked around, the man of your dreams could be right in front of your face…”

Against her better judgment, Karen’s gaze roamed the airport terminal. It fell on a man standing near a phone charging station near her gate. Her heartbeat skipped at the familiar broad shoulders and physique of the man standing there, head bent as if studying his phone.

As Samina continued her soliloquy on meeting her husband when she least expected it, Karen recalled the unexpected encounter with Clement Teka at the airport. His easy smile and kind eyes appeared before her mind’s eye and Karen swallowed hard. Although it’d been weeks ago, she could still the solid warmth of his hands holding hers. She could feel the roughness of his shaven cheek against her lips and immediately drew the bottom lip between her teeth.

“Hello, Karen?”

Karen stepped out of her reverie though her eyes remained on the man’s back. From where she stood, it certainly looked like Clement. Her pulse tripped. But what would he be doing in Kenya? Was he on another assignment?

“Karen?”

Suddenly, a young boy crashed into the man’s legs and Karen drew a sharp breath as he shifted, his face coming into view. Her shoulders sagged in disappointment at the man’s unfamiliar face. Definitely not Clement Teka.

“Karen!”

Drawing out a long sigh, Karen turned toward the gate for her flight and started walking again. “Yeah, I’m here…” she muttered, begrudging the roller-coaster ride her heart experienced at the fake Clement. She’d gotten excited for nothing.

“Did you hear a word I said?”

“Pardon me for not listening to how you met Topher for the umpteenth time. Remember I was there throughout the whole process, right?”

“You’re such a brat…” Samina scoffed. “And for your information, I was asking about the missionary guy you mentioned a while ago. Clement I think it was.”

Karen rolled her eyes as his name sent her heart skipping a beat. Perturbed, Karen spotted the nearest empty chair and perched on it. “Yeah so, what about him?”

“Oh boy,” Samina said, mirth in her voice. “You’ve got a problem with him too?”

Crossing her legs, she leaned into the chair and eyed the monitor with flight listings. Her flight to Kampala was still listed as delayed. She tamped a sigh. “Just not understanding what you’re getting at.”

“When will you get to see him? You’re heading over to Ethiopia next right?”

“I’ll see him soon…” But not soon enough in Karen’s opinion. She sat up abruptly, alerting a woman and her child sitting across from her. “Oh crap.”

“What?”

Karen glanced over at the man who was now crouched in front of the boy. The fake Clement wore a smile that reminded her of the gentle smile that lit the real Clement’s face. She bit her bottom lip, mulling over what she’d just felt—what she hadn’t felt in such a long time.

“Karen, hello?”

Realization hit her like a slap in the face. At thirty-three, Karen had her fair share of boyfriends and almost-relationships to know what she now experienced was a budding crush on Clement Teka.

“Oh man.” She let out an incredulous laugh and shook her head, unaware of the attention she drew around her. “Oh man…”

“Okay, you’re scaring me. What’s going on?”

Karen placed a hand over her mouth, smudging the fresh stain on her lips. “I like him,” she whispered, wonderment in her tone.

“Like who? The slimy soccer guy?”

The question darkened Karen’s mood and her expression. “Heck no.”

“I’m joking…” Samina giggled. “Well duh, you couldn’t stop talking about him after your patient’s son’s wedding.”

“Really?” Karen arched a brow. “Me?” She hardly gushed about anyone.

“Uh-hmm. So what are you gonna do about this Mr. Clement guy?”

Karen shrugged and crossed her legs. “When I see him, we’ll go from there.”

“Or you could call now and check up on him. Find out how he is. You still have his card right?”

“Now that’s an idea!” Karen smirked. “This marriage life’s sure made you gutsier, Sammie.”

“Oh shush. Call him first and then call me afterwards.”

“Hey, I’m not gonna confess or anything—”

“Good luck!”

“Sam, it’s not—this woman.” Karen sighed at the dial-tone signaling the end of the call. She then groaned and hit her forehead with her hand repeatedly. “You’re too old for crushes, Karen. Get it together.”

“Mommy…”

Karen peeked around the phone to see the woman eying her skeptically while holding her timid child hiding under her arm. She swallowed a scoff and pushed back thick braids to reveal the Bluetooth earpiece. Then clicking her teeth when the woman averted her gaze, Karen stood and prepared to leave.

“Hey Karen!” a familiar voice called behind her.

Turning around, Karen watched Jennifer jogging toward her, hands full with souvenir bags. She arched a brow as the young woman came to a stop and bent over, gasping for air. “You okay?”

“Good,” Jennifer swallowed a breath and straightened to her full height. She flashed Karen a smile. “I thought I was gonna miss the flight.”

“It’s delayed for a few hours,” Karen replied dryly.

Jennifer’s brow furrowed, her smile disappearing. Something flitted in her eyes that had Karen eying her warily. The undecipherable expression eased away as Jennifer’s smile returned. “Oh well… We’ll get there eventually. Uh, excuse me, ladies room.” And without a word, she spun about her heels and hurried off with her luggage and souvenir bags toward the nearest bathroom.

Karen merely turned in search for a quiet corner to mull over the newfound discovery of her feelings for Clement. A few hours would be enough time to understand why the kind yet mysterious missionary intrigued her.

“This is crazy!” Priscilla protested and turned to toward the desk under the window where Clement sat with his back to her. “By far the dumbest plan I’ve ever heard! Worst than the last one even.”

Dula frowned in deep concentration while affixing a dusty-looking wig onto Clement’s head.

With both men ignoring her, Priscilla scowled and rounded the desk to inspect Dula’s handiwork on Clement’s face. What she saw only made her scowl deepen. “And is the mole really necessary? It looks too fake.”

“If you’re here to run your mouth and criticize, just leave.”

Dula paused at Clement’s cold tone. Priscilla steeled her spine. “Don’t you see how stupid this whole plan is? You’re fooling no one with this sorry attempt of a disguise.”

Clement slanted a withering glare at her and then at Dula. “Why’s she in here again?”

“She does makeup better than me,” Dula replied with a shrug, holding a brush to the synthetic curls.

“Anyone can do it better than you.” Priscilla snatched the brush. “Move.” Although he was physically stronger than her, Dula willingly stepped aside much to Clement’s rising annoyance.

“Give him back—”

“If you don’t want to get caught the minute you step foot in that marketplace, shut your trap.” She grabbed his chin and tilted it upwards. Both glared at each other.

In the tense silence, Dula shifted his feet uncomfortably. A war could erupt with Clement’s fiery temper and Priscilla’s sharp tongue, and he was tired of always playing mediator between the two. He’d hoped that the break from each other would do them good, but it’d proved worse in each other’s absence.

“Make it quick,” was Clement’s stiff response and closed his eyes.

Priscilla winked at Dula who nodded his thanks and started for the door.

“Go over the schedule, Dula,” Clement said, stopping Dula in his tracks.

Dula turned back to the room. “If you leave here by noon, you’ll get to Bahir Dar by six latest. The auction begins at seven and last till ten.” He paused when Priscilla sighed deeply, glanced once at her tense expression before continuing. “The broker’s name is Mahmoud. He’s got the list of bidders, which means you’ll have to bribe him. Besides the money we prepared, we—”

Priscilla sighed again and Clement’s eyes opened slowly. She averted his gaze and continued powdering the roots of the wig for a more-realistic graying hairline.

Dula waited only a moment before continuing. “We’ve prepared a box full of…” he paused yet again when Priscilla heaved a deep sigh.

Clement frowned. “What is it now?”

“It’s foolish to think that a seasoned broker’s will allow a stranger to bid without verifying authentic ID. You don’t think he’ll be suspicious about your intentions?”

“We’re prepared,” Dula supplied before Clement could answer. “Once he arrives in Bahir Dar, Clem becomes Mr. Legesse, a businessman from Debre Marqos in need of—”

“Spare me the details,” Priscilla said coldly, lowering her stare to Clement’s. “It doesn’t matter if you changed your voice or spoke fluent Oromo, you look nothing like a middle-aged greedy businessman with a sick fondness for young boys.” She said that last bit with a sneer.

Clement’s lips thinned and he glared at her. “Since you have yet to come up with a more viable solution…”

“I don’t need to come up with one to know yours sucks.”

He scoffed. “Of course it does, but at least I’m doing something.”

“And after you go risking your life with that hot temper of yours, who’ll protect us here? When they realize they’ve been hoodwinked by a missionary pastor from Bichena, what stops them from coming after us?” Priscilla frowned at their pointed silence. “Don’t tell me you didn’t think of—”

“Dula, take the brush and finish the job. She’s done here.” Clement averted his face and closed his eyes.

“I can’t believe you. Stubborn, blind fool.” She slammed the brush on the table, brushed past Dula and slammed the door on her way out.

Clement heaved a deep sigh in the silence.

“She’s right, y’know,” Dula finally said at Clement’s right shoulder.

“You got a better idea?” Clement’s lips twitched a smile at Dula’s silence. “Then come finish the makeup. It’s almost noon.”

Dula shuffled noisily to the spot Priscilla had abandoned. “What if it’s not just the Kutfi you meet there? Most of these guys know each other from other auctions. They may be suspicious at a newcomer.”

Clement’s eyes opened, his glare hard on the windowsill. He could hear the children’s innocent laughter as they played in the compound. “It’s a risk I’m willing to make.”

“What about your family? What do we tell them if…”

His gaze shifted to Dula’s, and he knew his friend was still conflicted letting him go alone. He managed a smile. “I don’t plan on dying anytime soon. Trust me.”

Unconvinced, Dula heaved a deep sigh but continued powdering Clement’s curly-haired wig.

“Have no guilt, my brother,” Clement said after a moment of silence. “If I was married and had a young child, I’d have to let you go alone.” His lips twitched when Dula grunted. “It’s biblical, y’know.”

“…what is?”

“A soldier does not go to battle so soon after his wedding ceremony. He has a year to settle his household and make his wife happy before leaving for war.”

“It’s been two years since my wedding ceremony,” Dula drawled with a hint of mirth in his voice.

“The Lord gives exceptions. You just had your son.” Clement grinned easily. “He’ll understand.”

“And this is war?”

Smile fading, Clement met Dula’s pointed stare. “Depends on what happens at the auction.”

The wrinkles in Dula’s face only deepened. “That’s why I can’t have you go alone. This is dangerous—“

The door swung open and both men turned to see Ejigu waltz in, a duffel bag slung over one shoulder. “It’s time to go, Brother.”

Clement sat up in alarm. “What…”

“I’m going with you,” Ejigu said as calmly as the expression on his face.

<<Chapter 7 || Chapter 9>>

Advertisements

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 45

Posted on 26/05/2015

d42446a0-053e-4779-a537-ff1378bfef30_zpseccbe99c

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?”

“What?”

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>>

%d bloggers like this: