Posts tagged “dance

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 37

Posted on 11/05/2015

bouquet

Samina eyed Karen warily as she adjusted the flower brooch over her shoulder. She noted the tightness around her sister’s mouth and the concentrated wrinkle in her brow.

Since that night, Karen hadn’t mentioned the surgery and even Obadiah steered clear from the topic. And although she’d asked for space, she didn’t like the pointed silence or evasion.

At least one of them could’ve asked what would happen next, if the surgery had cured her completely, because she too wondered at every dose of hormone pills. Waiting for the report from her post-op check-in wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

She fidgeted and Karen hissed, causing her to stiffen.

“This brooch is tricky so if you don’t want either of us pricked, stand still.”

Samina nodded and snuck a peek at Karen’s face. “You’re… still mad?”

Karen rolled her eyes and sighed. “What do you think?” She frowned, tugging on the strap of Samina’s gown. “Honestly, what was Ada thinking? Not only is the color of this dress blindly atrocious, it doesn’t fit her theme.”

The corner of Samina’s lips twitched a smile. “Don’t let her hear that.”

Karen grunted, adjusting the brooch pin to secure the strap. Then her brown eyes slanted over Samina’s face. “How is it?”

Samina kicked her other shoulder. “It’ll do.”

“No. I mean…” She pointed her chin at Samina’s face. “Your nasal septum okay?”

Samina blinked. “My what?”

Karen frowned. “I heard they make an incision there… for the, y’know.” She lowered her gaze to the brooch pin. “Did it… hurt?”

Regret choked out her words. She’d been incredibly wrong to keep this from her family. “I…” she croaked out.

Grabbing her shoulders, Karen scowled. “Stop crying. You’ll ruin your makeup.” She thumbed a tear from Samina’s cheeks.

“I’m sorry…” Samina sniffed back the tears.

“Sorry for what?” She dabbed at Samina’s eyes, frown still present on her brow. “Keeping your surgery a secret or ruining the makeup?”

“Both.” Samina choked a soft laugh.

Karen offered her a half-smile, eyes gliding over her face. “I’m mad that you hid away as if you don’t have a family, Sam. I won’t lie and say I’m not.” She squeezed Samina’s shoulder. “But I’m glad that you’re okay.”

Samina nodded, pulling Karen into an embrace. She closed her eyes, resting her chin against Karen’s shoulder. “Thank you…”

Karen patted her back gruffly, before pulling back. “You sure you don’t want to take someone else to the wedding?”

She knew exactly who she referred to, another topic they both avoided. Everything was still so new and confusing with Ezekiel. Bringing him to the wedding seemed unusual. Strange.

“Not that I mind coming since Jaxson has some fine friends.” Karen’s bright smile pulled Samina out of her reverie.

“Well then…” Samina smiled in return. “That settles it.”

Karen’s smile then waned. “Besides, it’s best that I come instead of Ezekiel… Y’know, for Topher’s sake.”

Samina’s smile dropped as did her heart, plummeting to her stomach. Topher. Without her permission, his detached expression and cold words stayed with her ever since that strange night, nagging her every time she responded to Ezekiel’s texts and spoke to him over the phone.

Due to her maid-of-honor duties occupying all her free time, she didn’t get a chance to see Ezekiel… or Topher. The best man who’d assigned himself as her partner-in-crime was notably absent. Jaxson had mentioned he was busy with Nadine, but Samina knew better. He was avoiding her.

A tug at her frilly sleeve pulled Samina’s attention back to the frown on Karen’s face. Her chest tightened, fearing that she’d offended her sister again.

“Let’s go before Ada throws a fit.” She pulled Samina to the door, grabbing both their purses and the car keys.

Surprisingly, Samina breathed a sigh of relief as the bouquet sailed over her head, the crowd erupting in cheers as Myrtle, Ada’s older cousin, caught the bouquet. She caught Karen’s eyes across the room and grinned.

Karen rolled her eyes but smiled anyway.

Though she wanted to be married, for some reason, catching the bouquet in Topher’s presence seemed almost disrespectful. Inadvertently, she scanned the room and immediately caught Topher’s hooded gaze focused on her.

Her face warmed at his open perusal and she quickly looked away, adjusting her sleeve.

“I aimed too high,” Ada bemoaned, draping a bare arm over Samina’s shoulders. “But I’m so glad Myrtle caught it or I’ll never hear the end of that.” She wriggled her brows, face lit with joy and excitement.

A surge of jealously filled Samina’s lungs, arresting her rebuttal. She shook it off quickly and offered Ada the brightest smile she could. This was her best friend’s day and she was going to be happy for her.

Then the song came on. The crowd cheered in recognition at the melody and Ada grabbed Samina’s hand, tugging her closer to the dance floor. “Find your partner, Sam.” She winked audaciously and Samina wished she’d been honest with Ada about Topher.

Jaxson sauntered over just as the singer’s voice crooned out the first word. Grabbing Ada by the waist, he pulled her close just as they’d rehearsed.

Samina’s pulse jumped at the second beat, their cue was next. As Jaxson and Ada circled the room, the crowd roared in cheer and Samina’s cheeks warmed in anticipation for Topher to reach for her.

Just then, a hand slid around her waist and Samina’s heart skipped several beats as Topher pulled her into his arms. She stumbled against him and glanced up quickly at his chiseled features. One corner of his mouth was slanted in a smile.

Heat surged through her veins and she lowered her gaze. The music changed and Topher released her to move to Jaxson’s side, as they rehearsed.

“This is how we do it!” The crowd sang along, feeling the energy of the song.

Though her feet moved with the rhythm and she danced in step with Ada beside her, Samina could only see Topher, his bright smile and svelte form moving as if he had no cares in the world.

Ada hooked an arm under Samina’s, grinning at her. “Smile, girl!”

Samina could only muster a wobbly one, tears stinging the back of her eyes. Was he that unaffected by her? Or was he merely deflecting?

The song changed yet again, a slow melody. Ada released her arm and moved to the center, where Jaxson waited for her.

Samina held her breath, knowing what was next.

“Cos I’m your ladyyyy…” The women shout-sang along with Celine Dion.

Topher shifted his gaze to Samina, his smile waning.

And you are my man…”

Samina swallowed hard and stepped forward, meeting him in the middle of the dance floor. Her heart skipped a beat as he pulled her close. She almost sighed in the strength of his arms.

Then he sighed, grabbing Samina’s attention to his face. He wore a rueful expression that made her start, stepping on his foot.

“Sorry…” they both said together.

She frowned, fingers curling over his shoulder. “Huh?”

His lips curled in a half smile. “I’m sorry.”

Her gaze met his, seeing regret there.

“I didn’t take your news as well as I should have,” Topher continued, his deep timbre and the unexpected apology rocking her off-kilter. “Friends should celebrate each other’s good news and I didn’t. I’m sorry for my appalling behavior.”

Samina couldn’t swallow the hardened lump in her throat.

He tilted his head slightly, beseeching her with his striking gaze. “Forgive me?”

The tears at the back of her eyes tingled at the gentle cadence of his baritone. Samina jerked a nod. “I’m sorry too…”

Topher smirked. “For leading me on?”

Her eyes widened.

Topher laughed softly. “I’m kidding.” His smile remained, gentle, forgiving, warm.

Samina relaxed in his arms for the remainder of the dance.

Karen met her afterwards with a glass of water and a bemused expression. “How curious…”

Samina paused from taking a swallow of the refreshing liquid, parched. “Hmm?”

“For a moment there, one could forget you’d broken his heart.” Karen shook her head. “He must really like you, Sammie…”

Cheeks aflame, Samina gulped down the drink, eyes moving to where Topher congratulated his best friend with a one-arm hug and a pat on the back.

“Well since he’s available, you don’t mind if I dance with him?” Karen wriggled her brows and sauntered across the dance floor toward Topher.

Watching Karen poke Topher’s shoulder and he turn to greet her, Samina felt her stomach clench in protest. She swallowed the water, troubled to silence.

How curious indeed.

Jeremiah heard him before he saw him. His shoulders tensed and he squinted into the distance, marking the spot.

“Funny seeing you here…” Gabriel muttered, coming to stand to his right.

He swung the club, watching the golf ball sail and hit the net kilometers away before landing on the green. Then he glanced over his shoulder.

Gabriel stood with his arms folded, no golf bag in sight. In fact, his friend wore jeans and a dress-shirt, hardly golf-appropriate. His face was hard as stone, all business like. “Let’s talk.”

Jeremiah smirked dryly, lowering his club. “You’re done avoiding me?”

Gabriel narrowed his eyes at him. “Ezekiel turns 33 next month, right?”

He raised a brow, tugging off his gloves. “Since when do you care about that stuff?”

“Answer the question, Jeremiah.”

He scowled, growing increasingly tired of Gabriel’s shifty moods. “Yes, so what? Did you come here to start a fight? I rather your silence that this.” He tossed the gloves on top his golf bag and bent over to unlace his shoes.

Gabriel turned to face him. “That day… in your car.”

Jeremiah’s fingers paused. Cold frisson shot down his spine.

“Why?”

He looked up, stunned to silence at the pain etched in Gabriel’s weathered face. It was as if they were back in college, standing on that grass still wet with dew.

“Why was Odessa in your car?”

Jeremiah scowled darkly, connecting the dots. “You’re crazy.” He left his shoes on and grabbed his bag. Anger surged through him as Gabriel blocked his path. “Move.”

“You didn’t tell me what happened.”

He gritted his teeth, fingers squeezing the bag. “Move!”

Gabriel barely flinched at Jeremiah’s bark. “I didn’t give you a chance to explain yourself but I want to hear it now.”

Jeremiah scoffed. “After thirty-four years, you want to hear my side now?”

Gabriel’s jaw tightened, his patience waning also. “You had thirty-four years to tell me the truth and you didn’t. Sounds like a guilty man, if I ever heard one.”

Knowing the other golfers were now staring their way, Jeremiah checked his anger and shook his head. “Forget it, Gabe. I know you’ll always believe what you want to. Move out of my way before I make you move.”

For a second, Jeremiah wasn’t sure Gabriel would move. Resentment practically oozed out of the man’s core, heat blazing in his eyes. This man was sporting for a fight and if he gave Gabriel one reason, another searing punch would land on his jaw. With the tension between him and Sheena these days, he couldn’t afford to fight with Gabriel… even if he wanted to.

Then Gabriel stepped aside.

Air gushed out of Jeremiah’s lungs and his shoulders relaxed. He pushed past Gabriel, eying the glowing exit sign a few feet away.

“Keep running like you always do,” Gabriel’s taunting voice called in the silence. “Just like you were in high school, you’ll always be a coward.”

Jeremiah’s footsteps halted.

<<Chapter 36 || Chapter 38>>

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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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