Posts tagged “daughters

Lighthouse, Chapter 1

Posted on 09/04/2016

“Aunty! Aunty!” a squeaky voice beckoned Darah’s attention and she glanced over to six-year-old Karla standing with her cousin and age-mate Augustus. The girl gave her a toothy smile. “Watch me, Aunty.”

Darah smiled patiently. “I’m watching.”

Karla bent at the waist and performed a perfect handstand.

Darah clapped with a cheer when Karla righted herself. “Wonderful, Cabbage!”

The girl grinned and shifted her gaze to Darah’s shoulder. “Daddy, Mommy, you saw me?”

Darah looked over her shoulder to where a bearded Abe stood with an arm draped over Phoebe’s shoulders. The parents smiled with pride and Abe gave his only daughter a thumbs up. “Great job, baby.”

Phoebe winked. “Now come wash your hands. We’re about to eat.”

“What about me?” a diminutive voice beckoned them to turn to a pouting Augustus.

Darah grinned. “Sorry August, your turn. Go.”

The pout morphed into a smile and the little boy performed a handstand as good as Karla’s.

The three adults cheered in cue, earning them Augustus’ beaming smile. Abe gave his nephew two thumbs-up before he started for the stairs to summon the other kids. His deep voice echoed from the ceiling as he instructed the noisy children to tidy the rooms and get ready for dinner.

“Aunty, watch me!” Karla called, bouncing to Phoebe’s side. “I can do a gad-zillion jumps!”

“Me too! I do a gad-zillion and one!” Augustus piped in as he jumped faster than Karla. Then the front door swung open and the little boy turned, squealing as Bart stepped inside. Abandoning the competition with Karla, he sprinted over to Bart’s side. “Papa!”

A tired Bart lit up when his youngest son bum-rushed him and hugged his legs. With a chuckle, Bart swept an elated Augustus off his feet and planted loud kisses over his face.

Darah watched the two with a wistful smile. It seemed not too long ago, her older brothers Abe and Bart were both bachelors, clueless about love. Now they were doting husbands and fathers; Abe a father of three and Bart a father of four. She shook her head incredulously, wondering where the time had gone.

“Darah,” Phoebe’s gentle voice pulled her out of her thoughts. “Are you staying for dinner this time? We’ve set a place for you.”

“Auntie, will you sleep over?” Karla asked from her mother’s side since Phoebe held onto her shoulders. No more playtime for the youngest Teka children.

“I can’t, Cabbage,” Darah said regretfully. “But I’ll stay for dinner.”

“Why not?” Karla asked with wide, innocent eyes.

Darah choked a laugh. “Not tonight, Cabbage. I’ve got exams.”

“Which ones?” Bart asked with August propped on his back, the boy pretending his dad was a standing horse. “How to make pots or do the do-si-do?”

Darah rolled her eyes at his playful dig. “Don’t ask if you don’t care to know.”

“Of course we care,” Phoebe placated, giving Bart a warning glance. “I’ll pack you enough for the week.”

“Thanks,” Darah said as she stood, and glanced at Bart. “Where’s Geri?”

“Yelena’s in with a cold, so she’s nursing her.” Bart stifled a yawn and waved off Phoebe’s concern. “I’ll get a plate or two to go though. How were the kids?”

Phoebe led the way to the kitchen. “As you could imagine.”

“Means if they are anything like their father, they were rascally,” Darah quipped.

“I’m not rascuwwy!” Augustus protested, pouting from Bart’s shoulder.

Darah’s smile faded at her youngest nephew’s protest. “Sorry, August. Aunty was just joshing.”

“What’s jos-josh…?” Karla asked, tugging at her hand. She didn’t like sharing attention, especially not Augustus.

“It’s what you and August do,” Phoebe inserted, giving Darah a kind smile. “Except you and him will stop way before you’re adults.”

Karla made a face, tucking her hand in her mother’s as they entered the kitchen. “I don’t wanna adult.”

“Me too!” Augustus piped in, pouting when Bart set him down on his two feet.

Darah smirked. “Neither do I.”

“Who said you are?” Bart quipped, placing his hands on August’s shoulders.

With the children watching them closely, Darah managed not to stick her tongue out at him. She flashed a sweet smile instead. “Probably the same person who said you were.”

“Daddy!” excited voices interrupted Bart’s retort and everyone turned to the kids hurrying down the stairs toward Bart and Augustus.

“Be careful,” Abe drawled as though he’d said it a million times. He lagged behind, a bemused expression on his face.

Bart grinned as three rushed up to him, talking all at once. “Slow down,” he said chuckling. “One at a time.”

They began talking again; Joselyn at 11 years, the fraternal twins Fallon and Tomas at 8 years.

Smirking, Darah sought out the remaining two who stood close to Abe; 9-year-old Isaac and 7-year-old James. They watched their cousins with placid expressions, their temperament very much like their father. Their only sister Karla was more like Phoebe.

The two boys finally noticed Darah watching them. Isaac’s dark brows lifted in surprise and James grinned.

“Hey boys,” she said and opened her arms to accept their hugs. James reached her first, Isaac strolling behind. She laughed, reaching up to tap his forehead. “What, too big for hugs?”

He grinned in welcome, giving her a side hug. “When d’you come?”

She didn’t get to respond when the rest of Bart’s children rushed her with greetings; their smiles and excited chatter filling her heart with warmth.

“Are you staying?” Joselyn asked, stepping aside so her sister Fallon could give Darah a hug and a noisy kiss.

Darah smiled at Joselyn over their heads. “Hmm, for dinner though.”

Their disappointment was plain to see and Darah felt sorry. No doubt their little minds had anticipated her staying longer this time. If only she could…

“Why?” Isaac asked and all the children stared, awaiting her answer.

“She’s got an exam to study for,” Phoebe answered for her.

“Which one, pottery or dance?” Abe asked, earning a pointed look from Phoebe. He raised his brows. “What?”

Bart nudged his brother. “That’s what I said.”

“And just like I told him, if you don’t care don’t ask.” She then gave her nephews and nieces a smile. “Tell you what? If you promise to help me study, I’ll stay the night.”

She grinned as they all cheered, reminding her why she needed to come in the first place. Then Phoebe whistled, quietening the cheer. “Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s eat!”

Darah allowed the kids to lead her to the dining table, listening to the conversations going on around her. She’d missed her family; every single one of them. And once they seated, Darah noticed that someone else was missing from the group. “Where’s Eli?”

Phoebe busied herself cutting Karla’s chicken fried steak. Abe’s eyes shifted away from her and Bart shoveled rice into his mouth instead of replying.

“He’s with his grandmother,” Phoebe then replied tersely.

“But that’s okay though, right?” Darah arched a brow. Eleazar often spent time with his biological grandmother, Mrs. Sharma Crane who had actively sought out Eleazar for ten years.

“It’s fine,” Abe assured her as he placed a hand on Phoebe’s shoulder. Phoebe’s tight lips said otherwise.

Darah frowned.

“When’s Uncle Junior coming home?” Isaac inquired from his seat, curious about absent Clement away on missionary work overseas.

“Christmas for sure, Thanksgiving maybe,” Abe answered.

Bart cleared his throat. “Okay guys, finish up. Your Mom’s waiting for us.”

The three whined as they often did when it came time to end the nights with their cousins.

“Can’t we sleep over with Aunty? Please, Daddy?” Joselyn batted her long lashes, knowing it worked well with Bart.

Darah smiled. Even though Joselyn was not Bart’s biological daughter; born to Geraldine in her first marriage, he loved her as he did their other three children. She was their firstborn as far as any of them was concerned.

“Your Mimi needs hugs and kisses to get better, so maybe next time.” He turned to Augustus and wiped his mouth. “Now eat up so we can get going.”

“I’ll sleep over at your place next time,” Darah offered when Joselyn sighed heavily. Then she poked pouting Fallon’s cheek which earned her a dimpled smile.

When Bart and his clan eased out of the house, and Abe and the boys cleaned up the kitchen, Darah sought out Phoebe upstairs. She entered her old room that was now Karla’s. Standing in the doorway, she surveyed the decorations; artsy stickers and even her old paintings remained on the walls.

Darah smiled wistfully, crossing her arms over her stomach.

“I’ll lay out the pillows and blankets,” Phoebe spoke through Darah’s thoughts. Her eyes were focused on applying lotion to her daughter’s skinny body. “Don’t worry about studying in here, Karla’s a deep sleeper.”

Darah caught Karla’s eye and winked, earning another heart-stopping smile. She sighed inwardly, wondering what it would be like to have a child…

“Eli’s moving out.”

Darah’s smile faded. “What?”

Phoebe sighed, holding out printed pajama shorts for Karla to put on. “You heard me.”

“But he’s in a local college.”

“So are you.”

Darla’s cheeks warmed at the pointed accusation. “I’m not that local. It takes an hour and a half to my campus. He’s literally down the street from–”

“He says there’s no space here,” Phoebe continued, adjusting Karla’s sleep shirt. “That it’ll be easier living with Sharma. Easier, like we’ve ever complained about space before.”

She heard the bitterness in Phoebe’s voice and grimaced.

Since the day Phoebe met Eleazar, she’d taken to him and treated him like one of her own children. Of course she felt unsettled when Sharma Crane came into Eleazar’s life ten years prior, maybe a little betrayed by Eleazar’s loyalty to a woman who’d barely come to know.

Darah had heard of Eleazar spending time with Sharma Crane, accompanying her on weekend trips to visit her side of the family. Sharma had only one daughter, Eleazar’s deceased mother, so it was understandable that she clung to her only grandchild. Still, Phoebe loved Eleazar like a son and it was obvious she was hurt more than she let on.

As Phoebe quietly combed out Karla’s kinky hair, Darah could only stare in growing regret; for she too had betrayed Phoebe and the family in more ways than one. What comfort could she give when she’d done far worse than Eleazar?

<<Cover Page || Chapter 2>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 45

Posted on 26/05/2015

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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>>

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