Posts tagged “excerpt

More Than Enough {Excerpt II}

Posted on 16/06/2014

baby

“This is a mistake…” Jayson muttered to himself as he stood in the middle of the baby aisle, staring blankly at the different brands of feeding formula. He rubbed the back of his head and leaned forward, squinting at the brand labels on each container. “What am I doing here?” he grumbled aloud and stepped back, almost crashing into a grocery cart. “Sorry,” he muttered, stepping aside to let the startled woman pass.

He watched helplessly as she scurried out of the aisle, realizing belatedly that he should’ve asked for her help.

Huffing a frustrated sigh, Jayson turned back to the shelf of formula containers and prayed for insight. “Ready-to-Use… Liquid concentrate,” he read aloud, lifting one of the containers to study the package label. “What’s the difference?” Annoyed at himself, Jayson glanced up to seek help and spotted a petite woman standing at the end of the aisle.

Deciding to throw caution to the wind, Jayson grabbed another box and walked over. “Sorry to disturb you but could I get some…” the rest of his words fell short as the short woman turned. His heart thumped in his chest as he stared down at the weary eyes of none other than Keziah Halliday. At first, he wasn’t sure it was her especially since the last time he’d seen her apart from the dark night in front of her house, was during his sophomore year in college. Her once chubby cheeks were replaced with sharp, high cheekbones, her once bright eyes that danced with mischief now stared blankly at him.

Then recognition stirred in those brown eyes and Keziah took one step back. Jayson blinked and cleared his throat, pulling his gaze to the containers in his hands as if realizing why he’d approached her in the first place. Except he didn’t care about asking her about what formula to ease his niece’s woes. He peered back up at her, questions about her flooding his mind. “Hi,” he said dumbly.

A wrinkle furrowed Keziah’s brow as she stared back silently.

Jayson managed a smile. “Long time…” He didn’t understand why he sounded like a blubbering idiot and wanted to ask how she’d been all these years. She’d lost weight and looked as if she carried a very heavy burden.

“Kez!” a female voice shrieked behind him and both Jayson and Keziah jerked in surprise.

Jayson followed Keziah’s wary glance over his shoulder, brows raised as Keziah’s immediate younger sister, Lydia, stomped toward them. Dumbfounded, he watched as Lydia circled around him to stand between him and Keziah.

“You okay? I’ve been looking all over for you… We should go.”

He blinked at the concern in Lydia’s voice and the stern expression she tossed over her shoulder at him as she nudged Keziah out of the aisle. “Wait…” he protested weakly, watching the two sisters leave without looking back. He scoffed incredulously, not sure what he’d done to deserve such a fierce expression from Lydia.

Jayson sobered as he pictured Keziah’s drawn expression and wary eyes. He recalled Naomi’s hesitance whenever he asked about her cousin, and the dodgy manner Robert exhibited when he dropped him off at home. Something was definitely wrong with Keziah and that made him more distressed than earlier in the day.

A resounding ding from his phone tugged at his attention and Jayson propped both containers in one hand while lifting his phone to read the message. “Hurry before she screams her lungs dry…” Jayson read and groaned aloud. “I don’t know why you can’t just breastfeed like everyone else…” he mumbled, earning an affronted glare from a woman standing by the formula shelf.

He managed an apologetic smile and approached her. “Excuse me, could you please help me?”

Keziah bit back an exasperated sigh when Lydia glanced over at her. “I said I’m fine,” she said through clenched teeth. “Stop fretting over me like Mom.”

Lydia scowled at the accusation. “I’m not fretting. I’m just… checking to see.”

“I’m alright, Lydia.” She curled her fingers into her palms.

“Didn’t seeing him bother you?”

Keziah stared at the dashboard. “That’s not what bothered me…” She closed her eyes over the images of smiling babies and forced out a slow breath.

Lydia frowned as she exited the highway. “I didn’t think you’d wander over there.” She glanced down at Keziah’s flat stomach and quickly looked away. “How… do you feel?” she asked, unable to word it any differently. There was no other way to ask how her sister felt carrying the child of her attacker. The thought of it made her stomach clench violently.

Keziah opened her eyes slowly, letting Lydia’s question hang in the air. She didn’t know how to answer and that terrified her as much as the darkness did.

Excerpt from Gabon’s Gift

Posted on 28/12/2013

street

Belinda

As the last crescendo of “Amens” bounced off the stone walls in the chapel, I breathed a sigh of relief and lowered myself to the pew. Mommy perched beside me to gather her purse while Daddy moved out of the pew to greet the family behind us.

“You okay?” Mommy asked quietly.

I managed a smile and was about to respond when someone tapped me on my shoulder. Peering over, my smile widened at Francine.

She winked at me before turning to my mother. “Good evening, Mrs. Abarca.”

Mommy smiled graciously as she rose to her feet. “Francine, how are you? Your parents here?”

Francine nodded, her primped hair bouncing on her shoulders. “Uh-hmm. They’re outside.” She looked at me. “Can I borrow your daughter for a moment?”

I stood as Mommy chuckled good-naturedly. “I’ll be back, Mommy.” Francine hooked her arm with mine and tugged me around the pews. “Finished it already?” I smiled in greeting at a few congregation members crowded in the aisles.

Francine scoffed softly, maneuvering us through the crowd. “Not quite. I had to get in the car just before I printed it out.” She nudged me then and moved her head in the direction of the hallway.

Frowning, I turned to where she gestured and suddenly felt my heart skip a beat. The shadow of a person stood next to the column that blocked the hallway and although I couldn’t make out the face, I knew exactly who it was. Amed Musa.

“You’re welcome,” Francine muttered, breaking the spell. I whipped around to see her sneaking away.

The shadow cleared his throat and I whipped back around, blinking as the shadow stepped away from the column. I quickly stepped forward toward the shadows and pushed at Amed’s sturdy chest.  He grasped hold of my wrists, sending tingles up my arms and down my legs as he pulled me into the shadows, making us both invisible to the congregation.

I recovered quickly and pushed away from him. “What are you doing here?!” I whispered fiercely, thankful for the voices echoing loudly in the chapel, masking our voices.

Amed chuckled softly as if this was of laughing matter. “Surprise.”

I scowled. “How did you get here? Wha—” I swallowed the rest of my words when he placed his hand over my mouth.

“Somehow I’d pictured a different type of greeting, Bella.” His voice was soft as ever and I felt my knees weaken as it had many times before. Speechless, I watched his shrouded face leaned forward just as his hand slipped from my mouth. I closed my eyes, imagining him lean even closer and sighed when I felt his warm breath caress my face. Then a chorus of laughter ricocheted through the walls around us and I snapped my eyes open, leaning away from his face.

“Don’t. Not here.” My face was warm, my heart racing fast and hard. I glanced over my shoulder, expecting my father or mother or worse, the priest to catch us in the shadows. “You shouldn’t be here.”

Amed was quiet and I almost regretted my words. Almost. I scowled at his silence. “Say something.”

He sighed. “Is it a crime to surprise my girlfriend with a visit?”

I bit my bottom lip, knowing he was offended by my lack of warmth toward him. If we were still at school, I knew I would’ve jumped into his arms and kissed him until he teased me for smothering him. Except that we were no longer in school and my parents had no idea about him. If either of my parents caught him here with me, there was no way I’d return to the university for the next term.

“I see…” Amed muttered and lowered both hands from my waist, stepping away from the shadows.

“Babe, it’s not that…” I protested, stepping toward him.

“Then what is it?” his voice was short, cold. I knew I deserved it but it still stung.

I frowned, not knowing how to break it to him. Amed was a Muslim by birth, even if he didn’t practice it. Amed being in the Anglican Church was oddly strange. Maybe he didn’t care but I somehow felt a little guilty. Like the statue of the crucified Jesus could see him and I. My cheeks tingled, realizing that he probably would’ve witnessed us kissing in the shadows and I set my jaw. “You shouldn’t be here.”

“Are you kidding me?” Amed asked and I could feel his glare on me.

I nodded. “I’ll come to you later to—”

“Don’t bother, Belinda.” That was the last thing he said to me before stepping away from the shadows into the dimly-lit hallway.

I reached out to stop him from angrily stalking past me into the unassuming crowd but just then, my eyes collided with the stormy glare of my father standing beside a very contrite Francine. My hand fell to my side and I didn’t dare look at Amed who trudged past Daddy and out of the church.

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