Posts tagged “father and daughter

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 39

Posted on 13/05/2015

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Samina wrung her fingers tightly as she forced herself not to look to her left at her father. But with the heavy silence between them as they drove home, she couldn’t help but glance over.

His jaw was clenched so tight, she was afraid he would break his teeth. Her fingers twitched to put over his but the deep furrow in his brow made her rethink it.

The memory of his intense glare directed at Topher loosened her tongue. “Dad…”

He stiffened as if he’d forgotten she was in the car with him. His lips pursed, his hands squeezed the steering wheel.

Samina frowned, nonplussed by his unbridled fury and sharp reaction. His earlier performance didn’t line up with the man she’d admired and trusted for all her life. “Dad, I’m thirty years old.”

He scowled, fingers pressed tightly against the leather. “I know that.”

“Then why did you—”

“It’s complicated.”

Her frown deepened. “What’s complicated about it? Am I not old enough to make my own decisions? You said as long as I was happy with what—”

Gabriel groaned, cutting her off again. “Please, Samina… just stop. Please.”

Samina drew in her lips, staring at the tense lines on his face. He’d always supported her, had just given her a speech about being happy for her in whatever she chose to do, so what was the meaning of this? “Dad…”

“Samina,” he barked out.

She flinched, gaping at him.

His jaw worked a tick, his eyes focused on the road. “Enough. I don’t want to hear another word about this. Understood?”

Frustrated and unnerved, Samina jerked in her seat and faced the window, glaring at the buildings that zoomed past them as Gabriel drove them home.

Nadine’s eyes snapped open to the white tiled ceiling. She knew this place. Wincing at the hollow pain in her chest, she tilted her head sideways on the pillow and stifled a moan. Topher sitting quietly near her bed, face turned to the window.

She cleared her throat and still he didn’t move.

Nadine bit the inside of her sore mouth and coughed a little louder.

Topher turned his head and her heart skipped several beats at the forlorn glint in his gaze. His eyes swept over her, inspecting her no doubt.

Nadine wanted to hold him but feared he would pull away. Instead, she shifted her gaze to the window. They were back in the hospital. In Houston. Her chest tightened and she placed a hand over it, rubbing away the tension. “What… happened?”

“We missed the flight.”

Nadine closed her eyes briefly, told herself to breathe first. “Oh?”

Topher sighed and reached for her other hand, enveloping it between his warm ones. “It’s okay, Nadine.”

Even though he would never admit it out loud, Nadine knew he’d been scared. She heard him right before blacking out; the terror in his voice echoing in her ears. Nadine pursed her lips, holding back from crying. “Sorry.”

“Don’t say that.” He squeezed her hand gently.

She blinked back tears, eyes downcast. “You missed the flight because of me.”

“How could I board the plane without you? When you fainted, I—” he drew in a shaky breath, his eyes shimmering with tears.

Her gaze lifted to his head and she placed her other hand there, her fingers disturbing the shorn curls. “Topher…”

He sniffed, Nadine’s heart breaking a little more. “Hmm?”

Nadine drew in a sustaining breath and released it slowly. She didn’t want to hurt him, never wanted to hurt him. “There’s something I must say. And I hope you will hear me out?”

Topher lifted his head, brow furrowed with concern, uncertainty in his eyes as he stared up at her.

She swallowed hard, the words lodged in her throat. She had to continue, for his sake. For hers. “You know I’ve always wanted you to be happy, right?”

A line appeared between his eyes as his frown deepened.

Tears tingled at the back of her eyes and she blinked to clear them. “You… can’t be with Samina.”

Something akin to hurt flashed in his eyes and Topher sat up. Her hand fell to the mattress and he shoved to his feet, moving to the window. “I know.”

Nadine knew he didn’t but he would. Her chest tightened with pain that she’d have to be the one to show him why. The tears fell unbound, and she shifted in the bed. “Do… you have my Bible?”

Without a word, he trudged to the suitcase leaning against the wall and pulled it open, tugging out her thick Bible.

She quickly brushed away the tears before he turned with the worn Bible sandwiched between his palms.

With a blank look, Topher held it out to her.

Nadine shook her head. “Sit with me.” She waited until he perched tentatively on the bed. “Y’know, that was your Mama’s Bible.”

His eyes lifted to her face.

She managed a wobbly smile. “Open Nahum 3… Please.”

Air grew sparse with every page he flipped over. He’d been taught the word of God pretty early in life, memorizing the books of the Bible at a young age. She knew he would find the passage quickly but wished he would go slower.

His jaw was tight, his fingers deftly thumbing through the dog-eared pages of his mother’s Bible. As he released a breath on the page before the one he sought, Topher paused, feeling the indentation of a squared paper. With a quick glance at Nadine’s tensed features, he flipped the page as his heart flipped over.

A worn photograph was stuck in the bind. Even before he could pick out the faces, Topher knew his mother would be there… and maybe.

He pushed out a breath as his lungs constricted. His fingers trembled as they skimmed over the faded photograph, his eyes scanning the faces there.

Five students stood facing the camera, with the beach at their back.

He squinted at each face, three men and two women. He didn’t recognize anyone but a younger version of Nadine sandwiched between two men. Curiosity prodded him to pull out the photograph from its bind.

Words were few to none as he gazed at his mother, Odetta, a softer version of Nadine. Her eyes were kinder, warmer, and calmer. Something in him wished he’d known her.

Topher drew in a breath and shifted his gaze to the men adjoining her. In fact, all three men towered over both women. He squinted at the man his mother leaned into with her arm tucked underneath his. His breath caught.

Tall and lean, this man wore a confident smile. His gaze, direct and honest, was as if staring at him long enough could reveal much about the man. Without warning, his pulse quickened. He held the photograph closer, eyes honing in the man’s face. Could this be him?

“The year is 1969,” Nadine finally spoke. “This picture was taken two years before you were born.”

Air rushed through his ears. His mind started to race, grappling to piece things together; the picture, her words.

The man who his mother held had to be his father. He drew in his lips, agitated and fascinated all at the same time. Topher couldn’t look away.  His expressive eyes reminded him so much of someone.

Samina’s stunning gaze flashed in his mind. As did Nadine’s solemn words that they could never be.

The turbulent countenance of Samina’s father appeared in his mind’s eye.

Topher jerked his gaze to Nadine who stared at him with tears in her eyes. Pulsing heart lodged in his throat, he dropped his eyes to the picture.

The young man’s features lined up with the older Gabriel’s weathered lines. His heart throbbed violently as he took in the man’s confident smile, matching it to the paternal half-smile of Samina’s father when they were introduced hours earlier.  Even his svelte form was the same, though age bowed his shoulders, making a bit shorter than in the picture.

Words failed him. He suddenly felt lightheaded.

“Christopher…”

Pain slashed across his torso. Topher choked out a breath and leaned forward, thumb and finger pressing the picture as realization hit him like a freight train. He could hear every labored breath in his ears.

“M-My father…” His tongue felt heavy as he formed the words. His vision blurred. “Is he in this picture?”

Nadine’s silence was as if she shouted it from the top of her lungs.

His lungs squeezed out what little air it held in and Topher shot to his feet. The photograph and Bible slid off his lap to the floor. Eyes blinded with tears, he staggered toward the window and gripped the ledge.

Gabriel’s sharp glare and Nadine’s firm but contrite words juxtaposed against Samina’s lovely face. Topher choked on a sob and pressed a hand over his mouth. Tears slid down his cheeks and he bent over the windowpane, knees and shoulders trembling.

<<Chapter 38 || Chapter 40>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 17

Posted on 01/04/2015

farmersmarket

Gabriel didn’t know what angered him more; that Jeremiah had gone back to find Odetta or the fact that the woman in the blue dress wasn’t Odetta. The feeling of falling one step behind Jeremiah choked his pride as it always did ever since their younger days.

Pushing aside the troubled feelings, Gabriel sat up as Deidre sauntered into the study. She held out a glass of fresh beet juice for him to drink. Ignoring her stern gaze, he quietly accepted the drink and gulped it down.

“I just don’t see why you couldn’t at least offer to take them to the airport.” Deidre snatched back the empty glass. “And you didn’t bother calling. Honestly Gabriel, what is the matter with you? This isn’t like you.”

Without a word in his defense, Gabriel returned his attention to his miniature S.S. ocean liner ship.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you two didn’t like each other anymore.”

Gabriel rolled his eyes. “Don’t be so dramatic, Deidre. I’ve just been busy.”

“Too busy to comfort your friend mourning his dying aunt?” She gestured to the pile of unfinished models on his desk. “Is this what you call being busy?”

“Deidre, enough,” he growled, adjusting a stubborn piece on the tiny reel.

Deidre hissed with disdain. “You’re wrong for this, Gabriel, and you know it.” Muttering under her breath about his stubborn pride, she stormed out of the study.

Gabriel lowered his hands, staring blankly at the model ship in front of him. His wife’s nagging words, poking at his pride and guilt for the growing resentment toward Jeremiah.

Suddenly, a faded image of a morose Jeremiah standing beside him in front of an open grave, flashed in his mind’s eye. After their college graduation more than three decades ago, Jeremiah accompanied him to a mutual friend’s funeral. Though they were still not on speaking terms after a full-blown brawl between them, they still came together, both sporting identical bruises on their faces. A willowy female stood between them, her head bowed in deep sorrow.

Gabriel frowned at the image of the willowy woman who wept bitterly. This woman was Odetta Chance, his college sweetheart and the cause for the fist-fight with Jeremiah.

The doorbell rang loudly and he blinked out of the daze. Deidre’s voice filled the silence as she greeted their daughter Samina and ushered her in.

“Hey dad.”

A gentle smile crossed his lips as Samina peeked into the study. Gabriel stood and walked around the desk to welcome his first daughter.

“What a fine surprise,” he said, gathering Samina into his arms. He placed a kiss on her forehead and led her back to the desk, ignoring Deidre’s pointed stare.

“Everything okay?” he asked as she took the seat on the other side of his desk.

Samina hesitated answering until she settled in the chair across his desk. “Yeah…”

His brow furrowed at the fatigue plain in her voice. “You sure?”

“Hmm, I’m fine.” Samina flashed him a smile. “See?”

He merely arched his brow, unconvinced.

With a sigh, Samina lowered her gaze to the model on his desk. “Started another one already?” Her long fingers traced the smooth line of a pond sail boat.

Gabriel smiled as she gently lifted the boat in her hands. “Remember that one? Took us the entire night to complete.”

“I remember. Mom was annoyed.”

“She’s always annoyed.”

Her smile turned wistful and she placed the miniature boat on its stand.

His heart sunk at the forlorn expression on her face. “Nothing yet?”

She merely shook her head solemnly, eyes riveted to the unfinished boat before them.

“Don’t worry.” He reached over the desk and took her hand in his. “These things take time. Remember that God’s timing will never match ours. And his ways are not our ways.”

“Sometimes I wish it was…” Samina’s voice hitched as a sob caught in her throat.

Gabriel looked at her face that seemed unreadable at first glance. She was trying so hard to act unaffected by her sudden unemployment. Ever since she was a child, he found Samina quite hard to read unlike her siblings, her reserved nature resembling his own. But this father knew when she held back tears. Like now.

“Sam,” Gabriel began tenderly, coaxing Samina to look up. The telltale glimmer in her eyes made his heart ache. “It’s okay to be disappointed about the way things are happening… but don’t doubt God’s love for you. Believe that he has only the best for you.”

Samina sniffed back tears, staring at the patient love in her father’s eyes.

Gabriel smiled, squeezing her hand gently. “Whether it’s your job… or your future spouse, it’ll work out for your good.” He nudged her hand when she rolled her eyes. “Trust me, I know.”

Samina pulled her hand from his, tucking it under her armpit. She lowered her gaze. “Dad, please. I’m not even thinking about marriage.”

“For now or forever?” He didn’t like the resignation in her voice.

She leaned forward to study the boat, tracing the miniature rudder. “Haven’t seen this one before. Is this new?”

Gabriel tamped a sigh and looked down at the boat. “Not really. Just haven’t had much time to work on it.” He watched with bemusement as Samina fished through the pile of loose pieces. “Wanna give your old man a hand?”

Samina smiled gently. “You don’t have to ask.”

In the quiet secluded corner of the hospital stood a gazebo overlooking a fish pond and a small garden. Nadine had spotted the miniature paradise from her window one morning. Upon Topher’s arrival at her room during his lunch break, she asked for his company to investigate the grounds.

As Topher wheeled her down to the garden, Nadine surveyed the bright flowers lining the path. Her wheelchair was parked by the iron-wrought bench under the gazebo and once Topher helped her to stand, Nadine touched the cherry blossoms draped at the opening. “They overdid it a little…”

“Hmm?” Topher mumbled, watching a dragonfly hover a cluster of flowers planted on the ledge.

“Everything. The gazebo’s a nice touch though…” she paused to breathe in deep.

Topher eyed her warily. “Be careful.”

Nadine rolled her eyes. “Relax. The air out here isn’t as bad as back home.” For measure, she inhaled in deeper, exhaling with a blissful sigh.

“Still…” He watched the serene expression on her face and swallowed the rest of his words. If she was happy and comfortable, maybe he could rest easier.

“I’m fine.” Nadine cleared her throat and Topher leaned closer. She held up a hand to him and peered down into the fish pond. “I wonder if anyone’s gone fishing in there.”

Topher smirked, staring into the murky water. “Hope not.” He stretched his limbs, grunting as the tension eased off his taut muscles.

“How are the lovebirds? When’s the wedding again?”

“Sooner than you think. In the next few weeks.”

“Good. I should be right as rain by then.” She watched the dragonfly flit from one flower bed to another. “Wedding preparations going well?” she asked casually.

Topher shrugged. “Besides the stress of trying to get things done on time, yeah.” He didn’t bother bringing up Ada’s agitated nerves or Samina’s troubling absence.

Nadine scoffed lightly. “I can imagine. That Ada girl seems high-strung. Downright neurotic.”

“She was only nervous because you were giving her the third degree.” He squinted at her. “You promised to be nice.”

“I was nice,” Nadine countered, flicking at the dragonfly. “Is it a crime that I want to make sure my boys are taken care of?” At Topher’s pointed silence, she peered up at him. “By the way, when do you plan on making me a grandmother?”

Topher gave her a sideways glance. “Impatient, aren’t we?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Nadine tilted her stubborn chin. “I’m not getting any younger waiting on you.”

Reminded by her debilitating condition, he quickly averted his gaze before she noticed. The thought of Nadine’s time slipping away made him reconsider his priorities. Presently, marriage was becoming a higher priority than building his career. It didn’t help that Jaxson’s upcoming nuptials spoke of the thrills of finding one’s mate.

Aside the stress of wedding plans, Jaxson was content and excited to spend the rest of his life with Ada. Topher caught himself wondering if there was someone that would make him feel just as content.

Suddenly, Samina with her striking features and shy smile flickered in his thoughts. Topher sat up, his heart doing a little back-flip. His lips curled in a smile. “Might be sooner than you think…”

Nadine chuckled low, pulling Topher’s attention to her. She had a knowing smile on her face. “She seems nice.”

Topher arched a brow. “What?”

“I like her.” Her eyes danced with mirth. “Maybe she’s a little aloof and shy. But it’s good that she can cook a mean Cajun dish. Means I won’t have to worry you’ll be taken care of.” She wriggled her brows and poked a bony finger in his side.

He frowned, wrapping a hand around her thin wrist. “Nadine… No one said anything about Samina.”

Nadine gave him a pointed stare. “You just did.” She laughed at his strangled groan.

<<Chapter 16 || Chapter 18>>

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