Posts tagged “fighting

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 29

Posted on 29/04/2015

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“What a lovely set.” Deidre gazed longingly at a display of fine chinaware.

Sheena rolled her eyes. “Dee, stop collecting plates.” Grabbing her friend’s arm, she steered her and the cart away from the display. “You already have a cupboard full of them. Why would you need another?”

Deidre peered over her shoulder and sighed. “It’s for Samina.”

Sheena snorted but eyed the box. It was a lovely set.

“Well, hopefully I won’t have to wait long to buy one for her.” Deidre stepped in front of the cart, moving to the next aisle.

“It might be sooner than you think.” Sheena pushed the cart beside her. “She’s not back yet?”

“Not yet. I plan on giving her an earful when she gets back.” She frowned at her best friend. “I don’t buy that ‘I need a vacation’ story one bit. Something is wrong.”

Sheena tamped a sigh. She too worried about Samina’s long absence and it didn’t help that Ezekiel was a bundle of jittery nerves, losing confidence every time her voicemail picked up instead of her.

Deidre paused to survey a stack of colorful blenders. “This is nice. I wish Gabe would let me get a new blender.”

“Dee…” Sheena smirked. “He’ll probably point out the two new blenders you got last Christmas.”

“I know.” Deidre rolled her eyes. “Now that he’s acting like a petulant child, it’s impossible getting him even listen to me. I’m getting fed up.”

“Tell me about it.” Sheena grunted. “It’s like walking on eggshells with Jere. Even the girls are calling him Grouchy Gramps.”

Deidre shook her head. “Nothing’s worse than Gabe kicking Obadiah out of the house. I mean what happened to spanking or grounding the child?” She folded her arms, getting angry all over again. “What good is sending him to his sisters’ place?”

“Men… they’re just big babies.”

“I already have three. Don’t want another.”

“That’s our lot to deal with, my dear friend.” Sheena eyed Deidre warily. “I’m honestly tired with the two of them.”

“They need to be locked in a room for a week to work out their childish grudge.”

But both women knew better. The resentment between their husbands ran deeper than just hurt feelings. It involved a past both men weren’t privy to share with their wives, even after all these years.

Sheena scowled. “Grown men acting like silly children. I refuse to celebrate this Thanksgiving with his grouchy behind.”

“I know. Celebrating with two grouchy old goats isn’t any better. No one will be in the thanking mood.” Deidre stepped into the next aisle. “This happens every time they go to Abbeville, it’s back to weeks of not talking to each other.”

Sheena scoffed. “Remember when Gabe went five years ago and refused to talk to Jere for weeks?”

“Don’t remind me.” Deidre groaned. “It’s too embarrassing when the kids are so aware of their behavior. When they were little, we could excuse their dads’ foolish behavior. Now it’s just too ridiculous.”

Sheena slid her hand along a short pile of fluffy towels. “I say to preserve our sanity and our marriage, let’s ban them from going to Abbeville.”

“Very good idea,” Deidre mumbled. “I refuse to compete with his past.”

“Me too.” Sheena picked up a face towel and then turned abruptly to her friend. “By the way, I heard Sammie started her new job. How is it going? She likes it?”

Deidre rolled her eyes. “Oh please Sheena. That is not a job.”

Sheena frowned. “Dee…”

“Seriously, I don’t understand why she’d rather work as a volunteer than finding a real job. There’s got to be something else out there.”

“Cut her some slack. At least it keeps her busy and it’s paid right?”

“Hourly wages,” Deidre made a face. “I was hoping she’d find one with a salary.”

Sheena smiled, replacing the towel on the shelf. “All you can do is to be patient and supportive.”

Deidre squinted at her friend. “Like I’m not doing that already?”

“Well Dee, I don’t think spamming her email with job postings is being patient or supportive. More like meddling.”

Deidre scoffed, moving around the towel stand.

“Hello there! Deidre?” a familiar, shrilling voice called out to them.

They turned to see Ebony Cassidy waving enthusiastically, her long pearls swaying, heels clicking as she hurried to meet them.

Both Sheena and Deidre stiffened, exchanging exasperated looks. “Does she even live in this neighborhood?” Deidre gritted through clenched teeth.

“May her ‘annoy-everyone-in-my-path’ radar is working too well,” Sheena muttered before forcing a bright smile on her face. “Hey Ebony.”

“Oh hey…” Ebony offered Sheena a fake smile before flashing an all-too-bright smile at Deidre. “I feel like we bump into each other in these places. We should schedule a shopping date one of these days.”

“We’ll see…” Deidre’s smile twitched. Accidentally running into Ebony all over town was torture enough.

Ebony eyed Sheena as she perused the items to her right before turning back to Deidre with a brighter smile. “Deidre dear, I wanted to tell you that what you’re doing is so sweet.”

Sheena and Deidre raised a brow at her. “Oh?” Deidre replied, not sure what she referred to but the knowing glint in her stare made her spine tingle. Ebony was trouble, no matter what she said or did.

“Uh-hmm,” Ebony replied, smile blinding. “If I had a son who was single and dreadfully alone, I wouldn’t mind you acting as matchmaker on his behalf.”

Deidre inhaled sharply.

Sheena frowned, glancing once at Deidre before turning back to Ebony.

They had to get out of here. Deidre grabbed the cart. “Uh yeah… Look, Ebony, nice bumping into you but we gotta go now. Bye.”

“Whose son is single and dreadfully alone?” Sheena mumbled as Deidre tried to maneuver the cart around a display without knocking it over. “Deidre?”

“Oh dear.” Ebony lifted a hand to her chest, her black eyes widened in surprise. “I thought you knew who I was talking about, Sheena.”

Sheena frowned. “Well since you insist on speaking only to Dee, I didn’t think it was any of my business.”

“Don’t be silly, Sheena.” Ebony rolled her eyes. “It is very much your business since it’s your son I’m referring to.”

Deidre bit back a groan. The mock innocence in Ebony’s face only made her want to grab Ebony by her pearls and drag her away.

“… What?” Sheena squeaked out, jerking her eyes to Deidre.

“Oops. Did I spoil the surprise?” Ebony’s eyes volleyed between the two friends “You mean you didn’t tell Sheena you spoke to Widow Pearson about finding her son a match?”

“What?!”

Deidre winced at the sharp sound of Sheena’s outcry. She gritted her teeth and slowly turned around to face Sheena.  “I-I can explain…”

“Girls, what about your plates?” Ezekiel called out to his girls as they hurried up the stairs to their room.

“Later, Dad!” Adelaide replied before closing the door, giggles muffled behind the walls.

He shook his head. “It’s like they’re allergic to chores or something…” He peered over to where Jeremiah sat with crates of vinyl records and old books before him. Walking over, he tugged out a vinyl cover from the crate and blew off the dust. “I can’t believe you still have these. Some are older than me.”

Jeremiah smiled wistfully as Ezekiel chuckled. “Remember any of them?”

“Of course.” Ezekiel scanned the stack of peeling covers. “You still got Coltrane’s Impressions in here?”

“In there somewhere.” He placed another book on top of the growing stack.

Ezekiel nodded, replacing the vinyl record in the crate near his right foot. His eyes moved over his father’s bent head and he cleared his throat. “Dad… Mind if I ask you something?”

“Sure,” Jeremiah mumbled, distracted by his chore.

Chipping the unpolished crate, Ezekiel mulled over his question.

“What is it?”

Ezekiel looked up at his father. “So, I have this friend. He’s a little confused about something…”

Jeremiah smirked, flipping through the album covers. “Confused about what, his job or life’s troubles?”

“No, Dad.” Ezekiel swallowed hard. “About a girl.”

Jeremiah chuckled dryly, gaze on the records. “Your friend’s in middle school?”

Ezekiel bristled. “I meant woman.”

“Okay, continue.”

“Well, you see he’s been friends with her since they were young but now he’s confused because of his newfound feelings for her.” He licked his dry lips. “He thinks it might be too late to tell her how he feels though. What do you think he should do?”

When Jeremiah didn’t respond, Ezekiel looked up.

His father’s brow was furrowed, jaw clenched visibly, hardened stare riveted to the crate of old books.

Ezekiel frowned. “Dad?”

Jeremiah flinched to attention, and then his brow darkened in a scowl. “Your friend is a fool.”

“Huh?” Ezekiel’s jaw dropped. “Wait, how?”

His father nodded, chin set stubbornly. “What’s his reason for keeping quiet and letting someone else take the woman he wants? Is your friend an idiot or a coward?”

“Uh…” Ezekiel stammered, tongue-tied at his father’s unexpected severity.

Jeremiah arched a brow. “Is there resistance on her end?”

Ezekiel blinked. What a question to consider. Samina probably had no idea of his feelings. What would she say if she knew? He swallowed hard. “Dad, I don’t know. I mean, my friend didn’t tell me all the details.”

Jeremiah snorted, unconvinced. “If your friend knows what’s good for him, he’ll tell her before it’s too late. Even if he’s afraid that the dynamics of their friendship might change, sitting back will only make things more complicated for the two of them. And if others get involved, your friend will find himself wishing he’d acted faster instead of living a life full of regret.”

Dumbfounded, Ezekiel stared at his father with his mouth slack open.

He knew Jeremiah was right. He was a fool, waiting this long to see Samina as an important part of his life.  He’d mourned Winsome for so long, believing a missing part of his life would never be restored. He hadn’t thought of Samina making him feel whole again with her pure and innocent nature.

Ezekiel sat up, his heart fluttering at the thought of pursuing Samina. Once Samina returned home from her vacation, he would set things in motion to capture her heart for his. He hid a smile though Jeremiah returned to his task. “Thanks Dad. I’ll tell him.”

Jeremiah grunted. “You do that.”

Deidre hurried after her friend.  “Sheena, wait!” She bit her tongue when Sheena ducked from her reaching hand. Scowling, she stomped her feet in aggravation, not caring whose eyes were on them. She’d fix this now. “Sheena Elouise Dames. Stop right there.”

Sheena jerked to a stop and whirled around, eyes blazing with anger.  “How could you do that?! How dare you?”

Deidre drew in a breath, releasing it slowly. “I was just trying to help.”

“Oh please.” Sheena scowled. “You were only thinking of yourself.” Her scowl darkened, realizing something. “When you called me in Abbeville, it was because of this, wasn’t it?”

Deidre grimaced, looking down.

Sheena shook her head in disbelief. “Deidre, you’ve gone mad. You’re crazy.”

Deidre snapped her head up, glowering back. “Crazy? Because I was trying to help?” She rolled her eyes when Sheena scoffed incredulously. “And yes, I was helping you. Ezekiel is more than ready to move on.”

“Excuse me,” the store manager inched forward. Her mottled face was tense with anxiety as she addressed the two women. “Is everything alright?”

“We’re fine,” Deidre snapped, glare unwavering. “I’m tired of hearing you complain about how Ezekiel needs to be happy again. You’re always whining about how he needs to see other people. So as far as I’m concerned, I was doing you a favor. You’re welcome.”

Sheena growled. “I meant seeing Samina, not some random woman!” She jammed her hands to her hips. “I thought you agreed that the two should get together.”

“Wait, Samina and Ezekiel together?” Ebony asked from Deidre’s left. “How odd.”

“Haven’t you done enough?” Deidre threw over her shoulder. “Go away.”

Ebony blinked in hurt surprise at Deidre. Then she tossed Sheena a seething glare and spun on her heels, storming out of the store.

Bystanders twittered around them, gesturing to both Deidre and Sheena glaring at each other. The store manager moved even closer. “Could you please take your argument outside?”

“Fine.” Deidre nudged the cart from her path and stormed toward the exit doors. “I wasn’t buying anything anyway.”

Sheena rounded the cart and hurried after Deidre. “Come back here. We’re not done talking.”

Deidre spun about to face Sheena outside the store. “Now you want to talk.” She folded her arms. “Fine then. Talk.”

Sheena pursed her lips. “Look here, Missy. If anyone should be mad here, it’s me. You went behind my back.”

“Yeah well, so what?” Deidre kicked a shoulder, unapologetic. “I knew you wouldn’t do anything but whine and complain about it.”

“You’re a piece of work Deidre.” Sheena’s top lip curled in disgust. “I’m sick and tired of your manipulating and scheming.”

Deidre squinted, face taut. “Well, I’m tired of your whining and belly-aching. Grow up and solve your own problems.”

Wide-eyed, customers stealthily watched the bickering friends as they crept slowly around them in and out of the store.

“At least I don’t nag and try controlling my family to do what I want,” Sheena tossed back, anger filling up inside. “Isn’t that why none of your children are close to you? And even your husband’s hiding from you because of your nagging?”

Deidre curled her hands into fists, her jaw clenched so tight. “What are you saying?”

“Have you ever thought why Samina’s never gotten married? It’s because you’re too demanding about every decision she makes. If the poor girl sneezes wrong, you’re up in airs criticizing her.”

“Like you’re any better?” Deidre scowled darkly. “What about how you baby Ezekiel like he’s not man enough to figure his own life. Or Jere for that matter! Don’t let me get started on how you can’t make one single decision on your own. Girl, you can’t do anything, much less breathe without Jeremiah’s say in the matter. How suffocated he must feel.”

“At least my family can make their own choices.” Sheena stalked forward, jabbing her finger directly in front of Deidre’s face. “At least I allow my own child to make his own life choices, good or bad. The minute your children do something you didn’t plan, you’re back to scheming, back to manipulating.”

“Shut up.” Deidre flung her hands in the air and spun away, stalking toward the car. “I’m done talking to you right now.”

“Oh trust me. You’re the last person I want to talk to anyway.” Sheena started to reach for her keys and immediately scowled. She’d come with Deidre. Scoffing, Sheena turned back toward the store.

“And where are you going?” Deidre called after her.

“Getting a ride home with Ebony!” Sheena tossed over her shoulder.

Deidre laughed a scathing laugh. “That woman doesn’t even like you.”

Sheena halted to a stop but refused to look back.

“Stop being immature and get in the car.” Deidre pulled out her keys and unlocked the car. Not waiting to see if Sheena was turning back around, she ducked inside the car and started the engine. She rolled her eyes when the passenger’s door opened, Sheena sliding inside.

“I won’t forgive you Deidre. You’re wrong for this,” Sheena mumbled as Deidre reversed from the parking spot.

“There’s nothing for you to forgive,” Deidre tossed back. “As far as I’m concerned. I did both Samina and Ezekiel a favor.”

“Some favor,” Sheena scoffed aloud. “And if they’re in love with each other?”

“They’re not, Sheena. Samina has someone else.”

Surprised, Sheena jerked her gaze to Deidre’s. “What? Who? When?”

“Last week. He’s a nice young man and she’s going to give him a chance.” She glanced once at Sheena’s stupefied expression. “And I’d prefer that she focus on him right now instead of confusing Ezekiel’s vague feelings.”

“Oh wow…” Sheena breathed, pulling her eyes back to the road. “I had no idea.”

Deidre smiled wanly. “I don’t blame you. You’ve been busy with Jere and his aunt’s funeral.” She sighed, squeezing the steering wheel. “Look, I’m sorry for going over your head but I really was just trying to help.”

Sheena rubbed her forehead. “I know…”

“Both our kids deserve happiness and a chance at love. If Samina’s getting her chance now, I’d also want Ezekiel to get his.”

Sheena’s lips twitched. “But not with each other.”

“Ezekiel’s already had a shot at this, Sheena. He’s had almost ten years with the love of his life. I’d like Samina to get a shot too at loving a man who has only loved and married one woman.” She cringed. “I don’t mean that your boy is used goods or anything. Don’t get me wrong.”

“No Dee… I think that’s exactly what you’re saying.” Sheena folded her arms across her chest.

Deidre gripped the steering wheel. “Put yourself in my shoes, Sheena. If you had a daughter spend most of her life pining over a guy who never thought about her until now, would you be jumping for joy over it?”

She continued in Sheena’s silence. “I’m sure Ezekiel is being sincere now but it’s not fair to Samina. I want her to be thoroughly pursued and loved by a man with eyes and heart reserved for her.”

“And you think this young man, whoever he is, could be it for her?” Sheena sounded pained, hurt.

“I pray so.” Deidre sighed at the pout on her friend’s face. She knew Sheena loved Samina like a daughter. “And I’m sorry. I know we’d always dreamed they’d get married and we’d be grandparents together, but it didn’t work out that way… Can’t we just accept it and move on without ruining our friendship?”

“I understand.” Sheena turned her head to stare out the side mirror. “I guess I feel sorry for the girl… I know how it feels to love someone who’s loved before. It’s a very frustrating and most lonely feeling.”

“You and me both, dear friend.” Deidre faced the road with a pensive stare. “You and me both…”

<<Chapter 28 || Chapter 30>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 18

Posted on 03/04/2015

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Karen scowled as Samina shoved a stack of children’s books into her green-striped canvas bag. “For goodness’ sake, it’s six in the morning. Don’t tell me you’re going there again.” She stood akimbo, watching Samina bend to lace her sandals.

“Then I won’t,” Samina answered easily, swinging the bag over her shoulder.  “Lock up for me.”

Karen gritted her teeth and shuffled barefoot to block Samina’s path. “Why are you doing this?”

Samina threw an exasperated glance to the ceiling. “Because I gave them my word,” she answered firmly, glaring at Karen. “Now I told Zeke I’m already on my way—”

“Ezekiel is in town?” Eyes wide as tea saucers, Karen followed Samina out the door, unperturbed by the cool breeze pushing against her flimsy tank and silk pajama pants. “Well, if he’s here why are you still going? Hey, I’m talking to you!” She grabbed Samina’s arm.

“Stop it!” Samina snatched her arm back. “Will you quit it?!” At Karen’s grimace, she dragged in a harsh breath and released it. “Can I please do what I want?”

Karen mutely took a step back, face hard as stone.

“Thank you,” Samina clipped out and stomped down the sidewalk to her car.

Scoffing in disgust at the flashing taillights of Samina’s car down the street, Karen spun on her heels and stormed back into the house. Body trembling with frustration, she slammed the door and leaned against it.

Then the phone rang loud in the empty house.

Rolling her eyes, she walked up to it and snatched it on the second ring. “Hello.”

At the drawn-out silence on the other end, Karen narrowed her eyes. “Who’s this?”

“Karen… It’s me.”

Karen clenched her jaw. “Ada.”

Ada sniffed with disdain. “Where’s Sammie? Put her on the phone.”

“Not here,” Karen snapped in annoyance. “Stop blowing up the house phone and call her cellphone.”

“Look, I don’t have time for this. Where is she? You know I’d rather talk with her than you right now. She just isn’t picking up my calls. What’s going on? Is she okay?”

“Okay?” Karen bit back an ornery laugh. “Depends on your definition of okay. She’s cranky and impossible but yeah, she’s fine. Why?”

“Karen, she’s my maid-of-honor. My wedding is in a couple of weeks and she’s nowhere to be found. Why on earth is she avoiding me?”

Karen sneered at Ada’s whining tone. “Maybe if you weren’t a bridezilla, people won’t avoid you like the plague. Besides, she’s too busy babysitting kids to listen to anyone else.”

Ada inhaled sharply. “She took the job? What changed her mind? Is she okay?”

Karen clenched her jaw. “Look, I don’t have time. Could I go now? I have to get ready for school.”

“Yeah okay.” Ada sighed. “Could you please tell Sammie to call me? I really need her.”

“I’m not your messenger, Ada.” She eyed her fingernails. “You come over and tell her yourself. Her shift ends at six.” With that, Karen disconnected the call over Ada’s protests and stormed down the hall to her room.

Still reeling from her violent response to Karen’s meddling, Samina sat in her car parked a few blocks from Ezekiel’s home. Closing her eyes, Samina rested her forehead against the steering wheel, replaying the scene. The stunned look on Karen’s face niggled at her conscience. She shouldn’t have behaved that way, constantly losing control of her muddled emotions and veering from fear to frustration. This wasn’t how her life was supposed to turn out.

At this age, she was supposed to own a two-story home with magnolia trees growing in the front yard. She was supposed to be someone’s mother and someone’s wife. Ezekiel’s wife.

Her cheeks burned shamefully, her eyes burned. That dream died long ago when Ezekiel introduced Winsome to the family. He seemed happy and she quietly slipped into the background, content to wish him much happiness.

She squeezed the steering wheel. Thirty years old, forever alone, jobless and possibly fighting a rare illness. “What life is this?” she muttered into the silence.

A dull tap on her window made her jump and Samina peeked under her arm at the window, seeking the intruder to her pity party of one.

Ezekiel stared right back, a bemused expression on his face.

Face on fire, Samina jerked upright and quickly brushed a hand over her curls before rolling down the window. “Hey…” she managed, cheeks tingling.

Ezekiel smiled warmly. “Good morning. How are you?”

Her smile was wobbly. “I’m fine. And you?” Grabbing her purse, she pushed open the door and stepped out when her ankle twisted and she leaned forward.

His hand shot out to grab her arm but Samina ducked away, grabbing the door to steady her balance.

“Easy,” Ezekiel muttered, his gaze settling back on her face.  “You okay?”

“Yup,” Samina squeaked, adjusting her clothes. She stepped around him and strode quickly up the driveway. “Are you about to leave for work?”

Much to her chagrin, Ezekiel jogged up beside her and flashed her a smile. “Just about. The girls are still asleep so I’ll just sneak out before they wake.” He slowed to a stop when she climbed onto the porch. “Sam?”

“Hmm?” Samina hesitated before turning to face him.

At her coffee eyes peeking innocently at him, Ezekiel fought the sudden urge to grab her in an embrace. Stunned by his wanton thoughts, he took one deliberate step back and folded his hands behind his back. “Thanks again for this.”

Samina smiled gently. “It’s okay.” She turned to enter the house.

Chest tightening as she closed the door, Ezekiel released a slow, measured breath. “Zeke…” he said quietly, staring at the closed door. “You’re crazy.”

Samina closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against the door. The warmth in Ezekiel’s eyes sent shivers down her spine. It couldn’t be, she told herself and turned away from the door.

Adelaide stood directly in front of her, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

Samina shuffled back, her heart in her throat.

Adelaide blinked. “What are you doing?”

“Uh nothing.” Samina cleared her throat. “Good morning.”

The young girl merely peered out the window and then grunted in disbelief, turning toward the kitchen.

“Hey Adelaide,” Samina started tentatively, heart skipping a beat.

The girl halted her steps but didn’t turn around.

“Look…” Samina said to her back. “I don’t want to step on any one’s toes here. Can’t we just be friends?”

“Laide.”

Samina’s brows rose slightly. “Pardon?”

The girl turned slowly, focusing her dark gaze on Samina. “It’s Laide. No one calls me Adelaide except if I’m in trouble.”

Her shoulders sagged in relief and she managed a smile. “Oh, okay. Laide, can’t we be friends?”

Laide’s probing eyes studied Samina’s face skeptically before sighing. “Okay…fine. Can you make pancakes?”

Samina blinked. “Pancakes?”

“Yeah.”

“Sure, I can.” She smiled. “Is that what you want for breakfast?”

Laide nodded, her eyes still checking for Samina’s sincerity. “Can you make strawberry and chocolate-chip pancakes?”

“Sure.” Samina felt her shoulders relaxing with each word spoken in confidence.  “Any flavor you want, I can make it.”

“Cool.” Laide nodded. “I like strawberry pancakes. Beulah likes chocolate-chip.”

“Then strawberry and chocolate-chip pancakes coming right up.” Samina offered the young girl a kind smile. “Eggs and sausages?”

“Scrambled and no sausage.”

“Yes Ma’am.” Samina gave Laide a mock salute and Laide’s lips twisted to hold back an amused smile, her heart danced triumphantly.

Later that evening, Ezekiel quietly watched the taillights on Samina’s car disappear around the corner. Shaking his head in bemusement, he turned to face the house. His steps halted, spotting Laide’s shadow in the open doorway.

Chuckling, Ezekiel walked up to her and slung an arm around her shoulders, leading her back into the house. “Where’s Beulah?”

“Coloring.” Laide ducked out of from under his arm and turned to face him. “Dad?”

“Hmm?” He slid the top lock of the door in place.

“Is Aunty Sammy married?”

His fingers stilled over the chain lock. His stomach flipped over.

“Dad?”

Heart in his throat, he turned to study Laide’s imploring gaze. “What brought on that question, sweetheart?”

Laide folded her arms across her chest. “Isn’t she your age?”

“Umm…” Ezekiel stalled for time, mulling through her question.

Laide heaved a sigh. “Never mind.” She moved around him toward the stairs. “Goodnight Dad.”

He slowly released a breath and watched her climb the stairs. “I’ll be right up to tuck you two in.” Ezekiel rubbed his chin. “Sam married…?”

Again, his mind summoned the image of Samina’s lovely face peeking from a white lace veil.

This time, Ezekiel smiled and climbed the stairs to his daughters’ room.

His grin widened, hearing their muffled giggles. His heart quickened when he opened the door and found them huddling under the covers. He stepped into the room. “Are you two ready for bed or should I come after playtime?”

Beulah’s tinkling laughter pulled him to the bed. Her giggles got louder when Ezekiel poked the blanket. When he snatched the covers away, Beulah screeched in delight and buried her face into Laide’s stomach.

Laide couldn’t hold back a smile as her father tickled Beulah mercilessly.

Once settled in bed, Ezekiel flanked between his two girls, he gathered them close with both arms wrapped around their shoulders. He smiled blissfully at the sounds of their even breathing.

“Papa?” Beulah broke the silence, her voice muffled against his work shirt.

“Hmm?” he stroked her warm cheek.

Beulah sighed. “I like Aunty Sammy.”

“Me too…” Ezekiel smiled. “Is that so?”

“Uh-hmm.” Her head bobbed enthusiastically against his chest. “She’s nice and makes the best pancakes ever. And she’s pretty, just like Princess Meggie.”

The image of Samina wearing a tiara popped up in his mind and Ezekiel arched a brow. “Who?”

“Princess Megara from Hercules,” Laide answered quietly, her gaze steady on her father’s face.

“Ah, I see.” Although he couldn’t remember sitting through that film, Ezekiel nodded. “Yeah well, Aunty Sammy is pretty…”

As the girls relaxed in sleep, Ezekiel drew his daughters closer. Later on, the image of pretty Samina dressed in royal garb was the only thing on his mind as he tossed and turned all night on the futon couch.

<<Chapter 17 || Chapter 19>>

  

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