Posts tagged “gabon’s gift

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.

Excerpt from Gabon’s Gift

Posted on 05/12/2013

kirin

Jemma

I gaped at him, unsure of what I’d just heard. He stared back at me, expectantly as if he thought I understood him. “Repeat that please.”

Elijah narrowed his eyes, rather impatiently too. “You heard me.”

“No, I don’t think I did.” I lifted the mug to my lips, frowning at how my arms tingled.

He sighed. “The only time we both can go is next week… or next year, around this same time.”

I nodded, realizing I’d heard him after all. Shaking my head, I lowered the mug to the table and sighed, leaning back in my chair. “And the reason for this is because…?”

“Tax season.”

I threw a scowl at him. “Of course.” Somehow, I’d forgotten Elijah was an accountant and a competent one at that. Not only did he take care of our company’s accounts, other businesses sought his help around the dreaded tax season. I could recall countless times he’d gone MIA because of the overwhelming requests for his assistance and counsel on tax-related matters. “Then I’ll go alone.”

He scoffed lightly, eyeing me with skepticism. “Like your dad’ll let you.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “Whether he or you want to believe it or not, I’m a grown woman.”

His eyes swept over me and then his lips quirked up in amusement. “No one said you weren’t.”

I bristled at his candid statement and spun my chair around, glaring at the window behind me. Then realizing with rising annoyance that I was somehow hiding, I pushed away from the chair and strode around the desk toward him. “In any case, I don’t need either my dad’s permission or yours,” I jabbed my index finger against his chest. “To go across the world for my story.”

Eli only smirked and brushed my hand from his chest, walking around me to sit on my chair. He crossed his arms over his chest. “Sure you can, but will you go alone?”

“Why the heck not?” I jammed my hands to my hips, glaring at him. I didn’t understand why he had that annoying smug look on his face but I sure wanted to wipe it off, trying to ignore the niggling inside that he knew something I didn’t.

He had the audacity to shrug nonchalantly and sweep his eyes around the room as if he’d just come in for the first time. “Well… isn’t it you that despises snakes? Or is that Tessie?”

I glowered down at him, not sure what to be annoyed that he dared to mistake me for Tessie or that he teased me over a pesky phobia. “What about it?”

“Gabon is known for its creepy crawlies.”

Cold shivers immediately trickled down the base of my feet and I inadvertently lifted my right leg. The smile he tucked away only made me more annoyed that I barely registered what he’d just said. Then his smile widened a roguish smile once it finally hit me. I inhaled sharply. “What?”

“Vipers, Jemimah. Pythons. With black eyes and long split tongues.”

I shuddered inwardly, my stomach churning. My skin was suddenly plagued with goose bumps that pressed against my clothes. I moved toward the door as if his words were what I wished to escape from. “That’s not funny, you jerk.”

His face was void of any mischief now. “I’m serious.” He sighed, looking down. “I should’ve realized sooner you wouldn’t know.”

My knees trembled as I imagined thick-bodied reptiles slithering toward me. My worst nightmare was being surrounded by serpents of every color, every blasted one of them marking me as their prey. A whimper escaped my lips and I shook my head in attempt to clear my mind. I barely noticed Elijah standing until he was beside me. I blinked, catching a whiff of Eli’s cologne. Meaning he was either standing too close or I was on the verge of swooning.

I straightened my back and stepped away from him. “I’m fine.”

“Jem—“

“I’m fine,” I clipped in return and swung a glare at him. “No thanks to you.” I plucked at my shirt, not liking the way everything pressed against my tingling skin. “Ugh,” I said in mid-shudder. “I really hate you. Why’d you tell me that?”

“Would you have preferred being greeted by one instead?”

I seared him with another glare, wanting to box his ears. Rolling my eyes, I moved to my desk and scooted on top of it, raising my feet from the floor. At a muffled cough, I looked up to see Eli struggling not to laugh. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” I couldn’t help glancing down around my feet.

“Your phobia for snakes is mildly amusing, yes.” He strolled toward me and I scooted away, still glaring at him. He rolled his eyes and reached for my hand. I moved it away from his reach and he laughed openly then. “Oh boy… I guess we’re not going anymore?”

I had to think. It was more than just a phobia that often gripped me with fear. The thought of going alone to a foreign country, regardless of my need for this story, was daunting. A crippling thought. I eyed the man before me, his morose gaze focused only on mine as if my next words would determine what he’d do. As much as I disliked the idea of him trailing after me all month in a foreign country, I disliked me going alone even more. He would no doubt be annoyingly overprotective and would probably get on my nerves every second of the day as he charmed the locals all the while acting like the appointed big brother. But he’d be there. With me.

“Well…?” his probing voice shoved through my thoughts.

I lifted my eyes to his face and sighed heavily. “Alright.”

He dared to raise those thick brows at me. “Alright what?”

I tossed an exasperated glance to the ceiling. “Let’s go.”

“Next week then?”

“Yeah sure.” I fought a grimace at the fleeting image of snakes pooled around my feet.

“We’ll be fine,” he said with a smile in his voice.

I gave him a wary glance, not sure whether to trust him like a fool for the sake of hope. It was for the story that would propel me out of the bottomless, disparaging pit of writer’s block. “If you say so.” There was no turning back now.

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