Posts tagged “homecoming

Homecoming, Chapter 9

Posted on 19/01/2016

“We should have a party to celebrate,” Darah proposed as the whole crew sat around the table. She pulled out a folder from behind her back and placed it open on the table.

Abe and Phoebe exchanged glances before peering down at the elaborate scrapbook page.

Bart sighed. “This isn’t necessary, you know that right?”

Darah wrinkled her nose at him. No matter how many times her siblings had explained that this was a temporary solution for Geraldine’s in-laws, she refused to listen to reason. She beamed at the woman beside him. “Geri, what do you think?”

Geraldine silently studied the page, taking in the meticulous work Darah had put into it. She sniffed and the Teka men stiffened. Even Eleazer frowned with concern as Geraldine swiped a hand over her cheeks.

Bart could feel the eyes of his siblings on him and he hesitantly lifted a hand to Geraldine’s shoulder. Except his hand hovered, causing  Darah to scowl.

Then he dropped his hand when Geraldine sat up.  She gave Darah a weak smile. “It’s nice, Darah. Thank you.”

“So we can have one then?” the teenage girl asked, hope in her eyes.

She’d been this excited when Abe and Phoebe announced their nuptials, helping her future sister-in-law with wedding errands, and endearing herself to Phoebe’s mother with her creative ideas for the ceremony. The teenager loved weddings and Bart could see she was practically drooling at the chance to plan his.

Before he could even protest, Phoebe waved him off and turned to Darah. “It’s a good idea, it certainly will get everyone in the mood. Maybe we can take pictures so you can show your in-laws.

“That sounds fine.” Geraldine managed a wobbly smile.

Phoebe winked, then turned to her young sister-in-law. “Listen Darah, think small gathering. Nothing too crazy, alright?”

“Got it!” Darah turned to Geraldine. “It’ll be something nice and simple to celebrate your engagement.”

“One that’ll end soon,” Bart muttered, his derisive statement spoiling the mood. He shrugged at the glares directed his way.

Geraldine’s wobbly smile waned. “Guys, I’m sorry to get you involved so foolishly…”

Giving Bart a withering glare, Phoebe reached over to grab Geraldine’s hand. “We’re family, Geri, and family sticks together no matter what. Especially this one, right guys?”

Abe, Darah and Eleazar nodded. Bart tamped a sigh.

Biting her bottom lip, she looked up at Phoebe’s kind smile and feeling foolish that she’d once resented the woman for stepping into a role she’d aspired to years ago. She lowered her head again, ashamed. “Thank you.”

“Of course.” Phoebe squeezed Geraldine’s hand. “Now Darah, give us the less extravagant version of the wedding plans.”

Darah promptly delved into her presentation of the simple backyard party; painting a lovely picture of fresh lilies and tealights strewn all over the backyard, with a simple two-tiered carrot and vanilla bean cake.

“No fondant!” Eleazar demanded, prompting laughter for the first time that evening.

Darah nodded, scribbling it down in her scrapbook. “Buttermilk frosting then. That okay guys?”

The newly-engaged couple nodded; a wistful smile present on Geraldine’s face. Phoebe caught Bart peeking at Geraldine and she nudged Abe. When he gave her his attention, she subtly gestured toward the couple. Amused, Abe rolled his eyes and shook his head.

Then Phoebe wriggled her brows in a secret message to which he understood and answered with a nod. Their exchange went unnoticed by the others.

“Do we have to lie though?” Eleazar asked, his brow furrowed.

Darah heaved a sigh. “It’s not a lie, Eli… Bart and Geri are getting engaged.”

Eleazar looked to Abe and Phoebe. “So they’ll get married like you guys did?”

The room grew silent as the adults exchanged glances. Then as each adult grappled with a simpler explanation for the youngest Teka sibling, the doorbell rang.

Abe quickly stood and hurried to the door. Pulling it open, his eyes widened in surprise. “Junior!”

“Junior?” Phoebe released Geraldine’s hand and stood from the table. She walked over to her husband just as he released Clement from a hug. “What are you doing here?”

Clement gave her a wry smile. “Now what kind of welcome is that for your favorite?”

Smirking, Phoebe opened her arms to embrace him. “Of course I’m happy to see you. Pleasantly surprised, actually.” She patted his shoulder and leaned back. “What brings you home?”

Something flickered in his eyes as he released her. “I’ll explain in a minute.”

“Explain what?” Abe and Phoebe said simultaneously.

“In a minute.” He laughed at their similar expressions and turned toward the den. “Anyone home?”

Eleazar and Darah hurried to meet him. Catching each other’s eyes for a brief second, the newly-engaged couple awkwardly left the table to join the family.

“Hey guys.” Clement’s eyes moved over to Geraldine and his brows shot up in surprise. “Whoa, you’re back.”

Geraldine gave him a weak smile. “Hey Junior.”

“Guess what?” Eleazar laughed when Clement ruffled his hair and leaned to his side.

Clement chuckled. “What am I guessing?”

Eleazar hooked a thumb at the couple closest to the kitchen. “Bart and Geri are getting married.”

Clement’s gaze swung to his older brother and his grin widened. “Well it’s about time.”

Geraldine snuck Bart a curious glance. Bart gave his brother a tight smile.

“It’s a fake marriage, silly,” Darah muttered.

Clement’s grin eased off, confusion marring his forehead. “Fake what?”

Abe came to stand by Clement’s shoulder and placed his hand there. “First explain why you’re here in the middle of the semester. Did something happen?”

All eyes turned to Clement and the young man gave them a weak smile. “I dropped out.”

“You did what?!” Everyone except Geraldine and Eleazar demanded in disbelief.

<<Chapter 8 || Chapter 10>>

My sincerest apologies for the delay… I’m back now. 🙂

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 4

Posted on 23/02/2015

southerncharms3

Ezekiel Dames whistled to the off-beat singing from the two girls in the backseat. He glanced at the rear-view mirror, pausing at his whistling.

“Beulah, stay in your seat,” he said firmly.

“Yes Papa,” Beulah answered meekly before they continued their excited cheering.

They were on their way to his parents’ home and he couldn’t wait for the long journey to be over.

“Papa?” Beulah’s voice invaded his thoughts.

He glanced at the mirror again, smirking at her toothy smile. “Hmm?”

“I’m hungry.”

Ezekiel looked down at the blinking numbers over the radio. “Honey, can you wait a few minutes? We’re almost there.”

“Okay Papa,” the girl answered sweetly.

The surprised father’s eyes shot back to the mirror, noting now that Beulah snuggled against her older sister’s shoulder. He grinned when Adelaide raised a questioning brow at him and winked at her. She shrugged her unoccupied shoulder, a small smile lifting the corner of her mouth.

With a sigh of relief, Ezekiel focused his attention on the road ahead.

“Grappa!” Beulah shrieked excitedly an hour later as Ezekiel pulled their dark-blue sedan onto the driveway of his parents’ home. She pressed her face against the window, waving at the older dark-skinned man standing on the lawn, totting a folded colorful umbrella and a canvas bag.

Ezekiel smiled warmly as Jeremiah, his father, looked up with a wide grin.

“Hold on,” Ezekiel instructed both daughters, Beulah tugging at the door handle. Thank goodness for the child-lock in the rented car. Shaking his head, he put the car in park behind an unknown blue Honda-CRV and stepped out. “Hey dad,” he called to Jeremiah, walking around the car to let out his jittery youngest daughter.

“You made it in time,” Jeremiah replied heartily, waving at his two grand-daughters. He lowered to his knees as his youngest granddaughter hopped out of her seat and skipped into his arms. “Oof!” he wrapped his arms about her small body and closed his eyes, breathing her warm scent. How he’d missed this two.

His eyes opened to watch the older of the two girls step out behind her father, standing with hands folded in front of her. Jeremiah raised a thick brow and gestured her forward.

Adelaide ducked her head shyly and shuffled to Jeremiah who tugged at her arm and pulled her into a hug. Ezekiel watched with a rueful expression as his daughter’s furrowed brow and how she wrapped a hesitant arm around her grandfather’s shoulders.

Chagrined, Ezekiel rubbed the back of his neck. In his poor attempt to keep things ‘normal’ with the girls, he’d chosen to remain in Washington despite his parents’ urging, not wanting to lose Winsome’s faded memory. Holding back a sigh, he walked to the trunk and propped it open. “Where’s Mom?”

“She’s in the kitchen,” Jeremiah replied, standing to his feet. “With your aunt Dee.”

Ezekiel’s hands stilled on the bags in his trunk.

“Come on girls, let’s go inside and greet Grandma,” Jeremiah said without glancing once at his son and ushered his granddaughters in the house.

Peering over his shoulder to stare at the blue Jeep, Ezekiel’s brow furrowed deep in thought. It’d been more than three years since he’d let himself think about Samina and her family.

Ezekiel shook his head to clear his wandering thoughts. The sound of little Beulah squealing in delight as she greeted her grandmother pulled Ezekiel from the car and he hurried inside to greet his mother and her best friend, Auntie Deidre “Dee” Wells.

Samina tried not to focus on the ruckus outside, her insides twisted in knots as she glued her attention on the roasting sweet potatoes in front of her. The sun bore down on her bare neck but she barely noticed it, glaring at the stacked food while her mind wandered

“You know staring them down won’t make them cook faster,” her father, Gabriel, whispered at her ear.

Samina jolted from her reverie and snatching the fork, immediately regretting it as the hot metal seared her palm. Hissing, she dropped the fork and winced as it clattered to the floor. “Sorry…” she mumbled as her father chuckled and bent to pick it up.

“You okay?” Gabriel asked, dark eyes dancing with amusement as he handed her the fork.

She forced herself to nod and averted her gaze. “I’m fine.” Stepping back, the back of her legs hit the cooler, invoking her father’s raised brow. “I’ll be back,” Samina mumbled and shuffled up the deck stairs to the kitchen door.

“Oh good, you’re here,” Karen breathed, pushing an empty glass pan and griddle in her hand. “Can you make the cheesecake? I gotta go.”

Samina scowled, pushing it back into her sister’s hands. “I have to go too.”

Karen narrowed her eyes at her sister. “You weren’t thinking to leave me to do this, were you?”

Samina looked around, brow furrowed. “Where’s Mom?”

“Aunty Sheena’s house,” Karen replied, pressing the griddle and pan into Samina’s side.

Samina ducked under Karen’s hands and stepped around the counter. “Why?”

Karen rolled her eyes, dumping the pan onto the counter. “Catching up—who cares? I have to go.”

“Catching up for what? They just saw each other on Sunday?” Samina frowned as her sister started for the door. “Hey! I have somewhere to be in two hours.”

“I’ll be back before then,” Karen called over her shoulder, pulling her purse from the couch. “Don’t tell Mom or Dad.”

Samina’s shoulders sagged in defeat at the sound of the door slamming behind Karen. Glowering at the griddle and pan, she snatched them in her hands just as the front door swung open.

Her eighteen-year-old brother, Obadiah, staggered in lugging a cooler full of ice and cold drinks.

Lowering it to the floor by the fridge, he nodded a silent greeting and turned when the back door sprang open and their father peeped inside. “Where’s your bro—oh, Obad, come give me a hand.”

“Coming,” Obadiah spun on his heels and strode past Gabriel onto the deck.

Gabriel raised a brow at Samina’s pout. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing…” Samina shook her head.  “Just thinking to change up the cheesecake recipe a little.”

“Don’t change it too much.” Gabriel smirked. “Your Uncle Jere’ll complain for days.”

She gave him a shy smile, knowing how much Uncle Jeremiah raved of her baking and put in a standing order for the cheesecake at every party. “I won’t…”

He tilted his head to study her. “Something tells me it’s more than just the cheesecake—” he halted, glancing behind him. “Son, use the tongs!” He scoffed and closed the door on his rebuke, leaving Samina to stare at the door.

Glancing once at the clock, Samina heaved a sigh before toting the glass pan to the refrigerator.

Sheena smiled wistfully, watching Ezekiel cuddle with a sleeping Beulah  on the couch. Adelaide propped her head against her father’s shoulder, lips parted in sleep. What a precious sight they made and her heart warmed. Her smile widened when Ezekiel stifled a yawn to wake.

“Long drive, hmm?”

Disoriented, Ezekiel blinked at his mother before giving her a weary smile. “I didn’t know you were back…” he said in a soft voice so as not to wake the girls.

She nodded, leaning against the doorpost separating the living room from the main hall. “It was fun. Wish you and the girls could’ve come.” She rubbed her arms. “But Dee told them you were tired from the long trip.”

He nodded, his heart stirring with slight regret at having missed the family picnic. “I’d have stopped by if I’d known…” Ezekiel stifled another yawn, blinking the sleep away. “How is… everyone?”

“Fine. We were just catching up.” She grinned when Adelaide snuggled closer to her father’s side. “So precious.”

“Thank you…” Ezekiel muttered, although he couldn’t take credit for the sweet-faced beauties. A pang of sadness came over him at the image of his wife’s bright smile.

Sheena noticed the faraway look on Ezekiel’s face and sighed. “We all miss her terribly. Winsome was such a sweetheart.”

Her son could only nod, his fingers stroking Beulah’s arm curled under his.

Pushing away from the arch, Sheena walked over to him with her arms open. “Why don’t we take them to the room upstairs?” At Ezekiel’s hesitance, she gently untucked Beulah’s arm from his and slung it over her shoulder.

Quietly, the two of them managed to carry both girls up to the room she’d prepared for them.

Ezekiel was speechless as he stared at the room he’d once called his own. “Wow…” he murmured when Sheena stepped away from the sleeping children now tucked in his old bed, decorated in pink and purple frilly things. “Everything looks different.”

Sheena grinned proudly at her handiwork. “Your dad helped… And of course, Sam lent her expertise.” She smiled wider. “Everyone’s so happy you’re back home.”

His smile waned a little. There was still much to be done and even the warm reception of his family and old friends could not ease his anxiety. “It’s really nice, Mom,” he mumbled. “Thank you.”

She reached up to pat his cheek gently, her gaze affectionate over his features.

Ezekiel noticed the glimmer in her eyes and reached up to cover her hand with his.

“You’re doing a good job with them, Zeke,” Sheena insisted gently. “Trust me…”

He averted his eyes, focusing on the sleeping girls cuddled together. “It doesn’t feel like that.”

“You just need some help, that’s all.” Sheena squeezed his arm. “That’s why your father and I are here for you.” When Ezekiel turned to envelop her in a hug, her heart broke a little, having missed holding him. “You’ll be just fine,” she whispered against his sleeve, urging herself not to cry in front of him or the children.

Later on, Ezekiel watched over his sleeping daughters before sneaking downstairs to settle on the makeshift bed in the study. His steps down the darkened hallway slowed to a stop at the sound of his mother’s laughter coming from the kitchen.

“How did it go? It’s too bad we didn’t get to see Sam. Jere’s been raving of the new recipe…”

Ezekiel’s ears twitched subconsciously at the mention of Samina, his childhood friend.

“Aw I bet she’s excited, with the wedding and all the preparations…”

He leaned against the wall separating the kitchen from the hallway, ears perked in attention.

“Planning the wedding will surely keep her busy,” Sheena continued, a smile in her voice. “Tell her congratulations and if she needs any help, she shouldn’t hesitate to ask.” Then she giggled again. “Alright lady, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Goodnight.”

Ezekiel turned away to the study and slowly perched on the futon, listening to his mother’s slow footsteps on the other side of the wall. Numb, he leaned back into the soft cushion and stared up at the ceiling. Samina was getting married, finally. He should be happy for her, Ezekiel insisted. Yet for reasons he couldn’t explain, the news of her upcoming nuptials only left him unsettled for the rest of the night.

<<Chapter 3 || Chapter 5>>

  

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