Posts tagged “intervention

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 47

Posted on 28/05/2015

forestor

Topher’s first love was a spindly blond girl with violet-blue eyes and a pouty pink mouth named Cindy Feltwether. She was eight years old and had a mean right arm. He was six years old at the time, short and spotty with freckles everywhere.

His eight-year old neighbor Cindy tugged at his curls and poked his freckles, calling them his leopard spots. It didn’t matter to him because he loved her. Nadine scoffed then and still did to this day, reminding him that his first love had shaved her head and tattooed most parts of her body. She was also in a Canadian jail for multiple counts of grand theft auto and trespassing.

He’d liked many other girls since Cindy. Even dated a few but the result was the same. Nadine didn’t trust his judgment and antagonized every single woman he introduced. Most were turned off by her sharp tongue and prickling personality. Except Samina.

His heart fluttered every time her gaze warmed at the mention of his aunt. Nadine too was intrigued by the shy beautiful Samina, even though she acted nonchalant. He’d believed Samina was the one because she’d charmed Nadine so easily.

Staring at her as she trudged around the front of the car, brow pensive, Topher still believed she was the one. He couldn’t tell his heart otherwise.

He watched as Samina suddenly looked up, her face brightening into a smile that warmed him all over. Topher frowned as she embraced the girls. He squinted as she offered a shy smile to the girls’ father; Ezekiel Dames.

He didn’t set out to memorize his name; he could’ve cared less about the man except that he was actively championing Samina’s heart. In fact, since they arrived at the campgrounds, the widowed man refused to leave her side. Topher could see right through his hovering act. He was staking his claim, and making sure Topher knew it.

Then the girls hurried off to chase butterflies, waving colorful nets in their hands as they ran. Topher watched in growing agitation as Ezekiel pulled Samina into a hug, his hand pressed at the small of his back. His head bent close to hers, whispering something in her ear.

It better not be sweet nothings or I’ll…

“Toph?”

Swallowing a growl, Topher forced himself to look away. And met Karen’s eyes dancing in curiosity. He quickly straightened his face. “What’s up?”

“We’re about to start the chili and Dad says he wants your help with something. Come.” She curled an arm under his and pulled him toward her. “I have a proposition for you…”

Topher swallowed hard as she led him over the uneven terrain. He forced himself not to look back and see the cozy scene with Samina and another man. As if hearing her words for the first time, he dug his heels to stop her. The gleam in her eye made him nervous. “Look, Karen… I—”

“Relax Toph,” Karen replied, turning her eyes forward. “I’m not flirting with you.” She then stopped and faced him. “I know something you don’t know yet.” Her lips tugged upwards. “And you’ll have to trust and listen to me if you want things to change.”

He frowned. “Change…?”

She arched a brow. “With Samina.”

His heart did a somersault as it always did when her name crossed his mind. “…Okay?”

She smiled. “You should know that we’re all Team T here.”

“We?” Topher cocked his head. “Team T?”

“Team Toph as opposed to Team Z, for Zeke.” She wrinkled her nose. “Ezekiel.”

His lips twitched a smile. He straightened his face, assuming an air of nonchalance. “Is that so?”

“You should know that Zeke is Samina’s first love. This… relationship is only because she wants to give her past feelings a chance, closure.” Karen paused when she heard Obadiah calling for her to hurry. “Anyway, we better hurry. Get good seats.” She gave him a conspiring smile and wriggled her brows.

Though unsure sure Samina’s relationship with Ezekiel had little to do with closure, he let himself consider Karen’s words. Ezekiel was Samina’s first love, like Cindy was his. Fantasy was Cindy all grown-up with flowing platinum-blond hair and a killer smile, not the series of mugshots sporting a snarling face covered with badly-picked tattoos and a pointy head that was her reality. He paused, wondering about Ezekiel’s reality. Hidden warts, a bad temper, bad breath…

Having witnessed the kiss Samina shared with the man outside her parents’ driveway last night, Topher’s mood darkened as the sky above. There was no way it could’ve been bad breath.

“Toph?” Karen repeated when he didn’t hear her the first time.

Pushing aside the disturbing thought, Topher offered her a smile. As they walked together, he glanced over at her, curiosity trumping restraint. “So what’s your proposition?”

She threw him a grin, eyes gleaming with secrets. “You’ll see. Just trust and leave it to me.”

Topher had no choice but to. Samina wasn’t exactly speaking to him.

Samina was not in the mood for this. She’d been cramping since they arrived on the campgrounds and Karen was currently leaning into Topher’s arm across the makeshift pot of chili. It wasn’t as if she cared that it was Topher who Karen flirted with, really it wasn’t. But she couldn’t concentrate, not even to the story Beulah and Adelaide told of a cowardly he-bear and a mean she-goat. Especially with her sister probably whispering some secret about her.

Then Karen placed a hand over Topher’s arm, fingers cupping his firm muscle.

Samina plunked her spoon into the bowl noisily. She glared at Karen who looked straight at her. “If you’re not going to eat, why don’t you go set up our tent?”

Karen smiled like a Cheshire cat, her eyes gleaming, reflecting the light from the stove fire. “Is there a problem, Sammie?”

Of course there is, you shameless flirt! “If you’re done eating, our tent needs setup.”

“Oh right.” Karen shifted her gaze to Topher. “Mind lending me a hand?”

Samina clenched her jaw but stayed quiet. Nothing she would say now would be appropriate.

Topher hesitated but didn’t look at Samina before answering. “Sure.” He put his bowl aside and stood.

Ezekiel nudged her knee. “I didn’t know you hadn’t pitched it. I could’ve helped you set it up.”

She shook her head, watching them walk around the other pitched tents. “It’s okay.”

“Will Aunty Karen marry him?” Adelaide asked aloud, her lips tight, her eyes narrowed. Samina wanted to hug her.

“No!” Beulah said adamantly and leaned into Samina’s side. “Aunty Sammy will marry Daddy.”

Samina inhaled sharply. Deidre’s bowl dropped to the floor. Sheena squeaked.

Ezekiel laughed nervously and reached around Samina’s waist to tug gently on one of Beulah’s plaits. But he said nothing to correct her.

Rendered speechless, Samina gaped open-mouthed.

Ezekiel shrugged with a whatyagonnado look on his face.

She stifled a groan.

“You okay, Sam?” Gabriel spoke up.

Suddenly feeling dizzy, Samina forced out the breath she’d been holding. “Uh…” Lowering the bowl by her feet, she stood. Brushing Ezekiel’s helping hand aside, she moved around the fallen log. “I-I need to use the restroom.” She hurried away before he or anyone could stop her. She had no real answers to give them. Marry Zeke?!

Stumbling around the wall of trees to the restroom area, Samina dropped onto a bench. She drew in a breath.

“Sam.”

Samina choked on the breath and started to cough. Ezekiel rubbed at her back, in the soothing way he did with his girls. Without warning, tears gathered in her eyes and she sniffed loud.

Alarmed, Ezekiel stopped rubbing her back and tilted his head to look at her face. “You okay?”

“I’m just…” she inhaled a breath and pushed it out.

“Is it… Aunt Flo?”

Samina whipped her head back and glared at him. “What?”

His expression was rueful, realizing his faux-pas, but concern etched on his face. “You seem a bit off since we arrived.”

She didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or moved. Instead, Samina looked away and sighed.

His hand moved over her knee, squeezing it gently. “I understand…”

No, you don’t but it’s sweet.

“I wonder how it’ll be when Adelaide gets that age. It’s coming closer by the day.”

Samina peeked at him just in time to see the trouble furrowing his brow. When he looked her way, he managed a feeble smile which she reciprocated.

“I wouldn’t know what to do and freaking out is not an option.”

She shook her head. “Never is.”

His smile waned, his countenance thoughtful. “I wish she had someone to be there for her. Someone who understood what she was going through.”

Samina swallowed, a shiver trickling down her spine as Ezekiel tilted his pointed gaze. She squinted at him. “About Aunt Flo? C’mon Zeke, your mother knows about that—”

“Not just that,” Ezekiel answered gruffly. A bit too gruffly as though impatient. He cleared his throat. “I want the girls to have someone who would love them like her own.” His dark eyes skimmed her face. “I want her to be someone that they’ll love. That I love.”

Her breath caught at the intensity in his eyes.

Ezekiel gave her a gentle smile. “I love you Sam. And I want you to be that woman.”

Samina blinked, unable to find the words. For years, she’d imagined this but didn’t think Ezekiel would ever notice her, want her as much as she wanted him. Past tense. Her gaze skittered over his features, her heart beating a dull tattoo. “Zeke, I…”

He pressed a finger over her mouth. “I know it hasn’t been long since we started dating.” His half-smile was sheepish. “I haven’t exactly asked you to be my girlfriend, but it’s because I’m not just about dating you. Because I want more. I want forever with you.”

Forever with Ezekiel. Samina bit her bottom lip as he shifted even closer and cradled her hand in his. She’d fantasized about this moment; him bent on one knee before her, them surrounded by her favorite flowers, cream tulips, lit tea candles and the sweetest jazz music playing. Except the man she envisioned wasn’t Ezekiel. Her heart stopped as he suddenly knelt before her.

“Samina Miriam Wells…”

Samina blinked, lost for words but knowing she had to do something. Fast. Her heart was racing, her palms were sweaty. Everywhere was hot.

Ezekiel took her hand in his, brushed her fingers with his thumb. He looked up, warmth and adoration glowing in his dark eyes. “I want you to be—”

“Sammie!” Karen pitched forward, scattering a pile of dead maple leaves in her wake. She sounded breathless, alarm lighting her face. Her eyes darted from Samina to kneeling Ezekiel and then back to Samina again. “M-mom wants you…” She swallowed in mid-panting.

All day, Samina wanted nothing more than to shake Karen for her meddling. Now she wanted nothing more than to hug her tightly. Looking once at the confusion on Ezekiel’s face, she offered him a pathetic smile. “Please can we talk later?” She didn’t give him time to think about it and hauled to her feet, hurrying past Karen into the woods.

Karen was at her side in seconds. “Are you gonna do it?”

“Do what?” Samina asked breathlessly as they cleared the thicket of trees.

“Marry Zeke.”

Samina halted in step and whirled around. She scowled. “First the shameless flirting and now you eavesdrop?”

Karen scoffed, placing her hands to her hips. “I plan to do more than that if it would help you see.”

“Help me see what?” Samina clipped out, her jaw clenched tightly. She didn’t like the accusation in Karen’s glaring eyes.

“That you love Topher, not Zeke.”

Samina’s eyes shot over Karen’s shoulder at the wall of trees before glaring at her. “Be quiet,” she hissed, grabbing Karen’s arm and pulling her in the other direction of thicker trees.

“Why are we hiding?” Karen wrenched back, scowling as she rubbed her arm. “You’re in some horrible mood and it doesn’t have anything to do with Aunt Flo.”

“Then stop pissing me off.”

Karen pushed out a short, harsh laugh. “What’s really pissing you off? That I’m flirting with the very available Topher or that you can’t have him?”

Samina scowled, her face twitching. “That’s enough.”

“No Sis. I just got started.” Arms crossed, Karen walked around Samina. “I’ve noticed something very interesting about you. You desire things you can’t have and ignore the good things available to you. Your dream career, your dream life.” She paused in front of her, both brows raised. “… your dream man.”

Samina bunched her fists. “Shut. Up.”

“Your dream career was to be a well-known, talented painter. Everyone has told you what a great artist you are, we tell you this all the time but you refuse to listen.” Karen shook her head. “When you lost that fellowship, when they rejected you because you didn’t qualify, you stopped painting. You didn’t even consider the other good schools that offered you scholarships. Because you kept pining over a fellowship you couldn’t have.”

Samina pushed past Karen. “I’m not listening to this.”

“And your dream man?” Karen hurried to block her path. “You started liking Ezekiel, what, when you were fifteen?” Karen cocked her head to one side. “He was your best friend for years before that and you never had feelings for him. You felt nothing for him until he got a girlfriend and became unavailable.”

“Shut up, Karen.”

“For years, good guys have asked you out. But because it wasn’t Ezekiel, you didn’t give them a chance. You don’t give anyone a chance. And now that he’s available, you falter.”

Her face was so hot, she felt sweat trickling down her cheeks. It had to be sweat. “Shut up!”

“This is real life, Samina,” Karen said firmly, grabbing Samina by the shoulder. “Stop dreaming. Wake up and see what’s there for you. Topher—”

Samina jerked away, causing Karen’s hands to slide off. “For your information, Ezekiel was just about to propose to me.”

Karen stared through hooded eyes. “Oh, yeah? Then why did you run away before he finished?”

Her face heated violently. She jutted her chin. “You said Mom wanted me for something!”

“Give me a break.” Karen scoffed derisively. “Since when do you hurry to answer Mom? Admit it, Samina. You don’t really know what you want and because of it, you’re confusing everyone including yourself. I’ll tell her you’re busy.” She brushed past Samina and stomped back to the family camp.

Speechless and reeling from Karen’s jarring words, Samina closed her eyes and told herself to breathe first.

“Samina.”

She stiffened at the sound of her father’s voice and groaned aloud. Dad, please not right now. Wiping her face, Samina turned to Gabriel standing where Karen had departed from. “Yes Daddy?” But her face twitched as the tears continued to fall, her shoulders shaking.

Gabriel closed the distance and pulled her into his arms as she wept aloud.

When her sobs subsided, Samina felt embarrassed, even before her father. He’d never really given her advice about men, because she’d never mentioned Ezekiel, because he wouldn’t know what to say. Him starting now would only feel awkward and forced. She started to pull away. “I’m fine now…”

His hand closed around her wrist, holding her close to him. “Let’s take a walk.”

Samina bit her bottom lip, looking at him through swollen eyes. Walking with Daddy meant talking with him too. She tamped down a sigh and forced herself to nod. “Okay…”

<<Chapter 46 || Chapter 48>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 29

Posted on 29/04/2015

farmersmarket

“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>>

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