Posts tagged “matchmaking

Lighthouse, Chapter 7

Posted on 27/04/2016

Darah fought a shiver as her older brothers, Abe and Bart, studied her in the wake of announcing her unexpected pregnancy. For the last hour, Abe remained silent with a stony expression while Bart continued his display of unabashed anger.

“I just don’t get it.” Bart glared at her. “What possessed you to do this?”

Abe’s jaw tightened, his unreadable expression more frightening than Bart’s.

“Bart…” Phoebe cautioned softly, her eyes volleying between Abe and Darah.

“So not only did you completely disregarded our rules about not dating till thirty, but you got pregnant also?” Bart scoffed incredulously.

“You know that rule didn’t make any sense,” Darah mumbled, careful not to look at Abe.

“Darah,” Geraldine said through clenched teeth. “I’d stop talking, if I were you.”

“Who is he?”

All eyes turned to Abe, for this was the only thing he’d said since the announcement.

Darah trembled at her brother’s unreadable expression and unable to hold eye contact, she dropped her gaze. “I don’t know…”

Someone gasped, probably Phoebe. Geraldine groaned into her hands.

“One night stand?”

Darah squeezed her eyes shut, feeling nauseated all over again. “No.”

“Don’t lie to me. Who is he, Darah?”

She peered up at Abe’s face and swallowed at his expression darkening in impatience. “I…”

“Did you have a boyfriend?” Phoebe asked gently, her eyes pleading with Darah to cooperate.

“Don’t know which is worse. Having a boyfriend she’s not allowed to have or a one-night stand.” Bart muttered an expletive and dragged a hand over his face.

Phoebe sighed in exasperation. “Bart, please…”

“I’m twenty-five,” Darah groused, angry that her brothers’ stupid rule had caused her this problem. “If I had the freedom to date like normal people, this wouldn’t have happened.”

The room went silent, all eyes on her. Phoebe looked disappointed, Geraldine exasperated, Bart furious, and Abe… Abe stood slowly.


Phoebe jerked her attention back to her husband. “Abe…”

Abe’s eyes never left his sister’s face. “Twenty-five years old and you still refuse to own up to your mistakes. This is disappointing, Darah. Very disappointing.”

Darah watched her eldest brother stalk around the coffee table and toward the stairs. He ignored Phoebe’s entreaty, his heavy footsteps on the stairs making Darah’s heart pound faster. Those words hurt more than Bart’s fury.

“Is Abe okay?” Geraldine asked, tugging at Bart’s arm.

“Besides his baby sister breaking his heart?” Phoebe exhaled a breath. “Just give him time.”

“Who is he, Darah?” Bart demanded, losing what little restraint he had on his anger.

Geraldine clutched his shoulder. “You need to calm down… Getting angry won’t change what’s happened. Calm down.”

His stare remained fixed on Darah. “I asked who the low-life is that made you this way.”

“No.” She tightened her jaw. Telling any of them about Jeremy would be a bigger mistake; she couldn’t have any of her brothers go to jail for killing the fool. “He doesn’t matter.”

Bart’s scowl darkened. “Don’t make me angry, Darah.”

“You’re already angry, Bart.”

The doorbell rang before Bart could answer in kind and all three women relaxed visibly.

Geraldine shot to her feet and hurried to the door. “That better be J.R. He’s the only one that can talk some sense into you.” She pulled open the door with her free hand. “Good, you’re here.”

Bart let out a bitter laugh as he stood. “I have half the mind to punch you.”

The stoic J.R. blinked. “And why would you do that?”

If this wasn’t a dire situation with her life on the line, Darah would’ve laughed at J.R.’s stiff formality. His stoic personality could be off-putting at times but reassuring when it counted. She hadn’t realized how calming his presence was until now.

“If you’d married this girl when we asked you to,” Bart groused. “We wouldn’t be having this problem.”

Darah stood scowling. “Stop with that foolishness. J.R. has nothing to do with this.”

“Then why did you text him?” Geraldine asked, giving Darah a pointed look.

“Because…” Darah floundered, eying J.R.’s quizzical expression. “Because…”

J.R.’s frown deepened. “What’s going on?”

Bart glared at his sister. “You want to act like you’re so independent and don’t need anyone’s input, yet call for backup instead of taking responsibility for your mess. Real mature, Darah.” He shrugged off Geraldine’s hand and pushed past J.R. out the front door.

All three women flinched when Bart slammed the door and J.R. started after his friend.

“Wait a minute,” Darah’s voice made him pause.

He turned back around, brows raised quizzically.

“Why are you going after him when I called you?”

Geraldine scoffed in disgust. Phoebe rolled her eyes. “Seriously, Darah…”

“Never mind. Goodnight.” Darah walked around the sofa and up the stairs to her temporary bedroom.

Both Phoebe and Geraldine shook their heads when Darah slammed the bedroom door behind her.

“What a mess.” Geraldine clucked her tongue in disapproval and folded her arms over her chest.

“You think your mom can keep the kids for the night?” Phoebe asked, gnawing at her bottom lip. “We’re not done with this conversation and I don’t want them to worry.”

Geraldine sighed. “They probably just think it’s one big sleepover and could care less where we are. I’ll call her after Bart calms down… God knows how long that’ll take.”

J.R. frowned. “Where’s Abe? What’s going on?”

“Darah’s pregnant and the whole family is in a state of emergency. Abe’s fighting to keep his blood pressure down, Bart could face death row if he doesn’t calm down and I’m about to lose it myself.” She blew out a shaky breath. “Not sure why Darah thought getting you involved would do her any good, but now you know. Got any suggestions?”

Flabbergasted, J.R. merely stared at the two women; for he had nothing to say.

“So what did they say?” Tess asked over the phone a few minutes after Darah locked herself in Eleazar’s bedroom. She’d called her best friend shortly after changing to her pajamas and was curled up in bed, coloring in one of Karla’s paint-by-number sets. “Did Bart flip out?”

Darah snorted, picking up another coloring pencil. “Obviously.”

“What about Abe?”

Her fingers stilled over the pencil as she recalled Abe’s stormy expression and the only words he’d said all night. No doubt he was as furious as Bart, but for some reason, his anger hurt Darah more.

“He was pissed?”

“Hmm.” Darah swallowed the lump in her throat. She nudged the coloring set aside and rolled onto her back. Her eyes stung with unshed tears and she blinked them away.

“Well they have a right to, I guess,” Tess continued. “You’re their baby sister.”

Darah sighed heavily and turned on her side, facing Eleazar’s desk. She replayed Abe’s words of disappointment and felt a tear slide down her cheek.

“Ugh, not this chick again.”

Darah blinked out of her reverie. “What?”

“This girl only ever hits me up when she wants something.”

She frowned, sitting up. “Who?”

“Some girl in my creative writing class.” Tess snorted. “Like she won’t hit me up until she’s bored or has nothing better to do. Never once does she call to find out how I’m doing or just chat because. Anyway, I’m done with her fake friendship. Hold on, let me text her back real quick.”

Darah’s frown deepened as she listened to the telltale taps of Tess typing a message to her ‘fake friend’, all the while feeling sad. Aside from Tess’ texts, her phone lay silent. What was more disconcerting was she didn’t even know her best friend was in a creative writing class.

“Okay back,” Tess spoke after a long pause. “Chick wants me to read her stuff, like I don’t have anything better to do.”

“Do you?”

“Yeah, I’m talking to you.”

Darah managed a smile and rested her cheek against the pillow. “Thanks…”

“Of course.” Then Tess sighed heavily. “But let me go read this girl’s stuff before she blows up my phone all night. Sorry babe.”

“It’s okay,” Darah answered half-heartedly. “I shouldn’t be on the phone anyway…”


“Because the walls are thin and my family thinks I’m too distraught to have a conversation, much less use the phone.” She stared at the ceiling, watching the fan blades turn.

“… Darah?”

Tears filled her eyes, blurring the whirling fan blades. Getting pregnant as a single woman wasn’t part of the plan. After her parents’ passing, twelve-year-old Darah had planned out her life, avowing never to be surprised by life again. Getting married and then having children was the plan and Jeremy ascribed to it perfectly. He charmed her with promises of marriage and a family with him. And like an immature fool, she’d surrendered to what she believed was love but what turned out to be a lie.


“Hmm?” Her hand moved to her flat stomach, feeling nauseous all over again. Even though she’d watched both Phoebe and Geraldine have children of her own, she didn’t know the first thing of being a mother. And her family would most likely disown her after this. Dread choked her lungs, forcing her to draw in a shaky breath.

“Are you scared?”

Darah willed away the tears and her disturbing thoughts. At least until Tess got off the phone. “Go read your fake friend’s writing. We’ll talk later.”

Tess sighed. “You’ll figure it out, Darah. You’re a smart girl.”

She managed a smile and after wishing her best friend a good night, disconnected the call. “Being smart is not going to fix this…”

Tears dropped onto the phone screen and Darah began to weep openly.

Dazed, J.R. stepped into his house an hour later with Bart’s words replaying in his head.

“If you’d stopped being a coward,” Bart shouted. “We wouldn’t be in this mess!”

Throat clogged with words unspoken, J.R. walked past the three adults sitting in the family room without a word of greeting and started for his room.

“Raju,” L.J. spoke up just as J.R. reached the stairs.

J.R. turned, gaze listless. “Yes Father?”

L.J. frowned from where he sat. “Don’t you see we have guests you’ve kept waiting all night?”

Not taking another step forward, J.R. sighed. “Look, it’s been a long day and I’m not in the mood.”

L.J. squinted at his son. “Not in the mood…?”

“Lalana,” Dabir said quietly, putting a hand over his friend’s shoulder. “It’s okay.”

J.R. could care less that his father felt embarrassed in front of his company. All he wanted to do was go to his room and punch whatever he could get his hands on. “If you’ll excuse me…”

“Stop right there.”

J.R. held back a groan and turned to face his father that now stood akimbo. “What is it?”

The exasperated response made Dabir exchange wary glances with his wife, and irritated L.J. “Where have you been all night? I called you several times.”

Choosing not to point out it wasn’t even eleven p.m., J.R. sighed. “I was busy.”

“Busy,” L.J. echoed incredulously, his dark eyes narrowed at his son. “Did you forget we had an appointment with your uncle and aunty?”

J.R. bit back the response that he barely knew this couple. Instead, he arched a brow at his father. “No Father, I didn’t forget you had an appointment.”

L.J.’s jaw tightened. “What?”

Sighing, J.R. turned to the wide-eyed couple. “I’m sorry Mr. and Mrs. Sharma, but I am not interested in having a conversation about marriage with either of you.”

<<Chapter 6 || Chapter 8>>

Lighthouse, Chapter 5

Posted on 20/04/2016

In silence, Bart and J.R. watched the construction workers standing in front of the overpass, Geraldine gesticulating as she instructed them on the new changes.

When a couple of the construction workers saluted Geraldine before turning back to their duties, Bart smirked. “Glad I didn’t make the mistake of demanding that she become a housewife. This is what she does best, bossing folks around.”

“You two have a good partnership,” J.R. agreed, watching Geraldine pause to speak with another construction worker.

“Not to mention she looks good in jeans.” Bart nudged J.R.’s shoulder. “It’s all thanks to you.”

J.R. glanced at his friend, wishing Bart would stop referring to the past. Any lawyer could’ve helped Geraldine escape her wicked ex in-laws; his involvement wasn’t all that special. He shrugged. “It’s nothing. Just did my job.”

“I meant this. She’s kept me awake every night, going over the blueprints.” Bart grunted. “There are three occasions a man’s woman looks the most beautiful. The wedding day, the day she gives birth and when she’s doing what she loves. I thank you, my friend.”

J.R. smirked. “I wouldn’t know about all that…”

“You would if you stopped chickening out. You’re the only brother-in-law we’d accept.”

J.R. refrained from rolling his eyes. “Don’t start with this. Besides, doesn’t she have five years left?”

“If you’d make your decision soon enough, we’ll decrease her sentence.”

J.R. snorted but didn’t get to respond when Geraldine joined them on the top floor. He smiled in greeting since she’d been too busy earlier on. “Everything going well?”

“Yep.” Geraldine flashed him a grin. “We should be done with the lobby and kitchen by next week.”

Bart clapped a hand over J.R.’s shoulder. “That’s not an issue. Everything cool on your end?”

J.R.’s smile waned. “Yep, fine.”

“You say one thing yet your face says another, my friend.”

Geraldine’s brow furrowed in concern. “You haven’t told your dad, have you?”

J.R. sighed. “No.”

Bart shook his head and removed his hand. “He’s bound to find out that his only son’s building an immigration and refugee center. Better to tell him sooner than later.”

“Indeed.” Geraldine parked her hands at her hips. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

J.R. didn’t answer, predicting how badly his father would react if he caught wind of what his son was using his hard-earned money on.

Immigration was a sticky subject for his father who steered clear from the issue after several incidents involving their firm in the past, some explicitly noted and some not. After a few federal government investigations were done on his establishment, L.J. rejected any immigration cases from that day forth and began planning out J.R.’s career as an attorney and finally director of the law firm, hoping his son would be too busy with civil cases to feed his compassion for refugees or ‘illegal immigrants’.

“By the way, Darah’s home,” Geraldine’s voice pulled J.R. from his thoughts.

“For the weekend?” Bart drawled, scrolling through his phone.

Geraldine snuck a glance at J.R.’s face before smirking. “Nope, the summer and maybe even longer.”

Bart looked up in alarm. “Something happen?”

Thankfully Geraldine looked away before reading his expression. J.R. grew weary of maintaining nonchalance whenever Darah was mentioned, especially when he too worried about her.

“We’ll probably find out at dinner.” Geraldine’s gaze swung back to J.R. and he gave her a blank stare. Her lips twitched in amusement. “As always, you’re invited to come.”

As much as he wanted to see Darah, he shook his head. “Can’t.”

“Running away again?” Bart muttered beside him.

J.R. sighed. “Have to play host at home. My father’s got visitors from back home.”

Geraldine’s brows raised. “Oh really?”

J.R. nodded. “Maybe next time. But tell her I said hello.”

Bart snorted and Geraldine rolled her eyes. “Or you could tell her yourself. Call her.”

“She changed her number,” J.R. mumbled, though admittedly he’d only texted her once after their misunderstanding years ago.

“I’ll give the new number to you.”

J.R. tamped a sigh, wishing Geraldine would leave well enough alone. “Doubt she wants to talk to me.”

“You won’t know until you try calling her.” Geraldine nudged her husband. “Give him the number. Let me go check on the guys in the backyard.” She walked away before Bart could respond.

“I was like you once,” Bart remarked, his eyes watching Geraldine sashay across the open field. “Battled a boatload of conflicted feelings about that woman, and because I didn’t face them, face her, I lost her for a while.” His gaze shifted to J.R. “Don’t make the same mistake I made.”

J.R. frowned. “Why do you insist on me? What if she wants someone else?”

“You’re the best man for her.” Then Bart smiled and clapped a hand over his shoulder. “And if Darah doesn’t pick you, she’ll have to wait five more years before she has permission to marry someone else.”

J.R. watched in silence as Bart ambled in the same direction as his wife Geraldine, and his shoulders slumped. He didn’t deserve Bart’s confidence, not when he was too much of a coward to be with someone as brave and bold as Darah.

Hours later and J.R. wished he’d accepted Geraldine’s invitation to join them for dinner. He would rather face an irritated Darah and her meddlesome sisters-in-law than his own father.

Seated on a cushioned chair that felt like he sat atop rocks, J.R. maintained a pleasant expression in front of his father and guests; Dabir and his wife Jaswinder, and their only daughter Hana.

“So Raju,” Mr. Dabir finally spoke, the leather of the chair squeaking as he shifted in his seat. His dark eyes studied J.R. as if he was on an examining table. “Lalana tells me you are a director at the law firm.”

“Yes,” J.R. simply answered, feeling the weight of the women’s stares. He preferred Phoebe and Geraldine—at least he knew what was on their minds.

“It is my hope he will be able to take up my role,” L.J. interjected.

“But of course,” Dabir chuckled. “Although I’m still shocked that you retired.”

Bhaiyaa, you are too young to retire,” cooed Jaswinder.

Lalana’s eyes danced with mischief. “I can’t keep up with this generation. It’s time to step down and let them get the chance to lead.”

J.R. wondered at the truth of his father’s words, when dictating every aspect of his son’s life was his full-time job after retiring the law firm.

“I hear Hana is graduating top of her class,” L.J. continued, turning to the quiet girl seated between her parents. He gave her a gentle smile only reserved for her. “Have you decided what you will study?”

Hana dipped her head, the thick plaited ponytail sliding along her shoulder. “Internal medicine, Babuji.”

J.R. frowned at the endearment of her calling his father hers, saw the warmth of his father’s smile grow and Hana’s parents sneak a glance at each other. He stifled a groan.

And as if Hana heard him, her light-brown eyes peeked at him through thick lashes.

He stood abruptly, alerting the adults. “Can I get you tea?”

“Thank you, Beta…” said Dabir, referring to J.R. as his son.

J.R. nodded stiffly and rounded the couch for the kitchen without hearing what kind of tea they wanted. Closing the microwave door and tapping the start button, J.R. leaned against the counter and breathed out a shaky sigh.

What happened to letting him pick who he wanted to marry? Why couldn’t he dream of having a partnership like Bart and Geri or Abe and Phoebe? Could he really let his father pick a bride for him like he did a career?

The sound of shuffling feet behind him had J.R. look over his shoulder. Hana stood there, her hands folded in front of her. J.R. stifled yet another groan and arched his brows. “Did you need something?”

Her caramel eyes skittered from his face to the microwave behind him. Then her lips twitched as if holding back a smile. “Do you need help?”

J.R. shook his head. “Nope. I can make tea.”

“Uncle Lalana said I should help you.” Hana rounded the counter toward him.

‘Of course he did.’ He held back the thought, instead replying. “It’s fine. I’ve got it covered.”

“Oh?” She cocked her head slightly. “Do you know what type of tea my parents like?”

J.R. blinked. “I assumed they’d like the same as my dad.”

A slow smile lifted her lips and she shook her head. “That’s why I came to help. Relax, Bhaiyaa.”

Bhaiyaa was a term to mean ‘older brother’, and her off-handed use of the word should’ve set J.R.’s mind at ease. But that smile on her heart-shaped face and the knowing gleam in her caramel eyes made his stomach roll with apprehension.

Darah groaned over the toilet bowl after expelling what was left of the night’s dinner. She winced when Phoebe pounded her back. “Hold on…”

Phoebe’s hand stayed on her back, stroking in a soothing motion. “This is your third time tonight. What did you eat?”

“I only ate what you gave me.”

“No one else is sick—”

Darah dry-heaved into the toilet before letting out a wrought moan.

“This won’t do. We need to go to the hospital.”

Spent and disoriented, Darah sagged against the toilet. “Maybe it’s a delayed reaction. I did have some suspect burrito on campus days ago.”

Phoebe grunted as she handed Darah a cup of water to swish her mouth. “It doesn’t matter. You can get dehydrated while hurling your guts all night long. Get dressed.”

“It’s three o’clock in the morning, Phoebe,” Darah protested before gargling the water. She spat into the toilet and then flushed the contents. “I’ll try to sleep it off.”

When Phoebe didn’t answer, Darah snuck a glance at her and the deep frown on Phoebe’s face made her sigh. “Don’t worry. I’m sure it’s just food poisoning.”

“Well if this continues through the night, we’re going to the hospital. Got it?”

Darah nodded begrudgingly.

Phoebe sighed and held out a hand to help Darah stand. “I don’t know why you are like your brothers about hospitals.”

Darah didn’t answer, following her sister-in-law out of the bathroom. It was best she didn’t know why any of them hated hospitals. “Goodnight, Phoebe.”

“First thing in the morning, we’re going to the hospital. No protesting, got it?”

“That’s if I still feel badly,” Darah insisted, waving over her shoulder at her. “Goodnight.”

“… Goodnight.”

Entering Eleazar’s room, Darah leaned against the door. Her stomach was a jumbled mess and her throat felt raw from vomiting. She rubbed her belly and trudged to the twin bed. Even though he’d taken most of his clothes to his grandmother’s place, Eleazar’s scent lingered and made her miss him.

“At least call home, jerk…” she mumbled, climbing into his narrow bed.

At dinner, Abe seemed more subdued and his eyes drifted occasionally to Eleazar’s empty chair. Apparently J.R.’s presence was to detract Eleazar’s absence but even J.R. flaked, making the dinner a most awkward affair.

Darah’s lips twitched derisively. “Of course he’d flake… Jerk.”

To distract Abe and Bart from getting upset about Eleazar’s absence, Phoebe and Geraldine interrogated Darah about her sudden change of heart to live at home.

Her stomach turned violently and Darah shot off the bed and out the bedroom. She met Phoebe standing in the hallway with her arms folded.

Phoebe arched a brow. “First thing tomorrow.”

Nausea pushed up her throat and Darah slapped a hand over her mouth, nodding at her sister-in-law. Phoebe then stepped aside, clicking her tongue in disapproval as Darah rushed into the bathroom.

<<Chapter 4 || Chapter 6>>

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