Posts tagged “matchmaking

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 26

Posted on 24/04/2015

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Samina groaned as the melody of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ filled the gym room. She placed a hand on her hips. “Do we have to do this?” She needed to get rest before her surgery tomorrow.

“What’s with the look, Sammie?” Ada teased. “You don’t wanna dance?” She shimmied to Jaxson who eyed her in open amusement.  “Ohh, I wanna dance with somebody…” She draped her arms on Jaxson’s shoulders and swayed her hips to the rhythm.

“Really, Ada,” Samina pushed out an exasperated sigh, hands planted on her hips. “How could this be the bridal party song? You’re supposed to pick something slow and romantic—” she swallowed a gasp as Topher took her hand in his and tugged her to his side.

“Relax, Samina.” He smiled. “It’s her wedding after all.”

“How right you are,” Ada tossed over her shoulder and giggled as Jaxson took her around the room for a spin. “This is the perfect song.”

Samina bit back a retort when Topher placed a hand against her back. Face on fire, she directed her gaze to his right shoulder.

“Put your hand on my shoulder. I won’t bite you.”

“I wanna feel the heat with somebody,” Ada mimicked Whitney’s contralto, tossing her dark bob as Jaxson spun her around. “C’mon, loosen up.”

“Might as well, Sammie.” Jaxson tossed Samina a grin. “She’s got the song on repeat and won’t quit until you give in.”

Samina stifled a groan and placed her hand to Topher’s shoulder. “Just one dance,” she informed with a stern expression.

Topher nodded. “Yes, Ma’am.” Then he guided her around the dance floor.

An hour later, Samina accepted the bottle of water Topher extended to her. Twisting the cap, she tilted her head and swallowed a gulp of the cool liquid.

Ada dabbed her forehead with an engraved towel and grinned at Samina from across the car hood. “Now, wasn’t that fun?”

“I’m not sure if that’s exercise or a dance recital,” Topher drawled, taking a swig of his own water.

“It wasn’t bad,” Jaxson piped in, draping an arm around Ada’s shoulders.

“Of course it wasn’t. We got our steps to match and put in a good workout too.” She grinned unapologetically. “Sounds like a win-win to me.”

“Not if we already worked out,” Jaxson mumbled, earning him a quelling stare from his fiancée. He cleared his throat and tossed his head back for a gulp of water.

Samina snuck a peek at Topher’s biceps, her fingers recalling the solid cords of muscle as she held onto him during the dance. It was almost like she floated on air when he spun her around, light on his feet, like he’d done this before.

“Ready?” Topher’s voice broke through and Samina peered up at his handsome face shrouded by shadows.

Heat shot through her cheeks and she blinked at the amusement dancing in Ada’s eyes. She’d been caught daydreaming. “Uh…”

“The car’s this way,” Topher gestured to his left.

“Right.” She turned to Ada, accepting her friend’s quick hug.

“Call me tomorrow,” Ada said, releasing Samina. “We’ll talk.”

Samina didn’t have the heart to mention that she’d be out of pocket for the next week. “Goodnight.”

Once they parted ways with the engaged couple, Topher and Samina strode over to the dark Audi parked across the street.

“Did you have a good time tonight?” Topher asked as they drove down the quiet street. “You seem a little tuckered out.”

She shrugged. “Maybe a little. I just need to lie down.”

“I completely understand. Ada’s a little too excited about this dance.”

Samina snorted. “A little?”

Topher chuckled. “But she was happy to see you. She missed you.” He tossed her a glance. “We all did.”

She quietly faced the window, eyes stinging.

“I don’t mean to rush you, but—“

“Then don’t.” She curled her fingers into her palms, holding her breath and hoping he’d leave well enough alone. She couldn’t think about anything but her surgery for now.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

Samina’s shoulders relaxed and leaned back in the cushioned seat. In the companionable silence, she made plans. Excuses for her family once she returned. They’d wonder at her absence, probably be angry that she left without notice. But it was better than face the terrifying backlash that she’d undergone surgery without telling them. She squeezed her eyes shut and released a breath. For now, she’d focus on praying for peace and a safe surgery. Her family’s wrath, she’d deal with later.

“Looks like your sister has a visitor.”

Samina’s eyes snapped open and she squinted at her driveway. She sat up in her seat, her heart skipping a beat. “Oh no…”

“What’s the matter?” Topher put the car in park behind the minivan. Her mother’s.

Eyes on the lights in the condo window, Samina quickly unbuckled her seatbelt and pushed open the door. “Thanks for the ride. Don’t worry about walking me to the door.”

“Wait a min—Sam—!” the rest of his words were muffled by the car door closing.

Samina could already hear her mother’s clear soprano as she stood by the front door, saying a little prayer before she stepped inside.

“Hey Sis,” Karen greeted her by the door. “I was just about to call…” she peered over Samina’s shoulder at the shiny Audi parked behind their mother’s minivan. “Who?”

Samina grabbed Karen’s arm and jerked her away from the door. “Not a word,” she warned in a low tone.

“What?” Karen blinked. “Mom said she’d be stopping by. I figured you were out with your friends. How’d it go?”

“Stop talking,” Samina mumbled, peering over Karen’s shoulder at the empty hallway. “Where’s Mom?”

Karen placed her hands on her hips. “By the way, your bags are packed. Are you still babysitting those kids? I thought you’d stopped.”

“Will you stop it already?” Samina snapped. “Mind your business, Karen.”

“Hello?” Deidre’s voice echoed in the hallway, frowning at her two daughters glaring at each other. “What are you conspiring about?” She opened her arms and stepped forward

Samina turned to face her mother with a wavering smile. “Good evening, Mom…” she stepped into Deidre’s embrace.

Karen caught her mother’s confused look over Samina’s shoulder and shrugged.

“I wasn’t expecting you,” Samina confessed as Deidre released her. “Is everything alright?”

“Honestly,” Deidre scoffed incredulously. “Does anything have to be wrong before I come visit my girls?” She hooked an arm under Samina’s, steering her first daughter toward the living room when the doorbell rang.

Samina stiffened against her. Please no… No!

Deidre peered over her shoulder as Karen hurried to the door.

“Oh hey Topher,” Karen greeted cheerfully.

Samina squeezed her eyes shut.

Deidre gaped at the tall, handsome man filling the door with his imposing frame. “Oh…my.”

Topher smiled in greeting. “Hey Karen.” He gave Deidre a smile, eyes skimming over Samina’s back turned to him. He lifted a leather purse. “Just bringing this for Samina.”

Samina turned her head, face flooded with heat. She’d forgotten her purse!

Karen grinned, accepting the bag. “Thanks.”

He smiled in kind and dipped his head slightly. “Have a good night.”

“You too,” Karen chirped, closing the door as Topher turned away from the doorstep.

Deidre quietly tugged a wooden Samina to sit beside her. Karen trailed behind.

Samina perched on the seat her mother patted beside her, eyes trained to the floor. The silence in the parlor was so thick; she could cut it with a knife.

“So…” Deidre began. “How was your outing?”

Samina pinched the hem of her skirt. “Fine.”

“Hmm, seemed like it was more than fine…”

Karen muffled a cough in her shoulder, evading Samina’s eyes.

Samina scowled. “What did you say?”

Karen’s eyes grew wide as tea saucers; a picture of innocence. “I didn’t say anything, I swear!”

“Yeah right,” Samina retorted. “You can’t keep your big mouth shut for anything.”

Deidre rolled her eyes. “Samina, that’s enough. Don’t bully your sister.”

Samina glared at her sister, her mouth pursed tight, her body trembling with pent-up frustration. It was certainly a good thing she didn’t tell Karen about her surgery. The entire church would’ve probably shown up at her doorstep if she had. Samina rolled her eyes, irritated to distraction.

“Since I hate beating around the bush, who was that man?”

Groaning, Samina shot to her feet. “Mother, please!”

“What?” Deidre blinked, looking every bit as innocent as Karen. “What did I say?”

Karen sighed petulantly. “Honestly, Sammie. Why so catty tonight?”

Samina hissed. “Do you two ever quit?”

“Sit down, Samina,” Deidre said firmly. “What’s the matter with you?”

Throwing an exasperated glance to the ceiling, Samina dropped to her seat and folded her arms across her chest.

“Explain this fierce reaction you’re having. Now, young lady.” Deidre’s stern expression brooked no argument.

“Don’t listen to Karen,” she clipped out, glowering at her younger sister. “He’s just one of the guys in the wedding.”

“Just one of the guys, huh?” Deidre nodded her head in understanding. “So he’s the Christopher Chance, the best man and your date for the wedding.”

Samina whipped her head to glare at Karen.

Karen lowered her head.

“What didn’t you tell her?”

Deidre’s brow furrowed. “Sammie, why are you so defensive about him? Shouldn’t you be at least flattered that he’s interested in you?”

Samina rolled her eyes. “He’s not interested in me, Mother.”

“Is that right? That’s not what I heard.”

“My God, Karen!” Samina stood again, jabbing a finger in Karen’s direction. “This is why I can’t tell you anything.”

Karen stiffened, leaning away from her sister’s offending finger.

“Relax,” Deidre tugged Samina’s sleeve, pulling her back to her seat. “Your sister’s just excited for you. And frankly, so am I.”

Samina dragged a hand down her face. She needed to lie down. Now.

“You’re messing up what little makeup on your face, dear.” Deidre held onto Samina’s wrist. “Anyway, he looks like a very nice young man. Tell me about him.”

Biting back a moan, Samina met her mother’s expectant gaze and took a deep breath. “There’s not much to say. He’s Jaxson’s best friend who I met five years ago. He’s the best man and that’s it.”

“Actually, there’s more,” Karen inserted, ignoring Samina’s heated stare. “Ada told me he’s crushed on Samina since the first day they met.”

Samina scowled. “That’s a lie…” even her protest didn’t sound convincing to her own ears and she bit the bottom of her lip.

Deidre gestured Karen to continue and at the end of Karen’s detailed account of the handsome gentleman who had eyes for her first daughter, she was practically jumping in her seat over Topher’s intentions to pursue Samina. “Very interesting…”

Samina shook her head in despair, wishing her bedroom door was close enough for her sneak away before the onslaught of questions forming in her mother’s mind.

“So let me get this straight,” Deidre drawled. “There’s a gorgeous, kind and attentive man wanting to court you and you’re hesitating because…?”

“Thank you, Mom!” Karen piped, wrinkling her nose when Samina sent her a scathing glare.  She sat back, arms folded.

Samina then sighed, too tired to argue with either of them. “It’s complicated.”

“What’s complicated about that? He wants to get to know you. So let him.”

She shook her head, the side of her temples throbbing. “It’s not that easy.”

“Why?”

“She still loves Zeke,” Karen inserted softly.

Samina inhaled sharply, jerking her eyes to Deidre’s.

“What?” Deidre squeaked out, sitting up in her seat. “Who? Ezekiel Dames?!”

The horrified look on Deidre’s face was too much to bear. Samina looked away.

Karen nodded solemnly. “It’s true.”

Deidre gaped at her daughter’s profile. “Samina, still? After all these years?”

She could hear the censure in Deidre’s tone. Tears welled up in her eyes.

“But he’d been married for eight years. Sam—” Deidre’s voice oozed with disbelief. “There is no way you could’ve harbored your feelings for that long.”

Feeling the judgmental stares boring into her, Samina drew in her shoulders. Tears rolled down her cheeks, overwhelmed with embarrassment and sadness.

In college, she’d avoided dates with men and declined attending social events for fear that a guy would ask her out. She was that loyal to Ezekiel. Years passed as she lived that way, holding a torch for him while he made a family with his college sweetheart. Her throat clenched up, realizing now that she was a social failure at thirty years old and now that Topher expressed his intentions to court her, she didn’t know how to let him.

Deidre shook her head. “This can’t go on, Samina. You can’t continue like this.”

Samina bobbed her head stiffly, vision blurred with tears. “I know…”

Both Deidre and Karen blinked in surprise at Samina’s soft reply.

“Huh, what?” Karen asked dumbly, expecting protests instead.

Samina summoned a breath, releasing it. “I know I should let go of my feelings for Zeke.”

“Do you think you can after all this time?” Deidre’s question was soft, sympathetic.

Lifting her eyes to the gentle look in her mother’s gaze, Samina wanted to weep. There was no reproach, only love. Samina nodded. “I will. I have to.”

Both Deidre and Karen sighed in collective relief, watching Samina swipe the stray tears on her cheeks.

“Oh, Sammie,” Karen scooted off the couch to kneel beside Samina. She grabbed hold of her sister’s hand and squeezed it tight. “You can do it.”

Samina managed a watery smile at her sister, letting herself be embraced by both mother and sister.

Deidre wrapped both arms around her daughters; her heart breaking at the sounds of Samina’s muffled sobbing against Karen’s shoulder.

As much as she wanted to believe Samina intended to release her feelings for Ezekiel, she knew firsthand that a person’s heart often rebelled against his will to change, to move on from a past love.

Her jaw tightened in resolution, knowing she had to do something about Samina’s heartbreak as soon as possible.

“Everything will be okay,” Deidre said gently, rubbing Samina’s trembling shoulders. “I promise you…”

<<Chapter 25 || Chapter 27>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 21

Posted on 14/04/2015

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At the sound of a telltale beep, Nadine lifted her head from the faded photograph in her hand. As the hotel door opened, she promptly shoved the photograph between the pages of her Bible and pushed the Bible to her side.

Topher stifled a yawn as he entered the room. “Hey Nadine…”

She smiled in greeting and leaned back against her pillow, taking in his haggard appearance. “You look dead.”

“Nice to see you too, Nadine,” Topher drawled, draping his jacket over a dining chair. As he walked to her bedside, he scanned the room with a furrowed brow. “Where’s Nurse Kirsten?”

She wrinkled her nose. “I let her go.”

He smirked, perching on the side of the bed. “For the night or for good?”

She sniffed disinterestedly. “We’ll see if her behavior improves in the morning.” Then she eyed him carefully. “How was it?”

His smile waned and he looked down, tugging at the thin bed covers. “Not bad.”

“I assume your Samina was there?”

Topher glanced up, a wry smile lifting one corner of his mouth. “Yeah…” He rubbed the back of his head and heaved a sigh. “Not sure what I’m doing though.”

Nadine frowned, watching as he kicked off his black leather shoes and moved to the empty spot beside her. He had his own bed but when he got like this, Nadine knew something was wrong. She remained silent as his bulky body jostled the bed, trying to find a comfortable position.

Leaning his head against the padded headboard, Topher stared up at the ceiling. “I was sincere and forthright about my feelings. And still…”

She raised a brow. “She said no?”

Topher shook his head. “She said nothing…”

Nadine hid a smirk. Topher wasn’t quite the paragon of patience. “Did you tell her you’d wait?”

He threw her a glance askance. “We have less than a month before the wedding.”

Nadine scoffed. “You wanted her to say yes and move in with you?”

Topher rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I mean… I just feel she’s holding back for some reason. Like she’s not sure she can trust me.”

She nodded understandably. Samina seemed withdrawn and a bit unsure of herself. It was no wonder that the self-assured Topher made her uncomfortable. “Well, Christopher, have you given her reason to trust you?”

He frowned into her eyes, quietly considering her words.

“If a woman is guarding her heart, it takes longer to be sure about her feelings.” Nadine rubbed his hand at her side. “It takes more than just pretty words to get us to accept a man’s heart–” She hitched a breath and pressed a hand to her chest.

Eyes wide with alarm, Topher hovered over Nadine. “What’s wrong?”

Finding her breath, Nadine waved his concern away. “I’m fine.” Still, she drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. “What was I saying?”

Skeptical, Topher frowned. “It takes more than pretty words…”

“Right.” Nadine gave him an assured smile. “You’ve got to do more than say cute words or flash that charming smile when you see her. She’s got to know through your sincerity that you’re serious.”

“I am serious about her,” Topher insisted, his gaze softening at the realization.

Nadine propped her head against his shoulder. “Like I said before, she’s a tough one.”

“Tougher than you?”

She poked his side as he chuckled. “You’ll need patience and dogged persistence with her.”

“That I have plenty of,” her nephew said confidently.

Nadine smiled and closed her eyes. “We’ll see…”

Topher recalled Samina’s iridescent eyes glimmering with tears when he handed her the cupcake. He could still feel the soft skin of her palm as he held her hand briefly.

As Nadine’s labored breathing eased into soft puffs of sighing, he shook off his reverie and peered down at his aunt’s sleeping face. Adjusting the bed-covers over her shoulders, Topher leaned into the headboard and mulled over his next steps with Samina.

Driving down the quiet street of her neighborhood, Samina kept replaying Topher’s words before they parted from the tea bar.

“I think very highly of you, Samina,” Topher had said with his striking gaze riveted to hers. She had to look away, her face burning under his intense gaze.

Samina bit her bottom lip, unsure what had changed between them. Their first meeting hadn’t been the ideal first encounter and she was to blame. Cranky from the long ride to Jaxson’s graduation five years ago, she was not in the mood to exchange pleasantries with Jaxson’s friend.

He must’ve thought her a snobbish, quick-tempered recluse and she labeled him a loose-lipped goof. Now she knew better. Topher was just a sociable, confident man with a kind heart for those he loved.

Her cheeks warmed and Samina squeezed the steering wheel. Parking in her empty driveway, Samina eyed the darkened house and stepped out of the car. Even though Karen wasn’t home, Topher’s warm surprise kept her from despairing. Grabbing her purse, she trudged up the sidewalk to her front door while replaying Topher’s words.

“I feel like we’ve known each other for as long as you’ve known Ada.”

She could still feel the jolt of electricity shoot through her skin when he touched her fingers.

“I know it’s a lot for you to take in,” Topher had continued, his voice low and solemn. “But I want to be your friend…” He tossed a wry smile that made his features boyish. “Well, maybe more than your friend but I’ll take this slow. For us.”

Samina slowed her steps, imagining the way his eyes twinkled at her and his slow, assured grin.

Topher had chuckled then and squeezed her hand in encouragement as he continued. “I want you to consider me as a possible candidate to capture your heart.” He bit his bottom lip as if to reconsider his words. “What I mean is I want you to consider me as someone who can make you a happy woman. Just like you make me happy at the mere thought of you.”

Her heart was beating fast now as it did then. Samina shook off the memory and stepped over the low brush to the front door. Pushing the door open, she stepped inside the dark house.

A twinge of sadness pricked her at the empty house. With a sigh, Samina found the light switch and flipped it open. As the bulbs flickered on and flooded the room with light, she gaped at the scene before her.

The living room was filled with people she recognized, her family and friends.

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you,” Karen sang, holding a round cake lit with many candles.

The small group sang along; party hats sat atop their heads. Some held colorful balloons that bobbed in rhythm with their song.

Hand pressed to her lips that trembled, Samina’s blurry gaze swept over the room. She could see her parents and siblings standing before her, their faces beaming. Her heart skipped a beat, recognizing Sheena and her family. Even Ada and Jaxson stood among the group, smug grins on their faces for keeping a secret from her.

She choked a laugh as her brother Obadiah waved his hands like a conductor.

Looking up, she noticed the birthday steamers and a custom banner draped above the archway leading to the kitchen. Then her heart stopped at the sight of Ezekiel standing underneath it, his gentle smile warming her all over.

As the song interrupted into soft laughter and the group rushed forward, Samina braced herself for the onslaught of hugs and kisses.

Samina smiled kindly as Sheena stepped forward with Adelaide by her side. “Aunty, thank you for coming over.”

Adelaide’s dark eyes swept candidly over her face. “Happy Birthday, Aunty Sammie.”

Taken aback, Samina nodded. “Thank you Laide.”

Adelaide grinned and leaned into Sheena’s side.

Sheena pulled Samina into a hug. Ezekiel stepped behind his mother, holding a sleepy Beulah on his hip. Samina forced her eyes on Sheena’s shoulder instead of his intent gaze.

“I wish for you a life full of joy and love,” Sheena whispered, patting Samina’s back.

“Thank you.” She held back a sigh when Sheena disengaged from the embrace, forcing her to look Ezekiel’s way.

“Happy birthday, Sam,” he said, voice gentle and tender.

Cheeks on fire, Samina managed a smile. “Thanks.”

From across the room, Karen bit the end of her straw as she watched the two by the door.

“Trying to burn a hole through his head or is that your normal way of watching people?” Ada drawled, stepping beside her.

Karen scowled, gnawing the straw. “I just don’t understand why he won’t leave her alone…”

Ada raised a brow. “Leave her alone? I thought he barely noticed her.”

“Does that look like someone not noticing her?” Karen threw her a quelling stare. “He’s been staring at her since she came in.”

“Odd…” Ada peeked at Ezekiel. “What’s his deal?”

“It doesn’t matter.” Karen’s lips curled in disdain. “I want her to move on and forget about him.”

Ada smirked then and crossed her arms. “Well I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that much longer, my dear.”

Karen eyed Ada’s smug grin with open skepticism. “What are you talking about?”

“Sammie was escorted from my house by a man.”

Karen’s eyes widened slightly and Ada grinned. “What man?” Karen demanded, glancing once at her sister who walked Sheena and her family to the door.  “Was it a date? Who is he?”.

The corner of Ada’s lips twitched upward. “Let’s just say our days of worrying about Samina’s love life are almost over, my dear Karen.”

“Girls,” Deidre called from the kitchen. “Instead of standing there gossiping, come give us a hand with the dishes? It’s getting late.”

Ada and Karen glanced over their shoulder to where Deidre and Jaxson stood.

Jaxson tossed his fiance a pleading look and Ada rolled her eyes. Walking over to him, she snatched the dishrag from his hand. “Bye.”

He kissed her cheek, winked at Karen and hurried off to Obadiah’s side.

Karen snuck a peek at Samina’s face as she accepted a hug from their father. Could Ada’s predictions be true? Her lips curled in a smile, watching Samina laugh softly.

“Karen,” Deidre snapped impatiently and Karen turned to her mother. “Tonight please.”

“Yes Mom,” Karen mumbled, shuffling to her mother’s side to wash the dishes.

<<Chapter 20 || Chapter 22>>

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