Posts tagged “parents

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 46

Posted on 27/05/2015


“Now wait a minute,” Deidre called out as Samina followed her siblings to the door. “Samina, we need to talk.”

A chill ran down her spine at her mother’s no-nonsense tone, reminding her that she was not yet off the hook. They’d just been slightly distracted with Topher, with Odetta, with themselves to worry about her surgery. Samina stifled a groan, fearing her parents’ reactions. Keeping secrets and telling lies were punishable crimes in the Wells family.

“Can we go?” Karen whined, earning her a look of betrayal. She shrugged, giving Samina a ‘serves you right’ look and turned back to their parents. “I have to study before we leave.”

“And it’s too awkward for me to stay, so…” Obadiah kicked a shoulder.

Samina scowled, feeling slighted. Wasn’t he supposed to be her ally?

Gabriel nodded, waving them off. “We’ll drop her off later tonight. Be here by nine tomorrow morning.”

Samina stood frozen as her siblings scurried out the door, imprisoning her inside, her pulse racing as she gauged her parents’ stern expressions. How she wished this day would just end.

“Come sit,” Gabriel muttered, patting the spot between him and Deidre.

Samina hesitated and eyed the chair clear across the room. That would be a safer seat. “I guess I can’t stand?”

“Not an option,” Deidre clipped out, folding arms across her chest. Indeed, she meant business.

Heaving a deep sigh, Samina pushed on her feet and trudged to the chair.

“First,” Gabriel began before she could find a comfortable position. “How are you feeling?”

His concern made her sit up straighter. “I’m fine. Everything’s fine.”

Deidre scoffed lightly. “Is that so?” Her flashing eyes showed no sign of mischief and blatant scheming to put her and Topher together.

“What was it for?” Gabriel continued in his patient voice that brooked no argument or lies. “The surgery. What was wrong?”

“Huh?” Samina sounded too breathless for her own liking. Signs of nervousness, which could mean she was about to tell yet another lie. She couldn’t do that. Not with her father. His probing eyes would realize it even before she uttered the words. With a sigh, Samina averted her gaze to his right shoulder. “I-It was a tumor.”

Deidre inhaled sharply. Gabriel sat up in alarm. Samina cringed. This was what she wanted to avoid, if Karen had kept her big mouth shut.

“Tumor?” Deidre gasped. “W-where?” Her fingers grabbed Samina’s, squeezing it.

A lump hardened in her throat, making it hard for her to respond. Though the surgery was weeks ago, and her last checkup showed signs that she was going to be just fine, reliving those moments of loneliness and fear rendered her speechless. She’d been really terrified that night before the surgery. What if she hadn’t woken up?

If possible, Deidre would resurrect her only to give her a peace of her mind. Her father would hold his head in his hands and groan as he always did when he didn’t know what to do. Karen would cry for years. Obadiah would punch something or someone… Everyone would be sad.

A tear rolled down her cheek, as if she finally realized what she’d done by going through the procedure without notifying anyone. She’d been selfish, even if she was thinking of everyone’s feelings.

“What were you thinking?” Gabriel bit through clenched teeth. His eyes were red, as if he was holding back tears. Deidre didn’t bother hiding her distress, weeping aloud. “Surgery without any of us beside you. How could you do this, Samina?”

She sniffed, her mouth trembling. “I-I’m sorry! I was… scared.” She choked on a sob as Deidre wrapped her arms around her. “Everything was going wrong, with me losing a job, not having a husband or anything to call my own. It’s bad enough that I’m a failure as your eldest, why did I have to be sick too?”

Gabriel’s scowl darkened. Deidre hugged her closer. “Oh Sammie… don’t say that.”

Samina shook her head. “I am…” she insisted weakly, the tears falling with no signs of stopping. She sagged against Deidre, the sobs seizing control.

In that instant, Gabriel’s indignation faded at the sight of his girl’s tears and wrapped his arms around the two of them. “It’s okay… you’re okay,” he hushed Samina’s bawling while Deidre rubbed Samina’s back in that soothing manner as if she was six again.

Within the hour, Gabriel placed a call to Karen and spoke in hushed tones. Samina lay in Deidre’s arms, listening as her father announced that Samina would be spending the night. She closed her eyes before he turned and feigned sleep. She felt the gentle brush of her mother’s palm over her frizzy hair, felt the warm breath of her father’s sigh when he settled beside his wife and first daughter.

“Poor thing,” Deidre cooed gently, smoothing Samina’s brow. “She’s been through so much in so little time. I can’t even imagine…” Her voice trembled a little. “It’s our fault.”

Gabriel didn’t argue. Didn’t dare.

“If only I’d been more observant.” Deidre sniffed a tear. “I should’ve noticed what was really bothering her instead of worrying her about a stupid job or a husband. My poor baby girl.”

Samina felt the lump in her throat but couldn’t swallow. Not when they were gazing down at her.

“You couldn’t have known,” Gabriel insisted gently. “She’s always been reserved; keeps things to herself, for fear that she’ll inconvenience everyone or appear too weak.” He grunted, incredulous. “I wonder where she gets that from.”

Deidre snorted derisively. “Seriously, Gabe… You’re really asking?”

He sighed resignedly. “Not now, Deidre. Let’s focus on her for now.”

Samina felt a tear slide down her cheek.

In the silence, Deidre sighed. “I think she likes Topher.”

Samina’s breath caught and she quickly pushed it out, as if snoring. Her heart was racing so fast, she was sure her mother could feel it against her thigh.

Her father chuckled, his rough palm rubbing her cheek. “Since when does she snore?”

“Life is hard, Gabe,” Deidre answered in a dismissive tone. “Did you hear what I said?”

He pushed out a long-suffering breath as he always did when Deidre took that tone with him. That exasperated tone that said he wasn’t listening to her. “And what happened to focusing on her?”

If she wasn’t pretending to sleep, Samina would’ve high-fived her father. But that would just blow her cover. She didn’t need their nagging, or crying, or whatever else right now.

“I am…” Deidre sighed in resignation, brushing back Samina’s curls. “I’m just not sure she’s happy. With anything in her life right now. Not even Ezekiel.”

Samina bit the inside of her cheeks, her chest throbbing a slow dull ache. Was she really as pitiful as her mother made it sound?

“That’s not true…” Gabriel countered softly. “She’s painting now and aside from our little drama, she likes her job. She’s plenty happy, Deidre.”

Again, Samina would’ve hugged her father tightly if not for her cover. She drew in another measured breath and released it slowly.

Deidre paused. Then sniffed. “She told you that?”

“She told you too but you were distracted on your crusade to get her married.” Gabriel sighed. “Let her be, Deidre. She’ll find her way as she’s always done.” His heavy hand rested on Samina’s shoulder, the pad of his thumb brushing her bare arm. “With a mom as headstrong as you, why wouldn’t she?”

Deidre snorted. “That sounds deceptively like an insult, Gabriel Thatcher Wells.”

“A compliment, my love. A well-intended compliment.” He chuckled lightly, the welcoming sound wrapping Samina like a warm fleece blanket. She’d missed his laugh. Feeling her mother lean over her, Samina hid a smile when her parents reconciled over a lengthy kiss.

Samina stirred to the sound of a lawn mower and groaned at the dull ache on her side. Squinting one eye open, she saw Topher sitting on a chair opposite hers. Scoffing softly, Samina closed her eyes. Wake up, Samina… enough with the weird dreams. 

She attempted again, squinting the other eye open this time. Topher stared at her, one dark bushy brow raised inquisitively. Choking a gasp, Samina snapped her eyes shut. This wasn’t a dream. Topher was sitting in her parents’ living room. For how long?

She started to sit up, her legs felt stiff, bound. A blanket was caught between them, holding her legs captive. Her face was on fire, knowing exactly what he must be thinking, watching her flail with a blanket. How long had he been sitting there, watching her sleep?

Shifting a little too far left, Samina squeaked as she felt her body lose contact and roll over the cushioned edge. She braced herself for the short fall. Except strong arms prevented her from falling face down.

Samina jerked in his arms, pushing her palms into his chest.

“Hold still,” Topher sucked in his teeth, holding her close despite her pesky wriggling.

Samina lay stiff in his arms as he pushed her gently onto the couch. Mortified, Samina riveted her bleary gaze to the carpeted floor. No doubt she looked a hot mess, with one side of her frizzled curls lopsided and flat. Her eyes were probably swollen from crying. She groaned inwardly. She must’ve really dozed off once her parents got distracted with their reconciliation.

Breathing out a sigh, Topher moved away to retake his seat.

Through lowered lashes, Samina peeked at him. He looked like a mountain man; deep-blue flannel shirt stretched over his muscled torso and loose dark jeans with boots. While she still wore her musty Sunday clothes and probably had eye-boogers. He smelled freshly of sandalwood and mint, while her exotic jasmine body mist faded hours ago.

He settled into his seat and folded his arms across his chest, assessing her in silence.

Samina clenched her jaw, willing her rebellious pulse to stop skipping. She was too grown to be swept away by a man’s impressive physique and amazing scent.

Ezekiel smells like lime and clean laundry, Samina told herself, staring at him dead on. She refused to be intimidated by her conflicted feelings.

Topher squinted at her, jaw hard as stone.

She glared back. “What are you doing here?” It was much too early for heart palpitations.

His gray eyes swept over her and Samina sought out the blanket to wrap around her. Then his lips lifted in a mocking smirk, a brow arched derisively. “Long night?”

She stiffened at his scathing tone. This wasn’t the easy-going, kind Topher with a perpetual warm teasing word and eyes that often danced with mischief. No doubt he still felt slighted by her new relationship, but now she was much too tired for sympathy. “Please, grow up.” She fought a grimace at her own breath, deciding to keep her mouth shut from now on.

His smile faded instantly, his features hardening. “That’s what you say when I saved you from falling on your face?”

Her face fired. A gentleman wouldn’t have mentioned that. Ezekiel surely wouldn’t have. Samina clenched her jaw. “You wouldn’t have noticed if you weren’t staring at me while I slept.”

He pursed his lips and looked away, brow drawing a frown.

Samina frowned as her indignation fizzled instantly, leaving only regret. She hadn’t meant the accusation but for some reason, it came out as though it was the truth. Even though it surely wasn’t. He probably just glanced her way when she stirred from sleep. Why would he stare at her? Rolling her eyes, Samina started to apologize. “Look, I…”

“Next time,” Topher cut in, voice low and without intonation. “Sleep in your room… It’s distracting.”

She frowned at his begrudging tone. “What… is?” When he turned her way, her stomach pitched. Stunned, Samina shot to her feet and rounded the sofa toward the stairs.

Topher stood quickly and with his cursed long legs, closed the distance between them, blocking her path.

Samina inhaled sharply as he grabbed her arms. The smell of him and mint filled her nostrils. Her knees suddenly felt weak and she frowned. I don’t swoon. I won’t swoon!

His mouth opened and closed, wrestling over a word. Her gaze volleyed from his lips to his eyes, trying to decipher what he struggled to say.

Suddenly, Topher dropped his arms and stepped away. Samina bit back a protesting sigh, watching him drag a hand over his beautiful curls. She squeezed her fingers together, inwardly berating her wanton thoughts.

You love Ezekiel! Her head screamed even as she gazed at Topher’s dependable shoulders, having silly and unnecessary thoughts.

Topher was a head taller than Ezekiel, with broader shoulders, a longer torso and strong legs. He looked good in jeans, but then again, so did Ezekiel. Always had. In fact, she always felt fuzzy when Ezekiel touched her. Though Topher’s touch was equally warm and unsettling…


Samina blinked out of her reverie. “Huh?”

Topher was now facing her, gaze solemn and resigned. “You’re happy… right?”

Her mother’s words from last night echoed in her ears. Happiness. The word sounded so foreign in her ears. Samina felt her eyes sting at the concern etched on his brow. Topher looked better, approachable smiling. She didn’t like when he frowned, knowing it was because of her. “Uh-huh,” she managed, voice shaking. She eyed the stairs, seeking a quick escape.

Topher took a step forward. Samina took a step back. He paused, cocked his head in silent question.

“I-I need to get ready,” she mumbled the only excuse possible and hurried up the stairs to her room before the tears fell. The door closed behind her, Samina closed her eyes and told herself to breathe. She’d made the right choice; going to her surgery alone, getting a job at House of Hope, choosing Ezekiel instead of Topher. She should be happy.

Downstairs, Gabriel greeted Topher warmly just as the door opened, Karen and Obadiah announcing their arrival. Samina quickly wiped her face and pushed away from the door, to the bathroom. She had to get ready fast, before everyone worried about her again.

Within the hour, Samina pondered feigning an illness to skip the camping trip altogether. Meanwhile, Topher helped Gabriel and Obadiah load up the van. Karen and Deidre stocked the backseat with a cooler full of snacks for their long drive.

“Okay, that’s done.” Dusting his hands together, Gabriel moved past Samina to the driver’s seat. “Sam, take the middle row with Topher. The rest, get to the back.”

She squinted as her parents shared a conspirator’s smile across the hood before ducking inside their respective seats.

“Uh, Sammie, why don’t you take the backseat?” Karen intervened with a kind smile. “You can stretch out and rest some more. Toph, Obad and I can squeeze in the middle seat.” She hooked an arm under Topher’s. “She gets car-sick easily,” she informed him as they walked up to the open car door.

So it’s Toph now? Samina narrowed her eyes at her sister, clearly flirting with Topher.

“Ah, I see…” Topher glanced over his shoulder at Samina, concern wrinkling his brow.

“I’ll sit between you guys,” Karen continued, batting her lashes. “Since I’m smaller.”

Obadiah scowled but didn’t argue.

Samina quickly schooled her features. Whatever her sister chose to call Christopher Chance was none of her business. In fact, Karen could flirt with him all day, for all she cared. Samina loved Ezekiel. Tilting her chin with this resolve, Samina breezed past them. “Obad can sit back with me. It’s not a problem.”

Obadiah smirked knowingly. “That’s okay, Sam. My legs are too long for the back seat anyway. Karen, you sit there.”

Karen’s eyes widened. “But—!”

“You know, since you’re smaller.” Obadiah winked at Topher who tried his best to hide a smile.

“Hurry up!” Deidre interrupted Karen’s protest. “The others are already on their way there.” She smiled at Gabriel as he sorted out the CD-player choices.

Samina frowned as Karen slumped beside her and folded her arms. Tossing her a ‘serves you right’ look, Samina cocked a brow. “Flirt,” she mouthed, earning a loud scoff from Karen.

Topher slid into the seat in front of her, the scent of him tickling her nostrils. Samina leaned into her seat, far away from his warmth and disconcerting cologne.

Karen tugged her sleeve to pull her close and whispered. “So what? It’s not like you like him, right?”

It was definitely a whisper but loud enough for Topher to hear it clearly. Thankfully, he focused his attention on Obadiah’s words to take note. Samina snatched her arm back and glared at her.

Unapologetic, Karen’s eyes danced with mirth and something else Samina didn’t want to decipher.

She looked away. It would do her no good to humor Karen, who spent half of her day reading trashy romance novels and letting her wild imagination run free.

Her eyes fell on Topher’s dark curls, her fingers itching to touch them. Samina curled them inward and faced the window just as the car pulled out onto the street. She drew in a measured breath, ignoring the weight of Karen’s eyes on her. Definitely no good at all.

“Camping, here we come!” Obadiah whooped and both Karen and Topher chuckled. Samina groaned inwardly, slumping deeper into her seat.

<<Chapter 45 || Chapter 47>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 43

Posted on 20/05/2015


“There were twin girls… one fair and one dark,” Nadine said in a wistful tone. “Closer than two peas in a pod, playing together, growing together. We were the best of friends, Odetta and I.”

Samina glanced over Nadine’s head at Topher. He had his head bowed as if in reverence for his dead mother. Her heart ached for him. What would she do if she didn’t know her parents?

“Then there was three. A family moved to the upper level of our apartment complex.” Her lips twitched a smile. “We were in the same grade, but he was a few months older. Kind eyes, a good listener.”

Even without hearing the boy’s name, Samina knew who Nadine described.

“Jeremiah Dames,” Nadine said, her gaze softening. “We played together, growing together… He was our first friend.”

Samina’s heart skipped a beat as Topher’s brow furrowed. What was he thinking?

Nadine summoned a breath, coughing it out. “Then we went to middle school.” Her gaze flickered over Samina’s face.

Samina offered a smile albeit weak and uncertain. She held a baited breath.

“By this time,” Nadine continued. “Odetta and I and Jeremiah were closer than ever before. We didn’t mind sharing each other’s attention; he was the brother we never had.” Her lips curled in a wistful smile. “Then we became a foursome. A new kid on the block. He lived a street over but we often spent time together during school.”

Samina shifted on her feet, wondering if this was her father.

“His name… Maurice Santiago.”

Topher and Samina glanced once at each other before turning to Nadine.

“A complete opposite of Jeremiah; he was impulsive, stubborn and a force to be reckoned with…” Her smile contradicted her harsh description of this unknown man. “But fiercely protective. He took care of all the bullies that taunted any of us. He was our friend and we played together, grew together.” Her smile waned.

Samina’s heart skipped a beat.

“Then high school drew near.” Her now somber gaze skimmed over Samina’s face. “A new kid came to town. His father and mother were of a higher status than most; engineer and scientist. They were the talk of our small town for quite some time.”

Samina drew in her bottom lip, recalling her prestigious grandparents who had passed on years ago. “My dad…”

Nadine dipped her head. “Your father, Gabriel Wells….” Her brow furrowed slightly. “Odetta was obsessed with him, much to everyone’s chagrin. She suddenly lost interest with our group, wanting to spend time in Gabriel’s company.” Her voice took a disapproving tone that drew a frown on Topher’s face. “Suddenly, Jeremiah’s enduring strength and the security of Maurice’s reputation wasn’t enough… I wasn’t enough.” Her caramel eyes darkened. “By the end of high school, Gabriel and my sister became a pair. And Maurice, Jeremiah and I were…” She shrugged. “We just were.”

In silence, Samina watched Nadine’s bony fingers press the blanket bunched at her waist. Even after all these years, the older woman couldn’t forgive Gabriel for separating their close-knit group. But that couldn’t be the reason for her anger.

“I was certain all three loved Odetta equally,” Nadine mumbled. “She was comparably frailer in stature and disposition, while I was the darker, rasher twin.” She snorted derisively. “It wasn’t hard to realize that they dealt with me because of her.”

“Nadine…” Topher finally spoke out.

She brushed him off with a smirk. “Maurice became impatient, surly. Jeremiah was more subdued than normal. But funny thing was he and Gabriel became friends.” She chuckled softly. “At eighteen, I felt betrayed. All my three friends had changed once Gabriel came.”

Samina bit her bottom lip, a pang of guilt prickled by Nadine’s resentful tone.

“Odetta and I grew apart. We fought daily, we didn’t play together. She spent more time with Gabriel and Jeremiah. We argued about college plans and the future.” Her brow furrowed. “She wanted to leave Abbeville, dreamed of being something bigger than our hometown. I wanted to stay close to home. College wasn’t a priority for me then. It was everything to her. So we fought and she moved away.”

Topher blew out a breath, as if impatient to hear the truth of his birth. Samina couldn’t blame him and although her father wasn’t his, her whole body was stiff with anxiety.

“Our group was now severed with Odetta gone. Maurice moved away too, pursuing music. Jeremiah and Gabriel went to a college nearby. And I stayed home.”

Samina peeked at the tenseness in Topher’s shoulders, his hands hanging at his sides. She tamped down the urge to go to him and forced herself to listen on.

“I assumed Odetta would be happy now that she’d gone away. I wished her nothing but the best.” Nadine’s brow furrowed, her lips pursed at the painful memories. “But she was becoming restless, I could tell every time she visited home. Though she and Gabriel stayed together for more than ten years, Odetta constantly questioned her value in his life.” Her jaw tightened, her eyes hardened. “Almost as if she couldn’t keep up with him. I told her to break it off with Gabriel, anxious for her to return home.”

Topher frowned. Samina held her breath.

“She didn’t break it off with Gabriel yet, worried since he was working on his thesis. But she took a semester off and came home.  Then Maurice came back.”

Samina met the storm in Topher’s gray eyes.  Her heart thudded against her ribs.

“Everything changed.” Nadine murmured in a wistful voice. “Odetta was swept in a storm she had no idea was brewing in Maurice’s heart for years.”

Samina frowned. Topher shifted his head to look at Nadine.

With a sigh, Nadine leaned into the pillow, exhausted. “One night, she climbed in beside me, crying. Said she’d betrayed Gabriel and knew he would never forgive her.” She drew her arms around her. “Said she was in love and didn’t know how to tell Gabriel, how to make things right from that moment forward.”

Her heart skipped a beat. Maurice was Topher’s father?

Nadine shrugged. “I knew she always cared for Maurice. Honestly, if he’d been half as ambitious as Gabriel and as level-headed as Jeremiah, she would’ve ended up with him from the beginning.”

Samina held her breath.

“I asked what she’d done and she said that they’d eloped.”

Samina inhaled sharply. Topher’s jaw tightened, eyes glistening with tears.

Nadine silently pointed to the Bible on the bedside table next to Samina.

Passing it over, Samina watched as Nadine pulled out a faded photograph from the bind. Topher shifted closer, eager to see his father now.

Staring at the faded photograph, she immediately recognized younger versions of her father and Uncle Jeremiah. She saw the two women, the fairer twin of Nadine flanked between Jeremiah and Gabriel. Then, off to the corner, stood a somber-faced young man with hooded eyes staring the photographer.  His facial features were a muted version of Topher’s but the features were almost identical.

“This, my dear Christopher…” Nadine’s bony finger caressed the young man’s face. “This is Maurice Santiago. Your father.”

He heaved a deep sigh. “Wow.”

Samina’s eyes welled up with fresh tears and she finally lifted her gaze to Topher. The way he hunched over the bed, gazing at the picture hinted the turmoil inside of him. Again, she squelched the need to wrap her arms around him.

Nadine sighed and turned to Samina. “The reason I can’t forgive your father is not because he took my sister away from me, but because he didn’t give her a chance to explain… Didn’t give her the benefit of being herself.”

Samina nodded, her heart in her throat.

“No matter.” Nadine shrugged, extending the photograph to Topher. “Your father and I will talk later. Right now, you and Christopher need to talk.”

Topher stiffened visibly and Samina bit her bottom lip.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” Nadine scoffed. “Enough with the Romeo-Juliet drama. Go off with you two, I’m sleepy.”

At first, Topher could only stare at the photography while Samina waited on him. He seemed content to stay by Nadine’s side and would have if Nadine didn’t threaten to kick him out for good. It was a weak directive but Topher finally dragged his feet to the door. Samina followed and came to stand outside the room, facing a blank-faced Topher.

He heaved another sigh and looked down at the picture once more.

Samina frowned. “Aren’t you going to say anything?”

Topher didn’t lift his head. “There’s nothing to say.”

Samina squinted. “After all Nadine said, you have nothing to say?”

He sighed and finally lifted his gaze to hers. “This isn’t a good time. Let’s talk later. I have questions to ask Nadine.” He turned to go.

She grabbed his sleeve to stop him, bristling at his dismissal. “Not until we talk.”

Topher stared down at her hand on his arm.

Face on fire, Samina dropped her hand as if his arm was on fire.

A flicker of pain crossed his face before cloaked behind the blank stare. “What is it, Samina? What do you want?”

She swallowed hard, mustering up courage that was already wilting. “Do…” she licked her dry lips. “Do you like me?”

His expression darkened, his lips tightened. “Samina…”

“Do you?”

He squinted at her. “Should you be asking me this?”

“Just answer me.” Samina felt her pulse jump in her throat.

Topher averted his gaze. “What does it matter if I do? You’re dating someone.” He turned back to her, his gray eyes now dark, accusing. “I’m not like my father and you’re not like my mother.”

Samina reared back, his cold words slapping her in the face.

“Sorry I can’t escort you outside,” he said, stare detached, voice without pitch. “Goodbye, Samina.” Then he turned away and walked back into the room, shutting the door behind him.

Reeling from the accusation and dismissal, Samina sagged against the wall.

Nadine eyed Topher as he crossed the room and moved to the window. She scowled at his back. “You’re a bigger fool than I thought you were.”

His back answered her in silence.

“Can’t you see she has feelings for you? And you compare you and her to your parents? What rubbish.”

“It’s rude to eavesdrop.”

Scoffing, Nadine settled under the covers. “Topher, your parents wasted time because of hurt pride and misunderstanding. Don’t repeat their mistakes.”

“It’s more complicated than that.” Topher turned to look at her. “There’s bad blood between us. You hate her father, and besides–”

“I don’t hate Gabriel, I just don’t like him.” She rolled her eyes at his dubious stare. “And since when do you pay attention to me being dramatic anyway?”

Topher smiled wryly. “You’re always dramatic.”

She scowled. “You’re a cheeky, disrespectful boy.”

His smile waned, his expression now somber. “Tell me about… them. About Maurice. I need to know more.”

Sobering at the longing in Topher’s gaze, Nadine nodded and gestured him over. Silently, Topher ambled over to her side and settled beside her in the bed. Nadine smiled wistfully as he gathered her in his arms and she summoned a breath. “Your father…” She smiled gently. “He loved your mother fiercely.”

<<Chapter 42 || Chapter 44>>

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