Posts tagged “reconciliation

Homecoming, Chapter 25

Posted on 15/03/2016

As predicted, Bart was impossible to be around once Geraldine left with Yelena, Joselyn and J.R. for Peru. The week was longer and more unbearable for the rest of the Teka family because Bart acted like a rabid dog, barking at whoever provoked him. Clement was merciless, poking fun at him whenever he had the chance.

Phoebe, normally lenient toward Clement, took him to task. “Pastor Clement Teka, will you please behave? Stop provoking him, for goodness’ sake.”

He frowned, dropping his hand from Bart’s shoulder. “How many times do I have to say it? I’m not a pastor. I’m a missionary–”

“Same thing,” she returned impatiently. “Just leave him alone.”

Bart snorted in disgust and started to walk off when the doorbell rang. He ignored it and headed for the kitchen instead.

“Get that, Bart–” Phoebe halted as Eleazar breezed past her to answer the door.

Clement groaned at the woman standing on the doorstep. “What is she doing here? Eli, get away from the door.”

“It’s alright,” Abe said from behind them. He moved past them to meet Eleazar and the elderly woman gazing longingly at him. “Mrs. Crane, please come in.”

Eleazar gave the woman a smile and beckoned her to enter. Phoebe frowned at her husband. “Abe, what’s going on?”

Abe turned to his wife with a sheepish smile. “I thought that this would be a good time as any to invite her over. Besides, Eli begged me to let him meet her.”

Dumbfounded, Clement and Phoebe watched as Eleazar and his grandmother exchanged a smile. Then Mrs. Crane turned to Phoebe and Clement, her smile waning. “Please call me Sharma, and I want to apologize for the trouble I caused earlier. I didn’t mean to alarm you or Eleazar.”

Phoebe raised a brow, noting that the woman had surrendered the name she’d once insisted was Eleazar’s. The fact that she’d chosen to accept his adopted name was a good sign.

She glanced once at her husband who silently pleaded with his eyes. Relenting, Phoebe offered the older woman a kind smile. “Please come in and have a seat. Eli, why don’t you bring something for your grandma to drink?”

They waited until he’d hurried to the kitchen before turning back to Sharma Crane perched on a chair with her hands resting primly on her lap. She looked out of place with her coiffed salt-and-pepper hair and a tweed suit that was too inappropriate for the humid weather.

For a few moments, they sat in silence, watching her fidget with her hands. They recalled the last time she’d sat in their living room, livid and inconsolable. The difference was striking.

“What genius allowed Eli in the kit–” Bart mumbled as he reentered the living room and halted. His scowl darkened. “What is she doing here?”

Sharma flinched. Phoebe placed a hand on her knee. “Don’t be alarmed. He’s currently sulking over his fiancée’s absence.”

“I am not sulking,” Bart grumbled, squinted eyes on the woman. “Is someone gonna answer me?”

“Eli and I invited her,” Abe spoke up. “Where’s Darah?”

“Helping Eli clean up the mess in the kitchen.”

Sharma started to stand. “Oh, I didn’t mean for you to make a fuss.”

“Too late,” Clement muttered, earning him glares from Abe and Phoebe.

“Why don’t you go see about them?” Phoebe told him pointedly before flashing Sharma another smile. “I’m sure he’s just trying to make a good impression on you. Please, sit down.”

Clement rose from the chair after one steely look from Abe and strode into the kitchen.

Hesitating, Sharma peered over their heads in the direction of the kitchen, as if debating whether to follow Clement.

“Mrs. Crane,” Abe said, grabbing her attention. “I was hoping we could come to an agreement. Eli’s curious about you and we don’t want to deny him something he wants except if it’ll cause him mental and emotional harm–”

“I promise it won’t happen again,” Sharma interrupted quickly, eyes wide as tea saucers as she sat back down and faced Abe. “I’ve been looking for Cale…Eleazar since she lost him.”

Bart snorted derisively at her poor choice of words but didn’t say a word, not when Phoebe gave him a warning glare. He leaned back and folded his arms over his chest.

“When I was informed he was alive and healthy, I-I just had to see him.” Big fat tears escaped her eyes and slid down her plump cheeks. “I acted foolishly, but you have to understand what finding him again means to me.”

Abe and Bart grimaced at the sight, but Phoebe grabbed a tissue box from under the glass coffee table and held it out to her.

Sharma accepted it with a shaky laugh. “Thank you for giving me a chance to see him. To talk with him.” She dabbed her cheeks. “I promise not to mess this up.”

Eleazar picked that very moment to step into the living room, with Darah and Clement holding the refreshments instead of him. The nine-year-old halted at the sight of his grandmother sniffling back tears and his brow furrowed in concern. Then with pursed lips, he turned to Bart with an accusing glare.

Bart sat up and held both hands. “Whoa, I didn’t do anything.”

“Then why are you looking at her like that?” Darah mumbled, earning her a scowl from Bart. She rolled her eyes and set the jug of lemonade on the table.

Sharma smiled gently. “I’m fine, Eleazar. Thank you.”

Eleazar’s frown eased off and he turned back to Sharma, a shy smile lifting his countenance. To his siblings’ surprise, when Sharma gestured for him to sit beside her, he went willingly.

Clement and Bart glanced at each other curiously while Abe and Phoebe eyed him with concern. They hadn’t planned for Eleazar to want to meet his grandmother; in fact, they’d expected him to avoid all talk of her after she’d spooked him the first time. But it seemed their little man was growing up after all.

They watched and listened in awe as Sharma and Eleazar strike a conversation over favorite foods; the tie between grandmother and grandson forming before their very eyes.

Darah busied herself pouring the drinks. She held out a cup of juice to Sharma. “So does that mean you’ll be hanging around here?”

Sharma paused in mid-laughter and accepted the drink. Her gaze skimmed the pensive expressions from Eleazar’s siblings and managed a smile. “I would like to know more about Eleazar and for him to know me more. Maybe introduce him to his heritage and his family.”

Darah frowned. “But we’re his family.”

“So am I,” Sharma said firmly, softening her words with a smile. Then she glanced up at the older siblings. “I’m willing to compromise in whatever way you see fit.”

Eleazar who wore a thoughtful expression, one that preceded a panic episode. Though he hadn’t suffered one recently, his siblings worried about Sharma’s presence in his life. Having his past constantly show up couldn’t be good for him.

“Mrs. Crane, it’s like this,” Phoebe spoke up. “Eleazar suffers panic attacks ever since he was a baby.”

Sharma’s eyes widened and she glanced down at Eleazar. “Oh no.”

“It’s not her fault!” Eleazar shouted, glaring at Abe and Phoebe. “Don’t listen to them.”

Sharma shook her head. “My poor baby. I’m so sorry.”

Eleazar’s lips trembled as he spied the tears forming in his grandmother’s eyes.

“I’m so sorry for hurting you,” She placed her hands on his shoulders and pulled him close.

The Teka siblings held their breath and awaited Eleazar’s reaction, for he didn’t allow just anyone to touch him. But Eleazar didn’t shove her aside, instead resting his cheek on her shoulder. Sharma rocked him as she wept openly and Eleazar wrapped his skinny arms around her, his fingers clutching the tweed of her suit.

Phoebe leaned into her husband and he draped his arm about her, pulling her close. Darah sat back on her heels, watching Eleazar fight tears while comforting his grandmother. Bart’s scowl eased away and Clement watched with a wistful smile.

Hours later, Bart, Darah and Clement watched from the window as Eleazar, Abe and Phoebe stood in the driveway with Mrs. Sharma Crane. The solemn-faced woman smoothed Eleazar’s hair and gave him a gentle smile before looking up to Abe and Phoebe.

From where they stood, they couldn’t hear what Sharma said to either, but had a feeling she was thanking them for loving Eleazar.

Stepping away from the window, Clement walked back to the coffee table and downed a glass of lemonade. “I wonder how Geri’s doing.”

Bart grumbled something incoherently under his breath, acting nonchalant over Clement’s musings. Darah and Clement exchanged knowing glances, amused by his sulky mood.

“When do they get back anyway?” Darah asked casually.

“Two days–” Bart caught Clement’s pointed smirk and scowled deeper. “Oh, whatever.”

Darah scoffed. “You’re a hot mess. All because she hasn’t called you.”

“Like you’re any better,” he tossed back. “Sighing over J.R.”

She mirrored his scowl. “That’s a lie! When have I ever–”

“Junior said you wrote his name in hearts all over your notebook, Mrs. Darah Obed.”

Clement’s smirk faded when Darah whipped around to glare at him. “Now wait a minute…” He lowered the empty glass and dashed for the stairs, Darah racing after him.

Bart snickered as Clement yelled his innocence from the top stairs. Then he turned as the front door opened; his siblings and Phoebe stepping inside.

Abe frowned at the ruckus ensuing upstairs. “What is going on?”

Phoebe shook her head. “We can’t even leave those two for one minute.” She placed a hand over Eleazar’s shoulder. “You okay?”

“Yeah. I’m fine.” The nine-year-old turned and gave them a smile. “Thanks guys.”

Even Bart gave him a smile. “You sure about this, Eli?”

Eleazar sighed. “You guys always taught us not to abandon our family, even if they suck.” He shrugged his thin shoulders. “Besides, she wasn’t the one who abandoned me, so I gotta take care of her.”

The three adults watched as the lanky kid ambled up the stairs. Then Abe shook his head in awe. “From the mouth of babes…”

“He’s not a baby anymore,” Phoebe reminded him and tucked her arm around his.

Bart rolled his eyes when they shared an adoring glance at each other. He stepped away from them before they started kissing. “For goodness’ sake, get a room.”

Phoebe poked his leg with her foot. “Come back here, you grump. How long are you gonna sulk over Geri leaving? She’s not gone forever, although I don’t blame her after what you did.”

“Let him be, Phoebe.” Abe patted her shoulder.

“Not this time. Why would she call a man who rejected her proposal? Just call her and accept already.”

Bart heaved a sigh. “It’s not like that at all.”

“Then what–oh.” Phoebe’s lips made an o-shape, her eyes wide. “You wanted to be the one to propose? Is that it?”

Bart pocketed his hands. “She already proposed once, I wanted to do it right this time around.”

“Ah,” Phoebe breathed, nodding her head. “I see.”

Abe smirked at his younger brother. “It seems you’ve got a method to your madness after all.”

“Of course,” Bart sounded and looked smug. “Can’t have her making all the decisions in our relationship. I plan on asking her when she comes back.”

“Oh, I see,” Phoebe said slowly. “That’s… the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Confused, Abe frowned down at her. Bart gaped in shock. “Huh?”

“You’re a hot mess, Bart. And I hope for your sake Geri doesn’t hold it against you.” She snorted in disgust and stepped away from the two of them, muttering under her breath about chauvinistic males and their inflated egos.

Bart scratched his head and glanced up at Abe. “What just happened?”

Abe looked equally confused and shrugged. “Beats me.”

<<Chapter 24 || Chapter 26>>

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Guiding Light, Chapter 16 (Final)

Posted on 09/12/2015

Her office should’ve been swarming with students. It was finals week, which meant the seniors who had procrastinated their college prep appointments would choose this last week to meet with her and the other counselors. But not a person darkened the door of her office. Phoebe was bored out of her mind.

She played tic-tac-toe against herself, doodled with her multicolored pens and counted the ceiling tiles three times. And this was her fourth round. “Seventy-two, seventy-three…” she continued, head leaning against the leather seat.

Even as she counted, her mind wandered to Clement and his family. He had one more year before graduating. She wondered if he’d had enough time to study. Did Abe and Bart help him prepare for his finals? Did they help Darah too? Was Eleazar off for the rest of the semester? Were they eating well? Did Clement have the proper diet to prepare for finals?

A knock sounded on the door and dispelled her thoughts. Phoebe looked down at her aide. “Hmm?”

“You have a visitor,” the young girl answered. “He said it’s urgent.”

Phoebe nodded, grateful for the distraction. “Please send him in.” She started to stand when a man stepped around her aide. She dropped onto her seat, gaping at Abe.

“Hey Phoebe.”

Alarm shot through her, realizing he was standing in her doorway and her aide had mentioned it was urgent. She stood quickly, heart in her throat. “What’s wrong? I-Is it the children? Junior?”

Shaking his head, Abe gave her a gentle smile, his dark eyes warming her all over.

Knees weak under her, she lowered onto her chair. As an afterthought, she gestured wordlessly to the chair opposite hers.

Abe nodded, pulled the chair back and sat down. The aide quietly closed the door behind them and Phoebe felt the air leave the room.

Silence drew out as Abe took in her office, his expression calm yet revealing none of his intentions for being here.

Phoebe swallowed hard as she took him in. He’d cut his hair, the curls lying close to his scalp. Her fingers itched to touch them and she curled them into her palms. She had no right to him. Tamping a sigh, she looked back at his face. “Is there a reason for your visit, Mr. Teka?”

His gaze jerked to hers, his thick brows arched at her formal address. “We’re back on last name basis now?”

She shrugged a shoulder and looked down. “It’s better that way…”

“Better for who?”

Phoebe didn’t dare look up. “For everyone… I almost got you guys separated for good. I acted recklessly. I should’ve stayed away.”

His silence was the last nail on the coffin of her dreams to be with him, to be with his family. Tears rushed to the surface and she willed them back, telling herself not to cry.

“You should’ve told me about your former job,” he finally said in a calm voice. “Although I should’ve been suspicious since you knew quite a bit about the process. Like you’d done it before.”

Phoebe sniffed, risking a glance at him. “I didn’t set out to be dishonest. It just never crossed my mind that my uncle would be the one conducting the visit.”

Abe just stared, his expression still calm and unreadable. “I know.”

She nodded and looked away again. “Okay.”

“That’s not why I’m here though, to scold you about what you did and didn’t do.”

“Then why are you here?” She wished he hadn’t come, his presence reminding her of what she wouldn’t have. “Clement doesn’t attend counseling anymore so you can find himself somewhere else.”

“I’ll see him at home.”

Phoebe nodded. “Okay.”

“Look at me, Phoebe.”

She closed her eyes. “No.”

“No?”

“I don’t want to.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s hard,” she hiccuped, tears flowing free. “Because if I do, I won’t want to forget all of you.”

“Then don’t.”

She frowned, looking at him now. “What?”

Abe smiled now and she blinked at the sight of it. “Don’t forget us. Don’t stay away.” He stood to his feet and moved around the desk to her. “Phoebe, I miss you. We miss you.”

Phoebe blinked twice, sure she was dreaming. Then he took her hand and she blinked again.

He tugged her hand, willing her to stand with him. When she did, he reached for her other hand. “I admit I was scared.”

She frowned. “Scared?”

Abe smiled patiently. “Of you.”

Her eyes widened. “Me? Why?”

“I was in a serious relationship in Chicago, one that came to an end because she got bored. Or whatever.” He shrugged. “The thing is I didn’t have time to really think about it since I’d just found out about my parents.”

Phoebe bit her bottom lip. “I’m sorry…”

He shook his head, eyes sweeping over her face. “She was a nice person, really kind and sweet.”

Phoebe couldn’t help a pout.

“No need to do that. She’s probably planning her wedding right now.”

Phoebe scowled. “How horrible.”

“No.” He laughed. “It was the best decision for both of us. I wouldn’t have been able to step away from Chicago and come home. She would’ve hated Houston.”

Her lips twitched wryly. “Not many can handle Houston.”

“Indeed.” His thumbs brushed the back of her hands. “Most importantly, I wouldn’t have met you.”

A warm shiver trickled down her spine, her cheeks aflame.

“I’m almost thirty and I’ve already got a family I’m responsible for. I admit the thought of adding another person to it terrified me.”

Smile wane, Phoebe gently squeezed his hands. “You’re good for them, Abe.”

He smiled. “See? There you go comforting me, assuring me I can do it.”

“You can and you will.”

His smile turned wry. “There you go again.”

Phoebe ducked her head, feeling shy.

He sighed. “I hesitated bringing baggage into a relationship. Didn’t want to freak you out.”

She looked up. “Your siblings are not baggage, Abraham.”

“I know.” Abe regarded her warmly. “That’s why you’re special.”

Phoebe smiled back. “You’re special too. I admire your courage and your love for your family. I have no doubt you all will thrive together. You must know I pray for you guys every day.”

“Thank you.” His gaze turned imploring. “But how about you pray with us from now on.”

Phoebe gaped at him, unsure she heard correctly. “Pardon me?”

“And then she said yes!” Darah gushed into the phone on her conversation with Geraldine. “Even if it’s just to them dating again, I can’t wait for them to get married.”

Amused, Bart watched Darah bounce on the sofa as she recanted Abe’s wooing of Phoebe, though his smile waned at the thought of Geraldine’s reaction to the news. No doubt her shoulders were slumped, her expression grieved at the news of Abe and Phoebe getting back together.

He ignored the pang of annoyance that prickled his gut, deciding it was none of his business who Geraldine liked.

“So when are you coming home, Geri? I miss you.”

He sat alert, ears perked as though he could hear Geraldine’s muted reply.

Darah’s bouncing stopped. “You’re not?”

Bart frowned.

“Oh.” Darah sighed. “I understand… Family comes first.”

He listened as Darah mumbled her goodbye, and feigned nonchalance when she replaced the phone on its cradle. “What’s going on?”

Darah turned a scowl to him. “Great going, Bart.”

He blinked, still unaccustomed to her mood swings. “What’d I do now?”

“You’re always in trouble,” Clement muttered from across the room, frowning over his study books.

Bart clicked his tongue in annoyance and turned to Darah’s stormy expression.

“If you’d stopped being mean to Geri, maybe she’d come back.”

Her accusation stung more than he’d have liked to admit. Bart scowled in return. “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s just a family vacation. Of course she’s coming back.”

“She said she’s not.” Darah put her hands to her hips. “And it’s all your fault! Good going, Bart!”

Mouth agape, Bart watched Darah stomp upstairs and slam the door, undoubtedly locking it behind her.

Flipping a page of his book, Clement shook his head. “Women.”

Bart’s frown darkened and he leaned back into the sofa, disconcerted over Darah’s words. She’s not coming back?

.

.

Please stay tuned for the next installment of the ‘Heart of a Home’ Series, ‘Homecoming’.

<<Chapter 15 || Series Page>>

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