Posts tagged “Revelation

Lighthouse, Chapter 26

Posted on 01/09/2016

Hana remained mum as she led the way, refusing to give J.R. a clue on why his father summoned him. Anxious about his father’s condition, he had no choice but to follow. Then she came to stop in front of the room and gestured for him to go ahead. Unlike before, her face was now expressionless, her lips pursed and gaze blank as she waited for him to enter the room.

J.R. grabbed the handle and pushed open the door. The four, including his father looked his way as he entered. He quietly assessed his father’s visitors; Mrs. Ganesh, Mr. Peters and his father’s former secretary Mrs. Adebo. Then frowned. “What’s going on?”

“Close the door and come here,” L.J. answered, closing the portfolio and placing it back on the hospital tray propped on his bed.

Hesitating at his father’s firm tone, J.R. slowly closed the door and made his way over to the bed. He nodded a silent greeting at the three who watched him and then faced his father. “You asked for me?”

“That I did.” L.J. folded his arms across his chest and regarded his son in silence.

J.R. frowned at the weight of their stares on him. “What’s going on?”

“We were discussing your venture and my will.”

His stomach tightened and J.R. swallowed the hardened lump in his throat. “My venture?”

L.J.’s lips twitched wryly, noting that his son chose to ignore the part about his will. “Yes, your venture with the center. Earl and Preethi are in agreement that it’s needed in our community.”

J.R. snuck a glance at the two elders who had readily rescinded their support of him. He didn’t know why they’d change their minds now but didn’t articulate his skepticism. Instead he returned his attention to his father. “And what do you think?”

The smile on L.J.’s face widened. “I have to agree with them.”

The knot in his gut loosened, but his shoulders remained tense. Something was fishy about this gathering, and the portfolio on the table. “Okay…”

“It won’t be easy,” L.J. continued, his smile waning. “Our people are not the easiest to reach, and some will take advantage of you.”

“I’ve planned for it.” He pictured the contingency procedures he’d drafted in his laptop computer.

Mrs. Ganesh snorted derisively. “You can’t plan for rain, beta. It comes when it wills.”

J.R. fixed his stare on his father. “What is your decision? Do I have your support?”

L.J. stared right back. “If I don’t give it, will you still go ahead with your plans?”

“I will.”

Mr. Peters chortled. “Gutsy, this one.”

L.J.’s smile was faint but there was warmth in his eyes. Pride lit up his face. “That he is.” Then he nodded and looked down at the portfolio, opening it to the only printed page.

“What is this?” J.R. asked, peering down at the signatures already printed on it.

L.J. peered up at Mrs. Adebo and gestured for her to speak.

“On behalf of Obed and Associates,” she said in her most-official voice. “Esquire Lalana-Joel Obed graciously awards the Obed Immigration Center a grant amounting to 1.5 million dollars after taxes.”

J.R.’s mouth dropped open and he gaped at his father.

“Congratulations, beta,” Mrs. Ganesh said, hands clasped together.

“That should be enough money to cover the rest of construction and the permits you need,” L.J. answered, nudging the portfolio to his son.

“More than enough!” Mr. Peters exclaimed, clapping excitedly. “You’re one lucky man, son.”

J.R. stared at the print, at the signatures of his father and law associates agreeing to support his venture. His heart thudded violently in his chest as he skimmed over the words written there, at his father’s spidery signature marking his complete and generous support. It seemed like a dream.

“It just needs your signature,” Mrs. Adebo instructed, holding out a pen.

When J.R. looked up at his father, L.J. smiled warmly. “Go ahead, son.”

And when he still hesitated to take the pen, Mrs. Adebo frowned. “Is there a problem?”

J.R. sniffed back tears. “Just one.”

All brows furrowed. “What is it, son?” L.J. asked, confusion etched in his face.

“It’s not the Obed Immigration Center…” J.R.’s lips trembled, tears pooling and blurring his vision. “It’s the Lalana Hope Center.”

Mrs. Ganesh gasped. “Oh my…”

Mr. Peters dropped a hand over L.J.’s shoulder who looked as though he’d been hit by a freight train.

“We’ll step out for a bit,” Mrs. Adebo spoke in the stunned silence and the other two followed her out of the room, leaving the two Obed men alone.

“Since when?” L.J. eked out. His eyes now glistened with tears forming.

J.R. shrugged. “I hadn’t really given it a name yet, but I knew I’d want to make it in honor of what you and Mom sacrificed to come here. You gave up everything, all that you knew back home, so that you could take care of Mom and me. There are many other families with similar stories living in this foreign country, and I wanted them to know that they weren’t alone. To tell them your story; that my dad understood their plight. I want them to find hope in your journey, your success.”

L.J. lost it. A garbled moan escaped his throat and he bent his head as he came undone. J.R. hastened to his side and gathered his father in an embrace. Then they wept together for times lost, and for the future that was most uncertain.

Once the sobs subsided, the two men remained in each other’s arms, L.J.’s head propped against his son’s shoulder. J.R. marveled at how small his father seemed, how fragile. His heart ached at the thought of losing him to this disease, to be without him.

“I’m sorry,” L.J. croaked softly. “I’m so sorry, my dearest Raju.”

J.R. tightened his hold around him. “I’m sorry too… We wasted so much time.”

L.J. sniffed. “I should’ve let you be who you wanted to be, trusted in your dreams and ambition.”

“I didn’t believe in myself, I was too uncertain.”

L.J. sighed. “That was my fault too. I planned everything about your life, you had no choice but to feel unsure of yourself. I should’ve let you grow on your own.”

“It’s fine now,” J.R. reassured his father, not wanting to dwell in regrets. “We’re fine.”

“Son… I promise to support whatever you decide.”

“I know, Babuji, thank you.” He squeezed L.J.’s shoulder to assure him.

“I’m sorry about pushing Hana on you. My guilt about her father made me blind to what you wanted.”

“It’s okay,” J.R. muttered, loosening his hold when L.J. squirmed. “Babuji, there’s something I need to say about that.”

“I heard already.” L.J. peered up at him, sadness in his eyes. “Your girl is pregnant.”

He frowned, figuring Hana beat him to it. Deciding to deal with her later, he sighed. “It wasn’t planned and the situation isn’t ideal, but I love her. And I want to marry her.”

L.J. nodded. “Okay.”

J.R. paused, having not expected that response one bit. “Okay? What, no protest?”

His father’s smile was wry. “I knew you didn’t understand when I said I’ll support whatever you decide. I meant it, Raju. If you want to marry her, marry her.” His gaze warmed J.R.’s face. “As a grown man, you make decisions about your future. Just like the immigration center, trials and tribulations might make you question if you made the right one, but you must work through and live with the choices you made.”

L.J. chuckled softly at the stunned look on his son’s face. “I know it’s hard to believe, but I too wondered if I’d made the right decision stealing your mother’s heart and running away to America the way I did. At times I felt like a selfish coward, but there was no turning back. We were raising a child and trying to make a life in a foreign land. I knew I had to make a better life for my family, no matter what.” L.J. squeezed his son’s hand. “I trust that same stubborn gene is in you to see things through no matter how hard it’ll get. And I trust you’ll do far better than I ever did. So marry the woman you love, Raju, and build a life for you and your family. I will support and honor your decisions.”

All J.R. could do was drop his head against his father’s shoulder, and let L.J. wrap his arms around him. The emotions were raw as J.R. wept again in his father’s embrace; relief, gratitude, regret and joy all mixed up. He wrapped his arms around L.J.’s skinny shoulders and wished his father would live long enough to see him live out his legacy.  He just had to make it work, in honor of the father that sacrificed it all for him.

Darah glared at Jeremy sitting across the room, she refused to let him take the stool by her bed. It was a wonder that her brothers even allowed him inside the room, them standing just outside ready to pounce in the sign of trouble. “What did you say to him?”

Jeremy frowned. “To who? The guy who claims to be your fiancé?”

“He is my fiancé,” Darah answered curtly. “What did you say to him?”

“That was quick.” Jeremy arched a brow. “You certainly didn’t waste time getting over me.”

Darah didn’t bite the bait; much too mature for goading. “What did you say to him?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t get to say anything. Someone came to get him, something about his dad.”

Her eyes widened in alarm. “What else did they say?”

Jeremy arched a brow. “Like I care. Wanna tell me what’s going on here? Tess said you had to tell me something.”

Darah scowled. “Of course she did.” She would’ve preferred he leave so she could ask about J.R., but from the way he sat with his arms folded and gaze expectant, he had no intentions of leaving soon.

“Is the baby mine?”

Her eyes flitted to his face, noted the deep furrow in his brow. She sighed. “Yes.” Unfortunately.

His eyes widened and he gaped at her. “And you weren’t gonna tell me?”

“As far as I was concerned, we were done.” She shrugged. “Didn’t see any reason to tell you—that was my bad,” she barreled on when he started to speak. “Regardless of how I feel about the situation, we made a child together.”

Jeremy looked like he swallowed a golf ball and Darah sighed, dragging a hand over her hair. “Look, I’m not asking you to take responsibility. That’s why I didn’t tell you, I’d prefer you don’t.”

“Why, because you’re getting married?” Jeremy croaked out, disbelief and something indecipherable in his face. “Do you really think I’m that bad to suggest I wouldn’t want to?”

Darah frowned. “You want to?”

He looked away, features tense. “… I don’t know what I want.”

She nodded, understanding his conflicted feelings. “Take your time.”

“Don’t patronize me.”

“I’m not—”

“And that guy doesn’t care that you’re carrying someone else’s baby?” Jeremy shifted to face her, brows furrowed in confusion. “He’s not mad about it?”

She bit the inside of her cheek. “I’m sure he’s disappointed, I am too. I had loved him for most of my teenage life and beyond, and yet in my moments of weakness, I settled. No offense.”

“None… taken,” Jeremy muttered begrudgingly.

Darah sighed. “I still love him and it’s a wonder he wants me regardless of the fact that I’ll be a single mother.”

“But does he want the responsibility of raising another man’s child? Because if he doesn’t…”

“What you’ll ask for custody?” At the shocked look on his face, Darah couldn’t help but laugh. “Look Jeremy, it’s fine. We don’t have to discuss this now. It’s new to you, you’ll need time to think about it. It’s a messy situation, and we’ll be dealing with two families… so take your time. I mean that, no pressure.”

His expression turned skeptical. “You’ve… changed somehow.”

Darah’s lips twitched a smile. “No Jeremy, I’ve just grown up a bit.”

“Maybe…” Jeremy stood slowly, his eyes drifting to her stomach, then back at her face. “I’ll call you.”

“Let’s plan for the four of us to talk when you’re ready. I’d want both J.R. and Tess to be there.”

He nodded haltingly and edged toward the door. “Hope you feel better soon.”

“Thanks. Goodbye, Jeremy.”

When Jeremy opened the door, J.R. was standing in the doorway. Darah held back a laugh when Jeremy edged around J.R. and her scowling brothers to leave the room. She flashed them a grin and waved for J.R. to enter. “How’d it go?” she asked as he settled in the seat beside her. Immediately she noted his reddened eyes and sat up in alarm. “Is he okay? What happened? What did they say?”

J.R. pulled her into a hug and rested his cheek against her ruffled mane. “He’s fine.”

Unconvinced by the sound of his voice, she leaned back and looked up at him. “Then why were you crying? You almost never cry.”

He gave her a gentle smile, gaze warm as he searched her face. “You told me I could.”

“Yeah but…” she paused when he embraced her tightly. Then she sighed and rubbed his back. “You okay?”

“Better than okay.” He planted a kiss on her forehead and then loosened his hold. “My dad wants to see you. When you’re ready, of course.”

Anxiety rolled in her stomach as she looked up at him, unable to reconcile the gentle smile on his face with the dreadful announcement of his father summoning her. “He does? Why?”

“He wants to meet his daughter-in-law, of course.” J.R. laughed at the shocked look on her face and stole a kiss. “We must not keep him waiting long though. He gets cranky when he’s impatient.”

“Are you serious? Seriously?” Darah smacked his arm when he kept laughing. “J.R.!”

The door opened, the whole family curiously peeking in when her protests grew louder. “You guys okay?” Phoebe said bemused, stepping in with Darah’s brothers and Geraldine who recently arrived.

“Better than okay,” J.R. said amid laughter and enveloped a grumpy Darah in his arms.

<<Chapter 25 || Chapter 27 (Final)

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Lighthouse, Chapter 25

Posted on 31/08/2016

A wave of panic threatened to wash over him as he sat silently in the wake of her words. His eyes swept over her face, trying to read her like he easily could before now. But there was a veil of detachment over her face; and as he reached out to touch her, she leaned away.

A knot formed between her brows. “I’m being serious, J.R.”

His gaze remained fixed on her. “I hear you.”

Her frown deepened. “So leave.”

“I won’t be doing that.” As he said the words, J.R. resolved in his heart to stay with Darah no matter what troubles arose—and there were plenty to tackle, just not now. He had to get her to trust him first.

Darah snatched her hand from his hold, tucking it under her other arm. Then she shifted her gaze to the wall, her silence dismissing him.

J.R. stared at her for a brief moment, wondering what went wrong. She’d been so excited, the love for him shining in her eyes a week ago. Now she was cold, detached, and unresponsive. He tamped a sigh. “Explain to me first, then I’ll give you my response.”

“Your response doesn’t matter,” she said curtly. “I want you to leave.”

“And I said I won’t. Not until you tell me what’s wrong.”

Darah clenched and unclenched her teeth, and he noticed her fingers tightening to a fist as though holding herself from telling him what was wrong.

“Is this about the baby?” he inquired gently, hesitantly.

She tensed and pursed her lips, staying quiet.

J.R. shifted closer and she edged away, pressing her back into the pillow. He refrained from reaching out for her hand, knowing she would only get agitated. He couldn’t afford to lose her, not now. “Darah… I’m not going anywhere. We’re in this together.”

When she didn’t say a word, J.R. had to push back the anxiety looming over him. The fear of losing Darah was worse than the fear of her initial rejection and push-back. He would try harder, get her to see he was committed to her. “Sweetheart, listen…”

She sniffled and he paused, staring at her. A lone tear slid down her face and J.R. scooted from the chair to perch on the bed beside her. She stuck an elbow, nudging his side. “Leave me alone…” she whined, losing control of her tears and her will to keep him away.

J.R.’s heart beat hard and fast as Darah pressed her forehead against his chest. She didn’t weep openly but sniffled and hiccuped through the silent tears. He nestled his face in her hair and closed his eyes, holding her tight. “It’s okay…” His fingers tightened on her shoulders. “We’re okay.”

As Darah whimpered quietly, J.R. knew he could never let her go. She was the beat of his heart, the rhythm to his rhyme—and as cheesy as he knew it sounded, J.R. now understood why the strongest of men surrendered to love.

Though she was perplexing and infuriating, she equally intrigued and thrilled him. Once his heart accepted his feelings for her, J.R. admitted her presence demanded purpose in his. She challenged his existence and relevance, making him know shame in settling for less and not questioning the questionable; constantly pushing him, daring him to dream beyond what he could imagine. In other words, she scared him and rocked his world off-kilter. He was like a fish out of water whenever she opened her mouth or spared him a glance—a force to be reckoned with, even at the age of 15.

Maybe that was why he ran away, why he hid the letter she’d written, and labeled her confession and intentions as childish and naïve whims. He’d been the fool, but not anymore. “Sweetheart…”

Darah sniffed against his chest, one hand splayed near his heart. There was no way she couldn’t feel the erratic beating against her palm.

“Sweetheart…” he began again.

“Why are you calling me that?”

J.R. pressed a kiss to her temple. “Because…” He peered down, his heartbeat jumping at her illuminous gaze on him. God, she even looked appealing with tears in her eyes. Though tempted to steal a kiss, he refrained himself. He’d waited ten years and could wait ten more minutes until she realized his intentions. Cupping her face, his thumb caressed the soft skin of her cheek. “I was a fool a little too long to see you.”

Darah lowered her gaze and sighed. “J.R., please don’t…”

“No listen.” He wished she’d look up again, but had a feeling he’d get too tongue-tied. So he continued, hoping she would grant his wish. “I meant what I said earlier. We’re in this together. I have no intentions of letting you go. Not now, not ever.”

She sniffled. “What about your dad? And Hana?”

He frowned, deciding to address the obvious first. “I’m not marrying Hana, Darah.”

“Okay, but your dad really likes her.”

J.R. barely stopped himself from snorting. “And he’ll like you better since you’re the one I’ve chosen.”

Darah shuddered, recalling L.J.’s words. “He’ll be unhappy about the baby. Besides, after what just happened, I I don’t have time to focus on anything other than keeping this baby alive.. and safe.”

“Of course, that we can do together.” J.R. knew he couldn’t hesitate or she would protest. “When I said I loved you, I meant every part of you, including this child.”

“It’s not that easy…” She trembled against him, unable to accept his promises.

He ignored her mumbling, deciding to press a little. “Why you didn’t pick up my calls?”

Darah stiffened and though her silence broke his heart, J.R. smoothed the curls around her temple. “Did you think I wouldn’t want the baby? Because that’s not true. I want this baby as much as I want you.”

“You don’t know what you’re saying…” Darah peered up at him then, eyes swimming in tears. “When your father finds out or when the child’s grown up and looking for his biological father, won’t you resent me for making you stay with me?”

Though he’d predicted her train of thought, hearing it from her mouth pierced him to his core. He tightened his hold around her. “Resent you? Never.”

She narrowed her eyes, disbelieving. “It’s easier said than done, J.R. Not every man can raise another person’s child.”

“But he won’t be another person’s child, Darah. He’d be yours… and ours. We’ll raise him or her the best way we’ll know how, with love and care. I’ll protect and care for you both all the rest of my life.”

Giving her a faint smile, J.R. brushed a thumb over the stray tear that slid down her cheek. Emboldened, he leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. Then he raised his head and watched her lashes flutter slowly, her eyes opening once more.

“Forgive my foolishness and my selfishness.” His thumb lowered, grazing the curve of her bottom lip. “I shouldn’t have waited this long to tell you how I feel, what I want.”

“What do you want…?”

“You.” His lips twitched a smile when her eyes widened. He tapped her bottom lip. “Heart, soul, mind and body… and the baby you’re carrying, are what I want. The rest we’ll figure out together.”

His fingers traced a line along her jaw and down the slender column of her neck, feeling the rapid pace of her pulse. Her light complexion betrayed a tinge of dusky-rose on her cheeks. He held back a smile and rested his hand lightly at the back of her neck. “I have a question though. Will you answer honestly?”

“What is it?” She could barely keep her eyes on him, the blush giving her away.

“Why is Lighthouse my caller ID on your phone?”

Darah’s eyes widened. “W-what?”

He didn’t dare blink, wanting to read every emotion plain as day on her face. He loved watching her, could imagine doing it for the rest of their lives together. “Lighthouse… what does it mean?”

She bit the bottom of her lip, hesitating to answer. Then she frowned. “Wait, how did you know that?”

J.R. arched a brow. “Answer me first and then I’ll explain.”

Darah wrinkled her nose and lowered her gaze. Her fingers found the zipper of his jacket, fiddling with it. “It’s embarrassing, cheesy actually…”

“Let me hear it first.”

She exhaled a breath and mumbled something under her breath. He leaned down. “Say it again.”

Darah whined a little before replying. “You’re like a lighthouse to me, that’s why.”

“A lighthouse?” He frowned. “I don’t understand.”

“Sometimes I feel like a ship wandering out to sea, with no sense of direction… Everyone thinks I’m flighty but you don’t see me that way, or at least you never articulate it like the guys do.” She sighed. “Like when I didn’t know what to study and my brothers gave me a hard time being indecisive about my future, you just had that silent but understanding way about you. You never judged me or made me feel like a kid—well, except when you rejected my confession.”

Darah snuck a peek at him and immediately dropped her gaze. She continued fiddling with the zipper of his jacket. “I guess I’ve just always felt safe with you in a way I don’t understand. Like I can find my way, like I’d never get lost with you.”

When he still hadn’t responded, Darah huffed a sigh. “Anyway, I was reading this book about lighthouses and you came to mind. And I didn’t want the guys teasing me for crushing on you, so I just put the name instead of your real name so—”

Suddenly, J.R. tilted her chin and kissed her; this time more passionate and intentional than the others. Darah gasped against his mouth, her fingers tightening around his shirt. The emotions wrought between them was poured into this kiss as they clung to each other, unveiling feelings long since suppressed.

Then the door swung open and the two sprang apart, Darah shoving J.R. hard before scurrying under the bed blanket. Upended from the bed, his hip slammed against the bedside table and J.R. quickly grabbed the railing to keep from toppling over.

The mad scramble was witnessed by a wide-eyed Phoebe standing in the doorway, and three glowering brothers behind her. “Is that why you had us leave?” Bart groused. “So you could make out?”

Darah kept the blanket over her head, knowing her brothers would see the heat in her cheeks.

J.R. straightened himself and glared at his friends. “Y’know you could’ve knocked first,” he said, grumpy about more than his sore hip.

The brothers scoffed incredulously. “Unbelievable,” Bart muttered.

“This guy…” Clement fought a smirk.

Phoebe giggled as she circled the bed to pluck the sheet over Darah’s face. “There’s no need to hide, you’re both adults.”

Darah peeked at Abe from behind the bed blanket. “So I don’t have to wait until I’m thirty then?”

“Wait for what?”

She frowned. “That nonsensical rule you and Bart made up on your own about my love life.”

Noncommittal, Abe and Bart shrugged. Darah rolled her eyes. “Never mind.”

Then Bart grinned in J.R.’s direction. “We did say she could marry earlier if she chose you, didn’t we?”

J.R. smirked. “That is correct.”

Darah snorted. “And you waited this long, knowing you’d gotten their permission. Really J.R., really?”

He graced her a honeyed smile. “I thought you’d already forgiven me for that, sweetheart.”

Sweetheart?” Bart and Clement echoed in disbelief. Abe chuckled, his stern façade forgotten.

“Love can change a person, fellas…” Phoebe pinned Clement with a stare. “Take note, Junior.”

Clement held up both hands. “Now wait a minute, leave me out of this.”

Abe put a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Knowing her, you’d be next in line.”

“Nuh-unh, I’m not getting married.”

Phoebe choked on a laugh and eyed Darah and J.R. gazing adoringly at each other. She shook her head incredulously and cleared her throat. “So when can we plan the wedding?”

The three brothers groaned at once and Darah blinked at her sister-in-law. “Uh…”

“As soon as I talk with my father,” J.R. answered without missing a beat.

“Ooohhh!” the brothers said in unison, Darah’s eyes wide in surprise. J.R. winked and grinned at her. He was wasting no more of their time.

Someone cleared their throat amidst their ruckus, and Phoebe waved them to pipe down. Her brow furrowed. “May we help you?”

All attention turned to the man standing in the doorway, and their faces darkened. Darah sat up in her bed, frowning. “Jeremy?”

“I knew he looked familiar,” Bart muttered, starting for the door. “I thought we told you to stay away—”

J.R. stepped into Bart’s path. “I’ll take care of it.”

The brothers nodded, though glaring at Jeremy who held up both hands and edged backwards. “Please, I need to talk to Darah.”

“You’ll talk with me first.” J.R. gestured for the man to follow and without a glance back at Darah, led the way down the hall.

Jeremy flinched as J.R. suddenly came to a stop and turned to face him. He held up his hands once more. “Look, I don’t mean any harm.”

“What do you need to see Darah for?”

“It’s a private matter,” the younger man said, eyes shifty. “One between me and her.”

“Considering I’m the man she’ll marry, that matter concerns me. So talk.”

Dumbfounded, Jeremy stared at him. Impatient to return to Darah, J.R. started to speak.

Bhaiyaa, there you are!”

J.R. turned at the sound of Hana’s voice. Noting the aggrieved look on her face, his confrontation with Jeremy was momentarily forgotten. He hurried to her. “What is it?”

“Your dad, he’s looking for you.” Her melancholic gaze stirred anxiety within J.R. “Please come now.”

<<Chapter 24 || Chapter 26>>

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