Posts tagged “secretsout

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 49

Posted on 04/06/2015


Samina ignored Topher and Ezekiel for the rest of the camping trip; not an easy feat with hyper girls and unrepentant, meddling mothers underfoot. Thankfully, neither her family nor Ezekiel’s noticed the awkward shift and everyone parted ways, ending the holiday with most of them still smiling.

She couldn’t wait start work again. She’d do anything at work; even scrape gum off the sidewalk, if it would distract her from thinking about Ezekiel’s increasingly agitated texts and Topher’s pointed silence.

Pushing out a breath, Samina hurried up the stairs to the front door of the downtown office.

“Welcome back!” the secretary greeted Samina warmly once she entered the front lobby.  “Hope you had a great vacation?”

I need a vacation from the so-called vacation. Samina walked up to the desk, greeting the younger woman with a smile. “All is well, Kyra. I heard there’s a lot to catch up on.” Despite the unorganized chaos of the organization, Samina still felt good to have some sort of purpose.

Kyra smirked. “Ain’t nothing you can’t handle.” Her eyes glinted with confidence. “Oh, by the way, there’s a new girl and she’s been assigned to you.”

Samina raised both brows. “Me? But I just barely came on board.” She was still getting used to her increasing responsibilities as Activity and Outreach chair. Stack of dusty files and a growing list of phone contacts awaited her attention at the back cubicle next to the men’s bathroom door.

Kyra kicked a shoulder. “That’s how it is around here, best get used to it. Here” She extended a folder to Samina. “You better read this before you meet her. I hear she’s quite a handful.”

Collecting the folder, Samina managed a smile. “Thanks for the heads up.”

“See you at lunch,” Kyra called out as Samina trudged to the double doors.

With a distracted wave, Samina tucked the folder under her arm and made her way down the hallway, greeting her coworkers on the way to her cubicle. Stale air masked with a very flowery scent assailed her nostrils as she sat down at her desk.

Just then, an older man strolled out of the bathroom, the sound of flushing interrupting the silence. He gave her a chagrined smile which she returned before averting her eyes. She certainly didn’t miss this aspect of her new job.

Wrinkling her nose, Samina shifted her chair as far as she could from the door and dragged the folder to an empty spot on her desk. Her eyes skimmed over the details on the page.

Talitha Resendez. Age 18. Resident of Juvenile Justice Center in downtown Houston.

Samina leaned back into the seat, quickly reading the brief biography of the troubled youth. By the closing sentence, a teary-eyed Samina considered the girl who would be her charge for the remainder of the summer.

By lunchtime, she’d regained composure and was ready to greet Talitha who was set to arrive with her probation officer in less than five minutes.

Her phone dinged just as she stood to walk to the front lobby. With a sigh, Samina lifted the phone to see a text from Topher. Her heart skipped several beats as she opened the message to read.

Your dad came by to see Nadine. All is well. SWOY.

“What in the world is SWOY?” She frowned, deflated as she scrolled down the message and found nothing else. Slightly annoyed, Samina turned the phone upside down and stepped out of her cubicle before her five-minute mark was up.

A petite, round-faced brunette sat with her arms folded and a scowl marring her features. A hard-faced man with mottled skin stood at the counter, addressing Kyra.

“She’ll be out—” Kyra paused as the man looked up once Samina stepped into the lobby.

All eyes turned to her, the brooding teenager assessing her openly. Samina offered all a smile as she stepped forward with a hand extended at the probation officer. “Good afternoon. I’m Samina Wells.”

The man’s face barely changed and Samina’s smile waned a little. He took her hand and shook it firmly before letting go. Then he gestured to the teenager who took her time to stand, as if this was her last act of defiance.

Kyra and Samina exchanged glances before turning back to the odd pair.

The man placed a hand over Talitha’s shoulder and the girl’s small face tightened as his was. “This is Talitha Resendez. She’ll be assigned to you for a few weeks before school resumes.”

Samina nodded and offered Talitha another smile, noting the girl’s uncanny hazel eyes and olive complexion. She would be a pretty girl if she didn’t scowl so much. “Nice to meet you, Talitha.”

Talitha eyed her suspiciously as she did with those who asserted too much authority or force in her life. The heavy hand on her shoulder didn’t help any, Samina noted quietly.

Glancing up at the probation officer, Samina spoke in soft tones. “How about we step into the conference room and discuss this more.” She turned to the girl, kind smile in place. “Talitha, would you like something to eat first before we begin?”

“She already had lunch,” the probation officer answered for her.

Samina didn’t take her eyes off Talitha and didn’t miss her eyes harden as if quietly protesting her superior’s words.

“Samina,” Kyra spoke up. “There’s some kolaches from the morning meeting. Grab some on your way.”

“Good idea.” Samina gave Kyra a smile and gestured forward. “Please, right this way. I’ll be with you in a minute.” She paused to watch the probation officer lead a quiet Talitha down the hallway and then tamped down a sigh.

“Good luck,” Kyra muttered as she walked past the desk to the kitchen.

Samina hurried down the hallway to the kitchen, not wanting to leave the girl with the stern-faced man for much longer. There was something very odd about the pair and for the first time, not a thought of Topher and Ezekiel crossed her mind.

Except Ezekiel wasn’t going to let her off easily.

Samina groaned aloud, spotting Ezekiel standing outside her house after she parked her car in the driveway. She stepped out, glaring at him. “I thought I made myself clear, Ezekiel. What are you doing here?” She slammed the door and walked around the front of the car.

He stepped into her path. “We need to talk.”

Pausing in step, Samina stared up at him, noting that his jaw was shadowed with a beard forming. Ezekiel never allowed hair on his face. She eyed the bags under his eyes and heaved a sigh. “I don’t know why you’re doing this but I’m not ready to talk.” She skirted around him and walked up the porch step, tugging out her keys.

Ezekiel snatched it from her.

Samina hissed under her breath and glared at him. She held out her hand. “Give me my keys.”

“Not until you talk to me.”

She rolled her eyes but nodded. Snatching the keys from his hand, she gave him her back as she opened the door. Strolling inside, Samina tossed her purse on the couch and kicked off her shoes. Unbinding her hair and shaking it free, she walked over to the thermostat and turned on the AC. “I would offer you something to drink but you’d think it’s an invitation to get comfortable.”

A choking laugh from him made Samina turn around. There was a bemused smile on Ezekiel’s face that made her squint at him. “What’s funny?”

His smile faded, a wrinkle appearing between his eyes. “Nothing at all. Do you know how many times I’ve picked up my phone to call you?”

She folded her arms across her chest. “Apart from the times you texted me? What happened to giving me space?”

“I never agreed to that and you know it.”

Samina clenched her jaw. “So because we were dating, you think you could dictate what I get to do now?”

He raised a brow. “What does that mean?”

“I’m not a mindless person who needs a man to tell her what to do.”

Ezekiel raised both brows. “Did I say that? I don’t remember saying anything close to that.”

“You didn’t have to. It’s clear you don’t take me seriously.”

He pursed his lips, eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What are you doing?”

Samina turned away, moving to the kitchen. She needed a drink. Jerking open the fridge door, she grabbed an unopened bottle of water and untwisted the cap.

“I want an explanation, Sam.”

“My name is Samina,” she snapped in annoyance. Turning to face him, she glared at the surprised look on his face. “I hate when you call me Sam.”

He frowned. “You’ve never mentioned it before.”

She took a swig of the water before answering. “Well, now you know.”

Perturbed, Ezekiel squinted at her. “What’s going on here?”

“Nothing.” Samina felt her face growing hotter, her heart beating faster. She hated confrontation, hence her need for space. Him being here, invading her space, demanding an explanation, only made it harder for her to make her decision. “I told you I needed time and you should’ve respected that.” She rounded the counter and walked past him.

He grabbed her shoulder and turned her to face him. Confusion and concern were etched on his handsome features. “Talk to me.”

Samina averted her gaze, swallowing hard. She hated that his expression was because of her confusion, her indecision.

“Is this about me proposing?”

Her heart flipped over. Samina clenched her jaw.

“Is that it? Are you not ready? Did I rush you?”

Samina bit her bottom lip, feeling the sting of tears at the back of her eyes.

His fingers pressed the soft part of her shoulder. “Sam—I mean, Samina… look at me.” When she managed to look at him, his gaze was uncertain, anxious. “If I’m rushing you, you can tell me. I’ll fall back, give you space. Is that what you want? Should we take things slow?”

A part of her wanted to scream no; that his proposal and his insistent pursuit of her was what she’d always wanted. Another part struggled to follow, feeling suffocated by his barrage of questions and seeking an escape.

The doorbell rang then and Ezekiel looked up, his brow furrowed. “Are you expecting someone?” His voice hardened with suspicion and Samina knew he assumed it was Topher.

Samina jerked from his hold and moved quickly toward the door. Her eyes widened and she quickly turned to Ezekiel. “Hide! Now!” she whispered fiercely, heart racing.

He scowled darkly. “I’m not going anywhere—“

“It’s my mom.”

Ezekiel moved swiftly down the narrow hallway, toward her bedroom.

Waiting until he’d taken refuge in her room, Samina drew in a measured breath before opening the front door with a smile. “Mom, what’s going on?”

Deidre eyed her warily but pushed her way inside. “We need to talk.”

Samina stifled a groan and tossed a ‘help me’ look to the ceiling before closing the door. She glanced once at the bedroom door before turning to see her mother nudge the discarded shoes with her foot. “Is everything alright?”

“I’ve been thinking about what you told us.” Deidre plopped on the sofa and gestured her over. “Come sit.”

With a fleeting glance at the closed door, Samina trudged to the sofa. “What do you mean?” she perched on the side, eying her mother carefully. Had her father mentioned something about Karen’s outburst? Was her mother here to give her own version of a lecture? “Mom, what’s this about?”

“Hush.” Deidre reached for her hand, cupping it between hers. “What are the updates on your procedure?”

Samina inhaled sharply.

“I couldn’t sleep, not knowing what is going on with your health.” Her brow furrowed. “Did your doctor mention anything after the surgery?”

Biting her bottom lip, Samina hesitated. The walls were thin and this certainly wasn’t the way she wanted Ezekiel to find out.


Breathing a sigh of resignation, Samina closed her eyes and told Deidre everything. From the discovery of the tumor, the fear of telling everyone, the procedure itself, and the treatment plan she would have to follow until her hormones were back in order.

Deidre wiped her eyes and sniffed. “My poor baby.” She pulled Samina into a hug and rubbed her back. “I can’t believe you went through all of this on your own.”

Samina swallowed hard. “I’m okay, Mom.”

“Yes, my darling girl.” Deidre kissed her ear before pulling back. Her gaze roved Samina’s face, a feeble smile lifting her lips. “My brave girl.” She cupped Samina’s cheek, rubbing her skin with the pad of her thumb. “Your father and I are praying this through. You will be okay. I love you.”

Samina allowed her mother another embrace and sighed. “I love you too.” This wasn’t how she wanted her mother’s affection, not out of pity or remorse.

When Deidre left a half-an-hour later, Samina pressed her head against the door and braced herself at the sound of his footfall behind her.

“You had surgery?” Ezekiel spoke evenly.

Samina drew in a measured breath before she turned around. His expression was furious and stormy. Now Ezekiel was another person angry that she’d kept it a secret. She fought a tremble and began to explain. “Zeke…”

“Just answer the question, Samina. Did you have surgery?”

But before she could respond, Ezekiel shook his head. “Alright. We’ll talk later.” He stomped angrily toward the door.

Samina barred his way and frowned up at him. “What—”

“You wanted space, you got it.” His blazing eyes focused on the door, not her. “Move.”

Bristling inwardly at his slight, Samina watched him jerk the door open and stomp past her to the driveway. She moved to the porch, calling after him. “I thought you wanted to talk!”

The car door slammed in response, the revving engine deafening her protests.

Flabbergasted, Samina watched his car reverse out the driveway onto the street. Something in her gut told her Ezekiel would probably be the one ignoring her calls this time around. With a sigh, Samina re-entered her house, telling herself she only had herself to blame if neither Ezekiel nor Topher would call her for a while.

<<Chapter 48 || Chapter 50>>

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>>

%d bloggers like this: