Posts tagged “sister-in-law

Homecoming, Chapter 20

Posted on 24/02/2016

Phoebe gave Geraldine a smile as the woman entered her bedroom. “It’s great having you here; like we’re one big family.”

Geraldine snorted, carrying a tray of food to the end table. “How are you feeling?”

“Not much better than yesterday, unfortunately…” Phoebe eyed the bowl. “What’s that?”

“It’s rice porridge with no seasoning.” Geraldine poured Phoebe a glass of water and extended it to her. “By the way, you should schedule an appointment–”

“I know the drill,” Phoebe cut in, taking a sip of the water. She lowered the cup to her lap and sighed. “I just don’t want to…”

Geraldine arched a brow. “Why not?”

“Too scared. Scared it’s another false alarm.”

Both women looked at each other, both aware of Phoebe’s struggles to hold a pregnancy. Even the night before, Abe seemed more worried than hopeful and the family wasn’t as joyous as a normal family would be with that type of news.

Geraldine reached over, placing a hand over Phoebe’s. “I can go with you, if you want.”

Skepticism was plain on Phoebe’s face. “You think I should go?”

“I do. What if your baby’s waiting to be acknowledged by you both? You’ll want to be ready for when he or she comes.”

Her optimism drew a tentative smile on Phoebe’s lips. “To be honest, I couldn’t sleep last night and I think neither could Abe. He kept sighing, thinking I was asleep… It’s weird, trying to pretend that we’ll be okay without kids of our own, but I know he wants one.”

“And you do too?”

Phoebe nodded emphatically. “Oh yes. In fact, the moment he asked me to marry him, I already imagined the five kids we’d have.”

Geraldine choked a shaky laugh, drawing her hand back. “Five?”

The woman grinned unabashedly. “Already had their names picked out…” Then her smile waned. “But three of those names were taken after…” Her gaze lowered.

Geraldine placed her hand back over Phoebe’s. “Don’t think about that.”

“How can I not?” Phoebe’s voice trembled. “We have three children in heaven, and I’m scared that this one too…”

“What name?” Geraldine spoke up. “When he or she is born, what will you call him or her?”

Phoebe’s eyes swam in tears. “I wanted to continue the naming scheme, so Isaac.”

Geraldine nudged her hand. “That’s a fitting name, don’t you think? Abraham had Isaac after a long time of waiting.”

“Oh.” Phoebe’s eyes widened. “Oh!” Then she threw her arms around her friend, not caring that she’d spilled the water onto her bed-covers.

Geraldine wrapped her arms around Phoebe and let her weep, saying nothing for the woman who’d called herself barren as Sarah had in the Bible. “We can go after you get ready.”

Phoebe nodded, holding onto Geraldine tight as she shed tears held in for so long. Once her sobs subsided, she drew back and gave her friend a wobbly smile. “I’ve made up my mind. You have to be my sister-in-law.”

Geraldine frowned and lowered her hands. “That’s flattering but I can’t accept.”

“Oh come on. If Bart bothers you, you can marry Junior.” She nudged Geraldine, half-joking.

“He doesn’t bother me…” Geraldine mumbled, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Well, not in the way you’re thinking.”

Phoebe sobered, peering down at Geraldine. “Then what is it? Why won’t you accept his heart?”

Geraldine shook her head. “It’s not because I don’t want to.”

“Then say yes, Geri. He wants you.”

A lone tear slipped down her cheek and she averted her face. “I can’t…”

The desperation in her tone disturbed Phoebe and made her seize Geraldine by her shoulders. “What’s going on, Geraldine? Why won’t you accept him?”

Geraldine squeezed her eyes shut. “I’m scared.”

“…scared he’ll hurt you too?”

The disbelief in Phoebe’s voice drew Geraldine’s eyes to her face. Phoebe shook Geraldine, her face tense. “Don’t be ridiculous! Bart wouldn’t hurt a fly!”

“Not now, no,” Geraldine insisted. “But when I disrespect him–”

“Since you two met, you’ve fought like cat and dog.”

“Exactly!” Geraldine answered. “That’s what scares me.”

Phoebe eyed her incredulously. “That you’re passionate people? I don’t see what’s wrong with that, Geri… Heck, I wish Abe was a little fiery.”

Geraldine shivered. “You don’t understand. We fight more than we agree.”

“That’s because you’re frustrated that you can’t express yourself fully and so is he. Half of your arguments are because you’ve misunderstood each other.” Phoebe eyed her warily. “He believed you liked Abe for years and was a jealous idiot because of it.”

“I know.” Geraldine’s cheeks warmed, ducking her head in shame.  If she was honest, she paid Abe more attention when Bart noticed, just to get a kick out of his reaction. Her face screwed up. “I’m afraid of what I could provoke out of him. He’s fine now until I make him crazy with rage.”

“Don’t kid yourself, Geri.”

Geraldine looked up, meeting Phoebe’s stern expression.

“No woman has that kind of effect on a secure and stable man. Bart is more even-tempered than you think. He won’t be driven to unstable emotions just because of you, provoked or not.”

Heat flooded her cheeks and she looked down. Did she dare believe Phoebe?

“Mark my words, they’ll be married by Thanksgiving,” Phoebe vowed, tugging the end of the thin quilt. She glanced over to her husband who stared at her with an expression she couldn’t decipher. She tucked the quilt’s end under the mattress. “Tuck in your side.”

Abe’s eyes remained unblinking on her face.

She placed her hands to her hips, head tilted in silent question. “What?”

Without a word, Abe then rounded the bed and approached her.

Even after three years of marriage, Phoebe’s heart still skipped beats whenever he came near. Like now; her heart raced. She closed her eyes and tilted her head upward, awaiting his kiss.

It didn’t come. Phoebe lifted one eye open and saw Abe was smiling, making no move to kiss her. She opened both eyes and pouted. “What?”

His hands slid over her bare arms. Even with the air conditioner set below 70° and vents were opened fully, she still felt hot at night–side effects of this pregnancy. Abe grinned fully, pulling her into his arms.

Phoebe quietly rested her cheek to his chest, content to listen to the steady beat of his heart. She closed her eyes, reveling in the strong yet gentle warmth that was her husband.

“I love you.”

She smiled; he’d echoed her thoughts exactly. “I love you more.”

He dipped his head, planting a kiss on the sensitive spot between her neck and her shoulders. “Impossible,” he mumbled against her skin.

Phoebe slipped her arms around his narrow waist and hooked her fingers together, locking them as one. “You’re happy?”

His kisses stopped, though his lips tarried against her skin. He sighed. “Not sure yet.”

She opened her eyes but didn’t draw back to look at him. “Why?”

“I don’t like watching your heart break.”

It still could, an ugly voice whispered in Phoebe’s head and she shoved it aside. Too late though because she thought of their first child, Fiona, who was just 27 weeks when she lost her. Phoebe could still remember the hollow feeling in her womb, the gush of warm blood–

“We’ll be okay,” Abe’s firm yet gentle voice broke through the horrible memory. His hands rubbed her back, drawing her deeper into his warmth. “We’ll be okay.”

She sighed blissfully. He was a sturdy foundation in the midst of her chaotic thoughts, and she couldn’t imagine being married to someone that was easily provoked as she. “I love you, Abraham.”

He kissed her ear. “I love you more, Phoebe.”

She giggled and he chuckled. Then she sighed. “Do you think they could work it out?”

“Who?”

“Your brother and Geri, do you think they could get married?”

“That’s up to them, Phoebe.” Abe drew back then, eyeing her warily. “Right now, settling this issue with her in-laws is top priority.”

Phoebe scowled. “Oh phooey! I hate them.”

Abe snorted. “You hate no one.”

“Fine, I strongly dislike them.” She stepped out of his arms and perched on the bed. “But what can we do? I don’t see them letting up on this issue even if they return to Peru next week.”

He nodded, his expression thoughtful. “One of my boys, he’s a civil rights attorney. Good guy. I’ll talk to him tomorrow; see if he can help us make sense of this whole thing.”

“Well we better figure something out and soon. Darah and I have a November wedding to plan.”

Abe scoffed incredulously and poked her cheek. “Busybody.”

She stuck her tongue out at him and bit back a laugh when he leaned over. “Be careful, the baby.”

He lifted his weight almost instantly, and Phoebe regretted alarming him. Concern etched his angular features as his gaze swept over her flat stomach and up to her face. “You okay?”

“We’re fine.” She placed her hands on his shoulders and pulled him close. “Kiss me, Mr. Teka.”

His boyish grin returned and Phoebe sighed with bliss as he obliged her.

<<Chapter 19 || Chapter 21>>

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Homecoming, Chapter 18

Posted on 17/02/2016

Turned out Phoebe had a feeling she was pregnant before the dry heaving that lasted deep into the night. She confessed to a dazed Abe that she’d known of her condition weeks ago but was too nervous to mention it, just in case it didn’t work out.

Long after the two youngest had gone to sleep and Clement retreated to his room, Geraldine watched as Abe enveloped his wife in his arms and cradled her against his chest. When Abe pressed a kiss to Phoebe’s forehead, Geraldine tamped a longing sigh and looked away, gaze colliding with Bart’s.

His lips were pursed, eyes squinted in clear suspicion.

She looked down at her phone and grimaced. “Oh man. I better get going…” She stood from the chair propped near the couple’s bed.

Phoebe peeked from around Abe’s arms and gave Geraldine a weary smile. “Thank you Geri…”

“Congratulations. I’ll check on you tomorrow,” she said to the couple and stepped around Bart to the door. Hearing him tell her to wait, Geraldine hurried from the master bedroom and out of the house.

Bart caught up to her before she reached her car. She yelped when he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her into his chest. Face aflame, she nudged at his arms. “Let me go.”

“What’s your rush?” he drawled out, unaffected by her hands shoving at his chest.

“It’s midnight and I have to go to my kid. Let me go!”

The raised inflection in her tone made him release her, though his fingers parked on her hips. Under the flickering streetlamp, she could see his brow was furrowed in consternation. “Now what’s with you?”

She avoided looking at him. “Nothing. I just have to go.”

“I’m not stopping you.”

Heat coursed through her and she stepped back. “Goodnight then.” She turned on her heels to go.

“Let’s get married.”

Her footsteps stalled from rushing off and she spun around. “What?”

He didn’t blink, didn’t move. “You heard me.”

She gaped at him. “What on earth for? My in-laws already think we’re getting married, and once they’re gone, we don’t need to pretend any more.”

“This isn’t pretend for me, Geraldine. I want to marry you.”

His words felt like a sucker punch in her gut, stealing her breath.

Bart moved toward her, frowning when she took a step back. He paused. “What are you doing?”

Geraldine regained her composure. “What are you doing? This isn’t part of the plan.”

He squinted at her. “What plan?”

She gritted her teeth. “Bartimeus–whoa, stop there.” She inched backward until her back was pressed against her car. “I said stop, you stubborn oaf.”

He only smiled wickedly, coming to stand directly in front of her.

She could barely breathe at his proximity–this insufferable man. “What are you doing?”

Bart placed his hands on either side of her shoulders, resting his palms against the car windows. “Stopping you from running away again.”

“A-again?” Her pulse tripped when he lowered his head. She turned her face away. “Bart, stop this.”

“Stop what?”

She glared at his shoulder. “I have to go home.”

“And you’ll go home when I get my answer.”

“I already told you there’s no reason for us to get married, Bart.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

“You didn’t ask. You said–”

“Marry me, Geraldine.”

She squeezed her eyes shut; fighting the warm shivers that traveled down her arms. “No.”

“Stop mumbling. Look at me and give me your answer.”

Geraldine forced her eyes back to his shadowed features. It hurt to look at him. “I said no.”

Bart leaned away and dropped his hands. She didn’t need the streetlight to know what her answer did to his handsome face. “So what, I’m good enough to be your pretend husband but not enough to be the real thing? Is that it, Geraldine?”

Her chest tightened in regret. “That’s not it, Bart.”

“Isn’t it? Then why–”

“I can’t marry you.”

“You can’t or you won’t? Speak plainly because I’m tired of your games.”

She frowned. “This isn’t a game.”

“Right.” Bart snorted in disgust and took a step back. “Goodnight, Geraldine.”

“Bart–”

“You left three years ago because you weren’t sure of my feelings. I’m telling you now that I—”

“Stop!” she shouted, her voice echoing in the quiet neighborhood. A lone dog barked in protest and she dropped her head. “Please don’t.”

Bart heaved a sigh. “Fine. It’s late. Get going.”

At the sound of his footfall retreating, Geraldine looked up. “Please don’t make this more complicated than it already is, Bart. They’ll be gone in a week and we can get back to our lives.”

He paused and turned to look at her. “I hear you. Go home, Geraldine.”

When he didn’t turn away, Geraldine had no choice to leave. She didn’t want to fight with him and it seemed like he didn’t want to either. There was much to say but she couldn’t bring herself to say any of it without sounding like a crazy person. With a nod, she turned away and ducked into her car.

Bart muttered a curse under his breath as she eased the car from the driveway and drove away.

“Nice going, Big Bro,” Clement drawled from the porch.

His face darkened. “Go away.”

His brother’s footfall sounded on the steps. “You pushed too hard, y’know.”

“So you’re the love expert now?” Bart turned to Clement, more annoyed than he expected. Somehow, he’d imagined Geraldine’s pretty eyes welling up with tears and a wobbly smile on her pretty mouth before she flung her arms around him and kissed him with gratitude.

“Sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective to point out your screw-ups.”

“Remind me to do the same with you,” Bart drawled, sweeping past Clement up the stairs.

“Geri’s got a whole lot of hurt, Bart. You have to be careful.”

Bart paused in step and turned to his brother. Before their fake engagement, Geraldine had spoken jadedly of romance, but he was certain she had feelings for him.

“She obviously cares a great deal for you,” Clement continued, kicking a pebble. “No woman would allow you to kiss her like that if she didn’t.”

“What’s with the lack of privacy? We’re not some peep show,” Bart groused, only mildly annoyed.

“It’s expected. Abe and Phoebe barely got alone time before they got married. Even now, they have to ask for permission to get away for a weekend.” Clement shook his head. “Unreal.”

Bart felt a flush at the thought of marrying Geraldine. The more he thought about the idea, the more he liked it. But how could he get her to see it his way?

“Even if you’re the better choice, being forceful like her family was about marrying that jerk isn’t gonna work for your benefit or hers. You’ve gotta be firm about your feelings yet gentle in your approach.”

“Gentle in my approach?” He sought Clement’s gaze.

“Take a lesson from Abe. Remember she did have the hugest crush on him.” Clement chuckled when Bart scowled. “What I’m saying, Big brother, is you gotta learn the art of push and pull.”

“Push and what?”

Clement walked up to his brother and clamped a hand on his shoulder. “The Art of Seduction.”

Bart eyed him warily. “And you want to be a missionary?”

“Missionary, not priest. Now come on.” He nudged Bart toward the door. “Let’s get started if we’re gonna get you married.”

Geraldine sat in the car long after she arrived home from Bart’s house, trying to calm her unsteady breath. She put a hand over her heart and closed her eyes. “Stop it… stop it.”

It scared her how hard her pulse was racing because it only happened whenever Bart gave her that impish dimpled smile of his. She shook her head to clear the image of his grin and leaned forward, pressing her forehead against the steering wheel.

“You can’t or you won’t?” Bart’s question echoed in her ear.

She squeezed her hand against her racing heartbeat. “I can’t…” Even if she wanted to, she couldn’t marry Bart. It was better this way.

A tap on the passenger window made her jump in her seat. She turned and quickly rolled down the window. “Mama? What’s go–?”

“Shh.” Yelena gestured to the sleeping baby in her arms. “Open the back door.”

Dumbly, Geraldine did as her mother said and glanced over at the front door. “Where are they?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” Yelena muttered while strapping Joselyn in her seat. “Once I came home, I locked me and Jozy in your room.”

“What?” Geraldine gaped at her mother; she’d gone home hours ago.

Yelena slid in beside her granddaughter and closed the door. “We can’t stay in the house while they’re here. I don’t trust them to leave without trying anything funny.” She and Geraldine peered down at the child whose head lolled back and forth.

A cold chill trickled down Geraldine’s spine and she gripped the steering wheel. “They can’t take my baby. I won’t let them.”

“Good.” Yelena adjusted Joselyn’s head. “Let’s go back to the Teka house–”

“No!”

“Shh!” Yelena put a finger over her mouth and frowned at her daughter. “What? Why?”

Heat infused her cheeks and Geraldine looked at Joselyn sleeping undisturbed. “They don’t have space,” she said lamely, fumbling with her hands.

Yelena snorted. “They have a couch and Joselyn can stay with the youngest girl, Darcy…”

“Darah,” Geraldine sighed heavily. “Mama, that’s not a good idea.”

Yelena smiled. “It is. I already called Barty and he said they’ll make room.”

Her eyes widened in alarm and she gaped at her mother. “You did what? When?”

“Just now. He called to see if you’d made it home yet and when I shared my concern, he invited us to come back. They’re probably making space in the house now. Let’s go, Mija.”

<<Chapter 17 || Chapter 19>>

  

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