Posts tagged “sister

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 26

Posted on 24/04/2015

stuff

Samina groaned as the melody of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ filled the gym room. She placed a hand on her hips. “Do we have to do this?” She needed to get rest before her surgery tomorrow.

“What’s with the look, Sammie?” Ada teased. “You don’t wanna dance?” She shimmied to Jaxson who eyed her in open amusement.  “Ohh, I wanna dance with somebody…” She draped her arms on Jaxson’s shoulders and swayed her hips to the rhythm.

“Really, Ada,” Samina pushed out an exasperated sigh, hands planted on her hips. “How could this be the bridal party song? You’re supposed to pick something slow and romantic—” she swallowed a gasp as Topher took her hand in his and tugged her to his side.

“Relax, Samina.” He smiled. “It’s her wedding after all.”

“How right you are,” Ada tossed over her shoulder and giggled as Jaxson took her around the room for a spin. “This is the perfect song.”

Samina bit back a retort when Topher placed a hand against her back. Face on fire, she directed her gaze to his right shoulder.

“Put your hand on my shoulder. I won’t bite you.”

“I wanna feel the heat with somebody,” Ada mimicked Whitney’s contralto, tossing her dark bob as Jaxson spun her around. “C’mon, loosen up.”

“Might as well, Sammie.” Jaxson tossed Samina a grin. “She’s got the song on repeat and won’t quit until you give in.”

Samina stifled a groan and placed her hand to Topher’s shoulder. “Just one dance,” she informed with a stern expression.

Topher nodded. “Yes, Ma’am.” Then he guided her around the dance floor.

An hour later, Samina accepted the bottle of water Topher extended to her. Twisting the cap, she tilted her head and swallowed a gulp of the cool liquid.

Ada dabbed her forehead with an engraved towel and grinned at Samina from across the car hood. “Now, wasn’t that fun?”

“I’m not sure if that’s exercise or a dance recital,” Topher drawled, taking a swig of his own water.

“It wasn’t bad,” Jaxson piped in, draping an arm around Ada’s shoulders.

“Of course it wasn’t. We got our steps to match and put in a good workout too.” She grinned unapologetically. “Sounds like a win-win to me.”

“Not if we already worked out,” Jaxson mumbled, earning him a quelling stare from his fiancée. He cleared his throat and tossed his head back for a gulp of water.

Samina snuck a peek at Topher’s biceps, her fingers recalling the solid cords of muscle as she held onto him during the dance. It was almost like she floated on air when he spun her around, light on his feet, like he’d done this before.

“Ready?” Topher’s voice broke through and Samina peered up at his handsome face shrouded by shadows.

Heat shot through her cheeks and she blinked at the amusement dancing in Ada’s eyes. She’d been caught daydreaming. “Uh…”

“The car’s this way,” Topher gestured to his left.

“Right.” She turned to Ada, accepting her friend’s quick hug.

“Call me tomorrow,” Ada said, releasing Samina. “We’ll talk.”

Samina didn’t have the heart to mention that she’d be out of pocket for the next week. “Goodnight.”

Once they parted ways with the engaged couple, Topher and Samina strode over to the dark Audi parked across the street.

“Did you have a good time tonight?” Topher asked as they drove down the quiet street. “You seem a little tuckered out.”

She shrugged. “Maybe a little. I just need to lie down.”

“I completely understand. Ada’s a little too excited about this dance.”

Samina snorted. “A little?”

Topher chuckled. “But she was happy to see you. She missed you.” He tossed her a glance. “We all did.”

She quietly faced the window, eyes stinging.

“I don’t mean to rush you, but—“

“Then don’t.” She curled her fingers into her palms, holding her breath and hoping he’d leave well enough alone. She couldn’t think about anything but her surgery for now.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

Samina’s shoulders relaxed and leaned back in the cushioned seat. In the companionable silence, she made plans. Excuses for her family once she returned. They’d wonder at her absence, probably be angry that she left without notice. But it was better than face the terrifying backlash that she’d undergone surgery without telling them. She squeezed her eyes shut and released a breath. For now, she’d focus on praying for peace and a safe surgery. Her family’s wrath, she’d deal with later.

“Looks like your sister has a visitor.”

Samina’s eyes snapped open and she squinted at her driveway. She sat up in her seat, her heart skipping a beat. “Oh no…”

“What’s the matter?” Topher put the car in park behind the minivan. Her mother’s.

Eyes on the lights in the condo window, Samina quickly unbuckled her seatbelt and pushed open the door. “Thanks for the ride. Don’t worry about walking me to the door.”

“Wait a min—Sam—!” the rest of his words were muffled by the car door closing.

Samina could already hear her mother’s clear soprano as she stood by the front door, saying a little prayer before she stepped inside.

“Hey Sis,” Karen greeted her by the door. “I was just about to call…” she peered over Samina’s shoulder at the shiny Audi parked behind their mother’s minivan. “Who?”

Samina grabbed Karen’s arm and jerked her away from the door. “Not a word,” she warned in a low tone.

“What?” Karen blinked. “Mom said she’d be stopping by. I figured you were out with your friends. How’d it go?”

“Stop talking,” Samina mumbled, peering over Karen’s shoulder at the empty hallway. “Where’s Mom?”

Karen placed her hands on her hips. “By the way, your bags are packed. Are you still babysitting those kids? I thought you’d stopped.”

“Will you stop it already?” Samina snapped. “Mind your business, Karen.”

“Hello?” Deidre’s voice echoed in the hallway, frowning at her two daughters glaring at each other. “What are you conspiring about?” She opened her arms and stepped forward

Samina turned to face her mother with a wavering smile. “Good evening, Mom…” she stepped into Deidre’s embrace.

Karen caught her mother’s confused look over Samina’s shoulder and shrugged.

“I wasn’t expecting you,” Samina confessed as Deidre released her. “Is everything alright?”

“Honestly,” Deidre scoffed incredulously. “Does anything have to be wrong before I come visit my girls?” She hooked an arm under Samina’s, steering her first daughter toward the living room when the doorbell rang.

Samina stiffened against her. Please no… No!

Deidre peered over her shoulder as Karen hurried to the door.

“Oh hey Topher,” Karen greeted cheerfully.

Samina squeezed her eyes shut.

Deidre gaped at the tall, handsome man filling the door with his imposing frame. “Oh…my.”

Topher smiled in greeting. “Hey Karen.” He gave Deidre a smile, eyes skimming over Samina’s back turned to him. He lifted a leather purse. “Just bringing this for Samina.”

Samina turned her head, face flooded with heat. She’d forgotten her purse!

Karen grinned, accepting the bag. “Thanks.”

He smiled in kind and dipped his head slightly. “Have a good night.”

“You too,” Karen chirped, closing the door as Topher turned away from the doorstep.

Deidre quietly tugged a wooden Samina to sit beside her. Karen trailed behind.

Samina perched on the seat her mother patted beside her, eyes trained to the floor. The silence in the parlor was so thick; she could cut it with a knife.

“So…” Deidre began. “How was your outing?”

Samina pinched the hem of her skirt. “Fine.”

“Hmm, seemed like it was more than fine…”

Karen muffled a cough in her shoulder, evading Samina’s eyes.

Samina scowled. “What did you say?”

Karen’s eyes grew wide as tea saucers; a picture of innocence. “I didn’t say anything, I swear!”

“Yeah right,” Samina retorted. “You can’t keep your big mouth shut for anything.”

Deidre rolled her eyes. “Samina, that’s enough. Don’t bully your sister.”

Samina glared at her sister, her mouth pursed tight, her body trembling with pent-up frustration. It was certainly a good thing she didn’t tell Karen about her surgery. The entire church would’ve probably shown up at her doorstep if she had. Samina rolled her eyes, irritated to distraction.

“Since I hate beating around the bush, who was that man?”

Groaning, Samina shot to her feet. “Mother, please!”

“What?” Deidre blinked, looking every bit as innocent as Karen. “What did I say?”

Karen sighed petulantly. “Honestly, Sammie. Why so catty tonight?”

Samina hissed. “Do you two ever quit?”

“Sit down, Samina,” Deidre said firmly. “What’s the matter with you?”

Throwing an exasperated glance to the ceiling, Samina dropped to her seat and folded her arms across her chest.

“Explain this fierce reaction you’re having. Now, young lady.” Deidre’s stern expression brooked no argument.

“Don’t listen to Karen,” she clipped out, glowering at her younger sister. “He’s just one of the guys in the wedding.”

“Just one of the guys, huh?” Deidre nodded her head in understanding. “So he’s the Christopher Chance, the best man and your date for the wedding.”

Samina whipped her head to glare at Karen.

Karen lowered her head.

“What didn’t you tell her?”

Deidre’s brow furrowed. “Sammie, why are you so defensive about him? Shouldn’t you be at least flattered that he’s interested in you?”

Samina rolled her eyes. “He’s not interested in me, Mother.”

“Is that right? That’s not what I heard.”

“My God, Karen!” Samina stood again, jabbing a finger in Karen’s direction. “This is why I can’t tell you anything.”

Karen stiffened, leaning away from her sister’s offending finger.

“Relax,” Deidre tugged Samina’s sleeve, pulling her back to her seat. “Your sister’s just excited for you. And frankly, so am I.”

Samina dragged a hand down her face. She needed to lie down. Now.

“You’re messing up what little makeup on your face, dear.” Deidre held onto Samina’s wrist. “Anyway, he looks like a very nice young man. Tell me about him.”

Biting back a moan, Samina met her mother’s expectant gaze and took a deep breath. “There’s not much to say. He’s Jaxson’s best friend who I met five years ago. He’s the best man and that’s it.”

“Actually, there’s more,” Karen inserted, ignoring Samina’s heated stare. “Ada told me he’s crushed on Samina since the first day they met.”

Samina scowled. “That’s a lie…” even her protest didn’t sound convincing to her own ears and she bit the bottom of her lip.

Deidre gestured Karen to continue and at the end of Karen’s detailed account of the handsome gentleman who had eyes for her first daughter, she was practically jumping in her seat over Topher’s intentions to pursue Samina. “Very interesting…”

Samina shook her head in despair, wishing her bedroom door was close enough for her sneak away before the onslaught of questions forming in her mother’s mind.

“So let me get this straight,” Deidre drawled. “There’s a gorgeous, kind and attentive man wanting to court you and you’re hesitating because…?”

“Thank you, Mom!” Karen piped, wrinkling her nose when Samina sent her a scathing glare.  She sat back, arms folded.

Samina then sighed, too tired to argue with either of them. “It’s complicated.”

“What’s complicated about that? He wants to get to know you. So let him.”

She shook her head, the side of her temples throbbing. “It’s not that easy.”

“Why?”

“She still loves Zeke,” Karen inserted softly.

Samina inhaled sharply, jerking her eyes to Deidre’s.

“What?” Deidre squeaked out, sitting up in her seat. “Who? Ezekiel Dames?!”

The horrified look on Deidre’s face was too much to bear. Samina looked away.

Karen nodded solemnly. “It’s true.”

Deidre gaped at her daughter’s profile. “Samina, still? After all these years?”

She could hear the censure in Deidre’s tone. Tears welled up in her eyes.

“But he’d been married for eight years. Sam—” Deidre’s voice oozed with disbelief. “There is no way you could’ve harbored your feelings for that long.”

Feeling the judgmental stares boring into her, Samina drew in her shoulders. Tears rolled down her cheeks, overwhelmed with embarrassment and sadness.

In college, she’d avoided dates with men and declined attending social events for fear that a guy would ask her out. She was that loyal to Ezekiel. Years passed as she lived that way, holding a torch for him while he made a family with his college sweetheart. Her throat clenched up, realizing now that she was a social failure at thirty years old and now that Topher expressed his intentions to court her, she didn’t know how to let him.

Deidre shook her head. “This can’t go on, Samina. You can’t continue like this.”

Samina bobbed her head stiffly, vision blurred with tears. “I know…”

Both Deidre and Karen blinked in surprise at Samina’s soft reply.

“Huh, what?” Karen asked dumbly, expecting protests instead.

Samina summoned a breath, releasing it. “I know I should let go of my feelings for Zeke.”

“Do you think you can after all this time?” Deidre’s question was soft, sympathetic.

Lifting her eyes to the gentle look in her mother’s gaze, Samina wanted to weep. There was no reproach, only love. Samina nodded. “I will. I have to.”

Both Deidre and Karen sighed in collective relief, watching Samina swipe the stray tears on her cheeks.

“Oh, Sammie,” Karen scooted off the couch to kneel beside Samina. She grabbed hold of her sister’s hand and squeezed it tight. “You can do it.”

Samina managed a watery smile at her sister, letting herself be embraced by both mother and sister.

Deidre wrapped both arms around her daughters; her heart breaking at the sounds of Samina’s muffled sobbing against Karen’s shoulder.

As much as she wanted to believe Samina intended to release her feelings for Ezekiel, she knew firsthand that a person’s heart often rebelled against his will to change, to move on from a past love.

Her jaw tightened in resolution, knowing she had to do something about Samina’s heartbreak as soon as possible.

“Everything will be okay,” Deidre said gently, rubbing Samina’s trembling shoulders. “I promise you…”

<<Chapter 25 || Chapter 27>>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 24

Posted on 17/04/2015

truelovewaits

Karen hid a smile as she entered the house and spotted Samina lounging on the couch, her feet curled under her with her laptop resting on her thighs. “What, no night rendezvous with the Dames kiddos?” She didn’t bother masking the sarcastic edge in her voice, and sauntered over to the couch.

Samina merely smirked as Karen dropped on the sofa beside her. “Don’t worry. I won’t be going there any time soon.” She scanned the screen, the screen reflecting on the rim of her glasses.

“I see.” Karen managed to sound neutral as she leaned in to read. “House of Hope? So you’re considering them then?”

“Already signed the papers,” Samina mumbled, scrolling down the fine print.

Karen nodded with a grin. “Don’t worry, you’ll fit in just fine.” She sighed, leaned back in the sofa. “I hate to bring up Bridezilla, but aren’t you supposed to be with her right now?”

Samina inhaled sharply.

Karen raised a brow at her stricken expression. “What, you forgot?” Her frown deepened as Samina shot to her feet and hurried down the narrow hallway to her bedroom. “Sammie,” she hollered after her. “It’s late. Just call and cancel.”

At Samina’s silence, Karen pushed to her feet and moved to the hallway. The sound of muffling sobs caught her midstride, a shiver skittering down to her toes.

As the sobbing intensified, Karen hurried inside. The sight of Samina huddled on the floor, her face buried into the bedcovers. Her heart was racing as Samina choked for air and she moved to kneel beside her.

“I can’t do this!” Samina wailed, pressing her forehead against Karen’s shoulder. “Why is this happening to me? Why?”

Karen gaped at her, fear gripped her throat. It wasn’t often she witnessed a breakdown quite like this. Samina hardly ever cried.

Then the doorbell rang, jarring Karen from her immobilized state. As the ringing persisted, Samina leaned away and released Karen to answer the door.

Still trembling, Karen pulled open the front door. Her eyes collided with the gray-green gaze of the man at her doorstep. Her brow furrowed in confusion at his broad shoulders, her eyes skimming over his imposing frame before returning to his warm eyes. “Yes?” she croaked out.

A trace of confusion quickly faded to recognition. He grinned, flashing straight teeth at her. “You must be Karen. I’m Topher Chance. Is Samina in?” He kept his arresting gray-green eyes on her and for a brief moment, Karen could only stare at him.

It wasn’t until he shifted his weight that she blinked out of a trance and recovered her tongue. “Uh, yeah, she’s in…” The disturbing image of Samina weeping inconsolably in her room made her pause. She shook her head. “She’s busy.”

Something akin to relief fell over his features and he smiled. “I’m glad she’s okay. We were worried about her.”

Karen tilted a brow, still holding the door to her. “We?”

“Ada, Jax and I. Well mostly, me.” He chuckled softly. “I apologize. I’m Samina’s friend and date for the wedding. More aptly, the best man.”

“Date?” Karen croaked as his grin brightened.

“How like you to exaggerate,” Samina countered dryly over Karen’s shoulder.

Karen noticed his eyes danced with mirth as he looked over her head to where Samina stood. Turning around, Karen swallowed a sigh of relief that Samina seemed composed as usual.

Samina stared past her. “Was Ada worried?”

Feeling awkward for standing between them, Karen ducked and walked around Samina to perch on the sofa. But not without peeking back at the attractive giant on their doorstep. “Date?” she mumbled incredulously.

“Well, she has a right to be.” Topher sighed. “Where’s your phone?”

Samina hesitated, hands clasped tightly behind her back . “I turned it off.”

He shook his head, a wrinkle in his brow. “Bad girl.”

Karen raised a brow at his berating tone and the contrite dip of Samina’s head.

Then Samina folded her arms across her chest, shoulders tense. “Did you come here to scold me or give me a message?”

Topher merely laughed in reply and Karen squinted at him. Seemed he was used to Samina’s snippy attitude. “Don’t worry about it. I covered for you.”

“And just how did you do that?”

Karen held her breath, her astute gaze darting between them.

“Don’t worry about that,” Topher answered easily. “Just have a good explanation when she comes charging through your door tomorrow morning.”

Karen snorted, pulling their attention to her. She stood from the sofa. “Doesn’t Ada have anything better to do than terrorize her wedding party?”

Topher smirked in amusement at Karen, recognizing the resemblance down to their strong-willed personalities. He brushed aside a buzzing wasp. “Samina, could you be a good hostess and let me in?”

Samina scowled but moved aside, Topher ducking inside with an unaffected smile.

Karen bit the inside of her cheeks to keep from laughing. She liked this guy. “So Topher, wanna enlighten me how you know my sister?”

“Karen…” Samina’s warning tone sounded over Topher’s low chuckle.

He nudged Samina and winked audaciously at her. “Want me to tell her or you?”

Samina merely jutted her chin in a stubborn angle, her mouth pressed in an obstinate line.

“No matter.” Karen quickly gestured to the couch. “Topher, why don’t you have a seat? I’ll get you a drink while you and Sissi talk.” She bustled past the kitchen, her heart thrumming with uncontained excitement.

Topher smiled in amusement as Karen skulked away. “Your sister’s nice,” he said quietly, settling into the leather chair and stretched out his long legs.

Samina closed the laptop and set it behind as she settled in the chair opposite him. “Why did you come?”

He then leaned forward and propping his elbows on his knees, he reached for one of her hands. Ignoring the slight resistance before she surrendered her hand to his, Topher smiled at her. “You remember what I said at the tea house?” he asked in a gentle whisper, admiring the gentle sloping of her high forehead and straight nose leading to the natural pucker of her full lips and stubborn chin.

Samina’s eyes widened and she tugged at her hand but he didn’t budge to release her. Resigned, she pressed her teeth against her bottom lip and averted her gaze. “Yes…”

Topher smiled wryly. It was a start. He looked down at her slender hand in his. “I was serious, Samina. I want you to consider it. Consider me.”

“Alright, here we are,” Karen announced brightly, entering the room. She frowned as Samina jerked her hand from Topher’s and shifted away. Hesitantly, Karen extended a bottle of water to Topher. “Sammie, want one?”

Samina only shook her head, gaze trained on her clasped hands.

Karen and Topher exchanged a wary glance.

To Karen’s chagrin, Topher stood to his feet. He smiled at Karen and gazed down at Samina’s downturned face. “Now that I’m satisfied that you’re safe and sound, I’ll take my leave.” He then turned to Karen, gesturing to the water bottle. “Thanks.”

“I’ll walk you out,” Karen said, trailing behind him.

“Not necessary,” Topher said gently, pulling open the door. He gave her a nod and slipped out of the house without another word to Samina.

Karen pouted as she slowly closed the door behind him. “He didn’t say goodbye to you…”

In silence, Samina picked up her laptop to retreat to her room.

Karen scowled as Samina’s lock fell in place, locking her in. The somber look on her sister’s face contradicted the bumbling joy in her heart at the prospect of a man besides Ezekiel vying for Samina’s heart. Clenching her jaw in determination, Karen stalked to the couch and reached for her purse, rooting out her purse.

Her lip curled in distaste as she scrolled down the contacts list for Ada’s number. Although she’d opt for a root canal procedure, questions urged her to dial her number. Plopping on her mattress, she pressed the phone to her ear and waited for Ada to pick up.

“Yeah…” Ada heaved a sigh, expressing her displeasure. “What could you possibly want?”

Karen rolled her eyes. “Trust me, if I didn’t have important things to discuss, I wouldn’t be calling you.” She scoffed at Ada’s bitter laugh. “Who is Topher Chance?”

There was a long stretch of silence on the other end and Karen almost snapped at Ada when the older woman chuckled dryly. “So he came over, huh? Probably to make sure his story matched hers.”

“Come off it and answer the question.”

Ada sniffed disdainfully. “He’s Jax’s best friend and the best man. Y’know, the male counterpart of what your older sister’s supposed to be.”

“Hey, handle your beef with her and not me,” Karen said easily. She folded her legs under her. “What else? Is he interested in Samina?”

“Excuse me, but how is this any of your business?”

Karen gritted her teeth. “Ada, I swear to God, if you don’t just act normal for one second.”

“If I tell you, will you convince your sister to behave like a responsible maid-of-honor?”

Karen scowled, bristled by Ada’s harsh accusation. “Look, I don’t know what’s wrong with Samina but she’s going through a lot right now.” She frowned deeper, the disturbing image appeared in her mind’s eye. “I found her crying in her room before Topher came over here.”

The silence on Ada’s end was as deafening as the static.

“Hello?” Karen mumbled in annoyance, ready to drop the phone.

“What’s wrong with her? She’s constantly out of it and she forgets our appointments as if she doesn’t care.” Ada’s voice trembled with concern. “I mean, I know I’m a little strung up right now—”

“A little?”

“Fine,” Ada conceded though her tone hinted impatience. “But Samina’s behavior has me even more agitated. What’s going on with her?”

Karen shook her head. “I’m not sure I would even know. She’s been so secretive lately… ever since Zeke and his girls came to town.” Her scowl deepened and she returned to the matter at hand. “That’s why I need to know about this Topher guy.”

“He likes her,” Ada sighed. “I mean, he’s been curious about her since five years ago. Now, I think he’s serious about pursuing her.”

Karen’s eyes widened. “How come he hasn’t said anything to her about it?” Her head swam, overwhelmed with excitement at the thought of a man other than Ezekiel capturing Samina’s heart.

“Bad timing, I guess. He’s a geophysicist and doesn’t stay long enough to pursue any serious relationship. It’s been complicated for him over the years but maybe he’s looking past that now, if he’s serious about her.”

Smart, handsome and has eyes for Samina. Karen couldn’t help the wide, stupefied grin that moved her lips. She clutched the phone closer to her ear. “How long is he in town for?”

“He took a break for our wedding and for his aunt. So a few weeks—” She groaned. “You’re killing me here, Karen. Can’t you help me?”

“Alright, fine,” Karen replied begrudgingly. “I’ll help get Samina back on track with your wedding. But trust me. I’m not doing this for you.”

She could picture Ada rolling her eyes. “Gee, thanks.”

“No Ada, thank you.” Karen promptly disconnected the call and stared up at the ceiling. It seemed things were finally looking up for Samina and if she had her way, Topher would have his chance with Samina. Her lips curved in a smile, hope fluttering in her chest. Samina could return to enjoying life again.

Topher fought a grin as he leaned against the back of the chair, scrounging for plane tickets on the laptop later that night. He mustered up the image of Samina’s dazed expression and the way her lips trembled, drawing his gaze there. He could still trace the dips and curves of her beautiful mouth.

As Nadine stirred awake in bed by the desk, Topher quickly schooled his features.

“Why do you look so guilty?” she asked, her voice hoarse from sleep.

He smirked. “Why’s your eyesight so good after all these years?”

“Oh shush.”

Topher chuckled lowly, pulling up another tab on the screen.

The sound of the bedsheets rustling pulled his attention and he warily watched as Nadine shifted her legs to stand. “Where are you going?”

“I want to walk around a bit.” She smiled weakly, his heart twisting at the fragile lift of her lips. Although she was improving under the nurse’s care, Topher still hesitated over her demand for independence.

“Want some company?”  He stood and moved to her side before she could protest.

Moments later, they walked slowly down the paved path that wove around the hotel, Nadine’s arm curved under Topher’s. They were preoccupied with their own thoughts, the bustle of the city and traffic filling the silence.

Topher smiled down at Nadine as she tugged at his sleeve, pointing across the street to a yogurt shop.

Settling down in a corner booth, Topher watch Nadine scoop pomegranate yogurt to her mouth before turning to his own melting treat.

“What do you think of Houston?” Topher asked after a few minutes of companionable silence. His eyes remained on his cup yet he felt the weight of Nadine’s eyes on him.

“Nice enough.” She scraped the spoon over the cold treat and slanted a curious glance at him. “Trying to dump me here?”

The corner of Topher’s mouth quirked in a wry smile. “Just a question.”

“It’s not like you to just ask a question, Christopher.” Her tone was serious, he couldn’t help but look up at her. Caramel eyes were blazing. She was angry with him, her lips thinning in a firm line. “What are you getting at?”

His jaw was slack as he gaped at her. When her eyes narrowed suspiciously, Topher blinked away the daze and choked a laugh. “Not just for you. I wouldn’t dump you for anything.”

“Or anyone?” she asked pointedly, her lips pursing.

Topher raised both brows incredulously. “Is that a pout?” He laughed when she glared at him and grabbed her hand. “Nadine… you’re the only family I have. Don’t say things like this. You’re breaking my heart here.”

Nadine tugged her hand from his to scoop up a spoonful of cream to her mouth. “You’ll have to soon.”

He scowled, retrieving his own spoon. “If my future wife doesn’t like the idea of having you around, then she’s not my future wife.” He paused from lifting the yogurt to his mouth at the sound of Nadine chuckling, eyes dancing with amusement. Topher rolled his eyes, feeling duped.

“You’re a good boy, Christopher.” Her lips curled in a satisfied smirk. “I raised you well.”

“You’d like to take the credit, wouldn’t you?” He licked the yogurt off the spoon.

“Speaking of future wives… how is your Samina?” Nadine’s probing gaze remained steady on his face.

Topher fought back a smile. “She’s fine. Hopefully you guys will get to see each other before we leave.”

At his waning smile, Nadine tilted her head. “You’ll miss her when we leave?”

He lowered his gaze. “We’ll keep in touch…” Hopefully. His stomach flipped over.

“You’re in love with her, aren’t you?”

The amazement in Nadine’s voice drew his eyes back to her face. He frowned. “Is that what it is?” Once, love had sounded so foreign to his ears.

Nadine pinned him with her probing stare. “Shouldn’t you know?”

Topher dropped his gaze and swirled his spoon in the melted yogurt. “I’m not sure if it’s that. I just think she’s…”

“Christopher,” Nadine interjected softly. “That you can’t come up with a clever comeback means you probably are.”

He blinked at her. “Really?”

She slow-blinked and flashed him a smile he returned. Nadine laughed hoarsely. “I don’t know what to do with you…” she returned to her yogurt while it was still worth eating.

Topher merely stared at her bowed head, letting her words sink in.

<<Chapter 23 || Chapter 25>>

  

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