Posts tagged “Wedding

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 37

Posted on 11/05/2015

bouquet

Samina eyed Karen warily as she adjusted the flower brooch over her shoulder. She noted the tightness around her sister’s mouth and the concentrated wrinkle in her brow.

Since that night, Karen hadn’t mentioned the surgery and even Obadiah steered clear from the topic. And although she’d asked for space, she didn’t like the pointed silence or evasion.

At least one of them could’ve asked what would happen next, if the surgery had cured her completely, because she too wondered at every dose of hormone pills. Waiting for the report from her post-op check-in wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

She fidgeted and Karen hissed, causing her to stiffen.

“This brooch is tricky so if you don’t want either of us pricked, stand still.”

Samina nodded and snuck a peek at Karen’s face. “You’re… still mad?”

Karen rolled her eyes and sighed. “What do you think?” She frowned, tugging on the strap of Samina’s gown. “Honestly, what was Ada thinking? Not only is the color of this dress blindly atrocious, it doesn’t fit her theme.”

The corner of Samina’s lips twitched a smile. “Don’t let her hear that.”

Karen grunted, adjusting the brooch pin to secure the strap. Then her brown eyes slanted over Samina’s face. “How is it?”

Samina kicked her other shoulder. “It’ll do.”

“No. I mean…” She pointed her chin at Samina’s face. “Your nasal septum okay?”

Samina blinked. “My what?”

Karen frowned. “I heard they make an incision there… for the, y’know.” She lowered her gaze to the brooch pin. “Did it… hurt?”

Regret choked out her words. She’d been incredibly wrong to keep this from her family. “I…” she croaked out.

Grabbing her shoulders, Karen scowled. “Stop crying. You’ll ruin your makeup.” She thumbed a tear from Samina’s cheeks.

“I’m sorry…” Samina sniffed back the tears.

“Sorry for what?” She dabbed at Samina’s eyes, frown still present on her brow. “Keeping your surgery a secret or ruining the makeup?”

“Both.” Samina choked a soft laugh.

Karen offered her a half-smile, eyes gliding over her face. “I’m mad that you hid away as if you don’t have a family, Sam. I won’t lie and say I’m not.” She squeezed Samina’s shoulder. “But I’m glad that you’re okay.”

Samina nodded, pulling Karen into an embrace. She closed her eyes, resting her chin against Karen’s shoulder. “Thank you…”

Karen patted her back gruffly, before pulling back. “You sure you don’t want to take someone else to the wedding?”

She knew exactly who she referred to, another topic they both avoided. Everything was still so new and confusing with Ezekiel. Bringing him to the wedding seemed unusual. Strange.

“Not that I mind coming since Jaxson has some fine friends.” Karen’s bright smile pulled Samina out of her reverie.

“Well then…” Samina smiled in return. “That settles it.”

Karen’s smile then waned. “Besides, it’s best that I come instead of Ezekiel… Y’know, for Topher’s sake.”

Samina’s smile dropped as did her heart, plummeting to her stomach. Topher. Without her permission, his detached expression and cold words stayed with her ever since that strange night, nagging her every time she responded to Ezekiel’s texts and spoke to him over the phone.

Due to her maid-of-honor duties occupying all her free time, she didn’t get a chance to see Ezekiel… or Topher. The best man who’d assigned himself as her partner-in-crime was notably absent. Jaxson had mentioned he was busy with Nadine, but Samina knew better. He was avoiding her.

A tug at her frilly sleeve pulled Samina’s attention back to the frown on Karen’s face. Her chest tightened, fearing that she’d offended her sister again.

“Let’s go before Ada throws a fit.” She pulled Samina to the door, grabbing both their purses and the car keys.

Surprisingly, Samina breathed a sigh of relief as the bouquet sailed over her head, the crowd erupting in cheers as Myrtle, Ada’s older cousin, caught the bouquet. She caught Karen’s eyes across the room and grinned.

Karen rolled her eyes but smiled anyway.

Though she wanted to be married, for some reason, catching the bouquet in Topher’s presence seemed almost disrespectful. Inadvertently, she scanned the room and immediately caught Topher’s hooded gaze focused on her.

Her face warmed at his open perusal and she quickly looked away, adjusting her sleeve.

“I aimed too high,” Ada bemoaned, draping a bare arm over Samina’s shoulders. “But I’m so glad Myrtle caught it or I’ll never hear the end of that.” She wriggled her brows, face lit with joy and excitement.

A surge of jealously filled Samina’s lungs, arresting her rebuttal. She shook it off quickly and offered Ada the brightest smile she could. This was her best friend’s day and she was going to be happy for her.

Then the song came on. The crowd cheered in recognition at the melody and Ada grabbed Samina’s hand, tugging her closer to the dance floor. “Find your partner, Sam.” She winked audaciously and Samina wished she’d been honest with Ada about Topher.

Jaxson sauntered over just as the singer’s voice crooned out the first word. Grabbing Ada by the waist, he pulled her close just as they’d rehearsed.

Samina’s pulse jumped at the second beat, their cue was next. As Jaxson and Ada circled the room, the crowd roared in cheer and Samina’s cheeks warmed in anticipation for Topher to reach for her.

Just then, a hand slid around her waist and Samina’s heart skipped several beats as Topher pulled her into his arms. She stumbled against him and glanced up quickly at his chiseled features. One corner of his mouth was slanted in a smile.

Heat surged through her veins and she lowered her gaze. The music changed and Topher released her to move to Jaxson’s side, as they rehearsed.

“This is how we do it!” The crowd sang along, feeling the energy of the song.

Though her feet moved with the rhythm and she danced in step with Ada beside her, Samina could only see Topher, his bright smile and svelte form moving as if he had no cares in the world.

Ada hooked an arm under Samina’s, grinning at her. “Smile, girl!”

Samina could only muster a wobbly one, tears stinging the back of her eyes. Was he that unaffected by her? Or was he merely deflecting?

The song changed yet again, a slow melody. Ada released her arm and moved to the center, where Jaxson waited for her.

Samina held her breath, knowing what was next.

“Cos I’m your ladyyyy…” The women shout-sang along with Celine Dion.

Topher shifted his gaze to Samina, his smile waning.

And you are my man…”

Samina swallowed hard and stepped forward, meeting him in the middle of the dance floor. Her heart skipped a beat as he pulled her close. She almost sighed in the strength of his arms.

Then he sighed, grabbing Samina’s attention to his face. He wore a rueful expression that made her start, stepping on his foot.

“Sorry…” they both said together.

She frowned, fingers curling over his shoulder. “Huh?”

His lips curled in a half smile. “I’m sorry.”

Her gaze met his, seeing regret there.

“I didn’t take your news as well as I should have,” Topher continued, his deep timbre and the unexpected apology rocking her off-kilter. “Friends should celebrate each other’s good news and I didn’t. I’m sorry for my appalling behavior.”

Samina couldn’t swallow the hardened lump in her throat.

He tilted his head slightly, beseeching her with his striking gaze. “Forgive me?”

The tears at the back of her eyes tingled at the gentle cadence of his baritone. Samina jerked a nod. “I’m sorry too…”

Topher smirked. “For leading me on?”

Her eyes widened.

Topher laughed softly. “I’m kidding.” His smile remained, gentle, forgiving, warm.

Samina relaxed in his arms for the remainder of the dance.

Karen met her afterwards with a glass of water and a bemused expression. “How curious…”

Samina paused from taking a swallow of the refreshing liquid, parched. “Hmm?”

“For a moment there, one could forget you’d broken his heart.” Karen shook her head. “He must really like you, Sammie…”

Cheeks aflame, Samina gulped down the drink, eyes moving to where Topher congratulated his best friend with a one-arm hug and a pat on the back.

“Well since he’s available, you don’t mind if I dance with him?” Karen wriggled her brows and sauntered across the dance floor toward Topher.

Watching Karen poke Topher’s shoulder and he turn to greet her, Samina felt her stomach clench in protest. She swallowed the water, troubled to silence.

How curious indeed.

Jeremiah heard him before he saw him. His shoulders tensed and he squinted into the distance, marking the spot.

“Funny seeing you here…” Gabriel muttered, coming to stand to his right.

He swung the club, watching the golf ball sail and hit the net kilometers away before landing on the green. Then he glanced over his shoulder.

Gabriel stood with his arms folded, no golf bag in sight. In fact, his friend wore jeans and a dress-shirt, hardly golf-appropriate. His face was hard as stone, all business like. “Let’s talk.”

Jeremiah smirked dryly, lowering his club. “You’re done avoiding me?”

Gabriel narrowed his eyes at him. “Ezekiel turns 33 next month, right?”

He raised a brow, tugging off his gloves. “Since when do you care about that stuff?”

“Answer the question, Jeremiah.”

He scowled, growing increasingly tired of Gabriel’s shifty moods. “Yes, so what? Did you come here to start a fight? I rather your silence that this.” He tossed the gloves on top his golf bag and bent over to unlace his shoes.

Gabriel turned to face him. “That day… in your car.”

Jeremiah’s fingers paused. Cold frisson shot down his spine.

“Why?”

He looked up, stunned to silence at the pain etched in Gabriel’s weathered face. It was as if they were back in college, standing on that grass still wet with dew.

“Why was Odessa in your car?”

Jeremiah scowled darkly, connecting the dots. “You’re crazy.” He left his shoes on and grabbed his bag. Anger surged through him as Gabriel blocked his path. “Move.”

“You didn’t tell me what happened.”

He gritted his teeth, fingers squeezing the bag. “Move!”

Gabriel barely flinched at Jeremiah’s bark. “I didn’t give you a chance to explain yourself but I want to hear it now.”

Jeremiah scoffed. “After thirty-four years, you want to hear my side now?”

Gabriel’s jaw tightened, his patience waning also. “You had thirty-four years to tell me the truth and you didn’t. Sounds like a guilty man, if I ever heard one.”

Knowing the other golfers were now staring their way, Jeremiah checked his anger and shook his head. “Forget it, Gabe. I know you’ll always believe what you want to. Move out of my way before I make you move.”

For a second, Jeremiah wasn’t sure Gabriel would move. Resentment practically oozed out of the man’s core, heat blazing in his eyes. This man was sporting for a fight and if he gave Gabriel one reason, another searing punch would land on his jaw. With the tension between him and Sheena these days, he couldn’t afford to fight with Gabriel… even if he wanted to.

Then Gabriel stepped aside.

Air gushed out of Jeremiah’s lungs and his shoulders relaxed. He pushed past Gabriel, eying the glowing exit sign a few feet away.

“Keep running like you always do,” Gabriel’s taunting voice called in the silence. “Just like you were in high school, you’ll always be a coward.”

Jeremiah’s footsteps halted.

<<Chapter 36 || Chapter 38>>

Tunde & Anaya: Part 24

Posted on 02/05/2013

kent

Felicia and Silas’ wedding fell on a rainy early-September morning. The blushing bride gave her new sister-in-law a wink as she crossed the aisle to reach for Silas’ outstretched hand. The two sets of parents grinned at each other from across the aisle, the two fathers nodding their greeting as if just meeting for the first time.

Anaya couldn’t stop her tears, dabbing her cheeks as she watched Felicia hold hers in when Silas reverently said his vows. Her eyes shifted to the best man and her heart soared with pride as she took in her husband’s strong and svelte form in his dark grey tuxedo. She shook her head in awe, overwhelmed from her rampant hormones and her increasing love for Tunde.

As if he felt the weight of her stare, Tunde’s eyes pulled away from the couple and fell on his wife. His lips curled up in that slow, ‘I-see-you’ smile that had her blushing but she dared not look away, taking in all of him. Then he winked at her before returning his attention to Silas and Felicia.

Later, after bidding a goodnight to the beaming couple on their way to Washington for a brief respite, Tunde pulled the pregnant Anaya in his arms and kissed her soundly.

She blinked at him. “What was that for?” She glanced around, still aware of the disapproving eyes of his people that had attended Silas’ wedding, people that hadn’t attended theirs. It still saddened her that the lack of support for Tunde was unmistakably present. In the back of her mind, Anaya wondered when they would come to accept him. And her.

“Do I need a reason to kiss my wife?” He smirked down at her. “In that case, I found that I couldn’t keep my eyes off you. Go figure.” Lowering his hands to cup the slight mound of her belly, he flashed that striking smile again. “Any movement yet?”

Anaya wrinkled her nose playfully. “We’re just a few months in, Tunde…” She covered her hand over his.

“There’s the two I’ve been looking for,” Josephine sing-songed as she made her way down the church steps to greet her son and daughter-in-law. “Good I caught you in time before you escaped.”

“I gotta get this beautiful woman home, Mom. It’s her birthday tomorrow,” Tunde informed his mother even as he tucked Anaya under his arm. “Aren’t you coming by?”

“Of course I am. How could I miss the birthday of my beautiful daughter…” Josephine clucked her tongue, pulling Anaya out of Tunde’s arms and into her own. “My dear girl, I hope this boy is doing all I asked.” She kissed Anaya’s cheek. “How’s your family? Your mother?”

Anaya didn’t miss the pointed words and bit her bottom lip. What could she say, knowing the encouraging smile would disappear from Josephine’s lips if she told the truth? “She’s… fine.”

It didn’t take a sage to understand Anaya’s hesitance and Josephine sighed heavily. “Still hasn’t come around?” Her eyes lifted to Tunde who shook his head. She clucked her tongue and looked back down at Anaya. Cupping the girl’s cheek, she willed Anaya to look at her. “Don’t despise your mother, my dear daughter… She just needs more time.”

How much time does she need to accept us? Anaya winced as a sharp pain shot up her leg but she lowered her eyes and merely nodded. Six months had passed since the wedding and still Hadiza refused to even say anything except ‘Oh, you’re here… Your dad isn’t here,’ before she retreated into her room. A room that her father no longer slept in, to give her mother enough space and privacy. She curled her fingers into her palms. Hadiza’s blatant disapproval of Tunde and their marriage was taking a toll on her happiness and her sanity.

“Just keep being patient and give her more time…”

Anaya kept replaying Josephine’s words in her head even as she lay in a sleeping Tunde’s arms, feeling every vibration from Tunde’s loud snoring. She didn’t mind it tonight, too distracted by her thoughts to even sleep for a minute.

Another sharp pain shot up her leg and Anaya winced as a nerve under her belly stretched so tightly, she gasped inwardly.  This time, the pain didn’t go away, sending piercing twinges along her stomach lining. Anaya’s heart started to beat faster as fear snuck in. “Tunde.” Now that her thoughts completely cleared out, something wasn’t right about the empty, vacuum feeling at the base of her stomach. “Tunde!” she jabbed his chest with her elbow.

“Rrrr—Ooof!” Tunde grunted awake and blinked rapidly in the dark. “Huh?”

Anaya hissed as another sharp pain jabbed her upper abdomen. She tried to shift away but the movement sent cold shivers along her lower back. One hand moved to cup around the base of her stomach. “T-the baby… Oh God, the baby!”

He jerked upright and stared hard at his wife bowed over her waist. “Ana—what’s wrong?” One hand blindly reached for her shoulder. “Baby, what?”

Her other hand moved to brace the mattress so she could lift herself in an upright position. Then she felt it and jerked her hand back, letting out a scream that almost sent her startled husband flying off the bed. Something wet, dark and sticky was on the sheets, where she’d been laying down.  “Tunde, the baby!!”

Silas swallowed hard as he watched Tunde leaning his forehead against the wall. He shot to his feet when Tunde bumped his head in a repeated motion, hearing the dull sound in the quiet waiting room. “Bro…” he said quietly, placing a firm hand on Tunde’s shoulder.

Felicia pulled in her lips as she stared over Leeza’s bent head at the two brothers, her heart aching for Tunde and Anaya who was still in the ICU. When Anaya’s sister whimpered beside her, Felicia pulled her attention back to the girl and rubbed her back soothingly. She had no words of comfort, her own throat tight and dry. Thoughts of her honeymoon flew out of her mind since Tunde’s frantic call, something he never did. He barely sounded like himself, begging his younger brother to come to the hospital, unable to hear Silas.

“God please,” Anaya’s father muttered beside his daughter, his hands folded in reverent supplication and his eyes squeezed tight as he prayed. “Please save my daughter. Please.”

Amen… Felicia sighed heavily, shifting her eyes to the bowed, veiled head of Anaya’s quiet mother beside her husband. Her heart clenched tightly, annoyed and sympathetic for the woman at the same time. When the doctor had asked for the mother of the patient, she’d noticed Hadiza struggle within herself… almost like she wasn’t sure if she should’ve gone inside. At that brief hesitating moment, Josephine stepped forward while Hadiza hung back and followed the doctor inside. Tunde couldn’t go in, the doctor advised, not wanting both parents to be hysterical for Anaya’s sake.

“Oh Father,” Tunde groaned, his knees buckling under him. “Please… don’t do this.”

Felicia closed her eyes at the raw pain in Tunde’s voice and she whispered her own prayer for Anaya, the sweet-faced sister she’d never had. Please, make her better. Let Anaya and the baby live.

Tunde allowed Silas to steer him to a row of empty chairs along the back wall. His eyes were stinging with tears and he listlessly stared at the blurry linoleum floor, ears full of static. His heart was empty and his body tingling from a dull ache. Not that he could complain, especially when his wife and child were suffering alone.

The sound of measured footsteps against the linoleum floor approaching them made Tunde lift his head, hoping for some good news in the midst of his increasing despair.

 “It is a relief…” the soft and gentle voice of Hadiza drifted to her ears, lulling her from the deep sleep.

She forced open one eye and blinked almost immediately as her mother’s blurry image came into view. Her heart skipped a beat, she rejoicing inwardly that her mother was with her. She started to speak but her mother gave her a gentle smile, reaching out one hand to smoothen her brow. How she’d longed for her mother’s warm and reassuring touch, even if it was only for a little while.

Swallowing hard, she tried to move her hand to her belly but her mother eased one hand over hers to still her movement. “Be still… and rest,” Hadiza continued in a comforting whisper, her warm gaze a caress.

She blinked as tears started to gather, realizing now how much she’d missed those warm brown eyes on her, or the sound of Hadiza’s voice that never ceased to put her at ease. “Mama…”

“You have been through a lot, my daughter… my jewel,” Hadiza continued with a pained look on her face now.

She felt her heart picking up speed, not wanting Hadiza to stop smiling at her. Did she do something wrong again? “Mama…”

Hadiza sighed forlornly and lowered her eyes to where their hands were joined before lifting them back to her face. “I have been praying for you.”

“You have…?” she managed to squeak out, frowning. Her eyes lowered to her mother’s thumb gently tracing lines on her hand. “For what?”

“I am praying for peace, my daughter. And acceptance…of His will.”

A cold shiver trickled down her spine at her mother’s direct words and her gaze flew back to Hadiza’s face. Her heart skipped a beat at the serene smile on her mother’s face. “What…”

“And he is answering my prayers. All my many tears and prayers for you to be free. Just wait a few moments longer, dear daughter.”

“Free?” She could hear her own voice echoing amid her racing heartbeat.

Hadiza dipped her head, grinning even wider.

“I don’t understand…” She could feel her shoulders stiffening.

“My daughter,” Hadiza whispered fiercely, her own eyes glistening with tears. She gripped her hand tightly.

She shook her head, tugging her hand from her mother’s grip. “Free from what?” Then she felt it. The void. The cold shot down her legs, a dull ache along her sides. Her hand moved over her stomach. Her mouth went dry.

“It will all be over soon. Just wait and trust Him.”

“No.” Her throat was so dry, she barely could get that word out. Flickering her eyes to her mother, she could feel her jaw tightening. “Stop it.”

Hadiza’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Ana—“

Tears blurred her vision but she continued on, thankful for the veil to cover her mother’s visible hurt expression. “How come when you finally decide to talk to me, it’s to pray over the death of my child. How could you?”

From the blur, she could see Hadiza’s frame stiffen and the tears gathered all the more.

“How could you do this to me, Mama? I loved and trusted in you to come back to me. To be the mother you’re supposed to be for me. How could you wish this ill fate on me and my child?”

“You are blind and foolish to not understand His will!” Hadiza shot back, her voice shaking with fury. “I have tried to give you time to come to your senses, to see—“

“No Mama, it is you who should’ve come to your senses…” Her lips trembled and she squeezed her fingers against the cloth by her side. “It is you who should’ve changed your mind and really seen me. Your daughter, happy.” She blinked and in that brief moment, she saw it; the look of betrayal and hurt on Hadiza’s face. This time she didn’t falter, knowing the pain in her heart was deeper than what her mother could ever feel. “You should’ve blessed me as your daughter, but instead you cursed me… cursed me and my child.” She choked on a sob, her body convulsing to hold back the wave of anguish that threatened to overwhelm her.

Hadiza’s eyes widened in alarm at the sight of her child convulsing before her and started to lean in but immediately jerked back when her daughter recoiled from her touch. “Anaya…”

She stiffened at her mother’s incredulous whisper but regained her composure, pulling her eyes down to her trembling hands. “Please leave.” She didn’t cringe at the sound of her own cold voice echoing in her ears.

It wasn’t until her mother’s hesitant footsteps moved away from the bed and the sound of the door closing firmly behind her before Anaya’s shoulders sagged and she gave into her agonized sobs.

Gasping for air, Anaya snapped her eyes open to the blank ceiling tiles over her bed.  She stiffened, recalling the vivid memory of her nightmare and shuddered as a cold draft blew over her exposed temple. The sound of her own cries echoed in her mind and she cringed, closing her eyes.

“Cold?”

Anaya opened her eyes again and shifted them to her right. The sight of her husband sitting by the bed sent her heart racing. She took a deep breath and released it in a shuddering sigh. Her gaze traveled from his disheveled appearance; hair not brushed, haggard expression, rumpled plaid shirt he wore two nights ago. Her eyes widened, her blood frozen through her veins. “What day is it?”

He raised a bushy brow at her odd question but sighed. “Wednesday.”

She frowned. “How long…?”

“Three days.”

She drew in a sharp breath. “I’ve been sleeping all that time?”

“No.” His eyes said everything else he didn’t.

She felt compelled to ask. She had to. “I had a dream… about my mother.” Her body trembled at the memory.

“It wasn’t a dream.”

Anaya’s body went stiff, the vivid images of her mother’s warm smile replaced by a look of betrayed hurt flashed before her eyes. “It wasn’t?” she heard her voice crack.

Tunde sighed. “Your father took her home yesterday… He told me to apologize to you when you woke up again.” His voice was steady and calm but Anaya knew he was aware of her dream that turned out to be a real memory. She’d actually heard her mother admit to cursing their unborn child and she’d asked Hadiza to leave and never come back.

“Tunde…” Her body was in pain. Her mind was tired and Anaya wanted to cry again.

It didn’t take Tunde but a moment to move from his spot on the chair and perch on the bed, pulling his distraught wife into his arms. “Don’t hold it in. Cry if you want.”

And so she did, with reckless abandon because it was the only thing she could do for now.

<<Part 23 || Part 25>>

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