Lavinia and Franco

curvy3Lavinia was standing outside of the office building waiting for the courier.  He had an important package for her boss and she wanted it to be given to her directly.  It was a mild afternoon.  As she waited,  Teresa, whom she couldn’t stand walked up with her boss, Franco, one of the company’s directors in tow.  They were returning from one of their lunches.  He was a gorgeous man and Lavinia couldn’t deny that she was attracted to him.  Their eyes met over Teresa’s head.

“Waiting for someone?” he asked.

“Yes, the courier.”

“Aren’t you cold?” Teresa demanded, eyeing her critically.

“No, I’m not,” Lavinia replied shortly.  Why should it matter to her that she wasn’t wearing her coat?

“I hope you don’t have to wait long,” Franco said.  The expression on his face made her mouth go dry.

She smiled.  “I hope not too.”

He held the door open and his gaze lingered on Lavinia before he followed Teresa into the building.

Lavinia couldn’t shake the feeling that he was attracted to her too but what about Teresa?  Just then, the courier came and after signing for the package, she went up to the office.  She went straight to her boss, Mitch’s office and handed him the package.  Then, she went into the kitchenette to fix herself a cup of Herbal tea.  She was just about to return to her desk when Teresa walked in, her expression thunderous.

“I saw the way you were looking at Franco a few minutes ago when were standing outside.”

“I don’t know what you think you saw.”

“Forget it, Lavinia.  You aren’t his type.”

Lavinia’s mouth tightened.  “And I suppose you are.”

Teresa flicked her glossy black hair over her shoulder with a well manicured hand.  “Yes.”

“Why, is it because you look like those half-starved bundles of twigs who call themselves fashion models?”

Teresa’s eyes flashed at her.  “There’s no need to get nasty because Franco prefers his women to be slim instead of being heavyset.

Laconia bristled.  “For your information, I’m curvy NOT heavyset.”

“You’re still not his type so you need to stop throwing yourself at him.”

“Girl, you’re out of your mind.  I have NEVER thrown myself at Franco.”

“Whenever he leaves his office, you’re always there trying to get his attention.”

“I don’t have to try to get any man’s attention.  And for your information, he’s the one who strikes up a conversation every time I see him.  Maybe you should be telling him to stay away from me. Excuse me.  I’ve got work to do.”  She turned and sauntered away before Teresa could say anything.

Lavinia went back to her cubicle and sat down at her desk, fuming.  If she weren’t a God fearing woman, she would have accidentally on purpose spilled her tea on Teresa’s Dolce & Gabbana blouse.  What Franco saw in her, she had no clue.  Granted she was stunning and smart but she was vain and impossible to get along with.  None of the women in the department liked her.

Her phone rang and her heart leapt when she recognized the extension on the display.  Taking a deep breath, she picked up the receiver.  “Yes, Franco.”

“I know that you’re probably busy but can you spare a few minutes?”

“Sure.  I’ll be right there.”

After she hung up, she stood, smoothed her dress and her hair before she headed to his office.  She had the pleasure of walking past Teresa’s desk and straight to Franco’s door which was slightly ajar.  She smiled when she saw the other woman’s miffed expression as she closed the door behind her.

MitiaFranco was sitting behind his desk.  He had removed his jacket.  The white shirt he wore accentuated his swarthy complexion.  When she walked over to him, she saw the way his eyes traveled slowly and deliberately over her and she tried to ignore her body’s response.  She stood in front of his desk, looking down at him.  “You wanted to see me?”

He leaned back in this chair, placed his hand over his chin.  Did he have any idea of how delectable he looked at that moment?  “Have dinner with me tonight.”

After she recovered from her surprise, she replied rather breathlessly, “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t make it a habit of going out with another woman’s man.”

He frowned.  “What are you talking about?”

“You and Teresa.”

“What about us?”

“Don’t play dumb with me.  I know that you and she are in a relationship.”

“Yes, a business relationship.”

“But I’ve seen the two of you go out for lunch several times.”

“Those were all business lunches with other clients.  There has never been anything personal or romantic between Teresa and me.”

“Maybe you should make that clear to her.”

“I will.  Now, will you have dinner with me?”

“Sure.”

He grinned making her heart flutter.  “Good.  I’ll pick you up at seven.”

She reached for the one of the sticky pads on his desk and she wrote her address and number before tearing the sheet off and handing it to him.  When he reached over took it from her, he deliberately let his fingers touch hers.  Her eyes flew up to his face and what she saw there made her heart skip a beat.  “I–I’d better go,” she stammered.

“What’s the hurry?” he asked as he got up from the desk and walked around to where she stood.

“I-I have letters to type, photocopying, filing and–” She was nervous now.  This was the first time she had ever been alone with him.

He touched her face, making her breath quicken.  “Eres una mujer muy hermosa.”

It was the first time she had heard him speak Spanish and it sounded very sensual.  “What-what did you say?”

He moved closer.  “I said that you’re a very beautiful woman.”

“Thank you.”  She wondered what Teresa say about that.  “I didn’t think I was your type.”

“You’re exactly my type.  You’re beautiful, sexy and highly intelligent.”

“I thought Teresa was more your type.”

“Teresa is a very attractive woman but she doesn’t do anything for me.  You, on the other hand, drive me crazy…” He reached out, caught her by the waist and pulled her against him, making her gasp.  His smoldering eyes raked her upturned face before his mouth found hers.  Her eyes fell shut as his lips moved passionately on hers and her arms wound themselves about his neck.  She couldn’t believe that she was standing there in his office kissing him.

The knock on the door jolted them and they broke apart.  He leaned against the desk, breathing heavily and she frantically straightened her clothes and ran her trembling hand over her hair.  After he managed to compose himself, Franco called out, “Yes?”

The door opened and Teresa walked in.  She stopped half way, her gaze shifting from one to the other.  “The Board meeting is about to start in ten minutes,” she said.

Franco reached for his jacket and pulled it on.  “Thanks, Teresa.  I will head over now.”

Teresa lingered for a few minutes and then she left, leaving the door ajar.  Lavinia turned to face him.  “I really should get back to my desk.”

“I’ll see you later,” he said before he leaned over and kissed her on the side of her neck, making her tremble.  When he drew back to look down at her, his face was flushed.  He walked past her and out of the office.

She leaned against the desk for a few minutes, her mind whirling, trying to catch her breath and then, she left.  As soon as she sat down at her desk, Teresa was standing over her, livid.  “What were you doing in Franco’s office?” she demanded.

Lavinia raised her head and looked her calmly in the face and said, “That’s between Franco and me.  Now if you will excuse me, I have work to do.”

Teresa flounced away.  When Franco returned from the meeting, he called her into his office.  Since that day, there weren’t any more confrontations between Lavinia and her–not if she wanted to keep her job.  And Franco signed her up for the Getting Along in the Workplace course.  After their dinner date that night, Lavinia and he officially began dating.

Toshiro Cuts Ife Loose

20180427_05062375_MIt had been months since she last saw him.  He left in November and now they were in the middle of March.  It was the wet season.  It rained last night and today the place felt nice and fresh.  It was a Friday afternoon.  Her shift had ended but before going straight home, she decided to come to the beach for a while.  Miremba said that she would be at the mall with her friends so there was no need to rush home.

Ife stared out at the sea.  It had been a long time since she came here.  It was within walking distance of the hotel where she worked.  She remembered Mr. Kobayashi telling her that he came here sometimes when he finished his business early before heading back to the hotel.  Was she here now because she hoped to see him?

Yet, she couldn’t believe that he would be here in Kampala.  They would have seen each other by now.  No, he had to be in Tokyo.  She wondered when he would return to Kampala.  She missed him.  Her mind went back to the last time they were together before he left.  It was a Friday and it was raining cats and dogs.  She was beginning to wonder what was keeping him when she heard the front door close.

She was inside the bathroom cleaning when he opened the door.   She turned to find him leaning against the frame, in his wet shirt and trousers. “You’re soaking wet,” she exclaimed. “You should get out of those clothes.”

“I’m going to take a shower,” he said.

“All right,” she said, moving away from the wash basin. “I’ll wait in the bedroom until you’re done.”

“No,” he said. “I want you to join me.” He removed his shirt and the rest of his clothes, his eyes never leaving her face.  He stood there naked, his desire for her obvious.

Heart racing, she nodded and got undressed. He closed the bathroom door and taking her by the hand, led her to the shower. They stepped inside and he slid the door shut. After turning on the water, he turned to face her.

Without saying a word, he pulled her into his arms and began to kiss her. His kisses deepened when she responded and soon he was pressing her against the tiles while his lips plundered hers, the water beating down on his back. They made love in the shower and afterwards, he ordered room service.

Ife sighed.  She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice him.

62_0318b9a0-9dce-48f6-a55e-47f72173ee34Toshiro watched her from a distance.  He positioned himself in such a way that she couldn’t see him.  He had followed her from the hotel.  He had been about go into the hotel and to leave a message at the front desk for her  when he saw her coming out of the entrance.  His heart ached when he saw her.  And his resolve began to weaken but he had to do what he came to Kampala to do.

“Hello, Ife.”

She swung around.  “Mr. Kobayashi,” she exclaimed, looking startled to see him.  “What are you doing here?”

“I followed you.”

“Did you just arrive in Kampala this morning?”

“No.  I arrived on Wednesday.”

“But that’s two days ago.  How come we didn’t see each other?”

“I’m staying at a different hotel.”

“But why?”

“I thought it would be best.”

“Do you want me to come to this other hotel to see you?”

He shook his head.  “No, Ife.  I came back to Kampala to tell you that it’s over between us. ”

“Why are you doing this?  Is it because you’re married?”

“No, I’m not married.  I’m doing this because it’s the decent and right thing to do, Ife.  I took advantage of you because I wanted you so much I couldn’t think straight.  I have never once imagined that I would resort to blackmailing a woman into sleeping with me but that’s what I did.  I’m disgusted with myself.”

“Mr. Kobayashi—”

“You’re free of me, Ife.  After today, you will never see me again.  I hope that one day you will be able to forgive me for what I have done to you.”

“Toshiro…”

That was the first time that he ever heard her say his name.   It made his heart stop and his stomach flip-flop.  His eyes darkened on her face as he pulled her roughly against him.   His head swooped down and his mouth found hers.  He kissed her passionately and she eagerly responded.  For several minutes, they stood there on the deserted beach, kissing wildly.

“Watashi wa, anata o aishiteimasu, Ife,” he moaned against her lips before he abruptly pulled away.  “Goodbye, Ife,” he muttered tightly before releasing her and walking briskly away.

Ife watched him go until she couldn’t see him anymore.  Then, she collapsed on to the sand and sobbed.

Next up is Miko Explains Things.

Toshiro Returns to Tokyo

Z8VeQHoI_oToshiro was back in Tokyo.  He returned two weeks ago.  It was hard being away from Kampala.  All he could think about was Ife and how much he missed being with her.  All along he knew that what he had been doing was wrong but he couldn’t help himself.  He wanted Ife so much.  She filled him with a desire that was so potent and raw that it scared him.

He could tell from the way she responded when they made love that she wanted him too.  And that realization was what he used to rationalize his actions.  But his conscience continued to trouble him.

And he felt badly about Asuka.  They had been going steady for some time now and still he hadn’t broached the subject of marriage with her.  His family expected him to pop the question soon and he imagined that her family might expect the same thing.  He knew that Asuka was in love with him but he realized that he didn’t feel the same way and that was before he met Ife.

Speaking of Asuka, he was supposed to meet her for a coffee at the cafe where they usually went.  It was within walking distance from his apartment.  No doubt she was already there waiting for him.  She was always very punctual.

They hadn’t seen each other for months and when he was in Tokyo, he made sure that they spent time together.  This year, however, it was different for him.  He didn’t look forward to coming home anymore.  For him, Kampala was home.  It was where Ife was.  He closed his eyes briefly.  Oh, Ife, I wish I could be with you right now.  Was she thinking about him?  Did she miss him?  She’s probably glad to be rid of you for a while because of what you’re doing to her, an accusing voice retorted and he flinched.

woman-leaning-on-table-holding-cup-2467464

As soon as he walked into the cafe, he spotted Asuka.  He went over to her and she stood up, her expression one of delight.  She was obviously very happy to see him.  She put her arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips.  Then, she sat down.  “I ordered you Hot Tea.”  She put it in front of him.

“You’re welcome,” she said.  “You must be happy to be able to speak Japanese again.  How are things in Kampala?”He attempted a smile.  “Thank you.”

“The usual,” he said.  “Well, while I was there, journalists were protesting alleged abuse by the police.  They saw what was happening as an attack on press freedom in Uganda.   Then, there’s growing concern among some Ugandans about Chinese funding because of the debts they see other countries struggling with.  And then there’s the charcoal trade which is decimating forests.”

“Last week Tuesday was World Toilet Day so I was reading up about it online and came across an article which said that there’s a toilet crisis in Kampala.  It said that there aren’t public toilets for about 1,200 people, I think and that mud tinged with feces washes into homes during heavy rains.  How disgusting!”  She made a face and shuddered.  “How could people live like that and why isn’t the government doing something about it?”

“Yes, the sanitation crisis is growing worse.  It’s not only happening in Kampala but in South Africa, India and other places.”

“We’re so lucky, Toshiro.  We have access to clean toilets at home and in public.  I think that sometimes we take these things for granted.  I wanted to help so I sent a donation to one of the charities which is helping to provide clean toilets for the people in Africa.  Using public toilets isn’t safe for the women.  They could catch diseases or even get raped.  Can you imagine that?  And children aren’t safe either.  I read about four children who drown in pit toilets.  I still get choked up just thinking about them, especially, the three year old. ”

“Let’s not talk about this anymore because it’s upsetting you.”  He couldn’t bear to hear it anymore.  It made him think of Ife and how she could have lost her job if it had been discovered that she had used the toilet in his suite that day when he caught her.  He wondered if she was one of those people who didn’t have toilets in their homes.

“You’re right.  Let’s talk about something else.  The hotel where you stay, is it nice?”

“Yes, it is.  It’s a 5 star hotel.”

“What do you do when you’re not on business?”

“I go sightseeing or I stay in my room and catch up on the News.”  That wasn’t true.  He hardly went sightseeing and in the evenings, he was in his suite with Ife.

“Maybe one of these days, I will visit you there.   I read that it’s a relatively safe place for tourists.  Besides, I won’t be alone.  You will be there to protect me.”  She reached over and squeezed his hand.  “It’s so good to see you.  I always miss you so much every time you go away and I count the days when you’ll be back.  When do you go again?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe next month.”

“But not during Christmas and New Year’s I hope.”

“I don’t know.”

“Why do you go there so often?”

“Business.”  That wasn’t true anymore.  Ife was his reason for going to Kampala now.

“Well, I hope you plan to spend Christmas here.”

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he sipped his tea.  I wonder what Christmas is like in Kampala. 

“My parents are wondering what your intentions are.”

He stared at her blankly.  “What do you mean?”

“Well…we’ve been dating for five years now and they are wondering if we are going to settle down anytime soon.  We’re both in our thirties now.”

Toshiro sighed.  “Asuka, I have something to tell you.”

She looked wary now.  And she set the cup of coffee down on the table.  “What is it?” she asked.

“I haven’t been completely honest with you.  You asked why I go to Kampala so often and I told that it had to do with business.  Well, it doesn’t–not entirely.  This year I have been involved with a woman I met there.”

Asuka stared at him.  “What do you mean by involved?”

Toshiro could feel his face getting warm.  “I’m in a relationship with her.”

“But you’re in a relationship with me.”

“I know–”

“Does she know about me?”

“No.”

“Are you sleeping with her?”

“Yes.”

Asuka’s face was pale now.  Hurt and pain etched her features.  “Are you in love with her?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t believe this.  I have kept myself pure for you because I believed that we were going to get married.”

“You told me that you couldn’t sleep with me because you’re a Christian.”

“Is that why you’re sleeping with her?”

No.”

“Well, I guess this is it for us.”  She got up and pulled on her coat and scarf.   Grabbing her handbag, she muttered, “Goodbye, Toshiro” before she turned and walked away.

He sat there for a long time, feeling terrible.  The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt Asuka.  If he hadn’t met and fallen in love with Ife, he would have married her.  In time, he would have grown to love her the way she loved him.

He finished his tea which had gotten lukewarm and then got up and left the cafe.  He didn’t go straight home.  Instead, he walked for a while, thinking.  He had to sort out what he was going to do about Ife.  He hadn’t banked on falling in love with her.  Initially, it had been an extremely strong sexual attraction which he thought that he would get over after a while.

He knew what he ought to do but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.  This whole thing had turned into a great mess.  He needed to talk to someone.  Miko.  He called her immediately on his cell.  Her voice mail came on.  He left a message asking her to call him.

She returned his call a couple of hours later.  He asked her if he could stop by her place the following day because he really needed to talk to her.

Next up is Toshiro’s Exploitation.

Source:  AP News

The Conflict

Yusuke-Ogasawara-2019-Rake-Magazine-012

Try as he did, he couldn’t run away from his conscience or God.  He was in a taxi on his way to a conference at the Protea Hotel in Entebbe, trying not to think about what he was doing to Ife when he heard the words, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, it is sin.”  They were coming from inside the car.  The driver was listening to a sermon on the radio.  Unfortunately, for him it was in English.  He tried to tune it out the man’s authoritative voice because it made him squirm in his seat but he couldn’t.  He ended up listening to the entire sermon before he arrived at the business center where the conference was being held.

It was quite a feat trying to concentrate on the business at hand and not be distracted by his thoughts of guilt and self-recrimination.  He was thankful when they broke for lunch.  Lunch was a painfully boring experience but the food was good although he didn’t have much of an appetite.   The rest of the afternoon went quickly and he was on his way back to Kampala.  After the driver dropped him off at the hotel, instead of going inside, he walked to the beach.

He needed time to think and sort out the conflict between his conscience and his desires which was raging inside him.  In his mind, he was thinking, I know that what I am doing is wrong and my conscience is telling me so but I can’t help myself.  And what about Ife?  She’s a Christian but I’m making her sin.  Every time she gets into bed with me, she’s sinning.  How could I do that to her?  How could I be so selfish?

When he reached the beach, he removed his shoes and socks and walked bare feet in the sand.  He walked for some distance before he stopped and dropped to his knees.  His mind was in a turmoil and his heart was heavy as he thought about Ife and that he was soon going to be leaving her.  Tomorrow, he was flying back to Tokyo and he had no idea when he would be returning to Kampala again.  The company decided when he came and he hadn’t been informed of any upcoming trips after he returned from this one.

I really want to do what is right, but I can’t.  Head bent, hands shoved in his pockets, he closed his eyes.  Images of Ife and him in bed flashed across his mind.  He always felt guilty afterwards but his desire for her was stronger than his moral sense.  He knew that he should have ended this unholy alliance soon after it began but the mere thought of not being with Ife any more was unbearable.  Right now, his longing for her was so overpowering that he couldn’t stand it any longer.  He had to get back to his suite right away.  She should be there now.  His eyes flew open.

As he scrambled to his feet, he felt a couple of drops on his arm.   Looking up at the sky, he could see that it was about to rain.  He scrambled to his feet, grabbed his shoes and socks and headed up the embankment to the street.  He stood beside a tree to put on his socks and shoes and jacket.  Just as he started towards the hotel, the rain came down.  It fell in buckets.  He ran all the way to the hotel and by the time he got to his suite, he was soaking wet.

Next up is Toshiro Returns to Tokyo.

Sources:  Bible GatewayMeetings Booker

The Christmas Sweater

il_1588xN.1617920774_tfc8.jpgMarva stood there at the cash register, wishing she could take off the sweater.  She had gotten some dirty looks.  One man grumbled, “Another feminist.” Another asked her, “Are you saying that Santa should be a woman?”  “Are you pushing that gender equality stuff?” Parents glared at her.  One mother shook her head and hustled her kids to another cashier.  Others didn’t seem bothered about it at all while others thought it was silly.  “Everyone knows that Santa is based on St. Nicholas.  If you want to wear such a sweater, go for it.  I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“It’s a bit silly, if you ask me,” a woman standing in the other line remarked.  “Everyone knows that Santa is a white bearded man in a red suit and there’s Mrs. Claus.” Another woman said, “She’s just trying to get attention.  Just ignore her.”

All day she was subjected to unkind remarks and unsavory looks although there were a few smiles and  chuckles.  She couldn’t wait for her shift to be over.  And when it was, she rushed to get her coat and put it on.  Her supervisor, Anne looked apologetically at her.  “I’m sorry you had to go through that,” she said.  “If you weren’t married, I would have let you wear one of the other sweaters.”

“You mean nobody else wanted to wear it.”

“That too.  Well, at least we know now that the sweater’s not popular with most shoppers which means that the sales, if any, will be very low.  I will have to get in touch with the account manager and let her know that the product isn’t selling and to discontinue it.  Thanks again for helping with the promotion.”

“I think I made some enemies.”

“Don’t worry.  Tomorrow, our busiest day before Christmas will be featured on the local news at noon and Wendy will let them know that this was a promotion of our latest Christmas wear and she will talk about them at length.  Everyone will see that you were wearing it not by personal but for professional reasons.  You did well today.  Go home and rest up for tomorrow which will be like a zoo.  And you wear what you want–as long as it’s red or green–to get people into the Christmas spirit.”

Marva smiled.  “I can do with a nice warm bath,” she said.  “I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and early.  Have a good evening.”  She turned and walked away.  As she was heading towards the doors leading into the shopping mall, a young woman intercepted her.

“I just wanted to say, it’s your sweater, it’s your thoughts…so, it’s your business.  Ignore the haters.”

Marva smiled.  “Thank you.”  She didn’t bother to say that it wasn’t her sweater and those weren’t her thoughts.  And her reason for wearing it was strictly business.  “Have a Merry Christmas.”  She popped into Moore’s to get a couple of shirts for Adrien and then headed to their luxury condo facing the CN Tower and within walking distance from the waterfront.  He should be home by now.

_MG_9919-Recovered.jpgWhen she let herself into the spacious unit, a tantalizingly delicious smell wafted into the foyer and she quickly removed her boots and coat.  She scurried to the bedroom to hide the bag with his shirts in her side of the closet and then, hurried into the kitchen. Adrien was standing in front of the stove and turned when he heard her.  He froze when he saw her sweater.  He placed his hands on top of his head.  “You wore that to work?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  It was part of a promotional event.  You have no idea how badly I wanted to take it off.  I got nasty looks and people made all sorts of remarks.”

“I’m not surprised.  People love Santa.  They act as if he’s real.  Sometimes, it seems like Christmas is more about him than about Jesus.”  He went over to her and kissed her on the lips before hugging her.  “By the sounds of it, you had a really rough day.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Why don’t you go and get undressed while I draw you a warm bath.  By the time you’re done, dinner will be ready.”

She smiled and rumpled his hair.  “You read my mind,” she said.  “Thank you, Baby.”

“Anything for you.”  He released her and taking her by the hand, he led her to the master bedroom and while she got undressed, he got the bath ready for her.  It felt so good being submerged in the warm, sudsy water and so relaxing too.  She rested her head against the side of the tub and closed her eyes.

Twenty minutes, dressed in red silk pajamas, she emerged from the bedroom and went into the dining-room where a candlelit dinner awaited her.  Adrien held the chair for her to sit down.  He leaned over and kissed her on the nape of her neck before he went to the head of the table and sat down.  “Did you enjoy your bath?” he asked as he unfolded his napkin.

Marva nodded.  “Yes, I did.  Thank you.  Dinner looks and smells amazing.”

He smiled then they bowed their heads as he said a prayer.  “Bon appetit.”

She eagerly tucked into the Sole Meunière with perfectly golden roast potatoes and salad.  He was a much better cook than she which was why he did most of the cooking.  “This is delicious,” she said.  “You should have been a chef.”  He was a

“I love cooking, yes but I love my job as a Construction Manager even more.  Besides, you are a fantastic cook too.  It’s one of the reasons why I married you.”

She laughed.  “What are the other reasons?”

“You’re beautiful, sexy and I’m crazy about you.”

“I like those reasons.”

“When we met five years ago, I didn’t think you would be interested in me.”

“Why because you’re Jewish and I’m Christian?”

“Yes.  And I’m not Jamaican.”

“I’m a couple of years older than you but none of these things matter when two people love each other.  I admit that when you took me to meet your family, I was very nervous because I wasn’t sure if they would approve of you marrying a black Christian woman but they welcomed me and treated me like I was a part of the family.”

“My family knows what it’s like to be discriminated against and that’s why they make it a policy to love Jews and non-Jews alike.”

“That’s how it should be.  In both religions, we are taught to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

“Yes.  My parents arrived in Toronto yesterday.  They will be staying with Anouk and Michel.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing them and celebrating Hanukkah with them.”

“And I look forward to celebrating Christmas with you, especially the part where we get to kiss under the mistletoe.”

Marva laughed.  “Is that why you hang one in every room?”

He smiled.  “Yes.  Would you like dessert?”

“Sure.  What’s the dessert this time?”

“Your favorite.”

Ten minutes later, they were lounging in the living room having Rugelach while watching a couple of their favorite Christmas movie classics.  It was after mid-night when they finally decided to turn in.  When they were snuggled under the covers, he turned on his side to face her.  “I hope our evening together made up for your rotten day at work.”

Marva was lying on her back.  She turned her head towards him as she placed her hand on his thigh.  “It did, Honey.  Thank you.”

He smiled.  “I’m happy to hear that and you’re welcome.”

“I learned a very valuable lesson wearing that Christmas sweater.  People judged me unfairly because of what I was wearing.  They made all sorts of assumptions about me.  It was no different from how I’m treated because of my color and my accent.  I had a choice not to wear the sweater but I wore it because my manager asked me to.  It reminds me of the times when God asked me to do something I didn’t want to do or wanted to get out of like Moses did when He asked him to go to Pharaoh and ask him to let His people go.  During those times, I had to lay aside my feelings and doubts and misgivings and just trust God.  Wearing that sweater has given me an idea for my own line of clothing.  You know I’ve always wanted to get into designing my own clothes but was too afraid to go for it.  Now, I think that I will do it.”

Adrien leaned over and kissed her on the mouth.  “I think that’s a fantastic idea.”

“You do?”

“Yes.  I’ve seen your sketches, remember?  Maybe now’s the time for you to do this.”

“Maybe.  It would be nice to start my own business.”

“Speaking of business, how about you and I getting down to our own business right now…”

Marva giggled as he disappeared under the covers.

Sources:  Trade Schools; Bon Appetit;

Toshiro Goes to Bunga

large-1553102039-540d93f2f5c1e1b733fcad18fe580f0bThe taxi pulled up in front of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bunga and Toshiro got out.  Last night, he decided that he would pay a visit to Ife’s church.  He wanted to surprise her.  His heart pounded as he stared at the building.  He was nervous.  After the taxi drove off, he walked slowly towards the first set of doors which were wide open.  People were filing in.  There were two men standing there talking.  As he passed them, they warmly greeted him and he smiled.

There were a few people in the foyer, talking.  One of the women standing there, greeted him and handed him a bulletin.  He thanked her and went inside the sanctuary.  He glanced around at the pews, searching for an empty seat when he spotted a Japanese woman who was sitting beside the aisle.  There was an empty seat beside her.  He made his way over to her.  She glanced up when he said “Good morning” in Japanese and smiled.

“Good morning,” she replied

“May I sit beside you?”

“Of course.”

“Thank you.” He bowed before he gingerly squeezed past her and sat down.

“You are a visitor,” she said as he sat down.

He nodded.  “Yes.”

“I’m Ichika Sato.  What’s your name?”

“Toshiro Kobayashi.”

“Did you come far?”

“I came from the Kampala Serena Hotel.”

“Oh.  My neighbor, Mrs. Basemara works at that hotel.  She isn’t here today but that’s her daughter, Miremba over there.  I will introduce you after the service.”

Toshiro followed her gaze and saw Miremba talking to a mature couple.  She was quite tall for her age and very pretty.  He turned his attention back to Mrs. Sato.  “How long have you been living in Kampala.”

“For about fifteen years.  My husband and I moved here after we retired.”

“He’s not here with you today?”

“No.  He died five years ago.  I flew back to Japan with the body for the funeral.  He wanted to be buried there.”

“I’m sorry about your husband.  Do you have any children?”

“Yes.  Three.  Two sons and a daughter and eight grandchildren.  My youngest grandson is currently here in Kampala.  He goes back to Kyoto at the end of the month.  What about you?  Are you from Tokyo?”

“No.  I was born and raised in Yokohama but moved to Tokyo after I graduated from Tsurumi University.  My sister moved to Tokyo last year but our parents are still living in Yokohama.  When I’m not abroad on business, I visit them every other weekend.”

“I have a niece who lives in Yokohama.  It’s a beautiful port city and is extremely close to Tokyo but you don’t get a lot of tourists.”

Toshiro smiled.  “I think that’s why my parents prefer Yokohama to Tokyo–less tourists.”

“The service is about to start.  I really would like to continue our conversation.  If you’re not in a hurry to get back to Kampala, I was wondering if you would have lunch with me.  I don’t live far from here.  I will invite Mrs. Basemara and Miremba to join us.”

“I would like that very much, Mrs. Sato.  Thank you.”  The music began and the congregation stood.  Mrs. Sato sang from a hymnal while he followed along on the screen in front.

It was a very good service.  He especially enjoyed children’s story and the special music.   The sermon, What’s So Amazing About Grace was powerful.  The two statements which impacted him were:  “Grace is anything that I need, but don’t deserve that I could never repay, but God gives to me anyway.   Grace is the face that God puts on when He looks at my failures, my faults and my flaws.”  

After the service, Mrs. Sato and he chatted for a while and then after the church sanctuary was almost empty, she signalled to Miremba to join them.  She immediately went over, a bright smile on her face.

“Hello, Mrs. Sato,” Miremba greeted her with a hug and kiss.  When she straightened, her eyes shifted to Toshiro.  “Are you a relative?”

Toshiro shook his head.  “No.  I only had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Sato today.”

“Miremba, Mr. Kobayashi is here on business and he’s staying at the hotel where your mother works.”

Miremba’s face brightened and she held out her hand.  “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Kobyashi.”

He smiled and shook her hand.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miremba.”

“Mom isn’t here, unfortunately.”

“I have invited Mr. Kobayashi to have lunch with me.  I would like your mother and you to join us.”

“Sure.  I’ll tell Mom.  Are you ready to leave now?”

“Mrs. Sato nodded.”

Merimba looked at Toshiro.  “Do you mind walking?” she asked.  “Mrs. Sato lives in the same apartment as Mom and me.  It’s about ten minutes from here.”

Toshiro shook his head.  “No, I don’t mind at all.  It’s a beautiful day.”

“Let’s go, then,” Mrs. Sato said and stood up.  She preceded Miremba and Toshiro out of the sanctuary.  At the entrance, she introduced Toshiro to the pastor.  He was very pleased when Toshiro told him how much he enjoyed the church service and he invited him to visit again soon.

They left and walked to the apartment building.  When they got there, Miremba left them and went to get her mother.  Ife was in the kitchen filling a vase of flowers with water.  She turned off the tap and carefully arranged the flowers she had bought in the vase.  “You’re home early,” she said.  “Usually, you would stay for a while longer.”

“Mom, Mrs. Sato has invited us to have lunch with her.”

“That’s very nice of her.”  Ife finished arranging the flowers.

“Guess who else is going to be there?”

“Her grandson, Kento?”  Ife took up the vase to take it to the sitting area.  With a smile, she walked past Miremba who followed her.

“No.  It’s isn’t Kento.  It’s Mr. Kobayashi.”

Ife almost dropped the vase.  She swung around and stared at her daughter.  “Mr. Kobayashi is at Mrs. Sato?” she exclaimed.  “But what is he doing there?”

“Well, he was at church and–”

“He was at church?”

“Yes.  He’s very handsome.”

“Why didn’t he tell me that he was going to be there?”

“Maybe he wanted to surprise you.  Mom, let’s go.  We don’t want to keep Mrs. Sato and him waiting.”

Ife turned and carried the vase over to the table.  After she set it down, she rushed past Miremba.  “I have to change,” she said.  Hereith bw

Several minutes later, they were in Mrs. Sato’s apartment.  Ife’s eyes immediately sought Toshiro who was staring at her.  She walked over to him.  “Mr. Kobayashi, I didn’t expect to see you here,” she said, feeling a bit flustered.  He looked so handsome in his suit.  And the way he was looking at her made her heart flutter.  “Miremba told me that you were in church.”

He smiled.  His fingers itched to touch her lovely face.  “Since I’ve been in Kampala, I haven’t been to church.  After you were kind enough to tell me about yours, I decided that I would come today.  I hope you don’t mind, Mrs. Basemara.”

“No, no.  I don’t mind at all.  I’m sorry I wasn’t there.  How-how did you find it?”

“I like your church.  I may visit it again.”

Mrs. Sato observed them with a smile.  It was obvious that there was something between them although they tried their best to make it appear otherwise.  “Let’s have a word of prayer and then eat,” she said.  She asked Miremba to pray and then they tucked into the tasty meal she had prepared the day before.  They talked and Mrs. Sato shared stories of her mission trips with her husband.  Soon it was time for Toshiro to head back the hotel.

He bowed to Mrs. Sato as was customary in the Japanese culture.  It was a sign of respect and expression of thanks.  “Thank you for inviting me to your home and for your hospitality.”

Mrs. Sato smiled.  “It was a pleasure having you.  I’m sure I will see you again.”

Toshiro smiled.  Then, he turned to Miremba and held out his hand.  “It was a pleasure to meet you,” he said as they shook hands.

Miremba smiled.  “Anata ni mo aete yokatta.”

Toshiro’s eyebrows rose.  “You speak Japanese?” he asked, sounding impressed.

Miremba looked pleased.  “Mrs. Sato and her grandson, Kento have been teaching me.”

Mzuri,” he replied and she laughed.

He turned to Ife who said to him, “I’ll come down to the lobby with you.”

He said his goodbyes to Mrs. Sato and Miremba before he followed Ife out of the apartment.  They didn’t say anything to each other as they walked to the elevator.  As they waited for it to arrive, he turned to Ife.  “Miremba is a lovely girl.  You must be very proud of her.”

“I am.”  The elevator came and the doors opened.  They stepped inside and she pressed the button for the ground floor.  “What did she say to you in Japanese?

“She told me that it was a pleasure meeting me too.”  He turned towards her and his eyes darkened as they searched her face.  Groaning, he reached for her and pulled her against him.  His lips found hers and plundered them.  They kissed for several minutes before he raised his head to gaze down into her upturned face.  “I’ve been dying to kiss you all afternoon,” he muttered thickly.  “I can’t wait to see you later.”

“I’ll be there at the usual time,” she promised, trying to catch her breath.  The elevator stopped and he released her.  They exited and she waited with him outside of the building until his taxi came.

Next up is Ife’s Loss.

Sources:  Japan Guide; Bunga SDA Central Church; EdarabiaSermon Search