Kaito’s Choice

Kaito Takhi paused outside of the jewelry store before he went inside to look at the different displays of engagement rings.  He was convinced that Tamiko was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.  They met two years ago at a mutual friend’s house party and immediately hit it off.  She was stunning and he enjoyed getting to know her better.  He asked her to have dinner with him and they went to his favorite restaurant the following evening.

After that first date, they began dating.  She was the first girl he had taken home to meet his family.  Yes, things were serious between them and he was going to ask her to marry her.  All he had to do was find the ring.  He glanced at his watch.  It was a quarter to six.  He had until half-past six to browse before meeting Hana and her friend, Sally for dinner.

Sally Johnson was in Tokyo for the weekend.  She was staying with her friend and former university classmate, Hana.  On Sunday evening she would take the 47 minute train ride back to Yokohama and to her position as Early Years teacher at Horizon Japan International School.

After graduating from University, she decided to spend the summer in Japan.  She stayed with Hana in Tokyo.  They took day trips to other parts of Japan.  They spent the weekend in Kamakura where Hana’s parents lived.  Sally met Hana’s younger brother and sister.  They all spoke very good English and it was Hana’s father who suggested that she took a job teaching English in Japan for a year.  They taught her basic Japanese.  When she returned to New York, she enrolled in a Japanese language program.  At the end of the year, she applied for a teaching position in Yokohama and got it.

She has been here in Yokohama for two months and was still getting used to the people, the place and the culture.  On the weekends, she visited Hana and they hung out in the city.  Tonight, they were going to meet Kaito, her older brother for dinner.  Sally was looking forward to meeting him.  Hana had recently posted photos of the two of them on her Facebook page and Sally couldn’t get over how good-looking he was.  She realized that it was foolish of her to be into a guy she hadn’t even met and who had a girlfriend.

“Earth to Sally.”  Hana’s voice broke into her thoughts, startling her.  The taxi had stopped and she realized that they had reached the restaurant where they were meeting Kaito.

Elen Santiago“Sorry,” she mumbled before getting out of the taxi and stepping onto the sidewalk.  It was a beautiful, balmy evening.  The sun had set but the area where they were was ablaze with lights.  She could see the faces of the people walking by very clearly.  It was then she spotted him.

Hana saw him too and she waved.  “There’s Kaito,” she announced unnecessarily.  And started to head toward him.  Sally followed her.

As they approached, she saw him look first at Hana and then at her.  By the time they reached him, she was very nervous and her heart was beating really fast.  He was even more good-looking in person.  He looked first at Hana who hugged him and then at her.  Over Hana’s head, their eyes locked.  It was as if time stood still and there were just the two of them.  Everyone and everything faded into obscurity.

And then, Hana was pulling her forward until she was standing right in front of him.  “Kaito, this is my very good friend, Sally.  Sally, this is my brother, Kaito.”

Kaito held out his hand first, his eyes riveted to her upturned face.  “Hello, Sally,” he said in English.

She took his hand and felt a jolt of electricity pass through her, rendering her breathless.  “Hello, Kaito,” she managed to say.  “It’s good to finally meet you.”

His eyebrows arched.  “You speak Japanese?”  He sounded surprised and impressed.

Before she could answer, Hana chimed in.  “Yes, she does.  She took classes in New York and we’ve been teaching her while she was here last summer.  She’s teaching English in Yokohama.”

Kaito hadn’t taken his eyes off her.  “How do you like teaching in Yokohama?” he asked in Japanese.

“I like it very much.  Yokohama is amazing.”

“Did you get a chance to see the Sparkling Fireworks Show?”

“Yes, I did and it was—”

“Guys, can we continue this conversation inside?” Hana interrupted in English.  “I’m starving.”

They went into the restaurant and as they walked to their table, Sally was aware of the attention she in particular drew.  She was used to the locals staring at her, an African American woman.  Kaito sat opposite her and Hana beside him.  It was a nice, cozy place giving one the impression that they were dining in someone’s home.   She liked that their server described each dish as he prepared it right in front of them at the counter.

Over mouthwatering Kobe Beef and Chateaubriand steak and sushi chased down with Sake drinks, they talked.  Sally learned that Kaito was a Risk Analyst at an investment firm.  He helped businesses to determine the amount of financial risks that involved concerning investments and operational costs.  She could tell from the way he spoke that he loved his job and Hana mentioned that it was one of the top ten highest paying jobs.

Throughout dinner, they exchanged glances.  There was no doubt that they were attracted to each other but she kept reminding herself that he had a girlfriend.  Hana didn’t seem to notice anything but Sally couldn’t be sure.  She had to be careful not to give herself away.  After tonight, there was no guarantee that she would see Kaito again.  And in less than a year they would be worlds apart.

“You mentioned that your teaching assignment is a year long.  After it is finished, I guess you will be returning to America?”

She nodded.  “Yes.”

“She can always come to Japan for the summer or maybe I will go to New York instead.  I haven’t been there since I moved back to Toyko.  Maybe you can come with me, Kaito and you can bring Tamiko.  How is she, by the way?”

Kaito lowered his eyes.  “Tamiko is fine.”

Hana was about to say something when her cell rang.  She flipped it out.  “Hello?” A big smile spread on her face and she announced, “It’s Riku.”  Riku was her boyfriend.  Excuse me.”  She left the table, talking animatedly in Japanese.

Silence settled over the table following her departure. Sally could feel Kaito’s eyes on her and she raised hers.  For several minutes they just sat there, trying not to stare at each other and then he spoke in that low, cultured voice of his. “You did not seem surprised when Hana mentioned Tamiko.”

“Hana had already told me about her.”

“Tamiko has always wanted to go to America.  I too would like to see it.”

“You’ll like it.  New York especially.”

“Yes, I would like to see New York, especially.” His eyes held hers captive when he said that.

She swallowed hard, her heart pounding. “There’s a lot to see,” she muttered breathlessly.

“Is there a man in your life?” he asked quietly.  He held his breath as he waited for her answer.

She shook her head.  “No, there isn’t.”  Did she detect a look of relief on his face?

Kaito expelled his breath.  “Good, because I want to see you again,” he admitted.

“You can’t,” she protested.  “What about Tamiko?”

Before he could reply, Hana returned to the table and sat down.  “Riku wants to take me out,” she said.  “He’s going to be here in ten minutes.  Kaito, do you mind taking Sally back to my place?”

He shook his head.  “No, I don’t mind.”  He looked at Sally who was looking at Hana and thinking, I’m afraid to be alone with your brother because of what can happen between us…

“Thanks, Kaiko.  Don’t wait up for me, Sally.  I’ll be coming in very late.”

Kaiko paid for dinner, brushing aside their objections and they left the restaurant.  After waiting with Hana until Riku arrived, Sally and he walked to his sleek black Jaguar which was parked a little way from the restaurant.  After holding the door for her to get in, he walked around to the driver’s side and climbed in behind the wheel.  She strapped herself in as the engine roared to life and they pulled away from the curb.

“I have a confession to make,” he said.  “Before I met Hana and you for dinner, I was in a jewelry shop looking at engagement rings.”

Sally turned so that he couldn’t see the disappointed expression on her face.  “So, you’re going to marry Tamiko.”

“I was seriously considering it and that’s why I went to shop for a ring but I didn’t see any that I liked.  I was going to continue looking next week but after meeting you, I’m not sure about a lot of things anymore.”

“Do-do you love Tamiko?”

“I thought I did but after meeting you, I’m not sure.”

“Kaito, I don’t want to get involved with a man who’s already in a relationship with someone else and isn’t sure how he feels about her.”

“You’re right, Sally.  I got carried away by my attraction for you.  I put you in a very awkward position and I am sorry.”

“I–I just don’t want to get hurt.”

“The last thing I want to do is to hurt you or Tamiko.”

“I hope you figure out what you want.”

“Me too.”

For the rest of the ride, they spoke about other things and then he was walking her to the door.  Using Hana’s spare key, she opened it.   She turned to face him.  “I would invite you in but I’m afraid of what would happen if I did,” she said.

His eyes darkened.  “Then, I had better leave now.  Goodnight, Sally.”

“Goodnight, Kaito.”  She turned and went inside, closing the door quietly behind her.

Kaito walked away, his mind spinning, his heart racing and his body aching.  I’m attracted to her in ways I can’t explain.  The feelings she stirs in me are the kind you read about in novels.  What am I going to do about her and Tamiko?  All the way back to his place, he tried to figure out what he was going to do.  He cared for Tamiko but he never felt that spark with her.  When he met Sally, there were fireworks.  Even now, he got butterflies in his stomach just thinking about her.  He wanted to see her again so badly he could almost taste it but she wouldn’t have anything to do with him, and rightly so, until he figured out what he wanted.  Somebody was going to wind up getting hurt and he hated himself for that.

He decided that he needed to get away and go to some place where he could think clearly.   He booked a flight to Okinawa where he spent two weeks at a luxury beach hotel.   Early in the mornings, just before the sun rose, he went swimming and then for long walks along the beach afterwards.  He thought about how surprised and disappointed Tamiko sounded when he told her about this trip.  Most likely she wanted to come with him but he explained that he had a lot on his mind and needed to be alone for a while.  They spoke on the phone every other day.

In the evenings he ate dinner and then went up to his room afterwards.  He sat on the terrace with a panoramic view of the sea thinking about Sally.  He wondered what she was doing at that moment.  Was she thinking about him?  Did she want to see him as much as he wanted to see her?  He remembered what she said before they parted company.  “I would invite you in but I’m afraid of what would happen if I did.”  He knew only too well that if he had stayed, he would have lost his head…

He closed his eyes as he tried to imagine what it would be like to make love to her and he sucked in his breath sharply when raging desire surged through his body.  Agitated, he sprang to his feet and walked over to the rail, gripping it until his knuckles gleamed whitely in the twilight.  He had a decision to make and soon.

Sally was in her room trying to read but she was distracted.  She couldn’t stop thinking about Kaito.  Every time she closed her eyes, she saw his face, his eyes, his lips…Frustrated, she closed the novel and got up.  She walked over to the window and leaned against it, looking out.  Several weeks had passed since the night they met.  She wondered where he was and what he was doing.  Was he thinking about her?

She would never forget the look in his eyes when she told him why she couldn’t invite him in when he dropped her off at Hana’s apartment.  They were ablaze with the same passion that stirred inside her.  She knew that if he had stayed they would have ended up making love and she wouldn’t have forgiven herself afterwards.  He had a girlfriend and until he sorted out whether or not he still wanted to be with her, she had to stay away from him.  It was hard, though.  She wanted so much to see him again.  It was all she could think about.  It was a good thing that she didn’t have his number or she would have been tempted to call him.

Sighing heavily, she turned away from the window just as she heard a knock on the door.  Wondering who it could be, she quickly went to find out.  When she opened the door and saw Kaito standing there, her heart leapt.  For several minutes they just stared at each other.  His eyes were restless on her face and hers eagerly drank in the sight of him.  “Hello,” she finally said in Japanese.

“Hello,” he replied.  And then in English he said, “I had to see you.”

“Come in,” she said, stepping aside so that he could enter.  After closing the door, she turned to face him, her heart racing.  “How are you?”

“Much better now that I’m here with you,” he said quietly.  He couldn’t stop staring at her and he ached to touch her.  “Sally, ever since we met, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.

“What about Tamiko?”

“That’s why I’m here.  It’s over between us.  After I returned from Okinawa, I went to see her.  I felt awful, especially when she began to cry.  The last thing I wanted to do was to hurt her but I couldn’t help the way I felt about you.  Before I went away, she sensed that there was a change in my behavior towards her but she didn’t suspect that there was another woman until I told her.  I’m glad that nothing happened between you and me before I ended my relationship with her.  It would have been unforgivable.”

“Yes, it would have been.”  She felt sorry for Tamiko because she knew that if she were in her shoes, it would take a very long time for her to get over Kaito.  “Are you hungry?  We can grab something to eat and then go to Yamashita Park.”

He shook his head.  “No, I would rather stay here.” He reached out and pulled her into his arms, his eyes smoldering as they met hers briefly before dropping to her lips which parted.  Groaning, he bent his head and kissed her.  She put her arms around his waist and kissed him back.  The kisses became very passionate, their breathing harsh and heavy and soon they were tearing at each other’s clothes, anxious to be rid of them and to feel flesh against flesh.  In a matter of minutes, they were under the sheets, making love as the bed creaked in protest.

Hours later, they got dressed and had dinner at a restaurant near Yamashita Park, the seaside park with its long walkway which connected Yokohama’s best attractions.  Afterwards, they went for a walk in the park, holding hands.  It was late when he walked her back to her place and before they parted company, they made plans to see each other the following evening.

Sally stood on the Osanbashi Pier watching the Kanagawa Shimbun Fireworks. They were spectacular.  Kaito joined her and she smiled as he handed her the ice-cream.  It had been ages since she had one.  Her engagement ring glinted in the lights that blazed in the sky.  She laughed when she saw that the pink ice-cream was in the shape of an elephant.  Kaito put his arm around her waist and she leaned against him as they watched the fireworks.

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Free Again

Myra was waiting outside her building for a taxi when she saw Cody coming down the sidewalk.  She hadn’t seen him since the breakup.  He looked so good in that uniform.  Nothing had changed.  She was still crazy about him.  Her heart began to pound as he walked over to her.  Although she was in heels, he still towered over her.  His eyes traveled slowly over her and then back to her face.  She could see the admiration and desire in them.  “You look beautiful,” he said quietly.

“Thank you.”  She knew she sounded a little breathless but she couldn’t help it.  He had that effect on her.  “How have you been?”

“Busy,” he replied.  “I just finished my shift and was on my way home.  What about you?”

“I’ve been busy too.”

“You’re all dressed up.  Do you have a date?”

“Yes.”

“Who is he?”

“A friend of a friend.”

“How long have you been going out with him?”

“A couple of weeks now.”

“It kills me that you’re with another guy, Myra.”

She swallowed hard.  “You’re engaged, remember?”

“I know,” he muttered tightly.  “But that doesn’t change the way I feel about you.  I miss you.  I miss us.”

She closed her eyes.  “Cody…”

Without warning, Cody cupped her face between his hands and his mouth sought hers.  Unable to help herself, she kissed him back.  Passersby glanced at them.  A cop kissing a civilian–it wasn’t something you would normally see on any given day, but the two of them were oblivious to the attention they were drawing.

For several minutes, they exchanged passionate kisses filled with intense longing before she pulled away.  When he would have reached for her, she moved away.  “We can’t do this,” she cried.  “You have a fiancee and I have to move on.”  Just then, her taxi pulled up.  “Goodbye, Cody.  Take care of yourself.”  She hurried to the taxi, trying to keep it together.  The last thing she wanted was to break down in front of him.  She opened the door and got in.

She couldn’t bring herself to look at him as the taxi drove away.  She blinked back the tears that threatened to fall.  I have to move on.  I have to get him out of my system.  We have separate lives now.  His life is with Emilia and mine may be with Delmar, if things work between us. Delmar is a great guy but…She closed her eyes.  He’s not Cody.  No man will ever be Cody.

EAMON-43Cody watched the taxi drive away, his face flushed before he turned and headed in the opposite direction.  He got into the parked squad car and sat there for several minutes, his hands gripping the steering wheel.  All sorts of emotions churned inside him–jealousy, desire and anguish.  On top of that he was tired from a long day but he knew that trying to relax when he got home was out of the question.  All he could think about was Myra and that she was in another relationship.  What did you expect, he chided himself.  That she would put her life on hold for you?

A couple of years had gone by since Myra broke up with him but nothing had changed where his feelings for her were concerned.  He was still madly in love with her.   When she broke up with him he was devastated.  He felt like a jerk for not telling her that he was engaged before they became involved but he was afraid of losing her.  Which is what ended up happening anyway.  He shook his head now.  What a royal mess of things he had made. What on earth was he going to do now?  And then it dawned on him that marrying Emilia would be a huge mistake.   Emilia deserved to spend the rest of her life with a man who loved her, not someone else.

He was going to stop by her place later and break the news.  He wasn’t looking forward to it.  She was an amazing woman.  Any guy would be lucky to have her.  I’m just not the guy for her.  He started the engine and pulled away.  Ten minutes later as he pulling into his neighborhood, he noticed the driver in front of him was driving erratically.  His shift had ended fifteen minutes ago but he couldn’t let this go without further investigation.  He pulled the car over and approached it with caution.

Myra let herself into her apartment.  It had been a pleasant evening.  Dinner and dancing but at the end of it she knew that she couldn’t continue seeing Delmar.  After she told him that it wouldn’t work out between them, she hailed a taxi outside of the restaurant and came straight home.  She knew she had done the right thing in breaking up with him.  He deserved better.  All through dinner she had been distracted, thinking about Cody and the kiss.  Her face felt hot at the memory.

Maybe the best thing to do was to put dating on hold for now–at least until she had gotten over Cody.  In the meantime she would travel, find a new hobby and maybe volunteer.  Her mind was whirling with all these thoughts and ideas which sounded great but were they practical?  A nice hot shower and some hot chocolate were exactly what she needed right now.

She was about to go to bed when the doorbell rang.  Who on earth could be stopping by at this late hour?  Shaking her head, she went to find out and her heart skipped a beat when she saw that it was Cody.  She opened the door.  “It’s late,” she said.  She couldn’t prevent her eyes from traveling over his tall frame clad in the white shirt and jeans.  She wanted to reach up and brush the hair back from his forehead.

“I know it’s late,” he replied, his expression tense.  “And I’m sorry for stopping by uninvited but I had to see you.”

“Come in.”

“I have something very important to tell you.”

“It must be for you to come here at this late hour.”

“I broke off my engagement.”

Myra’s eyes widened.  “Really?” she exclaimed.  “Why did you do that?”

His eyes darkened on her face.  “I think you know why, Myra.”

“Why don’t you spell it out for me so that there’s no room for any misunderstanding.”

“I can’t marry Emilia when I’m still in love with you.  It wouldn’t be fair to her.”

“So, you’re no longer engaged.”

“No.  I’m a free man now and I’m yours if you still want me.”

They were moving closer to each other until they were standing inches apart.  “I still want you,” she murmured.  “I never stopped.”

“Even when you were with him?”

“Yes, even then.”

“So, are you still going to see him?”

“No.  I broke up with him.”

“So, you’re a free woman.”

“Yes and yours if you still want me.”

His response was to pull her roughly in his arms, making her catch her breath.  “I’ve never stopped wanting you,” he muttered thickly before he kissed her.

He ended up spending the night and two years later, they got married.

If Two People Are Meant To Be Together, Eventually They’ll Find Their Way Back.

Source:  The Balance Careers; Heartfelt Quotes

 

Questions for Dad

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“Dad, are you and Mom going to get back together?” Miguel asked his father.

José shook his head.  “No, mi hijo.”

“Why not?”

“We don’t love each other anymore.”

“Is it because of Juanita?”  Juanita was the woman José was living with.  They met a year ago at a mutual friend’s barbecue.

“No.  Things changed between your mother and me long before I met Juanita.”

“Are you going to marry Juanita?”

“One of these days, yes.”

“So, she’s going to be my step-mother?”

“Yes.”

“Does that mean that I will have to call her Mom?”

José shook his head.  “No, son.”

Miguel looked relieved.  He looked about him.  They were a little ways from shore.  His brow creased.  Looking down in the water, he asked, “Dad, do you know if there are any sharks here?”

“No, Miguel, there are no sharks around here.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m positive.”

“Okay.”

“Any more questions?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Good.  Now, let’s just enjoy our time together.”

165 Words

This was written for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy and Joe. For more information visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Ife’s Gift

African woman in head scarfHe was passing by the store when he saw it.  He stopped in his tracks and stared at it for several minutes before going inside.  He asked the woman there to see it.  It was a very beautiful and made of very fine material.  It was soft to the touch.  It would be perfect for Ife.  He bought it and asked the woman to wrap it for him.  He thanked her and left the store.  He walked to where the rental car was parked and got in it.  As he drove off, he tried to imagine Ife’s reaction when she saw it.  Would she guess why he bought it?  Theirs hadn’t started out as a conventional relationship.

He had returned one afternoon and caught her using the toilet.  She begged him not to report her because she could lose her job at the hotel and she needed the money to take care of her daughter.  He agreed not to report her on one condition–that she slept with him.  It wasn’t something he ever imagined that he would force a woman to do but he wanted her.  She had no choice but to accept his condition and after she finished cleaning that afternoon, he took her to bed.  After that, he made sure that he was there when she was.  He always felt guilty afterwards but his desire for her was stronger than his sense of decency.

He thought about the day when he had rushed back to the hotel to be with her.  It was raining cats and dogs and he got caught in it.  By the time he got to his suite, he was completely drenched.  She was cleaning out the bathroom when he opened the door.  She turned to find him leaning against the frame, in his wet tee 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.”

kentasakura_39082075_671478666560898_3687727708541812736_n“No,” he said.  “I want you to join me.”  He removed his tee shirt and the rest of his clothes, his eyes never leaving her.  He stood there naked, his desire for her obvious.

She nodded and 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.

Over the course of time, he fell in love with her.  His time there in Kampala was drawing to an end and soon he would be returning to Tokyo.  The thought of not seeing her again was unbearable.  He had to think of something.  Right now he was considering moving to Kampala and start a business.  He couldn’t imagine returning to his life in Tokyo after having met Ife.  Life without her was no life at all.

Ife looked at the neatly wrapped package on the table.  It had a card with her name on it.  She frowned.  It wasn’t her birthday.  Why was he giving her this?  He didn’t have to.  What did it mean?  She was hoping that it meant he had feelings for her.

Carefully, she unwrapped the present and set the paper aside.  She looked at the white box before she opened it.  She removed the tissue paper and her eyes widened when she saw the beautiful head wrap scarf.  She took it out and examined it.  It was soft and expensive looking.  She walked over to the mirror and wrapped it loosely on her head.  It looked really good.  It was the most beautiful and expensive thing she had ever had.

She admired it for a few minutes longer and then she took it off.  She put it back in the box and closed it.  She left the box where she found it.  It was time to go to work.

He let himself into the suite, his heart racing.  He was nervous.  His eyes fell on the unwrapped box.  Did she like the scarf?  He hoped so.  It was more than just a gift to him.  She was in the bedroom, tidying but came out when she heard him.  They stood there, staring at each other for several minutes and then she approached him.  “I-I wanted to thank you for the beautiful scarf,” she said.

“Do you like it?”

“Yes, I like it very much.”

He smiled.  “Good.  The moment I saw it, I wanted to get it for you.”

“Thank you.  It-it was very kind of you.”

His expression changed.  “I didn’t do it out of kindness, Ife.” He moved closer to her, his breathing quickening.  He’d never been so nervous in his life.  “I did it because I love you.”

Ife swallowed hard, her heart was pounding and her head was spinning.  He loved her.

He continued.  “I don’t know if you feel the same way about me.  I know you want me.”  His eyes darkened at the thought.  He wanted more, though.  He wanted her love too but realized that he wasn’t entitled to it.  To be quite honest, he didn’t deserve it, not after the way he took advantage of her in the beginning.  “In two weeks, I will be leaving Kampala and returning to Tokyo.”

“You’re leaving in two weeks?” She knew that it was inevitable and that one day, he would be leaving but so soon?  She couldn’t hide her distress.

He saw the expression on her face and hope flickered in his eyes.  It gave him the courage he needed to say, “Yes and I would like you to come with me.”

She stared at him, incredulous.  “You want me to go with you to Tokyo?”

“Yes.”

“But what about my daughter, Amahle?”

“I want her to come too.”

Ife’s mind was spinning.  He loved her and he wanted her and to go to Tokyo with him.  The thought of living in a strange country was daunting.  She had never traveled outside of Kampala.  What would life in Tokyo be like?  Would Amahle and she live with him?  What kind of work would she be able to do?  She wasn’t going to miss Kampala even it was her home.  Life here was a constant struggle and she was tired of it.

He watched the play of emotions on her face and reached for her hand.  “I know that moving to a strange country is scary,” he said.  “But, don’t worry, Ife.  I’ll take care of Amahle and you.”  He drew her closer to him, his eyes meeting hers in a steady gaze.  “I love you and I want to marry you.”

Her eyes widened.  “You want to marry me?” she exclaimed.  This day was just full of surprises.  It was surreal.

He nodded.  “Yes, I do. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“I’m a divorced woman.”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“You would take care of another man’s child?”

“When I marry you, she becomes my child too.”

Tears glistened in her eyes.  “I don’t know what to say,” she murmured.

He reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and took out a small black box.  “I hope you say yes,” he replied as he got down on one knee.  He opened the box and took out the ring.  He couldn’t wait to put it on her finger.  He held her hand and glanced up at her.  “Ife, will you marry me?”

“Yes.”  The word came out as a sob.

He rose to his feet and pulled her against him.  “I love you.”

“I love you too, Kaito.”  It was the first time she had ever said his name.

He bent his head and kissed her.  She put her arms around his neck and kissed him back.

Two weeks later, they were on their way to Tokyo.  Ife wore the head wrap scarf which looked really nice with the new dress he had bought her.  She was happy and as she settled into the middle seat on the plane, she couldn’t help smiling.  No more cleaning hotel suites, no more sanitation issues and her daughter would be able to go to a school which had toilets.  Most of all, she was happy because she had found love.

Some gifts are big. Other are small. But the ones that come from the heart is the best gift at all – Tinku Razoria

The Missionary/Calm #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

 

“When you went off on a missionary trip to Africa, we certainly didn’t expect you to come back with a wife,” Mrs. Cartland exclaimed, her expression one of disdain as she looked at her son.

Rolf sighed.  “Naija isn’t my wife, Mother.  I’m not sure why you think she is.  I’m sure I was clear in my letter that if I didn’t do something, she was going to be taken out of school and married off to a man old enough to be her grandfather.  In Nigeria, girls like Naija and younger are given in marriage without their consent.”

“And so you decide to bring her to England.  What about her parents?  I can’t imagine that they would let you just whisk their daughter away like that.”

“Her parents and I came up with an arrangement which will benefit all parties.  They were going to give her away in marriage because they are poor and need the money.  The man they were going to marry her to, has money but I offered them more money in exchange for marriage that Naija come to England instead.  I will put her through university.  After, she graduates, it is up to her if she wants to remain here or return to Nigeria.  Her parents agreed that if she should return, she is not expected to be married off but can get a job so she could continue to support them.  While she is here, I will send money to them on a regular basis to keep them.”

“You’re going to send them money?” Mrs. Cartland was aghast.  “And how long do you propose to do that?”

“Until Naija can afford to support them herself.”

“And when exactly will that be?”

“When she finds steady employment after graduating from university.”

“I fear, my Dear, that she’s going to take advantage of your generosity and you will find yourself supporting her for longer than is necessary.  You’re far too indulgent and gullible when it comes to the dregs of society.”

Rolf’s lips tightened but he held his temper in check.  “Mother, I appreciate your concern, but Naija isn’t like that at all.”

Mrs. Cartland didn’t look at all convinced and was about to say something else when her daughter, Rosalind spoke up.  “Rolf, let’s go for a walk.  It looks absolutely gorgeous outside.  Mother, please excuse us.”

Grateful for the interruption, he rose to his feet and after excusing himself, he followed her out of the room.  “Thank you for that,” he said to Rosalind as they walked down the hallway.

She glanced at him.  “No problem.  I could see that you were trying very hard not to blow your top.  And Mother can be very irritating at times.”

“At times?”

Rosalind laughed.  “All right.  Most of the time.”

Rolf’s lips twitched.  They were outside now and it was a gorgeous day.  “Let’s take a walk by the stream.”

“What a splendid idea!”

The stream was about a ten minute walk from the family’s mansion.  “Do you remember when Dad used to bring us here on a Sunday morning?  While he and I fished, you fed the ducks pieces of bread from the egg and cheese sandwiches Mrs. Hogwarth made?”

“Yes and I remember getting pecked by one of them and Dad had to bandage my hand with his handkerchief.  I was scared of the ducks after that.”

“Yes, that’s how Mrs. Hogwarth found out that you fed her sandwiches to them and she clobbered you.”

“Yes, I was scared of her after then too.  Oh, Rolf, what a riotous childhood we had.  I miss Dad.”

“I miss him too.”

“He would be so proud of you, being a missionary and all.  It was something he himself loved.  He always regretted leaving the field when he married Mother.  She never understood his love for it.  She preferred being the wife of a government minister rather a missionary’s.”

“I love being in full-time ministry, helping communities in London and overseas.  It’s how I met Naija.”

“You’re in love with Naija, aren’t you?” Rosalind commented, looking at him closely.

He blushed.  Nothing ever escaped her.  “Yes,” he admitted quietly.

“I see the way you look and act around her.”

“Can you imagine how Mother would react if she knew?”

Rosalind waved her hand dismissively.  “It doesn’t matter what Mother or anyone else thinks, Rolf.  You have to follow your heart.  It’s your life, your future and your happiness that are at stake here.  Remember, Mother wanted me to marry Reginald but I married Maxwell instead?  Reginald was a good man but I didn’t love him.  I was mad about Maxwell and we have been happily married for twenty-six years now.”

“I think you made an excellent choice.  Maxwell is an exceptional man.”

“Thank you and yes, he is.  Does Naija know how you feel about her?”

He shook his head.  “No.”

“Don’t you think that perhaps it’s time you told her?”

His heart lurched.  “I don’t know,” he said in alarm.

“Come on, Rolf, don’t be such a coward.  Sometimes, happiness comes by taking chances.  I took a chance with Maxwell and looked how that turned out.”

What she said made a lot of sense but the thought of revealing his feelings to Naija was daunting.  He would have to think about it some more.  “I’ll think about it,” he said after a while.

Rosalind slipped her arm through his and smiled.  “All right,” she said.  “Sleep on it, then.”  They continued walking alongside the river, enjoying the sunshine and the quietness.

****************************************************

Naija was already at the park, waiting when Rolf got there the following afternoon.  He had just come from a staff meeting.  She smiled when she saw him and the large brown paper bag in his hand.  He smiled as he sat down beside her.  “Have you been waiting long?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “No.  I got here about five minutes ago.  Thanks for getting this.  I’m starving.”

He opened the bag and took out a box of Fish and Chips and handed it to her along with a plastic knife and fork.  He took out the other box.  On the bench between them, he put the cups of flavored milk tea and the straws.   After he said Grace, they tucked into the food.  It tasted as good as it looked and smelled.  As they ate, they talked about different things.   And all the while, he was thinking about what Rosalind had said.  He wanted to tell Naija how he felt but he was terrified.

“What’s wrong?” Naija’s question startled him.

“Nothing,” was his quick response.  A pause and then, wanting to shift the attention away from himself, he asked, “What are you plans after you graduate from university?  Will you stay here in England or return home to your family?”

She thought about it.  “I’ll stay here,” she said.  “I’ll find a job or I can become a missionary and work for you.”

“Being a missionary is an admirable vocation but what are your dreams?  What would you really like to do with your life, Naija?”

“I like writing.  I like to write about what I see around me.”

“Sounds like you’re thinking of becoming a journalist.  That’s very good. Perhaps, you’ll let me see some of your writings.”

“I will,” she promised.  “I keep a journal.  It’s almost full.  I write about university, what I observe on the campus, what I hear on the News and the conversations I have had with my host family.  I’ve written a lot of things about you as well.”

His eyebrows arched.  “Really?  And what exactly have you written about me?”

“How you’ve been so good to me and how blessed I am that you came into my life.  I will always be indebted to you, Rolf.”

A muscle began to throb along his jawline.  “I’m the one who’s blessed,” he replied.  Their eyes were locked.  His heart was racing.  This is foolish, he thought.  I’m behaving like a lovesick fool over a girl almost half my age.  She just sees me as her benefactor, nothing more.  All she feels towards me is gratitude. 

“That isn’t all I wrote about you,” she said shyly.

He swallowed hard.  “What else did you write about me?”

She looked nervous now.  “Rolf, I know that I’m only eighteen years old but, I–I was hoping that our age difference wouldn’t matter to you.”

“What are you saying, Naija?”

“What-what I’m saying, is-is that I want us to-to be more than friends.”

He expelled his breath in an unsteady sigh.  “Are you sure this is what you want?” he asked, his expression tense.

She nodded at once.  “Yes,” she replied.  “It’s what I’ve wanted since we met.”

“Oh, Naija,” he cried, his cheeks suffusing with color.  He set the empty boxes aside and rose to his feet.  He reached down and pulled her up.  “It’s what I want too.”  He pulled her against him and his eager lips found hers.  Overhead the setting sun cast its crimson glow on them.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt –  Calm at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Sources: Erika and Eva Toh TravelsLondon City Mission

Not One of the Crowd

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not – Jeremiah 20:9

Do you sometimes feel like the prophet Jeremiah? He was called to be a prophet. Life for him was not at all easy. He couldn’t marry and have a family. His community hated him and they didn’t want to hear what he had to say because his messages were of doom and gloom. They were probably thinking, “who does he think he? These were people he grew up with. They were his neighbors. It got so bad that Jeremiah didn’t want to speak any more. He tried to keep silent but he couldn’t. He couldn’t keep silent when he had a message to share with the people that could result in their salvation.

Do you pass up opportunities to witness to others because you don’t want to be criticized, ridiculed, ignored or shunned? Are you tired of your friends making fun of you because you talk to them about God? Do you feel like you are an outsider because the people you once hung out with want nothing more to do with you? You cramp their style. You are a drag because you don’t want to go to nightclubs or the bars or hang out at the mall anymore. Your boyfriend dumped you because he’s not into that Bible stuff.

What do you do? You do what Jeremiah did. Realize and accept your new life as a Christian and that you have work to do. Accept that life at times will be difficult because you serve God. Jesus had to deal with family, neighbors and friends who rejected and questioned His ministry. He faced persecution and opposition from the religious leaders. In spite of all of these things, He finished the work God had sent Him to do. Follow His example. Continue to share your faith. Those who want to hear it will listen. Sooner or later, the seed will fall on good soil.

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Giulia

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Photo by Sue Vincent

She looked at the odd shaped structure.  It was covered in moss.  Everything else seemed to fade into the background.  It reminded her of when she visited the Accademia Gallery and she saw Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of Israel’s most beloved king, David.  Her eyes were fixated on the figure, moving towards it as if hypnotized.  The other works of art faded into insignificance.  She spent as long as she reasonably could, just admiring what for her was the masterpiece of masterpieces.  So engrossed was she in the art that she failed to notice the stranger who had been observing her.

He stood behind a tree, watching her now.   His face was pale–as if he were seeing a ghost.  He recalled the first time he saw her.  He had decided to visit Florence for the first time since he moved to Paris and was standing in the gallery, observing the other works of art while everyone gravitated to the statue of David.  He never could understand people’s fascination with it.  There were other greater sculptures and personally, he preferred Bernini’s David.  He was contemplating taking the train to Rome the following day and visiting the Galleria Borghese when she walked past him.  She didn’t notice him standing there just like now.  He felt the color drain from his face.  The resemblance was remarkable.  She looked so much like Giulia.

Giulia.  Twelve years had passed and yet, he still couldn’t come to terms with her death.  Every where he went, he imagined that he saw her.  His heart ached for her.  His life felt empty without her.  His mind and dreams were filled with her.  She haunted him.  His love for her was still strong and no passage of time seemed to quell it or diminish it.  Other women were interested in pursing a relationship with him but he put them off.  He couldn’t imagine himself being with anyone else.  Giulia was the only girl for him.  When they met, she was a slip of a girl.  Seventeen, with thick black hair that tumbled down her back ending at the small of her back.  Her eyes were tawny and framed by thick lashes.  Her lips were like pink pomegranates and just as sweet.  Everyday after school, she met him on the Ponte Vecchio.

He was much older than her but that didn’t seem to bother her.  She was as madly in love with him as he was with her.  He would have married her if–if she hadn’t fallen into the Arno River one evening.  They were supposed to meet but he was late.  When he finally showed up, the place was swarming with police and he learned that a girl had fallen into the river.  One witness said that the girl jumped into the river.  He refused to believe that it was suicide.

He later discovered that she was pregnant.  One of her friends said that she was afraid of what her parents would do if they found out.  They were strict Catholics.  That was what she was going to tell him that day when he was late.  He would have promised to marry her and take care of her and their child.  Why did she jump?  Was it out of desperation?  Did she think he wasn’t going to show up?  He never forgave himself for being late and a couple of weeks after her funeral, he packed up and left.  And now he was back.  And here he was watching a girl who bore a striking resemblance his beloved Giulia.

Suddenly she turned and she saw him.  Lips pursed, she marched over to him, her hair flapping about her shoulders.  She stopped a short distance from him.  “Why are you following me?” she demanded.

For a moment, he was at a loss for words.  “I’m not following you,” he denied.

“Then, why are you here?”

“It’s a public place,” he said.  “I was just walking through.”

“You were standing behind that tree watching me.  Why?”

“Well, you remind me of someone.”

“Do I really or is that one of your pick up lines?”

“You remind me of a girl I used to know.”

“What happened to her?”

“She died twelve years ago.  You look so much like her.”

“I’m sorry for your loss.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better be heading home.”

“Don’t go, Giulia.”

“My name isn’t Giulia,” she informed him.

“I’m sorry.  It’s just that you remind me so much of her.  How old are you?”

“Twenty-eight.”

“She would have been twenty-nine.”

“Look, I really must be going.”

“Please, may I see you again?”

She shook her head.  “No.  And please don’t follow me any more.  I’m not Giulia.  She’s dead.  You need to move on.  Goodbye.”  She turned and walked briskly away.

He stood there watching her retreating figure.  She was right.  It was time to move on.  But how could he?  He couldn’t get over Giulia.  She was in his heart, his mind and in his blood.  He just couldn’t go on without her.  They say that time heals all wounds but that wasn’t true.  His weren’t healing.  The pain was as deep now as it was ten years ago.

Sinking to the ground, he buried his face in his hands.  “Oh, Giulia,” he whispered brokenly.   At the funeral, he had stood far from the mourners, not wanting anyone to see him, especially her parents.   After they left, he went to the grave and threw himself on it, sobbing, the pain overwhelming–like it was now.

After several minutes, he got up, dried his eyes in his sleeves and headed in the direction of the Arno River.  An hour later, they found his body.  The police said that suicide was “likely”.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Way-stone at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.