✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Kiss 馃拫馃拫馃拫馃拫 18+ Episode 110 || 111 || ....120✍️✍️✍️✍️

{Loving him with all his flaws.}
“Why do you have my dad’s card?” He raised the card to show me.
Hmm. I swallowed nervously. Was it necessary for him to see this now? We just began to live with each other after what I learned about him. Can we not be happy for now, for a while, for a little longer? Knowing Novan, he’s not going to let it slide or take it easy especially after knowing that I lied. He’d still get angry after whatever romance we had.
I got up into a sitting position and adjusted myself to embrace the new storm.
This is the times I wish Novan was somebody else, that he’s different. If it was to be someone else, this will not be taken really seriously but this is Novan. He makes a big issue out of everything and this is not even a normal issue. This is about his dad. The same man who hurt him and left without looking back.
God, whatever it is to come, I pray it goes well.
I can already imagine Novan storming out and driving away. He can do it. It won’t take him a second.
Love appears beautiful in romantic novels. That is what we’re made to believe. The girls seem to get their flawless prince charming and if there is anything like misunderstanding, it only takes a single ‘sorry’ to patch everything, and the problem vanishes. In those books there are no fights, it’s always Rosy and happy times. Why does mine seem different? Or is it that the authors of those books chose to hide the truth about love? Okay, this is real life. Novan and I is what happens in this life. No. I think ours is beyond ordinary. I mean, why do we fight all the time?
I really don’t know what to think now but I still strongly believe that love in novels is different from love in the real world. It’s not all hearts and flowers like some authors portray it.
“Mariana!” Novan called and my eyes swept to him. There’s no smile on his face left on his face.
Oh not again?. I’ve had enough already.
“Novan please.” I cried.
He doesn’t really look angry yet but I know it won’t be for long. He just hasn’t connected the fragments yet.
I really don’t wanna fight with him at this time. I’m not prepared for today’s own at all. I fear I won’t be able to handle it and I can’t escape not telling him the truth this time. It’s just gonna make it worse.
“Please what? Please what, Mariana?”
I could feel the anger building up probably after realization might have dawned on him.
I met his eyes, trying to apologize through them. To tell him to drop this. That I don’t want to. But he wouldn’t look at me.
“I asked a question. Why do you have that man’s card?” He demanded.
” I saw him.” I drag my ass on the bed to the edge to sit in front such that, he stood before me.
You did what? You really met him?”
I nodded slowly.
“I did meet him but..”
“Damn it, Mariana! What is your shit?!” He threw the lamp on the bedside table against the wall and it shattered.
I jumped up and tried to hold him but he backed away.
“You see what you’ve been doing? If I react you’d say I’m mad meanwhile you’re the one who gives me reasons to. You know how I can’t deal with these things and yet you do it. What was the need to lie to me? If you had let us talk about it then we wouldn’t be doing this today…”
“I’m sorry…
“Don’t tell me that. You fucking lied to me. You lied to me!”
“That’s why am sorry. I really wanted to tell you but..”
“But what? I knew you were fucking lying when you told me it slipped from my dad’s mouth. I had my doubts but because I trust you, I bought that damn crap you sold to me. Why must you keep it from me? What the fuck was the actual need for that?”
“I didn’t want you to get angrier than you already were and it was your birthday.”
“So you thought me finding out this way would’ve been better? You got to be kidding me.”
“Look I’m sorry. Let’s not drag this further.” I pleaded.
“You met my dad, Mariana. After all that I told you about him. What won’t you do? You’re so inquisitive and it so damn annoys me to an insane extent. After meeting him where did you go from there? What else did you do?”
“Nothing. Please stop this.”
” No. You did something. I know you. Let me take a guess, you traveled to Russia to meet my mum after that didn’t you?”
I’m just knowing her mum is in Russia. Why would I go there?
“You don’t have to draw conclusions Novan. I met your father met me yes. I didn’t go to any Russia. The hell I even know that it was Russia she was.”
“How did you not know? You’re that nosy. Times without number I told you to quit prying on me. I told you to stay off my issues. I even told you who that man was, something I’ve never done just to make you stay away from him but no. You want to know everything and be in control. What did you expect, that I will smile at you for calling me that stupid name? You should know better than even let me hear it.”
Hate is a strong word and Novan bears that in his heart for his parents. This isn’t going to be easy.
“How long are you going to keep doing this? Why don’t you let it go and just be free? Your father met me and we talked. I know he did bad things to everyone but he’s here asking for a second chance from you..”
“Cut it out! Second what? Is this what he told you? He brainwashed and showcase false emotions to buy your sympathy and you happily fell for it. Do you think he’s something good? Wait till he starts ruining you and you will know what of a demonic monster he is. I’m telling you. I want nothing, absolutely nothing to do with that man. I rather die than smile to his face in the name of I forgive you. That’s stupid and I’m not!”
“Why so much bitterness? He’s still your father no matter what. Why do you wanna hold on to the past? Let it go and you’d be free.” My voice was as calm as possible.
“I’m not forgetting anything and I don’t want him closer to me. I loathe him.”
“I’m not telling you to forget about anything. I just want you to let go of everything that he put you through, the pain and his rejection, everything. Let them go. You don’t have to keep it in, it should be a memory.” He’s still leaving in what happened and it only increases the hatred.
“Forgive him Novan, it won’t take anything from you. Please.”
“I can’t.” He closed his eyes. “It’s so hard. I won’t be able to. I’m happy hating him.”
“You can try.”
“I can’t.”
“Attempt it first.”
“Jesus! I said no! Leave me the hell alone and stop behaving like a fucking priest!” He yelled.
“Fine! I don’t know how you even live with yourself with so much hatred burning in you!”
“What does that mean?” He turned to me.
“I’m just trying to tell you that it’s good to have a forgiving heart. It brings peace to oneself. But if you still don’t want then I do not see a difference in you two. You’re just the same, like your father..”
“MARIANA!” He thundered, scampered to me, and dragged me violently against the wall, pinning me and his balled fist raised to come against me.
I shook in fear as I stared at him in sheer horror. I’m horrified. I closed my eyes as I await it to get to me.
“GET OUT OF HERE!” He yelled into my face and moved away.
He wanted to hit me? I brought my hands to my chest. My heart wouldn’t stop thumping.
“Are you happy now? I just proved it didn’t I ?” Guilt filled his voice.
I just stood transfixed to the spot he left me. My back was still very much against the wall. I’m still shocked at his move. I don’t blame him though. I asked for it. I didn’t mean to liken him to his father. I know that he’s nothing like that man.
When he turned again with bloodshot eyes and still saw me, he shouted again. “I say leave from here… wait. I forgot this isn’t my house.”
He picked his jeans and began to wear it.
I think my imagination is coming to pass. Within some minutes he’d be out of here. I caused this.
“Novan.” I went to stop him.
“Hey, don’t touch me!” He warned.
“I won’t let you go.” I stood in his way and folded my arms on my chest.
He didn’t say anything and instead, he threw his jeans over his shoulders, picked his shoes, and began to walk out.
“Why are you leaving?” I bit my lips, not knowing if I should follow him.

“Because I will kill you if I had to stay.” He released with no emotion.
“You can’t do that.”
“That’s why I’m leaving.”
“Don’t go away Novan.” I walked after him.
“Stop trying.” He didn’t stop moving.
“We can’t keep doing this Novan. It’s enough. Are you not tired?”
He stopped walking. Finally.
“You lied to me. I still don’t know what you and that man discussed. Did he tell you how bad of a son I was and he had no choice than to leave us? Was that what he said that made you come and say straight to my face that I am like him? Me, like Jude? Someone who can pass for Iscariot and a devil. You won’t want to be with someone like that ”
“I’m sorry.”
“Stop saying that.”
“Alright, but don’t go please.”
He just stood there. I can tell he’s battling with himself to stay or not. I hope his decision works in my favor.
“You were much nicer when you were Shane,” I remarked.
He breathed out rashly.
“I was pretending my ass off and you were not annoying like when you were with Donovan.”
Yeah. I was always cautious with Shane and I made sure I didn’t do or say anything to piss him. He was also gentle and sweet. I think we both were pretending. We are real when he’s Novan and not Shane.
Still, you can be a lot nicer if you try.”
“I’m not nice?
“Really? Then I’m going.”
“Have a good night.” I turned and walked back into the bedroom. I can sleep in peace now knowing Novan won’t be snubbing me tomorrow.
Though I want him here, I won’t stop him if he wants to leave.
“Really? Are you not going to stop me?” I heard his footsteps behind me.
“Not when you’re hot on my tails.” I tried to fight my smile.
Novan is spoilt even though he didn’t get any pampering. He always expects me to come after him, comfort, and coddle him. He won’t get that today.
“I wanted to leave you know.”
I stopped by the shattered lamp. I barely used it before this broody boy who am helplessly in love with came to spoil it.
“But you’re here,” I answered him and jumped over the glasses.
“I will get you a new lamp.”
“You have to.” I mean it. He has to pay or replace for the damage.
“I want to know how it happened and what you discussed with my dad.” He came to lay beside me.
I faced him and propped my chin with my hand.
“After I got the tattoo I was at a restaurant cooling off when he came. I was surprised because I didn’t expect to see him. He told me he regrets what he did and that he wants you to forgive him. He thought I’m the right person who can talk to you. He wanted me to help him win you back.”
“The bastard. He has no genuine intentions. There’s always a motive behind whatever he does. Don’t listen to him. He’s only taking advantage of your sweetness and kindness.”
“What if he’s changed?”
“I don’t care about that.”
“You’d have to forgive him Novan. Let it be soon.”
“You really don’t have to take his side I told you not to fall prey to his antics. I’m his son. I know him better.”
Oh, Novan. If only you knew how much I also know who he is. But this is it, everybody needs to be forgiven for the wrongs they did. A second chance is not a bad thing.
“I’m not taking his side. I feel your pain more than you’d know Novan but we’re humans. You need to forgive him.”
“You’re saying this because you promised to help him but listen, he doesn’t deserve my forgiveness one bit. He hasn’t even shown anything.
“Have you given him the chance to show how much he has regretted his actions? You don’t even talk to him.”
{Loving him with all his flaws.}
“Have you given him the chance to show how much he has regretted his actions? You don’t even talk to him.”
“I don’t have to talk to him.”
“You’re being too hard on him Novan.”
“Enough of this discussion and we won’t be saying anything about that man again.”
“Not until you decide to have a civil talk with him. You haven’t seen him for almost a decade Novan. That’s a long time and people change over time. You two have a lot to catch up and a chance to try to make up for the time you spent apart. I really know he did you wrong Novan. I know. I can also say I’m the only one who feels the pain you had to go through but this is life. A lot of people spend their entire time making mistakes and asking for forgiveness all the time and that has been the cycle of mankind. He also deserves a chance.”
His head fell back on the pillow and he stared at me tiredly. “Seriously, can we stop this? It’s boring and suffocating. You preaching forgiveness is making my ears hurt and it’s not helping my state. I really have important things to think about and you’re busy defending some prick who does not even qualify to be a father. If you have nothing to say apart from giving this boring speech then sweetheart, I’m sleeping through.”
“You’d sleep?”
“I’m just trying not to blow up on you tonight, not today so am trying to keep my anger inside but if you continue with this then I’d get cross with you and you won’t like it.”
That sounded like a warning.
“Okay. Can I say one more thing?”
He looked at me with eyes half-closed. “Is it about him again?”
“Not really.”
“Go on.”
I smiled. Things are getting better gradually between us.
I scrambled close to him and placed my hand over his.
“I just want you to give a thought to what I said. He’s still your dad, his cruel behavior won’t change that. I also know that you still need him in a way though you won’t admit it now, you may someday, one day. He’s there now and he’s trying to apologize for the wrong. You won’t be able to take it if because of your hatred towards him caused him dearly one way or the other. Sometimes, we never know what something may mean to us until it’s gone. Don’t take any chances, just talk to him once and amicably.”
“Wow. If you’re not the kindest thing that ever liveth.” He rolled his sleepy eyes. “Nice sermon there but I have to say this. You only feel the agony of losing something you value and have actually imparted positively into you. My father doesn’t fall in that lane and I’ve lost him already, I didn’t feel anything and I never will. He means absolutely nothing to me including his ex-wife and there’s Nothing they can do that will alter the opinion and how I feel about them. I’m better off alone without them. I’m fine.”
Such a tenacious and extremely headstrong man.
“One more thing, tell him that you weren’t successful in persuading me to like him. It didn’t work.”
“So you won’t even talk to him for once?”
“I don’t know..maybe.. someday but I can’t give you an answer now. My blood boils over when he’s around and I find it hard to keep my hands to myself. I can’t have a heart-to-heart chat with him so please don’t expect that from me, it’s a little too much.”
“I’ve heard but I will keep trying until you agree.”
“You might want to die so badly.”
“Stop talking about death all the time. You won’t survive if I should die now.” I replied as a matter of fact. I’m aware I just used his unfortunate situation against him and I feel bad as fear quickly flashed across his eyes and disappeared as soon as it came. I didn’t mean to scare him.
Silence fell between us awkwardly. He looked distant so I got even closer and traced my fingers on his hard chest in an attempt to get his mind back from wherever it has taken off to.
“So how old is the birthday boy?”
“A hundred and twenty-one.” He rubbed circles at the top of my hand.
I get it. He’s twenty-one and he’s only taking three years in college so he should be twenty-three. It’s not bad. I like that he’s a few years older than I am.
My legs moved over his and I shifted my body on him so that half of my body was on him. His arm went under me and he brought me close to his chest, his fingers drumming at my back gently. My head falls on his chest and I take in his essence as the throbs of his hearts formed a pleasant rhythm to my ears. My hands trailed at the side of his stomach through his shirt slowly and I shut my eyes.
“Everett,” I called. I like how the name rolled perfectly on my tongue.
“Don’t call me that. It’s stupid and weird.”
“It’s a beautiful name. I love it.”
“Than Novie?”
I raised my lashes to look at him. “Donovan means darkness, something that is dark. Why will you take a name like that?” I asked even though I know his reasons. I still wanna hear them from his lips anyway.
“Donovan is nice. It describes who I am.”
“I’m not a goth. I think Donovan suits me more, with how I look. Taking Everett is gonna make me look strange and out of place. besides, I hate the meaning.”
“There’s nothing wrong with the meaning. ‘ Brave and strong’ isn’t a bad thing to hate.”
“Why did you take the rest from it? They said ‘brave and strong as a boar’. The fuck they couldn’t get any animal. A Lion could’ve been better.”
“We can replace it. “Brave and strong as a Lion.”
“Yuck. I still prefer Donovan. That man hates it.” He laughed.
Jude was right. Novan only took that name to hurt him.
“Your dad doesn’t like the name, Donovan?” I asked pretentiously.
“As if you don’t know.” His fingers played around my ear. He always catch me on my pretenses.
“How did you know?”
“It’s simple. I just knew he would tell you that he hates it.”
“Does Nervy look exactly like your mum just as you share a resemblance with your dad?”
“Not really but they’re both blondes.” He pressed his lips to my forward then snaking his tongue out, he rolled it there before kissing the bridge of my nose.
“Do you have her picture? I would like to see what your mom looks like.”
“I don’t have her photograph but if I did, I wouldn’t show you. She’s a very bad mother.”
I kept mute. This time I don’t know what to say to defend his mum. I know it’s not her fault that she had to leave her children but she proved to be heartless when she left her children. I haven’t seen any woman choosing her lover over her children except for her. That step she took was so not motherly.
“You’re strong,” I muttered absentmindedly as my hands journeyed to his boxer briefs and I snapped the waistline against him. My hand trailed on the elastic band at his front back and forth slowly. He stills each time my fingers graze his warm skin.
“Thanks for wearing the chain.” I kissed his chin and stared into his face.
He smirked with an adorable sleepy face then yawned.
My hands went to his neck but I didn’t feel the chain.
“You’ve removed it.”
“Did you think I wore it just for nothing? You were angry with me so I had to put it on to make you a little happier.”
I jumped on his stomach, thighs at either side of him.
He roared in laughter then pressed me down by the small of my back. I came down on him that our faces touched.
“When did you put it on?”
” When you left in a rush after seeing me smoke pot. It has been in my wallet so I got it out and wore it. Forgive me but I was scared you were going to leave me after seeing that side of me.”
“So where is it now?”
“My wallet of course. I will take it along wherever I go. Sometimes, I hold it.”
“Did it work?” I brushed the tip of my nose against his.
“What?” His warm breath hit my face and my eyes dropped to his lips.
“The chain. You put it on to sway me. Did it work?”
“I didn’t know until I caught your smiling image in the glass elevator door moments after your eyes were fixed on it.”
I smiled goofily and pressed my lip to his.
“I don’t think it did work. I was still mad. Just glad that you put it on but don’t use that again. You know I will always be glad to see you wear it.”
“What can I do?” His hands brushed my back, then bringing me down on him than before.
“Anything.” I know it wasn’t his question I just answered. I wanted something now.
I resumed kissing him as my hands disappeared under his shirt. I moved back slowly that I was now on his sex region. I rocked slowly and whined.
“What are you doing?” He rasped, his hands buried in my hair.
“Am I doing something?” I asked back teasingly.
“Are you not tired?” He smirked.
“Tired? What did we do?”
He smiled and brought his lips back on mine longingly.
An unfamiliar ringing tone that kept ringing brought me out of my sleeping state.
I looked around and saw Novan with his phone.
“Sorry.” He said and got up from the bed.
I laid back and stared at his back. The phone rang again and he silenced it immediately.
“Who’s calling Novan?” I asked.
“Nobody. You should go back to bed. I’m sorry to have disturbed your sleep.”
“No. It’s nothing.”
The call came in again and this time he picked and disappeared into the bathroom.
I wanted to eavesdrop on him but brushed the thought off.
“I will be leaving now. Will you stay for a while or I should drop you home?” He asked when he came out.
“Why are we leaving suddenly?” I asked back.
” I asked a question.”
“Tell me why we have to leave so quickly.” I insisted.
“None of your business.” He began to put his jeans on. He looked irritated.
“Is anything the problem?”
“No. I just have to be at home.”
“Okay.” I didn’t want to push it.
On our way home, he kept receiving calls and he never picked any. He only cursed and cursed. I wonder what is wrong. I even wish he’d open up to me.
He gave me a quick kiss when we got to my gate and once I was out, he didn’t waste time before zooming off crazily.
“Happy New year mum.” I walked into her room where she was dressing up.
“Thanks. Where have you been?” She looked at me through the mirror. That lively smile full with love that spreads on her face when I’m around wasn’t present.
“At the penthouse house.” I stood behind her, bent and kissed her cheeks. “Thanks for loading my wardrobe with those expensive beautiful clothes.”
“I’m glad you like them” she replied, drawing a line on her eyelids.
“Going somewhere?”
“I just came and it’s a new year. Won’t you spend the day with me, with us?”
“I’ve been longing for that, honey but you no longer stay home and I don’t know what you’ve been up to anymore.” Her voice was sad.
“I was at a party yesterday and I went to the penthouse after that.”
“With him?” She asked.
“Yes, with him.”
“You don’t want to listen to us, isn’t it? You even go to parties. You have tattoos. Do you club? What else do you do?”
“Don’t start mum. Can we not have a simple chat without you bringing that up?”
“You’re about to fight me again. Whatever you’re doing now and with that boy inclusive is not healthy. You can’t stop me from saying that to you. I’m your only mother Mariana.”
I sighed.
“You know, I met Jude and he told me he’s changed. I think we should all give him a chance.”
“Yes.” Novan inclusive.
“I’m sorry I can’t. I’m telling you to stay away from the Anderson’s but you won’t budge. I hope you don’t get offended because I’m about to take matters to my own hands.” She got up and picked her bag.
“You know, you of all people really shouldn’t be doing this. In case you have forgotten what Florencia did then revisit your memories and what you went through to sustain dad. Don’t forget I will also do anything to secure and sustain my relationship with Novan.” With that, I left
“Mariana.” She called after me.
I turned as if to ask, ‘what’?
“Our trip is tomorrow so you should prepare. I’ve already sorted everything. We all will be leaving for the airport tomorrow.”
“Your dad and Marion.”
“Okay,” I nodded. I really don’t feel like going. It’s a whole week vacation and I have to be away from Novan. I can’t cope.
When I got to my room Betsy was going through my wardrobe.
“Thief. What are you doing here?”
“I just came. I need a dress that could match a pair of shoes I got.”
” I think you’ve lost your way. This place is not a boutique Betsy.”
“I know but you have a boutique in your room and you hardly make use of it.”
“Don’t pick any of my things. Go do your own shopping.” I placed my card in her palm.
“Will yours be enough? Add your dad’s.” She grinned.
I went for it and dropped it in her palm. It’s not like she can exhaust everything on mine to talk of my dad’s.
“Only for you. Don’t add anyone else.” I said to her in case she planned to add people to the list then mentioned the codes.
“I learned you’re traveling.”
“Me too.” She smiled.
“Huh? Where are you going?”
“Paris. I told you about it the other time.”
“Yeah yeah. Have fun.”
“You wanted to talk to me about something the other day. What is it?” She came to sit.
“Yes. It’s about my parents. They don’t want me with Novan because of what happened in the past. Novan’s dad is evil so they fear he might harm me.”
“I see, another twist has been added to your love story. What exactly did his dad do that they won’t allow you to date his son? Your parents are good humans so what could it be?”
“It’s a whole lot.” I sighed and recounted everything to her.
“Wow!” Betsy exclaimed. “Trust me, if I were your parents I also won’t allow you to associate yourself with someone like Jude and his household.”
“Then get out of here,” I told her everything so that she could tell me something sensible but she sided with my parents instead.
“Whoa! Take it easy. I said if I were them but am not. I’m your friend.”
“You were supposed to stand by me.”
“That’s what I’m doing. I will suggest you talk to Novan to try and win your parent’s hearts somehow. I think that’s the only way they’d accept your relationship. Imagine your mum and dad liking Novan. They will overlook what his father did in the past and what they will say is that Jude is evil but he’s son is nothing like him. But if your Novan is not being in his best behavior, they might think he’s just like his dad, and never will they allow you two to be together. It’s really necessary for them to like Novan. It will supersede all the odds. Try talking to that nigga and invest your energy to mold him”
“Now I know I didn’t give you those cards for no reason. My money won’t go to waste.” I patted her head and got up.
If I can get Novan to impress my parents somehow then there won’t be any problems again.
“I’m off.” She Announced.
“Come back before nightfall and be careful.”
“Okay, momma.” She gave me a brief hug and scurried away.
A little part of me still prays she doesn’t actually spend every dime on the two cards. I laughed. It’s not possible. She was just being dramatic by taking the two cards.
Talking about cards, I need to contact Jude right away. I’m sure he’s been waiting for my call for long.
I went through the bag I came home with but couldn’t find it inside. I even emptied the contents.
Wait. I last saw the card in Novan’s hands last night. Where could he have to put it?
I hope he didn’t trash it. It’s the only way I can get through to his dad.
I picked my phone to dial his number…
“Mariana! Mariana!” Marion barged in.
“What’s wrong?” I dropped the phone in the meantime.
“You won’t believe what I saw.” He said through pants. He was out of breath.
” What did you see?” I got down to his height.
“Your boyfriend.”
“Is he here?” My eyes lit up.
“Yes yes..”
I smiled and moved past him to the door.
“No no. He’s not downstairs.” He stopped me.
“Then where is he? Where did you see him?”
“On the television just now. He was being talked about and I saw his image.”
“What? Really?”
“So? What was it about?”
“Call him. I don’t know what it was about because the program ended a minute after I switched the TV on.”
“Are you sure the one you saw is Donovan?”
“I can never mistake that rude tattooed guy who stole my innocent sister’s heart for anybody.”
“Really Marion?”
He pulled his tongue out and fled out of my room.
Why would Novan be on the TV? What for? He hates attention so why?
I called his number for answers but his phone was switched off.
He was acting strange earlier. I hope it’s nothing.
I got down and walked to the kitchen. Victoria was preparing cookies.
“Hello granny,” I sat on the counter and picked one.
“Hey. You’re here.”
“Yes, where is your son?”
“He should be in his room. Why do you ask?”
“Nothing.” I jumped down and took two more of the cookies.
I walked towards granny Nicholas’s room and when got there, his door was slightly opened. I also heard him laugh.
Curiosity got the best of me so I opened and saw him lying on his bed with a laptop facing him.
Who’s he talking and laughing to like that?
“Did you get a girlfriend grandpa?” I asked the moment I got in.
He shut the laptop after saying goodbye and turned to me.
“Why did you ask?”
“Because I will be glad if you get someone. It’s been long.” I told him honestly. He’s even good looking and younger than his age.
“Am I supposed to take that advice.” He chuckled.
“I think so. You can’t remain single all your life. You’re not even getting younger.”
“Wow. My little Ari has grown so much.”
I smiled. Memories of my childhood days flashed by. He was my dad. I thought he was until Pablo a.k.a Mr. Necklace thief showed up.
“Just give it a thought.”
“I did. I got one actually.”
“Really? Tell me. Who’s the lucky one?”
“I will tell you but not now.”
I frowned. “Okay. I’m glad you actually got someone. I will leave so you can continue your…you know.” I winked.
He laughed.
From there I went to Marion’s game room where I saw him, Toby and Morgan/Meghan gaming seriously.
“Hey sis, wanna join?”
I nodded and we started a match. That was how I spent the entire day. I didn’t even get ready for the trip. Marion couldn’t stop telling me how excited he was while I kept worrying. Even Morgan looked excited as he told me about his upcoming trip with Betsy. Everyone seems happy except me.
Betsy arrived during dinner time and we ate together. I stared at my parents as they kept whispering to themselves throughout dinner. Why would they separate us? I would’ve loved it more if we were both traveling to the same place. God. I will be stuck with mum and she won’t stop giving me lectures.
“Did you finish every dime?” I joked when Betsy gave me the two cards back.
“You can trust me on that.” I rolled my eyes and dropped them in my bag.
“Did you get the dress you wanted?”
“No, but I got other things. I’m sure I can only get that dress here in your room.”
“No way! You are not going to rummage through my clothes Betsy.”
“You’re traveling tomorrow. We’ll see.” She smirked and I threw a pillow at her.
“I will lock it.”
“I got a spare key, remember?”
“Fuck you!”
She blinked at me and burst into laughter. She’s crazy.
I dropped down on the bed and hugged the huge teddy to myself.
“You know, your boyfriend has turned popular mysteriously. He’s the talk of the whole country now.”
“How?” I got up.
“Don’t you know?”
“No. Tell me.”
“I’m sorry. If you don’t know then I can’t tell you.”
Marion told me about him being on the TV. I hope it’s something good. I can’t imagine Novan in trouble and it will be publicized. That will ruin him.
“We’re friends Betsy. Tell me whatever it is I need to know.”
“Let him tell you himself.” She didn’t wait anymore. “Goodnight girlfriend.”
I groaned.
I picked my phone and dialed his line but it went straight to voicemail.
He wasn’t in any good mood when we parted this morning. I hope nothing bad happened.
I closed my eyes and rested in the arms of the wonderful teddy bear he got me as a gift. It’s so warm and relaxing and it still smells just like him. Perfect. Just perfect.
I heard a whisper of a familiar voice.
“Dolly.” I felt a light tap.
I shrugged the hand off. It couldn’t be Novan.
That ridiculous name again.
I felt the bed dip beside me and that was when I opened my eyes and they met with a pair of hazels.
“Novan You?” I shot up and looked around. My eyes hit the clock and it’s past 12 am.
“What are you doing in my room at this time and how did you get in? Did you ..”
He covered my mouth.
“Stop freaking. Your brother helped me in.”
I made him remove his hand from my mouth and I examined him. He looked okay.
“Marion helped you?” I asked calmly
He nodded.
Since when did they turn the best of friends?
“So what are you doing here at this time? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I just came to tell you something?”
My heart skipped. “What?”
“I’m leaving.”
My heart sank and sadness took over my face. He just came so why so soon?
“You just came,” I whispered and my hands moved to his face.
“Not here. I’m leaving the country.”
My heart drops along with his words.
{Loving him with all his flaws.}
“Not here. I’m leaving the country.”
My heart drops along with his words.
Why does everyone seem to be leaving? Even, I am also traveling. Is it some new ritual or what?
“Is this some joke? Where will you go?” I panicked.
“I’m not joking okay?” He whispered.
“Then why are you leaving?”
“I didn’t tell you this earlier and I’m sorry.. somehow I got selected for Australia. I’m going to France from here.”
Oh my…
The smile that formed on my face was brighter and larger than the sunlight. My mouth hurts from too much smiling as I stared at his unamused face. If anything, he looked pissed but he should be crazy to be angry at this time.
“ mean oh God. You got selected Novie!” I fumbled with my words. The next minute, I was on him and squeezing the life out of him.
“Oh, Novan I’m so damn proud of you.” I pulled back and kiss him. “I’m so so happy also.”
He just stared at me as if he was hypnotized while I was swimming in absolute joy.
“I ..I ..okay..okay.. listen. Tell me how. You didn’t go to clear yourself in Seattle so how?” I was straddling him now, all sleep disappeared from my eyes.
“I went back and cleared myself but it was after you left. I actually came to pick you back but realized you were gone. I was going back when one of the judges spotted me so I had to come back. That’s not all, I traveled to the UK the day after Christmas. It was when we fought. The night I called you is when I returned.”
Wow. He didn’t tell me all that.
“What did you go to do?” I asked.
“Competition. What else? It was there I qualified for nationals and now I got selected to compete in the finals. Too bad.”
“You know, you should be over the moon now Novie. I mean, this is a great opportunity and a life-changing one. A fucking World championship Donovan. A whole Bocuse D’or! Wow! wow! I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am for you. I love you Everett.” I hugged him again.
“Are you done jubilating?”
“What do you mean?”
“I only got selected to represent my country, doll face. I didn’t win.”
“What does it matter? You won all the minor competitions. I know you’d definitely win. I have so much faith in you.”
“That’s good. I just hope I win because honestly, I won’t be able to take the walk of shame back here. I can’t believe I was even selected. I got furious this morning when I was called for an interview on some program. Can you believe it? A fucking interview and you can imagine the stupid questions that were being asked. I felt suffocated and I have to keep faking smiles. And the camera lights? I just thank God I didn’t make it out blind. ”
“You’re a celebrity already Novan. I can’t wait to see you all dressed up. Did you meet Scott Morrison?”
“I think I did.”
“Wow! You met the prime minister Novan. God, this is worth celebrating. I should go get a bottle of champagne.”
“I’m sure you’re already on the billboards Everett.”
“Don’t call me by that stupid name I’m telling you.” He looked serious.
“Everett.” I pouted and fluttered my lashes.
“Say that again?”
My hands moved to his neck, I stared at him seductively and winked. “Everett.”
He looked taken aback for some seconds before he lifted me off him and tumbled me onto the bed. I giggled loudly as he playfully tried to strangle me.
“Now if you don’t stop laughing so loud your parents will barge in any minute.” He whispered and covered my mouth. I lick and bite his palm.
He groaned and got his hand away.
“You’re acting so horny.”
“Well, I guess I am.” I blurted.
“One of these days I’m not going to hold back in burying myself in you I swear.” He moved his thumb on my lips.
I shivered at his words. They triggered something in me and I felt warm.
I looped my legs on his waist, pulling him down on me and I took his lips and kissed him softly. I feel weird. I want him.
A knock sounded on my door, pulling us apart as if a cracker was set between us.
I ignored and soon the person began pounding.
The hell.
“Honey are you in there? Are you okay?”
If it’s not that mother of mine. God, why is she so obsessed with me? She doesn’t wanna accept that I got a boyfriend so she’d let me be the hell alone.
“Who’s there?” I faked a sleepy voice and Novan giggled. I hit the pillow at his head that instant.
“It’s me. Are you okay?”
“How can you disturb my sleep this way mum? The hell I am fine. What will happen to me? Go to sleep, you over worry.” I said in the same sleepy voice.
Novan’s face was buried on my stomach and he was shaking in laughter.
“I heard you laughing. What was it about?” My mother asked.
“Maybe I was dreaming. I really can’t recollect.”
“Yes yes.”
“Go back to sleep now mum. Please don’t knock on my door again.”
I waited for some minutes before facing Novan.
“And you what was the laughter about?”
“Your mum.” He chuckled.
“That woman made it her life mission to disrupt what seems like my quality time with you. I’m glad she’s gone.”
“I can picture her pressing her ear to the door now.” He laughed and for a moment, I thought he could be right. The image of my mum pressing her ear to my door jolted me into laughter.
“I will be leaving now.” He said and I stopped laughing.
“I’m coming with.”
“The fuck you won’t.”
“You will but not now. You can’t leave your parents without notice like we did the last time and the competition is not tomorrow. It’s next week and also, I’ve already booked a flight and the plane is full”
“So? That’s not enough reason. I’m coming.” I’m glad there’s a way I will escape going to Greece with mum.
“Okay, but I will be taking the lead okay? You can come after ”
“What? You know without you by my side I can’t fly.”
He cupped my face. “I knew this and that was why I got you this teddy. See.” He got his shirt off and put it on for the teddy.
“You’ll be okay.”
“I don’t know,” I whispered.
“You will. Just like you told me to quit looking for happiness in pot and learn to happy without you necessarily being by my side because you ain’t gonna be there always, same way I can not always be traveling with you and so I got you a remedy.”
My parents don’t know that I can’t fly. That the accident left me with a phobia.
“I’m gonna try but I really wanted to go with you now.”
He didn’t say anything instead he kissed me hard and for long and he left me out of my breath.
“I want to see you there babe. Please.” He kissed my forehead.
“You don’t have to say it. I will be there for you always Novan.”
“I need you. You have to come okay?” He attached his forehead to mine.
“I will. Promise.”
“Thanks.” He began to kiss me again. “You know I can’t ever have enough of you. I’m so lucky to have you Mariana. I’m sorry to have tried to hit you. That was a dick move. I’m really sorry.”
“It’s okay. I knew you’d never hit me.”
“But I tried to. I’m really sorry.”
“I provoked you. I’m also sorry.”
“Be careful.” He got up and moved out of the bed.
“Don’t smoke Novan. We can Skype. Call me anytime and when you arrive. I love you.” I got up from the bed.
“Okay, I can’t wait to see you there. Don’t forget to wear that white dress. I love it and I would like to take it out properly.”
I blushed.
“Have you accepted that I’m your inspiration?”
“Yes. I did. Your body inspires me to fuck you soon.” He dragged his lust-filled eyes on me.
My eyes widened. I wasn’t talking about that. I meant the competition.
“I didn’t mean that.” I palmed my flaming cheeks.
“It didn’t change anything.” He smirked.
“Where’s your dad’s complimentary card?”
“I trashed it.”
“You did what”
“Spare me. I told you to stop trying to talk to him. Stay away from him, Mariana.”
He won’t tell me that and I will comply. I will just be careful. I plan to talk to Jude soon. We need to talk.
“You’re at it again. I’m sure you’re concocting some nosy moves in your head.”
I smiled. He knows me so well.
“I’m sorry Mariana but please stay away from my dad. I wasn’t lucky enough to have good parents.”
“I will, Everett.”
“That name again?” He scowled at me.
He shook his head, took some steps towards me and I stepped back.
“Don’t go.”
I stopped and he closed the gap between us. His hand hooked on my waist and he leaned down to kiss me. “Can’t wait to see you in France. I will miss you.” He said against my lips.
I will miss him too.
We hugged for what seemed like forever before we parted. He turned the knob and walked out shirtless.
I couldn’t stay. I followed him outside to his car.
“I love you Novan, and I’m really happy for you. All the best and take care. You’ll do well. I know you’re already a winner.”
He smiled softly with a nod.
I went back inside after bidding him goodbye. I didn’t sleep anymore. We chatted till he got to the airport where he had to keep his phone away.
I woke up late the next day and even that, it was because my door was being pounded on yet again.
I checked the time and it was 1 pm.
“It’s time for us to go, Mariana. What are you still doing? You didn’t even come down for breakfast.”
“I don’t wanna travel anymore mum.” I feel empty knowing Novan is not around.
The door opened and mum stormed inside.
I groaned on the bed and clutched my tummy.
“Honey is something wrong?”
“It’s that time of the month mum. It hurts.” I faked tears and writhed on the bed.
“You don’t fool me. I know your cycle and it’s not yet time!”
Damn. Must she know everything? Now, what other lies should I tell to escape this trip with mum?
“It changes mum. Why would I lie to you?” I cried.
“Stop the act sweetheart. You never experience pains during your period.”
God, make her believe me.
“Paula, is she ready?” I heard my dad’s voice and I smiled within.
“Dad, it hurts. I don’t wanna travel.”
He stayed silent for a while.
“Alright. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to and besides you’re not well. Paula let’s go. She’d be fine.”
Oh, thank goodness. I will be glad if they all leave.
“I will stay with her, Pablo. You can go.”
“Alright.” They kissed for a while and I tried to stop myself from shouting ‘Gross’
“I should go before Marion comes to drag me out.” Dad chuckled and kissed my forehead. “Bye, princess.”
“Bye Superman. Safe trip.”
If only he’d take this woman along with him.
{Loving him with all his flaws.}
I went for what I will call late breakfast after Marion and dad had left.
My mum had her eyes on me like a mother eagle all through and I just wished she was at work.
I got relieved when Betsy came by in swimsuits. I ran to my room and put on my own swimsuits.
On my way down, mum had her eyes fixed on me and I knew that I won’t make it out without a comment falling from her mouth.
“I thought we were having cramps?”
I said it.
I chose not to answer her. I wrapped the towel around myself instead.
” I know you just don’t want to embark on the trip with me. Admit Mariana. ”
“Yes. I didn’t want to go okay?” I give in. I really don’t like doing this with mum. She was supposed to be my confidant.
“Why don’t you want to go? You agreed earlier so what changed?”
I sucked in my lower lip slowly as I looked everywhere but her. Should I tell her about Novan’s competition and brag about how good my boyfriend is in the kitchen than her? I know she’d definitely backtrack and start to like him but I don’t want to. It’s always nice to like someone without cause.
“Tell me the truth. That boy was with you last night wasn’t he?”
Bam! Novan said it. She was definitely eavesdropping.
“I didn’t eavesdrop on you. I won’t do that. I saw his car drive out yesterday and moments after, you walked back into your room.”
“He convinced you not to go anywhere with me, didn’t he? That’s why you don’t want to go right? ”
“Jesus mum! Will you stop all this?”
“Stop what? That boy is trying to separate you from me Mariana. There was a time you couldn’t go a day without even talking to me but now you don’t even care. You don’t even talk to me or tell me anything about you. You’ve changed Mariana. This isn’t my daughter. The daughter who loved me above anything else.” She stared at me ruefully with glossy eyes.
I feel for her but she’s being possessive. I’m no longer her little Mariana.
“You’re being unnecessarily sentimental mum. I got a boyfriend but I never stopped loving you. You’re still my mum and will always be.”
“You chose him over me Mariana and now you make me look like a villain. I wanted us to spend some time together but you decided to drop it. Why? It’s because of him.”
I’m exhausted. I’m tired of going on with this conversation with mum. She should be glad I’m still living with them.
“My boyfriend has nothing to do with me terminating this trip. I just didn’t want to go. Don’t blame him for it.”
“Alright. Since we couldn’t travel then you’d stay in the house with me this week Mariana. No outing. Just you and me.”
“Let her breathe Anna. She’s not a baby anymore so don’t treat her like one. Just understand that she’s no longer single and things won’t be the same as before.”
I turned to see Florencia waltzing towards us elegantly with her handbag in her hand. God, she’s a beauty regardless.
As much as I’m glad that she just sided with me, I’m surprised.
Mum couldn’t say anything again. I chose that moment to go. Betsy is still waiting at the pool.
“I still regret what I did to you, Anna. Please do not let the same thing repeat…”
I heard Florencia say to her.
“You don’t know anything Mum.” My mother sighed.
“You’d be fine. Just don’t let her feel suffocated. Let her be. All you have to do is guide her. You two will be fine. ”
“Alright, but are you going somewhere?” Mum asked.
“Yes, I’m going back.”
I stopped in my tracks.
“You’re leaving already?” I asked.
“Yes, dear. Take care.” She kissed my cheeks.
“Don’t go yet. Let’s chat for a while.” My mum requested and she walked back to her, taking a seat beside her on the couch.
Forgiveness is really a good thing. This is Florencia. The woman who once vowed to make my mum’s life a living hell. Mum almost died and all but here she is, all changed. People can really change if they want to and Florencia is no different. Not forgetting that karma came for her real hard. Right now she’s on glasses because she can’t see properly without them. She had her legs operated on in China and there’s a metal in one. She had to learn her lessons the hard way. You can escape punishment from humans sometimes but nature doesn’t overlook it. Some way or the other, you’ll one-day pay for all your crimes. It’s karma.
“What took you so long to come?” Betsy asked. She was floating on the water.
I need to warn her before I jump inside.
“Nothing. I’m coming in.” She sank into the water and appeared on the surface.
“Come on in.”
I dived into the water with a splash. I went deep and stayed for some minutes before coming back up. The cold water against my warm skin was so refreshing.
“Did your boyfriend tell you why he appeared on a TV?”
“Yes. He’s going for a competition. The one I told you about I’m so happy for him.”
“Yeah, I also can’t believe it. I mean who would’ve thought that your Novan will turn to a public figure in just a twinkle of an eye?”
“He was born to be one Betsy. I’ve always known there’s something in him and I know he’d go farther than this. Even the sky is not his limit. He’s just the best and I’m lucky to have met him.” I duck under the water and swam up.
Without our fights, Novan is the best thing that ever happened to me. I vow to love him as long as I breathe.
“Are you aware it’s France the competition will be held?” Betsy asked.
“And do you know it’s the same place Morgan and I are going?”
“Oh my God! My mind didn’t make that out. Such a coincidence. We’re traveling together then.” I beamed.
“Oh yes. It’s tomorrow.”
“Today is Sunday Quinn.” Betsy reminds me.
Novan told me the competition will start next week and next week starts tomorrow. The journey will take at least two days so tomorrow will be a perfect date. It’s a two days competition so it should start on Wednesday or Thursday. Oh, I can’t wait.
Betsy and I spent the day together until she had to leave for her house.
Before dinner, I went to my room and packed a few things into my bag including that dress Novan says he likes.
We planned to leave tomorrow after breakfast. After dinner, mum left for Amy’s while I climbed back to my room.
Edward called to ask if I’ve already left and he offered to go with me but I told him I’d be going with Betsy and he didn’t say anything again. I told him I will see him there and hang up. Dylan also called me and I was so happy to hear from him. I called Lenna and we had a group chat. That was fun. I didn’t know I missed them that much.
I re-checked my bag and laid on my back, staring at the ceiling and waiting for Novan’s call.
When it was past eight in the evening, I decided to call him myself. I did but it didn’t go through. After countless attempts, I closed my eyes to welcome sleep. He’s just busy. He’d call me tomorrow.
I reassured myself and slept.
I rushed into the washroom once I woke up. While dressing, Betsy called to tell me she was on her way. I hurried up and got down for breakfast.
Mum was not at the table when I got there. I wanted to tell her that I’m traveling. Where could she have gone?
“Can anyone tell me where my mum is?” I asked the elderly family I was eating with. There was Victoria, Toby, and Nicholas. Florencia left yesterday.
“I didn’t see her this morning. Maybe she hasn’t woken up.” Grandpa Nicholas answered.
I nodded. I need to speak to her.
“All dressed up. Going somewhere?” Toby asked.
“Yeah,” I answered simply.
After breakfast, I ran all the way up for my bag. I really can’t wait.
I took my bag and putting it over my shoulders, I clutched the big teddy. I got my car keys and walked to the door. I turned around and scanned the room carefully to check if I didn’t leave anything behind. I can’t afford to leave anything that will be useful to me in France.
Holding the knob, I turned it slowly to open but it didn’t budge. It was hard and looked like it was locked from outside.
I tried again but it wouldn’t open. I think it’s jammed.
I will call mum or the house attendants.
I dropped the teddy and got my bag from my bag for my phone.
There was no phone.
I emptied the contents in my bag but I didn’t see my phone. I remember putting it in before going out for breakfast. I don’t have a short memory so I couldn’t have put it anywhere and forget.
I still went on and searched the entire room, every nook, and cranny but couldn’t find it.
I decided to use the telephone finally but it seems disconnected. It wasn’t working either.
I went to try the knob again but it was hard.
God. I’m stuck.
Did I leave my phone on the dining table? No way. I didn’t take my phone when I was going to have breakfast. After my call with Betsy, I placed it back in.
I sat on the bed and tried to think of what to do next. Betsy should be waiting for me now. She’d come if she doesn’t see me downstairs. Yes. I should relax.
I laid back on the bed and waited for Betsy to come knocking.
After an hour, there was no Betsy and I was still stuck in.
I began to hit my door furiously.
“Anybody there? I’m stuck in here!” I yelled.
“Mum!” I shouted.
“Grandpa! Mum! Nicholas! Anybody? Please help me!” I yelled loudly that my throat hurt.
Are there not any souls in this house? Why can’t they hear me?
I kept hitting my hand against the hard door till my hand hurt and turned red.
“MUM!!” I yelled one last time.
“ANYBODY? PLEASE HELP ME!” I yelled. This is weird. Why can’t anybody hear me?
After two hours I was still stuck inside.
My throat is dry from shouting so I sauntered to the fridge to grab a bottle of water but I’m surprised to see it stuffed with all my favorite snacks and instant foods. I even have a microwave. Something I never had inside here.
What is happening?
What’s the meaning of this? I got stuck in and realized my fridge is stuffed with food that can even last me a week.
Realization dawned on me.
It can’t be her right? She wouldn’t do this to me.
She can’t do this!
{Loving him with all his flaws.}
It can’t be her right? She wouldn’t do this to me.
She can’t do this!
I dropped to the floor helplessly and slowly with my nails digging into my scalp.
How can mum do this to me? I’m her daughter for goodness sake and she loves me so why?
Maybe it’s not her. I left my phone downstairs and nobody is in the house for now. Mum will come and save me from here. She’s not cruel. I trust her completely.
I gave myself a little bit of hope and got up from the floor.
I walked back and forth in my room until it was in the evening. No one has come to knock my door either. Not even Betsy.
I stayed up till daybreak and still no one came. I went for some water and came back to sit.
My eyes met my bag and my eyes swelled with tears. Before I knew it, I was crying my eyes out. This is so bad. Who did this to me? At this point, I know this was a deliberate act. Someone plotted this against and I fear it’s my mum. I swear I will never forgive her for this if I don’t make it out. She’d lose me for real.
I collapsed to the floor and cried some more. I don’t know why my very own mum will do this to me. I love her so much and she did me?
I even miss her right now. Why would she do this to me I don’t understand?
I cried myself till noon and still, no help came and I haven’t eaten anything.
My eyes were too heavy so I gave in to sleep. I woke up around 6 am the next day and I was famished. My head was also banging. A headache, it is.
I prepared instant noodles and ate. I can’t keep crying. I’ve already spent two days indoors. It’s Wednesday, four days more and in those four days, I don’t know the actual date the competition will go on. I don’t even know if it has already been done.
Oh, God!
How’s Novan? I hope he’s fine. He’d be so disappointed. I promise him I’d make it but here I am. God help. I can’t let him down. I want to be with him in the most important aspect of his life. I want to count every win with him as well as the losses.
He wanted me there and it’s my duty to be there. What is he doing now? Is he smoking just to keep up because I’m not there? “What is he doing?!”
I shouted and got up.
This is so infuriating and sad as well. My own mum did this to me.
What is her shit?
Novan is right when he said she can be bitchy sometimes.
She’s behaving like Florencia right now because I don’t see any differences even though I don’t know in detail whatever Florencia did to her. I’m mad at her right now!
Four days left. I panicked when I remembered that the journey will take almost two days if I don’t set out early. It’s nineteen hours. If I could go around 7 am now, I will be there around 1 am midnight but that will be too late. How will I find my way out?
I need to do something quickly.
I walked to the balcony and stared down. The fuck, I won’t make it alive if I want to jump this. I don’t even visit the gym to be able to climb this down like a wonder woman.
I wish my house wasn’t as high as the Eiffel tower. Joking though. Our house is tall but it can’t be like the Eiffel tower. Still, I can’t jump.
I thought of going to gather all my bedsheets and tie them in knots. That should help. I hope so.
I walked back into the room and began to pull my sheet out. Just then, the knob turned. My heart leaped and beat wildly.
Looks like there’s hope or?
It’s been two days since I saw my daughter and my granddaughter, I think she traveled but I don’t know why she hasn’t called me. After dressing up and ready to leave, I decided to see Paula.
Her door was slightly open when I got there and I can hear sobs. I pushed the door back slowly and poked my head inside. On the floor is my daughter crying sorrowfully to a video displaying.
To my utmost amazement, there was Mariana looking helpless with her tear-stained cheeks as she moved about her room, crying silently.
It took me some minutes to grasp what was going on. Mariana said she was traveling but from the video, I can see she didn’t go anywhere because she was in the same clothes. Looks like she has been locked up. I think Paula installed a camera in her room so as to monitor her movement and to ensure nothing happened to her. I don’t know her reason for doing this but it’s bad and she went a lot overboard. Mariana will be so mad at her for this. She really shouldn’t have done this. No wonder I’ve been hearing muffled voices from upstairs but it didn’t occur to me that it could be Mariana. I’m sure Paula must’ve warned the rest not to open the door for her.
I wanted to go and talk to her, make her see reasons, and tell her that it’s never done this way but then, what if she tells me to stay off? I won’t be able to do anything. I will go and save Ari and after that, I will talk to her.
One look at her and I wanted to go and comfort her. She’s crying so much and so was Mariana. They both are grieving. Why would Paula punish herself and her daughter to suffer? Mariana might think she’s suffering alone but her mum is equally hurting.
I closed the door gently and told one of the servants to go to the power room and turn the power system off while I rushed to Mariana’s door.
When I got there it was locked. I went to the storeroom and searched for the master key.
I ran back to her door and once I opened it, the lights went off. Great. This will prevent Paula from knowing I was the one who came to save her.
“Grandpa!” Her voice was a mixture of happiness, sadness, and hope.
She threw herself on me and I wrapped my arms around her for a moment. Paula really hurt my girl.
“Thank you so much, grandpa.”
“It’s okay dear. What happened? Didn’t you travel?”
She begins to tell me but I stopped her.
“You should go before your mum notices. Call me if anything. You have to call me then you can tell me everything okay?”
She nodded and got back into the room and returned with her backpack. She smiled at me and ran off.
Once I was out, I got into my car and drove out at high speed.
I’ve already missed my flight and I haven’t booked one yet because I don’t have my phone. Oh god. I should’ve taken my grandpa’s phone or make him book a flight for me.
What do I do?
I cursed multiple times when I met small traffic. Something I never do.
Once I was out of the traffic, something strange happened that almost caused me to lose my mind. The car stopped moving. It wouldn’t move again.
“You got to be kidding me!” I screamed, hitting my hand on the steer.
Cars honked behind me angrily.
I got out and looked around confusingly. I’m totally helpless. I don’t know what to do. Oh God.
I know I already look a mess because I haven’t taken a bath in two days and my hair was scattered and messy.
My tears began to spill again. Why’s all this so difficult. I just wanted to travel and support my boyfriend. He needs me.
All this is because of that mother of mine. I swear she’d pay for this.
My car has caused traffic and people have started raining insults on me probably because they haven’t seen who I am.
I decided to plead for help and that’s when I saw a mechanic come to my car with tools.
“Excuse me? What are you doing?”
“I’m fixing your car, miss.”
“But who called you? I didn’t?”
“I did.” A voice said from behind so I turned.
Out of all the people I expected to see, I didn’t know it would be his father. Jude.
“Hi, thank you so much but..”
“Don’t say anything dear. I was passing by when I saw you so I thought you’d need help. What can I help you with?”
“Thank you so much, sir. Thank you. Please can you take me to the airport? And also I’d love it if you could book a flight for me now, please. I know all this is too much to ask but I wouldn’t do this if it were normal times. I promise to repay you but please I need to get to the airport..”
“Calm down dear. Booking a flight for you and driving you to the airport is really not too much for me to do. You’re no stranger to me. You’re my son’s girlfriend and this is my duty. Now come on.”
I thanked him over and over again as he led me to his car. I’ve already taken my bag out of my car.
I got in beside him and the car took off. I don’t know but I think he’s driving to slow for someone like me who’s in hurry to go somewhere.
“Erm..can you please drive a little faster?”
He chuckled and increased speed.
“You’re going to the competition right?”
“Yes. I hope I’m not late? Do you know anything about it?”
“Not really but I pray you don’t miss Everett’s time on stage.”
I also hope so.
“Have you booked my flight yet?”
“I did. You’d get the ticket at the airport.”
“Thank you. I will repay you back, I promise.”
“You don’t have to.”
“No please allow me to. Don’t refuse.”
“Take it as my way of paying you back for trying to help me get my son back. I’m really grateful for your help.”
I haven’t even done anything. Your son is so stubborn.
We got to the airport just in time when my flight was being announced.
I got out and took my bag along. Jude escorted me to take my tickets and after going through the checkpoints and everything was set for me to get on board, I stood in front of Jude awkwardly and not knowing if I should hug him or not.
“Thanks,” I whispered.
He did the unthinkable by pulling me into his arms in a fatherly hug. I hugged him back. It was so comforting.
“You should go and support him. He needs you more than anything.” He pats my back.
I pulled back and tucked a strand behind my ear.
“Why are you not going? He equally needs you.”
“Like seriously?” He laughed.
“You know how he feels about me. He’d go mad if he sees me and that will ruin everything”
I nodded. He’s right. The last time he left the stage because he saw his mum. He’d fight everybody if he should see his dad.
“All the best and take care.” He stroked my cheeks gently.
I smiled and turned to leave. I wave him as I walked on the airstairs.
It was when I was inside before I realized that I didn’t pick my teddy. Oh dear God!
What is going on?
I’m done for. I doubt if I can embark on this journey without that. God.
I ran down and made it In time before he drive off.
“Do you need anything?” He asked when i got to him.
“Erm please..can I get his picture if you have any?”
“What? Everett’s picture? What do you need it for?”
“Please,” I begged. I don’t know how to explain this. He caused it after all. If it wasn’t for the plane crush then I can be traveling on my own and not depend on his son.
“I don’t know what you need it for but am sorry. I don’t have it.”
He looked embarrassed.
He should be. Which father doesn’t have a common photo of his son? I’m suddenly annoyed at him.
“It’s okay.” My lips quivered and I ran back and entered the aircraft. I coiled on the seat and looked out as it began to take off.
My heart was racing rapidly as that fear began to settle in. I started shivering and my teeth were chattering.
I looked beside me and it was only an old looking lady who was busy reading a magazine.
My headache returned fiercely and I couldn’t cope. The anxiety was too much. I buried my head in my lap and removed it again. I feel restless. It’s like I will pass out any minute.
I shifted on my seat uncomfortably and held my head. My eyes closed and visions flashed by. My mum’s crying and shouting and the dangerous lightning. The loud cries of everyone on the plane that day all kept replaying.
I can’t take it. I can feel our own plane turning over right now. It’s like the same thing that occurred a decade ago was about to happen.
“NO!” I didn’t know when I began to scream.
My head was spinning and my vision blurred. My headache wasn’t helping matters either. The higher the plane goes, the higher my fear.
“Miss? What’s happening? Are you okay?
“What can we do?”
“I think she has a terrible phobia. She can’t fly. We should take her to the emergency before she passes out.”
I heard voices from every direction. It worsened my state. I struggled to breathe. My breathing was hitched and not regularly. I was losing it slowly as I felt my body being carried.
I don’t think I can make it to Novan. I’m so sorry love. I’m sorry. My eyes shut and all I saw was everything that happened on the plane that day. The blood and all.
I screamed one last time and everything went blank, the voices and all. I’m engulfed only in darkness and silence.
{Loving him with all his flaws.}
Coming to Miami with my son wasn’t a bad idea until I started missing my wife badly and we hardly spent two days.
It’s amazing how after these years I still love my Paula like the first time I met her. Our love just keeps growing and getting stronger as time passes. I want the same thing for my daughter and Paula wants that too. She’s more scared that Jude’s son won’t be a better match for her and so do I. I mean this is Jude we’re talking about and his son’s attitude and behavior is nothing to write home about. How can I trust my precious daughter Into his hands? However, Mariana appears to be deep into him which is my worry.
Love in its way is something else. Couldn’t she get anyone as innocent and sweet as her? Why was it that boy?
I’m not being judgemental but frank. I really don’t have a major problem with that boy. I only did when Paula told me he disrespected her. I was mad and I just wanted to give him a piece of my mind.
Paula’s relationship with Mariana is on a rocky path and I’m guessing that was the main reason why Mariana didn’t want to travel with her but that’s okay, I’m glad they’re both in the house so I’m hopeful that they’ll patch things up.
I already told her to let her be for now. Mariana is being stubborn and she wouldn’t take our cautions and I don’t want to force them on her so she’d feel as if we’re suffocating and imposing our decisions on her. I just wish I can get some assurance from that boy that he’s not like his father and that he’d keep my daughter happy always. He’d be dead if I see a scratch on her and he’s responsible for it.
My head snapped to the raging sea at the sound of Marion’s voice.
He wave me with a huge smile on his face as he surfed.
Right now I was sitting at the beach and watched as Marion was rehearsing with his trainer on surfing. He’s just ten years but he wants to do everything. I don’t know where he got the obsession of surfing..
I waved him back with a thumbs up.
I’m bored already. I’m cutting this trip short. I pray Marion agrees though. I really miss Paula and the thought of not sleeping beside her tonight again is devastating.
We’ve been talking but she doesn’t sound cheerful like always. I wanted to make a video call with her but she wasn’t picking up. What the hell is wrong?
I called Mariana but her line was off. That’s strange. I won’t think much of it. She’s probably out with her crazy boyfriend.
I called Paula but she didn’t pick. I hope she’s okay.
I stared at my phone and decided to chat her up.
“The old man is here with me but only in body. His mind and soul is at home, with his old lady.” Marion snatched my phone away with his wet hands.
“Give me that boy!”
“No!” He dropped his surfing board and stepped back.
I hope he’s not planning to take me on a marathon.
“You gon’ ruin that. You’re soaked!”
“We can buy another one.” He grinned and began to go through it. I watched as Saltwater drained from his hair and dropped on my phone.
It’s not his fault. He got a rich daddy after all.
“Don’t be stubborn Marion. Give me my phone.”
“What’s the hurry, old boy? Just wanna check what you’ve been up to with the old lady.” He chuckled.
“Do that later. You’ll ruin my phone with that salty water. I’m not ready to buy another one yet while we’re still here.” I stepped closer to him and he took another step back.
I closed the gap and he took to his heels, expecting me to follow.
This is what he wanted.
I jogged after him then increased my speed. I’m quite athletic. He didn’t think I can’t run and catch him easily. It didn’t take much effort when I got to him and carried him over my shoulders while he laughed.
I began to walk us back to the summer hut.
“Ran dad!”
“No. I don’t want to.”
“Okay, then we’d be spending two weeks instead.”
“What?” I started running and he laughed.
We got there and I dropped him in the sand and sat beside him.
He gave me my poor phone and I stared at it. The wet screen was off. How much salt water did it drink?”
“Did something happen to it?” He asked. I shrugged and ordered for fresh coconut juice.
“Want some?”
He nodded.
I took mine and my mind drifted to my adorable daughter. She likes this type of juices. She likes them natural and not processed.
“Seriously Dad. When are we leaving? You keep thinking about the two women at home.” Marion whined.
“I just remembered your sister Marion. You know she likes anything natural.”
“Yeah. I can see how much you both love her than you do me. It’s always Mariana Mariana.” He rambled and I’m taken aback.
Does he feel less loved?
“What are you talking about Marion? You know we love you.”
“I know but you love her more. She’s the apple of your eyes.”
I shifted closer to him and placed an arm on his shoulders.
“Listen, we love you two equally and this time we’ve just been thinking about your sister’s future. There is no way we love her more than you and neither do we love you more than her. It’s equal and we can’t do without either of you. You two complete us.” I said, remembering my baby-making plan with my wife. I told her I want another cute little thing but she isn’t saying anything. Haven’t we made love enough for that to happen already?
“What about her future?” Marion asked.
“You see her boyfriend?” I asked and he nodded.
” We don’t trust him.” I whispered.
“What? Why don’t you? He’s cool.”
“Someone with tattoos and piercings is not classified under cool dear son..”
“He’s hot then!” He beamed.
“Whatever. I really wish I could see him without those things. He would’ve been a lot good looking.”
“He’s good looking and those tattoos are just perfect.”
I sighed and stared thoughtfully at him. I hope he’s not planning to go for a tattoo with how he seems excited talking about it. I better stop this topic with him.
“Dad.” He looked up at me.
“Are you also against Mariana dating Donovan?”
“Not really. I’m just scared that something might happen to her.”
“Alright, so you won’t mind if someone from our family decides to associate with any of his family right?”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing.” He sipped his coconut water.
“But..” I tried to say but my ringing tone cut me off. I checked and it was my beloved wife.
“Wifey,” I called cheerfully.
“Pa…Pablo.” Her voice is broken. The smile disappeared from my face when I noticed that she’s been crying.
“Paula, is anything the matter? Please talk to me.”
“It’s Mariana. I’m sorry. Please come back home. I’m really sorry.” She kept crying and apologizing.
What about Mariana and why is she crying?
“What’s the matter, dad?” Marion asked.
“Nothing son but we are going home now.” I got up and took my towel.
Right from the first time, I realized I could do well in the kitchen, going further, and participating in world tournaments have always been my dream. A dream I never had the courage to bring to life until she came into my life and accepted me.
Regardless of who I got these skills from and how much I hate her, I still wanted to do well in what I’m good at. However, the hatred I had for my mum overpowered me and overshadowed my dreams to become a champion. My mum wanted this but she fucked up. I still wouldn’t mind giving this up if any of them dared show their miserable faces.
I don’t know how possibly she could live her life peacefully knowing that she abandoned her children for some fucking idiot. God…
I tucked any thought regarding my parents at the back of my mind and focused my gaze on Paris streets which were filled with numerous lights. No wonder it is called ‘The City of Light’ also because of its dazzling boulevards and bridges.
I could see Paris’s most famous landmark, the glittering Eiffel Tower, as I drove in my hired car to the hotel I lodged into. The monument shined like a beacon especially at night and It’s really a sight to behold.
I parked the car in the lot and got out. Taking the elevator, I went straight to my floor and into my room.
It’s been three days already since I arrived and I’m still waiting for my girlfriend. I couldn’t call her the day arrived but the second day when I called she didn’t pick. I tried again and it was finally switched off. It was strange. Even today I called but her line is off. I hope she’s fine and no one is troubling her.
I really miss her and I’m trying my best to not do anything stupid.
I sat on the bed and glide through the pictures I took of her when she was unaware. She’s beautiful inside out. A perfect epitome of beauty and I’m so lucky that she chose me.
I called to check on my sister then called Nina. She wanted to come but I told her not to. I know of how she can make me do certain things I don’t think of ever doing. She’s good at that. Mariana will be here soon and I don’t want to do anything that will ruin the peace that is reigning between us.
I got up and prepared for tomorrow. I’m glad my team got selected for the second badge since Mariana is still not here and I haven’t got a hold of her.
I hope her mum hasn’t succeeded in turning her against me in my absence. So far that woman has been a major hurdle in my love life. I don’t know if I should go and render my apologies so she could leave us the fucking hell alone. But.. apologize, my foot!
I called her again but still switched off. My chest constricted painfully.
She should tell me that she can’t make it instead of switching her phone off. Now, what does she want me to make out of this?
I’m really disturbed right now because I don’t know what to think.
She gave me hope, she made me see the reasons why I should be here and be taking part and now she doesn’t wanna talk to me when I need her most? It’s been three fucking days already and I haven’t spoken to her. What should I do about that?
Worse of it all,l, I feel like doing something. I picked my car key about to go out but returned. I promised her not to do that. I can’t.
I came back to sit on the bed. I’m so alone. I wish she could just talk to me, that I could just hear her voice. I don’t even know if she’s okay.
Who do I even call in her family? I haven’t been good enough to befriend any of her family members except for her brother who’s strangely showing a kind of likeness to me. I didn’t believe it and I don’t know why he already likes me. He even helped me when I was sneaking to her room the last time.
The next day I was busy throughout and I stayed at the suit my team was for the first time. I had to be with my team and I met a lot of important personalities and world-known chefs. It was a great opportunity for me but the hell I don’t like to be among people and each time someone wants to talk to me, I feel like snubbing and turning to a corner for a fucking sniff or stick to be able to deal with everyone. I wish she was here, by my side.
If I knew she wouldn’t come, I would’ve made her come with me that night.
Apart from missing her terribly and wanting her to be here, my heart kept flipping from time to time and it’s fucking so weird. I could barely concentrate. I don’t know what that strange feeling is about but I can feel it and it’s making me extremely restless.

{Loving him with all his flaws.}
Paula rushed to hug me once I arrived. I looked around the living room and everyone looked worried. I couldn’t see my daughter.
“What’s wrong Paula? And where’s my daughter?”
She looked at me with wet lashes and shook her head.
What does she mean?
“Where’s Mariana, Paula?” I asked again.
“I’m sorry Pablo.” She wept. I don’t understand what is going on.
“Please stop crying.” I wiped her tears. God knows how much I hate to see them.
“Where’s my daughter Nicholas?” I asked my wife’s dad since the daughter seems to have lost her tongue.
He doesn’t say anything instead, he looks guilty.
My heart is beating wildly because no one is willing to tell me anything.
“Can anyone answer me?!” I raised my voice and moved Paula out of the way.
“Mariana is gone, Pablo!” My wife said at last.
“Gone where? As in how?”
“She left the house for three days now and I haven’t seen her.”
“What? Have you called her?”!
She did not answer that one. I pulled my phone out and dialed her number by myself.
It started ringing in Paula’s hands. I walked to her and took the phone.
“What happened Paula? Did you two fight again?” I asked calmly.
She couldn’t meet my eyes so she looked down.
This only happens when she’s hiding something from me or has done something she knows I wouldn’t like.
“What have you done Ana Paula?”
She began to shake her head in denial but I held my hand up to stop her. I know she did something.
“Tell me the truth!.” I demanded sternly and she flinched.
“I’m sorry Pablo. I’m very sorry.” She cried.
“So tell me what you did.” I placed Mariana’s phone back in her hand. I don’t know why she’s keeping it in the first place.
“I…I…kept..” her voice cracked and she covered her mouth, crying bitterly.
“Tell me.” I urge her gently.
“I kept her in her room and..and.. locked her up and now she disappeared and I don’t know where she is. Please believe me, I’m really sorry.”
Oh, God.
I stepped back.
What has Paula gone and done now after I told her to let her be?
“You did what?!” I yelled. I looked around and regretted yelling at her. Marion was there and I vowed not to ever yell at my wife in front of my children.
“Get inside Marion.”
“I won’t go anywhere.” He ran to take a seat. This is how stubborn he can be.
“Tobias please take him inside and Marion when I talk you have to obey me.” I gave him a stern look. He scowled at me and ran upstairs angrily. Once he was out of sight I faced my wife.
“What did you take my daughter for? Is she some animal to be kept in a cave? She’s our daughter Paula and I told you to let her be didn’t I ?”
“I’m sorry.”
“It won’t solve anything. For how long was she inside?”
“Two days.” Her father answered for her instead.
Anger surged through me after hearing that. She kept my daughter inside for a whole two days for what reason? And even that she escaped.
“What have you done Paula?” I ran my hands through my hair.
“With what you’ve done you’ve successfully pushed your daughter away. She will never see you the same as she did before. You’re now her enemy because that’s how she’d see you.” I told her the harsh truth and she looked horrified.
“I didn’t know that it would result in that..” she sobbed.
I looked at Nicholas for help before digging my phone out from my pocket to make calls. I have to know where my daughter has taken off to. I hope she’s fine.
It’s day five and today it’s the competition. It’s the turn of my country to show what we’ve got.
Once I stepped out of the car my team came with it, cameras flashed in my face and I saw a huge crowd outside waving our flag who cheered us on. I resisted the urge to block the camera lights from hitting my face with the back of my hand.
How do these celebrities manage with these blinding lights all the time? And why is the camera directly on me? What the fuck is wrong with them? I’m not the only one on my team.
My image appeared in the glass doors revealing that I was the youngest of all with a lot of tattoos which I am proud of. I guess it’s news since no one expected to see someone like me. Fuck them.
Tired of faking smiles, I frowned as I walked. I should be waving but I glare instead.
I should be happy but I’m annoyed for no reason. I feel like punching anybody who dared smiled at me. What is their shit?
Well, there’s nothing wrong with them actually. I’m the only one sulking because my girlfriend couldn’t show up. I had high expectations that she’d be here with me but she’s not even ready to talk to me.
Everyone always finds their way to leave me one way or the other and somehow I knew she might leave one day too but I didn’t know it would be so soon and the time I need her most.
If only I wasn’t expecting her and there were not million people around, it would’ve been easy. I would’ve tried to manage. Well, I’m trying but I don’t know when someone will irritate me and I will flip.
Finally, I was done walking on the fucking red carpet. I entered the changing room and I was given the chef’s whites which indicated that I’m the main chef and the remaining people in my team are just my subordinates made me smile. At least I’m proud of this. Proud at how far I’ve come. I can’t even believe it that I took the bull by the horns and made it here. I’ve always imagined this day, never had I thought that it would materialize.
It’s all thanks to one girl. She gave me hope. She believed in me and told me that I could do anything. She has been the only one who saw the good in me and my potential, encouraged me to go ahead, that I could do anything. She’s so wonderful and I’m just a dick for not telling her this before. However, I still want her here. Nothing makes sense without her by my side. The minor competitions were not intense compared to this where nosy journalists like herself are everywhere, jumping at every piece of information they get and make a big deal out of it true or not.
After dressing up, I tied the apron and took my phone.
A few minutes more and I will be walking out.
A lot of people have their hopes in me. My country’s victory is in my hands and they also expect the best from me but my entire hope is in Mariana. My win depends on her.
I dialed her number and surprisingly it went through.
I called the security system to check the surveillance cameras around and the ones at the airport. Maybe she traveled out.
I kept making calls after calls but no one was telling me anything.
“I got some information,” Nicholas announced.
“What? Tell me.”
“She was last seen with Jude Anderson in the middle of the road that leads to the airport.”
What? Jude?
I staggered back. I swear this time around I won’t spare that scoundrel if anything should happen to my daughter I will ruin him including his entire generation. How dare him to mess with me again? Just because I don’t do anything means I can’t give him a taste of his own medicine.
“Is that all?” My voice was low.
“Yeah. Let me see who else I can call.”
I walked about restlessly and I’m relieved when Daniel strolled inside.
“Sup Pablito. You all looked worried, is anything the matter?”
“My daughter has gone missing Dan. I have no idea where she is now.”
“Missing? How can she get missing? Is her boyfriend not Donovan Anderson?”
“Yes, what about that?”
“There’s a world culinary championship going on in France and her boyfriend qualified and got selected to represent Australia didn’t you know? He was interviewed on TV recently. I’m so proud of him.”
“So what do you think?”
“She probably traveled with him to support him. She couldn’t be anywhere else.”
“You have a point but I learned she was with Jude Anderson.”
“What?” Dan is surprised as well.
” They said she took the flight to France.” Nicholas who has been on the phone said.
“You see?” Daniel asked with a smile but I’m still not content with this information. I want to hear personally from my daughter that she’s alright.
I reached to take her phone from Paula when it began to ring. I looked at the screen and her boyfriend’s image displayed.
I picked the call and rest it to my ears without talking.
“Oh thank God you fucking finally answered my call Riana. Where are you? It’s been five fucking days Mariana and I’ve been waiting for you. If you knew you wouldn’t come you should’ve at least called me to make your reasons known. I’m all alone here and I don’t have a fucking clue on what to do. I feel like doing shit but I promised you. I need you here Mariana and you know it. How can you do this to me? Did you give up on me already? You promised to be here with me, remember? What changed? What happened that you don’t even wanna talk to me again? I can barely breathe among all these people and you’re not even here. I can barely think or do anything. My mind is blank and I can’t think of anything. Are you not coming? Tell me something Riana.” He exhaled deeply. “I will be leaving any minute now…I don’t have much time left. Please tell me something. Say something Riana. You’re not even talking. Why are you doing this to me? Say something Mariana. Hello.. hello.”
I hung up.
This is sad.
It looks like he really needs my daughter right now. But if she’s not with him then where could she be?
Paula has really gone far in this. Not only did her actions endanger and hurt our daughter but a young man’s future is also at stake. Right now he needs my daughter badly to be able to go through the competition. I don’t know what they have going on but he really needs her.
It’s better I ended the call because I can’t tell him that Mariana is missing and he’d be at peace. He won’t be able to go through the competition if I should tell him so it’s better this way.
“She’s not with him Dan.”
“What are you saying? If she’s not with him then where would she be?”
I shrugged. I just pray she’s fine wherever she is.
“I have bad news, Pablo. They said she got unconscious while onboard and had to be rushed to the hospital once they got to France.” The room fell in silence after Paula gasped loudly.
My daughter? Unconscious? What happened?
“Which hospital Nicholas? And did you get a number we can contact?”
“I got this information from a pilot and this is all he knew.”
“So what do we do now?” I ran my hands through my hair. I can’t lose my daughter. Not again!
“Calm down Pablo. Can I have your laptop?”
“Sure.” I raced to my study and brought my laptop out.
Daniel sat down and began to operate it.
“She’s admitted at a nearby hospital close to the airport and currently receiving medical treatment.”
“Did you get a number?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Please call out the digits.” I turned on the dial pad and typed the numbers as he mentioned them.
I looked at Paula who was still sobbing and I couldn’t help not saying anything to her.
“Upon all our suffering, the struggles, the pain of separation, and all the challenges we faced you still did this to our own daughter? For what exactly did you do this after I told you specifically to let her be? What is wrong with you? I really can’t believe you did this and I won’t forgive you if any harm comes to my dear daughter this, I promise you. I don’t see any difference between my mum and you now..”
She looked up at me sadly and her tears flowed freely.
The last words tasted like bile on my tongue. Paula is nothing like my once wicked mum. That woman was a devil but then it all starts little by little and it builds up. I pray and hope that Paula will end this new madness.
I shook my head and dialed the number.
It was hard. She picked the call but couldn’t tell me anything. Not even a simple ‘hello’. She just made me rant and I doubt if she heard me.
I led my team of four to our position on stage and looked back at the special seat I reserved for her. It was a perfect position and I could see her anytime I turned but right now that seat is empty.
The time was set and I closed my eyes momentarily before opening them. If only she spoke to me. I hate this.
My team members were looking at me for me to say something. If this wasn’t some competition I would’ve told them to fuck off and stop staring at me. And they’re even older than me.
I looked around at what we have. Every ingredient was intact. I need to start something. I can do it. Thinking before beginning this is very important but how can I think when my girlfriend broke my heart at this important juncture? My thoughts are jumbled and clouded with her. I can’t think or plan. I really can’t do anything. I feel like shit. It’s really not healthy to depend on someone. They’ll let you down one day in the middle of the way. It’s always good to be for yourself and not expect things from people. Your expectations should never be too high.
Mariana really shouldn’t have done this to me.
I picked a knife and it slipped from my hands creating a loud sound. “Fuck!” I cursed.
“Where’s your mind young man? Are you sure you can do this?” One of the elderly men whose name i didn’t bother to keep asked and I glared at him.
“Small kids. I’m sure he’s thinking of his girlfriend.” One of them sneered.
“I’m not a kid, got it?” I fired. It’s unfortunate I couldn’t even keep their names.
“Why don’t we start something? You’re just standing there and reminiscing on god knows what when there are important things to be done. The whole country looks up to us young man. They expect us to win. Put your shits together and let’s get to work. Learn to deal with your private life and professional life separately.” The elderly man whisper-yelled.
She’s not just anybody. She’s my muse. My inspiration. I’m only here because of her. She’s my everything.
“Alright fine. Stop scolding me already.” I stared at their faces and back to our stage kitchen. Other countries are so busy but I don’t give a fuck.
I decided to think, plan, and make mental calculations before beginning anything.
I thought of a silly idea. It’s stupid but I still did it anyway.
I got my wallet from my pocket and retrieved the beautiful chain she got me.
I wrapped it on my wrist and tried to focus. It worked a little but it’s okay.
When I opened my eyes, they met with bright white walls and ceiling. I squinted my eyes and closed them back. I finally opened up and looked around.
What happened? I tried to recollect and everything that happened replayed. The competition.
“Novan!” I shouted and got out of the bed.
I found my bag on the seat in front of the bed and went for it.
“Where are you off to, young lady?” My eyebrows raised at the new voice.
A tall man with a phone pressed to his ear who looked like a doctor because of his white robe and the stethoscope I see on his neck walked in.
“I’m fine. I want to go.”
“Yeah, I know but before that, talk to your father first. He wants to talk to you.”His french accent was thick.
“I don’t wanna talk to anyone! Tell him to tell his wife that I don’t wanna ever see her again!” I took to my heels out of the hospital.
I don’t even know where to go from here. Oh, Novan! I’m so sorry. Everything should be over by now and I know he’s busy cussing me out now for lying to him.
Mum, why did you do this to me, to us?
{Loving him with all his flaws.}

“I don’t wanna talk to anyone! Tell him to tell his wife that I don’t wanna ever see her again!”
Her words were not the best but I’m glad to hear her voice though it was filled with pure anger.
“Mr. Dominguez, elle est partie.Dois-je l’arr锚ter?”
(Mr. Dominguez, she left. Should I stop her?)
“Non, laisse-la faire. Merci, Didier.”
(No, let her be. Thanks, Didier.)
I dropped the call and turned on my heels.
“Wait, Pablo, what did they say?” Daniel asked, walking behind me.
“She’s fine. She just doesn’t wanna talk to me.”
“That’s bad. Our little fairy is angry.”
“Yeah.” I folded the sleeves of my dress shirt then sat on my desk. Daniel took a seat opposite to me.
I’ve known Dan since I was a kid and we’ve been friends all our lives. He’s a brother from another mother and he stood by me through my darkest days. He has been there through the pains and joyous moments and supported me. Our friendship is still intact and he’s still helping me as you can see.
“She’d come around,” Daniel assured me and I smiled.
“You’re lucky she doesn’t throw tantrums like my boy.”
“Yeah, he’s grown but a headache altogether.”
I laughed. “Where’s he by the way?”
“He traveled and refused to tell me where he went. He didn’t even tell his mum and it’s been days now.”
“Oops! And you didn’t find out where he went?”
“You know me. I already knew before he even embarked on that journey. He thinks he’s smart.”
I laughed some more. Morgan really didn’t think he could hide something from his dad and he won’t know.
“That boy got a girlfriend also but kept it a secret from us. I hate that he’s being so secretive about everything.”
“You and I know he’s keeping no secret since you know everything.” I laughed again. I find everything so amusing.
“What if I wasn’t a detective before? Then I won’t know anything.” He doesn’t look happy.
“So Morgan is dating?”
He nodded.
How quickly time flies. Morgan was just a kid. Well, he’s still a kid.
“Is he not too young to get a girlfriend? How old is he?” I asked.
“16. He’d be 17 this year. He’s too young for that.”
“He doesn’t look young though. His stature fits age 20.”
“Yeah but he’s still young. No wonder he couldn’t get his age mate.” Daniel chuckled.
“What?” I gaped at him, eager to hear more.
“His girl is older than him two years.” Daniel presented two fingers dramatically. He’s a gossip king and I’m his partner for now.
“What! Do you know her? I mean the girl.”
“Yeah. Everyone knows her. Even you.”
“She’s Betsy. Betsy Brew. Your daughter’s best friend. Remember her?”
“Of course.” How can I forget the girl who has been there for my daughter so much that she would lie to cover up for her? I still can’t forget that lie she told me when I was looking for Mariana.
“So what are you going to do?”
He scoffed. “What can I do? That young man doesn’t give me a chance to say anything to him. He thinks he knows everything and I hate that he has his own money.”
“Sorry, bro. But he’s your son. Sometimes you have to talk and show him his place. Don’t let him do and get away with everything.”
“Yes but another problem is my wife. Sometimes I think he got everything from his mother. They’re both wayward.” He let out in frustration.
“Hey! What’s wrong? Is everything okay between you and your wife?”
“Not really but she supports him in everything and anytime I stand against it,… you know women. She would be blinking those eyes at me and I can’t..”
“You can’t resist!” I finished for him and we both burst into laughter.
“God Pablo. It’s really not funny but that woman knows all my buttons and knows when and how to press it. Sometimes I feel like shit. Like I’m dancing to her tunes. She totally has me wrapped around her mighty fingers and I’m helpless.”
“She’s just using your weak points against you but don’t tell me you don’t enjoy it,” I smirked.
“Yeah yeah but that’s making my son rot.”
“Morgan isn’t doing anything. You saw the kind of guy my daughter brought home?.”
It was his turn to laugh.
“Yeah. Don’t let that music goddess charm you all the time. You’re the man, let everything you say be final. I know Morgan is not rude. He’s a sweet boy and you did well in bringing him up but you see, his only problem is traveling and I think he got that from his mum. Amy is a musician and her son took after her. You know how it is.”
“He even changed his name.”
“Don’t blame him. I don’t know what you and Amy were thinking to give him that feminine name. I support him on that.”
“Yea. Think about what I told you. Let Amy feel your manliness. Not only in the bed but..” I winked.
He threw his head back in laughter then suddenly stopped.
“Thanks, Pablo, I think I’d leave.” He got up
“Why so soon? You just came?”
“I will come back soon. Your wife is waiting.” He whispered the last part and walked out of my study.
I looked behind me and saw Paula standing at the door, resting her head on the door frame. Her eyes were still red and swollen from too much crying.
I got up, stuffed my hands into my pocket, and walked past her.
She heaved heavily and I heard her light footsteps behind me.
I ran up the stairs and got into our bedroom. Standing in front of the mirror, I took my shirt off.
“Stop ignoring me, Pablo.”
I looked at her through the mirror. “I’m not ignoring you. What makes you think so?”
“You walked past me without a word.”
“What do you want me to say to you?”
“What you said downstairs, I didn’t like it. How can you say that?”
“Was it a good thing that you did?”
“Look, Pablo, I admit locking Mariana up wasn’t a wise thing to do but what could I have done? She doesn’t listen to anything that I say and he chose that boy over me.”
I sighed and turned.
“Locking her up was extreme. I didn’t think you’d step that far.”
“So you will blame me for everything? That I’m bad? That I did all this for nothing?”
“Nothing can justify what you did Paula.”
“Oh really? Our daughter is drifting slowly away and you sit there and encourage her to go on? I thought we decided on not letting her near that boy? What changed?”
“Yes, we did but..”
“Stop it, Pablo.” She holds her finger up to silence me. ” You don’t know what I’m going through. You’re seriously mad and blaming me for what I did but you don’t know anything. I suffered over her but you weren’t there. I gave birth to her alone and you weren’t there to see the pain I went through knowing she was my first. I went through pains in raising her up but you were never there. You didn’t feel the pain I went through and how I felt after losing her for ten years. You don’t understand anything and I’m sorry that I thought you did. She thinks she loves that boy probably because he manipulated her and you allow it. You allow the son of a man who was the source of all our pains and loss to get close to our daughter. His father harassed me Pablo and I can never forget that. He teamed up with your mum to ruin me and I almost died in their hands. You witnessed all of this and yet you do nothing. Is that how much you care? You don’t know the things I lost because of that man.” She began to weep again.
I closed my eyes for a moment. I don’t like it when she uses the past against me. I was young and immature. I let my mum get into my head and she made me do things I shouldn’t have done? What could I have done seeing my wife in bed with some random men? Not one and not two. I couldn’t take it and the day I found out was when she got into labor. I was at the office when I received those proofs. I was shattered and when Daniel was calling to tell me that her water broke, I couldn’t come. I felt betrayed and I thought the baby wasn’t mine. God, I so much regret those times. She left and I didn’t find her for five years.
I opened my eyes and they fell on the woman I suffered with together to reach where I am now crying her eyes out.
“I feel your pain Paula but locking her was bad. You..”
“You’re still scolding me instead of saying something to revive my hope. You know what, get out of here!” She yelled.
Really? Paula and I fighting? We never do this.
“So you won’t stop troubling our daughter all in the name of protecting her?”
“I will do whatever I have to ensure that she’s safe and not with that boy. I don’t want him with my daughter and never will. You’re sick to think that I will allow that to happen. My girl is changing. She doesn’t talk to me anymore and about the so-called competition, she didn’t even tell me about it. We could talk but she doesn’t talk to me. That boy and his dad are only good at bringing separation and he’s doing just that which I will never allow. Mariana is mine. She’s my only daughter. I can’t lose her because if I do, I will never get the opportunity to be the mother of a girl. I will never have a daughter! She’s my everything.”
“What are you talking about?” I blinked and stepped closer to her.
“I feel like I’m losing her Pablo. You know I love her so much. I won’t be able to live if something were to happen to her. I feel terrible already that she ended in the hospital because of me. I really do and I’m sorry. If only she’d listen to me.”
“I know Paula but you ain’t doing things the right way. You’re pushing her away instead. Try to understand her and respect her decisions, you two will be good. I think she really likes the boy and the boy does too. Let’s give them a chance.”
She shook her head. “Never. She can go for anybody else but not the son of that man. Not under my watch!”
“Can you listen to yourself? You sound like my mum. These were the same words she spoke. Just that your mum was the one who took my father away from me and broke my mum’s marriage. She did whatever she did because of that and now you too?”
“Don’t dare compare me to that evil mum of yours!” She raised her voice.
This isn’t happening.
“I know you’re nothing like her but it’s building up. You’d do anything to see Mariana and the boy apart won’t you?”
“I’m not gonna kill or harm anybody. I might just send her out of the country far away so that they’ll never meet or I will do something else that will break them apart peacefully.”
“She’s my daughter too Paula. I won’t let you do that!” I raised my voice as well. She’s getting on my nerves and I could feel the anger burning inside me. Mariana is not only her daughter.
“You’re ruining her by allowing certain things Pablo. I know what’s best for her. She’s going to be fine.”
“You don’t know anything. Do you know what she said to tell you?” I asked and contemplated telling her or not.
“She doesn’t want to see or talk to you anymore Paula. She was very angry.” I looked into her beautiful eyes.
“Really? She said that?”
I nodded
“It’s nothing. She can’t do without me so she’d come around.”
“What if she doesn’t?”
She looked up at me, her lips quivering.
I gathered her into my arms and hugged her. She cried into my chest uncontrollably.
“It’s okay Paula. You’ve cried enough.” I wiped the tears running down her smooth face.
“Pablo I love her. I can’t lose her. Not again.”
“I know and that’s why we have to figure something out. You can’t continue to be police. From now on, I strip you of that duty.”
She pushed back and threw a fist against my chest. “Really?”
“Yes. You won’t lock anyone up again. I will lock you down instead.” I brought my lips down on hers and truly locked our lips in a kiss. She was surprised but did away with it and kissed me back.
I have to find a way to stop her from doing any further stupid thing.
“Pablo?” She breathed and rested her forehead against mine. “You will do something right? You will help me won’t you?”
“Help? What kind of help?”
Mariana can’t get involved with that boy.”
“She likes him.”
“No, she doesn’t. She only thinks she does.”
“If she can choose him over you as you said then don’t you think she likes him?”
She kept mute for some seconds. “I’m scared.”
“I will protect her love. Don’t you trust me?”
“I do.”
“Then what again? Let Mariana be. You’re causing her pain and you’re both hurting.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Say that to her but you’re not doing anything again.”
“Thanks.” I smiled at her.
“It doesn’t mean I won’t do anything though.”
“What will you do?”
“Something we’ve both been waiting to do. I will just push it forward.”
“No Paula. She’s not prepared and still in school. You can’t do that!”
“You won’t stop me, I’ve already made my mind up.”
“You’re still as stubborn as ever. Why don’t you just let the girl be and focus on our plan instead?”
“Which plan?” She smiled knowingly, revealing her perfect set of teeth.
I’m glad this is over.
“Fighting is really not our thing Paula. Please this shouldn’t happen again.” I looked into her eyes and got lost Into them.
” Okay but don’t compare me to your mother’s ex character again Pablo. I was hurt.”
“I’m sorry.” I swiped my thumb on her cheeks.
“Okay.” She looped her hands on my neck, still smiling at me. That alone melts my heart.
“So about our mission, any news yet? I’m so eager.” I stressed my words.
“Well, how about you tell me if my daughter is fine or not. You know you said she ended up in a hospital. I’m so sorry. Really.”
“Don’t worry. She’d be fine.” I assured her.
“What? Why did she go unconscious?”
“Anxiety and fright. The doctor said it was severe and he thinks it might be a phobia?”
“Phobia? But why?”
“Maybe our accident must’ve affected her that she can’t fly. You remember how she got into an accident when it was raining and there was lightning?”
Sadness and worry clouded her face again. “What are going to do about that?”
” A therapy or something. Let her come home first then we can sit and talk.”
“Yeah but she traveled just recently and nothing happened.”
“How’d you know? And she was with him, she didn’t travel alone.”
“Yeah so..”
“Enough Paula. I don’t know why you’re dodging my question. Mariana is fine. I made sure of that. Now tell me, is there any baby yet?”
“Pablo I..”
“Don’t worry. We’d try again.”
Standing by the road, I didn’t know where to go. I looked behind me at the big hospital and back to the road. What to do?
I have no clue as to where to go from here. I feel like Alice now.
I decided to stop a taxi. Hopefully one stopped and I got in.
O霉 vas tu mademoiselle?”
“Sorry? You said something?” I asked. I think I heard him say something.
“O霉 vas tu?”
Okay. So he spoke french. This is another problem. How do I communicate with these people?
I wish I had my phone here.
“Erm..” I paused and replayed what he said. I’m learning French in college so I should be able to know something at least.
“Don’t you understand any English?”
Okay. This man must be illiterate. I can’t believe he can’t speak any English at all apart from french.
I opened my backpack and I’m surprised to find what I parked intact. I saw the bundle of cash I put inside the realized that I have to change them into Euros.
“Emmenez-moi au bureau de change.” I managed to say. I want him to take me to where I can change my money. I even showed him my dollars to put my words across.
“d’accord” he said and drove away into the street.
It wasn’t long before he stopped in front of a bureau.
“J’arrive” I said and got down. Thank God my French is coming. At first, my mind was blank. I’m not good at it but there’s no way I won’t understand and speak the basic ones.
It was easy changing the money because the people speak English.
From there, I made the driver take me to a phone shop where I bought a new phone and Sim.
After that, I used it to communicate properly with him by using Google translate. I googled about the competition and I got relieved when I found out it was ongoing and that four hours more until it will be over. I decided to do something about my appearance quickly.
I made him take me to a beauty salon where I got myself taken care of. I bathed, got my hair washed, and a light make-up. I wore the dress Novan said he likes and bought a pair of heels to match. After the makeover, I looked presentable enough.
The driver gaped at me when I got out and joined him in the car.
“Tu es tr猫s belle.” He complimented and I smiled.
“Amenez-moi 脿 Lyon” I told him to drive me to Lyon where the competition was held. I went on and told him about the competition and told him to take me directly to the venue. I just hope and pray that Novan doesn’t leave the stage before I get there. He has no idea what I passed through to be here for him. I rest my head against the window and took in the breathtaking scenery of France.
I got down when we arrived and walking out of the lot, I saw a lone figure leaning against a car in the dark.
I walked past the figure and looked around as I walked. The entire place was filled with a lot of people laughing and chanting.
When I got into the culinary theatre, my eyes met the huge stage where a group of people in chef’s clothing stood and a Bocuse d’Or trophy of a golden effigy of Paul Bocuse in his chef’s outfit was being presented to them and a mouthwatering cash prize was awarded.
The chef wasn’t Novan and the country jubilating is definitely not Australia. It’s over. I’m late. I let Novan down.
My eyes burned as I looked around for him. My mind went back to the lone figure standing in the dark at the parking lot. No!
Novan. It was him. How did I not notice?
I run back to the lot and I’m not surprised when I saw that familiar figure in his normal attire, leaning on a car with his hands on his face.
I walked to his front and with shaky hands, placed my hand over his. He flinched and jerked. My hand flew to my side as his gaze settled on me. His brows furrowed and then he averted his gaze. Without a word, he moved past me.
He didn’t stop or turned until he got to a black car and opened it.
I doubled my steps and stopped at his front, preventing him from getting into the car.
“Novan,” I called again. His face was expressionless and void of any emotions. Worse of all, he’s behaving as if he doesn’t know or seen me before.
“Novan?” I whispered, looking at him pleadingly.
“Out of my way.” With his hand, he brushed me aside.
{Loving him with all his flaws.}
“Out of my way.” With his hand, he brushed me aside.
“Novan.” I held onto his shirt tightly, preventing him from entering the car.
“Let go of me.” He growled in annoyance.
“Tell me why. Why should I Novan?” I pressed my lips together and blinked back my tears.
“Just get out of here and let me be. You were never here. Why now?”
“I’m sorry Novan. I swear I really am…”
“Enough! Don’t tell me sorry because it won’t change shit!”
“You don’t know what I passed through Novan. I swear I did everything possible to be here..”
“It’s too late. Can you let go of me already?”
“No. You’re not trying your best to listen to me Novan. First, I said I’m sorry I came late..”
“God! Why are you even talking? Tell me what exactly you want me to do?”
“Are you angry at me?” I asked calmly.
“No. Why should I be?”
“Then what?” I tried to meet his eyes but he wasn’t looking at me but far ahead.
“I lost Mariana. What did you expect me to do? Buy coke and with a crossed leg, drink to my heart content? Or I should be laughing about.” He scoffed and rested his elbows on the car.
I can’t believe he lost this and I’m thinking I’m the cause. I was supposed to be here long ago.
“I want to go.” He yanked his shirt from my grasp and entered the car
“Wait. I’m coming.” I said and he got out in a flash.
“No. Stay away from me! I don’t want you.”
“You heard me. I want you nowhere near me henceforth.”
“You’re don’t mean it.” I feel my heart breaking into pieces.
Without a word, he got into the car. I rushed to get in with him but he zoomed off in a jiffy.
Not able to stop my tears, I dropped down on my knees and watched his car disappear into the street.
“Novan..” I cried.
“Madame.” I felt a tap then a shook of my arm.
My eyes opened and I looked around. I’m still in the car. Gosh, I slept. My head was still resting on the window and I felt a liquid running down my face.
“Novan.” I realized they were tears. He lost and he left. He left me.
My eyes met the driver again.
“nous sommes ici” (we’re here)
What? We just arrived?
God. It was a dream. I was dreaming and everything that happened didn’t occur. I wiped my face and got down.
I smiled when my eyes meet the SIRHA International Hotel. The very place I will be seeing Novan. I exchanged contact with the driver and quickened my steps into the grande hotel.
I didn’t care about the cameras but I was surprised when a lady and a man came to meet me with all smiles.
“You must be Miss Dominguez.” The lady said sweetly.
“Nice meeting you and you’re welcome. A seat has been reserved for you so please follow me.” The man said and took the lead.
The theatre was huge, just like the stadium and it was filled with an audience, press and big men of which most were renounce chefs. There’s lots of noise because of the endless cheering. I could see some of the president of the countries participating and also some of the famous important personalities I know. The competition is being broadcast live around the world.
Facing the jury and as well as the members of the press and spectators is an equipped lined up stage kitchen with teams busy as an ant.
There was no idle person on stage as everyone was rushing to do something.
My eyes searched for Novan among the teams on stage but not until I took my seat which was at the front I didn’t see him.
“Thanks.” I smiled at the man and the lady who showed me my seat. “May I know why this seat was reserved and who did?”
“The youngest and hottest chef of all time this contest had ever produced reserved this place and specifically paid us to make sure you sit here. Thank God you finally arrived. Our work is over now and we can go and rest right, Philip?”
“Yes, Cynthia.”
“Have a nice time.” They chorused and bowed slightly, gave me Australia’s hand flag before leaving.
My eyes shifted from them and eased on Novan’s that instant. He was looking at me already. Our gazes locked and a soft smile tugged at the corners of his lips. I gave him an encouraging thumbs up and a huge smile. “YOU CAN DO IT!!!” I mouthed and he nodded.
At this point, my happiness knew no bounds by just seeing Novan doing what he loves, a sight I didn’t wanna ever miss. I’m glad I made it despite what I have to go through and though I am late.
I lost all hopes when after the preparation of one of the dishes which was a meat dish and still Mariana hasn’t arrived. Her absence was like a blow to me and I wasn’t giving my best as I should. I depended on her for this competition to make a success.
I had a little hope when I specked Betsy and her boyfriend among the crowd. They couldn’t have come for me because we don’t vibe. It must be that she finally came.
I didn’t look much longer so I focused on beginning the second dish. The first dish is done and served to the jury by our team’s president. I hope it’s good. I tried my best but that inspiration wasn’t there to make it extra good.
“The fish please?.” I asked and reached for the board then the seasonings.
“Here.” Conrad, my assistant passed it over. I finally got to know his name after he repeatedly screamed it into my face literally. I didn’t bother about the other two but it didn’t mean we didn’t work hand in hand. Proper teamwork is one of the things the jury takes note of and I’m not ready to lose that 20 marks.
Despite being a total jerk, we cooperated peacefully.
“We don’t have much time left, lover boy. Please would you hurry up? We’re slacking.”
“I’m doing something Conrad, I’m not laughing into the air.”
” A little faster.” He urged as he worked out the vegetables.
He chuckled when he caught me glaring at him again. Turning my eyes away from him, I decided to look one last time and I saw her. My heart stopped beating for a second as absolute relief, energy, hope, and joy embraced me.
Her smile was what did it for me and those words she mouthed. I couldn’t help the smile that stole its way to my lips. This girl.
I turned in enthusiasm and new energy and vigor that passed through my bloodstreams lightened me up.
I want to win for her, for us and for our country.
I took charge of everything with swift moves as I prepared the fish dish to the amazement of my team. They stared at me with an open mouth when I finished the dish in less than thirty minutes without their help. I couldn’t even believe it myself that I did everything in such a short possible time.
“Whoa! What has gotten into you? Just a moment ago you looked like a sick puppy and now you came up stronger and faster..”
“Reserve the comments for later, Conrad and get the plates ready for me quick.”
“Jack the plates.” He called.
All my life I’ve rehearsed this dish and though the Bocuse made a lot of changes, I didn’t have difficulties. You know the saying practice makes perfect right? Yeah. This was a dream and we worked towards dreams to make it a reality. If I had slept on it and not doing anything, then I think I wouldn’t have been able to even boil water.
My team went out for ingredients yesterday and of course, I was present to make the selections consisting of the freshest and best we could get not forgetting I had to bring some all the way from Australia. My aim was to arrive at something peculiar, unique, and extraordinary, something that no one will think of, seen, or tasted before that will leave everyone spellbound and stupefied. I worked hard for this day, the recipes, and all. I didn’t just start recently. I hate failure so I always put in my best and try to meet up. I just needed a little inspiration and I have it. My Dolly. I know I’m not the best but this is my best I’m putting in and I hope it will leave everyone speechless.
“Time for the platter!” I announced and they all gathered around me. I’m glad she came before I will be preparing the platter and the themed plate.
“Wow! This is unexpected. I didn’t know you had that?” He beamed.
I smiled, “I showed it to you Conrad. You just didn’t take notice.”
“Yeah but still. I still can’t believe you came up with something like this all by yourself.”
Yeah. Greater part of my wealth went into making this special platter because I have to go for the best designer in Chicago. I thought about it for years until I came up with this. I didn’t do it alone, of course, I sort opinions from a few people I know like my professor. I’m most glad that we’re through with the dishes and it was left with the final part of the competition and it will be over.
“Let me see what you came up with.” I looked at him.
“Sure. Yours beat mine though.” He mumbled and unwrapped the designed platter. It was great. I love it.
“That’s not bad for an oldie like you?” I smirked and he had to knock me.
“Ouch. How the fuck could you? Did you two see that?” I asked and they giggled. Conrad is the oldest among us and followed by the other two. For them, they’re just there to run errands while Conrad is assisting me. I never knew we could chat and laugh like this considering how sour and angry I was from the beginning. We’re relating decently to my surprise.
“How many more minutes do we have?”
“An hour and two minutes,” Joel said, looking at the clock in our kitchen.
“Okay.” I snapped my fingers and we start to work on making the platter.
In the preparation of the platter, everyone contributed and suggestions were made. I couldn’t have done that all by myself though I would’ve tried.
Conrad being the eldest and having a lot of experience brought the best and thoughtful ideas I couldn’t have come up with in arranging the dishes on the platter. I was impressed and left dumbfounded. I might be good at cooking and preparing recipes but Conrad is excellent In decorations no two ways about that and I’m of high hopes that, even if we don’t win, we won’t return empty-handed.
Thirty minutes after and we’re just making adjustments, doing a final garnishing, decorations, and putting things in place.
“Ten minutes more!”
and… we’re set!
{Loving him with all his flaws.}
“Ladies and gentlemen here come the most anticipated moment. The moment our last twelve finalists will leave us mesmerized with their presentation. Yesterday’s competition was tough and exciting but today’s is even tougher, exciting, and super interesting and full of surprises. In all the thirty years of competition, there hasn’t been any youngster chef but this year is different so when I say surprises you must understand. Hold your breath as the presentation begins and don’t leave. Judges, are you readyyyyyyy!!”
The twenty-four panel of judges raised their thumbs.
“Okay! Our judges are ready. Quickly, I will call the twelve countries about to present. Hope everyone is here? Media houses, are you all here?”
The piercing sounds of the audiences made me cover my ears. It was so deafening.
“Alright, when I mention your country you stand and shout loudly enough to shake your opponents. Ok, so we go. ARGENTINA!!”
God. I covered my ears. There was drumming, chanting and singing. It was so loud.
“It’s okay okay. Now we have the country that took a risk to wow us. Honorable Ministers, Mr. Morgan Dante, son of the renounced judge Daniel Dante, who’s also our favorite r&b singer, Our very own Mariana Della Dominguez, daughter of multi-billionaire Pablo Dominguez and the successor of the Dominguez empire who all came all the way from Australia and there’s, in fact, a lot of important personalities who came all from Australia to witness this prestigious cooking contest who I did well to address earlier on. So Ladies and gentlemen we have AUSTRALIA!!”
Okay. I’m mortified. I didn’t know I was taken note of and I’m also surprised that Morgan is here and probably with Betsy. I still don’t know why they chose to leave me.
I wave my flag with a smile and you can imagine the cameras. They were now positioned on me properly. It seems everyone wants to take a picture of me. My eyes clicked on the seats for the distinguished guest and I saw Morgan with Betsy who was looking all around probably to see me.
“Next is BELGIUM! one of the best countries..”
As usual, the sounds were deafening and it went on and on from Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France itself then Hungary and lastly,…
“Ladies and gentlemen, all distinguished guest, make noise for ICELAND!”
After the introductions, the teams began to present their works in the manner in which they were called.the presentation of the plates and platters begins. The crowd is going wild. The plates are paraded in front of the media — now relegated to the press corridor, behind a large partition — before being sliced with breathless announcer commentary and served to the judges who have taken their seats in front of the kitchen.
My eyes remained on Novan and his team as they moved forward with their covered platter and themed plate. He still had that ridiculous long cap on top of his head and overall whites. He looked good regardless.
Every team’s president started the servings of their dish until the last.
After an approximate time of 20 minutes, the judges were done tasting and ready to ask questions about the food, and all the twelve chefs lined up in front of them. Novan wasn’t looking at me again but he just stared into distance. He keeps biting his lips and it looks like he’s shy and nervous. I wish I could just go up there and give him a gentle squeeze on the shoulder.
“Team Argentina, you made a great dish, both the fish and meat. Explain to the jury what was the idea behind the dish creation, from where you drew your inspiration and what the dish elements mean to you.” The main judge asked. The theatre was now as quiet as a graveyard will be.
“Thank you, sir. The idea behind is to create something France and totally France to show how diverse we’re that’s why we arrive at such recipe. Our couch has been our inspiration because he once won the Bocuse. He’s been wonderful and…”
“Here you are.” My head turned to the direction of the voice and I saw Ed. I moved my bag from the seat I kept it at and made him sit. He was dressed formally except for the Australian t-shirt he wore which looked casual. He looked everything Edward, dapper as always.
“Vous 锚tes les bienvenus en France,” I said and he smiled before finally bursting into laughter.
“Since when have you been here? I mean in France.” Edward asked.
“Not too long ago and I regret I missed a lot of things.”
“That sucks. You should’ve come with me then we would’ve toured France before the competition begins.”
“Not bad. I’m sure it would’ve been fun. Now that you said it I feel terrible for not being here long ago.”
“I called you but your line was off when I arrived. What happened?”
“Nothing really..”
My eyes moved back to the stage and I stopped talking. Novan is speaking.
“Australia really shocked us this year and we’re yet to recover. Being the main chef, they must’ve seen something in you. I mean the country coach, your president, and the entire Australia. Just like the MC said, Australia took a risk, can you tell us more? The idea behind the dish, the inspiration, and what the dish elements mean to you.”
He cleared his throat and as he began to speak, I felt all warm, fussy, and proud inside.
Edward nudges me playfully. I smiled at him and moved my gaze back to the stage. It met with Novan’s eyes but it didn’t stay long before settling on Ed. His face depicted anger and jealousy.
Novan can’t be serious. He’s on stage with multiple cameras flashing on him and he’s busy staring daggers at Ed while he’s being awaited on to answer the jury.
“Mr. Anderson?”
His eyes moved from Ed at last then he began to speak. “Um. Sorry about that. The idea behind our dish is to bring out something uniquely Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America, and of course, Australia combined together but distinctly. We tried our very best to make sure we brought out the distinct taste of these continents together into making one dish and we strived to come to the results where after taking this dish, you can sense each continent flavor and the harmony despite the combination in it. The concept is peace and togetherness in spite of the differences and that was our idea and target. We went for the best dish element from the market because it is what will bring out the flavor and taste of the dish. We were particular about it because, without it, we wouldn’t arrive at any good result. Before all this, everything comes down to the inspiration. Well in this competition, each of my team members had their own inspiration which I’m sure of. My inspiration came from someone dear, rare, and priceless. She’s the best and helped bring the best out of me. I’m only here because of her and nobody else. Thank you!”
There was a round of applause after and I just felt like running up the stage and kissing him.
“Thank you, Mr. Anderson. Now we move to Belgium.”
The twelve countries all spoke and were given another 35minutes to set a platter. The chanting of patriotic songs began and the drumming. Everything worth merrymaking to cheer the chefs up. The noise level was so high.
“This is the last part. Any team who can wow the jury and the audience take it.” Ed whispered to me.
This is one of the reasons why I will always choose him over anyone else to sit beside me..he always tries to explain and fill in what I don’t know.
“Really? What does it take?” I asked, turning my attention on him.
“Creativity. This is also where cooking shifts from being a science into an art. You’ll see. All these chefs were given the same task but you know none of their dishes will have the same taste and flavor. One will always be the best of all. You can’t explain why.” He clarified.
“Seriously, I can’t wait to see you participating in this competition one day.”
“I told you, I prefer to watch. I manage a restaurant and I’m okay with that. I also have my dad’s business to deal with. I can’t add more stress to my life. Life is meant to be enjoyed not to be draining yourself on other things when you have enough before you already.”
“When you put limits along the line, you can’t go higher, you know that right?” I looked at him.
“Yeah but I just don’t want to waste my time working all day.” He smirked when his eyes met mine. “I pity you seriously. You have so much to do despite being a lady. Your boyfriend also hates to be confined in an office and wearing suits and ties. Who will help you?”
“I won’t have to do anything major. I will just appoint trusted personnel to manage the business and I will supervise and act as a check. I will keep them on their toes to make sure there isn’t something fishy going on or lack of seriousness and dedication.”
“It’s not easy to get selfless and hard-working people that’s why most people prefer to manage their own companies to avoid bankruptcy and squandering of funds. Your company will collapse if those things should go on and I’m sure it’s the reason why your dad is still managing the businesses until now.”
“You have a point but let’s not talk about that. It’s freaking me out already.” I chuckled dryly. I wish I didn’t have any business to take care of after school. I’d like to start my own thing and fend for myself. I can’t wait for Marion to take over when he’s finally of age.
“Alright. I’m so excited about this last part really. You’ll see the level of creativity and you’d be wowed.” He stared ahead with a smile, rubbing his palms together.
“Will you tell me something?” I asked
“You told me Novan didn’t qualify. You said he never came and that you did your best. So how come?”
“Oh, that? I’m sorry. I actually lied to you because I didn’t want to get your hopes high.”
“Hopes high? What do you mean?”
“Donovan is unpredictable, he can back out anytime so that was why I didn’t tell you that he came back eventually but you were gone then.”
I bobbed my head and stayed quiet. My stomach churned, reminding me that I haven’t had anything to eat the entire day or for two days now. It got worse and I was awfully uncomfortable.
“How many more minutes and the time will be over? I inquired.
“15 minutes. Wanna go somewhere?”
“Yeah, I will love to take something even if it’s just snacks.”
Alright. This is a hotel so you definitely don’t have to worry. I will take you.”
“Thanks.” We got up and made our way out. I will just grab something and come back.
“Ana, come have a look!”
I just turned the TV on and I saw Donovan talking. I never knew he could talk without including the ‘fuck’ word.
“Are you coming?” I shout again. I wonder what she’s doing in the washroom that she’s taking long.
“Did you miss a period?” I asked and I heard her laugh from the bathroom.
“We have two children Pablo. I don’t know why you still want more.”
” I can pass for Oliver Twist then. I always want more in life in terms of success. Getting a baby now will calm me. I want to cuddle in bed with her when I’ve finally retired. She will be my sweet little thing and we’d share a bed all the time.”
“Where will you put me then?” She came out in a bathrobe and her hair held in a bun.
“You can manage the couch. That won’t be bad.”
“You’re mean.” She sat beside me and I pointed to the screen but Donovan was done talking and the next country talking is Belgium.
“I wanted you to see our daughter’s boyfriend talking.”
“What for?”
“It might change your perception about him a little because it did for me.”
“We ain’t gonna talk about this Pablo. Please.”
“Okay fine.” I hooked my arms on her neck, pulling her to my chest and her head rested there. I leaned back on the couch and closed my eyes.
“Sleeping already?” She asked after a while.
“No. I’m meditating.”
She chuckled.
“Open your eyes and look at this.”
I did and I saw my daughter and Edward. They were running from the camera and the journalist following them.
“Do they not look like the perfect couple? Edward is handsome, responsible, and focused. He’d make Mariana happy. He’s the ideal man for her and it’s my prayers that they settle down in the future. Edward loves Mariana a lot and for a long time. I can see it in his eyes and right now I’m so happy that they’re together. Just look at that? They’re laughing together and it’s so cute. Don’t you agree with me?”
This woman.
” I only see friends, not couples. The chemistry is missing though Edward seems in love.” I pointed out.
“Are you sure? Look carefully.” She said but they took the camera off them so we couldn’t see them.
“Oops. You couldn’t see it.”
When we returned, it was only five minutes left. My eyes stayed glued on Australia’s team and on Novan in particular.
When his eyes met mine he didn’t smile like I thought he would. I guess it’s still because of Edward sitting beside me… I know I shouldn’t have allowed him to sit near me but I don’t want to sit alone here either. Edward is a good company and I like him.
The timer went off signifying the end of the competition. The servings began and the work of the various teams began to go around.
“So what is going?”
” This is where the chefs plating skills come in handy to make sure they create quite a “wow factor” plating up the second theme. ”
“I said earlier that this is the most exciting part and usually the most sought-after by the audience and fellow chefs. Here, the team can express fully their creativity and their skills to make food look impressive while tasting good.
For both themes, they will be judged on plating and taste. The winner of the competition is the team with the highest score at the end of both themes.”
“I’m nervous already and my heart is beating insanely.” I let out and puffed a breath.
“So am I .”
“You want Novan to win?” Not until I asked the question did I realized how foolish it was.
“This isn’t about Donovan. It’s about my country winning. We haven’t won before and now we went for someone young and with no experience. Not only that, he just got selected recently. The selection of the chef started since the beginning of last year but Novan popped out at once and he was supposed to take a commis role, good for him, he passed and the coach decided to take him instead. Everyone has their hope buried in him. If we lose they will be shamed and regret dropping the formal chef whom they spent all year training. Even if it’s not gold, we should take silver at least…”
“What are you saying? He got selected after taking the form. Why would there be forms when a chef has already been picked?”
“It was for the commis assistant. I guess they didn’t get any permanent one then. He wowed everyone and then what got the committee to pick him was because he was recommended and I guess you did that didn’t you?”
“Well..well… I did but I don’t think it was only because of that. His hard work paid off and that’s why he’s here.” I hope I won’t be in any trouble if he doesn’t win. I remembered that terrible dream and I shivered.
“Yeah, I just hope he wow us.”
“Look at that.” I pointed to a platter that was making the rounds. Whichever country that made this is really talented. I got my phone out and took a snap. More of it came and I was left spellbound.
“You see that?” Edward brought a camera out. “Superb.”
By now everyone was upstanding, taking in the sight of the various platters.
The noise level suddenly diminished completely when a cloche lifted by the servers revealed a vegan platter and it began to make the rounds.
Like a total hush fell over the grandstands and the theatre.
“This is either really good or really bad” I muttered to Edward after seeing the country whose presentation it was.