SEMI- FINAL 💫
I enter the café again the next morning and Mitch takes his usual seat at the corner while I head for the changing room.
I find Julie there, grasping what looks like a newspaper. The fact that she doesn’t see me shows how heavily engrossed she is in the paper.
“Morning, Julie.” I greet her and she barely lifts her head to acknowledge me.
“What’s that?” I ask as I change from my casual clothes to cafe uniform.
I frown and once I finish dressing, I move over to her to see what it is that has her so intrigued.
I see an image of Devon on the front page, with a caption saying, “Drug smuggler/dealer/Prostitution associate gets jailed”. What’s more shocking is how there’s a lot of pictures on the front page of him doing all of the accused illegal activities in the caption. It’s those pictures alone that lead me to think that somehow he has been known by the police for a while.
Julie finishes reading the last chapter and then with a grave face, hands me the paper.
I begin reading.
Apparently, the cops have had tabs on him for a while, with an undercover questioning anyone who knew him. They all said the same thing. “Getting involved with Devon, is like offering your life on a plate to him”.
The undercover was able to take photos of him doing all those illegal dealings and it was with those evidence that he was brought to justice.
There’s a lot of unidentified people having word against him but most improtantly, “Savannah Samuels, 27, who recently been hospitalised due to “anxiety attack”, has managed to spill every tad bit of evidence against him.” Once I finish reading, I try to swallow the bile in my throat.
So that’s it then. I won’t be seeing either of them from now on. I think, with relief flooding my system.
I look over at Julie who’s pressing eyes haven’t left me since I began reading.
“Leyla please, please, tell me you weren’t involved with him?”
“What, no. No.” I tell her horrified at the thought.
“Then how exactly did you know them?” She asks.
I sigh as I sit myself next to her on the bench.
It’s about time I tell her. I mean it’s not like it’s gonna kill anyone. I considered Julie as one of my great friends. She deserved to know the truth.
It’s with that final thought that I begin to tell her everything. Starting with being at the lowest point of my life, to meeting Greta and having to deal with her demands. I also tell her how I met Sav along with Monica and Devon the same night I met Jeremy. I tell her why Sav was here yesterday trying to blackmail me, and then my suspicious of Devon being the one that coerced her into it.
I also tell her how despite all the bad things that have happened in my life Jeremy is the only one that has made me see that there is truly a silver lining behind every dark cloud.
When I finish, Julie looks at me with a new emotion. I see tears brimming in her eyes and she takes my hands and squeezes them.
“Gosh and you say Hilly is strong.” She comments.
I snort but smile anyhow. “I’m not strong.” I protest.
“Oh Ley, you are. After all you’ve been through.” A lone tear escapes from her eye.
“Julie,” I wipe the tear which is now making my own tears come. “Don’t cry for me. It’s all in the past.”
“I can’t help it. I wish I’d met you sooner, maybe I could have prevented some things.”
I shake my head and hug her.
“Thank you. But I believe all that’s happened has been for a reason. I thank God everyday, for letting me meet Jeremy.”
She laughs and release me from the hug. “I thank him too. Jeremy better love you as much as you do.”
Worry pools my face.
“You have to tell him, Ley.” She squeezes my hand. “You never know he might just say it first.”
I shake my head.
“Don’t be stubborn about it, in fact I have feeling he’s just as stubborn. If you both don’t get to it, you’ll leave me no choice but to intervene.”
I giggle, however doubt soon wipes my smile away. “Do you really think he might love me?”
She stares at me as if I’m out of my mind. “Leyla, what I saw two weeks ago, when he looked at you was pure adoration. He must love you to look at you like that.”
I shake my head, however, a small smile forms in my features at the possibility. I truly missed him, so much so that I feel like a part of my limb is missing without him.
“I miss him.”
“I know.” She smiles knowingly.
“When will he be back?” She asks as she gets up the bench.
“I think today evening, I’m not sure but I can’t wait.”
“And you’ll tell him then?”
I take a deep breath. Yes when I see him tonight, I will tell him. I didn’t care anymore; I loved him so much to not wait telling him.
And so with that I nod in response at Julie.
Her face cracks into a heart splinting smile. Then she makes a squealing noise.
“When you’ve told him, call me, you have to tell me the details.” She grins.
I giggle again as I get up from the bench too.
While we make our way to the cafe, for that splitting moment, I have a glimpse of what I missed out, having a girlfriend to swoon over guys with.
It’s refreshing and I am glad for Julie’s enthusiasm.
As usual the café isn’t as busy and without customers as a distraction, I spend most of the hours, worrying, and contemplating my impending declaration of love to Jeremy.
It’s nerve-wracking and at the same time thrilling to think that in probably a few hours he will be back and hopeful safe and sound.
I can’t wait to see him.
Even though I am excited I can’t help but feel agitated because since last night, Jeremy hasn’t contacted me.
All various scenarios are playing in my head at why he has failed to contact me. And all of them are worse kind of thoughts.
“Stop staring at your phone every five second Leyla, seriously. He’s probably still in his plane. He will call. Stop worrying.” Julie tells me after my constant ramble of outspoken concerns why I haven’t heard from him.
“You’re right, you’re right. He’s probably still in the plane.” I say out loud, more to reassure myself.
I shove my phone down in my pocket, away from my constant reach and then allow myself to become attentive at the going in and out of the café life.
Lunch time flees and the café becomes a dead zone as the hours goes. There are virtually no customers except for Mitch who’s sitting patiently by the corner, the local newspaper in his hands.
Hilly and Effie are being entertained by Effie’s son the other side. And Julie is busy wiping the islands while I sit in one of the stools, repeating to myself not to look at my phone.
However by late noon, we are greeted by an unexpected and yet very much welcomed surprise.
“Damn, who died?” Matthew walks into the café frowning at the emptiness of it.
Instantly I hear Julie’s sharp intake of breath, telling me just how affected she is by his presence.
But he doesn’t come alone.
Behind him, there’s a small fragile looking woman, probably in her late forties however looking at her, she may be thirty five or less.
The chestnut brown curls of hair trail down to her shoulders and there are no traces of silver or gray hair whatsoever.
But what catches my attention the most are her eyes. Strong, vibrant blue surrounded by streaks of gray. Her eyes bring out the whole of her features and as I look at her, I can’t quite help but see a face that has been nagging at the back of my head since morning.
With that I internally guess that the woman I’m staring at must be Jeremy and Matthew’s mother.
Pulling myself out of my thoughts, I allow myself to get off the stool to greet them with one of my tentative smiles.
“Matthew, what a surprise, what brings you here?”
“Oh you know, was just around, thought I’d greet your with my presence.” He smirks and winks, however I am glad that his mood is playful and not as predatory as he’s been before.
I think we’ve past that when we last spoke. I’m still glad for his informality though.
“This is her?” The woman behind him speaks with a soft thrill voice.
I shift my gaze from him to her.
The moment she speaks is the moment when Matthew realises that he didn’t come alone.
He smiles knowingly at the woman whom is appraising me with an appreciative stare.
“Ah, mom. Yes, that’s Leyla. The one you’ve been asking about.” He chuckles to himself.
“Leyla I’d like you to meet my mom, Doreen Lawson.”
All the hairs on my skin stand with attention as the nerves finally kick in my system.
Holy crap, this is actually their mother.
I am finally meeting Jeremy’s mother but through his brother.
I clear my throat quickly remembering myself and then thrust my hand forward for her to shake it.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs Lawson.”
As soon as my words come out, I realise how shaky my voice sounds.
All I am thinking of is what exactly is she seeing in me because she hasn’t stopped staring at me, even through Matthew’s greeting.
However after my pleasantry the woman’s face breaks into a full blown smile.
She takes my hand and firmly shakes it. So firmly that it’s surprising how such strength can come out from such a small woman.
Her height is alarming. It makes me wonder, how such a petite woman had been able to breed such gigantic brothers, well in this case, just Jeremy since she wasn’t Matthew’s birth mother. Nonetheless, they both were hovering on six foot and four inches tall and the poor woman looked to be only five foot five.
I am startled out of my reverie when a soft laughter erupts from her mouth.
“Please you don’t have to be so formal with me, Leyla, just call me Dory. It’s nice to finally meet the girl who’s caught my son’s attention so much that he has thrice failed to acknowledge that he has a mother.”
I open my mouth and then close it as I am rendered speechless.
The knowing smile forms in her lips.
“He was going to bring me to meet you this Saturday.” I mumbled, intimidated by her smile as I try to defend Jeremy.
“Oh I know that, dear.” Her eyes crinkle. “I just couldn’t wait to finally meet you, so I had to coerce my other son here, and see if he knew of this mysterious lady that has infatuated Jeremy.”
I look at Matthew as she mentions him, and his lips are twisted in amusement, he winks at me and then soon leaves us, his attention now at the island where Julie is currently trying her best to ignore us.
I turn back to the woman who’s now staring expectantly at me. Her constant warm smile is so disarming that I find myself relaxing in her presence.
“So tell me–now I don’t mean to be so forward–what exactly are you doing here?” She asks, frowning slightly at the café.
I frown too at her question. What did she mean?
“I’m sorry.” I excuse myself. “I don’t quite understand.”
“I mean why are you here working, Leyla? You’re quite young you should be in college.”
Her expectant gaze is regarding me again.
“Well, I should be in school I know. But due to… well certain predicaments, I haven’t had the opportunity to go to college.”
She smiles shrewdly. “Don’t worry Leyla you don’t have to tell me everything. I already know. Jeremy has informed me of your situation in life, which brings me to this…”
“Now, I know my son is well too-rich-for-his-own-good if I must say. And since he’s so infatuated you, it gives you a chance to use his money to advantage.” She states.
My breath hitches, my cheeks burn angrily.
Calm yourself Leyla.
But this has to be the third person who’s assumed I am with Jeremy for his money. Well get over it. It’s not only three people who will think that in future.
“Dory.” She interjects.
I breath in. “Dory… I am not with your son because of his money!”
“I work in this café because I believe in self independence. I have been hard wired, since childhood, to not rely on anyone otherwise you’re likely to become a burden. So if you think I am with Jeremy because of his money then please, let me assure that that’s not the case. At all. I want to earn my own living no matter how small; no matter how many times your son has tried to coerce me into living off his money.”
I breathe out, expecting my outburst to have made her angry.
However I’m met with yet one of her unfailing grins.
“I knew it. Its typically of him really.” She says.
Then I frown, not understanding her change of track.
“My son, philanthropic that one.” She laughs shaking her head.
“Jeremy, although a hard shell on the outside, he’s so soft and sensitive. He tries to help as best as he can, even in the most unnecessary circumstances. You see he believes with just a few nudges here and there, he can fix everything. Do you know how many charities he has created?”
I shake my head, my breath hitching at this newfound information.
“Ten. You can imagine right. Ten and within those ten, he has spent all most of his time doing the nitty gritty, making sure that all of the money he raises and even donates himself, goes straight to the cause.”
I swallow the lump in my throat that has formed because of my ever pounding heart that seems to have lodged somewhere in my bronchus.
I don’t know if its possible to fall even more in love with a person but at this moment, I did. I really did.
Oh Jeremy. Baby, where are you? Why haven’t you called me?
“So I am not surprised that he has tried to convince you to live off his money. But then again, I am quite surprised since well you’re the first girl he seems to be serious about.” She continues.
I gasp. “You know about the escorts?” I blurt out.
She grins. “Darling, nothing goes amiss through this Momma.” She smirks.
I giggle suddenly, her grin is totally infectious.
“So this leaves me to my last and final inquiry. I know I’ve made you uncomfortable with these inquiries but then again I’ve made a lot of people uncomfortable.” She muses.
I can’t help my chuckle. This woman is full of surprises. I see why both brothers seem to adore her.
“Do you love my son?” It came so sudden, so unexpected that I’m left rendered not just speechless but motionless too.
“I…I…,” I try to coax words out but nothing seems to come out.
I bite my lips and avoid her gaze, but she is giggling again.
I stare at her, she’s shaking her head as if unbelieving.
“I knew it! Goodness me, could this day get any better? We have to go now.” She grins at me.
Way change of track. This woman was brimming with surprises.
Very full of confusing surprises, I think, yet again struck into confusing silence as I let her grab my hand and drag me out.
“Matt darling, you’ll be alright by yourself right? I’m taking Leyla to dinner.” She says catching his eyes.
I don’t fail to note the hidden knowing glance they shared just then.
Then my eyes dart to Mitch whom I’ve completely forgotten about until now. But instead of prying my arm away from Doreen Lawson who’s dragging me to what I assume is her car, he instead courtesly opens the back door for us, smiles at me and grins at Doreen as she gives him her car keys.
Something is off about this scene. How do they know each other and not just know each other but seem to be familiar with one another.
I try not to assume too much as curiosity gets the better of me.
“Where are we going?” I have to ask.
“To dinner. You’ll see.” She grins. I’m beginning to feel quite wary of her smiles at this moment.
“But I was still working. And I’m in my work clothes. I don’t think–”
“You look fine and dandy dear, don’t fuss.” She tells me as she takes one of my hand and squeezes as if she can’t quite contain the emotion or is it excitement inside of her.
Yup. Just flowing with surprises. I think as I watch Mitch drive off from the café to the interstate.
✍️To be continued ✍️