tagRomanceBrown Eyes, Blue Smile Ch. 06

Brown Eyes, Blue Smile Ch. 06


Lincoln was just as nervous returning home with her. He'd tried talking her out of it, saying it didn't feel right, but she would ear none of it. It brought a smile to his heart—she hadn't changed after these months of being away from her. She was just as strong a woman as when they'd first met. His hands both rested on his knee, and hers draped over his while they rocked beside each other in the backseat of the taxi cab, listening to the driver mutter as curse as the cab's wheels stepped into another pothole. His thoughts went towards Monique. He wondered if she'd still remember him—of course she's a little girl, but who knows what little ones are able to remember? He still possessed a snapshot of her in his wallet taken when she was but a baby. The look of total baby-wonder on her face had kept him warm as if he were lying beside a fire these past nights that he'd been alone. Would she still remember him for what he was to her even when he was long gone? The fear ... the gnawing fear beat against his heart, mixing with his blood flow, it was something he knew he couldn't avoid¬—the inevitable. How soon? The doctor had told him anywhere between a couple of months onto a year.

Still, who knows.

Suddenly his mind came away from his reverie as Michelle tapped his hand.

"We're there," she said.

He didn't know whether to feel glad or saddened by her words as the taxi drew to the curb and eased to a halt for both of them to climb out. Settling the fare, Michelle noticed the hesitant look on his face and reached for his hand and led him into the building and from there up the stairs to her apartment floor.

"Monique's at the St. Michael Day-care centre," Michelle said to him as she turned her key in the lock and led him into her home. "A neighbour's child of mine will be bringing her home in the next couple of minutes. You need me to get you something?"

"Some tea would do, thank you," he said to her.

She took off her scarf and dropped her handbag on the centre table and together they went into the kitchen. He sat by the table while she heated some water on the stove and in no time had two tea cups ready. A few minutes later they were seated across from each other sipping their individual tea in silence. The silence was an awkward one, and Michelle sighed with relief when he broke it.

"You haven't done much redecorating," said Lincoln, casting his eyes around. "You always talked about giving the place a fresh coat of paint."

"I was thinking about doing just that. Don't know how come I never got the chance."

"You know you never quite liked this neighbourhood. I always figured you'd have moved out by now."

"Why the hell should I? The rent's cheap, even though the landlady's still a snotty old bitch."

Lincoln nearly sputtered out his tea as he tried to fight back his laughter but was unable to. Michelle laughed with him while she got up and picked up a cloth to wipe his tea off his shirt and from the table's surface. The laughter though didn't last long before they resumed their foreboding silence. She reached her hand across to touch his.

"Linc, are you scared?"

"You ought to know the answer to that, Mich. Hell yeah, I'm scared. Why else do you think I ran away from you and Monique? I was so scared, I thought I might have passed it down to her or something ... or maybe that I'd given it to you."

"I don't think you did. I had a blood test done for Monique and myself about a month ago. I'll have another done though, just to make sure."

"Yeah, you do that." He fell silent for a moment, then he brought his other hand and covered Michelle's. "I'm so sorry, babe. I'm sorry I left you and Monique. Believe me, I didn't mean—"

"You've got nothing to apologise, Linc. I didn't understand then, but I do now."

"It's not the fear of dying that scares me really. It's having that little girl think less of me after I'm gone."

"You're not going anywhere, Linc. You're back home where you once where. I'm going to take care of you¬—Monique and I, we're going to take care of you."

He looked at her, saw the seriousness in her eyes and knew it was a done deal, no use fighting back.

"You still love me, Mich?"

She drew her chair across to be beside him. "One time, all I tried to do was hate you. For being the man you are, but most especially for running away. But I guess that's water down the bridge. Yes, a part of me still loves you, Linc. You've done wrong, but you're home. For now that's all that matters to me."

She retrieved her arms and wrapped them around his neck, pulling him into an embrace. A dam had just been let loose inside her heart. She felt its waters rush on down like a turbulent wave, splashing over scorched earth and parched dry land. Once she'd thought she'd never find herself in such a predicament, yet here she was right back at it. Was she being desperate, she wondered? A part of her told her this was so, but she didn't seem to mind. She really didn't seem to care anymore.

They were still locked in an embrace when there came the sound of approaching footsteps. Lincoln let go of her, gazing past her shoulder at what had just walked in. Michelle turned in her chair and smiled with relief when she saw her neighbour's friend standing close to the kitchen's doorway holding Monique in her hand. Michelle got up and went to thank her neighbour, carrying her daughter in her arm as she saw her off her apartment before returning to Lincoln who was no standing beside the table, looking somewhat nervous and unsettled as if she were about to introduce him to his maker. Monique stared at him with interest as her mother carried her towards him.

"Monique-babe, do you know who this man is?" she whispered into her daughter's ear.

Monique shook her head; Lincoln swallowed a gob of saliva.

"Well, let me reintroduce you then. This is your Daddy. I want you to get to know him more."

She held the child before Lincoln who then carried her in his arms. Father and daughter stared at each other like half-felt strangers. Then Lincoln's eyes poured out tears.

"Hey there, pretty babe. Your Daddy's come home."

"Da," Monique muttered.

The sound was so infectious, Lincoln could stop himself from laughing. He wrapped an arm around his daughter's back and laughed, though this time tears poured from his eyes. Michelle came to his side and there the three of them stood with their arms around each other, looking like a perfect portrait of a family. The moment was soon broken by the sound of someone knocking at the door. Michelle left both of them to go see who it was.

"Shanice?" she muttered her friend's name.


Shanice spent the first twenty minutes since leaving Nigel's place lost in quagmire of roving thoughts which had begun beating against her brow with the force of a troubling headache. People went past her, some even bumped into her, and yet she was oblivious to this. Her feet simply took her towards a destination that was none of her choice. After some seemingly endless walking, she managed to get a bit of her thoughts on track. It would have been alright if she simply went back to her place, but that would seem rather easy on her part. Besides, what would she do with herself once she got there: fall on her bed and cry her eyes off till evening? Beat herself for falling in love with someone whom all this while she figured she knew but now seemed like she hardly ever knew? Reach for the phone and dial his number, curse him when he picks up for being a lying bastard and then hang up after swearing she never wants to set eyes on him again?

Too late, her feet were taking her close to her apartment building. She was less than a block from it when she stopped and took a detour instead towards the direction of Plainview Park. She found herself a lonely park bench and sat there and watched other people strolling in and out of the park. She tried to empty her mind of the episode she'd encountered back at Michael's place, but even that was a hard thing to do. It was hard for her to avoid replying the words that the woman had mentioned to her, of being his wife. Shanice was unaware of her right hand curling into a fist and smacking into the palm of her left hand till after she'd repeated the action several times and then had to draw herself to a halt before anyone noticed her and began to assume she was losing herself.

Michael ... Michael ... how the fuck could you go and do this to me! She cried inside her head.

She must have sat there for a long time before she finally got up and left. She needed some bit of solace, and the only person she figured could provide her with that right now was her best friend, Michelle.


Tara was huffing and puffing as she drove all the way across the city back to her condo located in a posh apartment building in the Upper West side. On arriving there, she threw her handbag across the room, kicked her feet out of her shoes and cursed while she did them both. She went into the kitchen and got out a cold bottle of Bacardi and poured herself a stiff one. She finished her drink in one swallow. Not satisfied, she was just about pouring herself another when she noticed a shadow standing behind her. She turned around, her face glaring with anger at whom it might be.

It was her three-year old daughter, Gloria. She stood there cradling her teddy bear to her chest, staring at her mother with expressionless eyes. Tara never could get the fact out of her mind of just how much she looked like her father. At other times she was gentle with her, but now wasn't one of such times.

"What is it, Gloria?" she snapped at her. "Don't you have homework to do?"

"I don't have any," she answered.

"Where's Oliver? I thought I left him to look after you."

Gloria didn't need to answer that as soon there was the sound of a door slamming closed, followed by approaching footsteps. Gloria turned to see who it was and at the same time moved aside for the approaching shadow that was Oliver. He was eight years younger than Tara, and still he looked like he'd turned an adult merely months ago. His cheeks still bore some chubbiness to it, even though he was attempting to grow a goatee. His hair was stylish and he had a distinctive swagger that could only be found amongst college undergrads. He was wearing a brown leather jacket and flayed jeans. He walked past Gloria as if he'd barely seen her and smiled at her mother as he approached her.

"How're you doing, gorgeous?" he came towards her and planted a kiss on her left cheek. But Tara wasn't buying any of it.

"Where has your ass being, Olie?" she preferred calling him that instead of Olivier. He didn't like it as when coming from her she made him sound more as if he were still a kid. One of these days he was going to have a talk with her about that. Although a very careful one. Wouldn't want to upset his money machine, now would he?

"I got a call from one of my boys, asking if I could meet him somewhere. I wasn't gone for long though."

"You expect me to believe that crap coming from you?"

"It's the God-honest truth, babe. Why would I want to lie to you about such?"

"I asked you to look after Gloria, didn't I? When I say 'look after', I mean don't let her out of your fucking sight. Didn't I mention that to you, or was I talking to someone else when I left here a while ago?"

He was getting irritated by her way of talking. "I know you told me to watch your girl, and that's what I've been doing since. But I just had to meet with this pal of mine, I couldn't skip that. And besides, she's been doing alright way before I left. It's not like she took a stroll or anything."

Tara shook her head with exasperation and pushed past him, walking out of the kitchen. "Ask someone to do a little something for me, and he gets to give me some jibby-jabber type of excuse. Sometimes Olie, I just don't know what I'm doing with you."

Oliver walked behind her. Gloria stood by the doorway watching both adults argue.

"Now why do you have to be all up on me like that, eh? I told you I had to go meet up with some friends of mine. You sound like I took a trip down to Mexico."

Tara turned around to face him, jabbing a finger at his chest. "Personally, I wouldn't really give a damn if you said you'd been to the moon and back. But the least you could do is watch over my daughter before you ever decide to take off. I mean, can't you try helping me out sometimes."

"I am helping out, Tara, babe. But what else do you want from me? My blood?"

"You're so impossible," she retorted with anger.

"Who was it anyway that you went to go see? Her old man?"

Tara picked up her handbag from where she'd thrown it and started fishing inside till she found what she was looking for – a cigarette case. She opened it and took one into her mouth. Oliver was quick to produce a lighter from his jacket and lit her cigarette for her. She took in a deep drag and then blew a cloud of smoke on his face. Oliver coughed at the same time swept his hand across his face to break the smoke cloud.

"It's none of your business whom I went to see ... but if you must know, the answer is yes."

"I don't know, what do you still see in that loser, anyway? I thought you said you're done with him and all of that."

"I was done with him. But with you still acting up to your silly shenanigans, I'm just about thinking of getting back with him."

Oliver grunted laughter. "Yeah, right. Ain't you the one who always said that would be the last thing your ass ever thought of doing—getting back with that loser ex-hubby of yours? You ain't going to do such thing, so quit breaking my heart."

"I can do more than just break your heart, Ollie," she said to him. "I could smash it into tiny crystalline pieces that your other girlfriends are going to have a field day putting it back even if they've got tons of glue with them."

"Oh, I love it when you talk dirty to me."

She turned around and headed towards the direction of their bedroom. Oliver followed behind her like a dog after its owner; within seconds of them entering the short corridor away from Gloria's sight, they were giggling and laughing together. Gloria remained where she was in the living room, watching them as they headed in the direction of her mother's bedroom. She knew what was soon to happen, though she yet couldn't find the words to it. Almost every night it was the same set of noise she heard coming from behind their door—their head hitting against the wall, startling her from sleep; the sound of her mom crying out ... no matter how much she shielded her ears from the noise, it wouldn't go away till about an hour or less than that.

She wished her mother had taken her along to see her daddy.

She went to turn on the TV set and sat down on a couch to watch a tele-tubbies program.


"Shanice? What's wrong, girlfriend?"

Michelle pushed her door wide for her friend to step into her abode. The dour look on her friend's face told her she'd begun her day on a sad note. Shanice stepped into her Michelle's living room. She figured they were alone; she wasn't expecting to find a male stranger carrying her daughter inside her home. Though it took little time for her to recognise who the stranger was, even though he looked far different from the last time she'd seen him.

"Hi there, Lincoln," she waved a desultory hand at him. "Long time no see."

"Hi there, Shanice," replied Lincoln who came out of the kitchen when Monique in his arms. "You're still a fine-looking lady all this time."

Shanice managed a weak type of laughter. "I wish." She plopped herself on a couch and lowered her face into her hands, sniffling.

"Shanice, what's wrong?" Michelle came to seat beside her. She waved a hand at Lincoln, indicating for him to take Monique away from the living room. Lincoln turned and carried her towards the direction of her bedroom, leaving both friends alone. "Come on, girlfriend, tell who's messed up your day."

"I've fucked up, Mich," she murmured with her face still covered by her hands, sniffling some more. "I've really done fucked up big time."

"What the hell are you talking about, Shanice? Was it Chris? Did he get at you somehow?"

"It wasn't Chris," she said, finally withdrawing her teary face from her hands. "It's Eric. I found out today he's been living a lie the whole time."

"How come, girl?"

And like that, Shanice revealed to her best friend all what the mysterious woman she'd met at her lover's place had revealed to her. By the time she was through, Michelle too was speechless she couldn't think of what to say. In a way, it would have been wrong to think of anything worth saying. Instead she pulled her friend closer towards her and gave her a hug while she cried over her shoulder, mourning a love she thought was hers.

Lincoln was with Monique in her bedroom, and at the moment she was presenting him with her school books. She showed him a picture of a bird she had painted. Lincoln let her talk while he listened to her talk about her class friends and her favourite teachers. He ran his hands through the back of her hair, soaking in her beauty. How could he ever have abandoned such a beautiful child as she the way he had done? Even now as he sat here listening to her prattle about her school and about her mom, and her mom's neighbours, he couldn't help being afraid that all this was simply for the moment. That such niceness as that which he was experiencing right now wouldn't last long. He felt both saddened and depressed by thinking such. It wasn't until he turned his attention towards the Monique that he realised that she'd long stopped talking and was now paying close attention to him.

"What's wrong?" she asked him.

"Nothing ... nothing's wrong. I'm fine."

She shook her head. "No, you're not. I know when mommy's happy or sad. You're not happy."

Clever girl, he thought to himself. "Well, actually, I was ... I was just thinking about something."

"About what?"

He decided to take a risk. "I was thinking ... I don't know ... if maybe your mommy would like for me to stay here or not."

"Why not?" she sat up on the bed and looked at him with wide, non-inquisitive eyes. "Why do you think she won't let you stay?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "I used to stay here with her, but that was some time ago ... when you were very little." Now came the hard part, and his voice started to seem heavy for him. "I had to ... I had to go away."

"Why did you? Didn't you want to stay with mommy and me anymore?"

"No, no, honey ... it wasn't like that ... wasn't like that at all." he thought he could feel his heart aching to break, feel it beating heavy against his chest. He really felt like breaking down right now into tears, except he knew the tears wouldn't come. Though the breaking down would come pretty soon. "It wasn't like that, Monique. You see ... your daddy was sick ... has been very sick, and needed a lot of help. The type of help your mommy couldn't fix. I had to go someplace where people could help me ... that's why I had to leave."

Monique seemed to analyse this for a moment before asking, "The people, did they help you?"

"In a way, yes, they kind of did. Matter of fact, I'm happy they did."

"Your sickness now, is it gone?"

A tough question to answer, but he thought he'd give it his best shot. "No, it hasn't really gone ... being here and but seeing you once again has sort of made it worthwhile."

That brought a smile to her face. It was a smile unlike any he'd behold in a long time.

"I'm going to talk with mommy, and I'll tell her I want you to stay with us. She'll listen to me."

"Something tells me she'll listen to you more than she would to—"

Suddenly he bowled over and grunted at what felt like a sharp pang bite through his stomach and then spread to further reaches of his innards. He heard Monique tap his arm, calling at him at the same time. Her voice asked what was wrong, but Lincoln was caught in the throes of his pain her voice seemed to be coming from a faraway place. Right at that moment he felt so much like wanting to throw up. There came another lightening strike of pain shoot across his stomach region, making him groan louder.

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