Sneak Peek: The Pride

Copyright© 2011, Faydra D. Fields. All rights reserved.

Typos have been fixed in the final version of the book. Keep in mind that some of this information may have changed in the final version, as well. The changes were made to make the story flow better.

Installment #8

Emmanuel and Xavari

“I heard Regina leave. That must mean your hair is done.” Emmanuel was stretched out on his stomach on Xavari’s bed. Xavari couldn’t see his face from the angle of his body. He felt her sit down on the bed, but he didn’t turn to look at her.

“Yeah. My scalp is so sore. She pulls harder than she has to, I think.” Xavari used the flat of her palm to pat the top of her head vigorously. She didn’t want to scratch her scalp, so this was the only way to relieve the itching sensation. She felt gingerly around the edges of her hair and the tension bumps were evident to her touch. She was lost in thought, trying to figure out how she was going to sleep without putting the back of her head on her pillow, when Emmanuel’s voice startled her.

“You ready to talk to me?” Emmanuel asked. He felt Xavari jump when he started talking, but he didn’t turn to face her.

“Huh?” Xavari knew that he knew she’d heard him, but she was trying to get her thoughts together. She still didn’t know how much he’d overheard when she was talking to Regina. She didn’t want to give away too much, but she also didn’t want to get caught lying. Emmanuel hated to be lied to.

“Xavari. Please. You heard me.” Emmanuel rolled over onto his back to face her only to realize that Xavari wasn’t looking at him.

“I thought you were going to call before you stopped by.” Xavari kept her back to Emmanuel and rubbed her index finger between the cornrows feeling for more bumps. She was debating whether to put alcohol on her scalp, but she couldn’t stand the thought of her head being on fire. Emmanuel would usually put the alcohol on for her and blow on her scalp to cool it off as he dabbed between each braid. She wasn’t sure she could ask him to do that tonight.

“Xavari. Look at me.” Emmanuel waited for what seemed an eternity for Xavari to turn around on the bed and look at him. Finally, she reluctantly did so.

“What, Emmanuel?” Xavari kept feeling her scalp. She looked at Emmanuel briefly and then lowered her eyes.

“Look at me.” Emmanuel touched her leg. Xavari felt the tears forming in her eyes.

“What?” She couldn’t force her eyes to meet his.

“Hey,” he said as he moved slowly over to her and put his head in her lap so she had to look at his face.

“What, Emmanuel?” Xavari turned her face to the other side, so she was now looking at the top of Emmanuel’s scalp. A tear escaped her chin and dropped on the top of his head.

“Zee, what’s wrong with you?” Emmanuel didn’t have anger in his tone. His words were only laced with concern.

“Nothing. My scalp hurts.” Xavari knew it was a lame excuse, but she was straw-grasping. Why didn’t she want him to know about the pregnancy? She kept asking herself that. She knew he wouldn’t be disappointed. She knew he would be overjoyed.

That was it!

That’s why she didn’t want him to know. He wouldn’t see this as a problem for her. He’d see it as a blessing, pure and simple. She knew he wanted more children. She just didn’t want to be the one to give him another child so soon after having Xavier. The thought of labor made her stomach churn.

Xavari was embarrassed to admit that Xavier and the new baby would only be about eleven months apart in age. Regina was right. Her body hadn’t bounced back from the difficulties of birthing her first child. She’d gotten her figure back without a problem, but the delivery had left her with a hernia and several months of incontinence. The incontinence she’d overcome with regular exercises, but the hernia flared up every now and then. Her OB/GYN had given her strict instructions to allow her body time to heal before she decided to have another baby, and Xavari had sat right in the examining room and vehemently protested that she would find herself pregnant again anytime soon. Now here she was. Pregnant again. Two times during her 19th year of life. She could kick herself for being so stupid.

“You’re crying for nothing?” Emmanuel was calm. He knew she’d talk in her own time. He just rested his head in her lap and waited.

“I’m just tired and my scalp hurts and…”

“Xavari, you know I’ve been around a pregnant woman more than once, right?” Emmanuel spoke as evenly and gently as he could. Xavari still said nothing.

“Baby, you do realize I know you’ve missed two periods, right?” Emmanuel felt Xavari’s body begin to shake. He didn’t hear her crying, but he felt her tears falling onto the top of his head.

“This is not the worst thing that can happen to you, Zee. You act like it’s the end of the world. Why didn’t you want to tell me?” Emmanuel finally lifted his head out of Xavari’s lap and sat beside her. He put his arm around her and leaned her head on his shoulder. She cried silently.

“Talk to me, Zee. I know you had a hard time with Xavier, but I was there for you then, and I’ll be here for you this time. Children are a blessing from God. Don’t you know there are women who’d kill to have a baby, and here you are about to have your second?” Emmanuel felt Xavari’s body stiffen. She raised her head off his shoulder and finally looked him in the face with pink eyes.

“You think I should be happy about this? You think I should be thanking God for this?” She didn’t raise her voice, but Emmanuel could hear the anger behind her words. He removed his arm from around her shoulder.

“I can’t tell you how to feel about this. I’m just trying to put things in perspective for you.” Emmanuel looked down at his hands which were now crossed in his lap.

“I have nothing, Emmanuel. I don’t have a decent job, I don’t have a decent place to live and Regina is certain I’m going to drop out of college because I can’t handle having this baby and the one in the other room.” Xavari fought to keep the tears from flowing again.

“Regina doesn’t know what’s going to happen. Why are you letting her fill your head with negativity? I bet she tried to get you to have an abortion, didn’t she?” Emmanuel waited for Xavari to tell him he was wrong, but he’d been around Regina enough to know what she thought and how she thought. It hadn’t taken long to discern the negative spirit that surrounded her. He didn’t exactly dislike Regina, but there was something about her that always rubbed him the wrong way. She was a pessimist about everything, and she was the big sister who became a mother to Xavari when their mother died of breast cancer, so her influence over Xavari was indelible. He was pleasant to Regina for Xavari’s sake, but he didn’t like Regina hanging around too much. Xavari avoided the question all together.

“It’s probably going to happen just like Gina says. I’ll be too tired from dealing with Xavier and then I’ll just quit school, because I’ll be tired from carrying around a big belly.” She wanted Emmanuel to join her pity party.

“I can help you with Xavier. I can help you with school. If work becomes too much, you can quit.” Emmanuel really didn’t see the problem. Xavari had all the support she needed. Between him, Regina, her father and his parents, she didn’t have to make this sound so horrible.

“What makes you think I want to quit my job? I can’t be asking everybody for hand-outs. I have to work.” Xavari knew she was simply being argumentative, but she wanted to get a rise out of Emmanuel. He was always too calm and collected.

“You can work if you want to work, Zee. I’m just saying you don’t have to work. If you want to concentrate on Xavier and school, you can do that. You know I’ll help you.”

“Oh, yeah, you’re Mr. Big Bucks. You can take care of yourself, all your other kids, mine and me, too, huh?” Xavari’s tone was getting nasty.

“Uh, yeah. When you couldn’t work after you had Xavier, how did your bills get paid? Who took care of Xavier when you couldn’t pick him up? Who cleaned your apartment, washed your clothes, bought your groceries, cooked your food, bathed you when you hurt too badly to do it yours…”

“SHUT UP, EMMANUEL! Just shut up! Please!” Xavari clasped her hands over her ears. She couldn’t stand to hear anymore. He had done all those things and more, and she felt like she’d forever be in his debt. Right now, however, she didn’t want to be miserable by herself. She wanted to drag him along with her.

“I won’t be so lucky like Regina. No one’s going to want to marry me. You don’t even want to marry me. You don’t want to marry any of the women you have children with.” Xavari was trying to draw blood. She wanted to make Emmanuel feel as badly as she was feeling right now. Emmanuel wasn’t biting. He looked her square in the eyes.

“OK. Let’s get married. You want to wait until the baby’s born or you want to do it now?”

Copyright© 2011, Faydra D. Fields. All rights reserved.

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