Well, peoples, I'll be out again for short period and you know I like to leave you with a little reading material. It's a romantic short story called Trading Hearts. It's a little on the long side so I'll be posting bits of it over the next week or so. Hope you like.
Trading Hearts is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons in coincidental. Photo courtesy of www.islandhideaways.com.
“I can’t believe my favourite sister’s getting engaged!”
Natasha paused from fixing her hair to toss a makeup sponge at her younger sister Kim, who was lounging on her bed.
“Will you please shut up!” she begged. “Even if it were true you’re bound to jinx me. And I’m your only sister, fool!”
Kim caught the sponge deftly with a laugh. “Jinx, what? Your boyfriend of eight years is taking you to dinner at one of the most expensive restaurants on the island. Your birthday is two months from now and your anniversary was months ago. Connect the dots, Tasha!”
Natasha checked her hair and makeup for a final time and sighed. “Well, I’m just glad Matthew and I are getting a chance to relax and talk. He’s been so stressed out lately with the case he’s working on that we’ve barely seen each other.”
Securing the final hairpin in place, she stepped back to take in her attire. She didn’t clean up too badly, if she said so herself. Her burgundy-coloured natural twists were styled in a chignon, with tendrils framing her face. She smoothed the skirt of her black, low cut cocktail dress and twirled a few times for her sister’s benefit.
“I told you the little black dress works every time. You look hot, sis, or should I say the future Mrs. Natasha Taylor-Sealy?” Kim teased.
Kim slid off the bed and kissed Natasha goodbye, and the elder sister gazed happily at their reflections in the mirror. Despite the seven years’ difference in their ages, the Taylor sisters could pass for twins. They shared the same caramel skin, oval face, pert nose and lush lips. Although she was only 18, Kim was almost the same height as Natasha and both sisters could fit into the same size eight clothes.
Fifteen minutes later, Natasha navigated her Suzuki Alto through St. Lawrence Gap. At 8:00 p.m. on a Friday, the popular entertainment strip on the south coast of the island was packed with locals and tourists venturing to their favourite watering holes.
She blew her horn to alert a group which insisted on walking in the middle of the street and pulled into the driveway of La Bonne Terre restaurant. No sooner had she halted the car under the awning of the converted plantation house than a valet rushed over to escort her from the vehicle.
I could get used to this, she thought happily as a statuesque hostess came down the winding front steps to greet her. As the woman led her through the dimly lit restaurant, Natasha admired the exquisitely decorated interior of the dining hall. It was obvious that no expense had been spared to transform the former residential property into a fine dining establishment.
I hope Matt brought his chequebook, she mused, as the hostess halted at a table overlooking the ocean.
Matthew stood and pulled out her chair, and she noticed gleefully that he appeared nervous. “You look beautiful, Tasha,” he said.
“You don’t look too bad yourself, babe,” she flirted, eyeing his athletic frame attired in dark slacks and a green silk shirt. Natasha put aside the menu offered by the hostess and intertwined her fingers with his. He smiled weakly and sipped from his water glass.
After a few minutes of small talk, she decided to cut to the chase. “So, what’s the occasion, love? Are we celebrating my birthday early or something?”
Matthew released her hand and sat up, a serious expression dawning on his face. “Natasha, I…we needed to talk, and I wanted to do it somewhere nice.”
She signalled to him to go on.
“I’ve been offered a position as a junior partner with the firm.”
“That’s fantastic, boo!" she squealed with joy. "Congratulations! You must really have impressed the hell outa them, ‘cause you only joined the firm a year ago. Wait till I tell my parents and Kim!”
He nodded impatiently. “Look, Tasha, there’s no easy way to say this. We…I can’t see you anymore.”
It took a few seconds for his words to register in her brain. “Excuse me? Wha…what you mean?”
He took a deep breath and continued. “I’m getting married, Tasha. I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else. You know how fast news travels on a small island.”
Stunned, Natasha could only stare at the handsome face of the man with whom she thought she would spend the rest of her life. After a few seconds, she released her grip on the white linen table cloth and sat back. She could feel hot tears stinging the back of her eyes and blinked rapidly, clearing her throat.
“And you thought it would be a good idea to break the news in a fancy restaurant where you thought I wouldn’t make a scene, right?” she hissed angrily. “What the hell is this supposed to be, a f**gging last supper?”
Matthew was taken aback. “I don’t mean to hurt you, Tasha, but face it. We haven’t been on the same page for a long time.”
“Stupid me, I thought we were on the same page for the last eight years,” she retorted hotly. “Do you know I actually thought you were going to propose to me tonight?”
By this time, couples at nearby tables were staring in their direction. Out of the corner of her eye, Natasha saw the hostess approach and she waved her away. The woman gave Natasha a worried look and retreated.
Matthew had the decency to look ashamed. “I’m sorry, Tasha. I didn’t mean to mislead you. Things just…happened.”
She cut her eyes at him, furious. “Apparently. Who the hell is she?” she demanded. He lowered his gaze. “Eve Whittaker,” he mumbled.
Natasha frowned, trying to remember where she had heard the name. When realisation dawned, she laughed bitterly. “Eve Whittaker? As in the daughter of the head of your law firm? You’re kidding, right?”
She cut in before he could respond. “I get it now. This is about your damn job. You’re trading me in for that mousy little girl so you can get ahead in Daddy’s law firm. Does your fiancée know you’re using her, you social climbing bast**d?”
He glanced hurriedly at the neighbouring table, and the couple averted their eyes. “Will you lower your voice? There’s no need for insults, Natasha.”
“No need for insults? I gave you eight years of my life, supported you through
five years of law school, helped your mother take care of your little sister and brother when you went off to St. Augustine for two years, and this is how it ends?”
“Look, I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me, but we’re just moving in different directions.”
She gave him a disgusted look. “You mean I’m not bourgeois enough for you, right? My father cleans pools for a living and your mother works at a bakery in ‘town. Are you gonna ditch them too because they don’t fit in with your new lifestyle?”
Tears welled in her eyes and Matthew moved to take her hand. She pulled away angrily and got up from the table. “Go on and enjoy the high life. I hope it’s worth throwing us away.”
Natasha left quickly before he could see the tears streaming down her face. On the way to the door she passed the hostess, who came forward with a wallet in hand. Natasha wiped her face with the back of her hand and eyed her curiously.
“Your dinner companion dropped this in the parking lot on his way in. I didn’t want to interrupt earlier.” She handed over the black leather case with a sympathetic look on her face.
Natasha hesitated before taking the wallet. Then, gathering her resolve, she opened it and removed Matthew’s debit card.
“Do me a favour, please.” She handed the bank card to the hostess. “Break open a bottle of your most expensive bottle of champagne and send glasses around to every table, courtesy of Matthew Sealy at Table 6. He has a lot to celebrate.”
The hostess regarded her quizzically. “You do know our most expensive champagne is $5, 000 a bottle?”
Natasha shrugged. “He can afford it. He’s marrying into money.”
Recognising a woman scorned when she saw one, the hostess gave her a slight, knowing smile and headed to the cash point. Natasha calmly keyed in Matthew’s pin number, which had been entrusted to her in happier times. After signing her name on the receipt with a flourish, she sashayed out into the night to retrieve her car from the valet.
More to come. Have a good weekend!