BY BLESSING SILVER
Empty room. Empty heart.
Maurice woke up and rubbed his eyes, stretching, he got off his bed and slipped his flops in. He checked the time and got out of his room.
The dullness greeted him first.
Empty house. No scent of breakfast. No Bella’s presence. No morning smiles of anyone.
That had been the life he was always used to in the past and it was beginning to be his once more and sincerely, he didn’t like it.
He wasn’t even sure if Bella was okay. Her number hadn’t been going through. Maurice sighed and walked to the kitchen, he once again felt the feeling; emptiness. The wh0le house spelt it.
Diane had left him and now Bella and he hadn’t even realized it.
Maurice walked to the kitchen and poured himself some hot coffee, he gulped it black and took out a bread slices. Even though he doesn’t have any appetite for it, he knew he had to eat it. Skipping breakfast wasn’t completely good and he wasn’t going to be sick cos of Diane. Maurice took another cup of coffee after he had eaten the bread which felt like rocks, he took the coffee and dumped the cup in the sink. His life s-cks right now.
Maurice walked out of the kitchen and almost immediately his gaze caught the phone resting sideways on one of the chairs, he walked to it and picked it up. It was Bella’s phone. He pressed the power button but it wouldn’t t-rn on; it was switched off. Probably the battery power was down, Maurice thought. He could get to Bella through it, who knows she might be staying at a friend’s.
Maurice got ready for work, he slipped the phone to his pocket and dashed out to his car, he sighed, walked back to his porch and punched In the lock pin before rushing to his car.
“Patty I’m fine, Really” Bella said for the fifth time, or was it six.
“And I say you’re not Bel. Really Maurice is such an assh-le, a big jerk!” Patty said with disgust. Well Bella had told her everything that happened that night and she couldn’t stop singing insults at him. And now she had insisted Bella stayed home again because she still thinks Bella doesn’t need to work, she might’ve thought the heart break was rubbing off on her pretty well and sincerely she’s right.
“I agree,” Bella walked from her to one of the couch and sat on it. “But I still feel concerned about him Pat, I mean I know he’s probably doing fine without me but I miss him so much and it’s worrying me” Bella said softly and Patty sighed.
“You’re too strong to have such a shabby heart Bella. If I were in your shoes I’d have stopped loving him the moment I find out he had hidden something so big as that from me. For Pete’s sake Bel your heart and emotions were on the line, didn’t he care about that?” She asked and Bella sniffed.
“Not everyone’s you Pat. I’ve loved him for too long to start hating him now and believe me I really wish I could hate him but it’s just not working and besides it wasn’t entirely Maurice’s fault. He might’ve planned to tell me in the future or–
“Wait what, you’re taking sides with him now?”
“No” Bella answered and sighed “I’m sorry Patty, I know you mean well for me but just understand that I really love Maurice and I can’t help it Pat. And I’m sorry if you hate it–
“It’s okay Bella,” she walked to her “you’re you and I can’t force you to be someone else” she sat beside her and took her in her arms “I’m sorry if I was too pushy with my words but I’m just really concerned about you” Patty said and Bella felt a tear slide.
“I know and I appreciate that a lot” Bella said and they stayed that way for a while before pulling off.
“So we’ve agreed you’re staying back”
“But Patricia I–
“We’re not going back to that argument Bella” she said and Bella gestured surrender.
“That hottie dude would he keeping you company today and with the sparks shining in his eyes when he said that I’m sure today would be a great day for you both–
“Oh stop whining Patricia, Ray’s just a friend”
“He doesn’t seem that way to me. I think that dude loves you” she said. “And if he does ask you out eventually don’t hesitate to say yes” she said and Bella laughed.
“I’ll be off now. Take care” Patty said, pecked Bella on both cheeks, grabbed her car keys and bag and walked out.
Maurice finished finalizing the work he could pull himself to do and he dug deeper into the cushioned chair, his gaze slipped to Bella’s phone and he watched it charge. He took out his phone when it started ringing and checked, it was seat partner at school and Also his project partner. Maurice picked it up.
Hey Mark he said into the phone.
Hi. I called to know if you’re done with your part of the project
Oh I am. I’ll just email it to you
That’ll be nice. Thanks. Bye he hung up and Maurice dropped his phone. He turned on his system that was filled with mainly school stuffs and he logged into his email, he scrolled with his mouse to his doc-ments and emailed the work to Mark, he sent him a text after that and shut the laptop, he got a text from Mark.. Got it. Thanks man it was that simple. Maurice sighed and turned back to Bella’s phone, he unconnected the USB and turned the phone on, the picture of nature set as the wallpaper greeted his sight first. He clicked on the menu and a list of applications appeared, he swiped and got to her contact. He didn’t have to scroll because the list of contact were only four; his, Patricia, his Dad and prince charming Raymond.
Raymond? Prince charming? That one doesn’t look familiar and he didn’t know Bella had male friends apart from himself. Maurice shrugged and clicked on Patricia’s number, he heard it ring and after a moment got picked up.
Hello. Who’s this the voice sounded impatient.
Hi goodday miss this is Maurice. I was– *click* the call ended. She had hung up on him. He called again and got no response. The next three trials failed and he stopped calling.. He looked at Raymond’s number and contemplated on clicking on the call side. Is he Bella’s boyfriend?
But Bella had said she loved him. Does she have someone else too. Maurice suddenly felt jealous at it. It wasn’t like Bella was his child or something, she’s an adult and it’s her choice if she wants a boyfriend. Maurice placed his free palm on his chest. Okay he didn’t like this feeling.
He scrolled back to the menu and the picture section, he was surprised to see that she had pictures on it already. He clicked on the first one, it was her on bench in an open space. A smile tugged on his l-ips and he swiped to the next, it was still Bella on same bench in a funny position, Maurice couldn’t help the chuckle. It was funny but Bella was cute in it too.
He swiped to the next and slowly his smile faded into a confused look then a frown, in this pics she was with a guy on the same bench and they were smiling widely. Maurice brows narrowed and he swiped again only to see the same guy and Bella; this time his arm was around her and Maurice felt anger burning to his flesh. Huh?
He swiped to the next and the guy’s face still appeared.. He couldn’t deny that the guy’s pretty cute and with the way they smiled he was certain they had a thing going on. Had Bella told him she loved him while she was with another? Is this dude really her boyfriend?. Hold on, is she staying with him right now? Are they living together and doing things that… Oh geez!, well since they’re dating they also could’ve possibly shared the same bed together and had–
Shit! This was really affecting him and he couldn’t understand it. Bella’s an adult for Pete’s sake and since he just liked her as a friend, no strings attached he shouldn’t be getting jealous over her love life. Okay he wasn’t jealous, Maurice told himself, he’s just being concerned about a friend. What if this Raymond guy was some sort of player. He could actually get Bella since she was so simple and easy. Ugh! He just hope Bella’s fine. Maurice dropped the phone ferociously on the table and the door opened with Pablo walking in. “You should stop doing that Dad. Why can’t you just knock?” Maurice said and sighed when Pablo only shrugged and walked in.
“You look disturbed”
“I’m fine. What do you want?”
“Maurice are you s–
“I said I’m fine. What else do you want to hear?” He asked and Pablo sighed.
“Okay. I came to tell you I’m off to the airport to pick Jolie”
“You mentioned that yesterday, I don’t think it’s necessary to repeat it”
“I know. I just wanted to ask if we all can have dinner tomorrow’s night, as a family”
“I’m not chanced tomorrow night dad, I’ll be busy”
“Okay” Pablo said and turned to leave.
“Dad,” Maurice called and he turned “I need Bella’s workplace address. I need to go there” he said.
“Oh sure. But promise me we’ll all have dinner after that, including Bella of course”
“What?,” Maurice frowned “Are you using that to hit on me?”
“No Maurice I–
“Just so you know dad, we’d never be family. Not you and I. And because I was nice to you yesterday doesn’t mean we’re cool. You and I can never have the sorta relationsh¡p you want dad! It’s time you start realizing that!” Maurice yelled and Pablo suddenly got bitter. “Maurice” he called softly. Maurice grabbed his suit jacket and started walking out. “And about that address. Never mind, it was a mistake asking in the first place. I’d get it on my own” Maurice said and walked out, leaving Pablo to take in his hurtful words.
Bella smiled when she saw Ray standing by the door, he held a small bouquet in his hands and she ushered him in. She had been expecting him since five hours ago.
“I’m sorry I’m late princess, I had to pick up my boss from the airport and then I helped a stranded lady. I had to hurry down here. Pat said you’ve been expecting me and I’m truly sorry–
“It’s fine Ray, I’m just glad you’re here now even though it’s getting late already”
“I’m sorry princess” he smiled and they hugged. “I presume that’s mine?” Bella asked, pointing to the bouquet of lilies in his hand.
“Of course,” he handed it to her and Bella collected it with a smile. “I assumed you love flowers” he said.
“Oh I’m getting to,” Bella said and inhaled the fine scent of the flower “Thanks Ray”. She dropped it into the vase. “Here, sit” she offered and he sat while she sat beside him, a little farther.
“I was worried about you Bella. I couldn’t stop regretting not insisting on taking you to my house that night, I felt that something was gonna happen but I just didn’t know how to say it. Really, are you okay?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“Well I’ve seen people who hide pains under wide grins”
“I’m fine Ray really. I just feel bored staying here and getting my eyes heavy with movies. I feel like getting out” she said and then smiled sadly when she remembered what day it was today, if only they hadn’t separated she’d have been getting his gifts ready by now.
Well she still hopes he has a very happy birthday.
“Alright. Let’s get out then” he said and they both got up and walked out.
Maurice banged the door behind him and slide through it, he sighed and ruffled his hair.
This wasn’t the first time he was standing up to his Dad but today he felt like he had gone too far, now he didn’t know if his mother will be angry or happy about what he had just done, but he knew his mother wouldn’t like it. Nora had always wanted them to be family, she hadn’t fancied the look they gave each other during mealtime. She had always told Maurice to love Pablo as his father just As he loved her and truthfully Maurice had tried, he had f-cking tried but Pablo always shun him off, he didn’t f-cking care. When Maurice noticed he was the only one trying to force his Dad love on him and he wasn’t getting any result he stopped trying and took to the conclusion that Pablo can never love him nor accept him as his son even after Nora’s plea. Then that night came, when Nora died because of him, the only woman that had meant so much to him in life before Joliet, they didn’t even properly say goodbye.. It was all his fault! and Maurice didn’t think he could forgive him for that. He knew for sure that Nora wouldn’t be happy about his story, she was a forgiving woman, sweet, helpful and caring, her spirit was one of the most loving ones he had ever seen and he was glad she had passed that trait to Joliet. They were two most important people in his life and when his mother had left, hatred for his father started welling up in him. He couldn’t just let it go.
“F-ck!” Maurice muttered to himself. Was he a little too hærd on Pablo or was he just feeling that way because of Diane or was it the lonliness he felt now?.. Geez, he knew Pablo was only trying to make amends for the company’s sake, he wanted them to be close so they could work together and build up the company.. As always Pablo had been putting himself first. And if he had truly cared then he’d have known what today is. Maurice was used to that anyways.
“You did the right thing Maurice,” he breathed out to himself “you did the right thing” he repeated and stood up. He checked the time and it was only 3:09, he had even left the office early because his conscience wouldn’t stop blaming him for being too harsh on Pablo but Maurice wasn’t ready to accept that.
He grabbed his jacket and was walking to the room when he sighted a female bag on the floor of Bella’s room door, he walked to it and picked it up, it was zipped open and some pictures fell to the ground. Maurice picked it up and looked into it. His jaw clenched tightly, too tightly and felt his teeth were gonna break..
It was the guy again or was it prince charming? And f-ck his l-ips was on Bella’s cheek. Maurice didn’t realize when he started squeezing the picture in his fist. He threw it down and walked to the kitchen where he got himself some coffee and he drank it up. He was out of the kitchen when he heard the door bell ring, he walked to it and pulled it open.. It was a guy with dark hair and wait.. It was Raymond! The guy in those pictures.
“Hello you must be Maurice” he said with a formal smile and Maurice felt anger welling up.
“I am. Who are you and how may I help you?” Maurice asked, trying to go with the formal conversation.
“I’m a friend of Bella and I mean we’re really great friends–
“So?” He asked and the dude chuckled.
“I know Bella’s hurt because of you and because I’m a gentleman I’m not gonna throw punches. I just want you to know that Bella’s really vital to me and seeing her hurt burns me especially if it’s from someone like you.. I’m warning you to stay off Maurice, I know Bella can be fragile a times but if you dare hurt her again I’ll make you have your own blood for dess**t” Raymond seethed, Maurice could see the flames of anger in his eyes.
“Wait,” Maurice smiled “are you her boyfriend or something and how dare you come to my house to threaten me?” Maurice asked.
“I’m not her boyfriend, at least not yet coz you’re still blocking that path but I really love Bella a lot and secondly I’m not threatening you, I’m just telling you what I can do if you hurt Bel again,” he said “I really hate creating bad impression about myself on people I’m just meeting. I hope you don’t see me as a fearsome person but honestly I’m a man of my words” he said and without another word, walked away. Maurice brows twitched as he stared at Raymond moving away.. Okay what the hell happened?
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