(My heart desire)
BY BLESSING SILVER
Leona parked her car at bobby’s and climbed down, she shut the car door and sighted Damien on the bench, his head was buried in his palm, she sighed inaudibly before walking up to him.. “Hey,” she said and his head went up to her, a small smile rested on his face .
“Hi” he replied, the sad look returned to his face as she sat beside him.
“Isn’t the sun a little too harsh here?” She asked and he looked up, unaware.
“Is it? I didn’t notice” he replied. “My mind’s preoccupied with other things to realize that” he said and Leona nodded, not knowing how to comfort him.
“Damien,” she called “It’s not the end for you”
“I know. I’m just sad that I failed you, you must be disappointed in me” he said with a small smile.
“I’m not.. Not even a bit. Maybe your time isn’t just now or this probably prevented you from paying a high price in the future.. If this is about me then you shouldn’t be sad. If it should affect anyone at all then it should be you” she said and he gave her a small smile..
“Thanks” he said and a small silence followed, “It means a lot that you’re here”
A small silence followed, Leona broke it.
“Are you hungry, should we grab a bite while we talk? I’m hungry” she said and he gave her a small look, reading it, she added “it’s my treat”
“Um..okay then” he said and they went in, with her leading.
They took seats at the VIP section and a waiter attended to them, no pen and pad with him. Leona had always fancied the ones who served without them.. They were smart enough to grab everything.. She put the menu aside..
“I’ll just have a cheeseburger and fries, I’ll take Ketchup for topping and freshly squeezed pineapple juice” she said and he nodded before turning to Damien.
“Um.. I’ll have hamburger and cola” he said and he nodded before walking away. Leona grabbed one of the crackers on the big plate for refreshment and kept her mouth busy.
“My Granny wants to meet you” he said and Leona stopped chewing halfway. Her gaze raising up to him..
“You told her about me?”
“Yes and she wants to meet that pretty Lady that gave me a chance to achieve my dream and thank her. No matter how much I tell her that I’ve thanked you enough she still insists on appreciating you herself” he said and Leona opened her mouth to talk but he started talking again.. “She can be obnoxious sometimes but I perfectly understand if you don’t want to come to our house, to be honest it’s not much of a house really, it’s not what you would be expecting. I’ll find a way to convince Gran to stop asking and–
” I’ll go ” Leona replied plainly.
The waiter returned with their food and served them before leaving.
“Uh..are you sure about that? I don’t want you to be disappointed but our place’s more like a cottage, not all that great but it’s comfy” he said.
“Well, you said it yourself that your Granny’s stubborn, I don’t want her coming to my dream cos I didn’t do what she wants,” she said with a smile and Damien laughed “It’s fine really and good for me I’m a fan of comfort” she said, taking a bite out of her Burger.. Damien gave her a stare, realizing he was over staring, he bent to his own food.
After the brunch, Leona paid and they walked out, she glanced at her watch.. “Luckily it’s still early, there’s time to meet your Granny” she said..
“I should probably call her to be expecting a guest” he said and as they walked to where Leona’s car was parked, Damien tried reaching his grandma on phone..
During the drive, he gave her directions..
“Do you walk this far everyday to bobby’s?” She asked..
“No.. I use a bicycle” he said and she nodded. Minutes later, she pulled up in front of a cottage house.. They got down and Leona examined the exterior.. The grasses were neatly trimmed and little shrubs formed an entry post before reaching the front door, the air smelled neat and nice, the environment was clean and there was a high bench at a corner, under a big tree that served at shade and a flower pot stood firmly beside it.
“Leona,” she got back to reality “We can stay here if you’re not fine with coming in” he said and Leona sighed at him..
“Seriously? I’ll have to tell your Granny that you’re weren’t really nice to her guest and you asked her to stay under the sun” she said and Damien chuckled.
“Forgive me, please come in” he said and they walked in, he offered her a seat and left to inform his granny that she’s here. In a little space of time, Leona took in the sitting room looks.. It was neat, she firstly observed; very neat and she commended them greatly for that.. Truly it was a small place but it was very comfortable and the smell was great, it’s scent was of flowers.. There was a small fireplace at a corner and she noticed there was no electricity.. A dinning table was set at a corner with two chairs, the walls and floor were neatly polished.
A door opened and at a small peek, Leona saw it was the kitchen door and Damien walked out with an elderly woman.. She should be in her early fifties, Leona thought, standing up.
“Forgive me for being a bad host and keeping you waiting.. Hope you’re not mad at me?” She asked, moving to kiss her. For her age, Leona sensed the nice accent she talked with, she must’ve had full education.
“Not at all” she said, letting her kiss her cheeks.
“It’s nice to finally meet the pretty woman with a golden heart,” she said “forgive my manners, please sit” she said and Leona sat.
“Damien finally brought you..he thinks you’ll be disappointed seeing where he lives.. He must’ve told you I can be pretty stubborn and I didn’t stop asking to see you” she said and Leona smiled.
“It’s actually nice here to be sincere.. And the Smell’s great too”
“It must be from our small garden” she said.
“You have a garden?”
“Yes. Damien made one. He plants only flowers” she said.
“I’ll love to see it”
“I’m sure he’ll like to tour you around. You must know why I insisted on meeting you. When Damien told me about the pretty lady who always visits and eats his cupcake, I’ve always wanted to meet her, he seems exceptionally happy when he talks about you and when he told me about the scholarship form you gave him, I couldn’t help wanting to meet you. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Damien so happy, for the past years, he’s experienced so many heartbreak and I’m glad he’s getting over it after knowing you. I won’t ask you to stay with him forever but please don’t leave him now” she said “And thank you so much for the opportunity, though he missed it and I hope you’re not disappointed”
“I’m not, I know he’s pretty smart and determined. Maybe it just isn’t his time” she said.
“I told him that too. I’m glad you understand” she said “Just a moment, I need to check out something” she stood up and left.
“Your Granny’s nice” she told Damien.
“And a big talker” he added.
“Well, who wouldn’t care for their grandson?” She teased.
“She makes me look like a kid to you, imagine her begging you not to leave me.. Like you’re my mother or something” he said and she laughed.
“It’s called caring” she primped.
Grandma returned with two tall glass cups filled with sundaes and spoons dipped in them.. She walked over to Leona and gave one to her..
“I had to make this when I heard you were coming, I hope you’ll enjoy it” she said “It’s just an appreciative treat” she passed the other to Damien.. “Just have this before I finish cooking”
“Oh grandma, that’s so nice of you and this is salivating, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. Thank you”
“No, thank you. Why don’t you both sit under the shade while you eat.. It’s pretty hot in here and your sundaes might get melted” she said.
“Oh, that’s right. C’mon Leona” Damien said and they both walked out.
He helped her on the high bench, under the big tree whose leaves protected them from the sun and kept them cold, he dropped his glass and lifted himself up beside her. Leona took a spoon out of her sundae, a berry stuck at the top and she ate it.. She moaned.
“This is damn good,” she moaned “Your Granny’s really talented” she took another spoonful to her mouth.
“You can say that again” he said.
After a few more spoons, Leona set the spoon and sighed.. Easing her chilling mouth..
“Too cold?” He asked and Leona shook her head, giving him a small smile.
“Looks like you’re not the only one with a bothered mind” she said..
“Is something wrong?”
“I’m not supposed to share this but my dad wants me to get married” she said and tilt her head to face him to check his expression but it was blank. He was quiet for a while, then he looked at her.
“Is he a rich guy?” He asked and she looked away, taking another spoonful of ice cream.
“Yes. How’d you know?”
“Well because parents tend to give their children out to men they’re sure have a secured future and will give them a comfortable life” he said.
“Nah, not mine. But he does have a secured future, I mean his parents are damn rich but he’s an asshole. And dad’s doing this for himself or maybe for mom and I also but it’s mainly for him” she sighed again. “It’s all for business” she added.
“From your looks, it seems you don’t like this guy”
“I hate him. Sorry, but it’s true. You might think I’m just being picky but no matter how much I think about it, I don’t want this”
“Then you shouldn’t do it,” he said and she gave him a look “you do know marriage’s a lifetime commitment, it’s something you can’t walk out on easily. You can’t stay with a guy that you hate, you’ll be the one loosing in the end. I don’t know why your dad’s doing this but you should let him know that you’re not up for this and besides you’re old enough to pick your man.. Don’t get dragged into something that’ll ruin you.. I’m sure there are other guys that’ll bow at your feet..wealthy, handsome, you name it Leona. You’re pretty, smart and kind.. Who wouldn’t want you” he said and Leona smiled a little..
She stopped herself from finishing her words, she was about saying *Even after knowing her Father’s a womanizer, a shame and will be going to jail soon for owing a debt and that she lost her pride trying to cover up his schemes*
“Even after what?” He asked and Leona chuckled nervously..
“Never mind” she said before looking away “Is that yours?” She asked, referring to a bicycle resting on the tree’s body.
“Yes, I use it to transport myself to and from bobby’s and other places”
“Are you a perfect rider?” She asked and he shrugged.
“I know I’m really good, I don’t know about perfect. You?”
“Haven’t rode one in years, I barely remember how to start it” she said with a small smile.
“Want me to refresh your memory?” He asked and she gave him a small stare before shaking her head negatively.
“I don’t think–
“C’mon Leona, it’ll be fun, I promise,” he said but she was still reluctant “trust me, you’ll like it” he cajoled.
“Um..okay then” she agreed. They left their sundaes on the bench and he climbed down and stretched a palm to help her down, she took it and hopped down..
He unfastened the chain and freed the bicycle, drawing it out on the shade. He helped her sit on it..
“Here, you hold this handle with your palms to help you turn,” she held the handles “And then you put one leg on this pedal, use the other feet on the ground to push the bicycle forward and when it moves you lift that leg to the second pedal and keep pedalling to ride” he said and Leona tried it, she moved only for seconds and lost balance later, he caught her before she fell..
“Sorry,” he said “okay, just put your both legs on, I’ll help you move and then you continue pedalling on your own” .. He helped her sit on it and when her feet were balanced on the pedals, he pushed the bicycle forward.. She held onto the handle, moving her feet in correspondence..He left her seconds later and she pedalled successfully and hit the brake before she could hit a rock and sighed out with a smile.. Damien moved to her..
“That was impressive” he commended.
“I know right.. I could’ve turned and keep moving”
“You did great. Try to start on your own”
After trials, Leona successfully knew how to ride well, she learnt the basic moves and after minutes, she was close to being really good.
“This is so much fun” Leona said while riding around.
“Told ya” he said. “You’re doing good”
“No,” she stopped beside him “I’m perfect now, I can do stunts too. Can you?”
“Ooh.. Is that a challenge?”
“I’m smart Damien, my brain grabs anything fast. Isn’t it obvious?”
“Challenge accepted then” he said, crossing his arm.. “I’ll just get my other bike and show you what I can do” he said, walking away.
He came back with a bicycle, similar to the one Leona rode on.
“Here, I got you a helmet” he said, stretching it to her and she waved it off..
“I don’t want it.. I want to win fair and square” she said and he smiled, putting the helmet away.
“So much confidence” he said and she shrugged.
“Okay, let’s start from this side up to the end of that road” Leona said and Damien agreed. “In three..two..one” she called and they both rode down.. Damien didn’t have to pedal that hard, he’d been a cyclist for most of his life, it’d been his favorite and most fun exercise, he sometimes helps him clear disturbing thoughts off or he just rides around with Alex over a bet and he wins almost all of the time..
Damien screeched at he end of the road and turned to give Leona a victory smile as she parked beside him seconds later, frowning slightly..
“Okay, you win.. That’s one for you. Now let’s ride back” she said and after the call, she reversed and turned swiftly, a new skill she learnt on her own and she was back on the road before him. He passed her seconds later and Leona let out a small gasp as she pedaled really hard but she wasn’t anywhere close to him and in a bid to increase her pace, she missed a step, unknowingly her bike hit a small rock and she fell off it after loosing balance..
“Ouch!” She yelped, rubbing her knee that had grazed the hard sand.. Damien rushed to her, his bicycle laid carelessly on the floor.
“Oh my God Leona!, are you okay?” He asked in a serious tone.. He bent over her and examined her knee, it wasn’t bleeding but it was hurt and the spot was red. Leona rubbed it.
“Yeah, it’s just a small fracture. I’m good” she said.
“C’mon, let’s go treat this first” he said, helping her up.
“I’m fine Damien, really. And besides, we have a race to finish” she said.
“I’m fine. I have to win this first, let’s get on with this” she said, picking the bicycle and sitting on it.. Damien gave her a long concerned stare before reluctantly walking to his bicycle, with one glance backwards, he sat on it and they continued riding. He slowed down, letting Leona override him and finish up before him.. A big smile rested on her face.
“Yay!” She giggled. “In your face Damien! I won”
Damien climbed down, clapping his palms..
“You didn’t lie about it. Congratulations. Now, can we go treat you?”
“After a last ride” she said and Damien was about disagreeing but knowing it’d be pointless in the end, he agreed.
“Okay” he agreed..
They got on and Leona called out the numbers and they both started pedalling.. Leona pedaled hard but she was no where close to Damien.
Damien was close to the peak when he heard a cry behind him, fully alarmed, he quickly jumped down and ran to Leona whose head was bent over her knee, rubbing it and wincing.
“Did you graze your knee again?” He asked, bending to look at it..
“I-I think so” she stuttered.
“Play time’s over, let’s go tre–
He hadn’t completed his words before she rode past him, laughing out.. She reached the end, parked and turned to face him, the ecstasy not leaving her face.
“Fooled you,” she said and he smiled, raising both hands in surrender.. “You’re gullible”
“I thought you wanted to win fair and square, this isn’t what that looks like” he said.
“I just learnt that sometimes you need to fight for yourself, no matter what others call it. The big fact’s that I won. Yippie”
“Yeah okay. I guess I should more often practice now” he said.
“You should” Leona laughed.
“Ow! My sundae is gone” Leona said, staring at her sundae that had melted..
“Same here,” Damien said. “Should I ask Granny for another?”
“No, it’s okay. Can I see the garden instead?”
“Sure, this way”..
They got to the garden, it was a small place and Leona wowed at all the pretty flowers.. Truly the nice smell was from here.
“When did you start this?”
“Few days after I moved here, about five months ago” he said.
“It’s so beautiful” she said, running her hand against a daffodil.. She bent and inhaled a rose plant, pulling out one..
“It’s really pretty,” she said “Do you sell them?”
“No. But I give them out as gifts. This is my relaxing spot, I enjoy the nice smelling wind here and it helps me think positive” he said and Leona nodded.
Damien pluck out a lily, moved to Leona and hung it in her hair, letting the flowery part stick out.
“It looks pretty on you”
“Thanks” she said. “It smells good too. I wish I had one of these at home, mom plants mostly vegetables in our garden”
“You’re always welcome to come here anytime. Or if you want I could take some of mine and grow it in your garden” he said..
“That’d be great. I’ll be looking forward to it” she said.
“How about we play a game?” He asked and Leona glanced at her watch and gave him a small frown.
“Sorry but I have to be on my way now, maybe some other time”
“Yeah sure” he said.
They walked back to the house and Leona grabbed her bag.
“You’re leaving?” Granny asked, coming out from a room.
“Yes. I didn’t inform anyone I’ll be coming here and it’s getting late” she said.
“Aw, I was hoping you’d stay for dinner and maybe we could have more chit chats”
“I’m so sorry”
“Will we meet again?”
“Of course. I’ll try to fit coming here into my schedules one day and we’ll have plenty time together” she said and Granny nodded.
“Then you better tell me ahead of time which day it’ll be so I’ll make so many yummies to make your stay worthy”
“Mmh.. I’ll so be looking forward to that. I had a great time” she said, moving to kiss her “I’ll see you again” she said and Granny nodded.
“Hold on, I have a small something for you” she said and walked back to the room which Leona assumed was the kitchen. She came back later with a bouquet of flowers..
“It’s my little gratitude” she said, giving it to her..
“Thank you so much” Leona said, inhaling it. She kissed her again and bade her bye before Damien walked her to her car.
Leona sighed as she got into the drivers.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” Damien said.
“I don’t know. It depends on my work” she said.
“Leona, everything will be fine. I know you’re worried about the marriage stuff but trust me, your dad’s business will do just fine and he wouldn’t pester you about it again” he said and she narrowed her brows at him.
“You sound so sure and besides I didn’t plan on getting married cos my dad wants me to”
“It’s called faith and maybe hope that someone wouldn’t take you away so quick but I’m glad you’ve made a good choice. Everything will be fine, I promise” he said and Leona opened mouth to ask him a question but she shut it instead, still leaving her brows narrowed at him.
“Um okay. Bye” she said and started her car.
Jesse stared wearily at the short, threatening and frightening mail from the board on his monitor screen, each re-read refreshed heavy goosebumps on his skin. the time was close, too close and he hadn’t done anything.. He could hear the heavy thumping of his heart as it beats.. Beads of sweat surrounded his forehead in perspiration..
To say he was scared is an understatement, he was terrified to his bones.. He tried to think but the only picture he could see was himself behind bars, his company relinquished and the everything he has going down the drain..
Jesse shook his head, as if pushing the thought faraway, he can’t let that happen. Once Leona accepts his offer, which he had cajoled her pretty good to, he’d get access to the Rodriguez company and lend some money for whatever then he’d pay up his debts. He just needed Leona’s call though he doubt that she’ll refuse him.. He had convinced her pretty well.
Earlier he had tried to ask Greg for the loan but his response was simple and clear ‘No Leona, no deal’ he had said. He must really love his daughter, he just doesn’t understand why she can’t reciprocate it, the guy is so in love with her. Well, he doesn’t think she has a choice anymoe.
Hus ringing phone transported him from his thought and he jumped at it and lifted it from it’s cradle to his ear.
“Hello handsome” the flirty voice made him sigh and he ran his palm over his face.
“What do you want Sophie?” He asked.
“Aww.. Someone’s not in a good mood, should I come and make you feel better?” She asked.
“Not today Sophie, I have so much to do, I don’t want distractions”
“Why? Is it your old woman?”
“It’s not my wife. I just have other issues” he said.
“Too bad. So when do we meet?”
“I don’t know Sophie, I’m really busy today”
“How about tomorrow?”
“No.. Not today, tomorrow or even few weeks after that. I have really serious issues I need to sort out, I’ll call you when it’s all over” he said.
“What? But that’s too far”
“Well, take it as it is. Bye” he hung up and dropped the phone. He sighed, relaxing on the chair.
Why hadn’t Leona given him an answer yet, each minute she spends thinking increases his chances of going to jail. If she wouldn’t come to him then he have to go to her..
He stood up halfway when a mail popped up on his monitor, he was on the verge of ignoring it but the heading made him click on it..
It was a short mail.. He read it and after the last line caught him really hard.. **…offers you a loan of $1 billion..*
He gasped.. He had been offered a loan from a company in new York.. He read the mail again, all he just needs to do was to accept it first then the whole details will follow. Left with barely no choice, he clicked on the accept button and scrolled down the note to the interest rate, it was a fair one.. A very fair one and he was given a lot of time as duration.
He checked it again to be sure he wasn’t dreaming or hallucinating.. It was all real..
He quickly scrolled up to check the company’s name..
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