Maurice stared on at Bella, not sure if he heard her correctly or he was hallucinating that she had actually spoke from the start. Bella blinked before looking at him, she saw his expression and it answered her question to some extent that was already pretty clear enough. She blinked the sadness her eyes held and looked away from his gaze before standing up.
“I’ll head in first” she said and moved to her room, not waiting for Maurice to utter a word.
Maurice sat dumbfounded on that spot for a minute.. Okay he definitely was hallucinating, Bella didn’t say that. But he was sure he saw her lips move and why did she leave all of a sudden, is she shy after revealing her heart to him, he sighed.. He didn’t hear her well, that was it and he was going to stick to it.
He stood up and turned off the TV before heading to his room, he pulled into his pyjama and turned off the light then drifted off to sleep.
The next morning Bella had her bath and had breakfast with Maurice, he noticed she was unusually quiet and that she avoided his gaze each time it accidentally met with hers. He left for work and Bella sighed her weariness to a couch. She stood up and went to the back of the house, she got to the pool and stripped, she got into the water and swim. She rested at an angle and took off the band holding her hair in ponytail. Her gaze rested on the bracelet and the feeling of her missing tail sent a cold longing down her spine, she drew in a long cocky breath; thinking first about the possible repercussion of what she wanted to do, if she get caught. She kicked the thought aside and slowly loosened the bracelet, she took it off and tightened it in her fist… The transformation begun; first it felt like a new unlikely feeling then bit by bit it became old like deja vu. She felt her feet gradually giving way to tail, she felt them clamping together and joining to be one; one tail.
She closed her eyes and opened them once the transformation was over, she flapped her tails and smiled as it stroke the water beneath her. She dived in and saw her tail, she flapped it and chuckled then swan to and fro, proudly waving her tail behind.
She stayed in the water and in her tail for long minutes before slipping her bracelet in. She got out of the pool and grabbed her clothes before moving into the house, she pulled into her clothes after drying her body and packing her hair. She slipped her feet into her flops and head out of the house. She got to the estate gate and headed for ma’am Patty’s. She ran across the street and almost immediately a car parked close to her, she waited for the conveyer to come out and it turned out to be Raymond.
“Hey,” he walked to her with a smile.
“Hi” she reciprocated the smile before adding “No outing today, I’m visiting a friend” Raymond chuckled.
“Very disappointing but I could give you a lift”
“Sure” she responded and got into his car, he swerved it to life and drove off.
“It’s a little down the street, a restaurant” he nodded and the ride turned silent.
“Bella,” he called and she turned to face him “Have you ever thought of being a fashion model?”
“Fashion model?” she repeated “What’s that?”
His brows narrowed at her kinda weird question but he quickly shook it off when he saw the sincere ignorance on her face.
“I work In a fashion industry and last week we created a new design, it’ll be finalized in approximately three weeks and when they’re ready we’ll be holding a fashion show and displaying them on magazines, flyers, TVs and newspapers.. we need new models for the publicity” he said and she nodded.
“What’s a model work there?”
“You’re to just put on the clothes for photo shots and have fashion parade with them so the purchasers can get to know how the products really looks like and get enticed” he said. “The pay is pretty big Bella. Think about it; you have all the characteristics of a model. If you say yes, your commencement will be available” he said and Bella nodded.
“I’ll think about it” she said and Raymond gave her a smile and they continued the ride.
“Permit me to ask, I’ve just been really curious but do you… have a boyfriend?”
“Is that similar to marriage?”
“It is but there’s a big difference; boyfriend is someone you love, care about and cherish and that person also feels same ways, it might not really last long but it deals with love, just like marriage”
Bella nodded thoughtfully wondering if Maurice also have someone he loves.. Will he be her boyfriend or does he already have a girlfriend?
“If that’s it then I don’t have a boyfriend” she said and Raymond smiled with happiness and hope but it soon shattered as Bella added “but I do have someone I love” she said, making Raymond’s smile vanish.
“Oh,” he let out a long breath “Who’s it?”
“So I guess he doesn’t love you?”
“I haven’t asked him but I don’t think he does and even though he doesn’t I just keep loving him so much.. it’s like it’s unstoppable” she said and Raymond gulped the hurt in form of a lump, hanging close to his throat.
“Do you think he loves someone else?”
“I don’t know about that too but I’ve never seen him with a girl” she said “I really hope he doesn’t”
“He’s a big-time lucky guy. I’ll love to see him someday” he said “So tell me, is he handsome, I mean Maurice. Is he more handsome than I am?”
“Much more,” Bella said.
“Ouch! that hurts”
“I’m only being honest”
“You should’ve mixed that with feelings, you spat it right at my face” he feigned an hurt expression and Bella chuckled.
“You’re handsome too Ray and you’re a good guy”
“But not enough for you to like me?”
She shook her head.
“I would have if I had my way but you can’t love two people at a time, I’ve got only one heart”
“Yeah, I know. I’ll just keep hoping that someday that space will come for me” he said “I love you a lot, right from the very first day” Bella smiled.
If only that was Maurice, how happy she’d have been.
“I don’t mind being in second place. I’m always right here okay?”
“Thanks” Bella smiled then looked away.. Will Maurice ever say these words to her?
Will he one day tell her he loves her?
Now she wished her heart hadn’t beat for him right from the start, she wished she could transfer all the love she had for Maurice to Raymond. He’s a good guy and he loves her too even though he already knew she loved someone else.. is that how her case will be when she finds out Maurice loves someone else?? Will she still love him like before?
She sighed the thought away when Raymond stopped at the restaurant she described; ma’am Patty’s.
“Think about the job offer,” he said and she nodded “And my proposal” she chuckled at that before getting down and watching him drive off. she moved to Patty’s restaurant and met her attending to some customers.. She was about greeting when patty sighted her and smiled. “Oh Bella, it’s you!” she said, walking to her and they hugged.
“I haven’t had time to come visit” she said as they pulled away from the hug.
“I’ve missed you so”
“Me too..I’ll be visiting often now” she said and they walked into the restaurant.
As usual they attended to the guests until evening before changing the sign and turning off the outer light and then settling to discuss… They talked about random ladies and life stuffs and the discussion was going pretty well, as usual.
“I got this movie tickets when I purchased a book from a store at Manhattan” patty said during the talks and she took out two movie tickets and showed them to Bella. Bella stared at them clueless-ly.
“Movie tickets” she repeated.
“Yes, cool right?. We’ll get to watch the BELIEVE free!, it’s a book whose movie was created” she said and Bella smiled along.
“It’s tomorrow and I was told to bring a friend along..I’ll take you. You’ll come right?” she asked.
“Uh..I’ll try, if Maurice agrees then I’ll go” she said and pat nodded.
Patty dropped Bella off at the estate and Bella trekked to the house, she pulled the door open and moved in. She started dinner and rounded up on time. She opened the fridge and her gaze caught the lemons in one of the racks, she took the bowl that had them and set it on the counter.. She peeled off the outer layer and got the squeezer from the cabinet, she carefully sliced the lemon in them and added a generous quantity of water. She got the fresh juice out and added sugar cubes them poured it in a jar and left it to cool in the refrigerator.
It was almost Maurice home-time so she set the table and in the middle of setting the meal, Maurice arrived.
He left for his room and while Bella quickly filled the glass cups with lemonade and left a bottle of water close to it. Maurice walked to the kitchen, clad now in another pair of clothes.
“You made this?” he picked the cup of lemonade and Bella nodded. He lifted the cup to his lips and took a long sip. “It’s really good, how did you learn it?”
“Patty thought me, I once assisted her in making it” Maurice twitched his face before focusing on dinner.
After dinner they relaxed for a while on the breakfast chair.
“You’re really good at making meals now” Maurice commended.
“I learnt most from Patty” Bella said. “She invited me to the cinema with her, she said she got free tickets and she wants me to tag along”
“I can go?”
“Of course, it’s your decision. just be careful” he said and she smiled and stood to attend to the dishes.
Maurice left for his room and returned later when Bella was wiping the table.
“Bella,” she faced him and her gaze caught the new phone in his hand. “I got it for you” she took it and looked at it. “We can talk to each other with this.. if there’s an emergency or something you have to tell me, you call. My number’s saved in it and there’s a long limited recharge there” he said “sit, I’ll tell you how to use it”
Maurice explained what he taught was the ‘most important’ to her about the phone and all through Bella couldn’t stop smiling and then nodding her head. He tested her on the little procedures on the beginners use and she passed.
“That’s how a mobile phone is used to call, text and talk” he said and she smiled.
“Thanks Maurice” she said as she examined and smiled at her phone.
“I’ll name her Maubel. That’s Maurice and Bella” Bella suddenly said and Maurice chuckled out.
“Is it funny?”
“N-no–” he laughed “It’s just kinda weird that you’re giving human names to a phone”
“Maubel.. I think it’s a good name. Stop laughing” she said and he stopped then started again. She threw him one of the throw pillows and it caught him at his head. Bella laughed.. They stayed that way and Bella stopped.
“Maurice, can I ask you something?”
“And you better stop laughing if you wanna hear it”
“Yes ma’am” he joked.
“D-do you have a girlf–
His ringing phone interrupted her sentence and she watched him pick it up then peered, a smile crossed his lips and he took excuse before standing up and picking it. He head to his room.
Every other word that followed sounded like mush to Bella, only the love word registered..
Love?? as in his love?
Could that be his girlfriend.. But she hadn’t seen him with a girl. OK, she must be among his colleagues at work or a student at the school he schooled in but still–
he does have a girlfriend.
____ To be continued
⬅️ PREVIOUS episode