Dark Love - A Darker Shade

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25

Lemuel dropped Zee off at her home. Inara saw her off to the door and the Housekeeper was the one who opened the door and received a merry Zee inside. Afterwards, Inara joined Lemuel in the car and he restarted the car, driving them back home.

“Thanks.” Said Inara.

“You’re welcome. I’m very happy she has someone like Michael now.”

Inara frowned and Lemuel scoffed. “I know you won’t agree with me on this. You’re a good friend, Baby girl.”

She smiled. “Thanks, Love.”

***

Zee threw up into her bathroom sink with her mum rubbing her back supportively.

“You should stop drinking.” she chided her.

“I’m a big girl now, mum. It’s too late for all this.”

“Whatever. You know I’ll never play the sentimental mummy.”

Zee was about to say something but ended up throwing up again.

“Sorry, Darling.” Said her mom, helpfully.

Zee took a few seconds to recover. “And that’s why I love you.”

“I love you too, Baby.”

Zee’s face broke into a deep frown. “Gosh, mum, my head aches.”

“Sorry, Love. I’ll get you something to help with that. Meanwhile, have a bath and come eat. I’ll be in the kitchen. I want to whip up some canned soup.”

“Thanks. I didn’t mean what I said earlier.”

“I know. Wash your mouth.”

“Okay.”

It took about an hour before Zee finally settled down on her bed, her mum drawing the covers over her.

“Sleep well.” Her mother said.

“I enjoyed your mothering, Mum.” Zee said tiredly.

Her mother smiled at her.

“Maybe I’ll get drunk often.”

The smile disappeared from her mother’s face and Zee let out a slight chuckle. “I’m just kidding, Mummy.” Her eyes slowly drew close. The exhaustion had overcome her body.

“Goodnight, Sweetheart” Her mother said gently.

There was no response from Zee as she was already sleeping. Her mother turned off the light and exited the bedroom, leaving her to rest.

When Zee woke up in the morning, it was to Israel jumping up and down on her bed. She groaned irritably.

“See.” He said excitedly. “See, coo moni”

“Good morning, Izzy. Stop jumping.”

Israel stopped jumping and lay down on the bed beside her. She gently caressed his hair. “I’m so tired, boy.”

“Taya, boy.” he repeated.

“Yes. But I’ll be fine.” Said Zee.

“Fy.”

She smiled at him. “How are you?”

“Fy.”

A knock sounded at the door and her mother entered. “Time for breakfast, Israel.”

“Mum.” He called and she drew forward, lifted him and put him down gently on the ground.

“Good morning, Mum.” Zee greeted.

“How are you feeling?”

“Better, but I just want to keep sleeping.”

“I’ll bring you breakfast in bed. Trust me, it will help.”

“I swear, I’ll get drunk again.”

“Don’t you dare it.” Her mother responded. “If you’re a big girl like you say, you’ll behave responsibly.”

“Sibly.” Israel repeated, making them laugh.

“I won’t do it again, Mum. I don’t like the consequences at all. I hate the hangover.”

“Great. That will work for me.”

As soon as her mother left with Israel, her phone started ringing beside her on the bed. When she checked the caller, it was Inara. She wanted to ignore the call and continue sleeping but it felt wrong. She knew her friend was only calling to check up on her. The least she could do was make herself available. She reached for the phone and received the call.

“Good morning, Inny.”

“Good morning. How are you, Zee?”

“I’ve been better.”

“I know. Take it easy.”

“Yeah. Thanks for yesterday. Extend my thanks to Lemuel.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll tell him. How’s everyone and Israel?”

“We are all good. And at your end?”

“We are all good too.”

“Thanks for calling to check up on me.”

“I called you, Zee. Stop trying to end the call.”

“I’m not. I just want to go back to sleep.”

“Fine. I understand. But anyway, has Michael called you?”

“No. Why?”

“He hasn’t?”

“No. Why? Is there a reason why you think he should be calling me?”

“Well, considering last night, I was thinking he would have called.”

“Why would you think that? He doesn’t know anything.”

“Zee.”

“What? He doesn’t know…wait a minute, does he?”

Inara sighed and Zee started to panic. She sat up on the bed, the phone held tightly at her ear. “Does he?”

“Yes.”

“But how?”

“You wouldn’t stop laughing when we were bringing you home. I was cautioning you and he heard everything over the phone because he was talking on the phone with Lemuel. You were too high to notice all that.”

“Then it’s your fault.” Zee cried out.

“Don’t start, Zee.”

“Oh my God.” Zee groaned as flashes of the punishment Michael had meted out to her played out. “Oh no.”

“I’m sorry, Zee.”

“What do I do?” she whined. “You’ve been through things like this. What did you do?”

“I never had the chance to plan anything.”

“So I guess I’m on my own.” She stated flatly.

“Pretty much.”

“Thanks for nothing, excluding last night.”

“Whatever, Zee. Good luck.”

Inara ended the call and Zee remained seated as she thought about what to do. Her phone started ringing with Michael’s call. Her heart skipped a beat but she managed to pick it up and raise it to her ear.

“Hello.”

“I want to believe that you’ve recovered from last night.” His deep voice rumbled in, increasing her nervousness.

“Yes I have.” She said, not intending to but ending up sounding contrite.

“How many percent recovery?”

“Seventy. Maybe eighty.” She said hesitantly.

“That’s good to know. Now where are you?”

“I’m at home.”

“Your engagement dress will arrive around noon.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“Don’t mention. Expect me there.”

Zee couldn’t hide the panic in her voice. “You…you’re coming?”

“Sure. I’ll be delivering the dress personally because frankly, I can’t wait for us to have lunch as well as a little chat about last night.”

He ended the call unceremoniously, leaving Zee speechless and apprehensive.

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