Chapter Nineteen: Pretend
The aroma of Thanksgiving dinner being cooked filled partly half of the orphanage. Normally when Zara cooks, the house doesn’t smell a lot, since she does smaller portions, but today she went all out. I washed the dishes, helping out, while Lilly helps Zara move to stir some pots that are boiling.
“Is this normal?” I asked Lilly, as she turns to face me.
“Normal?” she asks with a confused look at my question. I nodded, looking around the kitchen.
“This much amount of food. Normally, your mother doesn’t cook this much.” I told her. Lilly suddenly giggles and shook her head.
“Oh, yes, is normal. The other half she donates it to the church. My grandma and grandpa will come to visit today, so Zara normally hands them the extra food so they can take it to the church. You’ll be surprised how many homeless people don’t have a family to spend thanksgiving. So Zara tries to help.” she tells me. I lower my hands.
“How did she manage to get this much food?” I asked her.
“Pops helps her,” she answers. I nodded.
“Pops, how long does he know Zara?” I was now curious.
“He was the one who raised me, he’s my second father.” I heard behind me. I turned to see Zara staring at me, with her hands on her small waist.
“That makes sense,” I told her. Zara doesn’t say anything but shook her head.
“Let’s finish this up before my parents get there,” she said, Lilly sighs, but nods, turning around. Zara goes up to me, and place her hand on mine. I look down, then back at her, then her cheeks turn red, but turns around to head for the stove. I frowned, looking down at my hand.
‘I think I should tell her, I have been too noisy, so I think is fair,’
I leaned against the wall, Zara nervously bites on her thumb, while the children sat on the couch, waiting.
“Don’t be so nervous,” I said. She looks at me and shakes her head.
“I’m not,” she said. I arched a brow.
“And I’m the big bad wolf.” I sarcastically said. Zara gave me a shy smile.
“Well, you are a wolf,” she said. I chuckled at that, as we heard a thunderous roar of the engine. We both turn to see out the window. A tall, elegant man, all dress up in an elegant brown coat. His hair is cut short, slicked down. He opens the door and a tall woman, almost his height came out. Her hair is long blazing red. A very delicate woman and pale. Wearing a thick black fur coat.
“Your parents, um, look pleasant and young,” I said. Zara looks up at me, noticing the fear in her eyes.
“Well, they got married very young, ” she said. I place my hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t be nervous, if anything, I’ll just be a call away,” I assured her. She nods, wrapping her arms around my midsection, burying her face in my chest. I raised my arms, as the children turn to face us.
“Just don’t be too far,” she mumbles. I nodded, placing my arms down and rub the back of her head.
“I’ll be next to you,” I whispered to her. She nods while she lifted her gaze and I couldn’t help it, so I kiss her forehead. She blushes, but smiles at me.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Oh, Ciel kissed mama,” I heard behind me. I turned to see every eye on us. I felt my cheeks warm up.
“Well, um, yeah,” I rub the back of my head, looking away.
‘Why did I kiss her in front of them?’ I felt embarrassed, but Zara smiles and kisses my cheek taking me by surprise.
“He’s family, is okay. Now, hide Ciel,” she said. I turned, watching her zip through the room, heading out. I actually laugh at the scenario she just placed.
Issac and Lilly stood up and go up to me.
“Ciel, before my grandparents come in, answer us this,” Issac looks at me seriously. I cross my arms.
“Shoot kid,” I said. Lilly and his brother look at each other, with a strange look and then look back at me.
“Have you fallen in love with our mom?”
I hide behind a wall, near the door, where I can have a good view of everyone.
“Here’s the food, please be careful, is still hot,” Zara hands a dark bag to her mother. Zara mother’s eyes are dark brown, and thin face. I can see that she’s starting to get lines around her eyes, but yet beautiful woman and Zara look almost like her.
“Well then. I see nothing has changed,” her tone is thin while placing the bags down.
“Of course not Mother,” Zara said while she held Sophy.
“Mother? Please don’t call me that. Remember, I’m Jackie.” She said while scrunching her nose.
“Ah, yes,” Zara lowers her head. Her father walks up to her and takes her hand.
“I found a well suitable suitor for you.” he suddenly said. I went still,
‘Why does everyone want her to marry?’ that annoyed me.
“Suitor? Really, father? Now?” she hissed. Her father clears his throat.
“Well, I worry about you, you’re not getting any younger. You should have been married off a long time ago,” he tells her.
“Ah yes, your father wants you to bare a child. He’s not getting any younger, and he needs a new heir,” she said. Issac went up to them.
“Due to all respect grandma, you do have grandchildren, all eight of us, and two that are blood relatives, mom doesn’t have to bare no grandchildren for you,” I can see the anger in Issac's young eyes, fisting his hand. Zara places her hand on his shoulder trying to calm him.
“Grandchildren? Please, you all just street rats that this child picked up. You and your sister came from a marriage that I clearly disagreed. So our only hope is your mother. We can’t have bad blood in our family. I just pray that your first child won’t be sick like you. Oh dear, Dean, what did I do to deserve two ungrateful children,” she weeps with crocodile tears while leaning on her husband’s shoulder.
“Mother, please don’t speak ill of my children, they may not be my own blood, but they are mine,” Zara goes up to her.
“Dear, we only speak the truth. The suitor we want you to marry is very wealthy, but he won’t take the children. So please within a month get rid of them.” she smiled at her daughter in an unpleasant matter. I felt my blood boil from pure anger. I heard a cry. I turned to see Daniel and Oscar crying.
‘Wow Zara and her mother are so different, she has no heart.’
“Get.. Get rid of them? I don’t even want to know what goes through your mind. I’m not that heartless as you are,” she spats angrily out trying to control her anger.
“Zara, watch your language, she still your mother,” Her father steps in. Zara was about to say something, but Lilly steps in.
“Actually, she can’t marry,” Lilly said in a timid matter. Both of Zara parents turn to stare at her.
“Why are you meddling on an adult conversation? Do tell, why can’t Zara marry?” she asks her. Lilly simply smiled at her.
“Easy, because mama is already married.” her words cause the room to grow silent. My eyes narrow at her words.
“M.. Married?” Jackie asks with a nervous tone. Zara looks at her daughter.
“Married?” she asks, giving her a tight look. Evanly and Isabella nods their heads.
“Mama is married, to Ciel. He’s our new daddy. You can’t make mama marry. They love each other and Ciel loves us like we love him. He’s the best daddy in the world,” Isabella said making a circle with her arms. The color of Zara mother face drained, while Zara’s face did the same. I sigh.
‘Don’t they know they just place me in a tight place, along with their mother? I can’t have them see my face,’ I rub the back of my neck when Zara nervously laughs.
“Um, Mom, dad, I’m not..” but Issac nods.
“So now, you can’t marry Zara. Ciel loves her, and they are inseparable.” Issac said with proudness. I mentally groan, pounding my forehead against the wall.
‘God, please kill me’ I prayed.
“Zara, how come we didn’t hear about this before? My dear daughter, who is this man? Oh dear,” Dean runs his hands through his face, in frantic . I licked my lips.
“Um, I..” she had no way out of this, apparently either did I.
‘This is scarier than my fights,’ I straighten my white shirt, that I bought in town while waiting for Zara to return, after my talk with Dusty.
“Here goes nothing,” I took a step, only for my pain in my leg to shoot up, it’s been happening more and more. Is annoying and painful. I pushed it down. I cracked my neck and tousle my hair.
“God help me,” I whispered, placing my best smile. I walked around the wall, trying my best to walk normal.
“Hey Zara, the turkey is ready,” I smiled with my lie, as everyone turned to face me. I never felt so oddly embarrassed and twisted by doing this.
“Ciel!” Everyone called out, running up to me. I bend down and picked up Oscar.
“Don’t cry, your mom won’t leave you,” I whispered to him. Oscar hiccups, but nods, wiping his tears, I smiled and place him down.
“Tell your brothers that," I whispered and pat his back gently. He nods and goes up to his brothers and whispered to them. Zara and her parents stare at the scene, but don’t mention anything.
I walked up to Zara, as Zara hands over Sophy to Lilly. She stares at me shell shocked. I don’t blame her. I turned to face her parents.
“Well hello there, you must be my in-laws, I’m Ciel,” I stretched my arm to shake them. Dean does, but his wife doesn’t. So I moved and took her hand and bow to kiss it. She kept staring at me with wide eyes.
“You’re a handsome bloke. Very handsome,” her mother said, eyeing me from head to toe. I now felt uncomfortable by this.
“Ciel?” Zara asks, still shocked.
“How is this possible? How long have you two been married?” Dean asks dumbfounded. I wrap my arm around Zara’s waist, making her gasp.
“Two months. We met last year,” I told them.
“Yet, you married her knowing she has so many children?” her mother asks dumbfounded.
“So? They are her children, for a reason God place them with her,” I simply replied to her.
“They are not blood, they have problems, and..” I shook my head interrupting Jackie. Not noticing the proud look on Issac’s eyes.
“So? That’s nothing, they are human beings, they aren’t lower than anyone. If God doesn’t see anyone lower and forgives the lowest of the low, then why can’t we? That’s how I see it. These children are my family and sure as hell, I wouldn't change it. Zara is an extraordinary woman, even in the bad, she’s comes out stronger than ever. I admire her in every aspect of herself. She’s not perfect, but damn she has a heart that no man is worthy of, not even me. I’m just lucky to have her next to me. I promised to always protect her and our children so long God gives me health. I see her kids being my own.” I went off, not realizing that I was telling them my real feelings.
“I don’t know what to say,” Dean said, while Jackie stares at us. I turn my head to look at Zara. Her eyes are wide, watery, but something else in them. Then turn to face the parents once again.
“Tell me, do you really love her?” Her dad asks me. I went still for a long second, but nodded.
“If I didn’t, I wouldn't have even thought of marrying her.” is all I answered him. Zara’s eyes widen even more looking up at me.
I cleared my throat.
“Now, if you excuse me, I have a turkey to attend to, I hope you two will stay for dinner, that would make Zara very happy,” I bow, turning to head out. As I left the living room. I hit my chest, trying to control my heart.
“What the hell did I just do?” I ran my fingers through my hair, while I slwoly walked towards the stairs.
“Ciel!” I heard. I turned to see Zara running towards me. I blinked, confused by her action.
“Zara?” I asked. She stops in front of me, heaving hard.
“For today, can. Can you keep pretending to be my husband?” she asks me shyly. I simply nodded.
‘Why doesn’t it bother me? I like the sound of that. Just like the taxi driver thought Zara was my wife.’ I was about to turn, but Zara grabs my arm. I turned and look down at her.
“Then please don’t mind this,” she blushes harder, wrapping her arms around my shoulders, lifting herself up, she places her lips on top of mine. I blinked, surprised by this bold action, but without a second thought, I wrap my arm around her small waist and kiss her back, pinning her against me.
The children and her parents came out of the living room, only to stop to look at us, as I ravish the woman I love and for some odd reason, I couldn’t stop smiling as I kept kissing her, feeling her smiling along. Even if this is pretend, for today, only for today, I will pretend that this is a reality.