Azura

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Chapter 9: Dark Eyes Hide Lies

Malachi concludes his sermon with a few impactful statements.

“The world is a dangerous place. You must arm yourself with your faith. This world is not for the weak, it can change you or you can change it. The choice is yours. In Romans 12 verse 21 it says: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. The choice is yours.”

He takes his one hand out of his pocket.

“I want you all to do something for me. Press your two fingers on your neck and search for your heartbeat.” He demonstrates and places his index and middle finger on the side of his windpipe, beneath the jaw.

Everyone hesitates at first, but obeys regardless.

“Do you feel that throb?”

Waves of nods.

“You have a pulse, that means you have a purpose. You are alive, you were created for a reason. Billions of people on this planet, yet there is only one of you, with your unique purpose. Only a song that you can sing or a story that only you can write.”

His hands return to his pockets.

“You just need to find what’s yours. It says in the word that. It is for God to conceal a matter, and it is for a king to search it out.”

Promptly the preaching meets its end, and everyone is released. Currents of people pour out the entrance, vacating the church. Eager to leave as they were eager to come. Eventually the Okoro make it out but still, the siblings are forced to wait whilst gran and gramps make their rounds with their friends.

“Man, that took a lot out of me. I’m starving,” Litha says with a scowl, and pulls out his phone.

Cece snorts. “Yeah sitting there, half-conscious. What a strain.”

Anger welling, Litha’s eyes hunt for them and he spots them trotting down the staircase. Gramps shifts his weight from side to side.

Finally,” Litha says bitterly.

Gramps locks his eyes on him with a glare that can dry oceans. “Boy, you better watch that tone.”

Before they can even taste the victory of escape. A petite woman rushes towards them with Caleb practically having to jog behind her to keep up.

“Bren-Bren!”

Gran perks up. “Kathy!”

The two engulf each other, torsos wiggling from side to side.

Katherine runs her a hand through her bleached blonde bob hair with flared layered ends. Despite tousled, it still flawlessly laps to one side.

Even though they only saw each other several days ago, they make it seem as if it’s been months.

“Bren babe, those orchids match brilliantly will this new Celtic runner I bought for the dinning table. Absolutely gorgeous,” she says with excessive hand movements. A rose gold Glamira ring adorns her finger. It glimmers under the sunlight with a diamond size that can make a real rock feel small.

Thankfully, Gramps interjects, “Katherine, I would like you to formally meet my grandkids—”

“Cece and Litha, of course.” Her swamp green eyes twinkle with excitement. “I would be damned if I didn’t know their names, when you talk about them so much.”

Gramps looks at her with a crippled smile, a grimace at the edge of his eyes.

Soon Brian meanders over, steering the twins by their hands. Inseparable from their father.

Oh,” Katherine squeals. “Brian and I are hosting a barbeque at our place this weekend. To celebrate, my husband’s life could have been taken but like Pastor Malachi said. He still has a purpose. And thank God for it.”

Gramps smiles, almost apologetically, at Brian and nods. “Just send us the details and we’ll be there.”

“And Granny-O, can you make lasagne again?” Andrew requests with the most adorable and innocent voice. “Mommy always burns hers.”

The men laugh and Katherine gapes. She glares at him playfully, like he just committed an act of treason.

“Well, I think it’s time for us to go,” Katherine says curtly. “It seems mommy needs to work on her cooking skills.”

Katherine heads in the opposite direction, strutting away.

“Walt, you and I should have a boy’s day and hit the club.”

Gran gawks at him with tarsiers eyes.

Golf club,” he amends quickly. “We haven’t been in a while.”

Gran lets out a loud sigh of relief and makes a slow start towards the left flank of the building. To explicate his disinterest, Litha follows after her, but Cece remains where she is.

“You? Take a break and golf?” Gramps lets out a dry laugh. “You still have time with all those corporate mergers and endless business meetings you need to attend to.”

“I will make time,” he says firmly. He looks to the ground and shrugs. “If there is one thing that I’m certain of what happened to me—I mean the accident. I learned that time serves no man. With the time given to me, I want to use it on things that matter. What’s important. My boys.”

He squeezes both of their hands, swaying them spiritedly. “My family and my friends.”

Gramps places a flaccid lid on his qualms. “As long as you are okay. Injured or not. I will show you no mercy.”

Brian exaggerates the mock in his laugh. “Maybe with me injured, you might stand a chance of winning.”

“Unless you want to be re-emitted to the hospital, I suggest you tone down your ego a couple of thousand notches.” Gramps swivels around, striding coolly to the car.

Brian moves to turn, but Cece stops him.

“Mr Jameson.”

He pauses and straightens himself out.

“Can I ask you something?”

Frowning through a smile, he nods. “Shoot.”

She makes it a point to signal at his sons with her eyes.

“Boys,” he says with his eyes transfixed on her, his head tilting downwards. “Go to the car, I’ll be right behind you.”

Brian releases their hands, but they stay at his side.

“Boys,” he says in an intimidating tone.

Comprehending, they submit, and they scurry off in their mother’s direction.

“Sorry about that. Ever since I came back from the hospital, they won’t leave my side,” he says, and looks off his shoulder to do a quick check-up.

“Totally understandable,” she waves off. “They look good, I’m glad they're okay.”

“My boys? They're warriors,” he says with an irrepressible grin. “After the accident, they both have scrapes and bruises on their body, healing nicely, but still visible. That’s why they begged Katherine to wear full suits despite the heat. Because they didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for them.”

“They are incredible.” Cece flashes a half-smile. “And how about you?”

“What about me?” he asks defensively, like she just triggered a nerve.

“I mean, how are you...holding up? What happened that day?”

“Why do you want to know?” He throws back. His voice edged with menace.

Conjuring up a compelling excuse, she says, “My grandparents care a great deal about you and your family. What's important to them is important to me.”

His defensive wall seems to crumble midway. Enough to glimpse a truth.

“I got into an accident with my boys, I guess I got sloppy. I can be a klutz sometimes; my only regret was that my boys were at risk because of it.”

“Sloppy?” Cece asks. Dubious. “Weird, gran describes you as the opposite.” She nods to herself confidently. “Perfectionist is the term that they used.”

Unexpectedly, the veil of charm is torn from his face and his eyes darken with a daunting look. Through clenched teeth, he says, “I think it’s time for you to go back to your granddad.” Tone lashed with hostility.

Before her brain can even process an apology. Brian is already marching away, his one hand begins to tremble with anxiety. He conceals it in his pocket.

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