How would you deal with an overbearing mother? Think Neha cut it down to size here? And *sigh*, there's more trouble afoot for her...especially in the form of a delicious tattoo....
Catch up with the story till now
pages 1-5 here;
pages 6-8 here;
pages 9-11 here;
pages 12-14 here;
pages 15-17 here;
pages 18-20 here;
pages 21-23 here;
pages 24-26 here;
pages 27-29 here.
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Neha grimaced then bit the inside of her lower lip. She should’ve been expecting such an outburst from her mother, who loved nothing more than to ramble on about propriety and etiquette and social conventions to her daughters.
Gently, she extricated her arm from the iron grip. “Mum, let’s not argue, okay? I don’t have time for this.”
“You don’t have time for this? Just like you won’t have time for your family once you get a job?”
Her mother placed a heavy stress on the last three words, and Neha wished she could throw caution to the wind and tell her mother to can it. But she couldn’t do that, so she opted for another approach. “Mum, money doesn’t grow on trees, you know. I need to start providing for my family.”
“Then get yourself a husband.”
She threw her hands up. “You really believe it’s so simple? And my husband ain’t officially dead yet, either.”
“Don’t say ‘ain’t’, Neha. It’s bad grammar,” her mother said in a scolding voice. “And what nonsense about needing money. We’re all here. Ask and your father and sisters will provide for everything you need.”
Strike the Pause button. Close your eyes. Count to three. Breathe. The drill Lara and Diya always spoke about when their mother got on their case. She could, for the first time, empathize with them with perfect clarity.
“Mum, I’m not a charity case.”
“Of course, you aren’t. Why would you be, when you still have us, your family, to look after you?”
This conversation wouldn’t get them anywhere, and she didn’t want an argument. How would she convince her mother? She’d never understand. “Mum, please. Grant me this, okay? A few hours is all I’m asking for.”
“Fine.” Her mother huffed. “But let me assure you this is far from over.”
When is it ever over with you? The thought brushed her mind with such sudden insight she almost reeled.
“Who are you meeting?”
She didn’t want to keep at this, but the sooner she answered, the easier she could get away. “Someone from a radio and TV station.”
Her mother shook her head. “You’re setting yourself up for a bad life, Neha. Think of the children. What will people say when they’ll know you left them to go work in the media?”
I know, Mum—dealing drugs isn’t as bad as a career in the hedonistic media. That’s the way every one of her mother’s generation thought. She however remained silent, letting the chastising comments drone on.
“Tread carefully. You’re an easy target for men to exploit now, Neha. Look where you’re stepping.”
“I will, Mum.” Breathe.
The other woman then made a move toward the house. “Thank goodness I’m here should the children wake up….”
Neha tuned out the rest of her comments as she slid behind the wheel of her Citroën C4 Picasso, pressing her back to the seat to heave for breath. She wouldn’t let her mother get to her. Her sisters always managed with their overbearing parent, didn’t they? No reason why she wouldn’t, either. Blast it, why did anger make her come out of her bubble? Her mother had been water on a duck’s back then. And damn Logan Warrington! Because of him, nothing fitted into her locked brain corner anymore.
Focus, she told herself. You have some tough times ahead of you, worse than Mum.
Easing into traffic and heading toward the west of the island, a smile grew on her face as she steered the car along and away from the madness of her life with her mother around.
The roads stretched empty at this time of the morning, and she reached the tourist village a little over forty minutes later. Slowing down as she entered the area, she searched for an indication of the location of the fish landing station. She had no idea where it could be, and toured the whole stretch of the as yet deserted public beach with no success.
She found a police officer and asked him for directions to the fish landing station. Following his explanations, she headed toward the entry of the village and one of the first access routes to the beach. As she started down the path, she understood why she hadn’t seen it, right next to a restaurant. The lane stretched very narrow and rocky, easily mistaken for a residential cul-de-sac.
She ambled the car over a speed-breaking hump and allowed the vehicle to emerge onto an asphalted area. The sea appeared within arm’s reach, boats and fishermen’s dinghies swaying to the rhythm of the gentle wind and waves. In the distance, about two hundred yards from the beach, lay the deep sea, its big waves crashing onto the coral reefs sheltering the lagoon. To the far right, a break of about fifty yards in the corals allowed boats to pass across into the high sea.
Neha spotted a steep incline at the end of the asphalted parking bay, leading to the grassy-area bordering the beach. She stopped her gaze on Logan’s black BMW X5, the one she’d seen in the parking of the cyber tower in the space reserved for their office’s director.
Easing her car until she reached the massive SUV, she cut the engine and stepped out, her sandal-clad feet landing with a muffled thump onto the humid sand.
The overwhelming, iodine-tang of sea salt assaulted her nostrils, along with the heavier, denser smell of dead corals and algae. She sneezed a few times, her eyes blurring with tears. A sharp wind picked up, blowing her loose hair into her face.
As she pulled the strands back and blinked to clear the tears from her eyes, she caught sight of a man swimming toward the shore. The visual rooted her to her spot.
With his arms tense and bulging with muscles, Logan sliced through the water with almost impertinent ease. As he approached the beach, he pulled himself up to a standing position, the seawater running down his hard and fit body like beads of sparkling crystals. They rolled over his broad chest and taut abdomen, losing themselves in his dark swimming trunks, to find a path back to earth over his powerful, thickly muscled thighs and calves.
She gulped back. He had an arresting body, as captivating as his roughly virile face. Every pore of his breathtaking tanned skin oozed sensuality and a promise he burnt with an even hotter fire inside. A fire that could scorch a woman and consume her spirit and soul when he made love to her.
A darker part of his body caught her attention, a complex tattoo covering the upper part of his right arm. Neha exhaled a soft puff of air. The intricate weaving of thick lines etched in what seemed to her to be a tribal design, all the way from his elbow to the dip of his collarbone.
He is tattooed! She ran the tip of her tongue out to moisten her dry lips. Drat, she could picture herself running her hands over the beautiful design, to trace its curves and sinews with the pads of her fingers.
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From Mauritius with love,