A seal upon your heart, p.32
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.32
 

           Pepper Pace

  ~***~

  Martier and Lindewe were eating in the canteen Monday. It was cold and nasty outside and she couldn’t wait until Friday when she and Tim would fly to Hawaii.

  “I hear we’re going to get snow.” Lindewe said.

  “Ugh. I hope its after I’m in Hawaii.”

  “Remember when we were kids and we used to love snow? We’d pull on boots and the sisters let us go out in pajamas for the first snow fall.”

  Martier smiled. “Yes. Sometimes they would come out and play with us.” She had nearly forgotten about that. The nun’s with cheeks as rosy as the children as they made snowballs and tossed them playfully at each other. She had to remember that just as she was a child being raised in a convent, the nuns also experienced everything along with them as the convent was home to many of them as well.

  Lindewe put down her sandwich. Her eyes were bright when she regarded Martier. “You are so lucky; a trip to Hawaii for two weeks with your gorgeous boyfriend. Martier…” She shyly bit her lip. “I want to be just like you!” She bounced in her seat. “I changed my name at personnel. I’m going by the name Linda—everyone calls me that anyways. Also, I want to get my hair done. I want a long weave—with waves like yours. A black lady that I work with has one and she told me where I can get my hair done.”

  A wave of expressions moved across Martier’s face. “Okay.”

  “It’s going to cost me two hundred dollars.” She leaned forward. “Do you think you can loan it to me?”

  “Of course.”

  “I want to change my style. I don’t like looking like I’m a kid straight out of a convent. I want to dress like you and the other assistants.”

  Martier sipped her iced tea. “You’ll have to work to get out of the secretarial pool. I know you can do it, sis. You’re fast, smart and if its what you want then its what you’ll get. I’ll bring you over to my house tonight and we’ll go through some clothes that might fit you. You’re not as tall as I am and some clothes that I got from Tim’s wife will fit you much better than they ever fit me.”

  “Really?” Linda asked with excitement.

  Martier smiled but it was troubled. “Yes of course.” The younger girl squealed and hugged her.

  “I love you!”

  Martier smiled. “I love you, too, Lindew—Linda.”

  ~***~

  Martier called Dhakiya that night after Linda had left her place. The girl had opted to take a cab so that she could get her hair done later that evening. She stated that she would not go back to work one more day looking like an ‘African’.

  “Dhakiya! I think I’m messing this up!”

  “Sis, what are you talking about?”

  “I suck at being a mentor.”

  Dhakiya chuckled. “Already? You’ve only been doing it a week. Give it some time. What’s the problem?”

  She explained about Linda’s change of name and the weave and wanting to change her style of dress.

  “Uh…didn’t you do all of that when you first started working there?”

  Martier chewed her lip. “But…I don’t know…” It felt as if Linda was losing herself in trying to fit in and maybe that is what had happened to her as well. Had she lost herself? And it wasn’t just that. Everything was just so confusing right now. It seemed that so much of the joy had left her and she wasn’t sure how to get it back. And now there was this thing hanging over her head with her missed period and the way that Tim was reacting to it.

  “What’s really going on? Changing her name back to Linda was just good taste and who wants to dress in clothes from the church’s donation bin? So what’s really on your mind sis?”

  “Well she said she wants to be like me!” Martier blurted out.

  “And what’s wrong with that?”

  “I…”

  “Sis?”

  “I didn’t get my period.” There was quiet on the other end of the line.

  “Martier…” Dhakiya finally whispered.

  “I know sis. This is bad.”

  “Oh my god. Martier this is not where your life is supposed to be going! Honey, you are basically waiting for this man to ‘get it’. But he’s not going to ever do that because he is content just the way things are.”

  “I know, Dhakiya.”

  “Shit! Shit, Martier. What does Tim think?”

  “We haven’t talked about it. But I know he doesn’t like it. I mean, he keeps asking me if I got my period and I want to snap at him that this is not my fault.”

  “Martier you’re going to have to discuss this with him; and not just your missed period but the future, your wants and needs. Because honestly, he is being selfish. I’m sorry but I feel that he is not considering your best interest, and is only fulfilling his own desires.”

  “But I love Tim so much.” Tears sprouted in her eyes. “I don’t have any other choice but to love him in this way. I mean, it’s too late for me to step back. It’s easy for someone that is on the outside to think that I should do ‘this, this and that’. But I’m living it and I can promise you that its not that easy. I can’t make him say, ‘I want to get married.’ If I make him say it, or…or…” She was sobbing by this time. “Or if I force his hand, then I’ll always wonder if it was for the wrong reason.”

  “Sweetheart, all I’m saying is that as much as you might not want to hear this—maybe the sisters were right. Maybe the world is filled with similar situations; a girl opening up for a man because she has claimed that man for her own before he has ever done the same. Every single mother out there has probably had the same thought, Martier—that they will live happily ever after with the man that is filling her belly with his seed. I appreciate the fact that you love Tim. He loves you too, I see it in his eyes. But you’re waiting for more and he doesn’t need more.

  “Martier, I’m not trying to make you cry,” She said when all she heard were quiet sobs on the other end of the line. “But you have to tell him to set you as a seal upon his heart! You deserve that, sis! You deserve him to make it known that he is in love with you to everyone—including God.”

  Martier swallowed back her tears. “Yes.”

  “Nda gukunda.” Dhakiya said.

  “I love you.”

  Martier wiped her face after they had hung up and then she got her bible. She stared at the cover and then kissed it before opening it, eyes quickly scanning the passage at Song of Solomon 8:6.

  Set me as a seal upon your heart,

  As a seal upon your arm;

  For love is as strong as death,

  Jealousy as cruel as the grave;

  Its flames are flames of fire,

  A most vehement flame.

  Many waters cannot quench love,

  Nor can the floods drown it.

  If a man would give for love

  All the wealth of his house,

  It would be utterly despised.

  Martier sighed and closed the bible. She wanted to occupy a place in Tim’s heart that no one else occupied—not even Corrine. She wanted his love, not his wealth and she wanted him to proudly claim it to the world.

  Was it wrong that she wanted that guarantee of love that was above all others? Is that something a woman asked for?

  Chapter 38

  The next morning, Linda showed up at Martier’s desk as she was preparing the morning coffee. Martier hoped that she hid the look of surprise that popped up on her face.

  Linda was smiling proudly and bouncing up and down on her feet. Long, silky strands of black hair hung down her back. As Linda was obviously not Asian, the silky black hair was at odds with her dark skin and heritage.

  She was wearing cheap lipstick that she had probably purchased from the dollar store because it just left a matted orange film across her lips. She wore one of Corinne’s outfits; a wispy dress that should NOT be worn in the dead of winter. Worst of all is that her feet were adorned in plastic, faux leather go-go boots.

  I am the most horrible mentor ever, Martier thought as she consi
dered what Claudette would do right now. She’d been so wrapped up in her own problems that she had failed to take this girl by hand and show her how to fit in instead of heaping items and expectations on her.

  Martier placed her hands on her hips and gave Linda a severe look. “First, your hair is too long. We’re going to fix that make-up so that your pretty face is the focus instead of orange lips.” She smiled when Linda chewed her lip with a look of doubt on her face. “And then you’ll be…perfect.”

  Linda smiled in relief. Martier said a silent prayer for forgiveness for telling the small white lie. Then she pulled out her earth tone make-up and set about fixing the damage to Linda’s pretty face. She found a clip and pinned up the weaved-on hair until it wasn’t so obvious, allowing a few strands to fall about the girl’s shoulders. After work, she vowed to take Linda shopping for shoes, underwear and her own make-up. Wow, being a mentor was becoming expensive. But Martier didn’t truly mind.

  When she finally got home that night she was surprised to see the light on in Tim’s house. He’d been working at the office until nearly 10 pm every night for nearly a week. She parked his Cadillac into the garage and then eyed the truck before entering the house.

  “Tim?”

  “In here Martier.”

  She headed for his office where he gave her a tired look.

  “This is insane honey. You need to delegate or leave some of this work until the new year.”

  He gave her a kiss, his eyes hooded, but his lips still bore a slight smile. “Some things I can’t leave. A man wants a court date before Christmas so that he can spend the Holidays with his family. And then there’s that adoption that needs to be finalized and I want Miss Reid to get that child support that she deserves. These are all Christmas presents that I want to give to my clients.”

  She hugged him and sighed. “When we get to Hawaii will you promise to leave behind all of your work?”

  “Well…”

  “Tim, please.”

  He smiled. “I promise. I’ll leave a message that I will not be available until after the first of the year. How’s that?”

  “Perfect.”

  They kissed and he pulled back slightly to look into her dark yes. “No period yet?”

  Her pretty lips drew down. “No.”

  “Do you think you’re pregnant?” His voice was quiet but she didn’t get a sense of what he was thinking.

  “And…what if I am?”

  “Well, honey, when you’re a responsible adult you take care of situations like this and you deal with them. So…if that is the case then, we’ll deal with it.”

  She blinked not very happy with that response. Deal with it? She quickly changed the subject so that she wouldn’t just blurt out everything that was nagging her. “Have you eaten?”

  “I had a bowl of soup at the office and I’m not very hungry. I’m more tired. I’ll finish these last few things up and then turn in. I have a court date at 10 and another at 2 so just take the Cadillac and I’ll drive the truck in.” She nodded.

  “Do you know what I want, honey?” Her arms went around his body and she rested her chin lightly on his chest as she looked up into his face. “I want to hop into the shower with you, wash your back and then climb into bed and sleep in your arms.”

  “Mmmm, that sounds wonderful. Let me grab a change of clothes and we can do that.”

  “No, you don’t have to do that. We can shower here and I’ll stay the night.”

  He gave her a confused look. “But you don’t have any clothes over here. And all of your bath items are at your place.”

  She shrugged nonchalantly. “Soap is soap…and uh, I plan to be sleeping in the nude.”

  He paused and then with a frown shook his head. “No, it will be easier for me to just take a change of clothes and meet you at your place.”

  She watched as he headed out of the room. “Tim. Do you realize that we’ve made love in the cottage, in the swimming pool, on the lawn furniture, in the garage, but we’ve never made love in this house.”

  “What?” he looked at her in confusion.

  She crossed her arms before her, a frown plain on her face. “I’ve never slept here in YOUR bed. You sleep in mine but I’ve never slept in yours.”

  Tim scratched his head and his expression quickly changed. “Oh honey, we can sleep here if you like. I wasn’t…I didn’t…I’m sorry. Let’s just sleep here.”

  She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I knew you’d say that. It wasn’t your idea but mine, so now it doesn’t mean the same.”

  He approached her and pulled her into his arms. “It’s a good idea. I guess that I’m just a control freak. If it doesn’t come from me then I tend to reject it until I restate it in my own words.” He tried to joke but she wouldn’t hug him and her expression remained unyielding.

  “Tim…are—have you moved on from Corinne?”

  “What do you mean?”

  Have you set me as a seal upon your heart? She couldn’t ask those words. If she had to ask.

  “Martier, I promise that I don’t have a problem with you sleeping here. I mean, we can move your things in here…I just thought you really loved the cottage. You’ve turned it into your own with the African paintings and…”

  Martier just stared at him in stunned disbelief. Did he really just ask her to move in with him all mixed in with other statements? Not as if co-habitating wasn’t the biggest step of ones life?! “You want me to live with you in this house?”

  He seemed at a loss for words as he watched the hurt and angry expression cross her face. “If you wanted to…”

  “Tim! I’m really just trying to figure out what it is that you want. Not what you think I want but what you want.”

  His eyes grew large. “What are we talking about, Martier? I just wanted to shower and hold you in my arms while we slept…” She was angry and he didn’t know what he’d done wrong. “Martier, I love you. You know that, right?”

  She sighed and nodded. “I know that, Tim.”

  “Look, if I’m being too pushy or bossy then let me know. I’m used to things a certain way…so, if you want something a certain way then let me know.” He rubbed her shoulders and she stared up into his face. After a moment she nodded and the tension left her body.

  “Yes. I will. I’m sorry.” She hugged him and he held her in his arms.

  “Nothing for you to be sorry for. What do you want to do?”

  “Let’s just go back to my place.”

  He kissed her forehead. “Okay, let me get a change of clothes and we’ll drive there.”

  Later that night she lay in his arms wide awake as he snored softly. I’m a crazy woman, she thought. What am I doing?

  ~***~

  Linda stopped at Martier’s desk the next morning and did a quick model pose while Martier laughed and then clapped in approval.

  “Beautiful!” She exclaimed. The younger woman had cut her weave down to a more reasonable length and then curled it so that the texture wasn’t quite so obviously fake. She wore tweed slacks and a light blue sweater along with black leather ankle boots. Her makeup was very subtle but striking.

  “Thank you, Sis.” Linda exclaimed. “Your suggestions really made a big difference. And I promise to begin paying you back as soon as I get my first check.”

  Martier didn’t care about the money but knew that paying her back would instill a sense of responsibility and so she just told her to take her time with the repayment. Since Tim wouldn’t be in the office she asked Linda if she would like to go out for lunch and the younger woman readily agreed.

  Martier ran into Aaron Rangbo on her way to the credit union for some extra cash. She rarely saw him these days as he stayed cooped up in his office for the most part. So she was shocked to see that he appeared to have aged ten years—and he really couldn’t afford to do that since he already appeared older than Martier could imagine. His silver hair was too long and his face was pulled into an unhappy scowl.

 
“Hello Aaron.” She said politely.

  “Oh, hello Martier,” he responded distractedly. “How are you these days?”

  “I’m fine. How are you Aaron?”

  “Uh…I’m good.” He looked down at his feet, knowing that the lie was completely unbelievable. Anyone could look at him and see that he was doing badly. He moved down the corridor without further comment and when Martier returned to her desk she decided to call Claudette to see how she was doing. They’d exchanged letters but she had yet to call.

  “Hi Sugar!” The older woman said happily. Martier couldn’t help the happy grin that crossed her lips.

 
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