A seal upon your heart, p.39
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.39

           Pepper Pace
 

  “Martier I understand that.”

  “I would have left, I’m not saying that…but I didn’t have to leave the way that I did.”

  “Yes you did, sweetheart. You had to save yourself.”

  She frowned at his choice of words. “I…” Why was this so hard?? “I still love you very much. I think that I appreciate the man that you are even more than I ever had before, since being in Kigali and being a witness to so much hate. Do you think that you and I can continue where we left off?”

  He didn’t speak but after a moment he kissed her forehead. “You should get some rest. This is too big to talk about like this. I’ll call you this evening, okay?”

  He moved to the door and she grabbed his hand. To hell with caution! “Will you stay with me tonight? I mean, we don’t have to do anything. I just…I just want to fall asleep in your arms.”

  He very nearly agreed. Almost… “No. I can’t do that.” He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. “I love you too. Too much to do that.” He left with her puzzling over his words.

  ~***~

  Martier slept deeply despite not having Tim’s arms to snuggle into. She slept through the ringing of her telephone; missing calls from Dhakiya, and Sister Louise. Her bed was a safety zone that allowed her a healing sleep. When she awoke it was nearly four pm. She ran a hot bath and soaked while listening to the radio; top 40 songs from The Dave Matthews Band and Maxwell.

  She dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and checked her messages and saw the recent ones from Dhakiya and Sister Louise. She called Dhakiya first inhaling a deep breath.

  “Martier?”

  “Hi Dhakiya.”

  “Oh Martier! I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I did that! I had no right-”

  “Dhakiya, I’m so far away from that. I don’t care about that anymore. I missed you and I’m the one that’s sorry. All of this time you were preserving my culture for me. All of this time you were my mentor. And what did I do but take without giving.”

  “Martier, what are you talking about? Without your friendship I would have died at Bartholoma! Because of you I remembered home.”

  “I never shared my memories with you—you of all people, I kept that from you.”

  “Not out of selfishness—but because it was so big that it could have consumed you. You had to deal with it all at once—I adjusted to it after many years. And even now…” She got quiet. “Did you find answers in Rwanda?”

  “Yes. So much to tell you but first I have to tie up loose ends.”

  If Dhakiya was curious about what that meant she didn’t ask. “Will you call me later, sis?”

  “Yes but it may be a few days. But don’t think I forgot about you, okay?”

  “Okay.”

  “Turongera.”

  “Turongera, little sister. I love you.”

  “I love you too, sis.”

  She sat there quietly for a moment before calling Sister Louise.

  “Lindewe said that you had returned. Are you okay, child?”

  “Yes I am. I’d like to come and see you tomorrow if I can?”

  “Of course you can.”

  “I wanted to tell you about Rwanda, but I also think I have a plan for my future, Sister.”

  “That’s good, Martier. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.” They set up a time and then Martier contemplated calling Tim. But decided to wait. She didn’t want to disturb him at the office again. She made coffee and was in the middle of cleaning out the refrigerator when she heard her doorbell ring.

  She quickly turned down the radio and then checked to see who was there. It was Tim and she opened the door with a smile.

  “Hi,” He was carrying a brown paper sack and she had no idea what was inside but the contents smelled delicious. “I thought you might be hungry.”

  “I’m starving. What is that?”

  “Carryout from Shanghai Mama’s; sesame wings and spicy noodles and of course that salad you like with the ginger dressing.”

  She beamed and carried everything into the kitchen where she set it out for them to enjoy.”

  “How was work?” She asked after she had made a dent in her hunger pangs.

  “I didn’t go to work.”

  “You didn’t?”

  “I took a day.” He had spent it thinking about Martier and the question that she had asked; whether or not they could go back to the way they were. He thought that he had an answer to that after all of these hours.

  She lowered a half eaten chicken drummette, her appetite disappearing. “I’m sorry for the way that I came at you this morning. It was unfair of me to expect you to just…forget about everything. We have a lot to talk about don’t we?”

  He twirled his fork in his noodles. He had eaten very little. His stomach was tied in knots. “What did you learn while you were in Rwanda?”

  “That is a story that we better take to the living room with a glass of wine.” He smiled and helped her put away the leftovers. There was beer and wine in the refrigerator and he grabbed a bottle of beer while she opened a bottle of wine.

  He sat down on the couch and waited for her while she turned off the radio and selected a CD to put in. He was pleased to hear the mellow sounds of the African music that she used to relax to prior to regaining her memories. He watched the way she turned on lights and then turned on the gas fireplace before taking a seat next to him. She moved so gracefully and so self-assured. She has grown…then it was right that she had left.

  He didn’t miss the fact that she didn’t sit close enough to touch but decided that it was best; they had a lot to talk about. She began by explaining about the missionaries and how she was able to join them in mid-route as they headed to Kigali. She described the visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and how she was encouraged to give her testimony.

  He could see a light coming on in her eyes when she recounted her testimony and then how she had separated from the other missionaries in order to accept an offer to work at the Centre--at first transcribing testimonies and then eventually going door to door interviewing people.

  “I hadn’t gone back to my neighborhood. I was afraid I guess, but a few days ago I did go back.” She described meeting the Mbozi’s and how they had allowed her to tour their house and land. She even described running through the field like she was six again. Tim smiled, picturing everything that she described as if he was there.

  But then she recounted how she had returned on her own. He became tense at the idea of her doing that and then when she described how the man; Kokayo had approached her, he became angry and protective even though he knew that she had obviously gotten through it as she was sitting with him now. Still, it angered him that any man would approach her and cause her to become afraid and to cry.

  But then with a sense of awe he listened to what the boy had done by returning to help her. He’d become a traitor to his cause—being fully aware that it could have cost him his life.

  “How do you feel about that?”

  She shook her head. “I’m not sure. For now I just have to accept that my life was spared.” She looked at him closely. “And what of you, Tim? Have you reconsidered how you feel about…things?”

  He gave her a serious look. “There have been some changes in my life. Dhakiya and I have become friends. I’m even friendly with Sister Louise. I’ve been looking after Lindewe at the office and I’ve been taking care of myself. That’s where selling the house comes into play. I decided that I was hanging on to things that if I looked at hard enough I really didn’t want.

  “I realized something else. I hang on to things. I do not let go. Not just things…but people. I make people into what I want them to be. I wanted you to fit in and to dress a certain way. It was so that you could be comfortable. But really, I just made that assumption. You weren’t comfortable with any of it.” He realized that Martier had accepted a lot just because she thought it would please him. “Now…I could care less about any of that.” He sighed. “I’ve decided that you and
I are very different people.”

  Martier’s heart crashed.

  He met her eyes again. “I will never be all that you need. I don’t know the bible inside and out. I curse before I think and I get mad when something threatens me or the ones I love.”

  “But I don’t-”

  He raised his hand. “Let me finish. I am all of those things. But I’m also fiercely loyal. I’ll never purposely hurt anyone I care about. And I always strive to do the right thing—even if I fail at it miserably. We are very different people but I’d like to learn you, Martier. I want to learn about you, your religion, your dreams, your hopes for the future, your regrets of the past. I want to be someone that you can come to when you need a friend.”

  Martier gave him a hopeful look.

  “I don’t have to be your boyfriend, or your husband…I can be your friend. Whatever you need.”

  Martier wrung her fingers and then thought very carefully before speaking. “That is what you want for me. But what do you want for yourself?”

  The question surprised him. But this was the moment of truth. This was time to lay his cards on the table…

  “I want to be your friend, your husband and then your lover. I want…”

  She nodded encouraging him to continue. The hopeful look that crossed her face gave him courage.

  “I want to wake up every morning and see you next to me. I want to know that when you wake up you are where you want to be with no regrets. I want you to talk to me when you’re unsure. I don’t want to be afraid that I’m disappointing you. I want for us to be the best that we can be and to remember that love is a privilege that isn’t guaranteed. Every moment should be cherished as if it’s the last. I’ve lost two loves of my life; first Corinne and then you. I don’t want to go through that again. I don’t want to lose you again.”

  Martier took Tim’s hand. “That is everything that I could have want a man to say to me, without me asking, without my prodding…just from your own heart. You said more than I could have ever hoped.”

  He held her hand, stroking her knuckles with his thumb. After a moment she closed the space between them and placed her head on his shoulder.

  He closed his eyes and kissed her head and then put his arm around her and held her as they sat on the couch quietly enjoying each other’s company.

  “This is probably backwards but Martier, it would be my honor if you would be my wife. I promise I’ll-”

  “Yes.” She said softly.

  He chuckled. “Are you sure you want to say yes before you hear all of the promises that I was going to make?”

  “All I need is you, Tim.” She turned to him with a soft smile upon her lips. “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.”

  His eyes were wide. “Wow, is that from the bible?”

  “Yes,” She smiled. “Song of Solomon. A poem about longing and sex and love.”

  “In the bible?” They snuggled again as she nodded her head. Maybe he would read the bible. Just to see what else might be in there.

  ~***~

  Neither said anything when Tim left for his apartment just a few minutes before midnight. There was no lovemaking, not even any making-out, but Tim found that he didn’t need that. He was content just having Martier back in his arms. He wouldn’t risk that for sexual gratification. That would come in time.

  Martier again had a peaceful, contented sleep and the next morning she called the African cab driver from long ago to take her to the convent to visit Sister Louise. He exclaimed that he hadn’t seen her in ages and they chatted about things that weren’t important. He charged her fifteen dollars and she gave him thirty and when he protested she gave his shoulder a fond pat.

  “We help each other. There might be a time when I can only afford fifteen dollars…but this is not that time.”

  Sister Louise met her at the door and the two went to the kitchen for breakfast. The little ones were in class and everything was relatively quiet.

  “How was your visit to your homeland? Did it give you enlightenment?”

  “Yes sister, it did. I learned a lot about my family, about genocide and finally about myself. I know that it was your hope that I might become a nun-”

  “Only because I know you to be a compassionate person. But…that’s not going to happen is it?”

  “No, sister. Being a nun isn’t for me. I want to marry and have children.”

  “So you and Mr. Singleton have gotten back together?”

  Martier smiled. “He asked me to marry him and I said yes.”

  “Then I’m happy for you, Martier.”

  “Thank you. I wanted to tell you about my plans for the future.”

  “Oh?” Sister Louise gave her a confused look. “It’s not just to be a wife and mother?”

  “Well In addition to that I decided that I want to help young women transition into society.” The idea came while mentoring Lindewe, and of course her own memories of trying to fit in. “I would like to start an organization where we can help girls gain employment, housing, even education if that is lacking. I want to teach girls how to continue to walk with God while they navigate through society and to not get caught up in some of the traps that can be so tempting.”

  “But how would you do this?”

  “Well…with your help. If you would trust me once more I would like to work with some of the older girls from Bartholoma-–those that would be interested. Initially we could just start with outings so that leaving the convent won’t be such a scary experience.”

  Sister Louise gave her an unsure look and Martier quickly continued.

  “I know that not all of the girls are afraid. “Some are eager to turn 18 just so that they can go out into the world as if seeking an adventure. They have no real concept of what it is out here. They think they do but they don’t. I would be there as a buffer.”

  Sister Louise nodded slowly. “And lets say that you did this. How would you get the funding?”

  “I know several people that are looking for a cause; whether it’s for the right reason or the wrong ultimately doesn’t matter. The funding is there. I’m sure that Tim will help with any legal aspects of it. I will do the leg work—if you will trust me with your girls.”

  Sister Louise smiled. Her girls. “Martier. I do trust you. If you will allow me a say in the decision making process then I will agree to give it a test run.”

  The two shook hands and then they hugged. Afterwards they talked some, cried some about Rwanda but mostly they just enjoyed the others company.

  Chapter 46

  Tim looked out the back window of his kitchen. The sounds of young girls laughing put a smile on his face but he still felt like that creepy guy that should be doing something other than watching girls frolicking around the pool. Well there was only one girl that he had eyes for and that was his own.

  Martier.

  She wore a modest, black one-piece swimsuit but she could have been wearing a garter belt and high heels for the way she affected him. It had been so many months since they’d touch that his desire for her was now just comical or perhaps pathetic.

  Reluctantly he pulled himself away from the window and contemplated finding some way to entertain himself…some way that didn’t include touching his penis. Yes, there were many perks to his upcoming marriage to Martier but a huge one was the honeymoon. There would be no sex until then—nothing close to sex.

  Unfortunately his mind sent constant reminders of a time when he would kiss swollen nipples and plunge himself into a tight, hot canal over and over until his woman’s moans intensified and....FUCK! Stop it Tim!

  He opened the refrigerator and in an attempt to sway his thoughts, he contemplated the contents. There were several packs of hotdogs and pounds
of ground beef for the burgers and dogs that he would grill later. Until then he would leave them to their fun. He grabbed a bottle of ice tea and headed back to his home office.

  His long time home was familiar and yet not. It was the same house but different. He and Martier had taken the house off the market. He had actually listened when she said that if they were going to hunt for the perfect home then it would be this one. She explained that the cottage could be used for her mentoring program. She also exclaimed that she wasn’t leaving that beautiful garden to some other woman to take advantage of after all the man-hours she had put into it!

  He had laughed and kissed her and told her that they could make the house into whatever they needed it to be; together as a couple. Starting with a clean slate she decorated the once modern traditional home in a stylish contemporary way. There were wonderful splashes of colors and African artwork. He loved the way that her eclectic style brought the house to life. They removed the carpet and put down hardwood floors and then created a second home office where she would handle her charity work.

 
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