CHAPTER 9

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LEONARD'S POV

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Mahatma Gandhi

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   The sound of sobbing in my left ear distracted me. I was trying to get some work done concerning the launch. The date was drawing closer and I was becoming very anxious. 

I had decided on my way to this party I had no interest in that I would try and get some work done. I was almost done examining all the shoots for imperfections. They looked great in my opinion, in two weeks time, it would be up to the world to decide. 

I had come to the lanai leading to the pool hoping no one, especially Naira, would find me. Unfortunately, some one else decided it was a good spot to cry. 

I sat upright and focused my attention at the haunches figure bawling the eyes out, letting out silent sobs her and there. 

She wore a short dress whose colour I couldn’t make out in the dim lights of the lanai. Her hair was tied in a scuffle bun. There was something familiar about her glowing dark skin. 

Then it hit me, it was singing barbie, I mean Denori, Levi’s other best friend from childhood who just happened to start school in Marie-mount university. 

I tread slowly to where she stood. My hands unwillingly stretched to stroke her bare arms. She shrieked, jumped and kicked me in she abdomen just above my manhood. 

“Aaargh,” I scrambled to the terrazzo floor in excruciating pain. 

“Who are you and what do you want?” she asked, alarmed. 

“God, did you have to do that!” I asked, trying to get back on my feet. 

Regret floated around her pretty face when she finally recognized who I was. She helped me get up and smiled, obviously embarrassed. 

“I am sorry,” she said when I was finally able to stand. “maybe next time you shouldn’t sneak up on people like that.” 

“Yeah, this would be my last. I should be the one apologising, I gave you the fright of a life time.” 

“it is okay,” she smiled half heartedly and sits in one of the six chaise lounges. 

“Not to be inquisitive,” I begin when I resume my seat. “ why were you crying.” 

“I, um,” she starts but trailed off, every inch of her soothing voice laced with embarrassment. “it is nothing important. 

I looked straight into her brown eyes, raising my brows quizzically to show my satisfaction. 

“Well, it is just, this is my first ‘real’ party I have attended.” The tried again. 

I spontaneously started wondering what she means by ‘real' party. I didn’t know we had any fake parties. 

“In short, I expected more than the deafening music, awkward smiles and the enigmatic foolishness. It is a bit overwhelming.” 

“So you are allergic to happiness.” 

“I guess so, if you consider the fake smiles and forced behaviours happiness.” 

I, once again, raise my thin brows excited. “finally, a real life dementeur!” I shriek under my breath to avoid her from hearing, but she did. 

She turned her eagle like eyes at me and bore transfixed in my face. 

“You are a Harrish!” She shrieked happily and I stared totally confunded. 

“A what?” 

“A Harrish?” she hesitated, a baffled look ever present on her face. “A sucker for Harry Potter!!” 

I instantly burst into a fit of llaughter.I rolled uncontrollably in my chair, clutching my stomach in a desperate attempt to minimize the pain. My lungs constricted making it difficult to breath. 

I unwillingly calm my nerves as my situation was getting critical. My epileptic fit of laughter was brought to a raging end. I cleared my face of the drops of tears that had strolled out of my eyes. 

Once I was rid of the tears obscuring my vision, I had the chance to look at the magnificent beauty that just gave me the laugh of my life. 

A tumultuous wave of guilt instantly washed over me when I get a glimpse of her quivering bright lips. Her dreamy were watery and ready to overflow with the tears building up from behind. 

Her cheeks looked flushed and the naturally trimmed set of brows she owned were furrowed together in anger and repulsion. 

“Oh I am sorry,” I exclaimed hurriedly. "I think just saying A harry Potter fan would do!"

“I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.” 

She remained mute and looked down at her intertwined fingers. I grab and caress them gently. 

“ It hope you forgive me.” I lean close to her. Close enough to feel her hot breath against my cheek. A painfully familiar waft of freshly plucked lavender and lilac fill my nostrils. 

A loud tweeting from the inside of my Jean pocket brought me back out of my dirty thoughts. I involuntarily let go of her hands and check my phone. 

“I guess you are stuck with me now.” I said. 

She Bobbed her and opened her mouth to speak, all thoughts of crying completely lost. “what do you mean?” 

“Levi just asked for me to take you home.” I explained. “ when you are ready though.” 

“I would like to leave now. I am sick of the party life already.” 

“I am glad you are!” I replied on our way out. 

As we got nearer to the door, Denori suddenly turned stiff at the sight of none other than her abuser and my forcefully made fiancée. We both turn to look at each other in horror. 

We ducked behind a long pot by the door with a baby mastic tree sprouting out. Right after, she came in staggering to the pool side. She sat at the edge and allowed her legs to play in it. 

We found the perfect moment and darted for the door. We walked briskly to my car without a word. 

“Why were you hiding from her?” Denori asked once we were safely cruising on the way back to Levi’s apartment. 

“Why were you hiding from her?” I asked her too. 

“She freaks me out.” She answered simply. “now you. Isn’t she like your girlfriend.” 

“It’s very complex.” 

“Maybe you should break up with her.” She adds. “it is very simple. Plus you wouldn’t have to act like you were doing something illegal all the time.” 

I laugh and return my focus to the road. 

‘You could just break up with her.’ Her words rang through my head over and over again. 

She has no idea, no one know how it is like to have a monster as your father. He would lock me up and starve me to death if it guarantees that I and Naira will get married and he gets what he has always wanted, the money. 

“You wouldn’t understand.” I said irritated.  

“I am sorry.” 

An unwelcomed silence thickened the environment, suffocating my senses and thought. To be honest I was glad, I didn’t want to be reminded of how hopeless my life wwas. 

It stayed that until we got to Levi’s. All initially plans to get to know her was thrown out of my mind as I stared at her walking away. 

I smacked my head against the steering wheel and start the car. Steering my way to the hotel suite, worrisome thoughts and ideas popped into my head without permission. With my head in reverse, I drove like a mad man and almost knocked of public bins. 

The road leading to the hotel would have been empty except for two SUVs that were parked on both sides. 

I made to turn and right on cue, two other SUVs stopped behind me. I sighed in disbelief, slumped my shoulders and enjoyed the air. At least it was free. 

My door swung open and a very familiar countenance beamed at me. His eyes betraying the pity he felt for me. 

“ Mr. Leonard, your father has asked for us to return you home.” 

I walked out into the open air knowing what would happen of I disobeyed. My father was a very persistent man, he will do anything in his power to make you submit to him. 

I entered the old SUV and stared blankly at the shimmering hotel ahead. 

The wind carried my father’s words back to me, “you will be back in two days.” 

That was a promise, and no matter how diabolic he is, he never breaks a vow. 

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