Lætitia’s Friend

Hello dear readers,

Sorry but Daphne’s sequel is gonna take a little longer. I’ve received several messages from eager followers. Please forgive me. Life being what it is and since I’m not a professional writer, I’ve been taken away from writing for several months and right now I’m still working on the ending. It will come out I promise.

Here’s to pass time a love story between a mature woman and a younger one. For people who are unfamiliar with the name Lætitia (pronounced [le.ti.sja]), it means ‘joy’ in Latin.

I hope you’ll enjoy this love story as much as I enjoyed writing it. As always your feedback/comments are welcome.

xo

********************

My cell rang on my bedside table. I turned between the sheets and reached out to snooze it. I have never been a morning person. I laid down for a good fifteen minutes and decided I was good enough to stand up. I extracted myself from the bed and headed to the bathroom. I relieved myself and took a quick shower.

As I dried my body, I looked at myself in the mirror. The good night sleep did me good. I got a fresh tone, my skin shining under the blue light. My distant mixed heritage graced me with dark caramel skin complexion, naturally auburn, long, loose curls – a rarity among black people, dark brown eyes and I had a few freckles on my nose, cheeks, neck and cleavage. I also had deep dimples on my cheeks that everybody found cute but I only learned to appreciate them these past few years. I always thought they made me look like a little girl. I only had a few extra pounds and wasn’t looking too bad for a forty year old. Mother Nature was kind with me. I barely had any white hair in my mane. I didn’t have any wrinkles, my body was tone from regular exercise, and I had a generous 36D to complete the picture. The only things I really didn’t like about myself were the stretch marks on my belly and thighs. I looked good to be honest. I guess ‘black don’t crack’ was true after all.

I went to the kitchen and prepared myself a cup of coffee. I took a look at my watch and realized the time it was. I headed to the staircase.

“Come on, Lætitia! You’re gonna be late!” I called out.

“I’m coming!”

Usually I was already at work but since a meeting held me back a couple of hours the previous day, I took this morning the relaxed way. My daughter rushed down the stairs and grabbed her bag.

“Hey! You haven’t even had your breakfast yet!”

“That’s ok! I’ll buy something on my way,” she said kissing me and rushed to the door.

“Wait!”

I reached for a twenty dollar bill in my purse and handed it to her.

“Oh, Mum! I love you. You’re the best!” she took the bill and kissed me.

“I know, don’t tell anyone,” I joked kissing her temple. “Go on, now, or you’re really gonna be late.”

That bubbly girl was my daughter. A fine young woman. She looked so much like her father. Not only physically, she got his dark skin, nose and smile, but her personality too. She was kind and generous but when she got mad – which was rare, she was like a storm, a tornado downing on you. Sometimes she’d have a facial expression or say something that would remind me of Alphonso and would make me miss him badly. I was raising her by myself since he passed away from leukemia. Alphonso was my high school sweetheart, the most handsome black man in the neighborhood. He was my King. After his passing, I never searched for a new man. I didn’t feel the need. I actually hadn’t dated anyone since and I was ok like that. My focus was on my daughter and making her life as easy as possible.

I generally worked from 6:30am to 3pm which gave me extra time with my daughter after school. Yes, she was capable of taking care of herself but I wanted to be there for her. We were close when there were three of us but since it’s only the two of us, we’re even closer. We’d even text each other multiple times during the day. I was a manager in a consulting company specialized in finance. I got the job two years ago when we moved here. The people there were fun to work with except for a couple of weirdos as usual but, overall, I liked it there.

Lætitia adapted well to the transition. I was worried about her, especially the few months following her father’s disappearance and the move. It created a huge whole in our lives but I was so proud of her. She was able to overcome the situation. She made new friends and participated in various activities. She was such an easy going kid. I was lucky to have her as a daughter. A new scholar year had started and she was good in her senior year. It was promising. I was already looking out for colleges. Alphonso had made sure she could at least get a master’s degree without too much financial trouble. He was sure she would have a great career.

“I’m home, honey!” I yelled as I passed the main door threshold.

“I’m in the kitchen!” I heard her answer from afar.

I left all my stuff in the lobby and put my car keys on the lobby table as I walked to the kitchen.

“Hey, honey. How are you?” I asked as I tenderly kissed her forehead.

“Not bad. How was your day?”

“Ok, overall. I bursa escort bayan may get a bonus,” I added proudly.

“That’s so cool! I’m sure you deserve it,” she stood up and hugged me enthusiastically.

“Thanks, hon.”

That’s when I noticed the extra books on the kitchen table.

“You have company?”

“Yes. I invited a friend over to study. She has some difficulty in algebra so I offered my help. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Of course not. Is she gonna stay for dinner? I could order pizza?”

“That’d be great!” she yelped hugging me and kissing my cheek.

At this moment, a cute blonde entered the kitchen.

“You must be Lætitia’s friend. I’m her mother, Sophia Harris.” I approached her with an extended hand. As she looked at me without reacting, at first, I added a “hello” that seemed to draw her out of her reverie.

“Yes, hello. I’m… Anika… Anika Anderson,” she shyly took my hand in hers and smiled.

Anika was shorter than me. I was 5’5″ and she was maybe 5’2″ with a thin frame. She had long blond hair, as blond as the sun, cascading over her shoulders. She had blue eyes, a cute button nose and freckles on it and on her redden cheeks. Her lips were almost as pink as a strawberry. I remember thinking no one I knew was whiter than her. She was dressed in a white blouse and a dark pencil skirt, much like a uniform. I would learn later on it was her job’s mandatory dress code. All I could think about was that she looked like an angel and I immediately felt an unexplainable need to protect her.

“Pleased to meet you, Anika. Know that you’re welcome here anytime.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Harris,” she answered with a shy smile.

“Ok girls, I really need to take a shower so I’ll leave you to your homework.”

I eclipsed myself into my bedroom and attended my business. I soon removed my working girl business outfit and dipped myself in the warm water of my bubble bath to relax a bit. Around 6pm, I got hungry and decided it was time to order the pizza. I put on large sweat pants and a tank top, my favorite outfit to stay in, and joined the girls in the kitchen. They were both immersed in an algebra problem that looked mysterious to me.

“How are you girls faring?” I interrupted them.

Lætitia smiled and Anika giggled.

“Nobody talks like that anymore, Mrs. Harris.”

“I do,” I declared with a mock arrogance that made them laugh, “and please, call me Sophia.” I added, patting Anika’s shoulder.

“Ok… Sophia,” she smiled, an enigmatic air on her face.

“Girls, what pizza do you want?” I asked as I picked up my cell phone.

“Hawaiian!” They answered as one.

“Ok. I’ll order Hawaiian and Queen then.”

“What’s queen pizza, Mrs. Harris? Hum… Sophia…”

I winked at her, which made her blush. “It’s ham, mushrooms and cheese.”

“Sounds good too,” my daughter said.

“That’s a deal then.”

I ordered and the pizzas were delivered twenty minutes later. We ate and spent the rest of the evening chit-chatting in the living room in a relaxed atmosphere passed 10pm.

“It’s getting late, Anika. Let me drive you home,” I said after checking the clock on the wall.

“It’s ok, Mrs. Harris. I can take the bus.”

“Nonsense! You’re my daughter’s friend, therefore, my responsibility. I’m not letting you leave at night alone. Come on, pick up your stuff.”

En route to her place, we had small talks all the while about her life and activities, what she liked and didn’t like. I found out she had her mind rather set on studying law. I initially thought she was a bit shy but, once comfortable with you, she could actually talk about pretty much anything. She had good conversational skills. She was living twenty minutes away but with the talk, they passed quickly. Driving her home was a good call though. It was too long of a travel to let her go on her own at night by bus. We arrived in front of her building around eleven.

“Thank you so much for the ride.”

“No problem. If you want, you can stay the night, next time.”

“Thank you. That’s very kind of you.”

“Don’t tell Lætitia but I do that mostly for her. It’s been hard for her since her father’s death and she’s been really brave. You’re one of the few people she brought home since we moved here so anything that can make her happy is greatly welcome.”

“Mrs. Harris, Lætitia is so lucky to have you. You have such a kind heart. She’s very much like you.”

“Thank you, dear, but if you had known her father, you’d know she’s a lot more like him,” I said, patting her knee, touched by her kind words. “Where do you live?”

“On the second floor,” she pointed at her window.

I bent down to look up through my windshield and noticed the light was out.

“There’s no one home?”

“No” she said, embarrassed. “My parents and I… had… still have… a tumultuous relationship.” I turned to her sensing it was not a good story. “I asked to be emancipated early, when I was fourteen, and it was granted by the court two years ago when I got sixteen.”

Wow. I looked at her flabbergasted. görükle escort She looked so young and innocent but apparently, from what I sensed, her story was heavy. I sat back wondering how hard her life must have been to request emancipation.

“You… changed your mind about me, didn’t you? You’re wondering what wrong I’ve done in my life and if you should still let Lætitia hang out with me,” she said with a sad voice.

“Why do you say that?”

“Because… it always comes… sooner or later.” A silent tear rolled down her cheek. “They discover I don’t live with my parents and chase me away.”

“Oh please, don’t cry. It’s true I was actually wondering what happened but this has nothing to do with your friendship with Lætitia. You’re still welcome. Anytime,” I said, drying her tears how I could with my thumbs.

“Thank you, Mrs. Harris.”

“It’s nothing, really. And remember, it’s Sophia.”

“Yes, Sophia. Thank you,” she answered with a sad smile.

I fetched for my handbag that was sitting at her feet.

“I tell you what,” I started, browsing the mess in my bag, “you can call me anytime,” I finished, handing her my business card.

“Are you serious?”

“Very. There are both my office number and my cell. Don’t hesitate, OK? Anytime. Day or night. Understood?”

“Yes, Mrs. Ha… Sophia.”

“Ok, good. Go on, now. Good night,” I smiled.

I made sure she went in and didn’t leave before I saw the light on through the second floor apartment windows.

*****

“Mum! I can’t find it!”

“It’s in the second drawer! On the right!”

“Ok, I got it,” she said stepping back in the living room with the Saint Grail in her hand.

She handed me the bottle opener and I swiftly removed the cork without breaking it.

“You have to teach me that one day,” my daughter said.

I smiled. I introduced her to good wine the past year and was making sure she could handle her alcohol and know when to stop. It could save her life one day. The hypocrisy that makes us believe teenagers don’t drink when adults turn their back was above me. I’d rather be proactive about it and teach her about it.

“Mum, can I have Anika over this weekend?”

“The full weekend?” I asked as I poured the wine in our glasses. She nodded. “What are you gonna do?”

“I don’t know exactly yet but since we always study when she comes, I thought it would be nice to spend the weekend together and have fun for once. We could go to the fair on Saturday and chill on Sunday.”

“Sure, I agree. And if I’m available AND if you behave, I might take you two out to a nice restaurant.”

“For real? You’d do that?” she asked, her eyes sparkling with excitement.

“For your friend, yes.” I kept pensive a few seconds then asked, “Do you know what happened to her? I have a feeling she didn’t have a great life so far.”

“Not really. I know it’s pretty serious though. She doesn’t want anything to do with her parents. That’s all she told me.”

I remained silent a while, feeling sorry for this cute young lady, wondering why bad things happen to good people. In my mind, it was settled.

“Ok. She’ll come and we’ll go to the restaurant. Tell her to bring something nice to wear. It’ll change her.”

“Oh Mum, that’s why I love you,” she hugged me.

“Only for that?” I asked with a mock shocked expression on my face.

“Well, you know what I mean.”

“Yes, I know what you mean. Ok, call her.”

*****

On Friday night, I let the girls go out. They’ve been good and came back around 2am. Saturday was a sunny day. The girls went to the fun fair as decided while I ran some errands. The plan was to meet at home at 5pm and then get ready to go out. When they arrived, I was already ready and had put on my little black dress, make-up and styled my hair.

“Wow, Mum! You went all out! Is there someone coming with us?”

“Nope. It’ll be just us girls.”

“Well, I’m sure men will look at you, Mum.”

“You look really beautiful, Sophia,” Anika said smiling warmly.

“Thank you, Anika. Go on, get ready, girls. I made a reservation at my favorite Italian restaurant.”

Thirty minutes later we were in a taxi and heading to the Crimson Ribbon, one of the best Italian in town. My husband and I used to go there at least once a month.

“Hello, Signora Harris.”

“Hello, Marcelo. Long time no see. How have you been?”

“Very good, thank you. I reserved your favorite table.”

“Thank you, Marcelo. Much appreciated.”

He led us to the back of the restaurant, a table located between an indoor fountain and an aquarium. It was peaceful and somewhat secluded from the rest of the restaurant. My ego got boosted as I noticed a few men glancing at me when we made our way through the tables.

“Wow! This place is nice, Mum,” Lætitia said taking a seat.

“And you haven’t tasted the food yet.”

I ordered one of their best Chianti and three different types of pasta for us to share. We enjoyed our night greatly. The girls had fun, especially Anika, which was the whole purpose bursa escort bayan of this night out.

We came back late and I went directly to the bathroom for a quick wash up and get changed for the night. I was in my bedroom, almost ready to sleep, when I heard a knock on the door. At my invitation, Anika made her appearance.

“Am I disturbing you?” Anika asked shyly.

“Not at all. What can I do for you?” I asked as I finished tying my hair for the night.

“Nothing much. I wanted to take the time to formally thank you. Sophia, thank you so much for inviting me. I really enjoyed the night.”

“I’m glad you did, Anika,” I answered as we hugged. “Have a good night sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Good night!” she said kissing me on the cheek.

If I hadn’t drink that much, I would have noticed, not only the look in her eyes but the kiss that lasted a little longer than necessary.

***

The next morning, I was the first up and cooked a giant breakfast for our guest. The day before I had bought fruits and croissants. I prepared the fruit salad. Then, when ten o’clock hit, I launched the coffee and set the table.

I went to my daughter’s room first and woke her up. I kissed her forehead and shook her. When she turned around, I left her alone. She’s much like me in that matter. I let her wake up smoothly and went to our guest room, where Anika was sleeping.

“Hey, honey! Wake up! It’s time!” I whispered, gently shaking her thigh.

She groaned and it made me smile. She really looked like an angel, her blonde hair spread out on her pillow. I bent over to kiss her forehead and, to my surprise, she grabbed me by the neck, forcing me down into a hug. I chuckled and hugged her for a minute. I gently rubbed her back thinking she was probably missing this kind of human contact.

“Ok, Anika, time to get up. Breakfast is almost ready. I expect you downstairs in ten, Ok?”

“Mmmmh…” was all she was able to say.

I left the room and went to the kitchen to prepare some eggs and toast.

Anika joined me ten minutes later, my daughter followed five minutes after. The breakfast was silent and calm. It seemed everybody was lost in their own thoughts. I exchanged a few glances with Anika. I was curious about her past but didn’t know how to start the conversation. She smiled at me, one of the brightest smile I’ve ever seen and I changed my mind. It was not the time. She looked so happy.

“So, what are you girls doing today?”

“I’ll probably leave after this. It’ll soon be noon and I still have stuff to do before class tomorrow.”

“You’re sure you don’t wanna stay longer?” I said, checking the time. It was barely noon.

“No, I’m good. Thanks.”

“Ok, I will drive you home then,” I said, starting to clean up the table. “Take your time, let’s say we meet in… thirty minutes? Is that ok for you?”

“Perfect.”

I took a quick shower, got changed and headed back downstairs. The girls had cleaned the dishes and the table. As I went to the fridge and grabbed some water, I heard some noise in the living room.

“Anika, what are you doing here? I thought you were upstairs getting ready!”

“I’m ready already. I was looking at the pictures of you and your husband. You look really happy.”

“We were,” I smiled as I approached the fireplace. I picked up a frame and repeated, “we were. Have you seen how handsome he was? And he was very kind too.” I put the frame back and quickly chased away the one tear drop starting rolling down my cheek. “We better get going.” I went to the staircase and yelled, “Honey, we’re leaving!”

Anika joined me and yelled, “See you tomorrow, Lætitia!”

“Ok, see ya!” We heard my daughter’s distant voice.

I looked at Anika and returned her smile, “ready to go?”

*****

Anika was a great young lady to spend time with but in the back of my head, I was still wondering about her past. She was coming to eat with us at least a couple of times a week now, whether the girls had homework or not, and I always did everything I could to make her feel at home so I always avoided to ask about her parents and her past.

The answer came soon after. My cell’s ringtone woke me up in the middle of the night. I turned in my bed to fetch it. I groaned when I saw the time but sat up immediately when I realized who was calling.

“Anika, are you alright?”

“Sophia, please come. I’m scared,” Anika begged me. Her voice was shaky and my attention immediately went to its peak.

“What’s wrong?”

“He’s here. Please come.”

“Who’s there?”

“My father. I don’t want to see him but he won’t go away. He started to threaten me.”

“Have you called the cops?”

“No.”

I had already jumped out of my bed when I answered, “Do it. Hang up with me and call them right away. I’ll be there as soon as I can, ok?”

I didn’t take the time to change, ran down the stairs, and grabbed my winter coat and keys. I tried my best not to make too much noise and, within five minutes, I was on the road, worried as hell, heading to Anika’s. I had no idea what was going on. When I arrived, a few cop cars were there and an ambulance was leaving. I had never been to her place but I knew it was on the second floor. I followed the noise. Some neighbors were out, trying to find out what had disturbed their sleep. When I reached the second floor, a police woman stopped me.

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