Trading Hearts is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons in coincidental. Photo courtesy of www.islandhideaways.com.
Sighing wearily, Natasha climbed out of her Lexus SUV and walked slowly towards her parents’ house. After the long, hard day she had, she would have preferred to head straight home to shower and have an early night. However, she was feeling guilty for missing evening dinner with her family in recent times because she was spending most of her free time with Michael.
In the weeks following the incident at Emerald Bay House, the couple finally went on their first date, and she had made good on her promise to cook for him as well. Michael even accompanied her to a family wedding, where he proceeded to charm the entire Taylor clan.
His work finished at Emerald Bay, Michael had moved back into his tiny rented apartment in St. Michael, and when he wasn’t working on one of the other villas or apartments owned by King Properties, he spent most of his time at Natasha’s house in St. George.
Before Natasha could place her key in the lock, the side door was thrown open by Kim, who wore a pained expression.
“We have company,” she said, pursing her lips. “The black sheep has returned.”
Natasha stared at her blankly, then sucked her teeth when realisation dawned. “Let me guess. Her latest sugar Daddy left her and she’s out of money?”
“You should play the lottery,” Kim retorted, closing the door behind her sister. Natasha eased off her Balenciaga sling-backs and hung her jacket over a nearby chair before following the sound of raised voices coming from the living room.
“Aunt Jas, I see you’re only back a short time and already raising my father’s blood pressure,” Natasha interjected as she walked into the room.
Jasmine Taylor turned and gave her niece a forced smile. “Well, hello to you too, Tasha. Is that any way to greet the aunt you haven’t seen in ages?”
Natasha raised an eyebrow. “And whose fault is that? Strange how you only remember you have family when you want something. Or don’t phones in New York dial out?”
Frank broke in before Jasmine could reply. “Tasha, Jasmine is still your elder and you must respect her, regardless of her shortcomings,” he chided.
Jasmine scowled and Natasha couldn’t resist smiling. Her father’s younger sister hated to be reminded of her age, and took every cosmetic and pharmaceutical opportunity available to erase the signs of her age. At forty-five, she was still as svelte as she was in her 20’s, and her expensive taste in clothes, makeup and hair weave assisted her in presenting a polished front to the world.
Marie chimed in. “My children have to show you respect, Jasmine, but I sure as hell don’t have to. Your brother is the only family you have left in this world, and for three years you don’t call to see if he’s still alive, but turn up here out of the blue asking for money. We look like we own a money tree to you?”
Jasmine gave her family a frustrated look and ran her manicured fingers through her sleek, shoulder-length weave. “Look, I apologise for surprising you like this, but I didn’t have anywhere else to go. Lionel threw me out of the apartment, repossessed my car and froze my accounts. Good thing I had a meeting-turn going with some friends or I couldn’t afford the ticket back to Barbados!”
Frank snorted. “That’s what happens when you want to be a kept woman. Why did this Lionel fella throw you out, anyway?”
Jasmine blushed and averted her eyes. “I, umm, we had a difference of opinion,” she muttered.
“Yeah, right. She was probably horning the old guy with a younger man,” Kim snickered quietly to Natasha, who nodded in agreement.
Frank sighed. “Mummy would turn in her grave if I turned my back on you. All I can offer you is food and shelter till you get back on your feet, though. And maybe a job, if Natasha approves.”
Hell, no! Natasha wanted to protest but decided not to upset her father further. Jasmine Taylor had never worked a day in her life, except at looking beautiful. The idea of her far from industrious aunt going anywhere near her clients filled Natasha with horror.
The Taylors went through the nightly ritual of family dinner, but the conversation around the table was strained. Her mood ruined, Natasha decided to make her escape after helping to clean up. Jasmine followed her to the door.
“Leaving so soon, Tasha? I was hoping you could give me a lift to the Gap. I need a change of scenery for an hour or two,” she pleaded.
Natasha shrugged on her jacket. “I’m going the other way, sorry.”
Jasmine pouted. “I guess I can ask Kim to take me. I was hoping we could have some time alone to talk.”
Natasha gave a sarcastic chuckle. “No, I’m not going to try to convince Daddy to give you any money. If you want money, you’re going to have to work for it like the rest of us. Conversation over.”
A malevolent sneer appeared on the older woman’s face. “You know, you grew up to be a real b*tch, Natasha. It’s no wonder Matthew dumped you and spared himself some aggravation.”
Momentarily taken aback by her aunt’s outburst, Natasha recovered quickly and gave her a cold smile. “Better to be a b*tch with her own money than a rich man’s w*ore.”
Ignoring Jasmine’s sharp gasp, Natasha stalked out of the house and headed towards her vehicle.
Trading Hearts is the sole property of Bajegirl. Any reproduction of this story in any form without the author's permission is prohibited.