Chronicles of a Divorcee: Coping with Change

 

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Some months back I made a decision to chronicle my journey of recovery after divorce but somewhere along the way I stopped recording. I stopped because I reached a point where I lost direction of where exactly I was headed and if at all I wanted to continue along that path I had chosen. For a while I had myself convinced that I had healed. I was no longer bitter at he that broke my heart mercilessly and with impunity. I was over him and I had truly forgiven him. I was not bitter at him. The only emotion I had for him was that of pity; pity that even after everything, from where I was standing, it looked like he was still in the same spot I had left him.

What exactly had I hoped to achieve?

But really, if am not bitter any more, what’s this strange taste I keep tasting in my mouth? What’s this sourly flavour coursing through my veins every time am confronted with matters of the heart?

Yet again am at a crossroad.

Nevertheless, I have both funny and somewhat sad stories to update you on in my chronicles. So, here goes nothing!

Firstly, I know some of you are dying for an update on Michael. Remember Michael? My beloved Michael, the younger fella from church with all the right ingredients from a distance and I talked about how much strength I drew from him. I meant every word of it by the way. My experience with Michael simply turned out to be one I needed to go through to awaken me fully to my newly found reality.

Remember how I said my next man should be God fearing and what-not in my previous chronicle…yes. I was a total mess back then but I still stand by what I said.

Through my experience with Michael and basically some other guys I’ve tried hanging with ever since my divorce, I accidentally came by two very important discoveries;

The first one is that it is possible for a man seemingly after God’s own heart to treat you like a man in the ‘world’ and that it’s possible for a man who’s not a Christian to treat you with the kind of respect that you would expect from a man after God’s own heart. Am I making sense here?

The second discovery was that I had changed. No, I HAVE changed. A Lot.

I once heard someone say;

When you go through a life changing or threatening situation, you emerge from it with a whole new perspective on life. And maybe this new view is accurate, but still you must respect that others may need time to see it as you do.

Whoever said that was right. I was a fool to think that I could walk out of that storm and remain unchanged. My personality has changed and the general way I look at life has changed. If Michael was to write his own version of chronicles, I would probably go down in his books as the hardest women he’s ever had to deal with…and so would any other man out there that’s had the misfortune of dealing with me since my divorce. Be they a friend or possible suitor, I simply cannot take anything that a man says at face value, worse if that man has an already established reputation of being untrustworthy around women.

For someone who had very little faith in men before getting married, and for someone who had that very faith broken in reality after trusting and taking a chance, I am back to being that sceptical woman who has a hard time trusting anything that passes through a man’s lips. If anything, I think I am worse than I was eight years ago! I have been told that with prayer and with time, I will start trusting again. You think??

And my prayer indeed is, Lord grant me this miracle!

And so to close off that chapter from the previous chronicle, Let’s just say that I am still more of an Oliver kind of girl than an Anton. Vintage all the way baby. (This one is for my AUL readers. 😉

My next highlight, obviously stemming from all these changes am going through comes from a conversation I had with a friend of mine recently.

She asked me; “Nisha, do you think there’s a man out there that will ever be good enough for you?”

Of course I took offense to her line of inquiry because I felt like she was saying something is wrong with me. But like they say, the truth hurts.

It is a fact I am at a point in my life where I feel it is not possible to find a man that will meet the standards am looking for in a partner. This is not to say that there are no good men out there, I just haven’t had the privilege of meeting any.

Someone close to me cautioned me to not always paint men so dark and he was right. I do not have a lot of good things to say about men and somehow, I think I set myself up for this one…somehow. Remember how I first shared my article about my divorce, from that time I’ve had thousands of women messaging me and sharing their marital problems and what scares me the most is that all the men keep coming off as if they were born from the same woman and nurtured under the same conditions that made them turn out to be like dogs on heat.

So yeah, I kinda have issues with men, deep issues so forgive me.

All of these experiences have gotten to me so much that I have started praying to God to start showing me husbands that are different, the good ones. I am desperately searching for women out there that can tell me; Nisha my man is not perfect but he is loving, responsible and caring.

If I was to be a little ambitious, I would dare ask for a woman that would look me in the eye and tell me; he has never cheated on me, he’s faithful to me just as I am faithful to him…as opposed to statements like “even though he cheated or beat me up, he’s shown remorse and he has done everything to fix our marriage.

But as reality would have it, people make it seem as if asking for a man that doesn’t cheat is the same as asking for a perfect man. I mean, can’t his weakness be something like; he’s not well-endowed, he’s short-tempered, he’s bad at communication, etc…why does it always have to be cheating? Now, before someone stones me, I am very much aware that women cheat too!

But, here’s what I know about cheating wives, it’s either she’s out to even out scores with her hubby, OR, she’s just a whore. Forgive my French, I am not known for my subtlety. The trouble with cheating wives is that they do it with the most unexpected people! Men do it with just about anyone! But women…. It’s the youth pastor at the local church, the seemingly quiet and reserved garden boy, that guy she’s always insisted is ‘just a friend,’ the youngest child of their best friend, the new bloke in the office, and if the husband isn’t so lucky, it’s his brother or father! Ayayai!

Once in my marriage when I considered staying for selfish reasons, I reasoned I could even out scores a lil bit. A couple of months flirting and I found myself falling for the guy I was trying to use to get back at my ex-husband! I had not even slept with the guy but there I was being all hormonal. Tsk tsk tsk. This is the trouble with us women…everything is about emotions while our men only focus on boobs, bums and chitechi.

So yeah, if you see me out there acting like being single is the coolest thing ever, please forgive me, I was once married. I am just trying to enjoy wiping off a long list of worries off my mental sheet….Until the next time I fall in-love again and bring a sudden halt to all brain activity.

This brings me to my next highlight!

There I was, in the midst of all this chaos, asking myself; is there any hope for me? I have been out of the dating game for so long and I just realized things have changed! Nothing is as it used to be.

Back in the day (yes, I just said that…I have a mind of an old person), men loved taking care of their women but the men (some) these days are afraid of spending on their women. But to be fair, there wasn’t Brazilian hair back then and nobody had even heard of Sunzu. Still, in my new adventures, I have encountered a new kind of breed; the men that want independent women, not just so they don’t have to spend on them, but because they want the women to spend on them!

I understand that there’s something sexy about an independent woman but for a man to desire to place himself under her payroll is asking too much. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with a woman taking care of her man financially but whether am a feminist or not, if the man really wants to be taken serious as the head in the relationship, at some point he will have to take certain steps to earn that role rather than sit comfortably while the woman takes on double roles, even if she’s doing so happily and willingly.

But here’s a dilemma am caught in now:

I no longer want to date a man that’s broke or doesn’t have his life figured out yet!

That’s what I told a friend of mine once, or maybe twice, three times…am not sure. But that’s what the new me is saying these days. There was a time when I thought starting a life together with a man was ideal; you build each other up and grow steadily together as opposed to finding some already rich fella that will tell you ‘get out of MY house’ when things got messy. I actually took pride in my belief and yet here I am today saying the exact opposite with the same amount of pride! What happened to me!?

What happened to me is that I once accepted a man for who he was, without money and together we made something of ourselves only to learn the hard way exactly what money can do to a man that once had nothing. And now I am afraid of a man with nothing. Just who will he become when he has something?

On the flip side, there is that type of man that has everything already figured out. He’s just waiting to add ‘trophy wife’ to his long resume and even this type doesn’t do it for me. Is there an in-between guy somewhere?? Do I even wanna meet him?

Oy. Oy. Oy!!!!

And finally, this one I just have to share because it’s both funny and sad at the same time.

You know how I was married and all…like I had a man I could legally have sex with, any time I wanted…and how I don’t have that man anymore…like I went and done revoked my own licence to have coitus! Who does that? Surely, how does one recover from that? A year ago I could just turn around on my bed and boom, it was game over. Now the only thing I boom into when I turn in my bed are my pillows! Pillows people. SMH.

The idea that I would no longer be having sex with anyone until my next marriage almost gave me a brain freeze. It’s not like I was new to the science of the Bible. That knowledge was literally curved into my scull by my parents from the moment I was born! However, it’s one thing to know the science, and a whole other thing to apply it. What’s worse about all this is, in that moment when you realize you can’t have something, that’s when your desire to have it grows!

Am I the only one who thinks life sucks sometimes?

Sometimes I ask myself, what exactly am I trying to protect? It’s not like there’s some tight membrane I have to preserve for that special one because c’mon people, I can barely remember when I bade farewell to that! The good thing is that I was quick to remember that sex outside marriage goes way beyond protecting some thin membrane. It’s a divine instruction and there are no two ways about it; you have to be married.

I wish someone can tell that to my hormones. Seriously. Jiz-Us.

So I found myself asking questions like, what exactly am I supposed to be doing during courtship? I hear that’s what it’s called, courtship, not dating. For a woman with very busy hands and an itch for adventure, what exactly am I supposed to be doing with my hands when in the company of a guy I am in-love with, Knit sweaters for our future kids? Please.

But it turns out, sex was the least of my worries. It’s my trust issues that am having hardest time dealing with. Someone told me that as Christians, we deal with sexual temptations by “talking about it.” You read that right, talking about it.

Are you kidding me!?

I kind of figure that works for some people but c’mon, I don’t think it would work for me. I am a writer, talking about sex would be a conversation of me describing what I want to do to some poor bloke and that’s the last thing they need in their brain if they want to flee! I don’t talk about sex. I just avoid being in any situation that might lead to me using my body or hands for anything other than knitting sweaters for my grandchildren. I don’t talk about sex when I am on a date. That’s equivalent to shooting yourself in the leg in my books.

The most I’ve done regarding ‘talking about sex’ with people I’ve gone out with is the initial conversation that is meant to serve as a disclaimer for future reference;

There will be no hunky-punky, ah-ah, zero, nada, zilch.

Let’s just say I’ve lost out on a couple of second dates after that kind of conversation. Ya’ll should pray for a sister.

So, it’s almost a year now since I left my marital home and even though I have not gone all out to seek a new relationship, I have still gone on a number of dates. I get bored people, and there’s only a certain number of movies, series and books one can take in a year!

It is easy to look at someone who’s going through a heart break and tell them that time will heal all wounds but nobody ever addresses the change that comes after the passage of time. Yes the wounds might be healed but the scars remain as a reminder. No matter how much you want to trust again, you keep finding yourself second-guessing your decisions. They say that if you can’t trust anyone then at least trust yourself, but what happens when it is ‘yourself’ you can’t trust?

I have been told, Trust God. Always.

I have been told many times that I should pray for God’s guidance and trust in him and honestly I think I have done both impeccably well, however, I have found through time that the actual test of my faith is accepting the reality that even with a godly-ordained love, risk is involved. For how can you put your love and trust in another imperfect human being and expect to never get bruised when you yourself are capable of inflicting that kind of harm despite your play at innocence?

Even though the Bible encourages us to not be un-equally yoked with non-believers, I was forced to come to the realization that even the seemingly holiest of people struggle with sin. They’re not perfect, nobody is. There’s risk involved with everyone and anyone. I have seen some great men of God I respect move from one woman to the next like a dog on heat and still I have seen these very men serve as God’s vessels in the most remarkable ways. Still, I have seen non-believing men show genuine love and compassion to me and others in ways that believers have not and I have been tempted to bend the scriptures to fit my feelings.

And in all of this I have had to remember the principles are signed up for when I gave my life to Christ, trusting that it will all work out in the end…even when I can see no light at the end of the tunnel. And sometimes it does get very very dark.

And so the struggle continues.

I don’t know what my future looks like. I just know that at some point it will get awesome, extremely awesome. For now all I can do is hope, hope and hope.

It is either I take a risk or I continue to live a self-inflicted miserable life.

Till next time, these have been my chronicles!

An Untimely Love – Part 16 End 

An Untimely Love – Part 16 End 

Edit
Cathy Russel was in labour for eight long hours before the baby finally decided to come out and join the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the sudden birth brought with it some expected complications. 

The baby died six hours later due to too much oxygen reaching his lungs when the doctors tried to administer treatment for his Respiratory Distress Syndrome. 
“What do you mean he’s gone?” Anton asked. He had just gone out to get something for Cathy to eat when he received the call.
“I think it would be best if you were here sir.” The doctor informed him.
Anton had no time to mourn the loss of his very first child as he found himself in a position of a comforter. It appeared Cathy was having an even harder time accepting the news. She was sobbing so much that she passed out from lack of air getting into her lungs. For three straight days all Cathy did was cry. 
“He was my only chance mum!” Cathy sobbed in her mother’s arms once when they were just the two of them. “I have nothing now that he’s gone. I have nothing.” She sobbed harder.
Matilda cried with her daughter, feeling her pain as if it was her own. She was the only one in the world that understood just how much that child meant to her daughter, to the both of them. Why did this have to happen?
“It’s her fault.” Cathy sat up straight, every inch of her face drowning in vermin. “This is all Alex’s fault. She took my son from me.”
“Cathy-“
“No mum, it’s her fault.” Cathy insisted. “If she hadn’t gotten engaged that night I would have gone into labour. My baby wouldn’t have come into the world when he wasn’t ready and he certainly wouldn’t have died. He was safe in my womb until she forced him out. I am going to make her pay for this.”
“I bet she is celebrating your loss wherever she is.” Matilda said. “Busy acting like she cares when she’s happy that you won’t be part of the Cooper family any more. She thinks she’s won. You should see how proud she’s been prancing around with that damn stone on her finger. She thinks she’s royalty.” 
“What if we took it all away from her?” Cathy asked, sudden hope dancing all over her face.
“What do you mean take it from her?” Matilda asked. “We already tried it before and it didn’t work. Those people trust her so much they wouldn’t believe any plot laid against her. They would see right through it.”
“Who said anything about plotting?” Cathy said. “This time she’s going to do everything on her own. She is going to wave goodbye to everything with her own mind.”
“Her own mind?” Matilda still appeared lost. 
“Amnesia.” Cathy stated proudly. “Isn’t her mind her weakest link? We shake up her mind a little and boom, all her memories are gone. She will forget about Anton and Mr Cooper and she will definitely forget her dame engagement if we shake her up in the right place.”
“And just how do you intend to do that?” Her mother asked.
“That’s not an issue. We live in a society where everything can be found just by pressing a button. Pass me my phone mum.” 
Matilda passed the phone to her daughter, a huge grin on her face. 

*** 

Alex was pacing to and from in the lobby at the race house. She was fully clad in riding gear from head to toe, looking about ready to jump onto any horse…if only that was the case. 
“You are making me dizzy Alex come and sit down!” Paulina shouted at her friend.
“He was supposed to be here ten minutes ago.” She was looking at her watch. “Oliver is never late for anything. He is always on time. What if something happened on his way here?”
“Now you’re just being paranoid.” Cassey said. “It’s only been ten minutes, ten minutes Alex, not ten thousand minutes. Gosh, I have never seen you this nervous before.” 
“It’s just the nerves I bet.” Paulina commented. “I wonder why you waited this long to start your riding lessons. Anton can ride a horse as if it was a Ferrari.”
“How can you compare an animal to a car?” Alex asked. “Frankly, I don’t think animals were meant to be ridden.  Who even came up with the idea of riding horses, or donkeys?”
“Then why are you doing this?” Cassey asked. 
“Because I want to be the kind of posh woman that Oliver would normally date.” She said. “And I have seen the kind of stuff the wives of his close friends engage in; charity, sport, horse racing, book clubs, you know, the typical typical rich wives kind of activities.”
“Did Oliver say that’s what he wanted you to start doing as well?” Paulina asked.
“Of course not.” Alex answered. “He wouldn’t ask me such a thing.”
“Then why the hell are you doing something this ridiculous! You hate horses.” Cassey said. 
“I don’t want to embarrass Oliver.” Alex said. “I’m young, and poor. I don’t want to give those rich snobs a reason to look down on me. I can already tell they don’t like me. They always expected Oliver to marry one of their own and he somehow ended up with me. I just need to do something that will make me fit in.” 
“You’re a doctor for pete’s sake!” Paulina reminded her. “Isn’t that good enough a qualification? Those women you want to fit in with where mostly born with silver spoons in their mouths and they’re bound to spend the rest of their lives as trophy wives. You’re young, sexy…well, you’re good looking…” She was scanning her friend looking for the right words to say.
“Why did you change your statement?” Alex asked. “Are you telling me I am not sexy?”
“I think what Paulina meant is that one wouldn’t look at you and go, oh wow, she’s sexy!” Cassey ran to the rescue. “You’re the bookish intelligent type. You are very beautiful, that’s a fact, and you have the best hair I have ever seen on a woman but you don’t dress sexy Alex. You dress normal…like a doctor.”
“But you guys are doctors too so are you also not sexy?” She asked.
“We have different personalities sweetie, and yours isn’t one that screams sexy.” Paulina said. 
“So now you see what am afraid of?” Alex said. “If you guys think am not sexy, what do you think those women will say about me?” 
“Alex, sexy is an attitude, even the poorest of souls can afford sexy. It’s beauty that’s scarce. I would kill to be as naturally beautiful as you are. You have the type of face that artists want to paint. Some of us would have to spend at least two hours in front of a mirror before we can even take a selfie. 
“You can be sexy if you wanted to, you just choose not to. Not everyone can wake up one day and say they want to be naturally beautiful, that deal was sealed even before they were born. Count your blessings woman, don’t turn into a snob already.”
“I guess Cathy’s comments got to me.” Alex said.
“What comments? When?” Where?” Paulina asked.
“The last time I visited her at her place, after the burial.” Alex said. “I thought it was a chance for us to start afresh so I reached out to her.”
“What did that bitch say to you?” Cassey asked. 
“She just innocently made some comments about me raising my game because I have stiff competition.” Alex said. “She said that all the wives of Oliver’s friends are into all these classy activities and if I wanted to hold on to him I should do something before it was too late.”
“And you listened to her?” Paulina asked. “Are you nuts? Since when does Cathy give you advice?”
Alex’s phone rang just then. “It’s Oliver, thank God!” she said and answered. “Oliver! Are you okay? Where are you?”
“I am so sorry my love,” Oliver’s voice came through. “Some guy on a bike appeared out of nowhere in front of me and I hit him.”
“You were in an accident!?” Alex was shouting, her heart pounding loudly. “Are you okay? Did anyone-“
Both Cassey and Paulina stood up to stand by her side, their ears pressed closer to her to hear the conversation.
“I’m fine love, am very fine. I am at the hospital right now, the guy on the bike sustained a few scratches, nothing deep but we need to make sure so-“
“Oh, thank God you’re okay. Which hospital are you at? I am coming-“
“No Alex,” Oliver said. “There’s no need for you to come. I’ll be with you in a bit. You go ahead and have some fun with those horses. I’ll catch up with you guys in a bit.”     
“I have even lost interest to learn today.” She sulked. “I was waiting for you because you were going to be my motivation but now I’ve completely lost interest.”
Oliver laughed. “How about you just get the basics out of the way and I will come and do the rest with you when I come?” He suggested.
“Okay,” Alex answered reluctantly. “I’ll see you soon. Don’t take too long. I love you.” 
“I love you too baby. Don’t forget to wear your helmet, and take things slowly.”
“I will my love, see you soon.” She said and cut the line. 
“He’s okay right?” Paulina asked.
“Yes,” Alex said. “He says we go ahead he will join us later.”
“Finally.” Cassey said, leading the way out of the lobby and onto the grounds a short distance away where the horses were waiting for them.
“Please be careful with her or her fiancé will kill you if anything happens to her.” Cassey warned the man in charge of Alex’s training. 
He laughed. “Not to worry ma’am, everything is under control. She is safe. May I?” The man extended his hand for Alex to take so he could help her up the horse. Alex finally managed to settle down after a short struggle. 
“It won’t move right?” She asked, fear written all over her face.
“It won’t move as long as you don’t instruct it to, and just in case, I am holding it here.” He showed her the point at which he was holding the reins. “Okay, are you comfortable?”
“I think so,” Alex said. 
“So, if you want the horse to move,” the man started explaining but Alex’s mind was filled with thoughts of Oliver that she missed some of the instructions he was giving.
“Is everything clear ma’am?” The guide asked. 
“Yes, you said that if I want to get the horse moving, I should just do this-“ she gave the horse a light kick and simultaneously a sharp sound shot through the air and sent the horse flying off, with her on top. 
The loud and sudden disturbance had Cassey and everyone else on the grounds rushing to check what was happening.
“Oh no, that can’t be Alex. Where is Alex!” Paulina went ran after the guide who was also running after runaway horse. 
Realizing that he was running in futility, the guide ran back and grabbed a horse from his colleague who was just about to start going after Alex. He pushed him aside and got onto his horse. “I got this!” The man shouted and rode off.
In the distance, Alex was wailing and yelling out her friend’s names, desperately holding on to the horse’s reigns for dear life but the ride was so fast that she kept swinging from side to side and moving up and down until she could no longer hold steady anymore. She fell hard to the ground and just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, she found her foot tangled around the horse’s reigns and like a sack of sand, the horse dragged her body along until she passed out, not much from the damage caused to her head as it kept hitting against the hard ground or the bleeding, but from sheer fear. 
This was one of the worst fears of her life coming to life. 
“Mr C, you need to come here immediately.” Paulina said when she called Oliver. “Something terrible has happened. You need to come right now.”

The walk from the car park and into the hospital where Alex was being operated on was the longest walk Oliver had ever taken in his life. the world around him was spinning in circles and his eyes could barely make whatever was in front of them. if anybody was to ask him how he had managed to drive himself all the way to the hospital, he wouldn’t have had an answer for them.
Cassey was the first one to spot him a few feet away and sobbing like a child whose just seen his parents, she ran towards him and fell at his feet. She was desperately trying to say something to him but she was crying so hard no words could come out. Paulina rushed to pick her friend up while Oliver stood in a daze before finally spotting a nurse and running after her.
Her grabbed her by the hand. “Where’s Alex?” He asked her. “Where have they taken my wife?” 
“Sir, you need to calm down, you are hurting me.” The nurse pleaded. 
Oliver looked over to where he was gripping her and slowly loosened his hold. “Please tell me where she is.” He earnestly pleaded. 
“She’s in surgery right now sir-“
“What’s wrong with her? Tell me, is she going to be okay?”
“I wouldn’t know sir but the doctors are working very hard to save her. They would be the best people to advise on the situation so let’s just wait for them to be done. Can I offer you something to drink, water? Juice? Sir, I think it’s best if you sat down. You don’t look so-“
Finally, Oliver’s knees gave way but before he could hit the floor, Anton was by his side and lifting him back up. “Dad, am here. You need your wits about you if you want to see Alex again. C’mon, let’s go sit over there.” He pointed to where Paulina and the rest of their crew was, desperately trying to calm the inconsolable Cassey down. 
“I should have been there with her.” Oliver kept repeating. He couldn’t get himself to sit down. He refused to sit down until he knew what was happening to Alex. 
“Dad this isn’t your fault.” Anton tried to console him but he wouldn’t have any of it.
“If I was there nothing like this would have happened.” He said. “If something happened to her I swear I can’t-“
“You can’t what dad?” Anton dared him to complete his sentence.
“First it was your mother,” Oliver said. “A part of me died the day I lost her and you were the only reason that kept me going son. Alex restored that part of me when she came into our lives and now…and now-“
“And now nothing,” Anton stated firmly. “Alex isn’t going anywhere. She is going to be alright. She is Alex. She has survived the worst human can ever be subjected to and she still walked tall. She will beat this thing too. I know she will. She just has to.” More than convincing his father, Anton desperately needed to believe his own words. 
When the doctors finally came out, there were only three words everyone wanted to hear from them.
“She will live.” Doctor Mitchel informed Oliver. “She barely made it but she will live. She is a fighter. Can we talk in private Mr Cooper?”
Even though he could heave a sigh of relief finally, Oliver didn’t like the look in the doctor’s eyes when he summoned him to his office.
“Something is wrong right?” Cassey asked her friends as she watched Oliver disappear into the doctor’s office. “Why did he ask to speak privately? Why couldn’t he just-“
“He is the guardian Cassey.” Anton said, getting a little annoyed. He understood Cassey’s fears very well because he had the same fears but he needed to get mad at someone…or something.
“Why would the doctor ask to speak to him when her parents are right here?” Mrs Saunders asked. Only the Mr and Mrs showed up, unless it was a party, no one expected to see the brood any time soon. 
“You guys were never her parents so why don’t you just shut up!” Duncan yelled at their faces, shocking everyone else. “Why did you even show up here, bloody pissing me off.”
“Hey Dee, calm down.” Anton calmed down his friend. 
“He’s right though.” George chipped in.
“He is.” Cassey and Paulina said at the same time, starring at the couple like they were the reason behind the accident.
“That’s enough.” Humphrey Saunders sternly warned the kids and sent them straight into silence.

“Just get straight to the point doc.” Oliver wasted no time in the doctor’s office. “How much damage?” 
“She hurt her head pretty badly Mr Cooper.” The doctor explained, turning to translate the images on the screen behind him. Most of the impact occurred around here….her injuries caused blood to collect between the skull and the surface of her brain, causing what we call a subdural haematoma. 
“Basically, the blood vessels here…in the spaces between the skull and her brain where damaged, but we fixed that damage.”
“So she’s not going to suffer from any long term effects?” Oliver asked.
“That I can’t state with certainty until she regain consciousness and we observe her.” The doctor said. “Fortunately for her, she was wearing one of the latest ASTM approved equestrian headgear that protects the rider’s head from a fall of 300G’s. The helmet’s shock absorbing liner slowed down the force of the impact which protected her brain from incurring further damage.”
“Just tell me, is she going to recover fully from this? I mean-“
“She’s out of danger right now sir.” The doctor reassured him. “But like I said, we can only know for sure the extent of the damage once she regains consciousness. Some patients that have suffered that kind of brain damage have been known to experience difficulties in thinking, processing information, difficulties with speech, and others, memory loss.”
Oliver finally heard the words he had been dreading to hear; memory loss.
“I thought you said that she fixed the damage.” He said.
“We did. I am not saying that Alex will suffer this things, those are just possible side effects of brain damages. Not every patient experiences that. For most, it’s just dizziness and headaches every now and then and they don’t last more than three months.  We intend to keep Alex under observation until we are sure she is in the clear.”
“When is she likely to regain consciousness?” 
“Right now, that depends on her will. She had lost consciousness before the haematoma.”
“So what does that mean?”
“It means we have to wait and see how badly she wants to return to the people that care about her. However, given the extent of her damage, we should expect to have her back with us any time soon.”
“Can we see her now?” Oliver asked.
 
Alex regained consciousness two days later.
Oliver had not left her side except when he needed to relieve himself and those trips too did not take long. He was right there by her side the night she opened her eyes and the only thing he could do was cry. He could not remember there ever being a time when he cried so hard out of joy. In that moment, it did not matter whether she remembered him or not. All that mattered was that she lived.
Alex was alive. 
Oliver refused to leave the room when the doctor came to examine her. He stood by the side watching every moment and waiting to see her look of recognition.
“Alex, do you remember what happened to you?” Doctor Mitchel asked.
“Oliver, I want to see Oliver.” 
Oliver felt the heavens open up and pour honey all over him. This was his mitacle.
“Baby, am here. I’m right here,” He sat right next to her and wrapped his ahnds around her, kissing her on every spot he could land his lips on. “I’m right here with you my love.” 
“What took you so long?” She asked him.
“I am very sorry my love.” Oliver cried, his tears of regret pouring unendingly. 
“I kept calling your name, you didn’t come. I thought that if I closed my eyes and shut out everything else, I thought I would get to see you. I opened eyes again and there you where.”
Oliver couldn’t say anything. He buried his face into her chest and sobbed. It was the very thing that he had feared would wipe away her memories that safely locked them away and saved them. Will he ever understand her beautiful mind?
“I love you, I love you Alex. Gosh I love you so much.” He kept repeating, his head still buried in her chest.
“Okay, I hear you Oliver Cooper but please, you are squeezing me so tight I can hardly breath.”
Oliver bolted upright immediately, he removed his arms from around her and kissed her on the lips. 
“I smell like a hospital.” She put her hand over her mouth. 
“That’s the smell that has brought you back to me.” Oliver said. Then he turned to the doctor who was the one standing in the corner now. “Thank you so much for saving her.” 
“I am not responsible for saving her,” Doctor Mitchel said. “I simply did my part to help the one that’s responsible for giving her that life.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about doc but either way, I am glad whoever that is used you and not anyone else.”
“Me too.” The doctor proudly answered. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I would like to do a few more tests and examine her thoroughly now that she’s awake.”
“Yes, I’ll get out of your way by all means. Please bring her back to me fully complete. No missing pieces, please.”
“Don’t go.” Alex pleaded, holding on to Oliver’s hand.
“I am not going very far love. I will be right outside the door.”
The moment Oliver stepped outside, he found his PA Morgan waiting for him with a very nervous Doctor Russel standing beside him.
“What’s going on here?” Oliver asked. “Professor, what are you doing here?”
“I think we need to sit somewhere and talk sir.” Morgan said, leading the way towards the hospital café upstairs. 
“I need to call my son and everyone else first,” Oliver, said, reaching for his phone. “Alex is awake, she’s dying to see everyone.”
“I already called them sir.” Morgan informed him. “I heard what was going on inside when we came and I called Anton and he called everyone else. They should be here any minute from now.”
Oliver put his phone back in his pocket. “Good job Morgan.” He said.
“I take it this has something to do with Alex’s accident right?” Oliver didn’t waste time once they were seated. He was glaring at Cathy’s father. 
“It took everything for me to come here and face you like this,” the professor said. “But it was something that needed to be done.”
“I know that accident was not just an accident and I know who was behind it.” Oliver said. “I am sure the put I’ve put in charge of the investigations will prove everything soon. There is no ned for you to come here and put up a show me sir.”
“That’s the thing Mr C.” Morgan spoke up. “The professor isn’t here to make an excuses or anything of that sort.”
“I came here to apologize,” Professor Russel said.
Oliver threw him a quizzical look. 
“I know it was my daughter and wife who hired people to sabotage Alex.” The doctor said. “I have proof and I already delivered it to the right authorities. My wife is in custody as we speak.”
“What about your daughter?” Oliver asked.
“My wife and I are the reason why our daughter turned out the way she is.” The professor said. “What my daughter needs is help and the only way she can get that help is if the person that keeps influencing her badly is out of the way.
“There is no hope for Matilda,” the doctor continued. “There is no end to her bitterness and envy so perhaps forcing her to take responsibility of her actions will help her see just how much damage she’s caused both Alex and our daughter.”
“I must admit I didn’t see this kind of development coming.” Oliver said. 
“I know I seem like such a heartless man but I did what I did out of love.” Doctor Russel said. “This is the first ever bold decision I’ve made as a husband and as a father. It needed to be done.”
“So your wife is in police custody as we speak?” Oliver asked.
“Yes, she was taken a few hours ago and my daughter is at a rehabilitation centre. I am hoping that I can give her a brand new start once she gets out. I owe it to her.”

“I feel for that poor man.” Morgan said as he and Oliver walked back to Alex’s room. 
“I guess we all have to take responsibility for our actions at some point don’t we?” Oliver said. 
“You don’t feel anything for him do you?”
“His family tried to kill my wife, twice.”
“Sir, she’s not yet your wife.”
The glare that Oliver sent Morgan’s way almost froze the young man to ice. “She is going to be my wife the moment she leaves this place. And you’re not invited to the wedding.” He took long strides forward, leaving a startled Morgan to run after him, protesting the judgment render upon him. 
They found the whole crew in Alex’s room; Anton, George, Duncan, Paulina and Cassey. 
“Isn’t there a limit or something as to number of people that can visit a patient at once?” Oliver asked.
“Dad, don’t be such a spoil spot,” Anton retorted. “We were all dying to see her and the doctor allowed it. She might be your woman but we are all her family.”
“Relax son, that was a joke.” Oliver said. “Why are you being all sensitive? I thought you would be happy Alex is awake.”
“I am,” Anton said. ”But she just told us how the accident happened and I am forced to belief that it wasn’t just a mere accident. That guide must have wrapped her leg around the-“
“You’re right.” His father said.
Everyone turned to look at him, including Alex. 
“I am just from meeting the professor, Doctor Russel.” Oliver said. “He just confirmed that it was indeed his wife and doctor that were behind everything. He reported his wife to the authorities, she took responsibility for everything so that her daughter could be admitted at an institution to get the necessary help she needs.” 
“I knew that bitch had-“ Paulina rushed to put her hand over Cassey’s voice before she finished mouthing off expletives. 
“She actually does have a name Cassey,” Oliver laughed. 
“If it barks like a dog….” George said, deliberately looking down to avoid Oliver while everyone else tried hard to stifle their laughter. 
“I am so happy to see all of you here.” Alex said. “I was convinced I was going to die out there that day. It was…just…the worst, ever.”
TWO WEEKS LATER
Alex opened her eyes to find Oliver’s face right above hers, his eyes were teary.
“Why, what’s wrong?” She asked, sitting up slowly.
Oliver put his arms around her. “I just can’t believe that you’re right here in my house…in my bed.” He slowly let released her. “You looked so peaceful sleeping,” he said, pulling her long red hair behind her ears. “I kept asking myself why I wasted so much time being a coward when I am this crazy about you.”
Alex smiled and landed a kiss hard on his lips. “You were always meant to be mine,” she said. “You just needed time to come to terms with reality.”
Oliver chuckled. “How’s your head today?”
“I don’t feel dizzy at all.” She said. “Let me try to stand.” 
He carefully helped her out of bed. “Can you walk?” He asked.
Alex laughed. “I’m not an invalid Oliver. I can walk just fine.” And she walked around the room. “Totally fine!” She announced proudly, her arms wide open. “I haven’t felt dizzy in two days now. I only feel like that when I’ve been standing for too long or when I have to concentrate on something for a long time.”
“Are you sure?” He asked.
In response, she ran the short space that separated them and jumped on him, her arms wrapped tightly around his neck while her legs encircled his waist. She kissed him again.
“This is what I get for falling for a woman twenty years younger.” He said jokingly. “I need to triple my work out time lest I break my back loving you woman.” 
Alex laughed. “I like your body just fine Mr.” She assured him. I Know twenty year olds that would kill to have a body like yours. And, there’s only eighteen years between us, not twenty.”
“Still the same thing!” 
“No it’s not,” she insisted, slowly lifting his t-shirt up.
“And what do you think you’re doing?” Oliver held her hands in place.
“I’ve been in your bed a whole week and you haven’t touched me!” Alex complained. 
“That’s because you’re a patient Alex.” He reminded her.
“But I feel fine now.” 
“The doctor said you need to take it easy. I have zero intentions of taking it easy with you the first time we are together so, am being patient here. Don’t tempt me woman.” He dropped her hands and started walking towards the door. “Breakfast is ready,” he announced. “Freshen up and come downstairs.”
Alex couldn’t hear anything else he was saying. her face had turned red from blushing. 
“You will burn up from all that blushing.” Oliver’s head appeared through the door, a proud smirk on his face. “Hurry before the food gets cold.” He said and disappeared again.  
An hour later, Oliver was driving them around town.
“Where are you taking me?” Alex asked the umpteenth time.
“I’m going to give you a treat,” he repeated what he had already said a thousand times. “Just trust me and relax.”
“How can I relax when I don’t even know where am going. I hope you are not taking me to one of those gathering with your rich friends.”
Oliver laughed. “Whatever happened to trust in this relationship?”
“You know me,” she said. “I always get nervous when am in the dark about something.”
“I just thought it would be a good idea for you to get some beauty treatment after everything you’ve been through.” He said. “The scratches on your face are almost gone so it wouldn’t hurt to get an intensive beauty care; massage, manicure and whatever else that you girls do.”
She finally relaxed. “Is that all?” She said. “You could have just said so in the first place why the secrecy?” 
“It’s the place we are going to that’s the surprise.” Oliver said. “Here, open that.” He pointed to the glove compartment in front of her. “Get that scarf and tie it around your eyes.” 
“What?” Alex paused, her hand holding open the glove compartment. 
“Just humor me, okay?” Oliver pleaded. 
“Fine.” She finally gave in and did as instructed. “It better be a place like heaven on earth otherwise-“
“Tighten your seatbelt love,” Oliver said as he increased speed. “There’s no going back from here!”
“What do you mean-“
“Remember what I said about trust?”
Alex laughed. “That’s blackmail, emotional blackmail.” 
“And isn’t it sweet?” He laughed heartily, squeezing her hand lightly. 

“Are we there yet?” Alex asked thirty minutes later when she felt the car slow down.
“Almost,” Oliver answered before finally coming to a stop. “Just stay put, I’ll get the door for you. You’re not taking off that thing till we are inside.”
“Aye captain,” she teased and waited for him to come around. 
Five minutes later, Alex felt the scarf being lifted off her face. “Paulina? Cassey? What are you guys doing here?” Alex asked her two friends who were standing in front of her wearing huge smiles on their faces. 
“You didn’t think you were the only one getting a beauty treatment did you?” Cassey said. 
“I’m going to leave you ladies alone while I locate my boys and have our own version of fun.” Oliver said. “Ladies,” he was looking at Cassey and Paulina.  “The two of you already know what this place is so please, make sure my woman is well taken care off. Paulina, I have no doubt you know where all the boutiques are located, do your worst.” 
“That’s what I like to hear!” Paulina said excitedly.
“What is this place?” Alex asked, scanning the place. “Where exactly are we?”
“Paulina, that’s you.” Oliver said, trusting she would do the explaining better than anyone else. “I will see you ladies later.”
“Babe, are you leaving just like that?” Alex protested. 
Oliver walked back and kissed her passionately. “Can I go now?” He asked.
Smiling, “but of course.” Alex answered.
“So what’s this place you guys?” Alex asked the girls once they were alone.
“This place is called the Beauty Kingdom,” Cassey explained. “This is the place you come to if you are seeking the ultimate beauty care.”
“It has everything in one place,” Paulina added. “Boutiques, parlours, bars, VIP lounge, you name it. Everything is here and everything is designed to suit the taste of that 1% special population.”
“And we, thanks to you our dear lovely friend have been inaugurated into that 1% class of the privileged.” Cassey said proudly, tossing her hair smugly to the side. 
“So what’s our first stop?” Alex asked.
“2nd floor, facials and then massages.” Paulina said. 
“Let’s go!”
Once their bodies where fully taken care of and they had lunch, the girls went shopping for clothes.
“In here,” Paulina pulled her two friends into a bridal shop.
“This is a bridal shop.” Alex noted the obvious.
“Yes, and what better time to do some research than now?” Paulina said.
“We haven’t even set a date yet so-“
“So?” Cassey asked. “C’mon, don’t be such a party pooper Alex. Let’s have some fun while we at it. who knows. Maybe you might even find your dream wedding dress here.” 
They didn’t give her any time to protest further, Cassey and Paulina went straight into hunting mode. Alex sighed in resignation, turned around to follow them and was immediately awe-struck by the dress she saw in front of her.
“I know that look.” Paulina said, grabbing her friend Cassey so they can watch in silence Alex examine the dress closely. 
“Good afternoon ma’am,” the shop assistant greeted her, ready to assist her.
“I want this dress,” Alex told the young lady who was about her age. “I want this dress. Paulina! Cassey!”
The two girls appeared beside her in no time. “Wooow.” Paulina said. “This is like one of those dresses you see in a Disney animation film, is this for real?” She asked, feeling the dress and examining it everywhere. 
“I can totally see you in this one Alex.” Cassey said. 
“Yes,” Alex said. “I want it.” She stated matter-of-factly.
“But you haven’t even seen the rest of the dresses.” Paulina reminded her. “What if there’s-“
“No, it has to be this one.” Alex insisted. “I don’t know what it is about this dress but everything about it is exactly what I ever dreamt about. I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight if I don’t have this dress. This is what I want to wear on my wedding guys. This dress, not any other.”
“Well, then it’s time to do the fitting!” Cassey said excitedly and then turned to the shop assistant. “Do you guys do all that styling and what not, just to see how she might look on the actual day with her hair done and all?”
The shop assistant was all smiles. “Actually, we do. Please, follow me this way.”
Cassey and Paulina grabbed Alex’s hand and followed the lady behind.
“Isn’t this exciting?” Cassey said. “I feel like we are in a movie or something.”
“I need to call Oliver and-“ Alex was about to call when Paulina grabbed her phone from her and put it away. “What are you doing?” Alex asked. 
“This is girl’s time, I warned you already!” Paulina said. oYour man is somewhere around here so what are you fussing about? You will see him soon.”
“I just wanted to tell him that I’ve found my dress.” Alex said. “Give me back my phone.”
“No chance,” Paulina said. “They’re waiting.” She pointed to the shop assistants waiting for them inside the dressing room. 
Thirty minutes later, Alex was a bride looking about ready to walk down the aisle.
“You are very beautiful Ms Saunders.” Janet Evans, the make-up artist stood back and admired the work of her hands. 
“I think I look beautiful too.” Alex said, admiring her own reflection. And then she noticed something she hadn’t noticed immediately. “You guys?” She looked back at her two friends. “Oh my God you look…what time did you guys change?”
Laughing, Paulina gave herself a sweep over in front of the mirror. “I think we found our dream dresses too.” She said. 
“I think I have the sexiest bridesmaids in the whole world.” Alex said proudly.
“Of course you do.” Cassey agreed, laughing. 
Alex got up and went to stand in between her friends. “Janet, please take a picture of us. We need to look exactly like this on my wedding.”
“Before you take the pic,” Paulina said, grabbing her friends by the hand. “There’s one last thing remaining.” Paulina said.
“What?” Cassey and Alex asked at the same time.
“Follow me ladies.” Paulina said, leading the girls out of the store.
“Is it okay to leave with the dresses on?” Alex asked, trying to stop lest they got in trouble.
“Sweetie, they already know who you are and they know where to find you in case we decide to run away with their billion dollar dresses and jewellery.”
“I see your point.” Alex said. “Wont people think we are going for a wedding or something?” She started laughing. “We look like-“
“We look about ready for marriage don’t we?” Cassey joined her in laughing. 
“Here!” Paulina came to a stop in front of a closed double door entrance. “Once we enter in here, there’s no turning back.” She addressed Alex and Cassey.
“Why do those words sound so familiar?” Alex tried to recall where she had heard the same thing.
“Are you ready ladies?” Paulina asked.
“Where are you taking us?” Alex asked.
“To get you hitched silly.” Paulina answered and quickly flung the doors wide open. 
“Oh my gosh….” Alex’s jaw dropped to the floor. “Oh my gosh….” She kept repeating, tears flowing down her cheeks. 
“It was a god thing the used waterproof make-up.” Cassey noted under her breath but loud enough for her two friends to hear.
They were standing right at the edge of a longest red-carpeted aisle Alex had ever seen and right at the far end stood Oliver, fully clad in black suit and smiling like a man who had just caught a glimpse of heaven. The huge hall was almost empty, if not for the few faces in the front rows. Alex could recognize almost every face in the room. It was the perfect wedding and the perfect set-up.
“How, When, how….??” The questions where written all over Alex’s face. 
“We acted very well didn’t we?” Paulina whispered into her ear. “You didn’t see this one coming did you?” 
“You got me, real good. I am going to kill you after this you guys, all of you.”
“That means you will be turning into a widow right after your marriage,” Cassey said. “Because we were all working under strict instructions from that man over there looking like he’s about to die from happiness.”
“Alex-“ It was Humphrey Saunders, ready to walk his daughter down the aisle. “Let’s not keep the poor man waiting any longer.” He positioned his arm and Alex put hers through.
“Take me to my man dad.” Alex said.
Humphrey Saunders froze. “You’ve never called me dad before.” He said.
“Savour it, because it will never happen again. I am just extremely happy right now I could hug a horse.”
Mr Saunders fought back the tears and walked his daughter down the aisle. 

*** 

Epilogue
“How do I look?” Alex was looking at herself in the mirror in the hallway while Anton watched. “Can she really tell who I am?”
“Your whole face is drowning under those glasses.” Anton said. “It’s just that red hair of yours, that’s a very loud telling sign she won’t buy it.”
“Am I the only woman with red hair?” She asked. “This is a solid look.”
“I only know two natural red-heads with healthy long hair.” Anton said.
“Oh, aren’t you lucky to have such lovely mothers sweetheart?” Alex asked sarcastically. 
“I told you never to-“
“Yeah yeah I know, hold your horses she’s here.” She quickly turned to give her back to the girl approaching them. “You better put your arm around me right-“
Anton put his arm around her before she could even finish the sentence. Alex half-turned her body towards Anton and started working on his hair playfully. The two of them were like a pair of very enthusiastic lovers.
Alex first heard the footsteps get louder and before she knew it, her hand which was touching Anton’s hair was yanked away by a very strong grip.
“What the hell is going on here?” The girl was glaring at Alex. For a girl with very soft-spoken features, she had one hell of a death grip and death glare. 
“You’re hurting me.” Alex said in a very controlled tone.
“Who the hell is she?” The girl asked Anton. “You will never change Antonio. Tell me who the hell she is before I break every bone in her body.”
“Is that so?” Oliver said, appearing on the scene out of nowhere.
“Mr Cooper-“ the girl quickly dropped Alex’s hand and took a step back. 
“You must be Elizabeth,” Oliver said, reaching out his hand to her. 
She nervously shook his hand. “Yes, but you can just call me Beth.”
“Hi Beth,” Oliver said. “I see you’ve met my wife already.” He pointed at Alex.
Anton was grinning triumphantly. “Beth, meet my step-mother, Alex.”
Alex took off her huge shades and smiling, she extended her hand to Elizabeth. “And here my dear Anton thought you’re incapable of being jealous.” She chuckled when she felt Elizabeth’s sweaty palm as they shook hands. “My money,” Alex opened her hand towards Anton the moment she was done shaking Elizabeth’s hand. 
“Ah…what’s going on here?” A visibly shaken Elizabeth asked. 
“What you see here is my wife winning a waver against my son.” Oliver explained as Anton removed a hundred bucks from his wallet and handed it to Alex. “Anton here said that he had never seen you act jealous and Alex said it was only because the right circumstances had not yet presented themselves.”
“What?” Elizabeth was slowly starting to feel stupid for falling straight into their trap. 
“I am a psychologist,” Alex explained. “He told me a little bit about your personality and it didn’t appear to me that you were the type that would just turn and walk away after seeing your man in a somewhat compromising situation.
“You’ve been acting unbothered by the many women around him because you don’t want to come off as being insecure but am gonna let you in on a little secret; it’s okay to get jealous once in a while. It doesn’t mean we are anything less when we do. It just means we are a little selfish with our love, and it’s very normal to feel like that.”
“I am not really sure what to say,” Elizabeth said. “I don’t know if I should get angry or if I should feel stupid for falling for this-“
“How about both?” Alex asked.
“Huh?” Elizabeth said.
The three Coopers laughed. 
“How about we first go in for dinner and we can deal with this matter after we are full?” Oliver said, took Alex’s hand and led the group into the restaurant. 
“I will get you for this.” Elizabeth whispered to Anton, squeezing his hand hard for effect.
“That’s exactly what Alex meant.” Anton chuckled. 

“How do you manage to address her as your step mum when you guys are the same age?” Elizabeth later asked Anton when he was dropping her off at her apartment.
“Who said I call her that?” Anton asked. 
“You did when you were introducing her.”
“Yes, but that’s that. The rest of the time she’s Alex.” He said. “It’s a fact she’s my step-mother and I have to introduce her as such to people but between us she’s just Alex my best friend.”
“Your best friend ah?” Elizabeth said in a very tight tone.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Anton asked, turning his body fully to look at her. “Are you being jealous right now?” He started laughing. 
“She’s young, and she’s hot.” Elizabeth admitted. “You have no idea how intimidating it was to sit on the same table with a woman like that.”
“Alex is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet.” Anton said.
“That’s the thing!” his girlfriend said. “She was very nice and welcoming and yet for some reason it made me not like very much…and at the same time I liked her very much. I know am not making any sense.”
Anton laughed. “I know exactly what you mean babe.” He said, taking her hand and kissing it. “There’s absolutely no need for you to feel jealous or anything like that. Alex is the best thing that has happened to my father in a very long time and he means the world to her as well.
“I know you probably heard about the scandals in the past but I respect the both of them so the past is just that, the past. You have nothing to worry about, I promise you. If you don’t trust me, at least have faith in my father. he wouldn’t be with Alex if he didn’t trust her.”
“I know all that,” Elizabeth said. “I guess am just being a typical woman tonight.”
“It must have been hard for you hiding your jealousness all this while because woman you’re on fire tonight!” Anton laughed.
Elizabeth buried her face in the palms of her hands in embarrassment. Anton reached over to her and put his arms around her. 

Oliver and Alex quietly tip-toed up the stairs and stood outside the bedroom door. “Think he’s sleeping or reading a book under the sheets?” Alex asked Oliver.
“Most likely the latter,” Oliver answered and slowly opened the door. He turned on the light only to reveal an empty bed before them. 
“I think I know where he is.” Alex said and led the way back downstairs. 
“The light is still one do you think they’re still awake this time?” Oliver asked as they stood by the door.
“Let’s find out,” Alex knocked lightly on the door and when no response came, she opened the door and they entered. 
As expected, before them on the bed lay Sam, fast asleep with a book on his chest. To his left was a heavily pregnant Cassey, also in deep sleep and between them a five year old boy, his legs spread over the two adults on his sides.
“Isn’t this just the perfect family portrait?” Alex said, a smile on her face as she took in the scene before them. 
Upon hearing her voice, Sam opened his eyes and sat up. “You guys are back.” He said, checking the two people sleeping beside him. “What time is it?” He asked, lifting his hand to check his watch. “I have no idea what time we slept.”
“I can definitely guess who slept first.” Alex said, gestured her head towards Cassey who had not even flinched in the slightest despite the noise in the room.
“Mum! Dad!” The five year old jumped off the bed and ran straight into his mother’s arms. 
“Noah!” Alex planted kissed all over her son’s face.
Finally, Cassey was forced awake by Noah’s movements. “Can’t a girl get some sleep in this place?” She complained. 
Four years ago at an end of year party hosted by Alex and Oliver, Cassey had approached Sam and told him; “If you want to get over Alex, sleep with me you poor broken-hearted man.”
Before the drunk Sam could respond, Cassey’s lips where on him and after that he could not get rid of her. She was not anything close to what he would have imagined having as a wife…or let alone a girlfriend but for some strange reason, something about her had kept drawing him to her and three years ago he asked her to marry him and she said yes. The two of them were crushing at the Cooper mansion while their home was being fumigated. 
“Why aren’t you sleeping in your room young man?” Oliver asked his son. 
“I didn’t want to be alone.” Noah answered defiantly. 
“You’ve always slept alone.” Oliver reminded him. “How did you manage before your aunt and uncle came here?”
“I can manage when I have no choice but why suffer when I have options?” The boy fired back.
“Alex, you’ve damaged that child,” Cassey said laughing. “No five year old should sound and argue like that.”
“I keep telling her.” Oliver said, and reaching for his son he said, “Come, let’s get you to bed.” He took him from his mother. “You should get some sleep you two, sorry for disturbing you.” He held the door open for Alex.
“Good night guys.” Alex said and walked passed her husband and son.
“Good night to you too.” Sam and Cassey said at once. 
“Dad, can I also get a baby sister?” Noah asked as they headed up the stairs. 
“What?” Oliver asked, taken aback by the question. 
“Aunt Cassey said that she will be having a baby girl.” The five year old said. “I think it would be fun to have a baby sister I can protect. My friend Mark has two baby sisters so he is always acting like the adult in our group. I want to be the adult too.”
Alex and Oliver laughed. 
“There’s a hypothesis we could test.” Alex said suggestively.
“No chance!” Oliver said.
“Well, you can’t blame a girl for trying.” Alex said, laughing as she followed father and son behind. 

THE END. 

                                       

An Untimely Love – Part 15

An Untimely Love – Part 15

By the time the three friends were done drinking and chatting, it was very late in the night and Duncan offered to drive Alex home. He put her bicycle in the back of his car. Each to their own thoughts, the music filled all the spaces in the car. Every now and then Duncan would steal glances at his friend just to check if she was alright but he dared not say a word because he didn’t trust he would have the right words to say to her given the drama going on in her life. He was just happy to help her out from the side lines and offer her a shoulder of support whenever she needed it. 

Alex’s mind was going over the conversation she had had with Anton concerning Oliver. If ever Alex had underestimated the bond between son and father, Anton’s words about his father’s feelings and fears awakened her to viewing their relationship in a whole new light. How come she had not considered all those things Anton had mentioned before? She had always been too quick to vent and lash out at Oliver, calling him a coward when the truth looked like something that had not even crossed her imagination.
She too knew something about Oliver. And she knew every word Anton had said was true. The question now was, how was she ever to convince that dumb man that her feelings for him were not misplaced and that they would last forever? 
That whole night, Alex pondered that question only for the answer to come to her in the early hours of the morning; Dr Sanjay. 
“I usually question my feelings whenever a patient of mine voluntarily pays me a visit after a while. Should I celebrate progress or should I get worried?” The good doctor asked Alex that morning as they sat in her office. 
Alex chuckled. “Maybe both?” She said.
“What brings you here Alex?” 
“Oliver.” She simply stated, not beating around the bush.
Dr Sanjay laughed. “I see you are not wasting any time today. What about Oliver?” 
“He won’t admit his feelings for me.”
“Aah, I see.”
“You are the only person I know that can help me with this one doc.”
“How exactly do I-“
“You can tell me what to do?” She cut her off before she could finish. “I know you are good with such things so please, help me.” She begged. “I think I know why he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me but I just don’t know how to make him see that he has nothing to worry about.”
“Why do you think he doesn’t want to be with you romantically?”
“Maybe he’s afraid, he thinks my feelings are misplaced, that I am confused and that maybe one day I will realize it and our relationship will be ruined. Maybe he’s worried about the nineteen years between us or maybe he’s not confident we can work out.”
Doctor Sanjay sat up straight, hands held together. “Did you ever consider the possibility that he might not return your feelings?” She asked. “What makes you so sure that he’s in-love with you?”
The question threw Alex off-guard. This too, she had not stopped to question. What made her so sure he was in-love with her?
“It’s his eyes, his heartbeat, his warm embrace, and most of all his words.” Alex answered. “Every time he says it, he negates it with a reason as to why we can never work. I never thought much of it before but now that you’ve mentioned it, he has told me how he feels about me many times. I was just too busy focusing on other things to actually hear his heart.”
The doctor smiled. “Then I think my work here is done isn’t it?”
“No!” Alex said, almost jumping in her chair. “I want to know what I can do to completely win him over so that he can stop questioning and worrying about everything.”
“How about using his very fears to your advantage Alex?”  Dr Sanjay asked. 
“His fears?” Alex asked.
“How patient are you?” The doctor asked.
“I think I am a very patient woman.”
“Good,” Doctor Sanjay said. “Then how about focusing all your energies on graduating first, securing a job and then winning your man later?” 
“Huh?” Alex thought the doctor had lost her mind. 
She laughed. “Exactly that,” she said. “Oliver thinks that your feelings are just a phase which will come to pass and the only way you can prove that they will not be going away any time soon is if you allow time to pass.”
“And what if he moves on and forgets about me while am busy bidding time?”
“Then you have to do something to make sure he doesn’t forget you.”
“I thought you said I have to stay away from him?” Alex lamented. “How the hell do I ensure he doesn’t forget me while am doing everything possible to stay away from him?”
Doctor Sanjay laughed. She picked up her phone from her desk and held it up. “We live in the age of technology Alex. With this little thing, we can create memories in a thousand places whilst being in one.”
Alex raised both her eyebrows, wondering what the hell the doctor was getting at. 
“Wanna give it a try?” Doctor Sanjay asked.
Excitement slowly lit Alex’s face. “Oh hell!” She said. 

**** 

Months went by after Alex’s meeting with Doctor Sanjay and she and Oliver had not met in person. Oliver knew something had changed when a week went by and he had not heard from Alex. He had not even heard any news about her and Sam and from his end, it appeared the two of them were no longer a newsworthy item. Sam was consumed in his work, taking up more projects than usual and the only communication that existed between them was a like or comment on each other’s Instagram every now and then. It appeared the two of them were still friends, but that was about it. So why was Alex keeping a distance from him?
Did she finally give up on him? Oliver wondered one late evening after a long day of directing a short film in Paris. 
“Have you heard from Alex recently?” Oliver finally broke down and asked his PA.
Morgan gave him a puzzled look. “Ah?” The question was unexpected but the PA was quick to put two and two together. Aaah, so it that why you’ve been grumpy this past couple of weeks? He thought, smiling to himself.
“I’m just worried that maybe she’s fallen into depression or something after everything that was going on.” Oliver explained. “It’s just not normal for her to go this quiet on everyone.”
“Have you tried calling her?” Morgan asked. 
Oliver cleared his throat uncomfortably. “The last time we spoke I said something…something that pissed her off so-“ He was thinking about the response he had sent to her message informing him about her date with Sam. He didn’t need to see her face to know her reaction. 
“Last time I spoke to her she said she would be busy with her thesis and upcoming graduation so-“
“You spoke to her!?” Oliver asked. 
“Yes,” Morgan said. “She actually called to ask me how you were doing last week, said she couldn’t get in touch with you.”
“Huh?” Oliver removed is phone from his pocket and closely examined it. “But my phone doesn’t have a problem.” He said and started scrolling down his call log. “See, I haven’t received any call from her.”
“Sir, why don’t you just call her if you miss her that much?” Morgan said, unable to hold himself any longer. 
Oliver starred at him in disbelief but said nothing in response.
Exactly five minutes later, Oliver’s eyes almost jumped out of their sockets when Alex’s name and face appeared on his phone screen. She was video calling him.
“Talk of the devil,” Oliver said to Morgan who was busy sorting out his clothes in the hotel closet. His eyes were glued unflinchingly on the phone, every part of his body frozen.
“I think you are supposed to answer that,” Morgan paused his activities and looked at his boss. “You slide your finger across the screen from left to right.” He said sarcastically and won himself a warning shot from Oliver. 
“Get out!” Oliver said and went to grab him by the collar to help him out quickly. 
Morgan laughed. “I’ll come and finish the rest later.” He said and quickly ushered himself out the rest of the way. 
“Oliveeeer!!!” A visibly excited and happy Alex appeared on Oliver’s screen. She was standing outside on some balcony Oliver had never seen before. She was playfully hanging against the pillar, her back pressed against it and her head and the whole upper part of her body leaning further backwards as she held her phone high up in front of her. Oliver could make out the cars parked down on the ground from the higher ground she was standing on.
“Alex….” He said. “Where the devil are you and what are you doing?”
Alex adjusted her earphones and pushed her hair away from her face as the wind kept blowing it all over the place. She lowered the camera slightly to reveal her attire. “I am at work!” She shouted, revealing her white coat. 
Oliver laughed. “Why are you shouting?”
“It’s very windy up here!” She said.
“Isn’t there some place else you can talk from?”
She laughed. “There is but this is the only place I can stand and shout what I want to shout to you!”
“You want to shout to me?” Oliver asked.
“Yes!” She screamed. “I MISS YOU VERY MUCH OLIVER COOPER!” She shouted.
Her words were sudden and unexpected, made his heart skip a beat but he quickly recovered. “Is that why you’ve been so quiet lately? Hard to believe your words.” 
“You’re the one who’s been quiet!” She said. “I sent you a message but you haven’t replied up to now.”
“What message Alex? I didn’t receive any-“
“Check your computer. I gotto go back inside now. Love you, bring back something nice for me from there!” And she ended the call before he could say anything in return. 
“My computer?” Oliver asked himself and went over to his temporary desk on the other side of the room. He turned on his laptop and the moment it came on he saw it; a folder in the corner named Message from Alex.
“How come I didn’t see this till now?” He asked himself out loud and opened the folder. 
“A video?” He was literally talking to himself. He pressed play. 

I knew it would take you this long to see this, tsk tsk tsk.

Oliver, Oliver, my dear Oliver, always slow aren’t we? *she laughs*

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I love you with all my heart and nothing in this world is ever going to change that; not time, not age, not distance, and not even you. I love you Oliver. Take care. 

“This child….” Oliver was shaking his head after watching the video, a huge grin on his face. He was smiling like that when he caught his reflection through the mirror by the dresser and he quickly straightened his face, as if afraid of being seeing by someone.
“What am I doing?” He said and quickly stood up, closing the laptop in the process. “…making a grown man act like a teenager.” He said, shaking his head. 
A few minutes later, he sent this to Alex; Saw the video, thanks kiddo. Take care of yourself too. After that day, a whole week went by and he never heard from Alex, only for her to randomly appear in his inbox the day he got back in town from Paris. 
Send someone to deliver my souvenir at Anton’s place! 😉 

I’m meeting him later today. The keys are at the usual spot. 

Thanks in advance Oliver!
Her tone was chirpy as usual, as if nothing had ever happened. 
And just like that the messages kept randomly coming from Alex when Oliver least expected them too. Once every week she would either send a text message or video message and then she would disappear for weeks only to appear randomly again as if nothing had happened. Her behaviour was so strange that when he couldn’t take the wondering any more, Oliver called her and asked to have dinner but to his surprise, she turned him down. 
“I have to work that day.” She had said. “I’ll be busy these coming weeks as well. Will let you know whenever I find time.” And always, she was the first to end the calls. She had not told him she loved him ever since she made him watch her video on his laptop. The most intimate thing she kept saying to him was that she missed him, that and jokingly wishing him a sunny day on a very wet day. 
Unable to comprehend Alex’s new change, Oliver was tormented each passing day as he wondered whether a text or video message would come from her. Alex had blocked much of her private life from the public eye, only going online when she had to do some form of research. If he did not make an effort to inquire about her well-being, then he would have absolutely no means of knowing how she was doing. and unfortunately, her responses to him were always delivered in the same tone and when she could not smile she always ended the calls with the excuse of being busy or with company. 
And thus, months went by until time came for Anton and Alex to graduate. Despite going out of his way to make sure he gave the two the best ever graduation dinner, Oliver couldn’t help wondering whether Alex or would show up or not.
“She will be here soon dad,” Anton said as he came to stand next to his father who had been standing close to the door keeping watch of everyone coming in. 
“What are you talking about?” Oliver feigned ignorance, quickly taking the glass of wine his son was handing him and drowning the contents like it was a mere glass of water. 
Anton was looking at him with a bemused expression on his face. “You are acting like a man about to propose dad. Just out of curiosity, did you try calling her to find out what’s taking her so long to get here?” 
“No.” Oliver curtly stated. “Maybe it’s the bloody awful people looking like they’re having the time of their lives, without shame,” he was looking at over at the complete Saunders family, father, mother and Alex’s four siblings. “How can they be so comfortable here of all places? Look at them-“
“Didn’t you invite them here?” Anton asked.
“Only because I didn’t think they would actually come!” Oliver said.
Anton laughed. “All these years and you still don’t know those people.” He was shaking his head. “Anyway, I already spoke to Alex. She went to see off some friends of hers at the airport.”
“What friends?” his father asked.
“Michelle and Josh,” he answered. “The doctors she met at the hospital where she works?” He added upon seeing his father’s confused expression. “She didn’t tell you about them?” 
“She’s been avoiding me so how do you expect me to know about the new people in her life?”
“Ey, don’t take it out on me.” Anton laughed. “I have always been her best friend and you…you’re just the guy hiding in the shadows scared to show your real self to her.”
“Watch it son.” Oliver joked.
“Aren’t you the one who raised me to always speak my mind?” Anton asked. “I stepped aside to give the both of you some freedom but you still haven’t gathered courage dad. Haven’t I taught you anything?” 
Oliver smacked him lightly in the back of the head. “Get me another-“ he was about to hand him the glass when in walked Alex. 
Anton didn’t need to ask what was wrong with his father as everything was written all over his face. He turned towards the door and found Alex smiling at them.
“I’m so sorry am late!” She sounded out of breath. 
“Alex!” Cassey appeared with the rest of the gang behind her. “I was about to follow you to the airport!”
“There was crazy traffic guys,” she said. “Anyway, am here now so, let the party start!” She lifted her arms in the air and went straight for the dance floor. 
“I think I was just totally ignored.” Oliver lamented to Alex who had remained behind.
“Umm dad, you were chatting with her just fine a few hours ago at the graduation ceremony. Loosen up and have some fan. Look, there’s your rival approaching.” He was pointing at Sam who was walking towards them from the other end of the room. 

“I thought he had left already.” Oliver said.
“This thing appears to be some form of reunion for all these celebrity folks,” Anton said. “Ours is definitely the place everyone wants to be tonight! Enjoy your chat!” He patted his father on the shoulder and left just before Sam could reach them. 
“Is Anton avoiding me?” Sam asked Oliver.
“It is no secret he doesn’t like you very much Sam,” Oliver replied. “And don’t act like the feeling isn’t mutual.”
“As usual, you don’t miss a thing sir.” Sam laughed.
“May I have everyone’s attention please!” Anton’s voice echoed through the room as the music suddenly came to a dead end, leaving everyone that was dancing dumbfounded and protesting.
“I am very sorry for disturbing your fun,” Anton apologized. “However, I have something very important I need to say while all…maybe I should use the word most here. Yeah, there’s something I need to say while most of you are still sober.”
Oliver was looking over at his Morgan his PA and Fantasia the PR guru who had been chatting in one of the corners of the room since they arrived. They were both shaking their heads, expressing their lack of knowledge at what was going on. 
“First of all, a huge thanks to everyone that’s showed up for me and Alex’s graduation dinner.” Anton started. “Speaking of which, I think everyone that knows Alex and I will agree that apart from our birthdays, we’ve shared almost every other celebration that’s come our way in the past.
“Being an only child, and being raised by a single dad, the path before me was guaranteed to be a lonely one, if not for Alex that showed up out of nowhere and became the centre of me and my dad’s life, literally. I still remember the day I met Alex, it’s many many years ago but it’s still vivid in my head because I’ve referred to it all through my life. 
“I thought she was a busy buddy and a know-it-all…which she is by the way.” He laughed with everyone else in the room.
“But still, the love she and I share is beyond that of siblings.” He continued in a much sombre tone, his voice becoming husky from the tears caught at his throat. “Most of our close friends know, I haven’t always been the best of friends but somehow, this girl here chose to forgive my weaknesses always so it is such a great honor for me to be celebrating my graduation with her. She’s got more brains than I will ever acquire in this lifetime and she’s probably the only reason why I was able to graduate…please don’t tell my dad that!” 
The hall was filled with laughter. Oliver was pointing an accusing finger at his son. Alex took this opportunity to run up to Anton and give him a hug. 
“I love you too much you fool.” She said to him, her eyes filled with tears. 
“And I love you more Lexie.” He kissed her on the cheek before letting her go. Only to turn her so she could face everyone, his arm over her shoulder. 
“So tonight,” Anton said. “As we celebrate me and Alex’s graduation, there is something I would ask from this dear friend of mine before we both run off and lead busy lives in the corporate world that’s already beckoning for our attention.”
What is it? Alex mouthed the question to him.
Anton slowly turned to face her, taking both her hands in his. “Alex,” he said. 
“Yes Anton,” She said, her eyes threatening to pop out of their sockets as she wondered what her best friend was up to. Please don’t ask me to marry you…please let it not be so…I thought this was all done and over with…please please please dont… she kept repeating the words to herself.  
“Ah, since this is a private event and no press present, why don’t you all take out your phones and go live on social media.” He laughed.
“Tony! What are you doing?” A now visibly nervous Alex asked.
Sensing that things might go south any moment soon, Oliver moved forward. “Son-“
“Relax dad, and Alex please stop shaking so much am not about to ask you to marry me.” He chuckled and he could immediately feel Alex’s tense muscles relax around his fingers.
Just when everyone was starting to relax, Anton surprised them all by suddenly dropping on one knee, a small black box held up in one hand while the other held hers.
“I thought you said-“ Alex had started to say. 
“Alex Saunders, will you do me the honor of being my step-mother?” Anton finally said. You could hear a pin drop amidst the reaction in the room.

“Alex, please be my father’s bride.” Anton said, his voice shaking slightly.
“Son, what do you think you’re doing?” Oliver asked, moving closer to lift Tony from off the floor but he refused to barge, instead, he looked squarely at his father.
“I don’t mean to disrespect you or anything dad,” Anton said. “But I know that if I don’t do this, you will never ask Alex to marry you even though it’s very clear you are in-love with her. You need to hard before forcing me up from here because this is the last chance you are getting. Alex is going to disappear from our lives forever and maybe you can manage without her but I can’t.
“I understand I can’t have her the way I wished I could but I care about her enough to want to see her happy, just as I want to see you happy so….are you going to take my place here or not. My knee is burning already!” 
Everyone laughed, including Oliver.
“I guess I have been such a coward haven’t I?” Oliver asked, his eyes fixed on Alex but lifting them up to look at everyone around the room. “I don’t want anyone here or out there thinking I let my son do my job so….” he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his own small black box.
Alex gasped. 
Oliver chuckled as he held up the box. “I had my own little surprise for later but I guess that will have to do.”
Anton could hide his shock. “And I thought miracles don’t happen anymore.” He said.
“Very funny,” Oliver said. “Now get off my spot and let me do right by the most beautiful woman in this room.”
Anton quickly stood up.
“And the ring?” Both Paulina and George asked at the same time. 
“You want it?” Anton asked the two. 
“Yes!” Paulina shouted. 
“You want a proposal from him?” George asked, disappointment written all over his face.
“Not from him silly, from you dimwit!” She said, causing everyone to laugh. 
“You two?” Cassey was looking from one to the other. “Since when?”
“How about you talk about that later guys am about to be proposed to right now!” Alex shouted. “This man might change his mind if more time goes by.”
“We will finish this later,” Cassey told the two sternly as Anton handed George the ring. 
By the time Alex was turning to look at Oliver, he had already assumed position before her.
“Alex,” he said nervously. “I would have preferred a much more private setting but-“
“Yes.” Alex said suddenly. Her friends laughed.
“I am yet to get there so you can hold off the response for now.” Oliver said, laughing. “I have a few things I need to get off my chest first.”
“Okay,” Alex said. “Just don’t change your mind.”
“Agreed.” He said, his voice still filled with laughter. “Gosh, I’ve dreamt and thought about this moment for the past couple of months and I had no idea it would be this nerve wrecking!” He added.
“Why are you nervous when you already know my answer?” Alex asked. 
“Because I thought I was too late…and because I feel like you deserve so much better. I don’t know what you see in me Alex and I don’t know if you will still feel the same way about me when I turn grey and old…which will be happening any time soon but, I know all that and I am still hoping that you continue having only me in your heart.
“I know it’s very selfish of me to want you, to desire you like this and I know that am not the best catch in the world but I promise to love you with everything that I am and everything that I am made of. Alex Saunders, would you give me the honour of being your husband for the rest of your life, please?” 
“Only on one condition.” Alex said for the whole room to hear, catching everyone by the surprise. It wasn’t long ago when she had willingly said yes before the question even came and now she had a condition. 
“I hope the condition is that I never have to address you as mum Alex!” Anton shouted. 
Alex laughed. “Oh hell no that would never happen, young man.” She added for effect.
“What did you call me?” Anton asked.
Still laughing, “I will always be your best friend Anton, nothing is ever going to change that, not even my future daughter in-law.” She said. 
“What’s the condition?” Oliver asked.
“That you kiss me first.” Alex said, her face turning red even before she uttered the words. 
“You don’t have to ask me twice!” Oliver said, immediately getting up and pulling her in for a kiss.
Anton quickly turned away, his hands over his eyes. “I really can’t see this.” He said.
Duncan came to stand close to him. “hey man,” he said, putting his hand over his friend’s shoulder. “Are you okay?”
Anton slowly lifted his head up to look at him. “You think?” he asked sarcastically. 
“I know,” Duncan said. “How about we get outta here and hit the club?”
“Great idea!” George chipped in, he too putting his hand over Anton’s other shoulder. 
“I hope you guys are not thinking of leaving before congratulating them are you?” Cassey said, giving each one of them a stern look. 
“She’s right,” Anton said, his tone now different from what it was a few minutes ago. “Let’s do that first and then we can hit the road. He started walking towards the two lovebirds who were still kissing, much to the amusement of the assembled crowd. 
“Hey dad,” Anton patted Oliver on the back. “Sorry to cut your moment short but what the hack, you can get a room, please!” He said. “Alex,” he moved to stand in front of her, taking her hand slowly before pulling her in for a hug. “Congratulations, really, from the bottom of my heart. I am very happy for the both of you.” and then he turned back to his father. “Dad,” he hugged him too. “I am very proud of you taking courage tonight. Congratulations, I love you.”
Oliver was almost tearing up. He was happy and sad at the same time; happy that he had finally admitted his feelings to Alex but sad at the same time because his son’s heart was breaking. 
“I love you too son.” Oliver said, tightening his arms around him. “I love very much. Thank you for giving me courage tonight. I owe you big time.” 
“I’m glad you know that.” Anton said, letting go of his dad.
While the boys congratulated Oliver, the girls went straight for Alex, their eyes fixed on the huge stone that looked like it was weighing her slender fingers down.
“You’ll find me up front guys.” Anton said to his pals and before turning, he said to his father, “Good night dad, will see you tomorrow.” He was already turning to leave before Oliver could say anything in return.
“Son, wait,” Oliver ran after him and walked with him outside.
“Dad, I know why you followed me but am fine. Really, am fine.” Anton said once they were alone outside. 
“I know that it couldn’t have been easy for you to do what you did tonight but-“
“I just got tired of seeing the two of you playing games with each other.”
Oliver laughed. “I know,” he said. “Alex plays hard ball.”
“She got you right where she wanted you right?” Anton said, a smile peeping at the corners of his lips. 
“She did,” Oliver admitted. “But she’s also crazy so I have no doubt she would have left the country for good, just to punish me.”
“You really love her don’t you?” Anton asked, his face fully sobered up.
“Is it that obvious?” Oliver asked. 
Anton gave him an are-you-kidding-me-look. 
“I do.” Oliver admitted. “I really do. I really don’t know how I have lived all these years not being able to see or admit it.”
“The only reason I gave up is because the man she picked is a better man than I will ever be.” Anton said, catching his dad off guard with his sudden confession.
“Hey Tony-“ 
“No, it’s fine,” Anton said. “I mean it. If it was any other man, I would have dragged this all the way to the end. You know I can be petty as hell dad.”
“I don’t think so.” Oliver said. “I think in the end, you would have done the same thing you did tonight, you would have chosen Alex’s happiness over your own, that’s how much she means to you.”
“I hate it when you sound smarter than me.” Anton said. “Couldn’t you have just given me one up this once?”
Oliver laughed. “I love you Antonio.”
“Oh no you didn’t.” Anton said. “You only say that name when you are either mad or when you are being super mushy. I’m done for tonight, I’ve seen enough mushiness to last me a three life times! You should go back in, am sure Alex is already looking for you. Be careful, she will be glued to you from now on like you’re her oxygen tank. That girl doesn’t know how to love. She loves too much.”
“Be nice, that’s your step-mother you’re talking about.” Oliver said.
“I meant what I said in there dad!” Anton protested. “I’m never addressing Alex as mum. You can give her the whole inheritance if you want but am never calling her mum, I promise.”
“I don’t expect you to,” Oliver said. “I think she’s the one most uncomfortable with that thought than the rest of us.”
“Good,” Anton said. “That’s how it should be. The guys are here,” he was looking past Oliver’s shoulder towards Duncan and George who were approaching them. 
“Mr C you better go back in there before Alex turns red from searching for you.” Duncan said. 
Oliver took out his wallet and handed his son a card. “Drink are on me tonight boys. Get whatever poison you can but please don’t drive back. I’ll send someone to wait on you.”
“Dad we are not kids any more. One of us even got engaged today!” Anton teased. 
“Very funny.” Oliver said and went back inside. 

***   

Cathy was helping her mother fold the laundry in the laundry room at home when she got bored and dropped the bedding in her hand back into the pile down.
“This is boring and am tired.” She whined. “Why do you insist on doing the laundry when you can afford to hire a helper mum?”
“Why should I pay someone to do something I can do?” Matilda asked. “It’s not like I am busy.”
“Sometimes I think you are allergic to being rich mum.” Cathy said. “No matter how well life gets, you always act like a poor person. I hope you won’t embarrass your grandson in the future; he’s the heir to the mightiest throne in this country. You need to start practising how to be a first class citizen now.” 
“Does Tony ever call you?” Matilda asked. 
“At least once a week, mostly to tell me he’s scheduled appointments for me here and there, doesn’t want me spending a dime of his money. He insists on paying for everything in advance, I just collect. Let’s see if that will be the case once the child is born. I will show him who’s really running the show.” She reached over to the table on the other side of the room to get her phone.
“I’ve been staying away from social media the whole day today,” She said. “These fools keep flooding my feed with pictures of their graduation.” She turned on her phone.
“Did Mr Cooper really ignore you at the graduation ceremony?” Her mother asked. “Even when you are carrying his first grandchild? That Alex must have really fed him fables. Who even-“
“What’s this?” Cathy said, her eyes looking like a pair of saucers, her fingers scrolling over her screen very fast. “No, this cant be.”
Unable to take the suspense anymore, Matilda moved to where her daughter was sitting and glanced over her phone. “Is that-“
“They’re engaged!?” Cathy spat. “They’re-“ she felt a sharp pain course through her stomach and she winced out loud in pain.
“Cathy!” Matilda quickly examined her daughter. “Take it easy now child, cam yourself down before you kill your baby.”
Rather than listen to her mother, Cathy went ahead and played one of the thousands of videos on her screen and before she could get half-way through it, her pain became unbearable and she dropped her phone to the floor.
Matilda shrieked loud enough for the whole neighbourhood to hear and Benson her husband came running into the room in no time. 
“Help me!” Matilda shouted. “She’s having contractions.”
“That can’t be.” Dr Russel said. “She isn’t due for another-“
“She’s in shock so she’s gone into labour. We need to take her to the hospital.” His wife said. 
Benson went straight into action. “Hold her up from the other side.” He said as he prepared to get her down stairs. “What has shocked her so much to send her straight into labour?”
“Ask me that question when we are somewhere where she can deliver the baby safely, not here!” Mathilda roared. 
Anton was just getting out of the car at the club after parking when his phone rang. 
“Who’s it?” George asked. “Ah, baby mama.” He said when he saw Cathy’s name on the phone. 
“Just ignore it man.” Duncan said. “She’s just gonna spoil your mood and we are all going to pay dearly for that. Ignore her.”
“It should be important otherwise she wouldn’t have called me this time. she knows we aren’t cool like that.”
Yeah, like she gets it.” George said sarcastically. “It’s stopped.” He said when the ringing stopped but it was only for a short while before it started ringing again. 
Anton answered it. “Cathy, is everything okay?” 
“Anton this is Mathilda her mother. Cathy has gone into labour. We are not the way to the hospital right now.”
“What do you mean she’s in labour?” Anton asked. “Isn’t she due for like-“
“Yes but something happened and the shock sent her into labour. Please come to the hospital as soon as possible.”
“Yeah sure, I’ll be there soon.” Anton answered.
“What!?” Both Duncan and George mouthed the word at him. 
Anton cut the line and put his phone in his pocket. “Cathy has gone into labour.” He announced to his friends.
“How’s that possible?” George asked. 
“Apparently she was in shock,” Anton answered. “I think we can all guess what exactly shocked her enough to send her into labour.”
“Alex’s engagement.” Duncan said. “Oh my gosh, let’s go then what are you waiting for?”
Anton threw the keys at Duncan. “You drive,” he said as he walked around the car to sit on the other side. “I don’t think I can drive right now. I still haven’t figured out what my feelings are towards this reality. I just never imagined I would be a father so soon.” He sat down and buckled up. 
“Drive Dee, am so excited I want to see the kid!” George said.
Duncan started got back on the road. 
“I better call my dad.” Anton said. “I guess the baby just had to come today of all days ah. I think the universe has a sick sense of humour. Dad,” he said when Oliver answered. 
“Hey son, what’s going on? Is everything alright?” Oliver asked. He had not been expecting to receive a call from Anton for the rest of that evening. 
“Yeah, everything is fine. Cathy;s mother just called, turns out Cathy is in labour. We are going to the hostpital right now, thought you might wanna-“
“We are on the way there.” Oliver said, grabbing Alex’s hand and leading her away before she could ask any question. “Ladies, you can stay the night and enjoy yourselves.” Oliver said Cassey and Paulina.
“What’s going on Mr C?” Paulina asked. 
“Cathy is in labour.” Oliver said.
“That lying bitch,” Cassey cussed. “She isn’t due for another two months or so isn’t it?”
“Cassey.” Paulina shushed her friend. 
“I think news of the engagement shocked her.” Oliver surmised. 
“We are coming with you,” Paulina said, increasing her pace to catch up with Oliver’s long strides.
“You don’t have to girls.” Alex said. “You can stay and have some fun. It’s out graduation night tonight.”
“No way we are staying behind.” Cassey stated. “You need the full team with you, just in case those people decide to be funny.”
“It’s not a war girls, it’s a delivery.” Oliver said. “But if you want to tag along that’s fine with me. Alex?” Oliver stopped to get confirmation from Alex.
“You can come,” Alex said. “But don’t start any fight with Cathy’s parents…or even Cathy.”
“It’s hard enough she’s battling nature tonight so she’s lucky, we will let her be but she better not act like a diva otherwise-“
“Lina.” Alex threw her warning look and Paulina simply shrugged her shoulders and behaved herself. 
Oliver laughed and resumed leading the ladies to the car. 
“Isn’t it too heavy?” Oliver was watching Alex stare at her shining stone for the longest time possible. “I can have it reduced if you-“
“No!” Alex said a little too loudly. “I love it, every bit of it, it’s perfect.” She added. “It’s like you went deep into my head and got the design I was always imagined myself wearing.” She raised her hand up slightly to have a good view of the ring.
“What’s the actual size of that stone Mr C?” Paulina asked. 
“Don’t say it, I don’t wanna know!” Alex said, placing her hands over her ears.
“Why don’t you want to know?” Oliver asked.
“Because then I’ll know exactly how much it costs and it will keep eating me up thinking about what grand things that money could have been used for and what not. I don’t want to know. It will ruin everything.”
“Every penny spent on that ring was intended for that use, nothing else so there’s no need for you to feel guilty. If I had it my way it would have been the size of my heart but the designer advised against it so-“
“How did you even know my size?” Alex asked.
“Is there anything about you I don’t know?” Oliver asked.
“Wuuuuu” the girls echoed mischievously from the back. 
Alex blushed from head to toe, she covered her face in between her legs in embarrassment. 
“I think am going to pay dearly for that comment, ladies.” Oliver laughed, roughing his hand through Alex’s thick mane of hair. She sat up straight so suddenly and without warning and planted a kiss on his cheek before quickly dropping back into her chair.
Oliver mouth flipped wide open, words failing him completely but the smile on his face told Alex everything she needed to know.
“Uuuuuuu….” The girls geared from the back again. 

*** 

My Open Letter To Febbie

My Open Letter To Febbie

Dear Febbie

Yesterday I was made aware of a video going viral on social media about a man called Lameck. He gate-crashed a funeral of a woman who had been a mother in law to his daughter. He stopped the whole funeral and chose to speak ill of the dead, declaring boldly that the dead woman had a cruel heart and was wicked to his daughter and grandchild. He poured out his heart about a particular dehumanising treatment of his beloved daughter by the deceased where she urinated in a jug and poured the urine on his beloved child. He expressed that he was angry that the evil woman had died and that he would have loved to finish with her whilst she was still alive because God had taken her too soon before his precious daughter was vindicated.

When I watched the video, I did not laugh like what some are…

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An Untimely Love – Part 14

An Untimely Love – Part 14


A text came from Alex just as Oliver was getting ready to knock off from work.

Sam has invited me to dinner. 

Should I go?

Oliver who was about ready to open his door paused, starring at his phone like a man frozen in time. This is exactly what Fantasia was talking about, he thought. what exactly was he supposed to do and what was the right thing to say in such a situation.
Oliver sighed heavily and replied; Have fun kiddo and take care of yourself.
And he switched off his phone. 
The tears that fell from Alex’s eyes came so fast it was as if they had been waiting for the disappointment to simply be confirmed.
“What was I expecting?” She said as she went about her room searching for something to wear. “Coward.” She kept repeating whilst sobbing, throwing clothes from the closet down on the floor.
“Bloody coward!!!” She finally broke apart and dropped onto the floor, clatching a bunch of clothes in her hands.

“You look stunning,” Sam complimented her when she opened the door for him. She was wearing a figure-hugging little shimmery black dress with white pearls around her neck and matching earrings. 
“Thank you,” Alex forced a smile and stepped aside to let him in. “Come in.”
Sam stepped closer, gave her a hug and planted a kiss on her forehead. With his arms still around her waist, he held her upper body slightly back and looked her in the eyes. “You look very beautiful Alex, but you also look like you just spent the last five hours crying.”
For a moment Alex had forgotten how attentive to detail Sam was. He somehow always knew when she was in a happy or bad mood and he always had the right words to say to comfort her. The sincerity and care in his eyes was the last thing Alex needed in that moment after spending the last thirty minutes fighting back the tears that just wouldn’t stop pouring. It was like they had a mind of their own. 
And naturally, Sam’s concern triggered them back on and they came streaming down.
Without saying a word, Sam held her tightly in his arms and held her like that until her sobs settled. 
“Even though I feel like showing you off to the world with the way you are looking right now, I think that tonight is a bad time for you to be out there.” Sam said after a while. “How about we kick our shoes off and I whip us something in the kitchen? I hope your fridge is stocked!” 
He gave her no time to respond but took her by the hand and led her to sit down on the couch. “Sit right there, or better yet put on some feel good music for us while I scan the house for any edibles.”
“But Sam-“
“No buts, just humor me this once okay?” His eyes were literally pleading with her to go with the flow. Everything he was doing was out of concern for her and yet it was so clear she was being unfair to him. He had a right to get upset and feel disappointed and yet it was her feelings he put ahead of his. 
Alex nodded like an obedient child.
“Good girl!” Sam said enthusiastically, getting up and rushing to the kitchen. 
Alex remembered an interview Sam had years back where he revealed he was a big fan of Stevie Wonder and she went for his record.
“That’s what am talking about!” Sam’s head popped from the kitchen the moment the music filled the air.
Alex laughed and went to join him in the kitchen. 
“How did you know I would like that?” He asked.
“I told you, I am your number one fan,” She said. “Where did you find that?” She pointed to the black and blue apron he was wearing, looking right at home in her kitchen. 
“It’s not a very complicated kitchen you know,” he said. “Everything is packed in its place. If I didn’t know better I would think you have an OCD or something. Everything is a little too perfectly arranged.”
She laughed. “Maybe I am, is that a problem?” 
“As long as it’s not the type that makes you rush straight into the bathroom after we make love cause that would just-“ he stopped his sentence short, realizing he had ran miles from the shocked expression on her face. 
“My bad,” he quickly said. “I…I…it was a joke. A very bad joke. Dammit Samuel Daniels what’s wrong with you!?” he was hitting his head on the side.
Alex busted out laughing, forcing Sam to stop and stare at her in wonder. “You’re laughing.” He noted. “You are not kicking me out of the house…yet.”
“I am a clean freak quiet alright but I doubt it’s at an OCD level so you have nothing more to worry about.” Alex reassured him. 
“Oh thank God!” He said, laughing. 
“Anything I can help with?” She asked, moving to stand next to him by the sink where he was now washing some vegetables. “What are you making?”
“It’s a special Sam recipe. It looks like you have a stable supply of food in this house, something I was expecting from a workaholic student like you. Besides, you don’t look like you eat anything, at all.” He was scanning her slim frame from head to toe.
“It’s O-Paulina and Cassey who bought everything actually.” She avoided saying Oliver’s name. “How about I wash those while you check what’s on the stove?”
“No-“
“Am not taking no for an answer.” Alex quickly interjected him before he could finish what he was about to say. “I will be bored just watching you do everything. I need to keep myself busy.”
Sam immediately obliged her. She was right, she needed to keep her mind off whatever thoughts were running wild in her head. 

Doctor Russel slowly opened the door to his house a few minutes after midnight fully prepared to withstand the storm that awaited him on the other side of the door. As expected, he found both wife and daughter very much wide awake, well, maybe not both. Mathilda looked like she hadn’t gotten any sleep while Cathy looked like she had just been forced awake. There was a bunch of suitcases packed on the other side of the room. 
“What are you people still doing up this time?” He asked. He knew exactly what type of show they were putting on but he still chose to humour them.it was the least he could do after turning their perfect little world upside down. 
No verbal response came from Mathilda but her body language was enough to turn the few remaining black hairs in the professor’s head into grey.
“How could you do this to us dad?” Cathy added sound to her mother’s silent protest. “Do you have any idea how much humiliation I went through today?”
The professor quietly went to sit down, leaving as much distance between him and the wife as possible. 
“Aren’t you going to answer your daughter?” Mathilda finally spoke, turning her body fully around to face him.
“What are those bags about?” Benson asked, pointing to the suitcases in the corner and completely ignoring the questions being fired at him. 
Mathilda stood up. “I am leaving you and I am taking my daughter with me since you obviously want nothing to do with us. Maybe you and that Karla can finally have the happy family you’ve always wanted to have.”
He scoffed and stood up as well. “Just swallow some anti-depressants like you always do and go to bed, the both of you and stop putting on a show.” He said and started walking towards the stairs.
“Benson Russel!” His wife called out to him. “Don’t you dare walk away from me. Do you think this is a bluff?”
The doctor stopped and slowly turned back around. “As a matter of fact yes, I think this is all a bluff because if you really wanted to leave, you wouldn’t have waited up for me till this hour when you could have been half-way through to wherever you’re going in your heads. How much are you willing to bet that there’s actually nothing packed in those bags over there?”
Cathy’s jaw dropped in surprise. “How did you know dad?” She asked and was immediately awarded with a look of utter disappointment from her mother.
“You fool,” Mathilda said to her daughter.
“Did you actually think that you would lie to him mum?” Cathy defiantly asked her mother. “I told you this is a waste of time. I’m going to bed now. You guys sort this out yourselves.” And she dragged herself up the stairs. 
“When are you going to stop manipulating everything to your will Mathilda?” Benson asked. “If you want to leave, leave but you are not taking my daughter with you. There’s no way am going to let you turn her into something worse than she already is. that girl needs help urgently and if you searched your heart as a mother, you would support me instead of antagonizing me all the way.”
The father followed the daughter up the stairs leaving the wife standing alone in the middle of the living room, desperate tears rolling down her cheeks. Mathilda Russel had finally been cornered into a wall. 
“Alex Saunders or whatever they call you, you think you’ve won don’t you?” She said between clenched teeth and clenched fists.

On Saturday evening, Alex got off her bike to enter her apartment building after a long day at work when someone honked at her from behind. She turned in that direction to find a very familiar car parked not far from the entrance. She had just driven right passed it and had she been paying attention, she would have done everything to avoid the pending confrontation at all cost. 
Cathy opened her door and stepped out of the car, a bemused smile on her face as she walked towards Alex. 
“I heard one of your lovers got you a BMW so why in hell are you moving around on a donkey?” she kicked the bicycle with the tip of her four inch red stiletto.
“What do you want Cathy?” Alex asked, making no effort to hide her displeasure. 
“Get over yourself I am not the least bit interested in this meeting just as you are.” She retorted.
“Then what the hell are you doing here honking at me?” Alex asked.
“Since that coward friend of yours, wait, should I say step-son or lover boy?”
Alex turned her back and was ready to walk away.
“I am pregnant with his child.” Cathy loudly announced. Alex turned to find her rubbing her visibly flat belly.  “I also only found out yesterday. Am 2 months along. He won’t answer my calls and he hasn’t been at his place for a while now.”
“Could you be any more obvious Cathy?” Alex asked, not falling for the diaper news. “Say you’re pregnant and he won’t leave you. Isn’t that what all the desperate girls do to keep a man?”
“Say whatever you want but my pregnancy is arched in stone you wouldn’t rub it off even if you tried. Tony can do all the tests he wants the truth won’t change. I am pregnant and it is his child. Since I can’t deliver this news personally to him, I know that you will deliver it. Tell him I have zero intentions of getting rid of it and zero plans of raising the child alone, comprende?”
Cathy hopped back to her car, every part inch of her body exuding pride and victory. 
Alex waited for Cathy to disappear from sight before cycling to Duncan’s house where she knew Anton was hiding. 
She pressed the bell at the gate and waited for a few seconds before the gate came wide open.  This was the fifth time Alex was visiting the Schmidt residence. If she was to rank the homes of all her friends, the Schmidt’s residence came second after the Cooper’s in terms of size, class and elegance. Every time she rode her bike down the long drive way made her feel like she was Alice in Wonderland. Whereas Oliver Cooper’s home felt like home, Duncan’s home made her feel like she had just been granted access into a parallel universe and even though she was sincerely welcomed, she couldn’t help feeling like escaping any chance she got. The house was just too perfectly decorated like a five star hotel to feel like a home. Everything in it was deliberately placed and saved a specific purpose. 
But what could one expect of the number one home maker and interior décor expert in town? Alex wondered as she got off her bike and handed it over to Victor the resident valet. 
“Welcome Ms Alex.” Victor happily greeted her. It appeared he had finally come to terms with addressing her by her first name after months of negotiating even the prefix remained unchanged.
“Long time Victor, how have you been?” Alex returned the greeting. 
“Very fine thank you,” he answered. “The gentlemen are by the foyer on the East wing.” He said before disappearing. 
“It would have been shorter and quicker if I rode the bike there.” She said to herself and went round the house. 
“Alex?” Duncan jumped in his seat when Alex came through. Alex was like the younger version of his mother. He knew no other woman that would nag him into acting responsively every time he acted like a wild child. 
Anton who had been facing away from the entrance with his legs propped on the other chair quickly turned around the moment he heard Alex’s name. 
“Look at the two of you chilling out here like two old men enjoying their retirement.” Alex said as she joined them where they were seated. “I wonder what your mother would say if she received an anonymous call from someone informing her about her son’s absence from school for no apparent reason.” 
She made a move for her phone but both men were up on their feet ready to grab the phone from her. Duncan succeeded and quickly threw the phone at Anton who immediately secured it in the inside pocket of his coat. 
Alex was shaking her head slowly in disbelief. “Do you actually think that I wouldn’t reach down there to get it?” She asked Tony. 
In response, Anton slumped his head and shoulders in surrender.
“She’s right,” Duncan said in a defeated tone. “I don’t think there’s any place on my body this chick is afraid to touch, what more you?” He pointed at Anton. “You guys are worse than siblings.”
Alex laughed but Anton didn’t seem to catch the joke.
“Alex is far from being anything like a sister to me.” He said matter-of-factly. “Should I even ask how you knew I was here?” 
“I know the Schmidt’s are on vacation so what better place for you to hide out than their very high class home?” Alex said. “You are very predictable Anton, and I know you could never hide far from home no matter how bad things got.”
“See what I meant?” Duncan said.
“Shut up D!” Anton warned him.
“Fine,” Duncan raised his hands. “I’m going inside to get some more drinks. The usual for you Alex?”
“Yes Dee, thanks.” She said, making herself comfortable in her chair. “And take your time okay!” she shouted after him.
Duncan laughed. “I know exactly what that mean!” She shouted back. “Ten minutes okay?”
“Yeah!” Alex replied. 
“What is it?” Anton asked.
“What do you mean what is it?” She asked.
“I know you wouldn’t have come all the way here if you didn’t have something you urgently needed to talk to me about.”
Alex chuckled. “Your dad and I eloped.” She said.
“Please, tell me something that makes sense.” Anton said, completely unfazed by her fake news. “My dad would rather lose a leg than admit to you or to the world that he has feelings for you.”
So you know that about him? Alex thought.
“Look at you, your whole face has changed just at the mention of him. Do you like him that much?” Anton asked. “I don’t remember ever seeing you like that even though you claim to have loved me.”
“Claim?” Alex asked.
“Yes,” he said. “I just don’t get how your feelings could have shifted so fast from me to my dad. Before it could even sink in my head that you liked me more than a friend, you heart had already moved to my dad. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around that.”
“Is that why you hate me so much these days?” 
“I never said I hate you. I’m just…bitter? or should I say, disappointed?”
“Why are you disappointed?”
“Because it’s my father Alex!” Anton said. “I get it he’s a cool guy and looks younger for his age. I know you are not the type to fall for money or anything vain like that but still, he’s old enough to be your dad Alex. In fact, he’s always acted like your father all these years. When did your feelings shift really? One minute he’s the father you never had and next minute he’s the man of your dreams.”
“I too don’t know when it all changed or started.” She said. “All I know is that he was always there for me whenever something was going on in my life, more than you ever were. I guess after seeing you change girls all these years and watching you pick Cathy over me forced me face what I somehow already knew but had been avoiding to confront.”
“So are you telling me I have no chance with you?” 
Alex kept her eyes lowered, afraid to look up at him and see the hurt that she could hear in his voice. This was the long awaited conversation between the two of them. it was about time that they confronted reality as it was rather than avoid it. 
Anton sat up straight in his chair and put his hands together. “hmm Alex?” He prompted her to answer. “Have you completely erased me from your heart?”
“Anton-“ Alex searched for the right words to say but couldn’t find the right ones. Instead, she changed the topic. “I didn’t come here to talk about my love life Tony.” She said. “I had the misfortune of receiving a visit from your girlfriend some good forty or so minutes ago.”
“I thought your issues with her and her family where done yesterday. Those guys are really sick.” He said.
“That’s not why she came to see me. her visit was about you. apparently you’ve been ignoring her calls for days now.”
“And she came to you so that you do what?”
“So that I deliver this special message: she is 2 months pregnant with your child and she says she has no intentions whatsoever of getting rid of the pregnancy.”
Anton laughed. “And you believe her shit?” He asked.
“I did. Sadly, I don’t think she’s lying Tony.”
“There’s no way she can be pregnant, we were always careful.”
“How careful were you exactly?”
“I made sure she was on her pill and…ooh-“He let the sentence hang, finally realizing his error in judgement. “That bitch. How could she-“
“How could she trap you you mean?” Alex asked sarcastically. “Don’t act like you didn’t know what you were dealing with. You knew what she was but you just couldn’t resist. That’s on you Tony so don’t think about blaming her for how things turned out. You thought you could have her in one way but avoid certain parts of her?” And she laughed. “Why are men so vain when it comes to women?”
“I see you are enjoying yourself taking a selfie in front of a burning house ah.” Anton said, his face heavy with emotion. 
“I’m just trying to help you face the facts.” She said. “You always have this tendency to blame someone if things don’t go your way. So what do you plan on doing now?”
“I guess I just have to wait for the baby to be born and take a test.” He said. 
“And if the child is really yours?”
“What?” Anton glared at her. “You don’t expect me to go all mushy and say I will do the right thing by her do you? C’mon Alex you know me better than that. I will raise my child of course but I want nothing to do with the mother, period. And if she thinks she can use the child to milk money out of me, she’s got another thing coming I can promise you that.” 
Alex sighed heavily and leaned her back against the chair, head pulled back and eyes staring up to the ceiling. “How did we end up here Tony?” 
“You mean me as a father and you as my potential step-mother?” He laughed.
“None of this is funny.” She said in a very sombre tone.
“I know.” Anton said, his tone matching hers. “Sometimes I sleep hoping to wake up and find it was all just a bad dream and now there’s news of a child. How the hell do I tell the old man he’s going to be a grandfather, and to a child am having with Cathy of all people? He’s gonna kill me or knock me off the inheritance.”
“You know he cant do that.” Alex said.
“He can’t yeah but he will make sure he frustrates me enough into believing he can just to teach me a lesson.” 
Alex laughed. “You are right about that one.” 
“And yourself,” he was looking squarely at her now. Alex sat up straight to face him.
“What about me?” She asked.
“What are you going to do about my dad? You know he’s never gonna admit he likes you right?”
“Are you asking because you truly want to know or is this a way of you rubbing reality in my face?”
“After seeing the look in your eyes today, I know for a fact that I don’t stand a chance with you. Also, a huge part of me sort of understand why you fell for my dad. I think I would fall for him as well if I were a girl.”
Alex laughed and he chuckled with her.
“I’m just telling it as it is.” Anton said. “He’s a cool guy I’ll give him that but I am also going to be honest with you Alex, I can’t stand the idea of you being my step-mother. I mean, it’s you Alex! But then again, when I think about it, I ask myself questions like; do I really want to see my father spend the rest of his life alone? 
“Or, would I rather see him with another woman other than you? When I think about all the women out there, I can’t help coming to the conclusion that you would make the best wife for him. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I guess it’s one I will have to swallow since I love the both of you and I want you both to be happy.”
In all the years she had known Anton, Alex had never imagined ever having such a mature conversation with him; a conversation in which he did not put just his feelings on the table, but he considered everyone else’s feelings as well. 
“Please, don’t start crying on me now.” Anton warned her upon seeing her teary eyes.
She laughed and forced back the tears. “I am just thinking…how I wish you had said these words a few weeks ago…and, how I wish it was possible to be that kind of woman to Oliver but I have to face the fact that he doesn’t love me as much as I wish he would because if he did, none of the fears he has would matter.”
“I don’t doubt he loves you Alex.” Anton said. “I have never seen anyone rattle his world as wild as you did from the moment you confessed to him. He hasn’t been the same since. He probably, in fact, not probably, he actually thinks not being with you is the ultimate way he could ever express his love for you.
“You have to keep in mind, he’s the older guy here and you are like what, 19 years younger than him! The guy is scared you are too young and hot for him. Even folks like him have their own insecurities. Yeah he might look young for his age but the fact still remains there’s 19 years between you.
“I know that if I were him I would be worrying about you suddenly waking up one day and realizing you didn’t love me like you thought you did. Maybe you mistook fatherly love for something more. What if some young bloke comes along and sweeps you off your feet? And knowing my dad, he’s probably thinking, what if I’m too old to give her the kind of life she deserves? He’s probably thinking he will burden you or something, I know that guy.”
Alex stared in awe at her best friend. What have they done to my Tony? She couldn’t help wondering. “Who are you?” She asked him.
He laughed. “Don’t look at me like that.” He said. “I might be a little immature but I know something about men, and am an expert at knowing my father. by the way is that Sam guy still hanging around you like a leech?”
“Tony!” 
“What?” He said. “I just plain don’t like the guy. He is exactly the type of guy that all men hate. He has everything that we know women dream about. I hate him.”
Alex laughed. “That’s true.” She said, a far off expression on her face. “Then I guess that means something is wrong with me right?”
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“He’s been nothing but kind, loving and caring to me but apart from feelings of gratitude, I feel nothing more for him. He is like the dream friend I always wanted but I know it’s selfish to keep him like that because he wants and expects more. 
“You have no idea how many times I have tried to will my heart into loving him back. I keep thinking, if I can channel all these feelings I have for Oliver to this wonderful man that adores and worships me, then maybe I can breathe a little easy.”
“Isn’t life a bitch?” Anton said. “It always finds a way of screwing us over, one way or another. I don’t get how given two people, one that loves us and one that doesn’t, why do we always fall for the one that doesn’t love us back?”
“I know right?” Was all Alex could say in return just as Duncan appeared with bottles of beer in hand. 

An Untimely Love – Part 13

An Untimely Love – Part 13

“What have you done?” Oliver sternly whispered into his son’s ear in the middle of the crowd as he dragged him away by the collar.
Is it true you are in a relationship with Ms Saunders? Oliver heard one of the many questions being thrown from every possible direction. He couldn’t help noticing how the tone and phrasing of the questions had changed from the time the nutcase question had been addressed. She wasn’t just Alex now, she was Ms Saunders.
Is your foster daughter really in-love with you?
Are you and your son in-love with the same woman?
Who do you think Alex will pick between the both of you?
As the questions kept coming, Oliver fought a strong internal battle to not stop and address the foolish questions. Enough damage had already been done. The media team would professionally take care of the rest. 
“Let me go!” Anton freed himself from his father once they were safely inside the building. 
Oliver stopped walking and glared at his son. “What is wrong with you boy? When are you going to grow up?”
Anton stopped and raising his eyebrow at his father, he tilted his head to the side and ran his eyes over him, a disgruntled look on his face. “Just can’t pass up an opportunity to call me a child ah?” He said. He straightened his head and starred at his father squarely. “Well guess what dad, I am your child and will forever remain a child to you but that doesn’t disqualify me from loving the woman who’s meant to be mine.”
Oliver couldn’t believe his son’s audacity but rather than address his brattish behaviour, he was more curious about other important things. “What exactly did you say to those people?” He motioned to the crowd outside with his head. 
“I only told them the truth.” Anton smugly replied. 
“And what is that truth?” 
“They kept calling Alex all sorts of names.” Anton said. “They think she’s after three men when it’s the other way around.”
“And you telling them that she has feelings for me was supposed to save her character? Tell me son,” Oliver leaned forward, arms crossed over his broad chest. “How exactly did that help clear her name? Didn’t I tell you NOT to say anything to them?”
“I didn’t mean to tell them that. I just…I thought…I just….” Finally realizing the extent of his error, Anton sighed heavily and put his hand over his forehead in deep regret. “They just kept coming at me, they wouldn’t stop….I was going to just walk away dad, I swear, but, I let them get to me. I’m sorry.”
Oliver had not expected him to apologize so quickly. The Anton he knew was going to keep on the pompous act to the very end, never admitting he did anything wrong. He had managed to get away with that kind of behaviour all these years so he was likely going to get away with this one as well…since daddy always took care of the mess for him. But instead, he apologized, in record time.
Oliver wasn’t quite sure how to respond. He was more than ready to pump some sense into him but he had not calculated for this kind of development. There was only one reason he could think of that could have brought about this kind of change in his son; his love for Alex. 
Could things get any worse between the three of them? How did they even end up in such a situation? 
“I am sorry I opened my mouth and reacted prematurely out there.” Anton was still talking. “I realize now that I just made things a little more complicated for everyone…and, I had no right to reveal Alex’s feelings to the world like that.”
For once, Anton was thinking about someone else other than himself.
“Why are you looking at me like that dad?” Anton asked Oliver who had a look of surprise on his face. “You don’t believe me do you? You think I did that deliberately right?” 
“Tony-“
“No dad, that’s a little unfair.” Anton cut his father off. “I know that I’ve always been a brat and only cared about myself but that wasn’t the case when I said what I did. I didn’t plan for it to happen that way and I certainly didn’t think I was going to say anything until it was too late. What happened out there was just me being…you said it, childish and foolish. 
“I simply gave in to my anger and reacted, like I always do. It had absolutely nothing to do with spiting you. Even if I wanted to hurt you, I wouldn’t use Alex to do that to you. I love that girl dad, I really do…and I just messed up, not by intention, just a mistake, a foolish mistake.”
“I know,” Oliver said, this time around it was Anton who couldn’t believe his father’s receptive behaviour.
“You believe me?” Anton asked, not believing his father’s words.
“I do.” Oliver said and immediately hated himself for admitting it. “You go on up to Alex, I’ll head to the office and see to it that this whole mess is brought to an end immediately. Tell Alex that I will call her.” And before Anton could say anything in return, Oliver had turned and was already heading back. 

“What did you do?” It was the first question Anton was asked by Alex the moment Paulina opened the door and let him through.
“Alex I-“
“How could you?” Alex said, tears streaming down her cheeks. Both Paulina and Cassie quickly went to her side.
“I am so sorry Alex.” It was all he could say. His father was right to be upset with him, everyone was. It was a fact he had poured oil to an already burning bush. He had no more excuses for himself this time around.
“You always do this to me!” Alex cried. “You do things that you know you will have to be sorry for and it’s always me that suffers.” 
I didn’t mean to…what happened there was an accident Alex.” Anton tried to explain. “I didn’t plan to-“
“Of course you didn’t.” Alex said sarcastically. “Listen,” she slowly removed her friends arms from around her shoulders. “I don’t think I want to see you right now. I might just end up saying something I will regret. I want to be alone. I’m going to my room.”
Anton tried to go after her but Paulina threw him and it was enough to freeze him in step.  
“I think you should leave Tony.” Cassie said. “I’m sure she knows you didn’t mean any harm but she’s just going through a lot of stuff right now.”
“I am her best friend goddammit!” Anton cussed. “I know that girl better than anyone in this world so why can’t I be here for me? Yes, I messed up and I said I am sorry so why is everyone treating me like the enemy?”
“You dated the person who is behind the worst pain of her life Tony, have you forgotten?” Paulina reminded him. “You sacrificed your friendship with Alex, and with all of us just to be with her so how really do you expect us to treat you?”
“I admit it,” Anton raised his hands in the air. “I was foolish and I have no excuses and I am begging you guys to forgive me, please.” He looked from one girl to the other, eyes pleading for mercy.
Paulina and Cassie stared at each other in shock, as if to confirm they had heard the same thing. It was truly not like Anton to raise the white flag so quickly. He was normally shameless just as he was bold and confident. 
“Who are you?” Cassie asked, moving closer to Anton and examining his face thoroughly. “What have you done to Antony?”
Anton laughed. “It’s Anton you fool. How many times have I told you-“
“Yeah yeah yeah,” Cassie was shaking her head and waving her hands about. “It’s Anton, without the Y, we know.” She said, causing Paulina who was watching the two on the side to laugh as she recalled her first encounter with Anton. The girls had spent the next few months being reminded of the correct form of his name whenever they uttered it until they finally just settled for Tony which he found less offensive.  
“So am I forgiven?” Anton asked. 
“Maybe.” Paulina said, chuckling under her breath. 
Cassie turned to her friend. “How can we not forgive him when he’s being so humble?” She asked. “I don’t think there’ll ever be another day when Tony will apologize for something.”
“You guys, have I been that bad?” He asked.
“Yes!” Both girls answered at once.
“Wow,” he said, dropping his head slightly in shame and then raising it ahead. “I wonder how you guys managed to put up with me all this while.” 
“You’re rich.” Paulina said.
“What?” Anton asked. “For real?
Cassie and Paulina busted out laughing.
“It’s Alex,” Paulina quickly answered. “And when you are not trying to have your way you are a pretty awesome guy, awesome but dumb.”
“Dumb?” He asked.
“Yes,” she said. “Like how could you not have known all those years that Alex was in-love with you?”
“Oooh, you mean that?” Anton heaved a sigh of relief. “Yeah, maybe you’re right. I was pretty dumb…and now it’s almost too late. Looks like everything I do these days is rubbing her off the wrong way and all I want to do is show her how sorry I am and how much I love her.” 
“Are you sure it’s that kind of love you have for her or maybe you’re just scared you might lose your best friend if another takes her number one spot?” Cassie asked him. 
“No!” Anton answered a little too quickly. “Why would you even think that? Wait, is it so hard for everyone to believe that I am actually in-love with Alex?”
“Well Tony,” Paulina said. “We have all seen you in-love. It’s a very short experience and we don’t want you and Alex to lose your friendship over-“
“Then if you guys can think that I am doing all this just because I am afraid to lose our friendship then you must know very well just how much our friendship means to me so why would I want to risk it for some fear…insecurity or whatever you wanna call it? I love so much I am willing to fight my own father just to have her. Doesn’t that mean anything to you guys?”
“Well,”Paulina said. “When you put it like that it does sound quite convincing.”
“Thanks.” Anton said.
“You truly love her don’t you?” Asked Cassie who had been watching him closely, uncomfortably so the whole time.
Anton laughed. “She finally believes it.” He said. “Yes, I am in-love with Alex Saunders. Gosh, I just felt Goosebumps all over me saying that out loud. Anton Cooper is in-love with Alex Saunders.” He proudly kept repeating. 
“Lord, why now?” Lamented Alex who had been listening to the conversation from her bedroom door. 
Just then, her phone rang.
“Alex, I know am not supposed to do this, I mean to ask your opinion concerning this matter  but-“
“Did something happen, again?” Alex asked Oliver. 
“Oh no,” Oliver quickly replied. “Nothing like that, it’s just a small development…well, not sure if I can call it small or-“
“Okay you are freaking me out now. What’s wrong?” Alex asked.
“I received an email and then a call from the PR team,” Oliver explained. “It turns out Sam wants the company to release something to the press that explains his stance in all this and he called me just now to ask me to help him out without interference.”
“What’s in the letter?” She knew it couldn’t be an ordinary letter from his tone and hesitation and she was just as sure it was something she would not like…and he too was aware of that fact.
“He’s basically saying that the Alex he’s met in person and the one being portrayed by the media is different and any attempt to defend your character further would only mean there is something to defend in the first place when there’s nothing because the people that truly love you already know who you are. He also makes it very clear that he has been the one pursuing you and that you have not made any advances towards him. If anything, he adds, you’ve been avoiding him.”
“Well,” Alex was about to pass a comment but Oliver continued;
“Had I been thinking rationally, like a proper CEO should, I should have been the one to suggest that Sam release something like this to the press but I think am too closely involved to think rationally.”
“What are you saying Oliver?” Alex asked, not liking for a second the direction the conversation was going.
“I guess what I am saying is; can I go ahead and okay this release? I wanted your opinion before I could-“
“Before you could release it?” She finished for him. “Tell me something though, what would happen to that release if I said no? Would you tear it up?”
“Alex….”
“I thought so.” She said, reading the rest of his response from his tone and long pause. “You know very well what will happen once something like that gets out.” She argued. “Sam’s fans will be on me pressuring me to say yes to him and if I don’t I will continue being the public enemy that I am right now. And you know what’s worse, I will have no chance with you because you being you, you will say no Alex I can’t be fighting an employee of mine for your affections. First it’s your dear son so I know what excuse is coming next. You did it with Anton so what will stop you now? This is just a way for you to ensure nothing ever happens between us isn’t it?” 
“I think it’s something that works best for everyone Alex.” Oliver said.
“For everyone, really?” She said. “How does this work for you or for me?”
“For me, it’s a scandal averted from a professional point of view.”
“And from a personal point of view?” She asked.
Oliver did not respond. 
“I thought so.” Alex said sullenly and cut the line. 
Oliver threw the phone to the other side of the room in anger and it shuttered to pieces. Just then, a knock came through the door.
“Come in!” He said begrudgingly. The moment he saw Fantasia the head of PR he knew what the meeting was about.
The first thing that the thirty-three year old PR specialist noticed when she entered the office and stood by the door were the broken pieces of what once was a very expensive phone. He hesitated by the door, not sure whether it was safe to have that particular discussion she had in mind or not. When was the poor man going to realize what everyone else in the company already knew? She wondered. Was it so hard to follow your heart and be dammed with what everyone else thought? 
“What is it Fantasia?” Oliver forced her mind back in time.
“We can talk about this another time Sir if-“ she was thinking about every word that came out of her mouth as her eyes wondered around the expansive office. 
“You know very well there’s no more time to be wasted on this one so what is it?” Oliver spat and sat down. He motioned for her to sit and she did, her files pressed tight against her chest.
“I was wondering if you saw the email I sent you this morning.” Fantasia said.
“I just saw it.” He answered curtly. 
“I don’t mean to rush you Sir but-“
“I know.” Oliver said in the same tone, two fingers pressed hard on his forehead. “Is that really the best option we have?” He asked.
“Given the circumstances, yes; one solution to address all the pending issues circulating in the media. Everyone is covered and protected.”
“Yeah, everyone.” Oliver said under his breath, clearly not believing what he was hearing or what he was trying to convince himself of. 
“Sir?” Fantasia said hesitatingly.
Oliver raised his head to look at her. “What is it?” He knew that look on her face. He had seen it one too many times before.
“What if there was another way….”
“Another way?” He asked. “I thought you just said-“
“I know what I said but what if there was another way, not an easy one. It would require some sort of sacrifice…on your part mostly.” The PR guru said.
Oliver raised his eyebrow. “Sacrifice, on my part? What the hell are you cooking up in your head Asia?” 
She laughed, if he could still call her by her nickname, then she was definitely safe to voice her audacious suggestion. “How about just telling the media the truth?” She said.
Oliver hesitated, as if lost for interpretation before asking; “What truth?”
Fantasia swallowed hard before saying, “Your feelings sir.” She held her breath.
Oliver had sensed that’s exactly where the conversation was leading the moment he saw that look in her eyes. Over the years of them working closely together, Fantasia was one of the closest employees Oliver had and trusted. Their relationship was somewhat both personal and professional, never any form of pretence. He had hired her in the first place for her intellect in telling things as they were but with as much care as possible to not cause injury even when delivering the most hurtful of criticism. She had a way of turning any grim situation into one of hope with just a few lines of well phrased words or sentences and she knew exactly what Oliver was made of; his fears, strengths and weaknesses. 
“And how exactly is that supposed to help curb the current situation?” Oliver asked.
Fantasia smiled, glad that he didn’t waste any time trying to argue against facts. “Just think about it sir,” she said. “Your career right now does not depend on how your reputation with women or your relationships with them is. Those years are over and done with. You are not that kind of celebrity now, you are a business man. I know for a fact that your standing on the market will not be affected in any way just because you decide to tell the world that you are in-love with a young beautiful and intelligent woman.”
“Not if that woman is someone I helped raise as a daughter Asia.” Oliver said.
“Anyone that knows you will know you never did anything wrong with that girl Sir and frankly you don’t need to care about those that think otherwise. You are forty years old now and you are not growing any younger. Are you telling me you want to spend the remaining years of your life living in regret? The moment this release goes out there, there’s no taking it back. Is your pride really more important that securing your own happiness that you have to send Alex right into the arms of another man?” 
“It’s not as simple as you make it sound.” He said.
“How?” She asked. “That your son is involved as well?”
“Is there anything you don’t know in that head of yours woman?” 
Fantasia laughed. “It’s my job to know everything sir. Isn’t that why you love me?”
“I love you and hate you for that very fact.” He said.
She laughed again. “I know.” She said. “So just add on to the hate for today because you know very well there’s sense in what am telling you right now. So what if your son is in-love with her as well? Who doesn’t know about Tony’s misadventures? What woman in her normal mind would pick him over you…no disrespect sir, I know he is your son and you love him.” She quickly added in response to the look he was giving her.
“Justbecause the boy is a little immature does not mean he does not deserve to have a good woman by his side. Truth be told Alex is the best woman he could ever have. She is the only reason why he hasn’t completely fallen off the grid all these years. She keeps him sane and in check.”
“And what about her?” Fantasia asked. “Is she happy being Tony’s saviour for life?”
It was a question that sent Oliver straight into thinking mode. He had not thought of that; indeed, what about Alex? So far he had looked at everything from everyone else’s point of view; from Anton, Sam, his and the media’s point of view but Alex’s.  
“I didn’t think that far.” Oliver admitted.
“Well, maybe now you can.” Fantasia said. “I am giving you up to tomorrow morning, 10am to be specific to think about it and if nothing changes, I will go ahead and send this out.” She lifted the file in her hand. “Just don’t blame anyone for your misery because with your own power you would have sent your woman into another man’s arms the moment this goes out.” She stood up. 
“How comforting your words are.” Oliver said sarcastically. 
Fantasia laughed. “You can hate me all you want today but I know you will love me right in the near future. Good luck thinking for today.” She said and left the room. 

**** 
After subjecting herself to another sleepless night of turning and tossing and just plain ignoring everyone during the course of the day, Alex got out of bed the next morning with a new found determination. She was headed to Professor Russel’s office. She had not been on campus since the news about her past and relationships came out so it was to everyone’s surprise when she appeared on campus in all her shinning glory, without any sort of disguise and busted into the professor’s office. 
“Karla?” The rattled Professor got up from behind his desk the moment he saw her.
“My name is not Karla.” She dismally reminded him.
“I’m sorry, Alex.” He quickly corrected himself. “What are you-“
Alex plopped herself into a chair. “Sit down for what am about to tell you because I am about to turn your world upside down the same way your family has done to mine.”
The professor sat without question.
“I woke up this morning feeling like causing a lot of damage since everything seems to be going against me.” Alex started. “It’s like I wronged the universe the moment I was born so I don’t think there’s any more damage that can be done to me at this point. I am just going to flow with the wind.”
“What do you mean by that?” Professor Russel asked. 
“I am about to lose the only man that ever sincerely cared about me from the get-go and I have no intentions of losing something valuable alone. I am taking your family down with me on this road if you don’t do the right thing before it’s too late.”
Benson Russel knew that a day would eventually come when his family would have to face the consequences of their actions and ever since the developments in recent days, he had waited patiently for that time to finally come. 
“I know that there is another I can ever do or say to you that would show you how sorry I am for-“
“Save that rubbish for someone else professor.” Alex said. “When a man cannot put his own wife and children in line, he needs to be ready to pay the price for whatever damage comes from their actions.”
“What would you like me to do?” He asked.
“Tell everyone the truth about what happened that day and tell them who exactly is behind the malicious stories going round about me. I don’t care how you do it but just do it the moment I leave this office because if you don’t, I will and God knows how candid I will be in expressing my grief over the suffering I’ve had to endure at the hands of your family. 
“You have a chance to do the right thing for once so am praying that you will be man enough this time and do something. I never once asked you or your wife to adopt me as your child. You came for me at the orphanage and you made promises to me which you never once kept. All these years I’ve had to live with the fact that no one in this whole world can ever call me their own and you know what, I am okay with that. What I don’t understand is why your wife and daughter feel the need to constantly darken my already gloomy life, to wipe out whatever ray of sunshine is there. What wrong did I ever do to them? Tell me what price I have to pay for whatever wrong I did and I will pay it but please, I beg you, leave me the hell alone. I have had enough pain and suffering to last me five life times. Don’t I deserve a break?”
Watching Alex in front of him brought back memories of that morning by the swimming pool when she had cried breathlessly for his help as his wife squeezed the life out of her and he had done nothing to help. Like the spineless man that he was, he had watched in the side lines and when he couldn’t take her pain anymore, he had turned and looked away. He was doing the same thing this time again, just watching on the side as Mathilda and Cathy did their damage.
She was right to call him a coward.

Alex was fighting her way through the crowd of students and reporters gathers outside the Social Science Faculty offices when she heard a familiar voice in the back make it’s presence known. She stopped dead and looked behind her.
“My name is Benson Russel and I have something to say to all of you.” The professor announced. 
Alex could hear the murmurs from the crowd about the professor’s connection to her and for a moment she wondered if time had finally come for her to receive her redemption. Had he made up his mind already? Was he really capable of going against his wife and daughter?
“Are the stories about Alex Saunders true?” 
“Did she really try to kill your daughter?”
“Are you finally ready to give a statement sir?”
The questions kept coming in all directions. Finally, the cameras and microphones where not pointed in her direction, Alex thought as she watched with bated breath the scene unfolding in front of her. 
“You are right,” the professor started in a very shaky voice. “There was a time in this dammed world when the girl you see standing there called me dad.” He pointed to where Alex was standing, behind everyone else. 
“Alex.”
Alex felt hands over her shoulders and she turned to find her group of friends standing around her; Cassey, George, Duncan, and Paulina. Only Anton was missing from the bunch.
“Hey you guys….” Alex said in surprise, overwhelmed by emotions over seeing all of them together to see her.
“We came as soon as we heard you were here.” Duncan said, squeezing her shoulder slightly. 
The tears finally rolled down her cheeks. “You guys-“ she said. Paulina quickly squeeed her way in and went to put her arms around her.
“What is that fool on about now?” George asked. “How about we go and drag him outa there?” He said to Duncan. 
“Let’s hear what he has to say first.” Cassey cautioned them. “If we sense he’s about to spill some more shit we are all pouncing at once.”
“Deal!” The four of them said at once.
Alex chuckled. 
“Seventeen years ago my wife and I fell in-love with a little girl called Karla McKenzie.” Benson Russel continued his speech, his voice still shaking. 
Professor Russel had not gone far through his impromptu speech to the reporters camped at the school when his dear wife Mathilda received a call from a close friend informing her that her husband was on TV. 
“What do you mean he’s on TV?” Mathilda asked. “He’s not scheduled for any interviews this month.” She added, thinking about the research panel he was asked to sit on in a couple of months. 
“Just turn on the TV right now and see for yourself. He is almost on every entertainment channel.” The woman said and cut the line. Mathilda wasted no time.
“Alex’s entrance into our lives brought some sanity back into our family as my wife who was suffering from depression ever sinc the disappearance of our daughter started recovering.” Benson was saying.
“What is this fool doing?” Mathilda asked herself of her husband, moving to sit at the edge of the sofa. 
“You have to understand that for my wife, bringing a new child into the family was her way of coping with her loss. For her, little Karla…Alex I mean was Cathy. It was a special case of transference, one I should have dealt with the moment I noticed but I was just happy that my wife was finally back to normal. I couldn’t risk awakening her to the fact that the child she thought was her own was actually someone else.
“Naturally, things became complicated when the real daughter appeared unexpectedly at our door not so long after Karla. I have no excuse whatsoever for what happened thereafter. It was sheer negligence on my part as a father and husband because I could not protect the child I had promised to take care of and neither did I do anything to correct my wife’s behaviour. And on the part of my wife, she too has no excuses for her behaviour. At this point she was very much aware of the reality around her, enough to know what damage she was causing to the child she felt she had no more need for.
“It is with deep shame and embarrassment that I stand here to correct the stories that have been circulating in the media about what really happened at our home seventeen years ago, the pool side story. It is indeed a lie that Alex tried to drown her sister. It was in fact my wife that tried to choke Alex to death after discovering that Cathy had fallen into the pool on her own while she, my wife I mean had dozed off in her chair on the other side of the pool. Alex had seen the accident occur from her bedroom window and tried to call out for my wife but she was in deep sleep to hear anything. It was also Alex who ran from the house to save her sister and it was then that Mathilda woke up, upon hearing the commotion.
“It was unfortunate that Cathy who had not come to terms with the new member of the family and had for a while held some resentment towards the girl she thought was trying to take her place…in her foolishness she lied to her mother that Alex had tried to drown her. It was a claim that my wife willingly accepted without question even though it was obvious our girl was lying.”
To everyone’s surprise, the professor broke down in tears and struggled to continue talking. “What’s even more shameful,” he painfully continued. “…is that while my wife was squeezing the life out of Karla, I did nothing to stop her. The only thing I could think about in that moment was that it would be better for everyone if she was just taken back to the place we got her from…or if she was just out of our lives, for good. I just wanted to protect my family and bring the peace back.”
“So was it your daughter who spread the lies about Alex in the media?” One reporter asked.
“You have to understand, my daughter had been through a lot and her childhood was far different from that of her peers.” The professor defended his daughter. “You can’t expect a child that was kidnapped and raised by some stranger for years to be normal or adjust well to her changing circumstances.” 
“Is that fool actually making excuses for his daughter?” Paulina asked, loud enough for everyone to hear. 
“I am not making any excuses,” he fired back. “I am just trying to make everyone understand that they can’t judge Cathy as they would any other girl her age out there. We her parents are to solely blame for the way she turned out. She was raised by a mother afraid to displease her daughter lest she disappeared again and a father who wanted nothing but to see his family happy. It is a fact that Cathy became accustomed to always having her way and unfortunately, she took that outside the home and approached the world with a sense of entitlement. 
“When she discovered that her boyfriend was too close to another female, she did the only thing she knew how to do, win him all to herself and that meant using whatever means possible to get rid of the competition. It was a sheer coincidence that the girl she was fighting against was the same girl she had an unfortunate past with. All the stories about Alex’s childhood, her relationship with Mr Cooper and his son and the other celebrity young man were all twisted by my wife and daughter to make Alex appear like a very bad person. None of it is true.”
“Why did you decide to tell the truth now?” Another reporter asked. 
“Because for once I wanted to be a father, not just to my biological daughter Cathy, but to Alex as well. I owe her a lifetime of apologies for letting her down. It’s about time that I acted as a man and do the right thing even if that thing might appear to harm my family. Now that the truth is out, maybe I can get my wife and daughter the right help that they require to deal with whatever issues we’ve been avoiding over the years.”
“Your wife and daughter spread lies about very important and famous people,” George shouted from the back. “Don’t think that you can get away with lawsuits just by standing there, shaking in your boots and all and acting remorseful. You guys need to pay for what you’ve done to these people and most importantly, to our friend Alex.” 
“I did not make the decision to do this out of fear.” Professor Russel answered. “I did it because I am too ashamed to continue living this kind of life and I desperately need it to come to an end. I am willing to face the legal consequences that will come after the revelations made today. I wish you all a good day.” With that, he turned and forced his way out of the crowd and into his office where he looked himself.
He found his phone ringing. He didn’t need to look to know who the incessant caller was. He grabbed his phone and turned it off just as another call from Mathilda was coming in. 
Alex was quickly whisked away by her friends the moment the professor was done with his speech and before the reporters turned their attention on her. They had had their scoop for the day. It was time to give Alex a break. 
“Where are you guys taking me?” Alex asked them.
“Just keep quiet young lady and let the adults work ah.” Paulina said.
They all laughed as they helped Alex into Duncan’s vehicle. 

On the other side of town, Oliver had just finished watching the unfolding news in his office in the company of Fantasia who had come running in his office to switch on the tele for him. 
“Well, who said that the first option on the list could actually turn into a reality?” Fantasia commented as she turned off the TV. “Did you tell Alex to go and meet him?”
“No!” Oliver answered a little too quickly. “She thought of that on her own. I haven’t even spoken to her since yesterday. She keeps ignoring my calls.”
“No woman really wants a coward for a lover you know.” She said, pretending to be concentrating on the cover of the magazine she was holding in her hands. 
“I am not a coward Asia.” Oliver said.
“Who said you were?” She was feigning innocence now. 
Oliver sat down in his chair. “I guess this means we don’t have to put out that release right?” 
“I bet you are dancing in your heart right now aren’t you?” Fantasia asked him, a look of disappointment on her face.
“Of course am happy!” Oliver said. “We just averted a PR crisis without lifting a finger on our part so why can’t I celebrate?”
“You are only happy because now it means you don’t have to tell the media about your relationship with Alex since the threat has been neutralized.” 
“You know I don’t like being pressured into aking decisions. Maybe now I can think clearly.” Oliver said.
Fantasia was shaking her head. “You know what’s sad?” She asked. “That you actually believe that the threat has been neutralized. You are here busy celebrating a victory when the real war is just starting out there. You might have lost a wife in death but you my friend are about to lose the best thing that ever happened to you. Can you even imagine a live without Alex?”
“I guess she is better off with someone that will love her without any sort of reservation. I can’t give her that. There’s just too much going on-“
“Let’s see if you will still be singing the same tune after today.” Fantasia said. “Sam is back in town.”