Evelyn did not understand Kelvin’s words and so she asked, “What do you mean break her heart and give her a brand new one?”
Kelvin then sat up and removed all the pillows that had been separating them on the bed.
“What are you doing?” Evelyn was clutching her hands to her chest as if to protect herself from whatever Kelvin was planning on doing. However, Kelvin made no effort whatsoever to reach out to her.
He was seated on the bed, his upper body resting on his lower body.
“There’s something that my mother said to me today that’s kept ringing in my head and I didn’t understand why until I came here.”
“What’s that?” She asked.
“I am going to suggest something to you,” he said. “It’s only going to be a suggestion and it’s up to you to decide whether you want in or not. I won’t pressure you and I will totally understand if you can’t.
“This is the only way I have thought of protecting you because nothing will stop my mother from doing you harm the moment she realizes who you really are or that I am in-love with you. She won’t even try to understand my reasons for wanting to end this whole thing. She will think that you are the reason.”
“And would she be wrong in thinking that?” Evelyn asked.
“Not really,” kelvin answered. “Yes you have a huge part to play in my sudden decision to stop with the revenge but that’s a feeling I’ve always had even before I met you. You coming into my life and me falling for you is what gave me the courage to put my foot down and confront my mother.
“However, that is not to say that I am an innocent victim that was manipulated by my mother, no. I am just as guilty as she is because I knew from the very beginning what I was getting myself into. I willingly did my part to aid her…and,” he dropped his eyes to look on the bed.
“I…I willingly did all those awful things to you.” He added.
“I know,” Evelyn’s eyes were fixed on him. “It’s your face that haunts me at night and awakens me in cold sweats every now and then, not your mothers.”
Kelvin slowly raised his head up again to look at her. “If your point was to hurt me deeply, you did a fantastic job.” There was no missing the shame written deep into his eyes.
“I also can’t believe that I did those things to you so I don’t expect you to forgive me.” He continued. “Whe I did those things…I was no worse than my mother, and didn’t even send me to do that. I won’t even ask for forgiveness because I don’t think I deserve it. I am just going to do everything in my power to make it up to you for the rest of my life.”
“How?” Evelyn asked.
“By saying what am about to say to you right now,” he was whilst smiling nervously. Just remember, I am not forcing you to do it. If you want, I can give you some time to think about it and if your answer is still no, then I will have no choice but to find another solution. Either way, I will not allow my mother to do anything to you.”
“Okay, ow you are starting to freak me out,” Evelyn said. “”Just tell me what you want to say so we can go to sleep.”
Kelvin burried his face in his hands and bent down for a few seconds before straightening up, sighing heavily and finally dropping his hands so he could look at her.
This time, there was a serious expression on his face.
* * *
When Kelvin went back to his place the next morning, he got his mother on the phone right away.
“Have you finally come to your senses?” Mervis asked sternly.
“Good morning to you too mother,” he said sarcastically.
“There’s nothing good about my morning so let’s cut to the chase. Where are Lucy’s children?” She asked.
“I didn’t call to tell you where the children are mum. I called to ask you to give me more time to think about it.”
Mervis scoffed. “Do you even hear yourself? Kelvin, stop playing games with me and tell me what I need to know.”
“Mother, this situation we are in right now is different from what you and I have been through together for the past twenty years. You want the children, I have the children and I am still not willing to give them to you.
“I know, you threatened to harm Moola if I don’t tell you where the kids are but we both know that you wouldn’t risk doing anything to her when the marriage is scheduled to take place in a few days time.”
Kelvin could feel his mother shift position from wherever she was. “The initial reason why that marriage was set in motion was only because we needed that family to be indebted to us after bailing them out from their financial woes. As their son in-law, they wouldn’t have hesitated trusting you to take care of their businesses after we invested in them.
“That was the original plan son.” Mervis was saying. “But you just told me that you are in-love with that Moola girl and you still expect me to believe that you would carry out our plans as before? Do you think am a fool?”
“I never told you that I was in-love with Moola,” Kelvin replied. “You came up with that conclusion all on your own.”
“Right now you would do anything to get the freedom you desperately desire so I won’t trust anything that comes out of your mouth. Just give me the kids and you can do whatever the hell you want with your life. Just don’t come running back to me when you realise how tough the world is without dear mama.”
Kelvin could sense how his mother was lowly backing him to a corner. There was never a moment in time when he had won an argument against his mother. Mervis Kangwa always had an answer to everything and she never lost at anything. She was a shrewd mother just as she was a businessman.
But Kelvin was no longer under her spell. That realization made him stop hitting his head against the wall and he stood up straight to drive his point across with as much conviction as he could master.
“I need a week mother,” he candidly stated. “I will be meeting Moola’s family over the weekend and I will inform them that there won’t be any wedding.”
Mervis was on her feet. “What?” She said.
“Exactly what you heard,” Kelvin said. “You have a choice to make; wait for me to make up my mind or go ahead and do whatever you feel like doing to Moola because I won’t be the one losing out.
“I asked for a week because I want to give you time to think thing through mother. It was never my intention to make you feel betrayed. I only did what I did because I care about you and I care about myself. It’s time to move on, to let go so we can live our lives in peace. Unlike you, I have never ever had the chance to fall in-love, date whoever I like, makes mistakes, get married and have my own children to protect and fight for.
“But you…you had the chance to do all that mother.” Kelvin’s voice was on the verge of breaking but he was too determined to say his piece without breaking down. It was time for him to be a man.
“You, dad and Nora, you all had the chance to have all that. Not me.” Kelvin pressed on. “If you truly loved me as a mother ought to love her children, then you should be the first one wishing those things for me. But instead, you want to drag us both to infinity fighting demons that we’ve allowed to control us when we can easily say no and walk away.
“I want to walk away mother, and I want you to do the same. Punish Beatrie all you want but do it now and get over it. I am not trying to stop you from exerting your revenge, I am simply saying, do it now. How much satisfaction do you intend to get for all this that you are willing to lose your only son in the process?
“If even after a week you don’t change your mind, I will give you what you want and I will walk out of your life forever. I will settle down, have a few kids and you will never get to meet your grandchildren because you will be too much avenging the lives of those that are no more. Think about it mother.”
Throughout his monologue, Kelvin had been expecting his mother to interrupt and dismiss him rudely but he was shocked to have been able to say all that out without interruption.
A huge part of him was dying to know if his mother had heard any of the things he had said because even though he could hear her breathing on the other end of the line, he was not sure if she had actually been listening.
“You have really thought hard about this haven’t you?” Mervis’ voice finally came through.
“As a matter of fact, I did.” Kelvin said.
“One week, that’s all you get.” Mervis said after cold moment of silence.
Kelvin was finally able to smile. He let out a deep sigh of relief. “Thank you mother,” he said.
“Don’t thank me just yet, I haven’t made any decisions yet.” And she cut the line.
An excited Kelvin immedately called Evelyn to deliver the good news.
“She bought it!”
“Yes, she gave me a week.”
“I don’t know Kelvin,” Evelyn didn’t seem to take the news as well kelvin had hoped.
“Why, you don’t sound too happy?” He said.
“Your mother scares me,” she said. “I think she’s too clever to have bought into that. What if she….”
“We talked about this Eva,” Kelvin reminded her. “I thought you trusted me.”
“It’s not that, I trust you…but, now she’s going to want to know everything that’s going on around you. Who knows what she might do the moment she discovers the truth? A week is too long for her to outsmart you Kelvin, no disrespect or anything, but she’s been doing this kind of thing longer than you have.”
“I know,” Kelvin said, his voice heavy with emotion.
“Why did it have to be a week?” Evelyn asked. “Couldn’t you have just said a few days or so?”
“Because whatever conclusion my mother comes up with, she will still need to have her revenge and I happen to hold the cards to two of her major projects; Lucy and Moola’s marriage.
“For her to get her ultimate revenge, she needs me. One week because she will need that much time to plan anything and I know for a fact that she will do everythig in her power to put me at a disadvantage so that she can yield me to her power and control again.”
Just like Kelvin had suspected, Mervis too was on another call immediately after talking to her son.
“I want you to follow him everywhere he goes and find out everything you can about everyone he meets, talks to or even waves at.”
“Yes ma’am,” a male voice returned and Mervis ended the call.
“Kelvin,” she said as she paced back and forth around her living room, turning her phone around in her hands as her mind took her on a deep long journey.
“You actually think that you can out-smart me?” Mervis said with a look of derision on her face.
And then she burst out laughing like she had just been possessed by something.
* * *
With only less than ten days remaining to the biggest day of her life, Moola was quickly growing weary of her man’s lack of contact. There had never been a time in their relationship when Kelvin had stayed without contacting her for more than two hours and now for close to a week, he either missed her calls or said he would call her back and never actually did.
To make matters worse, she could not find him at his office or office and the idea of not knowing what was going on with him eat at her to near madness. The excuse everyone around her was giving her was wedding jitters but no matter how convincing that theory was to everyone else, something told Moola that there was something else at play than just jitters.
Thus, she turned to the only person she knew could give her the answers she was seeking; Mervis.
Moola found Mervis sunbusking by the poolside in front of her house and looking like the perfect portrait of a very fit modern rich woman. Moola puckered her lips tightly thinking about her disdain for the woman who acted like she owned the world and treated her like she was not good enough for her son.
Unfortunately, Moola had over the years been forced to reconcile her mind to the fact that the disdain she felt for her mother in-law was equally, if not thrice reciprocated and that even though she could not openely express her feelings, the latter would, could and gladly did so whenever the opportunity presented itself.
However, the nature of Moola’s visit that mid-morning required that she fold her pride and feelings and lock them somewhere she could not tap into for at least the length of the pending meeting.
Thus, she forced a smile on her face and proudly defying gravity in her eight inch designer heels, she graced the tiled ground of Mervis’s yard that led to the swimming pool like a debutant from a British colony.
Even though Mervis could see Moola approaching from her sitting position, she made no effort to sit up and welcome her. Instead, she raised her hand to the sky as if to will the sun that had just disappeared behind the clouds to shine again.
“Good morning Mrs Kangwa?” Moola towered over her, in the process blocking her from the sun that had unceremoniously picked that very moment to appear from behind.
“Don’t you know that it’s very rude to address your mother in-law whilst standing like a tree over her? Didn’t your mother teach you anything?” Mervis hissed.
Moola slowly took off her sunglasses and glared at her mother…but only for a few seconds before putting the smile back on.
“You told me to relax around you the first time we met,” Moola reminded her. “You said you were a modern mother in-law. You should have informed me when you decided to change to a traditional one.”
Mervis was still too fluid, soft and bruised from her recent conversation with her son and if Moola knew just how much on thin on ice she was treading, she would have changed her usual brat attitude before Mervis unleashed her wrath on her.
Mervis slowly sat up from the chaise lounge she had been laying on and taking off her glasses, she sent Moola one cold and long contemptious look.
“This is exactly why I dont like you,” Mervis said as she put laid her sunglasses down on the table on the side of her chair.
“The problem with you little girls of nowadays is that you are o excited about getting married when you know nothing, not even a single thing about what it means or what it takes to run such a kind of responsibility.
“So I told you that I am a modern mother in-law and you took it to mean that I shouldn’t be respected?” Mervis berated her, and then sneered at her.
“Get down on your knees,” Mervis commanded. “Now!” she added when Moola appeared hesitant, looking at her in disbelief and then looking down at her beautiful white lace dress that reached exactly above her knees and was shimmering against the sun’s rays in all it’s angelic glory.
“You want me to to kneel down on this dirty ground?” Moola quipped.
Mervis shot her another disapproving look that ripped through her skin and sent her blood cells running for cover.
She dropped to her knees in a heartbeat.
“What are you doing here unannounced?” Mervis asked.
“I need to talk to Kelvin,” Moola said, her pitch too had gone a few hertz down in response to gravity.
“I don’t live with Kelvin,” Mervis retorted. “I thought you knew the ins and out of his house like a cockroach. Why are you looking for him here?”
Even though Mervis was acting smug with Moola, she too was curious about Kelvin’s movements lately. For the past few days, the mother had to embrace a new fact about her relationship with her son; she knew nothing about him.
Inevitably, that realization also came with another fact; that Kelvin might…or could after all control her to his will.
It is easier to defeat or plan a strategy against an enemy whose methods of attack you are aware of or familiar with. But with Kelvin, Mervis could no longer be sure of what he was capable of or what weaknesses he had.
She had hoped that Moola might turn out to be a weakness but her presence at her house meant only one thing; that he was going ahead with his plans of calling off the wedding.
But even with that highest probability that came with that possibility, there was no way Mervis could be sure if her son had meant his threat or not, or if he was simply waiting for her to fold in her revenge.
Mervis needed answers and she needed them as soon as yesterday.
“He hasn’t called me for days now and he keeps ignoring my texts and calls. The last time we spoke was when he called me over the weekend and told me that the families need to meet over the coming weekend. He never explained why, just said it’s got something to do with the wedding and he cut the line. Does he want to break off the engagement Mrs Kangwa?”
Mervis was laughing, not the kind of response Moola was expecting after pouring out her concerns like that.
“Not as far as I know,” Mervis answered. “It’s probably just wedding jitters.”
“That’s exactly what my mother said and my father said that you are too greedy for money to let him walk away from this wedding so I shouldn’t worry about a thing…but am getting scared now.”
Mervis was dumbfounded by the girl’s lack of tact. “There should be a law against pretty girls being so dumb,” she said whilst giving her potential daughter in-law a pitiful look. “Your kind of stupid goes against all the laws of nature…tsk tsk tsk.”
Moola’s lips were more than ready to offer a retort but she remembered why she was there and immediately redirected the air flowing to her diaphragm.
“You can insult me all you want, I am already used to it by now. Just tell me, where could Kelvin be? I have searched for him everywhere but he’s nowhere to be found and his phone is off most of the time.”
“Do you honestly think that a man that age would tell his mother everywhere he goes?” Mervis asked.
“Kelvin would,” Moola answered. “He’s always been a mama’s boy.”
Mervis had a bitter-sweet smile on her face. If only you knew, she thought as he mulled over Moola’s words.
“I have been debating whether to go and see that girl he’s been hanging around with but Cassie tells me she hasn’t seen him around that area for a while now.”
Moola finally had Mervis’s full attention.
“What girl? And what area?” she asked.
“Can I stand up now and sit over there?” Moola was pointing to the chair next to Mervis and rubbing her knees with her other hand.
“Tell me what girl you are talking about first and I will let you sit.” Mervis was almost yelling.
Moola was smiling as she studied Mervis’ reaction. “I knew you wanted this marriage as much as I do! And dad was right after all.”
“Moola, don’t test my patience.” By now, Mervis has fully turned her body around and was facing Moola.
“It’s that same girl he met when he was trying to help your brother with that case.” Moola explained. “I only know her as Evelyn.”
The first image that flashed across Mervis’s mind was of a beautiful and elegant ly dressed Evelyn walking into the hotel on the arm on Lebogang.
Mervis remembered how quickly her son had dragged her away and asked her to leave so early despite forcing her to attend the function in the first place.
And then she remembered the number of times her brother’s case had come up in their conversations and suddenly, very so suddenly, she had found the first piece of the complicated puzzle.
“Why didn’t I think of that?” Mervis asked in a very low voice. The question was mostly directed at herself than her companion.
“That girl you mention, where does she stay?” Mervis asked, anxiously waiting for an answer.
Moola was looking at her suspiciously. “Why the so much interest in this girl?” She couldn’t help asking. “Do you think that he is cheating on me with her?” She had a petrified look on her face as she asked the question.
“Calm your lungs down,” Mervis said, grabbing a towel, standing and wrapping it around herself. “I have also been meaning to meet that girl because she knows something about my brother’s case but Kelvin kept telling not to get involved.”
Without waiting for permission, Moola quickly stood up and started wiping the dirt off her knees whilst mumbling some inaudible’s under her breath.
“Her address!” Mervis yelled.
“She lives in Handsworth, I can text you her address if you like.”
“Text it, now.” Mervis said and started running towards her house.
On the drive to the address, Mervis called her PI and gave instructions;
“Find out everything you can about a girl named Evelyn that works as a secretary for Sibu & Associates Law Firm…yes, just the first name; I don’t know her last name also. Find out everything you can right away. That’s why I pay you. Give me a call in the morning tomorrow.”
Evelyn…Evelyn…Evelyn…just who the hell are you and where did you come from? Mervis thought as she drove like a mad woman to Evelyn’s place.
After knocking like a wild dear on Evelyn’s door and no response came, Mervis went to the one place she thought she might be during a weekday; her place of work.
Mervis walked into S&A like a woman with a bone to chew with the firm. The angry expression on her face almost made Helen the receptionist want to jump under her table for cover.
“Good….” Before Helen could even finish her greeting and deliver her forced smile, Mervis cut her off and went straight to the point.
“Where’s Evelyn? I am looking for a girl named Evelyn.”
For a brief moment, Helen had this knowing look on her face but it quickly disappeared when she realized Mervis’ glare was burning into her skin.
“May I ask for her last name ma’am and if you had an appointment?” Helen asked politely.
Mervis leaned in towards her from the other side of the reception desk and banged her hand against the desk. “Do you have any idea who you are talking to like that young lady?” Mervis asked the twenty-five year old petite receptionist.
“I am very sorry ma’am, I never got your name,” Helen said.
“That’s because I never told you my name in the first place and I am not the kind of woman that needs an introduction anywhere I go.”
Whilst Mervis was going off about herself, Helen was looking at her computer monitor at the reply she had received from Sibu after she had sent her a short text alerting her of Mervis’ presence in the building the moment she had seen her walk through the doors.
Keep her busy until I get there, read the message from Sibusiswe.
“Well, it would really help me to know who you are and the full name of the person you are trying to meet because there are a lot of females with that name in this place.” Helen said and she literally had to move a few steps backwards behind her desk to keep Mervis who looked more than ready to strive land one on her.
“What’s your name young lady?” Mervis asked, taking her phone out from her handbag and looking ready to call someone.
Without hesitation or fear, Helen provided her name. “Helen Bwalya,” she candidly provided. “And without meaning to be rude, I would ask that you take one of the seats over there while you make your private calls as I would like to get back to other clients.”
She was pointing at the switchboard on her desk that was blinking all kinds of red.
It appeared Mervis’ temper had reached a boiling point. she was about to follow Helen where she was standing when she heard a voice behind her that made her stop.
“What’s going on here?” it was Sibu.
Mervis turned to look at the intruder. “You must be the owner of this place,” she said. “I have seen your face in the papers a couple of times. Don’t you people have any standards for picking employees?”
Looking unperturbed and not in the slightly intimidated, Sibu said, “You are Mrs Kangwa. We’ve met a few times at different events. It’s my pleasure to have someone of your standing pay our firm a visit.” She reached out her hand but it wasn’t taken.
Sibu dropped her hand and folded her arms across her chest, a smirk dancing provocatively on her face.
“I didn’t come to this small law firm to do business. As you might already know, I happen to have higher standards.” Mervis said.
“I see, that’s too bad,” Sibu replied. “Then did you perhaps make an appointment with someone working here?”
“I need to see a girl named Evelyn. She is a secretary here?” Mervis answered.
“And what’s her last name please?” Sibu asked.
“How the hell am I supposed to know her last name? How many secretaries named Evelyn do you have?”
Sibu turned to Helen. “Helen dear, how many?”
“Four ma’am,” the receptionist replied.
“How about you ask all four of them to come here instead of wasting my time like this?” Mervis snapped.
Sibu closed the distance between her and Mervis and putting a hand over her shoulder she said, “Madam Kangwa, how about you and I talk in my office? You appear very agitated and it makes me even more uncomfortable to summon my employees down here when I can sense that you did not come here in good faith. How about you and I talk in private and we can determine how best I can be of help once I know what your need is.”
Mervis shot her a grave look. “My business with this Evelyn girl has absolutely nothing to do with you so don’t go feeling high and mighty asking to talk in private about things that aren’t any of your business.”
Sibu was smiling the whole time Mervis was talking, much to the latter woman’s chagrin.
“I was actually hoping you would say that,” Sibu said. “I am very glad you are aware that this is a place of work for whoever you are looking for. You coming here in this manner shows no respect for this firm and everyone under it.
“If you have personal business with an employee, I suggest that you make time with them and meet them outside these premises. You seem to be a very educated and proper lady, you run businesses too so I don’t doubt that you understand exactly what am talking about.”
Mervis appeared to be at a loss for words for a moment, something she was very unfamiliar with.
“I will leave now,” Mervis huffed when she finally found her voice. “It’s not like I have no other means of fishing her out. Good day.” And she walked away from them before they could say another word to her.
“Good job Helen,” Sibu had turned to the receptionist once they were sure Mervis had disappeared from the building.
“Is Evelyn going to be okay ma’am?” A visibly disturbed Helen asked. She had known Evelyn for just a few months but the two of them had grown fond of each other in just that short period. It was hard for anyone that met Evelyn to not like her.
“Of course she will be,” Sibu said with enough conviction to put the girl’s mind at rest. “She is not alone after all. Just be vigilant, that woman is too determined to find her. She might send someone else to come snoop around. Let me know immediately you sense anything suspicious.”
“With pleasure Mrs Lungu!” Helen excitedly answered.
Back in her office, Sibu made a call to Kelvin.
“Your mother just left,” she told him.
Sibu could hear him sigh heavily on the end of the line.
Kelvin was rubbing in frustration the part of his face just between his eyes. He was standing in the middle of a living room that appeared to be part of a hotel suite.
“So she’s already found out…” he said.
“Not much it appears,” Sibu informed him. “Just her name at most. She didn’t seem to know her last name but it’s just a matter of hours before that information comes to her.”
“I know,” Kelvin said.
“Is she with you?” Sibu asked. “Can I talk to her?”
“Yes, she’s with me,” Kelvin said and started walking towards the closed door on the other side of the suite. “She hasn’t been feeling well since yesterday…I think the stress if finally getting to her.”
Kelvin opened the door and froze there.
“Kelvin, is everything okay?” Sibu could sense something when Kelvin suddenly went quite.
“I left her sleeping in bed,” Kelvin said whilst looking at the huge bed in front of him. He then entered the room and started calling out her name and when no response came, he checked the bathrooms…there was still no sign of Evelyn.
Kelvin was now in a state of panic. He checked every corner of their hotel suite and couldn’t find her.
“Her handbag is gone too Sibu,” Kelvin said as he stood helplessly in the bedroom.
“When was the last time you saw her?” Sibu too was now restless. “Have you checked the rest of the hotel? Maybe she didn’t go far.”
Kelvin was running out of the room before Sibu could even finish talking.
“Where could she have gone?” Sibu asked, but Kelvin who was running down the stairs because he could not wait a second longer for the lift that seemed to be taking forever to reach their floor.
Kelvin headed straight to the reception desk and almost fell forward in his frantic state.
“Did you see my….”
“Your wife sir?” the young woman asked. “I saw her walk out of here a few minutes ago. A man stopped her right outside there,” she was pointing to towards the entrance.
“They talked for a little bit before he led her to his vehicle that was parked on the other side of the road.”
“A man? What man?” Kelvin asked.