Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 19

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Beatrice staggered out of the bank like a drunk woman, her mind replaying those moments with Shadreck when she should have questioned things instead of blindly putting her trust in the love of a sixty year old man over his much younger wife.

Beatrice’s confidence that age was enough to keep her man had made her so shallow that she could not imagine Shadreck betraying her or leaving her for another woman. In her head, he was the lucky one for having found himself such a beautiful young wife who could love him as much as she showed him she did.

She was aware of Shadreck’s wondering eyes once in a while but what man wasn’t like that? She had given him a home and a family that he so desperately wanted and she had faith that these things together where enough to seal their fate together until such a time when he died and she would start afresh with a much younger man.

Not once had she pictured that scenario playing the other way round.

The foul taste of the betrayal and the shock lingered in her mouth and made her stomach churn in disquietude. She clutched her stomach as she started walking towards the parking lot, stopping once in a while to find something to hold on and to catch her breath.

Her heart was racing, fast and loud, blocking out all other sounds around her. One of the shoppers at the mall, a gentleman in his early thirties approached her and placed a hand on her to help steady her.

“Are you okay madam?” the young man asked the emotionally and physically drained Beatrice who was holding on to a wall, anxiously waiting for her vision to become steady so she could cross the road leading to the parking lot.

Beatrice slowly lifted her head up to look at the man holding her and she shrugged his hand away.

“Get away from me!” She yelled at him, drawing the attention of everyone in sight.

“Calm down, am just trying to help.” The gentleman said. “You look a little disoriented. I am a doctor….”

“I have my own personal physician,” she snapped. “I don’t need some random stranger touching me and trying to take advantage of me. Leave me the hell alone.”

The poor man raised his hands in surrender and walked away from her.

Beatrice rushed across the road and was almost bashed by an oncoming vehicle. The driver went at his hooter with all his might and Beatrice stopped to shout at him.

“Run me over if you dare you jerk!” She shouted.

The man simply gaped at her in absolute disbelief and waited for her to cross over to the car park.

She got into her car and drove like a mad woman to her house, all the while desperately trying to get hold of Shadreck on his cell.

I lost my phone in the process and didn’t bother to get a new one since I knew I would be home soon. His words echoed through her head and she sent her phone flying in the air.

Finally at home, Beatrice busted into her house screaming her husband’s name but no response came.

“Mum,” Mark was standing at the bottom of the stairs calling out to his mother who was busy banging doors and shouting upstairs.

“Where is your father?” Beatrice shouted from the top of the stairs.

“How the hell am I supposed to know?” the teenager answered. “I got here just a few minutes ago.”

“And your sister, is she back yet?” Beatrice asked. “Moola!” She yelled out.

“Mum!” Mark yelled back. “You are going to break all the bulbs with your screams. Calm down. Did something happen? Is this about Moola’s wedding?”

“It’s none of your business young man,” Beatrice turned and walked to her bedroom.

Down the stairs, Mark was shaking his head slowly. “Tsk tsk tsk…menopause,” he said and went into the living room to watch TV.

Beatrice was on her computer furiously and desperately trying to log in to her bank account online but her password kept getting rejected.  She was about to throw the laptop down when she heard the door downstairs open.

She ran out of the bedroom and peered down the stairs and saw Moola enter the house.

“What’s wrong with you too?” the oblivious Mark asked his sulking sister.

“Don’t talk to me today if you want to live.” Moola said and started heading towards the stairs.

Beatrice met her at the bottom of the stairs. “Why is your phone off!” She asked her daughter.

“I have been trying to get hold of you for hours now. Did you talk to your father? I saw that you were the last person he called from the landline. Do you know where he is?”

Moola’s eyes as she looked at her mouth were packed with contempt and scorn.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Beatrice asked.

Moola started shaking her head slowly. “You disgust me.” She told her mother and tried to walk past her to get on the stairs.

But Beatrice grabbed her hand and pulled her back. “How dare you talk to me like that young lady!? So what if you were dumped? That doesn’t give you the right to be this disrespectful to your mother. Are you the first person in the world to be jilted?”

“Respect?” Moola pursed her lips at her. “Did I just hear you talk about respect, mother?” She deliberately stressed the last word and then scoffed. “You are one to talk.”

“Why are you talking to me like this?” Beatrice demanded to know.

Meanwhile, Mark was watching the two women in amusement, saying out scores depending on whom he felt gave the most astounding retort.

“I should have been recording this…if only my battery wasn’t low.” He said to himself, looking at his phone to see his battery life marked in red.

“I’m too tired and depressed to fight with you right now. I’m going to take a nap.” Moola said and started stepped away from her mother to get on the stairs but again, Beatrice grabbed her back.

“What do you mean I am one to talk?” Beatrice asked.

Moola looked down at the part of her hand where her mother was gripping. “You are hurting me,” she said.

“I won’t let go until you tell me why you are being such a brat!” Beatrice yelled.

“You want to know?” Moola asked. “Okay, am going to tell you. Dad is gone and it’s all your fault!”

The smile on Mark’s face disappeared within the blink of an eye.

“What do you mean your dad is gone?” Beatrice asked.

“He is gone! He has left us!” Moola shouted. “He got so tired of your lies that caused him to lose all of our money and he just couldn’t deal with all the misfortunes you’ve brought this family.”

“What are you talking about?” Beatrice asked, shaking all over and her eyes dancing in confusion.

“What are you talking about sis?” Mark had joined them at the bottom of the stairs to echo his mother’s words. “What do you mean dad is gone?”

Moola turned towards her younger brother, the puzzled look on his face immediately brought tears to her eyes.

“What’s wrong Moola? Did something happen to dad?” Mark asked again, his voice too shaking from the imaginations running through his mind.

“Answer your brother!” Beatrice shouted and started shaking her daughter. “Where is your father?”

Moola pushed her mother away with so much force and sent her tumbling backwards.

She then turned to her brother. “Go to your room right now and park all your stuff. We are leaving this house today.” And she ran up the stairs living her brother and mother in shock.

Beatrice quickly got up to her feet and ran after her daughter, catching her right outside her bedroom.

“Why are you behaving like this?” Beatrice asked. “What did your father tell you?”

“He told me everything mother!” Moola said. “About the lies you’ve told us all these years, your dirty secrets, how you seduced someone else’s husband, had a daughter with him and when he refused to marry you, you abandoned that child.

“I know that that child is that Evelyn girl who it turns out is now married to Kelvin, the man I was scheduled to marry tomorrow, the man who it turns out is the brother to the woman whose husband you seduced twenty something years ago.

“That woman died right outside your place and her father committed suicide a few days later because he could not live with the guilt of watching his daughter die right in front of him and not being able to protect her.”

The shock of Moola’s words sent Beatrice reaching for the top rails of the stairs. However, Moola was not, even for a second touched by her mother’s desperate and unfortunate state. She was not in the mood to be taken in by her manipulation.

She followed her where she was, crouched and desperately gripping the rail for support.

“How did you…how….” Beatrice’s quivering lips were keeping her from uttering anything sensible. She stammered her way through her sentences and Moola could only shake her head in disappointment at watching her mother crumble down so easily.

Unaware of Mark’s presence who was still standing at the bottom of the stairs, Moola went at her mother again.

“Mrs Kangwa?” Moola continued. “You remember don’t you?” She asked. “Of course she looks different now but that only goes to show just how determined she was to make you pay for what you did to her family.

“Because you were so greedy for other people’s things, things you did not deserve, you dragged us all down with you and now look where we are; I was engaged and then jilted by a man that didn’t even love me, dad’s businesses kept hitting stumbling blocks because there were people out there punishing him for the wrongs  that you committed.

“He lost all of his fortune due to a trap that Kelvin’s mother set up for him and now we have nothing. Thanks to you, some woman was sent into dad’s path to seduce him and take him away from you and now he would rather be with that family instead of us. That’s how much he detests you mother.”

Beatrice appeared almost out of breath. She was gasping for air, hitting her chest with one hand and using the other to steady herself against the rail of the staircase.

“It can’t be…that’s…that’s…not…true….” Beatrice was whispering, her hand softly hitting her chest in her desperation to calm her racing heart.

Slowly, the walls around her started drawing closer and closer, threatening to squeeze her into oblivion.

When everything else around started fading, Beatrice could no longer make out her daughter’s screaming words. She could see her mouth move when she tried to look up at her but she could not hear her.

Tasting for the last time the saltiness of all her sins now painted in liquid onto her face;

Beatrice hit the ground and right before losing consciousness, she heard her two children call out to her from a distance.

“Mum!!!!”

* * *

Somewhere in Zanzibar

Evelyn was awakened by the smell of bacon in the room. She opened her eyes and found a smiling Kelvin holding a tray of breakfast over her sleeping figure. She slowly sat up and rubbing her eyes said;

“That smells sooo good.”

“I know,” Kelvin said, laying the tray on her laps.

However, no sooner had Evelyn come in close contact with the food than she rushed out of bed and into the bathroom to throw up.

But nothing came out.

Kelvin was right behind her, watching her struggle to vomit with a proud grin on his face.

Evelyn raised her head to look at him in disapproval. “How can you smile like that when I am close to vomiting?”

“I told you,” Kelvin was saying, leaning the side of his body against the door frame and crossing his arms over his chest. “You are pregnant.” He said, still smiling.

“I am not!” Evelyn said. “It’s that shrimp you made me eat last night. I felt like vomiting the moment I put it in my mouth. I told you, am really not a fun of sea food.”

Evelyn spat, flashed and walked over to the sink to wash her face.

Kelvin went to stand behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind.

She smiled and stopped whatever she doing. “What do you think you are doing?” She asked him.

Kelvin laughed. “Hugging my wife good morning.” He proudly stated.

“It still feels so surreal,” She told him, raising her hand to look at her ring. “Are we really married?” she asked.

“Of course we are,” Kelvin said. “And you could be carrying a Minnie-me or Minnie-you in here.” He was gently rubbing her tummy.

Evelyn grabbed his arms and pushed him away. “I told you, I am not pregnant. You can even iron something on my stomach without hitting any bumps.” She grabbed a towel from the rail, dried her face and walked passed Kelvin back to their room.

Kelvin followed her and grabbed her by the hand. He turned her to face him and with a serious expression on his face, he asked, “is it that you don’t want to carry my baby?”

Evelyn chuckled at the absurdity of his unexpected question. “Why would you think that?” She asked.

“I don’t know,” Kelvin shrugged his shoulders. “It’s just that…that first time I suggested lying to my mother about you being pregnant, you freaked out…and every time I ask you to get a pregnancy test, you insist that you are not. I was kind of hoping that you would be as excited as I am at the possibility of….”

Evelyn put a finger on his lips. “Shhh,” she said.

Kelvin stopped talking.

She put her hands on both sides of his face and pulled him down towards her, gave him a long deep kiss and then released him.

Satisfied by the sudden turn of events, but still confused by the meaning of it, Kelvin was smiling and giving his new bride a questioning look at the same time.

“I’m scared,” Evelyn said, this time wrapping her arms around his waist.

“What are you scared of?” Kevin asked.

“What if we take a test and it turns out I am not pregnant?” She said. “I really want to be pregnant with your child but I also don’t want to jinx it by hoping. The only reason I am safe and alive is because we told your mother that I was carrying her grandchild. What if it takes a while for us to….”

Before she could finish, Kelvin grabbed her by the back of her head and planted a kiss on her forehead.

“I know you are pregnant,” he said with so much conviction.

“How can you be so sure? Have you ever made a woman pregnant?”

Kelvin laughed. “Hell no, you are definitely and most certainly my first womb.”

She laughed. “Then how can you be so sure?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just feel it.” and then he walked over to the dressing table, opened the top drawer and removed a pregnancy testing kit from a box.

“What?” Evelyn said in surprise. “When did you buy that?” She walked over to him and took the tester from him. “Unbelievable,” she said.

“I got it this morning while you were sleeping. There’s a pharmacy right outside the hotel. Go in there and try,” he was pointing to the bathroom.

“I am just from peeing!” Evelyn reminded him.

“Dammit!” he said.

Evelyn laughed.

“Can’t you force it?” Kelvin asked. “There’s always that bit that remains after….”

“Kelvin!” She threw him a disconcerting look.

Embarrassed, Kelvin turned and disappeared into the other room of their suite.

Evelyn followed him and went to sit on his lap, blocking his view of the TV. She held his head in place and told him, “I pee every five minutes, have you forgotten?”

Kelvin’s face completely lit up. He scooped her up in the air and started spinning around.

“I think I am going to vomit now,” Evelyn protested and he immediately put her down.

“I think breakfast might hasten things up,” She suggested. “What do you think?”

Without saying another word, Kelvin rushed back into the bedroom and came out with the tray they had left on the bed.

Thirty minutes later, Evelyn came out of the bathroom with a blank expression on her face and handed the stick to Kelvin who had been anxiously waiting, pacing around the bedroom.

“Two red lines, do they mean what I think they mean?” He asked as he examined the stipe.

“Umhu,” Evelyn replied and watched her husband lose control.

“We’ve been gone for more than a month now,” Evelyn said to Kelvin as they drove around the Island in their rented car a few hours later. “Isn’t it time to go back now?” She asked.

“I don’t have any motivation whatsoever to go back,” Kelvin answered honestly. “If I could have it my way, we would stay here forever.”

“Do you still think am not safe?” She asked.

“No,” he quickly answered. “It might take a while for my mother to get close to you but I know that she will eventually.” He assured her. “Before this revenge thing, she was a good person, strong willed, but still a good person.”

“I don’t expect you to say otherwise about your mother,” Evelyn said.

Kelvin chuckled. “Not my mother,” he said. “I have been through enough with her to know she is no saint. She has done enough things that could put her behind bars for many years but she’s been too careful in her plotting to attract the attention of law enforcers.”

“And what about you?”

Kelvin gave her a puzzled look. “What about me?” he asked.

Evelyn thought for a moment before opening her mouth. “How far did you go…as in terms of breaking the law to get revenge?”

Kelvin chuckled again. “You are asking if I killed anyone aren’t you?”

Evelyn looked away and gave no response, holding her breath as she waited for his answer

“I didn’t go that far Eva,” he told her. “I never took anyone’s life.”

Evelyn let out a sigh of relief.

“Ah,” Kelvin said upon seeing her release the breath she had been holding. “Did you actually think that I….”

“I don’t know!” Evelyn covered her face with her hands in guilt and shame for having doubted him, even if for a second. “You kidnapped me, stripped me naked and tried to rape me a couple of times. There was so much anger in your eyes I feared you might kill me.”

Kelvin shut his eyes for a few seconds as if to block out the horrible memories that made him feel the kind of shame he had never ever felt before in his life.

“Not my proudest moments,” he said, almost whispering the words. “I promised to make it up to you for the rest of my life and I intend to keep that promise. Do you believe me?” He was looking at her to hear her response.

“I believe you,” Evelyn answered.

Kelvin smiled. “Thank you.” he said and fixed his attention back on the road ahead.

“When did you tell your mother that we would be going back?” Evelyn asked.

“I told her next week,” Kelvin said. “She keeps calling everyday whining about the baby and how you should be under the guidance of an adult since you don’t have parents and what not.”

“Don’t tell me…”

“Yeah, exactly what you are thinking,” Kelvin confirmed her fears. “I told you, her bloodline is her weakness. She was raised at an orphanage for a while and she doesn’t know who her real parents are.

“My mother’s worst fear is dying and leaving no one behind to carry her legacy….like she dies and that’s the end; no one to carry her blood or to stay by her bedside holding her hand as the life slowly slips out of her. Her words,” Kelvin quickly added. “Not mine!”

Evelyn was quite for a while, but later she said, “I think I understand her fears.”

Kelvin turned to look at her, her heavy tone giving him extra concern.

“You know that you don’t ever have to feel like that anymore right?” He asked her.

Evelyn laughed softly. “I know,” she said, unconsciously rubbing her flat stomach.

Kelvin looked at her hands and smiled before turning his attention back on the road.

“We will go back home soon and I will build us a nice home for our family.” He was mostly talking to himself than to her.

Evelyn turned to look at his serious expression as he spoke.

“You will never be alone,” Kelvin said, his eyes still fixed on the road ahead. “I will protect you and my child with my very last breath.”

They drove in silence for a while, taking in the beautiful scenes of nature around them. This was the first time Evelyn had travelled outside Zambia and she ensured that she utilized every moment away from home to live the fairy-tale kind of life Kelvin had shown her in the past month…the kind of life that always seemed surreal even when she was right in the middle of it, experiencing every moment.

The kind of happiness she was experiencing was beyond anything she had ever dreamt for herself and that reality only heightened the fears and insecurities in her; that she might wake up one day and discover that it had all been a dream.

Thus, every night before she fell asleep, she prayed for the dream to last one more day….

And so far, it always did.

“What about Beatrice?” Evelyn later asked Kelvin as they drove to the nearest beach. “I know you don’t like me knowing about what’s going on back home but I overheard your conversation on the phone once when you thought I was sleeping. How is she doing now?”

Kelvin clenched his teeth at the mention of Beatrice’s name and tightened his grip on the steering wheel.

“What is it?” Evelyn could feel her husband tense up and wondered if there was something going on back home that she wasn’t aware of. “Is there something you are not telling me?” She asked.

Kelvin nervously smiled at her. “Of course not,” he said, turning to look at her for a few seconds.

“I just don’t like thinking about the woman, that’s all.” Kelvin said. “I know that despite everything that’s happened, she is still your mother….”

“I have never thought of her as my mother Kelvin,” Evelyn said. “I don’t expect you to feel bad or guilty about your feelings towards her. You are free to hate or loathe her as much as you want.”

Kelvin reached across to her and held her hand. “I am sorry Eva,” was all he could say in response.

* * *

Beatrice kept turning and tossing in bed, much to her daughter Moola’s chagrin who was sleeping next to her in their newly bought two-bedroomed apartment.

Moola sat up in frustration and woke her mother up. “Why did you insist on Mark taking that whole room to himself if you knew you would make it impossible for me to get any sleep?”

Beatrice sighed heavily and sat up as well. “Over my dead body will I let my only son sleep on the sofa in that tiny living room.”

Moola got out of bed and went to turn on the light.

This new bedroom was a far cry from the humongous master bedroom Beatrice had shared with Shadreck at their old mansion which the latter had sold behind her back.

It was only when Beatrice received an envelope with money in it that she learnt her now ex-husband had sold their home and split the money between them in half. She used that money to buy her children another house that was unfortunately twenty ties smaller than the house they were raised in.

She didn’t know whether to thank Shadreck for his consideration in leaving her half the money from the sale of their home or sue him for his betrayal. In the end, she had no choice but to move on since she could do neither as she had no idea where her husband was hiding.

Shadreck had secretly met with his children Moola and Mark the evening before he disappeared and made no efforts whatsoever to contact the woman he had spent the past twenty something years with except through his lawyers that came to hand Beatrice already signed divorce papers.

Moola went back to sit on the bed. “What do you think the people that did this to us are doing right now?” She asked her mother.

Beatrice grimaced and rolled her hands into fists at the thought of the people response for her fall from grace.

“Whatever they are doing, they better pray I don’t get my hands on them. This isn’t over.” She said sternly. “I will make every one of them pay for everything they’ve put us through.”

Moola scoffed. “How are you going to do that?” She asked. “We are broke. Apart from the money dad left Mark and I for school, we have nothing, absolutely nothing. So how do you plan on fighting giants when the only kind if ammunition you had was taken away from you?”

“Who says I need money to make them pay? I only need to touch one person and the rest of them will come crumbling down in pain.”

“What are you planning mum?” Moola asked, instantly growing perturbed. “You are not planning on hurting Kelvin are you?” She asked.

Beatrice threw her daughter a reprobating look. “He used you, dumped you and humiliated you. Why do you still care about him?”

Moola pouted. “I loved him for so many years,” she said. “My feelings can’t change just like that simply because I discovered he never loved me. He might have hated my family, but I still think that there was a part of him that cared about me. Dad even said that Kelvin begged his mother not to do me and Mark any harm.”

Beatrice felt like smacking some sense into her daughter. “Sometimes I wonder if maybe they switched you at the hospital.” She said.

“Maybe you should consider getting your other daughter back,” Moola suggested. “She managed to seduce another woman’s fiancé and even married him…. I say there’s no doubt she, is your daughter.”

Beatrice grabbed a pillow and smacked Moola at the back of her head.

“Ouch,” Moola said as she nursed the assaulted part.

“That’s for spouting nonsense,” Beatrice said and put the pillow back down. “That girl is no daughter of mine.” She added. “She is the worst mistake I ever made in my life. I should have gotten rid of her when I had the chance.”

Moola shivered at the sight of her mother’s deathly glow. “Stop looking like that, you are scaring me.”

Beatrice got out of bed and stood to the side, a new kind of conviction registering in her eyes. “To get rid of a problem, you must remove the root of the problem,” She said.

“What are you plotting to do mum?” Moola asked.

“You just wait and see,” Beatrice said. “You wait and see….”

A cold streak ran down Moola’s spine as she looked up at her mother. This was the first time since their father left that she had seen such conviction in her eyes.

Two Weeks Later

Kelvin parked to the side of the road outside the antenatal clinic when he saw his mother waiting for them by the gate.

“I am so nervous,” Evelyn said, tilting her chair back to avoid being seen by her mother in-law.

Kelvin laughed. “Even if you avoid seeing her now, you are still going to meet her the moment you get out of this vehicle.” He said. “I know it’s crazy that your first meeting is like this but what can we do? She insisted on taking you for your first visit and I am still feeling guilty about how I treated her so I couldn’t say no.”

“I know,” Evelyn said. “You did the right now. Who knows, maybe seeing the baby inside me will soften her up a little.”

Kelvin laughed. “That’s exactly what am hoping for. She’s seen us, she’s waving at me.”

Evelyn raised her seat up and nervously waved back at Mervis. “Ooh she looks pissed.” She said between clenched teeth so the woman wouldn’t be able to read her lips from the distance. “Is that your phone vibrating?” Evelyn searched for her husband’s phone.

“I threw it in the laptop in the back seat,” Kelvin said as he waved back at his mother standing on the other side of the road. He opened the door and came out.

“We are coming mother!” Kelvin shouted.

“I am tired of standing here waiting for you people to show up!” Mervis shouted back. “I thought you were not coming.”

“Go back inside mum,” Kelvin said, but his voice was muffled by the sound of a vehicle passing by. “We will meet you inside.”

“What did you say?” Mervis shouted back.

Kelvin laughed. “She’s not hearing me.” Kelvin said to his wife.

“It’s a call from work honey,” Evelyn said whilst looking at his phone.

“Oh shit!” Kelvin cussed and quickly took the phone from her. “I forgot to tell Nzila that I would be late for today’s meeting. “Go inside, I will meet you guys there. I need to take this.”

Before Evelyn could protest, Kelvin had already answered the phone. Evelyn looked across the street to the entrance of the clinic where Mervis was standing and the hairs at the back of her head stood up.

She slowly got out of the car, grabbed her handbag from the back, checked both sides of the road for oncoming traffic and seeing no vehicle in sight, she slowly started walking towards her fierce mother in-law.

Breathe Eva, breath, she kept telling herself as she crossed the road.

Evelyn was too busy coaching her heart to calm down that she did not notice Beatrice parked on the other side of the road just a short distance away from the entrance of the clinic where Mervis was standing, shielded from sensing Beatrice’s presence by the mango tree looming over the wall fence.

The moment Evelyn stepped her feet onto the tarmac, Beatrice hit the gas and went at her with every cent she had lost.

“Evelyn nooo!”

Evelyn was still mustering her courage when she heard someone shout her name from across the street. She opened her eyes to find Mervis running after her.

The first thing Kelvin heard where tires screeching hard against the tarmac.

It was a deja-vu moment that made his blood turn.

The smell of burning tires and spilled oil…he recognized the smell of doom.

Gripped by a sudden overpowering fear, the phone slipped from Kelvin’s hand and the screen shuttered into pieces the moment it hit the ground.

He turned towards the sound of the vehicle and the then next thing he saw was his mother’s bleeding body rolling out of the road while Evelyn was on the other side, crouched on all fours with a look of horror on her face as realization of what had just happened slowly sunk in.

Kelvin had started running towards his mother when he heard the bang and found himself transposed back into time.

More familiar sounds of metal against metal, tires screeching and glass breaking.

Beatrice’s vehicle had become one with an oncoming truck.

Kelvin remained rooted to the ground, paralyzed by time when the past and the present collided, resulting in a single moment that was suffocating the life out of him.

Just before the darkness could completely envelop him, Kelvin caught a glimpse of Evelyn sobbing as she crawled towards his mother in agony.

“Mum.”

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Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 18

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“Where have you taken my children?” Shadreck asked Kelvin.

Mervis shot Shadreck a look that would have frozen any water particles in sight.

“Do you think this is the time to talk about those bastards of yours?” Mervis yelled at him.

“Your children are safe Mr Mwangala,” Kelvin assured him. “And do forgive me for using them in such a manner…I really had no choice.”

The calm with which Kelvin was carrying himself despite the gravity of the situation made Shadrecks blood boil.

Mervis too looked about ready to shoot something.

“How can I trust the word of the man who’s been after my family for all these years?” Shadreck asked.

Kelvin laughed. “I know,” he said nonchalantly. “But do you think that you have any other choice right now? Who would you have rather liked to have them; my delightful fiery mother over here or a newly married man anxiously waiting for the birth of his very first child?”

“Do you think that…wife….” The word tasted like a bitter pill on Mervis’ palate. “…that that wife of yours will be pregnant forever? The moment she delivers my grandchild, that’s the end for her.”

“You see mother,” Kelvin moved closer to stand right in front of his mother. “By that time, you would have realized that there are far better things to live for than dedicating the remainder of your life hurting people that have done you no wrong.”

“That girl has done everything wrong to me.” Mervis said. “If she knew whose daughter she was, she shouldn’t have seduced my son and made him lose his senses in such a manner. Because of her, you turned your back on your own mother.”

“No mum, because of her I became a human being, and no, she never seduced me or anything like that. I was the one who went chasing after her every chance I got. I am not proud of the methods I used to get her attention but I don’t regret anything. Thanks to her, I have been given a second chance to start over again and there’s no going back.

“I hope you too can do the same…if only for the sake of your grandchildren. However, if you continue to be this bitter old woman, I will move out of this country with my family and you will never meet your grandchildren. I am sure I have shown you just how calculative and vigilant I can be if I put my mind to it. You will never find us, no matter how much you try. Maybe with all your money and power, you can buy yourself a whole new family.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” Mervis snapped.

Kelvin laughed. “I think you know I can and that scares you. The choice is yours mother; do as I say or risk losing your son and grandchildren.”

Kelvin watched his mother battle her inner demons. He had made his calculations well and he knew exactly what buttons to press to get to her. He might not be her proudest production but he was still her only son…her only child…her only family.

If she didn’t know it better, Kelvin had for the past weeks forced Mervis to recognize the fact that she could just as easily lose her only surviving child just like she had lost her daughter.

Even in their volatile twenty year old relationship as partner’s in-crime, it was always Kelvin she ran to when she needed an ear to talk to or a wall to release her frustrations out on. A world without Kelvin is a world Mervis could not dare imagine.

Kelvin new that and he capitalized dearly on it.

And just like that, Mervis sucked on the bitter pill, she battled to swallow, letting the taste linger a little longer on her tongue before finally finding the strength to move her tongue.

“What…would you…like me…to do?” Mervis asked her son.

Kelvin was beaming from ear to ear having finally succeeded in moving his mother’s will to his.

“Give Shadreck a chance to save his family,” Kelvin stated.

Shadreck welcome the news with a sudden glow in his eyes. He could finally smell some hope.

“Don’t celebrate just yet,” kelvin told him. “You just tried to sacrifice my wife, did you think you would get away with that? I might be cooler than my mother, but I am still her son. Vindictiveness runs in my blood.”

Mervis had a blank expression on her face, unable to decide whether to applaud her son or to smack him in the face for that veiled insult.

“Tell me whatever you want and I will do it…but please, keep my children out of it, I beg of you.”

“I want to give my mother an opportunity to see her nemesis pay dearly for the crimes she committed against my family…and you sir are going to help her achieve that.” Kelvin said.

Shadreck appeared confused, unable to grasp the meaning behind Kelvin’s words.

“And just what would you like me to do?” he asked. “You people have already taken everything from me. What more do you want?”

“No, not everything,” Kelvin answered. “There’s still that twenty percent that was left untouched…the one in your wife’s name. My mother here left it for last but we all know that the moment Beatrice realizes that you are now a very broke man, she is going to take that amount and run as fast as her two feet can to get away from you.

“You cannot let Beatrice find out about your finances until you get everything in order. Half of that money in Beatrice’s name is to go into an account I set up for Lucy and the other half is for Moola and her brother Mark. If you choose to betray me, I will let my absolutely pissed off mother here to deal with you the best way she can…and we both know she spares no one when she means to quench her thirst.”

Shadreck mulled over Kelvin’s words for a moment. He was right, Shadreck concluded. He was not too blindly in-love when he met Beatrice to not see that his money was the major thing that drew her to him. She might have come to love him along the years but still, that love was more of a fondness than anything else.

“How do you suggest I go about that?” Shadreck asked Kelvin.

“Always a perceptive man,” Kelvin said and moved to pat Shadreck on the shoulder.

“Before my mother dealt you a severe blow, you were such a stoic and ruthless businessman. I have no doubt you will find a way to handle your lovely young wife.”

And turning to his mother, “Do you have any objectives mother?” he asked.

Mervis threw him an austere look. “Do I look like I have a choice?” She said.

Kelvin laughed. “Oh yeah, you don’t.” he said smugly.

“And to reward you for your corporation,” Kelvin had turned back to Shadreck. “You will find Lucy and the kids at Shaka’s Grill in Roma. Those three seem to have taken well to the Zambian weather.”

Shadreck wasted no time in leaving. He was out of there with his minions before Kelvin or Mervis changed their minds.

“You should have given him his family after he gets the money from Beatrice,” Mervis said to her son once they were alone. “Now he’s going to pack up all of them and run as far away as possible. He might be broke now, but he still has very powerful connections.”

Kelvin smiled at his mother. “Faith mother,” he told her. “You should have some faith in people. Not everyone is as calculative as you. For that man, family means more to him than any amount of money. Besides, you have way more powerful connections than he.”

“I just don’t think he has the balls to betray Beatrice like that.” Mervis argued. “He is in-love with her. He had many opportunities to leave her in the past but he never did.”

“That was before Beatrice costed him his entire fortune and put his family in the line of fire…both literally and figuratively.” He was giving his mother an accusing look.

“Also,” Kelvin added. “Staying married to someone does not necessarily mean you have undying love for them. For others, it’s simply the fear of starting all over again. You should know that already…since half of your marriage life with dad was like that.”

“I liked you better when you spoke less and did everything you were told to do,” Mervis said. “This new person you’ve become creeps me out.”

Kelvin laughed and went to put his arm over his mother’s shoulders. “You might hate it now, but I am exactly the kind of son you always wished you had. You just need some time to get used to it.”

Mervis tried to remove his arm but Kelvin held on tightly. “Now, would you like to meet your daughter in-law?”

“Don’t push it Kelvin,” Mervis warned.

“Can’t blame a guy for trying.” Kelvin shrugged his shoulders. “Where are you parked?”

“Over there,” Mervis pointed to where her car was parked a few rows from where they were standing.

“Do you know what the good book says about children who do not honor their parents?” Mervis asked her son as they walked towards her car.

Kelvin raised his eyebrows and looked at her in disbelief. “Wow,” he said. “I guess I know exactly how Jesus felt when the devil quoted scriptures to him.”

“Are you calling me the Devil?” Mervis asked.

“Not exactly, but maybe in the first cousins kind of way…” he laughed.

“I wonder what that makes you if your mother is first cousins with the devil.”

“That’s exactly why I married an angel like Eva,” Kelvin said. “Maybe some of her goodness can rub off on me.”

“Her name in itself doesn’t give much hope. You should ask Adam.” Mervis said.

Kelvin laughed and moved to get the door for her. “There’s hope for everyone mother…even for people like you and me.”

Mervis settled behind the wheel and started the engine running.

“What about your minions?” Kelvin asked, checking to see if they were coming but none of them was in sight.

“They know what they’ve done,” Mervis said. “They are wise enough to know not to show up in front of me when they’ve messed up this big.”

“You can’t blame them,” Kelvin said to her through the window. “I’m just that good.”

In response, Mervis pulled the window up to shut her son up and drove off without saying goodbye.

With his hands in his pockets, Kelvin stood back and watched his mother drive off, a wide grin on his face.

“In time mother…in time….” He said to himself as Mervis’ car disappeared from  his view.

* * *

Despite not hearing from her fiancé for the whole week, Moola still held on to the hope that her wedding was still to take place the next morning.

Shadreck walked into the living room to find Beatrice trying to grill reality into their stubborn daughter’s face.

“I always knew that there was something fishy about that guy but you and your hormones kept insisting on marriage now look what has happened!” Beatrice was yelling on top of her voice.

“Don’t walk away from me, am still talking!” She grabbed her crying daughter by her sweater and forced her to sit back down.

“What’s going on here?” Shadreck finally made his presence known.

“Where have you been for the past three days?” Beatrice had found a new target for her tongue lashing.

“I told you that I went to take care of a few things concerning that contract,” A visibly tired Shadreck explained. “I lost my phone in the process and didn’t bother to get a new one since I knew I would be home soon.”

“What are you going to do about your daughter?” Beatrice asked.

“What about her?” Shadreck asked.

“Are you kidding me?” Beatrice yelled. “Have you been too busy with your business that you forgot your daughter’s wedding was scheduled for tomorrow morning?”

“Oh, that,” Shadreck said resignedly. “There isn’t going to be any wedding.” He pronounced nonchalantly, sitting down next to his daughter.

Both women were gaping at him in disbelief.

Moola was up on her feet. “What do you mean there isn’t going to be any wedding?” She asked her father.

Beatrice too came to tower over his sitting figure. “Did you manage to contact the Kangwa’s?” she asked.

“I did,” Shadreck said.

“We have been searching high and low for that mother-son duo but we haven’t been able to locate them.” Beatrice was saying. “Even their lines have been off for the past week. How did you….”

“Why don’t the two of you sit down first?” Shadreck instructed them.

Beatrice and Moola obediently went to sit down.

“What’s going on honey?” Beatrice asked. “I know that they paid for everything concerning the wedding but that doesn’t give them the right to cancel at the last minute without discussing things with us.”

“They didn’t cancel out of nowhere,” Shadreck explained. “They informed me last week but I just didn’t know how to broach the subject to you guys. Moola was looking forward to it so badly and I …I just couldn’t….” Shadreck searched for the right words to say, stammering in his deceit and betrayal.

Beatrice was beside herself with furry. “How can they do this to us!?” She yelled.

“This isn’t about you mum,” Moola cried. “This is about me! It’s my wedding!”

“In case you haven’t heard, there won’t be any wedding.” Beatrice reminded her sulking daughter.

Moola was up on her feet again. “I don’t want to believe any of this,” she said. “I am going to look for Kelvin and he will tell me that you are wrong. There’s no way he can do this to me. He loves me!”

Before her father could get in another word, Moola was out of the room, rushing upstairs to grab her car keys and handbag.

“Did they tell you why they cancelled the wedding?” Beatrice asked her husband.

Shadreck looked at her, dying to tell her how this was all her fault but controlling himself. “I was too upset to ask them any questions,” he lied. “Maybe you should ask them yourself.” He then got up and started walking upstairs.

Beatrice followed him.

“What’s been going on with you lately?” Beatrice asked him once they were in the privacy of their bedroom walls.

Shadreck threw himself on the bed and closed his eyes.

“You’ve been acting strange ever since you signed that huge contract of yours,” Beatrice said as she sat down on the bed. “Did something happen with that deal?”

“I would have told you if something went wrong,” Shadreck said, his eyes still closed. “It’s this wedding thing that shook me up. We had invited a lot of VIP’s and the thought of informing them last minute that they won’t be a wedding makes me so mad.”

“Your daughter just got dumped and yet you seem more concerned about your business contacts than her feelings.” Beatrice stated accusingly.

Shadreck sighed heavily and sat up to lean his back against the head board. “How can you accuse me of not caring about my daughter?” He asked his wife.

“I have been killing myself over and over again ever since I learnt there won’t be any wedding…wondering how to tell my daughter and imagining her reaction. She has been too obsessed with that boy that I couldn’t bear to give her the bad news. It breaks my heart to see her looking so helpless.”

Beatrice had a moment of self-reflection. “I’m sorry I yelled at you,” She said, moving closer to hold his hand. “I’m just so mad and I don’t understand what the hell is going on. I thought that woman needed this wedding as much as we did. What could have happened?”

“I think Kelvin fell in-love with some other girl,” Shadreck said.

“What?” Beatrice asked. “Which girl would dare to steal from this family? Which family is she from? I won’t take this sitting down, I can promise you that.”

“I hear it’s a girl named Evelyn…Evelyn Nanyangwe or something like that.” Shadreck was watching his wife’s reaction as he slowly said out the name.

The horrified look on Beatrice’s face told him everything he needed to know. But he still needed to know if she would open up to him and tell him the truth.

“Do you know who she is?” Shadreck asked. “She was there at that charity event last month.”

Beatrice was blinking copiously. She got up from the bed and gave her husband her back. “Of course I don’t know who she is,” she said. “Why would you ask me such a question?”

“Why are you talking with your back to me?” Shadreck asked.

Beatrice turned to look at him but she avoided meeting his eyes. “I was just taken aback by your question,” Beatrice lied. “I need to go….” She was nervously pointing to the door. “I need to look for this Kelvin so I can get some answers.”

“What are you hoping to resolve by confronting him?” Shadreck asked.

“I don’t know, but I just need to see him.” She grabbed her car keys and purse from the top of her dresser and rushed out of the bedroom.

Shadreck got up from the bed and walked over to the window. He watched as his wife struggled to get her car door open because she was shaking all over.

She dropped the keys a couple of times before finally succeeding and speeding off out of the yard at a speed that could give Hamilton a run for his money.

He then walked over to the phone by the bedside and called his daughter’s line.

“Did you find Kelvin?” He asked.

“I just left home a few minutes ago dad. I am still on the road.” Moola shouted.

“Meet me at Mandahill by that Noodles place upstairs when you are done searching for Kelvin. You and I need to talk.”

“Okay dad, am hanging up now, I’m driving.”

“Okay.” Shadreck said and put down the receiver.

* * *

Thando was watching TV in her living room and enjoying some snacks when she heard the pounding on the door. Before she could stand up, the door flung open and in busted Beatrice, panting and sweating like a dog on heat.

“Where is she?” Beatrice asked, her eyes searching the room for any signs of Evelyn.

“Who the hell are you?” Thando was now standing at looking at the intruder in shock.

Without answering, Beatrice went opening doors around the house, shouting Evelyn’s name and banging doors.

“Evelyn isn’t home!” Thando shouted at her when she came out from checking the bathroom.

“Where is she?” Beatrice asked.

“How can you just barge in here and expect me to answer your questions?” Thando asked.

“Who I am is no concern of yours,” Beatrice snapped. “Tell me where that whore is before I turn this place upside down.”

“Do whatever you want,” Thando said and went back to make herself comfortable on the sofa.

Not one to accept being dismissed or disrespected in such a manner, Beatrice walked over to the 24inch Samsung TV, pushed it with her finger and sent it crushing down on the floor.

Thando got up from her chair and went at Beatrice with all her might. Her attack was so sudden and unexpected that Beatrice had no time to dodge the punch that landed had on her cheek and sent her tumbling back onto the pieces of the broken television set.

Like a mad woman, Thando went after her again, pressed her leg hard on the back of Beatrice who was struggling to get up and pinned her to the floor.

“I bought that TV with my very first pay,” Thando said between clenched teeth. “That is the money I was supposed to give my mother but she died before she could enjoy her only daughter’s hard earned money.”

As she was talking, Thando bent down to grab Beatrice’s purse that was lying on the side from her fall and she opened it. 

“Now why would anyone be moving around with this kind of money in their wallet in this day and age?” Thando said as she counted the many K100 notes she found in the purse.

“Don’t you dare touch that money!” Beatrice yelled, trying to get up but Thando pressed her leg hard into jer to keep her in place.

At that moment, Beatrice regretted having spent the whole morning arguing with her daughter instead of taking the money from the salon to the bank.

“And I am going to take a little for the emotional stress you’ve put me through by barging into my humble home uninvited.” She grabbed a few more notes and then threw the purse back down.

“Now, tell me,” Thando continued. “Who the hell are you?”

“You are going to regret treating me like this when you find out who I am,” Beatrice threatened.

Thando chuckled. “I doubt that, but please, humour me.”

“I am Beatrice, Mrs Mwangala. I am one of the….”

“Are you that idiot that abandoned and rejected my Eva?” Thando asked before Beatrice could finish utilizing her bragging rights.

“You will not be able to walk with your head high the moment my husband and I finish with you.” Beatrice said.

Thando laughed, really hard and loud. “Again, that’s never gonna happen.” She then removed her leg and went to sit back on the sofa.

Humiliated beyond comprehension, Beatrice picked herself and her purse up from the floor and glared at Thando.

“Evelyn went on her honeymoon,” Thando candidly informed her.

“What honeymoon?” Beatrice asked.

“You know, the kind of thing that newly married couples do…shagging, lazing around, and more shagging….”

“I know what a honeymoon is!” Beatrice yelled. “When did she get married? And to whom?”

“Who else? To Kelvin of course.”

“Kelvin is supposed to be marrying my daughter tomorrow. What marriage to Evelyn are you talking about?”

“You obviously need a software update,” Thando told her. “You can check the facts for yourself because I won’t be giving you no explanation.”

“How can that son of a bitch do this to me? To my daughter?” Beatrice said. “I am going to make those two pay dearly for this.” She started walking towards the door.

“Where do you think you are going?” Thando rushed to block her way to the door.

“You need to clean that mess before you leave.” She pointed to the broken TV. “You made the mess, you clean the mess.”

Beatrice couldn’t not believe what she was hearing. “You can’t be serious.” She said.

“I am dead serious.” Thando said defiantly.

Beatrice opened her purse, removed a K300 and threw it on the floor. “That’s how the rich clean their mess,” Beatrice said smugly.

Thando laughed and bent down to pick up the notes. “I bet you’re gonna remember these few Kwacha’s in the very near future but thanks, now I can get those jeans I’ve been dying to get my hands on.”

Beatrice banged the door hard on her way out and left Thando laughing out loud.

Moola joined her father at Mandahill a few hours later, her eyes red from bawling over her missing fiancé.

“Didn’t find him?” Shadreck asked when his daughter joined him. He had picked a table at the far end to give them some privacy.

“You knew I wouldn’t find him didn’t you?” Moola asked him.

Shadreck handed his daughter a glass of water and Moola drunk half the contents.

“Where could he be daddy? Why is he doing this to me?” the former heiress asked.

Shadreck handed her a napkin and waited for her to calm down a little.

“Kelvin married another girl my love,” Shadreck dropped the bomb.

Moola stopped crying and looked at her father in shock. “How is that even possible dad? Him and I are supposed to….”

“I know,” Shadreck said, reaching across the table to hold her hand. “Kelvin never planned on going ahead with the wedding.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Moola asked.

“It means he was in-love with someone else.”

“That’s impossible!” Moola shouted. “Kelvin was in-love with me. I know it. That’s something a girl knows. We were together for….”

“He wanted you to think he was in-love with you but he never was. He had ulterior motives for being with you.”

“That’s a lie,” Moola insisted. “There’s no way that’s possible. Kelvin loved me…he still loves me.”

“Then why did he marry someone else and is even expecting a child with her despite his engagement to you?”

Moola was at a loss for words, tears welled up in her eyes as her fathers words sunk in.

“A child, you say? Married? Who is the girl?” She asked.

“You know her, Evelyn.” Shadreck supplied.

Moola finally broke down unreservedly, remembering all those encounters she had had with Evelyn and the conversations she had had with Kelvin…how she had believed him when he said that nothing was going on between them.

“I was such a fool,” she sulked. “I knew that something was going on but I didn’t want to believe that he would be cheating on me with a girl like that. How can he do this to me daddy?”

Shadreck moved over to sit next to his daughter and he wrapped her into his arms. “I’m so sorry my baby girl,” he comforted her. “I am so sorry that I couldn’t protect you from all this.”

They stayed like that until Moola was able to calm down again.

“Where are they right now?” She later asked her father.

“I don’t know,” Shadreck said. “There is something else I need to tell you….”

Moola gave him a dead look. “Could there be something worse?” She slowly laid down her folk.

Shadreck pushed his untouched plate to the side and looked at his daughter. “I am very sorry my baby,” he said apologetically.

“What are you sorry about dad?” Moola asked. “You are scaring me now.”

Shadreck took a long breath before dropping his second bomb.

“I am leaving your mother.”

Everything suddenly went quite. Moola could only hear her father’s words replaying in her head.

And then she laughed, catching her father by surprise. “I thought I heard you say that you and mother are divorcing.” She said. “I think this Kelvin thing has knocked me out real bad I am now hearing things.”

“My love….”

The look in Shadreck’s eyes only confirmed Moola’s worst fears.

She started shaking her head. “No,” she said. “You are joking.” She continued shaking her head. Even though her mouth refused to accept the reality, her brain already did as two thick lines of tears cascaded down her cheeks.

Shadreck tried to reach for her hands again but Moola pulled them away from the table. “Why are you doing this to us? Tell me this is some bad joke you are playing on me…please.” Moola begged.

“I am so sorry Moola.” It was the only thing he could say to her.

“Does mum agree to this?” His daughter asked.

“Your mother doesn’t know. I have not told her yet. I wanted to talk to you first.”

“How can you do this dad!?” Moola yelled and attracted the attention of the few patrons eating at the restaurant.

“I wish I could explain everything to you….”

“You owe me an explanation!” Moola raised her voice again. “You can’t just wake up one day and say that you are leaving us. I thought you and mum were happy.”

“We were happy,” Shadreck said.

“Then why do you want to leave?”

“It’s very complicated my baby….”

“I have nowhere else to go today and I have no wedding to keep me busy so you can start telling me from the beginning. Is there another woman?” She asked.

Shadreck didn’t answer.

“Not you too dad!” Moola cried.

“This is way too complicated for me to explain to you. You are young and….”

Moola got to leave. “There’s no need for me to sit here if you think I don’t deserve an explanation.”

Shadreck grabbed her hand and begged her to sit back down. “I will tell you everything,” he said.

Moola sat back down.

“Many many years ago before your mother and I met, she fell in-love with someone she was not supposed to and later gave birth to a baby girl.”

Moola gasped. “Mum had another child?”

“That girl, Evelyn, she is your mother’s child.”

“What!” Moola shouted.

“Try to calm down my child,” Shadreck said.

“That’s not possible, that girl can’t be mum’s daughter…she can’t be my sister, no. Do you have any idea how much mother hates her? Her whole mood changes whenever she hears that girl’s name, worse when she meets her anywhere. You saw it too, that time at the charity event, you saw mum’s reaction.”

“Didn’t you ever think that there could be another reason why your mother would hate a girl like that who’s never done anything to her?”

“How can I think of something like that? This is my mother we are talking about. She told me that she was just some bothersome relative of yours from the village and I believed her.”

“Your mother had a painful past and that girl was like a constant reminder of those old wounds, that’s why she didn’t like her very much.”

“Even though she is her daughter?”

“Yes,” Shadreck said. “I cannot explain to you everything that happened in the past, best your mum telly you everything you need to know.”

“But what does all this have to do with you leaving? It all happened in the past, before you guys even met. Did that man from the past reappear?”

“It might have happened in the past but, everything that’s going wrong in our lives right now is because of that very past.”

“Is that Evelyn girl trying to take revenge on our family because mum rejected her? Is that why she stole my fiancé?”

“Strange enough, it’s not Evelyn who’s taking revenge for the past. Evelyn is simply the forgotten daughter.”

“Then who’s responsible for all this?”

Shadreck hesitated for a moment before revealing; 

“It’s Kelvin and his mother.”

Moola froze.

By the time Shadreck finished catching her up to the past and present, Moola was in a state of shock and mental paralysis, unable to think rationally or move her lips to speak.

Beatrice reached the bank just a few minutes before lunch time and found a slightly longer queue than usual. When it was finally her turn, she removed the cash from her purse and handed it over to the smiling teller.

She then handed her a slip of paper with her account number and waited.

“Ma’am,” the teller stopped to look at her. “This account, when did you last use it?”

“Last week, on Friday. I always make deposits on Friday.” Beatrice said. “Is something wrong?”

“This account was closed yesterday.” The teller said.

“What do you mean closed? I have all my money in this account.”

“That’s the thing, all the money from this account was removed and an application to close the account was submitted on Tuesday. How is it possible you are not aware of this development?”

“I should be the one asking you that question. How can my account be closed and all my money gone when I never made such transactions in the first place?”

And then Beatrice remembered something.

“Sign me into your account so I can print the statement.” Shadreck had said to her a few nights ago just before they went to bed.

“What do you need the statement for?” She had asked him.

“Now that this deal finally went through, I am thinking of getting you a loan so you can build those fancy flats you’ve always dreamt of building.”

Overwhelmed by the great news, Moola had given her husband the password and told him;

“Do whatever you want with that account and let me become the richest landlord this country has ever seen!”

“No,” Beatrice shook her head in disagreement to whatever conclusion had brain had conjured up. “No, it can’t be.” She kept repeating.”

But as events of the past few weeks kept replaying in her head, she knew without a doubt that Shadreck had something to do with this strange development.

“Ma’am,” the teller called out to her. “Are you alright?”

By now, everyone in the bank was looking at her.

No longer able to hold herself steady against the world spinning around her, Beatrice finally gave in to gravity.

Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 17

Kelvin felt the world around him spin and spin out of control. He reached over the reception counter, grabbed the visibly confused and shaken receptionist by her jacket and asked;

“Who took my wife?”

Everyone down in the hotel lobby was now starring at the two of them.

With her lips quivering and her feet off the ground, the girl stuttered her way through her response. “It was a tall man…sort of, like your height…young, I think in his late twenties…or early thirties…I don’t know! I’m not sure. Why are you doing this to me?”

Kelvin released her immediately as realization dawned on to him. Lebogang, he thought. How the hell did he know to find us all the way here in Zim?

“Is there a problem sir?” The thundering masculine tone of the man standing behind Kelvin sent a chill down his spine before he could slowly turn to look at who had addressed him.

The gigantic frame dressed in a well-fitting black designer suit hovering over him forced Kelvin to take a deep breath and calm himself down, if only for a few seconds.

“I am sorry sir,” Kelvin quickly apologized for his behaviour. And then he turned towards the receptionist and bowed his head at her in sincere commiseration.

“My name is Simbarashe Chiruvhu, I am the manager.” The giant had reached out his hand and Kelvin extended his as well and the two men shook hands.

“Sincere apologies for losing my cool,” Kelvin apologized again. “It’s just that, I thought something might have happened to my wife and….”

“I understand sir and thank you for apologizing,” Mr Chiruvhu said. “Safety for our guests is one of our top priorities and if there’s anything I can do to help….”

“Surveillance cameras,” Kelvin quickly said. “I saw that you have some by the entrance when we came in yesterday.” He was pointing to the entrance of the hotel. “Do they work?”

“Yes they work perfectly fine.” He answered.

“Then I think we’ve found a way you can help me.”

A few minutes later, Kelvin was looking at Evelyn rush out of the hotel with her bag in hand and was met outside by none other than Lebogang.

Forgetting where he was for a moment, Kelvin banged his fist on the table and won himself questioning stares from the technician and the manager.

“Can you zoom in,” Kelvin told the technician operating the cameras. “I want to see that car’s number plate.

Kelvin quickly wrote down the number plate, thanked the two gentlemen and went back to the suite.

He called his PI.

“Get a pen,” Kelvin said the moment his call was answered.

“Who’s this?” The PI asked.

“It’s me, Kelvin.”

“Oh sorry boss,” the man said. “I couldn’t recognize the number. When did you travel to Zim?”

“You have a pen and paper ready?” Kelvin asked, completely ignoring the PI’s efforts at civility.

“They’re ready,” he replied.

“Write this down,” he said, giving him Lebo’s full names and the car plate number he had written down. “Find out everything you can about this guy and give me his current location presently. I need this info as soon as yesterday.”

“Yes boss, on it.”

“And my mother?” Kelvin asked.

“We still have people on her and also on her people,” the PI answered. “We are keeping a close eyes on them you don’t have to worry about a thing. She tried to get someone to give her access to the list of names of all S&A secretaries but we managed to block that too. But Mr Kelvin….”

“What is it?” Kelvin could sense something in the PI’s tone.

“You do know that it’s only a matter of time before your mother gets to someone…could be an employee there or just someone else connected to the law firm to give her names. She is a very well connected woman…and she always gets things done no matter what it takes.”

“Harry,” Kelvin interrupted his PI. “Have you forgotten that this is my mother we are talking about? I already know what she’s capable of so don’t waste my time talking about the obvious. I don’t doubt that she will find out soon. I just need you to get me everything you can on that person immediately.

“Yes sir, apologies.” Harry said.

“If that happens, there’s nothing we can do on our end to stop it.”

After the call, Kelvin went back to the reception and was about to inquire about car booking services when the receptionist addressed him first.

“Sir, this was left for you a few minutes ago.” She handed him a small white envelope.

Kelvin grabbed it from her and ripped the envelope apart. The letter inside was short but it’s brief content was enough to rip his heart apart.

Please forgive me for leaving like this. I heard what was said on the phone and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I am so scared for my life and I hate to see you struggle between keeping your loyalty to me or to your mother.

Because I love you, I don’t want to put you in this kind of situation where you have to choose and that’s why I’ve left. I am sorry that I couldn’t trust you all the way to the end…and I am sorry for letting us both down. Please go back home and don’t try to look for me. If you can find me, so will your mother so please I beg of you, don’t look for me.

Take care of yourself.

Love, Eva.

“Who left this here?” Kelvin asked the receptionist, his eyes wet and heavy with unshed tears.

“A little boy, about ten years old.” She answered.

“Where did he go?”

“This way,” she pointed to the left.

“Describe him for me.”
Kelvin went out and searched for a tall, light-skinned skinny boy dressed in red shorts and grey t-shirt but he found nothing.

Wild thoughts kept running through his head as he searched high and low around the hotel for the skinny looking boy.

Why couldn’t you trust me?

Why him of all people?

Why couldn’t you give us a chance Eva?

You looked me in the eye and promised to stick with me and stay with me till the very end. What changed? What did that guy tell you to convince you?

I said I would protect you…why couldn’t you believe me? Is it because am her son?

After hours and hours of searching, Kelvin finally gave up and went back to what had once been his and Evelyn’s honeymoon suite.

He picked up the pillow she had used and held it to his nose for a very long time, taking in her scent and trying his best not to break down.

How could you do this to me? Kelvin thought as tears welled up in his eyes.

How could you Eva?

He carried those thoughts with him into the shower as he just stood under the cold shower for minutes that felt like hours, with his head bowed and the water falling on his head uninterrupted.
Kelvin was getting ready to check out of the hotel early the next morning when he received a call from Harry his PI.

“It doesn’t look so good boss,” was the first phrase that Harry said the moment Kelvin answered his call.

“Did something happen?” Kelvin asked.

“I think you need to come right away Mr Kelvin.”

For a moment, Kevin froze as he listened to whatever the PI was telling him but he soon recovered and grabbed his small suitcase and he starting running out of the hotel.

“Your reciept sir!” the receptionist shouted after him but Kelvin neither stopped nor did he look back.

* * *

Two days had gone by since Evelyn had last seen Kelvin. Even in her thickest determination to part ways with him, there was still a huge part of her that wanted to be him, that missed him and that cared about him deeply.

“You are doing it again,” Lebo appeared in front of her out of nowhere. He took her hands that where holding on to the rails of the balcony behind their suite and he held on to them in front of her.

“What have I done?” there was discomfort written all over her face as she looked down at their hands.

She tried to free her hands but Lebo tightened his hold and smiled at her. “Your body might be here with me but your mind is still with him.” Lebo noted.

Evelyn’s face flashed with guilt and she quickly avoided meeting his eye.

“I’m right,” Lebo was forced to admit. He let go of her hands and went to sit down on one of the two chairs by the balcony table.

One leg crossed over the other, he looked over at her with a pained expression on his face. “Do you regret coming with me?” he asked her.

“Lebo….”

“Wait, don’t answer that.” He said.

“You need to understand something Lebo, this isn’t easy for me.”

“I know…I want to understand, I swear am trying my best Eva but, it breaks my heart when I think about how you chose the son of the woman who’s after your life over me.”

Evelyn was nervously rubbing her ring finger, unable to give a response to what Lebo was talking about.

“I can only imagine how you must have been moved when he offered to go against his mother to protect you but Eva,” Kelvin continued.

“How can you still trust him despite everything that he put you through? He spent twenty years of his life avenging his sister’s death…twenty years Eva. That’s not a joke. And if he can so easily betray his own mother, what do you think that says about his level of loyalty?

“I admire the courage you have and your willingness to forgive people but I think you are making a huge mistake right now sulking over someone like that. As long as that guy is in your life, his mother will also be there, lingering around and waiting for the opportune moment to take her revenge.”

“Please, let’s not talk about them anymore.” Evelyn said, and rubbing her forehead she said, “I need to rest for a bit, the migraine is back.”

Evelyn walked back into the room and was about to open the door to her room when she heard a knock on the door.

She turned to look at Lebo who had followed her inside. S

“Are you expecting anyone?” she asked him.

Lebo walked over to her, took her hand and led her to sit down on the couch. “Sit here for a moment,” he said as he knelt down before her.

“What are you doing?” Evelyn asked as a number of wild thoughts went through her head.

“What’s about to happen,” Lebo was saying. “I need you to know that I am doing all this for you…for us. It’s a chance for us to start a brand new life away from all the drama. It’s an opportunity for us to put everything that’s happening right now where it belongs…a chance to buy you the freedom you’ve always wanted.”

Evelyn’s face had turned into a question mark. “What are you talking about?” she asked.

There was another gentle pound on the door again.

“Wait here,” Lebo got up and went to answer the door.

“You came?” Evelyn heard Lebo tell whoever was standing by the door.

Lebo held the door wide open and stepped aside to let the person in.

Evelyn jolted up in her seat and gaped at the guest.

“Good morning Eva,” Shadreck greeting her with a smile on his face.

“What is he doing here?” Evelyn was shaking all over as she waited for Lebo to give her an answer.

Lebo walked over to her and tried to put his arms around her but she flinched at his touch and moved away from him.

“What do you want with me?” Evelyn asked Shadreck Mwangala.

“I came to make you an offer you can’t refuse.” Shadreck said, still smiling smugly.

“Make me an offer?” Evelyn asked. “Did someone tell you that I am looking to make deals, especially with someone like you?”

Shadreck chuckled. “You break my heart little Eva. I thought you and I had an understanding. I happen to like you quite a lot.”

Evelyn threw him a disgusted look.

“Oh no,” Shadreck waved his hand. “Not like anything you are imagining,” he quickly corrected her. I am a business man, not a paedophile.”

“What do you want from me?” Evelyn asked again.

“Why don’t we all sit down and….” Lebo was saying to the both of them but Evelyn’s glacial stare sent him shutting up immediately.

“Why did you tell him where we were?” Evelyn asked Lebo.

“He told me that he had a way of protecting you against Mervis so that she can never harm you?”

“And you believed him?” Evelyn asked.

“At first I didn’t,” Lebo answered. “But when he told me who he was and what he can do to help, I knew that we needed him if we are to live our lives in peace forever.”

“You really have no idea do you?” she was shaking her head slowly as she talked.

“What are you talking about?” Lebo asked.

“You shouldn’t have meddled in my business Lebo.” Evelyn stood up. “I was such a fool to put my trust in you.” She went into her room, picked up her handbag and walked back into the room where Lebo and Shadreck where standing.

“Where are you going Eva?” Lebo went over to her.

“I have no business whatsoever with this person here,” Evelyn sternly said. “The two of you talk amongst yourselves and leave me the hell out of it.

She yanked the door open to get out but her exit was blocked by two huge masculine figures.

“Are these your men?” Evelyn turned to Shadreck.

“If you do not want anything to happen to your best friend Thando, I suggest you come back and sit down so we can talk business.”

The two men pushed her back inside and shut the door.

As Evelyn stumbled back into the room, Lebo rushed to keep her from falling back.

“What have you done to her?” Evelyn yelled

“What do you think you are doing?” Lebo asked Shadreck whilst helping Evelyn gain her footing.

The moment she was stead on the ground, she pushed Lebo aside and faced Shadreck, defiance written all over her face.

“I think you should sit down first,” Shadreck told her and followed his own advice by sitting down as well.

“What do you think you are doing?” Lebo went at him but the door immediately opened and the two guys gave him threatening looks. He held himself back and stood back to address him instead.

“We had a deal,” Lebo said. “I trusted you because you said we had the same enemy. You said you had a way of ensuring her safety as long as you knew where she was but what’s this you are doing?”

Shadreck was chuckling like a man on a thrill of entertainment. “She was right when she said you shouldn’t have meddled in her business.” He said.

“What are you talking about?” Lebo asked.

“Ask her,” Shadreck pointed at Evelyn. “She knows exactly what am talking about…the reason why she’s very afraid right now.”

Lebogang turned to Evelyn, a desperate look on his face.

“He is not here to help me,” Evelyn informed Lebo, but her eyes were fixed on Shadreck. “He is here for purely selfish reasons.”

“What do you mean? He is basically your step father isn’t he?” Lebo asked.

Evelyn scoffed. “Despite everything I told you about my past, you still think he is someone I can consider my step father?”

“When he told me that Mervis had stolen from him and that he was on a mission to ruin her, I thought we could trust him as an ally.”

“And just how did you imagine this alliance playing out Lebo?” Evelyn quizzed him.

“I didn’t think much about it, I was desperate and he sounded so convincing so….”

“So you put my life at risk by signing a deal with the other devil after my life?”

“Maybe we should hear what he has to say first….”

“Are you kidding me?” Evelyn yelled. “You should have talked to me first before making decisions behind my back Lebo. You have absolutely no idea what’s going on here for you to have made such a weighty decision without consulting me.”

“I have no intention of sitting here and listen to the two of you have your lovers fight so am going to lay it down for the both of you so that we are all on the same page.” Shadreck said.

“Your other boyfriend,” Shadreck was pointing at Evelyn accusingly. “That Kelvin,” he said. “I recently had the misfortune of learning who he really is. Him and that mother of his worked hard to bankrupt me and on top of it, they are holding my children hostage. I want my children back, and that Kangwa lady wants you.

“In exchange for my children, I offered to bring you to her since you are the reason why all this is happening. Because of you I lost all my money, everything I have ever worked for is gone. My reputation has been dragged to the ground and I can’t even walk with my head high in public.

Because of you my life has been torn apart so I would rather she takes out her revenge on you than on any of my children. Perhaps is my wife cared about you, I would feel some guilt over what am doing but fortunately for me, she doesn’t seem to care whether you are dead or alive. So, if I hand over to Mrs Kangwa, I get to have my children back.”

“Is that what she told you, that she has your children?” Evelyn asked.

“She already told me everything,” Shadreck said. “I sensed something was off when Kelvin disappeared at the same time my investment deal went south. Even though I can’t take back all the money I lost to her, at least I can have me children back, even if that means sacrificing you in order to achieve that.”

“What are the two of you talking about?” A confused Lebo asked. “What children?”

“She lied to you,” Evelyn informed Shadreck. “Mervis doesn’t have your children, she lost your children…it’s been over a week now.”

Shadreck was up on his feet. “What do you mean she lost my children?”

“Do you need me to say it in Lozi?” Evelyn asked sarcastically.

Before she knew it, Shadreck was on her, grabbing her by her blouse and demanding answered from her. Lebo tried to interfere but he was yanked away like a piece of paper and he went flying across the room.

“What do you mean she lost my children?” Shadreck thundered at her.

“You should ask her who took the children from her yourself,” Evelyn answered. “Someone knew what she was planning against you and used the children to blackmail her into doing something for him. That deal didn’t go so well so the kids haven’t been given back to her.

“So you are wasting your time if you think that handing me over to her will bring those children back to you. She has played you for all these years and you had no idea. Do you think that you are fit to play games with her right now? She has you exactly where she needs you to be because she is still using you.”

“Kasonde!” Shadreck yelled and the two buffed up men entered the room. “Take her to the vehicle right away.” He instructed them.

Evelyn tried to run away but the two men where on her, each holding her by the arm while Lebo desperately tried to fight them, like a dog backing at a wall.

“Where are you taking me?” Evelyn asked.

“Taking you back home,” Shadreck answered. “It’s time for you to say goodbye to the Chobe weather. You are going to follow these men like a good girl and if you so much as attract unnecessary attention to yourself, you will not get to see your friend Thando ever again. Is that clear?”

“I will do whatever you say but please leave Thando out of this. She has nothing to do with any of this.”

“Then she should have picked her friends well.” Shadreck said. “We all have to pay for the decisions we make at some point in our lives.”

“I guess Mervis was right by that logic then,” she said. “Whatever your children are going through right now, it is because of the decision you made to marry a woman like Beatrice.”

“Take her away.” Shadreck commanded his minions. “If you want to see her and her friend alive, you better keep your mouth shut and go back where you came from.” He told Lebo. “You have more to lose fighting enemies that are not even your own and you have already done enough damage.”

Lebogang had never felt so useless in his life as he watched Evelyn walk away with the two men to her sides and Shadreck right behind them.

What have I done? He asked himself.
Shadreck and his minion’s trip to their car down in the dark parking lot was intercepted by the appearance of Mervis in the company of four gun wielding minions that surrounded them.

Shadreck looked around him and found that there were no other people in the car park despite it being in the morning.

“Hand her over to me,” Mervis said to the two men holding on to Evelyn. One of her men who had long dreadlocks on moved closer and before he could say anything, they let go of her arms.

The dreadlocked man grabbed Evelyn and let her to the vehicle.

“Where are my children?” Shadreck asked Mervis.

Mervis was laughing at him.

“They say you can take a man out of the village but never the village out of him,” she said mockingly. “And yet people have the audacity to call you my rival? Just look at yourself….tsk tsk tsk.”

“You have the girl,” Shadreck said. “Take me to where my children are or at least tell me who has them.”

“So you heard….” Mervis said. “It’s true, I am not the one who has your children. Just like you, I have no idea where they are.”

Shadreck lost his cool yet again and was going after Mervis but the three guns pointing at him from all directions stopped him in time.

“Then at least tell me who has my children,” Shadreck pleaded.

“I have your children.” Kelvin was standing behind them.

From where she was seated behind the SUV closely guarded by Mervis’ minion, Evelyn’s heart skipped a beat when she saw Kelvin. She wanted to wave at him but with her hands now tied behind her back, she could only manage a nervous and frightened smile in his direction.

“Kelvin.” Mervis and Shadreck said at the same time.

“How did you….” Mervis was asking.

“Surprised mother?” Kelvin said, completely ignoring the guns that had been turned on him. “Let Evelyn go right now.”

“Don’t point those things at my son you fools,” Mervis shouted at her minions who immediately pointed the guns back at Shadreck.

“And what makes you think that I would do such a stupid thing?” Mervis asked her son. “How could you betray me like this? You fell in-love with her of all people? How could you do this to your father and sister?”

“I have no time to get into this with you right now,” Kelvin said. “Until a few days you were the most important thing in my life mother but because you keep insisting on being a villain all through the end, I gave me no choice but to reconsider my priorities.”

“Are you telling me that she has become your first priority?” Mervis pointed over to where Evelyn was. “You have chosen the girl that caused you to lose your family over your own mother? Have you lost your mind?”

“You can choose to look at it like that, I don’t care anymore.”

“Who the hell does that girl think she is to come into this world and wreck my family apart like this?” Mervis grabbed a gun from one of her minions and started walking towards the car.

“Because she is my wife.” Kelvin shouted from behind.

Mervis stopped and turned back around to face her son. “What did you just say?”

“She is my wife,” Kelvin repeated, very proudly. “And she is the mother of your first grandchild.”

Mervis felt the ground below her start spinning and immediately after, then everything else around her was spinning.

“W-what?” She asked.

While Mervis was taking in the shock her son had just dealt her, Shadreck was looking from son to mother bemusedly.

“When did the two of you get married?” Mervis asked.

“It’s been a week now,” Kelvin said. “But the pregnancy is old enough.”

“Do you really need to go this far just to spite me? This joke of yours is too cruel son.”

Kelvin chuckled. “It would be, if I were joking,” he said, and suddenly turning serious, “You are very good at digging around for the truth, why don’t you conduct your own research?”

 

“What are they talking about?” Evelyn asked the dreadlocked man guarding her.

“I think your husband just informed his dear mother that she’s going to be a grandmother.” The man said with a smile on his face that Evelyn could not seem to understand.

And then then the meaning of his words finally sunk into her. “How did you….” she started to ask but the man surprised her when he held out a knife towards her.

Evelyn tried to scream out but his next words shut her down real quickly.

“You better keep your mouth shut if you want to get out of here alive. Without looking suspicious, give me your hands.”

Evelyn’s eyes registered the shock first but she remembered his warning and moved her arms so he could cut the rope.

“Why are you doing this?” Evelyn asked the man as he was cutting, using one arm to avoid being detected by Mervis and the others.

“Let’s just say that I am paying back a debt to Kelvin.” He said. “Now, quietly, open that door and slip to the back. Use the stairs to your left. You will find someone waiting for you at the top.”

“What about you?” Evelyn asked. “Mervis will kill you when she finds out what you’ve done?”

“Worry about yourself Eva. There,” he said when the rope completely came off. “Best for you to slip out right now while he’s keeping her busy.”

Evelyn looked over at Kelvin and saw him still talking with his mother. She then grabbed the door handle and slowly started moving it.

“By the way,” the dreadlocked guy was saying. “Congratulations.”

Evelyn paused for a second, smiled and said, “thanks.” She finally opened the door and quietly slipped out.

“How could you do something like this Kelvin?” Mervis asked her son for the umpteenth time.

“Because it’s the only thing I could do to keep you from doing her any harm.” Kelvin said. “So what are you going to do now mother? That girl you hate with everything you’ve got, she’s carrying your blood in her womb. Tell me, do you still feel like killing her?”

Mervis turned to look at the girl that had turned her world upside.

“Where’s she?” Mervis asked. “And where’s Donald?”

There was no sign on Evelyn or the Donald the dreadlocked guy that had been put in her charge.

Mervis furiously turned to face her son while her men went in search of the fugitives. “What have you done?” She asked him, her eyes flaming red and shooting daggers at him.

With a triumphant smile playing at the corners of his lips, Kelvin simply shrugged his shoulders, put his hands into his pockets and spread his legs apart like a man who had just won a long fought war.

He was looking from Mervis to Shadreck when he said;

“Can we talk about Lucy and the kids now that I have both your attention?

Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 16

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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!”

“Seriously?”

“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.

 

Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 15

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The confrontation between Kelvin and his mother Mervis went exactly as he had expected it to go; emotionally draining and physically exhausting.

“You don’t look so well mother,” Kelvin as he opened the door to let his mother in.

She already looked out of breath, panting and looking at him like he had just pulled off her life support.

“I haven’t slept a wink from the time you called me.” Mervis said as she sat down on the sofa. “I have been telling myself that it was only a bad dream…that I heard you wrong…that my own son wouldn’t betray me like this.”

“I’m going to bring you a glass of water,” Kelvin said and turned to head into the kitchen.

“Do not patronize me Kelvin!” Mervis shouted from behind him. She was up on her feet. “How could you do this to me!”

Kelvin slowly turned back around to look at her.

“What have you done?” Mervis asked.

“Seat down,” Kelvin said, pointing to the sofa where she had been sitting and then he sat on the other chair facing her.

Mervis did as instructed and waited for her son to talk.

“Before I tell you what I did,” Kelvin started. “I need you to know that I did all this for you, because I love and care about you mother.”

“Have you seen me Kelvin?” Mervis asked. “Do I look like someone who’s just been showered by love? How long have you known about Lucy and why did you pretend you didn’t know?”

“Because I wanted you to feel in control,” Kelvin answered. “I needed you to have all the control in this revenge scheme so I could feel some level comfort knowing that you were doing your best to make the people that took your loved ones away pay for their crimes.”

“Then explain this to me,” Mervis said. “why would you go behind my back and do something like this whe you know very well how much this means to me…to us?”

“Not to us mum, to you.” Kelvin calmly corrected her.

“This isn’t just about me young man!” Mervis yelled. “He was your father and she was your sister.”

“I was never up for taking revenge mother. Even as a young boy I understood very well the reperccusions on undertaking such a journey. I never wanted us to go through all the hurt and pain…constantly reminding ourselves of what we lost instead of letting go and allowing those people to rest in peace.”

Mervis could not believe what she was hearing. “Then why did you beg me to let you help if you knew you were going to do something like this?” She asked.

“Because it was the only way I could think of to make you notice me,” he said as tears welled up in his tears. “Ever since the two died, you forgot I existed. We made us move to a foreign country and you left me all alone for days on end while you drunk your life away and fell into depression.”

“I didn’t leave you alone, there were a lot of people taking care of you.”

“I didn’t need strangers taking care of me, I needed my mother. You kept acting like you were the only one who lost something but I lost something as well my mother. I was only ten years old and I saw my own sister die right in front of me. I watched her die mother!” Kelvin cried.

“And that should have been enough to toughen you up but you kept whining for my attention like the little boy you were. You and your pathetic father watched my daughter die and you did nothing to save her. And yet you expected me to take care of you?”

“I know,” Kelvin said. “I have spend the past twenty years or so blaming myself for what happened that evening but you know what mother, I am done. I refuse to keep holding myself responsible for something I had no control over. I went played that day in my head over and over again and I came to the same conclusion; there was no way either of us would have saved her in that situation.”

“That’s just you trying to make yourself feel less guilty. At least your father took his own life when he realised his mistake but here you are still breathing and crying like a baby.”

Kelvin froze for a moment and was staring at his mother wide-eyed. “Did you just say that father committed suicide?”

Mervis scoffed. “Did you actually believe that story of depression?” She said, smiling at him sarcastically. “For days he tried to find excuses to justify his reasons for not running to your sister’s aid when she was obviously in pain.

“But I made him see just what a coward he was and like the big coward he really was, he swallowed some pills and put an end to his miserable life. I can tell you this, that was the only time in his life he acted like a man.”

Kelvin was standing now, shell-shocked with tears poring down his face as he looked down at his mother gloating like she had just said something that deserved praise.

“I never forced you to join me in this revenge because I knew how spineless you were,” Mervis continued. “When you finally offered to help, I was still skepticle but I thought that since you had my blood running in your veins, perhaps you might rise to the occassion and surprise me. I thought you were doing great all these years but I guess the little boy inside you was just dying.”

“You are right, I was never okay from the get-go.” Kelvin said. “I thought that offering my help would eventually make you see me…make you realise that you still had one child, one member of the family still alive. But no matter how much I tried to please you, to do things your way, the two dead people were always more important than me.

“You never came to my school meetings or other such events. For years I watched with envy other kids who had the privilege of having their parents come watch them at play games and I was always alone like an orphan. You turned me into an orphan even when you are still alive and that hurts even more than losing a parent in death…because when you eventually leave, you would have left me twice.”

Kelvin had raised his two fingers in the air, desperately fighting back the tsunami of tears pouring down.

“You were so obsessed with making money and becoming a billionaire that eventually, I became a pawn on your elaborate chess board. You might not have loudly asked me to take on this revenge with you but your actions forced me to, because that was the only way you were finally able to recognize my presence in your life.”

“How did you expect me to continue living a normal life when the people that had taken away my loved ones where busy living large and acting like nothing ever happened?” Mervis asked.

Kelvin gaped at her in shock. “It is not people mother,” he said to her. “It is only one woman, Beatrice. You don’t need to drag all these innocent people into the picture and punish them for something they have no idea even happened.”

And then a look of realization finally dawned on Mervis’ face. “You have fallen for that girl haven’t you? That’s why you are acting like this.”

Kelvin’s heart dropped. Did she already know about Evelyn?

Mervis was quick to pick on the fear written all over Kelvin’s face.

“I am right,” she said. “You allowed yourself to fall for that Moola girl and that’s why you’ve betrayed me like this.”

Kelvin’s heart went back in place at the mention of Moola’s name, relieved that Evelyn had still not crossed his mother’s radar. It would be nice if things remained that way, Kelvin thought.

“You can think whatever you want mother but I will not let you harm those innocent kids just so you can get your revenge,” Kelvin said.

“Do you actually think that you can pull off something like this against me?” Mervis asked.”You have always been a mama’s boy and you will never be able to break off this ambilical code unless I do it for you.”

“Maybe you are right,” Kelvin said. “I never intended to forsake you when I contacted Lucy. I only did that because I want to put an end to this. You are getting old now yet you’ve never allowed yourself to breathe a moment of peace because you’ve been consumed by revenge.

“You breathe, eat and shit revenge day in and day out. How long do you intend to drag this along? Aren’t you tired? I know I am tired but I can’t walk away and leave you behind to be eaten alive alone. I want us to put an end to this, right now mother.”

“And you think that hiding those kids will change anything?” Mervis asked smugly.

“I hid those kids because I know you. As long as you have access to those kids, you were going to drag this far until you raised them to be pawns in your schemes. This revenge has no way of ending as long as those kids are under your control. Just like you’ve done over the years, you’ll find new ways of inflicting pain on that family.

“At first it was business deals, you managed to take away business from those people over and over again but that still wasn’t enough. You became bored because you had become so good at it you needed something even more challenging. It was no longer revenge for you, at some point it became a hobby, a game you were addicted to and you kept chasing a rise on a level higher than the one before.

“I thought that getting me to marry someone I never loved was as low as you could get but I soon realised that you had much bigger plans in store. That’s how I learnt about Lucy. So I know mother, as long as Beatrice is still breathing, this revenge will never end. The only thing I can do is cut off the roots that are helping you grow, and that includes me, Lucy, those two innocent kids and everyone else I know is helping you run this scheme. I will keep doing that even if it means I die by your hands…something I know you would gladly do.”

“Kelvin!” Mervis snapped. “You might not approve of my ways of doing things but don’t insult me like that. I would have to kill me first before I can kill my own flesh and blood. You might have greatly disappointed me right now but that doesn’t change the fact that you are my son, so watch what you accuse me of.”

“Then tell me mother,” Kelvin walked over to where his mother was and knelt down before her. “What do I need to do to make you stop?” He asked with tears streaming down his face. “Tell me what you want and I will everything within my power to help you but please…let’s put an end to all this hate. I beg of you.”

“Bring those kids to me and I will I just might reconsider removing that fiancé of yours from my top two enemy list. Anyone capable of turning a son against his own mother deserves to be stoned to death. I might not lay my hands on you son,” She said whilst wiping the tears off his face with her bare hands. “I might not kill you but that doesn’t mean I can’t get to those you care about.”

Kelvin was left kneeling on the floor feeling hopeless and defeated as Mervis got up and started walking towards the door.

Once at the door, she stopped and turned to address her son for the last time. “You have forty-eight hours to present those kids in front of me…or watch what I do to the woman you love to see if that’s motivation enough.” And she was gone.

If Kelvin had doubted it before, he was now convinced beyond reasonable doubt that twenty years ago he had lost more than just a father and sister, he had lost his whole family…and that that woman parading as his mother was nothing but a shell of someone he used to know…someone he could no longer recognize.

Feeling like a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, there was only one place Kelvin could think of going to lay down his heavy load.

* * *

With her best friend out of town again, Evelyn found herself dreading the long night ahead alone in the house. Ever since she could remember, she never liked sleeping alone.

Having always lived in tiny apartments, Evelyn had become accustomed to sharing a bed with her grandmother. It was only when she moved in with Thando who was constantly on the move that she was forced to adjust to sleeping alone in bed.

Unfortunately for Thando, it meant that on days she was at home, she had to contend with Evelyn waking up from her bed in the middle of the night to join her in hers.

Once she was sure all doors and windows where closed, Evelyn got into her pyjama shorts and t-shirt and was about to get into bed when she heard a knock on the door.

“Who could it be this time?” She wondered out loud, waiting for a few more seconds to check if the person would knock again…and again.

They did, persistently.

Evelyn pulled out a chitenge wrapper from her washing basket in the corner of her room and wrapped it around herself before going to answer the door.

“Who is it?” She asked before opening the door.

“It’s me Eva,” came a male’s voice.

She didn’t need to ask who again to know who it was. That voice haunted her even in her sleep. She quickly unlocked the door.

“Kelvin?” Evelyn gasped when she saw the state he was in; drenched in sweat, feet and slippers drowning in dust, and looking like a man on the verge of collapse.

“Water,” Kelvin said, sounding out of breathe as he pushed passed her and fell to the floor the moment he was safely inside.

“Close the door,” he said to a visibly shocked Evelyn who was still holding the door wide open and gaping at him like she had just seen a mad man for the first time in her life.

But she still closed the door the moment she heard his request.

“Is someone chasing you?” Evelyn asked. “Where’s your car…or cars?”

“Water,” Kelvin begged again.

“Oh yeah,” Evelyn said and quickly ran to the kitchen, appearing seconds later with a glass in hand. She handed to him and watched him ferociously gulp down the contents.

“It’s at home,” Kelvin answered the moment he was done quenching his thirst.

“Is your friend around?” he asked her.

“No, she travelled for work. She will be back next week.” She answered.

Slowly getting up from the floor, he said, “show me where the bathroom is and give me your towel.”

“Huh?”

“Is it this side?” He was pointing and moving in that direction.

Evelyn rushed in time to stop him by the door. “This is the kitchen,” she said, blocking his way in. “You just saw me enter and come out with a glass of water. Did you think I gave you water from the bathroom?”

“It’s been known to happen,” Kelvin said, his play at nonchalance gnawing at Evelyn more than the pain in his eyes.

“Here,” she was saying as she led him to through the door on the left. She had a billion question running through her mind but she knew better than to press a man that looked like he had just lost the battle between angels and demons.

“You will find my towel hanging somewhere in there,” she said and closed the door behind him.

She was expecting him to have a quick retort for her but instead he simply said, “thank you Eva, and turned on the shower.

Evelyn remained standing outside the door, something she could not understand kept holding her back from moving away…and then she heard Kelvin stifle his sobs against the running water.

Her heart sunk and her eyes followed in kind.

What had happened? Evelyn wondered as she silently walked towards her bedroom to prepare some dry clothes for him.

It took about twenty minutes for Kelvin to come out of the shower, looking like a brand new man with the forced smile on his face as he stood outstand Evelyn’s bedroom with just a towel wrapped around his waist , waiting for her to welcome him inside.

Evelyn blinked and blushed profusely at the sight of his exposed buff chest, stuck between starring in awe and looking away in embarrassment and ending up doing both simultaneously.

Kelvin was smirking at her expense.

“Wait here, I will bring some clothes for you,” Evelyn gushed and quickly turned to walk back inside but Kelvin was right behind her.

“It’s looks particularly clean,” he commented as he looked around her room.

“I didn’t say you could come in,” Evelyn was looking at him despondently, at a loss for what to do to or about him.

“I always suspected there was something peculiar about you, turns out you are a neat freak,” he looking at her severely arranged room with each time exactly where it was supposed to be.

“You know OCD is an actual disease ka.” he asked.

Evelyn was laughing. “It’s not a disease, it’s a disorder. And look who’s talking? Have you seen your house?”

“That’s exactly why I made an accurate diagnosis,” he was smugly shrugging his shoulders. “I was speaking from experience.”

Evelyn picked up the clothes she had laid for him on the bed and handed them over to him.

“I think the show is over now. The audience is pleased so you can dress up,” she told him.

Kelvin was smiling innocently. “I have no idea what you are talking about.” And he put on the white t-shirt she had given him.

“Are you sure you weren’t expecting me over tonight?” He asked. “This t-shirt is too much of a perfect fit to be a coincidence.”

Evelyn was aware that all the happy conversation was a façade he was putting on to avoid talking about the real reason why he had shown up at her doorstep but she still played along just fine.

Once he was done dressing up, he threw himself on the bed, back first as he sprawled his legs.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Evelyn asked.

“You are not planning on sending me to Thando’s room right?” Kelvin asked nonchalantly.

“What do you mean send you to Thando’s room? Are you planning on sleeping here?”

“Yes,” he answered simply.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because I want to spend the night with you.”

“With whose permission?”

“Mine of course.”

“That’s not how it works Kelvin.”

He then sat up, a serious expression suddenly appearing on his face as he looked at her. “Let me sleep here tonight,” he said pleadingly. “I promise I won’t try anything funny. If you want, I can even sleep on the couch in the living room, I don’t mind. Just don’t kick me out, please.”

“What’s going on Kelvin?” Evelyn finally asked.

“I had a fight with my mum, that’s all I can tell you for now.” He said.

“Is that why you came here looking like someone was chasing you?”

Kelvin fell back on the bed, using his arms as a second pillow. “I needed to make sure that no one followed me here so I circled around for a while before finally knocking at your door.

“Who could have been following you this late at night?” Evelyn asked.

“I’m tired Eva,” Kelvin complained. “Can’t we just forget about it…for today?”

Evelyn went to sit on the bed, looking over at his sleeping figure. “Wake up Kelvin,” she told him, and tried to make him sit up by pulling his hand.

A very reluctant Kelvin eventually sat up and moved to sit next to her, both their feet hanging by the bed.

“I can feel a nagging sermon approaching,” he said sarcastically.

“I have never had a man sleep on my mind before and if I am to allow you to do that, I think I deserve to hear an explanation as to why I should extend that charity.”

“Wow, I am now a charity case!” and he let out a heart breaking laugh, hanging his head low over his chest.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Evelyn quickly tried to explain herself. “In any case, you are here and you obviously need my help…” she hesitated for some time before adding, “I don’t think I will be able to sleep knowing that something is obviously wrong with you.”

Kelvin raised his head up and slowly turned to look at her, a huge grin playing on his face. “You have totally fallen for me haven’t you?”

Evelyn scoffed and made a face at him. “Can you try to be serious for just a moment? Stop trying to change the topic…and no, I haven’t fallen for you. I am just being a concerned neighbour.”

The disappointment of Kelvin’s face was too vivid to ignore. Evelyn quickly looked away from him.

“I had a huge fight with my mum…it didn’t end so well.” He finally told her.

“Did she find out about me?!” The kind of fear that Kelvin saw in her eyes made him realise yet again just how much of a stranger his mother had become. Since when did the mere mention of her name bring such fear in people’s lives.

Is she really my mother? Kelvin wondered.

And if she is not, then who is that woman I have called mother for all these years…and what did she do to my sweet kind-hearted mother?

“No she didn’t, relax.” He said and he could hear her breath a huge sigh of relief.

“Then what happened?” Evelyn asked. “What was so mad that you came here looking the way you did? Did she disown you or something?”

Kelvin looked straight into her eyes and with tears welled up in his eyes he asked her, “You really think the worst of my mother, right?”

Evelyn didn’t know what to say in response. The pained look in his eyes was enough to freeze all her mental faculties.

Just what had happened to have broken this ever brazen and bold man to this extent? Evelyn wondered.

“Kelvin….” Evelyn was still at a loss for words.

“She really is a horrible person isn’t it?” Kelvin asked.

Evelyn was now wondering whether Kelvin was really looking for answers or if he was in desperate need of someone to tell him a lie…anything different from the truth he already knew.

In the end, she could only stare at him blankly.

She had heard about how the little boy at the orphanage that had been mistaken for her had been ruthlessly killed. The things surrounding his death all pointed to one person and anyone capable of doing something like that to an innocent child was someone to be hated and feared.

But how could she look Kelvin in his deep brown eyes and tell him that his mother was a monster?

He was already a man on the verge of destruction. Ant slight push and he would come crumbling down. He had set aside his pride and ego walked all the way to her place and here he was desperately trying to push away his tears because he still needed to be a man in front of her.

Seeing the desperation in his eyes, Evelyn did the only thing she could think of that would help him keep his pride. She got onto the bed, positioned herself behind him and before he could ask any question, she wrapped her arms around him from behind, her chin resting on top of his head.

Even if you can’t bring yourself to cry in my presence, could you at least let it all out when I am not looking at you? Evelyn thought as she fought back her own tears, pressing her upper body tight against him.

As if answering her question, Kelvin finally broke down…and even though Evelyn could not hear him, she could feel his body convulsing against her as he tightly gripped with both hands the part of her arm resting just below his face.

When Kelvin finally told her everything that had transpired between him and his mother, Evelyn could finally understand why he looked like a man whose wings had just been clipped off.

“So are you going to hand over the kids to her?” Evelyn asked him later while they sat in bed watching tv, each on his or her own pillow.

Between them was an aisle of much three pillow separating them; the Isle of Virtue, as Evelyn had coolly coined it.

“No way!” Kelvin said determinedly.

“Do you actually think that she would harm them in any way?” Evelyn asked. “It’s not like they are Beatrice’s children.”

Kelvin laughed. “You don’t know my mother,” he said. “There’s nothing in this world she can’t do. Those might not be Beatrice’s children but they are children of the man Beatrice is in-love with and that, that on its own is a sin against my mother on Shadreck’s part.”

“Now you are really scaring me Kelvin,” Evelyn said.

“It also pains me to know that I am capable of saying such awful things about my own mother. I keep wishing that this whole revenge thing is just a bad dream, that I will wake up one day and it would have all been just a nightmare.”

“She is going to hurt Moola if you don’t give her the kids…you are aware of that? Evelyn asked.

“Of course, how can I not?” he said, almost whispering the words. “I might not love her but I wouldn’t live with myself if something happened to her because of me. I have already hurt her enough all these years…dragging her along and making her think that I was in-love with her.”

“Are you still going to marry her?” Evelyn asked, shutting her eyes tight as she waited for him to respond.

Kelvin could feel her tense on the other side of the bed and so he moved his head over the pillow to peep at her.

Kelvin laughed upon finding her in that position. “You really don’t want me to marry her.” He said to her.

Evelyn opened her eyes only to find Kelvin’s head looking down on her. Feeling embarrassed at having been found out, she pushed him back to his side and put the pillow back where it had been.

“When did you realize you were in-love with me?” Kelvin asked, his serious tone catching her by surprise.

“If you want to talk about feelings then I suggest you grab a few blankets from there,” she was pointing to the wardrobe on the side of the wall where he was.

“You should know by now that I keep my promises no matter,” Kelvin said. “I said I wouldn’t try anything with you tonight and I meant it.”

“I know,” Evelyn said, remembering that day in his bedroom when Moola came knocking at the window and she begged Kelvin to hide her in the basement where he had previously held her captive.

“Aren’t you going t answer my question?” Kelvin said.

“Does it matter?” Evelyn tried to brush him off.

“Yes it does,” he said. “Maybe that’s the kind of motivation I need to get through this.”

“This evening,” Evelyn said.

“What about this evening?” Kelvin asked.

“I realised I am in-love with you when I found you standing by the door outside.” She said.

There was no response from Kelvin and the room was filled with silence for about a minute or so.

“Kelvin?” Evelyn called and leaned over the pillow to look at him.

The stern expression on his face scared her to death.

“Did I say something wrong?” she asked him.

“I am not going to marry Moola,” he announced.

“Is that why you look like that after what I just told you?” Evelyn sounded disappointed. She had expected him to be jumping up and down.

“Knowing that you love me too means that I now have no choice but to break my mother’s heart,” he said.

Evelyn finally understood and slowly dropped back to her sleeping position but Kelvin’s head popped up above her immediately. This time he was wearing the smile she had been longing to see a few seconds ago.

“I love you Eva, daughter of Beatrice.” He said.

“You really don’t know how to be romantic, eish!” But she was smiling and hiding his face with her hands so that he would not see her blushing cheeks.

Kelvin slowly removed her hands from his face and planted a kiss on her forehead before returning to his side of the bed.

“From now on,” Kelvin said after a while. “I am going to love my mother the best way I can.”

“And how are you going to do that?” Evelyn had asked him.

“I will break her heart first, and then give her a brand new one.”