Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 14

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Guilt.

That was the feeling gnawing at Evelyn when she laid her eyes upon Lebo’s smiling and welcoming face and a flash of that steamy evening with Kelvin ran through her mind.

“Lebo.” She said in a very low voice, not sure what else to say to him.

In response, Lebo got up from the sofa and went to hug her.  “You look like you could use a hug,” he said whilst holding her. “Tough day at work?”

Evelyn dropped her arms and slowly pulled back from his embrace before responding.

“It was a crazy day today,” she said, avoiding meeting his gaze, something that Thando easily picked on.

“I’m gonna go out for a walk,” Thando announced. “See you again soon Lebo., and have a good night.”

“Thanks Thando, you too, have a good night.”

Evelyn threw her bag down on the sofa and then herself.

“You don’t look so good,” Lebo said, taking up a seat opposite her. “Is everything okay Eva?”

“Yes Kelvin, I am okay…I guess am just tired.” She said.

“Kelvin?” Lebo asked his tightening hard as he starred at Evelyn in disbelief.

Evelyn threw him a questioning look. “Why did you bring up that name?”

“I didn’t, you did.” Lebo said.

“I did? When?” She asked, absolutely unaware of her blunder.

“You just called me Kelvin Eva.” He stated.

Evelyn gaped at him and covered her mouth with her hand. “Oh no,” she said. “I am so sorry Lebo…I don’t know what to say.”

“How about you honestly tell me what’s really going on?” Lebo said. “Your reaction when you saw me sitting here spoke volumes and it took everything in me to not think much of it…but then…you said his name.”

“Lebo….” Evelyn searched for the right words to say to make it up to him.

“Are you in-love with him?” He asked.

“I just happened to have a long day at work and he was the last person I spoke to,” Evelyn lied. “I made a mistake, I admit, but that’s about it.”
“But you still haven’t answered my question,” he said.

Evelyn sighed heavily. “I don’t understand why you would ask me such a question when you know that he has a fiancé. They will be getting married in less than two weeks.”

Lebogang was watching her closely and listening intently. “You are still avoiding my question Eva. Are you in-love with him? Just be honest with me, I beg of you. I think it would be better for me to know exactly what am dealing with from the get-go because…because I think I have fallen for you. So tell me, do I have a chance with you or should I just give up?”

Evelyn sighed heavily again, drowning her face into her hand.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know what my feelings are,” she finally managed to say. “I have been so busy and occupied by much heavier issues to allow myself to feel anything or let alone think about dating.”

“So it’s safe to say that you have some feelings for Kelvin….” Lebo noted.

“I already told you,” Evelyn started to say.

“I am not dumb Eva, I can see it in your eyes. I am just begging you to be honest with me because if you keep doing this, you are giving me hope…that I have a chance because you haven’t out rightly told me that you are already in-love with someone else. Do I have a chance with you?”

Evelyn slowly raised her head to take a good look at him. By all physical standards of beauty he was just as good looking as Kelvin except…except for the eyes…he didn’t have Kelvin’s deep brown eyes.

And why am I making such comparisons? Evelyn silently rebuked herself.

Then she consciously looked back at Lebo with a fresh mind. The desperation visibly evident in his eyes while he sat there anxiously waiting to hear her response sent a chill down her spine.

She wanted to reach out and lay her hand on his, or better yet, to hold him in her arms. She remembered the warmth of his embrace from that night at the hotel…how he had comforted her and made her feel like she was safest only in his arms.

That had been the first time in her life when she had felt most safe and needed. Lebo had made her feel like that.

But at what point did her feelings get so muddled in such a web of extreme complexity? Just what was she feeling in her heart and how was she to know which feelings constituted love when she had never experienced anything of that magnitude before?

“I like you,” Evelyn said. “I really like you and that’s why am going to be honest with you.”

“Please,” Lebo said.

“I have these feelings…in my heart…I don’t know when they started and I don’t know how to stop them. I don’t even know what they mean…. All I know is that they make me both happy and scared at the same time. That night at the charity event, you made me happier than I had ever been; happy and safe. For some reason, I wanted more…I found myself longing for more.”

“Then what’s the problem Eva?” Lebo asked.

“My feelings,” she said. “My feelings confuse me, I don’t understand them,” Evelyn lamented. “Recently, things became way too complicated in my life. My mother, her past, our present…they all just collided and I was left sprawled on the ground, alone. Right in the middle of it all was Kelvin.

“He both hates and loves me…at least that’s what he’s told me and that’s what I’ve seen. The problem is that he has every right to hate me because of who I am and unfortunately, I am not allowed to divulge those reasons to anyone else no matter.”

“Says who?” Lebo asked.

“There are just certain issues surrounding my birth that are not easy for me or anyone else involved to talk about. You see, I was born from a union of sin…and union that brought a lot of hurt to some families and my birth was sealed the fate for some of those people, in the cruellest way possible.”

“I don’t understand,” Lebo interrupted her. “How does Kelvin come in all of this?”

“I wish I could tell you exactly what you want to know…but I can’t. I am sorry Lebo.”

“Me too Eva,” Lebo said resignedly. “How about you just tell me what I need to know?”

“Kelvin’s initial intentions where to hurt me,” Evelyn revealed. “Naturally, I hated him. But during those gruesome moments we spent together, something changed. Somehow, the hate turned to something else. At first I was very determined to just walk away, to ignore him and forget he ever existed but….”

“But you also fell for him.” Lebo finished for her.

“I don’t know if what I feel for him is love or something else. I don’t know what it means or feels like to be in-love and it’s something I am not willing or anxious to discover…at least not right now.

“All I am sure of is that everything between him and I changed the moment he told me that he loved me. He might have done certain things to hurt me in the past but I have seen that he is not such a bad person.

“He is simply a man that needs love and attention from those he cares about and when he made his feelings known to me, there was a huge part of me that wanted to believe him…to believe that he was not the monster he had made me believe he was before.”

“I think you already know what you feel for him Eva,” Lebo said. “You just don’t want to admit it to yourself…or you are just too scared to confront your feelings. But here’s what I don’t understand, why is Kelvin confessing his feelings for you when he is engaged to someone else? Does he plan on leaving her just two weeks before their wedding?”

“I don’t know Lebo,” Evelyn replied. “I don’t know what Kelvin is thinking or planning and I don’t wish to find out. If there’s one thing I am sure of, it is that him and I will never be…unless I am willing and ready to lose my life.”

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

“Just something like that.” She answered.

“Oh yeah, another thing you can’t talk to me about,” he said sarcastically.

Evelyn could only look at him apologetically.

“The good news is,” Lebo said, standing up and walking to kneel on the floor before her. “I think I have heard enough to help me make a decision. Unlike Kelvin who has a lot of issues going on with him, I stand a better chance of winning your heart.

“I understand that the two of you might have grown fond of each other during the times you spent together, but I intend to start spending more time with you from now on…as long as you allow me.

“However,” Lebo continued. “If you tell me that you are willing to be with Kelvin despite the fact that he is with someone else or that you might die…your words, not mine, then all you need to do is tell me and I will never bother you again.”

“That’s the thing Lebo,” Evelyn said, looking into his eyes. “It’s not just Kelvin I am hesitant about. It’s also you or any other man out there that might be interested in me. I am very flattered that a good looking and gentleman like you is showing interest in me but, there are just so many things going on in my life that make me feel less confident about being in a serious and meaningful relationship.

“I am afraid of giving someone my heart and allowing myself to feel all those things only to be left alone when my past comes to light. I don’t think I can live with any more rejection in my life Lebo.” There were tears welled up in her eyes.

Lebogang moved closer to her and took her hands into his. “I would never do such a thing to you Eva, never, I promise you. Just give me a chance to prove it to you, please.”

“You are not even from here Lebo,” Evelyn stood up and went to stand by the window, her back to him as she looked out the window to their small front yard.

Lebo got up from the floor and went to stand behind her, his hands in his pockets.

“I don’t even know how long you plan on being in this country. You have your whole life in Botswana and I don’t expect you to just abandon everything and live here.

“I don’t even know what kind of life you live over there. We both know nothing about each other so we are not in any position to make promises to each other.What will happen to me when one day you wake up and feel like going back home because you can’t handle everything that’s going on?

“I am not going to lie to you, my life is a total mess and anyone that’s close to me is bound to feel the heat at some point. You might be willing to go through all that with me but I will not allow anyone I care about to suffer because of my weaknesses. I just can’t.”

“All I can hear is that you care about me.” Lebo was smiling behind her.

“I am serious Lebo,” She turned around to face him, an expression on her face that matched her words.

“I know,” Lebo quickly sobered up, pulling her closer to him and then turning her so that her back was now against him as he wrapped his arms around her waist.

“Bu I am not going back to Botswana just yet.” He told her. “Winning your heart has suddenly become way too important for me than anything else out there.”

“What about your job? And your family?” Evelyn asked.

“I run my own company so I can stay away as long as I deem fit.” He said. “Besides, in this modern age of technology, you can still run a business even from space. I don’t want to go back without you.”

Evelyn immediately tried to turn around to look at him but he forced her to stay in place with his arms.

“You want me to live with you in Botswana?” She asked in shock. “Who told you that I want to leave my peaceful country to live in a foreign land Lebo?”

“Zambia isn’t that peaceful anymore Eva,” Lebo remarked. “You guys are slowly becoming a mix of Rwanda, South Africa and Nigeria.”

“If that’s your way of winning my heart then you need a new strategy,” she tried to get away from him again but he still managed to keep her in position.

Laughing, he hugged her even tighter. “I am kidding me,” he said, planting a kiss on top of her head. “But on a serious note, don’t you think that getting away from this country would be the best way to avoid some of the problems you are facing right now or in future?”

Evelyn thought about his statement for a while.

“I did a bit of research on your mother’s family, very rich folks,” he was saying. “With the kind of reputation they’ve managed to establish for themselves over the years, I doubt they would want it known to the public that the mighty philanthropist Beatrice Mwangala had a daughter out of wedlock.

“I can only speculate about how you came to be born and if what you’ve hinted at is anything to go by, I would understand why that family would feel the need to continue keeping your presence a secret. The more you keep bumping into them like you did at that charity, the more desperate they will get in trying to keep you hidden, forever.”

Evelyn sighed heavily upon hearing things from another’s point of view. Lebo didn’t even know the half of it and yet he was able to calculate the kind of danger she might be in if her presence was discovered.

And even though she had little to worry about from the public…since that was more of a concern for her mother’s side, it was Kelvin’s side learning about her that roused such great fear in her.

She had witnessed for herself the kind of control Mervis had on her own son and she had an idea of what she was planning to do to Beatrice’s family to avenge her daughter’s death.

Evelyn could only imagine the kind of vermin Mervis would unleash on the direct offspring of the affair that reaped her family apart. It was only a matter of time before she learnt of her existence and Kelvin’s feelings and erratic behaviour only brought that eventuality even more possible than ever.

“Wouldn’t it hurt your feelings knowing that the only reason I would be following you to Botswana would be only because I need an escape? That is the same as using you for my own gain… and I don’t like how that makes me look or feel.” Evelyn asked the man who still had his arms wrapped around her waist.

“I wouldn’t think of it as you using me,” he said confidently. “I would think of it as you trusting me to take care of you.”

“A very optimistic way of looking at things,” Evelyn was smiling as she mulled over his words and weighed her options in her head.

“That’s because I am such an optimistic guy.” Lebo returned.

“I used to think that I was optimistic too, but recent events have turned me into a person I can hardly recognize. One moment I might be smiling, feeling happy, next moment I would be feeling a sense of great shame, embarrassment, fear, stuck at a crossroad…and crying…a lot of crying. That’s the kind of person I have become.”

“Life can do that to you sometimes,” Lebo said. “You could choose to let your circumstances define you or you could rise above them, show them who’s in charge and live your life according to the direction you wish it to go. Eventually, everything will fall back in place.”

“Wise and good looking,” Evelyn commented under her breath. And then loudly she added, “I didn’t know that was possible.”

“Me neither.” He said and they both laughed.

* * *

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Mervis looked like a wounded buffalo ready to pounce on any unsuspecting victim that was unfortunate enough to set themselves in her path when she pounded hard on Lucy’s new address where they had arranged to meet that morning.

She had tried relentlessly for the past twenty-four hours to get in touch with Lucy but the woman’s phone was still off. There could only be one explanation as to why things had turned out this way.

“What the hell where you doing while she was running away with two children Rafael?” Mervis verbally pounced on the man she had left I charge of Lucy.

“I am very sorry ma’am,” Rafael could hardly look at her when answering.

Without warning, Mervis walked over to where he was standing and slapped him hard across the face. The thirty-one year old man staggered backwards as he tried to nurse his bruised cheek with his hand.

“Do you think saying sorry will make her appear before me?” Mervis yelled. “Why have I been paying you when you can’t even do such a simple job?”

Rafael remained quiet, his feeling of remorse quickly replaced by shame.

“You better find Lucy or be ready to say goodbye to your family today.”

In what appeared to be well-times miracle, there was a disturbance at the gate and then Lucy appeared.

“You!” Mervis approached her while she was still at the gate looking both timid and determined in whatever resolve she had reached on her way to meeting her boss.

Mervis grabbed her by the ear and pulled her aside. “Open that door so we can talk properly inside. I have more than a lot to say and I don’t need an audience for that.”

Lucy quickly ran and opened the door, she then stepped back and allowed Mervis to go in first.

“What is this?” Was the first question Mervis asked when her eyes landed on the room empty room she was now standing in. “Where is all your stuff?” She turned around to look at Lucy who had also entered behind her.

“Wait,” it suddenly appeared to Mervis that something bigger than the empty house was missing. “Where are the kids Lucy?” She asked.

“They are gone,” Lucy answered.

“What do you mean they are gone?” Mervis asked.

“I took them far away to a place you can never find them.” She said.

Mervis laughed, thinking someone was playing a very bad joke on her. “This is not the time to joke with me Lucy. I have no time for this kind of nonsense. Tell me right now, where have you taken the kids?”

“They are my kids!” Lucy snapped and cried at the same time. “I already told you, they are mine. I gave birth to them. I won’t allow you to take them away from me.”

“Come here,” Mervis tried to grab her by the head but Lucy moved to the side defiantly.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve just done to yourself and to those kids?” Mervis roared.

“I don’t care what you do to me but at least I know my children will be safe as long as they are far away from you.” Lucy said with such conviction in her voice that caught Mervis by surprise.

“Who got to you?” Mervis asked. “Did you confess to Shadreck and he made you a better offer than mine?”

“No one got to me,” Lucy said. “And Mr Shadreck doesn’t know anything about you or our arrangement. I am willing to let you use me to break up that home but I don’t want you dragging my children into this. If my children do not die by your hands, they will die in that woman’s hands.”

“If I thought that Shadreck telling his wife that he was leaving simply because he fell in-love with another woman was enough, then I wouldn’t have gone this far with you!” Mervis shouted.

“I could have picked a much younger and very sophisticated woman to sway his heart but I needed one that had the potential to be both wife-like and a mother. You had so many years to make him leave his evil wife and you still couldn’t make him stay with you. How pathetic of you to stand there and act like you run the show.”

Mervis was feeling like she was losing her mind.

She had not calculated for such a development because she never thought Lucy had the balls to stand up to her and betray her like this. The question she needed answered the most was; who was behind all this?

Was it just a matter of courage borne from blind love or could it be that Shadreck had caught on to something and was now using her to get to her?

The worst possibility running through Mervis’ mind was; had Beatrice discovered who Lucy was and managed to get to her?

“I love him!” Lucy announced in a very shaky voice.

“I knew it!” Mervis said and scoffed. “And do you think that he loves you back?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. I just didn’t want to win his heart using the tricks you taught me. I wanted him to come to me by his own will. The only reason why I have not told him the truth is because I still feel some level of loyalty towards you and I am willing to let you continue using me because I want this thing to end as soon as possible. I am tired.” Lucy lamented.

“I should have known that picking a desperate whore from off the streets was a bad idea.” Mervis was saying.

“You can insult me all you want but I am never telling you where my children are. They are only babies. They have no idea what’s going and I would like to keep it that way. You can punish me all you want, you can even kill me, I don’t care. I deserve everything because I am the one who signed such an evil pact.

“I just want this thing to end. Yes, I admit, I am no good. I failed to make him leave his wife despite having two of his children and I can promise you that no matter how many years you wait, he will never leave his wife, at least not for me. You can use me in whatever manner you like but please, leave my kids out of this.”

Mervis was glaring at her like she was the worst human species she had ever come across. “Your kids?” she scoffed. “Do you even know how much those kids are worth? Millions!” Mervis said, thinking about the twenty percent still untouched from the Mwangala’s fortune.

More than the eight percent she had already managed to get her hands on, it was the twenty percent that meant everything to her simply because it was exclusively owned by Beatrice.

With enough persuasion, Shadreck would have convinced his wife to surrender her money if it meant getting back the children Mervis had intended to hold hostage.

But now Lucy had thrown her this curveball.

“I am very sorry that it came to this but….” Lucy was saying from the corner of the room where she was cowering.

“But you are going to make things right Lucy,” Mervis’ smile was threatening enough to freeze a waterfall. “You created this mess so naturally, you will fix it. You said it yourself, you owe me. If you think that death is the only way to punish you, then you must not know me by now.

“I never make things easy for my enemies…especially those that have declared war to my face. Killing you would be letting you off too easily.” Mervis’ tone was calm and controlled and yet as menacing in its delivery as possible.

“I am going to make things so painful for you that you will be begging me to hear the location of where you’re hiding those little bastards. Rafael!” She shouted for her Lucy’s handler who was outstanding outside.

Eager to redeem himself, Rafael rushed into the room and stood at attention before his madam.

“Put her in the vehicle,” Mervis instructed him. “There’s a special place she needs to go that might help her refresh her mind a little bit.” She was looking menacingly at Lucy with a smirk on her face that spoke of every possible evil she had in store for her.

Lucy was wailing and kicking as Rafael dragged her to the car parked in front of the house.

Later that evening, Kelvin received a call from Rafael.

“Things are not looking that good over here Mr Kelvin,” Rafael reported.

“What happened?” Kelvin asked as he punched in the password to his newly installed home security system. The door opened and he entered the house.

He walked over to the fridge, took a bottle of water from there and walked with it to his guest lounge where he threw himself onto the sofa.

“Your mother is losing it!” Rafael was saying. “She is keeping Madam Lucy in some room somewhere and two men spent the whole day torturing her. This is not what you promised us Sir. You said that you would keep us safe.” The poor man was on the verge of crying.

“Calm down Rafael,” Kelvin said. “Tell me everything that happened first.”

And then Rafael walked him through the events of that day, step by step.

“But you didn’t expect my mother to take all this laying down Rafael, did you?” Kelvin said.

“Of course not Sir but….”

“I spoke to Lucy about my mother retaliating…but, I never imagined she would take things this far.”

“I also never imagined such things happening in real life but your mother is something else Mr Kelvin. You really need to do something soon or Madam Lucy will die in there.”

“I know,” Kelvin said. “I know. I will get to it right away. And please ask Lucy to hang in there. I will do everything I can to ensure that no more harm is done to her, okay?”

“Yes sir, we are counting on you.” Rafael said.

Immediately that call was done, Kelvin speed dialled his mother and waited for her to answer the call.

“My son,” came Mervis’ usual greeting to him.

“Hi mum,” Kelvin said, his voice heavy with emotion.

Kelvin was about to cross a point in his life he had never dreamt of ever crossing and only God knew just where his feet would land.

“Where are you?” Kelvin asked.

Mervis chuckled before responding. “Why are you asking where I am? I thought I told you that I was in SA doing some shopping. Are you asking where I am right now? I am at a friend’s house in KZN. Is anything the matter? Why do you sound so serious?”

“I know where you are mum, please don’t lie to me. This has to stop, right now.” Kelvin said sternly.

“What’s going on son? You are starting to scare me now. What are you talking about?” Mervis asked, a strange feeling nagging at her heart as she waited to hear her son’s response.

“I know that you are in Tanzania,” Kelvin said, standing up to face the wall, his hand placed over his forehead as he bent his head down and sighed heavily.

He raised his head again. “I have always known where you go whenever you leave home. Come back home now, I have what you are looking for.” He announced.

Mervis jumped from the hotel bed she had been lying on. “What do you mean you have what I’m looking for Kelvin?” she could hardly hear her own thoughts over her loudly beating heart.

“The kids,” Kelvin said after a moment’s hesitation. “I have Lucy’s kids.”

Mervis’ knees immediately gave way and she found herself kneeling on the carpeted floor of her hotel room.

“Mother, are you alright?” Kelvin asked, the silence on the other side of the line creeping him out.

“No…not you Kelvin…not you my son….”

His mother’s words ripped through his veins and he felt every bit and piece of her broken heart weigh him down to the ground.

Still sobbing, Kelvin later said to her, “I am very sorry mother…I am so sorry.” He was crying so hard Mervis could hardly make out the rest of his words.

Broken and alone on the floor, Kelvin told his mother, “come home, I will explain everything when you get here.”

And he let the phone fall from his hand to the floor as he surrendered his body to the emotions threatening to rip him apart.

There was no shelter strong enough to protect him from the storm he had just brewed.

There was no going back.

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Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 13

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Without warning, Beatrice rushed into the room and tried to yank the phone from Shadreck’s hand but he managed to swerve around in his spinning chair in time to avoid her sudden attack.

“What are you hiding from me Bashi Mark?” Beatrice was still trying to get her hands on her husband’s phone and he was still holding it away from her.

“What are you getting so worked up for Beatrice?” Shadreck asked, smiling as he played at nonchalance. “You are not the only woman I love in this life,” the sixty-two year old said.

“What did you just say?” Beatrice had paused and was glaring at him with the passion of a hundred angry ancestors behind her eyes.

Shadreck got up from his chair and went to stand in front of his wife, smiling he said, “you really don’t trust me?”

“You bringing up trust only means that there is something you are hiding from me.” She returned.

“You really want to see who I was talking to?” He asked.

“Yes,” she said.

Shadreck held out the phone for her. “There,” he said, showing her his call log.

“Tina?” Beatrice said. “Your sister Tina from Mongu?”

Shadreck was smiling and nodding his head before quickly putting the phone in his pocket.

“I know that you have no family of your own but I can promise you that it’s very normal for a brother to tell his little sister that he loves her.”

Beatrice was gripped with embarrassment from head to toe. She hang her head low and started hitting her forehead softly over and over again before her husband reached out to wrap her in a hug.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “Am so ashamed…I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.”

“It’s okay my love,” he said over her head. “I’m very much flattered that you still get jealous over an old fella like me. So, how about you make it up to me in the other room?”

Beatrice held her upper body away from him with her arms still around his waist. She was smiling seductively at him.

“What if I saved you the trip and created a new memory for you right here in the study?” She had already started working his buttons as she spoke.

“I thought women coming from church were supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit,” he was grinning triumphantly as he moved back to sit on the chair.

Beatrice got down on her knees before him, this time unzipping his pants, slowly and deliberate. “I am everything else but holy,” she was telling him. “Be it Sunday or Friday. How about I show you exactly what I mean Mr Mwangala?”

For a man on the throngs of passion, when the heat inside him seeks an out…when he chases with all his might for that one moment, a moment when time freezes, when his own breath becomes secondary and the need to arrive takes on a life-changing meaning…when he’s gripped by a power so overwhelming that he desperately clings to the wings around him, the wings of his young lover’s hands…deeper and deeper he digs…and deeper and deeper he yearns for an out…and release.

And while Shadreck was lost in Beatrice’s erotic mechanization, she had reached out into the pocket of his trousers now lying on the floor and had managed to check for Tina’s number.

For a woman trained and armed in the art of deceit, Beatrice knew better than to trust the word of another, even if that person was her own husband. The very foundation of her love life was built on manipulation and deceit and to death had she resigned herself to keep reaping the deserving fruits of her unpalatable actions.

Thus, when she told her husband two hours later that she was going to meet a friend for a drink, it was only so she could meet a private investigator who could look into the identity of the owner of that number.

“It’s a Tanzanian line,” Joseph the PI noted upon seeing the number written on the piece of paper he had just been handed.

Beatrice was gripping the steering wheel of her new Jeep with both hands, the only thing around she could take her frustrations out on.

“Yes, is the task out of your jurisdiction” She angrily asked the thirty something year old PI.

“No, of course not,” he quickly supplied, not prepared to lose his number one well-paying client. “Just give me twenty-four hours and I will get back to you with results.”

“Just be careful and keep this clean as always, you understand?”

“Yes madam,” he answered and waited.

Beatrice removed a brown envelop from her hand bag and handed it to him.

“Get to work right away,” she said to the PI as he stepped down from her vehicle.

Back at home, Shadreck was making his own arrangements.

“Get rid of this line right now.” He said to whoever was on the other side of the phone. “I will send someone over with a new line for you to use.” And he cut the call.

Putting down his phone, Shadreck then picked up the picture frame sitting on the other side of his massive table in his study and stared at it for a very long time. It was a portrait of the perfect family any man could ever dream of; two beautiful kids sitting between their proud and happy parents.

As he traced his finger around the glass of the picture frame over and over again, the blank yet distant expression on his face made it hard for anyone to guess what was running through Shadreck’s mind.

Mervis had just said goodbye to her son Kelvin after having breakfast when she her cell phone rang.

Lucy, her caller ID announced on the screen.

“You never call me first, is everything okay?” Mervis asked.

“I think there’s a little problem,” Lucy said.

“What is it?” Mervis’ dancing eyes mirrored the agitation quickly building up in her stomach.

“I think his wife has found out about me,” Lucy announced. There was no mistaking the terror in her delivery.

Mervis froze.

“He just called and asked me to change my number.” Lucy explained.

“How did she find out?” Mervis made a quick recovery and looked about ready to explode into a thousand pieces on bloody human flesh.

“I don’t know,” Lucy was on the very of crying now. “I had spoken to him a few hours ago and everything seemed fine but then he called me just a minute ago and said that I change my number. He didn’t tell me why and I couldn’t get myself to ask. I think that the wife must have walked in on him while he was talking to me.”

“Dammit!” Mervis cussed. “This changes everything I had planned. It means that we have to move our plans forward than initially planned before anyone catches on to our plans.”

Are you saying that you want to end this now?” Lucy asked.

“Yes, that’s what am saying Lucy.” She replied. “Why do you sound disappointed? It’s not like you are the one being inconvenienced here. I hope you were not getting too comfortable playing wife for another woman’s husband were you?”

There was silence for a moment…and then Lucy’s voice finally came through the line. “No ma’am,” she said, her tone low and laden with filtered rage and trepidation.

“Good,” Mervis echoed. “I need you to stay calm and in control so that no one gets suspicious. Do everything Mwangala tells you to do and keep me updated. I will be there to sort out everything tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” The announcement caught Lucy by surprise.

“Yes tomorrow. Do you have a problem with that?” Mervis snapped.

“No, of course not,” Lucy answered.

“You don’t sound very convincing Lucy,” Mervis observed. “Is there something you are keeping from me? You better tell me now or I swear to God I will make you regret the day you ever met me.”

“No ma’am, I swear…I am not keeping anything from you,” she replied in a shaking voice. “It’s just that…things are happening so fast. These are my children….”

“What did you say?” Mervis roared.

“I understand that you have your own plans and all… but these are still my children Madam Mervis.”

Lucy was pacing up and down her living room trying to master whatever courage came with her human default settings. She was never a woman to stand up for herself…wasn’t that the very reason she had found herself in such a predicament in the first place?

She had been battered physically and bruised emotionally when Mervis picked her up from the streets and turned her into the perfect woman for a man she would have never ever dreamt of crossing paths with.

What had presented itself as simply an opportunity to have some level of financial standing in life had turned out to be way more than she had bargained for…and now she was stuck at crossroads facing two powerful figures that had the power to ruin her and leave her in a far worse situation than she had been seven years ago.

“You shut up you ungrateful wench!” Mervis yelled into the phone. “If not for me you wouldn’t have those kids in the first place. Do not think about betraying me even for a second or I swear I will things to you that not even your miserable dead husband could have imagined doing to you.”

By the time Mervis was done with her mouthful of threats and insults, Lucy had been reduced to a bundle of nerves and tears sprawled on the cold floor of her living room.

* * *

Following the unexpected yet memorable turn of events that had transpired between him and Evelyn, Kelvin could not get a good night’s sleep. His head was filled with thoughts of her that he could not seem to shake no matter how much he tried.

There was no question about where his relationship with Evelyn would go. There was could only be one possible end and there was only one person that would suffer the most pain if things came to light. It was only a question of when?

But still, that knowledge was not enough to keep Kelvin from seeking out the only woman to have ever made his heart shake with both fear and grace. Thus, when all his calls and texts went ignored, he followed her to the one place he knew she could not run away from him; her place of work.

Evelyn came out of the gate and was ready to head towards the bus stop when Kelvin intercepted her.

She shut her eyes and hang her head in protest and resignation.

“You’ve been avoiding my calls and texts,” Kelvin pressed her immediately.

“What do you want from me Kelvin?” She could finally look at him.

“I missed you,” he said simply.

The confession was fast and unexpected. Evelyn appeared to be at a loss for words. The look in his eyes and the sound of his voice as he said those words to her did something made her blood feel warm against the cold winter atmosphere.

“Let’s go, I’ll give you a ride.” He offered, pointing to his vehicle parked just behind them on the side of the wall fence of her office building.

“Why are you still doing this?” Evelyn asked, not taking the hand he was offering. “I thought we already talked about this. You coming here like this only makes things even harder for me. What if your mother finds out that you were here? There are so many people around here that might know her. Did you even think about that or where you just too busy being selfish caring only about your feelings?”

Her words ripped through Kelvin to his very core. He knew very well the risk he was putting her in and he had fought hard to keep himself from showing up before her but here he was…he had no excuse whatsoever apart from the fact that any moment that went by without setting his sights upon her made him feel like a dead man walking.

Yet that was still not a god enough reason to put her life in danger.

“I can’t,” Kelvin said, looking down at his feet in shame.

“You can’t what?” Evelyn asked, looking around to see if anyone was watching them.

“I can’t go on without seeing you Eva,” he confessed.

Evelyn stopped whatever she was doing and looked at the man standing in front of her. Just what was she to believe; his past or his words?

“I need some time Kelvin,” she told him. “I need to think. I am so confused right now and apart from the fact that there’s a huge part of you that hates me, nothing else seems to make sense. I am both terrified and enamoured by you. I don’t know whether to run from you or to run into your arms and the fact that you know I have this weakness scares me even more.”

“I know that I am the last person you would want to trust especially with your heart, but Eva, I beg of you, please trust me just this once.”

“And what happens after I trust you Kelvin? Now you have only two weeks left to your wedding. Do you still plan on keeping me as your mistress? I refuse in the name of everything holy to be anybody’s mistress.

“The fact that you still insist on shaking up my feelings only proves to me that you are still out for revenge…because if you cared about me as much as you say you do, you wouldn’t be asking this of me.”

“I tried to…” but Kelvin was forced to stop talking when a group of workers came through the gate. “Let’s talk somewhere else, please.” He sent her a pleading look before taking her hand and leading her to his car.

He held the door open for her and waited for her to get settled inside before closing it and walking over to the other side to take his seat behind the wheel.

“I tried to talk to my mother about hastening her revenge but she would not hear a word of it.” Kelvin said as he drove them to whatever place he had in mind.

“Did you actually think that she would listen to you?” Evelyn asked. “I guess you just as naïve as you are calculative.”

Kelvin threw her a side eye but quickly put his focus back on the road. “I had to try…just to check what exactly I was dealing with and it didn’t look so good.”

“And yet you still showed up at my work place. Where are you taking me anyway? I hope it’s not to my place. There are spies planted there. I really hate that kind of drama.”

Kelvin laughed. “Relax, we are just going to drive around and then I will get a cab to take you home later.”

“Someone could still see us in the same car and it’s just as bad as all other possible scenarios.”

“You think too much Eva, relax.”

“How can I relax? Your fiancé is crazy! I already feel like a side chick riding around in your vehicle like this.”

“You can’t be the side chick when you are the one I love,” Kelvin stated matter-of-factly.

“Is that supposed to make me feel special?” Evelyn scoffed. “You really know nothing about love or women.”

“I will find a way for us to be together Eva…and I promise not to defile your virtue in the process. Can you trust me on that one, please?”

“Make it so that your mother does not make me pay for my mother’s sins and I promise to give my life to you.” She said with a sombre expression on her face.

“I hope you keep your word,” he said, mirroring her expression as he fixed his gaze on the road ahead.
Early the next morning just before her flight, Mervis had scheduled a meeting at the airport with one of her suppliers.

He was a very short man with a pot-belly that proved a little overwhelming for his short frame but the stride in his step spoke of a man with an even fatter bank account.

Mervis came out of the vehicle when she saw him pull up next to her in the car park.

The man stepped out of his vehicle carrying an A4 envelope in his hands.

Smiling with a great sense of familiarity, he shook Mervis’ hand and handed her the envelope.

“All the documents are in there,” the short and round forty-something year old man said. There was no mistaking his heavy foreign accent, and the rare and authentic African print design he was wearing screamed his Nigerian origins even before he opened his mouth.

“Did he sign all of them?” Mervis asked.

“Yes he did,” the man answered.

“He wasn’t suspicious?”

“Of course not, why would he be?” he said smugly. “The man made a lot of enemies before he left Nigeria and all those people have a bone to chew with him. It wasn’t very difficult coming up with a phony company and getting those contacts to sign on it.

“We left no room for speculation…and of course it helped that you offered us seventy percent of the stakes and only took thirty for yourself. That in itself was enough to motivate the interested parties.”

“That’s because I don’t need his money Mr Chukwu. I already have enough to last me four lifetimes. I just need to leave them broke and desperate.”

“And that they will be,” the man said chirpily. “He made no hesitation investing eighty percent of his wealth into the business. He thinks he’s going to be Africa’s Bill Gates.”

Mervis laughed heartily. “That man is way too ambitious, that’s his biggest weakness.” She remarked.

“I guess he picked the wrong woman to be his enemy,” Mr Chukwu commented. “I would certainly hate to be your enemy Madam Mervis. You are one hell of a business woman.”

“Mwangala is not my enemy actually,” Mervis corrected her business partner. “He just happened to be in the same bed as my worst enemy. You know what they say; a friend to my enemy is also my enemy.”

“I thought it was an enemy of my enemy is my friend?” Mr Chukwu said, laughing.

“It’s one and the same thing Mr Chukwu…one and the same….” Mervis said as she flipped the papers inside the envelope with her thumb.

And now I have to get my hands on that remaining twenty per cent, Beatrice was saying in her head.

* * *

Beatrice was in a very terrible mood the following evening when she returned home from work and found her husband happily watching a game between Man City and his new favourite team Leicester City.

She stormed into the living room and threw her handbag on the floor. She was soaked in rage and her lips were quivering from all the pent up anger she had been waiting to release from the moment she learnt what her husband had done behind her back.

“You are back home early today,” Shadreck greeted his wife without paying much attention to her since his attention was on the game on tv. It might not have been live but Beatrice had walked in at a very crucial moment that he couldn’t risk looking away for too long.

Noticing his lack of attention, Beatrice went for the remote control on the sofa beside him and turned off the tv unceremoniously.

“What did you do to our businesses Shadreck?”

Mr Mwangala immediately weighed the kind of trouble he was in. she only called him by his first name when she was extremely mad…and this was one of those times.

“You found out already?” He said, sitting up straight to brace himself for the oncoming verbal torture.

You found out already?” Beatrice spat. “Is that all you are going to tell me in this situation Bashi Moola? Have you lost your mind? You sold off all our shares without consulting me and all you can say is; you found out already?”

“Calm down honey,” Shadreck said. “Sit down and let’s talk about this like civilized people. I might have done something like this behind your back but I had very good reasons…and I am still your husband.”

His tone alone was enough to make Beatrice sit down. The man might be crazy in-love with her, but he never allowed those feelings to interfere with the kind of respect he felt he deserved from his wife.

“Just explain to me, what did you do with all our money?” Beatrice asked, visibly controlling her tone and expression to come off as calm as possible.

“I was going to tell you later on,” Shadreck was saying. “I wanted it to be a surprise for our anniversary.”

“Selling off our shares and making us lose control of our businesses sounds like an anniversary gift to you? Why am I not jumping up in joy right now? Could there be something wrong with me?”

“Why don’t you let me finish explaining at least,” he said.

“Explain,” Beatrice said, folding her arms over her chest.

“You remember that business deal I was working on over the weekend?” He asked her.

She nodded.

“You know very well that I had been chasing that deal for so many years. Those guys only agreed to let me in when I offered to raise the amount. At first I was a bit sceptical since we were dealing with a lot of money but then I spoke to my contact in Nigeria who told me that that area was a haven for oil, that we had to move in fast before the government and other stake holders realised the value of that area.

“I spent two weeks doing some research during my trip two months ago and I found out that everything was true. I knew that if I came to you and told you about my plans, you would not agree to take such a risk. You are way too cautious but sometimes business requires that you take certain risks.”

“By risking our life savings you mean?” Beatrice hissed.

“I invested them Beatrice. I have made well calculated business moves in the past and I would expect that you would trust me this time again. Have I ever failed you before?”

“You have never risked our entire fortune before Shadreck,” she said. “And you deceived me into signing documents that gave away everything I own.”

“Not everything my dear,” he said, getting up and walking over to sit next to her. “I never touched the two businesses you control. Those are completely under your control. I know that in every business deal there’s a risk that it might not go as expected, so…just in case something like that happens…at least you would still have something to lean on.”

“Is that supposed to comfort me?” Beatrice asked.

Shadreck tried to hold her hand but she was not in the mood to entertain him.

“I am sorry honey,” Shadreck said, looking extremely apologetic. “But I promise I won’t let you down once this thing comes through. I promise.”

Beatrice didn’t seem moved at all. “I am not comfortable with all this. How can you even trust those people after everything that happened in the past? You took off with their money when and left them to fend for themselves. I can bet you all my life savings that they never forgot about that. People never forget the wrongs they’ve been dealt in life. I know I wouldn’t.”

“They are businessmen Beatrice,” he tried to reassure her. “Besides, I never took their money. I took what was rightfully mine and left to grown my small fortune where I saw an opportunity. It was all business and they said they understood. They wouldn’t be where they are today if they didn’t understand such a simple fact.”

“That’s what you think, but humans are scary by nature.” She said. “How much are you expecting from this deal?”

“If I told you that you might be the Oprah Winfrey of Africa, would that help remove that frown on your face?” Shadreck said, smiling at his lovely young wife.

Beatrice was looking at her husband like she had just swallowed a happy pill, forgetting for a moment about another issue of concern she had against her husband.

Just who was the woman he was keeping in Tanzania?

Those kids she had heard him mention on the phone, where they his? How many were they?

And why couldn’t she find any information about the identity of that woman?

What was Shadreck hiding from her?

She wanted to ask him all this and many other questions…but the issue of money had crept up on her very suddenly and overshadowed all the worries that had been keeping her busy all week.

 

At Evelyn’s home front that evening, she opened the door to the house after a long day at work and found her house mate and best friend Thando enjoying a hearty laugh with Lebo.

Lebo could not explain the look he saw in her eyes when their eyes met.

As Lebogang continued smiling at her as if she was the source of his Oxygen, Evelyn could not help wondering, what was that nagging feeling she was feeling in her heart?

 

That same evening, Kelvin was alone in his room, pacing back and forth with his phone in his hands as Evelyn’s words echoed through his mind;

Make it so that your mother does not make me pay for my mother’s sins and I promise to give my life to you.

For the first time in his life, Kelvin had found a purpose for living, a fight of his own and not one decided for him by someone else.

But just how was he to balance his love and loyalty between the woman he had loved all his life and the woman he wanted to love for the rest of his life?

Looking down at his phone for the last night, Kelvin’s mind was made up.
He dialled a number and raised the phone to his ear.

“Ms Lucy?” Kelvin said.