Chronicles of a Divorcee: Warming a Cold Heart

A few days ago I overheard a friend of mine being tongue-slapped by a relative of hers about the state of her ‘naked’ fingers and why at age twenty-nine there were still no symptoms of a man in her life in sight. I went home that evening and bragged to my sister;

“You know what I love about my life right now?”

She said, “What?”

“That nobody can ever dare ask me when am getting married!” I said excitedly. And believe me in that moment I felt like that was something to celebrate.

You see in my head I was thinking;

I have been married already so I bet people around me aren’t in such a hurry to see me married off again…and the good part is, I don’t yet have the heart to even consider remarrying! I am in no rush, I still have a few more years on my eggs, and I have absolutely no desire to be attached to someone till death do us part.

Hehe.

So there I was basking in the glory of being a divorced woman and not having to be subjected to the one question that women my age are faced with every day of their single life when it suddenly struck me:

I am not just divorced, I am also single!

Ooooh, the horror!

Ever since my divorce came through, I always referred to myself as a divorcee, never a single woman. The sudden realization that I was single again awakened such great fear in me that I started panicking over the state of my heart and my future. Being single naturally meant that I had to start considering opening up my heart to dating and worse, possibly thinking about getting remarried in future.

It meant sooner or later I would have to start worrying about;

Will he call me? Should I call him first? Is he thinking about me? Will he text? Should I text first? What should I reply? Does he like me? Is this love?

Oh. My. Poor. Little. Dear. Heart.

I had been with one man for close to eight years, three of which were spent married. That’s literally eight long years of being off the market! How the hell was I supposed to deal with the new reality of being ‘available’ after such a long time? What am I supposed to do? How do people these days date? What do they do?

As a married woman I knew I had to look hot and sexy for my man but I was also aware that he was already bagged so whether I looked hot enough or not, whether I chewed loudly or not, whether I puffed or not on a date, or whether I burped or not, we would still end up in the same bed!

Such comfort…such security.

But now??? Mayo ine……….nachula.

I have to go through the hustle of getting to know someone new all over again??

Someone please, calm my ageing ovaries down, am losing my mind here.

Am telling you I can feel the menopause creeping right through my veins just thinking about this…and I am only twenty-eight years old.

The realization that I was single opened a whole cane of worms that I wasn’t yet ready to address. I was already struggling with finding a place to fit in; I couldn’t be found with the married women because I wasn’t married any more, I couldn’t confidently hang out with the single ladies because a huge part of me still felt married which naturally made me feel out of place (and it also didn’t help that the recurring theme amongst the single ladies was their future prospective spouses…marriage, marriage, dating, dating, children and oh my God marriage again!), and still, I couldn’t hang out with the divorced folks because if they weren’t already remarried, they were divorcees who wanted to talk about nothing except the resentment they still harboured for their nefarious ex-spouses.

I was in a maze; anxious, lonely and confused.

Of course I had to confront the one question I had been ignoring all along; am I ready to start dating again?

The ink on my divorce papers is probably still as freshly scented as it was the day it was signed so I basked a little in the idea of not having to answer that question under the guise of; it’s not time yet, OR, am not ready yet, OR, it’s too soon.

And then morning would come and I would still find myself trying to pick a category to fit myself into; not married, single but mentally married, not used to being divorced…and lost.

Deeper and deeper I got swallowed in this helpless love maze.

Days went by and the confusion lingered when I was suddenly confronted with a situation that required me to confront my status in life…and that status was that I was not a married woman, and that not only was I a divorcee, but I was also single.

I felt like I was back at square one in my love life. And it sucked.

Unfortunately, it was around this time that a male figure entered my life. He came like the wind, or like a thief in the night, unannounced. He was everything I wouldn’t look for in a man…because he was younger than me and I do not date or even consider guys younger than me. I am more of an Alex (think An Untimely Love anyone? LOL…I know those that read my stories know what am talking about, a vintage kind of taste in men is what I have.)

But Michael came along (that’s what I’ve decided to call him) and he sent my already messed up life on fire. I was initially drawn to him because of his spiritual maturity. I remember looking at him the first time we met and thinking; dame that boy is deep! I want to be deep in my faith like him yoh. I was still very new in my walk with Christ so anyone that appeared more Bible knowledgeable than me was someone worth respecting.

A smile to die for and an adventurous heart…he was like the little brother I always wished to have…(yes I have an actual little brother but he’s like from Jupiter and Michael was like heaven on a spoon). Months went by and we became close friends. He was still just my little brother…still the boy a few years (or is it?) younger than me, nothing more. And I bet you all this while he was looking at me and thinking, “Oh this old lady is so cool and friendly!”

Weeks went by and one late night I get a call from Michael.

“I’m outside your gate,” he tells me.

“You’re outside my gate?” I asked, looking at the time on my phone. It was a few minutes passed 11 p.m.

“You are here at my house?” I asked for the umpteenth time, sitting up straight in my bed.

I could hear him chuckling in the background. “Yes, check for the lights through your window.” He says and so I get up from my bed, roll the curtain to the side and there by my gate I see lights shining through.

“You are actually here!” I screamed. “What are you doing here? It’s almost midnight!”

Michael laughs and says; “Because I missed you. I wanted to see you.”

I quickly put on some decent clothes and went out to get the gate. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw that he had come with a close friend of his but the shock on my face was so loud it probably spooked the enzymes out of his friend!

What the hell are these people doing at my house at this ungodly hour? I kept thinking to myself as I ushered them inside.

Michael was busy smiling surreptitiously and acting all cool, his friend too! I had never before had friends (male friends, or even female friends) visit my house at such an ‘ungodly’ hour and yet here where these two guys innocently walking into my house as if it was 11 in the morning.

The two gentlemen looked so comfortable in my house and after thirty minutes passed it didn’t look like they would be leaving any time soon so I offered them food. Naturally that meant they would still be in my house passed midnight because it would take more than forty minutes for the meal to be ready.

“What did you come to do at my house?” I later sent a text to Michael after they had left my house and he repeated his casual response; just visiting.

His response was so casual that I started to question myself, and him as well:

who the hell visits a single woman at such an hour? Is he that naïve or is he just playing careless? Why would he take such a casual approach to everything, did he think of me as a wall and not as a woman at all? What’s his deal? What does he want from me?

I was very disturbed and I made my feelings known to him.

“I am sorry for causing such confusion,” he said. “I really didn’t think it was such a big deal coming to your house at that hour.”

You didn’t think it was a big deal!? Like, how? I thought to myself.

But then I quickly remembered he was four years younger than me so obviously it was expected that he be a little immature in his approach to things. I let him off the hook.

But then he appeared late at my door for a second time…and a third time again, I think.

I got mad pissed!

“Do you think am not a woman!?” I snapped. “Why do you keep showing up at my door in the middle of the night and saying careless stuff to me and expect me to not question your motives?”

This was a guy I talked to about everything, well, almost everything and I thought we were great friends but I also thought visiting me late at night was crossing the boundaries but he didn’t seem to think it such a big deal…which of course didn’t mean I could understand. I could no longer understand his way of thinking.

In time I had grown to depend on him and when he kept randomly showing up at my door, I started fearing for my heart. Apart from the fact that he was younger than me, everything else about him was attractive.

Well, time went by and it became clear to the both of us that a certain boundary had already been crossed and we could no longer think of ourselves as just friends. For me that realization came in a melodramatic kind of way:

Sunday afternoon, the sky was dark and the land upon which my feet hit as I stepped out of my weekend Chinese class at the Confucius Institute at the University of Zambia was wet from the sobs of the heavenly skies.

It had been raining for the past three hours or so and it didn’t seem like it would stop raining any time soon.

My heart was pounding and I could barely make out the thoughts running amok in my head but my state had nothing to do with the fact that I had just sprinted to the car in my three inch white heels to keep from getting soaked in the rains. I had just spent the past two hours in class looking at my phone like a sixteen year old riding high on gonadotropin as I anxiously waited for class to be over so I could keep my appointment with Michael.

But I was no teenager. I was a twenty-eight year old fully-fledged woman going through emotions I thought had died inside me.

It was exciting. It was exhilarating!

For the first time after what felt like forever, I found myself awakening to emotions I thought were long dead and buried within me. I was excited, heart racing and smiling to myself as I drove in the direction away from home to see Michael. As I got closer to his place, I dialled his number and anxiously waited for him to pick up.

He did not pick up the call.

Suddenly, a strange wave of emotions went through my body and I hit the brakes. “I just saw him online a few minutes ago so why isn’t he picking up my call?” I wondered to myself.

Any other person, the normal thing to do would have been to call again because who knows, he might have left his phone for a few seconds to attend to something and missed my call. But this was me we are dealing with. For some reason, my mind had trained itself to think and expect the worst in all situations, even the ones that might obviously call for an optimistic outlook. What was wrong with me?

I was cold, wet and hungry after a sixteen hour fast so you can imagine the state of my mind. But still, my heart longed to see the one person that had made me feel like a woman after a very long time. His gentle attentive nature had somehow gotten to me and I got curious about him. He was a man I had not expected to set my sights on and even though I was not in any position to define the parameters of our ‘relationship,’ I knew that out of every other man I had encountered the past few months, he was the only one that peeked my interest.

And yet, because he had not answered my call, I turned the car around and drove straight home as if I was running away from an oncoming storm.

It took Michael a few more minutes to contact me because he naturally expected that I would call him back.

I didn’t.

“I’m sorry I missed your call Nisha, my phone was still on silent after church so I didn’t hear it ring.” Michael explained to me a few minutes later. But I was not interested in hearing his explanation.

During that short drive, like an epiphany, reality had hit me:

My heart might skip a beat or two over a man but my mind is not in any position to pursue anything with anybody.

“Hurt people hurt people.” I once heard someone say.

I realized in that moment that I was still struggling with a lot of thing mentally and because of the damaged nature of my heart, I had taken a simple incident of a missed phone call to mean totally something else!

I made a U-turn that evening not because I thought Michael was up to no good so he couldn’t attend to my call. I turned away because I realized that rather than giving Michael the benefit of a doubt the very first time my call couldn’t go through, negative thoughts had crossed my mind.

And I had liked the fact that he didn’t pick up my call!

It was like that long awaited bomb I had been waiting to see explode had finally gone off and a part of me couldn’t help celebrating my unfortunate victory.

I desperately wanted Michael to fail me so that I could walk away from our budding friendship like a boss and I embraced the first opportunity that presented itself.

He was not even my boyfriend so he owed me no loyalty. He was simply someone I was getting to know a little more than just a friend.

It was the thought of how quickly and welcoming my mind was to thinking negatively about someone that froze me to the core. Indeed, I had no business making an innocent guy pay the price for sins another man had committed against me. In that moment I realized; this is always going to be the case.

That missed phone call forced me to confront something I had been running away from ever since my divorce became final;

I had changed.

God might have given me the strength to go through possibly the hardest point of my life but that didn’t mean the fight was over. I still had a long way to go before healing took place.

You see, I had been so desperate to come to a state of complete healing that I thought putting my energies into a new man was what I needed to keep me from thinking about the man that had hurt me so bad.

But I was far from being healed completely. I still had a lot of dead skin to get rid of before I could even consider opening up my heart to someone.

I was no longer capable of looking at a man the same way as I did eight years ago. I had been robbed off of that innocent and trusting nature not so long ago and I was left to pick up the pieces all on my own.

Every man I encountered be they good looking or God-fearing, I was always quick to overlook their good points and I went searching deeper and deeper for that dark part of their lives they didn’t want the world to know about. And every time I discovered that dark part of them, I would jump in victory like Serene Williams at Wimbledon.

No matter how much I prayed or fasted, I still needed to confront my demons. It was not like the Holy Spirit was going to mysteriously erase them away. I had been damaged emotionally and I was not lucky enough to have amnesia.

I was naïve enough at some point to think that just because God had seen me through the divorce, life was not going to be very difficult after. However, no sooner had I opted to find comfort in that belief than I was awakened to the pain of transitioning into singleness after divorce.

The divorce is one process, and the transitioning is another whole process, and for some it lasts years and years!

I had reached a point in my life where I measured every man against he that had broken me. No one could ever earn my trust because I couldn’t risk giving it to anybody in the first place.

After taking that U-turn from Michael’s place, all I’ve done ever since is run away from anyone that tries to get close to me, including Michael himself.

Not because I think they’re not good enough, but because I am saving them from ‘the me that could hurt them from my injured state of being.’

It is not time yet for me.

But I am getting there.

And I am in no rush.

I know that I shouldn’t expect my heart to heal so quickly but that I should take deliberate steps to achieve that. I also know that jumping into a relationship won’t cure me of the hurt and loneliness I feel sometimes. However, just because I know the state of my heart and what I ought to do does not mean the work is done.

The issue is that a process has to take place; from identification of issues to dealing with issues…to understanding it won’t happen overnight…to accepting reality…and after some time, healing.

And before you bring it up, I already went through counselling, thank you very much. haha

A few days ago someone advised that I buy a book called ‘Changes that Heal’ and attend some of the meetings organised by my church and that’s on my agenda so hey, am gonna get there soon!

But if you think my life is more orderly now, boy do I have a lot more stories for you! The transitioning from Married to Divorced…and then to realising am single again has been quiet adventurous.

I am still a work in progress and this is only the beginning of my chronicles as a newly divorced woman.

Most importantly, there is a very important relationship I am trying to grow right now before I can grow emotionally with any man and that’s with a man that laid his life down for me so that my sins might be forgiven and I could get to live a brand new life, forever!

In some other news, I have decided to be very optimistic about life and my encounters with people from now on. Ernest Hemingway once said:

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

Very wise words.

I intend to use the baggage from my past as manure to nourish my brand new life so……….

Wish me the best!

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An Untimely Love – Part 11

“What is she doing here?” Anton mumbled more to himself than anyone else in the room.

“I think I can answer that.” Sam teasingly raised his hand, a smile on his face as he looked at a very disturbed Anton.

Alex moved away from the door and left the two men standing there. She grabbed the Tv remote from the table, plopped herself onto the couch and turned on the tele.

Turning to Alex, “I need to talk to Anton about something,” Sam said. “Will just take a bit,” and to Anton he said, “Let’s talk as we head down.” He pushed the door open before Anton could turn him down.

Anton remained standing where he was for a few seconds looking confused. “I’m gonna go,” he said to Alex whose gaze was fixed on whatever movie was showing on the screen. She didn’t bother turning to look at him.

“I will sort out this issue with Cathy completely and you and I will continue this conversation properly after. Alex?”

She finally looked at him. “I don’t think there’s any point An-“

Sam appeared back through the door. “Are you coming or not?”

“There’s still a lot you and I need to talk about.” Anton said sternly, completely ignoring Sam. “I’ll see you tomorrow on camp.”

Anton brushed passed Sam the moment he was done, taking long strides as he walked but only to suddenly stop, turn and confront Sam who was rushing to catch up with him from behind.

“Yoh.” Sam put his arms forward to wade off a confrontation thinking Anton was aiming for a fight. “Let’s use words man, no need for this-“

“What’s your deal?” Anton asked, his very tall frame towering over the pop star and moving in towards him a little too close for comfort.

“I could ask you the same question man,” Sam retorted. “What’s your deal, two girls at once? Don’t you have any shame?”

“I don’t have two women,” Anton said. “I already broke up with Cathy so-“

“Says who?” Cathy unceremoniously chipped in the moment she stepped out of the lift, her eyes a ball of fire as she approached the two gentlemen.

“Cathy, how did-“ Anton started to ask.

Cathy waved her hand to dismiss him. “The important question here is; what are you doing here?” She asked Anton.

A few doors on that floor opened in anger to check out the source of the commotion, faces and voices screaming; take it somewhere else!

“Oh my God it’s Sam! Mum!” A teenage girl screamed in excitement upon spotting Sam who in turn cussed under his breath for allowing himself to be discovered.

Sam quickly turned to Anton. “You and I will talk some other time.” He was already turning to rush back inside before the whole apartment came out. “The both of you better take this outside before it’s too late.” He said, pointing from Anton to Cathy.

“Is that her place?” Cathy asked and tried to push her way passed Anton but he blocked her way, arms stretched out.

Sam quickly opened the door, entered and locked it behind him. “That girl is crazy!” He said to Alex who was still seated in the couch looking absolutely unperturbed by the chaos taking place outside.

“What are you going to do if the paparazzi find out you’re here?” Alex asked the pop star.

Sam walked over to where she was and sat down next to her. “I think it’s already too late to worry about that now.”

Alex stared wide-eyed at him. “Did someone see you?”

“That girl was screaming at the top of her lungs, of course someone saw me.” He answered.

Alex was up on her feet, panic written all over her face. “You should leave before they get here.” She said.

Sam laughed. “Why should I leave?”

Alex raised her brows in puzzlement. “I live alone in this apartment. I don’t have to tell you what type of ridiculous articles will come out if my identity gets out.”

“They’ve already done their speculation on that. Haven’t you seen today’s tabloids?” Sam asked.

“What do you mean?” Alex asked. “Did they write something about us?”

Sam appeared amused by the shock on her face. “Alex, you were my date last night. Of course the tabloids have something to say about that regardless of what was said during interviews. So you haven’t read any paper or checked the net today?”

“No I haven’t.” She answered, silently thinking in retrospect how strange it was that she had not seen a single newspaper in sight at Oliver’s mansion. What could have been written that he didn’t want her to see?

Frantically, Alex reached for her phone and was about to type Sam’s name in the search engine when the trending stories showed up right at the top of the page. “Oh my God this can’t be happening.” She said as she scrolled down the page and discovered numerous pictures of her at last night’s event as well as not so flattering pictures of her from the past that had somehow made their way into the public sphere.

Sam took offense to her reaction and he was quick to voice it. “So this is how it feels to be out rightly rejected by a woman.” He said, a sombre expression on his face. “Is that how much you don’t like me? Wooow-” He hang his head low and ran his hand through his hair.

Sam’s words went straight to Alex’s heart and she couldn’t hide the instant regret. She had only been concerned about her fears concerning Oliver’s reaction and what it would mean for them if speculations about her and Sam spread that she forgot about what such a reaction might mean for the man that had come all the way to see her.

She slowly put her phone down and faced Sam, remorse written all over her face. “I’m very sorry,” she said.

“Those are the top three words I hate hearing from a woman I like.” Sam said.

“Why do you like me Sam?” Alex asked. “I mean, you are YOU! You are a celebrity, the hottest and most trending on the scene right now. Why would someone like you like me?”

Sam laughed. “What’s wrong with me liking you?”

Alex simply threw him a blank look.

“You’re a beautiful girl Alex!” Sam answered her ‘look.’ “You’re easy going, you’re real, funny, when am with you I feel like the rest of my world around me doesn’t matter, it’s just me and you. You are easy to get along with and you have no idea how hard it is for someone like me to feel like that with somebody. I don’t have one specific reason why I like you but all I know is that when am not with you, I want to be with you.”

Alex wasn’t sure what to say and she couldn’t understand why Sam’s words where making her feel restless. More than his words, it was the sincerity in his eyes that shook her already confused heart. Was it because he was an expert at writing and singing love songs that he was able to shake her up like that? She wondered. Only a few minutes ago Anton had said almost the same words but her heart had not been moved in the slightest.

There had been a time in Alex’s life when she would have given anything to hear Anton say that he liked her as more than a friend but she wasn’t sure when that desire had disappeared. Of the many things Anton had done to reject her feelings, the one that stood out the most was the day she discovered that Cathy had already informed him about their past and he had not bothered to talk to her about it. Anton could not have found a better way to let her know just how much she meant to him. Unlike Oliver who had stood by her all through that experience, Anton had been too quick to dismiss her pain.

But just what was she supposed to think about the things Sam was telling her?

Sam Daniels had appeared very suddenly in her life and before she could even wrap her head around the fact that she was on friendly terms with one of her idol crushes, here he was telling her he liked her as more than just a friend. Just what is a girl supposed to do when her love-life is in such a state of disarray?

Even though she was sure Oliver was what and who she wanted, Sam Daniel’s had a way of making her heart waver in ways she could not understand.

“Alex?” Sam’s voice forced her out of her riverie.

“I’m sorry Sam.” She said. “I think am still suffering from a hangover.” She lied. “I rarely drink so….”

Sam got up. “Get up,” He grabbed her hand and pulled her up from the couch.

“What are you doing?” Alex asked.

“We are going to some place where you can clear your head.” He said. “C’mon, let’s go.” He was now leading her towards the door.

“No, Sam-“ She tried to protest.

“I’m not asking you to come with me young lady, am taking you there whether you like it or not.” He said decisively.

Alex laughed. “Is this like that place you took me to the first day we met?” She was now willingly following him out of the apartment.

The moment Sam stepped his foot outside the door, camera’s flashed in his face from all angles. Before Alex could take in what was happening, Sam quickly pulled and aligned her back straight against his back so her face could not be captured.

“How did they get in?” Alex asked.

“They were already in.” A slightly bemused Sam said as he looked around the people taking shots of them. “These are not your regular paparazzi,” he chuckled. “They’re your neighbours.”

“What!?” Alex tried to look but Sam kept her face hidden.

“I’m gonna start counting,” He whispered to her. “But you need to cover your face with this first,” he carefully removed his leather jacket and handed it to her. “I am very sure that the kind that gets paid to do this kind of things are waiting hungrily outside.”

“Then let’s just go back in Sam.” Alex suggested.

“Not a chance.” Sam said. “You can’t ever allow these people to dictate how you live your life. C’mon, 1, 2, 3-“

The two of them ran passed the neighbours to the elevator but when it took long to open, Alex instead pulled Sam towards the stairs on the other side. “This way!” She shouted, unconsciously finding herself enjoying the experience. Despite growing up with a family that was constantly in the spotlight, Alex had never before had any reason to hide from the spotlight. She avoided it quite alright but there was never a time when she ran from it to avoid her picture being taken.

“This is fun!” Alex shouted as they approached the bunch of reporters stationed outside her apartment building.

Sam put his arm around her waist and together they fought their way to his vehicle. He let her in first before going round to the driver’s side of his yellow convertible Bentley. He sped off before the paparazzi could get into their vehicles and drive after them.

With Sam’s jacket over her head, Alex stood up from her seat.

“What the hell are you doing?” A very concerned Sam asked.

But Alex was not listening to him. She leaned against the back of her seat, raised her hands in the air and shouted “Huuuha” to the reporters chasing after them on foot. And then she sat back down. “Oh, that was so much fun! I wonder why I’ve never done this before.”

Sam laughed. “You’re crazy you know that.”

“My doctor seems to think so too.” She joked.

Sam laughed. “Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” He accelerated the moment the words fell out of his mouth.
***

Mrs Mathilda Russel was in the kitchen preparing dinner when her daughter Cathy stormed through the house sobbing. She went and dropped herself by her father’s feet in the living room. Benson Russel had been watching a game when he was rudely interrupted by his daughter but rather than dismiss her, he laid the remote control on the side and gave her his full attention.

“Why is my baby girl so upset?” He asked her, getting down from the sofa to sit next to her on the floor. He wrapped his arms around her as she continued crying.

Mathilda appeared through the door with a knife in one hand and a green pepper in other. “What’s wrong with my baby?” She rushed over to them.

The moment Cathy heard her mother’s voice, she removed herself from her father’s embrace and went into her mother’s arms, sobbing even louder.

“I’m going to go upstairs and leave the two of you to talk.” Benson knew when he was not needed.

After sobbing for three more minutes, Cathy finally calmed down and brought her mother up to date with the developments in her love life.

“Is that boy crazy?” Mathilda asked. “Why would he pick that girl over you? And you say she’s now with this Sam guy? What do these men see in her?”

“She hasn’t changed in the slightest from the manipulative brat she was years ago.” Cathy sulked. “She makes people pity her and they end up taking her side.”

“Do you want me to talk to Anton?” Mathilda asked.

Cathy almost jumped from the floor where she was still seated. “No mum!” She shouted. “What sort of person will that make me if I send my mother to sort out my issues with my boyfriend?”

“You said it yourself that he’s made it very clear that he doesn’t want to have anything to do with you anymore.” The mother of one said. “Maybe he needs an adult like me to remind him that whatever he feels for that little nitwit is nothing but pity. There’s no way it can be love. No sane man would pick another girl over my lovely daughter.”

“I just need to find a way to make him see the truth on his on-“ Cathy said thoughtfully.

Mathilda went quite as well as she made calculations in her head. “I think I have an idea!” She said, standing up from the floor, her eyes dancing about excitedly.

Cathy looked at her mother expectantly. “I trust my mother to take care of such things for me.” She laughed and added, “what are you planning mum?”

***

After Alex had left his place, Oliver decided to drown himself in work to keep from thinking about her and his son Anton. There were a lot of things he was capable of as a man but fighting his son over a woman was not one of them. Therefore, if his heart was not willing to support his resolve to keep from thinking of Alex as a woman, then he hoped his fatherly instincts would be enough to guide him in the right direction.

After five hours of working non-stop in his home studio, Oliver gave up working and went upstairs to his room. The first thing he did was turn on the TV before laying down but before he could even get to his bed, he heard Alex’s full names mentioned on the news and he froze in point to watch.

It appears the 29 year old singer has finally found his Muse if the smile on his face is anything to go by. The presenter was saying as a picture of Alex hiding behind Sam outside her apartment appeared on the screen.

However, we here at DN Network are wondering if Sam’s boss Oliver Cooper who happens to be the young lady’s guardian approves of his newly signed singer dating his daughter…if I can call her that. The presenter continued.

Oliver quickly turned off the TV and threw his back onto the bed, his eyes completely shut. no sooner had he shut his eyes than he realized that if he was to get any sleep that night, he needed something stronger to knock him out. And so he opened his eyes, got out of bed and walked downstairs to the kitchen. It was in the kitchen that Anton found him when he came.

“Why am I not surprised that you’re drinking?” Anton said when he came through the door. He grabbed himself a glass and joined his father at the table.

“What are you doing here?” Oliver asked.

Anton finished pouring himself a drink before answering. “What, am I not welcome here anymore?”

Oliver started to get up. “Am not in the mood for a fight with you tonight.” He said.

Anton touched his hand and looked up at him, a pleading expression on his face. “Dad, sit.” He said.

Oliver sat down after a moment’s hesitation. “I haven’t seen that look in your eyes in years.” He said. “What do you want?”

Anton laughed, amazed that he was still so obvious to his father. Was there anything the old man didn’t know about him?

“Sam,” Anton said. “Do something about that guy dad.”

“What do you mean I do something about him?” Oliver asked. “Is this about Alex?”

“I knew you saw the news.” Anton said. “See, I knew you weren’t really in-love with Alex otherwise you would be out there taking her away from that creep.”

Oliver said nothing in return.

“I know he’s famous and all but dad,” Anton continued. “I love that girl and that guy is stealing her from me.”

Oliver finally looked at his son. “Stealing her from you?” He asked.

“Yes,” Anton candidly answered. “He just came from nowhere and he’s confusing her, using his fame to woo her. If you don’t do something about him, I might end up really losing her.”

“How can you lose her when she was never yours?” Oliver asked him. “And why do you even think I would help you in any way?”

“I knew her before he even knew she existed!” Anton snapped. “And you’re gonna help me because your loyalty should be more to me than your employee. Alex always listens to you. If you tell her that he’s no good for her, she won’t give him the time of day. She trusts you very much.”

“So you want me to lie to her just so you can be with her?” Oliver asked bemusedly. “What makes you think that she might come to you if things between her and Sam don’t work out? Have you forgotten that you hurt her feelings and betrayed her not so long ago?” Oliver reminded his son.

“I can make that up to her dad,” Anton promised. “Unless of course there’s some other reason you wouldn’t want me with her….” He was closely examining his father’s face for a reaction.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Oliver asked and quickly downed the remaining whisky in his glass, lowering his gaze to avoid his son’s piercing and searching look.

“You seem so sure that Alex might not consider me even with Sam out of the picture, why’s that?”

Oliver put his glass down. “That’s not what I said.” He said. “Don’t put words in my mouth. I simply asked a question.”

“Do you really think that Alex is in-love with you like that?”Anton asked.

“Did you come all the way here to ask me such questions?” Oliver asked in a no-nonsense tone. “If you have nothing more to talk to me about, am going to bed.” He picked up his bottle of whisky and glass and stood up.

Anton too got up. “I really love her dad.” He said to his father’s retreating figure, forcing Oliver to come to a stop.

“I know that I’ve been ungrateful all my life and that I don’t deserve her.” Anton continued speaking to his father’s back. “You were right when you said that I am selfish, I admit it, I am a selfish bastard but dad, you’re my dad,” He’s voice was cracking in bits as he fought back his tears.

“…you are the only one I have and I am begging you right now to help me.” Anton continued. “I’m begging you, please.”

Hearing the vulnerability in his son’s voice was all Oliver needed to set his feelings straight. No matter how much Alex made his frozen heart come alive every now and then, it was nothing compared to what he stood to lose if he acted on those feelings. Indeed Anton had begged him for a lot of things in his life but never before had he heard such sincerity in his voice.

Suddenly, Oliver felt guilty for even entertaining the idea of Alex and him. Granted, he had not allowed himself to think about her ever since he became aware of her feelings for him but every now and then he had his moments of weakness.

“It’s late now.” Oliver could not bear turn and look at his son. Both guilt and shame forced him to keep looking ahead. “Get some rest and we’ll talk in the day.” and he quickly walked away from his son.

Anton wiped the tears from his eyes, the sight of his father’s hunched back as he walked away breaking him to the core. He knew he was being selfish in asking him such a favour but what was he supposed to do when he was the only person in the world that could help him win back the love of his life?

“I am sorry dad.” Anton said to himself as Oliver disappeared from sight.

“Me too son.” Oliver said to himself, having heard what his son had whispered. “Me too.” He repeated, his eyes burning red and teary as he raised the bottle to his mouth and gulped down its contents until nothing was left. He flung open the door to his bedroom, stepped inside, shut it behind him and turned, only to raise his hand in the air and flung the empty glass in his hand on the floor.

Anton who was still standing where his father had left him heard the sound of glass breaking and rather than go upstairs to check, he turned and slowly walked out of the house, his face heavy with emotion.

When two straight days passed and Alex had not heard from Oliver, she decided to follow him to the only place she knew he wouldn’t be able to get rid of her that easily; his place of work. Earlier that day she had called Morgan to find out Oliver’s schedule and the assistant had told her that he had been on location at the local Coliseum for two straight days shooting scenes for a documentary for his filming company.

The moment class was done, Alex hailed a cab and went straight to where Oliver was filming. She found Morgan in the lobby of the Coliseum heading out with some of the crew members she could recognize from the company.

“He’s out in the garden,” Morgan informed her after exchanging pleasantries. “Said he needed some fresh air. It’s been a rough day.”

“Why, what happened?” Alex asked.

“Some diva tried to go diva on the crew, boss didn’t take it lightly. He sent her packing and we had to find a replacement asap.” Morgan said.

“Is he alone?”

“Yeah, everyone’s already left but he’ll be spending his nights here till Friday.”

“Okay, thanks Morgan.” Alex said and followed the directions he had given her to the garden where Oliver was.

She spotted him from a distant. It wasn’t that he was wearing the sweater she had gotten him last Christmas that she could recognize him from afar but it was his back and the way he was standing, it was a familiar sight, one she could use to identify him even in her sleep.

When she got closer to him, she tip-toed towards him and covered his eyes with her hands from behind whispering, “guess who?”

Oliver grabbed both her hands and lifted them from his eyes. “I know it’s you Alex,” he said. “I first bought you that fragrance on your 13th birthday and you haven’t changed it since.”

“Dammit,” she said and moved to stand next to him. “You know too much about me Oliver. I don’t think I can ever hide from you.”

“There’s no place you would go where I wouldn’t find you. I know all your hiding places.”

“I also wouldn’t go anywhere I know you wouldn’t be able to find me.” Alex said.

Oliver turned to look at her. “What brings you here?” He asked.

Alex chuckled. “Aren’t you gonna ask how I knew you were here?”

“We both know where Morgan’s loyalty first lies.” Oliver said. “I should think about firing that guy tomorrow.”

Alex laughed. “You haven’t fired him because he’s good at his job. You are a very hard man to please Oliver, I know that all too well.”

“You still haven’t told me what you’re doing here.” He said. “Is this visit concerning your articles with Sam?”

“Ah, you saw those…I figured you did,” she added in a low tone. “Is that why you haven’t called to check up on me in the past two days?”

“I’ve been busy, as you can see.” He answered. “Besides, there’ve been times when the two of us haven’t spoken for weeks. What’s changed now? It’s only been two days.”

“What’s changed now is that you know how I feel about you so it would be nice if you didn’t deliberately forget about my existence.”

“Who said I forgot about your existence?” Oliver asked. You are the hottest trending topic right now so whether I like it or not I am made aware of your existence. How’s Sam doing?”

“Why are you asking me about Sam?” Alex asked. “You’re his boss, shouldn’t you know how your latest star is doing on a daily basis?”

“I think right now you’re the one that’s closer to him than I am. And besides, I haven’t seen him today since I haven’t been to the studio.”

“What do you mean closer to me?” Alex asked. “You of all people should know that you can’t believe stuff that appears in the papers. Sam and I are just friends.”

“Does he think the same thing too?”

Alex hesitated in her response.

“You see,” Oliver said. “You know very well that the tabloids have grounds for speculation, and if you weren’t interested in him like that, you wouldn’t be leading him on the way you’ve been doing.”

“Leading him on?” Alex looked shocked. “Why would you say that I’ve been leading him on?”

“Do you like him?”

“Of course I like him, you’ve always known that! He’s Sam Daniels for pete’s sake!”

“You know I don’t mean it like that. I mean, do you like him as a man? I’m sure he’s already made his feelings known, so what’s your response?”

Alex moved to stand in front of him. “Why are you curious about that?” She asked, closely searching his face. “Should I take this enquiry as you being jealous?” She was now smiling; flattered by the thought of Oliver expressing his feelings even if it was in such form.

“I just want you to think carefully before you choose who you wanna spend the rest of your life with.” Oliver said. “I had a chat with Anton and I know for a fact that he’s genuinely in-love with you. Yes he made a mistake but-”

“Wait,” Alex raised her hand to stop him from talking further. “Are you telling me that we are having this conversation because of Anton?”

“Not necessarily because of Anton,” Oliver said, careful not to offend her any further. “I am mostly concerned about your welfare. I know it can’t be an easy decision choosing between your best friend and an award winning pop star….”

Tears suddenly rolled down Alex’s cheeks, every word from Oliver’s lips sent pangs of pain through her heart. It was hard to hide the disappointment she was feeling.

“Alex-“ Oliver tried to place his hand on her shoulder upon seeing her tears but she shoved his hand away.

“Don’t!” She shouted.

“What did I say?” Oliver asked.

Alex glared at him from her tear-filled eyes. “What did you say?” She said. “Do you think my love troubles have anything to do with either Anton or Sam? Why are you pushing me to other men when you know very well how I feel about you? Don’t I mean anything to you?” She cried.

Oliver tried to put his hands on her shoulders again but she pushed him off again.

“Aren’t you the least bit jealous!?” She asked. “Even a tiny bit?”

“What do you want me to say Alex?” Oliver snapped. “I am trying my best here to do the right thing for you, and for Anton-“

“The right thing?” She asked. “What about your own feelings? Can’t you at least tell me how you feel?”

“My feelings are irrelevant at this point Lexy.”

“Not to me they aren’t!”

“Alex-“

“Just forget it,” Alex said resignedly. “What was I even thinking coming here?” She turned and started walking away.

“Alex wait!” Oliver ran after her but Alex refused to stop. Instead, she started running, one hand holding on to her bag and the other wiping away her tears.

Oliver managed to catch up to her before she could reach the back wall of the building. He grabbed her by her shoulders and forced her to turn around and face him.

“Alex!” He shouted over her sobs.

“If you are that desperate to get me out of your life then I’ll leave.” Alex said in between sobs. “I will leave this place and you will never hear from me again. Is that what you want?”

“Don’t be absurd,” Oliver said. “You are not going to do something that stupid. You are a rational girl and soon you will see that-“

“I don’t wanna listen to this anymore,” she tried to remove his hold on her shoulders but his grip was too firm for her. “Let me go Oliver.” She cried in desperation.

“I don’t want you to leave like this.” He said.

“Then what do you want me to do?” she asked.

“Do you think that if I could get you to do what I wanted you to do that we would be having this conversation?” Oliver asked.

Alex appeared confused, not sure how to interpret his words.

“At my age I don’t get to do what I want.” Oliver explained. “I have to do the right thing and in this case the right thing is not to find myself in a situation where I have to fight my own son over a woman…and this is no ordinary woman, it’s you Alex.”

“What are you trying to tell me?” Alex lifted her head to look up at him, her eyes fixed on his eyes. “Am I hearing you right?”

Oliver sighed heavily, one hand moving to rub his eyes in distress. “I am begging you Alex, help me, help me so that I don’t have to choose between you or Anton, please.” His voice was almost a whisper, his desperation echoing from every part of his body.

In that moment Alex didn’t need to hear Oliver say the words she was dying to hear. He had already said them to her the best way he could and somehow managed to turn the tables and bring the ball back into her court.

Suddenly gripped by the cruel reality of her love, Alex could no longer contain the pain, and down she fell to the ground sobbing uncontrollably.

Oliver had anticipated her getting broken over the reality surrounding their love but watching her break right in front of him made him question every decision he had ever made in his life. Why would something that felt so right in his heart bring so much pain?

Getting down on his knees, Oliver reached for her and wrapped his arms around her as she cried her heart out.

After a few minutes of comforting her on the paved ground, Oliver was helping Alex to her feet when he heard the click of a camera first and then saw a flash across his face. He looked up ahead and locked eyes with a plump middle-aged man with a camera in hand.

“Dammit!” Oliver cussed out loud.

“What’s wrong?” Alex was now on her feet but Oliver’s hands where still on her waist. This time around she heard the camera click and turned in the direction Oliver was looking and got a glimpse of a man running away.

“God dammit!” Oliver repeated, his hands dropping from her waist and rolling into fist balls.

“Do you think he heard our conversation?” Alex asked.

“I’ll be dammed if he didn’t record the whole thing!” Oliver said. “I’ll get Morgan on it.” He took out his phone from his pocket and speed-dialled his PA.

“DC, Coliseum, flash lights ASAP.” Oliver informed his PA. DC was short for Damage Control used between the Business mogul used with his Personal Assistant Morgan, something that mostly came into activation after one of Anton’s escapades except this time around, he was the one that needed rescuing from potential bad publicity.

An Untimely Love – Part 10

When Alex opened her eyes the next morning, she found Oliver sitting beside her like a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

“Oliver….” She tried to sit up but ringing head had her clutching the sides in pain. The Hangover effects were fully activated.

“Are you going to keep calling me that?” Oliver asked whilst helping her sit properly as she continued wincing in pain. “Here,” he handed her some aspirin first that were ready in hand and then a glass of water from the bedside table. “For the hangover,” he added.

Alex gulped down the meds and handed him back the glass of water. “Thanks,” she said. “And yes, I will keep calling you Oliver and not Mr C from now on…until you get used to it and stop looking at me like a child.”

Oliver got up. “I don’t know if it makes me a bad person but, I was desperately wishing you  would wake up with amnesia this morning.”

Alex laughed. “It never happens when you need it to.” She said. “I know that better than anyone.”

“Freshen up and come downstairs for lunch. The table is already set. I’ll be waiting-“

“Wait,” Alex stopped him. “Lunch not breakfast?”

“Look over there,” Oliver pointed to the wall clock in front of them.

Alex gasped when she saw the time. “Is that really the time!?” She started searching for her phone to confirm.

“It’s over there,” Oliver pointed to the bedside table on her right. “It kept ringing and ringing until it went off so I thought I should charge it for you-“

“Who was calling?” Alex picked it up and turned it on.

“Who else,” Oliver said with a grim expression on his face. “Sam called about eight times before he finally called me and Anton called a couple of times.”

“Sam called you?” Her eyes were about to burst out of their sockets. “What did he say?”

“Are you that excited to hear from him?” Oliver asked.

No it’s not that!” Alex answered a little too quickly. “I am just wondering why he would call you….”

“He knows you’re at my house.”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Good.” He turned to leave.

“But why didn’t you answer my phone when you knew who it was and why he was calling?” Alex asked as she waited for the phone to fully come on.

“I didn’t think it was proper for me to answer your phone that early in the morning.” He answered.

A smile of satisfaction crept at the corners of Alex’s face. “You know that’s not something a father would worry about right?”

“Here we go again.” Oliver said. “Get up and come downstairs.” And he left the room quickly.

“I’m gonna make you fall for me till you can’t help it Mr.” Alex said to herself after Oliver and got out of bed.

The moment her phone came on, a call came through from Sam.

“Finally!” Sam exclaimed the moment she answered. “Are you okay? I’ve been trying to-“

“I just woke up Sam.” Alex said. “I’m okay, just a terrible hangover. I don’t drink that much…I don’t know what happened last night.”

“Can I see you today?” He asked.

“Aaah, today?” She asked.

“Yes, is that okay?”

“Ah…yes, sure. Of course it’s okay.” A million question where running through Alex’s mind as she answered. She couldn’t help wondering why Sam sounded desperate to see her or why he was so worried about her welfare. At first she took his care and concern as a celebrity paying fan service to a fan he liked and when he asked her out to the red carpeted event, she thought it was just him trying to batter himself up to the ‘almost’ daughter of his boss in order to be in good books with him.

However, there was something in the tone of his voice that gave Alex pause.

Could it be…no, it can’t be. That’s impossible. She quickly brushed off the ridiculous thoughts. Why would he? Why would a multi-award winning pop star be interested in her like that? He was surrounded by thousands and thousands of beautiful women every day and she had seen his starring ladies in his music videos, she was not anything close to them.

“Alex, are you there?” Sam’s voice jolted her back to reality.

Alex blinked profusely. “Yes, am here…sorry about that. What did you just say?”

“I was asking where I will find you?” Sam said. “I called Mr Cooper earlier and he said you where still at his place. Will you be there the whole day?”

“No, no, I’ll be going back to my apartment soon. You can come there. I’ll send you my address.” For some reason, she did not want Oliver knowing about Sam’s visit. That would only give him enough reason to push her away.

“Okay, cool. I’ll wait.” Sam said. “See you soon Alex.”

“See you.” She said and quickly cut the line.
On the other side of town, Anton was forced out of bed by thunderous and earth shuttering banging on his door. He could tell who was on the other side of it without asking because he had switched off his phone trying to ignore her calls.

he slowly dragged himself down the stairs.

“Why is your phone off!?” Cathy hissed the moment the door was opened for her. She flew right past him in a huff.

“I was trying to get some rest.” A half-awake Anton answered as he slowly walked back to his bed.

“Where are you going?” Cathy asked.

“I’m going back to bed.” He answered without stopping.

“Are you kidding me?”

“hm,” Anton answered half-heartedly, not even sure what exactly he was saying. He just didn’t want to bother opening his mouth any further lest he lost his sleep.

“It’s 3pm now, haven’t you slept enough?” Cathy was behind him.

Anton threw himself back into bed and pulled a cover on top of himself.

“What’s this supposed to mean?” Cathy continued backing from the side of the side. “I came all the way here to see you and this is what I get?”

No response came from Anton.

“Tony!?” Cathy yelled and pulled the cover off of him.

Anton came awake in frustration. Why would he even think he would get some sleep with her in the room? “I appreciate you coming all the way to see me but please Cathy, let me get some sleep, please.”

“How can you sleep so soundingly after sending me such a text message?” Cathy asked. “How do you expect me to act after I receive a message like that from my boyfriend?”

“I only said we need to talk.” Anton said. “What’s wrong with that?”

Cathy scoffed. “Are you being for real?” She asked. “Don’t you understand the meaning of those words? You can’t send me a message like that at 3 in the morning and expect me not to worry. That’s unfair. I couldn’t get any sleep from the moment I received that text. What’s worse is you even switched off your phone after sending it. What is it you want us to talk about that you couldn’t wait till morning to send a text?”

“Do you really want us to talk about this now?” Anton rubbed sleep from his eyes. He was now fully awake. Reality had come banging on his door and now he had to answer the call. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

“You should have thought about that before sending me that kind of text at 3.” Cathy sulked.

“Okay,” Anton said as he got out of bed. “Can I at least take a shower first?”

“No,” Cathy said. “I will die from a heart attack waiting for you to finish. Just tell me what is it you want us to talk about so we can get it out of the way.”

“Then let’s go into the living room.” Anton started moving in that direction but Cathy dropped herself onto the bed in protest.

“No, we will talk right here.” She said determinedly. “Since when do we move to the living room to chat?”

“Fine.” Anton said and turned. “Let’s break up.” He blurted the words out.

Cathy broke out in cachinnation, holding on to her stomach as she tried to bring her breath under control.

“What’s so funny?” Anton asked.

“You are funny!” She said, her face suddenly grim and straight. “I knew you were a son of a bitch when we started dating but this right here is bitcheology on another level. What did you just say to me? Break up?” She laughed again.

“You are the one who wanted to talk about this but it’s very clear you’re not ready.” He turned and walked out of the bedroom, taking the stairs down but Cathy was right behind him.

“It’s never going to happen!” She shouted from behind him.

“It’s happening!” Anton shouted back without stopping.

“You think you can just end things just because you feel like it?” Cathy asked as she rushed after him. Anton surprised her by suddenly coming to a stop and turning to look at her. She bumped right into his chest.

“Ouch!” She screamed, rubbing her forehead with her hand.

“I am sorry for doing this to you but that’s just how it is.” Anton said scathingly.

“Is this because of that girl Alex?” Cathy asked whilst rubbing her forehead.

Anton didn’t respond.

“It is her.” Cathy stated conclusively. “What did I tell you about that girl? And you said what, she is just a friend?”

“Yes she was just a friend…that was the truth then because I didn’t know my feelings for her where deep. I only realized recently-“

“Please save me the drama Tony.” Cathy spat. “No man has ever dumped me before and I won’t accept to be dumped by you. It just won’t happen. You and I are still dating until I decide it’s over. You hear me Anton Cooper?” And she violently brushed passed him.

“I will have your stuff delivered to your parent’s tomorrow!” Anton called after her but Cathy did not stop and neither did she respond.

The moment Cathy was out the door, Anton ran back upstairs and called Alex. She answered after the third ring.

“Tony?” She said.

“Lexy where are you?” He asked.

“At the mansion.” She answered.

“Are you planning on staying there the whole day?”

“No.” It was the second time she was being asked that question that day.

“Okay, am coming to pick you up. Wait for me there.”

“Tony, no.” She quickly said before he could cut the line, her eyes on Oliver who was sitting on the other end of the table.

“What, did my dad offer to take you?” Anton asked. “You can just tell him that am coming. I’m sure he had better things to do than to be dropping off my best friend. You’re my responsibility, not his.”

“Tony, are you okay?” Alex asked. “Where’s all this coming from? Your dad isn’t taking me home, Baron the driver is.”

“Oh, okay, that’s cool. I’ll see you at your place then. Send me your coordinates.”

She was about to turn him down when her eyes instinctively settled on Oliver again. he was not even trying to hide the fact that he was listening to the conversation. Alex was in a momentary state of confusion; if she told Anton not to come, she would have to explain why…and she didn’t want Oliver knowing who she would be meeting later on. And if she said yes, Oliver might get other ideas.

“I have plans Anton.” Alex finally managed. “I have ah…my research, remember? Can I see you tomorrow instead?”

“No, it can’t wait Lexy. It will just be for a bit, won’t take long I promise. Send me the location.” He cut the line before she could protest.

“Anton!” Alex checked her phone and sighed in disappointment. “What’s wrong with him?” She said to the phone, and looking up at Oliver she added; “He’s acting weird. I bet he had a fight with his girlfriend and wants to us use me to vent. He’ll never change that one.”

“Just see him,” Oliver said. “He might surprise you.”

“Do you know something I don’t?”

“What time is Sam coming over?”

“At 4.”

“I see.” Oliver said.

It was only when she saw his reaction to her response that she realised the blunder she had just committed. He had tricked her.

“That’s not cool Oliver!” Alex said.

Oliver laughed. “I would say the same thing about lying.”

“Touché.” Alex said and got up from the table.

Oliver stood up as well. “So you and Sam,” he started.

“We are just friends!” She quipped. “Just a cool celeb hanging out with a fan.” She didn’t understand why her heart was beating so fast all of a sudden. She was desperately searching for what to say. The last thing she needed was giving Oliver licence to shove her straight into the arms of another man.

“Like you and me?” Oliver asked.

“Yes, no!” Alex fumbled.

Oliver laughed.

“I am in-love with you as a man, not as a celebrity or anything,” Alex explained. “And I like Sam, only as a celebrity. Of course he’s a cool gentleman but I don’t like-like him like that.”

“Perhaps you should.” Oliver said as he helped her carry some dishes to the sink. “I think he really likes you.”

“That’s impossible!” She said. “He doesn’t even know me that well.”

“Isn’t that why he’s trying to get to know you better now?” Oliver asked. “Give him a chance.”

“I knew you would do this.” She said.

“Do what?”

“Push me off to another guy.” She placed the plates into the sink and stood on the side to give him space to put his down.

“Alex,” Oliver said as he laid the plates in the sink.

“I don’t want to hear it.” Alex closed her ears. “Whatever you think is going to happen isn’t going to happen. I’m not going to change my mind and fall for some young stud or whatever. I’m gonna keep bothering you until you come to terms with the fact that I am a woman just like the ones you look at out there. I’m leaving now.” She walked over to the kitchen table, grabbed her bag and stormed out of the kitchen.

“Dear Lord.” Oliver said to himself, his hand placed over his forehead as he sighed like a helpless defeated man.

 
A surprise awaited Alex when Baron dropped her off outside her apartment. She  found Anton waiting for her outside her apartment building, something she had not expected to happen considering she had forgotten to send him her address.

“How-“ She started to ask as she got out of the vehicle.

“I had a feeling you might not want to see me so I asked Cassey to give me your address.” He approached her by the car and took her bag from her.

Alex walked over to the driver’s side and Baron closed the door he had just opened ready to get the door for her but she had steped out before he could even set his foot outside the car. He rolled down the window instead.

“Miss Saunders.” The sixty-five year old said expectantly.

“Thank you Baron for bringing me home. Drive back safely.” Alex said.
“Thank you Miss.” Baron said, a smile on his face.

“Are you going to pretend that you didn’t see me Baron?” Oliver appeared next to Alex.

“Of course not Mr Anton.” The grey-haired man answered. “How are you?”

“I’m great old man.” Anton chirpily answered. “Pass my love to the old lady. Tell her that I terribly miss her pudding.”

The three of them laughed.They were all well-aware of Mrs Baron’s great skills in the kitchen. she always prepared something for the Cooper’s during the Christmas holidays.

“She will love hearing that that old fox!” Baron said. “Take care of yourselves you two.”

“Thanks Baron,” Alex said. “Take care too.”

Baron rolled up the window and drove off.

“What is so urgent that you had to see me right away?” Alex asked as she led the way into her apartment building.

“Can’t a guy visit his best friend whenever he likes?” Anton asked.

“Not you,” Alex said. “Well, at least not the new Anton you’ve become. I’m guessing that there’s trouble in paradise right?”

“You could say that.” Anton admitted.

Alex stopped walking and turned to look at him. “What did you do?”

Anton laughed. “Why do you assume am the one who did something?”

“Ah, because I know you.”

“Let’s get to your place first, I’ll explain.”

They took the lift and stopped on the forth floor. Alex’s apartment was the third on the left. She unlocked the door, stepped aside to let him through and followed him right behind.

“Wow,” Anton said as he did a quick take of the house from where he was standing. “It’s as exactly as I imagined it would be; beautiful and neat.”

There was a blue two seater couch and a yellow one well placed in her tiny living room and everything was well decorated and coordinated it gave the room an air of expensive taste.

Alex went straight to sit down on the blue couch. “Sit,” She offered Anton the other sofa.

“Aren’t you even going to offer me anything to drink?” Anton complained before he sat down.

“I told you I have work to do so I don’t want you to get all comfortable here. What’s up?”

he looked disappointed. he knew she might not be excited to see him but he realized too soon that knowing something and experiencing it where two different things. He was not used to being brushed off so quickly and easily by Alex. Was that how much their relationship had strained over the past weeks?

What have I done to us Alex? Anton asked himself as he looked at her.

“You sound cold, and dismissive.” He complained

“No I don’t.” Alex said.

“You do.” He insisted. “And I don’t blame you. I’ve been such a jerk over the past weeks. I don’t blame you for hating me the way you do.”

“I don’t hate you Tony.”

“Your mouth is saying something but your eyes are telling me something else. We might have drifted apart Lexy but I still know you.”

Alex sat up, one leg crossed over the other. “What do you want me to say Tony?” She asked him. “Or what did you expect; that we would still be cool after everything that’s happened? You turned your back on me when I needed you the most and you trusted a stranger over me. You didn’t even give me the benefit of a doubt. How do you think that made me feel?”

“I know, I know!” He ferociously brushed his hand through his hair. “That’s why am here, to apologise.”

“Why today of all days?” Alex asked.

Anton looked puzzled. “What do you mean why today?”

“I know you,” she said. “Something must have happened for you to think about coming to see me and apologize. Did you guys have a fight?”

“I broke up with her earlier today.” He blurted out.

“You did what?”

“I broke up with her,” he repeated. “We just couldn’t work out. I realized a little too late that I was not in-love with her….and that I…ah…you know, that I was… in-love, with someone else.”

“Dear Lord Tony, already!?” Alex shouted. “Who is the stupid girl this time? Gosh, I thought you finally matured…even if it was with someone like Cathy but c’mon, another girl? So soon? Who the hell is she?”

“It’s you.” Anton muttered.

“You? Who’s you? Is she, ooooh….” Her mouth was hanging open as realization sunk in.

“See….” Anton stated, his eyes fixed on her. “It’s not just some silly random girl.”

“Is this because you saw me with someone last night?” Alex asked once she recovered from the shock. “I know you’ve always hated the guys I’ve crushed on since we were young but c’mon Tony, we are not kids anymore.”

Anton got up from where he was and went to kneel in front of her. Alex flinched when she thought he was going to touch her but Anton rested his hand on the sofa, very close to her.

Looking her in the eyes he asked; “Why is it so hard for you to believe that I am in-love with you?”

“Wait, you’re serious?” She asked. She knew that look in his eyes very well.

“Of course am serious.” He said.

Alex suddenly stood up, almost sending Anton to the ground if not for the fact he used his hands to keep steady.

With her back turned to him, Anton first heard her chuckling, and then the chuckles slowly turned to laughter.

“You’re laughing?” Anton asked as he lifted himself up.

Alex stopped laughing after a few seconds and turned to face him. “You’re in-love with me?” She asked, pressing her finger over her chest.

Anton took a few steps towards her but she stretched out her hand. “Stop right there.” She said. “Don’t come any closer. Let’s talk from here and there.” She pointed to where he had stopped, about three more steps left between them. “Why do you think you’re in-love with me?”

“Why?” Anton asked, confused by the question.

“Yes why.” She answered. “You said you never considered me a woman, that I would always be your best buddy. You were even disgusted by the idea of us together! And now you are telling me that…that…look, I can’t even say the words.”

Anton tried to close the distance between them again but Alex’s hand quickly went up again. She didn’t want him coming closer to her. Not now. She didn’t want to see the sincerity in his eyes because it might shake her resolve. How many times had she longed to hear those words from his mouth and they never came? Why was life testing her in such a cruel manner? A father and his son…why was her life so complicated? It was like a twisted plot from a sick and perverted writer with a lot of time on his hands. How could this be real?

Or perhaps…. She looked up him, eyes wide open.

“Did your father ask you to do this?” Alex asked Anton.

“My father?” He asked. “What has my father got to do with this?”

She was about to say out loud the crazy thoughts running through her mind when she stopped herself. She had not yet told Anton about her feelings for Oliver. And this isn’t the right time to bring that up, she concluded.

“Nothing,” she lied, having surmised from the surprise look he had on his face that Oliver had nothing to do with his sudden confession. “I just thought that maybe…because I told him some stuff some time back that he still thought I still had feelings for you.”

“You told my dad you liked me?” Anton asked, both hope and trepidation glowing from his eyes.

“It was a long time ago Tony and things have changed since.” She said.

“You mean change as in…you being in-love with him?” Anton asked.

Alex’s jaw dropped to the floor. “What do you mean him?” She could barely hear her own voice from over the sound of her heart beating fast and loudly.

“I mean my dad.” Anton answered. “Why didn’t you tell me that-“

“How? Who told you-“ there were tears in her eyes as she started to ask the question. What if her fears were true? What if Oliver had told Anton about her feelings to get him to force her out of what he thought were delusions?

“Relax,” Anton said, reading the fear from all over her face. “I didn’t hear it from dad, not directly pe se…I just happened to overhear your conversation with him last night.”

“Wait,” Alex said. “Is that why you’re here telling me this?”

“What do you mean and why are you looking at me like that?”

“Do you think that telling me that you have feelings for me will change the way I feel for Oliver?”

“Are you serious about this?” Anton could not handle the seriousness on her face and in her tone of voice. “You’re even calling him by his first name. When did all this happen? He’s my father for Pete’s sake Alex! He has also been like a father to you.”

“I know that!” Alex cried, a part of her was embarrassed and ashamed to stand there and tell her best friend that she was in-love with his father. How did she expect him to handle such a thing when she herself could barely come to terms with it?

“If you know that then you know what you should do.” Anton said. “Forget about him and start looking at me again. And I am not saying this for some twisted reason you might think. I happen to genuinely love you, with or without my dad in the picture.”

“I am sorry Tony.” Alex cried. “I didn’t mean for this to happen…it just happened. I know it doesn’t make sense but I really love your dad.”

“He’s fifty Alex!” Anton yelled.

“He’s forty-“

“I don’t care he’s still old and you might think you love him but you don’t. What you feel for him is just gratitude because he’s always been there for you. Think about it Lexy, please.”

“There’s nothing to think about Tony. I am in-love with him and it’s not gonna change.”

“Do you have any idea the type of scandal that will blow over when something like this gets out?”

“Scandals are always there whether we do something crazy or not.” Alex said.

“Okay,” Anton said. “Let’s say that you do actually love my dad, do you think that he would let anything happen between you two…especially that he knows my feelings for you?”

Alex turned hurt eyes at him. “You told him?” She asked.

“I had to.” He admitted. “I couldn’t just keep quite after listening to you two talk. I’m not gonna lose you to him or anyone else out there Alex. I know I don’t deserve you but am begging you to give me a chance. We can even pretend that this whole thing with my father didn’t happen.

“We can start all over again, you and me, forever. I don’t know why it took this long but I really can’t see myself with any other woman but you. I love you Alex.” He was standing right in front of her now. “Just think about it, please.”

Alex was slowly shaking her head. “I’m sorry T-“

There was a knock on the door. They both turned towards the door.

“Are you expecting anyone?” Anton asked.

“No, I mean, yes.” She looked at the wall clock ahead. “How did he get into the building?” She asked as she went to answer the door.

“Who is it?” Anton asked from behind her.

“Not sure, but I think it’s-“ She opened the door and there on the other side Sam stood, a huge smile on his face which quickly faded when he saw Anton appear behind Alex.

“You?” Anton said in disappointment. “What is he doing here?” He asked Alex.

“What sort of question is that?” Alex said as she pushed him aside to leave room for Sam to pass. “Come in,” she said.

Sam entered. “I thought the two of you don’t live together anymore.” He had not taken his eyes off of Anton from the moment his eyes set on him but he lowered his gaze slightly to look at Alex as he awaited her response.

“No we don’t-“ Alex had started to answer.

“I don’t think it’s any of your business who she lives with.” Anton retorted.

Sam turned his attention back to Anton, a clear disdainful look on his face when he said; “Shouldn’t you be out there with your girlfriend? She looked like she could sure use some help getting into the building. She’s acting like a mad-“

“What do you mean help getting into the building?” Alex asked.

Anton appeared at a loss for words.

“I left her fighting with the intercom downstairs.” Sam candidly informed them.

Alex turned to Anton, an accusing look on her face. “Cathy’s here?”

“Cathy is here.” Sam excitedly answered on his behalf.

Kondwani’s Debt of Love – Part 17

Where is mum?” Kondwani asked Chilufya when she entered his office.

“I got bored waiting for them to finish examining her so I thought I pop in for a chat.” She said. “Which department does Alicia intern?”

“And why would you want to know that?” Kondwani asked.

“I’m just curious as to what kind of person she is.” His sister answered.

“Says the girl who stalked her for years.”

“Stalking is a strong word,” Chilufya argued. “Try keeping tabs?”

Kondwani raised a brow. “Isn’t that even worse?”

Chilufya laughed. “Anyway,” she brushed him off. “I never actually spoke to her, so….”

“And it should remain like that,” Kondwani stated. “Till I find a solution to the mess…if that’s even possible.” And after a few seconds he added, “Who am I kidding? She is the only one that’s going to end up hurt the most from all this.”

“Don’t forget mum too.” Chilufya said. “Remember she actually has no idea that a person died that night.”

“Watch yourself Chilu.” Kondwani’s gaze instinctively went to the door. “Haven’t you learnt anything from this morning?”

“My bad.” She said. “But don’t you think you are better off telling her now, and I mean Alicia. Don’t you think you’re better off telling her the truth now before it’s too late? What if she somehow gets to hear it from someone else?”

“Someone else?” Kondwani asked. “Which someone else? We are the only ones who know about the connection and if we keep it that way then…anyway, weren’t you the one against me telling her the truth not so long ago? What’s changed your mind all of a sudden?”

Chilufya stood up and went to stand by the window behind Kondwani. “Mum’s reaction this morning reminded me of just how real this thing is. It’s scary bro.”

“Was there ever a time it wasn’t?” Kondwani had turned his chair around to face her.

Chilufya leaned her back against the wall and with her arms folded across her chest she turned to face her brother. “You know what I mean.” She said with a heavy heart. “I’m just thinking…maybe it’s better to get all this out of the way so you can give Alicia time to deal with the reality and heal.”

“I can’t do that.” Kondwani said tightly. “She and I have only started dating so how can I risk losing her in such a short time?”

“Wani-“

Kondwani waved his hand in the air to keep her from talking further. He already knew that whatever she was going to say was going to make sense but he just wasn’t ready to deal with sense. It was too soon.

“I can’t lose her sis.” Kondwani said. “It’s just unfair. I know am being extremely selfish but I would rather die in this moment than risk her hating me forever.”

“And you think that will change if she discovers the truth later on…after you’ve been together for months, or even years?”

“At least then I would have been given a chance to love her and to receive her love. I’m a bastard I know…and she already knows that about me.”

“Don’t you think-“

“Chilu!” Kondwani yelled.

“I know you don’t want to hear this but hear me out.” Chilufya said. “You are my brother, I love you and I want what’s best for you.”

“Alicia is what’s best for me so don’t ask me to lose her even before I’ve managed to win her.” He said.

“You might lose her for a while but believe me, if you do things right, I know that if she loves you as much as you say she does, she will come back to you no matter what society or those around her say.

“Bear in mind, she will not take too kindly to being deceived from the onset. The more time passes, the more she will fall in-love with you and the deeper the pain she will feel from the betrayal. That would be like killing her twice in a row.”

Kondwani forcefully and suddenly leaped to his feet. “Do you think I haven’t thought about all of that dear sister?” He asked her. “I have done nothing but think about that from the day I set eyes on her and frankly, am tired. I am sick and tired of worrying and worrying.

“Am I not allowed to have some happiness?” Kondwani asked. “I have done nothing but live for others ever since I can remember. This is the only chance I get to have something that I really really like…something that makes me happy.”

“What if that happiness is short-lived, huh?”

“I don’t care!” Kondwani snapped. “God, please, just let me enjoy this moment. I don’t want to think about anything. I don’t care what’s wrong or right or who hurt who and who died. I just want to enjoy spending time with my woman like normal people do.”

“If you think you can’t handle losing her now, wait until you see her run through your fingers after she’s already become yours and settled in your heart.” Chilufya warned her brother.

“Shouldn’t you be checking on mum now?” Kondwani was done battling sense. The only reason he was upset was because Chilufya was right. Everything his baby sister had said was the truth and unfortunately, the truth didn’t seem to be on his side either way he looked at his life. Succumbing to reason would mean losing the one woman that meant everything to him and ignoring reason also meant losing her anyway. So why should he care which way to go when hell awaited him on both ends? How about enjoying the short journey to eternal damnation while at it? Why should he give fate the privilege of running his life however it saw fit?

He was just a little boy when the weight of his family was placed on his shoulders. Did he have a choice in the matter of becoming a breadwinner at such a young age while his peers lived their youth to the fullest? No, fate had decided that for him. Was it also his fault that his single mother was working overtime, tired and inexperienced behind the wheel of some rich madam’s car running an errand she had no business running in the first place when the accident happened?

He was just a young man working hard and on the verge of becoming something his family would be proud of. It was his duty to protect and care for his family where his father had failed. Even God had turned his back on his mother whose faith still seemed unshaken despite the odds against her. He had to be God, a son, and a brother to his mother and younger siblings, all at once. When was he ever going to get a break? If God truly cared for his family that much, where was he when his mother got into that accident?

A frail woman, cold and alone on a dark street, why couldn’t the God she put all her faith and hope in protect her then? Why had he allowed that accident to happen knowing very well how much his mother was already suffering as a woman abandoned by her own husband and left with four children to take care of? It was already hard enough to get a single meal in a day back then, did his family honestly need any more testing if indeed it was his mother’s faith God was trying to test? What sort of God kicks someone that’s already down and dirty, struggling to even take in fresh air that was freely given to everyone else? Why did his mother have to suffer so much despite her unchanging faith?

Indeed, Kondwani had vowed never to have anything to do with such a God. As far as he was concerned, Christianity was for the weak-hearted that desperately needed something to cling to because the real world had forsaken them. a false idea of hope when all else failed. He had not said a single prayer since the day Nicolas died and he was doing better than most of the people he knew to be staunch Christians.

But if there really is a God, Kondwani thought as he closed the door after Chilufya. Don’t let me lose Alicia, please.

 

“I have been dying to meet you young lady, you have no idea!” Claudia Chileshe excitedly said as she held Alicia by the hands.

Alicia was not sure how to react towards her boyfriend’s mother considering that she was at work and the woman was acting very casual with her…like they had been pals for a very long time. She was at a complete loss for words.

“I’m sorry, am I making you uncomfortable?” Claudia asked.

“Uhm-“

“Forgive me!” The mother of four was almost screaming the words out. “I didn’t even introduce myself. My name’s Claudia. I am Ko…um, Dr Chileshe’s mother.”

Alicia smiled nervously. “I recognized you from the pictures in his office. It’s very nice to meet you.” Alicia added timidly.

Claudia appeared amused by her confused state. “Relax my daughter.” Claudia reassured her. “I’m not here to cause any trouble…although I know my son will kill me when he hears that I called you out like this. Promise you won’t tell him we met ah?”

The confusion on Alicia’s face grew even deeper. She wasn’t quite sure how to respond to her potential mother-in-law’s request and so all she ended up saying was; “Aaaarh….”

Claudia laughed. “Now am convinced my son’s taste in women has tremendously improved. I like you Alicia. What is your last name?”

“Daka,” Alicia provided. “My name is Alicia Daka.”

“Easterner, not bad.” Kondwani’s mother said. “Give me your number.”

“Huh?”

Completely oblivious to the befuddled look on Alicia’s face, Claudia took out her phone from her handbag and placed it in Alicia’s hand. “Save it for me.”

“Am I not going to get in trouble for this with Dr Chileshe?” Alicia asked, holding the phone away from her as if afraid she might suffer radiation effects from the handset.

“You might get in trouble if he finds us standing here.” Claudia said as she quickly scanned the area around them from behind the pillow where they were standing, partially hidden from everyone else.

Alicia quickly typed in her phone number, saved her name and handed the phone back to Claudia.

“Good girl.” Claudia said enthusiastically. “Now you better rush back to work before anyone notices you are missing. Go!” She had put her hands on Alicia’s shoulders from the back and was urging her towards the elevator on the other side of the lobby.

Alicia had taken a few steps away when she heard the woman say; “I really like you Alicia Daka. Be good to my son.”

Chilufya was coming from the opposite direction after a round of searching for her mother when she heard her voice. She followed the direction of the voice and her eyes first landed on Alicia who was looking like she had just seen a ghost before they settled on her mother, standing a few feet away with a huge smile on her face as she waved at Alicia’s retreating figure.

For some reason, Chilufya could not let herself be seen by Alicia so she quickly moved to stand behind a cardboard poster. The moment Alicia disappeared through the elevator, she came out of hiding and ran after her mother.

“What was that about mum?” Where the first words she uttered before reaching where Claudia was studying, going through the number Alicia had just saved under her name. Chilufya peeped through and saw the number.

“I can’t believe this.” She said. “Do you have any idea what Kondwani will do when he finds out what you just did? Wait a minute, how did you even find out about her?”

Claudia was smiling smugly at her daughter. “Did you kids think you could keep something like this from me?” She said.

“What did you say to her that made her look like she had just seen a ghost?” Chilufya asked.

“She’s such a shy and reserved girl.” Claudia said. “But I could see some spunk in her. No wonder Wani fell for her. She is the type men want to marry right away.”

“Mum!” Chilufya yelled.

Claudia jolted as if suddenly and rudely awakened from deep sleep. “You scared me, why are you yelling at me?”

“I thought we agreed that you wouldn’t do anything until Kondwani told you everything about her.”

“You spoke, I listened. There was no agreement there.”

“You are impossible mum.” Chilufya said resignedly. “Aren’t you going to tell me what you spoke about?”

“I only introduced myself and got her number.” Mrs Chileshe said. “I like the look in that girl’s eyes. And she’s very pretty.”

“You only like her because you desperately want grandchildren. That’s all. Anyway, what did the doctor say?”

“I’m fine.” Claudia said. “It was just a mild concussion. I’ll live. Take me to Wani’s office.”

“You better pray that she hasn’t already told him what you just did.” Chilufya chuckled as she led the way.

***

Stephen was about to leave his room to head to the library when he heard a knock on the door. Before he could move to answer it, the door swung open and in walked Mwansa. He had to consciously tell himself not to laugh out loud from his accurate prediction of Febby’s inability to keep secret what had transpired the previous day. The girl was incapable of keeping anything to herself. For his own sake, Stephen hoped that Damian pleased his girlfriend well otherwise he stood to receive a huge blow to his ego if things ever went sour between them.

“Morning Mwansa.” Stephen made a play at civility.

Mwansa looked like she had spent the whole night crying, her eyes were blazing red and puffy, a tissue in hand to obviously nurse her running nose.

“So I was right.” Mwansa fired away. “I knew something had changed from the time the two of you ran into each other.”

Stephen sighed heavily. Here we go again. He said to himself. “I need to go to the lib right now. Don’t you have class?” He looked at his wrist watch as he waited for her response.

To his surprise, Mwansa peeped through the other side of the room that was partitioned for someone else’s use and when she saw that they were alone, she cleared her throat and asked; “Are you fucking her?”

Stephen starred at her in stupefaction. “Why would you say such a thing? And since when do you use such foul language?”

Mwansa scoffed. “Why are you acting surprised when you knew this is how I was when you met me? I only changed because I thought that’s what you wanted but this is who I am and these are the sort of words I use. Fuck, and shit.” She deliberately stressed each word and asked, “What?” as a smug and condensating expression appeared on her face.

“Am I making you uncomfortable Steve? Is this why you dumped me, because am not as holy as Belinda? All you church boys pretend to be holy but you all want bitches in bed. Isn’t that why you asked me out?”

Stephen laid his backpack down and sat down on the bed. “I can sense that you are still very angry-“

“Angry!?” Mwansa yelled. “Angry? Is that what you think this is? How dare you flinch when you hear me curse but you are okay with dating a girl who had an abortion? Do you see any sense in that? And you say am angry? Angry isn’t the word you should be using. I’m disgusted!”

“You have no proof that she had an abortion so don’t go round spreading false stories about her.” Stephen said sternly.

“Oh, look at him defending her?” Mwansa said sarcastically. “If you think that am just going to leave the two of you alone after what you’ve done to me then you must really not know me. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that the two of you don’t get your happily ever after.”

Stephen stood up. “Mwansa-“ He tried to reason with her but she had no time to listen to his excuses, she turned, opened the door and stormed out.

Stephen put his hands on his waist and sighed heavily again. He grabbed his bag from the bed and left the room.
“So I hear you and the good doctor are an item now?”

Alicia knew that it was just about time for her and Samuel Kayombo to have that conversation. “I see you’ve heard.” She said as she handed him a canned coke. They were standing by the balcony at the paediatrics department on the second floor. To get to that balcony, they had to pass through Dr Mwanza’s office, the head of pediatrics’s and Kayombo happened to be very good friends with him. Now that the paeditrician was on leave, Kayombo had exclusive access to the balcony.

Alicia had seen him standing there from outside trying to get some fresh-air in-between shifts. However, she also understood that Kayombo felt safer there because the place was secluded and away from Kondwani and everyone else. It was the only place he could rest without incurring the wrath of everyone at the hospital that looked at him as a traitor. In just a short time, Kayombo had moved from being Mr Nice Guy to the Worst Employee of the century. Even people that weren’t fans of Dr Chileshe somehow managed to see the evil in what Kayombo had done and sympathise with the brush and ruthless Director.

“Isn’t that why you followed me all the way here?” Kayombo asked, fully turning around to face her. “And thanks.” He held out the coke to her, opened it and took a sip from it.

“My shift just ended so….” she deliberately left the sentence hanging.

“So you want to kill some time whilst waiting for your man right?” Kayombo finished for her.

“That’s unfair Sam.” Alicia said. “You and I haven’t talked in a while-“

“Because you’ve been avoiding me.” He cut her off.

“No I haven’t!” She said.

“You have.” Kayombo insisted. “Look, why are we even having this conversation? What is it you want to talk to me about? I know you wouldn’t have come looking for me if you didn’t have anything to talk to me about…and I am guessing it’s got something to do with Chileshe.”

“You’re right,” Alicia admitted. “I thought I owed you an explanation for the phone call that night…the one Kon, I mean, the Dr Chileshe answered.

“You mean the one where he referred to you as his woman?” He said in a tight tone.

“I’m sorry about that.” Alicia apologized. “A lot happened that day and somehow I…I…I ended up at his place.”

“You don’t need to apologize to me.” Kayombo stated icily. “You already told me you’re in-love with the guy, he’s single now so…I understand.”

“Then why do you sound so cold?” Alicia asked. “You are treating me with so much hostility. Our paths crossed earlier today but you never even bothered to say hi to me. You completely ignored me Sam.”

“I’m sorry, that was very immature of me.” Kayombo said. “This whole thing between you and Kondwani happened so fast and I felt so stupid….”

“Why would you feel stupid?” Alicia asked.

Kayombo gave her a blank stare. “Are you seriously asking me that question?”

“I’m sorry,” she said timidly. “Looks like I keep saying the wrong things to you.”

“You know that’s not the point right now.” Kayombo said. “You know how I feel about you. I just wish you had given me enough-“

“Wait, what?” Alicia raised her hand to make him pause. “What do you mean how you feel about me? I thought that was already in the past. Aren’t you with Gwen now? You guys are having a baby Kayombo. What feelings are you talking about here?”

Kayombo scoffed. “Just because I am expecting a child with someone doesn’t mean I want to spend the rest of my life with that person.” He said.

“You’re kidding me right?” Alicia said.

“No,” Kayombo stated matter-of-factly. “I wouldn’t joke about something like this.”

“I thought you were in-love with Gwen.” She said. “Isnt that the reason you kept seeing her despite knowing she was engaged to someone else?”

“I sense some judgement in your tone.” Kayombo said. “Is this you punishing me on behalf on your boyfriend?”

“That’s not it and you know it.” Alicia said. “I am just disappointed to hear you say the things you’re saying, I think it’s very unfair-“

“Unfair to whom?”

“To Gwen mostly.” Alicia answered. “She chose you over Kondwani because she believes she would always have your loyalty whereas she was never guaranteed that from him.”

“No,” Samuel argued. “Gwen picked me because of her own selfish reasons. It was never because she loved me and like you said, she would rather have a loyal man worshipping her than be with someone whose heart and attention she knows she will never have. All those years I thought I was in-love with her but it was just some stupid obsession…and a matter of pride I guess.

“A huge part of me hated Kondwani because she was crazy about him which meant I didn’t stand a chance with her but, another part of me felt somewhat fulfilled knowing I could still have her…physically despite her being his woman.” Kayombo continued. “I know it doesn’t make sense and I know it makes me a total jerk but that’s the truth.”

A few seconds went by without Alicia saying anything. It was clear from her facial expression that she was still trying to process what she had just heard.

“Are you trying to tell me that you are no longer in-love with Gwen?” She finally asked.

“Exactly.” He said.

“Is it possible for someone to fall out of love that easily?” Alicia asked.

“Who said it was easy?” He asked her. “I still love her but not as much as I did. You have to know that when love isn’t reciprocated for a very long time, it tends to burn out. Rather than love, right now I feel more obligated to Gwen than anything else.”

“Or maybe it’s just you being a typical man?” Alicia asked.

“What do you mean?” Kayombo asked.

“You loved the girl when she belonged to someone else but now that she is available, somehow she’s lost all that attraction that seemed to make her glow before.”

Kayombo laughed. “It’s not like that.” He said. “And it was never like that. I didn’t stop loving her just because she was available. You have to remember that I loved her even before Dr Chileshe came into the picture. The mistake I made obviously was not letting go of her after that. I thought I had a point to prove and from that point on it stopped being love.

“It was merely an obsession” he continued. “And also, a twisted idea of revenge, you know. I would look at the guy in the morning after sleeping with his girl, he would be looking all smug and confident like he always does and I would be there thinking…oh you have no idea what I did to your woman in the night. Somehow, I thought that would make my injured pride heal…but it was never the case.”

“But Kondwani knew about two of you isn’t it?” Alicia asked.

Kayombo laughed. “Imagine that.” He said, running his hand through his head in what appeared to be shame or embarrassment. “I mean, what sort of man knows about his fiancé’s indiscretions but acts like it’s not a big deal? That made me feel even worse, sick to say the least. I found myself asking; who really is the fool in all of this? But of course it was already too late when I found out the answer; I realized I was in-love with you and Gwen was pregnant with my child.”

For about three minutes or so, silence filled the air as each disappeared into their thoughts.

“So what are you going to do now?” Alicia later asked Kayombo.

“Right now am responsible for Gwen.” He answered. “I can’t leave Gwen’s side but, that doesn’t mean that am giving up on you.”

“Sam-“

“No, hear me out,” Kayombo put his hand over Alicia’s shoulder. “I understand you’re in-love with that guy and I respect that. But Alicia, you don’t know that guy well. You only met him a few months ago but I have known him longer than that. You have no idea-“

Alicia dropped her head in resignation and sighed loudly. “Sam,” she said as she lifted her head up to look at him. “I am truly grateful that you like me but-“

Kayombo put his other hand on her other shoulder. “Alicia,” He said in a very slow calm voice. “I am not playing the role of some jealous guy when I tell you to be careful of that guy. Don’t misunderstand me. You’re a very intelligent woman Licia, can’t you tell that that guy is keeping something from you?”

Alicia glared at him. “What do you mean keeping something from me?”

“Did he ever tell you why he kept following you around everywhere you went when you just joined the hospital?” Kayombo asked.

“Of course he did.” Alicia said.

“Huh?”

“Yeah, he told me why he followed me around. He does that with everyone that joins the hospital. You know him, he gets a little paranoid when it comes to protecting this place.”

Kayombo dropped his hands from her shoulders and stepped back from her, disappointed that the one thing he thought he could use against Kondwani could not work. “Anyway, I think I’ve already said too much,” He said, raising his arms in the air. “All am saying is that you should really ask Chileshe to tell you the real truth, which he obviously didn’t.”

“What do you mean the truth?” Alicia asked as Kondwani’s words rang loudly in her head:

What if I said that there is something am keeping from you…and that it’s something I can’t talk to you about because am scared of losing you…what would you do Alicia?

That was the question Kondwani had asked her. She could still feel the coldness running though her veins as she processed the meaning of those words upon hearing them. She had looked him in the eye and she had seen the sincerity and desperation that lay behind them.

“What is going on?” Alicia asked, not realizing she had said the words out loud.

“You should ask your boyfriend that.” Kayombo said.

“Ask me what?”

Alicia and Kayombo turned to find Kondwani standing there, his eyes ice cold and shooting daggers at Kayombo. Like a man desperate to mark his territory, he moved to stand beside a visibly disturbed Alicia and put his arm around her waist.

“You were saying?” Kondwani asked Kayombo smugly, daring him to say something to his face.

“I’m gonna leave the two of you here to talk,” Kayombo said and started backing away. “I have an errand to run before my shift resumes….”

“Yeah, I thought so.” Kondwani said and watched with a triumphant look on his face as Kayombo walked away. Once Kayombo disappeared through the door, Kondwani turned to Alicia; “What was that-“ He paused upon seeing the look on Alicia’s face. “What did I do?”

“How did you know I was here?” A very suspicious Alicia asked Kondwani, her gaze fixed squarely and unflinchingly on him.

“Alicia, what’s wrong?” Kondwani asked, her demeanour suddenly freaking him out.

“I asked how you knew to find me here?” She said.

“I heard,” Kondwani said. “But am wondering why you have that look in your eyes…like I did something wrong. What did that fool tell you?”

For a few seconds Alicia looked at Kondwani’s face searchingly, as if a look in his eyes would give her answers to the questions running wild in her head. However, Kondwani’s puzzled expression made her drop her head and drown her face in the palm of her hands.

“Babe,” Kondwani leaned towards her and got her to stand up straight. “What’s going on?” He made her fully face him but Alicia kept her gaze down. “Alicia? Why won’t you look at me?” he placed a hand under her chin and lifted her head up. “My God you’re crying! Alicia-“

“I just want to know what’s going on?” Alicia sobbed.

“What’s going on?” Kondwani asked. “Baby, talk to me.” He took her into her arms and waited for her to stop crying. “Can you tell me what’s going on?” Kondwani asked her once she had calmed down.

“I just want to know what’s going on?” Alicia finally said. “Like, what are you keeping from me?”

“What am I keeping from you?” Kondwani asked. “Is that what Kayombo told you, that am keeping something from you?”

“Not just Kayombo, you told me!” Alicia said. “I saw it in your eyes. My gosh, I saw it but I…I…I thought that I was just being paranoid, that if I just push it to the back of my head that it would eventually go away. But now…now am scared. What is so bad that you can’t talk to me about? What Kondwani?”

Kondwani sighed heavily. “My gosh Licia, so you spoke with the guy who knocked up my ex-fiancé for like what, five minutes and he has somehow managed to convince you that am the devil? Is that how little you trust me my love?”

“It’s not that Kondwani,” Alicia said. “I just can’t shake this feeling that there’s something going on that am not aware of and that it’s gonna hurt me. For some reason am so scared it’s freaking me out. Samuel asked me if I knew that you had been following me around and when I told him yes he said I should ask you to tell me the truth. What truth is he talking about?”

“Samuel told you that?” Kondwani asked.

Alicia nodded.

“Why would he tell you something like that?” Kondwani snapped. “I understand that guy’s inferiority complex when it comes to me but this, this is way over the line. I’m going to have a chat with him. I won’t have him interfere in this relationship too. This needs to end, now.” Kondwani said and quickly ran after Kayombo.

“Kondwani!” Alicia tried to run after him but by the time it took her to pass through the paediatrician’s office to the passageway, Kondwani had already disappeared.

Alicia stopped a woman that looked like a parent to a patient coming from the other direction. “Excuse me Ma’am,” she said to the smiling woman. “Did you see a tall light-skinned doctor in a blue shirt pass anywhere here?”

“You mean the good looking one?” The woman who appeared to be in the mid-forties asked, her smile never leaving her face.

“Yes.” Alicia answered. “Which direction did he go?”

“That way,” the woman pointed behind her.

“Thank you ma’am!” Alicia said and ran off. She was about to take a turn leading up the stairs at the end of the passageway when something she spotted in passing through the window made her take a few steps back and look outside. From where she was standing, she had a clear view of the leading doctor’s special designated parking lot.

Alicia saw Kondwani grab Kayombo by the collar and drag him inside the parking lot where he pushed him against a pillar, obviously to keep the confrontation from prying eyes lest anyone was watching them.

To quickly get to that parking lot, Alicia would need a special access card that only lead doctors in the hospital had and since she was just a nursing intern, access to that parking lot was the least of her concerns. She ran back where she had come from, got onto the elevator and appeared seconds later in the lobby. She ran to the reception desk and almost collapsed on top of it as she leaned in to ask a favour from the receptionist.

“Ah, you have no idea how happy I am to see you here Lisa.” Alicia panted the words out.

“Alicia,” the twenty-four year old reception was looking at her with great concern. “Is everything okay?” Of the four receptionists that served at the front desk, Lisa was the only one Alicia was close to.

“No, everything is not okay.” Alicia said. “I need a favour Lisa, please.”

“What do you need?”

“Access to the specialists’ car park, Kon…I mean, Dr Chileshe is there and I desperately need to talk to him before he leaves.”

“You know I can’t give you access Alicia.” The twenty-four old said. “Not even first year residents are allowed there what more you? Have you tried calling him?”

“His phone is off.” Alicia lied. “You don’t understand, something happened and…and, he is talking with Dr Kayombo and-“

“Oh my,” Lisa gasped, shaking her head slowly. “That can’t be good.” It was common knowledge what had happened between the two doctors and Gwen and it was also not a secret that Doctor Kayombo liked Alicia too.

Lisa opened a drawer and took out a pass. “You have to tell your boyfriend to talk to my supervisor because I will lose my job Alicia.” She pointed to the surveillance camera right on top of them.

“I promise Lisa, thanks!” Alicia said and ran off.
“It’s only a matter of time before she catches the connection and starts digging, and it will not be by my doing.” Alicia heard Kayombo tell Kondwani.

She was about ready to make her presence known when something told her not to interrupt them, curiosity getting the better of her.

“It is clear that you know nothing about what happened and your jealousy is driving you to come up with wild speculations.” Kondwani fired back. “You wanted Gwen and now you have her. What more do you want?”

“I think you forget that I am closely related to this case just like you and Nicolas’ family. He was my best friend.” Kayombo said.

Kondwani scoffed. “So is that why you’re in-love with your late bestfriend’s woman? Is that what they call loyalty nowadays?”

“At least I am better than a man who might have something to do with his death daring to love that man’s woman.”

Alicia wheezed and had to bring her hand over her mouth to keep from being discovered.

It appeared Kayombo’s words hit a cord in Kondwani because he started searching the place around them with his eyes. “Watch yourself Kayombo.” Kondwani roared. “Accusations like that can get you in trouble. You might have gotten away with nailing my ex but I won’t let you get away with interfering in my relationship with Alicia.”

“How long do you think you can hide the truth from her?” Kayombo asked.

“I have told you already, that accident has nothing to do with me!”

“Maybe not you, but what about your mother?” Kayombo asked. “You see, I got very curious when I saw you loitering around Alicia and for the first time I could see fear and desperation in your eyes. I asked myself; what is a guy like that doing hiding in the shadows and following an intern around like that?

“It couldn’t be that you liked her and you were obsessively stalking her, no. You are the kind of man who can have any woman he desires without struggle. You don’t even have to put any effort, they always fall right at your feet…even Alicia was no exception. So why did you do that?”

“Because Alicia is different, it’s that simple.” Kondwani said.

“I did some further digging and I discovered the connection between your family and Nicolas’. You really made things easy when you hired some fancy lawyer to get her back her child. Back then I don’t even think you were aware of your feelings for her so it didn’t make sense why you would go all out to do that for her.

“So I looked around and thanks to very talkative domestic workers, I discovered that your lovely mother was working for the family that owned the vehicle that had was involved in that accident with Nicolas.”

Alicia’s eyeballs where about ready to fall from their sockets.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about but-“

There was a smirk on Kayombo’s face and he watched the flustered look on Kondwani. It was clear he had hit a nerve and if he just kept hitting, he was sure to get to the root of it all. He didn’t have all the information he could use to pin Kondwani to the wall but he could from the fear in his eyes that there was something there worth digging.

“But I think you do,” Kayombo stated. “We are both medical professionals, you know very well what happens to our bodies when we are flustered or telling a lie. The question is; what’s making you nervous Doctor Chileshe?”

“I have no more time to waste with you.” Kondwani turned to leave but was forced to stop by what Kayombo said next;

“Nick’s mother received a huge sum of money from the Mulakos, your mother’s former boss. Right after that accident, your mother was fired, question is, why?”

Kondwani quickly turned and went for Kayombo’s neck. “You can say whatever you want about me but keep my mother out of this! You hear me!” He thundered down Kayombo’s face.

Seeing Kondwani’s reaction after everything she had just heard, Alicia could barely breathe from trying to stifle her cries and contain the shock. Her mind was going wild that when the pressure became too overwhelming for her, she forgot to breath and down she went.

Kondwani and Kayombo both heard the thud from her fall at the same time and turned in her direction.

“Holy shit!” Kondwani cussed and pushed Kayombo to the side before running after Alicia who had fallen just a few feet away from them.

“Dear Lord, what did I just do?” Asked Kayombo who was down on the ground from Kondwani’s push.

“Alicia!” Kondwani’s thunderous voice echoed through the entire parking lot, every step he took towards her echoing the end of life as he knew it.