It was 2 in the morning when Andy Mwila got into bed after the night out with the boys.
He had hoped that drowning himself in two bottles of wine would inevitably drown down the two recurring thoughts on his mind: the first being Shadreck and the second, which he deliberately kept conjuring up was that of the strange girl he had met outside the Anthena.
Andy hoped that thinking about the girl that had blown him off would drive out thoughts of the love-hate relationship he had with Shadreck that seemed to haunt him forever. Just what would it take for the two of them to get over their rivalry?
It had been over ten years now since Martha stopped working for his mother yet somehow, Andy couldn’t help feeling like Shadreck still resented him for the unfortunate situation that had risen as a result of their parent’s working relationship.
Andy had wanted nothing but to be accepted by Shadreck and his siblings as a brother. He might not have been related to them by blood but their mother Martha was the only mother he had ever known. Why was it so hard for them to accept him as one of them?
At least Veronica isn’t so bad, Andy mused to himself, getting up from the bed and walking to his special bedroom refrigerator that contained nothing but alcohol. He took a bottle of Castle Lite and went back into bed.
After taking a long sip from the bottle, he laid the bottle down on the bedside table, grabbed his phone from the other side of the bed and called Veronica. He had saved her name as Baby Sis. She answered right after the second ring.
The Pluto heir had to remove his phone from his ear to avoid her piercing scream.
“Child, do you want to make me deaf?” Andy said. “Are you ever going to grow up?” He said laughing.
“When are you going to accept the fact that I am no longer a kid?” Veronica sulked.
“Oh yeah, you turned 26 in February right? My gosh, you’ve really grown lil sis.”
“I’m not your sister Andy. I don’t want to be your sister.”
“Ouch, not you too Roni,” he put his hand over his heart.
“I am not like my brother,” she said. “You know exactly what I mean. I like making all the girls that are head over heels in-love with you jealous. What do you think will happen if they hear you calling me sis?”
Andy laughed. “You’re so evil lil sis-”
He removed the phone from his ear again and only put it back after a few seconds. “Stop screaming in my ear. I’m gonna stop calling you.”
“Ok, ok, I’ve stopped. I promise,” Veronica said. “Did you meet my brother?”
“What, he told you?” Andy was silently thinking about how unlike Shadreck to mention him to anyone, especially his little sister. Shadreck liked to pretend Andy did not exist at all.
“You actually did?” She laughed. “I just put two and two together. The only reason why you would be calling me at this hour is my brother,” she said. “I saw some pics posted by a buddy of his on IG. The whole crew was hanging out at Anthena.
“I know that’s your spot. I also know you came in today from Canada so I did think about the two of you bumping into each other. And then this call happened and confirmed everything.”
“Smart ass,” Andy said. “What are you even doing still up at this ungodly hour?”
“Just came in. Was attending a friends birthday party at Poisedon.”
“Do people really go to that Anthena-wanna-be club? I thought it would be out of business by now.”
“Are you really going to dance around the real reason you called Andy?”
Andy sighed heavily and took another sip from his bottle. “He still hates me sis. Nothing has changed despite the time that has passed. Will he ever forgive me?”
“Forgive you for what?” Veronica asked. “It’s not like you ever did anything to him. If he should be mad at someone, it’s mum. You were also just a kid. What were you supposed to do, ask mum to go back home and take care of her children instead of getting paid to take care of you?”
“Maybe I should have done that,” he said. “Maybe he’s right, it was selfish of me to latch on to mum…your mum as if she was my mother. I was too consumed with wanting to be loved by a mother that I sometimes guilted mum into taking care of me instead of going home to you guys.
“It took me a while to admit that but now I can,” he continued. “I really love you guys like you are my family but it hurts to know that you do not feel the same. It’s like am being rejected all over again.”
“Rejected?” Veronica asked. As far as she knew, her brother was the only person walking the face of the earth that was capable of and did actually reject Andy time and time again.
“My mother,” Andy said simply.
“Oh.” She had forgotten for a second.
“Nothing more to say ah?”
“I think the reason why Shadreck dislikes you is because you remind him of him. You know how he hates confronting his weaknesses. He wants everyone to see him as a strong independent man that doesn’t need anybody. You and him are exactly the same.”
“I like him, a lot… because I know exactly how he feels. That’s why I would never hate him.”
“The two of you just need to sit down and talk it out like adults. I love both of you so I will never take sides.”
Andy put his beer down and sat up straight. “You should take his side, please. For my sake. I think it hurts him more when you treat us the same.”
“The love I have for you and the love I have for him are two very different things,” Veronica said.
Andy took a few seconds to let her words sink in, deep. “I know,” he said.
“You know?” Veronica asked, sounding a little taken aback.
“He is your biological brother, I am not. He is even more than just a brother to you. He practically raised you and Beverley when cousin Emily got married. I am just the needy and pathetic little boy that your mother took pity on and raised like her own son.
“She literally raised me instead of raising her own children. I am the reason she couldn’t be present on your birthdays. Why you had no parent present at PTA meetings. Why you…especially you…I am the reason why you had no mother to put you to bed, sing you songs or tell you bedtime stories.”
Andy stopped. He could hear her crying on the other end of the line.
“Roni…I am really sorry,” he said, tears rolling down his eyes.
Veronica laughed, quickly wiping away her tears. “Why are you saying sorry?” She said, her voice still coarse from crying. “Don’t you know that you’re the reason why my siblings and I had food on the table? You are the reason why we finally could eat three or four…sometimes even five meals a day.
“Thanks to our mother taking care of you and your home, we were able to live in a better house. You know very well how we were before you came into our lives…when our father died. We had nothing. We lost everything. No house, no food, no clothes, no school. We had nothing. So there is no need for you to apologize. If anyone has to apologize, it’s our mothers.
“Your mother chose to work so she could give you the privileged life that you led. You have no idea how much we dreamt of living your life.”
“Yet all I ever wished for was to be your mother’s son,” Andy said.
“If you were, you would be no different from Shadreck,” Veronica said. “You would not be an heir and you still would be resentful of a mother that dedicated most of her time to her job than to you and your siblings.
“Our mother, the one you adore so much is no different in our eyes from the mother you despise so much. The only difference is that yours is a millionaire and ours isn’t.”
All the years that Andy had known Martha, he had never put her in the same bracket as his mother. To him, the two women were very different. Martha had to work because she had to provide for her family. His mother Teresa had no reason to work. She had enough money to last her three life times. In the end, she still chose her work over him.
However, after listening to Veronica, Andy had no choice but to see things for what they really were. She was right, at the end of the day, both women chose work over family, regardless of the reasons that led them there.
“He is never going to forgive me is he?” Andy asked after making some mental calculations in his head, finally seeing things from Shadreck’s point of view.
“He doesn’t hate you Andy,” she reassured him. “If anything, he hates himself more for resenting you.”
“Anyway, enough about my sob stories,” he said, giving up on ever complaining about Shadreck’s treatment of him. “How’s Bev? Has she delivered yet?”
“Still has two more months to go,” she replied. “You should give her a call. I’m sure she’s heard you’re back in town. Your news always travels fast.”
“I’ll call her tomorrow,” he said. “You are the only person I can call at such an ungodly hour.”
“Because you always bully me.”
He laughed. “You let me bully you,” he said. “I know others wouldn’t even dare breathe in front of you.”
It was her turn to laugh.
“Glad you know that,” she said.
“Anyway, I have to let you get some rest now,” he said. “Thank you for listening to me whine and cry like a baby. You’re the only woman that knows my very embarrassing secrets. I must really seem pathetic to you.” He poked fun at his own vulnerability.
“Finally he sees me as a woman,” Veronica remarked sarcastically. “I am happy to be the only woman that knows this side of you. I will always be the only woman.”
“And what if I get married? Young lady, are you trying to jinx me?”
“Since when does the word marriage come out of your mouth?” Veronica looked and sounded very surprised.
The Andy she knew would not willingly say the word marriage with his own mouth. He hated the idea of monogamy. In fact, he called it a conspiracy by women to lawfully trap men and make them miserable for the rest of their lives.
“Wait a minute, did you meet some blonde bimbo in Canada?” Veronica asked, holding her breath for the bomb drop.
“No, of course Not!” Andy said. “I was not engineered to romance a white woman. I don’t want to end up in years of therapy trying to undo the emotional damage from such a relationship. Those women are too deep in their feelings.”
Veronica heaved a sigh of relief. “That’s because you know they can’t tolerate your bullshit like us black women do. You can’t handle being handled, that’s why you avoid them.” She said.
“I think I met my future ex-girlfriend today…no,” he checked the wrist watch he had put on the table before getting into bed to confirm the time. “Last night,” he said. “A strange looking girl way younger than I but still…she managed to imprint her little self onto my heart.”
Veronica found the idea of any woman getting into Andy’s heart amusing. Besides, the girl didn’t sound like the type that would hold Andy’s attention longer than a week. She had met and heard about her kind a lot and none of them made it beyond a week.
They all tried to get to Andy by pretending to be different from everyone else but all that went out the window once they thought they had all his attention. She had seen them come and go. This one too would be no different.
Once he was done with her, maybe she would finally make her feelings for him known. She had only eyes for Andy ever since she could remember, literally. He was the only boy whose attention she craved when she was a kid and in her older years he was the only man she wanted to have.
Veronica believed that she was doing herself and Andy a favor by allowing him to play around with every female that wanted him. Once she summed up the courage to let him know about her feelings for him, he would have no reason to entertain all such girls. He would have had enough of them and be more than excited to settle down with a woman he loved and trusted. Someone he had known all her life and someone he knew beyond reasonable doubt loved him for who he really was and not his money.
Before he could let sleep engulf him, Andy went on Luke’s Facebook friends list to search for a face that looked like the one he had met outside the lounge earlier. He couldn’t stand waiting for the morning to ask Luke who she was. He did not want to be disrespectful by calling the married man at that hour.
“Girl with the fierce brown eyes, where are you?” Andy asked himself as he scrolled down the list.
Shadreck Mtonga couldn’t help laughing at himself. Stretched out on his back on the bed, his hands placed under his head on the pillow, he could hear the clock on the wall tick-tock away into the morning.
He was still very much wide awake.
He could still hear her carefree laugh as it filled up his car.
Who is she? Shadreck wondered.
He had driven through that neighbourhood a year or so ago but there had not been any mansion on that location. There had just been a bush that dainted the value of the posh neighbourhood. How in hell did a three story mansion end up there in such a short time?
Could she be a diplomat? He wondered some more.
No way, he answered his own question. I have been to diplomats homes. They look nothing like that. It looks like something off the pages of Hollywood.
Three kids? She said she had three kids, adopted. Not married. How does that work? Is she a nun!? Shadreck bolted up from the bed.
A picture of her unkempt hair flashed across his face.
She vigorously shook his head.
She’s beautiful…very beautiful despite everything,” he said to himself. “Nuns can’t be that beautiful or so carefree. Or are they? I don’t know!” He shook his head again. “She doesn’t look like a virgin though. How do virgins look anyway? What’s wrong with me?”
Again, he shook his head and fell back on the bed.
Woman with the beautiful brown eyes and enchanting smile….who are you?
That was the last thought on Shadreck’s mind right before he fell asleep.