The atmosphere in Shadreck Mtonga’s office was icy cold. Gilbert was sweating a storm under his dark blue Armani suit. He wanted to choke the life out of his partner for putting him in such an awkward position. He wished nothing but for the ground to open up and swallow them both. Continue reading Allegiance: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle – Chapter Four
It was 2 in the morning when Andy Mwila got into bed after the night out with the boys. Continue reading Allegiance: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle – Chapter Three
It was business as usual at the Athena VIP Lounge as first-class patrons went about their usual business of shoving their money in each other’s faces. There was nothing common about this lounge. Continue reading Allegiance: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle – Chapter One
Andy walked to the back entrance of the Lounge reserved for VIP’s only to make his call to his aunt in Canada.
“Yes Aunty, I arrived safely.” He said. “No…am sorry I took long to call…yes, it was alright…no, I haven’t seen her. Listen Aunt Rose, am somewhere with friends right now so I cant stay on the phone for long…yes….no I….”
It didn’t sound like Aunt Rose was going to stop talking any time soon and Andy couldn’t find it in his heart to cut her off. Instead, he turned towards the glass door and rested his forehead against it as his aunt went on and on lecturing him about visiting his mother.
“Are you going to move or not?” Came a voice behind Andy.
He turned and found a surprising figure glaring at him. The girl looked about twenty-five years old, slightly unkempt hair carelessly tied into a bun at the center of her head, obviously a failed attempt at decency for the sake of mankind. The girl looked like she had spent the past two weeks in-doors.
There were heavy bags under her big round eyes…her eyes…. Andy’s heart almost skipped a bit. She had the most brown eyes he had ever seen on a black Zambian girl.
Wait, is she even Zambian? Andy wondered.
Wasn’t that an American accent he had just heard or was that his aunt’s voice screaming at him in his ear.
Oh shit, Aunt Rose! Andy finally remembered he was in the middle of a call.
“Aunt Rose, I have to go now, bye. I’ll call you tomorrow.” He quickly cut the line.
“Are you going to move now?” The girl asked again.
So he had heard right, she was American…and certainly not black American despite her skin colour. She sounded like a white American woman. But who the devil was she and why was she dressed like she was not about to step into the most exclusive VIP Lounge in the country? The girl looked like she was running an errand at the local market in her slippers and loose-fitting maxi dress.
“You do know you need a card to use this entrance right?” Andy asked.
The girl pulled her small handbag from the back and opened it. It was the first time Andy was noticing it. It was an original beige Valentino. The girl took out the card and flashed it across his face.
“Satisfied?” She asked. “I heard this place was fancy but I certainly wouldn’t have imagined the guards would be so impeccably dressed.” She was scanning him from head to toe.
“Guard!?” Andy said, not sure whether to laugh or feel insulted. It certainly was the first time someone had mistaken him for a security guard.
“I am going to be late for a meeting. Are you going to step aside?” The girl asked.
“Meeting?” Andy said. “Wait, are you the one Luke is waiting for?”
“I take it you are a friend of his,” She said. “Are you going to keep asking me questions?” She was very irritated.
“Maybe just one more. What’s your name?”
“Are you kidding me?” The girl said, looking at him like he had just said something out of this world.
“I am actually very serious.” Andy said.
“Then I guess I will just have to give your friend Luke a call and tell him today’s meeting is cancelled.” She threw the card back into her bag and turned to walk away.
“She can’t be serious,” Andy said as he watched her turn her back to him.
He ran after her. “I’m sorry if I offended you,” he said.
The girl stopped and turned back around.
“However, if you are looking for a job with Luke, it might work in favour if we were friends,” Andy said.
She glared at him and shook her head before brushing past him without giving him a response. She took out the card and entered without sparing him a last glance.
Andy was absolutely dumbfounded.
What just happened? He asked himself.
Did I just try to pick up a girl? Since when does Andy Mwila chase after girls…and funny looking ones at that? I think that Canadian cold done froze my brain cells. Who the hell is that girl anyway? And, did she just brush me off? What the hell?
Andy went back inside and joined his friends. He had a bemused expression on his face.
“Who the hell made you smile all the way here?” Sam asked.
Andy sat down. And then he stood up again, almost immediately. He appeared to be in a daze. “Something weird just happened,” he said.
“What?” Ernest asked.
Andy was shaking his head, still trying to comprehend what had just happened. “A girl just blew me off.” He said, more to himself than to his friends.
“Huh?” All three chorused.
“Yeah,” he answered. “History just happened a few minutes ago.”
“She must be New Money, they’re the type that always try to prove a point to everyone. What’s her name?” Dennis asked.
“I don’t know, she wouldn’t tell me.” Andy said.
“The hell?” Dennis said.
“You’re kidding, right?” Ernest said.
“I wish,” Andy said and sat back down. He grabbed a beer and downed the contents in one long gulp.
“She really got to you didn’t she?” Dennis said.
Andy said nothing. He had a contemplative look in his eyes.
“Maia, it’s so good to see you!” Luke hugged his guest and offer her a seat. “Anything to drink?” He asked.
“Oh no, am very fine thanks,” Maia said. “What I need right now, more than anything, is sleep.”
Luke laughed. “You do look like you could use some sleep for sure. “Am I allowed to ask what’s been keeping you up?”
Maia laughed. “No you’re not,” she said and removed a file of papers from her bag. “Everything is ready. Now it’s all up to you.”
“I already made up my mind.” Luke said. “I’m all in Maia!”
“You are? For real?”
“Yes, I already told you this over the phone but you still insisted on coming here anyway.”
“I just thought that…you know, I didn’t want you accepting my offer simply because it’s me. This is business and not friendship we are talking about.”
“I know, but I trust you, both as a friend and as a business woman,” he said.
“You flatter me Luke. Are you okay with 40% though?” She asked.
“It’s more than what I would have expected to be honest with you. I am just providing you with management. You’re the one providing the finances, talent, design and just about everything.”
“It’s been a while since I was here so I have no idea how things are done in this country these days. And, you know the taste of local consumers so yeah, I desperately need you.”
“Theatre is obviously a new concept in this country and just in my circles, I cannot tell you how many folks would kill for a change of scene.” Luke said.
“Everyone is dying for an alternative to the usual cinema experience,” he continued. “The point is to sell the idea to both the regular and medium spenders because the other 1% is already sold. They are defined by such luxuries. I have no doubt we will own this because we are offering them high class entertainment on a low budget. That should make everyone happy.”
Maia laughed. “I love your optimism Luke. However, I need you to go through those so you can get a feel of exactly what I have in mind for the general set-up.”
“Not a problem.” He said.
“Do you think two months will be enough to get everything ready for open night?” Maia asked.
“Yes, no doubt.”
“Then we’re sorted. I better be on my way now.”
“I’ll walk you out.”
Once they were outside, Luke asked, “Did you drive here?”
“No, I walked. Home is just a few minutes from here.”
“What?” She chuckled upon seeing the look on his face. “Stop acting like a grandpa Luke. I’m a big girl; I can take care of myself. This cool breeze is calling out to me.” She stretched out her hands and allowed the fresh air to wash over her face.
“It’s close to midnight Maia,” Luke said. “Everyone knows what type of neighbourhood this is so it’s a high target for criminals. There’s no way am letting you walk alone at this hour. Wait for me I get my-“
Before he could finish, Luke spotted Shadreck driving towards them and moved towards the road, waving him down.
“Mr Luke,” Shadreck came to a stop in front of them. “Is everything okay?”
“Are you in a hurry?” Luke asked.
“Great, do you mind giving my business partner here a ride to her place?” He asked.
Shadreck looked at the girl standing next to the businessman. Even if you’re meeting your sugar daddy, can’t you try to dress up a little woman? He thought to himself.
“Yeah, sure, no problem.” He said. “Where are you going Ms?”
“I live just a few blocks from here.” She opened the door and stepped inside.
Fresh flowers, was the first thought that crossed Shadreck’s mind when her fragrance filled the air in his car.
She smells of freshly scented flowers…like she’s just from taking a shower in a garden of flowers. Well, at least she bathed.
“Let’s go. I’ll tell you where to stop.” Maia said. She then turned to Luke. “Thank you Luke. Pass my love to Yvonne and the kids.” She said.
So she’s not a side chick. Talk about being judgemental. Shadreck felt ashamed of himself for jumping to conclusions.
“Will do, have a goodnight kiddo.” The forty-five year old said.
Maia laughed and waved at him as Shadreck resumed driving.
“Thank you Shadreck, you have a good night too.” Luke said.
“You too sir.” Shadreck said.
“He insists on calling me kiddo when his wife is not that older than me.” Maia said. “My name is Maia by the way. What’s yours?”
“Oh yeah, he said your name before,” she said, looking embarrassed to have forgotten so soon. “You are not much of a talker are you?”
“And you are obviously not Zambian.”
“Are you xenophobic perhaps?”
Shadreck laughed. “Not really. You’re the first female I have seen at a club like that one dressed like that. Zambian girls your age would never be caught dead out in public looking like that. That, and your accent of course gave you away.”
“I am not quite sure if you are insulting me or trying to get to know me.” Maia said. “Your face looks familiar by the way. Are you someone famous perhaps?”
“I wouldn’t consider myself famous but I co-owner Apollo, the entertainment company. Ever heard of it?”
“Now that makes sense,” she said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That I have remembered where I know you from. I am a huge fan of yours. You have the best artists and creatives in the region.”
“Thank you. What are you into, music, comics, art, movies?” He asked.
“Everything.” She said. “Oh, slow down here, we are almost there. Do you also live in this neighbourhood?”
“No, I live in Northmead.”
“We’re here,” she announced.
Shadreck starred at the mansion in disbelief. “You live here?”
“Yeah, anything wrong?”
“No, no, it’s just that…it’s huge. You live with your parents?”
“How old do you think I am Mr Shadreck?”
She burst out laughing. “I’m flattered but you need to add a few…no, not few…a lot of years to that. I live with my kids.”
“I said kids, how did you get to married?” She laughed.
“I am a traditional guy.”
“I hear a lot of people are like that here,” she said. “I live with three kids. There’s a paper somewhere that says they’re my babies but I didn’t exactly birth them, if you know what I mean.”
“I think I do.”
Maia stepped down from the vehicle.
“Thank you so much for the ride Shadreck. Get home safely.”
“I’ll wait until you get inside safely. I don’t want to be summoned by the police tomorrow with accusations of abductions and the like. You filthy rich folks can be a problem sometimes.” He laughed.
“There are guards looking at us through those windows right now.” She pointed to the two guard houses on either side of the gate. “The gate will open the moment I get closer and two armed men will appear, watch.”
She moved closer to the gate and just like she had said the gate opened and two guards appeared. Maia smiled and waved at Shadreck.
Is this woman trying to enchant me or what? Shadreck thought as he drove away. She had the most beautiful smile he had ever seen on anyone.
Why does she need two armed security guards? Anyway, rich people’s problems. He shook his head and dialled his mother’s line to get all his random thoughts out of his head.
“Son, what are you still doing up this late?” A very sleepy voice came through the line.
“Did I wake you?” Shadreck asked.
“It’s midnight Shadreck, of course you woke me up but that’s okay. Where are you going at this time of the night young man? You sound like you are on the road.”
Shadreck closed the open window immediately. “I had some business to attend to but am heading home now.”
“Is what why you sound so stressed?” His mother asked. “You’ve never called me first before. I’m always the ome calling you. You sound tired.”
“I always call you mum. Don’t make me feel bad now.”
“I’m sorry son, I didn’t mean to. I am very happy you called.”
“Anyway I gotto go. I just wanted to check up on you. You can go back to sleep now. I’m sorry I woke you up.”
“Are you sure you are okay son? You don’t sound well.”
“I am, don’t think too much. I might pass through tomorrow after you come from church so we can have lunch together. The food you packed for me last time finished.”
“Not to worry, I will have enough prepared for you tomorrow,” his mother said.
You just have to mother, you owe me that much for all those years you neglected me and my siblings. Shadreck said in his head.
But to her he said; “Have a good night.” And cut the line.
A few seconds after the call with her son ended, Martha’s phone rang again. She answered without checking the caller.
“Yes son, did you forget something?”
“It’s me mother.” A different voice came through.
“Andy?” Martha sat up again. “I was just from talking to Shadreck. How come you kids are calling me one after the other? That child that never calls his mother called me today in the middle of the night. Did something happen?”
“We bumped into each other a few hours ago,” Andy informed her.
“That explains why,” Martha said, her voice suddenly turning grey.
“I just miss you so much mum,” Andy said. “Shadreck still doesn’t like me much you know. I felt it today again when we met.”
“Was he rude to you?” Martha asked.
“Surprisingly, he was very polite. Maybe just a little too polite.” Andy said.
“See, maybe he doesn’t hate you as much as you think.”
“No, he still hates my guts but you know what’s funny, I understand exactly why he feels like that. I don’t blame him. If the roles were turned, I am sure even you know that I would feel exactly the same.”
“Did you visit your mother or at least let her know that you’re back in town?” Martha asked.
Andy hesitated in responding but a few seconds later said, “I didn’t.”
“I know, I’ll call her tomorrow. As long as I called you when I landed and you know that am back and safe, that’s all that matters. You are more of a mother to me than that woman will ever be.”
“Show some respect young man. No matter what faults you find in her she is still your mother.”
“You’re the only mother I have ever known.” Andy said. “Unless you don’t want me as a son anymore-”
“Don’t be funny young man. Besides, I was paid to act like a mother to you. I was your nanny. Your mother will always be your mother. No one can ever replace her.”
“She might have paid you to take care of me but I know that you would have taken care of me even if she had stopped paying you. Anyway, I have to go mum, I’ll pass through home to see you tomorrow.”
“Ah, tomorrow?” Martha remembered the phone call with Shadreck.
“Yes, is something the matter? You wont be around?” Andy asked.
“It’s not that,” Martha was searching for the right words to say so as not to worry him.
“It’s Shadreck isn’t it?” Andy surmised. “Is he coming to see you?”
“Yes. I’m so sorry Andy-“ Martha hated being stuck between the two boys.
Shadreck resented her for neglecting him and his siblings to take care of Andy. Andy loved her for taking care of him when his own mother neglected him. It was an endless chain of misplaced love and hate but Martha was forced to come to the conclusion that the fault was all hers.
She was the reason behind the friction between the two and there was nothing she was ever going to do that would make up for her mistakes.
“Oh no, you don’t need to apologize. It’s fine, I understand,” Andy said. “I guess I will just have to see you another day. It’s a good thing that Shadreck is coming to you and you are not the one following him and begging him to see you.”
He needs to eat, that’s why he comes here, Martha thought to herself.
“You should go to bed now, it’s late.
“Have a good night mum. I love you.”
“Love you too son, good night.”
“Are the kids sleeping?” Maia asked Rashida the nanny when she entered the house and found the fifty-five year old waiting for her in the living room.
Maia laughed at the sight of the middle aged woman looking as worried as ever over her safety. She waited for her to finish yawning to get a response. “Why did you wait up for me Idah?” She asked.
Rashida had been Maia’s nanny from the time she went to America with her adoptive parents. The two of them had gotten close over the years so much so that Rashida who had had no kids of her own in her marriage until the death of her husband eight years ago considered the little girl as her own.
When Rashida heard about Maia’s plans to return to her native country, she offered to follow her so she could help out with the kids she intended to adopt there. According to her, it was better to be in the company of people she dearly loved than to remain in the states where she had no loved ones of her own.
Maia had over the years become Rashida’s only family. She was the daughter she could never carry in her womb. She always wondered what would have become of her after the death of her husband had Maia not been by her side. Rashida could not bear the thought of being separated from her.
“The kids finally slept about an hour ago,” Rashida said. “They’re the most inquisitive bunch I have ever come across.” She laughed. “Did you really have to go to that place this late at night child?”
Maia threw herself onto the sofa and Rashida settled down next to her. Maia took the opportunity to rest her head on the woman’s laps.
“Luke was out of town during the day and he is always busy so tonight was the best time to go. Besides, I needed some fresh air.”
“That’s because you’ve been keeping yourself in the study day in and day out with your writing that you hardly ever see the sun rise or set. It’s not very good for your health Maia.”
“Are you nagging me right now Idah?” Maia pretended to yawn loudly and shut her eyes.
“You should go upstairs and sleep in your bed.”
“Nooo.” Maia said, half asleep and half awake. “I like sleeping here better. And I have to check in on the kids before I-“ her words trailed off and sleep came over her.
Rashida chuckled to herself. “Poor thing, she must be exhausted,” she said, undoing the bun on her head and tying her long silky hair into a ponytail.
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.”
“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?”
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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?”
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.
“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.”
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.”
“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.
“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.
“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.