THE INVISIBLE MAN – Introduction by Anishagold Continue reading
THE INVISIBLE MAN – Introduction by Anishagold Continue reading
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
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.
Cathy Russel was in labour for eight long hours before the baby finally decided to come out and join the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the sudden birth brought with it some expected complications. Continue reading
By the time the three friends were done drinking and chatting, it was very late in the night and Duncan offered to drive Alex home. He put her bicycle in the back of his car. Each to their own thoughts, the music filled all the spaces in the car. Every now and then Duncan would steal glances at his friend just to check if she was alright but he dared not say a word because he didn’t trust he would have the right words to say to her given the drama going on in her life. He was just happy to help her out from the side lines and offer her a shoulder of support whenever she needed it.
Alex’s mind was going over the conversation she had had with Anton concerning Oliver. If ever Alex had underestimated the bond between son and father, Anton’s words about his father’s feelings and fears awakened her to viewing their relationship in a whole new light. How come she had not considered all those things Anton had mentioned before? She had always been too quick to vent and lash out at Oliver, calling him a coward when the truth looked like something that had not even crossed her imagination.
She too knew something about Oliver. And she knew every word Anton had said was true. The question now was, how was she ever to convince that dumb man that her feelings for him were not misplaced and that they would last forever?
That whole night, Alex pondered that question only for the answer to come to her in the early hours of the morning; Dr Sanjay.
“I usually question my feelings whenever a patient of mine voluntarily pays me a visit after a while. Should I celebrate progress or should I get worried?” The good doctor asked Alex that morning as they sat in her office.
Alex chuckled. “Maybe both?” She said.
“What brings you here Alex?”
“Oliver.” She simply stated, not beating around the bush.
Dr Sanjay laughed. “I see you are not wasting any time today. What about Oliver?”
“He won’t admit his feelings for me.”
“Aah, I see.”
“You are the only person I know that can help me with this one doc.”
“How exactly do I-“
“You can tell me what to do?” She cut her off before she could finish. “I know you are good with such things so please, help me.” She begged. “I think I know why he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me but I just don’t know how to make him see that he has nothing to worry about.”
“Why do you think he doesn’t want to be with you romantically?”
“Maybe he’s afraid, he thinks my feelings are misplaced, that I am confused and that maybe one day I will realize it and our relationship will be ruined. Maybe he’s worried about the nineteen years between us or maybe he’s not confident we can work out.”
Doctor Sanjay sat up straight, hands held together. “Did you ever consider the possibility that he might not return your feelings?” She asked. “What makes you so sure that he’s in-love with you?”
The question threw Alex off-guard. This too, she had not stopped to question. What made her so sure he was in-love with her?
“It’s his eyes, his heartbeat, his warm embrace, and most of all his words.” Alex answered. “Every time he says it, he negates it with a reason as to why we can never work. I never thought much of it before but now that you’ve mentioned it, he has told me how he feels about me many times. I was just too busy focusing on other things to actually hear his heart.”
The doctor smiled. “Then I think my work here is done isn’t it?”
“No!” Alex said, almost jumping in her chair. “I want to know what I can do to completely win him over so that he can stop questioning and worrying about everything.”
“How about using his very fears to your advantage Alex?” Dr Sanjay asked.
“His fears?” Alex asked.
“How patient are you?” The doctor asked.
“I think I am a very patient woman.”
“Good,” Doctor Sanjay said. “Then how about focusing all your energies on graduating first, securing a job and then winning your man later?”
“Huh?” Alex thought the doctor had lost her mind.
She laughed. “Exactly that,” she said. “Oliver thinks that your feelings are just a phase which will come to pass and the only way you can prove that they will not be going away any time soon is if you allow time to pass.”
“And what if he moves on and forgets about me while am busy bidding time?”
“Then you have to do something to make sure he doesn’t forget you.”
“I thought you said I have to stay away from him?” Alex lamented. “How the hell do I ensure he doesn’t forget me while am doing everything possible to stay away from him?”
Doctor Sanjay laughed. She picked up her phone from her desk and held it up. “We live in the age of technology Alex. With this little thing, we can create memories in a thousand places whilst being in one.”
Alex raised both her eyebrows, wondering what the hell the doctor was getting at.
“Wanna give it a try?” Doctor Sanjay asked.
Excitement slowly lit Alex’s face. “Oh hell!” She said.
Months went by after Alex’s meeting with Doctor Sanjay and she and Oliver had not met in person. Oliver knew something had changed when a week went by and he had not heard from Alex. He had not even heard any news about her and Sam and from his end, it appeared the two of them were no longer a newsworthy item. Sam was consumed in his work, taking up more projects than usual and the only communication that existed between them was a like or comment on each other’s Instagram every now and then. It appeared the two of them were still friends, but that was about it. So why was Alex keeping a distance from him?
Did she finally give up on him? Oliver wondered one late evening after a long day of directing a short film in Paris.
“Have you heard from Alex recently?” Oliver finally broke down and asked his PA.
Morgan gave him a puzzled look. “Ah?” The question was unexpected but the PA was quick to put two and two together. Aaah, so it that why you’ve been grumpy this past couple of weeks? He thought, smiling to himself.
“I’m just worried that maybe she’s fallen into depression or something after everything that was going on.” Oliver explained. “It’s just not normal for her to go this quiet on everyone.”
“Have you tried calling her?” Morgan asked.
Oliver cleared his throat uncomfortably. “The last time we spoke I said something…something that pissed her off so-“ He was thinking about the response he had sent to her message informing him about her date with Sam. He didn’t need to see her face to know her reaction.
“Last time I spoke to her she said she would be busy with her thesis and upcoming graduation so-“
“You spoke to her!?” Oliver asked.
“Yes,” Morgan said. “She actually called to ask me how you were doing last week, said she couldn’t get in touch with you.”
“Huh?” Oliver removed is phone from his pocket and closely examined it. “But my phone doesn’t have a problem.” He said and started scrolling down his call log. “See, I haven’t received any call from her.”
“Sir, why don’t you just call her if you miss her that much?” Morgan said, unable to hold himself any longer.
Oliver starred at him in disbelief but said nothing in response.
Exactly five minutes later, Oliver’s eyes almost jumped out of their sockets when Alex’s name and face appeared on his phone screen. She was video calling him.
“Talk of the devil,” Oliver said to Morgan who was busy sorting out his clothes in the hotel closet. His eyes were glued unflinchingly on the phone, every part of his body frozen.
“I think you are supposed to answer that,” Morgan paused his activities and looked at his boss. “You slide your finger across the screen from left to right.” He said sarcastically and won himself a warning shot from Oliver.
“Get out!” Oliver said and went to grab him by the collar to help him out quickly.
Morgan laughed. “I’ll come and finish the rest later.” He said and quickly ushered himself out the rest of the way.
“Oliveeeer!!!” A visibly excited and happy Alex appeared on Oliver’s screen. She was standing outside on some balcony Oliver had never seen before. She was playfully hanging against the pillar, her back pressed against it and her head and the whole upper part of her body leaning further backwards as she held her phone high up in front of her. Oliver could make out the cars parked down on the ground from the higher ground she was standing on.
“Alex….” He said. “Where the devil are you and what are you doing?”
Alex adjusted her earphones and pushed her hair away from her face as the wind kept blowing it all over the place. She lowered the camera slightly to reveal her attire. “I am at work!” She shouted, revealing her white coat.
Oliver laughed. “Why are you shouting?”
“It’s very windy up here!” She said.
“Isn’t there some place else you can talk from?”
She laughed. “There is but this is the only place I can stand and shout what I want to shout to you!”
“You want to shout to me?” Oliver asked.
“Yes!” She screamed. “I MISS YOU VERY MUCH OLIVER COOPER!” She shouted.
Her words were sudden and unexpected, made his heart skip a beat but he quickly recovered. “Is that why you’ve been so quiet lately? Hard to believe your words.”
“You’re the one who’s been quiet!” She said. “I sent you a message but you haven’t replied up to now.”
“What message Alex? I didn’t receive any-“
“Check your computer. I gotto go back inside now. Love you, bring back something nice for me from there!” And she ended the call before he could say anything in return.
“My computer?” Oliver asked himself and went over to his temporary desk on the other side of the room. He turned on his laptop and the moment it came on he saw it; a folder in the corner named Message from Alex.
“How come I didn’t see this till now?” He asked himself out loud and opened the folder.
“A video?” He was literally talking to himself. He pressed play.
I knew it would take you this long to see this, tsk tsk tsk.
Oliver, Oliver, my dear Oliver, always slow aren’t we? *she laughs*
Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I love you with all my heart and nothing in this world is ever going to change that; not time, not age, not distance, and not even you. I love you Oliver. Take care.
“This child….” Oliver was shaking his head after watching the video, a huge grin on his face. He was smiling like that when he caught his reflection through the mirror by the dresser and he quickly straightened his face, as if afraid of being seeing by someone.
“What am I doing?” He said and quickly stood up, closing the laptop in the process. “…making a grown man act like a teenager.” He said, shaking his head.
A few minutes later, he sent this to Alex; Saw the video, thanks kiddo. Take care of yourself too. After that day, a whole week went by and he never heard from Alex, only for her to randomly appear in his inbox the day he got back in town from Paris.
Send someone to deliver my souvenir at Anton’s place! 😉
I’m meeting him later today. The keys are at the usual spot.
Thanks in advance Oliver!
Her tone was chirpy as usual, as if nothing had ever happened.
And just like that the messages kept randomly coming from Alex when Oliver least expected them too. Once every week she would either send a text message or video message and then she would disappear for weeks only to appear randomly again as if nothing had happened. Her behaviour was so strange that when he couldn’t take the wondering any more, Oliver called her and asked to have dinner but to his surprise, she turned him down.
“I have to work that day.” She had said. “I’ll be busy these coming weeks as well. Will let you know whenever I find time.” And always, she was the first to end the calls. She had not told him she loved him ever since she made him watch her video on his laptop. The most intimate thing she kept saying to him was that she missed him, that and jokingly wishing him a sunny day on a very wet day.
Unable to comprehend Alex’s new change, Oliver was tormented each passing day as he wondered whether a text or video message would come from her. Alex had blocked much of her private life from the public eye, only going online when she had to do some form of research. If he did not make an effort to inquire about her well-being, then he would have absolutely no means of knowing how she was doing. and unfortunately, her responses to him were always delivered in the same tone and when she could not smile she always ended the calls with the excuse of being busy or with company.
And thus, months went by until time came for Anton and Alex to graduate. Despite going out of his way to make sure he gave the two the best ever graduation dinner, Oliver couldn’t help wondering whether Alex or would show up or not.
“She will be here soon dad,” Anton said as he came to stand next to his father who had been standing close to the door keeping watch of everyone coming in.
“What are you talking about?” Oliver feigned ignorance, quickly taking the glass of wine his son was handing him and drowning the contents like it was a mere glass of water.
Anton was looking at him with a bemused expression on his face. “You are acting like a man about to propose dad. Just out of curiosity, did you try calling her to find out what’s taking her so long to get here?”
“No.” Oliver curtly stated. “Maybe it’s the bloody awful people looking like they’re having the time of their lives, without shame,” he was looking at over at the complete Saunders family, father, mother and Alex’s four siblings. “How can they be so comfortable here of all places? Look at them-“
“Didn’t you invite them here?” Anton asked.
“Only because I didn’t think they would actually come!” Oliver said.
Anton laughed. “All these years and you still don’t know those people.” He was shaking his head. “Anyway, I already spoke to Alex. She went to see off some friends of hers at the airport.”
“What friends?” his father asked.
“Michelle and Josh,” he answered. “The doctors she met at the hospital where she works?” He added upon seeing his father’s confused expression. “She didn’t tell you about them?”
“She’s been avoiding me so how do you expect me to know about the new people in her life?”
“Ey, don’t take it out on me.” Anton laughed. “I have always been her best friend and you…you’re just the guy hiding in the shadows scared to show your real self to her.”
“Watch it son.” Oliver joked.
“Aren’t you the one who raised me to always speak my mind?” Anton asked. “I stepped aside to give the both of you some freedom but you still haven’t gathered courage dad. Haven’t I taught you anything?”
Oliver smacked him lightly in the back of the head. “Get me another-“ he was about to hand him the glass when in walked Alex.
Anton didn’t need to ask what was wrong with his father as everything was written all over his face. He turned towards the door and found Alex smiling at them.
“I’m so sorry am late!” She sounded out of breath.
“Alex!” Cassey appeared with the rest of the gang behind her. “I was about to follow you to the airport!”
“There was crazy traffic guys,” she said. “Anyway, am here now so, let the party start!” She lifted her arms in the air and went straight for the dance floor.
“I think I was just totally ignored.” Oliver lamented to Alex who had remained behind.
“Umm dad, you were chatting with her just fine a few hours ago at the graduation ceremony. Loosen up and have some fan. Look, there’s your rival approaching.” He was pointing at Sam who was walking towards them from the other end of the room.
“I thought he had left already.” Oliver said.
“This thing appears to be some form of reunion for all these celebrity folks,” Anton said. “Ours is definitely the place everyone wants to be tonight! Enjoy your chat!” He patted his father on the shoulder and left just before Sam could reach them.
“Is Anton avoiding me?” Sam asked Oliver.
“It is no secret he doesn’t like you very much Sam,” Oliver replied. “And don’t act like the feeling isn’t mutual.”
“As usual, you don’t miss a thing sir.” Sam laughed.
“May I have everyone’s attention please!” Anton’s voice echoed through the room as the music suddenly came to a dead end, leaving everyone that was dancing dumbfounded and protesting.
“I am very sorry for disturbing your fun,” Anton apologized. “However, I have something very important I need to say while all…maybe I should use the word most here. Yeah, there’s something I need to say while most of you are still sober.”
Oliver was looking over at his Morgan his PA and Fantasia the PR guru who had been chatting in one of the corners of the room since they arrived. They were both shaking their heads, expressing their lack of knowledge at what was going on.
“First of all, a huge thanks to everyone that’s showed up for me and Alex’s graduation dinner.” Anton started. “Speaking of which, I think everyone that knows Alex and I will agree that apart from our birthdays, we’ve shared almost every other celebration that’s come our way in the past.
“Being an only child, and being raised by a single dad, the path before me was guaranteed to be a lonely one, if not for Alex that showed up out of nowhere and became the centre of me and my dad’s life, literally. I still remember the day I met Alex, it’s many many years ago but it’s still vivid in my head because I’ve referred to it all through my life.
“I thought she was a busy buddy and a know-it-all…which she is by the way.” He laughed with everyone else in the room.
“But still, the love she and I share is beyond that of siblings.” He continued in a much sombre tone, his voice becoming husky from the tears caught at his throat. “Most of our close friends know, I haven’t always been the best of friends but somehow, this girl here chose to forgive my weaknesses always so it is such a great honor for me to be celebrating my graduation with her. She’s got more brains than I will ever acquire in this lifetime and she’s probably the only reason why I was able to graduate…please don’t tell my dad that!”
The hall was filled with laughter. Oliver was pointing an accusing finger at his son. Alex took this opportunity to run up to Anton and give him a hug.
“I love you too much you fool.” She said to him, her eyes filled with tears.
“And I love you more Lexie.” He kissed her on the cheek before letting her go. Only to turn her so she could face everyone, his arm over her shoulder.
“So tonight,” Anton said. “As we celebrate me and Alex’s graduation, there is something I would ask from this dear friend of mine before we both run off and lead busy lives in the corporate world that’s already beckoning for our attention.”
What is it? Alex mouthed the question to him.
Anton slowly turned to face her, taking both her hands in his. “Alex,” he said.
“Yes Anton,” She said, her eyes threatening to pop out of their sockets as she wondered what her best friend was up to. Please don’t ask me to marry you…please let it not be so…I thought this was all done and over with…please please please dont… she kept repeating the words to herself.
“Ah, since this is a private event and no press present, why don’t you all take out your phones and go live on social media.” He laughed.
“Tony! What are you doing?” A now visibly nervous Alex asked.
Sensing that things might go south any moment soon, Oliver moved forward. “Son-“
“Relax dad, and Alex please stop shaking so much am not about to ask you to marry me.” He chuckled and he could immediately feel Alex’s tense muscles relax around his fingers.
Just when everyone was starting to relax, Anton surprised them all by suddenly dropping on one knee, a small black box held up in one hand while the other held hers.
“I thought you said-“ Alex had started to say.
“Alex Saunders, will you do me the honor of being my step-mother?” Anton finally said. You could hear a pin drop amidst the reaction in the room.
“Alex, please be my father’s bride.” Anton said, his voice shaking slightly.
“Son, what do you think you’re doing?” Oliver asked, moving closer to lift Tony from off the floor but he refused to barge, instead, he looked squarely at his father.
“I don’t mean to disrespect you or anything dad,” Anton said. “But I know that if I don’t do this, you will never ask Alex to marry you even though it’s very clear you are in-love with her. You need to hard before forcing me up from here because this is the last chance you are getting. Alex is going to disappear from our lives forever and maybe you can manage without her but I can’t.
“I understand I can’t have her the way I wished I could but I care about her enough to want to see her happy, just as I want to see you happy so….are you going to take my place here or not. My knee is burning already!”
Everyone laughed, including Oliver.
“I guess I have been such a coward haven’t I?” Oliver asked, his eyes fixed on Alex but lifting them up to look at everyone around the room. “I don’t want anyone here or out there thinking I let my son do my job so….” he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his own small black box.
Oliver chuckled as he held up the box. “I had my own little surprise for later but I guess that will have to do.”
Anton could hide his shock. “And I thought miracles don’t happen anymore.” He said.
“Very funny,” Oliver said. “Now get off my spot and let me do right by the most beautiful woman in this room.”
Anton quickly stood up.
“And the ring?” Both Paulina and George asked at the same time.
“You want it?” Anton asked the two.
“Yes!” Paulina shouted.
“You want a proposal from him?” George asked, disappointment written all over his face.
“Not from him silly, from you dimwit!” She said, causing everyone to laugh.
“You two?” Cassey was looking from one to the other. “Since when?”
“How about you talk about that later guys am about to be proposed to right now!” Alex shouted. “This man might change his mind if more time goes by.”
“We will finish this later,” Cassey told the two sternly as Anton handed George the ring.
By the time Alex was turning to look at Oliver, he had already assumed position before her.
“Alex,” he said nervously. “I would have preferred a much more private setting but-“
“Yes.” Alex said suddenly. Her friends laughed.
“I am yet to get there so you can hold off the response for now.” Oliver said, laughing. “I have a few things I need to get off my chest first.”
“Okay,” Alex said. “Just don’t change your mind.”
“Agreed.” He said, his voice still filled with laughter. “Gosh, I’ve dreamt and thought about this moment for the past couple of months and I had no idea it would be this nerve wrecking!” He added.
“Why are you nervous when you already know my answer?” Alex asked.
“Because I thought I was too late…and because I feel like you deserve so much better. I don’t know what you see in me Alex and I don’t know if you will still feel the same way about me when I turn grey and old…which will be happening any time soon but, I know all that and I am still hoping that you continue having only me in your heart.
“I know it’s very selfish of me to want you, to desire you like this and I know that am not the best catch in the world but I promise to love you with everything that I am and everything that I am made of. Alex Saunders, would you give me the honour of being your husband for the rest of your life, please?”
“Only on one condition.” Alex said for the whole room to hear, catching everyone by the surprise. It wasn’t long ago when she had willingly said yes before the question even came and now she had a condition.
“I hope the condition is that I never have to address you as mum Alex!” Anton shouted.
Alex laughed. “Oh hell no that would never happen, young man.” She added for effect.
“What did you call me?” Anton asked.
Still laughing, “I will always be your best friend Anton, nothing is ever going to change that, not even my future daughter in-law.” She said.
“What’s the condition?” Oliver asked.
“That you kiss me first.” Alex said, her face turning red even before she uttered the words.
“You don’t have to ask me twice!” Oliver said, immediately getting up and pulling her in for a kiss.
Anton quickly turned away, his hands over his eyes. “I really can’t see this.” He said.
Duncan came to stand close to him. “hey man,” he said, putting his hand over his friend’s shoulder. “Are you okay?”
Anton slowly lifted his head up to look at him. “You think?” he asked sarcastically.
“I know,” Duncan said. “How about we get outta here and hit the club?”
“Great idea!” George chipped in, he too putting his hand over Anton’s other shoulder.
“I hope you guys are not thinking of leaving before congratulating them are you?” Cassey said, giving each one of them a stern look.
“She’s right,” Anton said, his tone now different from what it was a few minutes ago. “Let’s do that first and then we can hit the road. He started walking towards the two lovebirds who were still kissing, much to the amusement of the assembled crowd.
“Hey dad,” Anton patted Oliver on the back. “Sorry to cut your moment short but what the hack, you can get a room, please!” He said. “Alex,” he moved to stand in front of her, taking her hand slowly before pulling her in for a hug. “Congratulations, really, from the bottom of my heart. I am very happy for the both of you.” and then he turned back to his father. “Dad,” he hugged him too. “I am very proud of you taking courage tonight. Congratulations, I love you.”
Oliver was almost tearing up. He was happy and sad at the same time; happy that he had finally admitted his feelings to Alex but sad at the same time because his son’s heart was breaking.
“I love you too son.” Oliver said, tightening his arms around him. “I love very much. Thank you for giving me courage tonight. I owe you big time.”
“I’m glad you know that.” Anton said, letting go of his dad.
While the boys congratulated Oliver, the girls went straight for Alex, their eyes fixed on the huge stone that looked like it was weighing her slender fingers down.
“You’ll find me up front guys.” Anton said to his pals and before turning, he said to his father, “Good night dad, will see you tomorrow.” He was already turning to leave before Oliver could say anything in return.
“Son, wait,” Oliver ran after him and walked with him outside.
“Dad, I know why you followed me but am fine. Really, am fine.” Anton said once they were alone outside.
“I know that it couldn’t have been easy for you to do what you did tonight but-“
“I just got tired of seeing the two of you playing games with each other.”
Oliver laughed. “I know,” he said. “Alex plays hard ball.”
“She got you right where she wanted you right?” Anton said, a smile peeping at the corners of his lips.
“She did,” Oliver admitted. “But she’s also crazy so I have no doubt she would have left the country for good, just to punish me.”
“You really love her don’t you?” Anton asked, his face fully sobered up.
“Is it that obvious?” Oliver asked.
Anton gave him an are-you-kidding-me-look.
“I do.” Oliver admitted. “I really do. I really don’t know how I have lived all these years not being able to see or admit it.”
“The only reason I gave up is because the man she picked is a better man than I will ever be.” Anton said, catching his dad off guard with his sudden confession.
“No, it’s fine,” Anton said. “I mean it. If it was any other man, I would have dragged this all the way to the end. You know I can be petty as hell dad.”
“I don’t think so.” Oliver said. “I think in the end, you would have done the same thing you did tonight, you would have chosen Alex’s happiness over your own, that’s how much she means to you.”
“I hate it when you sound smarter than me.” Anton said. “Couldn’t you have just given me one up this once?”
Oliver laughed. “I love you Antonio.”
“Oh no you didn’t.” Anton said. “You only say that name when you are either mad or when you are being super mushy. I’m done for tonight, I’ve seen enough mushiness to last me a three life times! You should go back in, am sure Alex is already looking for you. Be careful, she will be glued to you from now on like you’re her oxygen tank. That girl doesn’t know how to love. She loves too much.”
“Be nice, that’s your step-mother you’re talking about.” Oliver said.
“I meant what I said in there dad!” Anton protested. “I’m never addressing Alex as mum. You can give her the whole inheritance if you want but am never calling her mum, I promise.”
“I don’t expect you to,” Oliver said. “I think she’s the one most uncomfortable with that thought than the rest of us.”
“Good,” Anton said. “That’s how it should be. The guys are here,” he was looking past Oliver’s shoulder towards Duncan and George who were approaching them.
“Mr C you better go back in there before Alex turns red from searching for you.” Duncan said.
Oliver took out his wallet and handed his son a card. “Drink are on me tonight boys. Get whatever poison you can but please don’t drive back. I’ll send someone to wait on you.”
“Dad we are not kids any more. One of us even got engaged today!” Anton teased.
“Very funny.” Oliver said and went back inside.
Cathy was helping her mother fold the laundry in the laundry room at home when she got bored and dropped the bedding in her hand back into the pile down.
“This is boring and am tired.” She whined. “Why do you insist on doing the laundry when you can afford to hire a helper mum?”
“Why should I pay someone to do something I can do?” Matilda asked. “It’s not like I am busy.”
“Sometimes I think you are allergic to being rich mum.” Cathy said. “No matter how well life gets, you always act like a poor person. I hope you won’t embarrass your grandson in the future; he’s the heir to the mightiest throne in this country. You need to start practising how to be a first class citizen now.”
“Does Tony ever call you?” Matilda asked.
“At least once a week, mostly to tell me he’s scheduled appointments for me here and there, doesn’t want me spending a dime of his money. He insists on paying for everything in advance, I just collect. Let’s see if that will be the case once the child is born. I will show him who’s really running the show.” She reached over to the table on the other side of the room to get her phone.
“I’ve been staying away from social media the whole day today,” She said. “These fools keep flooding my feed with pictures of their graduation.” She turned on her phone.
“Did Mr Cooper really ignore you at the graduation ceremony?” Her mother asked. “Even when you are carrying his first grandchild? That Alex must have really fed him fables. Who even-“
“What’s this?” Cathy said, her eyes looking like a pair of saucers, her fingers scrolling over her screen very fast. “No, this cant be.”
Unable to take the suspense anymore, Matilda moved to where her daughter was sitting and glanced over her phone. “Is that-“
“They’re engaged!?” Cathy spat. “They’re-“ she felt a sharp pain course through her stomach and she winced out loud in pain.
“Cathy!” Matilda quickly examined her daughter. “Take it easy now child, cam yourself down before you kill your baby.”
Rather than listen to her mother, Cathy went ahead and played one of the thousands of videos on her screen and before she could get half-way through it, her pain became unbearable and she dropped her phone to the floor.
Matilda shrieked loud enough for the whole neighbourhood to hear and Benson her husband came running into the room in no time.
“Help me!” Matilda shouted. “She’s having contractions.”
“That can’t be.” Dr Russel said. “She isn’t due for another-“
“She’s in shock so she’s gone into labour. We need to take her to the hospital.” His wife said.
Benson went straight into action. “Hold her up from the other side.” He said as he prepared to get her down stairs. “What has shocked her so much to send her straight into labour?”
“Ask me that question when we are somewhere where she can deliver the baby safely, not here!” Mathilda roared.
Anton was just getting out of the car at the club after parking when his phone rang.
“Who’s it?” George asked. “Ah, baby mama.” He said when he saw Cathy’s name on the phone.
“Just ignore it man.” Duncan said. “She’s just gonna spoil your mood and we are all going to pay dearly for that. Ignore her.”
“It should be important otherwise she wouldn’t have called me this time. she knows we aren’t cool like that.”
Yeah, like she gets it.” George said sarcastically. “It’s stopped.” He said when the ringing stopped but it was only for a short while before it started ringing again.
Anton answered it. “Cathy, is everything okay?”
“Anton this is Mathilda her mother. Cathy has gone into labour. We are not the way to the hospital right now.”
“What do you mean she’s in labour?” Anton asked. “Isn’t she due for like-“
“Yes but something happened and the shock sent her into labour. Please come to the hospital as soon as possible.”
“Yeah sure, I’ll be there soon.” Anton answered.
“What!?” Both Duncan and George mouthed the word at him.
Anton cut the line and put his phone in his pocket. “Cathy has gone into labour.” He announced to his friends.
“How’s that possible?” George asked.
“Apparently she was in shock,” Anton answered. “I think we can all guess what exactly shocked her enough to send her into labour.”
“Alex’s engagement.” Duncan said. “Oh my gosh, let’s go then what are you waiting for?”
Anton threw the keys at Duncan. “You drive,” he said as he walked around the car to sit on the other side. “I don’t think I can drive right now. I still haven’t figured out what my feelings are towards this reality. I just never imagined I would be a father so soon.” He sat down and buckled up.
“Drive Dee, am so excited I want to see the kid!” George said.
Duncan started got back on the road.
“I better call my dad.” Anton said. “I guess the baby just had to come today of all days ah. I think the universe has a sick sense of humour. Dad,” he said when Oliver answered.
“Hey son, what’s going on? Is everything alright?” Oliver asked. He had not been expecting to receive a call from Anton for the rest of that evening.
“Yeah, everything is fine. Cathy;s mother just called, turns out Cathy is in labour. We are going to the hostpital right now, thought you might wanna-“
“We are on the way there.” Oliver said, grabbing Alex’s hand and leading her away before she could ask any question. “Ladies, you can stay the night and enjoy yourselves.” Oliver said Cassey and Paulina.
“What’s going on Mr C?” Paulina asked.
“Cathy is in labour.” Oliver said.
“That lying bitch,” Cassey cussed. “She isn’t due for another two months or so isn’t it?”
“Cassey.” Paulina shushed her friend.
“I think news of the engagement shocked her.” Oliver surmised.
“We are coming with you,” Paulina said, increasing her pace to catch up with Oliver’s long strides.
“You don’t have to girls.” Alex said. “You can stay and have some fun. It’s out graduation night tonight.”
“No way we are staying behind.” Cassey stated. “You need the full team with you, just in case those people decide to be funny.”
“It’s not a war girls, it’s a delivery.” Oliver said. “But if you want to tag along that’s fine with me. Alex?” Oliver stopped to get confirmation from Alex.
“You can come,” Alex said. “But don’t start any fight with Cathy’s parents…or even Cathy.”
“It’s hard enough she’s battling nature tonight so she’s lucky, we will let her be but she better not act like a diva otherwise-“
“Lina.” Alex threw her warning look and Paulina simply shrugged her shoulders and behaved herself.
Oliver laughed and resumed leading the ladies to the car.
“Isn’t it too heavy?” Oliver was watching Alex stare at her shining stone for the longest time possible. “I can have it reduced if you-“
“No!” Alex said a little too loudly. “I love it, every bit of it, it’s perfect.” She added. “It’s like you went deep into my head and got the design I was always imagined myself wearing.” She raised her hand up slightly to have a good view of the ring.
“What’s the actual size of that stone Mr C?” Paulina asked.
“Don’t say it, I don’t wanna know!” Alex said, placing her hands over her ears.
“Why don’t you want to know?” Oliver asked.
“Because then I’ll know exactly how much it costs and it will keep eating me up thinking about what grand things that money could have been used for and what not. I don’t want to know. It will ruin everything.”
“Every penny spent on that ring was intended for that use, nothing else so there’s no need for you to feel guilty. If I had it my way it would have been the size of my heart but the designer advised against it so-“
“How did you even know my size?” Alex asked.
“Is there anything about you I don’t know?” Oliver asked.
“Wuuuuu” the girls echoed mischievously from the back.
Alex blushed from head to toe, she covered her face in between her legs in embarrassment.
“I think am going to pay dearly for that comment, ladies.” Oliver laughed, roughing his hand through Alex’s thick mane of hair. She sat up straight so suddenly and without warning and planted a kiss on his cheek before quickly dropping back into her chair.
Oliver mouth flipped wide open, words failing him completely but the smile on his face told Alex everything she needed to know.
“Uuuuuuu….” The girls geared from the back again.