Tag Archives: romance

Allegiance: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle – Chapter Four

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

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An Untimely Love – Part 14


A text came from Alex just as Oliver was getting ready to knock off from work.

Sam has invited me to dinner. 

Should I go?

Oliver who was about ready to open his door paused, starring at his phone like a man frozen in time. This is exactly what Fantasia was talking about, he thought. what exactly was he supposed to do and what was the right thing to say in such a situation.
Oliver sighed heavily and replied; Have fun kiddo and take care of yourself.
And he switched off his phone. 
The tears that fell from Alex’s eyes came so fast it was as if they had been waiting for the disappointment to simply be confirmed.
“What was I expecting?” She said as she went about her room searching for something to wear. “Coward.” She kept repeating whilst sobbing, throwing clothes from the closet down on the floor.
“Bloody coward!!!” She finally broke apart and dropped onto the floor, clatching a bunch of clothes in her hands.

“You look stunning,” Sam complimented her when she opened the door for him. She was wearing a figure-hugging little shimmery black dress with white pearls around her neck and matching earrings. 
“Thank you,” Alex forced a smile and stepped aside to let him in. “Come in.”
Sam stepped closer, gave her a hug and planted a kiss on her forehead. With his arms still around her waist, he held her upper body slightly back and looked her in the eyes. “You look very beautiful Alex, but you also look like you just spent the last five hours crying.”
For a moment Alex had forgotten how attentive to detail Sam was. He somehow always knew when she was in a happy or bad mood and he always had the right words to say to comfort her. The sincerity and care in his eyes was the last thing Alex needed in that moment after spending the last thirty minutes fighting back the tears that just wouldn’t stop pouring. It was like they had a mind of their own. 
And naturally, Sam’s concern triggered them back on and they came streaming down.
Without saying a word, Sam held her tightly in his arms and held her like that until her sobs settled. 
“Even though I feel like showing you off to the world with the way you are looking right now, I think that tonight is a bad time for you to be out there.” Sam said after a while. “How about we kick our shoes off and I whip us something in the kitchen? I hope your fridge is stocked!” 
He gave her no time to respond but took her by the hand and led her to sit down on the couch. “Sit right there, or better yet put on some feel good music for us while I scan the house for any edibles.”
“But Sam-“
“No buts, just humor me this once okay?” His eyes were literally pleading with her to go with the flow. Everything he was doing was out of concern for her and yet it was so clear she was being unfair to him. He had a right to get upset and feel disappointed and yet it was her feelings he put ahead of his. 
Alex nodded like an obedient child.
“Good girl!” Sam said enthusiastically, getting up and rushing to the kitchen. 
Alex remembered an interview Sam had years back where he revealed he was a big fan of Stevie Wonder and she went for his record.
“That’s what am talking about!” Sam’s head popped from the kitchen the moment the music filled the air.
Alex laughed and went to join him in the kitchen. 
“How did you know I would like that?” He asked.
“I told you, I am your number one fan,” She said. “Where did you find that?” She pointed to the black and blue apron he was wearing, looking right at home in her kitchen. 
“It’s not a very complicated kitchen you know,” he said. “Everything is packed in its place. If I didn’t know better I would think you have an OCD or something. Everything is a little too perfectly arranged.”
She laughed. “Maybe I am, is that a problem?” 
“As long as it’s not the type that makes you rush straight into the bathroom after we make love cause that would just-“ he stopped his sentence short, realizing he had ran miles from the shocked expression on her face. 
“My bad,” he quickly said. “I…I…it was a joke. A very bad joke. Dammit Samuel Daniels what’s wrong with you!?” he was hitting his head on the side.
Alex busted out laughing, forcing Sam to stop and stare at her in wonder. “You’re laughing.” He noted. “You are not kicking me out of the house…yet.”
“I am a clean freak quiet alright but I doubt it’s at an OCD level so you have nothing more to worry about.” Alex reassured him. 
“Oh thank God!” He said, laughing. 
“Anything I can help with?” She asked, moving to stand next to him by the sink where he was now washing some vegetables. “What are you making?”
“It’s a special Sam recipe. It looks like you have a stable supply of food in this house, something I was expecting from a workaholic student like you. Besides, you don’t look like you eat anything, at all.” He was scanning her slim frame from head to toe.
“It’s O-Paulina and Cassey who bought everything actually.” She avoided saying Oliver’s name. “How about I wash those while you check what’s on the stove?”
“No-“
“Am not taking no for an answer.” Alex quickly interjected him before he could finish what he was about to say. “I will be bored just watching you do everything. I need to keep myself busy.”
Sam immediately obliged her. She was right, she needed to keep her mind off whatever thoughts were running wild in her head. 

Doctor Russel slowly opened the door to his house a few minutes after midnight fully prepared to withstand the storm that awaited him on the other side of the door. As expected, he found both wife and daughter very much wide awake, well, maybe not both. Mathilda looked like she hadn’t gotten any sleep while Cathy looked like she had just been forced awake. There was a bunch of suitcases packed on the other side of the room. 
“What are you people still doing up this time?” He asked. He knew exactly what type of show they were putting on but he still chose to humour them.it was the least he could do after turning their perfect little world upside down. 
No verbal response came from Mathilda but her body language was enough to turn the few remaining black hairs in the professor’s head into grey.
“How could you do this to us dad?” Cathy added sound to her mother’s silent protest. “Do you have any idea how much humiliation I went through today?”
The professor quietly went to sit down, leaving as much distance between him and the wife as possible. 
“Aren’t you going to answer your daughter?” Mathilda finally spoke, turning her body fully around to face him.
“What are those bags about?” Benson asked, pointing to the suitcases in the corner and completely ignoring the questions being fired at him. 
Mathilda stood up. “I am leaving you and I am taking my daughter with me since you obviously want nothing to do with us. Maybe you and that Karla can finally have the happy family you’ve always wanted to have.”
He scoffed and stood up as well. “Just swallow some anti-depressants like you always do and go to bed, the both of you and stop putting on a show.” He said and started walking towards the stairs.
“Benson Russel!” His wife called out to him. “Don’t you dare walk away from me. Do you think this is a bluff?”
The doctor stopped and slowly turned back around. “As a matter of fact yes, I think this is all a bluff because if you really wanted to leave, you wouldn’t have waited up for me till this hour when you could have been half-way through to wherever you’re going in your heads. How much are you willing to bet that there’s actually nothing packed in those bags over there?”
Cathy’s jaw dropped in surprise. “How did you know dad?” She asked and was immediately awarded with a look of utter disappointment from her mother.
“You fool,” Mathilda said to her daughter.
“Did you actually think that you would lie to him mum?” Cathy defiantly asked her mother. “I told you this is a waste of time. I’m going to bed now. You guys sort this out yourselves.” And she dragged herself up the stairs. 
“When are you going to stop manipulating everything to your will Mathilda?” Benson asked. “If you want to leave, leave but you are not taking my daughter with you. There’s no way am going to let you turn her into something worse than she already is. that girl needs help urgently and if you searched your heart as a mother, you would support me instead of antagonizing me all the way.”
The father followed the daughter up the stairs leaving the wife standing alone in the middle of the living room, desperate tears rolling down her cheeks. Mathilda Russel had finally been cornered into a wall. 
“Alex Saunders or whatever they call you, you think you’ve won don’t you?” She said between clenched teeth and clenched fists.

On Saturday evening, Alex got off her bike to enter her apartment building after a long day at work when someone honked at her from behind. She turned in that direction to find a very familiar car parked not far from the entrance. She had just driven right passed it and had she been paying attention, she would have done everything to avoid the pending confrontation at all cost. 
Cathy opened her door and stepped out of the car, a bemused smile on her face as she walked towards Alex. 
“I heard one of your lovers got you a BMW so why in hell are you moving around on a donkey?” she kicked the bicycle with the tip of her four inch red stiletto.
“What do you want Cathy?” Alex asked, making no effort to hide her displeasure. 
“Get over yourself I am not the least bit interested in this meeting just as you are.” She retorted.
“Then what the hell are you doing here honking at me?” Alex asked.
“Since that coward friend of yours, wait, should I say step-son or lover boy?”
Alex turned her back and was ready to walk away.
“I am pregnant with his child.” Cathy loudly announced. Alex turned to find her rubbing her visibly flat belly.  “I also only found out yesterday. Am 2 months along. He won’t answer my calls and he hasn’t been at his place for a while now.”
“Could you be any more obvious Cathy?” Alex asked, not falling for the diaper news. “Say you’re pregnant and he won’t leave you. Isn’t that what all the desperate girls do to keep a man?”
“Say whatever you want but my pregnancy is arched in stone you wouldn’t rub it off even if you tried. Tony can do all the tests he wants the truth won’t change. I am pregnant and it is his child. Since I can’t deliver this news personally to him, I know that you will deliver it. Tell him I have zero intentions of getting rid of it and zero plans of raising the child alone, comprende?”
Cathy hopped back to her car, every part inch of her body exuding pride and victory. 
Alex waited for Cathy to disappear from sight before cycling to Duncan’s house where she knew Anton was hiding. 
She pressed the bell at the gate and waited for a few seconds before the gate came wide open.  This was the fifth time Alex was visiting the Schmidt residence. If she was to rank the homes of all her friends, the Schmidt’s residence came second after the Cooper’s in terms of size, class and elegance. Every time she rode her bike down the long drive way made her feel like she was Alice in Wonderland. Whereas Oliver Cooper’s home felt like home, Duncan’s home made her feel like she had just been granted access into a parallel universe and even though she was sincerely welcomed, she couldn’t help feeling like escaping any chance she got. The house was just too perfectly decorated like a five star hotel to feel like a home. Everything in it was deliberately placed and saved a specific purpose. 
But what could one expect of the number one home maker and interior décor expert in town? Alex wondered as she got off her bike and handed it over to Victor the resident valet. 
“Welcome Ms Alex.” Victor happily greeted her. It appeared he had finally come to terms with addressing her by her first name after months of negotiating even the prefix remained unchanged.
“Long time Victor, how have you been?” Alex returned the greeting. 
“Very fine thank you,” he answered. “The gentlemen are by the foyer on the East wing.” He said before disappearing. 
“It would have been shorter and quicker if I rode the bike there.” She said to herself and went round the house. 
“Alex?” Duncan jumped in his seat when Alex came through. Alex was like the younger version of his mother. He knew no other woman that would nag him into acting responsively every time he acted like a wild child. 
Anton who had been facing away from the entrance with his legs propped on the other chair quickly turned around the moment he heard Alex’s name. 
“Look at the two of you chilling out here like two old men enjoying their retirement.” Alex said as she joined them where they were seated. “I wonder what your mother would say if she received an anonymous call from someone informing her about her son’s absence from school for no apparent reason.” 
She made a move for her phone but both men were up on their feet ready to grab the phone from her. Duncan succeeded and quickly threw the phone at Anton who immediately secured it in the inside pocket of his coat. 
Alex was shaking her head slowly in disbelief. “Do you actually think that I wouldn’t reach down there to get it?” She asked Tony. 
In response, Anton slumped his head and shoulders in surrender.
“She’s right,” Duncan said in a defeated tone. “I don’t think there’s any place on my body this chick is afraid to touch, what more you?” He pointed at Anton. “You guys are worse than siblings.”
Alex laughed but Anton didn’t seem to catch the joke.
“Alex is far from being anything like a sister to me.” He said matter-of-factly. “Should I even ask how you knew I was here?” 
“I know the Schmidt’s are on vacation so what better place for you to hide out than their very high class home?” Alex said. “You are very predictable Anton, and I know you could never hide far from home no matter how bad things got.”
“See what I meant?” Duncan said.
“Shut up D!” Anton warned him.
“Fine,” Duncan raised his hands. “I’m going inside to get some more drinks. The usual for you Alex?”
“Yes Dee, thanks.” She said, making herself comfortable in her chair. “And take your time okay!” she shouted after him.
Duncan laughed. “I know exactly what that mean!” She shouted back. “Ten minutes okay?”
“Yeah!” Alex replied. 
“What is it?” Anton asked.
“What do you mean what is it?” She asked.
“I know you wouldn’t have come all the way here if you didn’t have something you urgently needed to talk to me about.”
Alex chuckled. “Your dad and I eloped.” She said.
“Please, tell me something that makes sense.” Anton said, completely unfazed by her fake news. “My dad would rather lose a leg than admit to you or to the world that he has feelings for you.”
So you know that about him? Alex thought.
“Look at you, your whole face has changed just at the mention of him. Do you like him that much?” Anton asked. “I don’t remember ever seeing you like that even though you claim to have loved me.”
“Claim?” Alex asked.
“Yes,” he said. “I just don’t get how your feelings could have shifted so fast from me to my dad. Before it could even sink in my head that you liked me more than a friend, you heart had already moved to my dad. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around that.”
“Is that why you hate me so much these days?” 
“I never said I hate you. I’m just…bitter? or should I say, disappointed?”
“Why are you disappointed?”
“Because it’s my father Alex!” Anton said. “I get it he’s a cool guy and looks younger for his age. I know you are not the type to fall for money or anything vain like that but still, he’s old enough to be your dad Alex. In fact, he’s always acted like your father all these years. When did your feelings shift really? One minute he’s the father you never had and next minute he’s the man of your dreams.”
“I too don’t know when it all changed or started.” She said. “All I know is that he was always there for me whenever something was going on in my life, more than you ever were. I guess after seeing you change girls all these years and watching you pick Cathy over me forced me face what I somehow already knew but had been avoiding to confront.”
“So are you telling me I have no chance with you?” 
Alex kept her eyes lowered, afraid to look up at him and see the hurt that she could hear in his voice. This was the long awaited conversation between the two of them. it was about time that they confronted reality as it was rather than avoid it. 
Anton sat up straight in his chair and put his hands together. “hmm Alex?” He prompted her to answer. “Have you completely erased me from your heart?”
“Anton-“ Alex searched for the right words to say but couldn’t find the right ones. Instead, she changed the topic. “I didn’t come here to talk about my love life Tony.” She said. “I had the misfortune of receiving a visit from your girlfriend some good forty or so minutes ago.”
“I thought your issues with her and her family where done yesterday. Those guys are really sick.” He said.
“That’s not why she came to see me. her visit was about you. apparently you’ve been ignoring her calls for days now.”
“And she came to you so that you do what?”
“So that I deliver this special message: she is 2 months pregnant with your child and she says she has no intentions whatsoever of getting rid of the pregnancy.”
Anton laughed. “And you believe her shit?” He asked.
“I did. Sadly, I don’t think she’s lying Tony.”
“There’s no way she can be pregnant, we were always careful.”
“How careful were you exactly?”
“I made sure she was on her pill and…ooh-“He let the sentence hang, finally realizing his error in judgement. “That bitch. How could she-“
“How could she trap you you mean?” Alex asked sarcastically. “Don’t act like you didn’t know what you were dealing with. You knew what she was but you just couldn’t resist. That’s on you Tony so don’t think about blaming her for how things turned out. You thought you could have her in one way but avoid certain parts of her?” And she laughed. “Why are men so vain when it comes to women?”
“I see you are enjoying yourself taking a selfie in front of a burning house ah.” Anton said, his face heavy with emotion. 
“I’m just trying to help you face the facts.” She said. “You always have this tendency to blame someone if things don’t go your way. So what do you plan on doing now?”
“I guess I just have to wait for the baby to be born and take a test.” He said. 
“And if the child is really yours?”
“What?” Anton glared at her. “You don’t expect me to go all mushy and say I will do the right thing by her do you? C’mon Alex you know me better than that. I will raise my child of course but I want nothing to do with the mother, period. And if she thinks she can use the child to milk money out of me, she’s got another thing coming I can promise you that.” 
Alex sighed heavily and leaned her back against the chair, head pulled back and eyes staring up to the ceiling. “How did we end up here Tony?” 
“You mean me as a father and you as my potential step-mother?” He laughed.
“None of this is funny.” She said in a very sombre tone.
“I know.” Anton said, his tone matching hers. “Sometimes I sleep hoping to wake up and find it was all just a bad dream and now there’s news of a child. How the hell do I tell the old man he’s going to be a grandfather, and to a child am having with Cathy of all people? He’s gonna kill me or knock me off the inheritance.”
“You know he cant do that.” Alex said.
“He can’t yeah but he will make sure he frustrates me enough into believing he can just to teach me a lesson.” 
Alex laughed. “You are right about that one.” 
“And yourself,” he was looking squarely at her now. Alex sat up straight to face him.
“What about me?” She asked.
“What are you going to do about my dad? You know he’s never gonna admit he likes you right?”
“Are you asking because you truly want to know or is this a way of you rubbing reality in my face?”
“After seeing the look in your eyes today, I know for a fact that I don’t stand a chance with you. Also, a huge part of me sort of understand why you fell for my dad. I think I would fall for him as well if I were a girl.”
Alex laughed and he chuckled with her.
“I’m just telling it as it is.” Anton said. “He’s a cool guy I’ll give him that but I am also going to be honest with you Alex, I can’t stand the idea of you being my step-mother. I mean, it’s you Alex! But then again, when I think about it, I ask myself questions like; do I really want to see my father spend the rest of his life alone? 
“Or, would I rather see him with another woman other than you? When I think about all the women out there, I can’t help coming to the conclusion that you would make the best wife for him. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I guess it’s one I will have to swallow since I love the both of you and I want you both to be happy.”
In all the years she had known Anton, Alex had never imagined ever having such a mature conversation with him; a conversation in which he did not put just his feelings on the table, but he considered everyone else’s feelings as well. 
“Please, don’t start crying on me now.” Anton warned her upon seeing her teary eyes.
She laughed and forced back the tears. “I am just thinking…how I wish you had said these words a few weeks ago…and, how I wish it was possible to be that kind of woman to Oliver but I have to face the fact that he doesn’t love me as much as I wish he would because if he did, none of the fears he has would matter.”
“I don’t doubt he loves you Alex.” Anton said. “I have never seen anyone rattle his world as wild as you did from the moment you confessed to him. He hasn’t been the same since. He probably, in fact, not probably, he actually thinks not being with you is the ultimate way he could ever express his love for you.
“You have to keep in mind, he’s the older guy here and you are like what, 19 years younger than him! The guy is scared you are too young and hot for him. Even folks like him have their own insecurities. Yeah he might look young for his age but the fact still remains there’s 19 years between you.
“I know that if I were him I would be worrying about you suddenly waking up one day and realizing you didn’t love me like you thought you did. Maybe you mistook fatherly love for something more. What if some young bloke comes along and sweeps you off your feet? And knowing my dad, he’s probably thinking, what if I’m too old to give her the kind of life she deserves? He’s probably thinking he will burden you or something, I know that guy.”
Alex stared in awe at her best friend. What have they done to my Tony? She couldn’t help wondering. “Who are you?” She asked him.
He laughed. “Don’t look at me like that.” He said. “I might be a little immature but I know something about men, and am an expert at knowing my father. by the way is that Sam guy still hanging around you like a leech?”
“Tony!” 
“What?” He said. “I just plain don’t like the guy. He is exactly the type of guy that all men hate. He has everything that we know women dream about. I hate him.”
Alex laughed. “That’s true.” She said, a far off expression on her face. “Then I guess that means something is wrong with me right?”
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“He’s been nothing but kind, loving and caring to me but apart from feelings of gratitude, I feel nothing more for him. He is like the dream friend I always wanted but I know it’s selfish to keep him like that because he wants and expects more. 
“You have no idea how many times I have tried to will my heart into loving him back. I keep thinking, if I can channel all these feelings I have for Oliver to this wonderful man that adores and worships me, then maybe I can breathe a little easy.”
“Isn’t life a bitch?” Anton said. “It always finds a way of screwing us over, one way or another. I don’t get how given two people, one that loves us and one that doesn’t, why do we always fall for the one that doesn’t love us back?”
“I know right?” Was all Alex could say in return just as Duncan appeared with bottles of beer in hand. 

An Untimely Love – Part 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam laughed. “Why should I leave?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex simply threw him a blank look.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are you doing?” Alex asked.

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

“No, Sam-“ She tried to protest.

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

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

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

“How did they get in?” Alex asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are you doing here?” Oliver asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oliver said nothing in return.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why, what happened?” Alex asked.

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

“Is he alone?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Does he think the same thing too?”

Alex hesitated in her response.

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

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

“Do you like him?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t!” She shouted.

“What did I say?” Oliver asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“My feelings are irrelevant at this point Lexy.”

“Not to me they aren’t!”

“Alex-“

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

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

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

“Alex!” He shouted over her sobs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dammit!” Oliver cussed out loud.

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

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

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

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

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

Kondwani’s Debt of Love – Part 17

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

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

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

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

“Says the girl who stalked her for years.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wani-“

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

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

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

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

“Don’t you think-“

“Chilu!” Kondwani yelled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

“Uhm-“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Huh?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mum!” Chilufya yelled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No I haven’t!” She said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why would you feel stupid?” Alicia asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Unfair to whom?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Exactly.” He said.

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

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

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

“What do you mean?” Kayombo asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sam-“

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

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

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

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

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

“Of course he did.” Alicia said.

“Huh?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ask me what?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Samuel told you that?” Kondwani asked.

Alicia nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

“That way,” the woman pointed behind her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you need?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kondwani’s Debt of Love – Part 16

(Still in draft – to be edited tomorrow)

Before Kondwani and Chilufya could take full grasp of what had just happened, Claudia went down, her head hitting the floor with a loud thud. Kondwani felt time and the world around him spin in slow motion. He was aware of every sound and everything around the place where his mother had just fallen, including his sister’s shriek that threatened to bring the walls around them down.

Time seemed not on Kondwani’s side as he rushed breathlessly towards his mother’s lifeless body, lifted her head up first, shouting her name and checking her pulse.

“Out of the way” Kondwani shouted at his young brother who had appeared in the room from out of nowhere looking half asleep and half in shock. Gift quickly moved aside to let Kondwani who was carrying their mother in his arms pass. Kondwani carefully laid his mother on Chilufya’s bed and went straight into doctor mode.

“What’s wrong with mum?” A visibly confused Gift asked his sister, wiping the sleep from his eyes. “Is she dead?”

Chilufya gave him a killer look and quickly turned her attention back to Kondwani who was trying to get their mother to regain consciousness.

“Why isn’t she waking up?” Chilufya asked.

“Give her a second,” Kondwani said, sounding surprisingly calm. Chilufya recognized right in that moment that it wasn’t her brother she was looking at, it was Doctor Chileshe. In the space of a few minutes, she had seen him transition from a brother to a man in-love, and from a son to a doctor.

As if she had heard her son’s voice, Claudia slowly opened her eyes.

“Mum.” Chilufya sat down next to her, grabbing her hand.

“Bring some ice Gift.” Kondwani instructed the 17 year old who was now fully awake.

“For what?” Gift asked.

Chilufya shot her brother a warning look and pushed him to the side. “I will bring it.” She told Kondwani, and turning to Gift, “Get back to your room fool!” She spat. “Let me not find you here when I return.” And she rushed out of the room.

“Go to your room.” Kondwani instructed his brother and Gift left the room without hesitation.

“What you said…” Claudia stammered as she winced in pain from the concussion she had obviously suffered.

“Mum, mum,” Kondwani said, sitting down beside her. “Relax for now and let’s talk about that when your head calms down a bit. You are lucky Chilufya’s wig cushioned your fall a bit….” He pointed to the blonde weave on the floor that Chilufya wore during some of her crazy episodes. Claudia tried to follow the direction his hand was pointing but her head would not allow her to make any movement.

Kondwani held her and kept her from making any movement. “You need to stay put for now mum.” He repeated. “And what are you doing up this time anyway?”

“Stop avoiding my question.” Claudia said. “I heard what you were talking about.”

“What do you think you heard that made you fall like that?” Kondwani played it cool. Claudia seemed confused by her son’s nonchalance.

“You said…you said that….” She kept stuttering. “I heard you say that….”

“That I wasn’t ready to introduce my girlfriend yet because her fiancé died in a road accident and I didn’t want you to be reminded of that old accident?” Kondwani asked.

Claudia appeared even more confused now. “No,” she said. “That’s not what I heard…or is it? My head is spinning. I swear that’s….”

“What’s taking Chilufya so long?” Kondwani looked out the door and just then Chilufya appeared with a pack of ice in hand.

Kondwani stood up and Chilufya sat down in his place. “Where should I place it?” She asked.

Kondwani took the pack and laid it on the side of his mother’s head. “She fell on this side so let’s keep her from swelling.” He moved to stand aside once Chilufya took over from him.

“I think the fall was harder than I imagined.” Kondwani remarked casually. “I don’t know what she thinks she heard from our conversation.”

For a second Chilufya had the same look as the one her mother had had earlier but she quickly picked up her brother’s silent cue and caught on to what he was playing after.

“She overheard us talking about my girlfriend and her late boyfriend’s accident and her thoughts went wild.” Kondwani added.

“Oh, yeah…about the accident.” Chilufya nervously chipped in, not sure what to say or what scenario her brother had already given their mother.

Claudia turned her eyes towards her daughter. “You know about that accident too?” She asked.

In response, Chilufya turned pleading eyes towards her brother, still not sure how much their mother was allowed to know.

Kondwani moved closer to their mother, hands in pockets. “She knows about your accident.” He told her. “That’s why you overheard me talking to her about my girlfriend’s issue. I needed her advice on when would be the right time to introduce you two because I didn’t want you hearing her story about how she lost her fiancé and you feeling guilty about the past since the accidents where somewhat similar.”

“What do you mean similar?” Claudia asked. “You said that man died…and now you are talking about this other man…I am confused. Who died? I thought no one died that night but-”

Kondwani laughed. “That’s what you get for walking in on other people’s conversations.”

“But I heard what you said,” Claudia insisted. “If you had called paramedics…did that man die? I thought you said he was okay.”

The fear on Chilufya’s face was enough to give them away but Kondwani somehow still managed to keep his cool. “I was talking about my girlfriend mum. The concussion has really messed up your memory. Relax for now and you will feel better in a bit.

“I still think you need a thorough examination but I need to go for work now…and you need to lie down for a while before you can make any movements.” And turning to Chilufya, “bring her to the hospital after an hour or so.”

“Wait,” Claudia tried to get up to stop Kondwani leaving but Chilufya held her down.

“Mum don’t move.” Chilufya said sternly.

“I will see you later.” Kondwani said and exited the room.

“Is it true that’s what the two of you were talking about?” Claudia turned desperate perturbed eyes to her daughter.

“Of course mum.” Chilufya tried to stifle her nervousness by laughing. “Stop thinking too much so your headache can go away.”

“When…how did you know about the accident?” Claudia asked.

“Mum!” Chilufya chided her mother. “It was a long time ago, I overheard you and Wani talking.”

“Who is this girlfriend of his he’s worried about introducing to me?”

Chilufya froze. She had not covered that part with Kondwani. What was she supposed to tell Claudia about his relationship with Alicia? Knowing her mother so well, she was going to do everything in her power to fish out the woman that had turned the heart of her son and put pressure on her to make him settle down as soon as possible.

But that woman was Alicia. She was Alicia Daka, the fiancé to the man whose life was lost as a result of the accident she caused…the man who could have lived had Kondwani done the right thing…the man whose son was now living without a father…and the man whose woman was living her life in guilt thinking herself responsible for a death she had not caused.

That was the woman her son was in-love with.

Tears welled up Chilufya’s eyes as she looked at the innocence in her mother’s eyes.

“What’s wrong with you?” Claudia’s voice was filled with concern.

Chilufya quickly cleared her throat and smiled. “I was just thinking about how happy Kondwani is right now.” Chilufya said.

“Is he that much in love with her?” Her mother asked. “Who is this girl? What’s her name? Where’s she from?”

Chilufya laughed. “You are asking too many questions mum.” She said. “Just be patient and your son will tell you on his own everything you want to know.”

“But you know her so why not just tell me?” Claudia persisted.

“I need to call my boss first and tell her I will be coming in late.” Chilufya grabbed her phone from the dresser and rushed out of the room.

And that was how she kept evading her mother’s questions; escape until she delivered her safely in the hands of Kondwani later.
Despite the walls moving in closer around him, Kondwani could not keep himself from thinking about Alicia. He had seen her only a few hours ago but he was driving to work like a mad man desperate to lay his eyes on her. It was as if the realization that she could wreck his life and break his family apart made him desire her more and more. Like a curious man standing outside a door with the words ‘do not enter’ written on it, Kondwani’s curiosity and longing for the woman whose love was like a double-edged sword kind of love grew. But even with all the excitement within his heart, two questions burnt at his heart:

how was he to love her without hurting her or those he loved? And just how much pain would their love bring?

“Where are you?” Kondwani called Alicia on her cell the moment he stepped out of the vehicle and headed towards the hospital lobby to get on the lift.

“I just got in, taking the lift up to my office.” He said whilst pressing the floor to his office inside the lift. “Come there now.” He cut the line before she could ask any questions.

Until Mrs Miti the nursing supervisor greeted him, Kondwani had been oblivious to the four other people sharing the lift with him.

“I’m fine thanks Matron.” Kondwani answered in embarrassment, avoiding the older woman’s look of disapproval. “How are you?”

“You look rather distracted today doc.” The elderly woman said. “Is everything okay?” She was the only employee at the hospital that could talk to the doctor in such a casual manner and she didn’t care whether he liked it or not. Fortunately, it was common knowledge that Kondwani had a soft spot for her.

All through the banter, Kondwani’s eyes had not moved from the changing numbers on the wall of the lift. “A bug forced its way into my system and I’m rushing to nurse it right now Matron.” He said with a hint of laughter in his voice.

The three young nurses gave each other quizzical looks while the matron’s face broke into a knowing smile. Right then, the lift came to a stop and when the doors opened, Alicia was standing on the other side.

In her haste to respond to Kondwani’s urgent call, Alicia had forgotten about the possibility of him having company in the lift. The glacial stares she received from the three nurses standing behind Kondwani were enough to freeze hell over.

“Nurse Miti….” Alicia nervously greeted her supervisor from where she was standing.

“Alicia?” Mrs Miti acknowledged her with a knowing smile just as Kondwani stepped out and without warning grabbed Alicia’s hand and led her away.

Not wanting to be the topic of discussion around the hospital, Alicia tried to free her hand from Kondwani’s grasp as she looked back towards the lift to check if the others had seen what Kondwani had just done but she caught the doors of the lift just as they were shutting.

“Behave yourself or I will kiss you right here in the open.” Kondwani threatened her as he refused to release her arm. He flung open the door to his office, pulled her in, quickly shut the door behind her and drew her against it so that her back was now one with the door, one arm pinning her arms on top of her head.

“What-“ Alicia had started to ask but the rest of her question was drowned in Kondwani’s mouth as he went in for a deep kiss, like a very starved man suddenly served with a plate of his favourite meal.

No bone in Alicia’s anatomy was strong enough to stop Kondwani and her will was too faint to force reason from her mind. Alicia reluctantly succumbed to the pleasure, dropping her arms and wrapping them around his shoulders.

“It’s all worth the pain.” Kondwani muttered when he finally released her. He took her arm, led her to the front of his desk, scooped her from off the ground and sat her on top of the desk.

“What do you mean it’s all worth the pain?” A visibly perturbed and curious Alicia asked. “Did something happen?”

Kondwani realized he had said his thoughts out loud when he heard her question. “I missed you too much I thought I was going to go crazy.” He covered his slip.

Alicia gave him a huge smile as she tried to pull her uniform up to cover three quarters of her legs that were left exposed from how she was seated.

Kondwani mockingly raised his eyebrows at her. “Isn’t it a little too late for modesty right now?” He asked, deliberately pushing her skirt back up.

“You scared me on the phone earlier.” Alicia said, grabbing hold of his hands to stop him from running his fingers up and down her legs. “You sounded like-“

“What did I sound like?” Kondwani asked, a smile playing on his face.

“Serious,” Alicia replied. “You sounded very serious.”

Looking at Alicia sitting there in front of him, Kondwani silently wondered how she had the ability to drive all other thoughts out of his mind so that he could only think of her and him in the moment. He knew she would be the death of him and he was well aware of how much hurt he was causing her but losing her seemed to be the most paramount fear of them all. For years he had dedicated his whole life to taking care of his family and this was the only time his heart was taking a break so why should he be scared of losing this happiness even before he got to experience or indulge in it?

“Do you know that I love you with every fibre of my being Alicia Daka?” Kondwani asked as he looked directly into her eyes.

Alicia’s face turned red. “Is that the same look you have in your eyes when you tell women that?”

“What look?” He asked.

“That one.” She said.

“You mean this one?” Kondwani put his hand behind her neck and drew her close to his face, his eyes unflinchingly glued on hers.

As if possessed by some unknown spirit, Alicia surprised Kondwani when she grabbed the sides of his face and went straight for his lips.

“What was that for?” a very pleased Kondwani asked when she released him.

“You are a very beautiful man.” Alicia said, blushing profusely.

“And I thought you were a shy girl.”

“Me too.” She laughed.

“I like this feisty new you…but I also like the shy and timid Alicia. Remember how she desperately tried to hide her feelings for me?” He was busy searching every inch of her face as he talked. Alicia covered her face with her hands in embarrassment.

Kondwani took both her hands into his and drew them to his mouth and laid a kiss on them. “I think I have just lost my mind.”

“Who said there’s anything normal about falling in-love?” Alicia asked. “My mind has been telling me to run as far away from you as possible but look where I am right now?”

“Aren’t you scared I will hurt you?” Kondwani asked. “You know I have done nothing but break women’s hearts ever since I can remember.”

Alicia said nothing in response. Instead, her eyes spoke for her. She had lowered her gaze and fixed it on her hands as if to avoid looking at Kondwani.

“My gosh!” Kondwani said. “Do you actually think I would-“

“I think that there’s something you’re keeping from me.” Her sudden serious tone of voice and the deep look in her eyes caught Kondwani unawares. “Is there something you are not telling me?” the imploring look in her eyes was enough to drive Kondwani’s guilty mind into overdrive.

“What makes you think that?” A flustered Kondwani asked, his eyes looking everywhere but at her.

“See, even now.” Alicia said. “You are avoiding my gaze.”

Kondwani took a deep breath, shut is eyes for a few seconds and when he turned his head, he opened his eyes and was looking directly at her. “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?”

“Now you’re scaring me.” Alicia straightened her back and was looking at Kondwani with deeply perturbed eyes. “What are you keeping from me that could cause us to break apart?”

“It’s just a rhetoric question baby.” Kondwani said. “But, haven’t you ever kept something from someone because you are afraid of what it would do to them…and to you if the truth ever came out?”

“No.” She answered simply.

“Seriously?” He asked.

She shrugged her shoulders and repeated, “No.”

“What is a woman like you doing with someone like me?” Kondwani asked.

“Why do you make yourself sound like such a terrible person?” Alicia asked. “Of course you aren’t perfect but c’mon…no one on the face of the earth is perfect, including me.”

“Don’t ever think of me as an abnormal man Licia.” Kondwani said. “Just think of me as a man so foolish in-love he can’t think rationally…cause when the day comes when you realize just how imperfect I am…I will need you to remember just how abnormal I am and just how much you mean to me.

“When that time comes, please, I beg of you, you can hate me as much as you want…I won’t even ask for your forgiveness on that day but just please…don’t run away from me.”

“You do know that you’re freaking me out right now ah?” Alicia said. “I will keep imagining all sorts of things. Is Gwen’s child yours? Or are you married to someone else secretly? Do you have kids out there? Or, what else, perhaps, did you kill someone?”

Kondwani choked on his saliva from the unexpectedness of the question.

“Are you okay? Did I scare you that much?” She was trying to examine his face but Kondwani had his hand over his mouth to keep from spitting. “I was only joking. My gosh, I don’t even know why I asked something like that. Are you okay baby?”

“I’m okay.” Kondwani said. “You just caught me off-guard with your question.”

“I think I need to get back to work now.” Alicia tried to get away from him but Kondwani wrapped his arms around her waist.

“Not yet.” He said.

“I think everyone by now must have received the big news from the three big giant mouths in the elevator and they can’t wait to chew me out.” Alicia sighed heavily and dropped her head resignedly.

Kondwani laughed. “Now you’ve finally given them a reason to hate you.”

“Why do I get the feeling that you are enjoying my misery?” Alicia asked.

“Why would you even say something like that?” Kondwani tightened his grip around her. “I’m so thrilled that everyone knows you’re mine, finally!”

Alicia laughed. “What?”

“You think I don’t know about every guy, nurse, or doctor that’s been after you since you came? I know everything that goes on in this place. I own the place my love!”

“You are shamelessly such a brag Dr Chileshe you know that?” Alicia’s voice was filled with laughter.

“So I’ve been told.” Kondwani proudly said and lifted her up into the air.

***

Stephen Malambo took the stairs leading up to his room on campus two at a time, anxious to reach and eat something before his next class. He was about to bust the door open when he remembered that his roommate Damian had recently started dating Mwansa’s roommate Febby. The thought of Febby in his room brought Stephen’s adrenaline to a double zero.

What the hell was Damian thinking dating a blubber mouth like her? Stephen thought as he stood by the door. He could hear voices coming from inside and could tell right away who the owner of that frosty laugh was.

“What do you think Steve will do if he learns about Belinda’s pregnancy?” Stephen heard Damian ask Febby.

Pregnancy? Stephen wondered. Belinda is pregnant!

“What do you mean what will he do?” Stephen heard Febby ask. “You better not say anything to him otherwise Mwansa will kill me!”

“You mean Mwansa knows?” Damian asked.

“Of course not.” Febby answered. “And it should stay that way because the moment she discovers that I am the one behind the abortion news, I will be a corpse.”

Stephen flung the door open. “Abortion?”

Febby and Damian both sat up straight on the bed, both at a loss for words.

“What abortion are you talking about Febby?” Stephen asked. “Belinda isn’t that sort of girl why are you spreading such stories about her?”

“Hey mate relax.” Damian tried to calm his friend down. Stephen looked about ready to blow over.

“Don’t tell me to relax Damian.” Stephen snapped. “Why’s your girlfriend talking about my girl like that?”

“Your girl?” Febby raised both her eyebrows at him. “Did you just hear yourself? Your girl?”

Stephen realized his mistake a little too late. He sighed heavily and ran a hand through his head.

“Umhu.” Febby shot him a look. “I think you forgot that I am Mwansa, your girlfriend’s friend. Belinda is not your girl any more. She is your ex.”

“I know, I know.” Stephen said. “Just a slip of the tongue. But still, it doesn’t change how I feel about the things you were saying about her.”

“Nothing I said was a lie, well, at least I didn’t make it up.” Febby explained. “My cousin works as a receptionist at this fancy private hospital and she said she saw Belinda go in for a check-up some time back and-“

“Some time back?” Stephen asked. “When some time back?”

“When you two were-“ A very reluctant Febby was saying.

“That’s impossible. Belinda would have told me something like that. If your cousin is anything like you…which seems to be the obvious case.” Stephen added under his breath. “I think she mistook Belinda for someone else.”

“I don’t know,” Febby said. “Maybe. But why don’t you ask Belinda yourself?”

“Hey man, I don’t think that that’s such a good idea.” Damian said, getting up from thebed to stand next to him. “And if it turns out to be the truth, what are you going to do? I know you man….”

“Mwansa isn’t going to like that.” Febby reminded him.

“But I can’t just sit here and pretend as if I didn’t hear anything.” Stephen argued. “If there’s any truth to what you said, then there must be a reasonable explanation which means Belinda owes me an explanation. I’m going to see her right now.”

“No Steve!” Both Febby and Damian said at once as Damian tried to stop him by the door but Stephen pushed his hand aside and stormed out of the room.

“Aren’t you going to stop him?” Febby asked her boyfriend who was just standing there aimlessly.

“And after I stop him?” Damian asked. “You know Steve very well, he never changes his mind once it’s made up.”

“Oh am so dead.” Febby lamented as thoughts of what Mwansa was going to do to her played through her mind. She had just blown open a can of worms she had no means whatsoever of containing.
Stephen remembered Belinda’s timetable so well and he knew that she had no classes that day, meaning, if she was not in the library studying, she was at home with her family.

“Where are you?” Was the first question he asked the moment Belinda picked up his call.

“At home. Steve?” Belinda checked the name on her screen and put the phone back to her ear.

“Come outside the gate in thirty minutes. I’m on my way.” He said.

“What? You mean…hello?” Belinda hear the line cut before she could finish talking and checked the screen again. Stephen had indeed cut the line.

“Who was that?” Joseph had stopped watching whatever was showing on the History Channel and was looking at his daughter with suspicious interest.

“It’s nobody dad.” Belinda answered absent-mindedly, her mind playing all the possibilities behind Steve’s unexpected call and desperate tone. Completely oblivious to her father, Belinda stood up and went to her bedroom where she called her sister.

“Steve just called.” Belinda said.

“Haven’t you guys been chatting on and off lately?” Alicia asked. She was aware of her sister’s feelings towards her ex-boyfriend. Despite everything the two of them had been through, it appeared Belinda could not erase him from her heart.

“Yes, via text, on WhatsApp.” Belinda replied. “But he has never called me before! This is the first time. What do you think he wants to talk about sis? My heart is racing right now. I can’t think straight.”

Alicia laughed. “Relax Linda.” She said. “Maybe he just missed you, or there’s something related to school he wants to talk to you about. Or maybe, he had a fight with his girlfriend and just wants to vent to someone familiar.”

“So how should I act around him?” Belinda asked.

“Normal.” Alicia chuckled. “Just be yourself. I’m sure everything will be just fine. Relax. I gotto go sis, I think someone is looking for me. I’ll call you back.”

The moment she was done with the call, Belinda went outside to wait for Stephen who appeared twenty minutes later.

Without getting out of the car, he reached over and open the passenger door for her. “Get in.” He said to her.

Belinda looked confused but she still walked over to the car. “Where are we going?” She asked through the window. “Is everything okay? You look like-“

“There’s something you and I need to talk about and my natural guess is that you wouldn’t want us talking about it here.” He’s emphasis on the two words immediately alerted Belinda of exactly what he was there to talk about…and why he appeared so distraught. Without saying a word, she silently got into the car and Stephen drove off.

“Is it true what I heard?” Stephen asked the moment he found somewhere safe and private to park.

Belinda could not look at him, instead she kept her gaze lowered. “I don’t understand-“

“At first I thought it was just some big misunderstanding.” Stephen said. “But I saw the look in your eyes back there and it confirmed everything. I think I would feel much more insulted if you decided to keep me in the dark any further.”

Immediately, tears started pouring from Belinda’s eyes.

Stephen took that as confirmation of his worst fears. “My gosh Linda!” he banged his hand against the steering wheel.

“I didn’t know what else to do!” She cried.

“But abortion Linda?”

“I know.”

“Couldn’t you have at least-“

“How could I Steve!?” Belinda sobbed. “You changed so fast and I was still struggling when I discovered I was up. I did the only thing I thought was the best solution. Of course I regret it now….I was desperate, and foolish. I didn’t think. It all happened so fast.”

“My gosh Belinda…gosh.” He kept hitting the steering wheel. “You could have just told me.”

“What do you think you would have done Steve?” She asked. “You were suddenly all holy and you didn’t want to have anything to do with me. You made me feel like I was the devil himself…like you were afraid I would taint you with my evil ways or something.”

“C’mon Linda.” Ste[hen said.

“You know am saying the truth. If I came to you and told you I was pregnant, you would have just thought I was trying to tie you down…and my pride wouldn’t let me have you look at me like that.”

“But abortion sure? That’s one sin on top of a sin.” He said.

“See already? I can feel the judgement in your voice.” She said.

“It’s not that.” Stephen relaxed his tone. “I’m just saying that maybe if we had put our heads together, we could have avoided making a second mistake. Don’t get me wrong, I am as guilty of this as you are.

“If anything, I am the greater sinner here. I should have never out you in such a position in the first place…. To think that you went through all that alone…my God. I feel like my head is going to explode.”

“I’m so sorry Steve.” Belinda cried.

“I can’t believe am being such a jerk.” Stephen said, lifting up his head to look at her. “Come here….” He pull her closer to him and wrapped his arms around her. “I am so sorry Linda. Please forgive me for being such a jerk.”

Belinda could feel him pushing back the tears. “You don’t have to apologize,” she said. “You have the right to be upset.”

“No, not that.” Stephen quickly corrected her. “I’m sorry for not being there for you…for not loving you right and for disrespecting you as a woman. I should have protected you instead of hurting you like that.”

Belinda was at a loss for words, his comforting words catching her by surprise. She had expected him to make her feel ashamed and judged but his reaction was the complete opposite.

“Let’s get married.” Stephen said, still holding her in his arms.

Belinda leapt out of his embrace and starred at him. “What did you just say?”

“I said let’s get married.” He repeared.

“Are you kidding me? Why would you ask me such a thing?”

“What’s wrong with me asking you to marry me? I love you, I have never stopped loving you.”

“I don’t want you marrying me out of guilt.” Belinda said. “There’s no different between this and a man asking a girl he’s impregnated to marry him. It’s got nothing to do with love. I refuse to be some form of responsibility to you Steve, you don’t owe me anything.”

Stephen laughed. “Did you even hear what I said?” he asked. “I said I never stopped loving you silly.”

Belinda gaped at him. “What?”

“I am still in-love with you Belinda. My proposal has nothing to do with whatever sense of responsibility you are thinking about. I would have asked to marry you in future…only that this development has quickened things.”

“But you have a girlfriend.”

“I already broke up with Mwansa but she has refused to accept reality. I have already made my feelings known to her…maybe in due time she will accept things and move on.”

“Why did you break up with her?” Belinda asked.

“I can’t go into details but we fought all the time and she just couldn’t seem to trust me, no matter how much I tried. I even seen enemies get along well than she and I ever did. I realised I was grasping at straws after bumping into you at Aunt Mary’s place.

“I was like a mad man after that. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. You looked different, more beautiful…and very mature. There was no trace of the wild girl I used to pass out with or smoke weed behind the club with. I got curious about you…like I was meeting you for the very first time.”

“Steve-“ It was all Belinda could say in that moment.

“Don’t get me wrong, I loved Mwansa…but as you must know, sometimes you need more than love to make a relationship work.”

“I know that very well.” Belinda said. “Which is why am wondering why you would want us to get back together…let alone marry.”

“We were two very wrong people together back then and we had fun dating…so, how about we try doing things the right way this time around? We have both changed, a lot during the past months. I can’t see myself spending the rest of my life with anyone else but you.”

“What about our families?” Belinda asked. “We are already related through Buseko. Won’t that-“

“All am hearing is you thinking up all sorts of excuses why we can’t work. Can you leave me to deal with such trivialities?”

“This is all too sudden Steve….”

“I know.” He said. “But we are going to make this work Linda, I promise you.”
The hospital was buzzing with activity as Alicia took the lift down to the lobby. The message from the intercom said someone was looking for her downstairs so she kept wondering during the ride down who the unexpected guest could be. Only her father and Belinda had ever visited her at work since she started interning there and they always called before coming. More so, she was on the phone with Belinda when the announcement came through.

When the lift finally came to a stop and the doors opened, Alicia stepped out and was immediately accosted by a woman with a face she had seen many times before in Kondwani’s office.

The woman pulled her to the side, away from everyone’s eyes. “You must be Alicia right?” She asked, her eyes beaming with hope.

It was Mrs Chileshe, Kondwani’s mother.