A Twisted Fate – Part 2

“What the hell are you doing at your boss’ house at this time of the night?” Luyando asked Natasha.

“Obviously nothing close to what you are just from doing…to your brother.” She said with a taunting smile on her face. “Relax Tula,” She said to Tulani, inviting herself into the house and patting him on the shoulder.” I totally understand whatever is going on here; it appears your married sister, is in-love with you.”

“I knew I was going to hate you the moment I laid my eyes on you.” Luyando said curtly.

Natasha laughed. “The feeling is mutual Lu…I can call you Lu now since we are not at the office right? You are after all my ex-boyfriend’s sister.”

“Ex-boyfriend?” Luyando looked to her brother for confirmation.

The proud grin on Tulani’s face confirmed her worst fears.

Tulani had not expected Natasha to be the first one to reveal their romantic past, especially in such a bold manner. He still had nightmares about their last encounter in San Francesco…the cold and unflinching conviction in her eyes when she told him she wouldn’t be seeing him anymore.

Natasha turned to Luyando. “I would like to have a private conversation with your brother. Do you mind leaving us alone?”

Without uttering another word, Luyando grabbed her purse from the couch and stormed out of the house, banging the glass door on her way out.

With his hands in his pockets, Tulani went to position himself in front of Natasha, and looking into her eyes he said;

“Ex-boyfriend? I didn’t think I counted as an ex. I thought I was just some fling you couldn’t wait to get rid of…something to keep you company while you waited for your husband to set himself straight.”

“That’s unfair Tula,” Natasha said, moving away from him so he could not see her reaction.

“I still remember every single detail of that day Tasha.” He said. “I can even recite the words you said in my sleep.”

He was looking at her back while she looked out the window into the darkness outside.

“I am getting back with my husband, I am very sorry Tula.” She had told him whilst crying.

“You can’t be serious!” Tulani had snapped. “That bastard cheated on you for two years and he is as responsible for your daughter’s death as the man that bashed her outside that school.”

“Stop it Tula!” She had shouted at him. “Stop it!”

“You need to hear this Tasha. It doesn’t make sense that you would go back to the man that hurt you like that. He was screwing another woman while his daughter, your daughter was lying dead on some street somewhere. Your daughter died whilst looking for him on that street Tasha but where was he?”

Unable to bear the pain of his words anymore, Natasha slapped him hard across the face before running out of the restaurant.

“It still stings you know, your slap?” Tulani said to Natasha who still had her back to him. He was caressing his cheek where she had slapped him four years ago.

Natasha slowly turned to face him. “You deserved to be slapped that day you know.”

“I know,” he admitted. “I had gone overboard in my anger…I guess I was just too hurt to think rationally…but there’s no excuse for the awful things I said to you. I am sorry Tasha…I know it’s late but, I apologize.”

“It’s all in the past,” she said, moving towards the sofa and tracing her fingers over the edges as she moved about the room. “You have a beautiful home…as expected.”

“What are you doing here Tasha?” He had walked over to her and held her by the sides of her arms to keep her from moving.

“Do you not want me here Tula?” She asked him, looking straight into his eyes.

“I do, of course I do! Gosh, is that even a question?” He drew her closer to him and wrapped his arms around her.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Natasha said, pushing him away to take a seat on the couch.

“You haven’t stopped with your teasing I see.” Tulani went to sit down next to her. “Something tells me you are here for a reason. The Natasha I know wouldn’t have just popped up at my door unannounced the way you did. Is everything okay?”

Natasha laughed. “Of course everything’s fine. How come you never told me you were once married?”

“Oooh,” he said.

“Did you just say ooh?”

“I apologize, again. I didn’t think it mattered. I was married to Cynthia for only about a year when we decided to go our separate ways. I had been single for over two years when I met you in San Francisco.”

“I see.”

Tulani turned to fully look at her. “You came to my house at this hour to ask about my marriage?”

“You know how I am already,” she answered. “If something is bothering me, I can’t sleep till I get it out or solve it.”

“So you were bothered by it?” He asked. “Do you even know the meaning of your words Tasha?” There was a huge grin on his face as he watched the flashed expression on her face.

He lifted her chin up so she could not avoid his gaze. “When are you going to stop fighting your feelings and just admit that you love me too?”

She tried to get away from him again but he tightened his grip on her arms.

“I only came here to ask a question and since you answered it, I better be on my way now.” She tried to get up, again….but she failed, again.

“Ask me anything you are curious about and I will answer it as honestly as possible.” He said.

“Why did you break up with your wife?” She asked.

“You went straight for the big one!” He said and laughed. “I guess I asked for it. Cynthia and I were at two different points in our lives. I was very young when we got married…just like you and your ex-husband.

“She wanted us to start a family right after the wedding but I was only twenty-three then and certainly not ready to start a family yet. But Cynthia was very determined and wouldn’t stop pressuring me throughout our marriage. I snapped one day and asked her for a divorce.”

“And she gave you one just like that?” Natasha asked.

“Of course not,” he replied. “She fought me all the way to court, said she wanted half my property and that’s when I realized she never really loved me. She was too quick to bring up the money the moment I mentioned divorce.

Most women would beg for a second chance to try and work things out but not Cynthia. She looked me in the eye and told me she was gonna get me for every penny I owned.”

“And did she?”

Tulani laughed. “Of course not, I didn’t have anything to my name at that time. Everything I had belonged to my parents; the money, the cars, and the houses. Oooh…she was not pleased.” He broke out in laughter.

“She attacked me at the club once and threatened to chop my manhood into pieces, said I had deceived her into believing I was rich. I did no such thing. She naturally assumed my parent’s money was as good as mine but she was dead wrong.”

“So what are your thoughts on kids now? Do you still feel like you are not ready?” Natasha held her breath as she waited to hear his response.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “I have never really thought about it. Do you want kids Tasha? Because if you do, then I am open to start considering it.”

“Start considering it?”

“You seem dissatisfied with my answer,” he said. “I promised to be as honest as possible with you. Would you have rather I lied?”

“Of course not.” Natasha stood up. “I am happy you answered me honestly.”

“Your tongue is saying something else but your eyes are telling me something else….”

Natasha chuckled nervously. “You are thinking too much Tula. I need to leave now, my parents will be worried if am home late on the first day of work.” she started walking towards the door.

Tulani got up and rushed to the door before she reached it. “I have a feeling I just shot myself in the leg but I am not yet sure why that could be the case.” He was standing against the door to keep her from leaving before he was ready to let her go.

“I told you, you think too much. I guess am just tired. It’s been a while since I worked…two months I think. My brain must be in shock since it was stretched too much today.” And to distract him from asking any more questions, she planted a light kiss on his cheek and said goodnight.

“You know exactly what to do to get your way with me Tasha.” He moved away to allow her to pass. “You are the only woman who has such a power over me you know that?” He said as he walked her to her car.

“There’s really no need for you to escort me, I can take care of myself.” Natasha said.

“Oh yeah, I remember the kick you landed on my balls when I tried to chat you up at my welcome party in SanFran. Gosh, where did you learn to kick like that?”

They had reached her car by now but she stopped to answer his question before opening the door.

“My mother, she made me take martial arts classes and all other types of defensive classes to protect myself. My mother believes that a woman does not need a man to make her feel secure. She says sometimes the very people we trust to protect us are the ones that might end up hurting us.”

“Your mother is a very wise woman…but tell her to lighten up a bit.” Tulani said.

Natasha laughed. “That’s exactly what I always tell her.” She then opened her door and sat behind the wheel.

Rolling down her window, she said, “I forgot to ask you something….”

“What is it?” Tulani said.

“Do your parents know….about your sister’s feelings?”

“Oh no…they have no idea and,” he came to stand closer to her, his body leaning against the car with his head tilted forward into the car. Natasha had to draw her head away to keep his from bumping into her.

“…if you were anyone else,” Tulani continued. “I would ask that you don’t tell anyone about what you heard and saw today.”

Natasha chuckled. “You trust me that much?”

“I do. I guess you’ve already heard the rumours concerning Lu and me….”

“That you are not biologically related?”

“Yes,” he said. “That may be the case but that doesn’t change her position in my family and in our hearts. I love her like I would a blood sister. I don’t care what biology dictates, Luyando will always be my sister.”

“I don’t think the issue has got anything to do with biology Tula. If anything, I think Luyando would like it better if you didn’t love her like that.”

“Luyando isn’t in-love with me,” Tulani said with a sombre expression on his face. “Somewhere along the way she started to confuse my kindness for something else…and who can blame her?

“Before she came into our lives, she had lived a very sorry and bitter life and she had no idea what kind of love or care she could receive from people she considered family since she had been emotionally and physically abused by her father.”

“Her father abused her?” Natasha asked. “What kind of abuse?”

“Everything you can think of, that girl went through.” Tulani answered. “Child abuse, violence, rape….”

“Rape!?” Natasha gasped. “Her own father did that to her?”

“Yes. After my parents officially adopted her, she had to undergo years of counselling because of the nightmares she would have about her father. Up until she was about thirteen years old was when my mother stopped sleeping in her room. She would wake up crying and screaming in the middle of the night.

“I know it sounds crazy now but…there were moments when I thought my parents cared more about her than they did me but I later understood that she needed all the care she could get in the world. So when you see her acting out or being nasty, try to understand her. She’s been through a lot.”

“I really had no idea….” Natasha said.

“No one knows that’s why it’s easy for them to spread rumours. I told you about it because I intend to make you a part of my family, soon.”

“Good night Tula. See you tomorrow at work…and thank you for telling me.”

“Good night my love, see you tomorrow and say hi to your parents for me.”

Natasha made a throaty sound and rolled up the window before driving off.

Tulani remained standing on spot waving at her until her vehicle disappeared from sight. 

“I’m home!” Natasha announced the moment she opened the door and entered the house.

“Mum is home!” shouted the four year old boy as he ran towards his mother. Before Natasha could put down her handbag, her son had wrapped his little arms around her legs in excitement and almost made her lose her balance.

“Oh my God you are soaking wet Sean!” She said, bending down to lift him up into her arms. “What were you doing?”

“I was setting up the laundry in the basement when your mother called me for something upstairs….” Bernard appeared from where Sean had come from. “When I went back, I found this little man here had put his hands where they didn’t belong.”

“That’s because grandpa doesn’t want to teach me how to use the machine so I can do my own laundry,” Sean complained.

“Look at you complaining like someone infringed on your rights,” Natasha laughed and put him back down. Sean was out of the room and back into the basement the moment his feet landed on the ground.

“That boy will be the death of me dad,” she said. “Now look what he’s done to my clothes.” She was pointing at the stains Sean had left on her white blouse.

Bernard laughed. “He is the light of our lives but he can be quite a handful sometimes. How was your first day at work honey?” He sat down on the couch and turned down the volume on the tele so he could have a good conversation with his daughter.

Natasha went to sit down next to him. She grabbed a small cushion from the sofa, laid it on his laps and resting her head there, stretching her long legs forward.

“Look at the two of you,” Martha came down the stairs bearing a huge smile on her face as she looked at her husband and daughter cosying up on the sofa.

“Sit over there mother,” Natasha pointed to the couch across from them. “Dad is mine for now. He’s helping me de-stress, I had such a rough day at work.” Her father was massaging the sides of her forehead.

“Already?” Martha asked, ignoring her daughter’s words and going to take a seat on the same sofa. She lifted her daughter’s legs up, sat down and put them back on her laps, massaging them a little, up and down.

“When I tell my friends that I have the best parents in the world, they think I’m lying. Oooh that feels so good. I think I am going to sleep here tonight.” She closed her eyes to enjoy the massage. “Alex would feel so jealous if he walked in here and saw this. He is such a mama’s boy.”

“And you are such a papa’s girl,” her mother said. “Did you talk to your brother today?”

“Not yet,” Natasha said. “I will call him before going to bed. God knows what he’s up to alone over there. Remind him about using condoms again dad. That boy is too excited for nothing.”

Bernard laughed. “All boys are like that at that age sweetie. He will calm down with time.”

“What if it’s too late?” Natasha asked. “He’s so obsessed with older women that child. At least if they were younger, we wouldn’t have to worry about them ovulating nd turning their eggs into relatives of ours.”

Bernard lightly patted her forehead and forced her to sit up. “Get up and tell us about your day and stop making trouble for your brother.”

Not happy that her relaxation therapy was cut short, Natasha mumbled something under her breath in protest and sat up between her parents. “It wasn’t that bad actually,” she said.

“I thought that it wouldn’t be as busy as it was in San Francisco but its crazy busy as well. I think people in this country care more about political drama than anything else. Eighty-nine percent of the news content is just politics, politics, politics. I am yet to decide if that’s a good thing or not….”

“How about your co-workers, were they friendly?” Her mother asked.

“Yes, everyone was friendly,” She lied. Natasha knew that telling her mother about the antagonistic and villain-like Luyando would only make her have unnecessary worries. “I know it’s just the first day but I think people aren’t as scheming as they were back home.”

“So when are you going on air?” Bernard asked.

“Next week, I still have to get inducted into the system and see how everything works before I can go live.”

“Do you think you will like it here?” Martha asked. “Aren’t you going to regret leaving your life behind?”

Natasha took her mother’s hand and kept holding it until she finished talking. “You worry too much mother. I am going to be just fine. You are the one who always told me that if I had to suffer or die, it was better to be amongst my people…but I am not suffering anymore and I didn’t leave my life behind, I came with it here.

“I have made some wild and childish decisions in the past but I want to give my son the life that he deserves. I am done being a coward.”

“So when do you plan on….”

Natasha stood up and held her hand up to keep her father from finishing his sentence. “I know what you want to ask but, not just yet…but soon.”

“We trust you Tasha,” he said. “We know you are going to do the right thing.”

“We do,” her mother agreed.

“I am hungry now, is there anything to eat?” She started walking towards the kitchen. “I swear I could smell something delicious…something Chinese when I walked into the house.” She started opening pots.

Bernard got up and followed his daughter into the kitchen.

“Dad you didn’t!” She finally spotted an already served dish covered at the far end of the table, removed the cover and carried it to her nose to take in the aroma.

“I thought you deserved a treat of your favourite after your first day at work.” Bernard said, looking with such pride in his eyes at his daughter salivating over the meal he had prepared for her.

“Beef and Black Bean Ho Fun, you rock dad!” She put the plate back down and went to kiss him on the forehead. “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Smiling, Bernard pulled his daughter away and said, “go upstairs and freshen up while I warm this up for you.”

“What about you guys?” She asked.

“Did you even see what time it is?” Her mother had joined them in the kitchen.

“Oh yeah!” Natasha remembered the unexpected stop she had made to Tulani’s house.

“Go take a shower and I will take care of Sean before he catches a cold.” Martha said.

Natasha went to her mother and repeated the very things she had done to her father. “I love you, I love you, I love you!”

“You are leaving saliva all over me,” Martha protested with a smile on her face as she pushed her daughter away. “Go and take a shower.”

“I think she’s happy,” Bernard commented after Natasha left the room. “Do you think she’s happy?”

Martha was shaking her head slowly. “I think something is bothering her…but you are right, she is a lot happier than she was a few months ago.”

Alone in the bathroom, Natasha was happily humming an old tune and enjoying her shower when she suddenly stopped and stood still. With only the sound of the shower running, Natasha bent down her head under the shower and allowed the water to fall straight onto the centre of her head, sending her hair falling on all side of her face.  

She stood like that for close to five minutes, neither humming nor moving. When she finally lifted her head up, it was to tilt it back, away from the water.

Her tears had become one with the water cascading down her cheeks.

* * *

On her drive to work the next morning, Natasha’s mind went back to the conversation she had had with Tulani about Luyando. She was still thinking about it when she ran into her in the corridor at work.

“Good morning Mrs Liboma,” Natasha greeted the CFO.

“What did you call me?” Luyando came to stand right in front of Natasha, her much taller frame towering over her and her glare raining down on her in bundles of intimidation.

Unfortunately, Natasha appeared unfazed by her boss’ domineering presence. “I don’t know about the culture here in Zambia but where I come from, it’s disrespectful to address a married woman as a Ms especially when it’s common knowledge that she’s married…with a child.”

“You think that just because you grabbed hold of my Achilles heel then you can talk to me whichever way you want?” Luyando asked.

Natasha snickered and raised her head to look up at her. “Between you and me, who do you think is treating the other in the manner you just described?”

“If you want to keep your job here you need to keep your mouth shut and you need to stay away from my brother.”

“If you are referring to the things I heard last night, you don’t have to worry about that. Tulani already explained to me what’s going on and I care a lot about him to dish out his family secrets to the public.

“Secondly, no, I will not stay away from Tulani. No threat is enough to defeat the forces of nature that bind him and I, forever. See you around Mrs Liboma.”

Back in her office, Natasha opened her bag to get the flash drive containing the documents she had been working on at night but she couldn’t find it. She searched through her laptop bag, and every inch of her desk but there was still no sign of it.

“Don’t tell me I left it at home.” She said to herself, picking up the phone to call home.

“Mum, it’s me. Can you do me a favour?”

“What is it honey?” her mother asked.

“Go into my room and check on my desk if I left a blueish flash drive?”

“Okay, hold on.” Natasha waited while her mother walked upstairs.

“Is it the one with the bird key holder attached to it?” Martha asked.

“Yes, yes that’s the one! Oh, thank God, I thought I lost it. Listen mum, can you bring it here for me? I really need those files in there for a very important meeting this afternoon.”

There was a pause on the other end of the line.

“Mum!” Natasha yelled, thinking her mother was not paying attention.

“I’m sorry baby I was thinking.” She said. “You know I have to take Sean to the hospital today before that cold gets worse. Why don’t I ask your dad to bring it for you? He’s busy working on one of his many personal projects in the back yard. He could sure use some fresh air.”

Natasha couldn’t help feeling a little envious of her parents who were both retired and living their lives at ease doing all the things they dreamt about doing when they used to work. Now they no longer had to worry about deadlines and responsibilities.

Martha and Bernard’s dream in Lusaka was to set up a small furniture shop where Bernard would sell the pieces of furniture he made as a hobby and Martha would sell some home decorating items she enjoyed making in her free time….which she had a lot of now.

The two of them planned on having a life different from the hectic one they had had in America when all they cared about was saving enough and giving their children the very best.

After talking to her mother, Natasha remembered the strenuous security procedure she had been subjected to the previous day and called security to inform them of her father’s visit.

She got a call an hour later and took the lift down to meet him by the reception lounge.

On the second floor, another person in the form of Luyando joined her in the lift.

“Which floor?” Natasha asked her.

Luyando looked at the numbers on the lift and noticed that they were headed the same way, and so, she remained quiet.

Natasha pursed her lips in response to the arrogance of her counterpart. There was an awkward glacial silence in the lift during the short trip down that ended up feeling like the longest trip of their lives. When the elevator door finally opened, Natasha ran out and went in search of her father in the lobby.

“Dad!” She shouted the moment she spotted him a few feet away even though he had his back to her.

Bernard turned the moment he heard his daughter’s voice and smiled in her direction, waving the flash drive in his hands.

Curious about the sort of family her nemesis came from, Luyando stopped midway before she could get to the security point on her way out to take a look at the family show taking place on the other side of the lobby.

However, the moment Luyando’s eyes landed on Bernard, she froze in horror for a second before quickly turning around and going to hide behind a wall.

With only the receptionist and the two guards waiting by the entrance in the lobby, Luyando was lucky enough not to have an audience in her moment of weakness. She was shaking and panting, almost out of breath.

“It can’t be,” Luyando kept repeating as she watched the two from behind the wall.

“This is one hell of a building Tasha,” Bernard was saying, his eyes taking in every corner of the place.

“I knew you would love it dad,” Natasha said excitedly. “Only you would understand the beauty of such a place. Don’t you miss this kind of world?”

“Of course I do,” he said. “But I don’t regret retiring.  I enjoyed my work as an architect and I still feel the same way when I see the buildings I designed and helped build still standing firm and beautiful. It’s like I haven’t really left that world.”

“How about you build something even more beautiful than this building here in your homeland dad?” She locked her arm into his and the two of them stood starring at a picture of the building they were standing in plastered on the wall ahead.

“You think so?” Bernard asked, excitement filling his eyes. “Do you think your mother would let me?”

“Of course she will! She always said you looked most dashing and handsome when you were working in your studio.”

“How about I build the home where you can live with your husband and….”

Natasha moved to put her hand over her father’s mouth. “Dad!” She whispered. “What if someone hears you? I haven’t told anyone…you know….”

“Oh yeah,” Bernard said. “My bad, sorry sweetie.”

“I wish I could take you on a tour of the place but I also don’t know the place well enough yet. How about we arrange a date for the future?”

“I’m cool with that,” Bernard said. “Get back to work now.” He placed a kiss on her forehead.

“Do you think you can find your way out?” Natasha was looking at the security point.

Bernard laughed. “That’s nothing,” he said. “I have designed tighter security points than what you have here. Don’t worry about it, go.”

“Thanks for bringing this dad, I love you, bye!” She waved to him and ran back to the elevator. She waved at him again before the doors of the lift closed.

Bernard waved back and turned to leave.

Natasha’s father was walking back to the visitors car park where he had left his car when he felt someone grab his arm and pull him to the side.

“Who are you?” Bernard asked the unruly lady who was glaring at him.“Luyando?” He said, immediately recognizing the icy cold and deadly look in her eyes.

“It’s you my daughter right?” Bernard asked, tears welling up in his eyes.

“Shut the hell up!” Luyando yelled. “Who’s your daughter?”

“It’s you,” Bernard said, pointing at her, unable to believe his eyes and ears. “Do you have any idea how long I have been searching for you? My God, look at you, all grown.”

“Why would you search for me?” Luyando snapped. “What are you even doing here? I thought you had died from alcohol poisoning or something, but instead you got married and you have a family now? Wow, don’t you have any shame?”

“Lulu,”

“Shut up! Don’t call me that. I don’t know who you are and you don’t know me. As far as am concerned you don’t exist. Do not look for me and do not tell a soul, not even your daughter about me. If you even as much as show up in front of me, I will call the police.”

“You don’t need to say all those things Luyando,” Bernard said. “I know that I was a terrible father, I let you down. You have every right to hate me but please, don’t ask me to pretend not to know you when I have found you after so many years. Please, give me a chance to make things right.”

“Are you kidding me?” Luyando yelled. “Make things right? What things do you want to make right? I have my own family, a mother, father and brother who adore me and they think that you are an abusive father who beat and raped me whenever you pleased so you better not show up to me or them because they will have no mercy on you.”

“Abuse you? Did you say rape?”

“What’s the difference?” Luyando asked. “You were never a good father to me. You treated me like I didn’t exist and that’s worse than all the things I told those people you did to me.”

“Luyando, abuse you?” Bernard still couldn’t believe his own daughter would accuse him of such things. “How can you accuse your own father of doing such terrible things?”

“That’s the thing, if you stay away from me, no one will ever know that you are the man who did those things to me. I don’t want you anywhere near me and don’t even think about coming to this place again.

“If you want to meet that precious daughter of yours, meet her elsewhere. I don’t ever want to see you again. You hear me. If you are sorry for how badly you treated me after mum died, then you will leave me the hell alone, pretend I don’t exist.

“Just imagine the kind of shame and embarrassment your new family will be subjected to when it comes out that you used to rape your own daughter? Do you think they will accept you back once they find out about your past?”

“I admit I was a bad father, I should not have allowed the grief to get to me like that, I should have never drunk like that…I should have paid more attention to you, taken care of you…but Luyando, I never touched a single hair on your body.

“How could you say those things about me? If those people really loved you, you could have told them the truth…that I had neglected you and they would have still helped you. You didn’t have to turn your father into such a demon for you to receive love from them.”

“If I told them that then they would have just given me some money and they would have left!” She yelled. “I wanted to have the kind of life they could offer and there was no way I could get that if I stayed with you. I had to get rid of you the best way I could. I swear if I could, I would have killed you.”

“Luyando!” Bernard shouted.

“Yes! I would have killed you. You didn’t care about me so why should I care about you? If you had any sense of shame and guilt, you would walk to the nearest store after this meeting, buy some rat poison and do the world some service for the first time in your life.

“I promise you, if my family finds out about you, I will do to you what I couldn’t bring myself to do twenty years ago. I promise you.”

She then turned her back and walked away from her father, hoping to never see him again.

Luyando’s out-right rejection sent Bernard back into a world he thought he had escaped twenty years ago. It was a cold dark lonely world that held no hope for him. Even though her words were harsh, they were true; he didn’t deserve to be called anyone’s father.

If you had any sense of shame and guilt, you would walk to the nearest store after this meeting, buy some rat poison and do the world some service for the first time in your life.



The words kept ringing in his head as he drove out of the parking lot.

In the other parking lot, Luyando locked herself inside the car and after making sure all the windows were closed, she gripped the steering wheel and yelled with all her might,

“Aaaaarggggggggggh!” She shouted, hitting her head against the steering wheel over and over again.

“What now?” she asked herself, tears streaming down her face. 

Natasha was winding up work in her office when she received a call from her mother.

“Did you meet your father?”

“Yes, around 10, what’s wrong, he isn’t home yet?”

“Yes,” Martha said. “I have been trying to get him on phone but it’s been turned off for hours now. Do you think something happened to him? I just have this bad feeling….”

“Mum, mum, calm yourself down.” Natasha knew her mother to be the kind of person that always considered the worst case scenario in every situation. For her, hope was always the last thing to cross her mind….sometimes it never even did. 

“I am sure his battery died or something, or maybe he lost his phone. Whatever the case I know there’s a good explanation and he will come tell us when he comes back home. Who knows, maybe he bumped into some old friends and lost track of time.

“Stop worrying and try to keep yourself busy. Is Sean still sleeping?”

“Yes, I mean no, he woke up a few minutes ago.” Nothing her daughter said made any sense to her.

“Are you knocking off late today as well?”

“No, am actually parking up right now. I’ll be home soon mum, try to relax. Dad will be home soon.”

Even though she had tried to be as brave as possible with her mother, Natasha couldn’t help wondering what could have happened to her father after he left her place of work. He was not the type of man to just disappear and go off the radar without warning.

If indeed his phone had gone off, he would have found whatever means possible to contact his wife or daughter and he would have told them if he was running late. It was very unlike him to go quite like that.

Natasha tried calling his line but it was still off.

“Where the hell are you dad?” She asked herself.

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A Twisted Fate – Part 1

Prologue

Kanua Village, Zambia; January, 1991

There was a murderous glow in the eyes of the ten year old Luyando Chimeko as she stood watch over her drunk and passed out father snoring away on the mat inside the tent that a good Samaritan had lent to them which they had come to regard as their home for the past one week.

Luyando had had enough of living like a destitute at the hands of her vagabond father whose own life seemed to be rotting away ever since the untimely demise of his wife a year ago. On that day, the ten year old had not just lost her mother, she had lost her father as well. The man she was now looking at was only a shell of the man she once called dad…and she had had enough of watching him waste his and her life away like someone who no longer had anything more to live for.

Luyando wiped away her tears with a rage that was beyond her years, her gaze still fixed disapprovingly on her father.

“What about me!” Luyando cried, her hand hitting her chest. “Am I not a good enough reason for you to want to live?”

As if in response, Bernard Chimeko stretched in his sleep and wiped at his drool before turning to face the other way. Luyando took in every piece of his being; the dirty sandals on his feet with enough holes in them that defeated the manufacturers original purpose of production, the tone jeans and the oversized sweater with a colour she was convinced could not be traced on the colour wheel.

“Every single day….” the ten year old cried harder, no sound, just barrels of tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Over here mum!”

Luyando heard a boy shout from outside the tent. She turned away from her father to slightly open the tent so she could peep outside. Not far from their tent was a family of three; father, mother and son.

Right away Luyando could tell they didn’t belong to that compound. It was the first time she was seeing such immaculately dressed people in the market and all the people crowding around them trying to sell things to them told her everything she needed to know about the kind of people they were.

Luyando’s eyes rested on the boy who appeared to be her age as he cheerfully pointed to the things he wanted his parents to buy for him.

“This one too mum…and this one…ooooh look at this dad?” the boy was pointing at items that ranged from foodstuffs to boys wear.

His parents watched on the side as their boy tried on different hats and not seeming to find one that pleased his eye.

What if that was my family? I wouldn’t be suffering here like this. Luyando thought.

If Bernard could see the envy glowing in his daughters eyes, he would have picked himself up and gone out to do whatever it takes to give her the kind of life that she most desires.

Luyando moved to the other side of the tent so she could take a look at what was happening behind and she found exactly what she was looking for; the fancy car of the rich family was parked in the distance under the oak tree on the side of the main road.

Closing the tent, Luyando’s gaze immediately focused on her father who was still snoring away his life, oblivious to whatever was happening around him. With a sudden conviction registering in her eyes, Luyando grabbed her dirty backpack and started throwing some things in there; some of her clothes and a few text books that had been lying on the ground in the corner.

When she was done packing, she started her search for something else that she couldn’t seem to find but just when she thought all hope was lost, her father moved his leg in his sleep and down where his leg had been she saw the knife she had been desperately searching for. Luyando grabbed it and stared at it for close to a minute as she contemplated what to do with it, her eyes shifting from the knife to the figure of her father lying there before her.

Very suddenly, Luyando raised the knife into the air, closed her eyes shut and brought the knife down to her wrist, leaving a deep cut across. She winced in pain and covered the wound with her other hand, quietly jumping up and down in an effort to numb the pain.

And again, she raised the knife and passed it across her skin, this time making another deep cut slightly above the first cut.

Using the blood flowing from her cuts, Luyando rubbed her hand over specific parts of her face leaving red vivid spots there. She then grabbed her bag, put it on her back…all the while wincing in pain and taking one last angry look at her father, she ran out of the tent from the back.

Once their shopping was done, the Mulenga’s settled back into their car and Mr Mulenga was ready to drive off when something…someone…a little girl covered in blood and bruises jumped in front of their vehicle and was waving her arms about to grab their attention.

“It’s a girl dad.” Tulani was peering in-between his parents from the back seat, his eyes staring shockingly at the desperate state of the girl crying in front of their vehicle.

“Stop Bashi Tula,” Mrs Mulenga told her husband and he immediately put the car back in Park mode. “Who has done that to that poor child?” She said as she got out of the vehicle but the girl came panting at her side before she could even step out of the vehicle.

“Please take me away from here before he kills me. I beg you, take me with you and just leave me anywhere far away from here.” Luyando’s face was covered in tears, mud and blood and her desperation was believable since she kept looking around for whoever who was coming after her.

“Who did this to you young lady?” Ayanda Dumisani Mulenga asked.

In a move that caught everyone in the car by surprise, Luyando grasped Mrs Mulenga’s wrist and went down on her knees.

“Please take me away from here, please, please…take me away before he finds me.”

“Who is after you?” Joshua Mulenga asked. “Isn’t there a police station or a hospital around here?” He said, looking at the bruises on her arms and face. “You look like you’ve lost a lot of blood. Whoever did this to you needs to be arrested.”

Luyando was writhing on the dusty ground with her hand still holding on to Mrs Mulenga.

“You can’t take me there!” She cried. “He…he…he….” And she blacked out before she could finish her sentence.  She was about to hit her head on the ground when Mrs Mulenga grabbed hold of her arm and raised her.

Mr Mulenga rushed out of the vehicle to help his wife get the collapsed girl into the backseat.

“Go and sit in front,” she instructed her son.

“Put your seatbelt on son.” Mr Mulenga told his son as he got the car back on the road.

“Where are we going?” His wife asked from the back seat, Luyando’s head resting on her laps.

“To the hospital first of course.” He replied.

“You heard what she said; what if whoever did to her comes searching for her? Besides, this is a small town, do they even have any hospitals here?”

“You are right,” he said. “What are we going to do with her then?”

“Why don’t we just take her home with us mum?” Tulani asked.

“What the hell are you talking about young man?” His father said.

“Mum said she wanted a girl and since she can’t have any more children now, why can’t she keep this one? She looks like she’s the same age as me even…maybe this is the miracle Pastor Kennedy was talking about.”

Both parents kept quiet, Mr Mulenga’s eyes fixed on the road ahead while his wife looked at the new hope resting comfortably on her laps, her mind replaying the innocent words of her ten year old son;

Maybe this is the miracle Pastor Kennedy was talking about.

Feeling the soft hand of Mrs Mulenga as she stroked her hair, Luyando moved her toes in excitement, silently thanking the stars for her new kind of fate.

Bernard Chimeko woke up a few minutes passed 10 the next morning only to find no signs of his daughter anywhere. Thinking that she had disappeared on her usual escapades, he dusted himself off and went out drinking again.

When two days had gone by and he had not seen any signs of his daughter, worry and fear started getting to him.

“Did you see my girl anywhere?” He asked everyone he came across in the market but they all said they hadn’t seen her in the past two days.

“You drink too much Chimeko, what if you lost your daughter while you were passed out?” One of the marketeers he used to drink with said.

In a state of panic, Bernard rushed back into his tent and immediately noticed what his eyes in their drunken state had failed to notice the past two days; most of his daughter’s belongings were gone.

“Oh no,” he kept saying as he turned everything in the tent upside down. “What have I done? What have I done to our daughter Tasi?” He then dropped to his knees and started sobbing.

“How can I face you in heaven like this?” Bernard asked the skies later than evening as he stood on top of the hill overlooking the river.

“I am so sorry I lost our daughter my darling Tasila…I lost our little Luyando.” He broke down in tears again. 

With an expression that could only mirror the one his daughter had right before she ran away two days ago, Bernard stood up and faced the breathing water below.

Not wanting to give his mind a chance to change, the desperate father leaped forward and went plunging into the river.

Martha Kondwani, a mother of one was drying herself behind a rock after a cold bath in the river when she heard the heavy splash. She quickly put her clothes back on and went to search for the source.

In the two years since Martha had moved to Kanua, there had only been two instances when she caught a group of boys lurking behind the rocks on the hill trying to peep on naked women bathing. Sometimes they just quietly watched and sometimes they threw stones into the water just to make the women uncomfortable.

It was with that mind-set that Martha came out from behind the rock to investigate, expecting to see a huge stone or a group of boys running away. Instead, what she found to her horror was the head of a man peering on the waters of the river.

Martha gasped.

“Is he dead?” She moved closer to the water to take a closer look at the limp body. She thought she saw him gasp for air and she immediately threw caution to the wind and jumped into the water to rescue the man who appeared to be drowning now.

A few minutes later, Martha came up the waters holding Bernard with one arm and using the other to navigate her way out of the water.

“Let me go!” Bernard had started kicking and throwing his arms about, obviously catching Martha by surprise.

“What do you think you are doing?” Martha yelled. “I am trying to rescue you for God’s sake.”

“Who asked you to do such a dumb thing?” He asked, still kicking to free himself from her grasp but Martha’s strength was no match for his puny malnourished self that had been subjected to only alcohol for the past year. “Let me die in here! I have no right to live…let me go!”

“You stupid man,” Martha snapped, only now realizing that the man was on a suicide mission. The man’s kicking and waving was making it extremely difficult for her to keep moving forward and out of the water.

Martha figured that the only way to safely get them both out of the cold water was if she incapacitated him.

Bernard did not see the punch coming and it landed loud and heavy on the side of his face, knocking him out immediately.

He came to minutes later only to find himself lying on a mat in an unfamiliar room. He tried to get up but his head was still ringing and throbbing from the blow. He was wincing in pain when he felt someone’s soft hands on him as the person slowly helped him up.

“I am sorry about that…punching you I mean.” It was the thirty year old Martha Kondwani whose punch had rendered him unconscious not so long ago.

“What kind of woman has such a strong punch?” The thirty-five year old man asked, still nursing his bruised head and ego. He then noticed he wasn’t wearing the same clothes he had on when he went to the river. 

He could tell right away whose clothes he had on and he threw her an angry look.

“What’s this?” He was touching the cream white trousers that barely covered half of his leg and the purple silk blouse that was screaming the desperate situation he had found himself in.

Martha started laughing.

Bernard gave her a stern disapproving look and made a move to take off the blouse but Martha jumped and held his hand.

“What do you think you’re doing?” She asked him.

“You don’t expect me to keep these on even when am conscious do you?”

She laughed again. “I threw away those things you had on…I don’t even know what to call them because they don’t fall in the category of clothes anymore.”

“Who changed me?” The thought finally occurred to him.

“I did,” Martha answered nonchalantly causing Bernard to almost jump from the mat.

“Calm down,” she told him, getting up to check something in the other room and then coming back to look at him. “I am a nurse.” She added.  “A man’s nakedness has no impact on me whatsoever.  They are just body parts…nothing special.”

“You are a nurse? You work for that clinic in the next town?”

“Yes.”

“Is that where they taught you how to punch like that?”

There was silence, and then, “It’s something I had to learn to protect myself.” She said in a very serious tone.

“You learnt how to fight?”

“Martial arts, not just any kind of fighting. It was out of necessity and not….”

While Martha was talking, something behind her appeared to have caught Bernard’s attention and she turned to check what the man was gaping at.

“Tasha.” Martha rushed to her five year old daughter whose gaze was fixed on the stranger in the room.

“Is he my daddy?” The five year old Natasha asked.

Bernard and Martha stared at each other in disbelief, both of them more than ready to set the record straight.

“Now why were you trying to kill yourself?” Martha later asked Bernard that night after putting Natasha to sleep. 

* * *

Chapter One

Lusaka, Zambia; December, 2015.

Natasha Thompson drove her brand new Chevy into Tulani Media House which was popularly known as TMH and went searching for a free spot in the parking lot. TMH was the leading independent and private media firm in the country and Natasha was more than excited to start her first day…her first job in Zambia since returning from the States a month ago.

After moving around in circles for close to five minutes without finding a free parking spot, Natasha was about to lose hope when she saw a vehicle move out of a spot a short distance from where she was.

She rushed over there before anyone else got the spot and was just about to get into the spot when she heard someone hooting ruthlessly behind her. She looked back to find the very car that had just moved out and a lady came out, belligerently waving her arms about in the air as she walked towards Natasha.

Wondering what the hell was going on, Natasha waited for the angry lady to come to her, afraid to come out without knowing what had upset her so much.

The lady started banging aggressively on Natasha’s window and fearing that her new car might suffer damage, she rolled down the window to hear what the lady was going on about.

“Is something the matter?” Natasha asked the angry but beautiful lady glaring at her through the window.

“This is a reserved spot,” the lady said. “You can’t park here. Can’t you see the sign over there?” She pointed to the bold sign right on the wall ahead that Natasha seemed to have missed in her hurry to secure the spot.

Reserved: CFO

“Are you the Chief Financial Officer?” Natasha asked.

“Don’t you know who I am?” the lady asked, obviously expecting her identity to be common knowledge.

Natasha shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly in response, an act that seemed to peeve the lady even more.

“What the hell are you doing driving into TMH when you have no idea who the hell I am?”

“Look lady,” Natasha opened the door and came out of the vehicle to properly address the strange woman.

“This is my first day here so forgive me if I cannot remember all the faces I saw online of the high officials here.”

“The accent,” the angry lady remarked. “Did you apply for a job here?”

“I got offered a position here.” Natasha deliberately stressed every word in the sentence.

“My name is Luyando Mulenga,” the lady removed a stash of her business cards and handed one to Natasha. “You might wanna know who I am if you are going to be working here. My family owns this whole place and I am the CFO. You need to remove your vehicle from my spot before it gets towed right away.”

Natasha finally understood the arrogant airs she had detected from the lady the moment she had laid eyes on her.

“Luyando Mulenga….” Natasha said as she examined the business card. “I might not have been raised in Zambia but, isn’t this a weird name combination? Could it be a Tonga mother and a Bemba father…except, I heard your mother is originally Zimbabwean…?”

Luyanda grabbed the card from Natasha. “If you must know, I was named after the nurse that helped my mother deliver me.” She said.

Natasha laughed. “Forgive me, you don’t owe me any explanation whatsoever. I am just happy to meet someone with a complicated family history as I.”

“I was not explaining anything; I was simply stating a fact. I don’t care about your family history and I can assure you that there is nothing complicated about my family. What is your name by the way?”

“Natasha…Natasha Thompson…funny story, I know…but sometimes it isn’t that easy to get rid of your ex’s name. May I go now ma’am? I need to find another parking spot before am late for my meeting with the CEO.”

“Natasha,” Luyando mulled over the name. “I will certainly keep my eye on you.” She pranced back to her car.

Natasha went back into her car and waited for Luyando to drive away before she could move her car.

“Natasha….” Luyando said whilst looking at Natasha through the interior rear view mirror. “Let’s see how long you will last here with that kind of attitude.” And she hit the accelerator and sped out of the parking lot like she owned the whole building.

Natasha walked over to the reception and greeted the young beautiful girl standing behind the front desk.

“Gosh, getting into this place is worse than getting into a military camp site. Is all that security really necessary?” she was looking behind at the two security guards mounted at the third security entry point; the first one being a group of two security guards asking for identification and then grilling questions before subjecting you to a body scan before handing you a visitor’s card to swipe and be let through to the second phase of security once confirmation of appointment was made.

At the second security point, Natasha had to insert the visitors card she had been given before she could be allowed through to the last phase of security where two security guards held the doors open for her and directed her to the reception desk.

“There’s a television station, a newspaper, and a radio station under one roof here,” the receptionist explained. “You have no idea how many people want access to those services and what some of them would be willing to do to be heard. You must be Mrs Thompson.”

Natasha laughed. “Ms actually, divorced.” She raised her hand to show the girl her fingers.

“Mr Mulenga is waiting for you in his office on the fourth floor, East Wing.”

“East Wing?” Natasha asked.

“Those two lifts over there will take you to the East Wing which is where T-Tv is located. The ground floor is for the radio station only and the West Wing is for the Newspaper. Only those in top management have access to all wings of the building.”

“I see,” Natasha said. “Thanks.”

“Mr Mulenga’s office is the only one on the fourth floor so it won’t be hard to find.”

“Figures,” Natasha said and walked to the lift.

Even though she could not remember much of her childhood days in Zambia, Natasha had heard some things about her mother country from some friends she had made online and none of them had painted the county in bright lights.

But for the one month she had been back, she had seen levels of development far beyond her expectations and she couldn’t help but be impressed. The TMH building was one of those things that had blown her breath away the moment she had laid her eyes on it and feasted on its architectural beauty.

The building was a wonder to behold and it’s expensive quality was not surprising considering that the major shareholders where right at the top of the financial food chain.

“I’m here for Mr Mulenga.” Natasha announced to the CEO’s PA.

“Come through,” she said as she got up to guide her to the office. “He’s expecting you.”

“Ms Thompson is here Sir.” The PA peeped through the door to announce the visitor.

“Let her in,” Natasha heard a man say. She smiled, thinking how he still sounded the same even after four years.

The PA stepped aside and held the door wide open for her to get in.

“Thanks,” Natasha said.

“Look what we have here!” Tulani Mulenga exclaimed the moment he laid eyes on Natasha. “Come here!” He grabbed her and wrapped his arms around her.

“Hmm Hmm,” the PA cleared her thought to announce that she was still there. “Coffee, tea or juice for the guest?” She asked.

“Tea please,” Natasha answered, separating herself from Tulani who appeared to be enjoying having his arms around her a little too much.

“The usual for you Sir?”

“Yes Claudia, the usual.”

“You have a lovely office Tula,” Natasha said, walking around the large room and touching things here and there.

“You look way too sexy than the last time I saw you.”

“I think that is considered sexual harassment in this kind of situation don’t you think?” She took one of the seats in front of his desk.

“You haven’t signed the contract yet so I can say whatever I want to say in the meantime.” The thirty-four year old said, a mischievous smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

Natasha laughed. “I see nothing has changed over the years. Last time we spoke on the phone, you sounded a little mature and grounded and I had this hope that perhaps…perhaps you’ve grown a little now.”

Tulani busted out in laughter. “You are the only woman in this world who thinks am childish. Every other woman out there wants to have my child.”

“That could be because you bring out motherly instincts in them.”

“Ouch!” Tulani held his hand to his heart mimicking a heart attack.

“Besides,” Tulani added once he was seated. “I had no choice but to sound all mature the last time we talked since you were crying. I couldn’t say this at that time but I am glad you divorced the bastard. He didn’t deserve you.”

“Wow, thanks Tula, that makes me feel so much better.” She said.

“Sarcasm I see,” he remarked. “I can’t seem to catch a break with you Tasha…could be why I haven’t been able to get you off my mind from the moment I met you. I can’t believe it’s been four years already.”

Tulani’s Personal Assistant came in with the beverages and left after serving them.

Natasha couldn’t help admitting that despite his childishness, there was nothing about Tulani’s physical stature that suggested he was a boy. At thirty-four years old, he was made of stuff found in women’s dreams; tall, well-built, and with looks that broke the hearts of all those that couldn’t be with him. He was a natural charmer and he knew exactly what to say and what not to say to please the ear of a woman.

“Let’s catch up another time Tulani. I am here to talk about work.” She reminded him, her serious tone suggesting that she was not open to any more personal discussions.

“I know what you’re trying to do…but I totally understand.” He said.

“I am not very sure about the position,” she said. “But I figured it’ll be in my field of expertise so….”

“Yes of course the position is right in your alley; Lead News Anchor and you are at liberty to come up with a maximum of two programs to be sponsored by our partners of course…and as usual, the two important words are; relevance and ratings…you know the drill.”

“I do,” she said. “But what about the person who previously held that position, what happened to them?”

“Nalukwi quit a month ago because she had to follow her husband to Ndola. He works for Barclays and you know how those people transfer their stuff. Nalukwi was pregnant so you know…. Don’t think for a moment that you got this job through nepotism.

“To this day I still remember how impressive your work back in the US was and I want that kind of quality for my station. When I heard you would be coming to Zambia, I was ecited like a little boy! It was like a dream come true.”

“Thank you for telling me that Mr Mulenga, I was afraid people might think I am underqualified for whatever position you gave me since I came through the back door.

Tulani was laughing. “Please, whatever you do, don’t ever call me Mr Mulenga. You and I have been friends for over four years now and even the Lord knows we are beyond the friendship zone.” He was smiling mischievously at her.

“But this is work.” Natasha argued. “I don’t want to give anyone any ideas.”

“What ideas?” Tulani asked. “That you and I are more than friends?” He laughed.

“Tulani!” She protested.

“Look how natural my name falls from your lips. I can’t have you calling me Mr Mulenga, that’s just bloody uncomfortable and you know it.”

“Can I see the contract?” She quickly changed the topic.

Tulani opened the top left drawer and removed a folder which he handed to her. Natasha opened it and skimmed through the contents while Tulani made a call to his PA.

“Claudia, get me Tamara in here.”

“Who’s Tamara?” Natasha asked.

“Tamara Banda is the head of broadcasting. You will be reporting to her.” He answered.

“How old is she?”

“Does the age of your boss matter?” Tulani laughed. “She should be in her early fifties.”

“Perfect,” Natasha said. “I would hate to be reporting to someone my age. Women have a way of establishing rivalries that are not even there. That reminds me, I met your sister down in the parking lot earlier. She is as tough as you described her to be.”

“You met Luyando? What did she say? Did you tell her you and I are friends?”

Natasha chuckled. “The circumstances under which we met made it impossible for us to get off on friendly terms. I know she is your sister but she is way too bossy and arrogant. How can siblings be so different?”

“Our parents say she takes after our grandfather, but she’s really a good person. The two of you might actually hit it off once you get to know each other a little more.”

“I doubt that,” Natasha said. “I don’t look like her type…and neither does she.”

“If you are going to be my wife, you will have no choice but to get along with your sister in-law.”

“Try to be serious for once Tulani, why don’t you ever take anything I say seriously? You know very well that marriage is the last thing on my mind. I don’t appreciate that you can joke about it right now.”

Tulani moved from behind his desk to stand in front of her. He pulled her chair back, laid his arms on her sides and pulled her up.

“Did I stammer when I said I wanted to make you my wife?” He asked, looking her straight in the eye.

“The problem is not about what I said Tasha,” he continued. “It’s about what you choose to believe. You know that the moment you start taking me seriously, you will be forced to make a decision and you are afraid to confront your feelings.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Natasha tried to move away from him but he kept her right where he needed her to be.

“Ar ah, don’t look away from me,” he turned her face by the chin and forced her to keep looking at him. “My feelings from four years ago haven’t changed, if anything, they have grown stronger.

“I respected your decision to go back to your husband after your separation but that didn’t mean I had given up on you. I never gave up Tasha. I still love you.”

“What’s going on in here?” A voice asked from the door. Natasha yanked herself away from Tulani and turned to look at the intruder.

It was Luyando, looking as gruesomely angry as ever.

Did she ever smile? Natasha wondered.

“Hey sis,” Tulani greeted her. “I thought you had a meeting in town this morning?” he walked back to his seat behind his desk and sat down.

“The director’s wife suffered a heart attack and his secretary called me to cancel right as I was driving out of here. Do the two of you know each other?” She was looking from Natasha to Tulani.

“Ah, I heard the two of you met,” he said. “But let me make the official introductions,” he got up. “This beautiful lady standing here is Natasha Thompson, our new lead News Anchor. Natasha, this is my sister and the CFO of TMH Television.”

“It’s nice to meet you once again.” Natasha reached out her hand but Luyando only stared at it with a repugnant expression on her face.

“Do you make it a habit to sleep your way to the top Ms Thompson?” Luyando asked and won herself a look of chagrin from her brother.

“Excuse me?” Natasha said, finding it hard to believe what her perfectly working ears had just heard.

“There’s no need for you to be that harsh Lu,” Tulani said. “Natasha and I have been friends for over four years now.”

A knock on the door is exactly what the three of them needed to calm the icy atmosphere in the room.

“Mrs Banda is here sir,” the PA announced.

“Let her in Claudia, let her in.” He said, and then turning to his sister, “is there anything you needed sis? I need to talk to the two about Ms Thompson’s appointment.”

“I will come back later,” she said in an icy tone and left, completely ignoring Tamara’s greeting as they passed each other on the door.

“Mrs Banda, come in.” Tulani said. “Sit down Ms Thompson, you too Tamara.”

Even though Natasha’s first day at work had not gone as bad as she had expected it go, there was something that kept bothering her. She couldn’t seem to get over the cold reception she had received from Tulani’s sister and she kept wondering why the woman was giving her such a cold attitude.

During lunch break with some of her new colleagues, Natasha found an opportunity to probe a little about Luyando and her counterparts where more than glad to update her on the office gossip.

“She is way too bossy than the CEO himself.” Astridah supplied and under her breath she added, “but we all know she aint no blood relative.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Natasha asked.

Astridah held her hand over her mouth. “You heard that?”

“We all did.” Boyd answered. “You need to watch what falls out of your mouth Astridah. You never learn.”

“I think she’s forgotten about the trouble she was in with Becky from Finance last month.” Nicole chipped in.

“You guys are too much!” Astridah got up in anger, carried her plate and went to join the people on the next table.

“You better watch what you say or do in Astridah’s presence,” Boyd warned Natasha. “Her broadcasting signals are stronger than the frequencies of all the stations in this country, combined.”

Nicole laughed and Natasha smiled uncomfortably, realizing at that moment that she wouldn’t be getting much information from the two remaining. Fortunately for her, she managed to catch Astridah just as she was leaving for work outside the TMH building.

“Need a ride?” She asked the assistant through the window.

“I live in Avondale,” Astridah shouted.

“Hop in, my home’s in Foxdale. I can leave you somewhere along the way.” She reached out and opened the door for her.

“Wow, you are very kind Ms Thompson.” Astridah said as she got into the vehicle. “I always thought that pretty people like you were cold hearted…like someone I know.” She added under her breath and quickly shushed herself.

Natasha laughed. “You are talking about Ms Mulenga right? I take it you are not a fan of hers?”

“I don’t want to say anything,” Astridah said. “You heard what the guys said about me.”

“I saw a ring on her finger, is she married?”

“Yes she is married but she doesn’t talk much about her husband and she rarely appears with him in public. In fact, she prefers to be called Ms Mulenga instead of Mrs Liboma.”

“What does he do for a living?”

“He is a doctor at the University Teaching Hospital. He is not very god looking so I guess that’s why she prefers showing up on the arm of her handsome brother at every public event but I hear he is a very good man, humble and kind-hearted. Why do all the good men end up with such terrible women?”

Something about Astridah’s tone told Natasha that there was more to the story than what the twenty-five year old was letting on.

“What are you trying to say Astridah?” Natasha asked.

Astridah hesitated, but when the pressure of keeping the information to herself, she finally broke down and said; “Promise that you won’t tell anyone that I told you this?”

“I promise,” Natasha said.

“There is a rumour going around that Luyando and the CEO are not biologically related. People say that she was adopted…and that she…she…that she is actually in-love with her brother.”

Natasha busted out laughing. “And you believe that nonsense Astridah?” She asked.

“Yes, I actually think it’s true.” The girl admitted. “You should see the way she treats any girl that tries to get close to him, you would think she was his wife.”

“But that doesn’t mean she’s in-love with him,” Natasha said. “I think I am protective of my kid brother too. I always question the girls I find hanging around him and I investigate some of their activities on social media. He hates that and he’s always threatening to kill me when he catches me doing it.”

Natasha started laughing as an image of her angry nineteen year old brother Alex chasing her around the house with a broom in his hands came to mind.

“I have seen the look in her eyes and am telling you…that’s no sibling love that lies behind those cold dark eyes.” Astridah insisted.

By the time Natasha was dropping Astridah off, she had been brought up to date with all the office gossip and had learnt more about Tulani than she had learnt in the past four years.

Tulani was surprised by a visit from his sister Luyando later that evening.

“Aren’t you supposed to be preparing dinner for your family right now sis? What are you doing here?” He went to sit back on the sofa where he had been resting, catching up on Season 5 of Suits before the interruption.

“What is going on between you and that girl I met in your office Tula?” She asked him, pushing his feet away so she could sit next to him.

Tulani turned to look at her in awe. “Is that why you came to my place this late?”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

“That’s because it’s none of your business. You need to go back home before your husband starts to worry.” He got up to get the door for her.

“Is she the one you said you were waiting for all these years?” She asked, getting up from the sofa as well.

Tulani opened the door and held it wide open for her. “I’m serious sis, it’s late. You need to head home now.”

“Why are you avoiding my questions?”

“I told you, it’s none of your business sis. I am a grown man, you don’t need to know every little thing that goes on in my life.”

“Why are you pretending like you don’t know why I’m asking you these questions?”

“Because I want to save you some dignity.” He said.

“Dignity?” She asked. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means I am not comfortable having this kind of conversation with you again.”

“Is that what you think my feelings amount to?”

“Sis….”

There were tears streaming down her eyes now.

“C’mon sis,” Tulani said upon noticing the tears. “Don’t start this again.” He walked over to her and put his arms around her.

After soothing her for a while, Tulani was about to release his sister from his arms when she suddenly grabbed the sides of his face and drew him closer to her. Before he knew it, she was passionately kissing him.

“Oh no….” Natasha said, holding her hand over her mouth and gaping in disbelief at the two people in front of her locked in each other’s arms and kissing like a pair of lovers.

“Oh shit,” Tulani cussed and quickly reaped himself away from his sister. “This isn’t what it looks like Tasha.” Even as he said the words, he could imagine the thoughts going through Natasha’s mind and he could hear just how ridiculous his own words sounded.

“Oh please, do explain.” Natasha said sarcastically. There was a glint of a smile in her eyes as she looked over at Luyanda who was soaking wet in shame and embarrassment.

Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 19

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Beatrice staggered out of the bank like a drunk woman, her mind replaying those moments with Shadreck when she should have questioned things instead of blindly putting her trust in the love of a sixty year old man over his much younger wife.

Beatrice’s confidence that age was enough to keep her man had made her so shallow that she could not imagine Shadreck betraying her or leaving her for another woman. In her head, he was the lucky one for having found himself such a beautiful young wife who could love him as much as she showed him she did.

She was aware of Shadreck’s wondering eyes once in a while but what man wasn’t like that? She had given him a home and a family that he so desperately wanted and she had faith that these things together where enough to seal their fate together until such a time when he died and she would start afresh with a much younger man.

Not once had she pictured that scenario playing the other way round.

The foul taste of the betrayal and the shock lingered in her mouth and made her stomach churn in disquietude. She clutched her stomach as she started walking towards the parking lot, stopping once in a while to find something to hold on and to catch her breath.

Her heart was racing, fast and loud, blocking out all other sounds around her. One of the shoppers at the mall, a gentleman in his early thirties approached her and placed a hand on her to help steady her.

“Are you okay madam?” the young man asked the emotionally and physically drained Beatrice who was holding on to a wall, anxiously waiting for her vision to become steady so she could cross the road leading to the parking lot.

Beatrice slowly lifted her head up to look at the man holding her and she shrugged his hand away.

“Get away from me!” She yelled at him, drawing the attention of everyone in sight.

“Calm down, am just trying to help.” The gentleman said. “You look a little disoriented. I am a doctor….”

“I have my own personal physician,” she snapped. “I don’t need some random stranger touching me and trying to take advantage of me. Leave me the hell alone.”

The poor man raised his hands in surrender and walked away from her.

Beatrice rushed across the road and was almost bashed by an oncoming vehicle. The driver went at his hooter with all his might and Beatrice stopped to shout at him.

“Run me over if you dare you jerk!” She shouted.

The man simply gaped at her in absolute disbelief and waited for her to cross over to the car park.

She got into her car and drove like a mad woman to her house, all the while desperately trying to get hold of Shadreck on his cell.

I lost my phone in the process and didn’t bother to get a new one since I knew I would be home soon. His words echoed through her head and she sent her phone flying in the air.

Finally at home, Beatrice busted into her house screaming her husband’s name but no response came.

“Mum,” Mark was standing at the bottom of the stairs calling out to his mother who was busy banging doors and shouting upstairs.

“Where is your father?” Beatrice shouted from the top of the stairs.

“How the hell am I supposed to know?” the teenager answered. “I got here just a few minutes ago.”

“And your sister, is she back yet?” Beatrice asked. “Moola!” She yelled out.

“Mum!” Mark yelled back. “You are going to break all the bulbs with your screams. Calm down. Did something happen? Is this about Moola’s wedding?”

“It’s none of your business young man,” Beatrice turned and walked to her bedroom.

Down the stairs, Mark was shaking his head slowly. “Tsk tsk tsk…menopause,” he said and went into the living room to watch TV.

Beatrice was on her computer furiously and desperately trying to log in to her bank account online but her password kept getting rejected.  She was about to throw the laptop down when she heard the door downstairs open.

She ran out of the bedroom and peered down the stairs and saw Moola enter the house.

“What’s wrong with you too?” the oblivious Mark asked his sulking sister.

“Don’t talk to me today if you want to live.” Moola said and started heading towards the stairs.

Beatrice met her at the bottom of the stairs. “Why is your phone off!” She asked her daughter.

“I have been trying to get hold of you for hours now. Did you talk to your father? I saw that you were the last person he called from the landline. Do you know where he is?”

Moola’s eyes as she looked at her mouth were packed with contempt and scorn.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Beatrice asked.

Moola started shaking her head slowly. “You disgust me.” She told her mother and tried to walk past her to get on the stairs.

But Beatrice grabbed her hand and pulled her back. “How dare you talk to me like that young lady!? So what if you were dumped? That doesn’t give you the right to be this disrespectful to your mother. Are you the first person in the world to be jilted?”

“Respect?” Moola pursed her lips at her. “Did I just hear you talk about respect, mother?” She deliberately stressed the last word and then scoffed. “You are one to talk.”

“Why are you talking to me like this?” Beatrice demanded to know.

Meanwhile, Mark was watching the two women in amusement, saying out scores depending on whom he felt gave the most astounding retort.

“I should have been recording this…if only my battery wasn’t low.” He said to himself, looking at his phone to see his battery life marked in red.

“I’m too tired and depressed to fight with you right now. I’m going to take a nap.” Moola said and started stepped away from her mother to get on the stairs but again, Beatrice grabbed her back.

“What do you mean I am one to talk?” Beatrice asked.

Moola looked down at the part of her hand where her mother was gripping. “You are hurting me,” she said.

“I won’t let go until you tell me why you are being such a brat!” Beatrice yelled.

“You want to know?” Moola asked. “Okay, am going to tell you. Dad is gone and it’s all your fault!”

The smile on Mark’s face disappeared within the blink of an eye.

“What do you mean your dad is gone?” Beatrice asked.

“He is gone! He has left us!” Moola shouted. “He got so tired of your lies that caused him to lose all of our money and he just couldn’t deal with all the misfortunes you’ve brought this family.”

“What are you talking about?” Beatrice asked, shaking all over and her eyes dancing in confusion.

“What are you talking about sis?” Mark had joined them at the bottom of the stairs to echo his mother’s words. “What do you mean dad is gone?”

Moola turned towards her younger brother, the puzzled look on his face immediately brought tears to her eyes.

“What’s wrong Moola? Did something happen to dad?” Mark asked again, his voice too shaking from the imaginations running through his mind.

“Answer your brother!” Beatrice shouted and started shaking her daughter. “Where is your father?”

Moola pushed her mother away with so much force and sent her tumbling backwards.

She then turned to her brother. “Go to your room right now and park all your stuff. We are leaving this house today.” And she ran up the stairs living her brother and mother in shock.

Beatrice quickly got up to her feet and ran after her daughter, catching her right outside her bedroom.

“Why are you behaving like this?” Beatrice asked. “What did your father tell you?”

“He told me everything mother!” Moola said. “About the lies you’ve told us all these years, your dirty secrets, how you seduced someone else’s husband, had a daughter with him and when he refused to marry you, you abandoned that child.

“I know that that child is that Evelyn girl who it turns out is now married to Kelvin, the man I was scheduled to marry tomorrow, the man who it turns out is the brother to the woman whose husband you seduced twenty something years ago.

“That woman died right outside your place and her father committed suicide a few days later because he could not live with the guilt of watching his daughter die right in front of him and not being able to protect her.”

The shock of Moola’s words sent Beatrice reaching for the top rails of the stairs. However, Moola was not, even for a second touched by her mother’s desperate and unfortunate state. She was not in the mood to be taken in by her manipulation.

She followed her where she was, crouched and desperately gripping the rail for support.

“How did you…how….” Beatrice’s quivering lips were keeping her from uttering anything sensible. She stammered her way through her sentences and Moola could only shake her head in disappointment at watching her mother crumble down so easily.

Unaware of Mark’s presence who was still standing at the bottom of the stairs, Moola went at her mother again.

“Mrs Kangwa?” Moola continued. “You remember don’t you?” She asked. “Of course she looks different now but that only goes to show just how determined she was to make you pay for what you did to her family.

“Because you were so greedy for other people’s things, things you did not deserve, you dragged us all down with you and now look where we are; I was engaged and then jilted by a man that didn’t even love me, dad’s businesses kept hitting stumbling blocks because there were people out there punishing him for the wrongs  that you committed.

“He lost all of his fortune due to a trap that Kelvin’s mother set up for him and now we have nothing. Thanks to you, some woman was sent into dad’s path to seduce him and take him away from you and now he would rather be with that family instead of us. That’s how much he detests you mother.”

Beatrice appeared almost out of breath. She was gasping for air, hitting her chest with one hand and using the other to steady herself against the rail of the staircase.

“It can’t be…that’s…that’s…not…true….” Beatrice was whispering, her hand softly hitting her chest in her desperation to calm her racing heart.

Slowly, the walls around her started drawing closer and closer, threatening to squeeze her into oblivion.

When everything else around started fading, Beatrice could no longer make out her daughter’s screaming words. She could see her mouth move when she tried to look up at her but she could not hear her.

Tasting for the last time the saltiness of all her sins now painted in liquid onto her face;

Beatrice hit the ground and right before losing consciousness, she heard her two children call out to her from a distance.

“Mum!!!!”

* * *

Somewhere in Zanzibar

Evelyn was awakened by the smell of bacon in the room. She opened her eyes and found a smiling Kelvin holding a tray of breakfast over her sleeping figure. She slowly sat up and rubbing her eyes said;

“That smells sooo good.”

“I know,” Kelvin said, laying the tray on her laps.

However, no sooner had Evelyn come in close contact with the food than she rushed out of bed and into the bathroom to throw up.

But nothing came out.

Kelvin was right behind her, watching her struggle to vomit with a proud grin on his face.

Evelyn raised her head to look at him in disapproval. “How can you smile like that when I am close to vomiting?”

“I told you,” Kelvin was saying, leaning the side of his body against the door frame and crossing his arms over his chest. “You are pregnant.” He said, still smiling.

“I am not!” Evelyn said. “It’s that shrimp you made me eat last night. I felt like vomiting the moment I put it in my mouth. I told you, am really not a fun of sea food.”

Evelyn spat, flashed and walked over to the sink to wash her face.

Kelvin went to stand behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind.

She smiled and stopped whatever she doing. “What do you think you are doing?” She asked him.

Kelvin laughed. “Hugging my wife good morning.” He proudly stated.

“It still feels so surreal,” She told him, raising her hand to look at her ring. “Are we really married?” she asked.

“Of course we are,” Kelvin said. “And you could be carrying a Minnie-me or Minnie-you in here.” He was gently rubbing her tummy.

Evelyn grabbed his arms and pushed him away. “I told you, I am not pregnant. You can even iron something on my stomach without hitting any bumps.” She grabbed a towel from the rail, dried her face and walked passed Kelvin back to their room.

Kelvin followed her and grabbed her by the hand. He turned her to face him and with a serious expression on his face, he asked, “is it that you don’t want to carry my baby?”

Evelyn chuckled at the absurdity of his unexpected question. “Why would you think that?” She asked.

“I don’t know,” Kelvin shrugged his shoulders. “It’s just that…that first time I suggested lying to my mother about you being pregnant, you freaked out…and every time I ask you to get a pregnancy test, you insist that you are not. I was kind of hoping that you would be as excited as I am at the possibility of….”

Evelyn put a finger on his lips. “Shhh,” she said.

Kelvin stopped talking.

She put her hands on both sides of his face and pulled him down towards her, gave him a long deep kiss and then released him.

Satisfied by the sudden turn of events, but still confused by the meaning of it, Kelvin was smiling and giving his new bride a questioning look at the same time.

“I’m scared,” Evelyn said, this time wrapping her arms around his waist.

“What are you scared of?” Kevin asked.

“What if we take a test and it turns out I am not pregnant?” She said. “I really want to be pregnant with your child but I also don’t want to jinx it by hoping. The only reason I am safe and alive is because we told your mother that I was carrying her grandchild. What if it takes a while for us to….”

Before she could finish, Kelvin grabbed her by the back of her head and planted a kiss on her forehead.

“I know you are pregnant,” he said with so much conviction.

“How can you be so sure? Have you ever made a woman pregnant?”

Kelvin laughed. “Hell no, you are definitely and most certainly my first womb.”

She laughed. “Then how can you be so sure?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just feel it.” and then he walked over to the dressing table, opened the top drawer and removed a pregnancy testing kit from a box.

“What?” Evelyn said in surprise. “When did you buy that?” She walked over to him and took the tester from him. “Unbelievable,” she said.

“I got it this morning while you were sleeping. There’s a pharmacy right outside the hotel. Go in there and try,” he was pointing to the bathroom.

“I am just from peeing!” Evelyn reminded him.

“Dammit!” he said.

Evelyn laughed.

“Can’t you force it?” Kelvin asked. “There’s always that bit that remains after….”

“Kelvin!” She threw him a disconcerting look.

Embarrassed, Kelvin turned and disappeared into the other room of their suite.

Evelyn followed him and went to sit on his lap, blocking his view of the TV. She held his head in place and told him, “I pee every five minutes, have you forgotten?”

Kelvin’s face completely lit up. He scooped her up in the air and started spinning around.

“I think I am going to vomit now,” Evelyn protested and he immediately put her down.

“I think breakfast might hasten things up,” She suggested. “What do you think?”

Without saying another word, Kelvin rushed back into the bedroom and came out with the tray they had left on the bed.

Thirty minutes later, Evelyn came out of the bathroom with a blank expression on her face and handed the stick to Kelvin who had been anxiously waiting, pacing around the bedroom.

“Two red lines, do they mean what I think they mean?” He asked as he examined the stipe.

“Umhu,” Evelyn replied and watched her husband lose control.

“We’ve been gone for more than a month now,” Evelyn said to Kelvin as they drove around the Island in their rented car a few hours later. “Isn’t it time to go back now?” She asked.

“I don’t have any motivation whatsoever to go back,” Kelvin answered honestly. “If I could have it my way, we would stay here forever.”

“Do you still think am not safe?” She asked.

“No,” he quickly answered. “It might take a while for my mother to get close to you but I know that she will eventually.” He assured her. “Before this revenge thing, she was a good person, strong willed, but still a good person.”

“I don’t expect you to say otherwise about your mother,” Evelyn said.

Kelvin chuckled. “Not my mother,” he said. “I have been through enough with her to know she is no saint. She has done enough things that could put her behind bars for many years but she’s been too careful in her plotting to attract the attention of law enforcers.”

“And what about you?”

Kelvin gave her a puzzled look. “What about me?” he asked.

Evelyn thought for a moment before opening her mouth. “How far did you go…as in terms of breaking the law to get revenge?”

Kelvin chuckled again. “You are asking if I killed anyone aren’t you?”

Evelyn looked away and gave no response, holding her breath as she waited for his answer

“I didn’t go that far Eva,” he told her. “I never took anyone’s life.”

Evelyn let out a sigh of relief.

“Ah,” Kelvin said upon seeing her release the breath she had been holding. “Did you actually think that I….”

“I don’t know!” Evelyn covered her face with her hands in guilt and shame for having doubted him, even if for a second. “You kidnapped me, stripped me naked and tried to rape me a couple of times. There was so much anger in your eyes I feared you might kill me.”

Kelvin shut his eyes for a few seconds as if to block out the horrible memories that made him feel the kind of shame he had never ever felt before in his life.

“Not my proudest moments,” he said, almost whispering the words. “I promised to make it up to you for the rest of my life and I intend to keep that promise. Do you believe me?” He was looking at her to hear her response.

“I believe you,” Evelyn answered.

Kelvin smiled. “Thank you.” he said and fixed his attention back on the road ahead.

“When did you tell your mother that we would be going back?” Evelyn asked.

“I told her next week,” Kelvin said. “She keeps calling everyday whining about the baby and how you should be under the guidance of an adult since you don’t have parents and what not.”

“Don’t tell me…”

“Yeah, exactly what you are thinking,” Kelvin confirmed her fears. “I told you, her bloodline is her weakness. She was raised at an orphanage for a while and she doesn’t know who her real parents are.

“My mother’s worst fear is dying and leaving no one behind to carry her legacy….like she dies and that’s the end; no one to carry her blood or to stay by her bedside holding her hand as the life slowly slips out of her. Her words,” Kelvin quickly added. “Not mine!”

Evelyn was quite for a while, but later she said, “I think I understand her fears.”

Kelvin turned to look at her, her heavy tone giving him extra concern.

“You know that you don’t ever have to feel like that anymore right?” He asked her.

Evelyn laughed softly. “I know,” she said, unconsciously rubbing her flat stomach.

Kelvin looked at her hands and smiled before turning his attention back on the road.

“We will go back home soon and I will build us a nice home for our family.” He was mostly talking to himself than to her.

Evelyn turned to look at his serious expression as he spoke.

“You will never be alone,” Kelvin said, his eyes still fixed on the road ahead. “I will protect you and my child with my very last breath.”

They drove in silence for a while, taking in the beautiful scenes of nature around them. This was the first time Evelyn had travelled outside Zambia and she ensured that she utilized every moment away from home to live the fairy-tale kind of life Kelvin had shown her in the past month…the kind of life that always seemed surreal even when she was right in the middle of it, experiencing every moment.

The kind of happiness she was experiencing was beyond anything she had ever dreamt for herself and that reality only heightened the fears and insecurities in her; that she might wake up one day and discover that it had all been a dream.

Thus, every night before she fell asleep, she prayed for the dream to last one more day….

And so far, it always did.

“What about Beatrice?” Evelyn later asked Kelvin as they drove to the nearest beach. “I know you don’t like me knowing about what’s going on back home but I overheard your conversation on the phone once when you thought I was sleeping. How is she doing now?”

Kelvin clenched his teeth at the mention of Beatrice’s name and tightened his grip on the steering wheel.

“What is it?” Evelyn could feel her husband tense up and wondered if there was something going on back home that she wasn’t aware of. “Is there something you are not telling me?” She asked.

Kelvin nervously smiled at her. “Of course not,” he said, turning to look at her for a few seconds.

“I just don’t like thinking about the woman, that’s all.” Kelvin said. “I know that despite everything that’s happened, she is still your mother….”

“I have never thought of her as my mother Kelvin,” Evelyn said. “I don’t expect you to feel bad or guilty about your feelings towards her. You are free to hate or loathe her as much as you want.”

Kelvin reached across to her and held her hand. “I am sorry Eva,” was all he could say in response.

* * *

Beatrice kept turning and tossing in bed, much to her daughter Moola’s chagrin who was sleeping next to her in their newly bought two-bedroomed apartment.

Moola sat up in frustration and woke her mother up. “Why did you insist on Mark taking that whole room to himself if you knew you would make it impossible for me to get any sleep?”

Beatrice sighed heavily and sat up as well. “Over my dead body will I let my only son sleep on the sofa in that tiny living room.”

Moola got out of bed and went to turn on the light.

This new bedroom was a far cry from the humongous master bedroom Beatrice had shared with Shadreck at their old mansion which the latter had sold behind her back.

It was only when Beatrice received an envelope with money in it that she learnt her now ex-husband had sold their home and split the money between them in half. She used that money to buy her children another house that was unfortunately twenty ties smaller than the house they were raised in.

She didn’t know whether to thank Shadreck for his consideration in leaving her half the money from the sale of their home or sue him for his betrayal. In the end, she had no choice but to move on since she could do neither as she had no idea where her husband was hiding.

Shadreck had secretly met with his children Moola and Mark the evening before he disappeared and made no efforts whatsoever to contact the woman he had spent the past twenty something years with except through his lawyers that came to hand Beatrice already signed divorce papers.

Moola went back to sit on the bed. “What do you think the people that did this to us are doing right now?” She asked her mother.

Beatrice grimaced and rolled her hands into fists at the thought of the people response for her fall from grace.

“Whatever they are doing, they better pray I don’t get my hands on them. This isn’t over.” She said sternly. “I will make every one of them pay for everything they’ve put us through.”

Moola scoffed. “How are you going to do that?” She asked. “We are broke. Apart from the money dad left Mark and I for school, we have nothing, absolutely nothing. So how do you plan on fighting giants when the only kind if ammunition you had was taken away from you?”

“Who says I need money to make them pay? I only need to touch one person and the rest of them will come crumbling down in pain.”

“What are you planning mum?” Moola asked, instantly growing perturbed. “You are not planning on hurting Kelvin are you?” She asked.

Beatrice threw her daughter a reprobating look. “He used you, dumped you and humiliated you. Why do you still care about him?”

Moola pouted. “I loved him for so many years,” she said. “My feelings can’t change just like that simply because I discovered he never loved me. He might have hated my family, but I still think that there was a part of him that cared about me. Dad even said that Kelvin begged his mother not to do me and Mark any harm.”

Beatrice felt like smacking some sense into her daughter. “Sometimes I wonder if maybe they switched you at the hospital.” She said.

“Maybe you should consider getting your other daughter back,” Moola suggested. “She managed to seduce another woman’s fiancé and even married him…. I say there’s no doubt she, is your daughter.”

Beatrice grabbed a pillow and smacked Moola at the back of her head.

“Ouch,” Moola said as she nursed the assaulted part.

“That’s for spouting nonsense,” Beatrice said and put the pillow back down. “That girl is no daughter of mine.” She added. “She is the worst mistake I ever made in my life. I should have gotten rid of her when I had the chance.”

Moola shivered at the sight of her mother’s deathly glow. “Stop looking like that, you are scaring me.”

Beatrice got out of bed and stood to the side, a new kind of conviction registering in her eyes. “To get rid of a problem, you must remove the root of the problem,” She said.

“What are you plotting to do mum?” Moola asked.

“You just wait and see,” Beatrice said. “You wait and see….”

A cold streak ran down Moola’s spine as she looked up at her mother. This was the first time since their father left that she had seen such conviction in her eyes.

Two Weeks Later

Kelvin parked to the side of the road outside the antenatal clinic when he saw his mother waiting for them by the gate.

“I am so nervous,” Evelyn said, tilting her chair back to avoid being seen by her mother in-law.

Kelvin laughed. “Even if you avoid seeing her now, you are still going to meet her the moment you get out of this vehicle.” He said. “I know it’s crazy that your first meeting is like this but what can we do? She insisted on taking you for your first visit and I am still feeling guilty about how I treated her so I couldn’t say no.”

“I know,” Evelyn said. “You did the right now. Who knows, maybe seeing the baby inside me will soften her up a little.”

Kelvin laughed. “That’s exactly what am hoping for. She’s seen us, she’s waving at me.”

Evelyn raised her seat up and nervously waved back at Mervis. “Ooh she looks pissed.” She said between clenched teeth so the woman wouldn’t be able to read her lips from the distance. “Is that your phone vibrating?” Evelyn searched for her husband’s phone.

“I threw it in the laptop in the back seat,” Kelvin said as he waved back at his mother standing on the other side of the road. He opened the door and came out.

“We are coming mother!” Kelvin shouted.

“I am tired of standing here waiting for you people to show up!” Mervis shouted back. “I thought you were not coming.”

“Go back inside mum,” Kelvin said, but his voice was muffled by the sound of a vehicle passing by. “We will meet you inside.”

“What did you say?” Mervis shouted back.

Kelvin laughed. “She’s not hearing me.” Kelvin said to his wife.

“It’s a call from work honey,” Evelyn said whilst looking at his phone.

“Oh shit!” Kelvin cussed and quickly took the phone from her. “I forgot to tell Nzila that I would be late for today’s meeting. “Go inside, I will meet you guys there. I need to take this.”

Before Evelyn could protest, Kelvin had already answered the phone. Evelyn looked across the street to the entrance of the clinic where Mervis was standing and the hairs at the back of her head stood up.

She slowly got out of the car, grabbed her handbag from the back, checked both sides of the road for oncoming traffic and seeing no vehicle in sight, she slowly started walking towards her fierce mother in-law.

Breathe Eva, breath, she kept telling herself as she crossed the road.

Evelyn was too busy coaching her heart to calm down that she did not notice Beatrice parked on the other side of the road just a short distance away from the entrance of the clinic where Mervis was standing, shielded from sensing Beatrice’s presence by the mango tree looming over the wall fence.

The moment Evelyn stepped her feet onto the tarmac, Beatrice hit the gas and went at her with every cent she had lost.

“Evelyn nooo!”

Evelyn was still mustering her courage when she heard someone shout her name from across the street. She opened her eyes to find Mervis running after her.

The first thing Kelvin heard where tires screeching hard against the tarmac.

It was a deja-vu moment that made his blood turn.

The smell of burning tires and spilled oil…he recognized the smell of doom.

Gripped by a sudden overpowering fear, the phone slipped from Kelvin’s hand and the screen shuttered into pieces the moment it hit the ground.

He turned towards the sound of the vehicle and the then next thing he saw was his mother’s bleeding body rolling out of the road while Evelyn was on the other side, crouched on all fours with a look of horror on her face as realization of what had just happened slowly sunk in.

Kelvin had started running towards his mother when he heard the bang and found himself transposed back into time.

More familiar sounds of metal against metal, tires screeching and glass breaking.

Beatrice’s vehicle had become one with an oncoming truck.

Kelvin remained rooted to the ground, paralyzed by time when the past and the present collided, resulting in a single moment that was suffocating the life out of him.

Just before the darkness could completely envelop him, Kelvin caught a glimpse of Evelyn sobbing as she crawled towards his mother in agony.

“Mum.”

Chola’s Love Storm: A Tale of Unforgotten Love – Chapter One

Chapter One

What is a man to do when an opportunity to get the woman he’s loved and desired  for years presents itself just two weeks before his wedding?

 

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

lovers

Well, that situation happened to me.

The drama started during the early morning hours on a Saturday. I had only slept for just a couple of hours after a night out partying with the boys and just when I was getting into the chorus of my sleep, my phone rang. It was the fiancé.

Her name is Rachael. She is literally the epitome of a woman’s beauty; intelligent, witty, curved in all the right places, and a smile to die for. I love Rachael…but sometimes she does and says things that threaten to turn me into Voldemort in a blink of an eye.

You see, Rachael and I were planning what most people would call a short-gun wedding; I must have been too drunk that day I messed up my retreating skills and fired live ammunition straight on. Fortunately, the marriage proposal was not the sentence I received for how events turned out because I had already asked Rachael’s hand in marriage eight months earlier. In the end, we had to move the wedding date to a much earlier date so the pregnancy wouldn’t show by the time she walked down the aisle.

So there I was enjoying my sleep when Rachael’s phone call came. Naturally, I frowned and mumbled a few expletives before answering. During the days leading up to that day, I had developed a sudden phobia; whenever my phone rang and it was a call from Rachael, I would get all sweaty and nervous just thinking about what possible crime or sentence she was going to throw at me. You see, I was faced with two of the worst circumstances any man can ever find himself in; a pregnant woman and a soon to be bride…all packaged in the same container.

“I can’t get any sleep Chola, I want those pumpkins I left in your fridge on Tuesday,” my commander-in-chief roared.

I was flabbergasted! ifipushi, at 04 o’clock imwe bantu sure? Is this woman the love of my life or my mortal enemy? Ey.

“Babe, it’s 4 in the morning,” I protested, looking at the wristwatch which I had neglected to remove before throwing myself into bed. “Can’t I bring them to you when I wake up in the morning?” and I was tempted to add, it’s not like you are going to die if you don’t have them now, but of course I kept my mouth shut because the dead one would obviously be me if I dared utter those words.

And of course I couldn’t tell her that I hadn’t gotten enough sleep because I had forgotten to inform her about my night out with the boys…yes, I said forgotten.

I could picture the heavenly skies turning a shade darker when her response came, “Kanshi I will just come and get them myself.” I could hear her making some movements. “Who cares if something happens to me or my baby while I drive in the dark…what can I do?”

I mouthed a few more expletives whilst kicking my legs in frustration before jumping out of bed. I should have really kept my pull-out game in check that night, damwit. I felt like punching my balls for letting me down but let’s face it, that’s like shooting yourself in the leg and expecting your opponent to feel the pain.

“I will bring them,” I conceded, “just get back in bed and wait for me.”

“You are the best baby! You are my hero! You….” I couldn’t hear the rest of what she was shrieking because I was busy trying to nurse my bruised ego.

I always prided myself on being a macho man but whenever it came to my woman, I had learnt the hard way that if I wanted to be happy, it was best to ensure that the madam was happy first otherwise my independent pursuit of happiness would be futile.

So there I was at Rachael’s place in Kabwata Estates…did I mention that my place was in Avondale? Yeah, that’s the distance I had to drive to deliver her pumpkins.

I was watching her attack the pumpkins like a Lioness that had been starved for a century. I silently wondered what had happened to that classy bank manager I had been dating for the past three years. I could see symptoms of her on this woman’s face and body…but nah, she was slowly disappearing into the hormones that were threatening to engulf her whole body in a few months.

But I was still crazy about her like a teenager watching his first dose of porn….every moment spent with her was endearing. She was my queen.

Anyway, I was just glad she was eating the food I laboured to bring all the way instead of her just picking it here and then saying she’s no longer craving it. That always made me want to punch something.

“Mum asked me to go and help her out at the boutique today since Linda is out of town,” she was saying. Linda was my seventeen year old kid sister and the mum she was talking about was my mother. She and my family seemed to have hit it off the moment I introduced them. For starters, I knew it was because she was an educated and independent woman who wasn’t after me for my money or something like that. Secondly, despite her credentials, she was a very charming and respectful daughter and sister in-law. It was almost impossible for anyone that met Rachael not to fall in-love with her.

“I figured I could help her out since I am off from work this weekend.” Rachael continued, “But I have to collect my stuff for the bridesmaids from Beverly at Mercury. I already spoke to her; she said its fine for you to pick them up in my stead. Do you think you can get them for me before they close? I think they work half day weekends.”

“Sure,” I replied. “I will head there around 10. Anything else you need me to do for you?” This was my defensive mechanism at play. In order to not feel used or cheated or even frustrated, I discovered that it was better to accept my circumstances instead of constantly complaining. It was not like Rachael enjoyed bossing me around and demanding useless things in the middle of the night. I was partly responsible…if not majorly responsible for this kind of plot development.

*                             *                             *

So there I was at Mercury carrying boxes from inside and taking them to my car with the help of Beverly when I woman drove passed us and went to park her tiny golf car next to my Range Rover.

Beverly and I were there standing with our boxes in hand waiting for her to get out of her vehicle so we can go about our business when it happened.

I should admit, I am a sucker for good looking women. If you are a beautiful woman or if you have a huge rack or behind, or great looking legs, I will definitely turn around to look at you…and I will look and look again until the image of you is imprinted in my head for future reference. But that don’t mean I want to bed every one of them…I just love appreciating nature. I have my boundaries.

Of course Rachael knew about my weakness (es) and I had been working on it (them) from the time I went steady with her. I am still a work in progress, a good man, but still a work in progress.

I recognized the woman the moment she came out of the car.

Her name was Patricia.

Despite the five years since I last saw her, time seemed to have worked on her side all along. She hadn’t aged a bit. She was still beautiful, except this time it was a mature way…there was just something about the way she carried herself that day.

As if struck by some unknown Star Wars kind of power, my eyes went straight to her hand; she had a ring on. So she was married. I am not sure how that conclusion made me feel or perhaps, I just wasn’t ready to confront it at that particular moment.

She had recognized me too.

“Chola!” She shouted my name and came charging at me. I had to put my piled boxes down to accept her hug while a visibly bemused Beverly watched on the side.

“Oh my God, look at you!” Patricia said, scanning me from head to toe. “You are a man now, aren’t you?”

I blushed. Gosh, did the woman even know what that meant?

I had become a man some good eighteen years ago when she first made an appearance in one of nature-induced steamy productions. Of course my hand was a far cry from the real thing. But who cares?

“Is this your wife?” Patricia had turned to my fiancé’s loyal friend Beverly…emphasis on the world loyal.

Beverly was quick to shake her head, “hell no, he is my friend’s fiancé. He just came to collect some stuff for the bridesmaid…the two are getting married in just two weeks.” She announced a little too excitedly, much to my chagrin… I don’t know why.

Bev was obviously playing the role a typical girlfriend’s friend, very protective…announcing the wedding as if she had stakes in the marriage. Dame woman, sealing my fate on the market like that.

“It’s nice to meet you,” said a smiling Patricia, awkwardly trying to find means to shake Beverly’s hands before giving up. “I’m Patricia, Chola’s friend from way back. We grew up together, him and I.”

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Beverly returned. “Sorry I can’t shake your hand,” she said, looking at the boxes

Patricia laughed softly, “I understand, don’t worry about it. I just came to collect something for a friend of mine. I hope it’s still open.”

“Yes, still open…but we’ll be closing a few minutes so if you could rush in and….”

“Oh, thanks,” Patricia said, her focus on the entrance of the building. “Let’s catch up another time,” she was speaking frantically. “I would love to meet the soon to be Mrs Mwansa.” Then she opened her bag, took out her business card and handed it to me. “I am still in town for a month so I expect to get a card! Call me, okay.”

“Of course,” I said, looking at her card; she was a legal advisor. She was still as impressive as ever.

“It was nice meeting you Beverly…you too Chola after such a long time. See you soon!” And with that, off she ran.

See you soon…she had said.

See you soon…. like an addictive pill, her voice kept ringing in my head.

Later that night as I lay awake in my bed, my mind kept replaying the fateful events of that day.

I tried everything possible to keep my mind busy; I had been on the phone with Rachael for close to two hours, I tried watching some soccer, I tried eating…I tried almost everything but the images kept creeping into my thoughts.

I took the business card which was lying on the bedside table and I think I starred at it for close to an hour. It was midnight already, I had a woman I was crazily in-love with, she was pregnant with my child, and our wedding was just a couple of weeks away…so what the hell was I doing thinking about another woman at that time of the night?

Patricia and I had never dated. She was two years older than me and growing up, she always thought of me as her young brother. The kind of attention she gave to me was that of one looking after a sibling but as a man, she never gave me her time of day.

I always hated that.

For many years I loved her from a distance despite growing up in the same neighbourhood. Her house was just two blocks away from mine.

She was my first love…the kind of love that hurts real bad it makes you stay up all night imagining all sorts of things…all sorts of possibilities. I wanted to make that woman mine for so many years, longer than all the years I’ve loved different women put together.

She was the one that got away…the one I couldn’t seem to shake off no matter how many years passed.

But there she was back in my life at the most crucial moment. What the hell was I supposed to think? Did she come as a test before my nuptials or was she a sign that I had to reconsider things?

There I was holding the business card in my hand with my eyes fixed on my phone. I only needed to look away or switch my phone off, throw the card away and force myself to sleep and the rest would have been history.

But my name is Chola…and I have my weaknesses too.

 

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Look out for Chapter Two to be published soon!!