Memories defiled and reality robbed
I await the leaves to fall…so my flowers can bloom
Perchance, hope looms under this doom.
Memories defiled and reality robbed
I await the leaves to fall…so my flowers can bloom
Perchance, hope looms under this doom.
I hear the sands of time
Tick, drop, tick, drop they go
Time behold my foe
Pray my life sublime
Slowly, the hour glass fills
The confrontation between Kelvin and his mother Mervis went exactly as he had expected it to go; emotionally draining and physically exhausting.
“You don’t look so well mother,” Kelvin as he opened the door to let his mother in.
She already looked out of breath, panting and looking at him like he had just pulled off her life support.
“I haven’t slept a wink from the time you called me.” Mervis said as she sat down on the sofa. “I have been telling myself that it was only a bad dream…that I heard you wrong…that my own son wouldn’t betray me like this.”
“I’m going to bring you a glass of water,” Kelvin said and turned to head into the kitchen.
“Do not patronize me Kelvin!” Mervis shouted from behind him. She was up on her feet. “How could you do this to me!”
Kelvin slowly turned back around to look at her.
“What have you done?” Mervis asked.
“Seat down,” Kelvin said, pointing to the sofa where she had been sitting and then he sat on the other chair facing her.
Mervis did as instructed and waited for her son to talk.
“Before I tell you what I did,” Kelvin started. “I need you to know that I did all this for you, because I love and care about you mother.”
“Have you seen me Kelvin?” Mervis asked. “Do I look like someone who’s just been showered by love? How long have you known about Lucy and why did you pretend you didn’t know?”
“Because I wanted you to feel in control,” Kelvin answered. “I needed you to have all the control in this revenge scheme so I could feel some level comfort knowing that you were doing your best to make the people that took your loved ones away pay for their crimes.”
“Then explain this to me,” Mervis said. “why would you go behind my back and do something like this whe you know very well how much this means to me…to us?”
“Not to us mum, to you.” Kelvin calmly corrected her.
“This isn’t just about me young man!” Mervis yelled. “He was your father and she was your sister.”
“I was never up for taking revenge mother. Even as a young boy I understood very well the reperccusions on undertaking such a journey. I never wanted us to go through all the hurt and pain…constantly reminding ourselves of what we lost instead of letting go and allowing those people to rest in peace.”
Mervis could not believe what she was hearing. “Then why did you beg me to let you help if you knew you were going to do something like this?” She asked.
“Because it was the only way I could think of to make you notice me,” he said as tears welled up in his tears. “Ever since the two died, you forgot I existed. We made us move to a foreign country and you left me all alone for days on end while you drunk your life away and fell into depression.”
“I didn’t leave you alone, there were a lot of people taking care of you.”
“I didn’t need strangers taking care of me, I needed my mother. You kept acting like you were the only one who lost something but I lost something as well my mother. I was only ten years old and I saw my own sister die right in front of me. I watched her die mother!” Kelvin cried.
“And that should have been enough to toughen you up but you kept whining for my attention like the little boy you were. You and your pathetic father watched my daughter die and you did nothing to save her. And yet you expected me to take care of you?”
“I know,” Kelvin said. “I have spend the past twenty years or so blaming myself for what happened that evening but you know what mother, I am done. I refuse to keep holding myself responsible for something I had no control over. I went played that day in my head over and over again and I came to the same conclusion; there was no way either of us would have saved her in that situation.”
“That’s just you trying to make yourself feel less guilty. At least your father took his own life when he realised his mistake but here you are still breathing and crying like a baby.”
Kelvin froze for a moment and was staring at his mother wide-eyed. “Did you just say that father committed suicide?”
Mervis scoffed. “Did you actually believe that story of depression?” She said, smiling at him sarcastically. “For days he tried to find excuses to justify his reasons for not running to your sister’s aid when she was obviously in pain.
“But I made him see just what a coward he was and like the big coward he really was, he swallowed some pills and put an end to his miserable life. I can tell you this, that was the only time in his life he acted like a man.”
Kelvin was standing now, shell-shocked with tears poring down his face as he looked down at his mother gloating like she had just said something that deserved praise.
“I never forced you to join me in this revenge because I knew how spineless you were,” Mervis continued. “When you finally offered to help, I was still skepticle but I thought that since you had my blood running in your veins, perhaps you might rise to the occassion and surprise me. I thought you were doing great all these years but I guess the little boy inside you was just dying.”
“You are right, I was never okay from the get-go.” Kelvin said. “I thought that offering my help would eventually make you see me…make you realise that you still had one child, one member of the family still alive. But no matter how much I tried to please you, to do things your way, the two dead people were always more important than me.
“You never came to my school meetings or other such events. For years I watched with envy other kids who had the privilege of having their parents come watch them at play games and I was always alone like an orphan. You turned me into an orphan even when you are still alive and that hurts even more than losing a parent in death…because when you eventually leave, you would have left me twice.”
Kelvin had raised his two fingers in the air, desperately fighting back the tsunami of tears pouring down.
“You were so obsessed with making money and becoming a billionaire that eventually, I became a pawn on your elaborate chess board. You might not have loudly asked me to take on this revenge with you but your actions forced me to, because that was the only way you were finally able to recognize my presence in your life.”
“How did you expect me to continue living a normal life when the people that had taken away my loved ones where busy living large and acting like nothing ever happened?” Mervis asked.
Kelvin gaped at her in shock. “It is not people mother,” he said to her. “It is only one woman, Beatrice. You don’t need to drag all these innocent people into the picture and punish them for something they have no idea even happened.”
And then a look of realization finally dawned on Mervis’ face. “You have fallen for that girl haven’t you? That’s why you are acting like this.”
Kelvin’s heart dropped. Did she already know about Evelyn?
Mervis was quick to pick on the fear written all over Kelvin’s face.
“I am right,” she said. “You allowed yourself to fall for that Moola girl and that’s why you’ve betrayed me like this.”
Kelvin’s heart went back in place at the mention of Moola’s name, relieved that Evelyn had still not crossed his mother’s radar. It would be nice if things remained that way, Kelvin thought.
“You can think whatever you want mother but I will not let you harm those innocent kids just so you can get your revenge,” Kelvin said.
“Do you actually think that you can pull off something like this against me?” Mervis asked.”You have always been a mama’s boy and you will never be able to break off this ambilical code unless I do it for you.”
“Maybe you are right,” Kelvin said. “I never intended to forsake you when I contacted Lucy. I only did that because I want to put an end to this. You are getting old now yet you’ve never allowed yourself to breathe a moment of peace because you’ve been consumed by revenge.
“You breathe, eat and shit revenge day in and day out. How long do you intend to drag this along? Aren’t you tired? I know I am tired but I can’t walk away and leave you behind to be eaten alive alone. I want us to put an end to this, right now mother.”
“And you think that hiding those kids will change anything?” Mervis asked smugly.
“I hid those kids because I know you. As long as you have access to those kids, you were going to drag this far until you raised them to be pawns in your schemes. This revenge has no way of ending as long as those kids are under your control. Just like you’ve done over the years, you’ll find new ways of inflicting pain on that family.
“At first it was business deals, you managed to take away business from those people over and over again but that still wasn’t enough. You became bored because you had become so good at it you needed something even more challenging. It was no longer revenge for you, at some point it became a hobby, a game you were addicted to and you kept chasing a rise on a level higher than the one before.
“I thought that getting me to marry someone I never loved was as low as you could get but I soon realised that you had much bigger plans in store. That’s how I learnt about Lucy. So I know mother, as long as Beatrice is still breathing, this revenge will never end. The only thing I can do is cut off the roots that are helping you grow, and that includes me, Lucy, those two innocent kids and everyone else I know is helping you run this scheme. I will keep doing that even if it means I die by your hands…something I know you would gladly do.”
“Kelvin!” Mervis snapped. “You might not approve of my ways of doing things but don’t insult me like that. I would have to kill me first before I can kill my own flesh and blood. You might have greatly disappointed me right now but that doesn’t change the fact that you are my son, so watch what you accuse me of.”
“Then tell me mother,” Kelvin walked over to where his mother was and knelt down before her. “What do I need to do to make you stop?” He asked with tears streaming down his face. “Tell me what you want and I will everything within my power to help you but please…let’s put an end to all this hate. I beg of you.”
“Bring those kids to me and I will I just might reconsider removing that fiancé of yours from my top two enemy list. Anyone capable of turning a son against his own mother deserves to be stoned to death. I might not lay my hands on you son,” She said whilst wiping the tears off his face with her bare hands. “I might not kill you but that doesn’t mean I can’t get to those you care about.”
Kelvin was left kneeling on the floor feeling hopeless and defeated as Mervis got up and started walking towards the door.
Once at the door, she stopped and turned to address her son for the last time. “You have forty-eight hours to present those kids in front of me…or watch what I do to the woman you love to see if that’s motivation enough.” And she was gone.
If Kelvin had doubted it before, he was now convinced beyond reasonable doubt that twenty years ago he had lost more than just a father and sister, he had lost his whole family…and that that woman parading as his mother was nothing but a shell of someone he used to know…someone he could no longer recognize.
Feeling like a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, there was only one place Kelvin could think of going to lay down his heavy load.
* * *
With her best friend out of town again, Evelyn found herself dreading the long night ahead alone in the house. Ever since she could remember, she never liked sleeping alone.
Having always lived in tiny apartments, Evelyn had become accustomed to sharing a bed with her grandmother. It was only when she moved in with Thando who was constantly on the move that she was forced to adjust to sleeping alone in bed.
Unfortunately for Thando, it meant that on days she was at home, she had to contend with Evelyn waking up from her bed in the middle of the night to join her in hers.
Once she was sure all doors and windows where closed, Evelyn got into her pyjama shorts and t-shirt and was about to get into bed when she heard a knock on the door.
“Who could it be this time?” She wondered out loud, waiting for a few more seconds to check if the person would knock again…and again.
They did, persistently.
Evelyn pulled out a chitenge wrapper from her washing basket in the corner of her room and wrapped it around herself before going to answer the door.
“Who is it?” She asked before opening the door.
“It’s me Eva,” came a male’s voice.
She didn’t need to ask who again to know who it was. That voice haunted her even in her sleep. She quickly unlocked the door.
“Kelvin?” Evelyn gasped when she saw the state he was in; drenched in sweat, feet and slippers drowning in dust, and looking like a man on the verge of collapse.
“Water,” Kelvin said, sounding out of breathe as he pushed passed her and fell to the floor the moment he was safely inside.
“Close the door,” he said to a visibly shocked Evelyn who was still holding the door wide open and gaping at him like she had just seen a mad man for the first time in her life.
But she still closed the door the moment she heard his request.
“Is someone chasing you?” Evelyn asked. “Where’s your car…or cars?”
“Water,” Kelvin begged again.
“Oh yeah,” Evelyn said and quickly ran to the kitchen, appearing seconds later with a glass in hand. She handed to him and watched him ferociously gulp down the contents.
“It’s at home,” Kelvin answered the moment he was done quenching his thirst.
“Is your friend around?” he asked her.
“No, she travelled for work. She will be back next week.” She answered.
Slowly getting up from the floor, he said, “show me where the bathroom is and give me your towel.”
“Is it this side?” He was pointing and moving in that direction.
Evelyn rushed in time to stop him by the door. “This is the kitchen,” she said, blocking his way in. “You just saw me enter and come out with a glass of water. Did you think I gave you water from the bathroom?”
“It’s been known to happen,” Kelvin said, his play at nonchalance gnawing at Evelyn more than the pain in his eyes.
“Here,” she was saying as she led him to through the door on the left. She had a billion question running through her mind but she knew better than to press a man that looked like he had just lost the battle between angels and demons.
“You will find my towel hanging somewhere in there,” she said and closed the door behind him.
She was expecting him to have a quick retort for her but instead he simply said, “thank you Eva, and turned on the shower.
Evelyn remained standing outside the door, something she could not understand kept holding her back from moving away…and then she heard Kelvin stifle his sobs against the running water.
Her heart sunk and her eyes followed in kind.
What had happened? Evelyn wondered as she silently walked towards her bedroom to prepare some dry clothes for him.
It took about twenty minutes for Kelvin to come out of the shower, looking like a brand new man with the forced smile on his face as he stood outstand Evelyn’s bedroom with just a towel wrapped around his waist , waiting for her to welcome him inside.
Evelyn blinked and blushed profusely at the sight of his exposed buff chest, stuck between starring in awe and looking away in embarrassment and ending up doing both simultaneously.
Kelvin was smirking at her expense.
“Wait here, I will bring some clothes for you,” Evelyn gushed and quickly turned to walk back inside but Kelvin was right behind her.
“It’s looks particularly clean,” he commented as he looked around her room.
“I didn’t say you could come in,” Evelyn was looking at him despondently, at a loss for what to do to or about him.
“I always suspected there was something peculiar about you, turns out you are a neat freak,” he looking at her severely arranged room with each time exactly where it was supposed to be.
“You know OCD is an actual disease ka.” he asked.
Evelyn was laughing. “It’s not a disease, it’s a disorder. And look who’s talking? Have you seen your house?”
“That’s exactly why I made an accurate diagnosis,” he was smugly shrugging his shoulders. “I was speaking from experience.”
Evelyn picked up the clothes she had laid for him on the bed and handed them over to him.
“I think the show is over now. The audience is pleased so you can dress up,” she told him.
Kelvin was smiling innocently. “I have no idea what you are talking about.” And he put on the white t-shirt she had given him.
“Are you sure you weren’t expecting me over tonight?” He asked. “This t-shirt is too much of a perfect fit to be a coincidence.”
Evelyn was aware that all the happy conversation was a façade he was putting on to avoid talking about the real reason why he had shown up at her doorstep but she still played along just fine.
Once he was done dressing up, he threw himself on the bed, back first as he sprawled his legs.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Evelyn asked.
“You are not planning on sending me to Thando’s room right?” Kelvin asked nonchalantly.
“What do you mean send you to Thando’s room? Are you planning on sleeping here?”
“Yes,” he answered simply.
“Why?” she asked.
“Because I want to spend the night with you.”
“With whose permission?”
“Mine of course.”
“That’s not how it works Kelvin.”
He then sat up, a serious expression suddenly appearing on his face as he looked at her. “Let me sleep here tonight,” he said pleadingly. “I promise I won’t try anything funny. If you want, I can even sleep on the couch in the living room, I don’t mind. Just don’t kick me out, please.”
“What’s going on Kelvin?” Evelyn finally asked.
“I had a fight with my mum, that’s all I can tell you for now.” He said.
“Is that why you came here looking like someone was chasing you?”
Kelvin fell back on the bed, using his arms as a second pillow. “I needed to make sure that no one followed me here so I circled around for a while before finally knocking at your door.
“Who could have been following you this late at night?” Evelyn asked.
“I’m tired Eva,” Kelvin complained. “Can’t we just forget about it…for today?”
Evelyn went to sit on the bed, looking over at his sleeping figure. “Wake up Kelvin,” she told him, and tried to make him sit up by pulling his hand.
A very reluctant Kelvin eventually sat up and moved to sit next to her, both their feet hanging by the bed.
“I can feel a nagging sermon approaching,” he said sarcastically.
“I have never had a man sleep on my mind before and if I am to allow you to do that, I think I deserve to hear an explanation as to why I should extend that charity.”
“Wow, I am now a charity case!” and he let out a heart breaking laugh, hanging his head low over his chest.
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Evelyn quickly tried to explain herself. “In any case, you are here and you obviously need my help…” she hesitated for some time before adding, “I don’t think I will be able to sleep knowing that something is obviously wrong with you.”
Kelvin raised his head up and slowly turned to look at her, a huge grin playing on his face. “You have totally fallen for me haven’t you?”
Evelyn scoffed and made a face at him. “Can you try to be serious for just a moment? Stop trying to change the topic…and no, I haven’t fallen for you. I am just being a concerned neighbour.”
The disappointment of Kelvin’s face was too vivid to ignore. Evelyn quickly looked away from him.
“I had a huge fight with my mum…it didn’t end so well.” He finally told her.
“Did she find out about me?!” The kind of fear that Kelvin saw in her eyes made him realise yet again just how much of a stranger his mother had become. Since when did the mere mention of her name bring such fear in people’s lives.
Is she really my mother? Kelvin wondered.
And if she is not, then who is that woman I have called mother for all these years…and what did she do to my sweet kind-hearted mother?
“No she didn’t, relax.” He said and he could hear her breath a huge sigh of relief.
“Then what happened?” Evelyn asked. “What was so mad that you came here looking the way you did? Did she disown you or something?”
Kelvin looked straight into her eyes and with tears welled up in his eyes he asked her, “You really think the worst of my mother, right?”
Evelyn didn’t know what to say in response. The pained look in his eyes was enough to freeze all her mental faculties.
Just what had happened to have broken this ever brazen and bold man to this extent? Evelyn wondered.
“Kelvin….” Evelyn was still at a loss for words.
“She really is a horrible person isn’t it?” Kelvin asked.
Evelyn was now wondering whether Kelvin was really looking for answers or if he was in desperate need of someone to tell him a lie…anything different from the truth he already knew.
In the end, she could only stare at him blankly.
She had heard about how the little boy at the orphanage that had been mistaken for her had been ruthlessly killed. The things surrounding his death all pointed to one person and anyone capable of doing something like that to an innocent child was someone to be hated and feared.
But how could she look Kelvin in his deep brown eyes and tell him that his mother was a monster?
He was already a man on the verge of destruction. Ant slight push and he would come crumbling down. He had set aside his pride and ego walked all the way to her place and here he was desperately trying to push away his tears because he still needed to be a man in front of her.
Seeing the desperation in his eyes, Evelyn did the only thing she could think of that would help him keep his pride. She got onto the bed, positioned herself behind him and before he could ask any question, she wrapped her arms around him from behind, her chin resting on top of his head.
Even if you can’t bring yourself to cry in my presence, could you at least let it all out when I am not looking at you? Evelyn thought as she fought back her own tears, pressing her upper body tight against him.
As if answering her question, Kelvin finally broke down…and even though Evelyn could not hear him, she could feel his body convulsing against her as he tightly gripped with both hands the part of her arm resting just below his face.
When Kelvin finally told her everything that had transpired between him and his mother, Evelyn could finally understand why he looked like a man whose wings had just been clipped off.
“So are you going to hand over the kids to her?” Evelyn asked him later while they sat in bed watching tv, each on his or her own pillow.
Between them was an aisle of much three pillow separating them; the Isle of Virtue, as Evelyn had coolly coined it.
“No way!” Kelvin said determinedly.
“Do you actually think that she would harm them in any way?” Evelyn asked. “It’s not like they are Beatrice’s children.”
Kelvin laughed. “You don’t know my mother,” he said. “There’s nothing in this world she can’t do. Those might not be Beatrice’s children but they are children of the man Beatrice is in-love with and that, that on its own is a sin against my mother on Shadreck’s part.”
“Now you are really scaring me Kelvin,” Evelyn said.
“It also pains me to know that I am capable of saying such awful things about my own mother. I keep wishing that this whole revenge thing is just a bad dream, that I will wake up one day and it would have all been just a nightmare.”
“She is going to hurt Moola if you don’t give her the kids…you are aware of that? Evelyn asked.
“Of course, how can I not?” he said, almost whispering the words. “I might not love her but I wouldn’t live with myself if something happened to her because of me. I have already hurt her enough all these years…dragging her along and making her think that I was in-love with her.”
“Are you still going to marry her?” Evelyn asked, shutting her eyes tight as she waited for him to respond.
Kelvin could feel her tense on the other side of the bed and so he moved his head over the pillow to peep at her.
Kelvin laughed upon finding her in that position. “You really don’t want me to marry her.” He said to her.
Evelyn opened her eyes only to find Kelvin’s head looking down on her. Feeling embarrassed at having been found out, she pushed him back to his side and put the pillow back where it had been.
“When did you realize you were in-love with me?” Kelvin asked, his serious tone catching her by surprise.
“If you want to talk about feelings then I suggest you grab a few blankets from there,” she was pointing to the wardrobe on the side of the wall where he was.
“You should know by now that I keep my promises no matter,” Kelvin said. “I said I wouldn’t try anything with you tonight and I meant it.”
“I know,” Evelyn said, remembering that day in his bedroom when Moola came knocking at the window and she begged Kelvin to hide her in the basement where he had previously held her captive.
“Aren’t you going t answer my question?” Kelvin said.
“Does it matter?” Evelyn tried to brush him off.
“Yes it does,” he said. “Maybe that’s the kind of motivation I need to get through this.”
“This evening,” Evelyn said.
“What about this evening?” Kelvin asked.
“I realised I am in-love with you when I found you standing by the door outside.” She said.
There was no response from Kelvin and the room was filled with silence for about a minute or so.
“Kelvin?” Evelyn called and leaned over the pillow to look at him.
The stern expression on his face scared her to death.
“Did I say something wrong?” she asked him.
“I am not going to marry Moola,” he announced.
“Is that why you look like that after what I just told you?” Evelyn sounded disappointed. She had expected him to be jumping up and down.
“Knowing that you love me too means that I now have no choice but to break my mother’s heart,” he said.
Evelyn finally understood and slowly dropped back to her sleeping position but Kelvin’s head popped up above her immediately. This time he was wearing the smile she had been longing to see a few seconds ago.
“I love you Eva, daughter of Beatrice.” He said.
“You really don’t know how to be romantic, eish!” But she was smiling and hiding his face with her hands so that he would not see her blushing cheeks.
Kelvin slowly removed her hands from his face and planted a kiss on her forehead before returning to his side of the bed.
“From now on,” Kelvin said after a while. “I am going to love my mother the best way I can.”
“And how are you going to do that?” Evelyn had asked him.
“I will break her heart first, and then give her a brand new one.”
That was the feeling gnawing at Evelyn when she laid her eyes upon Lebo’s smiling and welcoming face and a flash of that steamy evening with Kelvin ran through her mind.
“Lebo.” She said in a very low voice, not sure what else to say to him.
In response, Lebo got up from the sofa and went to hug her. “You look like you could use a hug,” he said whilst holding her. “Tough day at work?”
Evelyn dropped her arms and slowly pulled back from his embrace before responding.
“It was a crazy day today,” she said, avoiding meeting his gaze, something that Thando easily picked on.
“I’m gonna go out for a walk,” Thando announced. “See you again soon Lebo., and have a good night.”
“Thanks Thando, you too, have a good night.”
Evelyn threw her bag down on the sofa and then herself.
“You don’t look so good,” Lebo said, taking up a seat opposite her. “Is everything okay Eva?”
“Yes Kelvin, I am okay…I guess am just tired.” She said.
“Kelvin?” Lebo asked his tightening hard as he starred at Evelyn in disbelief.
Evelyn threw him a questioning look. “Why did you bring up that name?”
“I didn’t, you did.” Lebo said.
“I did? When?” She asked, absolutely unaware of her blunder.
“You just called me Kelvin Eva.” He stated.
Evelyn gaped at him and covered her mouth with her hand. “Oh no,” she said. “I am so sorry Lebo…I don’t know what to say.”
“How about you honestly tell me what’s really going on?” Lebo said. “Your reaction when you saw me sitting here spoke volumes and it took everything in me to not think much of it…but then…you said his name.”
“Lebo….” Evelyn searched for the right words to say to make it up to him.
“Are you in-love with him?” He asked.
“I just happened to have a long day at work and he was the last person I spoke to,” Evelyn lied. “I made a mistake, I admit, but that’s about it.”
“But you still haven’t answered my question,” he said.
Evelyn sighed heavily. “I don’t understand why you would ask me such a question when you know that he has a fiancé. They will be getting married in less than two weeks.”
Lebogang was watching her closely and listening intently. “You are still avoiding my question Eva. Are you in-love with him? Just be honest with me, I beg of you. I think it would be better for me to know exactly what am dealing with from the get-go because…because I think I have fallen for you. So tell me, do I have a chance with you or should I just give up?”
Evelyn sighed heavily again, drowning her face into her hand.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know what my feelings are,” she finally managed to say. “I have been so busy and occupied by much heavier issues to allow myself to feel anything or let alone think about dating.”
“So it’s safe to say that you have some feelings for Kelvin….” Lebo noted.
“I already told you,” Evelyn started to say.
“I am not dumb Eva, I can see it in your eyes. I am just begging you to be honest with me because if you keep doing this, you are giving me hope…that I have a chance because you haven’t out rightly told me that you are already in-love with someone else. Do I have a chance with you?”
Evelyn slowly raised her head to take a good look at him. By all physical standards of beauty he was just as good looking as Kelvin except…except for the eyes…he didn’t have Kelvin’s deep brown eyes.
And why am I making such comparisons? Evelyn silently rebuked herself.
Then she consciously looked back at Lebo with a fresh mind. The desperation visibly evident in his eyes while he sat there anxiously waiting to hear her response sent a chill down her spine.
She wanted to reach out and lay her hand on his, or better yet, to hold him in her arms. She remembered the warmth of his embrace from that night at the hotel…how he had comforted her and made her feel like she was safest only in his arms.
That had been the first time in her life when she had felt most safe and needed. Lebo had made her feel like that.
But at what point did her feelings get so muddled in such a web of extreme complexity? Just what was she feeling in her heart and how was she to know which feelings constituted love when she had never experienced anything of that magnitude before?
“I like you,” Evelyn said. “I really like you and that’s why am going to be honest with you.”
“Please,” Lebo said.
“I have these feelings…in my heart…I don’t know when they started and I don’t know how to stop them. I don’t even know what they mean…. All I know is that they make me both happy and scared at the same time. That night at the charity event, you made me happier than I had ever been; happy and safe. For some reason, I wanted more…I found myself longing for more.”
“Then what’s the problem Eva?” Lebo asked.
“My feelings,” she said. “My feelings confuse me, I don’t understand them,” Evelyn lamented. “Recently, things became way too complicated in my life. My mother, her past, our present…they all just collided and I was left sprawled on the ground, alone. Right in the middle of it all was Kelvin.
“He both hates and loves me…at least that’s what he’s told me and that’s what I’ve seen. The problem is that he has every right to hate me because of who I am and unfortunately, I am not allowed to divulge those reasons to anyone else no matter.”
“Says who?” Lebo asked.
“There are just certain issues surrounding my birth that are not easy for me or anyone else involved to talk about. You see, I was born from a union of sin…and union that brought a lot of hurt to some families and my birth was sealed the fate for some of those people, in the cruellest way possible.”
“I don’t understand,” Lebo interrupted her. “How does Kelvin come in all of this?”
“I wish I could tell you exactly what you want to know…but I can’t. I am sorry Lebo.”
“Me too Eva,” Lebo said resignedly. “How about you just tell me what I need to know?”
“Kelvin’s initial intentions where to hurt me,” Evelyn revealed. “Naturally, I hated him. But during those gruesome moments we spent together, something changed. Somehow, the hate turned to something else. At first I was very determined to just walk away, to ignore him and forget he ever existed but….”
“But you also fell for him.” Lebo finished for her.
“I don’t know if what I feel for him is love or something else. I don’t know what it means or feels like to be in-love and it’s something I am not willing or anxious to discover…at least not right now.
“All I am sure of is that everything between him and I changed the moment he told me that he loved me. He might have done certain things to hurt me in the past but I have seen that he is not such a bad person.
“He is simply a man that needs love and attention from those he cares about and when he made his feelings known to me, there was a huge part of me that wanted to believe him…to believe that he was not the monster he had made me believe he was before.”
“I think you already know what you feel for him Eva,” Lebo said. “You just don’t want to admit it to yourself…or you are just too scared to confront your feelings. But here’s what I don’t understand, why is Kelvin confessing his feelings for you when he is engaged to someone else? Does he plan on leaving her just two weeks before their wedding?”
“I don’t know Lebo,” Evelyn replied. “I don’t know what Kelvin is thinking or planning and I don’t wish to find out. If there’s one thing I am sure of, it is that him and I will never be…unless I am willing and ready to lose my life.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lebo asked.
“Just something like that.” She answered.
“Oh yeah, another thing you can’t talk to me about,” he said sarcastically.
Evelyn could only look at him apologetically.
“The good news is,” Lebo said, standing up and walking to kneel on the floor before her. “I think I have heard enough to help me make a decision. Unlike Kelvin who has a lot of issues going on with him, I stand a better chance of winning your heart.
“I understand that the two of you might have grown fond of each other during the times you spent together, but I intend to start spending more time with you from now on…as long as you allow me.
“However,” Lebo continued. “If you tell me that you are willing to be with Kelvin despite the fact that he is with someone else or that you might die…your words, not mine, then all you need to do is tell me and I will never bother you again.”
“That’s the thing Lebo,” Evelyn said, looking into his eyes. “It’s not just Kelvin I am hesitant about. It’s also you or any other man out there that might be interested in me. I am very flattered that a good looking and gentleman like you is showing interest in me but, there are just so many things going on in my life that make me feel less confident about being in a serious and meaningful relationship.
“I am afraid of giving someone my heart and allowing myself to feel all those things only to be left alone when my past comes to light. I don’t think I can live with any more rejection in my life Lebo.” There were tears welled up in her eyes.
Lebogang moved closer to her and took her hands into his. “I would never do such a thing to you Eva, never, I promise you. Just give me a chance to prove it to you, please.”
“You are not even from here Lebo,” Evelyn stood up and went to stand by the window, her back to him as she looked out the window to their small front yard.
Lebo got up from the floor and went to stand behind her, his hands in his pockets.
“I don’t even know how long you plan on being in this country. You have your whole life in Botswana and I don’t expect you to just abandon everything and live here.
“I don’t even know what kind of life you live over there. We both know nothing about each other so we are not in any position to make promises to each other.What will happen to me when one day you wake up and feel like going back home because you can’t handle everything that’s going on?
“I am not going to lie to you, my life is a total mess and anyone that’s close to me is bound to feel the heat at some point. You might be willing to go through all that with me but I will not allow anyone I care about to suffer because of my weaknesses. I just can’t.”
“All I can hear is that you care about me.” Lebo was smiling behind her.
“I am serious Lebo,” She turned around to face him, an expression on her face that matched her words.
“I know,” Lebo quickly sobered up, pulling her closer to him and then turning her so that her back was now against him as he wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Bu I am not going back to Botswana just yet.” He told her. “Winning your heart has suddenly become way too important for me than anything else out there.”
“What about your job? And your family?” Evelyn asked.
“I run my own company so I can stay away as long as I deem fit.” He said. “Besides, in this modern age of technology, you can still run a business even from space. I don’t want to go back without you.”
Evelyn immediately tried to turn around to look at him but he forced her to stay in place with his arms.
“You want me to live with you in Botswana?” She asked in shock. “Who told you that I want to leave my peaceful country to live in a foreign land Lebo?”
“Zambia isn’t that peaceful anymore Eva,” Lebo remarked. “You guys are slowly becoming a mix of Rwanda, South Africa and Nigeria.”
“If that’s your way of winning my heart then you need a new strategy,” she tried to get away from him again but he still managed to keep her in position.
Laughing, he hugged her even tighter. “I am kidding me,” he said, planting a kiss on top of her head. “But on a serious note, don’t you think that getting away from this country would be the best way to avoid some of the problems you are facing right now or in future?”
Evelyn thought about his statement for a while.
“I did a bit of research on your mother’s family, very rich folks,” he was saying. “With the kind of reputation they’ve managed to establish for themselves over the years, I doubt they would want it known to the public that the mighty philanthropist Beatrice Mwangala had a daughter out of wedlock.
“I can only speculate about how you came to be born and if what you’ve hinted at is anything to go by, I would understand why that family would feel the need to continue keeping your presence a secret. The more you keep bumping into them like you did at that charity, the more desperate they will get in trying to keep you hidden, forever.”
Evelyn sighed heavily upon hearing things from another’s point of view. Lebo didn’t even know the half of it and yet he was able to calculate the kind of danger she might be in if her presence was discovered.
And even though she had little to worry about from the public…since that was more of a concern for her mother’s side, it was Kelvin’s side learning about her that roused such great fear in her.
She had witnessed for herself the kind of control Mervis had on her own son and she had an idea of what she was planning to do to Beatrice’s family to avenge her daughter’s death.
Evelyn could only imagine the kind of vermin Mervis would unleash on the direct offspring of the affair that reaped her family apart. It was only a matter of time before she learnt of her existence and Kelvin’s feelings and erratic behaviour only brought that eventuality even more possible than ever.
“Wouldn’t it hurt your feelings knowing that the only reason I would be following you to Botswana would be only because I need an escape? That is the same as using you for my own gain… and I don’t like how that makes me look or feel.” Evelyn asked the man who still had his arms wrapped around her waist.
“I wouldn’t think of it as you using me,” he said confidently. “I would think of it as you trusting me to take care of you.”
“A very optimistic way of looking at things,” Evelyn was smiling as she mulled over his words and weighed her options in her head.
“That’s because I am such an optimistic guy.” Lebo returned.
“I used to think that I was optimistic too, but recent events have turned me into a person I can hardly recognize. One moment I might be smiling, feeling happy, next moment I would be feeling a sense of great shame, embarrassment, fear, stuck at a crossroad…and crying…a lot of crying. That’s the kind of person I have become.”
“Life can do that to you sometimes,” Lebo said. “You could choose to let your circumstances define you or you could rise above them, show them who’s in charge and live your life according to the direction you wish it to go. Eventually, everything will fall back in place.”
“Wise and good looking,” Evelyn commented under her breath. And then loudly she added, “I didn’t know that was possible.”
“Me neither.” He said and they both laughed.
* * *
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Mervis looked like a wounded buffalo ready to pounce on any unsuspecting victim that was unfortunate enough to set themselves in her path when she pounded hard on Lucy’s new address where they had arranged to meet that morning.
She had tried relentlessly for the past twenty-four hours to get in touch with Lucy but the woman’s phone was still off. There could only be one explanation as to why things had turned out this way.
“What the hell where you doing while she was running away with two children Rafael?” Mervis verbally pounced on the man she had left I charge of Lucy.
“I am very sorry ma’am,” Rafael could hardly look at her when answering.
Without warning, Mervis walked over to where he was standing and slapped him hard across the face. The thirty-one year old man staggered backwards as he tried to nurse his bruised cheek with his hand.
“Do you think saying sorry will make her appear before me?” Mervis yelled. “Why have I been paying you when you can’t even do such a simple job?”
Rafael remained quiet, his feeling of remorse quickly replaced by shame.
“You better find Lucy or be ready to say goodbye to your family today.”
In what appeared to be well-times miracle, there was a disturbance at the gate and then Lucy appeared.
“You!” Mervis approached her while she was still at the gate looking both timid and determined in whatever resolve she had reached on her way to meeting her boss.
Mervis grabbed her by the ear and pulled her aside. “Open that door so we can talk properly inside. I have more than a lot to say and I don’t need an audience for that.”
Lucy quickly ran and opened the door, she then stepped back and allowed Mervis to go in first.
“What is this?” Was the first question Mervis asked when her eyes landed on the room empty room she was now standing in. “Where is all your stuff?” She turned around to look at Lucy who had also entered behind her.
“Wait,” it suddenly appeared to Mervis that something bigger than the empty house was missing. “Where are the kids Lucy?” She asked.
“They are gone,” Lucy answered.
“What do you mean they are gone?” Mervis asked.
“I took them far away to a place you can never find them.” She said.
Mervis laughed, thinking someone was playing a very bad joke on her. “This is not the time to joke with me Lucy. I have no time for this kind of nonsense. Tell me right now, where have you taken the kids?”
“They are my kids!” Lucy snapped and cried at the same time. “I already told you, they are mine. I gave birth to them. I won’t allow you to take them away from me.”
“Come here,” Mervis tried to grab her by the head but Lucy moved to the side defiantly.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve just done to yourself and to those kids?” Mervis roared.
“I don’t care what you do to me but at least I know my children will be safe as long as they are far away from you.” Lucy said with such conviction in her voice that caught Mervis by surprise.
“Who got to you?” Mervis asked. “Did you confess to Shadreck and he made you a better offer than mine?”
“No one got to me,” Lucy said. “And Mr Shadreck doesn’t know anything about you or our arrangement. I am willing to let you use me to break up that home but I don’t want you dragging my children into this. If my children do not die by your hands, they will die in that woman’s hands.”
“If I thought that Shadreck telling his wife that he was leaving simply because he fell in-love with another woman was enough, then I wouldn’t have gone this far with you!” Mervis shouted.
“I could have picked a much younger and very sophisticated woman to sway his heart but I needed one that had the potential to be both wife-like and a mother. You had so many years to make him leave his evil wife and you still couldn’t make him stay with you. How pathetic of you to stand there and act like you run the show.”
Mervis was feeling like she was losing her mind.
She had not calculated for such a development because she never thought Lucy had the balls to stand up to her and betray her like this. The question she needed answered the most was; who was behind all this?
Was it just a matter of courage borne from blind love or could it be that Shadreck had caught on to something and was now using her to get to her?
The worst possibility running through Mervis’ mind was; had Beatrice discovered who Lucy was and managed to get to her?
“I love him!” Lucy announced in a very shaky voice.
“I knew it!” Mervis said and scoffed. “And do you think that he loves you back?”
“I don’t know and I don’t care. I just didn’t want to win his heart using the tricks you taught me. I wanted him to come to me by his own will. The only reason why I have not told him the truth is because I still feel some level of loyalty towards you and I am willing to let you continue using me because I want this thing to end as soon as possible. I am tired.” Lucy lamented.
“I should have known that picking a desperate whore from off the streets was a bad idea.” Mervis was saying.
“You can insult me all you want but I am never telling you where my children are. They are only babies. They have no idea what’s going and I would like to keep it that way. You can punish me all you want, you can even kill me, I don’t care. I deserve everything because I am the one who signed such an evil pact.
“I just want this thing to end. Yes, I admit, I am no good. I failed to make him leave his wife despite having two of his children and I can promise you that no matter how many years you wait, he will never leave his wife, at least not for me. You can use me in whatever manner you like but please, leave my kids out of this.”
Mervis was glaring at her like she was the worst human species she had ever come across. “Your kids?” she scoffed. “Do you even know how much those kids are worth? Millions!” Mervis said, thinking about the twenty percent still untouched from the Mwangala’s fortune.
More than the eight percent she had already managed to get her hands on, it was the twenty percent that meant everything to her simply because it was exclusively owned by Beatrice.
With enough persuasion, Shadreck would have convinced his wife to surrender her money if it meant getting back the children Mervis had intended to hold hostage.
But now Lucy had thrown her this curveball.
“I am very sorry that it came to this but….” Lucy was saying from the corner of the room where she was cowering.
“But you are going to make things right Lucy,” Mervis’ smile was threatening enough to freeze a waterfall. “You created this mess so naturally, you will fix it. You said it yourself, you owe me. If you think that death is the only way to punish you, then you must not know me by now.
“I never make things easy for my enemies…especially those that have declared war to my face. Killing you would be letting you off too easily.” Mervis’ tone was calm and controlled and yet as menacing in its delivery as possible.
“I am going to make things so painful for you that you will be begging me to hear the location of where you’re hiding those little bastards. Rafael!” She shouted for her Lucy’s handler who was outstanding outside.
Eager to redeem himself, Rafael rushed into the room and stood at attention before his madam.
“Put her in the vehicle,” Mervis instructed him. “There’s a special place she needs to go that might help her refresh her mind a little bit.” She was looking menacingly at Lucy with a smirk on her face that spoke of every possible evil she had in store for her.
Lucy was wailing and kicking as Rafael dragged her to the car parked in front of the house.
Later that evening, Kelvin received a call from Rafael.
“Things are not looking that good over here Mr Kelvin,” Rafael reported.
“What happened?” Kelvin asked as he punched in the password to his newly installed home security system. The door opened and he entered the house.
He walked over to the fridge, took a bottle of water from there and walked with it to his guest lounge where he threw himself onto the sofa.
“Your mother is losing it!” Rafael was saying. “She is keeping Madam Lucy in some room somewhere and two men spent the whole day torturing her. This is not what you promised us Sir. You said that you would keep us safe.” The poor man was on the verge of crying.
“Calm down Rafael,” Kelvin said. “Tell me everything that happened first.”
And then Rafael walked him through the events of that day, step by step.
“But you didn’t expect my mother to take all this laying down Rafael, did you?” Kelvin said.
“Of course not Sir but….”
“I spoke to Lucy about my mother retaliating…but, I never imagined she would take things this far.”
“I also never imagined such things happening in real life but your mother is something else Mr Kelvin. You really need to do something soon or Madam Lucy will die in there.”
“I know,” Kelvin said. “I know. I will get to it right away. And please ask Lucy to hang in there. I will do everything I can to ensure that no more harm is done to her, okay?”
“Yes sir, we are counting on you.” Rafael said.
Immediately that call was done, Kelvin speed dialled his mother and waited for her to answer the call.
“My son,” came Mervis’ usual greeting to him.
“Hi mum,” Kelvin said, his voice heavy with emotion.
Kelvin was about to cross a point in his life he had never dreamt of ever crossing and only God knew just where his feet would land.
“Where are you?” Kelvin asked.
Mervis chuckled before responding. “Why are you asking where I am? I thought I told you that I was in SA doing some shopping. Are you asking where I am right now? I am at a friend’s house in KZN. Is anything the matter? Why do you sound so serious?”
“I know where you are mum, please don’t lie to me. This has to stop, right now.” Kelvin said sternly.
“What’s going on son? You are starting to scare me now. What are you talking about?” Mervis asked, a strange feeling nagging at her heart as she waited to hear her son’s response.
“I know that you are in Tanzania,” Kelvin said, standing up to face the wall, his hand placed over his forehead as he bent his head down and sighed heavily.
He raised his head again. “I have always known where you go whenever you leave home. Come back home now, I have what you are looking for.” He announced.
Mervis jumped from the hotel bed she had been lying on. “What do you mean you have what I’m looking for Kelvin?” she could hardly hear her own thoughts over her loudly beating heart.
“The kids,” Kelvin said after a moment’s hesitation. “I have Lucy’s kids.”
Mervis’ knees immediately gave way and she found herself kneeling on the carpeted floor of her hotel room.
“Mother, are you alright?” Kelvin asked, the silence on the other side of the line creeping him out.
“No…not you Kelvin…not you my son….”
His mother’s words ripped through his veins and he felt every bit and piece of her broken heart weigh him down to the ground.
Still sobbing, Kelvin later said to her, “I am very sorry mother…I am so sorry.” He was crying so hard Mervis could hardly make out the rest of his words.
Broken and alone on the floor, Kelvin told his mother, “come home, I will explain everything when you get here.”
And he let the phone fall from his hand to the floor as he surrendered his body to the emotions threatening to rip him apart.
There was no shelter strong enough to protect him from the storm he had just brewed.
There was no going back.
Without warning, Beatrice rushed into the room and tried to yank the phone from Shadreck’s hand but he managed to swerve around in his spinning chair in time to avoid her sudden attack.
“What are you hiding from me Bashi Mark?” Beatrice was still trying to get her hands on her husband’s phone and he was still holding it away from her.
“What are you getting so worked up for Beatrice?” Shadreck asked, smiling as he played at nonchalance. “You are not the only woman I love in this life,” the sixty-two year old said.
“What did you just say?” Beatrice had paused and was glaring at him with the passion of a hundred angry ancestors behind her eyes.
Shadreck got up from his chair and went to stand in front of his wife, smiling he said, “you really don’t trust me?”
“You bringing up trust only means that there is something you are hiding from me.” She returned.
“You really want to see who I was talking to?” He asked.
“Yes,” she said.
Shadreck held out the phone for her. “There,” he said, showing her his call log.
“Tina?” Beatrice said. “Your sister Tina from Mongu?”
Shadreck was smiling and nodding his head before quickly putting the phone in his pocket.
“I know that you have no family of your own but I can promise you that it’s very normal for a brother to tell his little sister that he loves her.”
Beatrice was gripped with embarrassment from head to toe. She hang her head low and started hitting her forehead softly over and over again before her husband reached out to wrap her in a hug.
“I’m so sorry,” he said. “Am so ashamed…I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.”
“It’s okay my love,” he said over her head. “I’m very much flattered that you still get jealous over an old fella like me. So, how about you make it up to me in the other room?”
Beatrice held her upper body away from him with her arms still around his waist. She was smiling seductively at him.
“What if I saved you the trip and created a new memory for you right here in the study?” She had already started working his buttons as she spoke.
“I thought women coming from church were supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit,” he was grinning triumphantly as he moved back to sit on the chair.
Beatrice got down on her knees before him, this time unzipping his pants, slowly and deliberate. “I am everything else but holy,” she was telling him. “Be it Sunday or Friday. How about I show you exactly what I mean Mr Mwangala?”
For a man on the throngs of passion, when the heat inside him seeks an out…when he chases with all his might for that one moment, a moment when time freezes, when his own breath becomes secondary and the need to arrive takes on a life-changing meaning…when he’s gripped by a power so overwhelming that he desperately clings to the wings around him, the wings of his young lover’s hands…deeper and deeper he digs…and deeper and deeper he yearns for an out…and release.
And while Shadreck was lost in Beatrice’s erotic mechanization, she had reached out into the pocket of his trousers now lying on the floor and had managed to check for Tina’s number.
For a woman trained and armed in the art of deceit, Beatrice knew better than to trust the word of another, even if that person was her own husband. The very foundation of her love life was built on manipulation and deceit and to death had she resigned herself to keep reaping the deserving fruits of her unpalatable actions.
Thus, when she told her husband two hours later that she was going to meet a friend for a drink, it was only so she could meet a private investigator who could look into the identity of the owner of that number.
“It’s a Tanzanian line,” Joseph the PI noted upon seeing the number written on the piece of paper he had just been handed.
Beatrice was gripping the steering wheel of her new Jeep with both hands, the only thing around she could take her frustrations out on.
“Yes, is the task out of your jurisdiction” She angrily asked the thirty something year old PI.
“No, of course not,” he quickly supplied, not prepared to lose his number one well-paying client. “Just give me twenty-four hours and I will get back to you with results.”
“Just be careful and keep this clean as always, you understand?”
“Yes madam,” he answered and waited.
Beatrice removed a brown envelop from her hand bag and handed it to him.
“Get to work right away,” she said to the PI as he stepped down from her vehicle.
Back at home, Shadreck was making his own arrangements.
“Get rid of this line right now.” He said to whoever was on the other side of the phone. “I will send someone over with a new line for you to use.” And he cut the call.
Putting down his phone, Shadreck then picked up the picture frame sitting on the other side of his massive table in his study and stared at it for a very long time. It was a portrait of the perfect family any man could ever dream of; two beautiful kids sitting between their proud and happy parents.
As he traced his finger around the glass of the picture frame over and over again, the blank yet distant expression on his face made it hard for anyone to guess what was running through Shadreck’s mind.
Mervis had just said goodbye to her son Kelvin after having breakfast when she her cell phone rang.
Lucy, her caller ID announced on the screen.
“You never call me first, is everything okay?” Mervis asked.
“I think there’s a little problem,” Lucy said.
“What is it?” Mervis’ dancing eyes mirrored the agitation quickly building up in her stomach.
“I think his wife has found out about me,” Lucy announced. There was no mistaking the terror in her delivery.
“He just called and asked me to change my number.” Lucy explained.
“How did she find out?” Mervis made a quick recovery and looked about ready to explode into a thousand pieces on bloody human flesh.
“I don’t know,” Lucy was on the very of crying now. “I had spoken to him a few hours ago and everything seemed fine but then he called me just a minute ago and said that I change my number. He didn’t tell me why and I couldn’t get myself to ask. I think that the wife must have walked in on him while he was talking to me.”
“Dammit!” Mervis cussed. “This changes everything I had planned. It means that we have to move our plans forward than initially planned before anyone catches on to our plans.”
Are you saying that you want to end this now?” Lucy asked.
“Yes, that’s what am saying Lucy.” She replied. “Why do you sound disappointed? It’s not like you are the one being inconvenienced here. I hope you were not getting too comfortable playing wife for another woman’s husband were you?”
There was silence for a moment…and then Lucy’s voice finally came through the line. “No ma’am,” she said, her tone low and laden with filtered rage and trepidation.
“Good,” Mervis echoed. “I need you to stay calm and in control so that no one gets suspicious. Do everything Mwangala tells you to do and keep me updated. I will be there to sort out everything tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” The announcement caught Lucy by surprise.
“Yes tomorrow. Do you have a problem with that?” Mervis snapped.
“No, of course not,” Lucy answered.
“You don’t sound very convincing Lucy,” Mervis observed. “Is there something you are keeping from me? You better tell me now or I swear to God I will make you regret the day you ever met me.”
“No ma’am, I swear…I am not keeping anything from you,” she replied in a shaking voice. “It’s just that…things are happening so fast. These are my children….”
“What did you say?” Mervis roared.
“I understand that you have your own plans and all… but these are still my children Madam Mervis.”
Lucy was pacing up and down her living room trying to master whatever courage came with her human default settings. She was never a woman to stand up for herself…wasn’t that the very reason she had found herself in such a predicament in the first place?
She had been battered physically and bruised emotionally when Mervis picked her up from the streets and turned her into the perfect woman for a man she would have never ever dreamt of crossing paths with.
What had presented itself as simply an opportunity to have some level of financial standing in life had turned out to be way more than she had bargained for…and now she was stuck at crossroads facing two powerful figures that had the power to ruin her and leave her in a far worse situation than she had been seven years ago.
“You shut up you ungrateful wench!” Mervis yelled into the phone. “If not for me you wouldn’t have those kids in the first place. Do not think about betraying me even for a second or I swear I will things to you that not even your miserable dead husband could have imagined doing to you.”
By the time Mervis was done with her mouthful of threats and insults, Lucy had been reduced to a bundle of nerves and tears sprawled on the cold floor of her living room.
* * *
Following the unexpected yet memorable turn of events that had transpired between him and Evelyn, Kelvin could not get a good night’s sleep. His head was filled with thoughts of her that he could not seem to shake no matter how much he tried.
There was no question about where his relationship with Evelyn would go. There was could only be one possible end and there was only one person that would suffer the most pain if things came to light. It was only a question of when?
But still, that knowledge was not enough to keep Kelvin from seeking out the only woman to have ever made his heart shake with both fear and grace. Thus, when all his calls and texts went ignored, he followed her to the one place he knew she could not run away from him; her place of work.
Evelyn came out of the gate and was ready to head towards the bus stop when Kelvin intercepted her.
She shut her eyes and hang her head in protest and resignation.
“You’ve been avoiding my calls and texts,” Kelvin pressed her immediately.
“What do you want from me Kelvin?” She could finally look at him.
“I missed you,” he said simply.
The confession was fast and unexpected. Evelyn appeared to be at a loss for words. The look in his eyes and the sound of his voice as he said those words to her did something made her blood feel warm against the cold winter atmosphere.
“Let’s go, I’ll give you a ride.” He offered, pointing to his vehicle parked just behind them on the side of the wall fence of her office building.
“Why are you still doing this?” Evelyn asked, not taking the hand he was offering. “I thought we already talked about this. You coming here like this only makes things even harder for me. What if your mother finds out that you were here? There are so many people around here that might know her. Did you even think about that or where you just too busy being selfish caring only about your feelings?”
Her words ripped through Kelvin to his very core. He knew very well the risk he was putting her in and he had fought hard to keep himself from showing up before her but here he was…he had no excuse whatsoever apart from the fact that any moment that went by without setting his sights upon her made him feel like a dead man walking.
Yet that was still not a god enough reason to put her life in danger.
“I can’t,” Kelvin said, looking down at his feet in shame.
“You can’t what?” Evelyn asked, looking around to see if anyone was watching them.
“I can’t go on without seeing you Eva,” he confessed.
Evelyn stopped whatever she was doing and looked at the man standing in front of her. Just what was she to believe; his past or his words?
“I need some time Kelvin,” she told him. “I need to think. I am so confused right now and apart from the fact that there’s a huge part of you that hates me, nothing else seems to make sense. I am both terrified and enamoured by you. I don’t know whether to run from you or to run into your arms and the fact that you know I have this weakness scares me even more.”
“I know that I am the last person you would want to trust especially with your heart, but Eva, I beg of you, please trust me just this once.”
“And what happens after I trust you Kelvin? Now you have only two weeks left to your wedding. Do you still plan on keeping me as your mistress? I refuse in the name of everything holy to be anybody’s mistress.
“The fact that you still insist on shaking up my feelings only proves to me that you are still out for revenge…because if you cared about me as much as you say you do, you wouldn’t be asking this of me.”
“I tried to…” but Kelvin was forced to stop talking when a group of workers came through the gate. “Let’s talk somewhere else, please.” He sent her a pleading look before taking her hand and leading her to his car.
He held the door open for her and waited for her to get settled inside before closing it and walking over to the other side to take his seat behind the wheel.
“I tried to talk to my mother about hastening her revenge but she would not hear a word of it.” Kelvin said as he drove them to whatever place he had in mind.
“Did you actually think that she would listen to you?” Evelyn asked. “I guess you just as naïve as you are calculative.”
Kelvin threw her a side eye but quickly put his focus back on the road. “I had to try…just to check what exactly I was dealing with and it didn’t look so good.”
“And yet you still showed up at my work place. Where are you taking me anyway? I hope it’s not to my place. There are spies planted there. I really hate that kind of drama.”
Kelvin laughed. “Relax, we are just going to drive around and then I will get a cab to take you home later.”
“Someone could still see us in the same car and it’s just as bad as all other possible scenarios.”
“You think too much Eva, relax.”
“How can I relax? Your fiancé is crazy! I already feel like a side chick riding around in your vehicle like this.”
“You can’t be the side chick when you are the one I love,” Kelvin stated matter-of-factly.
“Is that supposed to make me feel special?” Evelyn scoffed. “You really know nothing about love or women.”
“I will find a way for us to be together Eva…and I promise not to defile your virtue in the process. Can you trust me on that one, please?”
“Make it so that your mother does not make me pay for my mother’s sins and I promise to give my life to you.” She said with a sombre expression on her face.
“I hope you keep your word,” he said, mirroring her expression as he fixed his gaze on the road ahead.
Early the next morning just before her flight, Mervis had scheduled a meeting at the airport with one of her suppliers.
He was a very short man with a pot-belly that proved a little overwhelming for his short frame but the stride in his step spoke of a man with an even fatter bank account.
Mervis came out of the vehicle when she saw him pull up next to her in the car park.
The man stepped out of his vehicle carrying an A4 envelope in his hands.
Smiling with a great sense of familiarity, he shook Mervis’ hand and handed her the envelope.
“All the documents are in there,” the short and round forty-something year old man said. There was no mistaking his heavy foreign accent, and the rare and authentic African print design he was wearing screamed his Nigerian origins even before he opened his mouth.
“Did he sign all of them?” Mervis asked.
“Yes he did,” the man answered.
“He wasn’t suspicious?”
“Of course not, why would he be?” he said smugly. “The man made a lot of enemies before he left Nigeria and all those people have a bone to chew with him. It wasn’t very difficult coming up with a phony company and getting those contacts to sign on it.
“We left no room for speculation…and of course it helped that you offered us seventy percent of the stakes and only took thirty for yourself. That in itself was enough to motivate the interested parties.”
“That’s because I don’t need his money Mr Chukwu. I already have enough to last me four lifetimes. I just need to leave them broke and desperate.”
“And that they will be,” the man said chirpily. “He made no hesitation investing eighty percent of his wealth into the business. He thinks he’s going to be Africa’s Bill Gates.”
Mervis laughed heartily. “That man is way too ambitious, that’s his biggest weakness.” She remarked.
“I guess he picked the wrong woman to be his enemy,” Mr Chukwu commented. “I would certainly hate to be your enemy Madam Mervis. You are one hell of a business woman.”
“Mwangala is not my enemy actually,” Mervis corrected her business partner. “He just happened to be in the same bed as my worst enemy. You know what they say; a friend to my enemy is also my enemy.”
“I thought it was an enemy of my enemy is my friend?” Mr Chukwu said, laughing.
“It’s one and the same thing Mr Chukwu…one and the same….” Mervis said as she flipped the papers inside the envelope with her thumb.
And now I have to get my hands on that remaining twenty per cent, Beatrice was saying in her head.
* * *
Beatrice was in a very terrible mood the following evening when she returned home from work and found her husband happily watching a game between Man City and his new favourite team Leicester City.
She stormed into the living room and threw her handbag on the floor. She was soaked in rage and her lips were quivering from all the pent up anger she had been waiting to release from the moment she learnt what her husband had done behind her back.
“You are back home early today,” Shadreck greeted his wife without paying much attention to her since his attention was on the game on tv. It might not have been live but Beatrice had walked in at a very crucial moment that he couldn’t risk looking away for too long.
Noticing his lack of attention, Beatrice went for the remote control on the sofa beside him and turned off the tv unceremoniously.
“What did you do to our businesses Shadreck?”
Mr Mwangala immediately weighed the kind of trouble he was in. she only called him by his first name when she was extremely mad…and this was one of those times.
“You found out already?” He said, sitting up straight to brace himself for the oncoming verbal torture.
“You found out already?” Beatrice spat. “Is that all you are going to tell me in this situation Bashi Moola? Have you lost your mind? You sold off all our shares without consulting me and all you can say is; you found out already?”
“Calm down honey,” Shadreck said. “Sit down and let’s talk about this like civilized people. I might have done something like this behind your back but I had very good reasons…and I am still your husband.”
His tone alone was enough to make Beatrice sit down. The man might be crazy in-love with her, but he never allowed those feelings to interfere with the kind of respect he felt he deserved from his wife.
“Just explain to me, what did you do with all our money?” Beatrice asked, visibly controlling her tone and expression to come off as calm as possible.
“I was going to tell you later on,” Shadreck was saying. “I wanted it to be a surprise for our anniversary.”
“Selling off our shares and making us lose control of our businesses sounds like an anniversary gift to you? Why am I not jumping up in joy right now? Could there be something wrong with me?”
“Why don’t you let me finish explaining at least,” he said.
“Explain,” Beatrice said, folding her arms over her chest.
“You remember that business deal I was working on over the weekend?” He asked her.
“You know very well that I had been chasing that deal for so many years. Those guys only agreed to let me in when I offered to raise the amount. At first I was a bit sceptical since we were dealing with a lot of money but then I spoke to my contact in Nigeria who told me that that area was a haven for oil, that we had to move in fast before the government and other stake holders realised the value of that area.
“I spent two weeks doing some research during my trip two months ago and I found out that everything was true. I knew that if I came to you and told you about my plans, you would not agree to take such a risk. You are way too cautious but sometimes business requires that you take certain risks.”
“By risking our life savings you mean?” Beatrice hissed.
“I invested them Beatrice. I have made well calculated business moves in the past and I would expect that you would trust me this time again. Have I ever failed you before?”
“You have never risked our entire fortune before Shadreck,” she said. “And you deceived me into signing documents that gave away everything I own.”
“Not everything my dear,” he said, getting up and walking over to sit next to her. “I never touched the two businesses you control. Those are completely under your control. I know that in every business deal there’s a risk that it might not go as expected, so…just in case something like that happens…at least you would still have something to lean on.”
“Is that supposed to comfort me?” Beatrice asked.
Shadreck tried to hold her hand but she was not in the mood to entertain him.
“I am sorry honey,” Shadreck said, looking extremely apologetic. “But I promise I won’t let you down once this thing comes through. I promise.”
Beatrice didn’t seem moved at all. “I am not comfortable with all this. How can you even trust those people after everything that happened in the past? You took off with their money when and left them to fend for themselves. I can bet you all my life savings that they never forgot about that. People never forget the wrongs they’ve been dealt in life. I know I wouldn’t.”
“They are businessmen Beatrice,” he tried to reassure her. “Besides, I never took their money. I took what was rightfully mine and left to grown my small fortune where I saw an opportunity. It was all business and they said they understood. They wouldn’t be where they are today if they didn’t understand such a simple fact.”
“That’s what you think, but humans are scary by nature.” She said. “How much are you expecting from this deal?”
“If I told you that you might be the Oprah Winfrey of Africa, would that help remove that frown on your face?” Shadreck said, smiling at his lovely young wife.
Beatrice was looking at her husband like she had just swallowed a happy pill, forgetting for a moment about another issue of concern she had against her husband.
Just who was the woman he was keeping in Tanzania?
Those kids she had heard him mention on the phone, where they his? How many were they?
And why couldn’t she find any information about the identity of that woman?
What was Shadreck hiding from her?
She wanted to ask him all this and many other questions…but the issue of money had crept up on her very suddenly and overshadowed all the worries that had been keeping her busy all week.
At Evelyn’s home front that evening, she opened the door to the house after a long day at work and found her house mate and best friend Thando enjoying a hearty laugh with Lebo.
Lebo could not explain the look he saw in her eyes when their eyes met.
As Lebogang continued smiling at her as if she was the source of his Oxygen, Evelyn could not help wondering, what was that nagging feeling she was feeling in her heart?
That same evening, Kelvin was alone in his room, pacing back and forth with his phone in his hands as Evelyn’s words echoed through his mind;
Make it so that your mother does not make me pay for my mother’s sins and I promise to give my life to you.
For the first time in his life, Kelvin had found a purpose for living, a fight of his own and not one decided for him by someone else.
But just how was he to balance his love and loyalty between the woman he had loved all his life and the woman he wanted to love for the rest of his life?
Looking down at his phone for the last night, Kelvin’s mind was made up.
He dialled a number and raised the phone to his ear.
“Ms Lucy?” Kelvin said.