Stacie was at a lecture hall during lectures when her phone vibrated in her bag. Betty glanced at her as she searched her bag for her phone. She brought it out. It was a text message from Jessica.
“What does it say?” Betty whispered.
“SOS…very urgent emergency.”
“What does it mean?”
“I don’t know; she was pretty ill when I passed by yesterday. I guess it had gotten serious. I’ve to rush to her place,” Stacie said hastily as she put her book in her bag.
“What, now? This lecture is crucial, you know that. He might give us examination tit-bits.”
“That’s why I have you. Make sure you listen carefully. I’ll call you, okay?” She said and got up.
“Stacie, wait!” She walked out of the hall.
“Jessie, I’m here! Where are you?” Stacie cried out when she entered the house.
“Jessie?” She entered the bedroom. Jessie was on the floor, groaning in pain. Stacie gasped as she knelt down beside her and held her.
“Jessie, what’s wrong with you?”
“I don’t know…. I feel like I’m going to die.”
“Come on don’t say that. We need to go to the hospital immediately.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Jessie, I left my lecture hall scared out of my wits and this looks serious. Being ill isn’t good for the baby. Come on, let me help you up.” She helped her up with much effort and led her to the car. She rushed her to the hospital.
Jessica was instantly rushed into the ICU. After about half an hour later, a doctor came out. Stacie rushed to him.
“What is wrong with her, doctor?”
“Are you related to her?”
“I’m her…. I’m her…..sister-in-law.”
“Then where’s your brother?”
“Just tell me what is wrong with her, doctor.”
“Her condition is very critical and we need to operate on her.”
“Operate? But she’s pregnant. Wouldn’t that affect the baby?”
“There is that risk but it could be worse if we wait any longer.”
“I see…then go ahead.”
“I also realize she has no insurance. That would cost you.”
“How much are we talking about here?”
“500 what?” Stacie asked, stunned.
“Have you forgotten our national currency? Go get the money and there would be a chance to save your in-law,” the doctor said and turned to walk away.
“But wait…can’t you start the operation? I promise, I will get you the money.”
“I’m sorry ma’am but human promises don’t work here. Do hurry up…her life depends on it.” He left her.
“Oh God, what do I do?”
“What is it?” Jason asked as he picked up the phone.
“Your sister is here.”
“Is she? I hope it’s not the same woman you let in the other time.”
“No sir. She’s the one, sir.”
“Come on give me the phone,” Stacie said hastily as she snatched the phone.
“Can I come in now, please? It’s urgent, Jason.”
“Sure; come in sis.” Stacie handed the phone back to the secretary. The door opened and she entered. Jason got up to meet her.
“What is it, Stacie? You look terrible.” They hugged.
“I need your help, brother.”
“What is wrong?”
“It’s…. it’s Betty.”
“What is wrong with Betty?”
“Something happened and…and she has to be operated upon and…and I need… I need some money for her operation.”
“Why don’t you call her parents?” Jason asked with a suspicious tone.
“It’s….it’s….please, Jason…. I really need this money.”
“She didn’t attempt an abortion, did she?”
“Of course not.”
“Then why are you not telling her parents about this? What happened to Betty, Stacie?”
“Are you going to give me the money or not?” There was a moment of intense silence as they stared hard at each other.
“Fine, how much do you want?”
“Please Jason, her time is running out. I’m begging you.”
“If you’re involved in anything shady….”
“I’m not, Jason! Please…if it wasn’t that urgent, I wouldn’t have come to you.”
When Jason only sighed, Stacie said, “I think I made a mistake coming here. I’ll just rush to mum because I know she will give me the money without drilling me like this.” She turned to leave.
“Stacie, wait.” She stopped.
“I’ll give you a cheque.”
“No, I need cash,” She said as she turned to face him. Jason was puzzled more than ever.
“What the hell are you going to pay for that you can’t accept a cheque?”
“Seriously, Jason? Do you have cash on you or not?”
Jason opened a drawer and brought a bundle out.
“I remember taking 50 out yesterday so it must be 450.”
“Don’t worry; I’ll add up the 50,” Stacie said hastily as she reached out to take the money. Jason raised his hand.
“What is going on, Stacie?”
“Why are you making me beg like this? I’m telling you it’s urgently important.” Jason stared into her eyes intensely as he dropped the bundle into Stacie’s outstretched hand.
“Thank you; I’ll forever be grateful,” She said as she began to leave.
“You’re going to have to explain to me what this is all about, Stacie.”
“I promise I will,” Stacie said and with that, she left the office. Jason sat down.
“Betty, Betty, Betty…..” Jason said to himself.
Stacie was sitting with tears flowing down her cheeks when she heard someone call her name. She lifted her head and saw Betty and George approaching her. She got up in tears and she hugged her best friend.
“It’s okay, Stacie; what is going on?” Betty asked.
“Jessie’s condition is bad and…she could lose the baby.”
“Oh no….that’s so bad.” Stacie nodded as she broke into uncontrollable sobs.
“So what’s going on now?” George asked.
“She’s undergoing an operation.”
“What? Will she lose the baby?”
“I don’t know,” Stacie said, crying.
“Does Jason know about this?” Stacie shook her head.
“And why not? His child could be in grave danger.”
“I went to him for money for the operation but i told him it was you.”
“Me? Why didn’t you tell him the truth?”
“I didn’t want to risk Jessie’s well-being over an hour long argument.” George rubbed his palm on Stacie’s back in a consoling manner.
“She’ll be all right.” After some time, the ladies excused themselves to visit the bathroom. George was sitting alone when he heard Stacie’s phone rang. He looked around to see if they were returning. When he didn’t see them in sight, he took her phone from her handbag. He sighed when he saw it was Jason. He hesitated before answering it.
“Hi; and may I know who this is?”
“Sorry it’s George.”
“Yeah of course. Where’s my sister?”
“She just excused herself to use the bathroom with Betty.”
“Betty? But she told me she was undergoing some sort of surgery.”
When George didn’t reply, Jason asked, “What the hell is going on, George?”
George sighed. “Talk to me, George and I trust that you’d tell me the truth.”
“Why don’t you come here yourself?”
“Where are you now?”
“At the hospital.”
“Is Stacie okay?”
“She’s pretty emotional right now so if you could please come over, it would help.”
“All right; I’ll be there. Thanks, George.” He hung up.
“Don’t you think you should tell Jason the truth now? You can’t handle this by yourself. You need his shoulder.”
“I know; I will think about it. I’m just praying that Jessie will be safe from the danger.”
“You’ve really come to like this lady, haven’t you?”
Stacie nodded, trying to keep the tears from falling but failed.
“This is all because of my mother. She messed everything up.”
“I sincerely don’t see your mother’s hand in this.”
“She caused them to break up, Betty. Although Jessie has acted maturely about this; but it has really affected her. I’m sure it’s the psychological trauma she’s suffering that has landed her in this critical condition.”
“And Jason is okay being apart from her?”
“He’s acting as if he is but I know he’s also hurting inside. My mum has an incredible way of getting everyone wrapped around her finger.”
“She must be given the award for most influential figure in your family then since she seems to influence how everyone’s life runs,” Betty said sarcastically. Stacie chuckled.
“Let’s go back to George or else he’ll feel bored,” Betty suggested.
“How did you get to come with him?”
“I met him after the lecture and when I told him about Jessie, he wanted to come and see you. You know the last thing he likes is to see you hurting.”
“I know; I hope I’d be able to return that affection one day.”
“I know you will. Come on, let’s go.”
Jason entered the hospital. After searching around a bit, his eyes fell on George. He approached him. As he drew closer, he saw Betty and Stacie approaching George. Stacie stopped abruptly when she saw her brother. Jason also stopped. Stacie broke into fresh sobs as she ran to her brother. Jason opened his arms towards her. He caught her and embraced her tightly. Stacie was crying heavily now. George and Betty approached them.
“Shush…..it’s okay,” Jason whispered to her. He rubbed her back consolingly. When Stacie calmed down a bit, he held his sister’s face and looked into her red eyes.
“It seems Betty isn’t the one undergoing the operation, is she?” Stacie shook her head.
“I’m sorry….about that.”
“It’s okay; I knew it wasn’t her. So are you going to tell me what you’ve been up to?”
After staring at his brother for some time, she nodded. A doctor approached them. Stacie turned to face the doctor as Jason wrapped his arms around her.
“How’s she doing, doctor?” Stacie asked when she found her voice.
“Is he your brother?” the doctor asked as he pointed at Jason.
“Yeah I am. What’s going on, doctor?”
“Well, there were some complications and she might have to deliver earlier than expected.” Stacie gasped.
“You mean, prematurely?” Jason asked.
“Yeah…and I assure you the baby will be well taken care of.”
“But is the baby fully developed to come out yet?”
“Not very; that’s why I would recommend that she stays here a bit longer so we can monitor the child’s well-being.”
“All right; and that would demand more cost.”
“Don’t worry about that, doc,” Jason assured him.
“Can we see her?” Stacie requested.
“She’s still unconscious but you can do so. Just let your visit be brief, okay?”
“All right; thanks, doctor.”
“You two go and see her. George and I will wait here,” Betty said. Stacie nodded.
They entered her ward. Stacie took her hand and squeezed it.
“She looks pretty asleep,” She commented as she forced a smile and wiped a trail of tears away.
“Yes she does,” Jason said as he touched her hair. He glanced at his sister.
“Thank you, sis.”
“For keeping an eye on her and caring for me in my place.” Stacie nodded.
“You still believe the child isn’t yours?” He looked at her.
“I don’t know. I guess we can only tell when the baby arrives, right?”
“What do you mean?”
“Test results can be rigged but you cannot change one’s phenotype, can you?”
“I guess not.” He leaned forward and kissed Jessie’s forehead.
“Let’s go, Stacie.” She gave Jessie’s hand another squeeze and let go. They went outside.
“How long will she be unconscious, doctor?” Stacie asked.
“For a few hours…like two.”
“So can we wait for her to wake up?”
“If you wish to.” Stacie looked at his brother.
“All right, we’ll wait. Thanks, doctor.”
“Any time.” He excused himself and walked away.
“Thanks for passing by sweetie but I think you should go home now. It’s getting late.”
“All right; I’m glad Jason came over. If you need anything, let me know, okay?”
“Sure,” Stacie said, nodding. They hugged. Stacie hugged George.
“Thanks for coming…. I really appreciate it,” She whispered to him.
“I know….take care, okay.”
“Thanks for being here with her. I owe you two,” Jason said.
“It’s nothing. We’ll be on our way now.”
“Okay….what about my car?” Stacie asked.
“What about it?”
“I don’t think I’m in the mood to drive. You came with a car, right?”
“Yeah, we came in mine,” George asked.
“Then could you drive mine to campus, please?”
“Yeah, because I’m going home myself,” George said.
“It would be a pleasure.” Stacie took the car key from her bag and gave it to her.
“I’ll take care of it as if it is one of my super-designer handbags,” Betty said with a wink. Stacie smiled.
“I know you will.” They hugged again.
“You two take care, okay?”
“We will; bye.” They walked away. Stacie hugged her brother again.
“Are you hungry?” Jason asked.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“You want to grab something?”
“Yeah.” They walked outside with their arms around each other.
As they were returning, the doctor approached them.
“She just woke up. She was asking for Stacie.”
“Yeah, that’s me. Can we go in?”
“Of course; but remember, she needs to stay calm.”
“Okay, doctor; thank you.” They rushed to her room.
“Jessie!” Stacie called out when she entered.
“Stacie…,” Jessie said weakly as she stretched her hand towards her. Stacie took it. Jessie gasped when she saw Jason at the door. She looked at Stacie who only smiled.
Jason approached the bed and stood at the other side.
“How are you feeling?” He asked softly as he touched her hair.
“I feel better…. I’m glad you’re here, Jason.”
“So am I.”
“Do you guys need some private time together?” Stacie asked.
“Really? There’s nothing private you don’t already know,” Jason said. Jessie smiled.
“I’m sorry for pulling you out of lectures, Stacie,” Jessie apologized.
“Never mind; anything for my unborn nephew.”
“Thank you…. I think you should go home now. It’s getting late. I don’t want any drama episodes with Susan.”
“Are you going to be all right by yourself?” Jason asked her.
“Yeah, I want to sleep actually.”
“Are you sure?” Stacie asked.
“Yeah, besides I’ve kept you here for hours. You must be tired yourself. You could pass by tomorrow.”
“Okay, see you then. Take care of yourself, okay?” Stacie said as she pecked her.
“Yeah I will.”
“I’ll come tomorrow, okay?” Jason assured her and kissed her forehead.
“Bye, Jessie,” Stacie said.
“Bye…. I love you,” Jason said. His last words brought a big smile to Jessie’s face.
“Yeah, I love you too.” They left.
“So Jessie is your invented ‘Betty’ you’ve been seeing, huh?” Jason asked in the car.
“Yeah… are you angry with me?”
“No….in fact, I’m grateful. You stood in for me when I ran away in cowardice. Thank you.”
They arrived home. Susan stood when they entered.
“And where have you two been? You got me worried?” Susan asked.
“Really? Haven’t seen a missed call from you on my phone,” Stacie wondered aloud.
“Where are you coming from?” Jason was about to speak but Stacie cut in saying, “We just hang around and talked.”
“I see. Your dinner is on the table if you’re still up for it.”
“I’ll be in my room. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight and thanks for waiting up for us,” Jason said.
“Yeah.” She went upstairs to her room.
“So what’s going to happen?”
“What do you mean?” Jason asked back.
“Between you and Jessie….are you going to stick with her till she comes out of the hospital or will you go back to her for good?”
“Give me time to think through this, okay? This past hour has got my thoughts all jumbled up.”
“Okay….but I do hope you make up your mind quickly.”
“I will.” They hugged.