Karen’s face broke into a smile when Fitz pulled the car to a halt in front of the hostel.
“Hey,” she said when the windows rolled down.
“Hi Karen; how are you doing?”
“By God’s grace, I’m well. How about you?”
“We’re good too. I’m sorry I have to bring her here, I know she’s my responsibility.”
“Oh don’t mention it; I love to have her with me.”
“I even suggested you coming over to our house instead but Emily said you’d prefer it here on campus.”
“Yeah, we don’t have to deal with traffic here on campus.”
“Sure; I’ve instructed the driver to bring the car for your use whiles I’m away.”
“How long will you be gone?”
“Two weeks but I hope to return earlier than that.”
“Okay.” I glanced at my husband and then at my best friend as they talked as if I was being dropped at my babysitter’s.
“Promise me you’ll take good care of yourself, Em,” Fitz said.
“I will, Fitz. And you take care too.”
“I will.” He kissed my cheek and I opened the door. Karen held it and helped me out of the car. She took my suitcase from the back seat and closed the door.
“Let me know when you arrive,” I said.
“I will, honey.” I blew him a kiss and he waved. He drove away.
“Welcome back to campus, darling. I hope the college girl is still there in you somewhere.”
“Of course she is. I’m having some cravings right now.”
“Oh no, I forgot how irritating that can be. Let’s go in.”
I scowled as I glanced through the course outline Karen had just handed me.
“We are going to study all these?”
“Yep; you should see the other ones. It looks like the lecturers conspired to give us a hard time this semester.”
“I see. Do you know anyone who has a thing for pregnant yet sexy girls?”
“I need someone to cover the many assignments yet to come.” She chuckled.
“Very funny. Maybe you should call Tony. Who knows, he might still be interested,” she teased. I rolled my eyes at her.
“I have enough drama going on in my life. I don’t need a Tony-ful dose of it.”
“Talking of drama, how are things between you and Adam?”
“Haven’t heard from him since he came here a week ago. It’s been dead silent. His withdrawal is actually creeping me out. I know I asked him to let go but now that he has, I feel like I lost a piece of me.”
“You want to see him?”
“No; it’s better this way. I’ll get over it. I have to.” Karen nodded.
Transiting between the hostel and the lecture halls got easier thanks to the car made available to me. Karen was more than glad to chauffeur us around. When too exhausted to prepare lunch, we’d get some food to buy after which we’d catch a nap before the next one.
I lay on my bed during one of our siesta times looking at my contacts’ display photos on WhatsApp since I wasn’t sleepy. Some were cute, others funny and others…all I could say was “what were they thinking?!”
I paused on the scrolling when it got to Adam’s name. I clicked on his photo to take a better look. I stared at his photo for some time. I missed him though I had no right to. I went on to read his status: The only direction left for me is to move forward but I’m heartbroken about the One I have to leave behind.
I blinked and tears gathered in my eyes. I exited the app and put the phone down. If I have to forget about him, this wasn’t the way. But how could I when every heartbeat reminded me of him?
We were goofing around when someone slipped a mini poster under the door. Karen went for it.
“Aha! I was beginning to think it wouldn’t come off this time.”
“What is it?”
“The back to campus paaarrttyyy!” She said excitedly.
“Ah yeah, forgot we used to have those.”
“Please don’t tell me pregnancy is making you lose your edge because I miss her.”
“Well, it depends. Who’s on the bill?”
“Well…the usual.” She hesitated when she saw Adam’s name.
“What is it?”
“Nothing. You’re coming, right?”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Come on, Em! Shake off this gloomy mood. I’m sure the baby is tired of your mood swings as well. Let’s go and have fun. I’ll get you a chair if it comes to that.”
“You’re a terrible babysitter, you know that?” She chuckled.
“I didn’t think I was babysitting anyone unless you’ve become a baby now.” I threw a pillow at her. She laughed. There was a knock and the door opened.
“Got you your crave of the hour: shawarma. Here you go.” I looked at it.
“What is it, Em?” Karen asked. I gave her one of my childish looks.
“I really don’t feel like eating it anymore. What I’d like is…”
“Ugh…ugh, you’re not doing this again, Em! Do you realize how much we’ve spent on your on-and-off cravings so far?”
“Don’t worry about that. Fitz will reimburse you.”
“That’s not the point! Go take a look at the fridge. It’s full of your neglected cravings.”
“So eat them.”
“And have you request them again after I’ve finished them? Not again. Once bitten, twice shy.”
“Fine,” I said as I took the wrapped snack from James.
“Got to go. I’m going to watch an EPL match with the guys.”
“Let me guess…Chelsea is playing.” James grinned. He kissed Karen on the cheek.
“Oh so you wouldn’t mind buying…?” They both glared at me so I shut up.
“I was testing you which you have obviously failed.”
“Hope I’ll be seeing you both at the back to campus party.”
“Ah well, if baby mama over here doesn’t ruin it for me, sure.”
“I might consider it if you make one more round for me.”
“See you ladies,” he said and walked out. I laughed.
“Maybe Fitz doesn’t even have a business meeting out there, he just dumped you on me because he couldn’t take it anymore.”
“Ouch; that’s mean, Karen.”
“I’m just being honest,” she said with a shrug.
“How do I look?”
“Go girl, this is the Emily I know and love. You make pregnancy look hot,” Karen said.
I beamed with smiles. I missed campus and campus missed me. I had to let campus know that I was back…baby bump and all.
The party had just begun when we arrived. I saw some of my course mates and we exchanged hugs and pleasantries. It was going to be a good night, I thought.
The MC interrupted the music playing and shouted, “The sensational lover boy just dropped. Let’s show him some love, shall we?” This was greeted with loud cheers and applause.
“Who’s he talking about?” I froze when I saw Adam approaching. Thankfully, he was being flogged with a lot of fans so he didn’t see me.
“Hey…got you your sausage,” Karen said as she came up behind me. I turned to face her.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
“I’m so glad to be back among you guys. The last time I was here was awesome and I have a lot of fond memories of that night,” Adam said over the microphone.
“Oh that…wanted it to be a surprise. You still do like surprises, right?” She said with a silly grin on her face. I snatched the sausage stick from her and bit into one.
“That’s my girl,” Karen said, rubbing my back.
“Fond? Sounds like a girl was involved,” the MC teased. Laughter rang out. Adam chuckled.
“Yeah, you’re right. I kissed a girl that night.” The guys whistled. I rubbed my forehead.
“Oh so there was a kissing? I don’t remember any such account from you,” Karen said. I arched a brow at her.
“Do you tell me all the details about your moments with James?” Karen conceded with a nod.
“So is she here tonight?” the MC probed.
“Not too sure; we are at a…what should I call it…a crossroad right now.”
“But we’re here to have fun, right?” The people cheered in response.
“Yeah, so let’s all put our love troubles on hold for tonight, all right?”
Karen looked at me when I nudged her arm with my elbow.
“What should I do with the stick?”
“I don’t know…throw it away?” She snatched it from me.
“You’re lucky Fitz asked me to be nice.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever.”
James joined us a few minutes later.
“Let’s go get some drinks,” he said to Karen.
“I don’t want to leave…”
“Oh don’t worry about me. You two go; I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m pregnant, not invalid, Karen. I’ll be fine.”
“We’ll be right back.” I hugged myself. I felt a soft tap on my shoulder.
“Hello, Mrs. Daniels.”
“Hi Tony. How did you notice me?”
“Well, you don’t find a lot of pregnant ladies in a crowd like this. It was good for you to come.”
“Yeah, I missed this.”
“Where’s your Siamese twin?”
“She went to get some drinks.”
“Do you mind if I keep you company?”
“No; I don’t. Thanks.” He was quiet for a while.
“How are things between you and Mr. Lover Boy over there?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know…you two still cool?” I shrugged.
“Are you two on a crossroad?”
“If you’re going to bombard me with questions, I suggest you leave me alone.”
“Fine. You look good though.”
“It was a mistake for me to let you go.”
“No, it wasn’t. We were not meant to be, Tony.”
“Maybe but we could have parted on friendlier terms.”
“Yeah maybe but it’s all good. Look at us now, chatting like old friends.”
“I’m also glad you found a good man like Mr. Daniels. He’ll take great care of you.”
“He has. And I’m sure you’ll also find someone worthy for you to take great care of,” I said, looking at him. He smiled.
“Thanks.” I shuddered a little.
“No; I’m good.”
“Who do we have here?” Karen’s voice rang out behind us.
“Hello to you too, Karen,” Tony said. Tony and James shook hands.
“I was keeping her company.”
“Aww…so kind of you.”
“I’ll take my leave now since your other half has arrived. Enjoy the rest of the night, Em.”
“Thanks, you too; Tony.” He hugged me sideways and kissed my cheek. He walked away.
“Kiss on the cheek, was it? No love lost there,” Karen pointed out. I ignored her as I took my can drink from her and took a swig.
“Adam is available for anyone who wants to take a selfie…just make your way to the spot over here…”
My phone rang. Fitz was calling.
“Excuse me guys,” I said and made my way towards quieter place.
“Hey, how are you holding up? Karen informed me about this campus party. Is that where you are at the moment?”
“Yeah; it’s pretty fun. Where are you?”
“Just closed from a meeting. On my way to my hotel room.”
“I’ll order room service. Let me not take you away from the fun. Have a good night, sweetie.”
“You too, darling. Thanks for calling.”
“Anytime.” The call ended.
I smiled at the phone and turned to the way I had come.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bump into…” There he was. I had a lot to say but all I could do was just stare.
“You two know each other?” A lady asked.
“Yeah, hi,” I said weakly.
“No, just someone I used to know,” Adam said and walked away.
My head began to ache. I walked to Karen who paused in her chat with James.
“Are you okay?”
“I just have a headache. I think I’ll go back to the room now.”
“Yeah. Let me have the keys.”
“You want to drive?”
“I want to go but you have to stay so yeah.”
“Come on, please let’s hang around for a few minutes then we can go back together.”
“I wish I could but I need to go.”
“Fine; let me drive you.”
“No, Karen. I can drive. James will be more than glad to bring you, right?” He nodded.
“I’ll see you,” I hugged her and touched James’ arm.
A text came in and I opened the chat whiles walking to my car. A screeching tire made me stop in my tracks. My heart was pounding in fright. I looked up at my potential killer.
We locked gazes and for a moment, a déjà-vu memory came to mind. He drove off after we had both recovered from the shock. I walked to my car and sat inside. I sighed and started the car.
A mixtape of memories played in Adam’s mind. He pulled the car to a halt to find himself breathing heavily. He hit the steering wheel in frustration. He had to move on, he knew he had to but he didn’t want to leave her behind. Not after all that had happened. He put the gear in reverse.
Karen turned when she noticed someone coming toward her.
“She’s gone, Adam.”
“Where? I need to see her.”
“You know you can’t, Adam. For everyone’s sake…”
“For my heart’s sake, I need to see her.”
“She’s not here. She’s gone home.”
“Home as in?”
“Home in as her husband’s house, Adam. You’ve got to let her go.”
“Uh huh, I’ll do that when she lets me go first.”
“What are you talking…?” Adam walked away. Some guys approached him and began chatting.
I was nibbling on some crackers on my bed when Karen entered.
“How was the after party?”
“There is no after party without you, Em.”
“I’m sorry I ruined it. I just had to leave.”
“Yeah because you and Adam met face-to-face.” I looked at her.
“He came back looking for you.” I sat up.
“What did you say? Is he here?”
“No. I told him you had gone home. Emily, I thought you were serious about ending things with Adam.”
“Of course I was; I still am.”
“Then why did he say he’d only let you go if you let him go first?” I blinked hard.
“I have no idea what that means.”
“I’m sure that was a coded message for you but whatever it means, please don’t let him back. Fitz has been more than generous. You shouldn’t take that for granted.”
Having another sleepless night, I opened WhatsApp on my phone, scanning through my contacts to find someone to chat with. I noticed Adam was online. I stared at the phone for many minutes mustering the courage to type something.
Should I or should I not?
She’s online. What’s she doing? Chatting with her girlfriends or waiting for me to type first? Adam asked himself as he also stared at his phone. He was sure Karen would send her his message but he couldn’t tell if she would want to speak to him.
I sighed and exited the chat. There was no point in doing this, I thought as I put the phone down. I closed my eyes and willed myself to sleep.
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