The first thing I did when I got home was have a hot shower. I was hoping that the warmth of the water would calm down the hysterical voices in my head but all it did was subtly scald my body. I got out of the shower and helped myself to some good food. Yeah, I eat when I am anxious; a lot.
Fitz entered the dining room with a phone to his ear. He gave me a curious look and ended his call.
“What’s going on?” He sat, pulling a chair and sitting down.
“Nothing; I’m just eating,” I said with a shrug.
“You’re not eating; you’re devouring the food which means something is eating at you. What’s wrong?” Awww…it’s so sweet when someone knows you that well, right?
“I stepped out and one of my course mates pestered me today.”
“Male or female?”
“Female, which made it more annoying. The good thing is she wasn’t really sure if I was Emily. When will people ever mind their own business?”
“After they die, apparently,” he said. He sighed and added, “I’ve been searching for the mole.” That made me pause, the fork a few inches from my mouth. When he glanced at me, I put the fork down.
“Is something wrong?” When I didn’t reply, he added, “You don’t know the mole, do you?”
“Of course not.”
“But if you did, you would tell me, right?” His look was too intense for comfort which made me fidget in my seat.
“Maybe,” I said honestly. He looked shocked.
“Well, it depends.”
“Depends on what?”
“Depends on what you plan to do when you find out who he is.”
“It’s a he?”
“I meant it generically. I don’t know the mole.”
“I don’t believe you, Emily.”
“Why would I lie to you?”
“I have no idea but why you’d keep the identity of the one who announced to the whole world that you cheated on your husband with his protégé beats me.”
I flinched at his blunt allusion.
“You want to know why the hesitation? I’m afraid.”
“Afraid of what?”
“Afraid of what you’d do to him.”
“What do you mean? What could I possibly do to him?”
“If whatever happened to me is something to go by then a lot of ideas come to mind, Fitz.”
“I am not a monster, Em.”
“Maybe but you do have a dark side and it’s damn scary.”
“I just want to know why he leaked it. He’s not getting any money out of it so why?”
“Money isn’t the motive for everything, you know.”
“Yeah, I do and from where I sit, it’s either money or revenge. If it were the former, I’d say it’s just a smart way of extorting money from me but if it’s the latter, it’s personal. And if that’s the case, then it’s someone close to us or better put, you.”
He was staring hard at me again.
“I don’t know who it is, Fitz.” He nodded.
“I have an interview coming up.” When my eyes widened in curiosity, he added, “I have to respond to those allegations. My reputation is at stake.”
“What are you going to say?”
“I’m going to back Adam’s words.”
“I’m sorry for causing you so much trouble. You don’t deserve it.” He rubbed my back.
“It’s okay; without you, my life would be next to boring. You made it nothing short of dramatic.” That made me smile. How he could see the brighter side of my chaotic life, I couldn’t tell.
“I don’t know if you want to be around for the interview…”
“I’d rather not,” I refused instantly.
“Well, I’ll be having the interview here.” “Here, why? Why not your office ?”
“I figured I’d be more comfortable having it here.”
“Great which means I have to find a place to be far away from here.”
“I think it’d be great if you joined me. We could put this matter to rest once and for all.”
“Oh no; I’m not going to give the media the golden opportunity to plaster my face all around. It’s funny; I’ve always wanted to come on TV but if my first and who knows might be my last chance happens to be lying to the world about the paternity of my baby then I’ll pass.”
“You can’t avoid this forever. You’d have to come out at one point.”
“I’m content playing the hide-and-seek game so far. When I’m tired, I’ll let you know,” I said and got up. Fitz sighed.
“Aren’t you going to finish your food at least?”
“I’ve lost the appetite.”
I had to go out and clear my head. I took my phone to call my ever-supportive friend. And I had to find a way to make her move on from James. If he never really loved her, then he never deserved Karen’s love in the first place. When Karen answered the call, her voice was all chirpy with excitement. This was a good sign, perhaps she was already over James.
“You sound cheerful,” I remarked.
“Oh yeah, it’s a good day and guess what?!”
“Um…Drake followed you back on Twitter?”
“Very funny! Guess who came back to his senses?”
“Um…where do I start?” I said, deliberately stalling.
“Don’t be silly, Em. James came home to apologize.”
“Oh he did!” I said, hoping to sound cheerful but ended up being flat.
“What was that?”
“What?” “It sounded like you’re not that amused about the news.”
“Of course not, Karen. It has been my prayer topic for some days now.”
“You praying? Now I know for sure you’re lying.”
“Oh, I’m taking God seriously now. Isn’t that what you’ve been drumming into my head since forever?”
“If it’s true; then I’m happy. But yeah, James came back.”
“Stop being fake, Em; you’ve always been terrible at acting.” I laughed.
“So it’s all good now?”
“Yeah, it’s all good, hence my mood.”
“I can tell. We have to celebrate that. How about we go out?”
“As long as you drive me back home, we’re good.”
“Of course I would. Okay, great! We’ll meet tonight and toast to your reunion.” “Looking forward to it!”
“Great, talk to you soon, dear.” I ended the call and sighed. I didn’t know what game James was playing but if I was one of the cards on the table, then he was betting on losing the round.
“Getting ready, huh?” I heard Fitz’s voice behind me as I was applying my lipstick.
“Will you be taking Karen with you?” I turned slowly to face him for dramatic effect.
“This is a girls’ day out not a mommy’s get-together, Fitz.”
“But you’re no longer a girl, Emily; you’re a mother now and the earlier you grow up to take on the role, the better.” Oh no, he didn’t just dampen my mood.
“Are you calling me a horrible mother?” He leaned against the door with crossed arms.
“I’m not saying that you are but you’re not far from earning that title.”
“Are you trying to get me angry because you’re doing a fantastic job right now.” He laughed.
“I know; it’s been a while since I saw the fierce you. I miss her.” I shook my head and turned to face my dressing mirror.
“But seriously, who will take care of her whiles I’m having the interview. Rose isn’t in today.”
“Come on, Fitz Daniels. You’re a brilliant man. You know how to seize opportunities in crisis. The world thinks the baby isn’t yours; show them how wrong they are by cuddling her during your interview. Trust me, hearts will melt towards you,” I said with a wink. He nodded.
“That’s smart,” he admitted.
“You married a smart woman.”
“It’s just a smart way of asking me to babysit Karen.”
“And again, it’s smart, right? I promise I won’t stay out late. I’ll be here soon after your interview ends.” I got up and gave him a loud kiss on the cheek which made him chuckle. He held me around the waist, locking his fingers.
“Don’t keep long out, okay?” I gave him a mock military salute which made him laugh again. He kissed my forehead.
“I love you, Emily.”
“I know, I’m lovable.” He chuckled. I hugged him and we stayed in that position for a while.
“You’ll be fine,” I said, knowing he would have preferred me being with him at the interview. He nodded and pulled back.
I arrived at the pub twenty five minutes later than our agreed time. Karen would have my head for entrée. I rushed inside only to find her being all cosy with James. Seriously, was this some sort of threesome celebration? If so, I surely didn’t get the memo. I braced myself and walked to them.
“Hey, Em!” Karen said and hugged me. James only gave me a cool stare which I returned in equal measure.
“I’m glad you two have sorted things out.”
“You didn’t tell me he’d be joining us.”
“He isn’t; he was just keeping me company till you arrived. Knowing you, you’d be late and as usual, you didn’t disappoint,” she said with a forced smile. I pulled her nose.
“I’ll leave you two to hang out. There are some things I need to see to. Do you mind escorting me outside?” James said, looking at me. What was he doing? I glanced at Karen who clearly didn’t see anything wrong with James’ request.
“Sure. Hold my bag and don’t snoop.” “You shouldn’t have said that. You know I do exactly what you tell me not to.”
“I know. I’ll be right back.” We stepped out.
“So back together, huh?”
“Yep,” he said, pocketing his hands.
“I hope it is for real this time, James.”
“It is. I’m sorry for springing up my feelings on you like that. It’s in the past and I want to move on with Karen…for real.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
“Do I get a hug?” When I hesitated, he added, “Come on, we’ve hugged several times before.”
“Yeah, when I didn’t know what you were thinking. Now that I do know, it’s hard to un-know it.” He pulled me into his arms.
“You’re a good person, Emily; complicated but good. I don’t want things to be awkward between us. I understand that you can never un-hear the stuff I said but I’m asking you to please see me the same way. I will love Karen as she deserves.”
“Take care of yourself, Jay.”
“You too, Em.” I went back inside. Karen was busily munching on my Snickers. So predictable. I sat.
“I can see you snooped after all,” I said, taking my bag from her.
“Like you didn’t want me to find it,” Karen said, licking her finger. I chuckled.
“Let’s order and start the night!”
“How’s my name doing?”
“She’s good. Can you believe Fitz wanted me to bring her along?”
“Oh, really? Why didn’t you?”
“Come on, Karen. You know how babies love to announce their presence in public places. I didn’t want any more attention than what I’ve already attracted.”
“Ok but next time let the three of us have a date together.”
“Sure, it’s a date!”
We were recovering from a fit of laughter when Karen suddenly looked serious and pointed to the TV set behind me.
“Isn’t that Fitz? You didn’t tell me he was going to be interviewed.” I turned to glance at the screen and shrugged.
“Some issues stay between the husband and wife. Marriage 101.”
“Yeah right.” Karen snapped her fingers, getting the barman’s attention.
“Could you increase the volume a little bit, please?” He nodded.
“Thanks,” she smiled sweetly.
“Oh gosh, are you flirting?”
“Whatever it takes to listen to the interview you conveniently forgot to tell me about.”
“Come on, why do you think we’re here? So we don’t have to listen!”
“Oh and I thought it was about me. Oh Emily, when will you ever do something solely for someone else?”
“Hey, I’m not that selfish. I do….”
“Shush!” She said and feigned paying attention to the interview.
“Thanks for having us come over to your residence, Mr. Daniels.”
“Is Mrs. Daniels around?” The cocktail I was sipping suddenly tasted sour.
“No, she’s out at the moment. Maybe you’ll catch her at the end of our meeting.”
“Hope to.” I began to dig into the khebab.
“Hey, don’t finish it all.”
“I came to eat and not watch TV.”
“How do you respond to the allegations that claim that Adam the artiste is the father of your wife’s baby?”
“Well, that’s an outrageous lie and I’m not going to waste time debating it. My time is too precious for that.”
“I agree but excuse me for being blunt but a source revealed to us that it is not possible to claim the baby as yours because you cannot make one.”
My heart missed a beat and I dropped my glass which shattered after a sharp encounter with the floor. I froze.
“Emily, are you okay?”
“Once again, that’s outrageous. I need to know this source and sue the living hell out of him.”
“Should we leave?” Karen asked in a worried tone when she saw I still hadn’t moved.
“So the allegations are totally false?” “They are and whoever it is will definitely hear from my lawyer.”
When I felt sensation in my fingers, I took my bag and got up.
“Fine, let’s take this to go, okay?” I nodded. Karen raised her hand. My face felt wet and I touched it. My makeup was ruined.
“Thank you,” Karen said, taking the poly bag from him and paid him. We went outside and I gave her the car key. We drove off without another word.
“I’m sorry…that was brutal.”
“I can’t believe my mistake is costing Adam is career and Fitz his reputation. I was so stupid.”
“Don’t beat yourself up too much. Those people are insensitive, that’s all. I hope no one requests you come out and clear the air.”
“With Fitz’s image on the line, do I have a choice to refuse?” Karen couldn’t answer.