Read Chapter 23 here.
Kwame arrived at the Silverbird cinema at Accra mall and looked around. There were a number of people waiting to get into the theatre. He felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Hey there,” Jackie said sweetly, her lips stretched to a smile.
“Got the tickets,” she said, showing them to him.
“Oh you already bought them?”
“Yeah, I invited you to the movies, right?”
“Uh huh…well, most ladies would suggest a hangout and then expect the guy to pay up.”
“Well as you can see, I’m not most ladies,” she said with a wink.
The door opened and people started coming out.
“Wait here, let me get the popcorn.”
“Let me get that.”
“Nah, I’ll take care of it.”
“I insist,” he insisted, holding her arm. She smiled and nodded. He went ahead and bought two paper bags of popcorn and two Cokes. They entered the theatre and found a good spot to sit. Jackie turned to look at him when he held her hand.
“Sorry for standing you up the other day.”
“I understand. Sorry for making you upset,” she replied with a smile. He kissed her cheek.
When the movie ended, they ordered for pizza at Pizza Hut and sat down to wait. They talked a while about the movie until their pizza arrived and they began eating.
“I know many questions would be going through your mind right now. I’m sure it’s all because of that photo floating on some joke of a blog and I get it. You know very well that Dante and I are no longer together but considering our history, we act cool around each other.”
“Which part of your history are you referring to? The part that he proposed to another woman with your ring or the fact that he went ahead to marry her when you gave him the chance to correct his ‘mistake’?”
Jackie swallowed. She could feel her face heating up. This wasn’t how she was expecting it to go.
“You’re using my prior conversations against me and that’s not fair.”
“What’s unfair about this? I’m stating facts here, am I not?”
“Well, I’m basing it on the fact he’s a great guy who I was with for almost five years! I’m not one to hold grudges. I let go and move on.”
“So there are no loose ends with you and Dante?”
“Not at all. That chapter is closed.” She looked up and saw Cece approaching with a couple of friends.
Oh no, this was a bad time to be running into her like this. She looked away and back at Kwame.
“I’m sorry the photo makes you uncomfortable but I’m not going to act hostile towards Dante because of what happened. I believe I’m better than that.”
Jackie gasped when she felt chilled water splash on her face.
“This is for still sticking to my husband like a leech. After making him get you a job, you still can’t move on, huh? Oh, are you the new guy?” Cece asked, looking at Kwame. Jackie wiped her face with her palm.
Kwame stood up.
“I don’t know who you are but I won’t allow you to disrespect my woman like that,” he said firmly.
“Whoa…Miss Jackie got herself another hot dude but still can’t let go of her old candy. I don’t know when you started seeing her but if she’s still hung up on my man, then it’s possible there’s something you’re not doing right. So please in the name of whatever ego you have, step it up. And as for you, if I see you anywhere near my husband, it’s not going to be pretty,” Cece warned and walked off. Jackie wiped her face with her handkerchief. Tears were flowing down her face.
Kwame looked down at her, a thousand questions on his tongue. Jackie looked up at him. Her eyes had turned red. He shook his head and began to walk away.
“Kwame, where are you going?” She asked, holding his arm.
“Don’t want to be part of this embarrassment more than I already have.”
“Wait, let me explain.”
“When were you going to tell me it was Dante who got you the job?”
“Whenever the conversation required me to. Why does it matter?”
“Oh you think it doesn’t? You just told me you two are not together…”
“We’re not! He got me the job without my knowledge and that was way before we became exclusive. I don’t think I’ve to bring you up to speed on everything I went through before we became us, right?”
“Why would you take a job from him?”
“Hello, have you read the unemployment stats? A job is a job. As long as he’s not my boss, what’s the problem?”
“You two are still hung up on each other. I don’t think I want to be part of this love triangle.”
“Got to go,” he said walked off. Jackie watched him walking away, breathing heavily. Gosh, she wondered how her face looked like now. Her makeup must surely be ruined. She got up and looked around her. A few people were stealing glances at her. She hoped no one recorded a video or took a photo. She was tired of social media kicking her in the butt over her personal issues. She wished people would just mind their business. She took her bag and left.
Dante went out jogging to clear his head. Ever since the initial thought of leaving Cece occurred to him, it’d been all he could think of. He knew there would be some consequences but he was determined to face them – just to make it back to Jackie. He entered the house and took the earpieces out of his ears.
“Hey…was wondering where you had gone to,” Cece said.
“As you can see, went jogging.”
He shrugged and started to walk away. Cece sighed. Jackie hadn’t reported their run-in to him. Her breath caught in her throat when he suddenly turned to face her.
“We need to talk.”
“After dinner,” he said and walked away. Her heart began to beat harder. She didn’t like the sound of this. Whatever he was going to say, he had already made up his mind and something told her she wouldn’t like whatever he had decided.
“Fella, hurry up with the food. Hubby is hungry.”
Maybe she shouldn’t have gone that far in humiliating Jackie in public the way she did. But what other choice did she have? A woman has got to do whatever it takes to protect what is hers. She decided to work off her nervousness by supervising the laying of the table.
When Dante came to the table, he sat down and started eating with indifference.
“So how was your day?” Cece asked, hoping to break the ice.
He nodded and kept on eating. She tapped her manicured nails on the table.
“How was yours?” He asked and looked at her. Her face broke into a smile.
“It went well. Felt a bit funny in the morning but I’m okay.”
Dante was about to ask if it was the cancer but he held his tongue.
“Now that you’re well, what would you like to do?” He asked. That’s what he wanted to ask her? Whew, she was worrying for nothing!
“Well, I was thinking of going back to school to do my masters but I decided against it as I didn’t want to go away from you. So now that I’m feeling much better, I’m thinking of getting a job so we can all leave early in the morning together and return late at night and discuss how stressful work is together,” Cece said dreamily.
Dante held her hands which made her stop chuckling.
“You can do and be whatever you want to, Cece. You don’t need to sacrifice your potential just to be with me,” Dante said calmly. She looked at him with hopeful eyes. What was he saying, that he would go with her overseas to study?
“But you can’t leave everything behind to support me achieve my dream either. After everything…”
“I understand you’re a bit apprehensive about pursuing your own dreams out there because of how we came to be together. You fear you might lose me and that’s not a great way to live.”
Cece started to sigh in relief.
“You’re healthy now and don’t need a chaperone to make you feel better. I think we should part ways.”
That caught Cece off guard. For a moment, she had lost the ability to reply. She breathed in heavily a few times.
“You want to leave me, after everything I’ve done for you? You think you can…”
“No, I don’t. And that’s why I won’t be leaving with anything I’ve gained from this marriage. You and your father can have it all back.”
Gosh, this dude already has a game plan, she thought, horrified.
“Why? Is it because of her, huh?”
“Cece, please don’t start.”
“Why else would you want to leave after settling in so comfortably, huh? Tell me!”
“Because you know why I proposed in the first place! I thought you were dying and you always talked of getting married and having a family and I wanted to help you achieve that dream until…you know.”
“But I didn’t walk into the light, I get it.”
“You’re a wonderful person, Cece but I didn’t plan to spend forever with you. I’ve tried but I don’t think I can anymore. Each day, I feel like I’m breathing less easily and I don’t want to die helping someone live her dream while killing mine.”
“Listen, I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t mean to humiliate her like that. Seeing her just made me angry that a public photo of you two together puts you in a negative light that’s why I did what I did,” she apologized, starting to cry now.
“What are you talking about? What do you mean you humiliated her? Did you meet Jackie?”
“She told you, didn’t she? And this is your way of punishing me for it; by leaving me and going back to her.”
“This has nothing to do with…”
“Oh please spare me the lies, Dante! We both know the only reason why you want to leave is because you believe you still have a chance with her. Did she tell you she was with another guy when I saw her? I’m sure he’s not happy with her either after hearing you two are still hanging out.”
“What did you do?” Dante asked in measured breaths.
“I splashed my bottled water on her. I know, it was silly and I’m sorry but can we talk about this, Dante? Whatever you want, I’ll do it. I’ll be on my best behavior…”
“You did that to her in public in front of her boyfriend…wow, Cece; that’s low even for you,” Dante said in a tone of unbelief and got up.
“I’m sorry…please don’t leave me.”
Dante walked away. Cece broke into tears. Oh gosh, did she just make it easier for Dante and Jackie to come back together?
Dante beamed when he picked up his phone.
“Hey…just the person I needed to talk to today!”
“Umm…hello to you, Mr. Mends.”
“Hello, AJ. And please don’t get all formal with me now. What’s up?”
“We need to talk.”
“Oh…oh…that doesn’t sound good. Am I in trouble?”
“You’re surely looking for one. When are you free, or do I have to book an appointment now, Mr. CEO?”
Dante burst into laughter.
“You’re very funny, AJ. I’m actually free today after work. Was thinking of where to hang out before heading home and you called so…”
“Wow, you think of someplace to hang out before going home? Is marriage that boring for you?”
“Well, when you marry for the wrong reasons, yeah.”
“Do I sense regret in your voice?”
“I guess. So when do you want to meet up? I’ve something I’d like to discuss as well.”
“Dude, get your friend.”
“You are my friend, aren’t you?”
“Okay, why not meet at a point and then decide where to sit and talk, yeah?”
“Alright. Will text you my location. Bye.”
This must surely be about Jackie. He wondered how she was feeling after her encounter with Cece. As much he wanted to, he wasn’t going to call her. She sure needed some space right now and he was going to respect that.
AJ was slurping to catch what was left in her glass when Dante walked in.
“Hey…aren’t you going to give me a hug?”
“AJ gave him a look and kept on slurping.
“Come on, I know you want to.”
“Abrantie (Gentleman), sit down and let’s talk.”
Dante sighed and sat down. He ordered for sparkling water.
“So how are you doing?”
“Not bad. Trying to stay afloat in this butt-kicking economy.”
“Tell me about it. Talking of which, you once mentioned you wanted to change jobs.”
“Per what Jackie’s going through with hers, I’d rather hold on with it for now. My boyfriend is not your biggest fan for obvious reasons and the last thing I want to do is fan the flame. Kwame found out about your role in getting Jackie her job and flipped. Speaking of, what the hell is wrong with your wife? Why does she have to act like a bush girl because she’s scared of losing her husband? I’m embarrassed to say we went to the same school.”
“I apologize. And that is why I’m here. I think I’ve found a way out but I want to hear you out first. You called first.”
His bottled sparkling water arrived. AJ asked for a glass. She poured some of the sparkling water into it and drank.
“I have a request.”
“I need you to let Naicy go.”
“You heard me. Jackie is trying to move on with Kwame but whenever you pop up, it’s like two steps forward, ten steps back. You look like you’re settling in whatever hell hole you’ve found yourself; she needs to accept that you’re gone and concentrate on what she has with Kwame.”
“Still having problems with that dude, huh?”
“Not really…they are fine until you show up somehow.”
“It’s not intentional. The whole conference thing…”
“Yeah I know but you still keep text chatting, don’t you? You may see it as nothing but you have no idea what that does to a girl. You keep rekindling what you had before and she loses focus. If you really love her, you have to really let her go so she finds happiness elsewhere.”
“And that’s why I’m here. I want to leave Cece.”
AJ sat back. “Why, is she beating you with pans at home?”
“No…she’s in remission now that means she’s out of danger. She doesn’t need me anymore.”
“Is that what she told you or is that what she’s implying with her actions lately?”
“Not really but I married her for a reason, AJ and if the circumstances have changed, why should I keep being with her?”
“Listen Dante, marriage isn’t a partnership you terminate just like that. Ideally, marriage is supposed to a one-door entry with no exit but things have changed now. That doesn’t mean you can choose to walk out without tangible reason.”
“This is a tangible reason, is it not?”
“Come on Dante, any levelheaded guy would be happy that his wife is out of the woods. So she did have cancer, huh? I always thought it was a story. You think Cece is going to grant you a divorce after everything she has done to get you?”
“I hope so.”
“And your job, car, house…do you realize how much you would be giving up?”
“Yeah and I don’t care. Jackie didn’t like me because of what I had.”
“Oh so you are leaving Cece with the hope that Jackie would take you back.”
“Why not? You just said it’s not quite working well with Kwame.”
“Yeah but what makes you think she will take you back?”
“What makes you think she won’t?” Dante asked back. They stared at each other.
“Have you told Jackie about this?”
“Not yet. That’s why I wanted to speak with you first. I want to make things right now that I may still have a chance to.”
“Well, until you clean house with Cece, please let Jackie be.”
“If I do that, she’d be gone by the time I’m through ending things with Cece.”
“You’re seriously not asking her to wait for you to go through a nasty divorce…and I know it will be nasty, are you Dante?”
“Isn’t she already quasi-waiting with Kwame as a front?”
AJ shook her head and got up.
“You’re unbelievable, Dante.”
“Wait, I’m sorry, sit down.”
“No, I’m not going to waste anymore of my time talking to you. Just be a decent guy for once and leave Jackie alone. And take care of my bill, will you? Thanks,” AJ said and walked away.
“Come on, AJ…” He sighed. It came out wrong, He didn’t mean it like that. He had to clear it with Jackie before AJ got to her.
© Josephine Amoako 2018
Read Chapter 25 here.