Read Chapter 24 here.
Jackie scrolled down her Instagram page, the only thing her bored self could do. And the countless wedding photos of her former school mates showing on her timeline made it even worse. Admiration turned into petty skepticism as she began to criticize each photo; whether the bride’s makeup was overdone or if the couple’s smiles didn’t look genuine enough or if the wedding colors weren’t cool enough. She logged off and put the phone away. She couldn’t afford to be depressed about people’s supposedly happy lives when no one knew the reality behind the façade.
A minute later, she picked up the phone again and this time, opened Twitter. A tweet that read, I smell like coffee and bad decisions brought a smile on her face. She quickly liked and retweeted it. Come to think of it, that was exactly how she felt…like bad decisions. Her love life was a mess right now and since there was little to nothing she could do to make things better, she might as well go out and be selfish – just because, why not?
She sighed as she stared at Dante’s old apartment door. She bent down and took the key from under the welcome mat. She opened the door and entered. When the scent of the room hit her, she suddenly felt like a former addict who had relapsed. She felt a pang of guilt for a second as she had promised herself not to step foot there again but here she was. She brushed it aside and closed the door.
Dante picked up his phone when it vibrated. He smiled. Jackie was back; not technically but visiting his old place was progress, right? He wondered what had happened between her and Cece for her to throw caution to the wind and go back there. Anyway, all things work for the good of those fated in love, right? He hoped so.
He called his secretary, canceled his last meeting and left the office.
When he entered the apartment, he was hit with an aroma. He chuckled knowingly. Jackie stuck her head out from the kitchen.
“Hey you,” she said, smiling.
“Hey you too. At least you didn’t meet me with a frying pan this time. That’s progress.”
“Well, I was expecting you.”
“You just can’t leave my food alone, can you?”
“Why can I? When I opened the fridge, I could hear it crying out, ‘Pick me, cook me, eat me!’ And as kindhearted as I am, decided to heed its request.”
“You’re such a dramatic foodie.”
He hugged her. They both sighed. They stood embraced for a minute. Dante broke out of the hug and held her face.
“Are you okay?” He asked, sounding concerned.
She nodded. He kissed her forehead. She wrapped her arms around his middle.
“I know you swore never to step foot here again and so something must have snapped for you to come back here. I’m sorry.”
“For everything,” he said, not wanting to bring up Cece.
“Today I told myself I would make a bad decision and damn the consequences and here I am.”
“Yeah, as much as it hurts that coming here is a bad decision for you, I understand. What else was involved in this intentional, bad decision apart from preparing you some food?”
“Do you want a plate? I can see you can’t stop eyeing mine.”
“Yes please,” he replied, chuckling.
“Great, I’ll get you one. Well, about my bad decision, I wanted to give us one more chance about the one thing we never got around to make happen.”
Dante raised a brow.
“Now that you’re married, what is the one thing you wished we had done together before Cece happened?”
“Before that…or no, it was supposed to be after for us…come on, shouldn’t be that hard.”
“A lot of things. I can’t pinpoint…”
Jackie whispered something into his ear. His eyes went wide for a moment as he glanced at her in shock.
“Okay…as much as I should be delighted about the proposal, I’m wondering what triggered this decision.”
“Well, you’re with Cece now and I have to move on but I can’t seem to picture myself with Kwame or anyone else for my first time. I know I’m asking for too much but at least we would have the closure we both need.”
“Wow…I guess AJ was right.”
“AJ? What was she right about?”
“About letting you go. She said you were having trouble moving on.”
Jackie sighed and went for her plate.
“I’m sorry. I’ll just finish my plate and leave.”
“Wait,” he stopped her. He took the plate from her and put it down. He held her waist, locked eyes with her and smiled.
“I think we have a chance, Naicy.”
“Cece is in remission.”
“Why am I not surprised? When the bitch said she was going to outlive me, she wasn’t kidding. Excuse my language,” Jackie said, irritated. “And how does that help us?”
“She’s better now. She doesn’t need me. I plan to leave her.”
“Now, after everything you’ve gained by being with her?”
“Money doesn’t fulfil me as much as love and happiness do. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way and I think now is the time to bow out.”
“And you think she’ll let you go just like that? What if it triggers another crisis? Trust me, Cece would rather live out her days sick with you by her side rather than be healthy and alone.”
“Don’t worry; I’ve a plan. So please, hold on to your ‘closure’ proposal and soon, we’ll be making the sweetest love in our own bed. How does that sound?” He said, brushing her cheek with the back of his hand.
“I like your plan,” she said with a smile. He kissed her forehead.
Dante called AJ and put it on speaker in his car.
“Hello, how may I help you?”
“Hi AJ. How are you doing?”
“I’m good. What’s up?”
“Calling to check in. Didn’t like the way we parted ways the last time so I wanted to apologize for what I said. I’m sorry, AJ.”
“It’s not me you should be apologizing to. It’s Jackie since you think she’s kind of stuck to you.”
“Well, if our meetup today was anything to go by, I believe so.”
“You two met up?”
“Yep, she came over to my old place. And guess what, she made me an offer.”
“She wanted us to have closure so she can finally move on.”
“What kind of closure?” AJ asked cautiously.
“The physical one. You don’t want me to spell it out, do you?”
“Nah, I think I got it. Like seriously?”
“And I hope you turned it down.”
“Of course; I’m a gentleman, remember? Besides, since I’m planning on leaving Cece, why rush the moment when we can have it perfect soon?”
“So you told her you were planning on leaving Cece for her?”
“Oh gosh! You’re going to let her ruin her relationship with Kwame! We both know your plan to leave Cece is a fantasy at best. Cece has come too far to let you leave without a fight. Believe it or not, but you’re trapped with her.”
“I refuse to believe that,” Dante said.
“Do you want to bet on it?”
“Sure. What do you propose?”
“If…no when, you realize there’s no coming out with Cece, you let Jackie know immediately and break things off for real this time. No funny comebacks,” AJ said.
“And if you’re wrong, you’re going to give me your blessings when Jackie and I get married,” Dante said.
“Great. So we’re cool, now?”
“No, we’re not. Until my friend is herself again, we’re not.”
“I hear you. Thank you for being a good friend, AJ.”
“Find yourself one. You need it.”
“Why find another when I’ve got you?”
“Sorry, no vacancy available.”
Dante laughed. “Love you too, AJ.”
“Uh huh, bye.” She hung up.
Dante arrived home to the sound of voices and laughter. Did Cece invite some friends over?
“Hey sweetheart, is that you?” Cece’s voice called out.
“Yeah it’s me. What’s going on?”
“Mum and dad are joining us for dinner today.”
“Okay, what’s the occasion?”
“Oh he doesn’t know?”
“Nah, my husband loves surprises. Don’t you, hubby?”
Dante only smiled as he bit down on his tongue to keep him from retorting.
“How are you, my son? You’re always looking handsome,” Mrs. Biney said and hugged Dante.
“I’m fine thank you, mum.”
“My dad is making a call so he’s at the study. Why don’t you change while we wait for our other guests?”
“Which other guests?”
“Just wait and see,” she said with a wink.
Dante felt uneasy about this but he decided not to care. What was the worst thing that could happen? He went to the bedroom to change. He sighed in relief when he took off his shoes. He stretched on the bed and closed his eyes.
“Honey,” Cece called, tapping him on the shoulder. He opened his eyes.
“Dinner is ready.”
He got up and removed his shirt. He wore a T-shirt.
“Please wash your face at least. You don’t want to go to the table looking like this.”
He turned towards the bathroom and washed his face. He wiped it dry with a towel and came out. He was still sleepy. He followed her out of the bedroom.
“Mum? Dad? What are you doing here?”
“Your wife invited us over. She said you both have good news to share with us.”
Dante turned to look at Cece. What was she up to this time? She smiled.
“Remember our conversation the last time? I figured it was best if you said it in front of the whole family.”
Both the Bineys and Mends were looking at Dante, waiting for the big reveal.
“Can we at least have dinner? Some of us are hungry,” Hon. Biney said. They all sat down and started eating.
Dante glared at Cece at every chance he got. Cece returned it with a cool glance and went about chatting with her in-laws as cheerfully as she could. Was she daring him? She thought he would back off his plan to leave? Perhaps she didn’t know him well enough…
He cleared his throat, ready to drop the bombshell.
“So the thing, after much consideration, my wife and I have decided…”
“To start a family!” Cece added excitedly. Everyone turned to look at her. Dante’s jaw dropped.
“I know the situation with my cancer got everyone on edge and but God has been more than gracious to me and my husband and now I’m in no danger. So we talked about it a little bit and decided to let fate take its course. Today, I’m excited to announce that we are pregnant.”
“Wow, that’s amazing!” Her mother exclaimed. She got up and hugged her daughter. Dante’s mum also hugged her.
“Congratulations, my dear.”
A heavy slap on his shoulder and a shake brought Dante back to reality.
“Well done, my son. You’ve made me proud.”
“You’ve proven to be a man!”
Man and wife locked eyes. Wife gave him a sly smile and mouthed, “I win.”
Dante took his glass, shook his head and gulped the water down.
After dinner, when the parents were preparing to leave, Dante’s dad called him aside.
“My son, I know it’s a great feeling to be a father especially for the first time but there’s something I want to ask you. Are you happy?”
He looked at his dad. “Why do you ask?”
“I know you very well, Ekow. I noticed how lighthearted you were when you were with the Nana Esi lady. I believed you two were meant to be together. Why you changed your mind, I still don’t understand but here we are. Looking at you today, I can tell you’re not happy. Is something wrong?”
“All I can say is that, I should have listened to you, father. I guess it’s too late now. I’m trapped,” he said with an air of despair. The two men watched the women gush over Cece’s flat tummy. He shook his head and swore under his breath.
His father tapped his back. “It shall be well. Things will get better.”
Dante waited patiently for their parents to leave. Cece closed the front door and sighed.
“That went well, didn’t it?”
“What the hell, Cece?”
“Excuse me? Don’t tell me you didn’t like my surprise.”
“Like seriously? You blindsided me!”
“Of course I did. I wasn’t going to let you tell our parents you were jumping ship!”
“So it’s just a story? You’re not really pregnant?” Dante asked hopefully.
“You think I’d lie about that?”
“Well, I’ll put nothing past you.”
“Sorry to disappoint you but I’m five weeks pregnant, dear husband.”
“How? You can’t be pregnant with cancer.”
“Again, I’m in remission! And God’s always in the miracle business.”
“And who’s the father?”
“Don’t insult me, Dante. Who else would it be for?”
“I don’t remember the last time…”
“Do you want me to grab the calendar cause I actually circle the dates just for argument’s sake.”
“I’m sorry but I don’t believe you.”
“Which part, that I’m pregnant or that you’re the father? I can show you the test results to prove the former.”
“And the latter? I’m more interested in that. Something tells me you got yourself pregnant just to trap me in this marriage.”
Cece laughed. “I love it when you give me so much dubious credit, husband but no, I won’t stoop that low…even for you.”
“Something doesn’t sound right. I would have noticed if you were pregnant.”
“You didn’t tell me you took a course in OB. Besides, the signs were as clear as day. You were just so self-indulged to notice.”
“Okay…come to think of it…I thought it was the cancer trying to pop back up.”
“How happy you must have been, thinking I was finally going to go! Again, sorry to disappoint you.”
“But seriously, Cece, why are you now telling me?”
“I’ve always wanted to but you go straight to bed whenever you come home. And since your encounter with Jackie, I had a feeling this thought of leaving me for her would pop up so I decided to hold on to the reveal till the right time. Something tells me it was a great decision.”
“You think I’m going to stay because you’re pregnant?”
“Are you saying you’re going to raise your first child in a broken home?”
“I wouldn’t if it is indeed my child.”
“Fine, if you won’t take my word for it, I’ll get you a DNA test at the right time, okay? For now, give me a break and don’t cause me to lose the baby.”
“Sooner or later, you must come to the realization that we are not meant for each other, Cece.”
“Sooner or later, you must come to the realization that we are stuck with each other, Dante so you better get on board. Talk about leaving again and you’ll see the scarecrow side of me. I’m trying hard to make this marriage enjoyable for both of us. Don’t make me change my mind,” Cece warned and walked out of the room.
Dante slumped onto the sofa and buried his face in his palms. What was he going to do? Gosh, he had promised Jackie he was coming for her. Jackie would never forgive him this time!
Edem was driving AJ home from a dinner when her phone rang. She glanced at the screen and pressed a button on the side. The screen went dark.
“Who is that?”
“No one important.”
A text message alert came off. This is an emergency. Please pick up.
AJ sighed. She quickly replied. Now is not a good time. Will call you when I get home.
- Will be waiting.
She smiled at Edem. “It’s just girl talk.”
They arrived at her place and he pulled over.
“Love you.” They kissed and she got out.
“Call me when you get in bed?”
“Um…not tonight. Girl talk might take a while,” AJ said, shaking the phone in her hand.
“I understand. Talk to you tomorrow then.”
“If God wills it. Goodnight, love.”
“Goodnight, sweet dreams.”
He drove away and she entered the house. She greeted her mum who was coming out from the kitchen with a cup of tea and entered her room. She called Dante.
“What is it?”
“I’m in trouble, AJ.”
“Go figure. What’s up?”
“Cece….Cece beat me to it.”
“What do you mean?”
“She just announced to both our parents that she’s expecting.”
“How sure are you this isn’t another trick? Not just some announcement in advance to keep you by her side?”
“I just saw the test results. It’s true.”
“Wow…I guess congratulations are in order.”
“What about Jackie?”
“What about Jackie?”
“I told her I was going to leave Cece.”
“And I remember making a deal with you, Dante.”
“She’s not going to forgive me.”
“She will…eventually if she finds out from you and not on social media like the first time. If I were you, I’d tell her as soon as possible.”
“She’s going to hate me.”
“Nope; she’s just going to accept reality and move on. I’m sorry, Dante; I know you really wanted another chance with Jackie. Maybe, life has other plans for you two.”
“That doesn’t make me feel better.”
“Sorry I can’t be of much help. I’m just tired of the drama of the love triangle. Get some sleep, yeah. I’m sure you’ll come up with a good way of breaking the news to Naicy.”
“Hope so. Thanks for hearing me out.”
“Like I have a choice. Goodnight, Ekow.” She hung up.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2018
Read Chapter 26 here.