Read Chapter 25 here.
“You look happy. What is it, a pay raise?” AJ asked Jackie as they worked out on their exercise bikes.
“I wish! Nah, I just woke up on the right side, I guess.”
“Nah, you look like you’re sitting on some good news. Come on, spill.”
“I know you’ll call me silly but I can’t help but be excited. Dante plans on leaving Cece.”
“Huh. You know divorces are not as simple as just signing the papers, right?”
“I know that.”
“And with Cece in particular, it will be no piece of cake.”
“I know, AJ. I choose to be positive.”
“Okay…but it doesn’t hurt to be realistic as well, honey.”
“Can we just work out?” Jackie snapped and wore her earphones.
“Hey, I’m sorry okay? Didn’t mean to come out at you so strong like that,” AJ apologized after their session.
“It’s okay. I know you mean well.”
“Can I make it up to you with a milkshake?”
“Hmm…you know me too well, AJ. You know I can never say no to milkshake.”
“Just what I thought,” AJ said smiling and began to type on her phone.
“Who are you texting? Edem? Hope you’re not canceling any plans with him.”
“Oh no, not at all. Shall we?”
The two friends were laughing over some funny video on Facebook when they heard ‘Hey.’
They both lifted their heads.
“Hey! What are you doing here?” Jackie asked as Dante sat down, opposite them.
A waiter approached their table.
“You’re welcome, sir. Would you like to order anything?”
“Um…not now. I’ll call you when I make up my mind.”
He nodded and left the table.
“You’re really looking good,” AJ said and sucked on her straw.
“I appreciate the compliment. You two look amazing as usual.”
“I still don’t get why you’re here. Did you call him to come here?” Jackie asked AJ.
“Naicy, there’s a little situation,” Dante started, holding her hand lying on the table. He gave it a squeeze.
“His plans of leaving Cece,” AJ replied. Jackie looked from AJ’s face to Dante’s. Her heart began beating faster.
“Cece is pregnant.”
“Apparently, for five weeks now.”
“And you didn’t know?”
“No; didn’t have a clue. She sprang it up on me yesterday…in front of both our parents.”
“Wow. How true is it?”
“Okay…in other words, you are not leaving her.”
“In other words, I cannot leave her…not now.”
“Not ever,” AJ added. Dante gave her a look.
“Wow…okay. Thanks for the heads up. Can’t believe I fell for the too-good-to-be-true news but at least, it’s over before it started. I appreciate your honesty, Dante.”
“I’m so sorry.”
Jackie withdrew her hand from his. She took her bag and got up.
“Where are you going?” AJ asked.
“Home. I need to think.”
“Wait, let’s go together…”
“No, finish up. We’ll talk later.”
“Jackie, wait, sit down…”
“Sorry, got to go.”
She walked out. Dante went after her.
He quickly grabbed her and pulled her back. The oncoming car sped past. They both gasped.
“Are you okay?”
It took a moment for Jackie to catch her breath. Dante held on to her till she calmed down and pulled out of his arms.
“Thank you. Gosh, I would have died right there.”
“But you didn’t. Thank God for that.”
She nodded. AJ came out.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Almost got hit right now.”
“Wow…glad you’re okay. Should I get us an Uber?”
“I’ll request for one myself. Just want to be alone.”
She took out her phone and opened the app. She lifted her head and met Dante’s eyes after she had made her request.
“I’m so sorry for letting you down, Naicy. I was looking forward to spending forever with you.”
“It’s fine. I guess fate is just not on our side, is it?”
“I guess so.” His phone rang. He took it out and sighed.
“Sorry, got to go.”
He hugged the ladies. “Will be in touch.”
He walked to his car and drove off. Jackie hugged AJ and began crying.
“I know you must be heartbroken right now but it shall be well. You’ll find love again.”
The Uber car arrived.
Jackie hugged her friend for the last time and got into the back seat.
“Will call you, okay?”
“Okay. Want to join me?”
“Nah, meeting up with Edem.”
“Okay. Say hi to him for me.”
“I will. Take care, alright?”
She nodded and the driver took off. AJ shuddered and rubbed her arms as she waited for her own Uber ride.
Thank God it’s my birthday! Jackie wrote in her diary. She woke up earlier than usual, prayed, thanking God for adding one year to her years and went to take a shower, humming her favorite Travis Green song.
She sat down to make up her face whiles singing along the worship songs being played on Praise TV. Today is a good day, she told herself. Since she had no boyfriend to shower her with love on this day, she had no choice but to make herself happy. She pouted her lips and laughed at herself. Her phone rang.
“Happy birthday, girlfriend!”
“Thanks, AJ. Hope you’re buying me a cake since I’ve no guy to buy me one.”
“But…oh, I’ve forgotten how single you are.”
“Ouch…today is my birthday. You don’t get to be mean.”
AJ laughed. “It’s all good. We’re meeting up tonight, right?”
“Definitely. Do I need to ask permission from Edem?”
“Don’t be silly. He knows today is your day.”
“I hear you. I hope I’ll get a gift from him as well. Oh gosh, am I that needy now?”
“Don’t stress yourself out. You’re going to have a blast today; boyfriend or not, okay?”
“How I wish I never had a boyfriend. I wouldn’t be feeling this way.”
“Stop it, Naicy. You don’t need a boyfriend to enjoy your birthday.”
“I know…okay, I’m snapping out of it.”
“Nana Esi, are you ready?” Naicy’s mother called out.
“Yes, mum. I’m coming out! Got to go. Talk to you soon.”
“Sure. Happy birthday.”
She ended the call and picked up her hand bag. She stepped out of the room to meet her mother’s smiling face. Jackie hugged her.
“Happy birthday, my sweet girl.”
“Thank you, mummy.”
She patted her back and kissed the top of her head. “I’m so proud of the beautiful, kindhearted young woman you’ve become. I pray that you grow to achieve all that you’ve been destined to achieve and you live a happy life, full of love and contentment. May your heart be strong and full of love and may people show you favor wherever you go.”
“Amen. Thank you, mum.”
Her phone beeped in the car. Happy birthday, sweetheart. Love you to the moon and back. 😍😚
Thank you,😊 she replied and sighed. The ever sweet Dante.
Jackie arrived at work to meet a box of cupcakes courtesy of Dante Mends. What’s life without cupcakes? Enjoy your birthday, love.
Jackie smiled and bit into a cupcake. Life’s good, she thought to herself. About an hour later, she was called to the reception. She stopped abruptly when her eyes fell on Kwame. He stood up.
“Hi…what are you doing here?”
“Happy birthday. Brought you cake.”
He picked up a cake box on the next seat and handed it to her.
“Thank you. You didn’t have to…”
“Of course, I did. I have been looking forward to this day to bake you the best cake you’ve ever tasted and I wasn’t going to the opportunity pass me by.”
“Thank you. It smells good. Can I take a sneak peek?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
Jackie opened it and couldn’t conceal the smile that came on her lips.
“You know what makes my heart melt.”
Kwame smiled. “I’m glad it hasn’t changed. I’ve to run now. Can we talk later?”
“Have a blissful day, dear,” he said as he leaned forward and gave her a quick kiss on her cheek.
“You too and thanks again.”
When Jackie got to her desk, she took her phone and took a photo of the cake and sent it to AJ.
Guess who baked a cake for me?
Well, baked and delivered the cake himself but who’s to say?
Awww….ain’t he sweet?
I know. TTYL
Julius came, walking past.
“Today is your birthday?”
“Happy birthday. See me before you leave, yeah.”
He entered his office.
Please don’t let him ruin my day for me before I leave here, she prayed silently.
When it clocked 5:30pm, Jackie began clearing her desk. She had shared some of the cupcakes with her colleagues but left two for AJ. She took her phone and requested for an Uber. She turned when she heard a door open.
“Are you leaving?”
“Yes please…I was just about to come in,” she quickly added. She had forgotten about him. Or perhaps she had subconsciously decided not to go. She entered his office.
“I see your hard work and I want to let you know that I appreciate it. I know I gave you tough time in the beginning and trust me, I had no malicious intentions. If you keep this up, you’ll definitely go places. Happy birthday, Miss Yankson,” he said and handed her an envelope.
“Thank you, sir. I really appreciate your kind words.”
Her phone rang.
“Must be my Uber driver. Have to leave. Thank you again, sir.”
“You’re welcome. See you tomorrow.”
She answered the phone and grabbed her things. She saw the car and got in.
“Birthday girl!” AJ called when she saw Jackie sitting by herself, sipping her drink. She turned and smiled. She stood and they hugged.
“How has your day been so far?”
“Not bad at all. It seems everyone is being nice to me today. Even my boss had some kind words for me today and gave me an envelope.”
“Yep. 500 cedis.”
“Wow! That was generous of him.”
“Uh huh…trying to compensate me for the time he was very mean to me.”
Jackie opened a bowl, revealing the cupcakes.
“Oh Dante…if only…”
“I know, right?”
AJ took one and bit into it. She moaned.
She nodded. “What does the birthday girl want to have?”
They looked at the menu.
“I’ll go with fried yam chips with chicken wings.”
“Don’t you eat fried yam like every day?” AJ asked.
“I do…but I haven’t since last week so I think it’s an appropriate choice.”
AJ shook her head and made the order. Jackie ordered for ginger ale for AJ.
“So where’s Kwame’s cake?”
“Wow…smells great. You haven’t cut it yet?”
“Waiting for you to do the honors with me.”
“Aww…hi, please, can we get a knife for a quick second? Thanks.”
A waiter brought one and they held it together.
They drove the knife from the top to bottom. AJ cut a slice and gave it to Jackie.
“Gosh, it’s carrot cake!”
“This is so good! He should make it a business.”
“I think so too.”
“So what was his demeanor like? Does he look like he’s moved on or wants you back?”
“I can’t tell. He looked okay…I don’t want to get my hopes up. I don’t think I’m fit to be in a relationship right now. A little time of singlehood would do me good, I think.”
After a pause, Jackie said, “You look really happy. What’s the good news?”
“It’s your birthday, Naicy. Isn’t that something to be happy about?”
“I know birthday happiness and this is beyond that. Spill.”
“Nah, not today. Today is your day so let’s leave it for now.”
“No, whatever makes you happy will make me happy as well. Come on, what is it?”
“Finally! I am so happy for you! When did he propose?”
“That’s great. Now I can breathe.”
“What do you mean?”
“Edem called me to help him choose a ring like five weeks ago.”
“Yeah…and I kept wondering when he was going to pop the question. For a moment, I thought he had changed his mind but when I called him, he said he was waiting for the right time.”
“So you had kept this to yourself for five weeks?”
“Yeah…trust me, it wasn’t fun. Keeping secrets is hard work.”
They both laughed.
“I’m so happy for you, AJ. You deserve this and more. So where’s the ring?”
AJ brought it out of her bag and wore it.
“Beautiful. Looks great on you.”
“I know, right? Thank you.”
Their order arrived and they dug into their food, chatting and laughing away. When they were done, AJ brought out a gift bag.
“Happy birthday, Naicy.”
“Aww…thanks, sweetheart. Oh, perfume! Thank you!”
“You’re welcome. May this new age bring you love, joy and everything your heart desires.”
“Amen to that.”
The two friends parted ways and Jackie got down from her Uber with the cake box in hand.
Someone stepped out of a car opposite her parents’ house.
“Kwame? How long have you been waiting here?”
“About an hour and half. How did your day go?”
“It went well. Had dinner with my best friend. And we cut your cake. It’s amazing, Kwame. I think you should bake and sell.”
“You’re not the first to tell me that but you’ll be the one I’ll take seriously. I’m glad you liked it.”
“So um…what brings you here?”
“I want to apologize for leaving you at the mall the last time. It was very unmanly for me to do at that point. I should have stood up to that lady and stayed with you. My bruised emotions got the better side of me and I bailed. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. It was too much to handle, I understand.”
“I’ve tried to move on…forget about you but I can’t. You may still have feelings for the Dante guy and I have to come to terms with that. But I would like you to give me another chance…”
“Kwame…I can’t. Not because of Dante but because I’m not fit to be anyone’s girl right now. You’re a sweet passionate guy and you don’t deserve to be drawn of this spin-the-wheel love game. I think you’re better off without me.”
“I understand you but I’m not better off without you, Jackie. I’ve loved you and will continue to love you even if you feel that way or not. So until you sort out your emotions, I’ll be here waiting.”
“Yeah. It’s late so I’ll let you go in now. Happy birthday, Naicy.”
“Thanks, Kwame. Goodnight.”
She turned and pushed the gate open. She entered and closed the gate.
Love is back knocking on her gate. Could he be the one?
(c) Josephine Amoako 2018
Read Chapter 27 here.