Read Chapter 29 here.
“Am I not talking to you, Dante? What have I done to deserve this silent treatment from you?” Cece asked. Dante flipped the channel he was watching on TV.
“Seriously, I don’t feel too good. I need you to take me to the hospital.”
“I can call the driver to come take you. Come to think of it, I wonder what his use is in the house since I’m the one who is with you on all your rounds.”
“That’s not true but I’d love to have my husband to be with me.”
Dante popped a peanut into his mouth.
“What is this attitude all about?”
“Do you want to save yourself or not?” He asked.
“If you’re asking if I’m reconsidering terminating the pregnancy, then I’m sorry to disappoint you. But I’m surprised about your sudden interest in keeping me alive.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’ve always wished me dead so that you could be free and now you want me alive because Jackie’s life is on the line.”
Dante got up and faced her.
“Now that we’re on the same page, I want your word that no harm will come to Jackie.”
“Goodness…fine. I promise that Jackie won’t come to any harm by my hand.”
“Not just by your hand…by any member of your family. I want you to swear it…by the baby.”
“You heard me. Swear it by the baby.”
“Because that’s the most important thing to you so if it is at risk, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep it safe.”
Cece placed her hand on her tummy and swore that Jackie would not be touched.
“So what, the success of this marriage depends on everything Jackie?”
“You know, you are so self-centered and disillusioned that you can’t even see that there is no Jackie factor in this relationship anymore. She has moved on but you feel so insecure that whenever you see me smile, you sense her hovering around me. Believe it or not, I’m stuck with you and all I want is for you to stay alive as much as it depends on you. And if the doctor’s report threatens that…”
“I have faced death before, honey,” Cece said, reaching for his hands, “and together we can beat it. I know we can have this baby. I strongly believe so. I just need you to believe with me.”
They stared at each other. Cece’s face was pleading with tears. He sighed and hugged her. Gosh, she was so stubborn.
“Please don’t leave me to fight alone.”
He hated himself for making her cry. He rubbed her back in an attempt to console her.
“I’m sorry; I won’t leave you alone. We’re in this together.”
Jackie went with her bestie on her rounds leading up to her big day. They decided on souvenirs for guests at her traditional marriage ceremony and bargained for discount as they were buying in bulk. Jackie put the items in the boot of the car as AJ made payment. They sat in AJ’s mum’s car and sighed.
“Who pissed off the sun today?”
“I know, right? The sun is showing no mercy today.”
Jackie opened her bottle and drank some coconut water. She closed it.
“What else is on the to-do list?”
Jackie took her phone and checked her notes.
“Accessories, shoes, hair…have you decided who’s doing your makeup and fixing your hair yet?”
“Oh yeah. For both of us actually.”
“Great. Let’s get the accessories and shoes then.”
AJ started the car and began driving.
“So how’s it going with Kwame?”
“Great. I really enjoy his company.”
“Good to hear.”
There was a pause with AJ’s fingers drumming on the wheel.
“So…will you two get exclusive anytime soon?”
“We kind of are…we’re just not admitting it to each other, I guess.”
“And how do you feel about that?”
“Okay…he loves me; that much I can tell. He’s too good for me and that scares me sometimes. I have this feeling that I’d mess it up and when that happens, there would be no second chance for me.”
“Love can be scary sometimes, Naicy. Don’t overthink it.”
“I don’t. I just want to be in the moment. And as much as I don’t want to think too far, I can’t wonder about what my answer would be if he got around to popping the question.”
“You’re still unsettled about him?”
“I’m not. I know what my answer should be. Something just feels off.”
“Stop beating yourself up. When the time comes, you’ll be ready. Believe that,” AJ said, holding her hand and giving it a firm squeeze. Jackie nodded.
“You remember our plans to have a double couple getaway one day? I think we should take it. Edem is down with it. Do you think Kwame will be interested?”
“I appreciate the thought but I think you and Edem should go. I know the planning has been stressful for you both and you need time and space to rewind.”
“And so do you, Naicy. I think you and Kwame need more than one uninterrupted day to spend with each other. Could you please, ask him if he would be available? We’re looking at this weekend.”
“Asking him is not a problem, AJ. His answer will definitely be yes. You know I’ve been looking forward to this for more than a year but our schedules just couldn’t agree with us. Whenever I thought about this, Kwame wasn’t my intended partner.”
“I know but God knows best. Perhaps Dante was never supposed to be the one for you. I’m not disputing the love you shared but maybe, he was supposed to show you love to a certain point but not be with you all the way.”
“Uh huh…God does work in mysterious ways, right?”
“You won’t understand now but it would all make sense soon, honey. Sometimes, I get the shivers too. Whether I’m signing off my singlehood for the right person.”
“Yeah? And how do you find peace in those moments?”
“I pray and reflect. I realize it’s nothing serious; just jitters in anticipation of a life-altering experience ahead of me. All is well.”
“All is well.”
“So, it’s a yes, right? I need someone to enforce my ‘no sex before wedding night’ agenda.”
Jackie gave her a look.
“I know…I’ve held him off since he proposed and it’s getting harder to hold my ground. So I was thinking…”
“That you’d use me as your shield against the temptation?”
“And what about Kwame?”
“What about Kwame? You said there’s no disincentive or has that mindset changed?”
“It hasn’t but since it looks like it might be him anyway, I don’t know if I have the will to withstand the temptation if the moment comes up, you know?”
“What happened to what mama said?”
“I’m still heeding to that. Ok fine, then we’ll be each other’s shield, right?”
“Exactly. We could share one room and they could be in separate rooms.”
“They will so not be amused about that.”
“They will deal with it.”
“Please eat something. Starving yourself is the worst way to manage a pregnancy, honey,” Mrs. Biney urged her daughter.
“I’m not starving myself, mum. I just don’t feel like eating anything.”
“Which is not normal. What exactly did the doctor say?”
“He said I need bedrest.”
“And healthy eating,” Dante said, entering with a tray. He set it on the bed in front of Mother-in-law. It carried a plate of salad and three slices of French toast.
“Please help her eat something.”
She nodded. He nodded back and left the room.
“How are things? Is he treating you well?” Cece’s mother asked, whispering.
“Yes mum; there’s nothing to worry about.”
“What about that Jackie woman? I was thinking of someone to follow her around for a while and see if she’s been meeting up with your husband.”
“There’s no need for that, mum. Jackie’s history now. She is dating someone.”
“Oh and who said because she’s seeing someone, she can’t be messing with your husband too? Don’t you know married men are hot cakes right now?”
Cece chuckled despite her discomfort.
“Trust me, mum. Jackie is no threat at all so don’t bother yourself with her. We’re all trying to live our lives now.”
“Is that what you really think or is that what your husband has told you to tell me?”
Cece couldn’t answer.
“Listen, your father and I didn’t spend so much on your education to have you grovel at the feet of any man; much less an unfaithful one.”
“Mum, he’s not un…”
“Will you shut up and listen to me? I can see your affection for him has blinded you. You need to be firm and protect your territory.”
“I am…and I’ve realized the more I bring up Jackie, the farther away I push him from me and I don’t want that. He cares for me and does his best to keep me happy. What else could I ask for?”
“If you say so.”
“Promise me you won’t try to find Jackie…for the sake of your grandchild.”
She gave her a sharp look.
“Is the baby in danger because of…”
“No, mum. I know how much you love kids and that you can’t wait to carry your grandchild in your arms. I’m just saying that for the sake of the baby, let everything go.”
“Okay, I hear you. Now, eat something.”
AJ, Edem, Jackie and Kwame made it to Bojo Beach Resort for the weekend. They had a hearty meal amidst casual conversations and laughter. Kwame felt at home with AJ and Edem and he was glad to have been invited to this intimate getaway. He noticed Jackie and Edem were pretty close as they narrated the experience of getting AJ’s ring and even had some inside jokes. After lunch, the ladies excused themselves for a minute.
“How’s it going with Naicy?” Edem asked and drank some shandy from the bottle in his hand.
“Great. We’re going steady now. It was a bit rocky in the beginning but things are getting better.”
“That’s good to know. She’s a really cool person. I’ve known her since I met AJ and I can say for sure, she’s a great friend. Her fallout with her ex was heartbreaking but I’m glad to see her smiling and being herself again. I believe I have you to thank for that…”
“I did my best but she did most of the work herself. I just hope that she fully lets go of the past so she can embrace what we have in the present.”
“She will. She has. And from one man to the other, I’d ask that you take good care of her. She’s like a sister to AJ so whatever happens to Jackie affects AJ and gets to me as well so please don’t hurt her.”
“I won’t. I’ll try my best not to.”
AJ returned alone.
“She’s taking a stroll along the beach. She’ll join us soon.”
“Is everything alright?”
“Oh yeah, Jackie loves to be alone at beaches. She likes to scream, cry and talk to the waves to release her stress. Then she returns lighthearted and ready to roll!”
The sea breeze kept Jackie’s hair weave flying behind her neck. She was facing the sea, her feet buried in the sand with hands in her pocket. Her phone vibrated. She took it out and swiped the screen.
I feel lonely.
I miss you.
Always and forever.
Jackie smiled and deleted the chat. This never happened.
She turned and started her way back to where the others were seated. She noticed someone coming towards her from a distance. She shielded her eyes to better see who it was. It was Kwame.
“Hey you. Was missing you back there so I decided to come and find you. Enjoying the sound of the waves?” Kwame asked.
“Yep; the feeling never gets old. It’s so peaceful. I hope you’re having fun by the way. I’m really grateful you could make it.”
“Thanks for having me.”
He pushed some of the hair behind her ear. He held her when the waves rushed to where they were standing and brushed hard against their legs.
“All I dream of is to spend forever with you, Jackie; going through life and growing old together, teasing ourselves in our rock chairs about our frail bodies. Life is too short to sit on the sidelines especially when you know what you need and I need you, Jackie. My heart is full of love to give and I want to ask you if you will be generous enough to receive it.”
“I’m a sucker for love, Kwame. As long as you keep giving, I’ll keep receiving and reciprocating if you’ll have me.”
They kissed. Jackie broke the kiss when she felt the current of the waves drawing near to them. She gave a shriek when Kwame suddenly carried her in his arms.
“Don’t worry, love. My arms are always here to carry you and my shoulder for you to lean on.”
“Awww…a man after my own heart.”
He started walking away from the waves with Jackie safely in his arms.
© Josephine Amoako 2018
Read Chapter 31 here.