Read Chapter 31 here.
Dante and Cece arrived at the Biney’s residence for Sunday lunch. How he wished he could be anywhere but there at that moment. If only he could conjure a meetup with an associate…but on a Sunday? It wouldn’t fly with Cece much less her parents.
He opened the door for Cece and helped her out. She was getting rounder by the day. Despite the illnesses that came and went, Cece was handling the pregnancy pretty gracefully. She was just about ending her second trimester where he called the ‘glowing stage’. She was bubbly and looked beautiful every day. Soon, that would be history and he would be thrown back into a nightmare; sleepless nights, false alarms and sullen moods.
They entered the house and were welcomed by Cece’s mum. They had arrived just in time for lunch.
“Dante, Honorable says meet him in his study for a short while before we have lunch.”
Cece groaned. “Should he have his briefing now? I’m starving! Why not after lunch?”
“Starving? You just had fries and a burger,” Dante said, surprised.
Cece gave him a ‘you-have-no-idea-what-I’m-going-through’ kind of look. Cece’s mum laughed.
“Cut him some slack, Eyram. This is his first time of being a dad.”
“And so am I.”
“Alright, I’ll go and see him now,” Dante quickly excused himself before Cece showered him with another round of rants. Her mum burst out laughing.
When he was out of earshot, she asked Cece, “So how’s it going? Is he treating you well?”
“Yes, he is, mum.”
“He’s not stealing away to see that Jackie lady?”
“Well, he went for a wedding sometime back and refused to let me go with him. I later found out Jackie was the maid of honor. Seeing her is like a dose of oxygen for him,” she said and shook her head.
“Should I pay her a visit just to keep her off?”
“The problem isn’t her, mum; he’s the one who goes looking for her. I wonder what’s about her he can’t get over with.”
“I’ve had her followed for a while…”
“What?” Cece whispered and looked around nervously. “Why did you do that?”
“You should be asking what I found out and not why.”
“I know for sure she’s not seeing my husband so I could care less,” Cece said with a shrug.
“Hmm…are you sure?” She said teasingly and entered the kitchen.
Cece took out a cookie from a jar on top of a cabinet and bit into it. She sat down, savoring the taste. A few minutes later, her father and husband entered.
Lunch was quickly served and they started eating.
“How are you and the baby doing, dear?” Hon. Biney asked.
“We are doing fine, thank you. How are you too?”
“Great. Trying my best to avoid all these radio presenters who like to call us into their shows and make us look incompetent.”
“Anyway, I think you should travel and get ready for the baby. You need the best medical care there is.”
Great. I can have some peace and breathing space, Dante thought in relief.
“And I think it would be best if you take your leave and join her, Dante.”
Dante’s head came up in shock.
“That would be great!” Cece beamed in delight.
“Um…I’ve work to do…”
“Well then you can delegate or work remotely.”
“I wish I could but there’s project of interest I’m overseeing.”
“You can still do that virtually. Don’t you want to be with your wife when she delivers?”
“I could join her later when she’s almost due…”
“Come on, please come with me. The change of environment will be good for us and we can get uninterrupted time to spend together,” Cece said, batting her eyelids pleadingly.
Dante’s face heated up with all the eyes on him. He cleared his throat.
“Listen babe, I really can’t go with you right now,” he said, placing his hand on top of hers on the table.
“I’m your boss. It’s an order.”
Dante dropped his fork.
“For goodness’ sake, can’t I be in charge of my own household for once?” he bellowed and quickly regretted it.
The table went quiet for a moment.
“You better watch your tone with me, boy,” Hon. Biney warned.
“I’m sorry but I’d rather discuss that with my wife at home.”
“But this is home…” Cece started and paused when Dante gave her a look.
“…by extension, I mean,” Cece quickly added. “But it would mean a lot to me if you could come with me.”
“You could go for three weeks and come down if you want. Shuttling between here and…where do you want to go, sweetie? The US or UK? You have aunties who would love to host you,” her mum said.
“I think I’ll take Theresa May over Trump any day, thank you. And besides, I’ll get guys with the sexy accent to chat me up. Pure bliss,” Cece said and slurped her drink.
“Eyram, you’re married,” her mother said.
“I know that, mum! But if my husband is reluctant to be with me, then I must find some other way to keep my life exciting, right hubby?”
“Enough. You’re going. That’s it,” Hon. Biney said in a tone of finality.
Oh Lord, why are you still punishing me for my mistakes? He asked in his head with despair.
Julius and Jackie were in his car, driving after a meeting. Julius said he was hungry and asked her if she would like something to eat.
“I actually crave for some junk food,” he said.
“Ugh…ugh, not me. I don’t want to give myself extra work to do at the gym,” she countered.
“Oh you work out? That’s great. I work out too. Well, I started not too long ago though.”
“Aha! I kind of noticed some…” She stopped when he looked at her.
“Nothing…never mind. But it is good that you are though. How does it make you feel?”
“Great, actually. I feel good about myself. But that’s not the only reason why.”
“Oh okay; what other reason is there?”
“It’s my attempt for someone to notice me,” he said and looked at her. Jackie nodded and looked away. Whether he was referring to her or not, she wasn’t going to let on any expression. She wasn’t going to live her love life in circles.
Kwame and his team were doing digital activation at Osu in front of the mall on Oxford Street. It was past 1pm and they were hungry. Kwame and another colleague volunteered to go to the KFC nearby and buy food for the team.
They were about to cross the street to get to KFC on the other side when he caught sight of Jackie and a man stepping out of there, each holding a takeout bag and laughing. They got into a car and drove off.
“Kwame, what are you thinking about? Let’s cross the road.”
He looked left and right and they crossed.
Kwame couldn’t stop thinking about Jackie and the scene he witnessed the rest of the day. Who could that dude be? Was he her boss? The thought made his heart leap. Oh no, had she found the new him and had he become the new Dante in her life? He did enjoy spending moments like this with her when they worked together at Airtel and now, here is, brooding over who she might be with. Gosh, karma indeed sucks.
He sent her a text.
Hey. Hope you’re good. Was hoping we could talk. Will you be available for a meetup after work today?
Jackie craned her neck to see what message had come through when her phone screen lit up.
“Oh no, what now?” She muttered when she read the sender’s name. She picked the phone and chewed on her lower lip. The earlier they trashed it out, the better for both of them to move on.
Maybe. Will let you know in a couple of hours.
She put the phone down. Of course she knew she was available to talk today. She just found the idea of him stewing about when she would get back in touch amusing. Oh guys, she thought and shook her head.
Hours later, Jackie and Kwame sat face-to-face, each clutching their tall glass of iced tea.
“Jackie, first of all, I want to say sorry…”
“No Kwame; there’s nothing to be sorry about. You’re an amazing guy, Kwame yet the only time you lose your cuteness is when you set eyes on Dante…which is understandable. I’ve told you more than once that Dante is a good friend and I’m not going to act like a bitch when we cross paths. It’s either you accept that or you don’t.”
“I know…it’s just that when I saw you both at the wedding, I was thinking you guys had…you know…”
“No, I don’t know so why not spell it out? There’s no way I’m going to misbehave with Dante…”
“Because he’s a married man for crying out loud!”
“Oh so the only thing standing in your way was the ring on his finger and not because you love me.”
“You see…this is one thing I find very unattractive about you, Kwame. You’re making me out to be the kind of girl who is inconsiderate of others’ feelings but that’s not me. The people I care about are always a priority to me. You might think that I don’t care about you, but this is just about you being insecure. I’m not going to walk on eggshells around you to protect your fragile ego. If you can’t handle me acting friendly around Dante when we bump into each other, then all I am is toxic to you, Kwame and you don’t deserve that.”
“Wait, wait, wait, are you breaking up with me, Jackie?”
“Break up? We are not even exclusive, Kwame.”
“Come on, we had an unspoken understanding.”
“Is that right? Then I guess we weren’t on the same page.”
“Is it because of your boss?”
“I saw you today…coming out of KFC with a guy? Is he your boss?”
“Yes he is…why didn’t you come and say hi?”
“There wasn’t much time for it. Before I could blink, you two had sat in the car and driven off. You know, it reminds me of us…when you were at Airtel.”
“Is that who he is to you now? The new me?”
“You’re doing it again. Gosh, I don’t like you trying to guilt trip me like this! So you feel insecure about him too?”
“Of course not, I’m sorry. Wanted to make a joke but it didn’t come out well.”
“Pathetic. I’m out of here,” she said and got up. Kwame held her hand.
“I’m sorry, please don’t leave.”
“You want to know something? Dante used to stress me out with you being my friend and I thought that was unbearable but in your case, it’s just ridiculous. Get a grip on yourself. You’re better than this.”
“At least sit down and finish your iced tea.”
“I’ve lost appetite.”
“Well, I don’t pay for wasted food.”
“Hey, I’m joking!”
Jackie took out her purse, asked the waiter what the cost was and paid him.
“Come on, Jackie, it was a joke. Why are you so pissed?”
“Showing your true self has been a very disappointing and pathetic experience for me. I wonder what I thought I saw in you. Leave me alone and go live your life. I have a feeling you will happier without me in it.”
She turned to go.
“I see it now. You’re going to date your boss.” When she turned back to face him, she was visibly angry.
“And this time, it’s not a joke. I think you enjoy making your main guy jealous by entertaining another one. Is that your way of keeping him on his toes?”
“Says the other guy who got an upgrade. We’re done, Kwame.”
She turned and quickly left before he said anything else.
When she sat at the back of a taxi and it began to move, she started to cry. This was all too much for her. Back to square one. She felt raw and wounded. How could she be this unlucky?
Jackie arrived home downhearted and in need of someone to talk to. Her first thought was to call AJ but it was late; not that it was a problem – she was married now and didn’t want to pry her away from her husband. She opened WhatsApp to see if she was online. Thankfully, she was. Just when she was about to type, she went offline.
Without thinking, she called Dante. He picked up on the third ring.
“Not really. Is it a good time to talk?” She sniffed.
“Um…for the next two minutes, I think. What’s up?”
“Kwame and I…we broke up.”
“You appearing at AJ’s wedding is what happened. Am I…am I an inconsiderate person? Did I always disregard your feelings in regard to Kwame?”
“I wouldn’t say so. I was plain jealous and a bit insecure. It had nothing to do with you. It was my problem to deal with. If that’s what he told you or made you feel, don’t let him get inside your head. It’s obvious he’s messed up emotionally. Maybe you two weren’t meant to be together, Naicy. Better to be free of him than to be stuck with him. Trust me, I know.”
Jackie could hear Cece call him on the other side of the line.
“Um…is everything okay?”
“Yeah…we are about to check in…we are leaving the country, Naicy.”
“Oh just for Cece’s delivery. You know she’ll be due soon so her dad insisted she travels so she can access the best healthcare service there is.”
“Uh huh, while the rest of us have to endure bed-less hospitals and rude and negligent medical staff, now, that’s fair,” Jackie replied sarcastically.
“Hmm…I know, right?”
“You know you’re enjoying the privileges of power now, right?”
“Well I try not to let it get into my head. I plan to return in a couple of weeks though.”
“I see. Anyway, have a safe flight and take care.”
“You too, sweet.”
The line went dead.
Even Dante who said he wasn’t in love with Cece seemed to making do with his marriage. And Kwame who loved her a bit too much, overwhelmed her. AJ was one of the lucky ones – getting to marry the one she loved. But for her, it looked like those who loved her couldn’t stay. Perhaps she should just give up on love and go along for the ride…with anyone who offers it.
© Josephine Amoako 2018
Read Chapter 33 here.