Read Chapter 40 here.
The doorbell woke Jackie from her nap. She looked around her and rubbed her tummy. The doorbell rang again. She got up and walked to the door. She opened it.
“Hi Naicy. Sorry to drop in unannounced but I’ve been trying to reach you for days now.”
“Dante, I’m not in the mood to talk to you. Please leave,” Jackie said and tried closing the door but Dante stopped her by placing his hand on it.
“Please let’s talk. I can’t stand the thought of you being mad at me.”
Jackie ignored him and turned away, walking back to the sofa. Dante entered and closed the door. Jackie plopped herself on the sofa and leaned back on it.
“How are you holding up?”
“Funny you should ask. How do you think I’m doing? How did you even get this address?”
“I begged AJ for it and that was a task on its own. How is Julius, is he getting any better?”
“Stop pretending like you care, Dante. You willfully looked the other way whiles your in-law hurt the one I love.”
Dante was about to rebut but her last words caught him off guard that he became dumbfounded.
“I do care, Naicy. You know very well that I do. I swear on my daughter’s life that I didn’t know about this.”
Jackie looked at him. Momentarily, she felt bad that she had compelled him to swear by his little daughter. But it was her husband balancing between life and death!
“I confronted Hon. Biney about this even before I asked you to arrange a meetup between your husband and myself. He knew I wasn’t going to allow it especially because you’re involved. So he shut me out. For a moment, I thought he had moved on from his idea but I was wrong. You have to believe me, Naicy.”
“Well, it has already happened. I have to find a way to live with it. It’s just a terrible time. I’m not saying there’s ever a good day to have this happen but the doctors are not sure when he’s going to wake up. I couldn’t even get the chance to tell him he’s going to be a father.”
“What? You’re pregnant?” Dante asked, almost choking on the words.
“Yeah, seven weeks,” Jackie said, rubbing her tummy.
“Wow…congratulations. I’m so sorry about Julius.”
“He used to tell me how he’s going to dote on me when I conceived; that he was going to make sure the period will be a memorable journey for both of us. But fate being so wicked, has taken him away and I have to deal with this on my own. I fear that I’d have to give birth without him and God forbid, he will never get to meet his father,” Jackie aid, tearing flowing on her cheeks.
“That won’t happen; he’ll come back,” Dante said and rushed to her side. He pulled her into his chest and rubbed her back.
“There was trauma to his head, Dante; head injuries are always bad news. What if he wakes up and he’s a totally different person? What do I do?”
“Don’t think like that. He’ll come back as the Julius you know and love,” he said.
“I hope so too.”
He kissed the top of her head. Hon. Biney had to be stopped. By all means necessary, he thought.
Manasseh was working on a report when his phone beeped. He picked it up.
Hi, this is Dante Mends. I’d like us to meet. I’ve some information that might be of help to your investigation but I’d prefer you’d refer to me as an anonymous source. Kindly confirm and I’ll get back to you with a location.
Manasseh quickly replied: Deal.
He smiled. He had a good feeling about this.
Two weeks later, there had been no change in Julius’ condition. She always cried when she got home after seeing him. Her mother advised her to move back home until he got better but Jackie refused. She slept over at her parents’ house from time to time but she didn’t want to move.
She was helping herself to a sandwich when the doorbell rang. She opened the door to find Dante and his little baby.
“Oh Kara! You’re looking so big!”
“Hi to you too,” Dante said, feeling ignored.
“Come to auntie,” Jackie said, like she didn’t hear Dante. He handed her over and Jackie planted a kiss on her cheek. She moved away from the door so Dante could enter. He closed the door.
“How are you doing?”
“I’m okay, considering.”
“Same. The doctor says it’s not bad news but it’s not good news either. Still hopeful though.”
“That’s great. Wanted to check in and also ask you for a favor.”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“I need you to watch over Kara for me…just for a few hours.”
“Ok, I don’t mind. I think I need some orientation about how my life is going to be in a few months and you’re going to help me, aren’t you, cutie?” she said and kissed the baby’s cheek. She giggled.
“I think that’s a yes.”
“I’d have taken her to her grandma but I can’t or should I say I don’t want to considering what I’m going to do.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m going to pick up where Julius left off.”
“I’m going to help expose Hon. Biney.”
“Um…isn’t that dangerous? You have a baby to look after. Look at Julius now. He thought he had it all handled but Hon. Biney had the final laugh. I don’t want to lose you too, Dante or else I’ll really lose it this time. Karma will deal with him. Just live your life.”
“I wish I could. But after seeing how much he has messed up your life and pretty much mine, I can’t sit back and do nothing. And don’t worry, I’m not doing anything active. Just feeding information to a credible journalist to discover the truth himself. I’m going to meet him for a couple of hours.”
“Okay, please be careful. No need to be a hero.”
“I will,” he said and kissed Jackie’s cheek.
“I have her food in this bag. If it gets overwhelming, just give me a buzz and I’ll head right back, okay?”
“Okay, don’t worry. We’ll be fine.”
Dante kissed his daughter and left.
Hours later, when Jackie opened the door for him, she gestured for him to be quiet. Kara was asleep in her arms.
“I was just about to put her on my bed. Let me put her down. I’ll be right back.”
“How did it go?” She asked when she returned.
“Going well. He’s making some progress for sure but there’s the need for due diligence. One wrong step and we’d have shot ourselves in the foot. We can’t afford to let him off due to an avoidable error.”
“Good to hear. Want some dinner? Cooked rice.”
“Yeah, that would be great.”
Jackie entered the kitchen and served two plates and slid one into the microwave. When it was done, she put it on a tray with a glass of water and took it to him. She warmed hers and brought hers to the living room.
“Sauce is really delicious.”
“Thank you. Picked up the recipe on Instagram.”
“I see. Going digital, huh?”
She chuckled. She logged on her Netflix account and they watched a movie together. Dante took her tray when she was done and washed the plates. Jackie got up when she heard the baby make some noises. She went to her bedroom and found her awake. She carried her to the kitchen.
“See who’s awake?”
Dante was rinsing the glasses.
Jackie brought her close and he kissed the baby’s cheeks.
“Enjoyed the bed?”
“Yes, she did. She looks like she did,” Jackie said and kissed the other cheek.
“She has Cece’s eyes,” Jackie said. Dante nodded.
“Do you think of her?”
“From time to time…I think of what I could have done differently during my time with her…knowing what I know now…with you marrying Julius and all…but too late for regrets now, right?”
“I thank God for everything.”
“I think it’s time for us to leave now. I’m sure Kara occupied your whole day and you couldn’t get anything done.”
“Oh it was no bother at all. On the contrary, Kara and I had a blast. We listened to music, fell asleep at a point, we got some porridge in, today was good.”
Dante took her from Jackie’s arms. “What do you have to say to Auntie Jackie?”
Jackie touched the baby’s cheek.
She walked father and daughter to the door.
“Thank you for today, Naicy.”
“Thank you for dropping by. Really enjoyed the company. Can’t wait to see you again, Kara.”
Dante kissed her cheek.
A week later, series of revealing stories were reported about Hon. Biney. He went into a panic mode as he didn’t see it coming. He called all the people he could think of to help put a stop to it but there was little anyone can do. The worst part was he had no idea who was feeding the media such sensitive information about him. He called Dante and asked him if he knew what was going on. He feigned ignorance but refused to offer any help. He actually asked that he be distanced from the whole brouhaha to protect the company as well as his family. If Hon. Biney was going down, he was in no way going with him.
Months passed. Julius stayed in coma with no hope of ever waking up. Jackie went to see him less and less as the days went by. Dante dropped by her place almost every weekend with Kara. It gradually became something they both looked forward to.
Dante was changing the diapers of a fussy Kara when Jackie came in, stirring a small bowl of baby food.
“Is her food ready?”
“Good; she’s about to bite my head off.”
Dante put her on his laps and Jackie sat down beside him. She began feeding Kara who eagerly ate what was given her. She began to cry when Jackie delayed with her next spoonful of food.
“I’m sorry…here. This girl has quite the appetite. I wonder where she got that from.”
“I’ll take the credit here. There’s nothing wrong with having a healthy appetite, right?” Dante asked.
“I didn’t say there is. It’s just interesting seeing a mini you.”
Soon after, Kara refused to take in any more food.
“I guess it’s a wrap,” Dante said. He gave her some water to drink from her bottle and then put her on his shoulder to burp her.
“Hopefully she will sleep soon.”
“Yeah…we could all do with some timeout, right?”
“Right. Will get started on dinner.”
Dante followed her to the kitchen.
“How’s your in-law holding up? It seems he’s the subject of most morning radio shows. The pressure seems to be getting higher each day,” Jackie said.
“He is trying to compose himself and not overreact but it’s not going so well. All his colleagues and associates whom he thought would stand by him to fight this have all turned a blind eye. He has been summoned by the disciplinary committee of the House and he has no ally on the panel. He’s all alone in this.”
“Must be sad. I don’t owe him any sympathy but for a man his age and status, the last thing we all expected was he being at the mercy of others.”
“It serves him right.”
After dinner, they both leaned back on the sofa and watched TV lazily. All of a sudden, Jackie gasped and sat up.
“What is it? Do you feel okay?”
“The baby kicked.”
“Yeah. Come and feel it.”
Dante moved forward. She took his hand and placed it on her tummy.
“Wait…” She moved his hand to another part. Some seconds later, they both felt it. They looked at each other and chuckled.
“Boy or girl?”
“Don’t know yet. I think I want to be surprised.”
“This is amazing.”
“Ever had that with Cece?”
“A couple of times. It’s humbling knowing there’s a beating heart within a tummy. It’s heartwarming.”
He kissed her forehead and said, “I think my time’s up.”
“But you don’t have to go. It’s late and we have a guest room to spare if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t think I want to impose…”
“Oh nah, you’re not. Kara is sleeping, you’re tired. You wouldn’t be doing yourself any favors by driving home tired.”
“I hear you. Just say it, Naicy.”
“Say you love having me around.”
“Like you don’t enjoy being around me. You’re the one who drove all the way here to spend time with me.”
“And you are asking me to stay.”
“Okay so it’s a draw. Would you like to sleep over or not?”
“Would you like me to?”
“I asked, didn’t I? Oh gosh, I’ve forgotten how much you love this back and forth talk.”
“Isn’t that what you love about me? Or maybe I should say used to love about me.”
“I guess tenses don’t matter. I’m tired. I’m going to lie down. Goodnight, Ekow,” she said and kissed his cheek. She got up and went to the bedroom.
Early the next morning, when Kara woke up crying, Jackie took her to her father and went back to bed.
It wasn’t until after nine o’clock that she came out of her room.
“Good morning, preggie. How was your night?”
“Not bad. Yours?”
“Not bad. Breakfast?”
“Since we’re both not going to church, maybe listening to a sermon on TV wouldn’t be bad,” Jackie suggested, switching on the TV.
“Would you be kind enough to rub my back for me? I’d be so grateful.”
The doorbell rang. Jackie groaned.
“It must be my mum asking me to come home again,” she said, getting up.
“Um…do you think it’s a good idea for her to see me here? You know, after everything?”
“It’s not like we’re doing anything wrong,” she said, walking to the door.
She opened it.
“Hi girl! How are you doing? I miss you!” AJ said, hugging her.
“I’m great. Hi Edem,” Jackie said and hugged him too. They both entered.
‘Got you some Aprapransa since you were craving for it the other time. How are you holding up?” AJ froze when her eyes fell on Dante who gave her a weak smile and a wave. She turned to face her friend.
“What is going on here?”
“Why is your ex here?”
“Keeping me company. Why else would he be here?”
“When your husband is hanging on by a thread, you decided to play house with your high school sweetheart?”
“My husband has been in coma for almost six months now. I’m trying to occupy my thoughts with happy things so I can deliver a healthy baby. Dante is a single dad. We are just hanging out. Nothing to be panicked about.”
“I see. I thought you were mad at him for not giving you a heads up about Julius’s attack? Or did he come with his puppy eyes swearing he knew nothing about it?”
“That’s in the past now, AJ and I don’t live there anymore. Can’t we all just sit down and have lighthearted conversations?”
Dante got up. “Kara is awake.”
Edem took Kara from her father and began playing with her.
“Every tough guy is humbled by the sounds of a little baby girl.”
“That’s true. Could we sit and talk?”
AJ sighed and nodded.
The four people ate the aprapransa together from the bowl, chatting and laughing. It was the reunion Jackie had always dreamed of.
A month to her due date, Jackie moved to her parents’ house. Two weeks later, Jackie was alone at home when she suddenly felt pain in her abdomen. She requested for an Uber and called Dante.
“Hey, are you okay?”
“Nope. Having contractions, I think. Heading to the hospital.”
“Alright. I’ll meet you there. Who’s taking you?”
“Okay. See you soon.”
Dante arrived at the hospital and soon after, her mother arrived. The doctor said it would be better to deliver the baby now than wait. As they prepared her for delivery, Jackie asked if Dante could be with her during the labor. He readily accepted.
Hours later, Jackie gave birth to a bouncy baby boy.
“What name have you decided to give your son?” the midwife asked Dante as she handed him the baby.
“Well, I’m…I’m not…” He stammered and looked at Jackie for a bailout.
Jackie had not really settled on a name. She was hoping Julius would be awake by now so he could come up with a name.
“What name would you give him?” Jackie asked Dante. He stared at the newborn in his arms.
“Jesse…I think I’d have named him Jesse.”
“Then his name is Jesse,” Jackie said and swallowed. She requested for some water.
Julius’ parents and most relatives lived abroad so a small christening ceremony was held at the Yankson’s residence. Four months later, Jackie moved back to her matrimonial home.
One day, Jackie wanted out of the house for change in scenery so she planned to go see Dante with her baby.
“Kara is excited about seeing you,” Dante said over the phone.
“Aww…so am I. Tell her I miss her and can’t wait to see her too.”
“Sure. See you soon, love.”
“Bye.” She put the phone down. She got up to go pick up her bag and her phone rang. Thought it was Dante but it was an unknown number. She answered it.
“Good day, madam. Am I speaking with Mrs. Ampah?”
“Madam, your husband is awake.”
For a moment, those words made no sense to Jackie. It’s been more than a year and she was finally coming to terms with the fact that she was a single mother.
“Hello, ma’am…are you there?”
“Hi…yeah, yeah, I’m here.”
“Did you hear what I said? Your husband is out of coma.”
“Yeah, I heard you. Sorry, was still processing that. Is he alright?”
“Yes, the first person he asked of was you.”
“Alright. I’ll be there soon. Thanks for calling,” Jackie said and hung up.
She plopped herself on the sofa and sighed. Just when she was….just when she was what? She was still a married woman. As long as he was not pronounced dead, she was still bound to him. Fate must really have a kick out of messing with her like this. She called Dante.
“Hey…are you on your way?”
“Why, is something wrong? Is Jesse okay?”
“He’s fine. Julius is awake.”
“Julius is out of coma, Dante.”
“Oh.” There was silence for quite a while.
“He asked of me. I have to go and see him at the hospital.”
“Sure of course.”
“I’m sorry…we’ve never been lucky with timing, have we?”
“Not so much. Go and see him. We can talk later.”
“Thanks, Dante,” she said and hung up.
Tears ran down her face. Were they tears of joy or sadness? A little bit of both. She picked up baby Jesse who was making happy noises.
“Daddy is awake. He wants to meet you. Let’s go, okay?”
Julius couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Jackie walk in with a baby in his arms. He was sad that he had missed out on everything. Jackie assured him there would be another time to make up for it. Three days later, he was discharged from the hospital.
A week later, Julius called Dante.
“I’ve been told you were there for my wife when I couldn’t be. I want you to know I’m really grateful. She also told me what you did to help expose Hon. Biney. Can’t thank you enough.”
“Don’t mention it, Julius. I’m glad you’re back. And congratulations on being a father.”
“Thank you, Dante.”
Hon. Biney had been dragged to court on so many charges: attempted murder, money laundering, obstruction of justice etc. Most people were asking for him to be relieved of his position as a Member of Parliament as he was not befitting to wear the Honorable title as he was anything but. Fortunately, Dante and Noble Realty ltd were out of danger. But for Hon. Biney, his troubles were far from over. Julius was overjoyed that justice was finally being served.
Jackie walked into a restaurant. She found Dante’s table and walked towards him. She sat down and greeted. He responded and they held hands for a short while.
“How are you holding up?” She asked him.
“Not bad. Focusing my energy on being a good CEO and a father.”
“That’s good to hear. Not an easy combination though.”
He chuckled and nodded in agreement.
“I miss us. Not just the younger us back in Motown…but the ‘us’ playing family a few months ago.”
“I know. I’m glad fate gave us that opportunity…to have a glimpse of what we could have been like.”
“We would have been a very happy family, you and I.”
“I know. But life sometimes has a different script for us. I’d like you to find someone else to love…Kara deserves to have a mother who would love her.”
“She had you…she misses you.”
“I miss her too but I’m sure there’s someone out there…waiting to shower you both with love,” Jackie said, holding his hand.
“I believe our story is not over. Who knows, life could favor us and we could have outlive our spouses and we could spend our old age together…drinking tea and reminiscing as we stare at the golden sunset…”
They both chuckled.
“You think so?”
“Yeah, I do. But until then, we have people to care for.”
He nodded. “Always and forever?”
“Always and forever.”
He kissed the back of her hand.
The end. Thanks for reading!
© Josephine Amoako 2018