When his arranged marriage went haywire, James has to juggle from being a father to his eleven months old son, keeping his job, finding love in the strangest place, maintaining a balance and peace between his family and that of his in-laws, who are lost in the battle of power and authority.
James quickly returned to Junior’s ward very tensed. He was beginning to believe Queen’s rant about his son being in danger when Helen did not pick his calls. He became even more worried as he returned to meet the door still locked. But he did not allow his fear a chance for full germination; Helen has been the one taking care of his son for six months now, and if she wanted to harm him, she would have done it when alone in the house and not in the hospital; in the public or even when the boy was almost dying.
“Alright Helen open the door,” he said. “Queen is gone.”
Helen was shocked. She did not know James was also at the door. She quickly opened the door. James hurried past her to the bed and felt Junior’s pulse; it was normal, then he turned to Helen.
“I am sorry,” Helen cut in, shoving his intended words down his throat. “I had no idea you were at the door too.”
“Where is your phone?” he asked.
“In my bag over there,” she replied pointing at the bag lying on a chair at the right end of the ward. “Believe me; if I knew you were out there, I would have opened the door. She was just making trouble with me so I pushed her out and locked the door. I swear I had no…”
James shut her up with a kiss which emanated from real love, not lust. He told her before leaving to look after his son and that was exactly what she did; in a way he never imagined. Her approach to issues was the charm she has over him. Her ready-to-apologize attitude meant more than anything to him. He found in her an abundance of all the qualities and virtues that Queen lacked, which made him love her even more.
Helen undoubtedly responded to the kiss with mystified passion. She apologized for her wrong doing, and was very official about it. Where the romance brewed from, she did not know. But her wonderment anyway did not freeze her response to the kiss. Kissing to her was an act of love, and if James kissed her again, then he truly was in love with her. And how she wished Queen could be audience to such a passionate smooching.
“Thank you,” James broke the kiss. “Thank you for protecting my son from her.”
She was astonished, James has become a mystery she would live to solve. And the more she tried to understand him, the more complicated he got. But she was excited about everything, as every second with him brought along its own mysterious adventure. She smiled, having realised the root of the kiss.
“I had no choice,” she blushed, taking the glory.
The nurses examining Junior walked up to them. “He is perfectly fine, but needs absolute silence so his brain could rest well. More noise could lead to shock,” the one who knew James and Queen as a couple said.
“Thank you,” James replied in appreciation, while caressing Helen’s hand. “But please, do not give anybody access to this ward except the two of us. No matter whom the person claims to be. Okay?”
The nurse twitched her face, shocked and confused. She did not understand the drama, but since it was not any of her concern, she nodded and made for the door, then abruptly averted. “Mr. James,” she called.
James looked at her.
“You still have some unsettled bills in our records,” she said smiling, wanting to sound as diplomatic as possible.
“And your records didn’t state that my car is still in your custody as collateral?” James asked gazing at her teasingly.
“It actually did but…” the nurse stuttered.
“Don’t worry; I had just returned from the bank, I will see the accountant shortly,” James replied.
The nurse nodded and left.
“I will be right back. Let me settle these bills and retrieve my car lest anyone takes me up on unpaid bills again,” he told Helen. “And if anyone shows up again, gladly take Junior hostage as before,” he smiled.
“Alright,” she grinned as he left the ward. “I will do just that, my love,” she muttered behind James, smiling to herself.
Queen left the hospital and headed straight to her father’s house. She was the eldest child of Nnadi, with two younger siblings: a sister, Ugonne; who was happily married long before she was matched with James, and a brother, Smith; the youngest and only boy in the family.
Queen rushed into the compound so devastated that she did not hear the security man’s inquiry concerning her sweaty body while opening the gate to let her in. She hurried inside the living room, which was graced with a colourful settee, a ceramic centre table, and side stools to match. The living room was spacious enough to accommodate all of Nnadi’s business partners at once. Beside the dining room adorned with a six-sitter tempered dining table, the raisers which lead upstairs were carefully curved in the most appealing architectural manner. The raisers created a fanciful gallery before harnessing the rooms.
The weather was hot due to the scourging sun. Queen sighed heavily as cool air from the living room air conditioner hit her, gradually drying up the sweat on her body. Then she silently slouched on the single couch, beside the one Smith lied on watching a movie on the 55-inch television which hung on the wall. He squinted at her with indifference and continued with the movie.
“At least say welcome. It could save a soul right now,” she intoned after some seconds of silence from Smith.
Smith stopped talking to Queen since her escape from her husband’s house, but that was after calmly advising her to go make peace with her husband; an advice she rejected on the ground that he was in no position to advise her. Smith resorted to insults, which yielded no result either. He then decided to let her be; a decision which got them living like cat and dog, with Smith constantly reminding her that she no more has a place in that house.
“Anyway, is daddy back?” Queen asked after Smith refused to respond.
Smith dropped his legs from the couch, wore his slippers and stood up. “Rather worry about your husband and son. You have passed the age of having you father top your worry list. Leave that to me.” Having said that, he turned up the volume of the television and evacuated the living room.
Queen stared at the television screen, and instead of the movie, her life played back before her. She saw her life just before she got married to James: how excited she was when her father told her about the marriage, her joy that finally she would become a wife and hopefully, a mother. She then started paying James unwarranted and consistent visits, voluntarily insisting on washing his clothes and cooking for him, even when she knew the last meal she cooked spoilt untouched. The visit continued and one day, she succeeded in luring James to bed, which led to Junior’s pregnancy and also got James succumbing to the whole marriage idea.
She was overcome with fury and regret when her life camera roll stopped. She tried to understand how and why her one time love was now a demon to her. She sighed deeply; unable to arrive at a conclusion. She searched for her phone in her tight jeans, and then recollected it fell off her hand when she slumped at James’ house. She needed to speak with her father: the only person who understood her plight. She strolled to the stairs sluggishly, brooding on how to recover her phone; she couldn’t go back to James’ house, neither could she call him nor her mother-in-law. She got more confused and devastated with every step she took up the stairs.
E.C Michael, a graduate of Theater Arts, is a passionate writer who believes that stories should blend with education so as to help correct social vices in the world. His watchword is edutainment.
He writes screenplays, novels, short stories and essays. When not writing, he is blogging or watching Game of Thrones and Designated Survivor.