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 and Helen heard her tip-toeing footsteps and startled. They turned and saw her halt behind them with a smile they could not attribute anything to.
“How is he?” she asked.
“He is fine Mother,” James answered. “But you really should not have bothered coming. It would be better if you go back to Father.”
“James!” Helen nudged him. “Stop it. She is your mother,” she whispered.
“Don’t get yourself involved in this Helen, okay?” James cautioned. “Mother, you heard me…”
“Please James,” Catherine cut in. “Please forgive our ignorance. We had no idea this would happen. Your father and I only wanted your happiness. We never…”
“Happiness?” James interrupted. “What do you know about happiness? Nothing. All you and Father cared about was the business and how it could grow. You placed your business above my welfare, my happiness. I know exactly what happened, so don’t stand there and tell me how you both wanted my happiness, because you can barely spell that word,” he raged.
Catherine stood with tears flowing down her cheeks. She suddenly realized how selfish she and her husband were.
“Then forgive our selfishness, forgive any form of wrong decision we have forced on you. Please my son, I am your mother, if I knew Queen was not good for you, I wouldn’t have forced her on you. Please find it in your heart, with the love of God, to forgive me.”
“What don’t you understand, Mother?” James roared.
Junior wriggled on the bed. They all glanced at him, but he became calm again.
“Enough of this blame-game,” Helen intervened. “What has happened has happened. And if you both, in your maturity do not want to settle this amicably, please I beg of you, kindly go out. This nagging noise is disturbing Junior.”
James looked at his son who was sleeping peacefully, then at Catherine and left the room, silently. In a jiffy, he rushed back.
“My house keys,” he said to Catherine. “Give them to me.” His left hand stretched out.
Catherine nervously searched her hand bag and brought out the keys. James grabbed them and walked out.
“Can you beg him for me?” Catherine asked Helen who was obviously shocked at the angry side of James she never knew.
“I don’t think I can,” she said. “At least not now. He is really hurt. I suggest you let him calm down. He will definitely forgive you, you are his mother.” She dressed Junior’s blanket and left the ward.
Catherine nodded like a child whose parents dismissed with a promise she knew would not be fulfilled, glanced at Junior and walked out. Stepping into the reception area, she placed a call to her husband. The hospital’s reception hall was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop, making her tiny voice sound an unwanted noise.
“You need to call James,” she said, sitting down on the stainless steel chairs lined up on the two sides of the hall adjacent to each other, providing an angular view of the hospital compound through the transparent glass that served as the front walls. “He is really mad at us. His stand on not seeing us is getting worse. Call him, and please swallow your pride while at it, he is in deep pain now,” she paused. “Okay,” she said after some minutes and ended the call.
She looked around, and through the transparent glass saw James and Helen discussing happily outside the hospital. She watched as their happy discussion gradually turned into an argument, and she guessed Helen must be interceding on her behalf. Then they both let out a soft laughter, not minding the passing crowd and the staring eyes. She sighed. Her phone rang; she picked the call and got distracted from the view of her son.
“I know this is the wrong time for this but I am really serious,” James said to Helen, holding her hands in his. “You cannot imagine how happy I was when you told me that girl isn’t your daughter.”
“So you have a crush on me?” she asked, knowing fully well the feeling was mutual.
“No, I have always loved you. But I chose not to act on it. You are my son’s nanny, and I also thought you were married,” James replied.
His phone rang and Helen handed it over to him. He looked at it and put it back into his pocket.
“Isn’t that your father?” Helen asked.
“Yes it is. But I’m having an important discussion right now,”
“No, you are not. Answer him,” she insisted.
James looked at her for a while and pulled out the phone from his pocket, picked it, and in silence, placed it on his ear.
“Talk,” she nudged him.
He looked at her with a frown. She knew then that he has done her a great favour by concurring to answer the call, and would definitely not tolerate her pushing him around. She quickly threw her hands up in the air as a sign of surrender. He smiled at her humility and supposed understanding of a matter she did not know much about.
“Did you hear what I said?” Osakwe’s voice roared over the phone.
James jerked the phone off his ear to avoid the deafening echo of his father’s harsh voice. He did not understand how his father could still confidently shout at him after all that happened. However, he did not care much about his opinion on anything that has to do with him now, having developed tough skin for his harsh words and rejection, and was ready to maintain his stand no matter what he threatened him with.
“Father,” he called in a very confident and determined manner. “I picked this call because I felt you were ready to at least verbally undo what you have done, but I guess I was wrong.”
Helen became moody, wishing she could make things right. “But since you are not ready to do that…”
“Alright son,” Osakwe apologetically cut in. “I am sorry. How could I have known that she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing? I was only looking out for you. Alright?”
“It’s too late father, too late. And if you don’t mind, I need to check on my son,” James intoned harshly and made to end the call.
“Just tell me how he is. Please, how is my grandson?” Osakwe pleaded.
“Why don’t you call your wife and ask her, or better still call your daughter-in-law,” James hung up, slid the phone back into his pocket and turned at Helen who was staring at him, sad and disappointed.
“Common, don’t give me that look,” he said. “He is my father; I can take care of him.”
“I don’t think so,” she argued. “I know what happened was very bad of them, but they couldn’t have known who Queen really was, and now that they have realised and admitted their errors, it is only wise and mature that you repent of your rudeness. They are your family, no matter what,” Helen advised.
James was charmed by her determined intercession even when she knew less about the issue. “I appreciate your concern, but you do not know anything about this, so don’t bother yourself with my worries please,” he told her.
“What else do I not know?” Helen asked. “How you were forced to marry Queen as an appreciation to your father’s friend, who helped resuscitate his business, or how Queen left you with allegations you were cheating on her?” she paused and glared at him.
James was wowed. His relationship with her was that of a boss to an employee. He never told her anything about his personal life aside the fact that his wife left him, not even mentioning why. He wondered how she got to know so much, and the only answer his mind could point at was his mother. They were together when he left the house that morning. “I see you had a nice and long chat with my mother when I left,” he chuckled.
“Yes, and from that chat, I know how horrible she presently feels about the mess she has put you into,” she replied. “She is remorseful for her actions and I believe she never meant to hurt you. How could she even do that? She is your mother. No mother could be so heartless as to willingly hurt her own child,” she advised, raising her eye brows.
“I know one at least,” James countered with a grin. Helen’s eye brows rose again. She knew who he was referring to. And she hated the fact he was right about it. Queen was a disgrace and she would not even dare cover or advocate for her. But Catherine was a victim of circumstances and good enough, she was apologetic.
“You look so beautiful when you do that,” James teased with a smile, his full gaze on her.
She was taken aback. She just gave all her candid advice to him only to find out the naughty thoughts in his head.
“Do what?” she muttered. “I see you were not listening to what I was saying?” her eye brows rose again.
“You are doing it again,” James teased, pointing at her eyes, hoping she finds it funny, but she didn’t. Her face was very gloomy and she was not going to smile any time soon, neither was she ready to change the topic.
“Alright, I will talk to my father and settle the issue, okay?” he said. “Are you going to smile at me now?” he requested.
Helen forced her lips aside in what James recognised as the worst attempt to fake a smile. Then she burst out laughing.
“That’s more like it,” he said. “Go check on Junior, I want to rush to the bank and withdraw some money. I forgot my wallet and I had to give my car as collateral for them to treat Junior.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, very much serious. You stay with Junior till I come back, please.”
“With all pleasure,” Helen said as James gave her a warm hug and left.
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