Kaine felt a gratification she had not expected to feel.
She had just given herself to the man she loved. She had confessed her love to him. The love that still and would always beat in her heart for him. She had experienced passion that she’d never experienced before in her life. She had felt the tender touch of a man like she would never again want to feel from another man. She had revelled in the joining of his body with hers; had cried out with that pleasure as their bodies became one with the spiralling throes of passion that had washed over them.
She had loved and had been loved in return—even without the words of love. Yet despite all of that love and amazing experience, the man her heart beat for stood at the end of the bed staring at her with eyes blaring with dismay and distrust.
He had quickly disengaged his body from her own once their flight into realm of pleasure had ended. He had gotten off the bed and pulled on his clothes with defined hastiness. And now he stood away from her, watching her like he did not quite know who she was.
The combination of his quick abandonment and distrustful stare was burning holes into her heart. But Kaine knew she couldn’t quite blame him.
“You are… were a virgin?” He finally voiced out.
The tone carried a mixed inflection of amazement and anger. Kaine felt the burn of another piercing hole. “Nick—” Tears welled up in her eyes.
But he cut her off with cruel coldness. “You want to tell me how you could have an affair with my brother and have his baby but still remained a virgin?”
Finally, the moment of truth and no hiding from it anymore. Kaine swallowed and met his hard gaze. “I never knew Tobi and I’m obviously not Baby Tobi’s mother.”
The scathing glare and word wounded her. “Anwuli—my sister—she was Tobi’s… she was the one in love with Tobi. The one who knew him. The one who had his baby.”
“Anwuli? The name from the mail mama and I read. Your supposed other name?” His tone dripped with derision. “It isn’t your name after all. That was why you first referred to yourself—to her—in the third person. She was never you and you were never her. You lied to me… even then.”
The last bit was an accusation.
But he interrupted her. “So, what was this? A sick game between sisters? One gets pregnant for one brother and the other tries to ensnare the other into marriage?”
“It wasn’t a game.” Tears she couldn’t help flowed down her cheeks. “Anwuli didn’t purposely get pregnant for Tobi and I wasn’t trying to ensnare you.”
“What were you trying to do then—make a fool of me?”
“No! You had come with threats and—”
“So this is my fault? I’m responsible for your lies?”
“That is not what I’m saying, Nick!” God, he was looking at her with such hate in his eyes! She could never bear it if he hated her.
“And where was your sister—this Anwuli—where was she when I came to the house?”
“She had left.” Kaine dragged up the tip of the covers to wipe her streaming nose. “She couldn’t get over Tobi and so she went in search of him.”
“What? She abandoned her baby and left?”
“She was in love and heartbroken by Tobi’s rejection. She had sent him several messages but he never replied any of them. He abandoned her and the baby they made together.”
“Tobi would never turn his back on his own flesh and blood. He was a Kojo-Edwards and we never abandon our own!”
Kaine could not dispute his quick defence of his brother since the proof of his claim was obvious in his own coming to get his nephew. “Maybe. I didn’t know Tobi and can’t say what he was capable of. But Anwuli sent him messages… emails…”
“And in one of those mails she demanded he recompense her for having his baby. That certainly tells us the tone of the other mails—if there were any such mails.”
The heavy sneer in his voice broke her heart. “No, she didn’t do that! She never demanded any payment for having Tobi.”
“How would you know? Did you two compose the mails?”
How could he suddenly be so cold and derisive? How could his expression go from affectionate and passionate to this cold mask of disregard so soon?
“I don’t know exactly what she said in those mails and messages but she couldn’t have been asking for monetary compensation. She wasn’t…isn’t like that. She was in love with Tobi. She loved him with all of her heart.” Like I love you now and yet, you too don’t seem to care.
“Yet she abandoned the baby they had—the only thing left of him—to go on a wild goose chase. What kind of a woman does that? What kind of a mother leaves her baby?”
“She didn’t abandon Tobi. She left him with me because she knew I’d care for him and keep him safe. She only wanted to find Tobi. To see him again. To understand why he abandoned… seemingly abandoned them. So when she got a part in another movie to be shot at Johannesburg, she took it hoping to find him there.”
“Ah, so your sister is a professional actress. I see that’s a talent that runs in the family.”
Kaine winced at the insulting jeering tone. “I didn’t mean to deceive you, Nick. I was only thinking of protecting my son… my nephew.”
“You could have tried doing so through the truth.”
“I was scared. You threatened to take him away. You offered me money in exchange for my supposed son.” She couldn’t help the mild accusation that laced her tone.
“Your sister demanded that money and I thought you were her. But instead of owning that you were not, you took advantage of my ignorance.”
“I wasn’t taking advantage!” Even now, he still did not know her? “I wasn’t taking advantage of you. I was just so scared of losing the only member of my family I had with me.”
He averted his eyes as if he could not bear to see her tears. “You could have called your sister and told her I was there to take Tobi. Have me deal with her instead of you. You could have done that instead of lying to me.”
“I could have done so if I knew how to get in touch with her.” Kaine wished she could get out of the bed and face him squarely but now he was looking at her with so much contempt, she couldn’t bear for him to see her naked form again. “But she left without taking her phone and didn’t leave any address. Your appearance was a shock for me. It was unexpected and so was your demand.”
“So you decided to get something good for yourself out of her disappearance and my ignorance, huh?”
“I never wanted anything from you. I rejected your offer for compensation, remember?”
“I remember. But I also remember you didn’t reject the offer of marriage.”
“I had to marry you! You said it was either that or I lose Tobi. I didn’t have a choice.”
“You had a choice not to lie to me and force me into marrying you when I didn’t have to.” He flung at her.
His words slammed against her and squashed her heart like merciless feet. Kaine felt her hands go limp around the woollen covers.
“Force you into marrying me? So you regret our marriage? You regret that we got married? You regret it even now?”
“I hate lies and I hate deception.” He ground out. “I was completely honest with you, you should been the same to me. You had no right to lie to me!”
He hated lies… so he must hate her. Kaine pressed her hand against her palpitating heartbeat. She loved him but now he hated her. Oh God!
She wasn’t sure what she wanted to say to him but it was cut off by the piercing ringtone of his phone. He let out a cuss and slipped his hand into the pocket of his trousers.
“Yes?” He said brusquely into the phone.
Kaine wasn’t really paying attention but she saw his expression change to shock and utter bewilderment and then to instantaneous joy as he spluttered out a laugh.
“Yes, yes, Carl, I’ll call you back now. I can’t believe this. I’ve got to call Mama. Wait for my call. Take care of him. And err… thank you, Carl.”
He ended the call and stood staring into space, the awed expression of joy spreading.
“Who was that? Did something happen?”
He jolted around like he’d forgotten she was there. The joyful expression dimmed… considerably. “That was our friend, Carlson in Johannesburg. My brother has been found. He wasn’t dead after all. He’s alive. He’s been alive all this while.”
“Tobi is alive? Oh my God, but that is great news! He’s alive… what a miracle!” Kaine momentarily forgot her sorrow as the joy of that astonishing news seeped through. “I’m so happy for you, Nick. Mama will be so overjoyed.”
For a moment he just stared at her, his expression unreadable. Then he nodded. “Yes, she will be. She definitely will be.”
“Did your friend say… was there a woman with him?”
“Your sister you mean?” The coldness seemed to swiftly return. “I wasn’t told. I’ve got calls to make. Arrangements and all of that. I need to call mama too, to tell her… to…” he shook his head. “I have to go. Excuse me.”
He didn’t look at her again before he stalked out of the room.
Kaine felt her eyes start welling up again. He would never forgive her… especially now his brother has turned up alive and it had become clear that there was no need for them to have gotten married. He already regretted their marriage… even though he was her first and she’d come to him pure and untouched, he regretted marrying her.
Because she lied to him. And he hated lies.
Kaine swiped off her tears, pushed back the covers and got down from the bed. She hurried into the bathroom to clean herself up and then returned to put on her clothes. Then she reached for her phone. She dialled Juliet’s number. It was switched off and so was Uncle Udo’s own.
Tears started down her face as confusion set in. Who will she call her now? Who would help her? Who would come to her aid without judging and hating her?
Then she remembered Kanayo and quickly dialled his number. He picked at first ring.
“Hey Kaine, this is a surprise. A good one though.” He added with a chuckle.
Kaine did not waste time with pointless greetings. “I need your help, Kanayo. Nick has found out the truth and he…” She forced back the sob. “He hates me and he regrets our marriage. I can’t bear it. I need to leave… to get away. I’m in Sal. He had to go out now because his…” she inhaled and stopped herself. “I don’t want to face him again. I can’t face the hate in his eyes. Please help me get away. Help me please, Kanayo.”
“Ah…” There was a brief hesitation before Kanayo spoke again. “But of course, Kaine, I’ll help you. But I think the first thing will be to get you back here to Praia. It is late but there’s usually a late flight back from Sal. If it’s available I’ll book the next flight from Sal back here and forward the details to you. Is that all right?”
“That is fine. Thank you, Kanayo. And will you please meet me at the airport?” When he confirmed he will, she added. “Please tell no one. Please, not anyone.”
She ended the call, got up, slipped on her shoes and made for the door. She turned and looked over the room where she had given herself—body, mind and heart—to the man she loved. Biting back a sob, she turned again and swept through the door.
Kanayo was already at the airport waiting for her by the time her flight arrived. He led her to his car. They got in and he drove off.
“Should I take you to the house? At least his mother will be there. She can help you work things out with the boss.” Kanayo said as they made their way towards the Island.
“No, Kanayo, not to the house!” Kaine frantically rejected. “I lied to her too, remember? I can’t bear it if she too looked at me with hate and mistrust in her eyes. I can’t face her too. I can’t bear to return there.”
“Okay, okay, stop crying. Stop crying, Kaine. We won’t go to your house. I’ll take you to my house and you can stay there until we figure out our next step, okay? Ebe zi na.” He added soothingly in Igbo.
Kaine bobbed her head but she couldn’t stop her tears or the continuous breaking of her heart. Why didn’t humans have the power to see the final end of a journey, so they can decide which route is more prudent to take? she wailed silently.
At his home, after her narration, Kanayo tried again to convince her to go back to the house.
“I’m sure Dominic is only momentarily angry. He is shocked. It has to be a shock for anyone to find out they are married to someone different from who they thought they were.”
“I know he’s shocked but he also hates me. And now with—” She broke off. She hadn’t told him about Tobi’s reappearance. She couldn’t, not when it wasn’t her news to share and publicize. “Now that he realises he didn’t have to marry me at all to get Baby Tobi, he hates me and thinks I deceived into marriage. Which I suppose I did.”
“Still, I say it’s all part of the initial shock. You need to give him time. At least, talk to his mother if you can’t talk to him.”
“I can’t face them now, Kanayo.” Kaine huddled more into the couch. “I am too broken. I can’t do it… not today and I don’t even know if I ever will be able to face their recriminations.”
“And what about your nephew? If you are not going back, how will you get him?”
Fresh tears surged from Kaine’s eyes at the thought of the baby she’d started seeing as her son. All of this started because she’d wanted to keep him with her and now, it was like she had lost him.
“He is home. He is in his father’s home.” And knowing that that father was set to return, Kaine felt even less guilt and pain. “I have seen how much they all love him and care for him. Even Dominic loves and treats him like his own son. He’ll be fine with them. Maybe he’s even better off with them.”
There was a moment’s silence before Kanayo said. “You fought to keep a child that was not your own, can you not fight for the man you love, Kaine?”
Kaine raised sorrow-laden eyes to meet his. “I would fight if I believed I had reason to fight, but I have no reason. No hope. He doesn’t love me… Dominic doesn’t love me, Kanayo.” Her heart broke all over again at the realisation that he would never learn to love her as she had hoped. “There wasn’t just anger and pain in his eyes when he found out the truth. There was also hate. Hate that was dipped in coldness. Hate and un-forgiveness.”
“Time, Kaine. He needs time to process all of this. You can’t just runaway at the first sign of trouble in your marriage.”
“He regrets our marriage, so there’s nothing to stay and fight for.” Kaine inhaled and mopped up her tears with the handkerchief in her hand. “I want to go back home. I want to go back to Nigeria. Please help me, Kanayo. Please help me go back home. Biko.”
She needed a place where she could hide and heal from the gnawing pain in her heart.
But would she ever heal?
Kanayo stared at her for a long moment, then sighed and nodded. “Okay. I’ll help you.”
*** ~~~ ***
Ebe zi na: Cry no more.