“When did you prepare your parting surprise?”

“Surprise?” A smile formed on her lips as crossed her legs under her. “What

“Stop playing around.” He chided softly.

“It was by four a.m.”

“You shouldn’t have lost sleep for that.”

“Yes indeed, I shouldn’t have. See you, Kel, I’m already heading to my car for your house and my pot of yam porridge will be going home with me.”

“Slow down, darling, your food have undergone the first stage of digestion.”

“Oh…really?”

“Yes, Kathy.” He laughed.

“So?”

“I enjoyed myself. Thank you, dear.”

“You’re welcome. How about Camilla, did she like it?”

There was a pause at the backgr2>There was a pause at the background afterwards, Camilla screamed. “I love it!”

Katherine laughed.

“Hope you got the message.

“Loud and clear.” She beamed. “Extend my love to Camilla and Mum B, I’m missing you all already.”

The day before, she and Bridget had gone to the market and she had aroused early to make breakfast and told Mum B to present it to them when they came back from taking her home.

Katherine glanced at the framed photograph of the four of them and that of She, Kenneth and Kelvin beside it on her bedside table and felt warm

*-*

Olaide, Katherine and Kelvin were in the sitting wing of the Director General’s office. Kelvin and Olaide were discussing while she was scrutinizing some reports.

“Come in.” Kelvin said in response to the rap on the door.

Femi and Anita came in.

“Sit.” Kelvin gestured.

“Thank you, sir.”

“The board had been having various meeting with a motive of giving SIC AFRICA a new edge. Decisions have been finalized and one of such include both of you and another guy from the control room. You’re going to be spending this weekend in Ghana for a business empowerment programme. Your counterparts in South Africa will be joining you.”

Katherine looked up from the reports.

Olaide continued. “You two were chosen for a purpose and will be teaching us what you’ve learnt when you’re back.”

“You’re leaving this office for the Production Company and Femi, give this letter to Mr Kings.”

Femi stood to receive it from Kelvin.

“He will be addressing three of you and giving you more details. Hope you understand.”

“Yes, sir.” They chorused.

“The driver is waiting, you can take your leave.” Kelvin dismissed.

They stood and head out.

Katherine excused herself.

Kelvin nodded and she followed them out.

She faced them when they got to the car. “Annie and Femi, we’ve come to be good friends over the months and I count it important to address you because I might be around enough to do this before you travel. SIC is taking a rapid turn and we intend to carry everyone along. This will be a remarkable weekend for you all, remember also that amongst many, you were chosen. Remember what stood you out from the beginning.” She beamed at them.

They smiled back at her nodding.

“I’ve faith in you two.”

“Thank you, ma.” They chorused and she head back to the building while they entered one of SIC official cars.

*-*

Kelvin glanced around.

She did same also and noticed the house has been renovated and looked grander. She head for the head with Kelvin behind and pressed the doorbell twice before a young girl came to open the door.

“Good afternoon, ma.” She looked behind her. “Good afternoon, sir.”

“Good afternoon.” They returned.

Katherine grinned when she saw the girl had not recognised her. “I don’t want to believe my own baby can’t recognise me.”

That did the magic because she blinked severally, gasped and shrieked. “Aunty K! Oh my…” She shrieked before swirling and dashing for the stairs.

“Easy.” Kelvin called after her.

“She would be fine as far as I can remember, she had never be one to mount stairs gently.” She glanced at the stairs and then at him. “Do sit.” She told him and closed the door.

In a matter of seconds, feet descended the stairs in haste.

Katherine stood with legs apart and arms opened wide. They rushed into her arms and she almost lost balance.

“We’ve missed you so much.” They told her.

“I’ve missed you all very much.” She returned.

“I don’t need to ask how you’ve all been because you look very beautiful that you can pass on as a beauty queen.” The eldest told her.

“Oh thank you, darling!  You, look at you, Obika all grown up, you are almost my height.” She smiled at him.

“Aunty K, I can’t believe I believe I’m seeing you, we’ve been expecting your visit like forever.” The second child looked up at her. “I’m hyper excited to see you.”

“I don’t know how to place my feelings into words, I just know what I am feeling is super and hyper. I try not to break my promise darling.” She told him.

“Aunty K, your presence today is my Christmas present two months before Christmas.” She said.

“Oh dearie, I’m happy to see you all hale and hearty today, it just makes me.” She smiled at her. “First, where is dad and mum?”

“They went to a friend’s celebration, you missed them by a few minutes.” The second replied.

She shrugged. “Come around, guys, so I can introduce you to my friend.’

They took noticed of him for the first time as they came to face him.

Kelvin who had watched stood.

“This is my oldest baby, Obika Nnadozie, the second, Chidozie and my baby who opened the door, Oluchukwu. I want you all to meet my friend Kelvin Sigismund.”

Kelvin shook their hands and they exchanged pleasantries.

“Mr Sigismund, you are the director general of Sigismund International Company?” Chidozie asked brain stormed.

“Yes.”

The three shared glances.

Obika’s eyes widened.

Chidozie gasped.

Olu shrieked. “Aunty K is the assistant director general, she is also the business personality… Oh my! I watched it even with dad and mum and we didn’t even recognise her!”

‘I watched the interview on channels TV. I was so inspired and intrigued not knowing it was my own Aunty K.” Chidozie declared.

“You know, Aunty K, you used to tell us so much about God. I believe so much in his power more than ever before. Mum might collapse if she hears this.” Obika joined.

The adults listened smiling.

“We use your products. Congratulations Mr Sigismund and Aunty K.” Her brows narrowed. “Can I still call you aunty K?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Olu, you can.” Katherine told her.

‘Thank you, dear.” Kelvin told her.

They entertained them and she gave the wristwatches she had bought for them.

They spoke at length, Kelvin and Katherine answering their questions and advising them.

Katherine was impressed with them and their academic performance and goals for life.

They were the children she told Kel she promised to see again on the day she owned up. She had served in their home as their caregiver.

*-*

Kelvin looked up from his food to study her.

“You’re sounding as if you’ve forgotten, I used to have the luxury of travelling out of the country. Besides I’m not aero acrophobic and I’ve not been one to suffer traveller’s sickness.” Katherine declared before dabbing her mouth.

They were seated to lunch in the company restaurant.

“And Kathy, this period the weather is…” He continued more of anxiety than her safety.

“For crying out loud, Kel, I know… I know.” She told him in a crispy manner and then she smiled. “Maybe you should write a list of your fears so I can tick the ones you don’t have to bother about.”

He exhaled and massaged his brows. Get a grip on yourself man. He chided himself. “Fair enough.” He returned with a smile of his own. “Can I help you divide your fish into tiny bits?”

‘Not in this life time.” She glared at him.

Kelvin chuckled merrily.

A week back, she had received a package from an international delivery service and to her amazement when she opened, it was from Camilla and they contained travelling documents. Surely she must gotten help from her brother because she had wanted her to come over to California for her two weeks’ vacation. At first, she had panicked but she had eventually told God and when she felt an overwhelming peace, she began to look forward to her stay abroad.

Camilla had been so excited when she told her she would coming. She had gone ahead to pay for her flight ticket too.

Kelvin had half expected her to burst into his office soon after he was aware that she had gotten the parcel and demanded an explanation but she came and informed him of her plans with his sister like she was seeking permission.

He had told her he intend taking few days to see his family and if she didn’t mind, they could go together.

She didn’t mind to his astonishment.

*-*

They discussed, read through articles and deliberated, from business to health, to entertainment and so on while they were airborne. They joked, teased each other until Katherine realised that her companion might not close his eyes until she did.

She had seen him blinked severally and stifled yawns, so she closed her eyes and within twenty minutes, he was fast asleep.

 His curly, shining, black hair, an act she felt like doing most times when she saw him. He looked so handsome and so much like a child that she almost reached to touch his face but she knew gesture would wake him. She was going to meet the rest of his family and she could see he was delighted of her decision to honour the invitation. He couldn’t even mask it.

Her lips parted into a smile.

She wasn’t going to beat herself up with disturbing thoughts especially fear of the unknown- would his mum and younger sister approve of her as Camilla and Franklin had?

She removed the bottled water that was on Kelvin’s lap and placed it in the compartment.

She sat back and closed her eyes.

*-*

The music blasted from the speakers and the DJ was doing a wonderful job of entertaining distinguished guest and all present.

Some had converted the centre of the large sitting room to a dance floor with Kafayat and her finance dancing like they were doing dance practice for their wedding fixed for the coming year.

Aisha was dressed in a nude-coloured expensive embroidery caftan gown with the most expensive jewelleries in her collection gracing her ears, neck and wrists. She used to an importer of jewelleries before her fiftieth birthday.

A spiritual leader would have grace the celebration more of a thanksgiving if not that the Yekinis were in the intercept of both the Islamic and Christianity circles.

Her eyes drifted from Shakira’s identical twins daughters doing justice to the music playing on the dance floor, to Basirat who was seated on the sofa heavy with triplets in the company of her husband who wouldn’t leave her side. And then to Shakirat and her husband who were chatting with some of their guests.

She had so looked forward to the celebration she had mastermind that she urged Yerima to invite Adanma, the on air personality who had gotten pregnant for her son and when she heard that she was from the eastern part of the country, adamantly refused to give her consent and convince other  members of the family likewise. Hence, Yerima didn’t marry her.

The boy of six years was indeed a chip off her son’s shoulders who was seated on his father’s lap chatting while his mother looked on and listened trying to suppress the memories of the psychology battles the family of the father of her child had served hot and steaming at her.

Aisha beamed like a fulfilled crowned queen knowing their presence had made her son happy. She wouldn’t even mind if the two rekindled their old flame, though she hadn’t told Yerima. She lifted the tumbler containing the Irish cream whiskey and took a gulp.

Whoever said things were not well with her family.

*-*

Katherine gasped, nothing in all her experiences had prepared her for the beauty before her, so exquisite that she would have hugged the house if it were possible.

“This is out of the world.” It came more of a muffle than a whisper because she was careful not qualify the building in litotes.

Painted majorly with white and located on a prime corner lot of the renowned Gold Coast of Pacific Heights, San Francisco. The more than a mansion building stood over 16,000 square feet with unparalleled views of the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond.

Katherine was certain Franklin had nothing but the best in the construction of the house. It was oozing with class and style.

When Camilla took her hand to lead her in, she almost refused afraid she was going to wake up from her dream if she took a step forward but then, her grip tightened on Camilla’s.

“I’m nervous.” She told her.

“Even If you profess that, I don’t believe it.” Camilla told her firmly and glanced at her brother.

Kelvin needed no oral message as she took Katherine other hand and they led her in.

Camilla pressed the door bell and screamed into the mouth piece. “We’re here, open the door before I bring it down”

Kelvin chuckled.

In less than twenty seconds, the door slid opened and they came face to face with a lady Katherine knew was Kelvin and Camilla’s medical doctor sister.

“Kel.” She exclaimed and embraced her brother.

Kelvin stood rigid and didn’t return the embrace.

“I’m sorry Kel, I’m very sorry for not even coming once to see you. You know unlike Cam, I can’t be in a place as enclosed as a plane for such a long time.” Her eyes glistened as she held his arm with both hands. “Please forgive me big brother.”

Silence prevailed and this time, Camilla’s grip on Katherine tightened.

“Apology accepted.” He embraced her. “I’ve missed you.”

‘I’ve missed you.”

Camilla grinned.

When the embrace ended, Kelvin approached his mother who had watched the reunion all in smile and memories but her countenance changed.

His facial expression became blanked as he faced her.

They observed each other and seconds passed.

“I won’t take that- innocent than thou attitude you gave your sister, so don’t think of displaying it. Your dad kept giving me excuses but understanding them doesn’t mean accepting them. Kelvin Sigismund, I have no guilt whatsoever, not even an iota.”

Camilla rolled her eyes.

Her elder daughter twitched her lips.

“Mum.” His brow narrowed. “I’d have come if I could but you, you could have always come, and after all, everyone else did.” He exhaled. “We’re both guilty.”

‘That’s right Kelly, apologise first.” His mother returned, her expression serious and her voice was firm.

“Goodness mummy, you never change.” He became sober. ‘I’m sorry mum, I really am and God knows…it’s not been easy living those years without seeing my beloved mum and how I wished you will call someday to inform me you’ll be coming to Nigeria with or without Camilla.” Kelvin went into her arms as tears had formed in his eyes.

“Forgive me honey, forgive me.” She held him tight, her eyes closed and tears trickled. “I’ve missed you so much and I’ve looked forward to this day. Don’t be crossed with me, I’ve be selfish and insensitive. I blessed God for bringing you back in my arms safe and sound.” She kissed his cheek.

He walked back to Camilla and Katherine who were standing pass the door.

Kelvin embraced Camilla. “Thank you for breaching the gap. You’re the best.” He whispered.

Camilla giggled. “You’re best brother in the whole wide world.”

Mother and daughter had their eyes on Katherine.

He took Katherine’s hand and led to the midst of them.

‘You two meet her, the one you know but haven’t met. Let me start the introduction with my darling mum, Kathy meet Darlene Sigismund, I’m sure you marvelled at her firmness, she retired as a principal. Mummy meet Katherine Sylvester.”

Katherine stepped forward and the older woman embraced her. “Welcome to the family honey.”

“Thank you ma, it gives me great joy to finally meet you.”

“Camilla had not stopped talking about you since she returned, same with my husband.” She was a beauty even in her mid-fifties, Kelvin and his immediate younger sister were simply a replica of her. “But they both skipped the part that you’re a beautiful beauty.”

Katherine chuckled. “Having met Mr Franklin and you have left me less awed of how gorgeous Kelvin, Camilla and…”

“Katherine, meet my lovely sister, she is the medical director of Sigismund Medical Centre, Kay meet Katherine.”

Katherine embraced her and Kayla kissed her on a cheek.

“An honour meeting you dear finally, like mum said, you’ve been the news we breathe in and out since Camilla arrived.”

She chuckled. “You look gorgeous Kay and I love your profession.”

They all sat in the elegant sitting room that showcases two grand staircases that accesses the top two levels and precedes the formal sitting room and dining room.

“I wanted you two to meet first so I kept this news for such a long time.” He sat back. “You two are twins.”

“Twins?” Kayla blinked then shook her head. “What are you talking about?”

Katherine brows darkened but she said nothing.

“Yes, I discovered that when I checked Katherine’s bio data. Same day, month and year of birth.”

Kayla shrieked in delight. “I have a twin sister!”

Darlene and Camilla beamed.

Katherine was so stunned that she recovered when she realised that Kayla was embracing her a second time.

***~~~***

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