Kelvin had taken one of the cars and drove them to SIC California after breakfast, the headquarters of United State branches, they were warmly received and by the time they left an hour later, having met most of the staff and taken a tour of the massive production company, Katherine had left them suggestions that had left the Managing director nodding impressed and his secretary scribbling in a note pad.

Afterwards, he took her to one of United States’ most scenic and famous national parks, Yosemite National Park in Northern California.

By the time they got home after spending about three hours, chatting, exchanging talks with tourist, posing and taking photographs, running around, refreshments and so on, they were exhausted but happy.

Katherine had been fascinated.

 

*-*

 

Unlike Katherine, Kelvin was not on vacation so after being indoors the next day, he travelled to one of the company’s branch in Latin America. Not before instructing ladies in his life to take good care of his Jewel.

Kayla drove Katherine to her hospital from the airport after they dropped off Kelvin.

She was thrilled by the hospital standard, the respect they accorded Kayla and was awed when they got to her office and her eyes read each accolade in her office.

She was friendly but Katherine knew she was introverted and she observed it might be borne out of cautiousness.

Camilla later joined them and they went for a shopping spree after which they had gone home to cook.

She learnt from them and she was grateful she had come, she had spent more time laughing than she had done in some years in her life.

In the midst of it all, Darlene had come and whisked her away for a friend’s dinner invite despite the protest of her daughters.

*-*

Katherine approached the midst of the garden where Kayla was seated carrying a mini tray containing two glasses and a pack of juice. She stood for a moment watching her who was staring into space before breaching the distance. She handed a glass to Kayla who mouthed her appreciation.

They took sips and silence prevailed.

Katherine said few prayers in her mind before speaking. “I’ve a weakness of observing people, and most times, my conclusions are usually ninety percent correct.”

Kayla directed all her attention to her.

“Every time you’re alone, you seem to go out of your environment, your face express a kind of bitterness.”

Kayla sighed.

“Dearie, what is wrong or better still what is the challenge? Is it a patient before you went on vacation, is it a patient that passed on? I understand that medical doctor see and go through a lot in the course of their profession.”

Kay managed a smile. “Kathy, I don’t allow my profession interfere with my personal life, I do my best and allow God take charge.”

“Thanks for the information sis, I can now interfere that there is a challenge but it is not profession-related.” Katherine smiled. “One of the reasons we’re human and not perfect is because most times, we have a challenge or battle that make us cry in our clos…”

‘Katherine,” She interrupted, her voice quiet and bland. “We can catch some fun with this time, ’cause there is nothing to talk about, really.” She scrolled through her phone. “Let me find out if we could go see a movie.”

“I’m sounding nosy but I’m not like that every time.” Katherine set the tumbler on the table. “Listen to me dearie, this last time okay? I was in a situation and something Kelvin told me stuck in my head till date and transformed me. We are each other angels, whether we like it or not. God cannot come down from heaven and meet our needs even after we’ve prayed.” She exhaled. “I’m promising a solution but I know that a problem shared, is a problem on the path of solution.”

Kayla looked away and wondered if they were they born on same, place on same path by fate for a time and allowed to meet for a time like this?

Katherine picked her glass and took a couple of sips while she waited hoping not to dismiss.

“I’ll be needing half a dozen boxes of Kleenex.” She managed a shaky laughter at her own sense of humour and turned to look at her companion.

Katherine beamed. “That can be arranged. I wish I could tell you this without going all weepy.” She bit her lower lips. “It is just like opening a healed wound, no…no…” She shook her head. “The wound never healed.”

Katherine moved her chair close and took Kayla’s hand in hers.

“If you’ve watched Camilla and I closely enough, you must noticed our way of life is different from the norm here.” Kayla began.

Katherine nodded. They were always dressed modestly and were respectful.

“I find pride in being born in a godly family. The background we didn’t much appreciate because we were brought up to be different from others until we grew older. Before age ten, I watched a movie that changed my life, it was there and then, I got motivated to be a medical doctor. I’m a girl of my own in the sense that I relate to people but hardly call anyone friend. When I was in high school…” She paused for a moment before proceeding. “There used to be a period every season in high school in which there is an inter school competitions with rewards and awards for the winning school and participants. I remember at a particular season, it was drama. The winning drama would be shown on TV. The drama title and introduction was posted and had to be develop by our instructor. It wasn’t my biz until the drama instructor walked into my grade, read few words from a script and asked who the best person to act as a doctor would be. All hands pointed to me and I became involved. There was another guy whose role was to be a fire fighter. We met in the course of rehearsals, he was a couple of grades ahead of me. If I hadn’t be so much into myself, I’d seen him before them.” She made a wry face. “He was this dandy guy and was popular too because most of the ladies drooled just at the sight of him and were… what would be the perfect description?” Kayla was thoughtful.

“Heels over head in lust with him.”  Katherine suggested.

“Perfect!” She beamed and her face reminded Katherine of Kelvin and she smiled, they look more like twins.

“My school won, the drama went cable and we actors and actresses were invited for an exclusive interview in the most prominent TV station at that time. The interview was dual, in the sense that complimenting roles were interviewed same time.
Matthew is the name of the fire fighter and we were interviewed together.” Kayla blinked severally and couldn’t help the tears that rolled down her oblong face. “Damn it Kayla!” She chided embarrassed.

“Don’t beat yourself up Kay, if you could help yourself you would have done that.” She stroke her palms.

“He was good memory then but now he is such a bad one that always succeed inflicting me with stinging tears.” She took in a deep breaths before proceeding. “We became friends after that. Despite all the girls that wanted him, he chose me and that amazed me. I knew I was beautiful but I considered him to be more. Walking me home after school became a routine and he met my family and I, his.

When he graduated, even when I went to medical college, he still kept in touch. He was my best friend and I loved him so much.” She stared into space. “I loved him dearly, I don’t consider praying without his name inclusive as complete. At twenty one, I had my hospital, and he, a job with fat salary. On my birthday, we got engaged.” She sighed and her eyes welled. “Never did I think of looking at another man.” Her forehead creased. “Unlike many of my mates, at that age, I knew what I wanted. I was in love and ready to settle. A month before we took her vows in the presence of the Almighty, Matt asked me out to a restaurant and that turned out to be the most devastating day in my life. There, he told me he appreciated the years we shared together and that he needed to do real exploration before ever tying the knots. Those words were among the last things he said to me.”

She was confused. “What did he mean by exploration?”

“In the relationship, at a point in time, he wanted it consummated but I refused.” Kayla replied.

“Oh…I see.” Katherine huffed.

“Every of his words were like darts in my heart. I was knocked out, when he stood and wanted to leave, I couldn’t help but plea with him to stay. ‘My mind is fixed’ ” He said before leaving. “The nerve!” She said spitefully. “He had picked me from my father’s house, yet he walked out on me not caring how I got back home. I had to call Cam to come for me. That girl is the best. She met me practically breathless.
He didn’t call me again and I was scared to hell to call him because I felt I would die from my heart haemorrhage if I hear him repeat what he had told me. I was so torn apart because there was no previous sign that gave me cause to have second thought of his integrity. A little bird told me he got a new job in one of the Asian countries. You can imagine how devastated I felt to know he had moved on.”

Katherine nodded.

“Eventually I got a hold of me because I was tired of seeing the worry look on my family’s faces and didn’t want my patients’ victims of negligence. I developed a new mind set.”

“Let me guess.” Katherine raised a finger. “I’ll never let any man take advantage of my heart.”

“Yes Katherine, yes.” She affirmed. “A year later, as I was doing my routine check on all patients in the hospital, I got to a ward in which the patient had gotten ill due to self-medications and at that moment was convalescing. There, she introduce me to her half-brother who happened to be her only surviving relative. He complimented me on the work that had been done and the hospital services. Afterwards, he made it a point of duty to check up on me every time he came around. After a week, he asked me out and of course, I turned him down. There was something dominant about his personality, his smile. He had a smile that make you certain he would be smiling through twenty one lashes of a whip.” She couldn’t help but chuckle.

Katherine giggled.

“I’m as serious a man aiming an arrow at a hair breadth.” Then she exhaled and ran three of fingers across her face. “There was this greatness about him, I can express it all. The kind of aura one feels around a man who can compete with Omar Borkan Al Gala in terms of look. He is cool headed, soft spoken coupled with the fact he was managing two inherited companies effectively. He persisted and I eventually realised he was I -don’t- take- no for an answer kind of person. His disturbance got on my nerve and I decided to grant his request, hoping to discourage any other invitations via my attitude. Against my plan he was annoyingly charming and it became a maiden entrance to other outings. Though he had confessed that I was the first woman that turned him down. He told me my attitude must have been the product of a relationship turned sour, I was taken aback because my relationship with Matt was never a media thing. He did most of the talking and got me cracking up. After his sister was discharged, He kept calling but I wouldn’t pick, three weeks after our first outing, he came to my office and waited four hours just to see me. After playing hide and seek, I couldn’t help but obliged him. Afterwards we became friends.” Kayla reached for her glass and took a sip of her juice.

“He was such a good person, he cared so much and in my mind, I compared him with Matt.” Tears formed in her eyes. “He was more of an epitome of my dream man. He was like an angel sent to relief me of all the pains Matt inflicted.” Her eyes shut and she let out a shaky breath. “I loved him and prayed to the Almighty that things would work out this time around. Nine months later, we were engaged, barely a month after, I received a message from a lady who asked me to stay away from him because he was hers.” She opened her eyes and the dam was let loose.

Katherine fetched a hanky and wiped her tears.

“Thanks.” She muttered. “I believed she was a jealous ex. Soon I started hearing rumours but I didn’t believe them but it became too much to ignore so I decided to confront him, I went to his office. His secretary told me he was busy, I felt he was really busy because that was like the first time she was telling that since I started visiting. I waited, but something about the atmosphere and the secretary continual glance at me became unsettling. Psychology and my daily exposure had taught me to know when a person is withholding information. Being from a family of smart brains, I knew waiting time was over, I sprang to my feet and before the secretary could round her desk. His door had been swung open. He was with a woman and right there…” She raised her palm to wipe away the fresh set of tears. “They were having coitus. I too daze to confront him so I turned around to flee.

The secretary was standing before, “Miss Sigismund, I’m gonna lose my job.” She told me tearfully. I told her that if he does, I’ll get her another. As I made to leave, he called my name and I turned around. He was on his knees. He began apologizing. Sorry?” Kayla scoffed. Why is that people believe that sorry would take away their intentional offense?”

Knowing it was a rhetorical question, Katherine didn’t bother replying.

I gazed at him like horn was sprouting from his head.

“‘I love you Kayla and my intention was never to hurt you. I need you to be my wife, the mother of my children. I cherish your person Kay. I… I just wanted to satisfy my sexual desires maximally before marriage so I don’t cheat on you while am in.’”

“How outrageous!” Katherine declared upset, not sure she would spare him a head-clearing slap if the table had been turned.

“I gave him a piece of my mind knowing that if he could cheat on me while we were engaged, marriage wouldn’t change him. I told him never to bother me as I remove his engagement ring and hurled it at him. He called that night and subsequently, I wouldn’t take his calls. He came to office a couple of times and I asked security to throw him out. I can’t seem to comprehend why life is unfair to me.” Her body shook in sobs.

Katherine held her hands.

“Everything I’ve ever done from the day I could differentiate my right from left have been willingly. I never allowed myself to be forced or coaxed into taking a decision without first thinking about it. I’m committed to all I do.” She sniffed. “I’m not type that punish one for another’s offense, I was devoted to Matt and Jeff. Just at the edge they succeeded in plunging a sword in my heart and twisting it. I have friends who didn’t go through all these heart breaks and are happily married. I don’t know why I’m so unfortunate.”

“What did your mum say about it all?”

“She said that a broken relationship is better than a broken marriage and she would not have any of children divorce.”

“I’d like to start on that note. That is very important Kay, we wouldn’t know we’ve been done a favour until our spiritual eyes are opened. There is always something to be thankful for…always dear because people out there are going through worst, some don’t even have shoulders to lean on.”

Kayla kept shaking her head.

It dawned on Katherine that she would need a living testimony to rekindle her spirit. She exhaled and told her life story.

Another set of tears coursed down her cheek. “How can I be complaining when you have been through all that? Kathy, I don’t think I’ll survive that!” She threw her arms around Katherine and embraced her. “God must be disappointed in me, for questioning him over some half-baked guys.”

Katherine chuckled at Kayla’s reaction and for the fact that she had shared her story without being teary eyed. It was a sign of divine healing.

*-*

She had hardly closed the door behind her when a hand came over her right hand and pulled her forward.

“There is something you have to hear.” Kayla collected her bag.

“Oh no Kayla.” Katherine frowned and tried to break free from her grip. “My knees are knocking and I will collapse if you don’t let me be.”

She had gone for dance practise with Darlene.

Kayla pulled with both hands.

“Jeez Kay! Haven’t you been listening to me?”

“Don’t give up on me Kathy. Don’t be as stubborn as Camilla.”

Katherine rolled her eyes before following up the stairs.

“Lord Almighty!” She slumped on sofa in Kayla’s study.

Kayla went over to the phone, press a button before sitting beside Katherine.

“Kayla Sigismund, you could have killed me.”

“Hush.” Kayla said with an index finger to her lips.

“Kayla Sigismund here.”

“Hello… hello Kayla, is that you? Oh my…”

Katherine sat up.

“Who am I speaking with?”

“I…I can’t believe I’m hearing your voice and that was the dose that usually make my day.” The voice was shaky.

“Who in the world am I speaking with? (Calm with mild irritation.) If you don’t tell who you’re are, I’ll hang up ’cause I’ve better things to do than to listen to some fused words.”

“That’s how you’ve been my baby, stating things straight. This is huu…Matt…Matthew and please don’t…”

“Matt…Matthew…Matthew who?” (Snaps)

Kayla linked her palms with Katherine’s who looked from her sombre face to the phone.

(Remorse) “Matthew Wellington, please don’t …don’t hang up.”

“What the heck! (Anger iced with curiosity) You dared to call me after all these years? If you remember me so well you should know I don’t take order from insensitive, heartless…”

“Please… please Kaylabel, I beg of you in whatever you believe in, you’ve got to hear me out. I know you’ve got every right not to listen, to be cross but darling, listen to me.”

“Are you thinking straight Matt? After walking out on me on the aisle, like I’m some piece of trash…you must be out of your mind!”

“Please Kaylabel, that’s the more reason you should listen to me, besides I’ll not let you be until you hear me out.”

“Coward! Why you don’t you show your face and say what you need to say.”

“I’d very much love to see you again and I’ll give anything just to see your face again. It’s just that… that I’m on a hospital bed.”

From what Katherine could fathom, she guess he was trying to fight back the shakiness from his voice and tears. She glanced at Kayla, tears were also in her eyes.

“So what? “(Icily)

“Walking out on you was the worst mistake of my life. I walked out on you that fateful day to…my early grave.”

“Spill the bean and stop being idiomatic.”

“I’m serious Kaylabel! It’s over for me. (sobs) I’m taking counts to when it will be over. “

“What are you talking about?”

“I have barely a month to live.”

“Is this a joke?”

“No Kay…I’m not that is why am calling to ask for forgiveness.”

“Calm down Matt, I think you’re not joking because I have never known you to be the crying type. For God’s sake, stop crying…why are you on the hospital bed?”

“I’m a suffering from AIDS.”

“Even so Matt…you can’t have a month to live if you got to the hospital in time and was true to medications and follow up.”

“Not only that Kaylabel, I’ve another diagnosis.”

“Which?”

“I can’t say.”

“Where are you and who is your physician?”

“Germany and he is Bill Smart.”

“Doctor Smart is a specialist in treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. (Pause) Matthew! Hope it’s not what am thinking. “

“I suppose it is, or worst.”

“Matthew…”

“That’s why I find it difficult to forgive myself …we should be married Kay, I did love you and probably we should have our first baby and I’m sure he or she would have been a beauty. Damn it! I had all the imaginations but I can’t figure what kind of spirit possessed me. With my eyes wide opened, I chose to walk out on a woman I didn’t find a replacement for in all of my exploration and fate paid me back in my own coin giving me hell with no alternative. I’m very sorry Kay. “

“I’ve already forgiven you. You need to forgive yourself Matt. You need to confess your sins and  accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour. I’ll come and see you as soon as I can. “

Kayla stood and turned off the machine.

‘He calls you Kaylabel.”

“Yes.” Her smile was wry. “The additional BEL means my baby, everything and love.”

“Wow.” Katherine said impressed.

“I cried after speaking with his physician who confirmed my fears, he should be more like a skeleton now.”

“It’s okay if you want to see him. I can come with you Kay when you’re ready.”

“Oh Katherine…” She threw her arms around her. “You’re heaven sent.”

*-*

Ezinne Ezeugo closed the door of the nursery and leaned against it.

It was eight years ago she arranged the nursery with so much optimism and excitement. She had been so sure she would conceive within three months of marriage.

She exhaled and closed her eyes. All she could boast after all the years had been series of miscarriages. Now her sister in law was heavily pregnant and she didn’t know how to feel.

She sighed and her tears flowed. Not like she and husband had been seating on a rocking chair. They had seen some of the best specialist both home and abroad.
Being the only daughter, out of fear of being chased out of her matrimonial home, her parents had arranged and sponsored some personal visits to some herbal doctors, all to no avail.

Now her only friend had stopped seeing and picking her calls because she had suggested they visit some native doctors for help and she, disappointed had walked out of her boutique after expressing her disappointment.

She sighed once more. Yes, she wanted a child desperately but she didn’t want marine children. She knew they were consequential children that would need her making some sacrifices every other year, unable to travel beyond some distance, not eating some kind of food amongst others.

She sat on the floor with her legs stretched out and her back against the wall and placed both hands on her head.

She was sure if her parents-in-law were alive, they would have thrown her out of her matrimonial home.

Ezinne sniffed and directed her eyes above. “God why me? What have I done that cannot be forgiven…is it my destiny to die childless?” Her body shook as she tears.

*-*

“You know the place, don’t you?’ Katherine strolled around the garden with the phone to her ear.

“Yes dear.”

“I’ll be grateful if you would come.”

“Sure thing Therine. I’ll be there.”

Even as she took the first step to execute the plan that had been going through her mind for the past couple of days and had even prayed about it yet still had a feeling her plan was ridiculous but couldn’t help herself.

A call came into her phone and her face lit up. It was Kelvin calling from Nigeria.

*-*

They were seated in the restaurant, her companion eyes were trained on the menu booklet while she had her eyes on the entrance. It was still five minutes before the time she told him but she was anxious, afraid that something might come and he wouldn’t be able to make it. Then she sighted him looking as handsome as she remembered and she broke into a smile before exhaling.

He glanced around and saw her, he beamed and took strides to cover the distance between them.

“Good afternoon ladies.” He gave a low bow.

They stood and he hugged Katherine before Kayla.

“You ladies look stunning dressed similarly.”

They were dressed in ankara straight cut gown. She had come with 32 yards for the family and the duo had chosen a similar style.

“Thank you.” They chorused.

“You look charming and handsome better than I remembered.” She winked at him.

Kenneth chuckled and unbuttoned his blazers as he sat.

“I believe you’ve met Kayla.” Katherine said as a matter of fact.

“Sure, Kelvin make his cherished friends meet his wonderful family.”

Kayla smiled.

They gave their orders for lunch and drinks and in no time they were served.

“Can you imagine that Kayla and I are twins?”

“Twins?” He repeated and glanced at both of them with puckered brows. “How do you mean?” He sipped from his tumbler.

“Same day, month and year.”

“Amazing! I can imagine your reactions to the revelation. Bet that’s one of the most successful research my friend has ever done.” He grinned.

“Yup.” Kayla giggled. “You need to see him when he gave the announcement.”

They concentrated on their meals making small talks.

“Kenneth, Kayla, you two have some similarities.” Katherine announced after their table had been cleared of plates and cutlery. “You’ve been through disappointment and all its baggage at the hand of the opposite sex. I’ve done my best to offer advice and support and God in his infinite mercies has taken charge of your lives.”

They listened to her raptly. Both taken aback at the news of the other.

“I for one detest unfinished works. I don’t want anything that would happen that may cause regression and I know you still nurse fear of making another mistake. I will need you to share some of the things you’ve learnt with each other. Iron sharpens iron.” She glanced from Kenneth to Kayla, “Who goes first?”

“I will.” Kayla said.

*-*

Her eyes did a scan of the car park for her official car and driver.

Then she saw him looking so fly and fine leaning against his car, his legs crossed with sun glasses like he just stepped out from cover page of a magazine for men.

Before one could say Tom Cruise, she began running with her suitcase, when she was close enough, she dropped it and flew into his arms.

“Gracious goodness, have you been learning high jump?” Kelvin exclaimed and laughed.

“I’ve missed you.” She said before burying her face into his neck and inhaling his familiar scent.

“Huh…” He acted surprised as he ran his palm on her hair. “I’ve missed you more dearie.” He kissed her cheek and forehead.

Soon they were headed to a fun spot and Katherine was chatting away.

He listened, made comments but laughed most of time, feeling a sense of wholeness that was to new with her beside him.

*-*

They shook hands both smiling.

“Congratulations once more.” The doctor told him.

“Thank you very much sir.” Tobi gave a low bow brimming with happiness.

Just then, Aishat and Shakirat came into the waiting room.

“Congratulations Ladies.” The elderly family doctor told them. “She was delivered of two boys and a girl and they are all fine.”

Shakira and Aisha leaped for joy.

“Thank you Doctor Hassan.” She made to knee in courtesy.

Shakira hugged her brother in law. The matron approached the doctor in haste. “Doctor we need your attention for Mrs Adams.”

 A look at the Matron he had worked with for about fifteen years was the only confirmation he needed. Without asking questions, he hurried away with her.

The trio stared at the departing figure, mouth agape and horrified.

*** ~~~ ***

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