Even though it had been hard to leave Sam even for a minute, she had to step out of the house for the first time in three days. Sam was at home with his grandparents – Mr and Mrs Peters, who couldn’t let him out of their sight for even a second. Amara on the other hand, drove to Reliance, feeling anxiety eat away at her. She was putting her past behind her. Now, looking at the positive side of all that had befallen her, she could boldly say that ‘all things had worked together for her good’. If she hadn’t met Alex and gotten pregnant, she would probably still be in the village, since her parents were not even rich enough to sponsor her university education. Everything that happens in a human’s life is for a divine reason, one that cannot be easily deciphered by the feeble minds of men. Now she appreciated the mistakes she had made in life, for those mistakes have crafted a brand new woman from the naive village innocent that she once was. Now, she had become a force to be reckoned with in the society; a woman that cannot be easily deceived by minute things. She had become wiser, better and stronger, all thanks to the past she had once seen as the bane of her existence. Now she had reasons to thank Alex, because, he had unknowingly led her to becoming a better and happier person.
With a sigh, Amara parked her car and alighted. She craned her head to the back to look at the building that towered over her. Reliance! Never had the name of a company suited its owner so well. Closing her eyes briefly to muster enough courage, she walked into the company. The company radiated Kelvin’s essence and strength and she smiled happily, proud of the man she had fallen in love with. Her heart pounded wildly. She was relying on the hope that Kelvin was here. She had been to his house and called him several times; she couldn’t begin to think of what she would do if he wasn’t here. She approached the receptionist with a shaky smile on her face. “Hello miss, how may I help you?” The lady asked.
“Errrr… I am here to see Mr Kelvin Johnson” her heart pounded loudly in her ears.
“I am sorry Ma’am, he is not here at the moment”
Amara deflated and her knees almost gave way beneath her. She felt the overwhelming urge to cry. “When would he be here, maybe I can wait” she squeaked.
“Actually, I think he is out of town, he is not always in Lagos for long.” the lady confided.
“Do you have any idea where he might be or when he would be back?”
“Mr Johnson never tells us about his movements ma’am, I am sorry. He usually is at our other branch in Abuja but he is not there currently.”
Amara left the place dejected. She had never felt such pain and emptiness. She was worried, nervous and scared. She didn’t even want to imagine anything bad happening to Kelvin. How would she live without him? How would she contain the fact that she might never see Kelvin again? No! She refused to give up. She would find Kelvin no matter the cost. Blinking back unshed tears, she drove away from Reliance.
Senator Bello followed the doctor into his office with a grave look on his face. It had been several days of turmoil. It seemed his life had suddenly turned into a world-class circus display centre. First, it was the issue of Alex’s parentage, now this! He swallowed hard as he settled in the chair facing the doctor. “Just tell me my son is going to live doctor” he said instantly without preamble. He couldn’t lose everything in his life all at once! First his family, his wife, now his son? How could he live on when he had literarily nothing to live for?
The doctor looked down and sighed. “He would live sir”
Senator Bello released the breath that he had unconsciously been holding. “Oh thank God! Thank God!” He looked up like he was gazing directly at God.
The Senator froze. “But what?” His voice rang out loud and clear, panic clinging to his every muscle.
The doctor looked around again before his gaze finally settled on the Senator. “Sir… I am afraid the accident affected his spinal cord”
“What? So… i mean… what is the effect?” He asked dreadfully.
“Due to the examinations carried out on him, I fear he has partial paralysis” he declared.
“What?” The Senator jumped up. “You can’t be serious! How can my son be paralysed?”
The doctor shifted. “Not complete paralysis, only partial. Some parts of his body have gone numb and are would not respond to command, however, there are some parts of his body which are still functioning to capacity.”
Senator Bello racked his fingers through his hair, then, drew in a deep breath. “How long will this last?”
“With due therapy, we might be able to bring his body back to its full capacity in the long run, but I can’t promise anything”
The Senator walked out of the doctor’s office with sagging shoulders. He couldn’t come to terms with what he had just heard. It was so disheartening! How would Alex take this news? How would he be able to bear this state he now found himself? Mr Bello entered the waiting room and three women jumped up. His wife, Alex’s mother and Alex’s wife. They all looked at him with grave expressions on their faces. How could he tell them that Alex would be confined to a wheelchair, reduced to nothing more than a liability on everyone? The news was more than he could handle himself.
From the corner of his eyes, he watched his wife walk up to him. The one pleasant thing that Alex’s accident had achieved was that it had succeeded in bringing him closer to his wife. He couldn’t tell if she still wanted to go through with the divorce, but he would enjoy this time with Katherine, because despite knowing that Alex wasn’t her biological son, she had stayed put in the hospital throughout the waiting trauma. He turned to her just as she stood before him, eyes filled with compassion. Unable to hold back, he pulled her into a tight embrace. Just like a mother would console a grieving child, Mrs Bello offered what little consolation she could offer.
Amara entered the church with her heart thudding wildly in her chest. Amara looked round the empty church, filled with only numerous chairs. It had been years, almost ages since she stepped foot into a church. She missed it. She missed that close intimacy she had once shared with her maker. Would God reject her? If he did, she knew she surely deserved it.
She walked until she finally found herself standing next to the altar. Sighing deeply, she knelt down before the altar, allowing silence to envelope her thoughts. Closing her eyes, she opened her mouth and – for the first time in years – prayed.
Amara entered the eatery with an excited Sam clutching at her arm. Sam hadn’t stopped asking for a cup of ice cream all day and since Amara couldn’t deny him anything, they were at the eatery to buy the ice cream. She walked to the counter and smiled at the uniformed ladies. She opened her mouth to order for two cups of ice cream when suddenly, Sam’s high pitched scream caught her full attention.
“Daddy” Sam suddenly screamed and snatched his hand from hers.
Amara turned around so fast, she nearly lost her footing. It was like one those slow motions she had watched countless number of times, but now, it seemed like she was the cast in one of those movies. Her heart slammed wildly against her chest, almost breaking out of it as her eyes collided with Kelvin’s. Her breath caught in her throat and she grabbed the counter for support. Was it real? Was she really staring at Kelvin? His presence, despite the distance, enveloped her senses, leaving her completely and utterly breathless. Her eyes were as large as two huge doughnuts. Kelvin! Kelvin is here! She couldn’t believe it! Neither could she move a limb. She was practically glued to the ground, staring at Kelvin like an idiot as he stood, close to the entrance, also staring at her.
As Sam got closer to Kelvin, Kelvin had to take his eyes off Amara. His eyes brightened in an animated fashion and he scooped him up in the air, the way he used to. Sam squealed in delight, giggling happily. He had missed him so much. Lowering Sam, Kelvin squatted before him. “How have you been son? You cheeks look bigger” He said, pulling Sam’s cheeks playfully.
Sam was smiling so widely, the smile engulfed his entire face. “Mummy has been giving me too much food.”
He glanced at Amara who had finally moved a bit closer, with a cunning smile. “I am sure she has. Have you been taking care of mummy?” He asked Sam with a raised eyebrow.
Sam grinned proudly. “Yes daddy, Sam has been a very good boy. Promise”
Kelvin chuckled. “I am sure you have.”
“We came to buy ice cream daddy” Sam said, looking longingly at the counter.
“Really? Which one are you buying for mummy?” He asked, with a mischievous glimmer that Amara knew too well.
“Chocolate ice cream. Mummy said it is her favourite”
Kelvin’s eyes slowly moved to Amara’s as his eyes heated. “Of course.” He whispered to Sam, still looking at Amara. “Chocolate ice cream is the sweetest I have tasted” his gaze lingered on her lips and Amara’s face turned red from embarrassment. This is not the scenario she had imagined when she thought of the time she would meet Kelvin. She swallowed as his gaze slid back to her face. “Ara” he whispered. How could Kelvin make her feel so alive by just whispering that?
“Kelvin… I…” she stammered.
“Kelvin” a high pitched woman’s voice pierced the tension between them and Amara looked up to see a stunningly beautiful woman walking towards Kelvin. Kelvin straightened to his full height as the woman got to his side and poked playfully at his side. “I told you to wait for me, how could you leave me behind?”
He smiled at her. “I am sorry baby”
Baby? Baby? Amara saw red as she glared at the two of them. What was going on? Fury and uncontrollable jealousy ate at her as she glared at the pair before her. Could this be Kelvin’s girlfriend? She almost expired at the thought. She had to get out of there fast before she embarrass herself by crying at their feet. They were beginning to draw stares in the eatery. Was it a coincidence that every time she was in this eatery with Kelvin, she always managed to draw people’s attention?
“Aunty Tricia” Sam squeaked and jumped on the lady, who grabbed him fondly. Oh great! So Kelvin has introduced my son to his woman! Oh perfect. Amara’s blood boiled hot. All thoughts of apologizing to Kelvin was forgotten as she snatched Sam from the ‘Aunty Tricia’s hands.
“Let’s go Sam” she said instantly.
“But I want to stay with daddy” Sam complained.
“He has a guest” she said firmly and started to move when the lady’s giggling voice halted her.
Tricia looked up at Kelvin. “I think she is jealous”
Kelvin was staring at Amara with an unreadable expression on his face, but an amused expression crossed his face at Tricia’s comment. “It seems so”
Amara’s fury spiralled beyond control and she bit her tongue to stop herself from causing a scene, more than enough people were staring already. “Let’s go Sam” she almost dragged Sam along in her rage. She blinked away the bitter tears that clung to her eyes. As she got to the door, she pried it open but the door didn’t budge. She pulled at it again but the door remained glued to its spot. She whirled around to yell at someone, anyone, as long as the door was opened. What her eyes collided with froze her to the spot.
“Amara Peters, will you marry me?”
Amara’s eyes were so large, they engulfed her entire face. She couldn’t see clearly as tears blurred her gaze. She wiped at her eyes vigorously until she could see clearly.
Kelvin’s heart hammered against his chest as he knelt down at the middle of the large eatery, waiting for Amara’s response. What if she says no? Oh no! He mentally shook his head. He couldn’t negatively now. He swallowed hard as the hand holding the ring box shook nervously.
“Marry you?” She croaked out, grasping the handle of the door behind her.
Alarm rang in Kelvin’s head. Mr Sinja had encouraged him to take this step. Could he have been mistaken to assume that Amara loved him. It had taken days to summon this courage, but now, as Kelvin watched Amara, he had the great fear that the would be turned down. “I love you Amara, with the whole of my being” he said, his heart pounding. He looked at the small crowd in the eatery and yelled. “I love Amara Peters” his voice echoed and he watched Amara wipe at her eyes over and over again. His eyes burned into hers intensely. “I want to spend the rest of my days with you Ara, loving you and our son and every other child that comes along. Please marry me Ara”
“Oh Kelvin…” Amara cried and ran to him, going to her knees and hugging him tightly. Kelvin clutched her to him tightly, inhaling her essence. “I thought you wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me Kelvin” she murmured, crying against him. “Oh Kelvin…” she moaned as her tears racked through her. “I love you Kelvin. I love you so much”
Kelvin pulled back slightly, searching out her mouth until he found it. He kissed her deeply, running his fingers through the silky mane of her hair. Pulling back forcefully, he stared intently into her eyes. “Is that yes?” He whispered against her lips.
A bright smile slid to her tears stricken face. “It’s a yes” she whispered, then, looking at the crowd of expectant spectators, she screamed. “Yes, I will marry you Kelvin Johnson”
Loud shouts and applause greeted the proclamation as Kelvin slipped the dazzling diamond ring onto her finger and kissed her finger before kissing her lingeringly.
Tricia cleared her throat and Kelvin and Amara finally stood up. “Careful lovebirds, we have children here.” Then, she stretched her hand to Amara. “I am Tricia Johnson Babs, Kelvin’s sister” she declared with a grin. “I am not his girlfriend, so you don’t have to worry”
Amara felt an embarrassed flush creep up her cheeks. “I am sorry” then she frowned. “Babs?” She turned to Kelvin. “Babs? That is the surname of the founder of Bracket right?”
Kelvin smiled. “That is Max, my cousin”
Amara gaped at him. So that is why Maxwell had looked familiar!
“Yaaaay!” Sam screamed happily. “My mummy is marrying my daddy”
Tricia lifted him to her arms. “That is so right!” She faced the couple. “When is the wedding?”
Kelvin stood all grins at the altar with the most ravishing bride in the continent. He couldn’t wait to whisk her away from the crowd and have her all to himself. The happiness in him couldn’t be weighed by any scale. He smiled at Amara, with his eyes shinning with love and happiness. “I love you” he mouthed and she grinned.
Maxwell stood behind Kelvin, smiling at the couple in front of him. He still couldn’t believe he was exceedingly happy as the best man, but he was. There was a time he had sworn that he would do anything to make Amaea his, but now, instead of being angry that he was the best man in Amara’s wedding, he was exceedingly happy. He had never seen his cousin so happy in his life. He on the other hand, felt another type of happiness. He turned to stare at Tina, who was seated with Tola and his heart soared. He and Kelvin had gathered money to fly Tina out of the country where she had undergone the Kidney transplant. Now, she was recovering fast from the operation and Max knew he would do anything to capture her heart as quickly as she had captured his. Besides, who can resist Max’s charms? He grinned to himself.
Amara had never felt more blessed. Now her life felt complete. Amara looked at the crowd and saw her two mothers, dressed in the same native attire and smiled. Forgiveness pays! She had come to love and forgive Mrs Bello. Only pain can come from carrying anger in your heart and Amara had learnt that the hard way. Tina and Tola winked at her and she smiled happily.
“You look ravishing boss” Tega said to Amara and Amara smiled.
“Thank you Tega” she said to her Maid of Honour.
“You can go on a full one month honeymoon boss, Ara P is safe with your P.A” Tega said proudly.
Amara grinned. She had officially made Tega her assistant and it was an excellent choice. “I am sure of that”
Kelvin enclosed his arms around his newly wedded wife from behind and Tega literarily vanished as Amara turned to her husband with a bright dazzling smile. Kelvin rained kisses on her face and and she giggled. “What do you say we escape from this place?” He asked distractedly as he kissed her her neck.
Amara ran her fingers through his hair. “It sounds like a good plan” she murmured.
He lifted his bright eyes to hers. “Aren’t you curious about where we spend our honeymoon Mrs Johnson?” He raised his brow.
Amara linked her arms around his neck. “I would go anywhere, as long as I am with you Mr Johnson”
Kelvin lowered his head and kissed her hungrily and she returned the kiss with equal fervor as she basked in the happiness that Kelvin had brought into her life. They forgot everything and everyone as they dwelt in a world that belonged to them alone. A world where unlimited sacrifices are made for love.