Sacrilege by Nissi Adeola. Episode 22

Tags

, , , ,

Episode 22

Chris glanced at Tito and back at the road. Mouth set, clenched fists, veiled eyes staring out of the window… Perfect! Chris thought. He had surely overdone it this time. Of course, she would be angry; who wouldn’t? He never should have hurled her over his shoulder like a bag of unwashed rags; where had the idea come from anyways? He couldn’t believe he had done that. But it was surely the challenge he had seen in her eyes, the unmistakable dare, testing his limits and capabilities. He had enjoyed the feel though, Chris thought with a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Her soft flowery perfume had drifted so gently into his nostrils. Her punches, well-aimed had carried surprising force, he was fairly sure his back was a little sore. When he had dropped her on the passenger seat of his car, he had half expected her to jump out, hit him, slap him or rain curses and on him but instead, she had gone mute; she had been mute all through the way back to the hospital.

At first, Tito had been fuming with anger. It showed in the set of her face, the tightness of her closed lips, the fisted hands propped on her laps… But as they went on, moving closer to the hospital, some of the anger seemed to dissipate as she resumed the posture she assumed on their journey from the hospital – looking out of the window.

Perfect! Chris thought again. He had chosen the perfect time to get her angry. Just when she didn’t need the extra tension, he had gone ahead to infuriate her with his alter ego. He knew if he had talked to her calmly, sensibly, made her see the folly in driving to the hospital, she might have given in to him, but what did he do instead…

They arrived the hospital without a single exchange of words. Immediately Chris pulled up in front of the hospital, it was like Tito was released from a spring. She grabbed the bag containing her father’s clothes and turned to the door, ready to flee.

Chris’ hand shot out instantly, grabbing her hand before she got the door open. “Wait” he hastened. With her back to him, Tito shot Chris a look. “Listen, I’m sorry, okay?” Chris said. “What I did was stupid, I know, but what would you have me do?” he gave a slight shrug. “You were not in the right frame of mind and you know it”

Tito slanted her head. Chris’ smile turned cocky. “Besides, I got my fair share of punishment; you were a lot heavier than I anticipated” he joked.

There was a brief awkward moment where Chris smiled at his subtle joke and Tito glared in response, not seeing the humor in his statement. With a sigh, she turned towards Chris fully. Her eyes were cold and unreadable as she looked straight into Chris’ dark eyes. “Leave my hand” her voice finally clipped icily.

Chris’ hand snapped away instantly. He did not even notice that he was still holding her. Her voice had been so cold when she spoke and he could see that she wasn’t done yet. “What are you doing?” she asked with a small frown. “We are not friend” she stated emphatically, looking into his eyes. “We are not friends, we were never friends, we would never be friends. Know why?” she raised her brow. “I hate you. I always have, always will. Now, I know you want to come in” she said with a strained smile. “Come in if you want, the hospital is a public place. But don’t pretend you are coming in for me. I don’t enjoy being lied to as much as you enjoy lying to yourself”

With that, Tito opened the door and pushed out, slamming the door.

Anger welled up in Chris as he watched Tito walk away towards the hospital building. His hand clenched around the wheel as fury burned bright in him like he had never felt before. His self-control was one thing he prided himself with but time and time again, Tito always irked him till he was almost spitting fire.

A voice of reason told him that Tito hadn’t meant what she had said, that what she was going through was making her utter words that she did not mean. But everything that was sensible told him otherwise. He had never seen eye to eye with Tito. Every time he had a cause to stay within an arm’s reach of her, they always ended up arguing over one thing or the other. By every indication, she meant everything she said and even more. And he had no idea of what he had ever done wrong.

But as he watched her walk away, he muttered something under his breath. What on earth was he still doing there? Why on earth could he not drive away? It annoyed him more that despite it all, despite the insults and that stabs on his ego, he still noticed the hesitation in her steps as she drew closer to the hospital entrance. He noticed the slight pause in her strides; he noticed the tiny veins that became visible on the slender hand holding the bag. He was drawn to her pain, he concluded. Sympathetic perhaps.

With a small oath, he turned the car around in a full circle and backed into the parking lot. I would just go in to check on Laura, Chris concluded as he pushed out of the car, marching to the entrance of the hospital. With that thought came a slight frown. It was odd that he hadn’t exactly thought of Laura for the past hour. Well, putting up with Tito leaves little room for thoughts, Chris concluded as he walked on.

***** If only an iota of what she said to Chris was true… Tito moved into the hospital thinking she was the most unfortunate idiot that ever lived. She never should have said everything she just did to Chris, and the mere fact that she did, after all he had done for her today was beyond terrible. God knew if Chris hadn’t shown up to get her out of the hospital at the time that he did, she probably would be somewhere locked up in a mental ward. Everything from the past had flashed before her, fear had paralyzed her brain. She had seen it all again – Daniel being wheeled into the hospital in a pool of blood while she raced after the stretcher, grabbing the bloody hand which was so pale and cold. The nurses had forced her back, held her back while they wheeled him away. His blood had been everywhere. On the floor, on her clothes, in her head. It took being in this hospital to see it again, like it had only happened yesterday. And if Chris hadn’t shown up and tactically got her out, she wasn’t sure of what would have happened.

He had been terrible; humiliated her beyond measure by hurling her over his shoulder, but weirdly, she had been touched by what he did. Touched that he would go that length, risk her fury all in the bid to protect her. She never should have paid his kindness with those cold words, but that was exactly what she did. And she knew why she had said those things to him. She knew why she had always been hard towards him. She knew why he was intentionally shielding him from getting too close to her. She was protecting him… protecting him from the evil that was her.

All thoughts of Chris faded as the door of the hospital opened and she pushed in. The smell assailed her senses and she tensed, closing her eyes briefly. You can do this, she told herself. The effect was not as strong since she had entered the hospital just few hours ago. The first is always the worst. Taking a deep breath, she took few steps, scanning the numerous faces for Laura. Then she froze.

Alarm bells went off in Tito’s head as she saw the scene before her. She saw Laura quite alright, but she wished she didn’t see her. She frowned deeply, taking slow steps towards the scene ahead of her. Her heart raced and she felt a familiar chill overtake her as she watched Deolu struggle with a crying and gesticulating Laura. An elderly doctor hovered over them, looking impatiently down at them through his recommended glasses. She could barely make out Laura’s words above the screaming in her head.

Tito walked like a robot towards the scene and stood before them. Laura didn’t notice her presence and Deolu was too busy trying to get Laura to calm down that he didn’t see her. Tito rolled her eyes to the doctor. She advanced towards him until they were almost eye to eye. “Take me to my father” her voice was cold and distant, almost lifeless.

The doctor regarded her oddly, almost like he thought she was mad. “What father?”

“My father! Take me to my father now” she yelled.

“Tito” Laura suddenly noticed Tito and went to her, holding her hand as she wiped at her tears. “Tito, please calm down”

“No…” Tito let out a weird broken chuckle. “I am calm. I just want to see my father, where is he?” she demanded, glaring at the doctor. “Where is my father?” she yelled, her eyes filling with tears. As the doctor opened his mouth to get a word out, Tito shook her head. “He is dead right? He is dead too, isn’t he?” tears fell from her eyes as she shook her head.

Chris touched Tito. “Tito…”

Tito whirled round, seeing Chris only barely. “I told you… God! I told you… you said he wouldn’t die; now he’s… he’s…”

“I didn’t…” the doctor began.

“Who is dead?”

Laura turned, blinking away tears. Suddenly everyone was there – Gloria, Margaret, Teju, Chris – even Jane stood just inside the hospital door, she seemed frozen in place with little Tess in her arms, too scared to move closer. “Who is dead?” Gloria demanded again, looking pale as she charged forward. “Where’s my husband?” she demanded.

“Take me to my dad now, I need to see my dad” Margaret yelled about to cry.

“Would you all shut up?” the doctor suddenly boomed glaring at the people swarming around him. “Would you let me get a word out?” he exhaled when finally, everyone seemed quiet. “No one’s dead.” That seemed to get everyone’s attention.

Laura blinked.

“They are both alive” he finally announced. “… but barely” he added. “They are both in coma. One of them might just have a chance, but the other, the one who was driving, I am sorry but, his chances of survival are very slim. Shred of glasses from the car sliced into his body and though we have successfully removed all the glasses…” he sighed. “He is in really bad shape.”

Sacrilege.

Another late post. 😢 I’d post twice Next Week also. Tuesday and Friday. The series is wrapping up. Do share and comment.
Love.

Advertisements

Sacrilege by Nissi Adeola. Episode 21

Tags

, , , ,

A really late post it is today… some things can’t be helped. Please read, comment and share. Love.

Episode 21

At first, all Tito could see was her mind’s orchestration of the accident, the wrecked bloody car the internet had so perfectly captured, the bloody bodies she knew would have been dragged out of the wreckage and into that damned hospital. All she could feel was the pain her father was in, the fear of losing yet another person who genuinely loved and cared for her…

Then suddenly, she couldn’t see it anymore, couldn’t see the demons that plagued her… she saw something different, felt something different, even smelt something different. Chris’ mouth took hers quickly, snatching her from her demons until her mind was fully installed in the moment. His lips on hers was firm but surprisingly gentle; almost like he was trying to anchor her firmly to sanity. Her hands were shocked to her sides. Her brain still hadn’t processed the significance of what was going on, not to talk of knowing how she would react to it. There was gentle tenderness in the way his hand came up her back, pulling her closer into the circle of his arms while the other hand cupped her cheek, arching her head ever so slightly upwards as he kissed her. Chris’ lips demanded a response and before she knew it, she found herself responding, answering the kiss, opening up to him as her heart thundered in her chest and her blood simmered in her veins. Her head spun, his scent filled her nostrils, driving away the stench of blood that pervaded her nostrils from memory and her mind was reprogramed until she couldn’t think about anything other than this kiss. But as quickly as it had begun, just when her hands moved to touch his muscular shoulders, Chris ended the kiss.

Tito’s eyes snapped open and they stared straight into Chris’ probing eyes. Her breath came out unevenly. she felt shaken to the core and it angered her that Chris looked as unruffled as ever. How dare he? Chris probed into her with his eyes. Something flashed Chris’ eyes for a second, then, it was gone, giving way to concern. “You okay?” The hand at her waist squeezed slightly, sending warning signs into Tito’s brain as Chris thumb fingered away the tear Tito didn’t know was on her face.

She blinked. “Let go of me!” she snapped, stumbling backwards and out of his arms. How had she let this happen? Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Lukman staring at them, both in amusement and in confusion. “What do you think you are doing?” she rubbed the back of her hand against her mouth as anger flashed in her eyes. If only it would wipe away the kiss that still tingled her lips.

Chris saw the gesture and his eyes narrowed. Now this was the part of Tito he was well accustomed to. Comparing both, he thought he’d pick angry Tito over emotional Tito anytime any day. He shrugged. “You were having a moment”

“My father is in the hospital and all you can think about is how you can get me into your bed?”

“What? No! That’s not what this was about and you know it” Chris snapped. His expression showed just how absurd he thought her statement was. He couldn’t believe she would even think that.

“Oh… And what was this then?”

Chris released a breath. “C’mon. It’s not that deep, Tito. It’s just a kiss”

Tito blinked. “Just a…” she paused and let out a strained chuckle. “Of course. What else would it be?” She turned and marched towards the apartment ahead. She jammed her hand into her purse to extract her keys. She still thankfully had the keys to her father’s apartment. Opening it, she marched inside and made straight for her father’s bedroom. Fear might have ruled her just a moment ago, but now; anger had every part of her being. It possessed every muscle in her body. Her father should occupy her every thoughts. Even if the thought of her father was slowly pulling her towards insanity, he deserved to be in her thoughts. How dare Chris bot into her thoughts? How dare he kiss her? Fuming, it took her only few minutes to grab the few clothes she felt was needed before she made out.

Chris was waiting outside the apartment. He could not understand what Tito was so mad about. He had only been trying to help. So, why was she being so bitchy? His jaws were clenched and his eyes had grown darker. If his schooled features weren’t any indication, the hands jammed into his pockets told Tito beyond words that he was very angry. Well, that makes two of us, Tito thought, because she was extremely angry. Not just at him but at herself; maybe even more at herself and she knew why… How could she not? And what should he be angry at anyways? She was the only one who had the right to be angry here.

She locked the door and walked past Chris towards her father’s car. “You can go, I’d get to the hospital on my own” she said over her shoulder in a nonchalant fashion, holding out her father’s car keys and pressing the unlock button.

Chris stormed towards her. He released a savage oath under her breath that Tito didn’t catch. “I certainly am not leaving you to drive.” He grabbed her elbow, whirling her around to face him.

“Listen, I have been driving myself for years without an itch, okay? I don’t need you to be my watchdog” she muttered her chin up; as she matched him stare for stare, anger for anger.

“Yeah? And when you sight the hospital and panic? I am not about to let you drive yourself to death, Tito. Now, if I have to carry you over to the car and strap you to the seat, that’s exactly what I’d do.”

Tito’s mouth fell dry as she squeezed the back of clothes she had in her hand. She tipped her chin, returning his furious glare with her own. “You wouldn’t dare”

Something flashed in his eyes as a dry smile touched his mouth. “Very well” Chris bent in a flash and before Tito could think of his intent, he had her in the air, hanging over his shoulder like a bag of cement. She let out a shriek as she hung, bent in half, buttocks in the air, head bent over till she had an eyeful of his muscled back and buttocks. She tried not to think of humiliating fact that the hand holding the bag was resting on his butt. She had never felt worse indignation. If she had thought Chris had done the absolute worst by kissing her, he definitely had more surprises in store. Right now, she knew if she had a gun, she would fire a short straight into Chris’ heart without a blink. She pounded on Chris’ back with her free hand in fury, her soft hand, connecting with his hard back. Tears stung her eyes as Chris marched out of the compound, while Lukman got an eyeful of her humiliation.

***** Gloria took cautious steps into the doctor’s office and closed the door. The sight of her daughter created this deep feeling within her that she could not explain. It was so unfamiliar. Her eyes rotated from Doctor Hassan to her newly found daughter who wiped away tears from her eyes. She knew instinctively that there was something going on between the doctor and her Tinuke but now was surely not the time to ask. Doctor Hassan looked a bit unsettled as he moved and went round the table to his seat. Her daughter, on the other hand, looked pissed. “I’m sorry about that, ma’am” Doctor Hassan was saying but she merely nodded, staring at her daughter.

“Are you okay, Tinuke?” she muttered.

Teju nearly groaned. What on earth was she doing here again? “Fine” she snapped. “Listen, I am not Tinuke, okay? Can you stop calling me that?”

“I’m sorry” Gloria said automatically.

“Tinuke?” Hassan frowned in confusion.

“She is delusional” she muttered.

Hassan frowned at Teju. “Really, Teju” he was obviously wondering where her respect had gone to.

Gloria understood and smiled. “I deserve that”

Teju scowled, not taking her eyes off Gloria. Just when she came to accept her problems, she didn’t want to think of the fact that she had more in stock for her. Even if Mrs. Aderigbe confirmed it, she was not about to accept it. How could she accept that Gloria was her mother? That Laura was her step sister, or worse, that Frank Johnson was her step father? It was just too terrible to imagine. “What are you doing here? You’re stalking me now?”

Gloria swallowed. “No. I… I’m here for my daughter… Stepdaughter” she corrected.

Hassan stared from Teju to Gloria and decided to leave his questions for later. “Margaret?”

Gloria shifted her eyes from Teju’s slowly, gazing at the doctor. She nodded. “You need to discharge her”

“She isn’t fit to leave now”

“She doesn’t care, and frankly, I’m also tired of caring. Her father just had an accident and Margaret won’t rest till she sees him”

Teju frowned. “Mr. Johnson was in an accident?” She gasped out.

Gloria tried to keep her emotions in check. She was trying to be strong for all the kids looking up to her for emotional support but frankly, she was drained. The day had brought on too many blows. “The two Johnsons” She managed.

Teju felt her heart slam in her chest. “With… with Tito’s father?” Her hands shook. “Oh my God” Teju sank into a seat. She couldn’t understand what was happening anymore. Her eyes watered as she stared at Gloria. “Are they…” she couldn’t bear to finish her statement.

Gloria swallowed. “I… I don’t know”. The thought of any one of the twins being dead was too unbearable for her. There was so much mystery surrounding Teju. If Gloria hadn’t been sure, Teju’s reaction now told her that there was something between her and the Johnson twins.

Teju shot to her feet. “I’m coming with you to the hospital. I have to see Tito’s father”

Margaret nodded. She looked at the doctor until he reluctantly shrugged, probably realizing the futility in arguing. He pulled out a sheet of paper, scribbling some things to grant Margaret’s discharge before giving the paper to Gloria. “Give this to one of the nurses” he said to her. He sent Teju a look rife with meaning. “Be careful” he said.

Teju nodded. Gloria noted the exchange as she turned, hastening out of the office with Teju following her closely.

*****

Deolu sat on the uncomfortable hospital wooden bench, his arm was arched around Laura’s shoulder as he caressed her hair. She poured over the things she had found out about Mark Johnson and Frank Johnson. The gory details sounded so terrible and he could understand why Laura had been so upset when he had found her, running herself to exhaustion in the dead of the night. He felt her pain. Even as she spoke, her tears making a wet patch on his shirt, he wished he would take away the pain that was ravaging her. He wished he could have been there to hold her when Mark told her those things. But when she mentioned Teju and Laura told him of how Mark hadn’t exactly denied or accepted the fact that he had raped Teju, Deolu tensed. His arm tightened around her. He heard her unspoken words. He heard the thought that must be ravaging her mind. The thought that the child Teju was carrying was actually not his.

Now was not the time to tell her of what he had just found out. It wasn’t the time to tell her that Teju insisted the child was his. It was certainly not the time to tell her that his mother had orchestrated it all. He still felt like a fool for falling so cheaply into their trap. One thing still puzzled Deolu. He couldn’t believe he had been so wrong about Teju all along. He had known her for probably as long as he had known himself. How could she have hidden this part of her for so long? Also, her reaction when she had more or less driven them out of her house still puzzled him. She had looked scared, betrayed, and even… in pain.

Laura raised her head from Deolu’s chest. Her eyes were red. “I told him I hated him” she said, amidst tears. “I don’t… God knows I can’t. Despite it all, I still love him very much”

Deolu wiped her tears, it was disconcerting seeing it. “He knows that”

“What if he doesn’t?” Laura pushed slightly away from Deolu’s arms, feeling restless. “What if he is on that hospital bed thinking I hate him? I even called him a monster. Oh God!”

Deolu captured Laura’s face between his two palms, holding her gaze with his. “Laura, stop. Listen to me” and he hoped his eyes held more reassurance than he felt. “You have to stop tormenting yourself, love. You said those things in a fit of anger. He knows you didn’t mean it.” He said. “He would have seen past your words to the eyes which carries the true feelings of the heart”

Laura blinked, sending tears rolling down. “And my dad?” she asked as her mouth shook. “And Frank? I always told him I despised him. It was always there in my actions, in my words…” she pushed to her feet. “It certainly was all he saw in my eyes” she bit her lips. “He surely doesn’t doubt what I feel for him, does he?”

Deolu stood and pulled Laura into his arms, hugging her tight. He raised her head with his finger and planted a small kiss on her lips. “You would have enough time to show him just how much you love him” he reassured.

Laura nodded. There was something about having Deolu’s arms around her, having his scent envelope her like a glove. It made her feel safe; feel protected; like everything could be alright with the world. It was one of the reasons why she had fled the house that night after Teju crashed her happiness.

A doctor approached and Deolu’s heart slammed against his ribs. He dreaded the news they were about to receive. His arms tightened protectively around Laura, wanting to shield her from what was to come. Laura felt the tension in Deolu’s body. Felt how rigid he had suddenly become. It was almost she was being held by a rock. She lifted her eyes to his but her eyes caught the white uniform approaching and she snapped straights. All colour left her face as she tried to pry herself from Deolu’s grip.

“Doctor” she forced in a pitched tone. She pushed against his hand until Deolu let her go, holding her hand in a viselike grip as he moved with her to meet the doctor. “How are they, doctor?” tears shone in Laura’s eyes as they got to the doctor.

“The twin accident victims” Deolu explained.

The doctor frowned at them. “And you are?”

“In-law. She is their daughter” Deolu answered.

“Daughter” Laura seconded as she moved restlessly on a spot. Her heart was racing so fast, she was sure she would have a panic attack any minute now. “I am their daughter, sir… please, how are they?”

The doctor frowned, not understanding what she meant by ‘their daughter’, then he seemed to dismiss it. He looked indifferent as he stared at Deolu and Laura. “Is there any older relative you can call?”

Laura paled. “No… not that line, no!” She had heard that line so many times in movies, enough times to know that statement was a prelude to terrible news.

“Calm down. Laura” Deolu was having a hard time holding Laura firmly in place. He tried not to glare at the doctor. “Please tell us how they are sir”

The doctor saw the tension and sighed. His shoulders seemed to slump as he opened his mouth. “We tried our best… but

“But what?” Laura’s eyes were as large as saucers.

The doctor took a deep breath. “I am sorry…”

“No!” Laura’s eyes widened as tears fell from her eyes.

“Laura, please…” Deolu tried to hold Laura closer but she shrank back.

“Don’t be sorry… please don’t…” she sobbed, horror written all over her.

Sacrilege.

See you on Thursday 4pm.

Sacrilege by Nissi Adeola. Episode 20

Tags

, , , ,

Episode 20

Laura hugged herself tighter. Tears blinded her eyes, pain clouded her heart. She paced, unable to remain still as she waited for somebody… anybody… to tell her something. Where were the doctors? All the nurses and even doctors that came around either had no info or just didn’t care. Would someone just tell her something? God! She hated LUTH. There was just too much pain. She looked round. What was taking Gloria so long? Gloria shouldn’t have to deal with so much on the day she just found her daughter but it had been one thing after another. Gloria had to rush over to the hospital admitting Margaret, since Margaret wouldn’t stay still, screaming ‘discharge’ ever since she heard of her father’s accident. Jane had gone out with Tess to get her something to eat, hopefully, that would stop the child’s incessant tears. And Laura? Laura was left to stand alone in the crowded waiting room, waiting. A thought came to her and she shook her head in an attempt to shake off the thought. No! She wouldn’t think of the worst. She couldn’t afford to. God knows she might die if anything happened to Mark or Frank. She tried hard not to remember the previous night. She tried hard not to remember the anguish in Mark’s eyes as he opened up a part of himself she had never seen. She tried hard not to remember the harsh hurtful words she had said to him and the pain in his eyes as she had told him that she hated him. By God, she did not want to assume those words would be the last words Mark would hear from her lips. Because despite it all, she did love him. Despite everything she heard and the terrible hurt feelings she had, she loved Mark dearly. Even when she had thought he was just her uncle, he had been everything to her. She couldn’t imagine what life would have been like for her after her mother died if Mark hadn’t been there to hold her strong. Or Frank? She had just found out what happened to him. She needed the chance to seek his forgiveness for all the wrongs she unknowingly committed against him. She needed the chance to show him the love that was snatched from him because of a silly mistake. But now…

Her lips shook and she took her hand to her mouth, biting hard on her fingernail as tears clouded her eyes. Darn it! She didn’t want to think these thoughts! She had been trying not to think. Trying her darnest to remain sane. To remove all thoughts from her brain and be the positive one, the optimistic one… but those thoughts just kept sneaking behind her defenses, clouding her mind until all she felt was liquid dread flowing through her veins. She had seen the car; it was a complete wreck. Being identical twins, no one could identify which was Mark or which was Frank but the person with the slimmest chance of survival was the person driving. The oncoming bus which developed brake failure had left its lane and rammed it on the car, the major impact on the driver’s side. And Laura had identified the car; it was wrecked version of Frank’s car. The only logical conclusion would be that Frank was the person driving. All her life, she had disliked him, even though she hated him, but now, she couldn’t bear the thought of anything happening to him. Frank totally deserved a measure of happiness in his life. Every second that went by without news shattered her, increased her panic level until she felt she might come down with heart attack.

Laura wished Tito didn’t have to go. If only Tito’s past wasn’t so related to the present, she would be here. They could cry together, hold each other, and be scared together… anything, just anything that didn’t have her waiting all alone in the midst of unfamiliar people. She needed someone to hold her.

Laura looked towards the entrance of the hospital, hoping Jane would come back in with Tess. She could hold them both and whisper to them that everything would be alright, maybe with that, she would come to believe it. Maybe by taking care of others, her brain would be more focused on their feelings instead of thoughts of eventuality. But she suspected Jane was also staying longer than necessary purposely because she was also scared. The fear of losing someone wasn’t something even Jane’s witty self could handle. She felt for her sister. She was still too young to experience the pain of losing a parent. Acting as a substitute mother, Laura made sure Jane never felt the absence of her mother since Jane was only weeks old when their mother died. But Laura still remembered the pain she had felt when her mother had died and she couldn’t stand to lose two of her fathers at once. She might just die.

She blinked, sending her tears running down her cheeks and before she could lift her hand to dash them away, a warm hand came up her cheek. She blinked and then, he was there. Laura looked up at the deep concern in the face of the one person her heart had been craving for. While her mind had calculatedly expected to see Gloria, Jane, Tess or even Margaret, her heart had subtly craved to see the one person that could whisper words that she’d find herself believing. Her heart craved for those strong hands that could hold her secure and hold all her fears at bay. “Deolu” Laura gasped.

Adeolu’s thumbs wiped at her tears as he cradled her face between his large palms. Then Laura broke down… she couldn’t tell if it was the deep worry etched on Deolu’s face, the accumulated fear that she held in check, or the bone-deep relief she felt at seeing Deolu… she just couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. “Oh Ad” she managed to gasp as Deolu pulled her into his arms, holding her shivering form tight against him as he cradled her head against his chest. “I’m scared Ad, I’m so scared” her voice shook as she spoke amidst her tears.

Deolu kissed the top of her head, holding her even tighter. He breathed in the scent of her hair, letting it wash over him. The tension he felt running through her body gnawed at him. He hated seeing her in pain, hated seeing her in tears, but it seems like that was all she was getting lately. “Shshshsh” he whispered into her hair. “It would be fine. They would be fine”

Laura had repeated those words to herself over and over. She had said them internally, she had said them aloud. But only now, hearing them from Deolu’s lips could she bring herself to believe them. Though they still had unsettled issues, he was definitely what she needed now. Relaxing fully into his embrace, she allowed his heat and distinctive scent wash over her fears.

***** Chris parked outside Mark Johnson’s house and Tito was out of the car even before he had killed the engine. He hastened up to catch up with her but she was at the gate before him and she gave it a not-so-gentle bang. Chris saw the sense of urgency that ruled her now. No doubt, she was worried that something had cropped up in the hospital. She was so tense. It annoyed and frustrated him that he could do next to nothing to ease her pain. Helplessness was not a state he handled well.

Tito knocked again, barely seconds after the first. The voice of the gateman came out pissed as he yanked the door open. His facial expression changed as he saw who was at the gate. “Ah… Aunty Tito, welcome” he glanced at Chris with interest. “Oga” he inclined his head at Chris in greeting and Chris gave him a small smile. “Oga no dey house o”

“Of course, he isn’t” Tito snapped. She pushed into the compound before Lukman could finish his speech. “Where were you when he left the house? And how come he did not take his car?” she still could not understand how her dad ended up in Frank’s car.

Lukman frowned at her. “Na Oga second come here o. after they don shout shout for inside finish, them come outside. Oga collect car key for the second hand, talk say na hin wan drive”

Tito blanched. For a full minute, she stared at the gateman as his words replayed in his head. “Who drove?” she managed to gasp as her heart thundered.

“Na oga”

Tito shook her head. “No” she gasped. She wished she hadn’t gone online on her way to the hospital. She wished she hadn’t seen the level of damage done to the driver’s side. Her head banged as she hit Lukman. “Why did you let him drive? Why did you?” she yelled as she hit the gateman with her hands.

“Tito” Chris grabbed her, trying to calm her but she kept wiggling. Lukman staggered back, totally confused. “Tito please, calm down”

Tito whirled round. “He’s going to die” her voice shook.

“Die?” Lukman echoed in confusion.

Chris shook Tito firmly. “No, don’t say that”

There were tears in her eyes now and she made no attempt to stop them as they tumbled down. She stared intently at Chris, not seeing him but seeing Frank’s wrecked car. “He’s going to die, Chris” She had thought Frank was the one driving, since it was his car. But while she didn’t want Frank to die, she had been a bit hopeful since the damage was not as much on the passenger’s side. If only she knew. Tito grabbed her head. This could not be happening again. She might go crazy… heck, she was already going crazy.

Chris pulled her against him, holding her against his chest but she couldn’t stay still. She babbled on and on, couldn’t seem to stop. Unable to stand it anymore, Chris bent to do the only thing he knew could silence her. Covering her mouth with his, he kissed her.

***** Teju knocked softly on the door to the doctor’s office and heard a gentle ‘come in’. She opened and went in. The young doctor smiled at her, his eyes showing concern and affection. “Teju” he said in greeting. “I wasn’t expecting you today”

Teju smiled as she sat. “You look happy to see me, Hassan”

Doctor Hassan’s smile became cocky. “You are a pleasure to behold”

“Doctor flirt”

Hassan winked at her but his eyes remained on her, studying her. “Something’s wrong” he stated.

Teju nodded and swallowed, looking away from his all-knowing gaze. “I… I had to take my drugs twice today” she said, staring back at him. “I just want to be sure it won’t affect anything”

Doctor Hassan was silent for a few minutes. “What happened?”

Teju swallowed. “I used it in the morning and then…” she remembered the episode that took place not so long ago and swallowed. “…something happened and the pain came back, I had to take another”

Doctor Hassan leaned forward, rubbing the fingers of one hand lightly on his temple as he stared at Teju. “This isn’t good, Teju”

Teju released a shaky breath. “I know! I know it isn’t good, I just want to know if it won’t affect my baby”

“No, you don’t know” doctor Hassan’s voice came out harder. “This is dangerous, Teju. Every day you keep up with this makes it more dangerous for you and you know it”

Teju swallowed. She knew he wasn’t talking about the drugs. “Please don’t go over this again”

Hassan pushed out of his chair, went around the table and perched on it, before her, staring down at her. “I understand why you want to do this” Teju shook her head at his words. “But please, you have to think about yourself, Teju. The longer you postpone chemo, the harder it becomes”

“So what? You want me to kill my child with chemotherapy?” she surged out of the chair. “I knew I was down with Leukemia before I got pregnant. I chose this. Stop trying to talk me out of it” she blinked back tears. “Even with chemotherapy, I am still going to die anyways”

“That’s not true”

A sorrowful smile touched Teju’s face. “You know, it is. You know” she swallowed. “I can’t. I’d rather not go through that pain. This is the only way I get to be happy, Hassan… even if it is just for a short while”

Hassan stared at her for a while before looking away. His pain was obvious. Teju blinked back tears. She had found out she had Leukemia some months back. The news had darn near killed her. She had tried to tell Deolu on several occasions but she hadn’t been able to. She couldn’t stand him being in pain on her behalf, or worse, having to endure the pity people would definitely throw at her. Then, Mrs. Aderigbe had come with the proposal of bearing a child for Deolu. It had seemed like a terrible idea at first until she thought of it. She wanted a baby. She wanted an extension of herself to still draw breath even if she had to die in the process. And she knew. She knew Deolu and Laura would take care of her child. They would love and cherish him or her. Then she had agreed. And though she had known that she would have to endure their hate, it was still better… a whole lot better than pity.

“Okay” Hassan finally breathed, standing straighter. “Come here. Let me hold you for a minute”

Teju gave a weak smile as she went into Hassan’s arms. He had been a loyal friend for a while and since she discovered her ailment, she had come to confide and rely on him for many things. Female instinct told her that he had feelings for her. But she wouldn’t hurt him. He didn’t deserve to be with someone who was one foot in the grave. She held him tighter, feeling her lips tremble. It felt good to be held. It’s been so long she’d been sincerely hugged by someone who cared. It felt so good, she wanted to cry.

Neither of them heard the knock on the door above the thoughts rampaging their minds, but as the door creaked open, they broke apart when Teju heard a vaguely familiar voice.

“Doctor Hassan” Gloria’s voice called as she peaked into the office. She frowned as the woman with Doctor Hassan pulled back and she saw her face. Her Atinuke. “Teju?”

Sacrilege.