It was late afternoon when Julie walked through the luxurious lounge of Dotse Capitals.
Most of the top executives were present, and so were members of the Board of Directors.
These were men and women who had been made rich by Mr. Blessed Dotse, and who in various forms had abandoned Julie the moment it was announced that ownership was vested in Sandra and Abednego.
These were people she had respected and loved, people she had thought would stand beside her and fight for her, but they had abandoned her in the hospital, and left her to her fate.
However, as she walked toward the receptionist’s desk, she didn’t feel bitter about them.
A few days ago she would have been mad, and harboured ill-feelings against them, but not now, no. Meeting that strange man and being given a blast of new life had changed her perspective of a lot of things.
They stared at her, though. They were amazed she was walking again, and looking so healthy and happy!
They had all been told that her condition – paraplegia – was permanent, and that she would never walk again.
But here she was, swaying along as beautiful as ever, and it blew into their conscience, and they avoided her eyes.
The receptionist smiled at her with something like guilt deep in her eyes.
“Oh, Miss Julie, how’re you doing?” she asked with forced brightness. “Oh, good to see you walking again. We heard terrible news about you. Hmm, sorry I couldn’t come to the hospital to see you. So much happening here.”
“That’s alright, Suzy,” Julie said with a smile. “Is Mr. Dapaah here? He told me he was on his way here.”
“Mr. Akwasi Dapaah?” Suzy asked, evidently shocked.
They all knew just how much Julie had hated him.
“Yes, him,” Julie said.
“Oh, yes, yes, erm, he’s in the upstairs lounge. He told me to inform him when Mr. Opoku Agyeman arrives.”
“Thank you, Suzy,” Julie said and turned away, heading for the bank of elevators across the lounge.
She rode the elevator to the fifth floor, where the upstairs lounge was. Her heart was beating as she neared the door.
Who would’ve thought a day would come when she would be so excited to see Akwasi Dapaah, and to feel his arms around her?
But here she was, all breathless and weak-kneed because she was about to see this one man who had changed her life around, and made her fall so much in love with him.
She giggled as she opened the door and entered the air-conditioned room. She came to a halt when she saw that it was deserted, and her heart fell.
With a forlorn sigh she moved toward the beautiful aquarium against the far wall and stood looking at the exotic fishes.
She fished her phone out of her bag and was about to call Akwasi when the door opened behind her. Julie turned with a radiant smile on her face, and then she stopped smiling because it wasn’t Akwasi.
It was a crushed-looking Jacob Acquah.
He was wearing dark slacks and a white shirt that looked crumpled. He had taken off his coat and his tie, and his eyes were desperate orbs of remorse as he looked at her.
“Oh, Julie!” he cried, and then he walked quickly toward her. “So it was you! I thought I saw you entering! Oh, Julie, my love!”
Julie stood still, gazing at him with sudden trepidation.
His haughtiness was gone, and so was his confidence. He cut a very pathetic picture as he walked lethargically toward her.
He stopped, his eyes filled with distress, his face an epitome of remorse.
“Julie, my love, my darling!” he whispered, and then he began to sink slowly to his knees in front of her, and for the first time that she knew him she saw tears in the eyes of Jacob Acquah. “I have no excuse, my love. I have nowhere to hide. Yes, I did you wrong. I hurt you, Julie, and I don’t deserve to even touch your toe.”
Julie took a step back from him.
“Jake, please, don’t do this to me!” she said miserably.
He reached out and took her hands, his face filled with desperation.
“I hurt you because I was afraid, because I was a coward!” he cried. “I couldn’t stand with you, my love. I chose comfort and money over you, thinking Sandra will drive me away from this place too! But we hear it all belongs to Mr. Opoku Agyeman, and so she has no power over me, over us! Julie, my love, please forgive me! Find it in your heart to forgive me! Accept me back! I still love you, I always will! If you give me a chance, we’ll get married today, tomorrow, anytime you want!”
Julie bit her lower lip.
Her expression was frantic.
“My life has changed, Jake,” she said softly. “I’ve met Christ, and I met Akwasi. I am so confused!”
“Julie, Julie, listen to me!” he cried desperately. “I love you, Julie! And I know you love me! I’m the only one for you! Let’s forget about everybody! I’ve bought new rings, let’s get married! Let me show you just how much I love you!”
“But you were ready to let me go to prison!” she cried bitterly as tears came to her eyes. “You stole that money and blamed me for it!”
“Yes, yes, I stole it, Julie, yes, I transferred it into my personal Swiss Account, but I was a fool, and I see my greediness now!” Jacob cried earnestly. “I’ll transfer it back, this instant! I set it all up, and I have it in my Swiss Account! To prove my sincerity to you, let me transfer it back right now, my love! It will set you free! And we’ll get married!”
“You did it with that bank manager, didn’t you, Jake?” she asked tremulously. “How could you betray me like that? How could you let me go through this torture when you know you’re the only man I’ll ever love?”
“I colluded with him, yes, Julie,” he cried desperately. “It was more of his idea than mine! But I have all the details right there on my computer. Come with me and let me transfer the money back. Only promise you love me! Only promise you’ll stay with me!”
He put his arms around her, and pressed his face into her thighs.
“Oh, Jake!” she whispered quaveringly. “Of course I love you. I’ll never stop loving you! You’re the only man for me. Yes, let’s go and transfer the money back. I’ll tell Mr. Opoku Agyeman that the money is back, and that he should forgive me…and then we’ll get married, my love! You don’t know just how happy you’ve made me, Jake!”
“Oh, Julie, thank you, thank you, my love!” he said and got to his feet. “So sorry for taking that money! I’ll send it back. Let’s go to my office and do that right now! Thank you, my love! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me too! Oh, Julie! I’ve missed you so much, so much!”
He swept her into his arms, and his lips descended on hers.
He kissed her, slowly and tenderly, and then the door of the Lounge Washroom slid open, and Akwasi Dapaah came out.
Julie knew, when she heard the swishing sound of the sliding door, that Akwasi had come in. She moved back desperately from Jake, and swivelled round…and yes, there he was!
The look of sheer pain on his face cut through her like a hot knife through butter!
He was dressed in dark-blue trousers and sky-blue shirt, with a matching tie. Without a word he picked up his coat which was draped along the back of one of the chairs and slowly slipped it on.
And when he looked up at her, she saw the tears glittering in his eyes.
“You’ve hurt me,” he said simply, and then he turned away from her.
_“Akwasi, no!”_ Julie shouted and made to go to him, but Jacob held her arm fast and pulled her back.
“Let him go, Julie!” Jacob said sharply, his face strained and wild. “He knows he can’t hold on to you! He knows we love each other, and nothing can separate us!”
“Akwasi, no, no, please wait!” Julie shouted in anguish. “Not like this! Listen to me, please, let me explain! Akwasi, please wait!”
She struggled hard, and pushed Jacob away from her, and then she ran desperately toward Akwasi Dapaah.
He was reaching out to open the door when she pushed the door shut and stood firmly in front of him.
He could not look at her.
She noticed how hard he had clenched his teeth, and noticed the veins standing out angrily on his neck, and knew that he was hurting horribly inside and trying desperately not to let it show.
“Look at me, Akwasi, please!” Julie said as her tears fell slowly down her face. “Please, for the love of God, don’t do this to me! Listen to me! I don’t want us to part as enemies, Akwasi! Please, let me talk to you! Hear me out!”
“Move away, Ohenewaa!” he said softly, hardly above a whisper. “You want him, keep him. Just move away!”
“Akwasi!” she cried quaveringly. “Five minutes is all I ask! Just hear me out, listen to me!”
He looked at her, and when a single tear rolled down his face he wiped it away violently and angrily.
“I heard enough, Ohenewaa, and I won’t shed a single tear over you!” he grated out, and then he pushed her away, opened the door, and walked out.
Julie watched him go, and her tears fell unrestrained.
Jacob came up behind her, and slipped his arms around her from behind.
“It is okay, my love, it is okay,” he whispered. “True love wins, every time. He’ll get over it, because he knows our love is real.”
She nodded miserably.
“Yes, my love,” she whispered. “Let’s go and transfer that money back, and then we’ll live in happiness. You’re right, he’ll have to live with the fact that I love you, and I’ll always love you. You’re the only man for me, Jake.”
But her heart was in anguish as her poor heart ached painfully!
Akwasi, please forgive me, forgive me, my love…
To be continued