Effe stares after Eyram’s car, and then she sighs heavily.
She had believed Baaba, and she had been mean to Chris the previous day!
He had spent two nights in cell ever since he came out, all because she had been directly and indirectly involved!
Does she really hate him that much? If indeed she does, why hasn’t she still been able to tell Steve and her family that Chris has finally signed the divorce papers?
Why isn’t she overjoyed? Why can’t she forget all about him and throw herself into her long-overdue wedding preparations?
And why is she bothered that her own sister is helping the only man who had ever set her heart ablaze?
Why is she feeling jittery all of a sudden?
Why is the fact that Junior is so happy with Chris and Eyram – and the fact that he has left with them – bothering her so much?
Why is there a little thud of dislike in her heart for her own sister now?
Is it because of the look of sudden gratitude she has seen in Chris’ eyes when Eyram offered him a place to stay?
Effe is comfortable. She is wealthy because she is a very good lawyer with a long chain of clients.
She is now a senior partner of the firm she works for, and handles both local and foreign cases.
She could have helped Chris, even if solely for the sake of Junior, but she hasn’t.
So why is she detesting Eyram, in a way, for helping Chris?
The Boys Quarters is quite apart from Eyram’s bungalow, and yes, it is very close to Effe’s residence. Junior can be near his father, and he can be happy.
It should be a perfect arrangement, but suddenly Effe finds herself going through a whole myriad of conflicting feelings.
She knows that her sudden resentment has started when she saw Chris and Eyram in that very close embrace.
She has never seen anything like that before. Chris has always steered clear of Eyram, and although they had been very close, there had been instances in the past when Chris had deliberately avoided Eyram’s company.
But that hug!
It has really rattled Effe.
Chris Bawa! Don’t you dare do this to me again! Please, for the love of God, don’t!
She walks slowly out of the parking lot to where she has parked her BMW X6.
The Eden Residential Hub, known as the ERH, is a sprawling beauty.
Eden Hospital, considered as one of the biggest and best hospitals in the world, takes very good care of its doctors.
The ERH is more beautiful than many of the luxurious community residences. It has many entry gates manned by armed security men.
The bungalows are well-demarcated, and ranged from simple but beautiful one-bedroom blocks to fully-detached five bedrooms and Boys’ Quarters.
Eyram’s compound reeks of serenity from its splendid green lawn, hedge-bordered driveway, swimming pool and a parking lot.
The building itself is a four-bedroom beauty, with its two-bedroom detached Boys Quarters. A small garden with royal palms separates the two buildings.
After parking the car, Eyram takes Chris and Junior straight to the Boys Quarters.
Effe follows at a more leisurely pace, and when she finally catches up with them she finds Chris and Junior chatting in the kitchen whilst Eyram leans against the wall and regards them.
I took the liberty of stocking the kitchen, Chris. Should I prepare something fast for you? You must be hungry.
Junior, quite elated and active, is trying to wrestle Chris to the floor.
His father catches him, lifts him up and holds him close to his chest. Junior folds his arms around his father’s neck and puts his head on his broad shoulder.
(smiling at Eyram)
Don’t worry. I’ll fix something for myself. Thanks anyway.
At his words Effe’s eyes widen with disbelief, and so does Eyram’s.
It is no secret that Chris hates cooking very much!
When he had been married to Effe he had always fled from the kitchen.
Are you kidding me, Chris? Don’t worry, I’ll fix you something fast.
It’s okay. I’ll just cook some noodles.
Ewwwww! I hate noodles, Daddy! Something else, something else!
Chris laughs softy in his deep voice, that reverberating masculine bass that Effe used to love so much.
First a shower. I really need a shower. And then I’ll fix you noodles, Champ, and believe me, you’ll love it!
(laughing with happiness)
No, no, no, Daddy! Mom says you used to cook horrible food, and secondly I don’t like noodles! I think I’m going to vomit this afternoon!
They both laugh, father and son, looking so happy, so alike, so alive, that Effe and Eyram exchange startled looks, and for a very brief moment a look of poignant longing crosses Effe’s beautiful face.
Just for a moment her heart reaches out for such a setting: her, Chris and their son, together and happy, but then memories came flooding back to her, memories of Chris’ body on top of Elaine, making love to her, raping her.
Effe turns away painfully, and closes her eyes.
Junior, I’m going to Rammy’s place. Your father wants to take a bath. Coming with me?
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I’m staying here with Daddy.
An angry look enters Effe’s eyes for a moment, and she almost snaps at her son, but she shakes her head instead and steps outside.
Eyram follows her, but stops and looks at Chris.
Oh, there are a couple or so of jeans in the wardrobe, Chris, and some shirts and T-shirts. Hope they fit. I bought them for you.
Both Chris and Junior look at her. Chris moves towards her, and Junior frowns darkly.
Aunty Rammy, you’re doing too much for Daddy. Do you love him? I want him and Mommy to be together.
Chris and Eyram stare at each other, startled.
Your aunty is a good woman, Champ. She’s being kind, ok? Thank you, Eyram. I’m really indebted to you.
Eyram nods, tries to speak, takes a look at Junior, and then she quickly drops her eyes and follow Effe outside.
She finds Effe standing under a royal palm, hands clenching and unclenching in an agitated way.
You still love him, don’t you?
Who, Chris? Of course not! I can never forgive him for what he did to me. Never. It is Junior I’m concerned about. He loves his father so much, and yet I’m afraid Chris is going to hurt him again.
Chris loves his son, Effe. You need to trust him, at least where Junior is concerned. It seems you’re highly strung-up, Ef, why?
Effe sighs and leans her back against the royal palm tree.
It’s Junior, Rammy. Suddenly, it’s all about his father, and I must admit it hurts me a little.
Eyram places a hand on her sister’s shoulder.
He loves you, Ef, you know he does. It’s just that his father has been away for a long time, and he misses him. You know they were inseparable even when Junior was just a tot. You shouldn’t be jealous. It is a natural bonding.
I know, Rammy, I know. Just that it complicates things a bit, doesn’t it? Junior has never taken to Steve. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’ve waited so long to tie the knot with Steve. If only my son could get comfortable with Steve, I would’ve been Mrs. Hollison by now.
Now that Chris is back, I’m sure Junior will be a bit more relaxed and accommodating of Steve, and you can get married.
Effe gives a shuddering breath, smiles and hugs her sister.
They begin to walk towards the main house, and when they get to the front they see that a black Mercedes Benz has turned into the driveway.
The sisters pause and look at the approaching car.
Oh-oh! Love bug!
Eyram chuckles and pokes an elbow into her sister’s side.
The Mercedes comes to a halt. The driver’s door opens, and Rupert Henderson gets out.
He is dressed in an impeccable black suit, and looks quite handsome.
He lives in his bungalow down the incline, a short distance from Eyram’s place.
He comes forward with a gentle smile on his face.
He stops in front of them.
I just heard on the news that the lady lied about being assaulted, Eyram. On my way to the office, but I saw your cars and decided to stop over and apologize for setting the cops on Chris at the hospital.
That’s quite alright, Rupe.
It’s okay, Rupert. I guess we all took quite a hard stance. Only Rammy had a different mind.
Thank you very much, both of you. And whenever you see that man again tell him I’m sorry, okay? I feel quite embarrassed for coming down so hard on him.
Actually, he’s here. He’s in the Boys Quarters. He would be staying here for a while.
Oh, really? Then I can personally apologize to him. I don’t think I welcomed him well yesterday.
Yeah, yeah. But come inside first, Rupe. Have you had breakfast yet?
No, no. Thought I’ll grab a coffee at the canteen later.
Then wait. Let me slip into something more official, and then I’ll prepare us some breakfast.
Rupert looks deeply into Eyram’s eyes, and there is both warmth and admiration in his look.
It makes Effe clear her throat meaningfully, and they all laugh.
Okay, Eyram. I’ll wait.
They all walk to the main house and Eyram disappears inside.
Effe and Rupert remain in the living-room area and make light conversation.
Presently Eyram joins them in a fetching peach trouser suit.
Sorry, folks. Realized I ran out of ingredients. There’s enough at the Boys Quarters. Let’s go over there and conjure up something to eat.
A moment later they enter the Boys Quarters, and are met with the most exquisite smell of something quite sweet and delightful.
Eyram stops with shock on her face.
(sniffing the air)
Wow. Something smells really good in here!
Don’t tell me Chris created this culinary nasal masterpiece! They must be in the kitchen. Come on, guys!
The sight that meets their eyes stuns both sisters.
Chris is wearing black jeans and a T-shirt.
He has shaved, and he looks so absolutely stunning and so handsome that they stare at him.