As uncomfortable as I was, I remained calm..

“Uh, can I go and wake her up for you?”

He shook his head..

“No, you don’t have to. Let her enjoy her rest. Listen, Mandy, can you please keep this between us? I don’t want her to know that I said all that”

Whao! The man knew very well that Phila was my best friend. In which sick world would my loyalty lie with him over my friend? I cleared my throat..

“Sure, no problem”

I only said that to get rid of him. I was not comfortable with the fact that he was inside our house.

“Thank you so much. Let me get going then. I’ll see you around”

He got up..

“Okay, bye. I’ll see you around”

I got up too.. He walked out and I closed the door behind him. Phew! I sighed in relief. In a way, that guy freaked me out.. What freaked me out the most was realizing that we didn’t lock the gate the previous night. What level of irresponsibility is that? After a few minutes of severely punishing myself, I went to make myself a bowl of cereal and went to eat in the lounge, to avoid seeing Phila’s vomit. While I was eating, watching TV, Phila walked in, looking like he had just been hit by a train..

“Good morning”

I happily greeted as she dragged herself across the room..

“Speak for yourself”

She threw herself on the couch..

“What? You look like death”

“I feel like death. Gosh!”

I laughed..

“You were so drunk yesterday”

“Dude, I was wasted”

“Vuyani was here when we got back”

Her eyes widened as she looked at me..

“Vuyani was here?”

I nodded..

“And then? What happened?”

“Nothing, Bazukile got rid of him”

My voice carried so much pride..

“Got rid of him? How?”

I smiled.

“He told him you weren’t here”

“Where did he say I was?”

“Relax, Phila. Vuyani is cool. Even this morning when he was here, he was totally cool”

“He was here this morning?”

I giggled..

“Yes, he was. He was with me in the kitchen, and he saw your vomit”

She covered her face with both hands..

“Relax man, I told him you were sleeping. He didn’t see you drunk, so you’re safe”

She uncovered her face..

“Thank goodness. I was really not up for all the drama”

“I must admit though, he is quite scary”

She looked at me..

“What do you mean?”

“Well, the things he said just made me uncomfortable”

“What things?”

I took a spoonful of my cereal and took my sweet time to chew. I was mentally structuring my reply in a way that wouldn’t freak her out.

“My friend, that man doesn’t trust you. He lives in fear that one day, you will go back to your old life. He said that you going back to your old life would kill him”

“Vuyani is not that vocal about his feelings to me”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“And the best part is that he asked me not to tell you this,”

“Thank you for telling me. That man is obsessed and its making me unhappy. I told him that I’d spend a few days with you, because you can’t be alone. I don’t get why he keeps coming here”

“He thinks you’re sleeping with someone else”

“He won’t stop me anyway. If I want to sleep with someone else, I will do just that”

I gave her a stare.

“I’m not saying that I’ll do it, I’m just saying. What kills me about him is the fact that he wants me to live my life according to his requirements”

She got up..

“Don’t let this get to you. I noticed that the guy is a control freak too”

“Dude, he’s a control freak. He literally tells me what to do with my life and how to do it. He even goes as far as telling me what to wear”

I could sense defeat in her voice..

“Are you happy with him?”

She sat down..

“Honestly, I don’t know. I love him, a lot, but I somehow can’t stand him. He doesn’t know how to love me right, and that’s sad because he is the first man I’ve ever allowed myself to genuinely love”

I placed my bowl on the coffee table..

“I think you guys need to sit down and talk. Talk to him about this and make him understand how you feel about the way he’s turning your relationship around”

She nodded ..

“Easier said than done. Vuyani doesn’t entertain such topics. He only wants to tell me what to do”

“Has he ever laid a finger on you?”

She shook her head.

“No, but there were times when I kind of expected him to, judging by his anger levels”

“He better not go down that route or we’d have him arrested”

She got up again..

“This is all so exhausting. Let me go and take a bath, my body feels like trash”

She walked away. I knew Phila very well. She was bothered by Vuyani, but she didn’t want to show it. I went to the kitchen to wash my bowl. I only remembered then that Phila made me breakfast the other day and I left the remains of it in my room. I went to my room to get it, and the whole tray was covered with ants..

“Holy crap! Mama would freak out if she would see this”

I picked the tray up.. My phone rang, just as I was making my way to the door.. I went to take it from my bedside. It was Sibusiso, calling.. I placed the tray down and picked it up..

“Hello?”

“Mandiphumle, why aren’t you answering your phone? I’ve been calling you for the past hour”

I sat on my bed..

“I was in the kitchen, I’m sorry. What’s up?”

“That’s it? You’re going to get me all worked up and then act cool about it?”

“I said I’m sorry, what do you want me to say?”

“I was worried sick about you. Why are you doing this to me?”

“Geez, what’s with all the drama? I am fine, can’t I miss your calls now?”

“So I’m dramatic now?”

“Yes, you’re dramatic, Sibusiso and I don’t have time to entertain that. Tell me why you called me, or I will hang up”

He sighed.

“I’m sorry. Its just that, when you didn’t pick up, I had a million things running through my mind”

He apologized.

“Why are you calling?”

I was so over him and his drama..

“Mandy, I’m sorry”

“Can we talk about something else? Please.”

I dismissed him again..

“Okay, I was calling you to remind you of the meeting we’re having on Saturday, and to also ask you to tell mama that I will be available next week for the cleansing ceremony. I know our family doesn’t approve, but we have to do this our way”

If only he knew that I wanted nothing to do with everything he just told me.

“Mandy, are you there?”

I snapped out of it.

“Yes, I’m here. Its just that, I’ve called the ceremony off”

“What? Why?”

“Because I’m being put under a lot of pressure here and I hate it”

“So you saw it fit to call it off without consulting me?”

“Sibusiso, this is my life. I don’t have to ask for your permission to make decisions”

“Hey, you’re carrying my children. If your decisions affect their wellbeing, then you have to ask for my permission”

He sounded like a bully..

“Well, I’ve already called it off”

“No, the ceremony will go on and everything will go according to plan”

What? Was he forcing me now?

“Are you forcing me?”

“Mandiphumle, I’m looking out for my kids. You will do this, whether you like it or not”

“Wow, really? We’ll just have to see about that”

I hung up.

“Geez, who the hell does he think he is?”

He called again, and again, and again- but I didn’t pick up. I took the tray, while I was still holding my phone, and went to the kitchen. My phone was still ringing off the hook, but I ignored it.. I got to the kitchen and did the dishes.

“Dude, what’s up with your phone?”

Phila asked as she walked in..

“Its Sibusiso. He’s trying to force me to do the cleansing ceremony”

“What? But isn’t that all up to you?”

“Exactly, I hate how he’s trying to force me to do this”

“Men are really clueless. So what are you going to do?”

“I won’t do it. I won’t allow him to walk all over me.”

I was so angry that I was hitting the dishes against the sink when putting them down..

“Hello? Mama will still need her dishes when she gets back!”

Phila shouted and I ignored her.. She held me from behind and took the bowl I was holding..

“Sunshine, calm down”

“Let go of me”

I struggled out of her embrace, but she didn’t let me.

“Let go of me!”

I shouted..

“Mandy, calm down”

She made me sit down..

“I hate this”

I fanned my face with my hand.

“Are you okay? Can I get you anything?”

She rushed to get me some tap water..

“Let me go and lie down, I’m feeling a bit dizzy, like my head is upside down”

“Here, drink some water before you go”

She handed me the glass of water.. I downed it at one go and handed her the glass back.

“Thank you”

She sat next to me..

“Please don’t let this get to you. Don’t allow him to play with your emotions like this”

“I’m trying, okay? I’m trying, but I can’t just act like its not happening”

She nodded..

“Try and relax. Don’t allow him to do this to you”

I got up..

“I need to take a nap. I’ll be fine when I wake up”

I went to my room. The fact that I was connected to Sibusiso for the rest of my life killed me. I was struggling as it was, and the thought of struggling all my life really got to me.

Later, I woke up. I was refreshed, but I had a bit of headache. I got up and made my bed. When I was done, I went to look for Phila around the house. She was nowhere to be found. I rushed to my room, took my phone and called her ..

“Hey”

“Phila, where are you?”

“I’m outside, with Bazukile”

“Bazukile?”

I could feel my heart beating faster. What is going on with me? Why am I feeling like this over a player? I mean, I know this guy will break my heart, why am I giving it to him on a silver platter?

“Yes, Bazukile I’ll be back in just now”

Bazukile was not even interested in seeing me. That really hurt me, but I had to act like it didn’t bother me.

“Okay, cool”

I hung up..

I went to take a bath, and got dressed in comfortable clothing. I then went to watch TV, and waited for Phila to come back. She was taking longer than I expected. Eventually, she walked in.

“Hey, you’re up”

“Yeah”

She sat next to me..

“Uhm, please don’t be mad at me for this”

I looked at her..

“What?”

“I called Bazukile to come over. I know you’re going through a lot, and you could use some cheering up”

“What? You called Bazukile over? Why?”

My heart pounded out of my chest..

“To cheer you up, my friend. I know you have a soft spot for him”

“Dammit, Phila. You were not supposed to get involved in this. I wanted him to make the first move”

I threw my hands in the air in despair.

“I’m sorry. I was only trying to help”

“By calling Bazukile? How’s that helping me? Gosh!!”

I covered my face with both hands..

“He’s waiting for you outside ..”

I uncovered my face and looked at her.

“Are you for real?”

She nodded like a naughty school girl..

“I hate you for this”

I went out. I didn’t feel like going there, but I didn’t want to seem like I was avoiding him.. I got into the car..

“Hello”

I greeted..

“Hi, Mandy”

The tension, my goodness.

“How are you?”

He broke the silence that was developing.

“I’m okay, and you?”.

” I’m fine. Phila called me earlier, and asked me to come over. She told me you were going through an emotional roller coaster with the father of your kids and thought I should check up on you. I didn’t even know that she had my number”

I looked down. Phila must have gone through my phone to steal it..

“She really didn’t have to do that. I would have told you myself if there was a need”

That was rude, I felt it the second it slipped out of my lips. He remained silent..

“I’m sorry, that came out all wrong”

I fiddled with my fingers..

“Its okay. Look, you and I just met, and we still don’t know what we’re doing. I’d understand if you felt that your problems were none of my business. I’ll step back if that’s what you want”

I looked at him..

“I’m just confused. I’m so confused, that’s why I don’t know how to react”

“Why are you confused?”

“We just slept together, and now you’re here to discuss my personal problems while we haven’t dealt with the fact that we slept together”

“You didn’t want us to even talk about it, how were we supposed to deal with it?”

I shrugged my shoulders..

“I was overwhelmed”

“I understand, but what I don’t understand is why you were shutting me out”

“I didn’t shut you out on purpose”

He held my right hand and gently played with it..

“Look, I’m just as scared as you are. I don’t know what we’re doing too. All I need you to do is to trust me. I have your best interests at heart”

“This is dangerous. What if we hurt each other?”

He continued playing with my hand..

“How? You and I can never hurt each other, because we understand what we’re doing”

As much as I appreciated his honesty, but I had a little problem with the fact that it was easy for men to tell me that they only want sex from me and nothing much. Sibusiso did the same thing, and it worked for him. It somehow made me feel cheap. I know, I know, I didn’t know what I wanted. I had mixed emotions about what was going on in my life..

“And what if we meet other people and fall in love?”

“We will cross that river when we get there. I want you to enjoy this, as much as you can”

I removed my hand from his..

“I’ll be honest with you. Sleeping with you changed how I feel about you, but I know you are not in this for any emotional attachment. I don’t know whether I can carry on doing this with you, because we’re now not on the same page”

I looked at him, to see his reaction.

“I felt the connection too, and it got me nervous because I thought I’m the only who felt it and I didn’t want to say it, in case I chase you away”

I smiled..

“But you’re a player”

He laughed..

“What? Since when?”

I maintained my smile..

“Since you told me that you cheated on all your exes. I concluded that you’re a player”

He cleared his throat, after an evidently good laugh..

“No, I don’t think I’m a player. I’m just a guy who has had a big problem with settling down and committing to one woman. I didn’t cheat because I didn’t love my woman, I cheated because I was scared of committing to one woman. I was scared I’d have my heart broken, so I decided to be the one breaking hearts. I’m not proud of it, because it has prevented me from experiencing love. I’ve shut my heart from emotional attachments”

We were going somewhere, or so I thought. The talk was making it easy for us to understand each other better. I liked him, and I had a feeling that he liked me too, but we were both scared of taking the risk.

“Let’s just go with the flow for now, and see how it goes. As long as we will communicate, I don’t think there is a problem”

He nodded..

“Agreed. So, what did this bastard do to get you worked up?”

“Let’s rather focus on other things. I don’t want to talk about it”

As per usual, he understood.

“So its settled. We’re giving this a try”

I nodded…

“But we’re going to do it differently. We won’t be in a relationship on the word go, we will let it grow and develop into a relationship on its own. That will help us avoid the pressure of being boyfriend and girlfriend”

“I hear you, that will give us time to figure out what we really want and will also give you time to fully focus on your pregnancy without having to worry about a man”

While Bazukile and I were discussing the nature of our “relationship”, my phone beeped with an incoming text.. I checked it out, and it was a text from Sibusiso;

” Ignore me all you like, but that won’t change the fact that you’re carrying my children. My children will not be denied happiness because of your selfishness. I will fight you, I want to take my children from your irresponsible hands and raise them in a warm home. I will fight you and I promise I will win”