“Anyway, how are you?”

I sighed.

“I don’t know hey. I really don’t know. I mean, one minute I’m excited about being out of that place, and the next, I am all scared and nervous about it”

She nodded.

“I understand fully. Give yourself time. You will find your feet again. Alex tells me how strong you are, so don’t worry, you’ve got this”

I nodded too.

“So, I’m seeing baby toys and shoes all over the place. Do you guys have kids?”

Dumbest question ever, but I just wanted to shift her focus from me and my condition. She smiled.

“Yes, we have a son. He is 10 months old”

“When did you guys meet?”

She blushed.

“Well, we met during the time he was fighting with his ex, who claimed to be carrying his child. He was going through hell, and that’s when we met”

“Oh, how did you meet?”

She blushed even more.

“As I said, I met him at a very hectic time. He was seeking legal intervention, against the woman who was set on turning his life upside down. He came to my office, for help”

“Oh, wow! So you are a lawyer?”

She nodded.

“Yes, but I referred him to someone suitable for the job”

“Oh!”

I looked down.

“I remember the day like it was yesterday. He came to my office, dressed in a Navy slim-fit designer suti, with a Black shirt that complimented his Black shoes. He had bright White teeth that served as some of decoration to his to his dark skin. The way he smiled at me as he walked up to me. I swear, I felt butterflies in the deepest pit of my stomach. His deep voice moved something inside me, and I just knew he was the one”

She sounded so in love.

“I’m happy for you guys. Alex is a good man, he deserves all the happiness”

“Whoa! Why are you guys gossiping about me?”

Alex asked as he walked in.. Ntsiki laughed.

“I was just telling Mandy how we met”

Alex looked at me.

“I’m really happy for you guys. You look so happy together”

I said. I honestly didn’t know how I felt. Disappointed, maybe.

“We really are happy”

Ntsiki said.

“Uhm, love. Could you please fix me something to drink?”

“Sure”

Ntsiki got up.

“Mandy, what can I get you?”

“Nothing, thanks”

“Are you sure? Please feel free”

She insisted.

“I’m sure, thanks”

Ntsiki walked away.

“So I’m your cousin? Really?”

“Mandy, I had to tell her something”

“Something? Alex, you lied. How could you lie about something this big?”

“Mandy, my wife wasn’t going to buy any other story but the one I spun her”

He came to sit next to me, where his wife was sitting.

“What if she finds out that this was all a lie? Alex, I want to start my life on a clean slate. I don’t want to have this relationship based on lies”

“Relax. My wife will never find out. I’ve told Chukwudi and his wife about it, so they are on our side”

“Our side? This is not our side. I want nothing to do with this”

“Mandy, will you please stop being difficult? I am doing this for you, Mandiphumle. I’m doing this for you. In all honesty, you don’t deserve this kindness that I’m showering you with, not after the way things ended between us and how you carried yourself after our breakup. I’m doing this because I love you, and I will always care for you. Please, don’t make me regret this”

My heart skipped. Maybe I was really pushing it. Maybe the real problem wasn’t the fact that he lied about who I was, but the fact that he was married. I didn’t want to bring that up, because I didn’t want him to think that I was jealous.

“One glass of Orange juice, for my beloved husband, and a bulk of nothing for my beloved sister-in-law”

Ntsiki joked as she walked in. Alex slightly shifted away from me. We laughed as she handed Alex his glass.

“I’m really tired. I’d love to go and rest for a while”

“Now? Junior is up already, his nanny will bring him here just now”

“Oh, okay. Uhm, I’ll wait”

We spent about thirty minutes, chatting about general stuff. They were really happy together. I had to let go of
all the deep seated hope that I had, of us ever getting back together.

“Oh, finally. There he is”

Ntsiki excitedly announced as a little old lady walked into the room, carrying a very bubbly baby in her arms. The baby was all smiley and giggly, blowing little bubbles in the air- bubbles that later turned into saliva, dripping down his chin. He was a beautiful child. His bright innocent eyes carried life. I smiled and let out a slight laugh. He was very beautiful. Ntsiki got up and took him from the lady. She greeeted, and I greeted back.

“Baby, help me introduce our son to his aunt”

She said, turning to look at her husband. Alex got up and went to stand next to her.

“Mandy, meet our son. Our heir..”

He cleared his throat.

“Meet our prince. Our bundle of joy..”

Right at that point, my ears switched off and I could’nt take anything else in. I wasn’t jealous or anything, but my ears hurt listening to how he worshipped the baby.

“Mandy??”

Alex called out, and I snapped out of my thoughts.

“Oh, sorry. I .. Uhm, lost it there for a sec”

I giggled nervously. The last thing I needed was for them to catch any bad vibe from my direction.

“It’s okay, I understand. This is our son, Junior”

He said, and Ntsiki nodded instantly.

“Oh, wow. He’s so handsome”

I smiled.

“He is, isn’t he?”

She proudly replied as she gave him a quick perk on the cheek.

“Carry him. Here”

Ntsiki quickly handed him over to me. I stretched my arms out and held him. He started flapping his arms in the air, almost as if he was swimming, and the giggling never stopped.

“He likes you”

Alex said. It took every last bit of my energy to maintain and hold on to that smile I was carrying. I really needed time to digest everything. I didn’t even understand why I was complicatig my own life like that.

“Uhm, could you please take him? I’m not feeling well”

Tears were welling up in my eyes, and I tried so hard to hold them back. I didn’t even know why I was that sad. I didn’t understand why I was even crying. My feelings were just all over the place, and I couldn’t control them. I hated feeling that way, because it was going to draw me more attention and make people think that I was really mad and belonged in the mental hospital.

“Mandy, are you okay?”

Alex took the child.

“I’m.. Uhm, I’m fine. I just need some space to be alone”

I rushed away.

“Mandy, wait up. I want to show you your room”

Ntsiki screamed out, running after me. I stopped, trying to catch my breath. Instead of regaining my breathing pattern, I was outof breath even more.

“Mandy, what’s going on? Please breathe”

She rubbed my back..

“What’s going on? Is she sick?”

Alex asked, rushing down the passage too, still holding Junior in his arms.

“I think she’s panicking. She was having a difficulty catching her breath”

“Hold Jay”

He handed the baby over to Ntsiki and walked up to me. I was standing there, with my back against the wall, looking at them, while also taking quick glances at the ceiling.

“Mandy, are you okay?”

He asked.

“I just told you guys that I wasn’t feeling well”

“What’s the matter WHy aren’t you feeling well?”

Ntsiki asked.

“Can we do this later? Please”

“Mandy, I need to know how you’re feeling physically, so that I can be able to help”

“Nothing is wrong with me, Alex. I just had a moment there, no big deal”

 

“I think we should let her rest, baby”

Ntsiki suggested.

“Okay, we’re right here if you need anything. Just shout”

Alex was a very weird creature. How could he stand there and act like he was just a caring brother? How could he lie naturally like that?

“Your room is the second door on your right”

Ntsiki shouted as I walked away. I got into the room and closed the door behind me. I then threw myself on the bed on my tummy, covered my head with a pillow and screamed so loud. I was even kicking my legs in the air. Alex was selfish. He thought of a quick way to manage the situation, without considering who gets hurt in the process. Hurt? Why was I hurt? I asked myself. The man gave me a roof over my head and food in my stomach. Wasn’t that enough? Why did I want to complocate my life like that? The man was married, I had to talk myself of it. I was just being silly. I was being spoilt, and I needed to grow up before losing the little that I got from Alex.
.

 

“Mandy, wake up. Mandy!”

Someone repeatedly called out. I opened my eyes, and Alex was standing there.

“Wake up. I’ve made you breakfast”

He placed a tray on my bedside. I turned over, as I was sleeping on my tummy, so I flipped over and sat up.

“Thank you”

“Its a pleasure. I was worried about you”

“Why?”

I looked at him as he sat next to me.

“You slept throughout the night, without responding when we tried waking you up”

He explained.

“Now that you mention it, I was about to ask what you meant when you said you made me breakfast. What’s going on? Is it morning?”

He laughed.

“Yes, it’s morning. You practically passed out”

I laughed too.

“I guess I was really tired”

“I understand. You were tired”

I nodded.

“How are you feeling today?”

Oh, no. I didn’t want us to share any emotional moments. I quickly got out of bed and looked for my slippers.

“Let me quickly go and wash my hands, so I can eat”

I rushed away, to the bathroom. On the way to and from the bathroom, I was convincing myself to calm down and act normal. When I got to my room, Alex was still sitting there.

“I’m back. So, where is Ntsiki?”

“She’s at work. Aunt Veronica took Junior out for a walk”

He explained.

“Oh, wow!”

I took my tray and placed it on my lap.

“Junior already goes for walks and stuff”

He smiled.

“He even goes to the baby gym”

He giggled. Wow!

“Wow. You guys were so prepared when you had him, hey”

“Yes. We made sure we were ready for this big step, because we wanted nothing but the best for him”

I nodded.

“I take it things didn’t work out between you and Ntombi”

His smile faded away.

“Things ended badly between us”

I could sense that he didn’t want to talk about it, so I decided to let him be.

“Uhm, I’m sorry about what happened yesterday. I really don’t know what came over me. Instead of being a spoilt brat about whether you told me about your mariage of not, I should be grateful for the shelter and sense of beloging that you are giving me”

“Oh, I thought you were mad at me because I lied about you being my sister. I didn’t know that you were mad because I didn’t tell you I was married”

Oops! I looked down on my plate.

“Mandy, listen. I think we need to talk about this, and get it out of the way”

I looked at him.

“I will go first, and I will be completely honest with you”

I nodded.

“Mandy, the very first day I laid my eyes on you, I knew you were the one. From the onset, I knew my heart belonged to you. I don’t want to play the blame game, but if it wasn’t for the way things ended between us, we would have made it together. When I broke up with you, and witnessed how you started conducting yourself while you were pregnant, I knew that all hope of us ever getting back together was dead. I threw myself at a woman who was only set on using me and taking me for a ride, and I fell for all her tricks because I was desperate. I was desperate to move on from you and forget you ever existed. It wasn’t easy, at all. You kept getting more beautiful as days passed, and I was dying inside because my heart was yearning for your love. I ended up being bitter and nasty towards you, because I was looking for reasons to hate you, but couldn’t find any- and the fact that you met someone else was not reason enough for me to hate you, mainly because I had also moved on. Everything happened so fast, and I lost control of the situation. I never stopped caring..”

He shifted closer to me.

“..and that is why I continued financially supporting you, and making sure that you had everything that you needed. I cared. And deep down, I hoped things would eventually go back to normal”

At that point in time, my heart was doing summersaults.

“I understand, I also feel….”

He cut me short.

“Let me finish, please.”

I pressed my lips tightly together.

“The day you moved out, I practically negotiated with my heart to let you go. It wasn’t easy. Hell, it was torture, but I had no other option. When things fell apart between Ntombi and I, I decided to quit the love scene and just focus on myself and my career. Until one day, in the midst of a stormy time in my life, I met Ntsiki. God knows how hard I tried fighting the urge to even greet her, because I was scared. My heart was not ready. When I finally asked her out and she agreed, I made a vow to myself to make the best of that. I told myself that I wouldn’t hold back, because of my past experiences, but I would rather give it my all and see where it leads me. Ntsiki has been nothing short of a dream becoming a reality. Being with her has taught me a lot about commitment and love in general. She has been the light that shone in the deepest pit of my heart, for me to see the beauty of love again”
I swallowed.

“Please don’t get me wrong. I am not trying gto be insensitive by telling you all this. I want to be honest with you, so we could be on the same page. I love you, and I always will, but my heart has been captured by capable hands, and I want us to keep things between us strictly innocent”..