This is the fourth installment of this story . . .
Here’s a link to the first part – Temptation: the Story →
And here’s one to the second part – Temptation: the Story, Part Two →
And for the third part – Temptation: the Story, Part Three →
PART FOUR BEGINS HERE . . .
What she said to me rang continuously in my head for the next few seconds. I have a fiancé. I could not understand it. It couldn’t be true. It was impossible. I glanced at my watch, it was just past seven pm. The serene, pleasant environment in the restaurant contrasted acutely with the discord that tore at the strings of my heart. I returned my gaze to her very beautiful eyes. Jessica looked even more stunning today. An awkward silence had blanketed us and she just stared at me . . . her eyes searching mine for a reply, any reply at all. The silence wasn’t uncomfortable, though. . . Nothing about Jessica was uncomfortable. The eventful circumstances on the night of the day that I met her meant the bond we shared was as good as eternal. Since that night, she had been awarded a very special spot in my heart. No one, no action, nothing at all could cause her to lose that spot. Even this bomb of a revelation. As I carefully pondered the next words to say, my mind cast back to that night . . . the fateful night when Nneka’s life hung in the balance . . .
That night, I had finally begun to shiver when we pulled into the driveway at Helix Medical Centre. Before I could make a move, the tall, fair driver was already carrying Nneka out and hurrying her motionless body towards the emergency section, closely followed by a concerned-looking Jessica. I felt light-headed as I clambered out of the car to follow them into the hospital. I had narrated the bizarre tale to the two relative strangers who had come to my rescue as the driver sped towards the hospital. I glanced at Nneka and she looked peaceful . . a far cry from the emotions that were running through my mind as I, as best as I could in my condition, explained the events of the night. When I was done with my story, Jessica told me she was almost asleep when she heard Chizzie pick my call earlier . Apparently, she and the driver, who I discovered was her brother, had just come into town for a bit to see some of their friends and they were spending the night at Chizzie’s rather than at a hotel because Chizzie vehemently refused to allow them sleep anywhere else. Classic Chizzie , I thought, as the small salon car sped through the endless network of roads in GRA.
‘Immediately Chizzie told me about your situation, I woke my brother who was sleeping in the living room and with a basic description from Chizzie, we were able to find you’ Jessica had said.
I was grateful, but the prevailing emotion was surprise. I was surprised that someone was willing to brave the night in a land that was relatively new to him or her to help an individual he or she barely knew. Jessica was truly a wonderful person. After a while, the doctor came out to inform us that Nneka wasn’t dead, but that she had some medical condition. He mentioned some things about a genetic collagen deficiency which led to temporary muscle paralysis probably triggered by a stressful situation. He went on to say some other things I couldn’t process or remember. All I recalled with clarity was the overwhelming sense of relief that flooded me the moment I heard him say ‘She’s not dead’. The doctor advised we left her there for a while so he could study the peculiarity of her case and suggest the best way forward. Soon after, myself, Jessica and her brother left. Before they dropped me off at my house, we first took a detour to Nneka’s place where we secured her property and my car.
The next morning, before heading to work, I got an auto-mechanic and took him to Nneka’s place to look at my car. It turned out that it was a minor problem with the battery terminals which he fixed very easily. I opened Nneka’s room, cleaned the pool of blood on the blue-tiled floor and pocketed the sheet of paper where Jessica had written down her number the day before. I took a few clothes and other basic necessities from her packed bags, then locked up and left for Helix Medical Centre. I was very happy to see Nneka awake though still less vivacious than normal. Her skin was a bit pale especially her face which appeared almost ghostly white. Against my better judgment to let her rest, and as a result of her insistence, I told her everything that went down the day before. She was very surprised that ‘this Jessica'(as she put it) was so willing to help and looked at me funnily when I said Jessica was a lovely person. She wanted to say some more but I urged her to rest and regain her strength. Soon after, her drugs kicked in and she fell asleep. I left her sleeping and went to work.
My mind returned to the present. Jessica had a fiancé. How? Why? How come she hadn’t mentioned it? We had grown really close in the last two months so it must have been a really difficult task to keep such big news under wraps. Over those months, I called her at least once every two days. On occasion, I would call as much as thrice a day. She was so easy to discuss with, her voice so soft and soothing. We would talk for hours at times; laughing, sharing funny stories and just allowing our imaginations run wild as we laughed and discussed the unpredictability of the future. While I did the majority of the calling, she always texted me. She would send all types of texts from the short ‘Hey, Wats up?’s to the long poetic messages about how she valued our friendship. I had grown to really care about her without actually seeing her in the course of those months. Now I was with her, it was unbelievable how palpable the chemistry between us was. She had just come into town the day before and I insisted we hung out the next day. She obliged and I brought her to my favorite restaurant- Sky High. I didn’t spend too long on chit chat. Immediately we had ordered a meal, I poured out my heart to her, telling her how I never felt the way I felt about her with anyone else, telling her how badly I wanted her to be mine, telling her how often I thought about her and how I couldn’t keep those thoughts to myself anymore. She looked at me and the expression on her face was one I had never seen before. A sullen, solemn look had settled in where excitement and exuberance once shone proudly as she said;
‘I have a fiancé’
I was shocked. My brain refused to process the message my ears were passing across. I opened my mouth to say something . . . anything . . . but I couldn’t form the words. After what felt like forever, I eventually asked;
‘Where is he now?’
She looked down at the table and replied;
And after a short pause added ‘He works on a rig offshore’.
‘Okay’ I said.
It was all I could say. The rest of the night went on uneventfully. I dropped her off at Chizzie’s house later on and went home. I undressed, showered, got into my pajamas and lay on my bed with the lights off, air condition at 16 degrees, everywhere very quiet. I replayed Jessica’s words in my head again and again. I have a fiancé. I could not understand why she hadn’t told me about it earlier, why she didn’t see such a crucial detail as important, why she would lead me on, knowing fully well how close we were growing to one another. As I lay there lost in thought, a shrill sound pierced my fortress of solitude and self reflection. I opened my eyes to see my phone ringing. The caller ID read ‘Jessica’. I let it ring till it disconnected. It rang a few more times but I ignored each. Then after about ten minutes, I heard a different tone, a shorter one, it was a message. As I reached to see the contents of the message, the phone began to ring again. This time, it was a call from Nneka. She told me she had something to tell me which was very important and that she was coming over to see me. I couldn’t say no to Nneka, she was one of a few true friends I still had.
Over the last two months, I had spent a significant amount of time with Nneka. I had informed her office of her health issues, visited her at the hospital everyday till she was discharged and paid her regular visits since she was discharged to find out how she was doing. The doctor had recommended drugs and a strict fat-free diet to help her get back to full fitness – two things she really hated. Owing to this, I felt compelled to visit her regularly to encourage her to stick to the doctor’s orders and to cheer her up. However, I couldn’t fathom why she would be coming to visit me this night. It was strange. She sounded pretty terse on the phone and I was really concerned. I glanced at the big circular clock in my bedroom, it had just crossed 8:30pm. I looked at my phone and saw that the message was from Jessica. I opened it and saw a very long message. It read;
‘Hey, dear. How are you? I’m really sorry for not telling you about my fiancé. We’ve been engaged for about three months but I don’t love him. I only accepted his proposal because we’ve been dating since I was in high school. The truth is I was really scared of pushing you away and that’s why I never mentioned him. You’ve made me so happy these last two months and made me feel things I haven’t felt about anyone. Please dear, I’m in a very tight situation, give me a little time to work this out. I love you’.
What the hell? I read the message again and still couldn’t believe what I read. ‘Give me a little time to work this out, I love you’ she had written. What did this mean? The last part of the message stirred something in me. I read that part again and couldn’t help smiling sheepishly. Jessica loves me . .Then, I heard a soft knock on my front door. I glanced out the window to confirm it was Nneka and it was. She seemed deep in thought. I gently unlocked and opened the door and welcomed her in. I wasn’t at all ready for what happened next.
As I closed the door and turned to face my visitor, I saw Nneka standing directly in front of me. Before I could say anything, she leaned up and kissed me full on the lips. I pulled away, surprised. Nneka who was like a sister to me had just kissed me in a completely un-sisterly way. I looked into her eyes and saw a fire I had never seen there before. She looked me dead in the eyes and with the confidence I always admired her for, said;
‘I’ve wanted to do that for so long . . . ‘
She paused for a moment, looked around the room, then looked back at me. Her next words would change my life forever. She said;
‘I’ve also wanted to say this for a while . . . I love you’
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
By Gareth Glover . . . a pseudonym