As an Investment Manager, Ryan’s fortune changed drastically. He moved from Kevin’s house to a chalet-style bungalow nestled in a pocket of light, semi-woodland at the far end of a long graveled
driveway, surrounded by well-manicured lawns. A small rose garden had been planted at the back, a short distance from the swimming pool.
So as not to offend Justin, Olivia moved back home but would visit. Occasionally, she did sleepover—they were now officially engaged, anyway. It had taken a whole week after Elizabeth’s
burial that she came over.
It was a star-studded night sky, and the lovebirds sat at the rear balcony, overlooking the garden. Ryan had wanted to cook, but she insisted and ordered dinner. Pizza for herself and fish
fingers, tartar sauce with some salads for him.
“You’ve become fond of junk of late.” Ryan scooped a piece of pizza onto her plate. “I wouldn’t want you to get out of shape.”
Just when he was about to close the lid, the bold message underneath caught his attention. I am pregnant.
“Jeez! No way… You’re kidding.”
“Yes, it’s true. You will soon be a daddy.”
A sudden eagerness crept upon him and shined in his eyes. He pulled his shirt up over his face to cover tears. He’d never experienced authentic family life except watching it in Martha’s household
when he’d go over to play with Ken and Annie as little kids. He’d longed to experience this happiness in a family of his own, but joining the society dashed this dream. And now, seated before him
was a millionaire’s daughter, his own flesh and blood growing inside her. He looked past her translucent nightgown, her dimples, curly hair — perfect ringlets piled on her head with a few soft
spirals about her face, and fine light skin. He wasn’t worth her small finger, yet; he was her fiancé, soon to be her husband. Unbelievable!
Ryan reached over and kissed her, then, passed a hand over her belly. “I’m so happy.”
He moved back to his seat, settled her on his lap, and kissed her tummy again. “I always dreamt of this day but never imagined it could be real.” Shifting slightly, he leaned back, twirling a
lock of her hair on his finger.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked.
He swallowed, washing down his throat the warm trickles of excitement that filled his mouth. “My daddy will be so happy. He always wanted me to have a family of my own... Man, it still feels like a
She poked his shoulder. “Yes, it’s real. I’m happy it's happening now when you and daddy are the best of friends.”
He shook his head, a smile playing on his lips. Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined he’d be the one looking forward to sharing such news with Justin. For sure, God had been so
gracious to him.
“Oh, can’t wait to tell him… I can already see his reaction.”
“Ah, tell me. How will he react?”
He chuckled. “First, he’ll stroke his mustache, then start cracking his knuckles--“
“Haha… no, he does that when annoyed. But when happy, he first bites his lower lip with a raised brow.”
“Oh yeah, you’re right.” He tipped her chin down and kissed her. “I know he’ll be so happy.”
Ryan’s cell phone, lying on the table, dinged with a message.
Their gazes met on the phone’s screen as it lighted and displayed the sender’s name—Annie.
An ominous silence followed. Then she spoke up. “Why’s she still contacting you?”
He arched his brows. What the hell would Annie be wanting? They hadn’t spoken for God knows how long. Curious, he stretched his hand and opened the message.
Can’t stop thinking about ya. Am about to wed a man I don’t love. Tell me once and for all. Didn’t everything we had for all these years mean anything to you?
“What does she mean everything you guys had?” Olivia moved to her seat. “You told me nothing happened between the two of you.”
“Of course, nothing happened. I dunno what she’s talkin’ about.”
Of all the days, why was this happening today, at such a sacred moment when he’d just received the news he’d be a daddy?
Olivia’s voice echoed in his ears. “Don’t take me for a fool. How can she say something happened when nothing happened?”
This wasn’t the calm and logical Olivia he was used to. Even if something transpired in the past between him and Annie, what the hell did that matter now? He couldn’t change the past. Surely,
couldn’t she realize that?
He gave her a stern look. “Do you trust what I tell you or her delusions.”
She hung her head. “I know she still loves you.”
Her voice carried a fit of sweet jealousy that wafted over his ego, stirring passionate fires within him. Damn it, he couldn’t even pretend to be angry at her for long.
He sat on the edge of the table in front of her. “You’re the only woman I’ve ever truly loved.”
“Do you love her?” She looked him in the eye. “You guys have a long history from childhood.”
Emotions churned through him. Too many. Yes, he loved Annie and respected her so much, almost to the point of reverence. She’d stood by him in his worst moments since he was orphaned at the age
of eleven. She’d hoped for his hand in marriage only for him to disappoint her. Why? Even he himself couldn’t explain why he wasn’t drawn to Annie romantically.
“Honey, I even showed it to her face… It’s you I love and not her.”
Olivia gasped a small whisper which breezed through his heart. “Ryan.”
He could only think how damned erotic Olivia’s small gasp, Ryan, had felt against his ear when they made love a few days ago. Why were they spoiling their happiness with such hopeless
Ryan admired her cleavage. His true Olivia was starting to show up again, calm and impervious to senseless insecurities.
“You want me to call and tell her off?” He teased, knowing too well she wouldn’t agree.
“Maybe I’m just paranoid coz of what my dad did, but I can’t stoop that low,” Olivia answered with the same quiet authority as when she’d ordered him to quit from his self-pity.
Despite the chilly night, sweat popped and streamed down his armpits. Oh! So this had hitherto been about Justin’s infidelity? He felt sorry and now understood her fears. “Baby, I don’t mean to say
I'm an angel but, trust me… I’ll never cheat on you.”
God, he burned to prove to her he was different.
Ryan took his hands in hers and pulled her close until their faces touched. “I love you so much.”
Bracing a shaking hand to his lap, she whispered. “I love you more.”
Damn him and his lack of discernment that had almost cost him happiness and ruined their night. Damn Annie for her stupid text. Most of all, damn him for not anticipating her fears. Justin’s affair
was definitely bound to affect how she viewed men.
Her breath hitched on an icy gasp as he kissed her neck.
“Don’t give me any reason to doubt you... I wish you knew what you mean to me.” She exhaled her relief in a puffy cloud into the air.
Tall with muscles bulging and rippling his biceps beneath the black tight t-shirt, Ryan pulled her in his wide chest for another kiss.
And then there she was. In front of him. So close. The familiar scent of expensive cologne—which could only be smelt at close range, saturated his senses seconds before Olivia grabbed his arms. His
body absorbed the warm familiarity of her touch after a few minutes of their argument that appeared to be too long without her, her pounding heart echoing his fears.
Ryan held her with his gaze as well as his hands. “You’re mine forever. Got it?”
“Yeah.” Her voice was shrill but there were no mistaking words that tumbled from her lips in a torrent of emotion, perhaps born out of the jealousy that still pulsed through her. “Tell her to
keep off you.”
He ran a finger through her curly locks of hair. “Shush! No need, I’m blocking her number, see!” He showed her the screen to confirm.
She blushed. “No, you don’t have to, but, anyway, you handle it.”
Whoa, it felt good to see Olivia overly protective of him. Of course, he knew she loved him, but she’d never shown she could also be insecure. He smooched her tongue and tasted the worry that
had clawed up her throat.
“Baby, you don’t have to worry about me.” He tipped her chin up and glared in her eyes, which were full of emotion that threatened to spill free again.
“Hell, what was I thinking? I hope this doesn’t change the way you see me.” She covered her face on his chest. “Forget I said a thing. You’re here. And that’s all I care for”
It must have been the pregnancy. There was too much emotion spinning around her today. But he wouldn’t — couldn’t — give her any reason to doubt him.
He pulled his spine as straight as his resolve. “Honey, the most important thing for me now is you and the baby. I respect how you feel and if anything, you’ve shown me you care so much for us
just like I do.”
She looked up. “I care so much about us… ah, I guess it’s just the hormones messing me up. I read they can be troublesome in the first trimester.”
His brown eyes hardened. “Fewks! You scared me. I wouldn’t want anything to come between us.” A conquering feeling prickled through his chest. “But I’m glad I matter in your life.”
“Of course, you do matter, Ryan. We love each other… Not unless I’m fooling myself… We’ve made a baby together. We now have a history that nobody... Not even ourselves can break.”
“It’s not history, but the only reality that exists for me. I know life’s tough,” he swallowed the ache, memories of his tumultuous childhood coming to mind, “but our relationship will take the
“Baby, nothing bad’s gonna happen.” She hauled him closer until their bodies exchanged heat and longing. “I always look forward to a bright future.”
He closed his mouth, restraining mean words that threatened to come out of his mouth. If he told her it was natural for somebody whose dad was a millionaire to be always optimistic, this would only
lead to more arguments. More hurt.
“Yeah, I agree. It’s always good to be positive, but… um, forget it.”
She giggled. “C’mon, but what?”
“You’ve always had what you wanted in life and it’s easier for you to say that.” He realized his blunder even before these words landed into her ears.
She eased from him and hugged herself tightly, making no response.
“Please don’t!” His grip tightened around her arms. “That was mean of me, I’m sorry. Please don’t shut down on me. For God’s sake, better tell me to go to hell but don’t be cold.”
Her molten eyes sparkled in the moonlight. “I may be many things, Ryan, but when I’m with you, cold isn’t one of them.”
What did she just say? He couldn’t focus on her words but only stared up and soaked in her sight. The dimples on her cheeks, rosy lips, and the deep-set eyes like her mother’s. His fingers clenched
around her bosom, igniting warmth in the thin air between them.
He tangled his hand in her hair and pulled her close. Closer still until his mouth took hers. Maybe she took his. The meeting and mating of their lips happened so fast he couldn’t think. Didn’t
want to think. Just wanted to drink in the taste of her.
“You’re so sweet, can’t get enough of you.” His tongue stroked hers.
Her hands glided up, over his shoulders and into his hair with a familiarity that left him whimpering for wasting time with their senseless arguments.
“Promise you’ll never tire of this.” She spoke over his lips.
His arms banded around her, anchoring her to him in a perfect fit until fire pooled low in his belly. “I promise.”
What was the fuss all about? Talk of pregnancy tantrums! Hitherto, he’d only heard about such mood swings. But if this was how things would be ending, he looked forward to more mood swings, more
tantrums. How could he not realize it early that she wanted his unwavering commitment now that he’d planted life in her womb? And he remembered all the promises he’d made her, while he cradled her
face in his hands while they made love, repeating with every deliberate stroke of his body that he would love her forever. How he’d confidently said they’d never quarrel in their married life, yet,
even before becoming husband and wife, they’d started arguing. But it was because of her jealousy. Goodness, how sweet and silly. If only she knew that he thinks no more of Annie than of a sister!
“I’m always so happy around you,” she said.
She’d actually captured exactly what he was feeling in those words. After a life of self-doubt and conflict, finally, Olivia had brought him light.
“I’m just as happy. So happy at times I get scared. Can life be just all happiness?”
“Yeah, happiness is the most natural thing in life.”
“Yes, if you want to be happy, just be.”
Was it that simple? She might have said these words casually, but what a profound meaning they carried for him. Maybe she was right. If you want to be happy, just be!
He’d better cast aside his pull to melancholy and enjoy life. Starting now, by satisfying their basic needs of the moment. He caressed her, down her back, cupping her bottom and this sensation
echoed her words; if you want to be happy, just be. And, man, she must have felt the same too.
She caressed his lips with her own. “Ryan.”
Pleasure swelled through him just hearing his name.
He groaned into her mouth. “Again. Say it again.”
“How can I deny you anything? I can’t... Ryan.”
They heard footsteps and saw a silhouette approaching in the compound. Ryan inched away from her. “Damn it, who the f**k is this?’’
The guard’s ominous and whistling voice cut through the air. “It’s me… boss. Just doing my normal patrol to ensure everything’s fine.”
Ryan’s arms convulsed around Olivia, his broad shoulders enclosing her as he sighed with relief. ‘’It’s okay, carry on.’’
“Oh, thank God, I was scared!’’ said Olivia, panting frantically.
“Don’t be scared.” Ryan’s body ripped with tension against her. “I wouldn’t allow any harm to come your way.”
She caressed his curved biceps. “You’re so strong! I feel so secure around you. I should count myself lucky.”
Ryan puffed out his chest and felt fresher and stronger than Samson. Her words set his adrenaline in motion, lifting him higher than any physical limitation. He was convinced he could lift the
whole house if it happened to fall on her.
“We’re lucky to have each other.’’ He carried her in his muscular hands like a baby and headed inside the house. ‘’It’s past midnight. Let’s get to bed.’’
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