The next day, after breakfast, Ryan sat in a corner of the sitting room, trying to finish the financial model he’d been working on the whole week. Olivia, still wearing a nightgown, lay on the big
couch, resting her head on a pillow while she browsed on her MacBook. Though immersed in his work, he never lost the blissful awareness of her presence.
“So, what are you working on? Dad says with you he’s sure to close many deals pretty fast.”
“Really? I’m flattered.”
She smoothed out a crease on the hem of her gown. “I wish you knew, he’s so proud of you.”
Never before had Ryan imagined his work could afford him such immense joy. Before he worked for money and his job was a loathsome burden. But now, it was more fulfilling just knowing his input
was appreciated. The money came as an afterthought.
“He hasn’t seen nothing yet, wait until I deliver this deal.” He narrowed his eyes on the screen.
Olivia sat upright. “Which deal is that?”
“Wait, a sec.” He lifted a finger.
After punching in some numbers, he straightened. Whoa, could he have missed anything? He moved the cursor to the formula. Yes, the workings were correct—profit on each electric pole was eight
hundred dollars, with a guaranteed demand of at least one thousand poles per month.
He cupped his mouth and turned to her. “Goodness me!”
“Did you just hit a jackpot?” She came over.
He moved the cursor on the screen. “Look at the money we’ll be making if I pull this deal through. Eight hundred thousand dollars per month.”
We’ll be making? Yes, that’s right. He was now part of the family and whatever dime Justin’s companies made, trickled down to his family.
“Are you serious… How?”
“By manufacturing electric poles from plastic waste and selling.”
“Who’d buy such?”
“Of course the government. We’ll be helping to clean the environment and save on trees. It’s what this financial model is all about.”
“Wow, you’re such a genius.” She plopped her hands on his shoulders and rested her chin on his head. “How did dad take it?”
“He sniffs opportunities miles away. We’re going to see the Minister of Energy on Monday.”
“I dunno how, but he always gets his way. I can bet my life on it, you’ll get the deal. Please carry on, lemme give you time.”
“No its okay, what are you working on yourself?”
“Just surfing what to expect in the first trimester. I should start taking iron tablets… No, no, go along, go on with your work; don’t listen to me, I’ll only distract you,” she said, pursing up
her lips, “It’s nothing important, you see!”
“How do you mean? Whatever concerns you and our baby girl is more important to me than these numbers.”
“How do you know it’s a girl?”
“I just know, and I’ll name her after my mother.”
She leaned in, stroking his back with her boobs, and pecked the back of his neck. “Each day you make me fall in love with you more and more. You’re one in a million.”
“That makes the two of us.”
“You always say exactly what I wanna hear.”
He turned to face her and slid a hand around her waist. “Coz you’re so sweet.”
Her eyes glittered as she eased away from him. “Please don’t make me cry… um, time’s flying so fast, carry on with your financial models, I don’t want to be the one derailing you.”
“It’s Saturday, we have all the time.”
“I was thinking… we have dinner at home and deliver the good news.”
“Brilliant idea, I’ll be done in a few hours.”
An hour later, he moved over to the couch and anchored her head to his chest. “I’m done.”
“Thank God, I was missing you already.” She sprang to her feet and he tried to pull her back, but she broke away from him. “I don’t trust that smile of yours.”
He offered his hand. “Lemme tell you something before you go.”
He shot to his feet as she backtracked, dodged, and hid behind the couch, table, and anything she could find along her way as he ran after her. When he finally caught up with her, he bent and
hefted her up over his muscular shoulder.
“Ryan!” Her muffled voice drifted from behind him.
But he had to watch out lest she fell. His grip tightening around her legs, he ignored her screams until they reached the bedroom.
Her hand shot out and thumped him on the chest. “What the hell was all that for, you wanna hurt the baby? Did it ever occur to you we don't have to be in bed to make love?”
She was right. Now that they were alone, the couch could have served them just right. He caught her wrist before she thumped again. “Man, tiz coz of you, you just shroud my thinking faculties
whenever I see your thighs. Did you do it deliberately?”
“Pull up your dress while you lay on the couch.”
Her gaze fell on his hand that caressed her boobs, and she nudged it away. But his blood was already aflame and there was nothing she could do to stop him. He sat on the edge of the bed and put his
foot between her feet, anchoring her torso on his thigh.
Her fingers sped down to the hand he’d tucked in her pants. “Wait.”
Damn it! How could he wait when the blood pooling between his legs hurt him? He leaned back and feasted his eyes on every inch of her slender body, mussed locks of hair swirling around her face,
eyes refracting his own image. She looked appetizing. Goddamn delicious.
Supporting her with one arm, he hooked the other free hand to his hip to keep from reaching for her. “Are you sure you don’t want any of this?”
She smiled. “Of course, I’m sure.”
He scrubbed a hand over his jaw. “Um... Okay.”
Did she really mean it? But her eyes told a different story; urged him to shut up and do what was required of him—act like a man. He fought hard the urge to kiss her rosy lips.
“Someone’s pissed right about now,” she whispered.
“It’s written all over your face.”
He braced an elbow on his knee to hide his face, and his back lay before her. “Trust me, I’m good, don’t get me wrong, I’m not just all about sex.”
She slid her fingertips down the length of his spine and up again. “It’s good you say that; I was beginning to wonder.” She unfolded her long legs in front of her, her usual calm voice betraying a
hint of warmth, interest.
He yanked his mind right off those long legs. “What came to your mind?”
“I assumed that’s all you think about when you see me.”
“Not at all, I just love holding and talking to you… like we’re doing now.”
“C’mon, I hear sex means everything to men, and that’s why they cheat.”
There she goes again, her father’s infidelity. Ryan didn’t want to spoil the moment, but at the same time, he couldn’t snub her.
He put it mildly. “I don’t believe in stereotyping, people are different.”
She must have picked his mind, for she smiled and spoke with warmth. “Well, if you say so.”
Straightening, he clenched his hands to keep from tucking her lock of curly hair behind her ear. “Why are you doing this to me… to us?” His strength failed and he couldn’t explain how his lips
locked on hers.
“Did you think I wanted a zombie for a man? I love your wildness.”
“Ah, I can’t help it, not with all this beauty around me.” He groaned.
“Since when did you start asking for permission? I’m all yours, honey.”
His lips parted into a grin. “Say my name.”
“Ryan.” She slid the sleeves of her gown free, plunging her big boobs onto his face. “I can’t help it either.” She repeated his words.
He heaved a deep breath and brushed his tongue on her nipples. “Damn, you’re so sweet.”
Lifting his chin and pressing her lips to his, she spoke into his mouth. “You’re the best.”
She rose on tiptoes and pushed her underwear down to her knees then wiggled out of them.
An hour later, Katelyn opened the door and invited Ryan and Olivia inside.
“You’re just in time for dinner, come on in,” Katelyn shook Ryan’s hand, then smiled at Olivia. “Wow, you look gorgeous.”
She hugged Katelyn. “Thanks, ma.”
Ryan looked on, admiring Olivia’s strapless, grey satin dress which accentuated her thin waist, hugged her hips, and flared out a little.
And Katelyn’s gown, magnificent with a tinge of gold, with pomaded hair, was in keeping with the characteristic bourgeois ways in Justin’s household—everyone, including the kids, dressed officially
Murmurs and laughs rippled from the men seated at a round table in the living room, dressed in suits and bow ties.
“Your dad is delighted at your coming. He’s completely lost his heart to him.” Katelyn whispered to her daughter, casting a glance at Ryan as he walked to the round table.
“Hey, buddy.” Justin, looking sharp in a vintage tuxedo tailcoat, hugged Ryan, then turned to Ambrose. “You remember him?”
Ambrose smoothed his black frock coat and shook Ryan’s hand. “Yeah, we met at the funeral.”
“Sorry for your loss,” said Ryan.
Rose, in a white uniform, showed up and broke off further conversations by inviting the party to the dining room.
A stout butler, resplendent with a smoothly shaven round chin, and a starched white cravat, helped each one locate their spot at the table. A sweet aroma that turned on spits lingered in the air.
Huge platters of exquisite chicken stuffed with savory fruit and nuts; seafood drizzling in sauces; cheeses, bread, vegetables, and bottles of wine lay in wait. Ryan’s mouth watered when he spotted
the fish fingers and tartar sauce.
“Bon appetite.” Justin roared.
Ryan no longer viewed Justin’s high spending on such dinners as extravagance as he’d done before. After interacting with the financials of Justin’s consortium of companies, and now, considering his
own six-figure salary, he’d soon host such dinners in his own house on a daily basis.
With his usual tact, so familiar to Ryan, Justin directed the conversation at the table.
It first began on politics, but Katelyn, seizing the first pause, at once turned to Ryan to draw him out of his silence.
“I hear you’re meeting the minister on Monday.” She passed him a serving spoon. “You must be excited.”
Ryan smoothed the napkin on his lap and took the spoon. “Ah, not really. I’ll be excited once we sign the papers.”
Justin looked about the table, perhaps wondering what to start with. “Ryan’s never forgiven the MPs for increasing their salaries.”
Olivia filled her glass with water and held it halfway to her mouth. “But really, it doesn’t make sense at this time when people are dying of famine.”
“No, it doesn’t,” said Katelyn, rolling her eyes to Justin and smiling. “I wish the two of you the best of luck… Richard will not give you any government business if you don’t bribe him.”
“I wish you knew, everyone in the government wants to do business with your husband,” said Ambrose.
Justin chuckled merrily, patting him on the shoulder. “Oh, boy! That’s not true. We just happen to give more scholarships in our CSR than any other company. Perhaps that’s why they want to be
associated with our brand, not me in person.”
Olivia wrapped the chilled wine bottle up to its neck with a napkin and poured Ryan half a glass. “But surely, why do people tend to get corrupt once they enter politics?”
“Please pass me that.” Justin pointed at the salt dish in front of Katelyn, then asked Olivia. “How so?”
Olivia said, “Look at David, as a human rights activist, he made headlines fighting for parliamentarians’ salaries to be slashed, but now as an MP, he was the first to support the bill to increase
Suddenly it hit Ryan. While suffering in the slums as a student, he’d resolved to change the life of his uncle who housed him. But now, he didn’t even know his whereabouts. No difference between
him and the human rights activist turned politician.
Mike, who’d been quiet all the while, spoke up. “No wonder a certain president in the developed world called our politicians shitholes.”
“Oh, don’t remind me about that clown, but somehow, for the first time, I agreed with him. The only thing I didn’t like was his choice of words,” said Layla.
In the way she pouted her lips, Katelyn must have disliked the direction the conversation was headed. She quickly brought it round to another topic, so as to draw everyone into the discussion.
She waved at the butler and gave him an empty dish that held the salads. “Add us some more, please.”
This simple distraction did the trick. The conversation wavered a bit before Justin brought up another topic. “Who saw today’s headlines?”
“Man, the media should get serious. How can they print such gossip?” asked Layla, smiling and exposing her bewitching gap, exactly the same as Olivia’s.
If they’d dressed the same, Ryan would have had trouble differentiating between the two sisters.
“I didn’t see it, what was it all about?” asked Katelyn.
“Secular musician turned Gospel Artist spotted in a brothel,” said Olivia, never taking her eyes off Ryan, with a shade of girlish coquettishness.
Justin held out the wine glass as the butler filled it. “Of course, scandals sell more than good news.”
Katelyn’s mouth went agape. “Goodness me, which musician is this?”
Olivia scooped some chicken onto her plate. “Oliver, I’ve never seen a musician who sings such powerful worship songs.”
“That reminds me, there’s this musician who used to inspire me a lot with his music. But I got the shock of my life when I read his biography,” said Ryan, munching the crunchy fish fingers with his
“What did you discover?” asked Ambrose, his eyes wide.
“He led such a messy life, married more than thirty women, had a string of girlfriends, and died of STI. Yet in his songs, he was the moral conscience of the society; boldly spoke up against
corruption in government and called on the people to stand up for their rights--”
“I know whom you’re talking about… That guy’s great. He’s also my hero. We’re all weak in one way or another and his weakness happened to be on women. That doesn’t take away from his powerful
message. His songs spurred a revolution that changed his country,” said Ambrose.
Mike emptied his glass of water and accidentally thumped it on the table. “True inspiration comes from someone’s good life… Anyone can utter inspirational words.”
“Daddy is my hero, he buys me pizza,” said Natasha, raising a general laugh.
This must have emboldened Carol. She quickly swallowed whatever she was chewing and spoke up. “Mommy is my hero; she can give me anything I want because she’s now in heaven with God.”
“No, she cannot give you anything because she’s dead,” said David.
Tears welled in Carol’s eyes, and her voice trembled. “Yes, daddy said she’s in heaven and watches over us.”
The chatter and laughter suddenly died out and were replaced by the clatter of knives and forks. Everyone seemed to lower their heads.
Ambrose craned his neck and kissed his daughter. “Yes, she’s happy and watching over us.” He shot his son a sharp glance. “Mama’s not dead, she just went to be with the Lord and we’ll join her one
Ryan empathized with Ambrose but, much as it was painful, it was good to explain to the kids some truths about life and not lie.
Justin, perhaps to make light of the moment, stretched his hand and squeezed Carol’s shoulder. “See, daddy will also buy you pizza, and then he’ll be your hero. Right?”
“No, daddy doesn’t buy us good things like sweets, only mama does,” said the little girl with a childlike innocence enveloping her face. “Isn’t it daddy, you always say there’s no money?”
Ambrose’s forehead wrinkled with embarrassment. “No, baby… I’ll be buying you whatever you want so I become your hero, okay?” said Ambrose, pouring water from a glass jug.
“Hey, Carol, have you tasted the fish fingers and tartar sauce,’ said Katelyn, obviously embarrassed on behalf of his brother-in-law. “So yummy, have a little.” She put some on the girl’s plate.
Ryan was enjoying the sumptuous dinner—thick puree soup, nutty fowls, stuffed roast king prawns, his favorite fish fingers fried with crust crumb, and expensive wine. But Carol’s words stabbed a
wound in his heart. However great someone’s achievement, they’d still be worse than useless if they never impacted their children positively. He abhorred Ambrose and pitied Elizabeth’s kids. They
were better off staying with Katelyn.
After dinner, the men went upstairs to play chess while the ladies remained in the living room with the kids. Divided into two parties, each pair sat in a different corner, Ryan playing with Justin
and Mike playing with Ambrose.
Mike’s never-ending laughter and animated chatter confirmed what Ryan had all along suspected—a frosted relationship between dad and son.
An hour later, when they came down, Olivia pulled Ryan aside. “Did you tell him… What did he say?”
“No, I freaked out, did you tell your mum?”
“Not my mum, she’s yours too. Yes, I did tell her.”
“What did she say?”
Justin overheard him and moved closer. “You wanted to tell me something?”
Katelyn whispered in his ear. “You’ll soon be a grandfather.”
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