Curtis’ back was facing me when he picked the photo and studied it. I was behind him so I couldn’t see his facial expression nor the photo he was looking at. I swallowed and braced myself for the moment of truth. I didn’t know if I was ready to come clean but I just had to brace myself. Maybe cook up a story?
Yeah, I slyly thought. That’s what I’ll do. There’s no way I’m letting Curtis know Faides is his daughter, not without knowing the sort of person he is first.
“I’m guessing this little kid is the son you were talking about and this here is your husband.”
“Huh?” I couldn’t fathom what he was talking about.
Curtis turned and showed me the photo. “This is you son right? And this one here is you so I’m guessing this guy is your husband or maybe your baby daddy seeing as you’ve currently got no ring on your finger so you clearly are not married.”
I glanced at the photo for the hundredth time in seconds, not believing what I was seeing. How did a photo of Bob, Fred and I get here? The last time I’d checked, there was Lisa’s photo on the exact spot where Curtis had gotten this one.
And then realization hit me. Mule. My maid Mulenga had a habit of changing photos and the decor at large whenever she pleased. I remember chastising her over the same issue but now I couldn’t help but feel grateful to her. She had just unknowingly saved my neck.
“Um, yeah.” I grabbed the photo defensively and placed it back on the table. “My son Fred was only seven when we took that picture. He’s now 18.”
“He’s now a man I guess. And the other guy in the pic?”
“He used to be my husband.”
“Used to be,” Curtis said as he took a seat, more to himself than me. “What happened, is he dead?”
“Sometimes I wish he was,” I sat on another couch. “but he’s unfortunately alive. I’m not sure anymore though. Oh my, this is complicated. Anyway, him and I got divorced eleven years ago.”
“You wanna talk about it?”
I sighed and hesitantly said, “Actually, yes. But before I do that, let me offer you something to eat. What shall I offer you.”
“Juice, please. Pineapple flavoured if you have any.”
“Let me check what I have then. “I casually said, springing to my feet. I then handed Curtis the DStv decoder remote control. “You can make yourself at home as I prepare something.”
I went to the kitchen where I poured ‘Just’ pineapple juice into two glasses. I had some Tennis biscuit in stock so I put them on a plate. I put everything on a tray and then went back to the living room where I placed the tray on the table.
“That was quick,” commented Curtis as he reached for his juice and grabbed some biscuits. “So, what’s behind your sad face?”
“Mmmmh? Oh, you mean the story behind mine and Bob’s divorce? It’ll just take me ten minutes.” I got my juice and some biscuits too. “So once upon a time Bobby Chizinga and I were madly in love…..”
“He’s a jerk,” was the first thing Curtis uttered when I was done narrating my tale to him.
“I think calling him a jerk is an understatement. The guy’s a dog. The biggest of them all.”
Curtis chuckled and shifted to where I was seated. “You are crying.”
“I am?” I hadn’t realized I was until Curtis mentioned. “Why wouldn’t I cry, Curtis? Bob and Angie literally kidnapped my son. I only thank God Bob left me pregnant cause heaven knows I wouldn’t have forged ahead had it not been for my giving birth to Faides.” I couldn’t believe I’d just told a white lie.
“Ali, I believe everything happens for a reason.”
“You’re right. I’m glad I got to talk to someone. It’s feels like a load has just been lifted off my shoulder.”
“Dee always says talking is the key,” said Curtis cheerfully. “Now let me wipe those tears off your pretty face cause they are acting as a hindrance to your beauty. Unlike John Legend, I don’t lie so please don’t cry cause you don’t look good when you’re crying.”
His last sentence had me smiling sheepishly as he wiped my tears with his too gentle hands for a man.
“And you’ve got bits of biscuit on your lips, let me get em’ off,” said Curtis mischievously and catching me offguard, he planted his lips on mine.
My mind instantly went blank. Curtis’ lips explored mine and I got so into the kiss that with each passing second, it intensified. It had been long since a man had made me feel like a woman. Bob had been a master at doing so. As the kiss got more intense, I felt my knees buckle and emotions that I knew I wasn’t supposed to be feeling began to awaken. That’s when I impulsively pushed Curtis off me, wiping his kiss off my lips using the back of my right hand. “What was that for?” I hotly asked him.
“I am.. I’m sorry for stealing a kiss from you, Ali. That was so unlike me. I just got carried away I guess, I’m sorry once again.”
“It’s fine. But this mustn’t repeat it’s self, please.”
“With how soft and tasty your lips are, I don’t think I’ll be able to hold myself from kissing you. To be honest, the kiss we’ve just shared awoke feelings in me that I didn’t even know existed.”
“How many ladies have you fed this lie to?”
A frown formed on his face. “The problem with you Ali is that you think too lowly of me. I’m not a cassanova anymore and neither am I a liar so please stop making me feel like one.”
“I’m sorry if I offended you, that wasn’t my intention. And not to be rude but I don’t feel comfortable sitting so close to you so-”
“Yeah, I get it.” Curtis went back to where he had been sitting. He grabbed the last piece of biscuit that had remained on the plate as the juice was now a thing of the past. “So concerning our becoming friends, what have you decided?”
“I think there’s no harm in us becoming friends,” I leaned back in my seat, studying Curtis’ face. He was so cute and the kiss I’d just shared with him made me feel insecure. Honestly speaking, I didn’t know if I would resist his charm for much longer.
Curtis was wearing a broad smile. “I also think there’s no harm in that. I think you’re a wonderful woman, Alicia, and I just want to get to know you more so there’s no need for you to fear me. I don’t eat people, do I? So now that we’re officially friends, for starters, I’m sleeping over.”
“No you’re not, why would you do such?”
“Because I want you to be around as I start writing my next novel. Your story has inspired me so much that I think I’d spice it up and edit it here and there and boom, we have ourselves a romance novel with a touch of suspence and mystery here and there,” he paused to catch his breath. “Ali, go bring me a notebook and pen.”
It had been two days since Curtis had spent the night at my place and I was proud of myself as nothing intimate had happened between him and I, I had seen to that. After Curtis had left the following morning, I had done a photo cleaning. By photo cleaning I mean I had ridden my house of all photos of Lisa and hidden them in a safe place. At least now I would rest assured knowing Curtis would not find out Faides was his daughter any time soon.
Today, I got back from my night shift as exhausted as hell, took a shower and then a nap.
It was past 14:00hrs when I finally woke up. Faides was seated beside me, she had obviously been watching me sleep.
“It’s not right to be this obsessed with someone,” I sweetly told her. “I know you’ve been watching me sleep.”
“Actually, yes.” she giggled. “But I’ve not been doing that for long as I had company.”
“Company?” I immediately sat up in bed. Mule wasn’t yet back so what company was Faides talking about? “Was it uncle Baison?”
“No, mummy. But you’re almost there, it was an uncle. Now please guess the name.”
“Faides, you know I’m not good at guessing so please just tell me.”
“Come on, just one try, mummy.”
“Will you tell me the name or not, huh Faides?” I irritably said in a sharp tone.
“Okay. It was uncle Curtis. He’s a nice uncle, I like him.”
Curtis? What time had he even come to my house?
“Faides, how many times I’m I going to tell you not to let strangers into the house?”
“But mummy, I’ve seen him with you a couple of times so he’s not a stranger. Besides, he was kind enough to bring you flowers and some chocolates for me.”
“And you got the chocolates?”
She shrugged. “He brought my favourite saying Dairy Milk’s is his favourite too. I don’t see any harm in me getting chocolate from your friend.”
“You don’t see any harm?” I was on the brink of yelling. “Faides, I’m your mother and you’ll do as I say. First of all, never get nor eat stuff without my consent and never should you stay in the company of a man in my absence.”
“No ifs and buts, young lady. Have I made myself clear?”
I could tell Faides was mad at me but I didn’t care. As in, hadn’t Diana been defiled by her own uncle at the age of ten? I’m not saying Curtis is capable of such but hey, prevention is better than cure, not so? Plus I was feeling insecure knowing Curtis and Faides had been having a good time whilst I was sleeping. I don’t know where I got the paranoia from but I feared if they spent more time together, Curtis might figure out Faides was his daughter and then what would I do?
“Before I forget,” said Faides, disrupting my thoughts. “Uncle Curtis said that I should wake you up at 14:30 and tell you to prepare yourself and me as he’s coming to pick us up at 16:00hrs.”
“And take us where?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. And oh, your flowers are in a vase on the dining table.” with that, Faides walked out of my bedroom.
So Curtis had plans of taking us out? Well, I hadn’t burgained for such so my mind hurriedly brewed something up. I told Faides to take a shower and get dressed, I did the same too. Faides had been hinting at wanting us to go and buy her this new dress that she had seen in Edgar’s so I told her that’s where we were headed. So excited was Faides that she forgot all about Curtis coming to pick us up and she forgave me for reprimanding her back at home.
I put my phone on flight mode as Faides and I shopped as I knew Curtis would definitely give me a call after finding no one at my place.
After we were done shopping, I took Faides to the Cinema where we watched a movie. After the movie I drove around in circles that it was almost 20:00hrs when I finally decided to head home. I was driving at top speed as Faides loved it whenever I was cruising my car and I was in the mood to please her today so yeah, I was driving a bit too fast.
“Mum, I’m having trouble opening this bottle of Fanta,” pouted Faides.
Unfafazed, I said, “You can have the juice at home, baby. Besides you’ve had way-”
I didn’t get to finish my sentence as a figure materialized in the middle of the road. It had literally appeared out of nowhere and it was standing there, fixed on the spot.
I hit the brakes but it was quite too late. I had just run over a man. Faides screamed and so did I.
“Stay here,” I was shaking from head to toe as I told Faides this. “Don’t come out, okay?”
She frantically nodded her head.
As my car was no longer in motion, I got out. The man I had just hit was lying on the tarred road with his face facing down. The headlights were illuminating him so I had to turn him in a bid to see if he was seriously injured. With all the courage I could muster, I turned the man so that we were now face to face.
“Jesus, I know this guy,” I muttered to myself, taking a few steps back and shocked to see who it was. “Oh God, I hope he isn’t dead.”