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The last smile Episode 27

When Raymond left the main house, his intention was to go into the gym as he usually does but he found himself opening another door. Even as he stepped into the room, he could not believe that his legs had brought him there. There was a time when art was his life and he could h@rdly do without drawing or painting in a day. But he hadn’t lifted a paintbrush or a drawing pencil in years and he wondered if the gift was still there. He swallowed as he traced some of the paintings with his f!ng£rtips, drawing dust from them. He remembered with a smile that Lucy also traced them that way.
Raymond took calculated steps towards that stunning painting on the wall and took it in his hands. That painting was the last one he had done. He painted it some weeks before his parents’ death. His parents had been having marital problems which took only God’s intervention to manage. They had been on the brink of divorce and it affected everyone terribly.
It all started when a guy came into the house, claiming that he was Mr. James’ son. Everyone had @ssumed that he was mad or on the verge of madness but they had received the shock of their lives when their dad confirmed the news. His wife hadn’t been able to comprehend the fact that she had a step-son, especially one that was almost the same age with her first son, Kelvin. Raymond and his siblings were also very shocked to find out that they had a step brother. He had destroyed the peace in the house, all bent on destroying the happiness and love which was resident in the house. Even after everyone, including his mum had come to accept the boy and forgive the mistake made by their father; the guy was still bent on destroying the family. He framed up their dad until there was no trust again.
The day everything was resolved, it was a dream come true for Raymond and his siblings because one of the people who connived with the guy came to confess and everything was resolved. He had begun that painting of his parents, telling a story of the pain they went through during that period but they never got to see the painting. He had anticipated and foreseen the smile on their faces when he handed the picture to them but it never happened. The crash burned in his memory.
For the first time since the crash, Raymond really cried. He hadn’t been able to cry. At times, it would be a few drops which he would control but he had never broken down in tears because he had feared that he would cry himself to death. It had taken the strength of Raymond and his two brothers to console their two sisters. He wondered what would have happened if they had taken the girls to the crash venue.
He turned and saw the unfinished sketch on the canvas which was still on the easel. His hands balled into fists as he willed himself to walk towards it. He swallowed h@rd. That was the only thing that came to his mind after the crash. After the incident, he had ran to painting, seeking refuge, hoping that it would make him forget but the opposite was what it gave him. Every time he picked up his pencil to sketch, he found himself sketching the burnt and frozen bodies he had seen. It scared him as hell and after the fifth try; he ran out of the room and never returned.
He replaced the canvas with a blank one and took out a pencil. He took a deep breath and prayed silently that his nightmare would not resurface. He had only one image on his head as he started to sketch again.
Teju arrived at the hotel feeling satisfied. She was hundred percent sure that everything would be over in the next two days. She was always happy whenever something was going according to plan. She knocked on the door of Deolu’s room excitedly and was glowing when he opened the door.
“Well, I don’t need to ask how things went” he said as a form of greeting.
“Hi” Teju responded instead and brushed past him into the room. She looked like a kid whose mother just bought a baby doll.
“How did it go?” he asked.
“Thought you did not need to ask” she sat on the chair. “I am sure it went well.” She answered and went ahead to narrate everything to Deolu, right from the second she entered the station to the time she left. Deolu smiled through it all but was surprised by the slight annoyance and irritation he felt when she mentioned the stares and filthy comments she received from the policemen. “I was not too happy putting that man through all that” Teju confessed. “He was only trying to help his brother”
“He is a conniving beast. If not for your insistence, I would take him to court along with that b******”
Teju understood. “I was right. He knows where he is and had been protecting him but he loves his family more. He would not want to lose his career, family and everything by protecting a criminal. He risks the penalty of death if he is caught with this act.”
“Lawyers” he murmured with admiration and Teju grinned. He hadn’t seen her this lively in days and the great happiness he felt because of her good mood surprised him. “You are here now. I want to hear everything about that guy who deliberately gave up a good thing. He must be a fool, I am not sorry to say that”
Teju sighed. She had been contented with keeping her personal life out but Deolu had made it clear that he was not going to back off. She opened her mouth and started narrating everything that happened, exactly the way she had told Lucy. Lucy had insulted the living daylight out of Tunde that she even became happy. There is always this ability and power in a woman’s tongue that could turn any saint into a villain within the twinkling of an eye. As she told Deolu, she felt Goosebumps on her skin as she shivered in remembrance. Unknown to her, tears rolled down her cheeks and it was not until Deolu wiped it away that she noticed them. Wiping them away brought fresh tears and Deolu had to hold her. He was quite used to crying women but seeing the strong and independent Teju crying tore at Deolu’s heart painfully and he also started raining insults on Tunde who was not physically pres£nt.
Everything became quiet some minutes later but Teju was still in Deolu’s arms. She started to pull away but she looked at him and became very alarmed by how close they were. Their faces were only inches apart and she could not pull back. Deolu bent his head and covered her mouth with his in a firm klzz. It took Teju some seconds to realize what was going on. She was being klzzed by her best friend’s fiancé! She flew out of his arms and did not pause before swinging her palm to connect with Deolu’s cheeks.
“You b******. You are just as evil as Tunde. How dare you klzz your fiancée’s best friend?” she asked herself the same question.
Deolu was as stunned as Teju. He did not know what devil had made him act before thinking. He did not know what he was doing until he had done it. Now, the damage had been done and he was too alarmed to utter a word. Teju looked at him like he was a demon incarnate. “I thought you loved Lucy. How dare you?” before Deolu could open his mouth, Teju’s phone rang and she picked it with shaky hands, yelling hello into the mouth piece.
She calmed down a bit when she listened to the other person, then she managed a shaky smile. “You’ve made the right decision sir. I would be there tomorrow” she hung up and stared at Deolu. She didn’t know if she was angrier at herself or Deolu. He is a man and she was the woman who should know better than to cry in the arms of a man – her best friend’s hubby.
“I don’t need you here. Please leave if you have enough dignity in you to do that. As you can see, I have everything under control and I can take care of myself” she turned towards the door.
“It is not like that Teju. I am-” Teju slammed the door h@rd. And Deolu blinked. “Sorry” he finished silently as he held his head which had developed a splitting headache.
Tinuke opened the door of Raymond’s sitting room without knocking. She wanted to see what Raymond had been up to. The first person she saw was Vicky and she frowned.
“What are you doing here?” Tinuke asked.
Vicky looked at her like she had lost her mind. Firstly, she entered without knocking and to make matters worse, she is asking her, Vicky, what she was doing in her brother’s house. Vicky clapped her head as she laughed. Her encounter with Duke fuelled her anger the more. “Oh my…” she said in her foreign voice. “You are asking me what I am doing in my brother’s house? How hilarious. Now, what the hell are you doing here?” she asked glaring. She had always hated Tinuke for her guts and audacity.
“I am here to see my fiancé” Tinuke said boldly.
Vicky laughed. “You mean, ex-fiancé”
“What are you doing here Tinuke” Raymond growled and Tinuke spun to face Ray who was at the entrance. She composed herself and moved forward to hug him.
“Baby……” she drawled as she went towards him with open hands. Ray blocked her advance with his hand,
“Answer the damn question. What the hell are you doing in my house?” he yelled now.
“I am here to give you the good news baby” she was all smiles.
“No news from you can be good” he declared.
“Was about to say the same” Vicky added.
“I am sure you would love this Ray” she paused for effect. “I am pregnant”


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