Unscripted love Chapter 97 - Mzansi Stories

Wednesday, September 14


Unscripted love Chapter 97


Chalk and Cheese
I strode down the hall towards my room as if the hounds of hell were behind me. I bumped into one of the maids, she apologized profusely and gazed at the floor. I told her to get out of my sight and she scrammed. It took all of my control not to slam the door behind me. What the hell had I just done?
I was good at gauging women and their responses to me. Maria had, with her blushes, seemed very willing but I had read her wrong. She was attracted to me and I thought she was playing coy but she wasn’t, she was simply innocent. She made me want to be the man she thought I was.

I rubbed my hand over my face and groaned. I pictured her as she had opened the door for me. Her head was wrapped in stockings for reasons unknown to me and her eyes were heavy from sleep. They were rich toffee brown. Dark caramel skin never looked so beautiful on a woman. Even at 44 Thando’s mother still outshone her.
Maria wasn't beautiful in the classical way, no flowing golden curls or ivory skin; no piercing eyes of green. She was shorter than average and certainly larger than a catwalk model, but in her ordinariness she was stunning.
She had been like a spitting kitten trying to get me out of her room and I was afraid I’d scared her away. Perhaps I wouldn’t have pounced so soon if I hadn’t touched her hand?
But that kiss. She had been so…. receptive only receptive. Generally by that point it was a two way street and women were more than receptive, they kissed back.
I took a shaky breath and answered the phone that had been blowing off insistently in my pocket.
“Speak.” I commanded.
“Blaze. When is Henze getting out? This shit is costing me a hundred million per m-”
My phone was ripped from my ear, I turned to look at the person who’d grabbed my phone and glared angrily at Emily. “You don’t want to know what I will do if you don’t give me my phone and get the fuck out of my room.” I thundered.
“I see you are fucking peasants now. An Illiterate nurse is stooping a bit low don’t you think?” Emily sneered.
I wanted to rip her head off as rage filled my belly. I felt my ears getting hot. I glared at her then spat out "GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY ROOM. In fact get your shit and get the hell out of my house."
Emily sneered at me then laughed only adding fuel to my wrath.
"You think this is funny?" I snapped.
She glared at me with hatred in her cruel dull eyes. "You are an extremely stupid man. Aren't you? I’m not going anywhere, we both know that you need me."
“Am I, now?” I took a step towards her. “Do stupid people know that sudden infant death syndrome, sometimes known as cot death, is the commonest cause of death in infants?”
“W-what are you saying?” she stuttered. “You wouldn’t.”
I chuckled. “You are the smart one…..You know exactly what I am saying. I was sitting there, watching Maria with that child last night and I realized that Hailey-Hope is the tranquilizer that I needed to tame the tiger. You have been running rampage like a deranged ape, hooting and hollering about how you can destroy me. All along I had everything to lose. I finally have this precious little princess that will put you in your place.”
“You wouldn’t kill a child.” She stated as a matter of fact.
“I didn’t hesitate to organize a hit on your first husband at your request and I won’t hesitate to get rid of her to make you feel the pain that you continue to cause me. Don’t you know by now that I will go to any lengths to get whatever I want?
I found you with nothing and you will leave with nothing. You think you are so smart but you were too preoccupied with spreading your legs and fucking my best friend to notice that everything is in my name - the accounts, the houses, the investments, the cars. EVERYTHING. I have taken the liberty to remove your name from the joint accounts, change the locks to the volt, block your access to the investments and call people in to get your shit out. If I find you here this time tomorrow, you would have signed the death certificate.”
“Joel, leave the baby out of this. Please.” She begged and sat down on the edge of my bed.
I looked down at her without saying a word.
"Joel, my love, you say that like it means nothing. How can you be so cold?" Emily kept her eyes steady, resting on my face like they were home, but just briefly, the sorrow already building. “What happened to you, Joel? What hardened your heart? The man you were, the one I married, would have kicked your ass all over this God damn room for talking to me like that and thinking those heinous thoughts. You were someone. You were that guy, the one who had the principles and the backbone.” She hissed.
“This was your decision. All of this is your doing. You broke me, then attacked the pieces, so full of rage that I couldn't function after what you did.”
“Joel….. I am sorry. I was drunk. It was a mistake. I-I thought it was you.”
“HOGWASH!” I screamed.
Emily stayed rooted to the spot, the breeze moved her hair softly away from the cheekbones that had become so much more prominent over the previous weeks. Her features buckled just slightly before she spoke again, the only betrayal of her grief. “I’ll leave.” Emily's face was paler than I ever recalled it being, as if her blood was shrinking away from her presence, her lips almost ghostly despite the warm sun.
I broke my gaze, preferring instead to rest my eyes on the street behind. Then I spoke with the same voice I reserved for rivals, "If you go to the police you will get her head in a box delivered on your doorstep."
Then I turned back to her, face set like an adversary, eyes cold, muscles tense. Emily broke a little more inside - the pieces becoming shards. For in that moment she'd seen my inner monster lock onto her.
“So, are you going to tell me what’s going on with you and Joel?” I asked Our Love as we strolled along a stone wall that ran the length of the estate. We usually went out for a morning jog with Hailey-Hope but I opted for a walk that morning because I wanted to find out what my wife was hiding from me.
“What you should be asking is what’s going on with Joel and my mother.” She snapped a reply.
I was not derailed by her harsh tone. “Don’t you think you were a little harsh on your mom?”
“Harsh?” she huffed. “She was waving Hailey’s vagina around in front of Joel. She needed to be addressed.”
I just shrugged, trying to see fault in Maria’s actions but not seeing any. “She was changing Hailey’s nappy and Joel just so happened to the in the same room. My mother changes Hailey’s nappy in front of Zain all the time and you never complain.” I frowned as I thought about all the unanswered questions I had. “I know Joel pushed you. I don’t know why you refuse to admit that.”
“He threatened to kill Hailey if I testify against his business associates. He told me to get on the stand and say I forgot even though I remember everything so vividly. I didn’t tell you because you ran to your mother the last time I told you not to tell anyone about the raid.” She said, stopping to look down at the stroller.
A lump formed in my throat and my heart hammered against my chest. Would Joel really kill Hailey? Was he that desperate to save his business that he would take the life of an innocent child?
“I only told my mother about that because -”
“I know why you told her. You don’t have to repeat it a thousand times.” Our Love interjected.
“This is different. I wouldn’t have told my mother about it and I sure as hell wouldn’t have agreed to come and live here when my mom asked us to move in. Why would I agree to serve my child on a silver platter?” I snapped.
“I thought Joel was out of the country.” She stated.
“He flies in and out on a whim. I’ll tell my mother that we are leaving today.” I decided.
Thando hesitated. “I want to leave. What are we going to do if she stops breathing in the middle of the night?”
“Baby… Hailey is fine. We’ve been here for two weeks, we haven’t had any incidents. Remember the scripture we read this morning?” I held her hand with one hand and pushed the stroller with the other. “Let us not worry about anything; instead let us pray about everything. We will tell God what we need, and thank him for all he has done for us. Then we will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds.”
She smiled. “Your transformation surprises me at times,” she admitted.
“Are you going to commit another crime by perjuring yourself on the stand?” I asked, looking out into the horizon.
“What do you think I should do?” She quivered.
“I think it’s time to stop lying and committing crimes to hide other crimes that might catch up with you later. Hailey-Hope and I need you. I do not want a wife that is behind bars and she doesn’t want a mother that’s incarcerated. Don’t let Joel bully you, tell the truth.”
“Tell the whole truth? As in tell them about Joel as well?” She asked, inexact.
“I said tell the truth, I did not say poke the dragon.”
She shook her head and smiled at my good natured teasing. “Okay, I will tell them what they already know and I will trust God to protect our family.”
“Good, now walk in front so that I can feast my eyes on that ass in those spandex.” I laughed as she howled like a chimp.
“The thirst is real.” She joked.
“I am dying of starvation. Has it really not healed after a whole month?” I asked, running my finger on her waistband.
She laughed and swatted my arm. “Just two more weeks. You won’t die.”
Two weeks never sounded like such a long time. “Okay. Let’s go and pack out stuff. We will leave after the party.” I said kissing her cheek and believing that all would work out in the end.
“Did you get vibes from my mom and Joel?” She asked, unexpectedly.
“Yeah, giddy teenagers that like each other vibes.”
I tittered. “I got the vibe that Hailey draws out of everyone that’s around her. Have you seen Zain around her?”
“Zain and Hailey have this connection that I can’t explain hey. Funny that you noticed it too. But I am telling you, I saw that spark in their eyes.” She said.
I was certain that my wife was imagining things, the two wouldn’t even be able to have a conversation for five minutes let alone get to a point of actually liking each other. My mother in-law and Joel were as different as chalk and cheese.
The voice that boomed from behind me startled me.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Joel said, stepping into my room. “What’s all of this?” He asked, gesturing at my clothes sprawled across the bed.
“I am packing. We are moving back home after Uluthando’s birthday party today. You should see how the dining room has been set up.” I gushed. “When Emily said the theme is royalty I didn’t think she would go all out to make it look like a banquet fit for real life royalty. Caterers and people doing decor are crawling all over the place, there are so many trucks outside – I haven’t seen something like it, really.”
“Trust Emily to go overboard but I am sure they will have fun. To think Hailey-Hope is a month old, imagine what they’ll plan for her sixteenth birthday party?” He grinned and picked up a framed photo of Uluthando.
I smiled warmly at Joel. “You said ‘them’ like you are not part of the family. Are you coming to the party?”
“I wasn’t invited.” Joel set the photo back on the mantel then turned towards me with his hands in his pockets.
“I don’t mean to act like some shrink when I am not but you strike me as a person who has been so completely alone for years, it’s as if you have to carry some heavy burdens and no one is there for you to share them with.” I was careful not to overstep my boundaries or offend him.
Joel gave me a thoughtful look then looked back at the photo. “That’s very perceptive of you.” He said, not bothering to deny my interpretation.
I shrugged, crossing my arms in front of me. I was suddenly cold in my sundress. “It’s something I recognize having been there myself.”
His gaze swiveled back to mine as if he was going to deny what I had any real worries but the look in my eyes must have stopped him. He frowned watching me. He seemed to see all that I didn’t want him to see and it made me nervous, so I moved to pick up a shirt and folded it before neatly packing it in my suitcase.
“Observing you and your husband fro-”
“Ex-husband.” I corrected.
“Observing you and your ex-husband from a distance at the funeral gave me the impression that you were in sync with one another. It’s hard to believe that you felt like you were alone.” Joel stated.
“I was that good at hiding the true state of affairs from everyone, including our children. I’ve had to beg, grovel and look like a savage just to plug the holes and hide the shame that was hidden behind our bedroom doors.
Nobody knows that Mayihlome gambled his entire paycheck in one weekend on the regular. He took out loans from all the banks you can think of and I had to pay for that when loan sharks came after us. Nobody knows that he used the money Levi paid for lobola to pay lobola for his duck and used the rest to put down a deposit on a house for her when I gave him the money to pay off our mortgage.
You know, when I was young and impressionable and got married in community of property I never knew that one day I would get a call from the bank, calling upon me to pay for my husband’s mistresses’ car seeing as he missed a few installments, when he never even entertained the idea of buying me my own car.
When I thought my daughter was dead I wanted to do something special for her favorite charity with the money she had in her bank account but I had to use the money to pay for Forgiveness’ car seeing as I am jointly and severally liable for all the debt Mayihlome rakes up.
I want to get a job in Johannesburg so that I can be closer to my children but I can’t get a job because he has a horrendous credit record, I’m roped in because what’s his is mine including his debt. Nobody knows any of that.”
“You are a good woman, Maria.” He said.
Hearing my name in a German accent made me smile.
“You have a beautiful smile.” I stated even though I could see pain through his smile.
“Do I?” he gave a teasing smile and a glare that made me go weak in the knees.
“Don’t do that.” I snapped suddenly, completely taken aback by myself.
Joel’s grin widened and his eyes took on a little sparkle. “Don’t do what?” he asked innocently.
“Smile like that.” I snapped again.
“It’s just a simple smile, Maria.” The way he said my name made me shiver.
“It’s anything but simple, just like that kiss was anything but simple.” I turned my back to him as soon as I said it. I’d never wanted the floor to open up and swallow me so badly in my life. I’d been trying to treat the kiss as nonchalantly as he had.
“My dear Maria, that kiss was very simple.”
I swung around to look at him. Was he teasing me?
His gaze ran from the top of my head to the tips of my bare toes then settled on my lips. I almost gasped at the fire I saw in his eyes. Those were anything but cold now.
Suddenly frightened, I pulled my bible out of the nightstand as if it would protect me from the blaze that was lighting up within.
“It’s hard for me to believe that someone who has learned so many of life’s hard lessons is so obviously as innocent as you are.” He whispered.
I suddenly felt bare and wondered what it was about him that made me open up to him so easily. I felt happy and sad at the same time and I could feel tears prickling the back of my eyes as I gave a wobbly smile that didn’t quite reach my eyes. “Some hard lessons keep you innocent.”
I bravely met his gaze. “I need to finish packing and you need to get back to work or something.” I turned to leave the room as quickly as I could before he would see me cry but he grabbed my hand and pulled me to him.
“Why don’t we go out for dinner tonight? That’s if your stomach will have enough space after the royal banquet.”
I giggled. “That sounds like fun, pick me up at 8? Do you know where Levi’s house is?”
“I do. Every good stalker knows where his prey lives.” He joked.
I laughed. “Well, I will be honored to have the pleasure of your company tonight.”
He chuckled and left the room as quietly as he came in. I focused on packing my clothes and pretending that the extra beat of my heart was due to the exercise and not the warm sound of Joel’s laughter.
I took about a million pictures of Uluthando at her royal feast. She looked like a deer caught in headlights as she met all her family members from her father’s side of the family and my sister who was in town, visiting her daughter, Sbahle.
I was delighted to hear that a boy by the name of Alunamda sent a letter, stating that he saw a flower in the Zulu garden and he wanted to send his uncles. With Futhi’s help, we went through Alu’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram accounts. My sister and I were thoroughly impressed by the self-respecting advocate who didn’t have a single picture of random ducks on his accounts. It was clear that Sbahle was his one and only and he loved her dearly. It was a pity that he wasn’t available for the party because he was working but Sbahle promised to bring him around to meet his niece soon.
I made the mistake of telling my sister that I was meeting someone for dinner and she turned it into a bigger deal than it was. As we trekked into Levi’s house with my last suitcase and her overnight bag she was teasing me about my date.
“It’s not a date.” I repeated for the umpteenth time.
“Is he hot? What are you going to wear? Where did you meet him?” Tryphina bombarded.
I shrugged. It was just a simple dinner, I didn’t feel the need to dress up but Tryphina insisted that I had to.
When 8 o’clock rolled around I was convinced that I was way overdressed. Tryphina who’d packed for every occasion had loaned me her red dress that stopped two fingers above my knees because Tryphina was a bit shorter than me. As for the shoes I was at a loss until I thought of Thando, who luckily, wore the same size as me. We were able to dig up a pair of kitten heels that weren’t as high as the stilts she usually balanced on.
That led to Thando burying me in questions about where I was headed but I remained mum. I was the parent so I didn’t owe her any explanations. Thando finally let up when I told her I was meeting a friend. Was Joel my friend? I wasn’t really sure what we were.
Eventually though, I was ready and running very late. “Hawu aunty, how did you manage to hide those legs and that booty my whole life?” Sbahle teased as I went down the steps.
I heard a whistle from behind me and turned to look at my daughter cradling Uluthando in her arms. “Sifelani.”
“Will you two stop it,” I blushed and rushed to the door. “Don’t wait up.”
The uber driver Joel sent to fetch me had been patiently waiting for me and he didn’t show a sign of annoyance when I finally emerged from the house and climbed into the unassuming Sonata. The drive to the restaurant was short and I did my best not to fall asleep in the car. My sleepless night and active day rendered me exhausted.
Joel and I settled into a booth at the back of the restaurant away from everyone else before Joel finally spoke. “You look lovely, Maria.”
“You don’t look too bad yourself.”
He laughed. “Well, I tried.”
“I don’t know how I didn’t notice before but you have a nice neck.”
“Nobody has told me that before,” he said, touching his neck with a grin on his face.
Our polite banter was interrupted by the host waitress introduced herself and went on to tell us about the selection of butter he’d placed on the table and tell us about the seasonal meals that weren’t on the menu. Joel insisted that I try the caramel butter and I did. It was okay but I preferred the simple things in life that I knew and was accustomed to.
There was silence as Joel studied the menu and chose our starters, main and dessert.
He looked up. “Are you sure you want me to choose?”
“Yeah,” I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was on offer and I left it up to bin before I ordered something ezongixaka. He placed our order and I was fine with whatever venison was long as it was well done. I wasn’t so sure about him jokingly ordering duck for starters.
He looked up absentmindedly from his phone. “Hmm? Sorry, I know I am being rude. I just need to send out this quick e-mail.”
“Why did you say that Emily is the only version of family that you know?” I asked. I’d been trying not to ask the question but my curiosity had won in the end.
He frowned. “Why do you ask?”
“Because I want to know?” I didn’t have a reason.
He looked as though he was mentally debating whether he’d answer the question. He had a faraway look as he was deciding what to tell me and what not to.
Finally with a sigh he set his cellular phone in his pocket and stood from his side of the table, walked over to my couch and settled next to me. I watched him, waiting patiently as if I had all the time in the world. The light music cut off and the room was filled with quiet whispers from the other patriots. I had to smile at the dramatic air to the room, like he was about to reveal deep dark secrets.
“My parents were shot in front of me when I was 8. I had no other known relatives so I landed in the foster care system. No one really wants to take on an eight year old full time so by the time I was seventeen I’d had 12 different foster homes. Some were good, some weren’t. I met bad people and I met good people like Henze, who I regard or rather regarded as a brother.”
I gave a little shiver and rubbed his arm.
“There were some really scary homes where trust was a huge issue, and I had to always be on my guard from other children and the adults in the house as well. I don’t trust very easily and I always have to feel like I have some sort of hold over someone to truly believe that they will do what they said they would.”
He realized that my eyes were glazing as he spoke. “I don’t usually tell people because they look at me differently once they know, as if I am somehow damaged.”
I gave him a warm smile, “You, my dear Joel, are not damaged. You are overly polite, graceful, considerate of others, patient, and too smart for your own good, but not damaged. Trust me, I have seen my fair share of damaged people.”
“Well thank you for saying that.” He said with a smile. “Now you know most of my secrets and I find that to be simply exhausting so let’s rather focus on getting to know Maria.”
“Which ones don’t I know, Joel?” I asked softly, watching him.
Joel gave me a weak smile, I knew I wouldn’t get the ones he held closest to his heart.
“A man needs a few secrets.” He said and sailed on to a more general discussion on our hobbies. Well, he said working was a hobby and I grilled him on that and he told me that cooking wasn’t a hobby either.
The food was shockingly ghastly so I had a few bits of this and that while he went on about how nice the food was.
“You haven’t really touched your food. Too full from the party?” He asked, taking note of me pushing pits and pieces around the plate.
I shook my head. “It’s not to my taste.”
“What’s your favorite restaurant?”
“KFC.” I stated.
Joel looked at me as if I should have my head examined. “Seriously?”
“Seriously. Streetwise two pap hits the spot every time.”
He chuckled. “You prefer pap over food prepared by the best chefs in the country?”
I looked down at my broken nails as I spoke, “You laugh but that’s what I like.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh. That was actually very rude of me.”
He sighed when I remained stubbornly silent. He stood and took my hand. “Let’s go there and grab something to eat. I don’t want you to go to bed hungry tonight.”
“But… your food?”
“I can’t eat this and eat pap in one sitting.”
I smiled up at him and pulled him back down. “We’ll go there on our second…. meeting.”
He smirked. “Oh so there will be another ‘meeting’”
Our flirtatious glances were interrupted by the waitress who was very interested in Joel and tried to flirt with him even though I was sitting right next to him.
After he’d cleared his plate and I stomached as much of the dessert as I could we both fell silent for a while, lost in our own thoughts.
“Joel?….” I began then I stopped.
“Ask, Maria, you won’t be satisfied until you ask whatever it is you want to ask.” I looked at my drink, tracing the edge of the glass with my finger.
“Emily?” My voice was barely a whisper.
“We’re done. She moved out today.” Joel’s voice lacked any emotion and his face was mask.
“How? Last night you said she didn’t want to move out.”
“We spoke this morning.”
I nodded when he didn’t go further. I guessed there was more to the story but it wasn’t my business so I didn’t ask any more questions.
“So, besides work what’s keeping you in Durban?” He changed the subject.
He reached into his pocket and took out a business card. I looked at it as he slid it across the table. “This is a dear friend of mine who is a plastic surgeon that so happens to be looking for a nurse to help him in his practice. I’ve put in a good word for you and he owes me a favor so the job is yours if you want it. No more night shift. You won’t be all alone in another province. You won’t be exploited and you will actually earn a descent salary.”
“What’s descent?”
“1.2 million per annum. It’s not much but its descent.”
That was far more than what I was earning.
“When is the interview?”
“No interview. You will be on three months’ probation so you will have to prove yourself in those 3 months.”
“Why are you doing this?” I asked, unbelieving.
“Because when I look at you I see someone that has been carrying some heavy burdens and no one is there for you to share them with. Let me ease off the load.”
I looked straight into his eyes, preempting what he could have wanted in return. “I don’t want to be one of your friends with benefits.” He raised his eyebrow up in question. “I asked Sbahle what is means and I’m not that type.”
He took a sip of his wine. “Well good. I don’t want us to be friends with benefits either.”
“What do you want?” I asked, my face a breath away from him.
“I don’t know yet. All I know is that I am in like with you.”
“Thank you for pulling a few strings and getting me a job. Your flaming chocolate lava cake is getting cold.” I deviated but my blush said it all.
The next hour flew by so quickly it felt like it was just a minute. Joel made me laugh until I cried with his dry humor. When we got out of the restaurant I gave him a brotherly hug good night and started walking towards the cab waiting to take me home.
“Did you have a good time?” Joel asked from behind me.
I stopped in my tracks and turned to look at him. “Yes, I did.” I gave him a genuine smile.
“I’m flying back tomorrow and something tells me that I am going to miss you.” Joel moved towards me, placing his fingers in my hair.
“Something tells me that I will miss you too,” I closed my eyes as his fingers probed my scalp, giving me goose bumps. Then his hands moved down my head, then my neck and moved over my shoulder to my back, causing my body to come into full contact with his.
“Maria, look at me.” His voice was husky.
I looked up to his face that was hidden in the shadows but when he leaned forward I saw the flame in his eyes that I’d seen hours before as his lips came crashing into mine in an unforgiving kiss.
This time I didn’t remain passive. I wound my arms around his neck and pushed my body harder against his. I could feel his response to me as he deepened the kiss. Joel had started to back me towards his car when my phone shrilled.
I knew it was Thando or Tryphina, wondering where I was. Joel broke the kiss and looked at me for a second, as if he was debating hauling me into his car and closing the door to the rest of the world. I knew I would object to going home with him the same night his wife moved out.
My phone started ringing again and Joel gave me his crooked grin, “Your visa had clearly expired. Good night, Maria.” Then he took five steps to my ride and opened the door for me, I climbed in and closed the door behind me. I answered the call and told my sister I was on my way back home.
“There you are. How was it?” Tryphina was sitting in the living room, clearly waiting up for me.
“It was fun.” I said, repeating what I’d told Joel earlier.
Tryphina just looked at me with a knowing look on her face. “I’ll let you get some sleep, I want to hear everything he said and what you said in response tomorrow.” She said moving to her room.
I walked into my own room with my fingers on my lips. Had I really just kissed him back like that? I got ready for bed in a daze. A beep indicting that someone was thinking of me hit my phone just as my head hit the pillow. I smiled and got the inclination that the night was still young.

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