Hope knocked twice before she entered my room. I was dressed, ready to go out.
“Where are you going to?" she asked.“I need some time alone.”
She walked close to my side and sat on the bed. “I know you are not happy because of father’s health. I am also sad about this but you need to be a man and be ready to take care of things.”
“Are you aware dad wants to give me everything?”
She smiled at me genuinely and I sat close to her. “Yes and I don’t have a problem with it. I have my own money and I have no child to inherit my properties. I am contended with what I have.”
I touched her on the back to rub her gently. “If you have faith in God, you will have children.” I said to her. “You have to tell mother the truth about your condition. You look like a bad person for telling her you don’t want children.”
“Peter and I are planning to adopt very soon.” she said.
“That will not make mother change her attitude towards you. It could degenerate everything.”
“I don’t care anymore. I do not care what she feels about me again. I have Peter, you and father’s love. It’s more than enough for me.”
My eyebrows uplifted. “You did not mention Hillary’s name.”
She shook her head. “I don’t think Hillary loves anyone but herself. I am even surprise she agreed to check up on Peter when I travel next week.”
I stared at her dazed at her statement. “You want her to check up on Peter?”
“Should that be a problem?” she asked surprised because of the look on my face.
I changed my facial expression sharply and cleared my throat. “No. I will go with her if you want. Two heads are better than one.”
“I will appreciate that. Peter will be happy to have the both of you keep him company. You should be close to my husband but you always keep your distance.”
I smiled at her. “I will be close to Peter if that is what you want.”
She sighed and held my two hands. “You know I love you very much, right?”
“Hope I know you love me and I do too.” I surveyed her facial expression. “I know that look on your face, there’s something you want to say that could make me angry.”
“Please don’t marry Melissa.”
I released my hands from her instantly and rose on my feet. ‘I knew it!"
“Do you want to walk out on me?” she asked me.
“No.” I replied. "But let’s not talk about it."
“I have to Hector,” she said. ”Are you aware Melissa and mom saw each other yesterday?”
Hope bit her lower lip before she spoke. “Are you also aware that Melissa came along with a wedding planner?”
My face changed towards her. “No! We have never discussed that and she never told me she had a wedding planner already.”
“Well mom said she has ordered for her wedding gown from the US.”
“What! She did not tell me and why is she rushing it? The wedding is end of next month.”
“You will have to ask mom everything they discussed.”
“Please sit down.” Hope tapped her hand on her bed. I walked to sit down by her side. “Hector I know you very well. You are going to be hopeless and miserable for the rest of your life if you marry who you do not love.”
“Melissa will give me children and they will make me extremely happy.”
“Children from Melissa?” Hope asked in a tone I could not comprehend. “Have you asked her if she wants children? Have you discussed it with her?”
“Do I have to?”
“Yes!” she voiced out. “You have to talk about certain things before you say I do. First of all why did you start a relationship with her?”
“I thought you knew?”
“Knew about what?”
“I never asked Melissa for a relationship, she asked me out.”
Her eyes widened. “Are you serious?”
“And you saw nothing in it?”
“We are in a free world.” I said and smiled cockily. “I could have asked her but she beat me to it.”
“I never knew.” she said slowly.
“I told mother about it and she persuaded me to go out with her. She thought it was a great idea. Remember mom and her late mother used to be best of friends.”
“Are you getting married to Melissa because Mom wants you to?”
“I have never told anyone this before but mom is the one that begged me to engage Melissa.”
“What!” Hope exclaimed in total shock and stood up to face my direction. “You are getting married because that is what mother wants?”
“At first, I thought dad wanted it too but today he told me I should not marry Melissa because I don’t love her. I guess am doing it for only mum.”
“Because it will give mum joy, you want to forsake your own happiness? Mother married father because she loved him. No one forced her to and she should not do it to you.”
“I want mother happy.” I said to her.
“What about you? What about your own happiness?”
“Maybe it’s the price I have to pay for never believing in love. Maybe its karma for the things I have done in the past that is catching up with me. I have done bad things in the past, treated women as if they had price tags on their body. I have everything my sister. Is it money, houses or investments? I can go on and on with the things I have but love is not one of them.”
Hope eyes became watery but I swiftly looked another way. I could not bear to see her cry because I can’t remember the last time tears fell from my own eyes, maybe when I was a kid but has a grown up man, nothing has ever made me shed tears and I have a feeling it will never come.
She quickly wiped off the tears from falling down. “I believe you will fall in love but you have to wait, to be patient and take your time. Do not rush or force it to come. Love will happen when you least expect it.”
I rose up to face her. “What if I end up loving a woman and she won’t love me in return?”
“I will force her to love you.” she teased me and we laughed together. Hope held my hands. “You are a good man Hector but sometimes you want to prove to people that you can do whatever you like. That is affecting you. A woman will love you not because of what you have. Peter never cared about the way I looked when he approached me. You might fall in love with someone you never thought you could. Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with a woman below your status.”
“That can never happen.”
She let go of my hands. “You have started again.”
“Will you still marry Melissa?” she asked me.
I stared at her for a while before answering her question. “Yes.”
Her face fell sadly. “Are you still going out?”
“I don’t know for now but I want to go talk to mother.”
“Okay. I will go to dad’s room to see him.”
I saw my mother seated in her favorite spot in the house. I sat down on the empty chair opposite her.”
“Is it true a wedding planner came along with Melissa yesterday?”
“Hope and her big mouth must have told you.” My mother said without looking at me.
“She is my sister and she has the right to let me know. How could Melissa get a wedding organizer without my permission? Is she going to be the man in the marriage when we get married?”
Her eyes stared at my face. “If you want her to be the man no problem, I see nothing wrong in what she did. She has paid for the wedding cards already and I have contacted the woman who will supply us with the aso ebi for….”
I could not allow her finish her statement. “What the fuck?!”
“Watch your language with me!” she barked at me.
“The two of you can’t do all these without getting me involved. I have to say yes first before carrying out your plans.”
“There is nothing you can do about it. The bill for the wedding, everything, your future father in law wants to sponsor it. The only thing you will buy is your wedding suit and that of your best man.”
“That will never happen.” I said to her and I meant it.
“I will pay whatever amount for the wedding because I have more than enough to spend. I do not need the father of Melissa to pay for the wedding.”
“But Melissa’s father is not complaining.”
I flared up from the chair. “Mother you have said enough!” I said to her with so much anger in my voice. “I am doing this for you because it will make you happy. Please don’t say any more words that will make me change my mind and I will if you dare me! I will leave this house for you. You can plan whatever you want with Mellissa, you can order for anything. I, Hector will pay for everything!” I stood up.
My mother maintained a composed gesture. “Anything you want. I will call Melissa and inform her.”
“Good.” I said walking away to leave the house.
“Won’t you wait for Mrs. Bola and the new cook? They are close to the house.”
“You can employ her if you want, I don’t give a shit about it.”
“I will also employ the daughter too.”
The color of my eyes turned red and I was forced to turn back to face her. “Why?”
“Your father is sick and apart from the doctor or the nurse coming to check up on him, he will need someone to be there if he needs something.”
“I guess Hillary brought up the idea.”
“Yes and it’s the best.”
“Can’t Hillary attend to father whenever he needs something?”
“She’s not always around. We need someone that can come here in the morning and leave in the evening.”
“What about Ebube?” I asked. “In fact where is she?”
“I gave her money to buy something for me in the market and remember she will be starting her lecture on Monday.”
“Oh I see. Is the woman coming with her daughter?”
“I doubt because I have not discussed it with Mrs. Bola. I will do that when they come.”
“But you don’t even know if the woman’s daughter is capable of doing the job?”
“Don’t worry about that.”
“What about the husband of the woman?” I asked.
“She is a widow.”
“Oh I see.” I said sympathetically.
We heard a bang on the main gate and the gateman ran to open it. Mrs. Bola and a woman a bit below my mother’s age came towards us at the balcony. Despite the woman dark skinned complexion, she was not ugly. I hugged Mrs. Bola and the woman greeted us with her knees on the floor.
I quickly raised her up. “Please you don’t have to kneel for me.”
“Sir, I have to.”
“Well, I guess it’s because you are the same tribe with Mrs. Bola. I had to stop her when we first employed her. She was always saying it’s their tradition. Yoruba people and greetings. Anyways, I will leave all of you alone and you are welcome to the Henshaw’s home.”
“Are you saying she is employed already?” my mother asked surprised.
I gave a truthful smile. “Yes mother, I like her already.”
The woman and Mrs. Bola thanked my mother and me greatly. I was indeed pleased.
“What is your name?” my mom asked our new cook.
“Mrs. Alice Kayode.”
“Ok.” she said. “My house keeper will be here soon. She went to buy some food items you will prepare.”
“I will also like to discuss something else with you. The both of you should sit down.”
They sat down together.
My mother turned to me. “Please help me call Hillary.”
“Okay mom.” I said and turned to the other women. “Please tell my sister whatever you want to drink. I should leave you two alone with my mother.”
“Are still going out?”
“I’ve changed my mind. I would love to taste Mrs. Alice’s food.” We all laughed.
“Thank you sir.” Mrs. Alice said to me. I left them to call the woman who has refused to grow mentally.
“For your information I have employed the new cook.” I said to Hillary in her room.
“But I thought you never liked the idea?”
“I changed my mind but I still don’t like the idea of a stranger attending to dad when we have you in this house. Serve the women drinks before you ask of them of the so called Renee.”
“She will be employed.”
“That’s your damn business! I don’t think I will ever meet her because as from on Monday Hector will always be occupied. Are you aware I’m taking over everything from dad?”
She clapped her hands and smiled awkwardly at me. “Good for you. Therefore, congratulations Hector. I am delighted to have you as my brother because you are not selfish towards me despite your complains about me.” She came closer to me and pecked my left cheek. Hillary opened her door and left me in her room. I shook my head piteously at her childishness. She had no idea I had plans for her and when I act on it, she would crawl to beg me.
I left there to my room to collect a bottle of red wine and my favorite chocolate and waited for the food to get prepared. I made a call to Michael to check how he was doing and to inform him about my father’s health. He panicked over the phone and insisted coming over to see him.
“I am very grateful for giving me the job.” Mrs. Alice said to her new employer.
“You don’t have to thank me.” Mrs. Harriet said to her. “All I want from you is your dedication and commitment. I have repeated this to you before, don’t disappoint us.”
“I will never ma.”
“Good. My daughter wants to talk to you about something else.”
Hillary cleared her throat before speaking. “I’m aware you have a daughter.”
“How old is she?” she asked.
“Twenty five years ma.”
“Did she go to school?”
“Yes ma.” she replied. “She’s a graduate of Business Administration but unemployed.”
“Yes ma.” Ebube arrived with the foodstuffs and Mrs. Harriet directed her to keep them in the kitchen and wait there.
Hillary turned to her mother. “Why can’t you talk to Hector to employ her daughter?”
“It’s a good idea but let her work here first and I will know what to do next.”
Hillary agreed and spoke to their new cook about the reason they need her daughter.
“That’s not a problem ma.” Mrs. Alice said. “She will do the job very well.”
“She will make sure my father takes his drugs and eat at the appropriate time. Whenever he wants her to get something for him, she will always be ready.”
“That is not a problem at all ma,” she said. “My daughter Renee took care of her grandmother before she left us and she takes good care of me whenever I am sick. Renee is the best person for this job and she will be very happy to do it.”
“Very good.” said Mrs. Harriet. “You and your daughter should resume very early on Monday. I hope Mrs. Bola has informed you about the timetable because she comes here as early as six thirty in the morning to prepare breakfast. Sometimes she sleeps here and it goes for you as well.”
“Mrs. Bola told me everything ma. I will do anything you want.”
“We will pay you the same amount Mrs. Bola used to earn.”
“Mrs. Alice fell on her knees thanking and praying for the entire family. She got up and sat down.
“My daughter will take you to the kitchen and tell Ebube to show you anything you need.” Mrs. Harriet told her.
I went over to my father’s room. He was fast asleep and I saw Hope seated by his side reading her bible.
She looked up at me. “You have not gone out?”
“No.” I replied and informed her about the new cook. She closed her bible and opened her bag to keep it inside.
“Can we still discuss about your upcoming wedding with Melissa who you do not love?” she asked.
“No.” I replied her politely. “No one can make me change my mind. No one!”
To be continued….