Lola woke up with the letter beside her on the bed. She looked at it again and hoped someday, the last words would happen. She wouldn’t allow what Duke said get to her. Nothing on earth could make her forget him. He was part of her life. He was her life.
She had plans to run some errands during the weekend. She went to her dad’s room to see him. She knocked but he didn’t answer. It was unlike him. She opened the door gently and heard the water running. She assumed he was having his bath. Lola made a move to step out and come back later when her eyes caught some prescriptions on his reading table. She motioned there curiously to look at them. Lola was perceptibly shocked and scared. The door of the bathroom opened and Wole came out, still in his pajamas. He saw her holding the drugs. He quickly gestured to her and grabbed them from her.
“Dad, are you sick?”
“No! What are you doing here?”
“I came to greet you. I knocked and you didn’t answer.”
“Then you would have gone back to your room and return later.”
“Dad, do you have cancer?”
Wole looked at her for a moment without saying a word. He replied. “No.”
She walked closer to him. “Dad, I am not a baby and I will not take no for an answer. I demand the truth. Are you sick?”
He heaved a low sigh and a sad expression appeared on his face. He sat down on the bed and bowed his head. “Yes.”
Lola covered her mouth in shock as her eyes started to get teary. She knew she was right. She approached him. “Is it cancer?”
He sadly gazed into her wet eyes and held her other hand. “Yes.”
“Oh my God! Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I am sorry! I didn’t want to add to what you were going through.”
Lola sat beside him as tears ran down her face to the lips.
“Please don’t cry.” He dropped the drugs and wiped her tears.
“God has abandoned me.” She said in a softened tone. Lola looked at him.
“How can you say such a thing? God can never abandon you.”
“Then why are all these happening to me? Why does it feel like I don’t deserve to be happy? What am I doing wrong that God is punishing me? What have I done wrong?”
“You haven’t done anything wrong.” Wole said.
“I don’t believe you.” Lola said, rose and stood in front of him. “Duke doesn’t love me anymore, Ahmed has left the hospital and my father I have never spent enough time with is dying.”
“I am not dying.” he got up. “It’s prostate cancer.”
“Lola, it’s in the early stages. I will be fine.”
“When did you know you had it?”
“It was during Duke’s recovery at the hospital, the time I started giving you my car to use. I didn’t want you to find out. I had other means for transportation to go to another hospital.”
“Have you told anyone?”
“Yes.” Wole answered. “The woman I was having an affair with?”
“Was? Have you broken up?”
“Yes. She broke up with me.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay. I have you in my life and that’s what matters to me.”
“Does that mean you were not planning to tell me?”
“I was going to tell you,” Wole said and held her hands. “I didn’t plan to tell you like this.”
“That means no one at the hospital knows.”
“No and I want to keep it that way for now.”
Lola gave a nod. She looked at him with concern.
The weekend for Duke was very boring. On a Sunday morning after church, he informed his parents he would return home the following day after work. They tried to persuade him to stay for few weeks but he declined. He mentioned the distance from their house to the hospital was very far. His mom volunteered to get him a driver, he bluntly refused and she let him be and wished him all the best.
In the afternoon, he went to a shopping mall to purchase an item for Lola. He paraded around, even checked the female clothes and accessories, but he couldn’t buy anything. Duke was confused. When he got tired of trying to think of a perfect appreciation gift, he motioned towards a winery and bought some liquor. He drove home, and went straight to his room to drink. He began to think aloud.
“If really I loved you as much as I wrote on that letter, why is it so difficult for me to remember the good memories and the feelings I had for you, Lola.”
He sat upright and dropped the glass of whiskey on the table. “I'm confused. I don't know what to do."
Duke stepped out of his car on a Monday morning. The security men waived and welcomed him back. He approached the entrance and met most of his colleagues clapping their hands as they saw him coming their way. He grinned at them and they extended his their hands and he shook them one after the other. Lola stood at the back, smiling softly. Jidenna and Oliver hugged him.
“We are happy to see you Dr. Duke.” Melvin said.
“Thank you.” Duke responded gleefully.
Even though she was not in a cheerfully mood, Zara wore a happy expression and greeted him. He thanked her. He got to where Lola stood and she smiled at him.
“Welcome back.” she extended her hand.
He smiled at her. “Thanks.”
Duke shook her hand. First body contact since he told her to stop coming to see him at the ICU. Some memories about her returned to him. It was more about Jidenna and her.
“Can we talk?” He asked her.
She followed him to his office. Duke dropped his suitcase and stood in front of her.
“I remember the day Dr. Jidenna asked you out. I was actually coming to meet you but he was already there with you.”
“That was the day I agreed to be his girlfriend.”
“I heard you crying.”
“I lost a patient and Jidenna was there. Do you remember why you were coming to meet me?”
“No. You were venerable that was why you agreed to be his girlfriend.” He wanted to say something but hesitated.
“If there is something you want to say to me, tell me.”
He sighed and told her what Jidenna said in his house.
“Why would he tell you such a thing? I wasn’t in love with him.”
I just realize that. I believe he lied to me because he still loves you.”
“But I don’t love him. I never did. I even apologized to him. He didn’t have to lie to you.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you and Jidenna had an affair?” Duke asked her.
Lola gazed at him surprisingly. “I felt you knew because you remembered Jidenna, The affair didn’t last and we barely touched each other. We only kissed.”
“I’m sorry. You owe me no explanation. I shouldn’t have bothered you to come here. I am sure there are patients waiting for you right now.”
“Unbelievable.” Lola said while shaking her head. He was pissing her off. She was about to say something, but paused and stormed out of his office.
Lola approached Jidenna with rage in her eyes. She didn’t care who was going to hear her.
“I heard what you told Duke.”
He looked around him and started walking away. He knew Lola would follow him and she did. They entered into the doctor’s lodge.
“Lola,” Jidenna said. “Duke has forgotten about you. This is the time for us to be together.”
“I am not interested and I have told you several times. It's becoming annoying and irritating. I have apologized for leading you on. I am sorry. It’s Duke I love and will always love.”
“But he doesn’t love you.”
“He will when he comes back to his senses. I am done talking to you!” Lola walked out on him.
Duke met with Wole in his office. They had talked and a meeting was schedule for next week. Duke requested to see whom he had voted for and Wole gave him the sheet. He opened it. The first name was Lola and the second was Melvin.
Duke left to see Thelma, the mother of Ahmed and check on her condition. He accessed her and left. Everyone at the hospital continued to be professional with their work. Lola mostly worked alone except she was paired with another surgeon. Most times, it was with Dr. Robertson and Melvin. Zara worked with Dr. Melissa and Duke.
On a Friday at the cafeteria, Melvin joined Lola as she ate.
On a Friday at the cafeteria, Melvin joined Lola as she ate.
“I hope you are not here to gossip.” Lola quickly said.
“No. I only came to ask you if you notice Zara’s appearance.”
“I didn’t notice anything.”
“Well, I do. She has not been looking good. Have you been talking to Ahmed.”
“Yes. We talk every day. He will be travelling soon.”
“He wants to travel without seeing his mother?”
“I don’t know. I hope they discharge her soon. Dr. Duke wants to monitor her for a while.”
Melvin gave her a look. “Do you know Dr. Melissa has been all over him for some days now?”
“All over who?” She asked in an uninterested tone.
Lola dropped her spoon and gazed at him. “They have been working together. It doesn’t mean she has been all over him.”
“Look at you. You had better put an eye on your man before she steals him.”
Melvin focused on his food as he ate. He didn’t look at Lola anymore. She had stopped eating. Lola left the cafeteria and approached the ward. She saw Duke and Melissa together and she felt jealous. She would not have felt that way if Melvin didn’t say those things to her. Duke and Melissa didn’t take note of Lola’s prying eyes.
“Why are you looking at them like that?” Oliver asked.
She turned and saw him standing behind her.
“I’m not looking at them.”
He gave her a look and smiled. “Relax; nothing is going on between them. You are Dr. Duke’s heartbeat.” Oliver winked at her.
“You are trying to put a smile on my face.”
“But I am not seeing any smile.”
On Monday, Wole had a meeting at his office with the senior employees. Melvin and Zara were retained while Lola got employment automatically. They congratulated the three of them. Wole asked everyone to stay back. He had an announcement.
“I will be stepping down as the CEO of the hospital. I am travelling to the US in three days’ time.”
Everyone exchanged glances except for Lola. She stared at her father in surprise. He didn’t tell her.
He added, “The hospital will still be mine, but my daughter Lola Bello will have full control over it. My lawyers are on their way here with the documents for her to sign.”
Lola couldn’t believe it. She didn’t know what to say. Her dazed eyes fell on Wole. Zara was speechless. Melvin beamed. The rest apart from Duke were obviously wordless. Duke just stared at Lola in admiration. He didn’t understand why, but the way she remained calm fascinated him.
“I know she is still young,” Wole continued. “She will not be doing it alone. Someone I trust has to be at her side to nurture and put her through. They will have to work as a team to put this hospital in order. Dr. Robertson will remain as the chief of surgery.”
Duke gazed at him surprised. This was not the plan, but he won’t complain. Lola opened her mouth in shock and looked at Duke. He stared at her and took his eyes away.
Wole cleared his throat and gazed directly at Duke. “You are the one I trust. As long as the hospital will be under the care of you and Lola, I will have nothing to worry about wherever I am. Both of you will make a great team.”
Duke couldn’t speak. He never saw it coming. He was visibly astonished. Lola inhaled in and out. She felt relaxed.
To be continued on Sunday.