By Adeola Nissi
Kelvin drove his car on a steady but fast pace, with a grim look on his face. He didn’t like the way things were going one bit. He had discarded the Lisa issue, thinking it was something minute, but with the way things were going, it seemed something higher than Lisa is at play. Amara looked tense beside him and she had been murmuring nonstop ever since she made the phone call.
“I feel so bad that I could even imagine Tina in such a demeaning way. She has been so good to me and does not deserve to be paid back this way” Amara said with her eyes fixed on the road.
“You saw her bag in your office, anyone would have done the same” Kelvin said grimly.
Amara turned to face him but he kept his eyes glued to the road. “But a good friend wouldn’t. Let’s face it, I am a bad friend, I have always been. Tina has been a spectacular friend and all I have done is snub her; now she has been sick and I am just finding out. I am horrible” she wailed.
Kelvin took his eyes off the road a bit to stare at her perplexed face, then looked back. “I guess a change is in order”
Amara swallowed audibly. “You agree that I am horrible?” She asked, hiding the slight bitterness she felt when he did not try to reassure her.
“I am not saying you are horrible, just that you might try changing your attitude towards people”
Amara turned her face to the road, gripping the edge of the chair with one hand. “Thank you very much” why can’t he just be nice?
Kelvin glanced at her stiff face. “Don’t take it that way Ara, you know you have changed towards everyone, it would be a relief to see the old you again” he smiled slightly, softening the brick form his face had taken for the past hour. “Although I think you are coming through”
Amara kept her eyes on the road ahead, gritting her teeth. The truth surely is bitter! Her brain screamed at her.
Kelvin’s face turned grim again and he gripped the steering harder as he made a sharp turn. “Do you realise what this means Ara?” His voice was hard as he spoke. “This is more than we think. If Tina has truly been in the hospital for days, someone must have put her bag in your office” he stated, then turned his head to gaze seriously at Amara’s frozen face. “Intentionally” he added finally.
Amara sighed and ran her fingers over her temples. “Oh, this is terrible and I am tired of thinking about it. It almost looks Let’s leave that, all I want now is to be sure Tina is alright” she said firmly and Kelvin nodded quietly, driving on. Amara laughed out, whether from humor or mirth, she couldn’t tell. “Frankly, it is amusing that someone thinks me so important as to go through all these stress to destroy my life”
Kelvin looked at her straight-faced. “I don’t find it amusing in the least. Whoever is doing this clearly does not like the closeness between you and Tina” he stated as a deep frown descended upon his face. “I would need to question your secretary Ara”
“You would do no such thing Kelvin” Amara returned sharply. She was still having a hard time processing this new insight but then, she had done enough by even suspecting Tina, she wouldn’t have Tega added to her list of suspects. “I won’t have you questioning her Kelvin, with the way you are going, you would have my entire staff questioned”
“If that’s what it takes” he blared the horn at the vehicle misbehaving in front of him.
“You are not a police officer Kelvin” Amara said exasperatedly.
“I am beginning to think we need one” he returned stiffly, sighting the hospital ahead.
“No! I won’t have a parade of incompetent policemen bombarding my company. It would create a bad impression.”
“But if we got one who is discrete?” He said gently, his voice barely above a whisper”
Amara frowned slightly, turning to look at him. His handsome face looked stressed, like he hadn’t had much sleep and she had the sudden urge to rub her palm against his day’s growth of beard, but she wisely kept her hands to herself. “You sound like you know one” she breathed.
His eyes turned speculative and much more unreadable. He glanced at her as he eased into the parking lot of the hospital, searching for a parking space. “Your father is one”
Amara froze, turning pale, not even noticing as the car came to a final stop in the parking lot of the hospital. My father! Surely, she hadn’t heard well. “Which father? I have no father”
Kelvin glanced at her with veiled eyes. “Why don’t we talk about this later?” He said instantly, pulling away his seatbelt. Amara blinked, winded for some seconds. She removed her belt and alighted the car with her head feeling hazy. Does it mean that he has been in contact with my father? She looked at Kelvin suspiciously, not knowing what to make of this piece of information. Seeing the hospital looming over her worked magic though, because the thought of Tina, hanging in the balance in there was enough to push aside all her immediate problems.
She rushed into the hospital, glancing at the many people in the waiting room. The nurses smiled at her brightly with recognition, but as Kelvin appeared behind her, their eyes widened and she was pretty much forgotten as they stare and flirted with Kelvin. Kelvin did nothing to dissuade their advances, smiling charmingly at the ladies in a playboy manner. Amara gritted her teeth in annoyance. This only served to stoke her anger further. Another reason to hate him! She said to herself. “I am here to see Tina” she snapped at the nurses, recapturing their attention slightly.
“Oh, you are here to see Miss Tina” one of them said, reluctantly taking her eyes off Kelvin.
“Yes, I was told she was admitted here a few days back” Amara stated.
The nurse sobered. “Yes, the drugs she had been taken became noneffective, due to her worsened situation” Amara’s heart beat rapidly, as she looked horrified at the nurse. She barely noticed as Kelvin circled her waist with his arm and drew her closer to the reassuring heat of his body. So Tina had been hiding this! Amara remembered the time Tina had been taken over by a persistent cough in her office. She had thought then that Tina was hiding something even when she said she was OK, but the bad friend in her hadn’t been able to investigate further.
“We would be glad if you’d take us to her” Kelvin murmured, still holding Amara by the waist. The nurses surely noticed the gesture with obvious disappointments but Amara was past caring.
The nurse nodded and left the back of the counter, bring the remaining part of her short gown to view. “Please follow me” she murmured. Amara and Kelvin walked briskly behind her and Amara’s heart pounded wildly as she thought about Tina.
“You can take your arm off my waist now, your spectators are no longer in sight” she snapped at Kelvin.
Instead of complying, Kelvin’s arm seemed to grow firmer. “Your neighbour was right, you are jealous” he said with satisfied amusement obvious in his voice.
So that is what she had whispered! Amara wiggled, trying to break free. “You flatter yourself. I see no reason why I should be jealous; especially not now” she said, increasing her steps.
Kelvin leaned over and placed a firm kiss on her forehead, tightening his arm around her waist. “She would be fine” Kelvin whispered reassuringly.
Amara forgot her misplaced anger towards him and turned worried eyes on him. “Are you sure?” She only needed that reassurance from him. “It is not common malaria Kelvin, this involves kidney! I don’t want Tina to-”
“Hushhh” Kelvin whispered, silencing Amara. “Nothing would happen to her, she would be fine”
Amara hung onto that reassurance, involuntarily drawing closer to Kelvin. The nurse leading them suddenly turned towards a door and, without warning, opened it. Amara stood frozen at the doorway, too scared to go in. She had avoided serious emotions which might bring tears to her eyes for so long but she felt strongly that going in would definitely change that. She couldn’t start crying now, not when she should be reassuring Tina. Kelvin pulled her tighter against his side and she raised her agitated eyes to his, which was bright with worry. “Come on” he called gently with a small squeeze. She nodded vigorously and took in a deep breath as Kelvin pushed the door wider. Amara noticed a frail form on the bed, dressed in a shabby white shapeless gown. The nurse stood by her, smiling softly and a girl who looked almost like a teenager despite her mature body sat by the bed, looking tired. The urge to cry almost overwhelmed Amara as Tina turned her head and their eyes met. “Tina” she whispered shakily.
Tina had never looked so weak and lean, almost like she had been ill for years. Her cheeks showed more bones than flesh and her eyes seemed to have retreated further into their sockets. “Ohhhh Tina” Amara moaned, took Tina’s head carefully in her arms and ran kisses over her face.
“Oh, Amara, don’t tell me you are a lesbian” Tina joked weakly, managing a small smile. Amara on the other hand couldn’t find anything worth smiling about.
“I am sorry Tina, I should have been here, I should have been with you throughout. Oh my God Tina! Why didn’t you ever tell me” she rushed. As Tina made to talk, Amara silenced her. “No, don’t say anything” she sobered. “I wouldn’t tell me, if I were you. I am a bad friend”
“Shhhhh… Don’t say that! You are not, you were going through a phase-”
“No” Amara cut in. “Don’t make excuses for me Tina for God’s sake, I know I have been behaving stupidly. Been blowing my misfortunes way out of proportion, not even taking time to appreciate the good things those misfortunes brought my way.” Her eyes watered. “I should be the one here, taking care of you”
Tina smiled. “I never wanted anyone to find out. I was diagnosed several months back with Kidney failure and I have been on drugs ever since, but instead of the drugs improving my condition, I was getting worse.” She swallowed slightly, managing a weak smile. “I was admitted three days ago” she said. She moved her hand until she was able capture Amara own, fear crept to her face for the first time. “Would I be fine? I am really scared Amara” she murmured shakily.
Amara hastily sat beside her on the bed, squeezing her palm tighter. “You would be fine Tina, just fine” said forcefully, with more assurance than she actually felt. “Kelvin said you would and everything he says always happens” she said, reassuring both herself and Tina.
Tina raised her eyes, seeing Kelvin for the first time. Her eyes widened slightly, then her face took on a mischievous smile. “I was wondering who inspired the changes in you; I guess I have found the culprit” she raised her brow, looking from Amara to Kelvin.
Kelvin swept her a slight bow, with a smile enough to lift anyone’s spirit. “Kelvin to the rescue anytime, any day” he murmured.
Amara scowled at him. “Is this the time to joke around? What changes are you both talking about? I am the same person”
“Thanks to your knight in shining armor” Tina grinned weakly.
“He is not MY knight” Amara returned frowning.
Kelvin touched his heart, bending over dramatically. “I am wounded.”
Tina looked like she might laugh but settled for grinning. The light mood seemed to be working, Amara noticed as she saw Tina’s bright face. She looked less weary. “Have you eaten?” She asked Tina.
Before Tina could form a response, the girl beside the bed, who Amara presumed was the Aisha that picked her call earlier, spoke up. “I have been asking her to eat all day but she has completely refused” she looked both angry and worried.
Amara’s face turned serious. “Well, that is not happening while I am here.” She looked at Tina squarely. “What would you eat?” Tina hesitated. “Don’t even think of saying nothing”
Tina rolled her eyes. “Oh, now I wish you never came” she murmured.
“It is too late for that wish woman, I would get you rice” Amara made to stand up.
“I would get it instead. I am sure you ladies might want to have a little time to chat without me hovering over you.” Kelvin said, then smiled at Aisha. “You surely deserve the same treat”.
Tina nodded gratefully. “Yes, she must be hungry. She has been glued to my side all through, she is a darling” she smiled gratefully at her staff.
The thought of food brought an obvious glow to the girl’s face. “I would go with you sir” she said bouncing up, then looked at her boss. “You would be OK Miss Tina?” She asked, concerned.
“Absolutely” Kelvin answered instead. “Your boss isn’t going anywhere, she would be bouncing out of here in a few days” he said so convincingly that everyone, including Tina found themselves believing it.
Kelvin dropped a small kiss on Tina’s head, and gave her a small smile. “You’ll be fine”. Tina smiled back and nodded. Kelvin turned to Amara and stunned her by kissing her directly on the lips. “I’ll be back” he whispered.
Amara was too stunned to answer and she blinked, watching Kelvin exit the room with Aisha following briskly. She could tell that her face was bright with embarrassment, but she couldn’t help the thrill that went through her. She felt like a bride at the altar, being kissed in front of people. She forcefully brought her eyes back to Tina’s to find her grinning. “You love him”
“What?” Amara squealed in exclamation. “Don’t be ridiculous. I don’t love him”
Tina grinned wider. “You can’t hide it. It is so obvious. See this glow in your eyes, I have never seen it; not even with Alex”
“Oh no, please don’t mention Alex, I might fall ill as well.” She said frowning, then sobered. “How do you feel Tina?”
Tina grimaced. “Do you really want an answer to that?” She asked, swallowing slightly. “I hate being in hospitals, it smells like crap” she smiled drily.
Amara managed a small smile. “If I had continued with my dream of being a doctor, I would be treating you now”
“No. You would kill me faster than my decaying kidney because you would cry all over me instead of treating me” Tina said, smiling.
Amara frowned at her. “I am not longer a cry cry baby”
Tina raised her hand and traced a wet path on Amara’s cheek. “Of course not” she said with a smile.
Amara sighed and gripped Tina’s hand. “You must be strong Tina, I can’t lose you” Tina lowered her eyes. “Look at me” Tina raised her eyes. “We would pull through this. Together! I promise” she said strongly. Tina nodded.
“I am glad you are here Amara” she whispered.
“I would always be by your side Tina, always.”
Kelvin paid for the meal and Aisha grabbed the nylons. His phone rang and he took it out of his pocket. He stared at the name on his screen for some seconds, before answering. “Hello sir” he said a bit quietly.
“Hi Kelvin, I have her” the voice spoke gently.
“Great! That is very good, although, there are new developments”
There was a brief silence on the other end. “What is wrong?”
“Amara’s company was broken into, it does not look like a burglary. The whole place was a complete mess when I got there and even though she insists otherwise, I know there would have been some major damages. I am not sure if Lisa is responsible for this but I am sure someone inside her company is aiding whoever this is. No locks were broken”
“Can I… come over to see the situation of things myself?” He asked.
Kelvin shook his head as if talking to a visible person as Aisha walked ahead of him into the hospital. “That wouldn’t be a good idea, Amara totally freaked out when I suggested that we inform you. I don’t think it is the right time”
Mr Sinja breathed into the phone and cleared his throat. “OK, I understand. I would interrogate Lisa to see if she has anything to do with this. I really hope she does, because if not, it means, we are dealing with someone else.”
Before Mr Sinja hung up, Kelvin quickly said. “I didn’t tell you something yesterday” he said, his voice dropping to barely a whisper.
“I am listening”
Kelvin took a deep breath. “Alex went to see Amara yesterday”
“What did he want again?” Mr Sinja’s voice was hard now.
“A reconciliation, I guess. But she told me that he said something. That… they are not siblings”
Silence followed his declaration. “That cannot be!” Mr Sinja said later.
Kelvin sighed and ran his free fingers over his hair. “My thoughts also.” He sighed again. “I have to go now, I would call later to get your feedback”
“Please take care of my girl”
Kelvin swallowed. “I am doing my best”
Hours later, Amara sat in the car with Kelvin as he drove them back to Ara P. She would have stayed but Tega kept calling, informing her about people waiting to see her until Tina herself convinced her to go. No one spoke as Kelvin drove. “Tega looks so small and weak Kelvin” she murmured, breaking the silence. “It is disheartening to see her in that state. I would donate my kidney if only it matches hers”
Kelvin reached over and squeezed her arm, controlling the steering with the other. “She would be fine. We all need to have faith in God and pray for her. We shouldn’t show her sad faces, it would only depress her. I am sure we would find a matching Kidney soon. We should have faith”
“Faith! God!” Amara almost laughed. “When has that ever worked?”
Kelvin turned his eyes off the road to look at her. “What happened to you was allowed by God for a reason Ara, you shouldn’t make the mistake of undermining God’s power because of it” he said. Amara didn’t respond, but turned her eyes back to the road. No one spoke until the got back to Ara P. Kelvin scanned everywhere, noticing nothing awkward except the absence of Amara’s car. “Where is your car?” He asked worriedly.
“I didn’t come with it, all the tired were deflated” she said drily, alighting from the car.
“You didn’t tell me that”
“It is the least of my problems.” She said simply. “Don’t you have to go to the office?” Amara said worriedly. “You have been receiving calls and I know some are from the office. I am sorry I interrupted your day so much. I am so grateful for your help”
Kelvin knew that Amara was right. “You can interrupt my day anytime Ara, I would just walk you to your office and be on my way.” He said and put his hand in hers, holding her firmly as they walked hand in hand. Kelvin’s warmth enveloped Amara, making her forget everyone around, but as they entered Ara P, the stares of her staff was impossible to ignore.
“Do you think you can let go of my hand anytime soon?” She whispered.
Kelvin smiled. “No. Everyone here should know who they are up against if they even entertain hopes stealing their boss’ heart with their perfect performance”
Amara frowned. “You are imagining things. My staff see me only as their boss, nothing more”
Kelvin stared down some guys who looked at their joined hands with disappointment written all over them. “You would be surprised sweetheart”
Amara should have told him firmly that she wasn’t his, but somehow, she didn’t want to. Sighing, she approached her office and Tega stood with a smile. “Welcome back boss. The last man got tired of waiting and promised to be back in an hour” she murmured.
Kelvin looked at Tega critically, trying to determine if someone so sweet could be a suspect.
“Thanks Tega” Amara said. Tega nodded, then, seemed to remember something. She bent to pick a letter and handed it over to Amara. “I should have given you this earlier but the whole drama prevented it. A lady came to see you shortly after you went on…” She paused, glanced at Kelvin, then quickly said “I mean, shortly after you left yesterday. She dropped this when she didn’t meet you” she said.
Amara nodded and took the letter. She turned to Kelvin. “You should leave now. Thanks so much for your help today. I am grateful.”
He nodded and drew her in for a hug, again stunning her. He placed his mouth close to her ear and whispered. “No more dates with anyone but me. I would be back to take you home” he straightened and smiled at her as he turned and walked away.
…To be continued
By Adeola Nissi