The world faded into an insignificant blur as they drifted into a heady trance of passion from which Joyce awoke to an emptiness she could not shake off. But I should be thrilled. Was this not what she wanted? Was this not her secret fantasy? Seyi snoring softly beside her, the quiet hum of the air conditioner and the softness of bedding against her skin all left her with an emptiness that gnawed at her heart. As he drifted away to sleep, his muscular arms were thrown around her. A gesture that mirrored how he felt. This didn’t look like a hit and run mission, yet uncertainty ate away at her soul. She had been so sure this was different and special because there was a lifetime commitment in the mix, but no, she felt a yawning emptiness. With all the determination she could muster, she drowned her mixed feeling in the fact that this hunk of a man who was every woman’s dream was hers and hers alone.
As the days wore on and became weeks, any secret worries Joyce nursed about wading in deep waters of intimacy with Seyi melted against the turned up heat of his love for her, like butter on a hot pan. Seyi was even more drawn to her. He called her several times during the day every single day. Sent her favourite dessert cake thrice since that fateful night and took up the responsibility of having their lunch delivered to their doorstep every day. Joyce threw caution to the wind and waded farther into deeper waters of intimacy with him, allowing herself to be carried downstream by stronger currents of unbridled passion.
She smiled to herself as she flipped over the pages of the textbook she was attempting to read in preparation for her final paper. She was floating between memorising law cases and drifting away into daydreaming about Seyi when Christine slammed into the room from school.
“I’m seriously tired of this school.” She tossed her bag on the table, heading for the kitchen, her favourite part of the house.
“My dear, who isn’t tired?” Joyce yawned and stretched, looking into her books with more determination to concentrate.
“You won’t believe that our last paper has been moved a second time,” Christine said.
“What? Joyce exclaimed. “Moved to when?”
“To the 15th of November.” Christine returned with a bottle of cold water and a glass, set them on the table and headed back to the kitchen.
“You don’t say.” Joyce had been looking forward to finally getting done with school. Maybe knowing that she was done with all her exams would inspire Seyi to take the step of officially popping the big question.
“Kai, Joyce don’t tell me you didn’t cook because you are waiting for Seyi’s delivery,” Christine yelled from the Kitchen, covers clanging over empty pots as she scavenged for anything to eat.
“Relax. Seyi stopped by and bought us lunch already. It’s in that bag on the kitchen worktop” Joyce called from the room.
“Aww, God bless his darling heart.” Christine emerged with a pack of not so steamy jollof rice, grilled chicken and salad. Joyce eyed her, smiling. It was a wonder Christine still maintained a slim and drop-dead-gorgeous figure considering how much she ate.
Christine didn’t seem to mind that it was not as hot as she liked her food to be. As long as it soothed the growls in her stomach, it was just perfect.
“Meeen, this guy should do and become my in-law officially. He’s been doing this for the last four weeks. I can’t begin to imagine how he will spoil us all with even much more goodies when you become Mrs Lawal.”
Mrs Lawal. The sound of it sent a thrill coursing through Joyce.
“By then you will be off to Hawaii with that half-cast boyfriend of yours for your much dreamed about fairy tale honeymoon,” Joyce teased.
“I pray o. That my ladies guy who claims I’m the only one he has eyes for.” Christine didn’t bother with pretentious table manners as she grabbed the chicken and dug into it with her teeth. She munched a mouth full of spicy delight.
“Hmm… This is a taste of heaven,” she said after swallowing her first mouthful. Joyce chuckled and picked up the table top calendar, tracing through the dates to see what day the 15th of November was. Suddenly her eyes fell on a tiny red dot beside the 30th of October. With a start, she pulled out her diary from her bag and flipped through. She found the page she was looking for and gasped, heart tumbling over and picking up speed. If today were the 4th of November, that meant her period was five days late. I am never late!
“Is everything okay?” Christine asked, swallowing a mouth full of well-masticated rice. Joyce ran trembling hands through her dishevelled hair. Was she just late? Was it what her mind was dreading right now? A wave of panic hit her with so much intensity that her diary dropped from her hands.
“Joyce, is everything okay?” Christine quizzed again.
“Christine, there is trouble,” Joyce said, now visibly shaken. Christine set her food aside and sat beside her on the bed.
“What is it? How do you suddenly get into trouble by looking at a book?”
“I am Pregnant Christine,” Joyce said, staring blankly ahead of her.
“You are not serious.” Christine dropped her voice to a whisper. In response, Joyce held her head in her hands and rocked back and forth, trembling all over.
“But then Joyce, this might not be as bad as it looks. You mentioned that he didn’t want condoms because he was ready for responsibility right?”
“Yes he did, but this is reality o. What if I end up like my mum and my grandma? Hey! Christine, I’m finished!” So she was also doomed to carry on the chain of women who never got spoken for yet had babies. Tears broke free like water from a broken dam.
“This is not what I want for my life. This is not what I want.” Her cry was gradually building up to a wail.
“Ah, then if you were this afraid of getting pregnant, why didn’t you insist on some form of protection? Christine shrugged.
“He refused. He said it was for men who were playing games with women and didn’t want any responsibility.”
“Then you are worried over nothing. If Seyi had gone all the way to delve into the new depths of intimacy that you both shared, this might just be what he needs to finally ask you to marry him. This would just speed up things.”
“You think so?” Joyce asked between sobs, hope flickering inside her.
Christine went back to her place at the table, grabbed her chicken and dug in again. She munched and downed it with a glass of cold water before responding.
“Sit there asking me if I think so. I wish I could trade places with you right now. My boyfriend Fabian isn’t looking like he has any plans for us outside the gates of Uni. You are here acting like an idiot when you should be hopping about with glee.” She capped her grating words with a long hiss. A sudden wave of excitement replaced the panic that had hit Joyce moments ago. She would never get used to how Christine always saw the bright side of the grimmest of situations.
“But what about church?”
“What about church?” Christine asked with a scowl. “We are well on our way out already. Our send forth is on Sunday. If not for the constant shift in exam dates, we would be done a long time ago. Abeg chill. You’ll get married before anyone at Heritage Chapel hears about it.”
“Thanks, Christine. You have a way of levelling even mountain-sized worries.”
Joyce’s eyes darkened again, her eyebrows drawn together, arms folded across her chest. “But what about your parents? What do I tell them?”
“Haba, Joyce. I don’t understand at all. Dad and mum are against us sleeping with random boys. This one is totally different. He is a steady partner, a son in law to be and guess what, Seyi’s birthday is in two days. This news will be the best birthday gift ever. It’s so obvious that this whole thing was divinely orchestrated,” Christine said, setting down her plate of food and rubbing her hands gleefully.
Totally peeling off her last layer of concern, Joyce snapped out of her pessimism and decided to share the view through Christine’s rose coloured glasses. Life was certainly better through them. Condoms were for men who were not ready to own up to the responsibility of love. Those were Seyi’s words and pondering on them sent her worries sailing through the window.
8 am Thursday morning found Joyce at Seyi’s doorstep with sweaty, clammy palms and a heart that beat to a frenzied rhythm of her nerves as she pressed the doorbell and waited for his response. She drew in a sharp breath as the lock clicked open. Her heart picked up even more speed as Seyi stepped out into the front porch wearing his bare well worked out abs over a pair of joggers. The rays of the morning sun that matched the smile that lit up his face glimmered on his sweaty skin. He’d probably just stepped off his thread meal. Motioning for her to step in, Joyce sauntered into the house with the cake and a gift bag, singing as she did. The smile on his face calmed her jitters.
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, happy birthday,
Happy birthday to you!
Seyi performed a mock orchestra direction with his hands as Joyce sang. They both broke into hearty laughter when she was done. She set the cake on the table and held onto the gift bag. Pulling her into his arms for a hug, he lowered his lips to hers, taking a swig from deep waters of passion. Joyce felt her heart skitter as she inhaled healthy male sweat and felt the firmness of his chest. She pulled back, breathless. “Happy birthday darling.”
“With you in my life, this is my best birthday ever,” he said, stroking her cheeks.
“And you have no idea how special this birthday truly is. Wait till I hand you your surprise,” Joyce beamed, tracing a pattern on his bare chest with her pink polished index fingernail. Desire stirred in her. She wanted this man today, tomorrow and always. With this baby to seal their love, the rest was history.
“I love surprises but first, let me get a shower, and I’ll be back, dressed for the day,” Seyi said, pulling away from their embrace.
Joyce sank into the double seater couch and heaved a sigh as Seyi skittered away. She stared absent-mindedly as the scenes of a movie flickered on the 49-inch plasma screen opposite her. She realised she had not been paying any attention when the credits suddenly started rolling up the screen. Would he be thrilled by the news? Would he refuse to take responsibility? With the way he smothered her with love, the latter was unlikely. He wasn’t afraid of responsibility. How thrilling it would be to see him cry for joy at the news, propose to her over a romantic dinner, travel to the UK to meet his parents and oh, the kind of glamorous wedding they would have after which they would settle abroad to their new life. Her life would be perfect and the envy of all who knew her story. She was that woman who would break that cycle and have a man marry her, and take her home as his bride.
Lost in thoughts, she didn’t hear when Seyi strode into the living room. She was jolted back into reality as he slipped on the sofa beside her, dressed in black jeans and a close fitting round neck T-shirt.
“So can I have my surprise?” He beamed at her. His Hugo boss perfume laced with the faint smell of his aftershave sent a thrill through her. This was the moment. She handed him the blue gift bag. She had bought a pair of white cute baby booties wrapped up in a box with a note that read: Happy first birthday as a dad to be.
“Hmmm…I can’t wait to see this.” He grinned as he tugged at the parcel, tearing the wrapping sheets apart.
“I bet you can’t wait.”
Finally yanking the cardboard box open, he pulled out the booties. With eyebrows pulled together, he stared at them with wordless confusion. The note dropped as he brought the shoes out. Picking it up, he read it, looked from Joyce to the card and read it a second time. Joyce shifted in her seat, breath held…
Thank you for reading! Because you don’t want to stop here, you can own the entire story for just 1000 naira! It will be delivered right into your hands (Your phone or tablet) or right on your desk (via your Pc). Whichever device you choose is just fine. Click on the link to make payments, and you are ready for a page-turning