“How is he?” Bella asked anxiously as Andrew let himself into his apartment almost twenty four hours after he discovered Joseph’s battered body in his office. He looked exhausted and his eyes were bloodshot. His T-shirt and jeans were stained with dull color of dried blood.
“The operation was successful. They have removed the bullets that were lodged close to his heart and patched up the wound. He has slipped into a coma.” He dropped into the chair with a weary sigh.
“Have you told his mother?” Bella asked as she sat beside him.
“No, I have been putting her off all day but I am sure she will be here any moment from now. He is in Intensive care unit. We were advised to go home as there is nothing else we can do for now.” His voice thickened with unshed tears as he raised blood-shot eyes to her. “I’m scared. I don’t know what I will do if he slips away.” He whispered as tears welled up in his eyes.
“He won’t die. He has too much to live for.” Bella hugged him fiercely.
He wept silently as he buried his face in her neck and held her in a tight embrace. She rubbed his back in an up and down motion, even as her face was wet with her own tears.
“Marry me, Bella, compliment my life. I want you beside me when I go to bed at night and want you to be the first person I see when I wake up.” He stated quietly.
“You are not in the right frame of mind, Andrew. This is not the best time for this.” She drew back and looked into his eyes.
“Don’t worry, I am not going to change my mind. The planning has been going on in my head for sometimes but life is too short to procrastinate. I love you. I want to marry you.” He stared back at her as he lifted her palm and placed a kiss in the middle. She watched him for a long time as if trying to determine if he was serious or not.
“I love you too. I will marry you.” She stated solemnly as if taking an oath.
“Thank you. I am sorry for the odd hour of proposal and for not having a ring handy.” He smiled as he hugged her tightly.
“We can shop for one later. Right now, you need to eat, take your bath and sleep.” She stood up and pulled him with her.
“Someone is at the door.” Bella told him as she came out of the kitchen. He had taken his bath and was eating dinner. He just realized how ravenous he was.
“That should be mother.” Andrew sighed heavily as he pushed the plate away.
“I will get the door.” She went to open the door. He was right. Naomi swept in immediately she opened the door, closely followed by her husband.
“I tried to stop her but she won’t listen to me.” Olayemi gave a resigned sigh.
“Bella, How are you? How is your Dad?” Naomi smiled at her.
“I’m fine. I am sure he is okay but it has been a while I saw him. You are welcome. What can I offer you?” She smiled back.
“I am okay. Thank you. Has he proposed to you formally?” Naomi’s gaze swung from Bella’s face to his own and back again. Bella gasped in surprise.
“Mum, what kind of question is that? You just embarrassed me.” Andrew tried to glare her but his lips turned up at the side in a smile.
“I know my boys so well. I will take that as a yes. Congratulations my dear. I pray and hope you make each other happy.” Naomi drew her into her embrace.
“Thank you.” Bella hugged her back.
“Welcome to our home, my dear.” Olayemi moved to hug her too.
“Thank you sir.” Her grin grew wider.
“Now where is that recalcitrant son of mine?” Naomi stared unflinchingly at him. Andrew turned to look at Olayemi who gave a defeated sigh and sat down.
“He is in the hospital, mum.” He turned to face her squarely.
“I am not surprised.” She moved to sit down. “I keep seeing him in the corner of my eyes but once I turned to face him, he is no longer there. Is he dead?” She asked quietly.
“What kind of question is that, Ife?” Olayemi asked hotly as he vaulted to his feet in anger. Andrew felt his body grew cold as goose bumps covered him and his heart grew heavy.
“He is not dead but he is in a coma.” Andrew sat down beside her and took her cold palm in his. Her fingers curled and tightened around his convulsively.
“What happened to him?” Her voice trembled.
“Some thugs attacked him in his office.” Andrew stated shortly.
“In his office? I see.” Naomi stared unseeingly at the floor.
“I am sorry, Ife. This is my fault. You did warn me but I thought I have everything under control.’ Olayemi murmured in anguish as he took her other hand. She stared into his eyes. He has cried, she thought as she noted the red eyes with the puffy rims.
“I want to see him now.” She got to her feet abruptly.
“Bella, I will see you soon. Lock up and go to bed. I am not sure when I will be back.” Andrew kissed her cheek.
“I will wait for you. Come back with good news.” Bella’s lips trembled.
Joseph sat on a low pavement in front of a bungalow over-looking a thick forest. The thin vest he wore covered series of pink healing scars on his chest and arms and the cut-off shorts exposed his slightly hairy legs. He was bare-footed and humming a song deep in his throat.
“What are you doing here, Joseph? Your family are out there, waiting for you to return.” Rebecca asked in surprise as she came to a stop in front of him.
“I am just relaxing and enjoying the scenery. What are you doing here?” He asked with a smile.
“I have been looking for you. We need to get back. They are worried about you.” She frowned at him.
“I am fine. Why would anyone be worried about me?” He frowned too.
“Well, you need to come and tell them yourself. I am not your messenger.” She glanced towards the thick forest in apprehension.
“This place is perfectly safe. I don’t have to worry about anything plus I don’t feel like going back.” He shrugged with a stubborn jut of his lower lips. He reminded her of Michael.
“If you come with me, I will give you a gift.” She promised mysteriously.
“Really? What kind of gift do you want to give me?” His face lit up.
“You wait and see. Don’t spoil the fun.” Her eyes twinkled at him.
“I will go in and get dressed then.” He grinned as he got to his feet and went indoor.
Rebecca jerked upright and her eyes flew open as she realized someone was calling her name. What a silly dream! My mind must be over-working, she thought in amusement as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
“Doctor Williams, you have been here for more than 24 hours. Who is he to you?” Nurse Amina asked softly, almost in a whisper.
“Don’t worry, Amina. I will tell you one day.” She stood up as she rotated her neck from side to side to work out the crick in the muscle.
“He must be very special. Anyway, I just resumed back on duty. His mother is here to see him.” Amina stood back.
“Oh?’ She smoothed her hand casually over his still arm before turning around.
Naomi was standing a few feet away and watching her with an unreadable expression on her face.
‘Good evening ma.” She blushed furiously.
“Good evening my dear. Long time. You are Doctor Williams?” Naomi stepped forward with an outstretched arms.
‘Yes I am.” She went into the embrace and hugged her tightly. “He will be fine.” She stated solemnly.
“Thank you.” Tears filled Naomi’s eyes as she rocked her from side to side.
“You are welcome. I was only doing my job.” She shrugged self-consciously.
“Really?” Naomi teased as she drew back. They both laughed and moved to his side.
“The operation was successful but he is still unconscious for now. The pain must be hideous, so his brain just needed to shut down and deny it all. They really wanted him dead. He is a lucky one.” She stated solemnly as she stared at his face. He seemed to be sleeping.
“I know.” Naomi’s lips tightened grimly. “Between you and I, do you think he will live?” She turned to her.
“Medically, it is a 50-50 chance. Personally, I think he will live. Let’s keep praying.” She smiled.
“Good. How is your family? I think you should go home and freshened up.” Naomi suggested quietly.
“I will see you later.” Rebecca turned on her heels and walked out.
Naomi occupied the vacant seat and watched her son, struggled for his life. The door opened. Olayemi joined her in the room.
“I have ordered Andrew to go home. He needs his rest.” He squeezed her shoulders lightly from behind. She put her left hand over his right hand and left it there as they watched him in silence.
Joseph’s right hand shifted slightly. They froze in anticipation. His lips moved. Naomi moved closer to watch the movement of the lips.
“Becky?” They both chorused and stared at each other.
“Who is Becky?’ Olayemi asked in a puzzled voice.
“That is Doctor Williams.” Naomi smiled, even as tears filled her eyes. Gratitude filled her heart. It seemed her son was going to live after all.
“Is she the same person as Becky Badmus, the woman you told me about?” His brows knitted together as he tried to put the pieces together. She nodded as she tried not to burst into tears.
“How come? He had been unconscious since he was brought in. How did he know she was here?” He stared at her in absolute wonder as he reached for her hand and pulled her up.
“Are you seriously asking me that question?” She teased as she wiped tears from her face. He grinned.
“Our son will live. Let me get the Doctor on duty.” He kissed her on both cheeks before moving out of the unit.