Andrew was pacing the waiting room, outside the labor room, murmuring prayers under his breath when Joseph hurried to meet him.
‘How is she?’ He asked anxiously.
‘She has been in there for hours. They won’t even allow me to stay with her.’ He complained bitterly.
‘They won’t allow you to stay with her because you are adding to her anxiety.’ Naomi quipped in an amused voice from where she sat in a corner of the waiting room.
‘Mum!’ Joseph protested laughingly while Andrew glared at her.
‘Joseph, take him out for a drink. Our baby will be waiting before you guys return.’ Ifeoma suggested with a smile. She was sitting beside Naomi with a rosary in her hand.
‘How can I go and drink when my wife is struggling to bring forth our child?’ He turned to glare at his mother in law.
‘Well, pacing a hole in the floor will not ease her pain, will it?’ Naomi cocked a brow at her.
‘Is Becky on duty today?’ Joseph asked his mother.
‘No, she is not on duty. I gave her a call and she came in to assist. She is in the labor room with the rest of the medical team. Take that boy away before I cuffed his ear.’ Naomi told him, solemnly.
Ifeoma laughed as Joseph pulled a resisting Andrew out of the waiting room.
‘Congratulations, New mama!’ Rebecca grinned at the new mother, holding the infant in her arms.
‘Thank you, Doctor Williams. Is that my son?’ Bella looked tired but she was smiling.
‘Yes, Mrs. Ken.’ Naomi helped her sit up in bed by adjusting the pillows around her.
‘He is so beautiful.’ Bella breathed as the sleeping infant was placed in her arms. ‘Please call me Bella. You have been so good to me.’ She grinned up at her.
‘You can call me Becky then. I have to go now. I am resuming back on duty in the evening. I will check up on you then.’ Rebecca ran a finger lightly over the smooth cheek before she straightened up.
‘Thank you, Becky. I appreciate your assistance today.’ Naomi told her as she walked her to the door of the private ward.
‘You are most welcome. Please go home immediately Mrs. Awodele comes back to relieve you. I don’t want you to over-work yourself. You guys have been here for over 24 hours.’ Rebecca warned her in a solemn voice.
‘Okay dear. Take care of yourself. Give my love to Michael.’ Naomi patted her back.
‘I will. Thank you, ma’am.’ Rebecca walked away.
Two hours later, Ifeoma came in with Maria and Aliyah. Naomi left immediately they arrived. The younger girls ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ over the infant while the mother dozed off.
A nurse came to take the infant from them and gave them the warning to keep their voices down.
‘Mum, you have been unusually quiet.’ Maria gave her mother a concerned look.
‘I’m fine. I’m just so happy for Bella.’ She paused and met their questioning gaze.
‘Your biological father is dead, Aliyah. He committed suicide in his cell in the jail or it seemed so.’ She told her quietly.
‘That means you are free from his blackmail forever, right?’ Aliyah asked with a sad smile.
‘Yes, I am. I am sorry, dear.’ Ifeoma took her hand in hers as her eyes shone with unshed tears.
‘It is okay, mum. I don’t know him and I felt nothing for him. He hurt you and I am glad he paid for his deed.’ She shrugged with indifference.
‘You are one brave soul, little sister.’ Maria kissed her cheeks and squeezed her shoulders affectionately.
‘Thank you. He probably stepped on some other toes and the owner wasn’t so forgiving.’ She gave another shrug. ‘How are you holding on, mum?’ She was referring to the divorce.
‘I’m pretty good. I am at peace with myself. I miss you, girls, though. The house seemed too big without the lots of you.’ Ifeoma smiled at both of them.
‘How is the new boo?’ Maria winked at her.
‘He is crazy about Olamide. He proposes last night.’ She displayed her engagement finger with a flare.
Maria clamped her hand over her mouth to prevent herself from screaming as she stared at the twinkling gold.
‘Congratulations! I am going to start preparing for another wedding very soon.’ Their mother grinned as she hugged her last daughter.
‘Yes, mum.’ She grinned at her mother and hugged her sister too.
‘I’m deliriously happy for you, baby sis.’ Maria hugged her tightly.
‘Thank you, big sis. How is your bobo?’ She moved back to smile into her eyes.
‘You, guys should chill for now. We are not in a hurry. It is one day at a time. Let’s plan your own wedding first.’ Maria grinned broadly at her with a wink.
‘You make me happy, girls.’ She held their hands in each of her own and smiled with tear-filled eyes.
‘Mum, you know dad has already moved in with the Coker woman. Are you planning to settle down too?’ Maria asked solemnly.
‘I am not in a hurry for anything, girls.’ She shrugged with indifference.
‘I don’t think so. A certain good-looking elderly gentleman came to check on me this afternoon. He knew I was here because he was your friend.’ Bella spoke for the first time since she woke up.
Ifeoma’s eyes lowered as six pairs of curious eyes turned to her. She wrung her heads and bit her lower lips before she spoke in a barely audible voice.
‘He is just my friend. He was a client before he becomes a close friend.’
‘He wants to be more than a friend, Mum. You know it.’ Bella teased as she sat up in bed.
‘I’m just getting close to you, girls. I don’t want to lose that friendship because of a man.’ She raised worried gaze to her eldest daughter.
‘Mum, we will all leave your house eventually. We don’t want you to be lonely. All we wanted is your happiness. If he makes you happy, go for him please.’ Maria hugged her mother from behind.
‘That is right. Do whatever makes you happy and gives you peace of mind. Life is too short to delay for too long.’ Aliyah kissed her cheeks.
‘Thank you, girls. I appreciate you all.’ She beamed at them one after the other.
James Hogg met Rebecca at the hospital as she was leaving one afternoon. She recognized him instantly.
‘Mr. Hogg, Good afternoon. Thanks for coming the other day. Do you have a client here?’ She went to shake his extended hand with a warm smile.
‘No, I came to see you. Please call me James. Are you leaving now?’ He looked at her bag.
‘Yes, James. Please call me Becky. Hope it is not a serious issue?’ She gave him a solemn look.
‘I will drop you off then. Please join me in my car.’ He led her to his tinted dull color BMW and opened the back seat for her.
‘Thank you.’ She murmured as she slides into the cool interior.
He joined her at the back and signaled for the driver to drive. A glass partition gave them some level of privacy.
‘Ramsey William’s case was a foregone one. He has signed your divorce letter and you are a free woman. Congratulations, Becky.’ He smiled at her.
‘Thank you. His father was a judge and he got a very good lawyer for him but nemesis was stronger. I am happy he is out of our life forever. I can’t believe I was married to him.’ She shuddered with horror and revulsion.
‘We all make mistakes. His families are not too happy with you at the moment. That tape nailed him finally.’ He gave her a close look. She sighed.
‘I know what is on that tape because I remember every single word of the conversation we had.’ She looked at him. ‘Yes. Michael is his son.’ She answered his unspoken question.
‘Is he aware? I have already given him a copy of that recording. I don’t want anything to cause a rift between you guys. He is very fond of you.’
‘I will tell him immediately he gets back into the country. He took the kids back to Manchester for the holiday. Thank you for your concern.’ She smiled at him.
‘That gives me a big relief. I hope to attend a wedding soon. We are at your home already.’ He smiled at her.
‘Thank you, James. See you soon.’ She leaned over to kiss his cheek before sliding out of the car.
The confrontation came sooner than she expected.
It was her day off. Elizabeth was on two days leave from work. They were both in the sitting room, watching a seasoned film titled ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ when a sharp knock penetrated their absorption.
‘Are you expecting a visitor?’ Rebecca asked with an irritated frown.
‘No. I will see who it is and send him or her away. I really don’t want to miss any part of this interesting movie.’ She hurried to the door and peeped through. It was Joseph.
‘Guess who it is.’ She grinned as she unlocked the door and flung it open.
Rebecca snorted and pressed the ‘pause’ button on the VCR’s remote control as she looked towards the doorway. Joseph strolled past Elizabeth and came to a stop a few feet from her.
He was not smiling. His dark frown matched his dark chinos trouser and black silk shirt. Her heart lurched in fear.
‘What is it, Joseph?’ She got shakily to her feet.
‘Who is Michael’s biological father?’ He asked quietly. She swallowed hard. She hadn’t envisaged telling him this way.
‘I didn’t do any DNA test to confirm his paternity.’ She began weakly.
‘Stop stalling, Becky. You know the father of your son or that was just to get your husband off your back? Did you lie?’ His voice was frosty. She winced.
‘You are his father.’ She mumbled under her breath. He went absolutely still.
‘Say that again.’
‘Joseph, you heard me the first time. You are his father.’ She raised her voice to him, even as her hands trembled. She put it behind her back.
‘I don’t believe you. We will run a DNA test. If he is mine truly..’ He paused as he glared at her. ‘I will take him away from you and you will never set your eyes on him again. You disgust me.’ He snarled at her. His heart ached and he rubbed at it.
‘You don’t dare do that to me, Joe. It is not fair.’ She stared at him in plain horror.
‘What is not fair is denying me my son for five good years. You are wicked.’ He turned on his heels and strode towards the door. She ran after him. Elizabeth moved out of his way.
‘Don’t do this to me, Joe. I didn’t keep him from you intentionally. Please listen to me.’ She pleaded desperately.
‘Stay away from me, Becky. I will use everything I have to fight for his custody if he is mine. I don’t want to lay my eyes on you again.’ He gave her a frosty look and walked out of their room.
She slid to the floor in a dead faint.
‘Doctor Williams, are you alright?’ The voice seemed to come from far away. Her mind struggled to free her from the deep abyss of darkness she was in and her eyes fluttered open. It was Nurse Amina.
‘Where am I?’ She tried to sit up but she held her down.
‘You are in your room. Your mum called me. Fortunately, I was close by. We were just thinking of taking you to the hospital now.’ Three pairs of eye gazed down worriedly at her.
‘I’m fine. What happened to me?’ She looked puzzled.
‘Joseph was here and you had an argument concerning Michael.’ Elizabeth bit her lips nervously.
‘I remembered.’ She sank back tiredly into the pillow and closed her eyes.
‘I need to talk to you privately.’ Nurse Amina told her quietly.
‘Will she be alright?’ Ruth stared down at her daughter with deep concern. Amina had a feeling she knew what she was about to discuss.
‘I’m fine, mum. I will join you in a moment.’ Rebecca smiled up at her mother.
‘We will be in the sitting room.’ Elizabeth took her mother’s arm and stirred her out of the room.
She waited till they were out of the room and they have closed the door behind them.
‘Doctor Williams, I think you are pregnant.’ Amina sat on the bed beside her.
‘That is not possible. I have been on birth control since I gave birth to Michael.’ Rebecca sat upright in bed, abruptly. Her heart hammered with a painful thud in her chest. Don’t let this happen to me, God. She prayed fervently in her mind.
‘Michael is nearly five years old. Did you check if it is still intact? It does expire you know.’ Amina raised an eyebrow at her.
‘I didn’t have any reason to worry about it until recently.’ She muttered under her breath. Amina smiled in sympathy. ‘It was just once. Damn.’ She hissed in frustration.
‘Once is enough, Doc Williams. We both know that.’ Her smile turned amusing.
‘I will have to abort it. I don’t need another child to complicate my life right now.’ She decided immediately.
‘Do you really want to? You don’t want to talk to the father.’ She gave her a searching look.
‘He won’t talk to me. It is complicated. You can’t understand.’ Rebecca covered her face as she burst into tears. Her shoulder shook with body-wracking sobs.
‘It will be alright.’ She murmured as she hugged and rocked her gently.
‘Thank you. I will be alright.’ She gave her a watery smile.
‘Please cheer up. I have to leave now. I am on duty this evening.’ She glanced at her wrist-watch.
‘Thank you for coming. I appreciate it. Do extend my regards to your family.’ She smiled at her as the other woman left the room.
Rebecca was curled up on the bed, staring at the window when Elizabeth came in with her dinner. She waved her away and the dinner grew cold as she kept her lonely vigil until dawn appeared in the sky.
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