Rick and Kyle are flying to Italy for an exchange program between their school and an Italian school in Rome. Ten boys will be traveling. Rick and Kyle were chosen because they are not only the top students in their class, but also because they are the school’s lawn tennis stars. The school is sponsoring two parents and five teachers to accompany the boys. Kyle’s mother Christabel, or Christy as she is popularly called, has been chosen as one of the two parents. Rick’s dad, Richard, is in Spain attending a conference, and they will find him in Italy when they arrive. Rick and Kyle will be playing in a school tournament in Rome, and they are elated to have their parents there.
The two boys are inseparable. Rick’s mother Dorothy, or simply Dot, has been friends with Christy since primary school. They went to Chogoria Girls Boarding Primary school in Tharaka Nithi, their home county, before crossing over to the neighboring Chogoria Girls High School. They both went to KMTC Meru campus to study nursing. After graduating, both Dot and Christy were employed by the government and posted to Chuka General Hospital. It is at Chuka Hospital that Dorothy met Richard, an ambitious young doctor. They fell in love and after a brief dating period, got married at PCEA Chogoria Town Church. Christy was the maid of honor at the wedding. Richard and Dot started their marital life in a rented house in Chuka, not far from the hospital.
Richard is not a Tharaka Nithi native. His parents are from Kitui, but he was born and brought up in Nairobi. Rick was born a year after his parent’s wedding. Two years after Rick’s birth, Dot and Richard acquired two acres of land in Chogoria and set up their home. They became active members of PCEA Chogoria Town Church. They later got two other children, the twins Alice and Sharon.
Richard’s ambition was to start a rural hospital to cater for the needs of the poor. He resigned from his job and started a clinic, Beeline Clinic, on half an acre of their land. The idea was to offer premium services to the super-rich which would enable the hospital to offer free services to the poorest of the poor. He hoped to attract financiers who could support the cause, and help him build a high-end hospital that the wealthy would be willing to go to and pay top dollar, and in the process enable the hospital to offer free services to the poor.
The agreement was that Dot would remain in employment for a while and pay their bills until the clinic started making money. The gamble paid off, and they got financial backing from a Russian tycoon called Vladmir Rostoktov. They were introduced to Rostoktov by an American friend of Richard, whom he met while attending a medical conference in New York. Rostoktov gave them 6 billion shillings as initial capital to establish the hospital, in exchange for 30 percent stake in the hospital.
Dot resigned from her job and joined the hospital as the COO. She added a degree in nursing to her diploma and also did an MBA. Richard, the CEO, has also added an MBA to his degree in medicine and surgery. They formed a five-member board of Directors, with Rostoktov as the chairman. Rostoktov attends most meetings on Skype but has visited the hospital thrice. Richard and Dot have built Beeline Hospital into a high-end facility sitting on 100 acres of land in rural Chogoria. It has modern equipment imported from Russia, including modern cancer facility and a modern kidney transplant and dialysis center. The hospital has also attracted top specialists in medicine. Over the years, the reputation of Beeline Hospital has grown to legendary heights. East African tycoons come here for treatment.
The hospital has remained true to its objectives. It is divided into two wings separated by a brick fence. Each of the two wings is a complete hospital on its own right, but they have identical equipment. The doctors are the same, and often cross over from one to the other, but each wing has its own nurses and other staff.
One of the two wings has more non-medical facilities. There are furnished apartments which families of the patients can use, there is a mall, swimming pool, and a children’s fun park. There are no general wards on this wing; each patient gets a private ward. This wing is dedicated to the super-rich. They prefer to have their privacy, and since they foot the bills, Richard and Dot built a separate mini-hospital for them. The other wing is for the poor who do not pay a cent but who are thoroughly vetted to ensure they deserve admission. Richard and Dot’s hospital is not for the middle class: you either can pay in millions or can’t even afford to pay for NHIF subscription.
The hospital has been a success, making Richard and Dot very wealthy. They have invested at the NSE, holding shares in top companies. They have also invested in real estate and also own a couple of hotels.
Around the time Dot was pregnant with Rick, Christy also became pregnant. It is then that her relationship with Alexander, a secondary school teacher, became public. Christy moved in with him at his ancestral home. Kyle was born two days after Rick. But Alexander is an irresponsible father and husband. He drinks too much and runs after every skirt in sight. He has fathered three children with three different women in their village, and only God knows how many other children are carrying his blood out there.
Alexander spends his entire salary on alcohol and sometimes even demands money from Christy. If she declines, he beats her. A few years ago he started selling the land that he inherited from his father. He has already sold five of the seven acres he inherited, but Christy has never seen a coin of that money. She once went to the land board and attempted to block the sale of the land, but later that night he beat her to a pulp and she decided it was not worth it. She doesn’t even have to sign spousal consent affidavits for the sale of land: he forges them.
They have six children because he was opposed to family planning, but after giving birth to the sixth child, Christy started using contraceptives without his knowledge.
Christy has become bitter over the years. She is struggling to raise up her children and support an irresponsible husband. Alexander does not know anything about school fees or clothes or even the cost of an onion. So Christy is struggling with loans to meet the demands of her family. Twice, Dot has stepped in and paid Rick’s school fees because Christie could not afford it. It was humiliating even though Dot assured her there was nothing to be ashamed of. She was doing a fantastic job raising the six children single-handedly.
Dot and Richard have been urging her to leave Alexander and raise the children in a more peaceful environment. They offered to hire her at Beeline, which offers way better salaries than the government, but she declined. She felt it would be humiliating for her friend to become her boss. Christy may not admit it, but she is jealous of Dot.
Christy leaves her other five children with Dot when she flies to Rome with the students. It is her first time to fly and she can’t help but gawk at the airplanes. She is scared stiff when the plane hits turbulence, and images of plane crashes she has seen on TV flash through her mind.
Once in Rome, they are settled in a hotel about ten minutes drive away from their host school. The boys will be sharing rooms, but the teachers and parents will each have a room. By sheer coincidence, it is the same hotel that Richard has booked. He is, however staying in a premium suite because he is paying for it and so his place is bigger and better.
Richard, Christy, Rick, and Kyle have dinner in the main restaurant of the hotel on that first night. Kyle and Rick leave shortly after dinner because they have an early morning training, leaving their parents to finish dessert.
Christy tries not to stare at Richard, but it is difficult. He is handsome, unlike her miserable husband. He talks with a rich voice and actually laughs at her jokes. He looks at her in the eye as she talks. She feels special. What did Dot do to get this angel?
He is dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, revealing parts of his well-toned body. His lips look soft and fleshy. Without thinking, Christabel moves over to him and kisses him on the lips. Richard is surprised but does not resist. He kisses her back then starts caressing her.
He takes her by the hand and leads her to his room, where a carnal session begins with abandon. In the throes of passion, they do not hear the soft knocks on the door or the door opening after the third knock. In their hurry, they forgot to lock it.
“Dad!” a voice shouts from the door.
Richard quickly disentangles himself from Christy and turns to look. At the door is his stunned teenage son, Rick.
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