(A sequel to the Deceitful Sons of Adam)
My stomach churns and my chest burns as though someone is pouring acid on it from the top down.
How can he?
I am seated at Java House Kimathi Street nursing a cup of coffee when they enter. Mordecai looks dashing in his navy blue suit, sky blue shirt, and maroon tie. He is not tall, but neither is he short: he is a man of average height and build. He has a long oval face and a prominently masculine jawline that is softened by dimples that appear when he smiles.
She is decidedly beautiful. Slightly shorter than he is, a glowing dark skin, dimples that match his own and a round face. She looks splendid in a black dress and white coat. There is nothing fancy about the attire, but she is the kind of girl who would look good in anything. Her hair is cropped short, and that somehow emphasizes her pretty round face.
They pick a table at the middle of the room, and from my corner, I can see their faces from the side, although they cannot see me. She is laughing at something he has said and that somehow infuriates me.
I dislike everything about her. In fact, I think I hate her.
But why? She hasn’t done anything wrong to me. Except maybe stealing Mordecai’s attention. Or heart. Yes. That must be it, I realize suddenly. I am afraid that Mordecai will fall in love with her.
But perhaps he won’t. Maybe she is not intelligent. Maybe she is boring. Maybe she is a nag. She is obviously not a good fit for him. Okay, that is cheap. From their animated conversation, it is obvious that she is engaging his brain. So she is most likely intelligent. And from the way Mordecai keeps laughing, she must be witty as well.
And I hate her even more for it.
I take out my phone and text Mordecai.
“Hi dear. Where are you? Can we do coffee today? I am in town.”
I watch as he fumbles with his pockets looking for his phone.
“Not today, I am sorry. Tomorrow perhaps.”
He starts to put the phone in his pocket, and then changes his mind. He holds it for a while then returns it to his pocket. He has switched it off, I realize.
I sit restlessly watching them. I have never seen Mordecai this happy in a long time. Mordecai is not a flirt, and he hardly has any close female friends. He gets along well with female colleagues and members of his church, but none has been close enough to him to bother me. I have always had him to myself, a fact that I have been taking for granted.
Now here is a girl that seems to have blown him away. I realize that I fear that she is better than I am. More beautiful, wittier, more intelligent. It is probably not true, but insecurity does not operate from logic.
I finish up my coffee quickly and beckon the waiter. I pay up and tell him to keep the change. I pick up my handbag and walk in the direction of the table they are occupying. I pass them slightly then turn back, acting surprised.
“Mordecai darling!” I coo in my sweetest voice, pecking him on the cheek. “I didn’t know you are here. I just heard your voice as I was passing,”
“Oh. Hi Joyce. I did not know you are here either. Joyce, meet Stella. Stella meet Joyce,” he says calmly. “I see you are leaving?”
That irritates me. Is he shooing me off?
“Well, yes. Although to be honest I am not in a hurry, I just got bored,” I reply sweetly. “Can I join you?”
“Yes, sure. Have a seat,” the girl says quickly.
Mordecai hesitates, and I grab the chance to pull a chair and sit. There is a moment of awkwardness. Then Mordecai seems to have made up his mind.
“Joyce, I am afraid but you are intruding on a private moment. Stella and I are having a date. Would you be so kind as to give us space?”
He takes Stella’s hand and cups it lovingly in both of his. The girl’s eyes widen in both surprise and embarrassment. That too irritates me. She starts to say something but he waves her into silence. By now my face is flushing with embarrassment. Did he just…
I rise up quickly, take my handbag and walk away without looking back.
I cannot sleep. The evening’s events keep playing in my mind. I am angry. How can Mordecai do that to me? Okay, let him keep his girlfriend. I will be fine. I have always been fine. But no, why should he get away with treating me like trash?
I keep turning in bed until I finally give up and wake up. I switch on the lights and look at my watch. 11 pm.
I walk to the kitchen and fix a cup of tea. Then I take my phone and dial Mordecai’s number.
“Hello?” his sleepy voice answers.
“Am I interrupting something? Is Stella with you?” I say and instantly regret it.
I can hear Mordecai sigh on the other side.
“What is up with you Joyce? You are acting all jealous,”
“No, I am not…”
“Yes, you are. I can bet that when you texted me you had already seen Stella and me and that you were only pretending to have heard my voice as you passed by. What exactly do you want Joyce?”
“What do you mean?”
“Ever since I asked you out six months ago you have made it clear that nothing will happen between us. You have friend zoned me. Then when you see me with a girl you want to ruin it for me? What exactly is your problem?”
“I am sorry, I did not intend to ruin anything for you, and I wish you and Stella all the happiness,” I say and hang up.
It is at this moment that I admit to myself that I actually love Mordecai. But I am admitting that to myself too late, after another woman has taken him from me. I have had him to myself for six months, took him for granted, and now he is gone. Tears instantly flow down my cheeks.
My phone vibrates. He is calling back. I quickly compose myself and pick it. I hope my voice will remain steady.
“Just so you know, you did not ruin anything. Stella is my cousin. She just came back from the US where she was studying. But I did not like how you were acting. You were deliberately sabotaging my date, even though you do not want me for yourself. If it was a romantic date you would have succeeded in ruining it. Listen, Joyce. I still love you. And if you agree, you can be my girlfriend right now. But if you still want us to be just friends, that is also fine. But you must understand that sooner or later I will fall in love with another girl, and I will not take it kindly if you repeat tonight’s performance,”
He is annoyed. I have never heard Mordecai sound so angry.
“I am sorry Mordecai, for everything. I acted like a total idiot tonight, and I am sorry. And…” I pause, not sure how to say it.
“And?” his tone is calmer now.
“I love you too. I am sorry it had to come out this way. But I did not realize that I loved you until I saw you looking all happy with Stella. Does that make sense? I am pleased that she is your cousin, and I do not want to take your love for granted ever again,”
There is momentary silence, and I can almost see Mordecai smiling on the other side.
“Stella said you would call. After you left she said you were marking territory. I said you were above that, but she said that every animal, including the human species, instinctively protects what it loves. She said I should wait for your call. Seems she was right,” he says, laughing.
“Are you mocking me now?” I ask, half-jokingly.
“Of course not darling. I am just so happy! I have been waiting for this moment for six months. I have even forgotten that I am supposed to be angry with you,”
“It is late my love, we should sleep,”
“You are right,” he replies. “Can we do dinner tomorrow to officially celebrate our new status?”
“Of course, sweetheart,”
“See you tomorrow then. Goodnight darling,”
“Good night boyfriend.”
I float back to my bed. Within minutes of tucking myself in the bed, I am floating in another universe. With Mordecai on my side, of course.