Continued from My Flesh and Blood III
Flora wakes up early in the morning, as she usually does, although today she is not going to work. She always wakes up early because she is the one who prepares breakfast, and she is also the one who irons her husband’s clothes. After spreading the bed, she walks to the closet and chooses a suit for him, as she always does. The suit is already ironed, so she irons the shirt. Today she chooses a white shirt to go with his black suit. Then she chooses a red tie and a red pair of socks for him. Today is a romantic day. She takes a pair of black shoes from the rack and polishes them. Her shoes do not need polishing. She doesn’t want him to suspect any of her plans, so she chooses formal wear for herself-a navy blue skirt suit. She irons it and lays it out on the bed, next to his clothes.
She walks out of the master bedroom and goes to the kitchen. She slept with the door locked so she assumes that Jerome spent the night with his new flame. She is still furious with both of them, but at night she convinced herself that she can contain her anger for a few hours so as not to ruin her plans. She hums a hymn as she prepares tea and peels sweet potatoes.
The lovebirds get to the sitting room just as she is laying the breakfast on the dining table. They do not have a separate dining room, but the house does have a spacious sitting room that accommodates a dining table. That is one of the things that has been worrying Flora. Most rental houses are usually not big enough to accommodate such things. But she cannot be ungrateful so she told herself that if the sitting room will not accommodate her dining set, she will store in the extra bedroom and probably sell it later.
“Good morning sweetheart,” Jerome greets her sweetly, as though he did not spend the night in the arms of another woman. Both Jerome and Ruth are fully dressed: Jerome in the black suit that Flora laid out for him, and Ruth in a yellow dress with black flowers. Flora remembers buying that dress for her birthday just two months ago.
“Good morning,” Flora replies, trying her best to remove the ice from her voice.
“Thank you for ironing my clothes. But moving forward please be doing the same for Ruth. She is going to be working at the church office from today.”
Flora feels like slapping him. What does he think she is? His house help? But she is leaving, and she doesn’t want to cause drama that might ruin her plans. So she simply says “okay”. Jerome, being the pastor, gives thanks for the food and they start eating.
Jerome and Ruth leave shortly after breakfast and Flora is left doing the dishes. As she watches Jerome open the front door of her car for Ruth, the same car she bought with a loan, Flora cannot help but get angry again. After rinsing the utensils, she goes back to the master bedroom, and dresses in a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and rubber shoes. She packs the suit she had removed earlier into a suitcase alongside the rest of her clothes.
The two lorries arrive at 8.30 am, just as Joy had promised. Flora guides the young loaders who come with the lorries as they remove items from the house. They cart away everything, from furniture, electronics, kitchen items, bedding…everything except Jerome and Ruth’s clothes. On a whim, Flora removes Ruth’s clothes from the spare bedroom and arranges them neatly in the master bedroom, in the space where her own clothes had been. Since she is now the woman of the house, she may as well occupy the throne of the family.
The young men work hard, and by 9.30 am everything is in the lorries. Flora locks the front door and hops onto the front seat of one of the lorries. Flora is relieved. She had thought that someone, perhaps her parents-in-law, would snitch on her to Jerome before they finished packing. Not that he would have stopped her, but she is glad that she has avoided a confrontation.
She is a bag of mixed emotions though. Nothing would have prepared her for this. There was nothing in her relationship with Jerome that would have indicated that he is cheating. He has always treated her nicely. But with the benefit of hindsight, she can now see that he and her sister had become too close in the recent past. They had even developed inside jokes that she was not privy to. But she did not take notice at the time because never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined that the two of them would do such a thing to her.
But they did.
When they get to Thika, Flora is delighted to discover that her house is not far from the company where she works. It is a ten-minute boda boda ride. She can even walk if she feels like it, and if she has time.
The house itself is quite spacious. It is not as large as the house she has left in Kenol, but it is more than enough for a woman living alone. The building has ten houses, which are a mixture of one-bedroom and two-bedroom houses. Flora’s house is on the first floor, which is convenient for her. She finds Joyce waiting for her there, as she had promised. Joy directs the young men to unload the lorries and arrange everything as per Flora’s instructions.
Flora nearly cries. She has been betrayed by two people she trusted the most. But here is someone, who is not even a relative, going out of her way to help her.
“Thank you, Joy. I don’t know how I will ever repay your kindness,” she says over and over again.
When they get to the church, Jerome does not open the car door for Ruth. He is smart enough to know that he shouldn’t start creating impressions on his staff so early. Of course, everyone will eventually know about his relationship with Ruth, but they will only get to know on his terms. Ruth stays in the car for a few seconds waiting for him to open the door, and when she realizes that he doesn’t intend to, she opens it herself with a whiff of irritation. She had wanted to see the envy on the face of the church staff when the boss opens the door for her. Still, they will get to know that she is the new boss in town very soon. She quickly walks up to him. He locks the car with the remote key and leads her towards the office.
As they walk together towards the church offices, Ruth can feel the eyes of the church staff on her, even though she cannot see them. They must be envious, as they should be. She is not in their class. She is a cut above. Even Jerome should feel privileged to have a piece of her.
“Good morning Jessica,” Jerome greets his secretary when they get to his office.
“Good morning Pastor.”
“You had a good night?”
“Yes Pastor, I did. The Lord kept me well throughout the night, and for that, I am grateful to him.”
“Amen. You know Ruth, right?”
“Of course pastor. I know she is your sister-in-law and a member of the worship team. Everyone speaks very highly of her.”
“I am glad to hear that, because from today she is going to be working with us. There is that room that we have been using as a spare store…the one that has the old speakers and whatnot?”
“Ask Johnson to clear it. Let him take all those things to the main store. Gilbert can assist him. Then tell Margaret to clean it because it is going to be Ruth’s office. Prepare requisitions for a desk, chairs, a coat hanger, a laptop and a printer for my approval. Then call our lawyer Killian and tell him that we have a new staff member on board and we need a contract. He can send one of his associates.”
“Do all that right now, okay?”
“Good. Ruth, you can use the boardroom in the meantime. We will alert you when everything is ready.”
As Jessica watches Ruth disappearing to the boardroom, her heart is pounding. She has never liked Ruth, and that feeling is stronger now than ever. She watched from the window as Pastor Jerome and Ruth got out of the car and she did not like it one bit.
Jessica is jealous. She is certain that something is going on between Pastor Jerome and his sister-in-law. She has sensed it for a few months now, by just looking at how the two of them behave around each other, but she has been dismissing the thought. Flora didn’t seem concerned, so Jessica thought she was the one who was overthinking. But this morning, she is more than sure that she was right.
Jessica is jealous because she has been Jerome’s lover for the last few years. From the day Jerome told her that he loved her, the same day when he kissed her, she has been crazy about him. She adores him. She feels guilty, especially when she is in the presence of Flora, but she cannot help it. Flora is a good woman, and she has been like a mother to Jessica. Jessica wishes she weren’t so deeply in love with the woman’s husband, but she cannot help it.
But now there is competition. Ruth is roughly the same age as Jessica. She is just as cute, but she is more educated. She has a degree in economics, while Jessica only has a certificate in secretarial studies. If Jerome wants her, it is not hard to see why.
Jessica doesn’t want to lose him though. And she doesn’t want to share him either, except with his legitimate wife Flora. She knows that if his relationship with Ruth gets intense, she will be pushed aside, and that will affect her in two ways. The first is emotional. She is in love with the man, and it will be hard to see him loving another woman while she watches from a distance. Especially if that woman is working in the same office. The second is financial. Over and above her salary, Jerome has been paying her house rent and her utility bills. He is the one who rented the two-bedroom stand-alone house that she resides in. The owner of the house lives and works in Dubai and so he rents it out because he doesn’t need it.
That has been their love nest for the last few years, away from prying eyes. The house even comes with a garden, and there is a fence all around it. Jessica knows that she cannot afford the rent on her salary. She also cannot afford all the fine things that Jerome has been paying for, including DSTV. If she loses him as the love of her life, she will be left not only heartbroken but also broke. She has to do something to stop this nonsense.
She has to find a way of getting rid of this woman.
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Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/woman-african-american-model-4887737/
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