(Continued from Rocking the Boat I)
Charlotte is in charge of the hospitality ministry at the church. Amongst other things, this job entails hosting visitors in the boardroom after the church service. She loves this job because she enjoys meeting new people. Her husband usually pops in briefly to greet the visitors, before going off to talk to other congregants. Sunday is the busiest day in the life of a pastor.
Today, though, Charlotte is not looking forward to the task at hand. She does not trust herself around Jack. She doesn’t understand what is happening to her, because it has been over twenty years since they parted ways. She should have forgotten him by now. Besides, she is married to a good man.
Charlotte thinks about delegating today’s hosting and leaving another member of the team to do it. But where will she be meanwhile?
Jack saw Charlotte when he arrived in Murang’a on Wednesday. He was taken aback by her beauty. She is over forty, but she could pass for a twenty eight year old. She doesn’t look any different from the time they were at Maseno University together. Except that she is married now. He saw the ring on her finger.
That day he had been shopping at Magunas Supermarket when he spotted her on the aisle. He did not feel ready to face her, so he stayed out of sight. But he followed her around and checked out of the supermarket a few minutes after she did. He saw her enter a black Toyota Harrier, and out of curiosity, he started his Mercedes and followed.
He was glad he had come to town with the Mercedes. It is a small car that can easily blend in with the other cars in Murang’a. The Range Rover, on the other hand, would have stood out, and therefore is not the best car to use when you have to follow someone.
Professionally, Jack has done well for himself. His first company was a roaring success, and he made quite some money. But he sold his shares to his ex-wife and the other shareholders when he and his wife got divorced. He founded another company last year, and while it is yet to be as successful as the previous one, it is doing well. The main office is in Nairobi, but he wants to set up an office in Murang’a where he can work whenever he doesn’t feel like going over to the city.
He is also constructing a modern home in Kiangage village. His father gave him three acres of ancestral land, and that is where he plans to settle. He had a home in the city, but he lost it to his ex-wife Whitney during the divorce. Whitney divorced him when she caught him in bed with his secretary.
Whitney is the girl he dumped Charlotte for. Unlike Charlotte, Whitney was a wild girl. She smoked and drank heavily and she was not averse to strange sexual fantasies. Theirs was an open relationship: both of them were free to sleep with other people. The only rule was that neither of them was allowed to get emotionally entangled with a third party. They were dating each other, and anyone else they got involved with was a casual sex partner.
Whitney made Jack go crazy, that is why he started getting tired of Charlotte and her uptight Christian rules on dating. Even Charlotte apparently did not strictly believe in those rules, because when she realized he was slipping away from her, she threw herself at him and they had some desperate sex for about three months. But she wanted to control him, and that is the reason he ended the relationship. Dating Whitney came with freedom.
He dated Whitney throughout campus and afterwards. It was fun. After campus they both got jobs in Kisumu, before they relocated to Nairobi to start the company. Whitney is brainy and was very instrumental in the early stages of the company, especially with marketing. She is eloquent and could really pitch to both investors and customers. Jack focused on developing the products-mostly mobile applications-while she focused on marketing and developing the structures of the company. She was the Chief Operating Officer while Jack was the Chief Executive Officer.
When the company was up and running, Whitney out of the blue said she wanted a “family of my own”.
“What does that mean?” Jack had asked.
“We are getting old, Jack. We cannot continue sleeping around and running wild like teenagers. It is time to settle down. So let me know if you intend to marry me.”
That had caught Jack by surprise. He had not imagined Whitney as someone to be tied down by societal norms such as marriage. But he also knew he could not afford to lose her primarily because she owned almost half of the company, and he did not think he was ready to go it alone. Besides, if he was getting married, he figured that getting married to Whitney would be best; he could still sleep around without really cheating. That is how it had always worked between him and Whitney. Even when she insisted that after marriage they would have to be faithful to each other, he did not really believe it.
But Whitney changed after the wedding. All over a sudden she became domesticated. She started donning suits to the office, even when she wasn’t meeting clients. She quit smoking and drinking, except for the occasional glass of wine during parties. She even started going to church regularly.
Jack noticed all these changes with increasing alarm. But things came to head a few after the wedding, when she found him flirting with a marketing assistant. She gave him an ultimatum; shape up or ship out. Jack knew the real implication of the threat; although they owned the company 40:40, with 20% held by investors, Jack knew she could kick him out of the company because she had more sway with the external investors and the Board of Directors.
He promised to change, but what he did was that he became more discreet in his affairs. He still slept around, but he kept it quiet so that Whitney wouldn’t know. He also toned down his drinking and smoking, but unlike her, he did not stop altogether. He kept this up for fifteen years, until she caught him with his secretary the year before last. The consequences were swift. She divorced him with surgical precision: no tears, no accusations no nothing.
She just kicked him out of the house they had bought in Syokimau, Split their savings him, got the board to fire him from his position as the CEO of the company and filed for divorce and partial custody of their two children. She gave him almost all their savings because she wanted the house. She almost seemed relieved to get rid of him. He couldn’t blame her. Their marriage had been dead for years, and they had been simply tolerating each other. He had also grown tired of sneaking around when he wanted to sleep with someone he fancied. The only regret he has is that he doesn’t get to see his children anymore.
Jack was entitled to having the boys every weekend. But the first weekend he had them in his house turned out to be a disaster. To celebrate his freedom from marital chains, he held a party in the house. The kids ended up in a house full of drunk men and women having sex all over, from the kitchen to sitting room. The boys were horrified and phoned their mother.
When Whitney arrived, she found a naked Jack on the couch with two equally naked college girls. He was too drunk to understand the implication of her presence. In her usual ruthless efficiency, she took the boys and cut him out of their lives completely. When she and the boys told the judge ant happened, she did not have any difficulty getting full custody of the children. After that night, the boys wanted nothing to do with him. That actually hurt, but Jack told himself they would one day grow up to be men and that is when they would understand him. The older one is fifteen, and the younger one is thirteen.
On Wednesday, when Jack followed Charlotte from the supermarket, she drove to a church called Bethlehem Victory Chapel. There was singing going on, so he assumed that a midweek service was underway. He drove on without slowing down. He purposed to attend Sunday service at the church, because he was sure Charlotte would be there. A person who attends midweek services cannot miss a Sunday service. When he arrived today, he realized that the church has two services, and that he had missed the first one and was late for the second. That did not bother him. He knew he could always come early next week and attend both services.
He was not surprised to see his former classmate preaching; Ryan was a preacher even back in college. But he was surprised to learn that he (Ryan) was the Senior Pastor in the church. He couldn’t understand why such an intelligent person would dump computer science to pastor a small church. He was also surprised to learn that Charlotte was Ryan’s wife, although with the benefit of hindsight, they made the perfect couple. That has not changed his mission though. He still wants to sleep with Charlotte. He wants to find out whether she is still as passionate in bed as she was those many years ago.
He has seen the desire in her eyes, and he is greatly encouraged.
Charlotte is heading out of the boardroom when she meets him. There is no way she can avoid him.
“Hello Charlotte,” Jack says smoothly. “You are as beautiful as ever.”
“I am a married woman, Jack.”
“Yea, I know.”
He is smiling at her, and she feels as if she is under a spell.
“Seeing you now, reminds me of the good times we had.”
Charlotte looks to see if anyone has heard that. But there is no one within earshot.
“What do you want?” she asks.
“I want you. And I know you want me too. I can see it in your eyes.” Charlotte shivers involuntarily.
Image by Jackson David from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/hands-hand-together-prayer-5216585/
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