Continued from Step Dad I
Michael is seething when he enters the house, but he is trying his best not to show it. He releases Joel to the nanny and then retires to the bedroom. He knows that the time has come when he has to make a decision over his life. Things cannot continue like this. He loves Rachel, and he has no doubt that she loves him back. But that is beside the point. Their love cannot blossom in such a hostile environment. She is tethered to her father and her children by blood; but he is not. Which means he can walk away for the sake of his peace of mind.
Walking away will have its implications. First, it means he might never see his son again. Daniel might pressure Rachel to deny him access to Joel. Joel has been one of the two bright spots in the otherwise dark gloom that has been this marriage. The other has been Rachel, which is ironical because more often than not when a marriage is in peril, the dispute is usually between husband and wife. But Michael finds that he cannot fault Rachel, except for the fact she is unable to reign in her father and children. And that is the second implication: leaving means he will be walking away from the woman he loves, and one who loves him.
Walking away will also mean that he will have to walk away from his job at Danmate. That is not a problem, because he doesn’t doubt that he will get another job. There are so many hotels that can do with a man of his experience and qualifications. Michael has a Bachelor’s degree Hotel Management, a Master’s degree in Strategic Management and an MBA. He is also a Certified Public Accountant of Kenya (CPA-K). He has twelve years of experience in the hotel industry, five of which have been spent in senior management. He joined Sarova Stanley as an intern at 24 years of age, shortly after he completed his undergraduate studies. He went on to work there for five years before moving to Hotel Ludwig. It is in Ludwig that he started getting his managerial experience. In fact, he has remained in good terms with both the owner of the hotel and its CEO, even after he left. They understood that he needed the career growth and financial benefits that Danmate would give him, the latter being a bigger company than their own. But they have always told him that he is welcome to go back to Ludwig if he ever wants to.
But even if he doesn’t get a job immediately, he is not worried about short term survival. He has savings. He and his wife save an equal amount jointly every month, and he doesn’t think Rachel would deny him access to his share of the savings. It is simply not in her character to be spiteful. But Michael knows that he will have to have a conversation with her to communicate his decision to leave. He knows that it will be a painful conversation to have, but he is confident that his wife will understand.
He has hardly sat down on the bed when Rachel enters the room, a concerned look on her face.
“Babe are you okay?”
“No, of course I am not okay sweetheart. I am sure you heard the things that Daniella said to me.”
Saying ‘Daniella’ instead of ‘your daughter’ sounds easy now, but it hasn’t always been that way. During the early periods of the marriage, Michael tried very hard not to tell Rachel that Daniel and Daniella are “her children” especially when they disrespected him, because he knew that that would hurt her. It was hard, but he practiced. Now he is used to just calling them by their names, however offended he is.
“I heard, and I am sorry babe. I really don’t know what to do with these kids any more. Dad has spoilt them to the point that I have lost control over them.”
“The problem is me, babe. These children don’t respect me at all. In fact, the truth is that they don’t like me at all. And we cannot continue like this, sweetheart. I am slowly sinking into depression. I don’t think I am even doing my work at the office as well as I ought to be doing. I know what I am going to tell you is going to hurt you, because it hurts me as well. But I don’t see any other way out.”
“What is it?” she asks panic spread all over her face.
“I am leaving babe. I cannot continue living in this house anymore.”
“You are leaving me babe?”
“No, sweetheart. I am not leaving you. I am leaving your father’s house. I am going to rent my own house. You are free to come and live with me, and Daniella and Daniel can come too. But if they come, they will have to obey the rules I will set for my house.”
“When do you plan to leave?”
“Tomorrow morning. I am hoping you will give me my share of our savings so that I find a house to live in.”
“That is no problem babe. I totally understand. To be honest I would have suggested this myself but I didn’t want to seem as though I was kicking you out.”
“Why did you want to suggest this to me?”
“Because I could see that you were sinking into depression. I was also getting stressed about my children, and I know it is worse for you. I don’t want to lose you darling. I lost my first husband, and I don’t want to lose you too.”
“Why did Andrew kill himself? Was it your father?”
“I don’t think so. Okay, in a way yes, but Andrew’s problems were mostly of his own making. My father did try to control him, but Andrew was a fiercely independent man. That is why he rejected my father’s job offer when we came back to the country. But I think he took that independence thing too far; he started feeling like he should compete with my father.
But you know the old man is a billionaire partly because he has been working for many years, and partly because he inherited a fortune from his own father and so he got a head start in life. But Andrew wanted to become a millionaire immediately so he got into debts to maintain a lifestyle. For instance, he took a loan and bought a Mercedes G-Class, yet he was only earning three hundred thousand shillings. The loan repayment wiped out half of his salary, meaning he didn’t have much to spend on his other luxuries. He was too proud to ask me for money, but he borrowed his other friends. These friends are the ones who introduced him to alcohol and women. He was still independent of my father, but now his friends had him by the chokehold because he owed them money.
At some point he got involved with a wealthy woman, and she started bankrolling him in exchange for sex, I think. Or maybe they running some illegal deal together. I don’t know, but I do know they were having an affair because I saw the messages. When I confronted him, he became violent. It is from that point that violence became part of our daily lives.
I tried to talk to him but it became worse and worse. It was Daniella who first reported the violence to my father, and when the old man confronted me, I told him the truth. The old man went into full fight mode and he started harassing Andrew. I wanted to walk away from the marriage but my father said no. Andrew would be the one to style up. My father hired people to follow Andrew around to find out what he was doing. He was forced to break up with that woman and to abandon his sugar mummy. But remember he owed them money, so they pushed back. I think Andrew was caught between a rock and hard place: my father on one hand, and his lover and friends on the other.
So he chose to end his life. I know things didn’t turn out well between us towards the end of his life, but he was a good man. We really had a wonderful time in Australia. That is why I am saying I will support your move. I want you alive and sane.”
“So you will move in with me?”
“Yes. Tomorrow we will find a house together; we will rent and move in. I am also tired of having my father meddle in my life. He can sell this house if he wants. I will talk to him after we have moved, and tell him that I don’t want him to meddle in my family anymore.”
“Your children may not agree with you.”
“They are minors and I am their mother and custodian. They will do what I say until they grow old enough to gain their independence.”
Michael did not expect this turn of events. He expected her to at least sulk or even cry at his decision to move.
“You realize that I will have to quit my job at Danmate, right? I cannot be independent of your father if he is still paying my salary.”
“I understand, but don’t worry, I will help you get another job.”
“I was thinking about calling the MD of Ludwig.”
“You are now at his level, babe. Probably even bigger than he is. You are the General Manager of a hotel that is bigger than that Ludwig. You cannot work under him. We will find you a position that fits your stature.”
“I love you Mike. I want you to always know that.”
Daniella was listening to that entire conversation. When her mother followed Michael to the bedroom, she followed in order to snoop. She has been her grandfather’s mole in the house, telling him everything that happens in the house between her mother and her step-father. When she hears her mother and Michael start kissing, she takes that as her cue to leave so that she can report the developments to her grandfather.
Daniel smiles to himself when he hears that that his son-in-law wants to rent his own house and become ‘independent’. He likes the young man because he is bright and a hard worker; he is by far the best manager in the group and he is not willing to lose him to a competitor. Daniel also like Michael because he makes Rachel feel loved, unlike that fool Andrew. But Daniel doesn’t respect Michael, because the young man is inherently weak. He doesn’t have that mean streak that is necessary for anyone who wants to go head to head with a corporate shark.
Daniel will remind him of that fact early tomorrow morning.
He picks up his phone and calls his head of security.
“Kariuki, I want you to find me a woman in the company who can claim that Michael has been forcing her to have sex with him.”
“Sir, I haven’t heard of any such woman…”
“Are you stupid or what? I said “find”. Tell whoever agrees to do it that she will be handsomely rewarded. But I want that report within an hour so that I can make my next move.”
Daniel has chosen to go with sexual allegations because they will turn Rachel against Michael, and prevent her from defending him when he is arrested. Within forty-five minutes, Kariuki has not one but two women who are willing that their General Manager forced them to do despicable sexual acts on him, and they could not refuse because they feared that they would lose their jobs. All they want to know is how much they will get paid. Daniel wants to retort that they should be grateful that he has given them jobs, but he holds back. Right now he needs them to be as convincing as possible. He promises them two hundred thousand shillings. One hundred as deposit, and the other hundred when they have successfully completed their part. They quickly agree. They are junior staff who earn less than thirty thousand shillings a month, and they have never seen a hundred thousand shillings in one batch.
Daniel directs Kariuki to take them to the police station to make their statements. Then he calls the OCS emphasize the importance of the matter. After a brief discussion, and after the OCS negotiates a bribe, it is agreed that Michael will be arrested early in the morning before and his lovely wife leave the house to go and execute their naïve plans.
To be continued on Wednesday
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