Continued from Trapped III
“Maybe they are not seeing each other anymore,” Celestine suggests, trying to lift the mood that has suddenly engulfed the car. “I mean, Douglas is now married to another woman, so maybe there is nothing there. Don’t ruin your marriage due to the ramblings of a bitter woman like me.”
“You are not bitter, Celestine. You are just a woman who was hurt. And there is nothing to ruin about my marriage. It is a sham, as I have told you. If it were working, you would be seated at the back with the kids because Carol would be seated here at the front. But she doesn’t have the time to spend with my daughter and me, ostensibly because of her duties at the church. And probably Douglas.”
“You think they could still be seeing each other even after they both got married?”
“They were seeing each other while you were in the picture, weren’t they?”
“And you were engaged to Douglas, weren’t you?”
“Then I don’t see why they can’t be seeing each other still. They are shameless and have no respect for the institution of marriage. At least that is what I have realized. That would explain why Carol has been treating me so coldly in private.”
“If what you are saying is true, have you considered the fact that Natasha may not be your biological daughter?”
Jesse looks shocked at this realization, and he throws a quick glance at the back seat where the children are still sleeping. And then his face hardens with resolve.
“I hadn’t thought about that. I hadn’t even entertained the thought that Carol could be seeing another man until you told me about Douglas. But the thing is, Natasha is my daughter, whether she shares my blood or not.”
They are now approaching Ngong town. Jesse sees the Beehive billboard and exits the highway. The road leading to Beehive is a dirt road but Jesse’s Land Rover Defender handles it well. This is a car he wouldn’t have bought except that he was under pressure from his father-in-law to abandon the Toyota Fielder that he had so loved. Pastor Arthur thinks that no man worth his salt should drive a sedan or a station wagon. The older man drives a BMW X5.
Jesse has been struggling to keep up with this life. True, he is a well-paid senior official at his workplace. But he knows that if he is ever fired from his job, everything would vanish in a flash. He lives in a leased house in a posh neighborhood, and the rent is not cheap. His daughter’s school fees rate is also out of this world. And the loan repayments for this car have been sucking his pay slip dry. Fueling and maintaining that car is a budget in itself. And all that doesn’t include the day-to-day ‘status’ expenses needed to keep this lifestyle.
“Why do you remain in the marriage?” Celestine asks as they ease through the gates of the Beehive to the parking lot. The place is already almost full of parents and their excited children. “I mean, if you are as unhappy as you are, why do you stay? You have a job and so you can take care of your daughter comfortably.”
“I don’t know Celestine. You know I have always known that God hates divorce. I took a vow at the altar that I am tied to Carol in good times and in bad times. Plus, I don’t want my daughter to grow up without the love of both parents.”
“I will not comment on the issue of God being against divorce because that is a faith issue and faith is personal. But about your daughter having the love of both parents, do you truly believe that that is the case as we speak?”
Before he can respond, Natasha stirs and wakes up, followed by Ryan.
“Daddy I am hungry,” she says after stretching and yawning.
“Me too,” her newfound friend Ryan says.
“It’s okay kids,” Celestine says in a motherly way. “We are going to eat in just a bit.”
Jesse parks the car and they all troop out. The adult conversation is suspended, at least until the children get to the swings.
“Are you okay, babe?” Irene asks her husband as they approach the car. Douglas was his usual chirpy self in the morning, but ever since he went to collect their children from Sunday school he has been looking withdrawn. They usually spend some time moving around the church compound greeting friends and making acquaintances before driving out. King of Kings Revelations church is a wonderful place to network because of its moneyed congregation. Douglas has gotten many clients for their business from this place.
Douglas is particularly good at charming his way into friendships and connections, which would explain why he has become such a successful businessman. He and his wife are partners in their architectural firm, and they know how to play to their strengths. Douglas chases after business, while Irene manages the day-to-day affairs of the firm because she is a better administrator. Their firm is one of the finest in Kenya. This afternoon, however, Douglas has been lacking his usual charm and enthusiasm.
“I am fine babe,” he says without conviction. He opens the backdoor of the car and straps their daughter on her car seat. Then he pulls his wife into a hug and kisses her lightly on the lips. “I guess I am a little tired babe. I didn’t sleep well last night.”
Irene wants to point out that he slept like a log, but she doesn’t want to get into an argument. She knows that her husband is very temperamental, and he is usually triggered by the littlest of things.
“I understand babe. We should go straight home after lunch so that you can rest.”
“That sounds like a plan.”
Douglas slides into the driver’s seat, fastens the seat belt and starts the engine. As he reverses out of the car park, he smiles at his wife reassuringly. He wouldn’t want her to know what is going on in his mind. Because she probably wouldn’t forgive him. Douglas has cheated on her many times-with Carol and other women-but he usually has no feelings for these women. He goes for them just to fulfill his sexual desires, and because of his insatiable appetite for beautiful women.
But he is always discreet. He married up, and that is why he wouldn’t want to rock the marital boat. Irene comes from a wealthy family. He doesn’t love her, but her father is a billionaire businessman with connections to other billionaires. His association with Irene and her father has given him pedigree and business connections. He wouldn’t want to lose that because of some shallow-minded yellow skin, however good her skills in bed are.
But today he has seen a woman he was truly in love with. He met Celestine at the university when they were both second-year students, and he fell in love instantly. He dated her in her final two years on campus. She graduated before him because she was doing a four-year Bachelor of Commerce course, while he did six years in Architecture. She got a job as a bank teller almost immediately after completing her course. She supported him financially in his final two years on campus, even though she came from a poor family and wasn’t earning much.
He didn’t cheat on her until he met Carol, and then his survival instincts kicked in. He was employed then but was earning peanuts. He wanted to start his own firm but he knew he needed wealthy clients to make headway. He was introduced to Carol by a mutual friend, and she was chasing him even though he was engaged to be married to Celestine. He told her as much, but that did not deter her.
With time, he caved, and even though he loved Celestine, he started sleeping with Carol. She was beautiful, and she loved him. Plus, he discovered that her father was a wealthy pastor with wealthy congregants. He thought that that would help him get clients in the event he decided to establish his architectural firm. But he was not ready to lose Celestine, so he kept his relationship with Carol relationship secret. He didn’t dare to face Celestine and break up with her, even though he had made up his mind to marry Carol. But then Celestine caught them making love one day and she dumped him. Now he was free to proceed and marry Carol. He even changed churches and came to King of Kings Revelations church.
But just when he was about to start going public with their relationship, he met Irene at an Architects’ conference in Kisumu. Irene is also an architect, and he quickly learned from other architects that her father is a billionaire. He saw a chance to change his life for good, and he grabbed it. He charmed his way into her heart, and by the time the conference ended, he had secured a romantic date. It took only three weeks after that first date, and about a month after they met in Kisumu for them to become lovers. He engaged her publicly even before even bothering to formally break up with Carol.
After their wedding, they both resigned from their jobs and set up their company. Their first brief, quite naturally, came from Irene’s father. He instructed the CEO of his real estate firm to give them the work of designing and supervising a project that the real estate company was just about to begin. Their firm was off to a flying start. Irene is an excellent architect and a very good administrator, but not a very good marketer. Douglas is an excellent architect and can charm his way into the coldest of hearts, but he is not a very good administrator. They complement each other perfectly. He has been with other women, but always for the sex. And that includes his continued dalliance with Carol.
Carol sulked and stayed away from him for a year after he announced his engagement to Irene, but like a moth playing with fire, she came back shortly after she got married to Jesse. They have been sleeping together since then, and even though Carol thinks they are soulmates and dreams of the day they will leave their spouses and be together for a lifetime, Douglas doesn’t see it that way. He would never leave Irene for Carol.
But today he has seen a woman he would risk his marriage for. Celestine still looks hot after all these years, perhaps even hotter than she was when she was a young and naïve student. She has been taking care of herself. And she was in the company of her son-his son, whom he abandoned.
He desperately wanted to have a word with her, and he thought he had a chance at the Sunday School where they were both picking their children. But she was quite ironically whisked away from him by Carol’s husband Jesse.
As he drives his family home, Douglas finds it difficult to take his mind off the woman he once loved…then betrayed.
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