Christopher Ross looked through the list of housing properties once again. He had worked for several weeks to achieve the highest sales record, and it looked like he was on the high rank for a good bonus this month for the job well done. He smiled and inhaled deeply, a ray of relief swept through him. He had been working tirelessly for many weeks and now he could have this weekend off and raise his feet up.
Just then, he heard a faint knock on his door. He looked up and to his astonishment, he found someone he would never had thought in a million years standing right there. He was gobsmacked for a moment. He felt as if time had stood still.
“Alexandra!” Chris exclaimed. He looked at her intently in utter astonishment.
“Hello Chris.” She smiled.
Chris had not uttered any word. He was frozen again.
Alex stepped into the office and closed the door behind her. “I’m sorry there wasn’t anyone at the reception.” She said. She was obviously nervous. She stood there unsure of how to greet him, perhaps a platonic handshake or a tight embrace. She did neither but stood there staring back at him.
“Is this really you?” Chris stood up. He felt his heart rate had increased than usual.
“Well, I’m no ghost.” She let out a short laugh. “It is nice to see you again.” Alex couldn’t contain the emotion bubbling inside of her; she went straight to his side and hugged him tightly. She observed the shock in his countenance and how bewildered he was.
“How did you find me?” he asked. “I mean, it’s been how many years now?” he reaffirmed in disbelief.
She smiled, focusing on the emotional expression on his face. “How hard is it to find a good estate agent in town?” She smiled. “I looked you up on the lists of estate agents and found your address.”
“Well, we proud ourselves to be the best.” he smiled back at her. Chris couldn’t get his eyes off her. She had grown so differently compared to the last time he saw her. Her dimples were still there though. She was still as beautiful as ever. She had a head-scarf on so he couldn’t place it if she still had the long silk hair. “Honestly, Alex, I still can’t believe you are the one here. When did you get back?”
Alex glanced at the chair.
“Oh sorry, please sit.” He apologized realizing he had not offered her a seat.
“I got back to the United Kingdom barely a month, but moved back to Essex two weeks ago.”
“I have been trying to locate you since I got back. I stumbled on your address this afternoon.” she smiled.
“Great!” he smiled, and then took a long look at her. Old memories flashed through his mind. He remembered how much he loved and adored her. She had been the only important thing in his life for a very long time until she took off and left him all alone.
“How are you?” the sound of her soft voice jolted him out from his thought.
“I’m great!” he grinned. “And you?”
“Good” she nodded. The atmosphere was becoming tense; either of them knowing what to say. Alex had practiced her words before she walked into his office, but none of the words seem relevant now. Every glance at him was a reminder of how she broke his heart and betrayed him. She wished she could go out and re-trace her steps back in, perhaps, she could find the right words to say, but it was clear to her that no amount of words can take the pain and hurt away.
Chris on the other hand couldn’t imagine what she felt, but he saw the pain and sadness in her eyes too. The atmosphere and awkward silence didn’t help either. He had to break the silence.
He wasn’t sure of what to say to ease the tension so he voiced out what first came to mind.
“Would you like us to go grab a drink or something?”
“Actually, I have to meet with someone at my place in half an hour but would love to arrange a meeting. I wanted to be sure I had the right address.” She stood up. “Shall we say tomorrow afternoon at my place?”
He chuckled. He wouldn’t want to miss a date with Alexander Brown, especially now that she is back in town. He wasn’t particular about the lunch; a part of him longed for answers to those questions that had haunted him over the years. She gave him the address and left briskly, taking a last glimpse of him before shutting the door behind her.
Chris and Alex grew up together in a foster home in the South East of London. They were about the age of five when the meet in the same foster home and had been best of friends.
Early in their teenage years, they started a secret relationship without the knowledge of their foster parents until they were sixteen years of age when they left home together. Chris and Alex rented an apartment together and started living as a couple. They were both young but desperately in love with each other. Chris was determined to work very hard to cater for them both, considering their background. They studied at the same university and continued their lives together. Shortly after school, Chris got an excellent job which came with a decent income that could provide for them both.
He was willing to make her happy at all cost and give her everything she ever wanted in life but Alex had her preconceived agenda. She wanted adventure, exposure and get to see more opportunities in life. She desired to travel the world but felt she was being held back. However, things were about to change; Chris had planned a romantic weekend trip to Paris. On their last night there, they had dinner in one of the most exotic restaurants.
He had arranged for her best song to be played, ‘Do you love me by Jonathan Butler’, then, he requested to have a dance with her.
They were locked in each other’s arms; Alex leaned on his shoulder, enjoying every moment of it. He felt assured without doubt that she was the woman for him. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her and make her happy. Toward the end of the song, Chris took her hands, knelt down on one knee and proposed to her. Alex had stared back at him in utter confusion for several seconds. She stood there embarrassed and when she couldn’t contain the look from everyone’s faces, she took to her heels out of the restaurant.
Chris had been gobsmacked for a moment when she walked off. In his widest dream, he never thought of being rejected. He was sure she loved him but couldn’t comprehend the spontaneous reaction so he ran after her as she made her way back to the hotel.
He found her in their hotel room packing her bag to leave. Chris started to apologise. he thought he must have done something to upset her. Maybe the way he did proposed or he missed something. She insisted that he had no fault, rather, she was to be blamed. She confessed that she felt choked by his love and wanted to be free; free to experience life. She had known Chris all her life but all these years of being together became tiring.
Chris had thought marriage was certain by reason of the relationship they had built over the years but he couldn’t understand her sudden change of mind. Alex on the other hand was not ready to be tied down in marriage even though she loved him. Her desire was to see the world. They both went back home the following day while Alex moved out of the house and travelled to Australia the following week but left a message, saying she was okay. That was the last he heard from her.
Chris was heartbroken and dumbfounded at all these. In fact, he lost all sense of sanity; he just couldn’t understand how in one week his whole life could change. He felt that she had used him and took advantage of his love all these years. It took him several months to get himself together. He held so much resentment towards her and hated every woman for the heartbreak and betrayal.
It took the grace and power of God to change his indignation into peace. He experienced God two years later. That was the most amazing thing that happened to him. All the while, he felt so alone and rejected but finding Christ brought a renewed purpose and a hope to his life. He trusted in His love and had faith for better days. More so, he knew holding unto the pain and hatred in his heart will only hinder him. Forgiving the past hurt and letting go might not be easy but that was the only way forward.
Two years later, Chris met Rachael and fell in love with her. They got married a year later. He tried so much to forget all about Alex and the life they had together. It was however difficult to let go, he felt Alex wasn’t just the first woman he did loved, but she was family to him and no matter how many years they were apart, he would never forget her. That was seven years ago, and now, she was back again.
Chris stared at the address in his hands. He was anxious to see her once again. In his heart, he had forgiven her of the past but seeing her again brought back those memories; questions he pondered upon for so long were beginning to flash through his mind.
Rachael was becoming agitated as the traffic moved slowly. She didn’t want to be late to work again. It was 7:55am. Traffic was usually heavy during this time, which meant school and transport buses would have to make several stops to pick up their passengers.
“C’mon guys,” Rachael murmured to herself. “I need you to move, move.” She rolled down her door glass for fresh air.
Despite the heavy traffic, she got to work at the nick of time. Rachael work as a Medical doctor at St. John’s Hospital in Essex. She hurried out of the parking lot, and as she was going through the double glass doors at the hospital, she passed by her lovely morning stranger. She did always met the same man precisely the same time every morning coming out of the hospital building. This certain man had smiled at her every morning when they walked pass each other. After several months, Rachael got so curious and made enquiry about him. She found out that he was visiting his wife who had been in a coma after being involved in a fatal accident. he had been coming every morning for the past three years to see his wife.
Over the years, Rachael had to restrain herself from going beyond the ‘smiles’ they shared. she wanted to ask him how he was holding up but she didn’t have the courage to do that. A part of her liked the mystery of seeing the same face and practically had the feeling of knowing him even though, in actual fact, have not really met in that sense. Rachael admired his devotion to his wife as he never missed a day of this. He held on to someone who seems so far away. Some might call it madness or depression but Rachael called it hope and faith.
She went in and started her rounds. She looked forward to her lunch time where she planned to surprise Chris at work. He always talked about them being ‘spontaneous’ in their relationship; something different and romantic since her job doesn’t allow much time together as they would like. She was going to take him out for lunch as well as walk together in the park. This was something they had not done in a long time and she looked forward to spending the afternoon with him.
Chris didn’t get too much sleep throughout the night; his heart raced as he thought about seeing Alex again. He didn’t have the courage to tell Rachael about his meeting with Alex; he wasn’t too sure what she would think of it.
He pulled his car in front of the address Alex gave to him. It was one of those new building in Brentwood. It was a beautiful house and the garden well-trimmed. He inhaled deeply and got out of the car. He pressed the door bell and within seconds, Alex opened the door.
“Hello Chris.” She had a wide smile on her face..
He had called her early this morning to say he would be stopping by.
“I hope I’m not too early?” He walked into the house.
“No, perfect timing.” She answered.
She was wearing a long flowery dress and this time, had no scarf on and that satisfied his curiosity about her hair. She no longer had her long silk hair but rather a short trimmed one. Chris tried to hide his surprise look, knowing how she was always too obsessed with her hair back then. He also noticed how pale and skinny she had become. The overall jacket she wore yesterday hid all these from him, or he’d been too shocked by seeing her that he didn’t notice.
“I’m glad you could make it” She offered him a couch to seat.
“Well, I guessed I had no choice, considering how you showed up after so many years.” he said and noticed the sadness on her face.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
She looked at him solemnly. “Its okay. You are right.” Alex sat down quietly trying to avoid his intense gaze at her. Although, she wasn’t expecting that part of a happy reunion considering how they both parted, but she was glad he was here now. Over the years, she’d regretted everything she did; walking out of his life after all they’ve been through and her promises to him which she out rightly betrayed. It’s been so long now but every day for the past seven years had been tough and she never forgave herself for what she did.
After what looked like an awkward silence between them, Chris straightened in his chair looking around the house.
“You have a nice house here.” he smiled.
“Oh, thank you!”
“Maybe, we should have lunch now” Alex said. She had so much to tell him and had no idea where to start from.
“Hmm….,” Chris thought; although he had come for lunch but not literally to eat.
He felt she couldn’t just have asked him to come for lunch just like that and pretend nothing ever happened between them. Part of him was afraid she might be asking for something he couldn’t give to her, but he didn’t want to embarrass her by bringing it up.
“I made your favourite or still hope it is.” she giggled.
Chris stared at her. He didn’t want her getting the wrong idea.
“It’s been many years Alex, things have changed now.” he blurted out.
She sighed. “Of course I do.” She glanced at his wedding ring.
Just then, the front door opened and a little girl walked in.
Alex was taken aback; she wasn’t expecting her daughter so soon.
“Hello mum.” Grace greeted.
“I thought you were staying back for the music practice.” Alex said, trying to hide her uneasiness.
“It was cancelled.” Grace replied. She looked over to Chris.
“Hello.” she greeted him, shyly.
“Hello” He replied, speechless staring at the little girl.
Chris was also surprised to see her. He watched as Grace went upstairs and then, turned his attention back to Alex.
Chris stared at her in astonishment. “Your daughter?”
“Yes.” Her voice was barely a whisper.
“Wow. You are a mother?” he asked in disbelief.
She nodded, avoiding his intense gaze on her.
He couldn’t believe the Alex he knew back then could be a mother now. He remembered how Alex always said she wasn’t good with Children and never thought she would have any considering how her own mother treated her. Chris had loved her irrespective of that. He had thought he would win her over when they got married to have at least a child for him, nonetheless, he would love her the same.
He beamed a smile at her. “She’s beautiful.”
She had a tense look on her face. “Thank…you.” She stammered.
He had a soft smile on his face. “How old is she?”
“I…” Alex stammered. “She’s…” She became tongue-tied for a moment. “She would be seven in a few months.” She quivered.
This was not how she had planned this; she wanted to bring it to him gently, not like this, especially now that she was nervous. Her hands became to shake and but Chris had seen it before she could hide them.
“The smile had gone off his face. “Seven?” he looked widely at her. He saw her reactions. Her hands were a giveaway. He remembered she’d always shake when nervous. “How!” he whispered in exasperation. He looked toward the staircase and then, back at her.
“How can she be seven?” He frowned.
“I….” She stammered.
“Is this what I’m thinking?” His mind was connecting the dot.
“I…” she nodded repeatedly; she was afraid to speak.
His eyes were boggled. “Were you pregnant when you left?”
“Yes…” She whimpered.
“How? Were you cheating on me?” His face was taut.
“What!” She exclaimed. “No.”
He realized what this meant. “Oh my God!” A hot poker of anger appeared on his face.
She trembled. “I didn’t want you finding out like this, please…, ” She whimpered.
Chris flashed an angry look at her. “Like how, I mean, I don’t understand.” he looked straight into her eyes awaiting a confirmation of what he was thinking. “What are you saying?”
“I mean, I was planning to tell you, but not like this.” She looked away from him.
“What!” He gasped in disbelief. He was angry, but with supreme effort he managed to keep his voice a virulent hiss.
She cupped her hands around her tiny body and cupped a sob. “She is your daughter Chris.” she blurted out nervously; she could see the fire in his eyes, something she dreaded for many years each time she thought about this day. “I’m sorry…” She cried brokenly.
Chris stood there in utter confusion; then, he started to paced around the living room. He stopped and looked straight at her. “Are you telling me she is my daughter?” He asked, looking furiously at her.
She nodded her head with indignation and fear.
His head dropped forward again in exasperation. His eyes were smoldering with resentment.
She felt drain of the strength in her body. She was weak and needed to sit but the look on his face scared her so she leaned against the wall. She flushed and felt felt her heart sunk in dismay. “I had no idea that I was pregnant when I left seven years ago. I didn’t even know until I was four months gone. I had settled in Australia with a good job. I was getting the life that I always wanted, and I didn’t want to ruin it. I couldn’t come back to you Chris…., I broke your heart; I disappointed you; I couldn’t just come back and expect everything to be the same again.” She said in tears.
Chris swallowed hard, then rubbed his hand over his face as though to push away the confusion.
“At first, I didn’t know what to do with the pregnancy. I didn’t want to be tied down with responsibilities, but here I was, thousands of miles away from home and pregnant. I was angry and frustrated. I couldn’t stand looking at my stomach every morning. I just wanted a life without being held down by another. I mean, that was one of the reasons my mother abandoned me in the first place. I was extra baggage, and she couldn’t cope and I was about to be in the same position.” She looked at Chris briefly and saw he was definitely irritated by all he heard. His eyes held nothing but disdain.
“But all this changed when I had my beautiful baby in my arms. I named her Grace and then realised I had been selfish all along. She became the most precious thing that ever happened to me. I fell in love with her right from that day.” She smiled at herself with all sincerity. “I wanted to come back to you but I couldn’t; It wouldn’t be fair neither did I have the courage to come until few years later when I made up my mind to come back to you come back.” She looked wearily at him.
“I missed you so much and I wanted you back but I lost. I thought I could come back and everything would be alright…., you know back to what it was. I wanted to win back your love…, but I found out you were married and knew I had lost my chance with you.”
Chris couldn’t contain this new revelation. He couldn’t believe that he has a daughter, and it took her this long to let him know.
“So why are you back?” His face showed the strain of hurt. “Why are you back Alex?” he walked up to her, standing right in front of her. “It’s been seven years Alex! Seven whole years without knowing you were pregnant with my baby and you never told me; not even a phone call or a letter from you. Why are you back, why now?” he shouted, angrily at her.
She covered her face and gulped down a sob.
The look on his face was filled with fury and rage; everything she had thought was becoming real. She knew her comeback was selfish but it’s either now or never. She didn’t want her daughter to grow up without a father and considering her past ordeal.
“You wanted a life with experiences, exposure and what nonsense did you say back then?” He yelled at her. “Are you satisfied now? Did you find what you were looking for? He raged at her.
Alex bowed her head in grief. She struggled to steady her breathing and reduce the swelling emotion in her chest.
“I loved you Alex; I did everything you ever asked of me. I gave up everything for you and was ready to do more but you threw all away and took what belonged to me away for so many years.” he shouted.
“I was young Chris; I was just a child and wasn’t ready but you always had a plan; you made all the decisions, you had answers to everything and I had no idea who I was.” She cried out. “God”! I was only nineteen and just wanted a life. I wanted to know who I was, not who you wanted me to be- your wife. I wanted to make my own decisions, not out of necessity but what I truly wanted. I just wanted the freedom to think and have my own way, right to make mistakes and learn from them-
“Good! So it took you seven whole years to realize that you made a mistake walking away from me and keeping my child away too.?” He blurted out in anger. “Tell me, what more mistakes did you make out there?” He shouted at her.
“I took care of you; I gave you everything you ever want-
She looked at him with a heavy heart while he kept on screaming and raging at her.
“Why did it take you all these years Alex, why?” His jaw clenched in disgust.
“Stop it! Stop it!!” She screamed. “Fine!” She let out a loud groan; steams of tears poured down her cheeks. “I will tell you why I came back.”
To be continued.
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