sunset

She couldn’t keep her eyes off him, watching him like a protective hen as he strode back to her carrying two cups of coffee. Anaya lifted to her feet to meet him and her gaze searched his gaunt face, her heart squeezing painfully as she took in his weary eyes underneath that smile.

Waiting until he pulled up another chair to place beside her, Anaya slowly lowered herself to her seat. She cupped the cup in her hands and lifted her eyes to meet his staring curiously at her. She blinked, caught off guard by his open stare. “What?”

Aman smirked good-naturedly. “I just thought of you as a little girl…”

She gave him a wistful smile. “How come?”

He chuckled. “When you were young, you never let your eyes leave me… as if scared that I would leave you alone.”

Anaya lowered her eyes to the swirling mist rising from her cup.

“You’re a good daughter, Ana…” he said softly, provoking the tears that she held at bay. He clucked his tongue when she sniffed noisily. “I hope you didn’t come here to cry. Is it your Tunde?”

She flung her eyes back to him, shaking her head. “He’s good to me,” she said vehemently.

His lips curled in a wary smile. “Good. So why are you here to see me if not to report your husband?” He lifted his cup to his mouth, peeking at her.

“Papa…” She swallowed hard. “Why is Mama still like that?” Why won’t she forgive me?

Aman’s brow furrowed, eyes searching her face. Then he lowered the cup to rest on his thigh. “It’s more than just you, Ana… You must never think this is your fault. Don’t ever let your husband think that.”

Anaya bit her bottom lip that trembled visibly. She didn’t need to tell Tunde anything. He was annoyingly observant and picked up on every thought and mood of hers. She lowered her gaze guiltily.

“That’s not good, Ana,” her father berated her gently. “In the wake of everything else he’s going through, you have to stand with him in this.”

A cold dreadful feeling fell on her shoulders as she lifted her eyes back to him. “What?”

At the chagrined look on her father’s face, Anaya felt the chill down her spine. When he didn’t respond the second time she asked and merely wordlessly lifted the cup to his lips, Anaya was already dreading the worst. “Papa…”

He heaved a sigh. “Ask him when you get home… Surely you didn’t come here to interrogate me.” His brow furrowed begrudgingly. “I don’t see the daughter I gave away for months and she comes only to demand answers from me.”

Anaya blinked at her father’s pouting mouth and shook her head, deciding to push back her concerns with Tunde for later. She placed the cup of coffee on the floor and leaned forward to embrace her father.

Aman chuckled, reaching with his free hand to pat his daughter’s back. “I’ve missed you, my dove.”

Tunde grinned, glancing up from the newspaper as the door flung open and Anaya stepped inside. He folded the paper and stood to his feet. “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes, Mrs. Halliday…” Walking around the couch, he hooked an arm around her waist and pulled her into his arms. The searing look she cut into him caught him off guard and the rest of his teasing words hung off his tongue. He raised a brow at her. “What?”

Anaya remained pliant in his arms, although she gave him a narrowed glare. “Don’t you have something to tell me?”

His eyes moved from her lips back to her eyes. “I’m not sure… Why don’t you give me a clue?” He lowered his head to kiss her mouth and sighed when she leaned back. “Will you stop doing that?” he sighed in exasperation, releasing her quickly. “What did I do now?”

Anaya folded her arms across her chest. “What did you manage to tell my father that you can’t tell me?”

Tunde blinked at her. “You met your father?” he asked dumbly. When she slow-blinked him, Tunde swallowed a groan. “Ana, it’s not that big a deal.”

“What’s not a big deal, Tunde, that you could tell my dad and not me?” She asked pointedly, frowning at him.

“I didn’t want to upset you.”

Anaya scowled up at him. “You promised!” There he was again trying to protect her instead of letting her share the pain with him. Tears gathered at her eyes.

He blinked in surprise at her fierce reaction. “I promised what—baby, why are you crying now?” He rubbed his face in frustration. “What did I promise?”

“You said we’re in this together. So why are you not holding your end of the deal?”

Tunde heaved a sigh. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he leaned against the back of the sofa. “Ana… This is not the same thing,” he answered in a low voice. “Besides, I have to figure out how to tell you—”

“See—”Her eyes went wide like tea saucers.

His protest was caught off as Anaya suddenly barreled into him, shoving past him. He turned around and gaped at her as she made a beeline for the bedroom. Groaning that she was about to begin another cry-fest, Tunde rushed in after her. “Ana, come on…” he started to plead but stopped as she pushed open the bathroom door. A cold surge grabbed hold of his spine and squeezed tight. “Ana?”

Only muffled sounds he could hear and Tunde didn’t know whether they were tears or… he moved to the bathroom and his eyes widened, gaping at his wife’s crouched body over the toilet. His jaw slackened as the cold trickled down his back to his feet, knees buckling under him. As his wife’s slender frame heaved violently, expelling the contents in her stomach, Tunde found that he couldn’t look away. The bitter taste of bile filled his own mouth as she sagged after the heaving spell, gripping the edge of the toilet.

He couldn’t even form a word as she wiped her mouth and lifted her eyes to him. Somehow though, when she flushed the toilet, he found his tongue even as he closed the distance between them and helped her to her feet. “Is this what I think it is?” his eyes searched hers.

Anaya’s face warmed under her husband’s eager gaze, her mind mentally counting off the weeks. Something fluttered in her and she gripped his arms. “I think so…” She grimaced as Tunde let out a triumphant yelp and scooped her off the floor, spinning her around. Not bothering to remind him that twirling her around was not a good idea, Anaya allowed herself to smile. For now, their argument was long forgotten as they rejoiced at the news that met them.

“Wow…” Tunde breathed in the dark of their bedroom, holding Anaya in his arms.

She smiled drowsily, liking the feel of his hands bracing her flat stomach. To think that in a few months, his hands would have something to curve around. Her body tingled at the thought of a life growing in her; a life made by two of them.

“Wow…” he whispered, pulling her against his back.

“Our conversation isn’t over, Tunde,” she warned, placing a hand over his.

“What, my love?”

Anaya rolled her eyes but her smile still remained. She was much too happy to argue with him tonight. Closing her eyes, she leaned her head against his chest. Things would have to change now that they were going to have a baby.

When Tunde nudged at her bare back, Anaya squinted one eye open. “You’ve made me a very happy man.”

She smiled at the tenderness in his voice.

“I’ll do my very best, with God’s help, to take care of you and this family we’ve made… I promise you that, Ana.” He paused to kiss the back of her head. “I love you.”

Her eyes stung under his ardent words and she knew he thought her asleep already. Not wanting to interrupt his privacy, Anaya quietly took in his words in her heart and soon enough, she drifted off to sleep.

<<Part 19 || Part 21>>

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