Beautiful Stranger: Episode 14. Season Finale

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EPISODE 14
JERRY
I turned off the engine as I pulled up under a big tree. I took a deep breath and stepped out of the car to take a walk. The vacation had turned out to be longer than forever. We had lived more than a week. I know I am supposed to be excited about Toni seeing a month since the proposed one week, and I am, but I am also worried. I don’t know if getting my hopes up would be appropriate. I have spent the last one month watching Toni sleep and wake up. I have also spent it on my knees praying that she should see the next day and not just leave me. We have all kept vigils around her bed hoping that she didn’t give up anytime soon, and she really is giving it a fight. It looks like she’ll be staying. I can’t help but smile at the thought that she might actually be here with me.
“Hey, man!”
It took a tap from Emeka to bring me back to reality. I turned at him with a frown from the effect of the tap. “What is it?” I asked.
“I saw you pull up and I decided to join you, and now I find you smiling to yourself. Is everything okay?” he asked.
I nodded. “It couldn’t be any better.”
“Great.” He replied and walked by my side.
I stared at him. “Emeka, it’s a month today. Toni is still alive.”
Emeka smiled. “Man, I understand your joy.”
“I don’t think you do, this is beyond joy. This is like a miracle.” I said. “One month and counting. She is still here.”
He nodded as he stared at me. “I know.”
Emeka was silent. I sighed as I stared at him. “Am I wrong to get my hopes up?”
“No, I think it is fine. I think we are right to stay optimistic.” Emeka replied.
I smiled. “I am going to ask her to marry me.”
“Jerry?”
I nodded. “I think it’s the right thing to do. When two people love each other, they should be together.”
Emeka took a deep breath. “Jerry, I don’t think you do this right now. Do you have an idea what the proposal might do?”
“She would accept it. I know.” I replied.
Emeka took a deep breath. “Toni won’t want to marry you.”
“Why are you so sure?” I asked.
He shrugged. “I am not sure. But, I just know she won’t want to do that to you.”
“What are you trying to say?” I asked.
Emeka stared at him. “Jerry, you know better. Don’t do this to you…and to her.”
“Do what?!” I shouted.
“What hopes are you trying to give her? Toni is living every day so positively that we can’t see the traces, but they are there. Don’t weigh her down by presenting a ring now. She doesn’t need it.” He replied.
I swallowed painfully.
“I am sorry if I came off harsh.” He said. “You don’t need this now, enjoy the days.” He added.
“Well, you just ruined my day.” I replied and walked away.
***
NORA
I don’t know what I am doing in a very unfamiliar environment. I am at the back pew in a church and staring at the altar. Toni thinks I should talk to God and she wants me to do it for me. I don’t even know where to start or what to say to Him. All I know is I am really thankful for this last one month. I just thought I had a week more to spend with my sister, but I have enjoyed a lengthier period and I am thankful to God for it. Toni might not know this, but I am glad God has given her more to write about in her book.
I took a deep breath and approached the altar. I have nothing else to do than to give thanks to God for what I had, what I have and what I hope to still have. Toni has been more than a sister to me, she has been a gift. One I’d forever be thankful to have had.
“We have to go.” James called from the back.
I turned and stared at him. “Why?”
“Toni is alone.” He replied. “She shouldn’t be left alone for a minute.”
I nodded. “Give me one minute.” I replied.
James walked out.
“Thank you, Lord, for sending James my way.” I said.

***
TONI
What would I love to do before I die? I guess I have done a lot of that already. Most of all, I have only cared about one thing after my purpose on earth is fulfilled, and that is, making Heaven. What would life be if I didn’t get to meet God after all? Meeting God would be amazing, I would like to ask him what I am still doing in Obudu three weeks after the Doctors say I would be gone? Isn’t it just amazing? One week was the set time and I am still here. It is true that God is not a respecter of any man.
I loved being here. It was fun while it lasted.
Till we meet again,
Toni.
***
With that, I slipped into the bed and drew the blanket over me. A lot seemed to have changed in the last one month. I felt the necessary strength and courage to go through each day.
‘They say you know when your day comes’ I don’t know why, but every passing day in the last one month seemed like a date with Heaven, but yet, it didn’t come. Maybe today seemed more like the day.
I took a deep breath and rolled over to my right. I stared into my mirror. Surely, I have seen a lovelier Toni than who I see now, but then, I have never seen a more ready Toni than the one I see today. It has to be today.
The door opened and Nora walked in. “Hey.”
“Hi.” She replied and joined me on the bed. “How are you feeling?”
I took a deep breath. “I don’t feel at home anymore.”
Nora nodded. “I understand.” She said. “I went to Church today.” She added.
I smiled. “Thank God.”
“Toni, I love you so much and there is nothing that could ever change that.” She said.
I chuckled. “Of course, it’s not like you have a choice.”
Nora blinked. “Toni, when you see Jesus, tell Him I am grateful.”
“Of course.” I replied and pulled her close for a hug. “I’ll tell him just that.”
Nora smiled. “What about Jerry?”
“You’ll take care of him for me.” I replied. “I am sure he would find someone beautiful too.”
Nora broke down in tears. “Toni.” She muffled amidst tears. “Toni.”
The door opened and Jerry stood by the door.
She nodded as she pulled away. “I love you.” She said and kissed my forehead. She turned in Jerry’s direction. “Hello.”
“Hey.” Jerry replied with a faint smile.
Nora hugged Jerry and shut the door after him.
Jerry took a deep breath as he walked over to me. “Hey, Stranger.”
“Hello.” I replied with a faint smile.
He took his seat beside me. “How did it go?”
“I am done.”
He took a deep breath. “So, what’s next?”
“I have sent it to the editor and from there, they’ll take care of the rest.” I replied.
He drew me close and hugged me. “How are you?” Jerry asked.
I stared at him. “Ready.”
“Are…Are you saying-”
I shrugged. “Maybe.”
Jerry blinked as a tear drop rolled down his eye. “Don’t do this.”
I raised a finger and wiped the tear from his eye. “I love you, Jerry.”
“And I love you, Toni.” He replied and hugged me tight…till I knew I was truly done.

***6 MONTHS LATER***
JERRY
“Toni was a really special woman and we are here to celebrate her. Her lovely and only Novel titled “I WAS HERE” is officially launched today.” Nora announced over the microphone. “As earlier announced, Doctor Jerry and I would be signing the autographs on behalf of the Late Toni in the next forty-five minutes down the hall. Thank you all for coming.” Nora said and descended the podium.
The hall roared with applause.
I smiled from a corner of the room as I watched Nora leave the podium.
James joined me from the right with a drink. “Isn’t she lovely?” he asked.
“She is. Nora is my sister, you can’t mess with her.” I replied.
Emeka joined us. “Are you set for the interview? The press is here.”
“Almost ready.” I said
He nodded and hurried back to meet the press. James tapped me. “I’ll go and help him out. Later, man.”
Yes, I assumed the role of being Nora’s brother and friend, just as Toni wanted it. James was really going to make her happy and I knew it. They were in love.
Toni was everything for me and the last six months have been painful for me. It’s as though I have had a portion of my life taken from me, but every little moment we had together was enough for me to hang on to. The last months have all been about thinking, shedding a tear for the pain but I hang on to the hope that someday I’ll wake up and it won’t have to hurt so much. That, I know.
Toni came into my life and gave meaning to everything that had no meaning. It was all in the little things she did. My gift from God was Toni and I could not question that.
I know I’d find love in another woman someday, Maybe not today or tomorrow or the next, but I know I will.
I turned to the wall and stared at the giant portrait of Toni that stood there and smiled.
I love her.
***

“To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die” – Thomas Campbell

THE END.

Beautiful Stranger is written by @tomi_adesina; Author of Dear Future Husband available for Free on African Stories. Follow @tomi_adesina on twitter for more thrilling stories. Her new book “All Fun and Games” also available for FREE on African Stories

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Beautiful Stranger. Episode 13

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EPISODE 13
Jerry pushed the door open as he walked into the bar. He had not set his feet there in a long time. He didn’t know if he would be in the right frame of mind to help her live the desperate days and he was sure that he needed an encouragement. What better friend than alcohol at this moment? He had said to himself as he stepped into the bar.
“Jerry!” Tunji called as he saw. “Where have you been?”
Jerry smiled faintly. “I have been everywhere but here.”
“That’s good. Working on your addiction, right? That’s good.” Tunji remarked as he cleaned a glass. “How’s that pretty girl?”
Jerry sighed. Toni was dying. How best could he respond to Tunji? Traditionally, it was almost ‘Nigerian’ to say ‘fine’ or ‘I am fine’ regardless of your situation. Maybe it was optimism, maybe hope, maybe faith…our words oozed more positives than our actions.
“Are you so struck by her?” Tunji asked, noticing Jerry’s silence. “Say something, this place opens in about an hour.”
“Yeah…words are not enough. Toni-is-is the complete package.” Jerry said as his voice broke.
Tunji stared at him. “What is it, man? What happened?”
“I am just scared.”
“About what? Did Toni break up with you?”
Jerry sighed. “Honestly, I am not here to talk. I just want a drink. Can you at least do that for me?”
Tunji took a deep breath. “No.”
“Really? There are a thousand and one competitors and you refuse me a drink?” Jerry asked.
Tunji nodded as he took a seat beside Jerry. “The other guys, yes, they want to sell liquor to you. I want to sell too, make no mistake, but not when you can do the right thing…if you are running away from something and you think this place is going to shelter you, bro, you are wrong. You have got to face it.”
Jerry clenched his fist. “I am not running, Tunji. I just the need the courage to face it.”
“Trust me, courage isn’t in the bottle. It’s in you.” Tunji replied and returned to his desk. He poured a glass and placed it before Jerry. “Have some courage.” He said and continued cleaning the glasses.
Jerry stared hard at the glass. He swallowed painfully as he fought his inner desire to just drink his pains away. He abandoned the drink and rose to his feet.
“Good choice.” Tunji said.
Jerry stared at him. “Toni is not doing fine. We are going away for a while.”
“What is it?” Jerry asked.
Jerry blinked. “Cancer.”
Tunji cringed. “I am sorry, man.”
“Yeah…I know.” Jerry replied.
Tunji sighed. “You know I would be here for you, right?”
“Yeah. Thanks.” Jerry replied. “I’ve got to get going.”
Tunji stretched out his hand to him. “Jerry?”
Jerry stared at him. “Yeah?”
“Make it count.” Tunji said.
Jerry took his hand firmly. “We will.”
***
Toni pushed Nora out of the way as they walked into the suite. “No way!!! Seriously, Nora?” Toni said as she surveyed the room in one glance. “This is a presidential suite.”
“Only the best for you my darling, only the best.” Jerry said as he pushed the boxes into the room with Emeka. “Why are you complaining? You want a vacation and we are here to give it to you.” He added immediately.
Toni stared at him. “And that includes bringing us here? We can save a lot of money with some other regular suite. How much is this place per night?” she asked.
Jerry and Nora started to whistle.
Toni gaped. “Seriously guys!”
“Oh Toni, you whine too much! The money is nothing, if you have got it, you spend it.” Nora replied.
“Or you invest it!” Toni retorted.
“Would it make you happy if I told you that Jerry is paying for all these?” Nora asked.
Toni widened her eyeballs as she stared at Jerry. “What?!”
“Are you going to spank me for spending my own money?” he asked with a smirk.
Emeka nodded. “Ladies take these things too personal. I mean, it’s a brother’s money.” He replied with a smile.
“He should learn to invest in his future.” She retorted at Emeka.
“I am spending some of my dividends too…don’t be worried.” Jerry replied with a smile.
Toni sighed. “You should save that…argh…men! Anyway, where is James anyway?”
James walked into the room carrying a box of pizza and a pack of juice. “Food is here!” he announced with a grin.
“Food?! But we ate on the plane.” Toni protested.
Jerry stared at Emeka. “She is going mummy on us all. Duck!” he said and they hurried out.
Toni turned to James. “Why do we have to eat Pizza now? We had something to eat about thirty minutes ago.”
“Err…I thought we could make do with in-between meals.” He replied with a smile.
Toni turned to Nora. “In-between meals? Since when did we start in-between meals?” she asked.
“You don’t remember? We absolutely love to eat as many times as possible.” Nora replied as she picked up her purse. “James, we should go and see the landscape.”
Toni stared at them. “And what about me?” she asked.
Nora stuttered. “Erm…you can stay here and have some pizza and juice while James and I make a quick look of the environment.”
“Why do I get the feeling that you all are trying to push me away?” she asked.
James gaped. “No…Not at all. We just want you to get some rest, you know. Jet lagged.”
“And you all aren’t jet lagged from Lagos to Calabar? I won’t get any rest if you all keeping flipping on me. First, Jerry and Emeka and now, you and Nora. Am I such a bad habit?”
“When you start whining like this, you could be a real pain.” Nora replied as she took James hand. “For once, Toni, enjoy your money.”
“Well, this is Jerry’s money and I am allergic to spending his money.” Toni replied as she sprawled on the bed. “But damn…this is the real life.”
“See…it didn’t take long to bring out the hidden you which is the real you. We’ll be right back. Take care, love.” Nora replied and walked out with James.
Toni took a deep breath and pulled the Pizza close. “The only reason why I am having you is to prevent wastage, I am not a fan of people wasting money or resources, so here we go…” she said and took a bite.
***
“Good thing you guys were able to escape from her.” Jerry said as Nora and James joined them in the restaurant. “So, what’s the next plan?” he asked.
Nora pulled out her journal. “I was thinking we could do a road trip round the town, we would camp wherever night falls.”
“I have the sketch books for the photos and other important documentation.” James said. “There is also a map just in case we get lost.”
“I was thinking we should rent a space bus.” Emeka said. “Big enough for all of us.” He added.
“I was thinking a convertible. I mean, it is so much fun when you go on road trips with convertibles. That way we can get to spread our hands and head into the sun.” Nora replied.
“That’s the effect of seeing too many movies. Hollywood.” James cut in.
“Are you kidding me, James? It would be fun!” she echoed.
“We are five in number. It won’t be very comfortable.” Jerry replied. “Maybe the space bus isn’t such a bad idea after all.”
Nora frowned. “It is a terrible idea. Who goes on road trips in a space bus?” she stressed as she sulked.
James kissed her forehead. “Get used to this one, babe.”
“I think I agree with Nora.” Emeka said cutting in. “We could actually use the convertible.”
Jerry turned at him as he widened his eyes. “Dude!”
Nora smiled. “See…even Emeka agrees with me.”
Jerry stared at his friend. “We are taking a space bus whether you like it or not.”
“What have I done wrong? I only think it is right that we make the lady happy.” Emeka added.
James nodded. “True, we could get an Audi or BMW, there might be some space at the back.”
Nora smiled at James. “Now you are talking.”
“Or we could just take the Space bus.” Emeka said, staring at Nora and James.
Nora frowned. “Why are you teasing me?”
Jerry smiled. “That’s who Emeka is…very funny guy. A tease.”
Emeka nodded. “Yeah…my friends say I am Kevin Hart.” He said laughing. Jerry frowned and so did James and Nora. Emeka stopped laughing. “I know…I know.”
Jerry rose to his feet. “I am going to the bar, please come with me, Emeka.”
Emeka stared at him. “Oh really?”
“Yes!” Jerry said pulling him along.
“I thought you quit alcohol.” Emeka said as they got to the bar. “It didn’t take long for you to backslide.” Emeka chuckled.
Jerry nodded. “Sure I did quit booze, but I couldn’t help but notice how you were hitting on Nora there.”
“Me? No o…I…I was just making a conversation.” Emeka replied defensively.
Jerry hissed. “I don’t even believe you! Emeka, you have a fiancée, respect yourself so James doesn’t beat you up. He is fit, you know?”
“But you are also fit. Won’t you defend your man?” he asked.
Jerry nodded. “If you were right, fine. But you are scoping another guy’s babe, my hand no dey there o.”
“I…I just like her. That’s all.” Emeka replied. “Just like.”
Jerry nodded. “Put a leash on it, else, I am calling your babe.”
“Guy, you can’t do a brother like that na.” Emeka protested.
Jerry scoffed. “Watch me.” He replied and returned to the others.
***
TONI
“I am racing against time. Officially, the Doctors think I would be here for about five more days, but I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon. I mean…that soon. My book would be done before I leave this place, that, I am sure of. My whole life has been one huge fairy tale. Finding love in the strangest places and wishes for more than I could get. To be fair, I have done my part here, so, I don’t feel nervous about going away…it’s just that I am allowed to be human sometimes and let fear creep in as I think of my loved ones.
Nora is the best sister in the world, she is my father, my mother, my sister and my brother. I couldn’t have wished for a better sister. She had fewer nights than myself as she would sit and watch me sleep, keeping silent and lonely vigils while I enjoyed my sleep. Honestly, I had fun putting Nora through all that. Family is everything and even though my own family was Nora, there were no boundaries for us. With Family, you have no idea how much you can do.
I have come across tonnes of guys in my journey in life, but I had never really given anyone a second thought until I met Doctor Jerry. Jerry was the first person to make me dread my situation. Every battle I fought from the day I met him was all about survival. The thought of seeing him, talking to him made the difference. I always thought I was the only one with that special effect on people, but then, Jerry held me spell-bound. I might not have been smitten outwardly, but thanks to him, I knew what it was to be more beautiful on the inside.”
**********
I shut my laptop as I took a deep breath and took another bite from the Pizza. It had kept me company since the last hour. I didn’t want to bother them with my calls, so I just turned on the Television and fed my eyes. What could a girl do?
The door opened and Jerry walked in with a smile. “Hey, stranger.”
“Hi, stranger.” I replied with the warmest smile I could produce. “I love that name, you know?”
Jerry nodded as he joined me on the bed. “What are you watching?”
“Documentary channel. Amazing how these Giraffes neck.” I said.
He nodded. “It is lovely.” He replied. “It’s a sign of strength.”
“They are necking to prove strength, most of us depict it as love…who knows what else we misinterpret about animals?” I asked with a smile.
Jerry shrugged. “I am sure that we are not mistaken about the peacock’s pride.”
I chuckled. “Jerry…what are you guys planning?”
“Planning? What do you mean?” he asked.
I smiled. “I am not stupid. You all disappearing in groups can only mean there is a plan in the offing. Come on, tell me.”
Jerry shook his head. “There is nothing other than the ordinary.”
“Go on…you can tell me everything. I promise not to tell Nora.” I said as I blinked my eyes playfully.
Jerry tripped. “Fine. We are doing a road trip.”
“Wow!” I exclaimed.
“B…But you can’t tell the others I told you, else, they’ll just think I am fickle.” He replied.
I nodded. “But then you are fickle. It didn’t take you a minute to tell me the truth.”
He scoffed. “Seriously? Is that what I get?”
“For betraying your team, that is what you get.” I replied.
Jerry sprawled on the bed. “So, are you now teaching me life lessons?” he asked.
I smiled. “Not exactly, but, teams should come first. I might even rat you out to them.”
“No, you won’t.” he replied. “I should come first.”
I grinned. “The truth comes first for me.”
“You are such a kill joy, Toni.”
I nodded. “I know.”
“How is the novel coming?” he asked as he tried to pick my laptop. I immediately shielded it from him. “Are you not going to let me see it?” he asked. “I should read it before everyone else.”
“That’s after my editor has read it and the publishers have it ready for sale.” I replied. “Trust me, it would be soon, besides, I am not yet done with the novel.” I concluded.
Jerry nodded. “Fine. Mrs. Aiyenugba called while I was on my way up here.”
“How is she doing?” I asked.
He smiled. “She has made very important friends. She told me to lay emphasis on ‘important’, that you’ll understand.”
I nodded. “Of course, I understand.”
“So…what did she mean by important friends?” he asked.
I sighed and pecked his forehead. “You really don’t get it, do you? I don’t tell on friends.” I said and grabbed my towel. “I am off to the bathroom…be gone before I am back…and don’t think about touching my laptop, it is password protected.” I concluded and shut the door to the bathroom.
****
“What do you want to talk about?” James asked as he strolled with Nora.
Nora sighed. “Nothing. When is the car coming so we can get on with the road trip?”
“In about an hour or so. Jerry and Emeka went to get it.” He replied.
She nodded. “That’s good. I should go to Toni.”
“She wants to be left alone, I checked on her earlier.” He replied. “Now, about Emeka.”
Nora stared at him. “What about him?”
“I think he likes you.” James said.
“Is it wrong?” She replied.
James smiled. “Nice touch with the humour there, but, I think you know what I mean.”
“I do?” Nora asked. “Are you getting touchy here, James?”
James stopped walking. “I am not getting touchy. I just think that he is showing too much interest in you…and you are taken.”
Nora stared at her finger. “I am not engaged.”
“But we have something, right?” he asked.
Nora grinned. “My sarcasm has definitely improved.”
James sighed. “For once, I thought you were for real.”
“James, if another guy hits on your girl, you should be happy.” She started. “It can only mean that she is really attractive.”
James scoffed. “How attractive is that? That is scary. What if you fall in love with him?”
“Then something is actually boring about you.” She replied with a smirk.
“Is that a joke too?” He asked.
She raised an eyebrow. “Does it sound like one?”
“I am not joking, Nora.” James said.
She nodded. “I know.”
“So?” James asked.
Nora smiled. “You are making a big deal out of it. The fact that he likes me in the direction you feel doesn’t mean I am on the same lane as he is.”
“That’s very comforting.” James replied.
Nora smiled. “Now let’s go find the others.”
***
TONI
“I knew it, we should have taken the convertible!” Nora groaned as we all got off the space bus for the third time. “This bus isn’t in its right frame of mind.” She added.
I fetched my camera and started making a video coverage of everyone as they reacted to the event.
Nora wasn’t going to stop grumbling. Ever since the space bus arrived at the hotel, she thought it was a bad idea. She was dreaming of cruising in a convertible as we travelled across the beautiful town and its landscape. “This is a terrible idea. I knew it. We are so not going to pay them in full.”
James chuckled at her last statement.
Nora flipped at him. “What’s funny?”
“Apart from the fact that you are acting like Toni was when we initially got here, you pay in full to rental services and even an increase for guarantee.”
Nora cringed. “No!!! They have robbed us of our money.”
For Jerry and Emeka, it was more of who has got the cleaner abs contest. There was a clear winner though. Jerry. Tada!!! But seriously, did they need to take off their shirts to check the car’s radiator and some other things I don’t know that a car has? I can make a case for Jerry. He is putting on a white t-shirt, so it is understandable that he wants to take it off and also, if you have got it…you are permitted to show the world. Besides, he is my Jerry. Now, about Emeka, I don’t know why anyone who is still in the process of denial regarding differentiating between fat and crops would take off his shirt? That has me confused and slightly sorry too.
Can I blame him for efforts? No. Nora and I have countless numbers of push-up bras and many ladies too. I am not making an excuse for the female gender, but we have got to look ‘it’.
Back to the matter….the car is now fixed and we are ready to go…and guess who takes over the wheels? Yours truly.
***
Jerry took his seat beside Toni in front as she fixed the keys into the ignition. “Are you sure about this?” he asked.
Toni smiled. “I am not redundant, babe. I can drive a car.”
He nodded and focused on her as though she was the road. “Toni…” he muttered. “Let me drive.”
“No!” she replied sharply and stepped on the pedal. “Here we go people! Hold your breath, ladies and gentlemen…it is Toni time.” She echoed and wheeled off.
Jerry watched her every turn and every step on any of the pedals.
“You are starting to freak me out.” Toni said.
He sighed. “I can’t help it.”
“Well, I am not going to kill all of us, so you can relax.” She said with a smile. “We are here everybody!” she announced as she pulled up.
Jerry looked into the car. “It’s camp fire time.”
They all carried their bags as they walked into the woods. Finding a spot for their camp fire wasn’t hard, they were all well-equipped.
***
Jerry wrapped his arms around me as we passed cards. Emeka was the only without anyone to cuddle. I felt guilty having Jerry around me, after all, Emeka was here for us too. He didn’t need to feel alone, besides, Jerry says he has a fiancée, I am wondering why Emeka didn’t ask her to tag alone, but then, I couldn’t feel sorry for Emeka…Jerry was going to miss me. That would be more devastating than this.
“So, you all know the rules, as we pass the cards, we fulfil the command of the game. If the card stops with you, you answer whatever question it presents you.” He said. “Are we clear? As the moderator, you all know I am not allowed to participate in this game, so, I would just watch from the side lines. After the first turn, we change the cards.” He said and passed the first card.
As soon as the card got to Nora, Emeka called. “What says your card?”
Nora flipped it open and stared at it and then at James before reading. “Do you really love the person you are with?”
James clenched his teeth. “What is this?”
“Hey bro…it’s just a question. It could have fallen on anyone, no offense intended.” Emeka said.
Jerry stared at Emeka and then at James. “Yeah, man, it’s just a question for the lady.”
“I think Emeka is hitting on Nora.” James said. “I don’t like it.”
I chuckled. This seemed to be more interesting than I had envisaged. Emeka was really causing a rift. “Guys, I think we should chill. I don’t think it is a big deal. It is just a question and I think that dragging it longer than necessary is actually going to mean something else.” I said, cutting in.
Jerry nodded. “Toni is right. Let Nora answer the question and we all could just move on from here.”
All eyes were now on Nora. “Nora?” I called. “Answer your question.”
Nora smiled as she read through the card again. “Yes, I do love James.”
James smiled victoriously.
Emeka scoffed. “Pass the next card.”
“What’s in your card?” Emeka asked as I held the passing card for too long on the second time of passing.
I stared at it. “What would you love to do before you die?” I read with a smile.
Jerry’s face went stone as he stared at Emeka. I took Jerry’s hand before he could make any statement.
“What I want to do before I die?” I said. “I have accomplished a lot of things I want to do before my dying day. I have lived, I have laughed, I have loved.” I said and stared at Jerry. “I am glad to have met you, Jerry. You are everything and much more than I wanted and you may think that life hasn’t given us enough time, but I think it is just perfect, every step of the way with you has been worth it. Jerry, I wish you love, peace, happiness and most importantly that you find yourself in God and be true to who you are. Jerry, I would always love you and I am happy for every love you have for me.”
Jerry looked away.
“I hope not to break your heart in the end, I hope to leave a stronger man with a braver heart behind, should I have to…and trust me, you deserve to read my novel first, and you would.” I said as I drew his face closer. “I love you, Jerry.”
“I love you too.” He replied.
Emeka, Nora and James stared at us quietly.
“And to what I want to do before I die? I damn right want to kiss you, Jerry.” I said and we kissed.

Beautiful Stranger is written by @tomi_adesina; Author of Dear Future Husband available for Free on African Stories. Follow @tomi_adesina on twitter for more thrilling stories. Her new book “All Fun and Games” also available for FREE on African Stories

Beautiful Stranger. Episode 12

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EPISODE 12

Nora shut the door after the lawyer and turned in Toni’s direction. Toni smiled faintly at her and slipped into the bed.
“How do you feel?” Nora asked as she took her seat beside her sister.
Toni sighed. “Tired, but I am optimistic. What about you?”
“I am okay. I just think that calling the lawyer today speaks a lot about your optimism, Toni. How optimistic is drawing up a will?” Nora asked, feeling sad.
Toni shrugged. “I am being realistic here, Nora. We have gone over this before…I don’t think we need to do it again.”
Nora nodded. “Sure.”
“I haven’t seen Emeka or Jerry around here today. Have you?” Toni asked.
Nora shook her head. “Neither have I.”
“That’s strange.” Toni said. “Anyway, let’s talk about my book and the big plans I have for it.” She said.
Nora stared at her. “Can we go on holidays first? We would discuss the massive book launch during the holiday.” She replied.
“You are still offended because of the will, right?”
Nora shrugged. “Why would I be offended?”
“Why won’t you be offended? You think I am throwing everything away by drafting that will, right? You think I don’t have the zeal to live and all I want to do is disappoint everyone?” Toni asked.
Nora sighed. “I don’t think you aren’t fighting hard enough.”
“What do you see when you look at me, Nora?” Toni asked.
Nora took a deep breath. “Don’t start asking questions like this, Toni. I love you and that’s all that counts.”
“Nora, what do you see when you look at me?” Toni asked as she swallowed.
Nora stared at her. “A beautiful, strong woman.”
“Then give me some credit. I am making efforts to live, and I am fighting with everything in me to make sure that you don’t come in here and realise that I am gone. I am afraid to die, I am not feeling better, but yet, I want to be here for you…and I will keep fighting. So, Nora, don’t you dare give up on me…because, I am not giving up on myself.” Toni blurted and then wiped her eyes.
Nora took a deep breath. “I am sorry.”
“You don’t have to be.” Toni replied.
Nora exhaled. “It’s been tense for me. You…you don’t understand how it feels to be in my shoes.”
Toni chuckled. “Trust me, Nora. It feels better to be you.”
Nora smiled faintly. Her sister had made a joke out of it and it made her feel better.
“Life is precious, Nora. You have to enjoy it while you have it. There are a lot of people who would rather have these days, don’t waste it.” Toni said.
Nora blinked as she took Toni’s hand. “Save the pep talk for later.” She said with a smile.
Toni laughed. “You have a crooked sense of humour, you have got to work on it.”
“Was I trying to be funny?” Nora asked.
Toni nodded with a grin. “And you suck at it.”
Nora exhaled with a smile. “Stay with me, Toni.”
“Have you booked our flight tickets? I’ll soon be out of here, you know? That vacation has to rock.” Toni replied as she smiled.
Nora nodded. “It’s going to be a perfect holiday.”
“Yeah…I know it will be.” Toni replied. “Now, where is Jerry?”
Nora smiled. “You are missing him already, aren’t you?”
Toni nodded. “I don’t know, it’s unlike him or Emeka not to have at least dropped in by now. That has me worried.”
“I suggest you get your mind off it. I will go and ask the Nurses if they have seen any of them this morning.” Nora replied.
Toni shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. Maybe, they are busy with surgery or something. I don’t want you bothering yourself about it. I am just paranoid.”
“Paranoid? You miss the guy you love and you call it being paranoid? That’s not paranoid, lady. I will go out and find anything I can regarding his whereabouts.” Nora replied.
Toni smiled. “Thank you.”
***
Emeka and Mrs Aiyenugba rose to receive Jerry as he walked out of the Police station.
“Thank you.” Jerry said to Mrs Aiyenugba.
She smiled. “It’s okay, dear. I am sorry for everything I put you through. I didn’t know Shola would do this.”
“It’s okay. It’s nothing serious.”
Emeka grinned. “How was it?”
“Did I go there to eat food?” Jerry replied harshly.
Mrs Aiyenugba smiled. “It’s okay, boys. I have to go now, my son is waiting.” She said staring in the direction of her son.
Jerry nodded and walked over to meet Mrs Aiyenugba’s son. “Hey!”
“You do know who you are talking to, right?” Mr Aiyenugba replied.
Jerry nodded. “A stupid and ungrateful man.”
Mr Aiyenugba stared at him. “Are you sane?” he asked.
“Yes. But to me, you are quite insane.” Jerry replied.
Emeka and Mrs Aiyenugba rushed over to them. “Jerry, stop this.” Emeka said.
“No.” Jerry replied. “Let me teach this man how to respect his mother.”
Mrs Aiyenugba took Jerry’s hand. “It’s okay. You don’t have to tell him anything.”
“Kini gbogbo radarada yi? (What is all these rubbish?)” Mr Aiyenugba voiced in Yoruba (A Nigerian Local dialect.)
“You have suddenly lost your ability to speak English?” Jerry asked. “You don’t care enough about your own mother and when another man cares about her, you want to punish me for it?” Jerry asked angrily as he drew closer to him.
Emeka pulled his friend back to avoid another detention. “Dude! Think about Toni. Do you want them to lock you up again?”
“On what grounds?! Have I even assaulted him yet?” Jerry shouted.
“You won’t dare to touch me.” Shola retorted. “I will have them lock you and your family up for good.”
“Shut up!” Mrs Aiyenugba yelled at her son. “Who are you? What power do you have to lock up anyone and his family? I am under the impression that you have completely lost it.”
Mr Aiyenugba took a deep breath and stared at his Mother. “Mum, let’s go.”
“I am not going with you, Shola…at least, not yet. If I am going to be put away in that facility permanently, I want to make a quick stop at the Hospital to see someone.” She replied.
Mr Aiyenugba nodded. “Fine, I’ll drive you down there.”
***
“I heard what happened to you.” The Director said as Jerry walked into his office. “I told you to give up that woman, but you wouldn’t.”
Jerry sighed. “It was worth it.”
The Director nodded. “Toni had her session an hour ago. She is resting at the moment.”
“I know. I saw her sister outside.” He replied as he took a seat.
“We would have to stop the treatment.” The Director said.
Jerry stared at him. “Why? What is going on?”
“I have been consulting with the specialist here all day and he thinks she has to go home now.”
“What do you mean?” Jerry said as he jumped at the Director.
The Director sighed. “The cancer is competing with her brain mass.”
“Let me cut it!” Jerry shouted.
“This is not about cutting anymore, you can’t even get in if you tried to cut, but, we can only hope that the effect of the radiation melts it away. If we put her under more radiation, you know the adverse of that.” The Director replied as he placed his hand on Jerry’s shoulder. “Son, I am sorry, but this time, you have done so much.”
“I have not done anything and I am going to come back with something on this case. I am not pulling away.” Jerry replied.
“Listen to me, Jerry. I know how you feel-”
“-You don’t! You don’t know what it is like to love someone and not be able to help her. I won’t let her down, I swear I won’t.”
The Director sighed. “Jerry, you might need some time off from here to go and take care of her, she has medications which she needs to take every time. These drugs will be very useful to her and from time to time, she has to come here for other treatments.”
Jerry buried his head in his hands. “This can’t be happening to me.”
“Listen to me, Jerry. There is a slight chance.”
Jerry stared at him. “I understand. I…this, this is just not right.”
“All that is left for us is to pray. We would discharge her tomorrow.” The Director said and returned to his seat. “You should go and be with her.”
Jerry nodded. “Does she know about this?”
“Not yet, we would talk to her in the evening.”
Jerry exhaled. “Let me do it.”
“Jerry? Are you sure about this?” The Director asked.
Jerry nodded. “I am, Sir. I can handle this one.” He replied.
“But you do know that you can’t lie to the patient, Jerry? You have to tell her everything, we have reached the stage where we prepare her mind.” He said.
Jerry nodded. “I’ll do just that.” He replied and approached the door.
“And about the leave…take two weeks off from here, please.” The Director said. “I need you in good condition.”
Jerry sighed and walked out.
***
“What’s up, man?” Emeka asked as Jerry walked into the office.
Jerry stared at him. “It’s time to prepare Toni.”
“I am sorry. I also spoke to the Oncologist and he didn’t sound too positive about her chances.” Emeka replied.
Jerry took a seat. “How do I start? Where do I go from here? This is too much for me, Emeka.”
“Jerry, I know this is hard for you and I wish I could say something or do something to make it all go away-”
Jerry stared at him. “-but you can’t. There is nothing you can do or say to me right now, it’s just sour.”
“Do you want me to be there when you break the news to her?” Emeka asked.
Jerry shrugged. “I don’t know. I think I want to do this alone.”
“I don’t think you should let Nora know about it yet. Toni seems more prepared than she is.” Emeka replied. “Maybe Nora can learn about this later, after she is discharged? Just not to bring it to her as it is, this would hurt her more.” Emeka said.
Jerry nodded. “You have a point, but we can’t exactly keep it away from her. Maybe, she should know about it first, before we talk to Toni. We owe it to her as Toni’s relation.” Jerry replied.
“True. Nora was talking to me about taking Toni on a vacation, you think I can come with you guys?”
Jerry stared at him. “You want to come?”
Emeka nodded. “I have grown attached to her in these last days and I think you are going to need me there.”
Jerry sighed. “Thanks a lot for the help, man.”
“It’s nothing, bro.” Emeka replied as they hugged. Jerry’s grip was firm and his chest pounded hard. Emeka knew he was scared. “It’ll be fine, Jerry. God’s got this.”
Jerry stared at him. “I am losing her.”
“Trust me, man. You’ll be fine, pull it together.” Emeka said. “You want something to eat?”
Jerry shook his head sadly. “I can’t eat anything, man. I don’t know what to do without her. I just need to breathe right now. ”
“Take it easy, okay? Please, man.” Emeka said.
Jerry nodded. “I would do everything I can. Anyway, where’s Mrs Aiyenugba? I haven’t checked on her since she came down here with us. Has her son taken her away?”
“No. She is waiting to see Toni, but since Toni is asleep, she is somewhere at the reception.” Emeka replied.
Jerry nodded. “I’ll go and see her now. If the Director asks for me, just page me, okay?”
“Okay.” Emeka replied and watched his friend leave the room a downcast man. He swallowed painfully as he took a seat. He had not known Toni for a very long time, but he couldn’t imagine losing her.
***
“How are you, Jerry?” Mrs Aiyenugba asked as he approached her.
“I am not doing fine.” He confessed. “It’s time to prepare Toni.”
Mrs Aiyenugba swallowed as she held her chest. “Oh God.”
“I don’t know why this has to happen to her. If I could at least find some answers… why would I have her for such a short time and it seems like I have known her all my life? She came and made everything that didn’t make sense to me, make sense. How can I come to terms with losing such a woman? I can’t.”
She nodded. “Jerry, in this life, we are always going to meet people like that. Maybe for a short moment, or maybe for a lifetime, but the truth is, we have to learn to cherish every moment we have with them, don’t ever forget to tell them that you love them and in the end, you won’t have to regret anything.” She said.
Jerry sighed. “She’ll be glad to meet you too.”
Mrs Aiyenugba nodded. “Of course.” She replied. “Jerry, make every moment count.”
“I will.” He replied.
“Have you called your mother? Else, you would have been throwing the wrong stones at Shola.”
Jerry sighed and pulled out his phone. “I am calling her now.”
“Good boy. Love your parents now that you can.” She replied.
Jerry dialled. “Hello, Mom…”
***
James handed Nora a paper. “Receipts from the bookings. Flight leaves tomorrow evening.”
Nora nodded as she stared at it. “I hope Toni enjoys this vacation.”
“I bet she will. We all will make it the best for her.” He replied and took Nora’s hand. “How are you doing?”
“I am not fine, but I guess I have to look the part of the sister that is doing fine.” Nora replied. “The Doctor says they are discharging her tomorrow morning.”
James nodded. “That’s a good thing, right?”
“Seems more like a bad thing to me. Toni doesn’t look like she is doing better, yet, they want to discharge her. It can only mean one thing.”
James waved it off. “No, babe, don’t see it that way. It could also be a better avenue for her to go home and complete the recovery. You know, sometimes, the doctors think it is better to have the patient go home for a better atmosphere.”
Nora chuckled. “Do I look like I am five? Even five-year-olds don’t believe that crap.”
James sighed. “I don’t know what else to say to you.”
“Say nothing, James. Let’s just sit and watch it all pass by.” She replied.
He nodded. “Fine. I can do that with you.” He replied as he sipped his drink. “Is Toni awake?”
“Yes. She has a guest. Jerry’s friend is with her.” She replied.
James smiled. “She can make do with all the family necessary right now.”
“I know…she needs us now more than ever…and, I need her too.” Nora said as tears rolled down her eyes.
James went over to her and hugged her.
***
“You are as amazing as Jerry says you are.” Mrs Aiyenugba said as she laughed.
Toni smiled. “I think I can be a little more amazing than I am right now.” She replied.
“Yes, I think you are.” Mrs Aiyenugba said with a smile. “I hear you are going home tomorrow.”
Toni nodded. “I am happy about it. I get to finally finish my book and go on a vacation. I am quite excited.”
Mrs Aiyenugba smiled. “You should be. You need to have fun.”
“I always do have fun…in on own little way. Jerry told me about Victoria’s Home, are you ready for it?” Toni asked.
Mrs Aiyenugba rose on her feet. “I am not ready for it. But, I don’t have any choice, besides, I don’t think it would be so bad in there. Who knows, I might pick up a new profession from there?”
“New profession?” Toni asked with a smile.
Mrs Aiyenugba nodded with a smile. “I bet there would be lots of bitter women there, I could get close to them.”
“Oh! And touch their lives? That’s noble.” Toni said with a smile.
Mrs Aiyenugba scoffed. “Not that. I would find out who they are and who their children are and why they were put in there, then, I would pass scoops to journalists and help get mud on those that have important children.”
Toni gaped as she laughed. “Seriously?”
Mrs Aiyenugba nodded. “Why not? It would act as a stress reliever for me and also earn me a few bucks.”
Toni smiled. “This is interesting…and good too.”
“See…good thing you understand.” Mrs Aiyenugba replied as she returned to her seat. “Are you planning towards a book launch?”
“I will ask Nora to help me with it.” She replied as she relaxed in her bed. “I am glad I met you.”
Mrs Aiyenugba took her hand. “Same here. I have to go now, my son is waiting to take me to the facility.”
Toni nodded as she hugged Mrs Aiyenugba. “Do take care.”
“Be strong, Toni.” She replied and walked out.
Jerry walked in almost immediately. “Hey there.” He said as he pecked her forehead. “How are you?”
Toni stared at him. “Prepared.”
“Prepared?” he asked.
She nodded. “I am getting discharged tomorrow and I still feel like this, don’t I know what it means?” she asked.
Jerry swallowed. “Toni, I…I want you to know that I am doing everything I can to-”
Toni sighed. “-Babe, let it be already. What did the Doctor say?”
He blinked. “You want me to tell you?”
She nodded. “Why not? I would like to know.”
“Erm…”
“You have to tell me the truth, you know?” she said.
He nodded. “Toni, this is hard for me, but, I won’t want anyone else to let you know this, we have tried so hard and I swear I want to try harder, I am going to do everything I can and I promise you, I am not giving up on you yet, I-”
“-Stop it. Just talk.”
He blinked as he took her hand. “They have to stop the radiotherapy because the cancer is well spread into the brain and now, we actually can’t cut it, also, further therapy is quite dangerous as we have implemented the regular dose required for this treatment and we can’t go overboard with it.” He said as he squeezed her hands. “Toni, I want you to know that there is a slight chance that the medications that you are going to be placed on from tomorrow are going to help melt the tumours and you can survive.”
She nodded. “Okay, how long do I have? Medically?”
Jerry swallowed and closed his eyes. “One week.”
“Wow!” Toni said. “Wow! Wow!” she reiterated as her eyes were wet. “One week, Jerry. Man, this is so fast.” Toni said as she looked away. Her heart raced fast. It was like a ticking bomb was tied around her waist. “Oh my God.”
Jerry took her hand. “Look at me, babe. Don’t care about what they say, okay? Babe, look here.”
Toni swallowed and stared at him. “I thought I’d have more time. I thought we’d be able to have a nice vacation and stuff, I really thought we’d enjoy the holidays.”
“Toni, it is okay to be vulnerable. Don’t hold it all in, just let it go.” Jerry said as he lifted her face to his. “You have held it in for me, for Nora, for your foundation, for everyone. Just let it go now.” He said.
Toni couldn’t hold back her tears. “I don’t want to die, Jerry. Please.” She said as she cried and wrapped her hands around him. “I am so scared, I don’t want to go.”
Jerry closed his eyes tight. This couldn’t be happening to him. He had asked Toni to let it all out and her tears frightened him. He was scared as it loomed that he was going to let her down. “I am sorry.” He said.
“Jerry, please.” She cried.
He stroked her hair. “It’s okay, Toni. It’s going to be alright. Don’t do this, please.”
She stared at him with tears. “This will pass, right?”
He nodded. “Yes, it will. It is just a phase, everything will pass.” He replied as he wiped her tears. “Don’t cry anymore, please.”
“Jerry…” she called.
“Yeah?!” he asked.
She blinked. “One week is too close, but I am going to buy me more time…because I am not going to give up easily on us, we might not have a month left, but we are going to make it memorable and special.”
Jerry stared at her looking confused.
Toni smiled. “This is it, Jerry. Nora has the tickets we need for our flight, we are going to leave tomorrow evening.”
“Are you serious?” he asked, still feeling off the place. A moment ago, she was in tears and now, she had worn another personality. “Are you okay, Toni?”
Toni nodded with a faint smile. “Right now, I just want to live the rest of these desperate days in the best way, and that’s what we are going to do. So, would you come with me?”
Jerry stared at her and nodded. “Let’s make it count.”

****
Beautiful Stranger is written by @tomi_adesina; Author of Dear Future Husband available for Free on African Stories. Follow @tomi_adesina on twitter for more thrilling stories. Her new book “All Fun and Games” also available for FREE on African Stories

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Beautiful Stranger. Episode 11

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Hi everybody,

Had a great weekend? Have a better week. Remember to get interesting books AllFunAndGames and DearFutureHusband by @tomi_adesina on African Stories and share the news to other readers.

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EPISODE 11

“It’s two am. Your shift has been over since the last three hours.” Emeka said as he dropped a coffee cup on the table. “You might want to have some of that if you are going to be stuck in here all night.”
Jerry stared at him. “Man, I just need one more hour.”
“You said that an hour ago and I am sure you would say it when I return. Look, man, you have been having a success streak in the theatres in the past one week and I think it is great that you are this enthusiastic about work and reading and applying more, but don’t push your luck.” He replied.
Jerry closed his book and stared at him. “What are you trying to say?”
“Late nights. Tiring surgeries. Reading into the dead of the night. Where is your medical sense? You need to rest.”
Jerry nodded cynically. “Yeah. I have been successful in the past week and I am thankful to God for that. But there is one person I am still here for and until I find a solution for Toni, there is no way I am leaving this place.”
Emeka sighed as he leaned on the table. “I get it. You love her. She loves you but she is in a radiotherapy session and getting a lot of attention from a team of able doctors. But who is taking care of you? Look at you.”
Jerry smiled. “You are beginning to sound like a woman, man.” He said with a soft chuckle. He was expecting a smile from Emeka but none came. “Look, Emeka, I understand that you are concerned for me, but nothing is going to make sense to me until that woman I love is on her feet.”
“Food too?” Emeka asked.
Jerry sighed. “What do you want me to do?”
“You have to take care of yourself. Eat. Sleep. Then you can come back to work.” He replied.
Jerry looked away. “Emeka, she is not doing well with radiotherapy. You have seen the way the tumour multiplied…I don’t understand anything happening in that room anymore.”
“I spoke to the Director and we are thinking of merging Chemo because of the-”
“-Just stop there. I thought the whole idea of this radiation thing was to shrink the tumours formed from the cancer cells that had spread in the brain. Why are you thinking of Chemo now?” he asked, angrily.
“Jerry, you know the possibility of complications can’t be undermined in any treatment.” Emeka replied.
“You should have thought of that when you pushed for it.” Jerry replied.
Emeka sighed.
“I am sorry, man.” Jerry said. “I…I just feel so helpless right now.” Jerry replied. “I am sorry for coming at you like that.”
Emeka smiled faintly. “Well, maybe I can give you a light tilt of your new faith, Trust God.”
Jerry nodded. “I know. Thank you.”
Emeka took a seat. “Jerry, what we know is we are doing everything we can and Toni is fighting hard too… Don’t worry about it, man. It’ll all be alright.” He replied.
Jerry nodded. “I am fighting too… And if this is my way of fighting, please allow me fight for her.” He replied and focused on his book.
“I won’t you let you fall apart, bro.” Emeka said as he hugged Jerry.
Jerry couldn’t hold back his tears and he let them flow freely.
***
“Good morning, Toni.” Emeka greeted as he drew the curtains back.
Toni turned her face away from the light. “I don’t want the light.” She muttered.
Emeka nodded and drew them back. “How are you feeling today?”
“Not too good. I am getting closer, right?” she asked.
Emeka took a deep breath. “I have to keep you optimistic. That has been going well for you for a long time now and you can’t give up.”
Toni sighed. “Optimism is tiring.” She said with a soft chuckle.
“It means you should still hang on.” He replied. “I saw Nora on my way here. She is down the hallway.”
Toni smiled faintly. “This would be hard on her…but then, she has got James.”
“…what about Jerry?” Emeka asked.
Toni struggled to breath. “I don’t know. He has been doing well with surgeries, I am happy for him.”
“Who is going to take care of him?” he asked.
Toni smiled. “Are you also terminally ill?” she asked as she managed a smile. “Daily doses are killing me. When would this treatment be over?” she asked with leery eyes.
“I need you to put more effort into this, Toni. Don’t go giving up now.” He replied.
She nodded. “I am fighting for as long as I can, but when my time is up, Emeka, my time is up.” She replied as she gripped his hand.
He took a deep breath. “How is the book coming?”
She reached for a journal which fell carelessly from her hand. “I am sorry.”
Emeka picked it up. “It’s okay. You’ll be fine, I know it.”
“I am almost done with the novel.” She replied. “Coming slowly but surely, but eventually, I’ll be done.”
“It’s an autobiography of you.” He said as he opened the book.
Toni winked. “I thought I’d hype myself a little. I mean, if I don’t do that…who will?”
“Jerry.”
Toni smiled. “I love that man.”
“He loves you too.”
The door opened and Nora walked in with James. “Hello everyone.” She greeted as she walked over to give Toni a kiss. “How are you, darling?”
“I am fine.” Toni replied.
Emeka rose to his feet. “I’ll leave you all alone. And guys, you have just fifteen minutes with her. I need her to rest.” He said and walked out.
Nora took her seat beside Toni. “You look tired.”
“I am tired.” Toni replied.
James sighed. “This should be the last week of the dosage right?”
“Yeah. I can’t wait for it to be over.” She replied.
Nora took her hand with a smile. “I’m thinking we should travel when you leave this place. We could go to some resort. Enjoy a new air, you know?”
Toni smiled faintly. “You know what I want to do when I get out of here?”
“What?” Nora asked.
“Be with Jerry.”
James and Nora cooed with a smile. “Now, I am jealous.” Nora said.
Toni smiled. “You don’t have to be…James is here with you.”
“Yeah, babe…smile.” James said as he kissed Nora’s cheek.
Toni cleared her throat. “You haven’t asked about my book.”
“Oh, come on, Toni…I was going to. Nora replied as she picked the journal. “How’s it coming?”
Toni smiled. “Almost over. “I don’t have the strength to write with much gusto as before, but I still try.”
“You can leave the book for now while you concentrate on your treatment.” Nora replied.
Toni smiled. “The book is doing a lot for me.”
Nora stared at it and then at Toni. “I spoke to the lawyer.”
Toni cleared her throat. “What did he say?”
“He is coming in tomorrow.”
Toni nodded with a faint smile. “That’s sounds nice.”
James stared at Toni. “Toni?”
“Yeah…” she replied tiredly.
“Can I have a moment with you in private?” he asked.
Nora looked at him with some concern. “Uh?”
Toni nodded. “Please, excuse us.”
Nora stepped out.
“How is she?” Toni asked.
James shook his head. “Bad. She doesn’t sleep at night and she is always crying.”
“I thought you said you would move in with her?” Toni asked, with some concern.
He nodded. “I already did. Not helping matters. All she does is talk about how God already has your parents and that He doesn’t need to take you too.”
Toni smiled. “Oh well…I see she has started saying the same things to you too… Honestly, Nora is the best sister in the world. She is strong. She is a fighter and a lover. She is a woman I look up to a lot and she might not know it now, but, she is phenomenal and I tell you, you are getting a goldmine for a woman. Don’t mess it up.”
James exhaled as he took her hand. “Are… Are you not scared?”
She chuckled. “Of what? What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Come here.” James said as he hugged her tight.
***
“Good job, Doctor Jerry.” A Nurse said as they came out of the theatre.
He nodded as he dismissed her. Emeka approached him. “How was the surgery?”
“Fine. The Nurses are taking care of the rest.” He replied as they started to walk. “How is Toni? Has she had her dose for today?”
Emeka nodded. “Yes. I was wondering why you haven’t been to see her in days.”
“Did she talk about it?” Jerry asked.
Emeka shook his head. “No. But, it is a little disturbing, don’t you think?”
“I want to show up when I have good news for her. All you guys have done is give her a reason to know it is over, I want to go there when there is some hope.” Jerry replied.
Emeka sighed. “Jerry, don’t be silly. You have to go and see her today.”
“I just want to have good news for her. Is that too much to ask?” Jerry asked.
Emeka blinked. “Do you know Toni at all?”
Jerry looked away.
“Man, this is not the time to play the hero. Go and meet her.” Emeka replied and walked away.
Nora approached Jerry. “Hey!”
“Hi. How are you?” Jerry asked with a smile.
Nora shrugged. “I don’t know. How are you?”
He smiled faintly. “I don’t know too.”
“I guess you have been really swamped.” She said.
He nodded. “I am trying to find some answers somewhere.”
“Toni is not doing better. I can feel it. Her spirit is down.” Nora started as she took a seat. Jerry sat beside her. “She is giving up, Jerry…and there are tonnes of things we haven’t done together, you know?”
Jerry blinked.
Nora sniffled as she continued. “Our weddings. Baby showers. Vacations. I mean, real vacations without any worries or fears. Mountain climbing. Bungee jumping. Sky diving. Surfing. We haven’t done these things, Jerry. We may never do them,”
“You don’t look like an adventurous person to me.” Jerry said with a smile.
Nora nudged him in the waist. “You sounded like Toni just now.”
Jerry chuckled. “She does have that effect on us all, right?”
“Yeah…I love her so much. She is my strength.” She replied as she wiped her eyes.
Jerry exhaled. “I think we should do something lovely for her.”
“Such as?” Nora asked.
He stared at her. “Throw a party?”
“Oh please! Toni would call it a farewell party.” Nora said smiling. “And trust me, she is going to ruin that party.” She added.
Jerry nodded slowly. “Or, we could actually go on a vacation. South Africa?” he suggested.
“Nah. We’ve combed that country…well, not on vacation.” She replied.
He shrugged. “Or we could go to Calabar. Obudu.”
“Now, that’s an option.” She replied with a smile. “We should tell Toni about it. She would love it.” Nora said as she rose to her feet.
He nodded. “I’ll join you there.” He said
“Okay.” Nora replied and walked away.
***
“He still won’t come?” Toni asked as Nora read through a magazine.
Nora closed it. “I think he is really busy.”
“You guys need to pull Jerry together.” Toni replied.
Nora sighed. “I think he is fine. He is just occupied with a lot of work. Besides, what did you discuss with James?”
Toni smiled. “Personal.”
“Really?” Nora asked. “You know we are sisters.”
Toni nodded. “It’s not working for me. Sorry.”
Nora sighed. “So…what do you think about a vacation after the last session?”
Toni shrugged. “Like I told you earlier, I really don’t care about it.”
“Yeah…yeah…because you want to be with Jerry…but, what if Jerry would go with us on the vacation?” Nora asked.
Toni smiled. “You would do that for me?”
“It’s his idea.” Nora replied.
Toni folded her arms. “Jerry’s idea? Really? He did say something about vacation?”
“Why are you finding it so hard to believe?” Nora asked.
Toni giggled. “I didn’t think you all were that exciting.”
“We could make it a vacation for the four of us. You, me, Jerry and James. We would spend a lot of money and have a lot of fun too.”
Toni nodded with a smiles. “That works for me.”
“Great! We have a date then. I would start scheduling everything for the trip.” She said with excitement. “Where would you love to go to?”
Toni stared at Nora. “I don’t know really.”
The door opened and Jerry walked in with a smile. “Hi.”
“Hey!” Toni replied. “Come and give me a hug!” she ordered. “Who is ‘Hi’?” she said with a grin.
Jerry smiled as he hugged her.
“You can let go now.” Toni said with a chuckle.
Jerry stared at her. “I am guessing Nora has told you about the vacation…”
Toni nodded with a smile. “Really? Are we going to have the vacation?”
“Yes, where do you want to go?” he asked.
Toni stared at them. “Guys, we have to do everything fun on that vacation. From Bungee jumping to sky diving. It has to rock!”
Nora stared at her. “Err…I guess you are forgetting something.”
“And what could that be?” Toni asked.
Nora pointed to the bed. “We can’t have you jumping up and down.”
Jerry nodded. “She is right.”
“But we still go on the vacation, right?” Toni asked.
“Sure!” Jerry and Nora replied at once and then laughed.
There was a light tap on the door and the Director walked in. “Everyone is all smiles here. That’s impressive.”
Toni smiled. “We could all be happy.”
The Director nodded. “Exactly.” He then turned towards Jerry. “Could I please steal Doctor Jerry for a couple of minutes?”
Jerry rose to his feet as he smiled at Toni. “I’ll be right back.”
“Have him for as long as you want.” Toni replied.
Jerry pecked her on the forehead and walked out with the Director.
“Now what trouble has he gotten himself into?” Toni asked.
Nora folded her arm. “Come on, he is a Doctor and that is his Director and this is their hospital… It has to be work related.”
“My instincts tell me that he is in trouble.” Toni replied.
Nora sighed. “Oh come on… No one ever admits that their instincts could be wrong.”
“Well, mine isn’t.” Toni replied.
Nora sighed as she took a seat

“So what do you think, sir?” Jerry asked with a smile.
The Director greeted his smile with a stern frown. “What do you think you are doing, Jerry?”
Jerry looked in the direction of Toni’s room. “I remember staying off her case. What have I done?”
“I am not talking about her. I am talking about Mrs Aiyenugba. What do you think you are doing?” he asked.
Jerry took a deep breath. “Mrs Aiyenugba is my friend.”
“She is someone’s daughter and grandmother and our patient before being your friend.” He shouted.
Jerry exhaled. “What is the matter?”
“The matter is Mrs Aiyenugba’s SAN of a son is threatening to sue my hospital if you don’t produce his mother.” The Director replied.
Jerry sighed. “That…that is not my decision to make.”
“Excuse me?” The Director probed.
Jerry nodded in defiance. “Mrs Aiyenugba happens to enjoy where she is living at the moment. It is of no use to send her to a family that don’t want her.”
“That would be for her and her family to decide. We have done our part and that is treating her so you are going to let her family do the rest which, again I say, is not our duty.” The Director replied.
Jerry nodded. “Okay.”
“I want you to take care of this matter today.” He said and walked away.
Jerry sighed and returned into Toni’s room.
“So, what did you do?” Toni asked as he walked in.
Nora hissed. “Leave the man alone, Toni. Do we all have to do wrong?” she asked.
“It’s about my housemate.” He replied.
Toni grinned at Nora. “Told you.”
“The hospital wants me to get her out of my house, but her family don’t want her, so it seems pointless.” He replied.
“You have a housemate?” Toni asked.
He nodded. “Mrs Aiyenugba. She is an elderly woman.”
Toni sighed. “Thank God.”
Jerry chuckled as he took his seat. “I should tell you all about her.”
“Yes, you should.” Toni replied.
Nora picked up her purse. “I want to take a walk. I’ll be right back guys.”
Toni blinked. “I’ll be here.”
Nora nodded and walked out.
“She wants to go and cry.” Toni said.
Jerry stared at her. “No. It’s a walk.”
“No. she is going to shed some tears.” She replied.
Jerry raised an eyebrow. “How can you be so sure?”
“I am sure.” She replied.
Jerry rose to his feet. “In that case, I think I should go and check on her.”
“No. She will be fine.” Toni replied. “And let’s look on the brighter side, shedding tears actually washes microorganisms from the eyes.” She said with a smile.
Jerry nodded with a smile. “I love you, Toni.”
She smiled back. “And I love you, Jerry.”
***
Nora wanted the vacation more than anyone. She wanted a new air…some respite for her soul. As she sat in the garden, she watched as Nurses or family members wheeled patients around for some air. She wanted someone to wheel her around. She didn’t want to think about Toni for a minute. She just wanted to be happy…she didn’t want to expect the worst. She wanted to live in denial for a day…maybe a day was pushing her luck. She thought. An hour seemed just fine. If she could just live the next hour without thinking about Toni, maybe she would be fine.
She knew she wasn’t going to be fine. These things don’t just go away. She raised her head to the sky as she fought back tears, the more she tried, the more her throat hurt. She felt pain. Maybe no one really knew how she felt. She cried.
***
“It is pointless, guys, I am not having this conversation.” Jerry said as he knotted his neck tie.
Emeka stared at Mrs Aiyenugba. “I have told you he won’t listen.”
“Jerry, I understand you don’t want to see me go, but if they are threatening to sue the Hospital, you should understand. It could also cost you your job.”
“I’ll get another.” Jerry replied.
Emeka sighed. “Bull-headed cock!”
Jerry laughed. “Bull? Cock? Dude?”
Emeka blinked as he looked away. He was so angry that he didn’t know that he had not put the words out rightly. However tacky Jerry thought it sounded, he had made his point clear. Jerry was being adamant.
“Jerry, I know how much you care about me, but my son can be a real pain. I know that first hand.” Mrs Aiyenugba said. “You don’t want him throwing his Legal weights around.”
Jerry shrugged. “I can’t be bothered. No one will take you to that facility against your will.”
“But I hear it is a fine place. Just that I would be surrounded by old people… And I am old too.” She said with a smile. “Let me go.”
Emeka swallowed. “Come on, man. The Director expects you to have sorted this out yesterday. We shouldn’t go to work today with a negative answer for him.”
“At least, let her meet Toni before she leaves. We would take her in the evening.” Jerry said with a frown.
Mrs Aiyenugba smiled. “Thank you. I can’t wait to meet her.”
“It’s okay.” Jerry said as he took a deep breath. “I would be back to pick you at lunch time.”
The doorbell chimed. Emeka opened it. He was forced back by Police officers.
“Doctor Jerry?”
Jerry stepped forward. “What is it?”
“You are under arrest.” The officer said flashing a warrant before him.

****
Beautiful Stranger is written by @tomi_adesina; Author of Dear Future Husband available for Free on African Stories. Follow @tomi_adesina on twitter for more thrilling stories. Her new book “All Fun and Games” also available for FREE on African Stories

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Beautiful Stranger. Episode 10

Featured

Good wet morning Guys! It’s August, so…lets enjoy the downpour yes? Remember to get free eBooks on African Stories Here and if you are a writer or authored a book, Kindly mail us your articles, books and series to post here. It is free service but works must be edited….although we will go through it, it seems only fair that you make our job easier….you are afterall a writer, are you not? hehehe….#ThursayJokes…send it to mailafricanstories@gmail.com and we will take it from there.

Now, your episode for today
Beautiful Stranger. Episode Ten

Read All Previous Episodes of Beautiful Stranger Here

“Come on, man. Think like a Surgeon. Let’s cut!” Jerry said as he dropped an envelope on the table. He bent over and flipped a Surgical Textbook open.
Emeka took a deep breath. He had never seen Jerry so enthusiastic about something and maybe that was a good sign but at the same time, someone had to be reasonable here. Jerry had just stepped out of Toni’s room with the ‘get me on my feet’ rule and he didn’t seem to be thinking straight here. All he wanted was to get her on her feet in its literary context, but that was not going to give a lasting solution. He sighed as he watched Jerry look through a book. “Bro, I think we should talk about this” Emeka said.
Jerry was engrossed in the textbook he was looking through. “Not now.”
“Jerry, I know you feel you can go all Ben Carson on her right now, but we have to be logical here. She has had epileptic seizures from her history and I don’t think we should take that chance again.” Emeka started.
Jerry closed the book. “You are not getting the point. We can cut through and remove the mass of the tumour, do you know what that will do for her?”
“That will buy her more time and in the end, you will still lose her.” Emeka replied. “I think she should start the treatment as soon as possible. Besides, it is the patient and her sister’s wish that she does Chemo and since we know it is the brain we are focusing on, we can switch to Radiotherapy for effectiveness. Don’t start putting your emotions into this thing.”
“You and I know how Radiotherapy works…I can’t watch her go through it. It is so much pain.” Jerry retorted.
“You don’t have to watch. You just have to be there for her, man. I think we shouldn’t waste any more time with these decisions. It is obvious the tumour is escalating to other parts of the system and if we keep dilly dallying about it, we would get nothing done.” Emeka replied.
Jerry shook his head. “The Director asked me what I think we should do and I think surgery is fine, I would go over to him and tell him about my decision and I would try to make Toni and Nora see reason. Besides, AEDs can be given for the seizures.”
“Jerry, you and I know that cytoreduction of the tumour is the best we would get out of this. You have seen the neoplasm, it is better to let her do radiotherapy. Besides, I think we are going to have problems gaining access to the tumour because of the size and location. It is at the skull base, man. Think. There are many possible outcomes of the surgery, we could tamper with her brain tissues, she could suffer memory loss or something worse, are you willing to take that chance?” Emeka asked.
Jerry took a deep breath and leaned against the table. Emeka was right, but he still believed he could remove as many tumour cells as possible, but he had a very slim chance because of the size and location of the tumour. He fumed as he sank into a chair. His eyes were soon wet. “I am out of ideas, bro.”
“Look, Jerry, radiation therapy will kill the tumours but won’t harm her brain tissues. Let’s take a chance on this.” Emeka replied as he took a seat beside him. “Toni is trusting you to get her back on her feet, but not for a month or two. She wants it to be forever.”
Jerry nodded. “This isn’t going to be easy for her.”
“Well, we both know it is not going to be, but she is a fighter. Let’s believe.” Emeka replied.
The door opened and the Director walked in. “What would it be?” he asked as he picked up a copy of the scan that was lying on the table. “Hmm…this is big.” He said and replaced the scan on the table. “Jerry, do you think we can cut?”
Jerry blinked. “Err…Sir, I…I was thinking-”
“-We are thinking radiotherapy would work.” Emeka said, staring at Jerry. “We can’t cut this.” He said through clenched teeth.
The Director nodded as he stared at Jerry. “I hope you know that you would be off most of her treatment.”
“No way!” Jerry objected.
Emeka took Jerry’s hand. “Man.”
Jerry blinked. “Sir, I can’t afford to be kicked off her case. You know what she means to me.”
“And it is exactly for that reason that you have to sit out of this one. I would get you tonnes of cases-”
“-I don’t want anything. I just want her.” Jerry replied, cutting in.
Emeka cleared his throat. “Sir, I think Jerry can be on the team for the Radiotherapy since we won’t be doing surgery.”
“No. I won’t bend the rule even a bit. There is a surgery in about an hour. He is the lead surgeon.”
Jerry fumed. “Sir! Don’t do this.”
“I can’t have you mixing emotions with this.” The Director replied.
Jerry clasped his hands together. “Sir, I have put my emotions aside. I am just a surgeon and her Doctor.”
“It is not so easy, Son. Sit out of this one, we’ve got it.” The Director replied and stared at Emeka. “Come with me, we need to go and prep the patient.” He said and walked out.
Jerry pulled Emeka back. “He can’t do this to me. Please beg him. Toni wants me to do this.”
Emeka blinked. “Jerry, you know how it is. You can’t. You need a right frame of mind.”
“Don’t give me that crap! You can convince him. It is not surgery.” Jerry replied angrily.
“This is why he won’t let you in on it. Cool off, man.” Emeka said and walked out.
Jerry fumed as he kicked the door.
***
Toni brushed Nora’s hair. “So, I want to draw up my will.”
Nora flipped her head over her shoulder. “What is that?”
“A will. Legal statement showing who I give my share of our family’s fortune to.” Toni replied with a smug smile.
Nora frowned. “I know what a will is, I just don’t know what you need it for right now.”
“Oh come on, Nora. You and I know that it is only necessary I do this now, besides, amendments can be carried out in the nearest future should events change.” Toni replied.
Nora took a seat opposite her. “Are we being less optimistic now? Jerry is doing everything he can and you are here throwing it all away with wanting to draw up a will.”
Toni sighed. “Nora, why are you talking like this? I want to live, but in case I don’t, I want to leaveve something behind for my foundation and stuff.”
“Are you saying I am going to collapse your foundation in the event of your death? Give me some credit, Toni.” Nora said, standing up.
Toni sighed. “I didn’t mean it that way, sis.”
“I don’t care how you meant it, but it hurts.” Nora replied.
Toni nodded. “I am sorry.”
“Yeah. I have got to take a walk.” Nora replied.
Toni sighed. “Are you for real? I said I am sorry.”
“I know you are. I just didn’t expect you to have that sort of opinion of me.” Nora replied.
Toni smiled. “Are you trying to pick up a fight with me? I promise I will be dead before you are back from your walk and you are going to carry the feeling that you fought with your sister before her death to your grave.” She concluded with a wide grin.
Nora rolled her eyes. “Don’t start guilt tripping me.”
“Oh yeah…it worked. I am sorry.” Toni said with a smile.
Nora sighed and took her seat. “Don’t start scaring me, Toni. You have to be in the right frame of mind for any treatment to be effective on you.”
“Trust me, I am motivated to live.” Toni replied.
Nora smiled. “James would be here to see you in the evening. He left early this morning.”
Toni nodded. “Hmm…that’s cool. I need to have a talk with him anyway.”
“What talk could that be?” Nora asked.
Toni shrugged. “It’s personal.”
Nora folded her arms. “Personal?”
Toni nodded. “It is important I talk to him, that’s all. Don’t be scared.”
The door opened and the Director walked in with Emeka. “Good morning, ladies.”
“Good morning, Director.” Nora greeted.
Toni stared at the door expecting it to open but it didn’t. She stared at Emeka looking for an answer.
Emeka cleared his throat. “Jerry is not coming.”
The Director stared at her. “As you understand, Doctor Jerry can’t be let in on this due to his emotional attachment to the patient.”
Nora nodded and took Toni’s hand. “Okay, so, what’s going to happen now?”
“We are going to start the radiotherapy by tomorrow. We can’t have any more surgeries as the tumour is in a delicate position of the brain. So, are you ready?” The Director asked.
Nora stared at Toni. “You ready?”
Toni nodded. “Yes. I have always been.”
Emeka smiled. “Okay. So, we would move you into a new room tonight and we can start off from there.”
“Can I see Jerry?” Toni asked.
Emeka nodded. “I’ll tell him to come.”
“No. I want to go to him.” Toni said.
The Director shrugged. “We’ll get a chair for you.” He said and walked out.
“I’ll go with him.” Nora said and walked out.
Emeka took a deep breath as he sat beside her. “I have heard a lot about you and I…I am honoured to finally meet you.”
Toni smiled. “Trust me, I am more beautiful than this. I am just allergic to Hospitals.” She said with a smile.
“Of course, you are.” Emeka said with a soft chuckle.
Toni stared at him. “Jerry is a good guy.”
Emeka nodded. “I know. He is one of the best men around. I am glad he found you.”
“Me too…”
Emeka took her hand. “Would you please not leave him?” he asked as a teardrop rolled down his eyes.
Toni gasped. “Oh…I think you are also emotional. You can’t be on this case too.” She said as she laughed.
Emeka laughed as he wiped his eyes. “You have a good laugh.”
“I know. I can’t help being a diva.” She replied.
He nodded. “You stay alive, okay?”
“I am alive.” She replied.
Nora returned with a wheelchair. “Let’s go, baby.”
Toni smiled as she got on the wheelchair.
***
Jerry sipped his cup of coffee as he stared at his wristwatch. He had a surgery in about thirty minutes. “Make this count, Jerry.”
The door opened and Toni wheeled in.
“Toni?” he gaped as he went over to her. “How did you…?”
Toni smiled. “Never mind…not like you don’t know how I got here.”
“Emeka.” He replied.
She nodded. “So…you won’t be my Doctor?”
He nodded. “Yes. I…I am sorry. I wanted to be there, but the Director won’t let me.”
“Neither would I.” she replied.
He knelt before her. “The session starts tomorrow. I will be by your side every step of the way. I promise to hold your hand throughout.”
Toni rolled her eyes. “Don’t get all mushy okay. Besides, it means you would hold one hand while Nora holds the other. How am I going to cope with two of you professing love?” she asked with a smile.
“I love you.” Jerry said.
She shrugged. “The question is, who doesn’t love me?”
“Are you going to class me with the majority?” Jerry asked with a smile.
She shook her head. “No. You make up the vast minority.”
“Vast? Minority?” Jerry asked.
She grinned. “You are everything…and much more than I wanted.”
“Oh my…I am honoured.” Jerry said as he kissed her hand.
She nodded. “You should be.”
“I have a patient who is due for surgery now.” He said, staring at his wristwatch.
She smiled. “Oh really?”
He nodded.
“Come here.” She said as she kissed his forehead. “Go save a life.”
Jerry smiled. “You got it.” He said and walked out with a smile.
Tears rolled down Toni’s eyes as the door closed after him. “God please…allow me love this man.”
***
JERRY
Who knew surgery could be fun? Tearing…sewing…tearing…sewing…fixing…smiling. I didn’t understand that it could bring me so much joy…until today. Being a surgeon is everything I have always wanted and I forgot what it was to have that dream until today. They say love can do a lot for you…much more than a lot for you. It gives life. It gives light. It gives hope. It gives much more than you have ever expected.
As I walked into the theatre with optimism, my team lit up. I had never seen them smile. It was as though I was ready to lead an army into battle and they were willing to fight with me…for the first time. Toni. It all came from her. Maybe Magic…maybe a fairy tale, but Toni is pure and true. I couldn’t ask for anything more, the gift of Toni to my life was something I couldn’t question.
And yes, my patient lived.
***
“Hey…”
Toni rolled over to see Jerry. “Hi. How was it?” she asked.
He smiled as he took his seat beside her on the bed. “Patient is fine. I am fine.”
“That’s good to know.” She replied. “I am nervous about radiotherapy. At first, I thought it was going to be chemo…but now it has a different name.” she said with a soft chuckle.
Jerry nodded. “Yeah. Radiotherapy is more effective and it is a better option.”
“So I heard.” Toni replied. “I pray I survive this.”
“You will survive it. I know that you are strong and you can go through this. I am here for you…every step of the way.”
Toni stared at him. “Would you?”
He nodded. “I am not going anywhere…you just have to promise me that you will stay.”
“That is not in my power, is it?” she asked.
He looked away.
“Do you love God, Jerry?”
Jerry shrugged. “He created us, right?”
“That’s not the question. Do you love God?” she asked.
He turned in her direction. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” she asked.
He nodded. “He doesn’t have much love for me either.”
“Why would you say so?” Toni asked as she sat up.
He stared at her. “Frankly, I have never had the best things of life except for good grades.”
“Good grades are something.” She said, cutting in.
“They didn’t save my first patient.” He replied.
She smiled. “You lose some, you win some.”
“Not your first. It is unforgivable.” He replied.
“By who?” she asked.
He stared at her. “I don’t understand.”
“By whose standard is losing your first patient unforgivable?” she asked.
He was silent.
“I know the pain hurts so much, but, we tend to take ourselves too serious and important that we forget the essence of being human.” She started. “Would saving your first patient have mattered if you went on a failure streak afterwards?”
He stared at her. “You don’t understand.”
“Make me.” She said with a smile. “Look, Jerry, we are allowed to lose, but the only thing you are not allowed to do is give up. You saved a life today because God was with you.”
“Why didn’t he save my first patient? Why did he let you have Cancer? Isn’t he God?” Jerry asked. “You talk so much about him, and it is obvious you love him…why did he let that happen to you? Why?”
Toni sniffled. “I am writing a novel. I don’t know if I would have all the time in the world to tell you who Toni was before I got Cancer…but I want you to know that there isn’t so much of a difference. I am still happy. I am still alive. I just have Cancer…and oh, I quit drinking.”
“You used to drink?” he asked.
Toni smiled. “Heavy boozer!”
He smiled faintly. “Toni, I want to understand God the way you have come to understand him, but he has to keep you alive for me to like him.” He said.
“Giving God conditions, are we?” she asked with a smile.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Let him keep you alive, then, we have a deal.”
“Ever heard of Job in the Bible?” she asked.
He nodded. “Sort of.”
“Try to read the Book of Job in the Bible. I am in no way comparing this situation to his, but that is a man that never stopped loving God. I am living proof that God cares about you and I. Talk to him. He listens, Jerry.”
Jerry blinked. “I don’t know about that…what am I going say to him?”
“First, you ask him to forgive you of your sins and give him your life. Let him be in charge of it all.” She said.
He smiled. “I think you should rest, Toni.” He said as he rose to his feet. “I have to go home to get a change of clothes and then I would be back for the night. Nora is outside. I would tell her to come in.”
Toni smiled. “You can run, but you can’t hide.”
He blew her a kiss and walked out.
***
“So, you ran away because she was telling you about God?” Mrs Aiyenugba asked as they ate.
Jerry shrugged. “Not exactly. But, I don’t understand why she is so passionate about him when clearly he isn’t about her.”
Mrs Aiyenugba dropped her spoon. “Jerry???”
“Yes! You don’t let Cancer come near someone you love…I know he is God and he can do everything. Why can’t he take it away?” he shouted.
She sat back as she watched Jerry rant.
“All I want is for her to be fine…he should know that.” He shouted as tears rolled down his face. “He doesn’t have to take her away from me. I thank him for bringing her my way, but I want to have her.” He shouted as he broke down in tears.
Mrs Aiyenugba nodded and walked over to him. “When I lost my husband, I felt God was unfair too…he knew I loved him, but God loves him more and I had to understand that.”
“Just like that? No disrespect, but you have had the best days with your husband, but God isn’t even giving me a chance with her…” He protested.
She smiled. “The best days are yet to come. As long as you live, you make the most of each day and every moment and who told you that Toni has not had the best of her days with you already?”
“Don’t try to patronize me.” He replied.
She nodded. “Not my plan to do that, but I feel you should give yourself some credit already. Every man has his purpose and duty to fulfil, and when we are done, we are done.”
“Toni can’t be done.” He replied.
She stared at him. “Jerry, talk to God. He listens.” She said and dug her spoon into the food.
***
“So James, what are your plans for Nora?” Toni asked.
James stared at her. “I like her a lot. I know we can make it work.”
“Really?” she asked.
He nodded with a smile. “Am I on the hot seat here?”
She nodded. “Yes. I love my sister and I want to be sure that I am leaving her in the right hands.”
“You are not suggesting that you are going to die, are you?” he asked.
She shrugged. “We would all die someday…or face rapture.”
“Look Toni, I know it seems I hit on you the first day we met, but-”
She raised a finger. “I don’t care about that. I want to know your intents.”
“I want to be there for Nora. I want to love her, protect her, and take care of her. I know I can do it and I want you to trust me to be able to.” He said.
“James, I have nothing against you…Nora would do this to Jerry if she were in my shoes. I wish you guys the best.” She said.
“Are you saying goodbye already?” he asked.
She sighed. “I don’t know…but for as long as I am here, I am here.”
***
“God, I know I am not a good guy. I have not been to church in a long time. I have been drinking too much and maybe a little more than too much. But, I have found a good girl and I can’t let you take her away from me. The Director already said I won’t be treating her, but I don’t believe we even treat anyone, I think you do. Please, God, can you treat Toni for me? God, I…I won’t be able to go on without her…If you knew that you won’t keep her alive, why did you bring her my way? Were you trying to tease me? God, please…I can’t do this on my own…Teach me your ways, help me to understand you and everything that happens around me. Let me love you and help me to be a better man.” Jerry said as he knelt down in his room.
“God, forgive me for all the wrong things I have said to you, but I am hurting so much and I want you to fix me. I want you to take care of Toni. I can’t do this on my own…God, please.” He cried as he slid into the floor.

****
Beautiful Stranger is written by @tomi_adesina; Author of Dear Future Husband available for Free on African Stories. Follow @tomi_adesina on twitter for more thrilling stories. Her new book “All Fun and Games” also available for FREE on African Stories

Beautiful Stranger. Episode 9

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Beautiful Stranger. Episode Nine
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****

Emeka pulled Jerry. “Come on, man. Emergency.”
Jerry stood stoned. “That is Toni.”
“Toni?”
Jerry nodded. “My Toni.”
Emeka blinked. “Oh my God! Busted.”
“What could be wrong with her?” Jerry asked.
Emeka swallowed. “I don’t know, man. Let’s go find out.”
“Oh God.”
A Nurse approached them. “The Director is asking for you both.”
“What’s going on?” Emeka asked.
The Nurse stared at them. “We are trying to stabilize the patient.”
Emeka nodded and pulled Jerry along. “I know you are scared of going in there right now, but, you have to know what’s going on.”
“No, man. I will wait here. You can tell me.” Jerry said, backing out.
Emeka nodded and hurried into the theatre. Jerry took a deep breath as he buried his head in his hands.
“Jerry?”
He looked up as Nora stood before him. She was in tears. He took a deep breath and allowed her crash into his arms. “She-just-crashed.” She struggled to say. “She was singing and then I didn’t hear it anything anymore. She just went down.”
Jerry gasped as he felt Nora’s heartbeat pound heavily. It seemed serious. He looked at Nora. “It’s going to be alright.”
She shook her head. “It won’t be. Toni is sick.”
“She is here with us now. She is going to be fine. We would take care of her. I promise you.” He assured.
She took a seat. “You don’t have an idea, do you?”
“What?” he asked.
Nora sniffled. “Toni would kill me if I told you, but, what the heck? You are going to find out anyway.” She said as she cried.
Jerry knelt before her as he wiped her eyes. “ What is going on, Nora?”
Nora stared at the stethoscope on his white overall. “You are a Doctor?”
Jerry took a deep breath. “Nora…I…I can explain.”
“You lied to her…to us.” She said.
He nodded. “I…I just wanted to protect her.”
“Protect? From what? From who?” she asked.
He swallowed. “The other part of me that I didn’t want her to see. It is a long story, I swear and I can’t start explaining it now. But, what is wrong with Toni?”
Nora sighed. “You think changing the topic will change things?”
“No, it won’t. I would come back to the issue. I would explain it to you…to her. But, what is wrong with her?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Why don’t you go in and find out for yourself?”
“Nora, I can’t show up there. I…I can’t let her find out this way. I swear that I will come down to the house and explain everything to you and to her when she is better. But, I need you to tell me what the problem is.”
Nora shook her head. “It might take a while before you visit both of us in the house. We actually would be your visitors here.”
“What do you mean? Stop it!” He cut in, feeling offended.
Nora stood up. “Don’t raise your voice at me.”
He took a deep breath. “I am sorry, but, please tell me what is wrong with her. I can’t go in there and you know it, it might upset things. She can’t find out about me like this. You have to help me.”
“It is all about you, right?” she asked.
Jerry sighed. “I just don’t want to upset her right now. She didn’t look good and since Emeka is not here to brief me on the happenings, I just want you to…”
Nora forced back her tears. “I…I can’t.”
“Please. I care about Toni. You can’t lock me out.”
Emeka approached them. Jerry hurried to him. “What’s up?”
Emeka took his hand. “Let’s talk inside.”
“What is going on?” Jerry shouted.
“Dude, you have to calm down.” Emeka replied.
Jerry yanked out of his grip. “I don’t want to calm down. Tell me. Now!”
Emeka took a deep breath. “Jerry, you don’t want to do this here. Let’s go inside and I will tell you all you need to know.”
“I don’t want to go inside! Just spill it!” He shouted back at Emeka.
“She has cancer.” Emeka replied.

***
JERRY
Cancer? Cancer? Right? Not sure I heard it right but it sounded like Cancer. Cancer at this moment seemed like a zodiac sign and not the disease I knew it to be. I am not sure why my trousers are wet but think I have been laying on the grass outside the Hospital for over three hours now. Now I know why the grass is wet, it should have been sprinkled. I have been here staring into the sky. It is really blue.
Emeka said she has Cancer. Nah…Toni can’t have Cancer. Sleeping on the left side of your bed can give you bad dreams. I would sleep again and by the time I wake up, this would all be a bad dream. Emeka would run out to me from the ward and say ‘she has malaria’. Yeah. Malaria. That’s more like it.
All my life, my wits and guts have been put to test…for the larger part of it, I have failed. As far as this field is concerned, I have tried and failed. I have never counted those failures as one that might pierce through my heart even though it did prick it. But when you face a test that is bigger than you…when you see someone you love on that surgical table and you fail, then, you have really failed. This is Toni. My life. She had come into my life and changed everything for me.
Call me ‘deep’ as the society might want to term it, but her smile and laughter were artistic. It had a pure reflection, one that took me forever to fathom. I was enchanted from the first day I set my eyes on her. Maybe Magic. Maybe Love. Maybe Life. All I know is that I felt something pure and true, and it was Toni.
I had every reason not to show up before Toni. One, my lies had found me out. It would be a total shame for her to find out about me under the circumstance and two, I have nothing to offer her. Of what use would it be if I showed up before her and still didn’t save her life? Pointless. It is time to go home…maybe travel…maybe run away…maybe nothing. Maybe I would just watch her from the side-line.
Why did she never tell me? Or had she tried to tell me? It must be the day we went to the movies…that day, we had seen a movie on Cancer. It had to be that day. Yeah, Cancer is a bitch. She wasn’t wrong. It is a bitch!
***
“Sir, he has been here like this for the past three hours. He won’t let anyone come near him.” Emeka complained to the Director.
The Director stared at a lukewarm Jerry and then back at Emeka. “I can’t have him like this. Get security to bring him in.”
“He has rebuffed them, Sir.” Emeka replied.
The Director stared at him. “Why do we pay them if they can’t bring one man inside?”
“Sir, he is related to Toni. Our patient.” Emeka replied.
The Director sighed. “Well, if we don’t get him out of this state, we are going to be treating a depressed Surgeon soon. Tell them to use whatever force in the universe that they can to bring him in.” he said and returned into the Hospital.
Emeka approached Jerry. “Hey.”
Jerry ignored him.
“Dude, I…I know this is all a shock for you, but, Toni doesn’t need this from you.” Emeka said.
Jerry didn’t say a word. He just stared.
“I am not going to lie by saying I know how you feel because no one knows how you feel right now, but, I am going to tell you the same thing that you are going to tell any man who is torn right now, you can’t afford to pull away.”
Jerry stared at him and sighed.
“Look, Jerry, I know you are breaking up inside. I know everything about now seems senseless, but trust me, man, you would pull through. Toni needs you. We have stabilized her and she might start Chemo soon. Are you going to be the guy who runs away when she needs you most or the guy who sits her through this one?” Emeka asked.
Jerry took a deep breath.
“Bro, I love you…and I would be here for you every step of the way…we would fight for Toni. We won’t let her go. Are you with me?” Emeka asked.
Jerry wiped his tears and rose to his feet.
Emeka stretched out his hand to him. “Let’s go in.”
“I can’t.” Jerry replied and walked away into the streets.
***
Nora hurried to Emeka as he approached her from Toni’s room. “How is she?”
“Stable.”
Nora sighed. “Don’t you have another term? This is all you have been saying in the last few hours. Can I see her? Talk to her? Just say hi?”
Emeka nodded. “She is…”
“-Please. I beg you. She is all I have. There must be something you can do.” Nora begged.
He nodded. “You can’t be in there for a long time.”
She nodded. “Thank you.” She said and hurried into Toni’s room.
Toni turned as Nora took a seat. “You’ve been crying.” She said as she managed a chuckle.
Nora burst into tears as she kissed Toni’s forehead. “Toni…”
“Don’t cry on me.” She replied.
Nora sniffled as she stared at her. “I am sorry.”
“About what?” Toni asked. “You have nothing to be sorry for.”
Nora drew her chair closer. “Toni…I…I don’t know what to do or what to say.”
“Say nothing, Sis. You panic too much.” Toni replied. “I am going to be fine.”
Nora took a deep breath
“Has Jerry called?” Toni asked.
“Uh?” Nora asked.
Toni smiled faintly. “Jerry…Mr Nice outfit. Have you suddenly forgotten who he is?”
Nora shook her head. “No, I haven’t. There is a lot of work at the Bank. He has been busy.”
“Okay. Don’t tell him anything.” Toni said.
Nora blinked. “Oh.”
“Have you?” Toni asked, looking concerned. “I…I want to be the one to tell him.”
Nora nodded. “I didn’t tell him anything, Toni. I swear I didn’t.”
Toni swallowed. “Thank you.”
“Do you want me to call him?” Nora asked.
Toni shook her head. “Chemo starts tomorrow. I am going to look really horrible. Just tell him I travelled or something. What’s the time now?”
Nora checked her wristwatch. “Ten pm.”
“It’s late. You should go home.” Toni said.
Nora shook her head. “No. I am staying right here.”
“Come on, Nora. What could possibly happen to me?” Toni asked. “Nora, go home and rest.”
Nora sighed. “You know I am not going. Quit trying.”
Toni nodded. “I know. I just thought I could try harder. So, what are you going to eat?”
“James is on his way. He would bring me some food and a change of clothes.” Nora replied.
Toni smiled. “That’s good.”
“Are you sure you don’t want Jerry around?” Nora asked.
Toni blinked. “I can’t deny I want to see him, but not here, and certainly not like this. So, just stop bugging me about it.”
“I don’t want to bug you about it. I…I just want to do the right thing.” Nora replied.
Toni stared at her. “Right thing? What do you mean?”
“I don’t mean anything in particular. I am just concerned about keeping Jerry in the loop on this matter.” Nora replied.
Toni sighed. “Look Nora, I know this seems wrong but, I…I can’t let him know that I am sick. If he finds out, he would be broken. I can’t do that to him.”
Nora nodded. “I know how you feel and if that is what you want, I respect it.”
“Thank you.” Toni replied. “I want to rest.”
Nora nodded. “Take care. I would be outside.” She replied and walked out.
***
Jerry smashed another bottle into the wall. “Let me see if you can top that.”
Mrs Aiyenugba hurled her bottle into the wall. “I did fine.” She said with a chuckle.
“Tell me…what’s the point if you are going to lose the one you love? Nothing.” He said and laughed. “I deserve another bottle.” He said and opened his drink.
Mrs Aiyenugba watched him drink another bottle of alcohol. “You have had too many to drink, Jerry.”
“Too many? She made me quit…and what for? She has Cancer, she didn’t even tell me a word. She let me fall in love with her. She is selfish. Just like every woman, self-centred and -”
Mrs Aiyenugba silenced him with a slap.
“What did you do that for?” he asked as he nursed his cheek.
She stared at him. “One, Feminist. I can’t watch you talk about the female gender like that. And Two, How dare you say she is selfish? She loves you.”
“I am hurting here. Where is she? She is there. Sick. Tired. I can’t even look at her!” he yelled.
She sighed. “Jerry, you left her in the Hospital. She needs you. You can’t run away right now.”
“But I don’t know what to do. She is dying. I can’t help her. What use am I to her?” he shouted amidst tears. “I want her to stand up from there and not be sick. I want her to be fine.”
She nodded. “Jerry, do you think she wants to be there?”
Jerry drank more from the bottle and threw it into the wall. “I want to drink more.”
“Come on, Jerry. It’s late into the midnight and we have been drinking forever. I think you should rest so that you can go to the Hospital tomorrow to see her.” She replied.
Jerry stared at the door as the key hole rattled and the door knob turned. “Emeka is here.”
Emeka walked in. “Dude.”
Jerry wiped his tears. “Hey, man.”
“How are you?” he asked as he collected the bottle from him.
Jerry stared at him. “I want to die, Emeka. I want to die.”
Emeka sighed and hugged him. “It’s going to be alright. It is going to be.”
Mrs Aiyenugba smiled. “There are no drinks for you, Emeka.”
“I know ma’am.” Emeka replied and then focused on Jerry. “Toni is stable. I think you should come and see her.”
Jerry sniffled. “You know I can’t. I am just useless to her.”
“Jerry, you are not useless to her. You are the man she loves. She would always want to be with you.” He replied.
Jerry shook his head. “How do I tell her? I can’t look her in the face and say, ‘I have been lying about being a Banker’.”
“Jerry, right now what matters is not that you are a Surgeon. What matters is that you do what is right and love this woman.”
“I love her. Are you blind?” Jerry shouted.
Emeka nodded. “I know…but love is not shown when you are here tearing apart. You have to be by her side. Fighting. Working. You can’t be here doing this to yourself, Jerry.”
Jerry nodded. “Fine. How do I talk to her?”
“Just talk. You don’t have to worry about anything right now. You just have to be there for her. Fight for her. Let her know that you won’t leave her.” Emeka replied.
Jerry sighed. “I am so tired. I just want it all to go away. It’s just like a nightmare. I love her so much, I don’t want to lose her.”
“You won’t lose her.” Emeka replied.
Jerry shrugged. “I don’t know about that, Emeka. I am scared.”
“She is a fighter. I met her. She is lovely. Go to her, don’t leave her alone.” Emeka replied.
Jerry nodded. “I’ll go there tomorrow.”
***
“I still can’t believe that someone like Toni could have Cancer.” James said as he stroked Nora’s hair.
“We don’t choose these things, James.” She replied.
James nodded. “Yeah. I…I just don’t understand. She is so beautiful, so special, and so kind. Why her?”
“I ask myself those questions every time. But, I have never found the answers to them. I just want to see her okay.” She replied.
He nodded. “Maybe Chemo would do fine.”
“She believes in surgeries, but the problem with the surgeries is the seizures she gets. She had a relapse yesterday in Church. I never saw it coming, the drugs had been working well.” She replied.
“Nora, I want you to know that I would be here with you forever, okay?” James said. “And we are going to be strong for Toni too, because she needs us right now.”
Nora nodded. “I don’t know how to tell her that Jerry is not who she thinks he is.”
“Jerry? The guy with the Pyjamas?” he asked.
She sighed. “He is a Doctor here at the Hospital, but he has made us believe that he is a Banker.”
“Really? Why would anyone lie about their profession? Especially being a Doctor? It’s a noble profession…anyone would be proud of it.” He replied.
Nora nodded. “My sentiments exactly. I am shocked he deceived us all. I can’t get my head around why he would do such a thing. I am too tired thinking about my sister to worry about him.”
“It’s okay. We’ll get through this…all of us.” James replied.
Nora nodded.
***
“Good morning, Toni.” Nora said as she drew the curtains back.
Toni smiled. “How are you doing?”
“Fine. Did you sleep well?” Nora asked.
Toni nodded. “Yes. I didn’t have you staring at me all night. That made my life a lot easier.” She said with a smile.
Nora chuckled. “Interesting observation.”
“You do know that you can be really boring, Nora?” Toni said as she rolled over. “The Nurses will soon be here to prep me for my first session.”
“How do you feel about it?” Nora asked.
Toni sighed. “Enthusiastic.”
“You don’t sound it.” Nora replied.
Toni nodded. “Correct. How can you ask such a question?” she asked with a chuckle. “How does anyone feel about Chemo? Hair loss? It’s a good thing I have prepped myself for it by cutting this hair.”
Nora smiled. “How many hours to go?”
“I don’t know.” Toni replied.
The door opened and Jerry walked in.
“What are you doing here?” Nora asked, staring at him in his overall.
Jerry swallowed. “I want to see Toni.”
Toni stared at him confusingly. “Nice outfit, Jerry.”
He smiled. “Hi.”
“Hey…” she said.
Nora clenched her teeth as Jerry came closer. “What are you doing?”
Jerry stopped as he got to her. “I want to make things right.” He replied.
Nora shook her head. “I’ll excuse you both.” She said and walked out.
Jerry walked over to Toni and took her hand. “Hi,”
“So…Nora told you?” she asked.
He shook his head. “No. My friend did.”
“Your friend?” she asked.
Jerry nodded. “Doctor Emeka is my best friend.”
“Oh? He is a really nice man.” She replied. “I am guessing he gave you his overall so you could feel like a Doctor?”
“I am a Doctor.” Jerry replied.
Toni smiled. “Nice try, Jerry.”
“I lied to you all this while about being a Banker.” He replied.
She sat up. “Jerry…what are you saying?”
He took a deep breath. “Toni, I am sorry. When that kid saw us at the mall and called me Doctor, it was because he had been my patient here at the Hospital. I…”
“Go on.” She said as she stared at him.
Jerry nodded. “Being a Doctor has been a nightmare for me. I would do anything to avoid being called Doctor Jerry. I am a failure in this field, a lot of people die under my watch. I…I don’t get to keep people alive. I am scared, I am nervous and I fail a lot. I also drink badly and I…I know I would have sounded irresponsible if that day when you met me at the bar, I said I am a Doctor. I would have disappointed from the start.”
“But you did disappoint me from the start.” She said with a smile. “But, it doesn’t matter, Jerry. You are a good person, you don’t have to lie about who you are or what you do.”
“Or that you have cancer?” Jerry said as tears rolled down his eyes.
Toni smiled. “I never lied. You never asked.”
“Was I supposed to ask you, do you have cancer?” he asked.
Toni shrugged. “I just didn’t tell you and yes, Jerry, I am sorry.”
“Toni, you don’t understand. This is too much for me, why you? You are so…so…beautiful, so full of life, so nice, everything right. Why you?”
Toni smiled. “Why not me?”
“Just stop it.” He said as he took his seat beside her on the bed. “My record of success here is zero. I don’t do well. I have never done well.” He said.
“What happened?”
Jerry cleared his throat. “I…I lost my first patient. I just came off fresh into the theatre and they placed a dying woman in my hand. I was scared, I didn’t know what to do. I lost her. I disappointed her family and…and I never made it through it. I don’t think I ever will.”
Toni took his hand. Jerry took a deep breath and released himself from her grip as he rose to his feet. “I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, Toni. Forget it.” He said.
She took his hand again. “I don’t care if you are a Doctor or a Banker. I don’t care if you have tried hard and failed in the past. All I want you to know is that I love you so much and I would be there for you until our dying day. And I also want you to know that this lady on this bed is desperate to live and afraid to die and so, I want you to get me on my feet, Doctor Jerry.”

****
Beautiful Stranger is written by @tomi_adesina; Author of Dear Future Husband available for Free on African Stories. Follow @tomi_adesina on twitter for more thrilling stories. Her new book “All Fun and Games” also available for FREE on African Stories

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Beautiful Stranger. Episode 8

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Beautiful Stranger. Episode Eight
Read All Previous Episodes of Beautiful Stranger Here

****

Jerry pushed the door open as he put the bags in. “It is not too large, but, you are going to like staying here.”
Mrs Aiyenugba looked round. “Petite. I like it.”
“Thank you. So, you can stay here while I talk to your children on your behalf.” He replied as he closed the door.
She smiled as she took a seat. “I don’t need you to talk to them on my behalf. If they don’t think I am needed there, it would be unfair of you to force me on them.”
Jerry nodded. “Fair enough. I have enough room for two here.”
“Does she stay with you?” Mrs Aiyenugba asked.
Jerry smiled. “No. She won’t…at least, not yet.”
She nodded. “Good. When do I get to meet her?”
“Ah…I don’t know. I am going over to her place in an hour.” He replied.
“Don’t worry, this Old woman won’t be here to bore you for too long. I might kiss my grave soon or maybe I would just check into the home and make new friends there. Come to think of it, I don’t think there would be boring women there. They would all have tales to tell.”
“And men too…Old men too! Who knows…you might fall in love.” Jerry said with a sneer.
Mrs Aiyenugba smiled. “I love the fact that you know there are no boundaries to love.”
“Of course, there are no boundaries to love.” Jerry echoed.
She chuckled. “I know. I just said that.” She replied with a smirk.
“I like your sense of humour.” He said.
She smiled. “I try. But sometimes, my jokes get really flat and maybe that’s why my children and grandkids don’t want me around. But who cares? I am person first before I am their family.”
He stared at her. He was in awe of her. She had a full depth of knowledge about life. She knew she was a person before having a family, hence, she owed it to herself to be happy. She took his mind to Toni. Toni amazed him. She lived one step at a time, full of life and beauty. He’d be damned if he didn’t spend the rest of his life with Toni.
“Have you called your Mother?” Mrs Aiyenugba asked.
He shook his head. “No. I…I should call her today.”
“No, you are not going to call her anytime soon. Hmm…what happened?”
Jerry relaxed in his seat. “I haven’t saved a life yet.”
“I don’t understand.” She said as she sat up.
He took a deep breath. “My career has been a huge mess.”
She smiled. “They dread you at the Hospital.”
“I am the worst. No one gets to live when assigned to me.” He replied.
She shook her head. “I am alive.”
Jerry chuckled. “Well, you know what I mean. Critical conditions.”
She nodded. “You always have a special relationship with your patients.”
“But I always let them down in the end, the patients that need me always get disappointed in the end.” He replied.
“Do you believe in yourself?” she asked.
“No.” he replied, bluntly.
She smiled. “That’s honest.”
“And trust me, there is nothing to believe in. This is a bare case of a man who has failed at everything that he thought he had loved.” He blurted.
“I beg to disagree, I am a happy woman because of you…and that girl is lucky to have you.” She replied.
Jerry smiled. “No. I am lucky to have her.”
“Do you think you are handsome?” she asked.
He shrugged. “People say so.”
“Do you own a mirror?” she asked.
He nodded. “Yes, I do. Where are you going with this?”
“I would like you to check the mirror and answer that question again.” She said.
Jerry walked in and returned almost immediately. “I have checked it.”
“Now, are you handsome?” she asked.
He nodded. “Yes, I am.”
“You don’t always need everyone to make you feel good about you. If you don’t love you for who you are, no one can make you feel loved.” She replied. “So, I think that lady is lucky to have you and you have to learn to understand that.”
Jerry took a deep breath and then smiled. “Thank you.”
“One more thing, you are going to save a life. Then, you would save lives. You just have to believe in yourself and trust God. He gives life.” She said and yawned. “Now, you have made me talk much more than I bargained. I am tired.” She said with a smile.
Jerry smiled. “I have to get ready to go out now and prepare for my evening shift. What would you have for dinner?”
“Are you going to cook for me?” she asked.
He nodded. “Yes.” He replied, standing up.
“I am coming with you.” She replied.

***
“So, what’s the plan? The Doctor wants to see you this evening, right?” Nora asked.
Toni smiled. “Yeah…I should head out to the Hospital for some examinations. He has the results from my last scans so I guess I won’t be out for long.”
“You know what I mean, Toni. When are you telling Jerry?”
Toni took a deep breath. “I don’t think I ever want to.”
“What! That’s wickedness, Toni.” Nora protested.
Toni relaxed in her seat. “You don’t understand. It won’t change anything.”
“It changes everything.” Nora retorted. “Besides, I thought you didn’t like getting attached to people. This seems to be overdoing it.”
Toni was silent.
“Don’t go quiet on me, Toni. We have to face this now or never. You are going into Chemo and you can’t be quiet about it to him.”
“I want to be quiet about it. Please, respect it.” Toni replied.
Nora hissed. “Toni, I don’t like this.”
“Well, you are my sister and you owe it to me.” Toni replied. “Besides, the Doctor said I have to see him today so we can know the stage of the cancer before Chemo starts.”
Nora nodded. “That is normal. But, I am not in support of you hiding this from Jerry.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Toni replied. “Have you thought of the possibility that I might just survive it and he doesn’t need to even know that I once had cancer?” She asked with a smile. “Let’s see the positivity in everything.”
“I am trying to see that with you. You just have to stay alive…for me.” Nora said, quietly.
Toni grinned. “I am not going anywhere.”
Nora smiled as she hugged her sister.
“Enough!” Toni said, wriggling out of the hug.
Nora sighed. “You can be really boring, Toni,”
Toni nodded. “So, James, right?”
“Yeah. He asked me out, I told you, remember?” Nora said with a smile as she sprawled out on the couch.
Toni crawled up to her sister. “And you are really cool with him, right?”
Nora popped her eyes at Toni. “Get on with it, Toni. What is it?”
“I don’t know. I…I just have my reservations.” Toni replied and took a seat.
Nora stared at her. “I know how you feel, someone is coming in between the both of us, but I think-”
Toni started to chuckle and eventually burst into a horrid laugh.
“You think it is funny?” Nora asked.
Toni nodded. “Yes. You are sounding as though you were my single mother.”
“I am your mother, Toni, Deal with it. Now, as I was saying, I know you are jealous of James’ presence in our life, but I want you to understand that nothing and no one would ever come in between us.” Nora concluded with a smile.
“Except death.” Toni chipped in quickly
Nora frowned. “Do you always have to ruin the moment? That was the closest thing I had to being romantic and you just had to ruin it.”
“I chipped in reality.” Toni said with a smile.
Nora stared at her with a grimace. “I don’t like reality.”
“Who does?” Toni asked, standing up. As she rose to her feet, she slumped to the floor.
Nora hurried over her. “Toni!”
Toni took a deep breath. “I am fine. I…I must have hit the table or something.”
“There is no table here! Oh my God! Toni!” Nora gaped as she helped her up to a seat. She stared at Toni hands. “Oh my God! I have to get the Doctor. Have you stopped your drugs?”
Toni rolled her eyes. “How can I stop the drugs that you feed me with every day?”
“You are looking pale.” Nora said.
Toni shrugged. “I will see the Doctor this evening. Nothing to worry about.”
Nora sighed as she watched Toni sit up. “What time is your appointment?”
“7pm. Besides, it might have just been a spasm. Nothing to worry about.” She said with a smile.
The doorbell went. Nora rose to her feet. “I’ll get it.” She said and hurried to the door.
Toni looked over her shoulder as she watched Nora usher Jerry in. She immediately faked a smile. “Hey!!!”
Jerry smiled. “Hi, how are you doing?”
“Amazing!” she replied.
Jerry took a seat. “That’s smooth.”
“I would be in the kitchen.” Nora said as she walked away.
Jerry took a seat beside Toni. “You don’t look as good as you sound today.”
Toni raised an eyebrow. “Really? I am fine.”
Jerry lifted his hand to her forehead and she immediately gripped his hand. “Hey…I…I am just checking.”
“You are not a Doctor…and please don’t tell me that service as a paramedic passes for that.” She said with a smile.
He nodded as he returned his hand to his lap. “Fever?”
Toni nodded. “Yeah. But it would pass. I already have some drugs for it.”
“That’s good. So, I have a new housemate.” He started. “She is very lovely.”
Toni smiled. “She? That’s something.”
He nodded. “Yeah, she was kicked out of the Hospital with no place to go.”
“Oh? What about her family?” Toni asked.
“They don’t want her home. Her children are sending her to Victoria’s Homes. She doesn’t want to go there.”
Toni tried not to smile. She was glad he was talking about an elderly female. She cleared her throat. “So…so, is she comfortable at your place?”
“Sure. It’s not as big as this place, but, it is very spacious.” He replied. “Do you want to take a walk?”
She checked her wristwatch. “I have to be back before 6:30pm.”
He nodded. “I got you.” He said as he stretched out his hand.
She smiled as she took the hand. “Nora!” she called. “I will be back in about an hour.”
“Be careful!” Nora called back from the kitchen.
“Okay, Mom.” Toni said with a grin as she pushed the door open.
***
Nora couldn’t take her mind off Toni and what she had called a spasm. She knew it wasn’t. It was a good thing that they had to see a Doctor soon. Nora knew it would be unfair of Toni not to tell Jerry what was going on. She had to tell him even though it would hurt her sister…or maybe she would just keep quiet and honour her sister? She sighed as she battled with her thoughts. She wanted to cry. She needed their parents now. When their parents had died, she didn’t think she was alone because she had Toni with her. But now, Toni seemed to be fading away. She didn’t want to let her go. It was not right to let Toni go. But then, how was she going to keep Toni alive? Who would fight for Toni?
Tears started to roll down her cheeks as she sliced the onions. It had to be the onions that brought the tears. But then her heart ached as she tried not to cry out. The onions couldn’t have touched her heart. She couldn’t hold it in anymore as she broke down in tears. The maid in the kitchen stared at her boss as she cried freely. She wasn’t shocked. Nora cried almost every time. She walked over to Nora and put her hands around her.
***
“Chocolate flavour for me.” Jerry said as he handed Toni her ice-cream.
Toni took a seat as she started to scoop. Jerry joined her almost immediately. “So, what do you want to talk about?”
“You.” She said, quietly.
He smiled. “Okay…here I am.”
“Is there a difference between lying and not telling someone what they ought to know?” she asked.
Jerry choked on his ice-cream. Could she have found out about him already? He knew he’d be damned if she found out before he told her. He coughed.
“I am so sorry. What happened?” she asked.
He cleared his throat. “I guess the ice-cream went wrong. Anyway, what were you trying to say?”
“I want to know if there is a difference between lying to someone and not telling them what you think they ought to know.” She said.
Jerry took a deep breath. He didn’t know what his next word should be.
“I don’t know really, that’s why I want to know. Would be right if I was to tell you something and I didn’t?” she asked.
Jerry sighed. This question made it easier for him. “Erm…I think it would better if you did, that way, no one holds something against the other.”
“No. This is not about holding something against you or me, let’s say more like hiding important information. If the information was going to hurt you, would you want to know?”
Jerry took a deep breath. “I am not sure. It sort of depends on the kind of information, you know?”
Toni smiled. “Just forget it. Been enjoying quizzing you.”
“Really?”
She nodded. “I like seeing a serious mood sometimes…you fared fine.”
He smiled. “So, what if I was hiding something from you? Or…what if I have lied to you?”
“All is forgiven.” She replied.
He stared at her. “Really?”
“As long as you have not lied about your name.” she said with a smile.
He nodded. “I am Jerry.”
“Good.” She stared at her wristwatch. “I have to head home.” She said.
Jerry mouthed.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Toni, I…I like you so much and I…I want to know if you would go out with me.” He asked, squinting his eyes.
Toni smiled. “Is that a rehearsed speech?”
“No. But…I can try again.” He said.
She smiled. “I like you too…so…that’s life made easy.”
“Is that a yes?” he asked.
“Don’t make it sound like a proposal. You are too formal.”
Jerry smiled. “Wow! Cool! So, we are official.”
“Now, that’s formal.” She said with a smile.
Jerry knew he couldn’t do anything to jeopardize their relationship. He watched her as she checked her wristwatch again and rose to her feet. “Toni, I have something to tell you.”
“Now? I am very late.” She replied, without looking at him. “We could attend to it later…if you don’t mind.” She said as she gathered her bag. She was feeling weak and didn’t want to have to pass out before him.
He nodded. “Let me take you home.”
***
“So you lied to her?” Mrs Aiyenugba asked as she sipped her drink. “What were you thinking?”
Jerry sighed. “I didn’t feel proud about it, it was pointless to tell her the sort of Doctor I am.”
Emeka laughed. “Still she would find out…and when that happens, your life would be over. This new thing you think you have going on would be cut short.”
“Don’t be such a killjoy.” Mrs Aiyenugba shot in Emeka’s direction. She then turned towards Jerry. “If I had known when you came in last night, I would have tossed you back to go and tell the truth.”
“It is not too late.” Emeka cooed.
Mrs Aiyenugba stared at Emeka. “You are such a good friend.”
“I really did try to tell him the truth, ma. Jerry is just a born liar.”
She nodded. “And he has a worthy accomplice in you.”
“Well, I try to be a friend.” Emeka replied.
Jerry smiled at him. “I love you, bro.”
“Mutual feeling.” Emeka replied, coldly.
Jerry grinned. “Would it kill you to say you love me too?”
“No. It might just hurt my ego a little bit.” Emeka replied.
Mrs Aiyenugba smiled. “Don’t you guys go to church?”
“I am going to the Hospital.” Jerry replied, standing up.
Emeka nodded. “Me too.”
“What is wrong with you both?”
Jerry smiled as he approached the door. “Later ma’am. There is enough food.”
***
Nora stared at Toni. “We can leave now.”
Toni shook her head. “The choir is about to minister.”
“I should have forced you to see the Doctor yesterday, I don’t know what made me weak.” Nora said angrily as she stared at Toni’s face.
An Usher walked past them.
“Service in session.” Toni said as she turned to Nora with a smile.
Nora frowned. Toni had returned from her outing with Jerry yesterday and gone straight to bed, so she missed the appointment with the Doctor. Nora had to accompany her to the church because of her sister’s frail look.
The choir rose as it was time for their ministration. Nora watched Toni as she smiled. She loved God. Nora didn’t understand why everything bad was happening to Toni. She had seen herself as the perfect alternative if anyone was meant to suffer. She was the one angry at life and at herself. Toni on the other hand, loved life. She lived every moment of it.
The church rose to sing and dance. Nora was the only one sitting. Toni was dancing, swaying from left to right. Nora swallowed painfully as she stared at the Altar. She didn’t understand where Toni got her joy from. Nora was angry. All she wanted was for her sister to live, was that too hard? Tears started to stream down her eyes as she thought hard.
Nora lifted her head up as she watched Toni. She was no more dancing, her eyes were shut. Toni dropped to the floor.
***
“Emergency Unit!” The announcement went off in the Hospital.
The door flew open as the paramedics rushed Toni in on a stretcher. Nora cried as she ran after them.
Jerry and Emeka ran towards the Hospital Entrance.
“Toni! Stay with me!” Nora cried as they wheeled her in.
“Out of the way, people.” A paramedic shouted.
Jerry paused in his track as he watched Toni being rushed in. “Toni?”
Nora cast a glance at him and then ran on with the paramedics.

****
Beautiful Stranger is written by @tomi_adesina; Author of Dear Future Husband available for Free on African Stories. Follow @tomi_adesina on twitter for more thrilling stories. Her new book “All Fun and Games” also available for FREE on African Stories

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