“It’s not her.” I whispered.
I heaved a huge sigh of relief.
“What do you mean, sir?” The nurse asked.
“There’s been a mistake. This is not the Florence we know.” Femi said, barely supressing the excitement in his voice.
The nurse stared at us, confused.
“Let’s get outta here.” I suggested.
And get out we did. The air was now charged with excitement. As we made our way back to the doctor’s office, I noticed our mood had taken a sudden change. We were not the same gloomy individuals that entered the mortuary. Something shone in our faces. Hope.
The doctor wasn’t in his office when we got there. We were instructed to wait for him.
He came in minutes later; the look on his face was one of worry, apprehension and embarrassment.
“I’m so sorry; there’s been a mix-up somewhere.” He began. “There were two Florence’ admitted on the same day, they both had girls. I think there was a mix-up in their files. Florence Ajah was the one who died while having her baby. Florence Andrews is the one you’re looking for. She’s alive and well. As you can see, the mistake wasn’t really our fault. Their names look so much alike, anyone was bound to mistake one for the other.”
We were too stunned with happiness to get mad at him for putting us through such trauma. Flores was alive! That was all that mattered. To us she meant different things, to Femi and Oscar she was the dearest friend they’d ever have. Even Abbey who hadn’t known her well, knew that she was a woman to reckon with and that she’d changed our lives one way or the other. To me, she was the woman of my dreams, my Miss Right…and subsequently, the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with!
“Take us to her, please.” I told the doctor.
“We’ll deal with you later.” Femi couldn’t resist adding.
We filed out of the office and we were led to the ward that Flores was kept. There were six other occupants in the room, Flores was the last occupant with a bed close to the wall.
She spotted us as soon as we entered, by the time we got to her bed; she was weeping. She kept saying ‘I’m sorry’ as we took turns in hugging her. Abbey took the baby from her arms as she embraced her.
I couldn’t stop staring. It had been eight months since I’d seen her but it seemed like eight years. I couldn’t seem to get enough of her. Although she looked weak and tired, she still looked good for a woman who had just had a baby.
When it was my turn to hug her; she surprised me by pulling me close and kissing me.
There were sounds of ooh’s and aah’s from behind us but we ignored them.
When we were done, she blushed sweetly and said; “I’ve dreamt of doing that for the past eight months.”
I couldn’t believe her nerve. It thrilled me.
“I missed you so much, Jake” She said again.
“Not as much as I missed you. Why did you do it, Flores?” I asked. I needed to know.
She sighed. “I couldn’t marry Fred and I needed to know that what you and I felt was much more than an attraction. I wanted to see what would happen if we didn’t see each other for a while. I thought that you’d decide to move on if you thought I was gone.”
I shook my head, speechless.
“Believe me, Jake. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t want to call you. I missed you so much. Then at other times, I wanted to call Oscar or Femi to ask how you were doing but I knew they’d tell you if I called. I’m sorry.” She said.
“Umm…” Femi cleared his throat. “Before you continue with this intimate moment…can you tell us what this pretty angel’s name is?”
Flores laughed. “Her name is Nichole.”
“Wow! Beautiful name and she looks so much like you.” Abbey exclaimed.
Flores smiled. “I missed y’all so much. Oscar, I’m sorry I missed you and Abbey’s wedding. Femi, I missed your wisecracks. What are you doing these days?”
“Femi don change ooh. He is now CEO of one of his father’s companies and he has a stable girlfriend.” Oscar replied.
“Girlfriend ke? Not bed mate this time? He don repent ni?” Flores eyes widened in surprise.
“Yes ooh. The chick fine sef. And sex isn’t part of the equation.” Oscar continued.
“For now.” Femi chirped.
We all laughed. It felt good to be back. Our trio was complete.
“Guys…Oya give me space. I wanna do something I was supposed to do a long time ago.” I said.
There was silence everywhere, as I went down on one knee.
“I don’t have the ring yet, but I promise to get you one ASAP. It took me a long time to realise this but I love you. Maybe I always did, I don’t know. But right here, right now…I know that I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you…”
“Aren’t you forgetting someone?” Abbey asked.
I smiled. “I want you and Nichole to be a part of my life forever.”
“Is that a proposal, my love?” Flores asked with a twinkle in her eye.
“In plain terms Florence Andrews, will you marry me?”
“Isn’t there supposed to be dating, then courting before…” Femi began.
I turned to him. “Femi?”
“Shut up and let her give me her answer.” I said, giving him the eye.
“Yes. I’ll marry you.” Flores said softly. “You do know I have some baggage right?”
“I still want you.” I said.
“Fred is the father of my baby and he’ll want to…”
I shut her up with a kiss.
We were married six months later in a noisy and large wedding ceremony. I’d never been happier in my life. Flores, Fred and I had worked something out about how Nichole will be raised. Although it was hard for Fred to swallow at first; we agreed to tell her the truth when she grew to understand it. She was lucky to have two fathers. My wife (feels good to call her that) and I decided we wanted our kids raised in a Christian home; we began taking God and our religion more seriously.
And that’s how it ended for us; Femi was still trying to remain faithful to his girlfriend while trying to decide whether he was ready to settle down. Oscar and Abbey had their first child two months after Flores and I were married.
All I can say is…all’s well that ends well.
“It’s not her.” I whispered.