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Drew groaned shakily and tried to sit up, but she felt dizzy again. She leaned back and felt the softness of pillows at her back. She opened her eyes slowly, trying to figure out her surroundings. It appeared she was in her bedroom, on her bed. Tawiah was sitting besides her, fussing around her, but Drew wasn’t exactly sure what she was doing. She groaned again, her head was on fire.
“Oh God, I think I’m going to die,” she mumbled.
“Oh, you’re awake! Please don’t be so dramatic. You fell, hit your head a little and you’ve been unconscious only for like a few minutes.”
“I’m being dramatic? You know what, you’re lucky I don’t feel up to arguing with you,” Drew snapped, but it came out more like a whimper.
“You’re fine, your thick morning coat cushioned your fall and there are no cuts on your head. All that hair underneath your scarf saved you. I guess I’m sold now, afro hair saves lives!”
Drew closed her eyes and sunk into the bed. Was Tawiah really cracking jokes at a time like this?
“Hey, hey, wake up, we need to talk. Come on, sit up.”
Drew turned on her side and burrowed deeper under the covers, pulling pillows along with her, anything to hide her.
“I don’t want to talk. I just want to lie here and forget everything that’s happened in the last two days!” she yelled, but it was muffled by the pillows and covers around her.
Tawiah dragged everything off her and pulled her up into a sitting position. Drew didn’t fight her. She was just tired. Then she remembered her daughter.
“Oh my God, is Ama okay? She saw me fall. She must be worried.”
“Ama is fine. She actually thought you were play acting or something. Aku is with her right now. I told them to go play outside.”
“And Nik and Hans?”
“Nik and Hans. Wow. This is surreal.”
“You think? Where are they?”
“Nik carried you in here, and I followed, so I don’t know.”
Drew started crying and then Tawiah slapped her thigh hard.
“What? What did you do that for? I just hit my head! My life is a mess!”
“Your life isn’t a mess and your head is fine, so just stop with the dramatics,” Tawiah said, rolling her eyes.
This is what Drew appreciated about Tawiah. She was a no-nonsense person, very direct and unapologetic.
Drew sat up straight and took a deep breath. She was in a crisis and she had the best person with her.
“Okay, okay, help me think through this. I haven’t shared a lot with you, so here goes. Hans and I spoke Saturday night and we planned a vacation, just the two of us, to Maldives. Huge step for us.”
Tawiah nodded, “Wow, Maldives, your dream vacation.”
“Yeah, it’s what I’ve always wanted, to go there with someone special. And then Nik, gosh, Nik shows up here Sunday morning with my mom, asking for a second chance, for us to be a family. And it’s appealing, you know. And then you! You show up with Hans. Tell me all that isn’t a mess.”
“It’s not pretty, but it’s not a mess. Listen, I’m not going to coddle you on this, not one bit. You and Hans, it’s cute and all, sweet even, but it’s like a fairytale, a fantasy. You and Nik, it’s something different. It’s real, substantive, you had a relationship, you’ve known each other for over 20 years, you have a child together. If you don’t give that a chance, to actually be a family, I think you’ll always regret it, you’ll always wonder, what if?”
Drew sighed, but stayed silent. Tawiah continued talking.
“I know the thought of trying with Nik is scary and risky, but good things usually are, they’re never easy. I don’t mean to rub it in, but you’re also 40! If you were younger, you could take a chance on Hans, date him for two years and see where it goes. That’s what being with Hans would mean, you would be dating, seeing where it goes, and do you really have the time for that right now? I know I’m the one who brought Hans here, but I didn’t know Nik wanted back in, and I thought Hans could be fun, a fling.”
Drew nodded, listening, processing but still stayed silent. She knew Tawiah had more to say.
“Plus, you haven’t even slept with Hans! What if sex with Hans is bad?! Can he handle you? Can he handle all this curvy, African goodness? Nik is Nigerian, my sister, handling you is in his blood!”
Drew giggled and playfully smacked Tawiah. Both of them started laughing hysterically.
“You’re crazy, you know that? Bonafide. Ugh, I feel like I’m on the Bachelor and I’m trying to figure out who to give my final rose to,” Drew said pensively, once the laughter subsided.
“Then listen to me. I’ve known you forever. We are sisters. I’m 100% Team Money / Team Baby Daddy! That is the same thing you will hear from any of your friends! We are tired oh, the hustling is too real, we need a bit of pampering and I know your circle will also be blessed by Nik,” Tawiah said, between fits of laughter.
“Wow, you’re truly nuts. This can’t be about money. I have my daughter to think of.”
“Then choose her father. I may seem like I’m joking and playing, but we’re too grown for jokes. You and me, we’re too grown. Life isn’t perfect, my marriage isn’t perfect, but every day I am thankful that I am going through life with the father of my children. Not a lot of people get to have that. No matter how hard it can be to live with a man, there’s a certain level of gratitude when the idiot you’re living with is the actual father of your kids. I don’t know, it just makes tolerating his nonsense a little easier. Do you really want to deal with two idiots forever? Because trust me, they’ll both be idiots!”
Tawiah burst out laughing again but Drew didn’t join her. Right there in that moment, she was decided. She smiled, as a certain calm and peace engulfed her. It swept through her very insides. She was actually decided, no half-measures, no second-guessing, she just knew.
“Thanks Tawiah, I appreciate you, as always. I need you to give me a moment with my two idiots okay. But I need a favor before you go, just be discreet about it.”
“Anything for you, I’ve got your back.”
Drew hugged her friend tight, discussed the favor with her and then disappeared into her bathroom. Her head was still throbbing but she felt fine. It was time for some pampering.
Drew took a long hot shower and then washed her thick hair. She hadn’t washed it in almost two weeks. She took her time preparing her whole body – she moisturized her hair, pulled it back into a ponytail, to avoid dealing with distracting curls; she creamed every inch of her body, used her most expensive body spray and then selected her favorite lace underwear. The last thing she put on was her maxi Victoria’s Secret dress, the one that perfectly accentuated every single curve. She wore no makeup, and no jewelry, again to avoid distracting entanglements.
By the time she was done, over an hour had passed and it was time.
Drew stepped into her living room, decisive but also somewhat nervous. Hans was the only one there, looking awkward and uncomfortable in her sofa.
“Hi,” she said softly.
He stood up quickly and stared at her. He started to speak but she interrupted him.
“Hans, wait, I need to go talk to Nik. I’ll come back and talk to you okay?”
He didn’t look happy but he nodded.
“Any idea where he is?” she asked.
“I don’t know. He was here before, and then he wasn’t.”
Hans sounded upset, she could tell, but it wasn’t something she could deal with at that moment.
“Okay. I’m sorry I asked. I’ll find him. I’ll be back.”
She walked out to the porch and down to the garden. Nik and Ama were right there in the garden, on a picnic blanket. Ama’s easel was set up, her paints and colors all over the place and she was drawing something. Drew’s heart stilled when she saw what the picture was. There were three stick figures on the sketch paper; two adults with a child in the middle. Underneath the child, Ama had written Me; underneath the female figure with the big hair was the word Momie, and underneath the male figure was the name Nik. Drew wondered if Nik had put Ama up to this.
“Hey baby,” Drew called out cheerfully to her daughter.
Ama scrambled up from the blanket and jumped into her mother’s arms. Drew hugged her tight.
“Are you okay, Mommie? Did you hit your head?”
Ama touched her mother’s head gingerly. Drew kissed her daughter on the cheek.
“I’m fine, baby. Mommie’s really strong, you know that.”
Ama giggled, “But you’re not as strong as Elsa!”
Drew laughed, “Nope, Elsa has me beat. Baby, listen, I need to talk to Uncle Nik for a little bit okay. Aku is in the kitchen, why don’t you go help her make some cupcakes okay?”
“Yay! Cupcakes! Can I use the pink icing?”
“Of course! Any color icing you want okay?”
Drew lowered Ama back down and watched as she raced through the garden, up the stairs and into the house. She took a deep breath and sat down on the blanket next to Nik.
“Did you put her up to this?” she asked him, pointing to the drawing.
“Not exactly. She drew the two of you first and she asked if she could add me and I said sure.”
Drew stared long and hard at him. Nik was an incredibly beautiful man. It was all in his dark eyes, his gaze just pierced your soul. He could look at you and everything you felt and thought just disappeared. It was his superpower.
“I need to say something to you and I need you to just listen and let me get through it,” she said, holding his gaze.
“I’ve been angry and mad at you for a very long time. You abandoned us. You were selfish, completely selfish. You walked away without even taking a chance to get to know your own child. It wasn’t even about me, I was pregnant. If you don’t want to be with me, don’t be with me, but I was carrying your child. You were completely selfish. But you know what? It didn’t start five years ago. I’ve known you for 21 years. That’s a whole lifetime. I met you when I was 19. I’ve known you more than half my life. 21 years is a really long time, and what exactly have you done with the 21 years you’ve known me? You’ve been flaky, noncommittal and completely selfish the entire time. I am not looking at just the last five years, or ten years, I am looking at 21 years! That’s your true resume, the past 21 years, not what happened five years ago when I called you and told you that I was pregnant.”
She paused and looked away from him to still her beating heart. Staring at him and doing this was not easy. She turned back towards him.
“I can’t give you another chance, not with me. I just can’t. And I don’t think I am going to regret it. I don’t have another minute to give to you to add to the 21 years you had and misused. I just don’t have another minute for you. But, I am going to give you a chance with Amaya. And this is how it’s going to go. You’re going to stay here for a week, you’ll be in the guest house. You’re going to be her parent during that week. I will draw up a schedule for you, I will walk you through her day, her life, her needs, her everything. And during that week, you will just be Uncle Nik. If at the end of the week, you are still sure you want to be a parent, then we’ll draw up the paperwork. Yeah, paperwork, we are going to do this the right way. For now, Amaya and I are based here in Ghana, so we will discuss and determine visitation and access for you, but regardless of where we live, if this is really what you want, you will have access to your daughter. But first, you will have to agree to the following terms which will be built into a contract. Four things: first, if you die, she gets at least half of everything you own; secondly, if you abscond, you abandon her at any point, you disappear, there will be a penalty of 25% of your income paid to her immediately, we’ll set up an account in her name.”
“Fuck, Drew, what the heck?”
“I’m not done. Let me finish. Third, you will set up a trust for her that will disburse an allowance to her every month starting from her 18th birthday. Fourth, you will make child support payments to me for her upkeep, covering the past five years, and continuing from this moment until she turns 18. This is what you need to clearly understand, if you take me to court, you will get visitation, no doubt, but if I also take you to court, I will get child support payments and a whole lot more. I’m done with you, but I’m not going to let you waste my daughter’s life for the next 21 years. If you want to be part of her life, these are my terms.”
“Drew, I came here and I told you that I loved you! What the heck is all this? Do you really think I won’t take care of my daughter?”
“I don’t trust you and I need to protect my daughter. That’s all. I’m not going to let you float in and out, and let this happen your way and on your terms as it’s been with me. That ends today. If you hurt my daughter, it’s going to cost you, and it’s going to cost you what you love most, money. You gave her up five years ago because you wanted to make money. Now you need to put that money on the line if you want to be with her.”
Nik swore under his breath.
“Is this because of him? That guy in there? Is that what this is about? I thought we were on the same page last night.”
“You thought wrong. Hans has nothing to do with this. These are my terms Nik! You stay here for a week and we come to terms by Sunday or you can get up and walk out of my house right now. Enough is enough.”
Nik got up from the blanket and Drew followed, her hands on her hips. He kept pacing, cursing and running his hands through his hair. She waited patiently. Finally, he calmed down.
“I came here in good faith, Drew, this is nuts.”
“These are my terms. You can walk out and we let the chips fall where they may, or you stay, get to know your daughter and we use the time this week to finalize the paperwork. But these are my terms and they will not change, not today, not in a week.”
“Fine, I’ll stay. I’ll prove to you that I have changed and I am here for good.”
“I really don’t give a damn about your words right now. You can go get your daughter and finish your drawing.”
Drew walked away from him and didn’t look back. She hurried up the stairs and into the living room. Hans was exactly where she left him. She stretched out her hand to him and he got up and quickly took it. She led him down the corridor to her bedroom. She closed the door behind them and locked it. She didn’t realize she was shaking until he pulled her into a hug and held her tight. Her body was trembling.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay, it’s okay,” he whispered over and over.
After a few minutes she stepped back from him and sat down in the sofa nestled against her large bay windows. He sat down next to her, holding her hand.
“It’s been a rough two days,” she muttered.
“Yeah, I can imagine,” he said smiling.
“And I’m sorry if I’ve added to your stress in any way, I’m really sorry,” he added.
Drew shook her head.
“No, I’m actually glad you’re here. It’s so good to see you.”
She touched his face gingerly. Hans leaned close and kissed her. Drew kissed him back. It was their first kiss, ever, after 10 years of friendship. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he pulled her close and tight. He was a beautiful kisser, it was as if his lips and tongue were speaking to her soul. He was sensual, taking his time, touching her softly. After a while, he pulled back and then hugged her close, breathing heavily. He kissed her cheek repeatedly, as Drew lay in his arms.
“We should talk,” she murmured.
Hans laughed, “Oh, oh, that’s never good.”
“Listen, it’s been a long weekend, so I’m going to be straight with you. I like you, Hans, I really, really like you. And if we were younger, I’d give you time to figure things out but we’re not young, so I do need to know how you feel.”
Hans sat back in the sofa but maintained his hold of her hand.
“I really like you too, I always have. You were caught up with Nik and there was no room for me, so I tried to move on. But this year, when I got sick, how you reached out, it made me feel like there could be something more. And I do want to see where it could go.”
“I need a little bit more, Hans, and I don’t mean to pressure you but, how do you really feel about marriage and kids?”
“Like I said before, it’s what I want, but I can’t say I’d be ready to walk down the aisle next week, Drew. I want to get to know you, I want to get to know your daughter, your family, and figure this out. But I do really like you.”
Drew closed her eyes and tried to reconnect with the decisive calm she felt earlier in the morning. She wanted so much more from Hans!
She felt him touch her face.
“I think you’re the most incredible person I have ever met. You’re so beautiful, so intelligent, hardworking, driven, compassionate, loving, kind, you’d do anything for the people you love and that’s probably the best thing about you. You’ve built a beautiful life, and I want to be part of your life, your whole life, but to do that I need to get to know you and your life. I know we don’t have all the time in the world, and your age seems to be gnawing at you, but I want to be really honest with you. I can’t tell you that I will be ready to walk down the aisle with you next month, or next two months. I can tell you, with all honesty, right now, that I want to be part of your life, I want to give this a go. I know we need to figure a lot of things out. I live in Germany, and you live here with your daughter, so that’s something to talk about. And Nik, I don’t even know what your conversation down there was about, but it worries me. He has such a hold on you and it does worry me, that I could give you my all, and you might just go back to him,” he said. She could hear and feel his sincerity.
“He wants me back. He wants to be a family.”
Hans sucked in his breath.
“Wow. Okay. Uhhh, yeah, Drew, wow. Sorry, I’m just stunned right now. He’s here, the love of your life is here, and he wants you back, and he’s also the father of your child, and all you’ve ever wanted is a family. Wow. That’s what I’m up against? This sucks.”
Drew nodded, “Yeah, it does suck, but I don’t want him, I’m not going back to him, I never will. But he will have access to his daughter.”
“So he’s going to be in your lives forever.”
“Yes, he will be in our lives forever. Is that a problem, Hans?”
“I don’t know. To be honest, I would prefer it if Nik just never showed up, but the issue isn’t with Nik, I’m worried that you might still be in love with him. I’m worried that even if you let me into your life, you would always be comparing, wondering if it would be best to just go be a family with him. I don’t know if it’s possible to compete with what you had, with the fact that you have a child together,” his voice was breaking.
Hans was never this emotional with her. She run her fingers through his hair and released his long mane from his ponytail. He looked so vulnerable and sincere. This wasn’t easy.
“This isn’t a pretty situation. He will be in our lives forever, yes, but I want you in mine. I want you, Hans. And I know you will have fears, about whether or not I’ll go back to him, I know that will weigh on you. I don’t expect that I can just snap a finger, say some words and poof, your fears just disappear. I know it doesn’t work like that. But we will work through it, because I choose you, and I am 100% certain that I want to be with you. I will do my best to reassure you, but I also need you to try really hard to trust me, be confident in us, if this is what you want. And if you want to walk away right now, save yourself the headache of potential heartbreak down the line, you can leave, I won’t hold it against you.”
He stared straight into her eyes. It was as if he was trying to get further confirmation of her assurances. She couldn’t tell if he got what he needed from her eyes or her words, he simply leaned in and kissed her again. As the kiss deepened, he lifted her up from besides him and onto his lap, lifting her dress up her thighs as he did so. He leaned back against the sofa as she pressed down against him, kissing him deeply. His hands roamed her thighs and he lifted her dress up further, right up to her waist, revealing her black lace panties. Drew decided to finish what he had started. She lifted her dress up and off. She sat back into his lap, staring at him, watching his eyes as he took in her body, all her curves and folds on display.
Then he lifted her up and carried her over to the bed, laying her gently down. He stood up, staring at her as she lay there. Then he smiled.
“Wow, you’re beautiful, really beautiful.”
She grinned, she felt absolutely beautiful. He looked around, checking to see if her drapes were closed well enough. They were. She’d clearly prepared her room for this.
Hans took off his t-shirt, and then his track bottoms and boxers quickly followed. He was lithe, no six-pack and bulging biceps but he was still firm, and he was ready. He didn’t seem shy to be standing in front of her fully naked, letting her eyes roam his body. She was grateful for that. She didn’t have time to deal with anyone with a fragile sense of self. His confidence made her even more giddy.
He climbed on top of her and started kissing her all over, taking off her bra and panties in the process. His kisses ignited fire within and she welcomed him as he pried her legs open, burying his face into her softness. Drew realized she was being noisy, and she hoped that Ama and Nik were still in the garden because she could not stop now. Hans was driving her mad. She made a mental note to tell Tawiah that no Nigerian lips could ever beat Hans’ lips! It was the only comparison she allowed herself to have. She dug her hands firmly in his hair as her body quivered beneath him. She didn’t last very long, and she kept calling out his name desperately as she came. His face was still buried in her, lapping it all up. When her body stilled, he got up and picked up his track bottoms. He pulled out his wallet and took out a condom. He looked at her, seeking confirmation. She nodded in agreement. He ripped it open and held it for a few moments, then he put it aside. He lay on top of her and looked at her.
“We’re both 40, we probably shouldn’t be wasting any sperms right?”
Drew sucked in her breath, she felt tears forming.
“Are you sure?” she whispered.
He nodded,” And I haven’t been with anyone in over a year and I get tested every year so I’m safe.”
“And I haven’t been with anyone in three years, and I get tested every 6 months.”
“Gosh, you’re such an over-achiever,” he said kissing her neck.
Drew laughed, and pulled him in for a proper kiss, as her hands sought him out down below and she massaged him. Hans lay on his back as she worked him steadily, alternating him between her hands and her lips. When he couldn’t take it anymore, he put her back on her back and entered her.
In that moment, the stress of the past weekend just disappeared for Drew. She took him in and kept him there and gave him all control as he took his time with her, moving slowly but purposefully. She held onto him tight, rubbing his back and his butt, drawing him in deeper. She was on the verge again but she wanted to hold off, give him his moment, but she just couldn’t. The way he moved, he was just hitting all the right spots.
“I love you, I love you, I love you!” she cried as she came again. She lost all control, and her legs trembled as she spazzed.
As her insides clenched around him repeatedly, he didn’t last much longer after that. His groans were like music to her ears and she held onto him tightly, holding him close as they both tried to catch their breaths. He pulled out from her slowly, but he held onto her body, pulling her into a cuddle. They lay there for a while, enjoying the moment, reliving the deed.
“I’m a bad mother,” Drew said quietly.
“I’ve never done this, with Ama in the house, and I think I was loud.”
Hans chuckled, “Yeah, you were rather loud. She’s probably in the kitchen or the garden right? Plus, your housekeeper seems pretty astute. You pulled me in here and locked the door. I’m sure she knows what’s up, she has your back.”
Drew laughed and turned around in his arms to face him.
He kissed her forehead and smiled down at her.
“I realize I never quite answered you. I’m all in, Drew, so what’s up? What happens now?” he asked.
“I’d like you to stay the week, longer if you want, be here with me and Ama, and yes, Nik will be staying too but he’ll be in the guest house and you’ll be in here with me.”
“Wow, you want to have your boyfriend and your baby daddy with you under the same roof? You are a bad ass girl.”
Drew smiled, “You better believe it!”
He kissed her softly and then lay back, staring at her ceiling.
“Hey wait, where’s Tawiah? I have my stuff in her car and I actually haven’t seen my bags at all.”
“Your stuff’s in my closet. I asked her to put them there.”
“That’s pretty presumptuous and bold of you,” he said teasingly.
“Yeah well, I figured you would at least want to get some before you run for the hills. You wouldn’t fly all the way to Ghana without getting any of this. You’re a man, babe,” she said as she wiggled her body towards him.
Hans laughed, “You think you know me huh.”
“Not really, but I look forward to it.”
“Me too,” he whispered, kissing her again.
“Okay, I could stay in this bed with you forever, but there’s one last conversation I need to have. Meet me out front in about 10 minutes.”
She scrambled out of bed and started putting on her clothes. Once she was decently dressed, she washed her hands, rinsed her mouth, brushed her hair again and then scurried off.
Ama was back at her easel with Nik. She was laughing and talking excitedly. Drew was surprised, she had to give Nik some credit. That’s a lot of time to spend with a four-year-old.
“Hey Ama!” Drew called out.
Ama jumped up, always excited to hear her mother’s voice. Drew sat down on the porch stairs as Ama came barreling into her arms.
“Wow, you’re really fast now,” she said, kissing her daughter’s face.
“I’ve been practicing. Even Auntie Aku can’t catch me now!”
“But be careful every time you run, or you might hurt yourself.”
Ama nodded obediently. Drew pulled her onto her lap.
“I want to talk to you for a little bit okay?”
Ama nodded again. Drew could feel Nik’s eyes on them so she turned away slightly.
“We have some house guests with us. You’ve met Uncle Nik. He’s here to visit with you, and play with you, and help me take care of you. Then there’s Uncle Hans.”
“I’ve met him too! He’s really tall! And he gave me a high five!”
Drew smiled, “Yes, he is very tall. Uncle Hans is Mommie’s special friend and he’s here to see Mommie, but he’ll also spend some time with you.”
“So we have two friends staying with us? Forever? Please Mommie, forever?”
“We’ll have to see. Are you okay, sweetie? Do you want to ask me anything?”
“Can we have a big slumber party? In the living room? We can all watch Onward and Frozen and eat cupcakes and… and popcorn! Please Mommie?”
“Of course, baby, we can have a slumber party, maybe tomorrow night.”
Ama jumped up from her mother’s arms, hopping up and down.
“Yay! Oh wait, I’m gonna do something for you. Just wait here, I’ll be right back.”
Drew watched fondly as Ama run back to her easel. She sat down and went back to sketching. Drew’s gaze drifted to the ocean in front of her. She was happy. She didn’t think it was possible to get to this point when she saw Nik yesterday, when Hans showed up this morning, but here she was, actually happy. She didn’t really care if any of this lasted or not, she was determined to enjoy the moment. She felt comfortable and confident about her decisions and even if Hans and Nik disappeared at the end of the week or even next year, she was content. She had Ama, and if she wanted more kids, there were ways to get that, on her own.
“Here you go, Mommie! Look at my picture now!”
Drew didn’t even realize Ama was back, waving her sketch in her face. She took it from her carefully and looked at it. Tears welled in her eyes and she allowed a few to drop. Ama had added in Hans, right next to her mother, holding her hand, and Hans was even taller than Nik.
Drew hugged her daughter tight, trying not to cry, she didn’t want Ama to think she was sad.
“Thank you baby,” she whispered.
“You’re welcome!” Ama sang and then she run off again.
A few minutes later, Hans sat down on the porch next to her. She showed him Ama’s picture. He looked at it quietly and then he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and kissed the side of her face.
“I love you Drew, now and forever,” he whispered softly.
Drew closed her eyes. This was perfect, absolutely perfect!