I didn’t father Jane. But more to the point…They were looking at me. Delcie seemed flustered, Charles inquisitive, and Mary, a poker face.
I had blamed Delcie for not been able to have any more children after Angelique was born, but it had been a charade on my part. I’d buried it all these years, hoping the truth would never be known. But Jane’s paternity test opened it up again.
‘I couldn’t have,’ I said. I wiped a hand across my face to brush away the tears. ‘I was bloody sterile. A sodding Jaffa.’
Nobody said a word. If their thoughts were the same as mine, they’d have Angelique on their minds.
‘Delcie,’ I said, my gaze avoiding eye contact. ‘Answer me. Is Angelique my daughter?’
Another silence. I felt my chest heave with anxiety. Then her voice.
‘You’ve always been her father, Richard. We both know that. She idolised you like no other.’
‘Remember your tests. A check-up when Jamie was diagnosed with cancer. You had a low sperm count. Same diagnosis as Jamie. Nothing more, nothing less.’
‘We were blessed with Angelique. A miracle, my gynaecologist said.’
I broke down. Sobbed away decades of guilt, deceit, and unhappiness. Delcie came over and comforted me.
‘I’m sorry,’ she said, wiping my face with tissues. ‘Really sorry.’
‘Can we go home?’ I said. ‘I want to see Eko.’
‘I’ll accompany you back,’ said Charles. ‘Now I’m in the clear, we can leave Delcie to sort out the details.’
‘We haven’t eaten, Delcie said. ‘And I’m starving.’
So much for her caring. I got up. Stretched, and yawned. ‘Look, you two go out for a meal, I’m not up to much right now.’
And that was that.
I didn’t say goodbye to Mary, and she avoided eye-contact when I walked out. Strangely enough, I felt like a man released from prison after being locked-up for years. There was a spring in my step — no dengue after-effects — and my tears had dried. Now to be reunited with Eko and my life back on track.
It was drizzling outside and not a taxi in sight. Not that I minded. I walked a couple of blocks, singing to myself, it’s over — it’s over — it’s over. Roy Orbison would have been impressed by my high falsetto command, although to the locals I passed they must have thought I’d gone loopy.
At a roundabout I hailed a taxi and tipped the driver a bundle of rupiahs when he dropped me off at the House and I saw Eko bounding out to greet me. I was just as happy and relieved to see him.
Inside, he’d made tea, and I sipped a cup while we caught up. A mixture of misunderstandings, intrigue, and finally a game of cricket.
I laughed. ‘So Charles taught you to play?’
Eko nodded. ‘Said I must cut grass. Finish tomorrow.’
A thought struck me. ‘Can you cook?’ I said. ‘Madam likes hot food at breakfast.’
And lunch. And dinner.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Chef teach me at resort. And market sell food. No problem.’
From the look on his face, he wanted to say more. ‘And..?’ I said.
‘Mr. Richard. Need scooter for shopping.’
‘I’ll talk to Mr. Charles.’
‘Talk already. He say okay.’
Did he now?
‘Wait until tomorrow,’ I said. ‘We’ll discuss everything together with Madam. Okay?’
‘Yes,’ he said.
‘And now I need sleep. So do you. Let me show you a room.’ He looked at me. I shook my head. ‘Your room, not mine. Sleep on your own. And wake for morning prayers. Okay?’
He nodded. ‘Thank you Mr. Richard. I like it here.’
I embraced him. ‘That’s good.’
That night I slept well.