Morgan parked his car behind the car that had taken his spot. He exchanged pleasantries with the old man who explained that his wife parked her car there too and she was such a fine woman.
He didn’t correct the man, if he did, it would take too long to explain and he was eager to get this over with. He strode confidently through the bush track, feeling good about his healed leg enough to whistle. But his mouth poised, extended to blow a whistle but no sound came forth.
With mouth agape, he stared at his house in consternation. When Uncle Ebong had said that Alero had done minor renovations to his house, he hadn’t been expecting a total overhaul.
The whole building had been painted a dim ash color, it gave the house new life but it also wasn’t loud; it was exactly the color he would have chosen. The eaves of the roof were painted black, giving it an outstanding contrast that left Morg wondering what the inside would look like.
He was aware of Abel’s money and he closed his mouth and decided that he was going to return everything she had spent. He wasn’t a poor man, with the money he’d received from King and the investments he’d made, he could completely buy the house from the owner now, when the rent expired.
Shaking himself from his stupor, he approached the heavy iron door and knocked. He’d been reliably informed that she would be home, but after several knocks with no reply, Morg had stepped back impatiently and looked up, trying to fathom if she was home.
A prickle of unease crossed his mind but he suppressed it, she obviously wasn’t home, nothing could happen to her. But he was the owner of the house anyway and he knew how to get into his house without necessarily using the front door.
Retracing his steps, he went to the tank stand and climbed, smiling all the way up because he felt no pain at his action. Morg had come to expect the pain that accompanied walking, but his exercises had paid off and he was completely healed, according to the several X-rays he’d done and, of course, the lack of pain.
He sauntered across the plank and made the veranda without the rails, he could vividly recall the night they’d escaped King’s men. Shaking off the memory, he swiped out the key to the door that had been in his possession the whole while, and inserted it…he was going to wait for Alero to return.
Alero woke with a start. She grimaced as she wiped the dribble from the corner of her mouth; pregnancy was turning her into such a slob, sometimes she hated herself.
Today was definitely not a good day.
There were days she woke with so much energy, she could carry out a lot of house work without fatigue. And then there were days like today where Ruth had to wake her up, fatigue became her close pal.
With a small groan, she turned from her left side to her back and stared at the ceiling, her eyes struggling to stay open. Despite the fact that she was totally consumed my inertia, she knew she had to get up and prepare Ruth’s lunch, or else she was going to feed on fast food again.
The thought held credit in her tired mind, but she didn’t want her daughter to get used to junk food, so she turned to her right side and pushed herself up from the bed.
Her swollen feet blindly searched for her slipper, then she yawned and recognized the pang in her stomach as hunger. Mentally, she reconnoitered what she had in the fridge, basically fruits, because she was determined to eat healthy. But the hunger was quite persistent even though she’d had breakfast, so she struggled up and went to the kitchen.
Morg had just softly shut the door behind him when a very, very pregnant woman emerged from his room and waddled towards his kitchen. He had just been admiring the simple furniture that had turned his formerly empty sitting room area into a comfortable family room when she’d passed.
Her stomach looked like it was about to explode, it was so big he had the instant urge to help her with it, if such a thing was possible. But why was there a pregnant woman in his house; was she Alero’s friend? And why had she not come down to open the door for him when he’d knocked?
Morg remained in the dim alcove to observe her when she waddled back to the sitting room, munching, rather vigorously on an apple. He stared at her fat legs as the hem of her short gown raised up when she bent over a couch to grab her bag.
His instinct receptors were ablaze; goose bumps spread alarmingly over his whole back and both sides of his neck twitched inexorably. Only Alero caused this kind of reaction in him, he looked closer, almost exposing himself in his aim…
She was intensely looking for something in her bag and she groaned in frustration when she couldn’t find it. Pushing the remaining piece of apple into her mouth, she turned from the back of the couch and impatiently overturned its content on the floor.
Morg had to lean on the wall to steady his suddenly weak legs. He stared at Alero as she awkwardly knelt down, her right palm placed under her enormous stomach to support the weight. With his mouth open, he watched her sift through the surprisingly diverse colors of cellophane in her bag, she seemed close to tears in her frustration.
Without much thought, and quite naturally, he rushed to her aid. “What are you looking for?” he asked with a catch in his throat; it had suddenly become very dry and scratchy.
Alero screamed, but it came out as a terrified croak and she tried to shift from the unexpected but approaching stranger. Her heart beat accelerated at an alarming rate, she had to pant through her mouth.
“Morgan…” she expelled in obvious relief and slumped weakly against the back of the couch.
He stared at her for a second, worked the log stuck in his throat and managed to speak, “You were…what were you looking for?”
“How did you get in?” she asked in awe, her heart beat still on acceleration but not in fright.
“I used that door…” he stammered and pointed at it. For once Morg felt like a child, he was uncertain and out of his league and basically speechless.
“Oh, okay. You kind of startled me,” Alero said flashing him an engaging smile, she really liked the fact that he was looking unsettled and shocked and confused.
“Could you help me up?” she asked, widening her eyes innocently. She could have struggled up on her own, but on second thought, his virility had caused her to be in this state, not that she was complaining, she just wanted to feel a man’s hands on her body…Morgan’s hands on her body; it had been so long, not long as her prison sentence though, but the pregnancy had been quite lonely despite the presence of her friends.
“Of course,” he exclaimed and jerked into action, hurrying to her side and tenderly lifting her to her feet.
Alero had expected that he’d let go and she had been bracing herself for the pain that would invariably shoot through her heart, but he didn’t. His hands lingered, he actually looked reluctant to let her go, he led her into his room and made sure she was seated before reluctantly pulling off his hands.
“What were you looking for?” he asked again and settled down beside her, so close she could feel the warmth of his breath on her neck.
“Chips, plantain chips; I find that I have these yearnings for it. So, I’d bought it but can’t find it,” Alero couldn’t believe she was actually pouting. She had never done such a thing in her life, but Morgan seemed to bring out the childishness in her.
He smiled so adoringly that her heart ached at the sight of it. “I thought it was life threatening because you’d looked almost close to tears.”
“I am hungry,” she replied matter-of-factly, concisely communicating the seriousness of the situation.
Morg chuckled and as though he couldn’t help himself, he reached up and caressed her cheek with the back of his hand. Alero gasped at the curiously tender move and before her senses could remold and make a sentence, he’d moved from the room.
It took him less than a minute to find the elusive cellophane and return, handing it over with a slight smile. Then his eyes clouded over at the reality that he’d missed, yet again, another epoch making event with Alero.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked, showing his pain and regret.
“You refused to listen,” she replied without compunction, crunching loudly on circular slices of crisp plantain chips.
“Alero…” it was a warning, he knew that she knew what he meant. She would and could have forced the issue, but hadn’t.
She sighed heavily, “I didn’t want…” and suddenly she was feeling abashed, this was a very serious situation. Alero didn’t know if Morgan was going to accept her because he loved her or if he was going to accept her because of the baby.
One thing was sure, of course, he’d accept her, he was an honorably man; she’d known that of him even when she’d left him at the beginning.
Morgan’s heart was pounding. It was as if he instinctively knew that the day’s decision was solely on his shoulders. He knew what he wanted, he’d known it since and had come to terms with it while he was recuperating.
He loved Alero, had loved her still even when she’d been married. He had never stopped loving her, his mind had only been stubbornly fighting a losing match with his heart.
The problem now was Alero’s hesitation at answering his question, he knew he had to convince her that he was in love with her. He fervently hoped that she’d not stopped loving him.
Their eyes had been holding the whole time, Morgan scooted closer and saw her swallow with some difficulty, he felt a manly sort of satisfaction that she entertained some uncertainty.
He bent his head and nuzzled her neck, he rubbed his nose on her ear, down to her cheek and then softly touched his lips to the side of her mouth.
The touch was as soft as petal and it took her breath away.
“Answer me, pumpkin,” he murmured softly, calling her the loving name he used to when they’d been dating.
Answer him what, Alero thought blankly. With the taking of her breath, her senses had gone too. But deep down she was vaguely conscious of an important issue to be trashed.
“I…” her breath caught when he lightly caressed her giant baby bump.
“Yes?” he prodded, continuing with his tender tortures.
“I didn’t want the presence of the baby to be a deciding factor…” her voice trailed off as his left hand cupped her breast through her bra and kneaded softly.
“I love you, Alero,” he said, pausing in his administrations to close his eyes as though valiantly controlling himself.
When he opened his eyes, it was a full blast of his feelings for her, more intense than she’d ever seen, even when he’d stalked her in the beginning.
“I’m sorry for not saying it over and over again until you believed me…I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you…I loved you then, I love you now and I’ll always love you.”
Silent tears fell from her eyes, of course she recognized the text she’d sent him in her desperation when he wouldn’t talk to her. Even if his voice hadn’t sounded so sincere and pure, the thunderous surge of emotion, causing an avalanche of love from all corners of her bruised heart, was conviction enough that he loved her.
“Oh, Morgan,” she cried, finally vocalizing her tears and throwing her hands about his neck to hug him. The hard stomach between them could have been a barrier, but nothing physically or elemental could come in between their love at this point.
With hands that trembled with emotion, he bent his head to her protruding belly and placed it there, savoring the warmth of it. Emotion welled and clogged in his throat as he thought of the miracle growing in there, a miracle like Ruth…that they’d created.
“I’m sorry baby, sorry that daddy wasn’t around to love you from the onset. Daddy had wanted to be whole again for mommy, so he’d stupidly stayed away,” Morgan whispered to his unborn child while Alero heaved continually.
“You can’t use words like stupidly around the children,” she reprimanded while wiping her tears.
Morgan chuckled and climbed the bed, pulling her tenderly, her back to his front, so that his hand could freely caress her belly.
“You haven’t said any…”
“I love you, Morgan, with all my heart.”
“I love all of you and our children. And I love that I’d have to impregnate you again to experience this phenomenon from the beginning, I always seem to miss it,” he growled sensually close to her ears.
“Hmm, I like the sound of that…”
“And we should do a small ceremony before the baby is born.”
“Okay, wait a minute! I can’t marry you looking like I swallowed a drum!” she sounded appalled and turned to face him, albeit awkwardly and clumsily.
He was smiling at her and his eyes communicated how much he loved her. “You’re beautiful to me…the most beautiful in the whole world, and that’s all that matters,” he leaned down and kissed her and her eyes fluttered shut in ecstasy.
She wondered silently how he could evoke such powerful emotions from the deepest part of her heart with just simple words and actions.
Alero was basking in the throes of sensual enjoyment, after such a long time, she almost purred like a cat at Morgan’s strokes, when her eyes flew open.
“Oh God, I have to go pick Ruth,” she recalled in alarm.
“No. Correction, babe, we have to go pick Ruth. We’re together now and forever.”
Morgan promised this and sealed it with a fervent kiss. He could feel the reverberations of the promise in his soul as it synced with hers. He was finally home, the raw emptiness in his heart was entirely filled and sealed.
Yes, Alero silently answered the first question that had entered her mind that morning…
Today was the best of days!
I wish to thank all of you readers for your comments and likes and for following the Duct Series closely. I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Might there be a Duct4…I don’t know, let’s keep our collective fingers crossed.
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