IT had been four long days since Abby’s arrest. Yet Emma hadn’t got the nerves to reopen her stores. Nor had she even considered visiting the frenemy.
The reserved soul stayed quiet and still in Jerry’s place, frightened like a mouse in a hunted hole. And she wouldn’t even go back to her own apartment in Churchill.
Although Emma knew her friends’ conspiracies were quite done with, she still feared that either of them might show up in her supermarket anytime. Probably to try setting her up afresh.
It was the fourth day since Abby had been put in detention. But Emma needed a bigger assurance that everything would be all right now.
It was about 5 in the evening today, and the day was soon dusking. Emma’s boyfriend returned home from his workplace. Jerry Morel was a banker at a modest community bank in town.
Jerry found Emma crouched into a couch in the living room, deeply engrossed in a racing game on her phone. And so deeply engrossed was Emma that she hardly noticed Jerry’s arrival.
The 27-year-old banker knew his girlfriend too well. Emma could die for games, but not the car race. And if his girl was this engrossed in the racing game on her phone, he knew it is because Emma still wished to run far away from reality.
Jerry spoke up after a while. ‘I got a CCTV installed in and out of your store today.’
Emma jolted up from her seat right then. She was shocked at Jerry’s sudden voice. ‘When… when did you arrive?!’ she stammered.
Jerry dropped his handbag on a stool and sunk tiredly in an armchair. ‘Just now baby, just now!’ he exhaled, loosing up his necktie.
Emma went over to him now. ‘Don’t worry I’m okay,’ she whispered quietly.
Jerry brightened up with a big laugh. ‘Of course you are, Emma!’ he teased hard. ‘Who wouldn’t know you’re okay?’
But his girlfriend only spanked him small. ‘C’mon, don’t be like that,’ she said, and sat next to him over the arm rest.
Jerry looked up at her. ‘I stopped by at your store today during lunchbreak,’ he explained. ‘And I got a company install security cameras there for you. I took your keys before I headed out to work this morning…’
Emma looked at him with grateful eyes, clasping her hands over his.
Jerry finished his words. ‘So you’re safer than safe now, baby girl! You don’t need to fear Abby or Prisca coming there behind you.’
‘Aw thank you so much Big J!’ Emma whispered, leaning down against him and hugging him in a close snug. ‘That’s why you’re mine forever, my Big J! That’s why you’re mine forever!’ she cooed.
Jerry only loosened himself from Emma’s doting clasp and stood up. ‘I’ll go freshen up,’ he said and headed inside.
And as the young man turned out of the living room, he added an afterthought. ‘I want us to take a walk down the street after. Let’s get some fresh air.’
Emma knew right then that Jerry had got a lot in his belly. But what it is that Jerry wanted to tell her was what Emma wasn’t quite sure about.
Emma couldn’t tell whether it was about the case of her friend’s betrayal. Or whether it was something about them that was getting her man quite agitated.
The cute pair had been walking this rose littered path together. And since their paths crossed at the University of Seychelles years earlier.
Yet Emma was the less sensitive one to her partner’s unspoken burden, in the long years of being together.
And it was this peculiar bother Jerry was ready to spit out exactly as it was.
◙ ◙ ◙
Jerry and Emma gently strode down the walkway that ran down the quiet estate community.
The sun was setting with the most beautiful hues of twilight, across the western skies ahead. And the lovely two chattered about how their long day went.
But the neighborhood streets were now bustling with people retuning from work, and the couple could barely get as much serenity as what they needed for a talk.
Yet Jerry needed to pour out his mind before they would head back. So he suggested they head over to the neighborhood park. The two turned at the next crossroad, and their walk was a gentler stroll.
Jerry decided to start talking already.
‘Emma,’ he called and paused a moment.
‘Must you really get a big break in your business before we get married?’ he queried. ‘Must we wed only when your business blooms? Uh?’
Emma looked up Jerry. She wanted to talk along the lines of her usual replies now, but Jerry’s eyes sparked some frantic flashes of agitation.
And she knew her perfect gentleman was on the verge of flaming up.
But Emma wanted her stand registered still. She attempted. ‘I need to be…’
‘Of course you need to be financially independent, Emma!’ quipped Jerry.
‘How wouldn’t your boyfriend know that? You’ve played that card too many times, Emma… but now you’ve got to listen to me!’
There was a cutting edge in Jerry’s stern voice.
Emma wouldn’t stay quiet now. Her niggling side exploded in a jiffy. And the gentle walk down the park route suddenly took on some quick, fiery paces.
‘Did you say I was simply playing a card, just now?’ retorted Emma. ‘Does it look to you like I’m merely playing some card? That’s how it looks to you… huh…?’
But Jerry warned in a calm threat: ‘I’m not done speaking, Emma…!’
Emma went on regardless.
‘If that is sort of a flimsy card to you, then spit it out already that you are sort of feeling insecure or something? I can’t be financially independent or what? Spit it out already, uh?’
Jerry laughed aloud. ‘Oh goodness!’ he breathed.
Emma cut in right then. ‘Did I sound funny? Am I amusing you? Tell me, tell me! Ugh…!’
Jerry attempted a second time. ‘Emma… if you don’t stop now and listen!’ But Emma wasn’t done yet.
The young woman went on. ‘Gosh I’m totally embarrassed you’re being like this, Jerry! You know I can’t stand men who are easily threatened by their girlfriend’s goal of financial stability!
‘You know I can’t stand men who gets intimated by women’s independence! I can’t stand them and you know!’
Jerry raised a hand for moment’s stillness, as the playground came up in sight. When Emma stopped for some seconds, Jerry spoke a few words. And his words rolled out in a stern, low voice.
‘I’m going back inside now,’ he said. ‘And this time around it’s final!’ he warned.
Emma didn’t hear him for the moment. Nay she heard him, but she didn’t get him. Emma charged on in spite of a piqued Jerry.
‘Take it or leave it, stability is my right as a woman! How can you say I’m playing that card again? How on earth can you? Huh…?!’
Jerry stopped in his tracks right then. He turned around, and headed back home.
Emma charged after him for a while, repeating her angry words. Jerry only pocketed his hands, and he began whistling a blaring jazz tune. He rocked his head to the vibe he was creating in his head.
Emma recognised that tune at the instant. It called back to her mind times when Jerry withdrew into his rock hard shell, and he would obsessively blast some jazz music for endless hours, or even a few days.
Jazz music were only Jerry’s fondest when times were low and lonely. And it was usually Emma’s insensitivity to this same matter that often made Jerry withdraw into the hard shell.
Emma realised now that Jerry was withdrawing again, when she heard that jazz tune. But it didn’t dawn on her that Jerry meant this. Even far more than ever before.
Right then, Emma stopped shouting after Jerry. She turned back and withdrew, too.
For an independent time at the community park here.
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