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Synopsis  Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6

Celeste and family

A Clandestine Affair

“What have so you upset, honey?” Celeste asks John as he throws his cell phone on the table when he walks inside the kitchen. A cold gust accompanying him, and he shuts the door. His face was as gloomy as the Cape weather.

She has a long shift behind her. The day to day running of the hospital never ends and she needs a cup of tea, peace, a long hot bath and then the bed.

The kettle already whistling her favourite song.

The winter’s gloom travails in an ominous song. A door slam shut somewhere in the three-bedroom house and a shiver ran up her spine. She pulls her sweater tighter around her slender frame and steps closer for a kiss, but he sidesteps her.

“Simone, I can’t believe the state she is in. I pay all that money to be at her best and this is how she repays me. By looking like a scarecrow!” John replies, placing a kiss on her cheek.

“But she’s at a ranch.” She tries to redirect his anger, but it was no use. John is on a mission. “Maybe they don’t have the facilities there for her to keep in shape.” She replies and adds another mug next to hers.

“Rubbish, it is America, not the outback. They have the facilities; she does this to annoy me.” he says bitterly.

“Look at the photo he has send me. Then you tell me if I am wrong.” Picks up the device and hands it to her.

Just then, Junior enters the kitchen, through the garage, and drops his heavy schoolbag on the tile floor. His rugby shoes drop to the floor with a clunk. A huge grass stain on his shirt shows he had a rough game. His blond hair is tousled, and a dirt smudge covers the right side of his face.

Celeste places the device upside down on the counter and smiles at her youngest.

“Hello honey.”

“Hi dad. Who are you talking about?”

“No one you will know. How are you?” John senior snide.

“Fine.” He replies and goes straight for the fridge.

“And rugby?” John asks.

“We have a game on Saturday. Can you come?” he asks, his dark gaze turn expectantly at his father.

“No, I am busy.” John replies abruptly and turns his back to him.

“Okay.” Disappointment surges through him as he grabs a cold drink and closes the door with more force than necessary. He is the spitting image of his father. His blond hair was the only trait that resemblance her.

“Whom did you talk about?” he asks again and glares at her, then at John. The arrogant tone is unmistakable, and Celeste knows a fight is on the horizon if she doesn’t put a stop to it. Her son was clever and bright at fourteen years. Though skilled at deflecting the conversations, it becomes harder with each year.

“Just a woman your father knows back at the office.” She replies after a few moments passed with John stubbornly ignoring him.

Without another word, junior takes his bag and left the kitchen. A door slams minutes later before John moves. Celeste hands him his cup without a word, but when their eyes met, she can see the same question in his dark eyes.

“Where is Wilma?” John asks absently and takes a sip from the tepid cup.

“In her room doing homework,” she replies. “Can I fix you something to eat, or are you going back?”

“I must meet her at the airport. But will be back for the night,” he says and pulls her into his embrace, and she smiles. Accepting his passionate kiss.

A beeping sound distracts him, and he let her go. Celeste stands back and takes her cup. Her gaze never leaving him as she sips her tea.

His gaze turns from gloomy, too dangerous in a heartbeat, and she takes a step closer.

“What’s wrong?”

“I have to go.” And without another word, he walks out.

~*~*~*~

“I told you I will call.” John snaps when he is back in his car. The powerful engine of the Mercedes responding with each gear change. Continuously excelling in speed.

John’s hands shaking slightly. The last couple of days’ pressure is taking its toll on him. This is the last thing he needs. Simone is heading back.

“You are taking too long, bro. I have a life too, you know.” And John bristles with annoyance. He connects the phone to the car’s Bluetooth with practiced ease.

“And that kind of money takes time to put together.”

“I’m sure the big John Stevenson can make a plan.” The sneering comment grating him even more.

“Don’t threaten me.”

“I don’t. But I am sure the police and that pretty wife of yours will love to hear me flapping my lips.”

“You keep your mouth shut.” He grinds and misses a car from the front with a centimetre. His glaring horn following him as John speeds away.

“Make me.”

“How old are you?” John snarls.

“Over the last twenty years, life has become expensive. And I need money to live.”

“Get a job.” John says.

He clicks his tongue, then grins. “You’re not serious, bro.” A few moments of quietness follows before he continuous. This time every word is emphasised with a deadly tone: “I need the money by tonight or I talk. Kapish.” The silence that follows leaves an ominous tail, and John bristles with agitation. Pushing his foot harder onto the pedal.

The thought of his secret coming out not sitting well with him. Especially now that he has such a demanding case coming up.

He has too much to lose.

He taps his phone, and his wife’s face appears on the small screen. His face contorts into an ugly sneer and a curse follows. He is forced back to the present by another horn. Just to hit another car. The sound of metal upon metal cleaves the air. People run from their houses to watch the commotion. Another makes a call.

A truck’s tires burn in desperation to avoid him, but it was too late. The screeching sound screams in agony, and his car’s airbag deploys into his face with a loud pop.

Explicates explodes through the air, and he leans back and rubs his head. Anger runs through him before he opens the door and gets out. The 1 Ton truck’s front is boiling angrily at him and drench him in hot water. Hot steam billows from the engine.

“Dammit.” He screams and throws his jacket on the tar.

“Sir, stand still. You are hurt.” A man shouts, but he pushes him away.

“Sir. The paramedics are on their way.” Another shout and John brush through his hair. It is as if the words come to him in slow forced waves that he struggles to understand. Shattered glass falls to the ground. He sways a little, and a woman grabs his arm.

“Just sit down, sir.” Sirens mixes with the voices around him and he bumps against his vehicle. He tries to push her hands away. But when he sways precariously against her, he accepts her help. She leads him to the side of the road, and he sits down on the edge of the paving. His pants dripping wet.

The Datsun bakkie was a write off, and the driver was lying on the hood. His face was bloody, and his eyes closed.

 “I need my phone.” John’s words slurs as he addresses the woman and rubs his head. Blood trickles down his face as pain shot through him, and he strains to hear her.

“My name is Anet. Is it in your car?”

“Yes. I must make a call.”

“I will bring it.” She offers.

From there, things happen quickly. Police arrives. Paramedics stop right behind them.

“Blow here sir.” The officer commands and the plastic tube are pressed between his lips.

A paramedic patches up his forehead.

“You can be lucky. Its only scratches. You need a doctor for that bump, though.” The paramedic says.

“I need to go. My wife is landing at the airport. Do you need anything else from me?”

“I need your information, sir. Can you come to the police station tomorrow for a report?” the police officer asks.

“Yes.” He replies just as another Mercedes parks close by and Celeste gets out. Searching through the small crowd that has gathered around the accident till she finds him.

“There you are. Are you okay?” she asks and encircles his waist.

“Yes. My head hurts a little.”

“I have something at home. Let me take you.”

“I must get Simone. She is expecting me.”

“You can’t go in this condition. It will scare her.”

“No, I must go. I said I will. Can I borrow your car?”

“Of course.” She says and helps him into the passenger seat. Once Celeste is inside the car, she glances at him.

“When does her plane land?”

“In an hour.”

“It doesn’t give you much time to get there. Are you sure? We can always ask someone else to pick her up.”

“No, I said I will. Just drive back home. It will give me a few minutes to get my bearings.”

“What about your car?”

“Tow truck will take it to a panel beater.” He replies, his eyes closing. With a last look, she starts the powerful engine and drives back to their Constantia home.

 

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