Chapter six

It took Ethan over 20 minutes to arrive at Camilla's home. It was all shabby: the building, the parking lot- in fact, the entire street. It looked to him as if the entire apartment building itself had not been painted for years. The windows, if they depicted the interior of this place, showed a lack of care as well, since many sported no drapes. The curtains Ethan did see were torn and stained.

Camilla had been waiting for him beside the grocery store on the down floor of her apartment building. When she saw him she hesitated, unable to decide whether to walk towards him or wait till he noticed her. 

Luckily for her, he noticed her almost immediately and signaled her to come to meet him. 

"Get into the car." He did not bother opening her door for her. "This place is a dump." 

"Yes, l know. No need to rub it in" Camilla replied with a straight face. 

"Why do you stay here, considering how dangerous the environment is?" Ethan marveled, he would not be caught dead living in a place like this.

Camilla spared him a glance, either he was genuinely curious or plain stupid. "That's what I can afford." She muttered

Ethan turned off the car ignition suddenly, he was about to drive off but decided against it. Camilla looked at him surprised at his action. Has he changed his mind about marrying her?

"Go and get your things." 

"Why!" Camilla inquired 

"You won't be coming back here. You are going to be my wife and your security is important to me." Ethan replied.

"Oh," Camilla mumbled, a feeling of warmth rushing through her. Did he care that much about her?

"I don't want you dying just yet since you are indebted to me and yet to pay up." Ethan scoffed.

"So where am I supposed to stay?" She was baffled at his remark, she had herself to blame for expecting him to feel compassion towards her. To him, she was merely an asset; an asset yet to bring in returns.

"Don't worry about that, just lead the way to your apartment, we are already running late and mother would be apprehensive." He glanced at his Rolex wristwatch, his favorite luxurious item aside from his cars.

Camilla took him to her apartment. She was suddenly aware of its shabbiness, the small thin mattress that lay at the far end of the room. She was still saving for a television set, there was a standing fan, a table that had two sets of plates, a spoon, and fork including a kitchen knife, and two medium-size pots plus a small electric stove. She rarely cooked since she worked at a restaurant which was all good since she had to save all the cash she had and had little to spare, and things were expensive around here.

Ethan's eyes wandered around the room but he did not comment on the way it looked. "Get the clothes and nothing more."

"What." Camilla looked at him as if he had grown horns. "What happens to my other properties?"

"Properties, don't make me laugh. Even if you take them; where would you keep them?" He waved his hands around the room. 

"But…but I bought this with my money. They are mine." Camilla insisted. 

"Not anymore, give them out." He was still standing at the door, he had barely moved an inch since they came in. Ethan was baffled by what he saw, a part of him felt pity for this young immigrant lady who left her country and home for 'the so-called American dream.'

Camilla packed her clothes into her old suitcase, it was a Christmas gift from her father before he died. The last Christmas he spent with them before he died in his sleep. Her father had barely complained of having a headache when he came back from work that fateful evening, he had some paracetamol and some herbal tea which his mum had made for him before going to bed. The next day he did not wake up at the usual time he went to work even after his alarm rang. When her mother went to wake him up his body was already cold and stiff. The paramedics declared dead as soon as they came in.

That had been the darkest moment in their life, but somehow they picked their broken pieces and forged ahead.

As soon as Camilla packed her clothes. Both the new ones Ethan bought for her and her old clothes, she surveyed her apartment for the last time, even though it was worse for wear, it has been home for almost six months. Taking a deep breath she muttered, "I'm ready."

Without another word from Ethan, he walked out of the room following the flight of dilapidated stairs. He wondered why people lived there, and once again he was reminded of his privileged life.

***************

The journey to Ethan's estate was made in total silence. Ethan hoped to convince his mum how deep in love he was with his soon-to-be bride, while Camilla was filled with dread about the family she was about to be married into. She also wondered why a man like Ethan was still single, he was a handsome man, and even though he was rigid and domineering she did not deny how his presence made her feel. 

"There is something you must know," Ethan said, his full attention still on the road. "I have three children, a boy, and two girls."

"What. You only told me about your mother." 

"Well I am telling you now, I have three kids."

"How old are they?" Camilla asked, after some silence.

"The girls are fifteen and five respectively; while the boy is thirteen. I was once married."

"Well, that is a whole lot of new information. Why did you not tell me earlier?" Camila was baffled by his behavior.

"Let's just say that I have my reasons," Ethan replied 

Camilla was quiet for a while, Ethan stole a glance at her. He wondered what she was thinking, if she backed out now, he knew there was nothing he could do. He only hoped she was not aware that she could say no to everything.

"Do you mean that I am going to be a wife and mother at the same  time?"

Ethan grinned at her "If you put it that way."

Camilla concluded that the universe was playing games with her, she was about to be a mother to grown kids and a wife to a man she knew in a week and she was not even up to thirty years old yet.

***********

Camilla became more anxious after learning about the children. Even though she loved staying around children, she had no idea how to become a mother to them or how to take care of their daily needs. 

She was also very much aware that the kids had lost a mother and are obviously still mourning their loss and they would surely hate her and think she came to take the place of their mum in the family. 

In America, everyone is very suspicious. If you are kind to a man, he thinks you want to have a relationship and if you are kind to a woman, she thinks you want something. For such a big place, her world has become very small.

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