Two weeks elapsed and Helga fortunately hadn’t done anything that warranted fear or insecurity; however, I did not let my guard down. Maybe it was my imagination, thinking that Helga had not accepted me, but my gut told me otherwise. So despite wanting to relax, I couldn’t.
Nico’s birthday was in a few days and I was wondering what to give him. Now that I had enough money, I wanted to buy something big and special for my brother, but I didn’t know what. I thought about getting an encyclopedia set, but Gideon told me that the library contained all the encyclopedias Nico could possibly want. That had me rejecting the first idea. My second idea was to take Nico somewhere special, but I couldn’t think of a single place. Discarding the second idea took less time than the first one.
I couldn’t believe that my brother would get to celebrate lots of birthdays. A few months back, the thought of Nico’s birthday was terrifying. I used to wonder whether he’d be able to survive for another year. But now, Nico had many years ahead of him if Nature decided not to intervene. And hopefully, he would live to see grandchildren.
“Why don’t you just ask him what he wants for his birthday,” Gideon suggested. We were currently sitting in the living room, discussing about Nico’s eleventh birthday.
“I want to give him a surprise,” I replied.
“Just ask him what he wants and then you can give him an extra present to go along with it, that could be a surprise,” he stated.
“You know; I want to buy everything for Nico. New clothes, new shoes. It’s been so long since he had new clothes.” I told him.
“Why don’t you take him shopping?”
“I tried. But every time Nico would tell me he is busy with something. I asked him if he wanted to go shopping last week, and he said he had a science test to study for,” I responded.
“Well why don’t you buy clothes for him yourself.” Gideon interlaced his fingers with mine.
“Have you seen the speed in which he’s growing? What if I get his size wrong?”
Gideon kissed my hand. “I think you should ask him what he wants for his birthday, and when you get the time, take Nico out for shopping. Buy him all the new clothes and shoes he wants, all right?” He kissed my forehead.
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“Good. And one more thing. I’ve invited my father and brothers to dinner next week.” Gideon told me.
“Any special reason?” I enquired.
“I am going to tell them that the contract has been terminated and now you are my wife forever,” he answered.
I blushed at hearing this. Even though it had been two weeks since Gideon announced to the whole staff that I was his permanent wife, the fact still managed to color my cheeks. And now he was going to tell his family. How were they going to react? I had a feeling that Kieran would accept me, it was Gideon’s father and Brenton I was worried about. I didn’t think Gideon’s father liked me very much. And what would Gideon do if his father and Brenton did not accept me? Was he going to leave me? Would he take my baby and throw me to the curb?
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Gideon turned my face to him.
“Nothing,” I lied easily, too easily.
Gideon arched his eyebrow at me. “Tell me what’s wrong,” he demanded.
“I told you nothing’s wrong,” I fibbed.
“Little bird, tell me what’s wrong.” Gideon used the tone that told me I better start talking or else.
“What if your family doesn’t accept me? What will you do then?” I searched his eyes, trying to get my answers through the sea green irises.
Gideon kissed me softly. “Little peach, trust me, they will accept you. Kieran will be thrilled to know that you are my permanent wife now, he already accepted you as his sister the day we got married,” he said.
“But what about your dad and Brenton. Your dad never really liked me,” I said.
“What made you think my father doesn’t like you?” Gideon questioned.
“Well he was awfully rude to me when you came to my apartment, no offence, and since we’ve gotten married, he never once invited us to dinner,” I replied.
“There was a dinner, the family dinner,” Gideon pointed out.
“Your whole family was there. I mean, just us. Me and you. He never invited us over for dinner. He never calls to ask how I’m doing or anything. Even though I have no idea how father-in-laws normally behave, I still think they at least ask how their daughter-in-law is,” I ranted.
“Is my little wife feeling neglected?” He cooed.
“Oh stop making fun of me. I’m just saying, he doesn’t like me, so what will you do when he refuses to accept me?” I questioned.
“I don’t care,” Gideon said.
“What?” What did he mean by that?
“I don’t care if he does not accept you, I’ll choose you,” Gideon elaborated.
“You’re joking.” He couldn’t possibly do that.
“No I’m not. I’ll choose you,” he repeated.
“Over your family?”
“But why?” I did not believe he would do that.
“Because you make me happy. And you are the mother of my unborn child,” Gideon answered.
“It’s easier said than done.” I told him.
“Choosing someone over your family. It’s kind of impossible,” I clarified.
“I’m not choosing anyone over my family. My father and brothers are my family. You are my family. So if I choose you over my father and brothers, I won’t be choosing just anyone over my family, I’ll be choosing my family...well...over my family.” I chuckled as he said this.
“I won’t come between you and your family, Gideon,” I said with conviction.
“Nobody is coming between anybody, I’m telling you, my father and Brenton will accept you, you have nothing to worry about.”
Despite his constant assurances, I wasn’t convinced. I knew Mr. Maslow only married Gideon to me because he believed it would be temporary. Even when he was at my apartment, I could tell he did not approve of me. And even though he didn’t say anything to me directly, I could still feel his dislike of me in our brief encounter. I had no idea what Gideon was thinking, but I was worried. Very worried.
I knocked softly before opening the door of Nico’s bedroom. He was sitting on his bed, his knees drawn up to his chin. The only light that was slightly illuminating his room was coming from his lamp which was sitting on the nightstand. I gave him a small smile before entering and closing the door softly behind me.
“Hey Nico, I hope I’m not disturbing you,” I said lightly.
In response, I got a hiccup. Worry clenched my heart and I raced over to my brother and sat down on the bed in front of me.
“Nic, are you okay?” I asked, looking at my brother’s tear stained face.
He didn’t say anything, just hiccupped as more tears streamed down his face. Worry and fear clouded my mind and I hugged Nico tightly to me, rubbing his back in a soothing manner.
“Nico tell me what’s wrong, please,” I pleaded.
“No—Nothing,” he sobbed.
“Don’t lie to me, Nico. I’m your sister, tell me what’s wrong, why are you crying?”
Nico pulled away from me and tried to wipe the tears with the back of his hand, but the tears did not stop leaking from his eyes. I felt helpless seeing my brother like this. Why was he upset?
“Tell me what’s wrong,” I coaxed.
“Al—Alice, did mum and dad hate us?” He asked.
My heart cracked. “No, of course not. Why would you think that?” Where was this coming from? Nico was perfectly fine and had accepted our parents’ death years ago.
“Then why—why did they leave us?” More tears escaped.
I held his hands tightly. “It wasn’t their choice, Nic. Mum and dad were sick.” I told him.
“Did—Didn’t they know that we needed them?” It felt like I was transported back years ago, when mum and dad had just passed away. Nico asked me the same questions then, and even though I tried my best to answer his questions, right now, I felt helpless just like I had felt all those years ago.
“They knew, bud, but like I said, they didn’t have a choice. Mum and dad did not want to leave you, they wanted to stay with you forever,” I explained.
“Why is God so cruel? Why did He take mum and dad away from us? Did God not knew that I needed mum and dad?” He asked.
I had no answer for that. Well I did, but I didn’t think I could explain in a rational manner. So I opted to choose the subject and go to the heart of the problem.
“Nico, what’s wrong? Why ask me all these questions again?” I understood why he was asking me this, but what I did not understand that Nico was perfectly fine all these years, and now all of a sudden he was asking about mum and dad.
“If mum and dad were here, I wouldn’t be an orphan,” he sobbed.
My heart ached at hearing Nico call himself an orphan. “Yo—You are not orphan, Nic.” I was his older sister. I was practically his parent.
“Yes I am,” he cried. “An orphan is som—someone who has no pa—parents, and I have no parents.”
“But—But—” I had no idea what to say to make him feel better.
“It’s true, don’t lie to me, Alice. Everybody in school calls me an orphan. Nobody wants to be my friend be—because I’m an or—orphan. Stan says that my pa—parents hated me that’s wh—why they le—left me.” A torrent of fresh tears fell, as sobs shook Nico’s body.
Anger and sadness flared in me as I watched my brother crying for something in which he had no control over. Without thinking, I wrapped Nico in my arms, and rubbed his back, all the while fuming over this Stan kid.
“How long has this been going on?” I asked, trying my best to contain my fury.
“One week after I joined school,” he replied.
“And why didn’t you tell me? You know you are supposed to tell me if somebody hurt you or bully’s you.”
“You have your own problems. I thought it would st—stop but it didn’t.” I hugged him tighter. I wished he had told me sooner that kids were bullying him. I would’ve dealt with the problem quicker.
“Did you tell your teachers?” I enquired.
“No.” Nico seemed to be getting himself under control.
“Why not?” I queried.
“Because I didn’t want them to think differently of me,” he replied.
“Nico, your teachers will help you. They will never bully you or anything,” I explained.
“What if they do?” Nico queried.
“They won’t,” I stated. “So I want you to go to school tomorrow tell your teacher how the other kids are treating you. And I am going to talk to your teacher as well, all right.” I wiped Nico’s face with my fingers.
“You sure it won’t be a problem?”
“It won’t be a problem at all,” I assured him.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“For crying and worrying you,” he answered.
“Hey, I’m your sister. You can cry all you want in front me, and you are my little brother, you are supposed to worry me.” I ruffled his hair, my heart jumping in relief when I saw Nico smiling.
“Now tell me, what do you want for your birthday?” I asked, wanting to talk about happy things.
“Is it okay if I want to celebrate my birthday this year?” He asked, green eyes hopeful.
“You mean like a party?”
Nico nodded. “Sort of. Yes, if it’s not a problem.”
“Of course you can. Who would you like to invite?” I questioned.
“I want to celebrate my birthday with other kids like me.” Nico told me.
“Kids like you?” I frowned in confusion.
“Orphans. I want to celebrate my birthday with orphans,” he explained.
“Oh. Really? Is that what you want?” I had to be absolutely sure that’s what Nico wanted.
He nodded. “Yes. And I want a huge party with lots of kids who are orphans. I know it will cost a lot of money, if you don’t have it, then I don’t want a party.”
“Money is not an issue. And we’ll have a huge party, just like you want.” Finally, my brother was not forlorn anymore. As soon as I would leave his room, I would start preparing for his party.
“Oh and can you please let the orphan kids know that I don’t want any presents, I just want them to come to my birthday party.” Nico was looking excited about his birthday.
“Of course, I’ll let them know.” I stood up from the bed. “Now, why don’t you go back to your homework, while I go and make preparations for your huge birthday party. And tomorrow, I’m taking you shopping, okay? I am going to buy you new clothes and shoes, all right?”
Nico nodded. “Okay Alice. Thank you so much. You are the best sister in the whole world.”
“And you are the best brother ever.” With a final wink, I left Nico’s room, eager to start planning his birthday.
“Where were you?” Gideon asked as soon as I entered our bedroom.
“I took your advice and asked Nico what he wanted,” I replied.
“And what did he say?”
“He wants to celebrate his birthday with orphans. So can you please contact different orphanages and invite the kids to Nico’s birthday party?” I requested.
“All right, anything else?”
“You agree? Just like that?” He was crazy.
“Of course. Doing this will make Nico happy, which in turn will make you happy.” I really loved this man.
“So you have no problem with throwing a huge birthday party for Nico?”
“No, I don’t. What do you think, will five hundred orphans be enough?”
“Five hundred?! How will we accommodate so many?” I asked, bewildered.
“Leave it to me, little dove. I’ve got it under control. You just worry about finding a nice dress to wear,” Gideon stated.
“You are crazy,” I said.
Gideon winked at me. “Crazy for my woman.” Those words made my heart flutter.