M.O.T.I.V.E.S – Episode 8 (Series Finale)

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Hey guys!

The final episode of M.O.T.I.V.E.S by Uneñ Ameji is here. As promised, this episode is unusually long. The compiled e-Book will be available for downloads soonest. We will keep you posted on that. Without plenty yarns, have fun and don’t forget to recommend reading.

M.O.T.I.V.E.S, a story set in old and modern-day Nigeria, is a riveting, stimulating, suspense-filled tale of a myriad of absorbing characters with Uneñ Ameji’s fluid style of delivering engaging stories of greed, love, lust and power that leaves her audience on the edge of their seats, guessing and usually clamoring for more.

The story features Nigerian Tycoon and powerhouse Bello Badmus. A man who gave power as he willed, a man who controlled Presidents, a man who put men and monsters in seats of power; Florence Ohiemi aka Naomi Mambutu and her identical evil twin Josephine Ohiemi aka KudiraT Sadika Bello who are ever in battle of wills – good and evil, where evil prevails.

In a thrilling twist, the events likened to a classic game of chess sees each piece on the board take power and lose it and take it all over again. An illusion of power, an illusion of control.

Find out if good or evil prevails after all.

Read all Episodes here

*****
Episode 8 – Series Finale

Victor Dakar – 28th August, 2011

“Business tycoon’s illegitimate son inherits estate” – News Dailys
“Chief Badmus Bello, Most Influential man in Africa disinherit family, names illegitimate son as next of Kin” – The Compatriot
“Pastor of TrueWord Evangelical Church of all Missions disinherited, mistress with love child revealed, wife files for divorce” – The True News
“Kole Badmus found dead in UK apartment, killer arrested” Concord Times
“Son, illegitimate heir to resume office, commission gas plant in Benin”
“President orders immediate relocation of the command center to Mubi, partners bordering countries” National Conscience

Several weeks after the reading of the Will at The Castle and Victor was still reeling from the effect. The increasingly sensitive expectations, suspicious managerial appointments, constant change of residence and flying out to The Castle every other week left him emotionally and physically tired. The unexpected silence from his mother despite her promise to explain why she walked him out of her life twelve years ago was more than maddening, if not frustrating. What ever happened to Bello’s wife? and her children? He wanted to know. The silence was uneasy and whenever he brought it up, she would say she had since released them. Where were they if she released? He expected some form of resistance but for the past months, it had been anything but that.
He roamed the premises of the new residence his mother had ordered they stay, like a caged cat. He had so many questions and unfortunately he wasn’t getting them. The resounding silence that answered back every single time the questions and doubt came to him made him want to scream and curse but he couldn’t. The last thing he wanted to look like was a weakling. Somehow Charity made him want to be stronger, better and that was enough for him.
He had waited with abated breath days after the reading of the Will for the headlines. And they didn’t disappoint him. They were all about him and Kudirat Bello but none about their arrest. That was suspicious but that was the least of his problem. His problem was overseeing his father’s company. His call to appoint new Board members was met without a fight and now the ongoing acquisition process left him winded. He remembered the headlines again, made up new ones and took a deep breath. Definitely it was going to look fishy – selling his father’s company barely five months after taking over as the Chief Executive Officer. He was highly conflicted.
The headlines went from hateful to furious, then to comical in the last months. It was as if the News houses wanted to outdo each other with derogatory headlines about him and Bello’s wife. The media had also been agog with tales of the Pastor Debola who had an affair with a church member and a bastard son. The embittered wife had since taken him to the cleaners but report was that the man was yet to defend himself nor did he show up at preliminary hearings. If there was ever a time he regretted the day he met Charity, it was now.
“You mustn’t look so sad” it was Charity in his boxers and cropped sleeveless see-through chiffon blouse coming up behind him as he walked in the cool garden. The two had remained inseparable since the reading of the Will and he was beginning to love and hate her at the same time.
“What’s fucking wrong with picking up your phone and calling your son?” he voiced loudly the moment she offered him the hot mug of black coffee she was carrying from the house.
Charity was also tired of the series of calls and instructions Naomi passed across. If it was not submitting a petition at the court, it was leaving a new house in the dead of the night. Moreover Victor was beginning to irritate her with his insistence whining. Naomi was his mother after all and with her new siblings, she absolutely refused to be dragged further into the Bello Badmus vortex.
He was dead and the group of evil men who were involved in her father’s disgraceful death lay in burnt pieces. As far she was concerned, she had gotten her revenge. All she wanted now was her Grandma and something told her Naomi would not find her in-house sex activity with her son so agreeable. It was time to cut the cord – whatever that meant.
In the last months, she had also endured series of outings at the Federal High Court following Naomi’s directions to initiate legal proceedings contesting the content of Bello Badmus’s Will. The woman was highly contradictory. Why would one contest a Will that left her son the sole heir? To what end? But she did not question the directive and she had filed the petition that was leaked to the press causing another week of embarrassing headlines. That also was the beginning of the Court house charade that lasted months. She served petitions refraining Victor from taking over his inheritance until a paternity test be carried out, petitions preventing him for carrying out his duties, petitions preventing for even stepping in the Castle. The result was always the same – Denied.
As a legal representative to her siblings, she had simply made a mockery of herself. The Newspapers and soft sells had a good time calling her degrading names even going as far as comparing her to her greedy father. The judge had thrown out the petition after she failed to provide her clients for testing. A fault of Naomi who wouldn’t produce the Pastor who was having his own episode of shaming and Laide whose mansion was being repossessed by the bank.
It was all happening so fast.
How the gossip magazine got their stories about her relationship with her clients didn’t bother Charity. She knew Naomi was playing a game but what game? The media loved the sordid tale of affair between her father, Nigeria’s top activist George Ajero and wife of Chief Badmus, Kudirat Bello. Their lives splashed across soft sells and major Newspaper houses were a distraction to what was going on at The Castle. It wasn’t long before Nollywood titles such as Corporate Whore in Hasso Rock made top Naira in the market.
If there was an angle to the circus, Charity was beginning to suspect that Naomi was using the distraction to her advantage and it wasn’t until Naomi told Victor to nominate new Board members and had instructed her to head the merger and acquisition team for the purpose of an outright take-over while offering a ridiculous price Naomi referred to as a bailout did she realize the grand plan of the woman. Naomi Mambutu wanted Bello Badmus’s company and had worked tirelessly to get it. One had to respect the woman’s tenacity.
“It is going to be fine” she reassured Victor by rubbing his back as she moved to go back to the house. Victor knew he was going to sign the finalized agreement in less than 24 hours and he was agitated. He was torn between preserving his father’s legacy and acting on the instructions of his manipulative mother.
“I am tired of being caught in the middle of all these” he said as he stopped her by holding on to her upper arm, stopping her from leaving.
“Me and you both” Charity tried a smile that was plastered on her face that was suffering from a major breakout.
“What does she want with his company? I can’t understand why she would keep moving us, getting all those people voted in and buying the company?” he struggled to understand and for a moment, Charity saw the conflicted child.
“Either ways, you get a good percentage. You are her son after all. What does it matter who has the company?” Charity voiced, looking away as Victor moved closer to lift her chin.
“I don’t care about being on the Board or working in any of their companies. I know she is using me and will throw me out again. She has done it before” he watched her bite her lower lips and smiled.
“You don’t believe me” he noted throwing the cup of hot coffee on the perfect lawn.
“I should?” she asked with a small smile.
“Yes, yes you should” he gave a rare smile as he found her hands and held her softly, massaging them in circles.
“Don’t” she said prying her hands from his manipulation.
“What are you going to do when all this is over?” Victor asked as they stared at each other.
“Is there an end in sight?” Charity chuckled.
“I should hope so” Victor chuckled as well and she laughed.
“Well, I will take a vacation with my grandmother” Charity said wistfully
“You have a grandmother…where is she?”
“Oh I don’t know” she shook her
“What do you mean you don’t know?” he asked finding her eyes shifting around without focusing on him.
“Naomi has her” she stated painfully, looking at her feet before removing her hands and walking back to the three bedroom bungalow sitting on a large green perfectly mowed lawn.
Victor stood watching her walk away. He didn’t stand a chance with her, his parents made sure of that.
Angered, he made to go after her when he noticed the greyish green metallic gate open and black sedan drove in.
It was his mother.
“About time too” he muttered under his breath as he watched the car drive into the parking lot.
*****

Florence Ohiemi, 26th August, 2011

Florence knew the decision to buy the company didn’t go down well with Victor. The decision was arrived at after she listened to Bello’s plan at getting rid of her and her son. Moreover, with the series of meetings she had attended with Jafal, she came to realize that several subsidiaries were mainly a cover for the funds that somehow found their way to purchasing arms and training more recruits. It funded their operations and buying the company was the only legal and smart way of cutting off the funding of the terrorists activities. She knew that to stop flow of funds, she had to handle the affairs of the company. The chip she had left behind on impulse after recording the meeting had brought her the greatest revelation and idea. Every other meeting, she improved to include photos and videos. If she was going to get Bello, she damn well was going all rhw way. All she had to do now was get Inale who remained adamant at being called Victor aware of the the situation.
Bello had been supportive over the past months, teaching her how to behave like Kudirat so that the 7-man group would not discover she was an impostor. Florence laughed at such lessons. Who was he fooling? Himself definitely. He acted as one who had her interest at heart. She followed Jafal to several meetings with the service chiefs, the arms dealers and group members. It wasn’t surprising to find sponsors from international community at such meeting and as always, she recorded the conversation on her phone and where possible took discrete photographs of the faces of the men she didn’t know. Every meeting was more deadly than the last. She knew she was risking her life but what had to be done had to be done.
When she had gathered enough evidence, she had excused herself by saying she needed to take care of domestic issues. Akin, the Vice President was more than happy to follow Jafal on his meetings.
“I see that your illegitimate son is still handling affairs” it was Jafal on their last trip together.
“It seems I must be present or do everything myself” she said refering to failure of her hit men to carry out the assignment.
“You must let the boy go soon. We are going to need more funds after the blast and you must be positioned to get us the funds” Jafal said almost in a sneer. If Florence had not heard the discussion Jafal and Bello had about her, she would have believed she was being taken serious. But it all worked to her advantage.
The irony was, while they thought they were playing her, she was the one playing them. It suited her well enough. On one hand, she was taking over his company, on the other she was gathering enough evidence to nail their coffins firm and save millions of lives that would be at stake if their plans succeeded. The only problem however was that she had no idea when the attack was going to happen. Somehow, they never mentioned it in their meetings.
“Make sure the boy is gone within a week. We can’t hold off any longer” it was Jafal as she got into her private car she had waiting for her at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport.
“That will be done Sir” she said playful and left him there.
“Ganbo, where is my son now?” she asked her ever faithful driver and body-guard of over thirty years. He had been with her through the years and his loyalty rivaled none.
“I took them to a new place” he answered as he greeted her and opened the door for her.
“Take me there please” she said as they left the airport.
“We are being followed Ma” he said as he watched a car follow them out of the airport.
“Lose him” she directed almost politely.
“Yes Ma” and he did lose the tinted car.
It was only fair that she played their game and win them at it.
The need to see Victor as soon as possible arose because he refused to sign the document after the newly inaugurated Board approved the sale and witnesses had signed their part. Charity made sure of it but failed to persuade or force her son. She knew of their affair but that was not an issue she bothered about. She smiled as she saw him stand impossibly tall and proud. If only he knew.
She came out as soon as Ganbo parked and opened the door for her. She stretched and gave a tiring smile. She was exhausted but she knew it was not yet time for rest. She had few more errands to run.
She walked in her unhurried fashion to the entrance of the house. He stood watching her approach, hands in pocket, lips held tight.
“Such a cozy property” she tried a jab. He didn’t return it. They stared at each other wearily before she smiled and nodded at Charity who came out on hearing the car drive in
“Good evening mother” he greeted finally as she beamed at him before walking past him to the house. They followed her.
“So how have you been?” Florence tried a chit-chat as she sat down comfortably taking in the quiet surrounding. Charity offered a drink she refused to take. There were no friends in the game.
“As you have commanded” Victor returned with a childish air. Florence smiled passively as she made to get her phone from her bag, unhurried.
“I suspect you have issues with signing the document” Florence said to no one in particular.
“I would hesitate too if I were you. However you must believe the worst of me to think I will take over a man’s life work without good cause. I have been away a lot because there were things, people I had to meet, information that would benefit a lot of us” she continued leisurely as she found the files she was looking for on her phone.
“I would like you both to listen to these recordings and watch the videos. Let me know if you still have issues signing the documents. Charity, you have done well. The balance of your fees will be paid into your account but first, you two will be flown out tomorrow” Florence stated easily as if she were talking to her staff.
“Is she doing well?” Charity’s voice shook, her eyes misting at the thought of finally seeing her grandmother, not believing that the end had come, on a day she least expected it.
“What makes you so sure that I am going to sign those documents?” Victor asked, cocky as he stood up at her signal.
“This will” Florence said as she pressed the play button, dropped her phone and leaned back with eyes closed.
The voices flooding the cozy cream-colored room and warm red furniture soon had Victor shifting and looking at the face of his mother. Every word, every minute was revelatory. Charity and Victor sat frozen to their seats, goose pimples running on the surface of their skin as plans after plans were revealed. As one meeting finished, Florence would press the next button and more of the plans were revealed until it got to the voice recording of Bello Badmus and Jafal plotting their death.
80 minutes of listening to the recording and watching raw footage of videos from her top-level meetings achieved the effect she knew was needed to push the sales through. Of course she could decide to force him into signing the documents but it wasn’t necessary. The boy should know exactly why he had to sell his father’s company and shouldn’t be denied the exhilarating feeling of revenge.
Victor sat stunned as the last recording played out. Without being told, he knew who the person in the last recording was and he knew exactly what they meant when they said there was need to get rid of him.
“You understand why I do what I do now?” it was Florence putting her phone into her bag.
“Bello Badmus is alive?” it was more of a statement than a question. Charity knew that voice in her sleep.
“Yes” Florence confirmed.
“And he wants me dead” Victor completed standing up and squeezing his eyes shot. The rush of emotions blinded him momentarily. His own father wanted him dead – for a company he didn’t even want.
“I didn’t ask him to make me his heir! Why did he have to make me his heir only for him to turn around and kill me?” it was a shout.
“I think he enjoys the game he plays” it was Florence, calm.
“He is going to kill you too. You knew he was alive?” he asked again, taking a new sofa.
“I knew he was alive, I was aware of the simple plan of him playing dead so that we could catch my evil sister and expose her lies and plans to eliminate him for the cabal. It was for a good cause he said. I had no idea Josephine was going to go big with her bomb blast. I suppose it served his purpose just as well” Florence wasn’t sure anymore on why she had agreed with him to work on the plan of making her sister pay for her deeds. The game plan had since changed and she knew Bello had been taking her for a ride.
“What is the story with your sister?” Victor asked, watching his mother carefully as he saw a rush of cloud wash down her countenance.
“She sold me to some spiritualist when I was pregnant with you. She married your father after destroying our relationship. She killed my assistant and tried to kill you the day I sent you away, with the help of Charity’s father of course. She would have killed you when you started working at The Castle as a driver. I had Ganbo frame you up and bail you out the next day. I couldn’t allow her find you in your father’s employment. Ganbo leaves you for a week and you find yourself some trouble no?” Florence gave a small smile as she remembered the panic attack she had suffered when Ganbo who had taken a leave of one week reported on resumption that her son was now in employment of Bello Badmus. She had sacked Ganbo’s replacement with immediate effect.
Charity looked away as Florence looked at her when she mentioned her father being part of the plan to eliminate Florence and her son.
“So I take you have scores to settle with your sister” Victor said as he watched his mother with awe.
“That is correct” Florence answered simply.
“After working with him, Bello wants you dead” Victor repeated
“From his conversation, yes”
“Why?” Victor pressed.
“Why is the devil evil?” Florence answered
“Because he is the devil?” Victor tried dry humor and they shared a private chuckle.
“Exactly”
“So what is the plan?”
“Get those documents signed and get you out of here” Florence sat up.
“I mean about you” Victor continued
“I have work to do” Florence volunteered freely.
“Those people, they are responsible for the terror in the North East” Victor said after a moment of silence. He saw his mother in new light and respect. He knew that to have had access to the recording, she must have taken risks. Not only had she saved their lives, she had gone at the expense of her life to save the State. He was proud to call her mother.
“Yes”
“And you intend to expose them” he questioned like a little child, Charity was getting irritated at the questions.
“That’s the plan” Florence smiled at the easy rapport and wondered what their relationship would have been like if there were no craziness.
“How do you intend to do that?” it was Charity.
“I may have to find a way to the President but even he can’t be trusted. He may be compromised”
“I may know someone” she supplied helpfully.
“And who is he?”
“She. Omoni Osagie” Charity continued.
“How sure are you about her integrity?” Florence was skeptical and watching for signs of betrayal.
“I can stake my life on it” Charity vouched strongly
“And how do you know this Omoni?” Florence asked
“She saved my life, paid my way through law school and she is married to Peter Osagie” she offered as they both looked at her with blank stares. “The acting Director General of the DDSS” she volunteered.
“We should set up the meeting” it was Florence. She had heard that name mentioned behind Jafal’s back by the other members of the group but she wondered why they all couldn’t mention his name in Jafal’s presence. The joke was that this man was the only one who could stop Jafal. If this was the man, it was good.
“We should” Victor added looking at his mother before breaking into a full smile at her raised eyebrows.
There was no need for words. When life is threatened by a common enemy, forces are joined. Florence had no doubt about that.
*****

Bello Badmus – 26th August, 2011
Bello Badmus sat in his recliner chair and sipped his drink. All was working according to plan.
Daba had finally located where Florence had taken Kudirat and her children. The same building! She seemed to be more careful than usual at first then she got careless. He found it surprisingly though that she stayed away from Inale. If she did, Daba did not report it.
Florence entertained him, with her double entrees and eagerness at playing his wife and her twin sister, Kudirat at the same time. He laughed out loud as he remembered the first time he met her. He remembered the first night he had her, how eager and naive she had been – eager to please, eager to be pleased. He remembered the bright pink coloration of her labia the first time he had kissed her maiden head. It was breathing hot and shy. He smiled as he remembered the dark skin coloration of Josephine’s labia and mole just beneath her abdomen. The sisters maybe identical but they deferred where only him knew. Their sex.
He had figured that out the next semester after his first night with Josephine. At the beginning of the semester in January, Josephine was impersonating Florence, coming as Florence to his house, asking that they forget about her sister – Josephine and harping on about continuing from where they stopped. He knew Florence would never push that much but then it had not dawned on him. The feeling and conversations were simply different and when they made love, it was too hurried and loud. Florence was anything but loud.
Night and after night until he stumbled on it. The mole and coloration.
His first reaction had been anger at being played and he had thought about going to confront her. If the sisters were playing on his intelligence, it was time to stop it. But when he told Sule, his closest step-brother, Sule had laughed and told him to play along and date the two sisters. If they wanted a game, Sule suggested he played along. The idea had been perfect, even desired but no matter who he met, there was the mole and the dark coloration. And the sex was fast, loud and sweaty. It was then he began to suspect that Florence wasn’t Florence but Josephine. After being pressed, Josephine (now impersonating Florence) revealed that her twin sister – Josephine had deferred her admission from nursing school. That had been the lie that raised his antenna. He should have called her on it but then he let the game play for so long that he let it continue. After all he was going to get rid of her when he got tired of the game.
Why he had gone ahead with the game of deceit to the point of marrying Josephine, he never knew. Perhaps it was because he wanted to hurt Florence for deserting him. After few months, he went back to his old style of having many girls on campus. When Josephine claimed she was pregnant for him, he knew the game was over and he had lost. Confronting her about impersonation her left Josephine threatening to get him kicked out of school and had gone ahead to ingrain herself with his father. His father had immediately insisted they marry and when Josephine had decided to convert to Islam for the sake of unity, his father was ecstatic.
He regretted playing the game but there was nothing he could do. They were married months later and both of them had continued having affairs until Josephine had fallen in love with George. There was no way he was going to let her enjoy being in love when she had denied him the same. The affair with George had been to spite him, he was sure. He was not a jealous man but even he had pride and there was no way he would allow himself be cuckolded. Nothing had made him happier than when the he-goat had been killed. It was the perfect punishment for the crime of impersonation and adultery.
When his father died shortly after their marriage, Bello began his search for Florence but she had simply vanished. It was not until Naomi Mambutu appeared on the radar after so many years that he found who he was looking for.
The random checks of high-profile investors in his multimillion Naira produced the woman he had being looking for for years. Florence was Naomi Mambutu and like a bee to a flower, he couldn’t resist going after her once more.
The walk on the beach in Seychelles had been planned. With Sekinat in his hands as the perfect excuse to be on a holiday, he walked into her blindly on a cool breezy day. The breath had gone off her lungs as soon as she saw him and he could see her trying to decide what cause of action. He didn’t allow her though.
“Florence” he had called, surprised and holding on to her hand as he pulled her up.
“What?” Florence muttered, looking away.
“Florence Ohiemi!” he continued holding her, ignoring Sekinat who was always more than eager to follow him around the world offering bald pussy service.
“My name is Naomi”
“Naomi Mambutu? A major shareholder in my company?” he asked, eyes fixed on hers. Florence had smiled then and he had too.
“Naomi, yes” she recovered, shaking his hand.
“I know you are Naomi Mambutu but to me, you are Florence”
“Who is Florence?”
“The first and only woman I ever loved” he said casually still watching for a crack in her face.
“I see” she said walking away, baffled at his utterance and shaking at facing Bello so many miles away from home and unprepared.
“You look so much like her” he continued, trailing after her.
“I am sure” Florence answered as she walked to her house by the beach.
“Please tell me. You are Florence. I know you are and I am not going anywhere unless you tell me who you really are” he said simply, looking boyish with grey hair and ridiculously long eyelashes and fading pink lips.
“I am Naomi Mambutu and I don’t know what or who you talking about” Florence had feigned ignorance and gone into her beach house.
Bello had smiled at her denial and remembered what it had felt like to chase her over thirty years. Sekinat was sent back to Nigeria the next morning.
He would court Naomi Mambutu the rest of the week. Offering rides, flying her out to lunch, sitting outside her house at sunset and sharing a cold bottle of wine as they shared tales of travels, funny experiences and favorite foods. He was sure Florence had fallen again. The first night they kissed under the receding moon, he knew she was Florence and when he had her in bed that night, his first point of call was her labia. He was not wrong..…they were bright pink, hot and shy.
He had found his Florence.
When she revealed she was indeed Florence and had a son for him, he knew it was not long before things changed. Her tale of finding him married to her sister, George’s affair with his wife and what hand she had in setting him up for his final fall flowed freely. The weeks that followed, he revealed that Josephine had plans to kill him for the cabal and take control of investments possibly to fund the budding terrorism in the State and like his sweet naive mouse, she had swallowed his story and she had gone with the flow.
It was sad that her darling son was going to go but now that he had caught a glimpse of his son in the news, he was having a rethink. Perhaps he could let the boy live. The problem was getting him to do what he wanted. Would he be as pliant and cooperative as his mother? What would he do if he found out that the subsidiaries were covers for illicit operations? What would Florence do? Leave him? Inale was definitely going to the press. He couldn’t allow that. They had to go. Too much at stake and he was one who loathed loose ends.
Just then, the business headline news caught his attention. The Newscaster was saying the sale of his company had being finalized and the new company was being introduced shortly before a clip of Victor shaking an unknown man filled his screen. He knew the company that bought his company. It was Naomi’s!
His roar was enough to bring the house down as he sped into his room where Florence had been last night.
“Florence! Florence!! Naomi!” he called furiously, his heart beat increasing exponentially as Daba came forward.
“Where is she?”
“She has gone out”
“When?” he asked already planning
“Since morning”
“I see” Bello knew something was wrong.
“Get ready, call Sekinat, I need you both for a quick trip” he said as he walked to his room and opened his electronic save hidden behind Florence’s painting.
*****

Josephine Ohiemi – 28th August, 2011

Josephine had since given up on escaping or being released. It had been months since Florence had locked her up in the private quarters. The environment was always quiet, humming.
Some days she was convinced Florence had forgotten about her and other days she waited for the day she would come and pull the trigger. The recent change in treatment was welcomed but worrisome too.
Her meals had changed and she was allowed to bath and change into clothes provided for her. It was after such mornings that she found Florence sitting in her cleaned new room.
“You startled me” Josephine said as she came into the room from the bathroom.
“What did I ever do to you?” it was Florence, sitting on the side single sofa and watching her sister move around the room in her pair of white cotton trousers and navy blue blouse.
“What?”
“Your countless plans to kill me, taking what belongs to me…..all of it, Why?” Florence asked as she unfolded her arms to reveal a pistol. Josephine froze.
“Florence” she called gently, taking a seat on the bed as Florence signaled her to.
“Yes, I am listening”
“Don’t use that, please” Josephine begged.
“That’s a first. The deadly Josephine, wife of influential Bello Badmus, begging” Florence said, waving the gun.
“Florence, you need to understand it wasn’t about you. It was about me, I was just evil” Josephine excused
“I was hoping you wouldn’t use the ‘this has got nothing to do with you’ line” Florence mimicked and stood up as Josephine flinched. After five months in captivity with four of those months living in deplorable condition, Josephine knew Florence was not the person she knew.
Florence watched her sister squirm and smiled. It was surprising that she lived her life for this moment and now that it was here, she wondered why she had wasted her emotions on her all those years. Her drive for revenge on her sister and Bello had kept her up at night, planning, scheming. She felt better as Victor and Charity were flown out that morning. She had driven herself out of Bello’s mini Estate after instructing Ganbo to load his private plane with explosives in the dead of the night before asking him to take the evidence to the man in Mubi. She remembered the serene happy look on Bello’s face as she left him that morning. It would be the last look she would remember him with.
“I see you haven’t heard the news” it was Florence, going back to sit down. The urge to pull the trigger since leaving her.
“No” Josephine answered shaking her head.
“Bello is alive”
“Bello is dead” Josephine said darkly.
“No, he is not but he will soon be” Florence confirmed, eyes firmly on her sister with the ready silencer.
“I killed him. He was blown up” Josephine argued
“You blew up an empty casket”
“No. He was pushed. I arranged that”
“You didn’t push himself Josephine. Moreover, he was on to you from the beginning, well not exactly from the beginning. At some point, I believe Jafal must have sold you out for the seat of the President”
“That is not possible. I saw him lie in that coffin!” Josephine argued
“Are you sure it was Bello you really saw him?” Florence laughed at the expression on her sister’s face. It was the one of being played a terrible joke.
“No” it was barely above a whisper.
“Your husband is alive sweet sister and he has been really busy with Jafal”
“And you? How do you know all these?”
“I have been busy as well” Florence gave a small smile as she pointed the gun at her sister again.
“Wait! Before you shoot me, where are they?”
“Who?” Florence chuckled knowingly.
“Where are my children? Please” it was the first time Josephine referred to her children with the look of utter surrender on her face.
“They are safe. I don’t know for how long though. Somehow, Bello knows where they are and I heard him say he was going to kill them and then you, if I don’t get to it soon”
“Please don’t let him get to them. They have nothing to do with this and Kole needs to be warned”
“Kole is dead Jose” Florence informed pitifully.
“Noo! Noooo!!” she shouted and began to shake and sob. Kole was her favorite mostly because he reminded her of his father, her first love.
“Nooooo! Noooooooo!!” Josephine broke down in tears, heartbreaking sobs escaping her lips. Florence sat through it.
“How did it happen?” Josephine asked finally, standing up and going to the water dispenser that had been placed in her room the night before. She knew she had to distract Florence and collect the gun from her hand. A plan came to her. It was now or never. She chose now.
“He was slaughtered in his UK apartment. His body found after many days” Florence said, standing up noiselessly as she watched her sister fill the glass cup. She was smiling.
“Of course he did! The bastard, the devil, I will kill him, I will kill him” she cried, swearing, her eyes erstwhile downcast shone with revenge and in a blink of an eye turned around to pour the glass of hot water on Florence with the intention of blinding her to take the gun.
Only it wasn’t hot water. The water dispenser had been tampered with to produce only lukewarm water. The look on Josephine face as she noticed Florence standing without flinching gave Florence all the joy in the world as she shot her sister on her right shoulder blade.
Josephine screamed at the impact of the bullet, her shoulder blades enveloping in heat and pain as she landed on the perfectly laid white bed.
“I was hoping you would do that”
“Florence, Florence, don’t. Please I beg you”
“Close your eyes, pray for forgiveness from where you may get it”
“Florence please, forgive me”
“I will see you in the afterlife. Say hi to Bello and George” Florence said wickedly before pulling the trigger at pointblank range.
The scream that started died in Josephine’s throat and calm soon returned to the room.
*****

Peter Osagie – Mubi, 28th August, 2011
It was Farah who told Peter to take residence with the traditional bone setter who served the community in his red old hut built as an attachment to new stalls in the old community market that had since grown to include new houses and stalls for traders. The house attached in the rowdy community had dried herbs and animal parts hanging out in the open.
Peter had arrived Mubi with his team in disguise. With grown beards and dirty kaftans, they made their way to the man who was to give them a cover. Farah swore he trusted the old man and he knew they would blend into the community with the old man as their master. But it was a set up. Farah’s identity had been compromised and for his life, he had told Peter what Yakubu told him to. Although Farah did not understand why his boss and colleagues had to be put under surveillance, he knew that their assignment had been compromised but there was nothing he could do about it especially as he had been tied among the other captives.
On arrival in April, the old man had received them warmly as he took to the task of setting the bone of one of the locals. That night, he had discussed the problem of the insurgent with Peter deeply, speaking in Hausa and vigorously defending the people taking the law into their hands and fighting the Boko Haram. The old Mallam pointed fingers at the governors and financial faceless backers who unfortunately were untouchable.
Peter followed the story quietly and seemed interested in what the man had to say although he was unconvinced. He couldn’t quite place it but he knew something was amiss.
“These people caused this menace, now it has become war, they leave the community to pay for it” he said indignantly in good English. Peter was surprised at his clarity of facts but refused to show his shock or question his sources.
Days turned to weeks and weeks into months and still they were not closer to real evidence of sabotage than they were when they came. It was one attack after another, the terror spreading and residents going about their daily activities with trepidation. The so-called command center gathered no intelligence that was substantial, if anything it seemed it was a hopeless cause with soldiers conducting themselves without rules of engagement and high-profile officers reporting wrong figures to the Head Quarters and news outlet. The figure of casualty was always reduced and number of bomb blasts reported rarely reflected the sporadic explosions across the state.
In reality, the soldiers were losing ground and the superior fire power of the Boko Haram members more than ever convinced Peter there was a plan for show down soon. The problem was timing.
Omoni was still adamant about her position on him being at the center of the deadly attacks. He reassured her of his safety times without number when he took breaks to see her. The last time she had evoked a promise. If nothing happened within the next month, he would come back and be with her as her delivery date drew near. And then her call had come in.
“Hey love” he called sweetly moving away from the other occupant of the room to answer her call.
“How’s my favorite husband?”
“Your only husband is sweating and missing you” he replied, smiling into the phone.
“Well, your days of sweating and missing me are over. It seems what you are finding in Mubi is right here in Abuja” she said, smiling and wishing she could see the look on his face.
“What do you mean?” he was on high alert.
“I got a call from Charity, remember her?”
“Yes, yes” Peter barely remembered her.
“She called saying there were voice and video recordings on the sponsors and some photos. She didn’t call names but she vouched for the authenticity of those recordings”
“Names and video recordings of the sponsors of these boys? I have to leave right away”
“No need. I mentioned you were in Mubi Township and the recording is on its way to you. I have not seen it but I have a good feeling about this. I really want you back her with me” she cooed.
“Very soon too”
“It had better”
“And how is he supposed to locate me?”
“I said to find the bone setter in Mubi Township, Mobil Market. The messenger is familiar with the part. You will know him when you see him”
“I hope so”
“I know Rambo” she teased and he laughed.
“Love you”
“Love you too” she returned and dropped the call to go check on her Irish potatoes she was boiling.
She had just finished lunch, barely an hour later when her doorbell rang.
Standing up heavily, she walked to the door and opened it. The man she saw there made her weak at the knees.
*****
Peter tried to call his wife throughout the day but the phone was switched off. How was it possible that her battery was off? Even the guard’s mobile rang off. He worried deeply and was considering making the trip down when his phone rang. It was her thankfully.
“Hello sweetheart” it was Omoni, her voice sounding rasp and heavy. Peter knew immediately something was wrong.
“What is wrong?”
“I …” and the phone was taken from her as she tried to answer the question.
“I suggest you think really carefully before you do anything with that list” it was a voice he would forever detest, that deep dark voice of a killer.
“Jafal” Peter called with heavy breathing.
“Father would be nice. How are you?” Jafal asked, watching his son’s wife shoot daggers at him with her eyes, she was a feisty one.
“If you as much as harm her, a strand of her hair and I swear I will find you and kill you” Peter threatened darkly.
“Common on son, you know I wouldn’t do anything to my grandchild. Congratulations by the way” Jafal dragged, almost laughing. This was the reason a man like him didn’t have a woman. It was always an Achilles’ heel.
“Let her go immediately” Peter commanded hotly, frustrated and trying to hide his fear. He knew what his father was capable of.
“Destroy those tapes and burn those lists son”
“And what tapes are you talking about?” Peter stalled.
“You know what I am talking about. If I do not receive a call to that effect, I am sorry I must vent my anger on someone” Jafal said darkly.
“And how would you know if I destroy these evidence against you that I don’t even have?” he asked, exasperated. He noticed the eyes of one man in the room shift continuously and his chest grew heavy with anger. A mole in the room.
“I have my sources. The ball is in your court. Get back here with your team or say goodbye to your wife and my grandchild. She tells me you are having a baby girl too” Jafal taunted before cutting the call abruptly.
“Jafal! Omoni! Hello, Hello!” Peter flung his phone on the wall and what remained of the phone fell to the ground as he looked around the room and charged at the man in dirty kaftan and brown beards.
“You!” he said rushing the old bone setter, raising him and smashing him on the wall. His group was beside him in a second and prying the old man from his hand. Umoru his second calmed him down.
Peter looked at Umoru, took a deep breath and left him fall to the floor in a boneless heap.
“Let me have your phone” he demanded quietly albeit fearfully.
“I don’t have a phone” he said in Hausa. The slap that would fling the man across the room mixed with the first sound of explosion miles away.
Umoru searched the old man’s body and produced a phone hidden in his girdle.
The old snitch’s phone provided the confirmation that the information indeed was right.
“Lock him up. Get the SWAT team up and send them to my house. My father has kidnapped my wife” Peter commanded before taking the motorcycle and heading to the Mobil market to wait for the list or whoever had it.
*****

Peter Osagie – Mobil Market, 30th August, 2011

The man in sparkling black suit and a definite spring in his step was not missed. Peter waited as he saw the man approach steadily.
“You are looking for the bone setter” it was Peter on the motorcycle waiting in front of the stall which housed the old snitch’s properties. He had since relocated his team to an abandoned blown up cathedral and was keeping the man in one of the pastor’s room that was largely unaffected by the fire.
“Yes” Ganbo answered the stranger and looked closely at the man. He looked like the picture he saw in the papers and online reports of the newly appointed Director-General of the DDSS. If he was not good at disguise himself, he would have missed him.
“Come with me” Peter said and brought the motorcycle to life as Ganbo hopped on and they drove out of the busy market few minutes before the first blast would start.
*****

The team watched the videos and listened to the recordings quietly. The cold silence and anger was targeted at only one man in the room. Ganbo’s father.
Ganbo had seen his father tied up the moment he had stepped into the room. Peter was particularly too angry to explain the situation but Umoru, his second in command explained to a disappointed Ganbo. The old bone setter was Ganbo’s adopted father and mentor. He had been instrumental to Ganbo’s upbringing as a man who stood for what was right and his belief that evil needed good men to stop it. After so many years, Ganbo was disappointed to see that the man he called father and held in high esteem was a traitor to his people, a gun for hire – like himself. The only difference was that he did correct evil and it made all the difference.
“I am disappointed in you father” it was Ganbo, eyes red shot as he watched the man he had admired growing up. It was sad that he had become the monster that spied on his community.
“I had no choice” the old Mallam said, tired and weak from the random beating Peter melted on him whenever he thought of the danger his wife and baby girl were in.
“You do. There is always a choice” Peter swore loudly as they heard the gun fire begin in earnest.
“The attack has started. What do we do now?” it was Umoru, looking at Dante and Scorpio. The duo rarely spoke but were quick with the guns and loyal to a fault.
“Jafal has Omoni, he will kill her if we get the names out” Umoru continued, turning to Peter who was calling the Ibro, the head of the SWAT team Umoru had assembled. Every hour counted and he couldn’t even imagine a world without Omoni. He would piece the beast he swore hotly.
“We must call in reinforcement” Peter was angered because the call wasn’t connecting and was about flinging the locally made phone at the wall. He couldn’t think straight. Umoru collected the phone and began to dial a number.
Peter could only sit still and hear the raid continue in the distance, as the massacre went on.
“Get me Mr. President” Peter announced thickly after 30 minutes of brooding silence. Umoru nodded and made the call.
*****

Eid el Fitr – 30th August, 2011

The day was a black day. Thousands of Nigerians lying dead as rain washed their blood from their stiff bodies.
The multiple attacks started at 9:20am and lasted through the day. The emboldened members went of a rampage, over powering the military barracks and camps in communities in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Several coordinated suicidal attacks in hospitals, markets, mosques, churches, schools, filling stations and motor parks while they raided residential areas and captured women and young girls. The live stream of the destruction brought the country to a standstill leaving the entire country in mourning.
The military had gone on the defensive leaving their posts, running into hiding as the terrorists gunned them down, taking over major towns, burning their barracks, destroying government houses, police stations and major businesses owned by states and private entities. In some communities, the soldiers surrendered willingly as they gunned them down and marched the senior officers along with their convoy.
The mosques and churches had since been blown up and now the number of displayed persons rose from 10,000 to hundreds of thousands as some fled to neighboring countries while others ran into neighboring Nigerian states before coming to the capital to seek help.
Many families separated, mothers looking for their children, fathers looking for their wives, children lost and weeping as images of persons rushing to border towns for safety filled television stations. The international community and news centers had their spot light on the crises in Nigeria leaving many calling for the resignation of the President. He had failed his first and foremost obligation – to protect every Nigerian life and property, analysts say.
In less than 24 hours, the senate had convened and the move to impeach the President began. The citizenry drove the move as the President was yet to make a statement. There was simply no word from the Executive House and people worried that he was not affected by the dastardly act or more plausible, there was nothing he could do about it. He had failed the Nigerian state and must step down. The analyst called for a military government, other called for separation of state while others simply blamed corruption and past leaders.
However a few argued that the act was an attempt to frustrate the government into submission. These few people couldn’t have been any closer to the truth but the notion of simply sabotaging the government for sake of change of power by killing thousands of Nigerians was more than a larger group of activists and Nigerians could swallow and so did what every society would. They took to the streets as they called for resignation of the President, appealed for international help and condemned the attack in the highest regard before they retired at night to take a bottle of cold beer and steaming plate of peppered assorted meat over heated debates before taking to the streets the next day.
*****

The SWAT team moved noiselessly, steadily advancing the hideout where the signal of Omoni’s phone was strong. Omoni had taken an extra phone as she had being bundled out of the house and had sent Peter a text at night, nearly 72 hours after she was allowed to go alone to the bathroom to ease herself.
She had locked herself and sent the text promising to leave the phone transmitting when he was sure the team was ready.
The text had been received after Umoru had patched Peter’s phone up the night of the attack and he had sent it immediately to Ibro. In an hour, Omoni had requested that she be allowed to ease her bowels again. Tired and irritated, the bulky man guarding her allowed her as she placed a call and left the phone on top of the WC floater and returned to the room where she waited.
One by one, the snipers took out the men guarding the facility and Jafal who sat smoking his cigar in his bedroom and wondering where Bello had disappeared to, was the last one to discover they had been discovered. The game was up.
“Where is she?” it was Ibro as the team came in, taking down Daba who was too late in drawing his gun. Ibro advanced into the room, pointing the gun at Jafal at point-blank.
“Somewhere in the building” he said totally relaxed as they cuffed him minutes later and led him out to the bullion van.
The rescue of Omoni was swift and the news of Jafal’s arrest came with the release of the names of the cabal and the tape of violence in the morning of 3rd of July, 2011. Three days after the devilish attack.
Peter had left Mubi on the eve of the blast leaving his team behind. He couldn’t stay another hour despite the threat of possible attack. He drove his bike to the nearest town, passing bodies and meeting roadblocks set up by the members of the sect. when asked who and where he was going, he simply said he had a message from Yakubu to deliver to their sponsor in Taraba state. The lie was well received and immediately they let him pass as he looked and talked like a holy warrior from Syria. He took an abandoned truck at the outskirt of Maiduguri, hot wiring it and driving for hours, stopping only to refill his tank at deserted filling stations.
He arrived Abuja 24 hours after the attack and had attached himself to the rescue team. The moment he found her seating beside the bulky man she had knocked with a stool and shot with his gun, Peter was laughing with relief as he rushed to her side. She smiled as she saw him and as she made to get up, her water broke.
“On my God, Oh my God” she was saying in a laugh as he carried her off her feet and members of the SWAT team came to secure the room.
“Is it time?” he asked as he carried her out of the house and saw his father turn to look at him before they led him away.
“I don’t care. I just want her out already” Omoni gritted her teeth at her first pull of pain.
In less than 8 hours, Peter was a proud father. His fierce baby girl was bellowing and angry at being birthed 3 days early.
“She has your eyes” Peter comforted as he watched the feisty little tyrant sucking angrily at her mother’s milk breasts.
“She sucks like you too” Omoni said as Ibro entered the room.
“Sir, the president is on the line for you” it was Ibro. Peter after the rescue had sent Ibro with the package to be delivered to the president and ordered Ibro to begin arrest of the names on the list.
“Your excellency” he said into the phone as he eyed Omoni who was making a face.
“I am indebted to you. You have saved us, the country and me” he said. One could hear the relief in his voice.
“I believe you owe thanks to a certain Naomi Mambutu” he said repeating the name the man with the limb, Ganbo had told him.
“I will find her and do so accordingly. However, I need to make this official. Seeing as I have no Vice, would you consider having my back for the next 6 years?” the President asked and Peter laughed heartily.
“I am honored Mr. President but I would rather serve than lead” he answered, looking at Omoni.
“Thank you Peter. I shall speak to you soon”
“What was that about?” Omoni eyed her husband with suspicion.
“He wanted a Vice” he said as he hugged both of them, his little one already asleep.
“And you refused” she confirmed.
“And I did”
“Good’ she answered cheerfully as he took her lips in a kiss.
*****

The recording, videos and photos had since become viral as arrests were made from all spheres. Kudirat Bello had been found dead in her house with a suicide note. The arrest of the service chiefs, his Special Adviser – Nurudeen Soyemi, Vice president – Akin Jolojolo, Jafal Asiedu and the well-respected Cleric shook the country amidst cheers of victory. Bello Badmus had since gone missing but to the populace, he was dead.
He was nowhere to be found and Peter knew he still had his work cut out for him. But Bello could wait. His family was paramount and Omoni wouldn’t hear of it. Perhaps in future he told himself as he watched his wife and baby sleep several days after they were discharged from the hospital.
The country turned vicious after initial celebration taking into the streets, armed and advancing on properties of the arrested men and destroying their businesses and properties. The wives, children and relatives of the evil men were rounded up too and brought in for questioning, Debola and Laide Bello inclusive. The Castle was flooded into by angry youths and it took the intervention of the Police to restore calm after burning buildings.
With appointment of new service chiefs, the quick clean of the Boko Haram group was swift. The funding had been stopped and French supplier caught while international help from the U.S, A.U, French and German countries poured. Analysts began a new discourse and the vote of confidence in the President increased as his impeachment proceedings came to a halt.
The new change brought about a change in war tactics and the flush of fleeing Boko Haram members from their camps revealed women and children held under captivity while several hundred members of the sect were killed and over two thousand captured awaiting trial.
And for the first time since Nigeria’s independence, the country was truly one.
*****

Epilogue

Venice, Italy – September, 2011
His sweet insistent tugging of her brown nipples made her toes curl with excitement, heart racing.
“Stop it” Charity stressed pushing him from her exposed breasts.
“I can’t. You make me sane” Victor tickled, pressing his length down her thighs
“My grandmother is right inside” Charity begged as she tried to leave his arms.
“Not until I have you wife” he said hotly before planting himself in her warmth. The words forming on her lips died a natural death as she welcomed him, holding on to him in the private pool as they enjoyed their first as a married couple.
*****

Nigeria, September, 2011
Florence watched as the private helicopter took off from the helipad and gave a small smile thumbing the remote in her hand.
“Goodbye Bello” she said as she pressed the button and the helicopter in the distance blew into pieces. It was only befitting that Bello Badmus died in flames, a bomb blast.

*****

Seme Border – September, 2011
The man in dirty rags crossing the Benin Republic border attracted little attention. He was sitting in the white bus with little luggage and as they were stopped and told to come down for routine checks, he came down and smiled at the patrol guard with the big head and flappy ears.
“Oga mi, abeg give me small money for bread naw” the patrol guard joked when it was his turn.
“Na you suppose give me some money” the man said in terrible pidgin.
“Where are you going?” the patrol man asked as he watched the dirty man, his face familiar.
“I am going to Cotonou” he replied in good English.
“Where is your passport?” the patrol man asked suddenly in haste to continue his search of other passengers as he saw a new car arrived at the border.
“I have it here” he said going to bring it out.
“Go, go, go” he waved the man away as he noticed his colleague approach the new car.
The man in rags smiled as he walked back to the bus and took his seat, scratching his fake horse beard with a deep satisfied smile on his face.
“Adebayor Kokoro Philips indeed” he muttered under his breath as Bello chuckled watching the patrol guard in rear mirror pocket clean crispy notes and waved the new car past, his private thoughts returning to him. His little Sekinat and Daba must have exploded in his private plane, he smiled wearily at his erection. Florence had won in the end, but did she really win? He asked himself humorously.
The old white bus continued its journey steadily and every mile, every hour took Bello closer to his destination – freedom, a new man. A man who could do as he pleased with his Cayman island account. Perhaps he could buy his company back, perhaps he could find Florence or find a new pastime. He chuckled at the revelation. He could do anything he wanted. Anything.
Whoever said evil did not prevail? Especially if he were wise like the ant who saved for rainy days.

THE END

*****
M.O.T.I.V.E.S is written by;
Uneñ Ameji
Author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger on Amazon.com
See new book Love on the 25th on Okadabooks http://goo.gl/hmsKnv
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M.O.T.I.V.E.S Episode 7 – @UnenAmeji

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And this week’s episode is here! If you have not been following the story, you should.

M.O.T.I.V.E.S, a story set in old and modern day Nigeria, is a riveting, stimulating, suspense-filled tale of a myriad of absorbing characters with Unen Ameji’s fluid style of delivering engaging stories of greed, love, lust and power that leaves her audience on the edge of their seats, guessing and usually clamoring for more.

The story features Nigerian Tycoon and powerhouse Bello Badmus. A man who gave power as he willed, a man who controlled Presidents, a man who put men and monsters in seats of power; Florence Ohiemi aka Naomi Mambutu and her identical evil twin Josephine Ohiemi aka KudiraT Sadika Bello who are ever in battle of wills – good and evil, where evil prevails.

In a thrilling twist, the events likened to a classic game of chess sees each piece on the board take power and lose it and take it all over again. An illusion of power, an illusion of control.

It’s dark, it’s unpredictable, it’s M.O.T.I.V.E.S

Read all Episodes here

****
Uneñ Ameji’s Note
This is purely a work of fiction. Names, Characters, Places and Incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business and government establishments, events and locales is entirely coincidental. While the State Security Service and Boko Haram insurgency is mentioned, all event are mere imaginations and projections of the author.

Episode 7

Peter Osagie – Acting Director General DDSS, June – 2011
“Please” a silent plea for release, quivering and breathless from an orgasm long overdue. An orgasm that was fast becoming molten heat traveling the length of her body before settling on her swollen sensitive pink nipples, in between her wet pulsating vaginal lips and on the tips of her impeccably painted red toes. Her mouth opened in breathless rapture, her hands firmly gripping the white bedsheets as she rode the storm that was coming.
“Not.. yet, not……yet” it was a slow murmur spoken in between wet gasps of pleasure from the man underneath. Warm, regulated and yet soft, the air around their torso interpreting the fucking motion that was threatening a crescendo, none was ready to experience, but simply could not put off any further. He felt his resolve dissolve at the same time she let out a wail of pleasure, melting into uncontrollable orgasm that left her juddering like a lone leaf in December harmattan. Her explosive cry of release triggered the pent up orgasm in his spine as he wildly let go of the hot molten essence in his sacs into her.

It had always been like this between them from the moment they had set eyes on each other. They had decided it was just physical but after eight months of intense relationship and animalistic coupling in the strangest of places, Peter popped the big question. He had never met a kinkier, flexible, sexier woman and he’d be damned if he didn’t make her his.
Peter Osagie, acting Director General of the DDSS, now cuddling his 6 months pregnant wife of 8 years remembered the first time he had seen her. Bold golden brown eyes, generous heart-shaped lips and impossibly firm tipped breasts in white T-shirt and Khaki shorts that exposed her incredibly long legs.
His blood had grown unbearably hot when he had entered the Assessment room where the new recruits were standing for formal introduction to all the senior officers before their posting to various states. The 12 months intensive training program had come to an end and as the Regional Supervisor in charge of the recruitment of discreet and diligent Nigerian citizens for the DDSS, he had gone to appraise the final 50 who proved themselves diligent and fearless for integration and he had found her, Omoni O.Omoni, the only girl in the group of 50.
When his eyes had found hers, his nose flared at her scent as he came to stand in front of her. She looked back at him passively but without fear or interest; and while her colleagues bowed their heads after few seconds of eye contact with the tall domineering man with grey airs and ungroomed dark beards against what she referred to as Mulatto skin, she boldly stared at him until he was forced to move away from her. A small smile that refused to make it to her lips appeared in her eyes.
He left Kaduna with the lusty thoughts of her set mouth, delicately slim nose and remarkable golden brown piercing eyes kept him up that night and for the first time in over 8 years in the DDSS, he effected her posting to North Central, to the Capital City and to his command without regards to experience. He simply wanted her where he could monitor her, where he was closer to her.
Omoni knew the tall Mulatto carried a touch for her and she found it amusing mostly because of his reputation of being a hard ass and slave driver. She, however wasn’t interested in his subtle advances because she knew exactly what it took for her to get into the DDSS without leg. She simply couldn’t be involved and completely ignored him. This irritated Peter to no end. Her smiles were for everyone except him. Omoni secretly admired the man for getting job done despite the rumor that he was a bastard, ruthless and distrusting. Her last and only relationship had ended when her childhood love had been gunned down in her street in Port Harcourt, caught in between gang war. He was coming straight from the airport to see her after 10 years in the States. Peter turned from subtle to blatant wooing not caring for the smack remarks about him from his subordinates. Notwithstanding she kept a firm stance.
He was everywhere she looked and soon her China walls began to crack. His stares made her hot all over and whenever she caught his eyes wandering down her body – which was often, she felt like he had undressed her and tickled her all over. She would go home to human-operated fingers for good old relief. It soon became a daily occurrence and as sickening as that was, she barely could contain the excitement of going to work – just to be undressed with piercing grey eyes.
The first raid however would seal their fate.

*****

It was like every other raid but this time something went wrong. A mole in their unit leaked the raid to the group of criminals on the Interpol watch who were wanted for war crimes in Sudan. The ambush that awaited them took the lives of eight of his best men and he was shot on his shoulders. Omoni and the group of six assigned outside had an uncanny feeling and had climbed the broken down fence at the back of the house adjacent to the building where the criminals were. The incapacious bungalow in the extremely quiet Government Reserve Area in Benin City was undoubtedly the perfect hideout. After a few yards, at a bend, she saw a truck parked and a suspicious hooded man at the wheels. She plugged her earpiece and started on a careless jog like a resident. She slowed down to tie her boots and started again, taking the turn before removing her shoe and sneaking up on the truck when she heard gone shots and was torn between going to the house as back up or wait to pursue. The man at the same time started the truck engine. She climbed into the back of the truck covered in trampoline and buried herself in the pile of dirty linen stained with human blood and discarded carton of white foam as the driver moved the car. Footsteps alerted her of people approaching and she stilled as persons jumped into the truck and the truck sped off.
“Why did you carry him?” it was one of the persons at the back of the truck struggling to drop a body, breathing hard and fast.
“Because we need him” it was a quiet answer from another.
“I hope they don’t come for him” it was the same voice.
The truck drove for hours before entering untarred road that had them galloping for several meters before stopping at the foot of a blasted rock. They were at a Quarry in Lokoja. She remained in the truck until dead in the night. New persons arrived at the camp and carried four men along, leaving two guards to keep watch of the hostage.
With hands and legs cuffed, Peter looked at the site and noticed a power bike belonging to one the guards.
Later, Peter would remember the faint sounds of foots approaching, a gun exchange and seeing her face in the moonlight. Hurried but swift, she shot the cuffs off his feet and hands before pulling him up to where they mounted the power bike and drove all night to Abaji, stopping at gas station to top the tank until his strength failed him and she had found a roadside motel along the expressway. Both of them had slept off the moment their heads touched the bed. Eight hours later, he woke up just at dusk to see her eyes looking into his. He gave a faint smile and for the first time, she smiled back.
“You had me worried there” she said quietly, watching him. She had redressed the gun wound at his shoulder while she waited for him to wake up. The wound was deep but thankfully the bullet had a clean pass.
“I am sorry” he croaked, returning a smile. He tried to sit up and failed. The kick one of the criminals delivered to his midsection was raw and the pain made him doubled over.
“Where are we?” he asked after he lay down back.
“Some lodge. The receptionist was pretty much helpful” she laughed at his question and he laughed back.
“Female?” he teased and she blessed him with another of her dazzling smiles, standing up.
“Naturally” she answered as she made to get up with her back to him. Without knowing when he moved, his good hand circled her waist and she slapped them away playfully.
“Stay. Stay with me” he asked softly with longing in his eyes and she stayed and fucked him.
The next bust of the same criminals was successful after Peter and his squad met gave wrong information to the footmen and staged pseudo operation that led to identifying the mole – Garba. Garba after he was caught led the team to make an easy arrest of the criminals frolicking with local women in their new hideout in Ajaokuta. It was the perfect mission and they returned to the capital city with criminals to parade before handing them to the police and Interpol as was customary.
That was the beginning of the hot affair that quickly escalated to a relationship that had Peter intimidating other male colleagues that found her attractive. He couldn’t stand the attention, the eyes that settled on her like his did nor did he find it remotely funny that she made him purposely jealous by refusing to be tagged as his woman. She would go out with different men to taunt him and he would fume and parade his house like a caged tiger, throwing things and smashing glass cups on the wall. When he saw her again, he would let loose his anger, jealous and possessiveness on her hot spot but it was not enough. There was only one way to make her his and he had married her after 8 months. For a man who vowed to live a single life, Peter had failed.
That was 8 years ago.
Eight years since she refused a normal life until he finally got her pregnant. He smiled at the thought.
“I love you” he murmured into her neck, sniffing her scent and withdrawing from her. Trailing kisses down her neck to her shoulders, gently biting her neck and spooning her. She was quiet.
“I have to leave for Mubi tomorrow” he said gravely as he held her for several minutes wondering how to explain his promotion all over again.
His boss – Mr. Igwe Mbaka sacked by the President who was erstwhile passive in the bomb blast and security challenges in the North East had appointed him the acting Director General and had requested a private meeting with only him few days later. A meeting that would change the face of the DDSS and their jurisdiction. What the President was asking of the Agency has never been done but as the President has gravely revealed, the country was on the verge of a coup and not even the service chiefs were to be trusted.
“I have heard you have a trusted man in the Boko Haram camp” it was the President, heavy and sad. Peter was momentarily tempted to deny it but simply nodded.
“Good. Our people are in trouble. The unity of Nigeria lies in your hands Mr. Osagie. You must do all you can to get those behind the boys or Nigeria as we all know it is over” the President had told him with a tired look in his chambers.
The next day, in a surprising move the President ordered the relocation of the command center to Gwoza, the hotbed of the terrorists activities but had called him on a secure line to ask for help. He said he was placing all he had in him.
Peter couldn’t refuse a national call. Now more than ever, he had to serve but Omoni was not impressed.
As far as she was concerned, the President was sending her husband into the vipers den. The arguments had turned from hot to tears and back to hot again until both had given up on changing each others mind. If he wanted to go, Omoni decided she’d let him.
“Be careful” was all she said after he got up butt naked and walked over to the bathroom. His decision to go undercover with only three of his trusted men to Gwoza left her feeling afraid. How easy was it for him to go and die in the name of serving his country instead of staying with her and their son? In a desperate attempt to change his mind, she had gotten an ultrasound to derail him but knowing he had a son didn’t stop the plans he made all day and all night. If anything, it fueled his zeal to get his boys underway.
Peter’s thoughts several days up to the moment were solely of one man, Bello Badmus. He knew in his gut that the unrest in the region lay with the man and if ghost could be found, he wanted to.
To Peter, it all didn’t add up.
Dying mysteriously.
Getting blown up.
Disinheriting his family.
It simply was too easy to swallow.
The Presidential order to move the command center that was untimely and with the President calling for help, Peter’s gut itched some more. It reeked of Bello Badmus’s military style of overthrowing men in power but even he knew that dead men have no bite. Voicing the suspicion to his already distressed wife and trusted men would only make him sound desperate and disillusioned.
“Who would want to kill a dead man? Who would want to use a dead man to kill more birds? Who would benefit from a dead man? His new heir?” he asked himself again and again, in writing and when staring at the ceiling in his study. The boy had not even existed until the last couple of weeks and after investigation, he was squeaky clean. If anything, it looked like a perfect stage and a puppet to distract the country from what was really going on behind the curtain.
Peter knew if he sniffed some more or connected the dots properly, he would find the pattern that would reveal who or least a clue to who or what was behind the insurgency in the North East and the call to move the command center. He was absolutely sure it had everything to do with the bombing but for the first time in 15 years in service, he had nothing sitting in his study or office. The answer was in Gwoza and he was going to get it.
When Farah’s note had reached him a day after his secret meeting with the President, it was all he needed to put the team together. The note as usual was sown into wraps of multicolored turbans. It was the only way to communicate and Farah, his mole in the Boko Haram camp hinted how he fared by how squeezed the dirty piece of brown carbon paper was and this time, the piece of note was wrung out.
Farah – Mohammed Abdirahman a freshly recruited DDSS officer had volunteered way early in the start of the uprising to get information about the group but had gotten stuck. The group grew fiercely and when the first proxy of unnamed sponsor had shown up in their camp at night 4 years ago Farah, who by now was a trusted pioneering and senior member knew he had to stay to get the faces of the men behind the group exposed. He could only leave the camp in pretense of scouting for local recruits and gathering intelligence for their next hit. He would then smuggle reports in turbans through his old Uncle to Peter.
Once he was caught with Turbans and when he was questioned rather bloodily, he said it was his ritualistic symbol in recruiting and inviting sympathizers to join the brotherhood. Yakubu – the head of the group was particularly proud of Farah’s innovation because he sent more turbans than other fighters. He was truly a worker of Allah and Farah was once again promoted to be his right hand man. However, things were getting tensed and Farah knew his time was near.
Peter was going to Gwoza to get Farah back. He owed him.

*****

The scalding hot water from the newly installed shower left Peter partly burnt and relaxed but it did nothing to stop the uneasiness and nagging feeling of sabotage.
Kole Bello had since been found dead with his throat slashed open in an apartment in the U.K. That also made headlines but it was one less maze to go through.
The Intel that the youngest of the Bellos recruited fighters from countries in the North especially Libya, Sudan and Egypt to train fighters from Nigeria and neighboring countries was the reason he had requested for Kole’s intial arrest and subsequent tailing at his father’s funeral only to be smuggled out by his mother few hours after the blast.
Farah in the last one year had steadily reported the activity of the young man and the fallout between Kole and Yakubu because Kole had started demanding some form of payment and the head was not going to pay because he was a medium. This Intel coincided with the information that Bello Badmus had tightened funds to his children for over six months. At the time Peter was optimistic that Bello may have found out his son was funding the group and was doing all he could to stop it. In fact Peter praised him quietly but when Kole’s drug smuggling activities reached its zenith with law enforcement agencies releasing Kole and his boys on Bello’s order, Peter took back his goodwill and started on the best way to cut Kole’s funding of the group.
Peter had suspected Kole was responsible for his father’s mysterious death and the bomb blast as soon as the news broke. The autopsy that had been boycotted by the family on religious ground and the eventual blow up was to Peter a perfect cover up of the murder. That had been 4 months ago. Now Peter knew for sure that Kole, like the new puppet at The Castle was a distraction and that the blow up was indeed a way to kill the dignitaries for a specific purpose than just a random terrorist attack.
The Boko boys took responsibility for the bomb blast as was expected but Farah had reported differently. Farah reported that on the day of the attack, they were raiding a community for new girls for breeding of holy warriors to continue in the fight. He reported that Yakubu had received a call and staged a recording to take responsible for the attack before spewing out other rubbish and once again warning other government officials of their continuance to serve a godless country, a country that Allah was going to redeem by spilling their blood.
Now as he dressed in his favorite clean Jeans and black sweater, he watched his wife stare at him the whole time he moved about to get ready.
“I will be back soon” he said when he finally drew her up to hug her and kiss her eyes brimming with unshed tears.
“Make sure you do or I’d be forced to come get you” she teased painfully before succumbing to his kisses once more. The sound of the horn separated them as he picked his bag pack and walked to join his three-man team.
Watching him go was one of the hardest thing she had ever done in her life. But she had to. She knew he was like a dog with a bone and until he got to the end, he would not rest.
The tears finally found their way down in lone streams as she prayed that he come back to her and their baby alive and whole. And when she blinked after the Hilux disappeared from sight, it poured.

*****
7-Man: Meeting at The Elephant, June 2011.

The calm in the room was the best they had since the new faction of seven greedy, powerful and dangerous men decided to take laws into their hands and execute their former members who went out of line. To them, actions to bring the cabal to order was betrayal and former members had paid with their lives. Each man seated in the large airy white room had one agenda and it was on who was going to be the next person to take the seat of government. The head of the faction with the deep voice searched their eager faces and refrained from laughing at their gullibility. It excited him and amused him tirelessly at how they thought they stood a chance against him. He was destined to be the next President of the country. Greedy they were but they all served his purpose – but not for long. He knew first hand what fall-out factions were capable of. They were all seated and relaxed. Some had been served drinks by his aide and the light conversation in the room soon turned serious.
“The new order of the Executive must be watched at every step. We cannot afford the mission to succeed. We have gone too far now to get a simple order forestall our plan to get the President out” it was Jafal Kartar Asiedu to the men and woman who faced him the moment he opened his mouth.
Mostly referred to as J.K Asiedu in the media, Jafal was former general and war veteran. He had served on the Nigerian side in the civil war and later headed the ECOMOG mission in Liberia rumored to have populated the region with over thousands of children from the Nigerian and Ghanian troops and had committed war crimes from summary executions to bribery, extortions and abusing women and children. He had the ambition to govern the country but luck or chance never came to his door. Now he had gone to the door of the Executive Mansion to hijack the seat. His Pastor told him to take it by force because God’s kingdom suffered violent. It was a case of who was strong enough to take it and by God, he was.
He was not a man of the people and the populace knew him for the war crimes also attributed to his Command during the Civil war. J.K was singlehandedly responsible for over 50, 000 Biafrans lives at the Gulf and when he was called to answer for his crimes, he had simply thrown his commanding officers under the ICC bus. They were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment until a new Attorney General of the International Criminal Court had been appointed and made a deal with the prisoners. They were to get full immunity in turn for their cooperation to name the men who had massacred and committed war crimes during the civil war.
The warden on duty found them shot in the head the next day in Dutch prison in Scheveningen where they had been temporarily transferred and detained. Where there was no evidence or witness, there was no justice. That was the problem with justice, it almost always never has no witness when it mattered the most.
He had called the emergency meeting after the President ordered the relocation of the command center to Gwoza and receiving a $140 million fund from supporting countries in the fight against terrorism. While the populace celebrated the new show of force by the Aso man – as he called the lizard in the Executive mansion, they had no idea that the directive came from the men that be, the men that owned the country and they were only two of them.
“We have that covered. The Service Chiefs are well aware of what is at stake. They are in line with the plan” it was Benedict Onwuka Njoku, the Vice president who wanted power by all means necessary and had since joined forces with the new faction members to remove the Aso man, the lizard. Jafal nodded at his enthusiasm and took a drink.
“I understand your husband disinherited you?” the question was directed at the only woman in the group of seven. The meeting had also been called in honor of her. She was perceived by the rest of the group as the hero that had made their plans easier to execute but like vipers, they waited patiently for the day they would toss her out like the garbage that she was. It was only a matter of time before it was her turn to be sacrificed.
“I find it rather unworthy of attention. The boy is nothing but an old mistake and I have it under control” the woman who sat in place of Mrs. Kudirat Bello said confidently, answering his question of being disinherited by her late husband, Bello Badmus.
“You mean like you had Bello and his repentant snakes under control” it was the lily-livered member smiling like a stranded kangaroo in Parque Zoológico Caricuao.

The plan to take over the seat of government was simple.
1. Increase the spate of killings by funding the terrorists.
2. Deploy ineffective troops.
3. Embezzlement of the $140million.
4. Stage a war breakout.
5. Overthrow the Government
6. Vanquish Boko Haram.
With the plan, it wouldn’t be long before the people called for the impeachment of the President and when that happened, the Chiefs would declare a state of emergency and take over government while the Senior Adviser to the President, the old goat Nurudeen Soyemi would silently execute the President and his backstabbing Vice. J.K was not sure Nurudeen could carry out a simple drugging of their drinks but sometimes even old goats had their uses.
The simplicity of the plan and foolish ignorant faces of the men sitting before almost caused Jafal to laugh out loud. It was all set and with the recent move of the command center, the stakes were raised higher and the blood bath that was coming was one that was going to leave the country in national mourning for a long time. He wondered who ICC was going to witch-hunt next.

“We don’t mean to pry but we must make sure there are no issues on that front. The contracts awarded to your late husband by the present government will well serve our purposes of recruiting more local and international fighters and need I remind everyone of the black market prices of these weapons? The French are bastards” it was Jafal playing the advocate.
Florence Ohiemi sat in that meeting with so much confidence that she frightened herself at the length she was willing to go to get her revenge. She knew the faces of the men in the room and it pained her dearly that these were the man responsible for senseless blood bath and unrest in the country.
It was the night after she returned from where she held Kudirat. Bello had left her to her devices but he had suggested she find more clues to help with her mission at Kudirat’s private residence. It was more than a welcomed suggestion and Florence had gone to the simple 2 bedroom bungalow surrounded by exotic plants in the heart of town. The Gardener who greeted her profusely said she had a message and she had found a note neatly attached to the letter of consolation from the Major General J.K Asiedu on her sister’s large mahogany desk in her study.
On opening the letter, a note fell out and on it was a call for an emergency meeting stating the time, date and venue on a plain sheet of paper. The address of the venue was clearly stated. That was enough to raise her curiosity and alertness. Florence knew a set up when she saw one. If indeed Josephine was involved with the high and dangerous, the address of what she suspected was a meeting of the infamous cabal would not be clearly stated on a plain sheet of paper. It would be coded.
Florence knew the smell of a fish and the letter was a stinking fish.
Perhaps they knew she had Josephine in hiding? Where her friends in high places monitoring her or Josephine in her usual fashion had more enemies than one could possibly have.
There was only one way to find out.
Arriving at the meeting at the ungodly hour stated was expected but the brief look of triumph across the Major General’s face gave Florence cause for concern. It looked like he was in on something that the rest of the group wasn’t aware and she was set to find out.
The faces of two notorious Ex-governors, Vice president, Deputy Senate president and well-respected Cleric shocked her but she had quickly feigned a cough as they all gathered round to toast to her success. Success in killing people was toasted here and Florence joined in drinking to hundreds of lives blown apart.
She smiled as she thought of Bello and slightly shuddered with pleasure at the thought of going back to his hide out in his estate.
“We will feel better once the boy is taken out of the picture” it was the well-respected Cleric interrupting her thoughts.
“I have it under control” Florence reiterated dangerously – as Josephine would and she saw them smile in satisfaction. She had no idea that she said the same thing Josephine said before Bello had been killed and the bomb had gone off few months after. Of course, she was the only one in the group to know that Bello was alive and well. She smiled at the thought.
“I am sure. This time, we don’t have three months. We need him to go quietly. Perhaps an accident? Random shootings is my favorite. Let us know if there are problems” Jafal said with good humor and they laughed as his treacherous eyes settled on her bosoms.
“If I could take care of Bello, I am utterly upset at doubting my stance on the boy” she hissed playfully after the laugh ended as if she was insulted and they all nodded their agreement.
“You all will have news in the next days about his untimely demise. However, we must contact the sellers immediately to have more guns for the boys. I’d also like to propose negotiating new arrangements. Extortion by way of high price of weaponry is not going to work for me. Should the French bastards refuse our terms, I have contacts in Syria that can get sophisticated guns for the boys. I for one think the tipping point for the new government is just a matter of force and more blood” Florence was getting into character and she found it exhilarating. It was surprising how easily one got into the role but she wasn’t amazed at her performance. She knew to get the information, she have to play the part. Impersonating Kudirat was a walk in the park.
“You will be coming with me to Dubai next week to meet them. We don’t want to stress a newly widowed and disinherited member but what must be done must be done” Jafal stated with dry humor as he declared the meeting closed and the group filed out after small talks in pairs of two while Jafal’s eyes kept resting on hers as the group cleared out of the room.
If Florence wasn’t getting ahead of herself, she noticed he was smiling unnecessarily, readily agreeing to her suggestions and making plans to taking her with him on couple of meetings. Akin Jolojolo, one of the ex-Vice Presidents obviously his right hand stewed on his foot and when he was dismissed for a private meeting with Florence, he all but stormed out as gracefully as he could.
“I should get to work. Some accidents need to happen” she said in a smile, declining his invitation as he raised his hand to her chin.
“It is not appropriate” Florence held his hand and dropped it firmly.
“I would have found you weak if you agreed. We need your new step-boy gone and soon. Daba!” he barked loudly as if he wasn’t ogling her moments prior. Immediately the door opened to reveal the man called Daba and she was ushered out of the hall, leaving a little chip behind.

*****
Bello Badmus: The Elephant, June 2011

He watched as she left his 15 room mansion with enough grounds to develop a couple of structures if he wanted but he didn’t. He liked to walk from his helipad to the house. It was one of such properties one owned just for pleasures like this. He had chaired their meeting from his study. He watched the vultures try to get favors from Jafal and watched Florence impersonate her sister to perfection. How classic. He felt like a god in handling of affairs of the State and as he came downstairs, he saw his best friend, Jafal sitting with a glass of brandy, in deep thoughts.
“Easy on the thoughts” he laughed easily coming to take the seat Florence was sitting just for a feel of her scent and the thought of dominance. The grand master and ace game player, he felt invincible.
“So how did you see her performance?” it was Bello taking a mouthful of his glass of brandy.
“If you had not told me it was your wife’s twin sister, I would have fallen for her acting” it was Jafal in his usual deep voice.
“She is good. Very good” he said almost in admiration.
“Spare me master player. You faked your own death, blew up your old friends and set Kudirat take fall for it. You killed your son to keep him from talking after using his identity to import arms and he found out he was fronting for his own father….and to top it all got this new piece fine woman to go into retirement with” he said in a low laugh generating from his throat wickedly.
“Point of correction, he wasn’t my son. After all the monies him and the others enjoyed, I had to get something from him. I have you to thank for my wife’s brilliant idea to kill me. I must say it was the right kind of creativity we needed to pull it off” he chuckled enjoying the rare praise for his bosom friend.
“And the other two from George?” Jafal asked
“Oh well, remind me to send Daba to trail my new retirement piece. I need get rid of them before they squeal and for some reasons she likes to think she has things under control” he drank heavily and chuckled again. The thought that Florence would think herself smart was admirable and stupid. Of course he knew who Naomi Mambutu was. He wasn’t Bello Badmus for nothing. Investing in his company was so sweet and innocent that he had staged an accident meet in a beach she favored in Seychelles. Oh the poor woman. He really loved her innocence and sighs of pleasure. It was not like the first time but she was the purest he could find. She would do for retirement. She seems to like beaches.
“So what is next?” Jafal asked as Bello got up to refill his glass. Jafal stretched his frame and brought out a cut cigar from his pocket and lighting it expertly before dragging it to his fill.
“Well, making you the President is not as easy as I thought. I had to kill myself” Bello all but grunted.
“You owe me” Jafal smiled referring to saving Bello’s life when he had been hired to assassinate over a decade ago. It had been the first time the two would meet and become good friends.
“I don’t think so. I have paid my dues and you on your own now” Bello smiled as he took his seat, Florence’s seat.
“Not when my boy is still after me” Jafal said almost sadly.
“I can’t help that your illegitimate son has decided to become a torn in your flesh” Bello drank from his glass.
Jafal, a prominent philanderer in his days had fathered his bastard son with an Irish maiden who had taken to a black man as moth to flame. It was invariable she got burnt with black seed. Nathaniel Asiedu now Peter Osagie was indeed a torn and now more than ever, he had everything to lose if his son, now the acting Director General got his nose in the grind.
Peter had taken up the name of his great grandparents and dissociated himself from his father the moment he was old enough to know who his father was. He was everything Peter didn’t want to be and from the moment he left the house at 12 years of age to stay with his maternal grandparent, he began a career that would bring men like his father to justice. Men like his father didn’t deserve to be left to their devices but put behind bars.
Father and son knew there was no lost love but Jafal had a soft spot for his son and he hated being put in the position to eliminate because he would. He made sure his dealings with the underworld were kept away from his son but Peter liked the dark side.
“You do realize if I go down, you go down” Jafal warned as he dragged his cigar and blew the smoke in rings watching his friend.
“You forget that I am already dead. You, my friend must be firm and extremely careful. All fingers point to you now” Bello said
“Not if I pointed them to your new squeeze. Tell me, how do you get these women to trust you implicitly?” Jafal asked brightly after a while, suddenly forgetting his distrust and cautiousness when it came to Bello. They were friends but one could never be sure with Bello Badmus.
“She thinks her sister is the new devil. She has been practically in love with me forever. Not that hard if you are lovable” Bello laughed a boyishly.
“And the boy she is supposed to kill? Is he not your son, her son?” Jafal took a lazy drag.
“Her son. I am still new to the fathering table. I am sure she is going to hide him again but this time, not from me, not for long”
“You intend to kill your son?” Jafal was shocked at the evil look that came over Bello’s clouded eyes and for the first time saw the monster that sat before him.
“How else am I going to get the control of my company back?” Bello emptied his glass.
“But when you get rid of him, Florence takes over” Jafal contended
“No” it was emphatic.
“Who then takes over?”
“You” Bello answered with a sly.
“And what happens to Florence?”
“Every good thing comes to an end, sadly” he added as an afterthought and as soon as he said it, the two men looked at themselves and broke out in loud shattering laughter that rang across the empty mansion obliviously to the chip planted in between the sofa of the chair where Florence had sat down and straight into the ears of the woman who sat in her car few streets away from the house.
The cold pimples that sprouted on her arms as she listened and the wet tears that threatened to drop was stopped just in time as she joined them in the loud shattering belly-filling laughter.
There was no end of betrayal and her suspicious had proved right.
Bello Badmus, how sweet his fall would be.
“Why is the fall of great men orchestrated by women always the sweetest?” she asked herself sweetly still coming down from the laugh as she drove to Kudirat, the recorded discussion in her possession.
After 30 days in Avianwu-replica, Kudirat was ready to play ball.
And somehow, Florence was sure Josephine was really going to enjoy playing this ball.
They say the best revenge was served cold, Florence thought the best revenge was served in painful small chops.

*****
*****

M.O.T.I.V.E.S is written by;
Uneñ Ameji
Author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger on Amazon.com
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Love on the 25th. Episode 14

Read Previous Episodes of Love on the 25th by Uneñ Ameji Here

****
Debbie

After two days of partial silent treatment and shared dinner, Kole had taken to going out at night just after dinner and coming back to sit in my room just before dawn like some possessed sleepwalker. The first time was scary, waking up to him looking at me intensely from the sofa where he sat unmoving. Kole wasn’t dying; he had simply conned me into signing papers which meant he was a lily-livered designer cum investor who couldn’t ask a woman to marry him the traditional way and I was the power monger who wanted the title. I had gotten myself in a tight corner and I thought I didn’t have much to lose but he had quickly corrected me of that notion. I was of the opinion that if he wanted to take an ‘invalid’ document to court to contest, he could go right ahead knowing the media sharks were always circling but then I came to realize that was a move he would not hesitate to initiate.
“There is no such thing as bad publicity” he said when I stressed contesting the validity of signed agreement in court, throwing smart words like duress, witness and stamping. He had laughed and enjoyed the one sided legal argument.
“Don’t sweat it love. You cheated few days to our wedding with your lover under my roof in my bed! There is no judge who would rule in your favour and trust I’d ask for the clean-out damages. I am Kole McGregor after all…I don’t do small cases” and he had fed me some more minced meat at dinner.
“You mean no judge you buy” I corrected.
“More like a judge who is an African” and he had licked the fork with my mouth on it. All hot talks of challenging the validity of that stupid agreement were gone. This had to be done out of the legal house especially not with a blind Lady Justice presiding. I had to find a loophole and fast.
Talks of pending nuptials and exclusive interview kept him excited and naturally egoistical. The sleeping picture of his ‘bride’ had made several blogs and soft sells as threatened – a flattering sleeping picture of me with hair slightly covering my eyes in nothing but a flimsy night wear at the first ray of natural light. Although not enough to figure out whose face it was, the picture generated lots of dirty, hurtful, unimpressive comments and I realized how jobless, judgmental and mean people actually were. Surprisingly unaffected, I didn’t care if a clearer picture made it online. It was time to come out of hiding and live a life without constantly looking over my shoulders. I wanted to be found.
Vince…I had a great time with Vince…mind blowing sex with Vince. Understating what had happened few nights ago was unbelievable and absolutely hot. I still had mini orgasms thinking of him and had a harder time stopping my hands from going downwards. He was constantly in my thoughts and they weren’t of purest form…was he thinking of me as much as I thought of him? I couldn’t bring myself to answer his calls, texts and emails…he wanted me alright but was he right for me? How long were we going to have mind-blowing sex? He was definitely going to watch the exclusive interview Kole was bent on having and I wondered briefly if he would have a reaction – perhaps jealousy. It was best to let the hormones cool off. He was probably with Sandra…she said they were getting comfortable with each other anyways. I surmised he was calling because he was a ‘gentleman’ and most probably wanted a repeat. I didn’t mind a repeat but I wanted more…more he couldn’t give. There was no point in a fruitless venture.
Staying with Kole despite his ‘blackmail’ was different for a change. No businesses to fuss over, no calls to make, no meetings to attend…, series of light-hearted discussions lined with thick sarcasms and small laughs at arguments. It was a friendship and it was good. Making the most out of the agreement was a constant thought but his secrecy on night outings and mixed signals in wanting me didn’t make it stick. I had the nagging feeling that something was amiss but what?
Without much to do after four days, I had opened a twitter account and barely able to ‘function’, Kole offered to ‘help’ me and mentioned me as his ‘bride’ for a follow back. In few hours, I had over a thousand followers. Congratulatory messages, hate messages and demands for follow backs flooded my phone. These people were ruthless and I feared for my sanity. A lady whose name (handle I later came to know) was @SexyFingers brutally defended my ‘leaked’ picture after someone called me a business wh*oe. I was sceptical on following her back but when I did, she was all about submitting her designs for a look by Kole. Kole without surprise had a @SexyFinger following him who ‘defended’ him but he never followed back. I promised to get back to her.
More checks on the subject of Kole McGregor’s wedding and Sandra’s BBM messages brought links to articles on Kole McGregor and his new ‘bride’ – Debbie Black. Terms like unknown, raunchy, recluse, shy, financial queen were used to describe me and while I enjoyed the facelessness of it all, I knew it wasn’t long before the interview which was in-house would erase the air of mystery. The traffic of humans preparing the house and my face for the ‘great’ interview was enough to drive me up the wall and when it was time, I barely could recognize myself. I looked like some foreign specimen and I had to commend the make-up artist who had transformed me into what could grace the cover of Vogue. She simply asked that I convert that to a mention on twitter! ‘Hia! dis twitter have turned holy grail’
The bright lights, the beautiful set, the brilliant smiles, the eager backstage attendants and the seemingly happy soon-to-be-groom sitting beside me as the padded host crossed and uncrossed her legs, looking for the perfect pose. It was the picture-perfect setting that made sure your past came knocking and I was ready to open my door. I had come a long way to the top and was beyond abuse but I wondered just how many people would watch me lie effortlessly on international Television and when the articles on the new ‘Business Bride’ would start making headlines. Will the murder of a faceless rapist make it to the tabloids? What of my evil step mother and my birth mother who abandoned me? My shameless father who couldn’t stand up for me? My first husband who works in a restaurant and had a missing hand? Or my abusers who kept at it until I had lost hope of salvation? A deep breath and with a long practiced smile plastering my made-up face, the signal came on and the questions as rehearsed came in repeat. Kole’s exclusive interview was underway and I’d be damned if I didn’t live a lasting impression.
I nodded to comments, smiled when spoken to and articulately answered questions with lies so oiled, I almost believed it myself. It was an easy story to tell. I was in love with Kole, he was such an amazing man. I met him at a business meeting some eight months back but since we have kept it out of the press because we wanted it to be special. We are getting married now because we are in love, absolutely sure we are meant for each other and life as a married woman would suit me perfectly working beside my husband – the love of my life.
“How would you deal with the women who find your husband irresistible?” it was stylish interviewer Eno with enough make-up to bury her humongous nose and flat thick lips. Make-up could do miracles I wanted to answer but stopped the wicked thought just in time. A onetime beauty queen, yes – a beauty queen, Eno Solomon was the host for NET’s lifestyle show; an exclusive for African celebrities I hear…I didn’t even know the name of the show but I knew the girls would have my ears the moment this made it on air.
“It is normal to have females, ladies coming around, checking for cracks….you know… but I know he loves me. There is really no competition” I said easily. When did love stop a man from having extra curriculum activities? But my answer, shallow as it was brought smiles and applause from the gullible backstage that appeared to believe in fidelity in marriage. There is no competition in indeed.
Kole who was well dressed in heavy black tuxedo and navy blue shirt contrasting his light skin, opening at the throat looked rather dashing and relaxed. He actually looked like he was in love; eyes never leaving mine, head dropping to my shoulders and little kisses on my exposed shoulders as his hands rounded my waist. His answers lined with humour had Eno nodding and smiling sheepishly as his hand found mine from time to time. He definitely knew how to manipulate the media and I could already imagine the varied interpretations of the attention.
Questions, rehearsed questions were answered with laughs and easy smiles but there was one question that needed immediate answer. What was I going to do with Kole McGregor? He was talking of a wedding photo session and arrangements for our honeymoon at breakfast. I had laughed at the plans he iterated with so much seriousness and he had slightly frowned as he confirmed the tickets to the Bahamas.
“Debbie?” it was Eno. I had trailed off in thoughts and my name brought my eyes to hers. Almost too eager to please and ecstatic about Kole on her show, she wore her smiles and directed most of the questions at Kole; perhaps she was the one that found Kole irresistible. She repeated her question.
“Who is Kole? Let us meet your husband….I can call him your husband right?” she joked.
“Well, technically…no. One needs the certificate from what I hear these days” this got a laugh from Kole and Eno as he planted a peck on my cheeks, interrupting me before I continued. “He is different from what the media portrays really. The first time I met him, he charmed the recluse out of me…” I was saying.
“Really?” she asked interrupting me.
“Yes,…I would never be in front of camera if Kole was not such a persistent man…a good persistent man” I said in a laugh and she joined in. Kole, who was playing the smitten villain pressed closer as a warning. I looked at him and he used that opportunity to press his lips on mine. The crowd in the room loved it and erupted in shouts and whistles. I became red in the face…it was unexpected and intimate. Was I wrong about Kole not wanting more than just a business relationship and coerced heir vessel? The rest of the recording went without much drama and I was exhausted as my chin ached from too much smiling and my head reeling from too much agitation.
“They loved you” Kole noted as we stood waving the last of the van with Eno as they drove out of the house. God knew how long it was going to be before the knocks start coming.
“I thought so too” I replied rather pleased with the interview and what I had discovered. Getting another interview wasn’t going to be hard with the overwhelming enthusiasm from Eno and the vicious ‘fans’.
“Glad we have that settled. I am thinking of bringing the wedding date forward, see your parents next week….” It was Kole immediately he closed the door behind us and the cleaning staff flooded the space.
“I was hoping for the same thing too…minus the parents though….I think I maybe orphaned by now” I said truthfully but with sarcasm.
“Really? I hear orphans are the best option for a wife” He laughed as he asked for drinks to be brought to the balcony.
“I suppose you are an orphan too? I know for sure they make the best husbands” I replied in good mood.
“Ever married an orphan before?” he asked playfully and I stopped short. Thankfully he wasn’t paying attention.
“Some say he was a free spirit” I answered finding my legs a seat.
“I didn’t know that” he said a little too serious and then laughed at the conversation.
“You didn’t ask” I chuckled.
“So what informed the change?” he sat beside me.
“What change?”
“You are eager as I am to get married. Suddenly in love with me and realized Vince was just playing you?” he asked. Kole was steaming with anger and I understood why but getting married at all cost was really irrational – a term that had gotten him red in the neck and a direct request never to use the word. The emotion at the word was strange and I knew it was a taboo word…only wish I knew what evoked such a reaction.
“No, no at all. Quite the contrary in fact” I said smiling.
“What do you mean?” he asked taking a small sip from his glass.
“They loved me and giving interviews is not so bad”
“Get to the point” he said tersely.
“I was wondering what an exclusive interview on our 7 days divorce based on infidelity would do to your personal image. Business maybe good but I bet there will be speculations on your sexuality when I give the ‘he can’t satisfy me as a man’ excuse” I said wickedly.
I was absolutely shocked when he dropped the glass with a thump and stood up so fast I had to move out of his way.
“You wouldn’t dare” he looked aghast at the suggestion.
“Oh Kole, I didn’t get this far without few indecent acts” I pushed.
“I won’t allow you and your lover under my roof! I forbid it” he said in a low undertone meant to frighten me.
“That is not what bothers you love…, you are more concerned about the speculation” I said with a straight face. He looked a little shaken but recovered slowly.
“You should not let the enemy know your cards darling” he warned.
“If I were playing a card game I won’t” I answered and he opened his mouth to reply but he swallowed the word and instead fixed me a dead-on stare.
“When is the new date for our wedding love?” I asked coyly and he stormed out, almost in a hurry.
I knew I had found my calling card and went to my room to get my tools. It was time to do some digging.
****
Somewhere in East Norway
“Oh my God! Oh my God!! My baby! My sweet baby!! Alama, my Alama” the sophisticated woman in her early fifties reached for the remote and turned up the volume. She was up on her feet in no time and was reaching for her phone. This was a miracle! Her baby was alive….she couldn’t be Debbie Black, no, they were mistaken and she was going to correct that.
“Paul? Get me a flight to Nigeria. Tomorrow morning” she said almost breathless. After a steady intake of cold air, she headed to her room to get her old box out. She would need some documents for this. Her baby was alive.
Somewhere in Benin, Nigeria
“Alama! It is Alama!” the old man in wheelchair shouted wheeling himself to the front of the Television as a young woman came out with a protruding stomach.
“What is it again?” she asked tired of the old man and his outbursts.
“It’s your sister” he answered eyes glued to the screen.
“I have a sister?” she asked finding a seat as her caught the beautiful woman on TV.
“Yes, yes…you have a sister” thick heavy glasses perched on his conceited nose aided his wretched eyesight as he watched the man planted a kiss on his daughter.
“Her name is not Debbie Black, it Alama Dickson” he said under his breath as he began making mental plans on going to Lagos to get her back.
She was alive! His Alama…

****
Love on the 25th is written by Uneñ Ameji; Author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger. Get a copy. She is @UnenAmeji

All Fun and Games. Episode 11

EPISODE 11

Read All Previous Episode Here
****

Aisha stared at Craig. This was one of the most difficult moments in her life. ‘In business, the main focus is on the player, not the consignment to be purchased’. She didn’t know where she had picked up that line from but it seemed like way back in business school. Her Professor had a knack for it. He’d say, ‘Number one rule of football, never take your eyes off the ball. Likewise in business, never take your eyes off the player’. This might not have seemed like business to the regular girl. This is a man on one knee with a diamond ring stretched at a girl. She should not be even having a sniff of business in her head. She ought to jump at the ring and scream. But for a split second, she had reminded herself of what this was – a game. It didn’t seem like a game though; this is a piano – her love and life. Craig had warmed into the deepest part of her heart. Why would this be a game? There were no pressmen around, this was just Craig and his ring… and maybe his heart lifted out to her. What was she waiting for? A smile warmed across her lips as she stared at him.
Craig was worried. Aisha was smiling. She still had to reach out for the ring for him to be convinced that she would marry him. For a woman like Aisha, you can’t trust a smile. A smile could either be in appreciation or in mockery. Right now, his poor soul couldn’t be mocked. Not after all he had done to get her to this stage. Mockery would open the door to a whole new world that neither of them could tolerate. He smiled faintly as he hoped that she would say something and spare them the ridicule that might loom if she said ‘No’. He smiled again as she seemed to be searching for answers in his eyes. The answers were not there, he knew.
Aisha nodded her head slowly with a smile. “I’ll marry you, Craig.”
He smiled as he slipped the ring onto her finger and drew her close for a kiss. He prayed that she wouldn’t hesitate. Any wrong move now on her part and it would all be a mess. Aisha was unsuspecting. She really wanted to kiss him. He saw it in her eyes. ‘Could she be in love with me?’ Craig thought within a second as he kissed her passionately. Her heart raced fast against his. She was like a child who yearned for love. She kissed back. He knew she felt something for him.
Flashes in their eyes and microphones dangling from covers, Aisha drew away from Craig. Her smile faded. It was all part of the game. For a second, she thought it was real. That it was just the both of them. The Press took pictures of them and she wore a smile for the camera, the cameo type that she always had on. Craig spoke briefly to the press on their behalf.
Aisha withdrew to the Piano as she watched Craig discuss with the pressmen. She ran her finger across her lips. She cursed herself for being vulnerable and kissing him back, but what could she have done. She was in love. She thought it was real. She didn’t think of the press, all she thought of was Craig. She actually did think of Craig. She could have sworn that he felt something for her too, after all, she felt his heart beat against hers. He was like a randy boy in love when he kissed her. But now, she knew better. He was the master of this game; he had put on an excellent show for the press. She knew she couldn’t wallow in self-pity forever; she shook off her pain and thanked her eyes for standing still and not getting all wet from regret and the pain she felt.
Craig joined her. “Smooth, right?”
She nodded in agreement. “I must say that almost caught me by surprise, but that was good. Great show for the media.”
“So, I think we should go over to your father tomorrow and give him the good news.” Craig said.
Aisha stared at him. “You think?”
He nodded in agreement. “Yes. Right now, we are looking great. We shouldn’t waste any more time.” He replied as he poured her glass.
“Why did you bring a piano?” she asked.
Craig shrugged as he handed her the glass.
“You know more than I think you do, right?” she asked as she placed the glass beside her. “Craig, you could have chosen something else. Why the piano?”
He took a deep breath. “I know you play the Piano. And very well too. Now that I think of it, we should have played a note for the press. I guess we would do that on the wedding day, right?”
“You do? How much of it do you know?” she asked. He raised an eyebrow. “I mean the assassination of my mother and my life afterwards?” she continued. “What did my Dad tell you?”
Craig stared at her. “What are you driving at, Aisha? Women.”
“Craig, I know this is a game, but, I love my mother. I love my piano. You could have chosen another instrument.”
He nodded. “I know all that, Aisha. I put up all this to make the proposal as perfect as it can be, you should be thanking me. This is going to be the talk of the town for years to come. Do you know how many folks will be talking about it before we are married, when we are married and even after the divorce? I am a genius, babe. I deserve lots of thanks for this. This video will hit YouTube and other networks, we would look so perfect. Just like you have always wanted it.” He replied as he sipped his drink.
“Thank you.” She replied and walked away.
Craig swallowed as he watched her walk away.

++++****++++
“Good thing you came.” Moira said shutting the door after Aisha. “Alhaji was here.”
Aisha took her seat. “Why? Do we have a deal to seal?”
“No. It is spooky, weird and I am a freaked out! What I have to tell you is big!”
Aisha raised a finger to halt her. “Be right back.” She said and disappeared into the kitchen. She returned with a glass of water. “Now speak”, she said as she sipped some water.
“Aisha, your father is nullifying your contract.”
“My contract? At work?”
Moira shook her head in disagreement. “No. Alhaji wants to cancel the deal that he had with you about getting married before you get the inheritance.”
“What? Why?” Aisha asked looking ruffled.
Moira shrugged. “According to him, he wants to show his support for you and Craig by removing the contract.”
“I don’t get.”
“Well, Alhaji thinks that the contract is unnecessary pressure and that he should stop putting pressure on you.”
Aisha finished the water and placed the glass by the table. “And you bought that crap?”
“Of course not, but what was I supposed to tell Alhaji? You paid Kola well, right?” Moira asked.
Aisha nodded. “Kola won’t bail on me. Even though he’s been Dad’s security guy for years, he still knows how to be loyal to me.”
“I think Alhaji knows about this game.”
Aisha laughed. “Never!”
“Then why would he bring up this news at this time?”
“Maybe his conscience bugged him too much.” Aisha replied as she picked up the remote.
Moira shook her head. “I don’t quite agree with you. If it was about his conscience, he could have waited till daybreak, he came here this midnight, Aisha, something is wrong. Even though Alhaji managed to wave it off, he did call Craig a ‘phoney’ when we started discussing.”
The remote dropped from Aisha’s hand. “Phoney?”
Moira nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Something is not right, Aisha.”
“God!” Aisha said as she dug her hand into her hair. “He must know something. Alhaji is very selective on his terms.”
Moira took a deep breath. “What are we gonna do?”
“I don’t know. But I am going to kill Kola if he betrayed me.”
Moira massaged her forehead. “I don’t know why Kola would snitch on us. I just think we should find a way to kill this whole thing before Alhaji confronts you.”
“Us! Confronts us, Moira!” Aisha corrected as she clasped her hands on her face.
“What???” Moira screamed.
Aisha jolted in fear. “What is it?”
“He proposed?” Moira said, staring at the ring.
Aisha took a deep breath. “Yes. That’s why I am more worried. By now, the press would be preparing to slam the news on their front covers. What would I do to stop the news?”
“Oh my…I thought we were to choose the date for the proposal.”
“He took me by surprise and he had the press as a backup. At first, I felt he was genuine and I had said yes to that.”
Moira stared at her. “Excuse me?”
Aisha nodded as teardrops rolled down her eyes. “Yes, Moira. I…I just thought something was there.”
“Oh no! This is not good.” She said as she joined Aisha in her seat and pulled her close for a hug.
“At first, there was no press. It was just us. I…I thought I actually did mean something to him.”
Moira rolled her eyes as she consoled a weak Aisha. One she had not seen before. She stroked Aisha’s hair tenderly as she heard her friend sob quietly. “Aisha?”
“Yeah?…” Aisha replied in a low tone.
“Are you in love with him?” Moira asked.
Aisha did not reply.
“You don’t have to be ashamed with me. You don’t have to be afraid to say how you feel. Love is not a weakness, Aisha. It’s strength.” Moira said as she swallowed painfully.
Aisha stared at Moira and chuckled. “Do you know what you sound like?”
“Your mother?”
“No way. You are nothing close to her.” Aisha replied as she wiped her eyes.
Moira smiled. “Stop being evasive, Aisha. Do you love him?”

++++****++++
Craig downed his next glass and tapped on the table to alert the barman. He felt as though he had fallen off a train. The evening had gone according to his plan B, and it hurt him so much to have to sway to the second side. He tapped on his phone to check the time. They were late into the night. He hoped Bolu got his message. He knew he couldn’t go home looking so torn. Aisha should not see him drunk.
Bolu joined him. “Hey Bro!”
“Mission accomplished!” Craig said as he raised another glass, smiling.
Bolu smiled. “You are the greatest player of all time.”
“When are you getting married?”
“We are seeing her father tomorrow. We would set the date then.”
Bolu shook his hand. “I am proud of you.”
Craig nodded. “I am not proud of who I am.”
“Why? You have officially signed into the richest Nigerian family, one of the richest families in the world and you say you are not proud? Man, I would kill to be in your shoes right now.” Bolu replied beckoning to the barman. “We need more drinks.”
“I can’t take anything.”
“Why man? You should be in cloud nine by now. Omo, you dey dull o! Wetin do you na?”
Craig didn’t feel okay. “I really wanted to propose to her.”
“Guy, I thought you said you did.” Bolu retorted looking confused.
Craig nodded. “I did, but, not the way a man should. I think she cares about me.”
Bolu laughed. “Dude, the fact that a duck plays with swans doesn’t make it a swan. You are not in Aisha’s class, this is the best you get from her. Money. Not feelings.
“Now I am a duck, right?” Craig asked.
Bolu smiled faintly. “I don’t mean it that way, but, I am just saying that you shouldn’t dream bigger than this. This is where it all comes down, take the money and run far away from here. She can’t love you. People like Aisha don’t love anyone except themselves and their money. She went as far as buying you to achieve her goal, that’s as hot as it gets for them in the upper class. Forget it, man. There is no love there. They just have houses, there is no home there. Believe me, you have won yourself something big, take it and run.”
Craig swallowed and finished his drink.

++++****++++
Bolu watched Daniel as he spoke to the Manager at work. Daniel handed the Manager an envelope and collected another. Bolu rushed after him as he saw him head for the exit. “Daniel!” he shouted as he pulled him back at the garage. “Where are you going? I have been to your house and it is so empty!”
Daniel adjusted the rumpled part of his shirt. “I am leaving. I can’t stand all of you.”
“Daniel, I don’t know why I keep coming back. I can’t just let go off our friendship.”
Daniel smiled. “Poor you. The person responsible for all the pain and hurt I feel doesn’t care, why is Craig not here? Why is he not trying to make amends?”
“Daniel, Craig hasn’t wronged you. You have always envied him. That’s the problem.”
Daniel hissed. “Envy? Look, I don’t envy him. I hate him. Right from when he lost his parents and his uncle beat him, we always took care of him. My family. How does he repay me? Once I like any girl, all he does is smile like a peacock and the girls are off to his side. Why? Why is he so wicked? Why does he get all the girls? Why did he have to get Aisha? It was my stand.”
“Bro, you were bored. Craig only took over for you and it just shows that it is merely coincidence. Craig didn’t mean to approach Aisha. You know what happened.”
Daniel shrugged. “He is a greedy dirty bastard.”
“And you are a jealous b*tch! Why are you so conceited? You are full of hate for someone who doesn’t hate you.”
“Well, that’s his problem. I hate him. And I will always hate him. I am going far away and I hope that he doesn’t come close to me before he snatches my wife from me in the nearest future. He is bad luck to me and he would soon be to you. Just wait and watch him ruin you.”
Bolu took a deep breath. “This time it really is goodbye. I wish we didn’t have to part ways like this.”
“How else would you like it? A party? Celebration for my tears?”
“You are pitiful.” Bolu replied. “Have a nice life.”
Daniel nodded with a smile. “I will. I know you won’t.” Bolu turned to walk away. “Oh, wait!”
Bolu stopped and stared at him. “What do you want?”
“Since you are Craig’s dog, you might as well tell your master that Alhaji Ibrahim is aware of this scam.”
Bolu gasped. “What?”
“Yeah! I hate that bastard so much. I have made his playboy task a little harder.”
Bolu held his head in fear.
Daniel laughed. “Perfect! That’s exactly how I wished to see Craig, it’s a shame you have taken up the look for him.”
“No, Daniel. Why?” Bolu asked.
Daniel shrugged with a smile. “I lost Vicky. He is not getting Aisha. Have a nice life.” He replied and walked away.
Bolu searched for his phone in his pocket but it wasn’t there. He dashed into the mall.

++++****++++
Alhaji stared at Craig and Aisha with a smile. He had practiced the smile for hours in his bathroom when he woke up and now he got it. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you, Sir.” Craig replied.
Alhaji smiled. “Errr…where are you taking her for the honeymoon?”
“We haven’t thought of it yet, Dad.” Aisha replied, cutting in.
Alhaji smiled. “Aisha, why are you so apprehensive? Why don’t you let your future husband speak?”
Craig smiled at her. “It’s okay, babe. We are family, now.” He said to her. He then turned in Alhaji’s direction. “Sir, we are yet to make a decision, but we would soon enough.”
“That’s great.” Alhaji replied. “There is something important that I have to share with you both. I would have had a private discussion with Aisha, but, seeing how far you guys have gone, it is better for you to know about it now.”
Aisha’s heart skipped a bit as Alhaji smiled in her direction. She smiled back and with a lot of confidence.
Craig’s phone rang. He stared at the caller ID. “BOLU”
Alhaji smiled at him. “This is a very important discussion.”
“Of course, Sir.” Craig replied and turned off his phone.
Alhaji nodded. “Thank you.”
“We are ready, Dad.” Aisha said.
Alhaji sat up. “I don’t think Aisha told you this, but I made an agreement with her that I would be releasing her inheritance to her when she got married.” Aisha swallowed hard. Craig took a deep breath and Alhaji smiled. “Well, you know how difficult it is for a man to have a daughter who has made herself her own man and has decided to go against everything that marriage stands for. I was desperate and so I decided that I would release her buck to her when she finally got married.” He blinked and continued. “I know it sounds really selfish and greedy of me but I hope you understand why I made that decision, I couldn’t have my daughter continue in that line. Do you understand me, Craig?”
Craig nodded. “Yes, Sir. I totally understand your reason.”
“Thank you. At least, we have cleared that part. But, I have decided to nullify those terms.” Alhaji said.
Craig stared at Aisha. Aisha’s face was stoned. She wasn’t surprised as Moira had given her the preamble. “Dad…”
“Hang on…Hang on….” Alhaji said, cutting in. “Actually, I believe that what you and Craig have is special and it shouldn’t be ruined. I mean, you are even getting married. This is beautiful, I am not going to ruin it with my stupid pressures on you both. Do you understand what I am saying, Craig?”
Craig nodded. “Yes, sir. It is good that you give us a huge room to love and all without pressure.”
“Exactly! That’s what I thought when I made that decision. Also, I feel that you both should be allowed to blossom in the best way ever and have a perfect life together without influences from Alhaji Ibrahim Bello.” Alhaji added smiling.
“Dad, what else?” Aisha asked.
Alhaji smiled. “Why do you think there is something else? You are very suspicious of people, Aisha. That is not good.”
“I know you well enough, Alhaji. There is something else.”
He nodded with a smile. “There is. I have decided to cut you out of my will, after all, it is my money.”
Aisha folded her arms. “Can we discuss this in private?”
“No. We shouldn’t be keeping things from your future husband. I am not done yet.” He replied. He then turned in Craig’s direction. “I am sorry, young man. Aisha and I fight a lot.” He said with a smile. “Anyway, in addition, I feel Craig is a wealthy and capable man and he should be able to take care of you in line with the money that you have, you can’t suffer. You don’t need the money.” He said. Turning to Craig, “Or what do you think, Son? You should be able to take care of your wife, right?”
Craig nodded slowly. “Of course, Sir. Aisha is my responsibility and I will take care of her.”
Alhaji clapped and sipped his drink. “Great. I love a real man. You have made a smart decision, Craig. Take the mantle. Lead the home. Be the father, husband and provider.”
Aisha stared at her father. “Thank you, Dad.”
Alhaji smiled. “That’s not all. I have amended my will and I willed everything in equal proportion to my grandchild or grandchildren.”
“Grandchild or Grandchildren?” Aisha asked.
Alhaji nodded with a smile. “Yes, I am expecting them to fill this house and run around and I am sure that you both will provide me with lovely grandchildren. That’s what couples in love do. Isn’t that right, Craig?”
Craig nodded with a smile. “Of course, sir.”

‘it’s All Fun And Games… until Alhaji gets involved’
****
All Fun and Games is written by Tomi Adesina, Writer and Author of “Dear Future Husband” available for free on African Stories. She is @tomi_adeshina on twitter. Get a copy. Read, Share and Sponsor next episode 😀

Beautiful Stranger. Episode 4

EPISODE 4

Read Previous Episodes Here

****
“Stranger” Toni turned and stared at him with a smile.
“Stranger.”
He smiled as he stared at her bottle. “Water?”
“Yeah.” She replied.
Jerry scoffed. “Do you mind if I term this hypocrisy?” he asked as he took a seat.
“I mean, you can get water from the comfort of your home.”
She smiled at him.
“Do you mind if I term this stalking?” she asked.
“Why would you be here at this exact moment?”
“I came to get a drink.” He replied as he ordered for a scotch.
She nodded cynically.
“Alcoholics usually have a bottle in their fridge at home and really won’t have the need to come out at this time to get a drink.”
“Probably.” He replied. She smiled at him.
“Why are you here, Jerry?”
“You do know my name. And I don’t get the privilege to know yours? Amazing” he replied as he focused on his drink. ‘Stranger’ was silent. He then turned to her.
“I came to get a drink. Really.”
She stared at his footwear.
“Your fluffy slippers have given you away, my dear.”
Jerry gaped as he stared at his slippers. He had hurried out of the bedroom desperately with his bathrobe on and his pyjamas when he heard she was drinking, but he didn’t think he went on with the fluffy slippers too. He sighed as she grinned at him.
“Let me guess, Tunji alias ‘I won’t keep my mouth shut’, alerted you of my presence here and you dashed down without even worrying about your slippers?” she suggested with a smile.
Jerry frowned.
“I think I just got myself a new fan, right?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.
Jerry shrugged. “Really….why are you here at this time? It is really early in the morning.”
“I just needed some respite for my soul.”
He stared at her. “Respite?”
She nodded. “Sounds funny?”
“No. Sounds interesting.” He responded as he collected the glass from Tunji.
She seized the glass. “It is too early to booze, don’t you think?” she asked.
“Well…I really don’t know about the timing. I have never really worried about it. I need to be in the right frame for official duties.” He replied.
“And you need alcohol to be in the right frame of mind?” she asked. “You have a serious drinking problem, Jerry.”
He nodded. “I know.”
“I know this help support group that helps people with drinking issues. You should reach out to them.”
He sighed. “My liver isn’t complaining yet.”
“How would you know?” she asked.
“I just know.” He replied.
She took a deep breath and slid some money on the table. “I think I am done here.” She said as she handed Tunji the glass of scotch. “Help him a little.”
Tunji shrugged. “I just sell drinks.”
“Yeah. He is just selling, Stranger.” Jerry echoed. “What do you care?”
She smiled and walked out. Jerry dashed after her. “Why won’t I get a name? This is not cool, you know?”
“‘Stranger’ is a nice name.” she said as she walked.
Jerry walked beside her. “I guess I just have to stick with the anonymity?”
She smiled. “Take your chances, friend.”
“So…why not just have a glass of water in the comfort of your home?” Jerry asked.
She stared at him. “Sometimes, the home is not as comfortable as it seems.”
“But the bar is empty at that time too…you could have just stayed in. It is unsafe to be on the street at this time.” He replied.
“Unsafe? Do I look like I am worried about a thing?” she asked as she started to walk along.
Jerry pulled her back. “Stranger.”
Toni stopped as she stared at him. “What is it?”
“Did you swallow a Lion’s heart? Why do you seem so fearless?” he asked.
She sighed. “It is always never as it seems.”
“Are you trying to tell me that you are frail? Weak?”
She smiled. “I am not weak.”
He nodded. “That is obvious.”
“I am heading home now.” She replied as she turned away.
Jerry joined her. “I will walk you home…and you can’t protest. Sorry.”
She smiled. “I didn’t plan to.” She replied as they walked. “Tell me about your work at the bank.”
Jerry sighed. “What is there to tell? It is boring, unadventurous and just about saving money for a couple of old folks.”
“Where is the bank located?” she asked.
He pointed out the direction. “It is the obsolete microfinance bank down the lane.”
She smiled. “Of course, I know where the bank is. It is depressing enough to work in a bank that no one goes to. How did you ever get a job there in the first place?” she asked with a soft chuckle as they walked on.
“I have an old pal there, so he set me up.” He replied.
She nodded. “Fair enough. But I don’t think you earn enough from such a place. You shouldn’t be spending so much time in a bar.”
“Do you think I am broke?” He asked.
She smiled. “Are you?”
“No. I am living off some old stashed away money. Drug money.” He added with a smile.
She hissed. “Not impressed.”
“Are we still far from your home?” he asked.
She shook her head in disagreement. “No.” she replied as they turned into the next street. “My house is just here.” She added as they stopped in front of the house.
Jerry stared at the house. “Really? You are the one who lives here?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
“Funny enough, I have never been to this part of the hood…never knew something as beautiful as this stood here.” He said as he stared at the building.
“Thank you for walking me home.” She said.
Jerry nodded. “My pleasure, Stranger. My pleasure.”
Toni stared at her wristwatch. “Do you want to come in for coffee?”
“Coffee?”
She nodded. “Black. Low Fat. It tastes better than alcohol. Trust me.”
Jerry took a deep breath. “I’ll take you by your word.”
“Good.” She replied and opened the gate.
Nora stood before her with a stern frown. James was standing behind her.
“Hi, Sis.” Toni greeted quickly.
Nora stared at James. “Where are you coming from?”
“Went out.” Toni replied. She stared at Jerry. “Meet Jerry.”
Jerry stretched his hand out to Nora. Nora stared at Jerry from head to toe and then took his hand. “Nice outfit.”
Jerry smiled faintly. He then turned towards Toni. “I guess the coffee might come some other day.”
Toni nodded. “Sure.”
“Alright. Good bye.” Jerry said as he turned to leave,
“Goodbye.” Nora replied firmly.
Jerry nodded and started to walk away.
“Toni!” Toni called.
Jerry turned towards her with a smile.
Toni nodded. “Toni is the name.”
He smiled and walked on.
“Do you mind telling me what that was about?” Nora asked as she stared at Toni.
James joined them. “Hi, Toni.”
“Hello. Did you guys have a nice time?” Toni asked.
Nora interrupted. “I am talking to you, Toni.”
Toni sighed. “I went out, Nora. Simple.”
“Strange to see that you decided to have fun. Why did you turn down my invite to the movie?” James asked.
Toni stared at Nora. “I did?”
“Yeah…your sister said you weren’t coming.” James replied.
Toni nodded. “Yes. I needed to rest.”
“Oh…Okay…then, why did you go out with Mr. Nice outfit?” James asked.
Toni scoffed as she stared at Nora. “Nora, can you tell him that I am twenty-three and I make my own decisions?” she shouted as she walked inside.
James felt heat flush across his face as he turned towards Nora. “I…I am sorry. I didn’t mean to upset her.”
Nora nodded. “It’s okay. Just ignore it.”
“Okay…I should be on my way now.” He said as he pecked Nora. “Bye.” He added and walked away.
Nora joined Toni in the living room. “I demand an explanation for that, Toni.” Nora started.
Toni rolled her eyes. “Is there a part where you apologise for lying about James not wanting me to join you guys?”
“Toni…” Nora stressed. “We are not going there.”
Toni sank into a seat laughing. “Why do you always do this, Nora?”
“Do what?” Nora started. “I didn’t tell you and that is that…now you should tell me why you went out without any good notice.”
Toni smiled. “Nora, do you actually think I would let that slide?” she asked.
Nora took a seat opposite her. “James likes me.”
“Good for you.” Toni replied without any smile.
Nora swallowed. This wasn’t typical of her sister. “Toni, what is going on?”
Toni groaned. “You are the problem. You are your own competition, Nora. Look in the mirror, who do you see? It is you. I am not chasing you, I can’t chase even if I wanted to. You know this. I don’t have the strength. I am not your problem, you are your own problem. Do you think I care if James wants me out with you guys or not? I don’t. I only care that you think I am a competition! Since when did a corpse become your competition, Nora?”
Tears started to stream down Nora’s eyes.
Toni sighed and pulled off her hair wig. “Look at me, anytime from now, the doctor will call and I will be in chemo. Is this what you are scared of? I might not even live through the next six months, Nora.” She shouted.
Nora swallowed painfully as the tears flowed uncontrollably. “Stop it, Toni.”
“Nora, you have lived all your life for me and I love you for it. You are a beautiful and strong woman. You are alive, Nora. Live a little.” Toni concluded as she wiped her eyes.
Nora drew closer to her sister. “Stop it, Toni. Just stop it.”
“Look, Nora, I can’t save you from yourself. You deserve the best in life, don’t let anyone take that away from you.” Toni added as she kissed her sister’s forehead. “Goodnight.”
Nora broke down in tears as Toni left for the bedroom. She had seen the side of Toni that she last saw many years ago when she first heard that she had Cancer. Toni had locked herself up in her room and cried for days. Nora had prior knowledge of her sister’s medical condition but a surgery had been done when Toni was very little and they had all thought it was over, but five years ago, Toni was diagnosed with Malignant Brain Tumour. The then cerebrovascular disease had turned out to be a tumor years after.
Toni had gone through a horrible stage of denial and after a while, she slowly started to come to terms with the fact that she might be gone soon. A year passed and she survived. This was her fifth year living with Cancer. She lived as though she didn’t have any worries, truly, she didn’t. She was doing a countdown with her days.
Toni had been in and out of surgical wards going under the knife as she struggled to live with the tumor. It was as though the tumor was never going to be suppressed. The last Oncologist they had seen had suggested that she started chemotherapy as she suffered epileptic seizures after the surgeries. Toni didn’t want to have to watch her hair fall off effortlessly so she shaved it off herself in preparation for when she would eventually start her sessions.
Six months ago, they had changed cities. Toni wanted a new air. She chose Lagos. Nora wondered why Lagos would be an option with the chaos in the city, but for Toni, she didn’t mind. They could move anywhere. The first thing Nora did on their arrival was register Toni in the Hospital, she had not visited the Hospital since her registration. There was no need to. The drugs were working just fine.
Nora hated herself for making Toni cry. Toni had stopped caring about her condition, she never referred to it. She had learned to live above it, but the argument about James had sparked Toni up. Nora felt ashamed of herself. She had always seen Toni as the threat right from when they were little. Toni was the class clown, always had everyone laughing. Toni was the kid who came home with B’s and C’s, but still had her parents smile. Nora made straight A’s, but she was the serious child. She didn’t see Toni’s life as responsible back then. Nora would lock herself up and study while Toni would play with friends. They were totally different. Toni was always happy. She wasn’t. She wished she could be like her sister a little, but she always found herself ‘too serious’ for fun.
The first news that got Toni depressed was when she learnt about her Cancer. Toni was depressed for months and she would not speak to anyone. She spent her days in the room and nights in the church. The first statement Toni uttered when she got out of her depression was, “I would live this life I have.”
Nora wondered how her sister could wake up with a smile every day and still appear as radiant as she always did. Toni’s joy confused her. Nora convinced herself that God made Toni happy.
Nora let the thoughts continue to flow through her mind as she cried herself to sleep.

***
The sun rays came into Toni’s eyes. She touched her scalp as she yawned. “What do you want Nora?” she asked.
“It is nine am, you have to use your drugs now.” Nora replied as she pulled off the blanket from Toni’s body. “Good morning.”
Toni crawled up together. “This is why I didn’t want you getting that leave.”
Nora smiled. Her sister was coming around again. “You are stuck with me.”
“I don’t have to be.” Toni said as she jumped up. “I can poison you.”
Nora smiled. “Seriously?”
Toni nodded. “Yeah. Where is my toothbrush?”
“In the bathroom.” Nora replied.
Toni flashed a horrid grin at Nora and left for the bathroom. Nora took a deep breath and smiled. All was forgiven! She started to clear the bed…then, Toni’s diary dropped. Nora gasped as she stared at the diary. She picked it up slowly and opened it as she took a seat. (You don’t want to ready a girl’s diary standing) Toni had never kept her diary where it could be seen. “She must have written an awful lot last night before falling asleep.” Nora thought to herself as she turned the first page. She smiled as she saw the hazard drawing on it. “BEWARE…I AM NOT WHAT I WRITE”
The tap stopped flowing in the bathroom and Nora shut the diary hastily and replaced it on the bed. Toni came out with a smile. “Can you help administer my injection?” she asked. Toni knew Nora dreaded doing it, she was always scared of sending the dose in wrongly. They had a Nurse come over to the house to do this daily.
“But Toni, you know that…” Nora started.
Toni hissed. “I was messing with you.” She replied as she picked up her diary. Nora threw her face away as though she didn’t see the diary. Toni took one glance at Nora. “Be careful what you seek…you might just find it.” Toni cooed with a smile.
Nora smiled back at her sister. Toni smiled so beautifully that Nora could hardly believe that her sister was sick. “Can I have your smile, Toni?” Nora asked.
“I only smile for you.” Toni replied as she started to slip into her bathrobe.
Nora raised an eyebrow. “So, who was that cutie you brought home at night?”
“Jerry?” Toni asked.
Nora nodded.
“He is a friend.” Toni replied.
Nora pulled her sister back to the bed. “A friend?”
Toni nodded slowly. “Don’t worry…there is nothing going on.”
“You think so?” Nora asked as she started to tickle her sister. “A boy likes you.”
Toni scoffed. “Boys like me.”
“Do you like him?” Nora asked.
Toni grinned. “I like people…but, you know I am not selfish.”
“Falling in love is selfish?” Nora asked.
“On my part, yes. Why would I get anyone’s hopes up and dash them the next minute?” Toni asked. “I don’t do that to people. I don’t fall in love.”
“You have no control over the heart, you know?” Nora replied.
Toni nodded. “I already wielded this heart to do my will.”
“Liar! Liar!” Nora replied.
Toni hissed. “Believe whatever you want to…Have you ever wondered why I haven’t dated anyone? I am not going to hurt anyone. Also, once I make a male friend, like a good male friend, I immediately tell him that I have Cancer and I keep my distance. Case closed.”
Nora started to smile sheepishly.
“What is it?” Toni asked, sounding upset.
Nora shrugged. “It is just that you are slightly defensive. Hmmm…am I missing something about Mr-Jerry-nice-outfit?”
Toni scowled. “Really, Nora? Really?”
“I am just saying, Toni. You should tell me these things. I am your mommy.”
Toni smiled. “You are stupid.”
“I know.” Nora replied as she smiled.
Toni frowned. “I am going to the bathroom.”
“Apparently.” Nora replied. “You know, I think Jerry is really cute.”
Toni’s shoulders fell. “Are you going to continue with this? I am not bothered.”
“Why did you bring him home, Toni?” Nora asked, smiling.
“I am not like you, Nora. I am not thinking in the direction you are going.”
Nora grinned. “Why did you even think I was going there, Toni? Hmmm…The heart of man.”
Toni picked up her pillow and slammed it on Nora. “I hate you.”
“I love you.” Nora replied.
Toni slammed the pillow on her for a second time. “Stop it, Nora.”
Nora chuckled as she picked up a pillow and slammed it on Toni. They laughed as they started a pillow fight. They laughed as they hit each other with pillows. Toni enjoyed every bit of it…she saw her sister having some fun.

***
Emeka wiped his mouth. “You cook well, man. Thanks.”
“Guy, wash the plate.” Jerry replied as he ate some rice. “Before we know it, you are out of here.”
Emeka grinned as he placed the plate in the sink. “Blessed is the man who gives his brother some food.”
“What part of The Beatitudes is that? Also, quick reminder, you are not my brother. You only want my food.” Jerry added.
Emeka smiled. “I miss you at the Hospital.”
“Lies! I am sure that survival rate at the Hospital has gone up by a hundred percent since I got suspended.”
Emeka nodded with a smile as he started to wash the plate. “Strange…but true. Guy, are they following from your village?”
“I have never been to my village.” Jerry replied.
Emeka clapped his hand. “Ah! You need to go and beg those women there! You must have been married off to one babe who is tying down your success.”
Jerry stared at him looking infuriated. “What sort of nonsense is that?”
“Dude, these things might sound fetish, but, e dey happen o! You will be surprised that one girl is waiting for you to come and marry her in the village.”
“Well, she will wait forever.” Jerry replied as he dug his fork into the food.
Emeka grinned. “Why na? It’s not as if you have found a girl here.”
Jerry was silent. He just smiled.
Emeka hurried to him. “Bad guy! Who is she?”
“Man, I don’t even know how to describe her…she…she just has my heart in her hand.” Jerry said with a smile.
Emeka clasped his hands on his head. “Guy, your own don finish be that o! Na your mumu button she don press o!”
“I don’t care what she pressed, bro. I just want to be with her.” Jerry replied.
Emeka drew a seat near Jerry. “Tell me, where did you meet her. Tell me everything.” He said as he picked Jerry’s meat and tossed it into his mouth.
“You dey mad?” Jerry said as he grabbed his throat.
Emeka freed himself. “Be a friend!”
“My food! My meat! You can have head too!” Jerry stuttered.
Emeka smiled. “Oya talk…where did you meet this babe? Let me see, is she is a stunner, where is her picture?”
Stunner? Shocker nko?” Jerry joked. “I met her at the bar.”
Emeka frowned. “Bar? Call girl? Guy!”
Jerry charged at him. “She is not!”
Emeka calmed him. “Sorry, bro. It’s just that meeting a girl at a bar is not good…she will drain your pocket.”
“Really? And I suppose your girlfriend that you met in the Church is a saint? I remember how she makes you give her money every time o, yet, she doesn’t stop using Jehovah Jireh as her personal message on BBM.” Jerry replied.
Emeka laughed. “Oya talk… where did you meet this babe? Let me see if she is a stunner…”
“Toni. Her name is Toni. She is beautiful, she is smart, and I think I am in love with her.” Jerry concluded.

*****
****

Beautiful Stranger is written by @tomi_adesina; Author of Dear Future Husbandavailable for Free on African Stories. Follow @tomi_adesina on twitter for more thrilling stories.

Love on the 25th. Episode 10

Read All Previous Episodes Here

Kole

The air stilled almost dramatically.
“And I thought the birthright exchange was farfetched”, she said calmly wiping the corners of her mouth; her cutlery resting like old African logs on the fine china. I knew dinner was over and I found myself drinking more of the content of my glass. I meant to let the evening slide without any drama, but the more I stared at her; her delicate hands, excellent frame, witty retorts: I was convinced she was exactly the kind of woman I needed for a wife and a business manager.
Debbie Black, a name in the Nigerian business world had come up last week at lunch with Goge Lawal….my Jewish friend with a Fulani mother and Irish Grandmother. We sure made a good team of mixed-blood men but Goge was going back to Israel and I needed a new manager for the African market. There was no picture of her on the internet, no social links and less than 200 words on the Zenith Group website.
“You sure about her?” I asked, skeptical.
“She is the only one I am going to give my job to”. A meeting with Mr. Fatasho, father’s bunk-mate in secondary school was set.
The moment she had stepped into his office with her strong sweet perfume and confident steps, I was sure Goge was unto something; and then she smiled, unapologetic of her sarcastic comments; I was suddenly in need of a wife.
I looked at her now and wondered if she was going to bite the bait. “I apologize for springing this on you. I didn’t mean to let it slip” I said taking in her calm demeanor.
“Of course” she said taking a sip of her glass, studying me over the rim.
“I take dinner is over?” I asked after a minute of awkward silence, distinct buzz of live electronics surrounding us.
“Not quite” she was looking at me intently.
“Not quite?” I drank some more.
“Why would you propose marriage to a total stranger? I know you are all about showmanship but getting married as a publicity stunt for your new collection and show is rather expensive, desperate” disapproval lacing her voice.
“I am surprised you know about my new collection. And no, this is not a publicity stunt. It is about managing my affairs. Putting my house in order” I stood up and went for some whiskey. Pouring a large glass, I took a hard gulp. It was time to spin a tale. She wasn’t biting.
“Listening” she said as I walked back to the dining table.
“I have 6 months to live. Lung Cancer. Impresario, the Farms, St.Gor….all you know of me is dying and I am afraid of losing it to the vultures I have as family” I said drawing out a chair to seat in front of her.
“Oh my God, are you serious?” she was sitting up now. I knew it was probably below the belt but I needed her on my team and as my wife. I didn’t need to marry her to have her take Goge’s place but she looked so good and was such a delight. I couldn’t pass her up. Moreover, I could use a divorce if it didn’t go as planned. Either way, it was a win-win.
“I need you to be my wife. That way you have a stake and I’d be sure you won’t betray me. I trust your professional judgment, you have an impressive résumé, a beautiful recluse, it won’t be difficult to take over my affairs, keep away my family and convince the press – of course – of your capacity” I said almost in a whisper.
“Take over your affairs? Don’t you have business partners? Friends?” she asked still looking at me with kind eyes.
“I am a man of one. I do not trust friends…moreover, I need a wife too” I supplied with a small painful smile.
“How long have you known?” her eyes misting. I hated to see her tears and stood up.
“Four months. It is the real deal Debbie. I’m done” I sounded pathetic but I didn’t care.
The room was quiet for a while.
“You need to think about this some more” her voice strained and low.
“I don’t have the luxury of time. You are the one”
“I don’t know what to say”
“Say yes?” I turned to face her as I emptied my glass and headed to bar for a refill.
“I can’t marry you” it was a bold statement.
I nodded.
“I have to go” she said, the sound of the bottle hitting the marble top between us.
I nodded.
“Try sucking on lemon after this glass” she said as she came to stand beside me, taking a healthy sip of my glass. I gave a sad chuckle.
“Thanks for dinner” our eyes fixed, I gave another sad smile, exhaling loudly.
“He will take you home” I said taking her hand as we walked out of the house.
Silently waiting for the driver to bring the car around, I tightened my grip on her hand and she held me back; her eyes rising to meet mine.
“Good night Debbie” little intimate caressing of her flawless cheek as my eyes roamed her face before depositing a dry peck on her opened lips. I couldn’t help myself. She jerked on contact.
I opened the door for her as the car came around and she was gone few minutes later. As if on cue, my phone rang. It was Goge.
“Did she say yes?” his voice edged with pain.
“She will”
“I don’t have time” he croaked
“I am wearing a wristwatch. Don’t die on me” and I cut the call before it got more emotional. Goge was dying of lung cancer and there was nothing neither of us could do about it.

****
Debbie

The unusual request left me stunned and emotionally drained as his ‘black’ driver took me home. I couldn’t believe a man – Kole McGregor was dying and in need of a wife to keep his family off his fortune. The fact that I didn’t like his guts before now didn’t matter anymore and it seemed as if the universe was putting me in position to ‘save’ the life I had taken.
Was this a chance to make things right or simply a test? Was accepting to marry the specie I so detested some kind of sign that I was healed of Androphobia or just a mockery of my existence – all I have fought against. Will he want an heir? Want to have sex with me? A contract maybe? I didn’t ask why he was bent on making sure his family got nothing but the thought of marrying him was unthinkable as it was appealing. What was his business empire like? And why did he pick me? What if his family were flesh eaters? I wasn’t going to be part of a snake fest. Was I? Questions swirling in my head.
‘Marry Kole. Lung cancer. Marry Kole. Lung cancer. Marry Kole. Lung cancer’…the continuous repeat had me hugging myself as her memories washed over me. Mrs. Thomas had died of lung cancer…I was thrown out of the house that night after three years of feeling safe..…I closed my eyes tighter to block out the memory; stopping my misting eyes. ‘Lung cancer, Lung cancer, Lung cancer’…the repeat was back on and I let it play out as I stared out of the window helplessly. Somehow, I knew the time had come for me to stop running and the thought of stopping was terrifying.
The house was quiet and imposing as usual as I got down from the car, hugging myself and walking slowly to the door. The unholy image of Vince on Sandra flashed before my eyes as I looked at his apartment. I wasn’t sure what I felt for him but he gave pretty good kisses and I was always putty in his hands but if he wanted Sandra, he could have her. I was tired of the conflicting emotions he brought into the room every single time and the last thing I needed was a love triangle and aching body parts.
The climb to my room was slow and exhausting. Undressing slowly with my door wide opened, I thought of Kole, Vince, Caleb…my impromptu marriage proposal…..
“Shouldn’t you be undressing with a closed door?” the voice I had gotten used to said almost in a drawl and I found my body responding shamelessly. An increased heartbeat, constricting nubs, tightening stomach muscles….this was absurd! I turned around. He stood at the door with hands in cotton pants and eyebrows burrowed in concentration as I approached him in nothing but my bra and panties. I must have looked like some star from the adult movies. I felt his eyes all over my body as I came to stand in front of him in white lace bra and black lace panties. “Shouldn’t you be in your house?” I retorted, engaging him in a stare match before closing my door firmly in his face. It was a while before I heard the front door slam close.
Climbing into bed and staring at the ceiling with shoes on, I finally decided. I was ready to step into the light.
I was going to marry Kole McGregor.

****

(4 weeks later)
****
Vince
At first, the news didn’t sound just about right. It was headline gossip and had the ladies scrolling their phones at the reception.‘Kole McGregor, confirmed billionaire bachelor weds childhood sweetheart’. I laughed at the superficial headline making prints in traffic, emails and pings. A search on his social pages confirmed the news but I was far from getting dragged into the circus. Kole wasn’t getting married; ever! That much I knew. As a family friend and longtime pal, I laughed at the absurdity. Kole McGregor was gay for Christ sakes. This, definitely was a publicity stunt. A man has got to respect his play of the press. Keturah – a mistake of a one night stand – joined me on the third floor as I rode up the elevator.
“So when are you going to propose?” she was breathing down my neck in the elevator. Perpetually looking surprised with her thick Nike eyebrows and lips looking like live coals, I remembered the night she held over me – at Jacob’s housewarming party. I had too much to drink and had hated myself the moment I realized I was way too deep in her bushy valley. I still cannot explain how I ended up in her house butt naked but listening to her crappy voice drone out nonsensical off-putting words as she clamped my hipbones with her metallic thighs all in the name of an orgasm, I knew my missionary days were over and firing her would translate to hot news on LindaIkeji’s blog. She made sure I knew she was a relative as soon as I had my release.
“Not anytime soon” I said with a fake grin and walked out the moment the door opened on the next floor. I would wait for another to continue to my office.
“Good Morning Sir” it was my sloppy secretary thankfully in long trousers.
“Good morning Rita” I greeted. She had the glassy eyes and I was sure she was itching to say something about the news. She confirmed it.
“Sir, have you heard?” she said, following me into my office.
“No Rita, heard what?” I said exasperated at the excitement. I was tired but had to submit a four weeks report on the impromptu trip to London, China and Texas that had me aching all over. The industrial estate proposal had picked the interest of a few of our partners and board of directors. Dad had insisted I made rounds but practically dragged me down last night for a ‘little’ debriefing.
“Mr Kole McGregor, the international mogul is getting married” she said almost breathless.
“yes, that. I heard” already dismissing her as I sat down.
“Miss Debbie is so lucky” she said heading out with her iPad. “What did you say?” I asked, my ears tingling at the mention of a name I was in love with.
“He is getting married to Ms Debbie Black. The new….” I was out of my seat in record time and was headed to her office. There was no way in hell that was happening. Was that the reason she didn’t return all of my calls? The house had been empty last night when I came from the airport and the doors were locked this morning. The guard had not seen them in a week.
It couldn’t be. It just could not be. The look on Idris’s face as I stepped out of the elevator told me I wasn’t the only one who was not comfortable with the news.
“Is she in?” I asked walking to her office.
“She took a leave of absence on Friday. She won’t be coming back till after the wedding” he said as if he was the latest minion, swiveling on his chair to face his screens. I headed to Dad’s office.
“Look who comes in just in time” it was Dad coming around for a hug. This was another first.
“Good Morning Dad” I greeted as he patted me.
“Morning Son! A good day today is” he said, indicating I sit. “Why are we celebrating? Did I do that good?” I asked sarcastically, sitting up.
“You, my son get the job you nearly had my neck for” he chuckled.
“Isn’t it too early to let her go?” I asked no longer interested in Debbie’s job….well, mostly her office and private elevator.
“Let who go?” he asked
“Ms Black?” I answered in a question, waiting for some information.
“She resigned and I am talking about taking my chair for real. It is yours son” he said with a white wide smile. Dad was retiring? How untrue.
“Are you serious?” the question was more on Debbie resigning.
“Of course” he was in high spirits.
“Why did she resign?” I asked, my chest beating too fast for comfort.
“Seems she is getting married to Kole and wants to manage his businesses here” he said studying me.
“When was this?” I asked, totally devastated.
“Last month I suppose. Kole was here some weeks back – something about his new TV show and having Debbie on it. I called Debbie to take care of it and now I hear they are getting married. You should be thinking of getting married too” he said, looking at me.
I was quiet.
“It seems you liked her” it was a question.
“I am in love with her Dad” I answered looking at him dead in the eye. I wasn’t going to let her get married to another man while I was alive.
“You do know she is with Kole” he cautioned knowing what was going on in my head. God forbid history repeated itself. It was no secret that my father married his best friend’s woman and the two men had hated each other’s gut for years.…Bassey Mbre mostly did the hating.
“Well, your mother and I think it is time you take over” he said with a small smile taking me back to why he had called me back. “When was this decision made?” I asked, wiping the loser look off my face.
“Last week. She is dying to see Joshua” her grandnephew, mum had the habit of visiting new babies.
“Great! I will mail in the report and you should get the board together” I said, jumping to my feet.
“Modupe” he called my first name in full. It was a warning.
“I am good Dad. Thanks for letting me wear your shoes. I won’t disappoint you” I tried a real smile this time.
“Then I say congratulations are in order C.E.O” he smiled and I rewarded him with another.
I was out of his office and out of the imposing structure in less than a minute. I was going to stop that wedding. I had to find her and find her fast. I dialed the one person I knew for sure would know where she was.
“Omo” she picked on first ring.
“Hey darling”
“Where is Debbie Black?” I cut to the chase.
“You know I shouldn’t be selling my news for free” she laughed.
“I am serious”
“How much?” she demanded as she always did.
“Enough to get you a land in Abuja” she gasped.
“She is in Lagos. McGregor Estate somewhere in Ikoyi. I really don’t know the street name and house number but will get it asap” Omo had ears to the ground and I knew I count work on her information.
“Thanks” I heaved in relief. She was still in Nigeria.
“What about my land?” she cried.
“When I get back…..and Omo? I don’t want to hear this in the news” I warned.
“When you get back” her lips were sealed. A land in Abuja could do that.
I was headed to the Airport.

****
Love on the 25th is written by Unen Ameji; Author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger. Get a copy. She is @UnenAmeji

Love on the 25th. Episode 9

Read Previous Episode Here

Episode 9
****
Debbie
The dark cold room lit with white light from the Television was remarkably quiet but the warm masculine breath fanning my head told me he was awake and looking at me before I raised my eyes.
“Awake?” his voice so soft and low, almost seductive if I were susceptible like some spring wet chicken.
“Yes” I answered him with my head on his chest. Hard and warm, I was tempted to wrap my hands around him for a better feel.
I was lying beside him on the large soft bed with my clothes on and shoes off. ‘Did he help remove my shoes?’ I scanned my fuggy memory. I remembered getting into bed 5 hours ago with his urging amidst fake tears meant to dissuade him from asking questions that had ‘jail-like’ answers. Telling him I killed a man wasn’t going to happen.
Vince was dangerously getting too close for comfort; persistent with his good guy façade and strong arms that promised safety and something else I wasn’t ready to define. When was he going to show his testosterone horns? All men had those and I waited for the day I’d have a look at it. I knew he wasn’t taken with the story but I was at my wit’s end when I came up with the husband-abused-me-story with familiar variables and supported it with tears that flow like Ikogosi warm spring in Ekiti state.
He had held me so close and slow-danced me into feigning tiredness when I felt too comfortable in his arms that were wrapped around my waist in a possessive but harmless grip. Why! I was getting giddy with excitement as I felt his strong thighs brush against mine, his chest rubbing my nipples.
“You are so peaceful when you sleep” he whispered as a conspirator would, his eyes soft and dreamy. I gave a small smile, lowering my gaze. Why was I allowing myself get this close? Why was I comfortable in a man’s arms? They were all abusers and here I was betraying all I stood against – a breathing male. I made to get up.
“Please, don’t leave” he begged, his hand finding my waist. It was 4:37am.
“I…”
“Please” I felt his hand wrap around my waist, pulling me tighter and burying his head in my neck. I froze.
“What are you doing?” it was almost a whisper.
“You smell so good” he murmured.
“And warm” he was breathing in my scent and the warm sensation that pooled at the tip of my breasts sent red signals up my brain as he kissed my neck in a caress.
“Vince!” I called in alarm, trying to get him off me.
“I know” he sounded grumpy.
“That is ticklish” I laughed; pushing him away as he licked my earlobe.
“I was hoping you’d laugh”
“And why?” I said extracting myself.
“I love it when you laugh. You hardly laugh” he said as he placed another kiss under my earlobe. I jumped. He laughed.
“So jumpy” he said as I got away from his arms.
“Guilty” I said suddenly self-conscious. Was my hair untidy? My black liner spilling? My lips cracked?
“You can be the woman on top” he said and I turned sharply at his meaning. He laughed as I used my pillow to hit him.
“Hey! It was a joke….if you don’t want to take it serious” he winked and I hit him again.
“I am sorry!” he laughed now, grabbing the pillow with force. I lost my stamina and fell on him, his hands swiftly wrapping me around the waist as I laid down on him.
“Vince” I called solemnly.
“I know” he smiled as we locked gazes.
“Can I go now?” I asked after the long silence.
“I like you on top” he teased.
“Let me up” I fidgeting.
“Keep on doing that and you’d have yourself to blame” he teased some more.
“Oh Vince! Stop it” I sounded pathetic, almost as if puberty happened yesterday. In a swift move, he was on top of me and I almost screamed; laughing and struggling to get him off me. A playful struggle ensued and soon I had my hands pinned to the headboard.
“You look so sexy down there” he called, breathing high.
“You need to know how to treat a lady”
“Oh! I know how. I need your permission”
“You are incorrigible!”
“English” he retorted as I struggled to get him off. I laughed, breathing high. I could only imagine how he’d take my chest rising and falling with hands pinned up. And why wasn’t I hyperventilating?
“Let me up” I demanded. He must have noticed the serious tone and was up.
The room was quiet as I made it to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. Raising my eyes to meet his, I saw him approach slowly and the air got tighter. He stopped behind me; his hands going round my waist.
“You make me hot Debbie” our eyes fixed.
Almost hypnotic, I turned in his hands with his prod.
“Let me kiss you” he whispered against my lips and I let him. A rush of air escaped my tensed lungs. This was not me. Why was I so pouted in his hands? He was a man for Christ sakes!
The gentle slip of his tongue, deep penetrating and rhythmic sucking of our mouth was getting me hot. I wanted him! Gosh! I wanted this. With hands around his neck and tip toeing to get myself pressed against him, I heard myself moan as his hands brushed my breasts. It was the wake up all.
“No” I grunted getting my limbs off him and walking out of the bathroom with face so hot I wanted to deep in a bucket of ice.
I was acting like a senseless teenager and I hated myself for it. This was the last time I was going to allow myself get this close to him.
I was older.
He was my boss’s son.
He was a male.
“Debbie” he called sadly.
I stopped to look at him with my bag and shoes in one hand and the room key in the other.
“I am sorry Vince. I can’t do this” and I was out.
****
“Black, would you come into my office” it was Mr. Fatasho on Monday morning. ‘No sir, I won’t’ I answered in my head. Sunday had been quiet and depressing as I tried to ignore the sweet sensations traveling up my spine each time I remembered his strong hands on me. Hands that were next door. The girls had given me a melon-sized headache with a Skype chat that Uloma and Tina trying out lingerie and gowns for a gala night. Their breasts spilling out of the small sized gowns and bra had Eva and Sandra laughing so hard they pounded me on the head with throw pillows. I joined in after a while but had gone to bed early pleading migraine.
Now as I headed to Mr. Fatasho’s office, I remembered the grunt he gave early Sunday morning after I apologized for my disappearance. He had simply waved it off. I was tensed. Was I going to be fired for having a thing with his son? Demoted maybe? Warned off? What did he want so early? No more Vincent! I matched purposely.
“Good morning Sir” I greeted curtly, in long black trousers and poker dotted chiffon blouse tucked in tightly at the waist, I looked like a corporate cougar in ponytail. Maybe I was. My heels clicked the marble tiles in his office in smart steps as I approached.
“Morning. Please seat. I don’t suppose you have met Mr. Kole McGregor” he said leisurely as I noticed the fair skinned handsome man in the smartest of suit sitting in front of him.
“I haven’t” I said directing a polite nod at the man whose eyes were greyish blue with the pinkest of lips contrasting his black hair and nicely manicured thick side beards that looked like carpet grass – unusual for a white man.
“Well, I am too old to make introductions. Kole, this is the lady you should feature” he was saying. I simply stared at him, finally breathing. I wasn’t getting fired or warned off.
“Please call me Kole” the man said in the brightest of smiles, extending his hand for a shake.
“Debbie” I replied taking it.
“So can I leave the office Sir?” Mr. Fatasho said playfully getting up and placing his white cap on his head.
“No Sir” the mixed race man named Kole said in an entitled laugh getting up in a traditional bow. It was obviously a private meeting, the type where the son of his friend asked a personal favor instead of working for it. I briefly wondered what I had to do with it.
“Well, good luck to you. Debbie, do oblige him please?” he said as he waved us out. I was up and out in record time, almost hissing out loud. Fowl was my mood.
“I must say you come highly recommended” he was saying as I headed for the elevator down, simmering and working the heels. ‘Maybe I should break a tile’ a rebellious thought.
I didn’t need to be in their little meeting but he had called me anyway. Of course I knew who Kole McGregor was. An international designer and surprisingly an A-list producer of an entrepreneurial reality TV show who thought the world of himself and was constantly in the news about creating SMEs for the unemployed without Government support. ‘McGregor, a man after Africa’s heart’ he was called. He was getting unnecessary publicity that was akin to idol worship and the mere fact that he never failed to use his “McGregorian” aka white-DNA heritage in each interview I ever had the misfortune of watching pissed me off. The last thing I needed was some arrogant international designer and TV showman disrupting my Monday.
“I still think the special appearance wasn’t necessary” I said biting my tongue.
He laughed.
“And she has a good sense of humor. My kind of woman” I rolled my eyes, precisely what I expected from a showman.
“So what exactly am I to do for you again?” I asked as we entered the elevator.
“I am lucky to produce ‘Impresario’ and I need new judges for next season. I want you on it”
“Am I that qualified?” I asked with a small pretentious smile that got stuck in my throat. I hated the job already.
“More than I’d hope for” he replied my sarcasm.
“Then I shall oblige” I stressed sweetly using Mr. Fatasho’s word. He laughed again. The sounded surprisingly friendly and infectious.
“Nice view” he commented as we entered my office.
“It never gets old” I said, trying politeness as he walked to stand by the large glass wall.
“I may be tempted to share your office” he said. ‘God no go gree’ I thought in pidgin.
“So a judge huh?” I said in a haste to get started on the numerous emails in my box. Reports from the companies we visited had started coming in and I need to get them appraised as soon as possible. A new advert for the paper company was ready and needed a final yes from me. Of course the old bald M.D had problem with that but a little call from Mr. Fatasho had put things in place. I clicked the attachments and watched it as it downloaded.
“Yes, I am hopeful you’d consider”
“My consideration went out the window when I was called up for the handover, don’t you think” I couldn’t hide my displeasure of the little heel exercise to Mr. Fatasho’s office just to be told to ‘oblige’.
“How Nigeria works. Na man no man” he tried pidgin in funny accent.
“I bet the British hardly do that” I couldn’t hold the sarcasm. He caught it.
“I am sorry I didn’t come directly. I had my reasons” he said taking the seat in front of my desk.
“Reasons include?”
“One actually, I was told you hate my guts” he joked.
“And they might be unto to something” I smiled, opening the attachment.
“I think you have done a phenomena job with businesses in the last decade. I studied your portfolio and we’d be honored to have you on the show” he sounded serious now but there was one thing, I was fine hiding in the shadows. There was no way I was going to be a judge…not with his circus activities.
“Thank you Mr. McGregor…”
“Kole”
“…Kole but I don’t like Television. Perhaps a tutor for your contestants?” I said simply. I never would have considered this if it were not Mr. Fatasho’s indirect order.
“I suppose that will work”
“Without pictures on your websites and prints” I quickly added. I was concerned about the unwanted spotlight this would bring and would speak to Mr. Fatasho later. Perhaps some other person would take this cup from me.
“Now that will be discussed over dinner” he said, a little smile revealing his dimples. He rather looked cute.
“Of course” I said, raising my eyes from my screen.
“Would you mind having my driver pick you up at 7pm?” he was on his feet.
“That would be lovely” I shook his outstretched hand. It was impossibly soft unlike Vince’s.
“I am going to need your address” he said with a little wink dropping his card, I chuckled.
“I will have Idris send it” and I stood up to walk him out.
“I appreciate you doing this”
“Don’t be so sure” I joked. A little peck as we stood outside the office and the look on Idris’s face scared the hell out of me. With a scowl so deep and intense, I waved the showman out the door.
What was that look for?

****
Vince

The large rain drops dampened me as I dashed into Anonymous – Harold’s bar and restaurant. John was rather surprised at my request to have the limping man who I now knew as Caleb deliver all my orders from now on. John, Harold’s skinny manager was my little man and did exactly he was told.
“Hey man! You didn’t tell me you were coming. What are you doing here? Come, let’s catch up in my office” I swallowed a groan as Harold walked into the reception. He joked all the way to his littered office and offered me a beer from his huge fridge.
“Naa! I am going back to the office. Stopped to make an order” I lied. I was going home.
“Suit yourself” he said taking a beer and popping it opened with his teeth.
“So how is Ann? Still hiring private detectives?” I joked as I sat on his dusty chair. At first it was fun to shake off the tails and play smart but when she pointed a gun at his previous genitals after her subtle food poisoning tactic did not work, Harold was sure his days of having free sex was over. Boy was I glad! I couldn’t use a clipper after he had a shave and he almost always needed to use my clipper back in the days.
“Mehn! I don lock up! My guy, I nor fit try pim! She go just castrate me one time and God didn’t give me good junk to have it blown off by crazy Benin girl” he said laughing. I joined in. Ann was his antidote but she was killing him. He was frustrated and it showed.
“I guess you have it under control now” I teased and he stoned me with a tennis ball he found from his drawer.
“It is hard though” he said looking at the wall and I nodded. Harold lived for the ladies.
“I bet it is”
“How is Ele? Still your best man?” he asked brightly, sucking on the bottle so hard I thought it would crack.
“Nah! She called it off”
“What?! She broke your heart? I thought she was the one”
“She wasn’t”
“Now I am not going to get a tuxedo. I was hoping for a new tux” he said heavily in between belch as he walked to the fridge to get another bottle. He was spotting a big stomach and losing his clean happy look. Harold was becoming a drunk and I didn’t like the look of frustration he was trying so hard to hide.
“If it makes you feel better, I think I might have found the one” I watched him bite the can off and began sucking on the content like breast milk. Debbie’s breast flashed my mind and I flinched. I had to get out of here.
“Really? I was hoping you would not” he said sadly, taking another long draw from the unfortunate bottle.
“Might have” I stressed.
“I hope so. You, my man don’t need love. Love threatens your junk” I was on my feet. A pity speech was next and I wasn’t one to listen to him spill. Alex had called off his wedding after one afternoon session with Harold. I wasn’t about to get sucked in.
“Leaving?” he looked at me.
“Got to get that new love to lunch” I lied.
“I knew it. A bloody leech” and that was my cue. I was out.
Caleb brought the delivery at past 6pm, Debbie was home but Sandra came down instead. I was rooting for her to get the door as I watched from my front door. I was disappointed as I saw Sandra open the door and caught me before I could close my door. She waved coming over as she collected the package and dismissed him. Caleb was out soon and I was left to entertain Sandra. Bugger!
“So I have dinner. Thanks to you” she said
“I think I ordered for two” I corrected.
“Debbie won’t be eating. She has a date! Getting prepared for some special person” she winked and I found myself grinding my teeth. What date? With who? Not after the kiss at the suite.
“And the date has no name?” I tried humor as I walked up to my kitchen, Sandra trailing behind.
“Some really nice and tall hunk she says. A British too….Debbie likes exotic men” she joked.
“I certainly hope so” I answered as I stood at the sink, losing my appetite. This was crazy but I was beginning to get unnecessarily jealous. The thought of having another man smile at her, hold her or look at her made my blood boil. What was it about that woman that got me so rattled?
“So let’s have our own date right here” it was Sandra coming close.
“I have work to do over dinner” I said almost to myself. Do I follow her? That would be weird and stupid.
“Doesn’t matter. I’d love to watch you eat and work. I am too lonely anyways and I am beginning to consider going back to Port Harcourt if I get really lonely” she said as I felt her arms around my waist. I stilled.
“And what do you think you are you doing? I asked trying to dislodge her hands.
“I like you obviously. I know we have history but I am no longer that girl. I have grown, changed and I am stable. I am clean Vince. Please just hold me” she said with pleading eyes. This was absolutely ridiculous. I wasn’t about to be dragged into some love soap opera, was I?
“And I like Debbie. We can’t be together Sandra. Yes, a friend we can be but let it be clear, I am not interested in you” I said as she dropped her hands but not stepping away.
“Alright then. A kiss”
“What?”
“Just one kiss and I promise never to bother you again”
“Sandra….”
“I promise” she said, already tilting her head.
“I can’t do that”
“You want Debbie or not?” she asked. I looked at her and knew what that implied.
With eyes closed, I brought my lips to touch hers as her slender hands wrapped around my neck, massaging the back of my head in total abandon. She tasted of mint as her tongue entangled with mine. What I had planned to be quick kiss turned slow as pressed her body into mine. I reached down to her waist to peel her from me when I heard her voice.
“Ah! Sweet” she was standing at the kitchen entrance with long legs and smiling with bright red lips. She looked gorgeous and I was instantly jealous of the faceless date.
“Debbie!” I called, almost cursing out loud. And why was she smiling?
“You are done?” it was Sandra, licking her lips. I wanted to slap her so hard; the thought of violence scared me.
“Yes. I wanted to tell you I took your purse and say hello to Vince” she said, looking at the food pack on the slab after giving me a heated look.
“Coming back tonight?” it was Sandra.
“Not sure. Is that food?” she said, totally oblivious to my presence. What do I say? ‘Not what you think?’ That sounded so lame and generic.
There was a reason I hated soap operas.
“Yes” I croaked.
“I am so hungry” she said as she walked over to open it. One peppered gizzard disappearing into her mouth before her phone rang.
“Yes?”
“Madam, your car is here” it was the guard.
“Oh! Let him in”
She chewed and took another.
“Thank God!” she hurriedly chewed before putting the second gizzard in her mouth.
“So eager huh?” I couldn’t resist.
“I bet you two are eager too. I am going to leave you two to it. Have mercy on him” she winked at Sandra and was gone before I could get a reply in. How in the hell did I not hear her climb up the stairs?
“Make sure I get her” I said in contained anger pointing at Sandra who stood with a satisfied looked on her face as I left my kitchen and headed to my room.
There was no way I was letting another man get his hands on her.
It was decided. Debbie was going to be my woman and nothing was going to stop me from having her.

****
Kole

I couldn’t get her out of my head. The quick unsubtle way she dismissed me and the discreet refusal to be part of the show both annoyed me and impressed me. It was a breath of fresh air to have a woman treats me with such aloofness….I missed the days when I was spoken to like a human and not some god. Goge was right about her. If there was ever a woman who didn’t give a damn about name, appearances and worth, it was Debbie Black. It was going to be harder than I thought convincing her to marry me.
“I am sorry I couldn’t meet you at the house” I said as she stepped out of my black Lincoln Navigator I sent over to her house in simmering black sleeveless top that opened to reveal robust cleavage and free multicolored cotton trousers accessorized in cream-colored high wedges and a long single golden neck chain that accentuated her long neck and bouncy mounds. Her hair wrapped in black tie and lips bright red like Marilyn Munroe’s, I drew in my breath. She was absolutely beautiful and for the first time I doubted if I was doing the right thing.
“You would rather welcome me in faded knee-length jeans trousers?” she dissed me and I laughed. The choice of trousers was deliberate. The meeting at the office had convinced of the need to play the white-guy card down if I was going to get her on board plus I was pretty much tired of the suits and high class restaurants anyway. This was my last ‘recruitment dinner’ and it looked like it was going to end well.
“I was cooking!” I said, taking her hand like an old friend. I felt a little hesitation before she relaxed.
“Beans or microwaving your chef’s dinner” she said as we walked slowly to the house. I laughed harder. She was funny.
“You are such a delight” I volunteered, stepping aside to let her in to my 5bedroom guesthouse in Asokoro.
“If you must know, I happen to be a chef. Certified too” I continued trying hard to keep my banter without specifics; I didn’t want to come off like some conceited TV mogul who was a chef and an international designer. Goge was sure I was one.
“I think I believe you” she said as I held the door opened for her.
“Why?”
“More like a thing white men with black blood use to win African women over” she said with a straight face. It was refreshingly ridiculous and I laughed so hard I gave a cough.
“I may have to argue that over food. A good topic for a long night” I followed. She gave a nod.
“You really have a thing for the arts” she noticed as her eyes roamed my living space.
“That will be my ex” I answered truthfully.
“Ah! A truthful man” she said with a genuine smile.
“I suppose I like the idea of truth and freedom” I said going over to pour her a drink.
“What is this?!” she said as soon as she tasted the strawberry squeeze with a dash of cream, gin, fresh ginger and pineapple.
“Like it?” I asked looking her over my glass rim.
“Love it!” she exclaimed taking another sip of the mix.
“I am a chef after all” I teased and she laughed freely; her eyes wide with amusement and her long lashes fanning her long nose. Gosh! I could get used to looking at her.
“Officially my best drink buddy” she wrinkled her nose and I laughed.
“You should reconsider your stance on the show” I chipped in.
“I may have to reconsider dinner totally” she eyed me.
“I’d hate to have to eat alone”. I knew what she meant. Tonight was not going to be about me buttering her up to be a judge but something more.
“I am glad we understand ourselves” she said feigning British accent; an imitation.
“I do not sound like that!” I laughed and she joined in.
“I didn’t say so” she laughed freely as I pulled a chair for her and made to serve dinner.
“So, what really is being a judge on your show all about?” she asked after the first spoon of the spicy chicken cacciatore.
“Impressed that much?” I raised a brow and she laughed again.
“No certificate in sight, no chef making appearances… I am willing to concede. Excellent meal Mr. McGregor” she said impishly, taking another forkful.
“Thank you but I am afraid being a judge on the show was just part of the proposal”
“Now I know why this meal tastes like Jacob’s porridge” she said looking at me through her lashes. I caught my breath again; God! She was beautiful.
“I don’t see Esau in sight, unless of course you waxed your hairy legs and hands” I joked, taking a sip of my drink.
“By all means, do tell. What is the part two of your proposal?” she asked as she took another fork, chewing seductively.
“Marry me” I blurted out without second thoughts. I was sure, she was the one.

****

Love on the 25th is written by Unen Ameji; Author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger. Get a copy. She is @UnenAmeji