Love on the 25th – Season Finale

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Hey guys!
So sorry for weeks of absence…lot of work and script writing….yes, yes… got a scripting gig and it’s been great – just out of lies stories..but will keep you posted…when dem act am….hehehe.

So today is final episode of Love on the 25th… after months of writing about Debbie Black and Vince Fatasho, we rest their bitter-sweet story. Do comment…let’s know what think, your own ending version and share ….

Enjoy!

Episode 17. Season Finale
Timothy Benjamin Dickson was a vengeful man. No one crossed him and remained within close radius – if life was precious. Victoria Motosho knew better than to have let him live after she pulled a handgun on him and his ugly mistress demanding for her daughter 16 years ago. But it happened that Ben who wasn’t a cat still found a way to survive bullets sprayed in his midsection; a miracle that left Victoria fleetingly in mortal fear of a strike back and an unhealthy appetite for cold revenge after she found out that he was alive and had killed her best friend. The strike back never happened.

The look of shock and loud scream from the ugly woman Ben had left her for fueled her confidence and hatred as she held them at gun point on that dark fateful night. The ugly woman who had been cocky and annoyingly displaying a self-satisfied smug prompted a heartbroken Victoria to whip out the shiny weapon she had obtained from her father’s old box. Ben’s thick lips that Victoria loved had tightened when she waved it at the ugly woman who suffered from acute color blindness; bidding her to let her tongue wag one more time.
“Put the gun away” he had commanded firmly as his bleached mistress stood like Lot’s wife – a pillar of poisonous salt. Victoria had raised it with the intention of shooting her thighs but then Ben made an unplanned move to collect the gun from her trembling hands. An involuntary press of the trigger as they struggled and a bullet was logged in the ugly woman’s chest. She slumped on the black settee, almost in slow motion, lifeless body devoid of sound sprawling obscenely as blood soaked through her flowery shirt and yellow pants.
Ben ran to her, knelt beside her, jerking her dangling head and getting soaked with her abnormally red blood that gushed from her left breast as he called her name with tears stinging his eyes, his voice for the first time cracking and catching in his throat. He loved her – Victoria had come to realize as she stood afraid of what she had done.
He buried his head in her neck as he cried and pleaded for her to come back. Victoria should have left but she couldn’t bring herself to move. Victoria didn’t know how long she stood there until Ben came charging towards her in rage and she knew there was only one option. She raised the gun, closed her eyes and released strays of bullet into his wide chest and thick legs as he approached, tears falling from her eyes. She should have listened to her father.
“He is no good” he had told her on his death bed. But she didn’t listen.
His heavy body fell to the ground with a loud thump and Victoria stood in the cold room with the gun hanging from her hand as she looked at the dead bodies. Just as she made to leave, the stillness was interrupted by a teenage boy who opened the front door and stepped into the room albeit gingerly. He stared at the bodies and a look of recognition registered in his eyes as they stared at themselves.
“Alama’s mother” he said out loud. She buried a bullet in his head. She couldn’t afford loose ends. She had come to get her daughter but a murderer she had become. She stood, the bodies littered around her as their warm blood leaked out of the remaining of what was once alive. Weak and afraid of what she had done, she hurried out of the house, the bloody scene and smell of warm blood threatening to overcome her sanity, the need to retch overpowering her being. She rushed out.
The old gateman who tried to get a glimpse of the night visitor was given away by creak of the rusty door of his gatehouse. A bullet had entered the old gateman’s head as he begged, stopping his words forever.
She remembered everything.
The look of fear in her tiny ugly eyes, the angry look on Ben’s face as he charged towards her, the arrogant stare from the teenage boy and the last words from the dark lips of the old gateman
“Madam, please….I get children”
Time of murder – 10:55pm.

****
She opened her weary eyes as she always did when she couldn’t sleep. After 16 years, she still regretted the killings but knew she would not hesitate to put a bullet in his head if she ever set her eyes on him again. A cheat and a rogue, Ben had taken her for a fool, leaving her penniless and without a daughter. The days she had begged for contracts and favors on goodwill, selling her body to her so-called father’s friends for funds to execute government contracts but it had paid off in the end; an end that did not justify the means. She had come to understand that there were no endings – just series of unfortunate events with transient happy moments interlaced with unending days of regrets, fear and pogoing hope. Life as it were was nothing but just time and moments – there were no justifications.

The killings were never unraveled but she had been contacted after the bodies were found twelve hours after the shooting. An overbearing inspector with his timid partner had found her in her Lagos home 48 hours after the murder. She had driven back to Lagos from Benin the night of the murder and had gone straight to Kaita’s house. Dumping the gun in a small pool of water across a mini bridge as she drove on the lonely road at midnight, she wept for her missing baby, the lives she had taken and the children of the old guard. She wept because she had lost everything and he had chosen the worthless ugly woman in the end. Kaita, her best friend had taken one look at her and dragged her in without questions.

The ill-mannered policeman with beady accusatory fowl eyes reiterated that her daughter was still missing; her husband and his new ‘wife’, a teenage boy and an old security man had been murdered in cold blood at his Benin residence and she was the prime suspect. She knew he was buffing and like a shark circling, he smelled blood but couldn’t prove it. A play out of emotions of one who was suffering the anguish of a missing child, hatred her husband but still human enough to tear at the news was appropriate and Victoria played the part to perfection. There was no way she was going down for the crime when her daughter was still out there.

Kaita, a renowned lawyer stepped in when the crass inspector asked for Victoria to remain silent and cuffed her to the station with mere suspicions and few witnesses’ account of seeing Victoria two days before murder asking for her daughter in the street with flyers of a child. With a lawyer as an alibi and legal representative, it wasn’t long before the case fizzled out after series of appearances in court. In the cause of investigation and thanks to Kaita’s digging skills, it was discovered that Ben had embezzled millions of Naira of a very dangerous man in the creeks that couldn’t be named. It was also established that Ben had swindled Victoria of her inheritance along with other persons who were faceless. Soon the case quickly turned to one with more suspects than admissible – ‘above-the-law’ kind of suspects. Ben became the fraudulent dead man who killed his family and guard because of his recklessness and unmatched greed. Ben’s stash however was never found and the inconsequential amount in his accounts was frozen by the court. The case was dismissed.
“Give it time to breathe and we can check back” a determined Kaita to unravel where Ben hid his stash had told Victoria as she drove her to the Murtala Mohammed Airport after she was acquitted and was on her way to her home country – Ghana.

All was quiet until Kaita stumbled on a keg of gun powder 5 years later and was murdered few days to exposing the rot that was buried deep in the Nigerian Stock Exchange and big stalwarts in Government.

Ben was not dead.

A silent investor using a new name, Ben controlled companies worth billions Naira with subs that did whatever they were told. Not one to stay in a place long enough to reveal identity, Ben was steadily on the move and rise to acquire businesses across Africa with pseudo names. Kaita had found out the stunning discovery when one of her clients complained of shares bought in a company that had been declared non-performing by the Nigerian Stock Exchange and wanted to sue the company along with other investors who bought. His investments to the tune of five million Naira had gone down the economic drain and he wanted it back at or to be compensated. The story was that FAT Communications had issued IPOs – Initial Public Offers for the company clearly with the intention of not reporting to the NSE quarterly as stipulated. After 6 years, the company alongside others was declared non-performing, investors didn’t get a single kobo on shares bought because “they were supposed to share in the risk” and worst off, they couldn’t recover their investments. Their lives savings, borrowed funds and seed money was gone and they wanted Kaita to represent them.

Kaita, the notorious digger had dug deep into the company and discovered monumental dirt in the modus operandi of the perpetrators. These companies had the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in their pockets and as such could default without any slap on the wrist. More also, not only was FAT Communications a cover up company, four other companies on the list of the non-performing companies had the same chairman – A Tim Bent.

Kaita, dogged, continued to track down the evasive man until an old copy of his passport stared at her from the laptop of the clerk she had seduced with her fine legs and a promised bed rump after work.
Tim Bent was no other person than Timothy Benjamin Dickson.
Victoria was the first to know and together they had worked on how to expose the system that sold shares to unsuspecting public for the purpose of raising millions for personal gain and Victoria – with the sole aim of destroying Ben.

But sadly, few days after Kaita had an incriminating document she wouldn’t show Victoria, she was taken off the 3rd Mainland Bridge by a truck – one belonging to one of the companies under investigation. An autopsy after refusal of company to pay huge compensation demanded by Kaita’s firm revealed enormous dose of cocaine in her system. The case had not only destroyed her reputation as the best female lawyer in the country, it had also left Victoria mad with grief and ambition to take Ben down at all cost, even if it were the last thing on earth she’d do. Now, Victoria decided was a good time to contest ownership of the company – Zenith Group and expose him for what he truly is – evil in human form.

Tim Bent owned 70% of Zenith Group with a miserly 30% shared between unknown fronters including Abel Fatasho, her father’s P.A before her father died and she had married Ben. It took Hanna Towel, Victoria’s new forensic accountant 2 years to dig out and trail Ben’s investments across Africa and in the UK but Ben remained ‘dead’.

There was simply no trace of his existence.

Whether he was alive or his ghost existed, Victoria was going to make him pay for his crimes. She might have pulled the trigger that ended lives but he had gone long enough wrecking more havoc and needed nemesis badly. If she was a hypocrite, then so be it. Victoria was ready to bare the economic rot he had long cultivated and take her pound of flesh. If he thought he had powers at the top, she had garnered alliances from top officials and international bodies….this time; Victoria was ready to see the nail go down his coffin – firmly.
It was her life ambition. It was time.

The long talk with Alama now Debbie Black revealed she had worked with the Group and had a fling with Abel’s second son. Victoria had smiled at the new name her little princess had given herself and admired her strategy for survival – she was really her father’s daughter. Alama had no idea of the power at play and the recount of her life had Victoria pasting a wide white smile as Alama continued to jab away on her friends, work and achievements. Did Abel know Alama – now Debbie was Ben’s daughter? Was Ben aware she was alive and working in his company? If so, what was his plan? He always had a plan and Victoria was sure Alama was going to be caught in between them once again.

She lied when she told Alama her father was dead because she wanted her daughter to smile, to stop the tears that flowed but mostly because she desperately wanted him to be. She hoped for both of them that Ben was indeed dead and that someone was acting on his behalf or impersonating him. Despite the task at hand, Victoria was thankful for the wedding interview – she had found her daughter. And now, she waited for tomorrow – Alama’s wedding day before flying to Abuja to go see Abel to make her demands. God help them. God keep her.
A smile at the thought of witnessing her baby girl walk down the aisle as she dropped her legs on the cold tiles tugged the corners of her mouth. Her phone rang. It was Alama. She smiled and picked it.
“Hey baby”
“Mum, Mum!” Alama called in panic. Her voice is shrill like she has seen a ghost. Victoria was sitting up as fast as she could.
“Yes Alama, what is it?”
“He is alive, He is alive” she said in quick breath.
“Where? Baby, where?” Victoria asked, panicking as she thought of the worst that Ben could do to her baby just to spite her.
“With my boss, with his son, I don’t know..I can’t be here. I am sorry the wedding is off” her voice barely in whispers.
“Calm down baby” she calmed her.
“I will find you” she said as she swallowed a sob and ended the call.
“Hello? Alama! Alama?” she called, staring at the dead phone in her hand.
Victoria Motosho knew Alama had slipped past her fingers once more and as always Ben was the denominator.
It was time to face Ben and face him squarely.

****
Vince

Her eyes closed, long lashes fanning her flushed cheeks and tempting swollen pink lips. Head on white soft pillow and hand placed delicately along her curved hips, she slept peacefully and I resisted the urge to wake her up for another romp. Watching her even breathing, I couldn’t resist anymore and planted a kiss on her warm soft lips as her eyes fluttered open. She woke up with a sad smile.
“Hi” I smiled as she looked sleepy and blinked to focus on me. I placed light kisses on the tip of her nose and she purred, smiling.
The sound of light rain caused her to turn, the movement revealing her pebble-like nipples on healthy sturdy breasts. I could see the receding love bite from my sucking and I smiled recalling her eagerness, hot dirty talk as she rode me and her twenty seconds blackout. She had screamed into my mouth as we came together and I felt the flimsy material between us rip as I filled her with my essence.
“Hey beautiful” I said, dipping my head to give her a full kiss. The room was dark and cold, the Air Conditioner humming in distance as we moaned, sucking and kissing. I could kiss her all day.
“I have to go” she choked after the passionate kiss, looking at me with unfathomable eyes. I didn’t know what she was thinking and the fact that she showed no emotion made me flinch.
“No, you don’t” I murmured as I tried to drag her soft warm body under me but she twisted free, standing up and going to the bathroom. I followed her.
“Really Vince, you don’t need a bath” she said as I joined her in the shower. Silence followed as we took turns washing each other and she smiled, shaking her head as I pressed her up against the glass wall.
“Someone is determined to get me pregnant” she said as she felt me slip my fingers in her tight love hole before going down on her. She had insisted on condoms right from the start and I had obliged her. It wasn’t my fault it ripped. I simply wasn’t built for condoms. After a thrashing orgasm from my mouth, I was determined to leave a piece of me in her and I plunged in, deeper, without a single thought of retracting until the deed was done.
“You are mine, only mine” I said as I pushed into her womb, standing and bracing her legs up. Her squeal and tightening of her legs round my waist, flexing of her vaginal muscles became too much for me as we went at it slow, raw lust building up as I fed her; and then she had shattered in my arms; crying and clinging to me. I came unexpectedly as we stilled; each afraid of moving, holding on to the moment. I was spent, sedated but surprisingly hard again in few seconds. This was too much.
“You have to get that sorted and don’t you dare come close” she laughed as she came down from her climax and felt me growing hard in her canal. Unhooking her legs, she moved away for a thorough bath. Words were not exchange afterwards as we washed; looking at each other and smiling.
“Marry me” I asked as I relished the feeling of teasing her pebbles on firm flesh.
“I am not going to leave you” I said with profound determination as her silence washed over me. Pressing into her and trailing kisses under her earlobe, she remained stiff but gradually got excited again as I sunk my index finger in her. I couldn’t resist – I had her again.
“What time is it?” she asked as we finished ‘bathing’ for the umpteenth time, getting into her jeans and looking around for her bra.
“Let me help you with that” I said going behind her and slowly putting it on but holding it lose as my hands covered her firm round breasts that were defying my persistent attention to cause them to fall.
“Vince, stop it. It is not a toy” she said trying to push my hands away
“Are you sure? Coz I am pretty sure I could play with them all days” I said tweaking the already hardening nubs.
“I can’t do this right now” she snapped as she walked over to where her shirt lay on the sofa.
“I am sorry….I just can’t get enough of you” I said as emotion caught in my throat. Never did a woman get under my skin this deep and the thought that she was walking down the aisle in less than twenty-four hours caused me great discomfort. It also made me feel less of a blockhead for what I was about to do. A desperate man really could be a foolish man. I had no idea of what I intended to achieve but doing nothing to stop the wedding would be waiting to be spoon-fed.
“Do you love me?” I couldn’t believe the words had come out of my mouth as I watched her adjust her shirt in the mirror. She froze, not turning to look at me. Few seconds passed as she found her bag and walked around the room almost too afraid to acknowledge I had spoken as she picked her phone.
“I asked you a question Alama” I pushed and she turned to face me; her eyes begging to be let off the question.
“I need to know” I pressed as I noticed her lips clamping together.
“Debbie?” I called, reaching out to her.
“Vince, I can’t”
“Do you feel anything for me? Some kind of connection, likeness, love maybe?” I asked standing in her front, almost begging her to let me know what she was thinking. It seemed like she only wanted me for sex and then couldn’t get away fast enough once it was over. It was unfair to have these feelings and not have them reciprocated.
“Even if I did, what would be the point?” she said looking straight at me, then dropping her eyes.
“Marry me Debbie” I asked again, tilting her chin to look at me. Her eyes watered and her lips tightened; I could feel her heartbeat and noticed the uneasiness in her breathing. I could see the conflict of emotions in her eyes, fear, desire and loyalty.
“I am getting married to Kole in less than 24 hours” she finally answered, looking at the door. She had decided. I watched her as she walked out of the room but not before long heard her gasp.
“Caleb”
I closed my eyes.
“You are such an a**hole” I muttered underneath my breath as I followed her out, grabbing a shirt on my way.
Perhaps a meeting of ex-husband and soon-to-be husband might just stop wedding.
I could only hope.

****
Debbie

For the umpteenth time, I wondered what was wrong with me as I rode him hard, twisting and gyrating for all I was worth. I couldn’t get him out of my system and the fact that I transform into some devious sexual being whenever I was with him confounded my confusion. Why Vince? Why did I have to get mushy and brainless the moment I’m left in the room with him? To say he is the best I ever had would be an understatement. He was firm, long, big, curved and his measured strokes took my breath away. He knew his way around my body and I didn’t care if he had 10,000 hours practice with 10,000 women to get it right every single time. I lost it when his lips found mine and all I could think about was having him.
“You have to stop this wanton behavior. This isn’t you” my inner Being said, frowning in disapproval as I voiced phrases that would put the highest porn star to shame. Using the last ounce of self-control, I stopped and made to climb off him but he was quick to anticipate my move. He switched and I was on my back before I could blink. Thoughts flew out of my head as he drove in with one purpose. Domination. I blanked out as I came and I felt him rip the protection I was counting on.

His lips taking mine hours later woke me up and I felt my treacherous body respond in a way I knew would cause me to misbehave again. His hands, his hard-soft body and lips tempted me as we showered until he asked if I loved him and repeated I marry him. His continuous chant of the two-word sentence was beginning to get personal and serious. I freaked out. Hurrying out to the sitting room to escape the tensed atmosphere, and there he was. Sitting with his back to me, I knew even before he turned. I felt my lungs collapse and my throat clamp up as I watched him turn.
“Caleb?” I called. I couldn’t believe he was sitting here after so many years. My legs needed support at this point and I found myself leaning on to the sofa in the large live-in space.
“Alama?” he called, his eyes meeting mine. A smile? A confused look?
“Caleb. Why are you here?” was all I could come up with. The questions were whispered and my heart beating so fast I had to consciously tell myself to calm down.
“I thought you were dead” he said standing up and advancing slowly. I raised my hand to stop him.
“You left me.” I said in a strange high pitched voice. Like the frightened 16 years old who was left in the fire.
“I..” he couldn’t find the words.
“I am sorry” he whispered as I waited for him to explain why he deserted me. Why he wasn’t with me in the burning hut. Why he let me suffer knowing I was carrying his child, our child.
“What are you doing here?” I repeated, my eyes filling with salted water. Vince had told me Caleb was with him in his message but seeing him here was overwhelming. What was his plan? To reconcile us? To get a confession from me? From Caleb? Surely it was just a ploy to get me in bed and it worked. I wasn’t angry, I felt cornered.
“Mr. Vincent” he said looking anxious and uncertain as he lifted his eyes to the approaching figure. I knew without looking back that Vince was standing behind me. When did he let Caleb in? Most probably when I was sleeping. And for how long was he here? Did he hear me scream? I shifted on the sofa as I gathered my thoughts.

Vince went straight to the bar across the room and got a glass of spiked vodka for himself eyeing both of us, and just as he screwed the lid back, a knock sounded on the door.
“Right about time” he said without looking at me, questions on who he was expecting and what he wanted to achieve with the ambush trapped in my throat. He walked over to the door and opened it. I saw his body tense before I heard a familiar voice. A voice that would change the course of events.
“We need to talk right now” it was an angry Mr. Fatasho. What was Mr. Fatasho doing here? I tried to process the connection between my wedding Kole, Caleb and Mr. Fatasho and came out blank.
“Tobi can host the government official father” Vince sounded pissed and I wondered what was going on. Caleb sat looking at me quietly and I stood up, uncomfortable at his silent direct stares. I approached the door and decided to find out what was the cause of the raucous exchange.
“Good evening sir” I greeted sweetly and a flick of alarm registered on his face. He looked like ashen; like a blow had been delivered in his midsection; and as he glanced beside him, my eyes followed his to the subject of his agitation. A mass of living body occupying gold plated wheelchair stared back at me.

My heart literally lurched; fear, anger and an emotion I knew as hatred flushed down my body all in one second.
A look of shock etched on his lined face and dimpled nose, I saw the proud man I knew as my father seated in a wheelchair with a pregnant young woman; his hair white, lips drawn to the side imitating a sardonic smile and a little glint in his eyes. If I wasn’t any wiser, I would have concluded he was happy to see me but I knew better. This was the man who was responsible for a terrible childhood, this was the man I wanted dead, this was the man who was dead yesterday but today lives. This was the man who changed my life before and who had the power to change it yet again.

What was the connection here? What did Vince and his father have to do with my father? And how did they all get here? Caleb, my father and just as I lifted my eyes….I saw Kole at the landing of the stairs few meters from the door.
It was official. There was no way I was going ahead with the wedding.
Just in a second, what took me sixteen years to forget was staring at me in the face and this time it wasn’t any different. I did what I knew how to do.
I ran.

****
Kole

I knew without being told that she was with Vince the moment her line rang off repeatedly. The text from Vince after the fourth ring confirmed it. Although it barely stated why he was inviting me to his apartment, the vague message from Vince was all I was hoping to avoid few hours to my first wedding. It was obvious that Debbie had tuned out since the Alex episode and whatever I said afterwards evoked passive of smiles, the signed agreement serving to divide us further. The little spark that existed between us was long gone and we were going ahead with the wedding because it was too late to stop and I, hoping for a fresh start and giving my sexual orientation a break.
How did Vince get my number though? That wasn’t an issue with Debbie’s phone on her person. I was furious and as I got ready, I vowed he wasn’t getting away this time without a disjointed jaw. Taking two hours off the guys to “go sort out some issues”, I drove roughly to the address. Alex had gone MIA and wasn’t returning my calls. I had to make sure he wasn’t going to try some crazy stunt at my wedding tomorrow. Perhaps he was why Vince had invited me to his apartment – I hoped not.

The drive to Ikoyi took the last shred of patience and as soon as I found a suitable parking spot, I was out fuming and eager to put the little boy in his place.
My phone buzzed. An email from Alex.
I knew the content of the mail before opening, call it premonition and you’d be right. Taking a deep breath, I opened it nonetheless.
Get married and I will release our love video” an email
Staring at me as attachments were sex videos. Alex, a weirdo had recorded one of our session because ‘it kept him warm’ and wanted to get kicks from editing the footage. But from the attachments, he probably must have recorded more sessions. I felt heat climb up my neck and took a moment to take in air. I sent a reply instantly.
I will be there in 1 hour. Don’t do anything rash” I replied.
I cursed my addiction to the fine specimen…Alex was going to be my downfall, I knew it and yet I couldn’t wait to get to his apartment – mostly to ‘reassure’ him of my love the only way I knew how.
‘There goes my bachelor’s eve’ I muttered as I looked up the apartment number from Vince’s message.
‘Get her and leave’ I muttered again all the way to the 1st floor chastising myself for thinking she was with him and using the stairs to work up anger.
And then I saw her.
Her face red, like she faced a furnace, as she ran down the stairs as fast as her legs could carry her. A look at the little group at the door of the apartment told me they were responsible for the tensed atmosphere and they stared back at me as Vince dashed past me in hot pursuit.
“Debbie! Debbie!!” he called as he ran after her.
I briefly considered asking what Mr. Fatasho what was going on but decided against it and I followed suit.
“Debbie!” I called as I ran down the stairs but she was already out of the mini estate and had waved down a taxi.
“Debbie! Listen, I had nothing to do with whatever that was back there” it was Vince shouting as Debbie got into the car. Her hair askew, eyes red and nose running, she was on a call.
“He is alive, He is alive” she was saying into the phone in panic as I came within hearing distance.
“Debbie” I called and she looked at me.
“I am sorry Kole. I can’t” and she was gone. I knew even without her saying it – the wedding was off.
My phone rang. It was Alex.
“I can’t talk now Alex” I said into the phone as I watched the car speed off.
“Then you leave me with no choice Kole” he threatened.
“The wedding is off” I barked into the phone, exasperated at his timing.
“I need you here with me, please” he tried the pitiful tone he knew got me every time.
“Give me few minutes” I said grudgingly into the phone and I cut him off.
“The wedding is off” I said looking at Vince with a straight face. Vince stared after the long departed car, rubbing his nose violently and cursing in muted tones.
“I hope you are happy” I said to a distraught Vince who finally looked at me with heated eyes.
“Yea, I guess so” he said maliciously and he matched back into the estate with anger oozing from his pores.
I had less than 25 minutes to get to Alex. It wasn’t a good time to find out what the little gathering was all about and moreover the wedding was off…..I sent the three worded sentence to my ever efficient P.A and switched off my phone.
She knew what to do.

****
Caleb

I knew even before I boarded the plane that Alama’s rumored wedding would not hold. Against Umar’s advice, I had taken the plane ticket from Mr. Vincent and had left for Lagos – hopeful, excited and ashamed at various times as I prepared for the trip. Mr. Vincent didn’t know this but Umar was a friend of a friend I briefly housed when he came into Abuja for his job interview years back. It was a huge relief when he had stepped into the house weeks ago.
“I really don’t know what you did or didn’t do. I think it will be wise to stay off for now” he had advised as we left Mr. Vincent’s house. Two days later, Mr. Vincent strolled into the lounge and handed me a Lagos-bound ticket. I took the decision to end the suspense. Yes, I was a murderer or almost a murderer and yes, I wasn’t going to confess, I wanted to see the woman she had become – the woman who had the attention of millions. I simply wanted to see her just one more time.

And I had seen her – more radiant and confident….until she had seen her father and fled, Vince in pursuit. I knew I wasn’t going to see her again; maybe in another decade. I could only hope.
Vince returned alone with eyes so bright with anger and chest heaving with words unspoken.
“Who is he? What are you doing here?” he shouted the moment he walked in, slamming the door as he pointed a look at the mean looking man in wheel chair. The atmosphere had been quiet but tensed in the airy room as the old men and young pregnant woman made entrance few minutes earlier; my eyes refusing to meet the man I knew was Alama’s father. I didn’t introduce myself and frankly I didn’t know what I was still doing there.
“I am Tim Bent – Alama’s birth father” he said without missing a beat.
“We need to talk” it was a man who looked like Mr. Vincent in his mannerism and thick brows knotted in determination to maintain aloofness. Mr. Vincent simply ignored him and went into his bedroom but exited shortly after.
“Book yourself a flight” it was Mr. Vincent handing me two bundles of one thousand Naira notes. The look in his eyes told me I was free to go.
“I am sorry” I said for the first time meaning it. He didn’t know what I was sorry for but he nodded.
I was sorry for keeping Alama when her mother was looking for her.
I was sorry for taking advantage of a 16 year old
I was sorry for killing an innocent baby.
I was sorry for deserting her
I was sorry for the chance lost to apologize to her.
I was sorry.
“I am too” he answered and showed me to the door.
One last look at three domineering men and I gave a sad bow.
I got what I came here for – I got to see her one last time.
But I was not going back to Abuja.
A new life in Lagos beckons – Another fresh start and I welcomed it.

****
Vince

The two old men sat staring at each other and I was tempted to scream the roof off.
“I see you are her father” I started after the silence followed Caleb’s exit.
“You knew she was alive and you didn’t tell me!” the old man in the wheel chair snapped at my father.
“I didn’t know” father said in low tone looking out of the window.
“I see” he replied and turned to face me.
“Where is my daughter now?” The intimidating man in wheels turned to ask me and I blanked out for few seconds.
“That is irrelevant” my father voiced coming to stand in the middle of the room.
“What do you mean it is irrelevant? If you have nothing to say, it would do you good to keep quiet” he barked again; I could see him with legs looming over the room.
“She ran away again and I want her back” he continued without a breaking, looking at me.
“I am out in the open. I am not supposed to be seen out and if you were thorough and smart as I thought, you’d have known my daughter was right under your nose all these months” he seethed with malice; his words coming out in hisses.
“I suggest you take a vacation then” father voiced bitterly.
“I want to see her” he said almost to himself than to the occupants of the room.
“I don’t see that happening” father stood his ground with the hot tempered man. “Can you get in touch with her? I see you two may have some kind of relationship” he waved.
“I suppose?” I answered meeting his eyes.
“Look for her” he instructed.
“She knows how to remain elusive. I looked for her for years” my father answered.
“She was right under your nose. Don’t speak anymore” he commanded and I was surprised to see father bite his tongue for the first time in my life.
“I told you to receive a visitor in Abuja, if only you had. We’d have devised a way to keep her where we can always find her” father growled at me.
“What has that got to do with the fact that Debbie is out there and unreachable?” I said, exasperated at my father as I called her number. It was switched off.
“You were supposed to receive me. I guess you should have told your boy to keep her an eye on her since you knew there was a probably of finding them together” he was saying to no one in particular and the young woman sat, her eyes trailing one mouth to the other.
“You, my boy refused to receive me. I demanded this meeting to tell you to help me keep my daughter safe and well, guard until I could tell her …” he stopped and looked out of the window.
“Dad, is that my sister?” the young pregnant girl asked as stillness came over the room and the operator’s voice telling me Alama’s number was switched off came to an end after the 6th dial.
“Such a fool….who will inherit my empire” he rubbed his eyes and I felt pity for the pregnant young woman.
“I will leave the country in few days” the old man said tried as he wheeled himself out. The young woman clambered after him.
“Right. We will find out where she has gone this time” father reassured.
“Don’t bother. It will be another decade before I see her again. She is my daughter afterall” he said with shiny eyes and a smile on his lips.
“If she contacts you, tell her I love her and need just five minutes of her time” he said as he reached the door.
“Will do” I nodded.
Soon the crowd of three piled out and I poured myself a full cup of whisky and dialing her number.
You must know that I have no knowledge of what happened earlier. Please don’t let this come in between us. Call me
An email sent. A text sent.
But somewhere deep down, I feared I had lost her. Forever.
I poured the hot drink down and felt tears running down my eyes involuntarily
“Debbie….please” I choked as my heart broke for the first time.
It was love on the 25th.

****
The bright sun was significant on Monday morning as Victoria walked into the reception of Zenith Group HQ. A look at Victoria and a card made the stoned faced receptionist skip like ram as she called Abel’s office. Victoria having spent 48 hours waiting for Alama to contact her was exhausted but saturated with anger.
“Please come with me Ma” she said as she led Victoria and Hannah to Abel’s office at the penthouse; heels clicking with the sparkling marble tiles.

Abel was already on his feet as she walked into the rich space that oozed authority. She faced the green snake who was christened Abel after 20 years and with him, his son – Vincent sitting heavily with blood shot eyes. The receptionist bowed out.
“I suppose you have more than enough time to chat with an old friend today” she said sweetly as she swayed into the room.
“Of course! Victoria! So nice to see you” he said coming around for a hug.
“Been a long time my faithful friend” she said with sarcasm.
“Ah! There she is….the acid tongue” Abel laughed; the chuckle not reaching his eyes.
“You chose sides…I wasn’t happy with you for a long time” Victoria said with a small smile of her own.
“Oh! You don’t blame me…he was a very dangerous man” he laughed off the comment.
“I suppose”
“My son, Vincent. Vincent…this is Victoria Motosho, Alama’s mother” he introduced and passed a look to his son, who looked temporarily lost.
“Debbie Black, just in case you were wondering” Victoria sitting down and extending her hand to Hannah who produced a bulky report.
“It is my pleasure Ma’am” the young man said in a small uninterested voice. He looked sick and worst off; he looked like he would rather be at home sleeping than at sitting here.
“Heard from her, have you?” Victoria asked noting he was probably love sick.
“No” he said, sitting up.
“Me neither” Victoria said looking at Abel.
“So to what do I owe this visit?” Abel asked wriggling his hands.
“We both know Ben is alive and probably out of the country…it took me a while I confess but I think he will be interested in this little compilation. I have had the pleasure of making this compilation and I am sure you’d find it quite expository” she said as she dropped the bulky report mid-way between her and Abel who had long taken his seat.

His face tightened as he pulled the thick volume close and opened it gingerly, each page a revelation. Like a well-researched project, each page revealed names of companies under the Group and supporting documents that showed the amount raised through fake IPOs, companies delisted, taxes evaded and monies transferred to offshore accounts, fictitious transactions and bogus fraudulent figures that could bury the Group and all directors. The report really was the end of Zenith Group should it reach the wrong hands. This amount of information could only have made its way out of Ben’s den and he knew how. Akin had died because he had been careless with the documents.
Now, here it was after 11 years.
“From your look, I bet you know what those are” she sneered.
“What do you want?” he asked closing the report and meeting her eyes.
“Well, since you asked…I want Ben”
“You do realize that is impossible”
“Not as impossible as publishing this page by page. I wonder what your business partners and international friends will do”
“You are not going to bring all of us down because of your vendetta with your ex-husband who you killed” he snapped.
“I am aware of a court judgment that says otherwise. Can’t say the same for you Abel. You are a fraud, accessory to murder of Kaita Lawal and more importantly a betrayer. I wonder what Ben would say if he knew you were the one that gave Akin the documents to bring him down? What were your plans? Take over the Group?” she asked taunting him.
“I was in love with Kaita goddammit! He killed her and he will pay for it” Abel said, looking at his son that watched without an expression – almost bored to death by the banter.
“I don’t see it that way. I remember you were the C.E.O of Gabs Transport at the time. Your truck pushed her off the bridge” she said wickedly
“My hands were tied but I have not forgotten”
“I wish I believed that”
“Victoria, I can assure you that going this way will not lead to a satisfactory conclusion” Abel said palming the report.
“What will you have me do? Keep this well written report all to myself?”
“You can’t win”
“I can’t?” she asked as she stretched out her hand to Hannah. A piece of paper was given to her from a file.
“Just a copy of a court action” Victoria said as Abel reluctantly collected it and skimmed it.
“You are suing the company for its ownership? On what grounds?” he asked, sweating.
“Well, his last will had me as his next of kin. And he is dead. It is only logically I take over the Group as stipulated”
“But you can’t prove the Group is his”
“I can’t?”
“How do you propose you will do this?” Abel asked, alarmed now.
“I presume the report will fill in the missing blanks in court. It boils down to who will be held responsible for fraud and countless forgery – Ben is dead but his name and signature keeps appearing on incriminating documents. It could mean one of two things – Abel Fatasho is an impersonator or an accessory to murders and fraudulent diversion of funds, tax evasion…..need I say more? Either ways, you will be spending a long time with Jamie Ibory – I remember he was a friend of yours” Victoria said taking back the court action.
Abel didn’t know this but Victoria was bluffing. The court action had been doctored but Abel couldn’t tell the difference seeing that she flashed it and retrieved it just in time. She could see him fall under the pressure. No one wanted to take the fall for Ben – it was too big a fall for one man.

Abel feared Victoria and knew she would do as threatened. He couldn’t take the fall for Ben especially since he wasn’t even going to show up if the court action were instigated against the Group. He would lose everything. All he had worked tirelessly for –sweat and blood. Moreover, it was time Ben paid for taking Kaita from him.
“I believe we can work something out” Abel said after long minutes.
“I am willing to consider your options. I will be waiting for your call” Victoria said with a smile. She knew that look.
Abel was back on her side.

****
Abel Fatasho thought hard for days, his grey hair turning white in less than a week and experienced what his doctor told him were the early signs of a heart attack. He had given all to serve the man called Timothy Benjamin Dickson. He was not going to give his life too.
He was ready to relegate the control of company to Victoria but surprisingly, Ben had named his daughter Alama Dickson as his next of kin as he found out from his friend Tunde – Ben’s lawyer. Tunde was one who didn’t know the definition of the word “confidential” after a few too many bottles. A discreet visit to some of the directors revealed their absolute readiness to save their necks when faced with public humiliation. Some mentioned the need to eliminate Ben to save their necks if push turned to shove. There was no one ready to take the fall.

Abel made the call.

Ben was excited to receive news of Alama’s return and readiness to meet her. A meeting in his home in Nairobi had been fixed and he was exhilarated. He wanted to tell Alama he was sorry, he wanted her to know he loved her and all he did was for her. He wanted her to have all he had worked for, to take over his legacy. He couldn’t wait.
And while he sat sipping his favorite drink of freshly blended ginger and cinnamon, he knew he had been poisoned as soon as Victoria walked in.
In white apparel, she let her hair fall as she approached him under the palm trees where he relaxed. Abel, who had met him hours earlier, told him Vince was bringing Alama and so they waited; sipping drinks and sharing laughs.
“We meet again” was all she said as he felt his eye lids begin to fall. Trying hard to keep his eyes open, he turned to look at a straight faced Abel who had dropped an enormous amount of abrin into his drink when he brought his glass from the house.
“You filthy betrayer” he choked as he held his chest, piercing Abel with a heated look. His eyes closing and mouth trying hard to reveal the last secret, Abel was fast to block his view from Victoria as the words escaped his dried lips in gasps.
“He killed your father for me” he voiced but Victoria didn’t hear it.
“It was a pleasure to have worked for you” Abel returned as he stepped aside and they watched him choke; trying to reach for his phone. Abel shifted it from him and both watched as his heart gave out, taking his last breath, pointing a long accusatory finger at Abel.
“Kaita would be happy” Abel said as he looked beyond Ben; seeing nothing.
“Yes, she will be” Victoria said and unexpected allowed pent up tears flowed down her cheeks, for the first time grieving for Kaita.
Abel stood up and walked into the mansion to alert his young daughter and his body guard.
“Call an ambulance, He is having seizures” he said to the hefty guard who called the hospital immediately.
“Is he dead?” Abel heard the timid voice of the girl as he turned to return to Victoria and nodded solemnly.
“Thank God” she whispered as tears fell out of her eyes.
She was finally free from his hateful words. She had sinned because she wasn’t Alama. Mary had been in school when her mother had been murdered and soon after, Ben discovered that Josephine, the woman he had left Victoria and Alama for, had lied about Mary.
Mary wasn’t his and she had paid dearly for her mother’s deceit. But still, she called him father and regarded Alama, her sister.
Where will she go? Who would she tell? Who would believe she was carrying her his child?
She sunk to the floor and wept; until the woman in white apparel had reached for her and helped her up.
“I am sorry” she chanted continuously as she cried in Victoria’s arms.
Victoria had found the shaken girl on the floor and she knew God had given her a second chance to redeem herself. She was going to be a mother. She would take care of her.
The next day, the death of a Kenyan business man Jela Chane hit the local news. He had died in his home from a heart attack. Ben was laid to rest in an unmarked grave at the public cemetery with Victoria, Mary, Abel and his body guard paying their last ‘respect’.
An orphan, Timothy Benjamin Dickson had died the way he fought all his life against – To be unknown.
Tunde who read his will in presence of Victoria, Abel and Mary revealed what Abel already knew – he had given everything to his real daughter – Alama Dickson. But in absence of her, Victoria would take over affairs till Alama returned.

That was the end of Timothy Benjamin Dickson.

The resolution of Group directors was unanimous too – until the return of his next of kin – Alama Dickson, her mother and ex-wife of Timothy Benjamin Dickson would be the new President of Zenith Group.
Victoria Motosho on her first day of work collected names of all shareholders and through the legal department returned monies to them. There were no profits but surely a refund was a most welcomed idea. In an unexpected move, shares of the company soared in six months – if there was goodwill and assurance to get a refund, most investors trooped in.
Never one to shy away from the camera, she granted interviews in hopes to reach Alama. She knew she was watching.
Victoria knew one day Alama would return and she waited.

****
Sandra

I remember like yesterday the move to Abuja with Debbie, the shameless absolute need to have Vince, the wedding of the decade and Debbie’s disappearance. Kole wouldn’t tell. Vince wouldn’t see me or the girls. He worked all the time and he looked like he had an acci
dent with life the weeks that followed. Months and five years, Vince became the eligible bachelor that had vowed off women. He looked hurt all the time and the last time I saw him, he drank whisky all day barely meeting my eyes.
“Have you heard from her?” was all he asked.
“No” I answered and he had let out a fake laugh.
“Will you let me know?” he asked in a murmur.
“Yes” I reassured and he had nodded. That was the last time I saw him.
I remember her text.
“The wedding is off. I am on my way to Abuja. See you soon”
At first I thought it was a joke and had called her line. Her phone was switched off. Panicking, I told the girls and we had gone into overdrive calling her.
“The number you have dialed is switched off” it was the electronic voice of the female operator.
“Call Kole” Tina suggested.
“The number you have dialed is switched off” it was another operator.
“His number is switched off” I said panicking further.
It was midnight before we saw him drive in. Kole looked flushed and sad.
“What is happening?” I fired still trying Debbie’s line.
“Where did you keep your phone?” It was Uloma.
“Have you spoken with Debbie? Have you seen her?” It was Eva
“Debbie said the wedding was off” Tina continued and at that point, he looked like he wanted to throw us out.
He looked tired, his shirt showing a rip and his hair totally spiking at all angles.
“The wedding is off” he said as he walked past us.

Undoubtedly the news of the broken engagement made pages of papers and front covers of soft sells in coming weeks. Debbie’s twitter account was deleted and all that was left of her were personal pictures, mentions of her in write-ups and the legendary interview uploaded on different blogs and websites.
Debbie had disappeared from our lives. Her line was switched off and at some point, the operator simply didn’t reply when the line was dialed. Emails went unanswered.
That was 5 years ago.
I am married and pregnant.
Uloma relocated to the UK with an Igbo man who still drank palm wine as tea and called everyone ‘Nne.’
Eva was in series of relationship – it was Frank, then Moses, Ebi was the last after Nathan…I had lost count.
Tina was having the time of her live in Paris with her new catch – Alhaji Bello Fatagi.
Kole is the father of my baby and I am his trophy wife. It happened in Dubai during a fashion show we both attended. I had no issues with his sexuality and it was fun to have the freedom to desire another man should I ever get tired.
I don’t regret the one night stand or the outcome.
Yes, I know……..I am a good friend and should not be with Kole. But I am. Sometimes life is more than rules, more than expectations, more than girl-code. Most times, life is just what it is – series of interesting unfortunate events.
I keep waiting to see her again.
Will I?
I don’t know.

****
5 years, 9months later

Dinan, Bretagne – France
Catherine Ejor held the hand of her little baby girl. Eyes deep as her father’s, she sang nonstop as they headed to the local market to get her favorite lunch of baked potatoes and greens. Long limbs springing into a run, Catherine called after her.
“Alama” she called as she bumped into the solid frame of a black man who turned to look at her with the same set of deep set eyes that tormented her at nights. He looked so much like him. No two people should look this good…
“Hello” his voice reverberates.
“Hi” she is breathless. He smiles as he released his hold on her arm.
“Lanre” he offered
“Catherine” she called still looking at him.
“Mummy” it was Alama coming back to drag her.
“You live around?” he asked as she smiled and made to follow her excited daughter.
Catherine nods.
“Yes” she answered as she walked away.
“See you around” he said as he stepped into the art shop.

Jaja Fatasho didn’t like his name mainly because he didn’t like the sacrificial tone. Almost gone for 8 years and constantly been hammered to come home, he made a hasty decision; picked an ugly vessel and without second thoughts went in search of the beautiful woman he had seen in the small market minutes earlier.
She wasn’t married, that he was sure because her dainty fingers revealed no rings and her eyes said more about her need. Perhaps he could return home with her as his wife and the pretty girl his daughter – the thought soothing his return plans.
That will shock his father and his little brother…and step mother.
With a smile as he found the beautiful females taking a seat at the sidewalk restaurant.
“Catherine” he called.
“Lanre” she waved.
“You call it well” he sounded surprise.
“Yes, I lived in Nigeria for a while” she replied.
“I think we might just have a lot to talk about then…Lunch sweety?” he asked the shy pretty girl hiding behind her mother’s skirt. She nodded and looked up at her mother with missing front tooth.
“I am hungry” she said and Catherine laughed.
“I know what you will like” Lanre offered as he held out a seat for the little girl.
“Green” she called as she pointed at the plate on the waiters hand going to another table.
“My! You are really hungry” he teased and she hid her face behind her small hands.
Catherine laughed; her heart filling with joy at his easiness.
“God please, let this man not complicate our lives” Debbie Black prayed as she watched him feed a happy Alama who was ecstatic at having a new friend and vegetables in her toothless mouth.

****
If only God didn’t have a wicked sense of humor. There was more than enough humor in the days ahead.
‘Let the pilot begin’ He says.

THE END

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

Download “Love on the 25th” on the okadabooks apps for Android users.

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Love on the 25th. Episode 15

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

Episode 15

****
Kole

It has been days since the interview and in the days that followed I grew restless and tensed. A simple marriage proposal had gone terribly wrong and everyone had demands. Mum wanted a daughter-in-law and grandchildren as fast as I could make it happen, Debbie wanted out of the deal and threatening scandal, Alex was threatening to go to Debbie, Goge was dying on me and the media houses were lobbying to cover the wedding – a rivalry I couldn’t understand. Having so many ‘friends’ in that sector made it difficult to decide.
I was way over my head with the roller coaster ride that I had signed up for and I regretted following through with the promise of getting married or pushing for an interview aired to millions.
This was all mothers’ fault! She had pressed tirelessly and when the opportunity had presented itself with Debbie, I was quick to seize it – good genes, brilliant mind and interesting personality. I should have told Debbie about Alex and her role in the façade from the beginning. If that had been part of the agreement she signed, her cheating and implied but ambiguous threat of going public with her affair wouldn’t have been so ruinous – and even if she did, only mother would be hurt and I’d make sure she paid for it dearly. It hurt that she cheated right under my roof, falling for her was not planned either. I wanted her, I wanted Alex…a tough decision and until she had mentioned public laundry washing and Alex had gotten jealous, I was just fine.
Mother saw the interview and had called to reprimand the surprise sternly and in the next breath demanding to speak to Iyawo. You would think after 38 years in the UK, she’d have cleaned up on her Yoruba acts. The phone had been given to Debbie and that was a fatal mistake. The duo had gotten in sync almost automatically and was laughing in few minutes like they knew themselves; Debbie turning on her full charm had mother eating out of her hand in few chats. Mother went ahead to cut me out and collected her number directly. Now, I didn’t know how often and long both talked. Alex, my partner was getting increasingly jealous and demanding too. He wanted to meet with Debbie and tell her I was his! He wanted to be known as my partner and be accorded same recognition. Being Caucasian and having same sex marriage legalized in his country, he couldn’t understand why I had a hard time accepting I was gay – bisexual. That had caused a big row and he accused me of playing with his emotions going on air to announce my love for a woman! I didn’t want to lose him yet and I couldn’t afford the chance of Debbie finding out I was going out every night to have fun with a man. I should have listened to Goge. Marriage was a wrong idea.
For a moment I stopped to ask myself why I was hell bent on getting married to Debbie Black and I knew why. My mother and perhaps a chance at being ‘normal’. If she ever found out her perfect son played with the boys and rolled in the hay with them, she’d sure die of a heart attack and I couldn’t have her blood on my head. A single mother, she was all I had and I was all she had. I was gay growing up but I had since upgraded to having preference for both sexes. Being bisexual was liberating and one had options. Women I came to love but men were my all-time favorite partly because they were my first and there was kinship with men that existed naturally – there were no pretenses and what we wanted, we did….until Alex.
‘She would tell me if Alex told her about us, wouldn’t she?’ I asked myself a hundred times as I watched her sleep in our new room. I was sure Vince would keep the knowledge to himself seeing that I had saved him from getting rape by some of my male friends….or would he? Surely one good turn deserves another. Debbie on the other hand was surprisingly cheerful not minding the fact that I had moved us to my new place in Ikoyi. It was a move meant to stop Vince from finding her or coming to the house in my absence. That aim had been defeated since her friends trooped in to organize showers and take her outing. The one named Uloma and Tina were the craziest but they were good people. A man could get used to been straight I thought as I watched them have fun at dinner and Debbie for the first time laughing hysterically at being tickled because she failed a question. A dark thought sneaking up on me as I watched her – perhaps she had plans of killing me without an heir after the wedding or she was probably pregnant for Vince already. What if she was? Would she abort it? What if she killed me and passed the bastard as my son? She had mother on her side and she had already signed the document. For the first time, I was afraid of what I was getting myself into.
Debbie was unusually happy and less interactive when we were alone, preferring to stay on her phone than engage in a conversation. ‘A new world’ she said when I questioned her obsession with the social media. Mother would call her for hours and both would discuss wedding plans and Debbie’s preference for honeymoon. Mother was more interested in honeymoon….the place where babies are made. The pre and post wedding plans fell squarely on my shoulders – Shola’s shoulder. My personal Assistant was flooded with work and was also acting up as the days got nearer. I knew she was uncomfortable with the fact that I was getting married and had nursed hopes of becoming Mrs. McGregor someday but I didn’t want her love suffocating me in close quarters. The puppylove eye and seductive moves was enough to disqualify her but she was good at her job and I was pleased with her work.
And then Debbie had gone out with Dan returning with smiles and an unreadable expression on her face as she watched me move around the house almost subdued. What did she know? Was she waiting for the wedding day to reveal her findings? Was Vince giving her the armor she needed or Alex had contacted her as threatened. If that was the case, I had a lot of damage control to do. I was definitely going to lose most of my business partners and clients if she decided to get even. This publicity wasn’t good although the bluff about publicity working to my favor had worked. Debbie came out with her demands sooner than I was hoping.
“I see someone has my mother in her pocket” I said finding her on the balcony. Alex was not returning my calls and a drive to his flat at 1001 Estate confirmed a change in locks. Debbie in a long maxi gown at the balcony looked rather beautiful in the night light and I was ready to find out what she knew and what she was going to do about it.
“Mother already asking for baby names” she answered looking up at me as I stood beside her. I laughed.
“If only she knew” I said in a tiring smile.
“When do you intend telling her you are hijacking a bride” she asked with a small sad smile.
“I wish things were different” I said taking a seat. The wedding was only two weeks away thanks to Shola’s planning abilities and resources.
“Me too” she said somewhat stressed.
“What are we going to do?” I asked finding myself smiling.
“First, get a new agreement drafted. Since you have no plans of dying soon, terms and conditions are invalid” she said going back to her phone.
“I won’t be doing that sweety. We are getting married and you are going to give your new mother-in-law babies” I said in a smile.
“I am not sure I will be doing that. Infact I took the liberty of drafting a new agreement. I will be having Goge’s place and you will have a wife that won’t give birth but opened to adoption. A very simple employer-employee agreement with a little marriage twist” she said looking serious and I knew she was ready to make her demands.
“I don’t see that happening” I said putting up a bold face.
“I think you will. Mother wouldn’t want to know her son loves men and forcing me into marriage when I clearly don’t want to” she had turned violent.
“How did you find out?” I asked already sweating…she knew.
“Didn’t take Alex long to find me. I am surprised you didn’t include that in the agreement” she looked straight at me and for the first time I wanted to deny my sexual orientation. There was the need to deny but I defended instead.
“I am bisexual and Alex is…..was” I couldn’t define it.
“A fling? Your love?” she was back to palming her phone.
“So, when are you going to Mother with this?” I asked hoping she would not.
“Not sure I should. I like mother and I want the job. It would be in your best interest to sign the new agreement. It should be in your email by now” she said and smiled.
“I see” I said, standing up and heading to my study. I needed to see the agreement immediately and I had the inkling I was going to sign the damn agreement.
What goes around does come around.
****
Vince

The man who sat with sunken eyes and subdued spirit had finished his sob story and Umar was surprisingly believing. Umar who had the nose for sniffing lies and conspiracies looked like he was satisfied with Caleb’s shabby account. According to Caleb, he was married to Alama, they were never divorced and he thought she was dead because of a fire outbreak 16 years ago. When I asked why he reacted the way he did when he saw her picture, he skipped answering and went on to reveal that she had been pregnant with his child, giving birth to a premature stillbirth and in few hours, his house had mysteriously burnt to the ground with Alama inside because she was sedated and probably was unconscious. He was a man who had suffered because of his loss. His reaction was because he remembered the last time he had seen her and he still missed her. But I knew something was missing here….that was 16 years ago. Alama or Debbie couldn’t have been that sophisticated, so matured and made-up as she looked in the photo. My instinct told me he had more to say than he was letting on and I felt like telling Umar to do his job! Umar, a friend and intelligence officer however looked rather uninterested and I wondered why.
“You said it was the devils’ work. What was the devils’ work?” I asked barely satisfied with his story.
“I was confused because you were shouting and calling the police. All these years, I felt like it was my fault she died in the fire and when you started shoving the picture in my face I panicked out of grief” he answered in excellent tenses. He was calmer now and spoke clearly. I could see Umar nodding nonstop and I wondered what was going on with Umar. He was usually the master ‘driller’.
“And what of the marks on Debbie’s back?” I pressed. He looked lost.
“Alama…or whatever, what of the marks on her back?” I repeated my question.
“My Alama had no marks’’ he said, his earlier fearful stance was gone. If his story of the house burning was the truth, then it was plausible that Debbie had survived the fire but scarred.
But I was worried because I knew in my gut he was riding on pity and his story didn’t answer my questions. Why was she afraid of men? Of being touched? Did this man have anything to do with it? He abused her?
“How old was she when you married her?” I asked, doing Umar’s job.
“16, no, she had just turned 20” he corrected and I caught his eyes shift.
“Where did you two get married?” I continued without pausing for breath.
“Benin”
“What year?”
“Vince! Stop” it was Umar. My face spoke volumes.
“He needs to answer these questions”
“Not yet he doesn’t”
“Are you on his side now?” I couldn’t help the question, upset.
“I think we need to speak to this Alama, Debbie. If there is anyone who has to tell us anything is the woman in question. How she survived, why she changed her name and why didn’t go back to find her husband are details that can help this case, if there is a case” he said quietly. I took a deep breath. I could see the direction this was leading and I didn’t like it at all. Umar was going to drag Debbie into the questioning room if I insisted on continuing with the barging. Debbie had to answer these questions and I wanted the answers – whatever they were but I wanted to have them alone. I just wanted her. All of her.
“I see”
“I may have seen the lady on Television” Umar said studying the picture on my tab.
“Just keep an eye on him. I need answers and I am going to get them” I said taking a picture of Caleb before standing up, the move indicating I wanted my space.
Now more than ever, I wanted to see her. Was she really married to this man? It was unthinkable to imagine her with this clown but he spoke of things that were too real to ignore. Alama? Perhaps he was paid to do this I concluded. I tried her number for the umpteenth time and got the same dead tone. Then it hit me! She may have blacklisted my known numbers but certainly a new number may reach her.
They were soon out of the house and I tried Debbie’s number on my private number.
She picked.
“I see you were married before” I said with annoyance. I heard her suck in her breath.
“Who is this?”
“Vince and I need answers Debbie, or is it Alama now?” I asked almost too angry to care.
“I don’t know what you are talking about and don’t call me again” she sounded scared and stiff.
“I think you will be calling me” and with that I ended the call.
“In police custody…” I captioned the picture of Caleb and sent it to her email taking a bite of the cold pancake. It was time to play the waiting game. She was going to call me, of that I was sure.
****
Debbie

It was rather strange that after 48 hours of airing the surprisingly believable interview I got a call from a man named Alex Douglas. With an accent, he had asked for a meeting to tell me about my ‘dearest Kole’. In need of information that could help me with the pending nuptials, an arrangement had been made to meet him at Tango with Kole’s in-house driver. If there was ever a meeting I came to hate was the meeting with Alex. Professing his undying love for Kole was pathetic with his red nose and eyes pleading for a cancellation of a wedding I had nothing to do with.
“You do realize Kole set this up?” I asked after I let him blow his nose.
“I do and I don’t understand why”
“Right”.
“I swear to you Debbie, I love him and I think he does too”.
“Of course you do” I said a little irritated and ecstatic at finding out where Kole had been spending his nights. To think I was considering ‘settling’ with him.
“Are you going to help me?” he asked, wide eyed and hopeful.
“I will see what I can do” I said already tired of the details of their tryst and why I must ‘see that Kole was just getting married because I was pressurizing him’. Wearing my aviator to avoid being recognized, I made my way out of the dark underground club. It was absolutely unbelievable. Kole was gay and he was getting married to me without telling me about it. I was right about Kole being secretive on his night outings and his going red at the mention of speculation but I had no idea it was this deep. While I was somewhat disappointed at ‘losing’ him, I was glad I had the information I needed to make my demands.
The mention of new documents had him fidgeting and I watched sadly as he walked to his study to get a look of the demands I made. I was going to resume in Goge’s office as earlier agreed but there would be no heir and a quick divorce after 3 months on mutual agreement. Signing of a pre-nup to protect his assets is agreed to but I will remain as the Business Head for West Africa for a minimum of 10 years or until I resign or found guilty of negligence or corruption. There were simple logical demands and I was sure he was going to agree to them. I had gone too far with his mother and really liked her; almost considering a real marriage but he had to be gay!
Just then my phone rang. An unknown number, I refused to pick the call. Ringing again, I answered it with annoyance.
“Hello, who is this?” I asked half hoping it was Vince and it was but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Standing up at the mention of my ex-husband and my birth name, I was desperately afraid.
“I don’t know what you are talking about” was all I could come up with, my heart beating so fast, my mind going haywire. What if he knew….did he know? What else did he know? A demand to stay away had been voiced and not long after my phone had beeped and Caleb’s face was staring at me via my mail. He looked like he had just had a confession session. My phone rang again and I stared at the caller I.D…a new number.
“I told you I don’t know anything about ….” I was saying
“Alama?” a female voice with a distinct accent called and I froze.
“Mum?” I called almost too afraid to believe it was her voice.
“Alama” she called and I could hear tears in her voice.
“Mum!” I called and burst out in tears of relief! She saw me!
“I want to see you”
“Mum” it was all I could say. I forgot about Vince as I turned around blindly looking for nothing in particular.
“I am staying at the Sheraton. Please baby, come see me”
“Yes, yes…I am coming now” and with that, I was rushing out of the house in nothing but a tank top and gypsy skirt. Remembering to go get my purse, I decided against taking the driver.
In less than an hour, I walked into the lobby when I saw her. She looked exactly as I knew her at 10 years before father kidnapped me from school. She stood, smiling and I stopped briefly, holding my breath. She was alive! She was here. Almost in a sprint, I ran into her arms and the tears I had long suppressed came pouring down in torrents. She was crying too and in that moment, I saw flashes of camera lights and heard clicks of phones.
It was paparazzi.

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

Love on the 25th. Episode 13

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

Episode 13

****
Vince

The cold marble floor as I paced the dimly lit room in my socks
had me reaching for the A.C remote as I waited for the man that had mysteriously disappeared for two weeks. Two long weeks! And then he had magically reappeared last night and John, Harold’s manager at the lounge had contacted me immediately as demanded. Debbie and Kole had suddenly gone off the radar after a shocking interview a day after our glorious tryst – both looking at each other with adoring eyes and radiant smiles. Debbie looked flawless and a masked countenance that I knew too well was her poker face or was it me hoping she was under duress? Kole seemingly ecstatic at the ‘love’ questions caressed her as much as possible and even had the balls to kiss her! I wanted to hit the roof.
Series of calls and emails to Debbie were left unanswered and Sandra worked tirelessly on her seduction plan. I moved into my private quarters in Asokoro after I found her waiting for me in bed naked. I wasn’t interested and the fact that she would think I wanted sex as payment for good deeds done in the past was appalling. Restless and doubtful, I knew something was wrong – had gone wrong. Debbie was not going to marry Kole after what we had, was she? The possibility distracted me from work and the first executive meeting was the fastest in the history of the Group.
Now waiting for his arrival, I moved around the large room wondering what was taking him so long. A Saturday morning with less traffic, I had expected him sooner. Just then the sound of the gate opening and motorcycle filled the quiet compound as I walked out to the balcony of the 2 bedroom condo on the 3rd floor and waved him up. I made to it door in split second and stood with the door opened.
“Good Morning Sir” it was Caleb, a little slant of shoulders, he gave my breakfast with his right hand as he struggled to catch his breath from the climb up.
“Come in. Close the door behind you” I said leaving the door open for him to come in. Momentarily suspicious, I caught him looking inside the room before stepping in.
“Your package Sir” he said extending the sweet smelling pancakes.
“You can leave it on the table. I have a couple of questions I need to ask you” I said rather impatient, my eyes fixed on him. He looked a bit alarmed and then the look was gone.
“Yes sir” he said meekly going to the 2-seater dinning table, turning his head to look at me as he went. I took a seat and I motioned him to do the same as he returned.
“Do you know her?” I asked after he finally found the courage to sit and I passed him a picture of Debbie on my iPhone gotten from Sandra’s Facebook account. The picture taken probably at a party had Debbie laughing out loud at a joke with the girls. She looked refreshingly happy and I found myself glancing at it as often times as I could.
“No sir” he said barely looking at the photo. It was almost as if he was expecting the question.
“Have a second look” I pressed, zooming on her face. He didn’t miss a beat…he simply stared at me and shook his head. He knew without looking who I was referring to out of the five faces.
“I have never seen her” his eyes staring right at me but his Adam’s apple told a different story.
“I asked if you know her, not seen her” I corrected firmly.
“If I have never seen her, how can I know her Sir” he was playing smart and annoyingly so.
“Of course” I nodded, eyes resting heavily on him.
“I don’t suppose you would like to chat with some of my uniformed friends” I said easily.
“No Sir” he was looking around the flat helplessly now.
“I ask you again. Do you know her?”
“Alama” he said almost in a whisper.
“What?”
“She was my wife”
“..Was your wife” I repeated, disbelieving.
“My wife, she is…was my wife Sir” he looked restless, a bit fearful.
“How is that possible?” heat rising up my neck.
“No, we married, like that, it was in registry” he sounded confused and incorrect.
“Of course you were married!” what was this clown saying? He was speaking but not communicating. It looked like he had a lot to say and couldn’t compose himself because he was afraid. Afraid of what? I had to find out and fast too. I didn’t like where this was going.
“Yes. We were but she died” his eyes avoided mine.
“She died” I chuckled with a grunt. This man was either clueless or there was more to the story.
“No sir, Yes sir, Sir, I really don’t know what happened to her Sir” he was speaking louder now. I nodded. He definitely knew more than he was letting.
“And what did you call her?”
“Alama, Alama” he repeated looking at me.
“Alama” I called slowly, tasting the name on my tongue.
“Please Sir, I am begging you. I am sorry…it was the devil’s work and it was my past” he was soon on his knees and I was at a loss for words.
A simple question had turned to a full blown confession – however scanty and I was hardly prepared for it.
I dialed Umar.

****
Caleb Hontal – 1998

You don pay the money wey you dey owe Baba D?” It was Taiwo in between thick puffs. It was a cold Saturday and I was free to go about my business since Oga Fred was out of town. My Oga Fred was married to an Edo woman who didn’t like life in her state but would rather stay in Lagos with the children. She was indirectly encouraging her husband to bring University girls home because Oga Fred didn’t look like he could keep it zipped and I wondered what possessed her to trust him especially since she called the house often to keep tabs on her husband. I liked Madam Joyful because she was nice to have around and food was always in abundance but I was indebted to Oga Fred. He was after all my employer, benefactor and gave me the go ahead to have his women after he finished with them. Other days, he brought untouched ones for my pleasure if he was particularly pleased with my chores or for being discreet. My Oga was the best Oga and nothing Madam gave me or bribed me with could loosen my tongue. Oga Fred’s women were non-existent as far as I was concerned.
Madam, Oga no be dat kine man” I’d swear on the phone or in person when she came for holidays touching the earth and raising my guilty fingers to the heavens.
In all the drama, I had a large family and as the first boy, I had the sole responsibility of sending money to my mother who didn’t care how I got it. Taking loan from Baba D was only natural after I was introduced to the “peacemaker’s club”. The club was a den of borrowers and a dark mean lord known as Baba D ruled with fear. I had borrowed a time too many and now the richest old man as popularly called was looking for me like lice for his Fifty Thousand Naira. Oga Fred wasn’t going to give me any extra money because I had exhausted my credit limit with him and lately, he wasn’t so pleased with my chores. Madam had nearly caught him just last week when she came in unannounced and I had taken off my clothes and joined the naked girl just in time.
What was I going to do now? I kept the talks loud and raps solid about having some ‘big’ money soon – a lie I kept telling to buy time before I was roasted alive like the Ofure who had disappeared to Kano but was found out and dealt with. With Baba D, there was no hiding place.
Mehn, na so I see am o” I said as I took a little puff from his cigarette and handed it back. The second son of my poor father, I had left the house when I was 17 because I had 13 direct siblings and father was taking a third wife. With just eight years of schooling, I headed to my Uncle’s place in Benin City and he had found me a cleaner’s job at Oga Fred’s office. Soon, he brought me home as his house keeper and I had been living with him for 8 years.
“You have to settle the old man. I hear say he dey kill him debtors o. Suggest say make you get him some cash before your call up” Taiwo advised as we rounded up on the cigarette.
He had come around for breakfast knowing I was home alone.
I go pay” I said scratching my head as I went to get some boiled yam.
Hours later, Taiwo and I headed to the market with a whole tuber of yam laid to rest in our bulging bellies and there she was, standing across the street in a long black gown that seemed to flow endlessly, giving her the illusion of a matured woman ready to be plucked. Taiwo caught me staring and laughed.
“That is Alama, and if your P dey scratch you, better find Chichi o because I hear say she sharp pass razor” he sneered. Taiwo, the general adviser said again following my eyes. She was sweet and innocent, eyes darting and avoiding mine as she noticed she had become the subject of my slow appraisal. Quickly moving through the deserted street, she entered a house I came to know as hers 9 blocks away from mine. If there was girl who I wanted more than anything, it was Alama. I was in love.
I took to strolling by her house when Oga Fred was out or traveled, I waited to see her as she walked by and called her to corners for talks, offered to help her carry her baskets but she would not give me the time of day – evasive and rude, brushing me off before I took two steps close. The break came one cold Sunday night. Oga Fred was due to come back Monday and so I stayed out late with the boys at Mama Bose’s joint drinking on my heavy account. I had no idea when I was going to pay – if I was going to pay. I knew she was simply going to embarrass me one day and throw me out but until she did, I was a customer and enjoyed the benefits.
Stumbling down the eerily lit street a little drunk but conscious, I stopped to take a leak at her gate just for fun. As I held my trousers and made to unzip my fly, I suddenly noticed movement in the dry gutter and a face came into my blurry view. Alama.
She was sitting up with legs spread in front of her in the dark empty gutter at 1am and if not because I had stopped at the gate to take a leak, I’d have missed her frame.
“There is someone here” she said and I jerked, turning back to quickly zip my trousers.
“What! What are you doing there?” I asked turning around to face her.
“Going to bed obviously” she said in crisp English lying down back.
“In the gutter? At this time of the night?”
She didn’t give a reply.Forgetting I had full bladder to empty, I stood wondering what she was doing in the gutter in front of her house at that time in the night.
“Is everything ok? Were you locked out?” I finally found a reason. She still didn’t answer.
“Let me knock so that you can go in” I said after another minute of silence.
“Can you just go away?” She said in a whisper. I didn’t. Too tired to continue standing, I decided to seat on the tarred road with her but she shot up so fast with a cutlass I had not noticed, I moved backed.
“Hey!!! Be careful” I raised my hands in surrender and for the first time I saw fear in her eyes.
“What do you want? Don’t come near me” She was backing away and I saw a bag when she moved out of the gutter.
“Where are you going? What is wrong?” I asked, suddenly afraid for her. Something was wrong but a proud chin, pressed forward declared she was traveling out of town.
“Running away looks more like it” I said under my voice.
“Don’t say anything to anyone” she raised a little finger to warn me.
“And what if I do?” I said going to knock on her gate. She was out of my sight with her bag and down the street in long strides. There was one option I followed in hot pursuit.
Catching up with her, she fought for her bag and I fought for control.
“Stop! Stop!” I said, struggling with her. She stopped, breathing high and looking around as if someone had seen her.
“Please let me go” she begged trying to dislodge my fingers from her bag.
“I will. First tell me what is wrong” and then she broke down in tears. Crying and trying unsuccessfully to stop, she let me hold her while she cried, sniffing and trying to keep the tears from falling. Without a word, I picked her bag and helped her to the 1bedroom Boys Quarter I was staying.
She was quiet as we reached and had assumed a position I knew as suspicious.
“Don’t worry. I won’t take advantage of you” I said in good English, trying to impress her.
“Ok” she sniffed as I moved around the space without aim.
“How old are you?” I asked as I took a seat far from her. She was standing by the door with hands folded and eyes alert.
“16” she voiced and stared at me in a challenge.
“16? Wow” I couldn’t believe it. She had the body of a 20 year old – her flawless skin, perky bosom and evident curves even in the long gown. She always wore gowns.
“Please don’t tell anyone you saw me” she said after a while, looking uncertain.
“I won’t” and she nodded. We stared at each other for a while.
“What is your name?” She asked dropping her hands.
“Caleb”
“Ok. My name is …..”
“Alama. I know” a little surprised, she looked around the room.
“It is late. You can sleep in here. I am going to …. ” I looked around and she watched me.
“I will go and sleep in the main house. My Oga is not around. Please lock the door” I said and was out before she decided to go sprinting again. I was dizzy now and needed a bed to sleep off the exotic liquid in my stomach. I reached the main house soon enough but decided against going to check if she decided to run away. If anything, I knew was running away and I had to earn her trust.
The next days were quiet but definitely worth it. She lived in my room, not stepping out but watching my movements with eyes wide whenever I came in and eating only after I had taken a spoonful of food.
“You know I am not going to bite right?” I asked putting on my English tongue. With her, I was a different person and wanted to be proper.
“Yes” she answered and for the first time in 3 days she smiled.
“Are you not supposed to be in school?” I asked sitting in the kitchen. She was a little relaxed now and didn’t mind having me around.
“No” was a short reply and she went back into her shell.
A week later, we had turned to ‘friends’ and talked about movies we had watched and places we had traveled to. She kept asking if her parents were looking for her and I said no mostly because I had an agenda. I wanted her and was beginning to fall for her or so I thought. But the truth was that the street was filled with her picture and her ‘white’ mother had come from ‘Overseas’ and was seen for the first time asking for her daughter. We were told her father had a new African wife who didn’t want Alama in the house and so the girl had either committed suicide because she was rejected or ran away. I didn’t offer the truth even when the white sad woman had placed her picture in my hand and asked if I had seen her daughter. I shook my head. Two days later, we heard the white woman had shot her husband and new wife dead and was on the run. Telling Alama that her mother had committed murder was hard and if she came out now, the police would pick her up. It was best she remained missing.
Another week and we were sleeping on the same bed, talking about nothing but dreams and aspirations. She didn’t tell me why she was running or where she was going to. Few days later, we ended up naked and I was surprised at the tears dripping from the corners of her eyes as I pumped away without a sheath, too late to stop.
We were back to strangers after that and then Baba D happened. A broken nose and few body cuts from his boys, I was left with her to heal and a 7 day ultimatum to payback. I was at the end of my rope and had to act. I waited for Oga Fred to travel the weekend after the attack, sold couple of his belongings, settled a larger part of the debt and kept the balance for myself and new responsibility – Alama.
She knew what I was doing but she didn’t say a word; looking as I moved around and sold Oga Fred’s belongings without thought. My life was better than all his belongings put together and I was willing to keep it.
“I am leaving Benin” I had told her Saturday night knowing Oga Fred was returning in the morning.
“I will follow you” she had declared and we were off in the middle of the night a month after I had found her in the gutter. A stop at the Registry had us our changing names, declaring age and out of character decided to get married. Ecstatic and happy, we moved from town to town until we reached Ugeli…a ghostlike town and settled down in a slum after exhausting the remaining money from Oga Fred’s sales. We both wanted to be lost and we were weeks that followed were blissful, days of insistent sex even when she wasn’t up to it, I’d say it was her duty as a wife and she’d submit quietly then ignore me for few days and we will continue from where we stopped – the bedroom. And then she got pregnant.
That changed everything. I couldn’t believe she would allow herself get pregnant? I blamed her for carelessness and chastised myself for not taking more precaution. Why didn’t she tell me she was now menstruating? How could she? Knowing our condition? I was angry. I had to get the unfortunate being out, keep her to myself and had to do it without her knowing because she was excited at having a baby.
That was the beginning of spiking her food and drinks with diclofenac and ibuprofen with the hope of an early miscarriage but she progressed. What was I going to do with a child? I started a cocktail of Accutane and Mycophenolate after I told the sad tale to Dr. Ifeanyi – a pharmacist who had access to drugs at the General hospital in town but stayed in Ugeli. Known as the doctor from ‘Obodo-Oyinbo’, Dr. Ifeanyi soon became my friend and gave me what I needed to help his ‘new couple’. It was that or I’d have to start borrowing again. Nothing I gave her terminated the pregnancy and desperate for escape, I had gone back to drinking, waiting for the inevitable – a baby I didn’t want. Nights after nights, I stayed at the bar and found a new love interest – Bisi. Then I ran into a long friend of Taiwo from Benin. Needless to say, the next day, I was discovered by Baba D’s boys and was beaten mercilessly. Only a promise to give up Alama as a sex worker in his establishment had set me free because I was penniless at this point.
That afternoon as I walked back with pains all over my body ready to take my bags and run with Alama to a new town, I met a crowd at the red hut we called home. Alama was in labor and hours later had a still birth with Dr. Ifeanyi at the helm of affairs. I was more than relieved. The drugs worked but now she was too weak to run. I was torn between leaving her in that state or simply waiting it out. I decided to wait. Perhaps, they wouldn’t want a woman who had just given birth. The thought was comforting. She soon slept off out of exhaustion from the tears and injection Dr. Ifeanyi gave her and I snuck out to the joint shortly after.
They didn’t show up at the bar as agreed that night and so I went with Bisi – my new love interest to her room at the back of the joint. I drank all the beer I could possibly drink and slept off almost immediately. Bisi hated Alama because Alama was the only thing standing between us and made comments of making her go away so she’d have me to herself. I laughed it off and made good on the threat by pounding her sore in her little room where she serviced other of her sister’s customers.
Then my world came crashing down the very next day. The place where my hut was meant to be was burnt to the ground and red earth mixed with black ash was the only evidence of existence. What had happened? Did the neighbors see anything? Mama Goina said Alama may have died in the fire because they all came out and met an empty hut. I was relieved when I heard that because I was convinced Baba D had her but then ‘Collector’, Baba D’s first son had been found dead in the little stream down the house. Alama was not in Baba D’s custody and I was blamed for the death of Collector. Alama was either burnt to ashes or was simply gone.
Baba D had my left hand for the remaining part payment and I was handed me over to Oga Fred who was looking for me. I was left with the police for couple of weeks until Madam had come to my rescue. She promised to help only if I told her everything she needed to know about Oga Fred’s activities. Apparently, she had contracted HIV from her husband and she wanted to know who he had been sleeping with because he accused her of bringing the killer disease into their home. A deal was struck and I told her what she wanted to hear without mentioning I had sloppy seconds. She pulled some strings and I was out barely two months later. Without a hand and the clothes on my back, I was headed to Abuja – no man’s land. This time determined never to get caught again until I had seen her on TV. My Alama. She was older definitely but she still looked as she did at 16 years. And now, here I was kneeling before this man who held out her picture asking me if I knew her. Of course I did but she was my past and Pastor Biola said our past did not matter.
I had given my life to Christ and all things were now new.

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

Love on the 25th. Episode 12

Read Previous Episodes Here

Episode 12
Vince

* * * *
She was standing few meters from the gate; her eyes straining for recognition and her long legs disappearing into well-shaped hips and firm stomach as displayed by the white shorts and see-through black sweater she was wearing. She looked breathtakingly beautiful with her hair down and half cup white lace bra barely covering her breasts.
“Vince? What are you doing here?” Her voice reaching me as I got out of the rental, eyes riveted on her flawless thighs, travelling her length unhurriedly before stopping on her face.
“Kinda need you at the office” I said smiling as I approached her. A little fluttering, it appeared ridiculous that I was feeling rather elated at seeing her after four long weeks but I was. A thought hitting me as I reached her – how was it that Rita knew Debbie was the woman Kole was getting married to? Her name was not mentioned anywhere else. Idris? Nital?
“Really, you didn’t need to come all the way out here. Idris or Nital would have passed it along” she said, adjusting the hair that blew across her eyes as a smile appeared at the corners of her mouth.
“So you told your assistants you were getting married to Kole and forgot to inform the good neighbor” it was a question.
“I didn’t tell them” she said momentarily disconcerted.
“Seems like we all know who the groom is back at home regardless I wanted to see you too. I missed you terribly” I said in an upbeat tune taking her reluctant body in a full hug. She opened her mouth to say something but stopped short.
“Barely gone few hours and I’m missed. I’m flattered” she said as she met my eyes and I dropped my hands.
“Did you give notice?” I asked coyly, putting on my boyish grin.
“I did”
“Great! Now I can’t sue you” I said with a frown as she laughed freely; almost as if she was happy to see me. It was probably wishful thinking on my part but I wanted to throw my arms around her and pick her up but I refrained.
“No, you cannot” she said in another small laugh, taking a step back and tilting her head to look at me.
“Leaving me without a neighbor and a business guru” I said looking into her eyes.
“It wasn’t my intention” she replied meeting my eyes before blinking and looking past me.
“So you really getting married” I said after a moment of silence.
“We all have to get married sometime” she didn’t deny it as I hoped.
“Not to the wrong man” I said tersely.
“Not to the wrong man” she repeated not meeting my eyes. We stood; another awkward minute passing between us.
“Where is the groom?” I asked suddenly at loss for words. I watched a flick of what I wanted to believe was doubt cross her expression because I was bursting to tell her not to marry him. To tell her that I was falling in love with her and had no idea why I wanted her as mine but that the thought of her getting married was killing me literally and knowing she was going to be sleeping in another’s man bed after sleeping in my arms and tasting her lips was unacceptable. Of course it sounded like a line from those stupid romance books that succeeded in confusing women but at the moment, stupidity was rational and I wanted her confused.
More frustrating was the fact that I had no clue how she felt about me. With her brown eyes so guarded and body without a language as experts claim, I was going by the presumption that she found me appealing.
“He went out” she said, turning back to the house. I followed.
“Without you?” I teased. She nodded with a little laughter in her eyes.
“How is Sandra?” she asked after another awkward moment.
“I should be asking you that” I answered knowing what was coming.
“Why is that? You guys were all cuddled up the last time I saw you two together” she said not looking at me.
“I was wondering when you were going to bring that up” I said as we entered the house.
“I just did” she said stopping abruptly to look at me.
“It wasn’t what it looked like” I defended using the soap opera line I avoided over a month ago. Who knew….soap operas lines were not so bad after all. And why was I suddenly feeling like the main character? I had to let her know and do it fast before my name turned to Diego.
“It looked pretty convincing to me” was all she said before taking the long corridor I was sure led to her room. My heartbeat quickened, my pace reflected it.
“It was for a deal”
“Huh?”
“She told me she was going to help me get you if I kissed her just once…..wait…wait…I know it sounds lame but lame did happen” I said arrogantly, displaying my teeth as she laughed.
“Lame Vince. Really lame” she said as we entered what looked like the Madame section of the house.
“I see you have your own house in a house” I played, following her about as she moved aimlessly around the large sitting room stuffed with too much settee and artifacts.
“You can stop following me now” she laughed as she turned and bumped into me. “Sure……..if you promise to take me on a tour” I teased, stepping into her space right in the middle of the overstuffed space and dropping my hands on her hips.
“Vince…” she warned.
“I missed you Debbie. And I don’t want you marrying Kole” I said, looking at her as I pulled her close; her pupils darting around the room and her teeth catching her lips. Those lips.
“Vince, you can’t say that” it was above a whisper.
“Why not? I am really smitten Debbie. Can’t you see that?” I answered in a whisper dropping my forehead on hers
“Sandra is….” She was saying
“I am in love with you and whether you approve of it or not, I am not going to allow you get married to anyone else. I couldn’t care less about Sandra when I have you to myself” I whispered some more into her ears.
“…I didn’t know you feel that way” she rushed out in hot breath, her face suddenly hot and uncertain as she looked up at me, her eyes lazy, her eyelashes fanning her cheeks, her brows knotted in grim hesitation.
“I do. I always did” I said, my eyes fixed on her lips, waiting for the right moment to taste it. Holding her closely and breathing her in, I dipped my head just as she moved away.
“You have to leave now” she announced, breaking off eye contact and walking to her door in quick steps.
I was going to kiss her and nothing was going to stop me.
In three steps, I pulled her to me just as she reached the door and slammed it shut behind her before dropping my head to her lips, capturing her opened lips with mine. She gasped, calling my name as I swallowed it.
She struggled weakly but I could feel her heart pound too and smiled victoriously as I slashed her lips; teasing and nibbling at her bottom. Soon she opened up and kissed me back. She tasted of strawberry and cream; hot air escaping her nostrils. In fewer seconds, I had her back up against the door, her hands round my neck in reckless abandon. She wanted me alright and she was not afraid this time.
“Vince…” she called, breathless as I kissed her neck, grinding into her and molding her firm warm globes, teasing her hardened tips with my fingers; eager to get them out of the white lace. Without as much as an answer, I peeled her sweater off as she raised her hands in surrender.
“Vince please” she was shaking and again I ignored her. Covering her lips with mine with the lone aim of getting her naked and beneath me, I made for her white lace bra and exposed her right pink flesh to my greed mouth. I feasted on it hotly; lashing and sucking at it with all firmness and concentration. All sense of proprietary had since left me and I was bent on having her. All of her. My turgid member liked the thought and hardened some more.
“Vince no!” she was still clutching at decency, twisting and resisting my mouth as she made weak attempt to push me away.
“Don’t fight this Debbie. I’m going to make love to you until you are spent. I am not stopping. Not today love” and I returned to her left nipple, greedily sucking it as if I expected milk and soon found myself on my knees.
“Please” I didn’t know if she begging for it or stopping me but her hands at the back of my head urging me to her sex confirmed it. With a tug of hips and deep uneven breathing; she was standing above me without a stitch of clothing and looking down on me with eyes so aroused I felt myself tugging at my zip. I had to get out of my trousers or risk a bruise but first I had to feast on the offering before me.
“Oh no!” she rasped as I feasted; supporting herself with hands on my shoulders as I drove her home. I wanted her to find release and soon she found it; coming undone in my hands, her knees giving way as she collapsed on top of me.
Picking her up, she held on to me as I walked to the door I hoped led to her room. It was. The white huge bed was more than suitable for what I had in mind. Setting her up on the bed, the rest of my clothing were discarded as fast as I could and when I settled in between her thighs, she was twisting and responding to my administrations with such abandon and recklessness. Definitely a freak in bed, my Debbie. Her hair had since left the hairclip used and poured on her body as she arched her back.
“Now, Vince…Now” she said in a voice I barely recognized as hers.
“Say please”
“Vince” she was shaking as I teased her with my finger.
“Say please Debbie” I murmured.
“Please” she said in a trembling voice.
“Please what” I teased, sucking her. She gave out a frustrated cry.
“Please, just take me now” and that was all I needed.
The gasps of breath as I entered her, the hot grip of her flesh, her hands on my hips urging me and huff of hot air as she met me, thrust for thrust. The thrill of dominance and pride of being the man to make her act lustfully forced me to smile as we stared at ourselves going at it relentlessly – no one ready to concede weakness.
For how long, I had no idea. All I knew was I was far gone and had only one purpose. To breed her. The thought forced me to slow down before picking up pace again as I nearly came undone. I was bent on winning the thrust match and I could fast hear her groans turn to moan and then to pleas as I fed her some more. Her eyes rolled in her head seconds later and I knew she was letting me win. So slippery with foams at our junction, I felt her tight canal grip me as she came, screaming my name, clamping and lifting herself off the bed.
I erupted hotly as I swallowed her cry in a kiss, spraying her like never before. I was spent and stayed still to catch my breath; locking myself in her womb and smiling as I imagined little Vince swimming up her eggs. The thought caused me to harden and I choked on a laugh. She was going to be the end of me I thought; heaving and sweating but absolutely satisfied.
“Look at me” I prompted noticing she refused to meet my eyes. She stilled and then found my eyes. She looked flushed with a little gloom clouding her expression; her lips swollen and red from my kisses.
“Think you should…” she said sinking her hips into the bed in an attempt to separate herself. I groaned and settled my weight on her.
“Be careful or I will not be responsible for what you get next” I said, planting a light kiss on her lips.
“Ohhh! Vince” she was giggling; the gloomy look leaving her face.
“Keep calling me like that and I am never getting up” I teased, moving my hips in circles. I was surprisingly ready to take her again.
“Stop that!” she laughed trying to push me off.
“Marry me” I voiced thickly into her neck as I trailed kisses along the nape of her neck and moved inside her. She froze.
“What have I done?” she said in a whispered as I looked up to see a frightened look replace her cheerfulness.
“What have you done indeed” it was his voice. We both turned to see him standing by the door with a pained look on his face. I felt her withdraw from me, fumbling for decency as she reached for a pillow.
“I will be waiting outside” he said and soon walked out.
“Marry me” I asked her again going over to hold her.
“Don’t touch me” she withdrew sharply, a forbidding look masking her face before she walked to the bathroom silently.
I watched her go and felt my heart skip. I realized I was afraid of losing her and the possibility was staring at me in the face. Was she seriously considering marrying Kole after what we just shared? She was probably pregnant with my baby! I knew that was farfetched but still. I sat on the bed with head straight and eyes piercing the wall. I had no regrets and if given the chance I’d do again. How was I going to convince her to marry me instead? If only self-control was a strong point of mine. ‘Damn’ I cursed under my breath as I wore my pants.
There was no way I was allowing her get married; a thought taking shape in my frazzled mind. Caleb.
****
Debbie
From the moment he walked up to me, I knew this was coming. The quick exchange of words, the walk to the house, the much expected kiss and his skilled hands, his turgid member splitting me in half and the earth shattering orgasms that followed. As I stroked in between my legs, I smiled at the memory and wanted to cry in shame at the same time; my face heating up as I remembered how I had begged him to make love to me. Why wasn’t I afraid of him? He was a man, was he not? And how was it possible that I let myself come to first name basis with the D-word after so many years?
I hated and loved the powerless he made me feel; being needy and responsive. Thrusting boldly, finding my release, taking my pleasure. Perhaps it was because it was consensual or non-abusive. It didn’t make sense but I had enjoyed him in me thoroughly I was ready to make an update on my men chapter. Perhaps, Uloma wasn’t overly obsessed with men if she got it this good.
“What is happening to me? What am I going to do with Kole?” I covered my face as I let the hot water wash the memory off me – if it were possible. I was appalled at my insensitivity and made haste to wash the soap off. I had hastily scribbled my signature on the contract before going for a walk and was hoping he had not seen it. I had to rethink the marriage proposal. Perhaps have terms adjusted.
‘Marry Vince’ an inner voice suggested but I rebuked it immediately. To have sex with him was thinkable but to marry him? ‘He said he loved you’ the voice persisted. ‘That is what they all said before they took what they wanted’ I replied. ‘None of them asked you for marriage and it was a long time ago’ the self-righteous voice pointed out.
“Oh shut up” I said reaching for my towel.
“Debbie?” I stopped the shower tap.
“Debbie” it was Kole.
“Yes?” I held my breath and shut my eyes. I was feeling remorseful not ashamed.
“He is gone. You can come out now” he sounded too calm and for a moment imagined him holding a bat to knock me off. What really did I know about the man?
“Will be out in a bit” I called back.
“You have been in there for 30 minutes” he said patiently.
“Alright” I didn’t know I had been in there for that long.
He was staring at the bed as I came out tightly wrapped in a towel.
“I am sorry” I said sounding anything but.
“I know” he didn’t look at me.
Without a sound, I made to the wardrobe and slipped into a black gown. My hair still wet, I ran my hand through it and made to get my bags.
“What are you doing?” he asked. He had turned to face me now.
“I am leaving”
“No you are not” he said, hands buried in his pockets.
“Kole, it is no use. I made a hasty decision and I am really sorry about what happened here” I said pointing at the bed.
“You mean because you allowed yourself a little slut moment” he said with a steel face.
“I suppose I deserve that” I said, remorse tugging at the corners of my conscience. A man with less than six months to live definitely did not deserve the show of moral bankruptcy I had displayed. It didn’t just feel right.
“We are getting married” he announced.
“I cannot possibly marry you after what you just witnessed”
“Well, you signed the contract” I turned to my reading desk. It was empty.
“Kole, you can’t force me”
“I can’t? We are getting married and you are giving me an heir. That is final” he barked.
“You do realize you have six months to live” I retorted too annoyed to care.
“You may be a bright lady Debbie but you and I know that men with six months don’t look as healthy as I do” he said with a wicked wink.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked, slowly noticing the sardonic smile lining his thin lips and hard unforgiving eyes.
“I suggest you unpack and meet me in the kitchen for dinner. One should always have good dinner after such a romp plus I think the face of the woman Kole McGregor is getting married to just made it online. Who knows, perhaps we will be giving an exclusive interview soon” and with that he placed a dry hard kiss on my lips before leaving my room. I could test blood on my lips and for the first time in years, I felt fear creep back in.
What have I gotten myself into?
****
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 11

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Read previous episode here

Episode 11
****
Sandra

“I am not interested in you”
Vince’s voice replayed in my head every single time I thought of him – which was every 10 minutes. Was I truly in love with him or I loved the idea of being in love? Perhaps I was interested in the challenge he posed – wanting Debbie instead. Was she even aware? She didn’t act as though they had something and barely listened whenever I brought him up.
I knew Debbie was a hopeless case when it came to men and was pretty sure Vince was wasting his time until she had dropped the bombshell.
“I am getting married” her voice smooth and unsure at the same time.
“You can’t be serious” I said dropping my brush. She was leaning on my studio door with a smoothie in her clasped hands. It looked like she was nervous. This was barely three days after the mysterious date with her mysterious oyinbo but the giant rock on her finger told me she indeed was serious.
“I am” she said in bright smiles as she showed me her ring. I was all over her in an instant with red and black paint.
“Are you kidding me? Oh my God! This is huge” I said as I held the rock under the light. I was ecstatic mostly for her but deep down I knew I had Vince to myself now. Fate couldn’t have played it out any better.
“I am pretty shocked myself” she confessed laughing in little hiccups and holding the cup to her mouth.
“I am calling the girls” I said dashing into my room and starting up a video conference on Skype.
“Who is the lucky man? Or unlucky man?” I asked as Uloma in her pajamas bottom and red bra, a toothbrush in her mouth came online.
“Man? What man?” she asked as Tina and Eva finally joined in. It was 8:38pm.
“Debbie is getting married” I said excitedly and the gasp of breath with stunned looks had Debbie laughing.
“Stop playing with me” it was Eva. With hair so scattered and eyeliner running down her eyes one need not wonder what I had interrupted her from.
“I am your maid of honor o” it was Tina already securing a place for herself as she dug out of her bed at the mention of the ‘M’ word.
“Are you serious?” it was Uloma, looking more stunned than others.
“Yes” Debbie answered.
“Who is he? Where did you two even meet?” Tina asked taking over the chat.
“Kole McGregor” Debbie said as she waited for recognition to hit our brains.
“Oh my God. No way! Really?” I covered my mouth and jumping on my feet unconsciously. Kole McGregor was the hot designer causing such a sensation and the fact that I had not gotten an email from my precious gossip columns meant something. I rushed to my phone immediately ….my mobile data and WiFi were turned off.
“It is a lie!” Tina shouted, jumping out of her bed. She was in love with Kole’s designs and was always after Debbie’s head for dissing him at any chance she got.
Biko, no na. Cheiiii! It is so unfair. He is my dream man biko, please give him back” it was Uloma rushing to the toilet to pour out the toothpaste in her mouth and throwing her toothbrush away.
“I saw the headline but didn’t know it was you” Tina was already pacing her room.
“I saw it too. You are the mystery lady! Gosh! Where is the ring? Where is the ring?” Eva called and when Debbie flashed it, the three shouted some more. Questions were fired from the three of them and Debbie laughed them off mostly because they answered the questions themselves.
“I am coming to Abuja first thing tomorrow morning!” it was Tina already ditching work.
You no get work?” I asked her. I knew she was flying out to meet Kole.
I get but I have a new client I need to pursue to close a deal. That should sound right to Mr. Ibi” she rolled her eyes referring to her loudmouthed boss.
“I ordered some Abuja kilishi and I’d be picking it up myself. Will check you guys when I come in” it was Uloma telling us she was coming in too.
“I am definitely not missing this” Eva added. Debbie and I shook our heads and laughed before signing off.
“This is great news!” I said after the chat.
“I hope it works” she said with a meaning I didn’t quite catch but didn’t pursue. If I knew Debbie, I was sure she had made a deal and it was more of business than romance but for the first time I couldn’t care less. Vince was mine now.

****
I met the trio at the airport at 5pm on Friday and picked them amid loud noise and argument between Uloma and Tina on who was going to be the maid of honor. Eva simply shook her head and took the passengers’ seat as we walked to the car park.
Debbie joined us after work at 6pm at the Palm Lounge overlooking the beautiful Jabi Lake; looking tired but all smiles.
“Here comes the bride” Tina had shouted as soon as Debbie stepped in, eyes stopping on Debbie. She covered her face and reached the table.
“You may have to stop with the declarations. Kole and I are keeping it quiet” she said taking her seat in quiet tone.
“Awww….did you guys hear that? ‘Kole and I are keeping it quite’. Eiyo.” Uloma ,winking her long fake lashes that enhanced her round eyes.
Get away jor. Mumu” Debbie shushed.
Please tell me you didn’t scam us for a visit o. I may be happy that finally somebody go put somtin inside your v.v but I gats be sure” Uloma said after the hugs and butt pinching. Debbie blocked her ears and Eva covered her mouth with her hand.
“I hereby invoke my power of purity. Uloma…keep this table and our atmosphere pure or be fined with buying us shoes for the wedding. All in favor say ‘Aye’ I said raising my hands to the heavens in babalawo fashion.
“Ayyyyyyye” we all shouted, laughing hysterically.
“I really am getting married” she announced after we had laughed and ordered more drinks. Tina aka Warri wolf bellowed again at Debbie’s formal announcement, looks reaching us at our table were not friendly ones.
“Congratulations! At last you proved us wrong” I said holding up the glass all the more happy that Vince was going to be mine now – I couldn’t get over the thought.
“Hear! Hear! Congratulations!!!” the voices of the ladies filled the air in giggles as our plates arrived.
Over the wine and food, we teased, balloted and made plans. Eva picked the maid of honor card and jumped up so high the diners at the other table scrambled to their feet in fear.
“Sorry, sorry. I am my friend’s maid of honor” she said weakly, sitting down amid loud laughter from our table. Soon a bottle of Bordeaux arrived our table courtesy of the lounge and Eva fought to hold it all the while claiming her ‘jump-move’ got us the bottle. Uloma would have none of it and proceeded to jump up too. Loud laughter suddenly reached us from a table of guys who had been looking at fine sisters getting it on.
“So how did you two meet?” it was Tina, after the drama.
“Some request about being a judge in his show. Went on a few dates and he said I was the one” she answered smiling. I knew there was more to the story but I also knew she wasn’t going to share it.
“This is unbelievable” Tina continued, her eyes shining with mischief.
“Believe it! My girl is getting married” and I raised my glass as we proceeded to decimate the chicken, vegetables, funny flour mix on our plates, all having a taste from everyone’s plate. The next train stop was the Red Dragon club in Wuse II despite pleas from Debbie to go home. Thanks to Uloma’s new boy toy – from the men’s table at Palm lounge, we arrived at the hot club before she realized it was probably a stupid decision seeing that he kept sniffing his handkerchief. His white nose convinced us all to go home.
The next day being a Saturday, we slept in late and by afternoon, Tina was requesting a visit to ‘our in-law’. Vince was nowhere to be found, his numbers ringing out without an answer.
“He has gone back to Lagos. I will be meeting him there in two weeks” Debbie replied over her glass of ‘Eva’s Bordeaux. She was still laying claim to it.
Isho” I flashed my tongue at Tina in jest. That earned me a race round the house as she pursued me before I jumped into the pool in full clothing.
Days that followed were pool night with Uloma manning the barbecue stand.
Wia your neighbor?” Tina asked in pidgin English as she picked her nose. It was Tuesday and there was no sign of Vince.
“I don’t know. I have not seen him lately….” I said getting worried. His numbers were not reachable and most times I got the busy buzz. He must have blacklisted me. The possibility was hard to entertain and so I pushed it away.
“You mean after the kiss” it was Debbie coming out in her night wear. Eva had gone upstairs to bring her out. The tone of her voice worried me just a little.
“Ooooh! Spill! Spill!!” Eva ran up to me and spill I did. The girls ‘ooooed’ and ‘aaaaaed’ but not Debbie. She maintained a thin smile and that worried me some more.
“So why isn’t the excellent kisser home?” Uloma asked biting the hot sizzling beef in her hand.
“He traveled to London. I heard he won’t be back soon” Debbie supplied and placed a large chunk of excellently roasted beef in her mouth to prevent more answers. I waited.
“When is he coming back?” I asked after she swallowed.
“I don’t know…maybe four weeks, five weeks” she shrugged before diving into the pool. My plans of seducing Vince were put on hold but it was not going to be forever now that Debbie was getting married and Vince was out of the country.
Life couldn’t be better.

****
Debbie
The feel of warm velvet against my cheeks as I woke up reminded me of the happenings of past month. It was as if my life was on a roller-coaster and I had no control over it. Barely three months in Abuja and I was already getting married to Kole McGregor for a bargain. Who would have thought? Being president of a conglomerate had been a long life ambition and here I was getting it on a platter of gold – of course with a marriage condition. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
Lunch with Mr. Goge and Kole turned out better than I had hoped. After all preparations to dazzle with figures, it became just what it was – Lunch.
“So I will see you in the office tomorrow?” Goge had asked as the lunch came to an end. Almost too tensed to eat, I had ordered a glass of water spiked with lemon.
“I must say Mr. Goge, you are rather eager to have me move to Lagos” I noted as he stood up.
“Well, I must obey the boss. If he needs you here, I must retire” he said with humor. He was a small man but underneath was a brain witty enough to control Kole’s vast assets in the region. With his white teeth sitting on one another and lips so red, he rattled on about networks, ongoing projects, projections and partnerships…..my head reeling for the first time in years; I had the sudden need to use a pen and paper.
“Please don’t confuse my wife” Kole had defended, thankfully taking my hand.
“I must say I am not quite comfortable with that arrangement” it was Goge to Kole as they shook hands and for the briefest moment noticed a look of disagreement pass between the two.
“The arrangement is to have Debbie at helm of affairs. I have no doubt she’d do just fine” it was Kole taking my hand again. I withdrew my hand politely with a smile.
“If you say so…Boss” and he was gone.
That was 3 days ago.
“Are you decent?” it was Kole at my door. Staying in his house had been his idea. With the media getting desperate by the second, I had agreed to stay in his mini estate. The girls had promised to keep Kole’s identity a secret. The last thing I needed was my face in the news. Thankfully, I was nonexistent in the social world and had no trace on the internet.
“Of course I am” I answered getting up from the bed as he entered my room in white bathrobe with wet hair.
“So I was thinking we go pick your wedding gown today” he said coming to stand before me as he wiped his hair. The wedding was in two weeks.
“I thought the bride did that with her girlfriends?” I said walking to wash my sleep stained face.
“Yeah…for brides who are not getting married to Kole. I have a special gown in mind for my bride” he winked as I came out rubbing at my face.
“Ah! The Kole factor” I teased.
“I suppose. You know, we haven’t really talked on sleeping arrangements and child bearing. I am assuming you are willing to give me an heir?” he was looking serious now, the announcement leaving me breathless.
“I thought you were dying in 6 months” I said then shook my head as the meaning of my utterance dawned on me. It sounded like I had an agenda.
“….I meant….no. I didn’t think…no. I have not considered that” I said, a little sweat sprouting in my armpit. ‘Was he serious?’ I asked myself going to wash my face again.
“Very well then. I suppose you may want to check your mail for the contract after we get your wedding dress. I took the liberty of bringing in some of my latest designs. Sure it will fit” he said before leaving the room.
“Sure” was all I could come up with. I had to look at the contract ASAP.
The choice of wedding gown was swift. He made it for me. ‘To suit the crowd’ he had said as he brought it to my neck in his Ikoyi showroom, his manager and attendants falling over themselves from the minute he entered the large building sitting conspicuously at the beginning of the street. Despite my attempt at making him understanding I wanted a small wedding, he simply maintained he wanted his beautiful. Big or small? I had no idea.
“You want to have that printed?” he winked referring to the contract. He had noticed my eyes as they soaked up the downloaded pdf.
“I may have it done” I said jumping to the paragraph for the need for an heir. Was I getting myself into some pit latrine? God, I hope not. Maybe I should rethink this. Mr. Fatasho had taken the request lightly mostly because he said I was still on ‘probation’. Maybe I should call him and take my job back?
“Read later” and with that he confiscated my device. The fitting took less than an hour as the gown practically hugged my curves in a sinful caress.
“Perfect!” he clapped happily like a child and for a brief moment, I shared his enthusiasm as he took pictures for my friends. The gown was gorgeous. His manager was given a stern warning to keep the visit and most especially his bride out of the papers. He nodded seriously.
“So where are we having the wedding?” he asked. We were having lunch at the house.
“I am sure you have a place in mind” I answered poring over the document
“Don’t be so suspicious darling. I promise I only want one child” he said jokingly.
“I am not sure that is all you want” I eyed him warily. Sending the document to some legal ‘friend’ wasn’t an option. Knowing the wedding was making headline news, I didn’t want the document surfacing as an ‘Open Contract” seeing how Obasanjos’s letter ended up scanned, printed and hawked in traffic.
“Come on! Where is your sense of adventure?” he said taking his plate to the kitchen down the long hall he called a dining room.
“I am pretty sure this is not an adventure. You wouldn’t want me scanning through business documents just by having a ‘sense of adventure’, would you?” I asked sweetly eyeing him as he returned.
“You win!” he said, throwing up his hands like a child.
“Alright, you are bored” I said chewing on the large onions left in my plate. He sure was a good cook!
“Finally!” he tried again and I laughed.
“So what do you have in mind since you have stylishly removed my friends from me?” I accused standing to take my plate to the kitchen. He followed.
“I didn’t! I was just scared of them” he tried to look scared but failed.
“I bet you were. Who is your doctor?” I asked as we reached the kitchen.
“What?”
“Your doctor” I asked again, opening the tap. He looked lost for a moment.
“Not sure I want that information in the contract” he said and turned abruptly as if hurt.
“Did I cross a line?” I asked him as he walked out.
“No. Just got reminded to take tonight’s colorful pills. Excuse me wife” he called over his shoulders.
Few minutes later, I heard the sound of his car leaving the mini estate.
****
Going through the contract after lunch, it detailed responsibilities and benefits. Apparently, I had to have an heir or be pregnant with one to have the power of attorney to act in his stead on his demise. Absence of fetus or baby meant I would be just an employee and will be paid as such. I had no legs to stand on. To put matter ontop table as Tina would say, the paragraph meant I had less six months to get pregnant or kiss my new position goodbye. Wondering who would become the administrator of his estate if I refused, I closed my eyes briefly to contemplate my choice for the umpteenth time. What if this was career suicide? Was I being greedy to jump on title wagon? Plus I had few doubts about Kole mostly because didn’t look like someone who was dying. I wasn’t an expert on death looks but to decide whether he would look gorgeous in casket or not brought chills. I was definitely over thinking this. Suddenly in the mood to take a walk around the estate to clear my head, I pulled on a knitted sweater and was out.
The estate, floored with rich green palm trees on thick luscious carpeted grass gave an eerie feeling as I thought about my parents for the first time in years. Were they still alive? Caleb was in Abuja – that much I knew and Mrs. Thomas’s children? Would they still recognize me? Would anyone recognize me? Cool breeze gently sweeping the tarred access roads to buildings I suspected were servant’s quarters and guest chalets. The main house, a bungalow with a penthouse connected to several other smaller buildings occupied most of the land and I made a mental note to check all the rooms when I got back. Kole had mentioned a private cinema, game room and indoor swimming pool.
The pristine streets and excellent trimmed shrubs had me relaxing right before I heard the commotion at the gate. I turned to see what the fuss was about and felt my lungs expand as I took in more air than my lungs needed.
It was Vince.
****
(Oyinbo – white man)
(Kilishi – spiced sun dried meat)
(babalawo – Herbalist)
(Isho – a sarcastic expression)

****
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

Love on the 25th. Episode 8

Episode 8
Sandra
The night was all it could be – sickening. The dazzling disco lights blinding my failing eyes, the loud music and laughter bouncing off my sore eardrums, tobacco-ridden air with thick cloudy smoke suffocating my healthy lungs, countless humans milling about, rubbing off saturated sweat on me and near naked women who looked uncomfortable in clothes littered the big house. I was relentless in my search for Eva who had disappeared the moment we got down from the limousine that brought us from TheDome after the shabby show. It was not until some stoned-face gorilla roughly groped my buttocks before I realized I was in Sodom and that Gomorrah was a throw stone away. I had to get out before Lot came strolling by.
I found Eva on Timo’s laps, practically sucking off his face. I coughed at first like some cultured artist before losing my patience and giving her a loud smack on the shoulders that stopped her sodomic activity.
“Want to go home” I said, looking around the splayed bodies of drunk and intoxicated upcoming artistes who I knew for sure would go and give ‘nonsensical’ a new meaning in their studios before flushing it out to their tone-deaf Doro-ed fans. I was unusually overcritical tonight and it bordered on Vince. With his thoughts filling my waking moments and his unspoken refusal to be more than a good neighbor, it was difficult to appreciate the next available male.
Abdul, the cute polar bear of a human who I had been introduced to few hours earlier had long found some ‘blossomed-chested’ African bimbo and had left me sitting at the bar downstairs.
“Take her home” Timo, Eva’s dreadlocked rich kid ordered some guy who stood nearby with dark specs and suspicious moustache that grew as if he were some character from Harry Potter. He looked ahead as if words reverberated off him.
“See you tomorrow” it was Eva, smiling, clearly eager to go back to the peeled red lips.
“It’s already tomorrow” I said rolling my eyes and following the dreadful chauffeur out.
“Hey baby juicy” it was some skinny dude landing a slap on my butt again and this time I swiftly responded with a loud slap – a test of my 4G reflex action speed. A surprised looked plastered on his veined face and staggered away when he saw the Cyclop beside me. Timo’s Cyclop dropped me off at 4am and as I approached the quiet house with heels dangling in my hands, I was tempted to go knock on Vince’s door but decided against it. I’d see him soon enough and maybe; just maybe I’d tell him what I think should happen between us. His father would approve.
The parked car and the light in Debbie’s room told me she was home as I let myself in reveling in the silence. We were going to gossip all morning for sure, Vince temporarily forgotten. Climbing up the stairs, Davido’s All of You played in my head and I sang out in whispers. There was no doubt; I was also a Doro-ed fan. I stopped abruptly as I noticed Vince sitting at the top of the stairs with head bowed and naked muscles rippling beneath the bright light. ‘He must have been waiting for me’ I thought happily but the look in his eyes as he raised his head told me otherwise.
“Hey love” I called gently as I studied his sad face, sitting beside him. He tried a small smile and my heart fluttered. He looked so cute with his bushy eyebrows rough from excessive rubbing. The smell of sweet faint perfume mixed with his sweat reached my nose and I wanted to curl in his arms and….the thoughts in my head were not heaven-approved.
“So what are you doing sitting here without a shirt on? Where is Debbie” I asked coyly, resting my head on his shoulders and putting my hand in his.
“Waiting” he replied with a thick voice, swallowing painfully as he removed my hand that I had sneaked into his.
“For me? That is so sweet” I said playfully, resting more of my body on him.
“For Debbie. She is in your room and may have hurt herself” he said quietly as he stood up and climbed the floor to my room. I jumped up and climbed to my room, alarmed.
“Debbie, Debbie!” I knocked on my door as I reached my room and discovered the door was locked.
“What happened? What happened??” I asked Vince who stood beside me, a quiet disconcerted look on his face.
“She freaked out” he stated simply.
“Why? What do you mean freaked out? What did you do to her? Debbie!” I called in frightened rush. There was no sound and my overactive imagination had Debbie’s body sprawled on my bed with the empty bottle of my sleeping pills. I banged the door with more force.
“Debbie, I know you can hear me. I am going now but we have to talk about it. We must.…” Vince said heavily as he leaned his head on the door for few seconds.
“Can someone tell me what is going on here?” I asked no one in particular, somewhat perplexed. He turned and started down the stairs.
“Where are you going? And why is your shirt off?!” I shouted after his departing frame. He gave no answer.
“Debbie! Debbie!! Open this door!!!” I pounded on the door frantically, thinking of what I’d used to break open when I heard a click and I pushed myself in.
“Hey! You are back” she greeted with nose redder than fresh pepper.
“Don’t give me that Oliver Pope smile. What happened?” I asked, barely able to contain myself. Did they have sex? Did he hurt her? Why the red face? Why was she crying?
“How is Eva? She is here?” she didn’t answer me as she stepped out of my room, heading to hers. I followed her down the stairs.
“Debbie, stop with the bounce-off. Tell me, did he rape you?” I blurted out as we reached her room.
“No!” she turned and then as if remembering to smile, flashed me one.
“So what did he do to you? Please tell me”
“You mean what did I do to him? I had a busy night and need some sleep” she said with a formed smile as she entered her room.
“You had sex with Vince and he disappointed you?” I pressed.
“No! And why the unhealthy preoccupation with sex tonight? Been that long much?” she said jokingly as she made to remove her trousers before throwing it into the basket.
“So long!” I whined, playfully clapping my thighs. She laughed then.
“Yeye” she said with a small sniff going to the bathroom.
“So you are good? I don’t have to call the police?” I half joked.
“I am good” she said as I heard running water.
“Trip good? Where kolanut?” I asked from the room.
“Inside bag” and I giggled going to fish out a new bottle of perfume from her bag.
“How is Eva?” she asked as she came out barely two minutes with water on her body wrapped in white towel.
I went into the narrative and soon we were laughing as I described Sodom.
“She will be coming around tomorrow” I informed but Debbie was already asleep. If only I knew what she was hiding…
“Please don’t be involved with Vince” I whispered as I got up to go take an Epsom bath in my room. I wanted Vince and I was going to make sure I got him….regardless.
****
Vince
I simply could not get her out of my mind…the responsive body, tender pink lips and little moans that escaped that her full chest… This was no longer the shameless urge to take her to bed, the sturdy movement I got in my groin every single time I remembered the kiss but the look of fear in her guarded eyes as I came down on her five days ago. Why would a fine woman as her have demons? She was perpetually out of the house and slippery in the office; barely saying hello before disappearing into her office.
“So where is Debbie these days?” I asked Sandra who had just returned to the swimming pool immediately I dived in. She was practically leaving in the pool and her easy persistence and seductive moves was beginning to eat at the edges of my gentlemanliness. It was a Friday.
“She didn’t tell you?” she asked, flying into the pool to show her impressive swimming skills.
“I will not be asking you” I replied hotly before raising a brow in jest as she swam close, pressing her body on mine.
“She is with your Dad in Hilton; some investors from China and negotiations bla bla bla. Private business talk” she said resting her arms on my shoulders. I removed them.
I knew Dad was meeting with Mr Qing Pu, but I was not aware Debbie was going to be part of it simply because he had mentioned it just in passing. The thought of Dad and Debbie in Hilton had bile up my throat and I was out of the pool in no time. They shouldn’t be together!
“Where are you going?” she asked me, following me to my apartment.
“Where do you think I am going?” I asked, now irritated at her persistence.
“To the Hilton” she rightly guessed.
“You are damn right”. I said picking up my ringing phone as I got to my room. It was Jaminu.
****
The drive to the Hilton was on top speed and knowing Dad, he would be at his reserved VIP booth chanting his archaic world dominance speech. Debbie was going to be his sidekick and I refused the thoughts that were circling in my head for what they’d do after the meeting. Would Dad invite her to his room? Would she agree? Would she be willing in his hands? I honked loudly at snail sitting behind the wheel of a black Audi as I accelerated past him, his cold eyes fixed on the road.
Jaminu smiled as I approached at the desk. He was my informant at the Hilton and I tipped him heavily to keep his eyes opened and ears to the ground. If a big fish was in town, I’d be the first to know. If my father crossed the threshold, I’d know.
“They are in the lobby and your room is vacant” he said as I stopped by the reception for a handshake.
“Thanks. See you in a bit” I said picking my room card. Jaminu had called earlier to inform me of the meeting and I had told him to reserve a room for me for the weekend.
Dad smiled graciously as he sighted me. Debbie, who was backing me, was evidently in a heated argument with the most impressive Pu. I felt a gut cut as I saw her laugh and talk so freely. Who was I kidding? It looked like Dad was the sidekick or he simply was enjoying the banter.
“Mr. Pu, Vince, my son?” Dad introduced as I reached the little gathering as if he didn’t know Mr. Pu and I had met before.
“But of course. I remember” he smiled, sickly pink gums and yellowish teeth flashing as he squinted his slanted eyes. Debbie had an empty look the moment she realized I was at the table, and as I fixed her a stare, she simply gave a most annoying impersonal nod. I chose to steam internally.
“I hope you are enjoying the best of Nigerian hospitality?” I asked with a note of familiarity as we shook hands and made to sit opposite Debbie. I met Mr. Pu at the 3rd Global Economic Leaders’ Summit in China to discuss worldwide development experience of urbanization and global cooperation opportunities seeing that the Group was making plans to create Africa’s first industrial hub and China was way ahead in that regard. A partnership platform had been founded and was being built on mostly because of Nigeria’s geometric increase in population without corresponding efforts to mitigate the negative effects of urbanization. We argued extensively on the economic advantage for global corporations, African cultures and its implication on African economies. ‘African businesses do not survive the long haul simply because of unstable government policies, perpetually new faces in government and admittedly, the absence of business customs in purest form’ I had conceded and we both had laughed over some white solid substance I was sure was 100% tofu over lunch break.
“I must have a Nigerian ancestor because I feel right at home. Come. Seat. Seat!” he said tapping his laps, the Chinese-sounding chortle from his bulky throat had few people turning.
“Yes, but I need to speak with Miss Black urgently, if you don’t mind?” I said, excusing her. She fixed me a plain stare as he laughed unceremoniously again.
“Yes, please, please, Miss Black” he said, already standing up. She maintained a distant demeanor as she stood up angrily, fixing me another hot glare as I headed out of the lobby after a respectful bow to both men. I walked straight to the elevator in the reception, hardly giving her time to catch up.
“Vince!” she called angrily as I entered the elevator as if I didn’t know she was following me.
“Yes Miss Black?” I answered trying hard not to laugh as I held the elevator opened for her. She stood briefly, face void of expression but entering after a hot puff.
“What did you want to talk about?” she asked as a woman with mountainous backside joined us. The elevator groaned in shock.
“I think you have an idea” I answered looking down at her with sudden longing, her pink lips in an angry pout and bright eyes trying to hide the annoyance that was gradually escaping her.
“I would rather you come out with it” she snapped. I smiled patiently.
The suite was few meters from the elevator on the 4th floor and as I opened the door and stepped aside for her to pass, I perceived her fragrance and complimented her on it.
“You did not take me from a business meeting to tell me I smell really nice” she said obviously trying hard to keep her calm.
“No. I want to know why you are avoiding me like some new religion!” I said coming to stand infront of her; my hands itching to drag her into my arms but restraining myself.
“I am not avoiding you” she answered lightly and I felt like hitting the wall. Here I was absolutely affected by this woman and she was giving me attitude. What was it about her that got under my skin? The fact that Dad was grooming her or the fact that she was all I wanted in a woman. Which, I couldn’t tell but I was sure it rested towards the latter.
“Yes you are. You must tell me what went wrong. Why did you freeze up on me?” I demanded a little forcefully. She looked at me with a pained look that she briefly replaced with another blank look.
“I am sorry that I allowed myself a moment of weakness. It will not happen again” she said and stood up heading to the door.
“Kissing me isn’t weakness! And it will happen again” I snapped too.
“Are you afraid I will hurt you?” I continued calmly.
“I am not wired to have relationships. It is unprofessional to sleep with the boss’s son” she turned to face the window but I heard the strain in her voice.
“How professional is it to sleep with the boss?” I taunted knowing she was going to defend herself. She didn’t.
“I can’t believe this” she said, dismissing the conversation and heading to the door.
“You may have to stay right here for a while” I said sliding the card in my pocket. She gave me an evil look.
“You are going to eventually let me out. That much I am certain” she said walking back to the center of the room, taking her seat.
We sat quietly, watching each other.
“Need a drink?” I asked finally going over to the telephone. This was ridiculous; I had no idea why I was holding her hostage but having her alone to myself was exciting.
“Yes please” she said taking off her shoes and increasing the volume of the TV I had switched on minutes ago.
I ordered a bottle of champagne and ice cubes. After a pour and a gulp, she watched the TV intently.
“Ready to talk to me yet?” I asked after 30 minutes.
“For the umpteenth time, I don’t think we have anything to talk about. I suggest you let me out” she said plainly.
“I am no shrink but I know you have issues” I said coming to stand infront of her. She looked up at me.
“Yea? What gave you that idea? My stripes?” she retorted hotly, staring at me.
“Maybe. We are not leaving here until you tell me who hurt you and why every other man should pay for it” I tried as we stared at ourselves.
“This is not working. Let me out” she mouthed before taking a sip from her untouched glass.
“So, what do you want to watch?” I asked, making conversation.
“Not sure” she answered calmly.
“I am hungry”
“Me too”
“Food then”
“No. I’d rather starve. Makes the whole hostage situation a little fun” she said smiling at me and I found myself smiling back.
“Well, I happen to be the kidnapper and need my strength. Don’t know how the business works but I am pretty sure the hostage needs to be alive for the trade” I answered, picking up the receiver to make an order. She laughed then.
“You are unbelievable”
The hot plate of pounded yam and Egusi soup was rolled into the suite few minutes later and I was fast ushering the white uniformed man out. I was famished.
“Interested?” I asked taking a scoop in a plate.
“No. I await my rescue” she teased and we laughed. The air was lighter and I found myself settling into it.
“So, what did Mr. Qing want?” I asked, starting another banter to which she warmed up to in no time. We talked for a while as she sipped her drink and decided to help herself to the soup.
“I really like you Debbie. You must know that by now” I said after we had exhausted business topics.
“You have a funny way of showing it” she said and I laughed.
“You are an unusual being. One must devise new ways to getting your attention” I added.
“You sound really desperate. Taking a hostage, really?” she rolled her eyes playfully and for a moment, I was tempted to seduce her but I knew what would happen if I were to kiss her again.
“Confinement was what I was going for but this works too” I said dropping our ceramic plates and settling in her front.
“I suppose that’s the position for listening to my man tales” she said sarcastically.
“I am glad we are getting somewhere” I studied her for a long time.
“My husband tried to kill me” she blurted out and her eyes watered instantly. While I was ready to listen to what she had to say, I was caught off guard by the revelation.
“I am so sorry” I volunteered weakly for a lack of a better reply.
“We married so young and disagreed a lot. Sexual abuses and he tried burning me alive at some point – the reason I have burnt stripes. I could go into details which I would rather not but I need you to understand that I freaked out because that was the position he held me while the mattress burnt my back. It has been a long time and I apologize for freaking out. I wasn’t ready for it. Never will be” She explained quickly, her eyes darting across the room.
“Seems we will have to try another position” I said trying humor. Her eyes smiled but it did not reach her lips.
“I am sorry” I said taking her hand in mine as tears rolled down her eyes in desperate attempt to hide the truth.
“Sorry” she said, cleaning her eyes with the handkerchief I gave her, her nose already getting red.
“You shouldn’t be” I said as I stood up, taking her in my hands as she came willing, sniffing and hugging me. It was clear as day. Debbie was lying. She was never one to avoid eye contact and if there was ever a cock and bull story, Debbie was telling one of the biggest. I was determined more than ever to find out what exactly she was hiding and why my father had hired her.
And I was going to pay the hunchback a visit.
Who really was Debbie Black?

****

Love on the 25th is written by Uneñ Ameji. Author of “Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger” available on African Stories. Get a copy. She is @UnenAmeji on twitter.