M.O.T.I.V.E.S – Episode 2

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Hey guys,
Good week?
Looking forward to 1st May? We are…
Read Episode Two of M.O.T.I.V.E.S by Unen Ameji

Didn’t catch Episode One? Yup, Read Here
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Episode Two – M.O.T.I.V.E.S

*****
“Gala, Gala, Gala, Gala, Ptttff! La’Casera” it was Victor Dakar shouting like the determined hustler that he was on the Nyanya-Maraba Expressway, hawking. Victor Dakar – a name he had given himself 11 years ago – was a name without roots. He was a man with no identity but a man who instinctively knew his worth, even if it came by hawking to meet his needs. He was a man who would find himself, a man who would be a victor. He knew he had been born in Dakar, Senegal – that much, his mother had told him before tossing him out on that cold rainy night with nothing but his backpack filled with crispy notes amounting to a million Naira. The unwanted was cast out.
A loud blare of car horns brought him back to the present as he narrowly missed been hit by a bus. He couldn’t afford memories now and consciously replaced irking thought with the thought of the car he was going to buy as soon as he made the last deposit. Skillfully, he watched for forlorn faces in cars stuck in the heavy traffic waiting for a facial expression that looked like hunger, boredom or a mixture of both. Most often than not, these expressions made sales and he had packaged his dynamic duo – Gala and La’Casera in light green almost transparent leather bags. It was easier to sell and made profit for two products with just a single sale.
“Gala! Gala” he bellowed as he held the last two leather bags for the day walking in the direction of his shack nested beneath the footpath leading to his Kubgo residence, as he fondly called it.
Just then, a white Lincoln Navigator parked across the road and a lady came out.
“Gala!” it was a single call but a ton of eager young boys flew across the Expressway to answer the call. He looked at the owner of the voice and turned back to continue his search for buyers of his last two leather bags.
He had just sold the last of his bags when he felt a sweaty hand on his bare back.
Na you she dey call” it was a cashew nut seller.
Victor looked across the road to the woman in a body clinging black gown that stopped at her knees, standing in impossibly high pink pumps. She didn’t look like she was interested in gala or his La’casera, moreover he had just sold the last of it. He obliged her all the same and crossed over.
“Good evening Ma” he greeted, holding his empty bag.
“Good evening. I saw you hawking your gala in leather bags and must say I am impressed. You see, I have a new product and I think you will do great with the marketing” she said airily.
“I can give you my number and I come see it tomorrow” he replied watching her face intensely. Something told him she wasn’t about selling anything.
“I would rather you see it now” she insisted.
“Madam, it is late and have to make report at my supplier after selling” he lied. He had no supplier. He bought outright and sold for his pockets.
“Alright Inale, I have a message for you from your mother” she finally volunteered laughing at a private joke.
“My mother is dead” he said painfully, his jaw twitching. This woman knew who he was.
“No, she is not. You know it. Now do we continue this discussion here or are you coming in?” she asked indicating that he enter her car.
“I would rather you tell me who you are and how in heaven’s name did you find me?” he asked getting angry.
“I am Charity, Charity Ajero, your mother’s lawyer. Your mother has, well, I’d say interesting network. I would not say it was an easy find but she did” she said coolly regarding him with sharp eyes.
“What does she want from her dead son?” he spat dispassionately, refusing to acknowledge the fact that the woman who had thrown him out was suddenly looking for him after 11 years.
“Your father is dead” the lawyer said waiting for his reaction.
“I do not have a mother and I most certainly do not have a father ” he declared, turning his back and making to cross the road.
“You will be inheriting roughly about ten million dollars” she said in a raised voice. She caught his attention.
He stopped and turned to look at the woman. Clearly, she was serious and without meaning to, broke into a loud heartfelt laughter that echoed and had passersby look at them.
“What is in it for her?” he finally asked, coughing and rubbing his eyes clean of the tears that had formed as a result of the belly-filling laughter.
“Revenge” she said after a while. She didn’t find his amusement a tad bit funny.
“That sounds like her, a lot like her” he said looking past her and into the green hills, remembering the last time he set eyes on the woman who had bore him.
“You should come in” she made for the car again.
“Look emmm, ….” He called trying to remember her name.
“Charity” she supplied graciously.
“Charity, I don’t want to have anything to do with that woman” he continued stubbornly.
“She wants you to get what is rightly yours” Charity maintained coldly, she needed him to get with the program and not waste her time. Patience was not her virtue and she didn’t care for it.
“Wait, let me get this straight. She disowns me, throws me out and refuses to tell me who my father is for 29 years and then suddenly, she wants to take revenge and give me the right to inherit a million dollars?” he asked as he wiped the last of the tears from his eyes.
“Ten million” she corrected as her phone rang. She ignored it.
“What?”
“You get ten million dollars, not a million dollars” she corrected impatiently as her phone buzzed.
“What is in for you?” he asked noticing as she expertly typed a message.
“Minus my legal fees?” she asked jokingly breaking into a smile. He was coming around.
“I suppose everyone is on board with this”
“Just you” she flashed her best smile.
“Right” he answered watching her.
“Well, here is my card…just in case you change your mind. Come by my office tomorrow”
“Will she be there?” he asked, apprehensive.
“No. she won’t be dealing with you directly” she said sweetly getting into her car.
“Of course” he swallowed bitterly.
“I will be expecting you though” she said as she closed her door and keyed her car.
“Uhmmm” he nodded. She watched emotions play on his face. He would come, she concluded.
“How does one get loathed just because you reminded one of your father? A man you have never met or chose?” he asked, his eyes grave.
“You will have your answers soon enough Inale. I will be waiting for you” she said kindly.
“It’s Victor now” he corrected, feeling a little triumphant at his new alias.
“I know, Victor Dakar” she said in wink before driving away.
“And that my friend is how I got to the hawking profession” he said to no one in particular, walking slowly to his house and tearing open a gala wrap he had reserved for himself.

*****

Her office, located in a Residential Estate in Maitama extension, was not an ‘office’. It was a modern terrace duplex, completely detached and heavily guarded. He wanted to turn back but his curiosity at finally meeting a dead father had him knocking on the intimidating steel gate with a security camera.
“Do you have an appointment?” it was the security guard in yellow and red uniform. His green wool cap made Victor cringe visibly at the ridiculous outfit. The getup looked like a deliberate attempt at belittling the guard and everything he stood for, and it was working. This was the reason why he stuck to hawking. He decided what to wear, sell and what time to close.
“Yes” he answered after a moment, handing over the nicely crested business card.
“Please fill this form” the guard handed over a form and collected it once Victor had filled it satisfactorily.
“Please wait here” he instructed with authority.
“Will do” he mouthed.
Few minutes later, he was ushered into the house and left in an empty room with white walls and huge Plasma TV on the wall. The empty room which looked like a reception, had no chairs. He stood waiting for the next instruction. He smiled at the thought.
“I see you decided to show up” he turned at her voice to see a scantily-clad woman in black bikini, furiously rubbing her wet hair with a white towel. She had curves that threatened to spill from her bra and firm rounded hips that could make a man want to be a dog for a long time.
“Yes” he answered thickly, his eyes stopping at her tight nipples. Her navel captured his attention as he traced the tattoo carefully with the writings leading directly to her crotch.
“Like it?” she asked as she watched him force his eyes back to her face.
“It is an interesting tattoo. I should study it sometime” he flirted with a serious face.
“I would like that. Thank you” she flirted back.
“So here I am” he said lightly, looking at her with desire curling in places he didn’t want noticing her.
“I can see that. Please follow me to my office” she said taking the lead as she wrapped the towel around her waist.
Her office was surprisingly professional, furnished with an impressive library and dark brown mahogany shelves carrying law books and extremely large blue bonded book collections. The cold office had a Yanni’s First Touch playing softly in the background and News on Al Jazeera on her TV playing noiselessly. It was the news on the late tycoon’s death on repeat.
She walked over to the wardrobe and eased a wrap gown from the hanger over her shoulders, letting the towel fall and walking over to her desk. He was tempted to ask her to pick up the towel, he hated littered room.
“You can pick it up if it bothers you” she said simply, catching the disapproval in his eyes.
“So, who is my father?” he asked as he took a seat across from her.
“Was, he is dead”
“Right. Who was my father?” he asked watching her power her laptop and reach for a file simultaneously.
“You may know him, you may not” she said handing him the heavy file.
“This is one hell of a file” he commented dryly but felt a little heart kick.
“I decided not to print all of it. Enjoy. What do you want for lunch?” she asked picking up her intercom.
“Pounded yam, Vegetable soup and assorted meat. Pineapple juice, freshly squeezed would do. Thanks” he smiled.
“You know, for one who hawks for a living, I am surprised you know what pounded yam and assorted meat is” she said sarcastically dialing her kitchen.
“I am going to be roughly ten million dollars richer, I think it is about time I started ordering like a millionaire” he threw her words at her with a piercing look and a twitch in his lips, stopping a grin from coming out.
“I see” she smiled repeating his order and asking for spinach sauce and samosa for herself. Victor made a face before standing up with the file and going over to the comfortable sofas across the office. He sat down and took a deep breath and then he opened the file.
The moment Victor opened the file, his eyes popped at the identity of the man who was said to be his father. Chief Badmus Bello, the dead Tycoon and political Godfather. The one man who he had tried to meet severally and had had the honor of driving in his convoy for a day before he was accused of stealing and picked up by the police only to be warned off after an anonymous bail was posted.
He could not believe and closed it to look at Charity. She nodded, the seriousness and intensity told him this was not made up. He took a deep breath before opening it again. And he read. The exact dates, early pictures, his present net worth, investments, his family, rumors and alliances, the double-shady dealings and the women – it was a complete biography, only that he probably had the only copy. All doubts on the genuineness of the file and motive behind his mother finally revealing his father dawned upon him. There was not enough truck to take the filth and atrocities.
It took 3 hours of carefully studying the file to finally reach the last photograph.
“He was on the news yesterday” he croaked, stunned and disbelieving. Chief Bello could not be his father.
“He died yesterday” she supplied watching him.
“He has been buried?” he asked. He was clueless as to the emotion that was appropriate. Anger? Joy? Gratitude? Pain?
He had all of those and more.
“Not yet. I suppose today? Informants tell me his son, the Pastor your brother that is, is making the arrangements and won’t allow him be buried immediately”
“Is he requesting for autopsy?” he asked, his throat filling up.
Victor was overwhelmed with the revelation and the last piece of information in the file had been a young picture of Chief Badmus. Victor was a perfect copy of his father at that age.
“That’s the premise” she supplied pitying his predicament.
“Why now?” he asked her after five minutes of reflection and squeezing his eyes shut.
“You would have to ask your mother that”
“You should ask her on my behalf. That’s part of your job, is it not?” he spat hotly.
He couldn’t believe it. Victor Dakar, son of Chief Badmus Bello, late Chief Badmus Bello, he corrected himself as he stood up and walked around her office. He pressed his eyes with his hand to stop the tears coming to his eyes and the anger at his mother. He didn’t deserve any of it, all of this.
“Where is their history?” he asked, hands in pocket, turning to face her.
“What?” Charity was a little confused at the question.
“How did the two meet? How did I get here?” he asked, his eyes blood shot.
“Again, you would have to ask her” she stated calmly.
“Hmmm, I wondered what she is paying you for. One would think she was paying you to tell me all I need to know” he said with a tight smile.
“She is paying me to represent you. I am going to get you your inheritance” she retorted, confident of her abilities.
“It is all about the ten million dollars” he said darkly.
“What if I don’t want any of it?” he continued walking over to painting at the end of her office. He wanted to cry but he couldn’t show his weakness.
“I am assuming you are still shocked. I suppose there may be more of you”
“And how many of us will be coming out of the hiding to claim our settlement package?” he asked disgustingly.
“As many as he fathered but none who has me as their legal representative” she smiled smugly at his look of disgust.
“I sense you have an axe to grind too. What did he do to you?” he asked staring at her. She looked at him back from her seat, a minute later, she stood up and went to him.
“This is my father. George Ajero” she said simply as they looked at the painting on the wall in front of them.
“A SAN too” he noticed.
“Yes” she said simply with a pained smile.
“Where is he?” he asked.
“He is dead. Your father killed him”

*****

“These were your father’s wishes. He said categorically that on his death, he was to be buried without any autopsy carried out” it was SAN Dele Adewole, Chief Badmus Bello best friend and lawyer in an emergency meeting called by the late Chief’s brother, Abdullahi because Debola wouldn’t bulge on committing his father to earth without an autopsy and basically delaying the rites to be performed according to the Islamic faith.
“What else were his wishes? Did the wish include not finding out if he was killed?” Debola barked at the old dignified man in black suit and grey shirt.
“My son, I am telling you what the provisions are for his burial. If it pleases you, the documents can be presented. Your mother is aware of this” he said steadily, not flinching as he watched Alhaja with clouded desire. He wanted her so much it hurt but he had kept his feelings away all these years, now that the Chief was dead, he wanted nothing more than to hold her and tell her everything would be alright. He had never seen a more devoted mother and supporting wife. He would convince her to marry him, he thought unashamed that his coveted his best friend’s wife.
“Mom, is that true?” Debola asked watching helplessly as his mother blew her nose into her handkerchief.
“Yes” she whispered and blew her nose again, nodding and drying her red eyes.
Laide was seated beside her beautiful mother because she felt obligated. She had shed tears the moment she had arrived but had since stopped, trying to keep a strong face as she had been told by many to. The truth was that she couldn’t wait to have the old man committed to earth. She wanted to get out of here. She looked around for Kasimu, their eyes met and she lowered her eyes to his crotch. He froze and moved away from her view. She hid a smile.
Kole had been bailed out but the presence of policemen on the premises reinforced the fact that they were not going to let him walk away just yet. He wore dark shades and no one knew whether he was high or crying. He simply sat, watching as the conversation flew over his head and waiting for the ceremony to start before slipping away.
“I am not convinced but if that was his wish…, I have to respect it” Debola said finally defeated.
“Thank you” his mother whispered as he came close and held her.
“All will be fine. You will be fine” he hugged her and watched as his Uncle Abdullahi, the family Alfa began coordinating the burial arrangements. He had tried his best but if the old man wanted to be buried immediately, who was he to stop it. He didn’t have the spiritual capacity or faith to raise him from the dead and even if he did, he would rather let sleeping dogs lie.
The truth was that Debola was relieved and had staged the delay just to make a show. The autopsy episode was sown out of the need to object to something to prove that he, Debola Bello was in charge and wanted to be sure there was no foul play. At his arrival at the airport, they were so many reporters; his team had had to block the myriad of microphones that were pushed into his face. Now, he was sure the man was really dead. He could use the money to settle a lot of things, like his new family and the new baby he had just fathered with his former choir mistress. He saw Martha approach and the thought died a natural death.
It was going to be harder than he thought. He was a desperate sinking man who couldn’t divorce his wife because he was a pastor to one of the biggest new generation churches. He had a responsibility to his members all over the world but could ten million dollars liberate him? The answer was not comforting

*****
The man watched from a distance as they came. Each in a convoy, each one of them a rogue, cheat and killer. He watched them come out of their exotic cars and watched others drop from their private chopper. It was the perfect setting.

*****
The dark grey skies thickened furiously as family and friends of the Late Chief arrived at The Castle in convoys that flooded the grounds. Former Heads of State, past and present Governors, Ministers, Spiritual heads and Executive Officers of international and indigenous companies came in troves to pay their final respect to the icon, the big heart who was now lying in state. The condolence register had since been opened and the dignitaries flooding the exquisite large room already prepared for guests overwhelmed Sekinat. Thankfully, his body would finally be buried and everyone could leave. The sooner the ceremony was over, the sooner she could leave The Castle with the baby growing inside her. She watched Alhaja Kadirat cry from afar and took a deep breath. What did they say about widows who grieve the most?
The mausoleum stood poignant and imposing like the man who was going to be lying it. Painted in crisp white with tall Victorian columns located on manicured lawn few meters away from his favorite wild mahogany tree, the Alfa, Badmus’s step-brother, read out words from the Quran and delivered a message with Debola itching to say few words. This was his father’s funeral and here he was standing on the sidelines. He felt like shit. He smiled at the profanity and looked at his wife who looked like she would laugh out any minute now.
The official pressmen had set up cameras from the moment Chief Badmus’s body had arrived at The Castle on his private plane and the live streaming as event unfolded had taken over several stations across the country. Martha had been impressed with the turnout and with the level of dedication the political vultures came to pay their last respect. Of course he was one of them and it was only normal that they would troop out enmasse to be at his burial. She imagined his Will and smiled. She knew just what Debola had planned and she would simply ask for more than half of whatever he gets. What would one do with $5 million dollars? She fantasied. Just then, Martha noticed movement behind her and felt a piece of paper being pressed into her hand.
She turned around quickly to catch a man in black suit leave and disappear into the crowd. Looking around, she noticed the rapt attention of everyone, staring at the Alfa and reciting the last recital before they committed the body to the mausoleum.
Secretly opening the piece of paper underneath her phone, it simply read – Leave Now.
Her head jerked up and looked around again for a clue. There was no one looking at her or acting suspicious. She stood for few minutes, her heart racing when her phone vibrated. It was a text message – Leave Now!. There was no sender number.
She watched Debola focus on his Uncle. Should she take him along? Perhaps she should, just in case it was a kidnap attempt, she thought looking around again.
She found his hand and pulled at it. He looked at her with impatience.
“What is it?” he muttered under his breath.
“Come with me now” she replied in a mutter before dragging him along, eyes following them. Debola nodded courteously at the onlookers and followed Martha who was obviously in a hurry to reach the main house 500 meters. She was standing by their car when he reached her.
“What is it now Nomso? You do realize that my father will be laid to rest any minute and as the first son, I must be there” he said, heaving.
“Get in” she ordered.
“Bola, get in” she said entrusting the piece of paper in his hand. He entered the car reluctantly.
“What is this?” he asked throwing the piece of paper on her.
Just then, the loud thundering sound of an explosion filled the car that reverberated and shook so hard, the glasses shattered. The heart wrenching sound traveled the distance and they felt the impact as it flung their car against other parked cars.
He fell sideways, pushing his wife to the ground as he opened the car door, feeling pieces of glass on his body. He felt her move and then watched in horror as blood flowed from the back of her neck. The windscreen had shattered and large chunk of sharp glass was lodged at the nape of her neck.
“Nomso, Nomso” he called weakly, the ringing bell in his ears was beginning to clear as he looked around littered bodies everywhere. Shouts emanating from persons he could not see filled air but a look at the direction of the mausoleum confirmed what he thought it was.
A bomb blast at the mausoleum.

*****
M.O.T.I.V.E.S is written by;
Uneñ Ameji
Author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger on Amazon.com
See new book Love on the 25th on Okadabooks http://goo.gl/hmsKnv
W: http://bit.ly/1Il23U3
T: https://twitter.com/UnenAmeji

*****

Next week!

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Book Release: Gentlemen’s Club by Uneñ Ameji is Finally Out

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Uneñ Ameji, African Stories affiliated Author is out with a new mini series titled “Gentlemen’s Club“. It is exclusively available on the Okadabooks App.

Kindly click here to download the Okadabooks app

Get the book here

An erotica series, Gentlemen’s Club, set in modern day Nigeria, tells a different story of love amidst suspense and heated sexual scenes. She promises it would get hotter as she unveils each part, connecting myriad experiences and stories for the enjoyment of her readers.

Gentlemen’s Club…Anonymous the first of the series is about Talatu Sani-Sabo, owner of an art gallery and independent woman who wants a child at all cost. Tally is introduced to sex services rendered by the infamous club by her friend, Lucy – a bisexual.

All is set until she meets the wrong man.

Yakubu Aman, an artiste and ace music producer is searching for the right woman. He is ready for love but he finds lust. By fate, he meets a woman who he can fall in love with but she solicits for sex – A 21st century desperado.

Will Yaks choose love over decency? What becomes of their night of erotic pleasure?

Find out.

Kindly click here to download the Okadabooks app

Get the book here

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Remember to comment after reading the book on the app. You can also send in your reviews to mailafricanlovestories@gmail.com or simply comment below.

Enjoy your weekend!

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.

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

All Fun and Games. Episode 4

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All Fun and Games. Episode 4.

Aisha and Moira walked into Hakeem’s villa. Clearly they looked different from the others in their saris which Aisha had chosen for ‘her reasons’. The others wore hip dresses. Even Hakeem wore a polo shirt. Moira had been stunned by Aisha’s decision back home and she didn’t hide her feelings.
“Aisha, why do we have to wear Saris? This is the only one you have; shouldn’t you be saving it up for more important events?”
Aisha ignored her as she applied her eyeliner.
“Aisha, I don’t like this.” Moira continued.
Aisha nodded in agreement. “Me neither, but, have you stopped to think that Hakeem invited us to embarrass us? I gave what you said about me trusting Hakeem so easily a second thought and I feel we should be well prepared.”
“But Aisha, does a Sari solve that?” Moira asked looking angry.
“Yes, it does, Moira. We would look like the traditional ladies that they never thought we could be. Besides, Hakeem would be wearing a Kaftan as usual and I am sure that his friends won’t be any better.” She concluded.
Sadly, Hakeem wasn’t wearing a Kaftan. The only traditionally dressed ones were Aisha and Moira. Moira giggled softly. “Aisha, you should see your face right now.”
The others started to take pictures of Aisha and Moira as they came to greet them. “I love your dress, Aisha. You look stunning.”
“Yeah right! Stunning my a#s!” Aisha replied in her mind as she smiled towards the lady who had complimented her. “How are you?” she asked.
The lady nodded. “I am fine, do you remember me? We used to seat in the same row during the prayers when we were little.”
If there was anything Aisha couldn’t remember, it had to involve prayers. She stopped going to the mosque before her teens. She smiled at the lady as she tried using her memory. “Fatima?”
Fatima jumped on Aisha in excitement. “We were like sisters.”
Moira cleared her throat and held Aisha’s hand. “Don’t get too ahead of yourself, Fatima.”
Fatima nodded in smiles. “Honestly, I am really a fan of you ladies and your achievement and a lot of us look up to you.”
“Obviously.” Aisha replied.
Hakeem joined them. “Hello Ladies.”
“Hi, Hakeem.” Moira said.
He bowed as he took her hand. He then turned in Aisha’s direction. “You are beautiful, Aisha.”
Aisha nodded. “I know that, Hakeem.”
He smiled. “Come with me, let me show you around.”
“Easy man, I am not here for any introduction. I only came to fulfil my own side of the deal.”
He nodded. “I know, but, since you are here, why not have fun? Moira is already having fun with Fatima, you all used to be close.”
Aisha stared in Moira and Fatima’s direction and the pair looked to be chatting away in excitement. “What do you say?”
“Should I get you a drink?” Hakeem asked.
She shook her head in disagreement. “I don’t take alcohol.”
They all took their seats round a large table as food was served. “Before we start to eat, I want to tell us the real reason why I thought we should come together.”
Moira stared at Aisha. “Here it comes.”
“I wanted us to catch up on old times and what others have missed about us. We’ll take turns to talk about families, vacations and all.”
Aisha murmured underneath her breath. “Let’s go now, Moira.”
“Don’t be such a killjoy, we are just about to be let in on juicy gossip.” She whispered.
“You are so dumb, Moira.” She said through clenched teeth. “We are about to be embarrassed here.”
Moira grinned. “Not me, baby. It’s you. I have a lover.”
A coin dropped beside Fatima. Aisha jolted as Fatima sat close to Moira. Hakeem smiled. “Fatima, you are up. You will toss the bottle and the next will speak.”
Moira stared at Aisha. “Get ready.” She said with a grin.

++++****++++
Daniel approached Vicky as soon as she walked out of the coffee shop.
“We are closed for the day.”
He smiled as he walked along. “I know, but I thought I could walk you home.”
She stopped and stared at him. “Daniel, I am going to try to be as explicit as possible. I don’t love you.”
He nodded. “I know.”
“And I will never love you.” She added.
He swallowed. “You don’t know about that.” He replied.
“Why?” she asked.
He folded his arms. “Let’s just say because you don’t choose who you love.”
She rolled her eyes. “I may not be able to choose who I love and you are right, I didn’t choose to love Craig. Now leave me alone.” She said and walked off into the night.

++++****++++
Craig closed his box. “Where is that idiot, Daniel?”
Bolu shrugged. “I don’t know, I guess he went out for a stroll.”
“If he doesn’t return in good time, he’ll miss the taxi.” Craig said as he checked his phone. “We have about thirty minutes.”
Bolu took a deep breath. “Do you feel comfortable about this?”
“Who feels comfortable about anything? I got a message from my future wife that I have to get my stuffs and move to a new place; all we have to do is wait for her cab man and go with him.”
“Craig, what if you…I mean we are unable to survive this thing?” Bolu asked.
Craig shook his head. “You are not in this with me, I am in it alone. Coming with me to live in the new house is just to make sure that I am not bored there since I can’t work at the mall anymore.”
The door opened and Daniel staggered in, eyes blood shot. “You are a piece of thrash, Craig. You are a worthless man!”
Craig shook his head. “That’s what excessive drinking does to a man. Be warned.” He said in response to Bolu.
“Vicky doesn’t want me, she only wants you. You don’t deserve her. You don’t.” Daniel shouted as he tried to make it to Craig but he bumped into a seat.
Bolu helped him to a seat. “Take it easy, bro. You have had too many.”
“I have had nothing. Craig has had it all. Get out of here, Craig. Don’t live in my house anymore. Go away!”

++++****++++
Aisha smiled as the bottle top tilted slightly away from her at the next turn. An excited chatterbox took up the mantle and started to talk. “Right now, my husband and I are saving up to get money to buy our own house. We have a little boy and he is so adorable. He wants to go to a new school but we can’t afford to change his school yet but when we afford it, we would take him there.”
“So why are you putting the house ahead of your son?” Aisha asked, cutting in. “Ridiculous.”
Moira stared at Aisha. “Aisha.” She said, through clenched teeth.
“Don’t ‘Aisha’ me. She wants a house for status sake, and her son is unable to go to a good school, isn’t that just dumb?” Aisha said.
The woman took a deep breath. “It is not dumb, Aisha. My son wants a new school and a better one, but he needs a roof over his head first. We have had to patch the roof of our house times without number because water keeps coming into it and you may think that we all seated here are as privileged as you are, but we are not all like that. Not all of us made it. Some of us are still looking up to God for the day we would be better.”
Aisha swallowed.
“But until that day, we would continue to do what we can to take care of our families in the best way we can. It’s my apologies that my son wasn’t born in one of the best hospitals in this world or that my son has not been privileged to have a scholarship like I did which brought me into the same environment as kids like yourself back then in our elementary days.” She continued as she stared into Aisha’s eyes. Aisha slowly started to blink and pant. The woman, unfazed continued as the others were silent. “I will get better education for my son, but first, I will get a roof for his head, so that he doesn’t have to read with the rain dropping on his forehead or sleep in a breeding stream of mosquito made from the rain.”
Aisha’s palms were wet and she looked nervous as the woman continued. “Please stop.” Aisha muttered.
“One day my son would be able to afford the good things of life, but until that day, don’t tell me that I have dumb plans for him.”
Aisha grabbed her bag and ran out of the meeting with Moira and Hakeem chasing immediately.
“Aisha wait!” Hakeem said as he caught up with her pulling her hand.
Aisha yanked out of his grip. “Is that why you brought me here?” she screamed as tears streamed down her eyes. “You wanted me to see other people’s sufferings?”
“Aish-”
“-Don’t!” Aisha yelled. “Don’t say anything to me.”
Moira swallowed as she saw her friend in tears for the first time in a long time, the last time Aisha had to shed a tear was when her mother passed away. She was only thirteen then and her mother had been killed brutally by armed robbers. Alhaja was returning with the girls from a charity event when they were attacked by robbers who made away with her money and car leaving Aisha and Moira in tears. Moira screamed and cried so much while Aisha had hugged her best friend as she sobbed silently. One would have thought that it was Moira’s mother who passed away, not Aisha’s. Aisha always knew how to keep the emotions in, but not in this case. She was in tears as she yelled at Hakeem.
“Aisha, this…this-”
Aisha yelled. “Just leave me alone, Hakeem. I have honoured my own side, stick to yours.” She said and walked out with Moira following her.
Aisha didn’t drive home. She parked the car at a water front and gave the keys to Moira. “You can go home.” She said and walked away.
Moira followed her like a bee. “I can’t leave you alone.”
Aisha took her seat on the sand. “I really want to be left alone, Moira.”
Moira took her seat beside Aisha and wrapped her hand around her. “It’s been a long time.”
“Since we were together here?”
Moira nodded. “Yeah, and since I have seen you cry.” She chuckled. “I miss Alhaja.”
Aisha took a deep breath. “It’s been a while, right?”
“You know Aisha, you are allowed to really cry about it.” Moira said.
“No, I am not allowed.” Aisha said.
Moira took Aisha’s hand. “We can go and see her.”
“I don’t want to, Moira. It’s too hard for me.” Aisha replied. “I wish I was able to defend her that day.”
Moira smiled faintly. “We couldn’t do anything, Aisha. We were just girls.”
“Yes. Weak, Useless and Feeble.”’
Moira’s face fell. “Please Aisha, we can talk about happier things.”
“Like the woman whose son has a poor sleeping and studying condition? The woman who would let her son grow up with the notion that the society robbed him of everything and maybe someday, he will attack someone else like those bastards did to my mother?”
Moira took a deep breath. “Don’t beat yourself up, Aisha.”
“Are you not afraid that this boy might grow up to be like one of those hoodlums if he continues in those conditions?” Aisha asked.
Moira nodded. “What are you trying to say?” she asked with a smile.
Aisha shrugged. “I am going to have someone investigate her family and I’ll see what I can do about it.”
“Are you trying to say that you want to help her?” Moira asked, grinning.
Aisha took a deep breath. “Do I need to speak Mandarin for you to understand?”
Moira smiled.

++++****++++
“Wake up man.” Craig said as the pulled the sheets from Bolu.
Bolu groaned as he dragged himself from the comfortable bed. “I have not slept this well in ages.” He said.
Craig looked outside the window. “I’d get ready for work if I were you.”
“And you?” Bolu asked as he started to get into his trousers. “Are you not coming?”
Craig shrugged. “Very much later. I can’t be working at that place with this new job of mine.”
“Oh…I see.” Bolu said as he picked his toothbrush and reached for the paste.
Craig passed it to him. “What about the bathroom?”
“I’ll be late if I take a bath, can’t afford to be fired. I don’t have a cougar yet.”
Craig hissed. “She is not a cougar and you don’t need me to remind you that this is confidential.”
Bolu nodded. “I am not your problem.” He said.

++++****++++
“So, we have located her family and we would be sending anonymous aid to them today.” Moira said as she placed her iPad on the table.
Aisha nodded as she took a view from the large window.
Moira wondered what her friend was up to that drew her mind so far away. “Anything that I should know?”
Aisha turned in her direction. “Moira, I need to take that guy to see my father soon.”
“Eh, why the rush?” Moira asked taking a seat. She poured herself a glass of water as Aisha took her seat. “What is going on?”
Aisha drummed on the table nervously. “I know Alhaji, when he sets a deadline, he is set to make you fail, now, if I don’t let him know I am serious, I might just be in trouble.”
“No, I’ll say we should wait. If you take Craig to him now, he’ll smell it. Let Craig be the one to come to him.”
“What are you suggesting? That I tell Craig to go and see him?” Aisha asked.
The intercom rang and Aisha pushed the loudspeaker button. “Yes?”
“Alhaji is coming up to your office.”
“Thank you.” Aisha said as she ended the call.
The door opened and Alhaji Ibrahim walked in. “Good morning, ladies.”
“Good morning, sir.” Aisha and Moira replied in unison.
He smiled at them as he took a seat. “I hope you know why I am here, Aisha.” He started.
“We cut more deals yesterday?” she asked feigning ignorance.
He smiled. “Funny? Look Aisha, we had a deal, I am already scouting your replacement.”
“Dad, love comes softly.”
He laughed. “Good to hear you say a correct line about love.”
“You’d be surprised about a lot of things that I know.”
Alhaji nodded as he stared at the pulsing intercom. “You have a call, aren’t you going to take it?”
Aisha waved it off. “It must be something work related, we can handle it later.”
“Good to see you put work aside for family, I am undoubtedly impressed…even if it is for now.” He said.
There was a light tap as the door opened. Craig walked in a black tuxedo. He had the look of one of those ‘Hollywood stars’ and with the dashing smile that he posed, Aisha smiled back. Moira too smiled.
“Good morning everyone.” He cowed in his manly tone.
Aisha immediately rose to make the introduction. “Dad, this is Craig. He is a friend and Craig, this is my Dad, Alhaji Ibrahim Bello.”
Alhaji Ibrahim stared at him as Craig stretched out his hand. “Good day, sir. I am Craig Adegboye.” He introduced.
Alhaji took the hand firmly. “Alhaji Ibrahim Bello.”
“It is an honour to meet you, sir.” Craig said.
Alhaji nodded. “Are you from around here?”
Aisha immediately jumped in. “Oh Dad-”
Craig cut her off. “Easy, babe. Alhaji is not a tiger.” He said and smiled in Alhaji’s direction. “Sir, I am new in town. I have been in Dubai for a while now.”
UBAI???????????? Aisha’s head went into a shock. Of all places to choose??? Her father could be called an aficionado in matters of Dubai and her people. She prayed silently that Alhaji didn’t ask any further questions.
“Good to meet you, son. See you around.” Alhaji said, patting Craig on his shoulder. “Have a nice time. Moira, come with me.” He said as he walked out.
Aisha waited for Moira to shut the door after them before she started her outburst. “I am not paying for you to wear a tux that costs five thousand dollars.”
Craig took a seat. “I didn’t know that there was a price tag on your definition of ‘standard’. ‘Next time you come here, wear a tux’. Remember that?”
Aisha took a deep breath. “I am not funding that credit card once it runs out.”
“I see you put a Range Rover SUV in the house. I am not a fan of that car.”
She scoffed. “I didn’t expect you’d be. It is difficult to buy class, but that is what you are going to ride in.”
“I was thinking I could get a Porsche Panamera, I checked out the details of that car and it is hot. Or maybe a Ferrari?”
She hissed. “Listen to me, I know it is difficult for a man like you to have some pride of his own, but I advise you get some soon. I am not about to allow you ruin my life.”
“You need me and remember you bought me, you need to pet me and take good care of me.”
She nodded. “Where do you want to work?”
“Work?”
“Yes, work. Or what are you going to tell my father next? That you run shipments and I am sure you don’t even know what a wharf looks like.”
He smiled. “I know you have a personal ship, you could give it to me. Or what do you think?”
“You are a fool. That’s what I think. What else can you do with your brain, that is, apart from stealing? I need to complete your profile; my Dad would run a background check on you soon. I can’t be caught napping.”
He took a deep breath. “I studied computer science.”
“Okay then. I can find something for you. You have to head a tech group to make your resume good. Who can I call?” she said, thinking aloud and then dialled from her phone. “Hey man, what’s up? I need a big favour from you man…”

++++****++++
Aisha ushered Craig into her house with Moira following behind. “This tour is for you to be up-to-date with everything here, I don’t want Alhaji surprising any of us.” She said as they walked.
“You live in this place alone?” he asked with a great deal of surprise.
Moira cleared her throat. “I live here too.”
“There must be a pool somewhere here.” He said.
Moira nodded. “Yes. There is one in the backyard where we have the barbecue stand and all.”
“The rooms are upstairs.” Aisha said. Craig motioned to the stairs. “Where do you think you are going?” she asked.
“To see the rooms. This is a tour, please make it complete.”
Aisha shrugged and led him upstairs to the rooms. “Satisfied?” she asked as they left her bedroom.
He nodded. “Beautiful room you have there.” He said as he approached a door.
Aisha stepped ahead of him. “You can’t go in there.”
“Why is that?”
“You just can’t.” Moira echoed.
Aisha pointed to the stairs. “Shall we?”
He nodded and followed them.
Aisha knew what she was getting herself into and what mattered the most to her was her money. She would be ready to do anything to get it and her investment in Craig looked like it might be a wise one after all. She had gotten him a job and a new life but he didn’t need to know her little secret, the only thing she could really call ‘her’.

New Online Series on African Stories

Hey there!

I suppose your weekend was good and restful. If it wasn’t, you may want to call in sick take things slow at work today.

BTW…

We are super excited at having a new online series – All fun and games by ours truly @tomi_adesina feature every Monday on African Stories!

It’s the perfect story of. …why don’t you find out yourself in a bit yes?

We hope you enjoy reading it as we did.

Let’s get it posted.

Cheers.

COURTING BAIDA II

The morning was wet and cold. It had rained the whole night and the skies were of my best color. I drove to Garki II with one purpose in mind. Meet the girl that kept me awake for most of the night. The drive took less than ten minutes and I found myself parked at same spot the ‘man dancer’ had dropped her off.
I waited.
****
I did not feel like going to work today. I never feel like going to work these days. Going to see my married ex and business partner behind his desk with littered photos of his ugly wife staring at me every time I had the misfortune of going into his office gave me weak stomach and severe headache.
By the way, this misfortune happened very other day.
‘Resign already’ was Tope’s advice.
That wasn’t an option. He would win the last round too? He didn’t even know he had erred. And I didn’t tell him he had.
I was the ‘liberal’ soul. It was killing me and I was dying in silence. We started the interior décor company together and had such great plans to get married, make it a family conglomerate yada yada yada….. It was a dream I was rudely awakened from.
Stepping out, I noticed a strange car parked outside my gate. Wondering who would park out of my house this early and intentionally blocking my drive way darkened my morning mood the more. The hot coffee did not drive it away.
I approached the low fenced gate and I saw a man step down from his car.
‘Hey!’ I called thinking he was leaving his car parked there but was surprised to see him approach me.
And when he got close, I was looking into the eyes of the man at the bar. He looked better this morning. I stopped.
A stalker?
He looked good and unruffled as if he had the world at his feet as he approached. His steps were calculated and he sprang.
He didn’t walk.
‘Good Morning’ he said coming to stop at the gate expressionless. His eyes fixed on mine.
‘Good Morning’ I was alert. How did he know where I live?
‘You ready for work?’ he asked as if that was the most natural thing in the world.
‘Yes and you are in my drive way’ I stated with a known look. He knew I recognized him then.
‘I came to take you to work and bring you back’ he continued as if he didn’t hear me.
His self-confidence was annoying and admirable at same time. The firm lips spoke the words mechanically as if he were a robot without an atom of emotion.
‘What is your name?’ I asked after I studied him. He didn’t look dangerous and I wasn’t bothered about being kidnapped. I stayed alone in a 3bedroom terrace duplex with low fenced gate and no security guard. I took risks.
‘Leke’ he said simply.
‘Alright. Let’s get to work’ I announced and smiled secretly as I turned to get my keys and bag from my car. This was a weirdo. Should be fun I mused as I made to get my bag.
He turned and went back to the car.
He brought it alive the moment I opened the ‘Madam’s corner’ door and got in. I thought I saw him smile but it quickly disappeared as I settled in at the back.
‘Where to Ma’am?’ he asked with clear sarcasm.
‘Metro Plaza’ I answered with a smile.
‘Alright’ and off he drove.
‘So what do you do?’ I asked starting a conversation with the ‘Leke’ man. He was manly handsome and had the chest that God made for the head of a woman. Solid and comforting.
Yes……..I noticed.
‘I stay at home’ he answered simply as he powered the steering.
‘What do you do?’ he asked looking at me through the rear mirror.
‘I make things beautiful’ I answered as we looked at each other through the mirror.
‘I bet you do’ he said with another piercing look before taking his eyes off the mirror.
‘How did you know where I live?’ I asked taking my phone out. Tope left series of messages asking for my thoughts on Damian. He was cute of course but I didn’t want to dash his puppy love. I wasn’t interested in him or any other man for that matter. The man I wanted worked with me and yet he didn’t exist for me.
Damian had left a couple too. Lunch date when I had not digested breakfast? I declined politely.
He didn’t have to know it was a cup of coffee.
This was what I avoided-continuity.
A nice time and everybody to your tents but no, they had to push.
‘I followed you home’ he spoke after few seconds past.
‘Of course you did’ I made a call.
‘Debbie, get the cheque to the bank’ I had received confirmation for presenting the postdated cheque to the bank. Lately, I have been diverting company funds into my personal account. This was not the agreement when we started the company but right now, they were no ground rules. If I brought in an independent account, I got paid independently.
They were my customers, it was my money.
Dating me and marrying an ugly woman from his village behind my back had its silver lining after all.
Piece of black shit….I take that back. I was slowly sinking into depression again especially as Adele’s ‘Someone like you’ played round the clock in and off my head.
Like my sister Homna would say
‘Ei don become your worship song abi?’ I missed her. I should go visit soon.
Obviously he was rooting for me on leaving the company to him. He got it wrong. I may have been ‘stupid in love’ but affliction shall not rise the second time so says Pastor Biodun of COZA. He must have meant a totally different thing but this was what I got. I was working on received Word.
I was going to run him out and run him down. I was scorned and he was going to get scorched.
‘Yes ma’ Debbie said. I knew I could count on her discretion.
We were at Metro plaza already.
‘So I close anytime I feel like. I will need you to come pick me up when I call you yea?’ I said as I made to get down. The look on his face was delicious. He frowned and raised an eyebrow. I chose to maintain a straight face when I was dying of laughter inside.
‘Yes Ma’am’ it was forced.
‘Your number’ I waited for him to call it but instead he collected my phone and typed his number in seconds.
‘Thank you Leke’ I smiled then and got down.
I walked to the entrance and felt his eyes behind me. It took the last of self-control not to turn and see if he was staring. I hope he was because the walk was aimed at entertaining him with my backside alias la‘hot!
Naughty me.
****
I watched her walk away and broke into grin. She was more interesting than I had expected. Fearless and quick-witted. I didn’t expect her to get into my car without an explanation on who I was, how I came about knowing her house or producing an identity card for which I was prepared for. Her voice was calm and polished-incapable of nagging. Her eyes were engaging and found myself stopping there. Staring at her chest would have been rude.
And her lips….
……I still could not get past that. The slim belt that held her waist in a delicate hold pronounced her hips that moved seductively as she walked. I didn’t see more.
I drove out and went to work.
‘I stay home indeed’ I said out driving to Alvan Ikoku Street, Asokoro. The company had its headquarters there.
****
‘I didn’t see your car in your spot’ it was Tope. Lunch time at 1:15pm and she was here with lunch for me.
She knew I wasn’t going to get lunch.
‘I have a driver now’ I said with a wink.
‘Oh ok? Spill?’ she dropped the neat food packs on the glass center table in my office and rushed to take a seat in front of my large desk. I got it because I was hoping Dan and I would make love on it after marriage. You know office romance? Keeping the love alive? Ok, you do not. I was a fool and well……‘kinky’.
I should get rid of it. Everything reminded me of him. And he was sitting at the extreme end of the floor in his own office.
God help me. The hatred ate at me and any moment I’d go bath him with acid. I jumped out of my killer thoughts when Tope gave a table tap. They were frequent these days especially since I overheard the ‘good’ news-His wife was pregnant.
I thought I was over him but the news got me back to the beginning. I pushed his thoughts aside.
‘There is this strange guy that followed us home last night and today showed up offering to drive me to and from work’ I said standing up to go check the food parks that leaked delicious smell of grilled fish. Tope had an eatery and she had the best food in town.
‘What? Babe abeg’ she came to join me in the sitting area.
‘I dey tell you o’ I said taking out a pack of noodles stuffed with shrimps and carrots instead.
‘Where you for know am from?’ she was the pidgin voice of caution.
‘I do not’ I opened it and took a forkful.
‘So you just enter man car like that’ she looked afraid on my behalf.
‘Babe, relax. He is cute’ I joked.
‘What if him na kidnapper?’ she wailed totally disturbed that I wasn’t taking it serious. Tope was only serious when she speaks pidgin.
‘He is not. I need the distraction’ I played the jilted card. It always got her to agree to anything I wanted.
She fell for it and gave a sad knowing look.
‘Okay, please be careful abeg. All this kidnappers gist dey real’ she said and we ate amidst laughter. Damian was in love with me she informed over lunch.
‘And he told you this?’ I asked smiling but not finding it admirable.
‘Yes’ she said happily.
‘He never done for pot’ I said dismissing him with a wave. Telling my friend he was in love with me without telling me first was a total no no. Not like I needed any reason.
‘I know you don’t like him again’ she sensed.
‘You know me too well’ I smiled as we hugged after lunch. It was time to pick my god son from school.
‘Well, at least one man dey picture now’ she gave a playful tickle and I pushed her away.
Opening the door to the pregnant wife of Dan leaving his office got my bile level up. Tope looked at me and I smiled through clenched teeth as we waved them.
‘Don’t’ I said before she opened her mouth.
‘When is our driver coming to pick you?’ she swallowed her thoughts.
‘Now’ and I made the call.
‘Hello Leke. I’m done for the day. Come take me home’ I said rudely into the phone and then went off.
‘Wow! Better go get a take taxi or let’s go pick Severin from school’ she teased and I pushed her playfully as we laughed down the stairs
‘He will come’ I said totally sure.
‘Alright o’ she was gone minutes later.
****
All day I waited for her call. It was 3pm and she calls finally.
‘Come take me home’ I chuckled to myself as I picked my keys and made my way to the Central Business District. ‘She actually thinks I am her driver’ I mused but was cut short. Wande was waiting for me beside my car. She was sober looking and had her ‘forgive me love’ face.
That was what it was………just a face.
‘Leke’ she called. I didn’t miss a beat as I opened my car.
‘Don’t go’ she held on to my left arm and I shook it off. I hated hands on my shirt. It creases and I must always look sharp. Vain? Whatever.
‘I am going out now. We will talk when I call you’ I told her firmly. Gave a straight look and drove off.
Saw her stand there for few seconds before heading to her car. I knew she was going to mother.
She loved drama and I did not want to be the John Dulome or something. Titi rolled her eyes every time I mixed up the names of her favorite Nollywood characters…..actors. She would have my ears if I called them characters.
I smiled as I sighted the Metro plaza. The need to see her was peaceful as was disturbing. I didn’t even know her name and she affected me this much. I must say I had never reacted this way to a female before.
She was nowhere to be seen. I made a call.
‘I am downstairs Ma’am’ I kept the smile out of my voice
‘Come right up to M16’ she ordered. I had to smile.
I made my way to M16 after few turns and stairs. M16 was boldly written on the glass door that opened to the large chilled reception. I walked up to the receptionist to ask for no one in particular when she stepped out of her office with her jacket off. The tucked in chiffon sleeveless top revealed her long hands and full breasts that gave slight jiggles as she walked towards me. I maintained a straight face and admired her frame.
Her globes were perfect and full. They were hidden this morning. Now more than ever, I wanted her. Her smile told me she was up to something as I noticed the eyes of a man at the other end of the reception on us.
‘Good Interiors’ engraved on the wall length glass with silver-plated nuts hung at the back of the receptionist.
This was the famous interior décor outfit that had Titi requesting for new throw pillows and arrangement after every ad. They had a brand and I was impressed.
‘Ready?’ she smiled like we were conspiring and I looked around. We were on the spot light. I switched roles.
‘Yes dear’ I said pulling her into my arms and pressing my length against her delicate frame. Her slender arms rounded my neck as I took in her scent and ran my hands down her back. She relaxed and whispered a thank you.
‘Thank you too’ I whispered back and that got me a playfully tap as she stepped out of my arms and took my hand. Hand in hand we walked out.
‘See you tomorrow Deji’ she said to the receptionist.
‘Good night Ma’ he replied looking interested in the display.
‘Your receptionist is too cute’ I complained and she let her out signature laugh.
‘How was your day?’ I asked as we walked down the stairs.
My hands left hers and we both walked separately to the car. I felt disconnected somehow.
‘Good day’ she said as she made her way to the front this time.
‘The back seat is free’ I teased and she smiled.
‘Why don’t I drive you to the house? You can seat at the back this time’ she said stretching out her hand for my keys.
‘I don’t want you to drive me’ I stated with a straight face. It was going to be difficult maintaining the aloof status for long if she continued like this.
‘I think you do’ she collected the keys before I could make up my mind and held the door for me. I laughed then.
‘Seriously?’ I asked amazed at her boldness.
‘Never joke about stuffs like this’ she made a face. Her lips pouting.
‘Okay. Let’s take you home’ and I entered. Dropping her bag on the front seat, she got in behind the wheel and powered her on like she was long acquitted with Range.
‘What is your name?’ I asked now that I sat at the back totally clueless on what next to expect. She wasn’t the norm.
‘Baida’ she replied with her eyes finding mine through the rear mirror.
‘What does it mean?’ I asked. I like the way it sounded on her tongue in her voice. It was special. She was special.
‘Means Driver’ she said and broke into a laugh.
‘Light. It means Light’ she said seriously as she sped pass a red light.
‘In a hurry to get home?’ I asked.
‘Yes’
‘I am not’. That got her to look at me.
‘Haha! I will slow down’ she said. She didn’t.
Making calculated and skillful reverse, she had the Range facing the road in fewer minutes than I would have. She was a rough driver.
‘Make it easy for you’ she winked as she got down. I got down too and helped carry her bags.
‘Thank you dear’ she said as I followed her with her work bag that was heavy.
‘Nice house’ I stated as she opened the front door and we stepped into the quiet clean house. The smell was sharp and cold. Too airy I must say. The two-piece white cushion in front of her large screen was all the content in the sitting room with heavy embroidered curtains. The walls were adorned with large paintings. Her dining area was in simple Arabian rug and very low surfaced dark wooden table. It had the Chinese vibe. I don’t think I will be having lunch here. My large legs would never fold the way the Asians sat cross-legged for hours. Same reason yoga was a total no no.
‘Thank you’ she said collecting her bags from me.
‘Glad to help’ I stood suddenly tongue tied. I didn’t want to go just yet and I had no idea what to say.
‘No drinks though. I would have invited you in for some’ she was dismissing me.
‘I don’t want a drink’ I said looking at her quietly.
‘What do you want then?’ she asked looking at me with a blank expression.
‘I want to watch a movie’ I came up with the lamest excuse ever. I mentally kicked myself.
She laughed then.
‘I don’t have movies. This is no cinema’ she shook her head as she headed to the stair case.
‘I will be right down’ she said and she climbed up.
I waited and she came back down almost immediately in a pair of blue jeans and black t-shirt with her flats. Her hair was still in a bond but she had touched up on her make-up.
‘Where to?’ I asked taken aback by her quick change.
‘You are taking me for movies and you are driving’ she said handing me my keys.
‘With pleasure’ I followed her out and the rest of the evening was great. Her energy was infectious and I felt myself smiling as often as she did-which was like every minute.
‘So who was the man with you last night?’ I couldn’t get the nagging question from my mind.
‘Damian’ she said simply as we walked hand in hand like a couple out of the Silverbird Cinema. We had seen a movie with a title I couldn’t remember. The smiles and closeness was all I needed.
I felt like running my hands up her cheeks trailing her lips and planting them firmly with mine. This was lust. I didn’t care.
I do not believe love exist. Well, not until now anyways.
‘Who is Damian?’ I couldn’t resist pressing.
‘A friend’ she said without further explanation.
‘Your special friend?’ I pushed. I needed to know. I wanted her to myself only.
I paused mentally at the thought. Mine only?
‘Not yet. He may become one soon’ she answered looking into my eyes as we approached the Range.
‘He won’t’ I stated calmly taking her hands she had long detached from mine.
‘You don’t know that’ she gave a smile
‘I do. I am the man that is going to make you mine. And mine you shall be’ I declared playfully with a hand tug. As everything with me, once I made statements like this, I followed it through.
She didn’t know then but I had proposed to her.
‘Hahahahhahaha! Very funny’ she said throwing her head back.
‘We will see about that’ I stated with a slight smile.
It was 9 pm already.
‘Home yes?’ I asked.
‘Yes please’ she yawned.
‘Hungry or sleepy?’ I asked holding the door opened for her.
‘Tired’ she yawned again into my face.
The effrontery. She was daring and was not afraid of me. It fascinated me. Everyone was scared of me. Tip toeing around me and doing exactly what I told them to do. She didn’t look like one that could take an order and the mere thought of making her mine alone was exhilarating.
‘Great. Now I know how your mouth smells’ I made a face and she cracked up.
‘You is one funny dude’ she said with her small voice.
‘Are you hungry?’
‘God, no!’ she rolled her eyes with flashing lashes.
‘Good. Let’s get Baida to bed’.
She nodded.
‘You stay alone Baida?’ I asked suddenly afraid that something might happen to her as we approached her crescent.
‘Yes. You have no place to live?’ she asked resting peacefully almost sleepy.
‘I do. I am not comfortable with leaving you all alone in that house’ I stated as an old friend would.
‘You should be’ she said quietly.
‘I heard that’ I said few minutes later. She gave a weak smile and we fell into silence as I drove her home.
‘Thank you for a good time out’ she said coming down from the car before I had killed the car and walked away without looking back.
She was a weird one. I watched her open her door and disappear from my sight. I was jealous. She didn’t give me a hug like Damian. I wanted that!!!
The drive home took less than ten minutes and my phone buzzed immediately Andrew opened the gate for me. It was Wande.
‘Do you want to see me now?’ she asked the moment I picked.
‘No’ I answered more truthfully than I thought possible.
‘Well, speak to Mummy’ she said and I could hear the smirk in her voice.
‘Good evening Mom’ this was the drill. Report me to Mom and have me on speaker. This wasn’t going to work this time.
‘Leke dear, How are you?’ she asked sweetly buttering me up for her 11th commandment. ‘Thou shall marry Wande only and give me grandkids after 9 months’
‘I am good Mother’ I answered sternly acknowledging Andrew’s greeting with a nod.
‘So Wande tells me you are not being nice to her’ trust Mom to pour oil on troubled waters and use her diplomatic experience on me. Mother was diplomat and we travelled wherever her work took her. Dad was absent. He simply was not interested in having a family.
‘Mother, I will be coming in this weekend. We would talk about this then’ I pronounced. She was quiet. This wasn’t business as usual.
‘Alright Son. I will be expecting you’ she said after few seconds of silence.
‘Good Night’ and I was off.
‘Sir, Yomi came in today’ Andrew informed as I got down from the car. Yomi-the flamboyant-was my last brother. He was naturally high.
‘Great! Now I won’t find you when I need you’ I smiled at Andrew who looked at his toes. Yomi was his favorite of the brothers because he got to hang out and party. He was my errand boy but somehow he was family. He was good fellow.
‘Not going to disappear Sir’ he said shyly. He remembered last time.
I roared when he was missing for couple of hours straight. He got the message or I hope he did.
‘You had better not’ surprisingly I wasn’t ticked. I was in a good mood.
And out came Yomi.
‘Hey Big Bro!’ he called giving a slight bow with his forever slanted showers before I enveloped him in a tight hug.
‘Nice surprise. Didn’t tell me you were coming in’
‘Yup! I decided at 4pm I wanted to come in for the weekend’ he stated.
‘Good. Stay outta trouble fast boy’ I ruffled his bushy head and in we went.
I was going to listen to tales of Lagos Babes over glasses of good stuff in the snooker room.
The tales kept coming but my mind was on her. I wondered what she was doing now. Was she asleep yet? Did she sleep with her hair in a bond? In pjs or gown or nude…..
‘………….so she is coming on Saturday’ Yomi was saying.
‘Who is coming?’ I asked.
‘Sandra’ he looked surprised.
‘I am sleepy. We talk some more tomorrow’ I gave him a firm grip on his shoulder blade and went up.
I needed a clear head for tomorrow.