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“She what?” Dike held laughter on his face as he looked into his friend’s equally amused eyes that twinkled in the dimness of the office they were seated in.
“She kissed him!” His friend replied in laughter and Dike laughed as well but he stopped just as he started.
“Why did she kiss him?”
“You know how Dami is nau. She was in one of her moods and wanted to piss me off. So she grabbed the poor boy and forced her tongue into his mouth!” Dike’s friend came apart in laughter again. “You should have seen his face when she finally freed his lips. It was classic.”
Dike expressed slight amusement, then frowned. “Who is this boy sef?”
“You won’t know him. Some corper like that. But from what I can tell, she really likes him. She has even mentioned that I move him to a better office.”
Dike grunted and hissed.
“Na madam she be nau,” the other man chuckled. “She has shares in the firm too. She’s also demanding to be senior partner.”
Dike who was initially scratching a spot on his trouser looked up into his friend’s eyes.
“Felix, you have to find a way to domesticate that girl oh. She’s going too wild. And I’m saying this not because of the history I share with her…I’m saying this because I truly care…”
“Tah! Care my ass!” Felix threw a casual hand in the air and leaned back on his chair. “If you cared, you wouldn’t have had an affair with her in the first place. Dami’s young enough to be your daughter.”
“Haba, Felo! Are we going down that road again? You know it wasn’t my finest hour nau. I was going through midlife…”
“Mid gini? Mtsheew! Make I no slap your face with shovel this evening! Commot dia! If Damaris had willingly given you access, you would have hit that thing without stopping.” Felix leaned forward. “And speaking of which… Kachi spoke with Ene after the naming yesterday.”
“And?” Dike frowned.
“You cannot let this get back to Kachi because Ene promised to keep it a secret.”
“What did she tell her?”
“She thinks you’re cheating again.”
Dike made a snout and turned his face away. “She’s always suspecting me. If she thinks I’m not faithful, she should willingly divorce me.”
“But are you cheating?”
“Me? With who nau? Abeg, I no get time for that one now.”
“Na so.” Felix didn’t believe him. “Jokes apart, Dike, if you’re having an affair, you better stop.”
“You don start again.”
“But mehn, what happened to you? You used to be one of the few good guys around.”
“And nothing has changed.”
“But dude, I’m telling you. Extra-marital affairs are not worth the trouble in the end. Look at me. Happily married for fifteen years and I have been faithful to my wife the entire time.”
“Because Ene is a good woman. She treats you like a king, she doesn’t nag…”
“And na Kachi come be bad wife?”
“Felo, you no understand. I’m not admitting to anything but when you have a wife like Kachi, it’s hard to be devoted to her. I dey tell you. Na women dey cause their own wahala for dis world.”
“Me, I’ve said my own. You cheat on your wife and your blessings begin to diminish. I’m suspecting that it might be the reason for your failure in business.”
Dike laughed. “Felo, you for just become pastor make all of us hear word. See, no mind Kachi. Make she dey dia dey suspect me, make she no concentrate on reviving her womb for another child.”
“Yeah, I heard about that too. It’s about time…”
The intercom on Felix’s table buzzed and he answered.
“Mr. Enenche, your four o’clock is here,” his secretary chirped.
“Tell them to wait,” Felix replied.
“E be like say na go get me now.” Dike stood to his feet and straightened his trousers. “How far with that your investigation on that website nau?” he asked Felix.
“I’m still on it.”
“Not yet oh but I swear if I catch the guys behind that thing, it will be bad for them.”
“But you go blame dem? Dami is unruly, seeing four guys at the same time and with this one she just kissed… then before the month runs out, she’ll dump them all and go for new meat. You really have to control her or better, send her back to her modeling job abroad.”
“Her father wants her to settle down. My guy, just leave Dami matter for now. E dey give me headache.” Felix stood and shook his friend. “Good luck on job hunting and baby making and if all else fails, you should consider my offer for partnership.”
“I might just do.” Dike smiled and walked out of the office.
Kachi blew a bubble into the minty gum in her mouth and drew it back in with a pop. Chewing noisily, she moved her bum restlessly in the seat beneath her. She was uncomfortable, her waist felt like it was on fire and her bladder threatened to explode. She had been sitting in Ene’s car for two hours and the long wait was beginning to tell on her. Yet she held on. Dike was going to appear from Greek Elysium anytime soon and she was going to follow him to his mistress’ home. Kachi didn’t care if the woman lived in a different city; she had a full tank, a car full of snacks and even a bottle to pee into if it came to that. She felt a sharp pain in her left temple and concluded it was time to throw the gum in her mouth away. It had awoken her migraine veins and stiffened her jaw. She let down the window and spat it out. Next, she looked for something else to put in her mouth. She found a can of Pringles and went for it.
Somewhere else in town, in a popular private clinic in Maitama, Temi had just been handed her blood test results. She carefully dropped her handbag on the waiting bench behind her, stared at the paper in her hands numbly and spoke incoherently to the nurse standing before her.
“I can’t hear you,” the nurse said impatiently.
“Aunty, wh-what is this? I came for malaria and typhoid test and you’re showing me this? What is this?”
“Are you not Temidire Olaniyi?”
The nurse gave Temi a nasty eye work-up that went down and up and down again before she stopped on her face.
“Am I the doctor that ordered a pregnancy test? He said, ‘take her blood and tell the lab to do a pregnancy test in addition to the other tests’. Was I supposed to say no?” She hissed. “You should be thanking God that you can get pregnant. Many women want children but they can’t find.”
“Three weeks?” Temi said to herself, still staring into the paper. The irate nurse turned and marched away. Staring vacantly in confusion, Temi slipped slowly into the waiting bench and dialed her estranged friend, Hafsa. Predictably, Hafsa did not answer the first two times until she dialed the third time.
“Hafsa?” Temi’s voice was low and shaky. “Please, I need you. Come. I’m at Abuja Clinics.”
“Are you okay?”
“Well, thank God you called. We need to talk; I’m on my way.”
Hafsa hung up. Temi held her phone in both hands and was tempted to dial Dike but commonsense prevailed and she put the phone away. The moment she dropped it her handbag, it buzzed in and she got it out. It was Dike pinging her. He was asking if she was home. She put the phone away again but it began to ring. She didn’t have to be told he was the one calling. She took out the phone and there was a moment’s hesitation before she answered.
“Where are you?” he asked.
“I’m at Hafsa’s,” she replied.
“I thought you were ill.”
“Come quick, abeg. I’m getting dinner. What do you want?”
“Rice and coleslaw,” she answered.
“Give me thirty minutes. And hey…I really miss you.”
Temi bit her lip and nodded before she replied. “I’ll be there soon.”
Kachi watched Dike on the phone as he emerged from Greek Elysium and neared his car. He opened the driver’s side door and threw in his suit before he got in. Leaving his left leg outside in typical fashion, he concluded with his call. Unable to wait, Kachi started the car and left the engine running. Finally, Dike got into his car and drove out of the area. Kachi tailed him closely but gave him a good distance. As they approached a busy street, her phone started ringing; she stared at the caller ID and saw that it was Ene calling. She ignored it just like she had ignored her calls all day. She knew what Ene wanted to tell her. It was the same thing that had gotten Kachi all riled up the night before.
“Kach, I blame you for Dike’s misbehavior. A woman should know how to handle her man and from what I’m seeing, baby, you’re not doing your job well.”
“So Dike is parking his car into another garage apart from mine and it’s my fault? Inukwa! Just because your husband is faithful to you, doesn’t mean all men are like him. Unfortunately for me, I have gotten the bad end of the stick and it has nothing whatsoever to do with me! Dike is to blame! What he did with Dami is unforgiveable! If she had not exposed him, he would have carried on with her behind our backs, not being even sensitive to the fact that our families are close!”
“Kachi, if you’re still harboring this much beef over that ended affair, why did you come back?”
“To work on my marriage!” Kachi had risen up at this point and she was towering over Ene angrily. “And it’s sad that no one is seeing my efforts! It’s all Kachi’s fault. Kachi this! Kachi that! What about Dike? Hmmm? What about the fact that he is desecrating my bed and sleeping with someone who smells like citrus and coconuts? Then he comes back home and puts that same dirty penis inside me and expects me to have an orgasm and scream out his name! I hate him, Ene! I hate my husband, yet I love him so much that I can kill for him!”
“Abeg oh!” Ene exclaimed. “See, I’m just saying you should try a different tact than this anger and nagging…”
“Please, please, please, don’t give me that load! No one knows Dike more than me and I know how best to deal with him. I will first start with the bitch he’s banging behind my back and I will show her why they fear Igbo women and when I’m done with her, I’ll unleash my wrath on him!”
“Kachi? Kachi?” Ene reprimanded. “This your anger will make you lose your marriage oh.”
“Did I tell you that I’m fighting Dike? I’m not. At least, not yet. Until I finish with the slut he’s sleeping with.”
“Kachi! Listen to reason oh. Calm down.”
“Ene, abeg, I don’t want to hear! Your over-sabi is too much. I’m going home! Goodnight!”
Kachi could clearly recall the expression on Ene’s face as she had walked away from her. Her friend was evidently wounded. She had always been a fine friend. She was the only one who had gone out on a limb to ensure that Kachi got back with Dike. While she was still in Suleija, Ene would call her almost every day and would begin each conservation with, “when are you coming back home?” It was also Ene who submitted Kachi’s CV to a new primary school in Jabi and arranged a date for the job interview for her. Kachi had reluctantly gone for the interview, making it to Abuja and back to Suleija on the same day, without seeing Dike. She had not expected the school to call back but when the call came, she knew it was time to listen to Ene’s good sense and save what little was left of her marriage. Ene was definitely the guardian angel God had put into her life and Kachi was filled with regret as she recalled her insensitive words to her. She erected a huge mental signpost to call and apologize later. Also she had to apologize for stealing Ene’s car key and driving away with the car from right outside her boutique earlier.
Kachi parked across the street from an eatery Dike had gone into earlier. As she waited, she descended on her Pringles and a bottle of warm water. Then her phone began to ring again. Ene was calling for the twenty-eighth time. Kachi watched it ring with a growing annoyance as it added to her throbbing migraine. Sighing, she visited that mental signpost and decided to pick the call.
“Dike is a married man. I can bet my life on that.”
Temi looked at the strange, scrawny girl Hafsa had brought to convince her that Dike was married. Temi had never met the girl before and at first glance, she concluded that she didn’t like her, especially her pimpled-tattooed face.
“Dike is divorced,” Temi mentioned smugly and the girl shook her head at her.
“His wife is my customer. And sef, I saw him in church on Sunday with her. She even gave thanks for the healing of their son and he was there.”
Hafsa turned from behind the wheel and looked at Temi who was seated behind carrying a stubborn expression on her face.
“Didn’t I tell you?” Hafsa scolded. “I told you but you were forming spirit and refused to talk to me for a whole month! Because of a cheating, lying bastard! Now, see. Here’s the proof and you’re still there, forming strong head.”
“See,” the girl cut in, “if you don’t believe it, let me take you to his house and you will see for yourself,”
It sounded like a tempting idea but Temi stubbornly stuck to her argument. “He’s not married. Maybe you’re mistaking him for someone else.”
“Ha-ahn! I did the wife’s hair just this last week na. She’s my client and I have her number with me. If you want I can give you.”
“I don’t want any number. Dike is not married! Period!”
The girl couldn’t believe Temi’s stupidity. “Shebi he’s that tall, fine Igbo guy with a dimple on his right cheek and he drives one Audi S6?”
Temi’s eyes shifted to the left and right as if trying to escape the truth. She sensed a wave of tears sprint up from her insides but her buzzing phone in her pocket stopped her from crying.
Dike was pinging to let her know he was already waiting for her at her place.
“Take me home, please,” she told Hafsa. Hafsa said nothing and turned on the engine of her car. The three girls drove to Temi’s neighborhood in silence and when they came to the gate, Temi stepped out of the car.
“Wait for me. You can park where he won’t see you. But wait… I won’t stay long.” She got out and walked into her building.
Kachi was doing another long wait. At least, that was what it seemed like but she had only waited for ten minutes. Dike’s car was hiding under a grove of mango trees near a house that had a TO LET post on the gate. Kachi had followed him on foot when he got out of his car and trekked to Temi’s street but she stopped when she saw the house he walked into. Kachi noted the house number and name of the street and went back to wait for him. Her heart was a bit lighter after apologizing to Ene; now, all she needed was to catch Dike in the act. But she felt he was taking too long and she needed to take a pee badly. She crawled to the passenger seat, got out through the door and stooped down beside the car to do her business. After she was done, she stretched into the car to get a tissue and she noticed Dike strolling down with a beautiful and fully endowed girl. They were approaching his car. Kachi stumbled back into the car with her jeans and underwear halfway down her bum. Pushing her petite frame in back behind the wheel, she lowered herself but kept her eye level unblocked. Dike and the girl stopped by his car and they both got in. Kachi raised herself to get a clearer view and was dismayed to find the duo kissing in the car. Unrestrained, she began to steam up like a pressure cooker and reached for her Pringles to control her. Stuffing chip after chip into her mouth, she chewed furiously as Dike continued his lewd act in dimming daylight. When she knew she couldn’t take what she was seeing any longer, she started the car and drove out of the neighborhood in a rage.
She hadn’t much to say to Ene when she dropped the car off minutes later. She simply thanked her and got into her own car and maintained her rage as she drove home.
The three girls in Hafsa’s vehicle were riding in silence again. Having said goodbye to Dike, Temi agreed to be driven to his home to ‘see for herself’. She had now folded and unfolded the pregnancy test result till it had formed dirty, rough edges. She had tried for tears but found they were far from coming. She didn’t know exactly what she felt. A part of her (that kissed Dike unrestrainedly in his car) refused to believe Hafsa and the scrawny girl; another part of her itched to share the news of the pregnancy to Dike and damn the consequences; yet another part drew her to seek the truth.
“Tems, are you okay?” Hafsa asked in concern and Temi nodded with a smile. She had missed her friend for a whole month and held back in calling her because of her big ego. Still, it was a good thing they fought, else she wouldn’t have gotten close to Uyi whom she found herself thinking about very frequently, even more than Dike. She pressed a button on her phone and the backlight came on, illuminating the car which was currently as dark as it was outside.
Temi began to thumb her phone and sent a quick text to Uyi.
Miss u. need to see u. desperately. urgently. in an hour or so. Please?
She added a batting eyelash smiley and sent the text. Uyi replied immediately with a full grin smiley.
Working overtime. Will be there when I’m done. Hope there’s food and a warm blanket 4me. Might sleep over.
Temi smiled. Uyi always made her smile.
“We’re here,” the girl said and Hafsa slowed the car. “That’s the house. They live upstairs.”
“Okay. We’ve seen. Can we go now?” Temi grumbled but Hafsa stopped her.
“Look… That’s Dike’s car!” Hafsa pointed to Dike’s Audi S6 driving down the road towards his building. As he approached, all three girls docked. Dike stopped outside his gate and blared his horn. The girls slowly raised their heads again as another smaller car came into view with bursting speed.
“I think that’s the wife’s car,” the girl sitting in front announced. Hafsa and Temi strained their necks forward to have a look. The small car stopped behind Dike’s and the driver, a short, beautiful but troublesome-looking woman, alighted from the car. Dike also got out from his car and hugged the woman, lifting her off the ground to give her a kiss that caused Temi to swallow painfully. She spied Dike’s wedding finger and saw a gold band she had never seen on him before. She proceeded to bite her lip really hard and when she felt she was going to bruise it, she chewed her nails very fast and angrily.
“Convinced now?” Hafsa asked Temi, watching Dike and his wife discuss by his car. Temi looked at the pregnancy test result in her hand and tapped the girl in front of the car.
“Please can I have that number? His wife needs to hear about her husband’s latest accomplishment.”