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Efe and Chinyere were strolling down to their room and talking about their day when Efe noticed a Black Toyota parked a few feet from their apartment. Her heart raced a little. The plate number was familiar. Then to confirm her assumptions she saw him get out of his car. He looked lean, his trousers almost hanging on his waist.
“Efe are you listening to me?”
Efe looked at her room-mate. “Ehn? What did you say?”
“I said I’m likely going home this weekend before settling down proper for project-work.”
Efe shifted her eyes back to Daniel. He was leaning against the car. He hadn’t seen her yet. What is he doing here?
“Erm – Chinyere I’ll meet you in the room. I want to see someone.”
Her bushy eyebrows drew together. “Who?”
“Hmm…Okay na. Would you be coming back to the room immediately after? Or you’re going to the library?”
“Not sure I’m going to the library. Anyhow I would come to the room first.”
“Alright. See ya later.”
Efe waved her off and turned back to where Daniel stood. His eyes found hers as she walked towards him. Her books pressed hard against her chest. As she got closer she took in the redness of his eyes and the bags under them. Despite how he looked, he was a sight for sore eyes. After she got his text she refused to reply. It was the direct manner at which he said it that made her wonder if everything was okay. She had delayed calling him till after her test.
“Hi Daniel. I wasn’t expecting you. You don’t look too good.”
He extended his hand to her and she moved close as he gave her a side hug.
“I will be fine. Just stressed. You got my text? I thought it was best I came over and we discussed it instead of doing it over the phone.”
“Daniel I know how pressed you are to do this. But do you really want to marry me? I mean . . . I know how much Adesewa means to you but I don’t want to stand in the way of your happiness. I haven’t told you all this while that I liked you because I was afraid to. You were in a relationship. I’m really sorry I messed things up with you and Ade.”
“Efe we’ve been going on and on about this for a year now. I think it’s high time we got started. I want us to get married. I have a date already but I just want to be sure it’s okay with you. It would be three weeks from now. It’s not going to be a big thing. Just church blessings, registry. Small party.”
Three weeks? “Oh -”
He rushed to add. “Or if you would prefer otherwise, it’s fine. It’s your wedding. I know you ladies are crazy about all those things.”
She chuckled. “No, your idea is fine by me.”
“Okay. So three weeks away from now is good?”
Efe thought if she had anything going on. She had written most of her tests. “Yes, it’s fine. What about all the arrangements?”
“I would look into most of them. We would keep in touch and you can tell me whatever it is you want. Who would be your maid-of-honour?”
Efe hadn’t thought about that. “Erm – I’m not sure yet. I would let you know as soon as possible.”
He nodded. “Fine. So how’s school? Hope no one is harassing you or anything.”
She smiled. “No, it’s all good.”
John carried Daniel’s daughter on his lap as his cousin stared off to the distance. He had shed a couple of pounds and the sombre expression on his face said a lot of things. It was obvious he was in pain.
He heard female laughter coming from the house. He brought Funlola over to introduce her to the family, of which Audrey had found an excuse not to be present. He didn’t want her pretending to be someone she wasn’t and asked her to wear whatever she was comfortable with. She chose a fitted green and yellow ankara dress and red shoes. Her wine hair and black hair was swept on top of her head elegantly. John had complimented her on her looks. John couldn’t deny that she was beautiful. Gradually, he was warming to the idea of her being his wife, even though he didn’t know why she had accepted his proposal. Especially when he wasn’t the type of guy she went for.
He had popped into a book-store earlier in the day. Nervous as he purchased a book titled How to please women: The art of sex. He knew he was a rookie in comparison to the expertise of his future wife. He brought his thoughts back to his cousin.
“Are you sure this is what you really want to do? You shouldn’t be pressured to do get married.”
“It’s not about being pressured, of which I’m not. I’ve thought about it over and over again and the same answer comes to me. Efe would be my wife. I would marry her.”
John’s face carried a puzzled expression. “But you still love Adesewa.”
“Yes, but it doesn’t matter any-more. Right now she’s pissed at me. Doesn’t pick my calls. Refuses to let me see her. I’ve sent her a million text messages to apologize but she doesn’t reply. What else can I do? Your sister isn’t even helping matters ‘cause she keeps looking at me like I’m shit.”
John didn’t want to be in Daniel’s shoes at all. He couldn’t imagine how he felt.
“Has it ever crossed your mind to know what God wants?”
Daniel shook his head and wagged a finger at him. “I don’t think God has anything to do with this.”
John smiled as Ulunma stuck her tiny fingers in his nose and he had to move her hand away as he felt a tickle building up in his tummy. Within him he was troubled at his cousin’s response. “Why do you think so?”
“Those are just my thoughts. But scratch that for a minute, John why the hell are you marrying Funlola? You know she’s Dele’s chic!”
“She was Dele’s chic.”
This time Ulunma placed her fingers on his lips and smiled at him. John held her fingers in place with his lips and shook his head. Little chuckles emanated from her.
“John you know you don’t mess with another guy’s babe.”
“But they already broke up Daniel. Stop making an issue out of it. I’m only doing what I heard. What God wants me to do.”
Daniel scoffed. “Better tell me the truth and stop using God as an excuse. The babe has gotten into your head and you want to tap some of that ass she has been waving at you.”
John looked up at him and raised his brow. His jaw set. There was definitely something wrong with Daniel. “You realize you’re talking about my future wife, right?”
Daniel raised his hands up. “Sorry o! Let me just face my own problems and leave you to yours.”
“But Daniel what’s up with you? Nowadays you practically sneak in and out of church. You don’t really take solos any-more and I heard you don’t attend choir practice as well. What’s the problem?”
A scowl appeared on Daniel’s face. “Guy what is it?! Are you spying on me now?”
“Of course not. I’m just concerned, that’s all.”
“Just because you have everything working out for you and you are holier than thou doesn’t mean you have to shove it in my face. I’m not like you. I’ve fallen too many times. What’s the point? Abeg, just leave me as I am. My life is a mess and it would always be a mess. ”
Daniel got up and took Ulunma from his arms. “We would talk later. Go prep for your wedding. Tell your mum I couldn’t stay for dinner.”
John watched him as he went down the stairs and to his car parked in the compound. Now more than ever he knew his cousin had gone way off the path.
Funlola liked John’s mother. She was very homely. A beautiful, confident and loving mother. She could tell where John got his own caring attributes from, but Audrey? She would have thought she were adopted if not that she and John were twins. Their father on the other-hand, was yet to be seen. She was told he was taking an afternoon nap and would be down shortly.
“You’re a very beautiful girl.”
“Thank you ma. You’re also extremely beautiful. I would equally like to look this good when I get to your age.”
She chuckled. “Don’t worry I would give you tips on how to maintain your figure once the twins are out.”
Twins ke? Mummy calm down o! Funlola laughed in response.
They both heard movement coming from the entrance to the sitting-room and Funlola went down on her knees as Senator Ngwube walked in. He was a tall, lanky man with a tinge of grey in his beard and the fore of his hair. He was handsome even at his old age.
“Good evening sir,” She said.
He looked at her, his eyes unreadable. “Evening. And who are you?”
“Darling this is John’s fiancée, Funlola Abe.”
He walked over to the leather seat at a far corner of the room and sat down. “Funlola James. Who are your parents?”
Funlola sat back down and crossed her legs. “Th-”
John’s mother cut in. “They aren’t into politics Nonso.”
“Ahn-ahn. Why are you answering for the girl? Is she deaf and dumb?”
Funlola took that as her cue. “No sir, I’m not. My father is late and my mother is a petty trader who frequents church more than her shop.”
A smile appeared on his lips and he looked at his wife. “I like this girl.”
John had warned her that his father was a cocky man and threw insults as he pleased. Funlola had assured him she wouldn’t be intimidated.
“What are your dreams in life? To be a housewife? To seat at home and wait for your husband to provide all your needs?”
Funlola noticed the uncomfortable look on John’s mother’s face.
“I would like to start my own business. I have dreams of travelling the world. Being a house-wife is certainly not part of my goals.”
“So you like business. If you had a million naira what would you do with it?”
Funlola eyes sparkled as a smile came on her lips. “I would open a store in Lagos, import goods, travel the world and see what other business opportunities await me.”
John walked in then and greeted his father. After which he took the seat close to Funlola, making sure to leave a gap in-between them. She refrained from rolling her eyes at his gesture. Do I have Zika Virus or something?
“You’re very lucky.” Senator Ngwube said, his eyes on Funlola.
Funlola smiled. “Thank you sir.”
He shook his head. “I wasn’t referring to you my dear, but my son. He’s very fortunate to have you as a wife.”
John nodded. “Yes, I am.”
“So we should talk about the wedding. What day are the both of you looking at?”
John looked at Funlola briefly then said, “We were thinking a month from now.”
Senator Ngwube nodded. “That’s very good. I would handle your reception and honeymoon.”
Funlola’s eyes widened. “Thank you sir.”
Funlola knew even as she thanked him John wasn’t comfortable with it. She made a mental note to ask him what was up with him and his dad, clearly there was a little discrepancy between them.
John’s mother rose from her seat. “Let’s have dinner.”
She knew it was a terrible mistake sleeping with Ebuka, but it was the best revenge she could come up with for Daniel. She sat on her bed with her legs folded as she thought of the past few years. She had had wasted her life on one man. He was such a bastard! She squeezed her bed-sheet tight as hot-tears filled her eyes. Her love for him had transcended to hatred. She didn’t want to keep loving such a sorry excuse of a man.
Adesewa felt used . . . And for the second time. She picked up the pillow on her bed and threw it against the door. A headache was building up. She squeezed her eyes shut and rubbed her forehead. She felt like slapping him and doing major harm to him; like cutting his private parts into little pieces and giving him to eat. Anything to make her feel better, because sleeping with Ebuka, (Adesewa almost gagged at the thought), had just been the beginning. She would show him what it felt like to use someone . . . She would destroy him.
Adesewa scrambled off her bed and went straight to her closet. She rummaged through her clothes until her eyes saw what she was looking for. Her little black dress. It had been a long time she had worn it but it still looked brand new. The lacy part of the dress was soft to touch. She took the black number out and placed it on her bed. Thereafter she went to her drawers and picked out her red underwear. It had never failed her. Daniel was pathetic when it came to sex. He was always willing to give her what she wanted and she knew he loved her. She knew his weaknesses and she would use it against him.
Little by little her plan was being hatched out in her mind. Her lips curled up in a smile. He deserved all she was going to do to him . . . And more. And Efe? Her innocence irritated her! She wasn’t so innocent when she had decided to sleep with her boyfriend. When she had seduced him. Useless twat! How come Daniel can’t open his eyes and see Efe for who she really was? A wolf in sheep’s clothing. A church girl pretending to be innocent.
Adesewa licked her dry lips and ran her hand through her hair. It was too late for him to see the truth now. She was already determined to let karma repay him. She heard her phone ring then and inwardly hoped it wasn’t Ebuka asking if he could come over. After the ordeal he suddenly thought she wanted to keep it going. She didn’t. She walked over to the other side of her bed and grabbed her phone from the bedside table. Relief coursed through her body as she realized It was Zainab.
“Ade what’s up?”
Adesewa sat on the bed and rubbed the back of her neck. She narrated everything that had happened over the week and ran off expletives over him.
“Daniel is a bastard.” Zainab said when she was done.
Adesewa rubbed her forehead. “Tell me about it. He just lured me into his arms again when he knew we were not going to be together. He’s such an ass! A big… Ape, chicken head!” She grabbed her pillow and threw it on the floor.
“Sorry babes. Don’t worry we would deal with him together.”
We? Adesewa’s forehead creased. “Together? What do you mean? Are you coming to Lagos?”
“Yeah. My mum passed on last week and she left me a letter telling me who my father is. He stays in Ibadan and . . . ” She let out a breath, “Gosh the whole thing is crap! I would tell you later on when we see.”
Adesewa was in shock over Zainab’s mother passing away. Her mouth agape.
“Wait, your mum died? Like she passed on . . .”
“What?! Zee why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you let us know? And you’re now talking like it’s not a big deal!”
“Babe. This is life. Shit happens. You either move on or you stay down. I’m good now. My flight arrives tomorrow evening. Tell Audrey please; you know how she is. I don’t need her giving me issues. When I come tomorrow I don’t want her to mention it or treat me somehow.”
Adesewa moved the phone away from her ear and looked at it. She put it back close again. This babe is not okay! “I’ve heard o. See you tomorrow.”
She heard a smile in Zainab’s voice as she said, “Don’t worry I will bring Kilishi for you. Later.”
They dropped the call and Adesewa was still processing her conversation with Zainab.
Kilishi ke? This babe is not al-right o. “Her mother just passed on and she’s eager to bring me kilishi?”
Chukwuemeka stared at Efe as she scribbled on the paper as with the rest of the class. He tried as much as possible to keep his eyes away from her and focus on other people, but it was hard. There was something about her that grabbed and kept his attention. She was young, beautiful . . . But beneath all that he knew there was something she was hiding. Rumour had it she was a mother but had her baby out of wedlock. A pastor’s daughter who knew better had committed the sin of fornication. He just didn’t understand how. It wasn’t like he was judging her, but he couldn’t fathom how and why she would do such a thing.
To him Efe was a down-to-earth kind of girl. Had a good head on her shoulders. He looked down at his phone when it vibrated. He had a new message. He ignored it and shoved the phone in his pants pocket. He dropped his feet from the table to the floor.
“Okay guys! It’s time to turn in your papers.”
The class groaned and some people asked for more time. Chukwuemeka looked at Efe to see if she was done. She was staring back at him with a blank look on her face.
“I’ll give you guys five more minutes.”
“Ahn-ahn that’s too short!” A short guy complained.
Chukwuemeka raised his brow. “I should make it two minutes?”
The boy quickly bent his head low and continued his work. His eyes found their way back to Efe. Gosh, I’m obviously smitten! She was staring at her paper, a strand of her hair fell on her face and she swept it aside. She licked her lips and looked up to find him looking at her. She frowned and Chukwuemeka looked away from her and checked his watch. They had two more minutes.
The class filed out of the room and he asked Efe to stay back ‘cause he wanted to give her the handouts for the class. She walked to him and he could smell her fruity perfume when she was close.
“How was the test?”
“Fine, I guess.”
He nodded. He handed her the papers. “Efe can I ask a question?”
“Erm – sure?”
“Would it be out of bounds if I ask you out? I know there’s a student-teacher policy, but I’m asking you three months before you graduate. I’m a man that knows what he wants and I’m willing to wait that long for you.”
Efe gaped at him.
He continued. “I mean it’s not like three months is a huge thing, but I want you to see I’m serious. So what do you say?”
“Mr Ben -”
His heart raced and he gave a nervous smile in anticipation for her response.
“Mr Benson. I’m engaged to be married.”
His smile slipped.
I.K watched her as she threw her clothes into a small leather bag. She went about it with anger in every of her movements. Her cropped hair and combination of baggy sweat-pants and sports bra gave her that tom-boyish look. He thought about the first time they had met. He allowed himself smile a little. It had been at a Suya joint late at night and they had both wanted the last five sticks of gizzard. It had turned into a heated argument when none of them were ready to relinquish it.
At first he thought she would bring up that nonsense of a guy treating the lady well and letting her have what she wanted. But that day he was starving and had been salivating of soaked garri with peppered gizzard. Zainab on the other hand could careless of his hunger. None of them backing down, and the Suya guy delighted at such eagerness for his gizzard, offered to sell it to the highest bidder. Unfortunately for I.K, he had stepped out of his house with the exact money and nothing more. She bought the gizzards.
It would have pained I.K more if he didn’t get to meet her again. He admired her spunk. He was tired of women who worked hard to please a man just so they could have a boyfriend or potential husband. Zainab was different from other women and he knew he wanted to get to know her better.
They had been together for a year and now, as he watched her pack her bags, he wondered if he could stand to be apart from her. He knew he would have his club to keep him busy, but he could always go to the Purple Lake branch in Lagos and from there they could be together. He was in his late thirties. It was high time he started thinking of settling down.
“Babe, I’m going to miss you. Nobody to smoke weed with.”
Zainab laughed. “I hear you. Don’t worry I won’t be gone for long. But if you’re missing me so much, you could come down to Ibadan to meet me.”
“It’s seriously on my mind.”
He got off the chair and went to meet her. He took her blouse from her hand and tossed it on the bed.
“I.K you know my flight leaves in an hour.”
“I just want to hug you close. Nothing more.”
He pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her waist. She placed her head on his shoulders and he felt her sniff his shirt. She had always said she loved his cologne. That the strong aroma had a calming effect on her.
“Babe you going to be al-right going to see him? I could follow you.”
She shook her head. “No. I would sort this out and be back.”She pulled back from him and looked into his eyes. “Thanks though.”
His eyes bore into hers. He couldn’t tell how she felt inside ‘cause she wasn’t one to open up. “You know you can count on me, right?”
He tapped her nose gently and placed a kiss there.
“Oya get ready and let me take you to the air-port.”
NEXT . . .
She took her eyes off the magazine when she heard her door open. She looked up to see Audrey scowling at her. Funlola restrained herself from rolling her eyes at her. She was tired of her room-mate’s attitude to the wedding. Audrey never stopped venting her anger on how much she was against it. They hardly spoke to each-other and when they did, they were headed to an argument. Funlola tried as much as possible to be cordial with her and not be in the same room.
“Hi Audrey what’s up?”
She placed both hands on her wide hips. “I want to know why you’re doing this.”
The corner of Funlola’s mouth quirked up. “Doing what?”
“Don’t act stupid. Why are you getting married to my brother? Is it money you want or what?”
Funlola dropped her legs from her bed to the floor and got up. “Audrey what did I do to you? Why do you hate me so much because your brother wants to marry me?”
“Because you break people’s hearts! You are a cheap girl jumping in and out of men’s bed. You rejected Dele’s offer to marry you and now you accept my brother’s proposal? You have gold-digger written on your forehead baby. That’s why I can’t imagine my brother stuck with you. You would make his life miserable. You must have bewitched him or something!”
Funlola held back laughter. “Bewitch him? Are you al-right at all?”
Audrey squinted her eyes. “Don’t be cheeky or rude here. Call off the wedding! Give him one excuse or the other. Maybe my brother has fallen for all the antics you’ve been pulling on him.”
“He didn’t fall for anything you think I did. Why not ask your brother why he wants to marry me. Ask him yourself and stop coming to accuse me over nothing. I have to get ready for church.”
Audrey gave a mirthless laugh. “Church?! Like seriously? You this cheap prostitute wants to go to church? You think God would give you redemption from all the men you have quarved in your life? Babe get real!”