I promised to post this on the 4th but I just couldn’t. Something happens to me when I start off with new characters. I take my time to feel them, even after writing them. I guess the ‘feeling’ time was not enough. I needed just a few more days.
I apologize for raising your hopes up and bashing them.
But I’m making up for it with two episodes, and also because it’s Women’s Day.
Enjoy the first!
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
Najib was solid as a rock. Dependable, calm, collected and trusted by his boss to keep things together when all else was falling apart. He could be snatched out of bed in the middle of the night and thrown into the midst of a world war, and yet would somehow come out unscathed; not having even a whiff of gunpowder on. Such was Najib’s fortitude and dependability that his boss and the ‘boss Mrs.’ entrusted their troubles and cares into his hands. And it didn’t even matter that he was short, dumpy, carried about a face that belied his age, and walked around with the aid of a crutch in one arm.
Najib, fondly called NJ by his boss, Pastor Akonte Ibiye, had been under the employ of the man for sixteen years. Although a Muslim, he handled Pastor Akonte’s affairs with efficiency and diligence. He also kept the man’s secrets, including the ones his wife had no knowledge of. Many times she had tried to bribe Najib into divulging them but he would simply smile and shake his head at her before walking away.
Nonetheless, like her husband, Pastor Love trusted Najib and always had a place for him at her dinner table and her heart. In the early days of her marriage to Akonte, whenever she felt frustrated over her husband’s little transgressions, she would complain to Najib who would lend an ear but give no response. She would then look at him in spent frustration and say, “one day, you’ll be loyal to me and not him. One day, you will tell me all he’s been hiding from me.”
“Yes, ma,” Najib would reply with a quiet smile.
But years would pass and that day would never come. Pastor Love would keep on being the tough, no-nonsense woman that ran the affairs of the church like one would a worldly business and Najib would remain devoted to her and Pastor Akonte. Dependable, calm and collected, never perturbed by any circumstance…
Until that cursed evening when everything fell apart and he lost his forte.
Pastor Love, after a long day in her office, had just returned home and slipped into her bathtub for a much needed soak. But her ringing phone would give her no rest. After ignoring it the first two times, she grumbled her way out to her bedroom to find that it was Najib calling. When she answered, she was met with a whimpering voice that was alien to her.
“NJ?” she called. Najib’s familiar voice came on but in broken sounds that revealed he was responsible for the whimpering.
“What is going on?”
He gave no answer but continued with the strange sounds.
“NJ, I can’t hear a word you’re saying,” Pastor spoke with much calmness. A whimpering Najib meant something was wrong with her husband. But just like Najib, Pastor Love was known for her calm in the face of chaos. If Najib was a solid rock, she was the ageless earth on which rocks like him stood. Her composure was part of her, a second nature that came with her birth and upbringing. She was born to a father who was a cold-hearted occultist that unapologetically passed down his beliefs to his children. At a young age, she had married a man who lived no differently from the life she was accustomed to, and ended up in a violent arrangement. Akonte came to her as an escape from hell. He brought with him compassion and redemption; but the members of his church were not so graceful. When they were not reminding Pastor Love of her past, they were letting her know that a woman’s place was behind her man and not beside him.
Love had also learned to steel her heart after she discovered Akonte was no saint either, and had involved himself in an extramarital relationship he was unremorseful about. Love had been wise enough not to go after her rival; and even when she fought Akonte over his adultery and lost, she had had the commonsense to build a fortress around her emotions so as never to get hurt again.
Thus Pastor Love’s personality, after a lifetime of facing the hard-heartedness of life, left in her a nature that many people termed cold and unfeeling. On one occasion, she overheard the church treasurer calling her a bitch. Pastor Love had smiled, telling herself it was a title well-earned.
“I will end this call, Najib, if you don’t pull yourself together and tell me what is wrong with Ako.”
“Please, just come,” Najib blubbered. “I’ll text you an address. Please, come.”
His text came in immediately after the phone call. Pastor Love soon found herself driving to a destination close to Sam Ewang Estate. Abeokuta had always been home for her but she had continually believed that she belonged somewhere else that was more ostentatious and flashier. Somewhere out of Nigeria, specifically. But Akonte would never give her dreams thought. The most he offered to her were trips out of the country and the two-year stretch in which she went to study business management in a renowned university in the Middle East. He would often tell her they had all they needed in Abeokuta. Why go elsewhere?
Pastor Love found the house she was looking for at a cul-de-sac. Nothing seemed special in its appearance; it was just one out of many modern houses in the neighborhood. However, she immediately sensed that it was Akonte’s haven of sin.
When she stepped out of her car, she walked towards the house expecting the worst. She had worn a pair of Gap jeans, a Saint Laurent peplum top and Miu Miu heels to confront whatever was waiting for her in the house. If this was the day she was going to come face to face with the woman with whom she shared her husband, she wasn’t going to make an appearance as an afterthought. One was never to be caught disheveled no matter the situation one found oneself in.
Najib was waiting at the entrance of the house, sitting on the steps, head bent. Love’s doe eyes rested on him and then shifted to the two cars she found parked in the compound; one belonged to Akonte and the other was an SUV she didn’t recognize.
“Najib,” she called.
Najib sat straight and shot to his feet all at once. His walking stick which rested on the wall behind him was snatched and put in place to support his posture.
“Where is my husband?”
Najib hurried towards her and when he stood before her, silent words escaped his lips. She asked no more questions and burst into the house. A well-furnished living room met her, beautified in Akonte’s favorite shade of green. Apart from the furniture and electronics and intricate ceiling arrangement that was similar to the one in their home, there was nothing else to look at.
“Akonte!” she called out, head turning left and right.
“Mama…” Najib came after her. “Please, wait…”
“Ako!” She turned in the direction of a corridor to her left. Najib somehow hurried to her and stopped her before she ventured further.
“I’m losing my mind here, NJ,” she said to him in a steady voice.
“Please, listen to me, mama…” Tears pooled in Najib’s eyes. “Please…”
He put his hands together as if in prayer.
“Daddy is… gone,” he revealed. “He’s no more.”
Najib might have been speaking to air or he simply was in a different plain when he broke the tragic news to Pastor Love. She sidestepped from him and continued into the corridor which led her to a door on her right that was thrown open, exposing a large bedroom.
Only then did some form of reaction show on her form. She froze by the door and took in a ghastly scene in the room that almost threw her into nausea.
She gagged and clutched her tummy, holding on to the doorpost with all the strength she could muster. A shiver sent strong waves through her body but she held strong, eyes focused on what she beheld.
Akonte, as Najib had told, was indeed dead. Murdered in the nude. Shot, it seemed. Blood all over the sheets he was lying on. Blood on the wall behind him. Blood on the floor from his hand that was slung off the bed.
But he wasn’t alone. There was someone else. A familiar face, a family friend, a devoted Christian and zealous member of the church. Father of three, husband to one.
He was also lying dead on the bed. Shot in the back of his head which was almost between Akonte’s thighs.
Like Akonte, he was nude.
“Ako…” Pastor Love managed a whisper. It was all she could do. The other option was to succumb to the need to pass out or scream until she lost her mind.
The room smelled of blood and a feeble trace of Akonte’s oriental cologne. Men’s clothing littered the floor. A consumed bottle of wine peeked out from beneath the bed. Akonte’s phone was ringing.
Love remained on her feet for as long as her sanity could hold her. A mind quick to calculate and fix things was already at work.
Najib walked in, face to the floor.
“I am going to ask you some questions and I need answers.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“This. My husband and Mr. Jenewari?”
“How long exactly?”
“Five months, two weeks and a day.”
“Was Mr. Jenewari the only one?”
“No. There were others…”
“No. All men.”
“From when you got married to him, just two others.”
Love shut her eyes. When she opened them, she spun and faced Najib.
“You know him more than anyone else. Has he always been like this?”
Najib shook his head. “It started seven years ago…”
“Just a year after we married.”
“There was another house. A smaller one. I was the one who got it and paid for it. I thought it was for his usual retreats… One day I walked in on him and…”
Najib shook his head with a heavy sigh. “You won’t know the man. I think he was an old classmate.”
Love faced the bed again. “Who did this?”
“I don’t know, mama. I dropped him here and left. Next thing, the gateman calls me and he’s shouting and telling me two men walked into the house, one of them pointing a gun at him. They told him to run or they would kill him. I…I left where I was and came straight down here but I was too late. They had shot them already.”
“You didn’t see anyone?”
“Does anyone else know what happened here?”
“No, mama. I called only you because I was confused and didn’t know what to do.”
She looked at him again. He was in tears once more. Akonte was probably the only friend he ever had. His family had been murdered in a religious riot in the north and he had escaped, barely missing a machete to his neck. A night lorry had seen him in Abeokuta more than twenty-four hours later. Akonte’s family took him in after their gateman found him sleeping outside their home on a wet morning.
“Pull yourself together, NJ.” Love rested her hands on his shoulders.
“He’s really gone.”
Love tried not to think about her tragedy or the betrayal that came with it or even the ocean of tears she would cry later. Her husband’s death was a mess. And no one knew how to clean up messes like she did.
“I set my husband on fire.”
This was two weeks later. Hours after Pastor Love buried Akonte and sympathizers were draining out of the four-bedroom house she had shared with him. She was seated in his dim lit home office which held life-size paintings of him. In her company was a trusted friend, Leye, an acquaintance from her past. He also had lost his wife in a car crash two years ago.
“Najib was too shaken to do anything, so I handled it all alone,” Love explained to Leye, her eyes dry. She was yet to shed a tear for Akonte. “I doused him and his gay lover with fuel and set them on fire, and while the house burned down, I was back here, going through all his papers for important documents. And then I had Najib call the police and fire service to report a fire incident from a gas explosion. That’s what everyone thinks happened to them.”
“And the other man’s wife?” Leye asked. “Did she know her husband was Akonte’s…?”
Leye couldn’t bring himself to say the word ‘lover’.
“I told her everything. She said it was God’s will that they were dead. Apparently, she had known about them. Her husband hadn’t been as discreet as Ako. She thanked me for covering up their indiscretion and the murders.”
“Wow. And there I thought you were the coldest woman I ever met.”
Leye’s words made Love sad, and for the first time since Akonte died, there was a strong urge to cry. However, she put on a smile, stood up walked around the table and perched her bum on it.
“But Love, you’re smarter than this. How could you have not sensed Ako was gay?” Leye asked, stretching out a long leg to place over the other. He was a tall man, intimidating in poise, but incredibly gentle. His quiet carriage and classy fashion sense were things about him that Love always admired. Even now, her eyes were fixed on the neatly-folded sleeve on his right hand that barely covered the only scar he got from the accident that claimed his wife.
“Akonte never told me he was gay. I never guessed.”
“Did you guys even have a sex life?”
Love shook her head. “It was barely there. We had gotten married for convenience, not love. Kids were off the table from the start. He told me he never wanted any. ‘I’m not the fathering type’. Those were his exact words. He then made this huge announcement on the pulpit that his little swimmers were dead. He asked the church to pray that God would do a miracle in our lives and give us a baby. He did that to remove all fingers pointing my way as the infertile one. I didn’t care about all that or about anything. Not about the infrequent sex. Not about his disappearances. Not about the fact that we were strangers at home but good business partners in running God’s business. Nothing bothered me much. I was just glad to be rid of my past and to find a new identity in Christ.
“But it’s been hard, Leye…”
She blinked a few times and the first tears came – a little glistening in both eyes.
“And he was always there for me. We were there for each other. An empty kind of love. It was there but it was hollow. Still, I miss him…”
Her voice thinned.
“I want him to come back and tell me why he chose men instead of me and to also tell his annoying family that I didn’t kill him, and to sign all he owned to his siblings so that they can leave me the hell alone! I am tired, Leye… Tired…”
Leye left his chair and took her in his arms. Love rested her face on his chest, felt his soothing embrace, inhaled his cologne and listened to the steady beating of his heart. It all felt like she was taken from her present life and dumped in another world. She pulled away before it became too comforting.
“I think you should go,” she said, returning to the other side of the table. Leye nodded.
“My flight for Abuja leaves first thing tomorrow.”
“You’re not going to Lagos?”
“No, there’s a meeting with the church leaders in the Abuja branch. Plus I have to see Big Mommy.”
Love smiled. “Big Mommy… She’s been calling since she heard the news. My regards to her. And journey mercies to you. Thank you for your support.”
She looked up at him. He had pushed his hands into his pockets and was staring at her with a look that was familiar, one he had borne for her over the years.
Omoleye had had a few things in common with Akonte when they were much younger. Both their fathers had been clergymen under the same boss in a thriving ministry. But somehow, each man found his calling to branch out and open his own church. Akonte’s father was the first to take the bold step. A couple of years later, Leye’s father did the same but moved to Lagos, taking his wife and four children along. Leye had been torn by the move. He had been crazy about Love then. At that time, she was the stubborn, dark-skinned, bight-eyed girl known as Loveth. The only sane person in her infamous family. She would often defy her father to attend church services. It was during their teenage years that her friendship with Leye developed and his love for her took root. Akonte’s family was not in the picture then as they had moved to another side of town where their church was blossoming. When Leye’s family relocated to Lagos, they lost contact over the stretch of twenty years, reuniting only at the funeral of his wife when Love and Akonte paid a brief visit to offer their condolences. Even in his grief, Leye had kept his fire for her burning. Now that the tables were turned and it was her time to mourn, he was hoping he could have more moments with her.
“Do you need me to stay for the night?”
“No, Leye. Please, go before they say you’re the reason why I killed my husband.”
“You know I don’t care about what people think…”
“Me neither but this is not the right time to be a caring friend.”
Leye’s eyes swept over her in affection.
“You’re sure you’ll be fine?”
“I have Najib and a crazy personal assistant who both treat me like a newborn. I’m in good hands, Omoleye.”
Taking his hands out of his pockets, Leye moved towards her again, and giving no notice, he kissed her. It wasn’t a full mouth action but it was earnest enough to leave her lips slightly parted and wanting more.
When he turned to leave and she stood watching him, she knew he would soon become her third husband.
Sudden anger filled her. She became mad at herself from nowhere – for years wasted being with the wrong men, for spending her life in pain and hiding away from any type of love, for putting in so much and reaping sorrow. She felt used and drained.
She picked a paper cutter and went to the first oil painting of Akonte. The piece had cost almost a million naira, money they didn’t have. It was the latest from a collection of eight expensive pieces that depicted him in various poses. She had never understood why he needed to spend so much for paintings of himself when he could invest in equally-expensive works of art that could be sold for much more in the future.
But such was the madness she had had to deal with as Akonte’s wife. His extravagant lifestyle had almost run the church down.
“And yet they’re accusing me of killing you?!” she raged as she set the sharp edge of the paper cutter to the painting and made a savage cut, ripping the canvas in two.
Laying out all her grievances against Akonte, she brought the entire painting to shreds. The rage in her was not like anything she had felt before. She jabbed at and stabbed his head incessantly, spitting and cursing until she felt firm hands around her, pulling her away. The scent of Najib’s cologne brought her back to cognizance and she caved, finally letting the tears free.
That night, as she lay in a cold bed, haunted by memories of Akonte, she texted Leye.
-Yes, I’ll marry you.
Leye replied immediately…
-Lol. But I never asked you to marry me
-If you ask now, I’ll say yes
-Okay. Marry me, Loveth. Will you?
-I already answered that.
And then he sent a series of laugh smileys.
-How long should I wait?
-Two years???? 🙁 I don’t do LDR
-What is LDR?
-Long distance relationship
She suddenly felt weary, tears coming to her eyes from nowhere. She sniffled.
-I have to sleep. Can we wrap this up tomorrow?
A kiss smiley followed before she turned off her phone and went to sleep. Exactly six months later, an engagement ring arrived at her doorstep. Mina, her chubby assistant, was in her bedroom when she tried the ring on.
“Awww, this is so romantic,” she cooed. Love looked at her and tossed the ring on her bed. “Is it from Pastor Leye?”
Love gave her a hard stare.
“He likes you, mama. He keeps sending you flowers all the way from Lagos.”
“Don’t you have something better to do right now?”
Mina curtsied. “I’ve sent the emails you asked me to send and dropped your materials at the tailor’s. Waiting for the next instructions, ma.”
She curtsied again. It was something she loved doing. She apologized a lot too. But she bore a pretty face and a bubbly attitude. Sometimes Love wondered if she had a care in the world.
“Just go home. It’s Saturday. Go home and rest.”
Mina curtsied one more time and hurried out. Love’s phone began to vibrate beside her. She attended to it, answering Leye’s call.
“Counting down. Eighteen more months to go. I’m patient like that.”
Love smiled. “Hi Leye.”
“Can I drop by for dinner?”
“No. What are you up to?”
“Preparing tomorrow’s sermon.”
“How’s that going?” Love asked, getting off her bed.
“Terribly,” Leye answered. “No inspiration whatsoever. So, I’m just here, bouncing my Michael Jordan autographed basketball…”
Love chuckled. “Why are you such a showoff?”
She imagined him shrugging in habit with a mischievous grin on the corner of his lips. “Oh, I have another from Stephen Curry and another from LeBron James and another from Tim Duncan. I personally know these guys, baby.”
“Baby?” Love walked to her dressing mirror, listening to him speak.
“You don’t like to be called baby? You want another name? I can find something else for you.”
She slipped out of the dress she had on and ran her hand over her tummy. Cutting him off, she asked, “Why didn’t you ever have kids with Diane?”
Leye didn’t give an immediate answer. She could hear him bouncing the ball.
“We tried. We did everything but it just wasn’t working.”
He went quiet again. The bouncing ball returned.
“Sorry to hear that.”
“She wanted us to adopt. She believed that if we did, God would bless us with ours, but I didn’t… I just couldn’t.”
“I lost faith. I felt God didn’t want us to have kids.” The ball stopped bouncing. “Can we not talk about this right now?”
“I’m sorry for bringing it up.”
“It’s fine. Um… Love? I have to go. I need to finish work on this sermon.”
“Maybe you could pick something from your old sermon notes and brush it up. Ako used to do that,” she said, regretting her statement almost immediately.
“Do you miss him?”
“Do you miss Ako?”
Love moved away from the dressing table. She cast an eye over the room she had shared with Akonte for the most part of their marriage. Nothing seemed to have changed since his death, save for the closet that was now without his clothes. The off-white walls, grey curtains and black, tiled floor still held echoes of a marriage that had been more comfortable than loving. His perfume was still a marked feature in the room. But in her heart he seemed to be fading away, even though her existence was scarred with echoes of the life he had lived with her.
“Yes, I miss him.”
“Don’t expect it to get better so soon but things will ease up in time.”
“Oya let me take your advice and brush up on something old.”
“Call me after the service.”
When Leye hung up, Love felt overwhelming silence.
It was now dark outside and she walked to the window to peer out. An armed guard by the gate was patrolling, smoking a cigarette. He turned in her direction and she withdrew, pulling shut the curtains.
Najib had insisted on beefing up her security after Akonte passed. His fear was that whoever killed Akonte might return to hurt her. But Love wasn’t scared. Not because she didn’t have reason to. She just didn’t understand what fear meant.
“It’s mostly the fear of pain that grips people when they think of death,” she had told Najib.
“There are different types of pain, mama,” Najib had responded. She didn’t argue with him. Pain was buried inside of her, pushed to a place she never visited. It was best left there. The world was filled with piranhas that followed the scent of bleeding hearts just to finish them off. Weakness was not a language Love understood.
But Leye was teaching her to feel – with phone calls and chats, and those endearing little gifts that always started each working week. If she was the type given into mushiness, she would have fallen easily. But Love was focused on her goals. Now used to being in control, she couldn’t imagine living as a grieving widow. An empire under Leye’s watch was waiting to be explored. Maybe Akonte’s death was a blessing after all. An answer to prayers.
She recalled a particular incident that occurred a few days before he passed. She had been trying on a new dress she bought online. It was a fitted, black one that stopped above her knees which she had used for his funeral later on. Akonte hadn’t liked the dress.
“You’re not wearing that thing anywhere.”
Her eyes had rolled at his characteristic show of machismo. It came to him at intervals, prompted by nosy statements from individuals that had no business looking in on their lives.
“You’re listening to them again,” she said to him, pressing the dress to her body, imagining how beautifully it would hug her figure. She dragged herself to the dressing mirror where he stood, buttoning the cuffs of his shirt. She nudged him aside with her hip and took his position.
“You think it would go with chandelier earrings or pinups?”
“Love, don’t be stubborn about this. I’ve gotten more than a few complaints about your dressing. You have to stop.”
Love sighed and flung the dress on the bed. Suddenly the bedroom felt airless. She pushed her feet into a pair of slippers and hurried to the east window.
“I’m not in the mood for service today,” she said to him. “Tell everyone I’m not feeling well. I need prayers.”
She remained by the window, staring out, watching how the gateman busied himself with washing Akonte’s SUV. She was thinking about how the compound was losing its luster. The green of the lawn she had painfully cultivated was turning yellow in patches. The flowers too; they seemed to have taken the harmattan season literally. Only the trees cared to keep things fresh, but for some reason, she feared that like everything else, they would lose their life. It was ironic to her how the plants were somehow a reflection of the dearth happening inside her home.
She turned. Her husband was dressed in a black suit that shed off years from his age. He was a man too handsome for her to handle sometimes. Jokingly, when they were alone, she would call him ‘pretty’ while he called her Pastor Love like everyone else did. Many were the women that sought his attention. In hindsight, she saw that there were men in the picture too.
“Come here,” Akonte had called her. She left the window and walked over to him. He took her in his arms. “We will get through this,” he assured her, lips on her forehead.
“I’d rather we get over it.”
“Okay. We’ll get over it. Just give it time and prayers and God will make a way out.”
“I feel responsible – somehow.”
“I am a business manager who has successfully managed a couple of companies but I watched and did nothing as we fell from where we were.”
“God’s business is not man’s business.”
“You don’t run a church the way you run any other company. Come on, Pastor Love. You know this.”
“You keep saying that, Ako, and not giving me a chance. We’re losing our congregation and our money. A lot of money. If we continue like this, we’ll be out on the streets by the end of next year.”
He had laughed, cupped her cheeks and kissed her lips.
“All things work together for good. God’s got this. Be still and see what he will do, okay?”
There was no use arguing with him. He was settled on his decision not to jump out of the traditional. His father, before him, ran the church in the old ways. Akonte had worked closely with the old man and the moment he took over, he kept to the already-established template, wavering only when necessary. His looks and charisma had won him a much younger audience but after a few years, the magnetism lost hold. Membership began to dwindle, finances dropped and, at that moment, they were battling with paying most of their staff. Prayer and fasting sessions had been held but so far, God seemed deaf to everyone’s supplications.
Probably they were praying amiss, Love had thought to herself that morning as she stood again by the window minutes after, watching her husband hurry into his SUV.
She felt an impulsive need to pray things into existence.
“I know I’m not your favorite person, Lord Jesus,” she spoke loudly. “I’m not much of a sinner either. At least, I’m not the one cheating in this marriage. And I think it’s probably why things are falling apart around here. Akonte’s sin is stopping your work from growing. But I’m not going to ask you to punish him. Rather, I’ll ask that you give me a chance to prove my diligence, to exercise this gift of enterprise I have been blessed with. I want the ministry under my care, Lord. Hear my prayer. Grant me the desires of my heart. According to your will – of course. I ask this in faith and gratitude, in your precious name, Lord Jesus.”
The tiny black sequins of the new dress beckoned to her. Once more, Love stood before the mirror. She turned this way and that, and thought how classily-bland she looked. There was something mournful about the dress even as it was a fit. If Akonte would not allow her wear it to church, then she would find some occasion to wear it for.
She undressed and picked a space for it in her closet. She never touched it again until the day she saw him dead. The dress was the first on her mind when she returned home from dousing him and his lover in gasoline and setting them ablaze. She took the dress out of her closet and slipped into it a second time, turning this way and that before the mirror, willing herself to cry. But nothing came. She stayed awake all night. Mina and some sisters from the church were by her side, all of them weeping over her loss while she watched them with dry eyes. The shock and feeling of betrayal had been too much to handle. She was blinded then, unable to see anything else, not even the quick answer to the request she had presented to God.
But now, it was all clear to her. Akonte was taken out so that Leye would take his place.
The knowledge of this didn’t particularly thrill her. It was simply what it was – knowledge. What stirred her was what she would do with it. Akonte was right about the church being God’s business but he was dead wrong about it being not run man’s way.
Pastor Love lay in the darkness of her room, listening to soothing music from the 80s. The battles she had had to fight since Akonte’s passing were innumerable. As it were, she no longer headed the affairs of the church, having been forcibly removed from her position by its leaders. Love didn’t mind much about that; she was still in charge of the clinic she and Akonte had established to provide affordable medical aid to people who could not meet the expense of basic healthcare. The clinic also boasted of a modern diagnostic laboratory, the best of its kind in the city, which brought in more profit than what the church could offer. Moves by the church and Akonte’s family had been made to take the clinic from her as well but legal documents proving her legitimate claims over the business had been her saving grace. Without the clinic, she would have been left with nothing to show for her years of marriage to Akonte.
But Leye was offering more. With a ministry that had branches spreading across the country, Love was going to have more than her hand would be able to handle. She was aware of this but it did not overwhelm her. It was simply a move to better things. She was ready for more battles and bigger enemies. Ready to throw away the baggage that was her life with Akonte. Ready to finally feel love and build a family with a man who had always loved her.
The song presently playing on her phone dipped in volume as the phone vibrated beside her. She picked it up to see a waiting SMS which popped open. A link to a website was displayed from an unknown source, with the message: Mrs. Akonte, it is the glory of God to conceal things but the glory of kings to search them out.
Love tapped on the link and it led her to a webpage that displayed images in which she was pouring gasoline on the corpses of Akonte and his lover. She sprang to a sitting position.
“What on earth…?”
As Love clicked on the images individually to expand on them, she came to the quick realization, judging from the angles, that cameras had been installed in the room on that day.
“What’s the meaning of this?”
She revisited the SMS and dialed the number but got a dead tone. She tried a second time, coming up as unsuccessful as the first. She then sent an SMS.
Who the hell are you?
She waited for an answer but nothing came. Weirdly, she was calm. It was a typical initial reaction to every shocking situation she encountered. Her brain would always swing into action first before any form of emotional response. She fell back on the bed and thought long and hard and a long list of suspects came to mind. Many were her enemies, but only three of them would go the length to murder her husband just to get to her. Of the three, one was her father.
Love brought her thoughts to a close, and forced on sleep. She was certain the person behind the SMS would contact her soon.
But days, weeks and months went by without another creepy message. During the time, she deepened her long distance relationship with Leye, settled legal issues with the church and her in-laws, and began preparing herself for a new life with Leye. She told no one about the SMS or the pictures. But she knew the chapter hadn’t ended.
Her enemy was still out there, waiting for the perfect time to pounce on her.