Behold, they shall surely gather together…
Love jolted awake. Her weave flailed at her sudden movement and then fell gently over her neck and face. Daylight hit her eyes. She closed them and opened them again, letting out a yawn.
She rolled on her back. Her feet came into view. One of them was covered with a wedge sandal while the other was bare. She recalled getting into the activity of removing both last night and then throwing her weight on the bed in exhaustion.
Around her lay her phone, handbag and work documents.
She murmured something as she managed out of bed. She had slept alone. Leye was on a ten-day trip out of the country to return later in the day.
Love undressed, removing one piece of clothing at a time as she made her way to the bathroom. She noticed that the water heater was still on from when she flicked the switch last night. She switched it off now and proceeded to fill the bathtub. While this happened, she took a pee. She felt a cramp in her lower tummy, much like the ones she got whenever she was on her period. But she was five days late, a possible sign that she was pregnant. She hadn’t had time to run a test yet. Since the Tuesday after Easter, she had been occupied with BCC-related activities. Combine that with the infrequent visits to Abeokuta to ensure that all was going well with the clinic there. She’d wake up each morning with eyes begging for more sleep, and go to bed each night like one tranquilized.
BCC was constructing a new office complex on a stretch of land that was located on the other side of the highway that branched off to the main church premises. The one across was a larger piece of property on which a theological college was slated to be built. Love had had her hands seethed in the business of ensuring things went well with the new office project. She had also been in more than a few transactional meetings to facilitate the acquisition of a couple of shelf companies and successfully functioning ones. She had a small team of capable business personnel she was working with, but it seemed she was carrying the load alone. Her desire to impress Papa and prove her worth to her growing number of adversaries pushed her beyond her limits. Love had never been known to have a stop button when it came to work, and it was beginning to tell on her in just a month.
She had lost weight, sleep and a healthy appetite. But none of it slowed her as much as the strong antagonism that came from Adonijah and the board of directors.
It had begun with Adonijah vehemently disagreeing to Papa’s new governing laws for the church. The news had dropped on all the leaders at a senate session a day after Adonijah’s ordination. Papa announced that the new constitution had passed through the board of directors, who showed no objections. Adonijah’s grouse was that he was a member of the board but had not been privy to the changes Papa made.
“I excluded you because I had bigger plans for you, Aloy,” Papa explained. “You are now the general overseer, and no longer a member of the board.”
Adonijah seemed like he was going to protest, but instead he threw in a question. “Just like that? I’m kicked out?”
“Just like that, you have been elevated, Aloy. Many wish to be where you are.”
Adonijah dumped his complaints into silence. The senate members with fixed eyes on him, were expecting a retort, but none came. Papa continued.
“The G.O., from now on, presides over all the pastors and various departmental leaders. He is the head of everything that relates to the spiritual and outreach activities of the ministry. Pastor Love, on the other hand, is the head of management, presiding over everything business. Her team is responsible for the maintenance of the church, the upkeep of the pastors, the financing of projects and administration of BCC-owned businesses. What I have done is simply split my office in two between both of you. It is my wish that you work together as a team to ensure that Bethel Christian Center reaches the height God wants it to attain.
“We would be buying into flourishing companies and corporations, and also building a couple of ours from the scratch. We have contracted the services of a management firm that would be working with Pastor Love to ensure that we get the best deals. BCC is stupendously blessed. It would be unwise and shortsighted of us not to make investments that would secure our future.
“We have to embrace the change. It is for everyone’s good. I also implore you all to give Pastor Love every support she needs. She is new here, and her methods may not exactly be toothsome to some of us, but I assure you, she is doing well and has my total backing.”
Adonijah shifted in his chair. He seemed to be swelling by the minute.
“Support her. Encourage her,” Papa stressed, his focus on him.
But Papa could have been speaking to the air for all Adonijah cared. The moment he got the chance to twist the minds of the board members, he painted a picture about Love that was prickly. She was thence summoned to appear before them, with instructions to come along with her business plans. Papa was out of town then for his introduction. Love had been forced to face the board alone.
For fear of how Papa and Leye would react, she kept the information to herself. When she appeared before the board, she went fully equipped. But from the instant she stepped in and was thrown the first question, she knew it was a witch-hunt.
They wanted to know her top score. What was her success story? Why had her late husband’s church not grown under her management? What was her plan for BCC? How were they sure it was not purely for her personal gain to be in charge of administration?
And on they went until there were no more questions to throw at her. Next, they moved to her organizational plans, finding faults at every juncture, picking at holes at each turn. It was then she began to crack. She was not the type of leader to show all her cards; she had carefully left out important details of her strategies and devices.
“It is either you’re not skilled for this job or you’re hiding a lot from us,” one of them had said, casting sharp eyes into hers. She warded off the stare by concentrating on the perfect finishing of the table before her.
Finally, the board moved to the third phase of their attack. They asked her what the mission and vision of BCC was. Without effort, she replied them. But they wouldn’t stop there. They pressed harder. The church was already set to run in a certain way, they reminded her. She was not to disturb the natural order of things. It didn’t matter her position; she was answerable to Adonijah and other pastors who had been there before her. She wasn’t to run projects or new ideas without reporting to Adonijah and the senate. The success and longevity of her position hinged on the deference she was to show her superiors. Being an Omotosho wasn’t going to save her. The other Omotosho wives before her had known their place in BCC and kept to it. She was to do the same.
“And finally, read Proverbs 31,” a certain female board member said. “Ask God for deep understanding of that passage. You are a mother to many, Pastor Love. Use your office as the wife of our dearest Pastor Omoleye to build other women up. Many look up to you. Let them find you where God has placed you. Not where you desire to be amongst the men. May God guide your heart into submission and understanding.”
Love felt bile in her throat. But she thanked them, picked her files and left the conference room. When she got home, she dialed Papa and related to him all she had passed through.
“Adonijah did this in my absence?”
“I am so sorry, Loveth.”
“I will address it upon my arrival.”
Love was soon learned that the old man didn’t throw words around aimlessly. A few days after the phone call, she got an email from his office, inviting her for a meeting with the board of directors that was supposed to hold later in the day. She knew Papa was angry; she hoped that he was angry enough to stick his neck out for her.
It had been a tedious day like every other for the past three months. Love was lying on the couch in Leye’s office at church, trying not to fall asleep. The sun had just begun to set. Leye was on his way in from the airport, chauffeured by Najib. Love was upset at herself for not having prepared any meal for him. He wasn’t going to complain, of course, knowing that she hated being culinary. But sometimes she felt it was a good thing to surprise him with choice dishes.
Exhaustion left her in a deep sigh. She shut her eyes and finally gave in to the sleep that was tugging. She didn’t get quite far when she felt her husband’s lips on hers.
When her eyes opened, she saw a frown of worry on his face.
“You’ve lost weight, sweetness.”
She inhaled his scent. “And you’re looking dapper.”
She was referring not only to the fresh look on his face but also his outfit combination of a pair of Canali woven tailored pants and an Alexander McQueen shirt folded at the sleeves – as was his habit.
“You’ve not been sleeping. Look at your eyes.”
“No, you’re not.”
“I missed you.”
He took her hand which was rested on his chest and kissed it. “So, board meeting, huh?”
“Yeah. Papa is pissed at Adonijah.”
“Details.” Leye stood up and made for his desk. Love sat straight, stretching out her legs. Leye returned with a two bowls of chicken salad and a burger.
“I stopped on the way here to buy these.”
Love took what was offered. She realized that she was actually hungry. He sat beside her, and as they ate, she gave him a summarized version of the hell she had gone through, making sure to strip away the emotional angle.
“How dare he?” Leye asked angrily, dumping his salad aside.
“Adonijah is not alright, Jeremiah. He…”
“I’m not talking about Adonijah!”
Love looked at him wearily.
“He knew the wolves were coming after you and he let them!”
“Leye, please don’t start.”
And she was going to say more to appeal to his calm but Ify knocked on the door and entered.
“Papa is here,” she announced. “He wants to see you.”
“Me?” Love asked.
“Both of you.”
Ify retreated. Love stood up, holding on to her salad. “Keep your cool in there, babe.”
“I’ll try,” Leye replied, walking ahead of her. She followed him into Papa’s office. The man was in the middle of a phone call when they walked in. From his tone, Love could tell he was upset. She looked at her husband; he still bore an angry look. She waited for the inevitable.
Papa dumped his phone on his desk and turned to his son. “Omoleye?”
“Good evening, dad.”
Papa nodded and turned a smile on Love. “The strongest woman.”
She went to him for a hug. “How was your trip?”
Papa shook his head in an amused smile. “Let’s not go into that now.” He looked down at her. “Taken that test yet?”
She gave no answer. She had stopped at a maternity clinic in the morning for a pregnancy test. The result was known only to her.
“I hate to break your pillow talk,” Leye remarked, “but we have to talk, dad.”
“We do, indeed. Sit.”
Love pulled a chair and helped herself into it.
“I don’t like what you’re doing to my wife,” Leye began. Papa raised his hands in innocence. “The board members went out of line, and they wouldn’t have done that if you didn’t put her in the line of fire. I would ask, respectfully, that you take the heat for your own mess.”
“Mess?” Father stared at son, his arms crossed. “Omoleye, I am not in the frame of mind for your tantrums this evening.”
“Protecting my wife is now tantrums?”
“Must everything be a fight with you? This your anger at me has gone on far too long and unchecked and it’s now making a fool out of you.”
Leye retorted harshly in Yoruba and a verbal exchange ensued between them. Love kept her head low as she consumed what was remaining in her salad pack. The men soon ended their tiff, with neither of them bowing to the other.
“Loveth, I apologize for that,” Papa said. Love was careful not to give a response. “I actually called you in here to let you know that the men and women you had had the unfortunate encounter of meeting are not just ordinary members of BCC. They have vested interests in the church, and have contributed immensely to its growth, financially. This was why they felt they could question you the way they did. I’d like to let you know that they have only just begun, and after today’s meeting, it’s going to get worse for you.”
“And you stand there, saying that so casually,” Leye spat.
“I’m speaking, son.”
“As I told you before, Loveth, ignore them. I will handle them. It takes a certain type of ruthlessness and cunning to do so.”
“Or you’re just using Love as bait to do what you should have done to them a long time ago. I warned you, dad. I told you they would become a thorn in your flesh. I expertly advised you to use outsiders as your board of directors, but you wouldn’t listen. Look how far they’ve gone. How powerful you’ve made them. They are not supposed to have the kind of control you’ve given them. And this your latest act of making Adonijah the general overseer is going to end in a disaster.”
“Omoleye, that’s enough.”
“If anything happens to my wife, physically, emotionally, psychologically, I’ll come after you.”
“Darling, please,” Love pleaded.
“I’ll be in my office.”
Leye marched out. Papa took his seat.
“He thinks you’re pushing me,” Love said.
“He’s still angry at me. After all these years. Nothing I do seems right to him.”
Papa’s hurt was unmistakable.
“Have you tried to say you’re sorry?”
“Isn’t it too late? And will it change anything? Will it undo all I’ve done? That’s what he wants – a perfect father. The one he used to know as a little boy who could do no wrong in his eyes.”
“You need to tell him you’re sorry.”
“You’re not trying hard enough, Papa.”
Papa didn’t disagree with her. “We’ve missed so many years as father and son. Do you think we can ever get it back?”
“Anything is possible.”
“Can you help?”
“Help? As in bring you two together?”
“Speak to him on my behalf.”
“No, Papa. That’s one bridge you’ll have to cross on your own. So, changing the topic, how is Alice?”
“Great. I had the chauffeur take her home. She’s exhausted.”
“Do you love her?”
He smiled. “Deeply.”
Love liked the way her unexpected questions never caught him off guard. He was always ready with an answer.
“Does she love you?”
“Do you love your husband?”
“More than I like to show.”
“Alice loves me. But she doesn’t know.”
“Some of us don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Some of you shouldn’t worry about this old man.”
Love went up on her feet. “See you at the meeting.”
She left the office. Outside, Mina was waiting.
“You have a video call from the investment analyst guy.”
“He’s finally returning our call,” Love said, heading towards her office. “How many minutes before the meeting?”
Mina brought her phone to her face. “Eight…em, seven.”
“I’ll take the call.”
Mina dashed ahead of her and threw open the office door. She handed her a tab. Her caller was waiting, an overweight man whose size filled the screen of the tab.
“Mr. Silva.” Love shooed Mina out and shut her door. She commenced with her call, settling into her chair. “Let’s make this a quick one. I have a meeting in a few.”
Mr. Silva nodded and a dialogue ensued. Thirty minutes later, they were still speaking. The door opened and Mina poked her head in. It was the second time she was dropping by. Love looked up.
“Mr. Silva, thank you for your time. I’ll swing by your office tomorrow.”
“Mrs. Omotosho, wait…”
Love hung up. She breathed out.
“Mommy, you need to hurry to the conference room right now. Papa is giving it to the board. I’ve never seen him so angry.”
“What happened?” Love asked, rising up.
“I don’t know but he seems really angry at the board of directors. Oh! Daddy said I should give you this.”
Mina walked over to Love with a folded piece of paper. Love opened it.
Please go home, sweetness. Things are really hot in here. I don’t want you getting hurt.
Love crumpled the paper in annoyance.
“Daddy said you shouldn’t come for the meeting?” Mina asked.
“Get Najib. Let him take me home,” Love instructed. “Bring my handbag along.”
She nursed her annoyance as she headed out. If Papa was frying her enemies, she wanted front row seat to view the drama. Leye was being unreasonable for asking her to leave. But she knew it was probably the wise thing to do.
She rode home, listening to Mina and Najib argue over the president’s health status. When they arrived at the house, Mina assisted her in preparing dinner, and afterwards she had a shower. She dressed in something short, silky and sexy, and lay in bed, waiting for Leye. But her head had scarcely hit the pillow when her eyes shut. She was awoken by the touch of Leye’s thumb on her lips.
“I slept off?”
“I’m sorry I’m just coming home. The meeting just ended. It was…” he exhaled, “hell.”
“All because of you.”
He kissed her cleavage.
“Were you this much trouble in Abeokuta?”
Love chuckled. He rested his head on her chest.
“So what happened?”
“Your dear old Papa gave the board of directors a piece of his mind. He basically reminded them that their role was only advisory and not decision-making. And that you didn’t need to run your policies by them. Adonijah tried to speak several times but he got shut down. And quite embarrassingly too. I think the love relationship between both men is dead.”
“So Papa stood up for me.”
“Yeah. He pulled the family card. In his words, ‘you do not come after my own. If you do, you’re coming after me, and I will retaliate without mercy.’ ”
“He said that?” Love blushed.
“Yes,” Leye replied, stroking her thigh. “And right after that, he dissolved the board.”
“No way!” Love tried to spring up but Leye held her down, lifting himself to kiss her.
“He dissolved the board?”
“Yes, all of us were fired. And a new board is taking over. Non-members of BCC.”
Love managed up. “He did that?”
“Jeremiah, this is good news. He listened to you.”
“After how many years? And it happens only when they start to misbehave.”
“But he took your advice.”
Leye stood up. “Am I supposed to be impressed by that?”
“I’m sorry, I’m not carried away by all I saw this evening. None of it would have happened if he listened to me.”
“But he’s doing so now.”
Leye began unbuttoning his shirt. “Good for him. I’m just so glad to be free from the board’s obligations. I can now concentrate on my calling and do away with all that church politics. It’s draining.”
Love sighed. His attitude was draining too. She went to him and helped him out of his belt.
“Don’t you think it’s time to stop being hostile to your father?”
He looked down at her with an unsightly expression.
“Yes, Jeremiah, you have to forgive him.”
“Did he ask you to do this?”
“He’s changed. You know that. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t let me be around him.”
She undid his fly.
“Forgive him, babe.”
“Do you know what it feels like, growing up, trying to please a father, doing everything to be the perfect child, but you’re never good enough?”
Love understood him.
“The church was more important than I was. He always made me feel inadequate, just for me to find out that he was less than perfect himself. Love, many years have gone by. A lot has been lost. I don’t think we can get it back.”
The unhappiness in his eyes worried Love.
“Let’s have dinner,” he suggested, putting on an empty smile. But he kissed her warmly. “I’m sorry for my mood.”
“I know your Papa has changed. But I’m finding it hard reconciling the person he is now to the man he used to be. It’s going to take some time. I need to learn to trust him again.”
Leye kissed his wife’s forehead. “You’re a wonderful person, Loveth.”
“So they say.”
She zipped up his fly and wore a night robe. They went downstairs for dinner which ended in a pleasant mood. Leye gave her details of his ten-day trip and what he had accomplished while he was away. Love put him up to speed on what she had been doing in his absence. They chatted over other issues that concerned their love life and marriage. Leye suggested a getaway at a resort during the weekend.
“Great idea.” She held his eyes in a deep smile.
“What is it?” he asked. She shook her head.
“You want to say ‘I love you’ maybe?”
“Yeah. I love you maybe.”
He laughed. “I love you too, sweetness.”
Love broke away from his adoring gaze and tilted her body backwards to peer into the living room. “Mina!”
She heard an answer and soon Mina was in the kitchen.
“The thing I gave you?”
Mina dashed out and returned with a small, white parcel. She handed it over to love but remained standing.
“You may go.”
Mina curtsied, but hung around.
She curtsied again and dashed out.
“Another gift for me?” Leye asked. Love pushed the parcel to him. “You spoilt me too much, Mrs. Omotosho.”
Leye put his glass of red wine aside, and keeping his eyes on Love, he opened the parcel.
“Look at it.”
His eyes stared down and fell upon a pair of white baby shoes on which the words were written, hi daddy.
Leye slowly lifted his head and looked at Love, disbelief on his face. She nodded.
“I thought you were on the pill.”
“You told me to stop taking it. Remember?”
“I didn’t know you took me seriously. We’re really pregnant?”
Love nodded again. Leye took the shoes and held them in both hands. She understood that he needed a moment to himself. She rose up and cleared the table, dumping the dishes in the sink. When she turned, she found him standing behind her. She was seized and held in a tight hug.
“You are a miracle to me, Loveth,” he spoke into her hair, hands going underneath her robe to find her waist. “A blessing to my life. See how easily you gave me what has eluded me for years. See how it just came like all I had to do was think about it.”
“I did nothing, Leye. This is God’s doing. After all you went through with Diane, you need to have smooth sailing with me.”
“Words fail me.” He kissed her head. “You wouldn’t understand.” She looked up, their lips met.
“You’re going to hate me from this moment,” he stated. “Because I will fuss and fuss and fuss.”
“Let’s start fussing now,” she said in glaring seduction.
“No. Nothing of that sort is happening. Not until you’re out of the first trimester.”
Love baulked. “What?”
“Yes, Love. No sex until…”
“Leye, relax. Nothing is going to happen to the baby.”
“I just want to be careful…”
She spun around and had her back to him, pressing her bum into his midsection.
“But since you’re putting it this way…”
He palmed her breasts.
“Upstairs, daddy.” She slapped his hands.
They hurried out of the kitchen and ran up the stairs like little kids, giggling over the sheer silliness of their excitement.
Alice was having trouble falling asleep. The power was out, the generator was bad, the weather was hot and the mosquitoes in her room just wouldn’t let her be.
“Can animal scientists just tell us the truth that mosquitoes have mutated and insecticides don’t work on them anymore?!”
She flung the plastic hand fan she had been using to cope with the heat.
“Keep quiet nau. Somebody is trying to sleep here.”
Alice cast a cranky eye on her bed where Wemimo who had been fitfully sleeping was now frowning up at her.
“I don’t know how you can sleep through this heat,” Alice grumbled.
“Well, thanks to you, I can’t anymore.” Wemimo lifted herself up. “I think you should go and ask that your neighbor to borrow you his rechargeable fan.”
“I’m not the one he likes.”
“I should go there so that he’ll start telling me one long story after the other like he did the last time?”
“I’m naked nau, Wemi. I’ll come and start wearing cloth again?”
Alice cussed. She picked an Ankara wrapper that was neatly folded beside her pillow and wrapped herself in it. She hurried out, using the flashlight from her phone to brighten the way.
The neighborhood was already asleep. There was a mix of darkness and electricity from the houses surrounding hers. The power situation in the area had gotten worse over the past month. Papa had offered to buy her a new generator but she had declined, reasons being that they were soon to be married and it would be a waste. Now, she was regretting her decision not to accept his generosity.
She stood before her neighbor’s door in the next compound and knocked loudly. His generator was on. Sometimes one needed to bang on the door to be heard.
The door opened and a man, dark as a moonless night, came to view.
“Alice?” he called in a surprised voice.
“Evening, dearie. What brings you to mine at this ungodly hour?”
“Your rechargeable fan, Oga John. Heat wan kill me and Wemimo.”
At the mention of Wemimo, his eyes tweaked up.
“Heat will not kill you fine ladies in Jesus’ name.”
He withdrew into his house, returning shortly with a rechargeable fan.
“Ese gaan,” Alice said, all smiles. “I’ll sleep well now.”
“Greet Wemimo for me o. Tell her to come and see me tomorrow morning. I have something nice for her.”
“I will. Goodnight, Oga John.”
Alice turned back in the direction of home, reminding herself to pass across his message. He wasn’t kidding when he said he had something for her. The last time he made a similar promise, Wemimo left his house with an envelope containing ten thousand naira. She had also gotten saliva slobbered on her cheek. The man was a licker.
As she stepped out of the compound the flash of bright headlamps from a car across the street caught her attention. She gave the car a look. It seemed familiar, but she couldn’t recall where she had come across it. The tail of the car was to her so that she couldn’t see who was sitting in it. But when she had a second look and caught the BCC poster on the back windscreen, she knew at once that it was Wesley’s car.
Perplexed as to what he was doing in her neighborhood at that hour, Alice went across the street and strode towards the vehicle, her flashlight held up. Wesley was not on cordial terms with her, due to some cold encounters they had had in the past. She found his presence outside her house a bit unnerving.
When she approached the vehicle, she stopped at the driver’s window, knocked and flashed her light in. The disturbing picture of Wesley and Tara with their lips locked in a kiss met her, but what was more unsightly was Wesley’s hand resting on Tara’s breast.
They broke contact at her intrusion. She moved away, stunned.
Seconds passed and Wesley let his window down. “Alice?” He was wearing a flat smile.
“I did not just see what I saw, Wes.”
“Good evening, Alice.”
“What the heck was that?!”
“Nothing that warrants your raised voice. You didn’t answer my greeting.”
“Greeting? Seriously?” Alice bent a little and sought for Tara’s face. “Omotara, you want to explain things to me?”
“Come down from the car, please.”
Tara stepped out of the car but remained on the other side.
“This is what you left Moore to be doing?”
“Alice, calm down nau,” Wesley pleaded. “Why are you talking to your friend like that?”
“No, leave her, let her talk. She always wants to police everyone’s life.”
Tara’s words pricked Alice. She withdrew from her line of interrogation. “I just want to know what’s going on between you two.”
“We’re courting,” Tara answered at the same time Wesley said, “We’re dating.”
“Dating? Courting? Which one?”
“I don’t have to answer to you.” Tara peeped into the car. “Bye, boo.”
“Boo?” Alice questioned as Tara walked past her, crossed the street and disappeared into their compound.
“Uncle, start explaining yourself.”
Wesley came out of the car. “We’re seeing each other.”
“Or seeing each other’s privates?”
“Alice, we’re adults.”
“You’re a leader in church. You’re both born-again Christians. You do know what that means, right? It means you are not to be sexually active.”
“Alice, I know, but…”
He shrugged. “You understand na.”
“Is Tara still a virgin?”
“She’ll have to answer that herself.”
“Really, Wesley?” Alice shook her head in disappointment. “When are you going to tell her what happened between you and Wemimo?”
“She doesn’t have to know.”
“Don’t be a jerk, Wesley. She deserves to know.”
“I said, she doesn’t.”
Alice moved a step towards him in a daring manner. “I will tell her everything. And I’ll also tell her how you enjoy sleeping around with girls in the church, promising all of them marriage and dumping them. But you keep getting away with it because of the load of cash you keep throwing into Adonijah’s pocket.”
He gave a chuckle that affected only one side of his lips. “You’re threatening me. I think this your pastor title is giving you a big head.”
“I will tell her about you. My friend’s emotional and spiritual state is more important to me than your evangelical penis which you’re spreading around like a bad gospel.”
“Alice, you’re only speaking to me this way because you’re screwing Papa.”
Alice’s eyes narrowed at his insinuation. “Some of us are not enslaved by the thing between our legs.”
“True. One can say that about you. Stiff as a pole. But the old man?” Wesley laughed. “Everyone knows you just have to be a young, dark, slim female, and he’s spreading your legs wide open on his office desk and screwing the shame out of you.”
Alice threw out her hand and hit his face. It was a weak slap, but it hurt his pride. He grabbed his door. “Goodnight, Alice.”
“All those dick pics you sent to Wemimo, I have all of them. Even the ones with your face on them. The next time you make any offensive statement about Papa to me, I’ll have you and your little man all over the internet. Yes, stiff as a pole me will open your ass wide and screw some shame into you.”
“You’re not going to do it, Alice. You’re not that type of person.”
“Don’t push me.”
She picked the fan and made her way home. When she got into the living room, an angry Tara, pacing about in the dark, was waiting for her.
“You’re older than me, Alice. You are kind to me. You gave me accommodation in this house at no cost. You have been good to me. I appreciate all of that. But what I don’t appreciate is you embarrassing me in front of my boyfriend and raising your voice at me as if I were your housemaid!”
“Tara, I’m sorry I shouted on you and spoke to you that way–”
“You embarrassed me! Is it that you always have to let me know that you’re better than me?!”
“Then why did you do what you did?!”
Wemimo emerged from Alice’s bedroom.
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Alice replied. “Take the fan. Go back to bed.”
“It’s not nothing!” Tara yelled.
“Tara, it’s between you and me. We can talk about it like adults. I’m sorry for how I behaved.”
“Tell me what’s going on nau,” Wemimo repeated.
“I said it’s nothing nau, Wemi.”
“When did you start lying to me?” She hissed and gave Tara her attention. “Kilode?”
“I was with Wesley in his car outside. We were kissing and she came and flashed her light on us and started talking to both of us condescendingly.”
“Wesley,” Wemimo repeated. “Who is Wesley?”
“Wesley in church,” Tara answered. “The usher leader.”
Wemimo stared at Alice in surprise. “Wesley? The Wesley I know?”
“Yes,” Tara responded.
“Ah. Wesley again?” Wemimo clapped her hands. “Wonders will never end.”
“What does that mean?” Tara scowled.
“It’s not me that will be the bearer of bad news o.” Wemimo walked over to Alice, lifted the fan and retreated to the bedroom, leaving Tara confused.
“Why was she making those statements?” Tara asked.
“What bad news is she talking about?”
“I can’t sit. Just say what you want to say.”
“Tara, Wesley is an ass. I’m sorry, I have to say it that way. I can’t sugarcoat it.”
“You clearly don’t like him.”
“It’s not about whether I like him or not. Wesley has a bad rep with sisters in the church. I would know because I’ve had three cases brought to my table.”
Tara folded her arms defensively. “What cases?”
“He dates them, promises them marriage as a way to get between their legs, and when he’s tired of using them, he dumps them. I reported all three cases to Bishop A and they were tossed aside. Wesley got a slap on the wrist for them. The ladies didn’t want to go further. I was ready to have him reported to the senate. But they were scared of being judged and seen as immoral. I suspect Bishop A subtly threatened them as he did to me. So I had to let it go.”
“Is that all?”
Alice drew back at the question.
“I know what this is about, Allie. Wesley is Bishop A’s protégé. And you’re Papa’s girl.”
“There’s a serious divide in the church right now, with Papa’s followers upset that Bishop A is now the G.O. So, I’m not surprised that anything and anyone connected to Bishop A would irritate you, going by your personality.”
“Are you kidding me, Tara?”
“Wesley admitted to me that he used to be that person you just described. But he has changed. He’s no longer that man. Besides, he took me to see his mom who likes me and endorses our relationship. If he just wanted to knack and go, he wouldn’t have gone that far.”
“So you believe he’s changed? You believe all he told you?”
“Yeah. The same way you believe Papa.”
“What has Papa got to do with this?”
“Alice, take the log out of your eye and see that you’re no different from me. In the end, we want the same things. A man and a home. So don’t come here acting like you’re going to get angel’s wings and a halo over your head because you’re with Papa. The only difference between him and Wesley is the name and money. Other than that, they are the same, just as we are.”
“They are not the same.”
“Says who? You think nobody knows what you two do behind closed doors?”
Alice gasped. “Tara?”
“Abeg, free me.” She began towards her bedroom. “You’re not the only one who likes to enjoy good thing.”
Alice slumped into the nearest couch. Wemimo returned to the living room.
“You heard everything?”
“She thinks I’m sleeping with George.”
“She’s only saying that because she is presently having sex. Wesley obviously, has disvirgined her.”
“Wemi, Tara adored George. Talking badly against him in her presence was like blasphemy, but now she opens her mouth and says all these things… I’m confused.”
“Confused? Bishop A is at work.”
“Even after being promoted to general overseer?”
“It was a bad move by Papa but I want to believe that he knows what he’s doing, or else… Hmmm.” Wemimo shook her head gloomily.
Alice’s eyes went wet.
“Before you start crying on my head, let me go and enjoy the fan. Goodnight.” Wemimo left the living room, abandoning Alice to her despairing thoughts. She hated having her name being tainted. Her reputation after a nasty past was something she fought hard to leave clean. But Adonijah was making an excellent mess of it. However, she worried for Papa more. If people thought he was sleeping with her, imagine how much of his history with women they knew. Wesley and Tara couldn’t possibly be the only ones aware of his past.
Alice’s phone buzzed. She answered the call when she saw it was Papa ringing.
“I’m about to turn in,” he said. “Just calling to say goodnight.”
“How did the meeting go?”
“But you dissolved the board as you said you would?”
“And you’re still going to be the chairman of the new board?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“Great job, George.”
“Thank you, sweetheart. The next move would be on Adonijah. But I’m not in a hurry with that. I’m more interested in seeing how the changes that have been made will affect the ministry.”
“But Adonijah is not waiting, George. He’s going about spreading lies about you.”
“About your past. People already know.”
“You need to do something about that.”
Papa was silent.
“Give me a minute.”
He continued in silence, and returned several seconds later.
“There’s only one thing that can be done, Alice.”
“And which is?”
“Come out with the truth.”
“I’ll spill the beans on everything I did in my past.”
“George, no. There has to be something else we can do.”
“No, there isn’t. That is the only way, Alice. I’m finally ready to clean out my closet.”