Forget the former things: do not dwell on the past…
“This? This? Or this?”
Love gave the three outfits Mina thrust in her face a lethargic stare before lowering her eyes to the documents spread before her.
“Mommy, choose one nau.”
“Get me something else, Mimi. Something black. And also get me coffee.”
Mina shook her head. “No coffee for you, mama.”
Love looked up at Mina in frustration. She felt a sudden need to cry.
“Okay, tea with some lime, please.”
“Nope. You can have lemon.”
“I don’t want lemon. I want lime.”
“I’m sorry, mommy but daddy says you have to stick to your diet.”
“What diet?! I don’t like you and this your daddy!”
“You don’t really mean that.”
“Go and get me something to wear before I vomit on you!”
Mina curtsied and hurried off into the walk-in closet. Love dashed away from the bed in the direction of the bathroom. She scarcely made it in before she threw up on the floor, missing her target, which was the toilet.
Mina rushed to her rescue. “Mommy, are you okay?” She spotted the mess on the floor. “Yikes!”
“I remember telling you earlier to get me a bucket from downstairs but you didn’t. You just kept talking and talking like a fat market woman.”
“I’m sorry. I forgot. Just wash your mouth and go and sit down. I’ll get you the bucket and something to drink.”
“I don’t want anything to drink that is not coffee or lime.”
Love rinsed her mouth with some mouthwash and returned to the bedroom. Mina hurried out, muttering something about Love having triplets.
“It’s you that will have triplets!” Love responded caustically.
“Somebody is grouchy this morning.”
She lifted her head to Leye who was at the door.
“Hey, sperm donor.”
“Your offspring is messing my morning up.”
“Just like that fa. From nowhere,” she announced cheerlessly, covering her face. “I feel awful.”
Leye heard a sniffle.
“Are you crying?”
“I’m going to be really sick and mostly useless for the next two months. I hate this part of being pregnant. And with you dictating my diet and impounding my phone anyhow, it won’t help. How do you want me to do my work?”
Leye laughed as he went to her. He stooped down and forced her face away from her hands. “You’re the funniest woman I ever met, Loveth.”
“There’s nothing funny here, Jeremiah.”
“Your phone is only confiscated from midnight to 7am every day. I will not have you overworking yourself. You’re strong and you can handle all that’s on your plate, but there should be a limit to everything.”
“I’m going to fall really ill. And I’ll get emotional, cranky and mean for no reason. I’ll sleep a lot too.”
“I get very horny. In short, I’m horny now.”
He laughed again.
“For starters, give me my phone.”
“I’ll let you have it at exactly 7am. Listen Loveth, I’m not joking about you getting all the rest you and the baby need. Remember I forced you to sleep around 2am this morning? And you’re already up again. I’m not exactly thrilled about that, but I don’t want to get upset with you. All I want is for you to have a stress-free pregnancy. Okay?”
Love didn’t argue. Rather, she put her arms around his neck and took his lips.
“You taste of mouthwash,” he murmured.
“Kiss me jare.”
He did as she asked, softly and slowly.
“I can spare ten minutes before the next wave of nausea comes,” Love said, caressing the nape of his neck. At that moment, Mina barged in through the open door.
“Oops!” She turned away. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see anything. I just came to clean up the bathroom floor.”
“Drop everything and leave, Mina,” Leye instructed.
The girl hurried out. The door slammed at her exit just as Leye lifted himself off the floor and onto the bed, pushing away the documents Love had been working on.
They made love slowly, with their clothes on, and afterwards Leye cleaned the bathroom floor while Love had a shower.
“Babe, how close are you to the Kanayos?”
“Obi and Blessing?” Leye asked, pasting his toothbrush.
“Close enough. You’ve hosted them for dinner and we’ve been to theirs. Why are you asking?”
“Another question. Have they been handling the Ikeja branch well?”
“Excellently. I won’t give them all the kudos, though. The assistant pastors there are also awesome.”
“I need your permission to do a background check on Blessing.”
Leye turned in Love’s direction. She was drying her body with a towel.
“A background check?”
“Sweetness, sometimes I feel like I’m married to a mob wife.”
“Ha-ha,” Love said dryly.
“What has Blessing done?”
“First, personally, by intuition, I think she’s fake. Her accent is off and she has shifty eyes.”
“I’m not done. Second, she gave the auditors a hard time by delaying them, and I think it was because she wanted to clean up her financial records. The report the auditors sent to Papa and I was too clean.”
“That’s a good thing, no?” Leye asked with a mouth full of paste. Love made a face.
“Third, she has been giving the new administrator there a hard time. She was overheard saying that the old system was better and she could do a finer job if she was made the administrator.”
Leye spat into the washbasin. “It’s just a power thing, Love. She has been in charge of that church for ten years. And all of a sudden, control is taken from her. How do you expect her to react?”
“Leye, something is off about her. I had lunch with her last week and we were simply talking about things, you know… And I noticed she didn’t want to talk about her sister.”
“Yeah, she and Obi don’t bring the topic up.”
“What happened to the sister?”
“She had a drinking problem. One evening she got really drunk and fell down the stairs and it affected her mentally. She doesn’t speak. She just sits and stares all day.”
“Why didn’t we meet her when we visited?”
“We didn’t because it’s not exactly a happy moment to introduce a mentally disabled family member to guests.”
“Makes sense why Blessing didn’t want to talk about her. But still, I’ll retain my suspicions. Blessing herself seems to have a drinking problem. She almost finished the bottle of wine she ordered while we were having lunch.”
Leye put his toothbrush under running water, listening to his wife with less amusement than when she brought the topic up.
“Papa has given me clearance to dig deeper. I need your permission too.”
“No, you don’t. You already got your Papa’s permission.”
“It’s not like that. Babe, I’m old school when it comes to who’s the head of the home. You’re my boss, in and out of this house. I can’t do anything without your permission. Apart from that, the Kanayos are your friends. I don’t want to do anything that would upset you.”
Leye rinsed his mouth. He peered at her through the mirror. “Do whatever you like, but don’t go burning bridges. There were existing relationships around here before you came. Be careful how you go about turning the tables, Loveth. There are things you shouldn’t pursue. We’ve coasted over difficult times in BCC. After this Papa and Phoebe saga, it’ll be smooth sailing. It’ll be wise not to go digging into anyone’s past. But I won’t stop you. Do your job if you must.”
“Yes, sir,” Love responded, making her way to the door. Leye reached out and took her hand.
“I know you mean well, and I want to let you know that you’ve done an amazing job in BCC already. I knew from the start that you’d be awesome. But I want you to put me and the baby first. Family should always be number one.”
“You are number one, Jeremiah. You know that, hun.”
They shared a kiss. He tapped her bum. “Go kick ass.”
It was always difficult for Papa to watch his daughters cry. He was protective of them to an illogical degree. Back then, Moji had been the stronger parent. When it came to discipline, it often took a scolding from her before he exerted tough love.
Take Jumoke, for instance. He had loved her in a way that had often infuriated Moji, who accused him of loving the other girls less. Papa would make excuses for Jumoke anytime she acted up. Even when she converted to Islam in her early twenties and married a Moroccan trader without her parents’ permission, Papa didn’t get mad. Instead, he made a trip to Casablanca, met with his in-laws and became cordial with them. A year later, Jumoke returned home, divorced and broken. Papa took her in without reprimand, no questions asked. He bought her a car, helped her secure a well-paying job and rented an apartment in her name. Years after, when she finally fell in love with her closest friend who was also a divorcee, Papa threw an extravagant wedding for them, despite rumors that she was responsible for the breakdown of the man’s first marriage.
Papa loved her the way she was, the same way he had loved her mother. It was believed that Ayo was the closest to him; but it was known only by him that Jumoke was the most loved. Maybe because he never had the chance to express the feelings he had for her mother the way he would have desired to. Maybe because every time he looked at her he saw Duni.
“This is her?”
Sitting in the backseat of his car with Jumoke, Papa had just passed over Duni’s purse to her. In it was a photograph which Jumoke was staring at.
“She says I should tell you never to forget her face.”
“How can I?” Jumoke flicked off a tear from beneath her eye. “We look alike.”
“She also left you a letter. She begs that you should pardon her English. Her first and only attempt at writing. She took years to put it together for you.”
Jumoke nodded bravely.
“She didn’t want to see you because she was so ashamed of what she did.”
“I wouldn’t have judged her, daddy. I wouldn’t have.”
“I know.” Papa rubbed Jumoke’s hand to soothe her.
“She wants you to name one of your granddaughters Aduni.”
“Hey, it’s okay. Stop crying.”
Jumoke buried her face in her father’s neck. He put his arms around her.
“There’ll be no more tears in this family, by God’s grace.”
“The sorrow is lifted. The days of laughter are here.”
But Papa felt a sense of gloom as the short dream he had a few hours ago was brought to mind. It had been a vision of his house being divided. He was not shown the faces of those who were going to betray him but they were loved and trusted.
Nonetheless, he held on to hope that whatever happened in the future, it would only be for a short time. Everything would come to pass.
“Smile, omo mi.”
Jumoke straightened up. Papa palmed down stray strands of her hair before giving her a forehead kiss.
“My love to the kids.”
Jumoke stepped out of the car. Papa’s chauffeur stepped in.
“Son?” Papa put his phone to his ear in response to Asher’s call that had just come in. “I’m on my way.”
“I can’t stay. I have to go home.”
“Home? Asher, my house is your home now.”
“I know, pops. I need to talk with Imaan.”
“Can you let Leye and I accompany you? I want to see her.”
“Will you be long?”
“No, son. I had to escort your sister to the airport. I’m on my way back.”
“I’ll wait then.”
Papa leaned on his seat as the car set him back on his way to the Island. He began to ruminate on the events of the evening before, marveling at how he had managed through it without any distress. Kudos had to be given to Love and Leye for taking the weight off his shoulders, and to Alice for her support, even though he perceived that she had been apprehensive the whole time. He had spent the night, mostly awake, conversing with her and Asher over cups of tea while the heavy rain that began at sundown raged on. The night was also passed receiving several phone calls from concerned persons and colleagues, mostly highly placed church leaders like Papa. They largely advised him to stay silent over Phoebe’s claims. He was told that he owed no one any explanation. A particular piece of advice went in the likes of, “If you admit to that affair, you won’t only be dishonoring yourself. You’ll be putting the rest of us in a bad light. Say nothing. People will forget about it in a week and move on to the next scandal.”
Papa had responded courteously but resolved in his heart on what to do. His mentor’s phone call had been the last received, and he had advised him to do the right thing. “A single truth is more powerful than a thousand lies, George. You know what to do.”
And it was on these things that Papa sat in his car pondering. Later in the day, a speech would be sent to his email and he would be asked to study it. The same speech would be played on the teleprompter the following day in church as he stood before his congregation to respond to claims of his affair with Phoebe. He would say he had fallen into a moment of weakness. He would tell them that his marriage had been hell. He would assign some of the blame on Moji and talk about how much he longed for a divorce but because of what people would say of him, he stayed married to a woman who didn’t love him. He would then speak about his love for Phoebe and how she supported him in every way. Their affair, he would explain, had happened because he was needy. And he would also explain that he soon came back to his senses, returned to God, broke off from her and chose to remain in his relationship. About their son, Asher, he had had no idea he existed.
That would be his speech, written and crafted masterfully by the head of media at the church.
Papa smiled and shifted his attention to Asher. He loved the boy already. He was bright and talented. He wasn’t talkative. Imaan had done a fine job of raising him to be courteous and thoughtful. Papa had observed him the night before, how he had watched everyone scrupulously and spoken only when spoken to. Later on when Alice went to bed and he was left alone with him, both of them sitting outside to watch the waning rain, he boldly asked to know about Papa’s relationship with Phoebe.
“It had been what it had been,” Papa answered.
“And what was that?”
“But it didn’t feel that way then.”
“No. Not one bit. It felt like I was in love with her.”
“Is she a nice person?” Asher asked. “In the video she seemed bitter, angry.”
“Your mother is a wonderful woman, Asher. She fell into wrong hands…”
“Yes, me. I made a mess of her life. But she is kindhearted, very loving, lively and deep. You should hear her talk about the normal things we experience every day. She always has a profound viewpoint of life. It’s amazing how she thinks. That’s if she hasn’t changed after all this time”
“I want to meet her.”
“That’s not even a question, son. I’ll arrange a meeting tomorrow.”
“I have so many other questions.”
“Not today… But about Aunty Alice…”
“She’s my fiancée, yes.”
“You love her?”
“She’s beautiful. Like a model.”
“You like younger women?”
Papa gave his son a look and threw his head back in laughter. Asher also chuckled.
“I’m just asking.”
“Well…yeah, I have my preference. Dark, slim, tall, young…”
“We have a lot in common then.”
“You’re way too young to be liking younger women, boy.”
“I meant my age mates.”
“You have a girlfriend?”
“No. I want to figure out my music career first.”
“If I were you and I have a girl I like right now, I would go for her. When the fame comes, which it will, because you’re an Omotosho, it may be too late to find a loyal woman.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“I am your father. I’m always right.”
Asher smiled, ending his questions for the night. The rain was gone, the air around them tranquil. From the distance came sounds of croaking frogs. Papa had always wondered if there was a pond or a body of water nearby. The frogs reminded him of his simple life as a teenager back at Abeokuta.
“Sing something for me, Asher.”
“I’ll do one of mine then. Tell me what you think.”
Asher gave himself a straighter posture and began singing for his father. Papa sat with his head lowered, ears on the song, heart in a place of warmth. With the kind of children he had, Papa had experienced uncountable moments of pride. But Asher brought him a new kind of joy, one he couldn’t wait to pander in.
And even now, sitting in his car as he journeyed home, Papa bumped his head, recalling the tunes of the song Asher had rendered. It made him resolute on his decision to do everything to close the chasm between him and Leye. Only then would his joy be complete.
It was definitely sex. Alice had no doubt. A bed did not just start to creak on its own on a random morning. Tara was getting laid, and she was doing it in the apartment they shared.
On a good day, Alice would say, “what audacity!” But she was not even upset. She was rather disappointed and exhausted. And emotionally drained too. As she sat in her living room, having just returned from Papa’s house, she was contemplating releasing her pain in tears.
But the darn bed would not just stop creaking! Her bedroom would have been solace if it wasn’t sharing a wall with Tara’s.
Alice swore, and it felt good. She hadn’t done so in ages. And now she wanted to let out a long list of expletives on every situation and person that was responsible for her hurt.
The creaking bed became louder, and with it came sounds of heavy breathing and moaning. An invading thought crossed her mind, making memories of Papa’s kisses settle in her head. She mused over them for a bit, finding relief from the issues distressing her. To her own private embarrassment, she felt a warm feeling spread through her. She reminded herself that her wedding was just a month away. Her body would remain untouched until then. Being with a man she was incredibly attracted to and stopping herself from acting on her desires had not been difficult for Alice until she fell into an amorous relationship with Papa. He was easy to hanker after. Hard to stop daydreaming over.
But loving him came with pain. And she was hurting even as she sat, listening to the raw sounds of lovemaking and feeling flushed over it.
She heard a long moan and the creaking bed stopped. Her head leaned back on a throw pillow behind her as she closed her eyes. Soon, Tara’s door opened and the duo of Tara and Wesley stepped out.
“Good morning, Brother Wesley,” Alice greeted, eyes remaining closed.
“Good morning, Pastor Alice. Just returning from a sleepover?”
She opened an eye and gave him a scathing look.
“See you in church tomorrow. It’ll be an epic service.”
“It would,” Alice answered, closing her eye again. “Bye.”
“Yeah, enjoy your day.”
She waited until she heard the front door close before she rose to her feet and went into her bedroom. She undressed. Sleep beckoned, but the instant she took to her bed, her sadness prevailed.
She gave release to the tears threatening to spill. Tara entered the room.
“Allie, sorry about Papa and the whole mess that wicked woman has brought on everyone.”
“Thanks,” Alice spluttered.
“Are you okay?”
Tara sat beside her. “I’m not your best friend right now, but you can still talk to me.”
“I don’t trust you, Tara. You’ll go mouthing off to Wesley and he’ll tell Bishop A…”
“Haba, Alice. Why are you talking like this? Like you don’t know me again.”
“Do I? Do I know you, Tara? Because the person I saw with Wes in that living room is not the Tara I used to know.”
“Here we go.”
“I’m not going to judge you. It’s your life. Do whatever you want to do with it. But just know that I’m disappointed. In a world where young Christians are falling away from the faith by desecrating their bodies, you were always that one person I looked up to with pride.”
Tara put her face away. “You’re so judgmental, like you’ve always been perfect.”
“I have not, Tara. I haven’t. And I don’t want you to go down the path I followed. Things we do now, acts we commit, they always come back to bite us. Always. We all reap what we sow.”
“Is this about Papa?”
Alice shook her head. Tara put an arm around her.
“I did something stupid on my way home,” Alice revealed. “I went online, to Twitter, to Facebook, to Instagram, to YouTube just to see what people were saying about Papa.”
“You shouldn’t have.”
“I know. But I did. And my God, Tara. Human beings are just so mean for no reason. You don’t want to read the things I read.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Even about me. Someone did a post on Facebook, using Bible verses as metaphors to blaspheme, describing how Papa sleeps with me. Then there was this woman on Instagram that said things about me from my past.”
Alice looked at Tara pathetically as more tears coursed down.
“What did she say?”
“I was having an affair with her husband about seven years ago. Because of me they divorced. She told the whole story on Instagram and said I enjoyed going after rich men, that I was with Papa only for money. Blogs have picked up the story and are spreading it like wild fire. If you go on any search engine and type in my name, that’s all you’ll see.”
“And you read everything? All of it?”
Alice flung herself on her pillow, weeping. Tara kicked out of her slippers. She lay beside her and spooned her.
“Please, don’t go online again. I’ll take your phone and tab and lend you my Nokia torchlight phone for the time being. You need to do everything to be strong.”
“I’ve never gone beyond kissing Papa before. We’ve never had sex. And it’s not about the money. They’re saying I’m going after his money, just like I went after the sugar daddies I slept with in the past. God knows I have feelings for him. If there’s anything I want from him asides love is the spiritual blessings that come from being with him. Papa has blessed my life incredibly. My faith in God is deeper and stronger because of him.”
“I know, Allie. But you have to try and erase all you read online today. It’s not going to help you if you keep remembering them or going back online to find more hurtful stuff. Sorry, dear.”
Alice turned around and lay on her back. “I just want to sleep and wake up and hope this nightmare is over. But we have church tomorrow. How do I face people, knowing they suspect me of sleeping with him?”
“You’re not going to church to face anyone. You’ll act like nothing happened.”
“Easier to say.”
“I know but what would you rather do? Look, Alice, you have to toughen up and stop judging yourself for the sins from your past. Forget it all.”
“You’re right.” Alice wiped her face. “Thank you, Tara.”
“The shop is closed. I told Wemi to stay at home today.”
“Yeah, she called and told me the same thing.”
“Do you want to stay with me small? Hold me while I sleep? I feel like my heart is about to burst.”
Tara lay on her back beside her and took her hand.
“Stop this thing you’re doing with Wesley,” Alice said in a sleepy voice. “Let him marry you if he wants to knack.”
“I know what I’m doing, Alice.”
“I don’t want you to be heartbroken in the end.”
“I’ll be fine. Trust me.”
Alice soon fell asleep.
They called themselves the first ladies of BCC. They were wives of the pastors. All nine of them. Today they held their monthly meeting, an event that always took place in whichever of their houses. For this particular meeting, the venue was the Kanayo residence, an ostentatious duplex located somewhere in Ikeja.
Blessing Kanayo hosted them with finger foods, juice and wine. Love asked for water alone, declining the small chops that were presented to her on a fancy China saucer.
“You’re not hungry?” Blessing asked.
“I already ate before coming,” Love replied.
Blessing gave her a suspicious smile. “Pastor Love, is there something you’re not telling us?”
“Something?” Love presented a blank face. Blessing made an imaginary pregnancy bulge with her hands. Love simply laughed.
“What is your own, Blessing?” Maggie reprimanded gently. “Belle no dey hide nau. If it’s there, it’ll show.”
“I’m just asking, mama.”
Love smiled at both women. She could tell that they didn’t like each other.
“Let’s begin this meeting already, shall we?” Maggie spoke up, straightening a file resting on her laps.
The meeting kicked off with prayers from the resident pastor’s wife. As Maggie brought to the fore the issues they were to deliberate on, Love switched off. She hated their meetings. Nothing productive ever came out of them. They were all spoilt, privileged wives of rich pastors who basked in the attention and honor given to their husbands. Besides the pretentious charity work they sometimes engaged in, their gathering was totally useless. She sometimes wished she would stop attending altogether. But she was already unloved by many in the church; she didn’t want to make things worse for herself.
A full hour wore on, and Love began to feel restless. The first ladies had spent the bulk of the times analyzing the Papa and Phoebe situation.
“Can we just move on to another topic?” Love suggested, speaking up for the first time since the party began. Her commanding tone brought on instant silence. “Papa is getting married to Alice in a month. We haven’t yet discussed what we will get for them.”
“I was just about to bring that up,” Maggie stated. “Suggestions are welcomed, ladies.”
Love called Blessing over with a finger. Blessing left her seat and went to her. “Your restroom, please.”
“Um… Sister Joy just went to pee,” Pastor Blessing replied. Love was well aware that someone had just gone in to use the guest toilet. “Can you wait?”
“I can’t. I really have to go.”
“Um…okay. Can you climb upstairs? There’s a spare toilet there. It’s the third door on your right.”
Love took the stairs up. The third door on the right was at the end of the hallway. To her left was a door, half open. Out of it emerged a maid. She genuflected, greeting Love.
“Hello, dear,” Love replied, taking a peep into the room. “Is that the toilet?”
“Toilet? Oh, no ma. It’s that one.” She pointed, shutting the door.
“Thank you,” Love replied. She headed to the bathroom. A while after, she was downstairs with the women. Somebody had just suggested buying a car for Alice as a wedding gift.
“Papa already got her a car,” Love answered. “He’ll give it to her on the wedding day.”
“Then let’s pay for their honeymoon,” Maggie submitted.
“Already been arranged too. A one-month honeymoon to exotic places around the world.”
“Wow,” one of the wives muttered.
“Their flight expenses?”
“That too. All done. See, this wedding means a lot to Papa. Alice is his little piece of heaven here on earth. He wants her to have a fairytale wedding and honeymoon. Nothing we can do, with all our finances pulled together, can top what he’s planning for her.”
“Baby things then,” another wife suggested. “Clothes, cot, all the baby would need.”
“The Omotoshos handle that from pregnancy to the first six months. Family tradition.”
“Na wa o. You Omotoshos are something else.”
“So, what do you suggest, Pastor Love?” Blessing asked.
“Let’s take over the reception. It would be hard to convince Papa but I will.”
“Great idea,” Maggie concurred. Blessing shrugged. One after the other, the wives agreed and the meeting continued for another thirty or so minutes. Love endured it. When the closing prayer was said, she tolerated another fifteen more minutes of banal talk with some of her colleagues.
She finally made it out of the house after tearing herself from one of them who was bent on finding out if she was pregnant.
She turned at the mention of her name as she stepped out of the Kanayo residence. Maggie was on her heels. For a woman who was in her late forties, Maggie still struck a youthful appearance sometimes. She was part of a fraction of modern day women in BCC who were choosing to defy the effects of ageing. They were throwing themselves into the keto diet craze and spending quality time in the gym and beauty salons.
“I wanted to find out how things are going with everyone at home,” Maggie said. “Aloy is probably with Papa now. If it wasn’t for this meeting, I would have joined him. Are you okay? Is Papa okay? Pastor Leye?”
“We’re all fine, thank you.”
“All of this would be over soon. I know a lot has happened between our family and yours. Unspoken mostly. But please know that my support has and will always be with the Omotoshos.”
“Thank you, Pastor Maggie.”
“And this is just by the way,” she added, giving the Kanayo house a glance. “You should be careful about people who want to cozy up to you these days.”
“Why do you say so?”
“I can’t speak more than this. But please, be wary.”
Love continued to her car which was parked outside the house. Najib and Mina were waiting.
“Mina?” Love called as she entered the car. “I don’t remember you being in this car with me earlier.”
“Oh. I was just in the neighborhood and NJ told me you guys were here. So I stopped by.”
“Did Pastor Leye tell you to follow me everywhere I go?”
“Did Pastor Leye do what?”
“Yes. He did,” Mina answered quietly. Love gave no response. She picked her phone from her handbag and turned it on. Messages flew in. She attended to them one after the other, first from social media, and then emails and text messages. The first text she opened made her sit up. It was similar to the one she had received two years ago, not long after Akonte passed. In it was a link.
Love’s tummy churned as she tapped on it and it led her to her browser. This time, there was a video with no display. But when she tapped on it, an unpleasant recording of Akonte and his lover, Jenewari, having sex, played.
Love showed no reaction to the video. She sat in silence and watched the duo until their lovemaking session ended and they began another. It was at that point a masked man walked in, engaged them in an inaudible conversation and shot them both dead.
Again, Love didn’t flinch. The video went blank. When images played a second time, it was of her dousing the corpses of Akonte and Jenewari with fuel. She watched herself as she stood at the foot of the bed, lit Akonte’s tie with a flame and set it on a pillow. She only recalled now, as she continued watching, that she had not walked away immediately. She had stood there for some seconds, until Najib walked in and drew her away.
That day had been too much for her to handle. Bits of it had already been erased from her memory. Thanks to the video, it was now all coming back to haunt her.
She returned to the text message and replied the sender.
Who are you and what do you want?
A quick reply came back, much to her surprise.
Lol, Loveth. You are not my target, actually. Just reminding you of what you did in case you forgot. But don’t rejoice so quickly. I might soon ask for something.
Love saved both messages and placed her phone in her handbag.
“What have you got on Pastor Blessing?”
“Nothing, actually. I just began today as per your instructions.”
“I need you to pause on her and zoom in on her elder sister. Her name is Glory Okonkwo. Ignore Blessing. What we’re looking for may lie in Glory’s past.”
“Are you sure?”
Love wasn’t completely certain but that single glimpse of Blessing’s sister had turned the course of her suspicions. There was a massive twist in the story, and she would be pursuing it without mercy.