Good day, Fam!
Hope you’re all good? I want to inform you that I’ll be taking a long break from here, to return in November. As usual, work has got me occupied, and I don’t want to be erratic. I’ll miss being in this space, but I’ll be back.
Enjoy this episode and take care!
“I’d like to talk to the parts of you that had a threesome in your suite last night.”
The response to Idara’s query was a subtle smile on Leonel’s face. She knew at once whom she was communicating with. She hadn’t spoken to Spirit in a long time. It was a good thing to have him around. This meant progress.
“I didn’t have a threesome. I wish I did, but I didn’t. I ended up watching the girls make out, because one of them smelled of roses. I think she dunked herself in a pool of rosewater before showing up. I couldn’t stand it.”
It was Spirit, all right. He hated roses because his mother’s signature perfume back in the day had been rose-scented. He hated everything that reminded him of her.
“I wouldn’t mind a threesome tonight, though.” A wayward look caused his eyes to narrow on Idara. “Brisa, you and I. Or if you prefer, just you and I.”
Spirit and his never-ending crush on her.
“But only yesterday, you told me that if you crossed the line with me, I should call your wife.”
He kept his smile. “Yesterday? I don’t recall having that conversation with you.”
“I believe your exact words were ‘I’m not going to be inappropriate with you. You’re my dad’s ex, for fuck’s sake. I’m not that deviant.’ Do you remember that?”
“You know I didn’t say those words to you.”
“But you did.”
Leonel was a tough case for Idara; the toughest DID patient she had ever come across. This was because Spirit’s personality was similar to Leonel’s. They shared everything in common, save for the womanizing trait, the devotion to Kyenpia and the recollections of their childhood. A huge chunk of Leonel’s formative years was missing from Spirit’s memories. This was understandable, given that Spirit first showed up after Leonel’s brain death recovery. The second time he was activated was on the night of his eighth birthday; and this was Jamila’s doing. She had deliberately fostered Spirit to cover her lies and Igwe’s, but had been unable to deactivate him after her work was done.
What she succeeded in doing was keeping him in the background for long periods. He would resurface, however, especially during the holidays, whenever the boys left hers to Captain. Somehow, Captain was a trigger. Spirit felt more connected to him than Leonel did. Idara had a theory that Jamila pushed Leonel into studying psychology, because she wanted him to be able to manage his mental illness on his own, seeing that she had failed. Leonel was proficient in the skill of self-hypnosis and self-therapy, having researched deeply into the subject as a psychology student. He had been afflicted with unending spells of personality shifts in his early twenties that almost wrecked his life. In the depths of desperation, he hunted for the cure within himself. The outcome led to Spirit being relegated to the background and quietly cloning every aspect of Leonel’s life. He did it so well that nobody knew for sure when he came out to play. Unlike most cases of DID where alters took on separate personalities from the host, Spirit retained Leonel’s dispositions. Leonel himself was fine with it, because Spirit didn’t break the flow in continuity. He always picked up from wherever Leonel left off. Sometimes, he was magnanimous to leave notes in Leonel’s journal if he felt there was something Leonel needed to know.
A second reason Leonel accepted Spirit was because with him, they had no past, no pain of trauma from their childhood. It was a synergetic relationship that worked well until Leonel found love.
Kyenpia’s presence in his life made him want to be in control. She reminded him of Emem, a portrayal of wholesome love. Until he met her, he had been fine with being in the background and letting Spirit be in charge. Leonel, as a person, suffered from low self-worth, self-hatred and suicidal feelings. Spirit had been his strength until Kyenpia showed up and woke him up from his inertia. It inadvertently now meant that Spirit had to become less.
This angered Sprit, no doubt. His reaction was to go on a spree of self-destructive behavior. When that didn’t work, he tried to duplicate Leonel’s relationship with Kyenpia by keeping Anna as a distraction. Everything he had done since Kyenpia’s appearance in Leonel’s life had been to break the couple apart. With Kyenpia, he felt weak. He was aware that he needed his host to survive; unlike Leonel, who was certain that he no longer needed him and had done everything to get rid of him. But Spirit wasn’t going to leave without a fight. Leonel was aware of this and was ready to get into a situation of co-consciousness, co-acceptance and greater integration with Spirit.
Idara’s challenge right now, was to get both identities to engage with one another in inner conversations. But knowing Spirit, she was wary of bringing him into the knowledge of what was happening. She feared that once he found out what Leonel was up to, he might withdraw completely or try to take over and never leave. On a certain occasion in the past, he had claimed that he did not inhabit the same body as Leonel and had threatened to engage in acts of self-injury, in a bid to kill off Leonel, insisting that it would not hurt him. His behavior wasn’t new to Idara. It was called dissociative denial.
“You and Leo are up to something,” Spirit said unexpectedly. He said this, rising up from the couch on which she had asked him to sit.
“We’re always up to something,” she replied casually.
“I’ll take that,” he answered as stood before a mantelpiece that had a collection of figurines. “But I’m not that stupid.”
Spirit had trust issues. Leonel had dumped the bulk of his weaknesses in him. Idara’s job was to retrieve them all from Spirit and present them back to Leonel, to help him overcome them. On the other hand, she needed to help Spirit recover lost memories.
“How did you feel about seeing your mother again after twenty-eight years?”
Spirit kept his face on the figurines. Not quite the reaction she had expected. Leonel had told her that Spirit hadn’t surfaced during his stay at London, but Idara was now discovering that he had somehow known that Emem was alive. Maybe through Leonel’s journal. Or had Leonel found some way to communicate it to him within?
“Why is that?”
“She lied to us. Was I supposed to welcome her with open arms?”
“But you understood why she did what she did, yeah?”
Spirit turned. His face bore a clueless expression. He had no idea what Idara was talking about. She could also see that he didn’t care. She could have as well be talking about the lifespan of seahorses.
“Doc, is there a reason this conversation is going on?”
“Yes. I’m here to make you better, aren’t I?”
“Yeah, but…I’d rather be doing other stuff right now, like kissing you.” He sat on the couch and pulled out to the edge, leaning towards her. “I know Captain never had sex with you. I’d be surprised if he more than kissed you. He’s been asexual since he got his dick cut off and he started going around with that prosthetic shit. This makes you available to me, and I really, really want to do things to you that no man has ever done. Be my woman, Idara. Exclusively. Let’s start life afresh. I’m done with that shit I was doing back in Nigeria. My life is here, and all around the world, with you.”
Idara smiled. “I’m flattered, Spirit, but you’re not my type. You know that.”
“I can be any type you want. Try me.”
“Let’s concentrate on what we were talking about.”
He sprang up again. “I don’t want to talk about my mom.”
“What do you remember about the night of your eighth birthday?”
Leonel put his hands in his pockets and started a slow walk around Idara’s room without responding to her question. She didn’t repeat it.
“Nothing,” he finally said, stopping before her.
“That’s not what you told me the last time we talked about it. Show me your left palm.”
He took out his left hand from his pocket and uncurled it. There was a small scar that came in a line in the middle of his palm.
“Remember this?” The question was to trigger a memory that had Captain in it. She searched Spirit’s eyes to see if it would work.
“You care to share what you remember?”
He stared at his palm for a while before speaking. “I think Captain gave me a cut with em…with the…”
“He got David a pair of boots as a birthday gift.”
“And he bought you a penknife, right?”
“And he cut you with it. Why?”
“I was being rough with it, bursting balloons and stuff. He said he’d told me I wasn’t supposed to be playing with it that way; that it was dangerous and it could hurt someone.”
“So, to teach you how dangerous it was, he cut you with it.”
“How did that make you feel?”
Spirit pushed his hand back into his pocket. “I felt…nothing.”
“How did that make your mom feel?”
“I don’t recall.”
“Or you don’t want to recall?”
“I’d rather not.”
“Was it the same knife that hurt your mom?”
He didn’t give her an answer. He walked to the window and stood before it. Idara employed a different tactic.
“I’m afraid our session is over today.”
He turned. “Why?”
“You’re not helpful, and I don’t see why we should go on.” She stood up. “I’d like to have my room to myself, please.”
“Okay, I’ll talk.” He came towards her. “Anything you want, I’ll tell you.”
Leonel would never do this. He was too proud. Spirit, in contrast, craved attention like a little boy. He had once bought a car for Idara because she wouldn’t communicate with him for weeks.
“But you don’t recall your past, Spirit.”
“I’ll try.” He took her hand. “Guide me into it. Hypnotize me or something.”
“You know we’ve been down that road many times, but you always shut down because it hurts you. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“For fuck’s sake, I’m not a child. Let’s do this. Anything for you, doc.”
“No, this is for you, Spirit. For Leonel. If you know you can’t handle it, tell me. Let me pack my things and take the next available flight to Lagos.”
“I can, doc. I can. Just tell me how to start.”
Idara held his eyes as she pointed him back to the couch. This was more than progress. Usually, Spirit would do everything to avoid his past, and when they eventually got there, he would go blank. Then, in the next session, he would not recall anything from the previous, and she would have to start all over again. Idara prayed that this time, they would advance. Leonel was desperate and willing to do anything to feel better.
Kyenpia couldn’t hide the bags underneath her eyes. Last night had been hell, all thanks to Anna. It didn’t matter what Clarence told her to make her feel better; she believed Anna. Maybe because she knew that Anna had known Leonel’s Spirit personality more than she did. In fact, Kyenpia had encountered Spirit only a few times, and in those times, she had known immediately that she hadn’t been dealing with Leonel. It was only after meeting Spirit that she came to appreciate the man Leonel was. Leonel was principled, straightforward, committed to their relationship and faithful to her. She knew that the person that had been with Anna was not the man she loved; this was her reason for asking Anna to leave his life. The logical thing she would have done was to ask Leonel to dump Anna, but Kyenpia had figured out that it wouldn’t have worked. She had also known that Anna leaving him wouldn’t automatically mean that Spirit would go away. But Kyenpia had been willing to take him as he was, as long as he went for therapy.
“I know you’ve been seeing doctors for most of your life,” she told him on their wedding night. “But you have to do this for me now. Not for yourself alone. For Elem and the twins we’re expecting. They need a father that is wholly devoted to them. Can you do that?”
“Anything for you, Sunshine.”
Kyenpia had been ready for whatever accepting Spirit could mean, but…murder?
According to Clarence, Leonel had been drunk on the night that he murdered a lady. He had run over her with his car just outside the hotel premises. Somebody had taken a recording of the moment the hit and run happened, and had threatened to release it to the police, but Jaiye stepped in and paid off the person. Jaiye also doctored the surveillance footage outside the hotel to erase any evidence that would expose Leonel.
“It was a mistake, Ms. Kyenpia,” Clarence clarified last night. “The hotel has compensated the lady’s family. Just as a show of concern, not as an act of complicity, since the incident happened outside the hotel.”
“Nobody else witnessed what happened asides the guy that took the video?”
“It happened at the back entrance where Mr. Leonel sometimes parked his car. It was almost 3 a.m. and the place was deserted. The guy that recorded it didn’t even have a clear footage. The problem was that the footage ran over two minutes, in which time, the lady was fighting for her life. And while this was going on, Mr. Leonel returned and drove past her, using the front entrance into the hotel.”
“The guy’s recording had everything.”
“Customized license plate?”
“But the police thinks someone else did it?”
“Yes, ma’am. Mr. Jaiye did a good job.”
But why did Leonel drive off?
The questioned replayed in Kyenpia’s head. Leonel had not been a coward, and he hadn’t been a drunk either. He was one man Kyenpia knew could handle his alcohol. But even if he had been out of his mind or in his alternate personality, why allow Jaiye, of all people, to clean up his mess when there was Captain?
Kyenpia had spent most of the night awake, replaying the scene in her head. She saw Leonel run the woman down with his car and the woman struggling to live after he was gone; only for him to drive past again without stopping.
None of it made sense. Or had Spirit been so terrible a person? What else had he done that she wasn’t aware of? And how could she separate him from Leonel, knowing it was Leonel anyway? It was one thing to overlook his infidelity; it was a different game at play when it involved murder.
What sort of man had she married?
“Ms. Kyenpia, I believe we’re on the same page here?”
Kyenpia drew away from thoughts of Leonel and smiled at the man in front of her. She had just concluded with him on plans that would see both of their companies working together in the future. He was with a woman who had been smiling in excitement all through, star struck at Kyenpia.
Kyenpia extended her hand for a handshake to the woman first, rising from her chair.
“When are you going to return to your radio show?” she asked. “I’ve missed you on air.”
“Um…” Kyenpia had plans to be on air only once a week. She now owned half of the radio station, having made an offer to her former boss, which he couldn’t refuse. Starting next week was a show called ‘The Feminist Table.’ Kyenpia was excited about the ruckus it would cause. She, and her co-presenters, were going to give listeners a good show.
“I’ll be back on radio soon,” Kyenpia responded to the woman and shook her partner’s hand, bringing an end to their meeting. “I’ll have my lawyer draw up a contract,” she said.
Clarence, standing nearby, helped her into her jacket and picked her handbag.
“Have a good day.”
She walked away from them. The meeting had taken place in the restaurant of a small hotel. Clarence tailed her out of the building to the car park. He opened the backdoor and helped her in. She reached for a bottle of water on the seat, sighing.
“Take me to Ishi’s,” she instructed as Clarence entered the car. She texted Ishi to inform him that she was coming over. Kyenpia removed her glasses, which had been used to hide the bags underneath her eyes. She had a drink of water as her thoughts returned to Leonel and the woman he had run over. Something was off about the story. She wasn’t putting it past Spirit to do it, but she was sure there was more that needed to be known.
“Are you okay, Ms. Kyenpia?” Clarence asked as they commenced on their journey to Ishi’s.
“I’m well, thank you.” She was quiet for a bit, running her finger on the rim of the water bottle. “Is there anything else he did that I need to know, Clarence?”
“Anything the boss did?”
“Yes. Did he ever…rape anybody?”
“Rape? God, no. Please, ma’am, don’t have these thoughts of him. He was a good man. A very good man. I don’t even know why Anna would tell you about that night.”
Because Anna is a psycho bitch that hates me and wishes she was me. Because she has no regards for me, seeing that we had shared the same dick.
“Just try to forget everything. It has happened and it’s all in the past now.”
Is it? Could she forget everything? Ignorance was indeed bliss.
“Play me some music, Clarence. Erykah Badu or something.”
In a few seconds, Erykah Badu came on. Kyenpia shut her eyes and listened to the sounds until the car pulled up in Ishi’s compound.
She went into the house. Ishi was playing a computer game alone, standing before his television. Kyenpia dropped her handbag on the floor and found solace in his body.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
The movement of his hands on the control pad comforted her, just as the brush of his beard on her face. She held onto him tightly until he was done with the game. He brought her face to his.
“What’s going on?”
She shrugged and removed her stilettos. He lowered a little to kiss her. They snuggled on a couch and she told him about Amaka’s accident.
“I dreamt about it on Monday,” Ishi said. Kyenpia slowly extracted her body from his.
“You’ve started dreaming again?”
“It’s not serious.”
She drew her legs up. “You know what this means, right?”
“It means nothing, Kay. It was just a little premonition, which anyone can have.”
“No, Ishi. None of us had it. Just you. Because that’s your gift. You foresaw it and it happened.”
“But would it be such a bad thing to be restored back to the faith again?”
Kyenpia looked at him. “No, Ishi. In fact, I’d be glad to have you back with God, but I’ll be heartbroken, because I know that it’ll be the end of us. And I don’t want us to end.”
Ishi took her hand and tugged her back to his body. “I’m far from my faith, right now. I still have unresolved issues.” He put his arms and a leg around her. “It seems easy to say I should just pray and ask forgiveness and everything will be fine, but it’s hard. Very hard. The disconnect is huge. I still don’t feel God. I don’t even feel alive. You’re the only thing that makes me alive.”
Kyenpia kissed his chin and then his lips. She needed him as much as he needed her. It took mere seconds to have their clothes on the floor and their nude bodies entwined together. Kyenpia fell asleep shortly after. She had hoped for a nap, but she went on for three hours, waking up to small hands touching her face.
She opened her eyes. Eliana was bent over her, observing her curiously. Kyenpia smiled.
She got a hug and a peck on her cheek.
“How was school?”
And Eliana went off, chatting animatedly in baby-talk, telling her how her day had been.
“Take!” Eliana finally offered Kyenpia a half-chewed eclair. “Say ‘aaaaah!’”
“Aaaaah!” Kyenpia opened her mouth.
“Say thank you.”
Kyenpia laughed, rising up. She recalled that she had an appointment at the office for two. She got off the couch, taking along the bedspread with which Ishi had covered her. She also took Eliana’s hand.
“Give Mommy some privacy.” Ishi came by and lifted Eliana off the floor as Kyenpia approached his bedroom. The girl screamed in protest and got a scolding from him.
Kyenpia shut the door on them. She recalled Ishi telling her something about returning to his architectural firm to continue his partnership with Lanre. This meant he would start working again. This also meant that familiar wheels were turning once more, setting everything back the way it used to be. She would lose this version of Ishi to the man he used to be. It was a good thing for him, but what about her? Who would come and reset her life too? And would she continue with him platonically and seek something more intimate, only on the basis of marriage?
Kyenpia relieved her bladder and left the bathroom. She put on her clothes, listening to Ishi and Eliana play in the living room. She picked her handbag, wore her shoes and tiptoed out of the house through the backdoor. She dropped a text with Ishi once she was in the car. On her way out, she texted Anna, telling her to postpone her appointment by two hours. Anna called, but she didn’t take the call. Kyenpia was mad at her.
“We’re going to the villa,” Kyenpia informed Clarence.
The villa wasn’t far from Ishi’s residence. They arrived there in fifteen minutes.
“Where are we stopping?” Clarence asked. The villa was massive and had different residential wings. The north wing was where the Igwe wives stayed. It was also where Kyenpia’s apartment was located. Other wings were the guest wings, Igwe’s private quarters and the east wing, which was cut off from the others because it held a collection of chalets for the third generation Igwe children.
Clarence stopped Kyenpia outside the north wing. She wasn’t in the mood to chat with anyone. She would quickly pick the kids and hurry to the office for her appointment. Unfortunately, Igwe’s wives and Jamila were present today. This hardly ever happened.
Kyenpia was surprised when she walked in and saw them. They welcomed her in heartily, with hugs and kisses. She was also invited for lunch. Kyenpia dared not decline.
Jamila drew her to the dining area and pulled out a chair for her.
“The boys can rest for a bit while we ladies enjoy our time together, don’t you think?”
Kyenpia nodded. She was silent when lunch commenced. The three ladies were loud. They regaled themselves with stories from their younger days – of how they had loved, lusted and lost; the men they dumped and the kings they could have laid their lives for; the children they raised up and the ones lost; the dreams forgone and the ambitions pursued; their regrets and successes; and finally, secrets they were just getting bold enough to let out.
But Kyenpia wasn’t there with them. Her mind was lost elsewhere. The voices of the three women floated over her head distantly. Her food on the table before her was left untouched.
“Kyenpia?” someone called; a hand touched her shoulder. She turned.
“Are you okay?” It was Mama Dooshima asking.
“What’s wrong?” Jamila, seated to her right, inquired.
“I’m good.” Kyenpia put on a smile. “Everything’s okay.”
“But you weren’t here with us. Did you miss my gist about my late ex?” Princess, the other woman at the table, Igwe’s third wife, inquired.
“Yeah… No, I heard everything.”
“Oya, talk to me. What’s going on?” Dooshima prodded.
“I’m good, seriously.”
“I know that look, young lady,” Princess said. “There’s a lot on your mind. The type of ‘a lot’ you don’t want to share with anyone.”
“But you can talk to us, if you want to,” Jamila said gently. “We’re here for you.”
Kyenpia’s eyes wandered off to the wall in front of her. There was a painting there. A Picasso. The shapes and colors had arrested her attention the first time she was in this room. She had stood before the painting for a long time, mesmerized by its brilliance, until Leonel came behind her and told her that it was the most expensive artwork in the entire Igwe villa.
“I don’t know, but it would probably buy us a small village of faithful servants.”
Kyenpia was just getting to realize the depth of the wealth Leonel had been born into, and even then, she didn’t fully grasp it. Yet she was intimidated by it, so much so that Leonel picked up on her inadequacy.
“We don’t have to live like royals, you and I,” he whispered, moving to her other side. Family members were beginning to walk into the dining room then. “If you love the simple life, we’ll do simple. Away from the excess money and dangers of politics. Just me and you and the beautiful daughters you’ll give me.”
He placed a kiss on her shoulder, took her hand and introduced her to his extended family for the first time.
“Kyenpia.” Dooshima’s hand was on her again. Kyenpia blinked and gave them a smile. “I’m all right. It’s just that being here reminds me of Leonel a lot, but I’m okay.”
“Good.” Princess put her glass of wine away. “So, we were talking about your situation with Dozie before you came.”
“I don’t think this is the best time to bring this up,” Jamila stated.
“Why not?” Dooshima asked.
“Because…look at her.”
“I’m fine, Mama Jams.” Kyenpia grinned. “I’m ready to hear what you have to say.”
“Still a bad idea,” Jamila insisted.
Princess pulled herself into a straighter posture. For her age, she was quite sprightly. Princess was Jacan’s mother. Tall and gorgeous. Her entire demeanor spelled royalty and classiness. She was the most sophisticated of Igwe’s wives. She was never to be caught dressed casually or in the manner her mates did. Even now, she was wearing a wrap dress that emphasized her curves. Age had told on her, but it had done so stylishly. Back then, when Igwe was Head of State, she was called the ‘Yanga First Lady’. Kyenpia hadn’t been born at that time, but she had heard about her and seen magazine covers that regaled her beauty, even foreign ones. Nigerians believed then that it was all she was about, but Leonel had told her that Princess was more than that. It was no rumor that she was one of the heads of the dreaded Cabal that had ruled the country for a long time. In the circles of power, Princess was greatly feared.
“First of all, we all know about you and Dozie. And we don’t judge two of you. In fact, we’re happy that you have each other. We wouldn’t want to see him with that gold-digging trash. What’s her name again?”
“Stephanie,” Dooshima answered.
“She should be off the face of the earth for the way she abandoned Dozie. This is because she stands as a threat to Dozie’s future and Adannaya’s as well.”
Dozie was Ishi, Adannaya was Eliana. Princess, like Igwe, stuck to Igbo names.
“I don’t need to tell you how much she’s going to destroy his life once she gets back in. She already destroyed her first marriage and caused him quite a scandal last year. Now, she wants to get back in after abandoning him at the time he needed her most. Trash of the highest order, I tell you.”
Kyenpia caught Jamila rolling her eyes but Dooshima agreeing with Princess.
“We cannot let that happen, Kyen,” Princess went on. “We simply cannot allow that trashy commoner come in and hurt him a second time. The wealth must remain in the family, and I don’t see what better way to ensure that it does except you and Ishi coming together to build a legacy as a power couple.”
“Coming together?” Kyenpia asked and looked at Dooshima. “Power couple?”
“Yes, my darling,” Princess continued. “For the sake of your kids. It would be a tragedy if you married some other guy out there as well. Dozie has always carried the torch for you. Please, don’t put the fire out.”
“Princess, I just lost my husband.”
“I know, my darling. And this isn’t me being insensitive. I understand exactly how you feel. I lost a husband in the past before I met Abraham. I’m sure you’ve heard the story. Well, here I am today. I didn’t die.” She giggled. “All I’m saying is that this is just a phase in your life. And although it may seem like it would stretch on forever; trust me, you’ll get over it. What would be a shame would be you losing Ishi just because you took too long grieving over Afam.”
“Princess, with all due respect, I find this quite insensitive. I’m still mourning my husband.”
“By riding his cousin’s penis?”
“Princess!” Jamila scolded.
“For God’s sake, Princess,” Dooshima muttered.
Kyenpia sighed. She wasn’t ready for this woman’s bad behavior. Not today.
“I’m sorry, that was harsh. So sorry. But I’m sure you get what I mean, Kyen. If you can conveniently have a sexual relationship with Dozie not long after Afam’s death, then I think marriage is a small thing.”
Jamila butt in again. “That’s enough, Princess.”
Princess ignored her. “In this family, we make sure we keep the wealth within to secure the future of posterity. You would agree with all of us here that you have been doubly blessed by all Leonel left you with. To show your gratitude, I think it’s only fitting to let the wealth stay with the Igwes.”
“Good Lord!” Jamila exclaimed. “
“Asides that, we Igwes even stay in marriages that do not benefit us emotionally to ensure that the Igwe name burns brightly in the future. But the good thing is that you and Ishi are in love, which makes it more beautiful. You should seriously consider what I’m telling you.”
“Okay, Princess. Thank you.” Kyenpia wanted to be gone from here immediately. She stood up. “I have to leave.”
“Don’t take anything she told you to heart,” Jamila said to her in Hausa, also getting on her feet.
“I heard that,” Princess retorted.
“You were too harsh,” Dooshima whispered. Jamila held Kyenpia’s hand and they left the room together.
“You don’t have to marry Ishi or get into anything serious with him. In fact, I strongly advise you not to. Hang in there. Take this moment as one of life’s greatest lessons. Grow with it, learn with it, because you’ll wake up one beautiful morning and all your tears will be gone.”
Kyenpia hugged Jamila. She took her leave, feeling lighter than earlier. When she recalled Princess’ words, she burst into laughter. Clarence stared at her through the rearview mirror.
“To the office?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied, flicking a thread off Kane’s cheek. Holding both boys in her arms, she drifted into a slumber. When they arrived at Léon Hotels, their nanny was waiting to take them from her. She hurried upstairs to her office, just in time for her appointment. It was brief and left her with some time to attend to other pressing matters. When the clock struck five, she called Anna in.
“You’ll be traveling with Mr. Felix to Mauritius. I’m sure you already know about the hotel there that’s up for sale by the Xavier brothers?”
“Mr. Felix is going to be doing some snooping around, and I think you’re the perfect person to go along with him since you accompanied Leonel there the last time. Your flight is for tomorrow. The travel agency will call you in a bit and get things sorted. You may leave.”
Kyenpia had said the words to her without a glance her way. Her eyes had been on her laptop the whole time.
“Are you mad at me, Ms. Kyenpia?”
Kyenpia looked up. “Over what?”
“Over last night. The things I said to you and what I revealed to you.”
“Why would I be mad at you for telling me the truth?”
“How about when I went off on you?”
“And if I’m mad at you about the way you were rude to me, it would be on what basis? You being my employee or you being the other woman?”
“Ms. Kyenpia, I am sorry for the way I spoke to you. It will never happen again.”
Kyenpia shut her laptop and rested both elbows on the table. “I doubt that, Anna. I doubt that whatever you feel towards me inside would ever go away. I have tried to be the big person here, over and over. I have put the past behind us and opened my arms wide enough for you to come in and be part of what I do here, because the business matters most and not our emotions. But time and again, you have expressed your angst towards me – subtly and blatantly. So, yes, I am mad at you, and I would not like to see your face around here for a while. You should take the time off in Mauritius and relive the warm memories you and Leonel shared there or just let it all go. I expect you to come back here with a rational head and none of that beef you have for me. Understood?”
“And one more thing, Anna. I am not Leonel. I have no interest in your personal life outside these four walls. I will replace you in a wink if you keep acting like you don’t know where your boundaries lie.”
“Understood. Thank you.”
There was a knock and Jaiye poked his head in. “Got a minute?”
“Come in, Jaiyesimi.”
Anna made her exit as he walked in.
“Been wanting to see you all day. You look good, by the way,” he complimented.
“How may I help you, Jaiye?”
“We have a problem. The staff want to unionize.”
“Most of them. I’ve had my persons put their ears down, and the info I’m getting isn’t good.”
Kyenpia leaned backwards. “What’s their grouse? They’re being paid well.”
“Their grouse is that you…we took a good number of their colleagues and converted them to BFAM staff.”
“Those were mostly junior staff. And we didn’t fire them. We simply gave them an offer that allows them more time on their hands.”
“No, actually we left them with no choice. It was more like ‘work with BFAM or lose your job.’”
“And it’s worked for us, hasn’t it? Better output, less expenses…”
“The rest that are still here are scared of losing their jobs. Let’s not forget the recent firings I have been doing.”
“That one is on you, Jaiye. It’s your mess you’re fixing.”
“I know, but I’m bringing this to your knowledge right now. If they unionize, they can choose to hold us by the balls anytime they feel like.”
“Can you let me think about this overnight?”
“No, um…find out who the brains behind the whole gang-up are, and try to buy them over.”
“A pay raise, maybe. Base it on some merit bullshit. You’re the one with the charm, Jaiye. Do your thing. Use threats where necessary too.”
“Good.” Kyenpia brought her weight forwards again. “Sit down, Jaiye.”
He took one of the visitors’ chairs facing the table.
“The leverage you had over Leonel, was it something to do with him running over a woman with his car two years ago?”
Jaiye’s brows went up in surprise. “Come again?”
“Hit and run. You know what I’m talking about. You helped him cover it up. Is that what you held against him?”
“Answer my question.”
“Yeah, he accidentally murdered someone and I ensured that it never hit the news. Big deal. He was my cousin. I did what I had to do. But that wasn’t my leverage. In short, I had no leverage. I was just pulling your legs yesterday; also trying to make you see that Leo wasn’t a saint. That whole thing were you had it in your head that you married the best man in the world was a bit annoying, don’t you think?”
“You’re a bit annoying.”
“Seriously, Leo was a great guy, but he was just like the rest of us. I was only trying to make you see that. I didn’t think you’d go digging.”
“And what’s your gain in trying to despoil my image of him?”
Jaiye shrugged. “No gain. It’s who I am, Kyenpia. I’m the irritating worm in a perfect apple. Get used to it.”
Kyenpia felt like ripping his baldhead off. “Well, you’re about to find out that I can be quite pesky myself. I will get to the bottom of this mystery.”
“Let it go.”
“No, I won’t, because I believe that Leonel didn’t do it. He’s not the type to get drunk and run someone over. And he sure as hell wouldn’t have left her to die if he had done it. So, you and Anna should find some other story to tell. This one no enter at all.”
“You’re stubborn, aren’t you?”
“Your husband… And this is me putting it in light terms… your husband was an asshole. Deal with it, Kyenpia.”
“I knew he was, but it won’t stop me from finding out what really happened that night. I’d like to have the security footage from the hotel’s surveillance.”
“No problem. I’ll also give you the one I got from the person who wanted to blackmail him. Anything else? Maybe you want to know what plans I have for your friend, Fi?”
“I didn’t ask for that.”
“Good.” Jaiye stood up. “But just in case you want to know, I plan to make her my wife, after I knock her up.”
Kyenpia laughed. “Good luck with that.”
“I’ll get into your tightly-woven clan, Kyenpia. You and your bourgeois friends. I’ll get into all of you.”
“See you tomorrow.”
When the door shut, Kyenpia cussed. One dinner with him and he was already feeling like he could do bedroom talk with her.
“Tell Anna I want to see her immediately.”
Jaiye pushed the phone on his table in irritation. He loosened his tie and unbuttoned his shirt. He then chugged down a full glass of water and responded to his secretary, who was asking via intercom, to repeat his message.
“Anna, stupid!” he barked into the phone. “Get me Anna! And think twice if you still want this job since you’re now deaf!”
“I’m sorry sir.”
He removed his shirt. The t-shirt underneath had a Léon Hotel logo. He tugged it out of his pants and turned down the temperature of the air conditioner.
Anna walked into his office with her resident frown. Her eyes behind corrective glasses regarded him in contempt as she approached his table.
“You asked for me?”
“Do you have a problem with keeping your mouth shut?”
“Yeah, I do. I think I learned it from that point in my life when I was forced to date you and you’d tie me and shove your penis all the way to my throat. I’ve since had an issue keeping my mouth shut.”
“You’re the dumbest chick I met in my entire life, Anastacia! The absolute dumbest! Why did you go and tell Kyenpia about that night? Do you not realize what you’ve done? Now, she wants to go and dig up everything!”
“I don’t care. Let her dig it up and find out the truth. I’m tired of carrying the burden.”
“And you’re a murderer.”
Jaiye jumped off his chair and advanced at her, stretching his body over the table. “I did not kill that guy!” he growled in a low voice.
“But you handled the situation, and somehow, he just disappeared.”
Jaiye controlled his breath to get a grip on his emotions before drawing back. He left his side of the table and walked to Anna. “I didn’t kill him. He was threatening us with that stupid video and I had to fix the situation. Jesus, Anna! I can’t even believe you have the guts to come in here and pin everything on me after what you did!”
“Like I said, I want the truth to be out–”
“To what gain?”
“Unlike you, Jaiye, I am not a thief and a murderer. I have a conscience, and I want to be free from it.”
“And if the truth comes out and we both end up in jail nko? Can’t you just let Leo die with the story and be buried with it? Look what your big mouth has done now. Kyenpia won’t stop until she unearths what happened.”
“You killed someone.”
Jaiye was frustrated. “I know he’s not dead. He somehow just disappeared, and that’s a good thing for everyone. But even if I killed him, don’t you think I’d have done so the moment he began trying to blackmail us with the stupid video? Why would I let him go free, pay him millions to shut his mouth, only to kill him nine months later?”
“Because you got tired of his blackmailing ass. Didn’t you tell me he tried to extort you again? And what happened to him days after you told me that?”
“I can’t believe you want to put this on me, Anna. I did what I had to do, for Leo and for you.”
“No, only because of what you stood to gain from me and Leo. So, don’t act like you were doing it out of the goodness of your heart. You won in the end.”
“Fine! I agree that I got what I wanted, but one thing I’m not going to accept is you calling me a murderer, because I am not one. I can be anything else, but not a murderer. Another thing I will not accept is you running your mouth.”
“You started it. I don’t know what you told Kyenpia yesterday, but she came to my house in the night, asking questions like she already knew. So, I told her. Don’t blame me! You started it.”
“And you have to end it! Keep your mouth shut!”
“I don’t care anymore. Let the truth come out. We have two deaths on our hands and I am tired of bearing the burden.”
“Or you just want to despoil what image Kyenpia has of Leo,” he accused, borrowing Kyenpia’s words. Anna sneered. “Yeah, that’s what you want to do. You’re jealous of her, even after his death. You hate that she has everything that belonged to him, including his kids. You hate that she’s his widow. You so badly want to be in her place.”
“The same way you so badly want to have her in your bed and take everything he left behind.”
Jaiye smirked. He had never met anyone as impossible as Anna. She was selfish and he hated her. Getting involved with her was something he regretted. He didn’t know how Leonel had succeeded in getting her entangled around his fingers without any form of drama.
“I’m done with you. Get out.”
Anna turned around and walked to the door.
“Just keep your fucking mouth shut!”
She walked out, leaving the door open. It was her own way of slamming the door in anger. Jaiye shut it and sought for something hot to drink. As he went for the bottle of vodka he had in his drawer, the door opened and Fiyin walked in.
Her impromptu appearance was not appreciated. She was beginning to develop the habit of stealing into his office during work hours. He wouldn’t accommodate it any longer. The PR boss in the hotel was one of his women. She had put him off sex for weeks now because she caught him cheating. She had to be appeased. He had already informed her that she would be traveling to Oslo with him. It would be risky for her to find him in a compromising situation with Fiyin. The chick had a talent for sniffing out other women.
“I hope this is work related?” Jaiye asked as Fiyin came towards his table. She stopped and gave him a frown.
“What sort of question is that?”
“A normal question.”
“It must be the vodka you’re drinking this evening that’s making you talk to me like this.”
“Fi, this is not a good time for anything asides work. Why are you here?”
“Did you get my email on the reality show proposal?”
“Did you get the message I sent to you early this morning informing you of the email?”
“Did you know that I called you thrice? At ten, twelve and one respectively?”
“Yes, and I will respond when I’m less busy. Anything else?”
“Do I just pass the proposal to Kyenpia, instead, since you’re acting like an ass?”
“By all means. After all, I don’t matter to you BFAM bitches.”
“I’m glad to see you back to your normal self. Yesterday, I was almost convinced that an angel crawled into you and died in your heart.”
Jaiye was forced into laughter, and for a second, he forgot his anger at Anna. Fiyin had something on him that the other women didn’t have. He didn’t know what it was. Yesterday, he had let his guard down and allowed his emotions make the most of him. But that was never happening again.
“I will respond to your email.”
“Good. Oh, and by the way, I’m going to Oslo with you. Kyenpia just informed me.”
“But I already picked someone else.”
“I know. Jadesola in PR, right?”
“Maybe we should let you have an office down the hallway since you’re so into office gossip.”
“Don’t worry about me finding my way to Oslo. I have a Schengen visa and I’ll sponsor my trip. I’ll be staying at The Thief, getting all the five-star treatment in the world.”
“Good for you.”
“My suite will be available for you anytime, but you’ll have to dump Jadesola and ensure that she doesn’t go on the trip with you.”
“You have balls o.”
“No, I don’t. You do, and I don’t want to share.”
Fiyin smiled snugly, making her way out. Jaiye poured himself some vodka and sipped it. He had underestimated the woman. How the hell did she find out about Jadesola?
He picked his phone and dialed Jadesola’s number.
“Hello?” she answered in something that sounded like a moan, and he was reminded of how she had cum all over his face last night. He had driven to her house because Fiyin would not have period sex with him. Jade was still mad at him, of course, and denied him sex as well. But she allowed him go down on her. His reward was an orgasm and his entire face and torso getting soaked with squirt. Before now, he had looked forward to going full Philistine on her in Oslo, maxing out all the pleasures he could get from her and then firing her once they returned to Lagos, being that she was on Kyenpia’s termination list.
But he couldn’t risk that now. If Fiyin was going to be in Oslo as well, there was a high possibility that there would be drama. Asides that, he would give up a thousand days with Jadesola for one hour with crazy Fiyin. No woman had taken his beastliness in bed the way she did. He was grateful to the men in her past that had made her the bad girl she was.
“Jade, we need to talk.”
“Is it serious?”
“Very serious. Please, get into my office right away.”
He hung up. Time to fire Jade. Kyenpia will be blamed for it, of course. That way, he could bang Jade’s brains one last time under the guise of giving her a shoulder to cry on.
And then Fiyin… That one must be owned and tamed no matter what. She was getting out of hand, and he couldn’t let her out of his grasp. It wasn’t every day one had the privilege of dating a billionaire heiress.
®Sally Kenneth Dadzie @moskedapages