Ini dropped her key on the side table. “What the f**k is this?” she asked, angrily.
“I had an accident.” Tola replied casually.
Henry nodded. “Wow…the kind of accident that happens when a fist lands on a face several times.”
“Who is this tramp?” Tola charged angrily at Henry.
I stared at her unable to believe what had happened. Tolu had assaulted our friend!
“Did Tolu do this to you?” Ini asked, lifting her chin. Tears streamed down Ini’s eyes. “Look at what you have reduced yourself to, a punching bag?”
Tola scoffed and stepped aside. “Why are you crying, Ini? I am the one who should cry, but I am not. So why cry on my behalf?” she left for the kitchen and returned with an Icepack “No one understands.” She murmured nursing her face with the Icepack.
“Just shut up, Tola! Shut up!” I screamed. “Look at you, you are beautiful, young and powerful and you allow one guy to dictate your life? How dare you?”
Henry stared at her. “No man should treat a woman like this.”
Tola scoffed. “Who owns this kid?”
“He is not a kid! At least, he knows how to treat a woman, not like that pig.” I retorted.
Ini’s eyes burned with fury. “Tola, stand up and let us go to that house, now!” she ordered. Tola laughed. “Do you think it is funny?”
“What are you going there to do? Demand an explanation? Beat him up?” she hissed and fetched her phone from her bag. “It won’t work.” She said, dialling a number.
I shook my head. “Ini, let’s call the police.” She nodded in agreement. “We need to help this girl.”
“I am going to deny everything.” She said, bluntly. “I won’t cooperate.”
I sighed. “Tola wake up and smell the coffee! This guy is a beast! Look at you, he has you damaged.”
“He hasn’t done anything wrong. He only corrected me.” She said.
Ini slammed the table furiously. “She’s playing a script. Is this what he told you to say? Did you rehearse this? Did he molest you sexually too? Did he drug you?” Ini screamed.
“He loves me!” she shouted and broke down in tears.
I slid into the sofa beside her. “Tola, this isn’t love.”
“What do you know? You have never been in love.” She replied.
Henry took a deep breath. “Well, I have. And I will never do this to the woman I claim to love. Never!”
Ini hissed. “You all are sick! We need to go and kill that bastard, what is all the discussion for? Look at Tola! She is a shadow of herself. Are you coming with me, Henry?” she shouted.
He nodded and stood beside her. “Kimberly?”
Tola held my hand. “Don’t go, please. Kim, he didn’t mean it.” She said, holding my hand tightly.
“Kim???” Ini shouted.
I sighed and joined Tola and Henry as we walked out. Thankfully, Ini knew the address. She drummed on the door as soon as we got there. “Open up you bastard!” she shouted aggressively. The curtain blinds went up slightly and a thin lady poked her head through the door.
“Are you a rabid dog?” The thin lady asked flipping her hair backwards.
Ini hissed and pulled her out. “Who are you, skanky little b*tch?” she muscled the lady to the floor sending her crashing with two hits. Henry quickly pulled Ini away from her as I rescued the lady from Ini’s grip.
“What’s going on here?” Tolu shouted, coming out in a towel. “Are you guys crazy?” he shouted as he walked close to us.
I walked up to him and slapped him hot. “Bastard!” I shouted. Henry restrained me from hitting him a second time. “Leave me alone, Henry.”
“He is not worth it.” Henry whispered.
Tolu stepped forward and tried to hold Henry by the shirt. “Who are you?” Tolu shouted. “Are you all insane???” he yelled at the top of his voice.
Ini picked up a metal from the surrounding and charged at Tolu. Seeing the impending danger if the metal should hit Tolu, Henry and I rushed to salvage the situation. “Let me go!” Ini shouted.
Tolu ran into the house and shut the door after him leaving the thin lady outside. “Witch!!!” Ini shouted and rushed to hit the lady. The lady took to her heels in only the T-shirt and left the house.
Oyinkan stepped out of the car. “But what if your Dad finds out about this?” she asked, staring at David.
“Who is going to tell him? You?” David asked. She smiled. “I didn’t think so” he said and closed the door gently. “This is the home, right?” he asked, staring at a sign post.
She stared at him. “It is. I wrote down the address from your dad’s diary.” She said, adjusting her blouse.
He nodded and walked up to the entrance and pressed the bell. The door creaked slightly as an elderly woman opened up. “Good morning.” He bowed courteously.
“Good morning, son. How may I help you?” she asked, staring at him and Oyinkan. Oyinkan immediately stepped forward with a smile. “Hello, daughter.”
David took a deep breath. “I would love to see Mrs. Coker” he said.
The Nun shook her head. “There’s no one here with that name.” she replied. David stared at Oyinkan.
Oyinkan crosschecked the address from her phone. “This is it. She has to be here.” She replied, peering above David’s shoulder to see the name of the Old Parent’s home. “Hearts alone.” She read and nodded confidently. “I am very sure.”
David cleared his throat. “Her first name is Elizabeth.”
The Nun stared at them. “What is your relationship with her?”
David stared at Oyinkan. His mother would never want to see him. She had cursed him the day she was brought to the home. “I am a cousin.” He replied.
“I am afraid, you can’t see her.” She replied.
Oyinkan blinked. “But it’s important we see her.”
The Nun smiled. “I am sorry. Have a good day.” She replied and returned into the home. David drummed on the door again. “Calm down, son!” the Nun shouted as she flung the door open.
“I want to see her!” he shouted.
Oyinkan held his shoulder. “Let’s go, David. We’ll have other days.”
He wiped a tear dropped from his left eye and walked back to the car. “I should have never let her go.”
“You were young, David. You were 15; you couldn’t have fought your Dad.”
He kicked the tyre furiously. “But I let him. She cried so hard, she looked into my eyes and begged me to say something.” He started. Oyinkan watched him as he spoke passionately. “I stood there and did nothing until she told me that she cursed the day she had me.” He continued in tears. Tears streamed down his cheek as he stared at the Old Parent’s home that his father had kept his mom. It had been 12 years since he last saw her.
Oyinkan hugged him. “I am sorry, love.” She kissed his forehead. “You can still make things right, talk to your Dad.”
“He won’t listen…you know him.”
She sighed. “David, you have been sorrowful since the day your mother left. Talk to your Dad.”
“Ouch!” Tola screamed as Ini cleaned her face. “Please be gentle.” She begged.
Ini hissed. “You should have told Tolu to hit you softly.” She replied as she massaged Tola’s face.
I dropped a bowl of water beside them and took my seat. “Tola, you need to leave that man.” I said, looking at her face.
“He is not a man.” Henry chipped in. I stared at him. “I am sorry.” He murmured, but loud enough for me to hear. He excused us and left for the backyard.
Tears streamed down Tola’s cheek. “I think I provoked him.” She started. Ini shook her head in dismay and forced the towel into his face. “AHAN!!!!!” Tola shouted, staring at Ini. “Take it easy.”
“Ini let me take over.” I suggested. The Ini I know would force the towel on Tola’s wounds again if she said anything to defend Tolu. Ini dropped the towel angrily. I mopped Tola’s left eye carefully.
Ini left for the kitchen and returned with a drink. “Tola, I love and respect you so much. You have been a fighter all your life, and even though Tolu was supportive in the past, it doesn’t give him any right over you” she started. She sipped her drink. “Tola, you need to stop now!”
I stared at Tola’s beautiful eyes. I took a deep breath and pushed the towel into her face. She managed a squeal in pain. “It’s okay.” I said, mopping a tear drop from her eyes. “You have to end this façade with Tolu. It’s turning into an assault.” I pleaded.
“How do you want me to live without him? I love Tolu.”
Ini slammed her glass on the table. “That’s it! You will live without him! Kimberly has never had a boyfriend except from her husband to be, and I have been single for 3 years.”
“You have never been single, Ini.” I replied, with a light smile. “You have sex partners.”
She scoffed. “I HAD sex partners. I am celibate now.” Tola laughed in spite of herself. “What is funny?” Ini smiled when she saw that Tola had a smile around her face. “We will always be there for you, someone better would definitely come your way.”
I nodded. “All good things will come…”
Tola smiled. “That sounds like poetry or a novel.” I nodded. “Thank you, I love you really much.”
Ini sighed. “Wole Briggs is also a very cool guy, and I think he loves you.” Tola hissed. “I thought as much.” She continued. “We promise to be here for you.”
“Group hug???” I asked. And with the typical mushy act among girls, we hugged lovingly. “Okay, when do we go to get pack whatever you have left from Tolu’s?” I asked.
Ini hissed. “More like when would kick Tolu and his slut out of Tola’s house.”
“I got him that place. I am not taking it back.” She said, standing up.
Ini eyeballed her coldly. “What about the car?”
“A gift too.” She replied.
I watched Tola and Ini continue their tirades. I watched them smile too, and that made me happy. I left for the backyard. “Hey…” I said. Henry turned around with a smile. “Hope you weren’t too bored?” I asked, joining him on the porch.
He shrugged. “Nah…How’s Tola?” he asked.
“She’ll be better. She needs a form of distraction.” I replied.
Henry smiled. “Are we still having barbeque? At least, the family is here, we are complete!”
“Family? We?” I asked, with a questioning look. Henry was slowly rubbing himself in on us. I didn’t mind, but what about the others?
Mr. Coker stretched out in his chair as he stared at David. “What do you want from me?” he asked for the umpteenth time. David took a deep breath and opened his mouth to speak but immediately paused. “What is it, son?” he asked. “I can’t help you if you don’t say a word and continue acting dumb.”
David blinked his eyes as memories played back to the day his mom was forced out of the house to the Old Parent’s home. It all happened in the study, the same room where they were seated and his dad had decided to have his wife put away. Hot tears rolled down his eyes. He shut his eyes and opened them, staring at his father with so much anger. “I want to see my mother!”
“Elizabeth, you mean?” he asked.
David scoffed. “I asked for my mother.”
His father sighed. “What has come over you, David Coker? You never asked about her all this time, why now? About 12 years now…”
“Dad, I need my mom.”
He smiled. “You needed her when you were a boy, now, you are a man…what you feel is want, not a need.”
David slammed the table. “Father! Stop punishing me! I want my mother, let me see her.”
Mr. Coker shrugged as he lit his Marijuana stick. “I have not stopped you from seeing her, have I?”
David panted in anger. “Where did you keep her?”
“David, it’s been 12 years, forget her.” He sighed as he puffed his smoke. “We have business to take care of.”
David scoffed. “You don’t get it Dad, do you? I won’t work again! I won’t do anything until I see my mother.”
Mr. Coker nodded in agreement. “That’s fine son, I have never been threatened, and I can’t feel threatened now.” He paused and supported himself with his cane. “Look here David Coker, as from this moment, you are suspended. You need a break from work.”
David sighed. “Dad, the last time you suspended me was when you got rid of Bola, do you want to kill my Mom too?”
“Never let pleasure get in the way of business, Kimberly Bankole is our goldmine and your business, if you lose that girl, it’s over! Mind that!”
David smiled. “Father, you are forgetting one thing here.” His father raised an eyebrow expecting him to continue the statement. “Dad, we are different. I have my money.” He paused. “You married my mom for her money.”
Mr. Coker scoffed. “David, I won’t dispute the fact that I loved Elizabeth for her money.” David swallowed. “But I have managed her finances well for you.”
“And you want Kimberly and I to suffer the same fate as you?”
He smiled. “David, sometimes, love never matters.”
Tola ‘killed’ the music as soon as her Range Rover pulled up in Asolo Real Estate Firm’s garage. She took a deep breath and applied a puff to her face. She dusted some speck from her tightly fitted black skirt and adjusted her blazers. She slipped into her Red Heels and pushed the door open. She had been listening to Daughtry’s ‘Call my name’, the slow rock music seemed to have all the answers to her questions. Tolu was in her head and his mark on her face. She adjusted her Ray Bam dark shades and walked into the office.
“Smashing hot, Ms. Matthews” Tunde called as he whistled.
She smiled at him. “Good morning, Tunde.” She said to a colleague.
“Good morning ma’am…never seen you in those, I swear you look good.” He said, pushing his office door open. “But you do know that you are one hour late.”
Tola smiled and walked ahead. Her office was on the next floor. Kemi smiled as she approached. “Good morning, Kemi.” She said.
“Good morning ma’am.” She said as she rose to her feet. “Mr. Asolo wants to see you as soon as you settle.”
Tola nodded and walked into her office. She came out almost immediately. “Does it have anything to do with my being late?” she asked.
Kemi shook her head in disagreement. “Mr. Asolo looked pretty excited. Maybe you have another promotion.” She said with a smile.
Tola managed a smile. “I will be right back.” She left for the last floor and pushed the board room door open. “Good morning, sir!” she said as she closed the door after her.
“Good morning, Ms. Matthews. Beautiful morning, isn’t it?” he asked, standing up. Mind you, Mondays are never beautiful.
Tola motioned to a seat and took off her shades before Mr. Asolo would pay attention to them. “Kemi said you wanted to see me.”
He nodded in agreement. “That’s true. Erm…there’s a revolutionary policy for staffing in the Firm now.” Tola sat upright as she listened. “It’s now a case of fresh employees, retrenchments for some older ones, and tutoring for new staffs.”
“Sir, how do I come in? Are you disappointed with my work?”
He smiled. “Tola Matthews, I wish you were my daughter. You are the driving force of Asolo Real Estate.” She managed a straight face as the praises poured in. “But now, I need more brilliant people like you in this firm to keep it at number 1.”
“I am always willing to help.” She replied.
He nodded and opened a file. “Ms. Matthews, I am taking in a new staff, and I would love you to be in charge of the tutoring.” Tola nodded. “That won’t be a big deal, right?”
“Not at all, I am glad to assist in any way I can.”
“In that case, work would start today.” He announced, closing the file. “I appreciate your efforts.” He said, and rose to his feet. He paused and stared at her eyes. “What happened to your eyes?”
She cleared her throat. “Just a tiny accident.”
“Doesn’t look so tiny.” He replied, approaching the door.
Tola joined him as he approached the door. “Sir, when would I meet the new staff?”
“Today, I copied the files to Kemi, as a matter of fact, all should be set right now.” He replied. Tola bowed courteously. “I’ll see you.” He said, and returned into his office.
Tola ran her fingers through her swollen face. The makeup had covered some of it, but the real scar was the fear in her eyes as Tolu landed two hefty blows on her as they argued. She had challenged him about the thin lady and he resorted to hitting her upon further probing. It hurt, not only the hit, but the fact that Tolu showed her no mercy.
A young man was in the waiting room. His hair was properly trimmed and he had his white shirt tucked in, she squinted her eyes as she looked at him from far off. Her vision wasn’t failing her., but she was seeing Wole Briggs, and this couldn’t be Wole Briggs.
She hastened her steps to see him properly and as she drew closer she only saw Wole. This Wole appeared different, he usually had his full hair and flashy suits on, but this man was on a low hair cut and a tucked in shirt and trouser. “Wole Briggs?”
“Yes ma’am. I am your new understudy.”