Bolu Coker watched as his driver and aide spoke to the gateman of Victoria’s home from a distance. He panted nervously and swallowed some pills which weren’t often kept far away from him these days. He took a deep breath as his driver returned. “And what did he say?”
“He took the money and said he would be back in thirty minutes with some information.” He replied.
Bolu hissed. “And you trusted him?”
“Sir, he is going inside to nose around, I presume.”
He nodded. “He had better bring something concrete back, else, he won’t live to see the light of the day!.”
David took my hand and took me to a seat opposite his mom’s room. “Kim, my mom won’t forgive me.”
“Don’t worry, she will come around eventually. A mother always forgives.”
He smiled. “I love the way you console me.”
“Console? Baby, I am not consoling you.” I replied and forced his head on my shoulder. “In any case, I will be a mother to you.”
He laughed. “Kim…”
“Of course, I mean…what choice do I have?”
He nodded. “Yeah…what choice do you have?” he asked as he stared at me. I always felt chills in my heart whenever he did that. He took a deep breath and stared at the door.
“She is in that room and I am too scared of going close to her because I feel she won’t accept me.” he said standing up. “I really hate myself.”
I took a deep breath and walked up to him. “She will accept you.”
“I don’t think so. I hurt her too much and now, it just seems like she has closed her heart to me.”
I held his hand. “We will get through this together and no matter what happens, I will always be here for you, David.”
“Even if she doesn’t want me?”
I nodded. “You are the man I love, and I know you are a good man.”
He took a deep breath and pulled me close for a hug. “I love you, Kim.” He whispered.
I closed my eyes as I wrapped my hand around him. I felt safe in his embrace and I hoped he felt safe in mine. “I love you too, David.”
“What is this?”
David and I turned to see Elizabeth and my mom. “Mom…”, David stammered.
“Don’t ever call me that! What are you doing with my daughter?” she asked, staring at me.
I stepped forward. “Hi…” I walked up to her and hugged her. “I am glad to see you are well.”
She broke the hug quickly and asked. “Why are you with that man?”
“That’s your son. David is your son.”
She scoffed. “I don’t know him, how do you know him?” I took a deep breath. She scoffed and shook her head incredulously. “Is he the one?”
I nodded and I walked back to David. I held his hand. “I love David.”
“This is just great!” she replied and walked away dragging her suitcase with her.
Mom stared at us. “Sorry guys, I have to go.” She said with a faint smile and started after Elizabeth. “Liz! Elizabeth!!!” she shouted as she hurried after her.
Bolu clenched his fists nervously as he waited for his driver who had gone to meet with the security man. He stared hard as he watched the driver collect a piece of paper. It didn’t take too long and soon afterwards, the driver approached him. “Good news?”
“Yes sir.” He replied, handing him the paper. “That’s the hospital where she is.”
He nodded. “Take me there immediately.”
“Sir, what about Femi?”
He hissed. “Just get in and take me to the hospital.” The driver nodded and headed for the driver’s seat. “Ode!” He cursed in Yoruba staring at the piece of paper.
David took a deep breath and smiled faintly as we walked into the night. “She’ll never forgive me.”
“She will. David, don’t lose hope.”
He yawned tiredly. “Kim, I hate myself so much for being my father’s son, I should have taken the right decision then, at least, I should have said something, I just sat there and watched.”
I held on to him as we walked. “David, don’t beat yourself.”
“I wish I could travel back in time, you know…go back to that day, just that day and fight for my mother.” He said as he took a deep breath. “Kim, I haven’t had a single night of peaceful sleep since then. I live in fear and shame of my rebellious act.”
“David stop this!” I ordered, in a bid to try to shake him up. “You are drowning in yourself.”
He scoffed and he held me firmly. “What can I do, Kimberly? I just want her to forgive me.”
“Give it time.”
He shrugged. “I failed my mom, she would never want me near her again. It’s over.”
“Are you giving up?” I asked. He turned his face away. I pushed him and yelled. “You can’t give up, David!” He shrugged and started to walk away slowly. I followed him quickly. “Is this it? You want to quit? You want to throw it all away? David, this is not you!”
“Kim, I am wasting my time.”
I pulled him back. “This is not a waste of time; you have to fight for it. You must earn it.”
He stamped his foot lightly. “You heard her.”
“She is hurt, but you will not give up.” I replied. “You have no right to give up. You must fix this!”
He rubbed his forehead. “It’s hard for me.” he said, and wiped off a tear drop. “It’s too hard.”
I took his hand. “I will be here with you, we will get through this together.” I said. He took a deep breath. “You won’t carry this burden alone. We’ll talk to God.”
I nodded. “We should have done this a long time ago.”
He scoffed. “Kim, even God knows that I deserve this, let’s leave him out of it.”
“We can’t, David. He has always been involved.”
Bolu walked up to the reception. “Good evening ladies.”
“Good evening sir.” They chorused.
One of them smiled. “Who are you and how may we be of assistance?”
“My name is Bolu Coker and I am here to see a patient. She is Elizabeth Coker.”
She nodded and checked through her system. “I am afraid we don’t have any patient by that name.”
He blinked. “Really? Please check again.”
She nodded and ran a search through the laptop again for reassurance sake. “There is no Elizabeth Coker here.”
He took a deep breath as he stared at his driver. The driver whispered into his ears. He nodded and faced the receptionists. “She was brought in here from Victoria’s Homes.”
The second receptionist’s eyes lit up. “Elizabeth Sunflower?”
“Exactly! Elizabeth Sunflower! Why didn’t I think of that before?” He replied laughing. “Thanks a lot, dear. Please can I see her?”
She shook her head slowly. “I am sorry, sir. She checked out about an hour ago.”
He took a deep breath as he rubbed his forehead. “Back to the home?”
The second receptionist was about to talk when the first lady who earlier attended to him nudged her. “I am sorry sir, we are not allowed to disclose such information.”
“Please my ladies, it is very important I see her.” He said reaching for his wallet.
She shook her head. “Keep the wallet. We can’t give you any more information.” She replied sharply.
“OH…that’s really a shame.” He replied and took a deep breath. “Thanks all the same, I appreciate your help.” He replied and beckoned to his driver as they walked out.
The first receptionist jabbed her partner. “Nike, you need to keep your mouth in check sometimes.”
“Funto, Ahan! Why? The gentleman only needed our help, and he was even going to pay us, but in your self-righteousness, you ruined it.” She replied as she hissed. “We won’t be able to download Burden of Proof tonight.” She grumbled.
Funto rolled her eyes. “Burden of Proof by Tunde Leye is free; I don’t know who wrote the one that you have to pay for.”
Nike hissed as she dragged her leg. “I have to go and use the ladies.”
Funto laughed. “Remember Gehazi in the bible? He went after Namaan to collect gifts and he became a leper, if I was you, I won’t run after that man to disclose information and collect money.”
Nike mumbled something and sat back down.
I yawned as I flipped through the next article on my table. Mr. Adeoye had sent me a truckload of articles for certification. The door opened slightly and Ben poked his head in with a smile, I smiled back. He took a seat. “You are really busy these days.”
I nodded as I raised a paper before him. “They keep piling up. I had to send some to the other departments.”
He smiled. “You can’t do this alone.” He took a deep breath. “I am glad you are here.”
“Thanks. How have you been?”
He shrugged. “I have been doing okay. How’s David?”
I took a deep breath. “David is fine.”
“Kim, I know you love David and I am gonna respect that.”
I smiled. “Thank you.” I replied.
“I think I like someone now.”
I laughed. “Ben, you are a case.”
He nodded with a smile. “I am serious, she has been around for a long time, and I guess I just didn’t see this coming.” He said staring at me. “Who can see anything with you in their head?” he asked, smiling. Of course I knew there was no answer to that.
I blushed slightly. “I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment.”
“Well, it’s a sad truth for me.” he replied and cleared his throat. “The thing is, I don’t know what I can provide for her.”
I smiled. “Ben, you are too concerned about not having enough. Who cares about the money?”
“…says the woman with a lot of money” he replied sarcastically.
I chuckled. “Whatever, Ben!”
“I mean, you were practically born with a silver spoon! You are Professor Bankole’s daughter; you’ve had the best education, best summers, best vacations. Me? I haven’t got anything. Can you blame me?”
I took a deep breath. “Ben, it doesn’t matter what kind of life we have had.” I started. “What matters is the future, Ben, you will have to build a life with her, and yes, I know you are talking about Oyinkan.” He smiled. “She might be wealthy, beautiful and all, but a woman is always a woman.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Are you saying that Oyinkan might like me? You didn’t want me, why would she?”
“Ben, you are a very good guy, but, for me, there could only be David. And Oyinkan is obviously different from me, we never can tell, if it isn’t her, it would be someone else.”
He nodded. “If I lose Oyinkan, I’ll simply accept that I am cursed.”
I laughed as he picked up an article from my table.
Tunji closed the door gently as a lady walked into his office. “Thanks for seeing me.”
She stared nervously. “Sir, how may I help you?”
He took a deep breath. “Would you like to have some coffee?”
“No sir, I just want to return to the house soon before Oga returns.”
He poured himself a cup of coffee. “Mary…that’s your name, right?” she nodded. He smiled faintly as he continued. “I need you to get me something from your Oga.”
She stared at him. “Steal?”
“Well, I wouldn’t call it that because it is a document that originally belongs to me. It’s in his safe.”
She paused. “Safe? How do I access the safe?”
“I have the combination, but you know I can’t go into his house. You must have been briefed on this.” He replied. “I need that document by tomorrow, it is very important.” He added as he handed her a paper. “I chose you because I know that you are a very smart girl and you won’t disappoint me.”
She nodded. “So, what about the promises?”
He smiled. “Immediately I have the document, my men would take you to a hotel till they have your documents ready and you would leave for Canada with your mother, we would prepare everything for you.”
She smiled. “Thank you sir.”
“You can’t be caught, remember that.” He warned
She nodded and kept the paper in her bag. “Okay sir.”
Marcus sipped his drink carefully. “Are you sure about this, Ini?”
She nodded with a smile. “I have never been so sure of anything in my entire life.”
“Do you have the slightest idea what this is going to do to Shola’s career?”
She giggled. “It is going to touch her more than when we tinkered with her skin.”
He smiled. “In a good way though…” he replied as he watched Shola from a distance. “She won’t know what hit her.” He smiled. “I can see she’s back to having her photo sessions.”
She applied some cream on her hands. Marcus stared at her as she did this. “What?!” she asked with a smile.
“Do you think it’s funny?”
She smirked. “I don’t understand you.”
“Haven’t you learnt to share?”
She chuckled. “I am the model. I am the one who needs to keep my skin fresh.”
He nodded. “I see…well, you should also be the one to pick up the baby after the shoot.”
She shrugged. “No biggie.” She replied and then grinned with an eyebrow raised.
“What? Wipe that silly grin off your face.”
She smiled. “You will clean her poop.”
“Ini, I am the man!”
She giggled. “And I am the model, the woman. I need my skin in tip top shape, pending the time I decide to quit of course.”
“Quit? You are gonna quit modeling?”
She nodded. “Yes, and pretty soon too. Ini is still a baby, she would need all the attention I can provide her.”
She scoffed. “Would you rather we have a successful career and raise a bad girl?”
He took a deep breath and bowed his head. “Ini, I am robbing you of your life.”
She smiled. “As long as it is for you, I would go penniless.”
He bent over and whispered into her ears. “Is this really you?”
She smacked his head as they laughed. Her laughter stopped as she stared ahead. She scoffed lightly “Shola Jones approaches.”
Shola arrived and smiled. “Hello people. Where’s Ini?” she asked. She waved at Ini. “Not you, I mean the beautiful Ini.”
“She is at the daycare.”
Shola nodded. “I will go and say hi.”
Ini held her hand back. “What’s all this niceness for?”
“Ini Oblong…” she stressed.
Ini scoffed. “It’s Obong!”
“I think the baby is cute and I like her, is that too much?”
Marcus nodded. “It is too much.”
Shola hissed. “I don’t care what you guys think of me, but I think babies are absolutely adorable.”
“Go and have yourself one with sonny boy Michael.”
She blew Marcus a kiss. “Very soon.”
Ini drummed on the table. “Okay Okay…I have news for you, Shola.”
“Oh…what news could that be?”
Ini took a deep breath. “How would you feel about sharing my new contract with me?”
“EHN?!” Shola replied with her eyes popped out in amazement.
Ini nodded. “I was told to work with any model of my choice, and I chose you.”
“ME?!” Shola replied and fell off her chair.
Wole pulled up in front of a house. “Do you like this?”
Tola took off her Gucci Sunshades. “No”
“Tola, you have not liked any house so far today. The last house was perfect!”
She nodded. “The last one is as big as your current house, as young couples, do we need that size?”
He sighed. “Tola there’s nothing wrong with the current size of my house, we are gonna have kids, remember?”
“Yes, but not as many as a football team line up.”
He nodded. “So, we get a smaller house, say a duplex?”
She nodded. “A duplex is fair enough.” She replied, re-adjusting her sunshades. Tola’s phone buzzed. “Now who’s disturbing our house hunt?” she thought out loud as she ransacked her bag for her phone.
“I really think we should look at this house. At least, just check it out.”
She groaned. “No…No….No!” she fetched her phone, but it was already a missed call. “Now you made me miss my call.” She said, checking the number. “I don’t have this number. 08135…” she mumbled as the phone rang a second time.
Wole stared at her as she happened to be turning her face to the other side to listen to her caller. He became worried.
“Of course, I’ll be there right away.” She replied, as she dropped the call.
He raised an eyebrow expecting her to brief him.
“Uh? The call? Err…it’s from the hospital. Tolu wants to see me.”
Wole nodded rhythmically. “I see…err, do you want a ride?”
She scoffed. “Before nko? We are going together durr!”
He smiled confidently as he started the ignition and drove off.
David hissed lightly as he opened the door. “What do you want, Dad?”
“You can hiss all you want, I am still your father.” A nervous looking Bolu Coker replied as he pushed David aside and walked in. “I can see you have a very big taste. Beautiful house.” He said as he helped himself to a seat. “I want some water.” He replied, stroking his hair.
David dragged his feet and left for the kitchen. He returned with a glass of water and handed it to him. “What do you want?”
Bolu downed his glass and handed the glass to David who in turn placed it on the table. “Where is Elizabeth?”
“My mother, you mean???”
He hissed. “Whatever you call her! Where is she?” he barked.
“What right do you have to come here and ask me questions?”
He scoffed. “I am your father! I made you; you are this rich man because of me!”
“Dad, give me a break! I admit you put efforts in my life, but I worked hard ….and legit too.”
He nodded as he rubbed his palm against his trouser. “Where is your mother? I want to see her now!”
He slammed the edge of the sofa. “Stop this rubbish, David. Elizabeth is my wife!”
“Really?” David laughed scornfully. “You are sounding very pathetic, Dad. I want you to leave my house now.”
He scoffed. “You can’t stop me from seeing my wife, kid. She is still my wife!” he argued.
David shook his head and walked up to the door. He opened the door and waited “Please leave.”
Bolu laughed wickedly and approached David. “You little brat!”
“The boy has grown, Dad”
He nodded. “In that case, the man should be ready to take the heat.” He said and grabbed David’s neck.
David eyeballed him and plucked his hand off. “What are you trying to do?”
“I’ll get you, you bastard.” Bolu stuttered as he walked out wobbly.
David stared at his father’ bad leg and took a deep breath. “May God forgive your soul.” He said silently.
Tola folded her arms as she stared at Tolu who was drinking some water. She rolled her eyes as he coughed and she cast a knowing stare at Wole which caused him to giggle. “I am going to be better.” Tolu said slowly.
“Oh…yeah” she replied. She took a deep breath. “Why did you send for me?”
He took a deep breath. “The doctor said I would be discharged tomorrow, but I’ll be leaving town.”
She nodded. “Ah…that’s good. Lagos won’t miss you.” she smiled.
He smiled. “I will miss you, Tola. I wish I was a better man.” he stared in Wole’s direction and smiled at Tola. “He is a great man. I wish you guys the best.”
“Thank you.” she replied as she smiled and tapped his bed lightly with her fingers hoping he would see the engagement ring.
He smiled as soon as he noticed it. “Congratulations guys!”
She stared at him. “Oh why?”
“Your engagement. It’s a beautiful ring.”
Wole smiled faintly. “Thank you.” he said and placed his hand on Tola’s shoulder with a light squeeze indicating that it was time to leave. “We would be on our way now. Do take care, Tolu.” He said and helped Tola up gently.
“Bye, Tolu.” She grinned. “So long!” she said and walked out after Wole.
Wole folded his palm and shook his head as they left the room. “Tola…”
She smiled. “What?”
“You are something else, you really came here to humour yourself, didn’t you?”
She smiled. “Didn’t you enjoy it?” she asked giggling as she walked out.
I smiled as I pressed the doorbell to Mom’s. I couldn’t figure out the genuine reason for my joy. It couldn’t be Mom’s new house despite its amazing architectural designs and all. To be honest, I had been shocked when Mom had sent me a text message which contained her address. Not because I had expected her to live in space but the speed at which she had bought herself a beautiful place amazed me. What can’t you do with money?
“Hello beautiful.” Mark said as he opened the door with a smile.
I smiled back. “Hi.” I said as I walked into the house. “Lovely place.”
He nodded. “You have to admit your mom has taste.”
I smiled faintly. I honestly had no idea she had ‘taste’ when she was with my father. I followed Mark into the house and he ushered me into the living room as though I was some guest. I laughed as he bowed courteously.
“The lady of the house will be with you shortly.” He said and ran up the stairs.
I waited for the lady of the house. While I waited I took the opportunity to re-watch Tola’s proposal, I had actually downloaded it. I prayed softly in my heart.
I heard footsteps. As I turned to stare at the stairs, my lips parted with a smile. Elizabeth’s weave dropped carelessly around her neck. She spotted a long black gown and a silver neck chain. Oh my God! She is beautiful! I thought I was looking at some Sarah Jessica Parker or Sandra Bullock. This woman was beautiful! What can’t you do with money?
I smiled as she finally stood before me. I then went on my knees and greeted. “Good evening ma.”
She looked stunned as she picked me up. “Why did you do that?” she asked.
I smiled and took a deep breath. “Pardon me for what I am about to do.” I said and knelt down. “This time, don’t help me.” I replied.
She took a deep breath and touched my head. “What is it?”
“I want you to forgive me.”
She took her seat gently. “I don’t understand.”
“I have hurt you so much, I have made you sad and I have disappointed you, but I want you to forgive me.”
She looked worried as she tried to wipe my eyes. “What is going on?”
“David is my life. I want you to forgive us. I won’t be able to live without David.”
She rubbed her forehead. “Kimberly, I won’t stop you from being with the man of your choice.”
“Then you forgive him?”
She shook her head in disagreement. “I am sorry.”
Tunji opened the door hurriedly as soon as he saw Mary approach the SUV. “Do you have it?” he asked.
She nodded and handed him the file. “That’s it, sir.”
He glanced through it and smiled. “Thank you so much. This is good!” he said.
She smiled as she stared around just to be sure she wasn’t followed.
“You see that Camry over there?” he asked.
She stared and saw a black Camry with a soldier standing in front of it. She nodded.
“I want you to go there and he will take you to meet your mother, we have picked her up already.”
Mary smiled and ran off to the Camry in excitement.
Tunji Bankole watched until the Camry was no longer in view and fetched the keg of Petrol from his car and walked into the nearby bush. He placed the document on the grass and poured the petrol all over it. “I am sorry, Kimberly. For ever making your life miserable, your father is sorry.” He said and threw the lit stick on the document.
He walked back into his car and watched until there was nothing but ashes left of it.
Elizabeth looked through the window unseeingly as she wiped her tears. “I lost David. He was all I lived for. Do you know how I felt when I realized that I had given birth to a replica of Bolu?”
“What kept you alive, Elizabeth? Why didn’t you just give up and die at the home? Why did you die out of bitterness and sadness?” I yelled.
She stared at me. “I wanted to see my son!”
“Fine!” I yelled back. “That son is crying for his mother. David is still a boy at heart; he has never stopped loving you. It’s hard when Bolu influences you.”
She nodded. “I know, but I trained David well. He did even remember any of those values. Why?”
I took a deep breath. “I know it’s hard, but David was wrong then. He knows it, he has always known it. I know David, I have seen him cry and it’s only been because of you. He roamed Victoria’s home crying out for you and singing Dido’s Life for Rent, exactly the same song I heard you sing. If David had forgotten you, would he even remember?” I asked softly. She took a deep breath and turned her face away. I held her hand. “David longs for his mother, he was a boy who had to endure been tortured by his father, with no mother to defend him. He hurt his mother and he’s paid for it all through his life, even though he was only a boy.” I said.
She wriggled gently from my grip and started to walk away as she wiped her eyes. I followed her quickly, like a shadow. “Do you know what it’s like to look at the man you love when he is asleep and see worry lined on his forehead? I don’t want to marry ‘that David’.” I said and held her. She turned her back towards me and sobbed gently. “Please mother.” I called as I got down on my knees again. “Forgive your son. A mother’s heart always forgives.”
She stared at me and kissed my forehead. “Take me to my son.” She said.