The Fowlers were affluent; the country knew that, the continent knew that and even Forbes knew and acknowledged that. Their net worth was in billions of dollars and they had thriving businesses in three continents of the world.
The patriarch of the Fowler clan Jide Fowler snr had dabbled into politics back in the day and he’d been a bit successful just like his elder brothers and uncles. They had all been successful so successful at it and that they were in fact referred to as the ‘Kennedys’ of Nigeria at a point.
Jide Fowler had schooled in the UK and returned with his African American beau after working for five years with a few companies in Manchester. They had gotten married amidst huge celebrations and fanfare later. Their lives had been followed more than the other Fowlers and they had been celebrated more, nobody knew why exactly but some attributed it to Adele’s effortless grace and beauty and her classy sense of fashion.
Jaiye Fowler ambled into the massive Fowler residence, the house was huge and beautifully painted white, the compound was constantly tended and monitored by the best horticulturists and gardeners in the country and the interior had witnessed the touch of the best interior decorators in the world. It was a sparsely but expensively furnished sitting room, the stairs that led into the bedroom had gold railings and the walls were made of marble.
Jaiye looked around the very quiet room nervously; there was nobody in there. Jo had told him on the phone that trouble was brewing in the house but this was a sharp contrast to what he had expected to see.
He inched closer to the dining area and saw his mother, her head bowed as she nursed a glass of wine. His heart sank because he knew she was worried about the recent happenings in the family but he was happy and very relieved that what Jo had reported had not turn out bad.
“Hey mom” he called but she didn’t look at him, she threw her head back, emptied the content of the glass in her mouth and stood up.
“I am retiring for the night, I have a very long day tomorrow and I need to be up early.” She said as if there wasn’t a situation in the house just minutes before. “I hope you are fine?” Her question was accompanied with a wry smile and Jaiye nodded in response. “Good. I love you” she said, kissed him on the forehead and headed towards the stairs.
“Mom, what happened tonight?” Jaiye asked his mother, knowing fully well that she wouldn’t divulge much. She was like that, Adele Fowler was the strongest woman he had ever met. She never acted like there was fire on the roof even when there was and she never showed it. She took care of her household with care and made sure nobody helped her out. Jaiye loved her for that, he hoped Jo would turn out that way and he hoped his wife and daughters would too.
“We have handled it and He has been taken to the hospital” Adele replied and continued to walk away.
“How are you mom?” Jaiye wanted to know. Even the strongest people had their breaking point.
She shrugged, “I’m fine Jaiyejeje.” She said to him and then quickly climbed the stairs as if worried her son might probe further.
Adele increased her pace and walked quickly but carefully on the tiled floor towards her room. She dashed in and bolted the door behind her, leaning on the door, she broke down in tears.
Nobody had ever seen her like this, maybe her husband, once. But that was about it, she never broke down in front of her family, she was the strong link. She never broke, never gave way to emotions until now.
Until one of her sons had done the worst; She let the tears flow freely.
Jo climbed down the stairs, diet coke in one hand and her phone in the other. She sipped from the drink in her hand as she typed away without problems with the other. She wasn’t aware of Jaiye who was leaning on the dining table and trying to make phone calls. Her braids were tied in a loose bun, she was wearing diamond studs on each ear and she was clad in boyfriend jeans and a low neck tank.
She reached the bottom of the stairs before she realised she wasn’t alone in the sitting room.
“Hey Jay. When did you come in?” She asked in her American accent. Jo was the only Fowler child who spent most of her childhood in the US. She had been living there with her maternal grandmother and would have continued with her University education if Adele had not insisted she was becoming someone the “Fowler family was not proud of” and insisted that she came home.
Joan was a swimsuit and lingerie model that had posed semi-nude for a couple of magazines in the US and was about doing her first mainstream magazine cover when her parents dragged her home. She had still not forgiven them for that.
Now, she sat on the seat her mother had vacated only minutes earlier, her freshly pedicured feet on the table.
“I came in not too long ago.”Jaiye responded, “where is he now?”
“I have no idea, but he has vacated the premises which is a good thing. Jeez, dude creeps me out totally” Jo responded a slight look of irritation on her face.
“He’s still family you know” Jaiye said gently.
“But he’s gone nuts, Jay. He needs to be kept in an asylum, y’all know that but I wonder why you won’t do what needs to be done” Joan replied and sipped more coke. “The other day, he threatened to push me in the pool. Dude’s just crazy”
“You were rude to him that day Jo”
“And so I needed to die?” She inquired, frowning at her elder brother.
“I’m not saying that, I’m just saying you provoked him that’s all.”
“Whatever Jay, you all should let’s agree to lock him up. Trust me this would get out soon and this family would feel worse than it is feeling now if we do nothing about him.” She said to her brother and Jaiye found himself agreeing with his kid sister.
Chief Koko didn’t like to be kept waiting at all, his impatience grew tremendously as he tapped his feet and shifted uncomfortably in his seat at the hotel reception. Kanu had a thing for keeping people waiting and Chief Koko vowed to warn him sternly not to ever try that with him again, he had other things to take care of and he didn’t have all day to sit at a hotel reception waiting for the personal assistant to the personal assistant of the governor.
If only he had a companion maybe he would have felt better, he swore under his breath as he remembered most of the young girls he slept with had left him because he was tight fisted. He wondered what their problem was, all they did was remove their clothes, he was the one who made all the money, what entitlement did they think they had to his millions? Even his kids weren’t taking that much from him so who were the mistresses to think they could demand so much from him?
He remembered the last girl he picked up from a party some two weeks back and slept with, she had been angry when he offered her five thousand naira, little did she know she was lucky by his standards. The others got nothing more than three thousand naira for a night and some even did it for free to impress him. He contemplated calling her now, Maybe she could see him now or later in the evening? At least something to take his mind of this useless Kanu boy’s disrespect. He couldn’t believe Kanu, who kept a man of his calibre waiting at a small hotel in the middle of Igando in Lagos?
He picked his phone to dial the girl’s number, as it rang he motioned to the barman to bring him drinks. His call had not been picked and he was trying a second time when he saw the girl bringing the drinks he had offered for.
She was fair and pretty, he guessed she would be in her early twenties, which worked perfectly for him. She was a buxom beauty and her hips swayed seductively as she walked towards him, he wondered if she was doing it purposely because she had a smile playing on her lips. Whatever the case was, he totally liked it.
As the girl he was calling picked from the other end, he found himself saying, “don’t worry” and then, he hung up.
When the tray containing the drinks he had ordered for was placed in front of him, he grabbed the girl’s hands and flashed her a smile.
“What is your name, angel?” He inquired, knowing she wasn’t going away. He was spending the next five thousand naira on this one.
“Mercy” she said and smiled generously at him.
Adele Fowler cut the ribbon at the entrance of the huge hall and was applauded by the large crowd standing behind her. She was at another of her numerous ceremonial events and she was standing near the deputy governor’s wife and other dignitaries.
Today, her smile was as fake as Courtney Stodden’s boobs and all she wanted desperately was to get in her car and go home. She had been feeling sick for a while and worried about her family. She didn’t need more ceremonies or charity events, she just needed to be alone.
A reporter shoved his microphone in her face and asked “Mrs Fowler, what do you have to say about Jaiye’s negligence of his paternal duties?”
Adele gaped at him in shock. She was utterly clueless as to what the reporter was talking about but one thing was certain, she intended to find out.
“Mom, I don’t know anything about this baby story. I have no idea who the girl is!” Jaiye explained to his mother, she was angry and had demanded to know what the whole world was buzzing about. “She was at that fundraising event two weeks ago and she abandoned her baby in an office bus. I heard the baby crying when I parked and brought her in, the media assumed things and that’s it. I haven’t had a girlfriend in two years and you know that!”
Adele regarded her son carefully and nodded. Jaiye was the most responsible and dependable of the Fowler men and she knew he was being truthful. However, he needed to kill the story before people even began to think it was true.
She said to him, “Call the family publicist, grant an interview and kill that story. Make sure it goes away. The last thing we need is another trouble”
Jaiye nodded, he would do just that. He punched in the publicist’s number and her cool voice came on.
“Hello Jaiye, I have been meaning to call you. Who is this Nene person?” She asked from the other end.
Jaiye sighed. Why did the most ridiculous things even become headlines? Didn’t people have more things to worry about?
“She is on radio right now granting an interview and talking about you. Who is she?”
Jaiye was shocked. On radio granting an interview about him?
Nene laughed as she answered all the questions the presenter directed her way, she knew it was a matter of time before she delved into the Jaiye issue and she was prepared for that.
“So, there has been news recently that you are the mother of a secret child which belongs to Jaiye Fowler. How true is this?”
“Very true” Nene replied, “I just want people to cut Jaiye some slack though, he is a wonderful and amazing dad. He just likes to keep his personal life private” she said smiling. She had rehearsed this since the presenter called her for the show two days before and now it sounded very much like the truth. It was the only way she could get Jaiye’s attention and make him come close again, the only way she could get close and get more facts. The only way she could have her show back.
“For how long have you both been dating?” The presenter probed further.
“Three years now. And he is the most amazing lover in the world” Nene responded, a bright smile on her face. She was lying but she vaguely wondered what type of lover Jaiye was.
“Is there any reason he doesn’t talk about you or take you out in public?”
“Like I said earlier, he likes to keep his personal life private”
Jaiye seethed as he listened to the show, Joan frowned and looked from the family publicist to her brother.
“Who is this chic?” Jo quizzed.
The publicist looked at Jaiye, he was clearly angry but as everyone knew him to be, he kept it under control. The other Fowler brothers would have had Nene locked up by now; only Jaiye would be this calm about such a situation. And she loved him because of that, she had always loved him. He was her favourite Fowler and she hoped to make him more than a client soon.
“Jaiye, I can have this taken care of. We would…”
He raised his hand to interject, “no Oluchi, let me handle this”
He grabbed his car keys and dashed out of the Fowler family house.
Jaiye was angry and he wanted to shake Nene so hard her teeth would fall. What was she thinking?
He had just warned her to steer clear some days ago and then she went to a radio station to grant an interview?
Was that her idea of understanding him when he said back off? The woman was really getting on his nerves. If she needed a man to take care of her child why didn’t she just look for another means?
Nene knew the interview would grab his attention but she didn’t know it would make him pick her up at the radio station.
He sped towards where she didn’t know exactly but she thought it’d be her house as it was when he picked her days before.
She was however shocked when he pulled up in an entirely different place.
Jaiye got down from the car and gently said, “follow me”.
Nene walked into the bungalow with him. It was a pretty little house in a not too big compound; there was a fountain and a well-tended garden outside.
Jaiye had brought her to his house, he was mad and he didn’t want to talk to her in his car like the last time.
He needed to know what the hell she was doing and he wasn’t letting her go till she was ready to stop her nonsense.
He bolted the door as they walked in and faced her, livid he said, “you are going to call the presenter you just spoke to and tell her you are a pretty little liar.”
Nene was shocked.
Then he handed her his phone, “here”.
“B…bu…but I can’t do that” she stuttered, he really didn’t mean it did her? She wondered and searched his face. The realization hit her hard in the face, he meant it.
Silence ensued in the room for a few seconds and Jaiye just wanted to hit something really hard to ease the anger and the tension that was overwhelming him. Didn’t this woman know he already had enough on his plate? Didn’t she know she really was making his troubles pile up? His phone rang and he checked the caller ID, he frowned as he realised it was his ex, Tara. She hadn’t called him in ages and he was wondering why she was doing so at the moment.
He picked up to find out, “Tara hi” he said as he let out a sigh.
“You were cheating on me? I just knew it!” She yelled from the other end of the line, what was she talking about? Jaiye found himself wondering. Cheat on her? How? She continued, “you were sleeping with that little tramp who had your baby three years ago while we were together!”
And it made sense to him; she must have listened to the interview that he listened to earlier.
“Tara listen, that isn’t true” he said gently, he didn’t need to explain to her because they hadn’t been official for two years now but he didn’t want her blaming him for the relationship that failed, didn’t want her to add more blame to his already full list of blames.
“Of course, I should have known you would lie about it. And I thought you were different, you are just like the rest of them!”
Jaiye sighed and glanced at Nene, she squirmed in her seat under his gaze. He scoffed.
Chief Koko had never had a woman do the things Mercy did to him, not his wife and not his other women. She simply took her time with pleasuring him and also took charge, he liked her and he was going to keep her. The others could come and go but this one would stay. He pulled out a wad of naira notes and handed it over to her as she combed out her hair. But she didn’t take it; instead, she smiled seductively, sashayed closer and kissed him on the forehead.
“I’m giving you free offer Chief” she began and winked, “and the offer is for the rest of the month. I want the others to go and I want to be the only one. So I will show you what they cannot do so that you will keep me”
Chief Koko liked this one very much, she was bold, she was different and she was good. Where had she been all this while? Anyway, she was there now and what mattered was that he would enjoy every bit of her.
“Let me show you again” she said and he smiled as she gently placed kisses on his forehead, his nose and his lips.
Mercy knew what she wanted and it didn’t include being someone’s one night stand, she wanted to be a part of his life and the others she would get and have them transform her into the type of woman she had been dying to be since she was young.
Her phone rang again and she cursed inwardly at who was disturbing her, she picked it and found out it was her husband again; she ended the call and switched off the phone.
“Are you ready?” She asked Chief Koko as she got rid of her undies.
Umoru frowned at the phone as he tried again to reach his wife; her phone was switched off now. Where was she and where had she taken his daughter to? He had been worried sick for weeks and had been scared to go and report to her troublesome brothers for fear of being misinterpreted, but now he was just plain angry.
He suspected that she ran away from him; he didn’t know why but she hadn’t been kind towards him in the days that preceded her disappearance. Besides, she had picked once, by mistake and then quickly ended it but not before he heard someone calling her name. He had however resolved to tell her family, he couldn’t keep it to himself forever, and they were bound to find out at some point anyway. He braced himself for the trip to her family house.
“I’m very sorry” Nene muttered.
Jaiye ignored her, marched to the fridge in the kitchen and pulled out a bottle of cold water. After he had drank it, he felt a bit more relaxed and he headed back to the sitting room.
He sat opposite Nene and regarded her carefully, she was very pretty, prettier than he had seemed to notice the first and second time they met. But what had turned her into this shameless individual she was? He watched her shift uncomfortably under his gaze but he didn’t look away, he enjoyed staring at her, enjoyed making her feel that way.
“What do you want?” He asked.
Nene couldn’t tell him the truth, he would runaway and have her locked up and it would ruin her life so she lied, “I need a little help, my husband died shortly after our baby was born and I have been helpless. I just…I’m sorry…I…”
Jaiye felt a surge of sympathy for her despite himself, nobody should be so desperate for help they could get from anybody who had the means. He resolved to help her.
“Okay, I’m going to help you but you would swear to go away after I do, alright?”
She nodded quickly.
“Come to my office by 12pm tomorrow afternoon and ask for me.” He added and Nene got on her knees thanking him.
“Nene” he called, “you would be signing an undertaken never to ruin my reputation again, if you try anything funny after now I would have my people take care of this and trust me they aren’t in the least bit nice”
Nene smiled at him. “Thank you” she muttered.
The Francis brothers glared at their brother-in-law, they couldn’t believe the nerve he had to report to them that their little sister was missing.
Umoru was uncomfortable, he knew what was coming next wasn’t going to be good for him but he stood his ground and hoped they would be realistic.
Mercy’s mother emerged from the room; she bore on her face a permanent scowl that made her pretty face look less appealing. Mercy and Nene got their good looks from her but that was basically all they got from her, she was mean like her sons and she had a temper that could boil water for eba when she got into a bad mood. And she was in a very bad mood at the moment.
“Wetin una still dey follow am talk?”She spat, facing her sons and then turned to eye Umoru with contempt. “Biko call police!” She yelled, then faced one of her sons “Godwin, wey dat your police friend wey no dey take nonsense?”
Godwin replied with the same level of hostility in his mother’s voice “im go dey duty tonight”
“Oya carry dis yeye man go dere now make dem tish am lesson!”
She watched satisfactorily as her sons hurled Umoru out of the house.
Umoru expected anything from his brothers in law but he never knew they could be so brutal, they shoved him into the police station and watched as Godwin’s police friend descended slaps on his face, then they held his hands firmly so that he wouldn’t fight back.
He couldn’t believe he was going through all of that for Mercy, a woman he knew had run away from him on purpose.
A woman whom he was going to find even if he had to shed his last drop of blood. A woman he certainly won’t take it kindly with when he eventually found her.
Lyrics for the week—-> “What you expect me to do if you’re playing me for a fool? I will loose my cool and reach for my firearm.”-Rihanna, Man Down.