I wished I could move my leg and go and meet Omololu in the bathroom. He had been in the bathroom for almost an hour and he won’t come out. Did he regret that he made love to me? Or didn’t I meet his desires and he hated me for it? I cursed myself for driving into the tree in an attempt to end my life. If only I could be with Omololu and tell him that I was sorry and I could hold him and tell him how much I wished that ‘night’ had not happened. I couldn’t take back that night, there was nothing I could say, no words could take back bruising my man’s ego. He had to forgive me and that I really did doubt if he could.
I let my tears flow freely as the sadness consumed my heart. The shower was now running. He must be washing off the fact that he had anything to do with me. Even though he couldn’t change it, he must despise me really much. I cursed my luck. My own husband (well, soon to be ‘ex’) did regret being with me. Who would even want to sleep with a paralyzed woman?
I sat by the tub as the shower ran. I had turned it on so that Ijeoma would think I was in the shower. I didn’t know how to face her. I wanted her more and more but I was disappointed in myself for wanting her. I had Olivia. If only that night had never happened, I would be with Ijeoma right now. I washed my face and prepared to go back to the room. I would sleep on the couch and pretend as if nothing had happened between us. I hesitated as I approached the door and I returned to the bathroom. Maybe sleeping here would be better. I knew Ijeoma couldn’t come to look for me, she would just sleep off and I would leave when she was asleep.
Inasmuch as I want to hate her, it’s too hard. A look at her eyes and I just melt. Behind the façade of her new tough look, I still see the Ijeoma that was weak, fragile and needed me for everything. Poverty made her tougher. We were broke and there was nothing for us, Mom had to juggle two jobs to help us with Ijeoma’s pregnancy and we finally had Tiwa. Ijeoma almost lost her life due to complications and we couldn’t afford the surgery. We were told that she had a fifty-fifty chance of survival if she tried to have the baby by pushing because of her frail system, but she still went ahead and had Tiwa.
Ijeoma changed after that experience, she had the academic excellence on her side so she pushed in for every job and when the offer finally came from Lagos, I had to let her go. I had no choice. She was willing to go.
I drew myself up from the floor and pushed the door open slightly to see if she was still awake, but she looked asleep, so I crept back into the room. I threw myself on the couch and tried to sleep but I couldn’t. I kept staring at her so I decided to go back to the bed.
“Should we talk about it?”
I gasped as I heard Ijeoma’s voice. I turned as I stared at her. “I thought you would be asleep.” I said.
“Should we talk about it? She asked.
I sat up. “Ijeoma, you should go to bed.”
“Omololu, can we work it out?”
I took a deep breath. “I need to sleep. You should too.” I replied, turning away from her.
“Are you that ashamed of me? Are you disappointed that you slept with a crippled woman? Are you sad about it? Is that why you went to rinse off?”
I gasped as she went on and on. “Ijeoma stop!” I shouted. She was silent. I stared at her and took a deep breath. “I am not ashamed of anything except for the fact that I slept with you when I have Olivia because I wanted to. Ijeoma, I want you. I still love you and that makes me sad.” I replied and tried to leave but she held my hand. “What?” I asked as I turned sharply at her. Her eyes were wet.
“Forgive me, Omololu. Please.”
I swallowed hard. “It’s too hard, Ijeoma. It’s too hard for me.” I replied and left the room.
I drove my chair round the garden in a circle. I had to find a way of pacing around, if I couldn’t do it on my feet, I would do it one way or the other. I had nothing left to fight for anymore. Omololu was very clear with me last night; he did not want anything to do with me anymore.
I fiddled with my phone for a while and then dialed Austin. “Hey Austin, I need your help. Please come to the house.” I said into the voicemail.
Omololu approached me and stretched out a glass of juice to me. “Hey.” He said as he pulled a chair.
I ignored the glass and continued driving in a circle. “I don’t need you trying to pacify me, everything was clear last night.” I replied.
“Drink it.” He ordered.
I hissed and drove my wheelchair on. He walked quickly after me. “Ijeoma, stop doing this.”
I halted. “Go back to Olivia. I’ll be fine.”
“I am not leaving here until you are better.”
I rolled my eyes. “That will take a while, Omololu.”
He nodded. “I have called your therapist; you have a session for noon. You’ll be back on your feet in no time, I promise you.” he said and started to walk away.
I drove after him. “Can we just talk about it?”
I crossed him. “Are we going to keep running away from it? I messed up and I know it.”
“Messed?” He screamed. “That’s the least of what you did, Ijeoma. Don’t go mild on it.” He shouted. “I don’t want to talk about it.” He replied.
“I want to. I want to talk, Omololu. Couples talk.”
He scoffed. “We may not be that anymore.”
I felt heat flush across my face as he said those words. “How long would you keep punishing me?”
“You think this is a punishment? You killed me. We had something special. You threw it all away.”
I nodded. “I know and I am sorry, Omololu. Look at me, I just want you back.”
“Olivia doesn’t deserve this.”
I swallowed. “Do you love her?”
How did she expect me to answer that question? Love? My heart didn’t beat for Olivia, it never had. I loved being around her because she was able to distract me, but Love? Passion?
“Do you stop loving someone overnight?” I asked. She looked at me then buried her head in her hand. I bent beside her. “I didn’t stop loving you for one minute. I wish I could. It’s been a torture for me.”
“Then why did you sleep with her?” she asked in tears.
I scoffed. “You…you don’t understand, do you?”
“How am I supposed to understand you sleeping with another woman in our matrimonial home? I walked in on you with her.”
I hissed. “You walked in after how many years, Ijeoma? Fifteen years! What do you know about a matrimonial home?” I shouted. She started to drive away. I hurried after her. “Running away so soon? What? Why don’t we talk about it now? Let’s talk about how you destroyed our marriage.”
“Omololu, I am tired. I want to go to bed.”
I held her face. “Now you are tired? I am not tired. I want to talk about it. I want to talk about everything. Let’s start talking.” She started to drive off and I hurried after her. “I want to talk.” I shouted.
She didn’t stop, she drove faster and returned into the house.
I stopped driving as soon as I got to my bar. I was able to find a bottle of vodka and I started to drink it. I cried along as I drank.
“My Father said you could never drink alcohol.”
I turned as I stared at Tiwa. “What do you want?”
“He said he stopped his drinking habits because of you. How is it that you are drinking?”
I swallowed as I wiped some of the liquor from my mouth. “It’s my business.”
“Did you have to change that fast? Why did you change so fast?” she asked.
I drove my wheelchair closer to her. “Listen to me, Tiwa. People change.” I replied as I started to drive off.
“He said you were a good woman.” She replied.
I paused as soon as I heard her and turned in her direction. “Good woman? When did he say so?”
“He has never stopped saying so.” She replied.
I swallowed. “People change.” I replied.
“Do you still care about him?” she asked.
“Tiwa, these things are complicated, you can’t understand.”
She nodded. “Help me understand.”
“Don’t you have to go to Lord Tanners’ tonight with Austin?” I asked waving off her curiosity.
She nodded. “I will, but right now, I want to talk. I want to know what happened, I want to know if you deserve my forgiveness. You abandoned me, I want to try to forgive you, but it is hard for me. Help me to understand.”
I took a deep breath. “Tiwa, I…I can’t talk to you about these things. It is complicated.”
She nodded. “Then we can stay complicated too.” she replied and walked out.
“Tiwa! Where are you going?” I shouted as I watched her walk out of the house.
She ran to me. “You lied, Dad. You lied.” She said in tears.
“What do you mean? Tiwa, what did your mom say to you?” I asked.
She cleaned her eyes. “You always told me that she loved me and cared so much and that she had to leave, but now, she is here and she won’t even be friends with me. Why did you make up all that for her?”
“I did not. Your mother is a great woman and she loves you a lot.”
She rolled my eyes. “Dad, she doesn’t.”
I pulled her to me for a hug. “She loves you. I know it.”
The Gate opened and Austin drove in. He hurried into the house that he didn’t even notice Tiwa and I. “Austin just came in.” I started. “Is tonight the Lord Tanner show?”
She nodded. “Yes, Dad.” She replied. I took a deep breath. “But that’s not due yet.” She added.
“Austin, you have help me out of here.” I said as soon as he walked in.
“We have bigger problems, Ijeoma. Bigger ones!” he said.
I stared at him. “What are you saying?”
“You remember the deal that got you suspended?” he asked. I nodded in agreement. “They just pulled out all their shares from our company. We have not tied up a successful deal since your accident and we are suffering financially.”
I gasped. “Why didn’t you tell me anything?”
“I told you about your suspension, didn’t I?” he said as he sank into a seat. “Where is your husband?” he asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. You have to help me now; I am going to the office.”
“You can’t go in your condition.” He replied standing up.
I looked down checking myself. “If you able bodied men can’t seal deals, I should be able to do it from here.” I replied and moved my wheelchair forward.
Austin stood in my way. “I can’t let you go.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Why then did you come to me?” I asked.
Austin was pacing around the living room when I walked in. “Is there a problem?” I asked.
He adjusted his jacket. “It’s just erm…just office matters, but the real problem is Ijeoma wants to go to the office now and I don’t think it is good for her.”
“There is no use worrying about me.” Ijeoma said as she approached us. She was darting a smart suit with her hair let down and pretty accessories. She smiled in Austin’s direction. “Let’s go.”
“Ijeoma, you can attend to office duties later, I already booked you with the physiotherapist.” I said.
She smiled. “I don’t think I want to see the physiotherapist anytime soon, what I want to do now is go to work.”
I bent before her. “Ijeoma, you don’t have to do this. Work will take care of itself.”
“I know I don’t have to do it, but, I want to do it.” She replied. “Take care of yourself, I’ll see you in the evening if you are still here.” She added and drove her wheelchair out with Austin following her.
I took a deep breath as the elevator opened into the top floor. Standing right before me was the Chairman. “Mr. Chairman, good morning.” I greeted.
He stared at me and then at Austin. “Didn’t you tell her that she has been suspended? And even if you weren’t told by him, didn’t you get the email and letters?”
“Do you want the company back in shape or not?” I asked.
“Mrs. Martins, this is not the time for your cheap talk, and right now, I am a wrong buyer of your merchandise.”
I smiled. “You know I don’t talk cheap, I’ll give you back the lost deal in exchange for my job and a step higher on my ranking here.”
“What is this? Street shopping?”
I drove my wheelchair around him. “Sir, you know I can handle it. My promotion is quite due you know?”
“You are already Senior Partner here, what else could you want? Director?”
I nodded. “Yes, Director. I don’t enjoy being suspended or threatened. I have done too much to be threatened in that manner. Now, the choice is yours, if you don’t agree, I am going to resign and when I resign, I’ll go private and you know there are one million people that will be willing to join me.”
He swallowed. “You have six hours.”
“Too much.” I replied and punched the elevator door open. Austin followed me into the lift.
He waited until the door closed. “Ijeoma, are you crazy? What did you just do?”
“I bought some time, we would close up the deal and I’ll get a more secure position here, it’s about time I got that.”
He nodded as the door opened to the last floor. “And what if we can’t seal it?”
“Do you actually believe that I won’t handle it?” I asked as I drove on. I noticed that Austin wasn’t following as I reached the door. I had been rattling to thin air. I turned back to see him standing at the elevator door with a smile on his face. “What?” I asked.
He smiled wider. “You are back!”
I nodded and drove out.
“I could actually take you to the Lord Tanner show myself.” I said as Tiwa focused on the TV.
She smiled faintly. “Thank you but I’d rather go with Austin.”
“Austin?! What do you mean?” I asked.
She turned off the TV with a smile. “Easy Dad, Austin isn’t dating her.”
“And does that mean you are going to date him?” I asked angrily.
She laughed. “Come on Dad. Austin and I are buddies. I want to help him with his girlfriend but he doesn’t know.”
“You want to help him? He has a girlfriend? What is his relationship with your mother?”
“They are friends and partners, Dad. I don’t know if he likes her, but, I want to help him with his girlfriend.”
I shook my head. “Stay out of his personal matters, Tiwa. You have no business with that, I’ll be taking you to the Lord Tanner show if you want to go. I’ll reserve the tickets and we would be watching ‘Magic Time’ together. That’s the name of the show, right?” I asked as I searched for information on my laptop.
“Why don’t we all go together? We could call Ms. Dominic too.” she replied with a smile.
I swallowed as she mentioned Olivia’s name. “With Ms. Dominic?” I asked.
She nodded. “Yes, she is your friend and she can come too.”
“Look, we don’t have the time for you, we are not putting our shares back.”
I drove my wheelchair closer to him. “You know what? We don’t care.”
Austin’s jaw dropped. The Director stared at me. “Did you hear yourself?”
I nodded. “Why would I care? You are pulling out your shares and giving room for more share sells, right now we have a positive rise making us the best business to buy in right now, and I don’t think I want you back in our organization, your pulling out has given us room to sell more. Thank you. We’ll be on our way.” I concluded as I turned from his direction.
“Wait!” he said.
I smiled faintly at Austin and then turned in his direction. “What do you want?”
“Suppose I am willing to buy back, how many percent am I entitled to?”
I shook my head sadly. “Right now, I can only offer you 5% and that is because we are having people rush in demanding higher and paying better. I came here because I felt you should enjoy in this new package.”
He took a deep breath. “I want 10%.”
“You know the price.” I replied.
He nodded. “I’ll have the money wired back to the organization and I want my shares before morning.”
“I’ll see what I can do, 10% is quite difficult, but I’ll try my best. You are one of our best.”
He fetched his pen. “I want a contract to this effect.”
I smiled and stared at Austin. “I’ll have the deeds sent to you by noon.”
“Ms. Martins, we have a pending deal, you know?”
I nodded. “I had an accident. We can seal that too now if you don’t mind.”
He handed the paper to me. “I want you guys to help me. I just want all my consignments in the right place.”
“We always do.” I replied, signing the paper. “You can call the Chairman and tell him you are all in.” I added as I returned the paper to him. “I’ll be on my way now. I need to see my physio.” I concluded.
He kissed my hand. “Speedy recovery.”
Austin smiled and led me to the elevator. “How do you do that?”
Margaret pressed her weight into the couch and changed the television station. She had not settled into the movie she was watching when the door bell chimed. She cursed as she strolled to the door. She opened the door and smiled as she saw Ijeoma. She threw her arms around Ijeoma. “My child.” Ijeoma drove into the house and Margaret followed after shutting the door. “How is Omololu?” she asked.
“Omololu is okay. How are you?” Ijeoma asked.
Margaret smiled. “I am bored.”
“Why don’t you come over to the house with me? Omololu is there.” Ijeoma replied.
Margaret stared at her. “What do I offer you?”
“I am okay ma.”
Margaret took her seat opposite Ijeoma. “Have you met Olivia?”
“Apart from when I caught her in bed with Omololu? No.”
Margaret nodded. “Do you want to fight for your marriage?”
“I was wrong and you know it.” She replied. “It is pointless fighting for Omololu.” Ijeoma replied.
She nodded. “We all make mistakes.”
“If I didn’t make that mistake, Omololu and I won’t be so complicated right now and there won’t be any need for Olivia in our lives.” Ijeoma said.
Margaret took her hand. “What are you doing to win Omololu back?”
Ijeoma smiled faintly. “Last night was special.”
“I want to hear about it.” Margaret replied with a smile.
Ijeoma chuckled. “Can I talk about this with you?”
“What haven’t you talked about with me?” Margaret replied.
I adjusted my jacket as I waited for Tiwa by the car. She hurried out. “I don’t think Austin is coming. Have you called Ms. Dominic?” she asked.
“No. I actually thought your mom would return quite early so we could all go together.” I replied.
She smiled faintly. “You wanted to go with her?”
I nodded in agreement. “Anyway, since she isn’t here, we could go together.”
The gate opened and Ijeoma’s car came in. Tiwa stared at me. “She is here now. Are you going to ask her?”
Ijeoma drove up to us. “Going out?”
“It’s the Lord Tanner show tonight.” Tiwa said.
Ijeoma stared at me and then at her. “Mind if I join?” she asked.
I smiled. “Of course not.”
“I’ll just go and change.” She replied and drove into the house.
Tiwa stared at me with a smile. “You didn’t even have to ask.”
“She owes us.” I replied as I stroked Tiwa’s hair.
She smiled. “Dad, do you think we can become a family again?” she asked. My heart pounded as she started. “I…I know I don’t really know her but I think she is good and maybe sorry for the past even though I really don’t know all about it.”
“I don’t know if she is sorry.” I replied turning away from her.
She held my hand. “Is it hard to have our family back? I mean all my friends have their Mom and Dad.”
“It’s not always the same for everyone.” I replied. “And I thought you liked Ms. Dominic.”
She nodded with a smile. “Of course I do, she is very nice and she is your friend, I like her. But, S…She is only your friend, right?”
I swallowed and turned away from her. Ijeoma approached us in her wheelchair. The chair couldn’t hide her beauty. I smiled faintly and walked up to her. “You are beautiful.” I said.
She smiled. “Thank you.” she replied and drove off to Tiwa.
The gate opened and we stared at Police officers approach us. “Mr. Martins?”
“You are under arrest for breaching court agreement.” The officer said flashing a warrant before me.
PS: “Please Read and LIKE my short story here MORE AS ONE and help share to others too. Thank you – I’d like to Win the competition :)”
PPS: I’ll also be going for my NYSC programme so I’ll be unable to upload for the next three weeks, please bear with me.
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