Aisha paced around Craig’s living room. “Give a mansion to a pig and he’ll still make it a sty. Why is this place a mess?” She asked. Craig rolled his eyes as he flung his shorts from a corner on the sofa to another corner in the living room in a bid to make space for Aisha and Moira to take their seats.
“It’s a big deal with the guys here.” He replied lazily as he slumped into a seat.
Aisha clenched her teeth in anger as she took a gaze at the living room. One would find it hard to believe that Craig emanated from such an environment once he stepped out of the house. He had dashing looks and well-ironed clothes like every other smart-looking man, but, his house??? Shirts lying around the parlour as though they owned it. Underwears and stockings graced the small passage to the room. Alcohol bottles and cans stashed in corners of the house. This made Aisha sick. She could not believe what Craig had made out of one of her best properties.
“This is just disgusting.” Aisha said.
Craig nodded. “I know. But you really should call next time you want to visit. I got a cleaner for the house, she only comes during the weekends.”
“Do you need a nanny too?! It’s been barely a week since you moved in here.” Aisha protested as she hurled a dangling shirt at him. “What are you trying to do, Craig?”
He took a deep breath. “Look, I am not the only one who lives here. I have friends here too, together we can take the credit for the mess, but you’ll just have to wait for them to arrive before you continue lashing me. Trust me, they are a bunch, about six or seven?”
“I am not marrying all your dumb friends, you are the one I have a business with. This is unacceptable.” She said, standing up.
Moira cleared her throat. “Aisha-”
“Don’t Aisha me! Have you seen what this guy has turned this place into? Suppose you are caught unawares by the press and they decide to see what your crib looks like, is this what you are going to show them?” Aisha asked.
Craig shrugged. “Yes, mom.”
“What?!” Aisha gasped.
Moira couldn’t hold it. She burst into an awkward laugh. It however took a cold eye from Aisha to curb her laugh.
“This is one big joke to you, right?” Aisha asked staring at Craig.
He nodded. “I mean what do you call being forced to marry a woman? It has to be a joke. Look Aisha, you can’t come here telling me how to lead my life, okay? I am going to marry you, you are going to accept me however I am.” He said smiling. “I mean, it’s all fun and games, right?”
Aisha took her seat slowly. “Wow. It’s all fun and games, right? Craig, I am getting you a P.A, you will have an agenda. You will follow the agenda. You will stick to my rules. Number one is, kick those friends out.”
“No, mom. I can’t do that.” He replied. “I mean, it is sick enough that I have to get married soon. Can’t I at least have friends while I wait for you to set the date?”
Aisha took a deep breath. “Rule number two: The next time you call me mom, you are going to regret it.”
“What’s the worst that can happen? Look Aisha, I get the drill. I know what you want. I am going to help you achieve it. I have my methods and I always win, so stop getting in my way.” He said as he grabbed the controller to the television. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to watch TV, or would you decide when I watch that too? Oh…you might as well set parental locks on the decoder.”
Aisha felt sweat trickle down her back. She was nervous. She had never been this nervous. She had never had it this tough with anyone. To take on Craig, she had to be well-fortified. She really needed plans. This might have looked like a simple agreement, but Craig appeared to going overboard, at least to her.
Aisha picked her bag, standing up and Moira immediately rose to her feet. “Take care of this mess, Craig. I mean it.”
“I will, mom.” He replied grinning.
Aisha kicked her car tyre hard as soon as they left Craig’s house. “I swear I could break that guy’s balls.”
“Good! I heard it right this time.” Moira said with a smile.
Aisha swallowed. “He has so much gut. Who is he to talk to me anyhow?”
“He is the man who is going to marry you so you can claim your inheritance before your father decides to will it to an orphanage.”
Aisha scoffed. “He dare not mess with me.”
“You know he can do it and that’s why you are so desperate.”
Aisha shook her head in disagreement. “I am desperate because I don’t want Hakeem to keep bothering me. If I can convince father of Craig and I, and we quickly pull that marriage stunt, dad would understand my decision to stay single. I mean, I would be a divorcee by then. He’ll feel sorry for me.”
“Don’t be too certain. Alhaji is well-respected, he won’t let you have a divorce that easily.” Moira said as she opened the door of the car. “We should get going.”
Aisha nodded. “Yeah, I need to plan that guy’s life; I won’t let him mess me up. For starters, this weekend, he is going with me to the Tennis club.”
“What if he can’t play tennis?” Moira asked.
“Oh well, that’s his luck! That will make the headline.” Aisha said starting the car.
Moira stared at her. “Aisha, I really think there is still time for you to fire this guy and open your heart to real love.”
“Moira, what have you been drinking?” Aisha asked. “It is too early to be drunk.”
Moira rolled her eyes. “You are always evasive of the truth, I just think that this guy might be too much to handle.”
Aisha smiled. “Good. I am not going easy either.” She said as she drove off.
Aisha picked up the TV controller and tuned away from Fashion TV. “Don’t you have anything to do with your life, Moira?” she asked.
“I was just doing something before you decided to ruin the moment for me.” Moira replied. “Ah, and you consider tuning to a Sport channel as something better?”
Aisha nodded as she stopped at a football game. “My brain is so tired of work that I need to unwind.”
“If you want to unwind, you should be sleeping, or go to a club, the night is still young, just seven pm.” Moira replied.
“I’ll pass on your offer.” She replied.
Moira hissed. “Do you have to subject me to this torture of watching grown men kicking balls into the net?”
“Look on the bright side, you can admire the players while I admire the sport.” Aisha replied.
Moira grinned. “Why do I get the feeling that you are actually doing that when you say you are watching football? I mean, some of these guys are actually cute, maybe that’s what you come here to view, not actually the game.”
“I don’t care what you think.” Aisha replied.
The doorbell chimed. “You have been saved by the bell, I am coming back for you.” Moira said as she walked over to the door. She returned to the living room with Craig. “Look who we have here, it is your dear future husband.”
Aisha turned off the TV. “What do you want? I don’t remember sending for you.” She said and paused to take a look at his dressing. “No one can guess the type of filth you’ve come out from when you are dressed like this.”
“Get dressed. We are going to see your father.” Craig said as he took his seat.
Aisha stared at Moira and then back at Craig. “Look here man-”
“-Get dressed woman. I have my methods, it is time we try my style.”
Moira grinned. “Of course, this is going to be fun.” She said as she dragged Aisha upstairs.
“I am begging you not to go overboard.” Aisha said as they drove into Alhaji’s compound. “He is very intelligent and he can spot a fake when he sees one, so you had better be careful.”
Craig turned off the engine and stared at her. “As long as you play the dutiful woman, we have no problem impressing him.”
“Try not to mention too many exotic places. I know you have goggled up places and towns, don’t go acting like you know them.” She added.
Craig nodded and stepped out of the car. He walked over to her side and opened the door for her. “Shall we?”
“I am going to kill you if this is messed up.” Aisha said as they walked into the house.
“Whoa!” Craig said as they walked through the hallway. “Is your father a king or something?”
Aisha shook her head. “You’ve started failing already. I know you’ve never seen anything as beautiful as this, please pretend as if you have.”
Alhaji Ibrahim met them in the hallway. “Aisha dear.” He said as he pecked her. “Craig, right?”
Craig nodded as he stretched out his hand. “Nice to meet you, sir.”
“So, where did she fish you from?” Alhaji asked as they walked into the house.
Craig stared at Aisha with a surprised look and then back at Alhaji. “Fish me?”
Alhaji nodded as he ushered them to their seats. “Aisha has never brought a man home and for reasons best known to Aisha and myself, it is a beauty to have you here.”
“I…I was the one who wanted to come.” Craig said.
Alhaji Ibrahim relaxed in his seat. “Really? And why is that?”
Craig smiled. “For obvious reasons. She’s always bragged about your home.”
“Aisha? Brag? My Home? Does it sound like my girl?” Alhaji Ibrahim replied.
Aisha immediately grabbed a glass of champagne from the maid and started to drink. The maid set the remaining drinks and walked away.
“A lot of things about Aisha that you probably don’t know, sir. No offence.” Craig replied.
Alhaji Ibrahim nodded. “You may be right, son. So, did you guys attend university together?”
Craig nodded in agreement. “Yes sir, although we were not very good friends back then, but I said hi a lot. I did humiliate myself around her.”
“Finally! A good lie!” Aisha said almost inaudibly through her clenched teeth.
Alhaji nodded. “I won’t be surprised.”
“Nonetheless, she is really special and her love for you has made me really interested in knowing my competition.”
Aisha rolled her eyes. “Dad, Craig is a really troublesome man. He’s all about going out with me and he is troubled that I won’t go out with him, and that is the truth. He insisted that I bring him to see the man that has my heart and that’s why we are here.”
Alhaji Ibrahim smiled. “Am I that special to you?” he asked with a smile.
Aisha nodded. “Dad, can we keep our differences aside?” she asked with a smile. “This guy is a stranger and he is trying to take your place in my life.”
Alhaji Ibrahim nodded. “With all pleasure.”
Craig smiled as he stared at Aisha. “So, I’ll keep pestering you.”
Alhaji Ibrahim cleared his throat. “We should have dinner together. The three of us. Let’s go to the table.”
“Still staying locked up?” Bolu asked as he walked into Daniel’s room. “There’s space for you in Craig’s house.”
Daniel hissed. “I just don’t want to be around that guy anymore. Why does he always get the good things?”
“Are we still on this Vicky issue?” Bolu asked, taking a seat. “Guy, get over it. It is not Craig’s fault that the babe doesn’t like you.”
Daniel nodded. “I see. What about this Aisha’s case, it was my stand and she chose him.”
“GUY! Wetin you dey talk nau? (What are you saying?) You are acting crazy, man. It sucks to be Craig right now in case you don’t know.”
Daniel hissed as he downed his drink. “Money, Car, House, Clothes, and Aisha? Why won’t I want to be him?”
“Daniel, I can’t believe you are talking like this. Is this because of Vicky? Craig is not responsible for Vicky’s feelings. If you want to take it out on someone, talk to Vicky.”
Daniel nodded. “Easy for you to say, you are eating from his rich girlfriend’s plate now.”
Bolu shook his head. “Man, you are pathetic.”
“Get out! I am done with you guys!”
Daniel nodded. “For real.”
“You should come over to the tennis club this weekend.” Alhaji Ibrahim said as he walked Craig and Aisha over to the car.
Craig shrugged. “I think I have a less hectic weekend, I might make it.”
“Do you play tennis, Craig?” Aisha asked.
He smiled. “I’ll bring my racket.” He said as he walked over to the driver’s side.
Alhaji Ibrahim pulled Aisha aside gently. “I like him.” He said with a smile. “Very confident lad. You guys might do well together.”
“I don’t like him, Dad.” Aisha replied. “I brought him here so he’ll stop bugging me.” She added. The gate opened and Hakeem’s car rode in. “Hakeem?”
Alhaji Ibrahim nodded. “Yes. Good thing you haven’t left.”
Hakeem approached them. “Good evening, Alhaji.” He said.
Alhaji nodded with a smile. “How are you, Hakeem?”
“Very well, sir.” He replied and turned in Aisha’s direction. “Aisha, how are you?”
She smiled back. “Fine, thank you.”
Craig joined them. “Shall we, Aisha?”
Hakeem turned in his direction. “Hello?”
“Hakeem, meet my friend, Craig. Craig, meet Hakeem.”
Craig stretched out a hand to him. “Good evening.”
Hakeem stared at him and took the hand firmly. “Good evening.”
Craig turned in Alhaji Ibrahim’s direction. “Good night, sir. It’s been a real pleasure.”
“For me too. Have a good evening. Hakeem, you are here to see me, right?”
Hakeem swallowed as he watched Craig usher Aisha into the car. “Yes sir.” He replied and followed Alhaji Ibrahim.
“I don’t get it, Alhaji, how is he Aisha’s boyfriend?” Hakeem asked perturbed.
Alhaji took a deep breath. “I have not said that he is her boyfriend. All I am saying is that, they seem very intimate as friends.”
“Intimate? That means something is going on between them. Little wonder Aisha is softer these days.”
Alhaji stared at him. “What do you mean?”
Hakeem resisted the urge to tell Alhaji about the incident at his house. “It’s nothing, Alhaji. Sir, I really need your help to win her heart. She listens to you.”
Alhaji shook his head sadly. “You don’t get it, son. We have no right over some things, the only thing I can tell you is that Aisha told me that she doesn’t like him. Perhaps, you can use that in your favour and see if you might be able to win her over.”
Hakeem nodded. “I’ll do everything in my power to make her mine.”
“I advise you to just take it easy.” Alhaji replied. “So, what do I offer you?”
Hakeem waved it off. “I am fine, sir.”
“Seems you would need more action from me.” Craig said as he pulled up in Aisha’s garage.
Aisha took off the seat belt. “I don’t understand what you mean.”
“That guy back at your father’s. He seemed ruffled by me. Who is he?” he asked.
She rolled her eyes. “Hakeem means nothing.”
“I can guess he leads the line of your suitors.” Craig replied as he turned in her direction. “We should make this acting more intense.”
She stared at him. “What do you mean? My father already likes you, which wins it for me.”
“He might like me, but I am sure that he would not be very comfortable yet. Hakeem as you call him is Muslim and I am Christian.”
Aisha stared at him with shock all over her face. “Are you suggesting that my father is going to be judgemental?”
He shook his head in disagreement. “I am not saying that, but, it is a possibility.”
“I think you should keep it out of the picture for now.” She replied as she placed her hand on the lock trying to open the door. “What is wrong with the door?” she asked as she turned in his direction.
He stared at her. “You are beautiful. I should have said that earlier.”
She scoffed. “Is that part of the deal?”
“No. I…I just thought I should say it.” He replied.
She nodded. “Henceforth, I suggest that you keep such impulses to yourself, are we clear?”
He nodded. “Have a good night.”
“You don’t give up, do you?” Vicky asked as Daniel approached her.
He shook his head. “Vicky, I care a lot about you, Craig doesn’t.”
“If you cared so much, you won’t be telling me that Craig doesn’t care about me.”
He took a deep breath. “I am trying to be realistic here. Look, Vicky, when a man loves a woman, he’ll do anything to make her happy.”
“How’s it going for you? I am obviously not happy and you want to worsen it for me.”
“Are you ever going to love me?”
She shrugged. “I don’t think so, but, you can do me a favour by telling me where to find Craig, I have been searching for him? I’ll appreciate you for that.”
He swallowed. “I…I don’t know.”
She smiled. “Typical you! I didn’t expect you to be of help. Good luck loving me.”
He took a deep breath. “I am being honest. He’s moved out of the house.”
Daniel rubbed his palms against his pocket. “I…I don’t know why.”
“You are lying, Daniel. I have been to the mall, I haven’t seen him. He’s not been to the cafeteria or bar in days, no one has seen him around this hood. Where is he? Where is Bolu?”
Daniel stared at her. “I hate to tell you but Craig is getting married.”
Vicky stared at him confusingly. “Married?”
“Yes. Craig is getting married and pretty soon.”
Vicky took a seat and Daniel took his beside her. “Is this how desperate you are? Daniel, you are loser. You were a loser. You are a loser and you will always be a loser.” She replied.
“So, you think Alhaji is convinced?” Moira asked.
Aisha nodded. “He looked it, but Craig brought up an issue that has me slightly concerned.”
“What might that be? Religion?” Moira asked as she sipped her drink.
Aisha nodded. “Exactly. Do you think Alhaji will give us problems with that? I mean, I can’t even start looking for a Muslim right now.”
“Hakeem is not far away.” Moira replied. Aisha ignored her. “Look Aisha, I think we should look for a quick alternative.”
Aisha shot at her. “I am not investing in another man.”
“I totally understand you, but you have to do something about this, else, Alhaji might actually spring up the religion thing soon.”
Aisha smiled. “Or I could convert to a Christian, right? It’s not like I don’t attend more church services than I go to the mosque.”
“The right question is when last did you go to the mosque?” Moira retorted. Aisha shrugged in response. “I really don’t think that’s the solution. Alhaji won’t be buoyed. I think you should step this drama up.”
Aisha stared at her. “Like make it intense?”
“Exactly! That’s the word. Give it some intensity. Add some life to it.”
Aisha nodded. “Craig was saying the same thing too. But how?” Moira shrugged and continued drinking. “Hey!” Aisha shouted at her. “Think! You are the genius in things like this.”
“Really? For once, you actually concede that I am actually better than you at something.” Moira said with a smile.
Aisha rolled her eyes. “In this case, I’d love being second to you.”
“That’s subtle for saying I don’t think of smart things, right?”
Aisha smiled. “I never said so, but since you have implied it, I might as well agree with you.”
“Well, let’s see where being cocky gets you. I am not helping out anymore.” Moira replied as she turned her nose up.
Aisha smiled. “I am sorry, love. Please help me.”
“On one condition.”
Aisha nodded. “Ask.”
“You won’t make fun of my boyfriend again?”
Aisha smiled. “The one on the internet?”
“I have met him once.”
Aisha nodded. “Yes, via Skype of course.”
Moira ignored her.
“Okay, fine. I promise never to talk about him in such tone again. Would you now come up with an idea?”
Moira smiled. “Well, I have always had the idea and it just became clearer.”
Moira nodded. “Your next line of action is to move in with Craig.”