WURA/ MAHMUD/ KASI/ LEXUS/ CHICHI/ CHRIS/ EHI
“It’s just a simple blood test, Woo, relax nau.”
Wura gave Mahmud a heavy frown and turned her face away from him. They were alone in the kitchen of her house. Everyone else was either asleep or yet to return from a party they went for the previous night. Wura had woken up early to prepare for church and found Mahmud waiting in the sitting room, engaged in a long phone conversation with one of his cousins. In his uninhibited way of doing things, he had stretched out his legs on a sofa and made himself comfortable. He was on call but said he stopped to take Wura’s blood sample for prerequisite tests. She objected, he got off the sofa and swathed her face with pecks.
“The test is routine, mami and I’m sparing you the trips to the hospital. I’ll also be giving you a vaccine.”
“But I don’t want that. I’m fine.”
Mahmud dragged her to the kitchen and had her sit on the counter. He left the house to his car, returning shortly with a medical kit. She enjoyed seeing him doing his work; it made him look sexy whenever he was serious but she hated needles and anything closely related to them. With eyes shut, she waited for the first needle to go in and whimpered like a puppy when it pricked her.
“As big as you are,” he teased and she stuck out her tongue. Thereafter, she relaxed and allowed him as her eyes studied him intensely.
“Anything you want to tell me, doll face?”
“Sure you don’t want to say how much you love your baby daddy?”
She couldn’t help but smile, even though she wasn’t sure if what she felt for him was love. But it was something close to it. They hadn’t yet taken out time to have that serious talk about their future yet because she was holding back on the communication bit. She was letting him back in small doses. If any lesson was to be learned from that one weekend they spent together, it was that she had to take things slowly. Besides there was still the wrath of her older siblings and the church authorities hanging over their heads. No need to rush things.
Mahmud removed the latex gloves he had on and left the house with her blood sample. He came back with a polythene bag which he handed to her.
“What’s in it?”
“Tokunboh, I thought I told you no gifts; you have to save money for the baby.”
Mahmud avoided looking directly at her. “Actually I bought this from some money I made off a website…”
“You gambled online? Again?”
“It’s called a bet, Wuraola. I only put in 10k but I won over a hundred grand.”
“I’m supposed to be happy?”
He unexpectedly leaned over and kissed her. It was their first kiss since they reconciled. She enjoyed it but was quick to pull back.
“You’re such a spoil sport,” he said to her. “Open your gift.”
Wura put her hand into the polythene bag and pulled out a new iPhone.
“A 5s?” She couldn’t stop the smile that formed on her lips as she lifted her head to look at him.
“Knew you’d like it.
“Mymood, this is a lot…”
Again, his lips caught hers without warning. The kiss wasn’t one of his usual kisses. It carried a deep message and she found it scary that she understood him without words. Affectionate arms held her and she found herself nuzzling into his chest.
“Thank you for the phone but hope you know you’ll be paying for my data plan?”
“And your bride price,” he added and stepped back a little. “Marry me, Belinda Wuraola.”
Traces of a smile hanging at the angles of her lips disappeared.
“You’re proposing? In this nonchalant manner on an Easter Sunday morning with no ring and anyone around to witness and document it?”
Mahmud laughed and shook his head. “I don buy job.”
“Just correct that error in your brain before you build up the balls to propose to me.”
He went for a third kiss and this one carried a different message entirely. Wura pushed him away and jumped off the counter.
“Tokunboh, it’s Easter Sunday jor. Don’t be giving me that type of kiss when all of heaven is watching.”
Mahmud locked his fingers in hers and spun her around. Holding her from behind, he led her to her bedroom.
“Shey you know I missed you.”
“Go jor.” She dodged a peck to her ear.
“I’ll buy that ring and get a whole TV crew to record the proposal.”
“You are yimu-ing me?” He poked her sides in a tickle and she wriggled.
“Mymood stop. I’m too sensitive. E jor.”
He ignored her and unleashed more tickles. She screamed in laugher and escaped from his grip but he ran after her.
Somewhere else in the house, Lexus jolted up from a bed that wasn’t hers. Wura’s scream had woken her and brought her into instant headache. She also discovered that her body was exposed as she felt her nipples harden under the exposure of a freezing atmosphere. She looked around; she didn’t recognize the room immediately but her mind began to register familiar objects that let her know that she was in Kasi’s personal space. The final thing her eyes rested on was his legs at the foot of the bed. Her hands instinctively cupped her breasts.
She followed the stretch of his tall frame all the way to his face and found his eyes opened, staring at her. She gasped.
“What the fuck happened, Kas?”
Kasi didn’t answer immediately. He picked a t-shirt from the floor and flung at her. “I have no idea but try not to shout,” he replied, getting off the bed, “I’m about to have the mother of all hangovers.”
“You don’t know what happened? Wait, Kas, be serious. How did I get into this room and on top of this bed?”
“Oh, that. Yeah… um…the party yesterday had you drunk like a fish and we came back home at about 3:30 or so… Chichi was the only one not hammered. She drove your car, dumped us here and went back to the party. Then about your t-shirt and bra being off your body, I really don’t know. I plan to ask you why you took them off and cuddled into me, complaining that the AC was really cold. What was that all about?”
Lexus couldn’t see his face; his back was to her so she couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. It wasn’t new for her to get so drunk she couldn’t remember a thing but stripping out of her clothes was not something she had imagined herself doing.
“Is that all I did, cuddle into you? I didn’t ask for sex?”
“No.” Kasi stood up. He entered the bathroom and Lexus fished around for her bra. She was in the process of putting it on when Kasi returned. It was useless trying to cover herself.
“Did you break up with Chichi? Where’s she? She came in and saw us, right?”
Kasi shook his head. “She’s at her cousin’s, the one that organized the party.”
Lexus took a moment to think. The previous night was returning in bits and she could make out an image of Chichi’s cousin—an older woman that reminded her of Eva. She was rich, single and living life like she was eighteen. She was definitely no cousin of Chichi’s.
“Yeah, I’m beginning to remember what happened.”
Lexus wore her t-shirt and Kasi handed two phones to her. One was hers and the other was Chris’. She remembered taking it from him because he had concentrated on the darn thing for so long and ignored her at the party.
“I’m going home and going straight to bed after I strangle Wura for shouting anyhow and waking me up.”
“I think her boyfriend is around.”
Kasi opened the door and held it out for Lexus to pass through but when she came close, he stopped her by pinning a leg on the doorpost.
She frowned. “You have started again.”
“He ignored you at the party yesterday. He was on his phone all through.”
“Or another girl.”
Lexus rolled her eyes. “Kasiobi please, not this morning.”
“The guy is fake.”
“But I like him.”
Kasi stroked her cheek with his thumb.
“Baby, you deserve better.”
“Chris is better.”
“Okay, let’s go out on a date today, just me and you. Chris and Chichi don’t have to know. We’ll just hang out like we used to. There’s this new joint off Abraham Adesanya where they sell bush meat and palm wine…”
Within, Lexus was screaming a loud ‘yes’ but she showed nothing on the outside and smiled only in her eyes as she turned down his invitation.
“Chris is taking me to the movies. I’m sorry.”
She left a friendly hand on his chest as she crossed over his leg to pass through. He watched her walk into the sitting room and wondered how many days it would take before her brain recalled that she had actually done more than cuddle into him.
“Happy Easter, guys.”
Kasi turned his eyes away from her and saw Ehi coming from the kitchen with a mug of coffee. She carried a full smile and stopped before him.
“Kasi, my sister’s organizing this Easter bash this evening and I thought I’d invite you.”
“Erm…” Kasi scratched his head. “Chichi and I are going somewhere.”
“I thought I heard her say she was going to spend the whole day at her cousin’s.”
“Yeah… her cousin’s…that’s where we’ll be.”
Ehi didn’t believe him. He tried to keep a serious face to support his lie but burst out laughing when he saw Lexus making funny gestures about him disvirgining Ehi at the backseat of some taxi on their way to her sister’s. What tickled him most was the fact that he could understand every hand movement Lexus made and how he was able to read an entire story out of it.
Ehi turned sharply to the front door where Lexus was standing but she found her face blank. Ehi faced Kasi again.
“So you’re not coming?”
Ehi smiled, Kasi smiled back and was going to keep smiling until she walked away but he was rudely brought to his senses when something hot burned his feet. He jumped and stared down, realizing Ehi had poured her entire mug of steaming coffee on him.
“Sorry, Kas. I was holding the mug carelessly. Pele.”
She left him hopping around and went into her bedroom. Lexus fell into laughter at his mystified expression.
“What just happened?” he asked. “Mehn, this Ehi sef…”
“I can hear you o!” Ehi responded angrily.
“Abeg, go jor!”
The front door opened and Chris walked in. Lexus moved away as he tried for a hug. She handed his phone to him and made an act of walking off but he caught her hand and drew her to him. They ended up sharing a kiss that Kasi tried hard to ignore.
“I’m sorry,” Chris whispered and she wasn’t sure if he was just playing his role or if he meant it. She had been genuinely annoyed with him at the party for snubbing her.
“You know I’ll not do anything to hurt you.”
“So spend the whole day with me,” she replied, out of earshot. “Take me to see a movie.”
“Is that what you want?” he asked in his deep voice, picking something off her eyelashes. “I’m all yours, just let me go to church first.”
“Do you guys mind? You’re blocking the road.”
Both of them stepped away from the entrance as Chichi walked in. She tucked in Lexus’ car key into her back pocket and tapped her bum before announcing that she had run the car out of gas.
“You’re a little above reserved. Sorry.” She giggled.
“Hi Chichi,” Chris greeted but Chichi turned away and went to Kasi. She hugged him and they fired off a conversation in Igbo but they didn’t go far when Wura emerged from her bedroom with Mahmud. After pleasantries, she made an announcement.
“Y’all going to church today. My church. And I am not hearing any excuses from anyone. Today is Easter and the least you guys can do is go and thank Jesus for dying for you.”
“But I don’t want to go church,” Lexus complained.
“Me too,” Chichi stated in a careless manner. “Kasi and I will stay back and sleep off all that party of yesterday and maybe have premarital sex like the sinners we are.”
“We’re going to church, Chi,” Kasi said.
“Yes, we are.” Kasi nodded to Wura. “Lex?”
“I don’t have church clothes.”
“A decent pair of jeans and a t-shirt will do,” Wura replied.
“I don’t have a bible.”
“Download one. Oya everybody, go and shower. We have only one hour.”
Mahmud watched as they all dispersed, leaving only Chris who sat in a single couch and kept his eyes on his phone.
“Wow. You totally convinced them to go to church,” Mahmud spoke. “Hope you won’t try that with me.”
Wura gave him no reply as she went back into her bedroom and shut the door.
Lexus fell asleep on the ride home from church. It had been long since she visited a Pentecostal gathering. She preferred worship within the four walls of a Catholic cathedral where things were brief, less noisy and had none of the drama she had experienced today. She came out tired and was glad Chris knew how to drive, seeing that neither Kasi nor Chchi was in the mood to. Chichi had been in a foul temperament all day and Kasi attended to her in that backseat of Lexus’ jeep. They communicated only in Igbo and it was the low hum of their voices that had lulled Lexus to sleep. She woke up only when the vehicle stopped just behind Dominic’s jeep in the car park. Driving in behind them was Mahmud with Wura and Ehi. He had taken a quick break from work and driven all the way to Apapa to pick Wura. It was a promise he made to be her personal chauffer for the duration of her pregnancy. Initially, she hadn’t taken him seriously but when she stepped out of the church and saw him waiting behind his wheels in a pair of green scrubs, she realized he was a man ready to keep every promise he made.
“You’re welcome, Ehi.”
Wura sat back in the car as Ehi alighted and made it to the house.
“You’re not coming in?” Wura asked Mahmud when she noticed his engine was still running.
“I still have work, doll face. But I’m spending this evening with you. Keep my own Easter rice.”
He held her chin and brushed his lips against her chin. She felt the tickle of his beard and squirmed a little. He was going in for a full kiss but they heard loud, unpleasant noise coming from the guest wing and hurried out. Entering the house they met Kasi and Chris in a fist fight. Without waiting to know what was going on, Mahmud stepped in and broke the fight, keeping Kasi, who seemed like the aggressor, a good distance away from Chris whom Mahmud suspected could give Kasi a good beating. In a corner were Chichi and Ehi in tears. Lexus sat alone, watching the scuttle in silence. She appeared to be undisturbed.
“What happened?” Wura questioned.
“Guy, get the fuck out of this house!” Kasi bawled at Chris.
Kasi charged in the direction of Chris but Mahmud pushed him backwards and tried to calm him. None of them, apart from Lexus had seen him that incensed before and Wura had to gesture to Chichi to pacify him. Chichi went to him and said a few things in Igbo before taking him away from the scene while Chris occupied himself with tying his shoe lace. Wura’s questioned was left unanswered.
“Lex, what happened nau? Somebody answer me,” she begged.
“I don’t know.” Lexus shrugged. “Just two fucktards embarrassing their sorry old asses.”
“Kasi’s accusing Chris for hitting on Chichi,” Ehi explained. “Me, I just came in and saw Kasi asking Chris why he was making moves on Chichi at the party they went for yesterday and before any of us knew it, he just punched his face and next thing, they started fighting.”
“Ha-ahn. Chris, is it true? Did you hit on Chichi?”
“So she claims but I didn’t. She was the one that came on to me,” Chris answered.
“E be like say you wan die this afternoon! You still dey here dey misyarn abi?!” Kasi marched out of his room and went straight for Chris who sprang up on his feet and was ready for another fight. However, Mahmud stepped in-between them and held them apart. Both guys towered above him, chests heaving, breaths coming out in puffs but he was unmoved.
“Mehn, you guys are too old for this abeg. Just chill. Make una no fall my hand for this matter. It’s just a plain misunderstanding.”
“It is,” Wura agreed.
“Abeg, Kasi calm down.”
The front door squeaked and Dominic walked in. His unnerving presence left a hush in the sitting room. Penetrating eyes studied each individual present.
“You’re all invited for dinner this evening at the main house. There’s drinks and karaoke afterwards. Try to leave your drama behind.”
He left the house and Kasi returned to his room in the same manner in which he emerged from it. Mahmud also took his leave and everyone else disappeared except Lexus and Chris.
“Did you do it?” she asked him.
“No, Lexi.” Chris sat beside her. “Believe me, Chichi came on to me. I was in the restroom and she walked in and started taking her top off. I told her to stop but she said Kasi liked someone else…”
“She didn’t say. She also said he didn’t have time for her and she always had to beg for sex. She was horny and wanted me to do her. Mehn, had to run, Lexi. And from that moment she started boning for me.”
“I believe you.”
“Yeah. Just stay away from her; she’s trouble. I’ll talk to Kasi, try to calm him.”
“Do you mind my asking?” Chris focused on a button on his shirt that looked like it was about to pop out. “What do you see in Kasi?”
“I’m not answering that question. Just do your job.”
Chris stood up.
“See you later at your dad’s stuff. And before I forget, you look beautiful.”
Lexus stared at what she was wearing. It was from a collection Ehi had made a while ago for a feature in a magazine. The design was colorful, made from different fabrics into one fitted gown that drew attention to curves on Lexus’ body that she didn’t even know existed.
She blushed at Chris’ compliment. “Thanks.”
He bent over her and grazed her lips with a soft kiss, then stopped to stare into her eyes.
“Look around, Christopher. There’s no one here except me and you. What was the kiss all about?”
Instead of some form of response she was looking for, Chris climbed over the sofa, rested both knees on it, sandwiching Lexus between him, and then he took her lips in an aggressive kiss that she feared was never going to end. After that he let down his head over her ear and murmured, “in case you didn’t know, Kasi was fighting me over you, not Chichi. She was just an excuse; you’re the reason he hates me and I’m going to make him so jealous from now on.”
“I don’t want to be caught between two guys. That’ll be just silly.”
“You want Kasi, I’ll get you Kasi. Just let me do it my own way.”
He got off the sofa and made his exit. Lexus was a little puzzled at his behavior but she was too tired and sleepy to ponder on it. She also left the house, using the backdoor. Gloomy clouds collected up in the sky and a chill passed through her. An ominous thought broke into her mind and a second chill traveled over spine and raised the hairs on her body. The thought persisted as she walked home and she didn’t know what to do with it. Something bad was going to happen. She could feel it; she just didn’t know what it was.