Yetunde was not the one who let anything pass her sensitive self. When Tamilore was younger, her and her immediate elder sister and Yetunde’s immediate younger sister, Lamide, used to say Yetunde was an emere. Nothing could pass her, you could literally not do anything and she would not find out.
She had been their mother’s eyes in the house whenever the latter was not around.
Ada Akinola would leave home and then tell Yetunde that whatever happened, she should report because she knew she would see everything, every single thing. Whether or not they were done in her presence.
Yetunde had not missed the look that passed between her and their pastor’s son – the most eligible bachelor for all the single sisters in the Church, earlier.
She’d asked what it meant. When Tamilore had told her it was nothing, she had pleaded, threatened, pleaded again and now was threatening again.
“If you don’t tell me what it is between the both of you, I will kick you out of the house tonight.” She said as she prepared lunch for the two of them in her kitchen back in her condo.
“Yetunde, you will kick me out because you thought you saw something that you think you deserve to know.” Tamilore said slowly, slow enough for her eldest sister to realize the stupidity of her words.
Yetunde shrugged as she dished egusi soup for both of them in separate plates, near the eba she had put in the plates before then.
“Me I sha know I saw something and the way he just stood there, staring at you when he saw you, it was like you people knew each other before now.” she said placing a big beef into Tamilore’s plate.
Tamilore picked her plate, picked a bottle of chilled water from the fridge and strolled out of the kitchen.
“So you are not going to say anything?” Yetunde asked as she made to join her younger sister in the living room.
“There’s nothing to say.” Tamilore muttered, refusing to look up at her sister, refusing to see the incredulous expression that she knew must be on her face.
Jide was uncomfortable during the whole evening, he was tense during lunch, barely said anything to his mother’s chattering about the girl she had introduced him to in Church.
He had other things running through his mind; things including her, her being Suga spice.
“I think you should talk to the Holy Spirit about her.” he heard his mother say about the girl.
“Mummy, I don’t think Alero and I are a good match” he began to say and he saw the stony glare on her face.
It was the glare she always had on her face whenever he dared to disagree with her. Whenever anyone dared to disagree with her, anyone including his father.
“I just… I just…” the words failed him, like they always did whenever he tried to disagree with her, whenever he tried to make a fair point. “I will talk to the Holy Spirit” he said, going for the easy way out as usual.
She smiled now, happy that her son was agreeing with her on the choice of wife.
“I am sure He would tell you to go ahead with her. She is a good girl.” She began to say, “She compliments you. The both of you are from good Christian homes, have bright futures and have been raised well. There is nobody in this world good for you except her” she said, emphasizing every word in the last statement she made.
Jide ate in silence, his mind in the same place it had been since he ran into her. Nothing had changed. She was still beautiful, still fresh, still sexy, still a boho chic.
“And remember, keep the marriage bed holy. No sex before marriage, I intend to talk about that when you commence marriage counseling next Sunday anyway.”
Jide dragged his thoughts back into the house; he looked at his mother, stupefied, unable to process the words she just spoke.
“Marriage counseling.” he repeated and she nodded, stretching her hand for a glass of water.
“You are thirty-three, you are not getting any younger, both of you should get married as soon as possible.” she said to him.
Jide looked towards his father for help. The old man did not say anything. He never said much. Ademola Rogers had never said much ever since Jide knew him, the only place he spoke or rather, was allowed to speak was in Church.
And even then, his mother sometimes stood up after he was done preaching, take over from the person who was supposed to do whatever was next after the sermon and tweak everything she felt needed to be tweaked in the sermon.
She undermined his authority, made him feel like he was the wife, made decisions without his consent and had single handedly run his life since they were married.
Jide sighed, knowing his father could not do anything. He was his mother’s puppet just like he had been. But nobody could talk back at her or disagree with her; nobody dared to.
Once his paternal aunt, Aunty Morenike, called Aunt Mo by everyone had come to the house from their hometown in Ondo state with her family.
Aunty Mo had been mortified when she saw how Grace subtly made her husband seem incapable and how she made him into her puppet and she’d finally spoken up.
She walked to her in the kitchen where she was making dinner and asked why she was that insensitive to her husband’s needs.
Grace had told Aunty Mo to mind her business when Aunty Mo wouldn’t stop, Grace had invited an elderly CAC pastor over, made him place a bible on her forehead and then told Aunty Mo she was possessed with the spirit of witchcraft.
Aunty Mo did not get it, but before she could question the whole situation, the pastor quoted the scriptures to her and told her that rebellion was the same thing as witchcraft and that Aunty Mo was rebelling against her sister in law, therefore she was a witch.
Aunty Mo had been horrified at how she had been treated, how she had been talked to in front of her family and she had looked helplessly at her brother to say something.
Ademola had looked away, refusing to speak or comment on the matter. Aunty Mo had slept in the hotel with her family that night.
And it was the last time she had been to their house.
His mother had asked the whole Church to pray for her the following Sunday, her words were, “Please join me in praying for my sister in law, Church. She is currently having a spiritual attack, which I strongly suspect is witchcraft. Please pray for her deliverance.”
And the same prayer point had been incorporated in the family altar too, and years later, they still prayed it.
Jide knew his father would do nothing about his marriage as he had done nothing about the unfair way his only sister was treated years before.
“I’m going to rest.” He said, stood up and picked his plates.
His mother looked at him, a look of worry on her face, “You have been behaving strangely since we returned from Church. Are you okay?”
He nodded and then hurriedly left before she could say anything more. He was met halfway by the maid, who collected his plates and took it into the kitchen.
Jide was restless throughout the whole day, he could not sleep when he tried to, he could not close his eyes when he tried to, he could not think… could not think about anything but Suga spice.
When he shut his eyes, it was her face that he saw, the echo of her infectious laughter was what he heard, the warmth of her skin he could almost feel, the strong masculine scent she always wore infiltrated his senses and suddenly it all took him in.
He slowly began to remember the nights he had tried to blur from his memory. The nights he’d enjoyed but he was not proud of, the nights that would cause his mother to collapse if she ever heard about.
His eyes suddenly flew open. What if she talked? What if she told the girl he saw standing by her side that he guessed she came to church with, everything she knew.
Suga spice was not like him, she was bold, she was feisty, and she was crazy. She did not believe in secrets.
He knew the girl she was with earlier. She worked with his bank and he had seen her face a thousand and one times in Church. He did not have her number but he could get it.
All he needed to do was check her name in the Church member archive.
He hurried out of the room and slipped into his father’s study unseen.
The AC was on and he guessed it was because his father wanted to retire there soon. Ademola usually turned on the AC out of habit before he walked in there to work because he always said he needed it to be cool before he went there.
Jide turned on his computer and went through the archive then he scanned for the girl’s number. He found it on the first page, Sister Akinola Yetunde.
He copied her number, turned off the laptop and quietly left as he had come in.
“His mother keeps boasting about his virginity and how he has kept himself since he was a child and that just makes the whole Church want him more. How can you be so hot and be a virgin?” Yetunde was not going to stop. Jide was the only thing she had talked about all afternoon and now that it was evening, he was still the only thing she chose to discuss.
She was doing it on purpose; Tamilore knew that much because she knew her sister and she knew how she operated.
However, her sister did not know her.
Yetunde might say everything she knew about Jide because she wanted to see some sort of reaction from her but she was smart enough to mask her emotions from her elder sister.
If Yetunde knew how much she knew about her pastor’s son, she would be too shocked to speak for a whole year.
Yetunde’s phone rang, delivering Tamilore from her senseless stories.
“Hello” Yetunde picked the phone and she gasped immediately the caller identified himself, “Its him” she whispered to Tamilore who frowned for a second, before it slowly occurred to her who him was.
“Yes she is here. She is my sister. Suga spice…? Why are you calling her that?” then she looked at Tamilore, “Why is he calling you that?”
Tamilore said nothing and showed nothing as usual. She just stared at her elder sister, expressionless.
Yetunde handed her the phone and then like a hawk watched her while she received the call.
“What type of name is Suga spice? Are you a stripper?”
“Hello? Yeah? No. No. Goodbye.”
The call was short because she had kept it so. He wanted to meet her, probably to tell her not to say anything, like she would. Like she was here in Nigeria because of him.
“You are really not going to tell me where you and this guy know each other from and why he is calling you the name reserved only for strippers?” Yetunde asked incredulously?
“Your nickname was hot chocolate in secondary school, you were not a stripper.” Tamilore said quietly and then shrugged when her sister kept looking at her in total shock, “Just saying.” she added and then walked into the bedroom she had been offered.
“Just know if you keep acting like this you would leave my house.” Yetunde snapped.
Tamilore did not care; she was not going to tell Yetunde anything about her pastor’s son. She couldn’t even if she wanted to; they shared a very dark secret, a secret that would not only ruin Jide’s life but that of his parents and the Church.
The harmattan season was fast approaching and so the rain was giving way to the harsh coldness of the mornings, which was usually replaced by hot sun, scathing to the skin.
Jide was a coward; it was what Tamilore had always told him since they met. The nights when she would laugh with him, play with him…. play with him… He swallowed hard as he unsuccessfully tried to push the image of her mouth on him, he tried but it was hard.
“Coward” he could hear her voice now, accompanied by that laughter of hers. “Let me turn you into a freak, good boy.” she would say and as much as he hated to admit it to himself, he loved it.
He reached for the volume of the radio and increased it, he needed to get rid of the sinful thoughts, they were not good, and they were dirty… He needed some sort of distraction from her… the bloody sinner with whom he shared a secret he was going to do everything to keep.
There was music playing on the radio, he decided that would help him keep his mind off her. It was a song by Chris Brown.
He nodded absentmindedly to the lyrics…
Please don’t judge me and I won’t judge you, cos it could get ugly before it gets beautiful
The song ended and another started. He recognized it from the very first beat; this was the song that would make it harder for him to forget the person he was trying hard to forget.
It was the song that had been playing on the radio the last time they saw, in his friend’s apartment in Manchester, while he saw the struggle she put up to fight the tears, the urge to break down and cry, the urge to plead with him not to walk.
It was a Sally Seltmann song, it was indie rock, it was the type of songs she loved, the type of songs he would never listen to but that she made him love.
She’d played it when his friend had left the room for them to be alone and had sung the lyrics happily, using his friend’s brush as a microphone. He could still see her singing it now, her eyes bright and happy, her lips singing the lyrics that were more than words to her.
…We can do this together, we can, yeah me and you
When you hold me I can see
This is exactly where I wanna be
You’re the harmony to my heartbeat baby
That was the title, Harmony to my heartbeat.
“You’re the harmony to my heartbeat, baby.” she had said meaningfully to him after the song was over and then she had leaned over to him and kissed him. He’d held back, refused to give her his all while taking every single thing she gave.
When he had told her he was leaving, ending whatever it was she thought they had, she had said nothing but when he walked towards the door, she had pleaded with him to stop and listen to the song one last time.
And that was when he saw how much into him she was, how in love with him she had been and how badly he had hurt her.
But he had refused to stay, to change his mind about her, he had left her with all the to clean the mess they both created and he had thought he would never see her again.
I found the lock and the key
Now I can be everything I’ve wanted to be
Got a little dream that’s become a friend for the melody
He shot into the only parking space he could spot in the parking lot of the already filled compound and killed the engine.
She was already waiting for him, her arms folded and her face asking a million and one questions.
“What is going on between you and my sister?” she asked with a frown that deepened with every word she spoke, “I have known you for years, we have never said anything more than hello but now we have spoken more times than we have spoken in all of the years I have known you because of my sister. What’s going on?”
“Nothing” He replied, nothing was going on presently but a whole lot had gone down in the past.
“I need you to give me your house address and please convince her to see me” He could have checked her house address where he checked her number but he had chosen not to. He wanted her to give him herself so she could also convince Suga spice to see him.
“Hmm” was all Yetunde said before she nodded, “Fine. But I don’t subscribe to all of these. Its shady and we are Christians. Christians are not shady people.”
He agreed. They were not shady people; he just needed her to ensure her sister saw him when he came calling by the house later.
She collected his number and sent him a text detailing her house address.
“Thank you” he said to her and left.
Yetunde left the sitting room for them, while she went to receive a call in her bedroom.
He sat opposite her, unable to stare directly into her eyes.
She looked at him, refusing to look away because she knew it made him uncomfortable.
“I just want to make sure you would never tell anybody all the things that happened.” He said to her.
She shrugged, she would not. She did not need to. But she would if she needed to.
What he did not know about her was four years had changed a whole lot about her.
When he met her she was a twenty two year old who was wild and free and who did everything without a care in the world. A twenty two year old who loved breaking rules and doing dangerous things because they made her feel on top of the world.
But now she was a twenty six year old who was full of pain, of hurt, of disappointment. She had a past she was trying so hard to run away from and her future was hazy. He was one of the reasons her life had turned out the way it was.
And now, she would not love him anymore, she would not protect him and she would use anything against him if it would make her feel better. If in a way, it would give her a better future.
“I am an assistant pastor, Suga spice.”
“Tamilore. Don’t call me anything but Tamilore.” she said to him. Her voice was not cold, it was not unwelcoming but it was not warm or welcoming either. She looked like she was just tolerating him, like she would throw him out of the door if he said anything wrong or anything she considered close to wrong.
Jide nodded slowly. She had loved when he called her Suga spice in the past. It was the only thing she wanted him to call her.
“I just don’t want us to do anything that will ruin my life.”
It was still about him, she realized, irritated.
“Please. Are you promising me it would never come out?”
She shrugged and then she stood and walked towards the bedroom.
“Where are you going?” he asked, surprised at the sudden action she took.
“You’re done, Hot Dick.” she replied without facing him.
He stood up and hurried towards her, then he pulled her gently and said, “That. You can’t call me that. Nobody must ever hear you calling me that.”
She looked at him coldly and then said to him, “I will call you what I want, Hot Dick.” then she looked towards the door, slapped his hand off her shoulder and added, “Get out.”
Jide watched the door to her room slam shut behind her and he knew for sure he was in trouble. The woman who loved him with the whole of her was gone and she had been replaced with this unrecognizable person.
He was in deep shit.