//The Submissive Babe//
The first time Elicia ever craved for a father was in 2003. The feeling was raw. As raw as the infection that had landed her in Queens Road Hospital. Her mother caught a few minutes of sleep now and again on the only chair in the room whilst two headed monsters that were scarier than the Weeping Angels – in the first episode of Doctor Who she watched – chased her through dream realms.
“I wish Daddy was here.” She remembered saying to her mother the following day when her body regained some of its strength.
“You know your father is dead, omo mi. Ki lo fe kin se? I can’t bring him back.” Her mother said before turning her head away from her.
Elicia couldn’t remember when she was told about her father dying but she had believed that to be the truth, until three years ago when she overheard a conversation between Alhaji and her mother.
According to her mother, Michael Addo, her father was a Ghanaian man that moved to Lagos in his twenties. He had died whilst her mother was pregnant, the victim of an armed robbery. Taking a bullet to the chest because he chose to defend his pregnant girlfriend.
Yet, having this information didn’t help her need him less. She had sunk into some sort of depression during her early teenage years when her classmates started to bully her. One of them had found a poem she wrote titled Dear Daddy in Heaven. Not fitting in as a black girl in a Northern England school was her first crime. The poem failed to endear her to them. They called her names that made her hate her own reflection. They told her to go and join her father in hell.
“I don’t have a father.” Elicia muttered.
“Babe, what is it?”
Elicia corked her neck to the entrance of the bathroom. Idriss was standing in the doorway with a towel across his taut middle. “I didn’t hear the shower. I will go and catch mine now, bf.” She pulled the white sheet on the bed around her nakedness.
Idriss walked over to her. His upper body was still wet from the shower. Water dripped from him with each step. “I said what is it?”
She shook her head and cracked a small smile. Her eyes didn’t meet his, settling instead on the gold polish on her newly coated nails.
“You know I don’t like it when you shut me out and try to act as if everything is fine.” He touched her chin, tilting her head up. “I am sorry if I have hurt you. I’m trying to be a better man. Just say something. Get angry. Ask questions like most girls do.”
Elicia’s gaze shifted to his face. He had told her once or twice that he didn’t like women whose eyes wandered during conversations. “I’m not angry with you. You are perfect.” She picked the hems of the sheet and tied it around her tighter. “I’m angry because of my mother and Alhaji. She called me…She is thinking of moving in with him.”
“I suffered, Idriss. Yet, I’m supposed to accept him now that he is ready to be my father. He hasn’t even apologised for making me think I was fatherless when he was too busy playing happy families with Anu and her mother.”
“You don’t have to accept him. As far as you are concerned your father died several years ago.” Idriss reached for her hands. “Wait a minute. Did your mum actually have a Ghanaian boyfriend? I mean did the Ghanaian dad exist at all?”
“What do you think?” She lowered her voice despite feeling the need to yell. It would be wrong to blame Idriss for the sins of another man. “I carried the photo of a total stranger in my bag for years. I have no idea where she got the photo from.”
Idriss pulled her up to himself. She rested her head on his half-wet chest, fighting the urge to tell him leaving her was no option. He had cheated before. There was that cheap lingering perfume that made her queasy in his bed. That was four weeks into their relationship. True to the lessons learnt about men courtesy of her mother’s mistakes, rather than confront him and drive him into the waiting arms of the one night replacement, she had cooked him a sumptuous breakfast in the morning and spent the rest of the day reminding him how much her long legs thrilled him.
She fought the overwhelming gush of excitement that travelled to her middle when he wrapped his hands around her waist. Despite wanting him right there, she resisted. A good opportunity to grab his sympathy had risen out of nowhere; she couldn’t afford to waste it.
What would be the point of going through the childhood she had if the sympathy that could be squeezed out of him was left to waste away?
“When I found out, Idriss… she told me she was already pregnant with me when she moved back briefly to Nigeria. Alhaji told her to move back to Lagos and pretend that she’d met someone there.”
“I suppose that is because Anu’s mother and yours knew each other. He didn’t want his wife getting suspicious. Alhaji must have forced your mother to do it.”
“My mother is worse than Alhaji, you know.” She hated that people tended to feel sorry for her mother. She wasn’t a poor single mother who found herself in that situation. Her mother chose to spend half of her life waiting for Alhaji, working for him for almost nothing to stay in his heart.
“Bf, she brought a Ghanaian woman to the house years ago and introduced her to me as my aunt. The woman even came that Christmas and brought presents. I asked Mum about my dad’s relatives and she brought that woman.”
“I think you should discuss all this with your mother.” Idriss said. “If you don’t, it will eat you up.”
“Thanks for listening. I have heard you future hubby. Now, would you join me in the shower darling?”
“Would I refuse?” He kissed her lips, and then pulled away.
Elicia let him pull away. She wouldn’t be having a shower anytime soon if he didn’t. His body had already been awoken by their close proximity, the evidence straining against the towel.
“Shey, you have taken your pill today. Remember I said you should still take them until you finish uni.”
“Yes, your lordship,” she curtsied teasingly, wondering if steamy rooms were good to make babies in. “Now, come scrub my back in the shower. Then I can thank you if you do a good job.”
Idriss parked his car and sauntered towards Aspire Estate Agents on Monday with a face that mirrored his mind. A stone-cold one. That was the countenance he needed to tell Anu that they would leave what happened between them in London and work together. That the past would be the past, and they would work towards the present.
Emeka’s question yesterday evening had haunted him. Persuaded him to sort his mess.
How would you feel if a boy was doing what you are doing to your daughter? Two-timing her with her friend? Emeka had asked.
He had failed Kanyinsola twice before she arrived. Asking her teenage mother to visit a self-certified doctor on the mainland with him and walking away when she refused. Walking away had seemed like the easiest thing to do. It was better than having to explain how he planned to raise his child on no income to Kanyinsola’s grandparents.
He didn’t have a relationship with his daughter, having left it too late before he started caring. Yet, the thought of his daughter meeting a man half as bad as him terrified him.
That was why he decided to choose the sister he wanted. He didn’t like Anu’s coldness. She sometimes acted like a woman that had been left wrought by life.
Elicia’s liveliness suited him. It prevented his past from weighing him down. He loved her submissiveness too, the way she asked for his opinion even about things that shouldn’t matter. They fitted perfectly because she always seemed willing to be whatever he needed. He couldn’t guarantee that he would marry her but for now, they would have fun.
The tables in the main office at Aspire Estate Agents were all deserted. The young girl that Anu interviewed last week for the temporary administrator role was peering down at a spreadsheet on her table. Idriss concluded that Kaz and James were out as he hadn’t spotted the former’s car outside.
Walking past the temporary administrator’s desk, acknowledging her greeting with a slight nod of the head, he opened the door of the inner office and started to ramble.
“Anu, we have to sort this…” Idriss trailed off when he saw James in the office.
James looked up from his phone. He was standing beside the only table in the room. The office was seldom used. Anu had told him once she preferred to sit with her team in the main office.
“You are not Anu.” Idriss said.
James regarded him with friendly, light green eyes that gleamed in the partially lit room. “No. There is the small matter of gender and race.”
“I’m sorry. My bad. Good morning Mr Phillips.”
“Morning boss.” James put his phone in his jacket’s pocket. “Don’t tell the other boss I was on the phone again. Just texting the weekend bird.” He sighed. “I gave her the wrong number. Unfortunately, I think she went through my phone when I fell asleep. I have had a hundred text messages and missed calls since Saturday morning.”
“Wow. She is one of them chicks.”
“So, I have sent her a text from my second phone. Pretended to be a friend.”
Idriss didn’t ask what message he’d sent the girl. He was sure he would be crossing professional boundaries by asking. The first time he met the team, James was the person he thought would never take to him. Anu had told him later on to use the common interest they shared. “You are both obsessed with women,” she had quipped, “Not my business how you develop a working relationship with him. Just get to know him.”
“I texted her.” Jame continued, his tone teemed with excitement. “I pretended to be my friend saying I have been diagnosed with an infectious disease and in enforced quarantine.” James tapped the side of his head. “No more one night chicks for me.”
Idriss chuckled. He remembered when he swapped girls with the same frequency he changed his shirts too. When the money came, it had seemed like the natural thing to do. Gorging on different shades and sizes like a man starved of affection. He wasn’t a monk when he had no money but he couldn’t get access to the type of women he wanted either. So he had settled for the desperate types. And there were plenty of them, willing to pay his rent to have him.
“The boss is not in until much later by the way.”
“She is attending a conference with Kaz at the town hall.” James said. “All the big housing associations, councillors and the MP will be there. She sent a group email out early this morning. Don’t worry, she will be back soon.” He added, grinning.
Although, Anu and Kaz came back from the meeting around lunch time, he didn’t get a chance to be alone with her until everyone else had left the office at closing time. She was battering the PC at the reception desk, typing with all her fingers when he walked over to her with a bottle of water.
“Here, drink this.” Idriss put the bottle on the table. “You haven’t stopped since this morning.”
“You mean I haven’t treated you like a king. I’m busy, that’s all.”
“Are you saying you would treat me like a king if you were not busy?” He smirked and then rested his arms on the table. She had stopped typing; her face was squeezed tight as if she was trying not to smile. “I want us to put London behind us. I promised Alhaji I would look after you.”
“So, seducing women is how you look after them?” She rolled her eyes. “I wasn’t thinking straight but I can definitely look after myself.”
“You wanted me too, Aisha.”
“Don’t call me Aisha. You know only my dad calls me Aisha.” Taking the lid off the bottle, she took a sip of the water and took her time screwing the lid back on. “We can be civil with each other… I was in a bad place so I wasn’t thinking straight. I used you. You were good, I had fun. End of story.”
He gawked at her. How could she be so cold?
She was staring out through the gallery-window now. He followed the direction of her stare outside where a man in a grey suit was alighting from a rare convertible model. The man held a bouquet of yellow and pink flowers in one hand and a white plastic bag in the other.
“Who is he?”
“Bradley. My ex.” Anu rose from her seat. “Can we do this another time? Bradley is in town and I haven’t seen him in a while.”
It wasn’t the way she spoke to him that bothered him. It was the way she glared at him, so that he had no choice but to get his car keys and laptop bag. Whoever this Bradley was, he meant something to Anu. As he stepped to the side to let the man come in, Idriss decided he wasn’t going to like him. He walked to his car with pursed lips.
Perhaps it was the appearance of the man with the sapphire eyes but he suddenly felt glad that he had taken Elicia’s advice and bought a house in the centre of the town. He would be everywhere Anu went. Getting her in his bed again would be easy. He hated losing and even though he wasn’t sure if his desire for her was completely related to his need to hurt Alhaji, he swore to get his hands around her waist again.