Sorry about the wait for this episode. Have a blessed week.
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//The Secret is Out//
They were in Idriss’ house –a huge modern detached house with a spacious, glass extension at the front and a rich, country garden at its rear. He had bought the house five weeks ago after declaring he would never go back to the house he shared with Elicia, and selling it at significant loss.
“I’m fine.” Anu purred against his chest.
He had led her to the room opposite his and was helping her unzip her dress when he started to help his eyes and hands too.
“I can do it myself.” She held the hem of her dress with one hand to her chest to stop it from sliding down. “Was my father’s car in front of the house when we drove past? I hope no one saw us arrive.” It had shocked her when he bought a house on the same street she grew up on. And she had assumed then that, it was his way of telling her that he didn’t want to reignite the moment they had when he got diagnosed with HIV.
He frowned and glared down at her. His hands, around her waist stayed there but the affection his eyes held moments ago, dulled.
“We are having a child together and yet you are still scared of what your family will say.”
“You know why. Elicia is my sister and …”
“Don’t say her name.”
“You can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.”
“Don’t go there.”
“But it happened.”
He let go of her, took a couple of steps towards the door and stopped. “I know it happened because I’m the guy who is left with the reminder. I’m the one who can’t make love to the woman I love because I might infect her. I’m the one who has to act like a mug after what that evil thing did to me because you and her mother are trying to protect her.”
She went after him and placed a palm on his chest. “It isn’t about protecting her. Think about what this will do to my father if he finds out.”
“Aisha, if we don’t tell him he will never say yes to me and you.”
“Try. That’s all we can do.”
“Does that mean you will give us a chance? The three of us can be a family?”
“You just said you love me.”
“And I notice you haven’t said it back.” He narrowed his eyes at her, jutting his chin out in pretend annoyance.” You Jand girls and your swag. On top say I don knock you up, you still dey do shakara.”
He bent his neck and kissed her. This time he didn’t have to part her lips with his tongue. Every inch of her surrendered to him. Her hand had let go of her dress when he tore his lips away from her. He grabbed the hem of the dress and searched her with his eyes.
“I can’t. Not whilst I’m pregnant. I will be ready to be with you like that once I have had the baby.”
“I will be right in front of the labour ward, ready to whisk you off as soon as you have popped the child out.”
She laughed louder than him. “We can hire a nanny and go to Paris for a week.”
He kissed her forehead, peering down at her like an adult would a naughty child. “Let me go for a very long shower before you put ideas in my head.”
After his shower, he found her in his bedroom bending over his work bag.
“What are you doing?” He placed the tub of ice cream he had gone downstairs to get for her on the dressing table and then took his bag from her hands. Her eyes dug into him as he painted on a grin that was supposed to undo the harshness of his tone. “You shouldn’t be bending down like that. You are pregnant, darling.”
He watched as she ambled to the dressing table, picked up the tub and spoon, then started making her way towards the door.
“Aisha, where are you going?”
“To the spare room.”
“I thought we agreed you would sleep here.” He placed the bag on the floor and patted the side of the bed. “Come to bed. Please. I’m sorry for shouting.”
She had on his Hugo Boss shirt, sleeves tucked right through to her elbows, legs on display to her upper thighs. Her eyes were on the bed when she eventually spoke.
“I was looking for your tablet so I could email the photographer about the new properties we have taken on. My phone is playing up.”
“I did it before we left the office.” He walked over to her and led her to the bed. “Sorry.”
“What don’t you want me to see in your bag? Is there anything in there?”
“No,” he thought of the gun in the side compartment of his bag, the one Ikumapayi’s contact got him and stroked her neck.
He did it for her.
Was he supposed to let Elicia sneak in and take away his child and her mother?
The girl had managed to persuade her mother and sister that she felt some kind of remorse about her actions when a day hadn’t gone past without him getting several calls from her. He would ignore them and then the explicit photos would follow. Photos of her naked body in various positions. He had also spotted her car in front of his house twice.
“Trust me, Aisha.” He took the tub from her hands, opened it and passed it to her.
He took off his dressing gown, hung it on the wardrobe door and got under the covers. He had wanted to go back into his en-suite bathroom to dab some aftershave on but decided against it, knowing she would probably open up his bag then. Trying to ignore the stabbing sounds Anu’s spoon did instead of the scooping did not help him relax. “Come here, Aisha.”
“Let me eat some of this first.” She paused for a moment. “Listen. I have changed my mind about the car. I’m sure your dealer won’t mind. Can you transfer my money back into my account?”
“You need to buy that car, baby. How are you going to cope when our child arrives?” The question he really wanted to ask was why she would even consider giving her sister money. Earlier, after turning off the shower, he had caught the end of what appeared to be a conversation with her sister. “Don’t worry, sis. I will sort it,” was what Anu said but it was the endearment in her voice that made him angry. Now, she was lying to him for the same woman that tried to ruin his life.
“I’m not ready to start driving again.”
“Okay, I will try to do the transfer tomorrow. I’m tired, I need to sleep. Please come to bed.” He knew she wanted to give some of the money to Elicia and wondered what his wife wanted to do with it. He knew for sure that whatever Elicia wanted to do with it would not be good. So, he reconciled himself with seeing Anu like that. He would not transfer the money back to her. No way.
Anu had sidled under the duvet. She was now sat up, her back leaning on the headboard, her eyes focused on her ice cream.
“Can I get something sweet Aisha?” He asked, referring to a hug or a kiss.
She scooped up some ice cream and poured it down his mouth before he could stop her. She laughed whilst he tried not to sputter.
“You asked for something sweet.” She said as she straightened her arm and placed the tub on the lamp table. Afterwards, she got under the duvet.
He edged towards her and kissed her cheek. “Trust goes both ways.”
“I’m the one putting myself on the line here. The one who stands to lose her family.”
“What about our own family, Aisha?”
She was quiet for a while, then she sighed. “I just want to be able to say I trust you. There is no point going into this relationship if I can’t lean on you.”
“Okay, darling.” What he had to do wouldn’t be easy but he would have to tell her the truth. What Alhaji did to him. Perhaps she would come to trust him after this. “When I have spoken to your father tomorrow, I will come to your flat. We will talk then. I will tell you everything you want to know.”
Elicia couldn’t resist banging on the flat’s door as she waited for her mother to let her in. The thump thump sound matched the noise in her head. The noise that followed every disappointment, like the one she just experienced with her sister. It had hurt like hell because Idriss was present and enjoyed seeing her embarrassed. She could hear them now, laughing.
“Calm down, Eli.” Her mother opened the door and shifted to the side for her to come in. “Did you lose your key again?”
“I flung my bag in anger at my husband. That’s what happened!” Elicia blinked and wiped sweat off her brows. She threw her near empty bag on the sofa. “I had to walk home. I ran out of petrol.”
“Didn’t your sister give you the money she promised?”
“I told you she would let me down. Idriss was there. He’d gotten in her head. All I asked for was ten grand, Mum.”
Her mother hastened over. Elicia strode to the window before she could open her mouth. “What do you need that kind of money for anyway? I thought you wanted a bit of money to tidy you over for a while so that you can get your life back on track. Please, Elicia. What is going on?”
“I need to fix something. Someone, mum.” She sat on the sofa and pushed her legs down to stop them from twitching. Her anxiety had become a nightmare. Taunting her awake at night and weighing her down during the day.
Her mother sat next to her. “Why don’t you give your sister sometime? Or I can even try to beg Idriss to give you some money so you can go and start alone in London. Please Eli. I will come with you and spend some weeks with you.”
“I have lost everything mum.” She choked up as tears filled her eyes. “I’m tired of seeing him walking around town with my own sister.”
“We will go away, girl. Hopefully, Idriss will agree to give you some money. Please, Eli, give me time to arrange it. Don’t approach him. I will sort it.” She reached for her hand and squeezed it. “Okay?”
Idriss had been talking for the past few minutes but he felt like a clown under Alhaji’s glare. The man had taken off his glasses a minute ago before folding up his arms. He didn’t need Emeka shifting in his seat to tell him this wasn’t going the way they had hoped.
“Are you drunk?” Alhaji asked, stunning him into silence. The older man’s laughter echoed through the whole house. It was the malicious one they used to get in those days –when he announced that he wouldn’t be able to pay them at the end of the month.
Idriss gazed at Anu’s graduation photo on the wall. He wondered if she would ever realise what length he would go to for her. He was on the floor before he could stop himself. Flatter than the flooring. Emeka followed suit and prostrated.
“Get off the floor and get out. Yes. You and your useless friend.” Alhaji was on his feet. His eyes searched the room for something.
Idriss got off the floor and gestured to Emeka when Alhaji reached for the empty bowl on his stool.
“I will break this on your head and show you years in the white man’s land have not made me soft. How can you come here to tell me you want to marry Aisha months after I gave you her sister? Would you dare ask this if we were back home?”
“It is your fault my mother died. What have I done to you? Have I taken anyone away from you? No.”
Emeka was softly calling out his name but his face had heat up and the feelings he had caged up for years had forced their way to the surface. He couldn’t stop himself even if he tried. He wanted to pick Alhaji up and shake him until each bone in his body broke.
“E gba mi,” Alhaji spread his hands out towards Emeka. “How could I have killed a woman I never met? Since when have I started mixing with illiterates?”
“You refused to pay us for three months,” Idriss shouted so loud, a dog down the street started barking. “I came here to beg you Alhaji. I prostrated on the floor like I did now. I didn’t call you Alhaji back then, remember. I called you Uncle. My mother was ill, the only family I had left. I came to beg you for the money you owed me. And I was still here waiting when Aisha’s mother came downstairs and you gave her four hundred pounds for Aisha at the university. I heard the woman say, Alhaji, Anu said she doesn’t need any money.”
Alhaji had sat back down in his armchair. This time though, he occupied the edge of the seat. His eyes shifted from one man to the other. His mouth hung open but no sound came from it for a while.
“You mean all this while whilst I opened my door for you, all you have done is plot my downfall.”
“What downfall?” Idriss laughed. A dark laughter that travelled from wall to wall and bounced back. “This man did not have a penny left when he asked me to invest in his company. Do you know I own half of the company? Not what he begged me to tell Aisha because he didn’t want to disappoint her.” He addressed Emeka whose face now wore a disapproving frown. Slowly, he walked over to the man and placed his palm on one of his shoulders. “There are things that you don’t want your precious daughter to know. For example, how do you think she will feel if she finds out your secondary aim of bringing me here was so that she would fall for me. You wanted to break her and Bradley up permanently.”
“I didn’t know you were already with Elicia.”
“I know Aisha is precious to you. This is why I will give you the opportunity to do the right thing. When she asks how you feel about our situation, you will give your blessing. Don’t let me bring the weight of the world on your head.”
Outside, he was breathless. His eyes were blurred from anger and he was glad that Emeka stopped him from getting in the driver’s seat.
“Was all that necessary?” Emeka asked. “How do you think Anu would have felt if she had seen you talking to her father like that? You need to chill, dude.”
“Did you hear what he called my mother? Did you?” He got in the passengers’ seat and answered the phone after seeing the identity of the caller on the screen. He didn’t want to lose his opportunity to shout at her. His mood was perfect for it.
His wife’s voice was the usual soft one. She asked him how he was before proceeding to say she and her mother would like to see him soon. They wanted to apologise.
“That won’t be necessary,” he interrupted the start of a poorly-structured apology. “I don’t want to see you or your mother. I have a good woman now and I have just had a meeting with your father. Soon, I will send you a wedding invite. Your father can’t wait for me to marry the better daughter. Your sister can’t wait too. She will give me the children you couldn’t give me.”
“Have you not punished me enough, Idriss? You hurt me too. You did. You betrayed me. Now, you are daring me to do my worst. Don’t worry, I will. Good Elicia is gone. Bad Elicia is here.”
Idriss hung up. He could feel Emeka’s eyes on him when he put the phone away.
“Idriss, shey you know say crazy or no crazy, this thing no go sweet for Elicia’s body at all. She is going to see the man that left her, at every family occasion for the rest of her life. Perhaps you should go easy on her. Her life is going nowhere.”
“And so? Am I not the man that now has to sleep next to Anu like a mumu. Until she has the baby dude! Do you know last night I barely slept?”
“Na so you dey miss the thing? Uche made me wait for a whole year. I never die. I never go mad.”
“Well, last time I checked I’m Idriss Akinwale not Emeka. Let that woman bring war, I’m ready for her.”
Anu heaved herself up and tapped to open the email. She wondered why her sister sent her an email instead of a text to thank her. Moments ago, she had transferred the ten thousand pounds her sister asked for, from the savings account she set up for her baby.
Now as her eyes scanned the attachment before her, she found herself sitting up. The heading, HOW TO AVENGE MOTHER’S DEATH did not make any sense but the first bullet point did. She stared at it again and again until the words blurred into each other.
- USE HIS PRECIOUS AISHA TO GET TO HIM. HIS DAUGHTER’S LIFE FOR MY MOTHER’S.