“Don’t go that way. We aren’t going home yet. Go through the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge.” Otunba said.
“We dey go Madam Nike house?” The driver asked.
Otunba ignored him. The driver indicated to the other side of the road then took a u-turn and headed towards the bridge. Otunba took out his phone and called Nike when they approached the toll gate. She answered it immediately.
“Hello.” Nike said.
“Darling. How are you?” He laughed.
“I’m okay. Have you landed in Lagos?”
“Yes. I really did miss you.” He said.
She giggled. She blushed.
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. And to prove that I am already on Admiralty way. I am almost at your place.”
She let out a little scream of excitement.
“I didn’t know! What do you want to have for dinner?” She said. “Lade and I ordered pizza and I let my cook have the day off.”
“Pounded yam and Egusi soup with bush meat.”
“You’re joking, right.”
“Don’t mind me. Maybe something light though, but if it’s any trouble I can just call Torera to ask the cook to make me something.”
“Boiled plantain and vegetable?”
“Perfect.” He said.
Her security man opened the brown gate of Nike’s house and Otunba’s driver drove in and parked the G-wagon. Nike walked out through the front door and hurried over to her fiancé. The driver excused them and joined the security man at the security post, obviously having one or two things to gossip about the couple with his colleague.
“Come here darling. I missed you.” Otunba pulled Nike into his arms and held her for a few seconds.
She looked up into his face and kissed his chin.
“How was your flight?” She said.
“How was Abuja too? Business meeting went well?”
“Yes. It did.”
They walked into the house, hand in hand. Lade was in the living room, watching a match on TV. Otunba felt a little awkwardness the minute their eyes met; his and his proposed step son.
The silence was stretching too long. Nike intervened.
“Lade…you can see Mr. Tafa here, can’t you?” She said to her son.
Lade rolled his eyes and stood on his feet.
“Hi, Mr. Tafa.” He said.
Nike shook her head.
“What is that?! Where are your manners, boy?” She raised her voice.
Otunba placed a hand over her shoulder and tried to calm her down.
“It’s okay, Nike.” He whispered.
Lade dropped the TV remote on the couch and headed for the staircase. As usual, he was going to lock himself up in his bedroom.
Otunba took a seat and Nike sat beside him on the arm rest.
“I am stressed. Lade is stressing me out. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know if to just hand him over to his father’s people and move on with my life.”
Otunba placed a finger over her lips and hushed her up.
“You can’t give up on your son. He needs you even if he doesn’t show it.” He said.
“What would I do without you?” She said. Her eyes were becoming glassy.
“Uh—oh cry baby in the building.” He teased.
Nike tugged at his white goatee and punched his arm playfully.
“I just started boiling the plantain. I want the vegetable to defrost a little before warming it.” She said.
“It’s okay.” He smiled.
“By the way, Toju was in Abuja too. She must have landed in Lagos by now. I should give her a call. I really need to make it up to her.” Nike said.
Otunba looked at her immediately.
“Oh..Toju…” He stuttered a little.
“We talked. She says we need to talk. And I know since I started the wedding plans I have been acting kind of selfish and only talking about myself and my life and all that…”
“Talk? Talk about what?” Otunba was a little uneasy.
Nike looked at him, frowning.
“What’s wrong?” She asked.
“Nothing. Why?” He looked away.
His phone started to ring. It was a timely distraction. He picked it up straightaway and answered the call. It was from Torera.
“Hey princess.” He said.
“Daddy! Are you home?” She sobbed.
Otunba jerked and got up.
“Are you okay? Why are you crying? Nibo lo wa?” (where are you?)
“I’m in a taxi. I’m on the way home.” She sniffed.
“What’s the matter? Where is your car?” He asked. He was trying not to think the worst or panic.
“It’s at the office. I’ll explain everything to you. Are you home yet?”
“I’m on my way. Where are you exactly? We will pick you up.”
“I’m around um…Civic centre. Where are you?”
“I’m at Lekki.”
“Oh. Say hello to Nike.” She said and ended the call.
Otunba grabbed his note pad from her coffee table immediately.
“I have to go.” He said.
“Is everything okay?” Nike asked, getting up.
He shook his head.
“I really don’t know right now. That’s why I have to go.” He said hurriedly and dashed out the door, shouting the name of his driver. His phone started to ring again.
“Princess, where are you? I’m on my way.” He said.
There was a little silence.
“Um…hi. I’m back in Lagos.” She said.
“Uh…” Otunba looked at the caller I.D. It was Toju.
He was chasing after her but some way along the line, he lost track of the Toyota that Ugochi was driving like a maniac that she was. The traffic light stopped him. He didn’t wait for the light to turn green before he stepped on the accelerator. Past the toll gate, he got stuck in another stretch of traffic. Beggars and hawkers flocked the road moving from one vehicle to the other. A few beggars came to his but he ignored them. A little boy with a plastic bottle with a mish-mash of some lathered liquid and a wiper jumped in front of his vehicle and started to sprinkle the liquid content on the windshield of his car, blurring his vision.
“Are you crazy?!” Ayo wound down and raised his voice at the top of his lungs.
The little boy continued to spray the content and wipe with his brush.
“Idiot!” Ayo yelled. He put on his sprinkler and wiper and honked repeatedly.
The little boy retreated and started to approach the car on the other lane. He was not more than seven years old or eight at most. Ayo exhaled. He was starting to have a headache.
“God forgive me.” He whispered. He tucked his hand in his pocket and brought out a two hundred Naira note. He honked again and wound down, calling the boy. The little boy and two others ran towards him. He gave the boy the note and soon enough, two adults came and bullied it away from him.
The security man opened the gate and Ayo sped into the drive way. The Toyota was parked already. He grabbed his phone and rushed out of the car. The entrance door was locked. His bunch was still in the pigeon hole of the car. He hit the door.
“Ugochi! Ugochi!” He yelled.
There was still no response.
He ran to the car and snatched his keys then rushed back to the door and opened it. Ugochi was in the kitchen drinking from a glass of water.
“I was knocking.” He said.
She looked at him. He felt stupid instantly.
“Welcome.” She respectfully greeted him with all shades of sarcasm.
Ayo looked away. He did not care for her respect at the time.
“Where’s my wife?” He asked.
“Your wife?” Ugochi said.
Ugochi laughed, clapping her hands repeatedly.
Ayo hissed and dashed towards their bedroom. He forced the door open and walked in.
She sat on the bed, crying with so much pain. He could literally feel the pain in her heart. The pain he had caused her. He moved closer to her and placed his hand on her shoulder.
“Baby…” He started.
Muna turned around immediately and pushed him.
“Stay away from me!” She pointed a finger at him. Her face was red already. Her nose was extremely red.
“Babe…” He went on his knees beside her, holding her legs. “I am so sorry. Munachi please. Please hear me out.”
“Hear you out. Are you for real, Ayotunde?” Muna yelled.
“I’m sorry. I need you to listen to me, please. I am sorry Munachi.”
She wiped the tears that were falling from her eyes.
“I am tired. I can’t do this anymore. I am fed up! Marriage should not be like this. I deserve some happiness and peace of mind. Ayo, because of you I have cried this morning. Because of you I am crying this night again. I was going to make myself happy today no matter what but you have won!”
She grabbed the throw pillow on the bed and threw it at him in anger. She grabbed her shawl and wrapped it around his head.
“Here is your crown. Your medal! You have succeeded in making me miserable, Ayo. Thank you!” She cried.
Her fingers started to shake as she wiped the tears from her face. Ayo started to feel the tears in his eyes too. He held on to her waist.
“I need you, please.” He said. His voice croaked.
“Go back to her! You have been lying to me. I asked you and you said I was paranoid and didn’t trust you. You made me feel so stupid. But hey, you were sleeping with her all along. What did you tell her about me? You told her I was raped yeah? You told her that Kayla and Keith are not your kids right? You…”
Ayo held her tighter. He couldn’t hold back the wateriness of his eyes.
“I did not. I could not have.” He said.
“Did you sleep with her?” She asked.
Ayo looked at her. He shook his head in the negative.
“I did not. I did not have sex with Torera.” He said.
“Do you have feelings for her? Are you attracted to her?” Muna asked again.
Ayo swallowed some saliva. His throat was dry.
“Wh—what did you say?” He said.
Muna shook her head. She knew her husband too well. He stuttered when he lied.
“Ayo get out!” She pointed at the door. She rushed to the closet, dragged a small travel bag and started to throw some clothes into it.
“Where are you going to? Muna…” He said.
She hissed and eyeballed him.
“Yes. Yes I am.” He said, shutting his eyes.
“Yes what?” She said.
“I am attracted to her.” He said.
Muna’s phone dropped from her hand. She knew the screen had cracked from the impact on the tiled floor. But she did not mind. Her mind was too clouded for such frivolities. She sniffed again, wiping more tears. She shoved more clothes into the duffel bag, panting heavily.
“Muna…I felt rejected. You didn’t trust me. I just wanted her as a distraction. I didn’t want to resort to alcohol or something stupid. We were always fighting and I just couldn’t get to communicate with you anymore…You always said I was having an affair with her even when I wasn’t. It kind of pushed me to her…”
She turned around.
“So I pushed you. Is that what you are telling me?”
He shook his head. He was confused.
“Do you love her?” Muna asked.
“No! No I don’t! She was just a distraction! Muna you are my wife.”
“And having distractions is supposed to be okay with me?”
“No!” He rushed to her side and held her. She pushed him aside.
“I…I think I need some space for some time.” She said.
Ayo opened his mouth.
“Space? Muna we can’t do space.”
“I just want to go home. I am tired.”
“Baby this is your home! I am your home.”
(*Insert Sam Smith’s Stay with me- sorry just kidding. This is purely Fisayo. Not part of the story.)
“I just want to go away for some time.”
Ayo tried to hold her again but she walked away.
He took in a deep breath and ran his hand over his head.
“I can’t let you go. I’ll leave instead.” He said. “It’s too dangerous leaving this night and I can’t let that happen. I’ll give you some space if that is what you want. I can’t promise that I won’t call you. I can’t live without you…” He said.
Muna’s lips quivered. She didn’t want to turn around to look at him. She loved him and she believed him. She knew what he said was true. She knew she had been picking unnecessary fights with him.
She was quiet. She didn’t say a thing.
“I love you. Always know that.” He said. He picked up his car keys and reached for the door. She heard him walk to the living room. She dropped the clothes in her hand and ran to the living room. Ugochi was sitting on the couch.
“So you’re going back to her, right?” Muna said.
Ayo turned immediately.
“Uh—what?” He said.
“You’re going back to Torera. This is the space you want. And you’re happy to leave.” She said.
Ayo was confused.
“You asked me to get out. You said you wanted space. I’m just trying to…” He stuttered, trying to find the words to explain himself. Words failed him.
“I can’t deal with this!” Muna raised her hands and walked back into the bedroom.
Ayo was lost. He looked at Ugochi, puzzled. Ugochi laughed and motioned for him to go after Muna. He rushed into the room.
“I’m sorry. I thought you wanted me to…” He said.
She was lying in one corner of the bed. He wanted to cuddle her and hold her.
“Leave me alone, please.” Muna said.
Ayo nodded and shook his head at the same time. He didn’t know if she wanted him to leave or not. Women. After minutes of her silence, he went back to the living room. Ugochi had left.
It was about 2.a.m in the morning when he opened his eyes. It was a bit chilly but he still perspired in his underarms and neck. There was still power. PHCN had not acted yet. He stood up, stretched out and yawned. He had dozed off on the couch in the living room. The bottle of water and glass cup he had taken from the kitchen earlier were still on the coffee table. He picked up his phone. He had four missed calls. None from Torera. He knew he had to apologize to her. He had used her and he knew it. He had taken advantage of her loneliness and desperation to satisfy the void he was feeling at the time…although he had to admit that a part of him enjoyed Torera’s company and a lot of memories from the past got him feeling some type of way. But the future he had with Munachi…he couldn’t compromise that with memories with Torera. He was not a stupid man, even if he had lacked the right discretion in putting his house in order.
He walked to the bedroom and opened the door. The lights were still on. Muna had dozed off too. Her duffel bag was still sprawled out on the shaggy rug at the end of the bed. He took off his shirt and turned off the lights then he went under the duvet beside his wife. He heard the soft rise and fall of her breathing. He snuggled closer and put his head on her chest, laying in the rise and fall of it. He heard the rhythm of her heart beat. He did not want to fall out of the rhythm and melody they created together. He loved this woman and if he had any doubts, the entire incident just confirmed that he would never leave her.
He felt her hand over his head and on his ear lobe. He smiled. He knew he was forgiven.
She was on her second bowl of Ben and Jerry’s. Adele’s Someone Like You played from her mac book. She was under the covers, still in her pajamas. It was bright already but her blinds were shut. She had switched off her phone since that night. It was the third day. And it was not good.
Her father had comforted her and told her he was disappointed in Ayo for leading her on. He told her she was a princess and any man would be lucky to have her. But where were all the men? Didn’t they want to be lucky? Why were they not coming her way?
The door was flanked ajar and the sound of Enitan’s voice forced Torera to sit up straight. Enitan was on the phone.
“I said shut up, Emeka!” She yelled.
Torera shook her head. Emeka was Enitan’s on again and off again boyfriend. They had been together for about five months and counting.
“I said my friend saw you with a girl at the club on Friday! You told me you were going to Port Harcourt! You’re such a liar!” Enitan screamed.
Never Mind I’ll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best…
The song continued to play. The next song on her playlist was Fergie’s Big girls don’t cry. Perfect.
“Emeka you know I am not that stupid. You expect me to believe that she is your cousin? So you now kiss your cousin abi. Anyway no wahala…okay. Yes now. Okay. You’re mad.”
Enitan shook her head, yelled some more then sighed.
“I love you too. We will settle later. I need to attend to Torera. Bye. Do you have food at home? I’ll stop by when I leave here.”
She ended the call and put the phone on Torera’s dressing table.
Torera looked at Enitan. She was lost. What kind of relationship was that?! But it was Enitan. Her life was full of drama.
“Look at you.” Enitan said.
Torera rolled her eyes. She didn’t want the judgment card again.
“I’m sorry okay. You were right. He loves his wife and he left me. I know you warned me. Please just don’t rub it in.” Torera said.
Enitan hissed. She walked to the windows and opened the blinds. The sun rays gushed into the room. Torera ducked under the duvet.
“Girl, what’s wrong with you?” Enitan said. She pulled the duvet away.
Torera covered her eyes with her hands.
“I’m just fed up. Am I not good enough? Why does this keep happening?”
“You just have to forget about it. That Ayo is an idiot. I wish I can give him a piece of my mind. All these Yoruba demons.” Enitan said.
“It’s okay. I should have known better.” Torera said.
“Good girl. So, guess what.”
Torera looked at her.
“I met someone in Abuja.”
“Wait. How was your conference?” Torera asked.
“Thank you for finally asking. It went well. Everyone clapped at my speech and session. I felt so…so fulfilled. So many people are stuck in careers doing things they don’t want to do or have no business doing. Most people are in careers because their parents are forcing them to or because they just need the money. There is so much power in entrepreneurship and doing what you are passionate about.” Enitan said.
“Hmm…you’re right.” Torera smiled.
“Yeah. My speech was so good that one of the organizers walked up to me and said he wanted to partner with me. And he seemed like a great guy. Suave, handsome, and very sexy.” She laughed.
Torera shook her head.
Enitan walked over to the computer and stopped the music.
“This will kill my spirit!” She yelled.
She walked into the open space. Her skirt was a bit tight but she loved the favour it did for her figure. She searched the room with her eyes. Then she saw him standing and waving. She smiled as she consciously cat walked to his table. Their table. He smiled and hugged her then kissed her on each cheek. He pulled the chair for her to sit.
He had a beautiful and unstained British accent. His name was Tunde Adeogun. He was the son of Chief Yemi Adeogun, one of her father’s business partners. Tunde and his father were also members of the board of directors of Otunba Tafa’s firm.
Her father had hooked them up. Their fathers actually. He owned his own law firm. He had just set up his practice in Lagos and had employed a few hands but he was reeking in the big bucks from his many land transactions and commercial contracts. Otunba Tafa’s firm was looking to expand as a parent company to house a number of other subsidiaries and Tunde was doing the paper work and all requisite registrations with the regulatory authorities.
“I brought the documents which you would need to sign. We need two directors to sign on some and we need a director and the company secretary to sign on others.” He said.
Torera nodded, taking the big brown envelope containing the documents from him.
“I’ll show everything to the Chairman first. He likes to be abreast of everything before any execution is done.” Torera said.
Tunde smiled. His dentition was perfection!
The waiter brought their meals and set the table before them.
“Why don’t you just call him dad? I like that about you. You’re very professional.” Tunde said.
“I take that as a compliment. Or a commendation.” She smiled.
He adjusted the collar of his shirt. His suit jacket was beyond class. He was a gorgeous young man.
“So tell me about Torera Tafa. The great Otunba Tafa’s daughter in whom he is well pleased.”
Torera laughed. They started to talk and chat and before she knew it, they had spent about two hours for a thirty five minute lunch. She enjoyed his company. She felt the connection. (She hoped he felt it too.)
He escorted her to her car and opened the door for her.
“You’re a gentle man I have to admit.” She said.
He took a bow and she burst out laughing.
“So I am told.” He said.
She smiled. She did a quick search and checked his ring finger. He was unhooked.
Thank you Lord!
They said their good byes and she drove back to the office, all smiles and all nice to all staff. He didn’t call in the evening. He didn’t call at night. He did not call the next day.
On Friday evening, he called. That was a whole four days after! Torera waited for the phone to ring two times before she finally answered it.
“Hey! Tunde right?” She said. She laughed at herself. Who was she kidding?
“You don’t have my digits?” He said.
“I do. I just know quite a number of Tundes.” She said.
She hit her hand against her forehead. That just came out wrong!
“Oh. I see.” He said.
“I wanted to find out…um…do you take walks or jog or run? Any form of exercise?” He asked.
Torera hardly did. In fact she only went to Enitan’s gym to catch up on gist.
“Yes. Yes I do from time to time. What’s up?”
“I do every Saturday morning. I take walks on the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge. It helps me clear my head sometimes. I find you quite….stimulating and I was wondering if you could join me. I know that’s not your typical kind of date.” He said.
“I’ll be glad to. It’s a date.” She said.
She clutched the phone to her chest and breathed out in relief. Things were working right this time!
Torera admired herself in the full length mirror one last time. She was launching her sports outfit--- a pink and grey colored tank top and matching shorts. She had a pink Nike head band on too and matching Nike kicks. She wanted to add a little more lip stick. But it was supposed to be a run. She wasn’t supposed to have make up on exactly.
Tunde picked her up at 6.45 a.m like he had said earlier. He was right on time. Otunba had gone for his usual morning run within Ikoyi. He said he wasn’t interested in joining them. He didn’t want to be the third wheel. He was at least happy that Torera was taking fitness serious. And he was glad that she was keeping fit both physically and emotionally.
He looked good in his black vest and matching track pants. She saw his arms. They were huge. And his chest! Amen!
He parked his car by a side of the road and opened the door for her to climb out then they started to walk and then the pace increased into jogs. She ran ahead of him. She knew she had a nice rear and she wanted him to see it as she ran. If Enitan were there, she would label her an end-time ashewo.
Tunde started to make small talk about his law practice and about moving back to Nigeria. Torera could relate. They reminisced about their days in London and their favourite hang-out spots and things they did for leisure.
After a few miles here and there, Torera started to pant. She was tired. She couldn’t keep up. She stopped and bent over, then she squatted---in front of him, although this one was not deliberate.
“You okay?” Tunde walked towards her, placing his hand on the small of her back.
She smiled, looking up at him at the same time catching her breath.
“I –think—so…” She said.
“You need water. I left the bottles of water in the car. Just hold on a bit let me hurry and get them.” He said.
She nodded and watched him run sexily towards the other half of the bridge.
She sat on the concrete and stretched her legs.
“Torera.” She heard someone call her name.
She looked up. It was him! Wale! The doctor. The one that made her a sarewagba.
She was suddenly filled with all sorts of emotions. She wanted to kill him. At the same time she wanted to insult him and give him a piece of her mind. He was wearing running shoes and an old t shirt and track pants.
“Wale!” She said, catching her breath.
“How have you been? You stopped picking my calls. I wanted to apologize. I never meant for things to happen that way.” He said.
She stood up immediately.
“You are very crazy. I hope you and your friends had a good laugh. I don’t blame you.” She said.
“But…It was consensual. You came to my place…”
“Your place? Really? You still have the guts to say that?” She raised a brow.
Wale laughed, shaking his head and putting his hands in his pockets.
“Torera, we are both adults. I did not rape you. You enjoyed it. Have you forgotten all the things you were saying and screaming?”
Torera slapped him in the face.
“Don’t you talk to me like that!” She raised her voice.
Wale held his cheek and laughed.
“Girls sha…” He said.
“I regret meeting you.” Torera said.
“No problem. It’s okay.” He raised his hands in the air. “By the way, you forgot your pant under my bed. Your black thong.”
“What is going on here?”
Torera turned around immediately. Wale turned too. Tunde was standing behind her with two bottles of Eva water in his hands.
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