I’m really sorry for not posting yesterday. I can’t apologise enough. I won’t stop typing if I start to explain why.
Have a great weekend.
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//Secrets And A Shocker//
He didn’t look angry. He looked livid. Kanyin greeted him and he stepped out of the car to hug her. He didn’t look at Anu when she said hi.
“Where are you going, Daddy?” Kanyin asked as he handed her the house keys so she could let herself in. “You are all glammed up.”
“Going out,” he grunted.
Kanyin looked at Anu as though to communicate they were right to have been worried earlier. All their calls to him, to tell him they were on their way back, went unanswered. The Underground journey took too long. It was hard for Anu to reassure Kanyin knowing what could be keeping her husband from getting to the phone.
Anu had to respond to Uche via a text message telling her to back off even though what she wanted to do was scream at her. She messaged her instead. A short, clear message whilst her stepdaughter was in the changing room trying on dresses.
She grew up disliking the way her mother talked about her husband. Her openness with friends such as Auntie Yele, the woman who later turned out to be her father’s on and off mistress. She swore never to be like her mother. And she would have stuck to her promise, if she hadn’t ended up married to a man like her husband.
Surely keeping mute about her husband would kill her or send her to a psychiatric ward.
“Where is Nkem?” Kanyin asked.
“Where she belongs.”
“What does that mean?”
“She has a home doesn’t she?” He shot Anu a nasty, fleeting look. “I got her a taxi to the station and gave her a thousand pounds. That should get her a few first class tickets.”
“But Daddy, she came here to chill with me.”
“She was worried about exams. And you and your stepmum have to go back tomorrow anyway. Some work matters, Anu has to attend to.”
He only called her Anu when they were not getting on. It was clear he knew what Uche did.
Perhaps Nkem told him.
The girl had a tendency of been a little too polite whenever her husband was around. Standing too straight, chest pushed out. Wearing too much make-up, reminding her of Kate’s behaviour when she first started working at Aspire.
“Go in princess. I won’t be long.” She waited for Kanyin to open the door and go in before facing her husband. “It isn’t what you think.”
“Which part? The one where you decided to set me up with my daughter’s friend?”
“Listen. It wasn’t me…”
“Do you know I called Emeka this afternoon?” He didn’t wait for her to respond. “When he told me about Uche ringing him the other day, to ask for the number of his cousin at the university because she wanted to trace a girl, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this was related to me. Until Emeka worked out that his phone call could be linked to my daughter’s friend coming on to me. Tell me I’m wrong, Anu. Or is that not why you left her here whilst you went shopping?”
“This is all a silly misunderstanding. Uche did this to help me.”
“And how many times have I told you not to discuss me with anyone? Now you may have destroyed my daughter’s relationship with her only friend.”
“It isn’t as bad as you are putting it.”
“This is the same Uche who didn’t tell you, what was going on in her relationship. I was the one who told you Emeka and her were not good.” He raised his voice. “Why do this to us Aisha? Uche is Efe’s friend. Efe is Refiloe’s best friend. Is it too hard to stay silent?”
“Let’s go in and sort it. Nkem’s relationship with Kanyin will be fine. Nothing happened, did it?”
She regretted asking immediately. He looked at her like she had robbed him and got in the car. She didn’t try to stop him from driving away.
Anu did not eat much. Most of the pasta she made was eaten by Kanyin. A phone call to Aleska who had taken Jadesola to Butlins cheered her up. But it was seeing her husband return with a box of chocolates that made her light up. Inwardly, though. She didn’t want him thinking she was happy about their lives.
How could anyone be?
“Sorry, baby.” He placed the box close to the headboard and sat on the bed. “Uche called me to apologise. She is on a date with Kam. I think she is really upset. You should call her as soon as you can.”
She didn’t respond for a while. An okay was all she could manage when she eventually did. She let him take the book she was reading and tried not to giggle as he placed several kisses on her neck, arms and face.
“What are you doing?”
He had undone the single knot at the top of her negligee, peeling it apart to reveal her body.
“I need my wife.”
“The door is open.”
He went to close the door, letting out a long sigh as he did so. “Trying to distract me, abi?”
She sat up in bed and turned off the lamp. The gleam of his smile as he faced her and started to unbutton his shirt would have been enough to keep the room lit. She had missed him. If only her mind could be willed like he willed her body.
He moved closer to the bed and started to kiss her. She didn’t kiss him back. She couldn’t.
“Aisha, you are killing me here.”
“I’m scared. I’m really worried about us.”
“I won’t let you down again. You will be able to trust me someday. Please let me back in.”
She kissed his forehead and helped him take off his pants. “No more secrets, yeah?”
“And no more hangers-on and third parties. I won’t wait to hear any explanations if you let Bradley come back with his lies. I mean it, Aisha.”
For an answer she took off his boxers. With the flat of his palm on her head and bated breath, he guided her head towards the part his shorts covered moments before.
He fell asleep after she teased him for his greediness and appetite. Beaming following the pleasurable ache he left between her legs, he had asked how long it would take for her to recover.
She climbed out of bed slowly, taking her pyjamas with her to the bathroom. She would dress herself there. Dressing in their room would wake him.
After a quick shower, Anu headed to the smaller bedroom. Kanyin was under the covers when she got there.
“Princess, can we talk?” She sat beside her on the bed. “I know you are not asleep. I heard you talking on the phone just now.”
Kanyin sat up and sighed. “Nothing gets past you.”
The girl stared out through the window even though there was nothing but building walls that could be seen from her angle. Anu tapped on her rose-gold iPhone and noticed it had been turned off.
“What is it Kanyinsola?” Earlier, Kanyin refused to give her the phone when she asked for it. She wanted to ring Aleska so as to talk to Jadesola and her own phone needed charging. She spent quite a while after dinner also, staring at her phone’s screen, giggling after every chime. “Who were you talking to just now?”
“Why do you look so worried then?”
“No reason. Please can I go to bed?”
“No prob. I will tell Grandma when I call her tomorrow that she was right to worry about you. Continue keeping secrets.”
“Okay. I was talking to Bayo.”
Anu sat up straight. “Why would you do that? You are not supposed to talk to him at all.” She lowered her voice because she didn’t want to wake Idriss. “Has he been ringing you?”
“I knew we should have made sure you went ahead with the statement. I’m sick of waiting for Kam to sort this.”
“Bayo sent me a text from a number I didn’t recognise saying he is going to kill the guy I’m messing with.”
“That’s fine. You are not seeing anyone.”
“I’m sort of seeing someone. Like kinda… Not serious dating but kinda.”
“How can you be sort of seeing someone?” She rolled her eyes. “Well, it doesn’t matter. You have to tell me who it is so we can warn him.”
“You can’t tell daddy.”
Austin seemed happy lately. She had caught him often, staring at Kanyin, looking like a man in the company of the woman he loved. Although their relationship changed so much after Kanyin’s assault revelation, Anu believed they would be close friends again. Perhaps their getting together would repair their friendship.
“Your dad likes Austin.”
“It isn’t Austin.”
“Of course it is Austin. I’m sure that is why he keeps asking when you are starting properly at Aspire.”
“It isn’t Austin. It is Emeka.”
Anu shifted away from her. “Tell me you have a friend at uni called Emeka.”
Kanyin grasped her hands. “It is over. It nearly started but Uncle Ikumapayi and Austin found out and they made me see sense. Please, don’t tell my dad.”
“This is a joke.”
“Please, it is over. Don’t say anything.”
“We have to say something. Bayo is threatening to kill him.”
“I have already told Emeka. Please, Daddy can’t find out. Just tell him about Bayo’s threats. We can call Kam too. Leave Emeka’s name out of it. Please, mum.”
The more she tried to focus on Kam’s face and the cup he was pointing at, the more her head pounded. Her body felt battered, her saliva tasted foul. Uche could not remember how she ended up in his bed. Or when she took off the bodycon dress she wore for their date. She remembered arriving. She remembered the spicy smell from the kitchen as he opened a bottle of wine. The rest were a jumbled mess of bits here and there.
“Drink up, babe.” He was dressed in a white shirt and black pants. The shirt’s sleeves had been rolled up. “I’m needed at work. I need you rehydrated so I won’t be at work worrying about you.”
“I can’t stay here.” She studied the room. The jarring purple walls and the doubly pleated draperies were not familiar. How did she get in his bed without noticing the bedroom’s decor? “Where is my dress?”
“You don’t remember, do you?”
“How you got drunk and you decided to twerk for me.”
Uche covered her mouth with her hand.
“Don’t worry, I didn’t take advantage. Your dress is drying in the airing cupboard. I had to wash it. You got it wet after you threw up in the bathroom.”
She winced. Their relationship was definitely over. Not that it ever got started in the first place. If she didn’t feel dizzy, she would have leapt out of the room.
Emeka didn’t like women who drank. He had often said men doing it made it seem sexy whilst a woman with a cocktail glass or beer bottle would pass more as trashy.
“You were worried about you and Anu falling out, remember?”
“Yes.” The wine had not gotten rid of that memory. Her embarrassing actions. What was she thinking listening to Efe, a girl the same age as her sister?
“I left you with the bottle of wine to go and check on the starter. When I came back the bottle was empty.” Kam grinned. “You drank it like water. Like someone who has no drinking experience.”
“I don’t actually drink.”
“So, you lied to impress me?”
“You definitely impressed me.” He laughed and stopped when she grunted. “It doesn’t matter. As long as you didn’t mean what you said about loving your ex last night.”
“Someone dey follow me from home, I swear.”
Kam came to the bed and helped her sit properly. She held the sheet tightly to her chest.
“Babe, you said he was your first. You told me something happened with the previous boyfriend. Something Emeka helped you move on from. That explains the connection you have with him. I’m not jealous. We will make our own connection.”
“No. Thank you. You agreed to let me cook for you again, remember? Seven nights with me.”
He was smiling now. Radiating a glow that made him look even more desirable. As if he didn’t already look strikingly handsome. For the first time in her life, she felt extremely lucky. She had always felt like the better things in life went to others. Others such as Anu and her cousin who married a doctor aged twenty.
“Any chance I can get a kiss after what I went through last night?”
“I would… if I didn’t feel so gross.”
He stood up. “Let me get you towels, so you can shower. Then I can drop you off at home.”
“You will have to leave it here. You are still technically drunk. I don’t want my girlfriend banged up in my station. The lads will have a good laugh at my expense.”
He was quiet as he drove her home. Apart from apologising about having to go to work when she didn’t feel very well and asking her what kind of coffee she wanted at Starbucks’ drive-through, he didn’t say much.
“I can come round after work,” he said as he stopped the car on her street. “I’m going in to oversee a case but I should be finished in a few hours.”
She buttoned the denim jacket he gave her to wear over her dress and took her drink from the coffee holder, gripping it tightly. Her hands wouldn’t stop shaking.
“Can I come over later?” He picked up her purse and jumped out of the car to open the passenger door for her.
“Let me ring you.” Uche tried to add something quickly. To tell him seeing him would be lovely. But he had started to head back to the car after helping her out.
“Cheer up,” he blew her a kiss. “You didn’t reveal that many secrets.”
He had driven off when it came back to her. An unclear memory of her telling him something she shouldn’t have. Something about Anu’s baby and its real father.
Kanyin hauled the bin bag to the door and pointed at it. Her stepmother was on the phone to her father and she could hear him even from the main office as Anu had her phone on speaker.
“You don’t have to do that,” Anu told her. “The cleaner will be here tomorrow morning.”
“I need something to do. I am bored.” Kanyin was tired of waiting around for Anu to finish. The phones had stopped ringing at five PM, three hours ago, leaving her with nothing but filing to do. She wished her pride had not stopped her from asking Austin for a lift home.
“Don’t rush,” Kanyin added. She had a reason for wanting to take the bin bag out.
“Why are you still at work, Aisha?” Her father asked. “Finish up so we can talk tonight. I have to wake up early for my meeting tomorrow. It will be good for us to do our late night thing. I miss you.”
“I can hear you, Daddy.” Kanyin shook her head and picked up the bag.
She could hear them laughing as she placed the bag in the wheelie outside. Emeka’s car was at the bottom of the street. She got in and he drove down the road, to a quiet, unlit lane that she didn’t recognise.
“I can’t stay for long.” She said. She couldn’t look at him. Perhaps because of what Anu told her.
“You will destroy their friendship if you don’t end it. By the time you realise it is just a phase you are going through because of what’s happened, it will be too late.”
“Sweetheart, look at me.”
She turned to him and tried not to feel guilty for his pain. In London, they sent each other several messages. The messages thinned from her end after Bayo’s threats.
“I have to get back to Anu. She will be waiting for me.”
“I’m not scared of Bayo.”
“What about my father finding out? Are you scared of that?” She opened the door and got out of the car.
“Wait,” Emeka caught her and stopped her from getting too far. “Okay. We end this. It is what you want, isn’t it?”
“It is what Bayo wants.”
“I’m not scared of him.”
“What if he tells my dad? He can find a way for him to find out. Daddy will be very angry. He will never forgive you.”
“Don’t be sad, Kanyinsola. Don’t let Bayo win.” He pulled her to himself and hugged her.
She started to feel calmer and was about to dislodge from him when she saw a BMW speeding towards them. “It is Bayo.”
The car stopped beside Emeka’s car and Bayo came out of it with two hefty, black men.
“Bro, get your hands off my wifey. Or these blokes will mash you up.”
Emeka did not let go of her.
“We don’t want any trouble.” Kanyin hoped she didn’t sound as frightened as she felt. “He is practically my uncle. He is just comforting me over something.”
“Sweet, then. I will comfort you myself. Get in the car, let’s go for a ride.” He moved closer to them. “Refuse and I will have to teach your uncle how to stay away from young girls.”
“She is not going anywhere.” Emeka held on to her tighter.
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