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//A New Day//
“Naija spy agent.”
He looked up and saw Emeka hobbling towards him. The grin on his face did not match his speedy gait.
“Wetin my phone do you?”
He could have tapped on the message and viewed it. Even as his friend reached him and collapsed on the bed, his eyes searching him, he could still have. But deciding not to put himself through another betrayal especially as he had never trusted anyone the way he did him, he clicked back to the phone’s screen page.
“Checking your battery, dude.” He placed the phone on the table and let a wide grin take hold of his face. “Wetin you dey hide there, sef?”
“All the numbers of the girls wey dey there, nau. I don’t want you anywhere near my cousins. Or near my sister again.”
“I’m a new man.”
“You are just saying that because madam dey hospital. How is she?”
“She is fine.” He shook his head. “I’m saying it because my wife means the world to me.”
“Abi na Kate’s spending dey worry you? Iku said she wants a car.”
“That car one does not scare me. She wants to take the boys on a two week family vacay. With her whole family and even Michael and his parents.”
“You go pay for the boyfriend and his parents too?” Emeka laughed.
“Adultery dey cost in this country, my brother. She even wants a nanny to help her during the week. Cleaner to come twice a week.”
“This one na big spender.”
“One other person to come do ironing. On top of me giving her allowance o.”
“What about the job she left Aspire for? When is she starting?”
“Starting ke? She fashi the job. Apparently it is too stressful. Her boss is not very nice or understanding. Not like yours truly.”
“You that had her on the office floor? No be only nice alone. Saintly.”
“And it would not have happened if you were not away on that silly team building nonsense you do at your workplace.”
“Well, I’m not going this year.” Emeka pointed at the arm in a sling. “We always come back with two or three employees with broken legs anyway. All because we are team building by force. In a deserted woodland when we can afford five star hotels.”
“Your oga will kuku change his mind one day when an axe murderer or one wild animal chases you guys back to civilisation.”
“Would you have even told me what was going on? Emeka asked. “If I was around I mean?”
He hated thinking of those days, when he thought his wife was falling for Bradley again. He told himself he could forget about the kiss. That the way she perked up whenever Bradley’s car appeared in their driveway did not matter.
Deep down he felt like someone gripped by a deadly virus. He started to drink again. And the day the last set of pictures arrived –the one with Anu at Bradley’s house –he drove home at lunch time. The words were there at the tip of his mouth. He would have confronted her if Bradley was not at his house, reading a fairytale story to Jadesola whilst his wife watched. That evening, unable to speak to the only friend that would not have laughed about his situation and consumed by drink and anger, he did things with Kate that he should never have done.
“I wanted to tell you.” He had always felt a kind of unease where Bradley was concerned. He had all the qualities his wife wanted in a man. And now that Bradley’s child would forever be a part of his family, he wasn’t sure he could completely stop thinking about him. “I love my sons but I know you would have encouraged me to talk to Aisha if you were around.”
“I know you are there for me, bobo. This baby stuff, na only you I fit tell. All Ikumapayi knows is, Aisha is pregnant. That’s it.”
“And you can trust me.”
“Uche knows obviously. Aisha told her.”
“You know you can trust me. How long have we been friends for?”
He stretched his legs ahead of him and hoped the nurse who had walked past the room twice would not choose that moment to tell him he should leave and let his friend sleep. “So, why is my daughter texting you then?”
“I saw a text message on your phone when I arrived. You saved her name as Retty. Please tell me, Kanyinsola is the one with the crush.”
Emeka nodded slowly. “Ever since she told me what she was going through. She seems to have developed a thing for me.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I can handle her.” He grinned and slapped Idriss’ shoulder. “Relax, dude. I know I still have it but I won’t cross you.”
“Me, I’m okay o. I trust you. I’m just wondering when to break it to my wife and daughters that I want to see them in hijabs from now on.”
Emeka laughed. “Let me hear what Anu does to your balls when you break it to her.”
“Open wide, baby.”
Anu opened her eyes. She took in her husband’s appearance. Dressed in lightweight suit jacket and stylish jeans, holding her vitamin tablet in one hand and a glass of water in the other and opened her mouth.
“Why do you always have that look whenever I tell you to open wide?” He was smiling a mischievous smile as if to acknowledge he knew why.
She swallowed and eyed him for an answer.
“I have to go soon,” he placed the glass cup on the side table and took a seat beside her on the bed. “Will you and little kiddo be okay?” He lifted her top up and kissed her tummy, trailing lower to the base of her bump.
“That feels good, darling.”
“Don’t get too excited.”
“I’m better now.” She started to wriggle out of her pyjama pants.
“No, baby. You had stomach pain last night.”
“I heard you groaning and tossing.”
“Do you have to travel again?” She wrapped her legs around him. “Why can’t you learn to communicate electronically like most young business people do?”
“He is one of your father’s contacts. One of those who don’t like technology or know how to use a computer.” He cupped her face and kissed her lips. “I will be back before you know it.”
“Saturday. Please don’t dare go to work that day. If you don’t want me to come Aspire come carry you home. Just stay in bed.”
“I have work to do.”
“Stay in bed with no undies on.”
She slapped his bottom as he heaved off her.
The grin on his face seemed as natural as the calmness washing over her these days. They came in irregular bursts before now. Easily squashed under her fears, that her bump would grow too big and with it, his insecurities.
“Bradley will want to be involved in this child’s life.” Uche told her at the hospital yesterday. “Please girl, don’t be angry that I’m getting involved again. I’m just worried that you are avoiding the big issue here. You need to talk to Idriss. You know you can’t keep children from their parents in the UK. He will sue you and probably get joint custody. The law will force you to co-parent with Bradley.”
She watched as Idriss dabbed aftershave on himself and checked his appearance in the mirror.
His hands were rubbing her costly day cream on his face when he went to the door to shout for Austin. “I’m going to miss my flight, Austin!”
Yesterday she arrived home to a basket of banana muffins and a card from Bradley’s mother. Kanyin looked anxious as she passed her the card and apart from the sound of the bag her husband had landing on the floor, he was silent. Uncomfortably silent.
After eating some of the shepherd’s pie Uche sent over, he served her one of the muffins. Commented on Nancy’s kindness after biting into one.
“Are we going to be fine, darling?”
He was bending over to kiss her forehead.
“We are fine, baby. Don’t worry.”
“Don’t you think we should talk…”
He kissed her mouth, silencing her with his lips.
“Dad, get a room.”
Kanyin and a clearly embarrassed Austin were at the door.
“I have a room.” He kissed Anu and stood up whilst Austin picked up his Adidas bag. “Austin will be back soon. Kanyinsola, Ireti mi, look after my wife. Do you understand?”
“I’m not a child.” Anu stated but the girl was already hugging her dad and making promises.
She flopped on the bed beside her as the men walked out of the room and started to gush about how much her skin glowed.
“Pregnancy really suits you, mum. And look at Daddy acting like a lovesick puppy. I blame the way your chest has grown and you are glowing too. Mum, you really are.”
“Thanks, child.” Kanyin referred to her as mum whenever she wanted something. Usually something important. “Ask what you want already.”
“What do you mean?”
“I know you, princess. You want something.”
“Okay,” she sighed. “Can I go and see Nkem tonight? I will be back very early. Please.”
“It isn’t a good idea, princess. Kam told you to stay away from Manchester, remember?”
“Nkem lives with ten young undergrads. Some of them men. They won’t let anything happen to me.”
“I’m not sure.”
“We will lock ourselves in the bedroom. Please mum. I’m so bored.”
Thinking she should reward her for staying away from the hospital and Emeka, Anu relented.
“You have to text me every ten minutes.”
“Okay. You are the best. Thank you.”
“I will book you a cab to take you straight there. I want to see the driver and tell him to deliver you to Nkem’s safely.”
To show her gratitude, Kanyin went to get Jadesola ready for the nursery. Anu could hear both of them singing when her phone rang. She recognised the Ribble number as Nancy’s. Picking it up immediately so as to thank the woman for yesterday’s muffins, she didn’t expect to hear Bradley’s voice.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please don’t hang up.”
“I have to, Brad. I can’t do this.”
“I need you to understand how sorry I’m. I got so obsessed with getting you back. I’m not that person. You know that…”
“I don’t know you at all.”
“Don’t say that. Let me show you how sorry I’m. I can’t sleep or eat. I have lost my will. I even lost my job on Monday, love.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“Mum had to come back here to be with me. I have been ill since I came out of hospital.”
“I forgive you. Is that all, Brad?”
“Thanks. Thank you, beautiful.” He paused. A brief, pregnant pause. “I’m glad we are fine now. Can I see you, love? Dinner would be fantastic. We need to talk about our child.”
“I have forgiven you and that’s it. Don’t ring me. Don’t call me beautiful. In case you have forgotten, I’m married.”
“My husband will ring you if he decides you can see the child at all.”
Uche picked up Kam’s house keys from the front office of the police station as agreed. She cracked a smile after her blunder. Referring to Kam as Kamil to the matronly woman at the reception desk earned her a curious stare.
“You mean DCI Diggs,” the woman chuckled as she passed her the keys. “We call him DCI or inspector. That’s why I didn’t know who you meant. He says he will be home in an hour. He is in a meeting with the commissioner.”
Her relationship with Kam stilled like a stationary vehicle after they saw each other at the hospital. Their calls were short, his tone missing its cheerfulness. Work was all he talked about.
After Efe encouraged her late last night, she rang him.
“Hi, babe. What you up to? Why are you not in bed?” He didn’t sound jovial. Not fed-up either. Tiredness draped around his questions like curtains and lengthened his pauses.
“Can I come over?” She heard the long, awkward pause that followed and apologised. “You are probably wondering why I’m ringing you when you have probably friend-zoned me.”
“Why would I? I’m nuts for you.”
“You have been avoiding me since you saw me at the hospital visiting Emeka? You are angry with me.”
“You are jealous.”
“No, I don’t get jealous. The mood I was in was all to do with the case. I felt like your ex didn’t tell me everything. I’m struggling with this case, that’s all.”
“This is why I’m at work at this time. My flaw Uche … I get obsessed with work. My last relationship fizzled out because of work. Promise me, you won’t let me do that to us.”
“I’m sorry about Bradley finding out about the baby, by the way. I let it slip to my sister who told my mother. Auntie Nancy and my mother are very close.”
“Don’t worry about it. Anu says she is relieved he knows.”
“I will make sure he stays away. Idriss has told me he will not be very understanding this time.”
“I should go to bed, then. Early rise tomorrow.”
“Can we hook up tomorrow?”
“Not sure. I finish around six tomorrow. And you say you are busy.”
“Uche please. Don’t make me beg. I hate begging.”
“You always finish late and I don’t wanna be hanging around.”
“Why don’t you pick up my keys, if you don’t mind? Then you can make yourself as cosy as you want. I will be there when my meeting finishes. Around seven…ish. You can handcuff me to the table if I’m one minute late.”
He wasn’t a minute late. More like several. Uche had washed the fruits she brought and cut them into small chunks, arranging them next to the chocolate sauce, peanut butter and jar of honey when she heard the door squeak.
Dressed in her red, see-through lingerie, stockings and heeled shoes that matched, she faltered. Idriss said seduction worked with boldness. This morning, they chatted on the phone and he had been keen to help her, telling her to be daring and look Kam in the eye. Yet, her legs failed her. She sat down and hoped her big hair, bold lipstick and dressing would make her look daring.
“Hi, sexy.” Uche uncrossed her legs.
The lights were on. For a moment, she thought she saw his eyes gleam, then a look of horror darkened his features as a slim, black woman with mini-twist hair stepped beside him.
Uche covered the top of her chest with her hands and fussed her legs together. “What’s going on?”
“Sorry, babe. She was waiting for me downstairs.” He turned to the woman who was now frowning at her. “Mum meet Uche.”
Kanyin felt like screaming. Lying in bed next to a man who would rather sleep than make out with her, kept her awake. She had to forfeit her change with the cab driver after explaining her destination wasn’t Manchester but actually three streets away. The cab driver knew Anu and not wanting her to worry because of the baby, Kanyin had to tell the driver the truth.
“Emeka, I’m gonna go home.”
He opened his eyes and glared at her.
“The pasta I made for you is in the fridge.” She glanced at her nails and pouted. “I can’t believe I broke a nail cooking you pasta when I don’t cook for nobody at home.”
“I told you not to worry. I asked you here to chill or how do you… young people say it these days?”
“Chilling does not involve sleeping. Or sleeping with your back turned to your girlfriend or is that how you old people act these days, uncle.”
“You are really serving it.” He scratched his beard and observed her for a while. “So, you want me that bad?”
She sat up and straightened her vest top. “And you are too old and tired to get it.”
“You have a mouth on you.” He pulled her down beside him and rolled on top of her. “I’m not too old.”
She laughed. She stopped when he brushed himself against her. The jogger pants he insisted on wearing to bed reassured her.
“I want you, Kanyinsola. I really do.”
“I need time to talk to your dad. Also, I don’t think we should rush things.” He kissed her chin and rolled off her, keeping his hand on the arm in a sling. “You are not ready, Kanyinsola. You think you are but the fear in your eyes tells me different.” He placed his hand in hers. “Can you give us time to build this thing first?”
“Okay. I will.”
“Good girl. Now I can sleep and not worry you will pounce on me.”
She attempted to raise her hand to smack him but he caught the hand, placed it on the other one and kissed her cheek.
They fell asleep after talking about their future. Sources from work had informed him he would get a promotion soon. This would mean relocating down south, to their head office and he wanted her to come with him as his wife. “We will find you a good university, sweetie” he cooed, his lips on her cheek.
The cold air from the sitting room woke her not long after. Emeka had insisted on having it open when she arrived. She put on his football shirt over her vest and shorts and glided off the bed quietly.
The sitting room was pitch-black. But as she walked into the room, she felt as if someone was in the room with her. An eerie feeling spread over her like goose pimples. Bayo’s voicemail message about watching her came to her. Her legs would not carry her fast enough, so she screamed.
“Emeka, someone is here.”
“Yes, Kanyin.” The light came on and her father dropped the bunch of keys in his hand on the table. “Go and wake your boyfriend. Then cover yourself and get the hell out of here. I need to have a word with my friend.”
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