Hi, your girl here. Apologies first. I have struggled from one technical issue to the other today to get this post to you. Sorry, my laptop and the blog’s system just wouldn’t play ball.
Technical issues kept us from delivering anything on Thursday too.
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//Like A Wanderer//
“Why?” Anu blurted, the sting of his slap burning her cheek. “Why did you hit me?”
He had never hit her before. He told her, friends hitting a woman or a child was one of the traits he utilised in the past to weed out friendships.
“I’m sorry. Forgive me,” her husband said.
He stretched his hands but she didn’t let him hold her.
“Look around you, Aisha. Does this look anything like our bedroom?”
She recoiled immediately. The bedroom with its minimalist arrangement and bunk beds looked like Austin’s. What was she doing in his room in her negligee?
She remembered feeling really sleepy whilst working on Aspire’s website. She had been too stressed however, unable to settle because of the row she and Kanyin had before she left the house with Austin. And not knowing if her husband would come home so they could talk about it.
The state of her relationship with him worried her. Kanyin insisted during their row that her marriage had ended. That her father would never see her bastard child as his and in the end the situation would become too much for him to bear.
“You were sleepwalking. Shouting your name did not help.” He said as if he had been asked a question. “I came back and found our bed empty, Jadesola fast asleep and the front door unlocked.”
“No,” Anu clamped a hand over her mouth.
“Don’t worry, no one got in or anything.” His gaze fleeted from her eyes to her breasts which were now almost double in size. “What worries me is your stripping in Austin’s room. Thank God, he is out. What if he came back to find you butt naked on his bed.”
“I wasn’t on his bed.”
“Yes, you were on his bed, baby.”
“Austin is a good man, he wouldn’t have taken advantage.”
“I know, Aisha. I trust him. You are the one I don’t trust in your sleepwalking state. You have taken advantage of me plenty of times before in that state.”
She slapped his hand playfully. “I’m glad you found it funny. Sleepwalking is no joking matter.”
She wanted to tell him she felt too stressed lately. That it worried her not knowing where Bayo was. What if he came after him next?
And even if Bayo ended up in jail, their problems would not go away with him. But seeing him grinning stopped her. They were not getting on and after they fell out yesterday she had started to look forward to his travelling home. He had announced after one of his late night runs that he wanted to concentrate on a London branch of Aspire. Estate agency only not property development. His hands were busy setting up his treadmill as he spoke and he did not bother to look at her. He wanted her to have an equal stake in the new branch. He wanted her to remortgage her father’s house and the Cheshire mansion he bought her.
She knew, without having to check, that he had the capital for the new branch. He had friends too that wanted to invest. Going the way he suggested was to further ensure her complete dependence on him. When Refiloe announced their secrets in front of everyone, she thought his friends would blame her. But as they left for home, he told her Dollar Bobby said he should ask her for his balls back. The London arrangement was supposed to ensure this. And she had never made business decisions to help anyone’s ego. She said no and they rowed.
“Come, let’s take this to our room. I can’t take just staring anymore.” He led her to their bedroom and helped her into bed. He didn’t climb in bed with her.
He kissed her and started unbuttoning his shirt without taking his eyes off her body. She liked it whenever he did this. Stare fixedly at her. He had a way of looking at her and making her feel extraordinary. As if she was in fact more beautiful than she was.
“Spread your legs, Aisha.”
She made to take off her underwear and he stopped her.
“Leave it on,” he discarded his shirt and jeans in a corner. “I want to see you in it. Just the thong.”
She knelt on the bed and picked at the hem of her negligee. She felt that body had changed so much since the morning of the shooting -the last time they were together. He had woken her up in the middle of the night because he missed her.
She didn’t like flaunting her bump. Reminding him of what she did with Bradley.
“What going on? It isn’t like you to be shy?” He held her close to his nude body.
“My body is not the same. You have seen it getting bigger.”
“I’m not bothered.”
“I’m not. Believe me. If you can see through me, you will know I’m still very crazy about you. I’m not perfect but I’m trying. You are a special woman.”
“I’d like to know when you are not trying,” she smiled and let him pull her to his body.
She nearly called out his name as their bodies met. He seemed to sense her urgency, picking her up from the bed and kissing her neck. Her legs were wound around him when he carried her to the wall and she whispered about how much she would miss him from tomorrow.
The hand on her thighs paused in motion and she realised that she had reminded him of Emeka’s death by talking about tomorrow.
“I’m so sorry.”
He carried her back to bed and left her there like a chunk of unwanted log. He dressed with his back turned to her.
“Darling, I said, I’m sorry.”
“I’m not in the mood, okay?”
“I’m not blind. I didn’t imagine your hard-on.”
“That doesn’t mean I want to have sex.” He took his phone out of his pocket and checked it. “I’m going to go for a quick run. Then to Emeka’s house to see Lotachi.”
“You just got back.”
“I need to check on Lotachi. She text me, she is not doing fine.”
“Go on then. Go sleep with her. Get it out of your system. I know you are itching to do it.”
“As long as you know that is it this time. Sleep with her and your excuse of mourning will not cut it. Nor will your bruised male pride. You agreed to take on this baby. If you have changed your mind because you are afraid of what people will call you, let me walk. We both know I can do it all on my own with my hands tied behind my back.” She pulled the duvet over her body and covered herself with it. More embarrassed than angry.
He walked over to the bed and sat beside her. “Why are you acting as if I don’t give it to you regularly?”
She ignored his grin and her need to rant. Bottling her worries within left her throat tight. She wanted to tell him sex shouldn’t matter if they were communicating.
“I have things on my mind. And because me and you are not doing it doesn’t mean I’m getting it from someone else. I wish you would trust me. If you did, using your properties to fund part of the estate agency in London won’t be something to argue about. I thought it would be better to set up the project with you. Working side by side.”
“I’m not going half with you. I don’t invest in ventures I’m too busy to supervise. And I’m busy thanks to the agency recruiting and staff holidays. Come Friday, Kate will probably dump the boys here so she can go and do her nails.”
“Tell her no. Be rude so she hears you.”
“No. We need to maintain a good relationship with her because of the twins. I can cope on this front. You go ahead with the investors you lined up. I’m not risking my daughters’ future for any man.”
“Any man?” He narrowed his eyes at her. “Shey, you are trying to get me to stay with you by force?” He scratched his beard. “TaIking of your daughters, is Kanyinsola behaving?”
“I can handle her. In time, we will be close again. Hopefully, Uche will start responding to my texts and calls soon. We can all do with someone to lean on at the moment.”
Emeka wasn’t the sort to kiss for lengthy periods, so when his fingers started to trace up her legs, Uche whimpered. His fingers sought their destination, frantic with their searching. The situation did not mirror their fight time together. That evening, they were in a chalet at the Lake District and despite their determination not to succumb to their desires, they snuggled close to beat the cold, wet weather. That night had come after she revealed the abusive ways of her former boyfriend. He shed her clothes slowly. He teased her, made her call out his name before claiming her. He was patient, gentle and giving. Nothing like tonight’s hurried thrusts.
She opened her eyes to Kam’s sullen face and sat up quickly. After her shower, she had felt tired and decided on a nap. Barely able to put on her babydoll nightdress before collapsing on the sofa. Exhausted due to shopping all day for Emeka’s brothers and nieces.
Her legs were apart when she woke up but she hoped he had just walked in. “Did Efe let you in? I’m so pleased you are here. I was having some kind of nightmare.”
“Nightmare?” He perched on the window sill and looked out into the streets below before glaring at her. “Efe let me in before she went to work. I was enjoying watching you sleep before you started moaning his name.”
“Kamil, please…” She was suddenly glad for Efe’s obsession with their electricity bill. The lights were all turned off, allowing the street light to shine in. The gleam fell on the front of the lounge where he was, leaving her in the dark, where she hoped to stay.
“You found out he loved someone else yet you won’t stop worshipping him.”
“I’m not worshipping him.”
“Dreaming about him. Forgive me, dreams don’t matter.”
“As soon as he has been buried, I’m sure we will be able to move on.” She joined him at the window sill and planted her arms around him. He smelt of lager. “What’s going on? Efe said she saw you and Idriss shouting at each other at the mall today. Is he harassing you?”
“It’s the shooting. He can’t get it out of his head. Understandably so.”
“How do you mean?”
“He keeps saying I should have pushed Emeka out of the way, not him. He says he has lived his life, Emeka hasn’t.”
“Well, he is right. You had an opportunity to save them and chose the wrong one.”
“It didn’t happen like that. I didn’t choose. The fact that he is the love of your life had nothing to do with it. Emeka was already ducking. I’m left handed and Idriss happened to be on the left.”
“I’m not blaming you.”
“I’m already facing questions from my bosses. I don’t need a girlfriend that doesn’t trust me. Emeka was the target for that hit. And the truth is, I would have done a better job protecting him if he didn’t keep his relationship with Kanyin a secret.” He groaned and pulled her closer. “Sorry, babe. I shouldn’t be going on like this. Not to you.”
“You look so sexy when you are angry anyway.” It didn’t fit with how she felt. The exhausting restlessness that kept sleep away at night. Her anger, her questions. The voices telling her nothing would be the same again. But despite her varying emotions, she knew this wasn’t the Kam that went out that night. She sensed he wished he had saved Emeka. That no one died.
“And you look so damm hot in this nightie. FYI, I don’t think I should stay over tonight. I’m not a sucker for punishment.”
“Kam, it covers my body.”
He stood up and held her firmly to his body, his hands on her backside. “You have no idea what you are doing to me.”
“I do. You just made sure I felt it.”
His hands were already underneath her nightdress. She complained as soon as he stopped kissing her.
“I think you should go home tonight. You clearly enjoyed yourself at the pub with your friends.”
“Let me stay. I will behave myself.” He let go of her. “I can have a shower, fix us a meal and then we can watch a film. Pretty please.”
“Okay, then. No wandering hands.”
“No wandering hands. Except for tickling games, of course. A game I intend to start right now.”
She hurried away from him. He caught up with her quickly and wrestled her to the settee, laughing. His tickles met with loud screeching. He stopped when she screeched his name.
“You know I don’t like tickles.”
“And you know my name, babe.”
She didn’t understand why his mood had changed suddenly.
“You called me Emeka.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it, see you later.” He had gone through the door before she could stop him. Before she could remind him her flight home was in the afternoon.
Despite having her husband back two weeks later, Anu felt like a wanderer on foreign soil. Kanyin had started spending all day in her bedroom. Shunning food and social contact. She started to come out of mourning a few days back and then a phone call from Emeka’s mother took her back to how she was at the beginning.
Anu doubted much was said by either party. Kanyin had stormed into her bedroom, crying and barely able to hold her phone. Anu took the phone from her and Emeka’s mother had been so inconsolable on the phone that she passed the phone to Emeka’s brother, Obinna. Now, she wasn’t sure what to do about the girl. Her husband disappeared to London a few hours after his arrival yesterday.
Uche and Anu were not speaking. Not since she saw her at the airport. She had put an arm around her, after pulling her friend away from the grief stricken travelling party.
“I don’t want your apology,” Uche pushed her hands away. “Kanyin’s real mother is the one you should save it for. The one you should apologise to for letting her daughter date her father’s age mate. The foolish woman that let you have her daughter.”
Her silence had incensed Uche.
“Yes, she is foolish. Leaving her daughter with you. Look at all the bad things that have happened to her child since they left her with you.”
Anu woke up after midnight longing for her husband. Sleep had come after Hoya’s call. The woman wanted to tell her Ikumapayi ended their engagement before he left with the others for Nigeria.
She loved him, he loved her. She would let him go if that was what he wanted. But having not seen him for weeks, they were yet to have a proper conversation. He needed to know they were going to be parents, Hoya sniffed before breaking down.
As the phone rang, Anu knew Emeka was the one she really wanted to talk to. The one whose diplomatic ways and kind reassurances helped his friends cope. He loved listening to people’s problems, even when listening wasn’t easy.
He listened to Kanyin. Helped her regain that appetite of hers that couldn’t be bigger than an ant’s.
“Hello,” the voice that answered their London home phone didn’t sound like her husband’s. “Who is this? Hello.”
It was a woman’s voice. Its South African accent sounded so familiar the phone dropped out of her hand. The line had been disconnected by the time she picked up the phone from the bed.
Sleep did not come for the rest of the night. Tears did not come either. She worked on her laptop, valuing her assets. His extravagance, the birthday present would be her back-up plan. She wouldn’t miss his money. She would be able to control Aspire on her own.
Anu caressed her bump as she realised that getting him to sign his Aspire stake to the children would benefit her in ways she never expected.
“Are you still awake, mum?” Kanyin’s smile brightened up the room in the early hours.
Anu tried not to look at her flat stomach and her gaunt face as she settled on the bed. She turned the laptop off, “Kanyinsola, you are up early.”
“I have decided to go home. I will go to see Grandma in Lagos first. Then I will go and visit Emeka’s parents in Enugu.”
“Anything that helps. I will give you some money, princess.”
“I’m not sure if I will come back.”
“What do you mean? I know things have been tough but you can’t relocate because of that. Life is tough, wherever you are. Please reconsider. What do you want us to do without you? How about Austin?”
“You mean Austin that tried to kiss me yesterday?”
“He did what?”
“He tried to kiss me.”
Idriss arrived on his street less than four hours after his wife called him to tell him all his things were outside. He parked the car on the pavement, narrowly missing the free for all sign placed next to boxes of his expensive shoes.
When Ikumapayi informed him that he was staying at his house in London with, “a special somebody,” he didn’t say much. Not until, he drove down to London, ready to spend some days with his friend and found the special somebody referred to was Refiloe. He had gone to the hotel in central London. The one he and his wife lodged in during the occasional work trips, missing her, knowing he needed to talk to her.
Being in Enugu was tasking. Uche, Ikumapayi and the others returned before him but he felt like he needed to stay. Emeka would have stayed. And not long into his stay, Emeka’s mother started to talk to people without bursting into tears midway. She made him promise to send their wife to them for a few weeks and to stay close to them.
Now he wished he hadn’t gone to London. His wife refused to listen to his explanation on the phone. It didn’t help that Ikumapayi didn’t want anyone to know of his affair with Refiloe.
He spotted Austin coming out of the house with a big travel bag. “Is that mine?”
“No, boss.” Austin dropped the bag next to the Volvo and walked over to him. “Your wife said I should go and stay with my friends.”
“Why? What did you do?”
“Nothing. Nothing, sir. I didn’t do anything.”
One of the windows upstairs opened up and Kanyin popped her head out of it. “He tried to kiss me, Daddy. That’s what he did.”
Austin spread his hands out. “Please boss, na the devil cause am. I was trying to hug her and my mouth mistakenly touch her lips. I was not wearing my glasses, sir.”
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