I’m so sorry that the episode wasn’t ready during the long weekend as promised. I was working so I should have known not to make promises. I came back from work on Monday and I had a few words written. Nothing else. But I think you will forgive me easily when you hear our news.
The Aideyans became proud parents to a beautiful baby girl over the weekend, yay! God bless her. God bless her lovely parents too.
I’m sure Daniel would be happy to celebrate this with the house.
I don’t think the big episode I promised would be ready this Saturday. It will come at some point and then the short break. Hopefully, the concluding parts would be ready by the time we come back. So, to make things clearer, one big episode, break and then the rest of the series. The break is necessary to move the plot forward (that would become clearer when you read those last episodes)
For readers who are still waiting for the next episode of Girls, I can’t apologise enough. It’s tasking writing the series and dipping in and out doesn’t help. So, I like to focus on the series and just write. It doesn’t help that I have all sorts going on at the moment. I promise, you will get to read the rest of the series soon.
It’s my birthday today, so I’m hoping readers waiting will forgive me easily. Thanks for understanding.
I spent a bit of time with the family. Wrote most of this and edited. I will check social media (if they haven’t deleted my accounts for lack of activity) later.
All you Taurus babies out there, including our newest member, Miss Aideyan, kisses and hugs. To Daniel and PJ, congrats. All my love to you both. Remember, I’m free for baby-sitting duties.
“Get in here, Issy.” Biba shouted when she heard the front door.
She had been about to close her eyes for the second time that evening. Cushioned between her pillows and duvet, on her bed. The afternoon sun lessened hours ago and their home had started to welcome much needed coolness.
She shouted for her friend again. Her voice sounded the way it did whenever something was on her mind. Biba hoped she was only on the phone. Turning down an extra hospital shift in that gentle, polite voice of hers. “Come in here, babe. We’ve got to talk.”
She had hoped to speak to her last night. But she came back from her date with Lucky, quite late and then left for work early this morning. She had been eager to share with her how Idriss promised her a house and a job. In exchange for having her. Marrying her.
Strange, how Idriss’ offers always came with conditions.
The many, I need to see you, lepa. The occasional, you bring joy to my life.
“You are lonely,” she told him when he called last night. Repeated herself forcefully. “I know you think you feel something for me. The thing is, I don’t believe it. You want me because you can’t have your wife.”
“Habiba, my condition is not improving.”
She had wondered then if he said that to gain sympathy from her. The kind he would have gotten from Isio. Soon however, she realised from the determination in his voice, he was not lying.
“Do I love my wife? Damn right, I do.”
“You have a funny way of showing it.”
“She has this heart disease, lepa. Even with this surgery she had, something can still go wrong. No more surprise parties. No more taking risks. Do you think I’m the right person for her? Do you think I won’t make my usual mistakes?”
His voice had faltered briefly. She held the phone and resisted the urge to say something.
“I will,” he said after another pause. His voice and pauses were swollen with emotions. Affected with raw feelings. “I can’t help it, lepa. I will make my usual mistakes. Or my health like my doctor said will worsen.”
“You can’t walk away because you are scared.”
“Anu loves you.”
“Beg for forgiveness. She might take you back one day.”
“Are you not listening? I can’t kill my wife. I would rather be miserable and alone. I can’t kill her, Habiba.”
He let out a groan. When he went quiet again, she asked him about Obinna and Ikumapayi. Worried that he would suffer a breakdown if his friends continued to stay away.
He detested being alone. Just like her.
“I saw Obinna this morning,” he replied. “He was the one that helped me realise that I was focusing too much on myself. That I should put Aisha and my children first.”
“Are you and Jay okay now?” she had asked.
“Things between us are not cool. I messed up, big time.”
“Give it time.”
“Obinna is trying. You know he is a top man. Nice dude all round. He said we are good if I get my act together. No more doing the wrong thing or plotting revenge. As if I have time. When I’m trying to pay him back and get my life back on track.”
“You will sort things out. You have time.”
“Oh, I’m thinking of going back home, baby. Not this year. Next year. I’m tired of this country. Going home will be best.”
He had ended with a good night that did not come with his usual teasing. After restating that he would get himself sorted. That, he would come back for her.
“Hi fatty,” Kanyin appeared in the doorway wearing a flowing dress that was brighter than her smile. Bright with yellow and orange patterns. Her purple belt was similar to a ribbon. The ends dropped around her like garlands.
“Hey, what are you doing here?” Biba reached out for her pillows, rearranged them behind her and sat up in bed. “I thought Issy came in.”
“Yeah, she did. Now, she is on the phone in her room.”
“Why? What’s up?” She could hear Isio’s voice. It dipped as she told the person on the other end of the phone she needed an urgent appointment. Biba abandoned the pillows. By the time Kanyin reached the bed and sat beside her, she was on the edge herself. Kanyin had not spoken to her much since they all found out who fathered her child. Biba ignored her exaggerated gasp at the sight of her expanding bump. “What’s going on?”
“She came with me to my appointment at the private clinic. You know Austin has been worried about the size of my belly. He keeps saying our baby is the size of a baby slug.”
Austin did not laugh when he said this. His wife’s sulky pout forced him to say he was joking. And although they all told Austin, some babies stayed small during the first and second trimester, he continued to frown during their lunch at the shopping mall. Begged his wife to eat a big cheeseburger instead of her healthy salad. When he brought her a bowl of ice cream, she yelled that she would go and see Dr Chikere. The private doctor, her family saw for their general medical needs.
“So, what’s up with baby slug?”
“Let Austin, AKA Papa slug hear you.”
“True. We can’t have that.” Yesterday evening, Austin saw her dragging the bin bag downstairs. He had rushed over and helped her. Later, when she thanked him, he informed her of the trainee jobs on Aspire’s website. “Apply Bibs. It’s a start.” His voice had the same kind of authority he spoke to Aspire agents with on the phone.
“Nothing is wrong with baby slug,” Kanyin said. “It’s your babes we should be worried about. Remember how she was spotting for weeks after the miscarriage?”
She nodded quickly.
“You told her to go to the doctor’s.”
“Yeah, I did.”
“So, I mentioned it to Dr Chikere. I mentioned her stomach pain as well. And the doctor insisted on her having a check-up. Before I knew it, baby slug issue had been ignored. Issy is having all these tests and the doctor is giving her the concerned face.”
“Please, tell me she is not pregnant.”
“I’m not pregnant.” They heard Isio voice from the living room area.
They both looked up as she appeared at the door, holding her phone, staring at it.
“Are you not worried, babes?” Biba asked. Her friend had never been this detached. There was a time she cried about everything. Everything made her cry. Puppies. Babies. Starving kids.
“I’m having tests. No big deal.”
“No big deal?”
“So, who were you ringing moments ago?”
“My own free doctor o,” Isio eyed Kanyin. “I’m not made of money and my father is not Chief Idriss Akinwale. Let me go and do these tests with my free NHS doctor. Besides, turns out Dr Chikere is a good friend of Jay. And this silly slug mother did not tell me.”
Kanyin pouted. “Don’t let slug Daddy hear you.” She tapped her knuckles with her fingers. “Mother of big baby, please tell your babes to just go and do the tests with Dr Chikere. Just because Dr Chikere knows Jay, doesn’t mean he will blab. This is not Nigeria. He can lose his license if he tells Jay anything.”
“I can’t risk it.”
“You would rather risk your health, enh?”
“I don’t want that man finding out anything about me. It’s bad enough that my sister’s stupid fiancé thought it’s a good idea to invite him to the wedding. It’s bad enough that my sister won’t stop speaking to him. Why won’t people let me move on?”
“Every time you see Austin, you ask about Aspire. Each thing we talk about, it’s Jay this, Jay that. You are not yourself, Issy. We will all move on when you do. Not when you keep acting like you have.”
“What do you want from me?” Isio raised her voice. She kept going without pausing. Determined to speak her mind. “I’m happy with Lucky. Jay and I are done. Even Jay has gotten the message. He has stopped ringing me.”
“Go for the tests. Stop caring what this man will think.”
“Fine. I will go.”
“If you will excuse me, I need a nap. I’m working tomorrow morning. Some of us don’t have rich daddies to bail us out.”
Kanyin scoffed after she had left. They heard the bedroom door slam. “What’s going on with this girl? Is she on meth or weed?”
“Nah,” Biba chuckled. “I think it’s withdrawal symptoms.”
“She is missing whatever glorious juice Jay was administering to her.”
“You are a bad girl, Bibs. Let’s hope that’s all it is.”
“She will be fine Kanyin-babes. Soon, she will be getting it from Lucky. The withdrawal symptoms will stop.”
Obinna heard Rosa talking to someone at the same time, Isio walked into his office with Biba. Rosa came in behind them, apologising and trying to explain she tried to stop them at the door.
“It’s okay, Rosa.” He beamed as best as he could. “Hold my calls, please.” He let Rosa smile and shut the door before rising from his seat and returning Biba’s greeting. “Habiba, how are you?”
“I’m not bad.” She glanced at Isio who had not stopped frowning. “We came to sort something out downstairs. A minor problem.”
“It’s nothing minor,” Isio interrupted.
“Calm down, Issy. I’m sure he can sort it.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down. Let’s ask him why he thought it was his right to pay our rent. Six months’ rent, like that. Like it’s his business to manage our finances.”
“Someone paid your rent?” He sat back down.
Last night, he barely slept. A violent seizure gripped his daughter shortly before midnight. Hours after, she was too exhausted to speak or move. He stayed with her, telling her stories of his childhood.
He heard her this morning, praying. Asking God to make him happy. “Don’t worry about my illness. Please, make my Daddy happy again.”
“I don’t know anything about your rent, Issy.” He continued speaking because she was about to interrupt him. “Have you tried asking Damian or even Idriss?”
Biba glanced at her friend and shook her head. “Damian wouldn’t. He is angry with me.”
“Try Idriss, then. He will be at Spice Bar. Opposite the building.”
He grinned when Biba rushed off, leaving Isio behind. She strolled over to the settee by the window and went to sit down. He was staring at her, wondering how she could be so beautiful and yet oblivious to this, when her eyes met his.
“Sweetie, what’s going on with you?”
“Talk to me.”
“I’m tired. That’s all.” She concentrated on the wall beside her.
He stood up, walked over to the settee and sat beside her. Taking her hand in his did not yield what he expected. She stared at the painted nails of her other hand. He took in her appearance. Her figure-hugging dress. The straightened hair and big earrings.
“You can tell me anything, sweetie.”
“You have your life. You have Bell. This place.”
“I’m not in charge anymore here. I’m waiting for Anu to get better and that’s that. You and Bell are my priorities.”
“Don’t,” she took her hand from his. “I have a boyfriend.”
“I’m not worried.”
“I’m leaving soon. You know that.”
“You are leaving to better your career. I’m proud of you for that. If anything, it made me fall deeper for you.”
“I’m still going to leave.”
“And I will wait for you. Let’s see how long you last before you catch the train down to sneak into my room like you did last time.”
She smiled now. A bright, happy smile.
Obinna asked Rosa to tell Austin and Miles to start the Alcryd Merger meeting without him. He served her a large glass of non-alcoholic wine whilst they chatted.
The Alcryd Merger meeting and the other meetings he had later on were important to him. But he wanted to be with Isio. He wanted an opportunity to get Miles angry, too.
Despite Miles’ insistence that he had not begun a relationship with Anu, that he loved her and all he did was tell her how he felt, Obinna had not forgiven him.
It did not matter that Anu refused to start anything with Miles, seeming to cut non-working contacts with him after taking over Aspire Developments and Aspire Estate Agency.
He could not understand why Miles let what he felt for Anu bloom. Why he decided to tell her. Why they turned Aspire to an uncomfortable environment for its workers.
He felt like someone caught in the middle of a family conflict. And having Isio next to him telling him how Austin dubbed his baby a slug for its size made him laugh for the first time in a while.
They were both laughing when Rosa came back into the office, her shrill voice, apologising for the interruption.
“Director, everyone is waiting in the conference room. Austin is not here, unfortunately. Penny said he took his wife for lunch across the street.”
“When?” He barked.
“A moment ago, Director.”
“Thanks Rosa. You can go.” He raced to the table and picked up his phone. “Why didn’t you tell me Kanyin came too?” He asked Isio.
“We came together. Bibs drove Kanyin’s car.” She stood up. “What’s wrong, Jay?”
“Austin has taken Kanyin to the same restaurant Biba and Idriss are.” He said as he dialled Idriss’ number. “Idriss went for lunch on his own. Knowing him, he would have invited Biba to stay with him.”
“And Kanyin will walk in and see them together,” she gasped.
“Come sweetie. Let’s stop that from happening.”
They took the lift downstairs. They did not have to walk all the way to the restaurant. Idriss and Austin were outside of Aspire trying to pull Kanyin off Biba.
She yanked at her hair, shouting abuse at the security men who came out of the building and succeeded in grabbing her.
“She is sleeping with my father. She is a slut.”
Isio rushed over. “She is pregnant. Put her down.” She shouted at the security men who let Kanyin go immediately.
She held her as she yelled and cried whilst Idriss helped his mistress up. Austin looked like he was about to punch his father-in-law.
“They were hugging, Issy.” Obinna heard Austin’s distressed wife saying. “They were hugging.” He hurried towards them. There were people staring, cars slowing down. “Let’s take this inside, ladies. Kanyin, come inside. Please. We can fix this.”
She did not respond. She was staring at Isio as if she had realised something. “You knew, didn’t you? You knew and you didn’t tell me…” She picked up her purse off the floor and started walking.
Austin followed, glaring at his father-in-law as he headed after her. Even though, Obinna wanted to abandon the Alcryd Merger meeting and go home with Isio, she insisted on going with Idriss and Biba. “I’m fine,” she told him.
He knew her. She was not fine.
Isio could hear Dr Chikere’s voice on the bus. “You won’t be able to have children. I’m truly sorry.”
His voice was ironically soothing. It followed her effortlessly. Past his office to the waiting room. The streets. The busy train station and the overcrowded bus.
She did not want to go home. She could not face her pregnant friend. Seeing Kanyin would have been her preference. But yesterday when she knocked on her door, Austin said his wife did not want to see her.
From the door, she could see her lying on the couch with a hot water bottle. “She has stomach ache,” Austin said and shut the door.
Isio walked past clothes at the shopping mall without looking at them. When she became too tired of walking, she took the lift to the restaurant on the fourth floor. The Italian restaurant with grotesque tables and passable food. Those were Obinna’s comments when they ate there one afternoon.
She had chomped down on her food. Oblivious. Grateful. Unlike him, she had gone to bed with no food before. She had felt hunger that made her want to sleep for days. Never called food passable before.
She sat in the restaurant with a cup of tea and a bowl of pasta. The pasta bowl remained untouched. Same as her phone. Calls missed on purpose.
The restaurant became too stuffy. She paid and charted a taxi to Aspire. The lady in the reception area told her Mr Okadigbo had gone home so she ran out and stopped the taxi.
The driver drove her to Obinna’s house, reeled off a price, she would have tried to get reduced.
“He has gone out. I will tell him you came.” The plump woman that came to the door said.
Her blouse and skirt were too tight. She was not sure if she was the woman Obinna employed. She was sure, she had to see him. So, she strolled to the town centre and sought a free bench.
She called, she waited.
The quiet evening train took her back to the heart of London later. Even though, the DM she sent Lucky did not say much, he was waiting for her when she got home.
He drove her to his. Kissed her as she narrated what the doctor said. Slowly at first. Intensifying when his hands started to wander underneath her tee-shirt. “I love you,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the doctor said.”
She did not kiss him back in his bed. He was not like Obinna. He would have sensed she only wanted to feel something much more than crippling misery.
She reminded herself Lucky was there for her. Obinna –who had probably received a lengthy call from Dr Chikere – had not called her yet. Why would he? She could no longer give him children.
She woke up alone in bed. Reminded herself, Lucky was not Obinna. She could hear him talking to his brother, opening a drink. Although, she was thirsty, she did not go into the kitchen for a drink. She shifted to the other side of the bed and picked up the bottle of water on the table.
Lucky’s phone had just beeped. She glanced at the phone then peered at it. The name on the screen caught her attention first.
The name was Chibuzor. She would have decided there were other Chibuzors out there apart from Obinna’s brother without the message that followed.
Have you fucked my brother’s girl, yet? The message read.
Lucky’s snores were excruciatingly loud when Isio crept out of his room. Passing Ekong’s sleeping form on the divan and onto the street’s kerb.
Obinna had called twice by the time she found the cab station. His voicemail repeated in her head on the way home.
“Issy, I’m sorry, I wasn’t able to pick up your calls. I took Bell for her appointment at the hospital. Stupid me, I left my phone at home…I drove round to ask of you and I got told you are not in. Please call me. No matter what it is, we can fix it. Call me, my love.”
The tears did not start until much later. When the taxi dropped her off and she tiptoed into her room. She shut the door, careful not to wake her friend and sank to the floor.