Richard picked his words carefully as if he was back in his office counselling a client. “Are you saying you killed my wife?” Deep inside though, he felt the familiar pang of rage.
“What are you talking about?” Gbenga laughed. “Abi, you don’t understand English? Mr Man, you should be asking yourself why your wife is dead. As for me, I don’t know anything. Afterall, you snatched her from me before I could make her my wife. Just stay away from my Desola.”
Richard raised himself to his feet. He liked standing tall beside Gbenga’s petite frame. “I’m not going to stay away from Desola. And you can’t do jack about it. She is an adult. You should take your own advice and stay away from her. Your obsession with her is unhealthy.”
Gbenga’s eyes widened. “What are you talking about?”
“I know you are sick, Gbenga.” Richard checked the door before adding. “You need help.”
Gbenga smirked. “You’ve got it wrong Richard. She told you what you wanted to hear. I bet she didn’t tell you how she was the one who used to sneak into my room when she was twelve? Or how she used to come to my flat in Elite when she was supposed to be in school?”
Richard wanted to punch Gbenga really badly. He put his hands in his pocket to stop himself. His anger didn’t blindfold him though. He saw through Gbenga’s antics. His plan was to push him over the edge. Perhaps make him lose his temper infront of Desola and Alhaji. Then he would be blamed by Junior for ruining things with his newly-found father. He decided to make use of the things he knew about serial perpetrators of sexual abuse – their hatred of failure.
“It must really hurt you knowing you didn’t succeed with Desola. You lost Gbenga.”
Gbenga started to walk out of the room.
“Touch her Gbenga and you will have me to answer to.”
Later on that evening, despite confiding in his brother-in-law, he was yet to reach a decision. He knew the best thing to do would be to go back home to London with Junior. But he couldn’t leave Desola.
There was something he saw in Gbenga’s eyes. Something that made him wonder if Eniola’s death broke his heart too.If it was the love Gbenga felt for Eniola that stopped him from embracing his narcissistic self, what would stop him now?
Like a light bulb moment, it occurred to him that Gbenga might have meant to kill him, not Eniola. Richard was supposed to be in that car too. Gbenga was with him and Eniola when his father called to let them know what time he wanted them to pick him up from the airport.
But why would the hit men have gone ahead to shoot her, knowing they had the wrong person?
He had managed to give Fausat a phone for Desola before they left Alhaji’s house. He wanted her to be able to ring him anytime she needed to. He sighed, happy that he had thought of it. A knock on the bedroom door interrupted his thoughts. Junior walked in with a sour face.
Richard patted the side next to him on the bed. “Sit down, son.” As soon as the boy had taken his seat, he put his hand on his back. “I want you to know that you will always be my son, no matter what. And, I am proud of you, son. I know today was strange. But things will get better.”
“He wasn’t what I expected, Dad.” Junior piped.
“Well, you have just met him today.”
Junior rubbed his palms together. “I know, but I like the others I met today. Dee’s brother, Suab is cool. Her sisters are lush. I mean…cute.”
Richard grinned. “Watch it, son, they are your cousins.”
“But… Uncle Gbenga…is not like you, Dad,” Junior continued, despite his voice wavering. “I’m thrilled that you let me meet him but he ain’t what I expected.”
Richard didn’t know what to say.
“Dad, he was asking me all these weird questions, like if you have loads of girlfriends, if I have a Trust Fund and a British passport.”
“What?” Richard couldn’t believe his ears. “I hope you didn’t tell him you have a Child Trust Fund.”
“Nope, Dad,” he switched to Yoruba. “I’m not stupid.”
His son’s wisdom didn’t surprise him. But his announcement shocked him the following day, when he told him he would like to go and spend the rest of his holiday in his paternal Grandad’s house in Lagos. His brother-in-law suggested that his son could go up with him and keep an eye on him. Richard knew he would rest easy if Junior was in Lagos. His father’s housekeeper would keep an eye on him, too. So he agreed, after making sure Junior was fine by the decision he made.
He was half-asleep on the sofa when Desola turned up on Friday evening. They hugged before she started to apologise for not returning his calls.
“I was getting worried.” His arm stayed on her back. “I drove down to your house yesterday. I saw your father’s car and turned my car round. I decided I like my head sitting on my neck.”
She giggled. “That’s why I haven’t been able to call or come round. For some reason, my father has been at home almost everyday. And my uncle has been there too, watching me like a hawk.”
“I thought you said your uncle went back to stay in his flat in Elite.”
“That was on Tuesday. He came back on Wednesday night,” Desola explained, as they took their seat next to each other on the sofa.
“I have missed you.” She buried her face on his chest.
“Me, too.” Worry gnawed his insides. “Has something happened? Whatever it is, just tell me.”
Her head shifted so she could look into his eyes. “I miss you, that’s all.”
“Your father called me yesterday. He said he is travelling to Osogbo with your mum and the junior wives. Is your uncle going with him?”
Desola nodded. “Yeah, they have all left for Osogbo. Daddy’s friend lost his father, so they have all gone down there. He asked us to go but I didn’t fancy spending another day with Uncle.” She put her right palm in his. “Hadija and Zaynab have gone back to the school hostel. We can rest easy now.”
“Gbenga is a very dangerous man, sweetheart. You and Fausa need to tell your father everything. I can come with you if you want.”
Her hand kept playing with his, tracing the inside of his palm as if she could look into his future.
“Perhaps, you should come back with me and Junior then, Desola, if you’d rather not tell your dad. Come back to London.”
“I can’t leave my sister, Richard. I can’t.”
He put his arm round her to reassure her.
He wanted her to curl up next to him, his arms encircling her small waist to protect her from harm. He wanted to be able to breathe the air she inhaled, to bury his lips in her soft skin.
But soon she announced that she had to leave. It was nearly 8.00pm. Fausat would be waiting for her at home. He drove her home, taking a longer route so they could be together for longer.
Outside Alhaji’s house, he leaned in for a kiss. They kissed for a while, savouring the moment until Desola pulled away.“I really have to go.”
“Do you really have to, babe?”
“Yep,” she smiled. “Our neighbours attend the same mosque as my father.”
“Come down tomorrow then. I’ll be in allday. We can go somewhere nice. Ola’s wife is in Lagos, so feel free to come round anytime.”
Richard didn’t start the car until she was tucked behind the big black gates of Alhaji’s house.
Desola was smiling from ear-to-ear when she greeted Baba Risi by the gate. Things were going right for her and Richard at last. She walked into the main sitting room and stopped in the doorway. Her feet wouldn’t take her any further. Gbenga was there standing by the window, wearing a frown on his face.
“It is a good thing I changed my mind about going to Osogbo. Is this what you do as soon as Alhaji’s back is turned? Going around with men, whoring yourself like a prostitute?”
Fortified because she could hear Fausat and their housemaid’s voice coming from the kitchen, she turned round and headed down the hallway to meet the girls in the kitchen.
Desola had only been asleep for around fifteen minutes when a noise woke her. She stirred Fausa and their housegirl, Florence, awake.
“I think he is awake,girls. Remember what we planned if he comes in here?” Desola asked.
Fausat picked up one of her high-heeled shoes from the floor. “We will fight him.”
They heard a muffled sound, followed by what Desola guessed had to be the sound of someone struggling. Both girls stared at her. Desola decided to save whoever it was that had fallen victim to her evil uncle. No one should suffer at his hands anymore because they wear a skirt or dress. They walked downstairs slowly, each woman picking up her feet carefully. Desola got downstairs first.
She stopped in her tracks, transfixed to the spot by an unexpected sight. Standing with her uncle in the sitting room were four men in balaclavas.