Desola was wheeled away for tests as soon as they arrived back at the hospital. His questions of, “Has she got a brain injury?” “Will she survive?” were ignored by the young-looking doctors rushing about.
“I didn’t notice the bruise on her head until she collapsed,” he told his brother-in-law. Her curly weave had done a good job of hiding the bruise. Although, his mind couldn’t settle, he knew that a sharp blow to the head could have caused her seizure. He had attended too many first aid trainings- thanks to the NHS- not to spot the signs. Signs he should have known were symptoms of head trauma had littered the night. She was unconscious when he found her in the house. Drowsy and lethargic later. A trembling Fausat confirmed that Desola banged her head during the scuffle with the armed men.
He was by Desola’s bed on Saturday afternoon with Fausat when he found out that Gbenga had become just a body. He was still by her bedside when Alhaji and Desola’s mother arrived. As soon as he saw the frown on the older man’s face he assumed he didn’t really want him there. When he walked out for some fresh air, Alhaji followed him.
“You can go now.” The older man’s frown had been replaced by a severely pulled face.
“I’m waiting for Desola to wake up Alhaji.”
Alhaji raised his hand at him. “Do you think I’m a fool? If you don’t walk away now, I will get security to throw you out.”
Richard could not bear it anymore. “It’s too late to start playing the protective father. Where were you when your brother set his eyes on your daughters?”
If Ola had not come for him then, saving him from Alhaji’s clenched fists, Richard knew he would have kissed the rich earth of the hospital grounds.
Sunday morning peaked with sunshine rays before the news came to him. Fausat and Suab knocked on the door to tell him their sister, who was now conscious,wanted to see him. At the ward, he hugged her until she begged him to let go.
“How are you feeling?”
“Sore from the way you just grabbed me,” she teased.
He laughed. When he’d finished laughing, a grin took residence on his face. That grin remained there even when he had to leave her side because her dad was on his way to see her.
Richard was in bed when she arrived four days later. He had only seen her once after her discharge from the hospital on Monday. But that visit was fraught with tension as her whole household had to keep an ear out for Alhaji’s car. He heard her in the sitting room talking to Ola. Before he could get up to put on his clothes, she was in the room.
“Hi, beautiful,” he greeted.
Desola looked beautiful. Stunning. He could barely contain himself when his stubborn eyes skimmed her legs. She had on a short lilac dress that showed her long legs.Wavy curls bounced about on her head, complimenting the dangling gold earrings in her ears.
“I can’t believe you are in bed at this time.It looks like your age is catching up on you,” she teased.
“Well, come here then. Let me show you how young I feel.” The words had left his mouth before his lips could smack back in place.
Desola took her seat on the bed after taking off her shoes. The lights were dimmed, but underneath the light sheet that covered him, she knew exactly what his chest looked like. His taut shoulders were uncovered. She looked away. The torture was too much for her.
“What are you doing here at this time, babe?” Richard asked. “I’m not complaining. It’s good to see you looking a lot better.I mean…gorgeous.”
She leaned over and kissed him. Words deserted him. He’d wanted to ask her how her head felt. When she moved on top of him, he decided her head couldn’t have felt better. Her hand strayed from his neck to his chest.Richard tore his lips from hers and grabbed her hand.
“I thought you wanted to wait.”
Desola moved a strand of hair from her face. “You are going back to London the day after tomorrow, sweetheart. I will miss you.”
“I will miss you too. But you will be back in London soon, babe.” He exhaled as she wrapped her arms round him and her lips lingered on his neck. “I’m just not prepared. And I don’t want you to do something you will regret.”
“You are just scared my dad will have your head,” she chuckled.
“Something like that. Anyway, it’s really late. Let me get dressed and take you back home.”
Richard knew he had to get her to go home. Deep down though, he didn’t want her to go. Temptation overwhelmed him to the brink of faltering. The old Richard took advantage of her once. The new Richard knew a wise bird would always take its time building its nest.
“My brother is waiting for me in the car outside. Don’t worry, I know where I’m not wanted,” she snapped.
He reached for her and grabbed her waist before she could get away from him. He held on to her, aware that holding her close was not doing anything to quench the fire in his groin.
“See, I want you. Don’t ever doubt it.” They both knew it was impossible for him to be any more aroused. He lay back in bed after she had taken a spot on the edge of the bed.
“Is this about your uncle?”
She shook her head.
“You shouldn’t care. Junior didn’t come down from Lagos for his burial despite the fact that he only knows half of the story. You know what evil that man did.” He paused, “So everything else is fine, Innit?”
“I’m not coming back to London, Richard.”
Because she spoke without turning round to face him, he swore he had heard her wrong.
“What do you mean?” He sat up and guided her round to face him. Her face was wet. Confusion muddled his mind, distorting his speech. “Adesola…please tell me…you are saying you can’t come right now? You want to wait till next month?”
Desola’s tears wet the pink blush she had dabbed on her face after donning her dress.The conversation with her father that evening had lasted ten minutes. The longest conversation she’d ever had with him.
“My father has asked me to stay. I think he wants to make it up to me.” She grabbed his hands when he tried to move away from her. “Please…I’m not trying to hurt you on purpose. But, I need to do this. I hate leaving them behind. I get lonely. It’s hard living thousands of miles away from my family…”
“Babe, you have a family in London. There is Sister Grace… and my poor daughters who kept asking when you’re coming back when we spoke to them on Monday. Perhaps you just don’t love the girls enough?”
“You know I do…”
“Then come back to London. Me, Junior and the girls will be all the family you need.” He wiped her tears with his thumb. “You can come home every year to see Fausa and your parents.”
It was his wedding ring, which dug into her skin as his palm cupped her chin, that took her back to the question her father asked earlier that day.
“My daughter,omo ola o re ibikan, you will do well to listen to your father. Tell me, why are you wasting your time with a man that already has a wife?” Alhaji had continued when she tried to correct him, “My daughter, his wife may be dead but the flame of their love is still clearly burning in his heart. The face he wears is as if tragedy struck yesterday. Stay home with your father omo mi. We will find you your own husband. Someone around your own age.”
Desola found her voice. “My father wants me to stay Richard. I think he doesn’t like the idea of me going back to be your lover.”
“Okay,” he sighed. “How would you feel if I go to see your father with my people?”
“I don’t understand.”
He moved closer to her, his hands stroking hers. “I want you to come back as my wife.”
She stared at him for what seemed like ages, until he was sure that her stare was turning into a glare. The way Eniola’s smile had turned into a glare when he proposed.
Desola could hear her heart thumping against her chest. “Richard…you know I can’t…”