It wasn’t hunger that drove Sade to root for food in her fridge after three days of living on water and crying like a starving infant. It was the realisation that her baby needed nourishment. The realisation that her baby needed a sane mother. Not one that hung her head low as soon as her man left.
She had a bowl of his healthy Shredded Wheat because nothing else appealed to her. And then her eyes started to droop. A relief she welcomed with both hands. Glad to be free from worrying about her future, she reached for her phone and switched it off.
Peju wouldn’t stop ringing her even though Sade had hinted that the solitary confinement could not possibly make her shattered heart feel worse. To top it off, every time the phone rang she jumped up hoping it was him on the phone. Even when a text message came in from Nono, her friend at work, she had stared at the name on her phone willing the name to change to Niyi.
Niyi had barely checked into his hotel in Dublin when his phone beeped. It was a text message from a blocked number.
You refused to confess your sins bad boy. Watch me take your family out one by one. I will start with the luscious Sade. Don’t worry, I will be gentle. I won’t spill her blood the way you killed Jennifer.
The only person that had ever called him bad boy was Miguel, Jennifer’s lover. A drug dealer.
He hauled his luggage into his hotel room and dialled Andrew’s number immediately. His hands were sweaty but not nearly as drenched as his face. He had started to sweat despite the cool air that greeted him as soon as he walked into the suite.
“Tudo bom?” Andrew answered on the other end. “Have you checked in? Go to bed early our client is a morning man…”
“I just got another seedy text. Is Femi with you?”
“Yeah. He is dosing off on the sofa.”
“Put the phone on speaker.” Niyi said, not masking the impatience in his voice. He waited until he heard Femi’s voice saying a tired hi. “I need your help bro. Do you remember me telling you about those texts?”
“He don send another one?”
Femi sounded tired.
Niyi kept going.
“I think it is Jennifer’s drug dealer after me. I don’t have time to explain but he sent another message threatening to take my family out. I need you to go and check on Sade and Peju. Please bro. Andy will come with you.”
The phone was quiet for a few seconds that ticked by like minutes to Niyi. He could picture his brother glancing at Andrew’s petite body, analysing the situation with his lawyer brain.
“You said the guy is a drug dealer? I think we should call the police Big Bro. You know I’m not a big man. I’m not even well today. Cold is killing me.”
“I don’t think reporting him to the police will help my case. He had a thing for Jennifer and now…I think he blames me for her death. All I need you to do is check on the girls.”
“But you said the guy is a drug dealer naa. Tan fe ku? If I die today, Peju will marry another man and claim it is to provide a father for our kids. Let me call the police, I no wan die…”
“Think of your kids Femi. Get off your backside for their sake. I will be on the first flight I can catch out of here.”
“Calm down amigo.” Andrew’s voice came on the phone. “We will go round right now. I will ask Kenzi and his brother to come too.”
“We will go to my family first.”
Niyi heard Femi say before the call terminated.
He dialled Sade’s number and his heart sank when her voicemail came on.
Although, Niyi had spoken to Andrew, he refused to believe Sade was fine until he saw her the next day – curled up on the sofa in his brother’s house. As he hugged his niece and nephew, his eyes locked with hers. And as soon as the children let him go, he strode over to the sofa and hugged her, refusing to take the hands she put between them as a clue to anything.
“I’m glad you are fine.”
Sade withdrew from him to look into his eyes. “Femi said a drug dealer is after you…and us.”
“Thanks bro.” Niyi shot Femi a sour look where he was at the entrance of the kitchen.
He noticed his brother chose a safe distance away from the door whilst Andrew sat on a dining chair by the door. He had seen Andrew’s friends in a car parked outside but something told him if a group of thugs were to burst into the house, Femi would be out through the back door faster than his wonky legs had carried him in the past. Faster than a penny would take to travel from mid-air to the floor.
“How are you Big Bro?” Femi asked with a wide grin that crinkled his face. It was one of those grins that reached both ears so as to appear genuine.
From Femi’s pathetic grin, Niyi deduced that Sade had told his brother, he knew about their one night together.
He suddenly wished the city of Dublin still had him in the comfort of its autumn air. Spending the next few days in the same house with the brother that made his girl a woman wouldn’t be easy.
Sade got ready for the night in the en-suite bathroom. By the time she walked into the master bedroom, Peju had packed her slim frame on the bed in a nightwear that revealed more than it covered.
“Do I look like your man?” Sade eyed her friend’s long legs on the bed, wrinkling her face in a false frown. “Move your skinny naked legs joor, I need to sleep.”
“Sade, please don’t squash me in my sleep with your booty.”
Peju stopped smiling when her friend narrowed her eyes at her.
“How can you sleep anyway, when we have a crazy man threatening to get us?”
“Don’t worry Peju, Femi is guarding the house downstairs.”
“Femi that can’t even kill a spider. You think that one that hid behind me when a Chihuahua puppy charged at us at the park can protect anyone. Give me a break, he will abandon us if he hears a knock on that door.”
Sade would have smiled if the situation hadn’t impregnated her with this heaviness that threatened to choke life out of her.
“You need to go to the spare room and talk to Big Bro.” Peju sighed, “I know he is doing his best but …”
“I know. We need to do something.”
“The last thing I need is Femi sleeping in this house. My children are confused enough. He asked me if he could sleep on this bed with me when I went downstairs.”
“Does he have a memory impairment or something?” Sade picked up her dressing gown and strapped it over her pyjamas.
“Why are you covering up as if Big Bro has not seen it all before? Abi, tibi that im score na miraculous conception?” Peju reduced her voice to a whisper. “Tell him about the baby. Hopefully, that will help him come to his senses.”
“I don’t want to add to his worries.” Sade whispered and then headed for the door.
He was leaning on the frame of the open window when she walked in without knocking. He had changed into a pair of shorts and white vest top. Despite not having his work suit on, he looked as dashing as ever. Perhaps even more so. Her heart dropped into her stomach when he turned to her. Everything about him fought against her will. His lean toned frame. The aftershave that lingered in her senses. The depth to his voice.
“Are you okay?” Niyi moved closer.
The lights were off. Perhaps to make the street move visible. She could see him. All of him. Thanks to the street light that shone into the room like a beacon.
“I’m tired. I can’t sleep knowing we are not safe.”
“Sleep here.” Niyi pointed at the double bed in the room. “You will be safe here. I will be at the window if you need me.” His eyes searched through her as if they could reach her core. “I’m sorry about the way I lost it. Please forgive me.”
“Can you forgive me?”
“Of course darling. There is nothing you can do that will change how I feel. I forgave you as soon as I found out. I will forgive you anything. Anything baby.”
Somehow they moved closer, until his palm was on her shoulder and his face lowered to claim her mouth.
He kissed her, pulling her body harshly into his as if his life depended on it. For the first time in his life, he felt the need to make her belong to him. The way his heart beat in rhythm to hers told him to hold tighter. Even in his rage, desire travelled through his body to settle in his loins.
She had half-expected him to lead her to the bed – but in the fashion of a popped balloon the kiss finished. Niyi tore his face away from hers.
“It is too soon.” He murmured without letting go.
“You need to relax, Femi is downstairs.”
Niyi corked his face to the side. “Perfect timing. I’m holding you, fighting my mind not to recreate that picture of you two together and then you bring him up.”
He bent his head to hers again but she pulled away, having seen the bottle of whisky and the glass cup on the small table in the corner of the room.
Niyi’s eyes followed hers to the table as he let go of her. “I had a glass. You can’t blame me for needing a drink after what you two did.”
“You said you’ve forgiven me.”
“It is the forgetting part that is proving impossible.” He tapped his head. “I can’t get the image out of my head. All I could see when I kissed you was the two of you together…”
“Forget this then. We are done if you have to get drunk to be with me.”
Sade ran out of the room. A strange blast of cold air hit her in the hallway. Right from the inside. And she knew it wasn’t the central heating that had gone off. She kept walking. Heading downstairs –despite the tears half-blinding her sight. She didn’t stop. The last thing she wanted was to face Peju. Or the man that kept aiming at her heart as if he was on a mission to kill her.
Femi was sprawled on the sofa in the lounge, snoring as if he hadn’t slept for weeks. Although the front door was locked, standing in the room felt eerie tonight. She wiped her face and headed to the kitchen.
Her boss had taught her how to make coffee strong enough to keep the laziest bones awake. One weak cup for her and a strong one for Femi. Trusting her life into a snoring Femi’s hands seemed illogical. She would brew him a caffeine fix that would keep him standing for three days.
She had stepped into the kitchen before she saw them. Red letterings written in bold on the kitchen’s back door.
It read, Bad Boy.
Curiosity took her closer to the door. Her heart was pounding fiercely. Perhaps this was why she didn’t notice the muddy footprints until her feet were resting on them.
It was then she noticed that the back door was pulled to the door panel but not completely shut. Someone else was in the house with them.
She heard something behind her and before she could turn around, gloved hands had clasped around her. The right one, cold and steel against her mouth.
“Move and you are dead.”