Dapo Olakitan stepped out of the car, the only thought in his head being Lara and if she was going to be alright. His mother had called last night panicking and he’d assured her that he was coming over to see her first thing in the morning. He heard she had been discharged and so he knew it wasn’t serious. Maybe she was having her usual fight with Soji.
It was amazing the two lasted for 3 years together. He was surprised one hadn’t killed the other yet. He had tried everything within his power to convince her that she could do better than the guy but Lara was a girl that loved to do as she wished. Being a strong willed girl and the only girl, their parents had spoiled her to the core. Everything she ever wanted they gave. After his birth, the doctor had told his mother her chances of getting pregnant were slim to none and so when Lara came to stay after 10 years and two consecutive miscarriages, it was all they could do not to spoil her.
She was like their most cherished treasure and they ensured she never lacked anything. The best schools, the best clothes and the best environment and he could see the effect of her background telling on her already. He hadn’t been fortunate as she was. Their father had spent his time disciplining his son so that he would be like him and even much better. He’d grown to be content with whatever he was being given since he’d been born at a time they were not so rich and famous.
Lara had been born into wealth and grew with it as she was never content. He remembered when they were little and how she would run up to him excitedly begging him to carry her. They would run around and he’d allow her play with his toys because she thought them cute. He liked the way her ribbons and her dresses made her look pretty and how she always wanted him to play with her.
But she grew up and she preferred the company of her shallow-minded friends to his company. She saw money and that became her best friend. She tasted wine and wasn’t content with one glass. She snubbed anything that was below her status whatever that was and there came the time he had to keep his distance except she needed him. Chief Olakitan had expected him to take over the Kitan’s dynasty but he had politely refused knowing it wasn’t God’s will for his life.
Their father got upset and handed over to Lara who was obviously making a mess of things with her celebrity life though Chief was hiding his pride and often boasted that she was running it well.
“Dapo love!” His mother greeted immediately he stepped into the foyer of the large building. She was looking radiant and beautiful as usual in her petite form like she never grew old.
He was beginning to see one of the reasons why his father was sticking with her as his only wife. His other colleagues married more than one wife, he’d been with their mother for ages. He wasn’t sure about his concubines, but she was the woman of his life every moment, the woman who stood beside him in every occasion, the woman who legally bore his surname and had their father eating from the palm of his hands. He wasn’t aware of anything that happened behind the scenes, but sometimes he tried to convince himself that he saw what he wanted to see and hopefully they maintained it that way.
He pulled her into a warm embrace and they lingered for a while. When she released him, it was to run her hands on his blazer and assess him to her satisfaction.
“You look good, I’m so glad you honored my request my dear.”
“You know you’re my mother any day anytime. I’d be a fool without training to despise you.”
She smiled softly and caressed his matted beard. He knew what she was thinking and he hoped she wouldn’t bring it up this time. The thought of bringing a woman home who was going to be his wife at his age wasn’t something up for discussion.
“How’s Lara? I hope she’s better.” He broke into her thoughts reminding her why he was here in the first place.
“Oh she was discharged this morning and we’re glad it’s nothing serious. Her friends are with her upstairs though you can check on her briefly. She would be more than happy to see you came to see her.”
Wasn’t it too early for her friends to flock around her if she was just discharged? He thought to himself but smiled at his mother not wanting to give her other things to think about.
Sometimes they both knew truths that none of them were willing to spill out. Maybe someday but not today.
“When you come downstairs, I’ve told the maids to make us breakfast. I do hope you can stay at least for some minutes. We have so much to catch up on.”
“Oh he’s fine, up and about as usual. He took the first flight to London this morning, said he had a meeting. The usual.”
Her smile was stiff this time though she did well in hiding it.
He nodded and found his way upstairs and wondering how so much had changed since the last time he was here. The house looked like a palace made for kings, even the stairs had been exquisitely decorated and on the walls hung unfamiliar paintings and those of his parents in their youth. Other pictures graced the walls which he didn’t bother glancing at till he got to his sister’s room.
He could hear them giggling and chatting and laughing and so he went ahead to knock.
“Who is it?”
“It’s Dapo, your brother.”
He heard someone squeal and run towards the door. When it flew open, he saw Lara looking hale and hearty before she jumped on him excitedly.
“I’ve missed you, I’ve missed you.” She squeezed him till he thought she was going to suffocate the life out of him.
“Hey sugar bunny.” He managed coughing playfully so that she could release him and slide her arms into his, pulling him into the room fully.
“Brother Dapo, I’d like you to meet my friends, Mabel, Tola, Clara, Maxine and Angel. Girls, meet my one and only most amazing brother in the world Dapo Kitan also known as D.K.”
They waved shyly and flashed him their gorgeous smiles. He hardly noticed one of them. He had come for one person only and that was his sister.
“How are you feeling now?” He asked her glancing briefly at her as she was only in denim shorts and a tank top.
When they told him his sister had an accident, he’d thought he was coming to meet someone in bed, looking sober and wanting him to gist her about what had been happening in his life since he left home.
But no, he was meeting the same Lara he’d left behind. And she seemed to be excited, a little over the top for someone who was reported to be near death.
“Oh I’m better.” She smiled and asked. “I hope you’re staying for breakfast. I’d love you to stay. Kemi is also coming over! Your favorite cousin. The way you two talk makes me jealous sometimes.”
He smiled, intentionally allowing her remark about Kemi being his favorite cousin slide. The last thing he wanted from her right now was a comparison game. It was better to let sleeping dogs lie. He knew his sister loved to be the only person in someone’s life. “I’m glad you’re better. Though I wouldn’t be staying long but I do hope we get to talk.”
“Oh of course. I wanted to talk to you too.”
“It’s ditto then.”
Nimi tried not to feel intimidated on seeing the house Kemi had invited her to spend the weekend. She’d heard so much about the Kitan’s mansion in Lekki but had never seen it with her real eyes. She was trying to take in the fact that houses like this existed in Lagos. On their way inside, the guards ushered them inside and they drove till they got to the door which she assumed to be the main entrance.
“I hope we’re in time for breakfast.” Kemi told her and she smiled because they hadn’t had anything since they left the house and she was hungry as well. She glanced around the house taking glimpses of the sculptures, the large fountain and the flowers that decorated the environment and was making the large house look like a small tourist attraction center.
They found their way inside the house and just as they moved away from the foyer and towards the hallway, Kemi spotted Dapo coming downstairs with Nimi.
“Uncle Dapo!” She screamed excitedly and ran to him dropping her bag on the floor.
“Kemistry!” Dapo smiled receiving her in a warm embrace. They laughed and pulled at each other before he teased.
“What have you been smoking? I want some of it.”
She nudged him playfully. “Aww c’mon! What did I do this time?”
“See you looking almost taller than myself. I feel young when I should be looking older.”
She chuckled and hugged him again. “Oh how much I’ve missed you Uncle D.”
Someone coughed and she turned to see her cousin who rolled her eyes playfully. “Some people obviously don’t miss us as much as they miss our brother.”
Kemi forced a smile and reached for her other cousin. “Of course you’re the reason I’m here sweetheart, and I’ve missed you too.” She leaned close to embrace her and Lara received her.
Nimi watched the false exchange between the two and wondered how her friend was playing her role quite well which she obviously couldn’t do. She saw Lara Olakitan and couldn’t believe her eyes. She was seeing this girl real life. The girl whose life everyone envied online, the girl who was like Naija’s Kim Kardashian and swam in wealth. She had everything every girl could wish for, even a brother that made the word gorgeous pale in comparison to himself.
Just then his eyes caught hers and she knew she’d been staring too long. Blinking back and looking away immediately, she focused on her friend Kemi who was still chatting with Lara excitedly one would think they were best friends forever.
“Who’s this?” Dapo asked rather arrogantly and that was enough to bring her back to reality.
Or was it just in her head because he was watching her with certain curiosity.
“Oh, that’s my friend and roommate, Oluwalonimi Adeyemi. I invited her over.” She looked from Dapo’s eyes to Lara’s. “I hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course not, as long as she’s not a reporter or one of those pathetic gossip bloggers.” Lara smiled and waved.
“Hello…, nice to see you.”
“Hi.” Nimi waved politely. “Nice to see you too.”
She strolled downstairs and touched her cheeks playfully. “How old are you, you look like a baby.”
Nimi shrugged smiling back. She got that a lot. “26.”
“Ladies don’t say their age…” She pouted childishly. “You’re not a lady.”
“Lara!” Her brother scolded.
“What, I’m just saying my mind.” She turned back to Nimi. “I like you already though. You seem like a honest person. I hope you tell Kemi the truth about her teeth.”
Kemi grated her teeth and would have slapped her if not for Dapo who was still holding her hand. She’d been told to wear braces because of her spacious teeth and the front one seemed to have chipped off but she hated them because they made her look ugly. Nimi was aware of this.
“I think she has beautiful teeth.” Nimi smiled. “Just the way I think you’re beautiful without your make-up.”
“Oh, thank you.”
“Come with me, you’ll sit beside me at the breakfast table. I think we’ll do well together.”
She turned and gave Kemi a wink before walking away. Kemi knew what Lara was doing. Her wink explained it all.
You can have my brother but I’ll have your friend.
Her only fear was Nimi might just be what Lara needed to manipulate once more to her advantage. She just hoped her friend was wise enough to know the difference between someone who wanted to be her friend and someone that wanted to use her.
Much love. xo!