Niyi had dropped Femi off at Andrew’s house and arrived back at his brother’s house before he let the day’s event weigh him down. He was the one that took Koye’s little hands off his father as the poor child asked why his daddy had to leave.
Femi had been distraught in the car, claiming he couldn’t live without his children. Niyi had fought his own thoughts to stay silent. Restrained himself from blaming his brother.
Sade let him in before he had a chance to knock. Her face still wore that look that had etched slowly on her face when she found out. He had called her as soon the three of them got back from Clara’s house, shortly after Peju asked Femi to leave. Sade had charted a taxi down immediately.
“How is she?” Niyi shut the door quietly after stepping in.
“She is asleep.” Sade smiled a reassuring smile, laden with unspoken words.
“Koye and his sister?”
“They are asleep too. You should go home and get some rest.”
“I am sorry babe.” He placed his palms on her shoulders. “I wanted to tell you but I messed up…”
“I understand Niyi.”
He pulled her towards him, resting his chin on her head. A combination of her soft floral fragrance and lemony Fairy Liquid hit him. A mixture of her familiar scent and of domesticity. Making him wonder, how lovely life would be if she toed the rest of his journey with him.
“I can’t leave her like this. She drank that whole bottle of wine in the kitchen, you know.”
Niyi kissed her head. “We will stay here together then.”
Things had not returned to normal weeks later.
Apart from Peju coming out of her near zombie state to a more vocal, vengeful state that helped her decide to make a bonfire out of her husband’s shirts.
Deep satisfaction had washed over her, the same way it had, after she scratched his Mercedes with her house keys. And when he turned up to pick the car, she’d smirked when he asked if their son had played his driver game again.
She visited Clara too, dragging Sade along. But her newly found confidence evaporated when they saw Femi’s car in front of Clara’s building.
“What is he doing there?” Peju had asked no one in particular as she drove them back home.
Sade decided something was wrong as she watched Niyi eat his last morsel of amala and ewedu. He had gone to London earlier in the day to attend a meeting with the General Medical Council. Although, he told her on the phone that the meeting went well, she didn’t like the thick silence that hung between them as he ate. It worried her.
He took his time in the kitchen – when he took his tray in –making Sade conclude he was hiding something.
“This whole business with Peju and Femi is tiring…” Niyi spoke from the kitchen. Hinting at the issue bothering him as if he could read her mind.
By the time he came back out, she had smoothed her face with a firm smile. Her worries firmly tied to the back of her mind.
“Peju called me like ten times to tell me the children were missing him. My brother called me too saying he was missing his children. But what happened last Saturday when we arranged for them to meet at the park…”
“They fought like animals.”
“Peju wants her husband home so she can make him suffer.” Niyi picked up his phone and car keys from the table. “Femi is not man enough to take whatever punishment she has stored up for him. And knowing Peju, I bet she wants to draw blood.”
Sade wanted to tell Niyi about seeing his brother’s car in front of Clara’s apartment but she knew he understood the situation only as much as Femi himself did. And as far as she was concerned, Femi seemed to be going where the wind dragged him.
“Where are you going Niyi? It is late.”
She hoped her tone showed concern. Determined not to be the nagging girlfriend, she smiled when he bent down to kiss her.
“I have to see Andy quickly. Work issues.” His face lingered next to hers. “Go to bed babe. I will wake you when I get back, if you want me to.”
“Okay darling. I am ready for bed.”
“I could tuck you in before I leave.”
She shook her head, stifling a giggle. His hand on her unclothed arm felt warm. He smelt good too. The last thing she wanted was to watch him leave but she didn’t want to be that girl.
“I will buy you something sweet from the supermarket on the way back then. We need to get your appetite back. You’ve lost too much weight.”
She caressed the smooth dark stubble on his face. “I don’t need chocolate anymore. You are my chocolate these days.”
He kissed her again and then pulled away slowly. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stay with you babe?”
“No darling. Go.
“I love you.” He said and walked out of the flat.
As soon as the door shut behind him, Sade fished out her phone from her bag. She tapped on Peju’s number, ready to continue the conversation they were having before Niyi got back.
Peju had said Clara had embarked on a mission to ostracise her friends. “Your secret is not safe with her anymore. Please find a way to tell Niyi about you and Femi before she ruins you.”
She had whittled on and on.
As Sade now waited for her patiently to pick up her phone on the other end, she realised that talking about things wouldn’t help. It was time to act.
She terminated the call and rang Mama instead.
Mama’s voice didn’t ease the tension that had hunched her shoulders but it made her smile.
“Is that you my son?”
“Mama it is me.” Sade said fighting the urge to say something naughty. Not rude. Mischievous.
It wasn’t unlike Mama to make such shocking mistakes. She probably had their numbers mixed up or perhaps all saved under something like ‘my children’. Mama had given them ample reasons to laugh with her in the past. One of such moments was when she sang happy birthday to you to Niyi when it had infact been Femi’s birthday. An incident made worse by the fact that the brothers were together and the phone, on loudspeaker.
For now, she revelled in the familiarity of Mama’s voice. And in its huskiness, when the older woman started to talk about her and Niyi.
“Tell him that this next year talk for the introduction does not sit well with you. This December will do my dear. You don’t want him to be eating all your nice stews, eating freshly pounded yam and sharing your bed when he hasn’t done the proper thing. Abeni, I know you will make him wait anyway. Abi, omo mi?”
“Mama…” The matters on Sade’s mind prevented her from giggling. From reminding Mama she was no more a teenager.
“You are too late Maami. I am already pregnant.”
A piercing scream that threatened to perforate her eardrums rang through from the other end. She nearly put the phone down, until she realised Mama’s scream was a happy one. It helped her conclude that Niyi would be happy too.
Happy tears streamed down her cheeks as Mama started to sing. Happy tears that refused to be interrupted by Mama’s choice of song.
My enemy has failed. My enemy has suffered.
My enemy has burst. My enemy will die ooo.
Clara was at a table by herself when Niyi walked into the pub. Ignoring her chirpy “hi” he asked her what she wanted to drink before going to the bar.
As the smell of lager hit his nostrils, he inhaled, knowing he had never craved beer like that in his whole existence.
The messages had started coming in since Monday but the one that came in that morning as he waited to hear the panel’s decision about his license startled him.
“It feels good watching your family fall apart. Time to confess your sins pal.”
Analysing the message – after the GMC passed a judgement of nine months suspension of his medical license – it occurred to him that, whoever was behind those messages had to be closer to home than he thought.
As he put their drinks on the table between them, the glint of the gold watch on Clara’s wrist caught his attention.
“That looks expensive.”
Clara smirked. “I work hard.” She took her glass to her mouth, watching him with steel brown eyes ringed with black and silver.
“I know you didn’t earn that lying on your back.” Niyi couldn’t help himself.
Clara raised perfectly shaped eyebrows. She put her drink back on the table. “Why did you ask me to meet you? If this is about Femi, you …”
“It isn’t. I’m here for me.”
“I need to know who paid you to mess with my family. Was it Kay? He asked you to ruin Femi’s marriage, right? I will double what he paid you if you tell me you are working for him.”
Clara picked up her bag from the table. Despite the immaculately done make-up, her face didn’t shield her feelings. “Are you back on the beer?”
She got up and started heading towards the door. He followed, quickening his pace when his target disappeared through the door.
Outside, Andrew was sitting in his car. Clara headed towards hers parked opposite the road. Niyi reached her and blocked her path before she could cross the road.
“Leave me alone.” She tried to hit him with her bag. “I didn’t ruin Femi and Peju’s marriage.”
“So, you expected your affair with Femi would do what? Strengthen their marriage?”
“They didn’t have a marriage from day one.”
Clara seemed to have regained all her confidence because Andrew had gotten out of his car and was now headed towards them.
“Your brother is still in-love with his first love. Why do you think he got her to move down here as soon as he bought a house in the area?”
It was Niyi’s turn to look stupid.
She glared at him. “Your brother loves your girl.”