The next day Ugochi received a call from Frederick.
“Hello dear,” he answered. “I just received a very distressing call from Ijay some minutes ago. She said it seemed your man saw us together the other day.”
“Yes, I think he did. It’s not confirmed yet but he’s been acting very strange. I think that could be the reason for his behavior, although he hasn’t asked me directly.”
“Ugochi, don’t you think it’s time we come clean? I mean, we are not helping anybody by being secretive. I think it is better we call Ikem and tell him about this. At least now that he seems to be suspecting you.”
“Do you think he’s ready to hear this yet? Personally, I don’t think he’s ready for a revelation of this magnitude. After all, I know him better than you do.”
“I know we agreed to take our time and break it to him gently but I don’t think we can go through that same route now that he is suspecting you. I believe it is better we come clean and just get it over with.”
“I understand you. Can you give me time to sort this out my own way? At least allow me determine what he knows first. This might not even be about us, you know?”
“Okay then. Let’s know what he knows first. Then we can make our decisions based on that.”
“Good. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Yeah, later. Bye dear.”
By the time Ikem got home, he was boiling with anger. His stomach felt tight with tension and his chest felt like it was going to burst from holding in his temper. After that ridiculous lunch meeting with Donald, he had not been able to hold back the anger churning in him. The nerve of Ugochi. A woman he had loved for three years, and for her to treat him this way? It was disrespectful, it was disheartening, and above all, it pissed him off.
He slammed into the house only to find Ugochi seated calmly on the settee in the living room watching a movie. She was sprawled on the settee, a bowl of nuts beside her and a chilled glass of wine on the stool where her hand can easily pick it up.
Ikem stood behind her for a minute, breathing in and out, trying to calm himself and probably find a way to ice down the hot pool of anger in his belly. He was not succeeding though. The sight of her seated there, seemingly without a care in the world just annoyed him the more. He couldn’t fathom how she would throw away three years of a loving relationship just like that. And she didn’t even have the decency to tell him it was over? Instead, she was sneaking around, going behind his back and seeing different men. He decided to confront her once and for all.
Ugochi looked up when she saw Ikem, and smiled. “Oh hi baby. I didn’t hear you come in, I was so engrossed in this movie,” she sat up. “Have you been here long?”
“No, I just came in.” he wanted so much to slap that smug look off her face.
“Okay, welcome. How was work today?”
“I went to see Donald during the lunch hour.”
“Oh, okay. How is he? Hope there is no problem with him?”
“He told me something I found very hard to believe. How could you Ugochi?”
“How could I what? You’re not making any sense Ikem.” Ugochi said as her heart hammered furiously in her chest. Here it comes, she thought.
“Do you want to sit there and pretend you don’t know what I am talking about? You honestly want to play dumb with me?” his voice rose any octave as he talked. By the time he finished the sentence, he was shouting.
“Ikem, keep your voice down please, and explain to me what you are going on about.”
“I don’t owe you any explanation. You are the one who has a lot to explain so you better start now.”
Ugochi watched him calmly. She has to be absolutely sure of what he is referring to before she can even offer any form of explanation. What if he is not talking about what she thought?
“Ikem, you know I love you, but this behavior of yours is not helping matters at all. Sit down, and let’s talk about this like the adults we are.”
Ikem was so mad, he could barely see straight. “Are you insinuating that I am acting like a child? Is that what you are saying to me, Ugochi?”
Before she could answer, he dragged her up, and rained two slaps on her face. The force of the slap staggered her and she found herself on the floor. Before she could react and defend herself, he started punching her, hitting her over and over until she curled into a tiny ball of pain and agony. Only then did he release her. He was breathing heavily, in and out, while she just laid on the floor whimpering like an injured animal.
She couldn’t stand up, she couldn’t scream, all that came out of her were small whimpers, a sound very similar to that of an animal in terrible pain.
“In fact, I want you out of my house,” Ikem raged as he gave her a swift kick. “Go in there, pack your properties, and get the heck out of my house. I don’t ever want to see your face here anymore, you liar and cheat.” He stormed into the bedroom and Ugochi could hear him throwing things around like a mad man.
She dragged herself off the floor, painfully and little by little until she got to the place where she placed her phone earlier. Despite the pain fogging her mind and brain, she knew she had to call for help before Ikem came back to finish what he had started.
She dialed Dawn’s number with shaky fingers. Dawn lives close by and she can get there within a few minutes.
“Hey girl, what’s up?” Dawn said as soon as she picked.
Ugochi started sobbing. “Please come to the house to get me….come quickly before he kills me.” she managed to say into the receiver before collapsing on the floor.
Dawn stared at the phone in her hand as if it was a snake coiled to strike. She gingerly placed the phone on the table staring at it all the while, unable to process what she just heard. Did Ugochi just say someone will kill her? She turned to Paul, her boyfriend of two weeks, who was staring at her, waiting for her to say what the problem was.
“That was Ugochi. She told me to come pick her up before someone kills her.” saying it out loud like that propelled her to action. She jumped to her feet and dragged Paul by the hand. “Come on, we need to move.”
“What exactly is the problem? What did she say?” he asked as he grabbed his car keys and watched her put on shorts and a T-shirt hurriedly.
“She was crying, and she said I should come get her before someone kills her.”
“Did she say where she was?”
“No. but when I talked with her earlier, she said she was home. She sounded fine then. I can only assume it’s a problem between her and her man.”
By this time they were driving out of the compound. Dawn quickly dialed Ijay’s number as she gave Paul directions. Maybe she could give some meaning to this mess. Ijay picked on the first ring.
“Hi dear. What’s up? Why are you calling so late?”
“It’s Ugochi. She called me now to come pick her before someone kills her. I don’t know what is going on. I’m on my way to her house now though.”
“Kills her? Really? How did she sound?”
“She was crying. She sounded scared.”
“Yeah. I’ll let you know. We are at her place now.”
“Paul is with me.”
“Okay then. Keep me posted.”
They dropped the call just as Paul drove into the compound. Dawn barely waited for the car to come fully to a stop before opening the door and hurrying out. Paul was right behind her. She knocked loudly when she got to the door. She could hear shouting coming from within. She knocked again.
Few moments later Ikem came to the door. He was sweating profusely and breathing heavily. “What do you want?” he asked blocking the door
Dawn tried to look behind him into the room but she couldn’t see anything. “Where is Ugochi?” she demanded
“She is inside. I’ve packed all her stuff, I don’t want anything with a liar and a cheat.” He stepped back and Dawn rushed inside.
Ugochi was sprawled on the settee in the living room. Dawn covered her mouth with her palm to keep from screaming when she saw her. Her face was covered in bruises, one eye swollen shut and there was a deep cut on her lower lip. There were bruises all over her body too, it was like she was involved in a motor accident.
“What in God’s name happened to you?” Dawn exclaimed
Ugochi pried her one good eye open. She blinked the eye several times before focusing on Dawn. She tried to sit up and groaned in pain. Paul quickly came forward to help her up. “Dawn, is that you?” she asked feebly.
“Yes dear. What happened to you?”
“Can you get me out of here first? I’ll explain to you later, please.”
“Okay, okay.” Dawn went to the other side of her and guided her to the door. They met Ikem by the door, still sweating, his arms crossed on his chest and his right leg jiggling as if preparing for battle.
“I don’t ever want to see you in this house today.” He said once they got to where he was stationed by the door. “Just come and pack your stuff tomorrow and get out of my life forever.”
Dawn was so angry she couldn’t see straight. “You mean you were the one who hurt her like this? You beat her black and blue? And for what?” she demanded
Ikem refused to answer. He just kept staring at them and tapping his foot on the floor.
“Dawn, please let’s go. I need to leave this house now.” Ugochi said
They all filed out and went to the car. Dawn helped Ugochi in and arranged her in the best way to avoid pain. All through the drive back to the house, nobody said a word, they were all deep in thought wondering what could have made Ikem act that way. It was a very baffling situation.
Dawn called Ijay to keep her appraised of the situation and she promised to check on them tomorrow. Paul helped Ugochi in and drew Dawn aside when he had her settled in a chair.
“Babe, I need to go now so you’ll have time to take care of your friend. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
“Okay. Thanks for your help.” She stood on tip-toe and kissed him.
Dawn went to the kitchen, got a frozen pack of peas to use as a makeshift ice pack, grabbed her first aid box and went back to her friend. She handed the pack to her so she could place on her swollen eye, and focused on treating the minor bruises and cuts that arrayed her body. When she was done, she sat beside Ugochi and offered her shoulder to cry on, all the while thinking of how much she would like to hurt Ikem for hurting her friend.
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