Her skin looked pale, her eyes bereft of life and her soul, even though Tamilore couldn’t see it was dead.
Dark circles had formed around her eyes and she looked like she had not slept in days.
She stirred the bowl of cereal in her hands idly, toying with it and staring daggers at her younger sister.
“Yetunde, it meant nothing” Tamilore said for the thousandth time.
It had been difficult to face her elder sister to explain to her that the kiss she had witnessed between her and Timilehin was nothing and that it was the first time.
Yetunde did not believe it.
She was hurt and disappointed that why she was gone, kidnapped for a reason she had been told was Tamilore’s fault, Tamilore had been hooking up with Timilehin.
“It was the first time and we were just carried away. Timilehin helped me inform the Police about your disappearance and he’s been a great deal of support since your kidnap. The night I was called about Lamide’s murder, he was the one with me so the closeness… the closeness just got a bit too serious.”
Yetunde raised her hand, widened her palm and slapped Tamilore across the cheek.
“You bloody slut. It was your stupid return from the UK that made that pyscho kidnap me. I kept asking what it was that brought you back here, you did not tell me, yet you put my life in danger and hook up with my boyfriend?”
“Oh no you’re not. At least not yet, but by the time I am done dealing with you, you will be more than sorry.”
Tamilore walked towards the kitchen entrance, she had not meant to hurt Yetunde, it had happened and she had not fought it because she wanted it, wanted the kiss to heal her and help her feel better.
“After the burial, pack your bags and get out of my house.” Yetunde muttered as Tamilore neared the entrance.
Tamilore held on to the wall and faced her, “Yetunde, I don’t have a job and I don’t have anywhere to go.”
And that made her miss Lamide, because Lamide always knew what to say to calm her down, to ease her pain and to restore normalcy and laughter to her world.
“That’s none of my business. That your vagina that you’re using to snatch your sister’s boyfriend should help you out. Abi?”
The coldness in her voice was unbearable. It was accompanied by the hatred in her eyes.
Yetunde did not care about anything she said or that she might say, she did not care about Tamilore’s innocence or that she had not been able to sleep for days since she disappeared.
She cared about nobody, no one, except herself.
“Okay.” Tamilore said and made to leave, “I’m sorry again.” she stepped out of the kitchen and ran out of the house, ignoring Timilehin and Jide who called her and followed her.
The tears had started to blur her vision by the time she got out of the building and leaned on the closest car she could find.
Jide reached her first, he stood near her and said nothing for a few minutes.
“Let me take you out of here” he said and she nodded.
He opened his car and helped her in, then he joined her and drove her out of the compound.
“I cannot believe you’re supporting her. Are you not supposed to be apologizing for what you did? I caught you both…”
“No, Yetunde. You did not catch us… catch is for when someone is doing something bad and is nabbed in the process, we were not doing anything bad.”
Yetunde was thrown off balance, she had not expected the response she got, “Excuse me?”
“I have known you for years now and all through that period, I have asked you to be in my life and at no point in time did you agree to.”
Yetunde avoided his gaze and busied herself with emptying the cereal in her bowl down the kitchen sink.
“I gave you everything that I thought would bring you close and make you realize I was for real but you did not care, did not try to and you conveniently hid behind religion whenever I tried to discuss us.”
Irritation rose inside of him the more he spoke and that was when he realized that he had been irritated at her selfishness, her refusal to see him and her attitude towards him in the past.
He had given her everything, he had been open to her but she had taken him for granted and had not felt anything until she saw him interested in someone else – her sister.
“Timilehin, don’t do this. You cannot continue to act like what I saw was nothing. No matter what I might have done in the past, what you people did was wrong. You’re mine not hers. She is used to taking things that are not hers whenever she feels angry or bullied and that’s what she is doing now.”
Timilehin suddenly came to the realization that he had been chasing the wrong woman for years.
This woman, the one with the beautiful face and features, the one he would have given anything to be with until a few weeks ago was empty, empty and shallow but he had been too blind by his emotions to see what was obvious.
It had taken Tamilore’s presence in his life for him to realize that and he told himself that no matter what, he was not letting Tamilore go.
Grace always said whenever something was about to happen, she always knew because the Spirit always warned her.
She described the moment when the Spirit informed her of the impending loom as a huge turmoil inside of her that caused her to pace restlessly and that caused her to be unsettled outside.
What her family members did not know was that she always grabbed the vodka buried in her huge pile of lingerie, poured herself a shot and drank to ease the tension inside of her.
She always did the drinking in solitary, where nobody could disturb her and during which she told them that it was her time alone with the Spirit.
Tonight, she felt the turmoil inside of her again but because she had been restless for days due to her son’s sudden behavior and the marriage to the little tramp she could not stand, she had escaped to the balcony that was just outside her bedroom and held on to the railings while she stared into nothing.
Her son had been hers and hers alone since he was born several years before and she had controlled every bit of her life, made him hers every way she could and made sure every major decision he made was not without her consent.
Yet, he had gone abroad and gotten married without notifying her.
Mere thinking of it caused her to ache terribly on the inside, it was unlike him to hurt her like this and she could not help but loathe that girl who had taken her son from her and caused him to commit to her while they were both in the UK.
“A stripper… God! A stripper!” she said aloud, tightening her grip on the railings as her mind wandered to the content of the mail Tamilore had handed her in the Church days before.
The mail had said a lot. Tamilore was a stripper in a bar where her son had gone with his friends to drink.
They had been very drunk and ended up making out later.
And the first few nights, they had decided to have a lot of fun and purposely chosen to call each other by names that were not their real names.
It had been easy for Tamilore to pick Suga Spice because it was what she was called in the bar anyway.
Jide had picked Hot Dick because he couldn’t think of anything else and because Tamilore had told him it was cheesy and fun.
She tried to bar the remaining contents from her mind, the little she let in was damaging her already and springing different emotions.
She liked to have things under control, she hated when she couldn’t control everything going on around her.
By now, the gossip would have moved around the Church because she knew that those women on the marriage committee where not loyal.
“Oh my God, the Church” she said as she suddenly crumbled and fell.
Ademola Rogers ran to her aid, he picked her as she fell. “Honey, what’s the problem? I have been looking everywhere for you. Are you sick? Should I call the driver to take you to the Hospital? What’s wrong?”
He watched her in sheer horror, his wife of thirty five years had never been this way.
All the time he had known her, she had never shown any sign of weakness to him, so seeing her crumbled at his feet, her hands quivering and her heart beating fast, scared him shitless.
“Why did you pick me up and where are you taking me to?” Tamilore had finally gotten over the initial disappointment and hurt her sister’s words had caused her.
Now she looked over at her company, who was driving, wondering what their next line of action was.
“I don’t know. I just wanted to be with you. I did not want that guy close to you.”
“Looks like someone finally grew balls” she mused and his face hardened in response.
She noticed that and chuckled, “I can see you grew some veins too.”
“Its not funny, Tamilore. You hurt my feelings.”
She watched the cars that sped by, “Your feelings? Since when did you have that where I am concerned?”
“Since the very beginning, Tamilore. And you know it.”
She shrugged, “I don’t know anything”
“So why do you think I made love to you?”
“Because you were horny.”
He slammed his hand on the steering wheel, causing her to turn to him sharply.
“Because I was into you, I liked you, you were in my head and you were making my body feel things that were unsual!”
He was talking about his feelings and it was alien territory but he knew he had to show her how he felt about her or she would run off with Timilehin.
And he knew Timilehin was not the type of guy who would let the woman he liked get away.
“My mother was the only woman that mattered in my world until I met you and suddenly I did not care about the man she had made me to be, suddenly I wanted to find me, I wanted to be rebellious, I wanted to live. If I felt nothing, I would never have made love to you, Suga Spice. I felt something”
The words somehow liberated her.
Here he was, saying what she had desperately wanted to hear several years ago but she wanted more.
She wanted more because she felt more.
He was talking, but he was on the edge, he was not yet falling in deep, as deep as she had fallen years ago.
“So your feelings for me were as a result of rebellion.”
“No, it wasn’t.”
“So what was it?”
She wanted to hear him say Love.
If he couldn’t say that, then there was absolutely no point.
“I don’t know.” He said after minutes of struggling with the words.
Tamilore sighed and returned her gaze back to the road.
He parked outside the gate of his house and told Tamilore to come and lie on the car bonnet with him.
It was warm because the engine had just stopped running but it did not deter them from lying on their backs and gazing into the skies together.
They watched the stars, each saying nothing but each thinking about the other.
Their voices were silent, but their hearts said a million words.
Tamilore chuckled, her gaze still intently set on the stars above, “When I was younger, I used to think I could collect stars if I could find a ladder tall enough to climb into the skies.”
He looked at her, the smile that made her several years younger and that made him feel like he knew the younger her, the young innocent child that felt she could collect stars just if she aim high enough.
“Then one day, I pulled two ladders together and tried to climb them to Heaven.”
“Oh my God, you were so silly.”
She giggled, “Yes. I fell so hard, my back hurt and I couldn’t go to School for a week.”
He laughed, causing his dimples to appear.
She looked at him, “I was that child who went for what she wanted.”
And as he stared deep into her brown eyes, he knew she was trying to tell him something.
She was trying to make him see that he needed to learn to go for what he wanted.
“What do you want, Jide? Go for it.”
He held her hand with one hand, leaned over to a side and kissed her.
It was as magical as the stars, that kiss which they shared.
They had both longed for it and it took that moment during which their lips locked and their hearts became one for them to realize, they had both thirsted for it.
Grace stood up. She was not the woman who crumbled because some little girl had appeared from nowhere to stir up her perfect world, she was the woman to took charge.
The woman who dealt appropriately with situations.
She muttered her gratitude to her husband who helped her up.
“I will join you inside.” she said to him.
“Are you sure?”
She nodded and he left without arguing with her.
She returned to the position she was earlier and that was when she saw them, holding each other and kissing like the world had ceased to exist.
“Hmmm…” was the only thing that escaped from her mouth, this was the trouble her insides was telling her about earlier and like the other trouble from the past, she was dealing with it.