Hey guys, welcome to another series by me. It’s always an amazing ride with you.
This story is going to run for as long as I feel it speaking to me and that might be long or short… I can’t say.
But you would love it. If you loved the intense romance and mushiness The Diggerz offered in 2012, then you would absolutely love this one too.
It is about romance, money, more money, shit load of money, Love, Class and hot people (You know I’m obsessed with creating hot characters na, abi? As I am not hot myself).
Prepare for a ride twice a week, On Mondays and Fridays.
PS: If you’re allergic to mushiness and romance and all that love something, better leave now ‘cos this story is nothing like Ms Animus or Saint Rogers (that has ghen ghen something and small action), it is that kinda Mills and Boon thing.
PPS: There would be two episodes today, the other one will be posted by 6pm today.
I want it that way so you can warm up to the story and look forward to Friday.
One last thing, I will be giving out free 360nobs Tshirts (I assure u they’re fine) to a few of my most dedicated readers.
I have been blogging fiction for 2 years+ and it is only fair I say thank you to y’all.
So this is how to own the shirt; Every lead male character in all my stories have names of real people that I have been emotionally involved with or that have played a huge role in my life at one point or the other.
So to get the shirt, list the name of all my male xters from That Family Reunion to The Mist.
This should be fun people!
Oya let’s ride.
He grabbed his expensive designer blazer and donned it on the cream and brown ensemble he was already wearing, caught his reflection on his way out from the room when he stopped to pick his iPhone and Samsung Tab by the giant mirror that stood on the wall.
He had left through the door and was going down the stairs when he remembered the one accessory that had sat in his pockets for two years now – a small piece of newspaper he had cut from the whole and had worn with his clothes.
He returned for it, folded it neatly into his blazer and hurried out of the door while he received a call from his best friend and partner, Abiola Osinowo.
“Abbey, how far?”
His maid, a robust woman with warm features and a face that smiled regardless of the situation, opened and held the door for him as he stepped out of his mansion.
He smiled at her in gratitude, fished his pocket for his key and opened the door to his recently acquired Hyundai before he reached it.
“Dude where you dey? The meeting was supposed to commence some fifteen minutes ago.” Abiola asked from the other end of the line.
“On my way. I will see you in about ten.” He replied, turning on the ignition that spurred to life.
“Ogbeni, you know my ten minutes is ten minutes. See you soon.”
And because Abiola knew his best friend was never a minute later than the time he promised, he hung up.
Ayobami Balogun turned on the AC in his car, connected his iPhone to his car radio, listened as an Ed Sheeran song as it began to play, pulled his gear into drive and sped out of his vast compound, into the major road that linked him out of the Island which he lived on.
♡ ♡ ♡
Ife usually sang in a high pitched voice while she swept the compound but this morning, nothing was high – not her mood, not her spirits and certainly not her voice.
She swept the compound, her hand clutching the broom a little too tight, causing the edge of the broom to hurt and cut into her tender skin.
She swept furiously, cleaning the sandy area with so much force that might actually sweep all the sand by a shore away.
As she swept, she paused every second to hit the butt of the broom in her hand and then resumed sweeping – it was a mechanical action that she repeated like a robot.
She hated life, she hated that she had not seem to choose the better life.
She hated that for some reason, fate had thrust her into the unfortunate circumstances that surrounded her and that always seemed to draw to her like iron did to magnet.
She tried not to think about it too much, but the memories of the past two years haunted her, invading her memories, causing her to fight back the overwhelming urge to burst into tears.
Tears, they had been her companion at night and the reason she woke up with swollen eyes in the morning.
They had been the reason she picked the bad habits…
She refused to acknowledge the voice that she knew so well.
A voice she had known since she was fourteen, a voice that belonged to her best friend.
Amanda walked up to her and held her hands, “How are you?”
Ife simply shrugged.
That was the only answer she was willing to give to that question and any other.
A look of deep concern and worry etched on Amanda’s face, she wrestled the broom out of her best friend’s hands and pulled her close to a bench.
The street was quiet because it was late morning and everyone had hurried off to their individual work place, the only sounds that could be heard were chickens playing around, the occasional hawkers that paraded the street with their wares and the distant sound of radio that came from a few houses away.
“Ife, your mother is not going to die.” Amanda said firmly as if she held the certainty to tomorrow, as if in her optimistic soul laid the answer to all of the world’s problems, as if the key to happiness lay in her fair hands.
“She has cancer, Amanda. Everyone that has cancer dies.”
Ife had lost the battle against the tears that now tumbled down her face, blurring her vision and causing her to lay her head on Amanda’s shoulder.
“Not everybody that has cancer dies, shebi that’s what the nurse said yesterday”
“She did not want me to be scared ni jare. She knows she would die. My father died two years ago in that road accident, my sister died because she was a sickler months later, now I will watch my mother die? Ahn ahn now, am I the only one?”
She wasn’t even trying to contain the tears anymore, they fell now like a heavy downpour.
“They said if she has surgery…”
Ife laughed hysterically, “Surgery? With which money?”
Amanda knew the answer to that was not with her but she knew they could try, “You will find a job, any one. Look for money anyhow until you raise it.”
“And I will not find it and she would die.”
Ife stood, yanked the broom away from Amanda’s hands and returned sweeping.
“If your mother dies now, it would not be cancer that killed her, it would be you.” Amanda said to her.
Ife paused, looked at her best friend, dazed.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You already killed her by giving up on her, Ife. And even Cancer hasn’t started work on her yet.”
Ife looked away, Amanda was right.
“Fight, Ife. Fight till you cannot find the strength and even then, keep fighting.”
Ife nodded, she would fight, she would fight fiercely.
♡ ♡ ♡
Abiola eased into a seat opposite Ayo and near ‘Detoun, his phone clutched in his hands while his fingers deftly typed a message on his bbm.
He looked up from time to time as the trio spoke about the direction of their business.
“Personally, I think you boys should sign anybody with a good face and a great body, get them big endorsements, Magazine covers and Interviews with big media houses and whatever they sing would be a hit. It’s how it is done these days, aint nobody got time for real talent no more.”
‘Detoun spoke with that clear diction, laced with a slight American accent that was almost missable if one didn’t listen well.
She was a bombshell; 5ft7, with a chocolate skin that glowed and a body that rivaled Kim Kardashian’s, ‘Detoun Sam-Dickson turned heads wherever she stepped into.
She was beauty, she was brains, she was sex on legs.
And she’d also gotten Ivy League education.
The third out of four sisters, she had life laid at her feet ever since she born into royalty twenty eight years before.
“I want real talent, Detoun.” Ayo said, “I want someone who can sing Jazz, soul, maybe even something with a Motown tune to it. I do not want shallow music coming out of this label anymore.”
“Depends on what you call shallow music.” ‘Detoun said, “Music is rhythmic doesn’t make it shallow. There can be real deep lyrics hidden beneath the loud beat and upbeat tempo.”
“I agree with ‘Detoun.” Abiola was setting his phone aside now, “Besides, when last did any artiste make shitload of money from singing jazz or slow music in this Country?”
“Tuface…” Ayo began to say
“Ogbeni, no be just Tuface dey do am? Anybody else get the jazz?” Abiola interrupted.
“We can create this and make it work for us.” Ayo insisted.
“Guy, we have signed two artistes on this label in the last five years. One of them was transformed into a superstar with this type of music you don’t want anymore, the other was a moderate success and now that their contracts are off and is not being renewed, I would say let’s try what worked with the successful one we had. We can’t afford to take gambles; we cannot be sitting down here forming deep while we lose millions.”
Abiola was making sense but Ayo was not buying his idea.
“Abbey, one of the biggest concerts in Nigeria yearly is hosted by Dare Art Alade, his type of music is the type of music I want coming out of this Label, taking Nigerian music to a whole new level, telling the world slow music can actually sell”
Abiola and ‘Detoun knew better than to argue with Ayo at this point.
If there was anything they knew about their partner, it was that when his mind was set on something, there was no turning back.
But the reason ‘Detoun was backing off was not because he was head partner, it was because there was no point arguing this with him.
“Okay, let’s all think this through and meet again next Monday for another meeting.” She stood, “I have to be in Abuja for a meeting that will last the rest of the week. I will see you guys when I get back.”
♡ ♡ ♡
“Oga now, please. She can sing very well o and if she should start like this ehn this place would be filled up to the brim.”
The tall, bony man in front of them glared at Amanda, saying nothing.
She had been trying to convince him for over an hour to allow Ife perform in the night club that night but he was not budging, he did not seem to be interested in the swollen eyed chocolate beauty that was clad in old drab clothes and her zesty friend who clung to her.
“Wo, we already have the singers that will sing tonight.”
The man said and made to leave but Amanda stayed in his way, her eyes pleading, a tone of urgency in her voice, “Oga Please. Help us.”
The man eyed her and brushed past them but Amanda was not giving up, she pulled him back, “Okay don’t pay her tonight, in fact don’t pay her for one month. Just test her voice first.”
The man paused, took a long look at Amanda and Ife and sighed, “Okay. She should come back and perform by 7pm sharp.”
Then he started to walk away, “And she should not wear that ugly dress to this place o, ehen.”
He walked to the door, where a waiter was showing him something on the menu.
Ife looked around the place, it was a popular night club in the area – It had housed and had been the place that birthed some of the greatest musicians in the country and had been in existence for over two decades.
It was named Nightingale, a tribute to the strong memorable vocals that pulled the crowd that always came there to eat Pepper soup and Asun and cheap beer (the type that didn’t even get an advert on TV and that the outside world didn’t even know about).
“Thank God, now you can have the chance to make money and save for your mom’s surgery.” Amanda said cheerfully.
“He is not going to be paying me o.”
“I know but you can really sing and he would eventually pay you when he realizes that. I think you should pick a Beyonce or Whitney song, those always have strong vocals and they would let this people know you’re not here to play.” Amanda was saying, her head in the cloud and her mind faraway from Apete as it had always been.
Apete was a shanty town located just a few minutes outside Lagos, it was an Island that housed hundreds of people, most of which could barely feed.
Ife and Amanda had been born there and while Ife already accepted her fate, told herself she would become a petty trader and marry her childhood sweetheart, Lanre, Amanda had always said she was too good for the place and would eventually leave to make a name for herself in Lagos.
Amanda had a phone while Ife didn’t, Amanda constantly browsed Bella Naija and Linda Ikeji, Amanda was on Instagram even though she never updated anything but dedicated her time to stalking Nigerian and International celebrities and Amanda was very active on Twitter.
She loved Beyonce, she loved Whitney, She loved Nicki Minaj and was a huge fan of Rihanna’s fashion choices.
For Amanda, life was not in Apete, it was outside it and even though she was twenty-six and had just an O-Level certificate, she held on strongly to the hope of leaving soon.
“This is Apete, nobody will know Beyonce’s songs.” Ife said as they made their way out of the club.
“Who told you? My tailor was singing Flawless the other day and even though she murdered the lyrics, she still knew the tune.” Amanda said as she flagged down a bike, “Sha sing Beyonce. It is the only thing that will convince that man that he needs to keep you and start paying you soon.”
Ife shrugged, she was not excited, she couldn’t even try to be because an inertia had somewhat fallen on her mood, causing it to be difficult for her to feel happy.
They were on the bike now, Ife sandwiched between the bike man and Amanda, “I have a dress that will be good for tonight. We will check it when we get to my house.”
Ife merely nodded.
‘Detoun gaped at Ayo, the seriousness on his face causing her to be more shocked, bewildered and utterly puzzled.
He had that look in his eyes he always had whenever his mind was set on something and whenever nothing anybody could say or do could talk him out of that which he set his mind to do.
“Do you know where Apete is? Even Google Earth can’t find it!” She yelled, hoping she would see a sign that would tell her that this man she had known for so long was joking.
He shrugged, in that effortless manner that further told her that he was serious – damn serious.
“Ayo, you cannot go to Apete.”
She said with a note of finality, knowing deep down that whatever she said didn’t matter, but saying it anyway because she wanted him to realize she would never be a party to it.
“I have to. I need to.” He said, his hands stuck in his jeans pockets.
He looked effortlessly handsome as usual, he had not dressed up that morning, he had dressed down – picking a yellow Ralph Lauren shirt and blue jeans, both which were gifts from ‘Detoun.
The bright yellow shirt suit him because it was a sharp contrast to his dark skin and because as ‘Detoun once joked, it was usually brighter than his mood.
“I want you to come with me.” He said calmly, another indication that he was serious.
“No way, Ayo.” She replied but when his lips broke into a smile and his eyes pleaded, she knew she would go there with him.
‘Detoun bought a hand sanitizer before they left for Apete, then she cleaned her hands when she got into Nightingale, covered her nose with her hands so that the air wouldn’t contaminate her and cleaned the table with disinfectant when they sat.
“Ayo, what did you say we came to do here again?” She looked around with irritation, “Remind me?”
“We came here to hear the next act that would be signed on the Label.” Ayo replied, consciously choosing not to look at his companion’s face because he knew the horror that would be rapidly spreading on her face that very moment.
“Ayobami Balogun, are you out of your mind?” She asked.
“Shh…” He motioned for her to be quiet as the reason he had driven down there got on the stage in a too tight and what he knew was very uncomfortable mini sequined dress.
The room had gone quiet, the only sound being the gurgling sound of beer being poured into a glass on a table close by.
She held the microphone nervously, her eyes scanning the crowd as if she was looking for someone but he knew it was an escape – she did not want to make eye contact with anybody, she was shy.
She began to cover an Asa number, it was one of his favorites, Bibanke.
As she began, her voice smoothly owned the song like she birthed it, like this was hers right from inception.
Ayo dug his hand into his jeans and withdrew the newspaper cut he had been carrying for two years, he looked at it and then back at her then he faced ‘Detoun, “That’s the next act, Detoun and we are signing her first thing tomorrow morning.”
“You’re mad.” ‘Detoun simply said.
See you at 6pm.
-Tomilola Coco Adeyemo