I’m feeling generous today. Lol. Expect your Monday episode tomorrow morning.
“I thought about it again, Mom. I don’t think it is a good idea.”
She popped a groundnut in her mouth, chewed on it and popped two more.
“You thought about it too?”
She nodded, reached for a glass of wine. “It is not that serious yet. And I know you will not want to hurt Detoun.”
She took a long sip of red wine, swallowed it then lowered the glass while she listened to her son.
“It is not even about Detoun.” Ayo replied, watched her arch a brow in surprise and then continued, “It’s about me. I am not sure I have degenerated to the level where I would propose to a woman to cover up my tracks.”
She shrugged, “Sometimes you will not think of how far you are degenerating o. You will just do what needs to be done.”
Ayo understood what she was saying but he also knew he was not the man that would stoop low to deceive a woman into marriage.
He wanted marriage, maybe not entirely based on the frivolities of romance and too much attention but he still wanted it. He respected the institution and would only go into it because he and his partner have consciously decided to make the commitment, not because he was trying to dodge Karma.
He remembered the innocence Ife bore, the naive way about her, the way she behaved like she had not experienced much of life and he flinched when he thought of deceiving her into marriage.
It was not right, It was not him.
He was not the person who did things like that to people.
“Are you staying for dinner?” His mother asked him.
“No. I have to go.”
Then he stood, strode over to where she was sitting, gave her a quick hug and left her house.
Ife, her mother and her late younger sister had suffered the immediate months that followed her father’s death alone.
They had lain awake together at night, each unaware of the other’s restlessness, while they individually mourned the head of their family, quietly.
The days had been long and the nights, the nights had been an abyss of sorrow, thrusting them into endless pain.
The grief laid on them heavily like a wet blanket, refusing to leave them alone, refusing to dry up even when the Sun came in the morning.
Sometimes, Ife caught her mother crying while the dinner she was preparing got burnt and then she would guide her into the house, comfort her, return to the dinner they couldn’t have anymore and then cry till the water that flowed from her eyes were hard to fetch.
They were torturous days and excruciating nights – the pain could compare to no other.
Her Uncle, her father’s only brother had disappeared immediately he heard of the news.
He had a shaky relationship with her father while the latter was alive and so they had not been expecting much from him.
But they also hadn’t expected him to disappear without a trace like nothing had happened.
He had left abruptly, at the least expected moment, leaving them dazed in the darkness, like NEPA.
He did not try to reach them, did not try to console them or offer any words of comfort, he was simply gone.
But now, he was back.
He was standing outside Ife’s house, an unreadable expression on his face.
“Uncle Gbenro” She could not help the hostility her words carried as she eyed the man in front of her, waiting for his reason for suddenly appearing in their house two years after her father was gone.
“Ifeoluwa…” He reached for her hand but she took two steps back, evading his touch.
“What do you want?” She asked him coldly.
“I heard about Joke. I am sorry.”
She scoffed, refusing his late condolence. Her younger sister had been gone for over a year and here he was, strolling into their lives to offer the words they would have liked to hear a year ago as if it mattered.
“I am going out.” She said to him, then proceeded to walk away.
He followed her.
“Ife, I had a reason for going away. It was not safe for me to remain here.”
She ignored him, increasing her pace.
“Ife! Listen to me I am still your Uncle.”
She continued to ignore him until she sighted Ayo’s car, then she got into it and left with the driver.
“When are you signing the contract, Ife?”
He was toying with a gold pen, his eyes boring into hers, a smile playing on his face – He was trying to make her feel relaxed around him.
He did not know what made her feel easy or what ticked her off but he wanted her to know that whenever she was around him, she could be comfortable.
“I can sign it when you’re ready.” She replied, looking away and focusing her attention on anything but him.
He still made her nervous.
And the more she found out she couldn’t look him in the eyes without her heart racing, her throat running dry and her pulse quickening, the more curious she was as to why he had such an effect on her.
It was more than the feeling of respect she had for him, it was something more, something more exciting, something more exhilarating, something that challenged her to want to know more.
“I have been ready since the day I read about your performance at Nightingale and then witnessed it myself.” He said to her, “I have been waiting for you to be ready ever since.”
She looked back at him, telling herself she would try not to melt on the inside by staring at the man who was igniting wild unrecognizable emotions inside of her.
His lips broke into the brightest smile she’d ever seen on a grown man in her life.
Grown men did not smile where she came from, they were always dealing with one tragedy or the other and when it was not tragedy, it was crime. Whatever the case was, nobody smiled brightly through tragedy or crime.
“You will not regret this.” He said to her and she nodded absentmindedly. “I’m serious.” He added when he realized she had nodded without exactlt taking him serious.
Because he was not convinced she believed him, he joined her on the couch she was sitting on in his office, grabbed her hands, held them in his and said quietly, “You are not going to regret being on this label, Ife. It would be the best thing you have ever done in your life.”
Something told her he was dead serious, that her being on the label meant a lot to him and because of that she managed a smile.
“Okay” She said again.
He handed her his pen, retrieved her contract and handed it to her to sign.
She signed the dotted lines without reading through.
“You did not read it.”
“I trust you.” She handed him the signed document, “You gave me this beautiful life on the platter of gold, even when I did not deserve it and when everyone was not in support. I trust you.”
If she could see his heart at that very moment, then she would have realized the pain he felt.
He was the last person she should trust in Gidi Music, yet he was the one person she totally trusted.
He pulled her into a hug, stroked her back gently and muttered inaudible words that even him couldn’t comprehend while he tried hard to be rid of the guilt that was threatening to bury him.
She went in search of Lanre when she returned to Apete later in the day.
He was hanging out in Nightingale, surrounded by a bunch of guys she regularly saw with him but didn’t like.
They were talking loudly over bottles of cheap beer and half eaten pieces of deeply fried meat.
Cigarette smoke hung in the air, each one of them holding a stick in hand.
They were characteristically dressed in T-shirts and jeans that sagged below their asses.
Ife made a beehive for Lanre, muttered a greeting to the rest of the gang and pulled him out with her.
She hated hanging out with his crew, they made silly jokes about her and Lanre, said dirty things about things she considered intimate and ogled at her with eyes she found uncomfortable.
She had confessed to Lanre that she did not like the crowd he moved with but he had barely discussed the matter.
“What?” He snapped as soon as they stepped out of Nightingale, snatching his hand away from her and staying rooted to a spot so she could not pull him farther with her. “What is it?” his tone was cold and unwelcome.
“What is what?” a defensive response met his cold reception, she had no idea why he was being that way with her but she also was not going to pet him into saying it. If he had an issue with her, he had to spit it out.
“What do you want?” He asked, tossing away his cigarette stick and thrusting his hands into his jeans pockets.
Ife did not want to share the news that way but she knew there was no other time to do it.
If she did not tell him now, the next days would be busy and hectic – she would be moving out of Apete with her mother and possibly Amanda and she would be meeting a lot of people.
“I got signed to Gidi Music and I am moving to Lekki soon.”
Her statement met no response from him, he stood there, with an unreadable expression, watching her as if he had not heard a word she said.
Minutes passed before he said, “You cannot even sing.”
She was slighted, of all the things he could say to her, he chose to say something that hurtful.
“And why are you just telling me when you knew since ehn? Or you thought I would not find out? You should know better now, Ife. You should know your boyfriend.” He was angry and she knew it with the way he eyed her.
She placed a hand on his arm and said gently, “I am sorry, I did not make up my mind until today.”
He looked at her hand on his arm and shrugged it off, “Bullshit.”
“These guys are not for real and you know it. Out of all the people in Lagos they decided to come here for you. This is fucked up and you’re the only person who can’t see that.”
And the words made her realize she was tired of standing in front of him, listening to him hurt her.
“You cannot even pretend to be happy.” She muttered
“Happy for something that would not last? Oh Please.” He dismissed her statement with a wave of the hand.
She knew she could not stand there and watch him continue to lay a thick blanket over her sunlight, she started to walk away from him.
He caught up with her in two quick strides and forced her to a halt. “You’re not going anywhere, Ife.”
She yanked her arm free, “You can come and stop me now.” she said and then stormed off.
Lanre watched her walk away, Of course he was going to stop her. There was no denying that.
The Juju classic that played from the speakers was one thing he missed about the place – it was characteristic of it, that and the privacy it gave to everyone who visited it.
Asiri was a small secluded traditionally designed building in Ikoyi, built in the early 20s, it had been designed as a haven for artistic minds and people who wanted to escape from the noise and chaos of the everyday Lagos life.
The Pillars were strong Bamboo sticks, the roof was thatched, the windows were vintage and the curtains were short traditional mats.
Various expressions of African men and women were painted on the wall, the tables were made from bamboo sticks and the plates were either calabashes or old casseroles.
It boasted of a large sitting space where people could chose to sit and eat or work as the case may be and it had a much smaller space on the inside where people who wanted to be away from the crowd could stay.
Gbenro had chosen the latter that evening.
He toyed with a bottle of beer while he nodded and sand absentmindedly to Sunny Ade’s 70s hit, Ekilo fomo Ode, which literally translated to Warn the Hunter’s child.
He glanced at the vintage wall clock and noted the time as it struck 6.30.
The night was slowly approaching and he feared his guest had declined his request. It was not a good move and it was going to make him edgy.
A movement caught his eye and he looked up that moment, his guest had come.
He took a seat opposite him and watched him intently, clearly miffed at being summoned to Asiri.
Gbenro stretched a hand for a handshake.
Ayo eyed the hand and ignored him, “What do you want, Gbenro?” He snapped
Gbenro withdrew his hand, embarrassed.
“I don’t have all the time in the world, speak now please.” Ayo was clearly impatient and he did not want to spend a minute longer with him. That irked Gbenro, he was livid that the man sitting opposite him could cheat him and his brother and walk away.
And then act so insensitive when he reappeared.
“I want what is mine.” Gbenro snapped, if Ayo could play the heartless game, so could he.
“What is yours. What is yours.” Ayo repeated then broke into a long laughter. “I knew this was a complete waste of my time.” then he stood, prepared to leave.
Gbenro realized he was about to lose him, so he asked nervously, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“To do something worthwhile.”
“You cannot leave. I need money, I am broke.”
Ayo laughed again, he inched closer to Gbenro, leaning close so he could hear him audibly, “You must be out of your mind.” then he made to leave.
Gbenro stood abruptly, knocking over the bottle of beer on his table and grabbing Ayo by the shirt just before he made it out of the enclosed place they were in.
Ayo eyed him, a look of irritation as he eased himself out of Gbenro’s desperate hold.
“You owe me.”
“I don’t.” Ayo said firmly.
“But you do.”
Ayo watched him carefully for a long time, rage engulfing him at the effontery the man in front of him had to blackmail him.
“Gbenro, I do not owe you shit and you know that. However, if you think you can blackmail me with our past deals, know that I have two things you do not have and can never attain in your backstabbing miserable life – wealth and power.” then he placed a firm hand on his shoulder as he continued, “And I will ruin you with those things if you give me the need to. I will destroy you so much that you will beg for death and won’t even find it. Don’t try me, you know what I can do.”
Then he strode out of the room, leaving Gbenro gaping in shock.
OYA WHERE ART THOU O YE PEOPLE THAT THINK ABBEY IS THE ONLY MONSTER IN THIS STORY? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE HANDSOME MILLIONAIRE I KNOW ALL THE GIRLS ON THIS BLOG ARE ALREADY TRIPPING FOR?