A couple of things had crossed her mind since she got the wedding present from her arch – nemesis, Detoun, some hours earlier.
Those things included – suicide, disappearing forever, walking away from her wedding happening in a few hours.
But it did not include coming forth with the truth.
She couldn’t. She dared not.
How was she to face the whole world, starting with the man she loved, her best friend and her mother, and tell them that the child she was pregnant with by Abiola three years before had not been aborted.
That contrary to the story she had made them believe, he lived – He was alive, hale and hearty, being taken care of by another woman.
A woman her Aunt knew so well because she sometimes helped her babysit the child. A child she saw many times when she went to her Aunty’s shop, the same place she had met Abiola years before.
The child that had been the reason wandered off from her Aunty’s shop on a dark lonely night several months before, when Ayo just came into her life with his music proposal.
There was no way she could face her family and her husband, there was no way she could come out with the truth. No way.
Water entered her lungs and suddenly made it impossible for her to breathe, she struggled for air as she tried to pull herself out of the Jacuzzi she’d submerged under but that became difficult as her hands flailed as she sank deeper inside the shallow pool of water.
She was going to drown to death and she deserved it.
She deserved it for abandoning her first child in front of a shed, for acting like he did not exist and for refusing to take the hard responsibility of being a mother.
It had been three years, almost four and if Detoun had not gifted her a photograph of him, safely hidden inside a white envelope and dropped in a gift bag, she would not have been bothered.
She was a horrible person and even though this death was painful, she deserved it.
Strong arms suddenly yanked her out of the warm water, she coughed profusely the moment she felt air.
“Are you okay? Ife?” His concerned voice called immediately he laid her on the marbled floor near the Jacuzzi. “Ife?”
He quickly performed CPR, his anxiety beginning to reflect and his fear threatening to push through the bravado he was known for.
When he was certain she was fine, he pulled out his phone and made a quick call to his Doctor. He needed her checked right away, he wanted her and his baby to be alright.
“Ayo” She muttered when her hands could hold him.
He smiled at her, kissed her hard on the forehead and whispered loud enough for her to hear, “I love you.”
Maybe it was the water or maybe she was dead and now in Heaven, because she could not believe the words he uttered.
Was he being serious? Or was this just a reaction to the suicide that almost happened?
Ayobami Balogun, The Ayobami Balogun, was in love with her.
It couldn’t be happening, it couldn’t be real.
And so she coughed, a lot, to be sure she was still alive.
When his hands carried her from the floor and his legs moved them both from outside into her bedroom, laying her gently on the bed and stripping her of the dress that glued to her skin, she knew it was real.
The words were really there, he had really said them. This was too good to be true. The man she loved, loved her back.
The man the whole world was in awe of, the man who a lot of women wanted, wanted her.
She was not going to ruin that by telling him something she had hidden for years.
She was going to keep the information to herself the way it had been for years.
Wedding Day: 6.30 am. Lekki Phase One.
She was sitting on the booth of her recently acquired car, a Camry that was brand new and that had arrived the country just a few days before.
Smartly dressed in a black camisole that gave one a peek into her boobs that were becoming fuller because of the pregnancy and a pair of boyfriend jeans, she finished the look with a snapback. One that covered her face and barely revealed her identity.
She was parked in a quiet corner, away from the main roads and away from where anyone could spot her.
Detoun pulled up and walked to her. “Don’t you have a wedding to attend?” She asked when she got to where she was.
“Where did you find him?” Ife asked, ignoring the question heavily laced with sarcasm that she had been asked.
“Where you left him.”
“Detoun, I don’t know why you are doing this…”
“You’re a horrible person and I am reminding you of that.”
“You abandon one child and then go ahead to make another with the best friend of the previous one…” there was a look of irritation plastered on her face, “You’re disgusting.”
Ife’s phone rang, it was Ayo.
Detoun saw that and tried to still the green eyed demon that was rearing its head in her.
It was really hard to believe.
The man she had loved wholeheartedly, who had refused to love her back and to give her the commitment she believed they owed each other, had easily fallen for someone else and was going to commit the rest of his life to her.
And she knew as much as she wanted to tell herself that he was just being a responsible Daddy like he was going to be to Kicks and her bastard child, she knew deep down that it was more.
He was absolutely into this one.
And that made Detoun envious.
“I am going to tell him. I just thought you would like to see the face of your abandoned child first.”
She did not wait to hear Ife’s response, her plea and to see her tear stricken face.
Detoun pressed the remote and opened her car. Abiola had felt very guilty the days leading to the announcement of the wedding that had shocked them all and had revealed to her that he’d gotten Ife pregnant once.
It was why he did not want her to be signed on the label initially, because he felt she would reveal their past one day and try to blackmail him with it.
But even though he had expected the most despicable from the slum girl, he had not expected her to win the heart of his best friend and then, get pregnant by him.
When Detoun had heard the news, she had been utterly shocked and pleasantly surprised.
Ayo could not have known the story, if he did, he would not have married her.
However, she did not know what became of the pregnancy, so she got her hands dirty.
People in her social class did not allow the people who sat on the bottom of the food chain to sit with them, not to talk of stealing their men.
They fought dirty by paying hefty sums to people who could do a lot of background checks.
So she found Ife’s former house, dressed like a government worker and took a trip to the only health care centre in the slum.
Then she had talked to the youngest to the oldest nurse, midwives and even cleaners.
She had told the oldest woman, an elderly woman with a deeply wrinkled face who she was sure was pushing her late seventies, that she must be proud working in a place where many of the grown adults where born in her hands.
The woman had been ecstatic to discuss that line of conversation. She had further revealed a lot of things when Detoun bought her lunch and paid for the medication she had not been able to afford for months.
The woman had said how happy she was to have been the one who delivered Ife at birth. Now she had gone to become one of the biggest stars in Nigeria.
Detoun knew what she wanted, so she indulged her about Ife. The woman had been reluctant but Detoun had been persuasive, eventually trying to bribe her.
When she would not take the money, Detoun had left, disappointed, but with a resolve to return the following day.
When she returned the next day, she had met the woman’s young son, a boy in his late teens. He had been willing to offer her the information she couldn’t get off his elderly mother.
And after Detoun gave him money, he had told her every single detail about the night Ife was delivered of a baby secretly.
And the baby had been “abandoned” somewhere they were sure he would be taken care of.
The Teenager had added that it was the worst night of Ife’s life. She had cried for nights non stop after then and held her breasts which were heavy with milk whenever she cried.
But Detoun did not need that part of the information, she was trying to bring Ife down, no need trying to make her look like a saint.
Ife watched as Detoun’s car disappeared.
“Ife? Where are you?” Ayo’s voice asked over the phone.
She was going to marry him and hope Detoun wouldn’t divulge the secret just yet.
Wedding Day 4pm. Banana Island
She was standing in front of the mirror, dressed in a white negligee that stuck to her body like second skin and accentuated every curve.
Her boobs were cupped firmly and they caused a sensation inside of him as he watched her from the door.
Her hair was still pulled in a ponytail as it had been at the reception a few minutes before, her face still beautiful with the make up on it.
She had kicked off her shoes, her feet bare. Her eyes rested on the diamond rings he had slipped into her fingers some hours before in Church, in front of a Priest, a crowded auditorium, an ecstatic mother and mother in law and a fuming Gbenro.
She toyed with the ring, oblivious to his presence in the massive room.
They were supposed to fly out to Barbados in a couple of hours but he wanted to make love to her first.
She was all his now, all five feet of her beautiful and radiant self.
He loved her. The more the realization set in, the harder it was for him to believe how fast, hard and unkowingly it had happened.
She had crept up on him somehow, leaving him no option but to fall for everything that was her.
She turned suddenly, smiling shyly as he approached her.
She was going to be the mother of his baby and he couldn’t be happier. He must have been mad to have considered a day married to that lying ho, Kicks.
He drew her closer, his tongue invading her lips, kissing her like he had kissed no other.
Then his hands stroked nipples that seemed to have been waiting for him. She moaned. He liked when she responded to him like that.
Slowly, he removed the thin fabric that was the obstruction between her beautiful body and his hands.
When she was naked, he laid her down gently on the bed.
Then he removed his own clothes, ready for her.
“I want to be on top.” She whispered and he allowed her.
When her fingers touched him, he lost himself to her.
So by the time she allowed him inside of her some minutes later, he almost lost his mind.
She was his queen, his driver, his captain. She rode him and he let her, releasing himself to the pleasure that was her.
Minutes later, he climaxed and she rolled over. He held her close and kissed her tenderly.
Wedding Day. 9.45am Banana Island (About 6 hours fifteen minutes before)
She had not been prepared for the traffic that slowed her down from that damn Ikoyi Bridge from Lekki Phase One.
After she had left Ife, she had gone to her house to take a long shower, made a few calls, attended one meeting in some bar in Phase One and had proceeded to his house in Banana Island.
But the traffic that she had been stuck in halfway through the bridge had left her with little time.
When she walked into his mansion in Banana Island, she was tired, irritated and just wanted to tell him everything.
So she pulled him away from his best man, Mason Derek and shut the door to his mini studio behind them.
Then she had proceeded to tell him everything she believed he needed to know so he would pull the plugs on the wedding like he did with Kicks.
“You shouldn’t marry her, Ayo. I don’t know why you trust these women. She abandoned a child, how can she be a better one to yours. That’s if it’s yours.” She said in a desperate bid to stop him.
But he stared at her blankly, kissed her on the forehead and strode out of the room.
And that was it.