Jo had never been made to feel bad all her life, she wasn’t even rebuked when she did things her brothers would have been punished for but when her brothers had collectively made her feel bad after she interrupted Jaiye’s proposal, she knew she had overdone it.
“You should apologize to Jaiye when he returns Jo, there is no reason to ruin a proposal. None whatsoever. That woman would hate you forever if she eventually marries Jaiye and you would have yourself to blame for it.” Jide said to his sister.
“I was just too worried, I…this girl broke the news that killed mom” Jo explained, she felt silly for ruining a perfect moment and the reason she did it had paled after she had watched Nene storm out in anger and hurt.
Jaiye had followed her immediately and was yet to return and Jo knew he was going to hate her for a very long time to come.
“I just don’t get this family, what is wrong with you people? Hating on people in love for no reason” Jare was talking again and he was beginning to irritate his father. The older man shot him an impatient look.
“And why have you people not been helping out?” Jare inquired.
“Jaiye said he called the commissioner of police already, Jare. The police is on it” Jire said, the family dinner had gone bad. He was leaving soon, he needed the warmth of his wife’s body against his and he needed to get ready for the next day. The Fowler family and drama were inseparable and tonight he had no room for it.
He got on his feet.
“But we all know how useless the police can be” Jare continued.
“We talked to the boss, they would do something.” Jire responded.
“How soon? How? We should get serious help, the Nigerian police force can be unreliable and you know it. Antonio might be in trouble and we cannot just rely on the force to help us out” Jare said. “I know you hate him, but do something!”
Jide jnr was the first person to voice his irritation, “Come on Jare, what more do you want? You want us to bring in the FBI?”
“I just want you guys to help me more! I know you hate Antonio but he means the world to me!” Jare cried out.
“And enough help has been given you young man, why are you still whining and disturbing the entire household?” the family patriarch yelled and the table went silent again.
“Dad do you know anything about this?” Jare asked.
“That is preposterous Jare!” Jire said, he couldn’t believe what his brother was saying. Jare seemed so overwhelmed with emotions that he didn’t seem to be thinking straight.
“He hates Antonio, Jire. You all do and you already blame us for mom’s death. You might have arranged this for some sick revenge or something.” Jare said, he was visibly shaken and he looked distressed.
“And why would we all plan to kidnap your darling Antonio after mom’s death? I mean the harm has already been done” it was the eldest Fowler brother talking now. He needed an explanation for his youngest brothers ridiculous theory.
“Because it would be the ultimate revenge! But I am never going to forgive you people for this. Because that is the only person who truly loves and get me, he loves me more than you all, more than mom that you all claim that I killed!” he said angrily, stood up and began to pace the spacious dining area. “He loved me so much!”
“It is ridiculous to say that man loved you more than your mother, respect her would you? What blasted love can he have for you that will surpass that which a mother has for her child?” the family patriarch asked? He looked at his son in anger, he was furious and it was getting worse each passing moment. His son had been pushing him since he moved in with them and now he had pushed him to the wall.
“Antonio loved me beyond words father, the type of love even you would never understand.” Jare argued; they had to realize that. They had to know Antonio was the only genuine person who cared for him.
“He loved you yet he grabbed the first opportunity he could to cheat on you, collect a sum of thirty million naira and leave the country never to see you again? You are deluded child.” The family patriarch said, Jare paused, stared at his father and slowly took in the words the man has just uttered.
“You said what?” He asked in a low voice.
“Your sick lover fucked the first woman who seduced him and fled the country days ago never to come back. Wake up son and smell the coffee, you never meant anything to that man and a mother’s love can never be compared to your idea of love” The older man said, got out of his seat and headed out of the dining area.
“Nene those people can never stop me from marrying you, I want you and that is all that matters.” Jaiye pleaded and hoped that his words would mean something, he could see the hurt in her eyes, she was crying and he wanted to hold her and tell her everything would be alright but she wasn’t letting him.
She pushed him away each time he tried to get close and wasn’t saying much to him, he couldn’t believe his sister, was she out of her mind? What was she thinking? Didn’t she know better than to ruin the most important moment in his life?
“Do you even want me?” Nene asked
“Of course I do” Jaiye couldn’t believe she was asking him that question, there was no doubt about that, he wanted her for the rest of his life.
“You just think you do. I don’t belong in your world Jaiye, you have been trying so hard by buying me clothes, shoes and everything in the world just to make me feel like someone in your world but it is just not happening. Marry Oluchi or Ese and leave me alone. I will take care of our child myself, if I can survive then the child would too” then she turned her back and began to walk away. The heels she was wearing wasn’t making it easy to run out of the compound and she felt light headed, but she tried as much as she could to walk briskly out of the compound.
Jaiye grabbed her hands before she made it to the gate. “I am sorry Nene, but you are not going anywhere. This is for real and maybe you didn’t belong in my world before now but now you do because I have chosen not to be without you.”
He pulled her close to himself and she was so close she could feel his heartbeat.
“I am never letting you leave honey, deal with it. I am in love with you.” His mouth searched for hers and she gave in to him, they both stood there, oblivious to the drama that was going on in each of their homes with their families at that very moment.
Mercy faced Umoru, defiant and unwilling to soften her stance. There was no way he was leaving with her daughter.
Nene’s mother watched the two in fear, Godwin and Nene were not home yet and she was afraid things might go wrong before she got help.
“You people take am easy abeg” she pleaded, but none of them paid her any attention, each stared at each other with so much hatred and anger.
“You cannot take my child away from me” Mercy said, “I will fight you with my last drop of blood”
“And I will too, so bring it on” Umoru replied. The little girl began to cry, it was as if she knew the war her parents were fighting at the moment.
Godwin chose that moment to walk in through the door and Nene’s mother muttered a little prayer of gratitude.
Godwin watched them both and knew a war was on, “Both of una no fit settle like dis. If you get sense, sit down and talk dis tin like adult”
Mercy began to hesitate but Godwin didn’t let her, “I said sit down and discuss like adults! Do you think this is about the both of you? This is about a child’s future, agree on it now and save yourselves the curses she would send your way in future if you don’t!”
Godwin was dead serious, Mercy could see that. Her brother had never spoken English like that to her or anyone at home like that before, he was really serious.
“Umoru, be the man.” He faced their mother, “mummy, make we go talk outside, dis people need space”
And their mother nodded and followed him, leaving the two estranged lovers the opportunity to settle the most important issue at the moment; the future of their only child.
“Let’s talk” Umoru said gently and Mercy nodded.
“You sent him away” Jare did not let his father walk away; he had followed him and stood in his way while he got the answers to his questions.
“No son. He went away on his own volition.” The family patriarch said calmly.
“But how did you know about this…”
“Because I saw it coming, I have seen you both together and I know whatever twisted affection you have for each other is one sided, besides, Antonio has several other lovers both male and female back in the UK and the US. I had a girl arranged for him, she wasn’t to seduce him, she was just to make him see her. He slept with her without issues and kept contacting her. He forgot to mention he was married to another man, a clueless self absorbed man.” The family patriarch replied, “You were going to find out because you almost caught him twice, once at dinner and the second time when she came to supposedly pick your clothes up for laundry at the penthouse”
Jare remembered the second time clearly, there had been a buxom beauty at the penthouse when he returned from the barber’s, Antonio had told him she was there to pick laundry and had dismissed her hurriedly. Jare noticed something was wrong that night, now he knew what it was; his lover had been lying to him.
“I told him to tell you who he was, a cheater and a liar. He begged for the easiest way out – not to tell you. And since I was trying to be rid of him before anyway, I offered him a sum he couldn’t refuse. He took it without thinking and walked away fast. He planned his own kidnap son, you were his meal ticket”
The older man walked out of the room, leaving the impact of his words to devastate Jare.
Jide Fowler snr wasn’t the one to ruin happy moments, at least if they were genuine happy moments and that was why he hadn’t ruined the proposal between Jaiye and Nene.
But he was going to find out if the girl was good enough to be a part of the Fowler clan, he seemed to like her guts and to be honest he had wanted his son to marry her from the start, but he had to dig first and be sure she was the right one.
He wouldn’t stand in the way of love; he never had and certainly wasn’t starting with his favourite son.
But first, he had to check on what Jaiye told him about her, if it was true she wasn’t the one who broke the news in anyway, then she was very welcome to be the mother to the next set of his grandchildren.
Tolu watched the older man with fear, he had a powerful effect and even though there were several other people in the restaurant, she was afraid.
“So that was all you.” He said, referring to the news she had broken about his family some weeks before, she nodded.
“Yes sir, I was trying to make a way in my career and I wanted to…I’m so sorry sir” she was saying so many things at once and was nervous, she hoped the man would not do anything drastic because she knew she had wronged him, someone like that could tap his fingers and have her career ruined forever.
“Here is the deal young lady, stay away from my family, go on TV and make the break the good news of an amazing love story between Jaiye and Nene and stay far away from the family forever. And when I mean family, it includes Nene Francis, she is a Fowler now”
Tolu nodded quickly, she understood more than that. And she intended to stay away forever.
“Do you Jaiye Fowler, take Nene Francis to be your lawful wedded wife, in happiness and in sadness, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer till death do you part?”
“Yes I do”
“You may now kiss the bride”
Those words echoed in her head two weeks after the wedding, she had gotten her happily ever after. She had married the man she couldn’t dare to dream about and her life had changed forever.
“Hey! I said cooking is my job till this baby pops out madam”
She looked beside her and saw her handsome husband walking into the kitchen; he kissed her baby bump, which was beginning to show, and buried his head in her breasts.
“I love you this woman, you would be the death of me I swear.” He said and kissed her lips.
“I love you too this man.” She said and giggled. “I can’t believe I almost didn’t marry you”
“Forget that one o, I would have planned with my guy Godwin, kidnapped you and married you by force” he said and she laughed. “I love you so much Iyawo mi”
“I love you too oko mi”
“I love the dress by the way, I have never seen it before” he said as he viewed the floral dress she was wearing again.
“One of the numerous gifts from my sexy sister in law.” Nene said, referring to Jo. “I can’t wait for this honeymoon to be over sef, we have shopping to do for the house”
Jaiye pouted, “You can’t wait for the honeymoon to be over so you can shop with my sister.”
“Yes o” Nene said and giggled. Her phone rang and she picked it, it was Jo. “Ah she is even the one calling.” She answered the call, “Hey Jo”
“Nene, I am checking the drapes now, which colour would you prefer for the sitting room?”
“I will like purple…”
Jaiye snatched the phone from his wife, “Hello Jo, go and disturb Jire and Jide’s wives and leave mine alone. We want to make love”
“You want to add to the baby in there?” Jo asked and giggled.
“Well, leave that to us. Bye for now” then he hung up and faced his wife who was laughing.
“You are too jealous” she said, grateful for this wonderful man that had changed her life.
She remembered the beautiful house he had bought for her mother and siblings in Banana Island and how he had helped Godwin get ahead in his business, he was such good news.
“I am jealous, I admit. I want you all to myself. Now come let me make love to you please because I want it and need it so bad right now”
He scooped her up in his arms and carried her across the room into the bedroom.
“Jaiye” she called.
“I want it on the kitchen counter”
Then he carried her back into the kitchen and made sweet love to his wife.