Hey everyone, how’s it going? The weather is amazing but the Atlantic kinda relocated to the front of my house so I’m enjoying staying in. As you know, Squadi is meant to be once a week and on Wednesdays but one of the most amazing Readers, Damilola Erogunaye, got married two weeks ago and I decided to do a special episode for her (since I don’t have money for fancy gifts yet :|) I have never met her but she always has encouraging words for me and my work. Beautiful soul she is.
Anyway, Damilola’s special episode comes tomorrow. She wanted an extra Squadi episode with intense emotional moments. If y’all cry, it is Dammy not me, I will give you people her handle lol. So I will be posting Squadi tomorrow.
That said, I am working on a short novel, “My Walls Cracked” about domestic violence and, depression. It will be for N100 on Okadabooks and will be out before the end of this week. Your support will be appreciated.
Enjoy today’s episode of Squadi.
“The strongest friendships and love always come with the biggest sacrifices”
R City’s Locked Away was all he could listen to on his way to meet his friends at some spot in Karimu Ikotun in VI.
Something about the kiss with Ekanem had opened up a deep want for more. He wanted her more, wanted to continue what his lips had started and wanted her body beneath his, responding to his every move, every touch, every thrust.
He was not sure when any chic made him feel that way. Having sex with Nadia had always been that mechanical process for him – it was good, even amazing sometimes – but it never followed him everywhere he went after then.
With Ekanem, he felt even if he fucked her, he’d never be satisfied with it. He would always want more, more of her.
Khamil and some of his other friends were inside the Lounge when he got there. They all shook hands, made jokes and gestured for the Waiter to come take his order.
As the night drew to a close, empty bottles adding to the numbers on the large table that sat in front of them, Hakeem realized how weird this felt for him.
Somehow, his idea of fun wasn’t hanging with his old crew anymore. For some inexplicable reason, planning a heist to steal his inheritance from his father’s bank account with Squadi was now more interesting that anything else in the world.
His phone buzzed, it was Nadia.
Even her messages didn’t excite him anymore.
“Hey ‘Keem, sup?”
“Khamil said y’all are at someplace in VI. Do you want me there?”
Honestly, he didn’t want her anywhere near him that night. All he needed was a cool shower to ease the tension between his legs and to lure him to a sound sleep.
“I’m leaving soon” he said, eyeing the empty bottles of Vodka and Pet bottles of Coke littering their table. Khamil laughed too loudly at something one of the guys on the table was saying and Hakeem knew that was an indication he was nearing his limit.
“Okay. Tomorrow then? Need to see you”
“Sure” he said, muttered “I love you too” when she told him she loved him and got off the phone. As he told Khamil not to drive in his drunken state, he realized he didn’t love Nadia.
The ‘I love you’ he said to her was simply what it was, a response. It was emptier than broken egg shells.
He vaguely wondered if it had anything to do with the kiss he shared with Ekanem earlier as he strolled out of the Lounge and made for the Range. He also wondered if Ekanem knew that kiss was only the beginning, he was not going to stop. He couldn’t stop and honestly, he did not want to.
When he got home, it was some minutes to midnight, Martha was sprawled on one of the sofas in the sitting room, her eyes glued to some cooking show with many white people in it.
“Hakeem” she called the moment she saw him, “Please come, I have been waiting for you”
He debated answering her before he finally decided to go join her in the sitting room where she lay. Lexy’s head was buried in a textbook, a pencil in her hand.
“Welcome, Hakeem” she greeted
“Lexy” was all he said before he faced her mother. When she was younger, Lexy had loved to follow him all around the house. At a point, he literally had to lock his door to stop her from coming into his room. She liked to spend time with him, liked to sleep on his bed and eat with him.
Martha had loved it, tried to encourage it by often telling Lexy to go meet his big brother but because he loathed Martha so much, he had cared less for his half-sister.
So one day, when she had run to him because she was scared to sleep alone in her room after watching a Thriller with their father, he had told her angrily and coldly, “I hate you! Stop coming to me!”
She had watched him in shock, then slowly, said to him, “You don’t hate me”
Her voice was broken when she said, “But I love you”
“Get the fuck out, Lexy”
Minutes passed before she turned, her teddy clutched in her tiny hands and her tiny legs slowly carrying her to the door; it was as if she wanted him to call her back, to tell her he didn’t mean the things he said to her. But he didn’t, he watched her leave without taking the words back.
She never came back to him after that day.
She’d been 7 years old.
“Please sit” Martha sat up, pointed to the space near her.
He eyed the space before he sat near his step mother. “Yeah…”
“Hakeem, I want to apologize for what happened yesterday during Lexy’s birthday party. I am sorry and I assure you that it will never repeat itself” She watched him but all the response she got was a nod. “I also want you to know that I love you a lot. You are family to me and you might never let me in the way I would love to but the way I feel about you will never change”
He was getting bored, he had gotten talks like this from Martha in the past and it changed nothing. Did she think saying the same thing at some minutes to midnight was going to change the way he felt about her?
“Okay” he said and stood.
“Hakeem” she stood now, her hands on his shoulders. “Hakeem, I don’t want this to be a one sided conversation”
He shrugged her hands off, “It has always been. It is never going to change” he began to walk away when she pulled him to a stop. “Please, stop touching me”
“You think hating me will make everything better? You think it will make me go away? That it would bring your mother back?”
He eyed her coldly, “Don’t bring my mom into this, thank you very much”
“Why? It has always been a part of this. She is the reason you hate me, you are angry because you believe I took her space in your father’s life.” She replied, her hands were folded across her chest now. Her eyes were daring him to deny her words. He realized the conversation was different from the hundreds of others they had in the past, this one was bringing in the topic they’d both consciously omitted but which was responsible for the animosity between them.
“Didn’t you?” he asked, also daring her to deny his words.
“She had her space, Hakeem. I have my space. Your father’s heart is big enough to accommodate us all. He loves you, he loves Lexy, he loves me…”
“Does he?” he asked, she frowned. “Does he love you, Aunt Martha?”
Martha made to talk but he beat her to it, “Think about it carefully, does he love you or does he just like you enough to be second fiddle”
“Don’t be rude, Hakeem”
“She was your best friend, Aunt Martha! Your best friend!” the words he had put a lid on for fourteen years were threatening to push through his lips now and he knew there was no stopping them.
“She died before your father and I started seeing each other”
“Maybe. But were you not sleeping with him before she died? While she laid there terribly sick with cancer and his heart broke?” the bitter memories of his childhood were all coming back now and the anger was coming with it. He had remembered refusing to go home nights when his father tried to send him home with the nanny, wanting to stay with his sick mother on her sick bed.
One of those nights, the nanny had dragged him away from his mother’s sleeping frame and carried him on her shoulder while he screamed, disturbing the calm ambience of the Hospital.
In the car, the nanny had petted him, telling him everything would be fine. But it wasn’t. she had gone inside to pick his missing sandal, one that had fallen from the other foot when he slipped out of the car and ran back in.
It was then he saw his father and his Aunt Martha, who was his mother’s best friend, kissing each other. The Nanny had been blind to it and had scooped him with her as she made for the car but he had never forgotten. He could never forget.
“Hakeem…” her hands were reaching for him again.
“Don’t” he warned, took a few steps back and added, “This is the last time we will ever have this conversation because nothing will ever change. Goodnight Aunt Martha” he then hurried towards his bedroom.
Alhaji’s beefy hands reached for her nipples, pressing them at the same time and squeezing them when he had satisfied himself.
Since she returned, he had not slept with her but he had ordered her to strip while he irritated her with his touch.
She wished he’d just go away and leave her alone. She did not want his presence in her house and her irritation was threatening to push her to the limit.
“Shh…” he gestured with a finger, then he returned to pressing her nipples like it was a doorbell.
“Alhaji please what is the meaning of this?” she snapped, slapping his hands off her and moving away quickly before he dragged her back into the bed like he had the last three times she tried to escape from him.
“Ekanem, come back here!” he barked but she reached for her dress instead and pulled it over her head. She could sense him closing in on her and she raced for the door. “Ekanem!”
She wore the dress, “Alhaji if you touch me again, I will scream. Tell me what you came here for and leave”
He stopped, his eyes boring into her. Then, he turned and returned to his previous seat. “What are you doing with Hakeem?”
“He’s my friend”
“I’m not stupid, Ekanem” he said, “You’re sleeping with him aren’t you?”
Ekanem watched him quietly, she knew this man well enough to know that if she said she wasn’t, then he’d try to find out what she was doing with his son.
And that was likely to blow their cover and ruin their plans. She did not want to be responsible for Squadi’s problems so she nodded slowly.
His eyes widened in surprise and then, he shook his head, “You’re stupid. He’s a small boy and he will use you”
“I’m used to being used” she said simply and he shrugged.
“Then, I can use you tonight too”
“Go home, Alhaji. It is almost midnight. You have been here all evening, doing nothing. Please go” she pointed to his cap which he had removed on tossed somewhere on the bed when he walked in hours earlier.
“No” he dragged her closer, threw her in the bed and parted her legs. Burying himself inside her, he began to thrust into her mercilessly.
Ekanem shut her eyes tightly and counted down to when it would all end.
He rolled over and slept when he was done with her. Moving silently to her purse which was sharing her crowded table with cosmetics and other essentials, she dug for a sachet of morning after pills and downed them with a half bottle of water lying close to the purse.
She did not return to bed when she was done, watching him from where she sat, disgust rose inside of her.
When she started sleeping with him, she had irritated herself and her conscience had constantly made her feel guilty. However, she had always told herself it was a means to an end.
She just needed him to get what she wanted in life.
Depending on him had however taking longer than she’d expected, still, she longed for the days when sleeping with him would be behind her.
Leaning on the chair she sat on, she wondered if Martha worried about where he was. He had never passed the night at hers, yet, here he was sleeping on her bed, refusing to return to his.
She wondered vaguely if they had a fight or if he had a reason for intruding her space like this. Reaching for his phone, she scrolled through and found the Gmail App she created weeks before uninstalled.
Hovering her fingers over it, she contemplated deleting it. But after telling herself its sudden disappearance was going to be the only thing more suspicious than its sudden appearance, she freed it and busied herself with scrolling through blogs on the phone.
A headline caught her eyes on the blog she currently was browsing through. It said something about some robbery in a Bank. That reminded Ekanem of what Squadi was about to do. Reading through the post, she found out that the robbery had happened in faraway Asia and was being dubbed the most organized cybercrime in history.
It was when she saw the process that she realized she didn’t even have Alhaji’s details. His Email had to be connected to his bank account and at the moment, it wasn’t. They also didn’t have certain details like passwords and identification numbers, what were they to do if the bank requested that?
Alhaji stirred and she hurriedly dropped his phone. She relaxed her head on the chair then, hoping for morning to come quick, her mind occupied with thoughts of the robbery.
The last time he spoke to Lerato was the only thing he could think of. It was the only thing his mind was willing to dwell on.
The little crop top, her facial mask, the words she had spoken to him. Truly, she had been working for dangerous people and whoever it was had killed her.
He leaned on the wall in his room for support; the tears were still not coming, they were waiting for his mind to grapple with the news of his loss. But how could he deal? Lerato was the only person who got him the way she got him, how was he supposed to ever deal with that for the rest of his life.
He let out a sob, his back slowly sliding against the wall till he fell to the floor.
God no! God why?
The tears came now, cascading his face and blinding his vision.
His heart broke for her, his heart broke for his friend, his partner. She was his confidant, just like Yede. How was he going to live life knowing someone hurt her?
He should have listened to her talk, he should have told her to open up more. He should have held on to her that day when she was about to walk out of the door of that hotel room.
Now, all he had were those memories.
Since Yede broke the news of his death to him the night before, he had seen her walk to that door a thousand times over. In his dreams, he had stopped her. She had smiled, rested her beautiful face on his shoulder and he had been happy that he stopped her from her death.
However, in reality, the truth haunted him.
He staggered to his bed, cleaned his face and grabbed his bag. His parents reminded him of his mother’s dream before letting him leave.
“Are you okay?” his mother asked, she could see the swollen eyes.
“Yes” he replied and left the house before other questions could follow. In the Taxi back to Lagos, he won the battle against the tears and begged Lerato to forgive him for not holding her back against her death.
Ekanem, Hakeem and Yellow fussed over him when he hooked up with them somewhere in Ajah. He had wanted to keep the news away from them, because their friendship was new and because they did not know Lerato.
However, his sour mood and his swollen eyes had given him away. And the moment he told them, they had all become warm, each telling him they had all lost someone close to them.
For Ekanem, it was her father. Hakeem had lost his own mother as a child and Yellow told them of his best friend Mufu. It didn’t make him feel any better, but it did help to know that they knew how he felt.
“Let’s work, guys. I will be fine” he said and Ekanem nodded slowly, a look of concern still on her face.
“Certain details of your father’s account is needed Hakeem, so that when demanded, we can provide.” He was avoiding each of their faces because he knew there still laid some sort of sympathy for him.
And he hated sympathy.
“Guys, can we work?” he asked, still refusing to look into their eyes.
“What details would you need?” Hakeem asked
“Passwords, Identification number, anything we’re likely to be asked when we gain access to his account”
“I don’t know what his passwords might be”
Yellow spoke next, “You for don find that one nau. How we wan take work if you no get password?”
“Well, I thought it was something AJ will be able to hack into without password” Hakeem said, defensive
“There’s always a need for a password, Hakeem. It is how it works. Get his Password before we travel on Tuesday” then he slammed his laptop shut, “And be careful about it”
Hakeem looked at Ekanem, “Can you help get that?”
“No” she replied curtly.
Their voices were muffled by the door that separated them from he and AJ in the sitting room they all stood in just a few seconds before.
He could hear Ekanem’s voice, rising in anger at Hakeem. Hakeem’s voice was barely audible; he was either speaking quietly on purpose or Ekanem’s voice had overshadowed his because of the high tempo.
She seemed livid and he vaguely wondered why. The plan from the inception had been to help get everything they needed from Hakeem’s father; things Hakeem himself had no access to.
So why was she angry now that she had been asked to do a job she’d agreed to do?
Sometimes, he did not understand human beings. Grabbing one of the throw pillows on the couch in front of him, he slumped into the cushioned furniture and tried to sleep.
The couch in his house wasn’t this comfortable, so it would serve as a better resting place until Hakeem was able to convince Ekanem to do her job.
He was not sure how long he slept but he was startled from a very peaceful sleep a while later, Ekanem’s voice had been responsible.
She was talking at the top of her voice at Hakeem and AJ as it seemed, none of the guys could stop her.
“He is not a good man, I cannot stand another day with him under the pretense of being sorry just so you can get what you want!” she snapped at Hakeem, walked to AJ’s former seat and sat. Yellow watched her, she seemed tensed, even her shoulders wouldn’t slump after she had taken a seat.
Something was biting her, and it had nothing to do with the task she was being given.
Reluctantly rising from the couch, Yellow staggered towards the trio. He slumped into a seat near Ekanem, faced her, “Ekanem, Coke or Fanta?”
She arched an eyebrow, “Uhn?”
“Which drink you want? Coke abi na Fanta?”
She looked away, “I don’t want any drink”
Hakeem and AJ were gazing at him with surprise on their faces.
“Food nko?” he asked, Ekanem shook her head.
“I am not hungry, Yellow”
Yellow nodded, he looked at the younger guys in front of him. “AJ, Hakeem you people should go and set up whatever you need to set up. Give Ekanem and I time to talk”
The guys nodded and dispersed into the room Hakeem and Ekanem had been arguing earlier. Yellow inched closer to Ekanem once the door shut behind them.
“What’s biting you?” he asked her.
She shrugged, “Nothing”
He placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, “I am not buying that, Ekanem” she made to speak and he stopped her with a finger on his lips. “Unlike those boys, I am a grown man and I know someone going through a lot when I see them. Ekanem, what is the problem?”
She sniffed, lowered her head. Whatever burden she carried weighed her down like heavy metals placed on feeble shoulders.
“I can’t do this anymore” she looked at Yellow now, tears in her eyes. “I cannot sleep with Alhaji anymore”
“They didn’t ask you to sleep with him”
“No. But if I agree to get this password or whatever, then he will sleep with me. It’s inevitable” a tear rolled down her cheek, she wiped it with the back of her hand. “I saw a different version of him last night”
Yellow saw the fear in her eyes and he knew convincing her to do what they wanted was going to be evil, so he nodded and stood gently.
“Don’t do it then”
She was surprised when he said the words to her. He called Hakeem and AJ and told them Ekanem couldn’t do what they wanted.
“So how would we get what we need?” AJ asked
“I’ll do it” Hakeem offered.
“You said your father doesn’t allow you access to some certain things, Hakeem. It is why you got Ekanem in the first place”
Hakeem shrugged, “Yep” then he looked at Ekanem, “But since she’s proven to be useless, I will do it myself” sticking both hands in his pockets he added, “Get out Ekanem, no one needs you anymore”
Ekanem, shocked, stood rooted to a spot. Then, she grabbed her bag and stomped towards the door.
“And Ekanem?” Hakeem called when she neared the exit. She turned and faced him, “Don’t ever come back”
She slammed the door loudly behind her as she left the house.