Here’s what happened on The Darker Berry last week;
Umi and Femi met each other for the first time.
Not so fast. Before you get all mushy, Umi does not like Femi. It’s not her fault really, he was a dick to her and he’s an unashamed Asewo.
Umi has two besties; Quincy and Chibuzor. Chibuzor is in love with Umi and he kinda used Quincy (in a bad way) to get Umi’s longtime boo out of the way.
Femi wants to get Umi in his bed. Well, because he’s a Ho and he’s tired of his current play thing.
Read up on what happened last week HERE if you haven’t just yet. And, if you want to refresh your memories.
Now, let’s get to what happens today.
Enjoy The Darker Berry #2 brought to you by Sally and I.
Lying before him, outside his Office window was the breathtaking view of the ocean on a late afternoon.
When he was renovating his office building years before, he’d insisted on a great view from his office window. And sometimes, when he needed to ease himself of the day’s stress or forget some of his woes, all he had to do was shove his hands into his pockets and take in the view.
It soothed him like the balmy hands of a skilled masseuse and restored some of his lost energy.
And on days when it seemed like the calming effect of taking in the view was slow, he grabbed a steamy cup of green tea to speed up the process.
His hazel brown eyes gazed at the waves of the blue sea now. Rocking the deep blue Yacht in the distance slowly, he longed for the sight to give him a comforting feel but like a reluctant Mistress angry at her Lover, it simply did not.
Setting the empty cup of green tea on his glass office table, he continued to look through his transparent glass wall into the waters.
He was unsettled and clearly, it was nothing nature could fix.
This was one of those days; he had to fix his own issues himself.
Usually, his mother was the one he called to talk to when things got out of control. However, she was not to know of what he was up to this time around.
She was never to know.
Pushing the feeling of guilt that tugged at his chest away, he returned his gaze to the content on his table – his laptop was still open, unanswered mails asking to be responded to.
However, he could not tend to them yet. His thoughts were not together – they were flung across too many things. Things he couldn’t even bring himself to consciously think about.
Desperate to bury his head in something, he called his operations manager, Carole.
“Carole, are the models here?” he asked and her soft feminine voice responded quickly over the receiver of his office phone.
“Yes Sir. The Studio is being prepped for them to begin shoot. You can come take a look before we begin,” she said and he considered that for a second.
He trusted Carole’s decision on almost everything at work, which was a big deal considering he was a perfectionist and almost nobody in the business, could satisfy his work needs.
However, coming on a Set she had been in charge of since inception might be a bad idea for her.
He knew himself; he was going to demand for certain changes and he definitely did not want Carole thinking she was not good enough. As much as he always wanted things done a certain way as the Boss of one of the biggest media houses in the country, he also didn’t want to crush the egos of the people who worked hard under him.
But at the same time, he wanted to push away the thoughts he had woken up with that morning. So he said to Carole, “Fine. I will be with you shortly.” Then he ended the call.
He took a few minutes before joining Carole and the entire production crew in his studio – one of the biggest in the country.
The studio was responsible for many TV commercials, episodes of some of the most watched TV series and numerous Nollywood movies.
And Femi ensured it was state of the art. A few months back, when one of his friends from Hollywood had come over for a Film Festival in Lagos, he had expressed his surprise to see something of “this standard in Lagos!”
“Femi, this is astonishing!” Abel, one of his closest American pals had exclaimed, before walking in and out of different parts of the studio like an excited child making his first trip to Disneyland.
Starting out of the office, he hurriedly texted a number on his phone and made for the Studio. Carole was by his side in seconds, explaining to him what they were about to do.
They were shooting some of the first commercials for his TV Station that was going live in 90 days and had hired some of the best faces in entertainment to shoot a commercial for them.
Some of the photos going on billboards at specific places in Lagos had been taken earlier and now they were on to the commercials.
“I also got you an interview with Boon FM next week and one of the most watched shows on Africa Magic later this week.”
Carole’s voice gradually took a backseat to his current object of interest. Widening his eyes in surprise, he saw her.
Dressed in a flowing baby pink Ankara material with puffed sleeves, her hair held tightly in a bun by a white lacy ribbon, she stood listening to a creative director intently.
Ignoring Carole and unable to contain the rage he felt when he saw her; he marched through the crowded area and made a beeline for the woman he couldn’t wait to lay his hands on.
Slim hands on an equally slim body, she was laughing at something the creative director was saying when he reached her side.
“What are you doing here?” he asked between gritted teeth, a faux smile pasted on his face. He could not let anyone see or know why he was fuming.
“Oh, hey Femi. I was not expecting to see you!” she said with a grin.
“Outside, now.” He smiled at her companion and waited for her to fall in place in front of him.
He pulled her all the way to a quiet space when they stepped out of the noisy studio and only when they were away from everybody did he let out his anger. “What are you doing here, Nife?”
“Working.” She said with a pout.
“Here? You are a respected model and stylist. What are you doing filming a commercial with hundreds of other people in my studio?” he demanded.
“Femi, I am working for our child.”
“I am working for our child too! But I don’t expect you to work where I work!”
She sighed. “I shouldn’t do a gig because it is for your studio?” she asked him, arms folded stubbornly.
Gaping at her incredulously, he replied, “Yeah! Because this is literally shoving our family into the limelight. Everyone will try to know what is going on or not going on between us! I do not want the Press or the media tearing Teni apart all in the name of news.” When he realized she was disappointed he added, “See Nifesi, I’m sorry but you cannot be here. Please go home and look for another gig. Please.”
He saw the hurt in her eyes before she stepped away from him and stormed off angrily.
He knew she was going to grab her things and leave. That was Nifesi – she understood him and, she loved him.
And he also knew she was unhappy with him asking her to leave, however, not everyone knew of the existence of his six month old child, Teniola. And he intended to keep it that way.
Especially now that his past had come to haunt him, again.
His phone rang and he swiped his thumb across the screen, “Yes? Fine. I will see you there in fifteen minutes.” Ending the call, he spotted Nifesi marching towards her car. She was holding the long tail of the flowing dress she wore in her hands, shielding it from potential dirt.
Feeling guilty for making her leave when she clearly didn’t want to, Femi hurried towards her and offered an apology. “I’m sorry but this is for the best of our child.”
She eyed him, opened the door and said, “She cannot be hidden forever, you know? She is a human being and very soon, people will know she exists and she’s yours.”
She entered her car, slammed the door shut and sped out of the massive compound that housed his office and studio before he could get another word in.
And for some reason, her statement sounded like a threat.
But he did not have time to sit back and ruminate over her words. He had somewhere important to be.
To discuss some other situation he was trying to ensure remained a secret.
Lagos traffic was kind to him that evening – with lesser traffic than he had anticipated on the route he drove through – he was at the restaurant where he was meeting his nemesis in less than fifteen minutes.
Easing himself into a booth facing the window, faraway from other customers, he set his stony glare on the woman before him.
She had not changed much since the last time he saw her. She still had the scar above her right eye, still wore makeup heavier than the rain on a stormy morning and clearly, still had a knack for blackmail.
“You don’t look happy to see me,” she said, flashing a toothy smile.
Unwilling to stare at her, his eyes dropped to the glossy menu lying in the middle of the table. He could not bear to look into her eyes.
He was not sure his anger would not overpower him.
“You know why I am here, just be fast and let me be going.”
He nodded, a wry smile creeping on his face. “This would not be the last time I would see you, would it?” he asked rhetorically.
She did not provide an answer and he honestly was not counting on one.
It was the third time she was calling this year and he definitely knew it was not the last.
“I can go away finally on one condition sha,” she said with a slight shrug.
He gasped, “One condition? Iyabo, you are giving me a condition? Like this is all my fault?” he tried to keep his voice down but he knew he would have more luck, looking into the sun with naked eyes.
“So it is my fault abi?” she countered, “You and your friends raped and killed somebody but ehen, it is Iyabo’s fault.”
He ran his hand through his recently cut hair, frustrated.
“Iyabo, I did not rape her” he said through clenched teeth.
“But you were sha there when your friends were raping her and cutting her to pieces.”
He looked around them. This was no place to discuss his extremely dark past. However, he did not want Iyabo to know his house or his office or even where he hung out for relaxation.
There was no telling what she could do. It was the reason he had not argued when she picked this Restaurant he never frequented and which he knew he wouldn’t be caught in on a normal day.
When his gaze returned to their table, she was looking at him pokerfaced. As if she had not become his worst nightmare, popping in and out of his life at will like one would a country with no visa.
He and Iyabo had grown up together on the streets of Mushin. Initially close, both of them had been teased as ‘Oko Iyawo’ by their friends until they were teenagers.
Having constant sex with Iyabo in his friend’s one room apartment because he couldn’t take her to the apartment he shared with his mother had not helped.
That, and her constant screams whenever they screwed.
However, as he grew older, his dreams separated him not just from Iyabo, but the other guys he grew up with.
They wanted a life he could never see himself living and he pursued a life they all strongly believed was unattainable.
Iyabo dug her hands into the lilac purse she was carrying now, her long artificial nails producing a pack of chewing gum.
Popping one into her mouth, she said “I need the money to write WAEC,” she began to chew. “Somebody said they know one special center like that…” She shrugged as if she was convinced Femi was bothered by her information. “I don’t want to go to school again sef but I just met this guy, he is fine. He’s mulatto like you.”
He’d always hated to be referred to as ‘mulatto’ but he was not there to discuss the use of offensive words with Iyabo.
“How much this time?” he winced when he asked because he knew it was not the last and because he hoped there was a way he could get himself out of this mess.
A few stares were directed their way. Iyabo blew a huge bubble with the gum in her mouth, made a huge sound when she burst it and continued chewing loudly.
“See as they were looking at you. Imagine what will now happen when they know what we cooked that made the house catch fire, ehn?”
He loathed the woman she had become. The woman that believed it was okay to feel entitled to the success of a former friend, the woman who reveled in her slothfulness and one who seemed to be aspiring to the highest level of ugliness.
Sticking a finger in her mouth, she drew the gum and toyed with it before pushing it back into her mouth.
“Have you considered getting a job?” he asked, “Getting a life and leaving me alone?”
“I have interview today sef in this place but that one is not your business. Your business is to give me what I asked for,” she replied. “So what will happen now abeg?”
“You cannot possibly need a million naira to write an exam,” he said to her “Is your center in the Middle East?”
She shrugged, “Me I sha know that is how much I want,” she replied, leaning against her seat.
“I cannot give you that amount of money, Iyabo. It is ridiculous.” He shook his head as he continued, “I cannot believe we used to be friends and now, this is what you have turned our relationship to.”
She gazed at him with a somber look for so long, he actually began to believe his words had hit home.
However, when she burst out laughing some minutes after, he knew there was no getting through to this woman.
She was who she was and he was her victim whether he liked it or not.
“Which useless relationship?” she asked, arching a heavily drawn brow. “You that you don’t have heart is talking about relationship? Abi I look stupid to you ni?” she drew a long hiss. “It’s like you think I have forgotten what you did to me on my 18th birthday.”
Femi remembered the night in question well.
He and his friends had thrown a surprise birthday party for Iyabo. She had been elated and so in love with him at the time that she literally wanted to be with him at every single second of the time spent at the Party.
Unfortunately, he had fallen hard for her best friend, ‘Motunde.
‘Motunde was the light skinned, slim and sweet beauty who had just moved into their neighborhood with her widowed mother.
And even though she was close friends with Iyabo and they were at the same secondary school, she was nothing like Iyabo.
It was no surprise that the guys worshipped the ground she walked on and always wanted to be around her.
If Iyabo noticed the attention showered on ‘Motunde, she never seemed perturbed.
However, on the night of her 18th birthday, he and ‘Motunde had stepped away from the loud Obesere music at the Spot they rented for Iyabo, outside into the starry night.
Leaning against an old whitish Peugeot 504, both of them had shared a bottle of Beer, swigging the content and discussing their dreams.
‘Motunde wanted the type of life he wanted – escape from the ghetto and become a respected cosmetologist – and that alone had pushed him further in love with her.
As the gentle breeze blew and the night grew darker, they had eventually tossed the empty bottle of beer on the floor, pressed their sweaty bodies against each other and kissed hungrily.
Balancing her on the booth of the Vehicle, Femi had pulled her pant aside gently and buried himself inside her.
They were having hot passionate sex when Iyabo found them.
The apology she had so desperately wanted and believed she deserved never came.
And even though Femi assumed their relationship was not meant to be serious, he never knew until then how much in love with him Iyabo was.
Their friendship never survived that night.
“That was not my fault,” he said simply and she eyed him with disdain.
“So somebody pushed your dick inside of her, abi?” she snarled.
“No. I wanted ‘Motunde and I was screwing her because I really liked her. It was not my fault you found us.”
It was Iyabo’s turn to gasp in utmost shock. It was obvious that Femi was still unapologetic after so many years and that hurt her badly.
Every time she told herself she was being too hard on him, he always gave her reasons to stay cold, to bite harder without mercy.
Grabbing her purse, she stood “If you know what is good for you, send my money before the end of the week.”
“Don’t be silly, Iyabo. We both know I cannot give you a million naira.”
“Ehen? Okay na. I kuku am not the one who has something to lose.” She said.
“Excuse me abeg. The Interview I have is starting now.”
His eyebrows knitted in a frown. Following her gaze, he looked in the direction her attention was directed to.
It was the lady from the laundry service.
“You’re having an interview with her?” he asked, puzzled.
Iyabo nodded. “Because my Mulatto likes women that have work.” She giggled, “I met him on Facebook.” She added like he gave a fuck.
Frozen, Femi watched as she marched towards Umi.
When one of her employees had brought his laundry the day before, he had felt challenged. He knew it was a conscious move on her side and she had done it because she wanted to avoid him.
And because he liked women like this one, who thought they were too good for men like him and who he enjoyed seducing until they yearned for his touch, he had planned to pay her an unexpected visit later in the day. However, Iyabo’s call that morning had changed everything.
But here she was, about to grant a work interview with his nemesis.
And as much as he wished he could do something about it, he knew it was impossible to do anything.
So, he walked out of the restaurant and prepared to return to his office.