When he got to his house this time, he did not have to go inside the building.
Wasiu was standing outside the house, hands stuck in the pockets of his Ankara trousers while he paced the front of the building restlessly.
There was weed stuck in his mouth but he was not smoking. Femi knew that mood well and he knew it meant Wasiu had stuff on his mind.
As he approached him, his phone vibrating in his pocket, he wondered how the meeting with someone he once called his brother would go this time around.
The man looked up and Femi stopped in his heels, watching, waiting for what was to come. Knowing fully well that whatever they ended with this time around would permanently seal their fates.
So he stood, watching, irritated by the phone constantly buzzing in his pocket.
The breeze that night was warm, thanks to the extremely hot weather in Lagos at the moment. Grateful that he had chosen a shirt with a light material, he temporarily occupied himself with thoughts of the surrounding and the weather.
The phone was buzzing again.
After a few seconds, he grabbed the device and swiped his thumb across the screen.
It was his mother.
“Mummy, mo’n bo. E se suru.” And then he listened to the woman chide him about ‘walking around at night like an aimless goat’ before saying calmly, “I’m sorry but I promise I will be home soon.”
When he tried to hang up, the screen froze and he had to wait a bit while he muttered a cuss under his breath.
The phone needed a replacement but his life had been too busy to make out time for that. He really was too occupied, his mother was right. Sometimes, he didn’t even have time to do the basics – like replacing his darn phone. He loved gadgets and changing a phone was usually an event. He would take his time to pick the best product after sampling a few selected ones. It was in the ‘feel’. If a phone didn’t feel right in his hand, didn’t caress him back, wasn’t as smooth as a woman’s thighs, he wasn’t buying.
Femi looked up and found Wasiu looking at him, his facial expression softened.
“How is she?” he asked
“She’s fine.” Femi replied.
“Let me guess, she was wondering why you were walking around at night?”
They both burst into laughter, the edge lifting. Femi’s mother had been terror when they were younger.
“Remember that one night we gatecrashed Nnamdi’s party and got so drunk we ended up in your house banging on the window thinking it was the door?”
Femi remembered the night too well. “Ha, abeg no dey talk the rubbish wey we commit for dat night, Wasiu.” He recalled how they had all taken turns to bang on the window, demanding for it to be opened.
“And I remember how she watched me waddle to the kitchen, grab the pot and try to stick my fingers in it. She just watched me until I was about to and hit my head with a turning stick.”
Femi burst out laughing. “The cold water she emptied on my head while I slept that freezing morning still makes me shiver as I remember.”
Wasiu clutched his stomach as he laughed harder at the memories they shared. “Omo your maale na correct dramatist. The fact say she watch us fuck up, before teaching us lesson na wetin make her different.”
“As in ehn. She no go say ‘don’t do it’ o, she go wait until you don do am before she beat the shit out of you.”
Wasiu wiped a tear off his face, he hadn’t laughed like that in a long time. “Correct woman.”
“And she still hasn’t changed,” Femi said. “Nothing has changed.”
The laughter waned from Wasiu’s lips; he was not sure why, but Femi’s words ran deeper than the surface.
Nothing has changed.
It was as if he was referring to something other than his mother’s mode of discipline – something like their friendship, the way things used to be, the way they shared jokes on a starry night when everyone else had gone to bed.
Nothing has changed.
When in fact, everything had changed.
And as if remembering they were not best friends anymore, that their lives had changed and their worlds were now a sharp contrast to each other, he quickly replaced his laughter with a deep frown.
“What do you want, Agbaje?”
Femi realized the laughter from Wasiu’s face was gone and he could see that the man had once again, returned to the hostility he wore like a cloak around him.
“Same reason I came here earlier.”
Wasiu shook his head. “I’m aware of…”
“You want more from life, Wasiu?”
Wasiu stopped, the words he was about to speak unable to tumble from his lips. Femi had gotten his attention and he was not about to lose it.
This was going to either make or mar him. And heavens forbid the latter to be the case.
He had worked too hard all his life, and he certainly wasn’t about to let all the sleepless nights and tenacity go down the drain because of one woman who felt entitled to a part of his hard-earned wealth.
“All your life, you had a dream. Like every child, you dreamt of becoming something. Maybe like the rest of us, you didn’t know how to get there but you did have a dream. And it doesn’t include you spending the rest of your life in a dingy cell.”
Wasiu tore his gaze away from Femi. He found a bench and sat on it, drawing in hard on what was left of the weed between his fingers before trampling the rest beneath his sandaled feet.
Letting the smoke settle in his lungs, he exhaled ringlets of smoke before replying Femi. “Too late to become anything. My life no fit sink lower than this.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.”
Wasiu looked at him and Femi’s heart sank at what he saw. The man still had some optimism left; he still wanted to be better.
He still wanted to achieve something.
“Wasiu, I can help you,” Femi said, rushing to his side. “I can do something for you…”
Wasiu shoved him off. “I no need you to do anything for me!” Anger blazed from his eyes like fire generously doused with fuel. “I no be charity case wey you go just fix to feel better!”
Femi tried to be calm. “I am not trying to fix you. We’re brothers.”
Wasiu scoffed. “Are we now? For more than ten years you turned your back on your brother, didn’t respond to messages, didn’t call, didn’t care whether hin die or live but because you don enter gbege you suddenly remember me and that you’re…” he paused, as if mouthing the word was hard for him, “my brother,” he finally said, disdain on his face.
“This isn’t about me being in trouble, Wasiu. You need help.”
“I no need your help!”
“Fine. Let your stupid pride eat you up and provide for you and your family.”
Femi began to turn away. He was not going to convince a grown man to accept help he obviously needed.
“How dare you?!”
Femi froze in his tracks.
“You dare to think yourself as the savior of the world? You get liver, Agbaje! You be fool!”
Femi whirled around; he was done being civil. “I refuse to be blamed or made to feel bad for your predicament.” He spat. He had tried too long to rein his anger in. Now the words couldn’t be bridled. Even if he tried, there was no holding them back. It was as if the lid to his self-control had been toppled and now everything must come out.
He let Wasiu’s arrogant ass know how he felt with every single word he muttered.
And they tumbled off his lips without censor.
“What predicament?! You think say because you dey rich, being poor na predicament?” Wasiu sneered. “You’re very stupid!”
“Poverty is a predicament, a disease; one that has clearly eaten into you so deep you refuse help when it comes to you on a platter.”
Livid, Wasiu shoved him against the rough bark of a tree. Before Femi could recover, Wasiu followed up his assault with vicious punches. Hitting him in quick blows. It took a little while before Femi threw him on the ground and returned the favor.
They were at it, rolling in the dust before his phone started vibrating again.
Worried that it might be his mother, he got off the man beneath him and grabbed the phone.
It was Umi.
“Hey, is everything okay?”
Femi could see Wasiu aiming for him, but he dodged before he could land another blow. “I’m fine, Umi. Thanks,” he said breathlessly, dodging yet another blow coming his way.
“Is everything okay?” she repeated. “You called me and I heard someone shouting in the background.”
“I called you?”
A blow hit him in the eye this time.
“Yes. I hung up and I’m calling back.”
“You know what? Let me call you back.” With his legs, he threw Wasiu on the ground. Holding the phone in place, he dealt Wasiu a fist while that one grunted.
“I’m on top of something,” he told Umi.
“I’ll call you back…”
Wasiu yelped in pain.
“Femi, are you okay? Are you being attacked? Just say yes, nothing more.”
“I’m fine, Umi. I promise.” Wasiu was struggling to get up. “I will call you back once this is done.”
His eye ached and he worried it would swell but he was not about to get blindsided again. Tapping the ‘end’ key on this phone screen, he tossed the phone a few spaces away from the fight scene.
He was going to replace it anyway. No need to handle it delicately.
“Are you willing to talk this over or are you going to keep acting stubborn?” He panted.
Wasiu stubbornly remained silent.
“Get off me.”
“Only if you agree to find a permanent solution to Iyabo and her mess.”
“It’s your mess, Agbaje.”
“Our mess. You committed murder and got us all roped!”
When Wasiu realized his strength was failing him, he nodded. “Fine.”
Femi got off him and helped Wasiu up with a hand. Both men were battered, body covered in sand and tiny stones.
But somehow, both of them had parted with their anger in that physical fight.
They had fisted, fought dirty and as they traded each blow, let go of their animosity. They had gathered quite some audience doing so but Wasiu waved the onlookers away after the bout.
Femi picked his phone. Sitting on the bench only Wasiu sat on just minutes before, they both caught their breaths, thinking of how far they’d come and both understanding they had to come together for a common enemy now.
Wasiu drew out a hand, Femi took it. They shook each other’s hands firmly.
He was sleeping the next morning when the smell of his mother’s food woke him.
The aroma wafted in through the door, accompanied by his mom and coffee in his favorite mug.
“Bawo ni, oko mi?” she asked, placing the tray containing scrambled eggs, sausages and sliced bread on a stool near him.
“E kaaro ma,” he greeted, eyeing the food near him. He was famished.
“Aro ke? It’s almost afternoon my dear. I didn’t want to wake you because you came in so late last night and you haven’t slept like this in a long while. I have even gone for Mass and come back.”
His mother sat near him on the bed. “Femi, please don’t make this late night thing you do a habit o. God forbid anything bad happens to you but you know how dangerous this city can be at night.”
“It won’t happen again, mummy.” He said, hoping she would let it go now that he had apologized.
“But you have scratches on your face. And your eye has some blackness.” She tried to touch him but he moved back. “What happened?”
She sighed. “Femi, you left that ghetto life years ago…”
Leaning towards the breakfast, he grabbed the tray and dug in. The night before had been fulfilling and he and Wasiu had reached an agreement regarding Iyabo.
They were going to pay her back in her own coin – dig dirt on her and blackmail her with it. That simple.
And if he knew Iyabo well, she crumbled under pressure. So this was it; he was finally getting rid of her forever.
“So that Umi girl, are you people seeing soon? Today is a good day to visit her and thank her for her kindness, you know?”
His mother had a playful smile on her lips and he knew she was in the mood to tease him with yet another woman.
He was not going to make it easy for her. “I have work,” he replied firmly. He needed to call Umi. But he was not going to reveal that part to his mother.
He didn’t want her to get more ideas in her head.
She had conjured enough as it were.
“When you finish…”
“Mummy, Bella Fashion has more clothes and shoes in stock. That type you normally like. I paid 50k into her account yesterday, shey you will go and shop?” He drank the hot coffee, not missing the frown on her face.
“So you’re using style to get rid of me now abi?”
Finishing what was left of the coffee, he stood. “I love you too.”
Then he strode into the bathroom. He was going to leave for the office in a few minutes, even though it was a Sunday, and get some work done.
After that, he would take Umi out to lunch and get her in his bed if they were up to it.
Thinking of her in the nude hardened him and he knew, even though he wanted her to be temporal like the other women before her, he wasn’t going to let her go as fast as he let the others.
Because he really dug her.
He lifted the toilet seat and lowered down for his daily bathroom business. This usually involved spending an entire hour in the bathroom – pooping while browsing the net, grooming, showering and staring hard at the mirror for more than ten minutes.
He turned on his phone which now seemed in the mood to behave. He wasn’t so crazy about Apple products or he would have gotten an iPhone 7 straightaway. He had even gifted some girl he had a one-night stand with his iPhone 6 just to appreciate her blowjob skills.
But he was getting tired of Android devices these days. All it had taken for the one in his hand to act up was to hit a hard surface. He hated that he was changing it in less than six months.
Messages began pouring into the phone from his email and social media accounts. He waited patiently until they were all done arriving before he began attending to them. One by one, he knocked them off and finally concentrated on his text messages. The first he saw was from Umi.
Apparently, you didn’t hang up and I heard everything you discussed with your friend. We need to talk. Call me when you get this.
“Fuck!” he muttered. And his stupid phone fell to the floor.
“Maybe you should come to church with me next time, Aunty Umi. It was fun today.”
Umi stared at her niece with a smile as they both pushed through a crowd of worshippers exiting Umi’s favorite church. She had a good number of churches she attended but she loved this one most because it allowed her get lost in the crowd. Quincy accused the church of being bourgeois and filled with snubs but Umi didn’t mind. Here, no one was bugging her to attend home fellowships. She could slip in and out unnoticed. Just as she had done today. She hadn’t particularly attended the service. She had only dropped by to pick Zainab, who surprisingly loved church more than candy.
“Mommy always takes me to church. Mommy loves church,” she had told Umi when Umi was dressing her up earlier that morning. “Are you going to come with me?”
Umi shook her head. She was in a sour mood for no reason. She had woken up that way and didn’t know what it was that put her in that disposition. She knew for a fact that it wasn’t what she heard Femi and Wasiu saying over the phone the night before. It was something else.
“Sister Umi!” a male voice coming from within the church called. Umi whirled around sharply. She sucked in some air. Who on earth knew her here?
A man bustled through the crowd and caught up with her and Zainab. Umi looked into his face. He was manageably-handsome with a trim beard. His eyes seemed set to smile on default.
“Good afternoon,” he greeted.
Umi greeted back.
“Don’t you remember me, Sister Umi?”
She shook her head.
“Your first day here…you had walked up to me where I was stationed at the east entrance, and asked me for the ladies.”
“Oh.” Umi recalled the day in question. She had eaten a slobbery bowl of beans porridge prepared by Buzor the night before and paid dearly for it the next morning.
“And you kept going to the ladies constantly,” Smiley Eyes reminded.
Umi had wished she hadn’t given him her name, but she had been so pressed to use the restroom that when he asked her name, she threw it out carelessly.
“I hope you feel better now,” he said and cringed. “That was just stupid. Totally ignore. My name is Ujah, by the way. But people call me Ugee.”
“And who is this pretty princess here?” he asked, smiling down at Zainab. She smiled back. “Your daughter?”
Umi wanted to reply with a ‘yes’ and then add that her husband was outside waiting in the car. But she politely shook her head.
Umi almost rolled her eyes. He was one of those ‘dear’ men. She never understood why a man would call anyone he wasn’t close to ‘dear’ or even more annoying, ‘dearie’.
“Can I have your number, please?” he asked Umi politely.
“Why?” Umi replied. Her question had caught him unawares.
“Well, just to call you and give you updates on church activities. We don’t see you much around here.”
“Maybe I don’t want to be seen much around here.”
Again, he was taken aback. “Okay. It’s all good. So that means I’m not getting your number?”
“No, Ugee. But thanks for asking.”
Umi’s body movement indicated that she would rather be elsewhere. Ugee caught on.
“Alright, then. We’ll say next Sunday?”
“Have a blessed day.”
She tightened her hold on Zainab’s hand and they came out to fresh air. The crowd outside was as much as the one in. Umi knew it would be difficult getting a cab. She wished she had called her cab guy to come pick her up. It was too late to do so.
Shielding her face from the sun, she hurried towards the gate. Maybe she would be lucky to find a cab waiting.
“Aunty Umi, look!” Zainab pointed a little finger at the gate. Face still shielded from the sun, Umi peered.
“What is it?”
“It’s Uncle Femi!” Zainab sounded excited. Umi dropped her hand and sure enough, there stood Femi, outside an SUV, hands in his pockets, eyes behind sunglasses.
“Uncle Femi!” Zainab waved and broke away from Umi. She sprinted towards him.
Umi was surprised at her behavior. Save for that first encounter they had, and the second when he dropped by on their date night to pick Umi, Zainab had not met him again. And there she was, betraying her daughterly love for Buzor in a wink.
Well, it wasn’t she alone who was betraying feelings. Umi felt like she was giving too much of herself to the man.
She watched him take of his sunglasses as Zainab leaped into his arms. He tousled her hair and kissed her cheek before turning an eye at Umi. They held each other’s stare. It was hard for Umi to associate him with the man she had listened to on the phone the night before. How could he have lived such a rough life and associate himself with murder? A murder he wanted so badly to cover up.
“Hi,” Femi greeted, Zainab still in his arms.
“Hi. How did you know I was here?”
“Quincy told me. I drove to your house and met her home alone. She said I’d find you here. That you didn’t go to church but dressed up in church clothes just to go and pick Zainab.”
“Q and her mouth sha.”
“How are you?”
“I was thinking that maybe we could do lunch and talk?”
“Sure.” Umi wanted an explanation for all she heard the night before.
They all got into the car and Femi drove to the nearest eatery. He ordered a malt for himself while Umi and Zainab went for jollof rice and barbecued chicken. Umi barely touched her meal.
“I guess I’m not as hungry as I thought.”
She still held the sour mood. Something was wrong somewhere.
“Maybe we’ll talk after this?” Femi said. The restaurant was crowded and there was no way to distract Zainab. So, instead they chatted about other stuff, mostly listening to Zainab’s tales about her life in the UK.
“You think maybe you should consider reaching out to her father sometime?” Femi said inaudibly when he caught Zainab not paying attention.
“I have no desire to do so.”
“Then what do you intend to do with her if her mom doesn’t return?”
“Enroll her in school come January.”
“What if her father pops up?”
“Then he pops up and we’ll take it from there.”
“Haven’t heard from her mom yet?”
Umi’s tummy churned at the question. “No.”
Femi said no more on the topic. They switched back to talking about other things and this dragged on until they were done with lunch.
Femi drove to Umi’s house. He had readied himself to start giving a long explanation about his discussion with Wasiu last night when Nifesi called.
“Where are you?” she was almost shouting.
“Why are you talking to me like that?” Femi asked, watching Umi bending over to take off her shoes. He couldn’t wait to get his hand on that bum again.
“You told me you wanted to spend the day with Teni but you’re nowhere in your house. Why am I not surprised?”
“Shebi momsi is there?”
“Oya drop her granddaughter for her nau.”
“It was not maami that said she wanted to be with Teni. It was you. Where are you?”
Femi rubbed a hand on his forehead. “Nifesi, do as I told you. I’m on my way home.”
“I’m sure your dick is soaked in some vagina right now.”
He hung up and walked to Umi who was now helping Zainab out of her own shoes.
“Umi, something came up and I have to go home.”
Umi rose up.
“Would you want to come along? I’ll handle business there quickly and we’ll find some place to talk.”
“No. We’ll talk here.”
“I’d love to. It’s just that…”
His phone rang. He stared at it. His mother was calling.
“Give me a moment.” He turned away.
“Femi, where are you?”
“What’s the problem?”
“Teni is here with me. Nifesi brought her. Where are you?”
“Can you please take her home with you? I’m in the middle of something right now and I can’t make it to you guys.”
“I’m not liking what I’m hearing o. Nifesi complained that you don’t spend time with Teni. She’s your daughter, Femi. What type of money are you chasing that you can’t spend time with the child you bore? If this was how I was with you, will you be who you are today?”
Femi grunted silently. He didn’t need this right now.
“I’m with Umi.”
“Oh.” His mother’s tone went lighter. “Why didn’t you say so? Well, since that’s the case, you two should have fun. My driver is on the way. I’ll take my darling along. Just make sure you come and pick her tomorrow. You hear?”
“My love to Umi.”
Love keh. Femi almost laughed. He heard the line click off.
“I’m sorry about that,” he apologized to Umi.
“So, where can we talk in private?”
Umi looked around. Nowhere was ever private in her house. Quincy had this bunch of noisy friends that always visited every Sunday, watched movies, played loud music and finished the food in the house. Two of them particularly enjoyed hitting on Buzor. Umi didn’t want that for Femi.
“Let’s go upstairs.”
She led him up, noting how he trudged carefully as if afraid to break something. They stopped at her bedroom door.
“I must warn. The room is a mess.”
She unlocked the door and they got in. Femi stood, giving the room a raised-eye stare. Save for a couple of clothes on the bed and a bra, everything was shipshape.
“Where’s the mess?”
Umi picked the items on the bed.
She pointed at a couch by one of the windows that seemed to have a thousand pillows on it. As she disappeared into her bathroom, Femi took the couch. He felt an immediate sense of ease. It was like the priceless moment each day when he returned home to comfort. The bedroom told a lot about Umi. Her femininity wasn’t over the top, unlike Nifesi or Becca whose bedrooms were all sparkle and pink. Umi kept hers off-white and simple, with a shade of purple that made you wonder if it was black or blue. Her dressing table was typically girly. On the right side, the wall held planks of polished white wood on which rested her shoes. Most of them were sneakers. On the other side of the dresser stood a large mirror on which one could see the entire bed.
And then the bed… the coziest part of the bedroom. It wasn’t as large as his, and just like the couch, it held many pillows. On one of them had been written the words ‘Better than his chest’. Another, ‘Sweet dreams are made of this’. The bedhead was a collection of wooden planks, arranged horizontally above each other. On each were written short motivational lines. A thick white duvet that had dashes of grey was laid over an all-grey bedding.
Femi longed to dive in just to have a feel. He was a man addicted to comfort.
Umi returned. Gone was the Ankara jumpsuit she had worn to church. She was now clad in a floral dress that made her look like she was about to throw on a straw hat and drive off to the beach.
She sat on the bed. “So, talk. I’m listening, Femi.”
He didn’t know how much she had heard but he felt it was best to start from the scratch. And so, he sat upright and narrated to her, the story of his ghetto days. When he was done, Umi stayed quiet. He felt a little apprehensive. He had never done this with anyone but for some reason he opened up to her. The silence he received was not encouraging.
“Wow,” she murmured. “You had a rough past, Femi.”
“It’s what the cards handed down to me…”
“And here I was, thinking that your dad was some rich European.”
“My dad is Egyptian. And he’s very much alive somewhere but that is gist for another day.”
“You want to drink something?”
“You don’t have to go all the way downstairs…”
Umi stood up and walked to a corner of the room on which a mini fridge was resting. She took out two cans of beer. When she handed one to him, he smiled.
“Unless you’d rather have wine,” she said.
“Just wondering how you know my favorite brand.”
“Stop being a joker. This is all I have in my fridge, and I didn’t buy it for you.”
“Thanks.” He took the drink offered as she went back to the bed.
“So what do we do with Iyabo?” she asked. He had told her, during his lengthy tale, that Iyabo who was under her employ, was the same one blackmailing him. “I am not comfortable with her.”
“Don’t be scared. She’s practically harmless…”
“She’s blackmailing you. I don’t know how that makes me feel. And this is not because I care for you or something. I just don’t like people who do such things. She can turn on me at any time. And you said she knows about us?”
“And I shouldn’t fire her?”
“Not yet. Wasiu and I have a plan for her.”
“This Wasiu person sounds interesting. I’d like to meet him.”
“I’d like to kiss you.”
Umi’s mouth dropped open. “How did that get into the conversation?”
“Just putting it out there.”
“Well, you better put it back.”
Femi’s lips lifted up in a naughty smile, one she already knew well.
“Umi, you and I should have something. I’m not talking about a relationship. But something more than what we have.”
“I don’t understand.”
“We should have sex more often, combined with lunch and dinner dates and the occasional movie. Nothing serious.”
“That sounds like a quasi relationship to me. And I don’t do quasi. I’m either all in or all out.”
Femi dropped his beer can aside and walked to her. He sat beside her. She didn’t move away. She listened to him breathe in the air around her like he was sucking her in. When he breathed out, she felt warmth over her neck.
“Femi, if you want to have sex, just say so.”
“You kill the mood, Umi. You’re so gangsta.”
“I’m not the one who lived in the ghetto.”
Femi reached behind her and touched her bum. With his fore and middle fingers, he hiked her dress up slowly, causing goosebumps on her thigh. When she looked up at him, he took her lips unexpectedly.
The kiss was slow and breathy and lasted a long time. There was no rush from either of them for it to lead anywhere but they eventually moved into the bed. Foreplay, rather than sex seemed to be on Umi’s mind. Femi didn’t push. He followed her lead. Even when she stopped at what appeared like the right moment to go all the way, he simply lay back and pulled her to him.
“You’re such a cock-tease.”
“I’m sorry, I’m just a bit off today. I don’t know if it’s the dull weather or something else.”
“Anyone upset you or something?”
“No. I just…I’ve been this way all morning.”
“Then let me make you feel better?”
“No, Femi. Your dick is not that much of a magic wand.”
“Ouch.” He ran his fingers through her soft curls.
“Just hold me.”
He held her, but not for long. Her door burst in and Buzor followed, stopping when his eyes fell on them.
Umi stirred up slowly.
“Sorry. I thought you were alone.”
“Femi, meet Chibuzor. Chibuzor, Femi.”
Both guys nodded coldly at each other.
“Babe, this is urgent. Let’s talk.”
Umi left the bed and followed Buzor out.
“What’s going on?”
“Take a deep breath.”
He held her shoulders. “Just breathe in and out.”
“Bubu, what’s going on?”
He followed his own instructions by inhaling and exhaling.
“Amra was found in a hotel last night.”
Umi went stiff. “Please, tell me she’s fine, Bubu. Please, tell me my sister is fine.”
“She was unconscious, in bad shape. She’s been taken to the hospital. She’s in a coma.”
“Was she-was she raped? Beaten? What happened to her?”
“She doesn’t have any bruises. Everything looks fine externally but…”
“Oh God!” Umi yelled. “Why, Amra?! Why?! I knew it would end up like this! Why?!”
“Calm down. You don’t want Zainab to hear you. Calm down, Umi.”
Buzor pulled her to his chest as she cried. Femi stepped out.
“What’s going on?”
Buzor fixed a creepy stare on him, saying nothing. From the stairs, Quincy appeared.
“You’ve told her?” she asked Buzor. He nodded.
“Quincy, what’s going on?” Femi asked.
“It’s Amra, Umi’s sister. She was found almost dead in a hotel yesterday. She’s in a coma and they don’t think she’ll make it.”
The words had slipped out of Quincy’s mouth carelessly. Standing behind her was Zainab, fresh out of a nap. Everyone froze, eyes on her. The little girl’s eyes widened.
She took a breath or two and let out an ear-splitting scream.