Sacrilege by Nissi Adeola. Episode 11

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Hello everyone, how is the weekend going? I know you must have hunted this place yesterday, do accept my apologies. Good news is this might be the last time I’d apologize because I’ve found a lasting remedy for the cause of this inconsistency. I hate keeping you hanging as much as you do 😢

That said, please leave your comments and share. Love you all.. 😘😘

Episode 11

Tito pushed open the door of her apartment. Men! She thought in annoyance, they are just stupid womanizing idiots. And to her, Chris topped that list. Of course, he would have a tall, fair Barbie-like hussy in his house, so late at night. No doubt he had another one lined up for tomorrow and every day after that. And to think I was about apologizing for calling a spade a spade… Tito twisted her mouth as she slammed the door. “Laura” she called. Definitely, a little ‘girls time’ would ward off her irritation.

Stepping out of her shoes, she peeped into the kitchen, Laura wasn’t there. “Laura?” She frowned as she found the bathroom empty. Where was Laura? Could she be out for a walk at this time? Or…

Tito’s eyes caught something on the floor and her heart practically stopped. She rushed forward and picked the open diary, clearly horrified. How had she been so careless? She had only been able to read a few pages. Though she despised that Teju girl, the few pages she read forced her to feel a little pity for the girl. ‘But that still doesn’t justify what she did to my cousin’s she had mentally insisted at the time.

Now, her eyes scanned the open page that Laura had obviously read, reading the words that seemed to have been scribbled in pain. Every line had her brows creezing in a frown. Unable to take any more, she slammed the diary shut, staring in horror. It is either Tito wasn’t using her eyes properly or Teju was seriously insane for suggesting that she was raped by…

Tito shook her head. No! Teju had to be insane.

*****

Frank Johnson changed the station to a news station with the TV remote, crossing his legs on the centre table. He heard the door behind him open without moving a muscle. His eyes remained glued to the TV as Gloria walked in. Gloria stood poised for a few seconds staring at her husband’s back. “I’m sorry I took so long” she quickly muttered as she marched forward.

“You sure took your time.”

Gloria took a deep breath as she came in front of her husband, giving him a small apologetic smile. “I’m so sorry, there were too many customers at the shop today; I couldn’t get here any faster.” she lied.

“I can imagine” Frank said, not for once taking his eyes off the TV screen.

Gloria shifted uncomfortably. “I’m sorry.” She sat on the armrest of the chair, giving her husband a kiss on the cheek and a head rub. He always loved that, it was a tool she always used that often won her his forgiveness. “Have you eaten?” she mouthed, caressing his head in small circular massages. “I’d fix you something really nice now” she said without waiting for his answer, kissed his cheek and stood, heading straight for the kitchen.

“How is she?”

Gloria’s feet pulled to a halt halfway through. Her heart raced as she stood still, counting the seconds in her head before turning back to stare at her husband. The TV still had his attention. “How is who?”

Frank finally turned to her, giving her an ironic look. “You really think you can fool me? I know you haven’t been in your shop all day and there is only one person who can make you lie to me”

Gloria swallowed as she backtracked towards her husband. Her face held remorse. “I’m sorry, honey. I… I couldn’t help it.”

Frank turned his face away from her and Gloria took a deep breath, going on her knees before him. “Darling… You know me, right? I can’t keep calm when someone I care about is in pain. I know you are at odds with Laura now but now is the time she needs all the love she can get.”

Frank nodded. “You’d go against me, your husband, for a girl who clearly doesn’t have any regard for me or you for that matter.”

Gloria smiled softly. “Love is unconditional” she answered. “She might act nonchalant but I know what’s in her heart. I also do it all for you. I know you claim not to care now but the truth is you do care. A father cannot completely close his eyes to his daughter’s pain”

Frank stared at her for a while then averted his gaze. He blinked as silence reigned for a while. “How is she?”

Gloria felt a small thrill within her. Initially, she had thought the question was just to taunt her, but seeing that Frank was letting his guard down by showing that he still cared about his daughter, Gloria felt a small sense of fulfillment, like she had just won a contest. She stood and sat beside Frank, leaning against him slightly. “She is devastated” she said, her face registering sadness as she remembered all that had happened during the day. It had been so heartbreaking to see her stepdaughter in such a dejected state. Laura had always been a spirited young woman, always bubbling with life and vigor. She was an emotional being and always followed her heart, obviously why she was so pained by her husband’s betrayal. “She seems to have lost her fire”

Frank’s lips thinned as his body tensed. “That bastard” his spat out through clenched teeth. “If only she had listened…”

Gloria exhaled. “She was in love, Frank, you can hardly blame people where their heart is concerned.”

“Oh well, see where her heart has led her to” he boomed angrily, pushing out of the chair and going to look out the window. “The heart is to be led, not followed”

Gloria sighed, standing also and moving to her husband. She wrapped her hands around him from behind, resting her head on his back. “You should see her, honey” she whispered. “I’m sure she would be very happy to see you” Frank grunted. Gloria smiled into his back, giving his chest a playful caress. “You can’t deny you want to see her too”

Frank remained silent for a moment. “Where is she?” he finally asked. Gloria exhaled, feeling as satisfied as though she had just been handed a contract worth millions.

Looking up into her husband’s eye, she grinned. “I thought you’d never ask.”

*****

Deolu’s canvassed feet hit the ground in rhythmic thuds as he jugged along the darkened street. Sweat trickled down his back, making a wet patch on his clingy top. Sweat glistened on his face as he jugged along, pushing himself beyond his limit. His heart raced along with his foot as his mind took a slow trek along the panes of his problems.

Deolu had never felt as lonely as he had been feeling for the past few days. It was like he was suddenly plunged into a different planet to face the darkness of solitude all alone. He had always loved his space but now, he felt utterly and completely alone. No one was ready to give him a listening ear. No one was ready to understand or even forgive him. But who was he to complain when he had created this mess himself.

The two women he cared about the most, he had hurt the most. Laura was the one person who held his heart, the one person he could tell his deepest secrets to. She was the person who could be three people at once – his mother, friend and lover all at the same time, but with one stupid act, he had killed all three personalities, creating a new one which was a complete stranger to him. But she wasn’t the only person he had hurt. He had hurt Teju too. He had hurt her beyond measure. For someone who had gone through a lot, he shouldn’t have given her such an irrevocable burden. He had been begging Laura for forgiveness. His phone’s inbox was filled with delivered and undelivered messages sent to Laura and even one he sent to Teju after she left the house the previous day. He knew he should give Laura space, she definitely needed some peace and quiet to process all that happened. But he was scared that every day that passed drew her farther and farther away from him. He feared that even when Laura and Teju found it in their hearts to forgive him, he would still be unable to do the most important thing which is to forgive himself.

Unable to push his numb feet for much longer, Deolu slowed, dropping his pace gradually until he started walking again, his heart still skipping from the effect of the jug. His feet, light from jugging, moved of their own accord as he mopped his face with a small towel. People were scanty on the dark street as many people had retired to their respective homes. He walked along as his heart slowed, willing the semblance of peace to wash away his anxieties. He had always loved the dark, always felt calm with the lights out, a direct opposite of Laura who was scared of the dark. A year into the marriage, he would always wait for her to fall asleep before turning off the lights, he remembered with a smile. She couldn’t sleep with the lights off and he couldn’t sleep with the lights on. They had seemed like an unbalanced equation at first, but gradually, they began to adjust. Both wanting the convenience of the other, they had learnt to sleep with or without light until they discovered the adjustable lighting.

With Laura, Deolu had learnt the true definition of love. He had learnt to understand that although love was a feeling that comes from within, love was also a choice. Because there had been times when frustration was practically draining out the love in his home but together, they had held strong, choosing to love each other despite the odds.

Deolu came to a halt in front of a moderately large school. The interesting play of colours on the swings and slides of the playground caught his attention. He could try to avoid it but the fact was that he was about to be a father. However odd the circumstances were, it wouldn’t change the fact that a child would be calling him daddy in a few months. This brought mixed feelings. How were they going to manage the situation so it wouldn’t affect the child? Would Laura accept his child with Teju especially when she had none of her own? Deolu exhaled, running his hands over his head.

“Night jugging?”

Deolu turned his head in the direction of the voice. An aged man, probably in his late fifties walked out of the school towards him, holding a torch. His slightly protruding belly was well rounded. “One’s got to keep in shape.” Deolu answered as the man drew near.

The man shrugged. “I’ve always found it to be a waste of strength and energy. I mean, why jug when all you end up with are aching thighs and a sweaty body?”

Deolu chuckled slightly, probably for the first time in almost two weeks. “No pain, no gain is the theory” he answered. The man smiled back, coming to stand beside Deolu. With the uniform, Deolu could tell he was a security man.

The man nodded, smiling. “It’s a good night to be out jugging though, it is a beautiful one” Deolu wasn’t sure he agreed with that. Every night without Laura couldn’t be beautiful. “You plan on bringing your child here?” he asked, nodding at the school which had Deolu’s attention some seconds back. “It’s a good school”

Deolu felt his heart skip. “No child yet.”

“Oh” was all the man said. Deolu turned to the street, feeling an invisible weight on his shoulders at the thought of going back home to his empty house. “Wife’s not home?” Deolu’s eyes snapped to the aged man who merely nodded at his ring finger. “I don’t think you would be out at this time if she were home.”

Deolu swallowed. “She’s not home.”

The man stared at Deolu who had his gaze fixed on the street. He noted the pain in his eyes as he spoke and knew from experience what that expression meant. “Have you apologized?”

Deolu looked at him, puzzled. “Why do you think I need to?” he asked, frowning at the man. He didn’t like the direction of the discussion.

The man laughed gently. “Some things come with age, son. I can recognize guilt when I see it, especially since I had to deal with it myself at a point in my life.” Deolu swallowed, looking away. “Want to tell me what you did?” Deolu looked at him. “I’ve been told I have a good listening ear”

Deolu stared at the kind smiling face of the man. It was the most conversation he has had in days, and definitely the weirdest. Chris, for some reasons have decided to avoid him just when he needed a friend. Though he knew he was guilty, he really needed a friend now. But no friend was there. Now, here was a man, a stranger, definitely old enough to be his father, who was interested in listening to him… He shook his head at the irony. “I’m sure you have two, sir” he said, smiling at the man.

The man grinned. “Want to test run them?”

The man had such a honest look on his face that suddenly, Deolu wanted to tell him everything. It didn’t matter that he was just meeting him for the first time, Deolu just wanted to be heard. He sighed. “I drove away my happiness and invited sadness into my life, that’s what I did” he mouthed, staring at the street, seeing nothing but his shattered life. “It is like I knowingly walked into a quicksand with no way of getting out” the old man kept quiet, waiting. When Deolu said nothing, he spoke.

“You are still talking in riddles.”

Deolu swallowed. “I broke our wedding vows” Deolu said bitterly, sinking his hands into his pockets. “I brought pain into the lives of two women I love so much.” Deolu turned to give the man an earnest look. “Tell me sir, how do I build back a home I demolished with my own hands?”

“With the same vigor with which you built it at first” the man answered after a brief pause. Placing a gentle hand on Deolu’s shoulder, he said with all seriousness. “Listen son, mistakes are bound to happen but what you do afterwards is what matters. You have to stop beating yourself up over this, it is not going to solve anything. Remorse is good, but you have to accept what you’ve done it you are ever going to make amends.” he said. “When you trip and fall, you don’t stay on the ground, chastising yourself, no! You pull yourself back up and dust off the dirt”

“But there would still be some dust that just won’t go away”

The man smiled. “Not if you have a good soap to wash it clean.” Deolu took a deep breath. “Listen son. You destroyed your marriage, it is up to you to build it back again. It would be harder, there would be so much you have to contend with, but just like in construction. The harder the ground, the stronger the house.” Deolu swallowed. “You have the manual, son. The building plans are with you. No one knows your wife more than you. Woo her again, rekindle the spark,” he nodded, “it would be hard, anyone that says you’d have it easy is dishing you fables. You’d face serious trust issues but if you pull through successfully, chances are your family would be stronger than before.” the man turned and took a step away from Deolu as though he was about leaving. “But son, you would need a good engineer to oversee and pilot this reconstruction” he smiled. “Go to God, with Him, you can’t go wrong”

Deolu stared at the man, as the words resonated in his heart. His curiosity piqued, he frowned. “I never got your name sir”

The man smiled. “Mr Ola.” he answered shortly. “I have to get back”

Deolu nodded. He had just found a friend. “Thank you sir” and he was indeed grateful. “Can I see you here, next time?”

Mr Ola smiled. “I’d be here, whenever you need me” with that, he walked away.

*****

Laura stared at the moderately sized house before her, remembering the last time she walked out of it like she remembered her own name. she had thought it was the last time she would be stepping foot here, but here she was, standing with clenched fists at the entrance of the same house that sent her out.

Raising her hand, she banged on the door. Without waiting, she banged again, feeling the door shake. Her anger boiled in her like a pot of boiling water, threatening to spill over. “The door was yanked open and she came face to face with Gloria. “Laura! What are you doing here? Is something wrong?” she gasped out.

Laura pushed past her into the house. “Where is your husband?” Laura demanded as she walked into the familiar sitting room where she had spent most of her growing years. Swallowing, her eyes searched. “Where is he?” she bellowed.

A door opened and a familiar face walked out, towards the sitting room. She had seen the exact face and shape just hours ago but everything in her knew she hadn’t seen this particular person in years. It had been years, more than six years since Laura last saw her father. She had anticipated this reunion but it never occurred to her that it would be under this awkward circumstance.

Laura watched as he took unhurried steps towards the sitting area. He had the exact look of Tito’s father, but Laura would always be able to differentiate the two identical brothers. Maybe it was the constant cold look that never seemed to leave her father’s eyes, or the insincere smile that hung to his mouth as he stared at her now. “Finally, the prodigal daughter is back”he finally said into the silence.

“I am not your daughter” Laura snarled at her father with utmost disgust as he sat on the couch. “How could you? How could you do that to Teju?”

Mr Johnson frowned. “Who is Teju?”

“What’s going on, Laura?” Gloria asked, looking confused.

“So you don’t know Teju now, right?” Laura yelled. “You don’t know the name of the woman you raped?”

Silence greeted the words as two stunned faces stared back at Laura. “Raped?” Gloria gasped, coming to stand in front of Laura. Her face looked pale. “What are you saying?” her pale face turned to her husband. “What is she talking about?”

Mr Johnson looked completely bumused and Laura pushed her hand furiously into the pocket of her jean, removing her phone. She had snapped the page on the diary before leaving Tito’s place, knowing this might happen. Of course, he would deny it, she thought angrily. Opening the picture, she gave it to Gloria who took it with shaky fingers. Silence reigned as Gloria stared at the phone, her face registering horror. “So, ‘daddy’, Laura called. “Can you please explain that?”

Gloria stared at her husband in horror. “Give me that” he said, grabbing the phone from her hand. He stared at the words, his expression not flickering for a second.

“Teju wrote that she was raped by a 57 years old Mr Johnson and as much as i know there are probably thousands of 57 years old Mr Johnson’s out there, I only find it funny that my father happened to be one of them?” Laura ranted, pacing slightly. She came to a halt as her father pushed to his feet. “Why did you do it, dad? Are you also responsible for that pregnancy she is carrying?” Laura couldn’t wrap her head around it all. If her father raped Teju, going by the date, he could be responsible for the pregnancy. But if that’s the case, how come Deolu was claiming responsibility?

Mr Johnson gave Laura a firm stare. “I can see you are very quick to make me into a monster” he mouthed. “But I repeat, I don’t know any Teju”

Laura laughed. “Of course, you don’t” how convenient.

“You seem to forget that I’m not the only 57 years old Mr Johnson in your life. Why don’t you ask the other”

Laura froze as her father’s words drifted in the air. Gloria stood poised in confusion. “My uncle?” she laughed weirdly. “Of course not. He can never do a thing like that”

“Can’t he?” Frank raised his brow. “Why don’t you ask him?” Laura frowned in confusion. “Isn’t it odd that your uncle went on a trip a month after the date on this?” he gestured with the phone still in his hand.

“He was on a business trip” Laura said, frowning.

“Was he?” Frank smiled.

Laura shook her head. She would not let her father put insane thoughts in her head. Her uncle has been the fatherly figure she has had. Not just a father but a friend. He was her idea of perfection. He would never do this. Mark Johnson would never do this!

Frank sat, picking the TV remote. “Why not ask him. I wouldn’t be surprised, it’s not his first time.” he glanced at Laura’s pale face with a smile. “The devil was once an angel, Laura. Remember that”

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Sacrilege by Nissi Adeola. Episode 10

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Good evening lovelies… hope you had a great day. Enjoy the rest of your day with this episode, guys… Love you all.

wp-image-133497669Episode 10

Laura realized that the walk had served the purpose her uncle intended. At first, she was irritated. She didn’t know why her uncle was walking so briskly when they were supposed to be taking a walk together, not him walking ahead while she pretty much ran after him. But after several minutes of playing the chase, Laura felt her blood flowing again for the first time in days. She was alive again, though she wished she wasn’t. Her uncle slowed down his gait, his strides dropping to match hers.

They walked together in silence for few minutes, both dwelling in their thoughts until her uncle finally spoke. “Let me guess, you are happy you left your bed”

Laura glanced at her uncle briefly. “Happiness overstretches it.” Right now, happiness was pretty much an unfamiliar emotion. She did feel better though but she couldn’t bring herself to vocalize it. Nothing could bring her succor in this miserable state she found herself. “You shouldn’t have cut short your stay in Belgium for me”.

“But you are glad I did”

Laura glanced up to see her uncle’s smiling face and her face broke into a smile of its own for the first time in days. She would always be happy to see her uncle. He was the only fatherly figure he knew right now.

“How do you feel now, Laura?” Mark asked after a few seconds of silence.

Laura’s face released a dry smile. “You want a comprehensive list?”

“You are being too hard on yourself” Mark said shortly.

Laura turned her eyes on him sharply, nearly pulling her feet to a halt. “Too hard? Father, do you know just how I feel right now?”

“I know you have a list”

“I feel useless” she snapped, not worrying anymore that her tone might be disrespectful. “I feel worthless, I feel pathetic, I feel stupid, I feel… like a…” she turned her face away, sternly holding back the tears that hung desperately to her lids.”…like a barren woman” she finished.

Mark Johnson pulled to a halt, turning to face his niece with a stern look on his face. He already knew this was coming. “Don’t you ever think that, you hear me?”

“But it’s the truth”

“It’s not”

“It is! It’s the only truth in the midst of all these lies. I’ve been with Deolu for six years! Six years and I’ve never been pregnant, not ever” Laura said heatedly, her eyes teary. “But Teju…” she turned away from her uncle, biting hard on her lips to stop the onslaught of tears.” Deolu slept with her and now… and now…” she groped around but could not bring herself to voice the obvious. “Gosh! I’m such an idiot”

“You’re being too hard on yourself, Laura” he repeated.

“Not hard enough, father. I’ve been such an idiot, such a blind conceited fool. Tito warned me about this!” she said angrily, laughing without mirth. “Apparently, everyone with eyes knew something was going on with my dearest husband and his famous best friend except me” she twisted her mouth bitterly. “While I was there playing the doting wife, my husband was busy… busy… arrrrhhh” she groaned in abject frustration.

Mark exhaled. “I don’t think it went on for a long time”

“Don’t tell me you are defending him now, father”

“I’m not” Mark was lost on how to handle this situation. “What I mean is, this must have been a mistake. We don’t know how it happened”

“I don’t care about how it happened” Laura snapped, throwing her hands in the air and leaving them to fall back to her side carelessly. “I’d much rather do without the details, honestly. How am I to stomach the fact that Deolu is about to have a child and it is not from me? Ehn? How can I?” Laura took a deep breath and shook her head. “I can’t bear this… I just can’t” tears clouded her eyes and spilled over. “I love Deolu so much, father, so much… I can’t believe he’d do this to me”

Mark was silent for some seconds. “He is not perfect, sweetie. I know you love him but you have to realize that he is also not above mistakes. Sometimes, the people we love the most are the people we hurt the most”

Laura shook her head, pushing her legs into motion, walking off the tension and forcing her uncle to keep up with her. “Mistakes are costly. I don’t know how we would get past this” she swallowed, toying unconsciously with the ring on her fourth finger. “I don’t think we can” Mark remained silent as Laura stared at her ring with watery eyes. “I… I asked for a divorce”

“You didn’t” he pulled to a halt, turning his niece to face him.

“What else would you have me do? Stay married to him and remain a laughing stock?”

“So you want to throw in the towel and let some other woman have your man? You won’t fight for your home?”

“The ‘other woman’ is having his baby, for Pete’s sake” Laura exclaimed. “What’s left to fight for?”

“Is that why you married Deolu? Just to bear his children?” Mark snapped. He seemed to be done with the sweet talks, he needed to put some sense into his niece. “If that’s the only reason why you got married to your husband, you might as well get an annulment instantly because another woman already beat you to it”

The words settled on Laura and she swallowed, looking away. “That’s harsh”

“Not harsh enough. I know you are hurt and all that, you should be; but you need to put aside your pain and fight for your home. Marriage is not all about having babies, Laura, and I know you know this. You and Deolu are a lot more than husband and wife, you are friends… companions”

Laura swallowed. “I am not so sure anymore”

Mark sighed, putting his arm around Laura. “I know this is really hard for you dear, anyone would be devastated in your shoes; but you made a promise on the altar to stand by your husband for better and for worse. This is the time to fight for your home, girl. Don’t give up what’s yours for another. Show me that fighting spirit I know you have in you. It is not going to be easy but you have to try”. Laura blinked back tears. Why did it all have to be so difficult?

*****

Tricia stood outside Chris’ apartment, looking around in search as she held her phone to her ear. “I can’t find it” she said into the phone.

“It’s in the place where the carpet grass joins the cemented floor. The grass is a bit loose there, lift it” Mrs. Anayo explained over the phone.

Tricia surveyed the carpet grass with her hand, testing and lifting till she found her price. “Seen it” she exclaimed, smiling at the key as she stretched and walked to the door.

“Good” Mrs. Anayo’s voice held a smile. “Now, don’t forget what I told you. Show him that you are wife material”

Tricia pushed the key into the lock, squeezed and the door snapped open. “Okay, ma, I understand” she said and hung up. With a smile, she pushed into Chris’ apartment, closing the door behind her. It was good to be back in the country, but better knowing she had an intended. She had never been a fan of family setups, but this was definitely the one setup she couldn’t refuse. Who wouldn’t want to be married to Chris? He was everything a woman wanted and more. Tricia saw a small picture frame of Chris on the wall and walked towards it. Chris was the perfect man, with exceptional looks, body build and height. Of course, who could also overlook his financial stability? Chris, to Tricia was the real deal.

Dropping her purse on the chair, she took a quick inventory of the state of the mini flat. “Neat” this must be a first because she hadn’t really been with a man who kept his space so tidy. Everything was in place, without a speck of dust. Tricia grinned. She seemed to have hit the jackpot. She already had the love of her in-laws; all that was left was the heart of Chris. Motivated, she marched into the kitchen. If she wanted to work her way into Chris’ heart, she needed more than her outstanding beauty and shapely body, she had to match up to his level of perfection.

As she entered the kitchen, a small frown stained her pretty face. The kitchen was well set. He had everything, from microwave to freezer to oven and so on. The perfection was scary. “Ready made man” she muttered with a satisfied smile. She couldn’t believe her luck. Marching forward with extra gusto, she racked her brain for what to cook. She pushed open the freezer and frowned deeply. “You’re kidding” she muttered into the stocked freezer, opening lids to see boiled meat, rice sauce and several things she could not even identify. She closed the freezer and went to the pot seated on the gas cooker, removing the lid. The aroma of well-cooked fried rice rose to her nose and her mouth watered, looking at the well garnished fried rice in the pot. “Perfect! So he is a great cook”. What on earth was she expected to do here? Everything was in place.

Dialing the first number on the call log, she moved a bit of the rice onto a plate and took it to the microwave. Tricia held her phone to her ear with her shoulder, taking out a tempting carrot from the food before putting the plate inside the microwave. “Handsome, buoyant, neat and cooks… no wonder he is not married” she muttered to herself, wondering what else Chris had up his sleeves as the phone rang.

“How is it going?” Mrs. Anayo’s voice penetrated her ear through the phone.

“Bad. You did not tell me he cooks, ma” or was another woman taking care of his meals?

“Oh… yes, a little”

“Little?” Tricia exclaimed. “The person living here has got to be a little less than a chef. How do I convince Chris to marry me when he has everything I could possibly offer him?” the microwave beeped and she took out a steaming plate of fried rice.

“You are a woman, aren’t you?” Mrs. Anayo voiced over the phone. “I’m sure you can think of something. Now, stop talking to me and get creative” the phone went dead and Tricia held it, staring at it in vague surprise. She knew what her future mother-in-law was suggesting and felt a tiny thrill within her. Poking a spoonful of rice into her mouth, she walked out of the kitchen, her mind working on a very good plan.

*****

Tito put her phone on hands free as she controlled the wheel with both hands. “I don’t need your battering now, Cat” And she really didn’t need it, she was doing enough self-battering already.

“You need it because I feel you are about to do something stupid. You always are” Cat said and for once, Tito couldn’t argue with that. “It is better you make amends now before you have the police on your ass for breaking and entering.”

Tito rolled her eyes. “I am more likely to be arrested by road safety officials now, since I am breaking traffic laws by talking to you”

Catherine’s sigh filled the car. “For once, use your head, or at least, listen to me. I don’t want to visit your pretty face behind bars. Return those things you took, Tito!”

“It would be ‘our’ pretty faces behind bars” Tito inserted. “And stop talking like you are just so worried about me, the truth is you are just so scared of being affected.”

“Shouldn’t I be? Both of us can’t be brain-dead, I have my career to protect”

“A good reason to join self-employed persons like myself, you would have more peace in your life” Tito maneuvered, turning into a street.

“The only thing I see you doing is messing up Laura’s already messy life. Really, Tito, you are only making things worse”

“To me, that’s better than doing nothing” Tito snapped. “Now, would you stop pestering me? Reduce the mess in your hospital by actually saving some lives” she advised and hung up.

Shaking her head, she took a deep breath, holding the steering tighter than was required. Catherine had been right about something… she was about to do something stupid. Stupidity was what got her behind the wheels this evening in the first place. What was more stupid was justifying her stupidity. Her eyes caught Chris’ suit jacket as it sat occupying the seat next to her. Somehow, the jacket had Chris’ defiance and arrogance clinging to it. She shook her head as her lips thinned. I would just return it and leave, she told herself again. She couldn’t stand the sight of that jacket anymore and that was her glorified excuse for leaving her apartment and driving to his house this late evening. It was already dark and she could sense the wind had turned cooler outside the car. The scent of Chris’ perfume rose from the jacket to her nose, making her frown. She turned off her air conditioner and rolled down her window. Fresh air penetrated the car, blowing the tresses of her relaxed hair into disarray.

She never should have talked to Chris the way she did. She felt bad about it but wouldn’t admit it to herself. She had over-reacted for nothing and she still couldn’t explain her outburst. Taking in a calming breath, she thought. ‘I’d just give him his jacket and be done with it.’

*****

Chris parked his car in the compound after another day at work. He had been on the edge throughout the day and he knew it was solely because of his odd encounter with Tito. He still couldn’t tell what he had ever done to her to make her so defensive around him. Her words haunted him and he wondered if her perception of him was also what the people around him thought of him.

Mentally shaking off her words, he got out of the car and made for his apartment. His head ached. He could use a long bath and a deep sleep. He had been avoiding Deolu for days and a part of him felt guilty. Inserting the key into its hole, he unlocked the door and entered his apartment, heading straight for his bedroom.

Just as he entered the room, a shrill feminine voice broke out. “Hello honey”

Chris literarily jumped out of his skin, spinning around just as slim hands enveloped him in a sensual hug. He felt frozen for a few seconds as feminine perfume invaded his air space.

“Uhmm… It’s so good to see you again” the lady pulled back her head, grinning up at him like he was the king of the universe.

Chris put both of his hands on her shoulders, pulling her away from him with one gentle but steady push. He held her at arm’s length, staring at her face in confusion. “Who are you?” And how the hell did you get in here?

She grinned. “I knew you wouldn’t recognize me. It’s Tricia”

“Tricia” He repeated vaguely, and then all of a sudden, it all came to him. He felt sandwiched between anger and awe. The lady before him was nothing compared to the little girl he had always seen with his father’s friend while growing up. From the dimple in her right cheek when she as much as smiled to the fascinating way the sleeveless top and bum short clung to her shapely body, he mentally nodded. His father was right; she had drown to be a real beauty. But that was where his awe ended. He sorely hated invasion of privacy and that was exactly what this felt like.

“I see you remember me now” she said with a smile.

Chris stared coldly at her. “What I don’t remember is inviting you here. How did you get in?”

Tricia had the grace to look guilty. “Your… mother told me where to find your spare”

Great! Just when he had hoped his parents weren’t taking the marriage thing serious, they actually were. He heard a knock on the sitting room door and frowned. He just had too many surprises lined up for him today. “Stay here” he ordered, marching out of the bedroom. On getting there, he pulled open the door.

“Tito” he mouthed in surprise. If he had a thousand guesses, he surely would not have guessed Tito. He stared at Laura’s cousin with a faint frown on his face. Her hair was down, falling over her shoulders. He didn’t think he had ever seen her hair that way. “What are you doing here?”

Tito stared up at him. “I figured you might want this back” she gestured with the suit jacket in her hand. Chris frowned at the jacket in her hand.

“You came all the way here to return it?”

Tito blinked. “Of course not. I just… I was coming to get something around and decided to bring it with me” she lied.

“Of course”

Tito swallowed. She knew Chris saw through her lie and felt embarrassment creep up her spine. Way to go, Tito, you never should have brought the jacket back. Chris stared at Tito. For the life of him, she was one person he just could not figure out. “Thank you” Chris muttered as he took the jacket from Tito. Something was different. This had to be the first time they were holding a civil conversation without any tangible form of hostility. “Why don’t you come in?”

Tito shook her head. “I should be going”

His brow raised as his mouth eased into a slow smile. “Scared I’d break your heart too?”

Tito shifted. “About last night…” she started to apologize.

“Is there a problem here?” Tricia’s voice penetrated the air and Chris turned sharply. He had actually forgotten all about Tricia. Tito stared into the apartment as Tricia appeared. Anger welled up in her as she stared from the perfect beauty to Chris as Tricia came to stand beside Chris, staking her claim with a cool smile. She couldn’t believe she had actually been about to apologize.

“No… no problem.” She said, glaring at the Chris. “I was just leaving” she smiled at the two. “Enjoy your evening” she said and stalked away.

*****

Laura paced Tito’s apartment, deep in thought. Tito wasn’t around to keep her mind occupied and right now, she could use the distraction. The words of her uncle drifted around her head and though it hurt, she knew he was right. She loved Deolu and knew it would hurt her more to leave him. How could she live life without the one person who could bring a smile to her face even in the worst situation? He was her happiness; it was only ironic that he was also her sadness. She swallowed. Could she forgive him? Forgo the pain and build her marriage again, knowing it would not be the same again? Could she trust him again after this?

Laura took a deep breath, massaging her aching shoulders. She needed a mental diversion. If only she had one of her novels with her now… looking around, she saw a book and walked lazily towards it. She picked it up, turning it around, giving it an absent look. Vaguely, she remembered seeing it with Tito that morning as she stepped out with her uncle.

She opened it in half, frowning when she saw that the content was handwritten. A diary? She checked the cover, no words. She then opened the first page and saw the words boldly written. “Dear Pain” Laura frowned deeply but her heart nearly stopped when she saw the inscribed name. “Teju Jumoni” For a few seconds, she stared at the name. What was Teju’s diary doing there?

She opened the diary with shaky fingers and a racing heart, skipping several pages until she got to a dated page which drew her attention. Warning bells went off in her head. Something told her she would find something very unpleasant but she couldn’t stop her eyes from scanning the pages of the diary. Her eyes rotated from corner to corner, becoming more frenzied as her breath came in gasps. “No…” she shook her head, dropping the diary in her hand like it had suddenly caught fire. “He didn’t rape her, no…” she exclaimed, staring at the diary in horror.

Sacrilege.

Sacrilege by Nissi Adeola. Episode 9

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It’s been two weeks guys, I’ve missed you all. Thanks for your patience and understanding, I really appreciate it. Now, please show me some love by dropping your comments and sharing this with others. I look forward to your comments as you look forward to my posts, so please keep them coming. Love you all.

Episode 9

Chris hung his suit jacket around Laura’s shoulders as they left the bar in silence. He wasn’t a fan of suits, left to him, he would rather wear casuals to work on a daily basis, but now, seeing his jacket hugging Laura’s body closely, he might just order an entire boutique of suits. The noise of the bar accompanied them to the roadside where Chris’ car sat awaiting them. Chris pushed open the passenger’s door for Laura and she got in. Quick steps took him to his side as he got behind the wheels and set the car in motion.

Away from the bar, silence enveloped the car and Chris cast several glances Laura’s way. She looked so lost. He had stopped by on his way from work at the children’s shop to get something fanciful for his niece whose birthday was days away. He hadn’t even found anything appealing when he’d felt Laura’s presence in the shop.

She stared out his car window now, looking about as lively as a tree in the desert. She had barely said a word to him in the bar; all she had done was drink the water he ordered, replying everything he said with silence. “Where are you taking me?”

Chris kept his eyes on the road. “You need to eat”

Laura’s mouth thinned and Chris heard her gentle sigh. “Turns out everyone knows what I need lately.”

Chris glanced at her and opened his mouth to apologize. “I’m being nasty, I know” she cut in. “It’s the only thing I can be today, obviously”.

Chris smiled, keeping his eyes on the road as he shunted into another lane. “You could be nice and eat with me”

“Not a good idea”

He gave her a flirtatious smile. “You are an appetizing sight”

“Not for my husband anymore, obviously”

Chris’ smile faded as he swallowed. He always got his words right, it was probably one of the reasons why he had so many people around him who loved him, but tonight, he seemed to be saying all the wrong things. “You know Deolu does love you”

“Doesn’t love me enough to stay faithful though”. She swallowed, giving the road a pained smile. “Part of me doesn’t blame Deolu. Who could put up with a childless wife?”

“This is not your fault”

She slanted him a look rife with meaning. “Isn’t it?”

Chris took one hand off the steering, stretched it over to give hers a comforting squeeze. “Don’t put this on yourself. You are not responsible for other people’s actions”

“A fine way of excusing your own faults” she countered, removing her hand from his. “The truth is, I am the barren wife who pushed her husband into the arms of his fruitful best friend”

Chris swallowed, glancing at Laura. “Self-pity doesn’t become you, Laura”

“What becomes me, then?” she snapped. “You know…” she laughed bitterly as she shook her head. “My sister said I’d be a great stepmother” she mouthed as she held back the tears that stung her eyes. “Maybe that’s what”

Chris felt his blood run cold. In a thousand years, he didn’t think he could understand Laura’s father and sister. “This is what she wanted, to hurt you. Don’t let her have that”

Laura nodded. “And if she’s right?” Laura looked at Chris with eyes swimming with tears. “What if ‘stepmother’ is the only thing I can be?” her lips shook.

Chris swallowed. His hands ached to hold Laura. He wouldn’t mind having her tears smear his shirt, all he knew was that he didn’t want to see so much pain in her eyes. It was the exact opposite of the lively lady he had known all these years. Even with the heat she faced in marriage, she still maintained a lively exterior. Damn you, Deolu! He swallowed, gripping the wheels hard, lest he give in to the temptation of touching Laura. “I don’t have answers to your questions, but one thing I know is that you are the best mother that any child could ever wish for.” He took his eyes off the road long enough to stare into her eyes. “You are loving, brave and strong, that’s how I know you would pull through this hurricane”

Laura stared at him for a moment longer before turning to the window, staring at the road. “You have too much faith in me”

Chris heard Laura’s words and remembered that he had spoken those same words some days back to Anita in his office. He swallowed, facing the road squarely. “You should eat and I know just the place”. Laura said nothing and he took the silence in affirmative as he drove to the nearest eatery.

******

“Oh no…” Teju stared in open-mouthed horror at the state of her room. Everything was in disarray. Her television was bashed in with the shattered glass scattered all over her tiled floor. Everything was overturned. The mattress was out of the bed frame, the bed spread was in ruins, and even her favorite pillow had its guts spilled all over her mattress. I have been burgled, Teju thought in horror.

She took cautions steps inside as a strange cold overtook her. Tip-toing towards the kitchen, she peeped to be sure no one was hiding inside, waiting to slice her throat in half. She swallowed a small panic sound as she did the same for the bathroom. She had the weird thought that she would find a dead body lying in wake, just like she had seen in movies. But nothing and no one was there that was out of place. Releasing a shaky breath, Teju turned to face the horror of her bedroom. Books and papers littered the floor, an exact opposite of what she knew her room to be. Her room was always anything but scattered. Teju’s brain raced through who could have wrecked such havoc. Her immediate instinct was to rush to her neighbours, question and get a bit of information but her eyes caught something hanging behind her television which made her pause.

Cautiously, Teju walked towards her destroyed television with her heart racing in her chest. Please, not a ransom note, she pleaded internally. The only person she had was her mother; she couldn’t afford any more drama in her messy life, right now. Teju extracted the white piece of paper poking out of the back of the TV and read out the boldly written words.

“I don’t make empty promises” the note read, “I have something of yours, squeal and I’d spill the beans”

Teju’s eyes roamed over the words on the piece of paper as her mind raced. “Oh my God! Tito” she had thought Tito was merely bluffing. How wrong she was. Teju became restless as she paced her disheveled room, her eyes still glued to the piece of paper. She had known Tito wasn’t to be toyed with and had always been wary of Laura’s cousin but no way had her subconscious mind predicted something like this. How on earth did Tito break into her apartment? I have grossly underestimated that snake, Teju thought. “Something of mine… something of mine” Teju chanted as she went about the room, wondering what Tito had taken. Her system was surprisingly intact. She had opened her wardrobe, checking her jewelry box for any missing valuable when something snapped in her brain.

Dropping the paper carelessly on the floor, Teju launched towards her small bedside drawer table, pulling out the first drawer. She extracted the file containing her credentials and there she fixed the puzzle… they were all gone. Her heart slammed as her face registered horror. “Oh my…” She froze. Her heart literarily stopped as her brain went on overdrive. A small sound of panic escaped her mouth as she jerked the drawer completely out of the table. “No no no no no…” she chanted as her feverish fingers perused the content of the drawer in frantic search. “Where is it?” her voice shook as she launched at the other drawer, dumping its content on the floor and scattering them with shaky fingers. Tears came to her eyes as she cast her eyes about. She had thought the note referred to her documents but she couldn’t be more wrong. “No, not my diary, no…” she wailed as she gripped her head.

*****

Tito hid everything she took from Teju’s apartment inside the wardrobe. She didn’t have the time to go over that now; she was worried sick about Laura. It’s so late into the night yet, there was no trace of Laura. She had called Laura’s office and was told she was out of the office, so where on earth was Laura? “This girl would kill me before my time” Tito lamented as she paced the length of her spacious room, trying Laura’s number for the umpteenth time. It was switched off. Damn it all!

Tito paused as a ray of light flashed into the room. A car was coming into the compound. Dear God! Laura would get it from me today. Furious, Tito slipped into her slippers and pushed the door open. On getting outside, she paused. What on earth was Chris doing there? She frowned deeply as Chris got out of his side and hastened around the car. Only then did she see the person occupying the other seat. Laura. And where was her car? Tito stood frozen as she watched Chris open the other door, trying to bring out a sleeping Laura. What on earth was going on?

“You could give me a hand” Chris muttered as he moved Laura into his arms.

Tito frowned as Laura’s small frame snuggled instinctively against Chris’ broad chest. “You look like you’ve got it all covered” she finally said as her legs unlocked, moving towards them. She took out Laura’s purse from the car just as Chris marched towards her apartment, holding Laura firmly against his chest. Tito slammed the door shut, storming after him. “Care to tell me what you are doing with my cousin?”

“Nothing illegal” Chris got to the door and waited for her to open the door. Holding on to the reigns of her patience, Tito brushed past him and pushed open the door. His faint cologne assaulted her nostrils as he pushed into the room, heading straight for the bed like he had all the right in the world. Tito gritted her teeth. It was the second time Chris had stepped into her room and she absolutely hated it.

Leaving the door open, Tito dropped Laura’s purse on the only small couch in the room as Chris lay Laura gently on the mattress, leaning over her to pull the duvet over Laura. Tito stared at the scene before her, rotating her eyes from Chris to Laura and back as Chris finally straightened. “Should have known” she finally said into the silence, giving Chris a long look.

Chris took his eyes off Laura and stared at Tito. She gave him her usual unblinking glare and it occurred to Chris that he had never seen Tito laughing or in a really joyous state. He wondered if she was even capable of that. Distributing his weight evenly between his two feet, he buried his hands in his pockets. “Okay, before you give me the third degree, I was on my way back from work when I came by your cousin” he explained. “She was in a depressed state when I gave her a lift and forced her to eat something. She managed to eat a small chicken pie and dozed off in the car as I drove her here. Is that information enough for you?”

Tito raised her brow, folding her hands beneath her bosom without taking her eyes off Chris. “Where does my car come into this story?”

“The fuel is on red” Chris repeated what Laura had told him. Tito’s penetrating gaze made him feel like he was standing on thin ice. He eyed the open door.

“So…” Tito finally moved, taking a slow trek around the door. “Laura’s marriage hits the rock, she goes off to work in my car and it breaks down, next thing I see is you coming to my apartment with Laura in your arms, how convenient”

Chris frowned. “What are you insinuating?”

“I’m not insinuating anything that isn’t obvious enough” she smiled. “Who can blame Deolu? With friends like you, it is easy to see why he did what he did”

“Friends like me”

“Ladies’ man? Friends who find it convenient to toy with the hearts of gullible women, breaking hearts while keeping theirs unspoiled all in the name of being a player”

Chris frowned. “That’s not me”

“Of course, it is” Tito snapped. “But of course, I don’t expect you to accept it, do I?” She took a deep breath, taking two steps towards Chris as she lowered her voice. “Now, listen to me… Laura has been through enough, your friend has done enough damage as it is. If you know what’s good for you, you would leave my cousin alone”

Tito and Chris stared down each other; neither was ready to back down for the other. It was like two bulls at a pissing contest. Finally, Chris stepped around Tito and stormed out of the apartment. Tito blinked, taking a deep cleansing breath. She turned to look at Laura who slept on the bed and her eyes fell on Chris’ suit jacket still wrapped around Laura’s body. She turned, stalked to the door and slammed it shut.

*****
Laura popped open her eyes, staring at the white ceiling of Tito’s room. The light streaming in from the window told her she had slept late into the day. Tito was nowhere in sight but the tantalizing scent of a familiar soup assaulted her senses, making her turn in the direction of the kitchen. Through the window, Laura saw the shape of someone standing outside and guessed it to be Tito, but she could hear movements in the kitchen.

A familiar figure emerged from Tito’s kitchen, making Laura’s face widen. Oh great! It had been years since she had seen her stepmother, what a great time to make a re-entrance into her life, Laura thought miserably. It surprised her that her stepmother still looked the same. Impressive height, one that every model would kill for, with a perfectly feminine shape to go with it. Same low cut that accentuated her round face in the most tantalizing way. “Family reappearance! I see that’s what’s in vogue”

“Thank God, you’re awake, Laura” Gloria smiled as she crouched before Laura. “I’ve really missed you”

“It shows” Laura shook her head. “Disobeying the almighty Mr Frank Johnson seems the popular thing to do lately, what are you doing here?”

“I know you are mad at me, and you should, but now is not the time. You should eat”

She rushed into the kitchen and emerged with a tray of piping hot Oha soup and Akpu, dropping it on a stool. “C’mon Rababy, it’s very hot”

She just had to call me that pet name! “I’m not hungry” Laura snapped.

“You must be, look at your state”

Laura scoffed. “Can’t be worse than my state of mind with you around”

Gloria smiled. “I understand you want me to leave but I’m not leaving till you’ve eaten” she sat on the bed, moving the tray of food from the table onto her lap. “At least, try a little, ehn” Gloria pushed. “Heaven helps those who help themselves o”

“And mouth takes what stomach wants, don’t force me, mum”

Being called ‘mum’ by Laura after such a long time pleased Gloria beyond measure but she hid it as she stared at the tray before her. “You don’t want this?” she asked. “Tell me what your stomach wants, I’d get it”

“Yeah? Can you get me a child? My stomach would very much like that”

Gloria sobered.

“You can’t, right?” Laura was so tired of people trying to make things alright. The truth is it would never be. Laura sighed. “Oh stepmother, we are more alike than we thought. Guess what, I’m on my way to being a stepmother” she smiled drily. “I just knew we had a connection. Two stepmothers in one family, isn’t it amazing?”

The door busted open. “Okay, enough of this crap”

Laura’s eyes snapped up and her head literarily went off the pillow. It wasn’t as much the sound of the door but the voice of the speaker. Mr Johnson charged into the room like an army general, looking like the no-nonsense man he occasionally was when he wanted to put things straight. Laura was momentarily frozen in shock as she stared at the man who suddenly dominated the room. “Father?”

Gloria blinked. It wasn’t everytime she got to see her husband’s twin – Mark Johnson. The resemblance was scary, and if not for the voice difference, Gloria wasn’t sure she could differentiate the two brothers.

“Mark” she mouthed. “Didn’t know you were back in the country”

Mark Johnson glanced at her. “Tito was smart enough to tell me my house was on fire.” he responded, giving Laura a significant look. “You’d better be there when I see Frank, I just might kill him if we are left alone for a minute”

Mark Johnson faced his niece, his face taking on a serious look. “Alright young woman, enough of this self pity, get out of bed; we are going for a walk”

Laura caught Tito’s look of concern from the door as she turned away, tucking the pillow firmly beneath her head. “I don’t want to” she murmured.

“Woman, you look at me when I talk to you” Mark boomed.

Laura felt frustration welling up within her as she turned back to face her uncle reluctantly. Why was life so unfair? Why couldn’t she be left alone to wallow in her misery? She deserved that much after all the misfortunes that were befalling her. But she wouldn’t dare defy her godfather. As playful and loving as he was, there isn’t anyone born who could defy him in the face of his anger.

“I wasn’t asking, I am ordering. Now, get your behind out of that bed and meet me outside in five minutes or by God I’d come back in here and drag you out of this bed by the hair”.

Laura watched her uncle sweep out of the room, knowing from experience that he would do exactly what he said and more, if she didn’t do his bidding.

“You should… he doesn’t look like he’d accept no, besides, the walk would be good for you” her stepmother botted in.

Laura closed her eyes briefly and opened them, pushing sluggishly out of bed. Her body complained. She wasn’t accustomed to staying in bed for so long.

“Do you think I could be lucky and not meet you here when I return?”

Gloria appeared to give it a thought. “I don’t think so” she said, smiling.

Laura walked into the bathroom and rinsed her face. Staring at the image in the mirror, Laura didn’t look like herself. Great! Her face made a perfect show of how she was feeling – wretched.

Sighing deeply, she walked out. Without waiting for her, Mark Johnson eased into motion, marching out of the house. What the heck? She didn’t need this now. Of all the people Tito could summon to torture her, it had to be her godfather? Laura glared at Tito as she walked. Tito appeared to be reading something. “Thanks” she snapped.

Tito smiled. “You’re welcome”

“Keep up, girl” Mr Johnson boomed as he stalked down the street like a soldier.

The wind slapped at Laura’s face as she hastened up to meet her uncle.

*****

Teju entered the small restaurant and adjusted the shawl around her face. She cast a glance around, relaxing when she found no familiar face. Hastily, she walked towards a secluded part of the eatery, sighting the person she came to see.

Composing herself, she made for the table and placed a small dry smile on her face. “Good afternoon sir” she greeted.

Mr Frank Johnson raised his eyes from his phone and smiled at Teju. “Good to see you, my dear”

Teju couldn’t say the same. Frank Johnson inclined his head towards a seat and Teju dropped into a seat, opposite him. “What was so urgent?” he asked.

Teju shifted impatiently. “There is a problem, sir” she mouthed and Frank frowned. “It’s your niece, Tito… I’m afraid she might have found out about that night… and… everything”

Frank Johnson stared at Teju for a prolonged moment, his calculative gaze reading Teju, then he relaxed his back fully on the chair, grabbed his drink and took a long sip. “Tell me everything”

Sacrilege.

See you on Tuesday… 😊