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Episode 18

Lara spent the next two days with her friends at Bola’s apartment. It was just like old times. They had been together in the same university, sealing up the bond of their friendship by rooming together. They had agreed to disagree, fought and made peace with one another; they were no longer mere friends, they had become siblings, loving one another against all odds. Lara felt happy and free with her friends, and for those two days, it seemed her problems had been dissolved. But no! They were only under lock and key to come bouncing back at the slightest provocation.

Lara’s eyes flew open as the duvet was yanked forcefully from her sleepy eyes. She yelped in protest as she turned on her stomach, burying her face in the fluffy pillow, not ready to let go of sleep just yet.

“Get out of bed, lazy bones” Bola said and smacked Lara’s buttock.

“Ouch” Lara yelped, raising her squeezed face at Bola. “Why do you always have to be so nasty? Leave me alone” she buried her face back in the pillow.

Bola dragged away the pillow under Lara’s head, causing her head to drop on the bed ungracefully. Lara swallowed and let out a deep sorrowful sigh. “What did I do to deserve a friend like you?” she whined.

Bola chuckled. “I am the best you would ever find. Get your behind out of bed, you have a… guest”

Lara’s eyes snapped open and she pushed to a sitting position instantly. “Mum?” she inquired. She knew her father would never condescend so low as to come by himself to get her; he would rather threaten her on phone or send his men to drag her back home. But Lara had been hoping that her mum would surface. Teresa had already informed her of her whereabouts, so why wasn’t she coming over. Even though Lara was still hurting, she was secretly nurturing the hope that her mother would try to explain why she had done what she did. Despite it all, she loved her mother, since love was not a feeling to vanish at once. Lara had waited, but the last 48hours had told her that her mother was not ready to seek her forgiveness. She looked at Bola anxiously.

Bola shook her head briefly, looking at her with a puzzled frown. “No” she answered shortly, giving Lara a perceptive look. Lara looked away as disappointment enveloped her again. She blinked as she swallowed dryly. Maybe her mother wasn’t even interested in her forgiveness. “When he is gone, we would have the conversation you’ve been avoiding for two days, okay?”

Lara frowned, ignoring the question. “He?” her eyes widened. “Jack is here?”

Bola smiled briefly. “No”

Lara’s shoulders sagged in relief. She wasn’t ready to give the ‘yes’ response to another man yet. Impatiently, she glanced at Bola as she removed the remaining part of the duvet covering her legs. “So? Does this august visitor have a name?” she asked with a raised brow.

Bola took a deep breath. “It is Derin”

Lara froze, staring at Bola numbly. “Are you serious?”

“She is”

Lara faced the entrance as Teresa walked in with a look of distaste and disapproval pasted on her round beautiful face. “I had the intense displeasure of looking at his carpentrified face first thing this morning”

“There is no such word” Bola countered Teresa’s outrageous use of English vocabulary.

Lara blinked as she stared at Bola. “You interfered with my sleep because of Derin? Seriously?”

Bola counted on her fingers. “One: it is waaay past your bedtime; two: the guy has been seated in my sitting room for more than thirty minutes, refusing to leave until he spoke with you”

“How did he even get in?” Lara hissed as she stood up from the bed. “I knew I couldn’t count on you girls to protect me from vampires”

Bola snorted. “You would need Buffy for that”

Lara shook her head as she traded the nightie on her for a gown. She had no clothes with her so she had to depend on her friends’ clothes. “If I would be seeing that traitor, at least, I would make him realize what he traded for ten million naira”

Lara entered the bathroom to wash her face and overheard Bola and Teresa arguing over the fact that Teresa left Derin alone in the sitting room. She shook her head. Reality was making an appearance again and her problems were rearing their ugly heads. She rinsed her mouth, leaving her dental care for later. When she reappeared in the room, Teresa was no longer there but Bola was seated on the bed, typing away on her mini-tablet. “Okay, let’s go” Lara muttered.

“I don’t think your conversation with him would require an audience” she said, without looking at her.

Lara hissed and shook her head as she walked out of the room. Her friends could be the most annoying set of alliances most times, Lara mused bitterly as she walked on. Derin definitely had some nerves! After betraying her love and trading her for money, he still had the guts to show his face before her, not once but twice.

She got to the sitting room and met Derin seated on a single seater couch. The anger she felt towards him returned fiercely. Teresa sat on the longer couch, glaring at him like he was the worst thing that happened to her beautiful day.

Deolu jumped up immediately he saw her. “Lara” he muttered.

“Please give us a few minutes Terry” Lara said to her friend.

“Happily! You don’t have to ask me twice” she muttered, giving Derin a look of disgust. “Make it snappy! I have a program to watch in ten minutes” she said as she waltzed out of the room.

Lara swallowed when they were alone, remembering Teresa’s line. “I have the utmost displeasure of seeing you this early morning. What do you want? I thought I stated specifically the last time that I never want to set my eyes on you”

He moved a bit closer. “Lara, all I want is for you to listen to me. Don’t crucify me without hearing my own side of the story, please…”

Lara ran her eyes over his form. He was in designer jeans and shirt, with an expensive looking wristwatch around his wrist. “The sight of you is more than enough testimony. What else do you have to say in your defense?”

Derin swallowed as Lara walked past him to a couch. She sat down and crossed her legs, showing off her glassy skin. “I love you Lara, I always have and I was serious about you, please believe me… you are the most important person in my world”

Lara stared at her nails with serious concentration, dismissing Derin’s voice. She sighed after some seconds and raised her eyes from her fingers. “You didn’t come here to recite a poem, did you?” she asked. “Listen, I have got better things to do and bigger problems to solve. I don’t have time to sit here and listen to your nonsense. If that is all you came here to say, I assure you, that poem would not impress the crèche department of any school, not to talk of impressing me”

“Why are you being so hostile towards me?” he murmured angrily. “What would you have had me do when your father threatened to hurt my mother if I don’t leave you alone?”

“What gibberish are you saying? How dare you accuse my father falsely just to save your hide?”

“You can confront him with what I said; you’ll see that I am not covering up anything.” He insisted. “Your father sent men to destroy my mother’s shop and asked her to warn me to leave you alone or face the consequences” he said sternly, with a bitter look on his face. “Days later, some men grabbed me, covered my face and drove me to a building where you father was. He threatened to make my mother pay for my stubbornness if I continued to see you. I was given no other choice. He offered me ten million Naira and… I took it, opened a new shop for my mother and… established a large furniture business”

Lara stared at Derin like he had grown horns. Her brain was trying to process the information. Her father had actually forced Derin out of her life! Anger and frustration gripped her insides as she shot out of the chair, forcing Derin out of her way as she marched back into the room. He called her name severally but she didn’t stop. She bursted into the room making Teresa and Bola jump in fright.

“Jeez babe, I told you it was a bad idea to see that filthy carpenter” Teresa ranted. “What did he do to make you so angry?”

Lara grabbed the first hairband and secured her hair behind her head. “Not up to what my father has done, obviously” she said angrily as she removed her cloth. “Can you both please do me the favour of seeing Derin out? I think I have to go home after all” she muttered. “And… he is not a ‘filthy carpenter’” she finished as she went into the bathroom to have her bath. She knew she couldn’t have anything to do with Derin again. Despite his explanations, nothing could change the fact that he had traded her for money, forced or not! But then, she would give her father a piece of her mind for always invoking sadness into her life. Thank God it was a Saturday! If his routine hadn’t changed over the last two days, he should still be at home, enjoying a Chinese massage.

*****
*****
Jack paced the length of his sitting room. It has been two days; yet, he hadn’t heard anything from Lara. He hoped he hadn’t made a serious blunder. Maybe he shouldn’t have placed the ball in Lara’s court, all in the hope of gaining a substantial amount of her trust. And since she was with her friends, especially ‘Bola’, he knew they would surely influence her decision. What on earth had inspired that move? He ran his fingers over his hair in frustration.

Mrs Balogun looked up from the cabinet she was cleaning as part of morning duties. Bewaji was also cleaning the chairs quietly.

“Is something wrong Jack?” Mrs Balogun asked, giving Jack a questioning look.

Jack shook his head distractedly as he glanced at his phone. “No”

Mrs Balogun smiled secretly as she continued what she was cleaning. “She is very beautiful, you know?”

“What?” Jack wasn’t following what she was saying.

“Lara! It is easy to see why you are so taken with her” Mrs Balogun said, grinning as she stopped to stare at Jack.

Bewaji cleared her throat and dragged a table noisily, making Jack glance at her for a second. He noticed briefly that she was putting on a really short skirt which went almost halfway up her thigh, but he ignored her, trying to piece together what Mrs Balogun was saying.

It took a moment for Jack to realize what she was talking about, and when he did, he snorted. “I am not taken with anyone”

Mrs Balogun laughed. “Do you even believe that? Look at you; you are so nervous, just because you haven’t heard from her! It is obvious you are smitten with her! Until two days ago, I have never seen you with any woman; I started worrying you might be gay”

Jack shook his head. “You are imagining things” if only she knew the real cause of his worry.

Mrs Balogun walked towards him, dropping the rag in her hands. “Guess what! I took her wristwatch and hid it so she wouldn’t go with it when she was leaving and have a cause to come back to the house. You can return the watch to her if you really want to see her” she offered conspiratorily, with a wink.

Jack stared at the woman before him with wide eyes. He had never seen her behave so sassily.

Staring back at his speechless state, she grinned. “I’ll get the watch! You better make full use of the opportunity and not mess things up” she warned as she walked away.

*****
*****
Lara entered her house after three days. She had driven so fast in Teresa’s car, using her anger to fuel her speed. She disregarded the greetings of servants and walked on. “Where is my father?” she asked one of the maids.

“In his office, Miss Banks” she said automatically.

Lara nodded and walked on, towards her father’s home office. It wasn’t yet time for his massage, Lara knew and was grateful for that because no one could walk in on her father when he was having his massage.

Lara opened the door to his office without knocking and Tunji Banks raised his head, startled. Surprise spread on his face, followed by outrage.

“Well well, how nice of you to make a grand entrance after three days.”

“Why do you always find joy in destroying my happiness dad?” Lara returned, angry beyond words. Her father has been playing her like a chess game for so long, she was just tired of it all.

“The two days away hasn’t thought you anything about respect, right?”

Lara shook his head. “No! It has exposed me to the truth! You threatened Derin and attacked his mother’s business just to get him to leave me?”

The governor sighed. “We are not talking about that filthy carpenter, are we?”

“He is not filthy” she yelled. “He was a man who lived a humble and descent life until you came and made a monster of him. How could you do this dad?”

“How many times would I repeat it? He is not good enough for you. A carpenter would NEVER be my son-in-law; get that into your head girl” he barked at her.

“So you actually did it” Lara muttered, stupefied. Wow! Her parents would never cease to amaze her. The door opened suddenly and her mother walked in cautiously. Lara looked from her father to her mother and back.

“Your daughter has the guts to talk back at me and yell at me” the governor said, glaring at his wife. “You completely failed in your duties as a mother”

“Just as you failed in your duties as a father” Lara muttered.

“What?” He barked.

Sewa gasped and tried to hold Lara. “Lara, please stop”

“Leave me” she yelled, jumping back. “You are both the same; you are a perfect couple. You both care only about material things” she wailed, losing control. “I always thought you were different but you are not! You got me kidnapped for…”

Sewa gasped as she grew pale. Oh no! Lara covered her mouth with her hand, shaking her head. She shouldn’t have said that! She should NOT have said that!!! She blinked as she looked nervously at her father who seemed to have paused in time. “Errrmm… What I mean is…”

“She got you kidnapped!” Tunji recited as his eyes grew as large as round doughnuts. He pushed himself out of the chair, to his full height. “She got you kidnapped?” He roared…

Thoughts are Real!
Follow on Twitter: @nissi_adeola @inspysworld

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