The next days that followed were followed by constant calls from Freda to my phone. She wanted to be my date for the period we were at home. I liked her, not like I did in the past but I thought she’d be handy once in a while. She loved me still and told me all she needed was my attention and nothing more. I was OK with the arrangement only that she called me each day like she needed more than my attention and it wasn’t cool with me.
“I thought you had this guy you were always flaunting in my face back then?” I asked her the day we talked on the phone.
“I left him. He wasn’t like you.”
“And how am I?” I asked, dipping the baby bottle into Chinaza’s mouth. I left her and the bottle and turned to my phone.
“Spoilt,” she said slowly and I bit my lips. Chinaza gurgled and sucked at her feeding bottle. I rubbed her belly.
“You want a spoilt guy?” I asked.
“Not exactly but the guy was too churchy. I think he confesses to the priest each time we make love.”
“Hahaha, how do you know that?”
“Stop asking me that question joor, are you coming over?” she asked.
“No, I am with my daughter here,” I replied.
“Where is that? I want to come over.”
“I am at Naza’s place. Talk to you later,” I said. We dropped the call and I turned to my daughter on the bed. She had spilled her bottled tea all over her face and was giving me one of those cute giggles that makes her look like her mother.
“Don’t you know how to feed a baby?” Chinaza called from the door, strapping Chinecherem to herself.
“I know how to feed a baby, we were just playing,” I replied and tickled the baby on the bed. She cackled. “See?”
Naza smiled weakly and walked up to us on the bed. She dropped the boy on me and turned to the baby girl.
“All those Nollywood movies you watch are so much wasted on you,” I muttered.
“How?” she asked turning to me with the baby in her hand.
“In a proper Nigerian film, you should give me a kiss when you walk into the room,” I replied. She stared at me for a while like she was deciding what to do with me. Then in a twist, she came closer and latched a kiss on my lips. The first in months. My eyes widened.
“Come again please, I wasn’t prepared for that one,” I said. She came again, this time longer and when we separated, Freda stood at the door, looking like she just got out of a beauty pageant.
“What?” Chinaza asked, the quarrel all over her face. I was overly dumbstruck. Freda was crazy, that I knew but I never knew she had nerves too. My heart beat at the speed of light as I thought of the crazy things she could say at that moment.
“Hello Naza. I just came to see the babies. Chinecherem told me about them,” she sang, still stuck to the doorway like she was waiting for an invitation to come in. I let out a fake smile as I scolded her with my eyes.
“Come in,” I said with a fake boldness. She walked slowly towards us. She was beautiful as she came and Naza hated having someone like her around me, especially when it was Freda.
“Meet them, Chinecherem and Chinaza,” I introduced, pointing from the boy to the girl.
“Can I carry them?” she asked, her eyes on Naza.
“Yes,” she replied slowly, shifting uncomfortably.
“They are beautiful and they look like a combination of the both of you,” She said as she rocked Chinaza to herself.
“Yes. They will grow up to be like their father,” I said proudly.
“God forbid!” the two ladies snapped and looked at each other with
a bold smile. The tension eased and a conversation came up. Freda loved to talk and soon roped Naza in. I was the butt of every joke that ever came on and I pondered why Freda would want to be all chatty with Chinaza. Someone she hated.
“I have to bathe this one,” Naza said after sometime, picking the baby girl from the bed.
“Can’t he do it?” Freda asked, referring to me.
“This one, he will soak her in the bath water and forget her there,” Naza said.
“You know that is not true,” I defended.
“Don’t worry, I know what you can do,” Freda said. Naza laughed her way out of the room. We watched her go. Her fine figure swinging to the tune of an imaginary music. She was perfect, Chinaza. I shouldn’t be running after any other girl but Freda was there and she obviously didn’t come to see the babies.
“So why are you here?” I asked, turning to her.
“I am missing you and I couldn’t wait for you to be through with the baby sitting.”
“And you had to come here?” She nodded, opening her eyes wider at me. They were sexy eyes but we were in Chinaza’s room and I shouldn’t be thinking about it.
“So do you want to put me in trouble?” I asked.
“Chinaza and me. Do you want her to catch us?”
“Yes. She will leave you and then I will have you to myself. Besides the both of you have really tried. You have been together for years now and you even have children. You guys should break up jare so other people will have a taste of you.”
I stared at her for long. She stole glances from me as she twisted the tip of her braid. I shook my head and bit my lips.
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“If we were in my house right now, I would have sent you away,” I declared. She giggled and I smiled. My baby boy giggled too. She turned to him and picked him up.
“Fine boy, cute like his father,” She said and threw a look at me. I smiled and fell back on the bed.
“Look at me sweetheart. I am your stepmother,” she declared and my laughter drowned the room.
Time ran and the sun traveled far to the west. My phone rang and James’s number came up on the screen.
“Papa Ejima,” he hailed as I picked.
“Mad man howfar?” I asked.
“Fine nigga. You just forget us naa.”
“I no forget you guys. I am now a family man and my family comes first,” I said and we laughed.
“No yawa naa. But I get one gist that will make you run down to my lodge now now, family man aside.”
“Gist me naa.”
“I dy my lodge with Chinemelum now now and only us dy here like this,” he announced. My heart pounded.
“Your sister?” I asked.
“No, my mother,” he hissed and the line went dead.