Grace sighed as she sat down in the noisy restaurant which was crammed with young men and their dates stuffing the place. In the corner was Mr. Olajide standing all by himself talking to someone on the phone. The man was born to wear black tie. His evening clothes fitted him perfectly; made to measure, obviously. He was tall and very handsome.
This was the third night in a row they were meeting. Wande had called her the previous week and told her about an important client who wanted to buy some properties and she had to be extra nice to him. On their first meeting, she had shown him different pictures of the available properties but he seemed not to be interested. He was busy asking personal questions. On the second night, he had thrown the catalog she gave him aside and continued talking about himself and drawing her into personal conversation.
But this evening she was prepared to give him a piece of her mind. If he was not interested in buying properties he should just say that rather than wasting her precious time. She waved at him and he sauntered towards her. He looked young for a man in his forties. Unlike most men in his age group, his stomach was hard and flat probably from exercising not the usual pot belies that was common in an average rich Nigerian man.
“It’s too stuffy in here. Let’s move to somewhere private” he said leading her to another section of the restaurant.
“It’s very quiet in here” she commented admiring the cool, high-celligned room and the flowery floor.
“Read the inscription up there” he said pointing to the shiny alphabets lined in rows on the wall
“It says ” welcome to Abuja ” he read it out.
“Where we are coming from is called what?” She asked, relaxing on the seat
“Lagos” he answered while she laughed heartily
“Grace, what will you like to eat?” he asked studying the menu
She raised her eyebrow at the use of her name. This was not a business dinner that was clear to her now except the role Wande was playing.
“I need to go to the loo, excuse me” she said
“Of course” he murmured
Mr. Olajide stared at her disappearing figure. She was clad in a a gray suit and black trousers with heels. She was more pretty than her pictures he saw on Wande’s phone .Was he overdoing things? Should he have waited for weeks before he became too familiar with her?
No, there was no point waiting. They are adults. Not, a fourteen year old kid that play around. He was too old for the chasing game. He would tell her his mind. He needed a wife who would look after him and his nine year old daughter.
Grace waited patiently for Wande to pick his phone. She was in the ladies room and she could hear voices outside. There were people waiting outside to use the loo.
“Grace” Wande’s sleepy voice came through
She didn’t bother with pleasantries. She launched straight into how she found the man’s eyes on her offending. And how he was not interested in his properties.
“Grace, Mr Olajide is someone you need to know. He’s young and not attached. I have known him ten years ago and he is an honourable man. Someone you should marry” Wande said, waiting for her to scream or probably curse him.
He was tired of fending off Grace unwanted attention. She was always over him and he needed to do something about it if they were to have a lasting work relationship.
“Wande, you are trying to marry me off to a stranger, who the hell do you think you are?” She was livid.
“Before you unsheathe your sword, calm down and think. You want to get married; you are desperate about it. Hence, this your chasing me around and enduring my insulting attitudes. A man is out there, crazy over you. He only saw your pictures and he is half in love. Give him a chance and see what comes out of it. Why are you women like this, you shower your attention on a man who wants nothing to do with you and ignores the one vying for your attention. Admit it, you don’t love me, you only want to get married to a good man”
Grace thought over his words as she left the loo amidst the hiss and glaring eyes of the little crowd waiting to use the toilet. She was not in love with him, she only wanted to be a wife to someone responsible. Not those young men that duped her in the past claiming to love her. She was thirty two and needed to settled down.
“Hi” she said smiling at him as she sat down.
Mr Olajide heaved a sigh of relief. He thought she was gone after waiting for ten minutes and she still didn’t show up.
“You look different, like you just realized something” he said studying her relaxed face.
“Yea something like that, I had a revelation” she smiled back
“Care to share it?” he said waving at the waiter who appeared with food and drinks.
“Hmm no. Are you married?” She asked him
“No, but I have a daughter, Olawunmi” he answered
“Why didn’t you marry her mother?” she asked as she dispatched her moutthful
“She’s depressive. She’s always sad and all that and didn’t want to marry me” he replied
“How old is your daughter?”
“Who’s taking care of her?”
“Just me, my mum is too old to look over that bundle of energy”
Their relationship speed up almost immediately. The following week,, she met her stepdaughter in a restaurant. The young girl was nice, grinning at her with chocolate stuffed in her mouth. When Mr. Olajide casually announced to his daughter that Grace was moving in with them.
“Why?” the little girl asked
“I’m going to narry her” he answered
“That’s good” she replied nodding her head.
It was news to Grace, he was going to marry her. For two days, she simply could not function. She didn’t go to the office and later realized Mr. Olajide must have asked Wande for her home address since she had refused to pick her calls.
She opened the door and burst into tears
“Oh, Grace, Grace! Come here”
He held her, sitting at her balcony, patting her at the back as if she were his child
“What’s this all about? You think you were never going to get married and you bought a form for the seminary?” he teased
“Not funny” she hit him and giggled
“Now that’s better. Will you marry me Grace? You just have to save this cold and lonely old man. So what do you say? You will marry me?”
He asked her for all of three days. She knew she had to marry him. He was totally different from all the men she knew in the past and she was sure she would never meet his kind again.
Two weeeks later, she walked the aisle singing in her mind that Mr. Olajide was in love with her. Everyone of his family and hers were happy for them. Her aunt had encouraged her to make the marriage work.
“It’s all in your hands you know. I have spoken to Wande.
He’s told me everything I needed to know about Olajide. He’s a nice man and not a woman beater. He doesn’t sleep around. That’s a complete man if you ask me”
Mr. Olajide was a complete man. She recited in her head as they exchanged their vows. It was a very small wedding. Grace smiled what she hoped was a radiant smile to the fifteen guests present.
For their honeymoon, they went to his village. It was a modernised farmhouse built on a hill. Its inside beautiful. She envisaged family holidays in the future, imagined herself extending gracious invitations “What are your plans for the holiday? Mr. Olajide and I will be in his town for holiday. How about you come with the children?”
“I bought this place for my father. He was a famer” he said
They watched movies, talked about their future planning the normal of kids they would have. At the end of her honeymoon, Grace was happy and grateful to Wande for gifting her a man who loved and understood her. As she sat in her office the following day, her face carved in pure joy. She received a text message from someone who called herself a “concerned friend”. She wanted to help her get Wande by plotting against his wife.
She forwarded the message to Wande. He called her immediately
” whatever is going on between you and your wife, I think this person is behind it. I already called the number with Truecaller app but it only revealed a male name without a face. Could it be a jealous ex?”
Oluwaniyi walked into the house he shared with his wife. It was cold and lonely. He saw traces of dirt on the windows and a tell tale sign of an abandoned house. Everywhere, was dusty and he began to sneeze. Where was Bonuade? He searched everywhere, and got to their bedroom. All her clothes were gone. She had left him. His heart started skipping, he called her number; she was busy on another call. He was only gone for eight weeks and his wife was no where to be found. She finally picked her call
“Where are you? I am at home now and couldn’t find your things?”
“I moved out” was her calm reply
“Moved out? To where?”
Bonuade was pissed with all the shouting and all. It was not as if he cared about her and these past few weeks she was already living a happy life without worrying about a man who saw her as a means of revenge. A man who could not forgive her. She remembered nights she went on her knees begging him. But he disposed her off like a piece of furniture
“I have moved to my place. You wanted a divorce and I am preparing for it the best way I can. Just leave me alone” she said ending the call.
Oluwaniyi stared at his phone. His wife was angry. This was not the homecoming he imagined. He thought she would be home waiting and all over him with the joy of seeing him. But his little wife had developed wings. And claws. Her place? She must have rented an apartment with his money. He brought out his handkerchief and cleaned a portion of the leather chair and dat down stretching his legs. He turn on the TV, the Dstv subscription had expired. He switched off the Tv.
Everywhere was annoyingly silent. Even when he was a bachelor his house was homely not this cold building his wife left behind. He was not married to the complaisant woman he thought she was and to be defied by
Bonuade who had once openly idolized him was unthinkable. He had to find her. But there was no one he could call. Her sister was clearly against the marriage and her parents were elderly people whom he did not want to worry. He shouldn’t have left her alone in Abuja where she had no friend. He remembered a man. He was a close friend to her family. He searched for his number, praying his wife hadn’t said anything to the man. He called Francis.
“Hey, are you back?” the man said as a way of greetings. He was always busy and had no time for preambles.
“Yea, and my wife is not here” he said
“Well, she didn’t ask me to keep it a secret” he said describing the place to him.
Oluwaniyi was relieved. He couldn’t imagined talking to Bonuade’s sister. She would have screamed his ear off. He went to the bathroom and had a quick shower. Dressed in his casuals, he stepped out of his house with the intention of bringing her home.
Bonuade was fuming in anger over his call and her reaction to his homecoming. She was excited but the thought that he had gone off gallivanting without a care for her or his unborn child diminished her mood. He was welcome to his empty house. She thought to herself as she moved around her small office.
She read reports that Aina’s engagement was cancelled and thought that was the beginning of her ruin. She only just started with her. Her next move would be to separate her and Adunni forever.
She had earlier on sent pictures of Aina and an elderly man to Mrs Georgina. The man in the picture was Mrs Georgina’s husband. She had never met the woman but she knew of her from Aina’s constant praising of the woman and the favours she had done for her.
Aina was a back stabber with a devilish soul and she Bonuade would cut off all the branches she might tried to hide underneath. She chewed on her pen, thinking on her next course of action when a vision appeared before her eyes. It was her husband.
“So this is your apartment?” He said waving off what she saw as her pride and that angered her.
“Yea it is” she replied succinctly
“Why did you move out of our home?” he asked calmly
“Your home not mine” she replied
“Bonuade, I am not here to fight you. I want you to come back home with me. I want us to start over again”
There was a time she longed to hear those words. She even dreamt of different scenes of his homecoming. But today, she was annoyed seeing him. If their marriage were to work, she needed to know where she stands with him. She could continued to live with a one sided love relationship.
“I have made my home here, just leave Oluwaniyi” she said, but when he stood rooted there, she left him and was satisfied with his angry look.
She thought she was rid of him, but she was wronged when he came in the night with his box. She watched him with wide mouth open.
“If this is where you want us to stay then its fine” he said
All the anger inside her melted. She watched him joked with her staffs and even bought dinner for them. He was disarming every of her defences. When she closed her store, it was the two of them inside. She didn’t believe he would stay with her in a tiny apartment. He was uses to his wealthy lifestyle.
“Bonuade, I am sorry. I shouldn’t have left you” he apologized while she nodded her head working on the zipper of her dress
“Here, let me help you” he offered and helped her to undressed. It was as if he never left.
They showered in the tiny bathroom with him rubbing his hand on her bump.
“I’m glad” he muttered
“About?” She asked raising her brow at him even though her faced was doused with soap
“The baby, its still there in your tummy” he said, this time washing her hair. His hand on her scalp was turning her into jelly.
“Where else do you expect it to be?” she said
“If I were you, I would have abort the baby” he replied, she slapped his hands off her head. She scrambled for the tap trying to turn it on and wash her face
“Bonuade, calm down. What is it?” he asked avoiding her small fists hitting him
“You want me to abort my baby” she cried
“Calm down. I meant if roles were to be reversed that’s what I would do to a husband who left me and couldn’t forgive me” he explained
She stared at him unsure of how to react. Reaching for the towel, she left him in the bathroom and dressed up in her night gown. She laid on the bed and felt its weight dipped beneath her.
“I am sorry I spoke out of turn. It was a stupid thing to say” he apologized
She turned facing him”why are you bent on revenging every wrong?”
“It was how I grew up with my half siblings, getting back on each other was for survival. We did it to get our father’s attention. Telling him what one of his children was up to”
Bonuade knew he was not from a stable family. But she didn’t realized he was affected by it. His father many children from different women, and brought them to live with him.
“In truth, I don’t think I can go back to the way we were living” she said
“Why?” he asked watching her face
“You don’t love me and it hurt to remember that I am your revenge on Adunni” she replied
“Bonuade, I am sorry you feel that way. I don’t know how to convince you that I no longer think of Adunni. Nor do I still love her. She was actually cheating on me. She got married two days after we married” Oluwaniyi said
Bonuade bit her lower lip, she wished she could come out with the truth but she was scared of the oath and prayed God purnish Aina wherever she was. She would do anything in her power to make her life miserable till the end.
“But the truth is I enjoy our marriage and I won’t want it any other way. I have to come to love you. You are everything I have always wanted in a woman” he said
“Are you saying you love me just to get me back?” She asked him
“No, I realized I love you and I don’t want to live without you in my life. My stay in Lagos had taught me everything I need to know about love, its about giving and…” Bonuade stopped him with her lips
“I love you” she whispered
“But I want you to talk to Adunni on my behalf, its not good to leave her in the dark” Bonuade said
“I will” he replied
He wouldnt talk to liar, she was like her scheming friend Aina.
…to be continued