Raymond put off the engine and unfastened his seat belt. He had decided it best to eat at Tantalizers before heading home. He wanted to rush over to open the door for Brenda but she was already out before he could even rotate. She smiled thankfully and he pressed the lock button on the car key.
Brenda swallowed as she walked with him. He was making her feel very uncomfortable with his presence as she could not point out why. She wondered why they could not eat at his house since he said his fiancée was home. She also wondered why they were living together when they were not married but shrugged that off, knowing that such had become a norm in today’s world. She sighed. She assumed they were not in good terms.
When they entered, everyone seemed to be staring at them like they were famous artists. She kept on wandering why they were being stared at like that but did not say anything about it. Some way gawking with their mouths open, some were staring wide-eyed and all.
Ray asked Brenda to have her seat while he placed the order but she refused and followed him to the canter where he ordered fried rice and chicken for both of them, with a cold pack of Chivita. After standing for about five minutes, they both walked to a table with trays in their hands.
Brenda stared at her food as Ray filled her cup with juice. She wondered why the gesture seemed so intimate to her; in fact, eating with him there seemed so intimate. She murmured her thanks and they both attacked their foods with vigor. Ray hadn’t taken breakfast and was very hungry.
Brenda had taken tea at the hospital and was not so hungry but immediately she tasted the food, she hungered for more. They silently praised the person who prepared the meal as they busied themselves with satisfying their hunger.
They had gone halfway through their meals when Ray decided to broach the inevitable topic.
“Brenda” he called, She jerked her head up.
“Tell me what happened. Who stabbed you?” She winced and shifted uncomfortably.
“No one. What makes you think I was stabbed?” she faced her food again
Ray was stunned. She had to be lying.
“No one? Tell me the truth; or did you do that to yourself?”
She raised her head up sharply. “Of course not. I can never commit suicide”.
“Then how did you get there? The only explanation I can come up with is that you were stabbed by someone who put you out there in the cold, thinking you were dead. If that is not correct and you did not do that to yourself, which is actually illogical, then, maybe you truly are a witch sent to make my life miserable”.
She winced and he immediately regretted what he had just said. He actually said it to bring a smile to her face and possibly draw out the truth from her. He had always known he had to improve his sense of humour.
“I am not a witch. I would rather die than become a filthy witch. I was stabbed by someone but I would rather not talk about it, if you don’t mind.”
At that junction, he really wished she was a witch because, hearing that she was actually stabbed from her own mouth made him so furious; terribly furious.
Brenda saw Raymond’s folded fists and grimaced. He looked like he could bring down the walls of Jericho with his bare hands. She wondered what she would do. Being a burden to someone was something she hated so much, and frankly, that was what she felt she was to Raymond. She faced her food again, even though the food no longer seemed inviting. Ray had already started eating again but when she glanced at him, she noticed that he was practically playing with the food.
For the first time, she looked at his face; really looked. His head was bent, facing the food, so it was not really easy to scrutinize his face. That he was the most handsome man she had ever seen was not in question. She had noticed it immediately she set her eyes on him in the hospital weeks ago. He looked rugged and athletic.
Looking at his muscled shoulders and hands, he would easily pass for an extremely sexy male model which every woman would die for. She could imagine the legendary six packs beneath the blue T shirt he had on.
She quickly averted her gaze feeling embarrassed. She gripped her fork harder when it almost slipped off her fingers. She was more angry that she had been drooling over someone who didn’t even notice her intense gaze because he had been too deep in his thoughts to notice. She was however glad he hadn’t noticed or she would have felt extremely bad and embarrassed.
When did I develop this stupid habit? she wondered. Probably, the drooling habit comes when you have been stabbed with a knife, she thought again with a grimace.
Raymond had been thinking about what he would do to the person that nearly murdered Brenda when he noticed Brenda’s eyes on him. He had faced his food squarely, not wanting to embarrass her by meeting her eyes. Her gaze made him feel extremely uncomfortable, but being a man, he knew how to hide his reactions perfectly. The second she stopped looking at him he had noticed and peered at her with the side of his eyes and saw the embarrassed blush on her cheeks. He quickly faced his food feeling his heartbeat quicken.
He had prevented himself from looking at her too much because he feared her image would be imprinted on his mind. Now, looking at her, he knew that one gaze is enough to imprint her image on his mind. He coughed albeit loudly, to drive away part of the tension he was already feeling.
Brenda looked up and said she was already satisfied and they both left the place. The drive home was very quiet. Raymond put on the radio to reduce the quietness as he thought about what Tinuke would do when he got home. He realized that this always happened whenever he was close to the house. Tinuke was always an erupting volcano. He knew bringing a woman home would trigger fire in the house but he was prepared to throw her out of the house if it was necessary. He had already grown weary of her presence which was making his life terribly miserable. He had never known peace since she brought herself into his house.
Immediately they parked inside the compound, he noticed Brenda’s appreciative eyes. But with the way she looked, he knew she was not a sucker for big buildings and wealth. She was just full of appreciation, looking at the features of the buildings. Her eyes lit up when she saw the flowers and she smiled. He noticed her dimples and his heartbeat skipped. What was it with dimples that always got to him? He wondered.
“You have a very beautiful house” she said.
“Thanks. It is an honour to have an extremely beautiful person gracing my house” he said with a slight bow and she laughed. He noticed her dimples again and smiled.
“I am flattered”
“Flattered? Beautiful is definitely an understatement, you would have noticed my speechless state ever since I picked you up today”
She blushed and they made for the entrance. They did not have to open the door though because Tinuke opened the door and stood at the entrance. Tinuke noticed the lady she had seen in the hospital and fear registered in her but she hid it perfectly. If Bose hadn’t been her match, she had just found a very strong match.
“What is this?” she asked with her hands on her hips glaring. Raymond sighed as anger set in. The drama is just about to begin.
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Fred entered the house after strolling for about an hour. He felt weary staying at home all by himself and had decided to take a stroll every evening. His life had been wretched ever since he left Lagos. He had abandoned his work, his apartment and everything, just because of stupid jealousy. He wondered what had possessed him. That was not the first time he would do something regretful and senseless.
He remembered his failed attempt to tie Lucy’s disappearance on Deolu and became grieved. He wondered how far and how long he was going to run away from the police. He had not seen any police knocking on his door but he knew it was just a matter of time.
One thing kept troubling him; Luciana’s corpse hasn’t been found. With the response he got from his police friend, he knew that Luciana is still missing. He didn’t confess his crime to his friend but developed c–k and bull stories of how he had to travel to Bayelsa state for some business dealing and how he heard when he was away that his close friend was missing.
He had framed up a lie in order to secure Deolu’s arrest about how he had been told by Lucy, some days before he left that she would be going on a dinner date with Deolu the same day she got missing. That story had been enough to motivate the police to arrest Deolu, but he had made sure his name would not be mentioned.
He entered the bedroom still feeling a level of safety. After having a cold shower, he climbed the bed and fell into a dreamless sleep.
Brenda lay gently on the bed feeling the last bit of her strength leave her. It had been a struggle getting into the house. She wondered if it was always like that with Raymond and his so called fiancee. Raymond had practically dragged his fiancee out of the way after a terribly heated argument which was filled with insults from her lips. She had been sorely tempted to run out of the house.
Raymond seemed to be so cool and collected, and even throughout the argument, he hadn’t disrespected his fiancée in any way but Brenda kept on wandering what he was doing with the viper he called his fiancée.
Brenda closed her eyes as sleep set in. She tried not to think about the negative effects of what she was doing. She knew that her people would be worried sick about her but the mere fact that her sudden appearance might put them in more danger made her want to stay away. She would rather die than put her loved ones in danger. She sighed and slept.
…To be continued