“Answer me right now Raymond S. James; what is that pale thing doing here?” Tinuke yelled.
Raymond jumped to his feet as he forcefully restrained himself from hitting her. He had never hit a woman in his life but he had the feeling that Tinuke would make him change that record.
“Woman” he growled, “this is my house, and whoever I desire to bring into my house should be none of your concern”. She hissed.
“This is my house too, Ray, and you should at least respect me by leaving your whores outside instead of bringing them here”.
“You are pushing me Tinuke”. He pointed his finger at her in a warning signal. She laughed.
“And what are you going to do? Ehn? You can do nothing. You hear me? Nooothing” she yelled.
“Leave my house Tinuke” he said quietly in a tone that spoke volume.
“Me! Leave this house? You must be stupid to think I would leave this house. This is my husband’s house and I am here to stay” she yelled, loud enough to wake the dead.
“I am not married to you and never will. I would rather die than marry someone who would make my life totally unbearable” he spat between clenched teeth.
“You wouldn’t dare, you hear me? You dare not. You see this ring?” she displayed her fingers. “It is not leaving my fingers, not even in the next 50 years, and very soon, it would be accompanied by a wedding ring; our wedding ring”. Raymond smiled.
“Sure. I can’t expect you to release such a prized jewel. I was not asking you to give it to me, you can keep it. As for the wedding ring, you would only get it in your dreams because this engagement is over. We are done”.She shook her head.
“You lie… you lie, do you hear me? You lie” she yelled. “That w—e has bewitched you. You are not in your right senses. I swear, I will get her for this. She is the one toying with your head, right? I will make her pay” she screamed at the top of her lungs.
“Oh… is that what you were trying to do when you went to that hospital. Of everything you could do, I never knew murder would add up to the endless list”. Tinuke took in a sharp breath as she heard what he said.
“Oh… You never knew I would find out? Why not? They have the whole episode recorded, you know? I could get you arrested; charge you for attempted homicide.”
“of course not. I did not do anything, they misjudged me.” she lamented, shaking slightly.
“I don’t know and honestly don’t care. Leave this house this very minute. I am sick and tired of your crap. I need some peace in my life and that would never happen with you infecting the whole place with your unbearable attitude.”
Raymond sat down forcefully but Tinuke did not leave where she was.
“I told you before; I am not leaving. You would have to throw me out if you want me out”. She spat.
“You have five minutes to pack your things and leave. If you refuse to comply, the police would have to help you out”.
“Calm down sweetie. Just look at yourself; you are a shadow of yourself” Ken admonished his wife who was busy thinking about the misfortune which had befallen her. She had become lean, and even though Ken looked sapped and under serious pressure, he still wanted his wife to take it easy and be a little optimistic for both of them. He really needed her to encourage him and realize that they were both in it together, but she had been behaving as if he was not there.
“Just leave me alone Ken, it is my daughter that is missing here” she almost yelled.
Ken became furious. “Isn’t she my daughter too? What is the matter with you? Do you think this is not affecting me?”
“Don’t you yell at me Kenneth. I told you. I told you not to allow her take that job and apartment. You could have insisted she stayed here, searched for another job which is close by, but what did you do? She talked you into it and you agreed. A girl should not stay away from her parents” she yelled.
Ken was horrified. “So this is what the problem is. You are holding me responsible for what is happening? She has been living conveniently in that house for six years and now you bring up this issue?”
“I am not saying you are responsible, I am just…” she trailed off, then looked sad and confused. She looked at her husband and wondered what had possessed her to talk that way, he was equally affected and she had hardly consoled him or tried to make him feel better ever since their daughter went missing. Yet, that did not stop him from petting and standing by her.
“I am sorry honey, I don’t know what is wrong with me” she moved towards him apologetically.
He blocked her advance with his hand. “No, I think you know. You are right though, I am a horrible father” he turned and stormed out in anger.
“No, Ken. I am sorry… Ken…” she followed him but he was out of the gate before she could stop him. She went back to the house, slamming the door forcefully. The tears soon started falling as she sat on the floor but she didn’t know the cause of the tears: her missing daughter or her hurt husband.
Raymond felt this unexplainable peace immediately Tinuke wheeled her boxes out of the house. He wondered why she had brought so many bags in the first place. Was she given quit notice? He wondered. He wondered why he never noticed such an unbearable behavior in her before.
He had always known her to be sweet and gentle but not like this. Women are just pretenders, waiting for the ring before producing their true characters. He thought. Tinuke was just the exact replica of a roaring fire, always ready to rid you of your cool and peace.
He took the television remote and switched on the television. Ever since he started his leave, he hadn’t switched on the television, not to mention, watch it. There had been too many dramas to last a lifetime and he didn’t need to hear any extra bad news on the television, since that was the only thing that the television stations carried. He could not remember the last time he heard a good news on TV; but he just had to keep up with the happenings around him, especially Nigerian news.
The first thing he saw on Channels TV almost made him regret putting on the TV. Boko Haram had just bombed a bus station in Bornu State, leading to the death of about a hundred people and leaving many people injured. He grimaced as he listened to the reporter. What a cruel world. The news came to a close some minutes after and he picked up his remote to change the channel but stopped when he saw a familiar face on the Television screen. His eyes widened as he stared at the name beneath the picture
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Brenda closed her eyes and opened it but it did not drive away the guilt she was feeling. She had woken up some time ago to the loud voices of heated argument going on between Raymond and his fiancée. She had felt this heavy guilt then. She should not have come here, she should have insisted on going her way. If she had, Raymond’s fiancée would still be with him.
After hearing what was being said for some time, she covered her head and ears with the pillow in order to prevent herself from hearing more, although, it was nigh impossible.
Then, they started speaking in a hushed manner and she was grateful. The next thing that happened was what made her guilt multiply: she heard the sound of bags, being dragged. She had pushed her weak body out of bed and went to the window to confirm her fears. Tinuke was dragging her bags out in tears. The gateman offered to help her but he was sent back with a dirty slap from Tinuke which made Brenda wince.
Brenda shook her head, stood up from the bed and made for the bathroom. She needed to leave that place. Much to her surprise, she found everything she needed in the bathroom: a new toothbrush, sponge, soap, and towel. She wondered how Raymond had managed to put all those things in her bathroom since he had been busy fighting his fiancée.
She brushed, took her bath and left the bathroom. She mopped her hair until it became just a little bit moist and quickly wore the same dress she had removed. She loved the gown and had been wondering how Raymond was able to buy her something that fit so perfectly.
Just as she was combing her hair, she heard a knock and instantly became frightened. They were all alone in the house, save the gateman. Nothing and no one could stand in his way of he decided to do something stupid. She remembered how good he had been and threw away the filthy thought.
“Yes? Please come in” she said, dropping the comb.
Raymond entered, looking all masculine. She noticed he had changed the loose T shirt he had on before into a figure hugging top that highlighted his muscles. She wondered if he was a regular face at the gym.
Raymond was carried away by the beauty of his guest for some seconds, that he forgot what he came for. Her hair was loose and looked wet. God really created this woman when he was relaxing, he thought. If she was this beautiful in such flimsy material, he wondered what she would look like in real quality clothes.
Remembering why he came, he stared at her without talking, like he was trying to confirm something.
“Miss Luciana Jones?” he called and watched her face drain, leaving her whiter than she already was. Confirmed. “Come with me; we need to have a long chat”. With that he turned and walked out of the room while she followed like a puppet with her head downcast.
Tinuke had cried and cried but the tears still did not stop coming. She didn’t know what to do. She was already back in her apartment. She entered the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of alcoholic wine and found it empty. She angrily threw it against the wall. And the sound of its shattering was deafening. She swallowed as she settled to drinking a bottle of cold water. After drinking for some time, it soon became bitter in her mouth and she returned the cup.
She moved to the sitting room and collapsed on the chair. She mopped her eyes for the umpteenth time. She dialed Tosin’s number but she did not pick up. After several attempts, she dialed Bola’s number and got the same result. She became very angry and furious. “Stupid girls” she yelled.
Bola and Tosin were her best friends. They had been inseparable since their secondary school days and now that they were older, that hadn’t changed. The only time she had been away from them had been when they had gone to school.
They both got their admissions late, unlike her, but they both finished their NYSC about a year ago and the trio friendship continued. Now that she needed them, they are nowhere to be found. She sighed.
After thinking for some time, she felt she would feel better if she goes for shopping. Shopping had a way of making her happy. She didn’t have the money, so, she picked up her phone to call her favorite step brother. It had been a long time since she called him.
After ringing for some seconds, she heard a voice and she smiled.
…To be continued