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Temi?” Uyi tapped softly on Temi’s bedroom door and waited as he heard shuffling. The door opened from within and Temi stepped out, a hanky over her nose.
“Were you crying?”
She sniffed. “No.”
“I’m sorry I laughed… I didn’t mean to.”
“It’s okay. I made a fool of myself. I don’t know why I did that. You must think I’m a crazy, horny girl now.”
“We all get horny. But yes, you’re crazy.”
She playfully hit him with a smile.
“I have to go,” he said.
“Okay, lemme get my sweater and walk you.”
She retreated into the bedroom and returned with a sweater.
“Uyi,” she bit her lip and played with her fingers, “I’m sure you think I’m crazy about you, with the perfume and the kiss earlier… I like you but not like that. Like I said, I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“And like I said, it’s no big deal, though I enjoyed the kiss and I wouldn’t have stopped you.”
She playfully hit him again and opened the door. They walked out of her apartment and came round to a large duplex in the compound.
“Who lives here?” Uyi asked, staring up at the duplex.
“My aunt. But she’s out of the country now. She graciously gave me her boys’ quarters to live.”
“How about your parents?”
“They’re in Illorin.”
Temi led the way, leading them out of the main gate of the house. It was already dark and a moonless sky was suspended above them but the street lamps illuminated the quiet and exclusive neighborhood. Temi walked Uyi to a junction where he was sure to get a taxi and she stopped.
“I have to go home now,” she said. “See you at work tomorrow.”
He nodded. “I enjoyed the rice, by the way. It was delicious.”
“Thanks.” She hugged him and turned around. “Bye!”
A gentle breeze was beginning to blow as she walked back home and Temi took her time enjoying the feel of it over her body. With a smile, she began to recall the feel of Uyi’s lips over hers and she didn’t caution her thoughts when they wandered back to him. She wanted more. No, she wanted all of him. It was an attraction that hit her the first time she saw him when he walked into the office in his corper uniform and a lost look in his eyes. She had stopped what she was doing and positioned herself to study every feature on him carefully. His face wasn’t spectacular and she would come to learn that the lost look in his eyes was a constant but she would also find out that he was a computer genius. He had graduated with a first class in computer science and had gone for a second degree in computer programming and came out with a second class upper. He could speak seventeen languages, French, Arabic and Chinese included and could play four different musical instruments at advanced levels. It was his brains that sustained him through school with scholarships from an oil company and his state government. Temi saw in him a man that was going to be a big CEO of a multimillion naira company someday and she saw herself next to him. Her best friend, Hafsa told her she was sapiosexual, being attracted to and turned on by only intelligent men, men with the same IQ level as hers. Temi didn’t deny it but she was convinced that she felt more for Uyi than just what her sexual orientation dictated.
Temi came to her building and walked in, leaving the gateman to close the gate behind her. As she rounded her aunt’s duplex, she heard a familiar voice that made her frown. Standing before her door, waiting for her was her boyfriend, Dike. He was on the phone with someone. When he saw. her, he stretched out a hand and she walked into his embrace.
“Please, call me when you get anything, abeg. I really need this contract to work. Thanks, man.”
Dike slid shut his phone and pulled Temi into a warm kiss. “Where were you, cuddles?” he asked, his handsome face coming into a slight frown.
“I walked a friend,” she replied, catching her breath from the kiss.
“I thought you said you guys had a fight. Reconciled?”
“Yeah.” Temi unlocked her door and they walked in. Dike wasted no time in devouring her lips again and this time, his hands were all over her body.
“Dike…” she protested and moved away from him. “I’m on my period.”
He frowned. “Does it come twice a month or something? Two weeks ago, you asked me to help you buy sanitary towels.”
Temi sighed. “Okay, I’m not on my period but I’m not in the mood and…”
Dike grabbed her again and began to kiss her and this time his hands expertly pressed the right buttons on her body. Gradually, she became weak in his arms and when she realized he wasn’t going to let her go, she shut her eyes and imagined it was Uyi who was touching her. But Dike made love to her in his usual hurried manner and in no time, he was done and panting hard beside her while she was left hanging and frustrated.
“Want a drink of water?” he asked, heading to the kitchen but she didn’t respond as she got off the couch and walked to her bathroom. She put on her showercap and turned on the cold shower.
“You’re awfully quiet today, baby? What’s wrong?” Dike appeared at the doorway with a glass of cold water.
“I’m fine,” Temi muttered but shook her head as a thought entered her. “No, I’m not fine.”
“What? What’s wrong?”
“When are you going to announce to everyone at the office that I’m your girlfriend?”
Dike stopped drinking and narrowed his eyes at her. “Announce?”
“Okay, maybe not announce-announce but…” she trailed off as she felt herself tense up emotionally. “I saw you at the restaurant today when I went for lunch and you were alone but you acted like you didn’t even see me and I was sitting directly opposite you. Are you ashamed of me or something?”
“Then why do you always walk past me at work and…”
“I’m part of management…”
“You are a consultant!” Temi raised her pitch. “You hardly come to work! You work in other firms! Greek Elysium is not your main office! Why must I be a secret?!”
“Hey, hey, hey.” Dike placed his glass of water on the floor and walked to her. He got into the shower with her and held her.
“I’m sorry, Temi but you know I’m a very private person and I don’t like people being up in my grill, especially after what happened.”
“What happened has got nothing to do with us! It was between you and her and nobody even knew about it!”
“Okay, you have a point there but you can’t say I’m not always at the office nau. I spend my time there a lot these days because that’s all I’ve got going.”
Temi furrowed her brows and looked at him. “All you’ve got…? How?”
“I lost my other contracts.”
“Two of them?”
“I don’t know. It’s like some bad juju is following me. They both called me and told me they weren’t retaining me any longer since my job was done.”
“Two of them?” Temi turned off the shower. “Didn’t you sign some sort of agreement?”
“Yes, I did. But it seems they’re allowed to let me go after any job is done.”
“So, you’re broke?”
“Not entirely but soon. But I’ll be fine, cuddles. What I don’t need is you stressing yourself over how I feel about you. You know I love you.”
Temi crossed her arms. “You do? How much?”
Dike uncrossed her arms. “Allow me show you.”
Dike left a gentle kiss on Temi’s lips and she stirred in her sleep. She threw a hand over him and pulled him close but he gently slid off her grip and got off the bed. He walked out to the sitting room where he had kept his clothes and wore them and like a mouse, he quietly opened the door and walked out. He stared at his watch and was shocked to find that it was almost eleven o’clock. He walked out the compound and began a short journey to where he had parked his car. It was on a street that connected to Temi’s and he found it in the condition he had left it. He got in, keyed the engine and drove home.
Dike parked his car outside his home and took his time to gather a few items from his backseat, including a steaming shawarma he had just bought from Drumstix.
“Oga good evening!” his nosy gateman appeared by his window, making him almost jump.
“Ehen, Sunny. How are you?”
“I dey, sir.”
“Ehn, I fit get space to park for inside?”
“No, everybody don come back and no space.”
Dike shook his head. If it wasn’t for his present condition, he would have rented out a nice, cozy home he had been eyeing in Maitama. He hated that he had to share space with three other tenants in one compound. The apartments were comfortable and had large rooms but he still wasn’t cool with the living arrangements. Sunny helped him with his things and they both walked in. The first thing that greeted Dike’s eyes was the old couple that was seated outside their apartment, talking in low tones and laughing to themselves. The man couldn’t be anything less than seventy and the wife a few years younger but they loved each other. It seemed they had found the secret of life and they were going to live out their days enjoying it.
“Mr Nzube!” the man greeted and Dike smiled.
“Good evening, sir,” Dike bent his head respectfully.
“Just back from work?”
“Yes sir. Good evening, ma.”
The woman smiled back.
“I was just telling my wife that you young people work so hard these days. In our time…”
Dike heaved silently and endured the old man’s walk down memory lane. It lasted a few minutes and when he was done, Dike smiled again.
“Good night!” the couple said in unison as he walked in through a door that led him up a flight of stairs leading to his own apartment. Sunny was waiting outside the door and Dike relieved him of the things in his hands.
“Thank you, Sunny.”
Sunny nodded and made it down again. Dike fumbled around for his key and when he got it, he made to insert it into the keyhole but the door opened from within, scaring him so bad, the things in his hands fell to the floor, including his laptop and shawarma.
“Oh my God! I’m so sorry,” apologized the person that startled him. Dike lifted angry eyes at his wife as she bent down to help him.
“When did you get in?” he asked.
“About eight hours ago.”
“And you didn’t call to tell me you were coming or that you had arrived?”
Kachi looked at her husband carefully but with a frostiness in her eyes that spoke volumes. Dike stood and walked in, leaving her outside. She joined him in the sitting room a short while later.
“You have not seen me in five months and you welcome me like that?” Kachi asked him but he snapped at her.
“You walked out on me! You refused to pick my calls or reply my texts! Then you think you can just appear out of nowhere and demand a warm hug? Are you crazy?”
Kachi looked like she had something to say but she refrained and walked into the kitchen instead. Out of her sight, Dike smelled himself and realized Temi was written all over him. He hurried into his bedroom, discarded his clothes swiftly and took a quick shower. When he was through and parted the shower curtain, he found Kachi waiting for him with her hands behind her back.
“Jesus! Kachi, stop ghosting around the house like that!”
She produced her hands from behind her and handed him his towel and watched as he mopped himself dry. “I made your favorite soup. Onugbu.”
“Where’s my son? You left him in Suleija?”
“He’s here. He’s the reason why we came. He was really sick…”
“And you brought him all the way to Abuja to treat him?”
“His health insurance is registered to a hospital here nau.”
“Still no excuse for you to come all the way.” Dike walked out of the bathroom and walked to the wardrobe to get his pajamas.
“Okay, I came back because I got a job with a school in Jabi.”
Dike turned, a full scowl on his face. “What happened to the school where you’re still working in Suleija?”
“I quit. Two weeks ago.”
“Without telling me?!” Dike shouted. “How do you make major decisions like that without informing me first, Onyekachi? Abi, am I not a man to you again?!”
“You cheated on me, Dike!”
“Oh, so we’re still going down that road, okwa ya? We’re still talking about a cheating I did not do?!”
“It doesn’t matter if you slept with her or not, you cheated on me emotionally! You hurt my feelings! You decimated my trust and you destroyed every ounce of respect I had for you! But I’m here again to make things work, so don’t disrespect me by speaking to me as if I am brainless! I am a smart, intelligent woman who has gone through hell with her husband and is willing to give him a second chance and the least you can do is catch the line I’m throwing you without making a big hoo-ha over it!”
Dike slowly sat on the bed and turned away from Kachi with an instant, banging headache. Trouble was back and there was no escaping it this time. He looked at her seething where she was standing, her beautiful face showing her pain. She was more stunning than Temi and maybe not as intelligent but she was smart in her own way and never hesitated to remind him of the fact. Still she was a pain in his neck and had been so even from the first day she walked into his life as his wife.
It began with the pregnancy. She would nag over everything. From the way he scattered his clothes around the room to even the way he snored at night. His mother told him to endure, that the phase was going to be over after the baby was born but she only got worse. Dike loved her immensely then and was willing to endure anything for her sake but as the years rolled by and her acerbic tongue threatened his sanity and masculinity, he began to withdraw from her. He spent more time at work or with his friends at bars after work and he made sure he was hardly home during the weekends. His son was the only thing that kept him around the house and even that wasn’t enough to keep him happy. He was glad when she announced to him over a year ago that she had gotten a job to work in a private secondary school in Suleija. He encouraged her to go for it and when she accepted, no married man was as happy as he was in the whole of Abuja. She took the boy with her and put him in a primary school there and they either visited Abuja every weekend or Dike went to see them.
Absence they say, makes the heart grow fonder and that was the case with Dike and Kachi. Her nagging had reduced and his impatience with her was also done with but having found new freedom and living his life almost as a bachelor, Dike’s eyes began to stray. When he was first offered the job to consult for Greek Elysium, bringing in and managing expensive clients for them, Dike never thought he would enter into the world of unfaithful men but the moment he set his eyes on Dami, he knew nothing was ever going to stop him from having her. At that point, he was fairly rich, consulting for four different companies within Abuja; he could afford to give the twenty-six year old anything she wanted. It was a secret affair and not even his friends knew about it. Dami made him feel young again and for that short period of time they were together, he made plans to divorce Kachi. Reason being that he had fallen in love with Dami. It wasn’t just a flimsy infatuation that was going to fizzle away; he was truly and deeply head over heels in love with her and wanted to marry her after he was done with Kachi. He had heard rumors about Dami’s unstable ways but he told himself she was different with him. He didn’t mind that she was a virgin and didn’t sleep with him. In his mind, he was going to have her when she became his officially. But Dami remained true to her nature and after six months, got bored and tired of him and without any explanation, sent him a text, telling him it was over. Dike was deeply heartbroken and begged to be taken back but she rejected his calls, stayed away from him and when he became persistent, she reported him to her father, telling him a married man was stalking her. Her father looked into the case, got information about Dike and contacted Kachi and as they say it down here, fowl ynash blow open.
What ensued was a nasty family feud that involved both Kachi’s and Dike’s families. Kachi threatened to leave but since it was proven that Dike didn’t sleep with Dami, she was asked to give him another chance. She agreed but promised to punish him for it. Hence, she stayed away from him for five months. Dike did not care. He was still heartbroken over Dami’s betrayal and to revive his sense of self, he picked Temi and began an affair with her. Temi was quiet, a homebody and was badly in need of love. She had no idea that he was married and offered him her body willingly because he treated her kindly. He had planned to keep the relationship going for a long time but now as he sat watching his fuming wife, he wasn’t so sure if keeping Temi was a good idea at all.
Dike turned to the door to see his six year old son standing by it. Kachi was right; the boy was ill. Dike could tell from the yellow in his eyes. He got up and walked to the boy, lifting him off the floor.
“Travis, why aren’t you sleeping?”
“I was hearing you and mommy shouting.”
“We were just playing.” Dike lied, taking him back to his bedroom. “How are you feeling?”
Dike put his son back into to bed and covered him with a blanket.
“Daddy, I want to play FIFA with you.”
“Not tonight, Travis. When you get better, I promise. Now, you have to go to sleep.”
Dike began to head for the door but Travis stopped him. “You didn’t pray.”
Dike swallowed and an image of Temi lying naked stabbed him in guilt. He scratched his head and turned back. “Why don’t you pray, big boy?”
Travis put his hands together and began.
“In Jesus name. Dear God, thank you the food we eat and the bed to sleep and the roof over our heads. Thank you for mommy and daddy and Grandpa and Grandma Chinyere and Grandma Peace. Thank you for healing me and bringing me back to Abuja. I don’t want to go back to Suleija again and mommy said I won’t. I want my daddy and my mommy to stop fighting…”
Dike opened an eye to look at the boy and he saw Kachi standing by the door, looking back at him.
“Please, send me a baby sister and please let her have long hair and plenty teeth. In Jesus name.”
Dike tried not to laugh.
“Daddy, say amen.”
“Amen. Oya good night. Sleep.”
Dike saw the gusto in the boy return as he rested his head on the pillow. He placed a kiss on his forehead and walked out of the room. He found Kachi at the corridor, the anger in her gone.
“Nnai…” she called gently, “I’m sorry.” She walked to him. He hugged her and momentarily remembered why he married her in the first place but his resentment returned and a fiendish thought entered his mind.
“Let’s answer Travis’ prayer. Let’s have another baby.”
“For real?” she looked at him, smiling uncontrollably. She had always wanted another child.
“Maybe it will bring us closer,” Dike told her and she hugged him tight.
“Thank you. Let’s start now,” she whispered.
“No, dinner first. Abi you want make I no perform well?”
She giggled and kissed him. “Let me warm up the soup.”
She hurried into the kitchen and Dike walked back to his bedroom. He fished for his phone from his pocket and scrolled to his browser. A certain web address was on speed dial and he clicked on it. In seconds he was inside the control panel of the site and from there he could view every activity that was going on. He clicked on statistics and a page opened, showing him the activities of a current online betting game that he had initiated. The numbers had soared since the last time he visited the site five hours ago and even at that moment, he noticed three members and one visitor online and two of them had upped the numbers, placing a bet on an individual they were sure was going to be the one to deflower Dami. Dike smiled and logged out. Despite his latest employment drawbacks, things seemed to be looking up. Kachi was going to be occupied with thoughts of having a baby, leaving him free to pursue his affair with Temi, and his plan to utterly ruin Dami. Revenge was a meal the little brat was going to be served and it was going to be hot and steamy.
“Dike, dinner’s ready!”