It seemed like a spot light had found its way to my frame and everyone turned to stare at me.
“Do you know her?” Joss asked, pulling me closer to him.
“Yea…her dad and mine are business partners and her brother is a good friend too.” Veg said. He regarded me. “Cleopatra, I’m surprised to see you here. You’ve never hung out at places like this before…”
“Hi Veg…” I said. “I’m errr…working on a project with my new job so I have to…err…play undercover, once in a while.” I lied. I turned to Joss and said. “I’m sorry Joss.”
Everyone turned to look at me in stunning silence, Joss was more stunned.
“What? You’re here to spy on us? How dare you?” He screamed at me. Joss dropped his hand from my waist as though I’d scalded him.
Suzie stood there, she too stared at me as though I’d just dropped a bomb.
“Oh…really, you could have simply asked someone about it instead of trying to experience it yourself.” Veg said. “Where have you been by the way? Your family has been looking everywhere for you.”
“Me…you mean me?” I stammered.
“Yea…the last time I went to your place, your mom was distraught…she’d fallen ill because she’s heard no word from you.” He said.
I felt sad, my mom had fallen ill? I thought.
“Even your fiancé was at your house, your wedding was supposed to be this month, right? Whatever happened?” Veg asked.
“Wedding?” Suzie blurted.
“I think…I think I need to go!” I said quickly as I rushed out of the lounge.
I stopped running once I left the confines of the club and I breathed heavily. It was all too much. Here I was, thinking that I was about to face my biggest challenge when in fact, that was no challenge at all. Veg was my past and he was here.
“Cleopatra!” Veg called.
My heart skipped a beat, I turned to look at him. He was standing a few feet away from me.
“What’s going on with you? Why did you leave Abuja? What were you doing with Joss and the guys?” He asked with concern.
“I told you earlier, didn’t I? I’m here on a project…I need to give an eye-witness account on the big boys that hang out in clubs…”
“You took a big risk by doing that. Do you know how dangerous Joss is? I mean…he’s my friend but I know how we roll. You, on the other hand…you’re different…you’ve always been naïve and quite the shy type. Were you seriously willing to risk it all to go with Joss and his guys?”
“Aren’t you a part of the gang? What makes you different from them?” I spat.
“No! I’m not different…but…you’re not the kind of girl for these circles.” He said to me.
“Really? Why’s that? What makes you think that I cannot be one of those girls? They don’t have multiple heads, or do they?” I fired at him.
“Cleo, please…go home…your family needs you…”
“What are you saying? I contact my family from time to time…it’s just that they’re a bit too clingy so I…”
“You can’t deceive me Cleo, we are not friends but I know you. I visit your house occasionally and whenever I see you, you’re always reading a book or doing something proactive. You are also very close to your dad and siblings…and from what I heard from my dad, your father hasn’t been in contact with you for a very long time.”
“Don’t you dare preach to me! You have no idea of what I’ve been through!” I screamed at him.
“Is this the place to purge yourself of whatever it is that’s bothering you? I don’t know why you’re acting this way which is strange by the way but…whatever it is, you can overcome but not this way.”
“Look who’s giving me a piece of advice. Aren’t you the prodigal son? The one your dad always complains about? The one who has to be friends with my brother even though he’s younger than he is, all because my brother has his life together?”
“Look, I’m not going to defend myself. Yes, I am the prodigal son and yes, I’m forced to learn from your brother who is by the way, younger than I am but I’ve always been a prodigal. I’ve always hung out with the wrong crowd and I know how to take care of myself but you, you’ve never done anything wrong in your life. You’re the perfect daughter. I know how much my sisters hate being compared to you…”
“Save the sermon for someone else, this Cleopatra is different from the one you know.” I said.
He looked at me and nodded.
“Now you’ve spoken the truth. Unlike the lame excuse you gave a while ago about having to play undercover for work. You’ve forgotten that our family have known each other for more than twenty years. The Cleopatra I know would never pull this off…”
“So? If I’ve spoken the truth, will you bundle me home to my parents? I’m old enough to stand on my own.” I spat.
“I can see that no matter what I say, you’ll never change your mind huh?”
He nods and turns to leave but my voice stopped him.
“Veg, don’t tell anyone you saw me…please…” I said.
He turned back to me.
“Come on, I’ll give you a ride home.” He said.
I had no choice. I was already short on cash and since Suzie had remained with Joss and his guys, I knew it would be a challenge getting back to my place. I nod meekly and follow him out of the club premises.
To be continued…