“What do you want? What in the world do you want from us? Money? If it’s money, you can have it all but give us back what rightfully belongs to us. How could you, Leyla? I took you in, I treated you as I would my sister, I gave you all that I could give to you. Even your parents rejected you! Have you forgotten that you were the one who caused your father’s death? Regardless of who you were and all that Franca told me about you, I made you feel at home with my family. Now, look how you stab us at the back. We have lost fifteen whole years of being with our other daughter.” Lois’s mother cried.
“Camilla, calm down…” Her husband said to her.
“Let her keep running her mouth. The truth of the situation is that my daughter believes whatever I tell her. I am a huge influence when it comes to her and if you want her, you’d better keep your mouth shut and stop the insults or she’ll never go back to you.” Leyla spat.
“Knowing you Leyla, there’s a trick up your sleeve. I can’t trust you!” Lois’s mother said. “You have said it. You have a strong hold over my daughter and she’s going to believe every word that comes out of your mouth. What if this is all a ploy to take something from us? What if your plan is to take Lois as well?”
“Lois?” Leyla asked. “Who in the world is Lois?”
“My child…the daughter you were so kind enough to give to us.” Lois’s mother said with tears in her eyes.
“Oh…that…I’m not interested in her.” Leyla said quickly.
“Speak…what do you want in return for giving us back our daughter? How much, one million? Two? Five?” Lois’s father said bringing out his cheque book from his pocket and taking out a pen.
“Oh…hold it there! Don’t think I’m stupid. Ashanti is not a child, and I know that the two of you will be ever ready to wag your mouths to her and tell her that I sold her off to you when it’s all a lie so, keep your money, I don’t need it!”
“What then, do you want?” Lois’s father gritted.
“It’s simple. I want to live with you guys in your mansion. So, when Ashanti moves in with your family, I tag along.”
Lois’s mother’s mouth stood open for a few seconds.
“You’re mad! If you think I’m going to make the mistake of letting you into my home again, you’re crazy!” She fired.
“That’s the only condition that I’ll ever release Ashanti to you. If not, she’s not going anywhere.” Leyla said.
“We will fight you in court…we will make sure that your name is dragged on every newspaper in the country and we will expose you!” Lois’s father threatened.
“Go ahead! So, what’s your story going to be about? Oh, I can imagine. The woman who stole her own baby, or better yet, the woman who stole the baby she carried in her womb for nine months. Bring it on! I know I don’t have any money to pay any top shot lawyers but thank God for social media. We’ll definitely have people backing me up and do you know what? It doesn’t bother me. However, Lionel, what would that do to your image? I’m guessing you are a board member of one of these very big companies. Imagine the scandal!”
Lois’s father clenched his fists and gave Leyla a murderous glare. She smiled and winked at him.
“You guys better coporate or…”
“If we let you in, when should we expect you to leave our house?” Camilla asked.
“Well, who knows? I’ve got to be close to my daughter, right? I could stay for one week, one year, ten years…or…I really don’t know.” She said.
Camilla looked at her husband and whispered.
“Moses, what do we do? We need to be smart about this. Something tells me to get the authorities involved and that she’s bluffing with all her threats but common sense tells me that you just resumed your new position and news like this could shake you up big time. Talk to me, what do you propose we do?”
“I really don’t know honey, but this is a war we need to win.” He said.
“I know that her coming to live with us will bring nothing but bad news but we have to trust in the fact that our daughter whom she’s held hostage for years would be able to show her that she doesn’t need her anymore. I know it’s going to be difficult but I’m going to work with Lois on this. We need her to speak common sense into her sister’s head and make her understand that we are her real family and not Leyla…”
“So, are we granting her request?” He asked.
“I guess so…it sounds like a bad idea but what do we do? Perhaps while she’s with us, we could find possible ways to get the authorities involved.” His wife whispered.
“You heard her say that she has a strong influence on Ashanti…if we do that, the girl might revolt and we don’t want that…”
Leyla was tired of their whispering. She watched the couple converse and not even a word slipped out during their conversation. She couldn’t hear a thing. It was almost as if they were reading their lips.
“Have you made your decision yet?” Leyla asked.
Lois’s mother turned to her and said.
“Yes, we have but note that this is only because of our daughter and no one else.” Camilla said.
“Shoot! I’m listening!” Leyla said.
“We’ll let you into our home but note that you are nothing but a guest in our home and that’s final!” Lionel said with a stern look in his eyes.
Leyla smiled at them and nodded.
‘Let the party begin!’ She thought.
Ashanti and Lois were wide awake at about nine pm when Lois’s parents walked in through the door.
“Mom, dad…are you okay?” Lois asked running up to meet them.
They both looked exhausted and worn out.
“Where is my mother? What did you do to her? If you locked her up in jail, I promise that I’ll never forgive you guys!” Ashanti shouted at the top of her voice.
“She’s not your mother, Ashanti. I am your mother!” Lois’s mother said with an emotional tone of voice.
Lois looked at her mother.
“Did she admit that Ashanti is really my twin?” She asked.
Her mother nodded and wept. Her father stood there, he looked helpless.
“Ashanti, please …” He started but the words seemed to die off.
“Where is my mother?” Ashanti shouted like a half-crazed human.
“She’s still at the hospital, we settled her bills and she’ll be out in two days.” Lois’s mother said.
“Oh cool…I’m going to see her.” Ashanti said heading towards the door.
“Ashanti, stop! We are your family, haven’t you thought of that? Haven’t you processed all that we told you? Leyla took you away from us. She had no right to but she did anyway.” Lois’s mother said with tears in her eyes.
“What has that got to do with me?” Ashanti said rudely.
“It’s got everything to do with you, Ash!” Lois said, suddenly upset by Ashanti’s tone. “My parents are your parents too. The mystery has been resolved finally and now, we have to come together as a family.”
“What are you expecting? One big happy family reunion? Sorry but that’s not what I want. I love the life I’m living with my mom and her family and I won’t trade it for the world.” Ashanti said.
“I don’t believe you…” Lois said sounding disappointed.
“Lois, it’s okay…let her be. Leyla told us that she won’t want to stay with us so we made a bargain.” Camilla said.
“A bargain? What kind of bargain?” Lois asked.
“That Ashanti and her mother live here with us, under the same roof!” Her father said.
Lois was astonished, she didn’t know what to say. Ashanti stared at Lois’s dad, she felt a smile tug at the corners of her lips.
The days flew quickly and soon, the driver drove Ashanti to to the hospital to pick Leyla. First of all, Ashanti had stopped at Leyla’s family house and packed some of their stuff.
Lois sat in Amelia’s room and looked through the old records on her shelf.
“I can see that you’re not too thrilled about this…” Amelia said to her friend.
“I am not. I mean, why does Ashanti have to be so complicated? Why can’t she stay with us and not have her surrogate mother tag along?” Lois spat.
“From your tone, I can tell that you don’t like Ashanti’s mother.”
“No, I really don’t. I have spent one day with her and not only is she a liar, she’s a drunk and …I think…I think she’s a lady of the night.” She whispered the last part.
Amelia’s eyes widened.
“No freaking way!” She exclaimed.
“I haven’t verified it yet but there are somethings I saw in her room that convinced me.”
“I’m sure you’re right. Don’t you see the way Ashanti behaves? She’s spent just two days in your house and your mom is almost tearing her hair out in frustration.”
“I feel so sorry for mom, she’s trying so hard to be a mother to Ashanti but she seems to be getting it all wrong. Ashanti is very different…from…”
“Of course, she’s different from you. You are a well behaved young girl and she’s not. Period!”
“I have tried to be friends with her but she doesn’t even speak to me and when she does, she speaks with such superiority as though I’m her maid or something. I got upset last night during dinner when she kept on whinning over the roast chicken that I almost left the dinner table. I have been to Ashanti’s house and I know that no one makes the effort to cook dinner for the family or even share meals together. My mom put a lot of effort in that roast chicken and she kept complaining that it was burnt and she hated the taste. I felt like knocking her on the head.”
Amelia walked over to Lois and hugged her from behind.
“You’re one of the best people I know and since we became friends, I’ve never seen you so sad. C’mon, chin up! Don’t be sad anymore…”
“I feel so uneasy. Something tells me that Leyla is up to no good and the worst part is that Ashanti is on that woman’s side and not on our mother’s side.”
“Do you know what? Why don’t we organize a playlist for my birthday next weekend? Remember that Suave is coming over from Abuja and he’s taking me out after the party. Let’s think of the fun we’ll have and forget about this issue for now.” Amelia said.
“Is that the house?” Leyla asked Ashanti as she stared at the large house through the car window.
“I don’t believe this! It’s so huge! This is what I’ve always wanted for the two of us.” Leyla said to Ashanti.
“Well, now we have it so I’m guessing that you’re going to put a leash on your night duties.”
“Hey, show me some respect.” Her mother said. “Look, I hope you’re not going to show that family how disrespectful you are to me while we’re there.”
“Mom, I really can’t believe you. Have you even asked how I’m holding up? I found out that I have a twin and that you stole me from my birth parents. Don’t you think I deserve an explanation for what you did?”
The driver drove the car into the compound and stopped.
“Sir, please can you excuse us for a moment?” Leyla said to the driver.
The driver stepped out of the car, leaving mother and daughter inside.
“Look at me Ashanti, do you reget your life with me?” Leyla asked.
Ashanti looked out the window.
“I know that I can’t measure up to Lionel and Camilla especially as they are very wealthy and can provide the big stuff but I gave you what they never gave their miserable daughter and that is FREEDOM! You are fifteen but you can do whatever you like. I treat you like a young woman and not like a child. I make you responsible for yourself. I leave for weeks and come home to a matured young lady but you told me that the time you switched places with their kid, she cried her eyes out, begging to come home. Do you see the difference in upbringing? I am bringing up a woman but they are bringing up a child who doesn’t know her left from her right. A little girl who lives in a glass castle and who cannot even breathe without daddy’s permission. Is that what you want?”
Ashanti turned to look at Leyla.
“I can’t hear you!” Leyla spat.
“No! That’s not what I want.”
“Good. Now, I’m done with giving explanations as to my reasons for taking you instead of their dumb daughter. If you’re done sulking, let’s go inside the house. I also need to speak to your uncle Jacob and understand the nonsense he’s trying to tell me.”
Leyla opened the door and stepped out and Ashanti did the same. They both closed the car doors at the same time. The driver had taken out their luggage and with the help of the maid, they took them into the house.
Leyla still had a score to settle with her brother, Jacob. He had been so furious with her when he learnt that Lionel and Camilla had found out the whole truth. He had planned to make a lot of money breaking the news to Ashanti’s biological family but unfortunately, Ashanti went ahead of him.
This was what she’d wanted from the start, a place in Camilla’s home and in Lionel’s life. Who knows? Maybe by this time next year, a new Mrs. would emerge and the old one would fade into oblivion.
She took her first step towards the house.
Home Sweet Home!
To be continued…