Clara was so annoyed, she couldn’t believe that she had been
used as a bait. ‘Who was Rose Lily?’ she asked herself. She stormed into her
room and slammed the door behind her. Since Kendra left with Mommy, the room
was all hers and she did as she pleased with it. She was still sulking angrily
when her phone rang, it was Oliver.

“Hey…” He greeted.
“Hi…” Clara muttered dryly.
“Am I calling at the right time?” He asked.
“Sure…”
“I am in your area and I was wondering if you’re at home…”
Oliver said.
“Yea…I am…”
“Okay…” He said sounding unsure.
“It’s the house beside the house of the party of last
year…it’s a white bungalow with flowers at the front.” Clara said. “It’s house number 27.”
“I’m not sure of what you’re talking about…” Oliver said, trying to joke.
“I am not in the mood to play funny…I have just described
my house to you…”
“Okay…I’ll be there in a bit.”
Clara tossed her phone at a corner, she wanted to scream,
cry, wail, and tear at the walls. She felt so bad, she had just stood up from
her bed to brush her hair at the mirror when she heard the doorbell. She left
her room and went to answer the door, it was the gate man. She quietly told him
to let Oliver in and went ahead to sit on the sitting room sofa. Oliver soon
walked in.
“Hey Clara….” He said.
“What’s up?” She greeted.
“You don’t look too good…”
“I just got betrayed by someone I held in high-esteem…”
Clara said wiping the lone tear from her eyes.
Oliver sat beside her and looked at her.
“Who?”
“Guess…” She said.
“I can’t think of anyone…” He answered.
“Rose….”
“What? That’s like your closest friend on the planet…”
“I know right?” Clara sniffed. “I just found out that she’s
been using me to get to my dad….”
“Huh?” Oliver asked puzzled.
“Yea…she’s been my friend all along because her
gold-digging aunt wants my dad….” Clara looked at him with teary eyes. “The
worst thing is, mommy left because of me and now, I don’t think daddy wants her
back because he has a new….woman.”
“Ha! This is serious! Are you for real?” Oliver asked in
surprise.
“I felt the same way too….” She sniffed.
“Your mom left because of you?” Oliver asked, looking at the
family portrait on the wall of the sitting room.
“I’m not her biological daughter, I’m her step-child. The
worst thing is, Rose thinks that I am fool for wanting her to stay and I feel
like I’m a bigger fool for not knowing Rose’s plans all along…” Clara sniffed.
“Wait…I still don’t understand you. Are you saying that
she doesn’t take care of you or treat you like her child? Why would Rose call
you a fool for wanting her to stay?”
“It’s complicated….” Clara said.
“Listen to me, family is everything…and no matter how
pushed to the wall we feel sometimes, especially by them, they are all we
have…” Oliver said.
“I’m not sure of that statement. You see, mommy is…” Clara started.
The door burst open and Mommy stood at the door looking like
an enraged animal. Clara and Oliver stared at her in surprise.
“Look at her! You stupid little prostitute! This is it
right? This is what you’ve always wanted all along. I am hardly out of
the house and you’ve turned this place into a whore house.” Mommy screamed.
Clara stood up and shivered as she stared at her without
responding. Oliver stared at Clara’s step-mom, he was speechless.
“You, what are you doing here? Will you get out of this
house?” Mommy flung at him.
Oliver stood up to go but Clara stood in front of him.
“He’s going nowhere…he’s my friend and this is the first
time he’s coming to this house and we’ve done nothing wrong.”
Mommy stormed up to her and gave her two loud slaps on her
cheeks.
“How dare you talk back at me? How dare you? Do you know
what’s going to happen to you? Exactly what happened to your miserable mother,
fifteen years ago. You’ll get pregnant by this boy and he’ll dump you….” She
shouted. “Don’t think you can have an illegitimate child under my roof. God forbid! You are so useless.”
“Excuse me madam, I am from a decent home and I’ll do no
such thing. Do not speak about me as though you know me…” Oliver said, clearly upset.
“Will you get the hell out of my house? Get out! Now!” Mommy
screamed.
Oliver left the house with Clara on his heels. As soon as
they left the gate, Clara begged.
“I am so sorry…please…”
“No wonder Rose called you a fool…” Oliver said in anger.
Clara stopped short and said nothing. Oliver turned to face
her.
“I am sorry…” He said. “I’m just so angry….I’ve never
been so embarrassed in my entire life…who does she think she is? I mean…I respect parents but that mother of yours is something else…my God! How have you lived with her all these years?”
Clara  began to cry and Oliver took her hands in his.
“I am so sorry that you had to live through this kind of treatment
from that woman you call your mother. I also understand that you do not want a
broken home or family but that woman can’t continue treating you like that…it’s
too demeaning…” Oliver said.
Clara nodded and said nothing.
“Let’s walk to the estate gate, I’ll take a bus from
there….” Oliver said.
Clara nodded and together, they walked down
the road.
********

“Why did you let her into this house in my absence?” Clara’s
father barked.
“Oga…I dey sorry sir…I dey sorry…” The gate man knelt
down in pleas.
“How could you?” Clara’s father shouted and addressing
Clara, he shouted further. “Why did you come home at the time you did? If you
were at the clinic, she wouldn’t have found the door open…”
“I am sorry daddy…” Clara muttered.
Aunt Cassie, patted Clara’s father’s thighs and said.
“It’s okay dear…don’t worry yourself….it was all a
mistake and it won’t happen next time.”
“It’s just that I am so disappointed, in Clara most especially
because she knows that her step-mom left the house for the past three months
and there’s been no discussion for a reconciliation…”
“Clara is a young girl, you can’t burden her with marital
problems…” Aunt Cassie said.
Clara wasn’t in the least relieved, Aunt Cassie was still an
usurper as far as she was concerned.
“Go to your room now!” Her father barked.
Clara nodded and left the sitting room, as she was leaving the sitting room, she heard aunt Cassie say.
“You know we don’t need this kind of negative energy as we are
planning for the wedding…”
Clara’s eyes almost bulged out of its sockets.”Wedding?” She
froze.
*******

Kendra has spent the better part of the day crying. She had
locked herself in closet and wept as though her entire life was crashing down.
Emerald and Zika had knocked at the closet door to see if she was okay but she
didn’t respond, by the time their mother came back and they told her, she was
too preoccupied with the things she had seen at her husband’s clinic to pay any
heed.
Kendra replayed the video she had seen in Emeka’s phone in her head, and she began to cry
again, she had tossed it all for him. She had given him herself and it was all
for a bet? She wanted to die. She looked at her phone and pressed the dial
button in a bid to call his number again, his name filled her call log as she
had called and called but he wasn’t answering.
“Where did I go wrong? Was it wrong to love you? Oh my God!”
She cried louder.
“Kendra!” Her mother called, knocking at the closet door. “Kendra
open up….that closet is stuffy and you could choke.”
Kendra quickly wiped her tears, she couldn’t afford to tell
her mother what was wrong with her. She pushed open the door of the closet and
stepped out. Her mom looked at her, she too had red eyes.
“Mom, are you okay?” Kendra asked.
“Yea…I’m fine…how are you? What’s going on?” Mommy
asked.
“Nothing…I…just felt so sad about everything and the
fact that we are in this house. I want to go home…” Kendra lied.
Her mother hugged her closely.
“I am sorry my dear.”
“Did you talk to daddy? Please mom, talk to him….tell him
that we want to come home…please…” Kendra cried.
“I….don’t think we’re going back. I went home today to
take most of our stuff…” Her mom sniffed.
Kendra broke the hug in anger.
“What? Mom! What are you doing?”
“Kendra listen to me, Clara has turned your dad against us.”
Her mother said.
“Clara?”
“Yes…she connived with her friend to bring her aunt into
your dad’s life.” Her mom said.
“I don’t understand. How do you know Clara’s friend’s aunt?”
“Well, one day…some time ago, I was jogging in the morning
when a woman jogged up beside me and introduced herself as my daughter’s
friend. I asked her which daughter as I had more than one and she said
Clara….I quickly told her that she was my step-daughter and the woman said
that her niece is Clara’s friend. The woman dressed so cheaply so, I snubbed her. Fast-forward to today when I paid your dad a visit at his clinic and….and…” Her mother
looked at her. “I shouldn’t be telling you this…” She cried.
“Clara? How could she? She’s so ungrateful…” Kendra said.
“Yes…she’s too ungrateful. She’s bitten the fingers that fed
her and I promise that she’ll regret it.”
“Mom, we need to do something. We need to fight to get daddy
back …”
“I don’t know how to and besides, if I do….I don’t want
Clara in that house because she’s the cause of it all.”
Kendra nodded.
“I’ll talk to daddy myself, after school tomorrow…” Kendra
said.
********

James couldn’t wait for school tomorrow, at least, his four
thousand naira was waiting for him. He imagined handing the money over to
Jezebel and the look of satisfaction on her face and smiled. They had arrived
Lagos that evening and he was hell bent on seeing Jezebel after a long time
away from her so, he picked up the leftover of the pocket money he’s father had
handed him in Kaduna and left the house.
The night breeze touched his face as he headed to the
prostitutes place. He arrived there and was surprised to see it empty. He went
to the door of the bar and found it locked with a huge padlock.
“Na who you dey find?” A scruffy voice asked.
“I…I’m looking for a friend..” He murmured, backing away
from the door.
“A friend?” The voice asked.
James turned to look in the direction of the voice, all he
saw was darkness and a small red glow of light which signalled a cigarette.
“Don’t worry, I’ll come another time.”
“Where you think say you dey go?” The voice asked, now
sounding angry.
“I’m going home I…” James started.
“Wetin you bring come?”
“No…nothing…” He stammered.
“But you come carry woman na….how you fit come hia without
money?”
“I…I…” James stammered.
A lone figure jumped down from a run-down vehicle beside the bar and
hurried up to him, when the man reached James, he quickly began searching his
pockets.
“You nor wan cooperate abi?” The man said gruffly yanking
out the money from James pockets.
James was too shaken to speak.
“Oya dey go…nor look back ooo…if na dem prostitutes wey
full hia you dey find, dem don carry dem go station. Police don arrest dem…”
The man said.
As soon as the man finished speaking, James fled for his
dear life.

To be continued tomorrow….

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