Bisiola was in a rage, she drove her car like a maniac down the road while Emem sat in the front passenger seat, scared for her life.
“Calm down…Bisiola…calm down!”
“To hell with calm and all that’s attached to it.” Bisiola spat. “I swear I will kill her when I see her…I will kill her.” She gritted as tears threatened to spill.
“I’ve never seen you this way, please don’t get yourself worked up. For all we know, this might be nothing…”
Bisiola pressed the brakes and the car screeched to a halt at the middle of the road.
“Nothing? Emem are you stupid? Is something wrong with you? Are you crazy? Why in the world do you think that there’s nothing to be worried about? I know Fred and I know that he’s not the type to be with two women at the same time.”
“Don’t you see? You’ve said it yourself. He is not the type.”
“What I mean by that is that he’s tossed me aside and has taken the other woman under his wing.”
“That can’t be true. You’re his girlfriend, right? No sane man would start a relationship with another girl and not break off the one with the other.”
Cars horned behind them and Bisiola released her foot on the brake. Emem started breathing very easily, she was relieved that her friend was calmer.
“Do you know what? It’s pointless driving all around VI…I remember that he worked closely with a realtor for his new apartment. Errmmm….I think his name is Agunbiade…”
“Yes, I know him, Agunbiade Thomson. I remember that my fiancé used his services one time before he left for the UK, I can call him and ask for his contact details.” Emem said.
“You’ve just saved a soul, Emem.” Bisiola said.
Vuoke couldn’t believe what was happening, it was almost three pm and there were no signs of his wife to be. Her mother had collapsed a dozen times and was seated on a plastic chair outside the church and was fanned by Ochuko’s bosom friend, Zainab. The day had turned dark and gloomy for everyone as his sister had gone to the hall to announce that the wedding was not holding anymore, at least for now. She had given a flimsy excuse that Ochuko was rushed to the hospital because her bridal car had gotten in an accident.
“Ochuko…how dare you?” He gritted under his breath. “I swear I’ll kill you when I get my hands on you.”
He thought of places she could be but nothing came to his mind, then, he remembered the young man who had punched him in the face at the hospital. Ochuko never told him who the man was. Could it be that the man was her lover? Could it be that she was having an affair with him right under his nose? He shook his head in disbelief. And all the while, he’d thought he had her where he wanted her but obviously, that wasn’t so. Ochuko had a mind of her own.
Zainab walked up to him.
“Vuoke.” She said. “Perhaps it’s time to go…we’ve waited for hours already.”
“No one has the right to tell me when to go!” He spat at her.
Zainab took a step back, he looked at her and said.
“Where do you think she is? Take a wild guess.”
“I’d have said she’s at work but almost all her colleagues came for the wedding…I mean…the …” She started.
“Do you know anyone that’s closer to her than I am?” He asked, staring fixatedly at her.
“I don’t…I mean…no…” She stammered.
“Zainab, if you love your friend, you’ll tell me the truth. Did you see what commotion she caused here today? Her mother almost had a heart attack and her dad is pacing the compound of the church in worry. Even her siblings are worried.” He said looking at Amanda who was sitting on the pavement of the church, her face wet with tears and Princess who didn’t look in the least upset and who was occupied with her phone.
“Well…she has a friend but please don’t get mad at her.”
Vuoke looked at Zainab.
“A friend? Who is she?”
“It’s not a she…” Zainab said with lips trembling.
Vuoke’s eyes widened.
“She was cheating on me?” He asked loudly.
Some of his family and friends who were still at the church turned to look at him.
“She wasn’t.” Zainab said. “She just got so close to the guy and …”
“Where did they meet?”
“He’s actually her boss, his father owns her company.” She said.
Vuoke brought out his tablet and typed the name of Ochuko’s company on google search. Information about the company was displayed and pictures of the board of directors. He instantly recognized Fred from the hospital and he showed the picture to Zainab.
“Is he the one?” He asked pointing at the picture.
“Yes…I remember that she took a picture with him when they attended a conference together at Abuja.”
Vuoke gritted his teeth in silence. He stood up from the pavement, dusted the bottom of his trousers and headed towards his car which was decorated with ribbons and a sign which read, ‘Groom’. He got in, not minding the decorations and drove out of the church compound.
Ochuko loved Fred’s house, it was a true bachelor’s haven but there was something comfortable about it. The house was a three-bedroom semi-detached duplex. She curled her legs up on his sofa and changed the television channels. Fred stepped out into the sitting room and saw her watching TV.
“Are you okay now?” He asked.
She nodded and gave him a small smile.
“I have to be…” She said.
“Are you going to call your parents? They will be worried about you.” He said.
“I switched off my phone…I guess I’ll switch it on and send a text to Princess.” She said.
He nodded and took a seat beside her.
“I heard you speak with your girlfriend earlier.” She said. “It’s the same lady I saw at the airport some time, ago right?”
Fred didn’t look too pleased.
“I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m here…I’ll leave first thing tomorrow.”
“No, you’re not leaving.” He said.
“But…I don’t want to cause problems for you.”
“Cause problems? Of course not! You can stay here for as long as you want. In fact, I’m not letting you leave…until I’m sure that you have found a good place to stay.”
“But isn’t this sending the wrong signals? I mean…we’re both single and…”
The doorbell rang. They both turned to look at the door.
“I’m not expecting anyone.” He said as he stood up from the sofa and walked to get the door.
Ochuko dragged in a deep breath and cradled her head in her palms, she couldn’t believe that she’d walked away from what would have been the greatest mistake of her life. She felt a bit guilty for not feeling bad at all, in fact, she felt as though a heavy load had left her chest. She was so relieved.
The door opened and Fred exclaimed.
“Hey baby…” Fred’s mother said with a smile and made her way into his apartment. She saw Ochuko sitting on the couch and dressed in one of Fred’s shirts and his large pyjamas trousers and stopped. “Oh…I didn’t know you had company.”
Ochuko stood up hastily, she was a bit unnerved.
“Good afternoon…” She said quickly.
“Mom, meet Ochuko…she’s my friend.” He said making his way to Ochuko’s side.
His mother smiled at him.
“Oh…she’s the one, right? I’m sorry I met her before you officially introduced her to us.” She said and hurried to hug Ochuko. “Hello darling, welcome to the family.”
“Me? I…no…it’s not what you think…” Ochuko stammered.
“Don’t be shy, I’m sure Fred’s told you that I’m the trendiest mother alive and we’re super close so, there’s really nothing to hide. I like you already…you seem to be the shy sort…I’m sure we’re going to hit it off.”
Ochuko looked at Fred for help but he seemed to be enjoying every minute of her discomfort.
“You know son, I worry about you but now that Ochuko is here, I won’t worry anymore because you’re in good hands.” She said.
“Yes I am.” Fred said with a smile.
Ochuko gave him a glare and he winked at her.
“I haven’t seen the nook and cranny of the house yet and I’d love to see it. Do show me around, sonny. I’ll also have to give your dad the house address so that he can come pay you a visit, maybe today or tomorrow. I told Augustina to prepare some soups and stews for you so that you can store it in the freezer and warm it up when you’re hungry but I shouldn’t have bothered, since Ochuko is here, anyway. By the way darling, do you have a freezer? Should I order one for you? I know the best freezers…” Fred’s mother went on and on as she followed her son inside the house.
Ochuko stood there and stared, she didn’t know what to make of what had just happened. Fred’s mother thought she was his girlfriend and he’d played along. What in the world was he up to?
Lilian bought a flight ticket to Delta state, as she paid at the counter, she recalled her cousin’s words.
“You’re running a wild goose chase, Lilian. This baby is yours, she might look different from you and your husband but she’s a precious child and she’s yours.”
“I just want to prove to my husband that I never cheated on him…” She’d said to her.
As she made her way to the waiting area, she suddenly missed her daughter. She had left her in the care of her cousin and her mother. She’d grown so close to her baby that she was already feeling her absence.
‘Is my cousin saying the truth?’ She wondered. ‘Could it be that I’m running a wild goose chase? I really don’t know what to think, anymore.’
She took her seat alongside those waiting to board the plane. She felt so exhausted. Who would have thought that her nearly perfect family which was the envy of her friends and family would hit rock bottom this way? Who would have thought that there would come a time that her husband of seven years would doubt her? Life was filled with too many uncertainties. She brought out her phone and dialled her mom’s number, she needed to check up on her baby.
It was a few minutes after eight pm when Ochuko dialled her father’s number. It had hardly rung when she heard his voice floating down the line.
“Ochuko! Ochuko tell me you’re okay…” He said, his voice heavy with grief.
“Daddy…daddy, I’m fine…” She cried.
“Where are you? What happened? You didn’t show up at the church and we were worried.”
“I am sorry dad, it’s all my fault. I hid the truth from you guys and…and…I thought I could pull through with the wedding but…I deserve better…I won’t settle for less.”
“Can you trust me with the truth?” He asked.
“Vuoke…Vuoke beats me all the time, all those bruises, the wounds, everything…it was all him. I almost died because of him. Thanks to his beatings, I ended up at the hospital a few weeks ago.”
“What? Why didn’t you tell me? I would have…”
She heard her mother’s voice quickly replace her father’s.
“Ochuko, you’re a disgrace! I regret ever giving birth to you, Ochuko! How could you do this? Today of all days!” Her mother raved.
“Would you rather I die in Vuoke’s house all so that I get married?” Ochuko spat in anger. It was her first time of ever talking back at her mother.
“You’re lying against that poor innocent young man. Vuoke is a good man and I promise you that you will receive punishment for what you did to him.”
“So, you’d rather take sides with a man you don’t even know other than your own daughter?”
“If my daughter brings me shame and disgrace, yes! I will take his side over and over again.”
“Then mom, I have good news for you, you can go ahead and marry Vuoke! I’m sure you’ll both live happily ever after!” Ochuko spat and hung up the call.
She turned off her phone and flung it against the sofa, Fred had walked into the sitting room some minutes ago and he looked at her with pity.
The doorbell rang and he went to open the door.
As soon as he opened the door, Bisiola pushed the door wider and forced her way in.
“That ashawo is inside here abi? I want to show her the stuff I’m made of. No woman can ever steal my boyfriend…no woman!” She yelled.
Fred was stunned, he stared at her in disbelief.
“What are you doing here? Bisiola!” He demanded.
Ochuko stood up from the sofa and stared at the doorway, she saw Bisiola walk into the house and give her a very angry glare.
“Madam, you have to leave!” She said and points at Fred. “This man here, is taken!”
Ochuko didn’t know what to say, she just stared at her.
“You’re acting childish…pull yourself together. What is the matter with you? Bisiola!” He shouted at her.
“I am not listening to whatever rubbish you’re about to say. This whore must leave this house tonight or I’m burning this place down!”
Just then, Bruce walked into the house, he was surprised to see the door wide open.
“Son, what’s going on here?” He asked and turned to stare at the lady who was standing beside Fred.
Bisiola heard the voice and stopped talking, she turned and froze. Bruce saw her and was shocked, he stared at her questioningly.
‘What was Bruce doing here and did he just call Fred, son?’ She wondered. ‘Was she hallucinating or what?’
To be continued….