Fred walked into his parents’ mansion, reminiscing over his meeting with Bisiola. He’d liked her on sight and that wasn’t typically his kind of style. In the past, it took him quite a while to fall in love with a woman but with Bisola, it had happened so fast. Was it love or infatuation? He really couldn’t tell the difference. All he knew was that he really liked her. She had been gracious enough to give him her phone number especially after he’d paid her bills and as he’d watched her leave the mall with her son, something tugged at him.
Fred looked up to see his dad hurrying down the stairs of the house.
“Hey dad.” He greeted.
“I expected you home sooner.” His father said to him.
“I’m really sorry dad…I stepped out briefly and I lost track of time.”
“Really?” His father said suggestively.
Fred and his dad had a kind of relationship where there regarded each other as buddies rather than father and son.
“You caught a fish didn’t you?” His father said suggestively.
“Dad, do you still refer to women as fishes? That’s wrong!” Fred said with a smile.
“I just asked an innocent question…” His father said with a smile.
“You know what dad? I seemed to have forgotten how many beautiful women we have in this country. I regret leaving for the US.”
“That’s good to hear. I hope the next time we have a conversation like this, you’ll have bought an engagement ring.”
Fred threw back his head and laughed.
“You are my only son, Fred and I want you to be happy. I mean it.” His father stressed.
“I know dad.” Fred said with a smile.
“So, are you ready to take over the reins of the company from Samuel?” His father said.
“Yup! I’ll be there on Monday right?” Fred asked.
“Yes you are and everyone is expecting the change in management. You didn’t leave Nigeria seven years ago to school and work abroad for nothing. ZELTEC is one of my IT firms and I want it to be the biggest in Nigeria and you are the ideal man to handle it.”
Fred smiled at his dad, he was glad that he trusted him so much.
Bisiola entered her bedroom and kicked off her shoes, then jumped on her bed in glee. The thoughts of Fred made her giddy with excitement.
“Oh my gosh! He’s so handsome and well-mannered. That man is a catch!” She said breathlessly.
There was a short rap at her door and her friend walked in.
“Emem! I thought you’d already left.” Bisiola said.
“Are you sending me away? I told you that I wanted to watch movies in your house and that I was thinking of spending the night here too.” Emem said.
“What of your fiancé? Isn’t he going to be worried about you?” Bisiola asked.
“You’re obviously trying to send me away from your house.” Emem said sourly.
“No, of course not.” Bisiola said with a smile. “Guess what? I saw a hot dude at the mall and do you know what else? He didn’t care that I am a single mom because he was so drawn to me, plus he paid for my shopping. He even gave me his number.
“Wow! What’s his name?”
“Fred.” Bisola said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Didn’t you get a last name? We would have stalked him on the internet.” Emem suggested.
“There’s no need to stalk this guy because he’s just got back to Nigeria and he doesn’t have a girlfriend.”
“Are you serious?” Emem asked.
“Yup! I am so thrilled. I’m sure he’s going to ask me out.”
Emem looked at her friend incredulously.
“Are you out of your mind? How can you handle two relationships at a time? Bruce is head over heels in love with you and…”
“He has a wife, dummy! I want to get married too…I want an engagement party and a grand wedding. I don’t want to be a baby mama and Bruce’s mistress for the rest of my life.”
“You should have thought of that when he started investing in you. Have you seen your bank account lately? Bruce gives you a whooping monthly allowance and he’s set up a very expensive restaurant for you in the heart of Lekki.”
“So?” Bisiola said.
“He deserves your loyalty.”
“Are you deaf? He’s married.”
“If you want him to marry you, why not ask him to?”
“No! I’m not interested in marrying him anymore. I want a young man, someone close to my age.” Bisiola said. “Besides, I don’t think he’s ready to like that pig-faced wife of his.”
“Did you swallow some kind of insane pills? Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Emem, the least you can do is be happy for me besides, Fred and I just met and we haven’t started anything yet. Why are you already against something that hasn’t developed wings yet?”
“You’re right…I’m sorry.” Emem said.
“So, tell me. What are the plans for your upcoming nuptials?” Bisiola asked.
Emem’s face widened into a smile as she began telling her friend, all of her plans.
Chioma alighted from the taxi cab with the baby in her arms, she had left the hospital without giving the doctor a chance to discharge her. She made sure she settled the hospital bills and in conjunction with the nurse, she’d erased her real house address and wrote a fake one in her hospital file as well as a fake number too. These were precautions she took just in case the doctor began to ask questions about the sex of the other woman’s baby. The nurse had told her that another doctor was on call for the day so it made it quite easier to pass off her baby girl as the woman’s. The nurse also made changes to the case file of the other woman where the doctor had written that the baby was a boy and not a girl.
Holding the baby with one hand, she took out her bag with difficulty.
“Na wah ooo madam…how pesin nor come with you na?” The taxi driver asked in sympathy. He helped her carry the bag.
“Thank you sir…” Chioma said and made her way towards her flat with the driver in tow.
Chioma rang the bell of her downstairs flat three times before it was answered by her husband’s niece.
“Auntie…” The girl said in shock. “I didn’t know you’d be back today.”
“Open the door. So, you people don’t know that you have a baby waiting at the hospital.” She spat.
“Mummy!” Her girls sang as they ran to the balcony and waited for Kamsi, Chioma’s husband’s niece to open the burglary proof door.
“Where is your uncle?” Chioma asked.
“He went out.” Kamsi said.
When the door was finally opened, the girl took the bag from the taxi driver and Chioma made her way into the house.
“Let me see the baby.” Her first daughter said in excitement.
“Can I carry her?” Her second daughter said.
Chioma’s heart twisted within her, she looked at her second daughter sharply and spat.
“What do you mean by can I carry her? It’s not a girl, it’s a boy.” Chioma said.
The girls’ eyes widened and so did her husband’s niece.
“A boy? We have a brother?” Her first daughter asked.
“Yes my darling, you have a brother.” Chioma said.
“Let me bring the baby bassinet so that you can lay him there.” Kamsi said excitedly as she ran into the room.
Chioma wanted to tell Kamsi to call her uncle and tell him the good news but she thought better of it. She was going to make sure her husband treated her like a queen for giving him a son and also, she was going to make him pay dearly for all the hurtful things he’d said to her during her pregnancy. Chioma adjusted herself on the chair and revealed the baby’s face for her daughters to see. Her first and third daughters were ecstatic but her second, wasn’t.
“That’s not my brother.” Her second daughter, Chloe said.
Chioma looked at her daughter in anger.
“What do you mean by that? You know that you’re such a jealous child, right?” She spat.
“I don’t like the baby, he’s not my brother.” Chloe stressed.
Chioma held the baby close to her with her left hand and slapped her daughter on the cheek with her right hand.
“Are you mad? Is something wrong with you? I don’t want to hear that rubbish from your mouth again or else…” She warned.
Chloe began to cry and walked over to take a seat on another sofa in the sitting room. Chioma stared at her daughter, she was tensed. What did her daughter’s words mean? She thought. Should she be scared?
Ochuko stared at the engagement ring for the umpteenth time on Monday morning while on her way to work. She didn’t give Vuoke an answer but she’d told him that she was going to think about it. She didn’t tell her parents anything about the proposal.
“Think about it?” Vuoke had spat at her, looking as enraged as a tiger.
“Yes…please…lemme think about it…” She’d stammered.
“What do you mean by that? It took me a while to decide that you are the woman I want as my wife and here you are, telling me rubbish about having to think about it.” He’d snapped.
“I’m sorry you feel that way but…but…I have to speak with my parents first.” She’d lied. “In my tradition, ladies don’t just accept rings without informing their parents.”
“So, when do I get an answer?” Her boyfriend had spat impatiently.
“By Tuesday…maybe. My dad travelled and he’s not back yet.” She’d lied.
“Okay then…” He didn’t look too happy. “Don’t keep me waiting.” He’d said.
He’d signalled the waiter for the bill and they’d left abruptly.
Now, as Ochuko stared at the ring in her hands as the company bus took her and her colleagues to work, she sighed. The seat beside her was vacant thankfully or she’d have to explain what an engagement ring was doing with her to a nosy seatmate.
They all reached the office at seven thirty am and alighted. As soon as she stepped in to sign in, she heard the whispers from her colleagues.
“What’s going on?” She asked inquisitively.
“Our boss’s son has arrived and Mr. Samuel doesn’t look too happy about it.” A colleague told her.
“Why? We all knew that someday, power will change hands and that Samuel was just acting GMD.” She said.
“I know but…” Her colleague started but stopped when Mr. Samuel walked into the reception stiffly with a very good-looking man.
“Is that the boss’s son?” Ochuko asked with eyes wide.
“Yes, I think that’s him.” Her colleague said.
“He’s handsome.” Ochuko blurted.
Everywhere went silent, everyone turned to look at Ochuko. Apparently, she’d voiced her opinion about the new boss, too loudly. Ochuko wanted the ground to open up so that she’d jump right in.
“Ahem…” Mr Samuel cleared his throat. “Please give a warm welcome to Mr. Fred Oliha, he is the new GMD of the company.”
Everyone clapped their hands while Ochuko felt as though something hot was burning inside her. She saw the new boss give her an amusing look and she blushed.
“He is owns part of the company with his father and he is here to take his rightful position. Please accord him the respect he deserves.” Mr. Samuel said almost angrily.
Fred smiled at the staff and spoke.
“Good morning everyone.”
“Good morning sir.” The staff responded.
“My name is Fred and I’d like everyone to refer to me as Fred and not ‘sir’ or ‘Sir Fred’. I enjoy a conducive working environment and I’d like everyone to know that I operate an open door policy. I would also like to hear from all of you from time to time as we share the same work space.”
Ochuko cleared her throat with difficulty, she liked the new boss.
“So, I’ll like everyone to tell me their names…” Fred started.
Ochuko stared at the ground while her colleagues introduced themselves one after the other. When it got to her turn, she simply said.
“My name is Ochuko.”
“I’m glad someone thinks I’m handsome.” Fred teased.
Ochuko blushed and everyone laughed, she hadn’t expected that he’d heard what she’d said.
“Everyone, get to work. We have a busy day.” Samuel said quickly, he looked quite annoyed.
As Ochuko left the reception, she wondered why her heart couldn’t stop beating fast.
Chioma raised her legs on the sofa in the sitting room and watched her husband run about to do her bidding. She could forget the surprise on his face when he’d arrived at the house on Saturday to find her there with his son. He had been enthralled. He had called all his relatives on the phone to relay the good news and also, he had set a date for the dedication of the baby. He had also promised her a new car as the one she used was quite faulty, Chioma felt like a queen in her own kingdom.
“The girls are so excited to name him.” Her husband said, bringing a plate of fried eggs to her.
“Yes, they are but I told them that since he’s your first son, you should have to name him.” Chioma said with a smile.
“I told Chloe that she could name him if she wants but she refused. I think she’s jealous but that doesn’t make sense because she has a younger sister, and she wasn’t jealous when she was born.”
Chioma’s heart skipped a beat.
“Pay no attention to Chloe, she’s just being naughty.”
“Well…I guess children have their own issues.” Her husband said, giving her a kiss on the lips. “Aren’t we supposed to go to the hospital for his circumcision?” He asked.
“Yes we are…I actually thought it’s supposed to be after seven days but what do I know?”
“Okay, let’s get ready so that we can take him to the hospital.” Her husband said. “We don’t know so much about baby boys since he’s our first so, we have to ask the doctor.”
“Honey, can we not go to the hospital where I gave birth to him?” She asked sweetly. “They didn’t take good care of me there and I left feeling very unhappy. Let’s take him to another hospital.”
“Okay then, just have breakfast and we’ll go to another hospital. If the doctor in the new hospital asks why we changed hospitals, we can tell him that we’re not satisfied with the other hospital’s quality of service.”
Chioma smiled and ate her breakfast.
An hour later, they were ready to leave and her husband carried the baby while she tagged behind. They opened the door and stepped out of the flat while Chioma locked the doors with a padlock.
“I was wondering, maybe we could get you a nanny….a baby nanny.” Her husband said.
Chioma smiled, she had always wanted to hire a nanny since she birthed her second child but her husband had been quick to refuse.
“Sure…I’d love that.” She said. She was so elated, it was as though she was floating on cloud nine.
They were heading towards the car when they saw a large van entering their compound.
“What’s going on?” Chioma asked.
“Someone’s finally moving into Augustine’s flat upstairs.” Her husband said referring to their former neighbour who has relocated to Abuja.
“Oh…really? So we have new neighbours then.” Chioma said with a smile.
“Yes, they actually started moving in yesterday.” Her husband said. “The moving van has to enter the compound properly or our car won’t be able to go out.”
Chioma nodded and watched the van enter the compound and park, making enough space for her husband’s car to pass through. She was about to get into the car when a couple caught her eye. A man and a woman walked into the compound holding a baby in their arms, they both looked very familiar.
Suddenly, she knew who they were. They were the same couple who had been at the hospital with her on the day of her delivery. The man was holding a baby in his arms while his wife walked into the compound slowly and with ease.
How could she forget such a striking couple? How could she forget the new parents of her daughter? Her eyes darted to the stolen son in her husband’s arms and she jumped into the car.
“Honey, let’s go! We’re going to be late.” She shouted.
To be continued next week….