Jessica hopped into the office with an umbrella for support,
she smiled politely at her colleagues and waved at those who asked questions.
Her ankle hurt badly and she didn’t know how to tell anyone that she’d had a
bad fall all because she’d been snooping on her husband.

Queen had just sent her email to the Human Resources
department and was on her way there to speak with the manager when she saw
Jessica hop in.
“My good Lord! What happened?” Queen asked in concern.
“It’s a long story…” Jessica said wincing in pain.

“Are you in a good condition to work? Shouldn’t you be
resting at home?” Queen asked.
“I feel so ashamed of myself.” Jessica said. “You won’t
believe the reason I’m in this condition.”
Queen looked at her questioningly.
“You see…last night…” Jessica started.
At that moment, the human resources manager walked down the
stairs with her bag as though in a hurry.
“Hold that thought…I need to see Mrs Ariyike…” Queen
said and hurried off after the woman.
Jessica nodded and made her way towards their department and
soon found her way to her desk.
“Jessie…are you okay?” Ronald, a colleague asked.
“I’m fine…I just fell down the stairs of my house. I was
so clumsy.” She lied.
“Oh okay…do take care of yourself.” He said and walked
away.
Jessica nodded and sighed. Her phone rang and she saw that
it was her husband calling. She pressed the ignore button.
“He must think I’m a fool!” She muttered. “Imagine him,
renting an apartment somewhere in Lagos….I will get to the bottom of all
this. I will find out what you’re hiding, Zach, once and for all.” She said as
she opened her bag and brought out the receipt of payment for the house.
Meanwhile, Queen was speaking with the human resources
manager.
“I’m so sorry about your loss….I received the email but I
had no idea that you have to leave for Benin as early as today.”
“My husband just called me and told me that his father will
be buried tomorrow. I need to be there. I guess, his family had to make hasty
decisions as to the burial arrangement of their dad.”
“It’s okay, as long as you return to work on Monday, I am
fine with that.”
“Thank you so much Mrs. Aryike…thank you.” Queen said in
gratitude as she made her way back to her office.
She got into her department and quickly rushed to her desk.
Her phone rang and she picked the call.
“Hello honey…”
“Were you able to get permission?” Zach asked.
“Yes honey…I was…I am just clearing my desk. As soon as
I’m done, I’d rush to Junior’s school and pick him up.” She said.
As she spoke, Jessica limped up towards her with the
umbrella in her hand.
“Are you going somewhere?” Jessica asked.
Queen was still on the phone with her husband and she heard
the slight catch in her husband’s voice. She quickly nodded.
“Where to? Are you coming back today?” Jessica asked.
“No…I’m…” Queen started answering when she heard her
husband’s voice over the phone.
“Don’t tell anyone where you’re off to. Can’t you keep a
secret? Are the first woman with a colleague?” He spat at her.
Queen was stunned, she had no idea what to say. Her husband
had obviously overheard Jessica’s question.
“Lemme end my call and I’ll talk to you.” Queen said quickly
to Jessica.
Jessica nodded and limped back towards her seat.
“Why did you speak to me like that?” Queen asked softly.
“I heard your colleague ask you a question and if I hadn’t
interrupted, you’d have told her everything.”
“I already told the human resources manager about your dad’s
burial, why can’t I tell my colleague? Besides, she’s bound to find out sooner
or later.”
“Queen darling…” Zach said trying to control his anger.
“It’s my father’s death that we’re talking about and not yours or anyone else’s.
I have the right to ask for discretion and privacy as regards my family
matters.”
“It’s okay, I have a lot to tidy up. The flight you booked
is at two pm and I need to hasten things up in order for us to catch our
flight.” She said.
As soon as she hung up, she picked up her bag from her desk
and headed towards the exit.
“Queen, you haven’t told me where you’re headed.” Jessica
asked from her desk.
“I’ll tell you when I get back on Monday. I’m sorry I’m in
such a rush…” Queen said and left the office.
Jessica stared as Queen left the office and her gaze went to
the receipt of payment on her desk. She had wanted to share her findings with
Queen and ask if she was making the right choice in deciding to visit the house
just to see who was there. She sighed and focused on her work.
*****************
Ella was worried; Lola had left the house yesterday and
hadn’t returned. She’d just spoken with her husband and he was worried too.
“I have been home all day and she’s not here yet.” He’d
said. “Do we need to call the police?”
“The police? Ha! I dunno…I mean…we really have to be
sure that she’s really missing before getting the police involved.”
“Yes, that’s true. If she’s not home by evening…I’ll
report at the police station.”
“Okay…” She’d said.
Now, as she sat at her office canteen and ate her lunch, she
wondered where Lola was. She was scared. She was just about to place one spoon
of food into her mouth when her phone rang. It was her father.
“Hello darling.”
“Hi daddy, good afternoon.” She greeted.
“You don’t sound too happy, are you okay?” Her father asked.
“I’m a little disturbed dad, the lady that stays with me is
missing.”
“A lady stays with you?” Her father asked in surprise.
“Yes dad…she’s my husband’s relative and she’s pregnant.”
“Are you serious? What happened?”
“She left yesterday on an errand and we haven’t seen her
since.”
“Are you sure she’s not with her family? Have you called
your husband’s relatives?” He asked.
“No…not yet…I don’t want to scare them.”
“I think the first thing to do is to call your husband’s
relatives and ask if she’s with them.”
“That’s so true daddy! I’ll do just that.”
“Don’t stress yourself so much my dear.” Her father said to
her.
Ella and her father discussed at length before she dropped
the call.  As soon as she ended the call,
she searched for her mother in-law’s number and dialled it.
“My daughter…how are you? I was wondering when you were
going to call and ask me about my welfare.” Her mother in-law said.
“I’m sorry I haven’t called…I’ve been so busy. How are you
ma?” Ella asked.
“I am well…how are you and how’s married life?”
“I’m fine and married life is good but…there’s been a lot
on my mind.”
“A lot on your mind? Did something happen? I hope that you
and Jacob are living peacefully.”
“Yes ma…we are. The thing is, Lola is missing ma.”
“Lola? Who’s Lola?”
“Yes ma…you remember her right? Jacob said she’s your
relative.”
“What Lola are you talking about?” Her mother in-law asked.
“The Lola who’s pregnant and living the house with Jacob and
I.”
“Ha! First of all, we don’t have any relatives with the name
Lola and secondly, I don’t know what you’re talking about. All our pregnant
relatives are in their homes with their husbands.”
Ella was worried about her mother in-law’s response.
“I…I…thought she’s a relative. Jacob told me that she’s
a relative…” Ella said in shock.
“My dear, I think there’s a mix-up somewhere. We have a lot
of relatives but I know everyone by name and none of them goes by the name,
Lola.”
Ella was tongue-tied, she remembered Lola’s bold effrontery
some days ago when she’d claimed that the child she was carrying was Jacob’s.
Was that the real truth? Has Jacob been lying to her all along?
“Ella…Ella…are you still there?” Her mother in-law
asked.
“Mum…can…I…call…you back?” Ella stammered and hung
up.
She closed her eyes and her mouth stood wide open in
disbelief.
Who was Lola and what was she doing in her matrimonial home?

 

To be continued tomorrow….

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