As soon as Cherry’s mother’s words left her mouth, Mitch’s
family turned to stare at her in surprise. Cherry’s heart beat frantically in
her chest and she suddenly wanted to die and get over with life.
“He’s dead?” Mitch’s mother asked in shock.
“No, he’s not but he’s dead to us, at least to me and my
children.” Cherry’s mother said looking at Cherry angrily.
Cherry felt her heart slow down for a minute.
“Well…it’s a family thing…we…we don’t talk about
it…” Cherry said quickly. “But my dad is definitely not dead to me…”
“I’m not against any of my kids, accepting their father,
besides, he’s still their dad and they bear his last name.” Cherry’s mother
said.

Cherry closed her eyes in gratitude, she didn’t know what was
going on but something told her that Mitch’s family’s sudden interest in her
was not because they wanted her for her son but because they were trying to
prove something.
“I’ll go inside and change…” Cherry said with a smile.
“Mom, could you please come with me?”
Her mom nodded slowly and stood up, smiling at her guests
and following her daughter into her room.
As soon as Cherry closed the door to her room, her mother
yelled at her.
“You told them what? That your dad came back to ask for your
forgiveness?”
“Shhhh…the walls have ears, mom.” Cherry said.
“Cherry, have I or have I not warned you about stringing two
men along?”  Her mother asked.
“Yes you have mom and I swear I wanted to end things between
one of the guys and I but…”
“But what? Why do you want to have your cake and eat it?
This is not right and you know it. Now, Mitch’s family have come to begin
arrangements for your marriage to their son. They are talking of setting a date
for the introduction at the middle of this month.”
“Well…let them…” Cherry said.
“Let them what? Aren’t you still engaged to Sean?”
Cherry looked at her mother and Sean’s face flashed before
her eyes, she didn’t want to lose him.
“Look mom, I got this okay…don’t worry about me.”
“Why won’t I worry? You are my daughter and you’re digging a
pit for yourself. Do you know what this could cost you? You could end up losing
the two men.”
Cherry didn’t speak.
“Cherry, let’s end this here and now. Decide who you love
the most of the two men. If it’s Mitch, then we can both go into the sitting
room and happily set a date for your introduction but if it’s Sean, then, let’s
go together into that sitting room and tell Mitch’s family that you have
someone else.”
Cherry looked away, she wasn’t ready to do that.
“Cherry!”
“I’ve got this mom, I said, I’ve got this!” She snapped.
Her mother looked at her and shook her head.
“Where did I go wrong in bringing you up? Where did I fail
you as a mother?”
“You didn’t go wrong with anything, mom.”
“Now I see where you took this greedy trait of yours from.
It’s from your father.”
“Oh c’mon mom, let’s drop his subject already!”
“Drop his subject? You already brought it up. Mitch’s family
thinks he is somehow back into our lives. How did that happen? How did they
think of such thing?”
“Mom, please just go to the sitting room and play along with
whatever they want. If they want to set a date for the introduction, let them
do it…like I said earlier, I’ve got this.” Cherry said.
Her mother shook her head and left the room, as soon as she
left, Cherry drew in a deep breath. She dropped her handbag on the bed, zipped
it open and brought out her phone only to see that she had six missed calls
from Sean. She quickly called him back.
“Hey baby…”
“What in the world is wrong with you? Where have you been?”
Sean spat over the phone.
“I…I…was…I left the phone in my bag and it was on
silent mode, I’m sorry.” She said silently.
“Okay…where are you?” His said calmly.
“I just got home and I’m about to shower and sleep.”
“I need you to come over.” He said.
“Come over? Right now? I’ve gotten home already and…”
“Cherry, I am your fiancé…is this the way you’re going to pay
me back for taking good care of you? I recall that before I got you a car, you
jumped buses to get home but now, all you need to do is drive and you’re home.
I provide enough money for you by giving you monthly allowances and all I ask
for in return is that you show me love and care.”
“I know but…”
“Should I come over? Because if you don’t come, I’ll come
over.” He said.
Cherry sighed, she didn’t know the excuse she’d make up for
Mitch’s family.
“Okay…but is anything wrong? Can’t this wait till
tomorrow?” She asked sweetly.
“I want to see my fiancé now and no, it can’t wait.” He
said. “When do I expect you?”
“In the next thirty minutes or thereabout…” She said
resignedly.
“That’s my girl!” He said and hung up.
Cherry was confused, what was she going to tell Mitch’s
family? What were the best excuses to make? She rolled her eyes and fell on her
bed exasperated.
**********
Madu walked into his house with his daughter and in an hour,
he had packed up some of their clothes and their things. Kamsi watched him as
he packed their stuff, she wasn’t happy so she didn’t speak.
“Should we take Lulu or should we leave her here?” Madu
asked his daughter referring to her rag doll.
She shrugged.
“Okay then…we’ll leave her here.” Her father said and kept
the doll on his daughter’s mattress.
“You’re wicked! You want Lulu to be here all by herself and
it’s not fair.” Kamsi said bitterly.
“Kamsi! What has gotten into you? Why are you saying such
hurtful things? Don’t let me bring my cane.” He warned.
Kamsi burst into tears, it was the fifth time she was crying
that day.
“I know you’re not happy but ….” He started.
“We’re never coming back here right? And mommy is never
coming back.” She cried. “Our lives are going to change…”
“We are coming back here and nothing is changing! I thought
I explained it to you that auntie Anita is scared in her big house and begged
us to come and stay with her for a while. That’s why we’re moving.”He said.
“I don’t want to stay in her house. I want to stay here and
wait for mommy to come home.” His daughter said stubbornly.
Madu heaved a deep sigh, he had begged, cajoled and
threatened his daughter to accept the fact that they might never live together
as a family again but she apparently wasn’t listening. His phone chose that
moment to ring and his heart wished that it was his wife, calling to apologise.
“It’s mommy!” His daughter said with hope.
He pulled out the phone from his pocket and saw that it was
his aunt, his heart sank.
“Hello, auntie…good evening ma.”
“Kedu? How are you my son?” His aunt’s voice floated down
the line.
“I’m fine…how are you ma?”
“I am well…thank you for all the money you’ve been
sending.” She said. “How’s my grand-daughter?”
“She’s fine ma…”
“Is everything alright?”
“Yes, everything is fine.” Madu lied.
“Don’t deceive an old woman, I can sense that something is
not right.” She said.
“Is it your dreams again?” He inquired.
“Nooo…I have not been dreaming at all but I just feel so
sad most of the time as though something is very wrong and whenever I feel like
that, I think of you. Are you okay?”
“I am fine auntie…”
“How’s Stella?”
“She’s fine.” Madu said quickly.
“Hmmm…okay…if you say so. Maybe I’m getting paranoid…”
She said. “Is Kamsi there? I want to speak with her?”
Madu beckoned to Kamsi to come closer to him.
“Come and greet mama.” He said.
Kamsi walked over to her father and took the phone from him.
“Good evening mama.” She greeted.
“My darling…how are you? How is school?”
“Fine…”
“What is wrong? You don’t sound too happy…are you alright?”
Kamsi looked at her father and he gave her a warning glare.
“Nothing is wrong, I just came back from school.” She said.
“My dear baby, you will excel in all you do in Jesus name.
Don’t worry, soon, you will have other brothers and sisters to play with so you’re
not alone.”
Kamsi handed the phone over to her father wordlessly and
watched him speak to his aunt for a while longer before hanging up the call.
“You were smart not to say anything to upset mama…you know
she won’t like to hear that your mommy left the house.”
“Daddy, how will I have brothers and sisters if mommy is not
living with us?”
His head snapped as he looked at his daughter.
“Where’s that coming from?” He asked.
“Mama said that soon I’ll have siblings to play with.” She
said.
At that moment, the pregnancy Stella had desperately wanted
to get rid of crossed his mind. Madu shut his eyes in pain as he hoped his wife
hadn’t done anything stupid.
***********
Cherry walked into Sean’s house and quietly shut the door
close, she had made up a cock and bull story of having been summoned by her
boss at work to have escaped Mitch’s family who were at her house. On her way
to see Sean, Mitch had called, excited that his family as over at her place and
he expressed disappointment that he wasn’t there with them as he was working late
at the office.
“My family are so delighted about us and want us to speed up
the wedding plans.” He had said excitedly.
“Yes, I’m excited too.”
“Are my family members still at your house? I want to know
if they’ll be there for long so that I can see if I can make it to your place
fast.”
“Don’t worry honey…just do your work.” She had said as she
drove her car down the express way.
“Are you at your home?”
“Yes I am.” She’d lied.
“How I wish I were there right now, staring into your eyes.”
He’d said.
Cherry quickly cut his long story short.
“Lemme go and quickly have a bath…” She had said.
Now, as she walked up the stairs to Sean’s bedroom, she
wondered why he wanted to see her. She didn’t bother knocking but pushed the
door open; he seemed to be in the shower so she walked over to sit on his bed.
“Who’s there?” He called out from the bathroom.
“It’s me babe…”
“Oh good…I was wondering if you’ll ever make it here on
time.” His words floated out to her.
She looked to side stool and saw a day old newspaper which
had a headline emblazoned at the front.
‘POLICE SEARCHES FOR THE NOTORIOUS GANG OF ROBBERS THAT ROBBED THE INTERNATIONAL BANK OF A WHOOPING FIFTY MILLION NAIRA!’

She sighed and read through the story, she recalled hearing
about the robbery on the radio the day she had come to her fiance’s house to
find him wounded. As she read, her hand groped about for the side drawer and
she pulled it open, hoping that he had ear cotton buds in it. Her hand touched
something cold and she startled and looked into the drawer. Her heart nearly missed
a beat. Inside the drawer were three guns and some other dangerous looking
ammunition. Her eyes flashed to the headline of the newspaper before her and to
the gun in the drawer. Something clicked in her head. Immediately, her eyes
scanned the newspaper article.
‘The
gang of robbers stormed the bank premises at three pm that fateful afternoon
after gunning down the police officers at the front of the bank. During the
crossfire between the police and the gang of robbers, one of the robbers was
said to have been hit but he narrowly escaped. Blood splatter decorated the
entrance of the bank as three of the bank security officers were shot dead at
the spot.’

Cherry suddenly found that she was having difficulty breathing;
her hands shook as the paper was splayed on her laps and the drawer with the
guns, still open.
The door to the bathroom opened and Sean walked out towelling
his body, dry.
“Baby…I…” He started but froze when he saw the drawer
open as well as the newspaper on her lap.
“You…you’re an armed robber? You robbed a bank?” She asked
in shock.
Sean had a furious look in his eyes, he walked up to her,
snatched up the newspaper and shut the drawer closed.
“Don’t you dare repeat this rubbish, outside of here.” He
warned.
She looked at him, his wounds were still bandaged and the
bandages were wet with water from the shower. What had she gotten herself into?
“I think…think…I’m….about to …lose…my mind…” She
said shakily. 
“You…your…money…all…you’ve…been…showering …on
me…has been stolen…money? How could you? Why did you?”
“Cherry…” He called out to her in a cajoling tone as he
reached out for her.
“No! Don’t touch me! No!” Cherry screamed, jumping off the
bed and running to stand by the wall.
 “I should have suspected…everyone…spoke
about the robbery…and how you guys carted away with millions. This explains
it right? Everything makes sense…the fact that you give me cash and never
transferred money into my account. The fact that cash is always everywhere in
your house…I…can’t believe this…” She said as tears fell from her eyes.
“Cherry! Listen to me, it’s time you pulled yourself
together!” He said.
“Pull myself together? You’re a thief! My fiancé is an armed
robber and a killer!” She said and burst into tears.
“If you say this outside, you’re going down with me.” He
warned.
“That’s not possible! I have never stolen or killed or
robbed…I have never soiled my hands with blood…”
“Well, that’s true but since you took care of my gun wounds
and know who I truly am, then you are an accomplice!”
Cherry’s eyes widened as she desperately hoped she was
dreaming.

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