“Thank you for your patronage, madam.” Naomi smiled warmly at the customer that was leaving her new store, even as she noticed the black Lexus F sport car pulled up in front of her shop.
“You are welcome. You have great things here and your prices are reasonable and affordable.” The elderly woman nodded with approval as she looked around before reaching for the door handle.
“I appreciate the feedback. We hope to improve more on our service. Have a great day ma!” She beamed as she watched Salmon locked up the car. The customer left and he came in. His shoulders were slumped and he looked exhausted.
“Are you alright? By the way, congratulations on the birth of your grandbaby.” She smiled as she led him to the cash register table and pulled out the extra seat for him.
“Thank you. How is business?” His smile was sad as he sat down.
“What is wrong? Is everyone alright?” She took his hand in concern.
“I am ruined. Aliyah is not my biological daughter.” He swallowed hard as he slumped in his seat.
“What do you mean?” She asked puzzled. He narrated the conversation between him and the doctor to her.
“How am I so sure the two other girls are mine as well? I dread to find out.” His voice trembled as he rubbed his palm down his face and his eyes shown with unshed tears. Naomi sat back with a heavy sigh.
“This is serious. I honestly don’t know what to say. All I can say is that I am sorry for this and everything you are feeling at this moment. All the same you need to take the bull by the horn and take the kids for DNA Test.” She looked at him straight in the eye.
“I don’t want to believe this but does this mean ify has been cheating on me, despite how busy she claimed? I can’t even remember the last time we made love. She was so consumed with her career and I understand the fact that she is drained out by the time she got home most times. When did she have the time to sleep with another man?” He asked in an incredulous voice and she blew out a breath.
“How old is Aliyah?” She asked quietly.
“She is eighteen year old. Why did you ask?” He gave her a puzzled look.
“Well, that is a long time ago and it may be a one-off thing. I am sure it must have been a mistake. I am sure she would have use protection if she had planned to cheat on you.” She stated in defense of the other woman.
“It doesn’t erase the fact that she cheated, Naomi. No wonder the kids are so wayward, they took after her.” He stated in a miserable voice.
“Stop right there, Salmon. Do you want to tell me you have not had a fling with another woman since you got married? Just because you weren’t caught doesn’t make you a saint.” She gave him a chiding look. A customer came in before he could answer and Naomi excused herself to attend to him. He stood up and joined her to attend to other customers that started trickling in one after the other.
“Excuse me sir. Your face look familiar. Have we met before?” Someone tapped Salmon gently on the shoulder and he turned round to behold an elderly woman in her mid-forties. She was a tall willowy woman with a dark smooth skin that belied her age and she was smiling uncertainly at him.
“Well, it is possible. I’m Salmon Awodele. What is your name ma?’ He flashed her his gaped teeth smile that never ceased to capture women’s attention, both the young and the elderly.
“I know I can’t be mistaken. I’m Patricia Coker but used to be Pat Fagbemi. We met in the club years ago. You may not remember but it was a night I can never forget.” Her voice dropped to a whisper as she smiled shyly at him.
He shifted through his mental files as he tried to place her face and it clicked. He grabbed her hands with both of his. He drew her towards a corner of the shop as he made sure Naomi wasn’t watching him.
“Oh my God! It was a week to your wedding. You still look as beautiful as ever. How have you been? Did your wedding eventually take place?” He grinned at her.
“Yes, it did. I have a boy and a girl, all grown now. You are still the ladies’ man you have always been.” She touched his cheek briefly and let her hand dropped away as she reminded herself she was no longer the young lady she was when they met.
“Thank you. Can I have your contact please? I know you are a married woman now and I promise not to bother you unnecessarily.” He brought out his phone and hastily collected her number.
“I have to leave now. I will go and pay for my shopping now. Thank you, Salmon. My regards to your family.” She grinned at him.
“Don’t worry about it. I will pay for it. Take good care of yourself.” He took her to the cash register and paid for the bill.
“Thank you.” She beamed at him before walking out of the store. He sighed.
“Who is she?” Naomi gave him a searching look as she came to sit down at the cash register. The last customer just walked out a moment ago.
“Just a woman I used to know a long time ago.” He stated in a dismissing voice.
‘Hmm.” She obviously didn’t believe him but he ignored her and refused to elaborate further on the issue.
“Mum, what is wrong with Dad these days?” Bella grumbled as she walked into her parent’s bedroom, closely followed by her two younger sister. It was Saturday morning and her mother was still lounging in bed. Her father had left the house early in the morning as he had been doing these days.
“What did he do?” Ifeoma turned to sit up in bed.
“Well, he told us to go and see our family doctor. When we got there, the lab technician took some blood samples and cheek swabs. There was no explanation for this however and he refused to talk to anyone of us. Is something going on that you are not telling us about? We deserve to know the truth.” Bella stated in a shaky voice.
Ifeoma sighed heavily. Her meetings with Kingsley was getting on her nerves and her husband was adding his own drama to further complicate her life.
“I honestly don’t know what is going on. He refused to talk to me too but I have been thinking he will get over it. Test? What sort of test?” She asked in a puzzled voice as Bella’s words finally penetrated her sense. Bella rolled her eyes skyward and exchanged glances with her siblings.
“Mum, are you here at all? I told him that Kingsley and his family wants to come and introduced themselves but he said I should discuss with you.” Aliyah mentioned the most important thing on her mind.
“You know what, girls? I will talk to him and give you a feedback. Aliyah, hope the nanny is taking good care of your baby?” Ifeoma smiled uncertainly at them before focusing on Aliyah.
“She is trying. Mum, I thought you will have more time for your grandchild. You barely see him since he was born.” Aliyah stared accusingly at her.
“I am sorry, baby. I will try and see him more often now. I promise.” Ifeoma was eager to get them going so she could align her thought. Bella and Aliyah turned and left the room but her second daughter, Maria refused to follow them. She was the most reserved among the three girls but also the smartest and most intelligent. She made her mother nervous whenever she fixed those solemn eyes on her.
“What is it, Maria?” Ifeoma frowned at her.
“I went online, mum. Blood test and cheek swabs could mean DNA Test.” She stated quietly. Ifeoma’s heart missed a bit.
“It could also mean other things too. Are they only used for DNA test?” Ifeoma retorted acidly.
“No. None of us required a test, we do not have health issues, mum and we all know our genotype and blood group. So why are we sent to take a test without our consent or your consent? Dad is not talking to us. That is unusual as he has always been there for us. Despite our shortcomings, he talks to us and listen to us.” She paused without taking her eyes off her mother’s face. Ifeoma swallowed hard.
“If something is wrong, please let us know on time.” She concluded quietly.
“I have told you I will talk to him and I will give you a feedback. What else do you want to hear from me?” Ifeoma nearly shouted as she sat up straighter in bed.
“Okay, mum. I have heard you.” She turned her body slightly and Ifeoma released a sigh of relieve. “Whose call have you been receiving in the middle of the night, mum?” The question came out of the blues and her heart gave a lurch. She gaped at her daughter in shock.
“Mum, I am talking to you.” Maria stared back unflinchingly at her mother.
“Get out of my room at this minute. I don’t want to see you again.” Ifeoma choked out.
“Mum, everyone has a past. If you truly love us and want to save your marriage, I suggest that you and Dad should have a heart to heart talk before it is too late.” She stated gravelly, turned on her feet and walked out. Ifeoma slumped back in bed as she felt suddenly drained out. What should I do, Dear God? She thought helplessly.
“Andy, what is wrong with you? You have been taking that wine steadily since I came in.” Joseph lifted the bottle of bailey on the table and inspected it. He rarely went home these days and his mother had stopped bothering about his appearance at home.
“Well, I am not drunk yet.” Andrew stared at the creamy drink in his wine glass and frowned.
“How was your trip to Abuja? You didn’t come back to the office when you get back to town.” Joseph sat beside him.
“It was okay. We won the contract. I was very tired when I got back and decided to take the day off.” He smiled but it was a grim one.
“Where did you go when you get back into town? Why are you drinking this much?” Joseph asked worriedly. Andrew threw the wine glass against the wall to his surprise and the glass chattered into million tiny pieces. He got to his feet and started pacing back and forth in the room. Joseph watched him with interest.
“Can you believe that idiot girlfriend of mine has been cheating on me?” He bellowed at the top of his voice.
“Could that be Carol Adams?” Joseph asked in a disbelieving voice. Andrew and Carol had been dating steadily since Andrew was in year two in the university.
“Who else? The fool that I was, I wanted to surprise her when I returned earlier than expected. I even went shopping for her.” He gave a depreciating laugh as he picked up the shopping bags beside the seat and flung it across the room.
“How did you find out she was cheating on you?’ Joseph asked curiously, still finding it difficult to believe.
“She didn’t know I was coming back today. We spoke last night and I told her I wasn’t sure when I will be back. Her door was closed but not locked. I walked in, beaming from ear to ear only to find my babe in bed with another man. He was shagging her furiously from the back and my babe was there, moaning and screaming. I thought I will faint with shock.” He smiled grimly at his friend.
“What did you do? You didn’t pick him up and hit his head against the wall?” Joseph asked coldly. That calmed him down more than anything in the world. He smiled.
“No, I didn’t. I just called her name and watched her focus her eyes on me and I left. She has been calling my number since then.” He sat down, a bit calm now.
“I am highly disappointed in Caroline. She is the last girl I expected to do this. I know it is not easy but you just have to get over it. I am surprised I didn’t meet her here though, considering what happened.” Joseph touched his arm and squeezed briefly.
“She has made her choice. I will make mine too.” He shrugged. There was a knock on the door but before any of them could answer, the door swung open and Caroline came in. She went straight on her knees and both men watched her as she crawled into her room.
“It is the devil’s handwork. Forgive me please, my love.” She begged as tears filled her eyes and spilled over as she raised her palms in a plea.
“What is going on here, guys?” Bella made an entrance on the doorway in a silver color dinner wear that accentuated her full curves. The clingy sheer material revealed and covered her form at the same time as it dipped and stretched over her feminine form. She glided into the room, looking from one to the other. Joseph hide a smile.
“Nothing much. You can seize up the situation by yourself and arrive at your own conclusion.” Andrew grinned at her. Caroline jumped to her feet and glared at Bella.
“Andrew, who is this?” Caroline asked angrily. He stared coldly at her and Bella smiled to herself.
“I am Bella and you must be who?” Bella glided around her, measuring her from head to toes. Carol drew herself up to her full height.
“I am Carol, Andrew’s fiancée. You are the boss’s daughter, right? Have you been sleeping with him?” Carol asked as he looked down her nose at her. Bella laughed, a soft tingling sound that pleased Joseph immensely.
“I have not started sleeping with him yet but I intend to very soon. You have been blocking my path and now the coast is clear. Thank you.” Bella rubbed her hands together maliciously.
“What did you tell her, Andrew? Have you been sleeping with her? Is that how you got the job in the place?” Carol turned on him hotly.
“You have got guts, Carol. You have a real nerve to be asking me that kind of question. Please get out at this minute before I do something we will both regret.” Andrew stated coldly.
“You have not seen the last of me. I will be right back.” She snapped her hand and headed for the door.
“Carol.” Bella called softly and she turned to glare at her. “Please don’t bother to come back because this door is completely closed to you.” She stared back at her.
“I don’t really care who your father is. Stay off my man or I will skin you alive, you bitch.” Carol lunged towards her with her hand raised and Bella caught it neatly.
“I fight dirty and rough when I do. Stay off and we won’t have any problem. Go on, girlie and don’t look back.” Bella flung her hand away and she stormed out of the room.
“Good riddance to bad rubbish. Celebrate with me, guys! I got the job.” She grinned at both of them and Joseph laughed out loud.
“I know it. Congratulations babe!” He vaulted to his feet and swung her around in joy.
“Thank you.” She laughed as she hugged him and gave him a smacking kiss on the lips.
“Congratulations Bella! I am proud of you.” Andrew stated solemnly as he drew her into his arms and hugged her, long and hard.
“Thank you. I am sorry you are hurt, dude.” She framed his face in her palms and placed her lips gently on his. It softened beneath hers before he drew back and grinned at her.
“Thank you. I appreciate that. You are looking hot by the way. Where are we going tonight?” His eyes undressed her from her hair to her toes and she felt her bare nipples hardened beneath her bodice at his open scrutiny.
“I know the place. Let’s get moving.” Joseph picked up his car key and they left the house.
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