The door to her sister’s flat was left ajar. Elizabeth knew that was her nephew, Michael’s handwork but she was grateful for the open door as she was loaded down with shopping bags. Sweat dripped down her face and armpit and stained the white t-shirt she wore. She regretted not asking the cab-man for assistance.
She took the last few steps with effort and kicked the door wider as she dropped the loads inside the doorway.
“Is anyone in this house?” She gasped out the question as she bent over, panting for breath.
“Grandma, Aunty Lizzy is home.” Michael announced in a loud voice as he jumped to his feet. He was in the sitting room with his Grandmother, watching “The Lion King” on Disney Junior. He ran towards her at high speed.
“Whoa! Stop right there. Don’t jump on me please.” Elizabeth held out her two hands protectively against him as she backed away. He skidded to a stop and burst into helpless giggles.
“Aunt Lizzy, I am just 4 years old now. I’m not so big.” He stated in-between giggles as he spread out his arms to emphasize his small body.
“Thank you, Mr 4-yrs old. You are big enough to send both of us to the floor. Come and carry your size.” She picked up one of the shopping bags and gave it to him.
“I hope you brought me lots of goodies?” He flashed her a mischievous grin as he dragged the bag into the sitting room.
“You know you are my favorite guy. Where is your mum by the way?” Elizabeth grinned at him as she pulled the bags in before notching the door closed.
“I am right here. You are welcome, madam career woman. How was your trip?” Rebecca asked with a smile as she came out of her bedroom.
“It was great. Thank you. This trip reminds me of what it is like to take a flight again, even though it is a local one.” Elizabeth smiled as she picked up two shopping bags.
“I am glad for you. Did you buy out the whole mall?” Rebecca picked up the remaining bags and headed for the kitchen.
“Hi, mum. How have you been?’ Elizabeth called to her mother as she followed her sister.
“How are you, dear? Hope you had a great trip?” Their mother called back with a smile.
“It was fine.” She answered as she shed her sneakers on the way.
“Please make sure you pick up your shoes. I won’t be picking up after Michael and doing the same for you, madam.” Rebecca told her with a frown.
“You can never change, Becky. I will pick it up before you nagged me to death.” Elizabeth stuck out her tongue behind her back.
“I’m sure you have missed my nagging.” Rebecca was smiling as she dropped the bags on the kitchen table and turned to face her sister. “Thank you for the rental fee you sent. I was tired of begging the landlord and I have started avoiding him. You can’t imagine how relieved I was when I got the credit alert from you.” Rebecca stated quietly.
“You have been the rock in this family. Only God knows what would have happened to mother and me, if not for you. You deserve the best.” Elizabeth shrugged as she dropped the bags on the floor.
“I introduced the devil into the family and deserved to wipe the shit he left behind.” Rebecca muttered bitterly.
“It was Daddy that caused all these issues. You had the misfortune of falling for the wrong guy but he doesn’t have the right to tie all our destiny to your marriage with the devil because he wanted an heir. I can kick his dead ass if I have the chance.” Elizabeth stated with feelings. Rebecca laughed heartily.
“I really don’t know how long you want to hang that guilt around your neck though. I have good news for you.” Elizabeth reached for her bag and brought out an envelope which she handed over to Rebecca. It was an appointment letter at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. Her jaw dropped in amazement.
“How did you do it? Do you know how many times I have applied for this position in that federal institution? They kept tossing me from one person to another.” Her eyes scanned the letter in excitement but she wasn’t dreaming.
“Well, I know it was your dream job. That was why you turned down all those smaller appointments with their backbreaking work roaster.” She grinned at her sister.
“How did you get the appointment? I hope you didn’t sleep with one useless man to get this for me?” Rebeca’s eyes narrowed in suspicion at her sister.
“Come off it, Becky. You know I have more important connections than you do. How I get them is none of your business. Do you want the job or not?” She glared at her.
“You are even silly for asking that question. Thank you all the same. I love you.” Rebecca crossed the distance between them and hugged her tightly.
“You are welcome.” Elizabeth’s eyes welled up with tears as she rocked her sister from side to side.
Elizabeth was about to sleep when her phone rang noisily. It was Roseline on the line. She sat up in bed and was grinning widely when she picked the call.
“Aproko woman, what do you want?” Elizabeth asked with a smile.
“I don’t want to know the meaning of that word but I do know you are insulting me. Spill it, my friend. Who is getting you those jobs?” She asked without mincing word.
“It is Joseph Coker, our former driver.” Her voice dropped to a whisper.
“Jesus Christ! Are you serious?” Elizabeth could almost see the amazement in her sister’s friend’s face. She giggled.
“Why didn’t you tell Becky? She thought it was one of your numerous men friends doing the magic.” Roseline demanded.
“Joseph has sworn to skin me alive if I tell her the truth, though he didn’t tell me the reason. I am aware she doesn’t like him back then especially when I talk about him. I guess the feeling is mutual between the two of them.” Elizabeth stated with a shrug.
You, gullible girl, what do you know? Roseline thought in pity. “What is he doing now? How did you meet him?” She asked aloud.
“His father owned the Coker group of companies. I am not sure how they reconciled but he is a big boy now. I just fall in love with him every day.” She gushed dreamily.
Fall in lust with his body and money, you mean? Roseline thought amusingly. “Foolish girl. I am happy for him. He deserves the best. Don’t go and make a fool of yourself before him, girl.” She warned quietly.
“You sound just like Becky. You are too tight ass, Rose. Thank God Doctor Chris would be giving it to you regularly.” Elizabeth stated so solemnly that Roseline burst into laughter.
“You are a bad girl. Good night, Dear. Take care of yourself and find your own man. Joseph is not meant for you.” Roseline clicked off before she could respond. Elizabeth stared at the phone thoughtfully before she shrugged and reached for her novel.
It was Sunday morning. Ifeoma was about to roll out of bed when her door opened and Bella walked in. She sat back in surprise.
“Good morning Mum.” She greeted quietly.
“Morning dear. Hope you slept well?’ Ifeoma smiled at her.
“Yes, I did. Thank you. I came to apologize for the way I spoke to you the other time. It was rude. I have no right to judge you either. I am sorry about that.” She stated quietly as she held her mother’s gaze.
Ifeoma felt tears welled up in her eyes but she dashed it away and smiled.
“You were hurt and disappointed which is understandable. It is okay. How are you? How is work?” Ifeoma patted the space beside her and Bella sat down.
“I’m fine. Work is good. You need to get another source of income. If Dad eventually decides to go for divorce, how will you survive?” Bella asked worriedly.
“I have started a consultancy firm for financial institutions. The registration is in progress but I need to start sourcing for client which is my main problem at the moment. I am sure one big client would open the door for me.” She stated with a shrug.
“I have a good friend. He is one of the Cokers. I’m sure he will be ready to help if I discuss it with him.” Bella offered quietly.
“The Coker family are a big fish in the society. Having them as a client would make a huge difference. I will be grateful if you can make it happen.” She paused thoughtfully. “That reminds me. Olamide’s father is one of the Cokers.” Ifeoma looked at her.
“Yes, I know. His name is Kayode. I have heard a lot about him on the street. He is an irresponsible young man. All he knows is buzz and women. I sincerely hope Aliyah knows what she is getting herself into.” Bella said with a frown.
“Aliyah is no longer a kid. She is going to be a graduate in a few weeks’ time. I don’t think she really loves him but she was attached because she had a son for him.” Ifeoma sighed sadly.
“That is in addition to the fact he was her first man. She is denying the flaws she could see with her own eyes. Anyway, let’s check on her.’ Bella got to her feet.
“Thank you.” She reached for her hand and squeezed in gratitude.
Maria was about to open her mother’s bedroom door when it flew open and Bella came out, closely followed by Ifeoma. They stood in the hallway, eyeing each other wordlessly and Ifeoma wondered if she would have to step in between them.
“Asshole.” Bella smirked at her.
“Slut.” Maria smirked back but her lips turned up in an involuntary smile.
“Girls, I don’t want to hear those dirty languages in my home please.” Ifeoma protested as she tried to gauge the mood in the air.
“We are good, mum. How is Andy? I hope you guys are back together?” Maria raised an eyebrow. Bella blushed.
“Yes, we are. You can set your imagination into sails.” Bella winked at her.
“Do quickly biko. We need to do our first wedding in this house since it seems the one we were aiming for doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.” Maria grinned at her.
“I am glad for you. Remember what I told you about destiny? It would end in praise by God’s Grace.” Ifeoma smiles at her.
“Thank you, mum. Where is Aliyah?” Bella turned to her sister again.
“She is in her room as usual. What should we do to her?” Maria asked suggestively. Bella tossed her head with a mischievous grin and they headed for their sister’s room at a speed. Ifeoma followed more slowly, wondering what she just missed.
Aliyah was wide awake but she was emotionally down as usual. Her eyes were gritty from lack of sleep and she felt as if the world’s burden was on her shoulder. She couldn’t wait to graduate and leave her home for good. Her eyes drifted closed as she sighed heavily but flew open when her door opened abruptly. Her sisters came in with mischief in their eyes.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?” She didn’t finish the question before they reached for her small figure under the duvet and dropped her on the floor. They began to tickle her mercilessly everywhere until she was giggling and writhing on the floor.
“I hate you both.” She sputtered with laughter.
“Take it back.” Maria commanded as she tickled her bare feet with single-minded determination. Aliyah thrashed and giggled the more.
“You girls are wicked. This is so unfair.” Aliyah protested as she laughed hard with tears running down her face.
Bella and Maria finally sat back on their haunches and laughed till their sides ached. Ifeoma stood in the doorway, smiling as tears ran down her cheek.
“Well done, girls. How are you, Aliyah?” Ifeoma asked tentatively as she walked in and sat in the single chair in the room.
“I am fine.” Aliyah sat up on the floor as she stared at her mother.
“I am sorry for hurting you. I can’t change the past neither can I re-do it but I will always love you.” Ifeoma paused. “I can take you to him if you are interested in meeting him.” She added quietly. Aliyah sighed.
“He is not even a good man. He has been treating you badly, despite the fact that he took advantage of you. No, I don’t want to be associated with such man. It doesn’t change who or what I am. I have come to realize that.” She shrugged.
“That is the spirit, girl. I love you.” Bella reached over and kissed her left cheek.
“Same here. You are one brave, strong woman.” Maria kissed her other cheek.
“My baby’s a woman. Come over, girl.” Ifeoma’s voice trembled as she got to her feet. Aliyah ran into her arms and hugged her tightly, sobbing quietly.
“Say a big Thank you to Andrew. He set the wheel rolling in your heart. When can I meet him?” Maria whispered into her sister’s ear. Bella smiled.
“He is eager to meet you too.” Bella grinned at her.
Andrew was furious but beneath the anger, he was scared and worried. It was Friday night. He and Joseph were working on starting a farming project. They were supposed to meet at the Shadows to discuss their progress and the next step. Joseph hadn’t turned up and he wasn’t picking his calls either.
He drove towards the gate of the administrative office of the Coker’s manufacturing company and the security light zoomed in on his car before he was allowed to drive in.
“Good evening sir.” A security aide greeted him. The name tag on his chest was Stephen Amuwo.
“Good evening. Is Joseph still in the office?” Andrew asked quietly.
“I think he is still in because I have not seen him leave the office premises. Moreover, he checks up on us every Friday evening to make sure we are all right for the weekend.” Stephen responded with a slight frown.
“Gbenga, you stay here at the gate while Stephen and I check on him.” Andrew addressed both of them, even as he told himself he was being unnecessarily paranoid.
“Yes, Sir.” Stephen answered as he opened the car door and slide into the seat beside him.
Andrew drove to the Car park and pulled up properly before they left the confinement of the Car.
“Most of the staffs have closed for the day. Joseph does work late once in a while but certainly not on a Friday. I am sure he got carried away with work today.” Stephen stated in a conversational tone. Andrew nodded absently.
They tried the elevator but it had been shut down for the day. They took the staircase two at a time. Joseph’s office was on the fourth floor.
As they approached his office, they heard several heavy footsteps approaching them. Stephen looked surprised as he glanced at him.
Andrew reached for the young man’s collar and pulled him abruptly into a corner. They crouched in the corner, holding their breath.
Four heavily armed men walked past them and descended down the staircase.
“Page Gbenga to leave the security post and run for his life. Those guys mean business.” Andrew whispered furiously in the young man’s ear immediately he was sure they were out of ear-shot. He ran out of the corner before Stephen could respond and went straight into Joseph’s office.
Joseph Coker was lying in his pool of blood, looking lifeless and very still!
Here we go, guys.
Happy Eid Celebration in advance to my Muslim brothers and sisters!
I am travelling for Sallah by weekend and would be very busy throughout next week. This means i may not be able to post an update next week.
I am apologizing in advance for this. Kindly bear with me.
In the meantime, please drop your feedback as usual.
I will appreciate it.