‘Ola mi, what are you going to do about the issue on the ground? He is locking everyone out. I can’t even penetrate the wall he built around himself. He refused to talk to me.’ Naomi faced her husband at the breakfast table. Olayemi sighed heavily.
‘I am worried, mum. He is not talking to me too. Becky has been here several times but he refused to see her. The poor woman is dying inside.’ Titilola’s voice was worried. She was also angry at her brother.
‘It is partly her fault. Why did she keep his son away from him?’ Olayemi asked angrily. Naomi glared at him and he shut his mouth.
‘Naomi, I can’t even reach him. He has decided to take on the project at Coker group in the U.K and he is out of the country at the moment.’ He gave her an apologetic look.
‘He didn’t even bother to tell me. What is wrong with this boy?’ Naomi’s jaw dropped in shock.
‘He is an adult. He is old enough to take certain decisions on his own. He will sort himself out eventually. I don’t think we should interfere in what is not even our business.’ He muttered to himself and tried not to squirm under the disapproving gaze of the two precious women in his life.
‘Mum, please give me permission to take two weeks off. I promise to find him and talk some sense into his head.’ Titilola turned to Naomi as if her father was spouting rubbish.
‘Thank you, dear. I appreciate you. When do you want to leave?’ Naomi’s smile was full of gratitude.
‘Give me few days to tidy up my desk and I will be out of the country.’ Titilola grinned at her.
Naomi came around the table and hugged her to the bosom. She placed a kiss on her forehead.
‘Don’t sweat it, mum. He is my brother. I am off to the store.’ Titi smiled as she pulled her seat back and took her plate to the kitchen.
‘Ease up, Ife mi. They will be fine.’ Olayemi drew her unto his lap and hugged her tightly. She sighed audibly.
‘I am so worried about him, about her and I just wish I can knock their heads together so they will come to their senses.’ She rubbed her cheek against his as he hugged her close.
‘They will be fine. Trust me.’ He smiled at her.
Elizabeth snatched up her phone on the second ring and flipped the green button with her thumb.
‘Rose, how are you?’ She was smiling.
‘I am in trouble. He has come to take Michael while I was away. What am I going to tell Becky?’ Rose’s distraught voice reached her ear.
‘I take it you mean Joseph right?’ She asked for lack of something to say.
‘Who else am I talking about? He was so hostile, cold and angry when I spoke to him. He promised to return him if the kid is not his.’ Rose wailed into the phone.
Elizabeth sighed heavily, rubbing her forehead wearily.
‘I never knew he was capable of such cold fury. The resemblance is so strong you can’t even arrest him for kidnapping.’
‘That will make matter worst. I don’t even want to go down that lane. Alex is blaming me for everything. He said Becky deserved what he got for denying him the right to his biological son. Men are pigs!’ Her voice was full of disgust.
Elizabeth laughed, despite herself.
‘I will talk to his sister, Titilola. She is a very good friend of mine. Please try not to tell Becky anything for now. She is a shadow of herself. I think she is also expecting another baby but she refused to discuss it with anyone.’
‘Jesus!’ Rose exclaimed. ‘I will start praying hard. I am going to mass this evening.’ She added.
Elizabeth laughed again harder.
‘You are such a clown, Rose. I will talk to you later. My boss is glaring at me already.’ She coughed lightly as she put an end to the call.
Damn, I have forgotten how cold this dreadful country could be. She thought angrily as she pulled the jacket close with her gloved hand and pressed down on the security bell.
‘Good morning miss. How may I help you?’ A thick British accent voice asked gruffly. She knew she was being thoroughly scrutinized by a camera.
‘I came to visit my brother. My name is Titilola Coker. It is a surprise visit, so I don’t want him to know I am here until I am on his doorstep.’ She blew warm air into her gloved hand.
‘You are welcome, Miss Coker.’ The door slides open and she stepped into the warm foyer.
She sighed with relief and the elderly security guard whose name tag was ‘Mark’ smiled at her.
‘Cold morning, huh?’ He grinned at her.
‘I don’t like your country, Mr. Mark. It is too cold for my liking. Come down to Nigeria and experience all year round summer.’ She flashed him an answering smile.
‘I wish to visit your country, even if it is just once in my lifetime.’ He murmured wistfully. ‘Mr. Coker is in Apartment 10 on the 7th floor.’ He smiled at her.
‘Thank you, Mr. Mark’ She went into the elevator and pressed the 7th-floor button.
‘Who is it?’ A childish voice answered a few moments later when she pressed the bell. She saw his eyes through the peephole before a shriek followed.
‘Aunt Lola!’ Michael flew into her arms immediately he threw the door opened.
‘I miss you, cupcake. How have you been?’ She hugged him tight and kissed his cheek.
‘I miss you too. How is my mum? I miss her.’ He grinned at her.
‘I am sure your mum misses you too.’ She put him down as she cocked an accusing brow at her brother who stood a few feet away from them with a frown.
‘How did you find me?’ His voice was unwelcoming.
‘I was born and bred in this country, Opemiposi. I know the nooks and cronies of this city and finding you is quite easy. How are you, brother?’ She went to kiss his cheek.
‘Aunt Titi, come and have breakfast. I am having Toast and bacon.’ Michael told her as he went back to his breakfast.
‘I will join you soon. I need to talk to my brother.’ She smiled at him.
‘Michael, take your breakfast to the room. I will join you soon to play a game.’ Joseph smiled at her.
The little boy obeyed without another word.
‘Why are you here?’ His voice wasn’t friendly.
‘Let’s cut the crap, brother. Do two wrongs make a right? Why did you kidnap the little boy? Why did you separate him from his mother?’ She rocked on her heels as she stared frostily at him.
‘This is none of your business. You have no right to interfere. Secondly, he is already away from his mother on vacation, so I didn’t separate him from his mother.’ He told her coldly.
‘He has no business being here with you. He is supposed to be with Rose and Caitlin. You also told his mother she won’t be seeing him if he is yours. Is he?’ She cocked her head to a side.
‘Yes, he is mine. I didn’t make an idle threat. I have a right to the number of years his mother deprived me of his childhood.’ He snapped at her.
‘That means you want to punish the innocent little boy for what his mother did, right? You know he is missing her already. Is that the only way to solve this?’ she asked pointedly.
‘Go away. This is none of your business.’ He glared at her, even as guilty conscience stabbed at him.
‘That woman is suffering, Opemiposi. Please give her a chance to explain and find it in your heart to forgive. She went through hell in her first marriage. Must you put her through this too?’ She appealed to his conscience.
‘Stop talking as if I am the one at fault.’ He stormed away from her and came to a standstill when he saw Michael standing a few feet away from them.
‘Are you my real dad?’ He raised innocent eyes to him.
‘Damn!’ Joseph looked at Titilola for help. She rolled her eyes skyward and covered the distance between them.
‘Yes, cupcake. He is your real dad. Will you like to confirm from your mum?’ She drew him into his embrace but his eyes were on Joseph.
‘I thought my real dad is in jail.’ Oh God! This boy knows too much, she thought forlornly.
‘Let’s talk to your mum instead.’ She sat on the warm rug and pulled him unto her lap as she video called Rebecca.
‘Hi, mummy. I miss you.’ Michael grinned into the camera.
‘I miss you too, darling. How are you? Where are you?’ Rebecca’s voice cracked with tears but she was smiling. Joseph walked away from them, pacing the room restlessly.
‘I am with Uncle Joe. Aunt Titi is here.’
‘Hello, Doctor Williams.’ She smiled into the camera. They have become good friends during her frequent visits to their home to look for Joseph.
‘I will punch you from here, Titi.’ She made a fist into the camera. They all laughed.
‘You look pale, Becky. Are you alright?’
‘I am fine. Thank you for this. I appreciate you.’
‘You are welcome.’
‘Mum, is Uncle Joe my real dad?’ Michael asked quietly.
Rebecca visibly inhaled and breathed out slowly. Titi’s heart went out to her.
‘Yes, love. He is your real dad.’
‘That is so cool.’ He grinned excitedly. ‘But who is my dad in the jail?’ he asked with a frown.
‘It is complicated, love. I used to know Joseph before I got married to the dad in jail. I find out I was pregnant after marriage. By then, I and Joseph didn’t see each other any longer until now.’ She smiled at him.
‘Okay, mum. I don’t like my other dad anyway. Uncle Joe is cool. Bye, mum. I love you’ He scrambled off Titi’s Laps and went to hug Joseph.
‘I love you too, son.’ She murmured.
‘Everything will be alright, Becky.’ Titi smiled at her.
‘I hope so. I don’t know why I am so weepy these days.’ She sniffed as tears filled her eyes.
She covered her mouth as she coughed discreetly.
‘Go away, Titi.’ She went offline. She laughed heartily as she looked up to see her brother standing a few feet away.
‘What is wrong with her?’ He asked with concern.
‘Have you lost her number? Shift,please. I want to eat. I am hungry.’ She walked away to the kitchen.
He stared after her in exasperation.
Joseph got to Nigeria the previous night on British Airways flight and resumed in the Lagos office the following morning. He had every intention of catching Overland last minute flight to Ilorin that evening.
He spent the morning in meeting with the heads of department and started working on his reports for the board at noon.
He was halfway through when his door opened and Barbara walked in.
He groaned inwardly and sat back with a frown.
‘Where is my secretary?’ His voice was harsh but he tried to soften it with a half smile.
‘I guess she went for lunch. I didn’t call because you weren’t picking my calls. What is happening to us, Joseph?’ She asked with a worried frown as she came around the desk to stand in front of him.
He sighed heavily.
‘I have nothing to offer you, Babs. My heart belonged to another woman and I just find out she has a kid for me.’ He flipped his phone and showed her Michael’s picture.
‘He is adorable. He is also your spitting image.’ Her lips curved up sadly as she stared at the image of the grinning boy. A lone tear rolled down her flawless cheek and she flicked it away with a painted nail.
‘I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.’ He got to his feet and drew her into his embrace.
‘I should have seen it coming. All the signs were there but I didn’t listen to my head.’ She sobbed quietly as she clung to him. ‘I was just a pastime to you, right?’ she murmured.
She was right but he didn’t answer as he patted her back gently, even as he glanced at his wristwatch impatiently behind her back.
‘I wish you the best. I hope you keep in contact?’ It was a question as she drew back to cup his cheek.
‘Sure, I will.’ He lied with a smile.
‘Thank you.’ She kissed him on the mouth with a passion which reminded him of the reason he was attracted to her in the first place.
The door opened. Rebecca walked in and their eyes met across the distance.
‘I am in trouble.’ He whispered as he pulled himself away from the kiss with more force than was necessary.
‘Excuse me. No one was at the front desk. I am sorry for intruding.’ Rebecca inclined her head and withdrew from the room, closing the door behind her.
‘Becky, wait!’ He ran to the door but Barbara pulled him back.
‘Is she the one?’ Her voice was cold.
‘Yes, she is. Get the hell out of my life please.’ He stated sharply as he pulled away and hurried out of the office.
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