Babe, you have faced worst situation than this in life. Why are you finding it difficult to face your own daughter? She asked herself as she trudged up to her hotel suite, suddenly feeling depressed.
‘It is because she has become the most important person in your life. You are desperate for her love. You need her as much as she needs you and if she rejects you, you are afraid you will break apart. A tiny voice told her. Her shoulders drooped as she inserted her key card and walked into the darkened room. She didn’t bother to put on the light as she walked to the bedroom and shed her clothes on the floor.
The answer will always be No if you don’t ask. It is time to go home and stop being a coward, she thought morosely as she scrubbed her body vigorously under the shower and came out a few moments later with a towel wrapped around her middle. Her friends had left for another all-night birthday party but she refused to go with them. She came into the sitting room to order room service and her jaw dropped in shock as she stared at the man lying on one of the sofas with a newspaper. He was in a pair of black jeans and a blue t-shirt. He grinned at her shocked expression.
“What are you doing here? How did you get in?” she demanded as shock turned to anger. “I came to see you and I got in through the door.”Tunde raised an eyebrow at her.
“How do you know I’m here? Why do you want to see me? We have no business together, do we?” She kept standing because the towel around her body was quite short. “We have lots of business together. I got to know about your whereabouts from your friend, Martha. We are friends you know.” He grinned at her dubious expression.
“Have you been sleeping with her because I know she has a crush on you?” She asked with heavy sarcasm.
“Would you mind if I do? She is really not too bad a chic.” He gave her a solemn look. She looked away briefly before she turned to face him again.
“I don’t care who you sleep with. It is none of my business’
He got to his feet abruptly. “Your mum asked me to find you. She is quite worried about you. Why did you leave home, Fatiha?”
“I’ve stayed out for days in the past. She should try and get used to It.” She turned away as she swallowed hard.
“You have a mother and a daughter who need you now. You brought them into your life and you have to be responsible for them.” He was angry.
“Why don’t you go home and mind your fucking business? May I remind you that you are not my minder?” She turned on him with a cold look.
“I’m your minder on this issue because this is about your daughter, my daughter, our daughter, Gift Thomas.” He watched color drained slowly from her face.
“I see. This is what the sermon is all about, right? I never knew you are in desperate need of a child after your unspeakable behavior years ago. How do you think your daughter will feel about you after she learned you raped her mother?” Her voice was bitter. It was his turn to be shocked.
“Fatihat, I’ve told you many times that I’m sorry for what happened that day. I wish I can go back and undo what I did but I can’t. You’ve been trying to do everything to make me pay for my offense. Are you going to deny me the chance to know my child, to make up for the past years I’ve not been there for her?” His voice was weary as he sank down into his seat. She came to stand before him.
“It hasn’t occurred to me to do that but now that you mention it, it is another way to get at you and your stupid family. I will give it a try.” Her smile was malicious.
He reached up and pulled her down unto his lap abruptly. She gave a startled yelp, clutching her towel to her chest and tried to struggle out of his reach. “Damn it, fatihat! You can’t tell me you don’t have any feelings for me and I’m going to use it against you.” He told her roughly before he kissed her. She resisted, trying to hit him with her free hand which he easily captured.
After a moment, she stopped fighting him and started responding. Slowly, she let go of her death grip on her towel. Her two arms linked behind his neck. Their hearts picked up speed at the intensity of the passionate kiss that was deep, long and slow. She went pliant in his arms and moaned against his mouth as she wriggled closer to him. He stood up without breaking the kiss and went down on the rug, settling comfortably between her thighs. He groaned against her lips as her towel rode up her thigh and she wrapped her legs around his body. He broke the heated kiss and looked down into her face.
“Fatihat, I’m not going to lie to you. If we continue for another moment longer than this, we are going to end up making love. Are you ready for that?” He asked in a husky voice. Her eyes blinked open slowly. The desire in her eyes slowly drained away to be replaced by a blankness that tore at his heart and he rolled away from her before she could speak. “I’ve seen the answer in your eyes already. Where is your restroom? I need to clean up.” He turned slightly away to hide the bulge in his jeans and went towards the direction she pointed to. He came out a moment later as she was dropping the phone and he picked up his car key.
“Fatihat, please go back home. Everybody needs you.” He said quietly on his way to the door.
“Thanks, Tunde. I appreciate everything.”
“You are welcome. Goodnight.”He smiled as he opened the door and stepped out. She sat back and suddenly felt lonely. She stood up and went into her bedroom to start packing.
She drove into her premises the following morning and pulled up in the car pack in time to see the front door swing open. Gift came out unto the front porch, looking cute in a pair of brown shorts and white vest with her hair bound into two ponytails. She saw her mother as she came out of the car and ran towards her.
“Hey, pretty mummy.” She launched herself against her mother and the latter lifted her with a grin.
“How are you, baby?”She gave her a quick kiss on the lips and put her down.
“I’m fine. Aunty Jose said I’m starting school next school. I will be attending a private school. Isn’t that cool?” She hopped from one foot to the other, obviously excited.
“It is. Where is everyone?”Fatihat removed her big bag from the car.
“They went out together about an hour ago. I was waiting for you.” The little girl picked the bag up. They went into the house together and went straight to her room.
“How did you know I’m coming in today?”Fatihat dropped on her bed and stretched out her lithe body.
“Daddy called very early this morning and told me it is likely you come home today.” She sat beside her on the bed.
“Who is the daddy?”Fatihat asked cautiously as she sat up.” who else? Uncle Tunde abeeb of course.” She stared at her as if she has grown two head.
“Who told you he is your father?”Fatihat asked incredulously.
“Mum, I mean grand mum did. I’m so sorry for screaming at you the other time.” Gift stood up and hugged her.
“Go and open the door. I think Jose and mum are back.” Her voice was weary as they both heard a car drove into the compound.
“Yes, ma.”The little girl dashed out of her room and moments later, the three of them came into her room to chat her up.
Tunde Abeeb turned up two days later on a Saturday to take his daughter out. Fatihat was the first person he met immediately he walked into the sitting room. She was clad in a bum short and fading red halter neck with her long legs ending in a pair of red fluffy slippers. She was on her way out of the kitchen with a glass of cold juice and she stopped short when she saw him. Desire slammed him in the groin at the sight of her and he turned slightly away, to hide his arousal.
“Good Morning. What are you doing so early in my house? It is barely 9 Am.” She glanced at the wall clock on the hall and frowned at him.
“I came to take Gift out, we have a date today.” He told her quietly.
“Hi, Dad.” Gift appeared on the top of the staircase as if on cue and grinned down at her father. She had taken her bath and was dressed in attire similar to her mother’s: a blue short and white-stripped blue halter-neck top. Her choppy fair legs ended in a pair of white sandals and two blue ribbons held her hair in ponytails. He noted the striking resemblance between her and her mother. She was Fatiha Ali’s spitting image! He returned her grin.
“Hey, cutie. You look good enough to eat.” She bounced down the staircase with a giggle. He threw her into the air and she laughed out loud.
“It is good to have a tall daddy.” She teased as she clung to his neck.
“It is good but you are not going anywhere with him.”Fatihat told both of them quietly. They both gave her a startled look.
“But why, mum? Is he not my dad?” Gift asked almost accusingly.
“I never said he isn’t your dad, baby, I just said you are not going anywhere with him.” Her voice was firm as she met his eyes squarely.
“Fatihat, chenille gave me the authority to take her out and she is the only person that can stop me from taking her out.” His voice was hostile as both chenille and Josephine appeared at the top of the staircase.
Fatihat gave a harsh laugh and stared coldly at him. “If I had aborted those babies years ago or I died while giving birth to them, you won’t be here today to claim your lost daughter, will you?” She told him tartly and he felt his facial muscles frozen up.
“Babies? How many did you give birth to?” He slowly put his daughter down as misery engulfed him like a blanket.
“I gave birth to twins, a boy, and a girl after your stupid mother threw me out on the street. She even gave me a thorough beating because she thought I seduced her son or that I lied about what really happened, before throwing me out. Did she tell you that?” Tears filled her eyes at the memory and he closed his eyes in anguish.
“Mum, please don’t cry.” Gift came to cling to her but she pushed her away roughly. “Get away from me. You want a father. Please go to him.” She turned towards the staircase blindly and the little girl slipped away quietly.
“Lizzy, it is okay.” Chenille came down the staircase and engulfed her in her arms.
“I suffered, mama, I nearly died and this idiot is here to claim his lost daughter.”Fatihat sobbed for a moment before moving away from her mother’s embrace.
“I’m sorry, Fatihat. What else can I say?”Tunde said with obvious distress. Josephine went back to her room in silence.
“May God punish you, you idiot.”Fatihat swore at him and walked away.
“I think you should go, Tunde. Everyone is hurting at the moment.” Chenille told him sincerely.
He nodded in understanding as he headed for the door. “I hope you are not bored at home?” He said after a moment.
“No. Elizabeth just opened a shop for me in a complex along Allen Avenue. I think she was planning to buy the whole complex or she already does, I’m not sure.” The older woman said with a smile. He noticed that she had changed from when they first saw her, she looked much younger and fresher now.
“Your daughter is a wealthy woman and an excellent businesswoman.” He told her as he opened the front door and stepped out.
“I’m just getting a glimpse of her vast wealth. I wonder how she made it so fast, considering her rough childhood. She is not yet twenty-four.” She said with a hint of concern and worry in her voice.
“I can’t answer that question. Have a nice day, ma.”He tried to hide the misery engulfing him as he moved away and she gave him a brief wave before going back into the house.
Tunde met his elder brother in his mother’s bedroom when he got home and the latter was surprised to see him.
“Why are you back so soon?” Olawale turned to him.
“The outing was canceled.” He sat down on his mother’s dressing table and brought out his phone. He flipped it opened and searched through the gallery before handing it over to his brother. “Who does that little girl resembles?”Tunde sat back, grimly.
“She looks like Delilah Smith, Josephine’s sister. Does she have a daughter?” Wale asked puzzled as he passed the phone to his mother who looked startled at the picture.
“This is Fatihat Ali’s spitting image. Is this her daughter?”Yemi returned the phone with trembling fingers.
“Yes, the little girl is her daughter and her name is Gift Thomas. She will be eight in a few months time.” He told them and watched the calculations going through their head. “Oh my God!” Wale muttered under his breath.
“That means she is your daughter too, right? How did you find her after these years? So she actually gave birth to her baby on her own?” She asked in a whisper.
“Babies, mum. She had twins but I’ve met only one of them. She was picked up by Fatiha’s mother who is a Canadian by the way.”
“That is wonderful. I’m so happy for her.” His brother enthused with a smile.
“She deserved to be happy after all these years and she was so brave. I admired her courage.” Her voice was solemn.
“She doesn’t want me near our daughter and this whole thing is getting to me. I think I’m going to resign.” He sighed heavily.
“But I thought you two were an item. It is obvious she is attracted to you, even though she wants revenge on what you did to her years ago. You still like her, don’t you?”
He exhaled softly as he avoided their probing stares. “To be honest, I’ve always been attracted to fatihat from the first time I saw her and……..well, I’m just a bit confused.” He said sheepishly and shrugged.
“If you’ve had just a little patience, we wouldn’t have gotten into all these problems but you were thinking with your libido, not with your head. What are we going to do now?”Yemi looked at her first child.
“If she doesn’t come around, we will have to step in and talk to her mother. We have to do right by that kid because she is ours too. Tell me exactly how it all happened.” Wale faced his younger brother.
Josephine was on phone with one of their customer in her office when her sister hurried in, banging the wooden door behind her as she came forward and she dropped a letter in front of her.
“I will get back to you as soon as possible. Let me clarify this with you again: there are eleven guests for a night who want single-occupancy rooms each, right?” She paused, glaring at her sister who signaled for her to hurry up. “Okay. There is no problem with that, sir. We guaranteed you the best services possible. Thank you for your patronage. I will deliver your message to her. Bye, sir.” She hanged up finally. “That is chief Bankole. He will be in Lagos with his crew next week Saturday for a birthday bash and they are staying here for a night. We will also be handling the catering services as well. Isn’t that great? How do you attract all those rich customers for us, Lilah?”Josephine asked in wonder.
“The same way we attract them back then. It is your business to make sure they are satisfied with our services and I trust you to do that.” She said quietly.
“That is why I’m being paid. Why are you here in the middle of the day?” Josephine picked up the letter her sister dropped in front of her.
“Tunde resigned. He wasn’t in the office throughout last week and he dropped his letter on Monday before I came in. Can you imagine the nerve of him?” She was angry but under the anger, was another emotion she didn’t want to inspect too closely.
Josephine picked up the letter and went through it at a glance. “He is a part owner of the company, no matter how small and he has a right to do and undo as he wishes. Can’t you buy him out?” Josephine asked, unable to see any problem in the situation. “You don’t understand, do you?”Fatihat vaulted to her feet instantly and paced the office in exasperation. “I can’t run that place alone. The company is expanding every day and it was mostly his hand-work. We just added a cosmetic section to the company and we were supposed to pick up a contract in Kaduna next week. How will I cope without him?” she said in exasperation.
“You are a good businesswoman, fatihat and you have a natural flair for it. How else will your wealth have grown by leaps and bounds within a very short period? You will survive without him. You have the brain and the connection too. All you need to do is to sit tight and get more serious. I am sure you will be fine.” Josephine said in a matter-of-fact tone.
“I know, Jose but I don’t want him to leave. I don’t. Don’t you understand?” She looked mournfully at her elder sister and the latter tried not to smile.
“I see. You are just talking. Are you in love with Tunde Abeeb?”She asked with a direct stare.
“I’m not but I don’t want my daughter to have a jobless father.”Fatihat sat down again with a plump.
“What do you want, Lilah? You want revenge, you’ve got it. There is a limit to what a man’s ego can take. You practically walk him out of your house a few weeks back because he wants to do the right thing by his daughter. You can’t have your cake and eat it at the same time. The ball is in your court, baby girl, play it any way you like.” Josephine said conclusively.
“I want him close by if only for my baby’s sake. By the way, I think I’m close to the other baby. I find the house quite alright, though it is completed now and the owner of the house is a woman called Yetunde Kolawole. It is a long shot but my instincts never fail me.” She said quietly.
“It is well. Mum is going on her first business trip in the next two weeks and I might go with her.”
“I don’t have any problem with that. Tunde is not going anywhere by the way either he likes it or not. ” She got to her feet. Josephine pitied anyone who crossed her sister’s path. She sighed faintly as fatihat walked out and closed the door behind her.
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