Shade threw the phone on the bed. “I don’t believe this.”
“You don’t believe what?” Ngozi looked at her watch. It was 10am. They could still make it to church before the benediction.
Shade started pacing the room. “I told this guy to forget about me and go on with his life. I told him it could never work between us. It was one night. One night of total madness and look at where it got me.”
“Which guy?” Ngozi asked.
Shade kept pacing. “I told him it was a mistake and it should never have happened. But here he is again.”
Ngozi stood up and held Shade’s shoulders.”What are you going on about?”
Shade took a deep breath.
“Roberto is in the country!”
“The same Roberto?”
Shade nodded like a puppy in distress.
“What is he doing in Lagos?”
“He said he is here for business but I don’t believe him.”
“How did he find you?” Ngozi asked.
“I must have given him my number.”
“You gave him your number? Why would you do such a thing?” Ngozi was close to believing that her friend was crazy.
Shade walked over to the window and looked at the busy road below, with cars filled with families heading to church. “Roberto and I had dinner. It was so classy. He had this trio stand by our table and sing some love songs in Italian. I didn’t understand a word they said, but they sang so well. The chef personally came to the table to ask me what I would like to eat. It felt good to be treated like a queen.” Shade reminisced. “The meal was excellent. Giant prawns dipped in some exotic sauce. I had no idea what it was, but it tasted so good. Roberto drank a little too much and started talking about what he would do to make me his wife. He said he would sell everything he owned and relocate to Lagos to come and make me his bride. He said he would load an aeroplane with money to pay my bride price and marry me. I thought he didn’t mean any of it. He was drunk for goodness sake!Why would he leave his country to look for me? He asked for my number, so I gave it to him because I thought it was useless to him.”
Ngozi gave her friend a curious look. “You didn’t tell him you were married, did you?”
Shade lowered her head. “No, I didn’t.” She said with shame and began to cry. “I thought it was harmless, that I was never going to see him again.” she cried some more.
“You didn’t tell a stranger that you were married?” Ngozi asked. ” You had dinner with him and you gave him your number? What did you expect him to think? He thinks you are single and available,that was why he took the risk to come to Lagos and get you.”
Ngozi felt no compassion for Shade as she watched her crying. She was now fully convinced that Shade, her friend of over twenty years, a faithful member of their church, who pretended to be a saint, who thought she was holier than everybody else, who accused her of selling herself to men, was nothing but a secret slut.
“Shade, are you going to tell him that you are carrying his child? You know that he has a right to know about this.” Ngozi tried to exploit the situation to her own advantage. The more confused Shade became, the easier it would be for her own plans to succeed.
Shade didn’t answer her friend. She shifted the valise to one side and laid down on the bed. She turned away from the television, curled up in a foetal position, held unto a pillow and continued crying.
Gbenga’s eyes were set on the moving lips of the maid, but he wasn’t listening to anything she said. This was supposed to be a talk but it turned out to be a lecture. Gbenga had not said a word since the maid started talking.
“Are you listening to me?” Yemi snapped at him.
“I am not going to get rid of this pregnancy. I am going to keep this baby and there is nothing you can do about it.”
Little beads of sweat formed on Gbenga’s wrinkled brow as he stood by the bed listening to Yemi’s rant. How did he put himself in such a situation that his maid would have the effontery to talk to him like this? Everything was happening so fast. Last night Ngozi threw herself at him without shame. Now this.
“If you are a real man you will take care of me and my baby like you promised,” Yemi said.
Gbenga made a fist with his right hand. Either the maid didn’t see it or she didn’t care.
“As far as our tradition goes, as soon as I give birth to this baby I will become your wife. You have to start treating me like you would treat your wife, with respect.”
Gbenga blinked as if he had just come out of a hypnotic spell. “What did you say?” he asked.
Yemi took a step closer.”I am going to be your wife. When our baby arrives, you will go and see my uncle and other relatives and they will tell you what to do about the bride price and other requirements for the traditional marriage.”
At that moment, Gbenga looked for something he could hold, something he could use to end the senseless, vapid and infuriating prattle of the maid. He looked at the pillows on the bed, he looked at the metal lamp sitting on the antique reading desk in a corner of the room, he looked at the bronze statuette standing outside the bathroom door, he looked at the shoes Shade left by the bedside and finally looked at his trembling hands and shook his head.
“No,” he muttered to himself. ‘No,” he said again.
“Why are you looking around the room as if you lost something?” Yemi asked.
“Are we done here?” He asked.
“Yes, we are.”
Gbenga turned around and reached for the door.
“One more thing,” Yemi said.
Gbenga stopped in his tracks.
“I want you to tell that woman Ngozi never to enter this house again. Last night was the first and last time she would sleep in this room.”
Gbenga turned around. He lifted his right hand slowly to his head which throbbed with a headache. His eyes turned into two murderous slits. Yemi gave no indication that she noticed the way his shoulders bent slightly forward like a boxer in the ring, awaiting the sound of the bell to move against a formidable opponent.
“No SLUT will ever share our matrimonial bed with us,” the maid said with disgust.
He couldn’t recall how it happened but seconds later Yemi was tossed on the bed like a rag doll and Gbenga was bent over her, fuming like a wild animal. His trembling hands held her down on the bed by her shoulders.
Yemi struggled and trashed under him like an animal caught in an evil trap. “Let go of me!” she cried.
Gbenga looked like a man high on drugs. “I will not allow you to destroy my life! I will not!” He shouted and reached for her neck with both hands.
Segun searched the living room, looking for his phone. He had almost reached the church before he discovered that his phone was missing. He drove back to Gbenga’s house to look for it. He found the phone lying on the dinning table. He picked it up and hurried to the door. As his hand touched the door handle, he heard a scream from upstairs.
“Aaah! Somebody help me!”
“That’s Yemi,” he said to himself. He turned around and bounded up the stairs like a world class athlete. He could hear the struggle coming from the master bedroom. He tried the door handle, but the door was locked from inside.
He pounded the door with his fist. “Open this door now!” He shouted but no one answered him.
Yemi’s voice sounded weak. He had to do something before it was too late for her.
Segun took two steps backward and threw himself at the door shoulder first, like a rugby player. The door broke open on impact. Segun winced in pain, staggered into the room and fell clumsily to the floor. He struggled to his feet and looked at the scene on the bed. “Gbenga, what have you done?” he asked, afraid that he was already too late.
To be continued.