‘This looks so good on you,’ Uche said admiring the necklace on her friend’s neck.
Shade smiled. ‘And it is real gold,’ she said with some pride.
Uche examined the pendant that swung from the chain. She had a concerned look on her face. ‘Shade, this looks like a mermaid. Why are you wearing it?’
Shade caressed the pendant. ‘This was a Christmas gift from deacon Soleye in church. It came with a matching bracelet.’
Uche sat back in her chair. ‘Deacon Soleye gave you a necklace and bracelet as a Christmas gift? That doesn’t sound right. Why would he give you such a gift when he knows that you are already taken by another man? What did Kola your fiancé say about this?’
Shade’s eyes fell like a child who was caught lying. ‘I didn’t tell him about this.’ She lifted her head. ‘And I will really appreciate it if you kept this between us.’
Uche regarded her friend with suspicion. ‘You mean a man gave you such an expensive gift and you didn’t tell the man you are going to marry? What is going on here?’
Shade was silent for a moment, then she turned to Uche. ‘Kola is my fiancé and not my husband. We are not yet married. Should I tell him everything that goes on in my life? Shouldn’t I have some privacy?’ she asked.
Uche’s mouth hung open as she regarded her friend in shock. ‘I don’t understand. Are you telling me that the introduction and wine carrying ceremony you did in Osogbo counted for nothing? Remember that Kola was ready to go ahead with the whole wedding formalities but you said he should wait until April. Why you did that I have no idea. That guy was ready to marry you but you said he should wait and now you are saying that you want some privacy in your life? Are you really sure you want to get married? Uche asked her friend.
‘This is not what you think it is. You are taking everything out of context,’ Shade said.
‘What context? Isn’t Kola your fiancé anymore?’
‘He is but this gift has nothing to do with our…’ Shade stopped talking mid-sentence. She tilted her head away from Uche as if she was trying hard to hear something. Uche noticed the far away look she had in her eyes.
‘Shade, are you okay?’ Uche asked her.
Shade dropped the glass of orange juice she was drinking on the table. ‘I have to leave.’ She began to look around to put her things inside her bag.
Uche gave her a look. ‘Why are you leaving? You haven’t spent thirty minutes in this house.’ Shade said nothing. She was still looking around her to make sure she took all her items with her.
Uche regarded her closely. ‘Where are you going at this hour of the night? This was supposed to be a sleep over. Is it your mother?’
Shade nodded, her eyes not really focused on anything. ‘Yes, it is my mother. She needs me now,’ she stood up. Uche got up with her and held her hand.
‘Shade,’ Uche looked into her eyes. ‘It is almost 11pm at night. You told Kola you would sleep over at my place. Why are you changing your mind? It seems so sudden.’ Uche noticed that Shade’s hand was growing cold. She dropped it and stepped back. ‘Shade, I don’t think you should go anywhere tonight. Wait until tomorrow morning and I promise you that I will go with you to go see your mother.’
‘It will be too late by then. I have to leave now.’ She reached for the door and opened it.
Uche watched her leave with trepidation.
Forty five minutes later Shade drove into Abraham Adesanya street in Victoria island. She hooted her horn thrice before a white gate and it opened. She drove into the compound, got out of her car and entered the house. She walked up the stairs and found her way to the master bedroom.
‘You can come in,’ a man said from inside the room. She reached out, pushed the door slightly with her finger tips and it swung inward. She entered the room, stood before the bed and dropped her bag on the floor. Her eyes were opaque, as if in a trance. She didn’t smell the incense burning from a bowl in the corner of the room. She didn’t see the cow horn the diminutive man held in his right hand. Deacon Soleye sat up in bed and watched her. .
‘Take off your clothes,’ he ordered.
As she stripped off each item of clothing Soleye’s eyes grew wide with lust. She stood as bare as polished stone except for the gold chain which hung around her neck.
‘Come, join me,’ Soleye said.
Shade climbed into bed and curled up beside him.
He dropped the horn on the floor and reached for the woman, his hands trembling with desire.
Uche suddenly sat up in bed. Sleep cleared from her eyes as if someone had poured cold water on her body. The red eyes on the digital time piece sitting on her dressing table blinked at her like a sentinel. It was 1:20am. She shivered slightly as got out of bed and prostrated on her face before the Lord. There was an inexplicable heaviness on her heart. She had a horrible dream where a dark cloud had taken over the church and all the members were in bondage. She cried out to them but no one listened to her. She saw her pastor tied to a stake and tortured by an evil man. In the dream she had rescued the helpless pastor before he struck dead by the weapon the enemy held in his left hand. When she confronted the enemy, he ran away from her. Something about the enemy seemed familiar. She tried to look at his face but he wouldn’t turn around.
Her voice cracked with emotion as she began praying. ‘Lord, deliver your people from the attack of the enemy,’ the intercessor wept before the Lord, tears falling down her face. ‘Deliver us from the darkness that I see in the church,’ she wept before the Lord.
She stopped praying and sat down on the floor. She contemplated for a moment then got up, entered her sitting room and put on the light. She looked around the room, pushed back chairs and looked under the sofa. She didn’t know what she was searching for but she kept moving furniture. She found a gold bracelet under the dining table. She bent down to pick it up but something stopped her. She withdrew her hand as if the bracelet was a serpent. She looked closely at it. It didn’t belong to her. She remembered Shade talking about the braclet Soleye gave her. This must be the bracelet, she thought. There was a darkness surrounding the object. She regarded the object with suspicion. It seemed to be connected to the dream she had. She thought for a moment, stood up, entered her bedroom and returned with a bottle of olive oil. She knelt down beside the bracelet and started praying fervently for Shade Onofuwa.
Soleye regarded the woman lying on his bed with total revulsion. This had been a waste of his time. The foolish girl was a virgin! The witch doctor had warned him that he should never use it on a virgin or there would be repercussions. He was about to touch her when it crossed his mind to ask if she was a virgin. Under her hypnotic stupor the woman had answered him in the affirmative. He asked her again just to be sure she understood his question. ‘I am a virgin,’ she said. He had moved away from her as fast as he could. Being in close proximity to her could bring some grievous calamity upon him.
He got out of bed and regarded her shapely body wrapped in the bed sheet. He sighed bitterly regretting his choice. Out of all the girls in the church why had he chosen this one? Such bad luck portended nothing but disaster in the offing. He had to watch his steps from now on. He put on a black robe and went downstairs to the sitting room. He poured himself some whisky, threw the drink down and felt it sting his throat.
The members of the church called him deacon Soleye. They had no idea that in his real life he was a top member of the sagan blood cult which worshipped the mermaid. The leader of the cult had given him an assignment to destroy a church in that area. If he was successful he would be promoted in the cult and would be given more power. Soleye decided that the best way to destroy a church was from within. He randomly selected a church out of the lot in the area and became a member.
He observed that the pastor liked money more than he like his God. He knew what to do. He wrote a huge cheque and gave it to the church. Three Sundays later he repeated the same thing, this time he gave the money to the pastor. After that the pastor was all over him like a hungry dog, wanting to know who he was. The rest was easy. After he invited the pastor to his home and he saw the building and the luxury cars parked in his compound, the pastor was ready to do anything to keep him in his church. At the speed he was going, destroying the church would happen sooner than the leader of the cult anticipated.
Although the woman lying on his bed had been a disaster, he was confident that the charm would work again. He already had a target in mind: Uche Okpara, the arrogant head of the prayer department in the church. He drank the remaining contents of his glass and went back upstairs. He had to get rid of the woman lying in his bed.
Still lying prostrate before the Lord, Uche Okpara intensified her prayers.
To be continued.