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I tried to digest what Austin had just said to me. “Suspended?” I asked.
He nodded and then took his seat. “Ijeoma, it came as a surprise to me too and I had to rush down to the office from the hospital when I got the call, but we lost the deal and the Chairman was so angry that he ordered that you be suspended.” He replied as he passed his phone to me. “I have the message from the Chairman there. Your letter is in the office.” He added.
I scoffed. “I made the Chairman and I’ll take him down in an instant.” Austin stared at Tiwa and then back at me. I rolled my eyes as I got his message. “Fine, but this won’t be the end of it.” I replied and pressed the button on my wheelchair. “I’ll be upstairs.” I added and drove off.
Tiwa stared at Austin. “Mind telling me what that was about?”
He smiled faintly. “You don’t need to know about it, they are just complex office matters.” He replied as he fetched the T.V’s controller and switched the station to‘Fashion TV’. “This should interest you.” he said as he tried making a call on his phone.
“Am sorry, do I look to you as though I am still having baby food?” Tiwa asked to Austin’s surprise. “In fact, babies are not so slow.” She added.
He stared at her with a smile. “I don’t understand.” He stopped his call and stared at her.
“I rather you put it on Cartoon Network if you want to make a complete fool out of me.” she continued. “I am not a child. Why was she suspended?”
He took a deep breath. “Tiwa,…it’s just a complex office issue. Your Mom is very instrumental to us in sealing mega deals, she’s the adroit negotiator.”
“And because she decided not to show up, she gets suspended? Not even taking into consideration that she had an accident?” She asked looking puzzled.
Austin smiled. “Tiwa, it is not in my place to explain these things to you, maybe if you talk to your Mom, it would be clearer.”
“I don’t have anything to discuss with her, all I am saying is that they give her her job back, you should talk to them. It was my fault.” She replied.
I helped Olivia to a seat and took mine opposite her. “You haven’t said anything to me, you just told your Mom to excuse us.” She said as she brought out her phone.
“Olivia, Ijeoma is in a pretty bad condition and I was just thinking that I need to be with her.” I started.
She smiled. “You are always thinking of others. That’s so sweet.” She replied. I smiled. Olivia made it all so easy, she never made my life hard. “But, have you forgotten the judges’ order of ten metres, I mean, it still stands doesn’t it?” she asked.
My smile faded as I remembered the Judges’ order. “But, I was in the hospital and I didn’t get any warning from them, why would this be a problem?”
“Why exactly do you want to go there?” she asked.
I frowned. “Liv, it’s an obvious answer. I need to help her.”
“In the bathroom? In the Kitchen? Or in the Bedroom?”
I stared at her as for the first time I saw Olivia look angry. “Liv, it’s not what you think.” I started.
“I get it, Ijeoma is still your wife, and I…I am the side chick, right? Or isn’t that what they call it?” she asked. “I have read about Ijeoma Martins in the papers, she is extremely wealthy, she can have maids cook for her willingly and possibly help her in the bathroom too, why does it have to be you?”
I was silent. “I am sorry.”
“You are sorry? Why?” she asked.
I shook my head sadly. “Tiwa called me, and I…I just felt that if Tiwa saw it necessary that I go there, it had to be serious.”
“I don’t know what to say, I am sad. I am disappointed, I am going to be all alone and you would be moving in with her. How do I reconcile that?”
I took her hand. “Olivia, I am always here for you.”
She yanked her hand from my grip. “Omololu, I want you to be with me, I don’t want you going away, I’ll be alone.”
I swallowed hard. “Olivia, what if you come with me?”
She stood up looking angry. “Why do you want to humiliate me? How do you want me to stay in the same house with you and your wife? Isn’t that too much? You want her to call me your mistress?”
I scoffed. “You are not my mistress! I am going to marry you as soon as I divorce Ijeoma.”
“And when would you file for the divorce?” she asked.
“I…I don’t know.” I replied.
She nodded and picked up her bag. “Fine, when you know, call me.” she said as she motioned towards the door.
I ran after her holding her back. “Olivia, please.”
She smiled and pecked me. “It’s fine.”
“Are you sure?”
She squeezed my hand and walked out.
“Are you still going?”
I turned to Mom who had now come into the living room. I took my seat beside her. “I am breaking Olivia’s heart, right?”
“You have to be careful, Son.” She replied. “It’s your decision to make in the end.”
“I am staying with Olivia.” I replied.
Austin passed his phone to Tiwa. “What is this?” she asked.
“Just check it out.” he replied as he turned the Television. “I’ll watch football while you engage yourself with that.”
She shrugged and passed the phone to him. “I might as well watch soccer too instead of reading anonymous stuffs.”
He smiled and tossed the phone back at her. “You must read it.”
She rolled her eyes. “Who is Lord Tanner?” she asked staring into the phone.
“That’s why you are with the phone.” he replied grinning. “Read it.”
Tiwa smiled back. “So what am I to do with it?”
“My…My ex works there. It is a theatre group. They perform stage plays and go on tours from city to city within Nigeria publicizing their dramas.” He started. Tiwa sat up and listened with rapt attention. “I am subscribed to their mailing list so I know they have a stage play this weekend, if you don’t mind, we could go and see it together.”
She shrugged. “I…I don’t know.”
“If you are worried about Ijeoma, it’s not a problem. She’ll let me take you there.”
She nodded as she stared into the phone. “What if I don’t find it interesting?”
Austin paused and then smiled. “Then I’ll buy you dinner.”
“You are buying me dinner either ways, so just place a better bet.” She replied.
He raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure that you haven’t lived with Ijeoma at one time in your life before now?”
She shrugged. “If when I was a baby and unaware of existence doesn’t count, then no.” He smiled and then started to laugh. “What’s so funny?”
“You sound just like Ijeoma. When she newly arrived in Lagos, I was her first friend and housemate.”
Tiwa stared at him. “Housemate?”
He nodded with a smile. “Yeah, she and I lived in the same house, we had to save our first salaries so it made sense to live together.”
Tiwa laughed scornfully. “Didn’t she find any female friends?”
“Oh? … I helped her out with the kitchen duties.”
Tiwa frowned. “Don’t play with me, how would a grown man and a grown woman live in the same house together?”
“Why not? Ijeoma would not stop whining about Omololu, and I am a really decent man.”
She nodded with sarcasm. “They all say so.”
Austin smiled. “So, would you go with me to the Lord Tanner show?”
“Why are you so interested in going?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I just want to take you there.”
“Or you want to see your ex?”
He smiled faintly. “Ex?”
“You mentioned it to me earlier that your ex works there.”
“Yes, that’s true. But, we are done.” He replied as sprawled out on the seat.
She nodded. “Do you miss her?”
He shook his head in disagreement. “No.”
“You are lying.”
He scoffed. “I don’t have to, and I don’t have to talk about my private life with a kid.”
“Kid? You have to be kidding me.”
Mom strolled into the living room for the umpteenth time and returned to the kitchen and then her room. She’d walk back and forth, stamp her foot, mumble over inaudible words and then return inside.
“Mom, this can’t continue.” I said as she walked into the living room again.
She stared at me as though she was clueless about it. “I am…I am just relieving myself.”
I nodded. “Mom, I don’t know what to do, you have to help me.”
“Omololu, I know you care a lot about Olivia and I know you are grateful to her…”
I sprang up from the chair cutting her short. “I am not grateful to her, I love her. I am not with Olivia out of appreciation.”
She smiled faintly. “Have it your way, Son. Although your defensiveness shows that I am right.”
“Stop it, Mom. Olivia is important to me.” I argued.
She nodded. “I haven’t said otherwise. I am only saying that I know where you heart lies.”
“Sop exaggerating it, Mom. I can never be with Ijeoma and you know it.”
She sighed. “Is it so hard to forget? I…I know how you felt, but, Omololu…please.”
I scoffed and pulled my bag. “I am going to Ijeoma’s.”
Mom smiled. “Have you thought of what Olivia would say?”
I took a deep breath. “Olivia is right about one thing, Ijeoma is still my wife and I’ll do what any honorable man would do.” I said heading for the door.
“Did you mean what any man in love would do?” Mom asked with a smile.
I smiled back and walked out.
I drove the wheelchair back and forth as I sipped my drink. Tiwa and Austin were engaged in a discussion I didn’t understand and I didn’t know if interrupting them would make any sense. She seemed to have found a friend in Austin, at least if I couldn’t be a good mother or friend, Austin could help me out. He had always helped me out.
“I am a married woman.” I said as I dropped my bag in my room.
He smiled. “And I am a single man.” He replied.
I eyeballed him coldly.
“Don’t worry, I have no interest in you, you are not my type.” He replied as he hurled a blanket at me. “We could manage this place pending the time I get a bigger one, because, I am so sure that I would be promoted in no time and you my dear, you can have this place.” He cooed.
“Show off.” I replied as I started to lay the bed.
He smiled. “So tell me about your family except Omololu.”
“Omololu is my life.” I said with a wide grin.
He scoffed. “You don’t stop, do you?” he asked. He stared at me for a while. “I like your neck chain.” He said.
“It’s Omololu’s.” I replied.
He sighed and took his seat. “I like someone too, but I don’t know how strong it is. We are complicated. We break up all the time and come back and break up and all.”
I stared at him. “You need to stop breaking up…learn how to have a fight.” I replied.
“I’ll try, but I certainly don’t promise you a thing.”
I shrugged with slight defiance. “I really don’t care. You are the one with a girlfriend. I am the one with the husband.” I replied with a grin.
The door bell chimed. Austin and Tiwa turned. “Don’t worry, I’ll get it. I am crippled, but not useless.” I said as I drove to the door. I turned the door knob and stared at Omololu.
I didn’t know what it was, but my heart leapt fast on seeing Ijeoma. It had to be pity. She was on a wheel chair even though it is a choice type, but she was on it. She just stared at me and tried to smile. She successfully did. “How are you, Omololu?” she asked.
I swallowed as I stepped forward. “Are you okay?” I asked.
She stared at me and then smiled. She then laughed. “I am not dead. Don’t cry for me. Why are you here?” she asked as she drove into the house. I closed the door and followed her.
“Daddy!” Tiwa said as she came over to me in smile. “Nice to see you here.” She said.
I hugged her and watched as Austin bent over to talk to Ijeoma. It made me angry. I had no right to be, but I was angry. He then pecked her and approached me. “Hello, Man.” He said stretching out his hand.
I took the hand firmly and then released him. “How are you, Austin?” I asked.
He smiled. “I doing great.” He replied and turned in Tiwa’s direction. “Going to Lord Tanners’ this weekend?”
She nodded with a smile. “That would be nice.” She replied. “I’ll walk you out.”
I watched them leave the house and I walked up to Ijeoma. “I am not comfortable with that man hanging around my daughter.” I said.
“And I am not comfortable with you being within ten metres. Besides, I lived with Austin for almost two years, I know him.”
I scoffed. “You can never know anyone; you can only know some things about them.”
She nodded sarcastically. “Why are you here, Omololu?”
“I am here to help you out with anything you might need.”
She smiled and then laughed mockingly. “Ten staffs are at my beck and call, they cook, wash, clean the house, drive and do whatever I ask.”
She folded her arm. “What about your…your girlfriend? I won’t be comfortable having my man come over to help another woman.”
“Another woman? Is that who you think you are to me?”
She stared at me and then smiled. “Wow…I am impressed. You actually still love me.”
I paused. “Love? Don’t flatter yourself, Ijeoma. You are the mother of my daughter and if your condition is of no good to my daughter, I have to help her.”
She nodded sarcastically. “That’s nice to hear.”
“Where is the guest room?” I asked.
“Guest room? I am sorry, if you want to help me, you would have to sleep in my room. I won’t be ringing a bell to gain your attention.”
I felt my heart skip a beat. The thought of being close to Ijeoma again sent my blood hot. She drove closer to me. “Don’t worry, I can’t touch you.” she said staring at her legs and drove upstairs.
I followed her.
Margaret Martins flipped through her Magazine as she sipped her juice. The door bell chimed and Margaret walked over to the door. She took a peek to the door hole and opened it.
“Good evening ma.”
Margaret stepped out of the way and allowed Olivia in. “Hello Olivia. Omololu is not in. And I doubt if he’ll be back anytime soon.”
“I know. I didn’t see his car.” She replied as she motioned to a chair. “May I?”
Margaret nodded. “Please do.” Olivia took her seat and Margaret took hers opposite her. “I know you are not here for any camaraderie, so can we cut to the chase?”
Olivia smiled. “Why do you think the worst of me?”
“I don’t think the worst of you. I know you are up to no good.”
Olivia relaxed in her seat. “I don’t understand. When did loving your son become a crime?”
“How about manipulating my son? How about taking advantage of a vulnerable man? How about using your psychological talents to hypnotize him and make him do what you want?”
Olivia shook her head sadly. “I am…I am speechless. All I ever wanted and did was love Lolu.”
“And yes, you did it in your way. What is the game plan? Why are you here? You want to win my support and love. No.”
Olivia wiped her forehead. “I can’t understand your unreasonable hatred for me.” she started. “I loved your son when that woman kicked him away, I showered with all my love and life, I have been nothing but loyal and loving to him, and I can’t understand why you want to see evil in every of my kindness. What sort of a mother does that?”
“A mother that loves her son.”
Olivia scoffed. “Love? I can only see unnecessary solidarity to Ijeoma Martins here, and I understand that Ijeoma is currently in the list of the ‘Most Influential women in Lagos’, but-”
“Hold it right there! What are you insinuating?” Margaret shouted.
Olivia took a deep breath. “I know it’s hard to admit but I leave you to your conscience, I might not be able to offer all the wealth that Ijeoma can, but, I can give love and that is something that you won’t deny Omololu and I of.” She concluded as she picked up her bag. “I know I might have sounded wrong and all, but, I will fight for Omololu’s love, and I will win it.” She replied as she approached the door. She paused and stared at Margaret. “What if I was your daughter? Why don’t you be more patient with me and allow me win your heart like I won Omololu’s?”
“Won? You don’t have Omololu.” Margaret replied. “If you did, he won’t be with Ijeoma right now.”
Olivia smiled. “Lolu is doing what a good man would do, he is helping her.”
Margaret nodded. “I leave you to your fantasy and foolishness. Close the door on your way out.”
I watched Omololu as he took off his shirt. I swallowed and turned my chair away. It had been years since I felt like this around any man. Actually, Omololu had been the only man and ever since I left Ibadan I had been alone. I never felt that way except for tonight. “You could actually do this in the bathroom.” I said as I picked up my magazine from the edge of the bed and drove my wheelchair closer to the closet.
“You are the reason why I am here so you might as well deal with it if I have to take off my clothes here.” He replied as adjusted his towel. “Have you had your night shower?” he asked.
I ignored him.
“Ijeoma!” he called.
I shook my head. “I don’t have night showers anymore.”
“Since when?” he asked.
“Since my accident.” I replied and flipped the page of the magazine. He walked up to and picked me up from the chair. “What are you doing?” I protested.
He ignored and pushed the door to the bathroom open. “Good thing there is a Jacuzzi here. I’ll run the tub. Hot?” he asked as he reached for my top.
I slapped his hand away. “What are you doing?”
“You are going to have a bath and I need to take off the clothes.” He replied as he removed the clothes. This time I didn’t resist, I just let him undress me.
I watched as he ran his eyes through my naked body and I rubbed the soap slowly. “Omololu stop.” I said.
“I don’t understand.” He replied and he continued rubbing the soap down by body.
I took his hand. “Just take me out of here, please…”
He took a deep breath. “I’ll soon be through, then I’ll take to your bed.” He replied and ran some water through my hair as he washed it.
I wrapped a towel around Ijeoma and carried her into the bedroom. She looked fragile as she stared at me. “You can stop staring at me, Ijeoma.” I said with a smile.
“What were you trying to do in there?” she asked staring at me.
I fetched the moisturizer and sat beside her. “I was helping you in the bathroom. It seems you were the one having ideas.” I replied as I rubbed the cream on her body.
“I don’t use moisturizers at night.” she replied. “I’ll sweat all night.”
I stared at the A.C “It works well; I’ll turn it off and on at your request.”
“Are you saying you won’t sleep?” she asked.
I scoffed. “Why not? You seem to forget that I am a light sleeper.” I said with a smile.
She laughed. “And you would wake me every time that Tiwa cried at night.”
“Yeah…I mean, you could sleep on a log in water, Tiwa suffered a lot at nights.” I continued as I rubbed the cream on her body.
She smiled. “And you would sing to her at night. She loved listening to your voice…” she said and started to laugh.
“Quit the sarcasm.” I replied as I stared at her as she laughed. Ijeoma laughed freely, I was always wowed by her free laughter. I kept my eyes on her and I drew closer to her.
She stopped laughing as soon as I came too close. My heart raced fast as I ran my eyes through her face and then our lips met. I forgot everything I felt, every hurt and every fear as I drew myself on top of her and made love to my wife like the first time.