EPISODE 18 (THE FINALE)
Nnenna unwrapped the present in her hands carefully. She didn’t want to tear the wrapping sheet. But Kiki, in her restless nature, threw a hand in and yanked off the whole sheet. Nnenna wagged a warning finger at her and turned her eyes back to her Valentine’s gift. It was a red t-shirt with the words Best.Mom.Ever.
She looked up at Jimi who was standing before her and smiled. He was wearing a similar t-shirt that had the words Tied.To.Her.Apron.Strings.
“Happy Valentine’s, mom.” He hugged and sat next to her. “I’m sorry if what I said or did that day hurt you. I didn’t mean to.”
“It’s okay, oko mi. You know I can never be angry at you for long.”
“But I hope she… Chimarya is gone?”
“She is. I just couldn’t take it anymore. Love was turning to hate and I can’t hate the mother of my child.”
“Glad you made the right choice. And how is Tay?”
“She’s fine.” Jimi stared at his watch.
“In fact, I should be on my way to Abuja now.”
“Oya, be going.” She tapped him off her couch. “Congratulations, by the way.”
“Congrats for what?”
“Uh-oh.” Nnenna covered her mouth.
“She’s not told you yet.”
“Told me what, mom?”
“Terdoo is pregnant. Her mom called and told me. I thought you knew.”
“I’m just hearing about it. She’s pregnant?”
“Three months or thereabouts.”
Jimi was stunned but pleasantly. He jumped off his mother’s couch and picked Kiki up.
“And you, happy Val’s.” He pushed a chocolate bar into her hand and gave her a kiss before dashing out of the house.
* * * * * *
Terdoo was speechless as were her colleagues. They all stood in the only available space in her office, watching as delivery men dropped Valentine gift after Valentine gift. Everything she had joked to Liam that she wanted was delivered to her, including a Pug puppy. That had been her final wish. She remembered telling him she didn’t even know what a Pug puppy looked like; she had only heard some spoilt kids at Cedi Plaza yapping about it. Now she couldn’t believe the puppy lay on her table, its head resting on its front legs, staring at her.
“Awww,” her colleagues said in unison as they spotted it.
“There’s a note on its collar.” One of them jumped over gift boxes and picked the animal. She flipped open a little, red card shaped in a heart hanging off its collar.
“Sad that you’d pick a puppy over me,” the girl read out loud, “but here’s your puppy. Now can you pick me?”
“Awww,” the ladies droned again and Terdoo shook her head.
“Signed…J. B.” The girl shut the card and looked at Terdoo. “Who is J.B?”
Terdoo dashed out of her office and walked straight into Liam’s. He was crouched over his desk scribbling something on a paper.
“You went and told Jimi everything I told you I wanted? What is wrong with you? Jimi is extravagant! He would buy the world for me if I asked.”
Liam kept his head down. “I wonder why you didn’t ask for a car, considering he gave your rival a quarter of a hundred million.”
“He’s trying to buy my love back?”
“I’m busy, Miss. Kpandegh. See me after office hours.”
Terdoo snatched the pen off Liam’s hand and he gave her an impatient stare.
“What are you guys up to?”
Liam rested his chin on his hand and stared at her vacantly. “Like I told you, I want you happy. If you’re happy, my boy is happy. I am happy. Business thrives. Money comes in. Girls go gaga for my swag. I get laid and stay happy and the cycle continues.”
“Nothing sinister up your sleeves and Jimi’s?”
“With all the nonsense mistakes our fathers made plus the ones Marie, Jimi and I added, I’d say nothing sinister should be allowed to crawl up anyone’s sleeves from now on. Let’s all behave. Starting from you. Go home, have a warm bath, shave the necessary parts, spray on some nice perfume and wait for the love of your life.”
Liam picked another pen from a penholder and continued with his writing.
“When did you and Jimi even know each other that you decided to become best friends behind my back?”
“This pregnancy is really making you all dramatic.”
She puffed and walked out. The delivery men were waiting outside her office. She left her signature in a book they handed to her, picked the puppy and called it a day.
* * * * * *
Terdoo stepped out of the hired cab that parked in front of her house. She stopped to talk to her neighbors, two skinny girls whom she suspected were commercial sex workers. They were both dressed in Valentine regalia, all red and white. One of them went as far as having a dash of red weave inserted into her hair. They gushed over the Pug puppy and the one with the red hair asked to adopt it for the weekend since she was going to be boyfriend-less. Terdoo obliged only because the girls already had two dogs under their care. Wishing them a happy valentine’s, she made a beeline for her front door. As she made to insert her key, she noticed that the door was open. She stepped back a little and gave it a good eye before she turned to her neighbors. Just as she was about to ask if they noticed any strange activity around her apartment, the door opened from within and Jimi drew her in.
He closed the door and locked it, then crushed her lips with a kiss. She pushed him away.
“It’s not even going to work. You’re still in the doghouse. And who gave you my key sef? In short, don’t even answer. Liam is such a Judas.”
“Come on, Tido. Why are you being so difficult?”
“You involved Liam in our matter, abi? And knowing I would soften towards you if you gave me the impression that something was wrong with you, you went and traveled to Lagos and left me worried.”
Jimi scratched his head and sighed. Terdoo kept her lips pressed tight, her arms crossed.
“I got all your gifts, by the way,” she muttered. “Thank you but they’re too much, if you ask me.”
“The lady gets what the lady wants.”
“How is Marie?”
“I haven’t heard from her. Tido, is there ever going to be an ‘us’?” Jimi asked. “I mean, I have tried everything but having you standing here and looking at me with those angry, little eyes is not doing any good to my ego.”
“Maybe you should take off your glasses so I can look into your eyes and see if you’ll be worth my time.”
Jimi did as she requested and she held his stare for only a few seconds before he averted his eyes. The action alone melted her. He was still the same Jimi she knew who couldn’t look into a woman’s eyes for long. Nothing had changed about him, about them. She sighed in gratitude.
“Can I trust you?” she asked.
“Of course you can, Tido. I already told you…”
“No, I don’t mean that. Follow me.”
She led the way to her bedroom and found that he had made himself comfortable already. A few of his things rested on the floor beside the bed.
“You have liver o.”
She entered her bathroom and returned with a bowl, a towel, a bottle of baby soap and a shaving stick.
“Someone told me to shave the necessary parts but I’m too scared to. Can I trust you?”
Jimi raised his brows and laughed. She wrestled with a smile but it showed in her eyes.
“Oya, assume the position.”
“Be gentle o.”
She laid back and lifted her skirt.
“So I’m forgiven?” he asked as he took off her underwear.
“As long as you don’t hurt me.”
“I won’t. I promise.”
She felt something cold and slippery over her delicate parts and held her breath.
“Trust me na. Do you want it bare or…”
The shaving stick began its work over her skin and her pulse quickened. A torturous seven minutes ensued as Jimi shaved her with all concentration and gentleness. He used a towel and fresh water to dab the area clean after he was done. He took the shaving kit back to the bathroom and returned to her. Then he lay beside her and left a cool hand over her lower abdomen.
She faced him. “You’re going to be a daddy again.”
“I know. Alhaja told me. She said your mom told her. Why were you hiding it from me?”
“I was waiting for the perfect time.”
“And why are you hiding your impending marriage to Liam from me?”
Terdoo had no answer in her defense.
“I made that decision out of anger but I can’t back out now. That inheritance belongs to Liam and I want to help him. Do you have a problem with that?”
“No. You being pregnant for me is enough grounds to have the marriage annulled. Besides, I trust you.” He took her hand and placed it over his shoulder. “Do you trust me, Terdoo?”
“You just shaved my most private part with a sharp razor. If that’s not trust, I don’t know what is.”
He smiled, grabbed her and kissed her.
“Should we test what u just shaved?”
She grinned and pulled him to her. It was a long session of slow, hushed sex that left them both exhausted.
Terdoo saw Jimi suppress a yawn as her hand administered a relaxing massage on his shoulder.
“The thought of another baby makes me very happy,” he mumbled tiredly. His eyelids fluttered a few times. “Dinner tonight by eight with Liam and his date,” he whispered and fell into a nap.
* * * * * *
The double date idea was a blast. Liam’s companion was all over him without shame, leaving kisses anywhere her lips deemed necessary. Liam didn’t mind. Actually, nobody did; especially not the other couples in the restaurant that were all in a lovey-dovey mood. Terdoo and Jimi left before their designated time. They stopped a cab outside the restaurant and settled in the backseat, snuggled against each other.
“You’re easy to fall in love with, Tido.”
“Yet you’re finding it hard to.”
“No, I’m growing into love. I learnt love comes with a whole lot of other things.”
“Responsibility, friendship, selflessness, trust, a solid plan for the future and in our case, a baby.”
“Too much talk, Jimi.” Terdoo listened to the beating of his heart. “Me, I just fell.”
“While I am still falling,” he pinched her nose lightly, “little by little. Falling for the forgiving and understanding woman you are. Falling for the maturity you radiate. Falling for all those times you selflessly cared for me and I didn’t know it. Falling for your patience and compassion. Falling for the assurance you bring. Falling for you, Tido.”
Some radio station was playing love songs in keeping with the mood of the moment and the cabman left the volume on a low tone. Terdoo snuggled in closer and Jimi’s hands held her as if afraid she’d fall if he let go. They remained that way until the cab stopped right outside her apartment. They got in and strolled leisurely to her bedroom as though the embers between them weren’t enough to spark something fervent. Terdoo was burning for him but he was holding back.
In the darkness they stood and he took her hand.
“I’m afraid, Tido.”
He placed her hand over his heart.
“It’s beating really fast.”
“It’s supposed to be normal. It usually goes away but I’m scared that we’ll start something that would fade off somewhere along the way. Are you going to ever leave me?”
She made out his face in the darkness and held it. Her eyes kept his fastened to hers.
“I’m going nowhere. Never. I’m always here.”
“This is why I’m falling.” His eyes twinkled “You simplify my life.”
“Well, you’d better start simplifying mine right now or I’ll die out of sex-starvation.”
Jimi let out an unbalanced smile; it was the first thing she fell in love with about him. Of late it had disappeared but she was glad to see it on his face again.
He lowered his head and brought his face to hers, their noses touching. He teased her lips with his breath and his fingers began to let down the zip of her gown, brushing against the back of her neck all the way down. He slid the gown off her hands and gently let it roll to stop over the swell of her hips.
There he stopped and went for the light switch.
“What are you doing?” She covered her breasts, forgetting they were well tucked in a bra.
He took out a camera from his bag and turned it on.
“Are you kidding me? Jimi? I’m a horny, pregnant woman here. I need my man. Do I have to beg?”
“I’m not horny,” he confessed and leaned on her dresser.
“Look into the camera. I just want a shot, please.”
She rolled her eyes. “Olujimi?”
“Take One. 14th February 2014. Priceless moment with the mother of my unborn child and future wife. Isn’t she lovely? Look at that angry face. She sooo wants me right now.”
Terdoo took off her gown and bra and flung it at him. The camera followed her as she slumped into the bed and burrowed under her blanket. Jimi went after her and pulled the blanket away. She didn’t bother to hide her breasts anymore. She also didn’t hide her pent-up sexual frustration but Jimi was adamant about not wanting to make love. He played with his camera some more before he turned it off and found her under the blanket again. She was beginning to doze off when his body covered hers.
“Are you…?” she asked.
“No,” he replied and kissed her cheek. “Good night.”
She murmured the same and slept off, leaving him wide awake. He picked the camera once more and took a discreet video of her asleep and then he lay back, connected it to his laptop and began to watch it, placing it side by side with another video of Marie. He left Terdoo’s on repeat and it ran over and over while all of Marie’s videos played and stopped in one long succession, each of them starting from the beginning to the end and finding their demise in his recycle bin. Images of her suffered the same fate, all extracted from a folder he titled ‘Wifey’. When the last one was gone, he clicked on Terdoo’s video and transferred it into the same folder.
He heaved a sigh and shut the laptop. The dawn was beginning to break and he was surprised to find that he had spent the whole night erasing Marie from his life. He went for Terdoo again and enfolded her in his arms protectively.
She smiled in her sleep as he shut his eyes. He was snoring in a low key tone beside her not long after.
* * * * * *
This was how it all began…
He woke up.
Her smile was blinding…
but maybe it was the morning sun in his face.
He blinked to adjust his eyesight, away from the brightness, and back into the beautiful gap-toothed smile that was before him. She who had the blinding smile laughed at his dilemma and stretched up like a kitten to pull the curtains close. She returned to the bed and he had her in his arms.
“Don’t go,” he pleaded. She giggled and kissed him. It was a tease-kiss. She squirmed away from his arms and got off the bed. She stood, nude and beautiful…
“Olujimi!” someone called and he was jarred out of his dream, back into a different place and time and she with the blinding smile was gone, an ephemeral memory.
“You will sleep all day while your sister is getting married, abi?”
Jimi rubbed his eyes and focused them on Nnenna who was standing at his bedroom door.
“I know you’re not feeling well, Oko mi but it’s your sister’s day. Come out, before her mother starts sharpening her mouth to spread nonsense rumors about us.”
The door slammed as she went away. Jimi yawned and looked around. He was dreaming again about ‘her’ but this had been so much more. He had dreamed the entire pages of a new movie script he had just written.
It was crazy.
He forced himself out of bed, had his shower, took his drugs and wore the Ankara for the day, the one all his family members were wearing. Looking and smelling good in the outfit, he added a pair of Ray Ban’s to compliment his appearance. There were going to be many strange females around; it was only wise to drive them away by hiding behind dark sunshades.
He stepped out of his bedroom and walked down a hallway that led him to a staircase. He peeped down below. The house was like a marketplace. Relatives and family friends were all present for his stepsister, Fatima’s wedding. Most of them had complained about the distance but somehow still found their way from Lagos and the west, up north to Jos. Now there was not a single space in the house that wasn’t occupied.
Three girls walked past him and mumbled greetings before bursting out in shy giggles. He pretended not to hear and continued down, his newly-acquired camera hanging off his neck. He greeted uncles and aunts and a few times lay down flat on the floor to show respect even though he had a mad migraine that was worsening, thanks to the loud Fuji music blasting through the entire house. He left his camera running as it hung on his neck, making a recording he was going to edit for Fatima and her husband later as a wedding gift.
He walked out of the house to the backyard where the Nikah itself was taking place. The massive backyard once used to hold the guest house and boy’s quarters but both had been pulled down as age had taken a toll on them. Plans were set for new buildings in their stead but before then, it was considered a good place to have Fatima’s wedding.
Jimi picked a chair at the back, away from the speakers. He sat down and lifted the camera off his neck and held it out. Somehow the corner in which he sat was a tad elevated and he could view the front where Fatima’s husband and his entourage were doing the customary dobale before Alhaji, his first wife who was Fatima’s mother, Nnenna and other elders in the family. Jimi filmed the entire thing and then let the camera graze around to capture guests in the crowd.
And then just like that, as if fate had written it out in his favor, all the people that inspired the main characters in his recently just concluded movie script appeared in the area.
Toshiba. He was their electrician back in Lagos. They had brought him to rewire the entire house in Jos because it was old and had faulty wiring.
Ato. A quiet, reserved guy that was always with his business partner, Jude, who was equally reserved. Both of them worked with Jimi’s father as gold merchants.
Sesan, the DJ, had been flown in from Lagos as well. Sadly, he was tortured as he watched his childhood crush, Fatima, get married.
Nandir was Jimi’s next door neighbor from Lagos. She lived with her cousin, Nanle. Jimi knew she could be the next big thing to Omotola if only she stopped trying to get into his pants.
Liam was Jimi’s half-Edo, half-Irish best friend who couldn’t keep his zipper up. His latest obsession was Terdoo, the girl that managed Alhaji’s office on Lagos mainland. But her sights were on Jimi and she gunned for him with the determination that was characteristic of a working class Lagos girl. But they were only friends with benefits. He was interested in her best friend.
Marie. The one who invaded his dreams. He knew little about her but he was desperate to have her. He was crazy about her lips that were always, parted revealing her gap-tooth. In the script he wrote, she was his wife and lifeline, the one that had his daughter, freed him from his shell and brought out his confidence. In real life, they were strangers and had only exchanged a few words even though the chemistry between them was strong.
He was going to have her soon…
Liam waved a hand at him, breaking Jimi’s thoughts. He was standing with Terdoo and Marie, next to the place where the meals were being served. Terdoo also waved a cheerful greeting but Marie merely smiled and left a twinkle in her eye for Jimi. He positioned his camera to capture the smile but she turned her back to him and together with Liam and Terdoo, walked away.
Jimi endured the rest of the Nikah as hours went by. Darkness fell and he decided it was time to finally go to bed. He went up to his bedroom and walked in. He flicked on the light switch on the wall. Bright lights struck his eyes but so did the stunning beauty lying on his bed.
Dressed in a simple purple dress with pockets on the sides, she looked amazing. A Bohemian weave adorned her beautiful, round face that was rested in sleep.
He didn’t want to wake her but he didn’t want to go away either. He desired to stand there and take it all in. And that was exactly what he did. He turned on his camera and began to record. So engrossed he was that he didn’t want to stop even when she stirred, until she made a full turn. He stopped the recording and moved back a step.
“Jimi?” she sat up.
“Sorry for taking over your bed. I was so tired.”
She let down her legs from the bed and stood up. Her dress straightened out, covering her shapely legs. She fixed her hair, picked her purse and phone and walked towards him. They stood, facing each other, separated by only a hair’s breadth and Jimi could feel that kiss he had so fantasized about coming. He could almost taste it…
“Jimi, you’re blocking the door.”
But he hadn’t heard her. What he heard was “Jimi, kiss me.”
And he obeyed without hesitation as he held her waist, leaned forward and took her lips for the first time. It was almost as good as having an orgasm and he let it linger until she moved backwards. She freed his camera off his neck and took off his glasses. He helped her put them away and they went for a second kiss. This time he was bolder and drew closer. But it seemed she wanted more. Her fingers caressed and scratched the nape of his neck gently but feverishly and found their way down to his chest, squeezing his dashiki and pressing herself into him. At that point he lost all control.
She knew exactly what she wanted and she made no hesitations as her hands went under his dashiki and undid the rope that held his sokoto together.
It was all familiar to him, just like in the story. The lines had read that they both had taken a road trip from Lagos all the way to Jos and in this same room, made love for the first time on the same bed that was calling out to them at the moment.
“I’ve wanted you for so long, Jimi,” Marie murmured in his ear. “Rumor has it that you’re a virgin. Is it true?”
“Why don’t you find out?”
“I can’t wait.”
He led her to the bed and laid her down. They kissed and caressed and explored their nude bodies under the bright lights of his room and when they couldn’t take it anymore, they made love. He was passionate and loving; she was wild like an amazon warrior princess. It was just like his fantasies and script had written out.
But it was more than just lovemaking. They went on and on until they both couldn’t take any more pleasure. They fell into a heap and spent the moment soaking in each other’s breaths before they rested their backs on the bed.
Minutes ticked on in his head. He was dying to show her his script, and how he had written about her, and about them and their love and their baby, and how she used to call him baby daddy and their perfect happy ending.
But that was never going to be.
“I have to go, Jimi. Terdoo would be worried about me.”
Marie got off the bed and began to wear her clothes.
“So you’re Alhaji’s only son and heir to all he has, you and Fatima?”
“Lucky you. At least one rumor pans out true. The one about you being a virgin, though…” She laughed. “I wonder who started it.”
Definitely Liam who felt Jimi was not getting enough action. So far the guy’s lying tongue had helped Jimi in the downstairs department a few times.
“Can I have your number, Marie?”
“No, you may not have my number, sweetheart.”
“Because, this is a onetime thing and it will never repeat itself.” She released a coy smile.
Marie dipped her hand into one of her pockets and produced a wedding band. “I’m married.”
Jimi’s eyes widened and he hoisted himself up slowly. “You’re what? Are you-are you serious? It’s a joke, right?”
“No. I thought you knew. Didn’t Liam tell you?”
“Well, my husband stays somewhere in Brazil.”
Jimi was appalled and irritated at himself all at once but Marie held her smile. She walked to the door and turned.
“Well, for all it was worth, I got to sleep with the shy, stinking rich, award-winning director and I had the time of my life. Hope this stays between us?”
Jimi didn’t have an answer. He just wanted her out of his room, his attraction for her was turning to hate.
“You should give Terdoo a chance, though. Be her boyfriend. Actually, it was she who wouldn’t shut up about how good you were in bed. I had to see for myself. But hope we’re cool? No hard feelings?”
“Get out, Marie.”
She wasn’t the least bit moved by his tone and she left a giggle echoing in his ear long after she was gone. Jimi threw off his beddings in anger and flung them to a side of the room. In one of the pockets of his sokoto, he picked out a key and unlocked a drawer attached to his nightstand. Out of it, he produced his laptop and flipped it open. It went on and prompted a password. He typed one in; the screen lit up, displaying an open Word document. He scrolled to the final page and made a new heading.
Major changes: Lead female character could be possibly 419? Con artist? Married to a Brazilian? Or a guy staying in Brazil? Who gives a hoot? Screw the mean girl and her story up. Give the other chick her man and a happy ending.
New possible title:
Lying, Cheating bitch?
Cheating, Conniving Wife?
No Hard Feelings?
No Heart Feelings?
NO HEART FEELINGS
Sally loves to write. She has written so many plays and short stories. She is the author of the Fish Brain series and has written other online series like The Immortals’ Code, No heart Feelings, To Tame a Virgin and In Pursuit of Kyenpia. She lives in Lagos with her husband and daughter and loves the occasional bar lounging with friends.
She blogs on www.moskedapages.com or you can follow her on Twitter @NovocainKnights.