Nicholas stumbled backward at the sight of the stainless steel blade. “Stella, what are you doing?” His voice trembled with fear.
“Nothing yet, but something soon.” Her tone sounded amused.
Nicholas stared at her, wondering if she has gone mad. She could be for all he knew. They hadn’t seen each other in almost six years. “What are you doing with that knife, Stella?”
“Well, I wouldn’t call this a knife.” She replied in a conversational tone. “I think this is called a dagger. You see, it is double-edged—sharpened on both sides—and symmetrically sloping to a sharp, pointed tip. ” She tilted the blade so he could see it clearly. “It is mostly a weapon—a thrusting weapon.” She jutted her hand forward and when he shrieked and jumped back, she sniggered. “Please, no girly screams… that will just be too dramatic. I am going to kill you, Nicholas, but before I do, I want you to understand why.”
“Stella…” He didn’t know what he wanted to say. His heart was thudding too loudly that he found it hard to think. “Stella… please…”
“Shut up!” She ground out, the venom sweeping back into her eyes. “Don’t beg. It is undignified. Sit! I’ll make you understand the reason for your death from a comfortable position. And don’t think of running… or this will send a bullet into your back.” Her left hand moved backward and came back with a handgun, which she pointed at him.
“Oh my God!” Nicholas exclaimed.
“Don’t let’s call God into this—He cannot save you.” Stella said. “To the sofa. Move slowly and don’t do anything sudden… or stupid.” She warned.
Nicholas moved backward, his eyes pinned to the blade and the gun trained on him. He lurched as his legs knocked against the L-shaped sofa and fell back into it.
“Feels soft, doesn’t it? I checked it out when I first entered here.” She let out a dry, brittle laugh. “I’ve never seen or sat on a leather seat so soft in all my life. And it struck me, that I helped you build this. This house. That investment company you now own. Everything inside here, every single spectacular and hideously expensive furniture in here,” she gestured with the gun, “I made it possible for you to have them all. Remember?”
He’d been working six months as a contract staff marketer at a bank when she came visiting one Saturday evening and announced that she could introduce him to her Uncle who had many contacts in various sectors and industries.
“I mean it, Nick. I can introduce you to my Uncle and he’ll help you secure a better job.” She said, slipping her hands around his shoulders. “This contract staff job is not paying at all. You’re overworking yourself, looking for big accounts for that stingy bank and they’re just paying you peanuts.”
Nicholas agreed with the peanuts pay. His salary as a contract staff was nothing to write home about. He could barely survive on it, let alone plan a future. As a matter of fact, if she didn’t always buy him foodstuffs from her own salary as a teacher in a big private school, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to make it month-in, month-out without starving. But meeting her Uncle was a different matter altogether.
“Babe, come on, how do you expect me to meet your Uncle like this?” He asked, tilting his head to frown at her. “Look at where I live—a miserable self-contained apartment without any furniture except a mattress on the floor and a second-hand 21″ television sitting on a second-hand stool.”
“Don’t forget your second-hand, tear-tear couch in the corner.” She teased, her eyes dancing with laughter.
He hissed. “My point exactly! Why would I want to meet your Uncle when I have nothing to offer you? What will I tell him are my intentions—to bring you into a wretched house reeking with poverty and lack?”
“Oh, come on, Nick, this place is not reeking with poverty and lack.” She chided. “You’re a hardworking young man with ambition and I know you’ll make it.”
“Yes, I will… but how?” He scowled. “How can I make it in this country where you have to know somebody who knows somebody before you can get a good job? How can I make it when all the interviews I attend they’re asking for three years of experience when I barely have one? How can I make it when the only jobs I am ever offered are the meagre paying kind? Tell me, Stella, how can I ever make with such damning situations, huh?”
“By working hard as you are doing already and never giving up.” Stella retorted. “And by listening to me and allowing me introduce you to my Uncle. Just meet him with your CV and see what happens.” She coaxed. “And relax, because we’re not even going to tell him you’re my boyfriend. We’ll just tell him you’re a friend of mine that I met during service.”
They’d actually met during their national service year at Enugu and had started dating since then. And even then, she had always been generous with all she had and was always a big support whenever he needed help.
“And you think he’ll believe us?” He derided.
“Of course, he will.” She asserted. “I’m the good girl who never messed up at home and everyone trusts me. Besides, he won’t even consider that we’re dating because they still think I’m a virgin… that’s what my mother tells everyone who cares to listen, that her two daughters are good girls who will only be deflowered in their husband’s home.” She rolled her eyes.
“Imagine their shock when they’ll find out that you have tasted the forbidden fruit more than a year now.” He teased.
“Tasted it with you… and because you so insisted.” She pouted. Then shrugged. “Well, they won’t find out. When you get a better job and we get married, they’ll never know… because no one will ever tell them.”
“Of course.” He smiled.
“So, say you’ll meet my Uncle? Say you’ll come with me tomorrow to visit him and say you’ll bring your along CV?”
“Stop arguing and just say yes.” She cut him off. “Say yes for me, cause I believe this is the road that will lead us to a better future.” She slid her hands over his nipple and twisted gently. “Say yes because you love me and want a better future for me… for us.” She cooed in his ear, kissing his earlobe and sliding her tongue his ear.
He felt a hardness and rise in his groin. She knew his sensitive parts and how to arouse them… because he’d taught her. He twisted around and pushed her backward into the bed. “You’re asking for trouble doing that, you know that, don’t you?”
“Am I?” Her eyes sparkled with mischief and desire.
“Yes, you are.” He murmured, looking at her. She was pretty. Not spectacularly so, but pretty enough to catch his eye. But her best asset was her banging figure. She had a body like a gorgeous Spanish bikini model—breasts full and erect and ass, jutted and curved. It had shocked him when she told him she was still a virgin at twenty-two but it had been a pleasure being the first to glide into that tightness and opening it. “You’re a pretty woman.” He told her. “But not just on the outside, you’re far prettier inside.”
“I love you.” She murmured. She was the affectionate type and never tired of telling him of her feelings. “I love you with all my heart, Nicholas.”
“You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” He whispered, leaning forward to take her mouth and sliding his hand to cup her bum as he geared up to make love to her, again.
But those words seemed forgotten when eight months later she was in the living room of his mini flat, crying as she knelt before him.
“Don’t ask me to do this, Nicholas. Please don’t ask me to do this.”
Nicholas stared furiously at her. “And what do you want me to ask you to do, huh? How can you allow this to happen? Did you do it on purpose? Are you trying to trap me into marrying you?”
“What?” Stella gaped at him, tears streaming down her face. “How can you even say that, Nicholas? Me, trap you into marriage?” She wailed and pressed a hand against her heaving chest. “Why are you saying all these, Nicholas? Why are you being cruel to me? Trap you into marrying me? Why should I do that when our plan all along was to get married anyway? Was that not the plan?”
Nicholas swallowed and turned away from her accusing eyes. “Yeah, that was the plan—to get married when we’re both doing well.”
“But we’re doing well now.” She broke in. “You are working in an investment company and making more money. I still have my job and I even just got my salary increased.” She pushed up from her feet and grabbed onto him. “Nick, we’re both doing well. We can keep this baby. We can get married and take care of it.”
“No, we can’t!” He howled, jerking her off. “We can’t get married because I am not ready for marriage. My goodness, Stella, I am just twenty-six! I can’t get married at twenty-six for God’s sake!”
“Yes, you can. People have done it before. Please don’t abandon me, Nicholas, don’t turn your back on me when I need you most.” She reached for his hand and pressed it to her tummy. “Inside here is our baby. We both made this baby. We created it… please don’t ask me to destroy it. I beg you.”
“Stop begging, Stella, it’s undignified!” He ground out, wrenching his hand off her tummy. He couldn’t bear to think of… what she has got in there as a baby; as a life they’d created together. He wasn’t ready to get married. He was even much less ready to father a child. He couldn’t do it… not at his age!
He drew in a long breath and tried to reason with her, again. “Listen to me, Stella, stop crying and listen to me.” He put his arm around her and drew her closer. “Come let’s sit and talk about this.”
“There’s nothing to talk about if you’re going to insist I have an abortion, Nicholas.” She shifted out of his arm. “I can’t do it. It is dangerous. It’s a sin…”
“Fornication is a sin but you’ve been committing it with me so please stop with the sanctimonious blackmail!” He spat out. “You listen to me, Stella, I don’t want that child. I don’t want it! So, get rid of it fast and let’s get on with our lives.”
She stared at him with disbelieving eyes. “How can you be so wicked and thoughtless? How can you be so selfish? You are just thinking of yourself alone, you don’t even care what will happen to me. Have you considered the fact that something might go wrong and I might lose my womb or even worse, die?” She threw her hands on him and hit him. “Have you thought of that? Or is that what you want, for me to die with this baby?”
“Thousands of people have abortions every day and hardly any of them die.” He flung at her, knocking off her hands. “It’s a safe procedure nowadays. Trained, qualified doctors are performing the surgery, so just stop being dramatic.”
“Trained, qualified doctors make mistakes every day and people pay with their lives for those errors.” She cried. “I am not going to get an abortion. We have made this baby and we are keeping it!”
“If you think that keeping that baby will force me into marrying you, think again!” He barked. “In fact, I am done with you. This relationship is over. I am young and have just started on my career and I’ll be damned of I’ll allow you mess things up for me because you want to have a baby and get married. It is over, Stella. Get rid of that baby or keep it, I don’t bloody care!”
She staggered backward, her eyes wide with shock and disbelief. “You are breaking up with me, Nicholas? You would dare break up with me?” Her mouth trembled as the tears leaked again. “After what we’ve shared? After all I gave to you?”
“It was a mutually-beneficial relationship, so please stuff the emotional blackmail.” He said cruelly. “It is over, just accept it and go already. I don’t want you anymore and I most certainly don’t want anything to do with that thing you are carrying inside you.”
“That thing? That is what you call our baby, that thing?” She looked at him and shook her head. “I wish I never met you, Nicholas. I wish I never met you.”
And she turned, grabbed her handbag from the sofa and stalked out of his living room. And out of his life.
**Tune in Tuesday for Part 3. Have a great weekend, y’all**