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SAFE HAVEN: Episode 27 (Final episode)

safe haven

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LAGOS…
Her body was as tense as a coiled spring. Her heart beat so distantly in her chest. Priscilla bit her lip seated at the backseat of the airport taxi heading for home. She shivered a little, thinking of her husband; imagining his shock, desperately hoping they would have the most pleasant reunion.
The car swerved from a pothole along the road turning to head out to the express. Priscilla closed her eyes … the memories of the past years she had put out of her mind were creeping in again, but this time they did not hurt so much. Tears brimmed in her eyes, wondering and hoping that she had not come too late.
Thunder rolled from a distance most unexpectedly and she opened her eyes watching the pregnant dark clouds gather with rain.
“The rain has started again” the taxi man remarked disdainfully. He was a short and stout man in his simple traditional attire, who looked like he lost hope in work that day.
“… Does it rain much?” Priscilla peered at the thickened cloud from behind the window.
“Yes. This raining season has been very wet. It’s just five and the weather looks like it seven already.”
Priscilla bit her lip with a worried frown on her face, she didn’t like the rain; it dampened her mood but she settled more comfortably in her seat and resumed her brooding. She had grown weary of Lagos after staying for a while in Portharcourt, it held too many painful memories of her marriage. A sigh escaped her slightly trembling lips, thinking of the memories that loomed over her threatening to shake her courage.
It took a while sifting through her scattered thoughts and resurrected memories trying to draw hope from those that still held meaning to her. It was time to make new ones, time to face her reality.
…A light tap on her arm and Priscilla’s eyes fluttered open; it took her a minute to absorb her surroundings outside the warmth of the car. She recognized the road now, it was the road leading inside the serene street, the gates had been locked except for the pedestrian gate and it still rained heavily, very heavily.
“A woman said the gate has been locked for a while now” the driver said as if feeling he needed to give an explanation “It’s the gate on the other side that is open”
Priscilla bit her lip and frowned tired of spending so long in the car. “I’ll walk” she finally resolved, ignoring the disapproving look in the elderly man’s gaze but he said nothing. “The house is not so far off from this gate”, she stated more to herself than him. She brought out his fee and gave it to him. He thanked her, breaking into a big smile.
Her mind was set on leaving the car. Suddenly, she began feeling claustrophobic. She carried her little hand luggage and bag and stepped out, walking towards the gate of the street. The rain seemed so fierce outside than from the car. As it fell like tiny needles on her body, she went through the gate not caring how soaked she looked. Her heart was pounding crazily in her chest thinking of seeing Tunde again. The rain drummed on with lightening flashing arrogantly across the sky; she knew she ought to wait but her heart was in so much turmoil that Priscilla moved like a robot heading hurriedly towards the cream painted house.
Thunder roared in anger almost frightening her, the road was empty and dark with nightfall coupled with the dark clouds and she stepped in a puddle and she groaned inwardly. She began to wonder how long it would take to get to the house; it never seemed that long whenever she took those strolls.
Finally the house was in sight, Priscilla kept her pace and hurried into the gate; she shivered from the cold seemed to get beneath her skin; her heart beat crazily in her chest as she entered the compound to the building. The place was so dark she could only hope she wouldn’t run into any object.
She finally climbed up the flight of stairs her heart beating more painfully in her chest with each step she took. A slight tremor went through her body in apprehension to the spasms of cold. Priscilla sneezed, feeling uncontrollably cold and knocked on the entrance door to the familiar flat. She knocked again with agitation but there was no answer and with a sigh of resignation her body fell to lean on the wall beside her, the rain still poured heavily with frequent roars of thunder and flashes of lightening her hand went round her waist as a weak tear of disappointment threatened to fall but with growing effort she made on last, weak knock on the door.
Priscilla sank her teeth softly into her bottom lip and closed her eyes. The rain outside prevented her from leaving because within her she had succumbed to her greatest fear: what if Tunde turned his back on her? She would have herself to blame for a long time if not her whole life.
The door opened miraculously and Priscilla’s eyes flew open to stare at her husband. Surprise flickered briefly on his face and if he was delighted to see her he made no show of it. She straightened from her position, breathless. She stood in front of Tunde now and all the words she had practiced could not be put to use.
“Priscilla”, his tone was clipped. “Come in.” Tunde stepped aside and she walked in dropping her luggage beside the entrance door as he locked it. She moved a little from him trying to grasp her already ruffled composure. The house was dark with only a beam of light coming from one of the streetlights below; Priscilla cleared her throat wishing he could say something to ease her way. He did, her body relaxed a little from its coiled spring; Priscilla shivered from the cold and sneezed.
“You have a cold?” Tunde was beside her, too close for her comfort.
“I had to walk a little from the gate” Priscilla replied trying to be casual, a weak smile tugged the corners of her full lips.
“From the gate?!” Tunde exclaimed. She shivered again from the cold wishing she could see his face to match his disapproving voice.
“It’s alright”, she responded wishing she had enough sense to have waited under a shed or in the taxi. To her disdain, Priscilla sneezed again, sniffing.
“Please go in a room and change. You need to get out of these wet clothes.”
She nodded too ashamed to argue and carried her luggage. “Which room am I to use?”
Tunde exclaimed under his breath “For Pete’s sake Priscilla this is…or was your home too. You know this apartment!”
She nodded weakly. I’d change in the guest room.” Her voice shook a little in her ears and she could tell he shrugged. “Thank you.”
Tunde said nothing just standing in the shadows and she turned into the corridor to the guestroom feeling the heat of his gaze burn her back. Priscilla walked into the guestroom and flicked on the light. It took her a minute to take in her surroundings. Nothing had changed in the room except for the bed sheet. Priscilla strode slowly towards the bed and stood by the edge staring down at it. ‘Did Karen sleep here in this room?’ she swallowed at the thought.
Priscilla shivered again and a pang of emotion swept through her chest as she combed through her luggage for clean clothes to wear. Her hands finally settled on her green cardigan and a pleated skirt, she removed her clothes jerkily as the thought gnawed at her. ‘..Or did Karen sleep with Tunde at least once?’ He was broken and alone, Karen could have been busy his side and shown Tunde what she had denied him. Priscilla wore her clothes with her heart beating painfully at the nagging thoughts, her defense weakened with each likely conclusion.
She couldn’t stay here, Priscilla concluded dully to herself ‘I can’t, I thought I could but I can’t. Her body sank to the edge of the bed and tears of defeat escaped her eyes, she let them fall freely too weak to try and stop them. Priscilla sobbed softly to herself, she couldn’t do this; she had stepped out of the airport feeling like she was pumped up for this moment but nothing, nothing had prepared her for this weakness. She buried her face in her hands and wept some more feeling so lost, a chill settled on her dull skin making her shiver again.
Priscilla couldn’t tell how long she sat that way crying but the rapt knock of the door drew her out of her gloom.
“Is everything alright in there?” Tunde asked in an almost muffled sound behind the door.
“Yes”, she replied with all the composure she could muster. “I’ll be out in a minute.”
Finally, gathering troubling thoughts, she walked out of the room carrying the luggage in one hand, with heavy steps. Priscilla made her way to the sitting room hearing the loud pattering of the rain on the window panes.
Tunde stood by the window with a drink in one hand staring distantly into the darkness; she cleared her throat making him look her way.
“I should be leaving now”, her voice trembled as she spoke. She could not bring herself to look at him feeling the familiar painful tug in her heart.
“Why?”
Priscilla finally looked at Tunde but she couldn’t hold her gaze for long “I… I can’t stay here”, she replied hesitantly, she found her way to the door but it was so difficult to open it. She wanted him to tell her to stay; she wanted to hear it so badly; some form of reassurance.
“Don’t be stupid Priscilla”, Tunde replied bitingly. “It’s raining outside. Besides, you didn’t come all the way from Port Harcourt to change your clothes here…”
She swallowed painfully at his words, she knew he was right and she stood weakly as Tunde took a step towards her.
“You are right”, Priscilla responded calmly even though her insides were quivering. “I wanted us to talk but I’m not sure that was a great idea”
Tunde ignored the uncertainty in his wife’s voice and took another step towards her. They were within a breath’s distance now and they knew the under current flowing between them.
“Why?”, he asked in a silky voice.
Priscilla felt her pulse quicken. She knew Tunde saw the tell tale signs of her body responding to his nearness, her palms itched to touch him. Instead, she stepped aside, creating a little distance between them. “Tunde”, her voice had grown husky, she cleared her throat struggling for composure. “Tunde, it’s about us.”
Her husband watched her with keen interest flickered in his eyes. “You being here has given me the answer I want.”
With great effort Priscilla walked away from him ignoring his wounded expression. She needed the space, needed to talk to him; set things straight. “I came because I had this rush to do so.” She felt his gaze on her not trusting herself to look at him. “For so long I’ve been angry with you, blaming you for everything that happened Tunde but I can’t bring myself to give you a divorce and I can’t trust you either…”
After a moment of thought Tunde responded still staring at her “Why?” he asked simply.” I understand why you’ve been angry with the baby and all but…”
“It’s not about the baby”, Priscilla interrupted tearfully. It still hurt to talk about her miscarriage. “It’s about us not our parents or Karen or Richard…”
Tunde let out a deep breath. “Then Priscilla, what is it about us you can’t trust? Tell me, do you even know what is left of this marriage? Nothing Priscilla, nothing. This is about you not us and I got tired of fighting an already lost battle a week ago!”
She fought to control her tears but her heart was vulnerable. “Tunde I needed time to myself, I needed time to think. You have no idea what I’ve been through…”
“And you have no idea what I have been through!” Tunde responded, raising his voice “This is about you Priscilla. Everything from the marriage to date has been about you and your family.”
Her tears fell weakly on her cheeks, she knew what Tunde said was true and she had no defense for it.
“Look, Priscilla”, he continued with a controlled effort to lower his voice “I know you’ve been through a lot but you have to give yourself a chance. Give us a chance before we even begin anything. Let’s start from scratch; I’d send flowers and take you out to dinner and all that, just give this marriage a fresh start. But these won’t happen if you keep letting the past come between us.”
She nodded silently “I don’t want to be hurt anymore Tunde”, Priscilla replied in a shaky voice wiping her tears with the back of her hand.
“I can’t promise to protect you from everything that has happened or that we won’t meet more challenges but I know and I promise that I won’t  leave you  alone ever again…”
Priscilla sank into the settee beside her and buried her face in her hands in tears; Tunde sat beside her and touched her hands.
“Look at me, Priscilla.” The gentleness in his voice stopped her tears and she looked at him, seeing the naked torture in his eyes. “I also did a lot of growing up these past months and I realized I never told you how much I loved you.” Tunde took her small hands in his. “I love you Priscilla. It’s not about the sex, which is great”, his smile was infectious, bringing a warm glow in her. “I know my mum and siblings are not your greatest fans but I realized I’m done living my life for the family. This is about you and I, us”
“And your dad?”
“He’s in jail”, Tunde responded gravely “We won’t have as much to live by as before because we had to dissolve the company but I got an offer…”
“Tunde I love you”, Priscilla said staring longingly at him. “The company doesn’t matter as long as I’m with you, it was never about money for me Tunde, you must believe that…”
“And you must believe that we can make this work Priscilla” he sighed “No more Karen or …”
She shook her head in agreement “I’m so sorry about my mother and Richard”, Priscilla stated full of regret “God, I wish I could take it back Tunde, I wish I hadn’t… I can’t understand how you can forgive me Tunde. I’m so sorry.” Tears escaped her eyes as she looked down at their clasped hands.
“Honestly, it wasn’t easy to look past it. It took all of me, Priscilla I don’t know what would happen to me if it occurred again. I was broken and I loved you so much even then.”
“I’m sorry, Tunde.” Fresh tears fell weakly from her eyes. “I keep wishing I wasn’t so weak then, I keep wishing I was much stronger…”
“You were lonely Priscilla and I forgive you for it. I wasn’t strong myself and you were under a lot more pressure than I was. You need to forgive yourself first if you want us to work, Priscilla.”
“It’s not easy”, Priscilla replied in a small voice.
“I’m here with you. We’ll work on us together and we’d start from scratch.”
Tunde gathered her in his arms and she smiled a deep contented smile. Her tears soaked his shirt but they didn’t care. They were happy staying like that in each other’s arms.
“I will take you back to Mrs Bridget’s place dear”, Tunde replied at length with great self control and she pulled back from his arms, startled.
“Why, don’t you want me?” Priscilla asked dismayed.
“I do”, Tunde replied looking at his wife with all the love in him. “We’d start from scratch Priscilla, go slowly. We never got the chance to do things right and now, I don’t want to make the same mistake again.”
“But I’m here with you. Isn’t that all that matters?”
Tunde let out a deep troubled breath “Yes, but is not all that matters. You deserve much better than things happening too fast. You’d get to know me better and I, you and you’d heal too. I’m doing this for us Priscilla, we need this.”
She nodded at length and smiled at Tunde with a warm glow in her heart. “You’re right. Let’s take things slow and steady Tunde, but I love you and I won’t give you any cause to doubt that again.”
“I love you too Priscilla”, Tunde replied feeling happier than ever.
The sudden roll of thunder brought her back from her euphoria; she clung to her husband again. “You’ll let me stay won’t you?” She looked at the base of his firm throat.
“Yes, but only till the rain stops.” He smiled at her disappointment and gathered Priscilla in his arms again. “This is enough for me”, Tunde whispered lovingly in her ear “for now.”
Priscilla smiled, knowing he smiled too. She was happy; finally, she was free and the familiar gentle tune played somewhere in her heart. There and then, Priscilla knew she had found her safe haven.
 

THE END ???

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STORIES,

SAFE HAVEN: Episode 26

safe haven

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TWO MONTHS LATER…

Priscilla got back to the place she had grown to call home. She was tired and in need of a hot bath. She mused to herself, stepping into the fairly large compound. It always reminded her of Tunde’s flat in Lagos; she felt the familiar tightening of her chest remembering her enstranged husband. She made her way towards the flight of stairs behind the white story building heading for her half sister’s apartment and let out a heavy sigh remembering why she left Lagos to come here and find peace. Within her, she knew she found little but the little, she had she treasured.

 Her heart went out to Tunde and she had come to terms with the end of their marriage a long while ago. It hurt, it always hurt knowing she would never be with him again; their marriage was doomed from the start before she even came to know of him. Priscilla finally climbed the last step on the first floor and knocked on the iron gate.

 The gate opened almost immediately and Imabong stood moved aside for her to enter the flat. “You have a visitor” she said in a nervous tone. Before Priscilla could speak she intercepted hurriedly. “I didn’t know you would close early from work…” It sounded more like an apology than a statement.

She looked up at Imabong who smiled quizzically at her. “Yes”, Priscilla simply replied. “My boss let me go home early today”. Priscilla stepped fully into the parlor wondering who it was. Slowly, her heart grew its pace the moment she saw a man standing away from her. He stood at the door of the balcony staring distantly. She knew who it was, she knew who it was!

 Tunde turned around then and stood staring at his wife. His heart beat crazily in his chest. He was surprised she couldn’t hear it. He was drawn and tired of waiting; sleepless nights and days that dragged on in agony waiting for her call. He had finally gotten up against the advice of his lawyer and flew all the way to Port Harcourt. In truth, he missed her and seeing Priscilla again doubled his chaotic emotions.

 “Tunde…” she couldn’t hide the surprise on her face as she said his name breathlessly.

“Priscilla”, he nodded to her,  his face unreadable.

Priscilla lifted her chin up, the old churning feelings were returning, feelings she had convinced herself were long gone and buried. A warm feeling oozed in her heart, she secretly hoped he had come for her. “Why are you here?”

Tunde paused before answering the question looking at his wife’s face; she had grown thinner but still attractive. He was convinced the look in her eyes was one of contempt and those same eyes had once looked at him in adoration, he cleared his throat. “I had some business in Port Harcourt” he lied, unblinking. “I decided to visit so we could discuss the documents my lawyer sent to you.”

 Priscilla’s heart sank within her chest but she said nothing trying to show her disappointment.  With an effort she replied him. “How did you get this place? I can’t remember ever discussing here with you.”

 “Mrs Bridget gave it to me. I told her it was urgent”,  he completed seeing the look of annoyance flash through her eyes. “I see you’ve made a life here”, Tunde said casually looking round the small parlour.

 “Yes” Priscilla replied through thinned lips “Surprising since you concluded I was no good”, she added intending to take a jab at him.

 Her husband’s eyes narrowed at her statement “You know that’s not true”, Tunde replied in a taut voice “I wanted you to be the best you could be for yourself and no one else.”

 She knew what he said was true but she couldn’t control the hurt his presence brought back, she looked at him with all the contempt she could muster. “Well now that I’m out of your hair, you can jolly well save your enigmatic remarks for Karen.”

 Tunde grimaced in response to her statement. “What has this got to do with Karen? What has anything here got to do with Karen?” His voice rose and with controlled effort he lowered it. “I came here to discuss our marriage Priscilla, not Karen or your mother or mine…” he let his voice trail away “Finally we should talk about us.”

 Priscilla stared at him, finally he said what she had originally hoped to hear but she could not bring herself to be pleased, all the hurt she had painfully buried had somehow resurfaced and she felt vulnerable again. Priscilla rapidly blinked back tears not wanting Tunde to see the effect he had on her. Finally, she spoke in a low controlled voice “There is no us, there was not and there will never be…”

 The parlour fell silent; she could almost feel the latent tension swarming around them. Tunde looked away from her and walked almost to the middle of the parlour, slowly, he stopped and returned his gaze to her this time naked with torment. “Priscilla what is this about? A few months ago I could swear your affair with… With that man”, he didn’t want to remember her lover’s name, “would be the reason for a divorce and somehow the tables turned.”

 She had a strong urge to go to him and press her face against his hard chest, but she swallowed at the wretched thought. “It’s not about me or you anymore, Tunde” she replied heavily. “It’s about everything that has happened between us; your family, mine, Karen, the pregnancy, I can’t forgive you for that, placing me between you and my baby was unfair…”

“And I agree Priscilla, but I was hurting” Tunde replied soberly “Surely I had a right to hurt; I was the one who felt betrayed.”

 “What about me?”, she threw back at him in sudden anger fuelled by her pain. “All the times you insulted me, left me alone and went to Karen? What about the insults your family hurled at me?! I was hurting too.”

 “I never had anything to do with Karen and you know that!”, Tunde stated harshly. “Why do you want to use all that as a barrier for us to work things out? Everything changed when we learnt to love each other Priscilla; I can’t remember you putting up a fight when you told me you loved me…”

 “That was then” she replied, defiantly.

“And now?” His tone was coquettish “Have your feelings changed now?”

 Priscilla looked away, biting her lip; she knew the answer she fought so hard to ignore. “I think you ought to leave now. I’d send the divorce papers, signed to you.”

 He threw her a defeated look, her husband struggled to maintain his composure. At last, he spoke in a husky voice. “I begged you, for months I patiently waited for you to heal and think about everything..”

 “Tunde…” she started, not wishing him to continue least he weakened her defenses, but he raised a hand, cutting her short.

“Priscilla. I don’t want to finally come to terms with it that we are through. I thought I could, I told myself I could… but seeing you here again… I love you”, he said shakily. A tear escaped from the corner of her eye, but she sniffed, looking away.

 “Tunde, I need to be on my own now.” Her voice was almost like a whisper in her ears. “I want to achieve things for me, live my life for me. Don’t you understand? This is bigger than me or you.”

 “It’s about you”, Tunde replied almost shakily. “This is about you. I knew you needed time but now, I’m convinced you’re running from something.”

 He put his hand in thy pocket of his grey trousers as if to quell his impatience. “I’m at the Hilton Hotel, your sister knows the place and I hope you still have my number.” His tone was sardonic.

“Tunde…” Priscilla began to protest again and this time she was held back by the lump in her throat. The swell of emotions in her chest seemed to weigh more heavily with each beat of her heart; she strongly had the urge to sink into a nearby sofa feeling terribly faint.

 “I booked a return ticket to Lagos for seven in the evening next tomorrow”, Tunde kept quiet and grit his teeth, trying to hold his emotions in place. He was a man for heaven’s sake not a boy. He swung his gaze away trying to calm his tightened chest. “Please come, Priscilla.” He looked at her again and Priscilla looked away not wishing to weaken her resolve. With that, he walked past her out of the house.

                                                                ***

 It took her a long time to gather her composure; she had walked around the office like a zombie throughout the day filled with the hunting image of Tunde’s pleading gaze. Priscilla sat in the sanctuary of the little room next to her half sister’s, her back rested on the wall behind the bed and a deep frown settled on her face, her heart was heavy with grief.

 Since yesterday, she had not been able to function properly. Her heart was in a dark place and her mind could not find the little peace she had so desperately clung to. A tear slipped down the smooth curve of her cheek, she had no specific reason to cry but she had been drawn back to the melancholy of the recent past. It wasn’t just thoughts of her husband, but the events that slowly formed her present situation.

 She knew within her heart that she loved her husband but it felt so distant. It felt like there was something she shielded away from acknowledging, not because she was afraid of it but the hurt and heartache she had felt before threatened to rear its ugly head again whenever she thought of love. It was a war, a war within herself; she still did not know what she wanted for herself and at the same time, she was selfish enough to want Tunde with her. The thought of him alienated from her was more frightening than she originally thought.

 What of his family? Karen? Lagos and its memories? Was she ready to go back to that? Priscilla closed her eyes letting another wave of emotion subside within her. A noise from outside the door made her open her eyes and her thoughts flew momentarily to her sister, Imabong. Imabong had not spoken since yesterday; she just stared at her with a bleak expression lurking in her eyes. Priscilla was grateful for the silence though, she needed to fight her battle alone without a controlling mother, a pleading husband or anyone.

 This was her fight, her pain and she had to be selfish just this once. Priscilla drew her knees up and rested her face on them with a sad countenance. She had been torn between looking for the hotel where Tunde stayed and staying put where she was. All day, she had toyed with the idea of doing what her heart desperately cried out for and finally, she made her decision.

***

 Tunde finally dragged himself away from the large paneled window and poured himself a shot of whiskey from the half empty bottle beside his bed. The pang of disappointment was so unbearable; he was almost convinced he would run mad. He sat on the edge of the four-poster bed, half in hope while the other part of his mind taunted him with the unbearable truth. At any moment, the receptionist would call and inform him of the taxi’s arrival to carry him to the airport.

 Tunde slouched and closed his eyes for a few minutes, trying to find a silver lining in his hurt.  He gulped down the shot of whiskey and smiled scornfully to himself; he was imbibing in alcohol a little too freely because of a woman, because of Priscilla. He entertained the thought that she did this purposely to punish him and yes, he deserved it probably ten times over but he had suffered enough walking around in a shadow of himself.

 Even Karen with all her cooing and attentiveness could not bring him out of this lovesick dilemma and finally she had understood the silence and conceded her silent defeat. His mother had grown sober seeing her son in such a state, she too finally grudgingly accepted that he loved his wife and his whole family left him in peace. Everyone went back to normal as if many things had not happened: as if his father was not in prison but he – he could never go back to normal. It was either to start afresh or to die trying.

 He sighed, getting up again to check for her through the window, Tunde could almost laugh at his pathetic self. She wasn’t coming, Priscilla was through this time, their marriage was over; he ought to be celebrating, had he not been dreaming of it before he fell so desperately in love with her?

 The shrill ringing of the intercom stirred him out of his misery, briefly. He got up without attending to the machine and carried his hand luggage, this was the moment of truth- he would leave this place with Priscilla behind. Tunde walked to the door and opened it stepping out into the lonely corridor; with one last look into the room, he shut the door behind him.

‘You broke the ocean in half to be here,

only to meet nothing that wants you’.

– Immigrant.

                                                           ***

 She finally felt a little like herself again, she was convinced she had run mad after the whirlwind episode with Tunde a week ago. A day after he left, she began to doubt herself greatly but she was torn between two raging desires; to run from her hurt and resentment towards him or fight it heads on. The answer was glaring in her face, she was a coward but she was comfortable being so, Priscilla mused to herself, putting her hands in the pockets of her jumper.

 She walked slowly up the sloped fairly busy road towards the gate leading to her street; she tried to thrust those painful thoughts behind her mind, trying to enjoy the stroll she had forced herself to take. Priscilla let out a heavy breath wishing it could just as easy to let out the band heavy on her heart.

 Her eyes slowly gazed down at her finger where the wedding band glared dully at her from the rays of the evening sun; it was almost a joke that she still wore the ring, knowing what had become of her marriage. She refused to think it was her fault, Priscilla conceded kicking a stone from under her feet as she took steep steps up the road.

 A clear, resonant sound, an all too familiar sound stopped her in her tracks; that song, that peaceful song. She looked around tracing the sound to a small church tucked away at the beginning of the side street on the other side of the road. Priscilla found herself drawn to it as if by a strange influence.

 The church was a small building painted white and she stepped inside conscious of her outfit but the church half filled with people. Priscilla sat behind the congregation; it was a solemn one except with the resonant hymn coming from the robed choir. Her eyes closed of their own accord and the sweet, sweet gentle melody of the hymn seeped into her, her heart weakened in surrender and she felt so at peace.

 “Lord, give us Christian homes…”

 Somewhere from her far off subconscious, she wished she knew the lyrics, it felt so good sitting there, listening to the words they sang and it felt like a healing balm on her heart. A tear slid down her cheek and she left out a breath. She opened her eyes at the thought that she wished Tunde was here with holding her hand and wishing he felt  this strange but familiar peace she was experiencing.

 This was God’s house and He touched her. The words of that hymn always held so much power for her; always soothed her broken heart and this time, she had this overwhelming conviction that this song played there, right there was for her.

 Priscilla sought for the hurt and pain that lurked behind the shadows of her heart ready to pounce on her when she thought of Tunde. It was gone, gone! A tide of emotion swept through her and she bucked in tears falling freely from her eyes, she sobbed to herself quietly and earnestly asked God continually for his mercy…anything. She was tired of fighting the war on her own, tired of going up and down.

 She wanted this peace, the peace that was beyond her own understanding. Her husband, how she longed to see him again, she wanted to tell him how she felt and let him know this peace. Priscilla composed herself but her tears could not be helped, she sat back slowly in her seat realizing then that the choir had stopped their angelic ministration and the preacher was on the altar. Her mind was no longer there. It was basking in its new found freedom.

 Priscilla smiled dully to herself; this was about her- her life and her finding happiness, sharing happiness. Her heart mellowed at the thought of her husband, Tunde and a gently longing went out to him.  She knew what she had to do and this time she was certain it was the best choice, obviously.

Safe Haven: Episode 27 of 27??? CONTINUES HERE
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Finding Me (Episode 1-9) by Oyinkansola Ige
Shadows (Episodes 1-10) by Oyinkansola Ige
Stories by Olayinka Makanjuola
STORIES,

SAFE HAVEN: Episode 25

safe haven

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TWO WEEKS LATER…
Priscilla entered the familiar house and expelled a deep breath from her long walk. Mrs Bridget sat in the veranda fanning herself because there was no electricity; she went to join her, slumping into the cane chair. Priscilla closed her eyes briefly; she tried shutting out thoughts of the past week but they remained there stubbornly etched to the back of her mind.
“How are you holding up?”, Mrs Bridget’s motherly tone came through her wandering thoughts. Priscilla shrugged in response, “I’m okay.”
“Is it a bad time to talk about something or what?” She sounded very cautious.
“About what?” She sat up a bit; her face looked drawn and tired.
“Tunde called me…” Priscilla rolled her eyes before Mrs Bridget continued “Wait… wait, let me continue. He said he’s been trying to reach you and you’re not picking up.”
“I… have not been able to talk to him” she closed her eyes briefly, “I can’t seem to forgive him.”
“He wants to see you”, she replied gently and Priscilla squirmed in protest. “You have to Priscilla; sooner or later you have to face him.”
“Well not now Mrs Bridget”, Priscilla spoke in a controlled voice “I don’t want to see him, I find myself blaming him for this and I’m set on a divorce”, her voice shook at that.
“You really think he’s at fault?” Mrs Bridget replied in a levelling tone.
She shrugged again not wishing to explore the conversation further. “I need time to myself, I feel like I’m suffocating”, Priscilla continued with a gesture. “I can’t do this anymore, now the baby is gone. It’s time for changes…”
“I think he’s hurting,” the older woman said in a sympathetic tone
“We’ll let him!”, she snapped unknowingly. “He gave me an ultimatum,” Priscilla continued tearfully “…and he just stood there expecting everything would be okay and we could go back to being happy?  I can’t live with a man that can’t accept my mistakes.”
“He was hurting too, Priscilla.”
“…and so was I” Priscilla’s voice rose, with an effort she tried to calm herself “I’m sorry. I was hurting too Mrs Bridget, I-was-hurting-too!” she ended emphasizing her point “I lost my baby because of everything”, Priscilla concluded sadly.
“I understand and I hope you figure things out dear,” Mrs Bridget concluded gently.
“I’m thinking of travelling to meet my sister in two weeks” she shook her head as if to shake off the hurt. “I need time to figure things out.”

***

Tunde packed the last of his belongings stacking each box on the table; he sighed and leaned on the large oak table overlooking the large windowpanes. He looked up at the skylines from his office taking in a deep breath in his troubled heart. He had expected to come in and pack up in a swift movement but it turned out to be more emotional than he thought after seeing the gloomy expression on his secretary’s face.
He so badly wanted a glass of bourbon. He felt so numb, he needed something to warm him up but he found himself content to watch the plain sky; he thought of Priscilla, worrying about how she was, what she did, whom she cried to. A long low sigh escaped his lips as he thought of how many calls, how many texts he had sent and no reply. Maybe she truly meant it when she said she was done.
Tunde slid his hands into the pocket of his trousers as if to quell his anxiety; he was convinced he had lost her and he grieved for it, he constantly blamed himself for his stupidity.
Maybe it was time to let go, see the world from a different perspective, know himself better, and start over. He had been offered a good job in Abuja; it was time to consider it before the window closed. Did he really want to do it? Be the one to pull the plug on them? She gave up on them first and he pushed her to that point which he doubt he could bring her out of and he loved her so much, he felt lost. Tunde brought out his phone from his pocket and stared at it for a long time. He dialed Priscilla’s number again heart in mouth praying she would pick up but she did not.
Tunde choked back a loud sob and closed his eyes tried to calm himself. He didn’t want to do this but he had no choice, if he really loved her he was to let her go right? He was to let her be; the way she had always told him, she wanted to be free. A tear escaped from his eyes and he cleaned it off with a free hand trying to be strong.  Tunde snapped his eyes open. The next number he dialed was his lawyer.
 

***

Priscilla parked in front of her mother’s house reluctant to go in. She sighed and leaned back on the chair for a minute, the car was silent and she welcomed it now more than ever. Her mind flashed back to when her mother surprisingly called that she should come pick up a package, her tone staccato. She decided to dress her best and come straight ahead; she knew that regardless of her weight loss she looked good.
Finally, she gathered her will and came out of the car straightening her flared dress, it took Priscilla a minute to walk into the compound and knock on the door. It opened almost immediately and she stood staring her mother in the face. Her mother said nothing and stood aside giving her room to walk through.
Priscilla walked in and drank in the familiar look of the house, the scent of it. “You said there was a package for me” There was no greeting, no warmth. It was just a cold feeling between them.
“Yes”, Sola replied defiantly, her jaw was set in a stubborn line as she stood beside the door. “It’s on the centre table” she watched Priscilla go pick up the sealed large brown envelope.
Priscilla eyed the envelope for a minute wondering who had sent it “Where did it come from?” she asked looking at the woman she had known as her mother.
Sola shrugged “It’s one of those DHL boys” she watched Priscilla nod still staring at the envelope.
Priscilla walked towards the door and stopped before opening it to look at Sola.
“Imabong called” she saw the faint look of surprise on the older woman’s face.
“What’s that to do with me?” Sola asked maliciously.
“She’s your daughter”, she replied softly and Sola threw her face away “we’ve been talking. She said to greet you” her mother did not reply and she felt a surge of pity for her “How have you been mother?”
Sola looked at her scornfully “I’m not your mother.” Her tone was sharp and she knew she hurt Priscilla saying that.
“I just wanted to know how you’ve been living. So many things have happened to hold on to our quarrel”, Priscilla spoke fluidly ignoring the stab of pain that filled her heart.
“I’ve been living on my pensions, I’m happy now” Sola replied in a clipped tone “More so now that I heard your husband’s father is in jail for what her did.”
“What he did?” this time Priscilla was surprised.
“You didn’t know that?” her mother mirrored her expression “I suppose you and that boy are no longer together.”
“What happened?” Priscilla asked again not willing to divulge information to the woman.
“He was arrested for a pansy scheme” her voice was on edge “He swindled so many investors that man, including your father.”
“My father?” her heart skipped a beat.
“Yes, your father.” Sola snorted in disgust “You and Tunde were clearly destined to be enemies before you were born.”
Priscilla said nothing and opened the door taking in a deep breath “I’m going to be gone for a long time” she said in a small distant voice. “If you need anything please call me.”
“Why should I call you?” Sola asked sharply eyeing her with dislike
Priscilla looked into her eyes and smiled softly ignoring the bitterness lurking in them. “Because I forgive you”, she replied in a husky voice full of emotion. “I forgive you for everything.” With that, she walked away thinking of her own lost baby.
The moment she entered the car she drove forward not wanting to wait a moment longer, her eyes were laced with tears thinking of the woman she left behind. She did not want to spend the rest of her life bitter. No, not that way, bitter and alone. Maybe it was time to make amends; her heart went out to Tunde.
Even in her anger and with the fact her thoughts of him grew more distant, she still missed him in a helpless way, maybe he would call again and she would pick it. Her eyes trailed to the envelope on the passenger’s seat as Priscilla turned to the main road and she parked in front of a closed shop reaching for it in curiosity.
She opened the light envelope and brought out the paper contents; shock was the first feeling then disappointment and hurt. Priscilla’s eyes began to water as she read the contents of the documents through blurry eyes. She broke into a helpless sob; maybe he would never call again, maybe she had finally lost Tunde. The divorce papers slid down her weak hands.

Safe Haven: Episode 26 of 27 CONTINUES HERE
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Read Excerpt; The Eclipse Of he Son

Little Things, Big Lessons by ToluKumuyi
STORIES,

SAFE HAVEN: Episode 24

safe haven

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***

TWO DAYS LATER…
Silence reigned in the parlor as Mrs. Bridget tried to absorb what Priscilla related to her concerning her husband’s ultimatum. The older woman let out a deep breath. The same reaction her younger sister had when she told her.
Priscilla closed her eyes and snapped them open remembering the ugly incident. Her stomach hurt and she felt a bit hot.
“I can understand his point of view” she concluded unhappily, “I think he’s hurting too.”
Mrs. Bridget nodded thoughtfully. “So what do you want to do now?”
She shook her head staring distantly into space. “I can’t imagine killing my baby”, a tear slid from the corner of her eye. “I can’t do that no matter what…”
“I would never have advised you to do that”, Mrs. Bridget replied levelly. “He is hurting, but to ask for that is a bit too much.”
“I’m so scared of losing him”, she hugged herself suddenly feeling cold and sniffed back her tears “I’m going to lose him”. Priscilla looked tearfully at her companion who said nothing staring at her with sympathy.
After a moment Mrs. Bridget spoke in a soft tone, “Everything will work out fine, Priscilla. You need God now more than ever and He won’t leave you when you need Him the most. Do what is right.” She got up and walked up to Priscilla, stopping by the side of her seat. “You have people that love you, you’re not alone.” With that, she walked away from her.
Priscilla sat curled up in the chair and smiled sadly to herself. She kept asking what the right decision was; she didn’t want to lose either of them but to abort? That was never a part of her doctrine. Maybe it was time to consider her sister’s proposal; travel to Port Harcourt and figure out what she wanted to do with her life. Divorce or not, she had to do something with her life, find meaning to her life.
A single tear slid down her cheek and she wiped it off. Priscilla got up from her seat and walked slowly towards the corridor leading to the rooms – suddenly realizing how faint she was feeling.
She walked to her room and lay on the bed; her head was pounding and her body burning up. Priscilla lay crumpled on the bed almost howling in pain, she reached painfully for her phone in tears. She dialed Mrs. Bridget’s number, too weak to shout. Sweat broke out of her skin and a warm liquid slid languidly down her thighs. It made a spurt of red on the white bed sheet. Panic filled her lungs. She was losing her baby.
 
Priscilla opened her heavy eyelids, she just woke up from a dream; a beautiful dream. Her eyes opened to reality and it took her a minute to absorb were she lay. She was in a hospital. She looked about in panic and a man lay feet from her sleeping in an uncomfortable position. Her head felt heavy on her neck and the numb pain in her left hand flooded her senses, she looked down and saw she was infused with a drip.
She burst into tears sobbing loudly as the memories of old came to her, her right hand rested on her stomach; she could not feel her little bump. The man woke up, it was Tunde but she was in no mood to be surprised, he was beside her swiftly with a worried look on his face.
“Why are you crying?”
Priscilla looked at him through blurry eyes and choked back a question “What are you doing here?” her voice was frail.
“The Mrs Bridget called and informed me, the bank needed your next of kin around”, he replied in dismissal. Tunde stood beside her and clasped her hand “She went to call the doctor the moment you began to stir, they should be here any moment from now.”
“How’s my baby?” she asked in a small voice half-afraid she knew the answer. He shook his head downcast and a tear spill out of her.
“God”, she sobbed to herself.
“Well” Tunde replied trying to calm her down “You will have other babies Priscilla.” He placed a comforting hand on her cheek and her sobbing stopped and turned into anger.
“Please get your hands off me”, she stilled and pushed herself away in pain. “Get your hands off me”, Priscilla snapped, pushing her husband’s hand away with her free hand.
His hand dropped with a shocked look on his face “Priscilla…” Tunde called her name perturbed.
“You wanted my baby dead Tunde, there’s no reason why you should be here”. her tone was spiteful. Priscilla’s sobbing began again.
“Priscilla I…”
“Please leave.” Her heart was heavy grieving for her baby. For the first time she looked at her husband with hate. She was tired, her head hurt and her heartbeat crazily in her chest knowing her child, whom she had suffered a lot for these past months, was gone.
She blamed her husband and now here he stood by her side. He was the last person she wanted to wake up to when he hated this child so much he gave her an ultimatum. Her sobbing was uncontrollable, she wanted to be swallowed up into her dream again but his presence was disturbing. The familiar warmth she knew with him being around her was gone.
“Priscilla, I came because I couldn’t stand the idea of…”
She cut him short, raising up a shaky hand. “Tunde just leave. I’m done,” she said crying, “I’m not doing this with you anymore. Just leave me alone.”
“Priscilla, I want to take you home with me,” he replied in a distressed tone “I want us to…”
“Leave me alone”, she raised her voice this time sounding almost hysterical “I’m done Tunde, I’m not going to ‘your house’ with you!” She burst into fresh tears. Distinctly, she heard the door open and she could hear muffled sounds telling him to leave. A hand touched her arm and she felt the stinging intrusion of a syringe, her sobbing slowly stopped and she slipped into darkness.
***
He was a mess, he knew he was a mess but he did not let it disturb him, he had so much to do liquidating the company and settling his family. Everyone was on edge and it was weird not having his father around. Tunde sat alone on the balcony in the lonely house with a glass of Bourbon in his hand, he smiled to himself remembering the day he told Priscilla she was turning into an addict; well he was becoming one…without her.
He downed the rest of the drink in his hand. God, he missed her so much he could not even understand himself, how he could love this person this much was so difficult to quantify. He wanted to growl and let out his pent up frustration, her words kept resounding in his head; she was done. It was his fault. Everything was his fault. He heard footsteps in the house at times, he could swear he heard her laughter but it was all in his head.
There was a loud banging on the door of his house, Tunde got up like a robot and walked into the sitting room to the entrance door. He opened the door and Demilade stood outside looking worried.
She walked in dressed in a loose shirt and jeans, he face was lightly made up and her hair packed up into a bun. “Tunde, I’m worried about you” she spoke with concern as he locked the door.
The moon poured into the sitting room through the open balcony, it gave a beautiful silhouette. Tunde walked to the dining table and leaned on it heavily letting out a deep breath. Demilade walked up to him and took the glass from his hand bringing it up to her nose. It stank of alcohol as she took place it on the glass table.
“Tunde what is wrong?” it almost sounded like she was wailing. “You are a shadow of yourself.  We are all worried; I know you’ve had a lot to take on recently.”
He nodded and rubbed his tired eyes. She placed a hand on his shoulder “Is it about Priscilla?” her voice was soft and he nodded again.
“She lost the baby,” He stated morosely. “I… I don’t know what to do Demi, she wants a divorce.” He wanted to break into a sob. His sister sighed in pity and took him into an embrace.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered “I’m so sorry Tunde” they stayed that way for a long while until he broke out of it and they sat on the settee.
Demilade sighed, “I never knew things would turn out this way,” she stated distantly “You, in love with someone like that…” she did not mean it as an insult, rather, for the first time she pitied him. “What happened?”
“I gave her an ultimatum”, Tunde began guiltily as he remembered the last time she came to his office. “She came to sort things out and I gave her an ultimatum, get rid of the baby or get a divorce”, he paused swallowing his pain “I shouldn’t have.”
“You were hurting,” Demilade stated, soothingly.
Tunde continued as if he was talking to himself “I got a surprising call from the lady she’s been staying with and that’s how I found out she had lost her baby.” He paused, catching a moment of silence. “She looked at me with such hatred Demi. I’ve never seen her that way.”
“She’s a mother who just had a second miscarriage; I can understand why she would have been that way. You need to give her time Tunde; you both need to heal before anything else.”
“She wanted a divorce,” he stated simply not ready to speak much.
“She needs time, Tunde. Besides, you need to take care of yourself too…” Demilade sighed, stressing her point. “You need to get up and live your life. So much has happened Tunde, you also need to take a breather. Be patient, things will work out in due time dear.” She gave him a reassuring smile. Do you know where she’s living?”
He shook his head sideways and closed his eyes. Priscilla could not leave his mind.

Safe Haven: Episode 25 of 27 CONTINUES HERE
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Read Excerpt; The Eclipse Of he Son

Little Things, Big Lessons by ToluKumuyi
STORIES,

SAFE HAVEN: Episode 23

safe haven

CLICK ME TO READ PREVIOUS EPISODES


Tunde sat beside his mother. Two days ago, she had woken up and the doctor had informed them her recovery was steady. Today, she was smiling softly with convalescence plastered on her elderly features but his mind was not with her, it was with his wife.
“Tunde”, his mother asked slowly searching his eyes. “How are you holding up?”
“Okay”, Tunde responded even though they both knew he lied.
“How is your father?” she asked with anxiety framing her fragile features.
Tunde let out a breath, “I don’t know, it has been a while since we spoke.”
“Did you have another fight?”
“Just a minor disagreement”, he gave his mother a reassuring smile. “It is nothing to worry yourself about.”
She sighed and looked away towards the window “I know how your father can be”, Mrs Ariyo replied in a shaky voice. “I can imagine.”
“It’s nothing to worry your head about. Besides, you shouldn’t work yourself over this.”
“My husband is in jail Tunde, your father. There’s no way I wouldn’t worry about that”, she touched his hand tenderly. “My son is hurting to.o”
“I’ll be fine mum” Tunde replied tempted to pull his hand away.
“Have you spoken to Priscilla?”
He hesitated a bit, reluctant to talk. “No” Tunde replied in a tight voice.
“Are you thinking of divorcing her?”
Their eyes locked at her question and Tunde could not find words to respond. His eyes fell away and there was silence for a few minutes, he looked up at his mother as she lay with a thoughtful look on her face.
“I think you should”, Mrs Ariyo said looking expectantly at her son; “We need to end this saga and focus on moving our family forward.”
“She’s part of the family too”, he replied almost defensively. She stared at him with a puzzled look on her face. “She’s my wife.”
“Yes, but she has caused you so much pain Tunde, she doesn’t love you in any way.” She turned a bit towards him staring intently at him with hollowed eyes “Cheating, what kind of woman cheats on her husband?”
His heart twitched a bit at her words, the pain was still painfully etched in his heart that he could not even look past it to decide what to do next. Tunde let out a deep sigh.
“Tunde, now is your chance to free yourself from this loveless marriage.” Her voice shook as she spoke from the depth of her heart. “I hated watching you so unhappy even though I never understood what drove you to marry her”, His mother shook her head sadly.
“We loved each other, I think she loved me” his tone was doubtful.
“She never did, she would say anything to continue living that way. Your marriage was on the verge of collapse, remember?”
Tunde nodded, knowing there was some truth in what his mother had said. The nagging feeling grew in his chest, trying to decide whether Priscilla had loved him or not. Why she would even cheat on him, break their vows…
“Tunde”, Mrs Ariyo continued quietly” Break out of it and start your life afresh, can you live with her again knowing she was dishonest to you or your marriage? I really can’t understand why people cheat in the first place”, she coughed.
Tunde patted her hand and held back a grunt in response to his mother’s statement remembering his father. “She’s pregnant mum, it makes everything complicated. If I decide to divorce her and the child is mine there’s no stake in the company for the child which is what she would probably want.”
Mrs Ariyo nodded in agreement and looked away briefly returned her gaze to her son.”There’s more of a possibility the child may not be yours Tunde”
He kept his tongue in cheek, the truth twisted in his chest deeper and deeper as hot as a knife. He looked down at their clasped hands closing his eyes for a brief moment and shook his head remembering the bleak night when they fought.
He was ashamed he missed his wife; he was more ashamed that he could not stop thinking about her. Always, watching his phone and silently hoping she would walk in through the door. He was ashamed he grew jealous thinking of her and him together, her soft moans and the way her fingers touched his skin. Tunde looked away trying to run from his chaotic thoughts.
They sat for a long time both of them buried in their thoughts until the sound of the door intruded the quiet. They both looked towards the door and Karen came in. She broke into a smile as her eyes rested on Tunde; she carried nylon with a juice box in it and walked to the bed.
“Karen”, Mrs Ariyo greeted her beaming.
“Good afternoon Mrs Ariyo” she replied smiling at his mother. “Tunde”
“How are you?” Tunde asked in a cool tone. He got up suddenly feeling the need to be away from the room.
“Where are you heading to?”, his mother threw him an accusing look and Karen stared beguiling at him.
“I want to get a meal at the cafeteria” he walked to the door and opened it. “I won’t be long.”
Tunde walked out before they could respond.
 
…IN a few minutes, he was seated at the cafeteria with a cold bottle of a soft drink placed between his hands. The saucer of sandwiches lay untouched, he found he had no appetite but was contented staring into space.  Karen pulled the chair out and sat opposite him on the small table for two.
“You left my mum alone?” he asked with a disapproving look on his face.
“No, she’s asleep” Karen replied hastily “You look… bad.”
“I feel worse”, Tunde replied drily reluctant to speak.
“How are you holding up?”, she asked with concern “I’m worried about you, Tunde.”
He said nothing and Karen continued “Your mother told me a bit about what you discussed.”
Tunde scowled at her “You had no business knowing that.”
“Relax”, Karen replied throwing him a wounded expression. “We are all worried about you. What are you planning to do now?”
He hesitated not sure he wanted to answer that; instead he took a sip of his drink. “Aren’t you thinking of a divorce? Karen asked steadily, she peered cautiously at him.
Tunde groaned inwardly “Why is everyone preaching divorce?” he responded staring at her in annoyance. “Whatever I choose to do should be what is right for me.”
“What about your family? Are you going to leave them hanging and elope with her?” she asked sarcastically.
Tunde almost hissed, “My family will respect my decision.” It was his turn to peer at her seeing her hooded expression.
“I just want you to be happy and obviously make the best decision because she shouldn’t even appear in front of you again, she…”
“…and you are the best decision?!” he cut Karen short abruptly. He could do little to hide his irritation.
“Don’t put words into my mouth Tunde” Karen replied scathing.
He laughed at her response full of sarcasm and finally quelled his rising anger. “This is all a game to you, Karen” Tunde stated simply. “An acquisition to take your prize.” His tone was intent to bite.
“You’re not a prize, Tunde. You are a man I love”, Karen replied in a cautious tone.
He shook his head. “No, you have no idea what it means to love. It’s not one of these mind games you play, it is more infinite than that” , Tunde paused letting his words sink in “This is just a game to you, Karen.”
Karen was visibly shaken; her perfect make up did little to hide the torment lurking behind her cool facade. “Tunde I love you and I always have, it is unfair to say I haven’t.  You got married, fell in ‘love’ with your cheating wife and I am still here!” she fought to speak in a hushed tone.
Her words calmed his displaced anger, his annoyance quickly turned to pity. “Karen I know the huge sacrifice you made waiting for me and I know that it is unfair for you to watch me become a mess because of my wife but I can’t help who I fell for in the end.”
Her eyes glistened with tears as she desperately fought to keep them back. “Then we can always grow that love back, Tunde. The love you had for only me”, she replied with her tone full of hurt.
He shook his head and stretched his hand across the table to clasp hers. “Karen I can’t watch you also cling to something we are both uncertain of. I’m hurt and vulnerable but I will not be stupid enough to make promises I can’t keep after all you’ve been through”, he removed his hand.
Karen shook her head and gave a short painful laugh. “I miss you Tunde and I have been patient with you but my patience also has its limits.”
“Right now, Karen I’m a mess. I need to figure out a lot of things and Priscilla is one of them.” Tunde gently said, “I still love my wife”.
***
Priscilla walked through the hallway from the elevator, each step she took grew heavier than the last but she knew she could not back down and she had to do this. She had to confront Tunde. The walls of the company felt so unwelcoming and cold, she desperately wanted to cringe and go into hiding, scared of what would happen on the other end of the wall.
She arrived at the secretary’s desk who got up to greet her. “Good afternoon ma”, the woman greeted her with a well-practiced polite smile plastered on her face.
“Good afternoon Rose. Is my husband in?”
“Yes, yes” the younger woman replied “Let me call in to confirm.”
Priscilla nodded and sat down smoothing her custard colored dress. She paid no attention when the secretary spoke almost hearing her heart beat loudly against her chest.
“You can go in,ma”
“Okay, thank you”. Priscilla got up with rubbery legs and walked to the other door along the corridor; she paused and inhaled a deep breath before opening the door. The moment she walked in the familiar scenery flooded into her senses, for a second she had almost forgotten to look at the man she came to see.
She turned and found him staring at her, seated. A rush of emotions filled her heart and she had to stop herself from crying. Priscilla walked almost steadily to the large oak desk separating them and sank into the chair opposite him.
He kept staring; his eyes never leaving her face and her heart tingled. She had to look down at her fingers clasped on her laps beneath the desk, her head began a dull ache and she felt a little cramp in her stomach.
“Why are you here?” His voice was cold and but it did nothing to stop the little tremor that ran through her body.
For the first time, Priscilla looked at Tunde, God, she had missed him terribly. He had grown leaner and his eyes bulged a little as though he had not slept in a while but he still managed to look as handsome as always.
“We haven’t spoken in a while”, her voice wavered in her ears.
Tunde shrugged in response trying to fight off the rush of emotions, he looked down at the desk gritting his teeth as if to quell his raging heart.
“I wanted to give you time to…” she paused trying to find the right word “I felt you needed your space.”
Tunde looked at her and her heart almost stopped he gave her that familiar stubborn look he had sometimes. Priscilla swallowed back tears. “Tunde, can’t we work this out? It is killing me that we are this way. We can’t continue like this,” she almost wailed.
“You brought us to this point Priscilla”, he shook his head ” I can’t see myself looking past it no matter how much I’ve tried to”, he stated in a faraway tone.
Her heart sank further in her chest “Tunde…”
“Why did you do it?” his voice carried his weight of frustration “Why did you sleep with him,  Priscilla?”
She could not help a tear escape from the corner of her eye; she got up feeling restless and walked slowly to the window knowing his eyes followed her. After a minute she sighed and replied, “I felt lonely Tunde” she turned around to face him “and I was very unhappy.”
He said nothing at her response but got up to his full height, Priscilla’s eyes scanned the length of him in hunger but she looked away mentally beating herself for it. She bit her bottom lip watching him walk to her.
Tunde stood so close to her that he could catch a whip of her perfume; he longed to brush her up against him and hold her fragile looking body in his arms. He did not know why he stood there or what he wanted out of it but there was this need to be close to her, to be one with her.
Priscilla’s heart fluttered in her chest, reality felt so far out of reach that all she saw was he, Tunde standing within a breath from her. Her chest heaved so slowly in her chest each rise and fall was almost painful.
“Where did you go?”
Priscilla raised her big brown eyes at him that was his undoing. They knew desire slowly crept in between them but neither attempted to move away.
“Mrs Bridget’s house”, Priscilla replied in almost a whisper “I missed you.” The words fell out of her mouth without her thinking. That was his undoing.
Tunde gathered her into his arms and planted his lips on hers; it knocked her out of breath the suddenness and urgency of it. They clung to each other in a kiss that spoke more of painful longing than passion. She kissed her husband back with reckless abandon, revealing at the way his body bucked simply at her touch.
All their time of making love in the home never matched up to this. This was different, a new understanding. Hazily she found herself on the couch with her husband on top of her fumbling with her dress; she tore at his clothes too. Passion for passion, fire for fire.
 
…SHE felt as though she had fallen into another world far better than earth just being in his arms, she felt joy bubbling within her and… As quickly as it begun, Tunde cursed and pulled away from her.
He got up with a scowl on his face leaving her in shock. Tunde adjusted his shirt and she took her cue to do the same sitting up on the couch, he had turned his back on her just the way he stood on the fateful day.
“Tunde what’s wrong?” Priscilla asked perturbed.
“I keep thinking of you with that man” his tone was savage. Tunde turned to face her “I think you need to leave now.”
“After what we just shared?” Priscilla’s heart sank slowly “We almost made love Tunde.” It was almost as though she was talking to herself confused.
“That was a mistake which would never happen again”
What was left of her little spurt of joy was reduced to ashes as humiliation took over. She got up in a robotic manner. “Tunde…”
“What did you come here for Priscilla?” he barked at her moving away from the couch “Did you want this, is that why you came?”
Hot tears of humiliation trickled down her face slowly replaced by anger “Don’t you dare say I came here for sex Tunde! We both know that is not true.”
“How can I be so sure?!” he responded with anger “How can I ever trust you again?”
“…because I suffered too!” Priscilla shouted at him in frustration “I suffered too! Lonely and unhappy while your family insulted me and you had your little fling with that woman!”
Tunde groaned, “I never, never cheated on you with Karen and we both know that!” he replied matching her tones. “You broke our vows, you broke my trust Priscilla!”
“For Christ’s sake it was before things changed between us,” she wailed at him in frustration “I stopped him before us Tunde. Why is it so hard to get that? I’m sorry it happened and I can’t understand how you feel but I love you and I’m not ready to let you go Tunde Ariyo” she stopped as her body racked with fresh sobs.
He kept quiet as if thrown off what to say, “How will I trust you again Priscilla? My family is in support of a divorce but…”
“A divorce?!” She walked up to him but stopped half way, her anger gave way to grief “A divorce” Priscilla repeated weakly “You are considering a divorce?” Fresh tears began to flow.
“I can’t live with woman I don’t trust or a child born from her affair while we were married!” Tunde rasped on “My family would never accept you back because you and your mother have caused us nothing but pain!”, he spat the words at her without remorse.
“This is not about my mother and I, Tunde and you know that. This is just your excuse to be with Karen.”
“Karen?” Tunde pursed his lips in disgust “I wish it was that!”
“Then what is this about? Because I love you and you love me. If its trust, we could build it back together,” Priscilla replied pleadingly, her eyes glistened from the tears.
“I’m not sure I do anymore”, Tunde looked at her. His heart twisted as he saw her flinch at his statement but he did not attempt to apologize for his speech. “Even if I took you back, what would you represent in my life with a child that is not mine?” he walked to his desk and stood beside it.
“How are you sure the child isn’t yours?” she replied quietly too weak to numb the painful wound in her heart.
“I don’t want child from my wife’s affair with another man, neither do I want a child that would remind me of my wife’s infidelity.”
“It is my child, Tunde,” she cried at him. “An innocent child! If the child was yours, would you hate him or her for my mistakes?”
He shrugged feigning indifference. “I can forgive you for the cheating Priscilla, you were depressed then and I fully can relate to that but a child…” Tunde spoke with such venom. “A child is a different matter, Priscilla”
She shook her head. “Are you suggesting I abort the child?” Priscilla looked at him perturbed.
“I’m suggesting if you want this marriage as bad as I think I do, then do what is right.”
She wiped her eyes letting her pride take over her broken heart. “You are suggesting I kill my baby for you Tunde” she scoffed “Isn’t that too much?”
He shook his head sideways “I want you Priscilla but…”
“No words of love?” Priscilla replied suddenly feeling numb. “I can’t kill my baby please understand. I can’t kill my baby”, she placed a hand on her stomach “I love my baby no matter who the father is and I’m sure it’s you.”
“I’m sorry, Priscilla but that’s the only way out of it aside from a divorce. If you choose to keep it, then I’m afraid I’ll have to leave.”
“You are blackmailing me with a divorce”, she stared at him hurt and disbelieving.  “Tunde please don’t do this…”
“If you really love me you’d do it, because it’s my heart that needs mending. If it ends up in a divorce, you would be adequately compensated more so if the child is mine. I can’t turn my back on my child.”
“You already did Tunde”, she replied shaking her head in despair. After a minute of gathering what was left of her pride she turned and walked to the entrance door, her hand held the door knob for a while. “I don’t want your money Tunde, you can keep it.” With that, she walked out of his office, leaving him with his raging feelings.

Safe Haven: Episode 24 CONTINUES HERE
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Little Things, Big Lessons by ToluKumuyi
STORIES,

SAFE HAVEN: Episode 22

safe haven

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Tunde walked briskly through the stale corridor, his heart beat crazily in his chest from the anger and frustration he couldn’t seem to dispense of since Priscilla  left. He walked towards the large hall hearing noises from it, God; he never thought he would see the inside of a prison facility. It reeked of hopelessness and felons.
He gritted his teeth trying to calm the sudden burst of anger within him as he saw his father sitting expectantly on one of the long benches in the room. Tunde walked there, fighting to maintain his calm as he walked through other prisoners and their visitors. Finally, he got to his destination and sat opposite the father he had grown to dislike immensely. There were no handshakes or family relations, just a cold silence between them.
Tunde spoke first, wanting to be done with the meeting as quickly as possible “Dad”
“I’m glad you came”, Chief Ariyo spoke, beaming expectantly. He looked older than his 67 years of age and he had only been there a week ago. “So what’s happening Tunde?”
“What’s happening? A lot of things”, he was surprisingly calmer than he had expected.
His father sighed and looked around then shifted to look closer on his seat “I can’t be here, Tunde. This place is not for me, there are all manners of people here and the living conditions are disgraceful.”
Tunde stared at his father in full disgust; his jaw was clinched in the anger which now replaced his calm façade. “Are you even thinking at all dad?” his voiced was trimmed with fury. “You stole millions of naira from powerful people, even your friend for crying out loud!”
His father grimaced. “Are we really going over that?”
“We will always go over that!”, he replied with his voice raised in anger. It took him a few minutes to calm himself and he continued with controlled effort. “I can’t even begin to describe what our family is going through right now” Tunde hit the table “Your wife in the hospital because of you, my marriage is nowhere and your business has gone down and…”
“The business?” Chief Ariyo repeated in shock. “The business? What happened to the business?” he asked with anxiety.
Tunde looked at his father in disbelief. “You are more concerned about your business than your family?”
“I built that place from scratch”, the older man replied defensively “Without it, would you have had this life you are living? Best schools, best cars, best clothes!” he shifted in self-justification, his father’s voice had grown low with anger “I did what I had to do to survive and give my family the best.”
“You did what you had to do for yourself, dad”, Tunde responded, looking back at his father full of scorn and shook his head. “I feel so sorry for you,” he continued in a low voice, visibly calmer now. “You will rot here; you will be alone and die alone.”
His father stared back at him full of hate “You wouldn’t leave your father out here will you?” he said in a manipulative tone.
“Figure out how to pay for the millions you stole, dad. Our cars you claim to have gotten for us even your mansion would soon be confiscated; your family you claim to have fought for would have been living from hand to mouth if not for me!” He slumped back in his chair realizing he had moved forward “Do us a favor and see yourself out of this mess.”
“Your ‘second’ son is handling the lawyer’s bills. I have my own life to live.” Tunde got up and his father watched him in scornful silence.
“I regret the day you were born” Chief Ariyo looked into the black pools of his son’s eyes.
Tunde looked at him and shook his head. “I forgive you dad” with that he walked away from his father towards the stale corridor with a heavy heart.
***
Richard opened the door of his apartment as soon as he heard the knock on the door; Karen stared at him for a minute and walked in. She wore a short blue boubou dress with her signature killer heels and turned around to face him as soon as he shut the door.
“You look shabby,” Karen stated drily as she looked at him.
He shrugged; he had not been himself since the great revelation at the dinner. He nearly ran crazy thinking, repeatedly calling Priscilla’s phone and it was obvious she was ignoring his calls. Richard drew from the second cigarette he lit that morning still dangling from between his fingers.
“You want anything to drink?” he asked in a detached note.
“No, I’m making this as quickly as possible seeing you are a mess”, Karen replied with her voice trimmed with irritation. She stood at the centre of the familiar scattered parlor staring at him.
Richard stubbed out the cigarette on the high wooden table he had gone to stand besides overlooking the windows. “Shoot”
“Have you spoken to Priscilla?” she asked defiantly.
He shook his head “Why? What storm have you brought now, Karen?”
Her lips smirked at his question “Did I ever bring up a storm?” Karen replied innocently and Richard shook his head.
“I know you took me there purposely to insult her and ‘claim your prize.'”
“Claim my prize?” Karen echoed and chuckled a little “I have heard that one too many times” she replied, thinking of Tunde.
“Did it pay off?”
“Did what pay off?”
“Destroying her marriage because I’m sure you were intent on that”, Richard went on ignoring her lips thinned into a line “What Karen wants Karen gets,” he stated more to himself than her.
“Did you not want her also?”
“Not this way” Richard replied and looked squarely at his ex-lover “I knew she loved that man even though it pains me to admit it. I knew she did. What happened between us on her part was out of loneliness then.”
Karen stared at him with an unreadable expression on her pretty face “I didn’t come here for sentiments, Richard.” Her tone was staccato.
“Then why are you here?”
“To ask if you are going to talk to her. He’s going to give her a divorce,” Karen stated icily.
“You are happy about that aren’t you?” Richard asked staring dead into her eyes giving her a chilling shiver.
“Don’t you want that too?”
“No” he shook his head looking distantly out of the window, “Not anymore. I just want to know if I’m the father of her child or not”
Karen pursed her lips as though stopping herself from giving a biting remark, she walked towards the door. “What happened to you Richard?” she asked softly “You used to be like me.”
He said nothing and walked to the door, the answer lay between them.
“Call me when you speak to her will you?” Karen opened the door and walked herself out.
***
She could not sleep; her evening siesta was interrupted with the troubling words she heard over the phone.  Imabong sat up in her little bedroom looking around hopelessly, her heart was heavy with grief for her half-sister following the conversation she had with Seyi in the morning.
Imabong closed her eyes letting happy memories of her childhood flood it; memories she had discounted and pushed to the back of her mind softened her heart at the hazy remembrance of Priscilla. She pushed back tears opening her eyes again but they stubbornly streamed down her smooth fair cheeks, Ima hastily dabbed them with the corner of her duvet sniffing as she did so.
She got up, straightening her petite figure and walked towards the stout chest of drawers besides her wardrobe, she knelt beside it and opened the top drawer rummaging beneath her clothes to find an old diary. With a great effort, she flipped its pages to the page where she wrote her sister’s number, her heart wretched in her chest.
Ima closed her eyes again trying to imagine what Priscilla was going through. Her mind was thrown back to a few years back before she left for Port Harcourt; her guilt trip began when she found out about her parents plans to marry her off. She had been so against it but more so when her mother revealed to her Priscilla was not her daughter. In her words, it was ‘leading a calf to the slaughterhouse’.
Maybe she ought to have told Priscilla about it, maybe it would have saved her from her predicament, so much drama in her life. She, Ima had come to Port Harcourt in hopes of finding herself, in hopes of running from her guilt. She could not even understand how Priscilla felt, she had gotten a moderate job; become her own woman yet she pushed her sister from side to side because of her over ambitious mother.
Imabong stared bleakly at the number. Was it going to ring? Had Priscilla changed her number? What would she say? Would she forgive her? A teardrop on the page blurred a little of the ink. Ima sucked in a deep breath, that was four years ago and she still had a role to play in her half sister’s sorrow.
Ima slowly got up with the diary and walked to her bed where her phone lay, it was time to lay old ghosts to rest.
 
 
***
Priscilla lay on her bed staring impersonally at the white POP ceiling; her mind was lost in her troubles. She so desperately wanted to hear the church organs the tune she had grown to love so much, she longed to hear it play from her home… with Tunde, wrapped up in his strong arms.
Her eyes had grown so puffy from crying and she kept having these dizzy spells and cramps. She had lost so much weight, which was not good for the baby, but she had no strength or inclination to eat. All she wanted, was to hear from Tunde whether he was angry or sad or whatever. Just to see him and anything to be around him, she turned to the left side of her bed. How had she come to love that man so much that it hurt this way to be away from him?
Almost a year ago, if they had told her she would be here feeling this way, she would have been disgusted. How could she love him this much? This time a tear came from the corner of her eye soaking the pillow. If only she could wipe away this Richard saga! The thought of the other man made her heart sink even more, ignoring his calls and messages yet he persisted unlike her husband who did not attempt to call once.
She knew she would soon have to face Richard and put an end to his chapter in her life but was that the end of Tunde’s chapter for her? She did not want it to end, in her heart she knew she was ready to go back to a loveless marriage if it meant being with him in hopes that he would forgive her someday. More tears flowed; the more she thought of him hoping he would take her back the more she was convinced he would not. He had waited for so long before he loved her, if he ever loved her for this chance. A chance to be with Karen.
Priscilla felt sick in her stomach thinking of them together, in bed, Karen’s ear pressed to his chest listening to his heartbeat as she always did. Priscilla swallowed down an anguished moan. This was the chance her husband had wanted and now he found it; she could not imagine letting him go. How could he leave with everything they had felt for each other, all the promises and the soft kisses… talking about everything and nothing? How could he look away from all that?
Could he not imagine she was hurting too? She was sorry!
This time she burst into tears, rolling on the pillow to stifle her sobs, her weak body gave way to her emotions until she lay spent after a while. Her heart felt so heavy, like a nagging painful feel. She wanted to rip out of her body. She wondered why she had not died already from the heartache but then she had died a million deaths both in body and in mind.
The distinct sound of her phone brought her out of oblivion; she stretched towards the offensive sound and clicked to receive the call. It was a distinctively familiar feminine voice.
“Hello” her voice croaked in her ears.
“Hello” the caller replied “Am I speaking with Priscilla, Priscilla Irumogbe?”
“Who is this?”
There was a pause at the other end then a slow answer “Its Imabong”
Shock registered on Priscilla’s face at the vivid image of her sister came up “Ima?”
“Yes Ima.” Her voice sounded more confident.
“Oh my goodness, Ima” , her voice shook carrying the weight of her emotions “It’s been forever”
“I know sister,” she laughed a little obviously feeling more relaxed “How are you?”
Priscilla was not sure how to answer that “Ima it’s been forever, you never called or returned any of my calls or mails”, Priscilla replied in a shaky tone. “How are you Imabong?”
“I’m okay, living each day as it comes” Imabong replied slowly. The line fell quiet for a few minutes.
“Why did you call out of the blues? We used to be very close and you couldn’t even talk to me or tell me what was wrong.”
There was silence again for a few minutes “That’s the reason why I called Priscilla. I’m so sorry, it’s a long story.”
“Let me call you back then.” She hung up and called her younger sister back immediately. “I’m all ears”
“I heard everything, Priscilla” Imabong took a deep breath “From the affair mum had to the marriage and now your present…” she paused looking for the appropriate word… “Situation”, she finally found the word.
“Who told you?” Priscilla asked with surprise.
“It’s Seyi”, Ima replied and gushed on “He’s just really worried for you and we both think you need all the support you can get right now.”
Priscilla said nothing, a bit irritated.
“Priscilla? Are you there?”
“Yes, yes I am” she replied tongue in cheek.  “After all this time you just call me out of the blues to tell me I need all the support I can get?…” she let her words hang to increase its meaning.
“I admit it’s a laughable attempt from my end to be a good sister”, she sighed loudly. “Priscilla, I had my issues I battled with for the four years I’ve been here. I know it’s no excuse and I’m really sorry, you don’t know how sorry I am. It’s no excuse but I really hope to fix what I left unfinished four years ago” she paused letting her words sink in “I’m so sorry for everything what mother did, I’m ashamed.”
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of”, she replied, not even believing what she said and she knew Ima did not believe her too.
“How is she? Mum?”
“I haven’t spoken to her in a while. I thought it was best to give her some space.”
She could tell Ima agreed with her choice. “You know nothing would ever change between us even though we are half-sisters. I still will not stop loving you any less”, Priscilla stated that with a surge of emotion, she had lost one too many people to lose her sister now.
“I love you too sis but I also had my part to place Priscilla. I failed you when I should have stood up for you,” her voice sounded so small from shame.
“What do you mean?” Priscilla asked looking puzzled.
“Your maternity” Imabong let out a big sigh before continuing, “I knew about it”
There was an awkward silence “Priscilla?” Ima called her name in alarm.
“I’ve heard you” Priscilla replied slowly. “Did you know about mother’s plans?” her voice shook a bit.
“Yes”, Ima replied sounding distressed. “I was too weak; I should have stood up to her.”
“There’s nothing you could have done” her tone was distant. “She can be a scary person to double cross.”
Imabong laughed full of resentment directed herself “Wouldn’t you get angry? Shout at something or me? I could have prevented this, I could have told you and…”
“Yeah I’m hurt, Ima but that was four years ago. I don’t need to look back now; I need to look forward for the future of my child and me.”
“Priscilla, I have felt so guilty about it. I have carried this burden since then and you telling me it is okay doesn’t even make it any easier for me…”
“I can’t dwell on this, Ima. Yes, I’m hurt and I’m a bit angry”, Priscilla responded in a controlled calm voice. “I doubt that screaming and shouting would rewrite history.”
“Priscilla…”
“I’m glad you’re here now Ima. Things may not be as they should be but it is comforting to hear your voice again”. For the first time in a while, Priscilla smiled, genuinely.

Safe Haven: Episode 23 CONTINUES HERE
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STORIES,

SAFE HAVEN: Episode 21

safe haven

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ONE WEEK LATER
Tunde walked through the lawn; his eyes behind the dark shades were red with dark circles beneath testifying to his lack of sleep. He finally got to the car and paused taking in another breath of fresh air, the blasted tune played in his head – remembering his wife loved the tune. Tunde gritted his teeth and opened the door sliding into the driver’s seat.
The passenger door opened and Demilade sat on the seat beside him, he removed his glasses surprised. “Demilade…”
“Can I come with you?” her voice was unusually soft “I’m tired of this house.”
Tunde nodded saying nothing; he started the engine and drove out of the compound through the already opened gate by the gate man. Silence filled the air as he drove. They were both buried in their thoughts but the same issue hung between them.
He slowed down getting to the little clog of traffic at the T-junction. The same tune played repeatedly in his head, hell; he knew he missed Priscilla so much. In fact, he was beginning to doubt he reacted to the issue the right way, what if he had been patient. Heard her out? What if…
“Are you thinking about her?” Demilade’s voice interrupted his thoughts as the car surged forward “You are thinking about her…” her tone was distant.
“Yes” Tunde replied simply, there was no use denying it.
“I heard your conversation with dad the night you came in” this time she looked at him and their gazes locked. Tunde stared at her shocked and dragged his yes back on the road.
“I’m sorry Demilade.”
“Don’t be” Demilade looked out to the road through the window. “So many secrets, dirty secrets…”
Tunde sighed at a loss for words; he turned towards the road leading to his house, his heart slowly thumped in his chest secretly hoping she would be there, waiting for him.
“What are you going to do?” She threw him a glance; her eyes glistened with tears for her brother. “You can’t keep her around Tunde, she and her family ought to leave us alone”
“It is not her fault, Demi” he sighed in resignation. “ It’s not her fault dad had an affair with her mother.”
“Still you can’t keep her around. Do you know what that would do to mum, me, dad?”
“Your father wants her around” his lips thinned as he thought of his father. “That is all he has ever wanted, he cares only about his name.”
“Our father is a pig.” Her voice was heavy with hate and he threw her a sharp glance in response. It took a breath as if to calm herself and she continued, “If mum found out about everything, her health…”
“That’s why she won’t Demilade. Don’t say a word about it to her.”
Demilade shook her head in frustration but chose not to respond. Tunde turned into the all familiar street and silence filled the car once again. The tension was almost tangible. His breath quacked when he parked the car in front of the gate, he opened the door but his body felt too flaccid to move. Demilade got out of the car and stood in front of the gate with a look of confidence but within him, he knew she too was scared for him.
After what seemed to be forever, he got out of the car and locked it. It took him a minute to walk towards the gate and walk into the large compound.  His heart was pounding, he thought his sister could even hear it.
They entered the cream building and slowly climbed the staircase with her in front of him. Demilade turned around and held out her hand as they got to the front door. Tunde held on to it and gave her a light squeeze. His chest felt too tight to contain his heavy heart, it took strength to turn the silver key in its lock, it made a light click and his hand slid away from the door handle of its own volition.
He wanted to hear those soft footsteps as they came towards the other side of the door. He closed his eyes for a brief second and looked at his sister. He gave him a sympathizing look with tears in her eyes. She could see how much he loved the woman.
Finally, he held on to the door handle and turned it slowly. The door creaked open and slowly gave way for them to enter. He could almost wail as the house stared back at him giving him all it had.
Demilade slid her hand from beneath his and walked into the apartment, like a robot he walked behind her. Each step he took sunk his heart further, Tunde walked towards the corridor towards the bedroom half hoping Priscilla would walk into the room any moment.
There was a single piece of paper on the bed, he sat on the edge almost bewildered and shakily picked up the paper. He gazed hazily at the piece of paper. It contained an address. She had left. Tunde hung his head swallowing the deep wave of disappointment rocking his body.

***

Priscilla hastily stumbled towards the toilet and lurched herself at the toilet vomiting. Soon after, she sat helplessly on the clean floor and burst into fresh tears, feeling another wave of self-pity. It took her a long while to get up and flush the toilet with the stench of her vomit hanging heavily in the air.
She dragged herself towards the brown drapes and parted them open. The morning sun flooded into the room taking away the morose atmosphere. Priscilla stood like that for a few minutes watching the little boy that played with himself in the house on the other side of the street. A little quiver of peace came into her heart and her hand rested on the little bump in her stomach. For the first time in a long while she remembered her sister Imabong, her heart quivered again with nostalgia also remembering the lengthy conversation she had with Seyi the day before concerning her issues.
Priscilla moved away feeling slightly better. After a while she stepped out of the room fleshly dressed in a shirt and sweat pants. She could smell pancakes and her stomach complained of hunger, her footsteps led her to the kitchen seeing Mrs. Bridget hum to herself as she fried pancakes.
“Good morning”, she walked to the cupboard getting out plates.
“Good morning dear”, Mrs Bridget replied with her refreshing motherly smile. “Trust you slept well?”
“Yes I did”, Priscilla replied returning reassuring smile. Much to her embarrassment, her, stomach grumbled loudly again and her host laughed.
“Don’t worry!” She put the last batch of pancakes on the plate and Priscilla carried them to the already set table.
“Please let me handle the cooking”, she rushed on feeling uncomfortable “That is the least I could do for your kindness.”
“Nonsense!” Mrs Bridget replied with her usual enthusiasm. “I won’t allow my guest cook in my house. You are here to relax and get your thoughts together.”
A tear slid of the corner of Priscilla’s eye and she dabbed it away with her palm “Thank you” she said in a croaked voice.
Mrs Bridget put down her fork in surprise “why are you crying?”
“It’s just, my own mother should be doing this,” she said after a moment “well at least the woman I thought was my mother,” Priscilla added with spite.
“She is still your mother” the other woman replied softly.” “Regardless of everything, she raised you and brought you up to this point in your life even though it may seem like the worst.”
She swallowed a piece of the pancake slowly. In her heart, she knew Mrs Bridget as a mother. She also knew Mrs Bridget had a point but her heart was too hardened to believe. “I’m in a mess and all she cared about was to grab unto her money, she didn’t even care that I was hurt”, her voice shook remembering the day she went to her mother’s house.
“So, what do you plan on doing now?” Mrs Bridget asked obviously unwilling to pursue the subject any further.
Priscilla stared down at her barely eaten meal “I don’t know. I love my husband but we both need time to heal.” She stared at her host expectantly and she responded nodding in agreement. Priscilla busied herself and cut another piece of the pancake taking it into her mouth.
Her heart hurt thinking of her husband.
 

***

Karen stared at the door of Tunde’s office hesitant to open the door, she knew the nosy secretary watched her intently as she opened the door with confidence and stepped into the office.
Tunde looked up from the documents on the table. Seeing Karen, he got up in courtesy and she rushed towards him gathering him in her embrace. His heart repelled it but he was too soft to care. Finally, she released him and walked round the table to seat in front of his desk. He sat down as soon as she did.
“How are you?” Karen asked him with her eyes supposedly full of concern. Tunde stifled a grunt of disgust; sometimes she forgot just how well he knew her. He knew very well she had come to stake her claim, her prize. Him.
“I’m okay, I’ve been busy” his tone was flat.
“Too busy to call me?”, she threw him one of her famous sulky looks.
“I’ve been busy Karen. I’ve had a lot of things to handle.”
She said nothing at that but he knew she was not pleased. “I want to be there for you Tunde,” Karen stated softly. “I really want to be here for you, you need me the most right now.”
Tunde said nothing watching her as she spoke.
“I feel like you are pushing me away and we know I’ve been with you for a long time, I know when you need a friend.”
“A friend?”, Tunde echoed in uncertainty.
Karen shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Am I not your friend?”
“You tell me, Karen”, he replied drily and relaxed back in his chair. “Is this a game to you where you’ve come to stake your prize?”
She looked at him surprised, genuinely surprised. “Err Tunde… Tunde I…”
Tunde smiled a little “Karen I can take care of myself, you don’t need to worry about me.”
“But there’s your dad and her mom and the fact that she had ‘sex’ with Richard and now she’s pregnant.” She laid heavily on the ‘sex’ word as if to rub it in. “It’s a lot of drama for one person to take in.”
It stung him, it really did but he chose not to give her the satisfaction of showing it. “Karen”, Tunde replied firmly.  “I’m fine, you don’t need to worry about me but thanks.”
“Have you heard from her?” Karen asked, gingering.
“Priscilla and I would sort it out ourselves; I can’t think when everyone is badgering me.”
She threw him a hurt expression. Tunde’s mobile phone rang and they both looked at it, it was Demilade.
“Excuse me”, he said to her and picked up the call. “Hello?”
The other end of the line was noisy and Tunde strained to hear what was going on “Hello?”
“Tunde it’s me!”
Tunde glanced at Karen who was watching him with an unfathomable look on her face. “Yeah where are you? It’s noisy.”
“I’m at the hospital.”
He sat up in his chair “What for? Are you okay?”
“Its mum, she fainted!”

Safe Haven: Episode 23 CONTINUES HERE
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HOW TO HAVE A GREAT YEAR by Pastor Emmanuel Iren
SUSAN

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STORIES,

SAFE HAVEN: Episode 20

safe haven

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The loud banging on the door woke the whole house up. The knock was so loud and disturbing, it was frightening but Demilade got up at the sound of the shrill ringing of her phone. Grudgingly, her hand automatically found her phone beside the bed and she looked at it through heavy lids- it was her brother. A worried crease formed her temple as she looked at the time; it was a little after 12, too late for a phone call unless it was urgent.
She pressed the call button but the loud bang on the front door startled her again. She got out of the king sized bed and hurriedly pulled on the robe hanging in its hanger on the wardrobe. The knocking had stopped with the loud opening of the door. Demilade rushed out of her room seeing Tunde downstairs. She was shocked at the sight of him looking wild and disheveled.
“Tunde…”
Her father rushed out of his study downstairs with his reading glasses still on the bridge of his nose.
“Tunde!” He shouted at the sight of his son. “Tunde what is this? What is happening?”
Tunde staggered back a bit, his whole body reeked of alcohol and his fist bloody from slamming it against almost every object he met. Demilade stepped back into the shadows of the corridor upstairs, her heartbeat loudly in her chest and her mouth went dry sensing there was something going on. She watched as Chief Ariyo looked around as if hiding something.
“What are you doing here at this time?” he lowered his voice angrily.
Tunde sat on the cream leather couch raising his eyes to look at his father in contempt. “She cheated dad”
“Who?” his father asked confused “What is this entire ruckus about?”
“The wife you gave me, dad”, he spat out the words in anger. He looked down at his bloodied hands. “Priscilla cheated.”
Demilade swallowed the information with difficulty, watching her father.
He swayed and pressed his hands on the bridge of his nose placing the glasses on the centre table
“Your mother is asleep thanks to sleeping pills and your sister’s room is right above this place.  They can’t wake up to find you here.”
He looked up at the man standing before him again, he had regained a bit of composure though his body ached violently. “So”, he replied with difficulty in swallowing. “What are you suggesting I do?”
“I think you should go back and settle this amicably with your wife.”
Silence reigned between them with only the sound of an owl piercing through the quiet. Finally, Tunde got up and spoke “I’m afraid I won’t do that dad because I’m done, I can’t live with a cheating wife.”
“Well you would have to!” Tayo replied cautiously, he scratched his grey head still in shock of his son’s revelation. “You know why you can’t end things now. It would be a matter of time before Sola starts threatening me again.”
“So this is more about you than me?” Tunde moved back wincing a bit “I am not going back to that hell-hole, I am not going to cover up your mistake anymore.”
Tayo said nothing at first; letting his words sink deeply into him. “So what do you want to do because this is bigger than the both of us and you know it. There is a child involved now.”
“A child whom may not be mine?” his voice rose to that “It’s time everyone knows what’s really going on”, Tunde stalled a bit. “I can’t do it anymore; I won’t live my whole life trying to cover up for you.”
“Don’t be stupid, Tunde!” his father exclaimed angrily. “How do you think your mother would feel if she gets to know what this is about? If you try to divorce Priscilla she would come at you with everything, and with the way things are going, our company would be split into almost half.”
“Not when I can accuse her of adultery and question the paternity of the child in court”, he let out a ragged breath. “Sooner or later, Sola would come out with the truth about your affair with her when her husband was alive- after all that’s what led to everything” , he sat down again. “She’s not the kind of woman to want to go down alone.”
“You have to go back Tunde, at least for now”, Tayo’s tone was desperate with his eyebrows furrowed together.
Tunde said nothing and got up from the chair again, he staggered a bit and winced walking towards the guest bedroom.
“Where are you going?” his father asked
“To the guest bedroom” he called back without turning around
“Tunde”, Tayo walked up to him in growing fear. “You have to think carefully about everything, I know I have asked for too much already but…”
“Not this time, dad”, Tunde replied flatly opening the door of the bedroom. He walked into the darkness like a drug man and slapped the door behind him.
Tayo stood for a while looking lost and defeated, he let out a loud audible breath and looked back at the cream colored door beside him with that he moved back to the study brooding on what to do next.
She stood back in the shadows, her fist was in her mouth as she fought to hold back loud sobs, her eyes were pregnant with tears even when Demilade kept on hearing those words echo in her head. She slid down the wall and crouched on her feet weeping silently.

***

Tunde woke up with a fierce headache; it seemed to penetrate right at him. He opened his heavy eyelids a little, his vision was cloudy but he saw the yellow walls and the chocolate painted wardrobe.  His hands splayed on the soft mattress, the fan was on. He did not remember turning it on the night before but then he wasn’t in his bedroom, he wasn’t at home, where was he? His eyes opened more and it took effort to clear his grinding head, he was in his parents’ house.
His mother sat at the edge of the bed with a glass of water in one hand and a glass of water in the other. She offered it to him stretching out her slim hands and he took them mumbling a thank you in return.
Silence reigned in the room while Tunde adjusted to rest his back on the bed slab. He didn’t want to think about yesterday, the fight he had with Priscilla or the way she had begged and pleaded, he didn’t want to think about how he felt betrayed and sore…heartbroken…
“Tunde”, his mother called his name in a gentle tone.
He did not realize he had closed his eyes but he slowly opened them to look at her, she placed her hand on his and squeezed gently.
“How are you feeling?”
“My head feels sore.”
“You know what I mean”, she looked at him and smiled a bit. “Your father told me what happened.”
Tunde looked down at his mother’s hand on his, reluctant to speak.
“I understand if you don’t want to talk about it now.”
“Thank you.”
“I just want you to know that we support whatever you decision you take”, she pulled her comforting hand away and let out a rugged breath.
“Did dad tell you that?” Tunde asked skeptical “Did he say that he supports whatever decision I make?”
“I’m sure your father wants the best for you”, Mrs Ariyo replied smiling lightly.
“He wants what’s best for his company,” Tunde stated in a bitter tone.
“Honestly, I don’t know much about what’s been going on with the company but I knew it was a bad move getting into an arranged marriage over business. Marriage is a different matter altogether.”
He made no comment on that. “Mum, I just want to relax now and make a decision on my turf. I don’t want to make a decision with someone’s voice telling me what to do.”
“Yes dear and we support your decision whatever the case is.”
“And if it is to get back with her…”
“You know I never get involved in my children’s personal lives, you are old enough to decide on what you feel is best”, she gave him a broad smile “I trust you to make the right decision after all I trained my children well.”
“What if it causes a lot of things to go wrong?” Tunde asked his mother searching her eyes for an answer.
His mother gave him a puzzled look in return, “What do you mean, Tunde?” she asked confused “What could possibly go wrong?”
He forced himself to smile “Never mind mum.” He touched her arm. “Thank you for the pills.” Tunde laid back on the bed.
His mother stood up. “Just feel free to stay as long as you like.” With that, she walked out of the room, leaving him to his thoughts.
His eyes found the wall clock; it was past one in the afternoon. Was she waiting for him? Hoping she could convince him to forgive her or did she just give up on everything? Give up on the nights of passion and the sweet words he whispered in her pretty ears, did she even like it when he touched her or she pretended?
Tunde closed his eyes and sighed heavily trying to control his emotions. Could he ever forgive her? Could he even trust her again after everything? He knew the answer. Even if the incident had not happened something else would have brought them back to reality but he loved her, he still loved her beneath all the anger and resentment he was feeling, he missed her so much – it hurt.

***

She pulled up in front of the gate of her mother’s compound and parked. Priscilla let out a deep breath. Her eyes met her withdrawn expression in the mirror. She looked like a ghost. Overnight she grew into a zombie as she packed her things into a suitcase; she wanted to get out of the house, suddenly claustrophobic.  Her hair was a mess, she did not bother combing through the short length, her eyes were red and her face drawn; she looked a mess.
As she was parked seated in the loneliness of her car, Priscilla cleaned her tear-stained cheeks. She did not want to get out, it was not even about her mother’s disapproval but that she was fed up and it took her husband to find out about her affair before she finally broke free of her mother’s hold. Priscilla sniffed rubbing her nose with the back of her hand.
She opened the car door with more force than necessary and got out of the car, it took her a longer time to lock the door. Finally, she dragged herself into the compound and knocked on the iron security door of her mother’s house.
The sun peered at her even through the sunglasses she wore, Priscilla knocked again with more determination and her mother opened the door with irritation plastered on her face.
“Priscilla” Sola spoke in surprise; she shifted for her to enter the house and closed the door after her.
Priscilla removed the glasses from her face and turned around to face her mother whose shock had tripled at the look of her daughter.
“What happened?” she almost whispered the question as she moved to hold Priscilla.
Priscilla moved back “Don’t.” Tears formed again in her eyes. “Please don’t”, her tone was weak.
“Priscilla” Sola spoke confused “I don’t understand what this is about.”
“Why didn’t you say you had an affair with Tunde’s father?” her tone was full of resentment for the older woman standing in front of her.
Her mother moved back surprised by the question, she held a nearby chair feeling suddenly weak “Where did you get that?”
“I asked you a question mum” Priscilla replied shakily, she slowly began to heave with her anger brewing again.
“Priscilla…”
“Tell me why!” she screamed at her mother who stared at her in horror.
“Yes, yes” Sola replied hastily, she regained her balance “Yes, I had an affair with him!” she completed defensively.
“God” Priscilla looked away from her in disgust, she burst into tears in disbelief and disappointment; she hoped she would hear that it was not true she had even prayed to hear it was a lie at least to seek solace with her mother.
“Priscilla…”
She raised a quieting hand up “Don’t.” It took her a minute more to catch her breath. “I am so disappointed in you, I am disgusted and embarrassed. For Christ sake you are both married!” she said in a hopeless tone “You kept this from me and asked me to marry his son!” Her voice rose at that.
“Are you judging me?” Sola asked defensively “You have no clue of anything and you are one to judge!”, she laughed derisively.
“I am sick of this, I am sick of you and everything!” Priscilla replied shakily. “In one night I lost my marriage and I found out my mother had an affair with my father-in-law!” Tears began to rake through her body again. She shuddered.
Her mother scoffed “You think I’m such a bad person?” she asked in abrasion, “I sicken you?” Sola laughed, it sounded ugly. “Who put you in a home and fed you? Who gave you the car you drive and the money in your account? You think it was Santa Claus or your weak father? If I sicken you so much, you shouldn’t have agreed to get married in the first place!”
She flinched at what her mother said, she felt sickened by the words as every letter stung deeply at her heart.
“You went too far sleeping with your husband’s best friend” she replied in anger “You ….”
“You think your father was a saint? You think he never cheated the ever faithful husband?” Sola gestured at the sarcasm “I put up with his philandering, I put up with the shame he brought home, I put up with the smell of other women hung on him as we slept on our matrimonial bed.” Her voice was raised in bitterness. “You think your father was a saint? Here we are! I put you in that house and gave you that car, I saved you the stress of getting back to poverty where you came from!” she spat at Priscilla, her eyes were filled with disgust and hate
Priscilla stumbled back at her mother’s words “The poverty I came from?” she echoed in confusion “What is the meaning of that?”
“Ask your saint of a father when you get to hell!” she hissed and began to pace. “I fed you and gave you everything, yet you come here judging me, me!” her voice was shrill and laden with deep buried anger.
Her breathing became difficult and her eyes were becoming full with tears “What is that supposed to mean, mum?” Priscilla asked in a small voice “What do you mean by that?”
Sola stopped pacing and looked at her “The next time you come here barging in and demanding for answers, you will hate what I would become.” Her tone was as monstrous as her gaze was.
Priscilla looked at the woman who had transformed into a stranger before her. Fragile tears fell from her aching eyelids, she was shaking her head wanting to remove the words her mother just spoke, what was she trying to say? That she was a product of one of her father’s numerous affairs. It could not be true, not her, never. She kept sobbing. She could not stop.
“What are you trying to say?” she screamed at the woman she knew as her mother.
Sola heaved out a sigh; she made no move to comfort Priscilla. Instead, she stood there watching as the girl cried; her jaw was set; set on forgiveness. Her eyes blazed with resentment and bitterness enough she did not have to speak. Finally she spoke “You had better get back with Tunde” her tone was cold and impersonal.
Priscilla wiped her face with the back of her hand “I won’t!” She replied insolently “I am done, I am tired of this. I do not want you telling me anything anymore! I have done everything you have asked from, whatever happens next we will learn to live with it!”
“Not while I am alive!” Sola exclaimed walking to her “You will do as I say, you will get back to your husband and you will patch up that marriage”, she spoke shakily in contempt “You think I brought you here for the show? You think this is one of those B-rated romance movies you watch? This is reality and if you so much as think of giving that man a divorce, you are done!”
“Then let me be done!” she screamed at the woman she knew as her mother with shock of contempt. Her body raked in tears and her eyes let it fall by default, she was emotionally drained but she was done with the woman standing in front of her. “I don’t care if I have to beg under a bridge but I am not going back to deceiving and living in a lonely world because you want to maintain a fake lifestyle!”
“Priscilla you are testing my patience very badly. You are really unwise”, she replied through gritted teeth “Do you know what it means to be a single mother? Do you want to carry such a responsibility because of your stubbornness?”
Priscilla shook her head; she let out a frustrated laugh in tears “I am done with everything, if I get back with Tunde it would be at my own terms without you telling me what to do!”
Sola searched her eyes in anger “I am sorry for you this girl, you think this is about me?”
“It is always about you!”  Priscilla threw her hands in the air “It has never been Priscilla’s happiness, always about you!” she stopped to rub her temple in resignation; “You blackmailed them didn’t you? To marry me, I kept thinking, thinking of it all morning and I know you are not above it.”
“It’s what gave you all this” Sola replied in a chilling voice. ” I put you for your own good”
Priscilla shook her head sideways at the statement “No, I won’t believe this reason you are giving. God, I can’t believe this” she raked a hand through her hair “You slept with him and blackmailed him and yet you had the effrontery to marry me off to his son to keep your life style?”
The slap stung across her cheek and the house fell silent, she could almost hear her heart beating loudly in the sitting room. Priscilla gave her a rueful smile, she had nothing else to say and she turned around and walked to the entrance door placing her hand on the door handle.
“Priscilla if you walk out of here now that’s it, I won’t forgive you.”
She stopped and looked at the mother whom she had once respected. She could not even find her voice, only pity for herself and more for her mother who had grown so bitter over the years. Priscilla walked out of the house with a soft click of the door shutting behind her.

Safe Haven: Episode CONTINUES HERE
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MYSTERY GIRL
MEMOIRS OF UNSETTLED ADNAN: I HOOKED UP WITH A MARRIED MAN

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SAFE HAVEN: Episode 19

safe haven

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He smiled at her as she walked in but he did not get up, Karen sighed as she walked towards his oak table: it was littered with documents and notepads.
“You won’t even look at me?” she scoffed but he said nothing, at first. Karen sat on the chair in front of the table and smiled, this time it was a sad little smile.
“You look drawn”, he replied slowly eyeing her intently and she sighed again and rubbed her temple in a therapeutic manner.
“I feel it.” She hadn’t slept for days thinking and thinking of what to do next, what card to play, mending her broken heart since his mother in law had burst out that her daughter was pregnant.
The room fell silent; there was nothing either of them could say. Karen lit the last stick of cigarette from the pack and he got out the ashtray “How is she?”
“Who?”
“Your wife”, the words dripped with venom.
“She’s fine” he replied gently “She got discharged yesterday. Her mother has been beside her ever since.”
“Is she really pregnant?”
“Where you hoping it were a lie?”
Karen nodded; “I hoped you’d say it was a sick joke anything but the truth”, she sniffed.
“Karen”, he held her hand gently “I am sorry but please don’t be hard on yourself.”
She snickered and drew in the smoke from the cigarette “I feel betrayed Tunde, after all the years of waiting and the promises.”
“I made no promises, Karen. Yes, I cared for you then but I made no promises.”
“You cared?  You said you loved me!”
Tunde said nothing.
“You made it look like a fairy tale, as though I was worth something!”
“You are”, he replied desperately “You would always be worth something but I’m sorry it came to this.”
She shook her head and got up, leaving the cigarette butt to burn off in the small tray. Karen walked to the high glass windows looking out at the busy road beneath them. It was time to play her last card.
“How is the work?”
Tunde let out a difficult breath “We’re hanging in there waiting for the auditors to look through the files.”
“Your father could be jailed if they found anything that puts him in jeopardy”, she replied in a small voice.
“I know.” He closed his eyes briefly and loosed the knot of the dark tie around his neck. The room fell silent, the tension was not hard to identify even though they wanted to ignore it.
“Tunde…” Her voice was so sad and wistful… it broke, she sighed, uncertain. “I still love you and I would always do.”
“Karen I…”
“Shhh” she turned to face him “I know what you want to say and I have accepted it that there’s nothing else I can do but…I’m still your friend right?”
She held his gaze and he nodded unable to pull out of it.
“I found out something a while ago but I wasn’t sure until recently. I had these few days to think deeply and I feel you should know if the woman you have pledged your life for is worth it, I’ll accept fate only after that.”
“What do you mean?” Tunde asked
“Exactly what I said!” her voice rose in her anxiety.
“What is it about?”
“It’s about your wife” She kept quiet but he did not respond, she continued “Tunde…”
“What about her? What is this about Karen?”
“Priscilla…” she paused “I’m sorry I didn’t say this earlier but I need you to know the kind of woman you love. I don’t want to see you hurt.”
“What did she do?” he fought for control.
“She cheated on you Tunde”
His expression darkened but he said nothing.
“She cheated”, Karen continued slowly. “I saw them together but I thought my eyes were deceiving me, Tunde.”
“Is this another one of your sick schemes? I know what you can do to get what you want.”
She looked hurt “I can’t believe you just said that”, Karen replied defensively.
“I can’t believe you just said that Karen!” His voice rose. “Don’t you think it’s too convenient to tell me now that she’s pregnant?”
“You can ask her if you think I’m evil enough to plot something like that!” she replied, with a wounded expression on her face.
Tunde got up and closed his eyes briefly trying to calm his temper “I think that is a wild accusation Karen”, he replied unsteadily.
“I found out the day we went for that dinner party, I saw them together Tunde and I confirmed it last week.”
“Then why didn’t you say something?”
“Would you have believed me?” she retorted softly.
“What’s to say I believe you now?” Tunde replied turning away from her gaze. “I think you should stay out of our business.”
“Fine”, Karen threw her hands up in the air with exasperation “Ask her who Richard is.”
“Richard?” Tunde echoed “Your Richard?”
“I found it hard to believe also”, she replied laughing in disbelief at the situation. Tears began to form again. “At first I thought my eyes were deceiving me until he confirmed it when we were going home.”
“It’s impossible” his tone was thick in growing anger “You don’t know for a fact that…”
Her shrill laugh sent a chill down his spine. “You don’t want to believe it, do you? The woman you love and who carries your child! What’s to say the child is even yours, Tunde?”
His heart began to pound “I think you should stay out of our affair Karen,” Tunde looked at her again and his mouth quirked an icy look. “Thank you for the care you took in telling me.”
Karen walked to him and stopped at his feet. “Don’t be a fool, Tunde! That bitch has you wrapped around her finger, for all you know it’s a bastard child growing inside her and she’s putting her sick premeditated plan on you!”
Tunde’s hand came up poised to strike Karen. With a great difficulty he moved away from her heated gaze.
“So Tunde”, she sighed and turned back to him with hatred in her eyes. “You were prepared to slap me because of that thing!”
“Get out of my office, Karen.”His tone was dead and controlled and Tunde looked back at her with the same fire in his eyes, she was shocked and she stared at him trying to read him as though he was not the same person who loved her years ago. “Get out!” He barked again.
A tear slid out of the corner of her eye and she shook her head in dismay. “I don’t know who you are anymore.” With that, Karen walked out of his office, slamming the door.
Tunde winced and slumped into his chair, his head was reeling, aching. He wiped his face with a sweaty palm trying to calm himself. He closed his eyes trying to keep her voice out of his head. His hands trembled, his body trembling and screaming in pain. He was panting trying to block out his wife’s taunting voice, her laughter mocking him, mocking him of his stupidity. Tunde slammed his fist hard on the table; a precious tear of shame scalded his cheek.
***
“She knows mummy, I swear she knows.”
“Put yourself together Priscilla,” her mother scolded at by the bedpost in the guest room. Her daughter sat on the edge of the bed fretting, sweating and looking disheveled.
“I can’t sleep, I can’t sleep without thinking about it: the knowing look on her face”, Priscilla replied almost hysterical. She had been on edge since the party; even the doctor had to calm her down but it did not help. Her mind was in bits and pieces and her body screamed for rest. “Priscilla you can’t keep panicking, it’s not good for your child. You need to be patient and wait”, Sola replied not even trusting her words. She was already drawing out other plans, other ways of keeping their marriage intact.
“You shouldn’t have announced my pregnancy mother. You shouldn’t.”
“Not when she was goading you and making passes at your husband”, she replied defensively. “The family needed to know that things have changed. She needed to know that.”
Finally, she looked up at her mother and held back her words seeing the worried look in her deep brown eyes as she choked back another sob.
“I don’t know what to do” she bit her already sore lips. “I don’t know what to do if he found out.”
“You will try to keep your marriage intact. It will be your word against hers Priscilla; no one needs to find out again.”
“I can’t look him in his face and lie again mum, I’m tired of that. The lies are growing and soon we won’t be able to know what we truly stand for.”
“Stand for?” She stamped her foot on the tiled floor in growing exasperation “Stand for, Priscilla? Christ! Do you intend to tell him the truth and let him get boiling mad?!”
She looked at her mother through red-rimmed eyes “We can’t keep this up.”
“Think of your child for heaven’s sake! How do you think you can cope as a single mother?  ”
Her mother stooped down to her and placed a hand on her small shoulder. “Save everything while you still can or destroy your marriage and all that you have worked for because of your weak conscience”, her eyes were hard and cold.
Priscilla looked at her mother, too weak to argue. Her mind was not settled, thinking of the party. Her husband, her marriage, it would cost her his love!
“I can’t lose him mum”
“Then think of the only solution I have laid before you!” she cried emphatically “It’s your word against hers Priscilla and lucky you have managed to make your husband eat out of your palm.”
Sola got up and drew up her bag from the other end of the bed. “I’m leaving today Priscilla.” She folded the wrapper on the already laid bed and put it in the bag zipping it. She stilled “Priscilla, look at me.”
She turned to stare at her mother
“Don’t mess this up, not for your whims and idiosyncrasies” her tone was flat. Priscilla slowly nodded in response…
 
…SOLA opened the door of the lonely flat and carried the little travelling bag in; she removed the key from the door cylinder and shut the metal door behind her. With a sigh, she slumped on the nearest couch and closed her eyes in deep thought.
The house was silent, the way it ought to be. She let out a deep breath and the tension steaming of her in the cool caressing breeze. What had she done? She knew when it was too late. She had made a bad move not considering the other lady’s possible game plans but then how was anyone to know that the man seated beside her as an escort was her daughter’s mistake, possibly the father of her grandchild?
Sola sighed again, this time she felt like screaming but she could not give up now not when she could not even remember what it felt like to suffer. She would not be able to bear the shame, to look back and be the way her mother was: a sad failure. Her lips twitched in determination, she would rather die.
She shifted in her seat, brainstorming on what to do. Her mind was in turmoil until a bible verse crawled into her shadowed mind, and she knew what to do next.
Sola Imorugbe would be patient, she would wait but not upon God for He had shown her a way out and it made her smile in appreciation. Perhaps, it was soon time to ask another favor from Tayo. This time a devious chuckle escaped from her lips thinking of her former lover. With that, she knelt down and prayed.
***
Tunde turned the key to the house slowly in its hole, he watched with a clouded mind- how it slowly turned until the door opened. He felt that way, as though a rusty knife had twisted in his chest. His mouth was bitter and his head a little too light from the generous amount of alcohol consumed in his office.
He took a heavy step into the parlor and gently closed the door behind him with a click. Rage made him cold and as dead as the still night air around him. He felt cheated, betrayed and disgraced, playing the past months repeatedly in his sickened mind like a broken record.
The house was dark with only the moonlight flooding the parlor, the curtains were still drawn up and he caught the whip of water running. She was in the shower and his treacherous body raced with desire and fueled his anger. The brief case slid down the leather chair making a soft zee sound until it landed in his seat. He loosened his tie and walked towards the corridor and into the moonlit room like a zombie.
His mind screamed for control but his body protested until he yielded and removed his clothes dropping them on the rugged floor towards the bathroom he could hear Priscilla humming oblivious to him and he slid the door open.
“You’re back”, she smiled at him with a look that should have made him think she was pleasantly surprised but he doubted it, now. He could see fear and anguish lying somewhere in the dark contours of her eyes. He did not trust himself to speak but he walked to the tub where she stood, her body glistening under the soft yellow bulb and the scent of her engulfing the bathroom.
He did not hear her question again; he was driven by anger and blinded with desire. Tunde pulled his wife out of the shower with his hate growing and his desire monstrous, they made love.
 
….PRISCILLA panted beside her husband wondering what had gotten into him. He had never been this forceful before. He had never gotten up with a savage look on his face after what they shared. Unease began to set in but instead of speaking, she wrapped the white sheet around her chest, her hands trembled a bit and her body felt damp again with sweat.
After what seemed to be hours, the silence became a torment, she spoke in a small worried voice.
“Tunde what’s wrong?”
He turned his back to her tightening the string of his slacks around his waist. Beads of perspiration glistened on his smooth bare back leaving her to watch them trickle down his back as his muscles worked to achieve the task.
Priscilla slowly got up with the white sheet tied around her body and walked to her husband. Hesitantly, her hand touched him, his shoulder and the body beneath her hand stilled.
“What is the matter Tunde?”
He said nothing, he just stood there as though he was counting out his patience but her hand gripped a bit tighter at the flesh beneath it.
“What is the matter? You’ve been acting really strange for 2 days now Tunde and I need to know what’s going on.”
He walked away from her and switched on the bedroom light, the fluorescent responded immediately. Priscilla watched him with growing agitation, but he said nothing. Tunde sat on the edge of the dressing table stool and let out a deep breath rubbing this temple.
“Tunde I don’t like how you are behaving. You came in here two days ago acting strange and I have been concerned, if I did something wrong let me know. What’s the point in us being in a marriage when there is no communication at a time like this?”
For the first time he scoffed “Communication?” Tunde replied slowly in a low tone “What is your definition of that word?”
“Tunde…” She walked to him but stopped halfway in mounting fear “Tunde what brought that question?”
“I asked you, what is your definition of communication?” his voice rose. “Is that what you have been preaching about for a successful marriage?”
Priscilla shook her head in confusion “I don’t understand where all this is coming from”, her hand grabbed the silk robe on the chair and she threw it on shakily over the wrapper. “Please tell me what the matter is Tunde, this silence is killing me.”
He said nothing and she shivered when she met his gaze full of scorn, it was worse than the look he gave her when things where bad between them months ago. This was different. It was murderous. She knew then, and the realization registered on her face. He knew, God, he knew! Tunde read the look of confusion on her face, they knew what it was hanging between them over the bed for the past two days and he was up for suddenly the room felt too small but he could not stop there even though his heart pleaded not to speak, his anger was boiling over.
“Tunde”, Priscilla replied in a small voice catching the lump in her throat “What exactly is this about?”
“Who is Richard to you?”
Priscilla stepped back in fear she could have lost her balance, her heart began to race.
“You heard me!” Tunde’s voice thundered and he got up to tower over her.
Priscilla opened her mouth to speak but no words came, she stammered and stumbled on her words, he seemed suddenly like a giant sucking in the air around her.
“Talk!” he thundered again looking at her in scorn.
“He…he…I don’t understand why you would ask such a question”, she stammered with her eyes darting back and forth in fear “Tunde…”
“You cheated on me!” He thundered with a monstrous look that frightened her; he was breathing heavily, sweat forming on his brows.
“Tunde I…”
“Don’t call my name”, Tunde shouted slamming his fist on the dressing table, it left a dent, Priscilla staggered back wincing in fright. The room fell silent with only the sound of his ragged breathing and her quiet sobbing.
“Did you or did you not cheat?”
The sobbing stopped and she looked at her husband’s face, the frustration in his eyes.  Her mother’s words came to mind, it was her word against Karen’s. Weak tears of deceit fell from her eyes “Tunde please…”
He took out a shirt and took his car keys from the table, his hands shook pulling on the shirt “Shit!” Tunde cursed at the ceiling “Shit!” the keys jingled in his hands and he walked towards the door, Priscilla followed behind crying.
“Tunde…” she called out to him as he walked through the dark corridor to the moonlit sitting room with the full moon making silhouettes of the objects.”Tunde… Where are you going? Please let’s talk.”
“About what?” , he turned round to face her, his eyes full of hatred her body nearly bucked under it.
“You can’t leave at this time” she replied desperately “Its almost 11, please let’s talk I beg you.” Tears racked through her frame and Priscilla slowly knelt down. “Please Tunde, I love you.”
“Don’t ever say that again,” he replied in a cold tone “You have no right to use that word” his eyes burnt through her making her flinch clinging desperately to her sanity. She wailed in pain “Please Tunde, please. I was lonely and I was lost and I thought you were having an affair, I felt broken and…”
“Don’t give me that excuse, it’s too cheap! What lover? I’m not like you, I didn’t choose to defy my vows at any point so don’t bring Karen into this!”
“Pl…Please Tunde; I’m pregnant at least for the sake of the child.”
He shook his head “A child who may not be mine? Was this part of the plan to trick me into thinking that…thing inside you is mine?”
She flinched as though he hit her. “Tunde please” her voice was too heavy with emotions trying to say so much “I’m not like that…”
“Yet you kept your secret away from me?”
“Would you have reacted any different from now? Priscilla asked in tears.
He paused and shook his head in affirmation “It would have saved you from looking like a conspirator if I had heard it first from you”, his tone was soft and regretful. “I can’t tell what’s worse between a snake and the Irumogbe family!” Tunde snickered, “You all leech on people, destroy them as long as you are satisfied. I don’t blame you; I blame my father for pushing us all into this!” His tone was bitter
“What do you mean?” Priscilla asked with confusion.
“What do you think I mean? There is no need pretending not to know how you got your claws into my family! I’d rather have married the devil.”
“Tunde”, her voice was shaking in confusion and her mind in unruly, her head began to pound, and her chest throbbed.
“Ask your mother – she slept with my father!”
Priscilla’s knees gave way in shock. She sat on the floor, the silk robe slid off her shoulder to the cold tiled ground “Tunde what are you saying?” She tried making sense from what she just heard “Tunde….”
“I give you till 12noon tomorrow, I don’t want to see you when I get back.” With that, he walked out of the flat slamming the door behind him.
The sound echoed in her head but it did nothing to erase what he just said. Her mother and Chief Ariyo? She began to pant, tears streaming down her face. Her mind was crowded and the ache in her heart hurt so badly she wailed in her tears. It did not matter how long she laid on the cold tiled floor weeping and waiting, hopeful that he would come. He never showed up even when she cried herself to sleep.

Safe Haven: Episode 20 CONTINUES HERE
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Shadows (Episodes 1-10)

Retelling The Christmas Tale

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SAFE HAVEN: Episode 18

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Tunde got out of the shower feeling refreshed as he wrapped the towel sarong wise on his hips. His body glistened with the humidity and he walked into the sun lit room. His gaze caught his wife, staring outside the window. She was beautiful, standing there with the light framing her pretty face. He smiled to himself still looking at her profile, whom was he kidding? He had fallen in love with this woman, a woman he may never grow to trust. The stabbing thought brought him back to reality, was this what he wanted? He was living with a woman whom he may never trust, with so many unspoken words between them.  He could start with something, a three-letter word. He opened his mouth to speak but he found himself unable to say what he wanted to say most in his heart.
“What are you staring at?”
Priscilla turned around in shock, “I didn’t hear you come out of the shower.”
He walked to the wardrobe pulling out a drawer; he picked his black underwear and slipped it on cautious of her gaze boring into his back. “Your mind has been far away these days.”
“There’s a lot to think about”. She looked at him: Like their future. Priscilla walked to him wrapping her arms around his waist. She placed a soft kiss on his back; he stiffened with response and turned to her placing a kiss on her temple.
“What’s with the hug?”
“Nothing” she whispered uncertainly “I believe it’s nothing.”
Tunde sighed, “You keep staring out of the window, is it because of the get together on Saturday?”
Priscilla bit her bottom lip anxiously, her mother’s last words echoed in her ears. She fought back tears and eased herself from his embrace trying not to feel guilty; she turned her attention to arranging the rumpled bed.
“Come on Priscilla, I think I know you well after these past months. There’s something on your mind.”
“It’s nothing” she replied pulling the edge of the bed sheet.
Tunde took of the towel laying it on the dressing table stool; he reached for his slacks with his mouth twisting in growing irritation. “We’ve been good since”, he continued, watching as Priscilla smoothened the big bed; finally she stopped and straightened up expelling a ragged breath.
“What’s wrong?”
She closed her eyes; her mouth was heavy with uncertain words. She wanted so desperately to say she was pregnant with him as the father, but she also had to believe it to remove the endless nagging that kept drumming behind her ears reminding of her failures. Her eyelids fluttered open, the room smelled of his bath soap.
Slowly she spun around to look at her husband: at his worried expression and she forced herself to smile. “I think…. I think…”
Tunde took a step towards his wife. “You think what?” he asked in an encouraging tone.
“I think I’m pregnant.” Priscilla replied in a small voice and watched him turn still.
“You’re pregnant?” he asked as if he could not understand what she said.
“I took a test and I went to the hospital and sat a while then he…”
He laughed. He was shaking. Tunde was shaking; Priscilla stared into his eyes trying to make sense of everything, his emotions. Tears brimmed round her eyes and she laughed too, they both laughed happily.
“You were mumbling” he clasped her head in his hands and placed a lingering kiss on her lips. A tear slipped from the corner of her eye: no, she was not happy. She was hurt watching him fall for something that was a fraud. Maybe, just maybe it was for the best. This would bring them together no matter how controversial it was, what mattered was only she and her mother knew until death.
She snaked her arms around him again and placed her cheek on his bare chest listening to his heartbeat and he said it, stroking her back closing his eyes, he said what she desperately wanted to hear.
“I love you Priscilla”
She stiffened and wanted to pull back but his arms tightened around her. He was ready, ready to give up everything to follow this woman his wife…and their baby. His baby, he closed his eyes placing his chin on her head “God, I love you”

***

The wind howled outside but the family did not mind. It was going to rain again for the third time. Everyone sat in the sitting room chatting but she felt left out as always, only this time, it was different. It was different because Tunde sat next to her with his arms around her bare arms enclosing her with his warmth. The family members stared questioningly at the message her husband was passing across.
Priscilla bent her head a little embarrassed. Demilade walked to where they sat and she sat by the stool beside Priscilla making her look up at her.
“Tunde, won’t you come and join us?” Demilade smiled coyly at him. The insult was clear enough and Priscilla felt him stiffen beside her.
“Priscilla and I were having a conversation”, Tunde replied with a disapproving gaze
“An actual conversation?” This time she looked at her. Her gaze ran coldly over Priscilla’s body.
“Hello Demilade”
“Hello”, she hissed back batting her fixed eyelashes at her in irritation. “Can I speak to my brother alone for a second?”
Priscilla got up without saying a word and walked to the other end of the room wondering for the first time where her mother was.
Tunde stared after his wife as she walked in those heels; he made a mental note to throw them away the moment the pregnancy began to show. He expelled a breath; he was already behaving like a paranoid father before even knowing the sex of the baby.
“Tunde…”
Yes?” Tunde replied looking at his sister, “I don’t like the way you spoke to Priscilla.”
Her face registered shock “I honestly didn’t know she had gotten this far under your skin.”
“You can’t just treat her that way Demi, she’s also human you know? She’s my wife too.”
“Now she’s your wife?”, she snickered. “Do you understand exactly what you are saying that the opportunist whom we had a mutual dislike for is now ‘your wife’?”
“Things have changed quite a lot since we last spoke but I don’t have to give you an update on who I like and don’t like. I’m just saying you should respect her a bit more that’s all.”
“Someone who seems to have gotten under your skin?” , she sounded perturbed.
“It’s our business Demi.” Tunde touched her hand lightly and she flinched in anger “Demi, let’s just see how things go.”
“Go? Is it not clear she is using you? Very soon she’d get pregnant in a bid to save herself and her mother, not the marriage.”
A cord struck in his heart and he looked down at his feet letting the aftermath of her words subside. Tunde sighed; his sister had every right to be worried. “I believe you shouldn’t worry yourself about things like that, whatever happens between Priscilla and I is our business from now on.”
She gave him an unflattering look. “Is she pregnant already Tunde?”
He didn’t reply and merely sipped his drink from the champagne glass, this time Demilade shook him with growing anger. “Tunde, is she pregnant already?” Her tone was cold.
He nodded and watched her expression darken with unconcealed rage. Demilade drew in a ragged breath trying to calm her anger “How could you let that happen Tunde? Do you understand what your marriage is all about or you have allowed her get under your skin just because she changed her wardrobe?”
He gave her a murderous look “Don’t talk like that, I know fully well what the situation around our marriage is, but it doesn’t mean we won’t welcome a child between us”, his eyes followed his wife’s mother when she stepped into the room. Tunde’s lips twitched cynically.
“What about Karen? Have you thought of her at all?”
He bent his head remorsefully at the thought of the woman whom he had loved once and bit his bottom lip not trusting himself to speak.
“Does she know?” Demilade pressed on. “Do you know how much this would affect her? She has waited for you for so long Tunde, how can you just toss her aside this way? Your wife could just be doing all this to sink her claws further into your pockets.”
“No”, he replied getting up. He had heard enough. “We are done having this discussion, Demilade.” With that, he drank what was left of the drink and walked away as her words hung down on his shoulders.
 
…PRISCILLA watched her mother walk up to where she stood waiting for her husband. She stopped to discuss with the celebrant and his wife. She had watched Tunde and Demilade talk, she could bet he told his sister about her pregnancy and obviously, the news did not go down well with her. Who could blame her? Who would believe she had fallen in love with him?
Her mother stopped in front of her, clutching her latest purse to the collection of purses she rarely used; she wanted to go home. Her mind was clucking, screaming for peace, it felt as usual like everyone was against her, each staring daggers at her.
“Good afternoon, mum.” Her tone was clipped.
“Good afternoon dear”, Her mother looked around smiling gaily at her surroundings, her eyes settled on Priscilla’s still flat stomach. “How is the baby?”
Priscilla drew in a frustrated breath “I am going to the hospital tomorrow.”
“That’s good news then.” The house cleaner passed with a tray of drinks in her hand and her mother took a glass lifting it to her lips.  “He doesn’t know anything, right?”
She let out a breath in exasperation “No mother, but I’m not doing it for any selfish reasons, it’s for Tunde and I.”
Sola gave her a look before she spoke with a daunting note. “Is that what you think? You think it’s for the both of you?” This time she laughed. “We both know you are scared of telling him, whether it’s for him or not. You are scared of the way he will react when he eventually hears about your little fling.”
Tears brimmed round Priscilla’s eyes but she managed to keep her head up as Sola spoke.
“I have lived too long on earth to be fooled by your martyr games. Your father did worse than you and I dealt with it Priscilla, so don’t play smart with me.” Sola placed a hand on her daughter’s pale skin “If you were so righteous then why you aren’t telling the truth, that you are not sure of who has the child growing inside you? You are a little coward, that’s what you are.”
Priscilla stared at her mother fighting back stubborn tears. “Mum”, her voice was forced and she shook her head at a loss for words. “Whatever I do now is for my marriage. I am tired of how you make everything into a game of power.”
Sola smiled at her in-laws who cared to throw a glance their way, they turned away without any remorse for being caught and she turned back to her companion with a faint smile plastered on her lips and a dangerous sparkle in her eyes. “Priscilla, everything is about power, it is power. Don’t you understand that all this is for you?” She had changed from a danger to sultry. “Think of what life you would have if I had not pushed you into this- which you are clearly benefitting from.”
“At least, Ima is happy where she is”, Priscilla bit back, satisfied with the darkened expression on her mother’s face. “She has no one calling over her shoulder telling her what to do.”
Her mother forced a sardonic smile and walked away towards the open patio. Priscilla’s eyes found her husband is inquiring gaze and she looked away not having the strength to smile.
“Time for dinner everyone!”
People walked towards the dining room at the sound of Mrs Ariyo’s cheerful tone, she followed suit and Tunde came up behind her hooking his arm into hers.
“What’s wrong?”
“What?” she looked at him feigning ignorance
“I noticed the conversation with your mother didn’t go down so well.” Tunde gently rubbed her back whispering into her ear. She shivered a bit with his soft warm breath next to her “Is something the matter?”
“No, nothing” They both knew she was terse but he pressed on no longer and she was grateful for his silent understanding. Everyone was seated around the long glass table when they arrived. She could feel their cold gaze on her; it always made her cringe under their scrutiny.
Four seats were empty, almost in the centre of the table, which was already filled with dishes of different delicacies and cutlery.  Tunde pulled the chair out for her and she lowered herself into it slowly while he sat on the one next to her.
The remaining two seats remained vacant and Mrs Ariyo began to bless the meal while everyone closed their eyes except for her, Priscilla’s eyes burned open as her mind refused to stay calm. At last, they opened their eyes at the close of the short prayer. The food was served and chattering grew louder.
“So, when is Karen arriving?” Chief Ariyo asked as his wife poured spoons of rice into a plate for him, he poured red wine into his glass and sipped.
“She said she was almost here, thirty minutes ago.”
Priscilla looked down at her empty plate feeling tense, Tunde patted her knee under the table in understanding, and she looked up again at the two empty seats opposite her.
“I heard from Yinka a few days ago.”
Mrs Ariyo looked up at the mention of her youngest born “He called this morning wishing your father a happy birthday; he’s doing great in Amsterdam.”
Tunde nodded “It’s getting cold by this time of the year, I would have thought he would come back by now”, he served his wife absent mindedly feeling cool gazes settle on the both of them,  her head was bent again, she was embarrassed. His mind went to the night before, the way she had hung close to him after throes of passion, he shook himself mentally.
“Priscilla…Priscilla…”
Her head snapped up with all eyes pierced at her, her mother smiled at her with a malicious tinge in her eyes “Yes mum?” she choked in a small voice, her head reeled a little.
“I said you were looking pale today.”
She stared at her mother and then everyone in the room, she knew the game she played to form the concerned mother “Yes, I’m not feeling so well.”
“You didn’t say that at home”, Tunde remarked looking at her with concern.
“It’s nothing serious” Priscilla replied hastily “I haven’t eaten much today” she picked up a spoon and painfully swallowed a little of the jollof rice Tunde poured out for her, she heard Demi grunt irritated. Priscilla forced herself to swallow another spoon lost in her own world amidst the chattering round the table.
The chattering continued as dishes where passed along on the long table but she was lost in her own dilemma, each time she looked at him, the guilt seemed to swallow her up some more. She knew there would always be that little voice behind her telling her the child was not his.
“Karen!”
Priscilla looked up at the sound of Chief Ariyo’s voice. The woman walked towards the table with a lazy smile plastered on her face. She wore a green bandage dress, knee length and a little too much make up for the occasion.
Everyone at the table greeted her as she walked up to Tunde’s father with a pocket-sized parcel in her pink tipped fingers.
“Thank you”, he replied cheerfully staring at the gift. He placed the gift on the table and Karen walked to an empty seat opposite Tunde, everyone studied them and it was clear. Priscilla swallowed a muffled sound, was that for her? Was it a sign from God that she had lost him from her mistake?
“Hello, Tunde” Karen smiled and him, a seductive little smile, “And your wife”
“Karen”, he replied, his tone was smooth. “I had no idea you would show up”
“Why?” her mother-in-law cut in, “Karen is as much a member of the family as you are.”
Priscilla’s eyes met her mother’s, who had a hooded expression on her face.
“Where is your escort by the way?”
She cut a piece of the steak “He had some calls to make outside” she replied staring at Tunde “He would soon be joining us.”
Priscilla almost fainted, feeling the tension between the three of them. It was clear the woman wanted him; she had made no effort to hide it at all.
“So this man”, Demilade said after a second of silence “Is he serious?”
Karen smiled and her eyes met Priscilla “I believe he has someone already.”
Priscilla felt a cold shiver down her spine for some odd reason; she cut a piece of her steak. Tunde had grown still beside her and she tried not to conclude on the obvious reason, he had said he loved her! The steak was hard to swallow; he had shown so much love to her. Were things falling apart because of her little secret?
Tunde cleared his throat “I’m glad to know you are good Karen, we haven’t spoken in ages.”
“Whose fault is it?” Karen asked, softly
All eyes turned to Priscilla, and her cheeks turned warm. “I’m not against Tunde maintaining his friendship with anyone”, the words rolled out of her lips before she could stop them. “Not that I have a right to”, she added, hastily.
“But that is the reason he has been so cold lately”, Karen replied with a coy smile. “Tunde and I have been close” she emphasized the word “for a very long time and I know him better than anyone would.”
Priscilla smiled “So why didn’t you marry since it’s obvious you would still like to be close?” she returned the other woman’s smile “I believe still trying to get close to a married man is just distasteful or don’t you agree?”
Karen’s lips thinned in response.
“I will not have you two taking jibes at each other on my dinner table”, Chief Ariyo cut in sharply.
“I believe Sola, that at least you would have taught your daughter to bridle her tongue.”
Her mother eyed her sharply and looked at her father-in-law with a smile plastered on her lips.
“Priscilla has had a little too much on her plate considering she has been under a lot of pressure lately”
“What pressure might that be?”, Demilade asked mockingly “I think its Tunde that has given her a lot of courage to speak in that manner. It’s unbecoming.”
“We shouldn’t judge her” , Karen replied sweetly “I may have overstepped my boundaries”
“By saying what?”, Demilade retorted and looked at Tunde “look at what your wife, she has become… Tunde and it’s your fault”
“I swear if I hear one more word coming from you again I’ll…”
“Richard!”
The room went quiet and the whole family looked at the guest. Priscilla looked up and her face turned white in shock.
Karen got up and smiled looking at her, their eyes clashed and small tremors of fear and shock began to race in her heart.
“This is Richard, a close friend of mine.”
Their eyes clashed at the knowing glint in Karen’s eyes.
Priscilla fainted.

Safe Haven: Episode 19 continues 2nd, Jan, 2016 😀  
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 Oyindamola Dosunmu 😀 😉 

Shadows (Episodes 1-10)

Retelling The Christmas Tale

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