NIMI PETERS – Grace Ochigbo
EPISODE TWENTY TWO
Lauren walked through the opened door of one of the presidential suites of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja. The two men carrying her bags closed the door gently behind her as they followed into the expansive room. There’s always this special touch to any service in Nigeria, especially to someone with another skin colour.
She threw her handbag onto the beautifully laid bed and crashed into it. The men dropped her bags and disappeared immediately. Lauren stretched towards her handbag and drew her tablet closer. She’s had this delay in her flight and at a point was afraid of not making it down to Nigeria before her meeting tomorrow. Disappointing followers and fans would be one of the major things she hated to do most, and getting reports about arrival into Abuja from several women from all over the country within the past few days made her felt much more nervous. She had wished to come earlier. Coming earlier would make her do the things she had set out to do before the meeting. Mark had almost shed a tear when she went to bid him farewell. The shrink is so emotional and dramatic, if you asked her. He urged to go in the first place, right? Why the emotions? It’s worse now that he knows she was coming to Nigeria, first and foremost, for those women and most importantly, to confront her fears.
The doorbell chimed and she answered. The door opened gently to present a corporately dressed waiter smiling sweetly at her. If there was anything she misses about Nigerians and Nigeria, it was their hospitality.
“You are welcome to Transcorp Hilton, madam. We assure you of the best comfort ever in the beautiful federal capital territory of our great country, Nigeria. We would love to take down your schedules ma’am, so as not to interrupt your privacy!”
Lauren smiled. Her blonde face showing some pinkish blushes. She needed that privacy part indeed… much more.
“I’d want some fruits and juice stock in this refrigerator in few minutes after which no one must knock at my door until I ring the reception.”
“Few minutes it is, madam!” The waitress rapped and left hurriedly.
Lauren took in a deep breath. She needed to sleep and sleep she shall. She glanced through her mailbox to see several messages and she opened first the message from one of her most faithful followers. That’s the truth, because Mrs Ojima Peters has not just been a fan from afar, they’ve had to send personal messages via emails and they couldn’t wait to meet with each other tomorrow morning.
“Believe you had a safe flight down to Nigeria yesterday, Lauren. I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow.” Lauren smiled as she read the message out loud. Some followers can actually make one feel even more special than usual.
She thought to reply but then she just remembered something. She dropped her tablet and picked up one of her cell phones. Searching through her phone she seemed to be searching for a number unreachable. Her heart raced mercilessly.
“Lauren, should we do this?” She asked herself aloud.
She had planned to do this for a long time now, how her courage just got drowned beats her imagination. She stared at the screen of her phone again for what seemed like forever. She swallowed and touched the dial icon. Setting the phone beside her, she waited for it to ring.
“But you know all these loud headphones and music would damage your ears, right?”
“Yes doctor!” Ojonugwa replied sarcastically, dropping the headphone beside his laptop as his mother took her seat smiling.
“You never take anything serious in your life, do you?”
“Except my newly found best friend and the rap challenge we set for ourselves. Mum, can you believe this?” he sat up, all excited, “…we are presenting together at the UniAbuja SUG social night!”
His mother couldn’t exactly place what was so exciting about rap music.
“I hope you are reading your books as well? Or we should just take you to a music school las las?” She raised her right eyebrow and lowered the other one, displaying her most serious gesture.
Ojonugwa laughed out at his mother’s usual ‘killjoy’ expression. “Music is a medicine of the soul, old woman, much more when it’s rap? Ahhh! That one is what scientists will call S.A. node of the heart.”
Ojima Peters hissed dryly and sat in. “Who is driving me to Transcorp Hilton tomorrow o? You will probably be rushing out for school… well, it’s Saturday, that notwithstanding, your brother Nimi is nowhere to be found these days.” She paused and beckoned on him. “Come… Is this how you both live in this house? Without seeing each other for days?”
“Your son is the general manager at Crestac, old woman. That’s the real spelling of busy-ness. Well, that’s aside the fact that he has a lot more things to deal with.”
Ojima sat up, all attentive. “Ehen… I knew it. Something keeps telling me that Nimi isn’t perfectly OK. He’s been trying hard to behave normal since I came in here, but he forgets the acts sometimes. I see what looks like a deliberate attempt at avoiding me too at times. And at other times, it feels like he’s so lost in a world of his own while at the dining table.”
Ojonugwa chuckled. “Mama, na you know that one o. All these grammar for big bro? My brother is a strong man. I mean, it’s only a strong man that drags wife with his boss nau, right?”
“Drags wife with his boss? How do you mean?” She sounded so curious.
Ojonugwa sat up correctly now as he was ready to download all the gossips he had gathered over time about his brother – from Nimi himself, when talking with bro Eddy sometimes, from blogs and gossips sites and every other unknown ways he gathers his information.
Mr Johnson walked to the veranda of the fifth floor of his mansion. The noise coming from the gate was terrible and the surveillance cameras in his room showed all those. The young man outside was raining thunder, brimstone and limestone down, threatening to pull down the iron gate with his bare hands. When he is not using Igbira magic? Mr Johnson said to himself.
“What do we do, boss?” One of his terrible looking bodyguards asked from behind him, startling him in the first instance.
“Let him in!”
“Boss?” The young man didn’t sound convinced.
“I said let him in, stupid!” He roared this time and that threw the man out of the veranda.
Mr Johnson knew his house was public attraction in Abuja and whatever the score was would better and rather be settled amicably in the comfort of his sitting room. It’s safer to have a young man he disliked with all his being sit on one of his expensive couches than to draw unnecessary attention from the press.
The guard that went out led the way in and Tolu followed after him. He looked even more haggard than the last time Mr Johnson had seen him and rage burned on the inside of the latter. All he could see was not someone after his daughter, instead, someone he would throw into jail over and again if given the opportunity. In fact, he would probably throw the keys to his cell room in the Atlantic.
“Sit!” Mr Johnson ordered as he walked into the large sitting room. The guard stood fixed at the door and so did the remaining four in the room take their proper position.
“I’m OK here!” Tolu retorted, trying to mask the discomfort he felt in the midst of heavily armed, fiercely looking men.
“I insist you take your seat, young man!”
“I said I’m fine here, Mr Johnson. I demand for my son… now!”
Sweat streamed off Mr Johnson’s face immediately as alarmed rang in his head. He suddenly felt his knees clamping against each other and of course he signalled the other men out of the room. He waited patiently till they were all gone before moving few inches closer to the raging Tolu.
“What are you talking about, you bastard?” He made sure to maintain intimidating eye contact as they were roughly same height.
“You made the doctor terminate that child and paid them to tell everyone else that the child was dead. You will rot behind the bars by the time I’m done pressing this case. Giving me back my son is in your best interest.”
Mr Johnson tried to shush him. He was yelling at the top of his lungs and that wasn’t good. He really hoped none of the house staff was in the house at all or anywhere close to the sitting room. Joelyn had finally left the country after the last talk with her father. She said she wanted to cool her head. Mr Johnson saw the squinting eyeballs in Tolu’s orbits, they were bright red, so red, they could stain a black linen. His hand was rolled into a fist and his chest moved in and out in rapid succession.
Was it little fear Mr Johnson just felt? He hoped not. He’s more concern about his proposed wedding plans in Dubai, two weeks from now, than anything else at the moment.
“What do you want, young man? Money, a trip abroad, business setup, a big house in Maitama, Asokoro, Lekki, VI? Mention it. What the heck do you want from me?” Mr Johnson said amidst clenched teeth, bringing his body so close to Tolu’s that there was barely a distance.
Tolu kept a straight face. He felt intimidated and afraid, yeah! But he mustn’t show that now. Whichever way, whether he be killed here or not, his life has always been at stake. Chief Ogbonna would not spare him if he doesn’t make the agreement this time. He had wondered over and again why Chief Ogbonna chose him to undertake an assignment with huge benefits such as this.
Tolu returned Mr Johnson’s stare with a more wicked one.
“I want my wife and my son!”
That set Mr Johnson on a long trail of laughter that ended up scaring the living daylight more out of Tolu. What was funny? He stopped, stared back at Tolu, and thankfully, his eyes didn’t carry guns.
“Wife? Apart from sneaking around with my daughter and corrupting her precious soul for me, I can’t remember you coming to marry from the Johnson’s family – the only Johnson’s family there is, another one is a counterfeit. You don’t even have as low as just a single thing it takes to marry from the Johnson’s. Secondly, about your son, I know Ike put you up to this, but believe me young man, you will not come out of this alive. I can promise you that?”
“I don’t care about my life anymore. Give me back my son!” Tolu yelled so loudly that the guards appeared back in the sitting room, pointing guns.
That boosted Mr Johnson’s confidence and he started chuckling wickedly. He walked slowly round Tolu and the young man could hear his own heartbeat.
“Ike? How childish could he be to have sent a young warm-blooded, fidgeting, good for nothing, hopeless lad like you after me?” Mr Johnson said slowly, still walking with Tolu in the centre of his circle. “You appear to me like my dog’s favourite meat. I can kill you here and give your remains to them and your memory would be completely wiped out from planet earth, you know?” He was holding onto Tolu’s chin at this point and the young man’s back dripped with sweat, gushing from all parts of his body. Mr Johnson signalled one of his guards who then handed him a pistol. Forcing Tolu’s mouth open, he pushed the black piece through his mouth. Tolu felt like throwing up but he should be strong, right? He was ready for anything at this point.
“Next time Ike sets you off into my farm like a fox set on fire, that’s if there will ever be a next time, you would sit back and consider the danger and consequences of going armless into a lion’s den. Because, I am a lion, and no one messes around with me.” Mr Johnson roared with his hand firmly gripping the trigger.
Tolu stood still, praying in his head. In split seconds, memories of his life flashed through his head. How his grandmother told him he was abandoned by his mother who followed some ‘money-bag’ man abroad. He had since that discovery lived in bitterness and depression and that thereafter took him to the streets. He loves his grandmother, she’s everything he ever had, but the pain of an abandoned child was as traumatic as it was ruining. He had these intentions of revenging, even when he doesn’t know who he should normally be revenging against. It couldn’t have been his greedy and selfish mother, because they haven’t seen nor heard from her ever since she left.
With this gun in his mouth, however, and being just few centimetres away from the land beyond, he realised he had wasted his life chasing shadows of revenge instead of investing into things that would have made his grandmother, the only person he cared about the most, happy.
But then, it’s too late now!
“We are going to Ike’s place. I would love to drill this black piece down your throat and spill your useless blood before him. And I must warn you to cooperate. Any shady attempt on our way there will necessitate you losing your life earlier than I planned it. Am I clear?”
Tolu nodded in the affirmative as a guard put his hands in cuffs before leading him out through the door.
“Good morning, madam!”
Fiyin jerked back involuntarily as this voice startled her.
“When did you get in here?” Confusion was spelt out clearly in her voice and seen on her face.
The house staff with a bowed head felt frightened. “I’m sorry, madam! I’ve been knocking for long and when you didn’t respond, I turned down the doorknob and fortunately it opened. I stood at the door for a while too as you seem deep in thoughts while glancing at the city through the window. I decided to greet you, madam. I’m very sorry!”
Fiyin smiled in spite of herself. Chief and her mother insisted on house staff. They have become even too numerous for her to recognise, from cleaners, to cooks, to gardeners, then her driver and all. This is the exact life her mother has most wished for her but she wasn’t really fitting in. She would probably have to get used to it though because now that she had said ‘yes’ to chief, it was more or less a ticket into affluence and influence.
“What do you want?” she asked the staff kindly and that sort of offset the initial fear.
“Someone is here to see you madam, in the sitting room.”
“Someone?” Fiyin asked no one in particular. “Alright, I’ll be down there soon.” She dismissed the staff and hoped that it wasn’t any member of the press.
Chief had suggested a quiet wedding in Dubai in two weeks’ time after which they could do the big one if she was still interested. Plans are already on ground and trust her mother, she’s taken it as her job to buy everything money can buy. Fiyin didn’t know if she wanted a high society wedding herself, it’s bad enough she has to marry someone old enough to be her father. As much as possible, they want to keep the marriage thing away from the press, but how those ‘pock-nosers’ get to hear things said in the bedroom beats her imagination.
She sluggishly reached for a gown hanging down her chair and wore it over the shorts and tank top she’s been wearing the whole time. God help that journalist when she gets downstairs.
“Don’t you people know how to mind your business? …” she started ranting midway down the stairs but stopped and almost fell off seeing who it was. “You?”
“Good morning, Fiyinfoluwa…”
“Goo…Good… good morning… Ojonimi, what… what… what are you doing here so early?” Fiyin stammered.
Nimi carried no visible expression on his face and that worried her even more. She waited and waited and waited. Finally, Nimi’s lips shook, he probably wanted to begin talking now and her heart raced in anticipation.
“I love you, Fiyinfoluwa!” He said this slowly.
Fiyin felt like dropping onto the floor. Did he just say those words she had always been aching to hear? Why did he take so long? Why did he wait till she accepted chief to say this?
“Why Ojonimi?” She voiced out her thoughts before she could stop herself.
Nimi stepped forward to grab her both hands while looking straight in her glistering eyeballs. Fiyin has added some weight and her skin shone as bright as seraph. The superfluous money was beginning to show on her body already, he thought.
“Why? Why what, Fiyinfoluwa?”
A tear rolled down Fiyin’s face to her lips and she slowly licked it up. Nimi caught himself taking his eyes away quickly. He already felt like drawing her closer and planting kisses all over her body till her members agree with the gushing feelings he has for her. He can’t keep it locked down anymore.
“I’m sorry, Fiyinfoluwa. I was having issues with myself and I didn’t want to get things complicated with you. I wanted to take it slow. I wanted to be sure of the feelings I had for you. The feeling was unsettling. Living in my house for those weeks I felt so complete, I felt like the hole Atim dug in my heart was completely filled up. I felt like I’ve found the one, Fiyinfoluwa.” He paused and swallowed painfully, “…I was a coward, baby. For the first time in my life I wasn’t man enough. I let fear take over the better of me. I feared being shattered again. I feared this thing called love. I’m sorry it took me till now to voice out Fiyinfoluwa…”
Fiyin withdrew her hand quickly and turned away. “It’s too late, Ojonimi!” Her tears were pouring helplessly.
Nimi took in a deep breath and walked to come stand in front of her again. He held onto her chin, pulling her eyes to face him. Her face was wet with tears and sweat. He couldn’t understand a thing about the state of her heart right now.
“How do you mean too late, Fiyinfoluwa. You know we are made for each other. Don’t you even see how much we look alike? You know this. I’m sorry if I pushed you away and gave wrong impressions all the times you showed me your emotions. I was only trying to be a man… damnit!!” he punched the wall behind them and that startled Fiyin. “I love you, fiyinfoluwa. I want you to be the mother of my kids.”
Fiyin swallowed again. “I’ll be getting married in two weeks. To chief!” She gasped her few words and watched as blood drained off Nimi’s face immediately. He looked at her like he suddenly wasn’t in control of his eye muscles anymore.
“I’m sorry, Ojonimi. I waited for you till I could wait no longer.”
The wall behind them received another punch, so hard one would think Nimi’s hand was going to shatter in pieces. But no, he didn’t feel any pain. No pain was greater than what he just learnt about now.
He turned to Fiyin again… “so … so … you will.. you will marry Mr Johnson? Fiyinfoluwa, look at me. You will?” He stammered helplessly as a tear dropped his face. He didn’t care about wiping it away or not. He needed her to respond to him and his eyes begged her to say something other than her initial statement.
“I’m sorry, Ojonimi… I…” Fiyin started with her eyes shut.
Just then, she heard the door open and jam hardly and that opened her eyes.
Nimi was gone!
“Oh God!” She screamed out in pain and fell onto the tiled floor as tears blinded her vision. Fiyin pounded the hard floor underneath her. She hissed a breath through clenched teeth. But the strength left her, even as she attempted to stand. Her throat held back something between a sob and a shout.
“You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself, daughter!”
Fiyin rose red eyes as her mother’s voice approached her and suddenly felt anger streaming down the entirety of her.
“Oh! You were eavesdropping, màami? May I remind you that you are the cause of all this? Leave me alone, màami. I don’t want to talk to you!” She yelled out her frustration.
Her mother shook and bent down slowly, but Fiyin snapped out in a hurry, so much so that the older woman’s hand almost slapped her own face.
“Let me be, màami!” Fiyin yelled at the top of her lungs, staggered to her feet and hurried upstairs.
Her mother blinked as she heard the door upstairs close hard. Taking a deep breath, she collapsed into one of the cushions like a sack of potatoes.
Fiyin reached for her phone immediately she was sure the door had locked properly. It was a mixture of sadness and rage, so strong it can clear anyone off her way. She probably should call Nimi, or Edward? She wasn’t even sure of what’s right to do.
“Eight missed calls?” she hissed dryly.
Opening her call log, she saw the callers. Two from her husband-to-be, another one from Deji and the remaining from an unknown number not stored on her device. She worried that someone would call her continuously like that and so decided to call back. She was on the verge of that when she saw her message icon blink. Clicking on it, she saw a message from that same unknown number and her curiosity heightened as she opened it.
The message opened and brought her into the greatest shocker of her life, yet.
To be continued on Monday.
Hey lovelies, God bless you all.