Fred’s mind woke up first.
He was conscious that he was lying down; he could recall deep seated terror scalding his heart, but he couldn’t decide if it had been a dream or not.
His brow furrowed, the bed actually felt cool, soft and comfortable; he wouldn’t be on such comfort if he was ever in danger, he probably had gotten roaring drunk and had an almost realistic nightmare.
With this explanation to himself, Fred tried to turn his torso on the bed and felt intense pain in his joints. He frowned again, wondering why his body hurt so much and then, with a mental shrug, he assumed in his drunkenness he must have slept in a bad position.
Fred refused to worry that the pain was more than a wrong sleep position could have caused, his mind was at peace and he never wanted to go back to the underlying terror just waiting in the periphery of his mind, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice.
Whatever it is he wasn’t remembering, it obviously was worth forgetting.
Valiantly, he fought the cobwebs of unconsciousness and fluttered his eyes open. He was lying supine, so his eyes first saw the peeling paints of the ceiling.
That isn’t right, he thought groggily, he had a memory of waking up in the same position every morning and the sight of his ceiling, intricately designed and painted an off white hue, which always left him grateful to be awake. This wasn’t his ceiling he decided.
And if it wasn’t his ceiling, who’s was it?
In that moment, he decided to turn his neck to the right, since his peripheral vision showed that his left side was a greenish wall.
“Oh, sweet, loving Jesus!” he squealed at the sight before him, in a voice that was a hysterical shriek.
EMMA LAUGHED SO HARD she peed her pants.
At first, she had disagreed with her uncle’s plan to scare Fred the moment he woke, but, at her uncle’s insistence, just like her mother, his sister, she had sighed and gave up trying.
She hadn’t even wanted to know what her uncle was about, but, her ingrained mischievous side had made her sidle up to the room she’d managed to get Fred. Peeping through the slightly open door, she was in time to see Fred turn groggily and his subsequent scream. She hadn’t seen her uncle then, but at Fred’s scream, she had shifted forward curiously and the sight of her uncle had made her laugh so hard, she was now very sure she had peed her pant.
Her uncle had taken the simple prank she had assumed to another level. Now she knew what the white native chalk he had bought was for; he had melted the native chalk and painted himself like a herbalist would.
Emma was humorously shocked to find her uncle sitting there calmly, intricate white designs on his dark skin and only a wrapper around his waist; he made a very imposing native doctor and she was sure Fred was scared out of his mind.
Uncle Ette had been right, Fred did deserve to be shaken a bit; after all, he had ignored her all this time and that had to surely nullify the feelings they’d shared.
SENIOR AGENT ETTE STARED at the young man on the narrow bed from his comfortable chair paces away from the bed. He’d been tempted to laugh at the boy’s obvious fear, but the satisfaction of having some authority on someone, after a quite a long time, made him take the prank just a nudge higher.
It wasn’t his fault, even his niece hadn’t been scared of him since she was ten years old. That this obviously, rich young man looked terrified at him, it was a high he wasn’t ready to let go just yet; plus, there was the boy’s decision about his niece’s pregnancy.
He was convinced Emma loved the boy even though she’d scoffed at the notion when he’d asked her. And he was also convinced that she would be better off hooking with the boy at the long run, he was from a wealthy home after all.
Clearing his throat, quite loudly and dramatically, like the herbalists depicted in Nollywood movies, he tried not to laugh as the boy, Fred, shifted precariously close to the edge of the other side of the bed.
“So, you are the one that impregnated my niece,” senior agent Ette made it a statement, he wasn’t asking.
At that moment, the terror at the periphery of Fred’s mind crashed through his meager resistance and he instantly recalled all that had happened the whole day. He recalled hitting his leg and falling and then now.
Obviously this was the next plan Mike Okpo had prepared for him. Fred couldn’t understand why…
“You know Emma, don’t you?” Ette asked calmly, he had seen the confused terror in the boy’s eyes, he could read him concisely, after all, he had been a good agent once and right now, those skills seemed to be trickling back into him.
Fred instantly felt suspicious and it showed in his eyes, if he agreed he knew Emma, they might try to hurt her. Oh God, Emma, he thought regretfully, he had wanted to make amends today, but the whole day had been against him.
At the sight of the boy, Ette knew something had happened to him, he would get to that soon enough, but first, he had to solidify his niece’s and grand niece or nephew’s future.
“Well, Emma knows you and identifies you as the one that impregnated her. So, I believe the gods led you here today, whether you answer my questions or not, it makes no difference. You impregnated her and you will bear the consequences…”
“You are really her…”
“Uncle,” Ette supplied, noticing Fred’s shaky tone.
Fred nodded eagerly, “Yes, uncle…so this is number 27, Eka street?” he asked hopefully.
“Yes, she has told me you’ve dropped her off a lot of times.”
“Fred sighed in relief, “But she said you are kind of like a cop,” he frowned again.
“This part of me is a family secret,” Ette replied and stood, waving his hand to indicate to Fred to get to his feet.
“So…so, this isn’t another of Mike Okpo’s evil plan?” his eyes shone with a healthy dose of fear.
Senior agent Ette’s breathe caught in his throat; how did Fred know about Mike Okpo and apparently, the old fox must have been involved in whatever had happened to him today.
But, not to be swayed from his main aim, he kept a bland expression and shook his head, “No, this isn’t Mike Okpo’s evil plan, but this isn’t going to be easy either. You have to swear on my gods that you won’t ever run away from Emma and the baby.”
Fred’s heart tripped and beat faster. “Sir, there is no need for that, you see, I was coming to make amends with Emma today but I got into…anyway, I’m here now, I can explain everything. I don’t need to swear on – on gods, I’m not going anyway,” he swallowed none existent saliva and hoped he had gotten through to the diabolical uncle.
“You sound convincing…”
“Yes,” Fred nodded hopefully, having gotten to his feet, leaning on the wall since he was still weak.
“…but, you still have to swear.”
“But, sir, I’m a Christian,” Fred pleaded, suddenly concerned about his immortal soul, something he’d never bothered about.
“Don’t worry, it’s quite simple and it won’t affect your Christianity,” Ette replied calmly.
Fred swallowed in trepidation and followed the man to the backyard; he could recall jumping the low fence from the road. Who would have thought that he was in Emma’s house? If he hadn’t fallen and passed out, he probably would have found out about Emma and talked to her without involving her uncle.
But on second thought, Fred knew that it would have been impossible to avoid the diabolical uncle, there was a baby involved, and his heart tripped again, he was going to be a father. With the baby’s involvement, both families had to meet at some point, it was inevitable.
“Stand here,” Ette said to Fred and pointed to a spot at the edge of the cement covering the drainage. He made sure that Fred stood at the exact spot he’d asked him to, he wanted him to feel that where he stood was part of the ritual swearing.
When he was satisfied, he walked away and Fred stared after him, at a corner of the cluttered backyard, Ette opened a mini poultry…a small cage, the action caused a flurry of movements and croaks from the chickens, and he extracted two big eggs, closed the cage and returned to Fred.
Ette cleared his throat and began uttering some gibberish that sounded like incantations. It made Fred so nervous and afraid, he felt like he was about to pee his pants.
The older man refused to look at Fred because if he did, he would forget his aim and laugh his head off. He continued his gibberish, barely even managing to hold his laugh; just so he wouldn’t have to look at Fred’s face, he quickened the whole process…
He pointed the eggs, one at a time, where Fred stood. With the eggs, he made circular motions that encompassed the approximation of Fred’s whole body, then he whispered more gibberish to the eggs before viciously smashing them on the ground.
“Let’s go inside,” Ette commanded urgently.
Fred started, pausing only for a second before jerking into action and retracing his steps into the house. He was glad he didn’t have to swear to anything, but he was worried that not swearing could be worse.
“So- so what did you do?” he stammered out the question.
“I called two of my ancestors to you, especially my grand mother, she was the one that passed these powers to me, if ever you consider harming Emma or her child, you’ll see what you see,” Ette replied quite calmly and showed him to the sitting room.
“Wait for me here,” he directed and went into his room to clean up.
Fred was afraid; he knew he would not harm Emma in any way, in fact, he seemed to have gotten used to the idea of a child. How could he convince the diabolical uncle that there was no need for the gods to be brought into this issue?
HE HAD NOT PREPARED himself for the effect of seeing Emma again after many months.
The rate at which his heart was beating, it seemed to surpass when he’d been scared of being caught by the cops or the cult group. His throat was slowly choking on the deluge of emotion flooding him at that moment.
Staring at Emma as she regally breezed into the sitting room, he realized that she had gotten more beautiful. He had always imagined that women got really bloated and ugly when they were pregnant, but Emma…she defied that assumption.
Her body looked rounder, her stomach was definitely protruding, but in a, surprisingly, sexy kind of way. His hands itched to caress her skin, he so wanted to find out if it was as soft as it looked from where he sat. Her chocolate complexion seemed to have gotten lighter and with her naturally long hair piled at the top of her head in an onion bun, and a short, house dress, she cut a picture of a very adorable child.
And Fred wanted nothing else but to hug her tightly. He wanted to feel her breath in his ears and inhale her familiar, alluring scent and feel the softness of her body, and rub her stomach where his child grew and…Fred just wanted to carry her to his house, to his room and lie with her in his arms all night and all day.
But he couldn’t say this to her…he didn’t know what to say to her, he just stared at her, following her progress into the sitting room with his mouth open.
She smiled at him as she settled on a sit far from where he sat, “Speechless again, Fred?” she asked sarcastically but in her characteristic husky voice. And even though she didn’t sound happy with him, the voice made his stomach heat up and somersault.
Fred swallowed with some difficulty, he couldn’t let his silence come between them again. He took a deep breath and scooted to the edge of the sofa.
“I…” he had planned and practiced what he’d wanted to say to her, but now that he was in front of Emma, all he had to say seemed so paltry; he had wronged her exponentially and he wasn’t sure if she’d ever forgive him. As it were, he wasn’t planning on forgiving himself and he would do everything in his power to make it right with Emma, that is, if he managed to find his voice.
“I am very sorry, Emma,” he managed to croak in a whisper. Fred couldn’t look at her as he tried to put his feelings into words, rather, he looked down at his dirty, bare foot and part of his torn underwear, hanging from his shoulders and over a side of his jean.
“Fear paralyzed me. I know it is a cowardly thing to say, but there it is, I’m a coward, I’ve always been a coward. I only made it seemed cool by saying that I wasn’t really into responsibilities.”
“I’ve had responsibilities all my life, I had to take care of my late brother when our mother died and our dad had to sometimes sleep at the office just so he could save his company from crashing. But when my brother died, I felt like I failed him…like I had abandoned him.”
“And so, I reasoned, that if I hadn’t been faced with such heavy responsibilities as a kid, I wouldn’t have felt like escaping into my studies to dodge it; I used the excuse of someday inheriting my father’s company to bury myself in studies and schools. And in my sorrow at losing a brother, I just, unreasonably, began looking at responsibilities as a bad thing.”
“It is a terrible way to think, I know, but it helped keep the oppressing sadness away; the choking guilt that I am alive and he isn’t, that he inherited our mother’s faulty DNA and I just keep having it good…” he choked on his tears and tried to breath through it, Fred grabbed his nose to reduce the effect of heat from his nose, a common reaction when one cried.
He continued taking slow, deep breaths until the danger of crying passed. “I felt guilty that I’ve had good health and he had to suffer through sicknesses from birth. I grew up but he didn’t get the chance; possibly, our father would have also made a place for him at the company, now, I have to handle it by myself and I don’t like it.”
“Why should I have it all? He was my biological brother, at least, we should have shared both the good and bad DNA and nobody would have to die…
“I’m sorry, Emma, I’m digressing from the point…”
“So, you noticed,” Emma murmured in quiet sarcasm.
“I’m just trying to say, Emma, is that I have issues that make me make wrong choices sometimes and it has affected my thinking for a long time and that…” Fred sighed heavily.
“What I did to you was wrong,” he finally culminated and looked up with a regretful look.
Emma shook her head and looked away from his woebegone expression; she also felt like crying, the pain present in his eyes and his words, was like a punch to her sternum. This was the very first time Fred was really revealing himself to her, and he seemed to have damned the fact that the revelation would make him appear less cool.
“What you did with me wasn’t wrong. In fact, it was an awesome revelation, something I would love to try again, but not necessarily with you. What you didn’t do, on the other hand, when I informed you of the consequences of our actions, is what is wrong, Fred.”
“Yes, I get it that you had a traumatic event in your life, but guess what, so did I, but I didn’t let it rule my life. Like I mentioned countless times when we were frolicking, you only had the luxury of shirking your responsibilities because your father is wealthy. If he wasn’t and you had to hustle for your livelihood, responsibilities would be your code word.”
“I remember that conversation,” Fred said in a whisper and then looked up and met her eyes.
Both stared at each other, recalling that Fred’s reply to that observation had been a deep, toe curling kiss and a throaty comment of being lucky to be wealthy. And then the kiss had intensified into one of their steamy erotic sessions.
Emma looked away first and sniffed, she was angry with herself for even remotely recalling that conversation and what had followed. She should be letting Fred go; she wanted to let Fred go and so, in that vein, she sat forward with a stern expression.
“Whatever,” she snapped, effectively breaking the moment, “The point is, I know my uncle has scared you into wanting to do the right thing,” she said ‘right thing’ with a sneer and air parenthesis.
“…but it makes no difference. I’m not interested in what the right thing is, I love my baby and will have it. If I have to struggle to feed it, no problem at all, because that’s what mother’s do, they take responsibility for their offsprings.”
“What I’m trying to say here is, Fred, you don’t need to force yourself to do what you don’t want to do; as of the moment I announced this pregnancy and you went speechless, you were off the hook.”
Emma got up after her last sentence and walked away, once again leaving Fred speechless.
He wanted to call her back and tell her that nobody was forcing him to do anything. He had woken up today and purposely went in search of her to make everything right; he couldn’t stand the thought of another man even staring at her, talk more of doing the stuffs they’d done together. He couldn’t allow another man play father to his child; even though her uncle had gone to the trouble of scaring him, it still didn’t change what he’d woken up today to do…accepting his responsibility.
“Nobody is forcing me to do anything; I don’t want to be off the hook,” he whispered solemnly to himself, his eyes fixed on where Emma had sat a few minutes ago.
“I know that, son,” her uncle said suddenly, as though he’d been standing behind him for a while; which was probably true because he’d been lost in thought.
“You do?” Fred asked skeptically.
“I do, but this isn’t what we are going to talk about now,” Ette informed Fred.
“It isn’t?” Fred asked but this time looking confused.
“No, you are going to tell me what happened to you today and how you got to faint at my backyard,” Ette delivered pointedly.
Fred was gripped with fear again and suspicion, after all, Emma’s uncle was a force man, who knows if he’d been the one to send the cops after him.
“Nothing happened,” he said, swallowing his trepidation and looking everywhere but at Ette; the man didn’t need to know about the complication with the cult.
Hmm, classic guilt look, Ette thought; he loved the feeling of his detective vibes flooding back into his body. He had missed that feeling after being away from intensive field work for a long time…specifically, after getting dumped at the annex, for a long time. He knew whatever happened to Fred today had a lot to do with Mike Okpo; at the nagging suspicion in his mind that Fred looked familiar, he had gone through the surveillance photos again, and sure enough, Fred had been the young man with the Honda Pilot.
“Something happened to you today,” Ette reiterated with conviction.
“How would you know?” Fred asked, slightly miffed that the man was insistent.
“Well, for starters, your under wear is dirty and torn and you are missing a shirt; your jeans are dirty too, although that could have been from fainting at my backyard. There’s grass in your hair which tells me you probably ran through a bush, you have no shoes, and there are visible bruises on your body. You seem to have forgotten that you are a fair skinned man, Fred, your skin tells a story but I want to hear it from your mouth.”
“I’m curious, what would make an obviously fit looking young man lose consciousness?”
“I…” Fred began and stopped, not knowing how to start the story of his predicament.
“Let me help you…tell me all about Mike Okpo.”
The story continues
LagosConvo family, I greet you all. Its your girl Emem Bassey. So, people have been wanting my stories as a full novel, I have done this and even added hotter scenes to it. Please help my ministry.
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