… Previously on Roulette Of The Damned!!!
“Can I ask a personal question?” Jiro asked.
“Anything you want to know, I’ll tell you.” Andrew said honestly. “I’m an open book where you’re concerned.”
“How many men have you been with?” Jiro asked. The thought of another man kissing Andrew the way Andrew had kissed him that last Friday caused a tinge of jealousy to squeeze Jiro’s chest.
“I wont lie to you…I’ve been with quite a number of them. I want you to know that even though I have had a lot of men in my life, I take personal safety and health very seriously,” Andrew continued, clearly unaware of the turmoil going on inside Jiro. ” I take personal safety and health as seriously as I am sure you do too with all the girls you have slept with. Playing around with men and women has its perks but it also comes with its troubles. Even though I always used protection with all the men and women I have been with — I have in the last three years been medically tested numerous times for everything in the book; especially because my last relationship with a guy ended in part because the man was married and HIV positive.”
Jiro’s jaw dropped right to the ground.
==========AND NOW on Roulette Of The Damned!!!==========
Crap. Crap. Crap. Andrew stared at Jiro’s shocked face and wondered what in the hell had made him share that information about Jayden to Jiro. The stupidest thing in the world a guy could do was talk about his former lover with his current one…if Andrew could even call Jiro his lover.
“Forget I said that.” Andrew said quickly.
“Which part?” Jiro asked. “Would you rather I forget that he was married or that he was — is — HIV positive?”
“Both.” Andrew said.
After a few moments, Jiro continued his questions. “Did you know the guy was married?” Jiro asked cautiously. “I’ve known you for a long time Drew and you don’t strike me as the kinda guy who would engage in such behaviour.”
Andrew’s hackles rose and a rumble vibrated in his throat. “What kind of behaviour is that?”
“The kind where innocent people get hurt.” Jiro answered, his voice calm in a way that nothing inside Andrew was. “Innocent persons like the man’s wife.”
Jiro’s generous thoughtfulness about Jayden’s wife constricted Andrew’s chest. “You’re right.” Andrew admitted. God, he did not want Jiro thinking he condoned adultery. “I didn’t know Jayden was married when we met, but by the time I found out, I was so in love with him, I couldn’t bring myself to walk away. Jayden promised me his marriage had not been an intimate one for a very long time and he said he was in the process of separating and ultimately divorcing his wife. He said it wasn’t even about me. He told me he’d just grown tired of living a lie. Stupid me, I accepted him at his every word.” Andrew chuckled, the sound laced with cynicism directed squarely at himself. “Hell, who am I kidding? I wanted to believe him so much, I jumped at the chance to be with him no matter what. Then one day when we hooked up, one of his many stories didn’t correspond with what he had told me way back and I believed him a little less, and then a little less the next time, until I went all stalker on him and saw him with his wife.” The sense of wanting to be sick at the sight he had witnessed that day still sat in Andrew’s throat. “She was very pregnant.”
“Shit. Are you sure it was her?” Jiro asked.
Andrew grimaced. “I saw a picture of her in his wallet once. It was her. He obviously never stopped having sex with her. When I figured that out, the floodgates burst open, and I imagined he probably wasn’t any more faithful to me than he was to her. He promised me there weren’t any other men, and he just hadn’t figured out a way to break from his wife and tell his family about us, but by then, I couldn’t believe anything he said and I broke it off. In fact, just before I called you the day I was going to the airport in the UK three years ago, he called me in the cab and he was begging me to stay in London. He promised so many things: a house, a job, leaving his wife and kids for good. Anything to get me to stay but it was too late. I had made my mind up and I knew I’d forever feel guilty and hate myself because I’d be indirectly hurting his wife if I stayed in London just to be with him. I personally believe that just because someone’s bisexual doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a heart or a conscience. I also didn’t want to owe my success to anyone or be indebted to him in any way.” He sighed. “I walked away and I never looked back.”
“That’s deep Drew. I’m surprised you never told me any of this before now.” Jiro said. Knowing that his next question was extremely sensitive and had to be dealt with delicately, Jiro asked with determined caution. “How did you find out Jayden was HIV positive?”
“I got to know about that shortly after I arrived in Nigeria. A doctor friend of mine in the UK told me that Jayden had come to the hospital he was working in to get checked and his results showed he was HIV positive. My friend would probably never have told me but he was worried for my health and safety so he decided to break the doctor/patient confidentiality rule for my sake. That’s why I got tested for every disease known to man. I’m glad to say I’m healthy and disease free.” Andrew finished.
“If he hadn’t cheated on you, would you have dated him regardless of the disease?” Jiro asked.
“Do you mean if I met him when he was single and HIV positive, would I still have dated him?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m asking.” Jiro said.
“Honestly, Yes I would have.” Andrew said.
“You’re kidding right? Like really, tell me you are kidding” Jiro looked at him incredulously.
“No Jiro, I’m not kidding. I can absolutely see myself dating a man or woman who is HIV positive. I judge people simply by their character and personality. I didn’t break up with Jayden because he was HIV positive. I broke up with him because he was married, cheating on his wife, possibly cheating on me, and lying about all of it for months without end. I need you to know that I’m not saying this to you so that you’d see me as a good guy with a big heart. I’m not a good guy. I don’t have a big heart. I don’t do anything that will not benefit me on the long run. Harsh as it might sound, its the truth. I am selfish for my own good just like everyone else. I say these things so that you know that my answer is as a result of my understanding of the HIV virus and the stigma that comes along with it. We have passed the day and age where people living with the disease are to be feared and ostracised. Many people in our lives are secretly living with the disease but will never say it out loud for fear of losing the people they love. The stigma kills faster than the disease!” Andrew looked into Jiro’s eyes to see if his best friend and lover understood the magnitude of what he was saying. He realized he had to explain his point a little more to make Jiro understand.
“The people that live with this disease could be as close as our brothers, sisters, mothers, or lovers.” Andrew continued. “I know of many couples — gay, bisexual, and straight — where one partner has the virus and the other doesn’t. I know its a hard concept to wrap your mind around but the reality of the situation is that the virus doesn’t define the man or woman. I’m sure you know that couples can live healthy lives even if one partner is HIV positive and the other partner isn’t. The best part, there are many ways to ensure that the uninfected partner remains uninfected despite his or her partner’s HIV status. In my opinion, the only difference between someone who is HIV positive and someone who isn’t is time and chance. Not everyone that has the virus is as deceitful as Jayden. There are more ways to get HIV than to sleep around. Promiscuity might not even have been the way some people contracted the virus. It could be rape, getting cut by a sharp object, or trusting the wrong person, as mundane as it may sound. I think of Jayden’s wife now and I wonder if she has the virus. I mean, if you think about it, she’s married to Jayden. She wouldn’t be thinking of wearing a condom while making love to her husband because she wouldn’t expect him to sleep around with anyone else. In her situation, she’s blameless because she isn’t sleeping around. Hell, she might even be a virtuous bible-stomping woman. Her only mistake was trusting her husband and the father of her kids. Look at me. While dating Jayden, I slept with no one else but I was lucky enough to not get the disease. Yes we had sex with condoms most times but there were instances where getting a condom seemed like too much work. Stupid way of thinking, I know, but its the truth. Time and chance simply worked in my favour to ensure I didn’t contract the virus. Alternatively, some could get the virus simply by visiting their barber and using the same clipper, or using something someone else with the virus has used. How many people can really protect themselves when they don’t even know who is carrying the virus? It could even be as bad as going out to a restaurant to eat and not realizing that the cook might have HIV bled in the course of preparing the food and droplets of blood might have fallen into the pot of food. Scary and a bit fat-fetched, yes, but its a possibility. I’m not saying you can get HIV if the person cooking bleeds into the food but I’m sure ignorant people would want to eat any meal prepared by an HIV patient if they knew. So yes, to answer your question Jiro, I can definitely date someone who is HIV positive. If Jayden had HIV when I met him, I’d still most likely date him as long as he remained faithful.”
Unsure whether he had sold his point to Jiro, Andrew made his final point on the issue by saying “It all depends on understanding. To get that understanding, further counselling will definitely be needed. I know that all I’m saying now might mean nothing to you and anyone else that might be listening now on the elevator intercom who might fear the disease – if someone else is truly listening; but I’m sure if anyone was faced with a situation like this, or knew someone they loved dearly living with the disease and the constant threat of being stigmatised if other people found out, they’d think very well about it and consider what I have told you today” Andrew concluded.
The elevator lights came back up and they both stood up. About time, Jiro thought. He really appreciated Andrew being so open and honest about his past with him. And here I thought I knew everything about him, he scoffed. He held Andrew’s hand and squeezed it tight. “You are amazing Drew.” Jiro said. “I honestly am glad you took your time to share your past with me and counsel me on HIV. I’m sure it must have been hard for you to deal with especially since it was your lying cheating ex that made you realise that the disease doesn’t define the person.”
13th floor… ding!
Andrew held up Jiro’s hands in his and gave it a warm kiss. He then dragged Jiro into his arms and kissed him tightly, a seal-the-deal gesture to show Jiro just how much his words meant to him… how much Jiro himself meant to him.
“Wanna come over to my place? I’ll cook you an awesome dinner, we’ll have some desert, and I can be naked in three seconds flat and I’ll readily give you a thorough breakdown of my anatomy from head to toe”. Andrew winked.
“You are such a sexual deviant. I think the fact that I kinda like that about you means I’m also becoming a sexual deviant myself.” He kissed Andrew lightly on the lip and said “Yes, I’d love to have a home cooked dinner made by you. If you impress me with your cooking, I’ll consider that tutorial on the human anatomy” Jiro said with gleaming eyes.
They dropped their hands to their sides and picked up their briefcases off the floor as the elevator signalled that they had arrived on the ground floor.
As they exited the elevator and walked out of the company building, Andrew smiled. Jiro knew about his past and it didn’t matter. He hadn’t judged. He had even been patient enough to listen and understand Andrew’s points on the HIV matter. Best part, he hadn’t acted like the typical Nigerian who would go all religious and blame the situation on liking men. He understood that anyone could get HIV. and that it was the disease, not the person, that should combated. Jiro’s understanding, care, knowledge, and maturity meant a lot to Andrew. So far, his life with Jiro was perfect. That was by far the best elevator ride of my life. It doesn’t get any better than this. Nothing and no one can ruin what I have with Jiro now, Andrew told himself.
He didn’t know just how wrong he was.
Walking her out of his matrimonial bedroom and down the staircase, Jafar held Edirin’s arm. Downstairs, Edirin wrapped her arms around Jafar’s neck. “I love you.” she said.
“I love you too but you need to go, okay?” Jafar said, removing her arms from his neck and practically pushed her towards the front door. “My wife will be back any minute.” he said.
“I’m not afraid of her Jafar. I’m willing to fight for our love if you are.” Edirin said as she let him lead her to the front door.
“I know that my love, but we need to act with caution and apply wisdom to this situation.” Jafar said to her.
When she got to the front door, Edirin turned and kissed Jafar on the lips and said “I’ll see you soon.”
Smiling, Jafar said “You can bet on it.”
Edirin turned to the door as she heard the lock being picked from the outside. The door opened from outside and Abbey’s mum came in.
“Hi Edirin. What are you doing here so late?” Tari asked
Oh shit. With wide eyes, Edirin looked from Tari’s face to Jafar’s face and back to Tari’s face. “I… uh….good evening ma. I … uh … I just ehm… Abbey and I …. uh… I mean”
“Edirin, don’t tell me you and Abbey went out together on her date with Jiro.” Tari said.
“Yes ma, that’s exactly what happened. In fact, that’s why I’m here so late. I came to drop her at home.” Edirin said hurriedly.
“Okay, let me go and say hi to her.” Tari said.
“Ah, no ma… I mean, I wouldn’t advise that. She’s really tired and she’s gone to sleep. I’m sure you can talk to her in the morning.” Edirin said in a shaky voice. She hoped Tari wouldn’t call her out on her lie.
“Hmmm.” Tari looked at Edirin closely before she spoke again. “Okay. I’m sure you know her best.” Tari said. “Now, I know that you two are practically sisters but you need to stop being a third wheel with her. You need to get a boyfriend and let me meet him.”
“Uhm…” Edirin looked at Jafar. He looked away instantly. Edirin turned to face Tari, a plastic smile on her face. “There’s someone but he’s shy. You’ll know him soon though. You have my word on that.”
“Good.” Tari beamed. “I look forward to meeting him. I’ll let you be on your way now. See you sometime soon my dear.”
“Good night ma.” Edirin called out to Tari as she walked out of the house
“Good night Edirin.” Tari said with a smile on her face.
As Tari walked towards the staircase, Edirin turned back to face Jafar and said loudly “Good night sir.” The evil glint was evident in her eyes.
“Good night my dear.” Jafar said. He wasn’t smiling.
As Jafar closed the front door, Tari said to him from the top of the stairs “Edirin is such a nice girl. She’ll make a young man very happy someday.”
“I’m sure she will.” Jafar said.
Once Edirin had driven off, Jafar walked over to the mini bar downstairs and got out a bottle of whiskey. He poured himself a shot, gulped it down, and poured himself another. Walking across the room, Jafar sat back in his favourite chair and sat cross-legged with his glass of whiskey. Tari must have gone straight to bed…Good riddance to bad rubbish, he thought. As much as he didn’t particularly fancy Tari anymore, he wasn’t going to let anyone or anything destroy his pristine reputation. As for Abbey, something had to be done about her. He had to find a way to make sure Abbey kept her mouth shut. Where there was a will, there would always be a way. Jafar closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Edirin had been too easy, too accessible. He should never have allowed himself to succumb to his desires with her. Not in his own house. Now he realised that Edirin had grown too attached to him. Jafar opened his eyes and stared blankly into space. He had to find a way to ensure Edirin was not an issue anymore. He needed to end this…and soon.
Two weeks later
Abbey woke up the way she had slept: Naked. She had cried herself to sleep the past two weeks. She had heard her mum’s voice downstairs a fortnight night ago after catching her dad with Edirin, but hadn’t bothered to move from where she lay. She should have been weary of Edirin’s constant visits every now and again…but she hadn’t been. How could she have known that her life long best friend kept visiting frequently for the last five years because she was sleeping with her father? Who envisioned crap like that? Abbey shook her head ruefully.
Her phone rang and she grabbed it almost immediately with the intention of turning it off. Her caller ID recognized the number to be Mofe. Rolling on her stomach naked and turning to face her window, Abbey picked up the phone.
“Good morning beautiful.” Mofe said seductively over the phone.
Abbey truly smiled for the first time in a long time. “Hey handsome.”
They spoke for forty-five minutes before Mofe insisted she got off the phone to have breakfast. Finally agreeing to get some breakfast after her belly grumbled loudly, she got off the phone. From where she lay, Abbey looked up and checked the wall clock for the time. It was 8am. Her belly rumbled loudly again. Eager to get something to eat , Abbey quickly wore her pyjamas, left her room, and went down to the kitchen.
She was still smiling from hearing the sound of Mofe’s voice when he called. More than anything, she was excited about the big news he had just given her: his birthday was on Saturday next week and he had decided to have a birthday dinner. He had planned it all without her. At first, she had been mad at him but he had explained that he wanted to make sure everything was perfect without her stressing herself about any of the hassles of planning. Maybe he has OCD when it comes to the way he likes things done, Abbey thought to herself. If I really think about it, so do I. Besides, I could definitely get used to a man helping out with planning stuff with me and for me…birthdays… anniversaries…the whole gig! Finally! A guy that makes me his only priority! So much for my reluctance to get involved with him. she smiled again.
She still hadn’t seen anything to complain about regarding Mofe. She had been on a vigilant lookout for warning signs about him but she had found none. The only time he had ever seemed scary was that first night she met him at the club when he wanted to break that Nnamdi guy’s hand for disturbing her. Maybe OCD and being scary to protect people was his pet peeve. Either way, she knew deep in her heart that Mofe would never hurt her. She didn’t know how she knew but she just knew.
She had asked Mofe if she could invite Bukunmi to his birthday dinner and he’d said she could invite anyone she wanted. There was absolutely no way she was inviting Edirin though — the slut. Hell no! Bukunmi’s presence would do. Not knowing what to wear for the dinner, she had asked him who would be coming so she could dress appropriately. All he had said was it was not going to be a big deal and she could wear whatever made her happy. Mofe had answered her question by saying “It’s both of us, whoever you invite, and my closest cousin on my mother’s side and his friend. I haven’t seen my cousin in a while but we talk all the time. I really want you to meet him. We tell each other everything and he’s been asking me when he’ll meet the woman in my life that I keep raving on and on about every time we talk on the phone.” When her nerves had gotten the better of her and she started to say she wasn’t ready to meet anyone from his family because they might not like her, he had simply said “don’t worry baby, you’ll do great. You’ll win him over just like you’ve won my heart over.”
She couldn’t have been any happier. Abbey had quickly begun to realise that when it came to Mofe, she lost her self control. Now that she thought about it, she wasn’t actually sure that she’d ever had any when he was concerned. So far, the only reason she hadn’t had sex with him yet was because he hadn’t asked her for it. He had never even bothered her for sex. She was so humbled by his gesture to not prod her for sex that she decided within herself to give into her fantasies and go all the way with him on his birthday. Saturday was only a week away. She’d let her defences down on Saturday and give herself to him after the dinner party. She had often heard that birthday sex was out-of-this-world. She decided there and then within herself as she made her way to the kitchen that she was going to find that out for herself on his birthday. Edirin had always teased her that she played things too safe. This time, she was going to take risks for the man she was beginning to fall in love with.
Edirin… ugh! She’s so not worth thinking about right now! Abbey thought with disdain. The mere thought of Abbey threatened to leave a sour taste in her mouth but she wasn’t going to have any of it. She pushed Edirin far away from her thoughts. It was a brand new day and, after Abbey had spoken to Mofe, she was walking on air. Nothing and no one would steal her joy.
As she was pouring herself a glass of orange juice, her father stepped into the room. With a smile, he set his newspaper on the table and said “Just the person I wanted to speak with.”
Great. so much for no one taking the wind out of my sails, she thought with contempt.
It had been two weeks since the incident in his bedroom and she had avoided him, until now. “What now?” she snapped.
Jafar stiffened. He fixed his eyes on Abbey and stood silent for a moment. His warm smile turned to an icy stare that seemed to bore a hole right through her. Finally he said “I have been much too tolerant of your rude behaviour. I am your father and you will address me with respect.”
Abbey didn’t meet his eyes, nor did she reply. Jafar motioned toward the table. He waited while Abbey took a seat, then sat beside her. He watched her, apparently waiting for her to look at him or to say something. She did neither.
“I take it you are still upset with me,” Jafar said.
Upset? He’s been screwing my best friend and he thought maybe I was still upset? “I don’t want to talk about it.” Abbey snapped.
“What has Edirin told you?” Jafar asked quietly.
“I haven’t spoken to her,” Abbey said. “And I don’t intend to.”
“Very well.” Jafar said, the strength coming back into his voice. “I expect you to keep silent about the incident. You know how fragile your mother is. We wouldn’t want her blood pressure to rise unnecessarily, or for her to get all worked up. You know soon you too will be married into your husband’s house. You need to consider her in this. Put yourself in her fragile position.”
Her fragile position? Is this man retarded? He’s got to be kidding me! I can’t stand to even look at him right now. Five years of him sleeping with my supposed best friend and all he can say to justify his actions is I should consider mum’s health and keep quiet. If my future husband did this to me, I’d kill him on the damn spot! She scowled her face, a bad habit Mofe had teased her about severally since she met him.
“Won’t you say something? I’m waiting for an acknowledgement from you,” Jafar said
“I told you, I don’t want to talk about it.” she said in an irritated tone.
“Have you spoken to your mother?” Jafar asked
“I haven’t told her, if that’s what you’re asking.” Abbey said, each word dripping with cynicism.
“Perfect,” Jafar said. “Thank you. The knowledge would only hurt her. That particular indiscretion with Edirin was completely out of character for me. It is now over with, and we can all move on.”
Abbey visibly snorted. She couldn’t take it anymore. She lashed out in full force at her father. “You disgust me you know. You care more about how your reputation is perceived than what the reality of things actually are. I should have told mum what I saw the minute she got back from vigil that night. I see no reason why she is still with you. I can’t wait to get married and get out of this house. Oh, and when I do, I’m taking mum with me. You don’t deserve her one bit! You and Edirin can have this big house all to yourself and live happily ever after. As for me, I’m done with your sick twisted ways. I have things I need to do. Excuse me.”
Abbey started to get up but Jafar put his hand firmly on her arm and held her in place. “Not just yet you little shit. First of all young lady, you will mind your tone with me. No matter what, I am still your father and the head of this home. You will do well to remember that. As for your future husband, maybe I should have a little chat with him and discuss your attitude. Lets see if he is still interested in you then. And your mother stays with me. Till death do us part! That’s my favourite part of wedding vows she and I took all those years ago and I will fulfil those vows till my dying breath.” he almost growled the words out. “She’s never leaving me.”
“What happened to the other parts of those vows dad? What did you do to the other parts of those vows you love so much where you promised to love and cherish mum, forsaking all others for as long as you both shall live? What happened to them? You can be such a hypocrite, you know. You must be joking if you think mum won’t be leaving with me when I’m leaving this house. Hell will freeze over before I’d let that happen.” Abbey said, gritting her teeth as she said her words to her father’s face.
“That’s fine.” Jafar said casually. “We will eventually see who’s got more of a say in the matter. You will however respect me from now on or else I’d take it you don’t mind dating and soon to be planning your wedding with a dead man.”
Abbey finally met her father’s stare head on. She matched it with her own fury. “What the hell is that suppose to mean?” she asked him.
“You are a smart girl. Figure it out.” Jafar said.
“You’re bluffing.” Abbey scoffed.
“You know me Abbey. I never bluff. If you don’t want this Mofe idiot dead, you will behave yourself and respect me from now on.” Jafar said in his as a matter of fact voice.
Panic rose from within her. How does he know about Mofe? She hadn’t told anyone in her family about her relationship with Mofe yet. She knew her father was powerful and had connections and eyes everywhere but she’d been very careful.
There could have been only one source for him to get that information. Edirin. Damn it. I trusted that bitch too much! “You bastard.” Abbey literally spat in his face as she said the words.
The unexpected slap knocked Abbey’s head backward. Jafar stepped back, dropping his hands to his sides. He gave a slight nod as his lips turned from a straight line to a slight smirk. “Like I said, you will respect me from now on.”
Abbey wanted to spit in his face again. Instead she took a deep breath. Her face stung but she would rather die than give her father the satisfaction of seeing her wince. “You have no right to do this.” she said calmly.
“Of course, I do.” Jafar said in a smooth voice. “It is my right, as well as my obligation as a parent to protect and punish my child when necessary. You certainly had no moral dilemma when it came to living in my house free of charge, enjoying the education I paid for, or travelling around the world with my money. I did those things because it was my responsibility as a parent but I will not spare the rod and spoil you for anything. I don’t care how old you get. As long as you are under my roof, you will be obedient.” He turned and started making his way back upstairs then stopped and looked back. “Oh and there’s one more thing Abbey. Don’t get any ideas about running away with Mofe. If you leave this house without getting married and bring shame on this family, your mother may not survive the trauma.” As continued his ascend up the stairs and said “Have a good day, my dear.”
Knowing that his threat was clear, a huge smile appeared on Jafar’s face.
There was determined hatred in Abbey’s heart.
A couple of minutes later, Abbey trudged up the stairs to her room with her glass of orange juice. As soon as she sat on her bed, her phone rang. She retrieved it from her purse and answered it without bothering to check the caller ID… a mistake she instantly regretted.
Hearing Edirin’s voice set Abbey on edge. Her grip grew tight on the phone. Her breath caught in her throat. She was about to disconnect the call with Edirin began speaking quickly. “I’m sorry about what happened,” she said. “I never meant to hurt you.”
“Then what the hell were you doing having sex with my father?” Abbey asked with venom in her words.
“I’m sorry.” Edirin said instantly. “You probably wont believe this but I love him. I’ve been in love with him for years.”
“You are right. I don’t believe you.” Abbey said as a matter-of-factly. “I don’t know how many guys Bukunmi has been with but I’d sooner believe her if she said she’s found love than believe you. How can you say that you love somebody? You!”
“Please you have to believe me.” Edirin said. “I’m not a flirt. I don’t go after married men”
“Oh please!” Abbey scoffed. “Save it for someone who’s going to believe any more of the bullshit that comes out of your cursed mouth.”
“It’s the truth.” Edirin’s voice took an edge of desperation. “Abbey, I really need us to be friends again.”
“When hell freezes over,” Abbey said. She disconnected the call, squeezing the phone tightly and barely keeping herself from throwing it across the room.
Her face still sting from the slap her father had given her. An unexpected sadness swept over her. In a way, Edirin was simply another of her father’s victims. Maybe Edirin had no idea what he was truly like. She had never seen the arrogant, self-righteous part of him. Unfortunately for Edirin, she probably believed her father was in love with her too. She had never experienced his violent mood swings like her mother had…
Or had she?
Hurdled beneath the warmth of her covers, Abbey dreamt of Mofe. His dark, intense eyes, his contagious smile, his muscular arms wrapped around her. Jiro was somewhere in the distance begging for her forgiveness and asking her to take him back. An angry voice tumbled into her quiet dream. Her father’s voice, loud, full of rage. His voice mixed with sobbing. Her mother. She turned in her sleep trying to get the angry voices out of her dream but it just became louder. Abbey was jarred awake by the sound of the angry shouting downstairs. Abbey opened her eyes and lay still a moment, listening. The voices were muffled. No distinct words, just sharp garbled noise. Her peaceful dream evaporated, leaving behind her reality. Wide awake now, Abbey sat up. She blinked in the darkness, listening to her parents fight. Things between them had gotten much worse. Much more volatile than ever before. None of this could end well. She sat up and checked her clock.
With a sigh, she climbed out of bed, pulled on her slippers, cracked her bedroom door open, and stepped out into the dark hall. As she walked down the hall, her parents’ voices grew more distinct.
Her mother was sobbing. Abbey knew that sound anywhere. It was that type of crying that bordered on hysteria, when you cant seem to catch your breath. Her father’s distinctive tone chastised…mocked. She couldn’t make out all the words but bits and pieces drifted toward her.
“You know better than to question me Tari. You know me.” Jafar said.
“I cant stand it any longer,” Tari said. “I want to know who…”
“How can you even think I’d do this…” Jafar cut in.
Tari’s voice grew louder, stronger as she cut his sentence short to make her point clear. “You’re obviously happier with whomever you’re sleeping with because you never touch me anymore. Sometimes you don’t even come home at nights and I cover for you so that Abbey won’t find out and hate you. Why bother coming home at all, Jafar? ehn? Why won’t you just give me a divorce and make it easier on all of us?”
Jafar’s reply was low and muffled. Abbey couldn’t make out the words. Then she heard a mocking sound — Is that him laughing? she wondered.
“But I cant continue to live this way,” Tari complained again.
“Stop whimpering and shut up,” Jafar said. “You sound pathetic. What are you trying to do? Wake up the whole neighbourhood?”
Tari’s sobs continued. A stinging slap echoed down the hall.
“Please stop,” Tari said amidst her tears.
“I have warned you before,” Jafar said. “You know better than to ask such a ridiculous question.”
Abbey reached the bottom step at the exact moment that her father backhanded her mother across the face a second time. Tari stumbled backward. “Stop it!” Abbey said. “Leave mum alone.”
Jafar turned. In the dim light, his face took on a haunted glow. Abbey shivered. She said, “Stop hitting mum.”
“This is none of your business,” Ales said. “Your mother gets nothing she doesn’t deserve.”
Tari gripped the back of the sofa for support. “I’m okay, Abbey,” she said softly.
Abbey remained where she stood. She couldn’t keep walking away. Each time she did that, it was like she was giving him the go-ahead to keep hitting her mum… like she was saying that it was okay. Abbey had been a party to her father’s to continued abuse of her mother — of all of them — because she hadn’t spoken up…but not any more. She was going to stand her ground this time.
Abbey met her father’s stare. His cold anger radiated off him in waves. She forced himself not to flinch. “You are wrong dad. No woman deserves to be hit,” Abbey said.
Jafar closed the space between himself and Abbey. Fear crept into Tari’s eyes immediately.
It was one thing for her to take a beating. She was used to it. Tari however knew she would never forgive herself if she let Abbey become another punching bag for Jafar. Braving up, Tari quickly said, “Abbey, please go up to your room now.”
“Keep quiet Tari!” Jafar demanded. “Apparently Abbey feels as if she has something worth contributing here.” He turned to face Abbey. “Go on. Speak your mind.”
Determined not to be bullied, Abbey stood firm. Putting as much confidence into her voice as she could muster, she said, “You have no right to hurt anyone.”
Jafar chuckled without humour as he brushed an imaginary lint from his shirt. Finally he met Abbey’s eyes. “The treatment given is that which is deserved,” he said. “Therefore, you are incorrect. I have every right.”
He held Abbey’s gaze for a moment longer. His eyes burned hot with fury, but something else burned there as well. That nameless emotion sent a chill down Abbey’s spine.
After a moment, Jafar turned to Tari. “I’m tired,” he said. “You and I are finished with this subject. Don’t bring it up again.”
Jafar disappeared up the stairs. Abbey and Tari stood in the silent shadows until the bedroom door clicked closed. Then Tari let out a soft whisper of breath. She said “Thank you Abbey.”
Tears glistened on Tari’s cheeks. Abbey shook her head. This life her mother lived made absolutely no sense to her. “Why do you stay with him, mum?”
“It wasn’t this bad before.” Tari managed weakly. Walking over to the stool by the kitchen, Tari managed to slump to a sitting position. Her legs seemed to weak to carry her up.
Abbey walked over to the water dispenser and got her mother a cup of water. Placing the glass cup in front of Tari, Abbey started again. “I know mum, but –”
“Not now,” Tari murmured. “We’ll talk later.” So many unanswered questions and it seemed they’d remain unanswered, at least for now. Abbey’s stomach churned but she agreed to let it go. She muttered a good night and headed back up to her room. She stepped back into her room and closed the door. She climbed into bed and stared at the ceiling, letting the scenes of her life play over in her mind. Eventually, she fell into a restless sleep. This time, she dreamt of her father being chased by lions and bitten by deadly snakes. As they tore at his flesh and the snake’s poison wormed its way into his blood stream, his tormented screams rang through the air.
Abbey drove herself to Four Points restaurant on Saturday night. She had gone all out to make sure she looked sensational tonight: her nails were perfectly manicured, her hair was on point, she had gotten a full body wax, she was wearing her Jimmy choo shoes, and the Vera Wang ‘freakum’ dress that she had kept for a special occasion made her look good enough to eat…literally. It had all been worth it though. Tonight was a special occasion. It was Mofe’s birthday, she was meeting his closest cousin, and she was finally going to give herself to Mofe.
Yes…tonight was definitely a special occasion.
She followed the restaurant attendant who directed her to the dinner table where she saw Mofe looking at his watch. My man! He’s so cute when he goes all OCD like he’s doing now. As she walked up to the table, giving him her award winning, you-are-definitely-getting-some tonight smile and kissed him on the cheek. “Happy Birthday my darling. I’m sorry I’m late baby”
“That’s okay Abbey. I already anticipated that you’d want to make a grand entrance. Its everyone else I’m worried about. I know the traffic on Third Mainland bridge might be bad but I really hope they get here soon.”
Abbey counted the number of seats at their table. Six chairs. That’s odd. She had only invited Bukunmi to Mofe’s birthday dinner and Mofe had said he was only expecting his cousin and a plus one. Who was the last seat for? Oh, Bukunmi, if you decided to bring Edirin here tonight I will never forgive you!
Looking over at Mofe’, Abbey said, “Baby, I want to go to the ladies toilet real quick. I’ll be right back.”
“Okay love.” Mofe replied. “I’ll order some drinks while we wait for everyone else.”
Abbey took her purse with her and went to the toilet quickly. She brought out her mobile phone out and dialled Bukunmi’s number. It rang twice before Bukunmi picked up. “Hi sweetheart, I’m just walking into the restaurant now.” Bukunmi said. “Are you already here?”
“Yes I am. B.K.” Abbey replied. “Please tell me you are not walking into this restaurant with Edirin or so help me God I will never speak to you or that lying back-stabbing witch again.”
“Edirin? Of course not, Abbey.” Bukunmi said in an annoyed tone. “How could you even think I’d bring her to Mofe’s birthday dinner. I’d never betray you like that. Besides, I like Mofe and I don’t want his birthday to be ruined because of the drama between you and Edirin. I’m walking towards Mofe now and I don’t see you. Where are you?”
“In the toilet.” Abbey said. “Okay, I’m coming out now. And Bukunmi…”
“Yes?” Bukunmi replied.
“Thank you for always having my back.” Abbey said.
“Anytime baby girl.” Bukunmi said cheerfully. “Now get your big butt out here already.”
“Okay Hun.” Abbey cut the phone and quickly checked her make-up in the mirror. Everything was going to be perfect tonight.
So if its not Edirin, who is Bukunmi bringing to dinner? She’s probably found another hot guy. Trust Bukunmi to always have a plan for an after-party rendezvous in the sheets later on. At least she keeps it real, Abbey thought.
Adjusting her hair, Abbey walked out of the ladies toilet and towards the table. “Sorry babe,” she said to Mofe, “Girl stuff”. She turned to Bukunmi and blew a kiss to her friend. “Hi sweetheart. So glad you could make it.”
“Uhm…Abbey there’s something you need to know,” Mofe started
“Sure. What’s up?” Abbey asked.
“Chai…Uh, wait Mofe. Maybe I should tell her myself,” Bukunmi said nervously.
“What’s going on here?” Abbey’s voice sounded slightly panicky. From the way Mofe and Bukunmi were talking, something wasn’t quite right. She turned to Mofe. “Mofe, please tell me what’s going on.”
“Bukunmi brought a date.” Mofe said, picking his words carefully.
Typical Bukunmi. I’d guessed as much. Abbey smiled. “Bukunmi. Always the man magnet. That’s no problem. Whoever you deemed fit to invite here is fine by me.” Bukunmi looked constipated in her seat. She rolled the tip of her hair with her index finger and looked like she was about to bolt. Abbey looked at her curiously “Ok so where’s this mystery man?”
“He went to the bathroom.” Mofe said, sounding cautious again.
“Oh, okay. I cant wait to meet him.” Abbey said. “I’m sure he’s a catch if you brought him here.”
“Babe…about the guy Bukunmi brought, you may not –” Mofe’s words were drowned by the sound of a familiar voice speaking directly to Mofe from behind.
“Happy Birthday cousin! It’s been forever!” the familiar voice said.
Mofe, Bukunmi, and Abbey turned to see who it was. Mofe was the first to stand up with a big smile on his face as he said “Andrew! You made it! Finally. I was going to give you a hard time if you had missed it. And who’s your plus one? Is this the famous best friend I have heard so much about? It’s really nice to meet you. My name is Mofe.”
No one paid any attention to Mofe anymore. Dead silence around the table.
Mofe went on. “Andrew, let me introduce you to love of my life. Abbey, this is Andrew, my closest cousin and his best friend.”
Dead silence around the table.
“Abbey,” Jiro said in shock.
“Jiro,” Bukunmi said with a look of disbelief from where she sat.
“Andrew,” Abbey said, too scared to breathe.
“Bukunmi,” Andrew and Jiro said in unison.
Mofe did a double take and looked around the entire table. “Wait, you all know each other?” Mofe asked.
Another voice interrupted the group with a “hello everyone. I’m Bukunmi’s date”
Everyone looked at the intruder.
Mofe looked at Abbey nervously.
Andrew stared blankly.
Jiro’s eyes widened in disbelief.
To be Continued…
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SOUNDTRACK FOR EPISODE 5::: DISTURBIA: DISTURBIA by RIHANNA.