I catwalked to the dining room holding my handbag to my side. I was late for work already but who cares? I was the boss now.
Chief had given me control over his two branches in his state and i was managing it well.
‘good morning everyone’ i greeted pulling a chair. Not that i expected them to answer me, i was just fulfilling all righteousness..knowing fully well the kind of hatred they had for me.
Its been two months since my marriage to Chief and even though i dreaded night the most, i enjoyed all the privilegdes i got being his wife. Chief pampered me so much and i proved to be his favourite among his eight wives thus making them envious of me. Some of them were as young as i was, some were a little older. He no longer visited their rooms, infact, he was always with me every minute of the day. I was beginning to think that he really loved me because within this two months, he had gotten everything he wanted and so if he was truly concerned about my body, he should have left me uncared for like all of his other wives.
The saturdays when i remain at home, Chief made it a point of duty to stay with me all day.
I visited Ifepams three times in a week and i made sure they were well cared for. I bought a big supermarket for aunt Chime directly opposite their house so it would be easy for her.
‘madam…’ Didi said eyeing me ‘where is your husband?’ Didi was the wife before me, thats the eighth wife. A very pretty and curvy woman who had no children, of all of them, she hated me the most i could tell. Because rumors had it that the Chief had been very fond of her until his marriage to me, that must have been her problem but who cares? Everyone was only fighting for his future.
‘my husband is still in bed…’ i said laying emphasis on MY HUSBAND.
‘yes i’m sure, why wouldnt he? When you ran him down throughout last night?’ She said maliciously sipping from her tea.
‘oh! You must have heard our mo-ns of ecstacy…Chief is the best man i’ve ever seen…’ i chuckled.
‘you are very stupid!’ Olamide, the second wife fired at me ‘wo this girl, you are so full of yourself! Who do you even think you are sef?’
I eyed her ‘i dont have your time!’
‘then you better shut up! You think you’re the only one who loves good things? Or because the Chief stays up all night scr.ewing you, you think you’re the next best thing to sharwama? Dont worry, its your time to do shakara, when Chief finally sees another prey, you become past tense!’ Olamide fired while the other wives nodded in support.
‘i will never become past tense…like the rest of you. And yes, i’m the next best thing to sharwama just incase you dont know. And if the Chief stays up all night sc.rewing me as you say, then its because he cant have enough of my body. My body is too s€×y for him to resist’ i retorted.
‘were!’ Olamide snapped.
‘see Mide eh, leave this girl,’ Chief’s first daughter, Rina said, her name was Catherina but she had abbreviated it to Rina ‘i’m very sure father would soon be through with her’
‘rubbish!’ i hissed.
Madam Oge as she was fondly called came into the room that moment. She was accorded the highest respect among us being Chief’s first wife and being the mother of four of his kids, she had a son who lives abroad, five years older than me, i had never seen that one, i didnt even know his name. Then Rina, Amanda and Zuby, one rascal of a son.
‘goodmorning madam’ i greeted cheerfully smiling.
‘better person!’ Mide snapped.
Madam Oge looked at her sharply ‘is that supposed to be your goodmorning to me?’
‘i wonder oo…’ i said silently.
Mide eyed me ‘good morning…’
The others relunctantly greeted her. Madam Oge had been the nicest to me so far. Not that she was very very nice like very kind but at least, she responded to my greetings and inquired about my work sometimes and whenever i wanted to prepare a meal for Chief, she would always tell me the things to use and the things not to use, the things Chief liked and the things he didnt. Sometimes, whenever we met at the balcony, we chatted over unsignificant things and she was the one i like the most. But she was like that to everyone of the wives, she didnt favour anybody. She took care of us all as her mate and being the one who had been with Chief for a long period of time, she knew almost everything about him. Coupled with the fact that we were from the same tribe.
‘where’s Adetola?’ she asked me.
‘he’s still in bed’
She nodded and focused on her meal.
Mide and Didi exchanged looks before shooting me a deadly stare. Inwardly, i was scared but outwardly, i portrayed a kill-yourself-if-you-like-look.
This was one of the reasons i never wanted to marry Chief.
I sat on the bed crosslegged with the phone on my ears ‘i’m just tolerating them aunty…’
‘you dont have to tolerate them!’ Aunt Chime said from the other end ‘give it to them the way they deserve it! Ivyy, its your husband’s house and you are going to living there forever, you dont have to tolerate nonsense in your house!’
‘isnt quarelling with them so low?’
‘low my foot! It cannot be called low when you are in your own house my dear, give them what they want. And if you need my help just call me, i will bury their heads in my pocket!’ Aunt Chime snapped.
I laughed. I heard the shower stop running from the bathroom ‘okay aunt, i’ll call you tomorrow, take care of Ifeanyi’
‘bye’ she said and hung up.
Chief came out from the bathroom almost immediately with a big boxer around his fat laps and a white towel around his neck. He smiled sitting beside me on the bed.
I quickly wrapped my hands around his shoulders m-ssaging them softly with a smile on my face.
He laughed and pulled me closer ‘tell me what you want my darling, you only do this when you want something from me’
His tobacco filled breath disgusted me but i didnt show it.
I rested my head on his shoulder ‘its about your wives and Rina’
‘my wives and Catherina?’
‘yes, especially Didi and Olamide…they sieze every opportunity to constantly taunt me, they abuse me always and they always say i bewitched you and that they are going to do everything humanly possible to throw me out of the house’
‘what?!’ he looked at me ‘is this true?’
‘yes Chief, would i ever lie to you?’
‘how long has this been going on?’
‘ever since i came into this house. The taunting is becoming too much and i cant bear it any longer, thats why i’m telling you’
‘so all this has been happening in this house and you didnt deem it fit to tell me?’
‘i just didnt want to cause problems between you and your wives but now, Mide is threatening my life….’ i lied ‘she threatened to kill me’
‘Olamide?’ he seethed in anger ‘dont worry, i know what to do with her’ he stood up, went to the wardrobe, brought out a white caftan and pulled it on.
He left the room and i ran after him.
He marched to Olamide’s room banging her door hærd. I stood behind him.
Olamide opened the door with just a wrapper tied across her chest and her body dripping w-t showing she just left the shower.
‘ah my husband, this one you’ve come to see me today, i hope all is well?’
Chief held her hand dragging her ‘come here’ he dragged her downstairs to the sitting room.
I followed steathily.
‘Maria…’ Chief said to one of the servants in the house ‘i want you to go to this woman’s room…’ he said pointing at Mide ‘pack everything you know belongs to her and bring them downstairs immediately’
‘ah Chief!’ Mide gasped covering her mouth ‘Chief, ah…why? What have i done wrong?’
‘shut up you miserable woman!’ he landed a slap across her cheeks. My heart danced in excitement..God was overthrowing my enemies one by one.
Olamide fell on the floor her wrapper loosing from her chest, she quickly dragged it to cover her uncladness.
By this time everyone had come out of their various rooms.
‘Adetola, what did she do?’ Madam Oge asked clutching her long nightwear, why is she unclad?
‘this filthy woman had the guts to threaten my wife! This woman had the guts to maltreat my wife in my own house!’ Chief said breathing heavily in anger.
‘which of your wife are you talking about?’ Madam Oge asked.
‘Ivyy of course!’ Chief snapped.
Madam Oge and the other wives directed their gazes at me. I rolled my eyes in a nonchalant way falling on a sofa with my legs crossed. Mide looked at me in tears and i winked at her. I had warned her to stay away from me but she hadnt listened…this was just the beginning for the other wives. I looked at Didi and the look on her face was priceless…i could tell she was nervous probably thinking i had reported her to Chief as well.
By this time Maria and two other servants were dragging Olamide’s heavy boxes down the stairs.
She wailed and held Chief’s feet crying profusely ‘please Chief, they are all lying against me, i didnt threaten anyone, please Chief, dont send me out i beg you’ Chief slapped her hands away and she crawled to me ‘please Ivyy, tell them the truth, tell them i didnt threaten you, anything i’ve done to you please forgive me, please beg Chief for me’
I rolled my eyes.
She crawled back to Madam Oge’s legs crying and begging. Madam Oge looked at Chief with a pleading look but he was adamant.
He called one of the male servants and they dragged Olamide out that night, without a penny, just a wrapper tied loosely across her chest.
The night was dangerous but who cares?
Rina tried so many times to be close to me but i always ignored her. I didnt want to be close to anybody apart from Chief of course because of my plans. I didnt even tell Aunt Chime of my plans in inheriting al of Chief’s properties in due time. I already had everything mapped out in my brain, what i needed was an alibi. Certainly not aunt Chime.
The cashier packed my things in a nylon handing them to me. I quickly paid for it and as i turned to leave, something caught my attention.
My eyes were drawn to someone wearing a white dress. The person passed me, his arms slowly grazing mine in a knowing way. But by the time i squinted my eyes to be sure of who i saw, he had disappeared. My heart pounded loudly against my chest. I was suddenly scared for no reason.
I hurried to the car, the uniformed chauffeur openning the door for me. I quickly entered and we zoomed off.
I relaxed my head on the seat. A sudden headache appeared from nowhere.
My phone rang and i quickly picked ‘hello?’
There was no sound from the background.
‘hello? Ivyy Adetola speaking’
‘hello? Who’s this?’
‘you must be really jobless…’ she hissed and hung. Must be one of those female scammers looking for male prey.
I got to the house and noticed everyone was in festive mood..everyone was around at home including Chief. He embraced me in a bear hug immediately he saw me ‘my son is finally back home’ he whispered into my ears.
‘Rooney, my first child’
Oh! The 27 year old boy who had resided in Canada for almost fifteen years. I rolled my eyes nonchalantly. He was back so what? Was that why everyone was so giddy with excitement? What was the big deal about him?
‘Chief i want to rest i’m so tired. Where’s he anyway?’ i asked.
‘around the house. Let me introduce him to you’ he said tugging my arm.
I sighed and followed him upstairs. We stopped in front of Rina’s room and pushed the door open.
Rina was chatting and laughing with someone, a male.
I looked at him carefully and my heart missed a bit. The guy had the face of an angel. He was brownskinned with large eyes and long lashes, he was seated on the bed but i could tell him height was good. His long straight legs were stretched on Rina’s bed and the red tshirt he had on showed his firm and hærdlooking chest.
His hair was short and curly…clearly artificial but it fitted him.
‘Ron’ Chief called wrapping his hands around my wa-ist ‘meet Ivyy, my new wife, we got married three months ago’
I saw the displeasure in his eyes as he regarded me. He suddenly frowned, looking cuter ‘yet another one?’
Chief only smiled saying nothing.
‘this must be Rina’s agemate dad’ there was a note of anger and irritation in his voice.
‘i love her. Age doesnt matter when it comes to love…’ Chief said ‘now greet your stepmother and stop looking at her accessingly’
Rooney eyed his father, then me, exchanged looks with Rina, then shrugged ‘hi’ he said simply. No smile on his face, nothing.
‘hi you too’ i replied and turned to Chief ‘now i’ve seen him, can i go to the room now?’
‘sure i’ll esc-rt you. Come my love’ we walked out of the room.
I thought about Rooney, he didnt seem to like me too much…probably because i’m his father’s new wife, but who cares? I didnt give a da.mn about anyone in this family, i only came for what i could achieve.
I yawned as i descended the stairs tiredly. Chief’s snoring couldnt let me sleep. Sleeping by his side for two months hadnt gotten me used to his pig-like snore.
I settled on the sofa looking around for what to do. It was late and everyone was asleep. I suddenly felt like eating so i tiptoed to the kitchen. I opened all the pots and it was empty.
I opened the fridge looking for anything chewable. And i settled for some fried turkeys i found in a small blue cooler in the fridge. I poured myself a cup of apple juice and whistled as i chewed slowly.
‘that belongs to me’ came from behind.
I jerked and turned ‘you?’
Rooney walked towards me snatching the cooler from my hands ‘what right have you to go around ransacking people’s houses?’
‘this kitchen doesnt belong to you. It belongs to my mother. So what are you doing here?’
‘are you kidding me? This is my house-my husband’s house’
‘which husband? The one you stole from someone?’ He chuckled ‘you are even more shameless than i thought’
‘what?! Me, shameless?’
He eyed me ‘you are beautiful though, the prettiest among my father’s house. Maybe we could hang out one or two times without father’s knowledge’
I eyed him disgustingly. I felt insulted. What does he take me for? I hated him already, how dare he? I smiled as an idea entered my head. This fool just made getting rid of him easy for me.
‘oh really? So i should date you?’ i said dipping my hands into the pockets of my pajamas ‘whats the time sef?’ i asked pretending to check the time. I clicked on recording and put it back into my pocket.
‘not dating actually….i can never date a shameless woman like you, i’m in a serious relationsh¡p and i love my girlfriend’ he held my wa-ist and pulled me closer to himself.
I smiled wickedly ‘so you want to be sc.rewing me behind your father’s back?’
‘exactly baby’ he licked his l-ips sed-ctively.
‘do you realise that i am actually your father’s wife?’
I pushed him back ‘go to your girlfriend. She’ll satisfy all your cravings…since you claim to love her’
He laughed ‘you cant resist me for too long Ivyy, no girl resists me…its only a matter of time till we get under the sheets, bet me’
‘i’ll never stoop so low as to cheat on my husband with a lowlife like you. I love my husband and cheating on him is the last i will do’
‘lets watch and see…’ he laughed wickedly and left the kitchen still holding the cooler in his hands.
I smiled and removed my phone from my pockets. I paused the recording.
‘Rooney or whatever you call yourself, its a pity you’re getting on my bad side on our first day of meeting’ i thought.
A phone rang and i looked at my phone, it wasnt mine. I saw a phone on the counter where Rooney had stood and i knew immediately that it was his. The fool had forgotten to pick his phone.
I picked it up with the thought of smashing it to pieces. But out of curiousity, i decided to check the caller.
My heart skipped a beat. Henna? Henna was Rooney’s so called girlfriend?
My heart raced faster and i mentally slapped myself. It certainly couldnt be the Henna i knew, there were so many Hennas in the world.
Someone snatched the phone from my hand and i looked up.
It was Rooney.
He eyed me and looked at his phone. His face suddenly broke out in a smile and i suddenly envied this HENNA girl to have attracted a hot looking man like Rooney…just that her boyfriend was an as.s. I envied and pitied her at the same time.
‘hello honey…’ he said picking the call and walking away ‘i’ve been waiting for your call….yes i arrived safely, how’s it over there….’ that was until he was completely out of earshot.
I became more than convinced that it wasnt my Henna since his Henna was abroad. But didnt Henna say she was leaving the country immediately she was done with her secondary education, and wasnt Canada the country we all loved and always wanted to visit? Henna was born in Canada and had always boasted that she was a Canada citizen and was going to marry a Canadan citizen too.
I wondered if Rooney was a Canadan citizen.
I rolled my eyes. Henna wasnt an overly attractive lady facially as far as i could remember, though i knew her h¡ps, bust and as.s was something to die for. There was no way someone like her could attract someone like Rooney. I suddenly envied his Henna and for a moment i wished i was the one in her (His own Henna) shoes.
I changed my mind about giving the recording to Chief.
On a second thought, maybe i could flirt with Rooney a little. Chief was very boring in bed. He was nothing like Ralph, even if it was a one time thing with Rooney but the problem was, was he going to keep his mouth shut?
I decided to surprise Ifeanyi a little. I missed my daughter and recently, workload and some other things had prevented me from seeing her on a daily basis.
So i decided to pick her up from school. On my way i had dropped by Delicious n Fruity getting her her favourite ice-cream and strawberry cakes.
I decided to park my car opposite the school gate instead of driving into the school.
I came down with just my phone and handbag and crossed the mainroad as a car was coming speedily.
I hadnt seen it quick enough but when i finally did, it was almost close so i had to increase my pace as i ran and i bumped into someone as i crossed over.
The person had smeared me shirt with something ‘Oh my Gosh!’ i scre-ming trying to clean off the stain from my expensive white top, if only they knew how much that top cost.
When i looked up, i didnt see anyone. I looked ahead and i saw someone…someone really familiar, he was looking at me but turned almost immediately our gazes met and ran away.
I suddenly went dizzy, my sight became blurry at who i saw. It couldnt possibly be him. It couldnt possibly be Ralph.
I remembered falling and someone catching me as i blacked out with one face in my memory…Ralph’s.
‘i really cant stop thinking about it Aunty…’ i wept in aunt Chime’s arms ‘Ralph is still alive aunt and he’s coming for me’
‘stop saying nonsense my dear..’ aunt Chime said pulling me close to herself ‘it was all a figment of your imagination. Ralph is dead..and whoever died do not come back to haunt the living, that only happens in movies. And you have to stop crying before Chief or his nosy wives sense something is amiss’
I cried h-rder ‘i am sure of what i saw aunty, Ralph…our eyes met and he ran away almost immediately our eyes met..do ghosts run? Dont they disappear into thin air?’
‘baby, you’re stressing yourself over nothing. Ralph can never be alive and even if he is, he’s certainly going to die a second death because i wont have him ruin your life’
‘make sure those files gets to my table before the end of today’ i said to Cherpet ‘and make sure you schedule a meeting with Mr Nana, that ghanian investor and make sure to tell Rina incase she comes that i wouldnt want visitors today, alright?’
I was about leaving when i saw someone- a boy actually mopping the floor. He was dressed in white, the company’s cleaner’s uniform. I frowned wondering why a young and handsome looking guy would want to be cleaning…didnt he go to school? He was too goodlooking for this kind of job.
I turned to Cherpet ‘who’s that guy?’
‘oh thats Rain, the new cleaner’
‘Rain? As it Rainfall?’
‘what kind of a name is that?’ she shrugged ‘when did he resume work here?’
‘uhm recently, say two weeks ago’
‘he shouldnt be doing this kind of job. You know what? Tell him to see me right now in my office’ i said and left.
I had barely sat when i heard a mild knock on the door.
‘come in’ i said and the door pushed open.
Rain peeped in before closing the door behind him ‘good morning ma’
I smiled at him. I loved the boldness in his voice, it wasnt shaky as i had expected it to be.
He had this simple but yet charming looks that drew me to him. The white overall draped over his body suited him well and he didnt look like a cleaner in it. He was dark complexioned and tall, i should be reaching him on his shoulders, he was that tall.
I was a tall person too and that was why i hadly ever wore high heels.
‘Rain right?’ i asked.
‘have a seat’ i said pointing to a chair opposite me.
I cleared my throat not knowing how to start. I really didnt know why i was having this meeting with this boy, not that i knew him from anywhere, but i felt this connection, i couldnt tell.
‘this is my first time seeing you around here…its obvious you work here, as a cleaner’ i said.
He lowered his head first before speaking up with a smile ‘i’ve seen you around so many times and yes, i’m a cleaner’
‘why do you do that? I mean, why do you work as a cleaner?’
He smiled again…that charming smile of his. He wasnt at all ashamed of his work and i admired that about him. I noticed he was a hærdworking guy who would do anything to survive.
‘times are hærd madam. A guy has to do menial jobs to make ends meet’
‘you speak fluently. Attended a university?’
‘oh yes, i’m a graduate, i studied Accounting in the university of Ibadan’
I raised a brow ‘wow! If you are a graduate as you claim to be, why then do you work as a cleaner? It doesnt fit you at all’
He gave a small sad smile ‘i know i shouldnt work as a cleaner but what do i do? I have a sick mother to take care of and three siblings to send to school. I have no father and i’m the breadwinner of my family. I cant continue waiting and hoping for a six figure job when it isnt forthcoming..my family would die of hunger. I’ve been searching for a job for five years now and i havent gotten one, i dont do this type of work becayse i want to but because i have no other choice, we have bills to settle and moving around the streets all day would not help’
I regarded him for a while. A hærdworking young man..one i had always wanted for myself ‘i’m sorry about your father’
He looked down again ‘you dont have to. He left us alone when my mother became sick’
‘too bad. Where is he now?’
‘i dont know and i dont even care to know. That man…that man ruined our lives’
I looked at his face and i wasnt seeing that confident and bravelooking young man that came into my office with a proud smile. What i saw was a sad man, filled with so much anger, hatred and frustration. I had been in his shoes before, poverty.
I reminded myself of my promise never to return to poverty again.
I scribbled something on a paper and handed it to him ‘take this to the HR management, you are to be employed immediately’
At first, he looked at me as if i had grown two heads. He read the paper in his hands and tears fell from his eyes.
I missed Chief.
Yes i did, his business trip to the states had taken longer than expected. Not that i missed his company, i just missed his presence in the room. Lying on the massive bed alone ever night all alone was very boring and i found myself rolling on the bed every night. Most times i stayed awake thinking of the events from five years ago.
I wondered where Ifeanyi, Henna, Ije and Oma were now. How did they turn out? Were the successful? Were they already married like me? Do they have kids like me? Had Ifeanyi gotten over me? Certainly…five years was such a long time.
I sighed rolling my thumb on the glass cup in front of me.
I sipped down the hot liquid..i didnt know why i felt like drinking alcohol that particular night…perhaps to forget about my sorrows.
Chief had called earlier that day and i had reported everything that had happened earlier that day to him and of course spicing up the story.
‘they made mockery of me and my aunt…’ i had said tears choking me..fake tears of course ‘they called us thieves and that we are only using your money to give ourselves better lives…’ i sobbed ‘Chief, i try to be nice to my co-wives, u can attest to that…what have i done? Why do they hate me this much? To the extent that they had involved my aunt this time around, i fought back Chief, i couldnt take this anymore…especially from Wanne and Didi, i injured Didi yes…that was only out of defence, you know how much i love my aunt Chief, she’s like a mother to me..she took care of me when i lost my parents…please Chief you need to stop this madness..do something, i cant tolerate this anymore…i will fight back next time and i’m going to leave this house for them…!’
‘…no my princess, please dont say that…’ Chief had said immediately..’please, dont leave the house, just ignore them, i will handled them when i come..trust me’
‘Chief you have to…please warn Didi and Wanne to stay away from me, something bad is going to happen next time i swear it’
‘i will my love, i will. I’m sorry…i’m really missing you my darling…what do i get for you on my return?’
‘uhm…let me think…’ i wiped my fake tears.
I was glad i could bend Chief to do my wishes. Wanne and Didi was going to get a shocker. One by one, they would soon leave the house. I was setting a bigger trap for madam Oge.
I had come to realise that Chief had great respect and admiration for madam Oge and i didnt know why. But he never joked with her..and she was someone he always listened to whenever she had something to say. Getting rid of her just like that wont solve problems, it would only create more. There had to be a greater plan.
‘seems someone is thinking..’ someone suddenly said behind me and i jerked.
I turned and found Rooney in a white robe with a bottle of whisky in his hands smirking mischievously.
‘what…what are you doing here?’ i stuttered…the guy was smashingly hot, ever since the other day at the kitchen, we had never spoken to each other.
He moved towards me and slightly brushed my cheek with his index finger. I swallowed…the closeness between the both of us was doing some strange things to my system.
The last time i had felt something like this was with Ralph…there was this s€×ual tension between us that i couldnt explain.
He sat opposite me filling my almost empty glass with whiskey and filling his ‘your aunt was a handful today’
I rolled my eyes ‘your stepmothers were also a handful today’
He chuckled. I loved the sound of his chuckle ‘my stepmothers? I love the sound of that’ he swallowed his drink in one gulp..then he smiled ‘what about my proposal? Have you thought about it?’
‘what proposal?’ I feigned ignorance.
He winked ‘a secret affair just betweeen the both of us..no one knows’
I stood up ‘you are mad’ i made to leave but he held my hand.
He pulled me closer to him my breas.t.s on his broad hærd chest. I suddenly felt weak as he covered my l-ips with his.
My head scre-med for more as he kneaded my as.s softly.
To be continued
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