AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
They worked on the relationship for about six months. They visited each other more often than they did before. They went on family vacations and they were excited it was working perfectly. Demian desperately wanted them to get married again. Nkem was worried about his family and what they would say. It was becoming a burden to her so she called Uncle Tobi and told him about it.
“Do you still love him?”
“Marry him if you do. Just be prepared for the problems that will surface when his health deteriorates.”
“His health? What is wrong with his health?”
Uncle Tobi was silent for a while and then he said, “I think you have forgotten he is a sickler and they always have complications. When it happens, the family will fight you. You have to be firm with them and do only what Demian wants. That’s what I am saying.”
Nkem had a nagging feeling there was more to what he said. She had seen Demian two months ago and he was very healthy. What is this talk about his health? She didn’t dig deep into it. Instead, she said, “Uncle Tobi, please be there when I need you. That’s all I am asking. Hold my hand even if I reject yours. Stir me in the right direction always. I trust you even with my life. If I am making a mistake, tell me now.”
Uncle Tobi allowed her words to sink before he said, “I will always be here for you. If you love him, marry him. You might never get love like his again so enjoy it while it lasts. He is being genuine with you now. Keep the marriage a secret from both families but tell at least one member of the family about the marriage. Someone you can trust to keep the secret. That’s all you need. Leave the rest to me.”
Nkem went ahead to marry Demian again. It was a civil wedding in a court. Demian was so happy and so was Nkem. They travelled to a romantic island for their honeymoon. They had a beautiful honeymoon. Nkem stayed with Demian for three months working remotely until she was needed at work. That was when she left.
Only two family members knew about the wedding and witnessed it. Iyke and Chidindu. They agreed not to mention it to anyone; it was their secret. Ada was getting frustrated seeing Nkem around Demian together. She mentioned it to Demian and at one time said it to Nkem. Nkem told her to her face to mind her damn business. Whatever she had with Demian had nothing to do with her. She said they were parenting their son together and nothing she or any members of her family could do about it. Ada was upset at her effrontery. She said all she had was pity for Demian because she would disappoint him and leave again. Nkem made it clear she didn’t live in America but visited to ensure she saw her son and his father as often as she could, especially when she travels on assignment. She didn’t say more than that.
Demian tried to make Ada understand but she was proving difficult. He had to get Agnes involved. Ada was adamant that Demian should have nothing with Nkem. Agnes then asked her, “So, who should he be with when he is lonely and wants to have intimacy? Does he call you? You know he is prone to infections and has to be very careful with his sexual experiences. He prefers to have sex with his ex-wife who seems to want him too and isn’t complaining. Why does it bother you? Because you feel he needs less of you? Or because you know when Dom is with you he is with her? Why does it bother you when it doesn’t bother her? He enjoys sex with her. Ndidi complained before she left. If possible, get Nkem pregnant with another child. It’s about time.”
That quenched the whole problem. Ada’s biggest grouse was that Demian loved Nkem so much that he couldn’t let her go. She had never had that experience with men, not even her husband. She was the one always wanting peace. He was ready to take a walk. She wondered what was so special about Nkem that her husband, Demian, Iyke and even their father liked her. That was why she disliked Nkem now. There was no other reason.
Years had gone by. The sisters had planned a getaway to a city where they could relax and have fun. Nkem was in charge of the arrangements. They were all excited about it. It was for a week and only the girls. She used a travel agency but she was looking into the details of the trip and researching the city. She wanted somewhere safe and much fun. She wanted them to have loads of activities but would still have time to bond too.
One evening, Nkem had an unexpected guest. Uncle Tobi brought Funke to her home. Nkem was surprised. She had spoken to Funke some days ago and she never mentioned coming to Abuja.
“It was a last-minute decision. Uncle Tobi wanted me to sign off on some documents as though he was writing his will should he die. I have signed off on some but the lawyer has asked that I return tomorrow to sign off on more. I decided to spend the night with you. He stopped me from calling you.”
“Not to worry, he knows I live a boring life and I would always be home. Uncle Tobi, you didn’t come with your escort?”
“I drove us here. I will be leaving shortly.”
“Where are you rushing to?” Funke asked. “Or have you stationed one girl you intend to spend the night with.”
Uncle Tobi looked at Nkem who also at that moment looked at him. Their eyes met and Nkem quickly removed hers.
“I have someone for tonight. She is fresh out of the oven and I want to spend quality time with her,” He stared at Nkem as he responded.
Funke wasn’t paying attention. She replied, “Better take it easy and don’t get her pregnant. Your wife will kill you if you have a child with another woman. You know she doesn’t play with you.”
“She is not here. I asked her to come to Nigeria to sign off on the documents, but she refused. She said I should send sensitive documents via DHL to her. Is she serious? That’s why I called you. I won’t beg her. I asked her how I am coping without her. She told me I am coping the same way I coped when she was in Nigeria. I said ok. That means I have the licence to marry a second wife. She said I should suit myself. Whatever I want to do, I should do. She is a Canadian now and would want to remain in Canada”
“She couldn’t have said so.”
Uncle Tobi and Funke continued their discussion. Nkem excused herself and went back into the kitchen. She whipped up something they could eat while they chatted. She brought it out and served the food. Uncle Tobi smiled at Nkem as ate. He hadn’t seen her in a while though they talked on the phone and chatted casually.
Funke went into the room to take a bath and change. Nkem saw Uncle Tobi off. When they got downstairs Uncle Tobi asked about Demian and Dom; she told him they were fine.
“I would have loved to kiss you but you are a married woman.”
Nkem was shocked at his utterance. She replied, “You have a girl at home waiting for you. You can kiss her as much as you want.”
“Her lips can never taste like yours and her body will never feel like yours. I would have taken a kiss now but I know you will never speak with me again because you are married.”
“Please stop. I have to get back to Funke.”
“Are you scared of me? Are you scared I would do something? Right now, I want you and it hurts I can’t have you.”
“I know you are playing games. I am leftovers, remember? You don’t eat leftovers, you eat freshly baked ones from the oven. I have to go”
As Nkem made to walk away, Uncle Tobi pulled her to him and cornered her between his arms against the car. She was trapped. He looked her in the eyes and smacked his lips. He came closer to Nkem and she shrunk. He tried to kiss her but she turned away. He kissed her on her cheek and then her neck. He forcefully turned her face to him and held it there. He brushed her lips with his and she turned away. He came close to her and said, “You drive me crazy. Don’t ever look at me the way you looked at me in your house again.” He dropped his hands as he said this.
“How did I look at you? I want to know what I did wrong.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong. We will talk about it later, Funke should be done by now. Good night.”
Nkem believed Uncle Tobi was playing games with her. At least she was able to resist his advances this time. Was he testing her to know if she had remained faithful? He kissed her cheek, neck and brushed his lips over hers. What was he thinking? How did she look at him in the apartment that warranted this?
She got upstairs. She got her composure back and then she joined Funke in the room. Funke was no longer her bubbly self. She answered Nkem’s questions with a word or two. Nkem asked her what was wrong but she said nothing. Nkem went to take her bath. Funke checked chats between Nkem and Uncle Tobi on Nkem’s phone. There were not many and they seemed impersonal. It didn’t look or sound like a relationship. It was confusing.
Read. – Count the stars with me episode 61 – 62
Just as Nkem was about to fall asleep, Funke asked her again. “Nkem, we have been friends for so long. Why can’t you confide in me and tell me the truth? You know my deepest secrets but you can’t share yours with me. It is sad.”
“What is the problem?”
“I saw you and my uncle by his car. For God’s sake, Nkem, I asked you several times about the relationship.”
“What did you see?”
“I saw both of you kissing.”
“You didn’t see us kissing. I didn’t kiss him. He trapped me for me to listen to him. I didn’t kiss him. And how could you have seen us?”
“I saw you from the bedroom window.”
“I know. You saw him bend towards me. There is nothing.”
“Nkem, it is today I have concluded that you are dangerous. I saw both of you. This must have been going on for a long time. It is because you were coming back he allowed his wife to travel with the children; I know that for a fact now. Is he the reason you divorced Demian? Is he the reason you don’t want any other guy?”
“Funke, I am not the reason for whatever you are thinking. Uncle Tobi and I don’t have that type of relationship.”
“And the kiss I witnessed. He even kissed your neck. What are you saying? You have been lying to me.”
“I am not lying to you.”
“You are a terrible person. You are very deceitful. How could you? I asked you several times. If I was asked to swear, I would have sworn you would never betray me like this. He gave you too much attention and I asked you several times. I can’t stay here; I am leaving.” Funke jumped up and began to gather her things.
“Funke, where do you want to go tonight? If you won’t believe me, let us go to your uncle’s house so you can confront both of us. I have told you the truth. I won’t use my phone until we get there.”
“Someone who might be busy with a girl tonight.”
“Then how am I dating him?”
“I will call him and tell him I am coming.”
Nkem didn’t know how to handle the situation. If she told Funke Uncle Tobi had made passes at her, she would not believe it ended there. How would she tell her what happened between them when he promised it would never happen again? It was best Uncle Tobi told her himself.
When they got to Uncle Tobi’s house, he was surprised to see Nkem with Funke. He could tell from their facial expression there was trouble. He asked what the problem was.
“Uncle Tobi, I have asked you what your relationship with Nkem is and you made me believe you were her godfather or mentor. What I saw today was not how a mentor treats his mentee.”
“And what did you see?” Uncle Tobi asked with a grin on his face.
“I saw both of you kissing. Nkem denies kissing you but I saw both of you.”
“And how does what two consenting adults do concern you? Funke, you are not a child and you should know certain things by now. Yeah, Nkem didn’t kiss me, and she will never kiss me back but you know how I feel about Nkem no matter how much I say there is nothing. You are not a child. I like her a lot. I tease her with pecks and try to kiss her, but she never agrees. I like the chase even though I am losing, I still pull her legs. She doesn’t realise it but that is what I do. Once in a while, I am naughty, she is used to it. She knows I mean no harm. You know I don’t do married women, so why do you think there is something?”
“She is free now.”
“Nkem, you didn’t tell her? Now I feel special. I think you should tell her and your other friends so they would stop suspecting you.”
“Tell me what? Funke asked.
Nkem replied, “Demian and I have remarried. We are legally married. We wanted to keep it a secret because of his family.”
“What!” Funke exclaimed.
“I encouraged her to go back to him so she doesn’t fall prey to my charms and be disappointed. That’s why she insists, there is nothing. She is my girl. I will always have her back.” Uncle Tobi and Nkem’s eyes met as he said it. He added while she was still looking into his eyes, “I love her.”
Funke was furious. “Wait, you remarried Demian and didn’t tell me? Why would you hide it from me? Am I a member of his family that I will disclose to them? I don’t like this at all. Why would you behave like this?”
Nkem apologised and asked Funke to come home with her. As they went out the door, Nkem received a message from Uncle Tobi. It said, “For what I went through tonight, I deserve a kiss. I mean it. And, so what if we kissed? Stop letting people walk over you. I don’t know why you should explain yourself for something you didn’t do.”
Nkem had to explain why she got married to Demian. Funke was surprised Demian went along with it. She believed Nkem now that nothing happened between Nkem and Uncle Tobi. She told Nkem it had to remain that way.
They went on their trip to Puerto Rico. It was four ladies all alone having the time of their lives for a week.
Three days into the trip, Nkem gets a message from Iyke asking her to call urgently as he couldn’t reach her. Nkem began to panic. She knew if Iyke called it was an emergency. She was scared as she called him back.
“You know Demian had a chest infection when you were here. It wasn’t a chest infection as he told us. He has suffered a stroke and I think you should be here right now to make decisions. He wanted you in charge.”
Nkem didn’t have time to even cry. She told her sisters what had happened. Everyone cut short the trip and changed their flight to the next available flight to the US. Nkem kept in contact with Iyke about the situation. She didn’t ask what happened, she just wanted a situation report.
They arrived in the US in the early hours of the morning. Nkem dropped them at a hotel so they could safeguard their luggage and gave them the hospital address. She went to the apartment where she met with Iyke and then joined him to the hospital where everyone was.
Nkem went in to see Demian and when she exited, she went to talk to the doctor and nurse with Iyke. When they got back, his mother was baffled to see her there. So were his father and Ada.
“What is she doing here?” his mother asked. “Who asked her to come?”
“I called her and she came immediately. Why shouldn’t I tell her?” Iyke replied.
Ada added, “She was a bedmate to him and nothing more. I told him then that she wouldn’t be there when it mattered most.”
“Were you there? None of us was there. There was nothing she could have done and she came immediately after she heard. I don’t want to go into arguments. Nkem, the doctor would like to see you, Demian left instructions for you.” Iyke said as he tried to leave.
His mother stopped them. “Why would Demian leave instructions for Nkem? I don’t understand.”
“She is his wife. Who else will he leave the instructions with?”
“His wife? Ex-wife, you mean. Why would Demian give such control to his ex-wife or he didn’t change it before?”
“He changed it to her when he married her again. She is his wife. We are wasting time arguing here. She has to see the doctor quickly so we can obey Demian’s wishes.”
Demian’s mother was still upset. She didn’t understand the whole marriage thing. When did they get married again which she was unaware of? So Demian was hiding things from her.