The Last Smile – Episode 25
By Adeola Nissi
Deolu knocked on Teju’s door the next day. He hadn’t been able to get her to open the door the previous day and he had called for dinner to be sent to her room. He was already dressed for the day ahead and he wondered if Teju was awake yet. He wanted to confirm what she would take for breakfast so they could eat together and possibly talk about her heartbreak.
The door opened and Teju stood before him – fully dressed. “You are awake?” he managed to murmur.
“Obviously” she grinned. “Good morning Dee” she looked him over with the same grin on her face.
“Lemon looks good on you Teju, so much” Deolu said with an appreciative look in his eyes.
“Anything would look good on me” she dropped.
“Obviously” Deolu mimicked and Teju smiled. “Why do I feel that you are dressed to seduce?” He raised his eyebrow.
Teju feigned a look of innocence. “Can’t say I know what you are talking about” the look he gave her forced her to drop the pretense. “Alright, fine. Looking good and appealing is part of my tactic today. No one refuses a beautiful lady anything, thanks to God, I have a lot of beauty at my disposal”. She landed and Deolu grinned.
“Won’t you invite me in?”
Teju opened the door wide enough for him to enter. As he entered, she grinned again mischievously and Deolu became nervous. “Spill it” he dropped.
Teju laughed. “I never knew that you could dress so erm… so normally.”
He blanched. “Normal” he repeated.
“Yes. I mean, no suit and tie that makes you look like a pastor or a banker. You look like a guy in this outfit of jeans and T shirt” she said, tongue in cheek.
“Wow… I never knew that the suit made me look so cheesy and serious”
She laughed. “Not so serious. They all look good on you. You won’t be Luciana’s guy if you were anything less” she grinned.
He cleared his throat, sitting down. “Thought she didn’t care about the physical appearance”.
“All ladies do. We like to show off our man” she picked up her shoes and started putting them on.
He saw the tray on the table. “You have eaten?”
“Yeah. Had to do so in order for me to get to business early enough” she was done with her shoes.
“Can we talk”
Teju glanced at him, and without even looking, she knew what was coming. “Maybe when I come back; time is against me”
He frowned. “We are going together”
She shook her head. “No Dee. I have to do this on my own. You people did not understand me when I talked then. It won’t work well if they see you there now. They don’t know me, especially the DPO who is our target. It would be easier for me being a lawyer and I don’t want you to ruin everything with your presence. Don’t get me wrong, the DPO might see you afar off and flee. That is what I am against”. She smiled at him. “I can take care of myself, you don’t have to bodyguard me”.
“I would love to take you up on that but-”
“But I am late. The earlier the better” she concluded. Deolu knew he would get nowhere by arguing with her. He would get her later, but for now, she needed to have her way. He stood up as his tummy grumbled for attention. “Guess I would be eating alone then. Be careful” he murmured when he got to the door.
She smiled as she lifted her bag. “No mortal can do anything to Teju except God allows it”. She smiled at her own words, remembering Tunde and the fact that she had not yet accepted that his leaving her was God’s will.
“I can’t believe she is gone” Vicky murmured as she sat on the couch facing Raymond. She had just arrived from her friend’s place and after dropping her things, she discovered that Lucy was not in. Raymond broke the news of her departure to her.
“The earlier you believe it, the better for you” Ray’s eyes were fixed on the flat screen TV.
She sighed. “I must have scared her off; and to think I imagined that she accepted me for who I am… should have known that no one can” she was sober.
“What are you talking about” Ray’s attention turned to her instantly.
“I told her about my s£xuality”
“You did what?” Raymond yelled as he jumped to his feet. “What were you thinking? Were you daft or something”
“I was perfectly ok. Just did not want someone to like me and later become disappointed when they find out the truth”
Ray did not know why he yelled that way but he was furious. He had been the only one in their family to accept Vicky unconditionally even though her acts irritated him terribly. “When did you tell her?”
“The day after I arrived”
Ray looked at her like she had gone mad but he held his tongue. He wondered why he did not see the trace of hate in Lucy towards Vicky. Not everyone would accept a lesbian that easily except if they believed in them, which he found ridiculous. “Well, she left for her family. She even said in her letter that she wished you guys were sisters”. Vicky was stunned but she did not have the opportunity to probe him further because they heard the gate open and Ray knew who to expect.
He opened the door and met Duke who was walking majestically towards him. The guy could be a charmer any time any day without even trying.
“Hey man” he greeted Duke with a smile and they gave themselves the usual manly hug. “To what do I owe the honour?”
“Is it a crime to visit my best friend?”
“Judging by the last time you visited me, I would bet this year’s salary that you are not here specifically for me”
“I would be ready to take that bet anytime” he grinned. They entered the sitting room and Vicky who had been watching a movie turned round. Duke’s heart skipped a beat as he stared at the only woman he had ever loved. He had fallen in love with her long ago but when he bore his heart to her, she had in turn told him that she saw him as someone of the same s£x with her and the only people that appealed to her were females. Being in love with a lesbian was the last thing he ever imagined would happen to him. The incident would have affected his relationship with Raymond but he did not allow it. It took a long time for him to forget her even though she was already out of the country.
Vicky swallowed and smiled tightly at Duke. If she had known that he would be visiting, she would have stayed back at her friend’s place, besides, she was also a lesbian.
“Hello Vic” Duke finally broke the silence. Ray just stood still, watching the drama. “I can see that you are still as s£xy as ever” his eyes roamed Vicky and Raymond frowned protectively.
“And you are even more of a flirt” Vicky replied with a corny smile.
“Amen to that” Duke’s eyes held no smile even though his smile portrayed them.
“OK” Ray cut in. “Vicky, could you please get us juice?”
Vicky left without a reply and Ray fixed Duke a warning glare. As they sat, Ray faced Duke. “I think I am ready for that bet now” Duke hissed and he laughed.
Lucy washed the dishes and her mum kept on pestering her. She wondered why the questions her mum was asking were affecting her comfort; but she knew. She knew why she felt uncomfortable.
“Answer me Lucy, I am your mum. You should not be shy to tell me about your love life. Knowing how long you stayed without a single boy in your life, I bet Deolu did what all those guys could not do. Tell me, how did you meet?” Bewaji glued herself to the side of the zinc, grinning like a teenager.
Luciana sighed. “Work brought us together mum. We needed a supply of some furniture and I had to meet with Deolu for negotiation.”
Bewaji smiled. “At least something good came out of that job. Now I am happy that you took the job because if you did not, you would probably remain single forever. Tell me: was it love at first sight or did it grow on you?”
Luciana’s stomach turned so much that she felt she might throw up. She became whiter than she already was but Bewaji mistook her reaction for embarrassment. Luckily for Lucy, Bewaji’s phone rang and she went for it, leaving her to breathe in a free air again.
Teju walked stylishly into the police station with a faint and feminine smile on her face. She saw the way the policemen had their eyes on her with every step she took. Deolu had been right. The dress made her feel feminine and in control.
She got to the counter. “Good morning, please I am here to see the DPO” she said with an irresistible smile on her face. The three policemen were grinning foolishly and she felt the urge to punch them in the face.
“I would give anything to be the reason for your visit” the one facing her said.
She half laughed. “You won’t betray your DPO now, would you? Even if you are this handsome” she could not believe her own words.
Another policeman pushed the other away. “What? I am more handsome” he grinned.
Teju laughed. “Sure. You all are. Now I want to see your DPO, when I am through, I would see you guys”.
They all smiled. “You dey lucky say e dey office” the last one said in pidgin and Teju wondered if his earlier silence was because he could not speak proper English. He left for the DPO’s office after asking of her name while Teju continued chatting with the other two.
“You fit go inside”
Teju thanked him with a smile and walked to the office, knocking slightly before entering.
“Hello DPO… Mr. Chuks?”
“Yes. Please have your seat.” His eyes lit with appreciation at her beauty and she smiled internally. After she was seated, she placed her small purse on the table. “Please, I don’t know you; how may I help you?”
“The question should be: how may ‘I’ help you” she countered.
Chris frowned. “I don’t understand lady”
Teju smiled menacingly. “Let’s just say I have the power to destroy you” Chris gasped. “The power to break you and shatter all you have ever worked for”.
Chris composed himself. “Are you here to threaten me?”
Teju’s smile did not leave its place. “I am not here to threaten. I am here to assure you of what I would do”. When she saw that a certain level of fear had been implanted, she slowly picked her purse and opened. “I have something that would interest you” she took out the carefully folded newspaper, opened it and gave it to the DPO. His hands and eyes froze when she stared at the same girl she had seen in the picture given to him by Deolu. The truth was already out, he knew it. “What… what… what is… this? And who the hell are you” he yelled as his palms began to sweat.
Teju deliberately took out the smile on her face slowly, leaving her face serious and blank. “That signified that Luciana was murdered and I am Barrister Teju Bello, Deolu’s lawyer” she dropped.
Chris’ mouth fell open as he tried to gather what was happening to him. His life was now completely ruined. He would be behind bars, all for helping that Fred. His wife… his two daughters… he could not imagine it.
Teju smiled and got up slowly, roaming the office slowly. “When Deolu had told me that no move was taken in Abuja concerning the search of the murderer, I decided to dig. I wondered which DPO would be at peace knowing that a murderer was roaming the FCT of Nigeria. Then I discovered the reason: he knows, or should I say well acquainted with the murderer.” She faced him as his eyes watered. “How would you love to be charged for treason sir? You know, you could as well be his accomplice.”
“No ma’am. Please for God’s sake. I did not do anything, please. My children are still very small, please” he begged, getting up.
“I know you are a good man, just don’t know why you are protecting this murderer. He murdered that innocent girl in cold blood, what makes you think he can’t do the same with you or your children? Listen, I would give you the chance to right this mistake. Produce Fred and I would not press any charges against you. My client does not know about your betrayal but believe me; he would not hesitate to ruin your life and career if he found out that you are in any way connected with Fred. The guy killed his fiancée!” she exclaimed as fury sliced through her. “You have 24 hours to think about it” she dropped a tiny card on the table and picked up the newspaper which had fallen carelessly out of Chris’ hands. “Give me a call when you have made up your mind and don’t think of doing anything foolish. You don’t want to mess with Teju Bello, believe me” her eyes held meaning as they burned fire. She straightened and smiled mischievously. “Have a nice day” she walked quietly out of the office, leaving Chris shaken.
…To be continued
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