Please note that this series contains some sexually explicit content, violence and offensive language. It is not appropriate for children nor an immature and sensitive audience.
A SMALL WORLD - SEASON THREE
Copyright © Ufuomaee
Michael took a late afternoon flight from Los Angeles on Tuesday and, with a short stopover at Amsterdam, arrived on Wednesday evening at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos. It was the most convenient and fastest return route he could take, as he couldn’t get a direct flight from LA to Lagos. After almost 24 hours in commute, he finally made it to his apartment in Ikoyi.
He’d called Temi when he landed, and she’d sounded happy to hear from him. He really wanted to see her, but he was feeling quite jet lagged, so he thought he’d be better tomorrow, when he’d gotten a good rest and had adjusted to the time difference between the two continents. His maid had resumed work yesterday, being notified of his return, so he came home to a clean, well-stocked apartment.
He didn’t have much of an appetite, so he only ate a couple of apples and drank decaffeinated coffee, before he made to rest on his king-size bed. Thankfully, he’d requested three weeks leave off work to attend to this family crisis, so he wasn’t due back at the hospital until Monday. Before he gave in to sleep, he remembered to do one last thing.
“Hey… You’re back?”
“Yes. Just got in.”
“How was your flight?”
“It was okay. How’s Linda?”
“She’s good. Watching TV.”
“Okay. Put her on real quick…”
“Hey sweetie! How are you feeling today?”
“I’m good, thanks. How was your flight?”
“It was great. Are you being a good girl?”
“Of course! I’m always a good girl!”
Michael chuckled. “That’s what I love to hear… I’ll call you later, okay? Daddy has to sleep now.”
Temi didn’t know why she was stressed out today. Maybe it had something to do with the tension she was feeling about choosing between Michael and Oyinda… Sadly, she was still on that. Some days, she felt so sure and determined on what to do, and then Michael would call or send her a message, and all her resolve would crumble.
It didn’t help that he was now in the country, and every fibre of her being wanted to be close to him. She wanted to see him and felt so guilty about that. She’d really missed him. And she could barely concentrate on her work. All the pressure was beginning to give her a headache.
She looked down at her mobile phone, which just pinged with a notification. She couldn’t see who it was, as she had several notifications she hadn’t bothered to respond to yet. She decided to unlock her phone and check.
“Don’t forget our appointment with the counsellor at 4 pm today”, Oyinda had sent.
“Ok.” was Temi’s response.
“Do you want me to pick you?”
“No, thanks. Just send the address.”
She swallowed. She’d already requested to leave work early so she could attend to this personal matter, and so she’d planned to work through lunch, so as not to be overloaded tomorrow. But as it was, she wasn’t getting much ticked off today.
She let out a deep breath and tried harder to focus. But the devil wouldn’t let her.
“Hey, babe. Free for lunch?”
Temi looked at Michael’s message. She should just ignore him. She locked her screen and proceeded to do just that. It lit up seconds later with another message.
“I’m actually downstairs… They won’t let me come up without an appointment.”
Temi put her head in her hands. What was this man doing to her? Showing up at her work and all?!
“What are you doing here?!” she wrote back.
“I miss you, babe. Please, come downstairs, let’s talk.”
Temi’s heart raced with anticipation. Should she or shouldn’t she? She knew it was a fruitless game. She wanted to, and she knew she would.
She switched off her computer, deciding that she’d take her lunch break after all.
What had she done?! Did she not have one ounce of self-control…?!
Temi chided herself as she laid naked in Michael’s arms. From the moment she’d laid eyes on him, looking all sexy and hopelessly in love in the banking hall, she knew she was in deep trouble. He’d taken her to his apartment for a home-made lunch. He’d said he wanted somewhere ‘private’ where they could really talk.
“I told Lisa that I want a divorce…” he’d said, while they ate the pasta carbonara his maid had prepared.
Temi had swallowed as she looked at him, speechless.
“Temi, I’m so serious about you. Believe me, I’m done playing games. This is it for me…”
She had swallowed again, unable to tear her eyes away.
“I think I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with you, Temi.” When she was still speechless, he’d added, “Are you going to leave me hanging here?”
“I don’t know what to say…”
“Tell me you love me too… Don’t overthink it… What do you feel?”
“I… I…” He’d kissed her then. “I just want to be happy…” she’d finally gotten out.
“Then let me…” Michael had kissed her again. “…make you happy…” And again, until she was mush.
This could not go on. What was she going to do?
Oyinda sat uncomfortably in the counsellor’s office, waiting for his wife to show up. He’d already spent fifteen minutes waiting outside the office for her, not wanting to start their session without her. However, the therapist thought he should come inside and they could talk about what the problem was until she showed up. But Oyinda hadn’t been able to say much since.
He looked at his watch. It was now 4:30 pm and the two ticks beside the message he’d sent to Temi asking where she was confirmed that it had been received. He swallowed. He’d already called her office at 4 pm when she wasn’t answering her phone, and they’d confirmed that she’d left early. Where could she be?
“Should we wait a little longer or do you want to reschedule?” the therapist asked.
A muscle ticked on Oyinda’s temple as he clenched his jaw. This was too embarrassing. He shut his eyes and made a decision. He picked up his suit jacket from where it laid beside him and walked out of the room without saying a word.
Dele had heard about Amaka’s sister’s death from the media and was informed of the funeral arrangements when he’d sent her his condolences via text. He’d actually made a point of asking, as he wanted to come and show his support to her. It was a strategic move to take their relationship from business to friendship.
He planned to attend the wake, which was on Thursday evening. The funeral service was to be the following morning and he wouldn’t be chanced to attend. He’d chosen a midnight blue shirt beneath a black suit to wear to work, so that he could come straight from the office. He’d hoped to see her this week, but he understood that some things would have to be placed on hold while she attended to her family crisis.
He now sat in her family living room with the other friends, family and well-wishers that came to show their respects to the dead. He thought the mother of the deceased was very dramatic, as she’d somehow become the focal point in the room, with her occasional emotional outbursts. Amaka and a few other women surrounded her, comforting and praying with her. She got particularly hysterical when a handsome, mixed-race man attended the wake. Amaka had gone to him and they’d both gone outside for a while. Only Amaka had returned.
Dele finally found an opportunity to speak with Amaka that evening.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” he said.
“Thank you,” she replied, soberly.
“If there’s anything you need me to do, don’t be afraid to ask.”
Amaka nodded. “Sure, thanks. I appreciate your kindness.”
“You’re welcome, Amaka. May the Lord comfort your family and give you grace through this ordeal…”
He wished they could have said more, but he didn’t want to be inconsiderate. He let her go to greet her other guests, while he slipped quietly away.
The next morning, he sent her an email on a professional capacity, saying:
“I know this isn’t a good time for you, but I was wondering about the case, if you would still like to proceed with it. I know you were insisting on an apology, but I honestly don’t think it’s your best strategy and wanted to discuss that with you more before going ahead.
If you want my advice, accept the offer, and if he or anyone else from the production company makes another advance, we can sue the company for sexual harassment.”
She’d responded an hour later with:
“No problem. Let’s drop it. Thanks.”
He’d quickly responded with:
“Great! If you need me to look over your employment contract, I’d be happy to. No charge. Have a good day.”
She didn’t respond to the message.
“We are gathered here to say farewell to Adania Uzoma Nkechi and to commit her into the hands of God…” the priest began the funeral service.
Amaka sat with the family of the deceased, solemn in black attire, as the priest ministered. The church hall was full of friends, acquaintances and family, many she hadn’t seen in years. Her heart was heavy with grief, as she observed these last respects paid to her sister. She was to give the eulogy, and she’d taken down a few things to remember. Still, she didn’t feel quite ready.
When she was called upon, Amaka strode to the altar and took the stand. She looked over at the congregation of solemn faces and drew courage to speak.
“Adania and I had a rocky relationship. But she was the most loving person I’ve ever known. She was someone who saw her life as an offering and was always ready to make sacrifices so that others would be happy.
“We were born fourteen months apart. Adania had the brains and was excellent in school. While she relocated with my mother to America, when our parents separated, I stayed back in Nigeria with my father. Whenever she came home for the Christmas break, she would bring me the latest items in fashion and leave her expensive gadgets behind when returning. She was so thoughtful. I later joined her and my mother in the States, after my father died in the year 2000.
“Adania always said she would be an engineer when she grew up, and she was. She studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, USA, with a major in Automotive Engineering. It was no surprise when Adania graduated with a first-class bachelor’s degree. She went on to do her masters and excelled there too.
“At some point, we drifted apart. I moved with different circles, becoming more popular. Yet, I was jealous of my sister. She commanded respect that I couldn’t dream of. But she was so humble, she didn’t know it.” Amaka paused and swallowed, taking a moment to pull herself together, as the tears threatened to cut short her eulogy.
“Now she’s gone, I wish I’d told her these things. I wish I’d told her how much she inspired me, with her independence and strength. I wish I’d told her how proud I was of her, for all she’d been able to achieve. Coming home to set up her own automobile maintenance business in an industry dominated by men is no small feat. And I wish I’d told her how much I loved her.
“Adania, you were my one and only sister, and there’s no day that will go by that I won’t miss you. May your gentle, loving soul rest in peace.”
Jamie attended Adania’s funeral and sat at the back of the church. He’d listened as Amaka gave her eulogy and had been moved with nostalgia. When he thought of everything that had happened to lead to this very moment, he felt sorry. And guilty. If he hadn’t taken advantage of the love he knew she had for him, that night he’d learnt of Amaka’s betrayal, maybe Adania would still be alive today.
Tears streamed down his face. He’d made so many wrong decisions in his life. Yes, God had forgiven him, but here he was living with the consequences. And the pain was unbearable.
When the funeral service concluded, and they were directed to make their way to the graveyard, Jamie was among the first to leave the church. He didn’t know if he’d attend the cemetery. He’d been very embarrassed when Mrs Nkechi had thrown a fit last night at the wake.
As he stepped out of the church, he saw the police cars and then the officers. For a while, he thought they were just security detail, until one of the officers placed a hand on him, and the next thing he felt were cold cuffs on his wrists.
It was like a dream as they told him his charge and read him his rights.
“You are under arrest for the murder of Ms Adania Nkechi. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say and do can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be assigned to you…”
THE END OF SEASON THREE
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