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 TWO
Copyright © Ufuomaee
Ope got home about 8pm, just in time for dinner. The table was already set, and the food laid out, wrapped or otherwise covered. Promise was neither in the kitchen nor living room. She hadn’t come down to greet him at the door today, which signified that she was upset.
Ope sighed. He had to remember that however he felt, he had forgiven Promise for her promiscuous past. And more than that, she’d been broken and abused, and he really needed to be sensitive to give her the opportunity to express her feelings about what happened between her and Richard. He couldn’t afford to hurt her by disregarding her experience of abuse. He remembered his promise to protect and love her unconditionally, and prayed for grace.
He took the stairs in the exquisite duplex apartment they had moved into, while they leased out their home. The apartment was closer to the hotel, and more convenient for Promise, who often worked late at the hotel. He walked the short corridor to their suite, and pushed open the door, which was ajar. Promise was on the bed, reading a book. She looked up when he walked in.
“Hi,” she greeted, sitting up in bed.
“Hi,” Ope said. He took off his suit jacket, kicked off his shoes and undid his tie. Promise just watched him. Normally, she would have risen to hug and kiss him, and help him get comfortable. “Are you upset with me?”
“It depends… Are you going to work with him?”
Ope frowned. “We rescheduled the meeting.” He slipped out of his trousers and sat on the bed, with only his boxers, vest and socks on. As he pulled off his socks, and tucked them into his shoes, he asked, “Do I need to know what happened between you two?”
Promise closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. She remembered how frightened she had been to see Richard this afternoon, when he'd shown up at her office. She remembered his arrogance and the wicked things he had said. She doubted Ope knew his friend at all. Ope was always such a good judge of character… How could someone as rotten as Richard be his friend?
Ope reached out to hold his wife’s hand. She was visibly shaking. Who was Richard to her? He drew closer to her and touched her face. “Tell me. I can take it.”
Ope had given the file submitted by Richard to his Assistant to look over, and run through with their Accountant, and get back to him before noon the following day. He’d done that because he knew that he wouldn’t be able to process the information that night, nor for a few days after, as he got his emotions in check. He always wanted to weigh his options well, when making a business decision.
However, after what Promise had told him last night, he was struggling with the right action to take. How could Richard pretend that he didn’t even know her, or even think he would receive any favours from him? How had he even been able to look him in the face, after what he had done to his wife?! Though Ope couldn’t call it rape, Richard had to have known that Promise was being exploited. And to have punched her face in the way he had done…?
Ope was getting mad again. He should have gone for her… Why had he been so stubborn? He couldn’t help blaming himself for the things Promise suffered at Tony’s hands.
The last he had heard, Tony was still being held at Kirikiri Medium Security Prison…awaiting trial four years later for abducting 14 young girls! Despite the horrors of the prison system in Nigeria, he could not pity Tony. He just hoped he would not be freed without due reformation, as was known to happen.
Now, how was he going to deal with Richard? What would Jesus do? Ope didn’t know the answer to that prompt by the Holy Spirit, and what scared him was that he didn’t want to know. This wasn’t about Jesus. This man was intimidating his wife, after sexually and physically abusing her… Right now, Ope didn’t have the mind of Christ. There was no room for mercy here!
Keisha left work a little early, that Friday, to go home and change into something more befitting of a night out. She also touched up her make-up and re-did her hairstyle. She was dressed to kill when she left her apartment in Victoria Island to meet Ifeanyi at Churrascos. She was going to be a little late because of the detour, but it was worth it. Besides, it was always sexy for a lady to be fashionably late, she thought.
He was sitting by the bar, when she came into the restaurant. She was excited to see that he was alone. For a while, she had wondered if he would have chosen to come with his wife. She didn’t think he would, but she had still considered that possibility. She would have simply turned around and gone home, without him being any wiser.
She tapped his shoulder, and he turned around. His smile was genuine, and so was his greeting. “Hey, Keisha. You look lovely.” She smiled. She was going for “amazing”, but lovely wasn’t too bad.
“Thanks!” she replied and received him in a hug, when he stood up from his stool.
“I didn’t know if you would like to sit inside or outside, so I decided I’d wait at the bar.”
“Oh, no problem. I’m good anywhere,” she said.
“Sure… I think outside would be nice, tonight. I noticed they have a band playing.”
“Yeah… That would be nice…” and romantic, she thought. Man, she really had to cool it. He has broken your heart like a thousand times! Remember why you came! She swallowed, as she followed him outside.
They took their seats by the water, and a waiter brought menus to their table. The band wasn’t too loud, so they could hear themselves. However, the music was loud enough for their conversation to be private. They were playing some Mexican tunes, and the place was lively. Keisha was really beginning to wonder why Ifeanyi had asked her to dinner. Was this really just platonic?
“So, why this invitation, Ifeanyi? You’re not still throwing your charm around, are you?” she asked, with a raised brow and a cheeky smile.
Ifeanyi couldn’t help giggling, though it really wasn’t funny. It was just the way Keisha had said it. He swallowed. “Well, actually… I wanted you to meet my wife. Well, to be honest, she really wanted to meet with you…”
Keisha just stared at him as if it was a joke. In that same moment, a lady turned around from her seat behind Ifeanyi, and Keisha recognised the woman who had won! The woman she hated. Oh, how she wished she could stand up and run, or that the ground would swallow her up! She swallowed, hard.
“Hi, Keisha,” Mary said, standing up and going to sit beside her husband, while holding Keisha’s gaze. Her short, blue, off the shoulder, stripy jumpsuit was simple, yet sexy, showing off her mature curves. She added, sweetly, “I hope you don’t mind if I join you guys…”
Keisha just shook her head lightly, and looked away, before looking back at Ifeanyi, accusation and hurt in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t honest with you about bringing Mary along… I just thought you may not show up if you knew,” Ifeanyi said, with a small smile.
Keisha let out a breath she didn’t know she had been holding. “It’s fine. Nice to meet you, Mary,” she said, at last, extending her hand to shake Mary’s. Mary took it warmly, and gave Keisha a genuine smile.
“So, anybody interested in some grilled steaks?” Ifeanyi asked, smiling cheerfully, hoping to break the ice.
Keisha was hungry, but she had lost her appetite. She didn’t answer him. She just studied her menu, wondering if she could sit through a meal with the happy couple.
“I’ll have the grilled chicken. And I’d love to have it with the prawn fried rice instead of chips,” Mary said, closing her menu. She’d already studied it while waiting for Keisha to show up.
Ifeanyi called the waiter and placed his order of medium rare steak and sautéed potatoes. He asked Keisha again what she would want to eat. She said she hadn’t made up her mind, so Ifeanyi asked them to grill another steak, just in case.
Keisha kept her face in her menu, trying to control the emotions flowing through her. She might have been happy about this meeting, if she had been prepared…if she had had the upper hand. But now, she felt exposed and very uncomfortable.
Ifeanyi sighed deeply. “Keisha,” he waited for her to look at him. He repeated himself, when she didn’t. “Keisha, I really appreciated the call you made apologising for the pictures and messages you sent me on Valentine’s Day. But I am still wondering why you sent them… We’ve been thinking maybe it’s because of our history together… But, I just wanted to know, what you were thinking… What were you hoping to achieve?”
Ifeanyi didn’t want to start off accusatory, and he hadn’t planned to start that way, but he felt that was the best place to start addressing the issues between them.
“Nothing. It was just a joke…” Keisha lied.
“What about the slap? At the party?” he pressed on.
“I was just playing…”
“Keisha, I think you’re angry. And that’s okay, if you know how to deal with it. I know I really hurt you… I really wish I could change that, but I can’t. But the least you deserve from me is a sincere apology. And I’m really sorry it has taken me this long to apologise.”
Keisha just looked at him, trying hard to conceal her emotions.
“Keisha, I’m sorry for every time I cheated on you. For every time I flirted with other women while we were together, even in your presence. For all the times I made you feel less than the beautiful, desirable woman that you are. I am so sorry I took you for granted. For not calling you and leaving you alone for days. For every time I lied. For every stupid thing I did to make you cry!”
“Yeah… You were a real asshole!” Keisha chuckled, trying to lighten the moment. She looked at Mary, as if seeing her for the first time. She was glowing like a woman who was loved, not like Keisha was. She was jealous of her, but she also felt like she had been wasting her life pining for someone that was never hers. It was time she moved on.
“Yes, I was. And I can’t imagine how those years have affected your self-esteem, or even your relationships with men. Keisha, please forgive me. I really don’t want to see you throw away your future because of your past with me. You deserve a good man.”
“It’s okay, Ifeanyi. I forgive you.”
Ifeanyi swallowed. “Thank you. That means a lot. I really hope we can be friends…or friendly at least.”
Keisha smiled. “Sure.”
“Thanks, Keisha,” Mary added, with a small smile.
Keisha just nodded. She sighed as she studied her menu again. She figured she might as well order something. Now they had had the tough conversation, it was time to see if they could really be friends.
“Ummm… I think I’ll have the grilled prawns. And the crab balls. And the steak, with chips!”
“Wow, you must be hungry…” Ifeanyi giggled.
“You have no idea!” And they all chuckled.
Dinner was not such a tedious affair, after all. The conversation was slow to pick up, but it eventually got going. Mary and Ifeanyi had been considerate to keep their passion for each other concealed, by not touching, kissing, caressing nor exchanging any of their love names and messages in front of Keisha. They acted like platonic friends who really liked and respected each other, and Keisha didn’t feel left out of their conversations.
Ifeanyi had excused himself at one time to make a call, which gave Mary the opportunity to talk to Keisha, woman to woman. That had also gone down surprisingly well. Keisha and Mary both had the experience of having their hearts broken by Ifeanyi, and though Mary never trash talked him nor encouraged it, she did feel talking about her hurt and anger at that time, and how she overcame it was a testimony that would inspire many women.
Keisha, who had never read Mary’s short story, He Cheated!, appreciated hearing about what happened from Mary’s own mouth. She was even more awed to learn that Mary and the woman who had tried to steal her husband were now friends.
Despite herself, Keisha liked Mary. But she really couldn’t see them being friends in this lifetime.
To be continued…
Photo credit: www.pixabay.com
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