Eru returned home from work in the evening, tired and hungry. He had given his sweet heart a spare key to his two bedroom apartment. He wanted her to feel free to visit at anytime she wanted, whether he was in or out. He really liked her. He had planned to propose to her by the end of the month. He didn’t want to waste any time, he was ready to settle down and begin a new marital life with her. The moment he walked into the sitting room, the sight that beheld him weakened his knees. He found Bina sleeping on the settee, surrounded by piles of dirty plates, cups, glasses, mugs, cutleries, wrappers of chocolates, biscuits and candies. The room was in a complete mess. What if he had come home with a friend or worse his siblings? How would they have perceived her? He pulled off his jacket and marched into the master bedroom. He found the room in disarray. Her clothes, shoes and bag were scattered on the unmade bed, and the pillows were thrown in every direction.
What is the meaning of this?
He dropped his car keys and phones in the wardrobe and hung his jacket. He returned to the sitting room and met her still sleeping. He hissed and strode into the kitchen. The sink was unbelievably full! There were dirty pots, plates, glasses and pans in it. The cupboards were open. The floor was smeared with all sorts of paste and liquid he couldn’t discern. He felt blood drain from his face.
“What the hell is this?!” he hurried out and returned to the sitting room, “Bina! Bina! Ibinabo!”
She opened her eyes. She heard her name. She pulled herself up in a sitting position. Was Eru back from work? Maybe she was dreaming.
She blinked and sighted him ten feet away. She wasn’t dreaming. He was home, clad in a pair of black shiny trousers, a white long sleeve shirt and a long black tie. He looked angry. What was wrong? She pulled her weight up and approached him.
“Welcome home,” she stretched out her hands and yawned.
“What is the meaning of this?” he glared at her.
She squinted her sleepy eyes. What was he talking about?
“Did I commit a crime by giving you the key to my house?” he placed both hands on his hips.
She shook her head.
“Why have you decided to turn my apartment into a dumpsite?”
She opened her mouth, and then closed it.
“The sitting room is a mess, my bedroom looks like a train ran over it and my kitchen is no different from a pigsty.”
She blinked and stared back at him. Was he upset because the house was a little untidy? She looked around her.
“Is that why you came home screaming my name as if…” she glanced back at him, “As if the house is on fire.”
He narrowed his gaze. Her response fueled his anger. Her lack of remorse baffled him.
“We can get someone to clean it up,” she said lackadaisically.
“What happened to your hands?” he looked her up and down.
“Fine! I will clean it up,” she returned to the settee and lay on her tummy. When she wakes up, she would clean his house and go home. At least, no one stresses her there with house-work.
He glanced sideways. His annoyance was at a boiling point, “Will you get into that kitchen this minute and clean all that mess…” he moved towards the chair and pulled her by the leg.
She fell on the rugged floor and scrambled to her feet, “You know you have gone mad!” she pointed a finger at him.
His astonished gaze remained on her enraged face.
“Something is wrong with your brain,” she tapped the side of her face with a finger.
He placed a hand on his chest, “Are you talking to me?”
“Are you daft or something? Do you see anyone else around here?” her coffee coloured eyes darted left and right, “Of course I am talking to you.”
He took several steps backward, turned around and hurried into the master bedroom. He picked up her shoes, bag and clothes which were scattered all over the bed and returned to the sitting room. He threw them at her and pointed at the front door. She followed his gaze and started to laugh.
“Leave my house,” her laughter infuriated him.
She clapped her hands, “You are funny.”
“Bina leave my house! Or else…”
“Or else what?” she approached him, closed the gap between them and eyed him.
He pushed her away, “Leave this minute or else, I will beat you into a pulp,” he warned her.
She staggered and looked back at him. She felt as if a screw had loosened in her brain.
Like a flash of light, she leapt at him and held him by the collar, “Beat who? Your Mama abi? Who do you think you are? The Undertaker or Hulk Hogan?”
He pushed her and tried to loosen his collar from her choking grip, but, she held unto him. Her strength astounded him.
“I am warning you,” he tapped a finger on her forehead.
“Try it now. You think I am one of those spineless girls out there.”
“Let go,” he pushed her again. The buttons of his shirt started coming off one after the other.
“You must beat me today. Thank God we have only dated for three months. It is not too late to call it off.”
His throat went dry and he started to choke. He coughed and hit her across the face. She released him, dazed that he had just hit her.
“Get…” he coughed, “Get… get out of my flat!”
She held her hurting cheek, still in shock.
“Out!” he pointed at the door and pulled off his torn shirt.
She took a few steps towards him and slapped him twice on both sides of the face. Caught unawares, he staggered and almost fell. She lurched herself at him and held his trousers. The next thing he knew, her teeth had gone deep into the skin of his stomach. He cried out in pain and kicked her with one of his legs. She released him and fell on the tiled floor. He held his tummy and noticed that he was bleeding. Horrified, he dashed into his bedroom and hurried into the bathroom. He found the first aid box on the wooden shelf nailed to the wall and flung it open.
Ibinabo picked up her clothes, shoes and bag on the floor and headed out. She had a satisfied look on her face. Next time, he would think twice before laying a finger on her. She wore her blouse over the spaghetti top and slipped into her jeans. She got into her shoes and approached the gate. She smoothened her jet black back-length hair. The security guard allowed her out of the building. She stood by the closed gate and looked around her. The street was dark and empty. How was she going to get home? She thought of calling her grandmother’s driver, and then decided against it. Tjay crossed her mind. She wondered if he would come and pick her up if she called him. They had not spoken to each other for a long time. It was all her fault. Why did she always drive her friends away?
They lay on the bed and watched a movie on the twenty inch flat screen television. He turned his head and glanced at her. They had been dating for the past two months and he had no regrets. She was homely, kind and industrious. Despite the fact that she was attractive, she didn’t allow her physical beauty to get into her head. She could relate with anyone, regardless of their social status. She was definitely a wife material and he wished he had asked her out earlier. Nevertheless, it was better late than never. He heard the ringing of his phone. He reached out for it on the stool beside the bed and checked the caller’s identity. He blinked and sat up immediately. He had not heard from her since she started dating the Prado jeep guy. What was his name?
“Tjay hi… please, I need your help.”
The sound of her voice made his heart jump, “Are you okay?”
“Yes, no… please, can you come and pick me up?”
He glanced at the wall clock. It was fifteen minutes past nine, “Where are you?”
“I am in Ilupeju, on the street close to Sweet Sensation.”
“Okay, go to the eatery and wait for me.”
“Oh goody! Thanks.”
Her excited voice warmed his heart. He hung up and got down from the bed. She sat up and looked up at him.
“Are you going out?”
“Yes,” he took out a shirt from the wardrobe, “I need to pick up a friend. She is stranded.”
“Bina,” he zipped the jeans and straightened the collar of the red tee-shirt.
He nodded. He had told her about his childhood friend, but, he left out the part that he had always loved her.
“Can I come?” Adiza got down from the bed.
He shrugged and picked up his car keys on the stool. He switched off the television and the ceiling fan. She slipped on her slippers and followed him out of the apartment. She had not been introduced to his childhood friend since they had started dating because of the rift between them. She had seen Ibinabo at a distance a couple of times, but, they had never crossed paths. Finally, they were going to meet.
She stood outside Sweet Sensation and awaited the arrival of her childhood friend. She regretted the way she had been treating him. What was wrong with her? Amongst her friends, he was the only one that stood by her, yet, she made him miserable. She had learnt her lesson. She won’t make that mistake ever again. She recognized the blue Toyota Corolla the moment it halted at the side of the road. She noticed that he wasn’t the only one in the car. There was a fair skinned lady seated at the front seat. Who was she? She got into the passenger seat and thanked him.
“Bina, meet my girlfriend, Adiza,” he seized her up. She looked okay, although a little bit unruffled.
Her eyes widened in surprise. She looked from him to the fair lady and back at him. When did he start dating?
“Hi…” Adiza turned around and smiled at her. Her boyfriend’s childhood friend was very pretty and much more physically endowed than she was. Many men would die to date the likes of her.
Bina waved a hand at her and forced a smile. It didn’t reach her eyes.
“She lives in my compound and also works at PHCN,” he added.
“How convenient…” she said to herself and folded a hand across her chest. It had been a while since she had shared her friend with another woman.
Tjay stopped the car in front of her house fifteen minutes later. She thanked him and got down.
“I would really like to speak with you,” she directed her gaze at him.
He glanced at his girlfriend and back at her, “We will talk tomorrow.”
She frowned, “What about tonight?”
“Don’t be selfish, you can see that I am with someone,” Tjay eyed her.
“Fantastic,” she backed away from the car, “Where is my friend when I needed him most?”
He eyed her again, “You haven’t been friendly lately.”
“Fine! Enjoy yourself,” she glanced at the fair lady, “Nice meeting you,” she turned around and walked up to the gate. She knocked and was let into the house by the security guard.
He sighed and shook his head. She would never change, he thought.
“Maybe you should drop me off and come back to see her,” Adiza tried to suggest.
“No… don’t mind her,” he started the car.
“She is an only child who is used to getting her way all the time. I will see her tomorrow,” he assured her.
“A spoiled brat?” She raised an eyebrow.
“Exactly,” he winked at her.
They both started to laugh.
She sat on a wooden stool outside the bungalow, breaking the shells and chewing the boiled groundnuts in it. The empty shells were littered on the ground in heaps of tens and twenties. It was noon already and her friend had not shown up. She had called him several times and left him lots of messages. Where was he? Maybe with his new girlfriend. A frown creased her brow. She couldn’t remember the last time she competed for his attention with another girl. He rarely dated. She didn’t know why and never bothered to ask. She had been a very bad friend to him. He cared a lot about her and she had always taken him for granted. The security guard opened the gate and someone walked in. Her face brightened when she saw him.
“Where is your car?”
“Adiza needed it,” he approached her.
She raised an eyebrow. How many men would allow their girlfriends to drive their cars?
He found a plastic chair at a corner and placed it beside the stool.
“What took you so long?” she eyed him.
“I am here now, aren’t I?” he looked around him and shook his head, “You will never change.”
“What?” she followed his gaze and saw the empty shells of groundnut all over the ground, “Mrs. Ekaette will clean it up. Care for some?” she passed him the big bowl of boiled groundnuts. He dipped his hand into the bowl and grabbed some.
“What were you doing in Ilupeju last night?”
She threw some groundnuts into her mouth, “I went to visit Eru.”
“Oh… so he lives in Ilupeju?” the groundnuts tasted fresh in his mouth.
She nodded in affirmation and swallowed.
“Why didn’t he give you a ride home?”
She frowned, “We had a fight.”
“Lover’s quarrel,” he chuckled.
She snorted, “It was more or less like wrestle mania.”
“How?” he directed his gaze at her.
She placed the bowl on her laps, “He slapped me.”
His eyes widened in surprise.
“And I slapped him back, twice.”
His jaw dropped in astonishment. He was against men hitting women, regardless of what they said or did. Although Ibinabo was a handful and could bring out the worst in anyone, but, her boyfriend went too far by hitting her.
“I also bit him in the tummy until he bleed,” there was a satisfied look in her eyes.
He shook his head in amazement.
“Stop staring at me like that, I am not a vampire,” she started breaking some of the groundnut shells.
“You never stop to surprise me. What did you do that… that made him react that way?” his worried stare searched her face.
She threw away the groundnuts in her hands and faced him, “What sort of question is that?”
“Why did he slap you?” he pressed.
She hissed and looked away, “Just because… because… he… he said I turned his flat into a pigsty.”
He closed his eyes and sighed heavily.
“And then, he… he ordered me to clean the apartment,” she rose, “Am I his maid or a slave?”
He opened his eyes and looked up at her. Her coffee brown eyes flashed with annoyance, “If you made the mess, you are supposed to clean it up.”
“What, what, what? On whose side are you on? Men!” she hissed and sat back on the stool.
“I am not defending him,” he noticed that she was in a pair of white shorts which barely covered her dark smooth chocolate thighs. Her matching white spaghetti top barely covered her cleavage. He turned away and looked towards the gate, “Men shouldn’t hit women, ever.”
“Eh-hen,” it pleased her that he wasn’t taking sides with Eru.
“He had no right,” he frowned at the thought that she had been hurt.
“True, and to think that I actually liked him,” she hissed again.
He stared at her. She seemed sad. He felt a throbbing ache in his heart. He had not been able to stop loving her, despite the fact that he was dating another, “If he likes you too, he will come back.”
“Really?” coffee coloured sad eyes met brown assuring ones.
“Yes, but, you need to change.”
She lowered her gaze, “I know, I will, it’s never intentional, I just…” a tear slid down her face.
He reached out for her hand and squeezed it, “It is going to be all right.”
The security guard opened the gate. A Prado jeep drove in, followed by a Toyota Corolla. They both got up, holding hands. Eru parked the car and got out. Adiza got out of the vehicle and approached them.
“What are you doing here?” she lashed out at Eru.
He raised his hands and walked up to her, “Please hear me out.”
“I have to go,” Tjay dropped her hand.
She turned towards him, “Okay. Thanks,” her warm gaze observed him.
He smiled, “You know I will always be here for you.”
Bina nodded and pulled him close in a hug. She felt safe in his arms.
Adiza watched them. Seeing her man in another woman’s arms regardless of the fact that they were just friends didn’t make it less painful.
Tjay pulled away and faced Eru, “It is nice seeing you again.”
“And you too,” Eru eyed him. Seeing his woman hugging another didn’t sit well with him.
Tjay put his hand around Adiza and they walked back to his car. They got in and he drove out of the large compound.
“Bina…” the plea his eyes tugged at her heart.
She seized him up, hissed and walked into the house.
He hurried after her and reached out for her hand.
“Don’t touch me!” she glared at him.
“Please… I know I over-reacted that night. I was upset.”
“Oh-oooh,” she hissed, eyed him and went straight to her bedroom.
He followed her, “I am sorry. I promise that I will never ever raise a hand against you again.”
She eyed him and folded her hands across her bosom.
“Please forgive me,” he sounded remorseful.
She met his pleading dark gaze and nodded in acceptance, “All right. I forgive you.”
“Thank you,” he sighed with relief and beamed.
She dropped her gaze and stared at his tummy.
“Don’t worry,” he placed a hand on his stomach.
She lifted her eyes and met his smiling ones.
“It still hurts, but, I am fine.”
She paled, “I am sorry.”
“It is okay,” he assured her, “You have very sharp set of teeth.”
She pouted her lips, “I am not a vampire.”
He raised his hands, “Far be it from me to abhor such nasty thoughts.”
She chuckled and leaned against the wall. She looked up at him and felt the heat of his perusal.
“You look sexy,” he seized her up.
“Go away jo,” she walked past him and sat on the un-made bed.
Eru looked around the room and the desire within him dissolved. The room was untidy. Was this what he was going to face if he married her?
Was he ready for that kind of life? He made enough money and could afford to employ a maid, but, he needed his wife to be at least organized. He really liked her and hoped she wasn’t beyond change.
“Why don’t you change into something and let’s eat out?” he suggested.
“Yippee!” she jumped off the bed and rushed to the wardrobe.
“I will… wait in the sitting room,” he backed out of the room, closed the door and let out a loud breath.
…To be continued