Two weeks ago, the tension had been thick in the air, filling everyone with dread and discomfort but thanks to the help of everyone, especially Deolu and Teju, there was a breathing space. They had been able to secure the arrest of Fred who was currently under detention, awaiting trial. Lucy felt the freedom to move freely again and was just too happy about it. She immediately went back to work amidst so many protests and complains from her parents but Lucy did not want to risk losing her employment in one of the fast growing advertising firms in Nigeria. She however could not stay there because her boss gave her leave for one month, wanting her to get everything settled before she finally resumed. Even though she had wanted her job to take her mind off the problems she faced, she was grateful for the break, even though she knew that she would pay for it when she finally resumed because they would wear her out with duties.
Lucy remembered the day that her parents had gone to Raymond’s house. They had been so excited when they arrived, talking endlessly about their discussions with Raymond. They had exclaimed, asking why she did not tell them that he was the well-known artist. They had returned with a painting and Lucy noticed that she hadn�t seen that particular painting when she entered that room. Even though the paintings had been much and she could hardly see half of them, she had the distinctive feeling that the painting was new. That was probably the reason why he gave the painting to her parents; to tell her that he had moved on. She felt happy for him if that was the case, although, she had wished that Raymond would send her parents to her, to either tell her something or request something but he hadn�t. it had alarmed her when she noticed just how much she missed and desired to see him.
Teju entered the room and jumped on Lucy�s bed. Bewaji and Ken had gone for a wedding function and Lucy had had the house to herself. �Hey beautiful� Teju called.
Lucy glanced at the wall clock and stared at Teju. �Are you not supposed to be at work?�
�You are not the only one who can be given leave, durr� Teju grinned. She grabbed Lucy�s hand and dragged her. �Get your sorry a$$ out of bed, I am hungry�
�Holy father� Lucy exclaimed, wanting to beat up Teju for disturbing her brain. �You know that Dana is in the kitchen right?� she murmured as Teju continued to drag her into the kitchen.
�Yeah, she is. But since when did she start serving my food? I am in my house babe�
�The more reason why you should serve yourself� Lucy responded, although admitted secretly that she was hungry too.
�You see? You are also hungry�
Lucy glared at her. �You are a witch�
She laughed. �And you are a witch�s best friend. And as the saying goes, show me your friend and I would tell you who you are or who you would be� she grinned.
Lucy shook her head. �you need deliverance�
�I would book appointment for two with the pastor�
Dana laughed out at the two friends who could not stop teasing each other. She loved listening and watching them and suddenly wished she also had a best friend.
�Tell me we are not the cause of your laughter� Lucy murmured and Dana portrayed an innocent face. The two laughed and left the kitchen for the dinning with their plates of rice in hand. They prayed and delved into the food with vigor, only relaxing when the food was halfway through and the worst part of hunger had been eliminated. �T.J� Lucy called.
�Yes ma�am� Teju replied cynically.
�I want you to follow me somewhere�
�Be serious my friend� Lucy snapped.
�I have never been this serious honey� she grinned and Lucy sighed.
�I need you to follow me to Raymond James� house. I need to thank him personally for what he did for me. I don�t want to seem ungrateful�
Teju stared at Lucy. �You have been calling him Raymond ever since you arrived but calling him Raymond James makes him sound different. Why does that name sound popular?� she looked thoughtful and Lucy smiled internally. She had successfully hid that fact from Teju knowing fully well that she would squeal when she found out. �Surely it is not James Ray� she waved her hand like she was wiping away the possibility but when Lucy smiled cynically, Teju�s eyes rounded like two lolly pops. �He is not the one right?�
Lucy grinned. �Guess I was lucky to see your James Ray before you�
�Oh my God!� Teju exclaimed and Lucy laughed. �When were you planning on telling me, naughty� she scolded.
�Now, I guess� so are you coming with me?�
�Are you kidding? I would get there before you�. They laughed. As they packed their plates to the kitchen, someone knocked and Dana went to open the door. They entered the sitting room and saw Deolu approaching them with a cool smile
�Hello ladies� he greeted and they responded albeit similarly. He kissed Luciana�s forehead and stepped back. Lucy noticed that he hadn�t been the same since he returned from Abuja. He had made a habit of kissing her forehead instead of any other place and Lucy was happy about this turn up. She felt guilty for not being able to return his feelings and having him kiss her all the time would make her feel more guilty and awkward. Despite that fact though, she was curious. Apart from Deolu�s strange behaviour�s of late, she had also noticed Teju�s discomfort whenever Deolu was around. She wondered what had happened in Abuja. It seemed Teju was back to her usual aloaf nature whenever Deolu was around even though they seemed like the best of friends when Lucy came back from exile. She had shrugged it off, feeling that Teju�s reactions towards Deolu had something to do with Tunde and her general distance from men lately but Lucy decided that there was something more to it. Teju hardly talked or looked at Deolu lately and Deolu did the opposite. He looked at her more and tried to talk to her more even though Teju was always reluctant to answer him. The next line of action was that Teju always looked for a reason to leave whenever Deolu was around. Lucy expected to feel jealous and put-off by this new turn-up but she was not.
As they discussed, Lucy noticed this same thing repeating itself. She noticed the look of sadness in Deolu�s face whenever he stared at Teju and Teju paid him no heed and only looked at him when their faces collided coincidentally. Lucy was about to break the ice and speak her mind when Deolu�s phone rang.
�Hello dear� he said immediately he picked the call. �No, don�t come to my house� yes, I am not home� where are you now?… ok� I am not far from you, I am in my fiancee�s house� Yes, it is about time you met her� I would send the address now� he hung up and smiled.
�My step-sister is coming. She has been clamouring to see you�. Lucy smiled.
�I should be on my way now� Teju said, standing.
�Why not meet my sister first?� Deolu asked.
�No. I have some work to do�
�Thought you were on leave� Lucy said
�It is not official. See you guys�
Before anyone could reply, she was out already and Lucy glimpsed a look of pain on Deolu�s face but it went quickly. She swallowed as her mind brought up the most logical explanation for the tension.
Raymond sat in his office ruminating over the events in his life. His life hadn�t felt so shattered. He almost could not believe that those things were actually happening to him. He had been sleeping with Tinuke ever since they were together as she never returned pregnant because he always took precautions and watched her take drugs but just when he decided to vent his anger through sex, it ended up being a terrible mistake. He was going to be a dad!
He recalled the visit of Luciana�s parents and sighed audibly. He had needed no introduction to know that they were her parents. Lucy looked exactly like her mum. Her mum had been so stunningly beautiful that he wondered how beautiful she would still look when she clocked ninety. She was dazzling and breathtaking, no wonder Lucy�s father was glowing. His life must feel blessed, being surrounded by two dazzling beauties. He noticed that Lucy had her father�s shape of pointed nose. He swallowed as Luciana�s image popped in his mind. He could remember everything about her, including the colour shade of her hair although he hadn�t been opportune to feel the texture much even though he would love nothing more.
Raymond drove all thought of Luciana away from his brain. He knew now without a doubt that there could be nothing between them. Even though Luciana�s parents had given him the goodnews of the arrest of the miserable bas***d that stabbed Lucy, Raymond still saw the overwhelming barreer between them. Lucy was with a man already and he felt that she should also be in love with the guy. If that was not enough reason, being saddled with a baby was more than enough reason. He dared not visit Lucy even though her parents had dropped their address in case he wanted to visit.
After he left the hospital, he had wanted to drink himself to death but Vicky would not hear of it. He drove out of the house to get a drink outside after he had successfully sent Tinuke away with a promise to call her. He had spotted a church � the same church Lucy dragged him to – and instead of going for the drink, he went to the church to vent his anger on God. A pastor had sighted him and prayed with him, relieving him of a lot of stress by talking to him. Despite all that, Raymond�s craving for Lucy did not decrease. He was madly in love with her but could not do anything about it. There are times when you have to put responsibility before love.
Vicky opened the door and jumped back, not wanting to be too close to Duke. �Ray is not here. Go to his office� she hurriedly said.
�If I wanted to see him, I would not be here� he said confidently, closing the door behind him. Vicky shivered and he smiled. �If I didn�t know better, I would say my presence had some effects on you�. She remained mute, moving backwards slowly as he advanced towards her. �Don�t look frightened, I am not a serial killer� he murmured as he took in her appearance. She was putting on a multicoloured tube top with a pencil jeans trouser. A jeans jacket was lying on the couch. �You look beautiful� he breathed as she collided with the wall and he pinned her to it with his hands on either side.
�I always do� she swallowed, angry that her heart raced wild. She remembered Lucy�s words. �You would not have to try�. Vicky shook off the words from her head. She cant be falling for Duke. No!
Duke brushed away some stray braids from her face as his eyes probed hers. He bent his head and gave her a quick kiss and vanished instantly, leaving her with a sense of loss. She followed him with her eyes as he headed towards the kitchen. He turned and met her eyes. He smiled softly. �Come on, you need something to eat. Your stomach is growling with hunger�
Vicky hadn�t noticed how hungry she was until he mentioned it and she wondered how he noticed. She entered the kitchen as Duke broke and whezzed some eggs. �Do you actually know what you are doing� she had a faint smile on her face.
He turned with a smile. �Cut the crap, I am not Raymond who can�t boil an egg, I could open up a restaurant if I want to�
�Don�t be so sure. Lucy taught him well and now, I let him do the cooking at times and he surprises me with delicious delicacies�
He laughed. �I would like to taste that� He took a deep breath and turned back to face what he was doing. He got a pan and placed it on the burner to heat up and Vicky walked to him, standing beside him. She retrieved two cups from the cup stand and started putting beverages into them. Duke breathed uncomfortably. �Could you please put on that jacket I saw on the couch? Your bare shoulders in too much distraction�.
She smiled. �I prefer the cool breeze I am getting without the jacket�
He groaned internally and knew that keeping his hands away from her would be difficult.
They sat to eat some minutes later and resisted the urge to sit beside her and sat opposite. Vicky was disturbed by her attraction towards Duke. The eggs tantalized her taste buds and she became instantly aware of her empty stomach. She murmured praises as she ate and Duke watched her, not knowing that one could derive pleasure from watching someone eat. He managed to shove food down his throat when the only thing he wanted to do was watch Vicky eat. When she finished her eggs, he passed his own to her and she accepted it without hesitating. She must be really hungry, he mussed.
�You should try to avoid being too hungry before you eat� he quipped.
�You should try to make less delicious eggs, so that people don�t get too hungry� she returned and he grinned.
�it is not my fault that I am so talented�
�Don�t blow your own� she smiled. He looked into her eyes until she was forced to look away.
�I should be leaving now� he said, rising. She packed the plates into the kitchen even though he wanted to do it. She started washing the plates and he grabbed the towel to dry them.
�Thought you were leaving� she murmured as he took the plates from her and dried them.
�Yes� he said.
�I wanted to steal something from you before I leave� he dried the last plate.
She faced him. �What is that�
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply, making her head spin. He held her so close to him, with his hands on her shoulders. He broke off breathlessly and kissed her forehead. �Take care of you� he said and walked out.
Deolu and Luciana sat on the couch watching a movie. The movie was so emotional and touching. When we heard the knock, Deolu stood up and headed towards the entrance. �That must be Tinu� he said.
Immediately he opened the door, Lucy heard a familiar voice and also went to the entrance.
�Big brother� Tinu hugged Deolu. �Still as handsome as ever� she said
�And you are even more beautiful. You even look fatter�
Tinuke smiled, knowing the cause of her weight but not even daring to mention it.
Immediately Deolu and Tinuke heard someone approach, they turned and Tinuke froze, along with Lucy.
Deolu smiled, not noticing the tension. �Tinu, meet my sweetheart Luciana, Lucy, meet my sister, Tinuke�
�Brenda� Tinuke exclaimed.
�No. not Brenda, I said Luciana�
�No. this is the girl that I said stole my Raymond from me. This is Brenda� Tinuke exclaimed.
…To be continued