The Second Wife – Episode 5
© Onyinyechukwu Mbeledogu
Soki took a deep breath, let it out slowly and said: ‘I have a predicament and I am hoping you can help me out of it, at least to an extent.’
‘I’m all ears.’
She wondered how much of the truth she should tell him and decided that she might as well tell him everything. His expression did not betray his emotion.
‘How much are we talking about here?’ he asked when she was done.
‘N12.25m,’ she replied, quickly adding, ‘We have been able to raise N6.38m from friends and relatives and the sale of my parents’ cars, my phone and my jewelleries and my mum’s.’
‘Leaving a balance of N5, 870,000.’ He stated after doing a quick mental calculation. ‘That’s a lot of money.’
‘I know. You are Priye and Belema’s brother and I would ordinarily feel really bad about heaping my problems at your feet, but at this point I am out of options.’
Her cousin, Obiorah Achebe was currently out of the country on business and she had no way of contacting him before he returned. She didn’t even have his personal email address because she had always taken it for granted that she could see him whenever she wanted. Even at that, she doubted if she would get the full sum from him considering how much it was. It was a lot of money. Belema Daniel-Hart also would have given her something tangible but he was currently offshore and reaching him was impossible.
‘I am not asking for the entire sum as a loan.’ she continued. ‘I just need whatever you can spare until I can pay you back.’
‘When is the deadline?’ Dienye asked her quietly.
‘Noon, tomorrow.’ she replied. ‘I tried negotiating for an extension but he wouldn’t bulge despite the fact that I had given him a cheque for N6, 380, 000.’
Dienye was silent for some time, obviously deep in thought. He could tell how much this was weighing her down. N5, 870,000.00 was a lot of money. She had told him that her mother was presently having blood pressure issues which he knew could be another cause for concern if not managed and her elder sister was also trying to raise funds from her work place. As a corper, there was a limit to what she could spare and so Soki was taking up most of the responsibility of raising the money. He would give her something to alleviate her problems but what about the balance?
‘I will give you a cheque of N2m, non-refundable,’ he finally told her, ‘but that wouldn’t solve your problem. How do you plan on getting the remaining N3, 870,000?’
‘I have no idea, but I can’t sit and watch. Thanks so much…’
‘How about your father’s friends and relatives?’ he cut in before she could thank him for the money he intended to give her.
He was an amazing person, Soki thought. Who gave that kind of amount without asking for something in return? He was a rare breed.
‘We have met with all of the ones we could see.’
‘Out of the money you have already raised, how much is non-refundable?’ he asked.
‘About N3,400,000.00’ Soki replied.
‘In essence, what you have in addition to the money I would be giving you is N5,400,000.00 as the remaining N2,980,000.00 is still a debt which would have to be repaid.’
‘That means you are left with actually N6,850, 000.’
She didn’t want to think of it that way. She would rather imagine that it was N3,870,00.0 which was far from N6,850,000, but like he said, the reality was the other amount amounted to fresh debts.
‘We tried to raise more, but the others wanted something I couldn’t give to them.’
‘Sex,’ he rightly surmised.
She nodded. ‘And these are supposed to be my father’s friends.’
‘Welcome to the real world, babe.’ He told me. ‘People don’t part with that much money without getting something in return.’
‘I heard but I was hoping to be proved wrong.’
Dienye shook his head and she wondered what was going through his mind. This wasn’t his problem but he was helping her. He was giving her N2m without refund.
‘I would really love to help you with the balance of N3.87m without asking for anything in return,’ he told her, ‘but the amount isn’t child’s play. I am a business man and I know how easily one could be tempted to take a friend’s word for it when it comes to making payments. I can’t completely blame your father for trusting a friend but to have doctored the reports: that was fraudulent. And it is unfair that you have to leave school in order to run around to get him out of trouble. However, I understand your sacrifice and appreciate it because I know a lot of people who wouldn’t do anything in your shoes.’
‘He’s my father. He has made sacrifices for me too. That’s why I am trying my best to raise the balance.’ Soki assured him.
He went silent once more, his mind working. She could tell that he really wanted
to help her and he was probably weighing his options.
‘I would appreciate any amount you can spare,’ she told him. ‘I’ll hustle for the rest.’
‘In such a short time, I have my doubts. It would take nothing short of a miracle.’
‘I don’t have much of a choice in the matter. My father’s boss gave me an option but it is one I would rather not accept.’
His arched eyebrow demanded an explanation.
‘When I approached Nze Maduabuchi, he made an initial offer for me to his mistress for five months, for every outstanding million and in return he would replace the outstanding amount in the company’s account.’
Dienye didn’t look surprised.
‘Yes. His initial offer was five months and if I satisfied him, he would make me his wife. However, he changed his mind and extended it to three years.’
‘Let me guess. He came onto you right there in his office as a way of getting you to accept his offer and revised the terms the moment you rejected him.’
Soki nodded, trying not to think of Nze’s hands on her. She didn’t tell him that Nze had chosen his hotel as the spot for her defilement.
‘He is a ruthless business man and will have his pound of flesh,’ Dienye told her.
‘I can’t date him or be his mistress,’ she told Dienye.
‘Because he is old enough to be your grandfather?’
‘Yes, plus it is against my principles.’
Dienye linked his fingers together before him.
‘So we have established that you presently have only two options: get the balance or give in to your father’s boss’ demand. The latter is something I do not want to happen if I can do anything about it. You are obviously an innocent and it would ruin you for life. I have five sisters and I can imagine what the thought of being with Nze Maduabuchi is doing to you. I would gladly give you the entire balance if I had some sort of collateral for the money.’
‘My father has nothing to offer presently in form of collateral and contrary to what Nze Maduabuchi pointed out, my elder sister and I are not his assets. At least not in that manner.’
‘I am a business man, babe,’ he told her. ‘It wouldn’t make sense to let go of such an amount of money without collateral.’
Soki could understand his plight. He had already done more than she had expected.
‘I will pay you back even if it takes the rest of my life,’ she promised him and she meant it. ‘I can work for free if that’s what it takes.’
‘It wouldn’t be right for me to engage your services without pay.’
She could list a number of men who would gladly do so.
‘You can consider the N3, 870,000 a salary advance.’
‘Not even if you are working for the presidency would you get such a salary advance,’ he smiled, revealing those cute dimples. ‘I can’t do that. You would need the money.’
‘I am not in a position to complain.’
He looked at her and once more she couldn’t read his expression.
‘I believe your father knows nothing about this.’
‘He would rather remain in custody than have me make such sacrifices,’ she responded. ‘It would break his heart if I became his boss’ mistress because of his mistake.’
‘Which you would do if you don’t have the full sum by noon tomorrow.’
‘I would approach the table like a sacrificial lamb and without a fight, but I don’t want to consider it,’ she said feeling dejected and physically shivering from the thought of being with Nze. ‘I had to lie to my elder sister that I had been able to
secure an extension from Nze. I don’t want her worried.’
He said nothing.
‘From what transpired today, I know that becoming Nze’s mistress wouldn’t automatically absolve my father. It would merely give him an opportunity to work out a payment plan, knowing that he won’t be able to raise the sum especially since he would of his own accord resign from Nze’s employment. My father would never continue to work for a man who would use his daughter to his advantage.’
She inhaled and exhaled deeply.
‘Between my father and I, we can work out a payment plan for whatever additional amount you give to us. It would take time but we would pay you back. However, my dad needs to be out of the police custody in order to do this. And I cannot in the interim offer myself to you as collateral. That would be insulting you.’
He arched a well-defined eyebrow.
‘Maybe,’ he responded, enigmatically, stroking his chin, ‘then again, maybe not.’
Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped.
‘I was just teasing you.’ He quickly assured her. ‘Word of advice, sweetheart: never talk about the possibility of offering yourself to a man in his own home before he starts getting ideas. And that includes me. I might be more of a big brother to you, however I am still a man and certainly not perfect.’
She was silent.
‘You can be rest assured that I would never ask you to be my mistress. I have no need or use for such. If I want a woman, then it would be as a wife.’
‘You won’t understand how relieved that makes me feel,’ she said.
Dienye was silent for a very long time. Soki wondered what was going on in his mind. He was watching her but his expression was unreadable. She thought of her father’s boss. If she didn’t get the balance of the money, then she would be the sacrificial lamb. She knew a lot of girls in her situation would say to hell with it, after all they weren’t the ones who were directly involved in the loss of the money. They would rather be supportive during the trial but she didn’t want this going to trial. She was surprised the news of her father’s detention hadn’t been carried by the media, considering how fast bad news flew. Perhaps it was because he wasn’t a politician or the owner of Avresons? Whatever the reason, she was glad.
Detention wasn’t good for anyone let alone her dad and she couldn’t let him continue to suffer for trusting a friend. It could have happened to anyone. She figured some persons would call her stupid for considering sacrificing her own happiness in exchange for his release. A lot of people would judge her if she ended up being Nze’s mistress without understanding the story behind it. Then again, would she be justified in doing it if it came to that? Would she be any different from the prostitute who blames lack of work and family problems for engaging in prostitution? Would she feel less guilty if it was a man like Dienye who had made that proposal and not a man thrice her age?
Had it been Dienye in that Avresons’ office instead of Nze Maduabuchi, would she have pushed him away? No, she would have given in to his kiss, her arms wrapped around his neck or waist as the case may be. Then again, she doubted if Dienye would have come onto her in that manner. Surely, he wouldn’t stoop so low to grope her or try to force himself on her.
She had less than 24 hours to come up with a solution she could live with but something told her that no matter what happened, her life would never be the same again. Until last week, she was a simple, quiet final year law student with a CGPA of over 4.5 and channelling all her energy towards maintaining her CGPA and bagging a first class degree. It was two days to valentine and she didn’t even have plans for it. That was what her life currently was like. No relationships with the opposite sex
unless it was platonic. After all, she was just 21 and had still had years to go before she had to settle down.
She had never been anyone’s girlfriend let alone ever considered the option of being a mistress to a rich man. She wasn’t so naïve that she didn’t know that there were a lot of girls on campus currently occupying that position. For her, there were certain lines people shouldn’t cross. One of them was getting involved with a married man or woman. Well, Nze wasn’t currently married but that made no difference. He was too old for her.
It was so amazing how easily one’s principles can be put to the test by situations one faced which was why one was advised never to judge a person until you have walked a mile in her shoes. Six hours ago, she would have sworn that being a mistress was one thing she would never consider being. She would even have sworn that she would rather be dead or lose a limb than be in that position. But she was her father’s daughter and no sacrifice would be too much for him. Knowing her father, he would never approve of it. He would rather spend the rest of his life in jail but was that really an option? This wasn’t just about him, her immediate family was affected. Her mum’s health was failing as a result of his detention. Her elder sister would be coming into Port Harcourt this weekend leaving everything on hold. Apart from her parents, she was the only one who knew that the deadline hadn’t been extended. Her baby sister needed to be kept in the dark.
Any way she looked at it, the odds were against her.
Dienye might be wealthy but there was a limit to what he could give to her. Being a good man with a big heart and with the added fact that his youngest sister had sent her to him for his assistance, she was putting him in a fix. The only way she was walking away from this with everything intact was if Dienye agreed to issue her a cheque for the outstanding balance. And he wouldn’t do that without collateral. No sane person would. Not even when he wanted to get between your thighs, which is why Soki was certain that being Nze’s mistress wouldn’t automatically mean that the debts were forgiven. It would only mean that her father would be given the opportunity to work off his debt.
She looked at Dienye. He was still watching her, deep in thought. He was probably wondering the best way to get her out of the mess she had found herself in, a mess that wasn’t hers in the first place. He looked away and took a deep breath slowly exhaling. What was going on in his mind? If Dienye couldn’t help her then she was doomed. Three years wasn’t three minutes or three days. It was 1095+ days. That would be too much for anyone even a woman named Endurance.
Soki recalled Dienye’s earlier words to her: ‘So we have established that you presently have only two options: get the balance or give in to your father’s boss’ demand. The latter is something I do not want to happen if I can do anything about it. You are obviously an innocent and it would ruin you for life…’
Dienye suddenly rose to his feet.
‘I need a moment,’ he told her before leaving the room.
He clearly wanted to help her but without collateral, it would be bad for business. He had already done so much by promising to release N2, 000,000 without a refund which was more than should be expected from a man she wasn’t in a relationship with and who wasn’t related to her in any way. It wouldn’t be fair to demand more from him but like Oliver Twist she would appreciate it even if she had to spend the rest of her life paying him back. Besides, she had no doubt that once her father got wind of this he would insist on a payment plan to free her from any promise she made. Better a promise made to Dienye than one made to Nze
To be continued