‘When are you going to introduce us to the woman in your life?’ Okey Alessandro Ekwueme asked his brother Toni.
Toni raised an eyebrow at the man who could easily [email protected] for him. It was their birthday and the quadruplets who happened to be in town at that particular time were celebrating their thirty-fourth birthday in the family home.
‘When he has one,’ Njideka (Ariana) answered on Toni’s behalf.
‘He must have one,’ Ndidi (Gianna) countered. ‘Just take a look at him. Doesn’t he look like a man with a woman in his life?’
‘That’s why I asked. You haven’t answered my question, Iyke.’
‘When I have one,’ Toni replied echoing Njideka’s response.
Okey had been married for four years now and was the proud father of a set of twins. Njideka and Ndidi were also married with children of their own. Multiple births ran in the family. Their mum was a twin. Their late father had also been a twin. His twin brother, their Uncle Chukwuka, was married to a middle belter, from Kogi State. Iyke was expected to have multiple births in his home.
‘You can’t be serious,’ Ndidi stated. ‘You look like a man who’s got a woman in his life.’
‘Like Nnamdi did when he found you?’
‘No,’ Ndidi objected. ‘Your eyes lack that lovey-wushy look. Now when Nnamdi saw me, he just couldn’t take his eyes off me. He’d have this dreamy look in his eyes when I wasn’t around. An aching yearning like-’
‘That’s hearsay,’ Okey interjected.
‘You are just jealous because Yvonne didn’t swoon the first time she met you. Now my Nnamdi just couldn’t wait to walk me down the aisle even if I had to be strapped to his back. He told me from the first day we met that I was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.’
‘Please spare me.’
‘Like I said before you’re just jealous.’
Iyke was glad that the focus was no longer on him. For four years or so, his siblings had been on his throat to get married, like he could just go out there and pluck a wife!
His work took up most of his time so he didn’t have much time to spare for dating. The only woman in his life, apart from friends and relatives, was Ibitoru Davids. And he couldn’t exactly call her that since she was just a royal pain in the butt. But he wasn’t freeing her anytime soon. At least not before the deal he was working on came through.
So far, she hadn’t learnt her lesson. She was still too proud and very much a snub. He was doing her a favour and she was yet to realize that. She was still locked up in her bedroom, threatening to let hell loose if he didn’t free her. He had no doubt that if he let her move freely about the house, she’d seek for another means of escape. He still had the scar on the side of his head as a reminder of the last time she had tried to escape. He had taken the stitch out the previous day.
‘You really ought to get yourself a wife, brother of mine,’ Njideka told him. ‘Marriage is actually a sweet experience.’
‘I’m sure it is.’
‘Life isn’t about burying yourself in your work. You need to mix up more. Meet the girls.’
‘None of them interests me.’
‘And I know my brother is neither [email protected] an eunuch. You shouldn’t waste that natural magnetism oozing from every pore of your body,’ said Ndidi. ‘Okey is taken. You should put the girls out of their misery by taking a wife.’
‘I will when I find someone I’m that interested in.’
‘You want Nd and I to scout for someone?’
‘Keep out of my love life,’ he immediately warned his sisters.
‘Love life? It’s pres£ntly non-existent.’
‘I thought you said that I look like a man with a woman in his life.’
‘I stand corrected, brother dearest. You actually look like a man desperately in need of a woman in his life.’
Seriously? he thought.
‘Certainly not one chos£n for me.’
‘Don’t worry. We’ll make the best choice. In fact I think I have someone in mind who-‘
‘Don’t you dare sic one of your friends on me!’ he interjected.
‘Hey, no need to get so hot and bothered. I’m just trying to help out before you die of conji!’
Conji my foot! he ground out inwardly. He had to deal with Ib telling him he was only keeping her because he couldn’t get a woman, without his sister bringing up the conji issue. If he wanted a woman he knew where to find one.
‘I don’t need help in building up my love life.’
‘You can’t build something on nothing.’
Iyke took a large slice of cake, a bottle of wine and a pack of juice home with him later that night.
‘You forgot me once more,’ Ibitoru accused him when he unlocked her bedroom door, allowing her to go relieve herself.
She stood with her hands on her hips glaring at him. ‘If you know you are going to spend the whole day outside, you should at least lock the corridor entrance and let me have access to the bathroom. Having to hold myself all day is not good at all for my poor bladder.’
He ignored her, locking the door.
He walked into his bedroom where he undressed quickly and went into the bathroom. Minutes later he walked into the kitchen with the things he’d brought from the family house, dressed in a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, his hair damp.
He placed a portion of the cake in a saucer and put it in a tray, pouring out juice into a tall [email protected] cup. A naug-hty idea came into his head and he headed for Ibitoru’s room. He knocked once.
‘Go to hell!’ She cursed. ‘Not not unless you brought me supper.’
He unlocked the door, thinking that she was predictable. Something had to be done to her choice of words.
She sat on the bed leaning against the wall, glaring at him.
‘What do you want?’ She demanded.
He shut the door behind him after picking up the tray he’d dropped and for the first time she noticed the tray in his hand. Expectancy illuminated in her face.
‘No such luck.’
He took a bite of the cake. Like a hungry dog, her eyes followed his movement watching as he took a bite. He could have sworn that she swallowed when he did.
‘If you are not going to let me have a bite of that cake or a sip of that juice, then you had better leave my room.’
He ignored her, taking another bite. Then he lifted the [email protected] cup to his l!ps with his f!ng£rs.
‘This is very wicked of you,’ she informed him. ‘You know that I’m hungry and you can do this to me.’
‘If you want it, all you have to do is beg for it.’
‘And I’m sure you’d like that, but no can do. I won’t beg for food not even if my life depends on it.’
‘Too bad.’ He took another bite. ‘You really should taste this. It is very delicious. Very scrumptious, very tantalizing.’
‘Am I tempting you?’ He had the guts to look innocent.
‘You are just a wicked somebody!’
‘Am I?’ He took a sip of his drink. ‘This tastes heavenly. Are you sure you don’t want a sip? There is more from where that came from.’
‘You won’t succeed in turning me to a beggar.’
‘Like I said before, too bad!’
She watched him, not believing that he was actually going to eat up the cake and leave nothing for her, but in a matter of seconds she became convinced that this was actually his intention. She hurried out of the bed without thinking, rushed at him and grabbed the last piece before he could pick it once more. She tossed it into her mouth, thinking that he hadn’t been exaggerating. It tasted divine. Without taking permission she gulped down the juice in the tall [email protected] cup.
This is more like it, she thought.
‘What are you celebrating?’ She asked. ‘Your birthday?’
‘Oh. Happy birthday Toni.’
‘Is that your way of asking for one?’ he returned.
After a moment, she asked. ‘When are you going to place the call to my father?’
‘I’m not in a hurry to let you go yet.’
‘You have absolutely no right to keep me here. My vacation is almost over and I have a department to manage,’ she told him, hostility in her eyes. ‘Activities to supervise.’
When he said nothing, she added, ‘I am a manager in daddy’s company and he needs my services. I am supposed to resume work on Monday.’
‘You do know that you are not indispensable, don’t you?’
‘I am heir to the company.’
Not for long, he thought.
A lot of things had happened in the last few weeks which he would disclose to her at the appropriate time. Toni had heard from a reliable source that Sotonye Davids had a son outside his marriage. He had no doubt that the papers would soon carry the news. Ibitoru would be downright furious and subsequently very disappointed. Her castle was being invaded by a male child. Her position in the house was about to take a drastic turn. The heiress had just lost her place to an heir.
Three weeks earlier, he would have told himself that she deserved it but now he felt sorry for her. A great shock awaited her when she got home. He could easily bring the fact to her notice but he wasn’t that mean.
‘Well that isn’t my kettle of fish,’ Toni told Ibitoru. ‘Look, tomorrow is the first Saturday of the month and we will be doing a little contribution to the sanitation exercise.’
‘I didn’t ask for your opinion. I’m telling you. Tomorrow we will weed the [email protected] around and do an intensive scrubbing of the house.’
‘Why don’t you lock me up for the duration? At least it will save me the pain of having to do any clearing for you.’
‘That’s about to change. Tomorrow you are going to work your hands out.’
‘You are not serious. Ibitoru Davids does not cut [email protected] Not even when I was in secondary school.’
‘There is a first time for everything. I expect you to be up by 6 am.’
‘No way. I-‘
‘Any act of insubordination and I shall ensure that you work until you break down.’
‘I don’t look like an Israelite, Ramses.’
‘Wait and see.’
He gave her dinner, waited for her to relieve herself then locked the bedroom door behind her.
Toni was an enigma. She had heard about kidnappings and the experiences of the female victims hadn’t been funny. He hadn’t made any se-xual move on her and certainly hadn’t raised a hand against her. If anything he seemed more interested in domesticating her. Had someone dared him into taking her total domestication as a challenge?