‘You’ve been back for three months now, babe,’ Cynthia was saying, ‘And you haven’t been yourself. I understand the inconvenience of being abducted but I thought you said the man didn’t hurt you in anyway.’
‘He didn’t hurt me.’ Ib @ssured her.
‘Then why the long face? Don’t tell me you miss him?’
‘Miss’ was an understatement.
Ib lay on her bed cuddling the largest teddy bear on it. Cynthia sat on the edge of the bed watching her friend. There was a knock on the door and Mary came into the room with a tray of food.
‘Leave it on my reading table, Mary.’ Ib told her maid. ‘Thank you.’
Before her abduction, the words ‘Thank you’ weren’t in her vocabulary but now her vocabulary had also been expanded to include ‘Please’. Mary smiled as she left the room. Everyone had noticed the change in Ib. Her mother had been shocked when she had cooked a delicious pot of egusi soup, a young woman who had never entered the kitchen. Even her mother began to wonder what had happened to her daughter during the period of her abduction. Her lazy daughter now cleaned up after herself and did some house chores even with the domestic servants pres£nt.
She had come back a changed person. And the change had been positive.
Ib hadn’t seen nor heard from Toni since she returned. She had told herself that she would forget about him but he was unlike any of the men she had been involved with in the past. If anything, she missed him more than she had thought possible.
These past three months had proved the one thing she had feared. She didn’t have stockholm syndrome. She had actually fallen in love with Toni. She would give anything to see him again.
She thought about Damiete, the brother she hadn’t met. She had finally been told that she had a brother from one of her father’s lovers and he was pres£ntly out of the country. She had received the news with mixed feelings. Months ago, she would have raved and ranted but she was a different person now. She had initiated contact with him and they spoke over the phone and chatted on WhatsApp and Mess£nger regularly and skyped once in a while.
Had Toni known about Damiete? Definitely. From what she had been told, the story of her father’s son had been all over the news so he couldn’t have missed it. And yet he hadn’t taunted her with it!
She had also found out about the takeover. She had heard about it before her abduction but her father had @ssured her that it was not something for her to be worried about.
She had gone job hunting to take her mind off Toni but it hadn’t worked.
She would give anything to talk to him again just once. To apologise on behalf of her father. To apologise for the long call which had delayed her going to her father’s bedroom. Had she not been on call, she would have arrived before her father attacked the girl.
Iyke Ekwueme was exhausted. He had had a really busy day at work but as tired as he was, he couldn’t get rid of the three women in his home. He had missed his home. He had been able to cope in the isolated two bedroom bungalow he had taken Ib to because he had been brought up to adapt to any situation but his own home was his special place. It was a gift to himself on his thirty-third birthday.
For years he had rented apartments but there was nothing as good as having his own home. His business was doing great. He was blessed. And his mother and siblings felt that he could only complete the equation by getting married and filling his home with the laughter of children other than his nephews and neices.
The land in which he had built his home was one of the numerous plots of land acquired by his late father. Iyke had developed the portion allotted to him by putting up a lovely portable home with a lot of compound which he had engaged one of his sisters’ friends who was a landscape architecture to design.
Pres£ntly, he wished he had stayed back in the office. The concern of his mum and siblings about his non existent love life was unhealthy. He knew they meant well but he couldn’t date anyone. He wasn’t interested in dating anyone and he had Ib to thank for that. She was in his blood stream. He never should have gotten mixed up with her.
He had finally confessed to his mum and siblings that he had been responsible for the abduction of Chief Davids’ daugther to get back at him for what he had done to Judith. He had been quick to @ssure them that he hadn’t had se-x with her. He wasn’t Sotonye Davids.
‘She clearly means something to you,’ Marina told her son. ‘And I am sure you don’t still bear her a grudge for beating you up while in your custody.’
The sisters looked at their mother and brother. They hadn’t heard that part of the story.
‘We’ll save it for another day,’ Marina told them.
‘If she means that much to you, mio caro , then find her and -‘
‘I don’t need her,’ Iyke quickly interjected. ‘I don’t need anything belonging to Davids.’
‘And that’s how you’ll just sit here pinning for her until another man sweeps her off her feet, and then you will be moping around and blaming everyone but yourself for what happened. I didn’t raise you to be a coward.’
‘What has being a coward got to do with anything, madre? I don’t want any link with her father, how does that make me a coward?’
‘You are clearly in love with the girl but you won’t admit it because of who her father is. If your father was a renowned @[email protected] would you like anyone judging you by his acts?’
‘So you see why your reluctance to go after what you clearly need amounts to cowardice.’
His sisters didn’t help matters by giggling. Nkiru walked to the bar and helped herself to a drink.
‘Have you asked yourself how Judith would feel having him as an in-law peradventure i followed your advice and went after Ibitoru and married her.’
‘Ifukwa nsogbu (You see trouble).’ That came from Ndidi. ‘What has Judith got to do with anything? Her therapy is going on perfectly. She doesn’t have a multiple personality disorder as we feared she would and she is a graduate now. Don’t use her as an excuse.’
‘He almost damaged her mentally.’ he reminded them.
‘And ‘almost’ is the key word. She isn’t damaged and he would be signing his death warrant if he comes close to her. I don’t think he is that stupid.’
‘I am not going after her.’
‘I doubt if she would tell her father you were the one who abducted her.’
‘That’s not my problem.’
‘So you would rather settle for second best or ‘chi e ukochukwu’ (become a priest) than ask the woman you love out?’ Nkiru asked.
‘I’ll get over her.’
‘With the kind of love you have for her?’
‘I am not in love with her,’ he denied. ‘She is a beautful woman i was very much attracted to but have no intention of doing anything about.’
Nkiru and Ndidi snickered.
‘I nukwa, Love nwantiti .’
‘Love kili me i die.’
‘Stop teasing your brother, umu arurala.’ Marina called her daughters to order, trying not to show her amusement.
She turned to her son.
‘We will accept Chief Davids as an in law if you find pleasure in his daughter because your happiness is what counts.’