THE LAST SMILE
Tinuke had cried and cried but the tears still did not stop coming. She didn’t know what to do. She was already back in her apartment. She entered the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of alcoholic wine and found it empty. She angrily threw it against the wall. And the sound of its shattering was deafening. She swallowed as she settled to drinking a bottle of cold water. After drinking for some time, it soon became bitter in her mouth and she returned the cup.
She moved to the sitting room and collapsed on the chair. She mopped her eyes for the umpteenth time. She dialed Tosin’s number but she did not pick up. After several attempts, she dialed Bola’s number and got the same result. She became very angry and furious. “Stupid girls” she yelled.
Bola and Tosin were her best friends. They had been inseperable since their secondary school days and now that they were older, that hadn’t changed. The only time she had been away from them had been when they had gone to school. They both got their admissions late, unlike her, but they both finished their NYSC about a year ago and the trio friendship continued. Now that she needed them, they are nowhere to be found. She sighed. After thinking for some time, she felt she would feel better if she goes for shopping. Shopping had a way of making her happy. She didn’t have the money, so, she picked up her phone to call her favorite step brother. It had been a long time since she called him.
After ringing for some seconds, she heard a voice and she smiled. “Hello Deolu”
Tosin brushed her long weave-on as she stood opposite the standing mirror. Bola was busy reading a novel and was laughing at intervals. Tosin looked at her, shook her head and hissed.
“With the way you are behaving, you can easily be counted as a lunatic.”
“You dey craze” Bola countered still laughing.
“What is so funny about a horror novel?” Tosin looked horrified.
“You won’t know until you read it”.
Tosin hissed again and faced the mirror to continue her work. She heard Bola’s phone ring and heard her hiss. She turned stunned eyes at her as Bola put the phone on vibration and continued reading her novel. When the phone started vibrating for the fourth time, she picked it up to check the caller and smiled when she saw it. When Tosin’s phone started ringing, Bola stared at her and they both bursted into laughter. They laughed until their sides ached.
“Yeye girl. Why you dey laugh now?” Bola faked a smug face and they both laughed again, holding their sides. After sometime, they both suppressed their chagrin.
“Don’t mind that useless thing. She thinks she can become successful and start making yanga with us? She is not serious” Tosin said.
It was Bola who hissed this time. “What is her own sef ehn? We finished school, her result was better than our own; she entered school, we still dey house; and finally, she is engaged to Raymond James; Tosin; Raymond James!! Chai… Does she have two heads?”
“I tire ooo” Tosin yelled.
“I would give anything to be in her shoes” she smiled smugly.
“Excuse me? I want that man. He is the finest thing that ever walked this earth”.
“You can’t have him, he is mine. I have succeeded in separating those two, so I must reap the harvest of my hard labour” Bola yelled, ready for a fight.
Tosin glared. “We did it together. Both of us talked her into being a pain in the butt, right?”
“But I suggested it”
Tosin looked at Bola for sometime before she started laughing. Bola became angry. She really hated being laughed at.
“You better close your dirty teeth before I close it for you” Bola said, hands on hips.
“Ok…” Tosin tried to compose herself. “You know, it is so funny that we are fighting over a man that can never be ours”
“Says who?” Bola frowned, checking herself in the standing mirror. “I am hot. Hotter than fire, so why not?”
Tosin shook her head, wondering why she was accepting the reality all of a sudden. “We are hot ooo but we are not as hot as Tinuke”
“You dey craze”
“It is true Bola, and you know it. She too fine jare, I never see the girl wey go beat am. Even, she came out with a whooping second class upper and we are in the demeaning third class level.” She shook her head at the remembrance of the day she had seen her statement of result.
Bola shook her head and picked up her novel again, still not accepting that Tinuke was better than her.
Raymond led Luciana to the balcony, where she sat down with her head down. Despite the tense atmosphere, Raymond went inside and returned with a pack of juice and two glass cups. His throat suddenly felt dry as he stared at Luciana. For someone who had just gone through a painful ordeal, she was looking exceedingly beautiful. He swallowed hard and quickly filled both cups with juice and drank from his cup until it was halfway down. Luciana hadn’t even raised her head, not to mention, touch her drink.
“Mind telling me why you lied to me? It is just a name. whether you are Luciana or you are Brenda, it does not change the fact that it is a name. Although, I think Luciana suits you more. Your parents named you well.” She was shining, just like the light. Just like the rays of the sun.
Brenda smiled slightly and blushed at the compliment but she was overtaken with embarrassment when she remembered that her cover had been blown. “How did you find out? Did you break your promise?”
“No. I saw it on TV. Your parents are really worried” Lucy started breathing fast as she held onto the chair. Ray wanted to just hold and comfort her but held himself. He wanted the truth. “Tell me what is going on; but since the first thing you ever told me was a lie, I wonder if I can believe anything you say”.
“Then there is no use telling you” she made to stand up but Raymond quickly held her hand.
“Please. Was just joking” he whispered as she sat down. She stared at her hand until Ray had to look at it himself and discovered shockingly that he was still holding her. He quickly extracted his hand and put it inside his pocket as he tried to compose himself. He cleared his throat. “I am all ears.”
“I was scared. A guy did this to me” Raymond folded his fists in anger as he listened to her. “After he stabbed me, he said so many things, thinking I was already dead, but I could hear him. The pain I felt was beyond imaginable but I held on to God’s strength when mine faded out. I would not like to tell you the things he said because I am still working on believing them myself but the bottom line is that my people would be in danger if I go back. If he discovers that I am alive, he would want to kill me by all means and that would definitely affect my people. I don’t want anything to happen to them. It is better for them to be in the dark and be safe than to come into danger because of me”.
Raymond swallowed hard. He just wanted to lay his hands on the miserable man and teach him a lesson he would live to remember. “Is he your boyfriend?”
“What? No” Raymond was surprised at the relief he felt, but he was still furious.
“Please don’t tell anyone about me. please. My family, my friends, everyone; they mean a lot to me. please” she pleaded.
“I wont do anything” Raymond really doubted he would stay without doing something.
“Thanks” she said. “I think I should leave now. You fought your fiancée because of me. I heard everything and I feel extremely bad.”
“No. I have wanted to do that for a very long time. You are not going anywhere; I wont let you. My sister would be here tomorrow and you would not wanna leave. Believe me”. He smiled. “I know I am not a very interesting company”
She shook her head in denial. His presence alone was making her squirm and she knew that he had a very interesting personality but somehow, he was hiding it. Even though he looked cool, she had enjoyed enjoyed all the times they were together immensely. Besides, she liked cool and calm men.
“You have a beautiful house”.
Raymond looked at her and smiled, making her heart race. He had noticed her dimples again and was already loving the sight that he would give anything to see them again. “We have a beautiful guest”.
Luciana smiled and looked at her fingers. Raymond noticed she was very shy. “C’mon, let me show you around”.
She nodded happily, stood and followed him.
“Hey Tinuke” Deolu yelled. He was unpacking his things and could not afford to waste time on phone, so he put the phone on speaker in order to do two things at once. “So, after about two months, you decided to call me today? Today is blessed”
Even though Tinuke’s mother did not really like Deolu because Deolu’s father refused to marry her, Tinuke was always close to Deolu. He knew that part of her likeness was due to his financial status but that did not stop him from being protective of his only sister, even if they did not share the same mother or the same surname.
When Deolu’s father made the mistake of committing adultery when Deolu was four years old, he confessed what he did and had done all he could do on earth to make his wife forgive him. After much pleadings, she finally gave in but all that shattered when Tinuke’s mother came with a big belly. Deolu’s father had refused to marry her but promised to cater for the child. He had accused her of luring him into her bed. He could not leave his wife, who had suffered and been with him when he was nobody. Because of this, Tinuke’s mother gave her child her own father’s name instead of bearing Aremu.
“Oh, come on D boy, it has not been easy at all. I have been having too many problems lately” Tinuke’s voice flooded the room.
“You can say that again” he said with vigor.
She did not pursue that statement because she could not imagine him having serious problems. “Erm D boy, I actually would appreciate some cash. I am really downcast now. Ray wants to call off the engagement and-”
“Wait, what? He wants to do what?” Deolu yelled, stopping what he was doing to stare at the phone like he was seeing Tinuke.
“He sent me out of his house Deolu” she cried. Her pain was felt by Deolu and even though he really wanted to pounce on Raymond, he could not stop himself from blaming her.
“What were you doing in his house Tinu? How many times did I tell you that a man would always take you for granted when you start living with him before your wedding. I am sure you were sleeping with him too. Why would he want to pay your dowry when he already has what he wants free of charge? Tell me” he lamented, wishing she was physically present so he could talk some sense into her head.
“Oh… stop lamenting. Everything was fine until he started bringing in shameless girls. First, it was his maid but now it is a shameless harlot. Please leave that, I don’t want to talk about that b******. Would you please send me some cash?” She sniffed.
“Ok. I would send you something”
“Thanks D boy. You are the best. Wait, what of that girl you were after. That Luciana you told me about. Have you wooed her?”
Deolu was stunned and thrown off balance. He suddenly became tense. He could not believe that Tinuke could remember Luciana’s name. She had pressurized him about his single life until he confessed his love for Luciana to her.
“That is my problem Tinu”
“Why? Did she say no?”
“She said ‘Yes’”
“Yipppeeee…” Tinuke yelled. “But what is the problem then?”
“She is missing” he dropped and Tinuke’s scream of surprise and worry filled the room.
“It is a long story. I need to meet someone in about an hour.” He remembered Raymond and frowned. “I need to see that fiancée of yours. He didn’t seem like a womanizer to me, i wonder what happened to him. What is the name of that harlot that snatched him from you?” he was furious.
“One ugly thing like that. Think her name is Brenda” she said with disgust.
“When I descend on her, she would know she does not have a place with him.”
WATCH OUT FOR EPISODE 15