NADIA: As if we had planned the drama, we all watched her with our mouth shut. She crossed her hands and made a gesture;
"You can all keep your mouth shut if you want, but I've made my point clear. Don't worry, in a few months time, you would all..."
Daniel interrupted with a rather unusual question;
"Brenda, why is your husband running after Nadia? Is he not satisfied with you, or you just can’t satisfy him? Tell him to back off; Nadia is mine!”
I could feel the shivers that went down her spine. I could clearly tell that she wished she had teleportation powers. I understood her very well, I have been in her shoes before.
"Brenda, just go OK? It's clear you have nothing to say," I added.
She gritted her teeth in anger; there was clearly nothing she could do about it. She whisked off, and for a minute there, we burst out in laughter, until we remembered we had a problem at hand. Joyce was the first to remember.
"We need to find a way to get my father off their hands."
Our laughter seized and we got back to business.
“Joyce, I think we would need mummy's help in this one,” I chipped in. “And what about Sharon?"
She was pensive for a while before she suggested;
"Let her be. We would use her to our advantage. I saw her spike the pizza just before you picked it. I didn't take it serious until now."
DANIEL: Slowly, I was getting Nadia. I couldn't tell if I truly loved her or not; but one thing remains for sure: I treasured every minute we spent together. I found comfort in her presence.
I’d never committed myself to a serious relationship; this looked like the beginning of something new.
I took my fair share of pictures with her, romantic ones; I had to steal some perks here and there. She often frowns at that, but laughs on a few occasions.
"On a date? Where?” she asked. “You can't be serious! You know very well that we can’t leave this academy, don’t you?”
"Oh come on! I can get the security man to cooperate with us."
After continuous persuasion, she gave in. I was the happiest guy on earth. I had wanted to take her to Kayode's kitchen where the meal and services were satisfactory, but I figured that wouldn't be comfortable. Words would travel immediately and my mother's eagle eyes would spot us. That means trouble. Instead, I took her to a spot by the beach.
"Loosen up Nadia, so when we take pictures, it'll look real."
It seemed like she had been waiting to burst out all these while;
"Daniel, I don't see how this is ever going to work. All you keep doing is hold my waist, hug me, and perk me; you've only been tapping my precious currents you did not pay for. Wilson doesn’t seem affected at all; I don’t see that in his eyes.”
God bless Wilson; he called when he had to. Nadia gasped when she saw the caller ID.
"It’s Wilson," she whispered.
She answered the phone and placed it on loudspeaker.
"Nadia! Do you mean to tell me that you’ve chosen that small rat, that good for nothing over me? Do you think he can treat you like I do? Do you think he is man enough? You are so dumb!"
I snatched the phone from her hands. The insults he blew on her were very alarming. She couldn’t say a word. I had to come to her defence;
"Listen to me young man, I can tolerate your nonsense, but not when it comes to my woman. Don't you ever, in your entire sorry life, talk to Nadia like that. She is not your property! So much for the man who claims to be capable, tailing another man's woman! How cheap bro, How cheap!"
He didn't reply; he dropped the call.
NADIA: God! It happened again. All my defenses were broken. How can one man have the ability to crush me? Despite all my proposed anger, my mouth disobeyed my wishes with just a single word from him.
"Nadia, are you scared of him?"
I remained quiet.
"I'm not Wilson," Daniel said in a bid to break the silence.
His question was becoming a pain in the ass.
"I can't explain what I feel right now. Whenever he is around, I can't fight back. He always has the last word. I feel so ashamed, Daniel; so ashamed that when I face him, all my pride fades away. I can't challenge him. He is a constant reminder of how I gave my pride away. I feel so cheap. I feel..."
He hushed me and made me stand up.
"The music is slow, and good; let’s dance!"
“Daniel, I can’t...” I tried to protest.
He hushed me again and took me by the hand.
My mind began to warn me, but I couldn't stop him from helping me move with the rhythm. He placed both of my hands on his shoulder and held my waist. A minute later, he brought me close to his chest, moved his hands slowly down my spine and held my waist closely. I could feel his heartbeat, and I was sure he could feel mine too. He was just a breathe away from my ears when he muttered;
"You are the strongest woman I've ever met. You are beautiful, smart and proud. You didn't give away your pride because you are cheap; it's a gift you gave to the wrong person. He has touched the wrong woman, and you'll get back at him."
When you spill fuel on a tamed fire, what happens? The fire in my system sprang up. I felt my pride well up within me. I felt my spirit burn. I felt his cheek caressing mine.
"Do you feel that anger within you?"
"Yes! I feel it!"
His breathe was in between my eyes, down to my nose.
"Good. Are you ready to face him?"
Something else caught my attention: His breathe was on my lips. Was he going to kiss me? No, he better not.
My hormones were responding already. Oh God! Nadia, keep still.
"When a man loves woman..."
The song played in the background, so caressing.
"Nadia, I want to kiss you."
My heart danced to a different rhythm. I stammered with a little push.
He added, "But I won't do it cos you've not given me permission to."
I sighed a great relief. He let me go and handed me his jacket. A part of me questioned why he didn't go ahead and kiss me. You see women, we can be very complicated. I didn't want him to kiss me, yet I wondered why he didn't. He should have just done the deed and apologise later on.
It was getting cold outside; he made me wear his jacket.
Few meters away from the academy, Joyce called. I knew something must have gone wrong. I was absolutely right.
"Nadia, my mum has the same sickness my Dad has. She has been hiding it for all these while. I don't know if she can survive this, Nadia. I don't know..."
Her voice was tearful.
Daniel drove faster. There and there, I understood what our enemies were up to; something similar to the old saying:
"To bring down a mighty Iroko tree, dig out its root."
Continued on next page..
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