Read Chapter XXIV here.
Fiifi took his phone and hastily sent Constance a message.
Please tell me you calling my number today was just a coincidence.
His heart was pounding as he waited for her reply. He dreaded her reply because deep within, he knew what it would be.
Sorry but it isn’t.
Fiifi sighed and scratched his head.
“Is everything okay?” Bisi asked. He glanced at her and managed a smile.
“Yeah. I think I’ll go to bed.”
“Yeah,” he said as he got up.
“Need a massage?”
“Not tonight. Going upstairs, guys. Have a good night.”
“Goodnight, daddy.” Bisi watched him go upstairs. Whatever the text was about must have been bad news. Business investment gone wrong? She wondered.
“Nhyira, ready for bed?” He nodded.
“Great; let’s go so I tuck you in.”
“What about them?”
“Oh leave them. They claim they are big girls now. You’ll soon retire to your rooms, right?”
“Okay; I’m going to check up on your dad. I think something is eating him up. I don’t have to check if you’re still here, right?”
“Nope; we’ll soon come upstairs,” Kukuaa assured her.
“Okay; Goodnight, sweethearts.”
“Goodnight, mum.” Bisi and Nhyira went upstairs.
Bisi entered the bedroom to find Fiifi lying in bed, his eyes on the ceiling. She changed into her nightie and joined him on the bed. Fiifi remained quiet, steeling himself for the question he knew was coming.
“Is it work? Business gone wrong?”
“So what is it?”
“It’s nothing.” Bisi touched his cheek and turned it so their eyes would meet. Oh no, she’s trying to read my mind, Fiifi thought dreadfully. He had to stop her. He kissed her. Bisi pulled back after a few seconds and looked at him more intently.
“Now I know something is wrong.”
“What do you mean?”
“I can tell by your kiss.” He gave her a puzzled look.
“We’ve been married for years, Fii. I can tell your mood by your kiss and this one wasn’t the one which says you love me. The kiss was a lame attempt to shut me up.”
Damn; she was good, Fiifi thought.
“No; I’m just not in the mood to talk. I was hoping that kissing you would make me feel better but you just ruined it.”
“You’ve got to let me in, Fii.”
“You’re already in.” When Bisi’s eyes still conveyed doubt, he kissed her again.
“What does this kiss say?” She smiled. “That I shouldn’t worry.”
“Good so don’t.” He pulled her into his bosom and they both sighed.
“I’m fine; really.”
“Okay.” He kissed the top of her head.
“I love you,” he whispered. She whispered back the same words.
Fiifi spent the next couple of minutes imagining how it would play out if he blurted out the truth right now. None of the scenarios ended him being on the bed or even in the house in the next hour. He knew he could trust Bisi but he didn’t want to lose her trust at the end. Her trust and respect was more important than any award. But how long could he hold on to it?
The following morning, Fiifi decided to leave early. After dressing up, he went to Nhyira’s room.
“Hey buddy, I’m off to work. Please don’t get ill like the last time, okay? Mummy really got scared and I’m sure you don’t want to see her scared again, right?” He nodded.
“Good. Take care of the ladies, okay? I’ll see you in the evening.” They did the fist bump.
“Bye, bud.” He went to the girls’ room to say goodbye. He kissed Bisi goodbye and drove out of the house. The earlier he cleaned up this mess, the better.
Constance was deep asleep when she heard sharp knocks on her door. She woke up startled and walked towards the door. Who could it be, knocking this hard at this time of the day, she wondered.
“Fii?” She asked and rubbed her eyes, not sure of who she was seeing. Fiifi bypassed her into the house. She closed the door.
“I thought you texted that we’d meet after office hours.”
“Well, I couldn’t wait. The earlier you tell me what is going on so we deal with it, the better.” Constance yawned.
“Could you please wear something to cover up?”
“Hey, it is you barging inside at such an early hour. It’s still bedtime for me.”
When Fiifi gave her a stern look, she sighed.
“Fine. Give me a second.” She went inside and wore a huge T-shirt over her nightdress. When she came back to the living room, Fiifi was seated.
“Thanks,” he said. Constance sat.
“So have you told her?”
“But you know sooner or later, you’d have to.”
“Why don’t you let me worry about that?” He snapped. She raised her hands in mock surrender.
“Okay; such a grumpy way to start your day.”
“Yeah, much thanks to you.”
“Have you listened to it?”
“No, I haven’t. I was hoping you’d fill me in. How did it even come about?”
“Well, we were about four or five at the scene. We were talking and we all kind of shared our list of um…prestigious clients. Apparently, one of us was recording it. She got into a fight with another lady who was with us that day and since she named quite a number of big names, she decided to leak it to spite her and the rest of us got caught in the crossfire. Totally unfortunate.”
“I was going to question you on the kind of company you keep but I guess I already know the answer to that. So, you mentioned my name? I thought we had a hush-hush agreement on our deal.”
“We did and that’s why I feel terrible about this. We were having some drinks so you know, there was a lapse of judgment along the way. But I’ve listened to it and fortunately, I didn’t name you.”
“You didn’t? Oh thank God!” Fiifi said with a heavy sigh of relief.
“But I did mention that I had given birth to a son for a corporate guy.” Fiifi’s brief relief came to an abrupt end. Constance bit her lip, steeling herself to his reaction.
“How much detail did you add?”
“That’s it. It’s pretty harmless if the people who know about the boy are just us and your wife. Have you told anyone else?” Constance asked.
“Well, the associate who introduced us knows but I don’t think I have to worry about him. I should be concerned about who else you’d have blabbed to.”
“I’m no chatterbox, Fii. This was an isolated situation and I deeply apologize.”
“I wish that made me feel any better but it doesn’t. I’ll be on my way,” he said and got up.
“I’ll keep an ear out to any rumors going round so I give you a heads up.”
“Why would you even bother? It doesn’t affect your reputation in any way or should I say, what’s left of it.”
“Well, believe it or not, I do care. Because my son would be directly affected if things go south. You and your wife have done a good job of providing him a home that I could never offer him. And I don’t want anything to destroy that.”
“Well look at that; you do have maternal instincts after all,” Fiifi said ironically. Constance rolled her eyes.
“Goodbye, Fiifi. Get out.” Fiifi chuckled. As he turned to leave, Constance suddenly hugged him and released him after a few moments.
“For being you.” Fiifi didn’t understand. Constance smiled.
“Have a nice day. I still have some hours of sleep to catch up on.” He nodded and left.
Kukuaa’s class was buzzing with the speculations over the leaked tape. She joined a couple of her friends to listen to it and they had a good laugh over it. It was getting to the end of the tape when she heard a lady talk about a golden baby boy born to a corporate mogul. That caught her attention and all smiles vanished from her face.
“Um…could you send the file to me?”
The driver came to pick them up after school and drove them home. When Nhyira indulged himself in kids’ TV, Kukuaa pulled her sister to her room.
“What is it, Kuks?” Ewuresi asked, sitting on her bed.
“I don’t know if you’ve listened to the controversial tape going round…”
“Not really; my mates were talking about it though.”
“Fine; I’m going to skip most portions of it. I want you to listen to the part I’m going to play and I want you to tell me what you think of it.”
“Just listen. Keep an open mind.” Kukuaa played it. They both kept quiet as it played. When Kukuaa paused it, Esi looked up to meet her sister’s eyes. She could tell what was going on in her mind by looking into her eyes. Esi said nothing.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Kukuaa asked, wanting to be sure.
“Could she be Nhyira’s mother?” The door opened and both girls startled which made Nhyira startle too.
“Sorry for scaring you. I’m hungry.”
“It’s okay. We’ll be down in a minute,” Kukuaa said.
“Okay.” He closed the door and they could hear him going down the stairs.
“Has mum heard it?”
“Knowing mum, I don’t think so. We have to tell her.”
Fiifi arrived home first. The three were watching TV together. Nhyira went to meet him at the door. When Fiifi walked to the living room, both girls had their eyes glued to the TV set.
“Good evening, girls. How was school?”
“Good,” they both said dryly.
“Have you had something to eat?”
“We warmed the leftover food from yesterday. Mum just texted that she’ll soon be here to cook dinner.”
“Okay.” Fiifi noticed both girls were avoiding eye contact. Something was wrong.
“Are you girls okay? Something happened in school?”
“No, the same old stuff.”
“Okay; I’ll go and change.”
“I’ll go with you!” Nhyira said. They went upstairs.
Maybe it was the time of the month. They had the habit of acting odd during that time, Fiifi thought dismissively. When he came downstairs, the girls excused themselves and went upstairs.
Now Fiifi was more convinced it was their cycle making them act up. Too much estrogen to handle, he thought with a shake of his head.
Bisi arrived about twenty minutes later.
“How are my two gentlemen doing?” She asked as she kissed Nhyira on the forehead and Fiifi on the cheek. She sat next to Fii and leaned on him.
“Like always.” He rubbed his palm across her arm.
“Should we order in?”
“Oh no, I can take care of dinner. I have two pairs of hands to help, remember?”
“Well, I don’t think they are in the mood to cook.”
“Why do you say that?”
“They are acting kind of funny.”
Kukuaa came rushing downstairs.
“Yes, sweet. Are you okay? Your dad says you don’t seem yourself.”
“I’m great. Can we talk?” Bisi arched a brow.
“In private?” Bisi exchanged a brief glance with Fii.
“What is it? Did something happen at school?”
“No. It’s something else. Please?”
“Okay. I just got back. Let my husband give me a foot rub and then we’ll talk.” Kukuaa sighed as she walked up to her and took her hand.
“It can’t wait, mum.” Bisi could sense the urgency in her voice.
“It’s girls’ stuff,” Kukuaa said to her father with a plastic smile. Ah, he was right, he thought.
Bisi stood. Kukuaa took her bag and heels and they walked upstairs.
“Let’s go to my room,” Kukuaa urged.
They entered her room where Esi was seated on the bed, cross-legged. She smiled when their eyes met.
“What is going on?” Kukuaa closed the door and locked it.
“Please sit, mum.” She sat. She was beginning to feel anxious.
“You are making me anxious. What happened?”
“Have you listened to the tape?”
“The one everyone is talking about.”
“Seriously, that’s what this attitude is all about? You know I don’t pay attention to such things and neither should you two. It’s not something I want you to be exposed to.”
“I know but I want you to listen to something.”
“I’m not interested.”
“You should,” Ewuresi chipped in. Bisi glanced at her. What was going on?
Kukuaa tapped on the play button.
“What about you, Connie Babe? Any big names on your list?”
“Well, you know I don’t like to share my clientele list because I don’t trust any of you. But I did do a big favor to one corporate mogul.”
“What, strip tease?”
“Oh no; it was much more significant. I gave him a golden baby boy which he really needed.”
“Why, was his wife infertile?”
“Nope; but I was able to give him the one thing his wife couldn’t. A baby boy.”
Kukuaa paused it.
Bisi glanced at both daughters with a nonchalant look.
“Okay…is there a punchline I missed somewhere?”
“Didn’t you hear her words?”
“I did. I don’t see why I should raise any brows about that. She was clearly intoxicated.”
“It doesn’t take away the substance of what she said.”
“Do I need to play it again?”
“I don’t think so…”
“Mum, she was talking of providing a baby boy to a corporate mogul. Doesn’t that ring any bell at all?” Ewuresi asked, impatience rising in her voice. Bisi blinked. It was now sinking in.
“What are you insinuating? That…that…upgraded prostitute could be Nhyira’s mother? Come on girls, give your dad some credit.”
“Oh we do if we’re talking of him bringing a baby boy from God knows where,” Kukuaa said.
“Your dad wouldn’t stoop that low to do that.”
“I know you love dad to death and you’ll defend him till your last breath but you can’t turn a blind eye to this, mum. Have you by chance met the biological mother?”
“No; your dad doesn’t want any contact with her.”
“Ever wondered why?”
“Because…it was business and that deal is closed. There is no need for a review.”
“Are you saying you’ve never thought of meeting her?”
“Not really unless she came around requesting to meet her son. If not, I see no reason going looking for her.”
“Maybe dad doesn’t want you to meet her because he’s ashamed of the type of woman he cheated on you with.”
“Hey, watch your mouth, young lady. He didn’t cheat, okay? It was by insemination.”
Ewuresi stifled a laugh which earned her a stern look from her mother. She stopped herself.
“Listen girls; I appreciate the fact that you’re worried that your father might be implicated in this since some of the names mentioned are associates of his but I trust your dad, okay? He wouldn’t tarnish the image of this family that recklessly.”
“It wouldn’t hurt if we knew for sure that the golden baby boy mentioned on this tape isn’t our brother,” Kukuaa asked.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Confront dad about it.”
“What? I’m not going to risk causing a wedge between us because of some coincidental confession from a drunk slut.”
“Fine, then we will do it,” Ewuresi said. Bisi stood.
“No, you won’t. I’m sure it’s just some twisted sort of coincidence. Nothing more. I’m going to change. And please be nice to your dad. I don’t want him suspecting anything,” Bisi said and left the room.
She entered the master bedroom and sighed when she closed the door. She leaned against the door. She touched her chest and felt her heart beating. Hard.
She sat on the bed. Fiifi was clearly disturbed the night before after the tape was discussed on the news. Could the girls be right? Who was Connie babe? There was no woman called… Bisi gasped.
Constance. Many flashbacks rushed in at once which overwhelmed her for a moment. Constance at the cocktail. She freaking out at the sight of her. Fiifi dropping his phone at the mention of her name. Constance at the health walk. Constance at his office. Constance talking of a project six years ago.
Six years ago…Nhyira being born six years ago. The woman in her dreams claiming her baby back.
Constance. Constance. Constance.
Bisi clutched the bed sheets tightly as her brain put all the pieces together. Tears gathered in her eyes. Fii was…
The door opened.
“Hey love…” Bisi looked up.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I’m great.”
(c) Josephine Amoako 2016
Read Chapter XXVI here.