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Emeka unraveled himself from the ball he had created to defend against the cruel world threatening to crush his spirit.
As he stood, he took one last glance at the darkened maw that used to be his doorway and sighed in anguish.
The broken man staggered across his compound and forced his gate open without bothering to call the gate man because he couldn’t trust his voice to remain steady.
As the compound where his evils had been exposed was swallowed by the darkness, he turned his face towards the hospital Mr. Vincent was staying in and began to walk.
He had no other choice since he had no money, no ATM card, and no car keys.
Emeka walked, his thoughts became clearer and clearer until he was finally lucid enough to make rational decisions.
He would tell Mr. Vincent everything from the beginning to the end, any judgment the old man wanted to level against him was fine, he just needed someone to talk to.
* * *
Emeka arrived at St. Nicholas in early hours of the morning and stared at the imposing medical facility, now that he was here, his resolve began to waver, but he had come too far to turn back now. Really, he had nowhere else to go.
He entered the hospital and saw the receptionist asleep at her desk. He passed her without a second glance and boarded the elevator to the seventh floor, the cancer ward.
He had no trouble finding Mr. Vincent’s private room and let himself in and watched the old man sleep away his worries.
The Chairman was rapidly losing weight and his face was lean and haggard like someone who had suffered the worst deprivation imaginable.
Emeka didn’t know how long he stayed there just staring at the old man.
But when the first rays of sunlight flooded into the room and struck the sleeping man’s face, he began to stir.
Mr. Vincent, came back to consciousness with a bewildered look on his face. The look children have when they fell asleep in the parlor but wake p in their room.
The aged man took a moment to get his bearings and the look of confusion changed to one of silent resignation.
He used his eyes to scan the room and finally settled on Emeka without the surprise Emeka thought he would see.
“Mr. President, to what do I owe this honor?”
“Hello, Mr. Vincent, I was just in the neighborhood and I decided to check up on you.”
“Do you know you’ve always been a poor liar? It’s one of the things I like about you. What’s wrong, you look like yo haven’t slept in days.” The old man retorted.
“Why do you have to be so damn perceptive?”
“A gift of age my dear boy, a gift of age. Now, talk to me.” Dante finished as he settled back onto his plush pillows and stared at the ceiling, waiting for Emeka to begin his soliloquy.
Emeka didn’t know where to start, but he finally bit the bullet and started from the very beginning, the day he hired Cassie.
As he related the events that transpired over the last few years, Mr. Vincent closed his eyes and appeared to be sleeping if not for the questions he asked every now and then for clarification.
When Emeka finished, there was a long bout of silence before the old man heaved a sigh and rolled over to look Emeka directly in the eyes.
“Do you know you’re a fool?” The old man said without judgment.
“Yes, I know”
“Good. Now, I had a feeling something like this was going on, that woman was just too damn sensual for you.
But that’s irrelevant right now, we need a solution to the problem. What do you have in mind?”
“Mr. Vincent, I have no idea, I just want it all to end.”
“Emeka, you are the president of Constellation Industries, you are not allowed to be lost, you are not allowed to second-guess yourself. You must act decisively and without hesitation now or else all will be lost.
Now, I ask you again, what do you have in mind.”
“Well, I know that I want to make peace with Hadija before I do anything else. I also want to apologize to John, even if we cannot be friends again.”
“OK, I think the most important thing is to make peace with your wife.”
“How on earth will I do that? She hates the very air I breathe.”
“Haha, Emeka, you are still so naive in some cases. Your wife doesn’t hate you, she said all those things because she was so hurt and wanted to make you feel some of her pain.
But don’t allow her to think too much about it because that hurt and pain can really turn into her despising you in the long run.”
“So what do you suggest I do?”
“Go and beg.”
“I should go and beg my wife after all those things she said to me? I’m not so sure about that.”
“Then you’re not so sure about saving your marriage either. The choice is yours, you’ve done much worse to her, but I know she’ll still forgive you.
I’ve seen you two together, she’ll take you back but there will be a lot of conditions you’ll have to fulfill.”
“What kind of conditions?”
“Whatever she imposes on you, I have a feeling she’s going to get very creative.”
“Alright, what about Jonathan? How do I go about making peace with him?”
“Ah, Jonathan, let me ask you, would you make peace with him after getting Hadija pregnant?”
“That’s not fair Dante, Hadija and I have been married for over 10 years.”
“Does that matter? A wife is a wife and you have betrayed a solemn trust. To be honest with you Emeka, it may be the end of the road for you and John.
“If you push too hard, something bad is bound to happen.”
“I don’t doubt him when he says he wants to kill me, the look in his eyes last night showed me he was beyond all reason.”
“You can try, but I advise you against it. I think you should keep a close eye on Cassie and the child. John may do something rash in his current state.”
“You’re right, after I go and see Hadija, I’ll go check on Cassie at the hospital. Thank you Mr. Vincent, you’ve been helpful in putting all of this into perspective.”
“Good luck Emeka, I’ll be coming to the office later this week to make an announcement.”
“But sir, are you strong enough to leave the hospital?”
“Damn this hospital, I’ve been here to long as is and will not stay idle as a power struggle rips my company apart.”
“How did you know?”
“Emeka, it’s my company, how would I not know?”
“Good point, Thank You Mr. Vincent, I’m going to go and face my wife. Wish me luck.”
“Go with my blessing Emeka, you are a good man that has made bad decisions, you do not deserve to lose it all.”
The President stood to leave but stopped when he remembered he didn’t have any money with him. He wasn’t keen on trekking around Lagos Island for the rest of the day.
“Emeka, is something wrong?”
“Well,” Emeka said, looking at the ground like a child caught in the act of doing something wrong. “Hadija locked me out of the house without any cash last night. To be honest, I walked here.”
The old man let out a mighty guffaw for a few minutes before he could muster enough of his composure to answer Emeka.
“So you walked here from your home in Lekki?”
“Yes.” The president replied humbly, still staring at the ground.
“And you don’t have any money on you or cards for that matter?” Dante asked, still chuckling.
“Ha, this is priceless, take this card and use whatever you want. Yo should probably check into a hotel to take a shower as well as get some clothes on your back.” Dante said, handing Emeka his black card.
“Thank you so much sir, I’ll pay you back as soon as I get access to my money.”
“Don’t mention it kid, think about it as a gift from me, lord knows you need a friend right now.”
Emeka took the card and quickly turned on his heel and left the hospital.
The President was on a mission and had a renewed sense of urgency. He would end this quarrel with Hadija today no matter what it took.
By the time he had bought some new clothes and freshened p at a hotel, the day was almost spent and he was getting worried about Hadija.
What would she be thinking about, how would she be reacting, did she tell the children anything, what would she demand of him, and a million other things ran through his mind while he sat in the back of the cab on the way to her office.
As he pulled up in front of the building, butterflies filled his stomach with trepidation.
It was like he was asking her out for the first time all over again, he had no idea what was going to happen.
He steeled himself and passed through the glass doors that formed the gate of her office. To his left was the large reception area, to the right were wide marble steps that led to the first floor, and in front of him; his destination, was the elevator that would take him to his date with destiny.
It was the longest elevator ride of his life.
He kept on playing through different conversations in his head; would she accept, would she disgrace him, would she shout for security, or would she be willing to listen at all?
Before he knew it, the elevator stopped on the floor where he would gain his wife or lose her forever.
The office was well decorated, wooden and gold decorations brought to mind African wealth but the metal and cream modern furniture gave it a look of modern sophistication. The best of both worlds, but all this was lost on Emeka in his current state.
He didn’t have the presence of mind to appreciate the subtle patterns that an interior designer must have spent weeks slaving over to get just right.
He approached the young receptionist who looked at him, blushed, turned away, then looked at him again with a flirtatious gaze. Willing him to make a move, but he was no longer interested in anyone but Hadija.
“Hello, I’m here to see Mrs. Hadija Jones.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“No, I don’t”
“Who should I tell her is looking for her?”
“Emeka Jones, her husband.”
“Oh,” the receptionist said before she could stop herself. “Come right in Mr. Jones, I had no Idea.”
“Of course you didn’t.” He replied reassuringly as she led him to Hadija’s office.
The glass door was wide open and he strolled right in without knocking. His wife was wearing a tight fitting navy blue dress, with black heels, and gold and wooden accessories. She looked single.
Hadija was bent over some paperwork, but Emeka could tell she wasn’t concentrating on what was in front of her and confirmed it when his voice made her jump.
“Nice place you got here, I think it’s better than my own office”
She looked up from her paperwork, her eyes wide in disbelief as she took in her handsome husband in a charcoal grey suit she had never seen before.
Anyone looking at them would envy the two perfect specimens of African beauty created through generations of the best breeding on the continent.
Emeka’s Deep black hair interspersed with the slightest flecks of gray gave him the appearance of someone who was used to being respected and issuing orders.
Hadija’s perfect skin, lithe body, and impeccable taste in fashion made her look like an African princess transported to the future from hundreds of years in the past.
Who would have guessed at the turmoil they had brewing between them?
“What are you doing here Emeka?” She hissed through clenched teeth.
“I came to get my wife back and I’m not leaving until I accomplish that mission” Emeka said as he took a seat in her plush visitors chair while biting into a large green apple he plucked off her desk.
“Emeka, this is not the time or the place for this, I’m busy.”
“My Dear, I’m not going anywhere until you answer me.”
“OK, Emeka, you win, you want to bring the problems of our house into my office right? You want to destroy this small piece of sanity I have left right?”
“No, I want to heal the open wounds that we both have.”
“Emeka, you can’t make everything right in a day. I haven’t even begun to wrap my head around the level of betrayal you put me through. Let alone being able to forgive you.”
“Hadija, I don’t want you to forgive me in a day or even trust me 100%, I know it may be to early for that. What I’m asking for is a chance.”
“A chance, why do you deserve a chance?”
“Because I love you, I love our children, and because we took a solemn oath to always be there for each other.”
“Are you crazy? You speak to me of love when you are the one that betrayed our love. You speak to me of a solemn oath when you are also the one that betrayed our wedding vows.
Do not attempt to make me look like a petty woman for not forgiving you, do not attempt to do it sir.”
Emeka could tell that this conversation was quickly going in the wrong direction so he tried another tact.
“Baby, I know, I’m sorry. I deserve any insults and injury you want to throw my way. I’ll willingly accept that if you only forgive me.”
“Emeka, Emeka, Emeka,” Hadija said as the tears began to stream down her face.
Emeka quickly crossed the room to close her office door and went to her side of the desk and pulled her into his arms.
“Don’t cry Hadija, we’ll get through this.”
“Emeka, I love you so much, I don’t think you’ll ever understand how much I have been hurt by your actions.”
“Don’t talk, let me finish.”
“I’m a woman, I’m a daughter, I’m a mother, I’m a sister, and I’m a wife. “
“I have learned to be compassionate towards everyone in my life and forgive them for their wrongs against me because I understand that it’s human nature.
My father has done me wrong, my sisters and brothers have done me wrong, and now you. The only people that have been blameless in my life are my children and only time will tell if that remains so.
When I learned what you have been doing for GOD knows how long, it felt as if a piece of my heart died and I didn’t know what to do or how to react. Sometimes, when you’d travel, I would lay in bed at night and experience a physical pain from your absence because I love you so.” Hadija continued as the tears smeared the mascara across her beautiful face.
“I never thought in a million years you were capable of an affair. I know what you can do, but this was beyond me. Deep in my heart, I knew something was wrong when we were having problems, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I will always love you, but ask yourself this. How can I ever trust you?
Will I take you back, you and I both know I will if the pressure becomes too much, but the question is should I? What will our relationship be like? Will we turn into people that are living together without love? Is that what you want Emeka?
When I look at you now, I can only think about how Cassie must have kissed these lips” She said as she put her fingers to his lips.
“I think about how Cassie must have caressed these shoulders.” She said as she kneaded his back.
“I think about how she must have kissed you here and here until she found the places that you loved to be touched. Places that only I should know.” She said as she trailed kisses on his shirt down to his waist.
“Finally, I think about how she must have enjoyed this,” She said as she covered his dick in a vice-like grip. Her eyes bulged and her voice took on a tone Emeka had never heard before. One of raw power, desire, and repulsion wrapped into one. “my property, my pleasure, and my prize. What was given to me after years of courtship, three children, and countless sacrifices
Ask yourself what you would do if the tables were turned and you discovered I was sleeping with John. What would you do then?
Would you have killed me on the spot? Would I be able to cross the threshold of you office?” She asked while nestled in his arms and holding his dick painfully.
“No, you wouldn’t have killed me, but you would have destroyed me. You would have taken my children, sent me back to my parents house, and told the world what I did. But I’m not like you Emeka, I’m a woman.”
At this point, Emeka himself was crying. He was crying because he knew what she said was the truth, he was crying because his heart went out to her, and he was crying because he was afraid that he would gain her in the flesh but lose her heart.
“I understand Hadija, what do you want me to do to make it up to you? I’ll quit Constellation Industries so I don’t have to see Cassie anymore. We can move to the US like you wanted. Anything to put this issue behind us.” the president sobbed.
“Emeka, the only thing I want to ask you for is time. Please, leave my office, I have work to do.”
“Will I see you at home tonight?” Emeka whispered before releasing her and taking the house keys of her desk.
She looked at him for a long time before answering, her deep hazel eyes were flooded with tears and drilling into his, peeling back the layers of his skin and leaving his soul bare.
Without another word or a backward glance, Emeka left her office and wandered into the world like a man without a compass, a man without roots, a man without a home.
A Man With Nothing To Lose