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He entered his place through the kitchen door. He could hear the sound of TV in the living room.
Quickly, he placed the items he had got where they all belonged, walked to the dinning area which he had converted into his workspace and opened his laptop. He placed the card Zaneta had given him beside his laptop and ran a search on the company. Then on her name. He didn’t learn anything new. He then went through her social media feeds. He had created accounts on all the platforms he had found her on and followed her.
Her major activity was on Instagram and then Twitter. She was yet to accept the friend request he’d sent on Facebook but it didn’t bother him anyway, her activity there was sparse. He knew he had made the desired impression, he was expecting she’d say something about it on social media, Twitter to be precise.
“Jesus!” he heard Seyi exclaim. She had just walked in from the bedroom.
He looked up at her, his face expressionless.
“You scared me. When did you get back?” she asked.
“Few minutes ago” he said, returning his eyes to the Twitter feed he had just refreshed.
Seyi stood before him in one of his T-shirts and a pair of bum-shorts. “I love the look on your face when you focus so intently on something” she said in that voice that never failed to remind him of dark stormy passions.
He looked up at her. She’d been here since Friday evening and he had not particularly paid her any mind. Now she was clearly seeking his attention.
“How about a shoulder massage?” she offered, placing the cup of ice-cream she held on the desk between them.
“Sure” he said, switching the user on the laptop. He knew why she was here – she needed money. She would often tell him she was bored in school, she missed him or stuff like that, but each time she came, though she never asked, he had never failed to give her some.
She was behind him now, her hands on his shoulders. She knew he liked it – the way she rubbed them. He closed his eyes and decided to enjoy the moment. He’d surely catch up with Zaneta’s activities later. He had the right tools. Nothing she put online would escape his notice.
“You haven’t been to the gym this weekend, hon” she murmured in his left ear as she worked her magic. He made no response. She wasn’t really expecting one. She had learned he didn’t talk much, never made excuses but he was good to her and that was what mattered. Better to her than any one she had ever met. She often dreamt of him taking their relationship (if she could call it that) to the next level, but she somehow didn’t see it happening for real.
He leaned his head back and pushed all thoughts of Operation Steven out of his mind. Like Steven in the Bible, some people were getting too loud and irritating for his bosses. Like Steven in the Bible, such people needed to be stoned to death. Or at least silenced.
Seyi had begun to undo the buttons of his shirt, her hands roaming free.
Theirs was an interesting tale. He had met her through someone he’d gotten friendly with on his short stint in Ile-Ife. The guy, Banji, was a drinking buddy of his. One evening Banji had taken a phone call from a fellow MSc student. The gist was that the girl had an urgent accommodation issue and needed cash to sort it out.
As the night wore on and Banji had a few more drinks, he had learned that the girl had been caught in bed with her boyfriend by her sugar daddy. The sugar daddy had taken it badly and had kicked her out of the house without giving her a chance to get her stuff. According to the sugar daddy, he’d paid for the house and bought everything she owned and so she had no right to any of them anymore. She was royally screwed.
He had learned she was a good student and the sugar daddy was her brand of hustle. It was quite an interesting story and he had asked his drinking buddy to pass his number to her, ask her to call him and he’d see what he could do about the cash she needed to make up her rent.
Seyi had called him the next day. She was in Lagos but could rush down to Ife if he said so. He’d asked her to stay put since he was leaving for Lagos that morning himself. They had met up at the mall in Lekki later that evening. They met in his car in the parking lot. He had asked her earlier how much she needed and had handed her the full amount. When he told her how much was in the paper bag she had been quite surprised. He’d dropped her off at Obalende and gone his way.
That was about 5 months ago. She had later told him she had packed an overnight bag that day (it had looked like a handbag to him, though). Her belief and the hints from their mutual acquaintance had been that she would have to merit the money, and so she had been prepared to spend the night with him.
Their first night together had happened about 3 weeks later. They had been in constant contact and she had been inviting him to come visit, to at least come say hi to her and his friend – Banji (their mutual acquaintance) in Ife and to see the place she’d got. He had insisted he was busy and the pictures of the place she had sent him were good enough. One evening, she had called and said she was in Lagos. He had later picked her up at Obalende and taken her to his place where they’d spent the weekend.
He leaned back even further, allowing Seyi work her magic. His mind was however, on Zaneta. The pretty girl who had lied to him about her house address. He smiled as he recalled her little trick. She had made him take her to a different street.
‘If she only knew how much I know about her‘ he thought.
“You like it?” he heard Seyi say. He nodded.
Zaneta collapsed in bed frustrated.
This was getting too much for her. The level of paranoia her uncle was displaying was beginning to irk her. She had just been scolded by him for going to the mall from church without “informing me or anyone”. The last time she had heard such talk from him was likely a decade ago. His political ambition was bringing out a side of him she didn’t care for.
She really wished she could leave and get a place of her own.
Her phone beeped, she took a look at the message preview, it was from Edith, she ignored it. She considered, for a second, deleting her off her BBM, but like previous times, decided against it. She would rather ignore her. The tested and true “Read and Ignore” strategy to frustrate people out of her life. She had used it countless times.
Another message, another preview
“Pls, Z. Don’t ignore me” it read.
“Why won’t Edith just leave me be?” she said pounding a pillow.
She picked up her phone and opened up the chat.
“Sebastian misses u“
“He asked after u 2dai“
“I miss u, pls don’t do this. I truly love u. I hv nvr loved any1 this way“
Zaneta, put the phone down as a tear rolled down her cheek and unto the pillow.
“What have I done?” she murmured as she thought back to how all of this had begun.
Edith was her partner handling the Ages 5-6 in children church. She was a single mum with a 3 year old son. About a year into their work together, Zaneta had broken up with her boyfriend. She believed she was coping well until Edith had asked her one day after service what the matter was. She had tried to dismiss the queries but had finally opened up to her older friend and partner.
That was the beginning of a deeper friendship. They had began spending Sunday afternoons and evenings together at Edith’s. Sebastian had grown very fond of Zaneta and she of him. Edith had told her of her own series of heartbreaks, the last one had left her with a child to fend for while the father had sold everything he had, including stuff they owned jointly, and relocated to Cyprus. She’d not heard from him ever since.
It had been Zaneta’s first heartbreak, she had really liked Dare, unlike all the others before him whom she either didn’t notice their departure or had left without any stress.
One evening while Sebastian slept in the room, Edith had kissed her and that had been the beginning of their affair. Zaneta had never felt so loved, so adored. She basked in it, spending more and more time with her lover and her son. Buying them stuff, all but adopting Sebastian. It was an exhilarating 8 months of her life. Movies and dinners and lunches with so much fun. She couldn’t get enough of Edith who never went 72 hours without making sure they saw each other.
Of course they had kept it a secret from everyone. Their unit head had once used them as examples of team bonding, “a pair worth emulating” she had called them in one of those meetings they had to resolve disputes that often came up among workers. They had had many a good laughs about it later.
It was a good relationship but looking back now, Zaneta refused to call it that. It was an affair, a same sex affair and she had suddenly put an end to it. She had told Edith there was no future in it, but Edith had been insistent and had even suggested they left the country.
When Zaneta realised Edith would not budge and was clearly obsessed with her, she got scared and had begun to create a distance between them that eventually culminated into her leaving the unit.
Now she was angry at Edith for being selfish. She had tasted the joys of motherhood, but was trying to keep her from doing same.
“Yes, there is pain in motherhood, but how dare she try to take that away from me too?” she said clenching her fists.
She had told Edith severally how their affair was against the laws of God, but Edith had always found a way to wriggle out of that one.
Anyway, she had put an end to it and she was not going back. Yes, she missed her too – the gist and laughs, their “we time” on Sundays, the kisses and how Edith made her body feel. She sighed, no one had ever made her feel the things Edith made her feel, but she had to stand her ground.
She picked up her phone and hit the Twitter icon then tapped compose when the app launched.
“Letting go is hard even when it could never be yours in the end” she typed then hit “Tweet”