Tunde walked into the orchard in seething anger, he was angry tired and disappointed again at the same person who always seemed responsible for it, seeing his parents and younger sister he approached them as they chatted over a glass of lemonade. Demilade looked up and broke into a smile as soon as he drew closer to them; he took a deep breath and forced himself to mask his rage.
“Hey Tunde” she held up the glass cheerily “Come, come,” she said, tapping the end of the bench she sat on and he obliged.
“Good evening mom, dad”
“Good evening Tunde dear”, his mother replied with a smile on her dark heart shaped face and he smiled back at her. “How is your wife?”
He drew out an audible breath “Same, although I don’t know what’s with her attitude.”
“I ran into her the other day,” his father said
“Where?” Demilade asked.
“I can’t remember now, I went to see someone close to a church the other day and she was just coming out of the church when we bumped into each other.”
“Church?” It was Tunde’s turn to be surprised “I didn’t know Priscilla attended a church! God, it’s been ages since I went there,” he said with a twinge of guilt.
His mother grunted full of displeasure “Only God knows what she’s cooking up this time”
“…Or her mother more like” Tunde replied with the same tone, his eyes resting on his father “Even Karen is really skeptical about her behavior.”
“How is she by the way?”
“Doing well”, He replied carelessly. “Folake said she would stop by at her place”
“She promised she would also stop by here”, Demilade said referring to Karen “She stopped coming all of a sudden when “things” took a weird twist” she laid emphasis on the word and gave them a knowing smile “I told her no matter what she was still part of this house.”
His parents nodded. “I guess her pride was bruised but there’s no bad blood anymore.”
“But there’s still a chance?”
“Demilade!”, Chief Ariyo scolded looking at her disapprovingly and she sipped a little lemonade holding the glass in her two hands “Her mouth has always been sharp, I don’t know where she got that from.”
“Not from me” his wife replied irritably “After all she’s also your daughter”
“Really I’ve also seen some changes in Priscilla, I can’t tell if she’s faking it or not”
“Just be careful, you know how easily influenced she is by her mother” Chief Ariyo replied cautiously.
“Speaking of which dad, I’d like to discuss some work with you” he said to the older man staring at the glass of lemonade placed on the table.
Chief Ariyo looked up at him then nodded and dropped the glass on the table “You ladies have to excuse us for a while now”, he gave his wife a gentle squeeze and she smiled.
The two men stepped out of the orchard into the spacious patio and headed for the sitting room. Tunde said nothing, though words hung heavily in the air; he expelled a breath and shook his head, he needed a clear head, he needed to leave sentiments and anger and doubt behind.
They sat down finally and the smell of citrus rushed into his lungs, he cleared his throat not knowing how to make the first move but his father beat him to it “A drink?” he asked pouring himself a scotch almost to the brim.
“No thanks”. Tunde picked up a magazine and idly fanned himself
“So what’s this about? Is it the company?”
“Stocks are down, we sold at the wrong time and our creditors have decided not to pay up”
“What about the collateral they placed?”
“That’s our last option; you see I keep saying it was a bad move to buy over Priscilla’s father’s company… its worse that they take a commission each month for doing nothing.”
He sipped the scotch peering at his son from the high stool which he sat on. “It had to be done.”
“For what? What is the mystery behind it?” Tunde asked staring at his father for the first time that evening “Can’t you see we are suffering for your mistakes?” He got up and stood by the window looking at his mother and sister “Your mistakes!” he repeated angrily.
His father’s silence infuriated him more “We are slowly losing everything you worked so hard to build because of you. Why would you build so much and crumble it for what?”
“Well we’re here Tunde, it could have been worse than this, my family could have been divided; I mean I would have lost you all”
“What about me? I sacrificed something to keep this family from falling apart and the thanks I could get was a full list of dummy firms the company’s supposedly been financing”, he turned around to face his dad roughly, stuffing his hand in his left pocket and throwing a crumpled paper at his father.
Chief Ariyo got up and opened it; shock registered on his face “Where did you get this?
“Your company’s account books in the year 2000! It was you wasn’t it?. Creating dummy accounts so you could make extra millions at the side!”, Tunde watched him lean heavily on a nearby chair; He continued, so full of disgust and distaste for the man who fathered him. “You also duped her father asking him to finance a dummy firm in South Africa that he knew nothing of!”
“Who told you all that?”
“I marketed the firm damn it!” he replied in anger, “I was also deceived by my own father. I was working for a fraud!”
He winced at his son’s words, his heart beating madly in his frail chest “Don’t say that Tunde, I’m still your father!”
He scoffed “I doubt that very much”, Tunde continued with a restrained voice. “How could you,
dad? You have all you want so I don’t understand, what’s going on with you, why?”
His father looked at him in pleading eyes and sighed, “I beg you, let’s keep this between us.”
Tunde laughed a scornful and terrifying one that made his father cringe with traces of fear and desperation visible on his face “It’s disgusting!”
“You don’t understand, just let this die.”
“It’s too late; other clients are demanding to know what was made of their money before I discovered who the thief was. They brought in auditors. If I had turned them down, they would have pulled out and we cannot afford that now. You are in for it dad and this time, I can’t bail you out.”
“I made some bad investments and the money had to be replaced or the company would have liquidated” Chief Ariyo slumped into the chair “I’m finished!” he said, as he touched his balding head repeating his words again and again
“You used the company as collateral?” Tunde asked reeling in shock of the revelation.
His father nodded in anguish.
“You should have told me, you should have informed me of it”. He raked his hand through his low cut hair. “God dad! What do we do now? How do we get out of this mess?”
“Give me some time, I’ll think of something”.
“Like making more bad investments?” he asked sarcastically and ignored the look his father threw at him. Tunde looked outside the window again watching his mother and Demilade laugh at something and sighed “Are you going to tell them? Mum?”
“Leave them out of this Tunde. It’s our problem.”
“Yours you mean, because this time I’m not bailing you out. I’ve ran out of cards dad and respect”, he looked back at his father “You don’t know how bad the situation is do you? We are as good as paupers; all we have is what we have been giving to Priscilla and a few thousands more. We need to pay off the workers and refund the money you stole”, Tunde laughed cynically. “I can’t fight your problems for you dad, I have lost all the respect I had for you. When I was shown the records a few days ago with your signature boldly slashed under, I was just speechless.” He moved then towards the large framed doors leading to the other end of the house.
“Tunde” his father called back at him, “I’m so sorry.”
Tunde looked at the rest of his family in the orchard. “Ask them for forgiveness not me”. With that, he walked out of the house, leaving his father to his defeat.
Mrs Bridget was right. Three weeks and she had learnt a lot from her. How to carry herself – even her self-confidence grew. It felt good to feel her heart light amidst all the problems surrounding her. Priscilla sat at the edge of the bed facing the wall clock. Tunde was not back and it was a few minutes to nine. She had bought a new see through nightie: one sinfully wicked and flattering. Mrs Bridget had told her to learn to make herself more attractive to her husband, the bulgy long skirts and gowns were thrown away and replaced with new figure flattering skirts and gowns, her cropped hair was adorned with wine highlights tripped to the trending style in the community.
She stood up and her gaze was drawn to the dressing table mirror sitting proudly against the wall. She stood tall and proud of her transformation, it was a shame her husband was never around to see her during the day. It was gratifying to know that she looked good, a drastic change from her usual drab look. Even her father- in- law had registered a look of surprise when they ran into each other the other day.
Priscilla smiled to herself staring back at the tall, beautiful and slim woman in the mirror before her. She heard a knock on the door leading into the flat and she hurried out of the room taking a wrapper with her and clutching it between her thinly veiled heavy breasts. “Who is it?”
“Tunde”, came a muffled sound and she opened the door for him to come in.
The first thing that caught his attention was the flimsy nightie Priscilla wore and the way she clutched the wrapper between her breasts barely concealing anything. He cleared his throat wondering what had suddenly come over his wife this past few weeks, his body silently acknowledged her and he grunted to himself in disgust. He knew the game she played; she was more interested in the money than making this marriage work.
Tunde looked away at the thought; he would not be convinced so easily. “What are you doing up this late?” he dropped his brief case on a nearby sofa to loosen his tie.
“I was waiting for you to come home.”
His gaze was drawn again to her scantily clad body and he looked away, Priscilla shivered feeling the silent apprehension. “I…I cooked your food” she stammered and their eyes met. “Would you like to eat now?”
“Not when you’re dressed like that” he cleared his throat loudly and she scrambled to tie the wrapper so tight across her chest he found himself wondering if she could breathe comfortably at all. Heck, he never once concerned himself with her welfare.
“I…I am sorry” Priscilla stammered again nervously smoothening down her wrapper “Just ermm… Make yourself comfortable.”
He never knew how pretty she looked when she got nervous. Tunde shook himself mentally, he was going crazy and he had to do something to distract himself. He picked up his brief case and stood there either one of them speaking; so many words filled the air that neither of them knew how to begin.
Priscilla broke the silence smiling lightly “Good night then” with that she walked into the corridor entering the room. She left Tunde standing there, wondering if he was crazy.
Safe Haven: Episode 11 continues HERE
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Read also; Shadows (Episodes 1-10)
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