Priscilla turned round in response, expecting to see her husband but she stood face to face with Richard. She nearly stumbled off the railing in pure shock but he caught her waist before she tripped. She scrambled out of his reach before people would see them. “What are you doing here?”
“Surprised to see me?” His lips twisted in a cynical smile as he put his hands in his pockets as if to quell his visible anger “You ignored my calls”
“Yes” she replied breathlessly
“And my texts”
“What are you doing here?” she eyed him with suspicion.
“I came with a guest as an escort”
“A woman no doubt?” she said staring at him cautiously.
“Jealous?” Richard smiled at her. “We need to talk”
Priscilla looked back at the crowd “I don’t think so”, she replied as she brushed passed him hurriedly but he caught her arm in time.
“Let go of me. If my husband finds us like this, he’d get the wrong idea”
“That we’re lovers? Are we not?” he asked staring into the dark pools of her eyes
“No”, Priscilla jerked her hand away but he tightened his grip on her arm.
“Just for five minutes please”
“No” she wriggled with futile efforts “Release me now!”
“I won’t release you until we talk Priscilla” he replied breathing heavily. “It was God’s gift that I found you here in the whole of Lagos so I won’t let you get away from me.”
“Stop this madness Richard, I’m a married woman. I’m sorry but stop!” she replied almost in tears. “Please let me go”
“Ok fine, I’ll release you but just please stay for a few minutes”, he looked at her with his pleading eyes and that was her undoing. Priscilla relaxed and stood rigid on the spot.
“I tried calling and texted you but you never bothered to reply. Priscilla you know how I feel about you, why do you keep hurting me this way?”
She said nothing staring into the dark night. She shivered a bit remembering what happened a month ago, “What do you want from me Richard? We were wrong, I’m married and that is enough reason to stop this” Priscilla replied frustrated “I just want this to stop and I assumed you knew that too”
“No Priscilla, I know you are married and I also know that you are not happy”
“Do I look sad to you?” She felt him look at her “My husband and I are sorting out our differences and I don’t want to jeopardize what we have now”
“But I love you, I actually do” his tone was so sad she felt a tear slip out of the corner of her eye “I love you Priscilla, married or not and I wish you would give me the chance to prove it to you”
“But you can’t!” she said turning to him with a sense of hopelessness “I’m happy the way I am now and I’m optimistic”
“Okay fine fine…lets meet up again after today”, he saw the withdrawn look in her eyes “Just one last time…”
“I can’t and you know why”
“It’s because you know there’s still something between us. I’m sorry but I love you, I do and I’m not ready to let you go”
“Please stop this Richard. We made a mistake and I can’t repeat same”. Priscilla looked at him and seeing the defeated look in his eyes, she knew she ought to leave, but she was torn between leaving and the excitement slowly unfurling in her remembering the last time they were alone.
“Please stop this” she said in a weak voice.
Richard drew closer to her and held her hand covering it in his “I love you. For weeks, I haven’t been able to sleep well without thinking about you, wondering whether you were thinking of me, whether you are a dream…” his hand pulled back a short strand of unruly hair falling on her forehead “..Or you are reality”
Priscilla gave him a small smile for the first time “You have a way with words, Richard”
“It’s the first time you’ve called my name, Priscilla.” He did not let go of her hand. “I like it from you, please see me one last time”
She snapped back and snatched her hand away from him. “Don’t push it Richard, this can’t go on”
“See me before I leave for Akure next month”
“I have some tours for exhibitions around the West” he smiled looking tenderly at her “Please at least give a man his dying wish”
“You’re not dying Richard!” She rolled her eyes smiling again. “Alright, I’ll call you” she turned round about to walk away from the balcony and he caught her wrist making what was left of the wine spill on the terrazzo floor.
“I will”, Priscilla replied walked away leaving him in turn to gaze distantly into the dark night.
Karen stared at Richard from where she stood. Was she blind with anger or just running mad? Priscilla and Richard were holding hands intimately in the almost dark corner of the balcony. Had she no shame? What about Tunde? What was going on between Priscilla and Richard?
Well, well, well it seemed God himself was on her side tonight. Her lips formed into a wicked smile as she walked up to her lover standing unsuspectingly in the balcony.
Priscilla was fuming to herself, wondering what to do as she sat behind the wheel waiting for her mother to enter into the car. She had gone visiting and her mother had asked Priscilla to follow her to church for the weekly Mother’s Guild meeting, where she held the post of President.
Her mother slid into the passenger’s seat of the Toyota Avensis after greeting a neighbor and she slammed the door turning to face her daughter. “Ehen, Ehen, don’t start the car”, she stopped her daughter from starting the car. “I want us to talk first”
Priscilla rolled her eyes guessing the topic was about her marriage “What is it mummy?”
“I’m very disappointed you didn’t bother to call me after your last visit to this house” Sola replied, pointing at the gate outside.
“What do you want me to say?”
“To tell me how far you’ve gone because I believe you thought of it deeply” she started, wrapping her scarf around her head. “Honestly you are have disappointed me. The way you behave you surprises me o.”
“How have I been behaving?” Priscilla asked grudgingly “I have been too busy.”
“Busy doing what? Too busy to focus on repairing the marriage you destroyed?”
“I destroyed?”, she scoffed. “Mummy what are you saying? Have you forgotten that we’ve been married for four years now?”
“And so?” she stopped halfway and looked at her daughter in irritation “Are you the first person to be married for four years? Oya congratulations on your jubilee or whatever they call it!”
Priscilla started the car driving with a little more force than required.
“Ma ba temi je o! Because I am talking to you now but your pig headedness will not allow you to listen. What are you doing about your marriage? If it fails I hope you know there will be nothing left for us to spend and I didn’t go through all this trouble for keeping you in a good home so that I will suffer in the end.”
“What about how I feel mummy? Doesn’t that count for anything to you?” Priscilla asked in disappointment
“Don’t use that tone with me girl”, Sola responded, finally adjusting the scarf on her head. “That is why that your sister is all alone in Port Harcourt, she will soon run back here with her tail between her legs. Young girls of nowadays” Sola said as she clapped her hand in disapproval. “You need your parents to do the thinking for you!”
Priscilla turned the car into the main road driving down to the junction and turning left to where the church was located. She said nothing determined not to let her mother’s words hurt her.
“You had better get pregnant or do something fast because I can tell you would soon be ‘once married’ with the rate at which you’re going.”
“What’s it to you? Can I not live my life the way I please? I can’t keep pleasing you mummy, I’m tired of your ceaseless demands and your constant discouraging words.” Priscilla parked the car in front of a nearby shop, a walking distance from where the church stood majestically at the end of the road “Can’t you just let me handle it? My marriage?”
“Ehhh shut up your rubbish mouth, do you think at all? You this girl, you are turning into something else o. Because you now wear expensive clothes, I should let you handle it. Yet, you ran to me to wail that your husband is enjoying what you cannot give him!” Sola snarled at her watching her wince “If not for me, this ‘your marriage’ “she mimicked “would have crumbled before four years ago.”
Priscilla let out an audible breath in seething anger “Just let me work it out. I’m tired of being pushed around.”
“You are just not smart Priscilla and I assure you, I have washed my hands away from your case since that is what you want. My own is that I get my allowances because I am an old woman and my mates are travelling all over. See Mrs Aderongbe, an ordinary member of the guild. She has travelled twice this year, she even had the guts to buy me a pair of shoes not worth anything”, she shook her head looking very upset. “Yet I have to depend on you with your wahala before you know you are to stay with the source of our income.”
“Mummy I have to go now.” She started the engine with annoyance not willing to look at her mother as she got down from the car and slammed the door harder than necessary. Priscilla watched her mother walk down to the church before she reversed. The vehicle purred as it slowly rolled back, enabling her turn and drive off the dusty road.
She had never left her mother happy since the day this marriage began; her mother was constantly nagging her and complaining about one thing or the other. Her mother had never given her a word of encouragement or hold her hand like Mrs. Bridget sometimes did, her mother was more interested in getting her dues paid than in her daughter’s happiness.
Priscilla sighed and turned back into the main road as her mind flashed to her husband then Richard: Poor him, the way he looked that night made her feel so guilty. Was he expecting her call? She bit her lip and cast a glance at her phone lying on the leather compartment between the seats. Should she call? No, it would be wrong. Would it be wrong? She did not even know what she felt for him all that seemed to crowd her mind was Tunde.
Her mind was torn between the two, how could he even love her? Had he no shame loving a married woman? A tear threatened to fall as her heart grew heavy with guilt. Oh, but something always pulled her to him: whenever he looked lost at her, she felt like the most valuable woman in the world and when they were alone, they devoured each other, twice.
…But what she felt for Tunde could not be put in words. She had grown to respect him, to yearn for his smile and laugh at his awkward jokes. She had grown to enjoy sitting with him and stealing glances at him as he buried his head in his books, was that love? That he made her respond to him in so many emotional ways and whenever he looked at her in grudging appreciation, it made her day.
Priscilla smiled to herself remembering Tunde; she would make sure she never gave herself to another man again: the mistake was made and history would never repeat itself again God help her. In the end, she picked up her phone scrolling through the contacts list.
Safe Haven: Episode 13 CONTINUES HERE
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