Read Episode 1 SAFE HAVEN: Episode 1
The house was buzzing with life as people chattered with laughter filling the whole sitting room. Priscilla sat quietly by the verandah wishing she could disappear from the house. It was his parents’ anniversary and the house was full of all Ariyos’ except for Lola the eldest daughter. No one cast a second glance at her- that was not unusual, except for Tayo. It made her feel unwanted though she knew she was. Everyone despised her no more than she despised herself for marrying this man ‘but still, it wouldn’t hurt to get a little recognition now and again’ she thought bleakly to herself. It seemed time dragged on for hours. As she sat alone looking languidly at the door, a lady walked into the house catching her attention. The lady looked beautiful, wearing a red bandage dress with baby sleeves. The knee length gown complimented the woman’s bosom figure and her pretty face could surely make men swoon. She walked with an aura of confidence as though she commanded attention.
“Karen!” Many heads turned in the large sitting room; the woman named Karen seemed to light up the room some more. Unconsciously, Priscilla looked at her husband standing far away from her, he seemed surprised and he walked hurriedly towards the woman. Even Demilade, his younger sister already stuck to the woman like a magnet along with a little crowd of people; Tunde’s mother seemed to be smothered by this Karen as she stared at them full of wonder. Her heart sizzled jealously of this attractive woman. She looked away and sipped a little of her Fanta from its bottle in her hand trying to soothe the uneasy feeling.
Tayo’s beaming face made her smile. Somehow his presence was always a breath of fresh air. “It’s been a while”, he said as they hugged lightly.
“Really it has.”
“How was South Africa?”
“Good, good” he replied enthusiastically “It’s nice to see you again. How have you been coping though?”
“Just fine, I’m here in one piece” Priscilla lied through her teeth thankful he seemed not to notice. “Who’s that woman?”
“Who?” Tayo bent a little, looking round the room and she pointed at the attractive woman.
“She seems to be a bit of a celebrity around here”
Tayo nodded. “That’s Karen Amusa”
“I haven’t heard of her.”
“Really”, Tayo turned to look at her startled “Tunde hasn’t…”
“No” her curiosity increased. “Who is she?”
She could tell the hinge of hesitation in his expression “She’s a family friend. She, Tunde and I were close in our university days”
“I don’t think she came for our wedding then”
“Your wedding was more of a hush-hush wedding Priscilla but nevertheless, it was Demilade that invited her over”.
“Then I’m assuming that isn’t all about her?” she asked dryly
Tayo shook his head sideways. “But what’s been going on with you?” He was poor at changing the subject but she let it slide. For the moment.
“Same old”, she replied forcing a smile.
“Sounds like fun”, came a sarcastic response but she said nothing, A few seconds passed between them and they busied themselves silently watching the activities going on. Her eyes were fastened on Tunde as he spoke to this Karen. He seemed so absorbed in their conversation. Priscilla couldn’t tell if he was mesmerized by their conversation or the woman herself but it gave her an uneasy feeling to see him stand so close to her when he should have been by his wife’s side.
“I see you don’t mix with the rest of the family.”
She snapped her head up to look at Tayo; she had almost forgotten he was there “How do you mean?”
“Well, you don’t mix with aunty Folake. Everyone”
“Am I supposed to?” she replied my eyes to the ground.
“Isn’t it wise?” he drew a breath. “Look around you; you seem to be the odd one out.”
Her face colored slightly in embarrassment “I’m not big on conversations, Tayo”
He nodded. “Maybe, but you don’t seem like the quiet type either” Tayo sighed “It’s funny how everyone has changed though, our childhood I mean”
“How was it?” she asked unable to stop herself. She knew next to nothing about Tunde’s childhood. He laughed freely, “It was fun. I remember when Tunde, Karen and I used to hit the clubs, study together…we ran around a lot, now he’s cool and aloof” his mouth curled in disapproval.
She swallowed the heavy-laden statement. They were both looking at Tunde as he spoke to Karen; the way he looked at her was different. She did not know why but she did not like this woman, she felt a knot in her stomach. It had been so long since she and Tunde were intimate; somehow, she missed his weight curled really close to her.
Tayo turned to look at her “We had a lot of fun though. Three musketeers we were”
“Really?” Priscilla smiled goading him “and who was the third?”
She could not picture Tunde being a happy-go-lucky chap. He had always been aloof, making it clear that he was not happy about the arranged marriage. A sigh escaped her lips; ‘At least we have a common interest in something’ she thought.
Demilade walked up to them. She ran her eyes over Priscilla’s plain-a-bit oversized gown full of distaste. She had never approved of Priscilla and was fiercely protective of her brother but she looked good in her pencil jeans and chiffon top; her hair was packed tightly into a bun highlighting the basic features of her fair-skinned face.
“Priscilla”, her tone was curt
“Demilade” Priscilla replied her heart sinking lower in her chest.
“I see you’re trying to dig your claws into another Ariyo man?” Demilade asked with a plastic smile. She smiled back with less animosity. The three of them went silent feeding on the built tension. “Doesn’t it bother you to see him with her?”
“Urgh! Demilade don’t start with that”, Tayo remarked already frustrated, but she ignored it.
“Why should it?” Priscilla replied coolly looking back at her eye to eye.
“Oh it should” she smiled wickedly and her eyes glinted full of hatred “If I were you, I’d grab all the money I could. After all we all thought they would get married” she threw a glance at those two. Priscilla’s heart felt as though it would stop, it took Priscilla almost a minute to regain composure and Demilade saw how much it affected her. It gave her a thrill to know her words shook deeply and she didn’t stop enjoying her glaring moment. Tayo cleared his throat uncomfortably throwing his younger cousin a disapproving glance “That was a long time ago”, he tried to sound light “I’m sure it’s all water under the bridge now”.
“Doesn’t seem like that to me Tayo, right Priscilla?” she turned to look at Priscilla wittingly but Priscilla chose not to reply, in order not to fuel her amusement at her mockery; although there seemed to be some truth in what Demilade, said seeing those two together. Was that the reason why he detested his wife so much as if she brought this upon them knowingly? They both wanted the same thing…to be free of each other.
“Seems like you didn’t know that bit about your husband”
“That’s enough now Demilade!”
“No”, Priscilla put her hand towards Tayo. “Leave her Tayo, she has as much right to be angry”, her voice was almost a whisper.
Her tone was smug “Everyone knew that and there’s still a lot of hope left” Demilade smiled daggers at her. Her words seared through Priscilla as hot as knives and as she looked at her husband and the woman, panic began to well up. To buttress her point, it was common knowledge that their marriage was falling apart. They knew that at any moment either one of them could breakdown. “Well, my work here is done” Demilade walked away from them satisfied.
“Don’t pay any atten…”
She cut him short with a panicked voice, her eyes reflecting bitterness “Did they love each other?”
“It’s over between them now. That’s what matters”
“Did they?” she was adamant.
Tayo let out an uncomfortable sigh “Yes”
“Is it still the same way?”
He shifted “Look I think this is not for me to answer, Priscilla” he turned to walk away but she clutched his suit almost desperately “Please Priscilla”
“Will it be fair to me not to know?”
He nodded “I’m sorry”. With that, he pulled away from her and she stood there for what seemed to be eternity, really wanting to be swallowed up in the ground. At least, she wouldn’t have to endure the humiliation. So, he had so little regard for her that he brought his lover here? Priscilla’s eyes watered. The room felt smaller, suddenly it was a bit too difficult for her to breathe; but she stood there like a rock determined not to let Tunde or any of his family members get to her.
She threw a hurried glance their way, Karen’s hand was on his and they laughed together and she watched as though it did not matter who Priscilla was. Karen had no care in the world as though she was no competition. It would not get to her, Priscilla told herself, and it would not.
THE rest of the evening was a blur and she was thankful they were headed to the house where she could run to the sanctuary of the toilet and spend a few minutes alone with her chaotic thoughts. The car was silent with only the purr of the engine. As Tunde drove, her mouth was swollen with questions and she did little to hide her irritation though she knew he would not care either way.
“Why didn’t you warn me beforehand that your lover was coming?” the question rolled out of her mouth before she could stop it “At least I believe I had every right to prepare myself ahead of time” He threw her a startled look as soon as he pulled up in front of the gate; there were dim lights everywhere from other houses throwing enough light for her to see his face.
“What do you mean by that?”
She said nothing. She had made her point clear that she knew and that was enough for her.
“Answer me” his voice grew thicker with impatience “Answer me!’ he said again this time louder. “You humiliated me!” She threw back wretchedly “You brought your lady to that place and humiliated me!”
Tunde hissed exasperated “And do you have any proof that she’s my mistress? Photos, videos?” he mocked. Pricking her with his words, she refused to back down.
“I just believe I deserve a bit more respect especially in public”
“First, my family is hardly public and second, the conditions of our marriage is an open secret”, his voice was sharp “and respect is earned you don’t demand what you don’t deserve!”
Her chest rose and fell with silent fury and as she stared at the man the world knew to be her husband, a slow cynical smile curved her lips and she shook her head but he didn’t even turn to look at Priscilla, it made her feel cheap and uneasy as though he was filled with disgust.
“Get out!” he said to her.
Her mood changed from hurt to being startled in a flash.
“Didn’t I make myself clear?” He still did not look at her as if he would hit her if he dared to. “I said get out!” His voice mirrored his controlled anger. Wisely, she did not protest and got out of the car as meek as a lamb. She slammed the door as hard as she could; inside she was reeling fearful least she made him very angry.
There was a bit of silence between them and suddenly the engine purred and car scrambled off, no doubt to meet his mistress, she thought to herself but she went through the gate into the compound full of anger and fear and shaky. As Priscilla opened the front door, she wondered if she had made the best decision confronting her fearful husband.
Continue to Episode 3 Here Safe Haven : Episode 3
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