Ruthless Betrayals Chapter 1

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Saturdays, for most people and business establishments, was a rest day, but an emerging business tycoon like me couldn’t afford such luxury. However, my office opened later than usual for the day and closed much earlier, and the dress code for my employees was casual.
Dressed in a colorful polo shirt and dark blue jeans, I was in the air-conditioned comforts of my big office that morning, seated in behind my large black high-polished desk, very busy indeed when the beep of the intercom shattered my concentration.
I glanced irritably at the damn thing.
It was my secretary alright. And it wasn’t that long I’d arrived the office and given her specific instructions that I wasn’t to be disturbed. I glanced at the gold wall clock on the opposite wall. It was ten thirty-five, about an hour ago.
I reached out and hit a button on the console. “This had better be good.”
“I’m so sorry, sir,” said Susan quickly. “But Chief Okeke insists on speaking with you right away.”
My annoyance evaporated at once. “Put him on.”
“Yes, sir.”
I picked up the receiver and reclined back comfortably in my expensive, high-backed, leather swivel chair.
Bexford Okeke was a very special friend of mine and our friendship went way back to our days together in secondary school. We had been best friends back then and when, later, I moved on to university after a two-year delay due to financial problems in my poor home and met him already well-established among the rich kids there, our friendship continued. Of course, coming from a poor home, devoted to my studies and all, I never quite fit into his new high-flying crowd, but Bex and I were always good. He helped me out a lot with everything from cash and clothes to foodstuffs, and he did all this very quietly, never asking or expecting anything in return.
Bex and I lost touch completely when he graduated two years ahead of me and disappeared into the United Kingdom. But then a few months ago, after over eight long years, we literally walked right into each other at the Sheraton hotel restaurant, Ikeja. He was now married with a baby boy and his Port-Harcourt based billionaire father had bought him a big Chieftaincy title and gifted him the family holdings in Lagos. With my new-found affluence, I had no difficulties blending into Bex’s circles this time. Tonight, his lovely wife, Fiona, was giving an exclusive party at their palatial Victoria Island residence in honor of her UK-based elder brother who was getting married to a white lady. My name, as always now, went automatically on the A-list of invited guests.
A click came in my ear, and then Bex’s voice.
“Larry?”
“Yeah, Bex, what’s up?”
“Oh man, you’re sure getting harder to reach these days, stalling, high paid secretaries, hefty bodyguards and all.”
I chuckled. “Sorry, man. I’ve been a bit busy.”
“Yeah, I gathered that much,” he said dryly. “Your cell phone’s been switched off since yesterday.”
 “Come on, man, an ex-babe-killer like you should know that with Easter around the corner, the chicks are calling non-stop for commitments.”
He laughed. “I thought you had a separate line for that?”
“Hell, man, some of these girls are something else entirely. They always manage to get their hands on all the other numbers as well.”
Bex laughed. “Now you’re beginning to understand why I retired permanently from the game.”
We laughed together.
“What’s up? I asked again.
“It’s the wife, man. She’s been trying to reach you since yesterday, she asked for my help this morning.”
“Why?” I asked in surprise.
Bex chuckled. “Not ‘why’, it’s ‘Who’.”
“Who?”
“One of her friends just flew in from Abuja and she’s suddenly come to the conclusion that you two are a match made in heaven.”
“You are joking,” I said incredulously.
“Hell, no, man. They’ve been talking non-stop about you since yesterday.”
I sat up. “You’re really serious?”
Bex laughed. “Here’s a fact. Fiona instructs and I quote, ‘tell Larry, he’s to bring himself alone here this evening and at least an hour early. He mustn’t bring any female companion because I already have the perfect match for him and I trust he doesn’t want to disappoint me’.”
Taking control of things, issuing orders and instructions all around in such a nice way that people couldn’t really refuse, that was beautiful Mrs. Bexford Okeke alright. Fiona had made it her pet project to get me decently married off. She’d made quite a few moves before, but nothing as concrete as this.
“This babe, is she really hot?” I asked.
“Smoking hot and exactly your type, tall, high-yellow, full in the front and surplus in the backside, but man, is she a beauty! I swear to God, if I wasn’t so satisfactorily married, I would have taken a go at her myself. Who were you planning to bring tonight, anyway?”
I took a deep breath and let it out. “Had a really nice new chick lined up.”
“What about Nkechi?”
“Ah, man, I’m done there for good.”
“Sorry to hear that,” said Bex. “That girl was really something.”
I sighed regretfully. “Yeah, she was, but I’m done with her.”
“Sounds like you’ve already found a replacement in this new chick.”
“You know me, man, I don’t waste time.”
Bex laughed. “Sounds like this one is quite something too.”
“Ahhh, our elders say seeing is believing, man. She’s a deliciously matured, first-class big babe with a super-sized booty. I’m talking a huge champion ass here.”
Bex burst out laughing. “You and women’s backsides! I reckon you haven’t touched this one yet.”
“Hell, man, she’s a decently married Yoruba Muslim lady, her husband is living overseas though. It took me a whole month alone to break the ice, and then another to get her dancing to my tune. Today was supposed to be D-day and the plan was to bring her to the party tonight, then straight to my place for the rest of the weekend.”
“Where did you even find a woman like that?”
“At an eatery in Ikeja. I nearly fell over a chair from staring at her, swinging that huge champion ass like nobody’s business as she walked through the place. I’m telling you, man, this ass is a heavy-duty killer!”
Bex laughed. “Still, it took you two months to get anywhere near it. You must be getting old.”
“To hell with you!”
We laughed together.
“So what’s your reply? You up for Fiona’s friend tonight or not?”
“Oh, I’m up alright. I’ll be there, all alone and early like she wants. Tell me a bit more about this chick so I’ll know exactly what I’m getting myself into.”
Bex laughed. “I think I’ve already said enough. The wife explicitly forbade me from saying anything at all, said it would ruin the surprise, and what a beauty of a surprise! I strongly suggest you hurl your ass here and take matters into your own hands.”
“Oh, I will.”
“Good for you then, I’ll pass the word. See you later.”
“You too, man.”
I put down the receiver and gave the matter some thought, but Nkechi kept popping into my mind.
Nkechi had been my favorite girlfriend for a record seven months. Nkechi was simply lovely. She was tall, light-skinned and beautiful with a very well-endowed, plumpish, curvy body that drove me crazy with lust, over and over again, and she knew exactly how to use that body to satisfy my wild sexual desires wonderfully. Nkechi was smart and sophisticated like well-bred ladies come, a wonderful companion when in the right mood, otherwise she was pure trouble. Two weeks ago, Nkechi welcomed me home from a business trip with a blunt demand for an exclusive relationship leading to marriage and I balked. At thirty-three, I wasn’t quite ready to settle down, certainly not with a highly jealous and overbearing woman with a quick fury temperament that could cool into long-lasting, brooding anger. A woman who had proven, time and again, that she could weld sex ruthlessly as a weapon to get her way. I foolishly told her my mind and in the terrible row that followed, Nkechi packed her things and left my house, but not before smashing the 58-inch plasma TV in the living room with the most expensive bottle of French wine from my bar.
My mind went to Bukky, the perfect replacement for Nkechi at the moment. Though not quite as beautiful or as light-skinned, she sure as hell had the right kind of overflowing figure and an easy-going nature that guaranteed she would be no trouble at all. Bukky had nice height, a pretty face and most importantly, a very voluptuous plump body featuring a vast prominent backside that was breathtaking.
A clear image of Bukky, impressive backside first, suddenly popped into my mind’s eye and my manhood instantly became desperate. I picked up my cell phone from the desk at once, switched it on and put a call to her. There was no way I was letting that super champion ass slip through my hands tonight.
“Good morning, Larry,” came Bukky’s soft voice in my ear.
“Hello, baby, how’re you this fine morning?”
“I’m fine, thank you.”
“You sound better, beautiful is more like it.”
She laughed softly. “Are you at the office?”
“Yeah, baby,” I changed my tone to become dead serious. “Listen, a business emergency just came up and I have to rush down to Ibadan right away. Unfortunately, this means we can’t go to the party tonight as planned.”
She sighed disappointedly. “Oh well, it’s okay, I –”
“No, it’s not okay. Look, I’ll make it up to you by taking you to a bigger party on the eve of Easter next week.”
She was silent a moment. “So that means I won’t see you until next week?”
“Don’t push your luck, girl. I plan to be all over you tonight, even if I have to frog jump all the way back from Ibadan in the dead of night.”
She burst out laughing and I relaxed.
“When exactly are you coming back?” she asked.
“Very late tonight, so I want you at my place to welcome me. I’ll send Ajuna to pick you up this evening, okay?”
“Okay,” she replied easily.
“That’s my girl, see you later tonight.”
“See you too, and please drive carefully.”
I chuckled. “Sure will, baby, bye.”
“Bye.”
Feeling very pleased with myself, I switched off the phone again and put it aside, then got busy with my laptop and desktop computers, cross-referencing with some documents folders open on the desk before me.
About an hour later, I sat back with deep satisfaction and stared at the information displayed on the screen of my laptop. Business was wonderful and the money was rolling in so smoothly now with zero percent losses despite the diversity of my investments. It was like mother luck herself was camped right in my pocket.
My mind drifted back to a time not too long ago when I had been as poor as a church rat, going days, even weeks, without a proper meal, and then even further back in time.
I was the only son and second of six children born into a very poor Igbo family living in the slums of the ancient city of Aba in Abia state, eastern Nigeria. My father, a veteran of the Nigerian civil war, was a small-time palm oil trader while my mother ran a small firewood trading business beside the building where we had our single room home, sharing a single toilet, bathroom and kitchen space with thirteen other tenants and their respective families. My parents invested everything they had on their children, particularly me, the only son. Consequently, while my sisters attended cheap public schools I was sent to prestigious private schools, which was how I came into contact with rich people’s children like Bexford Okeke. I was the only child sent on to university; the University of Port Harcourt from which I graduated with honors in Mechanical Engineering and a diploma in computer science on the side. Seven years ago, after my NYSC in the northern part of the country, I moved down south to the industrialized city of Lagos with great expectations, but a year later, I was still jobless and my high hopes were almost dead. It was out of frustration and starvation that I accepted a teaching job at a private secondary school and took up teaching on a major basis. My peace came to an end a few short months later when my entire family perished in a ghastly auto accident while traveling to our hometown in the neighboring Imo state for the Christmas holiday, only my youngest sister survived with minor wounds. I borrowed heavily to give my family the last respects of a decent burial only to discover afterward that I had inherited even more debts and family troubles I never even knew existed. I became a total mess after that burial, emotionally, mentally and financially. I lost my teaching job, and then my girlfriend, my only comfort at the time, jilted me for a rich guy with a flashy car. That was the final straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. It pushed me over the edge to suicide.
First, it was a heavy overdose of sleeping tablets and raw alcohol, but the pills turned out to fake, so all I got was a terrible hangover the next morning. Right afterward, I tried hanging myself by the neck with a rope tied to the ceiling fan hook in my cockroach infested one room abode, but termites had already eaten up all the wood in the roof and the whole thing came crumbling down on me instead.
That final close shave with death along with a coinciding phone call from my only surviving sister, the youngest, complaining and crying over her ill-treatment in my Uncle’s household changed my outlook on life completely. It awakened in me a new zeal to succeed at all costs.
I got another teaching job and struggled on for a few more months until, one day, something happened that changed my life completely.
School was out on a brief holiday and I seized the opportunity yet again to go hunting for the right job. Walking down a quiet street in Surulere, a major business and industrial district of Lagos, one afternoon after a brief downpour, a big jeep came up fast from behind me, hit a pothole hard, splattering me from head to foot with the muddy contents and sped away on away. I just stood there staring helplessly after the rapidly departing vehicle, my clothes – white shirt sleeves, black trousers, and shoes – completely ruined, when a sleek black Nissan Ultima car approaching from that direction slowed, and then stopped as it came alongside me. The dark window slid down a fraction and someone hailed my name from within.
That was how I met Victor Uzoma again, my best friend during my NYSC days. He was based in Abuja now and only in Lagos for the wedding of a cousin. I attended that wedding with him, dressed in an expensive new suit brought by him. A few days later, when he showed me a complicated computer problem and I solved it quickly and easily, he invited me to join him in business, and the business – internet fraud with a flourishing electronics marketing company as a front. I moved back to Abuja with Victor and within three months, bought a new car and got a nice house of my own.
Victor and I made so much money in our first year together that my fear of getting caught became very strong, and Victor’s flamboyant lifestyle only made things worse. Victor lived like a wayward prince, enjoying himself to the fullest like there was no tomorrow, trusting in voodoo charms for everything from protection to success in every aspect of life including business. His old ‘all play and little work’ nature was in full bloom and he lacked patience with very complicated issues in general. In our business, once an account became too complicated, he would brush it aside and move on to another. Long before the end of that first year, my mind was already made up to quit the business as soon as I made enough money to live comfortably for life. And it was so that I started working those ‘complicated accounts’ secretly on my own, made private fortunes and secretly hid them all away in numbered accounts overseas.
The months passed and I kept putting off quitting the business for just a little longer, taking more and more elaborate precautions to ensure I never got caught; the money was simply too good to walk away from. Everything was going so well until the day the shit hit the fan and, of course, it was Victor’s fault.
Victor was a king-sized womanizer and even his fiancée knew it. She had caught him red-handed several times in her short reign yet she stayed, enjoying the hell out of his money until Victor suddenly replaced her with a smoking hot undergraduate from the University of Abuja. The malicious bitch didn’t just walk away, she had somehow acquired a critical knowledge of the true nature of our business and wasted no time in sharing it with the dreaded EFCC – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, an élite branch of the Nigerian law enforcement agencies.
As luck would have it, they hit our offices first, and on a day Victor and I were cooling off after a big windfall so I was at home that fateful morning when the tip-off call came from one of the security guards in the building who was secretly on my payroll as part of an early warning system. I left the house instantly, taking nothing except the clothes I wore and the briefcase containing my laptop, important items, and documents. I didn’t even take my exotic new Toyota Camry car parked in the garage or go out the front gates of the private bungalow that was my home. I went over the back fence into the neighborhood’s sewer system and from there out onto another street where I had a getaway car parked and waiting, all covered with a tarpaulin, for the last six months, a powerful near new Volkswagen Tuareg Jeep with solid dark windows. As I drove off in the jeep, the illiterate Hausa security man at the gates of my house sent a flash message to my phone like I’d taught him. The EFCC agents were at the gates.
Victor wasn’t so lucky. They caught him with his new fiancé in his big state-of-the-art mansion with all his five expensive state-of-the-art cars parked in a row. Victor shot himself dead before they got inside to him.
I didn’t leave Abuja right away. I went to ground in a small hotel on the outskirts of town, contacted some underworld mobsters connected to Victor and gave them marching orders. I had lived in Abuja under a false identity and kept a very low profile; not a real friend, document or photo existed anywhere. Only one person besides Victor could give the EFCC some real information about me, the girl who worked as a secretary for Victor and I. The mobsters kidnapped the girl and brought her to me. I gave her a million naira and the simple advice of erasing her memory completely of me and disappearing into thin air. She took all three eagerly and the mobsters saw her off on her way out of town. Next, I gave them instructions to go after Victor’s dethroned fiancée and teach her a lesson she would never forget in her life, but they turned me down. Victor had been their friend, they said, so they were going to handle things their way. They kidnapped the girl right under the nose of the EFCC, gang-raped and brutalized her to death, then buried the body in a deep grave somewhere in a bush. When they showed me a detailed camera phone recording of the whole thing, I didn’t say a word. I just got in my jeep and left Abuja for good, stopping at a big church in the neighboring state to purge my immortal soul of its weighty sins.
For three months afterward, I drifted aimlessly through the southern cities of the country, staying at different hotels and keeping a low profile until I got confirmations from paid contacts in Abuja that the EFCC case was dead. Then and only then did I make my move.
Two and a half years after leaving Lagos a very poor man, I returned a very rich one and began to set myself up legitimately, but only to a modest limit.
Today, barely three years later, my business had taken firm roots and was expanding rapidly. I now owned a big palm oil-producing and trading company based in the eastern part of the country with thousands of hectares of Oil Palm plantations spread out in two states. I owned an electronics imports and distribution company based here in Lagos, owned major oil and gas interests, owned millions of dollars’ worth of stocks in both local and international blue-chip companies and other lesser investments. Lots of people worked for me now and well paid general managers ran my companies. I controlled everything from the air-conditioned comforts of this office, with the assistance of an efficient staff, under the very legitimate umbrella of Phoenix Investments Nigeria Limited which occupied a large suite of offices on the top floor of a modern steel and glass two-story office building in the Apapa business hub of Lagos. I now traveled regularly on business trips, in and out of the country, lived in a beautiful modern duplex in highbrow Festac Town, drove three posh cars and, of course, had a long string of beautiful willing women at my beck and call. People who knew me of old marveled at my new-found wealth, even the pastor of my former church now said I was a man well blessed by God.
My mind was suddenly jerked back to the present by a loud beep from my laptop and I got busy again.
I left the office at noon and Ajuna, my right-hand man and bodyguard, drove me straight home. The drive took almost half an hour due to some heavy traffic and when finally, my sleek white Murano Jeep rolled up before the gates to the close where I had my residence, the security men on duty recognized it at once and let it through with their customary military salute.
This was an exclusive close of only five duplex buildings. Large state-of-the-art duplexes of different architectural designs and all to the right side of the street. A high walled fence running all along the left side of the street screened off the private bungalows to the next close. Each duplex had an identical twin right and left-wing private houses, some of which had been touched up to the different tastes of their individual owners. Each wing was large with modest compound space enclosed by a secure, high walled fence and two separate large gates opening out onto the street. The second and last duplex stood out as the largest buildings of the five. I lived in the right-wing of the last duplex which I had acquired directly from the real estate company that built the whole close and it was quite a prize. It was mansion-sized, yellow painted with a high black roof and two separate sets of big black gates. My immediate neighbors in the identical left-wing were a nice Indian family.
Ajuna pulled up in front of the main gates of my home with a beep of the horn and Mr. Moses, my ever-present, and alert middle-aged security man, threw them open, smooth and fast. Ajuna drove through into the compound and parked carefully by the other two cars – a gleaming black BMW 5 series and Pathfinder Jeep, parked under the large sheltering awning in front of the house. I got out easily from the front passenger seat where I usually sat and walked across the compound, heading for the front door.
The whole compound was perfectly neat and tidy like I loved it. The tiled stone floor was swept clean and the flower beds freshly trimmed and watered down. I took the two front steps easily at a go and went in through the big Swiss double doors. The air-conditioned interior of my well-furnished, large living room was a welcome relief from the terrible heat of high noon outside. I had called ahead and my only surviving sister, Chinelo, now a lovely robust-bodied university undergraduate of twenty-three presently on a brief break, and Mary, a distant relative of about the same age, serving as my housekeeper, were preparing the dining table together for my lunch. My sensitive nose picked up the delicious aroma of the African dish right away and I felt the pangs of hunger at once. I hadn’t eaten much last night and then skipped breakfast despite a vigorous early morning workout exercise.
I headed straight across the room for the dining table.
“Welcome, Dede,” greeted Mary at once with a very respectful curtsy.
“Welcome Dede,” greeted my sister respectfully as well.
Acknowledging the respectful greeting of the girls with a casual nod, I sat down and attacked the food right off. It was my native Igbo Ogbono soup and pounded yam and it was very delicious. The girls quietly retreated into the kitchen and left me alone to eat.
Ajuna soon came in with my briefcase and took it straight upstairs to my bedroom. He came back downstairs right quick and promptly disappeared into the kitchen, smart business suit and all. Ajuna loved good food, a lot of it, and had an impressive physic to prove it. He also enjoyed the company of the girls.
After the meal, I went upstairs to my bedroom to sleep. The night would be a long one.
The alarm of my phone brought me awake sharply at four o’clock that evening and I went straight into the shower. Once out, I set about getting dressed and did it carefully. I put on an expensive new black Spanish suit and black Italian shoes to match, my prized gold watch went on my left wrist and the matching large gold ring on the forefinger. Completely ready, I stood and looked myself over in the floor to ceiling mirrors that covered a section of my bedroom wall.
Tall, fair-complexioned and quite handsome with a powerful broad-shouldered athletic build, kept fit by regular workouts, I was a ‘proper lady killer’ as my friends would put it. My low-cut black hair was brushed down smoothly on my skull in glossy waves, my face was perfect, the suit was perfect and my reflection was perfect. I sprayed on some cologne then went downstairs full of confidence for the night.
Ajuna was already waiting in the living room and he was dressed as always in a smart business suit. He was going on an errand for me before picking up Bukky so I gave him final instructions as we walked out together to the cars.
Ajuna was twenty-eight, just five years younger than me, but much bigger. He was big and very dangerous looking; he was a sheer six feet six inches in height, which was a full head taller than me, and built like a powerful heavyweight wrestler. About two years ago, when I first laid eyes on him, Ajuna had been one of the common laborers working on the building site of my new mansion in my hometown back east in Imo state. One look at his impassive physique and work rate, the intelligent handsome features and cool-headed nature with which he conducted himself, heard the fairly good English he spoke, and I hired him on the spot as a driver and bodyguard even though he had no idea how to do either at the time. It turned out that he was the son of a very poor widow who had been a close friend of my late mother’s and the old lady literally handed him over to me completely. Ajuna turned out to be quite smart and a very determined quick learner so his refinement had been swift. He got his driver’s license in no time and excelled in all the special training programs I enrolled him in to transform him into the perfect bodyguard. There was no sign of the tattered, semi-literate village laborer anymore, Ajuna was now more refined than most university graduates I knew, he certainly spoke better English, and his newly acquired combat skills made him very dangerous to all my enemies with or without a weapon. He was an honest to God fellow like his mother, reliable as a rock, hardworking and vastly loyal so he was fast becoming more of an indispensable right-hand man to me now.
“…give her the VIP treatment so she’ll feel important. She loves suya, the grilled ram meat kind, so once you pick her up, take her straight to the joint and buy her lots of it. When you get here, set her up in my bedroom and make sure she’s very comfortable. Give her whatever she wants, I want her relaxed and cool when I return, got it?”
Ajuna nodded. “Got it, boss.”
We had come up to the BMW and he quickly got the driver’s door open for me. I got in carefully behind the wheels like King Edward of England and he closed the door firmly. Mr. Moses threw the gates open as I started the soundless engine. It was just past five o’clock as I pulled out of the compound and went racing away.
Victoria Island was clear across on the other side of the sprawling city of Lagos. It was one of the most prestigious high luxury residential areas in Lagos and indeed the whole Nigeria; some of the houses were valued in the millions of dollars. Victoria Island was bordered to the east by the even more prestigious Lekki cities and both were situated on a long peninsula sandwiched in-between the breezy Atlantic Ocean and the huge Lagos lagoon. The islands of Ikoyi, another high luxury residential area, and Lagos Island itself, the most important business hub of Lagos state, both formally seats of the old British colonial government that ruled Nigeria for nearly two centuries until independence in 1960, were the only access routes to Victoria Island. They were just across the lagoon from Victoria Island and were linked by two bridges which gave rise to the Lekki expressway that ran through the whole length of the peninsula. Ikoyi and Lagos Island were in turn linked to the Lagos mainland by three huge bridges, the First Mainland Bridge, the Second Mainland Bridge and the Third Mainland Bridge. The Oshodi-Apapa superhighway, bypassing Festac Town was indirectly connected to Lagos Island by the First Mainland Bridge.
A terrible traffic jam at the entrance ramp to the Oshodi-Apapa super highway delayed me an hour, but once clear, I put the speed of the powerful BMW to good use and made it to the Okeke’s palatial residence in Victoria Island by sundown. Lots of expensive cars were parked all along the street outside, but security recognized my car right off and directed me to a reserved spot closer to the gates of the big mansion. I parked between a big Mercedes G-wagon and an even bigger Navigator jeep then walked through the wide-open gates towards the big house. The whole place was ablaze with light and the sound of soft soul music came from inside the big house. Two big bodyguards in dark suits stood flanking the big glass front doors, they held it open as I approached and I walked right in.
The party was to begin by seven o’clock, in twenty minutes, so most of the guests were already there. The large, high-ceiled hall that was the main living area and the adjoining living rooms had been cleared for the occasion and the guests stood around in groups, drinks in hand, mingling and chatting, the sound of their laughter and chatter barely drowned by the soft soul music filling the whole place.
I instantly spotted Bex talking to a white couple halfway across the big room and he saw me right off. He detached himself immediately and came over.
Thirty-seven years old, good looking, average height with a full, well-fed body and potting stomach, Bex was dressed expensively in a traditional outfit; a long robe and trousers of an expensive soft yellow material with matching shoes. His traditional Chieftaincy beads, long necklace, and bracelets of large white beads were in place, but not the tall red hat.
“Oh man, you are way past due,” he announced, coming up.
“Sorry,” I said, smiling apologetically. “Got trapped in the mother of all traffic jams.”
He laughed.
We slapped hands in a handshake and hugged each other fondly.
“I had it figured you’d changed your mind about this chick tonight,” said Bex as we stood back and looked at each other.
“Not on your life!” I replied at once.
Bex threw back his head in delighted laughter, then put an arm around my shoulder, gesturing towards the big bar. “Let’s get you a nice drink first, then go pacify the hostess. She’s quite displeased.”
“So that friend of hers is already here?”
“Arrived ages ago,” he waved away a uniformed waiter who stepped up with a tray of champagne glasses and began to steer me towards the bar then stopped. “Ah, here she comes already.”
Fiona, looking glorious in a floor-length yellow dress, matching the yellow color of her husband’s clothes, long black hair falling all over her shoulders and an abundance of glittering jewelry that must have cost the equivalent of the annual income of many families, was cat walking purposefully across the room towards us, glass of wine in hand, disapproving expression in place on her beautiful face.
I was screwed.
Bex patted me on the back encouragingly and turned aside to speak to another waiter.
Fiona was a light complexioned, luscious beauty with a law degree from the prestigious University of Lagos. She came from very wealthy backgrounds like Bex, was sophisticated as hell and a born socialite. Her father was Igbo while her mother was Yoruba and she spoke both languages very fluently but having lived several years in the United Kingdom like Bex, she was a champion in the English language, when pissed the thing became more of a weapon.
Fiona held up a hand, forestalling any excuses from me as she came up. “You are abominably and unforgivably late and I unambiguously specified you were to be here at least an hour early.”
I gave her my best boyish grin and a courteous bow, “I’m sorry, your majesty, I had the stupidity of getting caught up in terrible traffic.”
She burst out laughing and gave me a delicate hug, touched her cheeks against mine then stood back smiling radiantly like a million dollars. “You always have a plausible excuse on that honey-coated tongue of yours. I hope you didn’t bring any woman here?”
I held up my hands fast. “I swear to God, I’m not even thinking of any woman, not even my mother.”
Husband and wife laughed heartily.
“There’s someone special I’ve set up to keep you company for the evening,” said Fiona holding up the well-maintained finger on a beautiful hand. “Just give me a minute to go and get her.”
Without waiting for my response, she turned and cat-walked off again, heading across the room, a superlatively elegant figure.
I watched her go a moment, then responded to a wave from someone I recognized across the room. A waiter stepped up with a glass on a tray and I accepted it, took a sip and realized it was an expensive cocktail mix with my favorite brandy.
I glanced at Bex. “You know, Bex, you could have filled me in privately on exactly what I’m getting myself into here.”
Bex laughed. “She explicitly told me not to tell you a thing, and when it comes to the wife and the friend, I invariably choose the wife. She’s certainly better looking, won’t you agree?”
“Fuck you,” I said
He laughed delightedly.
Across the room, Fiona walked up to a group of lovely ladies standing around in a loose circle as they chatted and laughed together, sipping at the champagne flutes in their hands. She pulled one aside and began to talk to her, pointing repeatedly in my direction.
“That’s her,” said Bex. “Estella Maduike.”
I was surprised. “Maduike? As in Tiffany Maduike?”
He nodded.
“They look nothing alike,” I said.
“That’s because they’re cousins. This one’s been living up in Abuja and according to Fiona, she’s just been through a very disappointing relationship so decided to come down here and chill a while with her folks who live in Maryland. Quite stunning, isn’t she? Remember to look surprised when Fiona makes the introductions or I’m dead.”
I barely heard what Bex was saying as I stared at the two women now coming across the room. My gaze was fixed on the tall, light-skinned lady cat walking perfectly beside Fiona. She wore a long black dress that set off the curvy perfection of her voluptuous full figure, matching black high heel shoes, a rich mass of long curly black hair falling all over her shoulders. She was remarkably beautiful even from a distance and was getting even better as she came closer.
Both women came up and Fiona made the introductions with a flourish.
“Larry, this is Estella Maduike, Tiffney’s cousin and an old friend of mine. Estella, Larry.”
Estella Maduike gave me a lovely smile and I was in trouble. Our eyes locked as I took her hand in mine and all the charming words in my head deserted me.
“Hello,” I managed.
“Hi,” she replied in the most beautiful soft voice, smiling.
This was Africa, land of the full-figured woman. Lots of women had a pretty face and a nice curvy body. You admired them and you forgot them, but there were those ones you never forgot even if you got clobbered on the head with a hammer. Estella Maduike was one such woman. She was drop dead gorgeous from head to feet; face and glowing light complexioned skin like a world-class beauty queen, a robust curvy body that was a perfect figure eight knockout; full breasts, narrow waist, wide curvy hips with a generous backside.
“Larry, I can trust you to take good care of my friend, can’t I?” Fiona was saying.
I suddenly realized I was staring spellbound at Estella, still held her hand too. I released it and struggled to regain my composure fast.
Fiona was smiling and Bex was grinning like a bloody idiot.
I managed a smile. “You can trust me, Fiona. I’ll be nice.”
Fiona’s perfect white teeth flashed in a broadened smile and she linked her arm with her husband’s. “Come on, honey, let’s leave them alone. We have other guests to attend.”
As they moved off I turned to Estella again and we stared at each other. She appeared as affected by me as I was by her, but more controlled as women usually are. Our eyes locked again and suddenly the soft soul music and her perfume seemed to fill the air around us. She took an unhurried sip from the glass of champagne in her beautiful hand without looking away from me and I found myself doing the same, drinking from my wine glass.
We lowered our glasses and stared fixedly at each other again. I struggled to find my voice.
“Why don’t we go and find someplace quiet out by the pool and get to know each other better?” I asked.
She seemed to consider that for a moment. Her beautiful hand, with well-maintained, long glossy red fingernails, came up and brushed back the long hair from her lovely face with a graceful movement.
“Alright,” she said finally, her voice soft and lovely.
As we moved off together, I put a hand on her waist to guide her ahead of me and it went unchallenged.
Never had I felt so much pride and pleasure in the company of a woman. Estella was very sophisticated, cool and confident like only a very beautiful and intelligent woman can be. Her extraordinary beauty and full sexy figure attracted male attention like a magnet, but she couldn’t have cared less. She had eyes only for me and me alone. I didn’t believe in love at all, certainly, not at first sight, lust at first sight was more like it, but by the end of that party when Estella Maduike kissed me goodbye and left with her cousin, I was helplessly smitten.
It was near midnight when I got home and Bukky was waiting in my bed. Making love to her, my mind was busy doing the same to Estella, which was a good thing too, because Bukky, though yielding, turned out to be completely unresponsive to sex. She just lay there like dead wood while I nearly killed myself trying to satisfy both of us. I finally gave up on her and concentrated on personal gratification. I made love to her twice that way before dropping off to sleep feeling cheated.
Early the next morning, Sunday, I left Bukky still sound asleep in my bed and went off to the club having given Ajuna instructions to get rid of her permanently.
Estella played hard to get for four days before allowing me to take her out to dinner on Thursday, the night before Good Friday. Our relationship blossomed very fast from there and it was like we knew each other of old. We spent Good Friday, and then the following Saturday together, hitting one lovers’ spot after another. On Easter Sunday, we flew to Port Harcourt to see a big concert and ended up spending three days locked together in a hotel room. The affair had gone on for about two months when Estella announced she was pregnant and I wasted no time nor spared any expense in marrying her.
Estella and I didn’t live happily ever after as fantastic love tales go, but we certainly did for a few months, right until the day she poisoned me and disappeared with all my money.

 

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