9JA STORY: Just a taste (EP 21-30)

Just A Taste
PREVIOUSLY ON EPISODE (11-20)


Episode 21

NADIA: My mouth went wide for shock. There is only one way Brenda would have done that. She must have known I had been kidnapped. Or maybe she herself planned it.

“Brenda is planning to get me expelled”

I explained when Daniel wasn’t moving a muscle.

He quickly took me around the back house. As big as the plaza, within minutes we were out.

“This way”

He led me to an SUV Jeep. So Daniel has a Jeep.

“You’ll need a new phone. I’m guessing my Uncle has your phone”

He said and stop by to get me a new phone, despite my attempts to stop him.

Joyce called again.

“Nadia, there is big trouble, it seems Brenda found out. she knows you are on your way back to the Academy. Instead of tomorrow, the competition has been dated for this evening. I know Brenda is behind this”

I didn’t know how to take the news. It seems Brenda is really working hard to see me out.

“What do we do now?”

I questioned and signaled Daniel to drive faster.

“I’ll send the food you would prepare to your phone. Sorry Daniel’s phone. And how to prepare it. Learn it Nadia. And be fast about it”

“Learn it over the phone? How is that possible?”

I interjected. What does she take me for? Some kind of adaptor machine?

“Nadia, you are a great cook. Learn it or you won’t be promoted to grade 2”

I swallowed hard and shut my eyes.

“Ok, send it”

I dropped the phone and looked out the window.

“God help me”

**

DANIEL: You know that moment when you know you’ve done something wrong. And you don’t know how to apologize.

As I watched Nadia look out the window, two things played in my mind.

How do I tell her about my uncle’s family?

How do I apologize?

I mustered courage and opened my mouth, but before I landed she turned.

“Daniel, Brenda wants me out of the house”

Her words were hasty, like she wanted me to think something thru and reason with her.

“So?”

I wasn’t getting her point.

She gave me that look.

I gasped when I understood..

“Brenda is working with my Uncle?”

“Look out!”

She screamed on top of her voice when I almost lost control of the steering.

“Daniel, abeg if I have to drive, please let me. I no wan die biko”

I wanted to laugh but the discovery was still fresh in my brain.

“It was now I began to understand all her words. And questions. Why she never questioned whatever I ask for.

” what do we do now?”

I had to question, since she discovered, there must be something she has in mind.

“First, let’s get this competition trashed. I’ll deal with Brenda later”

NADIA: we got to the Academy 30minutes before the time. I hurried to my room to change to my apron. Joyce wasn’t in the room to at least give me a tip.

I glanced thru my phone again to see.

We were to prepare Ewedu soup. And for God sake, it was a competition against grade 3. Our ticket to get promoted.

“Nadia Serena”

I was few metres away when I heard my name. I doubled my pace and dashed into the Hall to see Brenda speaking with the Judges. I signaled Joyce so she would notice me.

She brimmed with smiles and I could see the sigh of relief.

Sharon signaled me to quickly announce my presence.

“Nadia is here! Am here, sorry for coming late”

The shock on Brenda’s face was just as I expected. She opened her mouth to at least protest.

“Nadia, it got to our table that you were reluctant to participate in this competition”

One of the Judges spoke out when Brenda had done her ranting.

“Sir, it would surprise you to know that I wasn’t informed of the supposed competition”

I fired back.

“And where were you for the past 12hours? You went clubbing? Forgetting that leaving the Academy without due permission is suspension? Or if possible. Expulsion”

Brenda dropped another bombshell to support her charade.

I was short of words. How do I tell the house that I was kidnapped? Who will believe a word I say?.

“She doesn’t even deserve to participate in this competition”

She was buying the Judges already. And I was thinking it was all over when Joyce stood up.

“She was sick sir”

I breathe down.

“And who is a witness to that?”

Brenda fired. It was sister against sister now.

“I was referring to the Judge, not you Brenda”

Joyce corrected and continued. The Hall was now a cinema.

“There are other witnesses. Daniel, Jessy, Sharon”

They all stood up simultaneously and confirmed it.

Me I was just praying in my mind. “God please forgive them, they don’t know what they are saying oh. I am not sick, abeg no vex con throw sickness give me. You know I hate syringe”

Daniel even made matters worst.

“She was sick to death sir”

Ewoh! Jesus. God forbid!.

Brenda clapped for the scene, of course she had a plan B too.

“Why wouldnt she call those she know would gladly lie to protect Nadia’s deeds. All these are lies my Judge!”

Joyce pursed and brought out receipt in my name.

It was obvious Joyce had a plan C!

“Not when there is proof”

She majestically walked towards the Judge and handed it over to him.

He went thru and passed to the other Judges.

“The doctor’s phone number is on it, so he can be called for confirmation”

Brenda wasn’t ready to give up yet.

“Why won’t Nadia speak for herself? You were sick and you didn’t say anything? Because…”

I interjected this time.

“Because I didn’t want to bother anyone. Not everyone appreciate the idea of telling the world the problems he or she faces”

It was settled then, the Judges were convinced. But then Joyce had to throw a final blow

“It seems you don’t care about the welfare of your students, supervisor. You care about the prize. And then you forget we are humans. Please next time investigate well before you try to get any of us innocently expelled”

Everyone, Including the Judges nodded to her words. Brenda was bathed with shame. I could see it.

The competition kicked off.

And God decided to punish me. The paper I had jotted down the process of the ewedu soup recipe was tucked in the Jean trousers i left in our room when I went to change.

I signaled Joyce.

“There is a big, enormous problem.”

DANIEL: I ignored when Brenda signaled me to sit the moment I stood up to support Nadia’s course. The anger I felt prompt me to make the matter more severe.

“She was sick to death sir”

I noticed Nadia shut her eyes and muttered something. I knew she was forbidding it.

So I joined her.

“God forbid oh”

Immediately the competition kicked off. Brenda stole to my side and questioned.

“What was that Daniel? Who are you standing with?”

As planned, I was supposed to keep the fact that I found out about her hide and seek games. But I couldn’t bear it.

“I know everything Brenda. And I guarantee you. Wilson would only use and dump you.

She was quiet for a while. And for a moment there I was thinking I got her.

But then she smiled.

” use and dump his wife? Am not sure about that. You should have taken the easiest way Daniel, at least we would give you a unit office to operate. But now you chose war? So be it!”.

She splashed the words at me and went out of sight.

Of all the words she blurted out. The one I was still trying to understand was

“Use and dump his wife? Am not sure about that?”

Wait…

Wife wetin??

Episode 22

NADIA: I know some people might begin to question my story. It’s becoming too complicated right? At first it all seemed funny. And for me, going into the world of a cook was a new dawn. Little did I know that it entails buried secrets.

There I stood, totally blank on what to do next. Phones were not allowed in the hall. It all seemed like all my dreams were shattered.

I looked to Joyce and beckoned.

I had been lucrative in dangling with the ingredients like I was doing something paramount.

Joyce changed seats, to a place where she was close and very visible.

I picked each ingredient and named them with my fingers.

Oil was 1finger

Stock fish, smoke fish and the meat were 2finger sign.

She understood as I named all the ingredients.

I could remember in the recipe that the Ewedu Leaves would be marched in a small mortar, Just that I didn’t know when.

And so we began. She raised two fingers.

I understood I was supposed to boil the meat into stock.

When I was done she raised 1 finger.

Quickly I added oil and she signaled me to pound.

I marched the Ewedu till she signaled with her finger👌.

I added my marched Ewedu, the stock and the stock fish, crayfish, smoke fish and snails into the soup.

She smiled at me. Whoa I got it.

And then I covered to boil.

I picked pounded yam. We were to either prepare pounded yam or Amala. I knew I sucked at Amala. I wouldn’t dare.

Let’s cut to the chase.

I and the whole of our group got a double promotion to grade 3. Unfortunately some of our mates repeated the grade, some other ones were promoted to grade 2. While some were put on trail.

DANIEL: We were given 3days, free from lessons, to celebrate our new found victory. It was enough time to meet up with Nadia. I had planned my speech on how to reveal everything to her. I had never met my uncle’s wife. Just his kids. Little did I know that I had been kissing and smooching her. So what if we had sex? Like my uncle was ready to have his wife sacrifice her body just to get the throne?. Nadia needs to know about this. My mum would never see reasons with me. Of course it’s her brother. Only brother. She would never believe me. He had never given her a reason to doubt him.

What they were up to, Still remained a mystery. But I wasn’t going to sit and wait till they strike. I have to step up my game. If it means leaving the Academy, then so be it.

NADIA: It’s been a while since I saw Serena. I kinda missed her. This time, Joyce went with me. And I was so glad Serena was ready to help me understand were the whole story started from.

“I and my husband, Bode, found Serena foodies. We started as a normal restaurant, to an eatery. And then we set up classes and branches. We had lots of challenges. But what kept us together, was the love we had for each other. Finally, I made sure we sacrificed alot to set up this Academy. Our love went sour the moment his College school ex, Susan, stepped in. My husband wasn’t bending to her debauchery so she framed me. Drugged and arraigned me with a well paid hooker. She brought my husband to see me lying naked on a hotel bed.”

Serena paused to let out a tear. Before my attempt to console her, Joyce had her tears dried already. So I quickly withdrew.

“A week later I discovered I was pregnant for my husband. But as expected. He rejected the baby. And then married Susan. He relinquished my rights to the company. But he could not push me out because I had large shares.

Susan had a girl too. And took charge. He made sure the world knew that Joyce wasnt his daughter. And then he forbade her from holding any position like Brenda.

Until I was able to prove to him that Joyce was his daughter, with a DNA test. However, Susan had changed the rules. And there was now a board to support her.

The only way I can be reinstated is if I can prove my leadership by training a cook who will win the final competition.”

I was about to suggest why Joyce wasnt picked as a participant but she interjected.

“Anyone except Joyce”

The initial words I had planned slumped back.

“But why me? I mean there are others who could have been much more better. I was a disaster”

She smiled.

“I was to train a disaster”

Oh I understood now.

“That’s why Brenda wants you out of the house by all means. She is to represent Susan. You are to represent me.. Nadia, by all means possible. Watch your back. And be two steps ahead”

DANIEL: Finally, I saw her with her crew, in the eatery. I took a bold step.

“Nadia, please we need to talk”

Sharon was the first to blurt out

“Meaning? So we here, we are not talking?”

Jessy joined in

“Abi oh. Daniel the talker”

I had to bear the insults. I noticed Nadia wasn’t comfortable with their insults. I understood now, she knew who I was.

“Easy girls. It won’t take long”.

” remember the number one rule Nadia”

Sharon said and I couldn’t help but wonder what rule she meant.

“Nadia am sorry for the other day. Sincerely I am”

I had to settled the potholes on ground first.

She couldn’t keep direct eye contact with me. It took her a while before she answered.

“It wasn’t your fault, I understand”

NADIA: Daniel taking me way out to the central Garden was suspicious. Perhaps he wants to ask me out. God what is wrong with me? Since when did I begin to think of that? Or wait, do I want him too? I kept battling with myself.

And when he apologized, I was like ‘what a gentle man’

But then, he had to ruin the moment.

“Am sorry to tell you this but my uncle has been married with kids for more than 15years”

My whole existence vanished for a minute or two.

I married and slept with a married man? Like Wilson fooled me to the cor.

“Stop this Joke Daniel”

He held me back when I attempted to run and scare away from the bitter truth.

“Nadia am telling you this because the enemy we both have is a familiar one. Brenda is his wife”

My head exploded.

“It explains her behavior towards you from the very beginning. I think she knows her husband cheated on her, with you”

My dear readers. I can’t explain what I felt. There is no words made and found in the biggest dictionary in this world that could explain what I felt.

So my dear readers, I leave this question with you.

Put yourself in my shoes, how would you feel?


Episode 23

NADIA: I was devastated. To the point that every other word he said wasn’t making sense. I found a place to seat and think.

“Nadia, I know this isn’t going well but we’ve got to make plans”

I heard that one.

“We?”

He was going to say something else but I wasn’t ready to listen.

I stood up and found my way back to my crew.

“Nadia?”

He called.

“Daniel please, not now. I need to get my head straight”

I didn’t care if I sounded rude. Not that I sat back with my crew. I walked past them straight to my room. Joyce followed.

“What’s up?”

I contemplated on the volume of the embarrassment before I explained everything.

“Wilson and Brenda got married in Germany. Although I didn’t attend”

Joyce confirmed.

“Daniel was now saying we should have a plan or something”

I said, thinking Joyce would support and spurn the idea.

“He’s right. Something doesnt play well here. And if we don’t want to be taken by surprise. Then we should have a plan too”

I really couldn’t figure what or where they wanted to script out the so called plan. When we don’t even know anything about what our enemies want.

DANIEL: Well that’s why I am here to explain. Nadia and Joyce sought after me later on to really understand what was at play.

“Listen, I am the heir to Kayode’s kitchen”

Joyce mouth went wide.

Nadia knew so she had to help Joyce close up her mouth before any stray fly decides to find Refuge in it.

“Yes Joyce he is”

Nadia helped confirm it.

“Brenda knows. And Wilson, he has been after the throne.”
“So man and wife wants to have the throne of the head kitchen in Africa. Once Brenda gets on that seat. She’ll control this Academy too”

Wait I didn’t understand what Joyce said. I could see Nadia had the same questionable expression.

“What do you mean?”

Nadia helped with the question.

“Seriously? You don’t know. Kayode’s kitchen is the head. All other food plaza or eatery answers to Kayode’s kitchen. Like it’s an association or something. My mother can explain better”

I began to understand now, I remembered when I needed permission to go see my mum. The manager who had given me a hard time had to escort me to the gate, apologizing and pleading his eyes out, when my mum had spoken to him over the phone.

“If Brenda gets there, we are finished. We are all finished”

Joyce made it sound like it’s the end of the world.

“Then I don’t think I should be in this Academy. I mean I should be in back in my company where my eyes can reach all his loop holes.”

Joyce didn’t support on that one. Infact she slayed my bubbles.

“No offense, but I guess the reason why your mum sent you here is because you have alot to learn. And if you don’t learn fast. Your uncle would prove he is more capable”

NADIA: Daniel stood up now. Joyce was not saying anything to encourage him.

“Joyce say something nice”

I whispered to her ear and acted like nothing happened when Daniel noticed us.

“For now, we would be seeing more of Brenda.”

She continued

” We’ve been promoted to another grade. So am sure we would have another supervisor”

I corrected, maybe Joyce had forgotten about that.

Joyce scoffed at it.

“Yeah, we are supposed to. But Brenda has an Interest in we three. So my guess is. She would follow up.”

Daniel was not getting any possible solution to his present issue.

“Ok ok! Enough. We’ve been discussing on what our enemy are capable of. What of what we can do to counter their advances?”

We both looked to Joyce.

“Why are both looking at me?”

She frowned.

“Am not some kind of saviour or am i?”

Without uttering a word, we both stared.

“Ok here. Daniel. You would have to reveal who you are to everyone.”

Daniel wasn’t comfortable with the idea.

“Listen. My mum has warned I don’t reveal my identity”

Joyce interjected.

“Your mom, or your uncle suggested and she bought it. I mean why would she want you to keep your identity a secret. Only those at Kayode’s know you are the heir. Your uncle has succeeded in taking the media. I mean I’ve only heard of the heir. No news report, no picture. Your uncle’s picture is everywhere. Don’t you get it? The world sees your uncle as the heir already. You have to step out of the shadows. Starting from this academy”

She turned to me.

“Nadia, Brenda would be on your tail now. By all means. Never prepare anything in our lessons. No matter the Insults she shower on you. She wants to steal the recipe. Save your recipes for the competition”

It so felt like Joyce was the leader of my supposed gang. But then she slut in one important detail.

“One last thing. There is a traitor in our midst”

©onyeneke Abel


Episode 24

NADIA: Someone will think our plans was all we need. I won’t deny though. It was brilliant. And we swung into action.
Although our enemies had theirs we were yet to know. But then, we trusted ours to help us scale thru.
Daniel had swung into action. And within a day, his fame got to the president. He was summoned immediately.

DANIEL: Brenda had avoided me like a plague, the moment my fame was all over the Academy. To the extent I was summoned by the president. I had never seen him before. It was a rare opportunity I was willing to take. Although I was a little nervous.
“Come in”
He was stricken old. But not of old age, he appeared sick. And I was sure his ailment had caused him to age more than his age range.
“Good evening sir”
I greeted and held my hands behind my back.
“Oh have your sit my son”
I smiled within me. I suddenly became someone’s son.
“I heard you are the heir to the head kitchen”
I nodded in affirmation.
“Huh?”

“Yes sir”
I frowned. I was sitting right in front of him, yet he didn’t see me when I nodded my head countless times?.
“What is a man of such caliber doing in our little academy?. I can’t help but wonder”
I was rhetorical in my reply.
“How can I tell the taste of a good food, if I can’t prepare it? I am here to learn and build myself up”.

My readers don’t think about it too much. If you remember vividly. Those words were my mother’s weapon in convincing me to join the Academy. And when I put them before him, I could tell he was highly impressed.
“Good, good. Although I’ve only heard of Mr Wilson. Seems you’ve been hiding in the dark”
What Joyce said was Indeed true.
“He his my uncle. The manager.”

“Oh. I understand now. Good, good. We hope you rule and patronize us well in the nearest future”
I smiled and thanked him.
“Pass me my green tea please”
I took the packet of green tea and a cup beside it.
“Here you go sir”
His hands were reaching me from a total different direction, that I had to hold his hand and place it where he can reach it.
I understand two things. He was partially blind. And he was being poisoned to die slowly.

NADIA: Lessons resumed. And just as Joyce presumed, Brenda followed as our supervisor. The moment she walked into our new lesson Hall, she could hear everyone murmur.
One particular warri guy blurted out.
“Ah ah, you na Moses? You wan follow us reach promise land?”.
Everyone burst out laughing.
Some others replied.
” I tire oh”.
She ignored and waited till the uproar died down, before she kicked off.
“In this grade, we would learn more of food designs and the Americans dish”
She pursed to look at myself and Joyce’s direction. We were whispering amongst ourselves. We had a traitor in our midst. So we kept our plans a secret from every other member of the crew.
“Nadia would prepare this meal after the theory has been taught”
I chuckled. Joyce gave me that look of I-told-you-so.
I waited till she was done, then she called on me.
“With all due respect ma. I can’t prepare this meal”.
I could see the fire lit in her eyes.
” you dare flout my orders? You wanna get expelled?”
I laughed, she was spreading her wings like I didn’t know my right.
It seems the ‘ma’ I added was blocking her sense of reasoning
“Brenda, since when does a supervisor teach a theory and instructs a student to prepare the practical of what she hasn’t taught? Abi I am now a supervisor? Or is this a competition? You have not even taught us the practical aspect of this food. Then how do you expect me to prepare it? Am not some cook machine. I learn when I am being taught”.
For a moment there, the Hall was engulfed with a solid form of silence.
She allowed my words sink Into her brain before she replied in the a calm tone.
“Have your sit”
Daniel and Joyce threw a satisfied wink at me.
She prepared pizza. And we all took a bite.
Daniel followed us up when the lesson was over.
“There is big problem Joyce”
Our ears paid attention.
“I think they are poisoning the president”
Joyce eyes went wide.
“His tea cup was altered with little grains of lotus flower.. It like a slow poison that kills slowly. You would hardly notice. And he won’t know, because he is partially blind”.
I was thinking it was Daniel’s discovery that was getting Joyce dizzy.
But then, it was something else. She lost balance but I was quick hold her.
” what’s wrong Joyce?”.
She sniffed the pizza Brenda had made.
“Oh no, cherries. Am allergic to che..”.
She could not drop the word, she passed out.


Episode 25

NADIA: My story is titled what? Just A Taste. I was having a taste of everything life could offer. The good, the bad, the funny, the ugly. I can’t tell you how it ends without taking you thru the journey.

Our enemies had began to prove they were smart. Probably smarter than what we presume.

“Joyce!”

I had to caution Daniel.

“Don’t scream, ssshh”

I quickly rushed her to the room and placed pressure on her.

“We have to get the cherries out of her system. Else she’ll die Daniel”

“Then let’s take her to the hospital”

Daniel was quick to suggest.

“Wait, no one must know Daniel, no one. Please if you can get someone”

Daniel was thoughtful before her responded.

“Ok, Our family doctor. I can get him here.”

Oh that was so great. He dashed out. I tried to resuscitate her. But,it wasn’t working. Minutes later I noticed her pause was growing weak.

My heart left my chest.

Different thoughts flooded my mind.

If anything should happen, am gone. Like I am finished. All this Nigerian police that can compromise for just 20naira. Brenda would surely rope me up. I rushed to my medical kit to see if by miracle something special had appeared. Nothing, it was the same items I had.

I called Daniel up. He wasn’t picking.

“Jesus!”

I swear I would have collapsed but he saved the day.

He showed up with the man and his facilities.

We both stood aside and prayed so hard in our minds. Daniel reached for my hands and held it.

I gave him that look with a frown on my face.

“What? We need each other to calm our nerves.”

That was his excuse.

“So my hand is now your nerves calmer”

He raised his eyes to heaven and sighed.

“Nadia, be Romantic for once”

His words sounded like butter kola. Wait, I could actually taste it.

“Romantic what?”

I withdrew my hand.

“It was not supposed to get you angry nah, it’s just romance. Or it seems you are really bad at it. I can teach you”

I was about to say something but Joyce sneezed.

We both rushed to her.

“Allow her rest, you can talk to her by tomorrow”

The doctor advised.

“It’s getting late Daniel, why don’t you show the Doctor out”

I said, making sure he understood that I wanted him out of my room.

He only smiled back and whispered.

“It hurts right? To know you are not.. Ok lemme not say the word”

I was burning. But then, I shut my eyes and bit my lips till I was sure he was out.

Minutes later my phone rang. It was Wilson. Although I had deleted his contact, I could still remember his number even in my dreams.

My heart let out a deep beat. And throbbed fast. I held the phone in my hands. Contemplating whether to pick or bounce the call.

The call ended. I sighed in relief thinking it was all over. But he called again. And again. And again.

It was like his call became a torment. I had to switch off the phone.

Hours later I heard a knock on my door. It must be Daniel, I wondered what he was doing here.

“Daniel what..?”

My tongue got stuck. His size had not changed, nor his beard. Infact he had grown broader. Wilson stood before me. With his dark shades and tuxedo.

“Hello love”

DANIEL:

I hurried back to my room after I had succeeded in helping the doctor out. Thank God Everyone knew who I was now. The security worshipped me now. So it wasn’t hard to get the Doctor in and out.

“Hey Daniel. Hi Daniel”

The greetings were becoming alarming.

Only that my roommate refuse to bow. And I was some how happy.

“For your mind abi. The new king”

Akin said when I entered.

“Yes nah, nah only you no dey greet me here.”

He laughed.

“You? Who you help?”

My reply was cut short when my phone rang.

It was my mother.

My mind told me just one thing. She must have found out that I exposed my identity to the public. My eyes went wide. I didn’t pick.

“Who be that?”

Akin questioned, picking his teeth.

“My friend mind your business.. Idiot”

“The babe wey you don blow abi”

This Akin self.

My phone rang again. But this time. It was my mother’s personal Assistant.

I quickly answered. If he calls, it means trouble.

His voice was shaky and I strained my ears to pick what he said.

“Sir, have been keeping this for a while now because madam doesn’t want me to tell you. But it’s getting out of hand. Madam’s health is depreciating everyday, plus she is developing partial blindness”

Episode 26

DANIEL: For some unexpected reasons, my heart missed. I was careful in trying to feign like the call I received wasn’t something serious.

He ended the call as soon as he dropped the word.

“Wetin happen, she don get Belle?”

Akin wasn’t making sense now.

I found somewhere to sit and allowed the news sink well.

Wilson is poisoning my mother, Brenda is poisoning her father. They don’t just want the throne of Kayode’s kitchen. But that of the Academy as well.

“Ok, it seems this is something serious”

Akin understood now.

I was trying to calm myself and think.

First, I have to get to Kayode’s kitchen.

NADIA: The words in my mouth were failing and I hated myself for it. I felt stupid, after all my initial anger towards him. yet, here he stood with confidence, and my walls were crumbling.

He let himself in when I wasn’t saying anything. I noticed his two guards standing on each side of my door.

My tongue got loosed now.

“What are you doing here Wilson? What do you want from me?”

He chuckled when he saw Joyce on drip.

“Sara, this would have been you”

He said and attempted to remove the drip from its position. But he should know that I would gladly kill him if he does.

“Don’t-you-dare!”

He has spent four years to know that once I use such language, it means war.

He respected himself.

“Nadia I gave you the opportunity to go back to your peaceful life. And here I am still giving you the same opportunity. Nadia, go home. And save yourself. Stop involving yourself with issues that doesn’t concern you”

He was true talking, and I knew he was expecting a positive response. But instead, I asked a question. A question that hurts my soul. The one he least expected.

“Wilson, you had a wife. And you married me?”

I could see the shock on his face.

“You lied to me Wilson. You used me.”

He was quiet for a while before he covered the distance us.

“That’s not the issue now.. The issue”

I interrupted when I landed a slap on his face.

“Bastard! You cheat!”

He raised his hand to retaliate. Wilson raised his hand to retaliate. The Wilson I knew would never think of it. Another reason to believe that I had been fooled.

Joyce interrupted when she sneezed in her subconsciousness.

“Don’t you ever. Raise your hands on me again!”

That was what he could say.

“Wilson, you had sex with me. I gave you my virginity. I consecrated my everything to you..”

He was getting bored with my hurt.

“Ohhhh God. What’s all this. Would you deny you didn’t enjoy it? We were both pleasing ourselves and then you decided to rope me Into marriage. To me we were bedmates!”

My heart sank. Tears didn’t just drop but exploded from my eyes.

He reached for me, held my hands and covered my nose with his sedated handkerchief. I was too weak to fight back. Slowly, I lost consciousness, till I saw nothing.

DANIEL: There was no way I could steal into the plaza without everyone noticing me. But I was able to instruct a good number of people that no one knows I’m around. To keep the news of my presence from Wilson. I needed the time to figure this out.

She laid on the sofa in her office. Looking so pale. Fear and anger engulfed me.

“Where is her coffee cup?

I asked Churchill, her assistant.

He quickly brought it. It was there, it had been confirmed. Little dots of lotus flower.

I bounced out of the office. Straight to Wilson’s office.

NADIA: I regained myself when we were just close to his office.

” What the.. Wilson? Help!”

“Put her down!”

It was Daniel.

When he approached, I could see the burns in his eyes.

He covered the distance and spoke out.

“Give her to me”

He ordered Wilson’s security.

They attempted to obey his order.

“They won’t dare, she is mine”

They withdrew me back.

I observed there was something else he wanted to say. But he stopped himself.

He picked his phone and made a call.

“Terminate security o’level 1”

Instantly the electronic card of the particular security beeped from Green to red.

“You are fired!”

Daniel help break the news. Instantly, they released me to him. The unfortunate one pleaded his eyes out, but it was rather too late for him.

Wilson laughed, but it wasn’t genuine.

“We both know. Your present glory would soon end. Daniel”

His abash words was just what I was expecting.

Daniel stopped halfway with my hands safely tucked in his.

“Well we would see about that. now, I am am the king. And you, bow to me”


Episode 27

NADIA: Without a prophet to explain the prophecy, i knew the battle line has been drawn. Wilson raged in anger, I could see it. Daniel had humiliated him. And for one thing I know, what he hates the most is humiliation. He values his pride. And Daniel had crushed it. I knew now that whatever plans they had. It would be doubled. For a moment there i actually thought of just dropping out of the academy as Wilson suggested. And then, I go back to my peaceful life. Free from all these struggle and battle for the throne. But then, I had a new mission. They can fight and battle all they want. But my aim now his to make him hurt. And when I mean him, I mean Wilson. I was going to make him pay. If it means bowing to Daniel and kissing his feet everyday, I was ready. A word of advice to any young men reading this. Never hurt a woman who gave you her pride. And if you must hurt her, don’t mock her vulnerability. Never mock the gift of her virginity she gave to you. She’ll hunt you bro. And even if she doesn’t have the resources to make you suffer. She’ll either lay curses on you and your generation to come, or she’ll never forgive you. Trust me me on this one. I was tailing Daniel from behind. Till he got to an office. Ten times bigger and spacious than that of Wilson’s.

“Get me the cup”

Daniel ordered. I was still trying to understand what was going on. I had never seen him in such rage before.

He was actually pensive and way matured now.

“They’ve been poisoning my mum, the same way they’ve been poisoning the president”.

My eyes went wide. I took the cup for inspection.

“Ok Daniel, we can tackle this and no one knows. See, if we raise an alarm. They would surely kill her for sure. And this time faster than expected. So here is what’s gonna happen. We’ll let them believe their plans still works. You would have to tell mummy about this. So she can feign the attitude of being fully blind and medically affected. Her medication to cure her would be exchanged for the supposed poison that is served her every morning. Eventually, when the time is right. We would have enough evidence to knock them down”.

They were both quiet when I was done. Both Daniel and the middle aged man Daniel had introduced as his mother’s personal assistant.

” This is brilliant “

The man was first to comment. I didn’t catch his name though. It was rather too complex.

Daniel only smiled, but I knew he was proud of me.

And so, we got that part temporary under control. Mrs olutayo, after much persuasion, and equally the consultant of the family doctor to actually diversify the extent of the damage. She agreed to follow up with the plan.

“We should have a plan of our own. Both of us”.

Daniel said on our way back to the Academy.

” what’s that?”

I questioned. He had snapped me out of my reverie.

Wilson’s words were replaying in my mind. It was like it was stuck there.

“Wilson still has a soft spot for you. Else he won’t be so keen on sending you back home. Think about it. He had to come pick you himself, since his last attempt was unsuccessful”

I was getting is point, and also what he had in mind. But I wanted him to spit it out first.

“So?”

He didn’t look at me when he replied.

“So we pretend we are dating. And actually planning to get married”

Although, it was what I expected. My heart still let out a beat.

“What do we plan to achieve Daniel?”

“A jealous man can become unreasonable to reveal his intended plans. Or quicken it ahead of time”

I didn’t mean to spite his idea, but i wasn’t ready for any commitment. Whether fake or real. I have had it with men.

“It’s cool but I can’t Daniel, I’m sorry”

I didn’t look at his direction to know how he took my reply. The rest of the journey was all in an awkward silence.

DANIEL: My idea was brilliant. I had wanted to kill two birds with a stone. First, get Nadia to fall for me. And get my uncle jealous.

I wasn’t expecting her to agree to it right away. But I knew she would.

We arrived just in time. Joyce was awake. She sat on her bed with her head bowed.

“Joyce, how are you feeling?”

Nadia said as soon as she entered. Joyce was still pale and weak.

“Nadia, I know who the traitor is now. But first, what happened while I was unconscious”

Without hesitation, Nadia spilled all that happened, including our intended plans. She had wanted to leave out my own suggestion. But I chipped it in.

“Actually it’s a good idea it’ll cause issues between husband and wife, which would be a bonus to us”

I smiled in satisfaction within me.

“First, the whole school needs to know you are both dating. Daniel you’ve got your uncle on Facebook? Whatapp?”

I nodded, whatever she was saying now was just like sugar to my tea.

“Good, you both take pictures, good romantic ones. Tag your uncle on Facebook if you must, if you’ve got Brenda’s. Tag her too”

I could see Nadia was uncomfortable with the conversation so she butt in with another topic.

“Joyce, who is the traitor?”

Joyce didn’t hesitate before she gave a reply. Like she went on a spiritual trip to commune with spirits for answers.

“Sharon. She inserted a cherry in my pizza”

Nadia frowned.

“But I gave you the pizza.”

Nadia corrected.

Joyce was about to explain further when Brenda barged in. The door wasn’t locked she had free access.

And the first world that graced her lips was questionable. I could tell she wasn’t expecting myself and Daniel around. We just ruined her intended plan. Her intentions were greater than her thoughts, so we weren’t surprised when she asked the question.

“Oh, so Joyce still lives.? For now though”

She turned to me.

“And as for you, don’t you ever challenge Wilson’s authority, else you today would be the last day you set your eyes on your mother”

Episode 28

NADIA:

It was like we planned the drama. We all watched her with our mouth shut. She crossed her hands and made a gesture.

“You can all keep your mouth shut, but I’ve made my point clear. And don’t worry now, in a few months, you would all…”

Should I say Daniel was on point. He knew exactly what to say at that minute. He knew exactly what to ask rather.

“Brenda why is your husband running after Nadia. He is not satisfied with you? Or you can’t satisfy him? Tell him to back of. Nadia is mine.”

I could feel the shiver that went down her spine. And I knew she wished she had teleportation powers. So she could just teleport. Yeah, I understood. I have been there.

“Brenda, just go OK? It’s clear you have nothing to say”

She gritted her teeth in anger. But there was clearly nothing she could do about it. She whisked off and for a minute there, we burst out laughing, until we remembered we had a problem at hand. Joyce remembered first.

“Ok, we need find a way to get my father off their hands”.

Our laughter seized and we returned back to business.

” Joyce, I think we would need mummy’s help in this one. And what about Sharon?”

She was pensive for a while before she suggested.

“Let her be. We would use her to our advantage. I saw her spike the pizza just before you picked it. I didn’t take it serious until now”

DANIEL: Slowly I was getting Nadia. Right now I couldn’t tell if I actually loved her, or if I was just after her body. But one thing I do know was, I treasured every minute we spent together. I found comfort in her presence. Not that I’ve ever had a serious relationship in my life before. There is a start for everything right? We took pictures. Romantic ones that I had to steal some pecks, it made her frown and laugh at times.

“On a date? Where? You can’t be serious. We can’t leave the Academy remember?”

She had replied when I suggested it.

“Oh come on. I can get the security to cooperate”

After continuous persuasion, she gave in. I was the happiest guy on earth. I had wanted to take her to Kayode’s kitchen where the meal and services where satisfactory. But I figured it wouldn’t be comfortable. Words would travel immediately and my mother’s eagle eyes would spot us. That means trouble.

I took her to a spot by the Beach.

“Loosen up Nadia. So when we take pictures, it’ll look real”

It was like she had been waiting to burst out.

“Daniel, I don’t see how this is working. All you’ve been doing is hold my waist, hug me, peck me. All you’ve been doing is tap my precious current you did not pay for. Wilson doesn’t seem affected at all.. I don’t see..”

God bless Wilson, he called when he had too.

She gasped when she noticed the call.

“It’s Wilson”

She whispered, picked and placed it on loudspeaker.

“So Nadia, it’s that small rat. That good for nothing, that you chose over me? Do you think he can treat you like I can? Do you think he is man enough? Or he his capable? You are so dumb!”

I snatched the phone from her hands. He was getting to her. She couldn’t say a word. And the insults he blew at me was alarming. I had to correct him.

“Listen to me young man, I can tolerate your nonsense, but not when it comes to my woman. Don’t ever, in your entire sorry life, talk to Nadia like that. She is not your property!. So much for the man who claims to be capable. Tailing a another man’s woman. How cheap bro. How cheap”

He didn’t reply, he ended the call.

NADIA: God, it happened again. All my defenses were broken. How can one man have the ability to still crush me. Despite all my proposed anger. With just a word from him, my mouth disobeyed my wishes.

“Nadia are you scared of him?”

I was quiet.

“I’m not Wilson”

His question was becoming a pain in the ass.

“I can’t explain what I feel ok. Whenever he is around I can’t fight back. He always has the last word. I feel so ashamed Daniel. So ashamed that when I face him, all my pride Fades away. I can’t challenge him. He is a constant reminder of how I gave my pride away, I feel so cheap. I feel…”

He hushed me and made me stand up.

“The music is slow. And good. Let’s dance”

I tried to protest at least.

“Daniel I can’t…”

He hushed me again and took my hand.

My mind was warning me now. But I couldn’t stop him from helping me move with the rhythm. He placed both my hands on his shoulder and held my waist. A minute later he brought me close to his chest, brought his hands slowly down my spine and held my waist closely. I could feel his heartbeat. And I was sure he could feel mine. He was a breathe away from my ears when he muttered.

“You are the strongest woman I’ve ever met. You are beautiful, smart and proud. You didn’t give your pride because you are cheap. It’s a gift you gave to the wrong person. He has touched the wrong woman. And you’ll get back at him”.

When you spill fuel on a tamed fire? What happens? The fire in my system sprang up. I felt my pride well up. I felt my spirit burn. I felt his cheek caress mine.

“Do you feel it? That anger?”

“Yes…I can”

His breathe was in between my eyes, down to my nose.

“Good. Are you ready now? You can face him?”.

I nodded. Something else was taking my attention. His breathe was on my lips. Was he going to kiss me? No, he better not.

My hormones were responding already. Oh God, Nadia keep still.

“when a man loves woman!!”

The song played, so caressing. I guess you know that song.

“Nadia, I want to kiss you.”

My heart missed. I stammered with a little push.

“But I won’t. Cos you’ve not given me the permission too”

I sighed in great relief. Only the ladies would understand the meaning of my sigh. He let me go and handed me his jacket. A part of me questioned why he didn’t go ahead and kiss me. You see women. We can be very complicated. I didn’t want him to kiss me, yet i wondered why he didn’t. He should have just done the deed and apologize later on…He made me wear his Jacket. It was getting cold outside.

We were few metres from the Academy when Joyce called. I knew something must have happened again. And I was right.

“Nadia, my mum has the same sickness my Dad has. She has been hiding it Nadia. I don’t know if she can survive this Nadia. I don’t know.”

Her voice was tearful. Daniel increased his speed. I understood what the plan is now. It was like a wise saying my dad had always said.

“To bring down a mighty iroko tree, dig out its root.”


Episode 29

NADIA: We got to the Academy to see an ambulance in charge already. Joyce insisted on going with her. And so, we followed in Daniel’s car.

We were both silent, alot of thoughts ran thru my mind, and I was sure he was pensive as well.

“They are winning this Nadia. What is the purpose of the competition, if the person to claim the honour isn’t alive?”

Joyce made sense. But it looked like she was giving up already.

“Joyce, she is not dead. Don’t kill her with your words.”

Joyce shook her head in disbelief

“You didn’t see her Nadia, there was no sign of life in her”

“Get yourself together Joyce, now is not the time. We can still win this”

She was calm now. Although I knew she wasn’t convinced.

“Daniel, what do we do? I’m pretty sure the president would soon be hospitalized as well”

I drew Daniel aside to ask.

He was quiet for a while before he answered.

“Joyce or Serena are the only ones who can get close enough to treat the president. And Nadia we’ve missed two lessons. If we miss the third. It’s suspension. And you know Brenda is eagerly waiting for that”

He made a point. I sat down with Joyce and explained Daniel’s suggestions.

We just needed her to be strong now. And thank God she was quick to see reasons with us.

“I can get our family doctor to help with the medications, but we have to be smart while treating him.”

Daniel called him up. He wasn’t picking so he promised to go bring the drugs himself.

An hour later, the Doctor had blest us with goodnews. She was stable. But then he slashed our Joy when he revealed the bad news underneath.

“But, the poison has eaten up her liver. I’m sorry but she has just 6months to live at most, am sorry”

My heart missed. And I was pretty sure I could hear Joyce’s heartbeat. She was looking for where to sit and allow the words sink deep into her brain.

30minutes later, I was getting worried. She didn’t make a sound. She didn’t say a word. She kept staring at the unforseen.

I was about to at least say something, but my worst nightmare showed up. It was Wilson, Brenda by his side.

Immediately my heart began to throb fast. I was loosing control of my defenses again.

“We are here to offer our condolences.”

You can imagine. Brenda was actually smiling. And Wilson, well, he was on his dark shades as usual.

“Honey, don’t laugh, this is a serious issue. The woman is dead.”

I scoffed in disgust.

“She is not dead Wilson, infact, she has many more years ahead”

The shock on their faces prompted me to even tell more lies.

“And you need to see the sight of the president, when he came to visit her”

Wilson scoffed at that one.

“Shut up Nadia”.

For a moment there I actually obeyed. But then, Daniel’s words broke thru his hold on me. And whispered to my spirit.

” you are strong Nadia”

I smiled and opened my mouth.

“No Wilson, you shut up”

They had walked past me, but my words made him turn back in shock.

“You said what?”

I chuckled.

“Oh so you are deaf now? Easy, I’ll repeat. I said. Shut up”

Brenda made an attempt to take the war front but Wilson made her step back. He wanted to fight his own battle.

“You’ve grown wings right?. You cheap slut”.

He was expecting it to get to me. And seriously, my dear readers, it did get to me. But then, I broadened with smiles.

” it’s funny how you keep running after this cheap slut, Your wife can’t satisfy you? Huh Wilson?”

It shook him to his bone marrow. I could see it. Brenda changed her standing position. She appeared more attentive. And from a distance I could instantly pick that she wasn’t aware.

“Oh Brenda. Poor Brenda. You don’t know. He calls, although I don’t pick, he is a used product. It wasn’t enough. He showed up to my room. And kidnapped me even when I refused his advances.”

“Shut up Nadia, stop talking nonsense”

He was trying to shut me up now. I was getting to Brenda.

Oh my God! an idea popped up. I immediately understood that I could use my painful past to my advantage.

“Oh dearest wifey, your husband didn’t tell you he dated me for 4years and we even got married? I can show you our marriage certificate as evidence”

Her hand bag fell from her hands.

“No, baby don’t listen to this bitch! She is trying to tear us apart. Don’t you get it?!”

I wasn’t done yet.

“Come on Brenda, you are a woman. And we both know I am saying the truth”

Brenda started out immediately. She didn’t respond when he called.

Hahahahahaha, she even left her bag.

He picked it and threatened thru his clenched teeth.

“I’ll crush you. You bastard!”

I got serious now.

“No Wilson. I’ll crush you. Mark my words. You will get nothing out of Kayode’s kitchen. I will make sure you are thrown out to the streets. I will make sure your marriage crumbles. You will peel your kneels and beg to the ends of the earth. Mark these words. Idiot”

I knew he was trying to diversify If this was the Nadia he knew. There was no time for him. He quickly ran after Brenda.

DANIEL: I came back with the drugs, only hear that my baby had fought a battle on her own.

“Are you serious? I’m so proud of you!”.

I pecked and hugged her tight.

” Daniel, I can’t breathe”

“Oh sorry sorry”.

I was probably going to say something else.

But someone else called me from behind. My eyes went wide. It was my mother.

What is she doing here?.

” mum what are you? “

She didn’t let me land. Her voice was slow and shaky with anger.

“Daniel, there are secrets you should know today. Serena is my blood sister. And woe betide anyone who has hurt her. Cos they just signed up. For war”


Episode 30

DANIEL: Hey there, Yeah you reading this. I am guessing you want to know what happens next. You are not in for my chit chats. Yes, I myself, I am burning with curiosity.

You know that awkward moment when you don’t know if anger or Joy is the right feeling.

Should I foam in anger that my mother kept this important detail from me? That Joyce is even my cousin? Or should I be happy that I have got a giant in our Army.

“She is your what?”

I questioned in a whisper. She didn’t say another word. Instead she asked to see the Doctor.

“Joyce, I’m so sorry for asking you this question right now”.

” what is it?”

Nadia interjected. I wasn’t ready for the distraction.

I tapped Joyce and asked.

“What is your mother’s name?”

She wasn’t even looking at my direction. Nadia was signaling me to let her be. I was just about to stand up and probably ask God for an inspirational answer when she answered.

“Serena”

That’s progress! But that’s not the name I needed.

“No Joyce her full name”

“Serena Olutayo”

My heart missed.

“What’s wrong?”

Nadia asked but answering her now, wasn’t ideal. I paused and swallowed my inner burning fire. Without saying a word I went in search of my mother. She was gone.

NADIA: Serena was still in comma. And there was nothing I could say to get Joyce to attend lessons. She was in the hospital through out. Just as I had presume. The president came to see her. He was on a wheel chair now. I could tell that it’s just a matter of time before he joins his wife.

I greeted him. But he didn’t answer. Not because he didn’t want too. But because he couldn’t see who greeted him. Daniel had disappeared. He just left me here. I missed his presence. How could he just leave me like that?

Finally, Joyce shed tears. Hallelujah! I never knew painful tears could mean a thing of Joy until now. I was actually scared she was going to go insane.

When she was true. She turned to me.

“Nadia, my mother’s plight can’t go down the drain just like that. All I have done is prevent the attacks of my enemies. All I have done is find a way to repair the damage they cause. But Nadia, this time they went too far. And I am taking the fight to them”.

Oh her words sprang up fire, in my system.

“Are you with me?”

Is that even a question? Does she even need to ask?

“But you know say I no get level oh?”

I teased.

I was expecting her to at least smile, but the girl eyes were red.

“You’ve got Daniel. And his influence. Make him fall for you. But don’t fall for him and lose focus”.

“Me fall for Daniel. That can never happen. You remember our number one rule?”

I interjected with that frown. You know that awkward moment when you say something firmly and your mind just pinch you with this one word.

“Liar”

I just lied. I was finding Daniel interesting already. Although I knew he was a flirt.

On our way back to the academy. I received a text from Wilson.

“Baby am sorry for all the pain I caused. I was forced. You won’t understand. I still love you. Even my marriage to Brenda was not because I loved her. It’s you I love. Am so sorry baby. In time you would understand that whatever I did or I’ll do. It wasn’t my fault”

I hibernated the phone for a minute or two. Before I rebooted to see if the text was meant for me.

Ok what is all these?. Is he trying to get me confused or there is another person underneath this twisted story. A story that started with the love for food.

I read it again and again. Till I could recite every last word.

No, he is trying to deceive me. Which love?

I scoffed at it. Although one part of my mind wished it had Wilson back. But it was impossible now. So impossible.

We got back to the Academy to meet Brenda in her 5th lesson. We had been absent for almost a week now.

“What are you doing here?”

She questioned both of us. She was now bold to question Joyce now that Serena had been hospitalized.

I could see the hatred she had for me had grown to another level. Wilson must have fed her with bags of lies.

“Get your bags both of you and leave this Academy. You’ve been expelled!”

Do you know some situations can do the impossible. I watch the authority with which Brenda commanded faded to apologies when a woman corrected her from a distance.

Daniel following from behind. It became clear when she was close.

“Who are you to expel these two? Who gave you the authority?”

It was Mrs olutayo. The whole Hall were in shock, murmurs and whispers arose from different corners. Many had to kneel to greet.

My dear readers, you need to see Brenda on her knees stammering like there was hot yam burning up her tongue.

“Am..am..am soo soorry ma”

I got to know now that this war and taken a different shape.

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