If you were not able to read the first part of this story, here’s a link to it – Temptation: the Story → .
The second part begins now . . .
Before I got to Nneka’s house, it was almost 8:30pm. Nneka’s house would normally be a fifteen-minute trek and about 3 minutes of a traffic-less drive from where I was. However, some truck had spoilt a few hours back and the general impatience of workers returning home meant crossing the spoilt truck was a herculean task. Nneka had already called twice asking about my whereabouts. She was getting impatient but I assured her that I would make the wait worth it. I honked the car horn two times before an exasperated Nneka opened the gate to let me in.
‘What took you so long?’ Nneka said with both a hint of worry and suspicion.
‘Nothing, dear . . . just some crazy traffic jam down the road’ I replied.
‘Are you ready for me?’ I asked.
‘Of course, I’ve been ready since I called you, come inside’ She said as a smile began to form on her pretty face.
Nneka was one of the nicest people I had met in my life. We met on a trip to a picnic that I was dragged to by Jeff, a friend who at the time, desperately wanted me to ‘get out of the house some more’. I wasn’t keen but there was nothing worth watching on TV that day and I was bored to death with the ‘Weeds’ series I was following at the time. I was still in the University back then and the picnic was an interdepartmental trip to a very popular mountain. The view was breathtaking, the air – serene and the intense smell of nature – simply exquisite. However, the passengers in the bus taking me there were the exact opposite. All the passengers except one. From the little interaction I had with a few of them before we took off, I could tell they were not people I really wanted to have discussions with. My phone battery had been dead for almost an hour, yet my ear piece was firmly stuck in my ear as a strategy to discourage potential ‘chat-ups’. The jokes they enjoyed were needlessly vulgar, in poor taste and mostly just ‘dry’. They spoke in unnecessarily loud tones and laughed odiously. I didn’t notice the dark, beautiful girl of average height who had blended in but who, as I later discovered, was similarly put off by the crowd’s weird sense of humour.
Four people had to seat in each row, meaning we were going to be very tight at the back row which seemed significantly smaller than the other rows. I got in first, stuck my earpiece in, pressed play and turned the volume to the highest. In about twenty minutes, the battery was dead and I was then subjected to the bus’s ‘banter’ that I so despised.
‘You don’t want to be here, do you?’ The dark girl sitting beside me asked, a tad rhetorically.
I pretended not to hear her since supposedly, an ear piece was stuck in my ear playing music. She tapped my shoulder lightly and I turned to her and removed an ear piece while making a show of being impatient and ready to stick my ear piece back if what she said wasn’t worth my time.
With a charming smile and a lovable air of naiveté, she said;
‘I know your battery died a while back but you’ve been pretending to still enjoy your music and I know why’
I was impressed with both her confidence and the way she spoke, clearly enunciating every syllable of each word. I smiled and asked sarcastically;
‘So tell me, O dear psychic, tell me why . . .’
‘You’re an introvert’ she said, still smiling. ‘You’re too shy, you think I’m very beautiful, but you’re too shy to tell me so’ she added.
She was actually very beautiful but it was the way she said it that had me instantly charmed.
‘How could such a witty person be right beside me all through while I subjected myself to the inane ramblings of these ‘dullards’, I thought to myself.
‘So what’s your name?’ She asked, interrupting my thoughts
‘Bruce Wayne, but you can call me Batman’ I replied. She burst into laughter. After she had collected herself, she said;
‘You’re funny, I think this picnic will be more fun than I expected’. ‘I’m Nneka’ she added. I smiled, removed the ear piece that was still stuck in my other ear and turned back to her. I told her my real name and from that day, we grew to become really good friends.
I held her hand as we walked into her self-contain apartment. A cool gust of breeze hit my face as I stepped in. It was a very neat and orderly apartment. Her bed sheet, curtains, rug and most other features of her room were the same shade of blue. The room had just one window beside the door and didn’t get enough air circulation. Nevertheless, she must have repaired her air conditioner recently as the contrast from the last time I visited was like that between day and night. The room was practically freezing.
‘Let me go change and freshen up a bit’ she said as she walked into her bathroom. ‘And don’t start without me’ she added with her trademark smile.
‘You know I won’t . . . at least, I hope I won’t’, I replied.
I looked around the room and then, out of the blue(see what I did there), she was back in my head. Jessica. The fair goddess, the beauty, perfection. Her eyes-deep enough for you to swim in-, her shape-with curves that a French curve would struggle to replicate, her complexion. Jessica was all I could think about. I brought out the sheet of paper I stuck into my pocket earlier. Those eleven digits stared back at me as I began to drift into her world.
I heard the lock of the bathroom door click and quickly stuck my phone back in my pocket and the sheet of paper into my other pocket. I wasn’t quick enough.
‘What was that?’ she asked.
‘Nothing’ I instinctively replied, ‘Just a sheet of paper, dear’. I know I didn’t sound convincing and she knew.
Her eyes pierced me for the truth for a moment more. Eventually, seemingly satisfied, she said;
‘Okay, we can start now . . . ‘
‘Where would you like me to begin?’ I inquired with a smile.
‘Anywhere, dear. I’m very tired. Let’s do this quickly, though. I have to get to work early tomorrow’ she replied.
‘Cool’ I said as I walked toward her. . ..
I walked past her, picked up the heavy Echolac box in the corner and carried it out of the room to my car.
Yes, she was moving out. Her current building, regardless of it’s nice location in the G.R.A was too far from her work place. She was spending too much money and time on transporting herself every day across the town.
No, she wasn’t moving into my house. She was moving to a new one-room apartment she had located some weeks earlier, very close to her office. I was there to help her pack and move smoothly. Our friendship was purely platonic but as much as possible, we tried to steer away from conversations about our relationships, as for whatever reason, it almost always led to awkward silences.
As I put the box in my car boot, I dug into my pocket to check the sheet of paper I had been looking at earlier. It wasn’t there. . .
‘Sh*t!!’ I exclaimed. She must have picked my pocket as I struggled to lift the box. I’m sure she wanted to see what it was that had me so uncharacteristically uncomfortable when she came out from the bathroom.
I rushed back to the room and slowed down just before getting to the door so she wouldn’t ask me why I was in a hurry. I now wish I had run all the way through.
I got into the room and nothing could have prepared me for what I saw next.
There on the floor, was the sheet of paper. Beside it, sprawled out, unmoving, was Nneka. Just lying there motionless.
‘Nneka!!!!!!!!’ I screamed
No reply . . . then blood started to flow from her mouth . . .
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
By Gareth Glover . . . A pseudonym