A/N: Sorry for the late update and brief chapter. I'm working on making my updates more frequent so please bear with me.
"Hi sweetie," I said into the phone
"Hello, mummy" Zozo responded
"How are you, my love? And how was school?"
"Fine," she said sharply
"Good. Are you enjoying grandma?"
"Have you had lunch?"
"What did grandma make for you?"
"Spangeti and stew and fish" she said excitedly
"Ohhh. You're enjoying oo" I teased
She giggled loudly.
"Daddy and I will be back soon, okay?"
"Okay," she said softly
"Can you give the phone to grandma, please?" I said
"Kay" she replied before yelling. "Grandma!!"
I heard some feet stomping and shuffling in the background before my mother's voice came through.
"Ijeoma, kedu?" she said in her usual soft tone. (How are you?)
"A di mma" I replied (I'm fine)
"What's happening? His aunty, o biago?" she asked. (Has she arrived?)
I heavily exhaled. "Not yet"
"Don't worry. O ga di mma, n'aha Jisos" she said. (It will be fine, in Jesus name)
"Amen oo" I replied
"Make sure to keep me posted on everything that's happening," she said
"Of course. I'll talk to you later this evening" I replied
"Bye," I said before hanging up the phone
I released a heavy sigh before placing the phone beside me on the bed.
Noah and I were currently at my parent's house in Lagos. The custody battle was going to be taking place in one of the courthouses in Lagos, seeing as that was where Kunle filed for the custody. Before we left, my mother had to come over to look after Zozo. She would be there to stay with Zozo for as long as we would be away.
Noah took a short leave from work based on a family emergency. He said in his own words 'there's no way in hell, I'm letting you do this on your own' and I didn't bother to oppose. I really needed him to be by my side because I truly wasn't strong enough both mentally and physically to fight all by myself.
He also talked to his mother who talked to her sister, a known reputable lawyer about the whole custody thing and she agreed to fly in from Philadelphia to represent me. Noah had told me that his mom helped her sister move to New York to study law before she got married and moved to Philly with her husband. She was his mother's youngest sister.
I did a little research on her and I found that she was one of the top lawyers in Philadelphia. She was described to be fearless and fervent in the courtroom with a stack of wins trailing behind her. I was put at ease a little bit, knowing that she would be representing me.
She was coming over to the house to get my statement to prepare for the coming court sessions. She also wanted to give me a breakdown of what's to come in the next following days.
The house bell resounded throughout the house and I quickly got up from my bed and headed out of my old bedroom that Noah and I now shared. I was a little surprised that my father didn't have anything to say about us sharing the room.
"-- Aunty Chisom. Welcome." I heard Noah say as I approached the door.
She pulled him into a hug. "Kosi. It's been long since I saw you"
"It has" he replied with a smile
Her eyes moved to me as they pulled apart and she walked over to me in quick yet poised steps and enveloped me in a hug. I didn't except such warmness from her especially after doing my research.
"You must be Ijeoma," she said
"Yes, I am," I said, a little bit nervous. "Welcome, ma"
"Thank you" she replied with a smile
She looked like a replica of Noah's grandmother, basically her mother. I saw the pictures of his grandmother in his baby album. His aunt looked so elegant with her long side bob, sophisticated ocean blue gown, clear skin and an alluring smile. Her voice had a certain suave to it, not manly but polished, soothing as well oozing confidence.
"Thank you so much for agreeing to represent me. It means a lot—" I started to say
She waved her hand in the air. "It's nothing. You're family"
Noah came to stand by my side and put a hand around my waist. His aunt didn't miss the gesture because the side of her lips twitched up in a smile. We walked into the living room together and I politely offered her a seat.
"What can I get for you, ma? There are drinks, snacks, and food, anything you want" I said
"Thank you but I'll like us to get down to business, after which you can serve me whatever you want" she replied.
I took a seat on the couch adjacent to hers and Noah sat beside me. She reached into her handbag and pulled out a black binder and a pen.
"Custody battles are very emotionally draining and mentally tasking because a child is involved and the court would want to give custody to the parent they deem fit and capable. In your case, it was based on abduction and that's not a good look on you" she stated. "If you want to win this fight, you need to tell me everything I need to know and leave no stone unturned. I want to know how you met, how it ended, everything"
Her countenance had immediately shifted, her warm and friendly tone was replaced with one void of emotions. She was in business mode.
"Okay" I nodded in understanding
"Kunle and I met at a University concert, even though he had already graduated. He was at the concert to see a friend of his perform and also because he was a party person. He loved going to parties and clubs." I started
I narrated how Kunle started pursuing me, how sweet he was to me in the very beginning and how we began dating. Noah held my hand in his when I got to the horrible parts of my past, he kept drawing circular patterns in the palm of my hand and that little action gave me a sense of comfort.
His aunt kept scribbling down things on a paper in her binder and then looking back up at me and listening carefully. She would make a few inputs just to clarify certain parts of the story.
"Do you have any evidence about the abuse? Any pictures, medical reports?" She asked once I was done.
"No. He didn't use me as a punching bag so there were no bruises on my body and I never thought to take pictures of the finger marks on my face" I replied
"Don't worry, It's fine" she assured. "From what you've told me, I see no reason why the court shouldn't leave you with custody. You'll need to repeat this on the stand in court"
My heart quickened at the thought of talking about my dark past in front of a room filled with strangers. Noah sensed it and gave my hand a quick squeeze as if saying 'I'm here'.
"The fact that Kunle knows you have this information to use against him at your disposal means a ton of fabricated lies would be told against you to turn the story around," she said. "In other words, you have to be mentally prepared for anything"
I released a shaky breath before nodding. I had a terrible feeling at the pit of my stomach that this whole thing was going to end badly but I chastised myself to remain positive.
We were about rounding up on the conversation when my father walked into the house. He had his work briefcase in one hand and his black golf cap in the other. We all stood to greet him which he returned before walking up to Noah's aunt in particular.
"You must be his aunt, the lawyer," my father said extending a hand to her.
"Yes, sir. Mrs Chisom Smith" she replied, taking his hand in a firm shake.
"Thank you so much for helping us represent my daughter. My wife and I are extremely grateful" he said
"It's no problem, sir. She's basically family" she replied with a smile.
I collected my father's briefcase and hat from him as he sat down to converse with aunt Chisom and took them to his room. I headed to the kitchen afterwards to prepare some refreshments for both my dad and aunt Chisom, Noah joined me after a couple of minutes to assist.
Aunt Chisom spent a couple more hours with us before taking a leave. She said she was still feeling jet-lagged and needed to rest before delving into preparations for the impending case.
Who remembers aunt Chisom from BOBW?
Your thoughts, please.
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