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AUNTY VERO

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CHAPTER 1

NOVEMBER, 2010

“Well, you already knew it wouldn’t fit, why did you buy it?”

“Casmir please, stop sounding cheap,” she’d replied condescendingly.

“It’s a whooping eight hundred dollar dress.”

“It’s a Vera Wang.”

“You aren’t even going to give it out,” he’d accused.

“Which is why I bought it, so that snotty nosed daughter of Minister Ojo wouldn’t have it.”

“That’s down right petty, Evy.”

“Evelyn. And you are getting on my nerves,” she’d said mildly, her anger controlled, as though raising her voice in her huge, empty, except for them, bedroom, would somehow reduce her status in high class society.

Impatiently, he’d said, “God damn it, Evelyn, sometimes, I don’t get you.”

“That’s because you think small.”

“I’m a business man, I detest waste,” he’d snapped

“I often forget that you’re the son of a poor man who struck luck with an heiress, indeed, his blood flows through you. I often wonder how your mother coped; she’s such an adorable woman.”

“I made my money by working hard and making smart investments, it has nothing to do with blood.”

“Exactly. It’s so low class to work like a mule and then not enjoy it.”

“Jesus, Evy…”

“I see you’re in one of your foul moods, please sleep in your room tonight, or wherever else, I don’t much care. I don’t want you spoiling my positive chi, this baby doesn’t need it either.”

“Of course, majesty,” he’d said sarcastically and stormed out of the room.

It was the last time he’d been in her bedroom, two months ago.

Evy had made the maids move his scanty casual clothing to his room so that he wouldn’t have any excuse to knock on her door. Her reason had been that she didn’t want Casmir being tempted to have sex as she was close to giving birth. This had been said on the dinning table, during dinner the next day. It hadn’t been so far fetched, after all, he could practically count how many scheduled sex they’d had before she got pregnant.

She’d called him a rutting bull who slammed into her as though she were a prostitute. Afterwards, she would retire to the bathroom to wash and pamper her vagina, all the while grumbling about how big his child would be if his penis alone was doing this much damage. Then she’d speak of all the cosmetic procedures she’s have to endure to get her thin body and delicate vagina back after her complimentary one child birth.

Casmir sighed heavily, his head hanging down while his shoe tapped the tiled hospital floor. He knew first knowledge that his wife was vain, and a spoilt brat for good measure, but she was his wife. He would never wish her bad; he just wanted her to safely go through this delivery. He mentally promised to give her all her demands, ignore all her hurtful words and love his daughter as though his life depended on it. He also wanted to be free of the guilt.

Evy had complained about how tired she got because she woke up feeling like a cow. She hated herself most times, refused to leave her room sometimes for a whole week and constantly berated him for impregnating her with a beast. After being in labour for ten hours straight and the doctor had whispered his apprehension for the severity of complications the medical team were dealing with, his guilt had escalated.

He deeply regretted the many quarrels they’d had, especially the few that he’d refused to compromise, as was usual of him, for peace to reign. Like the one that’d finally barred him from entering her room. Even though they’d kept separate rooms, her idea, and even though Evy hated cuddling, Casmir had been grateful to share her bed, breathe in her insanely costly scent and sigh in the aura of companionship. He’d been grateful for the scantily scheduled sex and always looked forward to it.

Nobody knew what he faced in his marriage.Though, once, a visiting cousin, from the royal side of his family, had suggested he take a mistress. After staying a few days and noticing how cold Evy was towards him, even complaining about a common kiss on the cheek, he had deduced the state of his marriage and had emphasized the mistress idea, helpfully offering to make the arrangements, all discreet of course.

If he’d had his father’s morals, he probably would have agreed to the plan. But he’d never been a betrayer and didn’t much have the time to manage two women when he owned and ran one of the largest hotel brands in the country. He could barely cope with hisalready high maintenance wife.

Casmir shook his head to disperse the negative thought; he should have tried harder to please her. Why had he berated her about that eight hundred dollar dress? It wasn’t as though he couldn’t afford it; he could comfortably afford a truck load of dresses for her. He should have endured more and become her lap dog for peace to reign; he should have forced the issue of reconciliation and returned to spend nights in her room instead of deciding to focus solely on work. He should’ve been home more and should have forced the issue of finding out how her health was instead of simply nodding at her sarcastic replieswhenever he asked and walking away to avoid quarrels.

Please, God, let her make it. He didn’t want this guilt on his conscience.Please forgive all her insensitive words and attitudes and meanness. The doctor was probably wrong, she would be fine. For the sake of the innocent child, spare her…

“Mr.Otong…”

Casmir shoved to his feet, “Is Evy alright?” he asked breathlessly, his eyes scanning the demeanour of the doctor and immediately regretting doing that; though it would’ve make no difference if he hadn’t.

The doctor sighed heavily and began speaking in sober tones. Casmir knew then his prayers hadn’t been answered and that knowledge was emphasized by the guilt that slowly but surely circled, squeezing the part of his chest where his heart was located.

***

“Louisa Louise Ndon, stop this nonsense instantly!”

Louisa still forcefully let the wine glass in her hand go despite Uncle Uto’s stern tone and growled in dissatisfaction even though the glass splintered to smithereens, joining its other broken counterparts on the floor.

“Jesus Christ, child! Do you ever listen?”

“I am no child, I am 25 years old and very aware of what I want in life,” she shouted.

Uto sighed heavily, trying desperately to calm his fury, “Lee, sweetheart, I’m your father’s partner, best friend, in fact, brother, I should be furious for what Kenny…supposedly, did to your father.”

Her eyes snapped at his use of words, but he hurried on.

“You just buried your daddy today,” he tried to be reasonable, “He deserves to rest in peace…”

“Supposedly? Like you don’t believe the intel?” she looked incredulous.

“It’s the world of con, Louisa, you shouldn’t believe everything you’re told. Besides, your father and I were con men, not civil servants, how do you think the police will react if we report this purported murder?”

“But Uncle…”

“Hear me out,” he interrupted, “I was never in support of your father teaching you his trade, this isn’t a line of work a smart, beautiful girl like you should be apprised of; he should never have introduce you to this world. Secondly, I was also not in support of your father doing business with Kenny, the guy is dangerous and to top it off, he isn’t reliable due to his drug use. I would advise, like I advised your father, walk away from this. Complete your youth service, find a good, legal job and be free from this world. All you have to do is walk away.”

Louisa shook her head while tears dripped down her chubby cheeks, her eyes held deep disappointment for her father’s partner and friend turned brother. She was speechless for a few minutes not because she had nothing to say but because she was choked up by a mixture of grief, anger, disappointment and the force of her urge to revenge her father’s death.

She folded her arms over her considerable bosom to hold her splintered soul intact. Her father had been her everything. With a mother who had died at childbirth, he had raised her as best he could and she’d loved every moment of it. Learning her father’s, albeit not legal, trade had been the high light of her teen years and his death left her listless, empty and entirely lost.

Uncle Uto had done so much in organising and part funding the burial; even helping her sell off her father’s only property to pay off a man that Kenny had failed to mention was as dangerous as the devil. She appreciated Uncle Uto for all he had done but her life would be useless if she did not, at least, try to avenge her father. Uncle Uto had always been the careful one but she presently did not appreciate that particular trait of his.

“Father and sometimes, you, spoke of how betrayals were handled in your young years…”

Uto sighed, “My point exactly, you should never have known such things.”

Louisa watched him wearily settle his diminutive form on his settee. “I’m not asking you to join me, Uncle, but my father deserves better than Kenny’s betrayal. He deserves to be avenged. He already died like…like a loser, like someone that had no loved ones to defend him, but I won’t let his spirit be bereft…”

“He is dead, Louisa, he can’t feel or know anything!”

“But I will know! I will live with it!”

“You might not live if you follow this destructive path.”

“I cannot live a fulfilled, happy life if Kenny goes about unpunished. I’d always, always told daddy that I’d pay back anybody who wronged him and he’d said he believed in me.”

“You were a child. He indulged you,” he snapped, he was fed up of this conversation. He seriously hated the guy who had brought intel of the betrayal that had killed his friend. He too was sad and would want to mourn a brother in his own way. But he also had a responsibility to keep his friend’s daughter alive, even though she was being hard headed just like her father.

“I do not care, Uncle Uto, I will do what I have to do,” her tone was determined as she grabbed her knapsack; her bosom heaved as she breathed heavily.

Uto knew the decision he had to make in that moment and the knowledge of it did nothing to curb the pain of the decision or make it any easier. Even though keeping Louisa alive was his responsibility as her father’s partner, he also had a responsibility to himself and his bastard children scattered in different homes of his mistresses. At his friend’s death, he’d began contemplating really getting to know his three kids, just like his friend had always advised.

He sighed sadly and looked up at her, “In that case, Louisa, consider our ties cut, unless…unless you desist from this path,” he added hopefully.

She choked on a fresh bout of tears at his words and turned away. She had hoped he would relent and help her despite being right about how dangerous Kenny was. Her heart was breaking all over again, she was about to lose the only family she had left.

Uto knew she’d made her decision when she faced him again, determination glinting from her eyes and his heart fell. “The ties are cut then, Uncle,” she said, not bothering to clean the tears as she retreated to the door, then she stopped, giving him hope that she would reconsider.

Louisa turned with her hand on the opened door, she smiled, “It was nice doing business with you, Uncle.”

His heart shattered at those words. Tears rolled down his weathered cheeks as he watched her walk out and close his door leaving him with words that he’d shared with his dead friend whenever they’d concluded a successful con job.

It was nice doing business with you.

Those words represented the end of everything he’d known.

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