She was standing outside Tunji’s house and for some weird reason, she refused to press the door bell. She just stood there staring at the door. Then she heard footsteps; coming not from inside the house but from around the corner of the house. She turned to look and saw Kumbi in a black chiffon gown that stopped above her knees with a blonde weave that looked like her natural hair. She turned and started walking away but Kumbi’s wicked laughter filled with scorn turned her walk into a run. She could hear Kumbi shouting behind her,

“Bitch! you’ll be a side chick all your life!”

She didn’t stop running. She continued as fast as her trembling legs could carry, then her legs buckled. She tripped on something and fell flat on her face, then she woke up with a start, panting heavily.

……………………….

Mila was sweating profusely even in her cold room. She looked around to be sure of her environment. Once assured that she was in the safety of her room, she removed her phone from under her pillow and switched it back on. She had switched it off to avoid calls from anyone, especially Tunji. She wasn’t ready to face the world, or him just yet. She checked the date on her phone; it was still Monday but it was 9 pm already.  The beeps on her Whatsapp were deafening and when she checked, there were 50 messages. She saw chats from Simi, about twenty from Tunji and some of her colleagues. She didn’t open the others except the one from Simi. Simi’s message read;

“Sweetheart, I hope you’re okay. Everyone’s worried sick about you. You line’s off and no one can call you. Mila, you passed out cold! I still can’t understand why cos, one minute you were right there at my party and the next minute, we found you at the door way of COVA. What the hell happened?! 

I’ll be  at yours  by 9:30pm. See you later love.”

Mila shut her eyes, tightly closed. She didn’t want Simi to come, she didn’t want anyone to come around her just yet. She wanted to wallow in her misery alone and beat herself thoroughly for allowing this evil befall her a second time. She had been too carried away with Tunji’s care and attention for her that she had failed to ask the pertinent questions that would have at least helped her define her relationship with him. He hadn’t particularly lied to her but, he had omitted that simple most important information that he was married. Not just to a woman but, a goddess for a woman.

Seriously, what was wrong with his wife? She looked like the embodiment of all a man could ever ask for. Why did he cheat on his wife with her? Why did he put her in that position of the side chick? Where had the wife been all those times when he brought her over to the house to spend the weekend with him? Why didn’t he ever mention the wife? Why did he keep assuring her of his affections for her if he was still deeply in love with his wife?

Mila kept asking herself so many questions she couldn’t answer. She curled up on her bed as again, her phone started vibrating. She checked to see if it was more Whatsapp messages but this time, it was “Mine” that was calling. He called five times but she didn’t pick and the sixth time Mila lost her temper and screamed as she grabbed the phone with anger and threw it at her door. Simi ducked as it was at that time  that Mila’s Mum and her opened the door. The phone hit the side of the door and fell to the floor but it kept ringing. Mila was screaming wildly now.

“Shut up! Shut the fuck up! You truth omitting bastard! Shut the fuck up!”

Simi and Mrs. Bassey; already scared at the sight of Mila, stood still warily at the door in shock. Mila looked scary with her wig still on her head but all ruffled up like she had been engaged in a crazy fight, she had on just her black panties and a white cropped top. Her makeup was smeared all over her face making her look like one of those zombie teens in a horror movie. Their heart melted when Mila looked in their direction with realization on her face that they had witnessed her brief moment of madness. She crawled down from the bed to the floor to her pick up the phone.

Simi immediately bent to pick it while Mrs. Bassey rushed over to Mila on the floor and hugged her. The sobs that followed came out in heavy gasps as Mila’s body spasmed violently. Mila couldn’t breathe, she opened her mouth to try to but instead, hysteric wails came out. Simi couldn’t comprehend the scene before her but Mila’s disorientated state brought tears to her eyes as well and she too knelt beside her and simply put her hand on Mila’s hair, straightening the waves into place. The room was silent save for the sound of  Mila’s sobs and they stayed that way, allowing her to have her moment of purgation.

………………….

Mrs. Bassey had left the girls to go and prepare some hot pepper soup for Mila. Mila hadn’t eaten all day and her mum was bent on shoving some food down her throat rather than allow her starve to death. They stayed in silence for a while, each lost in their own thought. Then Simi broke the silence,

“Mila, what did Tunji do to you?” she asked softly

Mila sighed then shook her head in self pity before answering “Tunji is married and he never mentioned it.”

Simi was shocked “No way! Leo would have said something. How did you know?”

Mila shrugged and answered “He was at COVA yesterday with his wife. He probably didn’t know that your party will be held there”

“Oh shit! No wonder you had passed out. Thanks to Chucks and David from the Production department, they were the ones that had carried you to my car when we found you. We didn’t even know when you left. I had to call your mum to get your home address” Simi said with a faraway look.

Mila was touched “Thanks Simi. I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t there”

“Oh Mila, I’m so sorry this happened. It’s all my fault.” Simi said looking guilty

“Don’t do that dear. Don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault at all. It’s my fault. I should have known that a successful, handsome, young man from a Royal home like Tunji couldn’t be completely single. I was just too myopic to see the possibilities. I got carried away with the romance” Mila said feeling drained again.

“I’m gonna be so pissed with Leo. He should have mentioned it at least. What the hell is wrong with men?!” Simi was furious now.

“Do you know what even baffled me?” Mila asked Simi who shook her head clueless

Mila continued “Just on Wednesday of last week, he told me he was travelling for an urgent business meeting to the US and then yesterday, he shows up with this gorgeous woman who looked like she had been bathed in affluence all her life. I felt so small Simi”

“What was his reaction when he saw you?” Simi asked trying to figure out where she had been when it was all happening

“He was shocked as well. I noticed that he tried coming after me when I stood up to leave  but, his wife stopped him. I mean, he’s got some nerve. Now I know why he travelled for over three months without contacting me. He was probably still here in Nigeria, with his family. Oh Simi, I don’t even know if he’s got kids!” Mila felt her head throbbing with pain and head it between her hands

Simi was livid with anger as she asked “Where was I when all these was happening?”

“Oh Simi, never mind. It’s happened we can’t change all that now. I just wish I had never met Tunji. Like, this is the second time this is happening to me in two years already and the stupid nightmares just keeps coming. I feel cursed!” she exclaimed

Simi quickly took Mila’s hands in hers and tried to comfort her “Shhh Mila. You’re not cursed. The guys are just too blind to see what a beautiful soul you are. And believe me when I say that you’re an amazing woman. Anyone would be lucky to have you” she finished and smiled affectionately

Mila felt the tears again on her cheeks. She was overwhelmed with so many emotions she couldn’t describe and as much as they were, she felt empty. Simi made another attempt to cheer her up. Her face lit up with excitement as she swirled an idea in her head.

“I just thought of something Mila. Let’s go away together. My flight leaves by 2 pm tomorrow and I’ve packed already before coming here. What do you say?”

Mila’s head shot up, surprised. She hadn’t expected that. She had never travelled out of Nigeria before but she had done her international passport immediately after her NYSC just in case the opportunity presented itself.She had always wished she could travel to Dubai to feed her eyes and shop and stroll along the beautiful streets but she was yet to get her wish. She didn’t even know the cost of flight tickets but she had heard that they were quite expensive. She looked at Simi to see if she was joking but she wasn’t.

“That’s a great idea Simi but, I’ve never ever travelled out before, I don’t even know the cost of the ticket, I don’t know the procedures at the airport, I don’t have where I’d stay when I get there and what about my parents, my job?”

Simi smiled like she already knew these questions would come ” I’ll take care of everything. Remember who my Dad is? Why should he be wealthy if I can’t milk him as I want? You’ll stay with me in London. My Dad’s house is a mansion over there with enough rooms to house fifteen people. Just take it as an early Christmas present from me to you”

“Gosh Simi! I can’t allow you spend your hard earned money that way. I’ll ruin your holiday with my gloom!” Mila argued

“Come on Mila! You only live once! You won’t be ruining anybody’s holiday. In fact, this will be an opportunity for you to get away from all this drama for a while. Work is over for the year to resume in the second week of January remember? I even sent Mr. Duke an email earlier today telling him that, you were sick and might not show up today and tomorrow. He said no problem since there was nothing to be done in the office except the festivities. Your remunerations will be paid to your account. As for your parents, we’ll talk to your Mum now. I’m sure she’ll love the idea. About the money, just let me handle it. Now all you have to do is shut up, go fish out your international passport and let’s start packing for a great London trip.” with that, she left to go look for Mila’s Mum.

Mila was surprised. This is just too much to take in. So, Tunji had to break her heart for her to travel abroad for the first time. Life is just one hell of a comic theatre. She got up precariously and headed for her closet. Her phone started ringing again and she picked it up to see that “Mine” was still calling. She ignored it and when back to the task at hand.

“You only live once Mila” she echoed Simi’s words to herself again and again.

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