A Twisted Love: One Night Stand to the Grave
A night to forget
Tokunbo sat at the bar nursing his fourth drink for the night. It had been a bad day and a strong drink was just what he needed to drown it out. He had been trying to acquire a company for months now and had gotten the call rejecting his bid a few hours ago.
The thing was, he was not accustomed to losing especially when he had put in too much of himself and resources like he had done with this particular acquisition. He was going to win, this he was sure of. He just had to come up with a stronger bid that the sellers wouldn't be able to resist. Tonight though, he needed to forget his looming defeat. Forget that today was also the second anniversary of his fiancée’s death. To accomplish that, he had stayed away from his usual highbrow part of town, preferring to stop at a local bar while been driven around town to clear his head. Chances that he would run into a known face here were too slim.
Austin, his driver cum cook, housekeeper and butler waited a few seats from where he sat. Austin had refused Tokunbo’s invitation to join him in drinking; he had to be clearheaded to ensure his boss’ safety since he had made it clear he had no plans of leaving the bar sober. He watched and looked after his boss more than his job description required.
Right now, he wished he could wipe the sadness that was evident on Tokunbo’s face but he had to be content simply guarding him tonight while he drank his sorrows away. They shared a friendship that had made them inseparable since the year he began working for Tokunbo’s family back home. He had begged Tokunbo to take him with him when he had informed him he was moving away from home. Now, he was Tokunbo's only household employee.
Tokunbo had asked the bar tender to pour him the strongest drink as soon as he was seated. The drink burnt a path down his throat leaving a sweet aftertaste in his mouth. For the cheap liquor that it was, it tasted and felt really good. He downed two more shots of the brew before settling to slowly nurse a fourth while taking in his environment for the first time since his entry.
His eyes roamed round the bar; this place was simply unglamorous but had given its best shot to making its frequenters comfortable. To his extreme left was a stage set up to host performers and a small space just beneath it for anyone who was moved to dance. The stage was currently empty but music from a jukebox filled the room. He closed his eyes to it but opened them to continue his perusal as soon as he decided the music was not soothing his mood.
He watched the people in the dimly lit bar. There weren’t that many people besides those who obviously worked the bar; a middle-aged couple who seemed to have found an interesting topic of discussion in him since they continuously threw surreptitious glances his way while talking; a group of six who he doubted were old enough to be there but were doing their best to look grown up; a couple of alright-looking locals, Austin, and lastly, sitting very close to the bar, literally under his nose were four young ladies.
They seemed an interesting lot, he decided as he reached for the fifth glass the bartender just poured him. Not only were they of different races, there seemed to be an aura of sophistication about them which meant that like him, this was not their usual crowd.
These ladies were here to have fun, no doubt about that. They were playing a game that reminded him of the truth or dare game his younger self used to play with his friends back home in Nigeria. He had last played it at his thirtieth birthday party which had been four years ago; two years after which he had decided to be mostly resident in this country after the tragic death of his fiancée. Moving away from home had been a tough but good choice, breaking away from the family business an even better one. He finally felt like he was his own man.
Three of the ladies laughed heartily as they beat the table repeatedly while looking expectantly at the fourth lady who held a drink in her hand and had a smile pasted on her lips. Beautiful lips, he thought to himself. He liked her very much; his body told him. She was very beautiful and evidently African like him. They must have noticed him staring because they all turned towards him, sizing him up.
Truth or dare?
Next, they had their heads close together in a conspiratory manner. He saw the African lady shake her head repeatedly while the others nodded and giggled on; they seemed to be affirming a stance. When she sighed heavily, reluctantly stood up and sauntered towards him, he knew he had just been used as a pawn in whatever game they were playing. Tokunbo didn't mind.
A look at her made him realize a pretty face was not all there was to her, her lithe figure was poured into skin tight, high waisted shorts and her ample cleavage spilled out of revealing crop top. Her feet were encased in a pair of high-heeled boots that served to enhance her gainly height. She smiled coyly as she reached him, placing a hand on his already heated thigh.
With a slur to her words he thought deliberate and intended to sound seductive, she asked;
“Buy me a drink?”
Tokunbo chuckled. The thought that she was not used to doing this rang in his head involuntarily. He had seen her friends ginger her into approaching him, so he knew she was not here of her own volition. She was playing a game; one he knew she could win without trying too hard. He shook his head in an attempt to clear his thoughts.
The playful look on her face was replaced with one of dismay, She must have read his action as a dismissal. He corrected her immediately.
“That was not a reply to your question. Of course, I’d love to buy you a drink.”
He snapped his fingers to get the bartender’s attention while she, relieved, settled onto the stool next to him. She sipped the drink uninterestedly when it was set before her like s.
She looked away when his intent gaze became uncomfortable in time to see her friends give her the thumbs up sign. She knew Tokunbo s them too when he chuckled again. Embarrassed, she smiled at her friends before returning her attention to him.
Her next words took him by surprise
“Tokunbo Adebija in the flesh; roaming among us ordinary folks. Who would have thought?”
The tone of his voice when he said “You know who I am” mirrored his surprise.
“Of course, I do. There aren’t many from Nigeria who don't. My name is Ijeoma; Ijeoma Dike and you are Tokunbo Adebija. It's nice to meet us." She said, cheerfully extending both hands in crisscrossed fashion for a handshake.
A rubble of laughter erupted from Tokunbo as he took in her comical expression and her extended delicate hands.
He clasped the hands in gay spirits enhanced by the alcohol in his system and responded just as cheerfully as she had spoken.
"It’s nice to meet us too." He managed before his voice rang out in another round of laughter.
His response earned him a radiant smile that made him realize he was not ready to let her go back to her table just yet. Conversation was the way to go and he took that route. She was a ray of sunshine permeating and dispersing his dark mood. He was soon laughing out loud without caring. He caught several curious looks sent their way; from her friends too.
God bless their thoughtfulness at sending her his way; he murmured under his breath.
Ijeoma: safe journey
Ijeoma was an international student rounding up her master’s degree program and her friends were classmates she had bonded with since joining the class. He was amazed at how well she could handle scintillating conversation; in the time since they had started talking, they had virtually touched on every topic he could think of. She was smart, quite witty and a charmer. They flirted openly with each other as they chatted. She had even touched his super tidy beard. She had told him her name Ijeoma means safe journey in her local Igbo dialect.
He liked the name just like he was certain he liked her; it suited her. Tokunbo felt charmed which was why he invited her to go home with him.
He saw the caution that lurked in her eyes reappear when he offered the invitation. It reaffirmed his earlier perception that she was not used to hanging out in bars that reeked of alcohol, sex and men. Tokunbo was starting to feel disappointed at her delayed response when the cautious look was quickly replaced with a daring one.
Ijeoma excused herself to talk to her friends. Again, they put their heads together as they listened and giggled at whatever it was she said to them. He could never understand why ladies giggled so much. Their heads came up to stare at him; he returned their looks unflinchingly and down went their heads again. They were acting like high school girls. It amused him. He saw Ijeoma scribble something on a paper before she picked up her coat and made her way back to him.
"What was that all about?" He asked smilingly as soon as she reached him.
"Girl stuff. Don't bother, you can't understand it. They however wished me a safe journey" She replied with a wink.
Tokunbo understood it alright. How could he not when he had grown up with two elder sisters and a younger one. He chose to laugh at rather than challenge her statement.
"Are you ready?" He asked.
Ijeoma nodded, afraid that her words would not be affirmative if she spoke. She knew exactly what she could be agreeing to by going home with him. She and her friends had chosen to come to this bar tonight to have unhinged fun away from their rigorous school and work life. They had insinuated that she in particular had to loosen up and had devised the game to see to that. They had succeeded.
Tokunbo Adebija was trouble for her, she knew he was. She may have the fortune of going home with him tonight but wouldn't delude herself that this was not a once-in-a-lifetime kind of occurrence.
She had nursed a crush for him for as long as she could remember; while her peers had gushed about movie and music stars, she had happened on a picture of a much younger Tokunbo in the newspaper and had been hooked ever since. He was 9 years older than her 25 years and moved in different circles altogether. Her crush on him had played a role in emboldening her tonight; if it was anyone else other than Tokunbo Adebija, she would have stuck to downing another shot of the drink. This was him, so she had sucked up her shyness and had greedily lapped up every word he said to her. It was what had spurred her into accepting his invitation; a first she hoped she wouldn't regret.
"Let's get out of here" He said in a voice thicker than usual and filled with promise.
A night of unhinged fun
His words made Ijeoma shiver and brought her sailing back just in time to see him snap his hands at a man seated not so far away. Austin stood up and was out the door in seconds. Tokunbo must have felt the need to clarify because he said; "Austin is my employee who does everything; cook, keep house and drive. I did not have the intention of leaving here sober so he came along. I had a bad day."
He put a hand on her back as he led her out of the bar. A slight frown which Ijeoma did not care for now creased his forehead. She wanted it gone.
"Is this what you do every time you have a bad day? Find a rock to slip under and some alcohol to drown it out?"
His replied in a gruff voice after only a moment's contemplation. "No. I never play to lose. I never lose. This was just a step back, I'll win this."
Austin opened the door as they reached the car and she slipped in, waited for Tokunbo to do the same before asking.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"No, I just want to forget about it tonight, I came here to do just that."
Ijeoma did not have the time to feel shut out before his head descended and his lips were on hers. She wasn't prepared for it but did not push him away either. This was what their flirting all night had been building up to, wasn't it? This was her drop dead gorgeous Tokunbo, fulfilling her fantasy. Just like he wanted to forget everything else tonight, she had chosen to be unhinged tonight, hadn't she? When Tokunbo lifted his head to sear her with a questioning look for her unresponsiveness, Ijeoma pulled his head down till his lips touched hers and this time, there were no inhibitions holding her back.
Austin's embarrassed cough halted them and brought them back to earth. Ijeoma, who had somehow landed in Tokunbo's lap while they kissed with reckless abandon moved off his lap and settled in her seat. Her head felt light, her stomach jittery but she felt good. Tokunbo's eyes did not leave her neither did he release her hand, not even when she went to adjust her top.
In an exasperated voice laced with arousal, he announced; "We are home."
The sound of that made Ijeoma’s eyes dreamy. As Tokunbo opened the door and led her inside, she wished this was a love tryst with the man of her dreams and not a one night stand. It wasn't, this was just sex for Tokunbo so Ijeoma settled for putting her head in the game; her unhinged night of fun.
Tokunbo lay on his bed awaiting Ijeoma's return from his bathroom where she had disappeared into as soon as he shut the bedroom door behind them. This was an unusual night for him; he never ever brought the women he had flings with home. He preferred it that way. It was much easier.
He could not put a finger on what had possessed him to do differently tonight. She was something; he just could not come up with a word to qualify what she was yet. For all her coyness, she was a spitfire. He had tasted it in her body’s response while they kissed and now, his body throbbed in anticipation as he waited.
The haziness from the alcohol he drank was only just a dull thud in his head now, if anything, he was tipsy with expectancy. Damn! He was acting like a boy at his first sexual escapade; Tokunbo thought, as he shifted from one side of the bed to the other. He wondered why she was taking this long. Any second now, she would step out and he would behold her glorious nakedness; any second now.
A night to remember
Tokunbo awoke from the sleep he had drifted into. It took him a while to recollect but as soon as he did, he stared frowningly at the empty space beside him. Where was she? Had she nodded off in his bathroom or had she left, unwilling to disturb his sleep?
He checked his wristwatch noting it had been four hours since they came home. He smacked himself on his forehead. How could he have fallen asleep? The drinks must have been stronger than he thought. Tokunbo scooted off the bed and was at his bathroom door in two long steps. When his knock went unanswered, he opened the door and went in.
The shock from the picture before him sent him smack against the closed door in seconds. He let out a shout before he put his hand over his mouth to silent himself.
Ijeoma lay naked in his Jacuzzi filled with water; her open eyes were rolled backwards, staring up at the ceiling while her lifeless hands fell sideways towards the floor on either side. He didn’t need a doctor to pronounce her dead. Despite his momentary shock, he could see she was quite dead. Had she drowned? How could she have?
Her body was very well above water and he doubted she could have even if it weren’t. He had been the drunken one when they had arrived. What had gone wrong in the hours while he had slept? His head now clearer than ever; Tokunbo went to phone the cops without proceeding further into the bathroom. He couldn't let the fear he felt overcome him. He went to rouse Austin from his room but met it empty.
While Tokunbo waited for whichever of them would show up first, his mind went back to a similar incidence in Nigeria two years ago. His wife to be, Bisola had had an accident while driving herself home from his house where she had spent the night. It had been a blow from which he was yet to fully recover. Ijeoma was the first woman he had brought home since the incident. He felt cursed.
The cops and forensic team arrived soon after and Tokunbo was caught up in interrogations and staying out of the way while they worked. Ijeoma was taken out in a body bag and the uncanny thought that she had not had a safe journey like her name promised creeped into his head. What an irony, he thought.
Tokunbo was informed he had to vacate his home for the period temporarily; his house was officially a crime scene to be cordoned off. He was also a prime suspect and was not permitted to leave town until cleared.
Caught in the ring
At the moment, a member of the forensics team came out holding a transparent plastic bag which he brought to the cop standing with Tokunbo. It contained a ring that had been found in the Jacuzzi.
“Whose is this? Was the deceased wearing this when you met?” The cop asked him pointing at the ring which the forensics man now held carefully in a gloved hand.
Tokunbo peeked closely at the ring. Ijeoma had not been wearing it last night. He knew who the ring belonged to. It was Austin’s ring; one he always wore and never ever took off. He had once told him it was the only thing he had of his late father. How had Austin’s ring gotten into his Jacuzzi?
He had seen the ring on Austin’s hands while he was driving him around town the previous night Tokunbo had been lost in thoughts and his gaze had been involuntarily fixated on Austin’s hands as he steered the wheEl. Where was Austin? He usually returned from his nightly adventure before Tokunbo was sure to need him in the morning. It was almost time for his breakfast and Austin would usually be in the kitchen, making him eggs and coffee.
“It belongs to my live-in employee, Austin.” Tokunbo finally replied the cop who had been waiting on his answer.
“And where is he at the moment?” The cop demanded.
Tokunbo made to explain but Austin walked into the room at that moment as though conjured by magic. He looked surprised to see the cops all over the house as he scanned the room until he located Tokunbo. He made for him immediately.
“There he is.” Tokunbo answered looking pointedly in Austin’s direction. The cop followed his gaze and found Austin just as he reached them.
“What is happening? I saw a number of cops crawling all over the place as I entered.” Austin asked seemingly perplexed.
The cop answered before Tokunbo could and it quickly turned into an interrogation. Tokunbo saw Austin dart glances at him from time to time as though beseeching him to save him from the cop. Tokunbo remained undisruptively silent and rooted to the spot, listening as Austin battled to explain his absence and how his ring had gotten in the Jacuzzi. Austin did not sound convincing, not even to Tokunbo as he stuttered and faltered severally over his answers. He did not make any move when the cop instructed that Austin be handcuffed and taken away; not even when Austin’s cries for him to do something got past his shock.
Tokunbo Adebija returned to Nigeria eight months later, alone. It had taken his PR team a while to clear up the scandal that had followed Ijeoma's death. He had gotten Austin a lawyer despite how betrayed he felt. It was a lost cause considering Austin’s confessions during interrogation but he had done it anyway; as a parting present perhaps for his years of loyal service to the family up until two years ago.
Twisted love to the death
Austin had been in love with him for so long. His twisted love was the reason he had tampered with Bisola’s car two years ago which had resulted in her death. It was why he had begged to follow Tokunbo abroad where he hoped they could have the chance at a love he presumed his boss felt too. He had waited patiently for Tokunbo the two years since they arrived, sucking it up each time his boss occasionally had flings with women, waiting for him to realize himself and come to him, his one true love.
Austin had seen Ijeoma as a threat when his boss decided to bring her home after watching with anger how happy Tokunbo was in her company, not to mention their heated embrace in the car. He had watched in the mirror as he drove them home angrily. He had wanted to be the one to sooth Tokunbo’s sadness away and she had taken that chance away from him and still had the gall to desecrate the home he shared with Tokunbo by coming into it for a night of passion.
Austin had listened in from the bedroom door left slightly ajar. He was thrilled when his boss began snoring. He had only wanted to see for himself what had been keeping her in the bathroom and had slipped in only to find her relaxing her muscles in the Jacuzzi, preparing for the night ahead. She was an idiot as far as he was concerned. Who wasted time relaxing in a Jacuzzi while the promise of heated sex with a man as gorgeous as Tokunbo waited for them on the other side of the door?
Ijeoma had looked so at peace with her eyes closed that it had annoyed him to no end. It was on impulse that his feet had sprang right next to her and his hands had closed in around her neck before she was alerted to his presence. She had struggled and scratched at his hands, pulling off his loosely fitted ring in the process.Austin had held on until she became suppliant in his arms; very much dead.
Satisfied, he left the bathroom, stopping to stare longingly at his boss' nakedness. Austin dropped a light kiss on his lips then went to change his wet clothes before leaving the house. While he cooled off in a pub close-by, he had noticed his missing ring and seen the scratches on his hands when the pain had finally gotten through to him.
Austin made to go back for the ring but had seen the cops headed for the house and decided to stay put till much later. There was no where he could run to, this was not Nigeria where he would stand a chance at surviving on his own. More importantly, he could not leave his Tokunbo to weather the storm that was sure to follow alone. He needed to be by his side. So he had returned only to be nabbed.
As far as Tokunbo was concerned, Austin would never set his eyes on him again. The law had ensured that. He had located Ijeoma’s family a on his return and although her mother had refused severely, he had gone back until she had finally accepted the system he put in place to see her and Ijeoma's younger sibling taken care of for the better part of their lives.
It was the best he could do since no matter how much he wished for it, he could not bring Ijeoma back to life. They might have struck up a relationship if she still lived. He had learned to accept defeat as far as this was concerned.
Fiction authored by @royalrose
All images were obtained from pixabay.
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