The next few weeks were an absolute dream!
Pere was pure perfection; attentive, kind and supportive. He couldn’t have been more doting and caring if we were a proper couple. His was always the first call I got in the morning, and the last I got at night, checking to make sure I was okay. And about three times a week, he would stop by to see me for himself. His driver, Sylvester, was permanently with me, and I now had the privilege of being chauffeur driven everywhere I needed to go. It was almost like days long gone with Ejiro, and the irony that it was now Pere giving me this luxury life wasn’t lost on me.
“Na wa oh. Your baby daddy must be loaded!” a few of my colleagues commented, upon seeing me alight from Pere’s flashy Mercedes. “We’ve already started clearing our stomachs for the wedding!”
I’d smiled politely, but at my desk, I couldn’t help but be saddened over the fact that there would be no wedding.
As wonderful and caring as Pere was, there was the ever-present shadow of Ogechi, his girlfriend, looming over us. Anytime he was at my house, or we were at the hospital, she was always sure to call. And anytime she called, Pere shut down whatever it was he was doing to give her his full attention. It was obvious he was taking the relationship very seriously, and I couldn’t help but note that he’d never been that way with me.
But I soldiered on, nursing the secret wish that maybe, just maybe, he would wake up one day and realise I was the one he’d always loved…and that he’d choose me over her. I was carrying his children after all.
“He’s just been so wonderful, Voks!” I said dreamily, as we stood in the middle of the banquet hall of Oriental Hotel. him “It’s been so awesome having here for me, and being with me through everything.”
“This hall just doesn’t feel right! It’s too big and flashy. I don’t know why Obiora’s mom is insisting on the place.” Voke mumbled.
“Voks, are you listening to me?!”
My sister gave me the side eye. “You’re talking nonsense, Isio. And I don’t have time to listen to silly daydreams.” she smiled at the Hotel Manager. “I’ll have to come back with my fiancé. Can I have your rate sheet?”
“Silly daydreams?! Because I’m saying how happy I am that Pere has been supportive.”
My sister knew me too well, and there was no point denying it. “Says who? When did he meet her? And how long have we been in love with each other?”
Voke guffawed. “In love with each other? Isio, give me a break! You guys broke up 12 years ago, and I honestly don’t know what to call what kind of foolery has been going on ever since, but I wouldn’t call that love!”
“What about the fact that we made babies together? Doesn’t that count?”
Voke sighed deeply. “Isio, I love you, and I don’t want to see you build yourself up for heartbreak. Pere is very serious about this Ogechi girl. Very serious. Don’t mistake him being a good guy and a responsible father-to-be for anything romantic.”
She walked off, leaving me standing there, her words sinking into me like a capsizing ship. Reluctantly, I picked up pace behind her and sulked all the way on the drive to the venue of her choice. Voke had taken the day off work to check out the reception venue her future mother-in-law was insisting on, and I’d decided to call in sick so I could accompany her.
“Is that why you are frowning? Because I told you the truth?” she laughed, as she drove. “My friend, you better stop clowning and get it together. If you’re not going to be useful to me in this venue search, I might as well drop you at home!”
“You expect me to laugh after you just killed my spirit?!” I sulked.
“I don’t expect you to be having such foolish fantsatsies! Not at this age! Wasn’t it the same you that didn’t even want him to be involved in the first place? Now, you’ve already picked out your wedding gown in your head.” she laughed. “Otu!”
I had to laugh in spite of myself. “Na you be otu, ode! You that your mother-in-law is the one secretly planning your wedding. You will just attend the wedding as a guest, at this rate!”
Voke sighed. “Mehn, I too tire! And Obiora doesn’t even care if we get married in front of Bar Beach. He just wants to sha marry!”
I shrugged. “I guess that’s the most important thing.” I conceded. “How far with that Belinda?”
Voke smiled. “Gone. Obiora told her off a few weeks back, so she doesn’t bother him anymore.”
I nodded and smiled. That was at least some good news. The last thing we needed was his ex-girlfriend hovering around, and making not only a nuisance of herself but my poor sister extremely uncomfortable as well. Voke had never been the confrontational type, because if I were her, I would have shown the heifer a thing or two!
We drove to one of the waterfront gardens in Lekki Phase 1, and Voke and I stood there, looking at the lagoon.
“Can you just imagine the place, strung all over with fairy lights, for a nice evening reception?” Voke said, a dreamy smile on her face. “Wouldn’t it be the most romantic thing ever?”
“I can dream, can’t I?” Voke said, still with the dreamy smile. “Why get married in December, if you can’t have an outdoor wedding?”
“My dear, it now rains in December oh.”
“And it’s so much cheaper than Oriental, or Civic Centre, or any of the other places Obiora’s mom is insisting on.” Voke said one exasperation.
“You and Obiora are the ones paying for this wedding, so surely you guys can have your say.” I said, confused. Obiora in his new found wealth was more than capable of funding the wedding three times over, so I couldn’t understand why he was allowing his mother push Voke around.
“I’m trying to pick my battles, Isio!” Voke answered, with a resigned sigh. “The truth is, wherever we do get married, it will be magical.”
She was so correct…and I was jealous of her for having such a beautiful love that she was so sure of. What wouldn’t I give to have someone love me that way? What wouldn’t I give to be so sure of a man’s love, that it didn’t even matter where he married me? What wouldn’t I give to have the love of the only man I had ever truly loved in my life?
From Lekki, we drove back to Victoria Island, where we met up with Obiora for dinner. I watched as he listened in rapt attention as Voke complained, and my envy grew anew. Gosh, I would kill to have a man look at me that way!
“Babes, it’s not a problem. We can pick whatever venue we want for wedding reception. I know that my mom wanted a nice hall because of the people she’s expecting, but at the end of the day, it’s all about you and me.” he said, kissing her on the forehead.
Just as my envy was about to chew me alive, my phone rang. My heart fluttered when i saw that it was Pere calling.
“Hi.” I said, trying not to smile.
“Hi Isio. How are you? How did the outing with Voke go?” Pere asked.
“I’m great, thanks. And I’m still with her. We’re actually having dinner with Obiora, at Talindo.” I answered, before mouthing to Voke and Obiora “It’s Pere.”
“Oh really? I’m a few streets away from there. I’ll be right over to say hello.” he said, and hung up before I could even protest.
True to his words, he was there in no time, and we were soon having a nice double date…or at least, that’s what I consoled myself it was.
“I have to say, I’m really impressed by you and Isio.” Obiora remarked, midway through our meal. “I didn’t think you guys would handle this situation as well as you are.”
Pere and I exchanged a glance, and he smiled. “It really hasn’t been that hard. It’s been amazing being on this journey with her for the last 5 weeks. Knowing that my babies are right inside there…” he said, pointing at my stomach. “…is the best feeling ever! You can’t imagine how much I’m looking forward to being a dad.”
“So, it’s all about the babies? You’re not excited about being with Isio?” Voke asked, and I glared at her, knowing exactly what she was doing.
Pere smiled at me. “Of course I’m excited about being with Isio. She’s my person! You know how far back we go. Yes, we’ve had a few challenging years, but she will always remain one of my favourite people!”
“And Ogechi doesn’t mind you spending that much time with your baby mama?” Voke prodded.
“Voke!” Obiora chided.
Pere smiled knowingly. “No, she doesn’t mind. She knows that we’re platonic, and that we’re trying to develop a solid relationship for the sake of our babies.”
Voke nodded. “Hmmm. Interesting. Tell us about her again. Are you two serious? Will there be wedding bells chiming soon?”
“Pere, please ignore her.” Obiora jumped in just in time to save Pere. “You don’t have to answer that.”
“Actually, I will.” he answered. “Yes, we are serious. And as for wedding bells…very possibly, yes.”
Voke shot me a pointed look, and I kept my eyes glued to the food I was toying with, food I had completely lost my appetite for. Hearing it from Voke was one thing, but hearing Pere confirm that I was clearly hoping in vain for anything to happen between us, hurt something awful.
Just as the evening was winding down, Obiora’s best friend, Apache, joined us. After exchanging pleasantries with everyone, he smiled and took the seat next to me.
“Hi, Isio. You look beautiful. You’re really glowing!” he said, his knuckle brushing mine.
A small frown crossed Pere’s face, and I saw he’d noticed the gesture.
Apache’d had a crush on me for almost as long as Obiora and Voke had been an item. And considering he knew that Pere and I were once involved, and that Pere was the one responsible for my pregnancy, I was surprised by his brazenness.
“Apache, if I didn’t know better, I would have thought you were flirting with a woman carrying another man’s child!” Pere said, in what was supposed to be a joke but clearly had undertones to it. Undertones Apache picked up on.
“Carrying another man’s child, but not with another man.” was Apache’s sardonic reply.
“Hey, hey, hold up! Apache, you better respect yourself!” Obiora cut in. “Allow the girl give birth first, then you can do whatever it is you like!”
Yeah, why don’t you do that?” Pere said, a stiff smile on his face.
At this point, I was done with all the banter.
“I’m suddenly feeling a bit nauseous.” I said, rising to my feet. “Voke, can I have the car keys? I’d prefer to wait outside for a while.”
“I’ll go with you.” Pere said, also rising to his feet and shooting Apache a look, daring him to do the same.
We walked in silence to Voke’s car.
“Do you want me to drop you at home?” he offered.
I smiled and shook my head. “Voke will kill me if she has to do the drive home herself. I’m fine. i just needed some air.”
Pere nodded, and leaned on the car next to me, both of us staring on quietly. I wanted so much to just rest my head on his shoulder…to just have him wrap his arm around me. But I knew I had to be satisfied with this…for a lifetime.
“I’ll be travelling to Warri for a few days.” he said after a while, breaking the silence.
“For work?” I asked.
He shook his head. “To see Ogechi. She has a few days off, but can’t make it to Lagos this time. So I offered to come to her instead.”
It felt like I’d been kicked in the gut.
I shrugged nonchalantly. “That’s fine.”
“I know our scan isn’t for another week, so that’s why I actually picked this time to go…”
I shrugged again. “You don’t have to explain anything to me, Pere. You can go. That’s fine.”
He looked at me, and the look on his face was undiscernable. “Just make sure that Apache guy doesn’t come near you.”
I looked at him like he was crazy. “You don’t see me telling you who to date!”
The look on his face hardened. “Surely, you can’t be thinking of dating someone else when you’re carrying my children?! If you think I’m going to allow any man put his you-know-what anywhere near them…”
“But yet you can put your own you-know-what wherever you like, abi?” I snapped. “Please get over yourself, Pere. If you can date, so can I!”
“You can’t try it!” he called out, as I walked away.
“Watch me!” I called right back.
Of course I had no intentions of dating Apache. Not only was he in no way my type, how anyone could think I could entertain such an idea at almost 18 weeks pregnant was simply beyond me. But I sure as heck wasn’t going to allow Pere get away with this double standard of his. If it was fine for him to date, then he had to accept that it was fine for me as well.
He left for Warri the following day, and even though I had Sylvester with me 24/7, and even though Pere had wired me more than enough money I’d need to take care of anything I’d need, and even thoughI wasn’t scheduled for any appointments, I found myself missing him sorely.
Or if I’m to be honest, it wasn’t missing him that was eating me up. It was the thought of him being with Ogechi that tormented me. All I could think of was what they could be doing together…how she was the one kissing the same lips I had…and holding him the way I had. I could barely concentrate…at work or anywhere, as these were my sleeping and waking thoughts. But by Sunday, the day before he was scheduled to return, I knew I couldn’t go on this way. I couldn’t spend a lifetime wondering about Pere and Ogechi…or indeed, any other woman he opted to be with. Our love boat had clearly sailed, and there was no point mourning what could have been. It was time to let him go.
On Monday afternoon, he called to let me know he was back, and, expectedly, our conversation was strained and stilted. We hadn’t spoken since our argument at Talindos, and I wasn’t about to make him feel better by telling him he had nothing to worry about where Apache was concerned. As a matter of fact, I did want him to worry. I smiled as I thought of him killing himself with thoughts of Apache and I having sex. I wanted him to taste a bit of the mental torment I’d been living with. It was only fair.
The day after Pere’s return to Lagos, I got a call from a most unexpected person…
“Hello.” came a female voice with a notable American accent. “Is that Isio?”
“Speaking?” I responded, even though the sixth sense in me had already kicked into overdrive, with the suspicion of who it might be.
“My name is Ogechi. Pere’s girlfriend!”
Yep, I was right.
“Can I help you?” I stated more than asked.
“You should start by helping yourself!” came her shocking response, making me immediately sit up in bed. “What the hell is wrong with you? Why do you insist on acting like an invalid and preventing Pere from making something of himself?!”
My mouth hung open in shock. E be like the say the babe dey crase!
“Excuse me!” was all I could manage to exclaim.
“Pregnancy is not a sickness! You don’t need Pere at your beck and call every day of the week! He sends you enough money, why are you holding him hostage?!”
I started laughing. Ohhh, so that’s what it was all about!
“Just because you’re having his baby doesn’t give you the right to think you can monopolise his life!”
“It’s babies, little girl!” I snapped back. “I’m having twins! Pere and I are having twins!”
“Oh, whatever!” Ogechi snapped with equal sass. “Look, I don’t have time to trade insults with you. If you’re happy stretching your hand to receive handouts and imposing yourself on a man who clearly doesn’t want you…that’s your problem. I called to tell you that Pere turned down a fantastic job in Angola because of you. A job that would have been fantastic for his career. I hope you’re happy now!”
I held on to the phone long after she’d hung up as unceremoniously as she’d called, not sure what I found more shocking; the fact that Ogechi had called me at all…or the fact that Pere had turned down a job because of me.
“Your girlfriend called me today.” I said, when he stopped by later that evening.
His brows furrowed. “Ogechi called you? Why?!”
“Apart from the shade and insults she threw my way, she told me you’d turned down a job in Angola because of me.” I answered. “Is it true?!”
His nostrils flared. “She had no right to tell you that.”
“Is it true?!”
He shrugged. “Yes, I turned it down…and no, it wasn’t because of you. She seems to think it would have been a great boost for my career, but in actual fact, it’s not something I want at all. It’s a job in sales, and that’s not an area I want to carve my niche in.”
“You’re sure that’s what it is. You’re positive your decision wasn’t because of the babies and I?”
He hesitated. “Well, maybe a little bit.” he reluctantly answered. “I want to be here for it all, Isio. How can I move to Angola and miss out on all this? Besides, I promised I’d take care of you, and not just financially.”
For some reason, it rankled. It really rankled.
“I’m not a charity case, Pere, despite what you’ve made your girlfriend think.” I said, my voice level but my uneven breathing an indicator of my rising rage. “And I don’t need your pity.”
“What pity? What on earth are you saying, Isio?!”
“Thanks for everything you’ve done so far…but the twins and I will be fine without you.” I said, rising to my feet. “You need to leave now.”
“Isio, sit down and stop clowning!” Pere said. “You’re talking nonsense.”
“Please leave and take Sylvester along with you. I survived the first 12 weeks of this pregnancy alone, and I sure as heck can survive the remaining 22!” I retorted. “I’ll be sure to send you pictures of the remaining scans, but in the meantime, why don’t you do everyone a favour and take that job in Angola!”
I left him in our living room, sitting confused, and knew that Voke would be kind enough to let him out
As far as I was concerned…the honeymoon was over and real life was about to burst forth. If I was serious about letting Pere go, there was no better time. I knew I might as well get used to being alone.
Catch up on Isio’s story here:
- Iya Beji 1: A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Iya Beji 2: Destiny Blocker
- Iya Beji 3: Daisy
- Iya Beji 4: Upgrade
- Iya Beji 5: Bleeding Love
- Iya Beji 6: The Beast
- Iya Beji 7: The Standby Guy
- Iya Beji 8: The Boss
- Iya Beji 9: The Deal Breaker
- Iya Beji 10: The Convert
- Iya Beji 11: Hiatus
- Iya Beji 12: Never Stopped
- Iya Beji 13: Jealousy
- Iya Beji 14: Pure Magic
- Iya Beji 15: Congratulations, Mrs. Clarke!
- Iya Beji 16: Blast from the Past
- Iya Beji 17: The Offer
- Iya Beji 18: Co-Parenting
Catch up on our other series here: