I took a big gulp of champagne and sputtered, glancing around quickly to see if anyone had taken notice. When I observed I was alone in the bar save for one white man reading a newspaper, I relaxed. I certainly didn’t want to draw attention to myself even though I knew nobody around here would be able to figure out my true identity. Things had worked out thankfully. By the time Sammy had woken from his drug induced sleep, I was on a plane to Calabar. I had contacted a guy I knew who was into property and told him to put up my house for rent. I would have loved to sell it but Alhaji had never given me the papers even though the house was mine. I guess it was his own way of staying in control. Anyway the rent would be able to sustain my lifestyle till I decided on a new way to make mad money. The guy had sensed I had to leave in a hurry and had asked me if I had moved out of the house. I told him to get a trusted staff to move all my personal belongings and have them mailed to an address I would send to him later and that I would send someone to get my cars. I pointed out that the house was fully furnished and in a good location and I expected good money for it and then rushed him off the phone before he could probe deeper. I knew he wouldn’t steal from me, I had spoken to him a couple of times and had this gut feeling besides he was a big boy in his own right not one hungry hustler. I smiled…I used to be a hungry hustler!
There was no doubt that Sammy had fled the country already. I really did hope that would be the last I ever saw of him. Now I just wanted a new start, a new identity if possible and a new job. I wanted to keep being a Lagos big girl but not one of those expensive hos, I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur, someone that would inspire others. I decided that Modinat needed to die. Never again would I be referred to by that name. Thankfully my agent addressed me as Miss Ajayi. I would simply go by my other name Toke. Toke Ajayi I whispered…trying it on for size. No one had ever called me that. It was one of the numerous names I had been given during my naming ceremony and it had somehow found itself exalted to birth certificate status. I paused and looked around me, I knew that while I was hibernating at Tinapa I needed to make some phonecalls and plan my next move. I wondered who I could call. My phone book consisted of men I had slept with and mostly stolen from. I thought really hard.
“It’s a beautiful day isn’t it?” I was broken out of my reverie by the Oyinbo greeting that had become an invitation to sit down and chat in my books. I tried not to sigh.
“Hello, Yes it is beautiful” And voila, he took the cue.
Thirty minutes later we were laughing at something he said and I realised there were far worse things in life than sitting down with this almost good looking American. He did take my mind off more pressing matters and in a way I was grateful. Barry was an expatriate for Mobil and had come here by himself for a mini-vacation. He wasn’t married, loved adventure and thought of Nigeria as a second home. He seemed quite attracted to me and suddenly I smiled as it hit me.
“God works in mysterious ways!” I announced.
“He does, doesn’t He?”
A month later we were engaged and truthfully despite my scheming to expedite this, I was actually happy and very fond of my soon to be, very quirky husband. During my soul-searching at Tinapa, I had developed a love for social media and social media had loved me right back. I smiled as I saw pictures of my engagement ring displayed on a popular blog. I had also registered my company. I had decided that I would run an image consulting firm where I would give the average girl the polish and class her background denied her. Everyone deserved a shot at marrying a rich guy, rich and successful men weren’t the sole inheritance of butty chicks, it was all about polishing and I was determined to prove this theory again and agin. Already I was a great hit and was quite surprised at how much people even the rich ones, would pay to buy class. I had moved in with Barry after our vacation at Tinapa, the poor dude couldn’t exist without me. There were things to be said about being an ex-ashewo, my bedroom schematics were unrivaled and now that I was a focussed, successful entrepreneur, it was literally icing on the cake.
Barry was a big boy, one of those Lagos expatriates popular on the social scene and anytime I bumped into someone I used to know who pointed out that my face looked familiar, Barry would talk about my increasing popularity until the person was convinced that seeing me on a blog was the reason I looked familiar. Barry sensed I had a past I didn’t want to discuss and he respected my privacy. He would joke about how like fine wine, I had matured and gotten more exquisite with each passing day. The funny thing was, the dude was spot on!
Then came the wedding day, the most beautiful day of my life. All my new friends were there, Barry’s cousin was walking me down the aisle and I could see a smiling Barry waiting for me at the altar. Everything was perfect. I remembered the days of my hustle and tears sprang to my eyes. God had been too good to me. And as I turned to smile at the faces of my well wishers, I saw a man in dark shades sitting in a corner away from every one else and my heart skipped a beat. He removed the shades and smiled at me, it was Tade one of my business associates, I smiled at him and heaved a sigh of relief. Barry’s cousin squeezed my hand assuming I was nervous. I uttered a silent prayer to God wishing Alhaji’s family and most especially Samsudeen far, far away.
Later that night as I lay wide-eyed, beside my sleeping, very content husband, I got a strange email.
“Congrats Modi, I watched you walk down the aisle today and I could see you were truly happy. I never left town, when I awoke after the drug had worn off, I realised my pursuers would expect me to run. I staged my own death along with the help of a good friend and got myself a new identity (it cost far less than relocating would have). I am a good man Modi, I made mistakes as you did and thankfully we both got second chances. Do not mess this up, I will always be watching you…my runaway bride. S”
…Do you ever feel like someone is watching you? Well this is my reality…….
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