Rumbling thunder and violet streaks of lightning woke Nneoma from a deep sleep. It wasn’t the rains, it was a nightmare. She was lying on Jackson’s arms when a text message beeped on her cell phone. She rushed at it and opened it, it was almost 6a.m and Editi had invited her and her husband for the birthday party at the Silverbird cinema.
Nneoma had never heard of a birthday party at a cinema auditorium. Editi had boldly written ‘Please don’t come without your husband’ in capital letters. Nneoma laughed. She’d thought it was going to be an unusual fun birthday party for her and Jackson. And the baby too.
Burying her head inside the pillow, she touched her belly and whispered, “Today is daddy’s birthday.”
She was joyful when she said it. She wished Jackson was going back to work soon, so that she would lie about the inverter again, and at least, kiss Akwang for the last time. She would not tell him of her EDD, and she will keep the baby far from him.
Jackson was making plans to accompany her to the USA to have the baby. He would go back to work from there and visit his wife and baby from time to time. But he was never going to let Nneoma stay in Nigeria with the baby. He was never going to tell her of his plans until the baby comes.
The morning came and everyone sang a happy birthday song for Akwang who had just returned from jogging.
He smiled and said, “Thank you baby, thank you mama.”
He turned to Abas and said, “Thank you too.” Then he kissed Nathan’s little cheeks, “Thank you my boy.”
Everyone smiled, but Editi’s smile wasn’t genuine. When he left for his room, his mother turned to Editi and asked, “We won’t cook for the party?”
“Mama, a caterer has settled all that,”Editi replied dryly. Her tone was harsh.
Editi locked herself inside Nathan’s room and sent messages to all the contacts in Akwang’s phone, inviting them to his birthday party, and she’d strictly informed them that the message was from her, and it was going to be a surprise party.
She’d baked a cake and molded them into the face of Akwang and Nneoma by attaching the picture of Nneoma and Akwang kissing themselves. It was a beautiful piece of artistry, something she’d never done before. Everyone would love her work, and she would make herself more customers. She hid the cake from everyone until the time for the birthday had come.
It was scheduled for 5:30p.m. It had almost seemed as if the time was never going to come.
Nneoma and Jackson dressed elegantly in a denim wear and drove quietly to the venue. There were over five hundred people, waiting inside the auditorium, including Akwang’s distant cousins who lived in Abeokuta.
Editi pleaded with Nneoma to please call and trick Akwang to come to the cinema.
Nneoma flipped her long hair out of her face and pressed her hand against her heart, “He is not aware?”
Editi nodded casually. “He isn’t. Call him,” she ordered and smiled mischievously at Jackson and walked away to attend to other guests.
Nneoma didn’t know why it had to be her who should call Akwang, but she was excited she was going to hear his voice again and wish him a happy birthday.
She faked a cry over the phone, and told him that her water broke suddenly when she went to see a movie.
“Is Jackson not around?” he asked breathing heavily as his heart trembled.
“I can’t reach him,” she pretended to be crying.
He drove speedily from the gym and as soon as he arrived and saw that most of his friends and uncles he hadn’t seen for a long time were also there, he blinked.
“Uncle Usoro, Aunty Bella? Abigail?” He stared at everyone in shock, “What’s happening? Mike?” He paused and thought for a while, “Is this a surprise from someone?”
“Oboy! Happy birthday, na your wife bring us come here o!” one of his friends and colleague said as he shook his hands.
He smiled sensually at Nneoma after he shook hands with Jackson. She smiled coyly at him too.
Everyone got into the auditorium. Akwang wondered why it had to be in a cinema hall and not in a hall that was built exclusively for a party.
Every person he knew was there, including his in-laws. Even the ones he couldn’t even recognize were also there.
He inhaled deeply when Editi appeared in a black shimmery elegant gown. She’d weaved her natural hair in the simplest way and the tiny, dropping earring she wore matched with her shoes.
“Welcome everyone, today, my husband has clocked thirty-three, and it’s amazing how life can be.”
Everyone gave a loud applause and she continued.
“Thank you for coming, I have a surprise for y’all,” she spoke so loudly and clear like she was about doing an official presentation before professors and doctors.
Two girls rolled out the cake in a trolley and when they reached the center of the stage, they turned the cake so that the side that has the face of Nneoma and Akwang kissing themselves, was facing the audience. Everyone stared in shock as they watched Editi.
Nneoma’s heart fell. Her fear was every bit as stark and terrifying as it had been that awful day when Akwang’s mother caught them at the backyard.
Next Chapter: |Chapter 28|
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3||Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6||Chapter 7||Chapter 8||Chapter 9||Chapter 10||Chapter 11||Chapter 12||Chapter 13||Chapter 14||Chapter 15||Chapter 16||Chapter 17||Chapter 18||Chapter 19||Chapter 20||Chapter 21||Chapter 22||Chapter 23||Chapter 24||Chapter 25||Chapter 26||Chapter 27||Chapter 28|