The rest of the ride to Violet’s home was short and made in silence. Violet was thinking of the explanation she would give Oyim when he returned and found C-Jay in the house. She had mixed feelings over the thought. For one, she wanted to maintain the peace of her marriage. This part of her wanted to avoid anything that would threaten her marriage or provoke a reaction from Oyim. However, a tiny part of her wanted him to know about C-Jay’s visit to the house, to know that he had been the one to accompany her to the hospital and then bring her home. It would provoke him. It would provoke that tiny seed of jealousy that had been planted soon after she had lost weight. Those were times she had completely wiped out her mind. They were coming back now. The quarrels when she wore a skirt or gown that was a little above her knee; the angry barks at her when he found someone giving her what he called ‘inappropriate looks’; the sly comments when he visited her Instagram page and found compliments from other men under her posts. It took a while before they moved past it. Even she, often forgot that such a time existed.

C-Jay pulled the car to a stop in front of the gate. “They recognize the sound of your car right?” he asked as he honked the car two times. 

“Yes.” She sat upright and checked her phone for the time. It was a few minutes past seven. She sighed tiredly. Her day was far from over.

The gate opened and C-Jay drove in. 

At one look, Violet saw the red Jeep parked in the other part of the compound. Her heart missed two beats. She remained seated even as C-Jay properly parked the car. 

“We’re here.” He looked outside. “Am I wrong to assume that your husband is back?”

Violet said nothing. Sochi had opened the door for her. She looked into the car. “Uncle C-Jay, good evening.” If she was surprised to see someone else driving her mother, she said nothing. “Mummy, welcome.” She took Violet’s bag and stood aside to let Violet come down. 

“Mummy, mummy!” Two voices echoed in the darkening night. 

“Where is mummy?” Nma had stopped when she saw C-Jay beside the car. 

“Mummy is here,” Sochima shouted. 

It was then that Violet came down from the car. The cool evening breeze made her shiver. She staggered a bit then got her balance. 

Nma ran around the car and threw herself on Violet. Violet reeled back with the weight suddenly thrown at her. She rested on the car. Unable to lift Nma up, she rubbed the girl’s head fondly. “My baby.” 

Chike joined Nma with his arms around Violet’s thighs. “Mummy, good evening ma.”

“Mummy, carry me.” Nma lifted up her hands. 

“Not today.” C-Jay came around to join them. He lifted Nma, tossing her up in the air and then settling her in his arms. “Mummy is not feeling fine today. Let uncle C-Jay carry you.”

Chike looked at Violet, frowning in worry. “Mummy, what is wrong with you?”

“Let’s go inside.” Violet took his hand. Her heart was beating rapidly. Oyim was at home. She couldn’t as well tell C-Jay to leave after all he had done for her. But what would Oyim think? Sochi took the lead, opening the front door for them. But why am I getting worried? Violet chided herself. It’s not like we have anything inappropriate between us. Even as she tried to assure herself, her heart continued beating rapidly. C-Jay was talking to an excited Nma who kept on squealing to be thrown in the air. 

The parlor was empty when they got in, but the television was switched on, tuned in to a news channel. 

“Where is your father?” Violet asked. She gestured at C-Jay to have a seat. 

“He is upstairs. He came back some minutes ago.” Sochi replied. 

And he said he was still far from home, Violet seethed. Her guilt about C-Jay disappeared. At first, she wasn’t certain that Oyim was at home. He may have left his car at home and gone out to do something. But now that she confirmed that he was home, she couldn’t help but feel hurt, disappointed, and angry. Was he deliberately doing this to her?

Violet didn’t bother going upstairs for a change of clothes. She sent Sochi to get her wrapper and then proceeded to the kitchen. She had been considering giving C-Jay a plate of soup so he could take it home. So when she entered the kitchen, she filled the kettle with water and placed it on the gas cooker. Deciding on which soup to give C-Jay took some time. By the time she settled on egusi soup, the water on the cooker was boiling. 

Oyim came down just after she finished serving C-Jay his food in the parlor. She introduced the two men to each other with no emotion. “This C-Jay, my university coursemate that I told you about.” She made to leave the parlor. 

Oyim stood at the entrance of the parlor looking from Violet to C-Jay who after a friendly nod had turned his attention to the food in front of him, licking his fingers and reaching for another morsel of eba

“You didn’t tell me anything about him.” Oyim followed her out of the parlor to the kitchen. 

She rinsed her hands without looking and him. “You’ve forgotten. He came here once and you said you don’t like him coming to the house.”

He moved aside to let Sochi into the kitchen. He waited until Sochi carried the tray with food out of the kitchen before he said, “Then why is he here again?”

Violet turned to face him. “He took me to the hospital and when you said,” she dragged out the words, “that you won’t be able to pick me from the hospital, he had to drive me home. I can’t send him off without at least filling his stomach now, can I?”

His nose twitched. He wanted to say something but Violet cut him off. “Let’s have dinner first. Otherwise, it will get cold. Just treat him like a visitor.” She brushed past him as she walked out of the kitchen.

The kitchen led off to the dining room which was separated from the parlor by a wall of sky blue curtain. Violet looked into the parlor. “Nma, Chike, it’s time to eat.” To C-Jay she said, “Hope the food is okay? We are about to eat now, so if you want more soup or eba just call out.”

This would become one of the most awkward dinners Violet ever had and she ended up eating an even smaller portion than she usually did. 

C-Jay’s departure almost an hour later left the home in a strange atmosphere. The children seemed to notice the tension between their parents and went upstairs immediately after C-Jay left. Apparently, he had gone with the laughter and jokes that had been livening up the house.

Violet went upstairs to freshen up. Walking around the house still dressed in the clothes she’d worn throughout the day and the make-up on her face made her feel extremely irritable. Or was it because of Oyim? She hummed to herself as she scrubbed her body. It calmed her, the act of bathing. She took her time to scrub every single part of her body, her hands running through her curves, skipping the newly formed mound on her stomach, resting shortly on the sensitive skin between her legs. I’m enough for myself, she muttered to herself as the water from the shower nozzle rinsed out the foam on her body. It boosted her energy, gave her the strength she would need for what was coming later. She was filled with trepidation, yet her toes tingled in anticipation. She was guilty of nothing. Yes, she had thought about it, sometimes she’d fantasized about being with C-Jay. But it was all in her mind. Not in one day did she ever think of making those fantasies come to life, but Oyim? 

She turned off the shower and reached for her towel, wrapping it around her body. She used a smaller towel to wipe off excess water from her legs and arms then walked out of the bathroom. She halted with a start when she saw Oyim in the room, sitting on the bed and looking at his phone. She shook herself and went to sit in front of the dresser to go through her nightly routines. It would be a long night, she thought as she massaged her face cream onto her face.