Ijeoma held her voice as she asked again, “Why? Are…are you still-” She didn’t want to imagine it. The mere thought that something might still be going on between her husband and his stepmother frightened her.

“No, no, baby.” Apham reached for her, pulling her into his arms. “Nothing of that sort. I told you I find her disgusting now. And moreover, with you in my life now, why would I be looking for someone else.”

“Then why won’t you allow her to stay here?” She looked up at him. “You know my relationship with her isn’t that great. I don’t want to worsen it by making her leave our home. She is family too.”

“Should be family,” he corrected. “But she is not. Remember I said I saw her with another man, aside from my father. Do you wonder how many men she has on the side?” Apham’s tone was bitter as he spat out the words.

Ijeoma pulled away from his hold. “You think I don’t know. I suspected that she is here to see one of her men-friends. But you still can’t deny that your father loves her. To him, she is his wife. It would be absolutely rude if we just tell her to leave our home.”

“He doesn’t love her,” Apham admitted quietly. “He doesn’t. He has two girlfriends on the side too. He never had one before my mother’s death. He was faithful to her even until he married Angela, and then everything changed.”

“Oh!” Ijeoma looked at Apham. He was hunched back, probably thinking of his mother. He had been 18 when they lost her to breast cancer. A loss that he had never seemed to get over. “Honey.” She put her hands around him, trying to offer him as much consolation as she could. “It’s alright. If you’re not comfortable with her in the house, we can make her leave. But it’s already late. We can’t make her leave now. Tomorrow, I will offer to take her to a hotel.”

“Don’t worry. I can handle it. You’re not supposed to be running up and down with the baby.” As he spoke, his hand went to the small bulge in her stomach. “Just go to work. I will handle everything.”
Ijeoma seemed concerned as she replied, “Are you sure it’s okay? I mean, not that I don’t trust you but I imagine that she still has something for you. She may do some-”

He placed a finger on her lips. “Babe, trust me. I can handle her. I won’t let her get to me, don’t worry.”

She nodded slowly. “All right. And try to be as polite as possible. We don’t want her spewing to the whole world that her son and his wife are maltreating her,” she said drily.

Apham laughed. “Okay, but if she doesn’t agree to leave, if I have to, I will bundle her out. I can’t stand to see her near you or in this house. She soils it.”

Ijeoma reached for the black leather that she had dropped on the dresser when she entered the room. “What are you going to have for dinner. I’ve lost appetite for food now.”

Apham continued undressing, his hands went to his belt. “Don’t stress yourself. I will go down and serve myself.”

Ijeoma frowned. “I’m pregnant, not decapitated. Take your bath, I will get your food ready.”

Apham smiled as he pecked her forehead and went into the bathroom. Ijeoma picked up the clothes that he had thrown on the bed and tossed it into the laundry basket behind the door before she left the room to the kitchen.

The next morning, Apham remained in his room until Ijeoma left for work. He was already dressed to go to work, but he called his assistant to let her know that he would be coming in late to the office. He went out of the room, down the stairs, and was relieved when he heard the sound of the television coming from the living room. At least she was not in her room, he mused. It would have made his task even more difficult. He had a cold expression on his face as he marched into the parlor. Angela was splayed on the couch. The shirt she wore barely covered her legs, riding up to reveal that she was not wearing any underwear. Apham quickly pulled his eyes away.

He cleared his throat. “Mom.”

Angela looked up with a smile. “Luke dear, good morning.” She sat up. For which Apham was grateful for. He avoided her body, keeping his eyes solely on her face.

“I’m sorry mom, but…” Apham’s voice broke off. Angela’s hands were suddenly at the bottom of her shirt. Soon, they were pulling it up. He turned immediately, but the sound of her actions was painfully loud. “Please put on your cloth ma,” he said with a threatening tone. He was glad to know that he was no longer affected by her body. Yes, he was a man, but there was a constant reminder at the back of his mind, the face of his wife and his father. He was no longer the hot-blooded youth that was interested in anything female and walking.

“Honey,” her voice was laced with seduction. “Come on, your wife is not around. She wouldn’t know about this, I promise.” He heard her coming up behind him, smelt her perfume, felt her warmth.

With a strangled sound, he fled the living room as though he was walking on hot coal. In a few minutes, he was zooming out of the house, a curse on his lips. He had expected it to be as simple as saying, “Leave my house.” But Angela was filled with tenacity. She seemed determined to get him back into her bed. As he left, he had heard her calling behind him, “Luke dear, Luke honey.” But his strides had been longer than hers, and she was still naked, he could guess, that was why she didn’t follow him out of the house. The next time, he would do it with Ijeoma, he promised as he slowed his car behind a Toyota. None of them were safe alone with her. With a resolute hum, he pushed thoughts of his father’s wife away from his mind and concentrated on how to navigate the busy traffic. It goes without saying, he would be terribly late for work.