Lilian felt self-conscious as the older man fixed his eyes on her. While she didn’t have interest in older men, the man had this aura around him that felt as though it was reaching out to her, calling at her to get entangled in its wisps. She shook the thoughts away and stretched out a hand with a too-bright smile.
“Good evening sir,” she greeted. He took her hand and clasped it in his large, warm one. He didn’t let go immediately.
“She is my nurse. She has been taking care of me since I was in the hospital,” Ijeoma put in.
“A nurse hmm?” he said and looked at her from head to toe again. Lilian was beginning to feel flustered by the attention the old man was giving her. “A young and pretty one at that.” He flashed her a smile and released her hand.
With her hand back, she tucked it into the pocket of the jacket that she was wearing. Was the old man interested in her? She wondered eyeing him as he listened to Ijeoma narrate how well she had taken care of her when she was in the hospital.
“Well, it seems we have another addition to the family,” the man said when Ijeoma finished talking.
The three of them looked to him in surprise. “Dad?” Apham asked.
“You were not going to remain my only child, were you?” He feigned a stern look at him. “I mean, she is welcome here. And while she is here, we will treat her like a guest of the house and not some nurse. Or do you have any other options? Because you know I don’t allow maids or anyone of that sort to live in my house.” He raised his eyebrows at the couple.
“No, no, its not like that, daddy. She is also here as my guest. Of course, we wouldn’t treat her any less,” Ijeoma agreed, nudging at Apham. He nodded as well.
“Now, that is how it should be. Let’s go in. I’ve left you all standing out for too long.” Like a mother hen, he shuffled all of them into the house.
Lilian kept herself from gawking at the house—high pale blue walls, so high that even on her tiptoes, she barely came up to the middle of the wall. Dark brown tiles glowed under her feet. She wondered who cleaned the house since Mr. Thomas didn’t like to have housemaids living under his roof.
She followed behind the couple. Mr. Apham was discussing about business with his father. His wife clung to his arms as she limped slowly. Lilian made a mental note to check up on the woman later before she went to bed.
“Sweetheart,” a sultry voice came from the stairs. She turned to see where the voice came from. Her eyes widened. She shook her head slowly, No, no it couldn’t be her. She watched as the woman elegantly placed one leg in front of the other as she came down the stairs. That face, with that same smile, she would never forget it. She was dressed in a wide, long green gown that did little to hide her voluptuous chest and round hips. It was her indeed. How had she gone from Lagos to Abuja, and under her patient’s roof?
“Are you okay?” Ijeoma frowned at her. “I know she is fine, but you don’t have to show it on your face.” Her voice was bitter.
“No!” Lilian shook her head. “It’s not like that. It’s just that she looks familiar. I think I’ve seen her somewhere in Lagos.”
“With a man beside her, I guess,” Ijeoma said drily.
She already turned back to her husband, not waiting for a reply from Lilian. Lilian looked at the woman again, and as Ijeoma had said it, the woman had been with a man on her hand, not any other man but her father. She shook the thoughts away as Mr. Thomas allowed the woman to kiss his cheeks.
“Oh, Luke and his wife are here.” She peered at the couple, her eyes filled with distaste. “Honey, why didn’t you tell me that they were coming today? I heard Ijeoma had an accident.” She turned to Ijeoma, “Darling, are you okay? Is it safe for you to trav-”
“I’m fine,” Ijeoma gritted. The false concern was getting on her nerves. Seeing the cause of her current problems was making her headache.
“Ma, are you okay?” Lilian had noticed the look in Ijeoma’s eyes.
“I’m fine,” Ijeoma breathed out. Apham took her in his arms and asked the same question, before she replied, Mr. Thomas cut in, “Apham, take your wife to your room and show the nurse to her room.”
“Okay,” Apham was more than happy to oblige. Anything to get away from the presence of Angela. He took Ijeoma into his hands despite her protests. Turning to Lilian, he grunted, “Follow me.” And started taking long strides towards the staircase.
“Thank you, sir,” she murmured to Mr. Thomas and hurried after them. In the brief moment she passed beside Angela, she was tempted to slap the woman but out of respect for her hosts, she hurried away.
Lilian moaned as her body hit the bed. Heaven. It was almost midnight. After Apham had taken his wife to her room, she had begun complaining of a pounding headache. It had taken a while before she had been able to calm her down and get her to sleep. The whole journey had been hard on the woman and she suspected that seeing Angela worsened her condition, mentally and physically.
“Angela,” she called out the name in the darkness. Her last memory of the woman was over six years ago, but her face was fresh, her face would always be fresh. She didn’t destroy her family. Lilian’s family had long been destroyed before she even came into the picture. She was one of the many girlfriends her father took after he’d left their house, one of the girlfriends that he promised heaven and earth, but even a piece of gold, they never got from the stingy man.
Just as she was about to go back in time, her eyes grew so heavy that they could barely carry her through all those years when her father was still alive. As she dozed off, she wondered briefly if Angela was the cause of her patient’s trouble. If that was the case, then what kind of drama had she gotten involved in?