Pere fell on the bed and buried her face in her pillow. Then she felt it again, she picked herself up and dashed to the bathroom. The toilet seat was still up. She thanked God as the puke gushed out of her. She leaned against the bowl, breathing slowly, wondering if she should go to the hospital or just call Mimi to come spend the night or a few days. But she doubted she could drive to the hospital, and Mimi! the last time she called was about a week ago. Her new boyfriend was really taking all of her time. She took a deep breath, this time contemplating crawling to her bed or just laying on the bathroom floor. She went with the latter. That was when she found her phone hiding behind the toilet bowl. Now she wondered how it got there, she had been searching for it all morning. She grabbed it and rubbed it clean on her boubou. 10 missed calls from her mother. Nothing from Mimi, not even a text. She sighed. Since turning 28, her mother only spoke about one thing; her future husband. She had to admit, she could make an effort to date but her business was still young so she barely had time, that's what she told everybody. Honestly, she knew she was just lazy. Most times she didn't think she wanted a family. Her phone rang, interrupting her thoughts. It was her mother. She decided to ignore it. She didn't want to discuss her future husband right now. She started crawling out of the bathroom, heading towards her bed, her phone tucked in between her breasts. She felt really faint and nauseated. She had not managed to keep any food down since the night before. She finally made it to her bed. Her phone rang again. She checked it, her mother. She picked on the fifth ring. Now she was comfortably lying down.
"Hello, mummy", she said scratching her head and hoping the call won't take forever.
"Pere!" her mother shouted. "Are you okay? Where have you been?"
"Mummy, I am fine, just tired. I am at home." She replied
"We were at Governor Benson's party last night, I was calling to tell you all about it and to check on you of course. It was a lovely party, you should have been there" her mother said
"I am glad it was."
Sensing the sarcasm, she continued "You should learn to appreciate gatherings like that, you don't know who you could meet, a business partner, contacts, a husband."
Pere laughed. She was going to have this conversation after all. Her mother wanted her to marry a public figure like herself. Her father spent years as a governor, torn between trying to please a bunch of people who will never appreciate his efforts, but will continue to elect him and sucking up to the godfathers of politics. He eventually made his way to the position of a vice president. She was truly happy for him, but she just wanted normal and quiet.
"I hope you are not cancelling on dinner this Friday at the house. Your father was not happy when you didn't show up last week. Besides, we have a surprise for you."
"Please tell me it is not a surprise wedding", she joked.
Her mother laughed loudly. "No!" she answered. "I think I have found the one for you."
"Oh mummy, not again. Who is it this time? Another governor's son?"
"No! I admit, some of the men we have introduced to you haven’t been very mature. This man is a young senator. Such a handsome man and very mature. Your father is very impressed with him and his work. We got an opportunity to really talk to him last night at the party. He has a business background, you could learn a lot from him.”
"A young senator? Who?! Mummy, just tell me" said Pere impatiently. She knew she would give in.
"Okay! Her mother replied, very excited to give it away. "Senator Taye Robert"
Pere didn't remember anything her mother said after that. The name played around in her head. Her stomach rumbled, she wanted to vomit but she doubted there was anything left to throw up. She couldn't cry. She longed for Mimi.
"Lord, please tell me this is a very sick joke", she prayed holding her stomach so tight hoping she could choke the fetus to death.
9 WEEKS EARLIER
Pere was hoping for a great day when she took a seat in her office that morning. She was excited about opening her second supermarket, she hoped her mother will make it for the opening. She chose Paris the last time. Her splendid day was interrupted by the knock on her door.
"Come in!" she yelled.
"It was about time she got a secretary", she thought to herself.
The door opened and Senator Taye walked in.
"Not again." she said dropping the pen she was holding.
Taye smiled. "Always lovely to see you."
"Three consecutive days, what is it this time?"
Senator Robert took a seat across her. His bodyguard stood by the door. He was a cute fellow, she wondered if this was the life he always wanted, guarding a man who loves himself more than anything in the world.
"I want to take you to dinner." Taye said. "Just to apologize for all the trouble I have caused you especially the incident at the Entrepreneurship conference soiree." he continued
"You told everyone there I was your fiancee, is that supposed to make me feel good? You keep coming here, everyone is going to think it is true. Taye, you have girls at your beck and call, you don't have to force a relationship with me. And by the way, calling me your fiancee doesn't automatically make me your fiancee."
She watched him smile to himself. She wanted to slap him, but one look at his bodyguard and she knew she might lose her teeth before she even got to him. She wondered the kind of jobs he did for Taye, had he killed anyone yet? Oh! the secrets he must have heard. He could sell them to magazines, make millions and would no longer need to stand behind him.
"Everybody calls me Senator Robert, but you insist on calling me Taye." he said
"Taye is your name, isn't it?" she asked trying to study the paper in front of her. He smiled again. She knew him as Taye before he became a Senator, she had no idea why it bothered him now. She continued to try studying the paper.
"Look, I won't be here if I didn't care for you. I have met many girls because of my position, some even more beautiful than you, but I don't want them, I want you." Pere wondered if he truly cared, if he was the one. She thought about Paul her secret admirer when she worked at the bank, maybe she should have given him a chance, maybe she would be with him today then she wouldn't be here listening to this man tell her lies, again. Did she like the attention she got from him, she hoped not, maybe she did, she wasn't sure. What would happen if he went away? Would she miss him? She looked at him, there was a 10 year difference between them, he suddenly seemed like someone from another planet. Mimi thought he was worth a shot. She didn't, she didn't want her mother's life. She wasn't ready to be his trophy.
"Can we start again?." He continued. "I want to start all over, you know, be a gentleman. So can I take you to dinner, please? If you still hate me after this then I promise, I will walk away."
"Walk away now." she thought. "Why does he want to treat her to dinner?" She didn't believe him but part of her thought maybe this would definitely be the last time. She needed a second opinion, but she already knew what Mimi would say.
"Okay fine." She found herself saying. She wanted him gone.
Taye seemed elated. "But!" she continued. His smile turned to a frown. "You have to sign here," she produced a white paper with the words "I PROMISE TO LEAVE PERE ALONE AFTER TONIGHT."
"You want me to sign that." He eyed her. She had obviously insulted him. "We were supposed to have dinner first before you made this decision."
"I am not going anywhere with you till you sign this. And I know one dinner date with you is not going to make me fall in love with you. So what is it going to be?" She handed him the pen she was holding.
Taye reluctantly took the pen and scribbled something on the paper. “You loved me once.”
"What restaurant?" She asked ignoring him.
"I will pick you up from here at 6pm."
"I finish work at 8pm."
"I will pick you at 8 then."
"I am capable of driving myself there."
"Pere! Please just allow me to do this." Taye said almost yelling.
She got up and walked to door suddenly feeling bold but wondering if this could be the night she falls in love, again. She almost gagged at the thought. She hoped not. She opened it, and folded her hands. She didn't have to tell him what that meant, he had to leave.
Her heart was beating fast, she couldn't wait for this to be over. She was waiting outside her office. She wanted him to be late, she wanted a reason to hate him just a bit more. A jeep pulled up in front of her. He jumped out from the driver's seat and walked towards her. He drove himself, she couldn't believe it. He could use his hands and feet and he was on time. She grieved within herself, praying the night won't go well. Dinner was nice. The restaurant was one of the best in town, they had a quiet spot to themselves. She hated him more for trying to make the night perfect, so she just ate and totally ignored him. She didn't want to laugh at his jokes, or smile at him. The drive back home was quiet. He thanked her for accepting to have dinner with him even though he had to sign a contract. Then he started to air his feelings for her again, belittling her in between and comparing her to his mother saying why she should be lucky that he cared for her. He told her he would take good care of her and make her happy. She tried her hardest not to say anything. Then he said:
"A man of my calibre is not supposed to even beg you, but I am humbling myself because of how I feel. I wouldn't do this for anybody, not even my friends." She was about to open her mouth and yell at him but she felt dizzy, she leaned into the car seat.
THE NEXT MORNING
Pere woke up with a bad headache. She sat up in the bed and buried her face in her palms. She felt a sudden rush and she jerked. It all came back. She took in her surroundings. She was wearing only his shirt, the shirt he wore to dinner and her briefs. She was in his house. He was not lying next to her. She tried to remember what happened. Her clothes and bag were neatly placed on the armchair next to the bed. She froze for a minute. She yelled his name a few times but there was no answer. "Did he send the maids away too?" she thought. “He must have maids.” She got up and undressed quickly. She would need to scrub herself clean. She didn't even want imagine the look he must have had on his face when he undressed her. She put her clothes on, grabbed her bag and started to find her way out of the house. In the taxi home, she started to cry, she couldn't remember anything. The driver got concerned at the sight of her tears but decided to stay out of it. Her phone buzzed. She pulled it out of her bag. It was a text from Taye. She held her breath. It read, "HAD TO LEAVE EARLY FOR AN IMPROMPTU MEETING, THANK YOU FOR LAST NIGHT :-)"
"Thank you?" she thought.
PRESENT: Friday evening
Pere was lying in bed about to fall asleep when the door bell rang. She groaned loudly into her pillow. She knew it wasn't Mimi, because her mother was in town.
"Who is it now?" she mumbled as got up to answer the door.
"Hello, sweetie." her mother said as soon as the door opened. "I came to take you to dinner, why aren't you ready?" She asked noticing the t-shirt and the wrapper around her waist.
"Mummy, do I have to be there? I am not feeling too well."
Her mother eyed her, "Pere, go and change, you are coming with me to that dinner even if I have to pull you by your hair."
"But, I have been sick all week and I still had to work with all the preparation for the new store. I just want to sleep. I will come for breakfast tomorrow morning, I promise."
"Why not pack a weekend bag and come to the house? I can take care of you there. And don't think I don't know that you are trying to avoid seeing your surprise guest. By the way, you have to act surprised when you see him, I don't want your dad to know I told you."
Pere laughed to herself, she was pretty sure her dad knew who he married. Her mother had now taken a seat.
"Pere! I have all night to wait for you. If I go without you, your father will kill me, so I really don’t mind moving in.”
Pere dragged herself to her room to change. She grabbed an oversized shirt from a hanger and the jeans from the armchair, threw it on the bed and started to undress. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, she was happy her bump wasn't showing yet. She took a deep breath, wondering what her parents would say if they found out. She cringed when she remembered Taye was the surprise guest. She imagined shoving his face into a pot of hot pepper soup, she hoped the chef made pepper soup, she liked his pepper soup.
"Pere!" her mother shouted from the sitting room. "I am still waiting and your father just called. Your guest will be there in 20 minutes. Hurry up."
Her mother couldn't hide her disapproval when Pere joined her.
"I see you like disgracing me. "
"What are you wearing?" she asked
"Clothes." Pere answered grabbing her mother's handbag and making her way to the door.
"Pere, you do realise your father is the vice president of this country, we are going to have a senator who could be your potential husband in our midst and you are wearing jeans and an oversized shirt.” She said eyeing her. “And flats!" She shouted noticing the shoes on her feet.
"Seriously, where did you come from?"
"Do you want me there or not?"
AFTER THE DINNER
Pere took her wine glass of water and walked to the balcony. She was furious because her parents were falling for Taye's charm. The one she almost fell for when she first met him. They didn't know he was the devil. She was about to dial Mimi when Taye walked in.
"Are you leaving?" she asked.
"No." He laughed. "Your parents are delightful. It's really an honour to be here in the vice president's home."
"You do know you are talking to me not my parents. You don't have to act like an angel."
He laughed again. "I see, you still haven't let that night go. I have told you I didn't do anything to you. The only thing I am guilty of is undressing you. I already apologized for that, besides, I have seen them before.”
"Then, how did I end up pregnant?" She asked looking around for her parents. “And that was 10 years ago.”
"We have fought this for months, the police found nothing. You just sound crazy.”
"You think I don't know that you've probably paid everyone to keep quiet."
"Like you didn't pay the DPO to keep it from your dad. Why haven't you told him anyways?"
She was about to speak but she stopped. "Why haven't I told him?" she thought. She started to walk out, she could feel the tears coming, Taye stopped her.
"You know I am still interested in us, there used to be an us and it was beautiful. I am ready to accept that child as mine. I am glad you are not getting rid of it, you will make a great mother."
Pere shook herself free, "What are you talking about? There was never an us, we only had sex, that should never have happened and that doesn’t constitute a relationship.”
“Why? Because I left for the States immediately after. I already apologised for that as well.”
“God! I could kill you.” She groaned
Taye smiled to himself.
Pere looked at him. She cringed at the thought that she loved him once, she let him take her innocence. She trusted him to be there for her. How could she be so stupid? “Taye, I need to go lie down. I am tired."
“Would it kill you to call me Senator?” He asked as he watched her walking away.
“Yes, Taye! It will.”
Her mother joined her as she walked to her room. "So are you spending the night? Your father has arranged for the doctor to be here in the morning." she said.
"Yes, ma." She replied wishing she would just go away so she could plan her escape before the doctor arrived in the morning.
"So you didn't tell me Senator Taye’s father owned the secondary school you went to?.”
“Didn’t think it was necessary.” Pere said opening the door.
“Well, you should have said something and I don’t like the way you spoke to him at the table. However, I think he handled you pretty well, I think he might be the solution to your hot head." Her mother said joining her on the bed.
Pere sighed. “I wasn’t trying to disrespect you and dad, I’m sorry.” She said hoping that would end the conversation for the night. But she noticed her mother staring at her, from the corner of her eye.
"Pere, I am slightly worried." She said.
"What? Why are you worried?"
"I am worried about you. I have been watching you all night." She took a deep breath. "Pere, are you pregnant?"
Pere was speechless. She had forgotten how observant her mother could be when she chose to. She wondered if she should tell her how it happened. She had hoped to travel out of the country just after the store opened. But she can’t hide a baby forever.
"Yes." She replied.
"And do you know who the father is?”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were seeing someone?” Her mother asked. “We wouldn’t have been bothering you with potential suitors. Who is he?”
“Senator Taye” She said slowly, almost whispering. "Damn it!" She thought. "Now I have to marry the dude." She buried her face in her hands. Maybe she still loved him after all. Maybe that’s why she never took the case to her father. She was still in love with the man that broke her heart and might have raped her. She sobbed. She wasn’t proud of her choice. But how could she after all he had done?
“Who?” Her mother asked.
There was knock on the door. Taye opened it.
"I just wanted to say I was leaving." They both told him good-night.
Senator Taye smiled to himself as he walked to the sitting room to thank the vice president for a wonderful evening and said good-bye. He was getting into his car when his phone rang.
"Hello." he said
"How did it go?"
"Great! My in-laws are lovely."
"So it worked?"
"The seed has definitely been planted. Pere and the Governor’s seat are as good as mine.”