The Church Scandal
Nduke closed her eyes against the memory that was trying to flash in her thoughts.
Inibehe could feel a swell of passion as clearly as it were happening right now. The lush roundness of her breasts when he’d unbuttoned her dress and pushed up her bra. The heady reaction to his mouth on her tender skin. She’d been so wild. A match to tinder of his desire. Maybe if he hasn’t taken Laurel’s brandy…
He’d wanted her for so long.
He succumbed to primitive urges and claimed her innocence.
He inhaled, surprised to find himself in her body. He couldn’t remember anything after that stunning shock and the incredible, mind blowing pleasure of his own release. He had no idea how he had his bath and wore back his pyjamas.
There was a memory hunting Nduke’s mind all along, while he was making love to her. It was a flash back of the bittered rape experience she had with her foster father when she was still a teenager. He’d molested her over and over again. Until one day, she became suicidal and wanted to kill herself. It was her deepest secret.
Her foster father died in a sosoliso plane crash, his death gave her joy. But she’d thought of her foster mother Irene, who loved her husband so much. He was a pastor, and no one would have believed her if she’d reported that the man who stands on the pulpit every Sunday morning to preach about the lord was her worse nightmare.
Guiltiness hit her like a thorn in her heart. She began to sob softly at the chapel podium. She’d wondered why she had to make love to Inibehe; Despite the sweet, beautiful passion it came with, it reminded her of a sad memory she’d been struggling to let go.
Inibehe had awakened hours later, alone and cramped on his bed. If it hadn’t been for the lingering scent and taste of her, he would have told himself he dreamed the entire scene.
Guilt had been his harsh companion driving through his room that morning.
If he lived to be a million he would never forget the love making he had with Nduke.
Making love to Nduke had hunted him for years, and he felt fulfilled for doing so.
Few days to his graduation ceremony, and his heart trembled again. His graduation was something that he would have been happy for, but he’d wanted it to be prolonged for his own reasons.
A day to the graduation day, Inibehe’s father called that morning. His phone rang several times, but he didn’t pick the call. He kept staring at his father’s name appear on the screen. His mother’s words replayed in his head like a recording.
He reluctantly picked his Father’s call, after he’d missed like seven of it.
“Inibehe Okoko, I have been calling you.”
His father said boldly.
“I have been busy.” He said casually.
“Your sister, your brother and his wife are on their way to London for your graduation. Your mother will be so proud of you in heaven. Your wedding date has been fixed. We are just waiting for your arrival. I am proud of you my son.” His father said excitedly.
“Thank you.” Inibehe said abruptly and hung the call without hearing what his father will say next.
He wanted to talk to Nduke, he wanted to tell her of his father’s plans for him and how he detests them all.
He strolled out of his room to Nduke’s hostel, and when he got to her frontage, his heart blew a cut.
His hands shook when he was about to knock the door.
Nduke’s school daughter, Serena was ironing Nduke’s graduation gown excitedly. She was white, but almost looked like Nduke. “You’re not gonna leave for Nigeria soon right?” Serena asked Nduke.
“I don’t know yet.” Nduke replied softly.
The door suddenly clicked open, and when they saw that it was Inibehe, there were bright smiles on their faces.
“Pastor Nibe.” Serena called out excitedly.
Inibehe gave a soft smile and said “I call ya name ‘Serena’ I pronounce it fluently. what happens to mine?” They all gave a loud laugh as he fell on the bed.
Moments later, Inibehe said to Nduke “Can we talk at my place?”
“Is everything fine?” Nduke asked, Inibehe nodded.
They held hands together and strolled back to his apartment.
When he got into his room, she sat on the chair, while he knelt down before her.
“Something is wrong my love. I need you. I want you. I have always wished to spend the rest of my life with you, and I still do.”
She offered him a friendly nod. She probably thought he was renewing his vows and love for her.
Inibehe paused for a long moment and then said, “My father wants me to marry my mother’s god daughter. It was my mother’s wish too. It was what she said before she died. It matters so much to her.”
“So?” Nduke asked almost in a broken whisper.
“The wedding date has been fixed. I never knew.” he said bitterly.
But Nduke’s heart had fallen. Her eyes were soaked with tears instantly. It was as if she knew that he was going to say these things to her and she was prepared for it.
The Church Scandal
Nduke sat there in silence for a long time. She could not believe her ears. Her boyfriend of four years was getting married to someone else, just like that? Questions without answers had tormented her all the while. Her stomach plummeted. She became uncomfortable in his presence. She didn’t want him to see her cry.
” So this was no rumour, it was true.” She muttered and then turned to him “And if you don’t marry her, what is gonna happen?” She finally asked the question that was in her mind.
“Everything will go wrong. But I am not gonna leave you. You will always be my love. what’s on my head is difficult. I can’t really say. I wish I can just vanish with just you.” Inibehe said tearily.
“You’re not a baby!” She yelled.
“You won’t understand what this will mean to my mother.” He retorted.
Nduke was frustrated, it was written all over her face. Inibehe noticed it and held her hands. But she pushed him away and stood to walk away.
“Don’t ever talk to me again.” She said with a painful tone and tried to walk away. But Inibehe held her tight. “I am never gonna leave you, I just want you to be with me till I can handle this.”
“Till when you’ve married her? A wedding date has been fixed for the both of you! lie to me again, deceive me! tell me you have not got your wedding suit ready! lie to me!” She said tearily and pushed him off and walked out of the room.
When she knew that Inibehe was following her behind, she began to strode and then run. He ran after her.
“I beg you in the name of God, just wait!” Inibehe said aloud. But she didn’t turn, she kept running. He ran after her as fast as he could and held her backwardly.
“You’re my life! you’re everything to me. I love you just like Christ loves the church!”
Inibehe said thoughtfully.
“Leave me alone!” she screamed tearily.
But he kept holding her even firmer to his body until he thought she’d given up. He turned her face to his and began to kiss her, she responded after few moments and then slapped his face. “Get off me!” She pushed him away and ran off.
He was weak and tired. He couldn’t run after her anymore. But he walked gently to her hostel. When she knew he was right in front of the house, she locked the door. He sat there begging till midnight. He became cold and walked back slowly to his apartment.
The morning of the graduation came, and Inibehe could not still believe he was leaving London for Nigeria.
The news of his wedding to Uduak was announced that morning at the chapel, just after morning devotion. They entire school applauded thunderously and screamed excitedly as they heard of the wedding of their proprietor’s son.
Serena’s heart trembled. She turned to see Nduke and saw her walking out of the chapel.
She ran after her and said, “I am sorry this hurts.” She said shrilly.
“He loves you. I saw it in his eyes when the wedding was announced in there.”
“Go back to the chapel.” Nduke said calmly.
The graduation time was set. There was music, drama presentation and farewell speeches.
Just after Inibehe got his congratulatory letter from the reverend, his brother appeared with his sister, his wife and Uduak. His heart trembled. His father didn’t tell him that Uduak was going to be in London too.
Uduak ran toward him and hugged him excitedly. Inibehe’s eyes caught Nduke stare at him with pains in her own eyes. He looked guilty as sin.
Fury washed away Nduke as pastor Mfon gave congratulatory message, representing his father the bishop.
The graduation was not exciting for Nduke, her foster mom, lady Irene had called to congratulate her, but didn’t have enough money to attend her graduation in London.
After the congratulatory message by Pastor Mfon, he announced again of his brother’s wedding to Uduak, and even went ahead to introduce Uduak as Inibehe’s fiancé.
Nduke became strong and bold. She managed a glare, hoping he couldn’t hear the way her heart was trying to pound its way free of her chest.
The Church Scandal
On the night of the graduation, Just after the ordination, a gospel party was thrown at the school auditorium for the graduates.
Uduak, Mfon, Inibehe and Eno were seated on the same table. They had a sip of the heavens wine over again, until it finished and they demanded for another one.
“This doesn’t taste like the Nigerian table wine.” Eno said to Mfon.
“Of course not. My daddy used to buy a lot of this when he visited here.” Uduak said.
Eno stared at her meanly and said, “I wasn’t talking to you. I am talking to my husband.”
Mfon was already tired of trying to stop the bicker between his wife and Uduak, he just gave a loud sigh and shook his head.
Inibehe was searching for Nduke with his eyes in the crowd.
When he finally caught a glimpse of her in the crowd trying to walk herself out of the door, he got up and followed her.
She went to have a sip of the dark rum she’d used in baking her birthday cake.
She gulped down the last sip of it and threw the bottle on the sandy floor. He was right behind her, but she wasn’t aware. A sudden cold wind gusted on her. She held herself together and strolled toward the school beach side. It was lonely and cold, but the dark rum kept her warm.
She couldn’t think of anything else but Inibehe, the picture of him appeared in her head.
She stared at the waters, the way it unfold itself and scattered into the sands, running toward her. She was not aware that Inibehe was right behind him.
“Nduke….” He called out her name so gently she felt an inexplicable need to cry. She knew it was him, the sound of his voice skipped her heart. He looked like a man ready for a confrontation.
“I won’t let you go, I promise. Don’t be sad.”
His voice ran like a caress over nerves stretched too tight. She fought an urge to throw herself into his arms.
“There’s a storm coming in, you have to stand with me. You have to stand with me in this storm, because there will be no umbrella.”
He hugged her backwardly, her scented body lotion thrilled the moment.
Her hand lifted to stop him, but he held them tight and began to kiss her again.
Inibehe knew it might be the last time he was going to kiss her that way, so he kissed her even deeper and more passionately that she felt the impact when he released her lips and took it back like he was never going to let it go.
As they sank into the white sand by the beach side, She told herself that she was going to forsake her ego and be with the love of her life. His presence still managed to take a lot of hurts and sad feelings away at the moment.
He cried when she took his hands to her chest. “Make love to me for the last time.” She said. He flashed her grin and her heart stood still. How was it possible to feel so enervated, yet so completely aware all at that same time?
“I won’t make love to you. Let’s get married here and now.”
“How? No pastor to bless us.”
“We are pastors, we were ordained today. God is here already. Let’s make vows. look…” He brought out a necklace that had a picture of him inside a tiny frame. And showed her the one that had a picture of her inside a closed tiny frame too.
Ridiculous tears stung her eyes.
Inibehe hung the necklace that had his picture on it on her neck. It was gold necklace with a diamond pendant of their faces in it. He took her hands and cut her fingers with a tiny blade.
“Ouch!” She exclaimed painfully. He licked the blood in her hands without seeking for her permission. He then cut his hands with the blade and she licked his blood too without hesitation.
“I will love you forever.” He said with so much passion.
“I will love you forever too.” He withdrew his hand slowly, trailing it over her skin. It began to rain softly, and then wind driven rain began to beat them. He began to giggle, while she laughed. But there were still sadness in her eyes.
“I can’t believe I did this.” He said. “I just wanna prove to you that I can’t ever love someone else.” He said, staring at her as if he were trying to see past her words, to read her thoughts.
They didn’t make love. He couldn’t just do it. He felt he was taking advantage of her body simply because she would let him.
They hugged themselves in the rain until the icy cold ran through their spines.
He’d dreamed about her, her remarkable eyes, but he’d only pictured them filled with sadness that nearly matched his own.
The Church Scandal
He woke up in the middle of the night and thought of Nduke. He knew she wasn’t sleeping too. In the instant, he took his mind to the beach side, where they’d been few hours ago.
When he noticed that someone was sitting by the bed, he turned to see who it was. It was Uduak. She’d left the room she was given at the guest quarters to come stay with him. She was reading a bible. Inibehe was amazed when he saw her.
“What are you doing here?” He asked, and sat up slowly.
“You left us at the party and didn’t tell me where you were going, that was disrespectful. You walked in here drained in the rain. I saw you from the quarters.” Uduak said softly.
“You have no right to be in my room simply because you and I are getting married. Get out!” He yelled at her.
“I didn’t come here to inconvenience you, I came for us to pray together for our upcoming wedding.”
“I do not have what to tell the lord about the wedding. If you have what to say to him, do it. But not here. The school chapel isn’t far from here, go there.” He pointed to the door.
He watched her face change to a confused state.
Uduak reached for her umbrella and stood to walk out.
“May the lord forgive you for disrespecting his princess. No man has ever done that.” she said girlishly.
“Get out of my room. Proud brat!”
“I am proud to be the Lord’s child.”
Uduak walked out of the room without looking back. She was proud, arrogant but gentle. The brothers in church called her ‘the holy bitch’.
Being the only daughter of the most popular ash bishop Ebebe Ekpeyong gave her the power and authority to dare and command. She was privileged and could walk away with a lot of misconducts without being asked questions. The only man she was going to bow to was Inibehe, but he was not ready to accept her humility.
She was shaking as she walked in the rain back to the guest quarters.
Inibehe could not sleep anymore. He took his rain coat and took a stroll to Nduke’s hostel.
He knocked on the door just once, and it clicked open immediately. It was like she was expecting him. Her eyes were filled with tears.
Inibehe sensed there was more going on in her heart; The pains of separation.
She hugged him tight.
“My flight is 9am in the morning.” Inibehe broke the silence.
Panic edged her voice up an octave. She was shaking and he had to grip her arm to prevent her from getting out of his arms.
Her eyes were wet and wide, dark orbs.
“You’re still getting married to her?” She broke out in tears. The smell of alcohol flew out from her mouth. She was Obviously shaken.
Inibehe was mute. He couldn’t say anything to her anymore. A horrible thought skated through her mind. She pushed him off and walked to her bed.
“I should have known you were not meant for me before I made that odd with you. You’re getting married to someone else. ”
A loud rumble of thunder made her scared, like she was going crazy.
She began to year her clothes apart, then her brassiere, and then her panties. “Make love to me for the last time!” She said softly.
Lightning flared, making her freckles stand against her pale face.
“We can’t do this anymore.” He whispered.
“Do it now!” She yelled at him. He became embarrassed. He began to unbutton his shirts, while she rushed to his lips.
The rain showed no sign of slackening.
frustration hammered at him, matching the rhythm of the rain.
They made love staring at each other’s eyes. He had noticed the sadness in her face again, and he wished he could kiss them away. The room was as silent as a tomb, only the sounds of their moans was heard for a long time.
As the sky lit again, he knew it was time to leave London.
Uduak and his sister rolled his luggage and to the car, while his elder brother pastor Mfon waited in the car for him. He walked reluctantly toward the car, while he stared at Nduke’s hostel from afar. His heart was broken and he couldn’t imagine how Nduke felt.
Arriving Nigeria was not a thing of Joy for him.
The bishop and his entourage had waited patiently for them to arrive, and when they finally did, he’d welcome his children with a delightful heart.
“We have to pay a visit to Prophet Nathaniel Edem my mentor, he just returned from the U.S yesterday, and he would like to meet you and your fiancé.” Bishop said to Inibehe, holding his hands in excitement. But he said nothing to his father. They all walked behind him like his escorts, but he led the way to to where the cars were parked.
The Church Scandal
Prophet Nathaniel’s edifice was as big as Bishop Cosmos’ edifice. They were both influential and wealthy men but one person submitted to the other.
Bishop Cosmos took Nathaniel as an earthly god. His prophesies were real because he believed he heard directly from God.
“My father…” The bishop greeted the prophet, almost prostrating, just as he walked into his large sitting room with Inibehe and Uduak. He was seated on a royal stool that looked like a throne. He had grey hairs and grey beards. Pastor Nathaniel was a fine old man in his mid seventies with an umber toned skin.
“Bishop Cosmos, welcome to my home. Have a seat please.” He said softly.
It was only Uduak and Inibehe who followed him behind, the rest of them were seated in the car.
“What do I hold this visit Bishop?”
Prophet Nathaniel asked.
“My second son Inibehe just graduated from Missionary school, he will be getting married in a month time.”
prophet Nathaniel shook his head as he listened and watched the bishop introduce his son and Uduak.
The Prophet stared at Inibehe for a long time like someone was whispering words to his ears about Inibehe.
“But his soul is already tied to someone else. I am seeing a strong bond with another woman.” He said.
The bishop glared at Inibehe and took away his eyes immediately. He was upset, it wasn’t what he wanted to hear.
Uduak’s face turned red, She sagged suddenly with terror. She was embarrassed. She put her face down.
“What bond man of God?” The bishop asked in a confused state.
“He knows what I’m talking about. He is already married to someone else. I am seeing it in the spiritual realm.” The prophet said and then turned to the bishop.
“Why did you send him to the missionary school? He is not suppose to be there. I warned you when he was seventeen, but you still took him there.”
“My wife insisted.” Bishop retorted.
“I am not seeing a pastor in him Cosmos. There will be problem, serious problem at where he will serve. This woman right here, is not his.”
“God forbid.” Uduak said clapping her hands away.
The prophet turned to her and said, “He is not yours. He is someone else’s soul mate.”
“So what can we do to make things right? I want him to marry her and take over one of the churches.” The bishop said, he was looking bothered.
“Let me get my anointing oil and wish them good luck. The message God sent to me is what I passed across.” He said boldly and walked away, then appeared with a bottle of anointing oil. Inibehe, Uduak and the bishop knelt before him, he placed the olive oil on their forehead and began to mutter words of prayers..
“God change things around…”
Inibehe’s mind had traveled far to London. He became restless as the prayer was going on. Uduak hung her hands across his shoulder as the prayer was going on. She’d expected him to take it off as usual, but he didn’t. He knelt there with her hands on his shoulder.
“Oh God, thank you…” She whispered.
After such a long prayer, Inibehe had thought his love for Nduke was going to reduce and his likeness for Uduak was going to increase. But nothing changed.
The prophet handed the anointing oil in a bottle to Uduak.
“Uduak, after your wedding, break this bottle at the entrance to your house and tell God to take away every strange woman and cut off the bond from Inibehe.”
Uduak collected it with a grateful heart. While Inibehe stared at them like it never concerned him.
He wanted to leave there to the house. Find himself a bed, and lie there thinking of his faraway lover.
Uduak will break the olive oil and pray with all strength to the lord, She will tell God to take away the strange woman and break every bond she’d had with her husband.
That night, after Inibehe rested and tried to have dinner, his father talked to him again about the strange woman.
“If there is a woman, let her go. Make your mother proud. Her soul isn’t at rest until you marry Uduak.”
Talking of Lady Valerie’s soul being at rest, Inibehe saw her in his dreams that night; She was wearing the blue rocky pyjamas he’d bought for her on her fiftieth birthday.
“You will grant my heart desires my son and make me rest well.”
Inibehe had wondered why getting married to Uduak meant so much to his late mother.
Nothing changed. He still saw himself thinking of Nduke.
He’d wanted to dial her number that night, but he didn’t.
He removed his Sim card from his phone and began to eat it. He strolled downstairs and handed the phone to his personal driver Faro. “I dash you. Tomorrow you will take me to the nearest slot to get a new phone and a new Sim.” He said boldly, he didn’t wait for Faro to tell him thank you.
He was not himself for a while, until the next morning, where he woke into a new dawn with a mindset that wasn’t approved by his heart. It was his ego. He listened to it more than his heart.
But he didn’t remember the necklace around his neck; It seemed invincible.
Cont in the nxt episode….anticipate