12:43 pm on that Friday afternoon met Jerry on a bench under the mango tree at the poolside of his father’s mansion. He wasn’t always around anyway, as he had his own place were he and Grace put up. However, he had been informed by his mother that there was going to be a family meeting concerning the family business.
He could dodge. Maybe tell a lie or two about being busy or travelling. But he was mostly present for his sister. His parent’s stupid conditions, all in the name of saving face and the family reputation in church, forced his sister into a body swap agreement. There was no way he was going to let them cheat her off her inheritance and rights. Not after all she’s going through.
If it were just him alone, he wouldn’t bother. He didn’t want his parents controlling his actions and so he had since set up two separate businesses which he ran with Grace’s help and some employed hands.
He was the one who convinced Grace to go to business school, especially as she had plans of starting her own company in the future. So he was really amused when she returned from registration the day before to tell him about Phina and Isabella’s encounter.
Ever since he laid eyes on Phina, he had been as attracted to her, like iron to a magnet. She looked like the tough, no-nonsense type. She bared her mind on issues without holding back; an attribute that made him smile, especially when she told Faith to stop acting like a fool and take back her body.
Well, his sister and her friend had decided to be. And although he wasn’t happy with their decision, he had been glad he had someone on his side to talk to. That gladness soon reduced though, as Phina seemed like she didn’t want him anywhere near her.
The few times he had gone to talk to her personally, about not giving up pressuring her cousin, Phina withdrew from him. Her behaviour was mostly that of withdrawal.
Did his body or breath smell so bad? Nope! Were his clothes like that of a mad man’s? No. Did his appearance look fearful? No. Why then did she seem to always pull away from him? He found it very weird and disturbing, especially as he would have loved to be more than just friends with her.
I mean, he admired her, but she scared him. Other times, she just openly hurt his guts. Still, here he was, looking blankly into space with his head filled with pictures of her smile, her nose, lips, medium-sized breasts, and well-curved hips.
He sure used to be attracted to Faith. And that was one of the reasons he didn’t want her body swapping. Now that Faith was in the same house as him, only with his sister in her body, he didn’t think he could commit incest. Besides, God has a way of doing things. If he had won Faith over and even started a relationship with her, it would definitely not be so easy ending things with her. The truth remains, he’d still have cheated on her with Phina; if the tough girl agrees.
He thought about Phina a lot. And since he didn’t think he’d get a chance to woo her, he had decided to get satisfaction from viewing her photos and other crazy posts done by her on Instagram. Surprisingly, with each post, he felt closer to her. But it wasn’t enough. He still needed to touch her, pet her hair, pull her into a loving embrace, kiss her seductive lips passionately, and finally make sweet love to her.
But well, his dreams seemed like they were going to remain just that. Dreams. The woman he loved didn’t give two cents about him. The mere sight of him made her feel disgusted.
Grace had always teased him of being on the phone all day and smiling to only God knows what.
Being a busy businessman didn’t give him free time to goof around. But come what may, he had to see her. He had to talk to her about Isabella. His kid sister was capable of being a solid pain in the neck. But all the same, he knew what actions his parents would take if Isabella, the most obedient and most loved daughter, reported her to them.
At the same time, Jerry wondered the kind of shock his parents would receive if they ever found out their dear obedient daughter was dating a guy from a poor background; a nobody, as they like to call them. But all the same, he wouldn’t be the one to tell. He’d let her do the exposing by herself.
“Jeremiah!” his mother’s voice jolted him back.
Jerry got up from his seat and strolled lazily in her direction. His mother, despite clocking 60 two months back, was a raving beauty. She knew just how to care for herself and carry herself gracefully. A lot of young ladies wouldn’t win a beauty competition with her.
Maybe her beauty and grace were the reasons his father never cheated on her. Perhaps, he couldn’t find any woman out there to compare her with.
“E kaaro, ma” he bowed, before throwing himself in her open arms for an embrace.
“My son. Welcome,” she said in their dialect, “why did you sit outside?”
“Mom, the air is fresh here. I prefer it,” he led her to the bench he had just vacated. The mango trees truly provide good shade and fresh air.
“I understand why you love this spot,” his mother laughed now.
Jerry grinned, “if I have my way, we’ll have the meeting here. Not inside the house.”
“I trust you. Always the opposite of your father.”
“Well, I guess each person to his own,” Jerry winked, “so, I remember you complained about malaria last week. How are you doing now?”
“I would have been very ok if your sister didn’t come home with bruises yesterday.”
“Bruises?” Jerry frowned now. He remembered Grace told him Phina beat up Isabella. But he didn’t expect it was so bad. He knew Phina was a tomboy and he was definitely falling heads over heels in love with her. But if Isabella’s bruises were in any way related to her encounter with Phina, then he was not going to sit back and allow her to kill members of his family all because of her bitterness at Faith’s actions.
“Did you ask her what happened?”
“My dear. She said she went to business school for some information, and to get a few female students to join her soon to launch a female fashion business. She conducted a short interview and picked the best for her business. But one of the girls who wasn’t accepted because she looks like a tomboy got angry and pounced on her. She said it took the intervention of some of the students to free her from the said girl’s grip.”
Jerry sighed. The tomboy is certainly Phina. He was sure. But the story he was hearing was very much different from what Grace, who happens to be an eye witness, said she saw. Grace even laughed at Isabella. So he was sure it was not a serious beating. However, he was also well aware, Isabella had lies in her genes.
“So what are you going to do about this?” He wanted to know. He needed to. This way he’d know how to protect his Instagram girlfriend because now, he was suspecting Isabella could be lying.
“We’re sending the police to that school tomorrow to find that girl.”
“Why?” He frowned, “Isn’t Isabella ashamed that a fellow lady beat her up? Couldn’t she fight to defend herself?”
“Jerry! It is your sister we’re talking about here”.
“I know. But please, allow me to find the lady by myself first, so we can at least know both sides of the story before you take action…”
“No Jeremiah. I…”
“Mom please,” he cut her short, “Don’t forget you’re an elder in the church. A respected one too. If you rush to take the action you’re planning to take and in the long run, you discover Isabella was lying, what then will you do? You and I know that Isabella can lie for Africa.”
His mother was quiet. Obviously, she agreed with him about the lying part. “Ok,” she agreed, “but on the condition that you report to me after your investigations. And if I don’t get a report by the end of tomorrow, I promise I’ll still take the police to find her on Sunday.
“No need for that. I definitely will.”
“Ok. I guess that’s settled. I really felt bad seeing how bruised your sister was yesterday. And …”
“Mom, Jerry. Can you people please come inside,” Isabella called out from the front porch. She had a bandage wrapped around one hand, one plaster on her forehead, and another on her jaw.
Jerry laughed inwardly. What a pretence. He thought, before taking his mom’s hand and leading her in. Isabella was a fake, and he only hoped the meeting wouldn’t take too much of his time.