The cynicism in her eyes hurt him, and the fact that she had absolutely no faith him deepened that hurt.
“Do go on with your story then.” He said, and since it was obvious she was going to speak leisurely, he decided to sit and chose the armchair opposite her.
“Thank you. And like I said I will begin with you hiring men to kill Craig because he threatened to tell me that you had arranged for me to be robbed and raped.” She was looking at him directly as she spoke and her expression was wryly amused. “He was supposed to be your friend with whom you regularly played a game of switching your girlfriends and then tossing them out of your lives when you are done. But he met me and had the unfortunate desire to want to ruin your little game, so you had to teach him a lesson. First, by having me raped and then by killing him.”
Sunny took a minute before he asked her. “Are you done or taking a break?”
“One thing I’m done with is being your wife, Sunny.”
The retort shocked him. “That is a hurtful thing to say, Onyi.”
“What is hurtful is what you did to me. My God! How can you continue to pretend about all this?” Anger flashed into her eyes. “You wanted me raped, Sunny.”
“But you weren’t raped, were you?” He quietly asked. “You were not robbed and no one raped you.”
“No one did because a good Samaritan came along in time to stop those two men. He fought them off and saved me.”
“And who was your good Samaritan?”
“I don’t know who he was. Once he came on the scene and started fighting off the men, I fled. I had to run.” She pushed to her feet. Her eyes were blazing, but behind the fire of fury, there was also pain. “I was too scared; terrified. Something had warned me inside not to follow that footpath that evening, but I was in a hurry to get home. Then halfway down, these two men strolled out from the uncompleted building and one of them grabbed me, clasped his hand over my mouth before I could scream.”
As she spoke, Sunny saw again the scene and wished, as he’d done that evening, that he hadn’t needed to scare her in that way.
“I struggled as best as I could. But there was two of them, men who were bigger than I was and… and I was scared to death.” Tears shone in her eyes, but didn’t fall. “I kept praying frantically in my heart and I think it was answer to that prayer that the other man appeared. He ran forward, shoved aside the one pushing me to the ground and snatched my handbag back from the other one. He… he saved me. He saved me from your cruel and malicious plan.”
“I saved you from the plans I had to make to save you from Craig.”
“What?” Her stare was momentarily stupefied before she gave her head a shake. “What is this nonsense you’re saying, that you’re the man… the good Samaritan who saved me? But… how? And I didn’t see you. It wasn’t you.”
“It was me, Onyi. You didn’t look, did you? You ran and never saw the one who saved you.”
“Yes, I did, but…” She stopped, stared at him. Confusion and shock battled in her eyes. “It was you? You arranged for them to rob and rape me, and you came to save me? What kind of sick game is that? What were you playing at?”
“I was trying to stop Craig.”
“Stop him from what?”
“From having you robbed.”
“What! What is this? Are you mad?” The way she looked at him said that she thought he was mad. “You just confessed that it was you who sent those men and now, you’re saying that you did so because Craig was planning to do the same? Is that what you’re saying, that Craig wanted two men to rob and rape his girlfriend?”
“I doubt rape was part of the plan, but yes, he wanted to rob you and was going to hire people to do so. He told me his plan and I knew I had to stop him.”
She stared at him. Then she swept around to look at Rowland. The latter’s expression was one of complete distrust, which didn’t surprise Sunny since he was Craig’s cousin.
“You’re lying.” Onyi was looking at him again and her eyes were defiant. “You’re a liar, Sunny. You’ve been lying to me from the beginning. Thirteen months, Sunny, you’ve been lying to me. Everything you told me is a lie and even this is a lie. You wrote a note to Craig telling him you’ve made the arrangements. Do you forget I just told you that’s how Rowland came to know the truth about you? He found your note, Sunny. He found it and confronted Craig. And he told him the truth.”
“Craig has never told a truth in his life, not where women were concerned.” Tired of sitting, he stood up and to avoid touching her, pushed his hands into his pockets. “He came to me two days before the pretended attempt to rob and rape you…”
“You say it’s pretended. And you also say that you are not sure if rape was part of Craig’s plan, why then was the men you sent trying to rape me?”
“They were not trying to rape you, Onyi…”
“He was pushing me to the ground! One of the men kept pushing me downwards.”
“He was pushing you around to make it all look real, Onyi. Do you think if two men actually wanted to rape you, they wouldn’t have thrown you swiftly to the ground?”
“The good Samaritan came in time before they could succeed.”
“I was that good Samaritan and everything happened according to how I instructed that it should. They were there only to create a scene that would be believable when you told it to Craig.” He fixed his eyes on hers and refused to blink them. “I needed him to be convinced that you were going to be robbed but someone unfortunately came upon the scene.”
“And why, tell me, why would Craig want to rob me? What did he want from me?”
“What was the valuable thing you had in your handbag that evening, Onyi?”
“Nothing of value was inside my…” She started to say and then stopped and frowned. “You mean the three hundred and fifty thousand naira I had to collect cash from a customer?”
“That three hundred and fifty thousand naira was only the motivation Craig needed to arrange for a robbery.”
“How dare you say that?” Rowland said, joining the argument for the first time. “How dare you insinuate that Craig was a common thief? He was a solid business man and was doing well too.”
“Craig was always something of a crook. He may have straightened some of his ways, but not everything he did was honest and legal. And if you are honest and know your cousin well, you will admit this.” Sunny said to the other man. “He made some deals that backfired and lost a great deal of money. As a matter of fact, he was next to broke and was desperate for money. I’d promised to help him with half a million, but he wanted more. Then Onyi told him about the cash she was collecting that day and that gave him the idea to rob her of it.”
“Nonsense! Craig would never do something like that.” Rowland shot back. “If he had, he would have told me.”
“Would he really? Will Craig own to anything dubious?” Sunny asked and when Rowland’s confidence seemed to falter, he turned his gaze on Onyi. “You didn’t know him as well as you thought you did, Onyi. As a matter of fact, you didn’t know him at all. He wanted that money and he told me he was going to get it. It wasn’t the first time he was cheating someone out of their money, but it was the first time he was going to actually rob. Still, first time or not, I knew he was serious and knew I had to do something to protect you.”
“Why would Craig tell you something like that knowing you could betray him?”
Sunny spared Rowland a glance. “He told me because I’d never before betrayed him. I knew what he did. Frankly, I’d before done some shady deals myself, but I pulled away from all that and started the printing press and then the hotel.”
Again, he focussed on Onyi. “After he told me what he was going to do, I quickly made my own arrangements and then convinced him that it was best I handle it to remove all suspicion from him. He agreed to my plan and whatever took place that evening happened.”
“But… but why didn’t he come back for the money when he didn’t get it?”
“How could he when you paid the money into your company’s account the very next morning?” Sunny countered her question.
She didn’t respond, only stood there and stared at him. He could see she was thinking. Considering all that she was hearing, possibly reevaluating her beliefs and deciding what was true or not.
“The men he said you hired to kill him, what about them?” She finally asked.
“There was no men, Onyi. I have never tried to kill anyone, and certainly not Craig. He made up that story to undo me, I’m sure.”
“Why would be want to undo you now?”
“Frankly, I don’t know. But my best guess would be because I’m with you. I married you and that must put his nose out of joint.”
“Any man would be put out if his friend dates and marries his girlfriend.” Rowland said.
“I didn’t date and marry Craig’s girlfriend. I dated and married the woman Craig chose to give up for four hundred thousand naira.”
Sunny looked at Onyi and loosely shrugged. “He lost three hundred and fifty thousand naira because I failed to get it for him and since I wanted him to leave you alone, I offered him four hundred k.”
“You’re saying… that Craig took four hundred thousand naira from you so he can leave me?”
“Yes, he did.”
“You say that, but how do we know that’s the truth?” Rowland said and with a derisive snort.
“You know your cousin, Rowland. Face him with all that I’ve said and watch him squirm. Craig was, possibly still is, a crook, a liar and a disgusting coward.” Sunny looked only at Onyi as he talked. “When I told him that if he didn’t take what I was willing to offer, I was going to tell Onyi everything, he grabbed the money and ran. He was in Lagos two days later and before the end of the next week, he was in South Africa. And what explanations did he give to you for his sudden departure? None. He left you, Onyi, and without a single word.”
There was a long moment of silence and then Onyi dropped down on her chair.
“So, it’s been Craig lying to me all along?” She murmured.
The expression of bewildering realisation and hurt on her face made Sunny’s heart ache with regret. He had never wanted her to know any of this.
After the move of the blog’s domain name, I got carried away with the Easter celebrations and couldn’t make time for last week’s episode. Here it is now, and I hope you enjoy.