He didn’t head back home straight after leaving the hotel. Instead he stopped at an eatery, called the private investigator to terminate his contract and thereafter, sat at his table thinking over all that had transpired.
Onyi called him. But he didn’t pick her call and turned off his phone after it stopped ringing.
He spent exactly two hours at the eatery before he left for home. It didn’t surprise him to find her waiting for him in the living room.
“I don’t know what you expected of me, to pack up and leave or…” She shrugged. “We need to talk, Sunny.”
“I agree, we need to talk. And I wasn’t expecting you to pack up and leave.” He only briefly hesitated before joining her on the sofa. “I’m sorry I didn’t pick your call earlier and turned off my phone. I needed to think.”
She nodded. “I understand. I called because I was panicking, but realised after you didn’t pick and I couldn’t get through again, that we both needed time alone to think.”
For a minute, neither of them spoke. Then she said. “I’ve realised that too many things were hidden between us. You knew the kind of man Craig was and what he’d done and you didn’t tell me. I heard something that defamed you and didn’t tell you. I was wrong. I was hurt, angry and feeling vengeful, but still I was wrong. I should have confronted you straightaway not start that drama.”
When he still didn’t speak, she continued. “There are certain things I found out today that’s shocked me. For instance that you’d done some shady deals in the past. What kind of shady deals are we talking about, Sunny?”
“Internet fraud for one.”
“Oh my goodness!”
Her shock made him wince. “Yes, we both did that while at the university, but cut off from it after youth service. Then we became involved in fraudulent property deals before I took what I’d made and started the printing press. It’s not something I’m proud of, so I was too ashamed to tell you.” He met her eyes, gave a faint smile. “I was also afraid you might back away from me if you knew.”
“I see.” For a few seconds she was silent, then she asked. “What about you two switching girlfriends between you? Or was that another lie Craig told?”
He saw in her eyes a wish for it to be so and was tempted to claim it as such. But he wouldn’t lie to her. He’d kept certain truths from her, but had never told her an outright lie.
“Unfortunately, I was guilty of this. It was a stupid, unscrupulous and juvenile game we started playing as wild teens and continued until our third year in school when something,” he gave his head a shake. “No, someone… a girl we’d both used said something that made me understand that what we were doing was despicable and beneath even us. I guess Craig realised it too because he quickly agreed when I told him it was time we stopped the game.”
“So, I was never… uh, a game for you two?”
“Gosh, no! Onyi…” he reached forward to take her hand, but stopped himself. “That part of our life was done away with way before we met you. I would never have done that to you, Onyi, because…”
“Because…?” She prompted when he broke off.
“Because I kind of fell for you from the moment I saw you.” And because some things hurt now when he thought about it, he casually shrugged. “But he’d seen you first, talked to you first and you liked him first. Liked him first and last, I realise now.”
“No, Sunny. I don’t like him first and last. I did like him, but I got over him.”
“But you think our marriage only sprang from an art of deception. You wouldn’t have dated or married me if Craig didn’t do what he did, would you?”
It took her a moment before she answered. “Sunny, what I said about not marrying you if you hadn’t deceived me, I said out of anger and with the intention to hurt you.”
“You hit your target, so well done.”
“Please, let’s not talk this way. I’m sorry I hurt you. But in a way, it’s also the truth, if Craig wasn’t… well, if he wasn’t Craig then you and I would never have dated, let alone married. It’s what he did that brought us together. I didn’t know you had those kind of feelings for me before he left.”
“It seems to me now that you liked Craig more than you like me or will ever like me. He was your first choice and I, only a tolerable second best.”
“That’s not true, Sunny. You are not a second best. You never were. And I don’t like you. I love you.”
“Onyi, please don’t.” It hurt to hear her say it. Hurt because he wanted to believe her, but couldn’t. “We’re finally telling each other every truth, so let’s let go all pretense.”
“You think I’m pretending by saying I love you?”
He looked away from the hurt that sprang into her eyes. He couldn’t believe it too. “Onyi, you heard something about me from Craig’s cousin and without hearing from me, you believed every word, started a game to hurt me and planned to leave me. You didn’t act hurt or shocked or heartbroken. You… you just believed him and took action like you couldn’t wait to get rid of me. How is that love?”
“I don’t know why I believed him. Maybe because he had some very precise information and I’d always wondered what happened to make Craig leave me in that way.” Tears shimmered in her eyes. “But I started that stupid game because I was hurt that you’ve been deceiving me. Because believing that you’re a liar who only played with me, I was deeply wounded and wanted to wound you back. It was out of my pain and disappointment that made me want to see you suffer, not because I didn’t care at all. I have never lied to you, Sunny, and I’m not lying now when I say that I love you.”
“But you believed Craig. You believed a story that made him a saint while I became the villain. You did not question or even doubt it.”
“And I regret that. It was stupid of me. I was hurt and furious after hearing all Rowland had to say and reacted blindly out of that pain.” She sniffed, blinked and held his gaze. “But you did the same, didn’t you? You saw pictures that implied I was having an affair and instead of confronting me, you hired a private investigator to tail me. You love me, don’t you? Still, you acted this way.”
He opened his mouth and realised he had no defense. She was right, he hadn’t trusted her too. He’d believed the evidence of his eyes as she’d done the evidence of her ears.
“But maybe it’s different for you because you were seeing pictures and they looked like proof.” She said softly.
“No, it’s not different. You heard something and didn’t trust me. I saw something and didn’t trust you. We were both wrong.”
“So, what should we do now?”
“I don’t know, Onyi. I only know that I feel very hurt.”
He was hurt, and she was too, but he didn’t know how, of if, they could mend their relationship.