• Book Release

    Her Destiny – #1

    A liar.

    A cheat.

    A snivelling coward who couldn’t face her with the truth.
    That was Edozie Nnamdi.

    With a ruthless tug, Nkoli ripped her thoughts from him, ensconcing herself in the present.

    She was home.

    Seven months ago, she had been confident she couldn’t live anymore in the house her father built in the village of his ancestors. The house where she’d spent half of her life and where her father’s gravestone stood in the front yard.

    Nkoli had wanted anywhere else but this village, but this house, to become her home. Anyplace far away where she could discard the cloak of shame, and never again feel their dispiriting pity when folks tattled about her.

    In the end, her sister’s home and the city of Lagos did not offer as much comfort as she’d hoped. Even when Ebere went above and beyond to make her happy. Even with her younger sister and mother present, or with the promises of her brother-in-law to open a hairdressing salon for her.

    The noise, dizzying busyness and dense nature of that megacity had proved too much for her. She’d pined for what was familiar. For what was hers.

    This house.

    The village more so.

    Hilly Town was hers. Her place. Her village. Her home. She’d missed it. Too much that it shocked her.

    It was the little details. The reddish brown soil from places that were not laid over by asphalt or concrete. And there were a lot of those places.

    There was hardly a compound without a tree. Mango, orange, moringa—even palm trees. Greenery was a big part of their life. Some families had gardens, growing vegetables.

    There was not the fine and polish of a city like Lagos. It was rustic, sleepy in some ways, and too-simple. But it was home.

    Nkoli exhaled her contentment as she conveyed her suitcase to the room, rolling it along on its wheels. Counting on her cousin to assist with cleaning up the house, she’d slept over at her aunt’s at Asaba. But Dinma had to return to school at Effurun.

    No matter, she knew how to go through chores in the minimum time.

    Less than an hour later, she had her room in a squeaky clean state and faced the task of putting away her clothes. In a drawer she’d emptied to fold in new clothes, she unearthed a top he bought for her.

    A soft, silk fabric in her favourite orange colour. Nkoli had admired it from the glass windows of a boutique in Asaba.

    In his usual insistent manner, he bought it and a pair of stud earrings she gifted her baby sister. A month later, she witnessed his wedding to another woman.

    It was inevitable, Nkoli thought, even as her mind flashed back to a past she wished not to remember. There was no way she could have avoided the memories, not when she would encounter triggers at every turn.

    It was a special day. The first of the many special days they would experience before they became husband and wife.

    Excitement and pride bubbled inside Nkoli. As a little girl, she had seen her aunt dressed as a stunning bride on the day her husband’s people came to pay her dowry. That was the defining moment she knew she wanted to be a bride.

    She wanted marriage.

    A man would one day love her enough to make that commitment.

    Edozie Nnamdi was that man.

    In a matter of an hour, it could be less. He and his family would arrive at her home to formally ask for her hand in marriage.

    They would come with bottles of wine, kola nuts, and a ready-made speech to announce their intention. A few members of her extended family were at present in their home for the occasion.

    The introduction ceremony was significant because it formally announced an upcoming marriage, and folks would now recognise the woman as a bride-to-be.

    Nkoli admired the engagement ring he gave her four months ago. She would have more reasons to flaunt it. Some called it bragging when she told them she would soon marry a well-to-do hotelier and move to Asaba. Well, they would be witnesses to it not much longer.

    From her window, she glimpsed Adaeze hurrying towards the house. She was Nkoli’s friend from the time they both trained and worked at a prestigious salon in Agbor. Five months ago, she got married and was now pregnant with her first child.

    Nkoli expected her later in the day, not now. When she wasn’t in her room within the next several minutes, she stepped out to search her out.

    And found her in her parents’ bedroom.

    Her mother’s bedroom since her father’s passing five years ago.

    It was the way they stood too close to each other. The utter disbelief on her mother’s face that released the sliver of worry.

    “What is it, Mama?” Nkoli went to her, but her gaze stuck to Adaeze. “Ada, I thought you were to assist—

    “My aunt in decorating the reception hall for the wedding?” Adaeze interrupted, nodded. “That’s where I saw him. Edozie. He’s at the church.”

    Nkoli blinked, confused. Suddenly tense. “Edozie is at the church? But he can’t attend a wedding today. He didn’t mention it. And—”

    “He’s the groom. Edozie is the groom at the wedding.”

    The burst of laughter shot out of her mouth, and all at once, Nkoli relaxed. “You’ve outdone yourself this time, Mama. You too, Ada. It’s the best prank ever. Or the worst,” she decided with a chuckle.

    “When have you ever known me to play pranks, Nkoli?”


    There was such awful candour in Adaeze’s eyes. A heartbroken compassion now in her mother’s.

    “Stop talking nonsense.” Firmly, she beat back the teeth of panic. It made no sense. It couldn’t be true. “Why would Edozie be the groom when he—”

    “I don’t understand it myself. But we will verify.” Her mother grasped her hands. “Chike will go with Ada and confirm her claim.”

    “No need for Chike to go anywhere. Mama, it cannot be.” Horror filled her, shook her. “Edozie is getting married now. Is that what you’re telling me, Ada?”

    “At St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, West End. We finished, and I thought to see the bride and groom. It was him. He was on the altar to take the reading.”

    “God forbid!” Her heart constricted with pain. With fear. “He’s the best man and you mistook him for the groom. He only forgot to inform me.”

    “He had a best man, Nkoli.”

    “Let Chike go with her—”

    “Not Chike. I will go. I want to see for myself.” She wrenched herself free, bolted from the room.

    Adaeze and her cousin, Chike, caught up with her. When they couldn’t convince her to stay back, they went with her to Asaba.

    The next fifty minutes were the worst moments of her life. Confusion and fear wrecked her mind. Plagued with disbelief, she uttered in silence more prayers than she’d ever said.

    Let it not be him.

    Let it be a doppelgänger.

    Let it be a bad dream from which she would soon wake up.

    But it was him. In a blue suit, and with a bride in shimmering white lace.

    At the entrance of the church, Nkoli watched the man she believed would be her husband exchange marital vows with another woman.

    “Scoundrel! I’m going right to that altar to expose him.”

    Nkoli grabbed Chike. “No, you won’t. What will you tell them, that he promised to marry me?”

    “Nkoli, that man is a first-class deceiver. He—”

    “Let’s go,” Nkoli said and turned to walk away.

    She would wait for his explanation, for his reasons—for him.

    But he never came.

    Not for the next one week.

    The grief she’d obviated finally engulfed her. Nkoli cried without cease for another one week. Then her mother convinced her to accept Ebere’s invitation to join her in Lagos.

    Desperate to escape the village, she agreed.

    In those first few months, she existed, not lived. She ate, drank and attempted to be civil to others only because it was expected.

    Everyone recommended she forget him. She tried to rip him out of her thoughts. There were days he didn’t feature in them at all. Other days, he owned her thoughts liked he had a right to do so.

    Those awful days happened less and less, and mattered even less. Only then did she miss her village.

    Now she was back to it, to go on with her life. She would live once more, and dream. She refused to be disillusioned. Love existed, and she would find it, in its true and faithful form.

    A man would love and want her, and he would be true to her.

    Nkoli took out a pair of scissors from another drawer. With it, she cut the silk top into multiple pieces, added the shreds to the pile of trash she intended to burn, and went on with her chore.

    By mid-afternoon she’d worked up an appetite and cleaned herself up to go out in search of food.

    Chelu adored Hilly Town.

    It had his brother, his friends, and the house he’d built through hard work. It was home for him, and for the family he would raise.

    In the way a hiker thirsted for water, Chelu craved the warmth of a family. He was thirty-one, and he wanted a wife and children.

    Not long ago, he thought he’d found the woman for him. But she had a different dream for her life, and that was fine. There was a woman out there who wanted the same things he did.

    Presently, he was at Beta Food Restaurant with his friends, and so he would enjoy that.

    He’d said his friends, but his brother was also present. Then again, Nedu was his best friend. He was two years older and always had Chelu’s back. Jamal Amobi, on the other hand, was a friend he’d inherited from his brother.

    And Kora, she owned the restaurant, and was more of an honorary big sister.

    The only other person at the table was Gazie, Jamal’s woman. If one didn’t know she was his, the man made it amply clear by the adoring way he looked at her.
    Love had flattened his friend, and Chelu envied his good luck.

    “I can’t believe you’re getting married in a month,” he mused.

    “What I can’t believe is that Jamal waited this long,” Nedu said, his growly voice alive with laughter. “See the way he’s besotted with her. It’s sickening. Jamal, can you look anywhere else but at the girl?”

    “Would you rather I look at your ugly face?” Jamal countered before attempting to look away from his wife-to-be. “That’s Nkoli walking in. She’s back.”

    Shifting his gaze, Chelu caught sight of the woman as she made her way to the counter. In a simple Ankara dress, with long, twisted braids, and she had a stunningly voluptuous figure.

    His body reacted even before his mind kicked in. Sexual attraction, instant and volatile.

    Who was she? Chelu wondered.

    Gazie helped him to ask the question. “Who is she?”

    “She owns the salon that’s always closed. Well, it will open again with her back in Hilly Town,” Kora replied. “Poor girl. She’s had it rough. That scum broke her heart, and worse, humiliated her.”

    “He did that. Her upcoming marriage and moving to Asaba was all she bragged about for months,” Nedu put in.

    A woman betrayed and humiliated. The vicarious sort, Chelu’s heart ached for her. It didn’t abate the roaring desire he had to have her in his arms, but now he wanted to soothe her, too.

    “Why did he leave her?” Gazie wanted to know.

    “Who knows for the treacherous ass?” Jamal’s voice rang with disapproval. “He wedded another woman on the same day he was supposed to come with his family for their introduction ceremony.”

    As if she sensed they spoke about her, she glanced over, and her gaze locked on Chelu’s.

    It flickered in surprise, and as if it recognised. Then it darkened with a soul-deep yearning that pulled at him.

    She wanted. It was more than sex she wanted, Chelu could tell. But the thought of it made him want to stalk across the room, stretch her over that counter, and have her.

    Heaven be merciful! What was wrong with him?

    “What!” Gazie’s shocked exclamation broke the spell, pulling him from his lustful reverie. “Poor, poor her.”

    “Yeah.” He willed her to look at him again. But she didn’t as she hurried out. “She must need a friend.”

    “Why, are you looking to be her friend?” Nedu teased.
    “Maybe I am.”

    “Like you know how to be friends with a girl, you rogue,” Jamal scoffed.

    “But I’m friends with Gazie,” Chelu protested, flashing a wicked grin.

    “That’s all you’re allowed to be,” Jamal growled at him, taking Gazie’s hand to help her up. “Kora, it’s my wife’s day off and I’m taking her home.”

    “She’s not your wife yet,” Kora told him.

    “But she’s mine. Always will be,” Jamal retorted. “Come on, sweet one. Let’s go have ourselves some alone time before Amara brings Otito home.”

    “You’re a lost cause, my friend,” Nedu said. Then he whistled when Gazie stole into Jamal’s arms.

    “Lucky devil,” Chelu muttered under his breath, and for the culture joined in the cheers as the couple exited.

    “Is that a moonstruck expression I detect?” Nedu asked, giving his foot a kick.

    It could be. He wanted the love Jamal and Gazie shared. Plus, his mind lingered on Nkoli.

    As he was that much sentimental, Chelu took a pull of his beer, and shrugged. “A man wants some of that loving.”

    Nedu shook his head. “I knew it. I will advise you to give it a few days before you pounce.”

    “Come now, big brother. You know what they say. You snooze, you lose,” Chelu quipped, and laughed with Kora at his brother’s disgusted snort.


    Her Destiny, Hilly Town Alphas #2. Available on Okadabooks.

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  • Reply Roselyn August 14, 2023 at 7:45 pm

    Thank you Lady TM.
    Good one as always.
    Go girl.

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