• Book Release / Excerpts

    Make It A Swap – #2

    The nagging thought triggered a minor case of incertitude, raising another question.

    Was it possible she remained single, for all intents and purposes mourning the loss of her marriage, in a bid to prove to the world that she was a respectable woman?
    Because the excuse that she needed more time to heal was invalid. The pain of Gregory’s betrayal faded into a bad memory a long while ago.

    Irritated by the gratuitous self-examination provoked by Frannie’s implied doubt, she demanded, “Is that how you see me, as a person bothered by what society thinks of her?”

    The echo of disappointment in her voice was directed more to her than to her friend.

    “A lot of times outside voices sneak up on us and we start to listen without noticing,” Frannie said gently. “You’re intelligent, strong, independent and brave. You have always known what you wanted and gone for it. I ask you to be sure you’re waiting because that’s what you want and not to avoid people talking.”

    “I could care less what people think, let alone talk about. But you do have a point, those voices creep in without us noticing.” It cost Victoria to admit it, but it would hurt her pride more to persist in denial. “He lied to me, got another woman pregnant and is now married to her. You know one thing I’m sure of? That the world does not judge him harshly for his actions.”

    “No, they don’t. Not when they have you and the other woman to blame.”

    “It might be I’m weary of the double standard. Or I simply have no will or desire to deal with the stress of a relationship.”

    “You will rather deal with the stress of loneliness. I’ll repeat what I said earlier, Vic. It’s a man you need, not a puppy.”

    “A puppy is a lot less trouble. However, I may have to re-evaluate what I want for my life. Let’s leave it at that, Fran. You tell me your actual reason for calling instead. Is Ejaife nowhere insight to keep you busy?”

    “He kept me busy right before dinner and counts on doing so again when we retire for the night. But I called to check on you. Girlfriends do that, you know.”

    “Aw, lucky me. I’m in a good place money-wise, why don’t we go shopping? I don’t mean baby clothing, Mummy,” she added.

    Apparels for babies were all that interested Frannie when they walked into stores nowadays. And those cute little things had a way of making a woman wish.

    Wishing made her nostalgic, so she preferred to avoid it.

    “You’re in luck as I need more comfortable maternity wears. But with the string of projects we have on our hands, I have work up to my ears. We’ll do it as soon as I catch a break.”

    “You let me know when. It surprises me Ejaife still allows you to work.”

    “Jaife doesn’t allow me to do anything. I work because I have responsibilities as the financial and business operations manager of a multimillion company.”

    Her huffy tone drew a smile. “I stand corrected, boss lady. How about you run back to hubby? I bet he’s dying to fuss over you. Night-night, girlfriend.”

    She rang off and her smile slowly dissolved. But the blare of her ringtone put paid to the gear-shift into thinking mode.

    The caller was her father and she did not forget her manners when she answered, offering greetings in a respectful voice.

    Never one to yield to preambles, he said straight-out, “See me tomorrow morning before going to work.”

    She frowned, both out of worry and a mild irritation. He could try to recall she was no longer a child. “Is there a problem, Dad?”

    “None that should trouble you. I’ll see you in the morning. Goodnight.”

    That was the end of it. Not a request, no explanations, and he displayed that authoritative attitude when he intended to deliver a lecture to any of his children.

    But did it have to be in the morning?

    Her phone chimed as if to answer the question and exasperate her further.

    It was a message from Gregory of all people. The third… no, fourth one since New Year’s Day.

    Short of changing her number or blocking his, there was nothing she could do to stop getting them. Victoria would give the latter a serious thought if he persisted with his unwanted enquiries about her well-being.

    Deleting it without a reply as usual, she opted to turn in early and turned off the television.

    Taking her tablet with her into bed, she selected a show on Netflix to lull her to sleep in short order.


    SHE MADE AN EARLY START the next morning to her parents’ home in the town of Ibusa. If everything worked out, she could avoid getting late to the office.

    Victoria stopped by her mother’s room to say hello before searching out her father at the back of the colonial-styled house.

    A variety of vegetable crops flourished on the patch of land right before the fence. Her father’s pet project after his retirement.

    He was under the wooden pergola reading his daily newspaper. A book pertaining to faith sat on the cross-legged table beside his chair.

    Victoria took a chair adjacent to him, greeted and watched as he folded and put aside the paper.

    “Your mother and I are worried about you.” The frown he trained on her reproved her for the fact. “You live your life alone and that’s unhealthy.”

    Victoria swallowed a sigh. “It would be unhealthier to rush into a relationship.”

    “There’s no rush in this after a year. You rushed when you elected to divorce your husband.”

    She stopped wishing for her parents to change that opinion a long while ago. It didn’t mean that their lack of support and understanding didn’t continue to hurt her.

    “I rid myself of a man who broke our marriage vows and got another woman pregnant. There’s nothing wrong in that.”

    “Mistakes happen in relationships. Couples don’t solve them by insisting on a separation. When we give it time patience and forgiveness help.”

    “Do you think he’d have forgiven me if I were the one who cheated and got myself pregnant, Dad?”

    “No. But that’s because we expect a woman to conduct herself differently. I didn’t make the rules,” he added, his expression softening in the form of an apology.

    No, he didn’t make the rules, Victoria thought, ignoring his weak effort to pacify her. The world of men made the rules on double standards and they expected women to go on living by them.

    “That rule didn’t suit me, Dad. I couldn’t continue with him after he lied and cheated on me. Certainly not when his lover would be a part of our lives forever.”

    His silence stretched for a short time before he cleared his throat. “That’s over and done now. A man named Chika Akah came to see me. He’s a widower with a child, and he’s interested in you.”

    Discarding the disappointment that he still didn’t understand her, Victoria gaped. “What? You’re trying to find me a husband, Dad?”

    “You need one, don’t you? Chika is not entirely a stranger. His parents attend our church and I suspect it was they who recommended you. So you see, you have their approval already.”

    A most important fact, to have the approval of the parents of a man she didn’t know. The urge to laugh was nearly impossible to resist.

    Biting her cheek, she managed to ask with curious interest, “Did you already set a date for the wedding?”

    “Don’t be foolish,” her father scolded. “I want you to meet him. He’s a doctor, works at the general hospital at Agbor and runs his own private clinic.”

    “A successful man. Fascinating.”

    “I told you not to be foolish. Chika is forty-five and needs a mother for his ten-year-old daughter. The child lives presently with his parents, but he wants her with him. It’s four years since he lost his wife and he wants a companion.”

    “He possesses all these sterling qualities and seems to have your approval, but I prefer a man to come to me directly and not go through my parents.” She smiled sweetly. “I’m a modern girl, as you know, Dad.”

    “You are a woman who is thirty-four and divorced. There are not many men out there who will not be daunted by those two facts.”

    “No, there are not.” She saw no reason to deny the truth. “Nonetheless, I cannot marry a man because his parents approve of me and he wants a companion. Not without love.”

    “You married Gregory whom you loved, yet that love didn’t count when you thought to rid yourself of him.”

    A straight shot to the heart. Who said a father couldn’t fight dirty when he wanted, huh?

    Blinking to chase back tears, Victoria smiled. “I loved and respected myself more than I did Greg. It’s for the same reasons I will ask you to convey my thanks and refusal to Dr Chika Akah.”

    “Chika has your number and will call you. Listen, he looked to me like a good man and I advise you to give him a chance.”

    “You gave him my number before you spoke to me?” Now she was annoyed. “That’s not right, Dad.”

    “You think if I thought he would harm my daughter in any way I would give him details about you?”

    Shock raced through her. “What other details did you give him?”

    “Don’t speak to me in that sharp tone, young woman.”

    Oh, now she was a ‘young woman’ not some mid-thirties old gal about to become an old maid. How convenient.

    Hating to be angry this early in the morning and before she went to work, Victoria forced her rising temper to simmer down. She couldn’t fight with her father anyway and not be penalised for being rude.

    “Dad, I really am not ready for a relationship right now, so I beg you to call this man and let him know. Can you do that?”

    He sent her an unyielding stare. “No. That is because I am worried about you. The older you get, the harder it will be to remarry.”

    “I may not want to remarry, Dad,” Victoria cried, exasperated.

    “What nonsense! Go to work and stop talking such nonsense. When he calls you, show him your mother and I did a good job bringing you up.” Finished with her, he took his newspaper and went back to reading it.

    Short of screaming and stamping her foot, Victoria rose and told herself she had a company to run. She would not even allow herself fret over this, no.


    Make It A Swap is available on Amazon Kindle and Bambooks. You can also download it on Selar:


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