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DIARYThe so called emergency family meeting had turned into a fiasco and I was getting worried things would get out of hand. At the moment, Afolabi and Chief Badmus were standing face to face in a heated argument and it looked like someone would throw a punch any minute. My bet was on Afolabi my brother whose eyes were red with anger. We were five in the room TK, Afolabi, The Duchess, Chief Badmus and I.

Afolabi: If not for you none of this would have happened and you are here preaching about family. You have no business being here!

Chief Badmus: This is my daughter’s home and I can come here whenever I want! Afolabi: The daughter you have known for only a few weeks, you’re a joker! Your son will pay for what he did to my family and so will Bella!

Chief Badmus: We are dropping the charges against Jaiyeola and Bella will not be charged. They are family and have to be treated as such. They can be dealt with within the family.

Afolabi: This is not a mafia and you are not the Godfather here! No one asked for your opinion. Chief Badmus: Watch how you address me young man! I am your father! Afolabi: I do not have a father. You are dead to me, you hear me? Dead!

I watched my father try to remain composed. He was in a white agbada, complete with his chieftaincy beads on his neck and wrists. He looked regal, yet I felt sorry for him. It was like he had aged overnight. He was about to respond but I quickly got up and went between them.

Me: Afolabi it is ok. This is not the time for this please. Enough of the drama, we need to agree before the police comes to arrest Bella.

Bella had been brought home and was in her room keeping her distance from TK as he had instructed. TK: This is a complicated matter and we have to stick together to ensure it doesn’t get any worse. Bella cannot be charged. Afolabi: I understand that Bella is young, naïve and was manipulated but Jaiyeola is a grown man whose intentions were criminal from day one. Why he should not be prosecuted remains a mystery to me.

TK: He cannot be prosecuted because he has threatened to implicate Bella if he is. If he goes to trial, Bella would be forced to confess or we would all be guilty of covering up her crime because we all know she was an accomplice.

I didn’t know whose side I was on anymore and TK was obviously confused about whether or not to give his daughter up to the authorities. TK and Afolabi started an argument of their own and The Duchess who had been previously silent all through spoke:
The Duchess: Silence!
The room went quiet immediately.

The Duchess: Now every one of you listen to me. This is what is going to happen and I will not repeat myself. Adetokunboh and Anjola, as soon as the police get here tell them there was a mix up, that Bella was upset about a fight she had with Anjola – her stepmom, she ran away and has come back home. The confession letter should be burnt immediately and should never be spoken of in this family again. Anyone who speaks of that letter to anyone outside this room will answer to me! Bella will come and stay with me at the Villa for a while; I need to keep an eye on her.

Chief Badmus, I understand your plight as a parent and even though Jaiyeola is not your biological son, it is not the sort of information you should allow the world to know. It will open a Pandora’s box that will ruin you. How will you survive the publicity of the embezzlement and fraud he had carried out in your company would get without losing clients and investors? Ideally it should not be my concern but as my family is now tied to yours I feel the need to ensure you don’t become a laughing stock. You will drop the charges against Jaiyeola; I will make all the records of the case go away. You will give Jaiyeola and his family a reasonable amount of money to take his family and relocate to any far away country of his choice.

He will sign a contract that if he ever tries to cause any trouble in the future, his criminal case would be reopened and he would be arrested. As for Rosemary, Adetokunboh ensure she is released from the station today and give her a reasonable amount to go and start her life somewhere else. She is collateral damage to this family now, it may seem like a harsh thing to say but it is only a matter of time before someone comes to bribe her to tell her side of the story or she starts feeling she needs to be compensated for the sacrifice she made. Let her go. Afolabi you will relocate to Nigeria and you would assume your position as the heir to the Badmus estate.

Trust me Jaiyeola is right now trying to manipulate his sisters, even though he is not their blood brother he would still have a hold on them and it is very easy for a woman to mistake empathy for trust or even love. If you leave that seat vacant, it will never be yours. Now for all of you, let this be a warning to you, there is no room for betrayal in this family, there is no room for blackmail and there is no room for stupidity! If you have skeletons, clean them up now…Jaiyeola would always be out there looking for a way to strike back. People like him never go away forever. Take note.

Needless to say, after her majesty spoke the meeting ended. The police arrived shortly after, we were all debriefed and we all said the same thing. Bella’s disappearance was in no way related to the kidnapping. The inspector did not mention the letter TK had shown him which had since been destroyed and Chief Badmus had gone to the police station with his lawyer to make a deal with Jaiyeola so the case could be dropped.

I wasn’t sure I would ever feel really safe knowing Jaiyeola would be there out there somewhere lurking in the shadows. As The Duchess had rightly said, people like Jaiyeola do not just disappear; they wait for the moment of weakness and then they strike.

After The Duchess and Chief Badmus left, TK went to Bella’s room and spent an incredibly long time there talking to her. Afterwards he came and peeped into our bedroom.

TK: Someone wants to talk to you.
He moved away from the door and Bella walked in with her shoulders drooped and her eyes red and swollen. My first instinct was anger because she had put my child at risk with her naivety but then the motherly nature in me made me feel sorry for her. She had just lost her mother and she was in a strange place, I realized I could have done better in trying to find out how to make the transition easier for her.
TK: I will be downstairs.
With that he left both of us.
Bella: Please I am sorry.
She knelt down and burst into tears I instantly ran to her side.
Me: Stand up Bella.
Bella: I love Oladunni, I did not know he meant to hurt her please believe me. I am so sorry, it’s all my fault. I pulled her up on her feet and into a tight bear hug
Me: I know darling, its ok. It’s not your fault; he would have found another way to carry out his wicked plan. Bella: I know you can never forgive me. I am sure my mother is so disappointed in me; I have messed up my relationship with my dad. Everything is a mess!

At this point she was sobbing uncontrollably and my heart really went out to her. I did love her not just because I knew deep down she was a really sweet and bright young lady but also because she was TK’s child. She was a part of the man I loved and so without having to try I had opened my heart to her without reservation.
Me: Bella, your mother will always love you no matter what you do and so will your dad. There is nothing you do that can make any of us stop loving you. You are a part of this family and nothing will ever change that.

Bella: Thank you for not allowing me spend the rest of my life in jail. Me: Don’t be dramatic. Besides you’re getting the best punishment ever…has your dad told you The Duchess has requested that you move in with her for a while? Bella smiled
Bella: Yes he has. I totally deserve it.

We both laughed and then I hugged her again. Everything was going to be fine I could tell.
A few days later, it was looking like the drama was over. Jaiyeola had agreed to the deal and was getting ready to leave the country with his family, Bella had moved to The Villa to spend some time with the Duchess. Rosemary had been given a lot of money and she had moved back to the East to join her family. I was already missing her so much but there was nothing I could do about it. The Duchess was right, keeping her as a maid after the trauma we had put her through would have been a foolish move. Afolabi and his family were getting ready to move back to the States and I was getting to ready to go with them. The baby was almost due and I wanted to have him in the States…we had finally confirmed the baby’s gender we were expecting a boy. I planned to take Oladunni with me. TK was to join us later; he had to stay back home and sort out things…things being his parents’ marriage.

TK’s father had announced he wanted a divorce as he had not been happy with The Duchess for decades. The Duchess was acting indifferent because her ego was bruised knowing that her husband had been keeping a mistress for so many years. I was of the opinion that TK’s father had sacrificed a lot in the course of their marriage and deserved to be truly happy. TK on the other hand was sure he could “fix it”.

The only unfinished business was Chief Badmus’ daughters, my half-sisters. He had tried to get them to meet me and my family twice but he hadn’t been able to pull it off. They wanted nothing to do with us.
I thought this was the only piece of the puzzle yet to fall into place, but I was wrong.

The night before I was to leave for the States with Afolabi and his family, I was packing and trying to organize myself for the trip when I heard a knock on the bedroom door. It was Afolabi.

Me: Hey
Afolabi: I need to talk to you.
Me: What’s up?
Afolabi: I won’t be travelling tomorrow as planned. I have decided to stay in Nigeria for a while.

I was surprised, Afolabi had been constantly lamenting on the need for him and his family to return to their lives in New York. He and his wife had been away from work for too long and his daughter had been away from school.

Me: Why? What’s going on?
Afolabi: I have scores to settle with Chief Badmus.
Me: So have you finally agreed to stay back and run his estate as his heir?
Afolabi: How can you ask that after all he did to us? All he is still doing to us! I am staying back because I am going to take everything from him. Anjola, I’m going after his empire.


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