The weather had gone back to being characteristic from the strange downpour, and was now hot and sunny. Ronke Eiba’s elegant carriage and poise were remarkable as she strode into the cosy sitting room of Modele’s rambling bungalow.
The house was a huge one. The four-bedroom accommodation had a library, a private study and parlour, a living room, and a patio with garden seats and tables in addition to all the other common features of a nice house.
Ronke looked toward the patio where she’d visited with Modele and Jude several times, and enjoyed the cool outdoor breeze, and moaned softly.
Three extra bedrooms, fully furnished, were hardly used. Modele’s room in itself was a spectacle. It was a ‘master’ bedroom with furniture and accessories that could keep her in it for a week without her need to leave. Looking round the extravagance of the house, Ronke moaned again and shook her head.
“This house is way too big.”
The grounds were large enough to accommodate the neglected garden at the front and side lawns, and a playground at the back. Modele wasn’t a swimming fan, or she would have had a pool too.
The sitting room was modest, and classy. With a display of a rich blend of beautiful colours, it looked like something out of an interior design magazine. One could not easily understand the owner’s taste, though. There was marble, glass, fluff, leather, and lots of colour.
Modele half-ran out of her room to hug her mother. “Mom!”
“Darling.” Ronke placed a kiss on her daughter’s neck.
There was little resemblance between mother and daughter. Ronke, fair in complexion, with a petit frame contrasted her tall daughter’s chocolate cream colour. One thing common to both however was their stunning beauty.
Ronke pulled back and studied her daughter with scrutiny. “You’ve been unhappy.”
Modele shrugged. “I miss home, that’s all.”
“Jude was at the house.”
“It’s over, Mom. Even if he’s asking to come back, I won’t—”
“I know, dear. He came to apologize to us.”
“For what? Mom, he’d known that girl for heaven knows how long. I don’t want him anymore. I can’t believe you…”
“Not yet, daughter.” Ronke found a seat and gracefully slumped into it. Her fixed hair bounced once, and fell back into place though she still used one hand to ensure it was in order. “Men cheat for a lot of reasons. I don’t mean to lecture you or justify him, but dear, I thank God you found out on time.”
“He wouldn’t have married me, anyway. He’s been stalling for the past five years…when I first brought up the issue.” Modele walked to the bar at the far end of the parlour and leaned against one of four fancy high stools with finely carved pine wood, and multi-coloured leather seats.
Ronke walked over to her. She made to pour a drink but changed her mind and sat on one of the bar stools instead. “He may have,” she said, matter-of-fact.
“Whatever.” Modele shrugged. “So what did he come to apologize for? Did he want to come back?”
The hint of hope in her voice made Ronke frown. “No.”
“Then what was the apology for?” Her daughter’s frustration translated into anger, and it showed in her question.
“For disappointing us, you.”
“Tough luck. And then?”
“To hell with him! He left me. He cheated!” Modele swallowed. She blinked once, trying to control an obvious spontaneous surge of emotions.
“Baby girl, don’t swear, please,” Ronke said stiffly. “You can’t do this to yourself, to us. You have to move on with your life.”
“That’s exactly what I am doing, Mom, why wouldn’t I? It is over! Eight years is over. Just like that.” She snapped her finger and laughed.
“Don’t do this, please,” Ronke said, her voice cracking. “You could be hurting more than yourself.”
“I should hurt, Mom.” The façade down, Modele’s voice trembled, and the little girl behind the strong woman came up. “I gave him all. He was my first, my only…” She burst into tears.
Ronke remained in her seat and let her cry. When the sobbing subsided, she walked graciously to stand in front of the younger woman.
“You didn’t allow him to…” The question hung.
Modele looked up and sniffed. “Once!”
Ronke looked into her daughter’s eyes and failed to hide her disappointment.
“Look, I gave it to him but it never happened again…Oh it really doesn’t matter, does it?” Modele said flippantly.
She moved away from the stool and walked toward the sliding doors that led into the patio. “He likes glass, Mom. Likes to always see through what’s on the other side,” she whispered. “I wish I’d been able to see through him all this while!”
”You have to stop thinking about him, dear. I know what I’m saying.” She sighed. “It hurts to see you like this, alone, sad, crying all day, not eating…” Ronke looked at her. “I’ve learnt from experience that forgiveness is the cure to bitterness. Bitter pill to swallow but the best.”
“It’s impossible to stop thinking about him for all the right and wrong reasons. The guilt of giving my body to him still gnaws at me. The feelings I have for him are more alive now than ever. Jude crawls all over this house. It had been his idea to have aluminium sliding doors and windows all over the house. He chose most of the furniture, colours, almost—”
“Move back with us. Your room is still as you left it and if you want separate quarters…” Ronke walked slowly toward her daughter.
Modele turned sharply, stopping her advance. “That’s out of the question. I love this house. I’m not going to run away from it just because of Jude!”
“Then you’ll need someone to move in with you. Maybe a friend…”
“You forgot Toro stays here.”
“In the chalet not in the main house with you.” Ronke looked round and flung her arms in the air. “This place is too big for you!”
Modele took a shuddering breath. “Mom, I’ll be fine. Honestly.”
“You need a man around this house. Maybe a day-watch?” She closed up on Modele and drew her into a half-hug. “Fine, the gate is electronically operated and you have enough security gadgets but you need people around you!”
“If you insist, I’ll get one but you must agree with me that I can take care of myself.” Modele rubbed her forehead as fresh tears came to her eyes.
“Your father and I are so worried for you.” Ronke tilted her daughter’s face up and looked keenly into her eyes.
“Mom, I’ll be fine.” She forced a smile. “I’ll get someone, a day watch or gardener or something, and I will be fine.”
Ronke hugged her fully, pressing her head to her breast and smoothing long rich hair she was sure Modele had not combed since the day before when she found the photographs – Jude with a woman on an island. The mass was a tangled mess.
Modele enjoyed the warm embrace only for a moment and pulled back. The smile on her face was pasted. “Mom, what do I get for you to eat? It’s…”
“Nothing. Your father will expect me to have lunch with him…as usual.”
“As though I have a choice.” Ronke sighed. “Come home with me, Modele. It will please your father tremendously.”
“I assure you, I know what’s best for me right now. I know you’re thinking—”
“I won’t harm or poison myself or something. Toro is always in the house with me except for bedtime but you still feel I should have someone around during the day.” She shrugged. “I’ll do that, just for you.”
“I do hope your father understands.” Ronke patted her cheeks. “I wish I do.”