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[STORY] ONLINE ROMANCE (Final Episode 06)

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Online Romance

Episode 06. (Last Episode)

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Are you done so soon?’ Tricia inquired, concern all over her face. I nodded in response and sipped from the glass of wine. ‘That won’t be a problem,’ she said next, her face suddenly relaxed. ‘I will tell the waiters to package it in a takeaway.’
I wanted to stop her but she had already beckoned to a waiter who hurried to squat beside her. Why was everyone squatting beside her? She deftly gave her instructions and the waiter got a tray with which she carried away my dishes.
‘Now, baby,’ she said, turning to me, ‘I want you to know that I love you so much and that I’m prepared to do anything for you. I don’t know why this is so, but one can never explain love…’
It was a question that I desperately needed an answer to too. Tricia was a beautiful lady, the type that would attract any man any day. This, coupled with her rich background, was supposed to make men worship at her feet. Why was she neglecting other – whom I was sure would be there – better qualified guys for me? I sensed danger.
‘I will take you places, do much more for you than you ever imagined, be the best you could have ever wished for, but only on one condition…’
I was curious to know the condition. She had spoken slowly, the slowest I had ever heard her speak and her statement had been heavy, probably the heaviest I would ever hear from her. ‘What’s the condition?’ I asked.
‘Are you sure you want to know the condition?’ She asked in the same slow manner. Why was she employing reverse psychology with me? I was however still curious.
‘Of course, I would like to know it,’ I replied.
‘Do you promise to abide by the condition?’
Now, it was getting scary. Why would she expect me to commit myself to a cause I knew nothing about? I thought of the comfort a person like Tricia could afford me, I thought about the social elevation, the connections and…I was almost giving in. But Ola’s face suddenly loomed into my thoughts, the face wasn’t happy and I found myself overtly affected by the forlorn expression of her face. Was I being warned of something? I also remembered our devotional topic on Samson’s love for strange women. Could I really claim to know Tricia?
‘I can’t make such a promise, I’m sorry,’ I replied, my heartbeats suddenly on the rise. I noticed the brief flash of pain on her face.
‘You don’t have to be, honey. I love you, but I fear someone wants to take you away from me. Is that correct?’
How did I get myself so entangled with Tricia? I could love her, I really could, but not when she made love so obligatory. I remembered the many calls we had made in the short time I had known her, I remembered the number of numerous recharge card pins I had received from her, I remembered the promises she had made, promises that – when fulfilled – could change my life forever, but those largesses increasingly seemed like baits hiding a hook. Where was the hook?
‘I can’t really say so,’ I mumbled, Ola’s face etched in my mind.
‘You aren’t even sure, so pathetic!’ Her voice was unusually strong. I could perceive the metal edge coming on it, a sign of growing anger. She sounded desperate, she sounded dangerous!
‘I’m sorry,’ I muttered.
‘Forget it!’ She snapped, the dreaded tone now fully on. ‘What is it I even see in you…?’ Just then the waiter arrived with a customised polythene bag. Behind the letterings of the restaurant was a portrait which resembled Tricia’s. I couldn’t peer too hard as I didn’t want to appear too neophyte with the workings of Grassland Chops. I hoped Tricia will halt her speech until the exit of the waiter, and said a quick prayer in my mind, to that effect. My prayers were answered, for with great effort, her teeth clenched, Tricia held her outburst until the waiter had bowed and moved away.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said again, hoping the penitential tone of my voice would chill out her tensed state. I was wrong.

[]‘You are not! You are laughing behind that serious façade! You are laughing at me, right?’ her voice stung my ears. I was sure other customers could hear her. A few glances were thrown at our table.
And what was she talking about? Why would I laugh at her? ‘I am not,’ I said softly, shaking my head slowly. ‘Why would anyone…’
‘Liar! That’s what you are! A rotten fucking one at that! A rotten, stinking, motherfucking…’
Where were these obscenities emerging from? I couldn’t believe they were emerging from Tricia Ogbemudia, the beautiful daughter of Senator Ogbemudia, the sweet lady with whom I had spent no less than an hour with every day since we met online. Was this the same person?
I arose; things were getting out of hand…
‘Will you sit right back there?’ She ordered through clenched, now vicious looking, teeth.
I saw some wisdom in obeying her and sat. I wasn’t her match should she want to play dirty and I was even in her territory. Every waiter could come in handy, in handing me the embarrassment of my life, if Tricia so wished. And they already seemed to be picking up the signals for a possible confrontation.
‘That’s better,’ she continued. ‘You’ve been digging around me? Huh?’ As I didn’t know what answer would be acceptable that moment, I maintained a wan expression. ‘So, what did you find out? What did you find out, bitch?!’
‘Nothing,’ I said and her glass of wine narrowly missed my face. It crashed just before the table behind me, sending its occupants jumping to their feet. I was sure some of the wine in the glass would splatter on the man’s navy blue suit. The lady with him was shielded by his frame.
What mess had I gotten myself into? Why was she going bonkers on me? I had jumped up too and she was trying to do same when I heard the sound of onrushing feet and strong hands held her down to the tiled floor on which she had fallen in her bid to get at me. With the two waiters who held her down was Eki, the fair plump lady I had met with her on my arrival.
‘No, baby!’ She cried, ‘not again…’ Tricia was still wrestling with those holding her down. The whole scene seemed surreal; I couldn’t believe it was happening.
Eki gave me a stare I thought was malicious, and was about to say something when another lady arrived with a sphygmomanometer and a briefcase. Eki grabbed the suitcase from her and opened it; it contained syringes, needle rolls, wool pack and vials. So she was a doctor!
What was wrong with Tricia? Everything had been okay just a few minutes back. I knew the questions would soon come, flying at me and tried to prepare my answers beforehand. It was useless; I didn’t even know how the questions will be put.
‘What did you say to upset her so quick?’ Eki threw at me suddenly, catching me off-guard despite my preparedness. She had just withdrawn injection with a syringe from a vial.
‘No…thing,’ I stuttered and was about to say more when she hushed me.
‘You said something to her, of course! She never gets agitated so quickly after a dose.’
A dose? What was she talking about? There was none to ask, everyone was focussed on the now limp body of Tricia. I didn’t even know when she stopped struggling. The body seemed lifeless.
‘Get him out of here!’ Eki barked as she crouched to inject her.
I needed no further prodding as I made for the exit. A waiter followed me. I knew he was supposed to walk me out, but his disposition was that of a friend. We had just walked out of the main hall when he drew closer to me.
‘Are you mad?’ It was only a whisper, but in a censorious tone. I waited for him to continue. He did. ‘What did you think you were doing with Tricia…?’ Oh, so she was no longer the boss? ‘…You are lucky to still be in one piece…’

[]‘What is it about Tricia?’ I managed to ask.
‘Have you heard of the term “intermittent explosive disorder”?’ I shook my head in the negative. I knew, from experience, it was a medical term, but had never heard of it before that moment. ‘That’s what she’s suffering from.’
‘Huh?’ I was surprised by the revelation, though the briefcase containing the syringes and vials had given me an impression in that direction.
‘It involves repeated cases of impulsive, aggressive and violent behaviour which may not be in proportion to the situation at hand.’
‘Hmmm, I will research further on that.’ I really meant to – on the net and my dad’s medical books.
‘Do you know she’s been on a wheelchair for the past eight months?’
‘Are you serious?!’
‘Of course, she had a serious accident while driving her ex-boyfriend. He must have done or said something which activated her fits, resulting in the crash?’
‘So bad?’
‘Yea and the poor guy died on the spot. She can do anything when in the mood. None of us dares to get on her nerves.’
Was that the message Kehinde was trying to pass across? That I was with a potential killer? Was that why Tricia had verbally shoved her off so violently? Now I knew why she had seemed so stuck to her chair, and why she had crashed when she attempted to rise.
I was surprised at the quantity of air I exhaled. I didn’t know I had unconsciously held in so much breath.
‘Thanks, bro, you just saved a life,’ I said in relief and shook hands with him.
He turned back at that point, leaving me to continue my now hastened exit from the premises of Grassland Chops.
I never told any member of my family what transpired that day at Grassland Chops. I carried it all alone until the strike was called off. Even then I shared the information with only Chidi, my closest pal in school. Tricia called and texted me for some time, but eventually stopped, probably discouraged by my non response. I knew she was sorry, from the research I had carried out on her condition, I knew her reaction that day wasn’t of her making, but I also knew I was a lucky chap to know all that when I did. Ola was surprised at the sudden positive change in my disposition towards her. Ivie was too. She gave up trying to pry out the reason after some time, her efforts were clearly yielding no fruits. Ola didn’t ask too much questions herself, it was her desire after all.

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