A rose by any other name, p.7
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       A Rose by Any Other Name, p.7

           Nia Eze
 
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  "You have a funny way of showing that you're concerned." he had bit out sharply, his tongue bitter with the taste of dawning defeat.

  "It shouldn't be of any concern to you." Jude had responded just as sharply in return.

  "I would say that as her friend, it is."

  "Friend!" Jude had scoffed bitterly. "Is that what we are calling it these days? Friends?" When Majid had not responded but had continued to stare Jude down with all the loathing he had been feeling at that moment, Jude had gone on.

  "Tell me, friend, is it when...do you honestly think I would just let you wreck my home? Let you take my wife away from me?"

  Majid raised a mocking brow at that question and had been surprised at the steeliness that had stolen over Jude's expression in return.

  "It would be over my dead body!" His voice had had the force of bullets piercing Majid's flesh as he had spat them out. "You are just the sort that would make her miserable."

  The force of anger mingled with bitterness propelled Majid down the steps to stand toe to toe and face to face with Jude.

  "Why? Because you couldn't keep her happy? Because she is more woman than you apparently can handle and so I can't?"

  "Because she's mine! We stood before the Lord and we made vows, in His Name! And in spite of what's going on with us, if there is one thing I can trust, it's that Keira loves the Lord and she will not take His Name lightly."

  "Then what was she doing with me?!" Majid asked in derisive tones even as his heart broke in pieces. "Why was she with me?"

  "Beccause we are all human. We all fall short sometimes. Keira would come around and when she does, if she had ended up with you, she would have hated herself."

  "Why would you be so sure of that?" Majid had challenged even as his eyes said that he knew what would come next.

  "Because she loves me as well." Jude had stated simply with an absolute conviction that had had Majid stepping back from him.

  "You may have beclouded her mind for awhile but it's me that she loves." Jude reiterated.

  Majid had been speechless in the face of such quiet conviction. For some unfathomable reason, it was in that moment that he accepted just how badly he had wronged the man, the man that was so obviously in-love with his wife.

  The door on the passenger's side swung open and Agnus hopped into the car. He took one look at Majid's face and sighed as he slammed the door shut.

  "I take it you saw them." he commented as he belted himself in.

  "I take it you saw them." Majid responded testily as he backed out of the space. Agnus heaved another huge sigh dramatically.

  "Here we go again! Are you going to retreat into hibernation again?" he asked with an eye roll but couldn't completely mask the worry in his voice.

  Majid sent an eye roll his friend's way as well. "I'm fine. I'll be fine." he replied.

  Agnus riffled through the shopping bag he had brought with him from the mall. "So check this out. Got the new film that wa..."

  "Why are two of us, successful, handsome and well-to-do guys hanging out on a Saturday all by ourselves getting excited over spy-thrillers...?" Majid eyed the VCD that Agnus had brought out of the shopping bag with such venom that it should have exploded. "Are the ladies in this city blind?" he asked jokingly.

  Agnus scoffed as he settled more comfortably on his seat.

  "Speak for yourself." he replied as he pushed down his sunglasses on his nose to cover his eyes and began to flip through radio stations on the in-car stereo. Majid let him channel surf while his mind wandered around.

  "I need to leave this town for a while." he announced suddenly. Agnus turned to him sharply and said.

  "I thought you said you were fine."

  Majid nodded as his throat bobbed with suppressed emotion. When he was certain he had himself under control he continued.

  "And I am. I just need some time to...just some time." he concluded.

  Agnus nodded his understanding. He would miss his friend while he was gone but he understood. He looked at Majid's profile as he drove for a long minute and then turned back to looking out the window of the car.

  They had all been scarred by the events that had happened. His friend would never be quite the same guy he had been before Keira. It had all changed him for the better in many ways. He had grown up some, matured some. He would be a better man in many ways for the experience. He wondered at the cost though and was glad it had not run any higher than it already had.

  "I'll miss you men!" he said simply. Majid just smiled wryly as he continued navigating the car along the busy road.

  CHAPTER 17

  Keira kept waiting for the other shoe to drop but so far it had refrained from doing so. She was not so sure why not but she was thankful for it.

  Life was good, almost too good to be true. Jude was...well, Jude was always going to be Jude. There was no need wishing him to suddenly become more spontaneous or less insular. He was Jude and she was learning to appreciate him for who he was.

  He was patient to the point of heroism with her. That patience was shining through right that moment as she got herself worked up over the invitation card that had arrived that day by hand.

  "What if he is there?" she asked him for what must have been the fifteenth time since she got in from the shop.

  "Keira! You have not even opened it. How do you know that he sent it this time?" Jude queried as he busied himself eating from his plate of finger food and trying to keep up with the ball game on television at the same time.

  Keira was tempted to snap off the television in exasperation.

  "Jude! This is serious!" she exclaimed. Jude finally dropped his plate on the side stool closest to him and muted the sound on the TV.

  "Okay. What do you want me to do when you won't open it?" he asked patiently, like he was trying to explain an obvious fact to a five year old.

  Keira eyed him before sighing. She picked up the envelope with the invitation card still in it from the table where she had dropped it and held it out to Jude.

  "Would you open it for me?" she asked in a little girl voice that had Jude rolling his eyes at her. He took the envelope from her and slit it open. He pulled out the card and scanned through it before handing it over to her.

  "It's an invitation to this year's Forum as usual but..." he paused dramatically and Keira felt her breath suspend in worry.

  Jude smiled as he continued, "It's not to you per se but to the MD, Beautiful things Gallery and Gift stores. Oh! That would be you wouldn't it?" he finished with all the dramatic flair of a stage actor as Keira gasped and grabbed the card out of his hands. She read through the card avidly.

  "And it's not from Nuclear Inc! It's from the Planning and hosting committee!" she squealed and Jude could not help the answering laughter that burst from him. Her excitement was infectious. She hit him playfully on the arm.

  "Why aren't you surprised?" she asked and stuck out her tongue at Jude. "It's a big deal!" she said.

  "Of course it's a big deal." Jude agreed enigmatically.

  Keira narrowed her eyes at him. "Jude?" she queried.

  "You do remember that my firm is on the planning and hosting committee for the Forum?" he reminded. Keira nodded her head in response. Jude said nothing else for a while and at Keira's continued silence, raised an eyebrow.

  "Are you saying...?" Keira cocked her head at him as the puzzle began to fit in her mind. "Did you wrangle this for me?" she asked.

  Jude shrugged as he picked up his plate and continued eating, turning the volume back up on the TV.

  Keira gently took the remote out of his hand and turned the mute button back on.

  "Thank you." she said softly because it was the easiest to say of all the myriads of comments and thoughts running through her head.

  "You're welcome." Jude mumbled diffidently, stuffing his mouth with food.

  Keira put her arms around him in a tight embrace and leaned her head on his shoulder. She turned the volume back on on the television and
dipped her hand into Jude's plate to steal a piece of fried meat. Jude swatted her hand away playfully but did not succeed in stopping the piece of meat from popping into her mouth.

  He looked at her for a long moment and shook his head in amusement. He then pulled her even closer to his side as they both continued to watch the ball game.

  THE END

  GLOSSARY

  Nne - Mother, or an endearment for a female person.

  Nna - Father, or an endearment for a male person.

  Oyibo - a colloquial word for a Caucasian or extremely light skinned people of African descent.

  Na wa for una - A colloquial expression indicating amazement at behaviour or circumstances.

  Hiahn - colloquial exclamation.

  Jollof - a method of cooking cereals and/or legumes where all the seasonings and ingredients for a sauce are cooked in the same pot as the cereal and/or legume creating a unique and often spicy meal.

  Ogini - 'What is it?'

  Chukwu no n' olu - 'God is at work.'

  Ozugo - 'It is enough'.

  Ponmo - the hide of cattle and other animals (mammals) boiled till it is soft enough to eat.

  Mede-mede - colloquial for things considered extra nice and rich, especially food.

  Abeg - colloquial for 'please'.

  Awon - 'this', 'those', 'these'.

  Ati - 'and'

  Orisi risi - a term of 'and all sorts of' usually used colloquially to refer to a meal which is cooked with a variety of meats.

  Oga - 'Sir' indicating a 'proper' respect for a male person who is either older than you or belongs to a higher social strata.

  Wahala - 'inconvenience', 'discomfort', 'trouble'.

  Jo - 'please'.

  NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

  I hope that I did a better job of editing this story than I did with my previous book, Transgender J.

  I hope you enjoyed reading A Rose by Another Name as much I enjoyed writing it.

  I would really enjoy hearing from you if you did. Drop me a mail on [email protected] or [email protected]

  Turn the page for excerpts from my upcoming books.

  Love, Nia.

  An Excerpt from SKYLINE, a novel by Nia Eze.

  Coming soon!

  CHAPTER 1

  “He graduated magna cum laude from the American university he attended.”

  “He. Is. So. Cute!!”

  “Oh my goodness! They’re like…super wealthy.”

  “My elder sister used to date one of their cousins.”

  Alero placed a hand to her forehead. It was official. It she heard one more thing about the Adenirans and their golden son, she was just…

  “Alero! I’ve been looking all over for you.” Maggie, Alero’s best friend for years and years scolded as she sashayed towards her.

  “Was right here.” Alero smiled. “It was getting somewhat stuffy so I came out for some fresh air.”

  Maggie cut her a skeptical look that communicated her patent disbelief.

  “You were a bit overwhelmed.” She chided. Alero began to deny it but Maggie cut into her. “They are a bit much. You get used to them though.” She continued. “Give it time.” She admonished.

  Alero shrugged her shoulders. It did not matter to her one way or another. She was probably not going to ever be friendly with the Adenirans. The only reason she was at this party was because she had been at Maggie’s place for the week and it would have been awkward to leave her at home while the rest of the family went out for the evening and so she had tagged along.

  “Come on. I want you to meet Banjo and his sister. They’re pretty nice people so no worries.” Maggie said as she pulled Alero along, half dragging her actually.

  Sensing that there was no escape, Alero relented and followed docilely feeling like she was being led to slaughter.

  “Hey! You guys! Don’t you dare start out with me!” Maggie yelled as they reached the group hanging around Banjo. It was a pretty exclusive circle of super rich kids. Alero had indeed met some of them before while hanging out with Maggie.

  She had never really gotten comfortable with this clique. She had met Maggie on the playground of the nursery school they had both attended and it had been love at first sight for both of them. They had been best friends ever since. Over the years, Mr. Okwara, Maggie’s dad, had made a killing in the financial market. Money had become available to them in abundance and the Okwaras had moved up in life. They had relocated from the Average middle class neighbourhood where Alero and Maggie had grown and moved to the highbrow enclave reserved almost exclusively for the supper rich with the occasional high ranking government official thrown in. It was a testament to the love between both girls that their friendship had withstood the rigours of cross-city visits and the really wide change in their social status.

  “Where did you get off to Maureen?” someone asked.

  “Had to go get Alero.” Maggie responded.

  “Hey Alero!” Mide, one of the guys sitting in a loose circle around the star of the moment hailed. She had met him a few times at Maggie’s as he was good friends with her brother.

  “Hello Mide.” She responded, a shy smile touching her lips.

  “It’s been awhile since we saw your pretty face around these parts.” He commented. “Asked Maggie after you and she was babbling something.”

  That earned him a hard rap on the arm from Maggie. “I do not babble. And stop making those gooey eyes at my friend! Alero ignore him. He’s an inveterate flirt!”

  Alero wished the ground would open and swallow her up right that moment as it seemed to her that all eyes turned to the ‘intruder’. The girls seemed to eye her up as if she were a potentially dangerous rival that had snuck up on them unsuspected while the guys seemed to look at her again just to be sure they hadn’t missed something.

  “So you’re Maggie’s friend we’ve heard so much about.” A voice drawled.

  Had Alero been told that a body could react sexually to a voice, she would have insisted that it was not possible. Her pebbled nipples would have mocked that belief. She turned slowly, mortified at her own body’s reaction to face the speaker. It was Banjo. She knew that. She had just spent about half an hour outside with girls that had giggled every time he walked by or looked in their direction.

  “Ally, the dude here is Banjo.” Mide indicated with his thumb. “Banjo, Ally.”

  Alero had to smile at that. Only Maggie and their families called her ‘Ally’. To everyone else, she was Alero. What did Mide mean by calling her Ally just now? She peeked a glance at him and he winked at her in response. She quickly averted her eyes back to Banjo, Adebanjo Adeniran of the great Adeniran dynasty. She had to disagree with those girls, he was not cute. Cute, was something two year old boys were and this specimen, was definitely older, much older than two years old. She began to smile a greeting at him when the look in his eyes stopped her cold. Gone was the drawling, charming young man and in its place was…disdain. Alero resisted the urge to look down at herself to see if her embarrassing reaction to him was on display.

  “Hello.” She said coolly.

  To which he responded with a nod and continued his conversation with his friends. Clearly, she had been dismissed. Alero looked around till she spotted Maggie holding court at a corner of the living room. The parents were at the swimming pool area at the back of the house carrying on with their own party leaving the young adults all to themselves indoors. Alero slowly made her way to where Maggie chatted vivaciously with her friends. For the first time in all their years of friendship, Alero felt resentment for her friend. The burn of the snub she had just been given seemed too much for her to bear. It hadn’t been the first time. There had always been subtle shade thrown at her over the years as she had become Maggie’s ‘tag-along’ friend but she had never let it get in the way of her friendship with Maggie. But suddenly it mattered! Oh, how it mattered and she had had enough of it.

  She tapped Maggie on the shoulder to get her attention.
r />   “Hey Ally. I thought the guys intended to keep you for a bit there. They all….”

  “Would it be alright if I went on home…to your house?” Alero interrupted. Maggie’s smile immediately extinguished.

  “Why? What’s wrong?” she asked, concern marring her beautiful features.

  “I just…I’m feeling a bit dizzy. Perhaps I just need to lie down for awhile.” Alero finagled.

  “Did you eat something…? Did something happen over there?” she indicated the group Alero had just left with a jut of her chin. Alero felt her head turn involuntarily and her gaze clashed with Olly, Maggie’s elder brother. The slight frown of concern on his face was the final straw for Ally.

  “I can go on by myself. You don’t need to leave on my account. And it isn’t that far. I know my way home…to your house.”

  “Ally?” Maggie asked her frown of consternation deepening.

  Ally just waved away her concern and left. As she stepped outside, it felt like the slight breeze washed away the bitterness and pain of the burn she had just been dealt. She may not have realized it then, but in that moment, a few things shifted in her mind that would significantly shape her life in unexpected ways.

  An Excerpt from UNDEAD - Sarah Jane.

  A novel by Nia Eze.

  Coming soon!

  NB: Some characters from the novel Transgender J are in this story!

  CHAPTER 1

  Sarah Jane made her way around the building back to the front door. She had been around it twice but had not seen any other way in. It had to be the front door. She looked again in the space that 'good ole Doctor Greene' had said the key would be in half hoping that some miracle would have occurred since the last time she checked and the key would be mysteriously where he had said it would be.

  Sarah Jane blew out a huff in her disappointment. She felt a whirlpool of bitterness opening up somewhere in her, threatening to overwhelm her. She had been back here every month for the past year hoping against hope that she would somehow gain access into the building. No such luck! The place seemed locked down tighter than a crypt. She pulled at the handle to the front door in frustration and rattled it noisily. It wasn't budging, just as it hadn't budged all the other times.

  As she made to pull her hand back, another hand closed in around hers from behind her. She jerked in shock and reflexively pushed back at the person who had come up so quietly that she had not heard. She felt, even as she turned, the person flung back down the porch steps to the yard. She watched as the person lay still for a few seconds and then begin to writhe as he recovered his breathe. When he turned to look at her, she sagged against a column holding up the porch.

 
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