A ChrisEffe Bliss
Tony Ogum greeted the security man at the gates and rolled up his window again as he sped up the driveway to the Kedem residence.
As he parked in front of the house, he noticed that the hood of Eyram’s Mercedes XL was up, and he wondered if the car was faulty. He parked beside Effe’s car and waited a moment behind the wheel.
He sometimes came to the Kedem residence early in the mornings for three reasons: his house was near, the residence was on the way to the office, and finally he drove through if he had missed Effe for a considerable stretch of time.
On those mornings. he usually had breakfast with them.
He killed the engine and got out of the car. Dressed in a resplendent white shirt, dark-hued tie, dark trousers and beautiful shoes, he cut an elegant figure as he crossed over the magnificent courtyard to the main door.
He rang the doorbell.
A minute later the door was opened by Mr. Ken Kedem. He was wearing a white smock over baggy shorts, and he smiled in welcome.
“Tony, my boy, do come in, come in!” he said enthusiastically. “How’re you doing? Hope your birthday was a good one yesterday.”
Tony smiled and shook the man’s hand.
“Blessed to be a year older, sir,” he said. “But it’s never complete without your daughter, the woman I love and adore. So, basically, it was a rather frustrating birthday for me yesterday.”
“Ah, Effe, Effe!” Ken said as he shook his head. “You need to marry that girl and tie her down, my boy. She came in this dawn, can you imagine? At dawn, crikey, when I was fast asleep, you know, old age. But she has some explanations to do, if you ask me, and we’re not going to spare her.”
Both of them laughed at that.
Tony followed him through to the luxurious living room where Mrs. Ivy Kedem, looking resplendent in a long, flowered dress, was keenly listening to a newspaper review programme on the television. She looked up at Tony with a smile.
“Oh, Tony, welcome,” she said brightly. “Good you passed through! I have your birthday present right here! Was planning to give it to you after church yesterday but that Women’s Movement meeting came on and I forgot all about it. Today, don’t let me forget it, do you hear?”
“Oh, Ma, you shouldn’t have bothered,” he said with a chuckle. “But, thank you for your thoughtfulness. It is always touching.”
“We are just about to have breakfast, Tony,” Ken said. “Do join us. Eyram went to wake up Effe. They’ll be down soon so come grab a seat.”
Making light conversation, the three of them crossed to the beautiful dining-hall and drew out chairs. Breakfast was Quaker Oats and delicious toasted bread which had mouth-watering filling; it was a specialty of the Kedem women and Tony really loved them.
He was served by Ivy Kedem, and he was enjoying his first toast bread and a scoop of oats when the sisters arrived.
Eyram was dressed for the office in a beautiful cream skirt suit and her hair held back in a pony, exposing her beautiful facial structure. She had mild make-up and looked lovely indeed.
She looked at Tony briefly with a smile.
“Tony, welcome,” she said in a rush as she pulled back a chair near her mother. “Hope your birthday was swell yesterday.”
“I was abandoned,” Tony said meaningfully as he looked at Effe.
She was wearing track shorts and an oversized sweatshirt, her hair held in a huge white towel. She had obviously just woken up, washed her face and brushed her teeth, but she was so beautiful and so sexy that it took his breath away. Yes, they were twins, but there was always that air around Effe, an alluring depth that seemed to set her on a different plane, like a rare gem difficult to touch.
It occurred to him that it had always been like that. No matter how close he got to her, no matter how intimate they got, she always had that air that made her unattainable, a subtle barrier that always seemed to keep him at bay, unlike the easy and fluid camaraderie he shared with Eyram.
Effe smiled wanly at him, linked her arms around his neck from behind and kissed his cheek fondly.
“Oh, my love, so sorry for yesterday, okay? Promise I’ll make it up to you this week. Happy belated birthday, darling.”
Tony closed his eyes and relished the feel and smell of her, amazed at the power she had over him. With Effe, he was always out of control, breathless and always chasing her, waiting on her. She did excite him so much.
And he wondered, especially after that poignant moment with Eyram, if he would ever really catch Effe, if her heart could really melt for him, and make her docile in her craving for him. There was a sliver of ice around her, a wall that he wondered if any man would ever be able to break down.
“It’s okay, love,” he said with a relieved laugh. “I know whatever it is, it must have been pretty important.”
Eyram watched them for a moment and forced herself to scoop her breakfast. She was suddenly horrified at the unease she felt seeing her sister and Tony share that affectionate moment.
It scared her!
She had never felt that way before, and she knew it was because of the craziness that had happened the previous night between them. Suddenly, she did not even feel like breakfast, and that was sheer madness, something she could not even contemplate.
Why was this madness happening to her anyway?
She had fought it through the night, and resolved not to think about it even for a second of a second, but here she was; feeling uneasy and a strange queerness about their closeness, a feeling that – if she were to be frank with herself – almost bordered on jealousy!
No, Lord, no!
She screamed to herself and shut her eyes tightly, hoping no one could hear the sudden thudding of her frantic heart. This was insane! Almost angrily, she bit into a toasted bread and filled her mouth with too much of it, and began to cough suddenly.
“Eyram!” Tony said with sudden concern and got to his feet, his expression tender. “Are you alright? What happened to you?”
There was an awkward moment just then when everybody just stared at Tony with varying levels of surprise. But not Effe. She did not even appear to notice the strange emotions that Tony had just exhibited.
Eyram reached for a jug and poured a little water into a glass and took a sip. Her hand trembled, and Ken looked at her hand then at her cold face.
“Just choked on bread, Tony,” Eyram said without looking at him.
Tony smiled nervously and sat down again. He hurriedly reached for an empty bowl and reached for a ladle to serve Effe, but Ken looked at him with stern eyes.
“Hey, young man!” he said with mock severity. “She can take her own food after gallivanting through the night like a ferret! Give her the bowl to fetch her own breakfast!”
They all laughed, and Effe put an affectionate arm on Tony’s shoulder.
“Don’t mind this old man, darling,” she said with a charming smile. “Please pamper me!”
Tony smiled and served her with a plate.
“Pamper you after you abandoned him on his birthday? Young lady, maybe you need diapers, I can tell,” Ken said, and once again they all laughed.
Effe reached for a loaf of toasted bread.
“Sorry about yesterday, really sorry. But what happened was complicated. I’m no longer with BKI,” she said mildly. “Yesterday, I got offered a position at SPF as assistant forensics officer. I took it.”
“Yeah!” Tony shouted and dropped his bread, turned around and wrapped his arms around Effe. “Congratulations, darling! Oh, yes! I knew you were going to get there sooner than later!”
It was pleasant news for all of them, and Eyram momentarily forgot her disconsolate mood and smiled with genuine pleasure; she was aware of how badly Susan Biko had been treating her sister.
“Oh, thank God!” Ivy Kedem exclaimed. “Congrats, darling!”
“Is Susan Biko aware yet?” Eyram asked as she bit into a toasted bread.
“Happened right in front of her!” Effe said with a happy laugh. “You should have seen her face, Rammy, as Sir Lancelot Agyei laid into her! Oh, it was so priceless! Lady was in a vegetable mode!”
“Like a zombie dying again!” Eyram said, and she and her sister burst into peals of laughter.
“Meaning a raise in salary and working conditions?” Ken Kedem asked thoughtfully.
“Yes, Daddy,” Effe said with a happy smile. “The whole works. Job satisfaction guaranteed!”
“I hope they don’t drive you too insanely like the BKI was doing,” Ken continued. “Tony has waited enough, Effe. I usually try to stay out of these things, you know, my kids’ love lives and all. But he has been a mighty patient and loving guy. Plus, he’s down to earth and respectful, a great guy. You should tie this down, lady. Marry this poor guy and put him out of his misery! He pines for you!”
There was a moment of sudden silence.
“Ei, K.K. and his lack of tact!” Ivy said as she shook her head. “Legendary!”
“Actually, it is the sweetest words I’ve heard in a while,” Tony said, and this made all of them laugh again.
“I hear you, Daddy,” Effe said gently and smiled at Tony. “Yes, he’s a great guy, and I know I’ve been a horrible girlfriend. But I promise to make you the happiest man after we catch Chris Bawa.”
You don’t even know how to kiss…
The words, unwittingly, crashed into her head, and she almost screamed this time around! It had been playing in her mind through the night like a silly earworm, driving her crazy! And it was as if she could still feel the arms of that despicable man around her, his lips on hers, his tongue probing, gently, blazing down her throat, her ear…
Damn you, Chris Bawa, you damn, bastard… demon!
“Who’s he really?” Ivy asked suddenly, breaking into Effe’s reveries. “He’s all over the news this morning, everywhere! A manhunt has started already for him. Very cute and handsome young man, though, and I found myself asking why he chose to walk the road of a criminal. They say he’s an escaped convict, armed and dangerous.”
Effe sighed greatly and her face went cold as she slowly set her bread down.
“He’s the guy that bombed Train Five-Five-Nine approximately seven years ago.”
Only Eyram was unaffected much, but she saw the look of sudden sorrow on the faces of their parents. Ken sat back and began to cough. Eyram rushed to him with a cup of water.
Tears came to Ivy’s eyes as she stared at Effe with horror.
“He killed Jeffy?” she asked in a voice that was filled with sorrow. “That beast murdered my boy?”
Effe nodded softly, and she had tears in her eyes.
“Yes, Mom, and one hundred and seventy other innocent passengers!” she said darkly. “And not only that, he is responsible for a lot of terrorist acts on the Kingdom of Eden. He was caught when he tried to assassinate His Royal Highness, King Henry Okraku of Eden.”
“Jesus Christ!” Ken said with horror. “He’s a beast! A monster! That bastard!”
“Yes, Daddy,” Effe said grimly. “He was given a secret trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. It took him five years to escape from prison. But I’m now on the case, and I’ll make sure he goes back to jail where he belongs!”
“He doesn’t deserve to live!” Ivy screamed and covered her mouth with a napkin as sorrow filled her heart. “That boy must die! Find him, Effe, find that monster!”
And tears fell suddenly down her cheeks.
“Let’s have breakfast, please,” Tony said gently. “I know you have been reminded harshly of a horrible past. But let’s eat, and thank God that Effe is on this case. This detestable man, Chris whatever, will get what he deserves, that I know. Jeff will have justice!”
They all nodded, and then his eyes finally met Eyram’s fully.
For a moment, a very brief moment, they were locked in that startled look which no one noticed, staring deeply into their souls and unable to break the sudden connection that sprung up between them.
“Thank you, my boy,” Ken said solemnly. “Yes, yes, let’s have some breakfast. Jeffy will be at rest again when that beast is behind bars!”
Ivy Kedem had given Tony a big packaged box which Effe carried to Tony’s car. As he said his goodbyes to the Kedems, Effe stacked the package in his boot for him.
Tony pointed to Eyram’s car.
“What’s with the popped bonnet?” he asked curiously.
“Oh, nothing,” Eyram said quickly.
“Liar!” Effe said as she walked back towards them. “Alternator belt tore, I guess. She asked to use Daddy’s car for the day.”
“Come on, I’ll drop you off, Eyram,” Tony said quickly.
“Nope!” Eyram said, much too quickly, and her sister and parents looked at her with surprise, and she had to shrug and smile. “I mean, I can’t bother you that much, Tony. Coming back home would be a problem if I don’t have a car because of the rush hour traffic. It is better I go with Dad’s car.”
“I’ll bring you back, no worries,” Tony said with a smile. “I’ve got you covered.”
“Don’t mind her,” Ken said. “It’s just a matter of the belt being fixed, and then the mechanic would take the car to her at the office if that’s what she wants. Go with Tony, my dear. I promise to let the mechanic send it over when he’s done.”
“No need,” Tony said. “Let the mechanic take all the time. I’ll be her chauffeur for today!”
“You’re such a darling,” Ivy said with a smile. “Hurry up, Ram. Don’t keep him waiting.”
Eyram hesitated a moment, and then she reluctantly went back inside for her bag. Tony put an arm around Effe’s shoulders and she draped hers around his waist.
“So, I went home early last night,” he said gently.
“Thought the guys gave you a wild night?” Effe asked. “Rammy told me you had something planned.”
“Nothing can replace you, Effe,” he said with a shaky laugh. “I went home. So, the way I see it, you owe me a day off your busy schedule.”
She sighed and squeezed his waist.
“I know, darling,” she said softly. “I’m sure we’ll have Chris Bawa behind bars before Friday, and then we’ll have the whole of the weekend together, my love.”
“Now that sounds exciting,” he said, dropped his head, and gently brushed her lips with his. “And I’m going to hold you to that.”
Eyram, who was coming out of the door, saw this intimate scene again, and she dropped her eyes quickly with a confused little sigh. She had to force herself to smile when she hugged Effe briefly and then got into the car beside Tony.
Effe’s phone rang just then, and when she glanced at the screen, she turned away quickly from Tony who was speaking to her. She picked the call without any word of excuse to Tony and began to move away from him.
“Hello, sir,” she said quickly. “Yes, I’m home.”
Eyram saw Tony’s sad look as Effe walked away.
“I’ll be ready in thirty minutes, sir,” Effe was saying as she walked quickly past her parents. “Yes, I think I know where Chris Bawa would try and go next. Alright, sir. I’ll be waiting.”
When Effe entered the house without a backward glance, Tony sighed and forced a smile as he entered his car and turned the ignition.
“Seatbelt, please,” he said to Eyram who was watching him critically.
“Oh, yes, sure,” she said quickly and fastened her seatbelt.
They waved to her parents and as the car gathered speed, Tony pushed the button that rolled up the windows.
He slowed down at the electronic gate and waited as it moved gently to the side, and then they waved to the security guard and drove out and soon joined the main road to Eden Central.
“You’re not taking me to work, Tony,” Eyram said calmly without looking at him. “You’ll drop me at the roundabout and I’ll take the subway or an Uber.”
He shook his head.
“And you think that will solve the problem we have on our hands?” he asked calmly as he fixed his eyes on her.
“We don’t have a problem, Tony,” she said sharply.
“Oh, come off it, Eyram!” he said, irritated, and hammered the steering-wheel with his hands. “This attitude won’t help. Last night –”
“Last night nothing, Tony!” she cried, and her voice sounded unsteady now. “Don’t even think about it! What the hell do you want to do, huh? Date twin sisters? Are you out of your frigging mind?”
“Don’t be silly, Eyram!” he said angrily and looked at her. “Damn it, give me some credit! I’m not a player, and neither am I some damn ugly Casanova out to have fun! Don’t behave as if I’m some dirty garbage from the gutter! I believe I have a sensible brain in this big head of mine!”
“Good, Tony!” she said with furious eyes. “Then let that brain work and stop your nonsense! Even if I admit there was something – which I don’t, which I won’t – there’s no way I’m going to hurt my sister, do you understand? I love Effe more than anybody on earth, my parents included.”
“I know, Eyram, I know!” Tony said in a confused voice. “And until last night, I was focused on Effe, and I meant to make her happy.”
“You will make her happy, Tony.”
“Oh, shut up, Eyram!” he said furiously. “Effe does not love me! Well, maybe she loves me in her own way, but I’ll never be a priority to her! Her drive is with her job, and now that she has crossed over to the SPF, I’ll just be a liability to her! Damn it, can’t you see what is happening here, Eyram? As unpalatable as it is, as dirty as it might seem to you, we have to be adult about it and address it in a proper manner! You can’t just brush it aside and be cold towards me with the attitude of the proverbial ostrich hiding its head in the sand! We have to face this head-on!”
She turned slightly in her seat and looked at him.
“Solve your issues with her, Tony, and enjoy your life with her!” Eyram said coldly. “If you hurt my sister, I swear I’ll take a knife and carve out your heart from your chest!”
He stared at her, and his handsome face was furious for a while, and then he sighed and shook his head.
“Eyram, you girls are twenty-eight! You’re coming from a relationship, and if it had not been for the unfortunate thing that happened, you would be married by now! You’re the passionate kind, just like me. You’re committed, Eyram. You believe in family! Effe doesn’t even want to have kids! She was asking me the other time if I could consider that because she was not ready for the restrictions that came with motherhood! Her obsession is her work, and she sees a family as a distraction! She had not had any serious relationship until I came along, and even that you virtually forced her into it! Can’t you get it? Effe and me… we will never click!”
“Shut the hell up, Tony!” she screamed at him. “Shut the hell up already! What’s wrong with you? You have written off what you have with Effe simply because of what? The fact that we were in each other’s arms last night? Are you out of your mind? What’s the matter with you?”
“No, damn it, Eyram!” he hissed at her. “Stop reducing it to something dirty and insignificant! You felt it too, and today I was watching you! Every time I held Effe, you felt pain. Don’t run from this one, Eyram! You also feel this thing that has sprung up between us, so you better admit it and face it!”
“Oh!” she hissed at him and her hands balled up into helpless fists on her lap. “Oh, I can smash you, Tony Ogum, damn you! You’re sick! Nothing of that sort happened! Nothing has sprung up between us, you sick bastard! And I feel absolutely nothing for you!”
“Bloody liar! Look at how your face is pained and your lips are shaking, Eyram! You can deny it all you want, but it is there, and I know it is there!” he said grimly. “I wanted you when you were in a relationship with Ebow Mintah, but you were not ready for me. You forced me to meet your sister, and I fell for Effe.”
“Aha, that’s the truth now, you see, you damn cheat!” Eyram said savagely. “You fell for Effe, and you still love her. Maybe you wanted to sleep with her, but she has this thing about being a virgin! Now, you’re sexually frustrated, and you know I was making love with Ebow, so now you began to fantasize about me, hmm? You want a bit of the pussy you think Effe is denying you, right?”
“Oh, you’re so pathetic, Eyram, shut the fuck up!” Tony almost screamed at her. “Effe is an enigma, a cold-hearted beautiful woman every man would want to have, but she will never be conquered, Eyram. At least, not by me. I can fix things between me and Effe, and I can get married to her. Damn, she’s a virgin, and she’ll probably be committed to me, just as I’ll be committed to her. I’ll love her, sure, but she wouldn’t love me. She doesn’t love me, Eyram, not in the way you can love, or the way I deserve to be loved! I did a lot of thinking last night, and I think you and I need to work this out in a dispassionate manner and see the way forward!”
The car had stopped at a traffic light, and before Tony knew what was happening, Eyram’s door was opened and her right leg was already out. There was a car in front of him, and another on his left on the dual carriage road, so he could not move the car to stop her from getting out.
“Eyram, damn it, what are you doing?” he cried.
She looked at him coldly as she picked her bag and got out of the car fully.
“Go back to bed, Tony, and do better thinking!” she said with disgust. “Let me tell you this for a fact, though. Even if you and Effe break off on the best cordial terms, and even if you are the last man on earth, I’ll never, ever, eeeeever, go into a relationship with you, Tony.”
“You’re lying!” he shouted at her. “Look at your face! Your mouth is saying something your heart doesn’t believe! This is not the end, Eyram, do you hear me? This is not the end of the matter! I will force you to face this and admit to it even if I have to spank you to do what is right!”
“You’re sick, Tony!” she shouted at him as tears came to her eyes. “Leave me alone! Don’t do this to me, bastard!”
She slammed the door and moved quickly off the shoulders of the road, joined the pedestrian lane, and descended quickly down to the subway route.
The traffic lights changed to green, and impatient drivers blew their horns savagely behind him.
“Hey, fly over me, assholes!” he screamed insanely in his car, and then he engaged gear and drove off with a squeal of tyres. “Damn those twins! Damn them!”
He did not notice that Eyram had come back to the roadside and was staring after his car with both her hands pressed to her lips.
Her body was trembling slightly and the look on her face was one of sheer horror, abject misery, confusion and helplessness.
And yes, fear.
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