Steve and Serena arrived at the Lagos International Airport at exactly noon. Their flight was to take off by 2 p.m. The couple used the extra hours to look around the airport vicinity. The excitement was evident on the face of the couple. Serena’s face looked bright as the morning sun. Her inner joy was visible even to outsiders. She could also feel the beats of the joy in her heart. To Serena, it was unthinkable some years ago that she would be embarking on a honeymoon trip with a man she would call her husband. She had gone on many business trips to different parts of Nigeria but those trips had always been in the company of men who had decided to abandon all decency to embrace immorality and infidelity.
This trip, she said to herself while Steve spoke with a doorkeeper at the entrance of a restaurant. Is different for me and I believe it’s going to be a unique one too. I never believed a man could offer the very bad Serena a honeymoon not to talk of a home. She thought. No condition truly is permanent. Though it’s a fact for the gods to explain but I know every condition can take a new turn. This is just one of the rare cases. But come to think of it, I nearly bungled the whole show with my mood some moments before we left the house. Thank goodness, I spoke my way out of it. Oh come on baby Serena, you don’t do that again. Uuuh… I don’t think that was any fault of mine either. Some strange thoughts just brought old memories of my dirty outings and stay at the same Abuja and the same hotel to me and I just could not handle that. I wonder why I chose the same hotel. Anyway, Steve told me that anything I’ve done before marriage belongs to my past and the past are meant to be forgotten. I think I should leave it there and never allow such to happen again. She concluded in her mind.
Steve ushered his wife into the restaurant after his discussion with the doorkeeper and took her straight to one of the empty chairs and tables in the restaurant. He quickly walked up to the Attendant to order drinks and snacks for himself and his wife.
Steve was as excited as his wife for this honeymoon trip. He had dreamt about a day like this. Although he never thought of the possibility of leading a harlot to the marriage altar not to talk of going on a honeymoon and offering his home to a harlot.
I, he thought as he waited for the Attendant to attend to him. Still can’t believe this is a reality. What a twist of fate! So, Steve, you’re in love and married to a harlot. Oh… but Serena is no longer a harlot, he’s now my wife. Old things and habits have passed away.
“Sir,” the Attendant said, cutting short his thought. “What can we offer you?”
‘Oh,” Steve replied. “Can I have two bottles of Schweppes and two meat pies?”
“Ok sir, I‘ll get that for you.”
The Attendant puts the drinks and the snacks on the server tray and punched the computer in front of him which rolled out a receipt which he handed over to Steve. Steve paid for the drink and snacks, took the tray and headed back to their table.
The 1-hour flight landed at the Abuja International Airport at exactly 3.10 p.m. The two couples continued to enjoy the joy of the moment as they held hands looking for a cab to take them to Melianda Hotel.
“Eh,” a man said smiling at Serena the moment they stepped into the hotel lobby. “Serena girl, how’re you doing?”
“Eeeeh, I’m fine Chief.” Serena replied disengaging his hands tightly held by her husband and ran to hug Chief Thomas.
“Why’re you here sweet love?” Chief said looking in the direction of Steve who stood speechless at the entrance of the hotel lobby.
“I’m here on a visit Chief.”
“For the usual?”
“Oh,” Serena replied, still smiling. “Common Chief, I’m not here for the usual but the real deal.”
“And,” Chief Thomas moved towards Serena, bent his head and whispered. “Who’s that?”
“Oh, that’s my husband,” She said turning back to look at her husband.
“Husband? Are you now married?”
“Yes Chief,” Serena said still smiling and pointing her thumb to her wedding ring tightly packed into the fourth finger on the left hand.
“You left the trade?”
“Yes I did’
“That’s interesting,” Chief Thomas said startled. “Wonders truly shall never end. When I set my eyes on you some minutes ago, I thought the gods just arranged a chance meeting for me with the sweet stinging Serena.”
“Not any more chief.”
“Not anymore. Sure of that?”
“Yes it is Chief”
“Well,“ Chief Thomas said trying his best to hide his shock. “I’m here on a business trip at Abuja.”
“And you came with the usual?”
“No Serena, I came here with business friends.”
“Yes, all males.”
“Are you also putting your foot on the change path?”
“Change path. What do you mean by that?”
“I mean have you stopped doing the usuals like me?’
“Oh not yet. I‘m expecting a visitor tomorrow.”
“Well, Chief I’ m wishing you all the best.’
Serena ended the discussion and suddenly realized he was formerly in the company of his husband some moments ago. She ran back to where she left him and noticed he was not there again. She looked to the right and left sections of the big hall of the hotel and found her gloomy-looking husband seated on one of the chairs in the hall.
“I’m,“ Serena said, after taking her seat beside her husband. “Sorry Steve, that was an old friend. “
“An old friend or an old customer?’ Steve said with hot fury written all over his face.
“What do you mean Steve?’
“I said an old friend or an old customer.”
“Steve, I still can’t understand you”
“Common,” Steve said raising his voice. “What do you take me for, a fool?”
“Steve, you’re shouting.”
“No. I’ve not shouted. My outburst will soon bring down this tall edifice.”
“Steve, what have I done wrong?”
“Eh Serena, you left me and offered a warm embrace to a total stranger and you don’t see anything wrong with that?”
“Chief Thomas is not a total stranger.”
“To you but he’s to me.”
“I know Steve but I still don’t know what I have done wrong.”
“Maybe you’ll need the gods to tell you.”
Serena observed they were already creating a scene at the hotel lobby and she resisted the urge to reply to the last statement from Steve. Steve also kept mute after he observed Serena had stopped talking.
“Can,” Serena said finally breaking the short silence. ”We go ahead to do the next thing on the agenda?”
Steve stood up angrily from his seat but Serena took hold of his hand and dragged him back to his seat.
“Can we stop creating a scene here?”
‘Ok,” Steve said and adjusted his seat. ”Can we now go ahead to do the next item on the agenda as requested by you, my dearest wife?”
The two couples stood up from their seats simultaneously, held hands and found their way to the booking section of the hotel to book a room.
It was a much tensed first-hour silence for the couple in room 206 of the hotel. The unfortunate event at the hotel lobby had gone a long way to disrupt the early plans of the couple for their honeymoon. It was the most awful way to start a honeymoon for the couple who had intended, especially, on the part of Steve, to use it as a rehabilitation ground and also a binding platform for a blissful marriage. Steve had dropped the luggage and made straight to the bathroom to take a shower after he ushered his wife into the room while Serena dropped her bag on the floor and laid with her back on the bed shutting her eyes as if that would help her to forget the event at the hotel lobby.
What, Steve said to himself while he took his shower in the bathroom. A way to start a honeymoon. He turned off the shower as if the noise of the dropping water was disturbing the flow of his thought. I, he thought. Hope I‘ve not taken the wrong decision. I hope I’m in the right relationship. I hope what happened in Lagos before we left home and what happened some hours ago will not be a regular occurrence in this marriage. He turned on the shower again and smiled wryly. Hope should now become my second name. That, I believe, is going to be the saving grace I need for this marriage, he concluded in his mind.
“Are,” his other mind said to him. “You getting tired already?
“Of what?” he asked his mind.
“Of the game even before the sound of the opening whistle.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Common, Steve,” his mind said to him.
“Aah,” Steve sighed and continued to enjoy his shower.
“Successful team players don’t get tired before a game.”
“Now I understand.”
“You knew the type of game you were getting into.”
“Yes, I know.’
“You knew the type of teammate you’re playing the game with.”
‘Yes, I know… Aah.”
“You knew you need to put on your endurance cap and apparel to have victory.”
Steve groaned and tried to shut the door of further conversation with his mind.
“Remember,” his mind continued. “You said there is decency beneath the personality of Serena.”
“Yes, I know.”
“Remember you said Serena is not a harlot but circumstances turned her into one.“
“Yes, that’s true.”
“Then you should allow all these to be your realities.”
“When you effectively internalize these realities, you will be able to weather the storm and make a success of your marriage.”
“I agree,” Steve said finally in his mind.
He turned off the shower and used the towel to dry his body. On getting to the room, he met Serena still lying on the bed and still with her eyes shut firmly. He quickly went straight to her, placed his two palms on her laps and knelt in front of her.
“I’m sorry my dear.”
Serena did not respond and still kept her eyes shut.
“I’m sorry for my reaction some moments ago.” Steve apologized again rubbing his palms on Serena’s thighs. Serena opened her eyes, looked straight into her husband’s eyes and tried to turn around on the bed to release her thighs from the touch of Steve’s palms. But Steve held her firmly and stopped her from doing so. His palms still moving up and down on her thighs.
“Common,” he said softly. “Serena, I said I’m sorry for my actions.’
Serena wriggled her body on the bed and breathed down heavily. “Steve, I left my cherished trade to be your wife because you wanted it.”
“Yes, I know.” Steve said.
“Steve, I’m a pig and you know that very well before you proposed to me.”
“Aah, Serena I know all these.”
‘If you’ve decided to take a pig into your home as a wife, then you should be ready to take her filth and muds along.”
“No,” Steve said softly with his eyes closed. “Serena you’re not a pig.”
“I’m,” Serena shouted.
“I’m and you know that. I am a harlot.”
“I’m,” Serena shouted again cutting short his husband’s statement. “Once a harlot, always a harlot!”
Steve sighed. He stood up from his kneeling position and sat beside Serena on the bed. He picked her up from the bed and helped her to sit beside him holding her hands firmly.
“No,“ he said. “You were never a harlot. Circumstances and unfortunate situations you had no control over made you take up the job of a harlot.
“Hmmn,” Serena grinned.
“I still have that conviction, Serena.”
“You do? But your reaction some moments ago showed the opposite.”
“That was why I said I’m sorry.”
Serena broke into tears and said, “Steve I never wanted to do this. You pushed me into it. I enjoyed my life as a harlot. I knew I did not deserve any man’s home. I knew I was too bad for a man’s wedding ring. I did not deceive myself and I did not have any false hope, I just wanted to remain the same Serena I had always been. “
The last statement from his wife took some strength out of Steve and he could not find his voice to give a reply. He stood up from his sitting positing and drew Serena to himself holding her head firmly with his two hands so that he could look straight into her eyes.
“Serena,” he finally found his voice. “Even if you‘re not good for any man’s home, you’re good for my home. I love you for who you’re and I’ve vowed to sustain my love for you.’
He used Serena’s handkerchief from her bag to wipe off the tears on her face and dragged her face further towards his face and position her lips in a good position to receive his lips. Serena responded and her lips met her husband’s lips in a sweet and warm embrace. The two love birds were in this position for another two minutes. With Serena’s arms now resting on her husband’s shoulders and wrapped tightly around his neck, Steve knew he had to take the game to the next level on the bed.