Regina got home at about 6pm to meet Ekene and Miriam fast asleep on her couch. They roused as she let herself in.
“Reggie, how far? How did it go?”, Ekene was rubbing her eyes.
Miriam rose to make room for Regina on the couch. She sat and dumped her bag on the floor. Pulling off her shoes, she lifted her feet to place them on the coffee table.
“What happened?”, Miriam asked.
“Hmm”, she sighed. “The man suspended me”
“Pastor?”, asked Ekene.
“Who else? As if I did what no one has ever done! “,she snapped.
“What did he do to Magnus?”, Miriam asked.
“He told him to come with that horrid wife of his, tomorrow. That was after he informed him that she is having an affair”
“What! Is she really? “, Ekene exclaimed.
Miriam snapped her fingers in shock and leaned forward.
“Apparently, she has a lover at work”, Regina disclosed.
“This is messy, man!”, Ekene frowned.
“No, let her go and defend herself. She went to report us as if she is innocent”
“But I doubt she has such a skeleton in her closet. That alone should have made her keep this out of the public eye. He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones”, Miriam pondered.
“Don’t mind the goat!”, Regina rejoiced.
“Who else was there?”, Ekene asked
“Pastor’s wife and Pastor Ekpiken”
“Hmm. That is serious. What did they say?”Ekene asked
“Who cares? I told them Magnus and I are getting married as soon as his divorce goes through”
“Has he filed for divorce? “, Miriam asked
“He soon will”, she replied
“I find it interesting that he has been talking about this divorce for more than 1 year but is yet to file for it. He is even a lawyer”, Ekene observed.
“So?”, Regina raised a brow.
“Methinks, he doesn’t want to leave his wife”, she said quietly.
“What does that mean?”, Regina shouted and burst into tears. “What are you trying to say? You are very wicked!”
“What did I do now?”, Ekene wondered.
Regina was blowing her nose into a handkerchief while Miriam rubbed her back.
“She didn’t mean any harm”, Miriam appealed.
“Ekene is just selfish. Why can’t she be happy forme? I have never been jealous of your relationship with Fred. Why can’t you be happy for me?”Regina cried.
“This is another woman’s husband we are talking about here”, Ekene reminded her.
“He would never have married her if he met me first”
“But he married her! They have 2 children!”
“He is the bone of my bones! ”
“Stop this, Regina! Stop it!”,Miriam raised her voice.
“Leave me alone”, she shook her hand off.
Miriam and Ekene exchanged glances and kept mum. They hung around for 2 hours and left after making dinner for her and seeing that she was calm. In the car, Miriam was thoughtful.
“What’s on your mind? ” Ekene asked.
They were in Ekene’s car. Miriam had let a neighbour drive hers home for her from church.
“Kene, I don’t want to end up like Reggie. I need a godly man. Please, give me that your formula, I beg” she replied.
“I worry for our friend”
“This is bad. Do you know she said she has not been having the nightmare since she and Magnus decided they are in love with each other?”
“Yes. That may be why she is clinging to him”
“Believing that it is a sign from heaven”
“No, no. God does not contradict his word. Adultery cannot be made right by sweet dreams”
“Unbelievable! “, Ekene clucked her tongue. “How do we rescue our friend?”
“We can only pray”
“This is a hard one”
“God can do anything”
“Fred, shake my hand. You’re a man!”, his dad extended a hand to him.He and Aunt Nwando were giving him the lowdown on the proposal because he was out of the country when it happened.
“Thanks, dad”, Fred beamed.
“Nwando, that was great”, he turned to pat her back.
“Thank you. Anything for my son”, she winked.
“I didn’t want him to develop cold feet”
“Cold feet? I was very sure she’ld say yes. Haba! Am I not a great catch!”, he boasted.
“You are my son”, his dad slapped his thigh laughing. “An accomplished doctor, with his own car and house, faithful believer, soon to become a consultant. What’s not to love?”
“Yes, you’re a great catch but, Ekene is a wonderful girl. She is your reward”, Aunt Nwando remarked.
“Oi. I agree, Aunty. No contest”, Fred acquiesced.
“What did you buy for me?”, She asked her brother in law.
“I got you the iphone you wanted”, he stood up to get it from his room.
“Yay!”, Aunt Nwando clapped in excitement like a little girl. “Jehovah over do, thank you” .
He returned with a package of gifts and gave it to her before sitting down. She accepted it and began to rifle through it eagerly.
“Nkoli sent some pefumes and shoes too. She indicated which are for you and which are for Ekene”, he went on.
“Thank you, brother. I meka”, she happily began to fiddle with the phone.
“How about me?”, Fred pouted.
“Agadi nwoke, were you expecting gifts?”, his dad smirked.
“Chai, it’s not fair, O”
“I got an ipad and a wrist watch for your wife. You can thank me for that”,Fred’s dad teased.
“Thank you, sir, on her behalf”, he smiled.
“Your sisters sent her a big package of dresses, jewelry and what not. I nearly got charged for excess luggage”
“You don’t say”, Aunt Nwando remarked.
“Women and fashion”, he shook his head.
“Daddy, that’s what I see O! Ekene and Aunt Nwando make my life miserable, educating me on colour blocking, couture, avant garde, and all sorts”, Fred complained.
The three laughed as they continued to trade banters. Shortly, the cook appeared to invite them in from the patio for lunch. They went in still laughing and making jokes. It was a Saturday and they had all day.
“Good evening, sir”, Pastor Ekpiken greeted.
“Good evening. Please sit down”, Pastor Shedrack responded. “Let’s give mummy a few minutes. She and Pastor Adio will be joining us shortly”
“Yes, Pastor”, he nodded.
“Would you like some juice? ”
“Yes, thank you very much”
Pastor Ekpiken was sitting on the sofa in Pastor Shedrack’s office. He was casually dressed in jeans and a T shirt. Pastor Shedrack was wearing a linen shirt on capri shorts. It was a public holiday as the nation was honouring a muslim festival. They had agreed to meet just to thrash some issues, especially that of Magnus, Ijeoma, and Regina. While they helped themselves to juice and pastries, they watched a match being shown on the TV. Both were fans of the same club and though it was a repeat broadcast, they were getting absorbed when Mrs. Shedrack entered.
“Football? No, no, no, that is not why I left my house today”, she reached for the control and turned it off.
Both men groaned, then smiled as they met her scolding gaze.
“Good morning, ma”, Pastor Ekpiken greeted.
“Good morning, Bassey. How is Idara?”, she took a seat.
“Very well, thank you”
“Good morning Pastor Shedrack, Pastor Ekpiken, Mummy”, Pastor Adio nodded in turn as he entered and greeted before sitting down. They all responded warmly.
“So we should all be at home but I wanted us to talk about this in the office because it is a serious issue”, Pastor Shedrack began.
They all shifted and sat up in their seats.
“We have a case of adultery on our hands. This is a scandal that could blow out of proportion. Sister Regina is a long-standing member of this church”, he went on.
They all nodded.
“That’s true”, his wife concurred.
“She has served faithfully as an usher for years. Financially, she has sponsored some of our major events”, he continued.
“Yes, she and Sis. Uju off set the bill for our women’s event last year”, Mrs. Shedrack elaborated.
“I have personally referred some ushers who came to me for counselling back to her. As their leader, she ought to be the first person they consult before me” said Pastor Shedrack.
The three clucked their tongues in agreement, nodding.
“Bro. Magnus and his wife have been in this church for a while too. Though not serving now, he used to work in junior church before he got married”, Pastor Shedrack explained.
“Ijeoma volunteers for many events in church”, Mrs. Shedrack volunteered.
“You can see that we cannot wash our hands off this case”, he turned to Pastor Adio. “You were away last week. Ijeoma and Magnus have been having problems in their marriage. He met Regina, who helped him clinch a retainer, and started an emotional affair with her. Ijeoma, on the otherhand, was ‘involved’ with her supervisor at work, a certain Chike. Short of getting graphic, no one is sure how far these 2 actually went, as neither will say. The thing is they want a divorce. Regina and Magnus want to get married”.
There was silence as the audience mulled over his words. Pastor Adio scratched his head, trying to think of something to contribute.
“Do they intend for us to wed them?”,he asked.
“Imagine!”, Pastor Ekpiken sputtered. “Is that all you could come up with”
Mrs. Shedrack burst into laughter.
“Adio, sometimes, you worry me!”, Pastor Shedrack scolded. “Is that supposed to be a contribution”
“Sorry, sir”, he apologised.
“We are discussing a potentially explosive matter. Lighter issues have torn churches apart”, he spat.
“I’m sorry, sir”, he repeated.”So, on to the matter at hand. At our last meeting with both parties, I told us to pray about it and come with a wisdom for them. What say you?” , he looked round the room.
There was some silence. Mrs. Shedrack adjusted in her seat and put her chin in her hands. Pastor Ekpiken was tapping his foot, deep in thought. Adio bowed his head, trying to look as interested as possible.
“Yeah?”, Pastor Shedrack prompted.
“Sir, why don’t we put them in counselling?”, Ekpiken suggested.
“Okay…”, Pastor Shedrack nodded.
“We should give them 3 months and tell them that if after that they insist on going their separate ways, we won’t intervene”, he expounded.
“Meanwhile, let’s get the prayer team on their case. This is a spiritual matter. What God has put together, let no man put asunder. This is a couple we wedded in this church”, Mrs. Shedrack added.
“Right”, Pastor Shedrack agreed.
“I also think we should invite Sis. Ekene and Miriam to explain their roles in this matter. Sis. Ijeoma was very bitter about the fact that they knew of the affair and kept it from her”, Mrs. Shedrack suggested.
“Did she expect them to betray their friend?”, Adio asked.
“Apparently, they befriended her, sort of”, Ekpiken clarified.
“They all were attending that Elyon fellowship. You know the one Amina, Pastor Musa’s wife, organizes on Saturdays”, she put in.
“Okay, I know of it”, Adio nodded.
“They have to answer for their role in everything. Let’s adjourn guys. I am hungry”,Pastor Shedrack concluded.
TO BE CONTINUED.
*I meka : You’ve done well
*Agadi nwoke : Old man
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Cheers, Dr. N.