Episode 1

She quickly shrugged off her white wedding dress and flung it on the bedside couch, next came the undergarments and all the things
that went with the attire; peeping through the gaping window blinds to see her friends chatting away at the car park. Her best friend who was supposed to be with her; Leah, had been sent off to get a bottle of water she did not need.

The makeup artist said she would
join them shortly, which means she could
arrive any moment. She picked some facial
wipes from the box and wiped her face as
clean as she could and removed all her hair pins and clips.

Now dressed in a casual jeans and a tank top, Chinwe walked down the passage way of the hotel, going the opposite direction of her room, she was very sure her other friends that were in the bridal train were still waiting for her to come downstairs before she would be ushered into the reception party; the
reception of her wedding to Tokunbo Ajayi.

She rushed through the staff only marked
door that was at the end of the hall beside the staircase which took her to the ground floor.

She walked and took the next turning to my right as she heard the voices of her friends coming from the elevator; she has become very conversant with the areas of the hotel, having deliberately stayed back 2 weeks to survey the area. 2 weeks ago, everything was fine; she wanted to get married to Tokunbo.

All things working well, her escape plan
would work. She already called the driver who assured her he was packed at the agreed location to take her to the airport for a flight to…

Chinwe peeped to be sure she was not seen, her friends, Sarah and Leah were chatting as they walked past her at the elevator she was bent over a service trolley, they did not pay her any attention, they were gushing about
how the wedding ceremony had lasted the exact time they estimated it to be, thanks to the officiating minister who was known not to ever waste time, he had in time past coordinated wedding between a man and the absent bride, who was shocked to meet the
departing guests at her arrival.

That particular bride had wanted to look her best and insisted it was “my day and everyone would have to
wait for me”; well, not Pastor Akintola.

Chinwe purposely asked for him, her family had wanted a more ‘senior’ pastor to join their children, offering to have him brought in from the headquarters but she had whined
until they agreed to her choice, the only
choice she had in the matter, everything else had been her parents’ choice; the venue for the wedding, the colours of the decorations, the wedding gowns, the bridal styles and even the ladies in the bridal train were chosen by
her parents.

she was constantly reminded she was the only female child they have and the day must be perfect; perfect in their own definition meant a picture perfect suitable for the newspaper tabloids and the local news; her parents being the well-known socialites in the state.

As she walked briskly towards the end of the hall, she came out at the pool side, the pool was slightly occupied at that time of the day, she took a right turning which led her to the “staff only” apartment, a place the staff kept
all sorts of pool safety tools, as she searched in a box, she found a jacket that matched the ones the hotel staff wear, she quickly pulled it on and pulled on her glasses as she sashayed boldly past the park joining a couple of guys who were exiting the hotel gate at that time,
to her right hand were her friends and some other guests standing with them at the car pack, she walked past them and out of the gate, just holding her purse which had her ATM, her flight schedule and N18,000, walking past her was her makeup artist hurrying to fix her up for the next event; her reception party.

As she walked briskly down the street, she
made a sharp turning at the end of the street, she walked the long distance before dashing to the street that cars hardly drive through due to the bad roads, she squinted against the
afternoon sun, and to her greatest joy, her escape ride was parked right in front of the tree she asked him to. She would be paying him N2,000 more as she already paid him N3,000 the week before.

“Sister, welcome”

Thanks, Hassan, let’s go.”

“Your bag dey inside the booth”

“Thank you”

She simply said and she strapped herself in, the driver revved the engine and off they drove towards the airport. Some few minutes down the long road, a couple of police vehicles sped past them, probably on their way to the hotel to look for her, ”they must have known she was missing in my room now.” The reception was supposed to hold in
a large hall, at the other street of the hotel.

Her back pack was given to him on Thursday, when she thought she would get a flight out of Lagos but no such luck.
If the driver knew she was running away, he would simply drop her off at the nearest stop, because if he was caught with her, he would know she was the daughter of one of the richest men in the country, he drove without
paying them any mind.

She quickly sent a message to the flight
attendant she met some days ago, who
promised to help her check in online through her phone if she arrives late. She pressed on the phone, not familiar with the small screen and the tiny buttons on the keyboard, but she managed to send a message across to her that she would be arriving on time for the flight,
thanking her for her help.

She already ditched her Samsung 5 but not before copying all her contacts on that phone, she bought this new SIM card just yesterday and was using the other phone she collected from her friend to “play the snake game she
missed so much”, the phone can only make

calls, send messages and receive messages
too, any attempt to use the battery at a long stretch, the battery would flatten out.

“This craze people, see as them dey drive, if na another man now, dey for ask him to park”

“Don’t mind them”

“They are always like that, if they should give me a gun, I can kill all of them without shaking, last year, my brother wan join them,
dem dey do recruitment, I tell am, if you join them, we don turn enemy be that o” Ah ah” she replied halfheartedly

“Yes o madam, policemen are crazy people, if you fall for their trap one time, you go know say they no be human at all”

“I pray you don’t fall in their trap, especially today” I said with a heart of prayer

“No, me ke? I drive with sense, especially on Saturdays o, any grab they grab today, the person go sleep for cell till Monday, but if they wan craze totally, they pick people randomly so that they can get their weekend tips too”
“Na wa o”

They drove some minutes again and Hassan’s eyes caught a boy running after a commercial bus to collect his money

“These boys, na God dey protect them o, na so one run last week for Ikeja side wey he almost kill himself.

The cars coming behind him
almost jam him”

Chinwe listened with feigned interest as he narrated the escape of the poor boy to her, she was shaking and nodding her head as he told the story, but her mind was miles away.

The driver was able to move freely and within 20 minutes, they were at the airport.

She counted out some N500 notes and decided to give him extra. She proceeded to the check in point and produced her reservation code,
leaving the grinning and satisfied driver

“Ma, do you have a luggage?” asked the airline attendant

“Just this as a hand luggage”

“Ok, your ID card please,”

She waited as she was checked in, moved to the departure waiting room awaiting her flight to Akwa Ibom state. As she sat at the waiting room, she wondered what stage of the search they were on now, they probably would be at the point of rushing her mommy to the hospital, and her brother would be trying her number. She snapped back to present environment and moved her legs out
of the way for a guy that was pulling his back pack across the spaces in between the rows of chairs.

He took a seat beside her after surveying the other seats that were occupied or with people or objects like their books or bags.

As he sat, he put his earpiece in his ears and listened to some music, it was loud enough that she could hear as the jazz master play on; Yanni, she thought to myself. She would miss
her Yanni collection on the phone she left
behind, she thought.

Track after track she hummed along, the
gentle flow of the symphony washing a cool effect all over her, she was in a trance of the beautiful music.

She has not always loved music where words were made, but has been able to get attached to jazz; they seem to suit every mood.

Introducing to you Chinwe Babalola, the only daughter of her parents Dele and Ngozi Babalola; Dele Babalola, a senator from one of the western states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, an influential man, owner of different businesses in Nigeria and across the borders, married to Ngozi, blessed with 2 children in their marriage and their only daughter just eloped from her wedding reception and before you chastise her on why
she waited this long before taking the bold but crazy steps, well she did not know about him (Tokunbo Ajayi)
until 3 days ago.

she was not able to get an earlier flight out of Lagos to Uyo.

she loved the man she married but she no
longer does, or she could not love him any longer.

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