She marched towards the hut with gingerly steps. She moved like one who was about to steal something in the middle of the night and under the glare of the full moon. Obiajulu’s heart raced with delightful guilt. She smelt of another’s man’s sweat. She also smelt of sin.
Chinedum would want to know where she had gone to. Well, she had concocted a perfectly; one that he could never argue against. She was certain of her husband’s love, and no one could replace her. She had to find a way to convince him to snatch the throne from Ikemba. Once this was done, she would find a way to make Anosike the King that he truly was.
Chinedum had been waiting outside after his dinner. He had found it difficult to go to be without his wife. His eyes were on the stars. He watched as each did a majestic dance in the sky. The moon wasn’t shy tonight. Her light poured down on Ezeudo and his eyes fed from her beauty. It was on bright nights like this that men pondered on deeper things.
Chinedum was considering the words of Obiajulu before she had left the house. Obiajulu was right about the throne. He deserved it. He was a worthy son of the soil. The throne was his birthright, especially now that Ikemba couldn’t impregnate a woman.

“I have a son and a daughter, perhaps the gods had blessed me for a time like this,” he murmured. Before taking a decision, Chinedum did a mental check of all his memories. Ikemba was a good man and had always been nice to Chinedum. When his parents had died, leaving him an orphan, the King’s mother, Ezinne had taken him in. Ikemba had treated him like a brother. Ezinne had raised him like her own son.
Ikemba wasn’t perfect. He was a man of violent temper, but he had the heart of a child. Chinedum didn’t find any fault in him, so he decided to go against Obiajulu’s wishes.

“All my life, the King and his family have been faithful to me. I cannot take the throne unless the gods will it so. Ikemba is the chosen one and his reign would be blissful to the end.” Chinedum whispered the words of prayer as he stared into the face of the moon.
Obiajulu wasn’t going to be pleased, but he didn’t care. Some things were bigger than mortals. If they tried to meddle into the politics of Ezeudo, the gods would become angry.
His eyes were still on the silvery ball that lived permanently in the night sky when he heard a sound. The hunter spirit in him awoke immediately, and he grabbed his lamp. It was the sound of rustling leaves.

“Who is there?” Chinedum barked into the night as he noticed a movement.
There wasn’t any answer. Quickly, the man grabbed the machete that lay next to him and rose to his feet. He was a courageous man indeed. He could kill to protect his household.

“It is I, Obiajulu, the wife of your youth,” she announced her entrance.

Only then did Chinedum release the breath that he held. He was greatly relieved to hear her voice.

“You scared me. Where have you been all day? The children missed you. I couldn’t sleep knowing you were still out there.”
Obiajulu grabbed the bushy sides of his face between her tender palms. And with her seductive smile, she melted his heart.
“I am sorry my husband. I should have told you about my little journey to Ogboagu. I didn’t mean to startle you or get you worried. I had gone to pluck some vegetables from the farm, when a good woman sent word from Ogboagu. My aunt is very ill and I had to go see her,” she explained.

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Chinedum wasn’t upset at all. He knew about Obiajulu’s barren aunt, Ifeyinwa. The woman loved his wife like her own child. They had a bond. He understood why Obiajulu had to travel to the neighboring village at such a short notice.
“You did well, my jewel. How is she now?” Chinedum asked.
“She has a fever, but she would be better by dawn,” she answered.
He was pleased by her show of kindness. He only wished that she showed the slave girl same.
“How are the children? Did they have anything to eat?” She released his face and decided to take rest on the stool next to his’. Her whole body ached from Anosike’s gruff lovemaking. She relished every bit of it. She couldn’t wait to meet with her lover next time.
Chinedum dropped the lamp and the machete on the ground before joining her on his chair.

“Yes, Adaora prepared a delicious meal of yam. Would you like to have some?”
Obiajulu declined, it seemed having a slave wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

“She did well.”

“Yes, she did. You must be nicer to her. My Spirit likes her, so does our children.”
Obiajulu would have been upset by his words, but for the burden that weighed on her mind. She was obsessed with royalty. All she ever dreamt of was becoming a queen and that’s the reason she had married Chinedum in the first place. She had thought that he would be the crowned prince, but her dreams were shattered when the oracle of the gods chose his cousin, Ikemba.

“I will be nicer to her if she does what is right,” she whispered.

The couple fell into a comfortable silence. The wind spiraled around them, raising a little dust. The mighty Udara tree swayed from side to side. These two were oblivious to the shiny bulbs that grew on the tree. Their spiritual eyes weren’t open to see the goddess of the moon leaning on the tree. She had come to see her own, and prepare her for the journey that was ahead.
“It is going to rain.” Obiajulu finally broke the silence but her husband didn’t offer a retort.
When Chinedum was done calculating the consequences of not fighting for the throne, he cleared his throat; in a manner that silenced his wife, for she sensed that her husband was about to say something important. He inhaled a deep breath and glared at her face. Obiajulu’s dark beauty was the same at night. The darkness couldn’t overshadow her loveliness.

“There’s something I want us to discuss. You may not like it, but as your husband and head of this house, my decision is final.”
Obiajulu ran her wet tongue over her lips. She wondered what it was that sat on her husband’s mind. She said nothing. She waited.

“I have no interest in becoming King. Ikemba is blessed by the gods. He is a man of the people. The King may not have an heir, but the dwellers of Ezeudo are prepared to be under his rule for a very long time. When I had nothing, my cousin was there for me. He loved me and treated me like his brother. I would not let greed and ambition get into the way of our relationship. I will not be the first to betray a King.”

To be continued…

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