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Welcome, Queens!

Image copied from Instagram – @meechferguson

This is a gathering of perfection!

For so long, boldly figured girls and women have been looked at with scorn, as though they’d been created by a lesser god, different from the Creator of all. For so long, those of us with curves have received judgements, one way or the other. Most times the curvy ladies have been overlooked for certain capabilities and skills just because they weren’t stick figures…

But it ends!

Being curvy doesn’t mean intellectually handicapped, it doesn’t mean ugly, nor does it mean an inability to live, love and be loved. Chubby people are first human and that comes with all capabilities and emotions that human beings are born with.

ChuBBy is body positive.

ChuBBy is fun.

ChuBBy is standing out and being sassy with your curves.

ChuBBy is living life, being adventurous and loving hard.

ChuBBy is sexy and fiery hot.

Join us!

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Girls – Be Loud!

Hey, ChuBBies.

How amazing are you at the moment? Keep striving, for even that effort is something profound.

As it’s The International Day of the Girl Child (Oct 11) it is necessary to acknowledge girls all over the world.

It is necessary to make sure girls are heard. No matter their size, colour, status, job, religion, career, location etc, it is pertinent that strength be granted to their knees today.

Girls need to be loud. We refuse to be muffled any longer. We refuse to be muted anymore. Our voices matter.

The world needs to allow us be what we want to be. The patriarchal construct needs to be smashed to smithereens once and for all.

So, Girls – Be Loud!

Love and light, ChuBBies!

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A Glimpse

Hey, ChuBBies,

It’s been more than a minute. How has it been? Life interrupts one’s schedule and flow and makes things a bit difficult. But – the main thing is never giving up. Dust yourself up and try again.

So, ChuBBy is back with exciting offers. First on the list is a glimpse to a new book about to be published come October. It’s a small gift to you and an apology after being quiet for some time.

Enjoy the prologue of FAVE OGRE the 3rd and last book in the Retired Navy Men Series by Emem Bassey. Please comment your enjoyment when you’re done. And you can get FAIR ODDS and LIKE OURS, the 1st and 2nd series from here http://lintr.ee/emembassey

Prologue

Five years ago

Chris

“Who even gave us the name Special Boat Service? It sounds like we’re sensual entertainers on a luxury, cruise ship,” Gbenga – our lead on this mission – griped.

There was no helping the snort of laughter that came out of my throat. Chuckles from the other six commandoes of the SBS echoed in my earpiece as we crawled out from the dark, cold water of the Port Harcourt creeks.

This was the second mission James and I were on after over a year of Special Forces training. The first mission had been ceasing the activities of pirates in a small village off the Gulf of Guinea. This one was still on pirates who had kidnapped a foreign expatriate working with one of the oil companies that saturated Rivers State.

With how high placed this expatriate was, the nearest NNS (Nigerian Navy Ship) had been deployed with a Special Forces unit – us – to search and rescue Mr. Tommy Price – white male, 5’7, brown hair, pale gray eyes and a noticeable pot belly. He was to be brought back save and hearty and the pirates were to be decimated. It would be one less gang of rats on the seas.

This was quickly becoming our special mantra for each mission we were deployed for. Our commander said he liked the synergy between James Akai and I. He was the five to my six and vice versa. We had clicked over a shared dirty joke when we’d been in training and since then, we’ve been buddies. James had quickly become the brother I’d never had as I was an only child raised by a widower.

I think his innate need to always be perfect, good and do things right, called to me. I wasn’t a terrible person, but, I had to acknowledge that I wasn’t enthusiastic about always following the rules. James helped me with that even though during training I had still managed to get into a lot of scrapes.

“When you call it The Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service, it doesn’t sound so bad,” Colin commented from his position far off to my left in the dense rain forest we had just crawled into.

Silence followed his comment and then more snorts of laughter erupted on the communication channel. I don’t know what others thought of the name but it still sounded weird. I had never bothered about it before Gbenga brought it up. But now that he had, I’m sure we were all going to make dirty jokes about it when the mission was over.

Like spectres in the dark, we stripped out of our head-to-toe swim suits, opened our waterproof backpacks and wore our tactical gear. James stood beside me as we pulled on dark camouflage combat pants, black skin-tight shirts, black combat boots, belt, knee and elbow pads, Kevlar, night vision goggles and of course, our Tavor rifles, cocked and loaded and then our helmets. Our pockets were filled with extra ammunition, knifes, bombs and all sorts of weapons that we might need.

The SBS was Nigeria’s naval elite fighting force. And the fact that it had been likened to the United States Navy SEAL so many times had made me proud to belong. James had shared the same sentiment.  

“Commando three, report,” Gbenga’s voice requested. His tone had changed from humour to deadly in seconds. He was talking to Rufai, the unit’s tracker who had gone ahead while we dressed.

“Commando three reporting – the south is best to break in, it has less foliage to hide the sound of our approach.  I count seven hostiles outside, armed. There are four huts in the clearing and no sign of the victim.”

“We will be with you in two minutes, over,” Gbenga said.

“Copy that. Over and out.”

“Move out – single file – south bound,” Gbenga commanded and led the way. “Keep your eyes peeled.”

Before we moved, James stopped and checked my gear by wrenching on my Kevlar and weapon belt. It held. I did the same to him and bumped leather clad fists as we followed our unit, bringing up the rear.

Adrenaline pumped in my system as we skulked through the dark bush, using the thin sand path and avoiding stepping on anything that looked like a branch. The slightest noise could alert the hostiles and we would lose advantage of surprise on our side.

When we got to the clearing, we met Rufai, who had remained about a hundred feet behind the thick line of plantain that formed a fence around the hideout. We had to be careful not to trip off any trap these hostiles might have set. It was why we had Rufai.

Quickly, he pointed out the danger points and gave suggestions. Gbenga chose to crawl under twines joined to two plantain stalks. Rufai had discovered the almost invisible trap. An unsuspecting person walking the forest would pull the twin with the lift of his thigh as he walked and the precariously placed stalks, already chopped off, would topple over noisily, alerting the hostiles.

The whispered plan was to spread out. As we were eight, we advanced in twos towards each hut, eyes peeled for the victim. I pulled down my night goggle when I stepped out of the bush and into the clearing slightly lighted by flickering torches. Despite the fact that we had just swum the chill ocean from the ship to this obscure island, my armpit prickled with sweat.

James stood beside me. We shared a nod before taking position – Tavor rifles ready in front of us, we bent over and plunged in. James walked slightly behind me, taking the rear and covering it. Sounds of someone choking as they were being strangled floated through the channel.

“Sub-unit 2 has one hostile down.”

James touched my thigh to stop me from moving forward. We were almost to the last hut when someone rounded the third one, unaware of our presence. He was lean and dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. A lighted cigarette hung from his lips as he stretched his hands to the heaven, groaning.

It was always so exhilarating how stealthy we were. I mean, we were right behind this guy, if he turned slightly, he would catch both of us behind the mango tree. But, he had no idea he was about to die.

James allowed him take another drag of his smoke. As he was about to expel it, he grabbed his nose and mouth from behind. The man struggled, arms flailing as he tried pulling James’ hand from his face. His burning cigarette had been flung a distance away. I appeared in front of him and his eyes widened. My combat knife did fast work of his throat, ending his struggle.

“Sub-unit four has one hostile down,” James reported.

We lifted him into the shadows, making sure our surprise advantage still held. But it wasn’t to be. Soon after that, someone shouted in alarm and gun shots disrupted the silence of the night.

“We’ve been made. Four hostiles are spraying with machine guns. Sub-unit four, take them from behind,” Gbenga calmly commanded.

“Copy that, LT,” James replied tersely.

 Nodding at each other, we had no need for words as we continued behind the mud hut. I had just passed the right side of the forth hut when the mud walls exploded. Someone must have heard our tread outside the hut and sought to shoot blindly. A few seconds earlier or later, he would have gotten me or James. My heart stuttered as I turned to check for James.

He was fine and remaining behind the hole in the hut. Pressing his fore and middle finger together, he pointed forward three consecutive times, meaning I should keep going.

I did.

Nearing the sounds of the hostile shootings, I detached from the mud wall of the hut and went into the trees to have better sight. They were in front of me, also hiding behind trees as they held off the other sub-units.

 Breathing through my mouth, I lifted my Tavor. Holding my breath, I shot off three rounds in quick succession, picking out three of the four hostiles like tin cans on a wall. They dropped like bags of potato. One died with his hand still on the trigger, shooting into the air.

The forth guy flew into the left side of the hut we had just rounded.

“Sub-unit four, three hostiles down, one on the loose,” I reported as I noticed James wasn’t where I’d left him. So, I started jogging back there, eyes swerving from left and right.

More reports of hostiles going down floated in the com-channel. I followed the fourth man who had docked when I was shooting. The left side of the hut was extremely muddy and even in the gloom of the night, I saw his skid marks. Creating my own skids, I followed tentatively, hearing sounds of combat.

When I rounded, I was relieved to see James stabbing the life out of the hostile he’d been fighting with. I’ve no idea if the dead guy is the same that had docked out of sight. I was just relieved my brother was okay.

“Hey –” I started saying but James growled and flew at me. My heart lurched into my throat. It all happened in seconds. His shoulder hit my stomach, ploughing me off my feet the same moment bullets whizzed past my ear. Before I could recover, James shot off his gun in the awkward position which we lay on the ground.

The hostile dropped forward just as our unit guys rounded into the vicinity.

An eruption of more gun shots disturbed our relief. It came from inside the hut we were behind. I recognised the sound of the Tavor and hoped that one of us finally got the hostile inside there. We quickly got to our feet, guns at the ready, silently moving like ghosts, eyes searching for more threats.

“Victim secured and well,” Gbenga announced. “I repeat, victim secured and well.”

“All hostiles down,” Rufai announced seconds later and I finally sighed in relief longer than a few seconds.

My heart raced a mile a minutes as I realised I would have died – twice, tonight. I turned on James and hugged him tight. “Thank you,” I choked even as I trembled in his arms.

“You’re good. We’re good. You did the same for me last time,” he chuckled but I could feel him trembling too.

Unlike the army where their Special Forces were divided into several small units like Amphibians, Paratroopers, Trackers, Rangers and so on, an SBS officer went through an overall training in all departments. We had to pass Airborne and Amphibious Schools plus everything else. However, it didn’t matter that we were experts and went for these missions eagerly. We were also humans and worried about death.

Indeed, I had shot a hostile over his shoulder in our last mission, taking him out before he shot James. But to be the one saved felt different than being the saviour. I felt vulnerable in that moment and my bond with James solidified.

“Good job, gentlemen. Good job,” Gbenga said when we had conveyed Mr. Price – Etehi, the buffest amongst us, carrying him on his back – to the ship. The man had been weak and shaky when Gbenga found him and definitely couldn’t walk on his own.

The ship doctor immediately took him for thorough check up while we shared a drink on the deck, being transported back to base.

“Not bad for a couple of sensual entertainers,” James commented dryly and the deck erupted in raucous laughter, echoing over the vast space of the sea. God, I loved my job.

While the others conversed, laughing loudly, James turned to me, his leather clad fist raised and pointed towards me. “Brothers for life,” he said, smiling at me.

My heart bumped happily. We were not blood, but we were indeed brothers. I made a fist and bumped his. “Brothers for life,” I repeated, meaning it wholeheartedly.

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Holiday Reads (Nigeria)

Hello, ChuBBies!

It’s the Muslim holiday in Nigeria. Happy Eid-el-Kabir to all our Muslim ChuBBies!

It’s always cool to have free days were you relax at home. What do you do with yours?

Some like to read. And there’s a promotion going on Okadabooks that can help these ones get many great books.


booksales

Good news, guys!
My books are on sale on @okadabooks mid-year sales!
🔻
Let me tell you #secrets :-
✓ Duct 5 is coming before year’s end. It’ll be wise to get acquainted with previous characters.😜 This is an opportunity to get all previous four series in one book at #50% off the original price.
✓ Also, the Retired Navy Men Series #3 is showing up in August or September. Get the first two series for less the original prices.
✓ Visit the Okadabooks app to search for titles.
✓ Hit linktr.ee/emembassey and check directly.
✓ Promo ends on July 23rd.
✓ Don’t snooze or you lose.😎
🔻
I write sexy African romance featuring plus size heroines.

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Own Your Crown, Queens!

Hey, ChuBBies!

It’s been a whole month! What is going on with you? The comment section is so open for chats. We can meet up and encourage ourselves.

First off, happy new month to us. This July will be amazing. But first, how are we standing up?

You know, there will always be some of us who exercise or dieting would never reduce. It doesn’t mean we are weird or stuck. But like the pic said – God wasn’t confused when he created different kinds of people.

We are all valid human beings in our different shapes, sizes and colours.

And we can all get loved passionately. We just gotta love ourselves first – passionately.

Accept that body. Refute all trolls. Love self to receive love. There’s someone out there for you. All you need is a step out of the closet.

Love and light, ChuBBies.

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A New Thing

Hi, ChuBBies!

Hoping your month was great. And here we are at the end. Let’s presage the new month and give ourselves something new to be glad about, yeah?

Here’s a new release from Emem Bassey – LIKE OURS. Enjoy the first three chapters. Hope you love it.

Name: LIKE OURS
Author: Emem Bassey
Genre: Romance, a bit of crime
Heat level: 4 🔥🔥🔥🔥
Insta RD: May, 31, 2021.

BLURB
Matt Akang had been killed in a boating explosion – at least, that was the official report released by the Nigerian Navy. No one mentioned the robbery he’d planned and carried out with three other officers – also declared dead. No one mentioned the huge amount of money carted away that night.
Ten years later, Matt Eben resurfaced to save his twin brother’s life. However, returning to being a ghost became difficult, especially when he met voluptuous beauty – Jane Ituen. With snarky Jane in trouble and in need of a pretend fiancé ASAP, Matt offers himself but insists the marriage must be real. The couple are happy even though Matt has a looming dark secret. Everything is unbelievably blissful until someone from Matt’s past shows up for retribution.

RNM
…retired, not inactive. In the Retired Navy Men Series – some left the service honourably, some not so much. However, they aren’t down for the count. Not in action, certainly not in romance. Find these service hardened, gruff men and see how they handle their curvy lady loves…or how their curvy lady loves handle them.

BUY LINKS
Smashwords: https://cutt.ly/JneXwFM
Okadabooks: https://cutt.ly/MnrT4o9
Amazon: https://cutt.ly/nnrYxQ6
Kobo: https://cutt.ly/CnovCLL
Bambooks: https://cutt.ly/xntTTfV
Add to Goodreads: https://cutt.ly/MntEurU

Chapter One

Ten years ago

Matt

“You’re too loud,” I huffed, stopping the undulation of my hips. My breath came out harshly, blowing the tendrils of hair on Laura’s nape.

I had her pinned on the wall beside her bedroom door. Her long legs circled my lean hips, dick buried in her pussy. My jeans hung halfway down my thighs, my arm muscles bulged from bearing most of her weight. For a slender woman, she sure had considerable heft. Perspiration glistened on our dark skins, making the whole ordeal irritating.

We shouldn’t have done this – at least, not now, especially without electricity. February in Yenegoa, capital of Bayelsa State was hot as fuck. It didn’t even matter that the town was riverine – when the sun came down, it burned. It was, therefore, inadvisable to have sex in the afternoon – without electricity. But Laura had insisted, almost making a ruckus.

Laura pouted, thick lips extending as though needing a kiss. There was no way I was kissing her now. It would only elongate this session that I’d not been interested in from the onset. I needed air. What I was inhaling in her crammed room was hot and balmy and damn annoying.

When her pout did nothing to clear my ferocious frown, she rolled her slanty eyes and resorted to her natural bitch attitude. “Are you afraid of your friend hearing us?” she asked coyly while tightening her vaginal walls.

Usually, that shit had me pounding into her as roughly as she required. However, today, there were other things on my mind – serious things. My body was a machine at this moment. I’d only succumbed to her request for sex because she’d have thrown a huge tantrum. And I’d not wanted that with Justin waiting for me in her sitting room.

With the paper thin walls in her small one room apartment, her fake moans would surely bother Justin, and embarrass me.

“Maybe, having a bit of shame would do you good,” I faked a smile, not hiding my sarcasm.

She scoffed, eyes sharpening, “Look who’s talking. Are you seriously taking the high moral ground when you’re the naval officer organizing a robbery –”

“What the fuck, Laura? You aren’t supposed to speak of this! It’s all on the down low. We all vowed our silence!” I could feel cords in my neck bulging in my need to curb my fury. Seriously, she should know better than to blurt stuff like that. Walls had ears.

The anger on my face must have sunk in. “I’m sorry, baby. But Joe, you know how I love it when you fuck me,” she crowed, becoming all coy, her long fingers caressing down my shoulder to pinch my right nipple.

My dick twitched in her channel. “Let’s get this over with, I’ve got things to do,” I snapped tightly through clenched jaws.

Shifting backwards the tiniest bit, I heaved, carrying and dumping her on the table displaying her toiletries. Plastic containers rolled and bounced loudly on the cement flooring. She omphed at the slightly rough handling, but she grinned like a Cheshire cat; she liked it. And I’d do anything to finish this sex assignment and focus on important things.

Widening her thighs, I moved. Our talk must have made her dry but I didn’t care. She either climaxed or she’ll be shocked to find I’m not ashamed of chucking my dick back into my pants without cumming. Better yet, I might just take my pleasure and be done with it.

But things changed at my rough pounding. Her moans were natural now – more whimpers of pleasure than the previous loud noises she’d been emitting. Soon, she arched her back, legs tightening around me as she orgasmed. Gritting my teeth, I shut my eyes and let go of my control for the seconds needed to reach my end.

My climax was uninspiring, but Laura didn’t have to know that. I pulled out from her already limp in the condom and went into her matchbox of a bathroom. Cleaning up, I pulled on my pants while re-entering her room.

She’d moved from the table to the bed, not bothering to cover up. She was tall and ebony complexioned. Her breasts were round and firm on her chest, brown nipples pointing upward. Her slanty eyes made her beautiful but Laura was too venal for her own good. Nevertheless, that venality had been why our relationship had lasted almost four months.

If you asked my twin brother about me – he’d probably postulate to the fact that I enjoyed playing on the dangerous lane. And it wouldn’t be a lie. Compared to my brother, I’m the cavalier guy, the fun twin, always ready to give a thrill except when there’s something serious to be done.

Not that I was in any way venal. However, I didn’t need a pretentious woman whenever I get my breaks from the tedium of my work. Being able to speak freely of my mischief, drink, smoke, fuck anyhow I want without offending her sensibilities was best for me. At this point in my life, I had no stomach for female drama.

After buckling my belt, I picked up my t-shirt from the foot of her bed where I’d discarded it.

“Joseph of the seven seas,” she hailed me and grinned. I have no idea why she insists on calling me that and I had never asked. Perhaps, it was a reference to being in the navy. She stretched in a manner that suggested she’d been sexually satisfied. Good for her.

In my silence, I battled the usual guilt of using my brother’s name. I’m not close to my brother. Being the favourite son of our single mother made me special. With my brother always getting in trouble with our mother, the divide had been natural. However, once in a while, something twisted in my heart – I missed my brother who was also a naval officer, stationed at the Eastern Naval Command at Calabar, Cross River State.

Being stationed at the Central Naval Command, here in Yenegoa, meant there was only the slimmest chance of Laura ever finding out Joe wasn’t me but my twin. However, this did not calm the guilt.

“I’ve got to go,” I grumbled, pushing my arms into the sleeves of my black t-shirt.

“Hey,” she called out, sitting up, her perky breasts bobbing.

A big sigh left my mouth as I came to a stop. I turned my head over my shoulder, body still facing the door.

“It will be fine. Don’t worry too much.”

“Of course, it will,” I flashed my usual amiable grin and she giggled, giving me the chance to slip from the room.

Justin wasn’t in the cramped sitting room. I sighed, not blaming him at all. It was hot. But I was also thankful he’d not heard Laura’s attempt to be a porn star; at least, I’m hoping he hadn’t.

I found him in the kiosk outside Laura’s apartment. With the backdrop of the erosion beaten road, unpainted buildings, and naked children playing rubber wrapped football on the road, fair-skinned Justin looked out of place.

The only similarity we shared was our over six feet height.

“Hey,” he greeted, blowing cigarette smoke from his mouth, eyes squinting.

“Let’s walk,” I told him. Not like we had a choice. There was no transport to be seen in this neighbourhood, except the boats in the river surrounding half of the area.

Dropping the butt of his cigarette, he pressed it with his sneakered foot and followed me, smoking streaming from his pursed lips. Having visited Laura over the past months on my off days, I knew the area pretty well. I took Justin down the uneven path that led to the river.

The whole neighbourhood was covered in houses, mostly constructed with wood and tarpaulins. It was the poor area of Yenegoa, mostly found around the river edges in the town.

With the sun beating down hard, I led him to a popular bush track. It was an area where many navy guys came to purchase marijuana on their off nights. During the day, even the weed sellers retreated into their tarpaulin constructs, hiding from the heat.

Settling under a considerably shady tree close to the river edge, a little breeze from the water relieved the heat.

“So, Chief Alphonsus?” Justin muttered under his breath. Despite the place being deserted, we still had to be careful – everything had ears around here.

“Mm-hmm,” I replied, pulling out a wrapped stick of marijuana from my jeans pocket, grateful it’d not been destroyed in the sex session with Laura. I lighted it and inhaled deeply.

Justin allowed me two more drags, by then I could feel the calm settling in my belly before he spoke again. “You know he’s like a god around here, right?”

Flashing my grin at him, I replied, “A god everyone hates.”

Chief Timi Alphonsus was freakishly wealthy. In fact, it’d been rumoured that he sponsored all kinds of militant groups and the insurgencies happening in Port Harcourt. He owned a couple of cargo ships rumoured to traffic drugs and girls. However, apart from the poor people who had experienced his brutality and greed, the rest of the populace knew the man as a pillar of society and a great philanthropist.

“So, this is for altruistic reasons?” Justin asked of the plan I had in place to rob Chief Alphonsus blind – well, at least, the safe in his Yenegoa home.

 “Not entirely. I agree the plan started out altruistic, but, we all have needs.” I dragged more narcotics into my system, squinting off into the horizon.

Hearing that the greedy chief had been taking plots of land from widows without paying proper compensation led us to start talking. It’d been Utuk, Uzor – my colleagues, and Laura hanging out that day. Then Laura had mentioned that she knew the man’s steward. After speaking with the man, the joke had turned into something serious that had taken my sleep.

Yes, I wanted to return those lands or, buy them back anonymously for the widows. I kept thinking, what if they were my mother? Nevertheless, I was definitely keeping part of the money in that safe – there was nothing wrong with having more money.

Justin needed part of that money for his wife’s cancer treatment. His savings had been drained dry by the chemotherapy. Uzor was in for the thrill and the money, of course. Laura was the money all the way; she cared nothing for the widows. And Utuk – really, it wasn’t clear why he was joining, but he’d seemed amazed when the steward had mentioned the billions of naira just lying around in a safe in Yenegoa.

The gentle giant beside me sighed heavily, his eyes also considering the distant shoreline. “My salary advance had been rejected again. I’ve collected too much already. I’ve used everything I had up. And I must thank you for thinking of me. I need this money.”

I nodded, finishing off my marijuana, ideas for a successful operation sparking in my brain.

He sighed again. “Let’s do this,” he declared determinedly, his big fist aimed at me. I made a fist and bumped his. We were in business.

***

A month later

Matt

The plan had been simple.

With Chief Alphonsus out of town, leaving with most of his security, the house was an easy take for four, expertly trained navy officers.

Work time had been twenty minutes. Two minutes to get in from the lower part of the fence at the back, two minutes to incapacitate, not kill, the six guards left behind and any other staff who had a hero complex.

None of the staff had that.

With sixteen minutes left, Justin and Uzor worked on opening the old model safe, conscious they had five minutes to do so, less, if possible. They’d succeeded with less.

We’d come with guns, even a couple bars of C4 explosives, just in case the safe needed blowing open. We’d agreed that we could live with the loss of the money in an explosion if it came to that, just as long as the chief was punished. Whatever cash salvaged from that explosion, I’d have handed it to Justin. That had been my thought, anyway.

The guards were bound and locked in a room, phones stripped from their person. Same thing with the staff – the steward included. We had free reign of the house. Utuk had been stationed at the south window of the office which faced the main gate, to be the look out. Not that we were expecting any trouble.

Our getaway plan included hauling the bags full of money back over the fence; pile them into the van we’d stolen earlier in the week and head to the fish market by the river not far off.

It was a silent night as we shoved ten 50-inch weatherproof duffel bags into the van. Uzor and Justin climbed in the back, shutting the double doors while on instinct, I decided to drive.

Utuk should’ve driven the van. However, I explained how wound up I was even with success clearly in sight. I felt like driving that van would ensure the complete success of the night.

No one spoke in the van. It seemed we all couldn’t believe we had pulled that off. I was reckless and a hothead compared to my brother, but I suffered the same disbelief that we had made it.

Despite the tension in the van heavy enough to make my hands shake on the steering wheel, I kept the speed under the limit. Since it was a bread delivery van on the deserted road at one in the morning, we’d planned to explain – if stopped by cops – that we closed from work late. We were dressed in normal t-shirts and jeans, having dumped the darks clothes on the roadside. However, it had been a big ‘if’, because the road we’d chosen to take was off the main roads and would not have cops there.

My phone vibrated in my pocket. Looking at the screen confirmed who it was. Laura had been following the strict time limit and was not to call before then. “Yeah, we made it.”

Her squeal of excitement brought a smile to my face, the tension lessening a bit. I’d just indicated right and turned the vehicle into the untarred road leading to the fish market when the first shot rang out.

It was so loud in the quiet night it could have been an explosion. Unfortunately, that first shot took Justin’s life.

“Jesus! Jesuuu –” a staccato of shots bombarded the van. I recognised the distinct sound of the TAR-21rifle – service weapon for the navy and DSS. Uzor’s terrified shout ended in a choked groan that was unmistakeably death.

The whole thing was surreal, like I was having an out of body experience. It wasn’t me hunched over the steering, driving like a maniac on the uneven topography of the path. I wrenched to the right, plunging into a bush with trees, terrified the van would get stuck in between trees.

It didn’t. It got battered squeezing through a couple of paired trees before finding leeway. My rough driving tore off the side mirrors. I noticed the white trucks following us couldn’t go through.

There was no mistaking the CNC logo and writing on the body of those trucks. Shit! Navy Intelligence was after us. Christ, how the fuck did they know?

“Stop the van, Akang, it’s over. I don’t want to die like Justin and Uzor! For fuck sake! Stop the fucking car! Don’t be selfish, you bastard!”

I heard him – I heard Utuk. But I’m not sure I understood what he was saying. It didn’t sink. I couldn’t let it sink. If it did, I’d be debilitated that Justin’s sick wife would never see her hero again. I didn’t know much about Uzor, but there were sure to be people who would miss his exuberance. I would miss his exuberance.

But I didn’t let it sink. I was in survival mode. I could wonder what must have gone wrong – not yet. I couldn’t think who might have sold us out. My adrenaline had led me to drive a bush track that I’d never have tried in a million years. It was our saving grace. It meant the CNC trucks had to take the long route to the riverside. We had a chance.

With sweat on my palms like I’d dunked them in water, while rivulets  dripped from my heated head into my rapidly blinking eyes, I’d no idea how I hadn’t wrapped the van around a tree. I was shocked to see the riverside and had to slam on the breaks before driving right into the middle of the water. Only the front tires sunk in the waterlogged sand at the river’s edge.

Utuk had still been shouting aspersions at me. Without a word, I dropped from the driver’s seat and hurried to the back. I was conscious I would never forget the sight of Justin, face down in his blood, hole in the back of his head and Uzor, eyes and mouth open, forever silenced mid-scream.

Nausea surged from my throat. Hyperventilation began. Suddenly, my head banged so hard it threatened to blind me. I wanted to lift my arms to my head in despair, but Utuk joined me. Shockingly, he wasn’t shouting. We pulled out those hefty bags on to the sand.

While Utuk sobbed and went in to pull out the others, I dragged two of the bags, throwing them in the water. Like apparitions, my hired divers bobbed up from the water, grabbed a bag and sunk back into the depths. Ignoring the silence between us, I kept dragging those bags to the river edge.

This part of the plan had been meant as a surprise. Utuk had known about the boat that should’ve been arriving at – I checked my wristwatch – 1:29 a.m., nineteen minutes ago. The divers had been a contingency plan. In fact, with how smooth the operation had gone, I thought they wouldn’t be needed.

But, someone had betrayed us and my secret plan had turned out the – my thoughts ceased abruptly with the image of my dead comrades in the back of that van. No, my secret plan hadn’t saved us all, but it would save people, I promised determinedly.

Rushing back to the van, I dove in, sobbing with a wrenching pain in my heart as I pulled out their phones from their pockets. It appeared Utuk had been frozen with grief and couldn’t move after pulling out the remaining bags of money.

“Let’s go, man,” I prodded, unzipping one of the waterproof bags of money and dumping our phones for protection. I dragged two more bags around the van and into the water, not shocked to find four divers already waiting. Two more bags were left.

I was out of breath when I returned to Utuk. “Jesus, man, snap out of it. Let’s move. The boat isn’t here, so we have to swim,” my heart stuttered when I wondered if the navy would deploy speed boats to come after us. Could we even swim as far as the divers currently transporting bags of money to the distant shore?

Whoever betrayed us – my thoughts were on Laura – would’ve decided that we’d have nowhere to go when our boat didn’t show up. Wrong.

“How can you move on, Akang – they’re dead,” he sobbed and I felt like the worst kind of person on earth for wanting to live when my comrades were dead.

“I want to live because Justin’s wife needs –” my words ceased when headlight from several approaching vehicles lit up the night. Without another word, I dragged Utuk to the water edge and dived in.

One of the divers caught me, shoved a reed into my mouth which I almost spat out before I recalled that’s what they used in breathing for long underwater. I was a consummate swimmer but nothing compared to these young men who were practically birthed in these waters.

It was dark underwater. And no matter the tactical training I’d received in the navy, it was still terrifying to be buried in that liquid darkness. My arms ached fiercely and I was grateful for the help of the drivers who each grabbed my shirt and kept me moving.

At some point, I wondered how Utuk was faring, but hey, it’s not like I could ask questions. My eyes burned and the tiredness wiped the thought from my head almost immediately.

When we surfaced on a water-edge covered with foliage, I sobbed in relief and abject grief. But it might have passed for breathlessness and my need to suck in much-needed air, coughing rackingly. The leader of the divers – a slim, old man, pulled me up with surprising strength.

“Dem fuck you up, abi?” he asked me in Pidgin English. It’d been a rhetorical question about being betrayed; the first divers must have reported the state of things on the other side. The right question should’ve been – who did it?

Then I jerked, despite my bone weariness, eyes flying around in search of Utuk. “Whe – where is my fu – fu – friend?” I asked, already shivering from the cold, teeth beginning to chatter.

“Make we comot from here before CNC speed boat come,” the old man prodded in Pidgin English but I insisted, fear clogging my chest that I might have lost another friend.

One of the divers said something in their local dialect. The old man turned to me, slapping my back in what I could only interpret as pity. “Your friend, na him fuck you up. My boy say him stay for shore to talk to CNC.”

I might have been suspecting the wrong person then.

***

Matt

The old man took me underground, becoming my protector. Despite the fact that he hadn’t done anything suspicious, his kindness was still suspicious to me. I mean, I’d just been betrayed, two of my friends killed. I could not entirely trust anyone.

But that man took care of me until I stopped shivering and begun thinking analytically.  

Even as I saw Utuk’s call hours later, I still didn’t believe that he’d betrayed us, getting Justin and Uzor killed in the process. And for what – a damn promotion? Because that’s the only thing he was going to get.

With the way the operation had been planned, the only people who would’ve heard about the hit would’ve been the chief and his staff, because they were victims. The owner of the divers swore his business thrived on being discrete. The boatman had no idea what he would have been transporting; he’d just been asked to show up. We’d made sure everything remained quiet – or, at least, I had.

“My God, Utuk, where the fuck are you? I thought you drowned. Oh, thank God. Jeez, man, you scared me. Thank God you’re alive,” I enthused, my voice cracked from my silent sobs after catching a breath and wondering what I could have done differently so that my friends wouldn’t die.

“I err – couldn’t swim so I ran back into the forest before they got to the shoreline.”

A navy officer who couldn’t swim – fucking lying bastard!

“We were lucky,” I murmured soberly.

“Yeah,” his tone was insincere, no matter how he tried to make it so.

Like, did he think I was a fool?

“Hey, err – did you get the money?” he asked hesitantly.

“I got one bag. I almost drowned swimming with it.”

“Man, you tried. So, where are you? We need to meet and talk. What are we going to do, are we returning to the command? Do you think they know it was us?”

I’d been expecting the first question but it still floored me that he would want to finish me off despite everything. How wasn’t he guilty that his betrayal had killed our friends?

Utuk’s call had been two hours ago. I’d described where I’d be waiting with a getaway boat and the money onboard.

It’s surprising what money can achieve in a couple of hours.

My plan had been daring, but then I was desperate and had only the old man as n aally – an ally that I’d threatened to gut. He’d laughed but had declared he’d help me. With Utuk coming with the full power of our superiors to apprehend me, I needed serious help.

Getting arrested wasn’t the right thing. Who would look out for Justin’s wife? Living with that shame of a botched robbery would’ve been terrible, not just for me but my brother too. Death was the answer.

With a heavy heart, I doled out more than enough cash to get me a rickety old, small cargo ship that had been slowly rotting in the dockyard. A dead body was made available from a local mortuary – I refused to watch the mortuary attendant position the body. Perceiving the formaldehyde was bad enough.

The couple bars of C4 we’d carried in case we needed to blow open the safe was in one of the bags. It came in handy. And a locally made bomb to be introduced into the fuel tank was acquired.

Now I waited for Utuk and his army.

I answered his call. “Utuk, I almost left, you’re late,” I managed to sound nervous even though I wished to wring his neck.

“Which one are you in?” he asked and I stepped onto the yawning deck of the decaying ship, the engine coughing every other minute as though about to sputter off. I’d made sure to anchor away from the few vessels on the dock.

“At the edge,” I replied, my blood boiling in fury. “You’d have to use the bush to get to me.”

I waited on the phone. Directing him, pretending I didn’t hear the fierce whispers coming through from the background.

My heart hammered as I viewed the face of the traitor in the lightening sky. His medium height arse stumbled down the incline I’d directed him to use. Naval police roamed the shadows behind him, following stealthily.

When I made sure he’d seen me, I regretted that this plan didn’t include killing the arsehole. I waved at him, my smile cold. I should have just walked back inside and done what needed doing. But I couldn’t bear not making sure he knew he had lost.

I allowed him to get close.

“Akang, we need to talk,” he stopped at the edge of the water and called out to me. “Can this vessel even move?”

Despite the risk of the rickety steel breaking off under my weight and sending me to my death, or a self-maiming plummet over the side, I leaned over the rust-covered rail.

“Fuck you, Effiong Utuk!”

My throat clogged with so much more I wanted to say to him, so many curses I wanted to ply on his head. But I flashed my cavalier grin while his eyes widened in realisation. When I walked inside, he started shouting and other voices joined him. Pandemonium ensued, breaking the silence of the calm dawn.

I lit the long fuse connected to the C4 and crossed to the other side of the deck facing the river. I removed the ship from anchor, the lump of iron groaning as it begun moving at a snail pace. I had less than a minute to dive. I timed it to the last couple of seconds. I was still in the air when the boat blew up.

Once again, divers pulled me underwater, away from the burning shrapnel flying every which way and the heat of the inferno.

Word on the street and eyewitness report spoke of a man who had jumped on the ship just before it blew up.

Utuk deserved the death he got.

And I deserved the prison I’ve created for myself.

Chapter Two

Present day

Matt

Greenery

Blurry though it was, but it had been a while I’d seen its lush starkness against the horizon. I had not taken this path in over ten years. It looked different now because the road was tarred. But this path was indelible in my DNA. I grew up here. Could walk it blindfolded even.

However, the green flying by also looked strange to me. I dreaded where it led. I dreaded what to expect. We were on a dangerous mission.

Brief background – I’m a ghost.

No, not the spiritual, floaty kind. Though if close family friends caught me and my brother together, the charade would be off. You see, ten years ago, my name – Matthew Akang had been penned in the register for dead people. It didn’t matter that they’d been no identifiable corpse to bury seeing as I’d ‘died’ in an explosion, there’d still been a burial. No, I hadn’t attended that.

Too much guilt had settled in my spirit after only three months of dying. That guilt grew beyond my imagination in the following years. And I lived with it, accepting it as punishment for my reckless living. Why did I resurrect after ten years? Good question. An old girlfriend with a vendetta who had no idea there had been two of me, had stumbled on Joe, my twin.

Unfortunately, when I’d been with her, I’d pretended to be my brother. Not original, I know, but, I’d always done stupid shit like that from childhood. And my dear brother always got into trouble for it because I’d been our single mother’s favourite twin.

Don’t ask. I have no idea how she’d decided which of us was her favourite seeing as we are identical. But all my life growing up, I’d been glad as a pig in shit that I was the favourite. It made me an arsehole.

So, Laura – that vindictive bitch, went after Joe thinking he was me. Of course, I’d not just died and abandoned my family. After the money I stole – the reason I faked my death, it’d been natural for the bad people I’d been involved with to want revenge on my family. Sheesh, don’t ask me that either. Villains will always be villains.

With thoughts of protecting my family, I’d left feelers in the street. I’ll always be a Navy officer, coupled with having mixed with some bad people it wasn’t difficult to anonymously put snitches on retainer. They’d reported what Laura was about and well, I’d wronged my brother enough already and decided to resurrect from the dead for him.

Thankfully, I’d been in time to stop my ex from almost killing my brother’s wife, Mandy. I went berserk when I heard she’d poisoned my brother through apples. Yes, my twin was the opposite of me, straight and strictly on the narrow, but had a weakness for sweet things and apples. Laura had coerced my brother’s staff stationed in Bayelsa to lure him over for a case and gave him the apples.

My feelers hadn’t caught that one. More guilt graced the ever-growing pile. I’m grateful Mandy had found him unconscious and had called in the calvary, saving my brother’s life. Even though we’d never been close as twins should, it’d still have been my fault if he’d died and more guilt to live with.

Laura was in prison now. No matter how she spewed that some dead guy was still alive, no one listened. Thank God for my brother’s clout as a respected, retired Navy officer and now Private Investigator – he owned a small but damned impressive security outfit.

Nevertheless, I had no idea that after resurrecting from death, it would be damn difficult to go back to dying. I realized I’d missed being a twin after talking with my brother for days on end and he forgave me for all the shit I’d put him through, even apologising for our mom having me as a favourite. Ten years was a long time to be alone – lots of spare time to ponder on my life.

Our mom had wronged my twin from childhood. We don’t know the details about our dad but mom had raised us alone. She’d suffered the stigma of being a single mom in Ikot Eyo village, forty-eight years ago. But, now, I thought it wasn’t a good excuse to have alienated her first child by two minutes.

Joe had grown up without the warmth of a mother and I did not care at the time. Shit, I’d taken advantage of it and gotten him into trouble over and over, even in death.

My continuous heavy sighs had Joe turning from the road to give me a considering glance. “Stop worrying,” he grunted, his jaw flexed and his hand tightened on the steering of his SUV. Yep, he was worrying too.

The dangerous mission I earlier mentioned was us going to see our mother. Yes, I’m aware of the risk this little excursion entailed. However, after too many hours of thinking, I felt it was time to straighten mama out. I felt terrible when Joe told me that she’d also not attended his wedding with his late first wife.

“Have I told you how sorry I am about everything I’ve ever put you through?”

Joe muttered a curse under his breath, “I’m tired of hearing it.”

“I’ll never be tired of saying it,” I murmured, scratching my beard under the hoodie that was necessary to enter our village. We’d been the only twin children growing up in Ikot Eyo as at then. It would take only a glance for some old-timer to recognise both of us. And that wasn’t good with me having died a long time ago.

Then why the hell was I disturbing the sand that had settled for over ten years? Another good question. I wanted to live again. Obviously not as Matt Akang but as Matt Eben, the fake identity I’d created two years after “dying” and used for my bank transactions.

Well, I couldn’t just have left the money I’d stolen lying around, could I? So, I’d reached out to our buddy, Darius Udeng – badass Navy officer, had stints in the army and the DSS too. Darius was obsessed with security. A few years younger than us, he’d taken Joe as his mentor when we’d all still been in the Navy.

Smiling, I recalled being like the fun uncle in that relationship. It had been mostly because Joe had always been serious-minded while I’d remained goofy throughout. Additionally, Darius saw me more since we were both stationed in CNC. Thank God he had left to join the military by the time I had been planning that robbery. If he’d still been around, there was no way he’d not have been on my crew. Even though the guilt remained like a boulder on my chest, I shook my head to clear that thought.

Perhaps, I wasn’t so different from my brother since we joined the Navy without each of us being aware. We’d only found out we joined when we went to tell our mother.

So, I became part owner of a large security outfit – Secure Inc. fronted by Darius. It’d been his dream even before Joe set up his. I’d recalled the plans Darius had never shut up about and shocked him by coming back to life a few years later. As a staunch force guy, Darius had taken it all in stride. He hadn’t rejected the money I’d given him enough to kickoff the company now worth some cool millions of dollars.

Darius had no idea, but he’d been my saving grace, providing me someone close, almost family to converse with. It didn’t matter that it had been phone calls, it was great to connect with someone from my supposed past.

“We are here. Need a minute?” Joe broke into my thoughts, slowing the vehicle at the entrance of mama’s home. Despite sending money to her through Darius to fix the gate in her refurbished parents’ house, she hadn’t. Joe had explained he’d given up on it too since she’d barely wanted to see his face.

Yep, I should need a minute since it felt like I stood at a precipice about to fall over. Inhaling deeply, I shook my head. “Nah, rip the fucking band-aid off.”

My twin nodded and surged forward into our childhood compound. We decided it would be better if we showed up in the afternoon when her neighbours were still at their farms. We’d not been wrong. The area was as deserted as though the Apocalypse had occurred. Might as well have happened with people like me returning from the dead.

Mama sat on the veranda of the large house, her foot tapping as she waited. It was a miracle that she’d answered Joe’s call after ten tries. She’d been pissed that he disturbed her nap. He wouldn’t have if she’d picked the first ten times. Joe had told her he worried she’d died. That her shut her up long enough for Joe to tell her he’d be coming to the village.

There were two ways this could go. Mama could faint from shock, come to and hug me or lock her door in fear and call her pastor. I’d been an arsehole to my brother all our lives – 48 years of it. I guess it was mama’s turn. Perhaps, I simply couldn’t prolong the inevitable any longer.

So, despite Joe’s plan to ease her into the news, I opened the door the same moment he did and stepped out despite his gasping my name. Mama squinted at both of us. At 79, she rose to her feet quite spryly. I noticed her walking stick, a black generic kind with a curve at the handle. Her mouth widened as the space between us reduced until I loomed before her.

“Mama,” I croaked from a throat gone tight. Despite her bad mothering, she was still my mother and I’d missed her.

I’d expected terror, a hug, sobs. I was ready to catch her if she fainted. No, I’d not expected that slap. I swear my neck cracked as it swerved to the left, pain travelling along my gums, making my teeth ache. What had the woman been doing with her hands? My gaze found Joe’s stupefied one while I twisted my jaw to release the pain.

Chapter Three

Matt

I still hadn’t recovered from that slap when I caught Joe’s eyes widening a hairbreadth before pain bloomed in my thigh. Mama’s walking stick obviously wasn’t for walking. She slammed that surprisingly sturdy wood anywhere she could reach on my body.

Yep, this scene reminded me of watching Joe go through this as kids. I’d only experienced it ten out of the fifty times he had. Fucking hell! I might be a man of 48, hardened from the Navy and the shits I’ve done. But at that moment, I wanted to grumble and cry out like a fucking child.

It took Joe hugging her from behind to stop the beating. Mama heaved, her wiry chest rising and falling as she finally sobbed. She had shrunk after ten years; still beautiful but old and wrinkled. Fucking hell, more guilt grew on the already tall mountain in my chest. Grimacing, I followed them – Joe holding her shaking shoulders, into the house.

Uh, Joe had obviously done more than send her money and care packages. Despite the severity of the situation, I shut the metal front door that used to be light wood and looked around the fairly modern home. This used to be our grandparents’ house. It’d been post-colonial in style. But we managed to modify that when we started collecting salaries in the Navy.

Now though, none of the furniture was familiar. Joe had them replaced with soft cushions covered in dark blue velvet. As we hadn’t changed the structure of the house, only modernized it, the house still had the simplicity of a large sitting room, a kitchen and about five bedrooms.

The number of chairs in the parlour had reduced. There used to be numerous tattered ones lining the walls. Now, there were two settees and four single ones and large spaces between the seats and the walls. A coffee table graced the centre and a flat-screen with cable graced the wall. Joe had told me that he had one of the neighbours check on her to see if she needed help.

“How could you?” the censure in her wobbling tone slashed through my reverie. “How could you be so despicable…like him?” Wow, she broke out the phantom ‘him’ which we had always assumed was our father.

Joe had made her sit in one of the single chairs, but he hovered at her side as though he worried she’d keel over. Mama did look delicate, but I wasn’t afraid she’d die from shock, not after the beating she’d just given me. That woman was as strong as a horse, probably getting strength from being as cantankerous as I recalled.

I swallowed the pain her words gave. I deserved every bit of it. Joe’s gaze held pity, the reaction I should’ve held when he’d received this as a kid. Only, I’d giggled and enjoyed dreamless sleep while my twin grew solemn everyday.

Her words were sharp blades slicing through my skin and heart, bleeding me where I stood. For in my mother’s book, ‘him’ – our absent father, was eviler than the devil himself. And Joe had suffered these kinds of accusations from childhood. It had gotten worse when I ‘died’.

Mama’s voice might have rasped with age, but her tone, the spite in her eyes remained the same. Only now, pointed at the wrong twin. How the hell had Joe turned out a good man when he’d suffered her wrath until this moment?

Swallowing with some difficulty, I mentally acknowledged that, indeed, I deserved the tag more than my twin ever had. Joe had been nothing but a good son. Quiet, broody, but good and caring. I was the devil all along. And now this devil had come to accuse.

With a deep breath, I took a seat and faced my mom. “Mama –”

“Don’t you dare call me ‘Mama’!” she spat, venom swimming in her eyes.

Pain rocked my heart but I couldn’t help my chuckle despite feeling Joe’s anxiety from all the way where he stood beside her. I shook my head like I couldn’t believe her words because I couldn’t. “So, now it’s my turn to face your wrath?” another chuckle burst out of me.

“You pretended to be dead. What kind of person does that if not the devil?”

“And what kind of mother looks at her identical twin children and chooses to hate one?” I spat, allowing my anger to reign. Oh, I might be the carefree one but my anger was way deadlier than Joe’s.

Our mother blanched at my question.

“Matt –” I could hear the warning and plea in Joe’s tone. It meant I should let go. He’d learnt to live with it. But I believed he shouldn’t have to. It wasn’t any of our faults that our father had been an absolute bastard to her. None of us should have to suffer for his sins. And I might have learnt to carry this weight of guilt for this long, but, I needed some fucking relief.

“No, Joe, I won’t let it go. Mama, answer me. What is more devilish than hating one of the twins you birthed? What is your justification? I need to hear it because I’m damn well going to give you a justification for faking my death.”

“You have no justification,” she spat.

“Oh, I do. You might not like it but I do have one. I didn’t want to go to jail.”

“Then why steal?”

It must have been unavoidable for Joe to share the particulars of my case with her. She would have wanted to know everything. I’d been a disgrace to the navy – to my family, especially, Joe. He’d been saddled with a brother rumoured for gross misconduct unbecoming of a naval officer.

If I’d not faked my death, the consequences would have been severe. But with all the officers on the crew – I, Uzor, Justine and even the traitor, Utuk – dead, the navy dropped the investigations. Doing that meant they avoided any aspersions being thrown at the Nigerian Navy for such a case.

“I believe you do not have the justification for hating Joe. He’d been nothing but a good son to you. I’m shocked even with you treating him like a second class citizen, he’d still done all this,” I waved my hand indicating the house.

“Matt, please.”

The heat in my chest urged me to continue, blocking Joe’s voice. “Mama, you were left with one son but never drew him close. You refused to go to his first wedding. Of course, you couldn’t have comforted him when he lost his wife. Years later, he’s blessed with another wife and you still refused to show – ”

“Because I couldn’t stand the guilt of how I’d treated him already!” Her face twisted and fell in her gnarly hands as she sobbed. It sounded ugly, it wrenched at my intestines and Joe looked confused, his eyes red. He didn’t know how to comfort our mother – if he even should.

“I was young and hurting that your father had refused to have anything to do with me after the hospital. He’d paid the bill, decided he would name Joe while I named you, agreed his name be used as the father, made sure everything with the birth certificates were right and then disappeared.”

“I always thought it was because Joe had been sickly at the hospital. He must have run when it seemed too challenging, especially with extra money to pay for medication. What else could I think? And then we got home and Joe became well, strong as an ox. I went to find him, to tell him the good news but he and his properties had disappeared. My mother wouldn’t let me hear the end of my disgrace, neither did the community,” she sniffled and looked up unseeingly.

Joe paced. The anxiety and fury roiling in my stomach clear on his face.

“I’m sorry you went through that. But you punished your child for years for another man’s sin,” I forced out. No, I didn’t want to keep kicking her while she was down. But she needed to understand what she’d done. Joe had suffered from her neglect. It was his story of eight years of loneliness. He’d rejected Mandy’s love until he’d almost died from those poisoned apples that he got some insight into living instead of existing.

This whole excursion had been inspired by Joe’s stories. My wanting to live again, to take a chance, to have love and happiness like my twin, was a result of his happiness. And the possibility of it with a certain woman I’d been unable to get off my mind for months now. However, thoughts of her had no place here.

Mama squeezed her eyes shut again, her thin shoulders shaking. “I didn’t know how to stop. Your death only intensified the need to push him away. His kindness and care made me angrier. Then shame wouldn’t let me repent,” she was hiccupping now. She heaved and turned to Joe who was now crying, dammit, I was crying too. Tears burned my eyes.

She grabbed his wrist. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. It just felt easier to keep you away. I don’t deserve your forgiveness, so I’ll not ask of it. But know you never deserved how I had treated you. It had not been your fault but mine and the loathing I held towards your father. It was unfortunate that he’d chosen to name you, giving me the excuse to transfer my aggression on you.”

“I forgive you, Mama. I forgave you before today,” Joe croaked, kneeling beside her to hug her. They cried on each other’s shoulders and I felt relief in my spirit. Yes, my brother had his mom back.

I wiped my tears and waited. There was one thing about our mother though. She thrived on hating something or someone. I knew my forgiveness would not come today, but I hoped.

“This was good,” Mama croaked, leaning back weakly. Her dull eyes met mine. “You did well in this. But it is unforgivable pretending to die and putting us all in grief.”

Told you so.

Smiling, I got to my feet and brushed my clothes as though I’d been sitting on a dusty surface. “Well, I came here to repair what you destroyed. I’ll wait until you find something else to hate before I come for my own forgiveness.”

“Matt!”

“Don’t worry about it, Joe,” I said calmly as I watched our mother shut her eyes. She was done with me. She had a new favourite.

Pain knotted in my stomach. Who knew when she’d find something else to hate so that I could seek her forgiveness? Was there a name for this kind of behaviour? Was it a psychological illness? Sighing, I left to wait in the car while Joe said his goodbyes, probably begging on my behalf.

That was the difference between us. Joe had always been selfless as opposed to my selfishness. But ten years of death had shown me my wrongs. Slow and steady, I would repair. Although some were irreparable, I wanted to live again; that only meant, living right this time around.

With the window of the SUV slightly down, I inhaled the air that had begun cooling, smelling like the possibility of rain. Perhaps, it would help the current heaviness in my heart. I hoped it rained.

Wishing us a happy new month tomorrow.

Love and light, ChuBBies.😘

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Blur The Stats

Hey, ChuBBies!

How’s May the month treating you? As a plus size royal, hope you’re ruling it.

So, like there is awareness for mental health, rape, bullying and a host of other social vices that were previously unpopular, there’s also an awareness for toxic statistics.

Toxic statistics is a made up name that aptly captures the bad habit of people who live to check the percentages they have gained or lost in weight.

It is a prison, an indefinite jail term that people give themselves by being so overwhelmed with the statistics of body weight.

The only way of getting out of this jail is a total overhaul of the mind and beliefs.

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with being plus size.

Second, you better have been trying to lose weight for yourself and not because someone said so.

Third, realise it’s not an easy road and it’s quite alright to take a break.

Fourth, just be yourself, accept you may never be a certain size but decide to be happy anyway.

We only have this one life to live, why spend it in a self sentenced jail?

Blur the stats, ChuBBies and be free!

Love you!😘

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Start Proclaiming with May

Hi ChuBBies,

Welcome to May. Whatever the challenges of last month has been, take a deep breath and count your blessings. No matter how small and inconsequential, count those blessings. For it is the little drops of wonderful moments that make amazing, beautiful memories.

On the other hand, how many of us remember to be positive or proclaim positively in the midst of life’s hardships?

There has been several sayings both in the Bible and in other spiritual books alluding to the power in spoken words.

When the caption says – “Start Proclaiming with May”, it means start speaking positive proclamations into all that you do.

May this new month be filled with successes. May we win in all our endeavors. May we remain in good health of body and mind. May the winds guide us to wealth of finance, love, family and great friends.

Enjoy this video of learning to appreciate and finding positives in the little things.

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Own Up And Move!

Hey, ChuBBies!

It’s been a second. How are you? Hoping all is well.

It’s necessary we have these positive reminders of things to do to move forward. Sometimes, we’re held back by baggage that aren’t physical but mental.

Especially, for those of us with weight challenges. We dread whether we can do what we want with the extra rolls of flesh we carry.

Yes! Yes, we can do whatever the fuck we want if we can pull our minds out of the sludge of fear and indecision.

The body given to us was for great things. Own that body and figure out how to work it.

No one is going to do it for us. It’s like praying. Someone praying for us is all fine and good. But to get some fierce effects, your gotta get on those knees of yours and speak up for yourself.

There’s this saying – “If you want to get something right, do it yourself,” – yeah, they weren’t wrong about that one.

So, lovelies – own that shit and get a move one!

Peace! ✌🏽

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Bad Hair Days

Hey, ChuBBies!

How has your week been? Some difficulties? What’s the hope for the weekend? Any rest from said difficulties?

Whatever the answers to these questions are, you need to accept that life isn’t a bed of roses. There will be bad hair days.

It’s reality. It cannot be avoided. Despite the motivation to keep being positive, despite the longing to avoid facing our problems or challenges head on by covering it with positive vibes – there needs to be a confrontation.

We can’t hide forever. Whatever the problem is, confronting it, facing it, feeling the messy emotions that come with it, understanding these emotions and growing above them is the sure way of overcoming.

Is it a bully problem? You know you can’t be entirely free by simply ignoring. Even your spirit will be burdened. There will be a depression. Unburdening your spirit will happen when you stand up to said bully, when you do something about it.

Positive vibing is amazing. But some problems need a more hands-on approach to solving them.

May the universe grant us the wisdom to understand our situations and know the kind of solutions that fit.

Wishing us an amazing and restful weekend.

Love and light, ChuBBies.😘

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Q2 – Action!

Hey, ChuBBies!

It’s the second quarter of 2021! Phew! Gratitude is first for being alive and healthy. Also, deep thoughts and self searching in this season of Easter.

When that’s done, it’s back to the grind. We all know the grind needs comfortable bras for the ladies, right?😁

In that case, this shared post will help us ladies get the perfect size for our bras to enhance that luscious look and confidence in your daily grind.

No need to suffer discomfort in clothing while breaking boundaries and taking no prisoners. It’s time we look like a comfortable million dollars doing it.😎

May this new quarter bring us successes!

Love and light, ChuBBies! 🥂

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