The capital of Cross River State; Calabar was a port city with a common border with Cameroon, rich with history, some of the older parts of the town still sport old British colonial architecture, including Henshaw Town, Duke Town and the water front area. One of Nigeria’s oldest churches; Duke Town Cathedral, whose roots go as far back as the 19th century was located in the city of Calabar. The city also boasts of a National Museum; which had memorabilia’s from the Nigerian civil war and the colonial era, a World War 1 Cenotaph, the Millennium Park and in another part of the state was the famous Obudu Cattle ranch.
As the Uber taxi drifted through traffic, Lawrence intermittently took pictures with his phone, an excited smile carved permanently on his face, he had read a lot of literature about Calabar and was excited to finally visit. He had already made provisions for Rebecca and him to visit the Cattle Ranch, maybe even go on a tram ride across the vast green scenery he had always seen on the TV. He was mortified of heights but going on a tram ride was on his bucket list and what better time to tick it off than now?
“I swear you are drooling right now.” Becca stated, bringing her daydreaming boyfriend back to earth, her voice rich with laughter.
Lawrence smiled shyly, his dreamy eyes coming to rest on his girlfriend; he put a hand across her shoulder and drew her closer. His gaze lingered on the slender frame of his girlfriend before it moved to the other passengers; the driver and Isaac, who was unusually quiet and typing away at his phone.
“Baba what are you doing?!” Lawrence asked peering over his friend’s shoulder. Isaac quickly pocketed his phone.
“How far are we from our destination?”
“Not far.” Isaac said offhandedly.
“We should be there in less than ten minutes.” The driver concurred pointing to the phone propped up on the dashboard.
True to his words, the Toyota Corolla pulled up in front of a sprawling, white, majestic work of architectural genius a few minutes later. A simple terrace detached duplex with gold colored cornice trim running around it, a French window that ran almost the length of one wall, gold rimmed columns and front steps, amazing outdoor and garden lighting, a PVC door was set into a pediment finish.
“Whose house is this?” Rebecca asked.
“It’s my uncle’s, he is out of the country and I have been using it in his absence.”
“Wow, it is really beautiful. You have this all by yourself?!” Lawrence exclaimed, to which Ice Man snickered.
“If you think it is beautiful on the outside, wait till you see what the interior looks like.” Ice Man
He was not lying, the interior was heavenly; the exterior of the house belied its real size, boasting of five en-suite bedrooms and an ante room all with porcelain tiles. The staircase boasted of a marble finish with a wrought iron railing, the master bedroom, which Ice Man graciously gave to Rebecca and him, was fitted with a suspended WC and a Jacuzzi, a huge queen size bed that felt soft to touch and feel sat in the middle of the bed, its immediate surrounding covered in the softest carpet Lawrence had ever walked on.
The room had three doors, to let you in, the other led to the bathroom and the other led into a walk in closet that Lawrence thought could have been best suited for use as a boutique instead. One wall had space for enough cloths to last a person two years without having to reuse any, the other side was lined with racks that could hold almost a hundred shoes and in between both walls, was a wall of mirror that went from the ceiling to the floor. The same carpet covered every inch of the floor.
Rebecca, who was one never to get impressed, was overwhelmed and could not hide her surprise.
“This guy sure knows how to live!” She exclaimed, her voice trembling with excitement. “Who did you say owned this place again?”
Ice Man laughed and replied, “My Uncle.” A few seconds passed before he took his leave, so they could rest and prepare for a night of hard partying.
When he was gone, Lawrence took Rebecca in his arms, his hand coming to rest on the small of her back, her slender frame pressing into his rigid form. He looked into her sparkly brown eyes and for a brief moment felt as if he was falling into them.
“I can guarantee you before we leave here, you would be pregnant.” He joked.
She shoved him away, hitting him playfully. “My dad will kill us both.”
“Then I would gladly die.” He said, pulling her into his embrace again. Suddenly Rebecca’s face took on a more serious look.
“What is it?”
“What did Ice Man say his uncle did again?”
He could hear the concern in her voice and had wondered too what a man who could build a house like this did for a living.
“He probably is into Oil business or possible a politician, which would explain the opulence. But I will ask Ice next time I see him.” He felt her sigh into his chest, somehow he knew she was not convinced but that had to do for now.