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Love's Direction, Book 1 of The Way Home Series - A Christian Revenge Plot Novel

About the Book

Stone hard. Armour tank thick.

Julia Onoja has developed a skin so tough nothing ever hurts her. Not her boyfriend getting his co-star pregnant, and not her best friend cutting her out of her life.

She couldn’t care less.

When her father passes on, it’s just another death and just another funeral.

Except it’s not.

Not when she sees Derin again.

Aderinsola Cole has only loved one woman his entire life. Back then, she wasn’t the tough, rigid and depraved woman she is now. No, the Julia he fell in love with was sweet, kind and had a smile for everyone.

When he’s invited to her father’s wake, he expects to find a way to make amends for the hurts he caused her, and maybe, he can show her the path to the God who saved him.

The problem is God and Derin aren’t exactly Julia’s favourite people. And she’s not ready to forgive either.

Excerpt

Chapter One

JULIA

2019

Julia placed the pack of condoms on the checkout counter, laughing at what Liam whispered in her ear. She grinned and turned to kiss him on the lips, not caring if the mother of two beside her would shrivel to death. Liam chuckled at her audacity and withheld a gasp as the woman’s daughter sounded out the word fiesta.

“Mummy, is that sweet?” the little girl asked, pointing at the pack of condoms on the counter.

Julia flirted with her boyfriend as they waited for the checkout clerk to finish ringing up the woman’s purchases.

“Mummy, is that sweet?” the girl asked again, tugging on the woman’s boubou.

Julia chuckled under her breath, waiting for the woman’s response. The young clerk packing up the woman’s groceries slowed, also waiting for her response.

Be fast nau[1],” the woman snapped.

Julia smiled and turned to look at Liam and the skit he was watching.

The curious child asked again, “Mummy, is that sweet? I want sweet.”

The woman turned to shout at the girl, telling her to stop asking stupid questions. She huffed and adjusted the little girl in the baby carrier she had on, muttering under her breath a word that sounded to Julia like oniranu[2].

Julia shook her head. She hated parents like the woman before her, parents like her mother, who rather than answer questions would make you feel stupid for asking them. Feeling petty and in the mood for drama,

Julia bent to the level of the sulking girl and said, “Baby girl, they are called condoms. You should ask your mum what they are used for.”

The woman and Liam gasped audibly, and Julia’s lips curled when she heard the girl ask her mother what condoms were used for. The woman fled, pulling her daughter and groceries like she was fleeing the devil himself.

The checkout guy packed up her condoms, and Julia paid with her card. She left the supermarket with a satisfied smile on her face and walked with Liam to his car.

Noticing the frown on Liam’s face, she asked what was wrong with him.

“That,” he said, gesturing at the supermarket, “was totally uncalled for. There was no need to tell the innocent girl that.”

Julia scoffed. “Did you not hear her mother insult me? I was just showing her how much of an oniranu I am.”

“You don’t have to be petty,” Liam groaned in exasperation.

“Dude, you’re overreacting,” Julia said, pulling her phone out of her bag.

Who cared if she was petty? He was her boyfriend, and he was supposed to be on her side. She scrolled through her messages and thumbed a reply to Salma’s invitation to a house party. She didn’t want to party this weekend.

“Maybe I am, but you always find a way to pay everyone back, and it’s immature,” Liam responded.

Immature?

Julia scoffed and shook her head. She had learned the hard way that revenge was the only way to survive in this cruel world. Julia ignored Liam and let him drive them to his home. He knew she was petty, and he chose to stay. If he didn’t like it, he could leave for all she cared. After all, he was the one who pestered her for the relationship. She could still recall the flood of gifts he almost drowned her with to get her attention and convince her to give him a chance.

She gave him his chance, and so far, it had been great. He was the sweet boyfriend, the kind who would jump however high she asked. The sex was great, and he had enough money to spoil her with. However, the past couple of months had been bland and hollow, and if he wanted to leave over her putting a lousy housewife in her place, the door was wide open.

A few minutes later, they arrived at his house. Before Julia could slip out of his car, he reached across the centre console and gripped her hand.

“I’m sorry,” he apologised.

Julia chuckled and accepted his apology with a kiss. They slid out of his car and walked up to the front door of Liam’s Parkview Estate home. She used her key and let them in. His phone rang, and he stepped out to the terrace to answer the call. Julia watched him as he answered the call, and for a moment, wondered if she could actually let him go.

Liam was one of the best boyfriends she had ever had. They were classmates in university, but she never gave him any mind. Not when she had her working-class boyfriends, but each one treated her heart with more levity than the last. Liam was always there for her, and after a kiss they shared at her twenty-sixth birthday party, she decided to give him a chance. So far, he hadn’t made her regret it.

He went on about his fees for a new movie. Liam had branched out into acting. Not a decision she liked, but his meteoric rise in Nollywood was impressive. And his role in Mother-in-law from Hell, a flick released last year, got him his big break. He starred alongside veterans, and he shone. Since then, he starred in major blockbusters as the lead male. A review site dubbed him Nigeria’s next RMD[3]. She had gone with him to some premieres, and she was proud of him.

“Why don’t you talk to my manager and get back to me?” he said and hung up.

“Baby,” he called as he joined her on the couch.

Julia smiled. What was she thinking? Being with Liam was thrilling, and she wouldn’t give it up just because of some ridiculous arguments. She wrapped her hands around his neck.

“I want to kiss you,” Julia confessed.

Liam’s lips curled up, revealing a peek of his pearly whites, and her insides quivered. His smiles always had that effect on her, and she loved it. Their kiss turned heated, just as she liked it. She pulled him down as she leaned back to lie on the couch, all the while not breaking their kiss.

The click of the door as it opened and its bang as it got slammed broke them apart. Julia turned and saw one of Liam’s co-stars standing in the doorway.

Her good mood flew out the window. The lady had shared a kiss with Liam in a recent movie, and Julia hated recalling just how intimate it had been. Liam assured her it was only acting, but Julia couldn’t shake her jealousy. She had gone to watch him on set once, and the lady was all over him like flies to garbage—disgusting. Even though Liam didn’t pay her mind, Julia was still angry and jealous. Seeing her here only got Julia irritated.

“What is she doing here, Liam?” the lady screamed, and Julia quirked a brow.

Shouldn’t I be the one asking that?

“Rebekah, what are you doing here? Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?” Liam asked as he pulled away from Julia.

“What is this doing here?” Rebekah shouted, hurling a certain five-letter curse at Julia. Julia sat up, deciding Rebekah had earned her attention.

She didn’t hide the fact she was the epitome of the curse Rebekah hurled at her. In fact, she embraced it. If Rebekah thought she was that, Julia had no qualms showing her just how right she was.

“I thought you said you were going to break up with her,” Rebekah flared at Liam.

What the…?

Julia turned to Liam for some explanation and saw the guilt and shock in his eyes. Julia clenched her jaws to calm her irritation.

“What’s going on here, Liam?” Julia asked.

“I’m pregnant with his baby, and we’re getting married,” Rebekah answered, flashing the huge princess-cut diamond on her finger.

A gong crashed in Julia’s head as she stood and turned to Liam.

“Liam, is this true?”

His face paled with guilt, and he looked away. A twinge burned in her chest. She stiffened and scolded herself.

No. Never.

She would not let another human make her feel any emotion she didn’t want to feel.

“Congrats then on the nuptials and the baby,” Julia said and righted her clothes and picked up her bag and weekender.

She turned to leave, just as Liam called her name. She flipped him the bird and walked out.

A vice clamped onto her airflow, threatening to choke her. Her heart pounded in her chest, threatening to burst as Rebekah’s words rang in her head.

No, Julia. You aren’t going to cry. She chanted in her head as she opened her car and got in. She looked at Liam’s front door. He didn’t even chase after her. She ground her teeth and started her car.

To hell with this nonsense. I was even bored with the stupid relationship gan sef[4].

She turned on the stereo, put on her Breakup Playlist and cranked the volume up. Meghan Trainor’s No Good for You filled her car, and she let the lyrics wash over her. She was better than Liam. She deserved better, and she was going to get better. Her mind concocted the perfect revenge in her head, and she smiled at her plan. He’d rue the day he asked her to be his girlfriend. No one hurt her and got away with it. A name came to mind, but she shooed it away. She hadn’t seen him in over a decade, and chances were that she would never see him again.

She definitely didn’t want to see him again.

I’m sorry, Julia, but I can’t do this anymore.

His words, unsolicited, flew to her mind, and she kissed her teeth.

She believed everything happened for a purpose. Derin’s betrayal taught her one thing, though she failed to stick to the lesson taught: men are scum and undeserving of your time, love and affection.

Her phone rang beside her, the apple chime playing over the music. The traffic light turned red, and she glanced at the phone in its holder to check the caller ID—Salma.

“You must be tripping if you think you’re not coming to my house party!” Salma barraged Julia as soon as she answered.

Julia chuckled.

“Yeah. I realised I was tripping by believing there’s any good guy out here,” Julia said before filling Salma in on her experience with Liam.

Salma consoled her and advised her to come to her house party. “There’ll be hot guys, and you know, the best way to get over one man is to―”

“Get under another,” Julia completed, laughing. “Thanks, babe. I’ll definitely turn up.”

“That’s the spirit, jare[5].”

They chatted a bit before ending the call. Julia pulled down the visor and looked at her reflection for a few moments. She didn’t need anyone to tell her she was beautiful. If Liam was stupid enough to lose her, it spoke a lot about his taste in women. She smirked at her reflection as she thought of the perfect outfit for Salma’s house party.

It would be a pepper-them[6] night; no doubt. Everyone would know that Julia Onoja was back on the market.

 

***

DERIN

“What do you think about long-distance relationships?” the lady Amira had introduced to him as Zara said.

Derin looked up from his food and saw in her eyes a look he was far too acquainted with—a look that spelt attraction and interest. Two things he didn’t need from any woman right now.

Before he could open his mouth to reply, Karim, one of his colleagues, burst into boisterous laughter, and the rest of the table followed suit. Derin raised a brow, wondering whether he missed the source of amusement. Or was there something on his face?

Karim clarified Derin’s confusion when he guffawed, “Derin doesn’t date, habibti. He’s happily married to his work and God. If he were Catholic, I would have said he’s going back home to take the vows to become a priest.”

“Nah,” Jenny added, “he probably has a Nigerian wife waiting for him back home. Many Nigerian guys are like that. They always have wives back home. Only a few like Derin remain faithful.”

A few grains of rice went down the wrong pipe, and Derin coughed and reached for his glass of water. The opinions of his colleagues shocked the food in his mouth away from his throat.

Me? A monk? A married man?

Adnan, his co-pilot, patted his back as he coughed. The table told him sorry, and he nodded as the burning in his throat eased. Jenny changed the subject to how the entire cabin crew would miss him, and Derin could not be more grateful. Zara lowered her eyes and picked at her biryani with her shoulders hunched in embarrassment. He pitied her, but he couldn’t consider a relationship with her. Long distance or otherwise.

Despite how cliche it sounded; it wasn’t her. It was him. Somehow, he had lost any interest in getting involved romantically with any woman. A few times, he wondered if something was wrong with him biologically and emotionally. If he wasn’t aware of the past he had, he would have said he was aromantic. Over the past five years, he had tried to be in three relationships and failed. Miriam, his last girlfriend, who was a clinical therapist, had told him he probably had some trauma in his past that made him emotionally unavailable, and till he resolved it, he couldn’t have and maintain a relationship.

He wasn’t sure how true that was.

His colleagues regaled him with tales of how he had helped them in the past and the reasons they would miss him. Derin couldn’t help the ambivalence in his heart. He would miss them too. That was certain. He would miss everything about working in Qatar. It had been a beautiful five years, but the Lord had other plans. The festivities continued, and he tried his best to enjoy the last few moments he had with them.

A few hours later, he left Karim’s house, where his send-off party had been hosted, and boarded a cab back to his apartment in the heart of Doha. It was summer, and the streets were filled with tourists savouring the nightlife of Qatar. Despite the glamour and comfort of the city, a part of him was glad to return home, to be closer to his family and close friends. Five years ago, he was thrilled to be in a new country and a pilot for an international airline.

However, the years had taught him the truth of the Yoruba proverb—ajo o le dabi ile[7]. He was glad to be returning home. His friends had teased him that the japa[8] blood was not him. He was returning to the country at a time when many Nigerians were looking to emigrate from the country. With a smile on his face, he put an audio call through to his best friend on WhatsApp. The call was declined, and a text notification descended from the top of his screen.

Can’t talk now. I’m wrapping a few things up at church. I’ll call you in the next 15 minutes.

Derin thumbed an okay in response. A couple of minutes later, he was back in his apartment. He took a quick shower and listened to a track from Hillsong United’s latest album, People. The song Whole Heart, featuring TAYA, had been on repeat for the past three weeks. It reminded him of the grace God bestowed on his life, and how lucky he was to have been saved from the kind of life he led as a teenager and young adult.

Just as the song was about to hit his favourite lines, the music got caught off by an incoming call from Chinagorom. Derin smiled and answered the call.

“My guy, how far nau[9]?” Chinagorom greeted.

 “I dey o[10]. I can’t wait for next tomorrow[11]. I’m itching to be back in Nigeria already,” Derin said, and Chinagorom burst into laughter.

“Don’t let your country people[12] hear you sha[13]. What’s up? You rarely call.”

“Can’t I change?”

Chinagorom gave a sarcastic scoff. “Guy, abeg[14], talk in the future possible tense.”

Derin chuckled. “You no well[15]. I just wanted to remind you that you are my ride from the airport.”

“Noted, Captain Aderinsola Cole.”

They chatted a bit about the mid-week service Chinagorom left before he called Derin and the send-off dinner his colleagues had put together for him.

“There was this babe there that wanted to use style to chyke[16] me,” Derin said to Chinagorom as he walked into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water.

Oshey[17], hot kek[18],” Chinagorom teased.

“Shut up,” Derin responded, and Chinagorom burst into laughter. “China, I think something is wrong with me. Honestly, is it normal that I don’t desire marriage or any romantic relationship with anyone at my age? The last lady I met at church and tried to go out with told me I have past issues to deal with and that I am emotionally unavailable.”

“Hmmm.”

Derin hated that sigh and how portentous it was. With Chinagorom, it meant there was a lot to unpack, and he didn’t want to believe so. He was normal. He didn’t have any past trauma as Miriam put it.

Flashes of his last relationship before he left Nigeria flashed behind his eyes, and he gulped the water to wash the memories away. Those were his darkest and lowest days, and he hated recalling them.

“Guy, let’s talk when you’re back in the country. When we see face to face, we’ll be able to talk well.

Derin sighed and hummed his acquiescence before they exchanged byes and ended the call.

 

***

 

HELEN

Helen’s mouth turned sour as bile permeated her entire system. Her brain told her to scroll on to the next post, but her eyes were fixed on the picture before her and her thumb froze. The picture of the couple on the screen sent a tremor down her spine. Helen enlarged the picture to get a good look at the engagement ring the man was sliding onto the lady’s ring finger. It was nothing less than four carats. It wasn’t the size of the rock that got to Helen. It was the person getting engaged.

In what world did Elizabeth get engaged before her? Elizabeth just finished serving, and she was getting married? Just like that? And to none other than the son of a former governor?

It wasn’t fair. Not at all.

Helen sighed as the door outside her stall banged open.

“Did you hear that Elizabeth got engaged?” a female voice said.

“Whoever didn’t see the reel is probably not on social media,” a voice Helen was certain belonged to Ogechi answered.

The first lady squealed, “I go love o[19]. It was her dress and the ring for me.”

Helen sighed and stepped out of the stall. The flight attendants turned to smile at Helen.

“Hi, Helen,” they greeted and continued touching up their faces.

Helen smiled back and washed her hands as fast as she could to escape the restroom. She walked away as soon as she finished drying her hands with a paper napkin to avoid any small talk. Running to the sanctuary that was her office, she struggled not to recall not to think about the viral engagement or the fact that her marriage would have been four years today if it had pushed through. She swallowed as she walked around her desk to her chair.

Trying hard but failing to suppress the ache in her chest, her mind wandered back to that day four years ago, and tears stung her eyes. People said time healed all wounds. Why was hers only getting worse with each year?

God, help me, please.

 

***

 

SOPHIA

Sophia Azazi-Onoja helped herself out of the hospital gown and back into her Chloé tailored suit. She picked up her Michael Kors handbag and walked out of the changing room. Her assistant, Athaliah, collected her purse as soon as she crossed the threshold of the changing room. The young lady informed the older woman that the doctor said the results of her checkup would be out in a week, and that he would schedule her for an appointment following the results of the test.

Sophia made it a habit to get a full body checkup twice a year since cancer sprung up on her over a decade ago. January and August were the scariest months in her year. She dreaded the prodding and poking that came with the medical examinations. She feared the week it took to get the results of all the tests conducted. Those seven days shook her and left her terrified and hoping she did not have another incurable disease.

Sophia nodded and asked for her schedule for the rest of the day. Athaliah pulled out an iPad from her bag and pulled up Sophia’s schedule without faltering or breaking the assigned rule of always staying one step behind Sophia. Athaliah listed out all of Sophia’s engagements as they rode the elevator down to the parking lot of the hospital. Her assigned bodyguard got out of the passenger seat and opened the door to the right, back seat as Sophia got to her Cadillac Escalade. The SUV drove out of the hospital and headed towards Ikoyi.

One of Sophia’s phones rang, and her assistant answered with her calm, distant yet polite voice.

“You’ve reached the official line of Sophia Azazi-Onoja. How may I help you?”

Sophia busied herself with going through the draft her speechwriter sent her while her assistant dealt with the call. She circled an entire paragraph and left a comment instructing him to bin the paragraph. She was delivering a speech at a NUPENG conference, and humour was not her style at such events.

“I’m sorry, but Mrs Azazi-Onoja is unavailable to answer any calls right now. If you leave a message, I assure you it will get to her,” Athaliah responded to whoever was on the line.

She went silent again and said, “Madam, I’m sorry, but she can’t answer calls right now―”

Athaliah sighed, pulling the phone away from her ear and covering the mouthpiece.

“Ma’am, she said to tell you that she’s Veronica Asomugha, and the name is supposed to ring a bell.”

Sophia looked up from her speech and frowned. Why was Veronica calling her after twelve years? She had paid her off with a whooping sum of ten million naira after she buried the story. She had bought her silence and instructed her to never show her face again.

“I’ll take it,” Sophia said and collected the phone from Athaliah. “Hello.”

“Ahh. Mrs Azazi-Onoja, good afternoon. Longest time―”

“Spare me the hypocritical pleasantries and go straight to why you called me,” Sophia snarled.

“Madam, no dey talk like that nau[20]. You see ehn[21], the money wey you give me don finish[22]. This economy is not smiling at all.”

Sophia swallowed hard and rubbed the bridge of her nose. Was this wretch trying to finagle money out of her? Did she know she had dealt with militants before, and she hadn’t been swayed by their unjustified demands?

“The long and short be say[23] I need fifty million naira, ma. You know somebody go factor[24] this recession and the price of dollar. In fact, Madam, I just use that one help you.[25] I know say oil price dey fall[26].”

Sophia chuckled. “E be like say you don knack head for ground[27]. Shi shi like this, I’m not giving you[28].”

Her use of pidgin elicited a soft gasp from Athaliah. Sophia ignored it and continued, “Do you understand me? Now take your exploitation elsewhere before I have the police arrest you and show you what hell fire looks like.”

The girl laughed. “Madam, you funny o[29]. Bovi na your broda abi[30]? See, I’m not playing here. If I don’t receive the money this week, I will tell the whole world everything.”

Sophia’s heart lurched.

“From the pregnancy to how you disposed of the baby. Everything like this I will sing it like keneri.[31] I don talk am for English make you understand am well well[32]. I go send my account number now[33],” the girl said and hung up.

Sophia gritted her teeth and handed the phone back to Athaliah.

“Madam, is everything all right?”

No. A bloodsucking, disgraced journalist is blackmailing me.

She turned and gave her a small smile.

“Yes. It’s just a blithering fly who thinks its buzzing wings will intimidate the spider. Call Matthew for me. Tell him I have work for him,” Sophia said.

She twiddled her Mont-Blanc pen and tried to focus on the justified paragraph in front of her. The black words looked like gibberish to her, and all she remembered was that evening when she made the worst decision of her life, after marrying her first husband. Sophia wasn’t sure whether the goose bumps that carpeted her arms were a result of the chill of the vehicle or the memories of the grave crime she committed. She shook her head, not wanting to go down that rabbit hole. Matthew would have to take care of it. That was the only solution.

[1]                     Make it snappy.

[2]               Someone who does rubbish.

[3]               Richard Mofe Damijo, a Nigerian veteran actor.

[4]                     Already.

[5]               C’mon or please.

[6]               A slang meaning to arrive with swagger or impress people.

[7]               There’s no place like home.

[8]               Runaway or escape. Used to refer to the desire to emigrate from the country.

[9]               How are you?

[10]             I’m fine o. O is a word used for emphasis.

[11]             The day after tomorrow.

[12]             Compatriots.

[13]             A word used for emphasis.

[14]             Please.

[15]             You’re crazy.

[16]             Woo or flirt with.

[17]             A Nigerian slang used when you think something is really cool or amazing.

[18]             Cake.

[19]             A slang used when someone wishes they could fall in love.

[20]             Madam, don’t talk like that.

[21]             A word used for emphasis.

[22]             The money you gave me has finished.

[23]             Is that.

[24]             Has to factor in.

[25]             I was being considerate with that amount.

[26]             I know oil prices are falling.

[27]             It seems like you are crazy.

[28]             I’m not giving you a single penny.

[29]             Madam, you’re funny.

[30]             Bovi (a famous, Nigerian stand-up comedian) is your relative, right?

[31]             Like a canary.

[32]             I’ve said it in English so you can understand.

[33]             I’ll send my account number now.




Books in This Series

Love’s Beacon

Book 2 of The Way Home Series – A Nigerian Christian Romance Novel

Reviews

Heni A.
Heni A.
Goodreads Reviewer
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IyanuOluwa literally painted each character’s flaws and weaknesses in a way that we could understand that nobody is perfect and that was the most captivating of the book. I would definitely recommend it a 100 times to anyone if I could❤️💐💐
Ibukunoluwa Oyekanmi
Ibukunoluwa Oyekanmi
Goodreads Reviewer
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I truly loved this book. I couldn’t drop it. I was distracted all day, just waiting to finish work so I could get back to it.
Chidinma Nnalue
Chidinma Nnalue
Goodreads Reviewer
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Beautifully written, engaging and suspenseful, Love's Direction stands out as a worthwhile read!
Delali S.
Delali S.
Goodreads Reviewer
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The author did an amazing job of bringing several characters who weaved the story at its fast pace.

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