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Her Dirty Little Secret

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I had the perfect plan in place when I pressed the reset button on my life. Keep a low profile. It was the only way to keep prying eyes off my secret. Getting into a romantic relationship with the town's number one bachelor, Mario Princeton, was not the best way to remain anonymous, but I couldn't take my eyes and hands off Mario. I tried to dismiss our tension as mere infatuation at first, but this was one truth I couldn't deny. I drew attention to myself, and now someone is blackmailing me because they know what I'm hiding. I should be honest with Mario and his family. I'm not sure how much longer I can continue to tell this lie. But, let's face it, I'm terrified of squandering my second chance. Mario is fantastic, but how will he react if he discovers that his fiancé was a prostitute?

Chapter 1: New Beginnings

“Nina, I just got to your flat, and it’s empty; where are you?”My chest tightened. “I’m sorry, Anika,” I said quietly before deleting and blocking her number. Then I sat in my car, parked along the roadside with the few belongings I had left in the booth, and cried for thirty minutes.My decision to leave the city and start over in a new place where no one knew me was unprecedented. I had awoken that morning next to a man who disgusted me. When I saw this chubby man snoring with his mouth agape, I quickly considered my life and decided that I was done prostituting myself. “You can always restart, Nina,” my father once told me, and that’s precisely what I did.I contacted a garage sale company, and they whisked away everything I pointed out in no time. I packed my belongings into a suitcase and said goodbye to the hectic Lagos city life and hello to a new life in a small town. Because Nigeria is such a large country, only a few people knew about Dudu town, but I knew about it because my father would not stop talking about how the city had so much potential and how beautiful the land was. “It looks like something out of a fairytale,” my father said, and I begged him to take me to this beautiful place with clean air and fields of beautiful flowers. But he never got around to taking me there. Three years later, he and my mother were killed in a car accident after a night out for fun. I was barely 16. Before my parents’ deaths, I was unaware of any surviving relatives, but when they died, they showed up and took whatever they could find. My uncle Kunle, on the other hand, took pity on me and brought me home to live with him, his evil wife, and their ill-mannered children. For the three years I lived there, I was practically the maid. When I was fed up, I fled to Lagos, where I began prostituting to make ends meet. I never forgot about the town my father was always raving about during the four years I spent weathering the storm in Lagos.It was one of those nights I couldn’t sleep, so I went online to look up things like “How To Tell Your Neighbour Is A Serial Killer.” After reading the article, I typed “Dudu town” into the search bar and only found a Wikipedia page with an image of a water fountain.“Gatekeepers,” I grumbled as I navigated to the jobs page. To my delight, a children’s art teacher position was available. I liked teaching children to dance, sing, and express themselves creatively. So, I applied right away. And I immediately regretted my decision.

What if they do background checks and discover this girl is a sl*t and decide I can't be around their kids!

I groaned in frustration, reviewing how the world was a judgmental place. I muffled my screams with my pillow and went to bed. Days later, much to my surprise, the headmistress of Princeton Nursery School contacted me.I got the job after an interview, much to my delight. I was ecstatic about my new future and vowed nothing would stop me. Dudu town was precisely what Father had described. On my arrival, I cried at the lovely scenery. The hills formed a picturesque view that made me cry even harder. I wished my father and I had been able to make this trip. Swim in the river, explore the hills, and befriend the locals. On days like this, I wish I had the magical powers to see my parents one last time. I imagined how disappointment would be written on their faces. My mother would have clucked before admonishing me, “Nina!!! How could you?” while my father would be beside her, peering at me through his glasses.I humped. I’d do anything to remain anonymous in this town and start over. Finally, I’ll make them proud.Looking down at my unpacked boxes and suitcase, I remembered Anika and her message. If she had been here, she would have helped me unpack; she has been my ace since I arrived in Lagos. We’d been on many adventures together, but I needed to do this alone, and I hoped she’d understand. The small room quickly became too stuffy, so I went outside for a drink.“Welcome to Dudu Town,” the bartender said as I approached the bar. I felt like ducking because I could feel other patrons’ curious eyes on me.I nodded. “Thank you.” I bit my lower lip to keep from saying anything else that would pique anyone’s interest in me. “Obscurity, remember?” I cautioned myself as I sat in the part of the bar with less lighting and a great view of the bar. I could easily read the patrons with one sweep of my eyes, and I could tell they usually come here to watch football and sling a beer or two after a long day at work.“How small is this town that you know everyone here?” The words came out of my mouth despite how hard I tried to keep my mouth shut and enjoy my drink; I needed to speak lest the thoughts in my head drown me and drive me to drink more than my fair share.I’ve lived here my whole life and been on this job for seven years, so yes, I know faces,” the bartender shrugged. “This one is on the house,” he said as he poured my drink.“Thank you so much,” I smiled, taking a sip.“My name is Bolu.”“Nina,” I responded, reaching out my hand, and he took it. “So, where are you from?” I took another sip from my beer to maintain my composure. “Abuja.”“Oh! Wow, capital city girl, huh?” I nodded and chuckled at my lie. “What exactly did you do there?” Sensing my discomfort, Bolu quickly switched. “I am sorry for the barrage. I like interacting with my customers because they come to the bar for two reasons. They are either too sad or too happy, and I am always interested in a good story.“It’s fine.” I chimed in. “I used to be a teacher in Abuja.” The lies tasted like bile on my tongue. Bolu nodded in a “dad” manner, and I felt terrible for deceiving such a nice man.“I begin as a teacher at Princeton Elementary School tomorrow. So maybe I shouldn’t drink so much.”Both of us burst out laughing. It was a lovely sound, and I was grateful for it. However, we were interrupted when the bar door opened, and all of the customers stood to greet this person with cheers.I returned my gaze to Bolu, perplexed as to why everyone was on their feet, but he, like the others, was also filled with admiration. “Who is the handsome man that walked in, and why is everyone treating him like royalty?”Bolu responded enthusiastically, “He comes from an old line of kings that ruled this area. The monarchy might be history now, but the royal family still has much influence. They are the richest in town.”“So *ss kissing then.” I dismissed, visibly irritated by this rich guy now. Bolu chuckled. “Something like that.” I nodded and returned to my drink.Bolu moved from one foot to the next. “I had no idea Mr. Mario was coming today. Please take the next stool, dear. He enjoys the dark corner of the bar. He is the reason I never changed the bulb.”I chuckled. “Are you serious?”I scolded myself; it's just a seat. But I refused to budge because I wouldn't say I liked how the wealthy treat the poor.The rich man stood beside me, and poor Bolu looked uncomfortable now.“It’s fine, Bolu. Allow me to sit in the sun today.”I kept sipping my drink as if he was not there.Nonetheless, he kept staring at me.“You’re pretty,” he said flatly. His outburst shocked me, but I managed to keep my cool. He probably says this to every newcomer in town.“Okay?” I responded curtly.“My name is Mario.”“Yeah, Bolu already gave me a rundown of your majesty.” Bolu’s gaze moved from one person to the next as the bar fell silent.Mario burst out laughing, breaking the semi-silence, and I couldn’t help but laugh with him. Bolu moved to the opposite side of the bar, relieved that everything was fine in this corner.“What is your name, or should I call you pretty lady?”I made a vomiting sound to emphasize how stupid his line was, and we giggled like teenagers.“I’m just a girl at the bar.” I shrugged, this question jolting me back to reality.Mario’s beautiful brown eyes widened. “You’re a delight.” I was not new to the male gaze and receiving compliments like this at a whim, so I shrugged in response.” But you’re mean.”“I apologize; I had a difficult day.” I sipped my beverage.Mario’s eyes widened further in excitement. He shifted on his stool conspiratorially and whispered, “Me too, and know what we need to do to ease the stress.”Mario had a sly grin, and I had a feeling I knew where this was going, but I asked anyway, “What is it?”“We should f*ck it out.” His voice had lost its wit. It’s turned sultry.Five minutes ago, I was a girl who moved to this town to live a quiet life, obsessed with starting over, and one look at this guy made me want to throw it all away. I didn’t like him and thought he was pompous a few seconds ago.I paused and followed the count-to-ten rule before saying. “We should go do that right now.”

Chapter 2: This Is Awkward

"We should have gone to the bar bathroom. "I'm afraid this walk to your house will zap the joy from our systems."Mario was right. Leaving the warmth of the bar and feeling the cool evening breeze caressing my hair has brought me back to my senses. But not completely. I was still lusting after this man who towered over me, and I could not get over the scent of his perfume, which smelled far too good for my liking. I could tell he was a very tidy person. I winced at the thought of my apartment, which was still in disarray."In any case, it's probably filthy." His deep voice pierced my thoughts and drew me back to him.“Huh?”"The bar's restroom."I responded by nodding. It's a good thing none of us thought to go to the bathroom because things would have turned out differently. Mario paused to exchange pleasantries with a man halfway on his knees in reverence.

"Why do you let


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