For the past week Kike had been careful not to leave her phone lying around, and it wasn’t because it was a brand new white Blackberry torch. She had recently netted a new catch and she wasn’t taken any chances with any of the other girls who might want to steal her new guy’s number.

Of the many assets girls amass – shoes, bags, gold, lecturers – phone numbers are the most valuable. If you’re broke it can take some time to find someone to buy jewellery from you, and even then the price they’ll offer will usually be dagger short of a mugging. But there’s always a market for phone numbers of guaranteed pay masters – and the prices are standard: Five K for a junior aristo who normally pays about that much for a girl; ten K for one who pays more; and when the mugun in question is of the senator type, phone numbers can often sell for as high as 50 k.

Even when a girl doesn’t have enough money to pay upfront, a deal can be struck and the phone number handed over to her once she promises to pay after the she has met with the man. So you see, phone numbers are very valuable assets and girls guard them like mothers guard their new born babies.

And Kike had good reason to be weary of the other girls. Being her cousin and the one who brought her to the BQ, I was her confidant, and I guess she believes, the one least likely to steal from her – but not so with the other girls. A few days after she first moved in Mama began seeing one of her guys. Till today Mama swears she met the guy on her own but the general consensus is that she stole his number from Kike’s phone. It didn’t help Mama’s defence that she refused to let Kike or any of the other girls go through her messages to see if there was any evidence there.

Anyway, Kike had recently been coming back with dollars, takeaway pizza and a distinct air of superiority – the type a girl gets after spending the night in another woman’s luxury home while her cousin, yours truly, and mates sleep on a crowded mattress shared with body odours and bed bugs.

And Kike has never been the type to stop short of flaunting her good fortune. She peppered the girls’ jealousy with talks of how he licks her even after feeding her and giving her a backrub with scented oils. And according to her, afterwards all he wants to do is hold her as they both fall asleep.

It was too good to be true – a mugun who only pays to pleasure you and wants nothing in return – but that didn’t stop the girls hating her even more. She was pretty, young, looked butter even if she wasn’t, and like me she spoke good English – at least better than the rest of the girls.

I listened as she told them about his Versace bed spreads and I wondered if she was so lost in her own hype that she didn’t see the looks on their faces. Janet, especially, was doing such a bad job of hiding a deadly smirk behind her fake smile. I made a mental note to have a word Kike later, if she’ll listen.

Apart from explaining to her why it’s important to cover one’s sprouting corn, I was also going to lecture her on letting a man, who pays for sex, to take his mouth to her.

Now, the thing with hiding your phone is, one day you’ll slip. Kike slipped.

Exactly when Janet got to go through Kike’s phone, we shall never know. Nor would we ever find out how she knew which of the numbers on the phone belonged to the new chief paymaster. But one night, she, Janet, really put a lot of effort into looking good, and she wouldn’t tell anyone where she going or whom she was meeting. Coincidentally on the same night, Kike’s new guy called to call off a date they had.

Looking back now I feel like a rank amateur for not putting two and two together and arriving at Janet-haf-stole-the-boy! But even Kike didn’t suspect a thing. Not even when Janet hugged her affectionately to say goodbye while a taxi waited outside. Not one person, not me, not Kike, not Mama, not any of the other girls, could have imagined all the drama that was still to come that night.

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