Always One More Time #3 By Temitope Ogunyinka
The lush three-bedroom penthouse apartment belonged to Audrey. It was one of the few things gifted to her father. Audrey slept in the master bedroom, the second room was an extension of her closet and the smallest of the rooms was Funlola’s. Dele had talked, more like coerced Audrey, into letting Funlola stay with her; claiming that Funlola needed a closer place to her work and school than coming all the way from Mushin. Dele’s initial plan was for her to live with him, but Funlola had objected to that. She didn’t want him breathing down her neck whenever she came late from partying or doing whatever she liked.
Funlola walked over to the spacious, modern kitchen and pulled open the fridge. There was no left-over food to eat. It wasn’t like any of them knew how to cook or do any house-hold chores, they usually bought take-out and had a cleaner who came twice a week to clean the house and do the laundry. Gosh, I should have just bought take-out, she thought to herself. But then the traffic had been horrendous! She was more bothered about getting home than stopping at an eatery or local joint to get food.
She took out the large plastic bowl of ice-cream and shut the fridge. Picking up a spoon from the plate-rack close to the sink, she went back to the living-room and propped her legs on a pouffe as she took her seat. She thought back to Dele’s wedding proposal.
He had spoilt her silly with gift and taken her to Protea Hotel for their six-month anniversary. She hadn’t known the last gift would be a proposal. After dinner he had dropped on one knee and opened the purple, jewellery box he had kept hidden throughout the evening, to reveal the solitaire diamond ring. She had looked at him in shock. She didn’t need to be a seer to know some people were staring in their direction. Waiting for her response, but she was not ready to give him a yes.
“Erm . . . Dele I would think about it.”
The smile on his face disappeared instantly, his face becoming scrunched up in confusion. “Why? What’s there to think about? I thought you loved what we had.”
Funlola grabbed her glass and took a sip of the white wine and dropped it back on the table, wishing he would get up and stop making a spectacle of himself. “It’s not that. I do . . . But baby we never spoke about marriage. We’re still getting to know each-other. . .”
Dele placed the velvet box on the table. “There are people who get married with only knowing each-other for a mere five weeks or ten weeks, and their marriages last. Funlola I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Do you feel the same way?”
One million dollar question. “Dele, you know I do.” Lie lie. “But I don’t want us to rush this. Please get up and let’s talk it out.”
He got up and she could hear the ‘awws’ and ‘Eh-yas’ in the room. Na dem sabi. She avoided looking at any of them. Later on in the evening she had made it up to Dele by giving him a crazy night in bed. She had not spoken to him since that day. She avoided his calls and didn’t read his BBM messages. She was still thinking about it. She scooped a little ice-cream and popped it in her mouth; the vanilla melting on her tongue and causing her to sigh.
Dele wasn’t a bad guy. He was extremely good-looking with his perfectly shaped side-burns and little moustache. Tall and lean, fair-complexioned. His beautiful body and what he did with her made her have goosebumps just thinking about him. He was clearly crazy about her. Asides all that they had a thing or two in common. They both wanted to travel the world, they both loved partying and having fun, they enjoyed each-other’s company in bed, but . . . She sighed. There was no but. She just wasn’t sure if she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. Marriage just wasn’t her thing, especially when she remembered her childhood.
Funlola shook her head. She didn’t want to remember it. Not now. She released a deep sigh. Throwing caution to the wind she picked up her phone and ignored the alerts on social media. She called Dele and he answered on the first ring.
“Hi Dele. How have you been?”
“Funlola what games are you playing?! You know I’ve been calling you like crazy for a couple of days. You don’t answer my pings and you just happen to not always be at home when I come over!”
She closed her eyes as he ranted and took a scoop of ice-cream. When he was done she said in her baby voice she knew he couldn’t resist, “I’m sorry baby. I’ve been busy nau. You know I’m rounding off my courses at Business school. And then there’s work. It’s been hectic.”
She heard him sigh and knew she had victory.
“Okay. How are you? Are you free now?”
“Yes, I am. You want to hang out at Purple Lake tonight?”
“Do you need to ask? Bae, I’m here for you. It’s like you’ve forgotten I want to marry you. . .”
She rolled her eyes. He better get this idea of marriage off his mind.
Adesewa took the laptop off her laps and placed it on her bed. She rubbed her eyes tiredly; fatigue wrapping it’s arms around her petite frame. She yawned and dropped her feet on the floor. She picked up her phone and her eyes widened when she saw fourteen missed calls. She had placed it on silent because she didn’t want anyone disturbing her work. It wasn’t a known number and her TrueCaller App revealed nothing ‘cause her data was off.
She got up from the bed and walked to the bathroom to ease herself while dialling the number. The person picked on the third ring.
“Hello, erm – good evening. This number called me a couple of times.”
“Hi Ade. It’s Daniel.”
Her heart skipped a beat. She licked her lips. “Daniel?” She had waited all the while for him to call her and had grown restless waiting for him. She suddenly felt irritated. “Sorry, which Daniel am I speaking with?”
He gave a nervous laugh. “Wow! Are there so many men like me that have the same voice you love?”
Adesewa hissed and cut the call on him.
“If this is how he wants to bridge the gap between us then he’s off to a rough start.” She muttered to herself.
She went to bed that night with thoughts of him on her mind. She recalled when they were still together. A particular day bringing a smile on her lips . . . When she was cooking for him and had asked him to perform the little task of putting salt in the rice; he had ended up putting detergent soap. Dinner that night had been disastrous; throwing up the contents in their stomach. Adesewa chuckled. But the smile on her face soon fell from her lips. She doubted if they could ever get back to their old love. It hurt her deeply to find out what he did. Efe’s text-message to him about her pregnancy revealing the truth to her.
She had confronted him but he denied it. Telling her he could never cheat on her. That he loved her and wanted to marry her. She had taken his words, but in her heart she didn’t believe him. She had been torn in-between asking Efe and keep pressing Daniel for the truth. Later she didn’t need to do that, he came on his own and confessed. Telling her his weakness had provoked him. That he couldn’t help himself. Shock and rage had enveloped her. She slapped him. Kicked him. But nothing took the pain in her heart. Then he told her he was being forced to marry her. That was Daniel’s last blow to her as she packed her things and got herself transferred to Abuja. The chairman of the company being her Late father’s friend. Now . . . Now she was back in Lagos.
After she got back from Abuja she had told her friends to keep quiet about her being back. Audrey was his cousin and she could spill the news to him. But now was it fate or God that had brought them back together? Or was it best nothing happened between them again? Adesewa shoved the thoughts from her mind and forced herself to sleep.
Purple Lake was a high-class nightclub in Lagos where most of the elites went. The club’s signature cock-tail purple in colour and had a distinct taste that couldn’t be found elsewhere. But that wasn’t what drew people to the club. It was the people who frequented it and the ambience of the club; classy and exciting. The multi-coloured flashing lights on the dance-floor. The dim lighting on other parts of the club which gave room for obscenities. The DJ was on point; spinning different genres of music like he was born to do it. The waiters and waitresses in the club were equally efficient. That was why people spent a lot of money just to hangout there.
Ebuka swirled his drink and took a sip of it. The hot liquid going straight to his head and warmed his entire body. He leaned on the bar and scanned the room. He made eye-contact with a babe and looked away. She looked wasted. Desperate. Her dressing screamed that she needed a husband. Even if he was wrong, he didn’t go for such women. He looked to the other side of the room to see guys and girls grinding each-other on the dance-floor. Jarring his attention from the scene, he felt his cell-phone vibrate in his pocket. He dug it out from the front pocket of his jeans trousers.
He stared at the screen. There was no use picking the call. He wouldn’t hear her in the first place and asides that he wasn’t in the mood to talk to her. He cut the call and looked up just in time to see Dele walk in with his woman. Oh no . . .
Funlola was looking beautiful in black jeans trouser and a gold sequinned top. Simple yet elegant. He wondered how his friend had managed to hook such a beauty when it was the both of them that had sighted her at the same time; Dele had been the lucky one. But Ebuka was cool with it. He shared a secret with Funlola that on one knew about. Dele spotted him and led his girlfriend in his direction
She shouted over the music; greeting him with a smile. She leaned in and pecked him on both cheeks and moved back. Her perfume intoxicating. “It’s good to see you!”
He simpered. “You know I can’t say the same thing about you!”
A smirk on her face she said, “Na wa for you sha! Even in the new year you’re still the same! Don’t you ever change?”
“You guys better not start tonight! Ebuka you know she’s the woman I’m getting married to!”
Ebuka watched as Funlola’s countenance suddenly changed form confident to looking uncomfortable at the mention of marriage. He smiled and shook his head at her. He knew her type. Ashewo propa!
Dele ordered a drink for each of them. Afterwards he took her hand and led her to a seat at a private corner. Minutes later he saw the both of them on the dance floor digging it with each-other. Ebuka was feeling Funlola’s moves and could imagine dancing with her to a slow jam. He shook his head and looked away from the both of them. He downed the last of his drink and faced the bar man.
John blew his nose on his handkerchief, then he grabbed the glass of water in-front of him and took a sip.
“I told you to always wear a jacket. It seems the cold gets to you too much.” Stephanie chided him and forked a slice of chicken into her mouth.
He coughed into his handkerchief and said, “I don’t know jare. You know the heat is just too much and I can’t help but use the A.C . I don’t know how you manage with just putting on that.” He motioned to the armless peach gown she wore. Her fair skin glowing like she had just rubbed oil on it.
“Oh really? I didn’t think you noticed Pastor John.”
“But seriously you need to take better care of yourself. . .”
“I agree.” He wasn’t up to eating. He just needed to sleep. “So can we close the deal on the house soonest?”
She quirked her brow. “Ahn-ahn. Why the hurry?”
He shrugged. “Nothing major. Just want to have my own place and from there I can think of settling down. I’m taking it one step at a time.”
“Oh, I see. Any girl in mind?”
He coughed and smiled a little. “No, not yet. But I have the need to set things ready.”
“Hmm . . . Okay then. I would work out the remaining details and finish up the paperwork.”
“Thanks dear. I’ve to get going. Need to get some rest.”
“Make sure you get something for that cold.”
He signalled for the waiter to bring the bill and within minutes he sorted everything out and he was walking Stephanie out to their cars.
“Thanks for lunch. Would call you later.” She waved at him and drove off. John got into his car and headed to his parents’ place.
Traffic was a killer and he moved along the road slowly while he hummed to the tunes of Donnie Mcclurkin over the speakers in his car. He thought of God’s faithfulness in his life and how far He had brought him. Despite the ridicules in his life because of his sexual state and girls doubting if he was truly heterosexual.
He chuckled. He remembered when had been so frustrated and pushed to the wall to prove them wrong, but he hadn’t. Every-time he was pushed to the edge, God was always there to catch him and lead back on the right path. There was nothing he could do but leave them to their own thoughts and come to their own conclusions. He knew deep within him he was doing what was right. And now, he was looking forward to settling down with the right person. The woman God had in mind for him.
He abstained from any relationship until he got clearance from God that she was the one he would settle down with. Unfortunately, despite seeing so many single ladies in church, none was for him. In the meantime, while he was still single, he had his ministry and import business to occupy him. For now . . . That was enough for him.
Zainab adjusted the screen so they could see her properly. She wore a wig to cover-up the hair disaster she had going on. Not like she wasn’t free with her girl-friends, but she didn’t need them over-worrying about her hair loss.
“You did what?” Audrey asked and pushed her phone to one corner to hear gist. Chai! The girl too like aproko.
“She said she cut the call on him. When in actual fact she was holding herself back from begging him to come over.”
Zainab winked at her friend over the Skype video call.
Adesewa folded her arms and looked away from the screen and Zainab’s probing gaze. “You girls don’t understand. He wasn’t acting like he wanted to be forgiven. He was being all comfy and intimate like what happened two years ago was just a figment of my imagination.”
“But you should give him a chance. He probably knows you’re going to make it too hard for him to make amends.”
Adesewa hissed and looked at Audrey. “Amends can’t be made when he has a child and a woman he’s getting married to.”
“Do you know if they are still getting married? Gosh . . . why do you behave as if you’re one of those characters in those stupid soap operas that lack sense to take action and cry when it’s too late to fix things. Would you rather talk to him when he’s married?” Audrey snapped.
Adesewa’s laptop faced both Adesewa and Audrey, so she could see Audrey’s weird reaction. Zainab and Adesewa looked at each-other and at Audrey.
“Babe are you on?” Zainab asked.
Audrey gave a half-shrug. She picked her phone up and tapped on it. “Have cramps.”
“Eh-ya pele. Have you taken anything for it?” Adesewa was concerned.
“No – do you have any drugs?”
“Yeah, it’s in my bathroom in the cabinet above the sink.”
Audrey got up and walked out of the room. Both girls bust into laughter.
“Poor girl. The thing is making her act like a -”
“Bitch?” Zainab Interjected.
“Haba, that’s too harsh! You know those things make our hormones sky-rocket. . .”
“Whatever. So as we were saying, I think you should give the guy a chance. Especially since you are not yet over him.”
Adesewa’s smiling face turned to a frown. “I am.”
Zainab scratched her bum and pinched a small pimple. “No, you’re not.” She rubbed her hand on her bare lap.
“I have moved on with my life. I’m currently seeing someone.”
“Akin?” Audrey said and took her seat next to Adesewa again. “That’s not serious.”
Zainab watched as her friend’s face squeezed-up like it did whenever she got angry. “Are you girls al-right at all?! Why are you all of a sudden telling me to give Daniel a chance? Have you forgotten what happened between us? Who said he won’t do the same thing again?”
“Ade you’re so uptight!”
“My brother is not a bad catch. You know my mum likes you.” Audrey winked at Adesewa and she cringed.
“Your brother? God forbid!”
“First your cousin and now your brother? Are you thinking well at all?”
Zainab rolled her eyes at the both of them.
“I heard Dele proposed to Fu-fu.” Audrey said out of nowhere.
“Why do you always call her that?” Zainab directed the question at Audrey. She hated the name.
“I like it.”
“It sounds like you’re referring to a little white hairy dog.” Zainab said.
“Well maybe she is if she sleeps around as much as you say she does.” Adesewa said. Zainab knew she didn’t like Funlola for anything. According to her she was too ‘somehow’. “How can Dele want to marry her?”
“What’s that saying? That sheeps of the same flock . . .”
Ade laughed. “Mumu . . . Birds of the same feather!”
Audrey hit her arm. “You sha get what I mean.”
“Do you guys realize you have digressed again from Daniel. I will end it.” Zainab looked pointedly at Adesewa. “Ade you don’t know how much that guy suffered after you left. Remember Audrey didn’t let us rest with all the details. So you are going to call Daniel back and listen to what he has to say.”
“I concur.” Audrey said.
Adesewa looked at the both of them, hissed and walked out of the room.
Efe leaned against the wall and faced the concrete floor as she held her tummy for dear life. She grimaced and dropped her hand-bag on the floor. She had been feeling sharp pains in her stomach for the past couple of days.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded but didn’t look up. The pain was subsiding. “Yes, I’m fine.”
“I don’t think you are.”
She looked up to see her lecturer with a concerned look on his face. “Oh . . . Mr Ben-”
“Chukwuemeka.” He corrected.
Efe ignored his correction. “I didn’t know it was you.”
“Does that mean you wouldn’t have lied if you knew it was me? Me being a lecturer that is . . .”
The smirk on his face revealed the dimple he had. Efe looked away from the small hollow and back at him. “No. I’m okay.” She stood up straight. She took a deep breath and looked at him as if to say ‘see, I’m fine.’
“Hmm . . . Okay. Take care of yourself then.”
“Thank you sir.”
He nodded and walked away from her. Efe picked her bag from the floor. She hung it on her shoulder and went on her way to the cafeteria to get dinner and go back to her room to rest.
Once in her room she decided to call Daniel. Her room-mate, Chinyere, wasn’t around, so she could make her phone call comfortably. She had called him yesterday but his phone was switched off. Today she dialled his number three times before he picked it up.
At the sound of his deep voice her heart leaped. She took a deep breath.
“Hey Efe how’s it going? How’s school?”
“Fine thanks. How’s Eduwa?” Efe preferred calling her daughter Eduwa. It was her daughter’s Edo name. It was also Efe’s late mother’s name.
“She’s great. Mum took her home last week and she’s been there for a while now.”
Efe gave a light chuckle and rested her head on her pillow. “I’m sure she’s having fun. Your mum likes spoiling her.”
“Yeah. Her youngest grand-baby.”
“I tried calling you earlier but couldn’t reach you.”
“Sorry jere. It’s work ish. What’s up?”
Efe took a deep breath and told him the little she and her dad had discussed. After she was done she heard Daniel sigh.
“Efe I would call you back later on and we can talk about it. Is that okay?”
She nodded. “Yes, it’s fine.”
“Bye dear. Take care of yourself.”
“Thanks. Bye.” She ended the call and dropped the phone on the bed. She was disappointed in how the conversation had gone. It wasn’t like she was expecting him to be jovial about their upcoming wedding. She knew he didn’t love her as she loved him. He didn’t look at her the way she saw him; as the only one she would ever want to spend the rest of her life with. If it was up to her she wouldn’t marry Daniel. She wouldn’t marry someone who didn’t love her. God wanted so much for her. He wanted her to be loved and cared for . . . Why couldn’t her father see it that way and stop insisting for them to be married?
Efe found herself going back to that night of her first sexual encounter with Daniel. Everyone had wondered how the good, pastor girl could commit such a sin and have sex before marriage. Now that was a story all wanted to hear . . .
NEXT . . .
She checked the time. It was a quarter past six and he was late! He knew she hated tardiness. Daniel had requested, no . . . Pleaded, to see her and she had agreed to it. He had asked to meet her at a classy restaurant at Victoria Island. Her friends cajoling her to meet up with him and hear him out. To her it was a waste of her money. Time was money. Though she couldn’t deny that she was also looking forward to seeing him. That information was best kept to herself or her friends would finish her with endless teases.
She looked up to see Daniel towering over her. She swallowed hard. God, you just had to make him handsome to taunt me . . . “Who said so?”
“Well, the frown on your face lets me know you’re pissed I came late ‘cause you hate tardiness. And when you’re angry you begin to think of all the reasons you love me and get excited about seeing me. Right?”
I hate this guy! They both knew he was right. “Wrong! Stop acting like you know me.”
He nodded. “I’m sorry. The Ade I knew way back used to love me before I was a prick and messed up the beautiful thing we had going.”
He dropped to his knees. “Ade, baby I’m sorry. Won’t you forgive me?”