Adesewa crossed her legs at her knees and removed the crease from her gown. Audrey had coerced her into wearing a mid-night blue gown that barely reached her knees. It was backless and showed off her curves. The gown was complemented with bright, purple stiletto shoes. Her weavon packed up elegantly on her head.
Adesewa had been sceptical about the whole attire; thinking it would make her seem desperate for attention and she had told Audrey so.
Audrey shook her head. “It’s not desperate. It’s chic and classy. Make sure you stand well and walk straight o! Don’t expose the k-leg you have.”
Ade had reached out and slapped her hard on the arm. “I don’t have K-leg jor!”
“Ouch! What’s wrong with you? I’m just giving you advice biko!”
She checked the time. It was a quarter past six and he was late! He knew she hated tardiness. He had asked to meet her at a classy restaurant at Victoria Island.
Daniel had requested, no . . . Pleaded, to see her and she had agreed to it. 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 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?”
“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 how much you love me and are excited about seeing me. Right?”
I hate this guy! They both knew he was right. “Wrong! Stop acting like you know me.”
“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 knelt on the floor on both knees. “Ade baby I’m sorry. Won’t you forgive me?”
Adesewa drew back. She had not expected this display of drama. “Isn’t it better you just sit down?”
“Not unless you say you forgive me.”
Is this what he’s playing at? Her eyes blazed up in anger, “Then you will kneel down there tey-tey!”
He reached out to take one of her hands but she slapped his hand away. He didn’t give up and took one of her hands in his. This time he succeeded. His hand on hers sent shivers down her spine.
“Ade, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. What can I do to make it up to you? Please give me a chance . . .”
She didn’t look at him and stared off in the distance; her jaw set and breathing heavily.
Adesewa didn’t budge as Daniel took off her blue and black glasses and placed it on the table. He said in a gentle tone, “These are the pretty eyes I have missed for a year. You don’t know how many times I stared at your pictures Ade. You don’t know how much I missed you.” He leaned in and planted a kiss on her lips and her eyes widened in shock.
He continued, “You don’t know how much I regret doing what I did. Let’s start afresh. Let’s forget the past.” He planted another kiss on the tip of her nose. She gently pushed him away from her to gather her senses.
But it was too late. She had lost it already. Just two small kisses and my head is spinning out of control? Lord please have mercy!
She snatched her hand back. “Daniel please sit down and let’s talk. Stop drawing unwanted attention to us.” When he made no move to get up she added, “If you don’t get up I would leave this place.”
He held up his palms as he got up, and pulled out the seat opposite her. He sat down.
“First of all, don’t try such a stupid thing again. I didn’t find it funny -”
“It wasn’t meant to be fun-”
She held up her hand. “I’m not done.”
Daniel kept silent.
“You can’t just come here and beg me to forgive you just like that. I know it’s been a year plus since it happened, but such wounds are hard to heal. Let’s just get down to why we are here.”
“Are you done?”
Shoo? She nodded.
He clasped his fingers on the table. “Okay. It’s really good to see you Adesewa. How have you been? You look beautiful by the way.”
Adesewa was confused at his sudden change in demeanour. “Thank you.”
“You still work for that auditing firm?” He asked.
She nodded. “Yes, but I would be resigning very soon and starting up something of my own.”
Ade got tired of his new behaviour. “What are you trying to do Daniel?”
He had a blank look on his face. “As per?”
“Why are you acting weird.”
He stretched his arms side-ways. “Ade what do you want from me? A minute ago you didn’t want me begging you. You didn’t want me telling you how much I still love you and still want what we had. Now, you don’t want me to make a normal conversation with you? Woman what do you want?”
Adesewa shifted her eyes away from his.
“Let’s get out of this place.”
She looked back at him. “To?”
He gave a half-smile. “You know how we used to do it.”
“I thought you said we were starting afresh.”
“We are. Just a simple dinner between two, old friends.”
She didn’t know if it was such a good idea, but she realized she was tired of fighting. It was pointless. She smiled. “Okay.”
They both got up and left the restaurant. Once upon a time they would watch a movie and later buy suya from a road-side vendor and eat it in the car. They would talk and make-out. This time they got the suya and sat in his car. They spoke on several subject matters. They laughed. She had tears running down her cheeks from the laughter.
“What church have you been attending since you got back?”
She shrugged. “None. I’ve been busy.”
“Too busy for God?”
Adesewa looked away with guilt on her face. She played with the onions on the newspaper that formerly held hot peppered Suya.
“I pray nau. I read my bible once in a while. At least I’m a Christian. Back in the church I attended in Abuja, I didn’t fancy the way married women looked at someone when they are single. They start praying for you and going all ‘God will do your own my daughter’, ‘the Lord sees your heart and would hear you’, ‘The husband is coming just be patient’. Then later they start pushing you to marry.”
Daniel chuckled. He shared the story of how a woman had knelt before a man to ask for his hand in marriage; ring in hand and all. “I mean it’s like women have suddenly lost their self-respect. Throwing themselves at men and acting like it’s normal. Why would you beg a man to marry you? My father would disown my sister if she ever did that.”
“Your father would spit fire.”
Daniel shook his head and took a sip of his bottled water. “You sef kno . . . Yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask, how did you get that ride?” He asked, referring to her Range Rover.
“My dad helped out with that. Birthday present.” She was the only child of her parents who worked as medical practitioners in London and spoilt her once in a while. They were as close as distance would allow them. Talking over the phone and chatting. Adesewa liked travelling there during her leave from work but living there permanently? She wasn’t so much interested.
“Oh yeah, you’re daddy’s favourite girl.”
“I added my own money too nau.” Adesewa hit his arm playfully.
“One thousand naira abi?”
“Funny . . .”
They shared a comfortable silence then she asked him the question that had been on her mind. “What about Efe? Are you guys still . . . Together?”
He didn’t look at her as he spoke. “Our parents . . . Well both our fathers are trying to put us together. Setting a wedding date and everything.” He turned to look at her then. “I’m trying as much as possible to stop the wedding. I’m -”
Adesewa forced herself to ask the next question. “Do you love her?”
“But maybe she loves you.” Adesewa recalled he had once told her of the crush she had for him when she was way younger. “How come you guys didn’t get married since?”
“It’s a long story . . . Don’t want to talk about it.”
She nodded. “Oh okay, could you take me back to my car? I want to go home.”
“Please Daniel . . . I’m tired.”
He obliged and takes her over to her house. When she’s home alone reflects on the time they spent together. It was just like the old-times. It was fun. But Efe was still in the picture. Adesewa took a bowl of ice-cream from the fridge. With Adele’s Someone like you playing on her home-theatre she got out her laptop to Skype Zainab. The song was about a woman who couldn’t get the guy she wanted ‘cause he ended up with someone else, and hoping she could find a guy like him. That was how Adesewa felt. But she didn’t want to find a guy like Daniel, she wanted only Daniel.
She did a slow dance for the man on the bed and blew a kiss at him. This was her man. He was her man for the moment.
“Funlola you can kill someone. Chai!”
She bit her lip and walked to the bed. She bent down and kissed him; trying as much as possible to hide her distaste for his breath. From there the rest was a crazy history for the both of them. After their ‘deal’, she had him sign the forms and placed them in it’s folder.
“Baby is that all? Just to sign the papers and that’s it?”
She shrugged. “Yes.”
“No other round?”
Hian! Go and meet your wife.“Bring your other accounts and I would show you what else I can do.”
He chuckled. “You bi Ijebu girl? You too like money!” His fat body shook the bed as he laughed. Funlola could smell the garlic and onions oozing out of his arm-pits like it was cooking up something. She shifted away from him.
“I like money. You like money. Isn’t that a common denominator to everybody? What does tribe have to do with it?” She said.
“You’re too smart to be in a bank my dear.”
Her eyes twinkled and she turned to look at him. “So what should I do Mr. Momodu? You have plans for me?”
The fat guy was one of the board of directors in a top firm in Nigeria. The money signs were ringing in her head.
“Of-course. Plans for you to be my second wife.”
She hissed and snapped her fingers as she said, “Tufiakwa!”
She rose from the bed. If that were the case then Dele was a far more better option. She dressed up and brushed her wine and black extensions that dropped at her shoulders. She applied her red lip-stick. She could feel his eyes on her. She smiled. Be looking but no touching.
Funlola got home exhausted. Her legs aching. She took off her heels, dropped her bags on the dining table and strode to the bathroom. She took a quick shower and dressed up in a black bum-short and a pink tank top. She hummed to a song on her phone as she ate the take-out Eba and Egusi she had purchased from a local food eatery on her way home.
The door bell rang. Funlola ignored it hoping whoever it was would leave.
It rang again.
“Oh nau! Just go and jump inside a river or something . . . don’t disturb me.” She grudgingly got up to check who it was as the ringing became more persistent. She wasn’t expecting anyone. Audrey was having dinner at her parent’s house. Dele had travelled to Ghana for a wedding. So who could it be? She pulled the door open and who stood before her other than Dele.
“Ahn-ahn Dele? What are you doing here?”
She moved back and allowed him in. The lights in the house made his bald head shiny. She held back a laugh. “Aren’t you supposed to be in Ghana?”
He took quick strides into the room and she locked the door. “Couldn’t go today. Would head there early tomorrow morning. How are you? How was work?”
She thought of her afternoon with Mr. Momodu and replied, “Work was very . . . engaging.”
He frowned as he took his seat. “What does that mean?”
She shrugged and sat next to him picking up from where she left off with her meal. “It means I had a hectic day at work. So why are you here? You didn’t call that you were coming.”
“Must I announce when I’m coming to see you? You should be ready for me any-time I come.”
She raised her brow as she chewed on a piece of meat. “What if I’m extremely busy?”
“Then you leave what you’re doing and face me.”
Funlola snorted. Men and their egotistical nonsense. She wasn’t in the mood for arguing with him. It would be a waste of her time. He was one of those ancient Yoruba folks who believed in a woman serving her man and waiting on him. He had been pushing her to learn how to cook and she had raised one excuse after another to avoid it.
“What about Audrey?”
She licked her fingers and said, “She went to her parent’s place. Not expecting her any-time soon.”
“Cool. I brought a movie we could watch together while you snuggle up in my arms.”
Funlola liked the sound of that. “So I can rub that Malteaser head of yours.”
He gave her a piercing gaze, a hint of smile on his lips. “Don’t tempt me love . . .”
She got up and went to the kitchen. She dropped the plastic bowls in the sink and washed her hands. Wiping them with a hand-cloth she went back to the living-room and found Dele facing the T.v, remote in hand. She dumped the cloth on a love-seat. His proposal was still pending; she was glad he hadn’t broached the topic yet. She needed time. She wasn’t sure she was ready to get married.
“So what movie are we watching?”
She scrunched her face. “That’s old. Thought you would bring something more recent . . .”
“But you always wanted to watch the movie again.”
True. She took her place by his side and he pulled her to his shoulder as they started the movie. He pulled her close and she rested her head on his chest. It was thirty minutes into the movie and his hands went to places that drove her crazy.
“Babe . . .”
“Yeah . . .” Funlola suddenly stiffened. She had an idea of what he was going to say.
“When are you going to give me an answer?”
She groaned inwardly. “Baby please not now.”
“Then when Funlola? You can’t leave me hanging like this.”
She sat to look at him. The anger etched on his face.
She pouted. “I know and I’m really sorry. I’m just really tired and want to watch this movie with you. I promise I would give you an answer soon.”
“I want an answer by the time I get back.”
She nodded. “Yes baby.”
She leaned closer to him and merged her lips with his briefly and returned her head to his chest. She knew she couldn’t keep posting him and would have to give an answer soon. She just needed more time. He would be back in a week. That was all she needed; time alone to think.
It was a mid-week service. The choir had just finished ministering to Great is Your Mercy by Donnie Mcclurkin and John went up the pulpit. He asked the congregation to rise up and praise God before they all settled down and he went ahead with his preaching.
“There are sometimes we listen to the choir ministration and feel convicted in our hearts. Other times it’s the message the pastor preaches that sends us running to the altar . . . Or maybe it’s a little of both. My question for you this evening is, what do you do with that message after you walk out of church?”
John knew this wasn’t how he had prepared to begin his message but he left it all to God. God spoke and John listened. John continued, “The choir has just sang about God’s mercy that is great towards us. His loving-kindness . . . His faithfulness to forgive when we cry out to Him for mercy. Is that what should be taken for granted each time we run to Him, only to go back to do the same thing? Telling ourselves we can still run to Him and beg for forgiveness when we sin again?”
“God-forbid!” A man in the congregation shouted.
“Exactly! That was what Paul said. God forbid. And yet we all find ourselves doing the same thing over and over and over again. When does it stop? When does the cycle of sin come to an end? When are you going to make up your hearts to stop? The bible tells us to approach the throne of grace for mercy. We should approach it not only when we are in dire need but every single day. You need grace everyday. Hence we pray without ceasing, saving up prayers in our prayer bank which we would draw upon at the needed time. Jesus said without Him we can’t do anything. Don’t rely on your own strength. Go to Him.”
John went on to preach for a couple more minutes before he made the altar call and had a dozen plus people rushing to the altar to surrender their lives to Christ. Thank You Lord. He prayed for them and the whole congregation and let the pastor round off with offering and the closing prayer.
After the service, he spoke with the pastor and met with a few people before he left. Outside, he found Daniel waiting for him beside his car.
“Danny what’s up?”
John opened his car and got in while his cousin got into the passenger’s side of the car.
“That was a good ministration. Had me thinking.”
John ignited the engine and reversed. “Thank God. So what did you think about?”
“My life. All the things that have been happening. It’s all just messed up.”
Traffic was light and he drove with ease. “You mean the stuff with Adesewa and Efe?”
“Yeah, dad still wants us to get married and I’m not interested. I just got reunited with Ade and I can’t see myself letting her go.”
John nodded. “So what are you going to do?”
“Don’t know yet. What do you advice?”
John shifted in his seat. He couldn’t fathom why people came to him for relationship advice when he was a novice in the field.
“You know marriage is for life right? No going back . . .”
From the corner of his eye he saw Daniel nod. “Yeah, that’s why I can’t afford to make a mistake. I think I love Ade. No, I mean I love her.”
John raised his brow. “Bro, are you sure? You sound confused.”
“I’m not sure if Ade wants to get back with me. I don’t want to break Efe’s heart and cause any problems between our families just for Ade to say she wants nothing to do with me.”
“Okay. Are you sure it’s just that? You sure it’s not ‘cause you also have feelings for Efe?” John turned to Daniel’s street. “You have to think this through and pray about it. Also, don’t get into any funny stuff . . .”
Daniel chuckled. “Yeah, I’m not making that mistake again. I’ve learnt my lesson.”
“Good to know.”
“You heard Shiny asked Funlola to marry him?”
John yawned. “Yeah, Funlola told me.”
Daniel chuckled as he alighted from the car. “I pity the guy. See you later.”
He looked at the time on his dashboard. It was a eight-thirty. He knew his mother wouldn’t be too happy. He was sure they would have finished dinner at home but he hurried back.
His family was wealthy. His father was a well-known senator in Lagos. His mother was a house-wife who catered to her family; her husband and three children. His elder brother, Nnamdi, was in America, married to a white woman with two kids of their own. John’s family wasn’t a close-knit one. They all had different personalities and preferred to be on their own. It was their mother that brought the family together with her love and faith. It was only John that had taken after her in regards to religion.
He had followed her to church, keenly interested in the thought of a God who could not be seen but could be heard. His curiosity had led to his encounter with God when he was eleven years old. He had not remained the same after that. He had made up his mind then to remain chaste until he got married. Despite his friends already sharing escapades of their early sexual encounters with their classmates and neighbours. On more than one occasion he came home perplexed about the whole thing.
His mother had always known what was wrong. He finally told her everything, and she had point blankly told him it wasn’t what God wanted. To John, if God didn’t like it then he didn’t want it. He couldn’t explain his resistance all those years. It was like the Lord had arrested his heart. And now at thirty-one he was waiting . . .
John didn’t want such confusion when it came to the woman he would finally settle down with. He had been praying to God that He would lead him to the woman he had saved himself for all these years. He had