Good evening my brothers and sisters in the Lord.
It is with a chill heart I bring you this episode. Please enjoy. I had terrible network during the weekend, even before the long ass rain.
IANS is on it’s way. But not today or tomorrow or next tomorrow. 😀 I’m posting this tonight because the only free time I may have this week is to feature other bloggers.
Anyways, I’ll be on Inspiration FM and Classic FM this weekend on Friday and Saturday respectively. I won’t be talking about cheating wives, though. It’s all about The Fourth Finger, sponsored by Etisalat and powered by Okadabooks. Please, keep a date.
Have a lovely night! *kisses!
Eyes followed him from the entrance door, all the way to the elevator and right up to his floor. They didn’t leave him when he stopped briefly to speak to one of the head accountants or when he stood before his personal assistant’s table to ask for some documents. The eyes followed him right into his office and disappeared only after he shut his door.
He was welcomed by flowers and condolence cards, an outpouring of sympathy from the G&M staff, which mildly irritated him. He stood away from them and called out to his PA who dashed in after a few seconds.
“Clear these things at once,” he ordered the short fellow, wondering why on earth someone had not gotten the commonsense to replace him with a female in his absence.
“Yes, Mr. Khalid,” the boy replied.
Khalid waited as he picked every single bouquet and card and deposited them outside the office.
“I am not to be disturbed.”
“Yes, Mr. Khalid.”
The boy hurried out. Khalid took his chair and felt the familiar smugness of the leather material he had missed. He proceeded to enjoy a long moment of absolute silence in which Sachi and Uju naturally came to mind. He got lost in the ‘What If’s’ and found them unhelpful. Dread filled him when it came to him that every phone call he would receive during the day would be from neither of them. They usually disturbed his work hours and back then he often took pleasure in ignoring their calls.
He cracked his knuckles and stretched out. His bones and muscles had been denied the rights of routine exercise over the past month. There was pain in his joints, and he decided, on whim, to stretch out his frame.
He rolled up his sleeves, dropped to the floor and began pushups. The exercise came with some pain but he enjoyed it. Unfortunately, his alone time was cut short when the door opened and the duo or Bankole and Guru walked in. He tilted his head up in a brief scan and returned to his pushups.
“Khalid, we heard you were back and stopped by to check on you.”
Khalid stopped and straightened up on his feet. He observed their faces. He actually had missed them. During the course of working together, both guys had fallen into the roles of younger brothers to him.
“We called many times but you wouldn’t pick,” Bankole pointed out.
“Hope you got our texts, though?” Guru asked.
Khalid nodded. “Thank you.”
“We could have come for the burial if you asked but we were told…”
“No one was invited. I had my wife cremated and my mistress taken to her father’s village for a proper burial.”
“Oh,” both guys said simultaneously.
“Sit down, abeg.”
They sat and Khalid took his seat as well. He rang his PA for coffee.
“So how have things been with you guys? Gomez, how is Beatrice?”
“We broke up and she’s moved on, as I have.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“Well, she’s enjoying the Eko life with a car and a house on the Island.”
“No way!” Khalid turned on his laptop. “Who’s making her happy like that?”
“One Seriki guy.”
“Seriki… the one whose uncle is the Oba?”
Khalid hissed. “I know that confused brat. He once came here to offer me double of what I’m paid to work for him. Imagine. Children don’t know their seniors again. So, that’s who our Queen Bea is rolling with now?”
Khalid smiled. “You still have feelings, young man.”
“Not when I’m with Ruky.”
Khalid pulled back a little. “Ms. Rompshaker?”
“That nyash go kill you.”
“And what of you, genius?” Khalid delivered Guru a smile. “What has your crazy head been up to apart from designs?”
“He’s in love,” Bankole revealed.
“And you won’t believe with whom?”
“Your fake girlfriend?”
“Ignore Bankole, abeg,” Guru said.
Khalid made an expression that showed something of a mix of amusement and surprise. “I don’t know what to make of it. Weird love? Geeky-meets-brilliance love?”
“It’s nothing, Khal. Ure and I had a thing in the past but for personal reasons I couldn’t continue with the relationship. But recently I discovered I wanted to spend more time with her and do stuff that were not work-related. I also started noticing things like the shade of her lipstick, color of her nail polish and her bum.”
“Sorry, but she has a bum?”
Khalid and Bankole laughed. Guru didn’t but mirth showed in his eyes.
“Because Banky’s babe has more than she needs. She can dash some to Ure.”
“But you really like her?”
“Then fire her. Don’t ever mix work with pleasure.”
“Well, she quit.”
“Long story. Madu’s in the mix.”
“I hope he didn’t sleep with her, though.”
“Thank God. That guy is excruciating.”
A knock was heard and the door opened. Khalid’s PA walked in with three mugs of coffee. He placed them on the table and left.
They conversed for the best of an hour and finally, the visiting duo left. Khalid felt the silence return once more but it was taken away when the door slowly creaked and Hope peeped in.
He abandoned the act of typing in his password on his laptop and grinned at the child.
“Uncle Khalid!” she yelled, pushing the door further in. Khalid left his table and went to sweep her into his arms for a hug. The smell of chocolate filled his nostrils and he held tighter, fighting the tears that burned his eyes.
“I missed you, my baby.”
“I missed you too, Uncle Khalid.”
Mrs. Tunji, who was at the door, watched them both for a while and then left the scene, shutting the door.
Khalid placed Hope on the table and tossed around her locks which had now formed a beautiful crop of soft brown hair. It wasn’t yet full but it was on its way.
“Will you go away again?”
“No, sweetie. I won’t.”
He wasn’t thinking about Sachi or Uju for the moment. He took in as much of Hope as he could, realizing she would become his healing balm if he was to survive his mourning period.
They spent the day together, doing lunch, games at the employee lounge and later on, ice-cream, before he took her home. After tucking her in, Mrs. Tunji offered him dinner but he declined. Still, she packed him some food which he dumped in the freezer the instant he got to his house. He then began the long process of getting rid of everything that was his life before Sachi and Uju’s deaths. It was a long process that took him the entire week but by Friday, his house was carrying a different look. The only thing left from the past was his beloved pool table. The new appearance left him feeling somewhat rehabilitated despite his pain. It was all he needed to move forward.
Beatrice sat before the front counter of her high-end jewelry shop, staring out with tear-brimmed eyes. Sharon was in a tirade over her recent aloof manner towards Seriki. It was a good thing the salesgirl was out to buy something and didn’t have to observe the agonizing moment. Beatrice’s present mood had built up over the past days, putting her in a frame of mind that kept her detached from Seriki. She had claimed the jewelry shop kept her busy but the truth was that she hardly put in any effort. Sharon had taken the project personally from the onset and had come up with something worth every kobo of Seriki’s money. The place stood on the famous Admiralty Way in Lekki and boasted of all the glitz that would attract worthy customers. It was yet to be opened to the public as it was still undergoing some inside job but it had been Beatrice’s hideaway for the entire week.
“God will sha deliver you, Bea! Because I can see that even small commonsense you don’t have!” Sharon shouted, continuing in her rant. “Constantly acting like a dunce! I can’t even comprehend! But I will not give up on you! The hold that idiot Bankole has on you must be broken by force, by fire! Even if I have to resort to spiritual means! You must be free of him! Because this is not normal again! Do you know what it means to have a man from a royal family throw himself at you like this and even the family accept you just like that?! You think it happens anywhere?! Ehn?! You think it happens?!”
“Sharon, it’s okay nau!” Beatrice threw out her first words since the tirade, wiping tears off her cheek.
“It’s not okay, Bea! It’s not okay! Seriki has done nothing to hurt you! He loves you! Look at all he has given you! Why can’t you just show appreciation by loving him back! Will it kill you?!”
Beatrice covered her face as the tears intensified.
“He’s fine, he’s wealthy, he’s from a royal family, he is cultured, he’s good in bed, he’s crazy about you! What else do you want?”
“It’s okay! Ah, Sharon!”
“Fine! I’ll stop. I’ll stop.” Sharon mellowed down, picking a medium-sized carton of gold bangles and placing it on the counter Beatrice was leaning on. She bent and searched her face.
“But you need to know that your behavior is getting out of hand, Bea. I know you don’t love Riki but you have to stick with him to get us into the life we always wanted to live. We’re already there sef. No use your hand sour your own soup.”
“Leave me jare.”
“You’ll soon come to realize that you don’t really need love to be in a marriage and you can totally do your own thing and have your freedom even as a married woman.”
Beatrice frowned. “What are you saying with your mouth, Sharon?”
“Marriage is what you define it to be. Money, on the other hand, does not have any other definition. It’s always money.” She picked the carton and walked away. Beatrice’s eyes fell on her phone which was ringing. Seriki was calling. She turned the phone over. She still was not in the mood to speak with or see him.
Guru was standing outside his car, arms crossed, back resting on his door. He had been like this over the past four days, but at different intervals, coming to Urenna’s home and waiting to see her. Today was the first time he was showing up in the morning. Other days had seen him coming at evenings after work. He was always welcomed by her mother who had a stand outside the house where she sold soup ingredients. The woman was soft-spoken and comely. She would offer him something to drink and sit to entertain him with banal talk while begging Urenna to come out and see him. But Urenna would remain inside, not a word spoken to him or her mother until he would drive away. It was the same thing every day.
Today he came early, hoping to catch her unawares. But she had spotted him from afar on her way from the neighbor’s to fetch some water, and disappeared into the house. Her mother was yet to open her shop for the day, hence his visit seemed a little different than the others. Yet he waited. He was now used to the environment which was nothing like his. It wasn’t a ghetto but it wasn’t posh either. Just a collection of simple houses with folks of modest means occupying them.
He stared at his watch. In a short while he had a meeting to attend.
“Please, Ure, come out,” he mumbled to himself. His eyes were fixed on the entrance of the compound where she lived. Someone’s child was crawling out of it now, diapers hanging loose, face marked by dried pap and snoot. A chicken and her clucking clan scurried past. The toddler became distracted by them but soon lost interest and focused on Guru instead. She gave him toothless grin but Guru did not smile back. He didn’t even notice. The scene before him had transformed into something artsy. Graffiti adorned the entrance of the house, and the dark corridor that led in was now a walkway on which models strutted, wearing his latest designs. As usual, Monet was seated outside, hand holding her bejeweled smoking pipe.
“Stop being a sissy, baby boy. Walk in there and get your girl. Sometimes I wonder what brand of male you are. You want something and yet you wait for it to come to you. Now, look, you’ve almost lost her.”
He gazed down at Monet’s legs. They were immersed in a pool of blue water reflecting the colors of the graffiti.
“I need to go for a swim. See you on the other side.” Holding her nose, she dropped into the pool, pipe and all. The moment she disappeared, the scene before him went back to normal. He pushed his sunglasses closer to his eyes while his other hand scratched his ear.
A short while after, he heard familiar voices and saw Urenna’s mother hurrying out with Urenna in tow. The woman, muttering to herself in Igbo, came towards Guru, waving off whatever her daughter was saying to her in angry hand gestures.
“Good morning, ma.” Guru bowed.
“Good morning. Ehn…can you please carry me to the hospital? I want to see my doctor. My chest is paining me.”
“Mommy, it’s not serious.” Urenna came forward but got a hand that stopped her.
“My son, abeg, take me.”
“Mommy, no,” Urenna protested. “If you take your drugs, you’ll be fine. You don’t need to stress him… He probably has things he needs to do right now.”
“It’s fine, Ure,” Guru responded.
“Don’t you have a meeting you’re supposed to be at now?”
“They can do without me. Mommy’s health is more important.”
“She’s fine. She’s just trying to look for a reason to get us together in the same place, knowing I won’t let her go to the hospital alone.”
“Abeg, open door, make I enter.” Urenna’s mother moved to the backdoor. Guru opened it and she settled in.
“Mommy, your drugs are in the house. Go and take them and you’ll be fine.”
“My son, enter motor, let’s be going.”
Guru opened the front passenger door as well and held it out for Urenna.
“Just oblige her,” he muttered. Grumbling in annoyance, Urenna entered the car.
“Abeg, put radio, let’s be hearing small music,” the old woman instructed. Guru tried not to laugh. He turned on the radio. Some R&B was playing. It kept them occupied until they arrived at the hospital. Guru eased his car into a free space in the parking lot.
“Make una wait here. I’m coming.”
Urenna’s mother stepped out of the car and hurried away before her daughter or Guru could stop her. Silence followed.
“Just say what you want to say, Roy.”
Guru undid his seatbelt and faced Urenna. She had a new hairstyle on – long braids that were held up and fell in a ponytail, exposing her neck. She was wearing nothing beneath the dress she had on and for a moment his eyes rested on the tiny twin points on her chest.
“Stop staring at my boobs and talk, Roy.”
“Come back to work, Ure. I miss you. Things haven’t been the same.”
“I’m not coming back.”
“Please. I’ll double your salary.”
She shook her head slowly. “You’ve really changed. Now, you’re sounding like every rich bastard out there, thinking you can buy your way into somebody’s heart with money.”
“I’m buying my way into your heart now?”
She gave no reply.
“I miss you, though, and it’s not work-related. It’s um… Um… Can you just dump your boyfriend so we can get back together?”
Urenna’s mouth widened in surprise.
“I’m falling for you again.”
She raised her hand. “Don’t talk. Just shut up and listen to music, Roy.”
“Please, stop talking.”
“No. I need you.”
“That’s it. I’m going.”
She opened the door and let herself out.
“Tell my mom I’m gone. She can meet me at home.”
She banged the door and started away. Guru went after her, grabbing her hand as she reached the hospital gates.
“Let me go.”
“I’m sorry for kissing you that day. I’m sorry. But my feelings are real, Ure.”
“Roy, I can’t be anything to you. You’re hiding so much inside. Nobody can really reach you. And I totally understand that it has something to do with the genius in you. You just can’t connect. It’s fine. But not fine for me. So, please let me go.”
She drew her hand away from his and marched off.
There was nothing of interest in Seriki’s outer office. The place was classy but boring. Sharon was seated in a comfy couch, exposing thighs which couldn’t be bothered to be covered by the skirt she had on. On her feet was a pair of wedges, matching a slinky blouse that gave her a killer cleavage.
She was reading a Vogue magazine, pretending not to see the nasty stare Seriki’s secretary was throwing her way.
A buzzer went off and the secretary called her attention.
“He’ll see you now.”
Sharon stood to her feet, pulled down her skirt a little and sashayed to Seriki’s office, her purse under her arm. When she walked in, she found herself in a more interesting space. There were colors and paintings, and a mini library on one end of the office. Seriki had never come off as a man who loved to read but the shelf of books said a different thing. Anyhow, she didn’t know much about him, asides the fact that he gave the best head on the island.
“Hi Riki.” Sharon flashed her sexiest smile as Seriki left his chair and went round to hug her. Something about his perfume made her linger.
“How are you, Sharon?” he asked, walking to a small glass table that held two bottles of liquor and glasses.
“Can I pour you something?”
Sharon remained standing, leaning on his desk, legs crossed. He returned to her with a glass of liquor and a dark look.
“Beatrice is acting like a spoilt brat, Sharon. What else will I do to prove to her that I’m crazy about her?”
Sharon had a sip of her drink and placed it on the desk.
“I think it’s time you proposed.”
“Isn’t that too early? We’ve only been dating a few months.”
“It’s not early. Propose to her in a public place, so she can’t say no, and immediately start the wedding arrangements. And then leave the rest to me. In a month or less, you’ll have her bearing your name.”
“You’re sure?” Seriki asked, shoving a hand into the pocket of his sokoto. The dazzling white material gleamed in Sharon’s eyes and she dropped her gaze to his middle, her mind going back to the day he had pushed her on the desk of his former office and given her the best oral sex she had ever received. He had worn something similar, having just returned from a friend’s wedding where they had just met for the first time. She had hoped to have a feel of him but their encounter had been cut short by a business call. He dropped a wad of notes beside her, telling her it was her transport fare. They exchanged numbers and a week later he stopped by at her beer shack to check on her. She had worn something short and sexy that evening but it had not been enough to get his attention. Beatrice’s looks had struck him on first sight, and later on as he sat with Sharon in his car, he begged her with a bundle of dollars to put in a good word for him.
“So you don’t like me?” she asked, somewhat hurt.
“I do, Sharon. I really do. But your sister… Damn! It’s love at first sight. I can’t explain it. It’s beyond sexual. Please, connect us and I promise that I’ll take you out of this life of squalor. In fact, I’ll hook you up with a friend.”
He had kept all his promises, including the friend bit, a wealthy guy whom she was presently seeing. It wasn’t anything serious. Just a sexual arrangement that was beginning to bore Sharon. The guy was bad in bed and lacked the refinement Seriki possessed. And it didn’t help that Beatrice always came home telling her how great Seriki was in bed. He was supposed to be hers but as usual, her prettier sister got all the handsome and rich men. But she wasn’t complaining. As long as money was trickling in, it was all good. She just couldn’t comprehend how Beatrice could pass up on such a huge catch. It was time to take her case to their pastor. It wasn’t normal anymore.
“I’m sure everything will work out fine,” Sharon assured Seriki. “Have I failed you so far?”
“So far you’ve done well but this proposal thing…I don’t know…”
Sharon opened her purse and took out a jewelry box.
Seriki placed his drink on the desk and took the box. He opened it to reveal a glittering diamond ring.
“That costs almost a million. It’s going to be the talk of Lagos when you propose to her this night at the opening of Zor.”
“Sharon…” He sighed. “I don’t think…”
Sharon placed a finger on his lips and moved towards him. “Just do it, Riki.” She took her finger away but her eyes replaced it. Her hand was gently positioned on his chest.
“Everyone in the entertainment industry will be there. The press, PR people, everyone. It’s the best time to propose. And if I were you, I’d invite a family member or two, so that you up the chances of her saying yes. Once she sees everyone present, she won’t refuse. Trust me.”
There was hardly any distance between Sharon and Seriki now. He regarded her with brooding eyes.
“What are you doing, Sharon?”
She was silent. She let her hand down and expertly found the thing piece of rope that held his sokoto together. With one tug, she set it free.
“I owe you one,” she replied. Her hand felt him harden at her touch and soon he was in a pants-down position as she went on her knees and returned a favor.
The day had been a lazy one and Bankole had made it so, just for the purpose of the photo shoot he was about to have. It was barely three hours to the opening of a new club called Zor. His assistant had a press pass to the event but he was invited as VIP. He had every intention of attending. Ruky already picked out outfits for both of them. If Mr. Duro and his wife wasted his time, he would have to push the shoot forward to the original schedule.
He sat, restless. The house made him uncomfortable. It was hard not to keep the memory of him and Angela out of his mind. High on alcohol that night, he had missed all the photo frames of her and Mr. Duro. If there was anything he regretted in his life as much as letting Beatrice go, it was that single encounter with her.
“I hope you’re comfortable,” Duro appeared, bearing a glass of wine.
“I’m good, sir,” Bankole replied. “But we’re running out of time.”
“Just a few minutes and we’ll be done. My wife is having her face beat.”
He handed Bankole the glass of wine.
“Thank you.” Bankole put it aside. He didn’t drink while working but felt it was rude to decline what was offered.
“So, this is your first time here?” Duro sat in a chair, facing him. He felt his tummy churn.
“Your first time in my house?”
“Y-yeah. It is.”
An awkward interval supervened in which Bankole struggled with ignoring Duro’s steady gaze on him. But the unease passed when Duro’s phone rang and he smiled at Bankole.
“She’s ready for us.”
Bankole raised his brows. “Sorry?”
“My wife, she’s ready.”
Bankole shot to his feet. “I’ll need your help with these, sir,” he said, referring to the camera equipment lodged just near the front door.
Duro hurried past him and picked a pair of light stands while Bankole grabbed what was left.
“You didn’t take your wine,” Duro mentioned, trudging up the stairs.
“I don’t drink while working.”
“Wine is harmless.”
Bankole followed him up, charting up familiar terrain. When they got to the master bedroom, Bankole stayed outside and passed the equipment to Duro.
“You can come in now,” Duro invited him when they were done. Bankole breathed out loudly and pushed shaky legs in. For a second he was glad the bedroom was empty. However the bliss passed when Duro shut the door and Angela materialized from the bathroom in the nude, throwing Bankole off calm.
“Hi Banky,” she greeted with a smile.
He made a sharp turn away from her.
“Anything the matter, Banky?” Duro asked.
“I didn’t know we were doing a nude shoot,” he replied, not looking at either of them.
“We aren’t. But I’m quite surprised that you’re acting this way after you screwed my wife in this very room five thousand ways from Sunday.”
“Sheeeeeet,” Bankole muttered.
“Yeah, shit. That’s what you’re in tonight.”
Bankole faced him. “I didn’t know she was married, sir. She-she-she d-d-din’t tell me.”
“Dumbest excuse,” Duro countered. “Look at that picture on the wall there? Right over the bed. You didn’t see that? Or the other ones you passed all the way from the living room?”
“I was drunk. I swear, I didn’t know she was your wife. Angela, you know I didn’t know you were married. You never told me.”
Angela retained her smile. It was getting sinister by the second.
“Please, tell him.”
“All I remember is how banging you were, Banky,” she answered. “Ban-ging.”
Bankole’s jaw dropped. He turned to Duro. “It was a mistake and I’m sorry, sir. It never repeated itself and God knows I regretted it.”
“Well, I didn’t,” Angela came closer. “I want more.”
Bankole shifted towards the door. “I’m sorry, sir. Really sorry.”
“Not as sorry as you’re going to be when the videos leak.”
“I did nothing wrong!” Bankole retorted in frustration.
“You know it would cost you your job. Of course, my wife’s face would be blurred but you…”
“Angela, tell him nau.”
“She’s telling me nothing.”
“She set me up! She recorded the whole thing! She has been sending me pictures and videos, threatening to release them online if I don’t sleep with her again.”
Duro fell on the bed. “Well, you’re going to give her what she wants.”
Bankole balked, drew back. “Excuse me?”
“You will give Angela what she wants, right here on this bed, right now, while I watch.”
“What?” Bankole looked from Duro to Angela and back to him as the picture became clear in his head.
“Who…who are you guys?”
“Just a couple that enjoys having fun.”
“You guys set me up? Both of you?”
“Look at her, Banky. Don’t you want her again? Just a little?”
“You’re both sick. Both of you! Disgusting! And you know what? Go ahead and leak the videos! I’m calling your bluff! Do whatever!”
“You’ll regret it.”
“Fuck you, sir!”
Bankole grabbed as much of his equipment as he could and stormed out. He went downstairs, deposited them in his car and returned to find what was left lying at the foot of the stairs. He didn’t care if they were destroyed. Not stopping for a second, he picked them up and stormed out again. When he got into his car and sat in, he threw punches at the steering wheel in rage, swearing with each jab.
Beatrice positioned her lips to be caressed by Seriki’s the moment she entered his car. Sharon had returned from her brief visit from the mainland and spoken to her calmly, pleading with her to act sweetly towards Seriki. Beatrice hadn’t needed much coaxing. She had even apologized for her behavior, promising to make things right with Seriki. This was based on her final decision to stick with him and do away with all designs of going back to Bankole.
“I missed you,” Seriki said to her when their lips separated.
“I like that.” He pecked her nose. “I like when you miss me.”
She nodded. She hadn’t eaten all day.
“The chef is cooking up a storm. We’ll go home, have dinner and get dressed for Zor opening. I bought you this amazing Zuhair Murad dress that’ll do wonders on your figure. And the shoes too, they’re to die for.”
“Thank you, Riki.” She caressed his cheek, convincing herself that he was not such a bad guy. If she concentrated her emotions on him, loving him shouldn’t be hard. He merited it; he had done nothing but be good to her. He did not deserve to be treated less.
Seriki fired up the engine and they left the island to his home somewhere in Ikeja. After a light but sumptuous dinner, they showered together and entertained his cousins who had come for dinenr. But it was tough for Beatrice not to have Bankole on her mind as the evening wore on. She accepted that it would take some time for the feelings to go away. Throwing her energy and time into work and trying to please Seriki would help get rid of him.
“We have less than an hour, cookie,” Seriki said to her after his cousins left. “I’ll dress up and wait down here until you’re done.”
Beatrice followed him up to his bedroom to have her face done. She chose to go light with her makeup tonight, remembering a comment or two on her Instagram about how she was using too much makeup these days. Asides that, the glitter on her dress was enough drama for her appearance.
She strapped on a pair of Alexander Wang heels, picked a Louis Vuitton purse to complete her look and took the stairs down to meet Seriki who was waiting.
Bankole had come for the party in a sour mood, carried over from his encounter with the Williams. He had chosen a corner and taken the weight off his feet to nurse a bottle of champagne and watch the buzz in the club. When Beatrice made her entrance with Seriki he held her eyes for some seconds and looked away to focus on a couple dancing dirty in front of him. But now and again he would turn and look at her and her eyes would fall into his. He thought she looked beautiful tonight, her face looking every bit like the Beatrice he used to know. Other than that, the night held no entertainment for him, but he had no intention of abandoning the club. Ruky, party animal that she was, had gone off with her friends, probably to join the throng that had spilled from within the club to its environs outside where suya and grilled chicken were served.
“Can I join you?” A girl came by; tall and fair, with a weave that carried the same hue as her complexion.
She took the available space beside Bankole.
“You’re that celebrity photographer, right?” she asked. He smiled.
“I’d rather be known as Bankole.”
“Nice to meet you, Bankole. Why are you here all alone? Where’s your girlfriend?”
“Ouch. You really have a girlfriend.”
“I’m afraid so.”
“But I have a crush on you. A huge one. What are we going to do about it?”
Bankole smiled again. He was used to this. Girls always hit on him, whether they knew who he was or not. He enjoyed flirting back without any real intent on following through. This always left him with phone numbers he never stored.
“What are you planning to do about it?” he threw back.
“A lot,” the girl replied. “For instance, we could dance.”
“That’s a start but sadly, I don’t dance.”
He laughed. “Do you want some champagne? I can’t finish this.”
“Let me call for a glass.” Bankole lifted his head to see if he could get the attention of one of the bargirls but his effort was disrupted by a sudden drop in the music which preceded the DJ informing the partying crowd that someone had an announcement to make.
A blast of bright light fell over the crook where Seriki and Beatrice were located, and Bankole abandoned plans to get a glass for his companion. Without warning, Seriki fell on one knee before Beatrice and produced a diamond ring resting in a box. The air of shock that took over her features didn’t seem to Bankole like something rehearsed. Her hand had gone to her chest which was beginning to heave as phones went into camera modes to record the moment.
Please, don’t say yes. Bankole held his breath, as did everyone else. Beatrice’s eyes, wet with tears glistened under the blinding light.
“Say yes!” Sharon, standing at a corner not far from them, shouted. A solitary tear trickled down Beatrice’s cheek as she presented her hand to Seriki in a hesitant motion. He slipped the ring on her middle finger to cheers from the crowd, shattering Bankole’s heart. The club suddenly became uncomfortable, and not saying a word to the girl beside him, he left his seat and started out just as the music resumed. He kept his head low to ensure that he didn’t bump into anyone he knew. All he wanted was to leave the place, get into his car and drive home.
He kissed the outside air and let out a weighty breath. Tiny rain droplets slapped against his face, carried by a mild gust of wind. He hurried towards the car park, hands in his pocket, head still bowed low.
He stopped. Turned.
Beatrice was hastening towards him in a manner he found appealing even with his present mood. It was the way in which her hips swayed anytime she walked fast. There was something rhythmically-delicious about it.
“Are you leaving?” she asked, panting, as she stopped before him.
“Yeah. I’m tired.”
Her perfume came at him mildly. It was the fragrance he got for her.
“Congratulations. Gist is that he’s mad in love with you.”
Beatrice looked at the ring like it was a parasite on her finger.
“I don’t…” She shook her head. “I don’t want to get married to him, Banky.”
“But you just said yes.”
“I know…” She covered her face and began to sob.
Bankole reached out and tried to force her hands down but she kept them glued to her face as her body fell into his. He didn’t want to be in this position for fear of getting himself into a scandal over her. He already had enough drama on his hands.
But she smelled like a thousand roses on a clear morning after the rain. She felt like heaven in his arms. Nothing could compare to the feeling he was having.
“You want to go somewhere and talk about it?”
She nodded. He unlocked his car and led her to the passenger door. After she got in, he went behind the wheel and started the car. As he maneuvered out of the spot he had parked in, Beatrice stuck out her hand before her and glowered at the ring on her finger. The harder she stared, the more she cried. Unknown to her, Sharon was standing a few paces away from the car, glaring in at them. Bankole, however, was aware, and as he drove away, he returned Sharon’s raging glare, daring her to do her worst.