I’m so sorry, fam. There’s no Dear High Mistress today. I have started writing again but I need just one more week to get back on my feet fully. Hence, we resume next Saturday.
Before that, I’ll be introducing you to a new series by a guest blogger. Do expect it soon.
Today, I am bringing you yet another excerpt from Stranger In Lagos. As I once told you, this story is connected to In The Name Of Papa and Love, Your Enemy.
Yes, Love Your Enemy is making a comeback as the sequel to In The Name Of Papa, so if you have read ITNOP, you’ll be amongst the select group of people that will have access to LYE. It isn’t going to be for everyone. We’ll be starting that in January and it would be exclusive to people who would be members on this blog. If you have bought In The Name Of Papa directly from me or on Okadabooks or on Smashwords or on Amazon, you automatically qualify as a member for a year. Membership comes with privileges and packages. I wouldn’t miss it if I were you.
Tomorrow, I would talk about In The Name Of Papa and why the story means so much to me. I’d like if you could share your thoughts as well. I did a post on that last week but the link was broken because of a plugin. I planned to redo the post but felt that maybe it was too early. I apologize to those who already commented. I will add your comments in the new post.
Enjoy the excerpt below. Cheers to the weekend!
My office is quiet. The usual noisemakers whose cubicles are separated from mine by thin glass partitions have all stepped out to celebrate a colleague’s birthday. Normally, I would be there with them, heading the throng, my voice being the loudest. But I give the birthday colleague a gift and apologize for not going with them.
As they leave, I recline my back on my chair and lift my eyes to the ceiling, spinning in a slow circle. The calm, white lighting and the soothing sound of soul music playing somewhere in the hall soon lulls me and I fall into a catnap. My weekend had been awful, beset with tears and insomnia. This isn’t exactly rest but it’s the closest thing to peace of mind in more than twenty-four hours.
I am beginning to get deeper into my nap when I feel a ticklish sensation on my upper arm that has me slapping myself and jolting up in hysterics.
“Relax.” Laughter comes from a voice, throaty and masculine.
When my glare falls on the male specimen that has just dragged me out of my rest, I reach for my jacket which I had kept aside and slip into it as I rise to my feet for no reason.
“You think it’s funny to scare people like that?” I ask, avoiding his eyes. He stands before me, tall and daunting, handsome in a way that is too good to be true. The scent of his perfume is as dark and domineering as he is. His unwelcome appearance has literally taken the little peace I have managed to conjure.
“Paul…” I try not to look up at him. I fear that one gaze from his eyes would melt my resolve. “Saturday night was…”
“A mistake. I know. I didn’t expect it would be anything else.”
He thrusts his hands into his pockets, shifting the flaps of his suit behind his arms and exposing a sparkling white shirt that rests snugly on his toned torso.
“But I’m hoping that maybe, one day soon, we’d have a repeat.”
“It’s never going to happen. I’m getting married.”
“A date hasn’t been fixed. Your guy doesn’t have feelings for you…”
I shift backwards and rest my bum on my desk. Paul withdraws his right hand from his pocket, taking out a gold bracelet. “You forgot this in my car.”
When I stick out my hand to grab it, he holds it back. “Look at me.”
I throw my head up and take his eyes. It’s an act done with exaggerated cheekiness which falls apart when I meet an affectionate gaze from him. His full brows gather together as if he is thinking hard about a thing, but then they relax immediately as he takes my hand and places the bracelet on my palm.
He lets go just as the sounds of voices break the quiet of the hall. He turns away, exiting my cubicle in haste.
My phone rings. I snatch it off my desk and see that it’s Eben calling. There’s a moment’s hesitation before I answer.
“A big bird told me that you had an awful weekend and you were in a mood this morning.”
“Big bird being Aunty Ada, right?”
“Says you’re on your period.”
I shake my head, recalling last night when Aunty Ada sat on my bed for almost an hour, prodding me in all ways to get me to tell her why I was down. When she was tired of doing so, she let me know that my self-designed wedding gown was going to be replaced by a Vera Wang soon.
“I’m not on my period, Ebee,” I respond to Eben.
“That’s good to know.”
“What does that mean?” I ask, almost laughing.
“Can I do anything to make you feel better? Kiss you maybe? Tickle you till you cry because it’s hard to imagine a Halim in a sad mood?”
I’m taken aback by his words. Normally, I’d be the one asking for kisses, seeking for his laughter. We’re opposites. He is the quiet one. I am the one who finds reasons to hop on my bed in the middle of the night just because I can.
“So, is it okay to come steal you away?”
I look around me. The clatter my colleagues returned with has not died down, the white walls remain uninspiring and the day promises to be long and saddled with boredom. Plus, there is Paul who has decided to be a nuisance.
“I can take the day off,” I tell Eben.
“Great. Look outside your window.”
I leave my desk and dash towards the window nearest to me. It faces the entrance of the building, and there, I see Eben waiting outside his car.
The picture is perfect from where I stand—young, rich, successful and dapper. What woman wouldn’t want that?
“If you don’t want to get married to him, it’s fine,” Aunty Ada had told me last night. “I’ll just tell Bisi and we’ll call the whole thing off. Marriage is not the greatest achievement in life. Look at me, I got on fine.”
And I looked at her, remembering nights when she left me alone at home as a little girl, just because she was with someone else’s husband in some hotel. I remembered the forlorn look on her face whenever she saw couples that were smitten by each other. I remembered the night she had gotten drunk and ended up on my bed, wailing and asking why no man would love her and make her his wife.
No, she hasn’t gotten on fine. And I don’t want to be her. Not even if I ended up in the arms of a new Paul every night and experienced the exciting feeling of falling in love endlessly.
There’s no waterfall to chase here. Ebenezer Nosakhare would be my husband and I would figure out the love part later.