The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…
“Ah! Relax, Alice.”
“You want to cry? It’s not that serious nau.”
Aunty Shade left the bed to where Alice sat and put her arms around her. “Relax, my dear. You’re not in a courtroom.”
“We just wanted to know if you had honest intentions towards our father,” Aunty Ayo explained. “It’s not a crying matter.”
Alice was nowhere near tears, but her face must have said different. Having held her breath for so long, she felt like she was going to pass out. She had been unable to give the sisters any answer and so she sat glued to her hot seat, sweating through almost every pore of her body and praying that by some miracle, she would appear on her bed back at home, waking up from a bad dream.
“I was really scared,” she confessed.
“Nothing to be scared about, my dear,” Big Mommy assured her. “You are family. We love you. But we love our father more and only want the best for him. And that is why we’re endorsing whatever it is that’s going on between you two.”
“Between us?” Alice asked. “There’s nothing…”
“Please, don’t lie to us,” Aunty Ayo interrupted. “You’ll just get me angry here. We know you love our old man and he loves you too. You can’t tell me that all you’ve been doing was from the goodness of your heart. That type of love doesn’t exist.”
Alice wanted to explain that she was only doing her duties but she feared the sisters would take it wrongly.
“Quite honestly, daddy needs a young, sweet wife like you,” Big Mommy stated. “He’s been lonely for years and no one should ever live that way.”
“No one,” the other sisters chorused.
“And he’s such a fine man. For his age, he’s fit and fashionable and engaging and well-traveled. And let’s not forget the influence and money. You can’t tell me you’re not attracted to all of that?”
Alice felt like a deer caught in a trap. She didn’t know a way out of this one.
“If you marry him, you’re made for life,” Aunty Shade emphasized. “You’ll have our support, the respect of the church and everything you ever wanted.”
“All you have to do is keep him constantly happy.” Aunty Ayo wasn’t smiling like the others. She had a stern expression on her face. “Many women have tried to take our mother’s place but he’s shut them all out because he sees right through them. They were all coming for the money and fame. But you…you’ve proven yourself to him and to us.”
“And that’s why we want you to stick with him.”
“We endorse your relationship.”
The sweat and unease returned full throttle. Alice rose up abruptly. “I need to use the bathroom.”
Aunty Shade pointed to a door facing the bed.
Alice dashed through the door and entered a bathroom that smelled of antiseptic. She turned on the tap by the washbasin for a bit, letting the water run over her sweaty palms. When she felt they were cool enough, she began to splash water over her face. She continued doing so until she was brought to calm. In her purse was a small face towel. She dabbed the water off her face with it. Straightening her posture, she stepped out of the bathroom and returned to the sisters.
“Big Mommy,” she began, “Aunty Ayo, Aunty Shade, I’ve heard everything you’ve said, and I want to show my appreciation for the love I have received from you, as elder sisters. I’m also thankful for the trust you have in me. I promise that I will never take it for granted. Concerning Papa and I… Well, there isn’t much to say. What you’ve seen going on between us is what it is. However, I’ll solicit that you give me some time and I’ll come to you with a definitive answer. I’m still waiting to hear from God. Papa is not an ordinary man. He is highly anointed and highly placed by God; a man whose shoes other men are unable to fill. One does not just waltz into his life without God’s permission and blessings. Or else one would become an obstacle to that which God has instituted through him. That is why I need a clear directive, regardless of my feelings and desires. I do hope you understand.”
Her words seemed to have left a paralyzing effect on the women. They beheld her with eyes of respect and astonishment.
“You’re a wise woman,” Big Mommy noted, pointing an approving finger at her. “We will pray with you, as well.”
“You may go.”
Alice thanked them once more and headed out. Staying away from the partying crowd, she returned to the house. Upon entrance, she ran into Leye’s exhausted assistant who informed her that Papa was now alone and ready to see her.
Alice went to his office and stood outside the door. Taking in a heavy breath, she knocked.
Papa invited her in. She entered. He was behind his desk. A bulky document lay open before him. Peering at it through reading glasses, he pointed Alice in the direction of a velvety couch on his left,
She sat. There was soft music playing from his laptop. The office was soundproof and was doing a great job blocking out the noise from within and outside the house.
Papa grunted, face still in the work before him. Alice knew he was perusing the manuscript of his fourteenth book which was an exegesis on philosophy and Christian theology. The manuscript had returned from the editor, and like Papa was known to do, he was having a hard time accepting the corrections the editor made.
“He always messes my stuff. He thinks the entire tenth chapter is totally off topic. He wants me to either rewrite or scrap it. Imagine!”
Alice made no comment. Despite his present complaint, Papa loved the editor’s work and trusted his judgment enough to have him work on eleven of his books. She knew they would settle their issues over dinner and computer games later in the week.
Papa shut the manuscript, left his chair and sat beside Alice on the couch.
“Beautiful dress,” he complimented, eyes sweeping over her body.
“So, let’s talk about that kiss, shall we? What happened, Alice?”
Alice straightened up. “Papa, I’m sorry….”
“I’m not asking for an apology, young lady. I want to know why it happened.”
“I don’t know. It just happened.”
“Nothing just happens.”
“I still have no explanation, Papa. I messed up. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay to admit that you feel something for me, Alice. God is not going to be mad at you for that.” Papa laughed. It was a carefree laugh that highlighted the wrinkles around his eyes but took years off his age, giving him a boyish look.
“Maybe you’ve never thought about it because of the working relationship you have with me, but I think this past week has opened your eyes to things you have overlooked. And I want to let you know that it’s okay, Alice. I see you condemning yourself for it. I don’t want that to continue.”
“I’m not mad at you. As I told you, I feel the same. I’m just worried about where it will all lead.”
He relaxed into the couch and crossed a leg over the other. Alice turned to have a better view of him.
“Ever heard the saying ‘it gets lonely at the top?’” he asked.
“I’ve been lonely for a very long time but it’s all by choice. I can have any woman I want at the snap of a finger. However, all they always want is the money and attention. They don’t see me. They only see what I’ve accomplished. ”
“But you, Alice, you see me as I am. There’s no pretense between us. And that has struck something deep in me. When you came into my life, I started to feel again. What I bear for you is strong and has been there for almost three years.”
“But you never said anything.”
“I was scared of two things. One, I didn’t want to lose you. I feared that if I told you, you’d stay away from me. Secondly, I didn’t want you to feel compelled to do anything you didn’t want to, simply because of my influence on you. I’ve seen this happen a lot with my colleagues. It sickens me. Beyond what I feel, I have a calling to care for everyone God has put under me, and this includes you, Alice. You mean more to me than my yearnings.”
“Wow, Papa. I…don’t know what to say.”
He smiled. “You don’t have to say anything. And I’ll understand if you decide to keep to Omoleye’s instructions to stop coming over. I’ll respect that.”
“No. I’m not…I’m not stopping. And it’s not that I’m disobeying orders. It’s that…you’re part of my life, Papa. It’s hard for me to just walk away from you. So this is beyond what Leye can control. I’m making the decision to continue.”
Papa leaned forward and took her hand. “In that case, may I be bold enough to ask that we take things a notch further?”
Alice looked down.
“Not as something permanent. Just to see if it works. We could have a time frame. Two weeks? A month? I don’t know how you youngsters toast these days or I’ll be saying the right words, so I don’t get curved.”
She giggled. “This is fine.” She apprehended his eyes, searching for some wrong signal or red flag, but she met only an affectionate stare.
“You may need to pray about this,” he said.
“But I have already. For a long time. Every day. And God has shown me this moment. I was only waiting for you to get here. I have never been more certain about someone the way I am with you. But please, seek God’s direction.”
“I know you can never lie to me, Papa. If God says this is meant to be, then it is. But I’ll pray. Can you give me two weeks?”
He went silent for some time, gazing at her. His manner left a pleasant, satisfying feeling in her. The part of her that was supposed to object seemed to have gone to sleep. There was no dissenting voice. And although it was weird that there wasn’t, it didn’t give her cause for worry. Papa was not a man that would hurt her or treat her inappropriately. She was certain she was in safe arms.
“Do you feel like it’s happening too fast?” he asked.
“Me neither. When it’s God’s time, it’s always perfect. Never too slow or fast.”
“Yes, sir.” She picked her purse off her laps, taking her hand off Papa’s. “I’m ready to leave.”
Alice stood. Papa was up on his feet as well.
“I’ve always had this fantasy of dancing with you.”
“Dancing?” Alice laughed lightly. “I don’t know how to dance.”
“But you do it so well in church.”
“Oh God.” Her hand went to her chest in embarrassment. “You watch me?”
“All the time. Nobody does shoki better than you. Forgive my saying this, but there’s something emotive about the way you worship. You get lost. And I get lost in you.”
“Papa…” Alice covered her face.
“So when it comes to waltzing, there’s nothing to it. All you have to do is let me hold you and you follow my lead. It’s like a marriage of bodies. The man leads, the woman follows.”
“You want to dance with me? Right now?”
“I can’t think of a better time.”
He paused. “I like when you call me ‘sir’. Everybody does but with you, it’s special.”
He took her hand again and put away her purse.
“Ever since you introduced me to Years & Years, I’ve been addicted to their music.”
“Really?” Her ears tuned to the song currently playing on his laptop.
“1977,” she said. “Not my favorite of Years & Years but it’s cool.”
Still holding her hand in his, he put the other around her waist and drew her close. Alice felt her heart hop but his breath in her hair calmed her and she soon relaxed in his hold. The masculine feel of his body reminded her of how long she had been without a man’s touch. Six years of celibacy. Six years of a faithful walk with God. She wasn’t sorry to miss the life she used to have.
“Mmmm…you smell so good, Alice,” Papa murmured, guiding her into a slow dance. “I could do this all day and never get tired. You’re one heck of a woman.”
Alice was flustered – in a pleasurable way. His arm was strong around her, his touch gentle. But more was the feeling of assurance his company gave. With every harmonized movement of their feet, her reluctance weakened. And as the music played on, she let go and rested her head on his shoulder, familiarizing herself with his scent and the fuzzy texture of his pearly-white beard.
“I have no idea what this song means,” she said after a while, lifting her head and catching his eyes. “I’ve cracked my brain, trying to understand the lyrics.”
“I think it means to do something in the moment and damn the consequence.”
“I might be wrong, though.”
Papa brought Alice’s hand to his lips and kissed it just as the music was interrupted by an incoming call on his phone. He stopped moving and attended to the call, still holding on to her. The intermission gave her a moment to collect her thoughts as she suddenly began to feel the enormity of what was going on between her and Papa. She was tempted to break free from him but he returned to her and caught her unawares with his lips on hers. Her body stiffened at first, and then she let go, melting in his arms.
“I really need to go home,” she said breathlessly when their lips separated. She then moved away from him as though suddenly afraid of him.
“This will take some getting-used-to,” he told her. “But I’m a patient man. I’ve been patient for three years.”
Alice started to perspire.
“I’ll have the chauffeur take you home.”
He left a peck on her cheek after handing the purse back to her.
“It’s okay to call me George when we’re alone.”
“I couldn’t possibly…”
“It’s fine, Alice. And oh, one more thing… Keep this between us. We don’t want nosy people in our business, do we?”
Alice shook her head.
“Promise me you won’t go ratting this off to someone out there.”
He held open the door for her and she rushed out as if being chased.
Outside the office, the party was dying down, the crowd thinning. Alice took the backdoor. She didn’t wait for Papa’s chauffeur. She found her way home.
Leye had settled on calling his wife ‘sweetness’. Their first night as a married couple had largely been responsible for his final decision. Love had shocked him by being subservient and shy beneath the sheets. Her bossy, taciturn persona vanished the instant he took off her clothes.
“Sex is a mystery to me,” she confessed, holding on to the sheets. “I had it good only with my first boyfriend. And then I married that monster whose definition of making love was rape. It was a nightmare almost every night. If he wasn’t raping me, I was breaking his head with a bottle.”
“It was that violent?”
“Yes,” she replied hastily. “With Akonte… It wasn’t that bad. It’s just that I always felt like he was making love to someone else and not me. It was as if I was a sex doll. He didn’t care if I responded or not. Don’t get me wrong. I know things. Probably more than most women do. Both husbands taught me how to please them. But they never taught me how to enjoy being with a man. I don’t really know what it means to make love. To be one with someone physically and emotionally at the same time.”
Leye somewhat understood her. He and Diane had had that phase in their sex lives when it was all about making babies. After years of barrenness and the heartaches that came with it, Diane shut him away and would simply have sex for the sake of getting pregnant. He had felt used. They lost intimacy and friendship. They lost a lot of things before the crash took her.
“But I’m willing to learn,” Love said. “I want to learn to love and please you.”
Leye shook his head. “No, let me love you. You’re done pleasing anyone. It’s your turn to be pleased and spoiled rotten.”
And it was with this promise he made love to her. He gave her her first orgasm, and laughed afterwards when she lay stupefied, wondering what had just happened to her.
He made her laugh too, after a second orgasm left her double-stupefied. Sex had always been a serious, painful affair for her. With disgust and hurt after each episode. But Leye touched something in her that left her open and shameless.
And lastly, he made her cry. To him, that was a first, because he had never seen her cry before.
“I don’t understand what I’m feeling!” she bawled like a little girl. “There’s just so much happening here!”
He tried to touch her but she hit his hand and dashed into the bathroom, locking herself in. He stood outside the door, listening to her cry.
“It’s your heart finally feeling. Just let it all out, sweetness. The darkness is leaving you. Let it all out.”
“Is this just a onetime thing or am I going to keep feeling this every time we have sex?”
He laughed. “I don’t know, Loveth. I hope not.”
She took a while in the bathroom, and when she returned to him, she allowed him give all the affection his body could offer. And again, she ended in tears.
“I’m so sorry,” she apologized, curling up in his arms. “I’m never like this. I seriously don’t know what’s happening.”
“I understand, sweetness. You’ve finally found your heart.”
They had only a few hours before morning came and they spent it sleeping in a tight snuggle. When hours later, they stepped out of the hotel room, she was clinging to him like a virgin bride who was falling in love for the first time. There was a sense of contentment in her that showed in her eyes. It left Leye smiling each time he saw it. He knew there were still walls between them that he needed to break down but he was happy that he stuck with his conviction over his decision to marry her.
There had been other women, other possibilities – all of whom were perfect for the role. Born-again, spirit-filled, tongue-speaking, demon-binding, anointed women of God. Alice was one of them. They threw themselves at him, leaving subtle and blatant signals alike. One of them had even gone as far as getting a couple of renowned prophets to speak on her behalf.
But Leye’s heart had been set on Love from the moment he was told about Akonte’s death. Even after Love accepted his ring six months later, he kept the matter in prayers, never missing out a day to talk to God about her.
Hence, his joy that he now had her to himself. He prayed that death and calamity would not visit them again.
When they came out of the hotel, their cars were waiting. In Love’s car sat Najib and Mina. In her chatty manner, Mina was filling Najib’s ear with some tale he barely reacted to. In the other car, Leye’s assistant was in the company of Adindu and the chauffeur.
Mina spotted the newlyweds first but before she made it to where they stood, Leye’s assistant was already on scene. The frown on Mina’s face made Leye smile. He and Love endured greetings and enquiries about their wellbeing from both ladies.
“Mama, how is that headache?” Leye’s assistant asked. She was a conservative looking woman who wore her hair uninspiringly natural and was comfortable without jewelry, yet enjoyed wearing skirts that were tight and adorned a full backside.
“I’m much better now, Ify. Thank you.”
“Ify, join them in the other car,” Leye instructed, taking Love’s hand. With an unsmiling face, Ify marched to Love’s car as the lovebirds took the backseat of Leye’s SUV.
Pleasantries were exchanged with Adindu and the chauffeur as they began their journey to the Murtala International Airport. Leye made little conversation with Love during the trip; he had Adindu engaged in a discussion on matters pertaining specific duties Adindu was to handle in his absence. At the airport, their discussion continued until Love informed him that their check-in time was almost over.
“One more thing,” he said, pulling Adindu to a corner. “Your friend is falling off the wagon.” His voice was low. “Talk to her, watch her. And please, pray for her. It’s serious.”
Adindu nodded. Leye didn’t need to mention Alice’s name to be understood.
“Be safe.” Leye tapped his friend’s shoulder and walked to his wife who was also leaving instructions with her team.
“I’ll miss you, mama.” Mina’s eyes filled with tears. “Three weeks is too long.”
“Obviously, you’ve not been a newlywed before,” Ify stated.
Mina looked like she was going to hug Love but was unsure of it. Leye looked at his wife. The cold stare on her face was enough to make a baby cry.
“NJ, make sure she is only up to good,” Love ordered.
“I’ll also keep an eye on her.” Ify put an arm around Mina.
“We forgot to pray,” Adindu said.
“Of course,” Leye muttered. They all came together, with the exception of Najib, and held hands in a circle as Adindu delivered a short prayer. Love and Leye said their goodbyes and walked away from the group.
“You could have hugged her,” Leye said.
“She’s too gushy,” Love answered. “And I don’t do hugs.”
“I’ll soften you.”
“I’ll harden you.”
“I’m already hard.”
It took more than a second for Love to get the joke. When she did, she looked up at him with a laugh and nudged him playfully with her elbow. He pulled her to him and kissed her forehead.
“Stop it. I don’t do PDA.”
Leye stopped moving abruptly and gave her an unexpected kiss.
“Ah, Pastor!” Someone passing by commented with a laugh. “Se jeje o!”
“Oh God.” Love buried her face in his neck. Enjoying her embarrassment, Leye dragged his wife to the check-in counter.
Like every worker, Alice hated Mondays. But her reasons were different from everyone else’s. While most people complained about the workload waiting for them in their various offices, Alice whined about having little to do. Mondays to Wednesdays pretty much remained the same at the salon. And then from Thursdays, the customers would begin to throng in without mercy.
Today was like every other Monday. Alice was tired of doing nothing. She had mopped the floor after one of the apprentices had previously done so, wiped every surface, painted Wemimo’s nails and washed a customer’s wig. Now, she sat painting her own fingernails. It took her a botched work on her left pinky to realize that her restlessness was not coming from lack of what to do but from the events of the night before.
She was yet to speak to her friends about what had occurred between her and Papa. She feared that Tara would judge her and Wemimo would push her into hasty decisions. The plan was to pray about the situation alone until she was certain being with Papa was what God wanted. However, she found herself already falling for him, blushing each time she thought about him.
Even now as the thought cross her mind, a sheepish smiled stretched her lips.
“Alice, na wa o!” Wemimo exclaimed. “You’ve smiling senselessly all morning. Is there something you want to tell us?”
“So somebody cannot smile again?”
“No. This smile get one kind k-leg.”
Alice dabbed a ball of cotton wool with nail polish remover and dumped it on her pinky, pressing her thumb over it, while trying to hide another smile that wouldn’t go away.
“Tara, so how was your encounter with our new mama?” she asked. A distracted Tara who was on her phone gave her an unfocused stare.
“You went to do mama’s makeup yesterday. You didn’t gist us. What’s she like?”
“Normal,” Tara answered with an expression that showed she was not pleased to be taken away from her phone.
“And what does normal mean?”
“She was normal nau. Nothing strange.”
“Was she chatty or quiet?”
Tara put her phone down with a silent sigh. “She was nice. She asked basic questions about me, made small talk and told me I’ll start doing her makeup from now on.”
“So you like her?” Wemimo asked.
“Was I supposed to dislike her?”
“Is she anything like Mommy Dee?”
“You know Mommy Dee was quiet to a fault, always smiling. Pastor Love doesn’t smile like that.”
“I noticed,” Wemimo said.
“But it’s not because she’s not nice. She’s nice when you get to know her.”
“You’re already forming knowing her.”
“Yes. Can I go back to my phone? Thank you.”
Alice had listened to the exchange without saying anything. She doubted she would ever get along with Love. She wasn’t sure the woman liked her.
The salon door opened and Alice sat up, already excited to have a first customer for the day. But when she saw the form of a man entering, she relaxed in her chair. Not even the bouquet of lilies he came with arrested her attention. She was now used to the gifts Wemimo’s new boyfriend enjoyed surprising her with from time to time.
“Good afternoon,” the man greeted. Wemimo was already on her feet, all smiles.
“Le boo is such a darling!”
She gunned for the flowers.
“Are you Alice Monoyo?”
Alice looked up.
“Mono!” Wemimo called with a bit of disappointment in her voice. “It’s for you!”
Alice abandoned her nails and went to the delivery man.
“This is for you.”
“I don’t know.”
He handed her a notebook on which to append her signature while Wemimo took the flowers off his hands.
“Na wa o, Alli. Who is loving you like this?” She lifted a little, pink card attached to the lilies and read.
Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women.
“What’s this? Shakespeare?” Wemimo asked as the delivery man left.
“Song of Solomon chapter 2, verse 2,” Alice answered.
“Is Adindu toasting you again?”
Alice hadn’t heard. She was reading Papa’s note and smiling to herself.
“That smile again! Who is he, Alice? Please, tell me it’s not Adindu. That one that used all the bible passages in the world to toast you. But it can’t be him. He’s not G. Who is G?”
“Nobody.” Alice took her flowers and called on one of the apprentices to take out a water jug from the fridge which could stand as a vase.
“Who is G nau?”
“Wemi, leave me alone, jor. You mustn’t know everything.”
“Is it Papa G.O.?” she questioned, making emphasis on the ‘G’. Alice laughed. “Oh my God! It’s him! Are you guys official?”
“I’m not saying anything.” Alice went back to her chair. Wemimo followed.
Tara abandoned her phone and was staring at Alice expectedly.
“Please, don’t tell me it’s Papa.”
The door pushed in again and this time, Adindu walked in.
“Good afternoon, ladies.”
Tara and Alice gave a cordial answer but Wemimo merely waved. She and Adindu had never gotten along well.
“How’s the day going?” he inquired.
“Great,” Tara replied, leaving her chair. “Please, sit, Pastor.”
“No, no. Thanks. I was just passing by and thought to drop in to say hi and have a brief chat with Alice.”
Alice looked at him. Despite the fact that she had refused his advances in the past, she still considered him a trustworthy friend. He was one guy whom she could reach at any time. A grounded, levelheaded Christian who always gave sound advice.
Alice handed the bouquet of lilies to the apprentice and walked to Adindu. “I’ve not eaten today. You want to buy me lunch?”
“With all pleasure,” he replied.
“Can I join you guys?” Wemimo requested. “Abeg.”
“No,” they both chorused, heading out.
“So, what’s been going on with you, Alice, asides the usual?”
“What’s the usual?”
Sitting with Adindu in a fast foods joint, Alice was having a meal of porridge beans and plantain. It was her favorite. She had a bottle of water to go with it while Adindu was okay with the basic rice and chicken.
“Apart from the salon and the ministry, what’s new?”
There was a chicken part lodged between his lips. His meal was barely touched. He had a habit of finishing his meat before his meal. A habit Alice detested.
“I’m sure, Adi.”
Having taken in the chicken, Adi proceeded to ask, “Tell me about Papa.”
“What about Papa?” Alice kept a straight face.
“I was too upset with you yesterday to talk about it. Now, I’m ready. No judgment. Let’s talk about Papa.”
“What is there to talk about?”
She had a naughty mien on, characterized by a raised brow and a smile waiting to happen.
“The um…kiss and the thing you said you were feeling for him.”
Alice hated to lie. she was a poster child for honesty, but in this instance, she felt withholding the truth was for the best. Besides, she promised Papa that she would keep things secret from everyone.
“There’s nothing going on between Papa and I, Adi. That whole kiss thing was just me being silly. A good night’s rest yesterday cleared my head. I don’t know what I was thinking.” She gave a nervous laugh.
“You’re sure you’re telling me the truth?”
Alice swallowed, although she wasn’t chewing at the moment. “I’ll never lie to you, Adi.”
“Let’s talk about something else, jare. You, for instance. How is theological college treating you?”
“Tough. But I’m scaling through by God’s grace.”
“I’m super proud of you, boy. You know I love you.”
“Then marry me.”
With a mouthful of beans, Alice let out laughter.
“She thinks it’s funny.” Adindu smiled, his honey-brown eyes twinkling at her. “Why don’t you ever take me serious?”
She shook her head, still laughing.
“Because I haven’t kissed you, abi?” he teased.
“As if a kiss will change anything.”
“A trial will convince you. Let’s go to my car and let me show you.”
“Pastor Adi, you have spoilt o. Who came and spoilt you for me? You used to be so holy. Even your toasting game was heavy with righteousness.”
Adindu laughed. “The boy grew, abeg. I was simply trying to manipulate you with the scriptures. And I think that was a low thing to do – using my office and spirituality to woo you.”
“I think you’re deep in the sauce. And it’s not such a bad thing, Adi. Don’t change for anyone. We love you like that.”
“You mean you love me.”
“Don’t play too much, man of God.”
She pretended not to see the adoring look in his eyes as she focused on her meal which had lost taste to her. She was disgusted at herself for lying to him. But the feeling lasted only a few days as Papa began to seep into her. He hardly called or texted but somehow, he was always there in her head.
In the absence of Leye, he made himself more available at church. He was always there whenever Alice was present. They conversed only on work-related matters and always in the presence of others. Yet, she could read meaning into all his stares and feel the heat they brought.
And thus, two weeks went by in a tick. Alice had never missed a day to speak to God about the matter during the period. When she didn’t get a clear word on which direction to go, she followed her heart which was now desirous of Papa. And each time she felt otherwise, she reminded herself that she wasn’t going into a full relationship with him. It was only a phase of trial.
“We may not work,” she had said into her dressing mirror three days after the two-week mark. “Just a trial.”
She was finishing up on her makeup. Papa had invited her to dinner.
“At my new home,” he had said over the phone. “Would it be too much to ask?”
She loved his manners. He was a gentleman at the core, never using his office to have his way. The thought of having him fawn over her left her anticipating.
For the date, she picked a princess-cut, fitted dress with off-shoulder sleeves. It was a deep blue piece with heels to match. Her perfume, like her makeup, was mild. A burgundy shade of pick on her lips made her face pop.
Picking her phone and handbag, she snuck out of the house through the backdoor to a waiting Uber. She was driven to the same estate where the Omotosho residence was located, but onto the next street where Papa’s new house stood.
He was alone when she entered the empty building.
He welcomed her into a house that was devoid of furniture. Emptiness marked the massive living room in which they both stood.
“They’re decorating tomorrow,” Papa explained. “But do you like it?”
She didn’t see much to like. It was simply an uninhabited space.
“You want me to show you around?”
He took her hand. And as he led her away from the living room towards the stairs, she dropped a compliment about his outfit. It was a laidback ensemble of sage colored pants and a white shirt, casually tucked in with the first top buttons undone. He looked delectable, and she asked him if it was okay to tell him so.
He gave a low laughter as he started up the stairs. “Sure, Alice. Never hold back when you’re with me. and might I say how ravishing you look yourself?”
“You already told me when I walked in.”
“It doesn’t hurt to say it again. You’re a masterpiece.”
There were now at the top of the stairs. “The house has five rooms. Four of them up here and one downstairs. Let me show you around.”
He took her on a short tour that could have been otherwise, boring, if he hadn’t it made it fun with anecdotes about how his week had gone so far. They returned downstairs and he showed her the kitchen and finally, the dining area where a table was laid for two.
“This is beautiful.” Alice gushed over the setting, which showed off burning candles and sweet-smelling roses.
“Before we proceed…” Papa faced her. “I’d like to be honest with you. I want to bare it all out. Alice, I am deeply, truly, crazily in love with you. This is the truth. And I’d love to have you be my wife. Hopefully, someday soon.”
Alice stared away.
“I want to live here, in this house with you. And have all the kids you want to have… I know I’m old, and I’ll be restricted by age, but be assured that until this heart stops beating, I’ll be full of life for you. As a beautiful, young, talented, blessed, virtuous young woman, it may seem that you deserve better…”
He took her other hand. “It may seem you deserve better and younger but know that there is nothing any man out there would give you that I can’t give. I’ll be coming into this with a hundred percent. I’ll never hurt you. I promise.”
Alice felt overwhelmed. It was clear her feelings hadn’t yet cut as deeply as his but she was glad that what he felt was genuine. If there were any doubts, he had taken them away.
“We’ll take this one day at a time, Papa.”
He let go of her hands for a second and moved closer until their bodies touched. His hand then went behind her head and caressed the baby hairs that lined the nape of her neck before pulling her towards his lips.
“It’s George,” he whispered. “Please, call me George.”
“George,” Alice muttered voicelessly, her breath becoming uneven.
He took her mouth like he owned it, in a slow, intense, hypnotic kiss.
Mrs. Alice Omotosho, said a voice in her head, and she cleaved to him. Many years ago, a strange man prophesied to her. Today, the foundation for the fulfillment of that prophecy was laid.
Surely, it was God’s will.
Se jeje o: Take it easy (Yoruba).
So here’s my question for you guys… Is Papa a Yoruba demon or are his feelings for Alice genuine?