CHAPTER TEN – Situationships
Rain was starving. She hadn’t eaten since her flight touched down three hours ago. She hadn’t eaten for an entire day before that. Flying from London to Berlin to Lagos in the space of thirty-six hours was insane. She loved her job, but only the parts that didn’t have to do with back-to-back travels.
After she got into Lagos, she stopped at a store in Victoria Island where they sold fresh vegetables and grains from the north. She wanted to make zogale soup, as she had craved for it all through her trip.
She drove to Habib’s house, where she now temporarily lived. Habib was making dinner and he paused to give her a hug.
“How was your trip?”
“I can imagine. Well, you can rest and we finally plan our trip for that long-needed vacation.”
“Please, don’t remind me of planes. I have PTSD from being in the air.”
“Well, you have two weeks to heal from that.”
“Go and freshen up for dinner.”
Having noticed that the meal was already done, Rain avoided taking a shower and changed her clothes, instead. By the time she stepped out, dinner was waiting on the living room floor.
“I can’t believe that I’ve never been to the Bahamas before,” she said as she sat. “Something always came up at work whenever Mom asked us to go.”
“We’re going to have a good time.”
“The best one week of my life.”
They ate in silence for the first half of the meal. Then, Habib had a long drink of water and paused. It was a habit of his. He could eat for an entire hour, taking short breaks.
“So, how’s therapy going?”
“Em…” Rain smiled. “Good, I guess.”
“Good enough for you to want to let your mothers back into your life?”
Rain picked a broccoli stalk and stared at it with a frown. “I didn’t cut them off. I just needed time to be alone.”
“You keep saying that, but it’s hard to explain to them when you won’t pick their calls or respond to their texts or even want to see them. Kofo shows up here and you stay in your room until she’s gone. This has gone on far too long, Rain.”
“I know, and that’s why I’ll be having breakfast with them the day after tomorrow. Is Kofo in town?”
“So, will you kindly arrange breakfast for us?”
Habib smiled at her. “Gladly.”
After dinner, Rain went for a shower. It was warm and comforting. She stayed there longer than she usually would, pleasuring herself with a handheld shower head. But it did nothing for her, and she gave up on it. She hated that she was thirsty for a man’s touch and the sturdy assurance of intimacy, which she had denied herself. When she ran her hand over her breasts, she thought about Tari and how he loved to shower with her. She wondered, as she had been doing since they parted, if he was showering with someone else.
He probably was, and he didn’t miss her. He probably didn’t want to see her.
They had come across each other at work—during management meetings and office events. They had even worked on a campaign together that put two of them in proximity with each other. But Tari had acted like she did not exist, looking through her as if she was air. Not that she could blame him. She had ghosted him after he tried to get them back together.
He had called, sent messages, reached out to Jaya, shown up at her door. Every effort was rewarded with silence on her end. She had longed to tell him that it had nothing to do with him but with herself, as she was going through a mental breakdown, and didn’t know how to handle it. Of course, it wouldn’t have made sense to him because she didn’t miss a day at work and didn’t exhibit any outward sign of being a mess. In fact, she worked harder than she usually would; but every time she came home and shut the doors, everything inside crumbled.
She would sit for hours, staring at her television, not hearing her phone ring or someone knock on her door. She suffered insomnia, fatigue, heart palpitations, irritability, diarrhea, headaches and low appetite. The outcome of this was when her body gave up on her while she was in a meeting with Habib and her team one rainy morning. She slumped on the table and woke up on a hospital bed. The first thing she asked of Habib was for him not to tell her mothers of her present state. He acceded to her wish, as he also didn’t want them to panic.
Habib took her to his house after she was discharged and she had lived there since. During her recovery, Tari sent one last message, asking to see her; but she left him on read. Her mind was still messed up, and she didn’t know how to get help. Thankfully, Habib picked out on her SOS and referred her to a therapist.
After her first session, she came home and told him that she had wounds from her past she didn’t know needed healing.
“I didn’t even know I had these wounds, as I’ve always seen myself as privileged and happy. Now, I feel like my happiness has been a lie because I’ve always sought escape rather than face my problems head-on.”
“This means you’ve been moving about with the weight of those problems, smeared with the illusion of happiness,” Habib rephrased and Rain nodded. She was used to his manner of explaining things his way, just to be sure he didn’t miss whatever she was saying.
Through therapy, the ghosts of her past relationships were dug out from the oceans and fires into which she had tossed them. Before long, she realized that in the past, she was quick to move on to new relationships to escape the old ones. She also accepted that her money was a tool in her hands to buy attention and love. Tari had come into her life at a perfect time, falling into her need to run from the pain of Noah’s betrayal. She had liked him but only on the surface. Rain wasn’t sure how deep his feelings had been, but she didn’t think it was right for him to be a victim of her past wounds.
So, here she was, six months later, certain that she was strong enough to face him and talk about what happened. But she was scared that she was too late. She was also scared of coming to terms that her heart might break if he didn’t want her anymore—because she needed him and it was hard to think of anything else but him these days. She blamed it on the colleague who had invited her for drinks at a lounge to celebrate her birthday. Tari had been there, pretending not to see her, as usual. And it hurt, but not as much as the moment their eyes met and he held it for long before turning away. Shortly after, he left the lounge. She wanted to go after him, but her legs wouldn’t move.
“Why does he cripple me so much?” she asked her therapist the next day. “Why do I find it hard to breathe when he’s there?”
“I think we both know the answers to those questions. But I’m more interested in knowing if you think you’re ready to get into something with him again.”
Rain wasn’t sure. Hard as these months had been, they had freed her and opened her eyes to so many things. She had not known herself as she did now. The cherry on top was the closeness she shared with her father. There was no Dora or Kofo, just her and Habib, catching up on the years they missed. Many times, it felt like he was the only man she needed in her life.
As she lay on her bed to sleep, she went on Tari’s Instagram. He was quite the social media person these days, posting photos and reels of his luxury lifestyle. Something had changed in him and she hoped it was for the best.
But damn! The man was fine! She still couldn’t forgive herself for letting him go, especially since he offered to sit through her issues with her.
A message came in from Habib, giving her details of the breakfast date with her mothers. He asked if she wanted him there and she said no. He replied with a kiss emoji. Rain went back to ogling Tari.
The woman who sat facing Tari’s desk, wearing a pink jumpsuit that matched the flush of her lipstick, was flirting with him. She was attractive, and he understood why any man would get sidetracked by her looks.
But women like this annoyed him. This was a work environment, and the only thing he wanted from her was fulfilment of obligations from her brand to Hara Telecoms, which had been delayed on her end for months. Her lackadaisical attitude made him look incompetent at his job. He was already unpopular amongst his peers at the management level who believed that he didn’t deserve to hold his position. Even after six months, some still considered him fresh in the company.
“Look, Ms. Anyaoku—”
“Well, after all this time, Tari, I think you can call me Rita.”
“As I was saying, Ms. Anyaoku, I really must move on to other important matters. I have jumped quite a few red tapes to bump you up to this spot because everything else in your application checks out.”
“Unfortunately, I have to refer you back to our partner marketing manager if you don’t give me the updated tax documents for your company, right now. I’m sure, she’d be happy to put you on hold for the next affiliate list, which will come out next year. Hopefully, your brand will make it to the top again.”
“Are you kidding me?” Rita Anyaoku pushed her body forward, thrusting her cleavage at him. “I worked so hard to get to this place—”
“If you don’t have anything else business-related to discuss, I’m afraid, we’re done here.”
She reached across his desk and touched his hand as he went for his phone. He gave her a reprimanding stare.
“I’m sure you can overlook our tax issues, and in turn, I’ll make you very happy.”
Tari withdrew his hand from her hold.
She smiled. He let his eyes linger on the folder in front of him. He reached for a stamp on the desk as she watched him in anticipation. He leafed to the first page of the folder and stamped on it.
“Your application to become an affiliate with Hara Telecoms is denied. Try next year.”
The color drained from her face. Aghast, she shot to her feet and made to grab the folder but he lifted a finger, stopping her.
“I’m sorry, I have to sign this. It’s yours, though. We don’t keep hard copies around here. I’ll send you a rejection email—”
“I’ll make sure you regret this!” She grabbed the folder while he was still signing the document and marched out.
Tari checked the time. It was past four. He buzzed his assistant and permitted him to leave. After that, he picked his suit and phone and left the office. Taking the elevator at the end of the hallway, he made for the underground parking lot.
Rita Anyaoku was waiting by his car, arms crossed, face marred by rage.
“This was not the deal we had!” she yelled, even before he got to the car.
“I had no idea we had a deal, Rita.”
“You had no idea?” She dashed in front of him and backed him up against his car. She reached for his penis through his pants and held it as her tone dropped. “So, the nights we spent together, what did you think those were for?”
Tari was calm, although he was annoyed at her behavior. Rita was Didi’s friend. She caught his eye on one of the nights Didi brought her over to the house. Consequently, they had sex a few times, and she asked a favor of him. She wanted to be on the affiliate list of small-scale marketing brands that annually partnered with Hara Telecoms. She was late for the applications, but Tari jumped some red tapes to make it work for her. However, he got tired of their empty sexual arrangement and her nasty attitude and stopped seeing her. She had stopped coming to the house too, but she was still Didi’s friend. Tari hadn’t seen her in three months, and although he was grateful for that, he worried that she was a strong influence on Didi.
“This is sexual harassment, Rita.”
“What were the nights for?” she shouted and let go of him.
“You were sleeping with me to get me to approve your company? Wow, Rita. I totally feel used.”
“Used? I was the one who was used and dumped! Weren’t you fucking me and fucking Didi at the same time?”
“What?” Tari shook his head in confusion. “What did you say?”
“Don’t act coy with me. That was why you dumped me.”
“Okay, we’re done with whatever you think you’re doing here. This is utterly ridiculous.”
“Look, my own is that my application must be approved by you. Just wait and see.”
“Wishing you luck with that.”
She turned around and strutted off. Tari sat in his car, amused at what Rita had just told him. Had Didi told her things to scare her away? Was Didi still crazy about him? Just then, Sunny called.
“Good evening, Uncle Sunny.”
“There’s nothing lovely about the evening o, Atari. What’s this nonsense I’m hearing about you refusing to approve Rita Anyaoku’s application for the affiliate program?”
Tari pulled back. “You’re…acquainted with Rita Anyaoku?”
“Em…yes. She’s a friend’s niece and she’s been helpful to me in the past, so I have to pay back the favor.”
“Oh. But her company is behind on their taxes.”
“Uncle Sunny, you know we can’t approve them if they’re defaulting on—”
“Look, boy… This is above you. Get her approved.”
“I can’t, sir. It would go against my ethics.”
“Ethics didn’t get you to the top, boy. Your name did. Approve her or I’ll easily give your job to someone else who will. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir. Anything else?”
“Yes. The family is going to be vacationing at the Bahamas on the third week of this month. You are to be there.”
“Why would I want to be there?”
“To meet your cousins or alleged siblings.”
Till this moment, Tari hadn’t met with any other Olumese asides Sunny and Innocent. Ituah’s children didn’t even know he existed. He and Sunny agreed that it was best for him to maintain the lie that he was Ituah’s son. To Tari, it didn’t even matter.
“I have a feeling that Rain is going to be there as well,” Sunny mentioned.
Tari felt his muscles tense.
“And her parents?”
“Count me out.”
“Atari, you must be there. Specifically for Rain. I need you to get back on that horse. Don’t screw it up a second time.”
Sunny hung up.
“Which horse again?” Tari asked, as if speaking to the man. “Horse that doesn’t want me. Will I force myself on her?”
He didn’t like thinking about Rain. She had walked out of his life, as if she had not been in it. and left him hurt. He didn’t think that what he felt for her was that serious until he found himself getting high every night to avoid thinking about her. When he heard that she had collapsed at work, he went to the hospital to see her, but her dad wouldn’t let him in and they exchanged words over it. That evening, he told Bara how he had acted in the hospital, feeling shame that he went out of character for a woman that didn’t care if he existed.
“Let her go, Abashi. She’s not worth it.”
“Don’t say that, Bara. Rain is worth everything I have to give. She’s going through some shit. Fainting at work is evident to that.”
“Let her go.”
He didn’t take Bara’s advice immediately, hoping Rain would reach out to him after she got better. But when it became obvious that she wasn’t going to, he chose to let her go but not in a healthy manner. He kept late nights and hooked up with high-class women he had begun to socialize with. His free hours during the weekends were for making videos about his fast life. Bara disapproved of this change in him but Sunny spurred him to keep at it. He believed that Tari deserved to live a baby boy life as his only son. As long as he did his job well by day, he was allowed to play at night, although he never stopped to remind him of how disappointed he was in him for losing Rain.
As the months sped past, Tari’s nights soon became a blur, with him waking up in the mornings and not remembering half of what had happened hours ago. Bara was concerned and planted himself in his life by moving in with him temporarily. Tari didn’t complain; neither did he mind having fewer nights out and more time spent at home, engaging in meaningful activities. It felt to Tari as if someone had pressed the slow-motion button on his life. It felt good, but with it came thoughts of Rain. He restored deleted photos and videos of their time together at Dominica. In one of the videos, she was dancing to an Asake song. He had just discovered that she could dance and she was incredible at it. So, he played more songs for her and she danced until she was tired. Then, she crawled over his body and lay on him like a baby.
It was the longest video he had of her and he had seen it again last night. How could she have said that what they had was rushed?
On his way home, he tried not to think of her and kept his mind on what Rita had told him about Didi. He planned to have a word with her concerning the matter.
His car pulled into his compound, just as Bara was driving in. Bara came home with grilled peppered chicken and drinks. He also brought Joko along.
“Abashi!” Joko hailed him. They hadn’t seen in more than a week. “Or should I say ‘Olumese!’”
They shook hands and went into the house. Tari was welcomed by Ariella who ran to him calling out his name. When he picked her up, he directed his eyes toward the entrance of the kitchen where Didi stood. She was drying her hands on a napkin. Every two weeks, she showed up to cook for him, despite his pleas for her not to.
“Hi,” she greeted and turned her eyes on his friends, greeting them too.
“Let me get a tray for that chicken.” He let Ariella down and went into the kitchen, shutting him and Didi in. “We need to talk.”
“If it’s about me coming here to cook, don’t waste your time trying to stop me. I’m tired of us going back-and-forth. But if you insist, you can start paying me to cook.”
“Okay. That works. But before I agree on that, I need to know something, Ndidi. Did you tell Rita that you and I were…?”
“No, but she sort of thought we were.”
“And you didn’t correct that impression?”
“Because she doesn’t deserve you, Tari. She’s a ho.”
“A ho. But I met her through you.”
“Tari, she was just using you—”
“She was not. We were two adults, having a good time. None of your business.”
“She was sleeping with other men, including Uncle Sunny.”
“And you didn’t tell me?”
Didi walked to the gas cooker where something was boiling over. “I didn’t find out on time. I was going to tell you but you dumped her.”
“Didi, do you still have feelings for me?”
Didi pretended not to have heard him.
She turned. “You’ve been amazing to me. You got me a better job, paid Ari’s school fees, kept paying the rent for the old house and offset a huge chunk of my debt. Knowing my love language is acts of service and receiving gifts, how do you think what you’re doing to me won’t affect my feelings somehow? Let’s not forget that we have leftover feelings from the past?”
“Look, Didi… We’ve had this talk before. I don’t like repeating myself…”
Didi took a step forward and kissed him, stopping short his speech. She rested her hands on his chest as she did this, even pulling her body into his. She took her sweet time with his mouth, then stopped.
Bara walked in. He slowed and looked at them. Didi dropped her hands from Tari’s chest and took a step backward
Tari reached for a tray and handed it to Bara, keeping his eyes on Didi. The moment Bara stepped out, he asked, “What was that?”
“I hope you’ve satisfied the thing that’s hungrying you?”
Ariella ran in, calling out to Didi. Tari returned to the living room. He had barely sat when Bara said, “It won’t end well. I’d like to remind you that she’s still married, but that never mattered to you.”
“I don’t plan to do anything, guy.”
“Dude, this thing you and her are doing where she can come here anytime she likes is risky. I’ve seen how she dresses around you, and my guy, that’s not good. Let her go.”
“Why are you always telling me to let women go?”
“Just don’t smash Didi, I take God beg you.”
Tari didn’t respond to that. He had kissed Didi back in the kitchen and it felt good. No sparks, just a nice feeling.
“Anyways, I was thinking we should do Christmas in Bahamas,” Tari suggested.
“Bahamas?” Joko paused from the game he was playing. “Dude! You dey this same Naija we dey so? See how you’re mentioning Bahamas like say na Ibadan.”
“Chill.” Tari chuckled.
“I’m broke sha. I’m already sending wifey and the kids to her parents’ place for the holidays.”
“Relax, man. It’s on me.”
“Yeah. How do they say it? All-expense…”
Joko dropped the control pad. “No dey whine me.”
Tari simply grinned.
“Big boy doings!” Joko jumped to his feet and saluted. “I never thought I’d see this day! You’ve come a long way, man.”
“And I wouldn’t have made it without you guys.”
“Come here, baby bro.”
“You’re a fool.”
“I say come here!”
He dragged Tari up, shook him and hugged him. He let him go and locked him in the crock of his elbow.
“Can you stop?”
Tari pushed him away.
“O to the M-O! Bahamas, baby!”
Tari looked at Bara. “Are you in?”
“I get to handle food, at least.”
“Did you hear all expense-paid?”
Bara nodded. “I’m in.”
“Yes!” Joko wound his waist and his friends laughed. “Do they have fine chicks there? Wait… How about Jerry?”
“I already sent him a VN. You know you can’t drag that one away from business, but let’s see.”
Tari picked a beer can and opened it. He shared in Joko’s excitement, but his was because of Rain. He couldn’t wait to see her again. Weirdly, Didi’s kiss made him think of her. He wanted to kiss her once more, mad as he was at her.
Rain blocked her ears as Jaya screamed like she had just been offered a free ticket to eternal life.
“Can you stop? My dad is in the parlor.”
“Bahamas? Rain! I will forever love you.”
Rain knew what was coming and jumped off her bed to the floor. Jaya went after her with a hug and ended up bumping her forehead on the nightstand.
“Ouch, ouch, ouch.” Jaya rubbed the spot. “But yay! You have no idea what this means to me. This year has been harrrd, Rain. Just three movies, and the highest I was paid was 300k, with beg. People think they pay us well in this Nollywood.”
Rain couldn’t count the many times Jaya complained about the shitty pay she got as an actress.
“This trip is going to be the universe saying that it cares, you know? I so need it.”
Rain looked at her friend and saw tears in her eyes. “Jaya?”
“I can’t… I can’t do it anymore. I so want to quit Nollywood.”
“Hey…” Rain put her arms around her. “I’m here, baby. What do you want? Money to produce your own movies?”
“What if they don’t sell? Plus, I’m a shitty actress.”
“You know I am.”
“You’re not. Don’t say that.”
Rain gave her a steady back rub as she cried and laid out her woes.
“We’ll come up with something. Just relax and think of this vacation. Me and you and all the beautiful sights we’ll get to see.”
Jaya nodded like a child.
“I got you, baby.”
Later, they sat with Habib for dinner and listened to him regale them with stories from the old days. This was the type of thing Rain had missed in her childhood. Mide’s dad been a wonderful storyteller, sitting them all in the family living room that had pictures of each family member on the wall. Rain recalled the brown curtains with gold trimmings that matched the brown worn-out rug and the stained walls that were once cream-colored. The couches had been a shade of purple, so deep you thought it was black. Hanging off the ceiling, a creaky but powerful fan rotated the often-stuffy air in the room. The windows were always open but the mosquito netting seemed to have been made from a material that had a grudge with fresh air.
Rain and Mide had been childhood friends, years before Rain met Jaya in secondary school. Mide’s dad worked as Dora’s driver then. The family lived in a two-bedroom house down the street from Rain’s, making it easy for the girls to bond, although they were always apart during the holidays, due to Dora’s constant travels. When the Kareems moved to another neighborhood, the girls were temporarily separated, causing Rain to fall into depression.
Mide’s home had been Rain’s, and she had picked it repeatedly over her own home. She liked to lie with her on her small student-sized bed and talk late into the night about their future. They dreamt about the men they would marry, the charming princes that would whisk them off into the sunset. They also talked about how their bond would endure, unbroken by no one until they got old and died. It pained Rain that none of those dreams came true. Even now, Jaya was more a sister to her than Mide was. As she had anticipated, Mide had turned down her invitation to Bahamas.
“You know I have to spend Christmas at Kevin’s hometown,” she explained. “I’m sorry, Rain.”
“You had better be sorry for yourself, Mide. I’m so done.”
Rain was serious about giving up on her but Habib’s tale about enduring difficult relationships made her see things differently. He told the story, not because of Mide but because he was subtly hinting at Rain’s issues with her mothers. She held no grudges for them but she didn’t think she could ever trust them again.
The following morning, she sat across from them at a table in a restaurant. Characteristically, Kofo was as calm as a pond. Dora was the one who looked like she might burst into tears at the slightest push.
“I didn’t cut you out of my life,” Rain said. “I cut myself off from you. I wanted to sit back and take in everything, work on my coping mechanisms, and understand myself better. It had nothing to do with both of you. Six months ago, I lacked emotional regulation and I was so deep into dissociation and stonewalling. It never allowed me face my issues; rather I just wanted to run away at every slight inconvenience or press my always-ready happiness button. It was killing me.”
“I’m sorry,” Dora said.
“It took Tari to let me see it. Unfortunately, I ghosted him as well, and I don’t think he and I would come back together again. I hope you’re happy?”
Neither of them responded.
“That being said, I’m looking forward to Bahamas. I need the vacation.”
Dora left the seat she shared with Kofo and went to Rain with a hug. “Don’t do what you did to me again. I wanted to die, watermelon.”
From across the table, Kofo smiled at Rain and she smiled back. Dora returned to her seat and Rain leaned closer to them.
“So, Mommy Kofo… Is it okay for me to call you that when I want to differentiate?”
“When do I begin to get a piece of the big pie that’s Hara Telecoms? I want to be a shareholder. We’ve been doing awesome in the stock market. I want a piece of all that.”
“And you will get it,” Kofo assured her.
As executive comms manager at Hara Telecoms, Nadia was living the dream life. Kofo had set her and her siblings up after a five-hour family meeting that was filled with fights and a dive into the past. It had given Nadia much pleasure to see her mother in tears, the mighty Kofoworola Aboderin brought down to a driveling mess. Unlike Lanumi and Nehi, Nadia and Xavier didn’t go easy on her. Not even the fact that she offered them jobs, money and houses swayed them. Xavier didn’t think she was truly sorry. The morning after he received a shocking sum in millions from Kofo, he came up with a theory.
“She’s dying, and she doesn’t want to go with her sins hanging over her. Maybe we should take it easy on her.”
“That’s your business, Xave. I don’t care.”
“But you care enough to eat her money,” Lanumi said.
“I didn’t ask to be born into this world. She brought me in without my consent. It’s her duty to take care of my needs.”
“You’re a grown ass woman, Nad.”
“Good you know that. Now, will you go and suck your husbands’ dicks and leave me alone?”
Lanumi didn’t find her comment funny, and what followed was a verbal fight, so heated that Lanumi walked off and kept her distance from Nadia. After many failed attempts from Xavier to reconcile them, he let them be. Lanumi eventually reached out and invited Nadia for her second son’s birthday. Nadia bought gifts for the boy and his elder brother but spent the day in an Airbnb, being eaten out by her married boyfriend. Lanumi got mad, refused to accept the gifts, and their fight resumed. They hadn’t spoken to each other since then.
Today, while enduring a meeting at work that should never had happened, Nadia got a text from her.
Are you going for Mommy’s birthday at the Bahamas? One of her assistants is trying to get our travel arrangements sorted. We’re also thinking of doing an aso-ebi and we need your participation
Nehi looked at the text and wondered who the ‘we’ were. Only Lanumi and Nehi were exited to go on that trip.
Respond to this or not. I don’t give af
Nadia laughed. Lanumi was so dramatic.
“Ms. Olumese, is there anything funny?”
Nadia looked up at her boss whose job she was going to covet soon. The woman wore the best suits and her wigs cost as much as the expensive jewelry she always paraded on her fingers.
“Nothing funny, ma’am.”
She responded to Lanumi’s text.
-I thought you weren’t talking to me? Which husband fucked you back to your senses?
-You’d know if your pussy wasn’t closed for business
Nadia burst into another laugh.
Nadia looked up. “Family emergency, ma’am. I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t test me, young woman.”
Nadia kept her retort to herself. Knowing she had plans to knock the woman off her position, she was going to play it cool. She and Sunny had a deal that would see her heading the department soon. He had no idea that she had told her siblings about the contract. They were unaware that she and Sunny had a deal. Firstly, he had given her money for her silence. Secondly, he bumped her from the position Kofo offered to her to an executive one. She felt like a winner on all sides.
Xavier worked from home today, but he wasn’t technically at home. He spent the time at a café in his neighborhood because the ambience was soothing, surrounded by nature, and they served the best coffees in Lagos. After work, he strolled to his house, which was only a fifteen-minute walking distance from the café. He lived in the same estate as his siblings, somewhere in Lekki. On many mornings, he saw Nadia drive to work or Lanumi taking her kids to school before heading to the supermarket she owned down the road. He had more flexible hours than they did, working with one of Hara Telecom’s subsidiaries that offered WIFI services. He hardly had guests over, save for Bami who stopped by to either drop or pick up their daughter. Their divorce was progressing and Xavier had informed everyone who cared to know that he would soon be a free man.
Getting home this evening, he found Bami’s car parked within the compound. His gateman always let her in without his consent, and he was fine with that.
She was in his car when he approached. She looked up from her phone and let the window down.
“We need to talk,” she said. His eyes were on her cleavage. The familiar fragrance of her perfume filled his head. He moved away from the door and she got down. He noted the shortness of her dress. Again, he wouldn’t have let her dress like this if he were still her man. She looked breathtaking, though. Her long, blonde braids complemented her beautiful skin. Blonde looked good on her.
Xavier unlocked the door and let her in. His house was always clean these days, thanks to the woman who came in every day to take care of things. It was a proper bachelor space with shades of brown and army blue. Nothing spectacular for art except a painting of his daughter and her cat.
Bami sat and Xavier asked if she wanted anything to drink.
He sat on the same couch she did and faced her. “So, what’s up?”
“I want to go to Bahamas with you.”
“I didn’t say I was going. In fact, I specifically said I wasn’t.”
“Lanumi told me you would.”
“Lanu…” He sighed.
“So, are you?”
“You want to go? Why? Won’t your boyfriend get mad?”
“He’s going for his aunt’s burial before Christmas. Family will be there and they’ll spend the holiday together. He asked me to come along, but…” She shook her head. “They don’t like me.”
“I’m a divorcee, single mother, used goods…”
“Don’t talk about yourself like that, Bami.”
“That’s exactly how his mom described me. To my face.”
Bami blinked as her eyes turned glassy. “Last week.”
“That’s very unfair.”
“You can laugh all you want. Go ahead and say you told me so.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Bamitale.”
“It just feels so… I don’t know. I think something is wrong with me.” She sniffled. “Your family didn’t like me and I’m going through the same thing again. And he loves me, but he keeps defending me and fighting them. I don’t want that because I’m scared that he’d use it against me tomorrow. Plus, I don’t think I should come between him and his family, you know? It’s wrong. But I feel alone, Xave. So alone.”
“No, you’re not alone.” He moved toward her and took her hand. “I’m here.”
His touch was all she needed to unburden herself in tears. She rested into his body and cried. He felt sorry for her, but at the same time, happy that things weren’t working out in her relationship as he had imagined. He hoped that she would break up with her man, to give him the chance to sneak back in. He wanted her to himself, no other woman could do it for him like Bami did.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She pulled away and reached for a hanky in her handbag. She wasn’t a hanky person unless she was crying a lot. In the beginning days of their breakup, she had carried a set of soft, purple hankies around. This one was green.
She dabbed her eyes and blew her nose. “It is well,” she said with a smile and laid her hand on his. “Thank you.”
Xavier stared down at her hand, at her fourth finger where her wedding band mark used to reside. It was now gone. She had taken their marriage more seriously than he had done. He knew their breakup was all on him, and he was sorry. But his pride wouldn’t let him tell her.
He looked away from her hand to her eyes. A few seconds passed with neither of them saying anything. But just as she was about to look elsewhere, Xavier reached over and kissed her. Not fiercely or hungrily. A soft kiss, like it was their first time and he didn’t know if she wanted it or not.
He stopped but his face didn’t leave hers.
“Fuck this divorce,” he whispered, “and come back to your husband, Bami.”
Her reply to him was a kiss of her own. Hers was hungrier, fiercer. She tugged his shirt, pushing her body into his. He responded with equal need as his hands followed the contour of her curves, finding thighs on which he had slept on many times in the past. He let his caress linger before he moved up to her plush buttocks. When he squeezed them, she moaned and bit his lip, pulling his body even closer to him.
Xavier stopped, but only to take off his shirt—and while he did this, Bami got off the couch and began toward his bedroom as if she owned the place. If there was a time for them to stop their madness, it was now. And Xavier did think about the consequences for a total of three seconds before running after her.
Twenty-something minutes and an orgasm later, they were still at it. Xavier came up for air after Bami’s second orgasm. He needed a drink in the kitchen and went for it. When he walked in, he saw Nadia helping herself to a bottle of wine. He was startled by her presence and covered his genitals. Bami came in seconds later, also in the nude. She put her arms around her breasts.
Nadia kept a straight face.
“By a show of hands, which one of you is into that aso-ebi shit for the biological mother’s Bahamas party?”
Neither of them raised their hands. Nadia got her answer.
“So, if I say no, I’ll now come and look like the bad person, abi? Una well done.”
She dropped the bottle of wine in the sink and walked past them.
“You moan too much, Bami.”
©Sally Kenneth Dadzie @moskedapages