Basis for Love – A True Dream novel

basis-for-love-imageEIGHT

 

Aaron offered to drop me home. It was already close to midnight and the road was free. The air in the car wasn’t though.

“I hope you’re not angry I showed up,” he said.

“No.” I paused. “I’m glad you came. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

After that we were both quiet. What could I say to him? He had hit me deeper than anyone could. Who told him I had never had a birthday party in my life, or that I had always planned to have one when I had money to do so.

My family history wasn’t a long one. My mother never knew her parents. She grew up on the streets and got charities from the church. When she was old enough, she met Salome’s father who married her. He didn’t stay long enough to see Salome though. My father came and went just as unceremoniously and Mama decided not again.

By the time she died, all we had was ourselves, and my prospective university education. Salome and I looked alike, like Mama but I was much smarter than my sister, and it was the reason my mother chose to do all to get me an education. I would never be able to thank her enough for the privilege.

From the girl who took me to Aaron, I learnt he was a playboy from a rich family. Working with David confirmed this. He’d made it a habit to globe-trot spending money on strange women. When he met me, he was only doing what he’d done so many times.

I couldn’t love such a man. What was the basis for it? A classy surprise birthday party? I moaned. It all summed up to one thing. I was being bought. Again.

The truth hit below the belt. Was he still interested in me? Because he wasn’t saying anything anymore. Or he was simply resigned? Or he was playing the reverse psychology game on me. Whatever the case, I feared who I really was deep down. This man could still be the reckless playboy I met eight years ago. For him, everything summed up to the naira. He had more than enough to do as he wished. He wasn’t someone I should even consider.

Yet…

He asked for directions to my house once we got off the third mainland bridge and I gave him. We got to my house soon enough, and I got out.

“Thank you for everything,” I murmured.

He nodded and drove off.

I could weep. He didn’t want me anymore, and I could not ask him about it. My heart thudded through the night. I couldn’t sleep. Salome had waited up and chatted for almost an hour before we turned in. For the first time, she didn’t notice my misery amid her excitement about the party. We had never had a birthday cake not to talk of a party. Again I couldn’t share my pain with her. The man I disdained most was now most desirable.

The nagging questions held me captive. What if he was still the playboy he used to be? And anyway, did he still want me? Why would he throw such a huge party if he didn’t? To spite me?

At work the following day, I opened all my gifts excitedly with my colleagues. People had been thoughtful. I got nice presents a young woman would appreciate. It was almost like wedding gifts. I was tempted to call Aaron and thank him again but then, my spiritual mind cautioned me.

I’d better not put my heart where I couldn’t vouch for its safety. If I fell for Aaron now, I was doomed. Either way. If he didn’t want me anymore, or if he hadn’t put his life straight.

I got home with my presents and we looked through them again, Salome and me. Designer perfumes, expensive lace material, a wristwatch, several kitchenware, and a microwave oven from David! It was great.

Aaron didn’t give anything but he had given more than enough. In fact, in essence, he had given all. Bomi showed me a copy of the invites sent out stating clearly the card, and a gift for the celebrant admitted. I’d never seen an invite like it before.

Once again I fought the urge to call him and open conversation.

Cuddled on the double bed we shared, Salome said softly, “I don dey pray for you and dat man o, Shirley. Aaron abi wetin you call am.”

“Thank you, Salome,” I whispered back.

“E don cuh you?”

“No.” She was quiet. “What do you think that means?” I said.

“E go cuh you. Jus dey pray. God go tosh am.”

“I fear say e no like me again, Salome. I dey also fear say e no be Christian.” I sighed. “The way e con ask me for that contract again.”

Salome giggled. “Who contract epp?”

We both laughed.

“Make we ol hands pray, Shirley. Make God tosh am.”

My sister did not pray as long as I could, but she feared God, and observed a lot of fasting. If Salome was praying for you, the chance that God would answer was high.

Aaron gave me a week to steam, then he called.

He sounded husky on the phone. “Can we talk?”

I cleared my throat too. “Yes.”

He picked me up at my house the following evening.

“No argu o. Jus dey pray insai,” Salome whispered before I left.

We went to an exclusive restaurant on the mainland, and after an exotic meal in silence, Aaron took a deep breath.

“I don’t know what to say, Shirley.” He chuckled. “I think I say the wrong things when I’m with you.” He stared. “Thank you for responding to me at least.”

“Well, you did something nobody ever did for me. Not even my mother.”

He arched an eyebrow. “What did I do?”

“You gave me a birthday party. I…I know that must sound so strange.”

He nodded. “It does. But I’m glad I did it. Though I wasn’t at the party, I couldn’t stop smiling. I just knew I’d hit it right.”

I felt shy. “You did. Thank you.”

“After David asked me to back off, I went to my knees and asked God to help me. I wanted you so much, and I didn’t know what else to do. The birthday idea sprang into my spirit.”

I gasped. “You prayed about me?”

“From that first day I saw you at your office.” He held out his hands across the table. I slowly put mine in them. “I’ve been so confused.”

“You asked to renew the contract.” I shrugged. “That totally put me off.”

He rubbed the back of my hands. “I didn’t know what to say to you.” He frowned. “I think back on the life I led. The friends I kept with my brothers.”

“You continued after me?” I shook my head. “I don’t even want to know. What’s important is the future.”

He chuckled. “My father threatened to disinherit us. In fact he did. And three years ago, my two brothers and I got back in his good books. Family intervened and we were added back into his board of directors.”

He had to be so old. “How old are you?” I said.

“Thirty-six this year.”

“I’m twenty-nine,” I said before I remembered he just threw me a party.

Aaron smiled. “I know.”

He had a beautiful smile and I enjoyed gazing at him. “I was scared you still lived like that.”

“Horrible lifestyle. I gave it up even before Dad disowned us. Before I repented and turned to God.” He squeezed my hands. “I gave it up because of our contract.”

 

The End.

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TILL DAY BREAKS (Eiba Family Saga Book 3)

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Excerpt…

Her phone rang as soon as she finished her prayers, as though the caller was watching.

She dreaded who it could be.

“See me in my office right away,” MD said and hung up.

Did he ever give one a chance to an opinion? She looked at Mercy who was busy receiving a fax and sighed. What will be will be!

“Mercy please my attention is needed in Mrs. Samson’s office,” she said.

Mercy looked at her quizzically. “Are you certain?”

“Yes. I just got a call now.”

The look on Mercy’s face demanded an explanation but she ignored it. They had their grape vine, didn’t they? Let their source settle them.

Before she knew it, she was back where she was yesterday, looking down the corridor that led to MD’s office. She took a deep breath and smiled. Whatever was coming, she was ready.

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Basis for Love – A True Dream novel

basis-for-love-imageSEVEN

 

Everyone was there, even Luke and the other members of staff we left behind in Lekki. Who could have imagined? Salome was there too! To be sincere, I didn’t remember it was my birthday. Salome was the one good with dates. She’d have been ranting about the birthday from a month earlier, and she never mentioned it.

What did I do to deserve a surprise party? Salome! Oh my darling sister. I could imagine how much she must have spent to make this a date to remember.

I hugged her neck, and whispered in her ears. “I’m going to do mine back. I’ll get my revenge. I will remember your birthday, I promise.”

She laughed. “You no go fit. The only day you remember na the day Mama die.”

I pinched her and she screeched. Wow! I couldn’t imagine the energy she put into this to plan with my colleagues. The music was good, and loud. The DJ seemed to know all my favourite Christian artistes and songs from Lara George’s Dansaki re, and Higher, to Sinach to Samsong. I was reeling and sweating in my office suit like there was no tomorrow.

The food was good, all my favourite people were there. It was a small but classy party, just the way I liked it. Salome’s two hair stylists and our neighbours were in attendance too.

When I’d eaten more than enough, drank a lot of chapman and enough ice-cream to get a sugar rush, I waltzed to Bomi and hugged her neck.

“You traitor,” I laughed. “Planning all this behind my back.”

She giggled. “Time to cut your cake.”

She gently pushed me forward and I walked regally to a 2-tier cake. I’d never seen anyone celebrate their 29th birthday in such a grand way. I was told to make a wish before I cut the cake, and I did. I closed my eyes and said a short prayer in my heart.

“God, please honour the person who planned this day.”

Phones and cameras flashed in my face. I felt pressed to give a small speech, and I gave an emotional one, thanking everyone for coming and for the gifts they brought. As pieces of the yummy cheese cake I just cut were passed around, David walked up to me.

“Enjoying your day?”

I beamed. “Yes, David. Thank you so much. How you could help to plan all this…”

“You’re welcome. You deserve this. And much more.”

I heaved a heavy sigh. That was endorsement like none I’d ever received. “That’s so kind of you.”

“I’m glad it is a success, and you liked it. Your cake?”

“Exotic. I’m glad it’s so big. I will keep it for a long time.”

“And you like the music too?”

“Yes, David. Thank you so much.”

“Aaron planned it,” he said softly. “You might want to call him to say thank you.”

I gasped. “Aaron.”

He gave me a card. “He thought his presence would offend you but I think you should call.”

He smiled and moved back into the party while my teeth clattered. Aaron. Why was I not surprised. Salome couldn’t have pulled this off. She may have been told not to remind me on my birthday or may have been part of the plan, but my sister didn’t have such imagination as this. Or the acumen.

I sighed. This was definitely the best day of my life. What would happen if I didn’t call Aaron? What could he do to me? Nothing. In fairness, he didn’t do anything wrong, without the morals behind his action. I stood at a corner where there were other prostitutes. I dressed suggestively and allowed myself to be driven to a hotel. Throughout the night with him, he did not disrespect me, and didn’t force anything on me. And at the end, he paid more than was agreed.

What kind of man drove into town and picked a girl by the street corner? That was a question for another time.

I stepped outside away from the noise, and called Aaron. “Hello. This is Shirley.”

His voice was low. “I know. Happy birthday. I prayed you would call.”

“Thank you for the party. I mean, it wasn’t necessary, though.”

“Did it meet your standard?”

I giggled. “My standard? You said that to make me laugh.”

“I did.”

“You could have attended the party, I mean…it must have cost you a fortune.”

“Anything for you.”

An awkward silence followed. He had done something no one ever did for me, and it touched me deeply. I knew what he wanted but I couldn’t bring myself to give in. The gift of a man, the Bible said makes room but I just could not.

“Well, thanks again. God bless you.”

“Take care of yourself.”

“Bye. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Thanks for calling.”

“You’re welcome. Bye.”

“Bye.”

I should hang up but I couldn’t. He didn’t either. I stared at the phone for ages, till Salome burst through the door.

“Na ee-ar you dey? I don find you taya. E be like say pipu wan begin go…”

I hung up quickly and smiled. But Salome noticed.

“Wetin?”

“It’s him. Aaron.”

“Ahah, wetin be hin prolem na? E no go gree you res?”

“I called him.” I swallowed. “David told me he planned the party.”

“Ewo!” Salome gasped. “The man like you weh weh o.”

“I don’t know what to do now. What am I to do, Salome?”

“Wetin e talk? E wan carry you out?”

I shook my head. “He didn’t say so.”

“Hmm. Sha, come inside abeg. We wan begin go.”

The party rounded up but I couldn’t stop shaking. My heart thudded at what should be done.

Bomi walked over to me. “Your gifts. You know everyone with an invite had to also bring a gift.”

I covered my mouth so I would not scream. “No?”

“Yes.” She smiled. “David wanted to know which car you’re leaving with so we can put your gifts in it.”

“Oh my. Any available car.” I was so overwhelmed. My throat clogged with tears but I couldn’t help them run down my cheeks.

Salome came over. “We don go. We call Uba.”

“Okay Salome. I’ll see you at home. Thanks.” I waved at the two girls who came with her.

My neighbours, three of them also left. I joined Bomi and others to put my twenty gifts in one of the office cars.

Bomi winked. “We’ll open them together in the office tomorrow.”

I laughed but the look froze when I turned to get into the car and saw Aaron come out of a Jeep. I drew in a deep breath. He walked toward me, and Bomi, seeing this asked if she should wait.

It was a question of the century. Everyone else had gone. I swallowed and nodded.

  • continues tomorrow…

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Basis for Love – A True Dream novel

basis-for-love-imageSIX

 

The following Monday, I put in my resignation, with immediate effect. David sent for me.

“Don’t you think you’re overreacting?”

He wasn’t a man who joked a lot about a lot of things. I’d never seen him interact with anyone on a personal level. His company wasn’t a big one with only about ten of us as staff, but it was a strong company and David ran a tight system. If someone resigned, they were out. The salary was very good, better than most others, and we had many benefits and year-end bonuses.

I sighed. “It has nothing to do with last Saturday.”

“Then what? You got another job?”

“No, sir.”

He frowned. “I told Aaron to leave you alone too. I can’t have emotions running riot all over the place, and he’s taken the advantage too far.”

I felt such a huge relief. “Thank you, sir. I’m so sorry I let it interfere with my job.”

He smiled. “Okay, you can go back to your duty. I’ll assume I didn’t get your resignation.”

I curtsied. “Thank you, sir.”

Such a sensitive boss. I raised my hands in the air, and thanked God. With this job, I could have bought a car but I was saving for Salome. The Christmas and New Year bonus I got went to pay my rent and hers. My salary solely went into Salome Project account. I didn’t need to start a new job now. It would be crazy.

After emptying my mind to my sister, we had prayed together. She didn’t condemn me but advised I leave the job and work with her till I could get another job. As an administrator, I could work in any firm. Though this was as much as a disadvantage because we were so many in the field.

I called my sister and told her everything.

“God don ansa be dat o. Tank God you no leave. As dey don warn am, e good,” she said.

Two months of peace went by. I didn’t hear from Aaron. Ini and I broke off our relationship after that party fiasco, and my life went back to normal. After working for David’s company for almost two years, I could rent a nice shop in Omole for Salome, and it was adjoined to a simple one-room apartment. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but it was far better than where we’d been and I could move in with her.

We both excitedly set up shop in the new elite area. My days were spent in Apapa at work, and nights and weekend in Salome’s shop. We had a beautiful arrangement. She took care of the simple things like electricity bills, and food. I paid the big bills and saved for better days. I was happy again.

With Aaron out of my radar, I could live in peace. Do the things that made me happy which summarized to work, Salome and church.

On a bright Thursday afternoon, our receptionist, Bomi, rushed into my office. We were all going to the Island to take delivery from a ship that docked over the night.

I frowned. “Island or port?”

“Island. That’s what David said.”

She moved off and I rushed to my door, to get her before she moved off the corridor. I saw her at Luke’s door.

“Everybody is going. The cars will be ready in fifteen minutes,” she said.

“Ah, will you calm down? Where’s David?”

“He’s at the port. They moved the cargo to Lekki and they need extra hands so David volunteered all of us.” She moved on.

I looked at the accountant. “So who will stay at the office?”

The question was meant for him but Bomi responded just before she opened the door to the IT office.

“We’re locking up.”

I returned to my desk. “Serious matter.” I closed the documents I had opened, and picked my bag.

At the lobby, everyone assembled and we left the office in two cars. It took over two hours to get to the warehouse, only to be told the job was done, and David had returned to the office. I nearly swore. In another hour, if we didn’t get on the third mainland bridge, we’d be stuck in rush hour for another five hours. I panicked.

“Please can we leave this place?”

The driver to the car I came with was nowhere in sight. I could be getting home at close to ten tonight. I called Salome and she told me not to worry. She’ll be fine. I hated traffic. I paced while Bomi called the guy’s number.

“He said he rushed to use the toilet,” she said.

I rolled my eyes. The second car she came with was about to leave. “You people can’t leave us here o.”

Luke walked over and offered to switch with me so I could leave with Bomi and the others. I gave him a sweet smile and followed Bomi.

“David wants us to try and check into the office before we close,” Bomi said as we joined a light traffic.

“If we get out of Island before close of work.”

She giggled. “I pray so. He also said I should stop at Casa Lydia to buy club sandwich for him.”

“Where on earth is Casa Lydia?”

“It’s in Ikoyi. They have great food.”

“Well, why didn’t he stop by and get the sandwich himself.” I hissed. “Boss or no boss.”

Bomi laughed. “Shirley baby! You can get so worked up?” She touched my hair lightly. “I like your weave.”

I smiled. “I’m a hairdresser, remember. I change my hair weekly.”

The other lady in logistics department, Uche smiled. “What style is this one? Not sure I’ve seen it.”

“To be sincere, it’s an experiment my sister tried. We use the strong hair pieces for natural hair and straighten them, then she made a weave-on of it.”

Uche touched it. “Very nice. I’m making the hair.”

“Thanks Uche.”

We made small talk for another hour, and got to Ikoyi close to five. We were finished. There was no magic to beat the rush hour traffic from Island to Mainland.

Bomi rushed inside the restaurant, and I wondered why. We might as well all sit in the car for another five hours before we move on.

Bomi walked out shortly afterward. “David is here, can you imagine? He said we should all come in for a drink.”

I hissed. “The last four hours wasted and another five to go. I’m tired without doing a thing.”

I trudged into the restaurant and startled at shouts of, “Happy Birthday!”

“What?! It’s my birthday.”

  • continues tomorrow…

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Basis for Love – A True Dream novel

basis-for-love-imageFIVE

 

I wasn’t joking as week in week out, Aaron put pressure. One day, he came to my office with two tickets to a movie premiere. I offered to pay for mine and he got upset.

“Okay. I won’t pay. Let me see the ticket.” He handed it to me, and I tore it into bits. “Thanks.”

He showed up at every event organized by my company, or ones we were invited to. Much as I tried to have a relationship with Ini, it was straining. My guy wanted dates, wanted to show me off to his banker friends and rich family. I was a private person. All I wanted was to live my life, save my money to set up my sister in Ikoyi or Ikeja, and move her out of Shomolu slums where she currently had.

Ini and I quarrelled about everything.

On one occasion, a colleague’s father was celebrating his 70th birthday party. As was now my new-normal, Ini and I attended. Aaron too. We sat on the table reserved for office staff. The party was going on well till Ini reached out for the bottle of wine. It was an alcoholic label, and everyone knew I was the fanatic Christian who didn’t believe we should drink alcohol.

On reflex, I told him it was alcoholic.

“I know,” Ini mumbled.

“So why are you taking it?”

He shrugged. “Because I want to.” He opened the bottle and poured some into a glass, and took a sip. “Hmm, rich.”

I didn’t know Aaron was watching us. If I did, I’d not have done anything to show my displeasure because he would capitalize on it. As he did.

“You can’t drink alcohol. You want to get drunk here and embarrass me?” I said between my teeth.

“It’s all about you, all the time,” he muttered. He reached for the glass again.

It happened before I could stop myself. I pushed the glass out of his reach, and realized other people may be observing us. When I looked up, my gaze locked with Aaron’s. He had a little smile on his face. He picked up his glass of water and took a sip.

“Let him have his fill, Shirley dear. After all, he’s not serious about you or what you care for.”

I never knew Aaron to be one to confront anyone before. In all the previous times we’d been in public together, he stayed calm.

“Shut up, mister.” Ini bit out. “Pass my glass,” he snapped at me. “You think I don’t know he has a crush on you, Shirley? You think I don’t know you invite me to all these parties to spite him?”

My fair skin turned pale. David looked at me. “What are you trying to do here? Cause a scene?”

Aaron chuckled. “Let them make a show of themselves.”

I should have resigned. I should have been serious with my Google search. I should have bought every Tuesday and Thursday Guardian newspaper for all the job adverts they published. I should not be here now.

My instinct told me to stand up and leave but that could create a bigger scene. “I’m sorry.” I pushed Ini’s glass back to him, and remained quiet for the rest of the party.

On the way out, David walked up to me. “I don’t want to see Ini at any of our gatherings anymore.” He stalked off.

Ini was just by my side and David had spoken like he wasn’t there. I knew my boyfriend was tipsy. He shouted at David’s retreating figure, “Who wants to attend your rotten gatherings?”

It was all I could take. I ran off to the road, and got a taxi. There were tears in my eyes when I got to Salome’s salon. When I wasn’t so upset, she detected, how much more now.

“Wetin ahpoon again?”

I hugged my sister and wept into her chest.

“Ah, Oluwa, wetin ahpoon na?” She shook me. “Teh me abeg, make I no go mad ee-ar o!”

“I have a secret. That old boyfy I told you about? It’s him.”

“Im au?”

“He wasn’t…isn’t old boyfy.”

I had to spill it out. I sat on Salome’s bed and looked away. This couldn’t be spoken in broken English or with eye contact.

“That year Mama died, you remember one time I bought plenty provisions and lace for her.” She grunted. “You were asking where I got the money from and I told you I borrowed it from my course-mate?” She grunted. “I didn’t borrow it. She—she took me somewhere.”

“Wia? Oluwa Shirley. Wetin you do?”

I wasn’t hiding anything anymore. “I know the girl had a lot of money but I wasn’t close to her. So I asked her to lend me some money for Mama’s health. She said she uses her body to make money. That she can’t borrow me but she can take me with her too.” Salome groaned. “At first I no gree, I beg her but she no answer me. So she took me to one street and we stood there at night.”

Because Salome was so still, I stole a glance at her. She was frozen. Her mouth hung loose.

“A car drove up to us, and we entered. Two men were in the car. She—the girl told them I be JJC. So the other man said he didn’t have patience for JJC, say make the other wan carry me.”

Tears poured from my eyes. I couldn’t control the emotions. The look on Salome’s face tore at me. Mama would have died of heart attack if she ever knew. I was the good choir girl. Prettier than my sister. Prettier than all the girls in school. Best behaved. Smartest kid on the block.

I looked at Salome again, and tears poured from her eyes too. “Oh Salome I am so sorry. I have disappointed all of us. God please forgive me.” I wailed.

“Wetin con ahpoon?”

I swallowed. “So the one wey carry me just start. So…he con discover say I be virgin. So…he said he like me. Say why fine geh like me dey do dis kain work…so I tell am my mama sick. So…he said he go give me ten thousand say e no come with plenty money…say he will come again…and carry me next time and he will come with money.

“He took my number and gave me his own. And told me his name is Aaron Ezekiel. The following week, he called me. I didn’t save his number so I pick the call. He said he was in town. Say…make I meet am for the hotel. Say…e wan make I spend weekend wit am.” I sighed. “I tell am say I don travel. He try say make I return. I no gree. He call call call.” I shook my head. “For three months he was calling me every week. He even told that girl my course-mate to bring him to campus. Then I told him to his face I no be prostitute.”

Salome wiped her face. “So you no folo am again?”

“No. I no follow any man since that time. Again.” I pressed my lips together. “The money he gave me couldn’t save Mama, anyway. I just wanted her to have fine things before she died.” I sobbed.

“So dat na eight years ago na.”

I sniffed. “He came to my office about six months ago. He’s been disturbing me since then.”

  • continues tomorrow…

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TILL DAY BREAKS (Eiba Family Saga Book 3)

Kade Eiba’s exciting love story…

till-day-breaks-cover-new-cropped

Excerpt…

Eager to leave before the temptation to get the clothes overwhelmed her, she turned and bumped into a figure behind her.

“Watch where you’re going,” a low male voice came through.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Joy side-stepped, not looking at the person.

He was much taller and it annoyed her he had been directly behind her. She had to hurry anyway. She had just ten minutes to lunch-over.

“Joy—is it?” the man raised his voice and she turned stunned anyone knew her here.

It was the MD.

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I want your feedback too. Thank you!

Basis for Love – A True Dream novel

basis-for-love-imageFOUR

 

I had not seen the end of Aaron. Maybe I underestimated his interest. But what options did I have? He had my phone number and sent me messages. He knew my office, and often stopped by. His arrogance beside the unthinkable offer he made drove me nuts.

Who did he think he was? What a pervert? Still, I couldn’t confide in anyone. My colleagues in the office teased at how persistent he was. David put in a word every now and then for him, and I wondered what his friend must have told him.

To ward him off, I accepted a date from an old schoolmate, Ini, who had been asking for two years. No one had ever seen me with a guy.

Salome always thought our family history was my reason for chasing men away. Mama’s two husbands had left her with a daughter each. A good enough reason for me to be uninterested, but really, Aaron was the main motivation.

My company threw a happy hour every last Friday of the month to celebrate staff, and I chose this event to introduce my new man. Usually strictly an office affair, staff sometimes brought their partners, and David would invite one or two clients.

I suspected Aaron would be at the happy hour, and he was. Ini was a cool banker, with a great air, and confidence. I had purposely selected him of my many suitors because he was one person who could stand up to Aaron, or any man. Poor Ini didn’t know I was using him.

The party went on smoothly. To my great relief, Aaron didn’t come near me, seeing I had Ini on my arms, and I openly flirted with him. With my colleagues teasing and encouraging my relationship, it would have been preposterous for him to do anything.

He was in my office first thing on Monday morning though.

“I wanted to apologize,” he said. “I guess I was way over my head, and I thought—well, I didn’t think you would want the contract anymore, but…” He rubbed his temple. “I like you, Shirley. A lot. I can’t get you out of my thoughts.”

I swallowed. “It’s not possible to have anything. I’m not. I can’t do what you suggest.”

“No, no. Honestly, I’m embarrassed I made the offer at all. I’m not even that kind of person anymore. Believe me.”

I couldn’t believe what he was saying. This was a man who would travel from another city to Lagos for work, and pick girls by the roadside. Whoever did that? Which responsible man did that?

“Okay, I understand.”

“Give me a chance to do the right thing, Shirley.”

Lying came more naturally than I would have liked. “As you saw last Friday, I have someone.”

“You just got him. To spite me?”

“Why would you say that? Don’t I have a life without you?”

“David told me you didn’t have anyone.”

I grunted. “Okay.”

His mere presence made me sick. I just wanted him to leave. It’s Monday for heaven’s sake. He was in my office almost every day. How very convenient his ships were berthing every week. I still wonder how I’d never come across him. Probably he now lived in Lagos. But then, a man like him would move in certain circles. Besides, I had no social life. From my job, I worked in Salome’s salon. On weekends, I was a hairdresser, and a choir member. Where would a woman like me meet a man like him? Except for the rare coincidence about a month earlier.

“I want us to be together, Shirley. You don’t seem to understand how important this is to me.” He sighed. “I like you.”

“I don’t like you, sir. I’m sorry. Nothing reasonable can work out between me and you.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Something did before.”

“Sex. One night. And my Mama don die…”

“I’m so sorry about that. Honestly babes, I came back the following week and I had some more money for her.”

“Oh abegi.”

“What’s going to change your mind about me?”

I rolled my eyes. “Nothing.”

“You’re so beautiful, Shirley.”

The accountant, Luke, a potbellied forty-plus man walked down the corridor and nearly pushed Aaron out of the way.

“Shirley, wey d petrol report na? Since morning I asked for it?” He looked at Aaron, and at me. “Sorry, sir. I didn’t know it was you.” He raised his voice as he walked off. “Please send it, biko. These people are criminals.”

“I have work to do.”

“Dinner. Tonight. Please.”

“I work at my sister’s…I’m not free tonight. And I am in a relationship.”

“Shirley…”

“I may have been your one-night stand but I don’t do two men at the same time.” I choked on my own words. “Please excuse me. Leave me, please.”

He took a step back like he had been hit. It gave me the opportunity to shut my door, and I did. This guy just rubbed me the wrong way, and I didn’t know what else to do now. I needed to seek advice, or I’d have to resign. He was just a part of my life I couldn’t bear to face.

O Lord, haven’t you forgiven me? Why is Aaron Ezekiel back in my life? I’m sorry. I’m sorry, God. I never should have done this. I know it was in rebellion to you. I did it to spite you for not healing my mother, despite her deep faith in you. I am sorry, God.

I got on my computer but instead of working on the petrol report, I opened Google. It was time to search for a new job.

  • continues tomorrow…

Picture credit: https://pixabay.com/en/rose-flower-nature-floral-romance-402093/

 

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