Aina had only met the young man seated beside her only few minutes during Olaronke’s hasty introduction to her husband and his friends. Since then, his eyes followed her across the room. There was that Scorpio tatoo on her hand that enthralled him. He could not take his eyes of her. He was arrogant and shamelessly rude, he stared at first one part of her body and then another till she obliged him by dropping her purse on the floor and bending over to pick it up so he could see right down the front of her low-cut printed dress to her boobs and probably ss far as her under wear. She tried to remember his name but came up blank. He made a hand gesture inviting her to seat with him. His other friends had moved to the bar, it was just him and Wande in the restaurant. She started to walk towards him, her hips swaying seductively while he watched captivated. She sat down listening to his boring conversation, when would he got to the point of inviting her to his room? Or they could use a bathroom. Her mind began to wander, she began to imagined Wande with her friend in bed together. No, doubt he would be pleased with her because she was innocent and she was sure her friend would recount every one of it. She would made sure that her wedding night would only be in her dreams. Her friend had embraced celibacy with open arms and it was completely beyond her understanding. She kept an eagle eye for signs that Olaronke was about to wither as a result of such deprivation. She could not imagined living her life without that pleasure and she would made sure Adunni regret ever interfering in her life.
She saw Wande looked around obviously searching for his wife. He acted like he didn’t received the letter, if she had not gotten a feedback from his secretary she would have thought so too. Had he asked his wife about it or was he just pretending? What sort of a man was he? She wished she knew what was going on in his head. Maybe he was putting on an act for today. She could avert their night together. She could tell Adunni she was sick, and she would stay with her all night. That was a good plan. She stood up to leave when her partner drew her back on his laps. She had completely forgotten about him.
“You look good” he whispered
“I thought you didn’t notice” she teased him, her ring finger wrapping around his. They spoke in low tunes, and planned their quick romp in the nearest bathroom.
Olaronke skimmed through the empty restaurant for her husband. Her discussion with her father had dragged too long. She had to pretend she received a call from her husband, that was her exit. Where was he? Had he gone to the hotel without her? He would not. She met with her staffs they quickly went over the details of the restaurant opening and the sales they made. Satisfied with the report, she bid them good night and locked the restaurant. Most diners had either gone home or moved to the bar in the hall since the restaurant closed by 11pm. She searched for her husband in the crowded bar, none of the faces she saw was familiar. Where was Aina? Why had everyone deserted her? She brought out her phone and dialed Aina’s number. She heard her ringtone, something she didn’t change for years. It was Gangnam style. She followed the sound the sound to the ladies bathroom. Without knocking, she pushed the door forcefully almost knocking its occupants down. She saw Aina with one of her husband’s friend. Their appearance was dishevelled. Her friend was facing the mirror arranging her hair and ignoring Olaronke. Kunle had the decency to walked out. Olaronke shut the door behind her.
“How many more will you sleep with? Tell me” Olaronke said while Aina kept quiet still facing the room
“How could you do this? You only met him today. What impression are you trying to create? What do you want my husband to think of me?” She was fed up seeing her friend like this. Aina had a good character but her perchant for sleeping around was annoying. Wande’s friends would thought she was promiscuous just like Aina. Her husband was already questioning her friend’s character and if he heard this, what would he think of her.
“I am sorry” Aina said moving to the door
“Wait, I have not arranged a room for you at the hotel. We will have to go there together” Olaronke replied
“Do not worry, I am sleeping with him” Aina waited for the rebuke she was sure would come. But there was silence, she turned to see her friend staring at her ring finger.
“How could you disrespect Stevie this way?” Olaronke asked and left her in the ladies. Aina came out seconds later and bade her good night.
She called her husband’s number, it rang several times with no reply. She called her brother. He answered on the first ring.
“Where are you?” She asked him
“The hotel” he replied yawning
“I can’t find Wande” she informed
He sounded wide awake”I thought he has gone home with you”
“No, I am still stuck here in the restaurant. Are you sure he is not in the hotel room?” She questioned
“I saw his car leave and I called him. He said he has gone home and I assumed he was with you” he rasped out.
Olaronke thought over that. That was strange, why would he leave her all by herself in the hotel.
“Ronke, are you sure you didn’t quarrel with him. He was angry today” her brother said.
Her Wande had been charming and attentive all day. She had even told him what she expected tonight. What could be wrong? She had a feeling something bad was about to happen. Why was her every joy tainted with sorrow? She calmed herself down. There was no use in being paranoid. Wande had a bad day at the office, it has to be that. Maybe Grace came to his office again. He told her about Grace’s last visit. She came with her aunt who spoke to Wande at length and begged him to forgive Grace so they could continued with their relationship. She even hinted he could marry her as his second wife. Olaronke was scared after her husband told her but she masked her feelings and planned to dealt with Grace just like she did to Bonuade. But this time not with a kid glove. Had she really dealt with Bonuade or was it the other way round? Why does she have to fight for everything she has?
“I don’t know” she replied her brother
“Wait for me outside the hotel in the next five minutes I will join you” Bolarinwa said
They got home in no time with the roads free of traffic. Wande opened the gate for them. She had been calling him since they left the hotel. She made sure her brother was settled in before she went in search of her husband. He was in bed and appeared to have slept off. She had her shower in a hurry and climbed next to him, snuggling closer. He rolled off to the other side and she knew her fears were right. She woke him up, and he stared at her with blazing anger.
“Don’t you dare touch me again” he warned while she watched him dragged the duvet off her with mouth hanging in the air.
She replayed their conversations at the restaurant, they were happy together. But that had changed within few hours. Was it because she stayed late discussing with her father while her husband was waiting for her. She tried again
“I’m sorry I took long with my dad” she apologized
“That was expected. You have to spend time with him. He’s your special adviser” he retorted
She had been right after all. He was angry over the time she spent with her father. That was ridiculous, he was a smart guy and shouldn’t have reacted in that way.
“Well my father is my friend who hold my secrets and stood by me. He’s a good father” she defended
Unknown to her, every of her words nailed her coffin. She was affirming her father stood by her while she committed atrocities like wanting to dupe him with another man’s child and aborting her baby. He couldn’t even looked at her. And she sounded non challant about it. When did Mr Olaonipekun became a useless father? He could remember how firm he was with his discipline. Like him, Olaronke was a special child for a long time. She was the only daughter for many years and her father spoiled her rotten.
Olaronke made another move to touch him
“Adunni, if you don’t get those filthy hands of me I won’t be responsible for what happens next”
A dread silence followed his threat for several seconds before his wife gasped out “I can’t believe you can be this unreasonable. What have I done that’s a big deal?
You know what, you can keep your wretched body to yourself” with a loud hiss, she dragged the duvet from him and bolted out of his room.
“Good, you are not welcome to share by bed” he shouted after her
“So be it” she retorted.
A month later,
She was extremely relieved when Wande announced he was making a trip to Ibadan for his business. She was tired of putting up with his silent treatment. After their fight, she thought he would be back to his senses, but she was wrong. He became worse each day, ignoring her greetings, not eating and his room was locked at her.
She tried approaching him and even insisted they needed to talk. But he refused, snapping at her every words. She couldn’t wrapped her head around his reactions towards something as flimsy as keeping him waiting because she was talking to her father.
He left the house at 5:30 every morning and arrived home dead on his feet every evening rarely before 11. At first, she waited up for him and sometimes dozing off on the settee. The man she waited up for would stroll in without waking her up and the next morning she woke up usually with a neck pain and a heavy head. Aina had been very sad when she explained everything to her. She requested for Wande’s phone number and promised to call him on her behalf. That had changed nothing. Wande was still moping around the house like a child. So Olaronke followed her friend’s advice”Ignore him, let him realize what he is missing “
To be honest her advice worked. She found herself converting her sadness into energy and gradually she was becoming a highly successful Restaurateur. Her life had settled into an ordered calm that was really comforting. To exist without a man in her life brought a certain serenity she had never before experienced. Not having to gratify Wande’s whims and whirlwind meant Olaronke could give better attention to the areas of her own life she neglected. She realized she needed to be happy with who she was before others could be happy with her. Her work flourished; she counted her money at the end of each day, it empowered her and she knew what independence really meant.
Aina on the other hand felt she was too young to be having a midlife crisis. Everything had been fine right from the day she could pronounce her name. She felt lucky and had everything she wanted well except men. She felt her luck was running out. She was a lecturer in a private college of agriculture. It was her mentor who helped her to secure the job. Professor Georgina was a friend to her family. The woman had helped her older siblings with their admission into the universities. Now, they were all doing great outside the country. She was the only one of her siblings that was still in Nigeria. Over the years, she became very close to the woman and her family. They had done a lot of great things together and she( professor Georgina) used her to pry informations from her fellow lecturers especially the males. She had enjoyed the game, she still did. It gave her insight into strange and wondrous world. Especially in those few seconds men confessed their deepest secret just because they were in another world. Her fiancé had found out about her life and he was threatening to call off their marriage. He had insisted she quit her job too, well she was sleeping with the Provost and he knew.
It became more complicated when one of his relatives knew about her.
Stevie postponed their engagement ceremony. Now, she was without a job and a complicated relationship. She could not remained at home because of the shame. The following morning, she took a bus to Lagos. Her best friend would have to accommodate her.
Olaronke was shocked to see her friend dragged her bag to the the restaurant. She quickly ushered her into her office.
“What happened? We talked on phone last night and you didn’t say anything?” Olaronke was horrified
Aina broke down into tears, something she never did except she was happy. Life was very simple for Aina. She woke up every morning with the expectation of adventures not comprehending Adduni’s priorities which were food, fashion, affection, work, probably in exactly that order. Although she was still furious with Aina for sleeping with Kunle. They had managed to overlooked it and called each other everyday.
Aina might be stubborn, annoying at times but she was a good listener and a very good friend of hers who stood with her in her lowest moment.
“This is very un-Aina like behavior. What’s wrong?” She said pulling her into an embrace.
“Stevie cancelled our engagement” she cried
“He can’t, he has always love you” Olaronke said
Aina shook her head “No, he said he only took me back because he wanted to revenge. He has done it. He made me quit my job” she lied.
“What! Is he mad?” Olaronke said bringing out her phone from her jean pocket
“I thought he is one good guy. He deserves to be curse”
She dialed his number, it rang and they waited for his voice to come through.
“Oh birds of the same feathers” was Stevie’s first sentence
“Just shut up you little devil. Now I understand why my friend was very reluctant to date you…”
Just like Aina had predicted correctly, Adunni’s anger would prevent any reasonable conversation between her and Stevie who was convinced they (Aina and Olaronke) shared the same character. He would keep talking in parables.
“Rubbish” Olaronke said ending the call
“How could he be so wicked?” She hissed “Aina, just calm down. Let’s sit” he said and gently sat her on a couch.
“What do we do now, Aina” she asked
“I just want to get away from the talks” she sobbed more
“It’s fine. You can stay with me. Thank God we both attended catering classes. You can work with me” Olaronke said
“Thank you” Aina said throwing her arms around her.
Thank you Adunni, Now I don’t have to monitor you with phone calls. I am here to watch every of your step.
…to be continued