COURTING BAIDA IV

I stared at her figure as she walked out. I considered following her in my car but decided against it. She called a cab? Who does that? Baida obviously. I smiled. The peck felt like a goodbye. She didn’t know me. This was just the beginning. What I want, I get.
There was just one thing left.
Wande.
I had to stamp out the idea of ‘US’ out of her head like a Rhinoceros stamps out fire. Mother was another force I had to contend with. Where did she ever get the idea that we were best suited?
I mouthed a silent prayer for patience as I walked up the deck.
She holding a glass of chardonnay with Yomi, she fixed me a dead look as I climbed up.
‘Thank God you got that……….’
‘Don’t you dare call her names’ I stopped her before she vomited her bile.
‘Why do you do this to me eh? Why do you make me cry for you Leke? Why hurt me?’ she feigned tears that were afraid of falling from her eyes because they knew the ordeal her tear glands went through to produce enough moisture to wet her eyes. Moreover, they knew what they were; fake and I was going to recognize them for what they were-blackmailing tears. They spared themselves the embarrassment and refused to fall.
‘I will tell you this one last time. I am not going to get married to you. Mother will not force me to marry you. Get used to the idea’
‘You will marry me. You have no choice. Mother says so. Everyone has gotten used to that idea. I guess you will come around soon’ she taunted and took a sip eyeing me. Yomi looked on as if he wasn’t there.
I gave a smile and walked out. I had lost my temper once and slapped her. The following months, I did everything to make it up to her. She was baiting. I wasn’t going to bite.
The aimless drive around the city had thoughts running through my head. The Cubana was filled but I found my way to my favorite spot. I barely touched the first glass before her set face as she walked out of the house came back for the umpteenth time. It gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and I found myself driving to her house finally giving in to my initial reaction of following her.
I was totally pissed when I found a car I knew too well to be Damian’s parked infront of her house. Killing my engine, I jumped out of my car and pressed the bell. Impatiently, I rang again. The lights came on and I pressed again.
She came out with surprise framing her face before replacing it with a smile as she approached in a white short night T-shirt that stopped mid thighs.
‘What are you doing here this late?’ she asked coming to stand closed to the low fence.
‘It is 10 pm. It is not late’ I stated with a piercing look.
‘It is late for me’ she tried to joke.
‘What is he doing here?’ I couldn’t hold the jealousy any longer.
‘He came to make dinner’ she said beaming with smiles.
‘Is it not late for dinner?’ I asked.
‘No’ she said through the laughter.
‘I am hungry’ I looked at her intensely.
‘Go eat at home Leke’ she said shaking her head with a chuckle I knew too well didn’t go below where it started from. Let your hair down already, I wanted to say.
‘Open the gate Baida’ she shook her head.
I was left with no choice. I took a swift leap and I landed in her front.
She started laughing so hard I joined in too.
‘You didn’t have to’ she laughed walking into her house.
‘I knew you were not going to open the gate’ I said I as I followed her in.
‘I was going to’
‘Would have taken forever’ I replied entering after her.
‘So where is the party?’ I asked scanning around for a glimpse of the enemy.
‘There is no one’ she said going upstairs.
‘You said he was preparing dinner’ I reminded her.
‘Was joking. I went to Damian’s after work and drove his car home. I will return it tomorrow or he will come pick it in the morning. My car should resume tomorrow’ she said with a small yawn.
‘You didn’t carry mine’ I noted. I wanted to go warn off this so called Damian.
‘That’s because I didn’t want it. I have driven it before remember?’ she said playfully and headed up stairs.
I followed her upstairs.
‘What do you want Leke?’ she asked finally as we stood on the landing.
‘I want you’ I stated. I wanted to add ‘like no other’ but that would have completed the cliché.
‘I am not sure I want you. Or any man at the moment. Go sort your Mommy-Bride issue’ she waved.
‘Why are so pissed?’ I asked thickly and quietly.
‘Because all you men what is the milk and not the cow!!!’ she exploded and I found myself waiting for the annoyance that comes when Wande raises her voice.
None.
I waited.
It didn’t come.
Then it hit me.
‘How would you know she is the one?’ it was Taiye, my childhood friend.
He was getting ready for his wedding to childhood sweetheart Bisi in three months and he was developing cold feet. We were in his apartment in Ikoyi. I was in Lagos for work and we were catching up after the meeting. I thought a while before replying him.
‘When she screams and I don’t get pissed I guess’ I said humorously as we toasted and drank. It was a good night.
Three months later, Taiye left his bride standing at the altar. She was not the one he told me after the episode had blown over.
I looked at Baida and I found myself wanting to explore the new territory.
‘He hurt you real bad, didn’t he?’ I asked quietly.
‘I lost my baby. It was real bad. He got married the day I found out that I was pregnant for him and I….’ she choked on her words and strugged with the tears as she raised her eyes up to stop them from falling down. Forcefully cleaning the tears with the back of her hands, I was afraid she’d peel her skin.
‘I am sorry Baida’ I whispered.
‘Don’t be. I hope Mommy-Bride has not killed anyone just in hopes of getting married to you. I am going to bed. You can leave when you want’ with that she entered a room and locked it.
I stood on the landing for a long while gently calling her name.
Silence
Went down stairs, locked her door and settled in for the night on her long settee.
I wasn’t going to pay for no man’s sins. I was ready to explore the new discovery. What more was I willing to overlook just because I wanted her?
What if Wande did in fact lose our baby? I felt terrible as I closed my eyes. I had work to do.
****
I heard him go down stairs and lock the door. I waited for the sound of his car but didn’t hear any.
He was sleeping in my sitting room downstairs and I soaked my pillow the more.
Why did I have to suffer? I suffered because I wouldn’t let go. The hatred eating at me had to be stopped. I knew what I had to do.
****
The look on her face as she came downstairs to meet me topless preparing breakfast brought the smiles that I had hoped for.
‘You didn’t have to’ her eyes sleepy and her hair out of place.
Finally!
I wanted to carry her back to bed. Make her mine. I redirected my thoughts.
‘I wanted to’ I said pulling out the high stool of her 2seater dining table in the middle of her small white-walled kitchen.
‘Thank you’ she smiled.
I nodded.
‘For staying, for breakfast’ she continued as I poured her a cup.
‘How do you feel?’ I asked as I settled on the other stool and poured myself a cup. The toast I made just for her was slightly burnt.
‘Good actually’ she laughed through her nose-like a snort and I smiled.
‘Too hot! I burnt my tongue’ she said bringing out her tongue then took it back with another snort.
I laughed then. She was covering up the hurt perfectly.
‘So you are going to the office today?’ I asked as she took another brave sip.
‘No’ she answered avoiding my eyes.
‘You on schedule remember?’ I continued.
‘Yes’ she looked at her cup. I didn’t press.
‘Do you want me to help with getting your team briefed?’ I asked
‘That is a nice thought but no. I will go to the office later in the day’ she jumped down from the stool. Her chest bounced seductively and I raised my eyes to hers to avoid staring.
‘Why don’t you get shorter stools?’ I teased and she gave me a tap.
‘Damian is here’ she informed and went to get the door. I wanted to go cover her with my shirt.
What is my deal anyway? I asked myself as I waited.
‘Hello’ he said on entering the kitchen.
‘How do you do?’ I asked cheerily. I couldn’t believe myself.
‘I am good. My name is Damian’ he offered a hand shake and I kicked myself mentally for not taking the initiative.
‘Leke’
Awkward silence.
‘Let me get your key’ Baida offered and went upstairs.
‘Are you interested in her for real?’ it was Damian. I looked at him sharply.
‘I want no other woman’ I spoke under my breath.
He nodded. We smiled and shook hands.
He understood territory.
She came down and met me serving him a cup.
‘Breakfast’ he said and she took a moment to take it in before joining us.
‘Yup’ she sat and the light chatter lasted few minutes to 9 am.
‘Alright. Let’s get some work done. It was nice to meet you Leke’ we shook again and he left.
‘So what magic happened?’ she asked as soon as Damian drove off.
‘No magic happened’ I couldn’t help a smirk.
‘Keep telling yourself that. I am going to go get ready’ she smiled finishing her cold cup and cleaning the tea cups.
‘I thought you were not going till later’ I stood in her front.
‘You make good coffee’ she smiled.
‘Learnt from the best’
‘Good for me. So you go smart up then’ she came close and gave a light hug on her small toes. I didn’t press. Her hands closing around my neck.
‘Thank you’ she said.
‘I want to do more’ I couldn’t resist planting a peck on her forehead.
She gave a sad smile.
****
The drive to the office took forever. The traffic that had built up allowed me just in time for the 12pm briefing in the meeting room. Everyone was present and I walked in with Leke. He was waiting for me down at the parking lot.
‘Good morning’ I greeted as I settled in. Leke took a seat beside me in his rolled up sleeves and totally brushed hair. He looked good too and I noticed Ann checking him out. Ann was a staff. Dan looked on quietly.
‘Alright people. This is Leke…..’ I stopped. I looked at him and he smiled.
‘I am Leke’ he helped. I smiled.
‘He will be the Art Director for this project. This is his idea and I think we are going to love it. Please go through the plan and schedule. Let’s getting thinking’ I signaled Deji to distribute the files I had sent to his mail last night after leaving Damian’s place.
The session was an interesting one and got everyone excited.
After 5 hours and a late lunch, the work breakdown left the team of eight with responisibilities and time line for delivery.
Meeting adjoined at 7pm. Everyone was happy except Dan. He didn’t contribute much and looked at Leke throughout the entire session.
‘We need to talk’ I said to him barely audible and he looked up sharply.
‘We need to do that now’ he was already standing up. I smiled and noticed Leke stand up too.
Dan exited the meeting room as Leke came around.
‘What does he want?’ he asked obviously not comfortable with me leaving with Dan.
‘We need to talk’ I told him and gave him a hand squeeze.
‘Promise to call me if you need me’ he said his eyes searching mine.
‘I will’ he touched my cheek lightly raising his eyes to look at Dan who was feeding him another bad look. We got the team staring and he dropped his hand.
Wagging tongues for the next few days.
‘Be careful. Be strong’ I nodded and left.
‘Let’s get out of here’ I walked past Dan and matched out of the office.
‘What are we doing at your house?’ he asked suspiciously as he came down from his car. He followed me in his car.
‘I need to show you something’
He followed and we went round the house to the sprouting orange tree planted at the extreme end of the backyard fence.
‘This is where I buried our baby’ I announced out of the blues.
‘What do you mean?’ he asked shocked.
‘I found out I was pregnant the day you got married Dan. I got the news and was headed to your house to tell you the good news but Daso was there. He told me I was the bravest woman. The woman with the largest heart he commended. He told me you were getting married to your village sweetheart!!!’ I said in bitterness. My chest heaving. My eyes producing the tears I hated so much.
‘You never said anything. A baby?’ he was rooted to the spot.
‘Yes a baby. I waited to get the word to you after your honeymoon but she made the decision for me. She thought I was going to get rid of her like I did the rest. I had a miscarriage but I wanted her!’ I was crying now.
‘I had no idea Baida’ he looked pained but not as much as I would have liked.
‘You left me!!! Why Dan? What did I do so wrong? You had me abort my babies for the right time. You hated condoms so I suffered’ I wailed openly now. I was so stupid. I couldn’t hold back the tears of pain and frustration that was piled up for three years.
‘You didn’t do anything wrong. I was just afraid of hurting you. I couldn’t tell you and you were so happy with how things were’ he tried to explain without much conviction.
‘Happy? Hurting me? You killed my spirit. You took it all. There she lies’ I pointed at the budding orange tree. The blood on his face drained as he looked from me to the tree.
‘I am so sorry babe’ he was speechless.
‘I was going to keep her. But she left me’ my voice was shaking now as the day I lost my baby came rushing back.
I had a miscarriage on a cold sad night. I felt the warm blood flowing in my sleep. They were the days that followed the news. I couldn’t sleep. I cried all day. I didn’t want to eat and I was broken. Asthmatic attack was so strong that evening and Tope had given me a couple of pills after I had sucked on my inhaler. Fell asleep due to exhaustion. Couple of hours later, I was rushed to the hospital. It was over in less than an hour.
She left me just as she came. I wanted a she.
He stood there.
The tears ran down on my face and the clouds responded with tears of its own. It was dark and I let my tears fall.
‘You are cold’ he said leading me inside.
‘You should go now’ I said suddenly spent. I needed a hot bath and a quiet cuddle. And I didn’t trust myself around him.
‘I want to stay’ he insisted.
‘I’d rather you take your leave now’ I was firm.
‘Please forgive me Baida. I had no idea.’ he said looking into my eyes.
‘We can’t work together anymore’ I whispered with silence tears escaping from the corners of my eyes.
The end had come for us. There was no use holding on to the reins of a horse that was long gone.
‘Come on Baida’ he knew the implication of that.
‘I am sorry Dan but my mind is made up. Come the end of the project, I’m walking. Please see yourself out’ I looked at him sadly and planted a cold peck on the lips.
I had 80 percent shares of the company. I gave a deep smile as I walked up to my room. I was pulling out the plug and it felt so good.
I heard the door close and saw him drive off.
The days that follow should be interesting I thought as I went for a soak with Adele playing behind.
****

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