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The petite lady standing before me looked oddly familiar and when she stretched her hand for a handshake, I knew it was a bad idea coming with father. Funke Dayo.
‘Funke Dayo’ she introduced in her kind small voice. I braved a smile and returned the handshake before taking the extended hand of her rather large colleague.
“Miss Funke is good at her job and I am glad Roberts allows her to do the designs” father was loud and full of praises as usual. I simply nodded and kept a bland expression. The entire conversation and presentation passed over my head noticing the woman she had become. The sophisticated architect held the men’s attention and they listened to her presentation with so much raptness right before breaking into applause. She was good. I cowered in shame. Without as much of a side glance, she shook the team after the presentation, made small jokes with my father before heading out of the meeting room. The last I saw of her were her heels as she walked out confidently with her rather large colleague making comments that had her throwing her head back in a loud laugh. The sound I only knew too well.
The day passed slowly and I walked around my office like a caged animal after the meeting. Why did I ever follow my father for his presentation? The old man wouldn’t let me be! Three months to my wedding and I see her. This was definitely temptation. I had to stay away from her. I had too.
The day passed quickly. The constant smiles and jokes U.D threw at me got me off the bad energy right after the meeting. Emeka was the past. I left him there years ago and he wasn’t going to feature in the present. The prep talk got me relaxed and totally in control of my emotions.
“So dinner after work?” it was U.D inviting me for dinner after work at 6:45pm.
“Dinner after work is off limits for Staff” I said with a wink as I entered my car and drove home stopping to pick berries and ice cream at SPAR. Just then Bisi called.
“Hey Babe!” I greeted sounding excited quite sure she was at home.
“Sweety!” she shouted over the lines.
“Are you home?” I asked hoping she was.
“Home ke? My darling is taking me to China with him on a business trip. There is this deal wey him talk say he dey make with those China people to come and build railway wey dey work with electricity” she said in pidgin.
“Haba Babe! Remember us in Chinco o” I called playfully and paid the tight-faced lady at the pay-point.
“Before. I miss you but we are leaving Lagos tomorrow. I go send you pictures” she squealed and spoke to someone at the background.
“You no well. Na picture I go chop? Abeg find me correct pumps and bags when you dey come” I said to which she laughed and promised.
“Bye dear” she said in high-girl voice before ending the call. The drive home was slow with traffic scattered at various junction. Dropped my bag on the glass center piece and headed to blend my berries and ice cream. Poured in a ceramic bowl and placed in the refrigerator, I went upstairs for a warm bath.
Just as I came downstairs and settled in for a nice scoop, the knock on the door had me dropping my bowl in annoyance. The nosy neighbor was here again. I yanked the door opened in annoyance.
It was Emeka. I froze.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I shrieked and slammed the door in his face more out of fear before running up to my room and flinging myself on my bed. I broke out; shaking in hateful painful sobs. I cried myself to sleep after resolving never to lose it again. He was my past and it was over.
The fear in her eyes and the slam in my face told me all I needed. She still hated me and I hated myself the more as I stood unsure on what to do next. Commonsense told me to leave her alone. Let sleeping dogs lie instead I had Obinna find out where she lived. I had to see her. The old gateman came to stand in front of me with questioning eyes. I found my way out after handing him few thousands of notes. He smiled in appreciation and quickly pocketed the money before escorting me out.
“Thank you sir, well done sir, anytime sir” he greeted bowing. I waved as I entered my car and drove off.
I hated the quiet house as I dressed slowly, depressed and afraid of the future. I thought of the days of innocence and trust; the days I wore my heart on my sleeves and believed that love existed. It has been 3 days since Emeka showed up at my door step. U.D on the other hand has been fun. The laughs, stolen kisses and night visits helped push the episode behind. He was taking my time, my space and my mind. It has been a long time I let myself feel so free with someone else and I feared it just might end up bad. Moreover, he seemed not to be interested in what I thought he wanted. The look on his face when I initiated a quick rump in the living room last night had me smiling as I drove to work. He froze and quickly dropped me from his firm laps as if he was stung.
“Time to go” and he was gone in less than a minute. I was going to try again.
Armed with a mug of warm creamy coffee, the drive was slow and in few minutes was at the office. The security guard smiled at me and I waved before taking the elevator to the 5th floor. Logged in at the reception and proceeded to my office down right.
I turned just in time to see U.D behind me.
“Hey” he said holding out a wrapped gift and a big smile. I nodded and waved while I entered the already cleaned office.
“Good morning” I managed a smile as he came around with the gift.
“What is this?” I asked with suspicion.
“Well, open it” he said with boyish excitement as he closed the door.
“Okay” I smiled and opened it slowly. His eyes shone and it looked like he couldn’t wait to have me open it.
“What is this?” I asked in a laugh as a warm cake perfectly baked to a sandy brown color revealed itself in a transparent case.
“Your breakfast” he said throwing up his hands in the air right before placing a cold peck on my lips.
“Hey! You have got to stop doing that” I tried a frown and found myself laughing.
“I can’t help it” he said trying to drop another. I ducked and went to sit behind my desk.
“You had your chance last night” I reminded him but he looked away.
“Need help?” I asked coming around with my coffee to stand behind him. He was redesigning an Estate.
“Where is my own?” he frowned.
“Your own what?” I feigned confusion.
“My own coffee”
“I brought the cake” he said throwing up his hands in playful exasperation.
He shook his head.
“Let’s go make U.D some coffee” he said tugging at my blouse.
“Hey! Don’t remove my perfect tuck-in” I laughed and followed him to the kitchen. In few minutes, the office was in full operation and we hardly had time to eat lunch.
“So much work here” he stretched at 4:00pm.
“Yes” I answered as I emailed my lunch to Uche to order.
“I want to go home” he said leaving his seat.
“You have got piles of work. I just ordered late lunch. What do you want?” I asked totally relaxed.
“Whatever you are having” he said as he made to use my restroom.
“I can’t wait for you to get your office” I said in a laugh as he closed the door behind him. I made a mental note to get sanitizer. A knock at the door.
“Uche, you had it ordered already?” I opened the door to Emeka. I was tempted to lose my nerve but I bit my lips. This was not the place.
“What do you want?” I asked under my breath allowing him to enter my office. I didn’t need peering eyes.
“I want to talk to you” he stated calmly.
“About what?” I asked under my voice. U.D would be out any minute.
“About us” he said eyes threatening me to make a scene. I swallowed painfully.
“Nkoyo. 8pm” I said and walked to open the door for him to leave. He obliged me and walked out. I closed the door behind him and as if on cue U.D opened the toilet door.
“Someone was here?” he asked looking at me with concern. I must have looked shaken.
“Yes, it was Chief’s son. He came to add some thoughts, progress report?” I said brightly. A tap on the door saved me. It was Uche’s food man.
“Thank you” I said as I collected it and went to get my purse. U.D stepped in and handed him an excess of a couple of thousands. The boy’s eyes widen in smiles.
“At this rate, you are going to be broke before your first salary” I played dropping the pack on my desk.
“I came to be with you” he said as he passed by and dropped his bulk on my seat. I smiled and pulled his chair to sit.
“So what did you get?” he asked as I struck his hand that was opening the pack.
“I got two plates of Afang and wheat. The wheat is for you” I said taking out my steaming bowl and walked to stand at the glass window to lick my hot bowl of stocked soup. He followed me.
“Why are you following me?” I laughed.
“I don’t eat alone” he stated quite frankly.
“Oh?” I raised a brow.
“Yes. Oh” and with that he took my spoon and scooped my soup.
“I am so going to tell Roberts to get you your office next” I said painfully. Almost comical but annoying.
“You might have a little problem there” he said going over to bring his food to stand with me. I stopped him with a wave of hand and went back to join him.
“And why is that?” I asked sitting back.
“Because he knows why I am here” he said with a smirk before opening his bowl.
“Yummy” he said rubbing his hands and taking up his cutlery.
I smiled. I was partly excited and also afraid. It was going to be hard getting U.D to understand that nothing was going to happen between us. Sex yes, others no.
“So tomorrow night is the welcome party yes?” he asked taking a ball of wheat.
“Yes” I answered chewing on some sweet fish. It was Friday and I had movies lined up for my long soak but the thought of meeting Emeka in few hours turned the food to ash in my mouth. My stomach tightened and I lost my appetite. The rest of the chatter passed over my head and left U.D at the office promising to be back. It was now or never.
8:05pm had me entering Nkoyo and looking around for him. He was seated at the far end of the room and stood up immediately he saw me. My face was a mask of my real emotions and I played it cool.
“Good evening” I said coldly taking a seat. My eyes trained to stare but not see.
“How are you Funke” he called in his calm voice. The very same that had me hung up on him like drug.
“I am well Emeka” I called. I gave my order to the smart waiter and he left.
He stared at me for long and shook his head.
“You have grown so beautiful and confident” he was testing the waters.
“Why are we here?” I cut him short nodding to the waiter as he dropped my order and left.
“To catch up. To ask what happened to you, my baby” he had dropped the bombshell as the drink hit the back of my throat and I swallowed painfully.
“I don’t know what you are talking about” I looked at him eyes glued to his.
“You were pregnant for me” he pronounced each word clearly. I fixed my stare.
“I was” I answered and took another sip to ease the pain after the painful swallow.
“I am really sorry I was selfish back then. I would never have made that decision now” he placed his hands on mine.
“Don’t touch me” I said with a cold irritated tone.
“I really am sorry” he said dropping his hands by his side.
“Sorry for what? Breaking my hymen? Getting me pregnant because I was stupid? Telling me I was on my own when I was barely a child myself? Or almost killing me and leaving me for dead when you tried aborting my baby after drugging me?” I was fuming now. The pain was fresh and I couldn’t hold back. My eyes watering. He looked pained and adjusted his tie looking everywhere except me.
“Emeka, you are my past. There is no going back now. I was pregnant for you. You got rid of it. Please stay away from me and have a good life” I said placing notes in the menu for my drink before marching out with aching ovaries and watery eyes.
I drove home knowing that this was just the beginning.