Chinedu Achebe on Writing, Real love and on being black

A beautiful Monday it is…and we are glad to finally have Chinedu Achebe here on African Stories. Author of Blunted on Reality now available for Free, He talks about the difference between true love and real love, what being black is all about and his love for writing in his interview with African Stories. In his book, Blunted on Reality, Chinedu uses a style of writing that ‘engages’ his audience and gives insightful political positions surrounding the 2009 Obama’s election. Never one to ignore ‘the love ingredient’ in his book, Chinedu spices up his book with a little love triangle… Get a free copy. Read his interview.

Q. Who is Chinedu Achebe really?
A. Lol. That is a very good question. I am just a very chill, laid back guy that is trying to just enjoy my life.
Q. At what point did you pick up your pen? A clear call or a hobby?
A. I started writing seriously about 5 years ago. I tried to start a blog, but after writing a couple of posts I decided to go in another direction. It wasn’t until after the 2008 presidential election victory of Barack Obama that I decided to write a book.
Q. What is your writing formula? A freestyler or traditionalist?
A. My writing formula consists of a little bit of both. I usually have the main ideas that I want to discuss in the book. But after that I do a lot of free styling from chapter to chapter.
Q. Would you say writing is 98% perspiration and 2% inspiration? What really should be an African writer’s ideal writing mix?
A. I would disagree with that notion. In my case the inspiration is about 40% and perspiration is 60%. In my opinion, you have to have a reason to want to write a book.
Q. In your book “Blunted on Reality”, you made mention of the difference between being an African and a black American, is there really a difference? An ideology perhaps?
A. I feel there is a difference but you have to throw in a person like myself who was born by two Nigerian parents, but was born and raised in the United States into the mix as well. People like myself are in the middle because we can relate to Africans along with black Americans. The differences are usually just cultural, but it is funny that both African and black Americans share some traits as well.
Q. Obama at the time of writing “Blunted on Reality” was a common denominator; do you think that is still the case?
A. I don’t think he would be the common denominator as was the case in 2008 and 2009. But Obama would still help shape my story.
Q. If you were to write “Blunted on Reality” today, what will change?
A. That is a hard question to answer because timing is everything. When I started writing Blunted on Reality in 2011, I was 29 years old. Now I am 32 years old. In those three years I have experienced different things in my personal, family, and professional life that have shaped me.
Q. Your style of writing exudes a distinct trait stemming from black Americananism – “meaning to write as if one were living in the hood”. To what extent do you think environment affects a writer’s style of writing?
A. I feel that environment plays a huge role on your perspective of things. It helps shape are thoughts and views.
Q. Nigeria’s Nollywood singlehandedly redefined movie making and marketing in the region, making it one of the biggest movie industries. What in your opinion should be done about publishing in African countries to attain same success story?
A. Younger African authors need to find their voice and tell the story of their generation. Nollywood does a great job of making movies that appeal to various ages. The movies that I watch aren’t the same as the ones my parents would watch. But we also have to be aware to not confine African authors just to the continent. There are Africans in Europe, Canada, and the United States telling their stories as well.
Q. If there was any reason to reshuffle roots, where would you rather have yours? Any particular reason?
A. I wouldn’t change anything. I have a lot of pride in being a Nigerian of Igbo descent. But I can’t dismiss the influence that being born in the U.S. exposed me to black culture beyond the music and tv, which people outside of this country associate it to. I have been able to learn and understand the history of black people in this country and also see their struggles as my struggles.
Q. Your first read was? Your favorite authors are?
A. I don’t remember the first book that I read. But the book that influenced me was Chinua Achebe’s No Longer At Ease. My favorite authors are Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Adichie, and Michael Eric Dyson.
Q. What are you working on now? Tell us all about it.
A. I am currently working on the sequel to my first book, Blunted on Reality. I hope to have it finished by the end of this year or early 2015. I am really excited about it.
Q. Upcoming African authors you are aware of are?
A. Tope Folarin
Q. Social media and self-publishing – ebooks, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon….the works – has played a great role in the rise of number of writers on the continent; almost as if having a writer’s bio validates existence. Is this a good trend? A ‘dawn-phase’ before publishing in Africa witnesses a rebirth or the classic case of the good old bandwagon ride?
A. I feel that social media plays a huge role in writing now. You have to be on Twitter and Facebook at the minimum. Self-publishing is great because it allows people to write their own stories without waiting for the traditional publishers to anoint your book with their “holy water”. I have met so many authors who are writing amazing stories. It is a great thing for the continent, because Africans can now reach other all of the globe.
Q. Love, Responsibility and Purpose feature in your book. What is your personal take on these? A believer in true love?
A. I think those are three things that most of are searching for in our lives. The hard part is that they all come to us at different phases of our lives. I don’t believe in true love, I do believe in real love. I feel that loving someone is very hard and is something that you have to really work on.
Q. Hobbies, Awards, Humanitarian works?
A. I love watching basketball and American football. I enjoy hanging out with friends and just discussing all types of topics from politics to tv shows.

About Chinedu Achebe.
Chinedu Achebe was born in Richmond VA and currently lives in Houston, Texas. He works as an accountant in the oil and gas industry. He is the oldest of three siblings and graduated from the University of Houston with his bachelor’s in Economics. Blunted on Reality is his first book which was published in 2012. He is @ChineduAchebe on twitter and his book is also available on Amazon

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And that wraps it up guys! Hope you had an exciting read.
Want to know more about African authors right here? Simply comment below stating the names of favorite writers and the questions you want asked and we will make it happen.

Remember,
All Fun and Games by Tomi Adesina will be posted tomorrow.
Love on the 25th by Unen Ameji on Wednesday
Beautiful Strangers by Tomi Adesina on Friday.

Excerpts of new book “Blunted on Reality” by Chinedu Achebe will be posted and yes! his review by Unen Ameji too. (Unen Ameji Submit his review already!!! :D)

A busy week we will have…

Read Stories. Share Love Stories.
Have a lovely day.
Cheers!!!

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Beautiful Stranger. Episode 3

Happy Friday guys!
TGIF!!!
A little somtim-somtim for the weekend. Read, share and lots of rest.
Cheers.
You can read previous episodes here

Episode 3

Toni pushed her weight against the leather seat and focused on the Television. Nora was going to be fast asleep by now. Nora never took long once she hit the sheets. Toni took a deep breath as she reflected on her sister’s words. She had never seen herself as selfish, she had only seen the men in her sister’s life as the wrong men. James was new though and it might seem too quick to judge him, but he already got off on the wrong foot with his admiration for her. This was never going to please Nora.
Nora couldn’t sleep. She didn’t feel right after yelling at Toni. Toni had never been responsible for anything that happened to her but it was just convenient to blame it all on Toni. Toni was happy. She wasn’t. Toni’s happiness came from within, it was so beautiful that it confused everyone around her. Nora knew there was no sleep for her this time. On a good day, once she hit the sheets, she was gone. But today, it isn’t one of those good days. She prayed that the door would open and Toni would come in to apologize as usual so as to make it easier for her, but the door wasn’t going to open. She stared hard at the door and eventually forced it open.
“How long are you going to keep staring at that thing?” Nora asked as she descended the stairs.
Toni grinned as she heard her sister’s voice. She then straightened her head with a frown.
“We both know that you don’t like Fashion Police.” Nora added as she joined Toni in the living room.
“You think it is a waste of time, the clothes have been worn and awards have been…” Nora paused with a smile waiting for Toni to pounce on their mantra.
Toni stared at Nora coldly. “Every girl loves Fashion Police…and I am no exception.”
“Really? Since when did my sister fit into the majority? I mean, that is so not Toni. Did you lose some nuts in your head when you went for your evening walk?” Nora asked.
Toni ignored her.
Nora took a deep breath and drew close to her sister. “I think we should watch football, I know you like to watch it. There should be a match tonight, right?”
Toni ignored her.
“Cristiano has the biggest abs, right?” Nora continued.
Toni sighed. “Quit trying. It just takes five letters. One word. I don’t need the full three words.”
“Sorry.” Nora said with a frown.
Toni smiled. “I can’t hear you.”
Nora nudged her sister. “I am sorry, Toni.”
“I need you to be a little more audible.” Toni said as she stuck her tongue out.
Nora smiled. “I am sorry.”
Toni nodded and hugged her. “The good guys will come. Always remember that.”
“It’s just that I really like James.”
Toni rolled her eyes. “And you really liked Nathaniel too…and what is the name of that other douche-bag?”
“Ude.”
Toni laughed. “Yeah…you liked him too. You liked them all, but eventually, you let them go. The heart will eventually forget unrequited love, Nora. It doesn’t matter how long it takes.”
“Why do I always have to be the one giving out all the love and not getting any?” Nora asked.
Toni shrugged. “Probably you think you have been giving out love…maybe it is lust.”
Nora hissed. “Are you saying that I don’t know the difference between love and lust?”
“There is a thin line between them.” Toni replied. “Anyway, just so I am not a spoiler, I actually think that James might like you, so you can be optimistic about it, but I’d advise you not to get your hopes up.” She added immediately.
Nora sighed. “Just one question…why do guys like you?”
“Isn’t it evident? I am alive.” Toni replied as she rose to her feet.
Nora frowned. “And I am dead?”
“Technically, you are dead…and to think I am the walking corpse.” Toni replied with a smile. “Live life a little, Sis. Let down your hair, play in the sun…maybe the rain, I won’t totally advise the rain because it is not as romantic as the movies make it, but Nora, you are beautiful and you have the right and ability to be happy. Don’t waste it.”
Nora stared at Toni. “You know I don’t like it when you talk like this.”
Toni smiled. “You know better, sis.”
Nora nodded slowly. “We should go to bed now, I am tired of this day, I need a new one.”
“You will always need a new day, Nora. You don’t do anything with the one you have.”
Nora groaned. “Enough! I am tired. Is that better?”
Toni smiled. “Yeah. Let’s go to bed.”
“Where did you go today?” Nora asked as they ascended the stairs.
Toni smiled to herself. “The bar,”
“No way!” Nora replied. “I don’t even believe you.”
Toni grinned. “Okay.”

***
“Really, you want a job at my bar?” Tunji asked as he cleaned a glass.
Jerry hissed. “Don’t flatter yourself, bro. I just need to be here more often, I need to see that girl again. Tell me, what have you gathered about her?”
“Nothing.”
Jerry frowned. “Nothing? How is it possible that no one knows anything about a lady that I like?”
“You like her?” Tunji asked as he arranged some glasses.
Jerry shook his head disapprovingly. “No.”
“I heard you well. No shame in liking a girl, brother.” Tunji replied. “She is a stunner. Can take anyone at first glance.”
Jerry sighed. “I need to see her…again.”
“You have a name?” Tunji asked.
He nodded. “Yeah…very helpful name. Stranger.”
Tunji laughed. “Bro, you just got zoned.”
“Zoned?”
Tunji nodded. “The friend zone. Never a friendly zone to be in, when…no, if you get out, you are a Legend.”
Jerry turned his face away.
“So, how come you have run away from the Hospital to get a job by the Bar? Very interesting change of job if you ask me.” Tunji started as he stared at Jerry with keen interest.
Jerry nodded. “That is why I am not asking you.”
“So, why don’t you like anyone knowing where you work? Being a Doctor is a very honourable profession, My Dad would have killed to see me hang a stethoscope around my neck.” Tunji replied.
Jerry grinned. “You can have my life. I certainly don’t want it.”
Tunji gaped. “Seriously? You don’t like it?”
“It is overrated.”
Tunji shrugged. “Says the Doctor…From where I am standing, you are living the life. Handsome wages, only that this is your life.” He said, staring at the liquor bottles. “Find a girl. Settle down. Stop drinking.”
“You will be out of business.” Jerry replied. “It is strange to find a barman tell his customer to quit. What is wrong with you?” he asked, laughing.
Tunji smiled. “That’s the first and last time I will tell you about it, I might not be interested in dissuading you tomorrow.”
Jerry nodded. “I like it here and now. Don’t bother trying again.”
“So…about your mystery girl, any plans to find her?”
Jerry scratched his hair lightly. “I don’t have any plans, but I will visit all the points at which I have met her until I find her.”
“This is the only meeting point.” Tunji said laughing.
Jerry smiled as he got up. “No. I have another spot.”
“And I guess you are going there?” Tunji asked.
Jerry shrugged with a smile. “It’s all the gold I have got.”
“All the best, bro.”
Jerry nodded and walked out of the bar and down the road. He took his seat at the spot where he had met ‘Stranger’. He stared at his wristwatch tensely as he hoped that she might just walk past.
Three long hours had passed and she was nowhere in sight. It was 9pm and she didn’t seem to him like the type who might stray at that hour. He tucked his hand in his jacket and walked away.

***
“Toni, are you sure about this?” Nora asked as she applied her lip gloss.
Toni smiled. “The night is still young.”
“I know, but then, Viber? I don’t like that club.” Nora replied.
Toni nodded. “I know, you met all the boys you have loved there, but then we have never seen James at Viber, so maybe this is a good sign…the dude won’t be there, you are in luck for the right man, finally.”
Nora sighed. “Toni, you don’t like the place either, why are you making us go there?”
“Nora, we don’t necessarily have to go to Viber, I just want you to go out. Shake up a little.” Toni said as she wore her wig. “By the way, I don’t like this wig, get me a new one, else, I’ll be rocking Amber style soon.”
Nora stared at her. “I think you are perfect with the wigs.”
“Let’s face the reality.” Toni replied.
Nora drank some water. “So…it’s been six months here, do you like it at all?”
“Do I like it? Nora, I don’t do anything…except but wait for the day I get another appointment.” Toni replied. “So, I love it.”
Nora nodded. “That’s good.”
“So. Nora, tell me, do you think you will get a second date with James, or should I hook you up?”
Nora scoffed. “Hook me up? I sure can take care of me, baby sis.”
“Yeah…right.” Toni replied as she slipped into her shoes. “Let’s go, baby.”
Nora nodded and picked up her phone. Her phone buzzed and James popped up as the Caller ID. “James is calling, what do I do?” she asked.
Toni grinned. “I thought you could take care of you.”
“Come on, Toni. Just help me, would you?”
Toni stared at her with a smile. “Ignore it.”
“Ignore what? This dude will never call me again in his life. He already thinks he is a Diva.” Nora replied.
Toni shrugged. “Then why did you ask for my help?”
Nora stared at the screen. “Missed call. Are you happy now?”
“Yeah. Let’s go party.” Toni replied.
“Remember you can’t be out too long, we would be back as soon as possible.” Nora started.
Toni stared at the clock. “It is 9pm and we are just heading out, how soon would we return, Nora dear?” she asked, cynically.
Nora’s phone rang for a second time and she stared helplessly at Toni who rolled her eyes in disgust. “I have to take this, Toni.”
“Make yourself happy.” Toni replied and sank into the bed as she started to take off her shoes.
Nora walked away from her sister as she took the call. Toni watched her with a grimace as Nora blushed into the phone. Toni slowly started to take off her clothes. She knew better than to think she and her sister still had a date.
Nora returned to her with so much hope in her eyes.
“Don’t bother telling me, go and meet him.” Toni said as she changed into trousers.
Nora took her seat beside her. “It is just that James said he booked us two tickets to see this new movie.”
“Movie?” Toni asked as she raised her eyebrow. “Can’t we go together?”
Nora’s face sank. “Toni…”
Toni smiled. “Of course, you know I was kidding.”
“Can I go dressed like this?” Nora asked.
Toni stared at her. “I think you are slightly overdressed for the movies.”
“So maybe I can wear that lemon top you got me last summer?” Nora asked as she hurried to the wardrobe. She was already pulling out the lemon top before waiting for any response from her sister.
Toni smiled as she watched her sister agitate. Nora was in love. The boys loved Toni effortlessly, she just didn’t find herself loving anyone. She didn’t bother to love anyone and her heart seemingly did cooperate with her and didn’t fall for anyone too. Talk about cooperation!
Nora turned to her. “Toni, I don’t think you should go anywhere tonight.”
“So you can have fun and I can’t?” Toni asked as she picked up her phone.
Nora sighed. “You know we don’t have any friends here and the time is quite unholy.”
“And I suppose you are going out on another time datum? Say, American time?” Toni asked with a smile.
Nora frowned. “James is coming to get me. I am safe.”
“Trust no man.” Toni cooed as she sprawled on the bed. “Don’t worry about me, I will go to bed.”
Nora nodded with a smile and pecked her sister. “I love you, darling.”
“You love James more.” Toni replied.
Nora rolled her eyes. “Don’t keep me here, I need to meet him downstairs.” She said, staring at her phone.
“Na wa o! He must have parked his car outside the house when he called.” Toni replied as she drew the blanket over her.
Nora smiled. “Do I look good?”
“You are beautiful, Nora. Always know that.”
Nora nodded, blew her sister a kiss and hurried out.

***
“You look beautiful.” James whispered to Nora.
Nora turned to him with a smile. “Thank you.”
He nodded. “So…how is Toni?”
“Toni is good.”
James nodded. “She didn’t want to come to the movies with us?”
“She was too tired.” Nora replied as she focused on the movie. “We should focus on the movie, you know.”
James nodded as he faced the screen. “I think your sister is really so much fun, she should rub off some happiness on you.”
“Really?” Nora asked as she nudged him. “Am I that boring?”
He nodded with a smile. “And stoic too…”
“Come on, James.”
He grinned as he focused on the screen. “What is the most spontaneous thing you have ever done?”
“I have been to Viber.”
James gaped as he stared at Nora. “Viber? You?”
Nora nodded confidently. “Yeah.”
“I can bet on anything that Toni took you there.” He said.
She smiled. “I can do some wild things too.”
“Are you trying to impress me?” James asked.
She scoffed. “Impress? I don’t need to…I am impressive.”
James smiled. “That sounds like a line Toni would use.”
Nora sighed heavily.
James wrapped his hand around Nora and drew her closer. “I think you are beautiful as you are and you really don’t need to bring a Toni swag to impress anyone.”
Nora pulled herself away from him. “You think I was not being me?”
He nodded. “That was Toni.”
“You don’t even know Toni.” She replied.
He shrugged. “Maybe not as well as you do know her, but, I have spent some minutes with her to guess how she talks and I see you every day at work to know how well you talk.”
“You notice me?”
He smiled. “From Day One that you stepped into our office.”
The man sitting beside James cleared his throat. “I am trying to see a movie.” He grunted.
James chuckled as he stared at Nora. “Do you want to go to someplace quiet?”
She nodded.
James took her hand and led her outside. Their exit was greeted with howls and throwing of popcorns at them.
Nora laughed as they stepped outside. “I thought that only happened in movies.”
“That was the movies.” James replied as he picked popcorns out of her hair.
She smiled as though her face was going to crack. It was just her and James and it seemed like something real was happening.
“Come on, let’s go.” James said as he walked ahead. “We would walk till we can walk no more.”
Nora smiled. “Now that is a real movie line.”
He nodded. “I am glad you know that. So, tell me Nora, you just joined us say, six months ago and rumour has it that you might be leaving us soon. I am not surprised because you have a lot of money from your house and car, but, why so soon?”
“And I am guessing that Ehis is the one that started the rumour?” Nora asked.
He nodded. “The whole office is thinking you are leaving soon.”
“Do you think I am?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I am asking you right now, are you?”
“I…I don’t think so. It all depends on Toni.” She replied.
James stared at her. “Toni? How does she come to play in all this?”
Nora rubbed her forehead. “Toni…Toni is a bit of a traveller. We spend our inheritance travelling round the world…and touching lives too.”
“A lot of money your parents must have left for you guys.” James said as they walked.
Nora shrugged.
“So, you must be the serious sister who can’t do without a job that you decided to get a job to keep yourself busy…hmmm…and to think the guys at work don’t know how loaded you are…I should start blowing your trumpet.”
“And risk my house being burgled?” Nora asked.
He shrugged. “With the kind of security you have, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
She smiled. “Interesting observation.”
“I take notice of everything…every little thing.” He replied.
She raised an eyebrow. “Security isn’t tiny detail, you know?”
“I know…but really, I think you should get your sister to work, staying in all day can be really depressing.”
Nora shrugged. “Toni doesn’t mind, besides, nothing brings her down.”
“You think so?” He asked.
She nodded, “I know so.”

***
Toni stared at herself in the mirror and let the tears stream down her eyes. She didn’t have the right or reason to dream…to expect….to want. She just lived. Sometimes, she hoped. Other times, she prayed.
She took off the wig slowly. Her hair had started to grow again, she smiled as she touched the roots. She took a deep breath as she thought about the call that she had been expecting for six months in a corner of her heart. In the other part of her mind, she didn’t want to receive the call. She just wanted to live.
She pulled out her ‘sober coin’ from the drawer as tossed it on the table. It had been almost five years since she last touched a bottle. Moments like this took her back to her life before the bad news came. She was the official party rocker. Booze…Late nights, she lived what her friends would have termed the life.
She however realised that what others called the life was nothing close to what a real life was. Every day that passed only drew her closer to a day she wasn’t sure she really wanted to see.
Staring at the mirror was always a moment for her to reflect. She wondered if one day she would actually wake up and realize that the last five years in her life had never happened and that the days that she lived now might just be struck by a miracle. She hoped and prayed that it might happen. She had been told several times that God does answer prayers, she believes in God. She knows that he does answer prayers and that her last five years on earth was proof that God did answer prayers.
She took a deep breath and lay on the bed. She would try to sleep.

***
Jerry turned off the alarm as it buzzed violently. “I don’t have to obey you for the next two weeks.” He shouted as he drew the blanket over himself. He had forgotten to change the timer from 1am, he usually had his morning shifts as early as four in the morning.
No sooner had he settled in the second round of his sleep that his phone buzzed him back to live. “I should have turned off the vibration.” He said as he drew the phone to himself. “Tunji? Why is he calling me?” He said to himself as he picked the call. “What’s up, man?”
“Guy! I think I just saw your girl.”
Jerry stared at the clock. “Dude? Have you been drinking?”
“No. She has been drinking.” Tunji replied.

****

Beatiful Stranger is written by @tomi_adesina; Author of Dear Future Husbandavailable for Free on African Stories. Follow @tomi_adesina on twitter for more thrilling stories.

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Love on the 25th. Episode 10

Read All Previous Episodes Here

Kole

The air stilled almost dramatically.
“And I thought the birthright exchange was farfetched”, she said calmly wiping the corners of her mouth; her cutlery resting like old African logs on the fine china. I knew dinner was over and I found myself drinking more of the content of my glass. I meant to let the evening slide without any drama, but the more I stared at her; her delicate hands, excellent frame, witty retorts: I was convinced she was exactly the kind of woman I needed for a wife and a business manager.
Debbie Black, a name in the Nigerian business world had come up last week at lunch with Goge Lawal….my Jewish friend with a Fulani mother and Irish Grandmother. We sure made a good team of mixed-blood men but Goge was going back to Israel and I needed a new manager for the African market. There was no picture of her on the internet, no social links and less than 200 words on the Zenith Group website.
“You sure about her?” I asked, skeptical.
“She is the only one I am going to give my job to”. A meeting with Mr. Fatasho, father’s bunk-mate in secondary school was set.
The moment she had stepped into his office with her strong sweet perfume and confident steps, I was sure Goge was unto something; and then she smiled, unapologetic of her sarcastic comments; I was suddenly in need of a wife.
I looked at her now and wondered if she was going to bite the bait. “I apologize for springing this on you. I didn’t mean to let it slip” I said taking in her calm demeanor.
“Of course” she said taking a sip of her glass, studying me over the rim.
“I take dinner is over?” I asked after a minute of awkward silence, distinct buzz of live electronics surrounding us.
“Not quite” she was looking at me intently.
“Not quite?” I drank some more.
“Why would you propose marriage to a total stranger? I know you are all about showmanship but getting married as a publicity stunt for your new collection and show is rather expensive, desperate” disapproval lacing her voice.
“I am surprised you know about my new collection. And no, this is not a publicity stunt. It is about managing my affairs. Putting my house in order” I stood up and went for some whiskey. Pouring a large glass, I took a hard gulp. It was time to spin a tale. She wasn’t biting.
“Listening” she said as I walked back to the dining table.
“I have 6 months to live. Lung Cancer. Impresario, the Farms, St.Gor….all you know of me is dying and I am afraid of losing it to the vultures I have as family” I said drawing out a chair to seat in front of her.
“Oh my God, are you serious?” she was sitting up now. I knew it was probably below the belt but I needed her on my team and as my wife. I didn’t need to marry her to have her take Goge’s place but she looked so good and was such a delight. I couldn’t pass her up. Moreover, I could use a divorce if it didn’t go as planned. Either way, it was a win-win.
“I need you to be my wife. That way you have a stake and I’d be sure you won’t betray me. I trust your professional judgment, you have an impressive résumé, a beautiful recluse, it won’t be difficult to take over my affairs, keep away my family and convince the press – of course – of your capacity” I said almost in a whisper.
“Take over your affairs? Don’t you have business partners? Friends?” she asked still looking at me with kind eyes.
“I am a man of one. I do not trust friends…moreover, I need a wife too” I supplied with a small painful smile.
“How long have you known?” her eyes misting. I hated to see her tears and stood up.
“Four months. It is the real deal Debbie. I’m done” I sounded pathetic but I didn’t care.
The room was quiet for a while.
“You need to think about this some more” her voice strained and low.
“I don’t have the luxury of time. You are the one”
“I don’t know what to say”
“Say yes?” I turned to face her as I emptied my glass and headed to bar for a refill.
“I can’t marry you” it was a bold statement.
I nodded.
“I have to go” she said, the sound of the bottle hitting the marble top between us.
I nodded.
“Try sucking on lemon after this glass” she said as she came to stand beside me, taking a healthy sip of my glass. I gave a sad chuckle.
“Thanks for dinner” our eyes fixed, I gave another sad smile, exhaling loudly.
“He will take you home” I said taking her hand as we walked out of the house.
Silently waiting for the driver to bring the car around, I tightened my grip on her hand and she held me back; her eyes rising to meet mine.
“Good night Debbie” little intimate caressing of her flawless cheek as my eyes roamed her face before depositing a dry peck on her opened lips. I couldn’t help myself. She jerked on contact.
I opened the door for her as the car came around and she was gone few minutes later. As if on cue, my phone rang. It was Goge.
“Did she say yes?” his voice edged with pain.
“She will”
“I don’t have time” he croaked
“I am wearing a wristwatch. Don’t die on me” and I cut the call before it got more emotional. Goge was dying of lung cancer and there was nothing neither of us could do about it.

****
Debbie

The unusual request left me stunned and emotionally drained as his ‘black’ driver took me home. I couldn’t believe a man – Kole McGregor was dying and in need of a wife to keep his family off his fortune. The fact that I didn’t like his guts before now didn’t matter anymore and it seemed as if the universe was putting me in position to ‘save’ the life I had taken.
Was this a chance to make things right or simply a test? Was accepting to marry the specie I so detested some kind of sign that I was healed of Androphobia or just a mockery of my existence – all I have fought against. Will he want an heir? Want to have sex with me? A contract maybe? I didn’t ask why he was bent on making sure his family got nothing but the thought of marrying him was unthinkable as it was appealing. What was his business empire like? And why did he pick me? What if his family were flesh eaters? I wasn’t going to be part of a snake fest. Was I? Questions swirling in my head.
‘Marry Kole. Lung cancer. Marry Kole. Lung cancer. Marry Kole. Lung cancer’…the continuous repeat had me hugging myself as her memories washed over me. Mrs. Thomas had died of lung cancer…I was thrown out of the house that night after three years of feeling safe..…I closed my eyes tighter to block out the memory; stopping my misting eyes. ‘Lung cancer, Lung cancer, Lung cancer’…the repeat was back on and I let it play out as I stared out of the window helplessly. Somehow, I knew the time had come for me to stop running and the thought of stopping was terrifying.
The house was quiet and imposing as usual as I got down from the car, hugging myself and walking slowly to the door. The unholy image of Vince on Sandra flashed before my eyes as I looked at his apartment. I wasn’t sure what I felt for him but he gave pretty good kisses and I was always putty in his hands but if he wanted Sandra, he could have her. I was tired of the conflicting emotions he brought into the room every single time and the last thing I needed was a love triangle and aching body parts.
The climb to my room was slow and exhausting. Undressing slowly with my door wide opened, I thought of Kole, Vince, Caleb…my impromptu marriage proposal…..
“Shouldn’t you be undressing with a closed door?” the voice I had gotten used to said almost in a drawl and I found my body responding shamelessly. An increased heartbeat, constricting nubs, tightening stomach muscles….this was absurd! I turned around. He stood at the door with hands in cotton pants and eyebrows burrowed in concentration as I approached him in nothing but my bra and panties. I must have looked like some star from the adult movies. I felt his eyes all over my body as I came to stand in front of him in white lace bra and black lace panties. “Shouldn’t you be in your house?” I retorted, engaging him in a stare match before closing my door firmly in his face. It was a while before I heard the front door slam close.
Climbing into bed and staring at the ceiling with shoes on, I finally decided. I was ready to step into the light.
I was going to marry Kole McGregor.

****

(4 weeks later)
****
Vince
At first, the news didn’t sound just about right. It was headline gossip and had the ladies scrolling their phones at the reception.‘Kole McGregor, confirmed billionaire bachelor weds childhood sweetheart’. I laughed at the superficial headline making prints in traffic, emails and pings. A search on his social pages confirmed the news but I was far from getting dragged into the circus. Kole wasn’t getting married; ever! That much I knew. As a family friend and longtime pal, I laughed at the absurdity. Kole McGregor was gay for Christ sakes. This, definitely was a publicity stunt. A man has got to respect his play of the press. Keturah – a mistake of a one night stand – joined me on the third floor as I rode up the elevator.
“So when are you going to propose?” she was breathing down my neck in the elevator. Perpetually looking surprised with her thick Nike eyebrows and lips looking like live coals, I remembered the night she held over me – at Jacob’s housewarming party. I had too much to drink and had hated myself the moment I realized I was way too deep in her bushy valley. I still cannot explain how I ended up in her house butt naked but listening to her crappy voice drone out nonsensical off-putting words as she clamped my hipbones with her metallic thighs all in the name of an orgasm, I knew my missionary days were over and firing her would translate to hot news on LindaIkeji’s blog. She made sure I knew she was a relative as soon as I had my release.
“Not anytime soon” I said with a fake grin and walked out the moment the door opened on the next floor. I would wait for another to continue to my office.
“Good Morning Sir” it was my sloppy secretary thankfully in long trousers.
“Good morning Rita” I greeted. She had the glassy eyes and I was sure she was itching to say something about the news. She confirmed it.
“Sir, have you heard?” she said, following me into my office.
“No Rita, heard what?” I said exasperated at the excitement. I was tired but had to submit a four weeks report on the impromptu trip to London, China and Texas that had me aching all over. The industrial estate proposal had picked the interest of a few of our partners and board of directors. Dad had insisted I made rounds but practically dragged me down last night for a ‘little’ debriefing.
“Mr Kole McGregor, the international mogul is getting married” she said almost breathless.
“yes, that. I heard” already dismissing her as I sat down.
“Miss Debbie is so lucky” she said heading out with her iPad. “What did you say?” I asked, my ears tingling at the mention of a name I was in love with.
“He is getting married to Ms Debbie Black. The new….” I was out of my seat in record time and was headed to her office. There was no way in hell that was happening. Was that the reason she didn’t return all of my calls? The house had been empty last night when I came from the airport and the doors were locked this morning. The guard had not seen them in a week.
It couldn’t be. It just could not be. The look on Idris’s face as I stepped out of the elevator told me I wasn’t the only one who was not comfortable with the news.
“Is she in?” I asked walking to her office.
“She took a leave of absence on Friday. She won’t be coming back till after the wedding” he said as if he was the latest minion, swiveling on his chair to face his screens. I headed to Dad’s office.
“Look who comes in just in time” it was Dad coming around for a hug. This was another first.
“Good Morning Dad” I greeted as he patted me.
“Morning Son! A good day today is” he said, indicating I sit. “Why are we celebrating? Did I do that good?” I asked sarcastically, sitting up.
“You, my son get the job you nearly had my neck for” he chuckled.
“Isn’t it too early to let her go?” I asked no longer interested in Debbie’s job….well, mostly her office and private elevator.
“Let who go?” he asked
“Ms Black?” I answered in a question, waiting for some information.
“She resigned and I am talking about taking my chair for real. It is yours son” he said with a white wide smile. Dad was retiring? How untrue.
“Are you serious?” the question was more on Debbie resigning.
“Of course” he was in high spirits.
“Why did she resign?” I asked, my chest beating too fast for comfort.
“Seems she is getting married to Kole and wants to manage his businesses here” he said studying me.
“When was this?” I asked, totally devastated.
“Last month I suppose. Kole was here some weeks back – something about his new TV show and having Debbie on it. I called Debbie to take care of it and now I hear they are getting married. You should be thinking of getting married too” he said, looking at me.
I was quiet.
“It seems you liked her” it was a question.
“I am in love with her Dad” I answered looking at him dead in the eye. I wasn’t going to let her get married to another man while I was alive.
“You do know she is with Kole” he cautioned knowing what was going on in my head. God forbid history repeated itself. It was no secret that my father married his best friend’s woman and the two men had hated each other’s gut for years.…Bassey Mbre mostly did the hating.
“Well, your mother and I think it is time you take over” he said with a small smile taking me back to why he had called me back. “When was this decision made?” I asked, wiping the loser look off my face.
“Last week. She is dying to see Joshua” her grandnephew, mum had the habit of visiting new babies.
“Great! I will mail in the report and you should get the board together” I said, jumping to my feet.
“Modupe” he called my first name in full. It was a warning.
“I am good Dad. Thanks for letting me wear your shoes. I won’t disappoint you” I tried a real smile this time.
“Then I say congratulations are in order C.E.O” he smiled and I rewarded him with another.
I was out of his office and out of the imposing structure in less than a minute. I was going to stop that wedding. I had to find her and find her fast. I dialed the one person I knew for sure would know where she was.
“Omo” she picked on first ring.
“Hey darling”
“Where is Debbie Black?” I cut to the chase.
“You know I shouldn’t be selling my news for free” she laughed.
“I am serious”
“How much?” she demanded as she always did.
“Enough to get you a land in Abuja” she gasped.
“She is in Lagos. McGregor Estate somewhere in Ikoyi. I really don’t know the street name and house number but will get it asap” Omo had ears to the ground and I knew I count work on her information.
“Thanks” I heaved in relief. She was still in Nigeria.
“What about my land?” she cried.
“When I get back…..and Omo? I don’t want to hear this in the news” I warned.
“When you get back” her lips were sealed. A land in Abuja could do that.
I was headed to the Airport.

****
Love on the 25th is written by Unen Ameji; Author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger. Get a copy. She is @UnenAmeji

All Fun and Games. Episode 9

….really do not know what happened yesterday. Was it Monday or what? Specially apologize for posting this episode 24 hours late. Gawd! So embarrassing…perdóneme

Read All Previous Episodes of All Fun and Games by Tomi Adesina

ALL FUN AND GAMES – EPISODE 9

“This will calm your nerves.” Craig said as he handed Aisha a cup of coffee. She stared at him as she collected the coffee.
“I didn’t know coffee calmed nerves.” She replied.
He smiled and took his seat beside her. “I guess…”
“You guess?”
He nodded with a smile.
Aisha stared at him and smiled back. For the first time, she saw the charming smile with which Craig won his female conquests. The dimple that lurked around his cheek and, the slightly broken canine that his smile revealed and thick dark beards around his jaw made him absolutely gorgeous. She was taken by this. An awkward silence ensued as Craig’s eyes were all over her. Another thing he had going for him, his eyes were highly seductive. How could one man possess everything? Aisha blinked as his eyes probed her. She swallowed her coffee as she buried her head in the mug.
Craig knew she was beautiful. It was a fact that couldn’t be hidden. Aisha had beautiful white eyes and her tan brown skin colour was attractive. He loved the way her hair dropped slightly across her face and the smile he had seen on her face in the last minute provoked him. A smile could really be an ornament. He swallowed as he watched her drink the coffee. Beneath her large white eyes, he still knew he could see her sorrow. She might have fought well to hide it from the world, but when he hugged her, he knew she needed someone. Her heart had raced fast against his and even though he knew his heart did beat, he hoped she didn’t notice that. She was still drinking her coffee and she seemed not to notice him. He wondered why. ‘Wasn’t that smile good enough?’ he thought as he prepared himself to gain her attention. On a good day, he knew how to handle women, but Aisha had proved to be a challenge initially and he was willing to sustain the momentum, a wrong move now, and he would be the loser.
Aisha knew something had to be going on in his head. It was in her head too, but, she knew she was vulnerable. She was sad and finding it hard to push the sadness away, she knew she needed to work. Work always found a way of distracting her. She placed the mug by the side table and smiled at Craig.
“Thank you.”
“Uh?” he gaped.
She smiled. “For the coffee.” She replied and walked inside.
Craig watched her leave as he hit his forehead in frustration. “Sh*t!”
++++****++++
Aisha drew the sheets over her as she lay in bed. She would try to sleep. For a moment out there, she knew was weak. She smiled at her foolishness. “You stupid girl.” She said to herself. She reached for her phone on the table and dialed Moira’s number. She was going to tell Moira what had happened, or what she prevented from happening. She thought in a split second that Moira would mock her, so she hung up.
“Stupid Moira.” She said with a smile.
“I won’t give you the satisfaction of saying “I told you so””, she said to herself as she returned her phone.
Aisha sprang as she heard a light knock on the door. Her heart raced fast again. She knew she had to tell Craig off. He was slowing breaking her defences with his presence.
“What is it?” she called in a sleepy voice.
“Oh…I…I thought you needed something?” Craig replied from the other side of the door.
She grinned. “No, I don’t.”
“Oh…Okay. I’ll be here if you need anything.” He replied.
The voice went dead. She smiled as she slipped back beneath the sheet.
“I…I don’t mean I’ll be standing out here, you know?” he called back.
Aisha slammed her hand against the bed. “Goodnight, Craig.”
“Yeah…Night.” He replied.
She turned off her light. His footsteps drew away from the door as soon as she did that.
++++****++++
“So, Craig was warming up to you last night? Oh my God! Tell me you let him.” Moira said with a smile.
“Give me the full gist, don’t hold back any detail.”
Aisha stared at Moira with a grimace. “What is your problem? Are you always this hmm…you know what I mean?”
“Say it. Bad child!” Moira replied with a smile.
Aisha smiled back as she focused on her laptop. “I was going to call you last night to tell you, but I changed my mind. I don’t even know why I spilled today.”
“That’s because you can’t keep a secret for too long, your eyes betray you a lot.” Moira replied as she took her seat on the table right in front of Aisha. Aisha stared at her.
“Moira, what are you doing? Do you know what will happen if anyone walks in and sees you sitting right before me like this?”
Moira shrugged. “What do I care?”
“I care about my reputation. I am not about to be slandered in the press, so get off my table.”
Moira smiled. “You are too cautious, Aisha. Live a little.”
“Yes, but not like this.” Aisha replied with a smile.
“Do you like him?” Moira asked, as she stared at Aisha.
Aisha scoffed. “Of course, not.”
“I think you have to be careful, Aisha.” Moira started as she returned to the chair.
Aisha stared at Moira who looked really serious. “What is it?”
“I am not too comfortable with Craig warming up to you.” She replied.
Aisha shrugged with a smile. “Why not? I am hot.”
Moira smiled. “For once, I like your sense of humor, but I am serious. I…I just think he might have bigger plans. This is a game, remember?”
“Moira…I think you should chill. What happened last night can’t repeat itself again, it only happened because I remembered my Mom and cried. I…I was weak, that’s all. I am back to normal.”
Moira shook her finger in disagreement. “What if you become vulnerable again, Aisha?”
“Moira, it is not every day that I get to feel bad about something. Just chill.”
Moira stared at Aisha with a great deal of concern. Aisha was right about not feeling bad every day. Moira wondered how she did it, she could just turn off her emotions and act all macho and other times, she could be totally miserable. Those were the days that bothered Moira.
Aisha looked up from her system and stared at Moira who looked lost. Aisha knew she bothered Moira a lot. “Let’s get food.”
“Uh?” Moira said as she jolted back to reality.
Aisha smiled. “Yeah, food.”
“Food?”
Aisha rolled her eyes. “Basic necessity for the body. Food. Let’s go eat.”
Moira nodded. “Of course.”

++++****++++
“Have you heard from Daniel?” Craig asked.
“Why are you bothered about him? I haven’t seen him since that burst.” Bolu replied without raising his head from the magazine he was reading.
“I believe he told Vicky. Do you think I should talk to Vicky?” Craig asked.
Bolu shrugged. “I don’t think you should hurt her more. Going to meet her will arouse false hopes, no time for that now. You need your pot of gold.”
Craig smiled. “Sure.”
“How is living with the Amazon going?” Bolu asked as he read from a magazine. “You do know that’s what they call her right?”
Craig raised an eyebrow.
“The business world, I mean. Read Celeb magazines, guy. Soon your face go dey there too as per Amazon’s boyfriend.” Bolu said as he passed a magazine to Craig.
Craig stared at the magazine. “What are they saying about her?”
“You can read, right?” Bolu asked with a smile. “There are figures of the profits she raked in last month in it, it will amaze you. She is a rich girl. In fact, she is flourishing.”
Craig stared at Aisha’s picture on the front cover. “She is beautiful.”
“Excuse me?” Craig didn’t hear Bolu as he stared at Aisha’s picture. Bolu noticed this and tapped Craig. “GUY!”
Craig rubbed his forehead as he dropped the magazine on the table. “What is it?” he asked defensively.
“Do you like this babe?” Bolu asked. Craig looked away. Bolu smiled. “Of course, why you no go like her? Money dey, the babe sef fresh, it’s only normal. When are you going to get in there? Leave for the boys o!” he said grinning.
Craig grabbed Bolu’s shirt aggressively. “Don’t!” he said through clenched teeth.
Bolu stared at him. “Easy, bro.”
Craig took a deep breath and released Bolu. “Never talk about her like that again.” Craig said as he adjusted his jacket. “I am off to work.”
“Guy, am sorry na. I didn’t know you like her.”
“I don’t like her. I just think she deserves some respect.” He replied.
Bolu nodded in agreement. “Okay. I am sorry, can we at least finish the drinks?”
Craig shrugged. “You can have it. I am out of here.”
“I hope you are saving money for after your divorce.” Bolu said with a smile.
Craig smiled. “I got my bases covered. See you.” He replied and walked away.
Bolu smiled as he continued drinking.

++++****++++
“Are you really leaving town?” Daniel asked as Vicky packed her bags.
Vicky stared at the bags. “Does it look like I am coming into town? Of course, I am leaving.”
“Are…Are you not putting up a fight?” Daniel asked.
She stared at him. “How much more do you want to see me humiliated?”
“Look, Vicky, I can’t let you go.” Daniel said.
“You’ll have to do more than turning my taxi away to stop me from leaving town. I have nothing left here.”
Daniel swallowed. “What about me? I love you, Vicky.”
“And I don’t.”
He nodded. “I understand. This is it, you love Craig, he doesn’t love you. I love you, you don’t love me. We are both scorned, we can make it work.”
“You sure have a perfect way of rubbing it in, don’t you?” she asked as she wiped a tear drop from her face.
“I am sorry, it’s…it’s just that you don’t deserve this, I don’t deserve it too. We can be happy. I’ll make you happy. I promise.” He begged.
Vicky took a deep breath. “Daniel, we won’t be happy. You know why? I don’t want to be happy with you. That’s a fact. You are not the kind of man that I want to be with. You are pitiful, ridiculous and not a very good friend. Everything you think you have done out of love for me has given me a clearer picture of who you are.”
Daniel swallowed. “This sucks.”
“It sucks, right? That’s what I think of you. You are a loser, a fake friend and you don’t deserve my love. If Craig won’t love because he loves his girlfriend, then fine. He probably would never love me.”
Daniel fumed. “Craig is a dirty bastard.”
“You are worse.” She replied. “Leave my house, Daniel.”
Daniel clenched his fist. “You don’t even know everything about Craig.”
“I know enough, I don’t want to know more.” She replied.
He blinked. “Really? Are you sure you don’t want me to tell you everything about that despicable fellow?”
The door opened and a young girl walked in. “Aunty Vicky, the cab is here.”
Vicky stared at Daniel. “Let me have a little good memory of you. Shut your mouth.” She replied and walked in to carry her bags with the young girl.
Daniel clenched his teeth angrily. Vicky brushed him as she walked past with her bag. He watched her go in and out of the house two more times with the young girl until the cab driver shut his trunk and Vicky slid into the back seat. He stood motionless, burning in anger and pain at everything that she had said to him. He stared at her from the front porch as she placed her against the window.
The cab took off and images of Vicky and the cab started to fade. He panicked and started to run. He chased and chased till he was tired and took solace on the floor.

++++****++++
“I am getting lonely in the house.” Moira said as they drove back to the office.
Aisha smiled. “I thought as much. I can come over tonight.”
“Really? That’s so great. Thank you.”
Aisha smiled. “Why are you thanking me? I said I can, I didn’t say I will.”
Moira rolled her eyes. “You are a monster.”
Aisha nodded as she pulled up in front of the office. She glanced at Moira as they saw Hakeem lurking around his car. “What does he want?”
“Oh well, you would have to ask him.” Moira said as she stepped out of the car.
Aisha watched from behind the wheels as Moira pecked Hakeem and left for the office. “Well played, Moira.” Aisha said as slammed the steering.
She took a deep breath as she approached Hakeem. “Hakeem, how are you?”
“Aisha.”
She nodded. “Yes, that’s my name. How are you?”
“I am doing fine. Do you have a minute?” he asked.
She shook her head in disagreement. “No. I…I am really busy these days, so much work to do.”
“Aisha, please give me audience.” Hakeem begged.
She rubbed her forehead. “What do you want, Hakeem?”
“I…I know how important yesterday was for you and your family.”
She smiled. “I have moved on. Is that all? Thank you. See you around.”
“That’s not all.”
She paused. “What is it?”
“Tell me about Craig.”
Aisha’s heart skipped a beat. “What do you mean?”
“I mean…who is he? What does he mean to you? Where did you guys meet?”
She folded her arms. “Are you investigating my boyfriend, Hakeem?”
“Alhaji told me not to. I won’t defy your father, but, I am a man who is in love with you. It hurts that you don’t love me, I just want to know if you are happy with him.”
She smiled widely. “YES. We are happy. Get over it.”
“I can’t.”
She shrugged. “Then I am sorry, it’s your loss.”
“Aisha, I don’t trust that guy.” Hakeem said. “I…I don’t think he is a good man.”
Aisha nodded. “That’s why you are not me, we don’t think alike.”
“Aisha, I want to leave the country.”
She nodded with a smile. “That’s good.”
“I know you can’t wait to get rid of me, but, before leaving I thought I should see you.”
Aisha smiled. “You have done well. Thanks for dropping by. Have a safe trip. Bye.” She said and hurried into the office leaving Hakeem standing outside.
Alhaji Ibrahim’s car pulled up before Hakeem. He stared at the car surprisingly. “Sir?”
Alhaji walked up to him. “I couldn’t travel, flight hitches, so I returned. Why are you out here?”
“I came to see Aisha, we have discussed. I was on my way.” Hakeem replied.
Alhaji took a deep breath. “Look son, I know how you feel about Aisha and I would lie if I say I don’t feel bad for you, but, I am more concerned about my daughter’s happiness. Do you understand?”
Hakeem nodded. “Of course. You are her father, you are looking out for her.”
“I think we should go and have drinks.” Alhaji suggested.
Hakeem shrugged. “Don’t you want to see your daughter?”
“I didn’t come back here to see her, I don’t want to bother her with my presence. I have a meeting with one of those men from Dubai. You know how they like to do business urgently, he just put a call through to me and said he’ll meet up, but I guess I’ll just divert him to meet me at the bar, he says he wants to sell merchandise.”
Hakeem nodded. “Let’s go then.”

++++****++++
Craig wasn’t sure if he was doing the right thing, but he was determined to do something. He punched the elevator button as he stared at his wristwatch. It was almost 7pm. He stepped out on the last floor. Aisha’s secretary smiled as she saw him and he smiled back. He was holding a branch of rose flower in his hand so he could guess why she was grinning almost mischievously. He knocked lightly and pushed the door to Aisha’s office open. Aisha and Moira stared at him. Moira grinned. “Hello, Craig.”
“Evening, ladies.” He said as he walked in.
“Getting too comfortable?” Aisha asked as Craig stretched out the rose flower.
He smiled. “It’s just a flower. Take it.”
“Why are you here?” she asked.
Moira stared at the flower. “Take the flower first.”
“No. There is something attached to him bearing a rose branch.” She replied. “Why are you here, Craig?”
“I came to take you out for dinner.”
Moira smiled. “Hmmm…”
“Declined.” Aisha replied.
Craig smiled. “You can’t say no. It’s not an option.”
“And why not?” she asked.
“Dinner is at your house. I just cooked. I don’t want it to be cold.”
Moira smiled. “Nice.”
“Can Moira join?” Aisha asked with a smile.
Craig stared at them. “Of course, why not?”
“Except that I am very busy tonight, Aisha. I am sorry, some other time.”
Aisha’s eyes popped as she stared at Moira. “She-devil.”
Moira nodded. “I know. You guys have a nice time. I would join you next time.” She said standing up.
She smiled at Craig and whispered into his ears. “Next time, try another lie.”
Craig smiled as she walked out. “So, shall we?”
“Where are you taking me?” she asked.
“Can you keep a secret?” he asked.
She nodded. “Largely depends.”
“I’m not telling you.” He replied.
“Is that your secret?” she asked.
He nodded in agreement. “Let’s go.”

++++****++++
“Your Dubai business dealer isn’t here yet, it’s been thirty minutes.” Hakeem said.
Alhaji Ibrahim drew up his sleeves to check the time. “He would soon be here, you know how those people are. Let’s talk about you. Your Dad told me that you would be leaving town, I think it will help you get a lot of things off your chest.”
Hakeem nodded. “I hope it does. I can’t seem to get over the fact that Aisha is with someone else. It is very hard for me.”
Alhaji nodded. “I know it is not very pleasant. Life doesn’t always give us what we want. We learn to deal with what comes our way.”
“Why do you trust that guy so much, Alhaji? I…I just don’t feel him.” Hakeem replied as he sipped his drink.
Alhaji shrugged. “I understand how you feel, you are in a competition with the man. I don’t expect you to trust him.”
“It’s…It’s just that he suddenly appeared out of nowhere without any warnings or signs. I mean, we didn’t know he existed, all of a sudden, he started existing.”
“He has been existing for a while now, Hakeem. He wasn’t born last week. Son, I did my check on him, he is not an alien. He is a hardworking young man and he loves Aisha. That’s all that counts. If you love her as much as you claim, let her be happy. I think she loves this guy.”
Hakeem shook his head sadly. “I just want to be selfish right now, but she is not even looking in my direction.”
“Learn to get over it, Hakeem. Learn.”
Hakeem nodded. “I am trying. It is not the easiest thing to do, Alhaji.” He replied. “I have to leave now, there are still some things I haven’t sorted out regarding my trip.”
“Take advantage of the trip to find you some happiness.” Alhaji advised. “You can be rest assured that regardless of what happens, you still have me as a friend.”
Hakeem nodded.

++++****++++
“So, what’s the plan? Are we just going to stroll in the sand?” Aisha asked as she stared at her feet.
Craig nodded. “I am holding your shoes, you shouldn’t mind.” He replied. “I set up a little dinner for us here.”
“Oh! You should have told me earlier, I would have alerted the press, at least, something romantic to top their list.” She said painfully.
Craig swallowed. “Why don’t you appreciate the privacy of this dinner?” he asked as they walked towards the table.
“Because it is awkward. There is actually nothing between you and I and you shouldn’t set up things like this if we are not trying to get the press’ attention.” She said as she took her seat.
Craig nodded. “What if there could be something between us?”
“There can never be, and you know it.” She replied smiling.
A waiter approached them and attended to them.
Craig poured her glass. “Bon appetite.”
She smiled as she sipped the wine. “Thank you.”
“So, when do I have to propose to you?” Craig asked.
She stopped as she stared at him. “Are we not rushing things? That would be unbelievable to my Dad.”
“I don’t think so, we have managed to convince him, I think I should propose to you soon, so, we can get married and get divorced too.”
She dropped her glass as she stared at him.

++++****++++
A man approached Alhaji Ibrahim in a black suit. “Alhaji Ibrahim?”
Alhaji nodded. “Yes? Who are you?”
“You are expecting me.” He replied.
Alhaji stared at him. “You are not Arabian.”
He nodded. “I know but I needed to see you, so I had to make up something.”
“I am calling security.” Alhaji said as he picked his phone.
“Don’t do it…at least, not yet.”
Alhaji dropped his phone. “What do you want?”
“My name is Daniel. I have information about your daughter’s boyfriend. Craig.”

****
All Fun and Games is written by Tomi Adesina, Writer and Author of “Dear Future Husband” available for free on African Stories. She is @tomi_adeshina on twitter. Get a copy. Read, Share and Sponsor next episode 😀

Love on the 25th. Episode 9

Read Previous Episode Here

Episode 9
****
Debbie
The dark cold room lit with white light from the Television was remarkably quiet but the warm masculine breath fanning my head told me he was awake and looking at me before I raised my eyes.
“Awake?” his voice so soft and low, almost seductive if I were susceptible like some spring wet chicken.
“Yes” I answered him with my head on his chest. Hard and warm, I was tempted to wrap my hands around him for a better feel.
I was lying beside him on the large soft bed with my clothes on and shoes off. ‘Did he help remove my shoes?’ I scanned my fuggy memory. I remembered getting into bed 5 hours ago with his urging amidst fake tears meant to dissuade him from asking questions that had ‘jail-like’ answers. Telling him I killed a man wasn’t going to happen.
Vince was dangerously getting too close for comfort; persistent with his good guy façade and strong arms that promised safety and something else I wasn’t ready to define. When was he going to show his testosterone horns? All men had those and I waited for the day I’d have a look at it. I knew he wasn’t taken with the story but I was at my wit’s end when I came up with the husband-abused-me-story with familiar variables and supported it with tears that flow like Ikogosi warm spring in Ekiti state.
He had held me so close and slow-danced me into feigning tiredness when I felt too comfortable in his arms that were wrapped around my waist in a possessive but harmless grip. Why! I was getting giddy with excitement as I felt his strong thighs brush against mine, his chest rubbing my nipples.
“You are so peaceful when you sleep” he whispered as a conspirator would, his eyes soft and dreamy. I gave a small smile, lowering my gaze. Why was I allowing myself get this close? Why was I comfortable in a man’s arms? They were all abusers and here I was betraying all I stood against – a breathing male. I made to get up.
“Please, don’t leave” he begged, his hand finding my waist. It was 4:37am.
“I…”
“Please” I felt his hand wrap around my waist, pulling me tighter and burying his head in my neck. I froze.
“What are you doing?” it was almost a whisper.
“You smell so good” he murmured.
“And warm” he was breathing in my scent and the warm sensation that pooled at the tip of my breasts sent red signals up my brain as he kissed my neck in a caress.
“Vince!” I called in alarm, trying to get him off me.
“I know” he sounded grumpy.
“That is ticklish” I laughed; pushing him away as he licked my earlobe.
“I was hoping you’d laugh”
“And why?” I said extracting myself.
“I love it when you laugh. You hardly laugh” he said as he placed another kiss under my earlobe. I jumped. He laughed.
“So jumpy” he said as I got away from his arms.
“Guilty” I said suddenly self-conscious. Was my hair untidy? My black liner spilling? My lips cracked?
“You can be the woman on top” he said and I turned sharply at his meaning. He laughed as I used my pillow to hit him.
“Hey! It was a joke….if you don’t want to take it serious” he winked and I hit him again.
“I am sorry!” he laughed now, grabbing the pillow with force. I lost my stamina and fell on him, his hands swiftly wrapping me around the waist as I laid down on him.
“Vince” I called solemnly.
“I know” he smiled as we locked gazes.
“Can I go now?” I asked after the long silence.
“I like you on top” he teased.
“Let me up” I fidgeting.
“Keep on doing that and you’d have yourself to blame” he teased some more.
“Oh Vince! Stop it” I sounded pathetic, almost as if puberty happened yesterday. In a swift move, he was on top of me and I almost screamed; laughing and struggling to get him off me. A playful struggle ensued and soon I had my hands pinned to the headboard.
“You look so sexy down there” he called, breathing high.
“You need to know how to treat a lady”
“Oh! I know how. I need your permission”
“You are incorrigible!”
“English” he retorted as I struggled to get him off. I laughed, breathing high. I could only imagine how he’d take my chest rising and falling with hands pinned up. And why wasn’t I hyperventilating?
“Let me up” I demanded. He must have noticed the serious tone and was up.
The room was quiet as I made it to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. Raising my eyes to meet his, I saw him approach slowly and the air got tighter. He stopped behind me; his hands going round my waist.
“You make me hot Debbie” our eyes fixed.
Almost hypnotic, I turned in his hands with his prod.
“Let me kiss you” he whispered against my lips and I let him. A rush of air escaped my tensed lungs. This was not me. Why was I so pouted in his hands? He was a man for Christ sakes!
The gentle slip of his tongue, deep penetrating and rhythmic sucking of our mouth was getting me hot. I wanted him! Gosh! I wanted this. With hands around his neck and tip toeing to get myself pressed against him, I heard myself moan as his hands brushed my breasts. It was the wake up all.
“No” I grunted getting my limbs off him and walking out of the bathroom with face so hot I wanted to deep in a bucket of ice.
I was acting like a senseless teenager and I hated myself for it. This was the last time I was going to allow myself get this close to him.
I was older.
He was my boss’s son.
He was a male.
“Debbie” he called sadly.
I stopped to look at him with my bag and shoes in one hand and the room key in the other.
“I am sorry Vince. I can’t do this” and I was out.
****
“Black, would you come into my office” it was Mr. Fatasho on Monday morning. ‘No sir, I won’t’ I answered in my head. Sunday had been quiet and depressing as I tried to ignore the sweet sensations traveling up my spine each time I remembered his strong hands on me. Hands that were next door. The girls had given me a melon-sized headache with a Skype chat that Uloma and Tina trying out lingerie and gowns for a gala night. Their breasts spilling out of the small sized gowns and bra had Eva and Sandra laughing so hard they pounded me on the head with throw pillows. I joined in after a while but had gone to bed early pleading migraine.
Now as I headed to Mr. Fatasho’s office, I remembered the grunt he gave early Sunday morning after I apologized for my disappearance. He had simply waved it off. I was tensed. Was I going to be fired for having a thing with his son? Demoted maybe? Warned off? What did he want so early? No more Vincent! I matched purposely.
“Good morning Sir” I greeted curtly, in long black trousers and poker dotted chiffon blouse tucked in tightly at the waist, I looked like a corporate cougar in ponytail. Maybe I was. My heels clicked the marble tiles in his office in smart steps as I approached.
“Morning. Please seat. I don’t suppose you have met Mr. Kole McGregor” he said leisurely as I noticed the fair skinned handsome man in the smartest of suit sitting in front of him.
“I haven’t” I said directing a polite nod at the man whose eyes were greyish blue with the pinkest of lips contrasting his black hair and nicely manicured thick side beards that looked like carpet grass – unusual for a white man.
“Well, I am too old to make introductions. Kole, this is the lady you should feature” he was saying. I simply stared at him, finally breathing. I wasn’t getting fired or warned off.
“Please call me Kole” the man said in the brightest of smiles, extending his hand for a shake.
“Debbie” I replied taking it.
“So can I leave the office Sir?” Mr. Fatasho said playfully getting up and placing his white cap on his head.
“No Sir” the mixed race man named Kole said in an entitled laugh getting up in a traditional bow. It was obviously a private meeting, the type where the son of his friend asked a personal favor instead of working for it. I briefly wondered what I had to do with it.
“Well, good luck to you. Debbie, do oblige him please?” he said as he waved us out. I was up and out in record time, almost hissing out loud. Fowl was my mood.
“I must say you come highly recommended” he was saying as I headed for the elevator down, simmering and working the heels. ‘Maybe I should break a tile’ a rebellious thought.
I didn’t need to be in their little meeting but he had called me anyway. Of course I knew who Kole McGregor was. An international designer and surprisingly an A-list producer of an entrepreneurial reality TV show who thought the world of himself and was constantly in the news about creating SMEs for the unemployed without Government support. ‘McGregor, a man after Africa’s heart’ he was called. He was getting unnecessary publicity that was akin to idol worship and the mere fact that he never failed to use his “McGregorian” aka white-DNA heritage in each interview I ever had the misfortune of watching pissed me off. The last thing I needed was some arrogant international designer and TV showman disrupting my Monday.
“I still think the special appearance wasn’t necessary” I said biting my tongue.
He laughed.
“And she has a good sense of humor. My kind of woman” I rolled my eyes, precisely what I expected from a showman.
“So what exactly am I to do for you again?” I asked as we entered the elevator.
“I am lucky to produce ‘Impresario’ and I need new judges for next season. I want you on it”
“Am I that qualified?” I asked with a small pretentious smile that got stuck in my throat. I hated the job already.
“More than I’d hope for” he replied my sarcasm.
“Then I shall oblige” I stressed sweetly using Mr. Fatasho’s word. He laughed again. The sounded surprisingly friendly and infectious.
“Nice view” he commented as we entered my office.
“It never gets old” I said, trying politeness as he walked to stand by the large glass wall.
“I may be tempted to share your office” he said. ‘God no go gree’ I thought in pidgin.
“So a judge huh?” I said in a haste to get started on the numerous emails in my box. Reports from the companies we visited had started coming in and I need to get them appraised as soon as possible. A new advert for the paper company was ready and needed a final yes from me. Of course the old bald M.D had problem with that but a little call from Mr. Fatasho had put things in place. I clicked the attachments and watched it as it downloaded.
“Yes, I am hopeful you’d consider”
“My consideration went out the window when I was called up for the handover, don’t you think” I couldn’t hide my displeasure of the little heel exercise to Mr. Fatasho’s office just to be told to ‘oblige’.
“How Nigeria works. Na man no man” he tried pidgin in funny accent.
“I bet the British hardly do that” I couldn’t hold the sarcasm. He caught it.
“I am sorry I didn’t come directly. I had my reasons” he said taking the seat in front of my desk.
“Reasons include?”
“One actually, I was told you hate my guts” he joked.
“And they might be unto to something” I smiled, opening the attachment.
“I think you have done a phenomena job with businesses in the last decade. I studied your portfolio and we’d be honored to have you on the show” he sounded serious now but there was one thing, I was fine hiding in the shadows. There was no way I was going to be a judge…not with his circus activities.
“Thank you Mr. McGregor…”
“Kole”
“…Kole but I don’t like Television. Perhaps a tutor for your contestants?” I said simply. I never would have considered this if it were not Mr. Fatasho’s indirect order.
“I suppose that will work”
“Without pictures on your websites and prints” I quickly added. I was concerned about the unwanted spotlight this would bring and would speak to Mr. Fatasho later. Perhaps some other person would take this cup from me.
“Now that will be discussed over dinner” he said, a little smile revealing his dimples. He rather looked cute.
“Of course” I said, raising my eyes from my screen.
“Would you mind having my driver pick you up at 7pm?” he was on his feet.
“That would be lovely” I shook his outstretched hand. It was impossibly soft unlike Vince’s.
“I am going to need your address” he said with a little wink dropping his card, I chuckled.
“I will have Idris send it” and I stood up to walk him out.
“I appreciate you doing this”
“Don’t be so sure” I joked. A little peck as we stood outside the office and the look on Idris’s face scared the hell out of me. With a scowl so deep and intense, I waved the showman out the door.
What was that look for?

****
Vince

The large rain drops dampened me as I dashed into Anonymous – Harold’s bar and restaurant. John was rather surprised at my request to have the limping man who I now knew as Caleb deliver all my orders from now on. John, Harold’s skinny manager was my little man and did exactly he was told.
“Hey man! You didn’t tell me you were coming. What are you doing here? Come, let’s catch up in my office” I swallowed a groan as Harold walked into the reception. He joked all the way to his littered office and offered me a beer from his huge fridge.
“Naa! I am going back to the office. Stopped to make an order” I lied. I was going home.
“Suit yourself” he said taking a beer and popping it opened with his teeth.
“So how is Ann? Still hiring private detectives?” I joked as I sat on his dusty chair. At first it was fun to shake off the tails and play smart but when she pointed a gun at his previous genitals after her subtle food poisoning tactic did not work, Harold was sure his days of having free sex was over. Boy was I glad! I couldn’t use a clipper after he had a shave and he almost always needed to use my clipper back in the days.
“Mehn! I don lock up! My guy, I nor fit try pim! She go just castrate me one time and God didn’t give me good junk to have it blown off by crazy Benin girl” he said laughing. I joined in. Ann was his antidote but she was killing him. He was frustrated and it showed.
“I guess you have it under control now” I teased and he stoned me with a tennis ball he found from his drawer.
“It is hard though” he said looking at the wall and I nodded. Harold lived for the ladies.
“I bet it is”
“How is Ele? Still your best man?” he asked brightly, sucking on the bottle so hard I thought it would crack.
“Nah! She called it off”
“What?! She broke your heart? I thought she was the one”
“She wasn’t”
“Now I am not going to get a tuxedo. I was hoping for a new tux” he said heavily in between belch as he walked to the fridge to get another bottle. He was spotting a big stomach and losing his clean happy look. Harold was becoming a drunk and I didn’t like the look of frustration he was trying so hard to hide.
“If it makes you feel better, I think I might have found the one” I watched him bite the can off and began sucking on the content like breast milk. Debbie’s breast flashed my mind and I flinched. I had to get out of here.
“Really? I was hoping you would not” he said sadly, taking another long draw from the unfortunate bottle.
“Might have” I stressed.
“I hope so. You, my man don’t need love. Love threatens your junk” I was on my feet. A pity speech was next and I wasn’t one to listen to him spill. Alex had called off his wedding after one afternoon session with Harold. I wasn’t about to get sucked in.
“Leaving?” he looked at me.
“Got to get that new love to lunch” I lied.
“I knew it. A bloody leech” and that was my cue. I was out.
Caleb brought the delivery at past 6pm, Debbie was home but Sandra came down instead. I was rooting for her to get the door as I watched from my front door. I was disappointed as I saw Sandra open the door and caught me before I could close my door. She waved coming over as she collected the package and dismissed him. Caleb was out soon and I was left to entertain Sandra. Bugger!
“So I have dinner. Thanks to you” she said
“I think I ordered for two” I corrected.
“Debbie won’t be eating. She has a date! Getting prepared for some special person” she winked and I found myself grinding my teeth. What date? With who? Not after the kiss at the suite.
“And the date has no name?” I tried humor as I walked up to my kitchen, Sandra trailing behind.
“Some really nice and tall hunk she says. A British too….Debbie likes exotic men” she joked.
“I certainly hope so” I answered as I stood at the sink, losing my appetite. This was crazy but I was beginning to get unnecessarily jealous. The thought of having another man smile at her, hold her or look at her made my blood boil. What was it about that woman that got me so rattled?
“So let’s have our own date right here” it was Sandra coming close.
“I have work to do over dinner” I said almost to myself. Do I follow her? That would be weird and stupid.
“Doesn’t matter. I’d love to watch you eat and work. I am too lonely anyways and I am beginning to consider going back to Port Harcourt if I get really lonely” she said as I felt her arms around my waist. I stilled.
“And what do you think you are you doing? I asked trying to dislodge her hands.
“I like you obviously. I know we have history but I am no longer that girl. I have grown, changed and I am stable. I am clean Vince. Please just hold me” she said with pleading eyes. This was absolutely ridiculous. I wasn’t about to be dragged into some love soap opera, was I?
“And I like Debbie. We can’t be together Sandra. Yes, a friend we can be but let it be clear, I am not interested in you” I said as she dropped her hands but not stepping away.
“Alright then. A kiss”
“What?”
“Just one kiss and I promise never to bother you again”
“Sandra….”
“I promise” she said, already tilting her head.
“I can’t do that”
“You want Debbie or not?” she asked. I looked at her and knew what that implied.
With eyes closed, I brought my lips to touch hers as her slender hands wrapped around my neck, massaging the back of my head in total abandon. She tasted of mint as her tongue entangled with mine. What I had planned to be quick kiss turned slow as pressed her body into mine. I reached down to her waist to peel her from me when I heard her voice.
“Ah! Sweet” she was standing at the kitchen entrance with long legs and smiling with bright red lips. She looked gorgeous and I was instantly jealous of the faceless date.
“Debbie!” I called, almost cursing out loud. And why was she smiling?
“You are done?” it was Sandra, licking her lips. I wanted to slap her so hard; the thought of violence scared me.
“Yes. I wanted to tell you I took your purse and say hello to Vince” she said, looking at the food pack on the slab after giving me a heated look.
“Coming back tonight?” it was Sandra.
“Not sure. Is that food?” she said, totally oblivious to my presence. What do I say? ‘Not what you think?’ That sounded so lame and generic.
There was a reason I hated soap operas.
“Yes” I croaked.
“I am so hungry” she said as she walked over to open it. One peppered gizzard disappearing into her mouth before her phone rang.
“Yes?”
“Madam, your car is here” it was the guard.
“Oh! Let him in”
She chewed and took another.
“Thank God!” she hurriedly chewed before putting the second gizzard in her mouth.
“So eager huh?” I couldn’t resist.
“I bet you two are eager too. I am going to leave you two to it. Have mercy on him” she winked at Sandra and was gone before I could get a reply in. How in the hell did I not hear her climb up the stairs?
“Make sure I get her” I said in contained anger pointing at Sandra who stood with a satisfied looked on her face as I left my kitchen and headed to my room.
There was no way I was letting another man get his hands on her.
It was decided. Debbie was going to be my woman and nothing was going to stop me from having her.

****
Kole

I couldn’t get her out of my head. The quick unsubtle way she dismissed me and the discreet refusal to be part of the show both annoyed me and impressed me. It was a breath of fresh air to have a woman treats me with such aloofness….I missed the days when I was spoken to like a human and not some god. Goge was right about her. If there was ever a woman who didn’t give a damn about name, appearances and worth, it was Debbie Black. It was going to be harder than I thought convincing her to marry me.
“I am sorry I couldn’t meet you at the house” I said as she stepped out of my black Lincoln Navigator I sent over to her house in simmering black sleeveless top that opened to reveal robust cleavage and free multicolored cotton trousers accessorized in cream-colored high wedges and a long single golden neck chain that accentuated her long neck and bouncy mounds. Her hair wrapped in black tie and lips bright red like Marilyn Munroe’s, I drew in my breath. She was absolutely beautiful and for the first time I doubted if I was doing the right thing.
“You would rather welcome me in faded knee-length jeans trousers?” she dissed me and I laughed. The choice of trousers was deliberate. The meeting at the office had convinced of the need to play the white-guy card down if I was going to get her on board plus I was pretty much tired of the suits and high class restaurants anyway. This was my last ‘recruitment dinner’ and it looked like it was going to end well.
“I was cooking!” I said, taking her hand like an old friend. I felt a little hesitation before she relaxed.
“Beans or microwaving your chef’s dinner” she said as we walked slowly to the house. I laughed harder. She was funny.
“You are such a delight” I volunteered, stepping aside to let her in to my 5bedroom guesthouse in Asokoro.
“If you must know, I happen to be a chef. Certified too” I continued trying hard to keep my banter without specifics; I didn’t want to come off like some conceited TV mogul who was a chef and an international designer. Goge was sure I was one.
“I think I believe you” she said as I held the door opened for her.
“Why?”
“More like a thing white men with black blood use to win African women over” she said with a straight face. It was refreshingly ridiculous and I laughed so hard I gave a cough.
“I may have to argue that over food. A good topic for a long night” I followed. She gave a nod.
“You really have a thing for the arts” she noticed as her eyes roamed my living space.
“That will be my ex” I answered truthfully.
“Ah! A truthful man” she said with a genuine smile.
“I suppose I like the idea of truth and freedom” I said going over to pour her a drink.
“What is this?!” she said as soon as she tasted the strawberry squeeze with a dash of cream, gin, fresh ginger and pineapple.
“Like it?” I asked looking her over my glass rim.
“Love it!” she exclaimed taking another sip of the mix.
“I am a chef after all” I teased and she laughed freely; her eyes wide with amusement and her long lashes fanning her long nose. Gosh! I could get used to looking at her.
“Officially my best drink buddy” she wrinkled her nose and I laughed.
“You should reconsider your stance on the show” I chipped in.
“I may have to reconsider dinner totally” she eyed me.
“I’d hate to have to eat alone”. I knew what she meant. Tonight was not going to be about me buttering her up to be a judge but something more.
“I am glad we understand ourselves” she said feigning British accent; an imitation.
“I do not sound like that!” I laughed and she joined in.
“I didn’t say so” she laughed freely as I pulled a chair for her and made to serve dinner.
“So, what really is being a judge on your show all about?” she asked after the first spoon of the spicy chicken cacciatore.
“Impressed that much?” I raised a brow and she laughed again.
“No certificate in sight, no chef making appearances… I am willing to concede. Excellent meal Mr. McGregor” she said impishly, taking another forkful.
“Thank you but I am afraid being a judge on the show was just part of the proposal”
“Now I know why this meal tastes like Jacob’s porridge” she said looking at me through her lashes. I caught my breath again; God! She was beautiful.
“I don’t see Esau in sight, unless of course you waxed your hairy legs and hands” I joked, taking a sip of my drink.
“By all means, do tell. What is the part two of your proposal?” she asked as she took another fork, chewing seductively.
“Marry me” I blurted out without second thoughts. I was sure, she was the one.

****

Love on the 25th is written by Unen Ameji; Author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger. Get a copy. She is @UnenAmeji

All Fun and Games. Episode 8

Episode 8

****
Aisha leaned against the door as she folded her arms, creating an imposing figure against the door with her yet petite frame. “Craig!” she called in her best feminine asset. “Craig!”
Vicky stared at her carefully. “I can’t believe this.”
“I know you can’t. Do you want an autograph? Last chance.” Aisha said with a cynical smile.
Vicky swallowed as she watched Craig approach from inside. He was topless and this sent ideas into her head.
Craig took a deep breath as he saw Vicky. “Hey.” He said.
Aisha turned as she stared at him and returned into the house. Craig pulled Vicky outside and shut the door as soon as he watched Aisha leave for the bedroom. “What is this, Vicky? What are you doing here?”
“Craig…I…I love you.”
Craig swallowed. “And I don’t!”
Vicky took a deep breath. “Craig, I know…I know it’s not every day that a lady summons courage to tell a man that she is in love with him and I swear it is not easy for me to bottle my feelings like they don’t exist when they do, but…but I just want you to know that I love you for who you are and would never stop loving you.”
Craig rubbed his forehead. “I…I don’t know what to say. I…I am with someone else.”
“Her?”
Craig nodded. “Yes. Her. Aisha. Her name is Aisha.”
“Do you love her?” Vicky asked. “I mean, where did she spring out from? We only knew Aisha from the TV and spotlight, but, you and Aisha? I mean, was it coded and stuff? When did you guys fall in love?
Craig blinked. “Look, my relationship with Aisha is very important to me and to her too. I can’t discuss our affair with you, but all I can tell you is that we have something.”
“Tell me, Craig. Please.” Vicky said desperately. “Look, Craig, I have loved you ever since we have been friends and yes, I find it hard not to fight for it.”
Craig took a deep breath. “Vicky, I thought we had discussed this before.”
“I own my feelings, Craig.”
He nodded. “Fine. I can’t deprive you of the right to be in love, but, this love won’t be reciprocated.”
“Craig, I just want you to be aware of what I feel for you and I want you to know that I am not going to stop loving you.”
“Vicky, you are a good woman. I am sure that there are men lined up to love you if you let them. You don’t have to tie yourself down to me. I am with someone else.”
Vicky shook her head sadly. “Why did you choose her?”
“I have no control over my heart, do I?” he asked.
She stared at him. “Do you love her?”
He swallowed. “Vicky…”
“Just answer the question, Craig. Be honest with me, for once, please. Do you love her?”
Craig stared at Vicky’s eyes. They were full of hurt and desperation. He didn’t know what else to say to her that would send her away from him. For him, he couldn’t give her love, he knew that. He had never loved anyone like himself. Feelings and emotions were for the weak. He could deal with casual sex but not commitments. Vicky seemed like commitment, Aisha was business. He didn’t need Vicky. Aisha was his pot of gold. He could mess around with that. And even if it meant him lying to a desperate woman, he would. Lying wouldn’t hurt him, after all, he already lied to a desperate father. Why couldn’t he lie to Vicky?
He took a deep breath. “I am in love with Aisha. I have always been and we have had our relationship under wraps for a long time now, just to keep it out of the press’ prowling eyes. I am sorry if I have never told you about it. I really apologise for hurting you, Vicky. I love my girlfriend. I’d do anything for her. She loves me too. I can’t hurt her.”
Vicky wiped a tear drop as it rolled down from her eyes. “Craig, I love you. I am sorry you love someone else.”
“Vicky…”
She tiptoed and pecked his cheek. “Bye. I would never show up in your life again.” She said as she walked away.
Craig took a deep breath as he watched her walk away. He buried his head in his hand and returned into the house. Now he had to face the bigger venom.
Aisha lay on the chaise lounge in the living room as she watched from the TV. Craig rubbed his palm against his trouser as he stared at her. “I can explain.”
Aisha stared at him with a smile. “What? The TV program is nice, you should watch it. Should I get you some ice-cream?”
“I…I am talking about what just happened.” He replied as he approached her.
She shrugged. “I thought the scene was funny too, but you know how these actors can be, they can be very annoying.” She replied, feigning ignorance as she focused on the TV. “Are you sure you don’t want any Ice-cream?”
“Aisha, I…I don’t love Vicky.” Craig said.
Aisha stared at him. “Who is Vicky?”
“Come on, Aisha. You know who Vicky is. She just left.” He replied as he squatted beside her. “Look, Vicky is…is just a lady who is in love with me, but I assure you I am not in love with her.”
Aisha stared at him. “Craig, I don’t know what you are blabbing about. Here I am, trying to enjoy some TV and take a break from work and you are talking to me about love and Vicky. I don’t understand. I really want to enjoy this program. Would you let me?” she asked with a smile.
“Damn!” Craig shouted and rose to his feet. “I am off to bed.”
She smiled. “Have a nice night.” She said and focused on the TV.
Craig kicked the chair angrily and left for the bedroom.

++++****++++
“So you are telling me that Craig’s girlfriend showed up at your house last night?”
Aisha nodded as she punched the elevator button to the top floor. “Exactly, Moira. That doesn’t worry me as much as I think my plans might be foiled if I keep getting ugly surprises like that. Who is next to visit? Hakeem?”
Moira smiled. “That won’t be cool, my friend.”
“You know I actually think Craig’s bases are not as covered as they should be. Come to think of it, I picked this guy from the slum; people are going to wonder how his profile jumped this high in no time. I should have thought of this more before choosing that scumbag.”
Moira shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. We would just have to come up with something. Like how he enjoyed frolicking with the needy and all. I’ll find something, don’t worry. I think what we need to do is to speed up the wedding plans, so you can get the inheritance, divorce him and get your life back on track. Maybe by then, you’d be in love with Hakeem.” Moira replied, snickering.
“Very funny, Moira. Very funny.” Aisha replied as they stepped out to the main floor.
“How has living with Craig been?”
Aisha stared at her as she pushed her office door open. “How is it supposed to be? We stay out of each other’s way as much as possible.”
“Nothing unites you both?” Moira asked, taking her seat with a smile.
Aisha raised an eyebrow. “Out with it, you idiot. What are you insinuating?”
Moira shrugged. “Nothing that hasn’t been heard before. I am just saying that, how is that you both haven’t found a common ground to co-exist in that house?” She asked, grinning.
“Look, if what you are trying to say is what I think, NO. I have respect for myself, unlike you.”
Moira hissed. “I respect myself too. But I am just saying. You guys can be friends with benefits.”
“Moira, are you alright? What has come over you?” Aisha asked as she turned on her laptop. “Fact check, I am Aisha Bello. I don’t have time for frivolities, so the next time you forget who you are and start imagining foolish things, always remember who I am and keep me out of your silly thoughts.” She replied.
Moira grinned.
“What? Wipe that smirk off your face.” Aisha ordered.
Moira smiled. “I won’t. And you know why? It means in that holy heart of yours, you have actually given dirty thoughts a chance. Why would you even think that I was thinking that?”
“It’s logic. Common sense, Moira. That’s something I have too.”
Moira nodded. “Okay.”
“Good. Now, we must get back to work. Alhaji won’t be here today and I don’t know why, but he said for a few days, he’ll also be away. But while he is away, we have some deals to shut down and I am talking big money here.” Aisha started.
Moira smiled. “You love making money, don’t you?”
Aisha nodded in agreement. “Yes, I do. It’s all I live for.”
“Do you know why your father won’t be here today?”
Aisha shrugged. “I don’t know and I don’t think I really want to know.”
“That’s because you have decided to ignore this day. It’s been many years, Aisha.”
Aisha stared at her. “I don’t remember what today is and I don’t need you to remind me.”
Moira took a deep breath. “I’ll be going over there by lunch. If you change your mind, we can go together. It won’t hurt so much.”
“Please leave, Moira. I have to work.”
Moira nodded and walked out.
Tears rolled down Aisha’s eyes as she remembered her mother.

++++****++++
“How did Vicky get your address?” Daniel asked.
Craig stared at him. “Don’t give me that, I can swear on anything that you gave it to her.”
“No, bro. I don’t break bro codes.”
“What code? How did she know my house?”
“Aisha’s house, you mean?” Bolu asked, smiling.
Craig shot at him. “Whatever, Man.”
“But seriously, I’d give anything to see Aisha’s expression when she met Vicky.” Bolu said smiling.
Craig stared at him. “Did you give Vicky my address, Bolu?”
Bolu laughed. “You know I can’t do that, brother.”
“What I know is that Vicky didn’t just show up at my house. One of you gave her the address and I don’t think it’s you, Bolu. I know it is you, Daniel.”
Daniel smiled. “What do I have to gain by pushing her closer to you? I love her too, remember?”
“Exactly. Because you love like a dumb man, you think that by sending her my way, she would realise and then start to fall for you. I have news for you, she doesn’t love you, she loves me.”
Daniel swallowed. “Shame. You don’t deserve her love.”
“Neither do you. You are a selfish bastard, Daniel.”
Bolu stepped in. “Easy, boys! Craig, you can’t start accusing Daniel without proof.”
“Oh, let him continue. You’ll come back to apologise, Craig. I know it.” Daniel replied.
“Are you saying he didn’t give her my address? Who did?” Craig shouted.
Bolu took a deep breath. “We both know that Vicky is madly in love with you, a woman in love can do anything for her man. Maybe she tailed you or something, but Daniel has returned to us, he won’t betray you, bro. We are like family, right?”
“I won’t betray you, bro.” Daniel said with a smile. “I am better than that.”
Craig swallowed. “I don’t believe him.”
“I know you don’t trust me too much, Craig. But even though I love her and she doesn’t love me, I won’t use that as an avenue to destroy you.” Daniel replied.
Bolu took a deep breath. “Believe him, Craig. We have been brothers for a very long time, don’t let a woman tear us apart.”
“This is a woman’s love we are talking about. I might not love her, but I appreciate the fact that someone loves me. I can’t love her back, but I respect her and I won’t go about taunting her for it. I advise you respect her, Daniel. Be careful with what you tell her. You don’t have to hurt her.” Craig said and grabbed his car key.
“Where are you going? You just got here.” Bolu said.
Craig shrugged. “I am going back to work. I have to be there, at least.” He replied and walked away.
Bolu stared at Daniel. “Why did you tell Vicky?”
“Why did you defend me if you thought I told her?” Daniel asked.
Bolu took a deep breath. “I…I thought that our friendship meant something to you, bro.”
“It does, Bolu. I didn’t tell her anything. Maybe she tailed him just like you said.”
Bolu smiled. “Do you even believe that?”
“I am innocent. Whatever is happening to Craig is thanks to his greed. He can’t eat his cake and have it. Aisha is going to give him something he has never had. The Spotlight.”
“And she is taking away from him the opportunity to learn to love Vicky back.”
Daniel swallowed. “Learn to Love?”
“I still believe Craig can like Vicky more. Craig is a good guy.”
Daniel clenched his teeth. “She is mine.”
“No. She’s not yours. Get over yourself.” Bolu replied. “I am going back to work.” He added and walked away.

++++****++++
“Mrs. Bello, how are you?” Moira asked as she knelt before Aisha’s mother’s grave. “It’s been years. Aisha still won’t come to visit. I know I haven’t been a right friend by helping Aisha with getting her inheritance by finding a man for her, but Aisha is sad and drunk with power. This is the only thing that is really helping her to interact with someone else, I know I might be wrong with this decision, but, I actually believe that Aisha might find herself in the process. Ma’am, she still plays your favourite tune on the piano but she won’t be playing the piano for a while, she’s moved in with the new guy and she decided not to take it there. She still gives to the orphanages, she hasn’t lost her value. The only thing she hasn’t found is love, so she decided to play games. It might be fun for a while, but I think it might hurt too. I would be here for her no matter what happens. I miss you, you are also my mother. We would close up major deals in the coming days and Aisha would make more money. Aisha enjoys viewing the world from the window like we used to do as little girls when we did visit.” Moira paused to wipe a tear drop. “Aisha is in the office distracting her as usual from thoughts of today, but, I know she would eventually be able to come here one day.”
Moira took a deep breath as rose to her feet. “We miss you, ma.”

++++****++++
“Ma’am, we have been here for five hours and have closed six deals already. Let’s give it a break.” An officer suggested.
Aisha stared at them. “Oh really? We have?”
He nodded. “Ms. Bello, this is nine pm already. I think we should go home.”
“I don’t think so, I think I want to close all deals today. I think we should make all the money we can now. The day is still young, it’s just 9pm.”
Moira stared at them and then back at Aisha. “Aisha, I think we can let them go. We can finish it up.”
“Challenging my authority?” Aisha asked.
Moira stared at her. “Aisha, please.”
Aisha stared at the others. “Get out.”
The others gathered their documents and walked out.
“It’s my money, you know.” Aisha said as she took a seat.
Moira nodded as she approached her. “Let’s go home. You are spent.”
“I am not. I am not leaving here until I tie up all the deals.”
Moira took a deep breath. “Don’t do this today, Aisha.”
Aisha buried her head in her palms. “I just want to get this work done.”
“You don’t have to get it done today. Tomorrow is another day.”
Aisha shook her head. “Tomorrow never comes. My mom didn’t live to see tomorrow.”
Moira swallowed. “I know. God knows best.”
“Bye, Moira.” Aisha said as she picked up her phone.
“Stay with me tonight. You are not doing fine.”
Aisha smiled. “I can handle it.” She replied and walked out.
Moira watched her friend leave the office. Aisha couldn’t handle many things, she only tried to do it. It did work well for her most times, and when her world came crashing down, you almost could not recognise Aisha. Today seemed like one of those days, Moira hoped for her friend’s sake that it would not get worse at night.

++++****++++
“Hey!” Craig said as soon as Aisha walked into the house.
Aisha stared at him. “Hi.” She replied.
“So, I…I was thinking that we could talk about this business today.” Craig started.
She stared at him. “What is there to talk about? Are you broke? I’ll reimburse your credit card tomorrow.” She said, stepping away from him.
“Was it always this easy for you?” Craig asked.
She stopped and stared at him. “Excuse me?”
“Do you actually buy everybody?”
She dropped her handbag on the chair and folded her arms. “I don’t understand.”
“I’ll reimburse your credit card. That’s all. No discussions, no relations. You don’t even care if I hold a party in your house in your absence? You don’t care if I sleep with someone?”
Aisha shrugged. “Why should I care? I just need you to help me get something, that’s all.”
“Where did the good girl go?”
Aisha looked around. “Are you talking to me?”
He nodded. “Yes. I mean, you…you are more than this, Aisha.”
“Shut up!” she replied and picked up her bag.
He swallowed. “I won’t. Why are you bent on making everyone see this monster? You…you don’t have to like me to live with me. But, as long as we are living together, we can tolerate each other.”
“I am tolerating you, right now.” She replied.
He nodded. “Good. I want us to talk. I want us to talk about yesterday.”
“Is this about yesterday? The entire dumb sermon was about yesterday?” she asked.
“Look, Aisha, Vicky is a woman who loves me.”
Aisha smiled. “Good for you. When our deal is over, you can go back to her. Today is not a good day to have an argument with you. Please, let me be.”
“Is there ever a good day with you?” he asked. “Aisha, you can’t go on like this. When you hurt, spit it out. When you are happy, let everyone know. This is not life.”
Aisha stared at him with her mouth agape. “What do you care?”
“I don’t have to care about you, but I do. You are human; we live in the same house. Just look at your face, it is obvious. You have been crying. What is it about? Tell me. Let me help.”
She scoffed. “Now you want to help me? Look, your job here is simple, we step out together, and you smile at the camera. Shutter left…Shutter right…Click. The press has us in the magazine; we go home, case closed. There is nothing else, try not to get too close to me. You are pissing me off.”
“You piss me off too. But, I won’t give up on you. You need saving. I’ll help you.”
Aisha stared at him. “You know someone who needed saving?” she shouted. “My mother!” she screamed. “There was no one that day, I couldn’t save her, and Moira couldn’t. The driver couldn’t. They killed her as though she didn’t matter. That was someone who needed saving. You want to save someone, get me back my mother.” She shouted. “Don’t ever talk to me about saving me, I am fine.” She said as she wiped teardrops from her eyes.
“Aisha…” Craig said as he took a deep breath. “I am sorry.”
She nodded. “It’s normal to be sorry. It is the typical pitiful state of the mind. My father was sorry. The cops were sorry. Moira was sorry. Even my dead Mom would have been sorry. I am sorry too. So, it is okay if you are sorry. Can I go in peace now?”
“Aisha…” Craig said as he stood before her. “It’s okay to cry, you don’t have to fight it.”
She swallowed.
“Look, I know it hurts, but, when you should cry, you should cry. Just cry, breathe, let it go. Please…” he said as he stared at her eyes. “You don’t have to go through it alone, just let it go, Aisha.”
Tears began to stream down her face. The more she fought back, the more her weak eyes betrayed her. The tears flowed freely and she crashed into Craig’s arms in tears.

****
All Fun and Games is written by , author of “Dear Future Husband” available on African Stories. Get a . She is on twitter.

Beautiful Stranger. Episode 2

Read Previous Episode Here

EPISODE 2
Jerry knew he would fail the alcohol test, but that didn’t bother him. His bad luck had intensified in the last weeks and this was leading the other doctors to doubt his competence. Patients transferred to him always had a ten percent chance of survival and that was putting it mildly. He never actually did succeed in any case he really handled and he almost always made a howler of cases that he had to assist on. His life was really a mess and he needed a break from all the drama. He watched the Lab scientists from outside as they worked on the samples he had presented for his alcohol test. One thing was evident, the Director of the Hospital was ready to suspend him for the second time in two years if he failed the test.
Being a Doctor was his lifelong dream. He loved tending to people and saving lives, above all, he also loved the prestige that came with being called a Doctor. His parents loved that too. He had been guided by following his passion so that he wouldn’t have to see his job as tedious for a day but Medicine was never like that. He had graduated with straight A’s in school and seemed like the perfect Doctor but everything changed when he started practising. Series of deaths rolled under his watch and this didn’t boost his morale. It couldn’t boost anyone’s morale to be a failing Doctor.
Emeka popped his head out from the Laboratory and signalled to Jerry to join him in a corner. “Hey Bro…you shouldn’t be here.”
“And I am guessing that you have become a Lab scientist?” Jerry asked as he folded his arms.
Emeka smiled. “I switched the bottles.”
“Your urine and mine?”
Emeka nodded with a smile. He expected Jerry to wrap his arms around him in appreciation of this but Jerry stared at him coldly. “Say something…something good.”
“What is good about your urine? For all we know you might have syphilis.”
Emeka scoffed at Jerry’s ingratitude. “A thank you would suffice.”
“I am not grateful. I am worried about what the Director would say when a comprehensive test is done.”
Emeka smiled. “Thank me later.”
The door opened and the Director joined them with a sheet of paper in his hand. He stared accusingly at the duo and handed the sheet to Jerry. “I don’t know what you did to make your alcohol drinking mess go away…but you are still suspended.”
Jerry watched the Director as he disappeared down the hall and turned to Emeka. “Do you still want the thank you?”
Emeka shook his head. “I am so sorry, man.”
“Look, I don’t think I’ll do any better here than I did in the East. Maybe I should just go back home. Maybe this profession isn’t for me after all. What is the point of going to the surgical wards when everything I touch is a no? This is tiring. Very exhausting.”
Emeka nodded. “You have a point there and it might sound wrong for the moment but I sincerely do think that this suspension might give you some time to bounce back.”
“Bounce back? Did you even ever see my glory days?”
Emeka paused to think.
“I have never had any.” Jerry replied and adjusted his coat. “I’ll be on my way home.”
“How many weeks are you to be suspended for?” Emeka asked.
Jerry checked the sheet. “Two weeks.”

***
“Two weeks?” Toni asked with a frown.
Nora nodded as she took off her slippers. “Am I not deserving of it?”
Her sister was silent.
“I worked hard to get that leave.”
Toni shrugged. “I am not disputing that, but I am just saying that if the service provider is naturally that horrible, what happens when more people such as you get leaves from work?”
“We are a competent network.”
Toni nodded. “Sounds like your motto, right?” she asked with a grin. “Nora, I really don’t want you in this house with me for two whole weeks. You will bore me to death with your principles.” Toni continued. Nora ignored her and started to change into her underwear. “Where are you going with James?” She asked, trying to change the topic.
“He ought to call me in the next hour to let me know. We leave by seven.”
“That should be to the movies then…” Toni replied. “I should step out tonight too.”
Nora shot at her. “Where to? It rained last night. It might rain today too.”
“It’s just for a walk.” Toni replied. “Besides, I might just go with a car.”
Nora nodded. “I think it is safer if you go with a car. You have to be careful.”
“Nora, I am fine.”
Nora picked her phone. “Toni, I know you are. I am just playing my role.”
“I think it is a little too much.”
The land phone rung. Toni lifted the receiver. “Hello!”
“Ma’am, there is a man named James here to see Ms. Nora.”
Toni shrieked as she replaced the receiver with a smile. “James is here. I have to go and see him.” She replied as she leaped off the bed.
“Why is here so early? Oh my…I have to fix myself up. Go…go and keep him company.” Nora said as she turned towards the mirror.
Toni hurried out of the room.
James stood in the living room in his black suit with a smile. Toni folded her arms as she smiled at him. “I meet the famous James.”
He smiled. “Err…I…I am here to see Nora.”
“Obviously she hasn’t told you about me?” she asked as she took a seat. “Take a seat.”
James obliged. “You are Toni, right?”
She smiled. “Oh…she did mention me?”
“No…and now I know why she didn’t.” James replied as he undid the lower button of his jacket.
Toni ran her hand across her hair and took a deep breath with her eyes closed. She thought she was missing something. She shrugged. “Why do you think my sister never mentioned me?”
“It’s obvious. You are a lot prettier than she is. Very stunning and she is very sure that if I had just one glimpse at your photo before coming here, you would be going out with me on this date.”
Toni smiled. “You flatter yourself.”
“I try. Where is Nora?”
“She has to dress up. I think you arrived earlier than schedule and I think you are seriously dressed.”
James stared at his jacket. “I like to look nice. First impressions count, you know?”
“You won’t go far with me. I like to wait for second impressions.” She replied as she rose to her feet. “I have to check in with Nora. I’ll be right back.”
James nodded as he relaxed in his seat.
“How does he look?” Nora asked as Toni shut the door.
Toni smiled. “He is cute, you have nice eyes.”
“I hope he likes me too…so tell me the important thing.”
Toni nodded. “He is wearing a suit. He is taking you to a classy restaurant, so you can pour your hair down for a start.”
“I can help myself. Go and talk with him. He is really interesting.”
Toni smiled. “He is. You always find the douchebags.”
“Stop. James is different. Nothing like the other guys I have met.” She said with a smile as she poured her hair down. “What gown do I wear?”
“I like that black one you wore for a fund raiser last month.”
Nora took a seat. “I already wore it once. I want a fresh slate with James.”
“You are a clown. It is just a date. It is not your marriage.”
Nora hissed. “You are very helpful, Toni. Thanks.”
Toni nodded. “You are welcome.”
“I think you should go and occupy James.”
Her sister grinned. “Of course…”
Nora grabbed her gown as soon as Toni shut the door after her.
“I see I am not very popular around here. You have left for me for like err…” James pulled up his sleeve to check the time. “Fifteen minutes.”
“Thirteen minutes.” Toni corrected with a smile.
James smiled. “Did you check the time or are you just trying to wow me with your intelligence?”
She shrugged. “I don’t wow people…it comes effortlessly.”
“Have lunch with me sometime.” James replied with a grin.
“Hitting on two sisters. Touché!”
He smiled. “It’s just lunch, I would like to know you better…maybe hook you up with one of my single buddies.”
“I’ll pass.”
“Why? You are beautiful, smart. Any guy’s catch.”
Toni nodded with a smile. “Did I mention I like football too? I hear you guys are into ladies that love football too…”
“My God! Where have you been all my life?” he asked with a smile.
She took a deep breath. “Stuck in between rooms.”
“Humour too…you are a real catch.” He continued. “Nora is taking forever.”
Toni smiled. “Don’t you guys just love a pretty lady?”
“We do.” He replied. “I am cute, right?”
She smiled. “Obviously.”
“Ah! Finally!” James exclaimed as he watched Nora descend the stairs.
“She is so beautiful.” Toni said with a smile and flashed her camera. “Souvenir for me. You are having her full beauty. I rarely ever get to see my sister dressed like this, so cherish the moment, James.” Toni said as she nudged him.
Nora smiled at Toni. “Thanks darling. Do take care of yourself.”
“What could possibly happen to her, guardian angel?” James asked as he gave Nora his hand.
Toni grinned. “Yeah…what could possibly happen to me?”
Nora shot a face at her sister and smiled at James. “Shall we?”
“Sure.” He replied.
***
Toni smiled as she stepped out of the house that evening. There was no way she was going to drive any of the cars when she could walk. She had only walked past two streets when she spotted the jerk from the bar sitting alone in a corner. She grinned to herself as she walked up to him. “Jerk!” she said.
Jerry stared at her and turned his face away.
She took her seat beside him with a smile. “I take it as you were drunk last night.”
Jerry ignored her.
“So…do you talk at all? Oh wait! You do talk so much…almost as though you don’t have a lid on it…so, why are you unusually quiet tonight?” Toni asked with a smile.
Jerry took a deep breath and clenched his fists together. He had been doing some self-evaluation until this lady appeared from nowhere to bug him. His fists were hungry to feast on her face…but then…it was not his style.
Toni smiled waiting for a response from him. She had expected a response to follow since he took a deep breath. Nothing followed. She poked her head before him with a smile. “You are ignoring me?”
“Look here, woman!” Jerry growled in a loud tone. “If you don’t have anything good to do with your life other than disturb others, just bloody leave me alone.”
Toni sat back with a smile. “That was supposed to hurt me, right?”
Jerry sighed.
“Look man, we all have problems…no, I call them challenges, and we can’t overcome all of them truthfully. But, we are bigger than life and its challenges, we just have to find a way around them.” She said, standing up.
Jerry took a glance at her and then turned his face away remorsefully. “I am sorry.” He muttered.
Toni smiled. “I can’t hear you.”
Jerry stared at her and nodded. “Okay, I am sorry.”
“A little louder?” she asked with a grin.
Jerry smiled faintly. “I am sorry.”
“Take care.” She said and walked away.
Jerry took a deep breath as he watched her walk away. He’d be a fool not to get her name this time. He knew it. He hurried after her. “Hey!” he said catching up. “You walk fast, you know?”
Toni turned at him with a smile. “Apart from the fact that you walk faster or slower when you walk alone, I also left that spot before you so it is logical that I am a few steps ahead of you, don’t you think?”
Jerry smiled. “That’s interesting.”
“I am interesting.”
He laughed. “You are cocky.”
She raised an eyebrow. “I thought that term was more familiar with the male folks.” She replied as she started to walk.
“Oh well…eh, are you naturally this cool with everyone?”
Toni stopped. “I love people.”
“I mean, we should love our brothers as ourselves, but, you are so…so welcoming.”
Toni shrugged and continued to walk. “It is a way of life. Life is beautiful, it should be enjoyed with people. Why can’t we all just love each other?”
“You are clearly from another planet. People will mess you up if you trust them too much.” Jerry replied.
“Then you forgive, give people room to make mistakes.”
Jerry stopped. “Do you live by this ideology?”
She smiled.
“Of course, you do. I was nasty with you and you were amazing. It’s rare.” He replied. “Do you mind if we continue this conversation at Tunji’s Bar? It is just right around the corner. You could have water.” He said with a smile.
“Okay.”
Jerry pushed the door open and let Toni in. Tunji smiled as they took their seats at his table. “Interesting combo tonight.”
“Evening man. I would have a glass of-”
“-Water. He would have water and same with mine.” Toni interrupted.
Jerry stared at her. “Me? Water?”
Tunji smiled. “Yeah. Him? Water?” He asked, staring at Toni.
“Yeah. Water.” She replied.
Jerry rubbed his forehead. “Okay, water it is.”
“Smitten fool.” Tunji said with a smile as he turned to get the water.
Jerry stared at Toni. “I…I didn’t see that coming.”
“We don’t always see everything coming. Take for instance, eighty percent of girls that go out on dates with guys expect to get kissed at the end of the date but when the kiss eventually comes, they never see it coming.” She replied.
Jerry smiled. “Is that a tested theory?”
“Technically, it is my theory.” She replied.
He folded his arms. “How come I have never seen you around before?”
“You saw me yesterday.” She replied with a chuckle.
He nodded. “I know. I mean, like, I have not seen you around really…”
“I am stuck in between rooms.”
He stroked his beard. “What does that mean?”
“I am always indoor.”
James smiled. “Are you telling me that I am the first guy that you would be out with?”
Toni laughed. “Of course, not.”
“Tell me about you.” Jerry said.
Tunji dropped bottles of water on their table with a smile. “Enjoy…” he said and walked away.
“Now that I think of it, water will be saving us a lot of money.” He said.
Toni nodded. “You are doing better with your sense of humour.”
“Back to you, so, tell about you.” He said.
Toni folded her arms. “What’s there to know? Nothing….Actually, nothing.”
“Are you from Mars? Are your siblings aliens? Do you speak Mandarin?” Jerry asked.
She sipped her water. “Boring details. I live with my big sister and our parents are long dead.”
“I am so sorry.” Jerry said.
She finished her water. “It’s fine. I wish I knew them…anyway, let’s talk about you. What do you do?”
Jerry blinked. “What do I do?”
She nodded. “Yeah… for work.”
“Erm…I work in an investment bank.” He replied as he drank some water.
She sat back with a grin. “Investment banking? The last time I heard that, the guy turned out to be talking about a sperm bank…is that where you work?” she asked raising an eyebrow.
Jerry laughed. “Come on, can you be serious for like five seconds?”
Toni closed her eyes and counted one to five aloud. “Okay, serious moment is over. But really, what bank is that?”
“It’s a small microfinance bank. I am sure you won’t know it.” He said as he drank some more water.
Toni stared at him. “Do you really like water or do you drink water every time you tell a lie?”
“You are a mind reader too? Psychic?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Instincts.”
“Well, I work at a bank and that is that.” He replied defensively.
She sat up. “Bank jobs can be frustrating, so I think I understand your mood earlier on.”
“I thought you said you love people, why would you see it as frustrating?” James asked with a smile.
She drummed her fingers on the table. “Listen to this…A father loves his daughter, right?” James nodded. She nodded and continued “Good. If the father sees his child with sand in her mouth, does he like that? Obviously not. So, what does he do? He cleans her up. This doesn’t mean he didn’t love her even when the sand was in her mouth. It is just an ideology, man. People will hurt you, you just have to find your way around everything.” She concluded.
“You are something.” Jerry replied.
Toni took a deep breath and checked her wristwatch. “I’ll be on my way.”
“Wait, I didn’t get a name.”
She smiled and took steps away from him. “You never asked.”
Jerry sighed. “Please, what is your name?”
“Stranger.” She replied.
His shoulder fell. “Are you serious? I am Jerry. Tell me your name.”
“Stranger.” She replied.
He blinked. “Remember you love people, we should be friends.”
“We might as well be strangers.” She replied with a smile and walked out.
Jerry sighed as he sank into his seat. Tunji joined him immediately. “Still didn’t get a name?”
“Shut up, man.”
Tunji smiled. “Ladies like persistent guys, you should try harder…that is if you have get a next time.”
Jerry frowned. “Give me another glass of water.”
“Excuse me?” Tunji said as he looked around. “She is no longer here, Jerry.”
Jerry stared at him. “I just want some more water.”
Tunji laughed. “No, man, you are kidding me.”
“Are you going to give me or not?”
Tunji nodded with a smile. “Of course.”

***
Toni rushed downstairs as soon as she heard the dogs bark. Nora was back. She wouldn’t miss a detail of her sister’s date. “Nora.” She said with a smile.
Nora closed the door and approached the stairs with a sad face. “Good evening.”
Toni swirled as she watched her sister ascend the stairs. “Good evening? What happened to you? Did the police bust you?”
“That would have been better.” Nora replied as she stopped to stare at Toni coldly.
Toni blinked. “How…How is James?”
Nora smiled cynically. “James? Of course, you had to ask.”
Toni nodded. “Yeah. Why are you looking like this?”
“Don’t you get it, Toni?” Nora shouted. “It is always about you! When James is not talking about how I happen to live in a mansion when I work as a customer care representative, he is talking about you.”
Toni swallowed as she stepped back.
Nora pushed forward. “Oh…your sister is so gorgeous, she is so cute. Damn attractive…she is a stunner…every guy’s lady and blah blah blah…Does it always have to be about you, Toni?”
“Take it easy, Nora.” Toni replied.
Nora scowled. “Oh really??? Easy? Why would I take it easy when I don’t have anything…you have everything!” she said panting heavily.
Toni raised her eyebrow. “Everything?”
Nora wiped her tears. “For once, Toni, can you not always turn the guy I like from me? Please.” She said and walked away.
Toni took a deep breath.

Beatiful Stranger is written by @tomi_adesina; Author of Dear Future Husbandavailable for Free on African Stories. Follow @tomi_adesina on twitter for more thrilling stories.

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