By Nneka Ezealor
Dan wondered why he was sitting in this hall attending a family life seminar.
If I hadn’t promised Salma I’d come, I’d rather be home playing FIFA 13, he said to himself.
Even though she was out of town to see her parents, he knew she’d ask him for details when she returned and he didn’t want to have to lie. Salma was a good woman. He loved in a way he’d loved no other, and he was determined not to let her down in any way.
He scanned the room, looking at the others seated, listening attentively to the speaker as he doled out tips on love and relationships. He wondered what their reasons were for being there. There were mostly couples here, some with their children. And there were a couple of loners like himself. Maybe they were thinking the same thoughts as him. He smiled.
As he turned his gaze back to the speaker, he caught something out of the corner of his eye and stopped short. It was when she returned his look that he realized he had been staring. She smiled. It was a cute kind of smile. It started in her eyes, wrinkled up her cute, little nose before parting her lips to reveal perfect dentition.
He smiled back.
The next time he stole a glance, he caught her just as she was crossing her long, shapely legs, an action which caused her already short skirt to ride higher on her thigh.
Oh boy, eh! He exhaled deeply from his mouth as ran his index finger in the space between his neck and his shirt collar.
He cleared his throat reminding himself to focus. Besides, he and Salma were getting married in two months and he shouldn’t be looking at other women like this.
Well, I can look as long as I don’t touch, abi? So there!
He leaned back in his seat to get a better view of the fair skinned beauty seated in the adjacent row. Again, she caught his stare.
At the end of the seminar, he searched for her in the crowd and saw her, a couple of paces ahead of him, holding a child in each hand.
Dang! She’s married. With kids. That means “no show”.
He clenched his fists and headed for the exit.
He had parked at the far end of the parking lot as he had come in late. He turned his key in the lock, once again reminding himself to get the remote lock fixed, when he heard footsteps behind him.
“Hey, good afternoon.”
It was the fair skinned lady from the seminar. He swallowed hard.
“Hi, good afternoon. Interesting seminar, right?”
He smiled, extending his hand. She took it and he held on, noting how tender her skin felt in his hand.
“Yes. I like his views on love and relationships. I can’t wait for the next session.”
He tried hard to keep his eyes on her face, but his eyes still kept gravitating towards her full bosom.
“Yeah, me too. Um, I’m Dan. Dan Akande. I’m an accountant.”
He didn’t know why he said the “accountant” part.
“Okay. I’m Kate Osifo. Businesswoman. I can learn a few accounting tips from you, eh?
She laughed heartily, her plum colored lipstick drawing his attention to her lips and dentition.
“Oh, by the way…” she said as she fished around in her clutch purse for something. She pulled out a business card and handed it to him. “My card, please come shop with us when next your buying gifts for your Mrs.”
Dan nearly told her he wasn’t married, but Salma’s smiling face chose that moment to flash before his mind’s eye.
“Sure. I will. Enjoy the rest of your day.”
“I will. You too.”
He eyes drank in every detail of her behind as she walked away and he swore between his teeth.
Later that night, he held the business card in one hand, and his glass of Bailey’s in the other, wondering whether he should give her a call and what he would say. His ringing phone brought him out of his reverie. It was Salma.
“Hey, babe! Please tell me you’re coming back tonight.” He smiled as her laughter tinkled from the other end. He reclined in his chair as they continued their conversation.
* * *
His phone beeped just as he hit the Print tab on his computer screen. He picked it up to check as he stood up to go get the documents from the printer on the other table. Whoa! It was the reminder he had set for the second session of the family life seminar. And it was tomorrow! He would see Kate. He did a little dance. She had been the object of his dreams and fantasies every night since that day.
Dan didn’t hear a word of what was said at the seminar that day. His eyes darted to and fro, searching every row. He didn’t see her. He changed his seat twice to get a better view of the exits in case she came in late. Yet, there was no sign of her. He endured till the very end of the seminar and he rushed to his car took her card out of his wallet and dialed her number. It rang continuously and she didn’t pick. He dialed again and she answered on the first ring.
“Hello. Good evening.” Her voice sounded tired.
“Hello, Miss, em, Mrs. Kate. It’s me, Dan Akande. We met…” Dan started to explain, but she cut in.
“Yes, Dan, I remember you. How are you?”
“I’m fine. I, em… we didn’t see you at the seminar today. Were you busy?”
“No. I’m in the hospital. My son came down with a stomach infection. We’ve been here for four days now.”
“Oh my, that sounds bad. What hospital are you in?”
She told him. Dan said he would come see them immediately. He asked her if there was anything they needed. She said a nice hot meal wouldn’t be a bad idea. He asked what she would like to eat then stopped at Jevinik’s and Shoprite before going to the hospital.
Over the next few weeks, they talked for hours every day on the phone and saw a couple of times. Kate told Dan had been widowed a year and a half ago and had just started to get back on her feet. She had married Chief Osifo at a very young age. He had spotted her during one of his philanthropic visits to her school and what started out as a keen interest in a bright young student soon blossomed into love and then marriage. Chief was very good to her. She was his second marriage and he kept her well away from his first family. He died of a kidney disease, however, he had left a comfortable fortune in his will for her and the children.
One Saturday evening, they sat together on the grass at Rivervale Park, talking about everything and nothing in particular, nibbling on some snacks as they watched the shadows lengthen all around them. Impulsively, Dan leaned over and kissed her. That she hadn’t been with a man for a long while showed in the way she responded hungrily and passionately.
“Can we take this someplace else?” Dan asked already knowing what her response would be.
“Yes, but my kids are home and…”
“Let’s go to my place, then.” He grabbed her hand and helped her up from the blanket on the grass.
Two hours later, Dan woke up. The side of the bed where she had lain was empty, but her scent still hung lightly in the air.
Where was she? Had she left? He sat up sharply and grinned like a Chesire cat as he spotted her black sandals by the bed. Just then, the door swung open and she came in bearing a tray. From the aroma that wafted across, he knew she had made his favorite… noodles!
“Hey, I thought I should fix you something, but all I could find in the kitchen were packs of noodles and some eggs.”
“Yes o. The food of champions! Thank you.”
She cleared the bedside table of two weeks’ worth of old newspapers before setting the tray down on it. She sat on the edge of the bed, took his hand and smiled again.
When will I tell her about Salma?
He had taken Salma’s picture off the headboard and quickly shoved her things lying around into the closet before he had let Kate into the room.
“I could go grocery shopping for you tomorrow.” She said, breaking his train of thoughts as she moved from the edge of the bed to sit cross-legged opposite him
“Ah, no. I was going to do that tomorrow. Don’t stress yourself, angel face. Let me devour this feast you have set before me, so we can get you home before your children start worrying where I’ve taken you off to.”
“Yes, that’s true. I almost forgot.” Then, placing a hand on his knee, she added, “I just wish I could stay.”
Dan put the last forkful of Indomie in his mouth and swallowed it quickly. He drank all the juice in one gulp. She moved to take the tray back to the kitchen, but he took it from her and placed it on the bedside table.
“I wish you could stay, too. What do you say we take one for the road then?”
He didn’t wait for an answer. His lips muted her words as they fell back onto the bed.
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