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“Thank you for coming.”
Bobby looked at Ese but kept a blank face.
He made his way past her and into the room. The two girls ran to him and he was slightly surprised. Anita would usually have stayed back. He gave them his best smile and hugged them both.
“Uncle you bought ice cream?” Anita asked
“Yes dear, I did.”
He set the bags he brought on the dining table and went to greet Ese’s mum who was seated in the living room. Every other person soon gathered around in the living room and Ese brought plates and set out all that Bobby had bought before them. Not only had he bought the cake and ice cream, he’d bought chicken suya as well.
Ese tried to eat and be happy like her daughters and her mother but everything kept getting stuck in her throat. Bobby had responded coolly to her greeting and he was being totally indifferent to her, acting like she was not there. He joked with the girls, tickled them all over the place and let them rub ice cream on his nose.
Bobby spent close to two hours with them before finally getting up to leave but not without a promise to return the following day and take the girls to Wonderland. They had bugged him until he said yes. Ese walked him to his car and he made to get into it immediately but she held his arm.
Bobby turned and faced her
“Shutting you out.”
Bobby raised an eyebrow
“I see. So it was deliberate?”
He cut her off.
“No. Don’t. All I have done is be nice to you since Gabe died. And suddenly you discover you’re older and you shut me out. You don’t take my calls, you never return them and suddenly you have a situation with your kids and you call me? So what am I? The guy you use only as convenient?”
Ese lowered her eyes.
“Bobby, please, don’t say that.”
“Really? I shouldn’t? Why? Does the truth hurt you?”
His tone was even but Ese could tell he was really hurt. His words were like a stab to her conscience. It was true she was shutting him out but the age difference between them was not the only reason.
“It’s not just because I’m older Bobby. I just need to be able to get through this by myself.”
Bobby looked at her like she was a six year old trying to feel smart.
“I see. Then why did you text me tonight?”
“Because I needed you.”
He hadn’t expected her to be that honest but still, he wouldn’t let her off easy.
“I really don’t get you. So when you need me, you call me and when you don’t you ignore me. Interesting.”
“No, Bobby, that’s not it.”
“Really? So explain to me what it is.”
Ese didn’t know how to voice her feelings without hurting him some more so she simply kept quiet.
“Aren’t you gonna answer me?”
“Bobby, it’s not that simple.”
He shook his head.
“Don’t try to play around Ese. It is simple. Nothing is ever complicated unless you want it to be. So tell me in simple terms why you’ve been avoiding me the last couple of weeks especially after finding out that you’re older than I am.”
Ese sighed and eventually she looked up.
“Bobby, are you attracted to me?”
Bobby did not even blink.
“What if I am?”
Teni walked casually towards the piano lounge at Transcorp Hilton. She was excited about seeing Kachi again after so long but she was doing her best to contain it. She scanned through the various people in the lounge and soon enough she spotted him. He was lost in his phone. As soon as she got closer though, he turned and saw her. He lifted his lanky frame off the chair immediately and covered the distance between them in seconds. He wrapped Teni in a warm embrace and without warning tried to lift her up. Teni squealed.
“Stop! Stop it!”
Kachi only smiled and tickled her sides.
“Great to see you bae! I don miss you scatter.”
Teni laughed and smoothened her long top that she’d worn over leggings.
“Shey you will not lose all these your theatrics abi?”
Kachi laughed and took her hand.
“You know you missed me too. Why are you fronting?”
She shook her head and followed him to take a seat.
“What are you gonna have? Their cocktails here are pretty lovely.”
Teni shook her head.
“Naah. I don’t feel like drinking anything. I’m just tired. I had a really long day.”
“Oh? Sorry dear. What can I get you then? Dinner?”
“Yeah. That sounds good.”
“Uh, in that case, let’s go up to my room and I’ll have them bring dinner up so we can talk.”
Teni nodded and stifled a yawn as she got up.
“Shey you’re sleeping here tonight.”
Teni laughed. She couldn’t even help herself
Kachi took her hand as they walked to the elevators.
“You’re tired nau and by the time we finish catching up it’ll be too late for you to drive back.”
“Kachi, I don’t know. Make we reach first.”
He nodded and pushed the elevator button. Within a couple of minutes, they were in his room.
Teni threw herself on the big bed and made herself comfortable.
“So what’s the big gist you had for me?”
Kachi sat on the edge of the bed.
“Not yet. You go first. Tell me about your day.”
“Ah. It was mostly work o. I have an interesting director. The guy seems to nearly always be on his period. I don tire for that place. I need a new job.”
Kachi laughed in his usual easy manner.
“Where do you want to work?”
“I’m not sure yet. But accounting don tire me. The work is boring and routine. I need something different.”
“Okay. I have a friend that’s looking for someone to help him manage one of his hotels here in Abuja. Would you like to do that?”
Teni laughed and shook her head.
“Just like that? Abegi!”
“Babe, I’m serious o. Except you’re not serious about changing jobs.”
Teni sat up and narrowed her eyebrows.
“Yeah. The meeting I had earlier today, my friend just mentioned it and I told him I didn’t know anyone who would immediately fit but I think you’d do great. You’ve got great managerial skills and your diverse work experience should help.”
“Kachi, don’t get my hopes up o.”
Kachi didn’t answer her. He pulled out his phone from his pocket instead and scrolled through his contacts till he found the number he was looking for.
“Hello Charly? I think I just found someone for you o. She’s my best friend and she’s really great. I’ll forward her CV to you so you can check it out and let me know what you think… Yeah, I didn’t realize she was looking for a new job until now. Alright man, thanks. I’ll still send her CV to you before the weekend is over. Take care.”
Teni looked at him disbelievingly.
“You just made that up jor. It wasn’t a real call.”
Kachi laughed and got off the bed.
“Babe, Jesus didn’t die for you to have so little faith o.”
Teni threw a pillow at him and it hit him in the back.
“Instead of you to be thanking me, you’re throwing me pillow. Okay o. I’ll just retract the offer.”
She eyed him.
“Yeye! What did he say jor?”
“Oh, now you’re interested? Thought you said the call was a fluke?”
Kachi picked a bottle of water from the fridge and smiled.
“He said he’ll take you based on my recommendation but we’ll forward your CV to him and you’ll meet up with him for an interview. The hotel is falling apart and he’s looking for a miracle worker otherwise he’ll have to close it down.”
He put the bottle to his lips and took a few gulps.
Teni got off the bed and hugged him.
“Thanks Kachi. Really! You’re crazy sometimes but you’re really everything a best friend is supposed to be.”
Kachi had a silly smirk on his face.
“You’re supposed to give me a kiss to show your appreciation, instead you’re giving me a half done hug.”
Teni slapped his arm and walked back to the bed.
“No be only kiss. Dey there dey wait.”
Kachi dropped the bottle and walked back to the bed.
“So are you seeing anyone now?”
She shook her head.
“Nopes! Nothing serious. I’ve been out a few times with one Benjamin guy like that and he’s already forming husband.”
Kachi threw his back on the bed and laughed really hard.
Teni looked amused
“Yeye pikin! What’s so funny?”
“You haven’t changed. I thought you would have calmed down on all this your activity but apparently not.”
“Activity ke? I didn’t give you a tough time when we dated, so what are you talking about?”
“No. Not me. We dated while we were still in school and you were still naïve but as soon as you caught small sense, you became evil.”
Teni threw him a punch that caught him full in the stomach and he ducked
“You’re a liar jor! What does that even mean?”
“Ouch! And you still throw punches like a man!”
He grabbed her and tried to twist her arms but she anticipated his move and locked both arms. They wrestled for a while on the bed and Teni finally gave up.
“Stop Kachi! We’re not kids anymore.”
He smiled and moved strands of hair from her face then kissed her forehead.”
“No, you’re a thirty two year old woman and I’m a thirty four year old man but we’re kids at heart.”
Teni smiled and got off the bed. Kachi was right. He was the only guy she could ever really be at ease with.
Their meal arrived just then and Kachi set the plates on the bed.
“So, tell me about this Benjamin guy.”
“Omo, the guy is random o. We met at Ceddi plaza on Val’s day. He dropped his phone in my bag and kept calling me till we met up. Long story short. He’s the typical male element that I find extremely annoying. Imagine him calling me on my way to the airport this evening and sounding all overbearing when I said I wouldn’t see him today coz I was going to the airport and then meeting up with my best friend later. Like ‘oh, you didn’t tell me about it’ and some other such BS. Abeg!”
Kachi laughed and nearly choked on his potatoes.
“You no go kill me. Wetin carry you go airport sef?”
“My neighbour o! An interesting woman with an interesting story. Men are such douchebags, I swear!”
“Ouch. Considering I’m a man and your best friend, that’s not a very nice thing to say.”
“No be so jare. You’re one of the very few guys that have sense.”
She proceeded to share Tejiri’s sad story. By the time she was done, Kachi was up standing and staring at her with cold empty eyes.
“I tell you! Crazy right?”
“Teni, Tejiri is my ex-wife.”