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“Guy that was completely messed up! What on earth did you do that for?”
Jakes ignored Kayode and sipped his drink calmly. Kayode kept staring at him until finally he spoke.
“Na wa for you o. I talk true and all of a sudden una wan chop my head. I lie?”
“She was here man. You would have at least shown some respect. She’s a hard worker.”
“Did I say she wasn’t? I actually pointed that out.”
“But you didn’t have to put down the entire women folk na.”
“Women hate each other. They’re constantly putting each other down.”
“It was wrong Jakes. Accept that for once you goofed. Haba!”
Jakes turned his attention back to his bottle
Kayode shook his head. His phone began to ring again and he got up.
“That’s my cousin. I really need to run, I’m sure she’s at my place already. Tell Bobby I’ve gone and abeg, apologize to Teni if she comes back. Don’t be a douche.”
He picked the phone and walked away to where his car was parked. Having reassured the person on the other end of the line that he was on his way, he hung up, got into his car and drove off.
Twenty minutes later and Kayode was parked in front of his house. He met an irate Kate standing outside his door. She had a totally pissed off look on her face and Kayode sighed. He was in no mood to deal with another pissed off stubborn female.
“You know you’d look a lot nicer if you wore a smile.”
He walked past her and up to his door and fiddled with the key.
“I’m not even in your mood this night. Please open the door, I want to go and crash.”
The door opened and Kayode led the way in. Kate walked right through the living room and into the only bedroom. She pulled the sheets off and sent all of Kayode’s scattered clothes flying to the ground. Kayode ignored her and turned on the TV instead. He knew the couch would be his space for the night. Kate was such a bully.
Soon, she had the bed looking neat and tidy and all of Kayode’s things stacked in one corner of the room.
“Every time I’m always cleaning up after you. What is your problem?”
Kayode pretended not to have heard her and turned up the volume of the TV instead.
Kate changed into one of his big t-shirts, put on her leggings and walked out to the living room. She stood in front of him, blocking his view of the tv.
“What is it? I swear you keep acting like you’re my girlfriend! Abeg comot for that screen jare. I no dey watch you.”
Kate hissed and sat down sulking
“I’m just tired of all of you. I got home and mumcee was nagging about what Ben did and didn’t do. I called Ben and that one just went off on me as if I’m the reason he isn’t married. After chasing all those small girls up and down, he can’t now find wife to marry…”
Bobby rubbed his forehead. How was any of this his business?
“So… your point is?”
Kate eyed him viciously
“My point is, I couldn’t deal with any of their madness tonight so I decided to come crash at your place. Why is your room so disorganized sef?”
“Because I’m a guy. I don’t feel the need to clean up except I’m having some hot girl over. Please just leave your theatrics behind. I’m tired and I need to sleep.”
He took off his shirt and slung it over the couch then lay down with his head over a throw pillow. Kate shook her head. She got up, retrieved the shirt and took it to the room. She returned a few seconds later.
“Ehen, I met that your gay friend today o.”
Kayode sat up immediately.
“Your friend, the one that is gay. I met him today.”
“Which of them?”
“Na wa for you o. So you’re just packing gay friends up and down abi? Bobby nau. The one that works with the consultancy firm. He came to do some work with my office and my boss paired us up for the project.”
“Ah! I don’t think Bobby is gay o. At least not anymore.”
“What do you mean you don’t think he’s gay? Are you not the one that was swearing on your life that he was gay, the day you talked about him at my party?”
“Yeah. I thought so. But now, he seems to have picked an interest in a couple of women.”
“Abegi! Cover up. I don’t like him already. He’s not even fine sef. He was now forming one kind of mumu attitude for me today; telling me to lose my plastic look and some rubbish like that.”
Kayode burst out laughing. That was so Bobby!
“Actually, I don’t get why you wear so much make up. It doesn’t suit you.”
“Oh please! Don’t bring your own and join o.”
Kayode could not help himself. He continued laughing and fanning himself.
“Ah. You like him. I can tell.”
Kate raised her brows.
“What’s worrying this one? What are you smoking?”
“You’re in denial baby!”
“You’re not well.”
“Yes, I am. People always complain about your loud makeup and your attitude in general. It has never bothered you until now.”
“Who says I’m bothered? I was simply telling you I met your gay friend-”
“Who I clearly just explained isn’t gay. And you said he’s not so fine which is a lie ladies tell themselves to deny their attraction to some guy.”
Kate got off the couch and stalked off into the room. Kayode had a good time laughing to his heart’s content. Kate was easy to troll. He knew she didn’t like Bobby. He just enjoyed trolling her and she had walked right into this one easily.
Ese tossed and turned on her bed that night. The weather was hot and she was tired. It had been a long day. She checked the time on her phone; 10:30pm. It was too late to go and turn on the gen. The light must have gone while she was asleep and now that she was awake, she was finding it hard going back to sleep. She sighed and finally got off the bed. She walked to the kitchen and returned a little later with biscuits and a hot cup of Milo. That was meant to help her sleep in spite of the heat. It was frustrating being this way. She thought of calling Bobby but as quickly as the thought came, she discarded it.
She recalled the conversation she had with her mother only a few weeks ago. Her mother had noticed that she and Bobby kept going back and forth.
“If you’re not going to settle with this man, stop toying with his emotions.”
Ese sighed. Her mother just would not get it.
“I’m not toying with his emotions mum. I told him we can’t have any meaningful relationship but he said he’s attracted to me but he won’t act on it. He just wants to come around because of the girls and be sure we’re fine.”
“Shey you can hear yourself? Are you a child? A man likes you but you’re not interested in dating him, then you will allow him keep making emotional investments into you. Is that fair?”
“Let him go. Don’t hold on to him like that. You’re a very easy woman to fall in love with. If you’re not going to give Bobby a chance to love you, then don’t bait him.”
And that was how Ese gradually distanced herself from Bobby. She sighed again. They had not spoken in almost two weeks. She missed him, no doubt but she knew she couldn’t. The girls were all she had. She wanted to devote her time and energies to nurturing them and loving them. There was no room for any extra person.
She took the last gulp of Milo and dropped the cup then climbed into bed. Tomorrow she would send a text just checking up on him. She would keep it simple.
Bobby felt only a little awkward having Teni lean into him the way she did. Jakes was such an idiot but that was unusual. Jakes was usually the nice guy. It was very rare to hear him say anything out of line. He took a deep breath and ran his hands over Teni’s hair. He felt the bumps that told him she had a weave-on tucked in somewhere in her hair. It made him think of Kate and her natural hair. He longed to run his fingers through her hair and feel its thickness.
“I didn’t hear from you for the longest time after the accident. How are the girls?”
Teni’s voice jolted him back to the present. He liked the sound of her voice. It had a rough texture, a little coarse nothing musical or feathery.
“Mmm? They’re alright I guess.”
Her head was still nuzzled in his chest.
“You guess? When last did you see them and their mum?”
“Actually been a while. We haven’t spoken so much.”
Teni raised her head.
“She didn’t forgive you?”
“She did. It’s just that things became a little weird after that and I decided to just let it go.”
Teni looked thoughtful and she raised her eyebrow.
“Hmmn. What’s your story? You guys have history?”
Bobby wasn’t sure he wanted to go into a conversation about Ese.
“If you’re asking if we were dating at any point, the answer is no.”
“Hmmn. Okay o.”
Bobby could sense the disbelief in her response.
“You think I’m lying?”
Teni shook her head.
“Nope! I just know there’s a lot you aren’t telling.”
Bobby laughed. She was smart.
“Maybe it’s coz I don’t feel like telling.”
Teni grinned triumphantly
“See? I knew there was a story there.”
Bobby laughed some more.
Bobby shook his head.
“No story jor. What about you and your boyfriend that was with you that day? I’m sure he must be proud of you and what you’ve done with this place. What’s your own story?”
A shadow fell over Teni’s eyes for the briefest second. It was a flash of hurt that was gone as soon as it appeared but Bobby caught it.
“There’s no story there.”
“Ah. Now you lie.”
Teni laughed and hit him.
“No! I never lie.”
“Naah. You just did. Everyone lies at some point or the other.”
Teni laughed but did not reply. She was too tired to engage in another argument.
Bobby watched her and decided he would not question further. There was definitely something between her and Kachi but he was not going to ask. It was not his business. He let her relax in his arms again and continued stroking her hair absent-mindedly. He was surprised when she spoke up a little while later.
“Kachi and I are best friends but we kinda had a fall out and he hasn’t spoken to me since then.”
There was silence between them for a bit before Teni spoke up again.
“Aren’t you gonna ask for details?”
Bobby made a sound that was somewhere between a grunt and a snort. Ask for details? It did not concern him. But he could sense that she wanted to talk so he decided to indulge her.
“I figured if you were going to tell me then you would. I didn’t think it was necessary to pry.”
“Really? Oh well. We’re best friends but he got mad at me for suggesting that he be my baby daddy.”
Bobby raised his head sharply and Teni withdrew hers from his chest. He burst into uncontrollable laughter and took quite some time to get himself together.
“Hold up, so some guy gets the opportunity to sleep with you and he passes it up? Amazing!”
“No jor. Not like that.”
Bobby sat away from her and folded his arms.
“Alright then. Explain it to me. Suddenly I’m very interested in this your story.”
Teni rubbed her hand over tired eyes and stifled a yawn.
“It’s a long story. Summary is, I want to have a kid but I want to do an IVF procedure. I needed him to be my sperm donor and he got mad simply coz he assumed I did not care about him.”
Bobby looked confused. She wasn’t making sense.
“Wait. This is just crazy. First off, why a sperm donor? Why not follow the natural process? And then why did it surprise you that he assumed you did not care about him? You were going to use him to make a baby and there would have been nothing in it for him.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Ha. Did I lie?”
“You don’t know the full story and you’re judging me.”
“No Teni, I’m not judging you. I’m only giving you feedback based on what you just said’”
“You won’t understand. It’s a little complicated.”
“It really isn’t my business o. You don’t need to explain yourself to me.”
“He’s actually my ex.”
Bobby chuckled slightly.
“You women are wonderful. From best friend to ex.”
Teni ignored him and continued.
“We dated while in school then split up when he was about graduating coz he was supposed to leave the country. We were both hurt but somehow we got over it and became best friends. He kept globetrotting, I kept getting my heart broken until finally we both decided that marriage was not for either of us.
He came back to Nigeria a few months ago and we started hanging out. I had already made up my mind on the IVF procedure but I did not have a donor in mind. Now when we kept hanging out regularly, I thought we might have something together but he seemed totally opposed to the idea. I did not want to risk making things awkward between us by asking for a relationship so I thought it would be alright to have him as my sperm donor instead. Next thing I knew, he was accusing me of being selfish and asking if that was all he was good for. I honestly thought he was kidding so I jokingly replied yes. Next thing I know, we’re having this huge fight and he’s telling me he’s going back to Dubai and I haven’t heard from him since then.”
Bobby nodded thoughtfully.
“Hmmn. I see.”
“Yeah. That’s pretty much it.”
“Do you want my honest opinion?”
Teni looked a little uncertain
“If you really cared about him, you should have told him. Guys are very proud. You can’t ask him to donate his sperm to you and expect him to jump at the idea. It would feel like he was being used.”
“Bobby, sex between us would have made things a whole lot more complicated. You don’t get it. I don’t want to get married or get stuck with one guy who will hurt me in the future. I just want to be by myself with my kid.”
“So you think this Kachi guy would hurt you?”
“I dunno. I’m not sure.”
“I think you’re just really scared. It’s not as though you do not want to get married. You’re just scared of getting hurt. But here’s the truth. You must learn to face your fears. Everyone will hurt you; whether friends, lovers or family, people will hurt you. You just have to decide who is really worth it.”
“Love guru. No one is worth it jor. I’m tired.”
Bobby looked at her and smiled.
“You’re lying to yourself but certainly not to me. Kachi is worth it and you know it. Better find his number and give him a call.”
Bobby got up and dusted his trousers.
“I need to be on my home. I’m sorry for Jakes’ misconduct tonight.”
Teni smiled and got up as well.
“It’s alright. Thank you for staying here with me anyways.”
He gave her a quick hug and walked away.
Teni sat down after he was gone. She knew he was right. She cared about Kachi. Maybe she was even in love with him. She clutched her stomach. She was experiencing the weirdest sensation ever. Yes, she was in love with Kachi! Teni laughed out loud. She reached for her phone that was just beside her. Her heart was racing and her fingers weren’t really cooperating but she forced them to scroll through and find Kachi’s contact. Her phone froze for a second in that instant and started ringing. Kachi was calling her! Teni gasped and slid her thumb across the screen.
“Madam! How far?”
Teni put her hand over her chest as though to steady her rapidly beating heart.
“Kachi, I was just about to call you! I miss you!”
Kachi’s laughter floated through the line. He sounded excited.
“Na so. If I didn’t call you now I know I wouldn’t have heard from you.”
“Haba Kachi, that’s not true!”
“It’s okay o madam hotel manager! I love what you’ve done with the place. Where are you sef? I’m at your front desk. Show ya sef.”
Teni screamed in excitement and Kachi laughed.
“Don’t deafen me jor. Show up here already.”
He hung up and Teni scrambled to her feet. Kachi was back! She was going to smack his head first for running off then tell him she was madly in love with him. Of course he had to feel the same way too. Why else would he return? She laughed as she tried to stop herself from skipping all the way to the front desk. See what Kachi had done to her. He brought out the baby in her.
Teni eventually got to the front doors. She took a deep breath to steady herself and then walked right in. As she approached the front desk, her steps involuntarily slowed down. Kachi was there alright. But he was there with some other lady. The lady, whoever she was clung to Kachi’s arm like her life depended on it and was laughing at something Kachi was saying. Teni felt the tears well up in her eyes but she suppressed them and bit her lip in an attempt to calm down. Before she could fully gather herself, Kachi swung around and their eyes met. She caught the mischievous glint in them as he smiled.
He left the lady and came to give her a warm hug but Teni stiffened her body.
“How are you darling?”
“I’m fine thanks. Long day, really tired.”
Kachi seemed to note the jealousy in her eyes. He also seemed to be enjoying her discomfort.
“Sorry dear. I’d like you to meet Isioma. We flew in from Lagos this evening. We’d like to take a room here.”
Teni forced herself to put on her brightest smile and she stretched her hand out to the lady who looked really classy.
“Hi, I’m Teni.”
Isioma smiled back and shook her hand warmly.
“Nice to meet you dear.”
Teni looked at the girl at the front desk
“I’m sure you can sort them out. Give them the best suite we have then get the guys at the bar to send up a bottle of champagne and ice, all on the house.”
She turned to Kachi and smiled sweetly.
“You don’t need to pay for the room. Usually you’d stay at the Hilton but since you have chosen to grace us with your presence here tonight, it’ll be my pleasure to host you. Please call the front desk if you need anything.”
Kachi looked at her oddly. She could tell she had taken him by surprise.
“Uhh, thanks. We appreciate.”
Isioma smiled and put her arms around Kachi again.
“Yep. Have a good night guys.”
Teni turned around quickly and took the elevator to the pent house. As soon as she got into her room, she grabbed her car keys and purse and walked out. She took the elevator down to the reception and used a back door to exit the building. She could not bear to see Kachi again.
She got to her car and got in. She turned off her phone then started the car and drove off. Her heart was beating furiously in her chest and she was crying. Kachi had not come back because he loved her. He came back to revenge and flaunt some stupid woman in her face. Teni let the tears pour endlessly. She did not even try to stop them.
As she approached the Dantata bridge where she would turn, she noticed a car coming towards her with just one light. The driver was not supposed to be on that lane. Before Teni would figure out what to do, the car came fully into view and she realized too late that it was a trailer. Teni did not get a chance to scream or pray. She tried to swerve to the right but she did not make it in time. The trailer ran into her side and sent her car spinning off the road. The last image Teni saw was Kachi and Isioma laughing at her front desk and then she blacked out.
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