It was the day before her trip to London with Tayo. Dapo had not been able to get a visa so fast. He was to join them the minute the British embassy approved of his trip.
Lade was out of the house with Tayo to get her things. Leticia was helping Toni pack a bag while Toni spread out on the floor, going through Andre’s Twitter timeline. She had just discovered it under a different name. He had quite a following but he followed only a few people and she was one of them. It was through his cryptic tweets she realized what he felt for her was deep and he was only looking out for her safety.
He spoke about his feelings in an obscure way only she could understand. He talked about the love they made and how he didn’t want it to happen again if she was going to walk away from him. He insisted that he wanted her all to himself.
Toni couldn’t handle the unease his messages brought, hence she occupied herself with replying emails to fans of High Mistress. She was getting complaints about her infrequency in putting up new posts. All she could do was apologize. In the past she mostly shared her experiences, telling stories about the sugar daddies she hung with. These days there were hardly any men in her life. Was she to talk about her little drama with Andre who had succeeded in having a hold over her emotions? Or how she had dumped Mark in the most heartless manner just a couple of hours ago?
She recalled his question after she had hopped off his body during a make out session like he disgusted her.
“Did we just almost have sex again?”
Toni set fire to a cigarette between her lips. Mark’s question was to be left unanswered; she was in no mood to talk. She had just almost had sex with him for the third time in six days. The manner was always the same. She would call him, they would meet in some place, make out and then she would abruptly leave, refusing any form of communication afterward until she so desired.
Mark seemed to be tired of the behavior.
“Toni, what’s going on between us?” he asked, sitting up.
Toni got off the bed and went about the room in search of her clothes. She ignored his question.
“Am I talking to somebody here?”
She slipped her hand into a gold bracelet she picked off the floor.
“What?!” She spun around.
“What’s going on? I don’t understand what we have here. I feel like you’re tired of me, having gotten what you wanted from me.”
“What are you talking about?”
Mark lowered his head and when he lifted it, he began to laugh mirthlessly. “Oh, I’m such an idiot. Toni, you used me to get your revenge back at Nkechi and to buy into DFL?”
Toni picked her dress off the floor.
“No, you’re wrong. I wasn’t getting back at Nkechi. I was getting back at you.”
“So, there’s really nothing between us?”
“You actually thought there was?”
Surprise came to Mark’s face.
“You have the balls to be shocked Mark! You fucked my life up!” Toni shouted, her emotions going full throttle. “You left me in a mess! I tried to kill myself twice because of you! YOU FUKCED ME UP!”
“And yet, somehow you think I came back into your life because by some means I still have feelings for you?! Are you brain dead or what?! After all you did to me?! You think I’d care if you ended up dead in a gutter somewhere?! Fuck you, Mark!”
She moved towards him. “I came back to settle scores. And the sex we had was solely for my pleasure. You don’t do it for me anymore, Ebute.”
She ran her open palm over his face. “Revenge is sweet, though. I can’t tell you how I’m feeling right now.”
Holding his chin up, she kissed him. In his eyes, she saw his heart breaking, and some old part of her that was probably clinging to the memories they shared wanted to reach out to him but she shut it down.
“You sha did this to yourself.”
She walked into the bathroom. Alone with her thoughts, she fell apart.
This is not you, Toni. Revenge is not you.
The words were Leticia’s, told to her a while back when they casually spoke about Mark. She cautioned her against doing anything to hurt him.
Because you’ll be hurting yourself.
That was what she felt presently. A deep sense of pain. And it wasn’t actually about what she was doing to Mark; it had everything to do with Andre and what he had said to her.
But why do I care what that French man thinks?
Andre had apologized to her again via Whatsapp, over his utterances, but Toni was unresponsive. It wasn’t that she hadn’t forgiven him; it was that she had forgiven him so easily. That was the basis for her anger through the week. She was mad at herself and had used Mark as the unfortunate receptacle on which she unleashed that anger.
She wore her clothes and left the bathroom. Mark was not in the bedroom. She found him in the sitting room, dressed up as she was. They were in the house he had gotten and decorated to commemorate the relationship they once had. The huge frame that held the photo of both of them taken in a photo cubicle in London hung over him.
She looked at him. The sadness in his eyes as he stared back at her affected her but just for a second.
“I’m still here, Toni. I never stopped loving you. My marriage with Nkechi is almost over. She’s happy to get rid of me; says I should keep the kids. She wants her single life back. I guess it makes it easier now for her to jump from one man to another.”
Toni remembered Andre’s words and wondered if she was any different from Nkechi.
“My other partner and I, together with our lawyers, will be available in a week’s time to have you sign the papers to officially become a partner at DFL. And then I was thinking about that other thing you said.”
“About DFL and Covet becoming one. You think that would ever work?”
Toni unleashed a rare smile. “Like hell it will!”
“Then maybe we should start talking about it, work out hypothetical modalities, talk to business experts…”
“Sure. Thank you for considering,” Toni replied politely. She didn’t stop him when he kissed her. It was to be their last intimate session with each other. She felt she owed him that one thing.
Thinking back now, she wondered if she had been too callous with him.
“Girls, who or what is a prostitute?” she asked. She and Leticia were not the only ones in her room. Their neighbor with the two kids from different fathers was there as well.
“It depends on who is asking,” Leticia answered and there was laughter.
“If a guy says to you ‘you’re no different from a prostitute’ what does that mean?”
“Ah. Babe, if a guy tells you that, it means he really thinks you’re a hoe,” the mother of two answered. She called herself Daisy. Nobody knew her real name or where she was from.
Toni didn’t like her answer. She rephrased. “If you keep a sugar daddy, are you a prostitute?”
Daisy replied in the negative. “Being with a sugar daddy is basically being in a relationship,” she added. “You’re with one man, you don’t sleep with others, you give him everything his wife gives him – and more, and you take care of all his needs. That is nowhere near prostitution. It’s a marriage without the ring.”
“Tish, you echo her thoughts?”
Leticia was quiet.
“To me, it’s the same thing. Any type of relationship where sex and money are exchanged is prostitution. Simple.”
“How can you say that?” Daisy attacked her.
“I’ve said my own. Me I’m done with that life. I’m looking for a man I can have all to myself. Following men with wives shortens your life. Forget the money. It’s not worth it.”
A call came in for Toni. It was work related. She disappeared into the bathroom to attend to it. When she returned some minutes later, Leticia and Daisy were talking about sex. It was their favorite topic, both of them being unapologetic nymphomaniacs. Most times they left her cringing with the details they shared. Today, Daisy was talking about blowjobs. Her present man seemed to like too much of it.
“I’m tired!” Daisy complained. “Fuck, you no go fuck. You’ll just be shoving my head down there. The prick sef, fat has swallowed most of it and his pot belly will not be letting me see road. And there’s just pubic hair everywhere!”
Leticia laughed. “I feel your pain, aunty. Been there.”
“And the idiot will always insist on cumming on my face. The other day, it was all up in my Bohemian fa. You don’t want to know what it takes to remove spunk from a weave. Fool will be telling me it’s good for my skin. In the beginning sef he used to ask me to swallow until I warned him. He was like ‘baby, you don’t want it? It’s good protein.’ And I told him, ‘oga, you sef nourish yourself with it.’”
Leticia had abandoned her activity and gone into a fit of laughter. Toni merely shook her head. Daisy continued her griping until Leticia dropped the bomb that Toni didn’t give blowjobs. Daisy put the brakes on her story and looked at Toni as if she had committed some crime.
“I’m just not putting my mouth on something that I don’t know where it’s been. And in all fairness, I don’t expect head either.”
“You’re just strange, Toni. So you’ll tell the guy you’re not doing and he’ll agree? Just like that?”
Toni smiled. “There’s a skill to getting any man to do what you want.”
“Na wa o. But why won’t you give head? Don’t you like it?”
Toni sighed. Daisy was annoying most times. “Didn’t I just explain? I just don’t do it. The last time I did it was nine years ago…”
“Not counting recently,” Leticia murmured. Toni eyed her, regretting why she gave details of her intimate sessions with Andre.
“That one was special.” Leticia winked.
“Who is the guy?” Daisy enquired.
“We’re so not telling.” Leticia giggled. Daisy frowned.
The power went out and all three ladies groaned.
“Fashola, I hate you!” Toni exclaimed. “Can’t believe I voted for this government. Urgh!”
“Only vote?” Leticia hissed. “You wanted to kill me with the change mantra. Sai Baba, Sai Baba up and down. One year on, you’re quiet.”
“You owe those of us that follow you on Twitter an apology.”
“You that muted me.”
“Are you people going to start this?” Daisy stood up and lifted her baby off Toni’s bed.
The tot was beginning to whine over the noise. Toni watched as Daisy placated her with kisses and a song until she began to smile. Toni got infected momentarily. Feelings of wanting to be a mother were invading her thoughts these days and she didn’t find it funny.
“You want to carry her?” Daisy asked, passing the little girl to Toni.
“No.” Toni walked out of the room. Daisy hurried after her.
“Toni, Tish told me DJ Xclusive is throwing a pajama party tonight. Can I follow you girls?”
Toni looked at her. The last time she invited her for a party, she had shown up almost nude.
“Make sure you wear classy clothes. This is a party for big boys. No titty show, no bum shorts.”
“It’s a pajama party, Toni.”
“Exactly. You’re wearing pajamas. Those long daddy ones.”
Daisy laughed. “Thank you!” she hugged Toni. Somehow, her baby ended up on her shoulder, clinging to her neck.
“Show some love, Toni.”
Daisy ambled away, leaving her with the child whom she carried to the sitting room. It took less than five minutes for thoughts of kissing and cuddling the girl to consume her. And she didn’t hold back.
“Andre, this is all your fault,” she groaned, speaking into the baby’s tummy. “You’ve messed up my system.”
It was just 11am on a Saturday morning and he was already intoxicated. His ringing phone wasn’t helping things by vibrating on his desk. It made him irritable.
His intercom buzzed too, adding to his ire.
“What?” he grunted into the intercom.
“Sir, Mrs. Adediran is here to see you.”
Raji straightened up and forced on a smart appearance. He smoothed down his shirt.
“Let her in,” he instructed his secretary.
Seconds later, the door opened and Christie walked in. Time stood still for him as his eyes went into hers and held them.
“Hi,” she greeted first.
He didn’t reply. He didn’t know where his voice ran off to.
She moved closer, bringing with her two gift bags held by both hands.
“I’m returning all the gifts you gave me,” she told him. His broken heart fell to pieces. “Thank you for all of them. But I think you should give them to someone else.”
Christie placed the bags on the table. His eyes took in everything about her, from the lips he once generously kissed, to her fingernails that left scars on his back and to the breasts he couldn’t have enough of.
“Is Folarin treating you okay?” he asked.
“My marriage is none of your business, Asepita.”
“Christie, I still care. I still love…”
“Stop, Raji. Stop. We’ve ruined each other and everything around us.”
“But I still love you. I can’t help it.”
“If you don’t stop, I’ll quit. I’ll leave Covet and sell my stakes to someone else. So choose now if you want us to keep working as partners or we go our separate ways.”
He saw her glance at his bandaged right hand briefly. “You’re fine, though? Your hand, I mean.”
“Yeah. I’m not healed yet but I’ve learned to use my left.”
“How are Salma and the kids?”
“Great. I finally filled in and signed the divorce petition papers. Hopefully, we’ll be done soon and she can have everything she wants.”
Christie made an abrupt turn in the direction of the door. It took Raji immense self-control not to run after and hold her. It was hard to come to terms that they were actually done, not when he could still taste her on his tongue.
“And quit with the drinking,” Christie added. “You stink.”
She left the office.
Raji basked in the wake of her scent for a while before leaving his desk to pour himself a full glass of liquor. He gulped it down in one go. He was going for another glass when he remembered that he had a lunch date with Comfort. She didn’t like him drinking and normally he wouldn’t care, but since she was the only one who had his time these days, he had to play nice.
He took his seat again. A peep into the gift bags showed that Christie had touched none of the things he gave her. The only thing missing was the scarf she had on her the day Folarin had exposed them. Raji hadn’t meant to be insufferable that morning but the way Folarin treated Christie, leaving her kneeling before him like a slave, had pushed him to the edge. If he could take back anything that happened there that morning, it would be the moment Christie fell to her knees. He would have taken her humiliation and worn it alone. She deserved to be treated way better.
Raji put the bags aside, imagining the joy on Comfort’s face over the gifts, especially the wristwatch that cost him a little more than a million bucks.
“So I’m thinking that maybe it’s a bad idea to throw her a surprise birthday party, knowing how much she hates surprises.”
“Larin, her birthday is just a week away and you’ve put in so much into the party already. Don’t you think it’s a little too late to cancel?”
“I know but…”Folarin stopped and yawned.
He was tired. He and Savanna had been working on their blog all morning. They both hadn’t eaten anything, having left the house to seek quietude in his new office. It was a three-room space. If all worked well on his tour of the continent, he was going to return home to fully go into blogging. He knew colleagues who made millions from their websites. To him, it wasn’t just about the money. It was his passion and he was done managing other people’s dreams.
He looked out the window. The building was separated from the next by a short fence. Music from someone badly playing a piano had been a source of disturbance all morning but Savanna didn’t mind. She could work under any condition.
“Last year, I took her to this resort in Epe and we had a good weekend, although she still drove into town to work. This year, I want to do my best to bring the past and that’s why I’m inviting old friends over.”
“And you’ll do all of this without talking to her?”
“She’s not getting off easy, Sav.”
“You’re so mean. Christie is the sweetest, most beautiful woman I ever met. The way she looks at you with those eyes that cry every night.”
“How do you know she cries every night?” Folarin twirled a pen in his hand.
“I know. And she’s lost a lot of weight too.”
Folarin’s hand stopped moving. “You have your eyes on my wife, Sav.”
Savanna giggled. “I can’t help it,” she said in a poor British accent. “She’s so hot. Her ass is…”
Folarin frowned. “I’m not even turned on. Stay away from Christie.”
“I’m just saying you should cut her some slack. Talk to her. Forgive her.”
Folarin pulled his laptop towards him. Savanna knew he wasn’t going to talk about Christie for the rest of the day. He was a stubborn man.
“And could you like order pizza or something? I’m starving.”
Folarin picked his phone and made a call to order some pizza. Just as he ended it, Mosun’s call came in. He dithered on answering but knowing Mosun wouldn’t stop until she ran him out of battery life, he picked up. She demanded to know where he was.
“I’m in the office.”
“You’re a monitoring spirit now?” he asked in English.
“Sorry o. I’m sha in your house with your daughter. Neither you nor Christie is at home. Tife and I will be waiting.”
Folarin didn’t want to ask her why she brought Tife over. Mosun was just troublesome and the best way to cope with her was to ignore her antics.
“I’ll be there.”
Mosun was off the line.
“Was that Christie?” Savanna asked. She was swiveling in her chair in rhythm to the music from next door, which now sounded something like Amazing Grace. She had stopped writing some forty minutes ago, blaming it on an instant writer’s block. Unlike Folarin, she was a lazy writer.
“That was my sister. She’s come with my daughter.”
“Vanessa?” Savanna stopped moving. “I’d love to meet her!”
Folarin stood up. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. My sister will eat you raw if she sees you.”
“So, you’re going to leave me here?”
“I’ll be back, hon.”
Not that he really bothered about leaving her all on her own. Savanna had restless feet. She already knew her way around certain places in Lagos and he didn’t have to guide her.
He dropped some money on the table.
“I’ll give the pizza guys your number to call you when they arrive.”
He left the building and took a short drive home. When he got in, Vanessa ran into his arms. The smell of vanilla on her made him realize how much he had missed her.
Sitting comfortably in a corner of the sitting room like she owned it was Mosun. She had helped herself with a glass of Christie’s famous ice tea.
“Where is Mommy?” Vanessa inquired, lifting her head up to peer into Folarin’s face.
“She went out. She’ll be back.”
He had hardly said the words when they heard Christie drive in. Vanessa ran to the front door.
“She misses you guys,” Mosun mentioned. “She’s having fun with us but I think the child is smart. She keeps asking why you dropped her to stay at ours.”
“She knows nothing.”
“How long is this your arrangement for?”
Folarin didn’t have an answer.
“O ga o! Me I am not in support of all this one.”
Christie entered the house, arms around Vanessa. Her face was a lot happier than when he saw her earlier. Vanessa’s presence was a balm.
“Good afternoon,” she said to him.
“Mosun, good afternoon.”
Mosun stood up.
“Tife, go to your room, I want to talk to your mom and dad.”
Vanessa ran off in prompt obedience. Folarin wished she was that way with him.
“Folarin and Christie,” Mosun began, “I want to let two of you know that marriage is not easy. But you can make it beautiful, you can make it work. Christie, this man you’re seeing here will die for you. Don’t you for once think otherwise. Fola, Christie is sorry. She and I have spoken and she is very sorry. Talk to her, iron things out. May God help you both.”
“Thank you, Mosun.” Christie walked over and hugged her.
“Tell Nessa I’ve gone. You can bring her over tomorrow or better still, come and collect her things.”
Folarin watched both women leave the house. Christie returned shortly after. Uncomfortable silence settled on them. He wanted so badly to talk to her but the pain was still too raw.
He turned towards Vanessa’s room.
“I’m very sorry, Folarin.”
He pretended not to have heard. The brokenness in her voice was too much for him to handle.
Lade kept her face to the window of the backseat of Tayo’s car, staring at their home as Tayo opened the gate. According to him, the gateman left after the fight he had with Joyce. His reasons were that a man who could maltreat his mother and wife was not a man anyone should live with.
Tayo had related the incidence to Lade in a contrite tone and she had marveled at how much of a different man he became in such a short time. His father’s death was definitely responsible for his new turn. Lade prayed that somehow Joyce will beat cancer and stay alive to restore his smile.
Tayo returned to the car and drove into the compound. He helped Lade out from the backseat. To support herself, she rested the bulk of her weight on him as he wrapped his arm around her.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She felt something like a kiss on her head but she wasn’t sure. She had warned him against being physical with her.
Once inside the house, nostalgia fell upon Lade. Good and bad recollections filled her thoughts as she made her way to Ife’s bedroom.
“Tell me what you want and I’ll help you pack them,” Tayo said to her.
“Um…it’s fine. I’ll do the packing myself. Thanks.”
Lade entered the bedroom, which had now begun to smell of mold. She walked to Ife’s crib and took in the emptiness. It was hard to keep her eyes dry. The sense of loss she felt was not just about Ife; it was about the other children she could never bear. But when she started to weep, overwhelmed by the pain, the death of Ife was brought to mind again.
“I’m so sorry, Ifeoluwa.”
Her hands gripped the crib. Sitting right inside it was Ife; big, round eyes, white and innocent staring back at her. She gurgled, flashing a toothless grin at Lade. Lade laughed back. Death and tears could not wipe away that one memory. That had been the liveliest moment she shared with her before she passed.
“I’m sorry, baby.”
Tayo came into view. “It was not your fault. It could have happened to anyone. You were a good mother and I’m sorry for all the horrible things I said to hurt you over her death.”
Lade wiped her nose with the heel of her palm.
“I once watched an episode of Oprah,” she recalled. “This mother left her daughter in the car and she died of a heat stroke and the woman became the most hated mother in America. But she was a good mother. You know why the baby died?”
“The mother missed out something in her routine that day and everything changed and she forgot her baby in that car. That was what happened to me. I stayed up late the night before watching TV and woke up late the next morning. My daily routine changed and to catch up with time, I didn’t have that extra thirty minutes I always used to read a book while watching Ife take her first nap for the day.”
“You’re still blaming yourself, Lade.”
“It was my fault, Tayo.”
“No, it was not. It was mine. You stayed up late, waiting for me to come back while I was out drinking with friends. It was my fault. And I am so sorry for what you went through. I should have been a better husband and father.”
His assertions didn’t stop Lade’s tears. He went to and asked to hold her. She accepted his comforting squeeze. It came with kisses on her head and soothing words.
Comfort didn’t cook as well as Salma or even look as good. She didn’t possess Christie’s refinement and may never be able to attain that level of elegance. But she knew when to talk and when to be quiet. She knew when to stroke Raji’s ego. She was blessed with the gift of making him feel like a king.
After serving him an almost-tasteless lunch, she invited him into her bathroom for a bubble bath. While their son slept in the sitting room, they both sat in the tub drinking wine. Raji allowed her talk about topics he wasn’t particularly interested in.
“You’re not listening,” she complained after some time.
He gave her a befuddled stare. “You said?”
“I was asking if you were going to give into Salma’s demands. She wants all your houses (including this one), half the shares you have at Covet, half of your income and full custody of the kids. Isn’t that too much? What then is left for me and Raheem?”
The last question got a rise out of Raji.
“What’s your business with what I give my wife?”
Comfort showed she was not impressed with his reaction but she kept mum.
“That we fucked yesterday and the day before doesn’t mean you’re going to take Salma’s place. I’m going to pay you for the sex and the tasteless food and this fucking bubble bath!”
He smashed his glass of wine to the floor. She flinched.
“So just do your job as a retired mistress or whatever you think you are to me right now and don’t poke your dirty nose into my life!”
He stepped out of the bath, feet first into the shards of glass on the floor.
“Raji, you have to stop drinking.”
Comfort rushed out. She returned with medical aid to help clean his scratches. She did this as Raji lay on her bed with his legs on her thighs. She didn’t complain when he phoned Salma and slobbered a long line of apology for all the pain caused, asking if she could reconsider her stance on the divorce and take him back. At that point, Salma cut him off. He then occupied himself with caressing Comfort’s bum.
“You’re not going to leave me too, are you?”
She shook her head.
When she gave birth to Raheem and he was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, she wanted nothing to do with Raji. She even hated him then. But years on, between secret dates and the occasional booty call, she rekindled her feelings for him. Or rather her feelings for his money. He had given her everything she could never have acquired with her little income—a car, a house, a monthly allowance and pricey presents once in a while, like the ones in the two gift bags he came with.
And not forgetting the sex too, which was always great, whether he was drunk or not.
He hurled her over him and gave her a wet kiss on her nose. The alcohol in his breath repulsed her but her body was already responding to the ministrations his hands brought.
He turned her over. She put her arms around his neck, spreading her legs open.
“Say you’re not leaving me.”
“I’m not leaving you, Raji.”
“Say it again.”
“I’m not leaving you.”
He went down and moved lower until she felt the heat of his mouth between her legs. She held her breath.
“I love you, Christie,” he muttered and began his feast.
Comfort didn’t mind. Yesterday she was his Christie, as was the case the night before that. She would continue to be his Christie for as long as he remained her sugar daddy.
Christie walked into the house and the first thing she heard was laughter. She could pick out Folarin and Vanessa’s voices and of course, there was that Savanna person. All three of them were in the guest wing. It was a section of the house that had its own living room and bedroom. When Christie bought the house, she had pictured Folarin spending most of his time there, writing. He had used it through the years and kept it restricted from everyone, including her. It hurt her that he gave a strange woman full access to the place.
Christie went into their bedroom and sat in the bathtub, struggling with tears. When she couldn’t win, she relaxed in and had a soothing bath. Subsequently, she slipped into a short dress without any underwear on. Toni had advised her two days ago when they spoke, to make all effort to look sexier than she used to. Christie took the advice even though she knew it was a long shot. She was trying her best to evoke the past when things were still good between them. On the other hand, her pastor’s wife advised that she did everything to show that she was still the modest, decent woman he had married.
It was a task merging both angles into one but Christie somehow found a balance. She still cooked his meals and did his laundry, and although he never ate anything she cooked, she didn’t stop. She had also retraced her path back to God and was presently on a ten-day fast to restore her faith. Every evening was spent in church, praying; after which she would return home and crawl up in bed, listening to Folarin and Savanna discuss deep into the night.
Christie was sure there was nothing sexual or romantic between them. Folarin was not that sort of man; he was only trying to punish her. Yet, it hurt. Late night talks, snacking and wine used to be their thing but they lost it like everything else they lost through the years.
Christie entered the kitchen and wasn’t surprised to see that the dinner she made before she left to the church was just as she laid it. Instead, she saw junk food packs in the bin. She stilled herself against another surge of sadness and took out a salad from the fridge, but as she sat down to eat, tears engulfed her eyes again.
Just then, Savanna appeared. Christie quickly wiped the tears.
“Oh…hi, Christie.” She made for the fridge. “You’re back.”
“Didn’t hear you come in.” She took out a pack of orange juice.
“Can I say that Vanessa is bae?! She’s the most adorable child I ever met. I so love her and wish I could abduct her.”
Christie’s lips upturned in a corner smile. “Thank you.”
“Christie,” Savanna’s forehead gathered in concern, “you have tears in your eyes. Are you alright?”
“Dust irritation. Nothing serious.”
“Are you sure?”
Christie gave her a proper look. The concern came off as genuine. It was evident of Christie’s conclusions about her relationship with Folarin. Still, the woman wasn’t to be trusted or liked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Okay. But if you need to talk, though…”
“Are you having sex with my husband?”
Christie’s abrupt question had been so unexpected and jolting that Savanna literally gasped. Her mouth was left open as Christie waited for an answer.
“You want me to repeat myself?”
“What’s going on, ladies?” Folarin walked in.
“Nothing.” Savanna breathed out in relief and giggled. “Goodnight, Christie.”
She dashed out as if being chased. Folarin’s eyes ran across the dinner laid out on the table.
“I think you should stop cooking for us,” he said. “We can take care of ourselves.”
Christie dropped her head, resting it on her hand. “I’m trying here, Folarin. I’m really trying. Please, talk to me, hear me out, scold me… Let’s talk about it. Please!”
Like before, Folarin pretended she hadn’t spoken. He strolled out.
Andre waited outside Toni’s front door. He wasn’t sure of the reception he would get. He had been harsh with his words but then he was never known to sugarcoat things. His feelings and deep concern for Toni always put him on edge. He didn’t want her to end up like Anouk.
But she was a more difficult woman to be with. She had her ways set and it was almost impossible to find a way into her heart, which was the first place he wanted to take residence. Sex was a secondary need but if it would be the easiest way to get into her, he was willing to let his guard down. He had just realized that she believed relationships had to have some kind of exchange. He would speak her language for as long as was necessary to break her stubborn will.
The door opened and Tayo stood before him. They exchanged cordial greetings.
“Is Toni in?”
Andre was let in. Tayo introduced him to Lade, noting the emphasis he made on the term ‘my wife’. Andre greeted Lade warmly and asked about her wellbeing. She answered demurely. He mused on how the entertainment world was going to enjoy seeing the introversion taken out of her.
“Toni’s in her room,” Tayo said.
Andre walked towards Toni’s bedroom, which had its door open. She was listening to jazz, the sound of it coming from a pair of woofers. Sprawled on the bed in nothing but a bathing suit, she made it hard for him to keep his thoughts pure. He was gratified to stand by the door and watch her for a while. She didn’t sense his presence until he moved closer and placed his hand on the small of her back. She whirled around.
“Andre, you scared me!” She hit him, her face widening into a smile.
“Why are you not at the pajama party? I see you’re all dressed up for it.”
“Nothing.” She went back to her former position as he sat on the bed.
“I think I know why you didn’t go. In fact, you were on your way there when you saw my tweets about the party being turnt upand then you changed your mind.”
Toni changed positions to lie on her back. “Leticia told you all of this?”
“I hate her sometimes. You were not supposed to know that I know your Twitter handle. I wanted to stalk you silently.”
“Did you miss me?”
His eyes swept her entire frame and stopped on her face.
“Andre, why are you here?”
“Did you miss me, Tone?”
“And if I say yes, that I missed you and all I could think of all week was you, would that make you feel like you’ve won?”
He laughed softly and placed his hand on her hip. “We’re not in a battle here, Tone.”
“Well, we’re not exactly on the same side of the fence. We want different things from each other.”
“Why don’t we forget those things and just have fun tonight. I’d have suggested we go back to the party but carousing with a crowd is not my thing.”
“Remember I told you I’d take you out on a yacht the next time we went sailing?”
“So you’re up for it?”
She shot to her feet and Andre’s lips crushed into hers. The flame that sparked between them was instant but Andre kept it short by pulling away.
She changed clothes and picked her phone and a pair of slippers. They left the house and got into his car, the one that was not the moving billboard. He took her to a dock where small yachts were parked.
“That’s the one we’re getting into.” He pointed at a yacht with the initials AFK scrawled on it.
“You own it?”
“Yeah. But I didn’t buy it. But my money bought it.”
“Andre,” Toni crossed her arms, “I want you to be really honest with me. Are you rich or not?”
He laughed, his shoulders shaking.
“I am not as rich as I used to be. Actually, I’m quite broke.”
“Then how come you drive that expensive car we came with and you own a yacht?”
“I told you my partner squandered a lot of our business money when Anouk died. He bought the car, the boat, a couple of houses and some other stuff. So, basically I took the most I could from him. This boat and a house in Lekki are on lease. I can’t afford either of them even if I sold all I had. It’s going to take a while for me to get to where I was. And quite frankly, I don’t even want to get there. I’ll be fine just having enough.”
Toni rested her head on his chest. “I don’t care how much you have.”
“As long as I stroke it right abi?”
“You know nau.”
He cupped her butt cheeks and in one swoop, hoisted her up to have her face meet his. He teased her with his breath on her lips but withdrew when she stuck out her tongue for a kiss.
“Stop teasing!” She hit his chest.
“Stop fronting for me, Toni. I’ll treat you right.”
“And then what next? We get serious with each other but end up as all relationships do? You cheat or maybe I cheat, or the fire just dies and we get older and we don’t find each other attractive anymore?”
“Or we just take it one day at a time and see how it goes.”
She ran her fingers over the nape of his neck, tightening her legs around him. “Just kiss me now.”
She captured his mouth with hungry urgency and held him bound until someone called their attention from his yacht.
“They’re ready for us,” Andre said.
“Let me down.”
Andre lowered her to the ground but without warning, lifted her up again and put her over his shoulder. She let out a scream that was followed by laughter piercing into the quiet night as they made their way to the yacht.
Once aboard, Andre offered to take her out on the deck but Toni wasn’t in the least bit interested.
“Cabin.” She pointed downwards. He laughed and led her down to a comfy cabin that was luxuriously decorated. The moment the door was shut, she went for his t-shirt, kissing him while helping him out of it. In seconds, her top was off as well and they both fell to the bed, bounding into a heap of fluffy mattress and covers.
She ground her lower body into his, driving him insane.
“I might, or some version of me might consider being exclusive with you,” she said.
He lifted a brow. “What does that mean?”
“It means that hypothetically, if I decide to be your girlfriend, then your tight ass becomes mine – only if you don’t call me every day or demand to know what I do with my time when I’m alone or try to tell me who to hang with or generally act like you own me.”
Andre groaned, his erection getting harder at her difficult demands. She drew circles around his nipples with long fingernails.
“Is that all?” he asked.
“Never use the L word. Never.”
“Is that all?”
“And I’m very, very, jealous.”
“Abi you’re very, very, very wet.”
She yanked down his shorts and freed his straining hardness. He smiled at the way she puckered her lips at the sight of it.
“I don’t share,” she added. “So you better behave.”
“We will, ma’am.”
Andre handed her a condom. She ripped the wrapper off, slowly rolled it down his entire length and let down her weight on him to suck on his earlobe. He squirmed at the sensation.
“Anything I need to know about you?” she whispered.
“Just Google alpha male. That should give you a head start.”
He parted her G-string to the side and helped her up by the waist.
“So, is it a yes? I alone get to do this to you?”
“Fabrice, stop playing. You’re killing me here.”
“Is it a yes?”
“Mmm!” she moaned. “Good girl. Now, sit on it.”