“Hey girl!” Becky said finding June in the living room as she locked the door behind her. “Look what the cat dragged in.” June said laughing at Becky. “Hmm! What’s cooking?” Becky asked sniffing. “Thought I’d make some moin-moin for the weekend.” June replied. “Good idea.” Becky said, plunking down on the couch beside June. “How did it go?” June asked. “Better than expected. I nearly cracked at the money part oh! Dude was looking straight at me forever!” Becky poured, making June laugh. “Those his piercing eyes. Always keeping eye contact, trying to read what the next person is thinking.” June said shaking her head. “Exactly! Almost creeped me out. I was about repeating myself when he suddenly said ‘Sounds fair’. Babe! It was the wave of relief washing over me at that moment oh, if not I for jump up.” Becky explained laughing too.
“I’m glad you got it.” June said. “Hmmm. Thanks so much, dear. At least at the end of each month I should be expecting some interesting bank alerts as long as the lessons go on.” Becky said. “He’s still not sure when his trips will be?” June asked. “I don’t think so. The coaching is open ended for now. But after a few lessons, I’ll gauge his progress and see.” Becky replied. “The longer he sticks around, the better for us.” June said, then went into the kitchen. “True.” Becky replied heading to the bedroom. She needed a shower. As much as she didn’t want to count her proverbial chicks before they hatched, she could not wipe the smile off her face. This opportunity was going to go a long way to ameliorate her financial strain. What Tari had agreed to pay her was more than her wage at the school, when compared at the end of a month. She did a little jig as she undressed.
“What you are telling me now is that you hired Becky to be your language coach?” Dan asked. The guys were having a drink, standing in the night breeze out on the balcony of Tari’s apartment. “Yup!” Tari replied. “Jesus!” Dan said before a fit of hysterical laughter. “Do the world a favour and topple over the railings, please.” Tari said pointing downwards with his glass. “I knew there was something special about that chic. Foreign Languages! Wow! How many did you say she speaks? Three?” Dan asked when he finally recovered. “Yup. French, German, Portuguese. How does that make her special, though?” Tari asked, wondering where Dan was going with this. “She exotic, man! The kinda girl you want beside you when you travel or meet with expats. And when the lights are turned off….” he left off laughing. Tari shook his head “You are just a goat.” he said.
“Thanks a lot, bro!” Dan said, surprising Tari with a tight hug. “Get off me!” Tari said punching Dan’s side with his free hand. “The fuck you thanking me for?” he asked when Dan finally let go. “You’ve kept her in the family! Now, I have a very good chance with her.” Dan explained. Tari nodded, now he saw what Dan meant. The business relationship between he and Becky would surely create solid grounds for she and Dan to see often, if Dan had his way. It was all the excuse he needed. “So, while you guys be getting on with the Portuguese, she and I’ll be getting on with some other interesting languages on the side.” Dan added with a wink. “When is your Lagos trip?” Tari asked wanting desperately to switch the subject, “Lagos can wait. Now that Becky’s gonna be visiting us every weekend.” Dan replied with a grin. “But that price? She’s greedy, though.” he added.
“You think? She really knows her stuff.” Tari defended. “I don’t dispute that. Not to worry though, I promise to put your hard-earned money to good use.” Dan replied and began another bout of laughter. “Let me burst your bubble. You are not allowed to take her time in this house. When she’s here, I intend to get my money’s worth. I don’t have time to joke around.” Tari said sternly. “Chill, bro. I won’t get in the way of your coaching or nothing. I promise.” Dan said, left hand on his chest like he was reciting a pledge. “Good. See her anywhere else.” Tari reiterated. “Fair enough. The girl is hot, you know? In her own way. Maybe not on the June level of hot, but she’s a pretty sight. Right curves in the right places and in the right proportions.” Dan said. Tari made no response. “You know if she has a man?” Dan asked. “None of my business.” Tari replied and left the balcony.
Becky lay beside her laptop. She had gotten as much material as she could find. Whatever struck her as useful, she had gotten. It was a justified investment. She had her earphones on, listening to a Portuguese language beginners’ audio book she had purchased after school. Tomorrow was her first lesson with Tari and she had to be as prepared as possible. Her phone lit up with a message. She took a look. It was an SMS from Alfred. He was going to Cotonou to pick up a vehicle for a client, would be gone for a few days. He wanted to remind her he was still open to meet her anytime and anywhere it pleased her once he got back. And finally, if there was anything he could get for her on his trip. “Curiouser and curiouser.” Becky murmured. Something suddenly leapt into her mind and she hit ‘Reply’
“Alfred, u owe me money. I want it bk.”
She cast her mind back to the last time she was in Lagos. He definitely owed her some money. She had paid for the procedure and her flight back to Abuja. It was only fair she asked for her money back. At the time, she had taken a loan from a friend and had paid back from her next salary, leaving her very cash strapped. He had hit her and abandoned her, leaving her stranded and then broke for weeks. Not only had she been heart broken and alone when she returned, it had been hard for her to get by after paying her friend back the loan. She assured herself this was not about getting back at him, it was her simply getting back what was hers. After all, he had promised to take care of her transport at the end of her stay and anyway, the D&C was a fallout of his irresponsibility.
“Let me ask June.” she said, getting up to go find June in the living room. “June, I’m asking Alfred for my money back. What do you think?” She said. “What money?” June asked. “The D&C and flight back from Lagos.” Becky replied. “From that last time you were with him?” June asked. “Yes, that one.” Becky replied. June chuckled before replying “You really have it in for this Alfred guy, kwah!”. “Well, he asked for it. Me, I need my money.” Becky countered. “I agree. He did set himself up for this one. I doubt he thought you’d take him up on it.” June said, naughty smile plastered on her lips. “His headache.” Becky shot back. Both girls laughed. Becky sent the message. In a minute, the reply came back.
Becky showed June. “Hmmm. Like a boss.” June said after reading it. Becky didn’t know what to think. She had not really expected any particular form of response, but she definitely had not seen this coming. “Oya, answer him. How much did you spend?” June asked passing back the phone. “22K.” Becky replied taking the phone. She replied Alfred with the figure and put her phone in her lap. Time ticked on as the ladies watched TV and talked about other things. Becky’s eyes constantly strayed to her phone. Somewhere, deep inside her heart, she wondered why Alfred had gone silent. She was partly relieved, glad that the talk of money had turned him off, likely angered him and now he was completely turned off. At the same time, it saddened her because, she had hoped he had actually changed for the better and left his temper flashes behind.
The fact that he had not asked what the debt was, but had only asked how much it was was something that now left her wondering in light of his sudden drop off the SMS exchange. June’s phone rang, as she took it, Becky decided to get back to preparing for her first lesson with Tari. A few minutes later June came into the room, “Going out.” she announced. “Ok? What’s happening?” Becky asked. “This guy I met at the bank last week – KC. I told you, yeah?” June explained as she undressed for a shower. “Yeah…” Becky replied. She could not recall, but assumed June must have mentioned it. Becky had a hard time keeping up with all the guys who wanted to be with June. The interesting thing was, they were all solid guys. In her case, she had a choice between a monster and a player. June had told her the other day Dan wanted her number, Becky had promptly refused.
Tari’s phone beeped. It was his alarm to leave for home and in good time too, because he was tired and hungry. He stood up from his seat in the shed, took off his gloves, got the phone out and stopped the alarm. As he walked to the truck all he wanted was to drive from the site to the office, pick up his car, grab some food and head home. He was not in the mood for outings and all that. At the office, he made sure to avoid his boss, who he noticed was still around, took a shower, changed into fresh clothes, got his car and left for home. He had a particular place in mind to pick up dinner from but when he got there, it was crowded with hyped up teenagers. The security man, who recognised him, told him someone was having a birthday party. Tari thanked the man and drove home “Oats, it is.” he said. Hopefully he would find something to have his oats with.
The date had gone dry, but the location was lively. June had never been here on a Friday night. She made a mental note to come back here with Becky sometime. She was going to ask KC what EPL team he supported, maybe give him a lifeline, something to talk about and save him from sucking so bad when she noticed him stealing a glance at his watch. It was the second time in the last 10minutes. That seriously irked June. Apparently the dude had other places to be. “KC, I think its time I head home.” June said, flashing him a fake smile. Good looking and smart as he was, he did suck as a date. Maybe he was not always so, but tonight, he surely had his mind elsewhere and June was not going to stand for it. Before he could make a response, she got up. “It’s just 8:38pm.” he said, making a lame effort to change her mind. “Of course, it is.” she said, picking up her bag.
Outside, he started walking towards the car park but June called him back. “‘Sup?” he said when he’d made it back to where she stood. “Its this way.” June said, pointing to a couple of taxis across the road. “Let me drop you at home.” he said “I’m parked just over there.” he pointed towards the car park. “Never mind. I’ll be fine.” June insisted. He looked slightly surprised but shrugged anyway and walked her to a taxi. June gave the driver her destination, he told her his charge and KC promptly paid. “I look forward to seeing you again, June.” he said as she got in the cab. June smiled and shut the door. She didn’t bother looking up from her phone as the cab moved off, she didn’t look back either. She didn’t care if he waved or not, she had no plans to wave back nor see him again, in fact. She got her phone, scrolled to his name and deleted his contacts.
The door literally burst open, waking Tari up with a start. The lights came on forcing him to shut his eyes, but his other senses told him it was Dan. “Hey, man!” Dan said as Tari turned his head away. “I’m tired Dan. Also have stuff to do tomorrow.” Tari replied. They had had this conversation earlier, he was not interested in going out tonight, all he wanted was his bed. “June is here.” Dan whispered. Tari’s mind did a quick power-up. “You said?” he asked squinting at Dan who was all dressed up to leave. “Nicca, you deaf? June is here!” Dan repeated a little louder now. “How -” Tari was saying but Dan cut him off “She’s been calling you.” he said. Tari swung his feet to the floor and reached for his phone on the bedside table. He looked at its screen: 6 missed calls. “So?” Tari said, his mind now on full throttle, “How did she find this place?” he asked.
He got to his feet, looking around for something to wear. “She called me, I gave her.” Dan said. Tari threw him an icy stare. Dan ignored the look and left the room. Tari threw on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. This was definitely not the night he had planned for himself. “Fack!” he muttered as he made for the living room. He saw her, shoes off, legs curled up on the sofa, a pretty dress, gorgeous body and a scent that filled his head. She turned and saw him, her smile vaporised the tiny strands of anger left in him. “Awwwww. I really did wake you, Tari.” she said getting up and coming towards him. He rubbed his chin and smiled back, “It’s Ok.” he heard himself say. “In bed so early? On a friday night?” June asked as he gave her a hug. “Yeah, was tired.” He said. “Hmm. I got us pizza and drinks.” she said, pointing at the dinning table where she had placed a large pizza and a 6-pack.
Becky could not hide her surprise. “Are you serious?” she repeated for the umpteenth time. “Uhun! Woke up this morning, made breakfast and he just dropped me off.” June finished her recount of the happenings between the time she’d left the date with KC and when she’d turned up at home this morning. “I thought you were with KC, oh!” Becky said. “That one? Someone was waiting for him at home. I don’t have time for love triangles.” June explained. “He’s married?” Becky asked. “Likely. The idiot pressured me to leave my house and come out on a date with him. Only for him to be checking his watch like I was wasting his time. I was so pissed.” June said. “Hmmm! So, how was it?” Becky asked. “Tari? That one was forming chivalry. All the ‘take my bed, I’ll crash in the other room’ kind of somethings.” June said comically, making Becky laugh.
“I didn’t agree o. Told him, we could share his bed, or he could go drop me at home, because, I would not feel welcomed.” June went on. “This was way past 1am and Dan had gone out with the car. He had no choice but to cuddle this babe all night. No way I was about to be treated lightly twice in one night.” she added laughing. Becky could not help but join in. “So, nothing?” Becky pressed. “He’s a good kisser. I kind of like the fact that he’s taking it slow, though. He didn’t venture beyond kisses and cuddles.” June said as she got up stretching. “Perfect Gentleman. Not bad.” Becky declared. “No. Give him time, you’ll see the not-so-cool-and-reserved side. No guy is that cool. Trust me.” June refuted. “Anyway, me I have lessons with him at 1pm.” Becky said. She picked up her phone to check what time it was and realised she had 2 messages.
The first was from her bank. Her account had been credited with N22,000. It had come from Alfred. Her palms were suddenly sweaty as she scrolled to the next message. It was from Alfred:
“Pls, pray I hv a safe trip. Hope 2 see u whn I gt bk. I love u.”
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