Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - count off her fingers, oil-stained newspaper, wallpapers to the inscriptions on his calendar, discuss their breakup, music, artiste, plaque, kissed, Olamide's shakiti bobo.
"He sounds gay," Uju said. "Let him keep his like o. I don't need it."
"Yeah. You really don't," Ijeoma said. "You have more than enough to last you a lifetime." Then she began to count off her fingers. "Chief, Chima... What was that other boy's name sef... Thelma please remind me."
"Sharrap there!" Uju said, laughing. "Look at this firewood-pot calling kettle black. Have you forgotten Akin, or Moses, or Emma, or Najib... All weather like you. You have a man from every constituency in this country and pretty soon, you'll go international."
She and Thelma raised their hands and did a high five and they all laughed and continued prattling until the young man rejoined them holding a steaming, oil-stained newspaper that contained large chunks of suya. He set it down at the center of the table. Then he took a piece out and threw it in his mouth.
"I know everyone's name except yours. Are you still not going to tell me?"
"Did you tell me yours?" Uju quipped.
"Sure! I did. Did you forget so soon? Well, it's Stanley."
She watched the sides of his head bulge and dance up and down as he chewed.
"My name is Stacy."
"Hmmmm!!!" her friends sniggered and then Thelma added: "Don't mind her. Her name is Obianuju. Uju for short."
"Shut up! What's your problem?" she said.
"Tah! Go and sit down," Ijeoma said. "Stay there and be forming tush o."
Stanley smiled and the three bikini-clad young women laughed.
"Don't mind them. Stacy's my English name. But Uju is also my name if you like."
"I like the sound of Uju." He threw another piece of suya in his mouth and Ijeoma reached for the newspaper and pried it open to help herself. "Doesn't sound as formal as Stacy, so I think I'm going to stick with that."
She watched him. He didn't seem bad at all. He was perhaps a little cuter than Chima and definitely taller. But there was too much on her table already. Her marriage was still hanging by a thread and she didn't want to put a razor to a thing that was already stretched taut. Besides she had only taken a chance with Chima because of what had existed between them in the past. She hadn't even planned for any of the romance that had later sparked up between them. When she had gone visiting that first time, it had been about honoring a friend's invitation to see his apartment and catch up on old times while at it; or so she told herself. But after she had seen the last of the pictures in the album he gave her, there was little else to talk about and eventually they had to discuss their breakup.
"What happened to us?" Chima had asked after a long moment of silence in which she kept averting her gaze to avoid staring directly into his eyes that seemed to see into the deepest parts of her soul. He knew her. He knew what words to say to light the candle in her heart, which ones to say to get her heart racing like a horse.
"I don't know," she'd responded. "I guess we just grew apart." Then she'd set the photo album down on the glass center table and stood up to walk around and examine every content in the room - from the wallpapers to the inscriptions on his calendar.
"We had a little break," he continued, "and next thing I knew, you were seeing a music artiste."
"Hmmm," she sneered. "Richie was nowhere near an artiste." She was trying to ease the tense atmosphere with a little joke. "His voice was just horrible. His music was painful. And I don't mean that it was emotional, I mean it was unpleasant and felt harsh to the ears. Grating is just the word for it." She was speaking too much. Too many sentences for something that didn't need elaboration. She did that when she was nervous. She cursed herself for feeling that way. He was Chima, someone she'd been very intimate with. The anxiety was just absurd and out-of-place.
"But still, lots of girls were at his beck and call," he said.
She wondered if she should say in her defense that she hadn't been; that he'd been a rebound for her - someone she merely said yes to in order to forget the strong feelings she had for him. Or maybe it was really just to get him jealous. She hadn't imagined he would walk the same path and start seeing some other girl too and then things would blow out of proportion and the gap that was supposed to bring them close would only end up pushing them further apart. At last she spoke.
"Well, I can tell you categorically that they didn't come for the music. It was for the money. He produced music beats too, you know." She was examining a plaque now. It was an award. It read: MCA 2015. AWARD FOR BEST MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT OF THE YEAR!
"Oh! I never knew that."
She traced a finger along its glass surface and said: "You wouldn't. You were never friends."
"Well, if I'd done my background check well enough, I wouldn't have missed out on that tiny piece of information."
It was easy to read a subtle meaning to his statement; that he'd loved her even while she was with her music artiste boyfriend and he'd actually done some amount of research to figure out who the new guy was. She smiled.
"You're already making a name for yourself."
"This." She held up the glossy plaque. "You already have an award. Soon this place will be too congested and you'll need a separate room to stack your awards in."
He laughed heartily and came up behind her. "Yes. Soon I hope."
All of a sudden, she felt claustrophobic, as though the room was closing in on them and had suddenly become too tight. His large hands settled on her waist now and she stood very still, her breath measured so that soon it became audible with each exhale. It was wrong, her being here, his standing behind her with his hands on her hips. She was married. She tried to say something but the words wouldn't come. Then she heard him open his mouth to speak but when he spoke, the words were incoherent, as though there were lumps in his throat that prevented them from coming out as they should.
"What did you say?" she asked finally, and cursed herself when her voice came out shrill like a helpless little girl's.
"I said I still love you." His breath was hot on her neck and it sent needles up her spine. He turned her to face him and tilted her head upward until their gaze drew level. All was disconcertingly quiet for an intense moment until she swallowed heavily. She wanted to think of Chief, of her husband, but at that moment, she preferred not to. She preferred to let Chima take her and do whatever he pleased with her like the days back in UNN. And then, afterward she could soak herself in regret. But at that very moment, he was all she wanted.
They stood there staring at each other, not saying anything and it seemed like all else had ceased to exist, like they were two people isolated on an island. As the seconds ticked by, she realized that there was no place else she would rather be. As though he could read her mind, he brought his face closer and planted a kiss on her lips. She was stunned and didn't respond at first. But he didn't seem to notice. He kissed her and pried her lips open with his slick tongue.
She was still dazed when she realized she was kissing him back passionately, sucking as though her life depended on it. He kissed her a little longer before his right hand went behind her, found the hook of her bra beneath her cotton top and undid it. Then he helped her pull the top over her head and flung it at the couch. Soon her bra hit the floor and his hand cupped a boob. He squeezed gently, sensually for bit and then he became a little rough and flicked and squeezed her nipple. Her breaths were loud now.
His eyes were glazed with a faraway intoxicated look when he lifted her up and carried her into the bedroom to consummate their reunion.
"What are you thinking of?" Ijeoma asked waving a hand across her face. The music had changed. Olamide's shakiti bobo was playing now. "Your mind is not here. Where did you travel to inside this globe you call a head. Stan's been talking to you."
She laughed mildly. "Don't mind me. I've been feeling weak since morning."
Thelma winked at her. The wink had an underlying message. She thought she was pregnant.
"Oh gosh! It's not that. I think I'm going to fall ill or something."
"You should rest," Stanley offered. "I could drop you off."
"Oh! No. Don't worry. We came with our car."
"Doesn't mean I can't drop you off."
"Well, we came in my own car and I didn't come with my driver. I wouldn't trust these witches to drive it. You see, they're too evil."
They all burst out laughing and before Stanley stood up to leave, he said: "Let's do this again," and passed her his iPhone so that she would punch in her digits. She opened the dialer and dialed ten figures.
"Save it with Uju," he said.
She did and passed his iPhone back to him and he said bye and swaggered away, wearing a crooked self-complacent smile.
STORY CONTINUES... CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 4
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