LIES WOMEN TELL #12

Driving through the Ikeja traffic and strategising the rest of the week in her head, a car cuts in front of her with the driver weaving badly. Pumping her brakes lightly, she cursed loudly into the confines of her car like any seasoned Lagos driver “Were! Oloriburuku sombori!”.

The young man in the car next to hers was smiling at her. She smiled back glad he hadn’t heard her vituperative. He waves, she waved back wondering what the wave was about as she continued down Mobolaji Bank Anthony. Getting to Abule Onigbagbo Busstop, she noticed the same brown Camry ahead of her, catching a glimpse of the driver in a white Tee that had waved at her minutes earlier. Idly wondering how he had gotten ahead of her, she swerved to avoid a pedestrain who chose that exact time to cross the road in moving traffic. Lagosians were always in a hurry – walking or driving, everyone is in a hurry to go nowehere – why else would someone cross the road while traffic was moving!

Just after she drove past Sheraton hotel on her left, she noticed the brown Camry had managed to fall behind. She smiled. Then, the Camry seemed to be chasing her through traffic for a bit until another crazy driver cuts into its path forcing the young man in the white Tee to step on his brakes and ease forward slowly. They were soon halted by the traffic light at the junction allowing hawkers walk between the immobilised cars to peddle steering-wheel covers, music cds, plantain chips, cashew nuts, footmats and every sort of product they imagine you would never find in the market or why else would they hawk these? Lara wondered to herself

Looking at the traffic light and lightly humming to the radio, she noticed a honk behind her and looked up to see if the light changed without her noticing. It was the brown Camry. Soon, one of the hawkers comes barrelling down her side of the car with a paper. The honk comes again from behind. It registers in her head, so rolling down as fast as she could, she collects the piece of paper from the man and says ‘nagode’ as he appeared to be an ‘aboki’. Almost outta breath, he merely gives her a second look, nods and steps back as traffic resumes moving at that moment.

Lara looks at the paper in her hands before dropping it into her open bag. The paper felt like it was hurriedly torn from a carton holding a phone or something. Bayo was scrawled on it with eleven numbers beneath the name. This better be fun, Lara told herself.

Turning the corner into her friend’s office, she slowed down for the oncoming vehicle to rush past as she pulled into the complex. Whistling, she turns off the ignition, grabs her bag and laptop. There was free wifi inside the building.

Throwing a casual greeting at one of the many security guards policing the building, she hits the 2nd floor button and waits for the elevator to stop. The secretary was seated in her usual spot behind the counter. Their eyes meet, she smiles back.

“He is in the conference room” the secretary informs Lara

“Thank you. How have you been? How was your weekend and the family?” Lara enquires politely

“They are all fine. Thank you” came the reply

“Hello. Long time” She calls out as she enters the conference room

“Haa! It is you. How have you been? Have you been in Lagos or you are just coming in?”

“Yesso. It is I. No, I travelled. I was in Abuja. I just came in this morning” Lara says “Where is Tope?” she enquires

“He went to court this morning with one of our colleagues. I also just returned from a deposition in Abuja last night”

“Oh really! How did your trip go?”

“Well, stressful but needful. Here I am again this morning after a long trip” He rejoins

“Pele. Where is everybody else?”

“Tope went to court with Titi. Fela is in the other office, Kike is having an early lunch and Bode went to court on the island”

“Great! And you are writing another brief with Lekan”

“Exactly” he chimes

“Anyway, I just stopped by to say ‘hi’. I won’t be staying so long. I’ll be resuming work tomorrow and wont have time to come in like I used to so am spending my last day of vacation with you guys.”

“How sweet!” sarcastically

She chuckled swatting his broad shoulders lightly. Remembering the piece of paper stuck into her bag, she brings it out to dial and confirm the number on it. If he was confident enough to ask the hawker to bring me his number, this has gotta be good stuff. She said to herself for the third time that morning.

“Hello. Is this Bayo?” she breathes throatily into the mouthpiece reading the name from the paper she held.

“My name is Lara. You asked the guy selling on the road to give me your number in traffic at Sheraton…..”

“Yes. Nice to meet you too Bayo” she paused to listen again

“No. I am still at Sheraton side. Yes, I am in an office”

“No. I dont work here. It is a friend’s office”

“I don’t know when I will leave here yet. I may be here till evening.”

“I don’t think we can see tomorrow. I will be travelling to Ibadan. I won’t be back until weekend” lying smoothly

“Yea. Too bad. No, I don’t work in Ibadan. I’m just going to visit”

“Visit friends naa.” beginning to get slightly irritated at the judge and jury pattern of questioning.

“Yea sure. I’ll call you when I get back this weekend. Bye” hanging up, she saves the number as ‘Bayo traffik’

Two hours later, engrossed with her laptop, her phone rings again and she absently reaches for it clicking the green button automatically before glancing at the screen. It was Bayo again. What’s the matter with this guy! Didn’t we just speak and agree to ‘see’ on the weekend?” she asked herself before mumbling a greeting into the mouthpiece.

“Yes. I am still there” she grumbled “I’m working”

“Just working on personal stuff. I work in a call center” she replied deciding he did not specifically need the correct info

“I’ll be here for a bit. Oh! You work with Dangote. Nice.” rolling her eyes in a Do-I-look- stupid-you work-in-Dangote motion

“So, what do you do at Dangote?”

“No. I know the company deals in Sugar, rice, cement, flour, spagghetti and all that. I meant, you as an employee, what is your job description with Dangote?” English can be harding some young men she thought to herself

“Oh! Nice. So, you are the one counting all the money for them eh? I should come and visit you in the office o” she laughs sofetening a little

“Ha! So now, you don’t have money eh? After telling me you work with Dangote cement, you now don’t have money abi?”

“Ok o. I hear you” she replies apparently more receptive to him now he seems to be more than casually employed. An accountant with Dangote. The only thing left would be to see if he can put his money where his mouth just went.

After three more hours of laboring over the laptop and browsing the internet for all the things she missed during her two weeks stay in Abuja, she was ready to shut the laptop and go grab lunch. Her phone rings again. Dele

“I thought you were meant to call me back after you alighted from the taxi and settled down at home” came the accusation

“Was I?” she flung back as carelessly “You hung up on me. So, why was I the one supposed to call you back? You HUNG UP on me” really getting pissed with every passing minute he kept breathing into the phone oozing possessiveness. ‘You dont own me mister’ she almost yelled into the open line. He was so presumptous, so much, it was beginning to border on arrogance. Why on earth would she have called him back when she had told him to hold on so she could get into a taxi! He hung up so it was on him to dial back not her.

“Ok. I’m sorry” he finally says “Someone walked into my office and I had to hang up but I said for you to call me after you got home. I didn’t realise you didn’t hear me say it” he explained

“Of course I didn’t hear you say it because my ear was away from the earpiece since I was negotiating with the cabbie” she responded.

It was ridiculous how their misunderstandings always started from really minor things such as this but managed to ballon into huge issues involving their friends by which time they had forgotten what started the conflict in the first place.They both sigh

“You know we should commuicate better eh?”

“And you know I always tell you to be patient and calm when you feel like attacking me” she retorted

“I’m sorry” he apologises again

“I’m sorry too. I could actually have called you but I was mad that you hung up. I’m sorry” she apologises too

“I was just missing you and wanted to see how your day was going plus preparations for work tomorrow”

“You know how it is…..work is always work. I am on morning shift tomorrow and they said we can’t bring our phones into the call area”

“Really? How many hours is your shift? What if I am trying to reach you?”

“Shift is 9 hours with an hour break in between. I guess i’ll check the phone at intervals or during lunch or bathroom break”she assured him “I’ll call you back if I miss your call”

“Ok. I’ll talk to you later” he rings off with his trademark abruptness leaving her holding an empty dialtone to her ears. Sighing, she replaced the phone in her bag retreating into her thoughts before remembering she was headed to the kitchen for lunch.

Returning to her seat after a 30 minutes break, she hurried forward as she heard her phone ringing again. What is Dele calling back for?

It wasn’t Dele.

“Oh! Hi Malik” she crooned

“You were not expecting my call……”

“Not that. I simply thought I would beat you to it” she cajoled Why on earth would I be expecting your call when we just spoke this morning and we are not officially dating yet! Oops! I forgot! He asked me to give him a chance after our weekend date and I agreed. I guess this is what it means eh. She quickly re-calibrated deciding to switch gears.

“Of course, I expected you to even call me since abi you did not miss me already?” she teased again

“Hmmmmn scope!” laughing gaily so that Lekan at the end of the conference table glanced briefly at her. She batted her eyes at him and continued flirting shamelessly with Malik

“Really? That would be great! Oh! I wished you were here already”

“Fantastic! What time will your flight get here? Seems you been coming to Gidi a lot before we met sef”

“Oh! You didn’t? You are coming because of me eh? You could have sent someone else right?”

“Ha-ha indeed! see scope o!” she laughed heartily and wondered why she didn’t laugh this way with Dele, why it always seemed to be angry words and raised voices with him. She returned to the conversation to hear him ask what he should bring for her. She gave her standard response “anything” which she knew guaranteed something good because that way, men couldn’t go cheap. Only an Indian guy ever broke her “anything” as a gift rule and brought her a very miniature stature of Shiva that could fit even into her wallet. That was one cheap ‘anything’ she didn’t want repeated anytime soon.

“Alright. See you soon sweets. Hugs” she dropped her phone for the umpteenth time that morning wondering if she was going to get any work done in between all the calls.

“Yes. I’ll be waiting to pick you from the airport. Text me your airline and flight time”

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Driving to the airport to pick Malik and wondering if his mother will like her when she finally gets. Lara is in a good mood humming along to the song on radio. She realises she will be arriving just about the same time as the aircraft. She had not been able to leave the office as fast as she envisioned.

Someone wearing jeans was waving to her. Recognizing Malik, she waved back quickly opening her door to step out and help him with his single luggage. He must have taken it into the aircraft as Carry-on. That would explain his quick check-out to bypass baggage claim. Exchanging a quick hug, he unceremoniously drops his portable carry-on in the back seat so they could pull out immediately. Cars were beginning to honk impatiently behind them.

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LIES WOMEN TELL Episode #11

I apologize for an error in number from last week. The last episode was #10 and this is the new #11. Apologies to everyone who noticed………….

This week on Lies Women Tell

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After waiting a few more minutes, she walks to the almost empty queue, presents her driver’s license, gets a nod and walks down the stairs to the waiting bus. It was a short distance to the aircraft. Other passengers were identifying their luggage beside the plane before it was loaded onto the conveyor and sent into the belly of the bird.

She identified her pink carryon with the cute bow she had allowed Dele tie on it last night when he had said ‘You will be shocked when you get to baggage claim and see five similar boxes like yours and you cant be sure which one of to pick’. Climbing the short stairwell into the plane, again she presented her boarding pass to the air hostess at the door and was told ‘Welcome to Arik air. Do have a pleasant flight. 13A on your right. Window seat”

“Thank you” came her automatic response. She just wanted to sit and reminisce on the past week especially, about Malik.

Luckily, nobody was in her window seat. Tapping the Lebanese young man with full hair to let her through, she finally settles down, belts herself in and proceeds to look casually around at other passengers. Her gaze returns to the Lebanese. He was reading the dailies – The Punch. She was not really interested unless it had a Lifestyle section. Trailing her gaze to his head, she wondered how he had managed to hold onto all his hair as most of the Lebanese she came across lose half of their hair by the time they had stayed in the country over a four year period. Perhaps, this was his first year in Nigeria she concludes.

Continuing her survey exercise, her eyes came to rest with envy on a young couple standing in the aisle – although they both looked Nigerian, the man was carrying the baby strapped to his front in a baby carrier. He also held his partner’s handbag while she just held an almost empty water-bottle. Lara smiled again explaining it to herself as a long sojourn in America or London which caused them to hold onto such quaint practices.

A couple more minutes, the last passengers straggled onto the plane and sat themselves in the Business-class section. The door hummed shut. Speakers cackled from somewhere in the cockpit as the pilot welcomed everyone aboard. Soon, safety emergency procedures were dramatized by the hostesses which never failed to amuse her. Smiling, she focused attentively on the short drama scene.

When it was over, “Please turn off all electronic devices and phones” a hostess was walking up and down the aisle making sure mobile phones were turned off. It reminded her slightly of her trip coming to Abuja and how she had met Malik. Settling back into her seat, Lara sighs, allowing herself to finally dwell on her date with Malik.

They had headed to a nameless hang-out which Malik swore was worth more than it’s weight in thatch. The place was almost totally designed with thatch making her wonder how it looked in the rainy seasons.

Simple. They re-thatch” he replied like it was that simple

The place was dubbed ‘Hide-out’ by people for want of a name. Those who couldn’t find it on their own only need tell a taxi or Okada to take them to ‘Hide-out’ and ‘Viola!’. Anyway, they were there already so she decided to enjoy whatever magic Malik promised the place held. Soon enough, a waitress in Hawaiian styled extra short skirt comes up to their table to take their orders.She fancied if the waitress dropped something and bent to pick it, she could see her spanks…..if she was able to wear any under such a short skirt! She chuckled to herself with her shoulders shaking and Malik glanced at her questioningly. ‘Nothing’ she mouthed back over the slow jazz playing in the background. Once the waitress left though, he turned to her smiling “out with it. I know something really funny must have crossed your mind and am curious”

It is nothing really. I just imagined if I bent pretending to pick something, I would be able to see under her short, short skirt and I couldn’t help but wonder if she was wearing spanks or something less comfortable” she told him making him throw his head back and laugh with abandon.

You know, the first time I came here with my friends, I could not help but think the same thing and my silly friend actually dropped his phone on the floor expecting the girl would attempt to pick it up” his face lit up remembering

Did she?”

Guess” he teased

Oh! Tell me already. Did she bend to pick it for him?”

Nope” at her look of surprise, he laughed again “she just walked away. Don’t tell me you actually expect one of them to fall for such a trick! Look at these girls properly…..”pausing to allow her take a second look at the girls walking between tables

You think they have not been in plenty ugly situations already, that they would actually fall for such a juvenile trick!” he shrugs following her gaze “Unless she fancies the guy and just wants to play flirt. Perhaps”

Within her, Lara had to agree with him. She now noticed the hard looks, pursed lips and blank stares of some of the waitresses then she began to wonder why there were only waitresses and no waiters. Same way she had wondered when they stopped at Jeveniks in Maitama the first day, there had only been waiters, no waitresses.Was ‘single-sex-workplace’ system the hot new trend in Abuja! Life hasn’t been fair to most of these ladies.

Remembering something her dad always told her when she travelled in his company ‘Anybody could be on the streets. Don’t look down on them because you are only lucky, not privileged to not be in their shoes. If you had been born into their situation, would you have hitched a ride to heaven to sue God’ he added when she was going to launch into an argument on the topic. She had gone silent afterwards thinking hard on his words. This subsequently formed part of her worldview because each time she saw someone in a less privileged position, her dad’s words would ring in her head again like it was just yesterday.

As always, her time with Malik had not been boring even for a minute. He was attentive, funny and chatty. He made her laugh a lot trying to make her sample the cow-leg because she had said it looked silly eating an animal’s leg when other parts of the body hadn’t disappeared.

I notice most men love cow leg like it is a delicacy. Cow tail, I can understand a bit but the leg, that is like fighting a war and it isn’t even meaty! What’s the point?” she attacked him which only made him try harder to feed her the cow-leg he was eating until she begged him to stop.

They suddenly stopped laughing, staring across the tiny table at each other as if they were meeting for the first time and didn’t know what to say. She was lost in his eyes. They looked unnaturally white.

Usually, when she sat across from a guy, his eyes looked a funny bloodshot color or brownish and she came to believe it was the normal eye color for young men. Malik’s eyes looked healthy, his teeth were neatly arranged in his mouth. They were even and white making his lips more inviting. He had the kind of lips that always made her cut out those perfume models from GQ. Unconsciously, she leaned forward, a phone rang somewhere between them. The magic was dispelled. Wondering what the jarring sound was, Lara reaches into her bag to retrieve her phone, while Malik raises his phone to his ear, simultaneously pushing his chair back to move to a less noisy place.

He soon returned “I have to leave Lara. My mum just woke up and she is asking after me” he told her looking distraught

“Mommy’s boy! I understand. I’m jealous she sees more of you but you should go now” she teased

“Thank you for being so sweet” he sounded relieved

“Oh! You can count on me being your sweet-tooth. Ha-ha” patting him on the back, he pulls her into a tight embrace squeezing like his life depended on it before whispering something in her ears that made her eyes pop. Then he released her.

“Do you really mean that?” she asked going very still

“I do” he replied simply

“Then, I guess i’ll see more of you the next time I visit Abuja”

“When will that be? Do you know?” he asked eagerly

“Nope. Not yet but hopefully, it will be soon”

“Not to worry though. If I miss you too much, I’ll buy a roundtrip ticket” he laughs

“You will be welcome anytime you wanna visit” she assures him as they walk back to his car

“You really mean what you said though?” she asked again

“Why is it such a surprise Lara? You think I make a habit of spending most of my time with ladies I meet on aircrafts?” he threw back at her

“Pardon my surprise. I just didn’t see that one coming and usually, I like to think I see everything that is coming to me” she informs him

“I like you a lot already and every time I spend with you reinforces it for me. I suppose I could assume the same of you?” he pauses

At her vigorous nod, he continues “So, I would like to see you whenever you are in town or when am in Lagos if your boyfriend don’t mind” waiting for her assurance that she was a single lady

“Boyfriend? What boyfriend? If I had a boyfriend, would I have so much time to spend with you?” she sidesteps neatly “I should be the one worried about all your girlfriends instead”

“Girlfriends? What girlfriends? I only have one right now….”deliberately letting the pause lengthen until her brow kept climbing higher and he couldn’t hold the tease any longer “…..and she is you” he finishes making Lara sigh with relief.

The speaker burst into life somewhere in the cabin announcing their aproach and subsequent descent into Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos. The Lebanese beside her brought his chair to an upright position as the hostess walked through the aisle to ensure everyone was in the right position for the descent.

Walking through the corridor to find baggage claim, she smiled again to herself wishing something would make her see Malik again very soon promising herself something better change the next time they met. Soon, her pink box with the ridiculous pink bow tied conspicously to the handle comes floating down the rotating platform.

“Hey girl! I’m in Lagos and you are the first person am calling”

“Yea. Thank God for a safe flight. Ok, get off my phone now so I can talk to other people too”

“LOL Sandra, do you ever think of anything else? No. Malik did not come with me. Neither did Mofe. Although I won’t have minded if one of them was waiting here right now to pick me up” laughing as she walks out into the humid Lagos weather.

“Yea. I’ll talk to you later. Bye” they both hang up as her phone begins to ring again

“I called you thrice already” the voice accuses “Didn’t you see my call? You put me on call waiting”

Rolling her eyes elaborately, “Yes, I had a safe flight thank you. Hope your day has been going smoothly too.?” she replies instead

A deep sigh. “I’m sorry. I suppose you were on another call. I was merely anxious”

“Well, don’t be anxious father-hen. I’m fine. I just left baggage claim. I was speaking to Sandra to let her know I arrived and you know how she likes to hug calls” Lara finally explains

“What! Sandra beat me to it? She called?” mock incredulity

“Ha-ha! Mind yourself o. What do you mean she called me? My friend actually uses her credit to call other people o contrary to your belief and yes, she was the one that called me that was why the call was even that short” covering her friend

“Hmmn! You both wish! Sandra, uses her credit to actually call! She’ll flash instead” he laughs

“Are you getting a taxi?” he inquires

“Well, I don’t see your driver here to pick me. I suppose I have to stoop to taking a taxi” she drawled

“Yea. All that stooping will end very soon” he promises

“I can’t wait. Hold on baby lemme talk to the taxi man” she says to him “Isaac John. No. 5. How much?”

“3,500” the taxi driver spits out

“Why? 2 k” she bites back

“2,500” he returns

“Okay” opening the back door, she dumps her handbag while he pops the trunk open for her to leave her luggage “let’s go” she tells him after settling in the backseat.

“Hello? Dele? Hello?” she said into the empty line. He had hung up. Sometimes, Dele was so unpredictable she mused angrily. If she had told him to hang-up and call back when she wanted to hail a taxi, he may have misconstrued it and said something they may both regret and now she had told him to hang-on so she could get a taxi, he had hung up. It had taken all of 3 minutes to complete the bargain! She decided she wasn’t going to call him back. Let him call when he wanted to.

Bringing out her phone this time, she smiled when she saw the name flashing across the screen.

“Hey! I know I said I was going to call you but I just got into a taxi to take me home. I was just going to dial your number as a matter of fact” she appeased

“Phew! Yes, I know. It will be too soon to forget you already.”

“I won’t forget. Yes, I miss you too Malik. Alright. Talk to you soon.”

“Bye” she replied

Then her phone rings again. Oh dear! This one is gonna be a sulk party she thought to herself.

“Hi Mofe. Am so sorry I have not called you yet. No. I am just stepping out of the airport doors trying to get a taxi. I was going to dial you as soon as I sat down in the taxi.”

“I’m sorry naa. Ok. I’m sorry. Yea, I’ll call you when I get home”

“Oh! You miss me already? Am flattered”

“ha-ha! What do you want me to say naa? Alright, I miss you too……..small”

“Okay. Later” she hangs up for the fourth time that morning, drops the device, finally able to breathe and look around at familiar sights as the taxi sped towards LASUTH junction under the Ikeja bridge.

She made a mental note to come visit her friend that works at LASUTH next week…perhaps. The last time she visited him, he had lifted up her dress even though he had just announced his wedding was a fortnight away. Perhaps, she wasn’t going to visit him afterall.

LIES WOMEN TELL EPISODE #10

Welcome to the weekend. This episode is dedicated to my lovely Friend Motunrayo who is convocating today from the University of Ibadan. More scholarly hats to you dear friend.

PS: For everyone that has been enjoying this series but do not drop comment, please repent from ghost-reading, do leave a comment to encourage the writer and the story may just develop along lines you suggest. Thank you all for reading. Once again, the comment box is open to all of you. God Bless

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She was barely out of her freshly rumpled blouse when another horn blares out in front of their gate.

“I swear, if I hear another horn in front of this gate again today…….” Sandra scowls

“perhaps, it is for you this time” Lara teases

A darker scowl meets her comment. A short snort.

“As if that is possible” Sandra replies “Go check”

“Oh! It is Dele and I have not finished packing yet” Lara wails

“Well, throw everything into the box and go sort it at his place. The guy sef dey try. If na me ehn, all this time you dey get to waka and see Mofe and Malik no go dey for you at all. Na him no sabi tie you keep for one place” Sandra opines

“For una two mind” tongue out, Lara sashays towards the gate to let Dele inside. “Wait o! Wetin Mofe tell you?” she turns back to ask Sandra

“hmummn! Na you know. You better go open gate for am before he start dey think something else”

“You ehn! You must tell me later o” Lara threatens as she steps out wondering what Sandra knew about this morning’s episode at Mofe’s.

“Later when? You are leaving soon and Dele is here. We will chat on phone” Sandra assures her as she opens the door

Lara walks towards the gate wondering how much Sandra really knows compared to what she lets on. It seems something had happened between Sandra and Mofe before she returned from the bedroom that morning.

“Hey Love!” leaning through the open window to plant a quick kiss on his mouth “Come inside. I am almost done throwing things into my carry-on. You can have breakfast while you wait” she cajoles

“You are not done packing? It is almost 10am!” Dele accuses “I don’t want breakfast. I want you”

“And you will have all of me as soon as am done packing. The sooner am done, the sooner we can leave eh?” she reasons

“Ok. What’s for breakfast?” he inquires

“Pancakes and omelette” she throws back as she leads the way back inside “You can syrup with it or just plain with tea or coffee” she adds

“Syrup please” he says to her back as they step inside Sandra’s living room.

Sandra had disappeared into the bedroom to help Lara throw her things inside her box. Lara heads to the kitchen to serve Dele her breakfast pretending it was his and she had anticipated his arrival when preparing breakfast that morning.

“Thank you” he intones before she disappears into the bedroom to finish with her luggage

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“You served him breakfast?” Sandra whispers

“Yes”

“Did you put the TV on for him?” she whispers again

“No. Didn’t occur to me” Lara whispers back

“Well, if you had, we won’t be whispering and he won’t feel irritable waiting for you and I can tell you what I know about Mofe and this morning” she concluded

“Right away!” Lara jumps off the bed and out the door. She was that curious to hear what Sandra had to say “Ok. Done. Now, tell me” imperatively

“Well, when you were in the bedroom getting dressed, I asked Mofe if he had got a new place and he said ‘not exactly as I knew the place already but you didn’t so it was ‘new’ for you”

“Oh!”

“Yes. Then I began to wonder what he had planned that he wanted to show you his ‘place’? I figured he was trying to get into your pants. I also figured that part was your business and you would figure that out fast enough to decide if you wanna or not.” she finishes again

“Oh! Thank you for telling me” Lara says sarcastically

“Is that all you are going to say? ‘oh thank you?’” Incredulously

“What do you want me to say when you didn’t think to warn me before I stepped into the Tiger’s den?”
“Sorry. I assumed you knew already and was just playing along” Sandra apologises

“Play along ke? With Mofe? The guy kisses like a butcher for godsakes, why would I play along with that!” she almost screams at her friend

“Sorry again. I wasn’t privy to that info. Like a butcher you say……How do butchers kiss if I may ask” Curious now

“Oh! You know…..just the way they cut their meat. They kiss the same way”

“Really! I had no idea” Sandra says again

“Well, now you know. You should have warned me” Lara gives her a hurt look

“Am sorry naa. If I had known he was clueless about kissing and that he would try to eat up your mouth, I would have feigned a cardiac or something and stop you from going there. Honestly, I assumed you knew his game and you were just playing along. Am sorry” she apologizes again

“Alright. It’s fine really. Nothing happened past the butcher’s kiss so it is fine.”

“For real?” Sandra asks surprised “The way he was shaking in the sitting room looked like he was going to swallow you and leave only your bones”

Lara gave her a ‘yet-you-let-me-walk-into-it-look’ before shaking her head. Sandra gives her a wide harmless smile.

“Again, I hate to disappoint you. Nothing happened past the butcher’s kiss and am glad. Dele’s call saved me from more butchery.” Lara intones

“Thank God” came Sandra’s rejoinder

“Yea” she says as they close the lid together and pull the carry-on off the bed where it had sat during the packing conversation.

“All set” she announces as she walks into the sitting room ahead of Sandra who hangs back in the room hoping Dele would leave and she won’t have to say ‘hello’ to him. She always felt a twinge of guilt at not being able to relate with Lara’s boyfriend. Unfortunately, Dele being a gentleman that he is, asked for her so she had to come out of hiding.

“Hello Sandra”

“Hellooooooooo” she dragged out in an attempt to appear friendly

“Thank you for breakfast” he says politely “Thanks also for keeping Lara. I appreciate it realizing it is my job. Thanks”

“Oh! It’s nothing at all” Sandra replies in friendly banter “After all, she is my friend too”

Seeing them out of her apartment, Sandra helps Lara carry her handbag allowing Dele take the heavier luggage. They hang back and engage in random chit-chat delaying the moment when they have to hug and say ‘goodbye’. The moment finally came and it wasn’t so bad. Dele was relieved when Lara finally buckles her seat belt. They wave to Sandra while he promised to call her soon knowing even as he said it that he never would.

**********************************************************************************

“How did it go with your uncle?” he inquired

“Oh yea! That went fine. You know, I actually thought he had gotten a great job for me in Abuja and that was why he wanted to see me. Can you imagine what he called he to talk about?” she says to him

“No. What?”
“Guess!” she replies

“You know am horrible at guessing. Just tell me what”

“Well, would you believe he wanted to talk to me about marriage! Asking me when I was bringing the man and all that talk!” she lies smoothly

“Oh really! Did he now!” says Dele secretly warming up to his current favorite topic as he had been begging Lara to introduce him to her uncle as her a-fianced but she keeps stalling.

“So, what did you say to him? Did you remember to tell him that the man is ready but you are the one stalling to make the introductions?” he asked her brightly

“You know I can’t do that. I simpy told him he will soon meet the lucky man” she had brought up the topic to put Dele in an edgy position where he can realize the topic does come up in her family, she is yet to acknowledge him to them, and he was still in the running as ‘the man’. It always works with Dele. Everytime.

“And why can’t you do that? Do you have other plans besides me, other options? Are you weighing your options? Is that what all this stalling is about?” he was almost angry

“No baby. I just want everything to be perfect. You will meet them once we get our wedding money back and have fixed all our plans. We will just go get a date from our parents and surprise everybody. That’s why I keep stalling. That’s what I want – to surprise them all” She tries to soothe him

“Everytime! Each time we have this discussion, you always have an angle you are coming at it from. I am tired of all these excuses. Are you going to introduce me to your family as ‘the man’ or not?” he says

She stares at him openmouthed. The game had suddenly taken a hard twist and she wasn’t prepared at all. Opening her mouth to reply, she blurts the first thing that forms on her tongue.

“I will”

“Good. When?” he pushes

“One step at a time” quickly recovering and beating herself ‘dear lord! What have I gone and done this time!”

“I’m a patient man. It is just a matter of time before I recoup from Dapo’s expenses” he assures her smiling.

She turns to stare out the window, alone with her thoughts and kept beating herself mentally for using the ‘marriage’ topic today. Of all the inane things to say! Why couldn’t she have picked a harmless lie like he wanted her to speak to her niece that was about applying to University of Abuja or something equally mundane he would have absolutely no interest in hearing. But, No. I had to go pick a very dicey topic and now the dice has tumbled with me on it. What am I going to do now? As a friend would say, ‘Lies don’t finish on earth that we need to go to heaven to find new ones’, something has gotta give. Comforting herself with this, she turns away from the window to say something to Dele just as they pulled into his building.

**********************************************************************************

Leaving for the airport, Lara’s phone rings in her lap. Seeing who the caller was, she didn’t want to pick the call because she was not sure what Mofe was going to say.

“Pick your call” he states flatly

“Hello” hesitantly

“Good morning. I just wanted to wish you a safe trip” Mofe says

“How sweet of you!” seeing Dele’s brow go up at the word ‘sweet’, she changes tact ‘It’s really thoughtful of you. It’s sweet you remembered I am traveling today Mofe. Thank you”

“How could I forget? I still saw you yesterday when you were warm and responsive in my arms and…..”

“Yes. I will let you know when I arrive Lagos. Thanks for calling. Bye” she cuts him off and hangs up before her response could betray the conversation. Obviously, Mofe assumed he was a hit with her with his maniac kissing and thought she struggling for air in his arms was her responding to him. Eew! She should have bit his lips like her friend always do. That should have cleared up all his assumptions nicely. Crazy men!

Dele was trying to read her face, then gave up when she held her face so carefully that it gave nothing away. “Was that Mofe?” when she nodded in the affirmative, he continued “you should have let me say ‘hi to him”

“I didn’t realize you wanted to say ‘hi’. Besides, you are driving” she points out

“Doesn’t matter. He is your old friend, we are getting married soon, I should say ‘hi’ sometimes” he argues

“Yes. On your own time, with your own credit, when you are not driving” she retorts

“Oh! It was him calling not you. Why are you suddenly touchy about me speaking to Dele? I thought you wanted me to be ‘friendly’ and ‘accepting’ of all your male friends as you are of my ‘female acquaintances’ to use your own words” he continues

“I was. I mean, I am” she replies distractedly. She was still thinking about Mofe and how she should have disabused his mind of any thoughts of being a good kisser. Seeing her withdraw into her thoughts, Dele turns on the car radio to allow her think.

Pulling into the Abuja International Airport, Dele drives to the domestic wing where Arik airline is located to allow Lara check-in while he brings up the rear with her luggage.

“Call me when you arrive Lagos” he repeats

“You know I will” came her reply as they hug briefly. Disengaging, she heads upstairs to the waiting area for her plane to be called. He walks out into the early morning sun to go to his office.

***********************************************************************************

“Hello. How are you doing today?”

“Your mum will be discharged today eh?”

“Yes. I just checked-in. Am waiting for my flight to be announced.”

“No. I took a taxi. No, I didn’t want to bother you. The taxi was okay”

“Yes, I’ll call you as soon as we touchdown in Lagos”

“Will miss you too. Bye. Say ‘hello’ to your mum” she terminates the call

***********************************************************************************

“Hello Sandra. How you doing girl?”

“You are just waking up? No? So, why do you sound like Alex ran a marathon all over you?” she teased sure of the response it will bring

“Ha-ha-ha Okay. I have shut my mouth. I am at the airport already.”
“Yes, Dele brought me but he has left. Rushed to the office. You know Dele and work”

“Sure, I just called Malik”

“Yes naa. Why won’t I call him when I have been thinking about him since Saturday night”

“No. We didn’t decide on that. I wonder when next I’ll get to see him”

“Alright girl. Have a fun day. Yea, I know some of you have to work. Ha-ha. Bye” she ends the call feeling pleased

This is the boarding announcement for Arik air 3421JH to Lagos from Abuja. Your flight has arrived from Kaduna and will be boarding at 10:00 hours

Again, this is the boarding call for Arik Air flight 3421JH to Lagos. Boarding is at gate 5 for 10:00 hours.

The speaker above her blared noisily. She had not noticed it before she sat and would have chosen a different place to sit. She glared at it willing it to silence. She knew that was her boarding call but so many people had rushed to gate 5 she was willing to wait till the queue thinned out so she could walk onto the plane without waiting on the long queue. She already had her seating selected. If someone else was in it, all she needed to say was ‘you are in my seat and I prefer to sit there. Thank you’. It had never failed her.

LIES WOMEN TELL #9

Dapo knocks on the double door before him.

“Come in” a voice calls from within.

“Good evening Dele. This is past 5pm. I assume you are less busy now?”

“Yes, yes. Do come in. I was just waiting for you. Lara is returning to Lagos tomorrow or the day after and I want to spend as much time with her as possible” Dele supplies

A grunt meets his announcement. Trying to contain his disapproval, Dele continues.

“I have carefully read everything in your school’s package and feel it is reasonable”

“Really?” Dapo asks surprised

“Yes, really. You will find this check covers your immediate needs – application fee, visa application and interview and registration fees to secure your place in class”

“Oh really!” very surprised

“Yes really. Why do you keep saying ‘really’ as if you expected otherwise?” Dele wondered

“Maybe because the last time I was at your house, you didn’t sound so agreeable.”

“Don’t be ridiculous! What did you expect me to do? Hang my boxers on my head and dance ‘Shoki’! I had to read through everything and be sure it wasn’t that mischievous friend of yours hatchng a hare-brained scheme.

“Ha-ha-ha not ‘shoki’ exactly, probably sekem. Lol” Dapo retorts

“Did you drive? I could drop you off if you want…”

“I drove. I will soon leave my car behind anyway so I might as well drive while am still here” Dapo says

“Yes. That’s right. I would be so glad to cruise your baby all over town, however I want without your pigeon eyes double-checking for scrapes” Dele suggests

“That’s funny because you are a more meticulous driver than I am” he replies as Dele starts to shut down his laptop in a familiar going-home ritual.

“Dele, please don’t tell me you are still using this laptop! I have changed my laptop twice already! You are so old skool” Dapo accuses

“I agree. How else do you think I have maintained a relationship so well? I prefer to describe it as ‘being a staying guy’”

“Err if you say so. You are the boss”

**********************************************************************************

“Hello. Are you on your way already or you want me to come pick you at Sandra’s?”

“Oh! I’ll come myself. Don’t worry about it”

“How about your luggage? Won’t that be a hassle?”

“Don’t worry about it. I will call a taxi. Besides, it is just one piece of luggage and my handbag” Lara replies

“Alright. What time will you get here so I can be expecting you?” Dele asks

“12ish?”

“12? I said I wanted to spend the whole of today with you not half the day! You are leaving tomorrow. I want you to myself the whole of today. In fact, am coming over to pick you right now. End of discussion” he hangs up

“Oh shit! I have to leave now. Can you take me back to Sandra’s place like right now please Mofe?” Lara pleads

“Right now? But, I just got you here like 5 minutes ago”
“5 minutes? Nope. More like 30 minutes” Lara replies

“Well, to me, it is like 5 minutes. I barely even started” Mofe sulks

“Not exactly. You started just fine…..remember?” she teases

“hmmn” a deep sigh

“Can we leave now please? I don’t want Dele to get there before me.” she cajoles

“Why are you suddenly in a hurry? You can just tell him you were coming from your Uncle’s place or something. He does know you have an Uncle in Abuja, right?” Mofe pokes at her

“Not now Mofe. Please, let’s just leave” she begins gathering her scattered lipgloss and compact mirror that had spilled when Mofe tackled her immediately she stepped into his sitting room earlier.

She had not been exactly surprised when he did that but she had to pretend that she hadn’t seen it coming. *snort* what real woman is ever taken completely unawares by a man that has the hot pants for her? *snort again* she had only agreed to come here this morning to confirm her suspicions. A naturally curious person, always wanting to be sure her instincts had divined correctly each time. Yup! She had been right again this time but she couldn’t help wondering when this habit would finally put her in trouble. Mofe had called her phone this morning and she was surprised to hear the device ring somewhere in her sleep. Obviously, she had forgot to turn it off last night. Picking his call had just been to humor him because she just had another splendid ‘Malik dream’ which she didn’t want anything to erase just yet.

“Hello?” she breathed into the mouthpiece

“Hey girl! Did I wake you up?” he had asked

“No. The mouse in my pillow did. Whatyathink?” she had bit out

“ha-ha you know you shouldn’t use sarcasm when you are just waking up. It’s actually sexy in my head”

“Mofe, did you call me just to tell me how sexy my sarcasm is?” she retorted

“No. Sorry. I wanted to see if you were not too busy this morning.”

“Why?” wide awake now

“I wanted to come pick you up and show you my new place. You have not been in town since I moved”

“Oh really! Okay. Lemme wear something. Come over in 20” she says

“Great! See you soon”

“Yea. See ya” she chirps rolling out of bed and whistling off-key. She steps into the jacuzzi at the corner of the room, hurriedly washing with the liquid Olay Sandra keeps for guests. She was just toweling dry when she hears Mofe’s trademark long horn.

“Don’t worry, it’s Mofe. I got it” She calls out to Sandra fixing breakfast as she walks out of the room in a terry bathrobe, to open the door for Mofe.

“You seeing Mofe this morning?” Sandra calls from the kitchen

“Funny right?” he smiles crookedly “He just calls me like 15minutes ago inviting me to come and see his new place”

“New place? What new place? Mofe never told me he moved houses!” Sandra returns

“Really?”

“Yes. Really. I’ll ask him when he comes inside”

“Come in. Door is open for you” Lara calls out “Please give me 5 minutes to put something on. Sandra is busy in the kitchen” Lara informs him as soon as he steps through the door. Not waiting for much but a nod from him, she rushes back into the room.

“You got a new place Mofe.” Sandra asks coming into the sitting area

“Oh! Hi Sandra. Good morning” he manages

“You got a new place?” she repeats with a straight face

“Well, you see, it is not exactly a new place per-se, err I think Lara has not been there but you have. So, it is a new place for Lara.” he tries

Scrunching her brows in thought, “So, this your new place is the same place just outside Kubwa?”

“Yes.” pleading with his eyes

“Hmmn. Now, am beginning to get where this is going!” laughing really hard, she makes to return to the kitchen then turns back “You owe me if I keep quiet” waving the wooden spoon in her hand at him

“Yea, yea, sure. Big time. Please just don’t say anything” he begs again

“How much are we talking?” she persists just as the door cracks open and Lara steps outta the door

“What are you two talking about?” she asks looking from one to the other

“I was just asking Mofe to stay for breakfast but it seems he is in a hurry to go and show you his NEW Place. Isn’t it Mofe?” Sandra says

“Yea. We will come back for breakfast” he attempts a flat smile

“Okay. Sandra please leave mine in the microwave. I’ll wolve it when I get back. Shouldn’t take long. Let’s go” turning to catch Mofe staring appreciatively at her short flouncy skirt and sleeves silk shirt.

“What?” she asks

“Nothing. You look good is all” he replies with a smile “can’t I appreciate a fine girl again even if she is my friend?”

“Bring something back o. Preferably, Money” Sandra calls out from the kitchen

“Don’t mind Sandra.” Mofe says pulling Lara towards the door when she tries to ask Sandra what she meant.

**********************************************************************************

Getting to his place, taking in the environment, commenting on the fact that the house seems to have just two other occupants in the compound making a total of three which in her estimate was pretty cool – less people to fraternize with, the better.

“This place looks pretty cool. Just you and two neighbors. Nice!”

“Thank you”

“Does your landlord stay here?” she inquires

“No. He has another house in Asokoro. This is just one of his money-generating investments”

“I like the color and the fact that the flats are not connected to each other and there is still plenty of space for sit outs and small parties”

He laughs “Do you ever see past parties?” he asks amazed “Every space you see, you already see a party going on there and you are not even an Ijebu lady”
“Oh well! You can’t blame me” shrugs “C’mon. Come and show me the inside of your apartment. Am curious” she opens the door to step out of the dry Abuja sun.

That was when he opened the front door, allowed her go in first and while she was ooh-ing and aah-ing over his super-fine drapes, coffee table and chairs, he turned, locked the door, turned her towards him with her mouth open for the next ‘ooh’, he kissed her hard and long as if he was going to suck the ‘aah’ out of her before she gathered enough composure to respond.

“Waaaait! What was that?” she asked

“I was just….”

“I know what you just was. It was a rhetorical question.” she snapped “what I’d like to know however, is why it happened. Why did you kiss me Mofe” he had her full attention now and although she had a good guess already of what his response was going to be, the question begged to be asked. She was not going to be an easy! Waiting for his response, she folded her arms and affected a borderline angry stance.

“I…..I…errr..I like you” he stutters

“*snort obviously or you won’t be kissing me” derisively

“Well, I have just been thinking about you a lot lately and was wondering if you think about me too” he stops waiting to see if she would take the bait

“Continue. Am listening. Don’t come any closer until you finish” she warns when he takes a step forward with his arms making to pull her towards him.

“Lara what do you want me to say! I like you, ok? I’m attracted to you. I was jealous when you said you were going on a date last night and I told myself I had to see you and tell you before you returned to Lagos tomorrow” he finishes

“I see. But why would you be jealous naa?” she teased gently “I have met many of your girls and I don’t complain besides, we have been friends since high school. Why are you suddenly attracted to me?” looking at his face, she realizes he was too far gone in his emotions he won’t be able to give a coherent answer, she decides to let it go for now. She would find those time slices where his guard was down and she could tease him mercilessly with this she told herself

“it’s alright though. We are still cool” she told him rubbing his arms in a soothing gesture while telling herself that was a first and last time not because they were old friends, but because he kissed like an Ibadan boy – like he was going to suck all the sexiness out of her.

He looked at her as she came closer, steeled himself against her dainty touch. He was not sure why he was suddenly reacting to Lara like this. He had been through high school with her when she was a tomboy and had almost no friends because she was self-conscious about her closely cropped hair. He had also been there in University when she had gone wild dating a new guy every fortnight – her criteria had been ‘the guy had to be hot’. He remembered being disgusted at her wildness back then and wondering why she wouldn’t pretend to be a virgin like the other girls instead of flaunting her conquests around campus. It was their second year before they held a conversation after years of waving and only saying ‘hello’ whenever they met on campus. That day, she had come to watch a movie by herself and he had been surprised to see her alone. Usually, she would have a guy there to buy the ticket, the popcorn and drinks while she sat on the side waiting. He would go get her and shoulder the way for her to get into the theatre. That night she had been alone and he was also alone because his date had cancelled on him. Unfortunately, he had gotten the tickets earlier in the day and decided he would watch the movie even if he had to go alone. Jet Li was one of his favorites. She was there for the same movie, he had an extra ticket, why not! He had enjoyed the movie with her company and he was surprised she made such a good movie companion, squirming, gripping his hands and burying her face in his shirt at the right time. He was glad his date had cancelled. Subsequently, he had seen Lara in a different light and would stop for occasional chats when their paths crossed on campus. He never forgot that night.

They were in the kitchen and she was saying how much she liked the way he had managed the space by putting in high shelves since the kitchen was just a few meters across. He moved to open the guest toilet which was off the kitchen before crossing the room to open another door and invited her to look.

“Ohh! This is soooo pretty and cool. Is this your bedroom or a girl’s room?” she teases

“It is mine. Does it look like a girl’s room?” he asked surprised

“Well, the cream and lavender drapes with the lavender rug and bedspread…..” she trails off when he begins to laugh uproariously “What?”

“You think Lavender is feminine only”
“Well…..isn’t it supposed to be?”

“I hate to disillusion you my dear, but when I went to make these purchases, there was no ‘girl’s only’ tucked above the shelf where the fabrics and rug sat. Besides, women do not have absolute monopoly on colors” He announced. Proud she had liked his room

“Do you remember that night we watched that movie together in school?” trying to distract her from an argument on feminism

“Do you remember that was the first time we truly had a conversation on campus?” he was trying to re-introduce the mood

“Errrr I don’t remember” she says screwing up her face in an attempt to recall the memory

“You don’t!” amazed “How can you not? It was the most beautiful movie”

“meh! It was Jet Li” she states flatly

“You don’t like Jet li?”

“Errr Let’s just say I prefer Chow Yun-Fat but that’s not important. Why should I remember that day? Anything special happened?”

“Nothing” disappointed

“Nothing?” looking at him with raised brows “so, why do you look disappointed if it was nothing?”

“Forget it. It’s nothing”

“You keep saying it is nothing but your face and tone contradicts your words. Talk to me. What is it?” she insists coming closer to stand beside him but still surveying the intricate pattern of the drapes “What is it? Tell me” she turns to search his face as if the answer would be there somewhere

Allowing her come an inch closer, he folds her into an embrace as his mouth descends on hers for the second time that morning while he slowly walks her back towards the King-sized bed. He didn’t stop until the back of her calves bumped the bed frame and she stopped trying feebly to push his chest away. Allowing her come up briefly for air and also to decide if she prefers her back sinking into the bed.

“You are choking me” she gasps as soon as he lets her up for air. Looking at him with a sly smile, she told herself ‘and this is why we won’t be repeating this. He does kiss like a butcher’ I need to leave this place she thinks as her phone begins to ring from the sitting room. ‘Thank God’ she thought ‘saved by the phone’.

Mofe continues standing in front of her undecided. This had not gone exactly as he envisaged. He had played it many times in his head and in every scenario, her back had chosen the bed when he allowed her come up for air and now his head keeps ringing repeatedly. ‘What changed?’

“That’s my phone Mofe. I need to see who is calling” she says as she makes to slide past him to the sitting room. He turns and goes with her.

LIES WOMEN TELL #8

“PING!” her phone had been vibrating silently in her lap while she dreamt. She looked down at it willing it to ‘shut-up’ so she could replay her dream experience– Did I just dream about Malik? Lara thought. Was that supposed to be Malik or Dele in the dream? Oh well! Who is this idiot pinging me incessantly! Could they have picked a less appropriate time! Oh! Tis Sandra, what now?

“I hear you moan and I know that was not a pain-moan” It persisted

“Answer me jooor. I know you are awake now”

“*sigh* sigh* sigh* Sandra, why dost thou persecute me?” Lara replied

“what did you dream about?”

“That you bought a new car and took me for a ride *tongue out*”

“Hmmmmn this is far from over”

“LOL. Amebo tins”

Their driver was pulling into a paved driveway with music coming from the other end. Alex was out in front, waiting. He waved at them just incase they hadn’t spotted his bulky frame and protruding stomach. Lara always asked him when he was going to have the baby and he would laugh right back and say when she has hers. He was easy-going.

“Hey Alex!” Lara calls out while Sandra begins a pout in the back seat throwing in a deep scowl at Alex. He feigns a cardiac at her scowl, staggering backwards playfully clutching his heart as Lara climbs out of the front seat to hug him tightly.

“What’s the matter with Sandra?” he asks her “What have I done this time? Y’all just barely got here. Wouldn’t that break the world record if I have done something to make her face look like that in less than 2 minutes?

Lara bursts into a throaty laugh.

“Don’t mind her jare. She is just angry about last time”
“I heard that” Sandra joins getting out of the car while Mofe parks the car properly

“What last time?” turning towards Sandra “What did I do last time? I thought we all had fun” he affected a hurt tone

“Hmn! One of us thinks so!” Sandra retorts, walking ahead towards the door then realizing she was probably giving him a great view of her behind. She quickly turns around and finds him ogling her just like she predicted.

“Arrrgh! You are incorrigible Alex.” swatting his chest with her purse “This is the same thing you did last time we met! Well, you included my front view too. Could you drool less, perhaps?”

“Perhaps” he says unrepentantly

Chuckling behind them, Mofe walks up to the door ahead of them since Sandra was stuck like a statue to a spot so Alex wouldn’t get a view.

“You both have started again” was his only comment as he goes inside the dimly lit place

“Lara are you coming or you want to be the referee?” he calls from inside

“Am coming” extracting her self from Alex’s arms, she walks inside too

“You see, why cant you just be less stingy like Lara and allow me unrestricted view?”
“Do I look like ONTV?” came her hiss “Alex mind yourself o before I lose my temper today”
“Ha-ha Alright, I’ll let you be this time. No tease. I promise. Shall we?” giving a mock bow

“After you” she says

**********************************************************************************

Walking to the bar, they found Lara and Mofe safely ensconced directly opposite the spigot of beer.

“Nice. We can order now. You guys finally finished” piped Lara

“Your friend stingy sha. She say she no be ONTV”

“What?” Lara looked amused wondering what ‘being ONTV’ referred to in the context

“Alex!” a stern look

“Okay o. I don shut-up my mouth” he says

“What are we having? I want a virgin cocktail drink am meeting someone later this evening”

“By meeting someone, you actually mean a guy?” Mofe asks

“No. A hermaphrodite! Whatchuthink?” came her sharp retort

“Don’t bite please. Just idle question” Mofe raises his palms in mock surrender

“Don’t mind Lara. It is a guy. One cute tall guy that behaves himself and controls his eyes unlike some people I know” Sandra supplies

“Na you dey find trouble now o. Trouble siddon jeje yanga waka go wake am” Alex rejoins

“Did I mention any names? Guilty conscience”

“Ok naa. I will continue with what I was having before Mofe brought me trouble” grinning widely

“Heineken?” Lara asks

“Nope”

“Star?” Mofe suggests

“Naaaaah”

“Stout” Sandra offers

“Ahhhhh! A woman that knows my heart. You are almost right though. Ha-ha”

“Barman, please give me two big Odeku, one virgin Pina colada for the lady in green, a legend extra stout for my guy here and for this most exquisite goddess……darling, what are you gonna have? He seemed pleased with himself to make Sandra smile at the ‘goddess’ title. He actually was attracted to her and all the clowning and horsing around was to mask his doubts. He felt he didn’t stand a chance if he asked her out on a date. She would simply turn him down and he couldn’t live with that.

“Thank you Alex. I will have same thing as Lara. Who knew you could be such a gentleman” she teased back

“Alex, why Odeku naa?” Lara asks

“Have you seen their new advert?”

“yes” doubtful where this was going

“Did you hear the dude’s voice?”

“Yes” hesitantly

“Well, if that don’t make you wanna drink it, I wonder what else will” Alex states simply and they all laugh

“That’s true though” Mofe agrees

“Yesso. I always wondered where they got the guy with such a voice and I ask myself is this how a real man should sound ni or is it that when you drink it, you start sounding like that?” Lara says

“This is Gulder the ultimate” Sandra imitates a baritone and they laugh some more

A phone rings, Lara picks up trying to hush the group but the music from the speakers would still have interfered so she moved towards the ladies to pick her call. It was Dele.

“Where are you?” he repeated again. She had not answered the first time. She probably had not heard with the loud music playing in her background.

“Hello. What. I cant really hear you?” she feigns

“How will you hear me when you are in somewhere noisy! Where are you?” he repeats a third time almost losing his temper now. If he knew the little liar, her brain would be working furiously to cop-out the most inane lie.

“Oh! I went with Sandra to one of her friend’s house. Her son has a birthday party.”

“I see. How old is the son that you all are dancing at a child’s birthday?”

“He is 4 today”
“Ahh! So they now play Olamide’s Story for the gods at a four year old’s party! What kind of mother does he have?”

“Ohhhhhh Dele please don’t start. You should know everybody likes Olamide. Even kids. Besides, the song part is sort of for us adults. The kids had their cartoon characters come play games and dance with them earlier already. Please don’t start o”
“Alright. I hear you. I was just checking to see how you were doing”
“Am fine” curtly. She was beginning to lose her temper in this fine game she was playing with Dele. She couldn’t let that happen. She should have called him before they got into the bar so he wouldn’t have had to check up on her. Dang! Falling asleep, dreaming about Malik had made her forget. Careful girl, you don’t wanna mess up the grand plan now, do you?

“Am sorry. You know how I hate going for parties but I had to come with Sandra since you were busy. She insisted and I couldn’t think of a way to get out of it. I miss you baby” she soothed

He wasn’t sure what she was trying to sneak past his head his time. He decided to let it slide.

“I was tidying up in the office and realized I had not heard from you since you got back to Sandra’s this morning so I decided to call.”

“Thanks love. Am fine. Have you seen Dapo yet? Has he called you?” neatly shifting gears

“He hasn’t called. I assume my brusque manner with him yesterday may have caused it. I went through the school package he left for me and I think it is something do-able”

“How do you mean?” she probed when he stopped there

“Well, for one, they would help him secure a part-time job on his student visa where he will work just 25 hours max a week. I feel this will help him develop a sense of responsibility including gaining work experience”

“Oh! I see. Yes, it does sound like a good idea. You should call him though. You know how he is. He may be sulking and misunderstanding your silence already. Call him”

“Okay. I will. Before I leave the office” he assures her

“I miss you baby”

“I miss you more”

“Are you coming over tonight?” he asks

“No dear. I’ll come tomorrow. My uncle at Bwari asked me to see him. I called him this afternoon to let him know I was in town before we will stumble into each other and he would yell like last time. So, when I called, he said he had been wanting to ask when I was coming into town so we could discuss something urgent”

“Okay” in a small voice

“Am sorry dear. I didn’t realize you would want to see me again today”

“You know I always want to see you. What kind of talk is that?” a bit sharply “It’s fine though. I’ll see you tomorrow then? Tomorrow is Sunday, no Uncles or aunts to see eh and if there is, cancel it. I want to see you. Tell them your husband said so”
“Yinmu. You will have to marry me first to claim the title” she retorts

“Don’t worry. Very soon.” he smiles into the phone

Two short raps on the door.

“Lara! Are you in there?”

“Am coming Sandra”

“Sandra is calling me. I have to get off the phone”

“Wait! Where are you in the house?”

“In the bathroom”
“Why in the bathroom? Couldn’t you stay in the bedroom or something?”

“You said you couldn’t hear me and the bathroom looked empty with no music coming in. Are you complaining on my behalf? It is me in the bathroom not you” She returned a bit sharply

“Sorry. Got to go”
“Alright. Call me when you girls get home”
“Will do.”

**********************************************************************************

Sandra was eyeing her suspiciously.

“Who was on the phone that took you so long? All the ice in your drink has melted down. You drink looks like a cheap man’s swimming pool already” continues to eye her looking for something to pounce on

“Twas Dele. I should have called him before we came inside”

“Mscheew! Maybe you should have. Anyway, the guys are waiting for you wondering what ate you up in the ladies”

“I’ll be right out. I need to just call Malik before he calls me too. I told him we were going for a housewarming” At Sandra’s raised brow “Wetin? Isn’t this a housewarming? Oh dear! You didn’t warn me” she feigns and they both chuckle as her phone hits Malik’s dial tone

“Sshhhhh” at Sandra as the connection is made on the other end “Malik, hi. How is your day going?”

“I just wanted to check up on you and ask how your mum is faring”

“Yea, sure. We still on for tonight. I may even have a surprise for you” she laughs

“Alright. See you later baby. Mwuah!” she ends the call

“Flirting with the dream now eh?” Sandra teases

“You know how it is”
“Yea, I know he was the one you dreamt about in the car”

Lara merely laughed and refused to say anything. Standing side by side, touching their faces in the mirror, Sandra shakes her head in bewilderment.

“I just don’t get it.”

“What don’t you get?”

“How it is that you seem to attract all these men who fall deeply for you, yet you can’t seem to commit to one! It’s baffling”

“Hey! Don’t say that. Am committed to Dele ain’t I?”
“hmmn You call that commitment? I won’t even touch that with a comment” snorting

“What can I say! I try but none seems like the right one” in a more subdued tone

“Ha! The illusory right one eh?” Dropping her lipgloss, she turns Lara bodily towards her “Tell me, does that illusion really exist? Is there a right one for every person or is it just a wish like a unicorn?

“I wish I knew the answer Sandra. I wish I knew”

**********************************************************************************

They were barely indoors before a horn blares in front of their gate. If Mofe had not pulled away immediately he dropped them off, she could have sworn it was him again. Looking through the drapes, she saw the black range rover jeep – Lara’s cup of tea!

“Lara…..”

“ugh” she groans “Already? He is so on time. Couldn’t he be like other men and be late” she groans again as she rushes into the room to change into a dress suited for an evening with her dream.

She chose a pale tortoise-shell knee length dress that had playful pleats which swirled when she moved. She clutched her tiny purse that carried nothing more than face towels and vex money.

Babe, you gats carry vex money. If you follow guy go somewhere and he start dey do anyhow; maybe he wan keep you hostage overnight or he asking for ‘the goodies’ because he carry you go shopping-shopping, just carry your vex money comot and call a cab. If no cab, FLY OKADA. Better to reach home than be sorry afterwards.” she couldn’t remember which of her many street-savvy friends had said so, but she never forgot it and it had saved her many times.

“Laraaaa!” Sandra yells from the sitting room

“Am coming” she replies

“You better don’t be coming” came the rejoinder

“I’ll soon be there”

“Ah! Worse” as she goes into peals of laughter

Lara’s phone rings. It was Mofe. What now?

“Hello.”

“Oh great! You got home already. Nice”

“Yea sure. Will tell her. Thanks again. We both had a great time hanging out with you guys”

“Alright. Goodnight” She ended the call with a weird feeling that Mofe was camped outside her window, watching her through high powered binoculars. She shrugs, smiling as she realizes what was happening in Mofe’s head.

“Good! You are all dressed up. Malik says he wants to cook for us tonight.” Sandra informs her as soon as she steps out

“What!?” her face drops “I mean, fantastic!” she attempts a fake muster

“If you don’t like the idea, we can go somewhere else. I just assumed you would want to stay indoors with your friend after being out all day” he says

They stare at each other with warring emotions flitting across their face before Sandra saves them by chuckling and shooing them out the door.

“Malik, please take my girl someplace nice. I doubt indoors is what she had in mind when she put on this pretty dress. You are welcome to fix us breakfast some other time or the other way round but tonight, I’d rather be a couch potato in my Pjs while I Telemundo myself to sleep.”

“Are you sure?” they both inquire simultaneously

“Shoo shoo. Off with the two of you so I can get my Telemundo on” came her reply

“Thank you Sandra. Goodnight”

“Goodnight Malik.”

As they walked towards the gates, she pulls the drapes aside “hey! Bring her back tonight Young man!”

“Yes ma’am. I will” he chuckles linking his fingers through hers as they shut the gate behind them.

“I like your friend” he says

“Me too” she replies and smiles