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
“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
“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!”
“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?” 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.