“Tolu is taking me to Soul Lounge.” Tola said, applying her lip stick.
Ini and I stared at her. Who was she trying to fool? Tolu would show up in a Red shirt, Grey Pants and Bollard Hat and dark sun shades that would have been purchased by our dear friend Tola. That guy is just a leech!
Tola sighed. “Okay…but you don’t expect me to say I am taking Tolu to Soul Lounge.” She said, grabbing her car keys. She turned towards Ini who was still snickering. “Why are you up early, Ini? It’s a miracle.” She was right, Ini never got up early. Ini smiled.
“I had to see your outfit for the Val’s day special. And of course, get to witness you talk about Tolu as if you were having a happy time.” Tola was looking hot in her Red velvet gown and black heels. The season was really something to savour for her. She ‘loved’ Tolu way too much. Or maybe ‘lust’, I mean the guy is a real hunk!
Tola scoffed. “At least, I have a boyfriend of my own.” She said, approaching the door. The Loser’s consolation!
“Of course, he is a boy! He still needs Tola…” Ini replied, sounding like a cartoon character. “Like a baby needs his mommyyyy…” she added with a great deal of sarcasm.
Ini and Tola were fond of taking swipes at each other, I couldn’t be bothered. They were the free women. I picked up my phone and sent a text to Ben. ‘See you later tonight!’ Their banter ended when Tola slammed the front door. “Why do you always have to be so mean, Ini?” I asked, turning to her.
She smiled and jumped at the Remote Control for the TV. “Fashion TV first!”
“Ini, why would you just switch the topic?”
She grinned. “It’s not as if we had a discussion going.” She said, sticking her tongue out. I smiled. “Okay love, what are you wearing tonight? I saw your fingers typing to Ben.”
I giggled. “I haven’t even thought about that. But I would find something as soon as I look, I am certain.” Clothes had never been a problem for me, the problem was wearing them often. I had nowhere to go!
“I want to help you with the make-up. You have to look awesome.”
Owl-some or Awesome, Ini won’t be tinting my face! At least not tonight, I have always cherished simplicity and thanks to that it has kept me level-headed, I won’t have had a problem with Ini’s make over, but she really could over do it. “I would be fine. You don’t have to.” I said, refusing her offer.
She snarled. “I insist. I promise to be back from the agency much earlier today because of you. What time would Ben be here for you?”
I shrugged. “Probably 8pm”
“Fantastic! We would have a Diva made by Ini ready for him.” She yawned. “You see, I have to return to my rightful place-the bedroom.” She said, and walked in.
I laughed at her as she went after her beauty sleep. I reached for my laptop and continued my project. I was bent on showing Ben that my new write-up on ‘Dear Future Husband’ would fetch Millaroca a wide audience. The story was targeted at the Nigerian Woman with many dreams and wishes in a man, of course, everyone wants the Prince Charming not the Toad, even the fairy tales taught us well. I had started writing on it. The story featured Single women and their needs and wants from men, especially the man to make a perfect husband.
Tola stared at her phone anxiously. She was expecting at least a ‘love message’ from him, after all, its Val’s day! ‘Please Tolu…’ she murmured.
Tolu and Tola really used to be darlings of the institution back then; most people even tipped them to get married. Tolu was selfless then, but now he had grown to be selfish. It was all about him these days and it really broke her heart.
She relaxed in the swivel and got back to work. At least someone had to provide for their relationship. All bills was on Tola for their dinner at Soul Lounge, a number of her friends from the Real Estate Business and Popular Clubs would be hanging out there tonight and Tolu too did say that some of his ‘boys’ would be at Soul Lounge with their babes. The best part of Val’s day at Soul Lounge is the Paparazzi and Red Carpet; the press would be there in their numbers to tell the society about ‘who loves who’.
Tolu Scott is a real hunk! He had the body that any lady would die for; he has the looks, height and charms too. Ini even tried hooking him up into the Modeling agency, but Tola kicked against it then. She attacked Ini for trying to steal her man, who would blame her? Ini hung around with the best guys. At times Tola felt that Tolu still resented her for not allowing him get into the Agency because he would bring it up when they argued, but Tola did her best to make sure he never lacked anything. For his last birthday, she bought him a Mercedes E-class, yet he would still ask for money to fuel the car. She really was a slave to this love.
There was a light knock on the door. A large bouquet of Red Roses covered Kemi’s face as she walked in. “Good morning ma’am.” She greeted dropping the flower delicately on the table.
Tola smiled. ‘Tolu’ she thought with a smile. At least, he still had it in him. “Good morning, Kemi.” She greeted back and reached for the card on the Flowers. First things first!
“There’s a parcel too.” She said, stretching out a gift parcel to Tola. Tola dropped the card and collected it. Kemi turned out briskly.
Tola smiled at the parcel and opened it carefully. “Wow…this is beautiful.” She said, taking out the gold necklace. “This is so beautiful.” She admired the necklace and then reached for the card she had abandoned.
‘I might be stupid, but I won’t forget to tell a beautiful woman that deserves love a happy valentine’s day, Love from Wole Briggs.’
She sighed as she dropped the card. “Silly me, here I was thinking Tolu had sent it.” She carefully packed the necklace and dialed Kemi. “Please come in.”
“Yes ma’am.” Kemi said, as she walked in. Kemi could guess why she was being called.
Tola stared at the flowers. “Have you gotten any flowers this morning?” she asked. Kemi smiled. “Come on, don’t be shy.”
She shook her head in disagreement. “Not yet, but even if I get a branch out of love, I won’t dispose of it.” Tola’s face fell. She had a bouquet, but Kemi would be willing to take a branch from someone who loved her. “I have a man who loves me, he is a cab driver.” She started. Tola stared at her probingly. “I don’t like him much, but he loves me. That’s a part of his heart, I can’t take it away from him, even if he gives me a branch of tulip, I would receive it with so much love because I know it’s from his heart.”
OKAY! Tola had had enough! “You talk too much for a secretary.” Tola replied. Kemi’s words hit her. Kemi smiled. “It’s okay, Please take these flowers down to the reception. Our clients would love to see a large bouquet like this. Money wasted!” she said, tearing the card and dumping it in the thrash. “And when you are done, please send a messenger here to return this to the address where it came from.” She said, staring at the parcel.
Kemi nodded and walked out carrying the Bouquet.
David rolled over on his bed as the ray of sunlight came into his eyes. He slept without his shirt and that’s a beauty to behold for Oyinkan. “How many times have I told you to sleep with your shirt?” she asked, throwing a pillow in his face.
“Is it my fault that I am too hot?” he asked, pulling her on the bed. He stared at her eyes. “Good morning.” He said and kissed her forehead.
She smiled. “Keep flirting with me like that and I would forget that you are my cousin.” She replied, as she bit her lips.
He shook his head and shoved her away kindly. “You are really something, Oyinkan. When would you stop turning on men?”
“When I finally get married! I wish I was as lucky as you are, at least, you have a readymade bride. A good one at that!” She said, standing up from the bed. He smiled and wore a shirt. “Do I really turn you on, Cousin?” she asked, opening his diary.
David rushed at her and snatched it. “Don’t touch!” he snapped. “You couldn’t even turn me on when naked.” He replied and winked at her. “How’s that boyfriend of yours?” he asked, going into the bathroom.
“Remi is good. I am spending the night at his place.” She replied.
David came out with his toothbrush. “Really? Every time you spend the night in a guy’s place, you break up the next day. You are no longer a kid, Oyinkan. We are in Nigeria now; there are traditions you have to take it easy here.”
She smiled. “What’s the difference? Men would always be Men! You are really protective, big cousin. I like that.” She said, smiling. “But really, Remi and I won’t last. We met on the plane, remember? And we would definitely have sex tonight and then it’s over.” She shrugged.
He scoffed. “Not all men are pigs. I don’t think he would just sleep with you without knowing you well.”
She hissed. “Who cares about Jack? Not all men are like you, my decent cousin.” She smiled. “I can promise you that it would happen tonight.”
David shook his head. “You can’t continue acting like this, Oyinkan. You have got to respect yourself a little more.”
She shrugged and lit her cigarette. “Respect is for love. Love doesn’t exist.”
“Just because Derek broke your heart doesn’t mean you have to go from good to bad, you are more than that.” He said, taking the Cigarette from her mouth. “No smoking in my room.”
She groaned. “You are too Prim and Proper, David. When would you stop this?” she punched the bed.
David finished brushing his teeth and sat beside her. “Can you give room for love again? I miss the old you.”
She eyeballed him coldly. “All men are the same.”
“Including me?” he asked, with an eyebrow raised.
She smiled. “You are the only different one.” He hugged him. “Maybe if you could love me, I would try to love again, but I know you can’t and I don’t think I want to be beside you as your woman, you are too cautious. Kimberly is just your fit.”
David rubbed his chin. “Can we make a deal, Oyinkan? I want you to try to see Remi differently. Forget about having sex with him.”
She laughed. “Impossible, David! This is the deal, if after everything I do sleep with him, he resists me, I would try to love.”
“Oh…well, that’s quite unfair.” He said, stroking her hair. “You really are gorgeous; it’s hard for a man to resist you.”
She stared at him. “How do you do it?”
He shrugged. “You know why.”
“Love is not enough. Derek swore that he loved me, yet he slept with my sister.”
David sighed. “Let’s forget about that loser and focus on Remi, I hope he wins.”
“For your sake and the few decent men out there, I hope so too.”
He nodded and carefully put away his Diary. “So, Happy Val’s day.” He said, bringing out a bracelet from the drawer. Oyinkan smiled sheepishly as he put it round her wrist. “It’s a friendship bracelet.” He said, with a smile.
Oyinkan admired the bracelet. “David, are you really comfortable with this? I mean the wedding and all.”
“Just as you said, Kimberly is a decent lady, and our parents are comfortable, so I just have to marry her.” He replied, grabbing a towel. “I am spending this evening with her, I haven’t seen her in almost eight years and we barely talk on phone, I guess we have some bonding to do, for the sake of our family businesses.”
She smiled. “Try to know her, okay? I have to eat. I think breakfast is set.” She said and approached the door. “See you tomorrow morning; we have a deal, remember?”
“Of course, be good.” He said, and closed the door gently after her.
Ben straightened his Blazer. “What do you think, Boye?” he asked.
Boye stared at it. Boye is Ben’s best friend. They live together. He nodded. “I think Kimberly would love it, but Dude, are you sure about that place you want to take her?”
“Of course, it’s going to be a surprise for her. She would never expect it.”
Boye took his seat. “Look Ben, I am not saying that taking her to a classy restaurant isn’t good, I am only concerned about what you are going to spend.” He started. “You have a humble salary, Kim would understand.”
Ben smiled. “Boye, when you fall in love, you would understand.” Boye shrugged. “How’s that babe?”
“Which one?” Boye asked, looking confused. He had been with many ladies of recent. “Bola or Keji?”
Ben laughed. “Do you even know the last girl you slept with?”
Boye smiled. “Maybe Keji, but I am not too sure. She has even been sending me messages since morning.” He said, taking out his phone. “Ladies…”
“How do you intend to spend tonight?” Ben asked, taking his seat. He fetched his phone from his jacket. “You know, it was Kimberly who even sent me a text this morning, I think she likes me.” he said, with a smile.
Boye shrugged. “I hope so. And I hope you are not seeing Kim as your lottery ticket to meet the famous Professor Bankole.”
“No! I love her. Although, it would bring some of my dreams to pass, it’s love first.”
Boye nodded. “I hope so.” He grinned as though he was about to say something annoying. “I hope Prof. Bankole likes you, I mean, you live in a humble flat, nothing like the place Kimberly stays with her friends. How much more his home? He giggled.
Ben wore a grimace. “Very funny Boye, my apartment is not that bad. We even sleep in separate rooms, and when Kim and I get married, I would provide her something better.”
“From which salary? Is it the one that Mr. Adeoye pays us? It’s not even enough to pay the full year rent.”
“It’s because Millaroca is really slumping.”
Boye scoffed. “Why won’t it? The man is so traditional; he won’t even look at our ideas. By the end of the month, I would start looking for another job bro, and I suggest you do the same.”
“Mr. Adeoye has been good to us.” Ben replied, quietly.
Boye rolled his eyes. “Yes, I know. But even though Millaroca is going down, that man has just bought that ‘Evil spirit’ ride, he has kids who are well to do and can take care of him, but you and I, what do we have? We live in a Flat bro, you still use the same Camry, that car is already taking a bow, you know.”
“Boye, we have to start from somewhere, anyway, my desk is full. I think you should go and tidy yours too.”
Boye smiled. “Of course, the truth always gets you like this.” He said, standing up. “Don’t spend all your savings tonight, save some for the wedding.” He said, and walked out.
Marcus sighed as he paced around in the waiting room.
“Keep pacing like that and you would have everyone believe you are a murderer.”
He stood and faced Ini. “We are going to jail when we are found out.”
She sighed. “Where did I ever find a weakling like you for a manager?”
A Doctor came out. “You can go in now. You just have ten minutes.” He said.
“Is this a Prison?” Marcus murmured.
The Doctor stared at him. “Did you say something?”
She shrugged. “Of course not.” She replied and pushed Marcus in.
Shola Jones sprang as soon as she saw Ini. “What do you want?” she asked.
Ini rolled her eyes and dropped a bouquet of flower near her. “Happy Valentine!” she said with a fake smile.
“I know you wished this was my funeral. I am not dead yet.”
“I see you brought your puppet along.” She said, looking at him. “You didn’t come here just to give me roses, did you?”
Ini scoffed. “Of course not, it’s only important that we share this moment together.” She fetched a box of chocolates. “We should take pictures as we eat this.” She said, giving her I-Pad to Marcus.
“Are you foolish, Ini?” She asked. “Or you do you think I am foolish?” she added. Ini smiled. “Ah…I get your plan, you would take a picture of us sharing chocolates and send it to Instagram and Twitter and then you would look like the Perfect Model and Role-Model.”
Marcus interrupted. “Why are you misjudging Ini’s good intentions?”
“He speaks! The Puppet speaks! Marcus, you are not invited to this conversation, and thanks for the visit, leave now you both.” She ordered.
Ini rose to her feet. “Humans are of insatiable wants.” She murmured.
“Really? Look here Ini, I would be fine soon, and I would find out however my cream was tampered with, and trust me, I would be back for THE PERSON OR PEOPLE.” Marcus blinked.
Ini scoffed. “You are fine. There’s nothing wrong with you, all those charade with the oxygen mask was to earn some sympathy from the society. You should log in to your twitter account; your followers have skyrocketed in the last hours.” Ini tinkered with her hair. “I think you have around 600,000 now. That’s impressive.”
Shola smiled. “It’s because I am beautiful.” Ini yawned. “Even on a stretcher.” She added with a smile. “Now leave!” she said, sternly.
Ini snapped at Marcus who took a snapshot of Shola Jones and walked out after Ini.
My phone rung tirelessly. ‘Can’t some callers be patient?’ I thought. I hummed to Anne Boskovich’s Everything is Beautiful, It had become my favorite. I turned off the shower. It is my 2nd time of having a shower. Ini said I had to look extremely fresh for Ben. Probably it was Ben calling, I was expecting his call. He hadn’t called since I sent him a text in the morning.
Oh…well, all my Missed Calls were from Professor Bankole. What did Dad want? Was he calling to say a happy valentine to me? That would be special…
“I suppose you keep your phone miles away.” Dad yelled into the receiver.
He almost made me regret calling back. “I am sorry, Father. I was in the shower.” I replied, using my right hand to ruffle my hair with the towel. I got a broadcast on my BB where I was told to use my left hand to pick calls. I haven’t confirmed that yet, though.
“Whatever. I want you to get ready for 7:30pm; David Coker would be coming to pick you for dinner.” He said.
DAVID COKER!!! “David what?” Did I hear this man right? After how many years and he chooses to show up on Valentine’s Day! The man sure knows how to pick his moments!
“You heard me! Your fiancé would be coming to pick you by 7:30pm; I already gave him the address.”
David Coker? I hadn’t seen him in person for many years. We only talked on phone and it was really brief. How could he show up today of all days? “Dad, it won’t be possible, I have plans for tonight.”
Dad hissed loudly. “Then cancel it! Your fiancé comes first! He would be there and that’s that.” He roared and hung up.
I sank into my bed. This isn’t happening…David Coker? I dialed Ben immediately… ‘The Number you have dialed is currently switched off, Please try again later…’ came the response from the Network.
I stared at the wall clock “6:30PM!” I dried my hair and had a quick change of cloth into something really light.
The door bell chimed almost immediately. “No way!” I shouted. Dad had said 6:30pm! I rushed to the door, took a deep breath and opened the door with my best smile. “Hello.”
Ini frowned. “Why are you so excited?” she asked. Oh…well, at least, my own House of Tara had arrived! I sighed and stepped out of the way. “Come back here Princess, were you expecting Ben?” she asked, laughing.
I sank into the chair. “I am expecting David Coker.”
“David what?” she asked, joining me on the chair. “What about Ben?”
I sighed. “Dad just called to tell me that David would be here to pick me up by 7:30pm and Ben hasn’t replied my message since morning.”
She stared at the wall clock. “It’s almost 7.” She sighed. “What are you going to do?”
I shrugged. “I have to go. I am engaged to David, remember?”
She nodded in agreement. “In that case, let’s get you ready.” She said and pulled me inside.
“Ta-da!!!” Ini said turning the chair towards the mirror. “Wow! I should be a makeup artist.” She said, reveling in herself.
I smiled. “You are already a model.” She brushed my hair back. “Thank you, Ini.”
“It’s nothing. Now stand and let’s behold her royal beauty.”
I blushed as Ini walked around me. “You are hot! Why do you hide all these curves in those stupid denims and Polo of yours?” I smiled. “It’s okay. I think your chariot would soon be here, it’s almost 7:30pm, and if he is as principled as your Dad says, he should be here exactly in 5 minutes.”
I smiled. “What about traffic? This is Lagos, remember?”
She scoffed. “Most couples would be at the Cinemas or stuck in Kentucky or somewhere special. The roads won’t be busy.”
“I have to go and call Ben.” I said, and approached the door.
She smiled. “I would find you a clutch.”
I smiled back and walked out in my black gown and Red heels. “Please pick up Ben…” I said and dialed again. ‘No Answer’ gladly he had turned on his phone, but he wasn’t picking up. I dialed again. I then sent a text. ‘I won’t be able to make it Ben, something came up.’ The door bell chimed. ‘7:30PM’
I took a deep breath and opened the door. “Good evening.” I said, with a smile. Okay…truth be told, David Coker is really handsome! Tall, Athletic and Good looking. David Coker smiled faintly. He stared at me almost provocatively. I tried avoiding his glare. He cleared his throat. “Please come in.” I said, and stepped out of the way.
He walked into the apartment. I placed my phone on the side table as I took my seat. “Kimberly?”
“David Coker.” He said, stretching out his hand. I took it confidently. “There’s going to be a lot of traffic, we had better head out now.” He said.
Ini jumped out. “Omg! David Coker, nice to meet you.” she said, taking his hand. She was smiling and almost laughing too. It felt weird. “I am Ini, Kimberly’s friend. She’s said so much about you.”
WHAT??? Ini didn’t just do that! David smiled at her. “Funny, but nice to meet you, Ini.” He turned towards me. “Shall we?”
“Of course” Ini said, flying towards the door and opening it. She was almost pushing us out. “You guys look good together.” She placed the clutch in my hand. “Take care honeys.” She said, closing the door after us.
Kimberly Bankole had dropped her phone on the side table, Oops!
Ben fumed as he called Kimberly’s Phone for the umpteenth time. “She’s still not picking the call.”
Boye sighed. “Man, I think you chose the wrong place. It’s very expensive here at Golden gate, too classy.” He said, looking around. He watched the Lagos ‘big boys’ stroll in with their hot chicks. By Big boys, these were men who called the shots with their pockets, men like Wole Briggs. “Guy, this place dey off our league o…shey we never over do am?” he asked in Pidgin English.
Ben hissed. His pessimist of a friend was going to jinx the mood. “Boye, I told you not to bother coming. Go and meet one of your girls, she would soon pick the phone, it’s already past 8.” His phone buzzed and Kim’s text came in. “Oh no!” he said and dropped the phone on the table.
Boye stared at him. “What is it, Man?”
Ben’s face fell. “Kimberly won’t be able to make it, she said something came up.” He said, clenching his fists.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself. There would be other occasions, and it’s not like Valentine’s Day is the only day you can show love. I guess I have to call Keji now, she’s the only one that cares so much.”
Ben sighed. “That’s because you ‘do’ it well with her, anyway, I just thought it would be special with Kimberly.” Boye smiled. “What’s funny?”
“I am smiling, not laughing. Anyway, let’s get out here man.” He said, looking around. “It’s not like we fit this place.”
Ben nodded and adjusted his blazer. He rose to his feet and Boye quickly sat him down. “Duck Man, I can see Kimberly.” He alerted. Ben slid down his chair slightly. They watched Kimberly and David Coker take a seat. “That’s your Kimberly, man.” Boye said, with a sly grin.
It echoed in Ben’s head as he stared at Kimberly and David afar off.
David stared at me. “You are beautiful, Kimberly.”
Sigh…I thought he would never comment. What a Fiancé! “Thank you. You are not bad either.”
He scoffed. “I have always been good looking.” He replied. I smiled. He didn’t lie about that. I met him on few occasions when growing up, and he had always looked attractive. The waiter joined us and placed Menu Books before us. “I would have this.” He said, and handed his booklet to the waiter.
“Looking good.” The Waiter said smiling at me.
I smiled back and handed him my booklet. “Thank you.”
David scoffed as soon as the waiter left. “That’s a nice compliment; I didn’t know it was part of customer service.”
I laughed. “How’s business?”
He shrugged. “Business is business. Nothing different from the norm, it’s ruthless and brutal. I have a major take-over next month.”
And the terms poured in…what did I care about business? Sooner or later, I had to get used to it, it is what my future husband was going to be doing.
“How’s your writing going?” he asked. Did David just ask about my writing?
I stared at him. “Writing?”
He nodded and sipped his wine. “Yes…your father said you are a writer.” WRITER??? DAD WOULD NEVER BE PROUD OF SAYING THAT. “He said you had a writing job for his Firm.” I rolled my eyes. Of course…Dad would pretend. He had David thinking I was in his firm, how untrue!
“Happy Valentine’s day, Kimberly.”
I turned round to see Ben.