“Except if a grown man has become too tiny to find, I suggest we stop wasting our time.” Moira said as she shot a glance at a busy Aisha. Aisha wouldn’t budge as she looked behind the couch. “Aisha….” Moira stressed as she watched her friend search hopelessly.
Aisha pushed the couch aside and made for the inner house. She had to find something. Anything. She needed to find something that would assure her that the game was still on and far from over. She needed to be sure that Craig had not walked out of her life forever. The apartment was as clean as new. Even the plates in the kitchen were washed and stacked! Behind her façade, she had hoped that something meaningful might come out of this relationship and that moment when she ‘thought’ that Craig actually proposed to her seemed to be the turning point. He had captured her heart behind the piles of their lies and deceit. However, she was alone in those fantasies and dreams. Craig had been the real player all along. There was a game plan and he stuck to it. She took her seat on the edge of Craig’s bed as she stared at the hollow room. She took a deep breath as she cast her mind to the few moments she had shared with Craig. They were moments that she knew she had to cherish forever, they had gone and were gone forever.
Her heart pulsed at almost the same rate as the day that she had crashed into Craig’s arm in tears. She closed her eyes as she relived the moments of his heart close to hers. She knew his heart did beat that day. She knew that for that moment they were locked in an embrace, there was no game player among them. There was no leader. It was just two helpless people in the room in an embrace, needing each other.
She wiped a tear drop from her face as she thought of her best moment with Craig. A moment she thought marked the end of their folly. A moment that she had believed was the turning point for them. He had proposed to her. Craig’s victory was not in his ring or in his suit. She had seen it in his eyes that day. For sure, she had seen the wrong thing. The man she fell for was a first class con artist. The combination of a thief, liar and a loner. He had all the attributes to sway any woman. She acknowledged his physical attributes but wasn’t totally smitten by them. The moments that welled in her was when he reached to her loneliness and sealed them. For that, she was grateful. But then, she couldn’t believe he was gone, that he couldn’t even stay and make what was a lie seem real and be real. Her intention was to tell Craig how she felt about him. There would be no need for that now, at least, she now knew how he felt about her. Not everyone could really find true love. For women like her, there was no true love. She had tried it and it went wrong. How did she ever fall in love? Aisha’s heart was filled with questions that needed to be answered. A song lyric had spelt love to be ‘a beautiful thing’. There was nothing beautiful about how she felt. She felt defeated, sad and most of all, weak. She had been too weak with Craig, she had let him creep in effortlessly to her heart and the mighty amazon without love did finally beat for another.
Moira took a deep breath as she watched her best friend cry without holds. Aisha wasn’t fighting back tears or wiping them off classically. She was bleeding out her emotions the only way her eyes could. She was in tears and Moira knew this was the Aisha that she might have been proud to have under another circumstances, but right now, her friend was hurting and hurting badly. Moira joined Aisha on the bed. As she reached out to Aisha, she turned away and buried herself in the pillow. Aisha wanted to cry. Maybe it was best to let her cry at this moment. Moira could only watch as her friend cried.
Crying had never been Aisha’s style. She would just sit at the piano and let it all out with hard strokings of the chords until she had started to sweat. Crying seemed good and Moira wasn’t about to ruin one of their best moments. For Moira, she had found a new angle to taunt Aisha from. For Aisha, she had learned how to heal. Moira drew the sheets over Aisha as the loud tears declined gradually to the sob phase and eventually she couldn’t hear anything. Aisha was asleep. She had cried for over an hour. Moira stared at the dried marks from the tears that had formed on Aisha face and shook her head sadly.
Bolu stared outside the window and let out a huge roar. He smiled as his voice echoed into the distance. He paused again and let out another roar and he continued until the fifth time. He smiled at Craig. “You might want to try it, it’s refreshing.”
“Keep that up and they are going to be sending Security up here in no time.” Craig replied as he sipped his drink.
Bolu smiled as he took his seat beside Craig. “How do you feel? You own so much money right now. Aisha was good business.”
Craig dropped his glass and walked over to the window. “I am ashamed.”
“Ashamed? Bro! No one would be ashamed to have the money you have right now.” Bolu replied as he joined Craig at the window. “Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Poverty is gone forever!” he shouted.
“I am not proud of it.” Craig replied.
Bolu tapped him. “Guy! Why you dey do like this na? Money is money o! You worked for this one! After all, you’ve gone everywhere with her, appeared on papers, at least, she won’t be tagged as a woman who never had any man and it is all thanks to you.”
“I stole this money. I didn’t work for it.” He replied as he bent over the window. “Besides, Aisha doesn’t need to beg for a man. She is a woman who needed real love. The best she could find.”
Bolu chuckled. “Well, she chose the wrong guy for the job. Dude, I think we can hire some men to look for Vicky for you, now that you have some cash to spare, I mean, she is a good girl and maybe you can actually care about her too.”
“Why not? She loves you. You just have to love her back. Simple.”
Craig shook his head. “Never happening.”
“Are you feeling remorseful about this Aisha thing? That babe isn’t bothered, you dey kill yourself. Her money flows.”
Craig ignored him and took a seat.
“When you hype prices for people in the mall and make some profit, what do you call it?”
Craig stared at him. “Business.”
Bolu nodded. “Do you feel sorry afterwards?”
“No. Why should I?” Craig replied.
Bolu smiled. “Well, this is business, bro. You shouldn’t feel bad.” He said grinning. “Business, bro! Good business!”
“Aisha might have been business, but she stopped being business for me.” Craig replied almost inaudibly but loud enough for Bolu to hear.
Bolu’s smile faded as he stared at Craig’s face. Craig wasn’t looking like the guy who pinned down his feminine conquest for fun and without remorse. He was looking far from the guy who was on a mission to get the best out of Aisha Bello and run. It was typical for most guys to change their minds once deep into such relationships, but Craig didn’t – not even when a father pleaded. He might have felt pity for Aisha, but he still had his intent straight. Bolu took a deep breath. “What’s going on, Craig?”
“I care about Aisha. I want to be there for her, I want to fight for her. I want to protect her. I want to love her. I want to be her friend, confidant and lover. I want to be the man she wakes up and sees, the man who kisses her to sleep, I want to be everything in her life. I just want to be the one in her life.” Craig blurted. Bolu’s jaw was agape as he listened to Craig. Craig took a deep breath as he stared at Bolu. “I love her.”
“Oh no…” Bolu said as he slumped into the chair.
Craig wiped his forehead. “I don’t know what happened to me. I swear. It just happened. I can’t explain how I feel about Aisha.”
“Then why did you take the money?” Bolu asked.
Craig stared at him confusingly. “You told me to.”
Bolu stuttered. “Clearly, I didn’t know you felt this strong about her. Why didn’t you just come clean?”
“Come clean? Aisha Bello? How do you come clean before a woman that is almost perfect? What kind of love do I have to offer her?”
Bolu shrugged. “Your imperfection.”
Bolu nodded. “Beautiful imperfections.”
“Oh God…” Craig said as he buried his head in his hands.
“I am sorry I pushed you, but I thought you got this covered.”
Bolu smiled as he took a seat. He watched Craig as he stroked his forehead. Bolu started to snicker. Craig stared at him as Bolu had now exploded into what seemed like a mocking laugh.
“What is it?” Craig asked.
Bolu struggled to catch his breath. “Look at you, man. I can’t recognise you. ‘I want to love her, I want to be her friend, confidant, and lover…I want to be the man she wakes up and sees and blah blah blah. You sound like a sixteen year old boy. Have you been watching those Mexican soaps?”
Craig smiled faintly as he tried to turn his face from Bolu.
“Oh my gosh! You love her!” Bolu shouted.
“Here’s some water.” Moira said as she handed Aisha a glass of water.
Aisha stared at the glass. “What is the water supposed to do for me?”
“Err…Water regulates Homeostasis.” Moira said proudly. “I am your fairy godmother.”
Aisha nodded. “Turns out that’s the only thing you must remember from school.” She replied as she set the glass on the side table. “Since you are playing fairy godmother, you might as well serve me something real to eat.”
“Water is the appetizer.”
Aisha rolled her eyes. “Water? Appetizer? Where did you learn that from? Moira’s special cookery book for idiots?”
Moira pinched her. “Easy on me. I am being nice to you.”
Aisha smiled. “Thank you. But, what I need now is my money.”
Aisha stared at her. “The money that Craig-fine-faced-robber stole from me.”
Moira smiled as she took her seat beside Aisha. “What did you dream about when you slept?”
Moira raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure? This is a plan for you to see Craig again, right?”
“Why would I want to see a thief again? For your information, I am over him.”
Moira smiled. “It doesn’t take a genie to know that you can’t fall out of love in a day. So, keep that lie to yourself, darling.”
“I don’t care what you say, right now. I am going to work this out.” Aisha replied, getting off the bed.
Moira nodded. “What plans do you have to recover your money?”
“I have none yet. But I want you to think of it.”
Moira shook her head. “No, I am not very proud of playing a part in that sham we did. Even though Alhaji hasn’t directly confronted me, I know he is really disappointed in me, so, I don’t want to have to think of anything now.”
“What are you afraid of? Is your mind so full of filth that you can’t birth a clean plan?” Aisha asked with a smile.
Moira smiled back. She had a light Aisha with her. “I know you still want to see Craig.”
“A part of me wants to see him and ask him lots of questions and afterwards slap him.” Aisha replied.
Moira nodded. “That’s all? You forgot something. After the slap…”
“Then kiss him.” Aisha replied.
Moira smiled. “Okay, so do we set our dogs on his trail? I assure you they’ll comb him out from wherever he is hiding on the surface of the earth.”
“Why don’t we declare him wanting by reporting him to the police?” Aisha asked with a grin.
Moira frowned. “Aisha? Do you know what that means?”
Aisha shrugged. “He becomes more popular by gracing newspapers and magazines.”
“No, ma. You, my friend, become the ridicule of the town for having a scammer as a fiancée. I am assuming you forgot the society knows about the both of you. We are going private on this one.” Moira replied.
Aisha nodded. “But what if they can’t find him? There are no numbers to call or places to go, he’s disappeared into the thin air.”
“Well, we just have to trust our guys to find him for us. I believe they will.”
Aisha wanted to see Craig again. She knew she might not have the words to say if they eventually did meet again and she might feel low of herself realising that she had wasted her time loving a man that only wanted her for the game, but, she would take her chances. She would want to see him again, even if it is before…she throws him in jail.
“Any word from Alhaji yet?” Moira asked, jolting Aisha out of her thoughts.
Aisha shook her head. “I apologized to him and I really hope that he could forgive me.”
“I know he will. I believe he doesn’t hold it too much to heart.” Moira replied.
Aisha rolled her eyes. “Why did he will all my fortune to my child?”
“Be grateful, at least, he didn’t will it to an outsider.” Moira replied with a smile.
“Dad is pissed at me. I worked hard to earn all what the family has. Why did he have to that to me?”
Moira smiled. “He is only securing the future of your baby. I would do anything to be born of you right now.” Moira added with a grin. “Where’s Hakeem?”
“Why are you asking me?”
“Maybe because I think he would have tried to contact you?”
Aisha fetched her phone from her purse. “He hasn’t and I haven’t either. Do you want to speak to him?”
“No. But, I have a feeling that Hakeem might just be…you know?” Moira added with a grin.
Aisha rolled her eyes. “Where are you heading with this, Moira?”
“I am only suggesting something that might be a possibility, the reality of which, we have closed our eyes.”
Aisha smiled. “No, we haven’t closed our eyes. I have closed my eyes to it, you still have your eyes open and you are still very much ‘legally’ single. So, who knows?” Aisha asked as she walked away.
Bolu joined Craig in the living room. “What have you decided?”
“I don’t know. I can’t keep running like a coward.”
Bolu nodded. “But you can’t act like a fool either. Right now, you have bruised one of the most powerful families and I am sure that they will have their guns blazing for you.”
Craig took a deep breath. “I need to talk to Aisha.”
“It won’t be easy to go and see her. Why don’t you call her? Maybe you both can arrange to meet somewhere and clear this up.”
Craig shrugged. “That might be an option, but I can’t call her. I want to do things well and do them right.”
“I just think that going to her is like walking into a trap right now. There would be police everywhere looking for you. We stole…I mean, you stole!” Bolu said with a smile.
Craig sighed. “Well, let them pick me up. I am going to her and I am going to tell her how sorry I am and how I feel about her.”
“She is not going to believe you and you know why?”
“Why? Because I stole some money?”
Bolu smiled. “It is not only about the money. Her father just willed to his grandchild, right? Do you think they are going to trust you with that?”
“You might have a point, but we all make mistakes and I have made mine and I am terribly sorry about it. Is that so hard?”
Bolu smiled. “It isn’t. Except that you are directing it to the wrong person. I am not Aisha.”
“What if she doesn’t want me?”
Bolu shrugged. “That’s a huge possibility and you have to understand the fact that she is not obligated to forgive you. So, whatever you do, try not to be your usual self.”
“And what is that?”
Bolu smiled. “Cocky. False humility is the new cool.”
“I care about her, nothing here is false.” Craig retorted, feeling offended.
Bolu nodded. “It’s a line I picked up, don’t take it personal.”
Craig took a deep breath and approached the door. “Wish me luck and if I don’t return.”
“Go and win the woman you love, don’t come back if you don’t win her heart.”
Craig stared at him.
“Well, the possibility of that is high, so, maybe don’t come back at all, I can enjoy some of your acquired riches.” Bolu said with a smile.
Craig showed him two cards. “I have them with me.” He replied and walked out.
Aisha handed some files to Alhaji Ibrahim. “We have good returns here, Sir.”
“I’ll look at them after lunch. Do you want to go to lunch with me?”
Aisha smiled. “Thank you, Dad. But, I am going with Moira.”
“That’s okay by me, I’ll just see you after lunch then before the next meeting.”
She nodded. “Okay, sir.”
“When are we discussing the details of your break up to the press?”
“Details?” Aisha asked, looking stunned.
He smiled. “At least, we have to let them know that there won’t be any wedding again…at least, not yet.”
“Dad, we’ll discuss after lunch. Bye.” Aisha replied and hurried out.
Alhaji took his seat and stared at Aisha’s picture on his table. The door opened after a few minutes and Craig stood before him. “What??? Why are you here?”
Craig blinked as he approached Alhaji. “Sir, I am deeply sorry for disappointing you.” He said.