“And how often do you workout?”
“I jog every saturday and sunday mornings. You were telling me…”
“Do you diet too?”
“Mr Obisesan, we don’t have much time. we need to talk about the real reason I am here which is getting you out of this place soon”
“Do you diet?”
Tiwa looked at the cute brown eyes that stared back at her, his arms were folded on the table that seperated them in the small room they were in while he asked her questions about her body.
It was the only thing he had been willing to discuss since she walked in ten minutes before.
“Do you diet, Barrister?”
“No, No I don’t. I don’t diet. What I do with my body is not what would get you out of this place Mr Obisesan. What would get you out of this place is…”
“I don’t want to get out”
It was not like his demeanor had said anything otherwise from the very first day she set eyes on him, but hearing him say those words was still shocking.
who didn’t want to be free? Who?
“But I like talking to you though. Would you come back here every time until we exhaust the duration meant for getting me out of here?”
“This isn’t a joke, Mr Obisesan”
“I didn’t think it was”
“We have a serious case on our hands and you could spend the rest of your life here if we do not do anything about it”
“You are beautiful”
He said the words seriously, his gaze intently set on her, causing her to look away from him and settle her eyes on his case file and then, her digital tab.
The way he looked at her was unsettling. She couldn’t say why but it unsettled her and made her slightly aware of herself.
She watched as his hands touched hers, holding them firmly but gently.
She knew the normal reaction would be to snatch her hands away immediately because she didn’t know this person and because he was a criminal who had spent a good number of the years he could have spent making something of himself, behind bars. Yet, she watched his hands on hers and slowly dragged her eyes to meet his.
“You are beautiful and very hot. And you should be in your fine office, preparing for more optimistic people and winning cases while you look like a greek goddess. You should not be here for me.”
He squeezed her hands gently, stood up and motioned for the prison warder that escorted him into the room.
“I don’t need you” he added.
Tiwa gaped as the prison warder approached Dapo and made to lead him away. “No Mr Obisesan, you can’t do this. I have to get you out of here…”
He winked at her, “Goodbye sexy”. And then he ambled out of the room.
“Whish kain person be dis?” she asked herself in utmost shock.
“The first thing he said was, where do we start from Barrister?. So I assumed he was ready for me until he suddenly started talking about how fine and sexy I look and…”
Tiwa frowned at Chima. He was leaning on the marble kitchen counter, his phone glued to his ears.
She had thought he was listening to her talk but apparenly, he wasn’t.
Irritated, she looked away from him and continued with the efo riro she was preparing on the gas cooker.
He continued talking for the next fifteen minutes, while he chuckled and cussed and laughed and talked about nothing in particular in her kitchen.
In that time, the efo riro had finished cooking and she had dished it in a plate side by side a little white rice. She eased into the dining table in her kitchen and started to eat.
She looked at Chima, he barely paid her any attention. He was still dressed in his office clothes; a blue shirt he rolled to his sleeves and black pants.
Tiwa wondered if Dapo would look better than that in the same outfit if he ever got out of prison.
She mixed some vegetable with the rice in her plate and chewed some of it. The hot food scalded her tongue but the spicy sweetness of the vegetable covered up for it.
Why did Dapo want so badly to remain in prison? Was it some psychological damage that had been done to him all those years in prison? Or did he feel he didn’t have anybody to live for?
She vaguely wondered if he had any family alive. Did he not want to get out and reunite with them again?
The clatter of her utensils jolted her back to reality. She turned and saw that Chima was dishing a plate of efo riro and rice.
“You could have said excuse me” she muttered. Chima pulled out a chair opposite her and sat in it.
“I had to make that call now, babe. Don’t make a biggie out of this one again” the irritation wasn’t lost in his voice.
Tiwa made to talk but decided against it. There was no way she was going to remind him how to apologize or have good manners, she had been doing that for five years and she was done trying.
“I’m travelling on Sunday to Malaysia, I would be back in a month and then spend two days here and jet off to the UK” he said the words flippantly to her while he devoured the plate of food in front of him.
“You didnt tell me about these plans before.”
“That is because it just came up”
She nodded. “was that what you were talking about on the phone?”
“Nah. That was just a courtesy call.”
Tiwa nodded, courtesy call. That processed in her mind as something else, something else that meant ho call. One of the girls she strongly suspected was his side chic.
“Who was that on the phone then?”
He was by the fridge now, opening it and reaching for a bottle of water.
Tiwa nodded, a friend.
“I was telling you about my day at work and you picked your phone to call a friend…”
“Tiwa, a guy in prison finds you attractive and sexy and that is supposed to be something I should dedicate time to?”
“This is not about him finding me sexy! This is about his uncooperative attitude and how I have to break the brick wall he has put up to save his ass!”
“His ass doesn’t want to be saved so leave him be. By the way, Why does your boss want a criminal free on the streets? I always knew something was shady about you guys in that firm, now I see what it is”
He took a long gulp, belched and emptied the dishes in the sink.
Tiwa watched him stroll towards the exit. He was careless about everything, her, his attitude and his words.
Did he even realise the things he said sometimes cut deep? Did he know he sometimes hurt her simply by saying some things?
Anger and hurt welled inside her, she was done coping with the bullshit this guy brought all the damn time.
She stood and marched out of the kitchen.
He was sitting on the chaise lounge in the sitting room when she entered. She stood a few spaces from him, watching as he changed stations and then finally settled for a thriller on one of the movie stations.
He barely paid her any attention.
After a few minutes, he said, “If you are honestly expecting me to say sorry for refusing to listen to the tale of a stupid criminal who wants to sleep with you…”
“I want a break”
He nodded as if she didn’t just ask for a break from their five year old relationship and two year old engagement and then said, “I agree. Tell your boss, I will give you some cash and you can go to Vegas or something with Ewa or…”
“I want a break from you not from work”.
He turned to her sharply, his eyes an unreadable expression. “You are breaking up with me?”
“No… I am… I just need a break”
Chima scoffed. He stood up, sauntered towards the door without saying a word.
Tiwa’s heart broke. Sometimes, she felt she was in the relationship alone.
He stopped at the door and faced her, “That Lorraine Schwartz ring cost me millions of naira though”
The door slammed shut after him. Tiwa wasn’t sure which one sounded louder, the thumping in her heart or the way the door slammed behind him.
“I have been confused since I last saw him three days ago and I have been wondering how to get through to him, have you ever had this situation with any client?” Tiwa asked her colleague during lunch the next day.
“Not exactly” he responded, “but what I would advise is that you find someone who is very close to him and convince them to convince him.”
Tiwa agreed with that. She had thought about that before now and hearing it again meant she would follow that particular line of thought.
“Go and see this guy again and ask him questions that are personal. Questions that would reveal to you someone he has on the outside, someone who misses him. An ex lover, his mother or his sister. Just find an emotional link and commence from there.”
Tiwa smiled, “thanks Tunde”
“Would I get that date now?” he asked with a boyish grin.
“You forget I am engaged abi?”
“You have been for two years and I cannot help but notice you are not wearing your ring.”
Tiwa rubbed her ring finger absentmindedly. She had removed the ring since the night Chima stupidly referred to it at her apartment.
“If Chima is wasting his time taking such a beautiful and smart young woman to the altar, he can be sure intelligent men like us will snatch you away without thinking”
Tiwa’s smile widened, “You are just an ahsewo”.
She took lunch for him this time. She was not sure what he would like, so she bought food from THE PLACE and took it along for him.
“I brought you lunch” she said with a sweet smile as soon as he eased into a seat opposite her. “I wasn’t sure what you would like and so I bought Jollof rice and plantain and asun. Its great, you would love it.”
Dapo liked that smile, so he continued to stare at it, deciding to ignore the food he was sure would be delicious in front of him.
She leaned towards him, so close that he could smell her mild feminine cologne and get a peek at her cleavage in the tight fitting white shirt she was wearing. “I bribed the prison officials and they said I could have one extra hour with you.” she whispered and then giggled like a little girl.
She leaned backward and added, “Now we can discuss everything you want. From my exercise routine to my beauty tips and my red carpet looks. We can even discuss the weather if you want!” He didn’t miss the excitement in her voice and he also didn’t miss the ring that had disappeared from her finger.
“Where is your ring?”
The excitement in Tiwa’s voice and demeanor was immediately replaced by shock. Why did the guy always say things that totally left her dumbstruck?
“We can discuss anything but my ring, Mr Obisesan”
“You said we can discuss everything I want. I want to discuss the sudden disappearance of your ring.” He said calmly, his gaze boring right through her and making her squirm.
“Anything but that, Mr Obisesan.”
“Call me Dapo and I will call you Tiwa. It would be weird to call each other by our last names while we get personal don’t you think?”
“Okay. That’s fine”
“Did he break up with you?”
“No. I asked for a break”
For some reason, that relieved Dapo. He had no intention of leaving prison and going to the outside world again so he really couldn’t explain why he was relieved that she did not have a man.
Tiwa didn’t want to follow that line of discussion but she knew better than to insist. She needed the man to talk and she would give anything, even discussing the heartbreak she was going through, to hear him talk.
“I think he is beginning to take me for granted.”
Dapo smiled, “How long have you been dating?”
“Five years. We have been engaged for two”
“Na wa o. When does he intend to marry you? When you are forty? He deserved to be dumped. I wouldn’t waste time in marrying you the next day after I pop the question”
And again, that made Tiwa squirm.
“Did you have a girlfriend?” she decided to use the opportunity to ask him personal questions too. Maybe that would reveal someone on the outside she could see who would convince him.
He nodded, “Monica. She kept coming here till I asked her to stop.”
“Did you love her?”
She nodded. The next question came out of nowhere, “Tell me how you treat your women?”
He chuckled. “Let’s just say If I wasnt your case, I would have taken you from your man and given you every reason to never look back”
Tiwa nodded shyly, “I get that. Do you think Monica is still waiting for you?”
“She would be stupid to but my mother…”
A mother! Tiwa’s eyes shot up. There! That was what she was looking for.
“Where is your mother?”
“In Surulere, praying for my release.”
Tiwa grinned, that was whom she was going to see.
Dapo read her thoughts, “You want to bring my mother here to talk to me.”
“If I have to, then yes Dapo”
He smirked, “There is no way you are getting an address from me.”
Tiwa’s heart sank. But she would keep trying.
“You would at least eat lunch?”
He nodded, “sure”.
LESS THAN AN HOUR LATER, when she stepped out of the room where she had gone to see Dapo, Tiwa felt better than she had in days. Since she took a break from her relationship. And it was all because of Dapo. He made her laugh, he made her talk, he wanted to know everything.
She was leaving the prison when she heard an old woman pleading with the prison officials to allow her entry into the prison to see her son.
She turned and faced the woman; Dapo was a splitting image of his mother.
She smiled, walked confidently to her and tapped her. “Mrs Obisesan, good afternoon. My name is Barrister Tiwa Abiona and I am your son’s lawyer. I believe we can work together to get him out of here for good”
The smile on the old woman’s face was priceless; “Thank you Jesus” was all she could say before gathering Tiwa in her arms for a warm hug.
And for some unexplainable reason, Tiwa felt like she was in her mother’s arms once again and she desperately fought back the urge to call her mother.