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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Men She Loved (3)




It was her cousin’s wedding reception and she sat on one of the 50 tables, seated amongst strangers. Her mind wandered until the girl beside her squealed.

“He is here!”

The speaker wasn’t talking to her so she turned back to facing nothing in the distance, but she could not help but overhear.

“Who is?”

“That Dayo guy. I heard he has been to prison, but boy is he hot!”

Lola felt like her heart was going to explode out of her chest. She craned her neck and scanned the crowds but she could not see his frame from where she sat.

“Ah! What did he do?”

“It was probably 419. That’s what all these boys do when they go to jand.”

“Which one is he?”

“Are you blind? He is the finest guy here! That yellow paw paw one.”

Lola discreetly followed the finger, which the speaker pointed to direct her friend and she saw him. Her heart tripled its pace.

 For a moment, she felt dizzy. She wished for the fifth time that day that Temi had not been too busy to accompany her. She stood up abruptly.

“Hey!”

The seats were so close together that she had shoved the seat of the person beside her as she stood. She gave her best apologetic smile, “I’m sorry.”

She had done her dutiful two hours at the venue and she could leave with a guilt free conscience. But she didn’t move from her spot.


 As though she were rooted there, she found herself watching him. A woman was hanging from his arm, but it was not Janet. This girl had supple ebony skin and was altogether more rounded.

 She looked up at Dayo constantly and smiled. Lola felt her heart clench. She knew that smile. The new girl was in love. But did Dayo love her back?

They sat down on a table not too far from her own and she walked over to them, ignoring the screaming voices in her head.

“Hello Dayo.”

Dayo and the girl looked up in one synchronized movement. She wanted to tell the girl that she had only called Dayo’s name but held her tongue. She recognized this feeling. 

She hadn’t felt jealous in years. Dayo smiled into her eyes, as though he were reading her mind, as though he knew.

“Lola. Blue is definitely your colour. What do you think Bunmi?”

“Yes. You look beautiful.”

Lola was struck by the sincerity in the new girl’s eyes. Up close she realized how pretty she was. 

How face was rounded and without distortion of any kind. Her eyes were large and dark, her lashes long and her lips were wide, as though they had been created purely for laughing. She wore a soft pink A line dress and had accessorized with simple gold jewelry.

Lola herself had gone for a blue and grey patterned silk Iro and buba and worn only silver tear drop earrings.

“Thank you.”

“Where are my manners? Bunmi this is Lola, we used to go to school together. Lola this is Bunmi, the love of my life.”

Bunmi’s eyes twinkled. But Dayo was looking into Lola’s eyes and she read a challenge in them. She dragged her eyes away from his. What had she been thinking coming to meet him? Dayo was dangerous, he always had been, he always would be. She just hoped Bunmi realized before it was too late.

“It was nice meeting you Bunmi. Dayo.”

“I’ll walk you out,” was Dayo’s response. She wanted to refuse but he was already standing up. So together, they wove their way through the stressed waiters, flustered ushers and hungry guests until they found an exit.

“You really didn’t have to see me out.”

“I meant what I said, you look like a Nubian queen.”

She said nothing, dropping her head so she wouldn’t have to look at him. They walked in silence to her car.

“I heard you were seeing someone. Why didn’t he accompany you?”

“He had work to attend to.”

“On a Saturday?” His tone was incredulous. He was assuming that her new man was cheating on her, like he had.

“Not everyone is like you!” she blurted.

“Well, I haven’t had much occasion to work on a Saturday in the past few years,” he replied quietly. She hated herself for rising to his bait and she turned away from him. “Don’t. Don’t fight me. I’ll come see you tomorrow, if you’ll let me.”

“That’s not a good idea.”

“It’s the least you owe me love.”

She didn’t owe him anything. Somewhere she knew that, but since when had reason and Dayo ever gone together? 

***

The Pomeranians must have sensed their mummy’s tension, because even though the lights were off they refused to settle down and sleep.

Tumble, the girl, named so because she had a funny habit of falling over when she tried to run, was currently standing and trying to jump unto the bed where Lola was.

Rumble, the louder of the two puppies, was making odd attempts at attracting her attention – he would run round in circles, then bark, then run around again.

She mostly ignored them. She lay in the darkness, and stared up at the ceiling though she could only make out shadows. She thought of calling Temi, but it was past 11 and he would probably be asleep…besides she had a fair idea of how the conversation would go:

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“What are you up to?”

“I’m working.”

“At this time?”

“No time like the present.”

“Oh ok.”

“Are you ok? You sound a bit strange?” At this point, she would undoubtedly pause, weighing her options, considering whether or not she could burden him with the knowledge of Dayo.

Then she would shrink away from it. Partly because she may unknowingly hurt him and partly because Temi could never understand; the world was very simple for him, he would not be able to fathom why she would even still feel anything for Dayo.

 Even she could barely comprehend why she couldn’t walk away from him. He was like a bad pimple that she could not touch. Meanwhile the bad dreams about him had ceased and all she had now were memories to haunt her.

“I’m ok. Just tired.”

“Maybe you should sleep then.”

“Maybe I should…Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

***
So instead, she closed her eyes and willed for sleep to come. She counted sheep and then goats and then cows.

But the image that kept floating into her mind was of Dayo. Dayo winking at her; Dayo carrying her the day she was hit by an okada; Dayo kissing her forehead, her eyelids, her nose, her lips; Dayo taking her innocence…

The knowledge that she would be alone with him in a couple of hours was what was keeping her awake. She was both petrified and exhilarated. She wondered what she would wear.

 Something classy and flirty. A little voice in her head was telling her that there were so many things wrong with encouraging Dayo’s presence in her life; but it was a very very little voice. She could barely hear it at all.

Her phone rang. She looked at the screen but she did not recognize the number.

“Hello?”

“It’s Dayo.”

“Dayo,” she breathed. Her heart was pulsating and her stomach clenched and unclenched. He had taken her number before he returned to the party, so he could call her when he was on his way or if something came up.

“You have some very noisy dogs there…”

“Yes.”

“When did you get them?”

“Not very long ago…they were a gift.” Lola didn’t want him to know she had gotten the puppies on Valentine’s day. He would zero in on this and they would end up discussing Lanre.

 She didn’t want to discuss Lanre. She didn’t want to discuss anything. Just hearing the sound of Dayo’s voice set her back. His voice was gravelly, deep; a voice made for the night.

“What are their names?”

“Rumble…and Tumble.” He burst out laughing and she joined him. Then he stopped abruptly.

“You know I want you.” It wasn’t a question and she couldn’t deny it.

“Yes.”

“Do you want me?”

“I…I…don’t know…”

“Don’t fuck with me Lola. Do you want me?” She stayed quiet for a moment. Her mind was racing. Temi’s image jumped into her head, but she pushed it aside before it could ruin the moment.

Before her senses could return to normal. She wanted Dayo, badly. She craved him. All these years she had managed to pretend those feelings did not exist but she couldn’t deny them any longer.

It didn’t surprise her that he called her now, Dayo had always told her that a woman’s defenses were lowered after 9pm. This was the time that he liked to make his move. He was 20% more likely to get a yes than a no, 20% more likely to succeed in distracting the woman, 20% more likely to succeed.

Which considering that he usually had an 80% success rate, meant he almost always got his way. Even knowing this, even knowing he was playing this exactly how he had always played it, she didn not want to resist.

“I want you.”


To be continued
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