My phone beeps twice and vibrates against my mahogany desk. I pick it up and swipe across the screen to unlock it.
12 missed calls. 14 unread messages.
I scroll down to my messenger app and tap on the green icon. Bernard. How the hell did he get my number, anyway?
4:25 am: Tokeh, what the fuck??!
6:18 am: Aren’t you getting all of these messages?
8: 45 am: TOKEH!!!
Classic Bernard, always spelling my name with an “h.” I smile.
It is now past 10 am, and my phone beeps again in my hand; it’s still him.
It’s been this way since that dinner date with Sola, when he saw me clad in an aqua-blue Oscar de la Renta, glowing, and clinging to his arm.
Bernard and I have a long history, you see. Our story goes back over 6 years when he was the charming stranger, and I, the naïve youth corps member. He wined and dined me, told me I was the most fascinating girl he’d met, and spoiled me with gifts I considered fancy at the time.
We frequented every theatre in Lagos, went to all the swanky clubs, and saw almost every cinema blockbuster together. Hell, we even packed blankets and lay beneath the stars on cold December nights.
We talked, we laughed, we kissed. I thought he was the most handsome man in the world, plus he legit made me feel like the best thing since sliced bread. It didn’t take long for his magic to sink in and overwhelm me.
We fucked. One night of steamy-hot passion, and it was over. I don’t exactly remember how it started: one moment, we were cooking dinner together, and the next, I was on my back promising to love him forever. He made me gasp with every thrust, and when it was over, I was literally drunk on him. We cuddled and I made some silly comment about how glad I was that we were finally together and the bastard actually looked surprised.
“Together?” he burst into a condescending round of giggles and reached for my hand. Looking deep into my eyes, he shattered my heart into a million shards.
“Sweetie,” he spoke calmly, “I hope you understand that we are just friends with a little extra something?”
“Friends?” I withdrew my hand as though his’ had burned me. What about all the time we’d spent together? The movies, plays, gifts; the stargazing? What happened to being the most fascinating girl he’d ever met? I was struck.
To make an already grave situation even graver, he picked up his phone, and 10 minutes later, there was an Uber outside waiting to take me home. As I gathered my belongings, I felt the hot lava of shame burn so red that it permeated my bones. It boiled over, and finally spilled out through my eyes as I sat quietly in the back seat of the Toyota. I felt stupid.
Now, here I am 6 years later; still beautiful, chasing dreams, and engaged to his best friend.
I cannot say that the attraction between Sola and me was completely organic. To this day, he doesn’t know that our first meeting was carefully orchestrated by yours truly. Bernard had hurt me badly and I wanted my pound of flesh, so I planted myself in his best friend’s life.
Orchestrating the plan was seamless. Sola is one of those people that practically live on social media, so arranging an “accidental” meet-up was as easy as learning the first three letters of the alphabet.
We met at his favorite café on the island 8 months ago, during one of those times he was back in Nigeria for a few weeks. I backed up to him and he “accidentally” emptied his iced coffee on my skirt. He apologized profusely and offered to drive me to get another outfit. We hit it off immediately.
Perhaps it is high time I saw Bernard, after all, I think to myself and a roguish smile crosses my face. I pick up the receiver of my office phone, dial my assistant’s desk and instruct him to make lunch plans with Bernard for 2 o’clock, and get back to me with the details. “Make it somewhere nice,” I add before replacing the receiver.
I return to work and get completely carried away. I only realize it is 2 pm when I get a text from Bernard.
“At La Rue already. Waiting for you.” It read.
I finish up the report I’m working on before I grab my handbag and suitcase. It is my style to be fashionably late when the occasion demands and it certainly did today.
At the restaurant, I hand my keys over to the valet. With that settled, I begin strutting towards the sliding glass doors.
Bernard looks up from his phone immediately he hears the pleasant chime of the doorbell. I wonder how many times he’d done that in hopes that it would be me arriving and smile sadistically to myself.
I am clad in a crocheted coffee brown dress, a firm leather belt, and stiletto Balenciaga boots. My hair falls to my shoulders in tight, kinky curls, and my alluring lips shimmer behind a lacquer of pink gloss. I remember that Bernard loved brown, and I wore it on purpose.
He stands to pull out a chair for me as I strut towards him, a stunned look of admiration on his face. I sit.
“Jeez, you nearly crashed my device with those texts. What was so important?” I ask impatiently as I beckon to the waiter for a chilled glass of lemon water.
“Well, hello to you too,” he smiles; that devilish glint from 6 years ago is still in his eyes. “Gosh, you are so damn beautiful, Tokeh,” he adds.
“Oh yeah?” I pause to take a sip of my lemon water, “did you realize this before or after you met my fiancé the other night?”
…to be continued.
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