The jig was up. She knew it.
She had spent the night tossing and turning on her bed and after knowing that sleep was probably going to be an impossibility, she went to the sitting room and switched on the TV. That was where the rising sun met her.
Tope’s call last night left her disoriented and for the first time in her life, she wondered how she got here. How Wale and Chidi met, she didn’t know exactly but there were a few possibilities that had run through her mind. And surprisingly, Chidi didn’t sound like anything was out of place last night when she called although, she detected some sort of weariness in his voice which could be attributed to many things.
It would have been foolish to go to his house last night as she had said she would, knowing what she knew now. She would have walked right into a trap and he would have interrogated her mercilessly. Chidi was a kind and forgiving man but he hated to be taken for a fool. She knew this after past scrapes.
She had expected him to call her temporary line to ask why she didn’t make it last night but it was almost noon and he hadn’t even bothered to call. Wale on the other hand, called her twice last night but she didn’t pick up his call. As soon as she confirmed that he had given her phone to Tope, she didn’t feel she had to answer any of his calls.
The thing with Wale had started off as a joke. They had met at Tope’s party in 2007; she had a big party planned for her 26th birthday as her boyfriend had just come in from Malaysia with loads of cash and was sponsoring the whole show. Veronica was amazed at the fact J-Boy (that was the only name they all knew him by) was ready to spend whatever it took and as Tope’s trusted sidekick, she had access to unlimited funds.
The party was a huge success and was the talk of town for a while as J-Boy had it held at his newly acquired mansion in Lekki. Champagne flowed, there was a smorgasbord of African and intercontinental dishes, no shortage of the happening ladies and gents in attendance, a healthy sprinkle of celebrities with their entourage and lots of expensive cars.
Veronica had initially felt a bit out of place but adjusted quickly and in no time was being courted by many a man on account of her unrivaled beauty and appreciated by several envious ladies who thought her outfit, though a stunner, was a little too attention-seeking. She had just got off the phone with Chidi after he called to inquire how she was holding up at the party when she noticed that someone had been staring at her from where she stood at the fancifully lighted but secluded part of the patio that overlooked the large car park.
He seemed to have been patiently waiting for her to conclude her call before he stepped up to her. Not again, she had thought miserably. She had continued to sip from her glass of Irish cream and acted like she didn’t notice him. She couldn’t see his face and was mildly amused that he wore a face cap at night but he was well dressed; a dark leather jacket that was adequate for the chill in the air, a pair of blue jeans and white Sneakers.
“What’s a beautiful lady doing out here all by herself at this lovely party?” He asked jovially. He leaned his back on the protective railing a few inches away from her.
“Nothing. Just taking in some air.” She had said politely. They light reflected on his face under the face cap and she saw his features. He was dark complexioned, strong features with a tinge of roughness, not as tall and regal as Chidi. Not her type, she concluded unconsciously.
“Yeah. Its breezy here.” He agreed. He regarded her for a few minutes before he continued.
“You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” He said with such honesty that surprised her. She had gotten an overdose of compliments for men whose eyes betrayed their lecherous intentions and she was tired. She knew the power she had over men and most times, she was content to bask in their adulation. But not tonight.
“Thank you.” She said quietly and continued to look at the large compound that never seemed to empty of inebriated guys and scandalously dressed ladies. The party was in full swing inside as the house boomed with loud music.
“I’m Wale.” He said finally, extending his right hand for a hand shake. She hesitantly offered hers and withdrew it when he attempted to kiss it.
“My attention is needed inside. It was nice to meet you.” She said as she walked back inside.
“I didn’t get your name.” He said after her. She smiled and ignored him and went back inside the crazed noise of the party.
Two days later, he “happened” to drive by as she was walking out of a pharmacy close to where she lived.
“Are you stalking me?” She asked mildly irritated when he came down from his car – a sleek Cherokee and walked with her when she wouldn’t stop walking.
“Stalking you? I wouldn’t do that. I’m shocked to see you here right now.” He said, visibly pleased. “Do you stay here?”
She didn’t respond.
“I came here to see a friend – Lukman. Do you know him?”
Everybody knew Lukman. He was that notorious but handsome rake who had slept with more than half the girls on her street. He had made several passes at her in his usual cocky manner. She detested him…and by extension, anyone who was his friend.
“Everybody knows him.” She said with disdain.
“Hmmmm. You don’t seem to like him very much.”
“Is there a reason you’re harassing me on the street?” She asked impatiently.
“You didn’t tell me your name.” He asked, determined to not give up.
“Its my name, isn’t it?” She asked, giving him an odd look.
“I don’t mean to offend you but I just want to be your friend, that’s all.” He said innocently.
She stopped and looked at him. He still had a face cap on, a different one at least.
“Look, the answer to whatever it is you want is NO. I’ve got a big and strong boyfriend who does not care much for guys like you and certainly won’t appreciate you stalking me. Just leave me alone.”
He seemed shocked but when she walked on, he followed her still. She laughed in her mind.
“I don’t want to steal you from your man…except he treats you wrong. I just want to be your friend” He said with a smile as kept up with her as her pace increased.
“You think you can steal me?” She asked as she laughed genuinely amused.
“Only if you let me.” He said. “All I need is a name to match your pretty face…and your number, hopefully?”
She had smiled and had taken his number instead. From then on, she had literally “used” him and being a love-sick puppy, he complied like a genie. As time went on, he got bolder and she got to find that he wasn’t actually a bad guy.
The first time they had sex, she had been vulnerable. She and Chidi had a major fight over a terrible mistake she made and he had broken up with her. She wanted to forget; she wanted to be consoled and as he was always around, it happened. She got to realize that she actually needed him as Chidi resided in Abuja at the time but since Chidi relocated to Lagos after she had pressurized him to, it was quite difficult keeping up with the demands of the two major men in her life but somehow, she did.
She wanted to call it off with Wale but Chidi didn’t seem ready to want to get married right now. She needed to have a backup if the worst ever happened especially as she suspected Chidi didn’t trust her as much as he once did but she wanted to do it at the right time.. Now she knew her procrastination was a serious error of judgment. How was she to wiggle out of this now?
As if to answer her question, her phone rang.
It was Chidi. It was almost 3pm.