The steaming pot of amala, the soup in the microwave, all abandoned. Titi and Chichi stared at Lara with surprise.
“What? Why are you both staring at me like I’ve suddenly sprouted horns, its just lunch!” Lara shrugged.
“Lunch with Ireti? In the past ten years you have never introduced any man to Ireti!” Titi said.
“Meeting Ireti for you is like meeting your parents. That means you are getting serious, because you always said you won’t parade ‘un serious guys’. Confess, this one is serious.” Chichi said chuckling. “Titi, close your mouth and check the amala.”
Titi turned around and tried to salvage the burning amala, while Lara switched off the microwave.
“Me inviting him over for lunch doesn’t mean we are talking marriage, I mean, he is a pastor, the contact will be good for Ireti.” Lara tried to explain.
“Have you told Ireti about him?” Titi asked.
“Yes, that he is my friend and will be joining us for lunch.”
“First time Ireti meets your boyfriend, I wish I can watch, can you video tape it?” Chichi asked smiling.
“Is it the pregnancy or have you always been like this?” Lara countered while dishing the food. Chichi grabs a plate and heads to the dining table.
“‘Ireti meets mommy’s boyfriend’ that should be a full episode in a soap opera.” Chichi said as Lara and Titi join her at the table.
“He is not my boyfriend.” Lara insists.
“Are you my mommy’s boyfriend?” Were the first words out of Ireti when Lara introduced them.
“Mommy! Its just a question.”
“Don’t embarrass our guest.”
“Its okay Lara, let me answer the question.” Smith turned to Ireti. “I am not a boy, but I am mommy’s friend, and will like to be your friend as well.”
“So you are her man friend.” Ireti stated.
“That’s enough Ireti, please set the table.”
Ireti went to set the table.
“I apologize on her behalf, I hope she didn’t make you uncomfortable?”
“No, I like her. She’s very self assured, I like outspoken children.”
“Table is set.” Ireti called from the dining table.
“Let’s go over to the table and eat.”
Ireti observes as Smith holds out a chair for her mother, she gets up and waits for him to seat her also, they all laugh. Smith takes his seat.
“Ireti bless the food.” Lara said.
“No o! Shey pastor is here.” Ireti refused. “He should pray.”
“He is a pastor!”
“Its ok,” Smith intervened, “Let us pray.”
“Short prayer o!” Ireti muttered, and her mom shot her a reproving glance.
Smith said a short prayer and they eat.
Halfway through the meal, Ireti continued her inquisition.
‘Ireti didn’t give the man any breathing space, its a wonder he didn’t choke on his food. Lara wrote in her diary. But he held up nicely, he and Ireti are both cartoon junkies. I hope he wasn’t putting up an act for us, cos I’m liking him more as each day goes by. The girls like him too.
About the girls, something is off with Titi, she is not her usual bubbly self, and I don’t think its pre-wedding stress or jitters. Something is definitely off. We ll talk about it when I see her tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Femi arrives Lagos tomorrow, Ireti is so excited.
I need to sleep now, have a very busy day ahead tomorrow.
“Mommy! See what daddy brought me!” Ireti beckoned to her mom excitedly as Lara entered Femi’s parents house.
“Won’t you greet your mother first?” Femi’s mom chided Ireti.
“Mommy welcome! mommy good evening!” Ireti said automatically examining her gifts.
Lara went first to Femi’s mom and greeted her, kneeling in greeting as is customary.
“My daughter, how are you? Get up, you must have had a busy day. How is work?” Femi’s mom said.
“Fine ma.” Lara got up and went over to Ireti, joining her in examining the gifts. Mother and daughter were so lost in their own world that they didn’t notice Femi when he entered the living room until he came to stand beside them. Ireti quickly jumped on him.
“Daddy thank you, the gifts are lovely.” She exclaimed.
“My pleasure.” Femi replied. He and Lara were looking themselves over critically. “Hello Lara.” He said finally.
“Hello Femi.” She replied.
“You look even more beautiful than I remember.”
“You look good too.”
“Daddy can you help me setup the piano set?” Ireti interrupted their exchange.
“Off course.” Femi set Ireti down, and she pulled out the piano pack.
“If its going to take a long time to setup it will have to be tomorrow. We should be leaving, its a school night and I have some work to do.” Lara said.
“Mommy!” Ireti cried. “Please let’s setup the piano.”
“Or she can stay the night. I will take her to school tomorrow.” Femi’s mother said.
“You both can stay.” Femi said.
“I have work to do, Ireti don’t you have homework to do?” Lara asked uncomfortable in the way Femi was looking at her, although she knew she looked good, she had taken extra care.
“I’ve done them. I did them in school. Please mommy, may I stay?” Ireti pleaded.
Lara exhaled. “Ok, you can stay. But the school bus will drop you at home tomorrow. Has your uniform been washed?”
“I need to see your notebooks, I need to confirm you have done your homework.”
Ireti brought her books to her mother. Lara went through them and confirmed that Ireti had done her homework. She got up and reached for her handbag.
“So, we’ll see tomorrow.”
“You are leaving already?” Ireti went to her mother and hugged her. Lara hugged her back.
“I have some work to do.”
“Good night baby, love you.”
“Good night mommy, love you so much.”
Ireti went back to unpacking the piano set while Lara grabbed her bag and walked towards the front door.
“Won’t you stay for dinner?” Femi’s mom asked.
“No thank you ma.” Lara declined.
“I’ll walk you out.” Femi walked with her out of the house. “You both are very close.” He said as they walked towards her car.
“We are all we have.”
“You have me.”
“Ha ha, you where?”
“The distance is not insurmountable.”
“Anyways, I’m back now back to unite my family. You, Ireti and I.”
Lara stopped at her car and turned to Femi. “There is no family to unite Femi, don’t entertain any funny ideas.” She unlocked her car door and got in.
“You really look very beautiful, very feminine and sexy in skirt.”
“Good night Femi.”
“Good night princess. See you tomorrow.” He said as she drove off.
“Chic, you’ve been hard to reach.” Lara said when she picked Titi’s call.
“My dear o! Are you home, can I come over, I need to talk.”
“Sure, Ireti is passing the night at her dad’s.”
“Ok, see you in a bit.” Titi ended the call. Fifteen minutes later she rang Lara’s doorbell. Lara let her in.
“I’m being blackmailed.” Titi blurted out.