……….“You are beautiful.” Kunle murmured.
She blushed beneath her dark skin and took a nervous sip of water.
She cleared her throat, and made to continue, but he stopped her by speaking first.
“I want you to be this passionate when you talk about me. I want to be more than just a business associate, I want more.”
“You are already more than a business associate, we are friends.” She replied, increasingly getting uncomfortable at the line of discussion.
“Yes, but I want to be more than friends. I love you Deola, and I want to be with you, I want us to get married, it’s been months now since you asked for time and everyday it’s been torture. I……”
“Are you okay?” Deola snapped at Kunle, suddenly angry, why was Kunle putting her on the spot like this? “Like, really Kunle can’t you see what a relationship with me would do to you?
“Really Deola, do you think the world is standing still waiting for you to miss-step? You were last years’ news, we’ve all moved on, you should as well.”
In Deola’s heart, she knew Kunle’s words hadn’t been meant as cruel, and were to cause her to move on, emotionally. But hearing herself being referred to as last years’ news just infuriated her more.
She got up, grabbed her bag and walked out of the restaurant.
When Deola walked out on him, Kunle was immobilized for a few seconds. What was happening here? How did what he’d meant as a proposal go this bad?
What had he said that had her running away?
He got up and went after her. She wasn’t outside, and he drove them to the restaurant so she wasn’t with her car. Which meant she had taken a cab. He looked at the taxi stand beside the restaurant and felt like screaming in frustration.
He quickly dialed her number, hoping she would answer her call. It rang out, she didn’t pick, he redialed, same thing. On the third dial, he got a switched off response. His frustrations increased. He ran to the car park and got into his car. Kunle took a moment to calm himself. He was an advocate of safe driving, and knew it won’t do him any good to get on the road in his present mood. It was early evening; the evening rush. Besides, it was unwise to take on Lagos roads in an unclear state of mind.
He drove to Deola’s shop first, thinking she was going to pick up her car before heading home. It was locked, and no one was in her car. He beckoned on one of the security men and enquired if she had returned to the building. The guard denied seeing her that evening, and said he was sure no one was in her shop.
He tried her number again, still switched off. He drove to her house.
The gate-man hailed him immediately he stopped, and asked if he should open the gate for him to drive in. he declined and asked if Deola was back. The gate-man affirmed that she just got back.
Kunle parked his car outside and walked in. Their front door was ajar and he pushed it open. Mrs Lasisi came into the sitting room to see who it was who came in.
“Good evening ma.” He greeted her prostrating as Yoruba culture dictates.
“Kunle how are you?” She responded, her eyes questioning. Deola had come home a few minutes ago distraught, and all her enquiries had been met with a stoic; “I’m fine.” And now here was Kunle on her heals, looking troubled.
“Ma, is Deola in?’ He enquired politely.
“Yes she is, and I’m sure you know she’s in. what’s going on, what’s the problem?”
“I would like to talk to her, there’s been, I think a misunderstanding.”
Deola’s mom sighed, and sat in her favorite chair in front of the TV. Children of this generation and their drama! She waved him in. “She won’t talk to me, maybe she would talk to you.“
“Thank you ma.” He hurried to Deola’s room. The door was locked. He knocked, no response. Deola’s mom heard him knocking and she guessed Deola must have locked the door. She laughed, amused by the drama. She joined Kunle at Deola’s door and called to Deola.
Deola replied her from the other side. “Mommy I’m fine, I just want to sleep. We’ll talk in the morning.”
Her mom knew when Deola was in such a mood she won’t listen to reason, so she beckoned on Kunle to follow her. In the living room, she turned to him and said: “My dear, I don’t know what the problem is, but I will find out. Go, I’ll try to ensure she talks to you tomorrow.”
Kunle hesitated. He didn’t want to leave things between himself and Deola the way it was. A night was a very long time, and he had scheduled early morning meetings. Which meant the earliest he would see Deola was midday tomorrow, if she agreed to see him.
Mrs Lasisi sensed his hesitation, and asked: “Is it something you would like to talk about?”
He was tempted, so very tempted to discuss it with Deola’s mom, to seek counsel if he was being too forward, asking wrongly or wrong in asking. He loved Deola and while she was with Senator Briggs, he had ignored his feelings for her, but when the scandal broke and Deola ended the relationship, he had felt renewed hope and waited all this mnths for Deola to begin living again. To open her eyes and heart to him. But he knew Deola, discussing her with her mother would only infuriate her further. “I have to discuss it with Deola first.” He replied.
“Ok. I’ll talk to her.” Her mom promised.
He thanked her and left with a heavy heart.
Deola sighed in relief and sadness when she heard Kunle leave. On one hand she was relieved he was gone, she hadn’t want to speak with him tonight, lest she say something that would destroy their professional and personal relationship.
On the other hand, she was sad he was gone. Truth be told, she loved Kunle, and were she a different person, with a different history, she would gladly be with him. But she was bound by the mistakes she had made, she had stupidly gone into a relationship with an un-suitable person thinking she was in love. Now there was scandal attached to her name and she loved Kunle too much to drag him into her scandal. For if the press were to get a whiff of a relationship between herself and Kunle, it was going to be scandal all over again.
She hurt emotionally. She was so sad she couldn’t even shed tears. Whoever said the evil man does lives after him got it wrong, she was living with the repercussions of her transgression. What she wouldn’t give to erase the last few years! To start afresh, with the wisdom not to get involved with a married man.
She thought of calling Chima, but decided against it. Chima was sure to rush to her side, neglecting her fiancé, which wasn’t what Deola wanted. No sense in others being unhappy because of her own foolishness.
She got up off the bed to undress and prepare for bed, although she knew sleep would evade her. She heard her mom’s footsteps stop in front of her door. She froze, not wanting to make any sound and alert her mother to the fact that she was awake. A few seconds later, her mom walked on to her own room and Deola sighed in relief. She wasn’t emotionally prepared for her mom’s inquisition. She just wanted to be left alone to mourn her lost opportunities in peace. Hopefully, tomorrow would be a better day.