We stood facing each other; I could see the challenge in her eyes. How on earth did I manage to get myself involved with such women? I wondered.
“Get out, Jake” She said in a quieter tone. “You have no right to judge me.”
I looked at her wistfully, I no longer saw the beautiful girl who had caught my eye; instead I saw an unscrupulous woman who didn’t care who saw her nakedness. In my eyes, she was cheap and used.
Without another word, I walked out of the house, making up my mind never to return.
I drove to Oscar’s feeling like shit. The time was almost nine pm. I didn’t know how to face Femi, but I knew I had to tell him the truth instead of letting Barbs do it. She was bound to tell some lies. That wasn’t the only reason I wanted to tell my friend the truth… I knew it was the right thing to do. Femi and I had been friends for as long as I could remember, it was no use losing a friendship this beautiful over a woman who was undeserving of us both.
I knocked on the door and Flores opened it; almost immediately, she flew into my arms, hugging me tightly. I don’t know why; but I suddenly felt like crying. Weird, right? But hey, I’m only human and I needed to ease myself of the burden on my heart. Believe it or not, these past days with Sonia and now, Barbara…had caused some sort of emotional strain for me. I had looked forward to this weekend with my friends to get my sanity back, instead I had blown it.
At that point, I knew what I needed the most were my friends. Finally, Flores let go of me and peered up at my face.
“Come in. Where have you been?” She held my arm and pulled me inside. “We’ve been calling! Why would you just go off like that?!”
She was behaving exactly like my mum would, but I didn’t mind. In fact, I think I craved it. I needed someone to talk some sense into me.
“I’m sorry.” I apologised.
That was when I noticed Oscar and Femi in the living room.
“Hey guys.” I said.
Oscar stood and walked up to me. He looked terrible; his eyes were red and swollen.
“I’m sorry, man. I shouldn’t have said that to you. I know you were just trying to help.” He said.
“It’s okay. I’m sorry, too.” I replied, placing a hand on his shoulder. My friend was in pain and I could see it. “Are you okay?”
“If you mean, ‘has he gotten over Abbey?’… Then, no” Flores replied, a worried look on her face.
We all moved fully into the living room and sat down.
“He told us everything.” Femi said. “Stupid of him to end their engagement, even I know that.”
“It wasn’t my finest moment” Oscar said. “But I don’t know what to do. I feel betrayed, like she played me.”
“Do you love her?” I asked.
“Like you wouldn’t believe.” He replied. “More than life itself. But is love enough?”
None of us had the answer to that question. The truth is, we all felt betrayed. Abbey had lied to our friend about something very serious. As much as we sympathised with her, we loved our friend more, and seeing him hurt was hurting us too.
At that moment, Femi’s phone rang and from the ensuing conversation, I knew it was Barbara. She had been bluffing after all. He hung up and I felt the guilt again.
“Who was that?” I asked.
“Barbs. She wants me to come over.” He replied.
“And?” I pressed.
He raised an eyebrow at me. “And…nothing. We have a major crisis here and I can’t leave. I’ll see her tomorrow.”
At that point, I admired Femi immensely. My friend wasn’t stupid after all. I, on the other hand, felt stupid. I had let myself get sucked in with Barbs’ antics. I knew now was the moment of truth.
I cleared my throat.
“I guess, now isn’t the right time to say this, but I really need to get it off my chest.” I began.
They all looked up at me.
I turned to Femi; “I owe you an apology.”
“For?” he asked.
“I was with Barbs this evening. After I left here I went to a restaurant to eat, I don’t know how she found me but she did. I’m not gonna say she’s responsible for whatever…”
“What happened, Jake? What did you guys do?” It was Flores who spoke this time, and I could hear the disappointment creeping into her voice.
“Nothing, technically.” I said, trying to avoid the accusing looks on my friends’ face.
“Technically?” Femi asked.
The whole story came pouring out of me, I didn’t leave any word of it out. I told them what Barbs’ told me about Sonia, and how the fight eventually ended.
When I was done, no one said a word. I could imagine what was going through their minds.
“C’mon you guys, I’d rather you crucify me than give me the silent treatment.” I said. “I’m sorry, I know I messed up.”
“Why do you think I didn’t want you to have anything to do with her in the first place?” Femi asked after a while. “You think it’s because I care about her? Ha! It’s you I’m worried about. It’s you I care about. I’ve always known my step- sister was loose. She doesn’t deserve you.”
I was speechless. What could I say? My friend had just proved that he was smarter than I thought, possibly even smarter than me.
“I’m going to bed” Oscar announced, standing.
“Don’t be tempted to commit suicide ooh” Flores said.
He gave a small smile. “I’ll let you know if I’m thinking about it.”
“Everything is going to be alright” Flores said, in her motherly voice. “We’re going to figure out a way to make this right.”
Oscar nodded and went into the bedroom. Femi retired next, after another apology from me. Flores and I were left alone, she didn’t talk to me. I could feel the disappointment emanating from her.
“Are you mad at me?” I asked sheepishly. I respected her immensely; I didn’t want to spoil her opinion of me.
“Should I be?” she asked.
I shrugged. “Maybe…I don’t know.”
“Good.” She stood. “I’m going to bed. Good-night.”
Without waiting for a reply, she went inside.
When I finally slept, it was a short and tumultuous sleep. I had a series of bad dreams which featured Sonia and Barbs. Just as I was beginning to enjoy my sleep, I was awoken by a push. My eyes flew open instantly.
Femi was looking down at me.
“Something wrong?” I asked groggily.
“It’s Abbey. Oscar just got a call that she’s been rushed to the hospital. We’re going with him.”