It was like the legendary kids’ story of sleeping beauty. Just like that; Flores regained consciousness.
Thank goodness she didn’t mention anything about the kiss, hopefully…she didn’t remember because I would have been too embarrassed to explain why I did it.
She recovered quickly, I think because she had lots of loved ones around her. Her hospital room was never empty; except when the nurses insisted that she be left alone to sleep. Her brothers took lengthy trips to see their only sister… it was the first time in a long time I had seen Flores truly happy. Her face radiated with smiles, I had never seen her look so beautiful.
I and the guys did our best to be with her while she recuperated. Whenever we couldn’t visit together, we came separately. I had resumed work so I was back to my tight work schedule. Oscar was juggling between work and worrying about Abbey, Femi on the other hand had suddenly taken up a position in his father’s company.
A week after being discharged from the hospital, I got an unexpected visit from Barbara. I was just returning from work and about to enter the house when I sensed her presence behind me.
I swivelled to face her. It was six in the evening and darkness was beginning to creep in; so I was unusually cautious.
“Hi, Jake.” She smiled.
“What are you doing here?” I asked shortly.
“No pleasantries…?” She reached out to touch me, and I knocked her hand away.
“You better leave before I get nasty.” I said.
“I’m sorry we ended on a bad note the other day, but I need to talk to you now.”
“Barbara, read my lips. I don’t want to have anything to do with you again and that includes no visiting. I don’t wanna even smell you anywhere near me. You and your cousin disgust me.” I spoke with venom.
I think my words were a surprise to her, because she stared at me like she couldn’t believe it.
When she recovered, she said stiffly; “Chief wants an audience with you.”
“Then I’m right here.”
“No, he wants a private discussion. He wants you to come to the house.”
“If he wants to see me…he knows where to find me.” With that I walked into the house and banged the door behind me.
Good riddance. I wasn’t going to let Chief Odeniran push me around any longer.
I think a lot of things had changed since the shooting; why wouldn’t it? I had had a close encounter with death. I had begun to take life a lot more serious and temporarily I had given up on my search for “Miss Right”. It had brought me nothing but trouble. One of the major changes in my life was my decision to go to church that Sunday. Major, because I hadn’t been to church in a while. I’m not an atheist; on the contrary I believe God exists. Besides, in the early years of my life, my parents had taken time to instil morals in us. We had been regular church goers, knew the Ten Commandments by heart… until, something changed. I grew up. Teenage years swallowed me and I rebelled against all I had been taught and decided there had to be a better way.
So, that’s why going back to church was a major change for me. My mother was very happy with this new development and even made me promise to pick her up and drive her to church.
I must say, I enjoyed the service more than I thought I would. Although, it felt strange; it wasn’t bad at all. The minister was a young man who spoke like he knew what he was talking about. The sermon touched me to an extent and it brought back memories of the old days. How does one change so much? I wondered. At one time, Jesus was all you talked about…and at another, He seemed like an old memory.
My mum showed me off after the service, after introducing me to the Pastor; she made a note to introduce me to the single ladies. Surprise, surprise…I wasn’t interested. They were nice enough girls…but I was taking a break from the ladies until I knew they were worth fighting for.
My mum chattered all the way back to the house.
“So, which of them do you like?” She asked me.
I groaned. “Mum…this is the first time I’ve been to church in years. I didn’t come to look for a wife.”
“But one of them must have caught your eye.” She insisted. “You need a good, Christian woman…not those fake girls out there.”
“I’ve heard you. I will not find a fake girl, okay?” I said with an exasperating sigh.
She humphed, knowing I was blowing her off. “I’ve told you now ooh.” She chipped in one last word.
I reassured her again and finally dropped her off at home. I went home, ate and took a nap. I planned on visiting Flores in the evening.
I woke up with a great idea and immediately got dressed for my outing. I did something I never did; I went on a shopping spree. Not for me. For Flores. I knew the kind of things she liked, so I bought them; a pair of red heels I knew she’d love, a diamond bracelet and a Gucci handbag. Don’t be surprised at how I know all this…I’ve known Flores for eight years so I practically know what she loves wearing.
To top it all, I got her chocolate, flowers and a card. I don’t know how this crazy idea got into my head; but I did it anyway. After all, she was my dearest friend and she’d do the same for me if she had the opportunity. By the time I was done shopping, it was dark.
I drove to the hospital humming. It didn’t bother me that I had spent a fortune a few hours ago…in fact, it made me happy in an odd way.
Luckily for me, when I got to the hospital, her boyfriend was just leaving. We talked a while before he left. Flores beamed at me when we were finally alone.
“Hey cutie.” I said, with a smile.
“Hi. Didn’t know you were coming.” She said. She was sitting up, looking pretty in the dim light.
“Wanted to surprise you. Speaking of surprises, I have a surprise for you.” I moved close to the bed, hiding the shopping bags behind me.
“Hmmm…I love surprises. What is it?” She asked. “Sonia’s head on a platter of gold?”
I laughed. “Indeed.”
“Show me, show me.” She giggled.
“Close your eyes.” I ordered.
“That kind of surprise?” She raised an eyebrow at me.
I nodded. Then she obeyed.
Gently, I laid out all my purchases on the bed. I took out the bracelet and clasped it on her hand.
“Open your eyes.” I whispered.
She did. I can’t describe the next few moments vividly, but I would say this; I would pay any amount to see that look on her face again.
She alternated between laughing, crying and hugging her new items.
“The bracelet is beautiful! Oh! Jake!” She hugged me. “Thank you!”
It felt good to make her happy. I felt like I was floating in air.
“You like them?” I asked.
“Like? I love them!” She hugged me again.
Hugging Flores was not new to me, I had become used to it over the years, which is why I can’t explain fully what happened in the next few minutes. Something happened that changed everything.
One moment we were hugging, and the next our faces were inches away from each other.
I found myself looking into her eyes and losing myself in them…at that moment, she was no longer Flores my friend. She was Flores…the woman.
I don’t know who made the first move, but the next thing we knew our lips were locked in a kiss…