I was stunned.
“When did that happen?” I asked. “After I kissed you or before?”
I couldn’t keep thee sarcasm out of my voice.
“Don’t you dare talk to me that way, Jake. Do you think my life is hinged on one kiss shared in the heat of the moment? You seem to forget that I have watched you from the beginning of this ‘search’ for Miss Right. It has become a game to you, getting entangled with dangerous women. Do you think I’m Barbara? I’m not going to be one of your play things, Jake.” She spun away from me, her eyes blazing.
“I’m not asking you to be, Flores. You mean more to me than that. And you’re wrong…I don’t think this is a game. It’s my life and I take it very serious.” I said.
“I will not take any decision based on one kiss, Jake. We are friends and I’m getting married. Period.” The soft vulnerable woman was gone, her stubbornness was back.
“Actually, make it two kisses. Plus the one we just shared.” Funny, all I could think of was kissing her again.
“Whatever.” She waved me away. “You need to leave now. This…whatever ‘this’ is, is over. No more kisses. I’m engaged now.”
It dawned on me that this was more than sharing a kiss or two. I wanted Flores and I wasn’t willing to let her go.
“Are you going to marry someone you don’t love?” I asked.
She smirked at me. “I don’t recall mentioning that I don’t love Fred. He is…a wonderful man. I’ve dated him for a while now and it’s only appropriate we tie the knot. I’ve waited so long for this and I won’t jeopardise it with a fling with you.”
I blinked. A fling? Is that what she thought this was about? I almost laughed. Flores was worth more than a fling, she was what every man wanted…she was what I wanted. Although it had taken me a while to come round to it; the scales had just fallen from my eyes and I realised I wanted Flores…I had been looking outside for something I already had close to me. My Miss Right had been with me all along; I had only failed to notice her. And now I was going to lose her.
“Flores, please. Give me a chance. I don’t want a fling.” I pleaded.
“Then what do you want?” She asked.
Indeed what did I want? The only thing I knew was that right now I didn’t want her to marry Fred; that would mess all my chances up.
“You don’t even know what you want.” She said, a note of sadness in her voice. “I know what I want. I want Fred. So, please Jake, drop it. This never happened. We could go on as the friends we were before. This would be our secret. Please, just let me be happy. This is what my family wants.”
I wanted to ask her what she wanted, but the words refused to come out. She was asking me to do something difficult. Let her go. But how could I let go of treasure that I had found?
It was like finding out that all the while you had been looking for gold outside; the ring on your hand was all the gold you needed. But you had ignored it just because you didn’t know its value. And it’s too late because by the time you found out…the ring was already sold to another.
I had just struck gold and I wasn’t willing to let go. I couldn’t let go. In a few weeks, my feelings for her had mounted strangely.
“Flores…I’m sorry.” I said in a grave voice. “I want you to be happy, but I can’t help the way I feel. I guess I’ve been looking in the wrong place all along. I had no idea what I needed was right there with me. I made that mistake and I’m paying for it.”
She was looking at me. “Don’t say that, Jake. Please don’t make this any harder than it is. There’s a woman out there for you, it’s just not me.”
I took her hands in mine and looked into her eyes. “You are the woman for me.”
Briefly, her guard was let down and once again her eyes told me a different story from what her mouth said. The eyes, they say are the mirrors to the heart. In Flores’ case, it was very true.
How could I get her to say what was in her heart…to open her heart to me and give me a chance?
She pulled her hands out slowly, probably trying to avoid another intimate moment.
“Don’t marry him please.” I said.
She shook her head. “I wish it was that easy. It’s complicated, Jake.”
“What’s so complicated about not getting married to him?” I asked.
“I…” She looked as though she wanted to say something, and then changed her mind.
“We used to be friends. You could tell me anything.” I pressed.
“Not this time.” She turned away.
She had closed up again. I couldn’t reach out to the woman I’d befriended for eight years. Without another word, I left her.
I needn’t say how I felt afterwards. All attempts to clear my head, failed. I couldn’t stop thinking of her.
Over the next few days, I tried different methods to rid me of her. Useless, they were. I tried hitting on other girls but I lost interest in them as soon as they opened their mouths to speak. They were not Flores. They were not The woman.
I tried looking for flaws in Flores; reasons why she was no good for me. I found them, but they only fuelled my desire to have her. No reason was good enough to let her go. You must know; this was a battle I was fighting alone. I told no one…not even the guys.
Another week passed, I had succeeded in avoiding Flores. But we had our weekend ritual and I couldn’t defy that. The venue was my place. I wondered if she would show up. If she didn’t; the guys will know something was wrong. If she did…at least I’d get the chance to look at her.
Femi showed up first in a bubbling mood; an exact contrast to mine.
“You look like you saw a ghost.” He said.
“Nothing that dramatic. Had a hectic week.” I replied, hoping he wouldn’t detect the lie.
“Well, get out of that funk because we have good news to celebrate.” He beamed at me.
I raised an eyebrow at him. What good news could he possibly have?
“Is it Abbey?” I asked.
He shook his head. “It’s Flores. She’s getting married! Finally!”
Try as much as I could, I couldn’t fake a smile. I managed a small ‘Hmm’
“What? That’s all you have to say? Our very own best friend is tying the knot and you can’t be more excited for her?” He asked.
“I’m happy for her. I’m just tired, I told you.” I lied. “Do you know if she’s coming this weekend?”
Femi gave me a strange look. “You talk to her more than I do. Why ask me that? I bet you already knew she’s getting married.”
I didn’t answer.
“Well, maybe you also know she’s pregnant. At least be happy for that one.”
“Pregnant?” I almost choked on my own saliva.
I was stunned.