“Lead me to your bed,” he drawled: his hands lingering on her thighs which were now exposed- her dress having ridden up. He had pulled her unto his laps. His lips tried to claim hers again but her face moved to the side. His mouth settled on the nape of her neck, her fragrance hauling him in, rousing the part of him that felt bare. The numb part of him stripped of all feelings needing to feel complete again. One of his hands egged on by her soft moans searched furiously for the fastening on the back of her dress.
“No, please, stop.” She spoke first.
Richard’s tone, although calm did not match the forlorn expression on his fair skinned face. He tore his hands from her body. An attentive grin wiped the forlorn look off his face when he noticed that Desola’s hands were still placed on him. The bracelet adorned hand on his chest, playing with the minute grey buttons on his cobalt t-shirt and the other on his neck. She didn’t meet his eyes.
“Am I not attractive enough for you? Or am I just too ancient for you?” Richard’s thoughts poured out of his mouth before he could stop himself.
He said ancient instead of old because his son often used the phrase. He wanted to sound young to impress her. He wanted the old body he once had back. Although, he knew despite his son saying so, he didn’t look his age. He had always taken care of his body for his wife. Richard forced his mind to focus on Desola and not the wife that had lied to him for sixteen years.
She got up and put some distance between them. His good looks was the last thing on her mind. She told herself off for not stopping him soon enough, the way she would have spurned Femi her ex before he got that close. Desola wanted to yell at herself for letting him into the flat. From her spot close to the double glazed window, she could see into the narrow street that took her to the main road, the bus stop and train station on her way out.
A black couple walked past, holding hands, the woman carrying a bag Desola guessed housed a bible.
“I want you to go, please.” Desola turned to him where he still sat on the sofa like he owned the place.
“I really like you.”
“And you are a married man.”
“We are separated. She is back in her father’s home.”
“But, you are still married. You should be seeking counselling in church, not trying to complicate things by getting involved with me. Even if you were divorced, I wouldn’t touch you with a barged pole after the way you have treated her. You sent her from her home as if she is nobody and expect me to be your next victim…” Desola paused as he got up and started heading for the door.
“Did you cheat on her?….is that what happened? Did you tell her to leave because she refused to forgive you?” She raised her voice. How dare him.
She used to think he was a good Christian who analysed every decision and every path he took.
“No Desola”, Richard roared. “She is the one that cheated on me and lied for years until I found out from her lover that my son might not be mine.” He did not move from his spot, but had turned to face her. He stopped himself at the last word, wishing he hadn’t opened his mouth, but he couldn’t take the blame anymore for his wife’s actions.
“Forget I said anything. Please I don’t want anyone to find out, Desola. Please.”
Desola took measured steps towards him. She wanted to put her hand in his all of a sudden.
“I won’t say anything. But, are you sure? Why don’t you do a DNA test?” She continued when he ignored her questions. “You need to talk to someone you trust and then start to rebuild your life with your wife. Bottling things up will not help you move forward.”
“You are the first person I have told but honestly I can’t see myself discussing this with anyone. Tell me, who can I discuss this with, without creating more trouble for my wife. We both know what my father’s views are on issues like this. He will ostracise my wife from the church and our community.” Richard’s hand grabbed one of Desola’s. He knew he couldn’t talk to his friends either because of their respect for his wife. Their wives and his were friends.
“Then, talk to your wife. She is your partner at the end of the day. Forget this and talk to her.”
“Thank you. I don’t deserve your empathy.” Richard pulled her to himself and hugged her before she could say no.
He felt so safe in her embrace that the sound of a key in the door did not startle him, until he saw Desola’s flatmate, Grace at the door. The older woman’s eyes surveyed the scene before Desola could withdraw from him. Grace disappeared into her room. Desola put her palms on the sides of her face, beneath her braids.
“Don’t worry. I will talk to Sister Grace.” He offered.
“It’s ok. Go. Please.” Desola decided to face the music by herself.
Richard sat at the dining table for ages later on the same day. He knew he would have to open the envelope on the table. A mug of strong tea that he was yet to touch was beside the envelope. He was wondering how he could have turned into his father overnight. The day he walked into his parent’s house and found his father between the legs of a young woman, he later recognised as a sister from the church choir would forever be etched in his mind. His mother was in Nigeria so he didn’t think he needed to knock on his parent’s bedroom door. Five years had still not erased the memory from his brain: it sat there like a pile of rubbish that wouldn’t shift.
Richard tore the brown envelop open. The result did not shock him. He had known since the day he ran into his wife’s ex that worse was yet to come. Each word on the page simply turned into a million shards of glass that tore into him. A couple of hours ticked by very slowly, bringing with it the inevitable dimness of nightfall. He did not think it was possible to feel worse than he had done, the night, he decided to ask his wife for the truth. The truth he did not want. But he felt worse. The type of crippling sadness that some of his clients described to him in sessions.
He remained in the dark until finally, he sighed and picked up his phone from the table. He knew the result would break his wife’s heart. But he knew he would have to tell her. He promised himself to shield her from his own anger. He also promised that despite having not fathered Junior, he would continue to be his dad. No one would take away his son from him. No one.