I didn’t stop to consider my reaction as rude. It was something I couldn’t hold back…an instinctive reaction to a funny situation. My secret admirer was only a boy? Ha! Wait till Del heard this one. She’d laugh me right out of the room!
“Ma’am…” He began.
I paused in between laughs to catch my breath. Did he just call me ma’am?
“The limo is waiting.” He spoke again.
Now, I stopped laughing…limo?
“I’m sorry….what did you just say?” I asked.
“I said the limo is waiting.”
“Wait…you’re not my…date?”
“No ma’am. I’m your chauffeur for the evening.”
“Chauffeur? Oh my…I’m sorry about my outburst earlier.”
As I spoke, my heart was racing. Chauffeur? Limo? Who was this secret admirer? A rich dude for sure. This was getting interesting.
The youngster was staring at me like I was crazy. Who wouldn’t?
“Uh…let me get my purse. I’ll be right with you.” I pranced back into the house, feeling light headed and happy.
I brushed my hair one last time, smoothed my dress and finally picked my purse. Even I, was impressed with my outfit. I had taken time with my dressing and I wasn’t disappointed . I looked good. No, scratch that…I looked way better than good. This secret admirer better be worth it.
“Okay…let’s go. Sorry for keeping you waiting.” I locked the front door behind me and followed the chauffeur. I found myself glancing at my feet which were ensconced in red strappy sandals; courtesy of my admirer.
The shoe was elegant and attractive. Whoever had picked itout had good taste.
The limo was there. In the flesh. I didn’t believe it until I was in it. Apart from the chauffeur, I was the only occupant in it. Was I being kidnapped? If I was, well…it was a very ostentatious kidnapping.
I rapped on the glass separating me from the chauffeur. It rolled down.
“May I ask where we’re going?” I asked.
“You’ll know soon enough ma’am.” Was his reply. “We’ll soon be there.”
“Am I being kidnapped?” I asked just for the fun of it.
A laugh. “I think if someone showed up in a limo to kidnap me, I’ll be really grateful.”
“You have a sense of humour. Good. What’s your name?”
“Why? So you can report me to the cops if you get kidnapped?”
I found myself laughing. “Now that you mention it…it isn’t such a bad idea. But no, that’s not the reason. You seem like a nice guy and I guess I’m trying to make up for my embarrassing outburst earlier. So, humour me…what’s your name?”
“Tony. And no problem about the laughter.”
“Thank you. Now, are we there yet?”
“Right on time.”
I felt the car turning as he said it. We’d arrived.
When the car stopped, Tony alighted and held the door open for me. I felt special…like a celebrity.
As soon as I stepped down from the limo and saw where we were, I had a sinking feeling in my gut.
We were standing in front of Twenty One club, one of New York city’s famous restaurants. But it wasn’t that, that made me hesitate…it was the significance Twenty One club held for me. It was where Mo had proposed to me.
“You may go in, ma’am.” Tony said, propelling me forward gently.
I took a deep breath and began walking. Could this be what I was thinking?
“Good evening Mrs Pepple.” The doorman beamed at me.
I stopped in my tracks. “You know my name?”
“Yes ma’am. We are expecting you. Right this way please.”
A small smile escaped my lips as I let him lead me inside the restaurant.
As I stepped in, the lyrics of the song being played in the background floated into my ears. I knew this song. It was our song.
“Don’t go wasting your emotions;
Lay all your love on me.
Don’t go sharing your devotion
Lay all your love on me.”
And in that moment I knew. The room was dimly lit so I couldn’t tell who was inside. But I could take a wild guess.
“Sound familiar?” His voice wafted into my ears.
I was silent. My secret admirer was no secret after all. He was my own husband! What was I feeling? Disappointed? Relieved? Anxious? Angry? I wasn’t sure.
“Eight years ago, I stood in this same restaurant and asked you to marry me.” As he spoke, the lights came on. The restaurant was empty except for us both and the few employees.
I saw him clearly. He looked very handsome. He was dressed in a grey suit that made him look sleek. Oh God! I loved this man!
“I…promised never to hurt you or bring tears to your eyes.” He continued, taking a step towards me.
“Promises you broke.” I finally said, softly.
There was a pained look in his eyes as he spoke. “I know. Kems…”
“What is this, Mo? Why these elaborate get-up? Why those games? This is a joke right?” I infused ice into my voice so he wouldn’t see how much his actions were affecting me.
“Kemi…please listen to me. I beg you. I had this whole thing planned out…”
“Messing with my head?” I queried. “This is stupid. I’m outta here.”
With that I turned on my heel to leave.
“Kemi!” His cry rent the air, startling me.
I turned back and saw my husband of eight years kneeling, tears in his eyes.
“I messed up big time. I know and it kills me that I’ve lost your trust…but I’m asking, begging for a second chance. I know I don’t deserve it and I can’t even ask for your forgiveness…but please, give me a chance to make things right. Without you, my life is meaningless.”
I opened my mouth to speak but no words came out. My heart went out to him immediately and suddenly I felt the love overwhelm me…love for this man and something else…forgiveness.
I knew I could forgive him. In fact, I already had.
Something propelled me forward and I dropped to my knees beside him. I took his hands in mine and hugged him. Without knowing it, we were both sobbing.
“How can I ever make it up to you?” He asked as we held each other.
“You already did. “ I whispered. “This whole set up is the best thing anyone has ever done for me.”
“Can you ever forgive me?”
“I forgive you.” I said and I realised I meant every word.
He reared back and stared at me. “Just like that?”
I smiled. “Well, you did hire a limo and rent the restaurant. Isn’t that price high enough?”
“It cost me a fortune. I think I’m officially broke.”
I laughed. “Was it worth it?”
“Every penny.” He said and leaned forward to kiss me.
Any onlooker would have been surprised to see two adults with tear-stained faces sitting on the floor, wrapped in each other’s arms in the middle of an expensive restaurant. But we were perfectly content.
“I’m not moving back in.” He said later as Tony drove us in the limo.
I glanced at him. “Why not?”
“I don’t deserve it. Not yet. Let’s just say it’s my penance for my stupidity.”
I took his hand in mine and realised how much I’d missed holding those hands. “Well, I don’t want you to penance anything. I want you to move back in.”
“Baby no. I’m sorry but no. I want to take this step by step. I need to earn your trust again. I know you’ve forgiven me…but I haven’t forgiven myself. You understand, don’t you?”
Strangely, I did. I didn’t argue with him anymore.
“So, when am I gonna see you again?” I asked.
“We’ll arrange another date.”
“With the limo and expensive gifts?” I teased.
“Hmmmmmm…I’ll think about that.”
“Ok then, Mister Secret Admirer. I was hoping you’d take these clothes off me but…” I leaned against him, a mischievous glint in my eye.
“Don’t tempt me woman. I’m learning to keep my libido in check.” He stroked my hair.
The statement was meant to be a joke but I found myself thinking about Ruby and the pictures of them together. Oh shit. I brushed the thought away. I’d forgiven him and that was that.