“My darling friend kept something from me.” Peju turned her face away from Niyi.
Her heart was beating fast again. She wanted to yell out the truth but she’d decided that it wasn’t her place to ruin whatever Niyi and Sade had. Knowing Niyi as much as she knew each crease on each palm, the relationship would perish before it could begin to flower.
“She kept something from you?” Niyi had to ask. He wondered if Sade had discovered the truth about Clara and his brother and decided to keep their secret. But how did Peju find out?
From the way Peju kept looking at everything in the restaurant apart from him, he knew their conversation had ended.
“Okay. Ma binu,” Niyi said. “Or would you like me to prostrate on this floor right now.
To his relief, a fleeting smile appeared on her face. He placed their order and led her back to their table.
Although the three women had gone to the ladies’ room together in the restaurant, somehow Peju had finished reapplying her lipstick before Sade and Clara could finish washing their hands. She left the room before Clara could mouth her name.
“She hates me.” Sade whinged.
“Maybe she is just uncomfortable with the way you carry on with Niyi. He is her brother-in-law after all.” Clara fished out her make up bag from her bag after drying her hands. She set about heaping on more colours on her face.
“I have known Niyi all my life.”
“I want to go home this December.” Clara glanced at Sade before turning her attention back to her reflection. “Maybe you could come if that would stop you from letting Niyi toy with you.”
“Are you going to see your son?” Sade asked, desperate to change the conversation. “I really miss him. I know it is hard for you.”
“Why? His Grandma dey do fine job joor. I’m going Naija to chill.”
Sade watched her friend for a while before moving closer to her. “Niyi kissed me on Saturday night. I think I’m still inlove with him.”
“Don’t do it babe. Get over this stupid teenage crush. You are not fifteen anymore.” Clara warned.
“I really like him.”
“I heard he likes men, Sade.”
“What?” Sade couldn’t resist laughing. “That is ridiculous. He definitely likes women.” She said, remembering the way he kissed her. The way his palms cupped her face when he claimed her lips again.
“I don’t doubt that he likes women. What I don hear is that he likes to fuck men too. Can you live with that?”
Sade would think of this conversation as Niyi held her front door open for her later that night. She would think of the way he chatted with Andrew animatedly before they left the restaurant too. She would think of the Portuguese words they spoke with the delicate lilt in Andrew pronunciations and the way his well-defined face lit up every time Niyi turned to him and she would wish for someone to give her a new heart so she wouldn’t love him anymore.
“You need to…go,” she said.
“You are drunk. I can’t leave you like this.” Niyi announced. “I wouldn’t have bought you a beer if I knew you still don’t drink.”
He led her to the sofa and helped her to sit as if she had forgotten how to use her limbs. Her head was woozy but it didn’t prevent her from noticing the firmness of his legs as he walked away to the kitchen.
He came back with a cup of coffee for her. She took it, mouthing her thanks. The coffee was strong. Unsweetened.
People like him didn’t end up with a body like that by downing their coffee with tons of sugar like her. He grabbed the remote control and switched on the TV, flicking from one channel to the other as if he was her landlord.
After settling on a music channel, he returned to her side.
“How are you feeling babe?” He placed her half-filled cup on the side table and then knelt beside her.
“What are you doing?”
He was so close to her, she smelt his aftershave as if it had been dabbed on her own body.
“I am going to help you take off your shoes.”
She stared at his mouth as he spoke. His lips were thick. His tone, manly. Clara was wrong. She had to be. Sade moved away from him despite wanting him to touch her. She wanted his lips on hers and her body brought back to life in his hands.
“I can get myself ready for bed. Goodnight.” She raced to her bedroom so that the intense heat ravaging her body wouldn’t change her mind for her.
Once there, she let her anger rip. He would bring nothing but complications into her life if she encouraged him. Yet, like an inexperienced school girl, staring at him melted her insides and left her with this euphoric feeling she hadn’t experienced for a while.
She decided to have a long shower that would clear her head.
Whilst donning on her dressing gown after moisturising, she heard music from the lounge and concluded Niyi had left in annoyance, leaving the TV on.
This was why she didn’t expect to find him in her lounge, spread flat on her sofa, the remote control in one hand.
“What are you doing here?” Sade demanded, trying to shift her eyes from his unclothed upper body.
“I like going to bed unrestricted.” He pointed to his shirt, neatly folded on her armchair.
He had taken his belt off as well so that his jeans did not cling to his lower half anymore. She wanted to ask how he kept his abdomen, floorboard-trim. She didn’t.
“Peji would not appreciate me coming back to the house this late.” He told her. “It is nearly morning. So, I guess I have to stay with my homegirl.
“I don’t think so.”
“Are you going to throw me out now you are a big madam?” He said in a teasing tone. “Who was it that paid for your WAEC? Or was it not me that used to dash yah five naira for groundnuts for yah garri when yah were a nice gal.”
“Enh en. No more horror stories. You can stay.” She smiled.
As soon as they settled down to watch a Nollywood film, their conversation turned towards their childhood again. She had moaned about her weight when he asked her why she barely touched her meal at the restaurant.
“I like you the way you look. Trust me. Most men appreciate curves on women anyway, so I don’t understand why you would want to look as skeletal as Peju.”
“I remember all the girls that you messed around with back home. Adaeze, Kemi and the dark skinned one. They were all slim girls.” She slapped his chest. It was a soft slap that didn’t mirror the look that had just crept into her eyes. “You slept with our housegirl too. You are a dog, Mr.”
“Are you sure you didn’t dream that?”
“I saw you and her together in your bedroom. I came back from school early and your bedroom door was slightly open. Don’t worry, no lasting damage done.”
“What are you talking about? Maybe she lost an earring and I was helping her look for it.” He grinned. “I’m not like that anymore Sade.”
She didn’t respond. Her eyes were on her nails.
“I wanted you. Even then.” He placed his right palm in hers.
She held his gaze. “So, why were you messing around with all the girls on our street then?”
“You were fourteen. I was nineteen. I think if I had tried anything then…it would have gone sour. Mama would never have given her blessing. And, I didn’t want to take advantage of you.”
Perhaps because her head was still fuzzy because of the alcohol coursing through her bloodstream, her words – which had been tied down by her lack of confidence – left her mouth. “So, am I still too young to be taken advantage of?”
He pulled her towards him and kissed her. All the layering shielding her feelings disappeared that instant. Her nails dugs into his back as he kissed her again. She pulled him closer, tugging at his jeans.
It cooled as soon as it had begun. He pulled away.
Clara was right. Her heart sank lower than she thought possible. The time was right for them but he wasn’t right for her anymore.
She folded her arms across her chest. “Do you prefer men?”