Claire’s Restaurant and Bars, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Kathryn pulled her car to a stop in the parking lot. She had no idea the car Simeon had, but she was sure he was there already. She checked for the second time the last text message she had received, minutes earlier, while she drove. It was a message from Simeon indicating he had arrived at the restaurant and he had reserved a table for them: table fourteen.
As Kathryn walked into the restaurant she made a quick mental regugitation of the dress she wore—without looking at it. She was sure the blue dress had fine details, yet none sensual nor seductive. She had been careful not to appear over-dressed. Her make-up was light, she had no necklace on and her ear-ring was simple and blue.
Kathryn had chosen Claire’s Restaurant as their meeting place, though she had never been in it before. So identifying table fourteen, having not solicited the assistance of the attendant that swung open the entrance door for her, proved a momentary task. A task she welcomed. Nothing else, it afforded her the opportunity to admire the restaurant, while she searched out Simeon. Kathryn knew she would never miss an occasion to make an adventure of a seemingly difficult situation. She smiled as she remembered the title James Salako had for her—Miss Independent.
As Kathryn glanced around, she spotted a figure as he rose from a seat at the corner of the room. He stood, and beamed at her. He seem to have lost some pounds, she thought. The photo on his facebook profile had revealed a slightly chubby Simeon. Still, his oval-shaped face was unmistakable. Kathryn was sure Simeon had made a stop-over, like her, to change his clothes. The tight-fitting short-sleeved designer shirt and well-tailored gray trouser would not pass for a corporate wear.
Table fourteen, finally; Kathryn muttered to herself as she walked towards Simeon.
Kathryn let her hand out for a handshake, to clearly mark the meeting as formal. But Simeon had held her hand and gently pulled her close, giving her a hug. She inhaled Simeon’s rich perfume as they made contact. The perfume described him perfectly—rich, but not loud.
“Welcome. You didn’t keep me waiting for long.” Simeon said. The smile he had earlier still played on his lips.
Kathryn managed a smile. She remembered she had initiated the meeting, and maybe ought to have arrived there first. “Thank you for accepting to meet me. I’m sorry for dragging you out after a long day at work. I—”
Simeon cut her sentence, putting a finger to his lips. “I’ve been at home all day.” he said. “I took a two-week break from work. The stress was starting to get to me; the office politics too.” He made a gesture, trying to show how slim he looked. Kathryn smiled despite what she felt. Simeon’s gesture made her a little self-conscious. She was happy she had convinced herself to get a new dress. It had been a long time she last went on a date and most of her dresses no longer fit. Unlike Simeon, Kathryn knew her weight loss had little to do with her work.
“The office politics gets worse when you deliberately stay away.” They both had a hearty laugh. Kathryn said it as a joke; Simeon understood her well.
Their conversation was briefly punctured when a waiter came to take their orders. Simeon pretended not to have heard Kathryn when she requested for a glass of water only. “For me,” Simeon started, “fruit cocktail and a grilled fish. Same goes for the lady, only with a glass of water added.”
“You don’t have to—”
Kathryn heaved. “You have a wife waiting at home.” she said as the waiter excused them. Kathryn prayed she didn’t sound like a mistress trying to shield her lover from the trouble of a waiting wife.
“I’m married, yes. But there’s no wife waiting at home.” Simeon said and smiled broadly. His response made Kathryn raise her head that had been slightly bowed. “Nkeiru is on a tour around the major cities in Europe, courtesy of a rich cousin of hers whose wedding is, if I’m not mistaken, six months away.”
Kathryn didn’t miss the sarcasm. Hardly the words of a happy husband, Kathryn thought as the waiter who took their orders re-appeared with a tray in hand. She decided to choose her words carefully. “Nkeiru—nice name.”
Kathryn’s fingers played with the glass cup in front of her while a light conversation ensued between Simeon and the waiter. Though her head was slightly bowed, Kathryn was sure Simeon had his eyes on her after the waiter had excused himself. Kathryn wondered if Simeon still had feelings for her.
She quickly dismissed the thought.
“Forgive my manners, how is David doing?” Simeon asked. Truly he had asked only to end the silence. Kathryn’s face seem to light up after the question. Simeon was glad he had asked. Though he had not seen Kathryn’s son, he knew she had a son. A son Kathryn had as a young teenage girl. The rumour of a supposed rape and a succeeding pregnancy had surfaced months after she, without notice, had disappeared from Owerri—without saying goodbye. Kathryn had been the first girl he truly loved, and he was not sure if he had loved any other.
Kathryn had made a surprise call weeks earlier. In a subsequent call, she told him the boy’s name. Two days ago, she had requested to see him.
“David is fine” Kathryn said. She sniffed; a tear gliding down her chin. Simeon became tense. For the first time, he wondered the reason why Kathryn had asked to see him.
“What’s the problem, Katie?” Kathryn’s tears flowed more as Simeon mentioned her childhood pet name, Katie. In a flash, it brought back memories to Kathryn.
Simeon leaned closer on the table, his hands taking Kathryn’s.
Kathryn’s next words made Simeon drop her hands. “I think David is your son.”
“Yes. It’s possible, Simeon.”
“How?” Simeon asked. His tensed mood was obvious.
Kathryn looked intently at him. Simeon held her gaze in return. The moments of ecstasy he’d ever cherish played in his mind. Even, the faintness he felt after his first conscious ejaculation seem to have drained life out of him.
“That was many years ago. I’m a married man now” Simeon started, though the words he spoke, he knew, didn’t erase the possibility of Kathryn’s claim. “I can’t—”
“I want a DNA test.”
To read the previous episode, click: www.naijastories.com/2015/02/illusion-2/