She was relieved when the receptionist told her to go in.
Her swollen eyes were hidden by a concealer,she wore a blue knee length gown with black pump heels,a costume jewellery,golden ring and a pair of reading glasses. They were conversing delightfully when she knocked at the door.
Simon jumped out of his chair the instant he saw her.
“I don’t want to see you! Not now or ever!” He yelled at her angrily without waiting for her to say a word.
“Simon?Calm down,” Patricia said as she rubbed his back gently.
Rendered utterly shocked and speechless,Ireti walked out and mistakenly hit Ayomide at the office entrance.
“I’m sorry,” she asserted kindly.
“I know you! You spoke at the Break out conference right?”
“Can’t believe you recognised me..Yes I did..”
“I’m Ayomide and you?”
“Ireti..I’m Ireti,” she replied nervously
“Why don’t we go out for lunch?”
“I’m not a stranger,you mentioned Simon at the conference and..he’s my best friend..we stay together..”
“Really? That’s great..I don’t mind going out for lunch with you.”
They trekked to Cafe La Orient,a popular french restaurant which was known for its traditional cuisine. He ordered for hot french bread and soda,and they talked about random issues for hours.
“So..why were you in tears when I saw you..something happened?”
“Yes..its Simon..I really need you to help me plead with him..please tell him I’m sorry..”
“Sorry? He doesn’t hold grudges..what happened?”
“Its a long story..but promise me you’ll talk to him for me…please,”
“You don’t have to plead so much, I will.”
“What’s gotten over you? When did you start treating women like trash?” Ayo asked his best friend angrily in Patricia’s presence.
“And you were here…why didn’t you advice him?”
“Because…I felt she must have been one of his dumb admirers or something…” She replied protectively.
“Don’t call her dumb…”Simon chipped in.
“Forgive her,you’re a Christian after all..you have to forgive…”
“I’ve heard you big brother..I have to drop Pat off at her office..”
“Don’t worry,I”ll do it..” Ayo volunteered.” Stay back and reflect over your actions” he commanded.
“You should have let him drop me off” Pat complained bitterly and sighed repeatedly.
“Why?I want him to reflect over what he did to his friend”
“Spare me…his friend? You’re so naïve..whatever exists or existed between those two was filled with passion..”
“Pa what? Hold on nancy drew! I think you’re making a big mistake..”
“I’m not! I saw it in their eyes..I’ve never seen Simon look at another person with such contempt! It was in both their eyes..that was why I chose not to intervene.Ayo? I’ve fallen for Simon.” she added emotionally.
Ireti refused to close from work till it was 8:30pm. She had no patients to attend to,all she did was read magazines and cry.
“If I go home early, Olori won’t permit me to go out by 9pm” she reasoned.
“Should I wear this? It reeks of drugs and injections..what can I wear??I don’t keep clothes in my office..just jewellery and make up”..she remembered a lengthy mono strapped gown she was given by a co worker the previous month. She chose not to wear it often because she felt it wasn’t her style.
“I have no choice!” She concluded as she wore the ash gown,one of its hands was long while the other was a thin spaghetti strap and it hugged her curves perfectly.
“Following his reaction at the office today,I don’t expect him to show up” she said after putting on a pair of flats and applying her lipstick.
She waited as usual.
“Does madam have a secret lover that never shows up or what?” Sumonu asked himself as he dropped her off at the garden again.
“Awon olowo yii gan”(these wealthy people sef) he complained and nodded his head at irregular intervals.
She kept staring at the stars and praying for a miracle till she laid down and fell asleep.
“Take me to the same place we went to last night” Simon ordered to his driver after he closed from work.
“She’s asleep? At this hour?who sleeps on a public bench wearing such a provocative dress?” He bent down to tap her shoulders and call out her name,this zoomed in on an interior view of her rather full bosom and that prompted him to stand up.
“Ire! Aren’t you cold? What are you doing out by this time?”
“You came! I told you I would keep waiting…”
“Don’t you know its risky?what if you had been raped or kidnapped?”
“I’m sorry” she responded with a guilty look on her face.
“You invited me here to say just that? Goodnight then,”
“Wait!!” she stood up the moment he turned his back.
“My love..I’m sorry for all the pain and hurt I may have caused you,” she said sadly as she held onto his back and wept bitterly.
He refused to turn so he could face her,he couldn’t. He felt her swelling bosom on his back as she wept.
“I know there’s alot of explanation I have to give,but maybe not now. I just want you to face me,my life has been empty without you,Sims. Maybe its too late for us to be together,but that shouldn’t stop you from forgiving me,” she cried out in her foreign accent.
“I need you to look at me!” She held on to him tighter.
“I’m looking…what is there to see?Your voluptuous curves? Your beauty? Your eyes?I’ve seen them all..so what?”
She was sobbing and raising the tiny strap of her gown that fell constantly.
“I know this is all my fault. I’m sorry.” she continued, and pulled him into her arms.
Their lips got passionately locked,she wrapped her arms around him like a prized possession she could never let go of. His lips went down to her bare shoulder and neck.
“I must control myself,” he decided and freed himself from her embrace.
“I’m sorry..I don’t know what..”
“Quit pretending! This was what you planned out right? Well..it won’t work with me! I refuse to be fooled by you again! What’s with the gown? Are you now a seductress? That was your major at Gloucester?” He fumed angrily and she raised her hand to his face.
“You can insult me,my flaws,my size,my mistakes….But don’t you ever think you can get away with questioning my dignity….If wanting you back makes me a whore, then there’s nothing to want.” she rounded off the conversation and got into her car.
“Take me home.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Olori asked the maids who saw Ireti walk in.
“I don’t know Ma,she came back with a smeared lip and dishevelled hair and her eyes appeared to be swollen. We couldn’t get a good look at her,she ran up the stairs and locked herself in her room,” Maye replied.
Kpo! Kpo!! Kpo!!! Olori knocked at the door thrice. “My baby,please open the door,”
“I’m fine mum..but I can’t..I”ll see you tomorrow.” She replied with a feigned cheerful voice. She was watching a love sequel and feeding on a large bowl of ice cream in tears.
“I can’t beg him again! I won’t ever…Sims called me a whore? Yike was right,men are not to be trusted!! And to think that he’s the only one I’ve ever imagined myself being with..the only one that’s ever…” She added with her hands running over her lips.
“He thinks I’m irrelevant because he’s now very wealthy and more handsome than I knew him to be.. So I looked like a whore tonight? That does it for me! I hope he finds happiness with that Amiran sweetheart of his,its no wonder she rubbed his back in my presence. It was a sign! And I didn’t see it!! You’re so dumb Ireti.” and she slapped her forehead lightly.
“Ahh! My son is back from the office!!” His grandma exclaimed as she hugged him tightly.
“Freshen up and come for your dinner….don’t tell me you’re not hungry…see?you’re losing weight already…..is that a woman’s perfume i smell? and your lips look red,” She asked with a playful wink.
“Mama,you must be imagining things, I”ll come down for dinner very soon.”
“How did it go?” Ayo asked as they ate dinner together at the glass dining table.
“Bad….I’m not hungry…..” He said nervously and gulped down his glass of juice.
“Bad? What happened?”
“Ayo.. I’m tired….and overwhelmed…we”ll talk tomorrow….I promise” he responded and went up to his room.
” I feel so sleepy…”. He yawned and closed his eyes after he prayed.
“You know you messed up right?” His comforter asked him.
“I know,but I’m hurt.”
“You’re not going to the office?” His grandma asked him repeatedly.
“I’m not Ma! I feel so weak and tired”
“I understand, my son. I will ask the girls to bring a cup of agbo for you” she said as she left his room.
“Since we”ll both be home today..why don’t we talk about what happened last night?”
“You what?? A whore???” He opened his mouth in awe. “I’m disappointed..what happened? That was a rather harsh word to use..you two were childhood friends?”
Simon laughed uncontrollably at the question.
“She’s the only girl I’ve ever loved,so much so that I took her home to my grandma introducing her as my wife to be….Words can’t explain how much her personality&beauty excites me.” He narrated the entire story with tears in his eyes..
“I gave her my mum’s locket and it was returned by several thugs she sent who beat me into a pulp.I choose not to remember the pain and humiliation she’s caused grandma and I. I want to forgive..but I can’t..not right now..”
“I was ready to give her my all,and be with her irrespective of the challenges……but I got curses from hell in return.I don’t know if I love her anymore….but she attracts me…I can’t think straight whenever I see her..there’s this urge her presence arouses in me,the urge to protect her..she’s a fragile kid… My heart hurts”. He confessed with a straight face.
“I don’t think she’s capable of doing such hurtful things…Stop scheming!!! You must forgive her….you have to…I’m not asking you to get married to her….just forgive first,that’s what a child of God should do..maybe her physical attributes excite you,she’s beautiful so that’s expected…”
“I can’t..people called me mad because of her…she wasn’t there when I needed her…”
“But she nursed you back to health remember?”
“I’m sure that was out of pity and strategy” he rounded off angrily.
He couldn’t sleep,he tossed and turned to no avail,the guilt was tearing him apart. He went into the study where he started working tirelessly,that was the only thing that gave him rest.
“Am I a whore? Is that what people in love are called? Whores kiss the ones they love and saints don’t?” She asked Yike in tears.
“What do you expect? He’s mad now..just forget him…you deserve better..let’s go home..you’re too unstable to treat patients.” She grabbed Ire’s hand bag with much compassion in her eyes.
Her telephone rang on their way out,it was Ayomide. He called to find out how she was doing,and invited her for a dinner party.
“I’m quite busy with lots of emotional issues. I can’t be anywhere around Sims,I’m very certain..”
“Please come..its impolite to say no..”
“A dinner party at his company? Go and strut your stuff girl!” Ayike encouraged her,”You can wear the red gown.”
“Just do his friend this favour. I’m sure the mad whitey will be there,make him regret his utterances, Yike said as she nodded her head to trending tune “Taxi Driver” which was on the air play.
“Please don’t call him that,he’s not mad”
“Okay ohhh..Ms human Rights activist.”