Head 9 – Busy Love Life!
Waking up from a nightmare was no joke. Adrenaline run through my veins and arteries. Beads of sweat trickled down my face. My pillow and cotton sheets were partially soaked with sweat. But a little prayer said, with the sign of the cross made, I drifted slowly back into slumber as if nothing had occurred.
The sun was high in the clouds and the birds were busily chirping. It was obvious those tiny creatures that had lined up on the Wawa tree had some sort of ongoing group discussion. As it was their continuous chirpings that woke me up.
It was a Thursday. I did not want to move out of bed. But hey, I had to be at work and that thought sprang me straight out of bed into the washroom. I had a presentation at work. Representing the Creative Arts unit meant, now and then, innovative ideas for projects needed to be brainstormed and the best ideas presented to the top-level management.
Today, I was representing my unit which called for as always, an extraordinary outfit and soft but flirty makeup. If you have journeyed this far with me, you’d realize by now that I am a fashionista. Duh!
I dashed out and headed for the elevator. And there stood Gerald looking young and handsome as always. He seemed to be aging backward. Man, I crave those good and ageless genes! In case you have forgotten, Gerald is the gentleman who declined my ‘seductive moves’ on the night of our hang out. Remember? I mean, the one I threw an object at and scarred his forehead months ago? Well, you might have to go back and read the previous episodes if you’re still lost!
I panicked as our eyes met and ended up stumbling into the elevator almost stepping on his neatly polished shoes.
‘Oh, I am so sorry!’ I apologized and drew away from where he stood.
It was an awkward moment especially as we had nothing to discuss. I couldn’t wait to get out of the elevator. And I was hoping another soul would join but hell no, it was just us in there. He glanced in my direction and smiled. I did the same too but awkwardly.
‘You look gorgeous and respectable.’ Gerald complimented observing my outfit.
I felt proud of myself. ‘Thanks.’
‘You’re welcome.’ He replied.
Another awkward silence. Why was the elevator taking forever to –
‘I sincerely apologize for ignoring you. It was not intentional. I know I could have done better but I messed up.’ he reached out for my hand.
‘Hey, we are good. I didn’t know you were married, I’d have distanced myself all along. And you put me in my place which eventually made sense.’ I replied not sure if I said the right thing.
‘I was mean back then and I deserved what I got.’ He pointed at the permanent scar on his forehead.
‘Gerald, I don’t throw myself at every man. I felt something special for you that night. I must confess, I was desperate too.’
‘Because I have been single for so long. And I feel I am invisible around every good guy so I figured I might throw myself at you to see if it would lead somewhere. But my strategy failed miserably.’
‘I understand you. Truth is, I wanted to cave in that night but I had to constantly remind myself that I am a married man expecting a baby soon with my wife. I couldn’t betray my small tribe.’ He said.
‘Wow!’ I sighed. ‘How is your family?’
He stayed silent for seconds. The expression on his face wasn’t what I expected.
‘She left me.’ He swallowed hard.
Who would leave such a gentleman? I mean who? Geez! I could lay in bed with him all day and never get tired of staring at his pretty face. That’s how intense I love. I am clingy, just like a tabby cat.
‘And why did she leave?’
‘The baby wasn’t mine. She had been seeing her ex-boyfriend all along without my knowledge. The baby fell sick and needed a blood transfusion. That was when the truth was revealed.’ He sighed heavily.
‘Oh my God, I am so sorry!’
I felt bad for Gerald. This was a good man who was trying to stay loyal to his family. Why do people have the edge to cheat in relationships? If you can’t stay committed to a partner, just don’t do the whole relationship thing!
I knew he was hurt and he might start or be messing around already.
‘Thank you, Funke.’ He drew me into a hug. ‘I think I am over it. And I want to start a new chapter. I thought of coming over to your place but I have felt too embarrassed to come over and talk to you.’
OMG! Is this what I am thinking? He’s going to ask me to marry him? Of course, I am going to say yes!!
‘Errm, okay.’ I tried to stay calm in his presence.
‘I would love to be with you for life. I know it’s a lot to take in now so I’ll leave the offer right here and hope you revert soon.’ He smiled at me before the elevator stopped and opened. I stared back at him with a smile and nodded.
‘That was a mind-blowing presentation!’ the entire panel clapped as I ended.
I felt so proud of myself knowing that I had wowed everyone comfortably seated in the room.
Mr. Ashton, my unit lead nodded in approval and I instantly smelt a fat bonus flying in my direction. It’d been barely six months since I joined Yungo and I was already breaking barriers and winning the admiration of the management. Who is this girl?!
‘I am so proud of you Funke. You nailed it!’ Mr. Ashton drew me in for a hug.
‘Does it call for a promotion?’ I asked.
‘Come on, it’s too early. But keep dreaming big. Miracles do happen.’ He pinched my nose playfully.
Mr. Ashton was the first gentleman who made me feel welcomed at Yungo. Yet, I was the one he yelled at most of the time whenever things went south in the unit. Although I was still new in the company he never spared me his wrath. Perhaps that’s how I grew into this role – slaying all presentations and securing the organization deals with other parties.
‘Dinner is on me tonight.’ He announced to the team, before walking away.
Yes! He always treated us to a wonderful dinner once we chalked success. I love those hangouts. They always feels like a time to bond and relax without feeling the weight of another soul breathing down my neck. And they drove away boredom. The only times I feel sad about such hangouts is when it’s time to say the ‘goodnights’. Knowing perfectly well that everyone is going home to someone, except me – I was going home to my teddy bears.
And tonight was the same. Only that, Mr. Ashton offered to take me home. He lived miles away from my apartment yet he offered to do so.
Mr. Ashton is a married man with three well-mannered teenagers. He claims it’s the most difficult stage in handling kids. I have never met his wife but I assume she is as lovely as her husband constantly describes her.
He’d say, ‘you’ve got a wonderful smile on just like my wife’s.’ or ‘Daavi’s beans with kokor is overhyped. You should all visit my home and taste my wife’s meals.’
I smiled at the thought of meeting Mrs. Ashton someday. I’d tell her she’s got the best man in the world.
The car came to a halt in front of my gate.
‘Thank you, Mr. Ashton.’
‘You’re welcome, dear. And call me Yaw. At this stage, we don’t have to be too formal.’
Hold up. Where’s this going?
I turned to face him. and I noticed he was smiling.
‘I’ll try.’ I nodded.
‘I have never been to your apartment. I hope I can visit in the future. Perhaps, over the weekend?’
‘Errm, I don’t know.’ I began to stammer. He is a married man and my boss. I had to play safe but smart.
‘I have been wanting to tell you. I lost my wife to cancer last week. It’s been hard but I console myself by acting like she’s still alive. I couldn’t wrap my head around it for days. I have now come to terms with it that she’s gone. And I am getting the family ready for her burial. I’ll inform the HR soon.’ He swallowed hard.
This was the last news I expected to hear from this wonderful man. I thought I was going home to my teddy bear but thinking of his situation made me realize I was better off. Don’t get me wrong. He was going home to sleep in a bed he once shared with the love of his life. But he was going to lie in it alone this time with memories from the bed replaying in his mind over and over.
‘I am so sorry for your loss. This must be a really tough time for you and the kids. I am here to help if you need me.’ I reached out and touched his hand. It felt cold. But he didn’t shrug. He let me. And I did so for as long as I could remember.
‘Thank you, dear.’
‘Where are your kids? Have you informed them?’ I asked after minutes of silence.
‘I flew them over to my sister’s end. She is based in Mauritius. They will be there for a while. So it’s just me going home to a cold and empty house.’ he sighed.
‘Would you like to come in for coffee or tea?’ I asked and he nodded in response like a lost child.
He complimented my apartment. It was small yet homely. He sat on the couch and waited as I served him. I had taken a cue from my experience with Gerald. Hell no! I wasn’t going to show up in lingerie simply because he lost his wife. It wasn’t my duty to make him happy.
‘If you don’t mind, can I stay the night?’ he asked.
Oh no. I wouldn’t want my neighbours to wake up to a strange man’s car parked in front of my place. I hated name calling and who knows? The news might spread like wildfire in the office eventually.
‘Mr. Ashton, I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to – ’
He rose to his feet, drew closer to where I stood, and pulled me in for a hug. We stayed glued in that position for centuries perhaps. Slowly, I lifted my eyes to meet his gaze. Our lips crashed. We both seemed thirsty. Perhaps, hungry for each other. We had both been starved. It was at this point that I realized that a single lady and a widower have a lot of common needs. A part of me wanted him, but the other part was scared. Scared of a ghost watching me and wondering why I was interested in her husband.
‘This is not right.’ I breathed heavily. ‘Your wife’s body is still in the fridge, barely frozen.’
He stopped and looked at me with so much pain in his eyes.
‘I think we should take our time. Please.’ I whispered.
‘I am so sorry that I got carried away.’ He broke away but gently. ‘I’ll head home.’
I nodded barely looking at him. How was I going to face him the next day at work? Oh, God!
He grabbed his shirt and flying tie and headed for the door as I held it open for him. I bid him goodnight as he stepped out. He’d recently turned forty-six and the unit had partied all night with him after work. Wishing him so much happiness as he smiled and said amen to all our wishes. Yet he failed to mention the demise of his companion. He probably wanted to forget about it but he couldn’t unless he dealt with the acceptance of his loss. And now it was hitting him hard I guess.
‘Thank you for listening.’ He said and reached out to hug me again.
And that was it! I lost it. I wanted him. I knew it. I caved. And he stayed the night.
I woke up in the middle of the night and watched him sleep soundly like a child. He lay comfortably beside me slightly covered with my bedspread. His cologne had diffused into my cotton sheets.
Another glimpse at him and I felt terrible! I shut my eyes for a moment replaying all the scenes from last night. It partially felt wonderful. But my problem was, how I was going to relate with him at work afterward.
‘Good morning Sunshine,’ he grabbed me from behind and planted tiny kisses on my neck sending electrocution through my body. I was staring at my reflection in the washroom mirror when he walked in.
‘Good morning.’ I smiled, looking away. Why was I feeling guilty? Aren’t we supposed to be feeling guilty together for what we did?
I was the woman who hated single women warming the beds of married men and now, I had become one of them. Oh, how I hated myself.
‘Let’s grab a coffee on our way to work. And I’ll pick up fresh clothes from my end before we hit the office.’
‘Okay.’ I whispered.
So now, there’s a ‘we’? Hm. Sounds too early!
I snapped out of my outrageous thoughts and got ready for work. He took the lead to the car and I joined him minutes later. I mean, I can’t let the whole world know about this. At least not yet!
The day turned out to be normal. We acted like nothing ever happened between us. I was still reminiscing about his mansion. It was heavenly! But would I be the next ‘Mrs.’ to run the house? Let’s see about that.
Work was great. Not as stressful as it used to be. Mr. Ashton seemed kinder and less formal with me which I was hoping wouldn’t be a cause for alarm. I grabbed my handbag and got ready to leave when a gentleman knocked on my office door. Mr. Ashton was waiting for me in the parking lot and here stood a gorgeous man in his mid-thirties wearing a big smile.
‘Hi Miss Neita, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person. My name is Denzel, I am the CTO of Hue Technologies.’ He stretched forth his hand for a handshake.
That handshake was electrifying. I smiled back with that feeling of butterflies in my tummy.