The dawn of 2016 came with a lot of wedding talk and planning…mostly by our mother. Left to her, the wedding would have happened within a month. But Voke had other plans. As excited as she was about the wedding, she wanted to have at least a year to plan, and chose a December wedding date. Neither Obiora nor our mother was amused.
“E be like say you don forget say na 35 you be…no be 25!” mom had exclaimed in full-on exasperation. “If you marry in December, which time you go start to born pikin?”
“Voks, December is pretty far away.” Obiora had complained on other occasions. “Why don’t we get married in May or something?”
But Voke wouldn’t hear anything to the contrary. “I’ve waited so long for this, I’m going to do it right!”
Even though I was surprised my quiet and reserved sister wanted a big wedding soirée, I was happy that it at least gave me more time with her. Voke and I had already had the dreaded conversation about how I would cope after she married. Thankfully, I could afford the rent and living expenses on my own. It was just the thought of being alone that depressed me.
But I tried not to allow my depression get the better of me, and listened with rapt attention as Voke muled over wedding colours, and tried to muster the required interest as we poured through bridal magazine after bridal magazine. Almost every Saturday in January was spent checking out some potential vendor or the other; venues, decorators, caterers, the works! By the time February came along, I was mentally exhausted.
That fateful Saturday in early February, I awoke with the realization that I couldn’t bear to embark on yet another wedding vendor quest with my sister. I lay in bed, pondering my options. I had a wedding invitation from one of my acquaintances from University, and ordinarily wouldn’t even have considered going, if it wasn’t for what the other option would be: being hijacked by Voke! So, weighing my options, I decided it was better for me to get dressed and go for the wedding.
Voke walked into my room, saw me applying a full face of make up and my outfit on the bed and , and a deep frown formed on her face. “Where are you going? Aren’t you following me for the meeting with James Brendan?”
I shook my head, sliding on lipstick. The very last thing I wanted was yet another meeting with yet another dressmaker. “I told you about Anu’s wedding ages ago.”
“But she isn’t even your close friend like that!” Voke said, with a pout. “Why would you choose her over your own sister?”
I turned around to look at her. “First of all, this your meeting is unnecessary. Wasn’t it the same you that ‘connected’ with Kunbi last week? Didn’t you use this same mouth to tell me how she ‘got your style’? Why on earth you are seeing this guy again today is beyond me!”
“It’s called options, Isio. Ever heard of that?” Voke retorted.
“And secondly, oh boy, Voks, no be only you wan marry! Is it by following you up and down the whole Lagos that I will meet a man?” I clapped back. “Abeg, let me go and showcase my fine self in front of potential bachelors oh! I don’t want to die in this flat alone!”
As she had no comeback to that, she gave in, and sat with me as I dressed up. But that in itself was another headache.
“Nah, not that dress! You have better ones. That shade of yellow doesn’t compliment you.” she said, shaking her head in disapproval.
What followed next was me trying on almost everything in my closet.
“No way! You won’t find a husband with all your boobs out on display like that!” was the reaction to the next. “Ah, Isio! Are you going to work? What kind of boring dress is that?!” or “Madam, take it easy. Are you the bride? That dress is way too flashy. Too much bling!”
And so we went on and on and on, until we finally settled on a beautiful white and green two-piece outfit.
It had been a very long time since I’d gotten dressed up to go out, so it felt really good. I felt beautiful in a way I hadn’t in a long while. My hours in the gym had paid off, and my hourglass figure was better accentuated by my taught abs. I had also spent a lot of time on YouTube learning how to apply makeup like the very many Instagram slay queens, and I was happy with the result. I was ready to go for the wedding, and conquer!
Voke allowed me drive her sleek SUV, so it at least made up for not being chauffeur driven there. Getting to the wedding at Civic Centre, I was glad that parking wasn’t too difficult, and even gladder about the number of heads I was turning. Yes oh! Isio wasn’t there to play games.
Walking into the hall, I could feel all eyes on me…and I knew it wasn’t just because I looked amazing. I knew there were a lot of whispers about me still being one of the single ones, despite being engaged to a money-bags back in school…and I couldn’t blame them really. I cast my mind to how I had flaunted my large ring and chauffeur-driven BMW back then, and knew that even I would have gossiped about how things had turned out for me; 33 and still single. But I didn’t care. I was there to have a good time, and have a good time I was going to have.
So instead of slinking into a corner, I worked the crowd, happily hugging and greeting familiar faces. It was something of a Unilag reunion, and even though I probably might not have gone if I’d realised just how many familiar faces would be there, I was glad I did.
Until I saw the one familiar face I didn’t really want to.
“You look stunning!” came a voice from behind me, and I didn’t even have to turn around to know who it was.
A slow smile formed on my face, and I turned around. “Mr. Pere Lawson. Fancy seeing you here.”
He smiled, and we both stood there, lost in a small word of our own, despite everyone dancing and merry making around us. He took me by the hand and led me to the dance floor, where everyone was dancing to Kiss Daniel’s Laye. As we danced, I felt the familiar rush from before, and from the look in his eyes, it was obvious he felt it as well.
“Awww, Pere and Isio!” were several of the comments from people that saw us dancing. “The perfect couple!”
“We sure were, weren’t we…” he said, with longing in his eyes.
I suddenly felt heady, and my heart missed several beats. I was suddenly all too aware of him…and I felt myself awash with emotion.
“Let’s get out of here.” he whispered in my ear, before leading me out of the hall.
“What about my car?” I protested feebly, as he led me to his.
“I’ll send someone back for it.” he answered, and that gave me enough assurance to get into his luxurious Mercedes. He had come a long way from the boy who used to hop on buses around town, and despite all that had happened between us, I was very proud of him.
We drove to a restaurant in Victoria, tucked away in a small street overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We made small talk. He told me he had been transferred back to Lagos, and I told him about Voke and Obiora’s engagement. I’m not sure if it was the setting, the music, or just his presence, but I found myself wanting more…wanting a whole lot more. And it appeared Pere did as well.
I put up no resistance when he drove us back to his apartment.
His driver drove my car behind his, and we headed to his new place in Ikoyi. Getting there, we made more small talk. I commended him on how he’d decorated the apartment, and he told me all about the two years he’d spent in Port Harcourt. It had been 4 years since I’d last been intimate with a man, and being in such close proximity with him was reviving long suppressed feelings.
“Remember this song?” he said, touching a button on the remote that controlled his sound system.
Shai’s If I Ever In Love started playing, taking me way, way, way back to Valentine’s Day 2001…when I had given him my virginity. We had both just started in Unilag, but he had taken me to his family house in Agbara Estate, on that very special day. His family was away in Yenagoa for a wedding, and he had the house to himself. It was my first time there, considering he spent most of his time with his cousins in Yaba, where we’d met in the first place.
That day, as we hopped from one bus to the other on the way to Agbarra, deep down inside, I had a feeling about what was going to happen. And I was ready. I was about to turn 18, and we’d already been together about 3 years. I was ready to give myself to him. And give myself to him I did, in his childhood bedroom, with Shai playing on his old CD player.
Back to the present, I looked at Pere and nodded. Of course I remembered the song. And the mere fact that he remembered confirmed to me that whatever I was feeling…he was feeling also.
His lips took mine, and I gave in to him freely…and without any restraint. In hindsight, I should have known that there was something extra special and magical about that night…and it wasn’t just because of the pent up sexual tension. As he took my body, I knew I could never love anyone the way I loved him…and I gave him my entire body…my entire being…my entire soul.
It was pure magic.
I awoke up the next morning with a content smile on my face. But when I saw the empty pillow beside me, I immediately had a feeling of déjà vu. I sat up with a start, and called out his name.
But there was no answer. That was when I noticed a piece of paper on his pillow.
Hello Beautiful! There’s breakfast for you in the kitchen, and my driver can take you home when you’re ready. Last night was fun.
My body rankled in anger. Last night was fun??! Last night was fun??! Blinded by my rage, I grabbed my phone and dialed his number. He answered on the second ring.
“Where are you, Pere?!” I demanded.
“I figured it would be better for me not to be there when you woke up…” he answered.
“And so you left a note for me on the pillow like some call-girl?! Like some prostitute?!” I yelled. “You’re a bastard, Pere! You’re a good-for-nothing bastard!”
“Hey, Isio! Relax! What’s with all the name-calling? I was just trying to give you a little space. Remember you’re the one that said we’re not good together…”
“Please save your sorry excuses!” I kept on ranting. “It’s myself I blame. Sleeping with you like a fool, when I have so many better options!”
Immediately the words were out of my mouth, I wished I could take them back. The line went lethally quiet.
“Many better options, huh? That wouldn’t surprise me.” he said, his voice flat. “Why don’t you get out of my apartment and go meet those ‘better options’ then?!”
“That’s exactly what I’m going to do! Real men…not a man-child like yourself!” I kept on screaming, wanting to hurt him as deeply as he had hurt me.
He terminated the call, and I knew that I had achieved my purpose.
Without even bothering to comb my hair, I stomped out of his apartment. Thankfully, my car was parked in his compound, so I only had to endure the curious stares from his security guards, and a few of his neighbours headed to Church. My dress might have looked nice and sexy at the wedding, but on a Sunday morning, I looked like a woman of easy virtue. But I didn’t care. All I wanted was to be out of there as fast as my tyres could carry me. So I drove out of the place like a bat out of hell, and sped all the way back to my house.
Getting home, Voke wasn’t there. She and Obiora had made it a habit to go to Church together since their engagement, so I hadn’t been expecting to see her there. The truth is I wanted to be alone. I was heartbroken to my very core. Pere had succeeded in levitating me…only to send me crashing right back to earth!
But Voke struggled to see why I was so upset.
“I can’t see what’s wrong with this note, Isio.” she said later that evening, as she re-read the crumpled up note Pere had left me.
“He just left me there, alone…leaving me a note like a prostitute. He just wanted to humiliate me the way he did that last time!” I cried, tears rolling down.
My sister sighed and shook her head. “You and Pere are just too complicated for words. Why on earth did you follow him home? Was that the reason you went for that wedding in the first place? If you both know you can’t work, stop hurting each other by always hooking up!”
“Voke, I don’t need a sermon from you.” I snapped. “I haven’t even set my eyes on Pere since we broke up in 2013. Yesterday was just…was just…”
I realised that, even though I was very angry with Pere for the way he had treated me the morning after, there was nothing about the night before I would have changed. Not a single thing.
“Well, I hope you’ve gotten it out of your system now. You better forget about him and move on!” Voke said, rising to her feet and leaving me alone in my room.
Get him out of my system. If only it were that easy.
By the time the next day came, I went to work, determined to put the whole episode behind me. And for the next few weeks, I managed to. Until one day, when I was in the grocery store, and I was just enveloped by a strange feeling…
I will never be able to truly articulate how I felt. It wasn’t nausea, it wasn’t fatigue, it wasn’t a dizzy spell. It was just an odd feeling that swept through me like a wave, leaving just as quickly as it emerged.
And then and there I knew. I just knew.
Driving back home, I remembered that Pere and I had not used any protection, and as I hadn’t been sexually active for years, I hadn’t been on the pill either. I broke into a nervous sweat, and mentally calculated when last I had a period…and when my next one was expected. It was when I realised I was at least a week late that I knew I was in trouble.
Deep, deep, deep, deep trouble!
Catch up on Isio’s story here:
- Iya Beji 1: A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Iya Beji 2: Destiny Blocker
- Iya Beji 3: Daisy
- Iya Beji 4: Upgrade
- Iya Beji 5: Bleeding Love
- Iya Beji 6: The Beast
- Iya Beji 7: The Standby Guy
- Iya Beji 8: The Boss
- Iya Beji 9: The Deal Breaker
- Iya Beji 10: The Convert
- Iya Beji 11: Hiatus
- Iya Beji 12: Never Stopped
- Iya Beji 13: Jealousy
Catch up on our other series here: