By the time Wale and I spoke the next day, we agreed to meet up after work, for drinks. Thankfully, I’d dressed the part from home, as I had a suspicion we would find a way to hook up.
My excitement was further bolstered by Wonu and Barong, who were beside themselves by my conquest.
“Fola, you have to be sharp! You can’t let Wale slip through your fingers!” Barong had said, almost breathlessly. Such was her excitement. “The guy is RICH!!! Like filthy rich!!! Babe, you can’t mess up o!”
“And he’s not a playboy!” Wonu chipped in. “I’ve seen him at countless parties, but you are the first person I have ever seen him chat up!”
“I know right! The guy always just sits with the other guys, drinking and laughing!” she sighed dreamily. “Gosh, Fola! You’re so lucky! Do you know how many of us have had our eyes on him?!”
I shrugged in seeming indifference, but I was doing cartwheels inside. Eeeehn?! So 34 year old me had bested these 20-something year old girls, to win the affections of an extremely eligible bachelor! That was one heck of a boost to my ego!
I had declined his offer to pick me up and opted to drive myself to the restaurant we’d decided to meet, instead. We happened to drive into the compound at the same time, and my brow arched in approval at the sight of his gleaming black Mercedes G-Wagon. He was being chauffeur driven, which was a slight put-off for me, but it made things better that he sat in the front passenger seat, and not the typical Naija ‘owner’s corner’.
“You look even better than I remember!” he said, planting a kiss on my cheek, once I’d disembarked from my car.
“You don’t look too bad yourself!” I smiled, surprised at how easy it was for me to flirt with him. He was just as handsome, if not more so, than the image I had in my head, and I was so excited about having caught a big fish.
Once inside the restaurant, our conversation flowed even more effortlessly than the night before. I found out that he had never been married, and was running a very successful oil and gas company.
The only small catch? He tended to name drop a little too much for my taste.
“This tastes so much like the wine we had at Elton John’s Christmas party of 2001!” “Hugh Grant lives just down my street in Chelsea. And forget about the cameras…in person he looks every inch his age!” “Even before he blew up, Patrick…you know, that’s Tinie Tempah’s real name…used to literally beg to perform at our parties. I’ll have him autograph a CD for you when I see him later this week!”
At first, it was cute. But by the time he was on his third story about partying with David and Victoria Beckham, I’d pretty much had enough for one evening.
“I really enjoyed tonight, Fola.” he said, taking my arm and looking deep into my eyes. “I haven’t felt this way about anyone in a long time. I’m off to London tomorrow morning, but I’ll be back in a few days. I’d love to see you again.”
I smiled, all memories of the name-dropping evaporating from my head. “I’d love that.”
He leaned in to kiss me, but I found myself offering him my cheek instead. Nah. I’d known him for just about 24 hours. There would be no lip action today!
As his car drove off, I noticed the Police escort van tailing his, and I felt my heart sink a little. Chauffer driven…and with a Police Escort? It all felt a teeny bit pretentious to me. But I shook it off immediately. With the high spate of crime in town, who could blame him, really?
In the week he was away, we talked almost non-stop daily, and chatted on BBM consistently. Thankfully, the name-dropping reduced to only a few inferences here and there…like being off to have lunch with Tunde Baiyewu…or running into Naomi Campbell at a friend’s dinner party, etc. But compared to the night we’d had dinner, it was child’s play.
“He was probably just nervous.” Bimbo had offered, when I gave her the gist. “Guys tend to talk a lot when they’re nervous. My own issue is, how come he has never been married at his age?”
I shrugged. “I guess like me, he’s been looking for the right one?”
Bimbo frowned, and you could tell she wasn’t really buying it. But thankfully, she chose not to say any more.
So, I patiently crossed out the days, waiting for his return from London, and for us to progress with this burgeoning relationship of ours. If his words were anything to go by, he was keen on something serious…and well, so was I!
The Friday he was due to return, I closed early from work and went to the salon to get my hair and nails done. I couldn’t afford to slack even by an inch! If he was truly hobnobbing with supermodels and celebrities, I couldn’t afford to look anything less than perfect.
Getting home, I was surprised to see Dolly’s car parked by my gate, with her sitting inside it and sobbing uncontrollably.
“Ahn ahn! Dolapo!” I exclaimed, peering into her car. “What are you doing here? And why are you crying?”
“He doesn’t want me, Fola! He’s not interested in me!” was all she managed to say, before the sobbing took over.
I shook my head and sighed deeply, thoroughly fed up of my sister’s antics. I truly wasn’t interested in hearing anymore of her sordid story, but knew I couldn’t leave her sobbing in her car alone.
“Come inside.” I muttered, before walking back into my car.
As I drove into my compound, she drove in as well, making me realize that it was going to be one long night indeed!
“I have to go pick Rire up from his grandparents…so you could just make yourself at home, while I…” I began.
“I should have known it was too good to be true…” she sobbed, cutting into my statement. “But I truly thought he was giving me the green light. You were here the last time. Didn’t you think Jimi was flirting with me as well?”
I had to stifle a giggle. Oh! Oh!! Oh!!! So this was all about Jimi?! Interesting! I sat down beside her. Rire could wait a few minutes.
“After we met here that evening, we spoke on the phone a few times…” Dolly continued.
“Did he call or did you?” I asked, my curiosity at its peak.
“I did. But I didn’t think anything of it…especially after all the chemistry from that evening. Then we finally made plans to meet up for drinks. I wanted it to be in the evening, but he kept on insisting on lunch time!” Dolly answered, in between sobs. “We met up this afternoon at Ikoyi Club…and all he kept talking about was that his American fiancée, Clara or whatever her name is!”
“Clairice.” I offered, trying not to smile or, worse, laugh.
“It was just Clara this, Clara that!” she wailed, ignoring my correction. “How lucky he is to have met her! How much he loves her! At a point, I had to ask him why he was there with me, if he is so in love with this Clara!” then her face crumpled, as fresh tears flowed. “Do you know what he said to me??!”
I shook my head, still struggling with the urge to laugh at the joker.
“That he was sorry for giving me the wrong impression. That he thought we were only having a friendly meal. That there was no chance of us ever getting back together. Can you imagine that guy?!”
I held her as she cried, but almost felt like giving Jimi a high-five! For a minute, I’d been scared he’d fallen into Dolly’s trap again. Even though the other option still hurt, him being with someone different was an easier pill for me to swallow.
When Dolly finally released me, almost an hour later, I drove the short distance to my in-laws’ house to pick Rire up and, again, had to stifle a laugh when I saw Jimi.
But he knew me too well, and saw right through me.
“And what’s amusing you, young lady?” he asked, a small smile playing on his own lips.
“I heard about what you did to Dolly today. That wasn’t cool man!” I answered, feigning anger.
Jimi laughed. “I can’t believe Dolly thought we could just pick up from where we left of 13 years ago!”
“But you were flirting with her though.”
“No, I wasn’t. That day at your house, we were just reminiscing about old times.”
“‘Don’t worry, Fola. We’ll lock up!'” I quoted, “Does that sound familiar? You can’t blame her for getting ideas. You led her on that night, the same way you led her on in 2004…”
And just like that, all humor left the conversation.
“I was wondering when you’d bring that up!” he muttered.
“I’m sorry. Please forget I said that.” I said, desperate not to appear like I was still holding on to the past, because I wasn’t any longer.
“Already forgotten.” he said, walking away.
Locating Rire in the game room, and after exchanging pleasantries with my in-laws, we left but with my heart still heavy from the conversation I’d had with his father. So heavy was my heart that I decided to text him later that night.
Didn’t mean to bring up you-know-what. I apologize. Hope you’re good and getting ready for Clairice’s visit.
After a lengthy 20 minutes, I got the scant reply; It’s cool. Yes, I am.
With a long hiss, I threw my phone to the night stand. A few minutes later, my phone buzzed with another text message.
Hey gorgeous. I’m back in town. It’s a little late, so I’ll call you tomorrow morning. W.
For a very split second, I found myself disappointed it wasn’t another text from Jimi. But I immediately cheered up, reminding myself about the prospect of love that was knocking on my door. Jimi was my past…and Wale could very well be my future.
The next morning, Wale and I spoke, and we agreed to have dinner that evening. He insisted on coming to my house to pick me up this time, and I figured he might as well. There was no need continuing to form big girl, and driving myself for every date. He already knew I was divorced, with a kid. Maybe letting him into my world would help move things along quicker for us.
At exactly 6pm, he drove into my compound. I met him at the doorway, and was happy when my heart skipped a little beat. The week in London had been good for him, as he looked fresh and well rested.
“You look amazing!” he whispered in my ear, his voice thick with passion.
I smiled and quickly pulled away. “So do you!” I responded, leading him into the house.
Rire looked up from his video game. “Good evening, Sir.” he greeted, displaying the manners I’d taken the pain to impart.
“Hi there, young man!” Wale answered gayly. “You must be Rire!”
Rire nodded and managed a smile I knew was just for my sake. “I like your shoes, Sir.” he complimented, as Wale took his seat.
“Thanks. They are Gucci. I got them for almost £1,000!” Wale answered proudly.
I was headed to my room to change, but stopped dead in my tracks, upon hearing that. Did he just…? Did I hear him actually…? I looked back, and instantly, Rire and I made eye contact. The look on my son’s face was ‘Who the heck is this weirdo?’, and I couldn’t blame him.
Luckily, when Jimi came to pick Rire up, he’d been wise enough to stay outside, so there had been no uncomfortable introductions. By the time I was dressed up, I found my mood already spoilt, as a result of my rising disgust. As we headed to the restaurant, Wale and I made polite conversation, but there was a definite strain.
At the restaurant, as we waited for our orders, Wale continued with his name dropping stories. If his tales were anything to go by, the only celebrity left for him to be pals with was the Queen herself.
“And then I got to Lewis’ party, only to see that Jude and I were wearing exactly the same Versace shirt!” he giggled, entertained by his own story.
“And which Lewis would this be?” I asked, uninterested.
“Hamilton of course! Is there any other?” he giggled some more.
“And the Jude would be…Jude Law, I reckon?” I asked again, my irritation entering danger zone.
He picked on the sarcasm in my voice, and gave me a strange look. “Yes, it is.”
I leaned forward. “Tell me, Wale. Don’t you have any regular friends? How come you only seem to be hanging out with film stars and rock stars?”
He frowned. “I can’t help who I know…”
By this point, I had reached the point of no return. “And then telling a 12 year old boy the price of your shoes?! Come on, Wale!”
“He said he liked them!” he answered, seeming genuinely perplexed.
“He only complimented them, Wale! He didn’t offer to buy them off you!” I answered, my voice elevated enough to attract some curious glances from other tables.
“What’s going on with you, Fola? You’ve been acting weird all evening!” he said, “So what if I told your son the price of my shoes?! And why does it matter that all my friends are celebrities? Why should that be an issue?!”
I sighed deeply, realising I was on the verge of sabotaging myself.
“I’m sorry. You’re right. It doesn’t matter. I’m just having a bad day.” I said, reaching for his hand. “Give me a minute, while I go to the ladies to freshen up.”
While in the ladies room, I stared at my reflection, long and hard. “Behave yourself, Fola! Don’t mess this up!”
At that moment, my phone buzzed with a text message. I was surprised to see it was from Wale, and wondered if I’d spent that long in the ladies to warrant him texting me.
Hey Tessa, beautiful! I’m back in town. My meeting is ending early. Can I come see you tonight? I’ve missed you…
I read the text twice, before realization dawned on me. And I smiled…and then I laughed heartily. The SOB! He was actually making plans for another date, and had sent me that message in error.
Walking back to our table, I patiently sat through dinner, and indulged in his small talk. When everything was over, I leaned forward seductively.
“So…back to my place?” I asked, with a wink.
“I’m tempted, but I actually have a meeting tonight.” he answered sadly.
“A meeting? At this time of night?” I asked, cocking my head to the side.
He shrugged helplessly. “I’m afraid that’s how we make money. While the rest of Lagos sleeps.”
I smiled again. “You might want to text Tessa again. The text you sent her came to me instead!”
The look of horror on his face was all I needed to cap my evening. With a final sip of my drink, I rose to my feet, handbag in hand, and strolled out of the restaurant.
That was most surely the end of that chapter!
You can catch up on Fola’s story here:
- Sister, Sister 1: Calling Me Mrs.
- Sister, Sister 2: The Odd Family
- Sister, Sister 3: Floating On Air
- Sister, Sister 4: The Many Wives of Jimi
- Sister, Sister 5: Russian Roulette
- Sister, Sister 6: So Much In Common
- Sister, Sister 7: An Unlikely Pair
- Sister, Sister 8: Longing For Her
- Sister, Sister 9: The Return
- Sister, Sister 10: The Catastrophe
- Sister, Sister 11: Not Working
- Sister, Sister 12: Sham of a Marriage
- Sister, Sister 13: Invisible Strings
- Sister, Sister 14: Rehab
- Sister, Sister 15: Fall From Grace
- Sister, Sister 16: Reset Button
- Sister, Sister 17: Available…Unavailable
- Sister, Sister 18: Paradigm Shift
- Sister, Sister 19: Living a Lie
- Sister, Sister 20: Not That Kind of Girl