A SMALL WORLD – SEASON ONE
Copyright © Ufuomaee
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this series contains some sexually explicit content, violence and offensive language. It is not appropriate for children nor an immature and sensitive audience.
Promise was having a word with the cleaning staff, when Ope arrived at the hotel with Cindy. She saw them as they walked into the large laundry room, where the brief meeting was being held. She gave Ope a short smile with her lips and a brilliant one with her eyes.
Ope waited until she had dismissed the staff, which she did soon after their entry, before introducing the woman with him.
“Promise, this is Cindy. She will be supervising the catering team as the Head Cook.” Promise’s eyes darkened as she took in what he had said, recalling Cindy’s name and realising who she was. “Cindy, meet my wife, Promise. Promise runs the Hotel, so she’s officially your boss…”
“Good evening, Ma. It’s lovely to meet you.” Cindy could tell that Promise was not too happy with the pronouncement. The light she’d seen in her eyes had gone. Cindy swallowed. She hoped Promise wouldn’t make Ope change his mind about helping her.
Promise pushed aside her feelings, and smiled at Cindy, as though she had never known anything about her. “Nice to meet you too, Cindy. When will you be starting?”
“As soon as I can get my things in… or even sooner. If you need me tonight, I’m available,” Cindy said, cheerfully.
Promise shot a look at Ope. “She’s staying here?”
“Yes, dear. I thought she could use one of the rooms in the Boys Quarters. It would be nice to accommodate staff that have to travel far distances.”
“Oh. Where do you stay, Cindy?” Promise asked.
“Eh, Ajah, Ma.”
Ajah? That’s not up to 20 minutes away, Promise thought, but decided she would hold her tongue and confront her husband later. “Okay. Well, you can start on Monday. There’s no rush.”
“Thank you, Ma,” Cindy smiled genuinely. She turned to Ope, and realised that she had never called him, ‘Sir’. The words “Thank you, Sir” awkwardly slipped out of her mouth.
Ope realised his mistake, as he observed Promise’s reaction. “I’m sorry we didn’t discuss this beforehand, but I know Cindy is well-qualified for the position, and will give us her best,” he said.
“Oh, it’s not a problem,” Promise lied. But Ope knew better. He smiled at her anyway.
Turning to Cindy, he said, “I hope you’ll be able to find your way home from here… You can ask Richard to drop your at the Bus stop.”
“Thanks, Sir. I’m really grateful for all you’ve done,” Cindy practiced more formality. She knew she could no longer address him as Ope or ‘dear’, which she had been used to. “Thank you, Ma. I’ll see you on Monday. What time should I come?”
“6am,” Promise replied, before turning around to pick up some towels in a basket, and folding them.
She was getting emotional, and she didn’t know why. She felt like she was over-reacting, but she knew this had been one of her worst fears since her reconciliation with her husband. She had wondered if he still kept in touch with Cindy, and if she would ever walk back into his life.
Now she had. And Promise had seen for herself that there was indeed chemistry between her husband and the woman. And she was younger and more beautiful. And worst of all, she was sincere.
If she was to make an issue out of his supporting her, it would be clear that she was jealous. And she had no reason to be, because her husband was also sincere. She just wondered and feared that he might begin to compare them, and maybe begin to regret his choice. Promise fought back tears.
“Are you okay, Babe?” Ope asked.
Promise nodded, her back was turned to him, as she tried to regain control of her emotions. He touched her shoulder, and she turned around to face him. “I’m fine, darling,” she tried to smile.
“I know you’re not okay…” he said, pulling her into his arms. “She came to me desperate for help, and I just couldn’t turn her away… But she’s your staff. If she’s not up to standard, then you’re free to let her go.”
Promise swallowed. What if she was the perfect cook, and employee? What then? She just hugged her husband, because she knew he understood her, and he cared. This battle was between her and God, and nobody else. She prayed for the grace to love Cindy, as sincerely as her husband did.
Ifeanyi got an address for Chuka’s whereabouts the third time he tried that number. He hoped to God it was correct. He quickly got in his car and drove to Ikoyi.
The house wasn’t too hard to find. Apparently, the Oluseyis were well known in Banana Island. Plus, there was a lot of noise and cars on the street, near Gbenga’s parent’s mansion.
Ifeanyi entered through the gate, after finding a place to park on the street, and was directed to the backyard, where there was a barbeque and a pool party going. It was thriving with lots of young men and scantily dressed women and girls. As he searched about for Chuka, someone called his name.
“Ifeanyi?” the lady drawled his name with contempt.
Ifeanyi sighed, afraid to discover who it was. His scandalous past wasn’t letting go of him easy. He turned around and stood face to face with Keisha, his ex-girlfriend. He forced a smile.
“Hey, Keisha…” She slapped him. Hard.
He took it, and hoped she would be appeased and walk away. She just stood there smiling strangely at him. “Okay… Maybe I deserved that…”
She slapped him again, and his head spun.
“That’s taking it too far, don’t you think?”
She lifted her hand to slap him a third time, and he dodged it. He caught her hand. She winced. Then she smiled at him again, her eyes dancing mischieviously. She’s crazy, he thought, and let go of her hand.
“What are you doing here? Backslidden are you?” she teased, rubbing her wrist.
“I’m looking for my friend…”
“Right… Gotcha,” she said, sarcastically. “What’s her name?”
Ifeanyi ignored her presumptious question. “Chuka. Have you seen him?”
“Oh, him… He was with my boyfriend earlier. Don’t know where he is now…”
“Okay, thanks…” Ifeanyi turned to continue his search.
“I heard you cheated on your wife! Old habits die hard…” she shouted after him. Ifeanyi paused for a second, and then continued walking away.
Keisha watched him, irritated that she hadn’t gotten to him. As much as she wanted to hate him, she still didn’t. She was sad, because she knew she had lost. She hadn’t been good enough for him to love or marry. She so wanted to show him that he was the one who lost, but he was still winning in every way. The only person she hated was his beautiful wife…the woman who had won.
Tolu intentionally arrived ten minutes late for her appointment with Femi. She refused to think of it as a date. However, she had been careful to look her best. She was secretly pleased that she had just done a beautiful weave that afternoon, and her new style made her look drop dead gorgeous.
“Wow, Tolu! You look amazing!” Femi gushed.
“Don’t be so surprised,” she couldn’t resist saying. She was already flirting, and she hadn’t even sat down yet. She had to get it together, she chastised herself.
“I’m not… Believe me. But I always pay my dues…” he flirted back.
Tolu fought back a smile. She sighed and sat in the seat he had pulled out for her. She was surprised when he presented her with a rectangular jewelry box and a dozen red roses.
Femi quickly made his way back to the seat across from hers. Tolu was tempted to open the box and spy her gift, but she didn’t want to be persuaded. She said “Thank you”, and pushed it to the side.
“You’re welcome,” he said.
She sighed again. She looked around, a little nervous. They were sitting out in the open. She was worried that someone might spot her with him, and think something else of their meeting.
“Thank you for agreeing to meet me,” he said, reaching across the table to hold her hand. She folded them on her chest. “I thought you said you had forgiven me…”
“I have a boyfriend. I hope you will remember that.”
Femi grinned. “Still the good girl I loved…”
Tolu raised an eyebrow. “I really don’t have all night.”
Femi sighed. “Okay…” He didn’t know how to begin. “I’m sorry for how I left things between us…”
“You’ve said that already…”
“That day… The day we made love… I had just found out that I was a father…” Tolu held his gaze, trying not to reveal any emotion. “I was actually thinking we should break up…I didn’t know how to tell you…”
“How old was your baby?” Tolu was doing the maths. They had been nearly a year together then.
Femi swallowed. “A few days old…”
So he had cheated… “Did you know she was pregnant before?”
He nodded. “She wasn’t 100% sure that I was the father then. I didn’t want to ruin anything between us, until I knew for sure. But, the other man was White…so it was obvious I was the father.”
Tolu swallowed. “So you cheated on me?”
“That was at the beginning, Tolu… Before we got serious… Before I got to know you and fall in love with you.”
“You knew that I believed in and practiced abstinence from the beginning. You told me you were celebate too!”
“I’m a guy… I lied. I said what I knew would allow you to get close to me. I’m not proud of myself… I’ve suffered for it. But I loved you. I love you, still…”
“Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you just ignore me, if you loved me??? I deserved to know!” Tolu was getting emotional. “For years, I thought there was something wrong with me, that made me unlovable! I thought I was bad in bed… I thought you’d just been pretending for 12 months, until you got me in bed… That was worse than knowing that you were just a conniving, cheating, cowardly bastard!!!”
Femi was quiet. He knew he deserved that. “I’m sorry,” he said, soberly.
Tolu dabbed her eyes with tissues. “I don’t know why you thought knowing this would make me feel better, or make me give you another chance…”
“Because the truth is liberating, Tolu. I’m not that guy anymore. You changed me. That was even the reason I couldn’t tell you… For once in my life, I didn’t want to be selfish. I had to think of the child… I knew it would break your heart to find out that I had cheated, and I didn’t know if we could survive it. I thought a clean break was better.”
“Was it just one time…you cheated? Or were you guys in a relationship?” Tolu asked, not really sure what difference it would make.
“It wasn’t just once. We were friends with benefits before I met you. We slept together a few times, while we were together. I stopped the moment I believed we were falling in love…”
“You were lying to me, so believe me when I say that the man I fell in love with wasn’t you! It was the man you pretended to be.” Tolu stood up, convinced she had had enough.
“Please, Tolu. Sit down. Don’t run…” Femi held her hand and pleaded with her with his eyes. “I made a mistake. Please forgive me.” He stood up when she wouldn’t sit down. “You forgave me for abandoning you… I just wanted you to know why. It wasn’t because I didn’t love you. I’ve loved you for ten years… I just never felt good enough. And I was still trying to be someone I wasn’t and should never have been, a husband to Bisola.”
Tolu just looked at him. He seemed sincere. But he was divorced now. She didn’t know why, or what happened, or even if that mattered. He had made his bed. He should lie in it, and leave her alone.
She let out a deep breath. “Thank you for telling me the truth. It is liberating. But I don’t know who you are… And frankly, I don’t care to find out. You ruined your chance at loving me… Goodbye, Femi…”
To be continued…
Photo credit: http://www.beyondblackwhite.com
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