THE CHILDHOOD FRIEND
Tolu snapped her mobile phone shut, hissing in frustration. Another unwanted admirer to the dustbin! What was it with these men anyway? The more you ran away from them, the more they chased you like rabid dogs. She spun on her seat and faced the window. Using her well-manicured nails, she parted the blinds and peered down at the street below. The traffic was beginning to thicken in the late evening hour as cars drove bumper to bumper on Ajose Adeogun Street on Victoria Island.
Her long luxuriant black lashes fanned out against her caramel complexion as she observed the activity below. Her oval face boasted a perfect nose that was proof of her Irish ancestry. The wide guileless eyes that drew men in hordes were expertly lined with black kohl pencil while lips shaped in a perpetual pout sparkled with pink gloss. Slim and blessed with curves at the right places, she stood heads above most women at five feet eleven inches.
A sigh escaped her parted lips, and a slight frown marred her almost flawless beauty as she flicked her wrist, checking the slim expensive wristwatch for the third time in less than five minutes. Placing her right hand flat on the wall, she pushed away from the window with another weary sigh and picked her phone up from the table. She dialled a number and listened to the phone ring, her fingers tapping away at the table. The ringing ended. A deep masculine voice answered the call.
“Hello you,” she said, her face softening considerably. “How was your day?”
There was a sigh at the other end, but his voice was clear when he spoke. “Well, I guess I can say it was okay.”
“That is good to hear,” she said brightly. “So, is there any chance we can meet today?”
Her body tensed in anticipation as she waited for his response.
“I don’t think so.”
“You don’t think so?” she repeated, feeling her heart sink inside her stomach. It was a ritual to hang out with him every evening after office hours for the past one month. She hated the feeling of rejection and could not believe he was turning down her offer of evening drinks at their favourite spot. What had changed this time?
“Something came up,” he said, his voice filling up with regret. Tolu closed her eyes, picturing his face. She had come this far, she did not intend to lose him again. Patience, she chided herself.
“Ok. There will be other days,” she said as lightly as possible even though disappointment made her lips droop at the corners.
“Yes, there will be.”
Her eyes narrowed when she ended the call. She was soon tapping furiously again at the same phone.
“Hi,” she said brusquely when it was picked. The voice on the other line chuckled. “Someone doesn’t sound happy.”
She ignored the biting sarcasm in his voice. “You have clearly not succeeded despite all your promises.”
“It takes two to fall in love darling. I am doing my best.”
“Well, your best is not enough,” she said sharply and got an answering laugh. “Hey, take it easy. You are the one who has been having fun for a month while I barely covered any ground at my end.”
“And is that supposed to be my fault?”
“Jeez! You sound like a bitch, and that is not attractive.”
“Too bad, because I am not trying to be attractive for you.”
“Yeah, too bad,” he agreed with a sigh. Tolu’s eyes narrowed further. “If you are going to keep wasting time, you can as well back out of the deal now and save me the energy and anxiety.”
“Goodbye Tolu.” he said, sounding suddenly unfriendly. “This conversation has run its course. Talk to you soon.”
Tolu hit the end key of her phone without an answer. She tossed the phone on the polished surface of her executive desk and it clattered noisily on the glass surface. Staring past the abstract painting on the wall ahead of her, she wondered how long it was going to take to win her the heart of the man she had loved for most of her life. With a resigned pout, she reached for her car key beneath a file on her table. Standing up, she adjusted the white shirt she tucked into the short skirt that ended high above her knees. Picking up the phone again, she walked out of the office where she ran a successful stock broking firm. All conversation stopped as she passed a few members of her staff who were talking and laughing in the reception area. She nodded to the chorus of their greetings, making a mental note to tell her secretary to put a do not loiter sign in the reception.
She drove her latest model black CLK Mercedes coupe out from the underground parking lot of the imposing office complex she shared with several blue chip companies still unhappy with the knowledge that she would be spending the evening alone. Joining the slowly moving traffic, she was distracted by the smiling face of a model in a billboard advert, and cursed loudly as a motorcyclist almost scraped the body of her car. The cyclist continued his journey, unaware that the expletives that filled her air conditioned car were meant for him. She soon calmed down enough to think of her chic apartment just streets away.
The big apartment did not seem so inviting now that she was without a dinner date. She remembered Bayo, the guy with the fake British accent she met the week before at the Palms shopping mall in Lekki. That fateful day, she had listened politely as he reeled off claims of the countless number of apartments he owned all over London, knowing that his outrageous claims were as fictitious as a Nollywood script. Coming from a wealthy home herself, she could spot wealth a mile away, but as a single girl with potential lonely nights, she acknowledged his nuisance value.
Picking up her phone from the passenger’s seat, she worked on the keys, keeping a careful eye on the road.
“Hello Bayo,” she said sweetly, her foot pressing slightly on the accelerator when the car ahead of her moved on a bit before rolling to a stop. He made excited noises about hearing from her at last. She smiled mockingly as his fake accent made its debut again.
“You didn’t call me either,” she told him, faking her enthusiasm to match his own. “Are you free this evening?”
“Just about leaving my office, where are you?” he asked in his affected voice. She rolled her eyes. “I am in a traffic jam not far from my office.”
“Want to meet me up somewhere?”
“How about we meet at Saipan in about twenty minutes?”
“See you then,” she said, and dropped the phone back into its place beside her. Pulling away from the traffic, she made a turn into Ligali Ayorinde Street, away from her big, comfortable and lonely apartment. Maybe after a few cocktails, the seductive lightings of Saipan’s bar would make her date look more like the man she was in love with.