Ronke adjusted her sun shades with shaky hands.
It was probably nothing.
She was praying to all the deities she knew in the hopes that it was nothing.
She was not sure that she could survive another heartbreak.
In her thirty three years of existence, she had experienced probably every single type of betrayal that could happen in a romantic relationship. In secondary school, she had lost her virginity to a boy who made a bet with his friends that he could bed her. In University, two boyfriends cheated on her with her friends; another two dumped her for younger models.
Those experiences had hardened her and made her more selective about boyfriends, but she had still fallen victim to a few more. One had lied to her about his marital status, another had lied to her about his occupation. A few wanted her as arm candy and nothing more. Then there was Esosa, who had been her most devastating encounter.
Esosa was quiet, but quiet in that manner that wealthy men were. That confident calm that came with financial prowess. That self-assurance that had them speaking very little, but commanding an entire room when they did. It also did not help that he was oozing finesse and dripping with swagger.
All he had done was walk past her that fateful night at the club, and her mouth had gone dry. His cologne had wrapped itself around her and tugged until she found herself a few feet away from where he sat alone at the VIP table.
She had caught herself in time and turned her torso towards the bar, all the while wondering who he was. She ventured a glance in his direction and caught him staring at her. He gestured to the seat beside him with a slight tilt of his head, his eyes piercing her very soul; and it had been her undoing.
She walked to him as though in a trance, and spent the next three weeks in a haze – unable to believe her luck as Esosa took her on lavish trips and shopping sprees.
The marathon of sex in between had also done her head in because he explored her body in ways she had never experienced. It was the life she dreamt of, and she was sure she had found her ‘one.’
So when she woke up from another night of pleasure, her body caressed by his lush bed sheets made from one hundred percent Egyptian cotton, and saw a note on the bedside table; she had not expected to see the words that greeted her eyes.
She had sank to the floor, a sick feeling growing in her stomach as she read Esosa’s words. He had been heartbroken over the loss of the love of his life, and Ronke had just been a tool to soothe his achy heart. His love had agreed to give them another chance, so he had no use for Ronke. He left her an envelope with cash, and told her to be out of his home before his cleaner arrived by 10:00AM.
She had never felt so cheap, and so humiliated in her entire life. Her hand had shook violently as she held the paper and read the words over and over again until her vision blurred from the tears.
The same way her hands were shaking now, as she sat in her car in the parking lot of a restaurant, watching Femi as he sat at a table in the outdoor seating area, waiting for someone.
Things had been a bit tense between them since the night of his school reunion. Almost every woman had flirted with him, and he had unabashedly flirted back. Completely ignoring how a little piece of her heart broke each time that he did.
She loved him; but it was clear that even though he loved her too, he did not respect her.
Perhaps she was a little desperate to get married, but it did not mean she wanted to be miserable.
They had quarreled over the matter, but she was not going to let up. If there was one thing that all her married friends seemed to agree on, it was that anything negative that happened during the dating phase would definitely be magnified once married.
She was not going to have a flirt for a husband.
Now, it appeared she had a bigger problem on her hands.
He had been going out every night since the quarrel and returning late. It bothered her so much that she gave up her silent treatment to ask where he had been, and he simply said “out.”
Paranoia had taken over as she remembered all she heard about how nagging/difficult women ended up driving their men to cheat. She called for a truce, and they made up; but the frequent outings did not stop. His answers were less concise, but still vague.
This afternoon, it had been “I need to meet up with a friend.” When she had asked which friend, he said she did not know this person. She was trying to find out if it was a “him” or a “her”, but he had said “person” purposely to prevent from mentioning a gender.
That set her alarm bells ringing.
She counted to five after he walked out the door, then followed from a safe distance.
He loved her, and she knew it; there was no way he was cheating. This was probably a business meeting, or a hangout with some guys. It was a Saturday after all; it was not unusual.
It was a restaurant, not a hotel. She was just giving herself unnecessary headache.
What was she doing anyway? She was not this person. A stalker that followed men around. Granted, this was not just any man; but she was actually putting her relationship in jeopardy by being there.
She sighed and turned on her ignition.
She glanced up to look at Femi one last time.
He had a broad smile on his face. He was smiling at a beautiful woman, with an equally beautiful figure that was walking up to him.
No matter, he had female friends. This was not a big deal.
He spread out his arms, and the lady walked into the embrace.
Ronke stopped breathing.
She had seen Femi hug people; she had seen Femi hug women, but she had never seen him hug anyone like this. Not even her.
The hug lingered. When they pulled away, she stroked his cheek tenderly before taking the seat opposite him.
This could not be happening. Not again.
After Esosa, she had told herself that she would not let down her guard for another man until she was sure he felt something deep for her.
She had been careful. So very careful.
Sure she was enamored by Femi’s looks from the first time she met him, but she did not surrender her heart to him until two weeks after when he told her that he had fallen for her.
The man she stared at now appeared to have fallen for someone else.
She had invested too much into this relationship, and she was not going to let it go; but she would inflict pain the likes of which he had never seen.
Once she was done, he would know who he was truly meant to be with and start acting like it.
She put her car in “drive”, and drove off.
Ronke popped open the third button on her shirt dress to reveal some more cleavage, then knocked on the door.
The door swung open, and a perplexed Timeyin greeted her.
“Hi.” She smiled sweetly. “May I come in?”
She pushed past him before he got a chance to answer.
He closed the door and turned to face her.
“What are you doing here? Where’s Femi?” He asked, searching her face.
Ronke’s jaw hardened at the mention of Femi’s name.
“I came alone. I came to see you.” She said, clearing the lump from her throat.
“Okay…” Timeyin dragged the word. He took a step towards her, and crossed his arm on his chest. “How may I help you?”
“Ah-ahn, are we fighting? You did not even offer me a seat.” Ronke said, sending a coy smile his way.
“Sorry. My apologies. Please sit.” He said stiffly, gesturing towards one of the couches. He relaxed a little, obviously realizing he was giving off an odd vibe.
Ronke continued to smile calmly, but her mind was anything but calm.
She needed a way to get to his phone.
“I’ll get to my reason for coming. First, I am in the market for a new phone. Mine is acting up but I don’t know what phone to buy next. Which do you use?” She said, crossing her legs seductively.
“iPhone. Same as you.” Timeyin said simply. His eyes going to her exposed lap briefly, an eyebrow going up, before he brought his eyes back to rest on her eyes.
“Well yes but I think yours is a newer model. Can I see it?” She beamed.
Timeyin eyed her suspiciously, then slowly pulled his phone out of his back pocket and handed it to her.
She thanked him, then glanced over at the phone.
When she looked back up at him, the saccharine-sweet smile had returned. “It’s locked.”
“I know.” Was all Timeyin said.
Ronke was starting to get irritated with him but she had to stay in character. He was so stoic and dull. Here she was, giving him her best smile and some leg action and he stood there like a statue.
Anyway, she had not gone into full-on seduction mode. No man could resist her when she did.
“Well I need to explore the phone and see if it will suit my needs nau. Unlock please.” She said, raising the phone up and turning the screen towards Timeyin.
Timeyin groaned, then touched his right index finger to the fingerprint scanner and pulled away.
“Thank you!” She turned the phone back towards her, and busied herself with some apps.
“Are you going to offer me something to drink or what?” She queried, taking her eyes away from the phone long enough to raise her eyebrows at him.
Timeyin rolled his eyes. “What would you like?”
“Anything soft is fine.” She said, keeping her tone light and her eyes on the phone.
“You need to be more specific. Water is soft.” He said flatly.
She looked up at him at that.
He was such an ass.
“Surprise me.” She said, struggling to keep the sarcasm from her tone.
Timeyin rolled his eyes once more, then stalked off to his kitchen.
As soon as Timeyin was out of view, she quickly went into his messaging application and sent Femi a message, asking him to come to Timeyin’s apartment urgently.
Femi’s reply came in almost immediately, the chime startling Ronke.
He was asking what the matter was.
Ronke quickly deleted the message, and the one that followed with several question marks. She also deleted the message she sent to Femi, then closed the app and touched a different one.
“I heard a message come in. May I have my phone?” Timeyin said, startling Ronke.
She had not heard him walk back to the living room.
“I think they were notifications from an app, not messages though but here.” She handed him his phone.
He uncorked a bottle of Malt and set it in front her before collecting his phone and busying himself with it.
Ronke picked up the bottle, and took a swig from it.
“So what do you want Ronke? I don’t mean to be rude but I was busy before you came.” Timeyin said.
She needed to stall.
She did not really want to seduce Timeyin, so starting too early might put her in an uncomfortable situation. She just needed to do enough to send Femi’s mind reeling, and Femi had to be present to see it.
She racked her brain for a topic that would keep her talking for a while, and keep Timeyin interested enough to indulge her.
Her lips spread into a small smile.
The truth was a perfect topic.
She turned to face Timeyin, and said “it’s about your friend.”
Twenty minutes later, Ronke saw Femi’s car pull up. At some point during her speech, she had walked over to the window so that she could look out for his car.
She turned to face Timeyin, who stood leaning against a shelf; his hands still annoyingly crossed across his chest. The look of boredom was no longer on his face though, what she saw was a look of pity.
He felt sorry for her.
Her chest tightened.
He had the look of one that had seen women endure this one too many times; perhaps from Femi’s hands.
Well, she was no victim; and today, both of them would be acutely aware of that.
“In summary,” she said; sashaying towards him. “Your friend does not appreciate me, and quite frankly, I am tired of it.”
“Look, I am sorry you are going through all this but I think you need to talk to F- what are you doing?”
Timeyin had looked away briefly while he spoke, and when he looked back at her, she had just undone the last button on her dress.
She was standing a few feet from him, her hands akimbo, with her red lace bra and panties in full view.
“All of his nonsense has made me realise that the night we first met, I may have walked away with the wrong guy’s phone number.” She stood right in front of him now. She reached out to grab his arm, and he ducked out of reach.
“Look, I don’t think-” Timeyin was interrupted by a knock on the door.
He gave her a disapproving look, then walked over to his door and looked through the peephole.
Ronke smiled where she stood.
“Femi is here. Please button your dress back up, I don’t want to give him the wrong impression. You guys just need to work this out.” Timeyin said, before turning back towards the door and pausing – likely to give her enough time to button up.
Ronke slid the dress off her shoulder into a heap on the floor, then stretched herself out, bum up, on the couch that was directly opposite the front door.
“Hey guy, what’s up?” Timeyin said, greeting Femi as he opened his door.
“Guy, what is it? What happened? Your message scared me-” Femi stopped mid-sentence.
“What message? Anyway, yeah so Ronke-holy shit!” Timeyin exclaimed.
Ronke’s face was turned away from the door but her smile grew. She knew both men had seen her now.
She turned towards the door, and made eye contact with both men, one at a time; leaving her eyes to linger on Femi – who just gaped at her.
She slowly got up, picked up her dress and slid it on; but she left the buttons undone.
Timeyin looked between them, and his brows rose in surprise.
He realised what Ronke had done.
Timeyin whirled to face Femi. “Guy, get your girl abeg. I don’t know what is going on between the two of you, but y’all need to work it out and leave me the hell out of it.”
He made to turn away from Femi, then froze.
It was enough to rouse Ronke’s interest.
She took a step closer to the door and froze herself as her eyes locked with Akudo’s.
The sick feeling that engulfed her when she saw Femi embrace the lady earlier, descended on her again. This time, it was stronger and threatened an upheaval of her breakfast.
She suddenly became aware of her nakedness and hurriedly began to button up.
“I can explain.” She heard herself say, then realised it was not her voice. It was Timeyin’s.
This was not happening. This was not supposed to happen. What was Akudo doing here? She was not supposed to be here.
Shit! Shit! Shit!
Ronke fumbled for her bag.
“You don’t have to.” Akudo said to Timeyin, glancing his way to reassure him before bringing her eyes back to Ronke’s.
Ronke’s heart thundered in her chest as she pleaded with her eyes, unable to form the words.
Akudo turned away, and left.
“Akudo, wait!” The sound burst out of her so suddenly that Ronke almost did not recognize her own voice.
She had almost crossed the threshold when she felt herself being yanked back.
“Ibironke what is the meaning of all this?” Femi’s voice boomed in her ears.
She watched in horror as Akudo exited Timeyin’s building.
She struggled to free herself from Femi’s grip but he held her firm.
She finally shifted her gaze to him, eyes blazing.
“You have no right to question me you bastard!” Ronke screamed, combining her hurt, anger and despair over what she had just done to Akudo and heaping it onto Femi.
Femi blinked at her, obviously confused at her outburst when he was the one who should have been screaming fire and brimstone.
His shock made him loosen his grip.
“Fimile jo!” Ronke spat, jerking her arm free and storming out of Timeyin’s doorway.
Akudo closed the door behind Roselyn, put her back to the door and sighed.
She was still coming to terms with what she had just witnessed.
When she set out to Timeyin’s that afternoon, her intent was to yell at him for confusing her.
After the other-worldly kiss he had given her on his birthday, she had been completely out of sorts. He did not want her, and then he wanted her but only if she wanted him back, then he kissed her like that and told her the ball was in her court? That was tantamount to cruelty. What was she supposed to do with the feelings he had stirred up in her? He thought himself too high and mighty to have a casual relationship with her, but not too righteous to kiss her like that? Who did he think he was?
She had to give him a piece of her mind.
She was completely unprepared for what greeted her at his apartment.
At first she could not make any sense of what she was seeing, but there was a distinct pain in her chest.
What was Ronke doing there?
Why was she in her undies?
Had they had sex?
She was almost running mad with the thoughts when the truth unraveled before her eyes. The minute she locked eyes with Ronke and witnessed the same panic in her eyes as what she saw the night of the reunion, she knew it was all a ruse.
She had orchestrated all of it to make Femi jealous.
Ronke had knowingly disregarded other people’s feelings, her feelings; for her personal gain.
The anger that radiated from Akudo was so fierce that she feared she would take it out on the people in her household. So she ordered Roselyn to take her sons out for a stroll while she gathered herself.
She heard a knock on the door and groaned.
What had Roselyn forgotten?
She flung the door open without first looking through the peephole, and came face to face with Ronke.
“Can we talk?” Ronke croaked. Her eyes were a little red – a sign that she had been crying.
Akudo stood in her doorway, arms folded.
Ronke let herself in and closed the door behind her but Akudo still did not move.
Anything Ronke was going to say would have to be said by the door, because Akudo had no intentions of entertaining Ronke for more than five minutes.
“It’s not what you think.” Ronke began.
Akudo clicked her tongue and looked up at the ceiling, shaking her head in disbelief.
“Seriously, nothing happened.” Ronke continued. “I saw Femi with a woman today, and I lost it. I just wanted to hurt him that’s all.”
“That’s all?” Akudo said in a loud whisper, seething with rage. “That’s all? You were ready to destroy a friendship that is more than a decade strong over petty jealousy?”
“It is not petty jealousy! I have given everything to this relationship and he cheated on me!” Ronke cried.
“And that was your solution?” Akudo shot back.
“I was not thinking straight. And as for their friendship, nothing is going to happen. Guys have a way of sorting these things out and by now I’m sure Femi knows Timeyin did not touch me.” Ronke’s voice sounded more defiant than sorrowful.
“I can’t believe you!” Akudo threw her hands in the air, and turned her back to Ronke.
Ronke took a tentative step closer. “I’m sorry Akudo.”
“Don’t you dare!” Akudo spun around, the fire in her eyes startling Ronke a bit.
“Please, I did not do anything. I was not going to do anything.” Ronke begged, her eyes welling up.
Akudo was tired of pretending.
She had feelings for Timeyin, and she knew Ronke knew. Ronke had known from the beginning. That was why she had gone white in the face when she saw Akudo after giving Timeyin the exaggerated hug. That was why she had gone pale when she saw Akudo in Timeyin’s doorway minutes earlier, and that was why she was apologising now.
There was no use acting like she was not aware of Ronke’s knowledge.
“You knew I had feelings for him. You knew and you still did what you did. What kind of a person does that?” Akudo’s voice conveyed the weight of her hurt.
Ronke said nothing but simply hung her head; occasionally wiping at the tears that had found their way down her cheeks.
“That day, when you came to my house asking why I was being distant, you were right. It was not just because you said you were planning to toy with Timeyin; it was because you said it to mark your territory. You said it to make it clear to me that I had no business finding happiness with him because he was yours. You already had a boyfriend, yet you were perfectly content to keep me from a potential love interest if it meant you got to have your way. God forbid I find love before you do-”
“What do you mean ‘find love’?” Ronke said, her head snapping up as she cut Akudo off. “Find love? You already found it. How many times do you want to have it? You were happily married, you have two beautiful children. You have had your happily ever after. I have had NOTHING. And if you were truly a good friend, you would do everything within your power to help me get mine; and not be greedily trying to eat your cake and have it!”
Akudo’s lips parted in shock.
She saw the regret in Ronke’s eyes the minute the words left her lips but it was too late.
“I knew it.” Akudo whispered, her eyes welling up. “I knew it but I held onto some hope that it was not true.”
Akudo stepped closer to Ronke. She did it in a manner so eerily calm that Ronke took a step backwards.
This time when Akudo spoke, it was a little louder than a whisper.
“You have hurt me time and time again when it suited you, but I have forgiven you because against my better judgement, I love you. I have always loved you. For you to stand here, and tell me to my face that my happiness is inconsequential and unjust because you don’t have your happy ending yet…” she trailed off, closing her eyes in a bid to quell the trembling that had taken over her.
“If the tables were turned, I would NEVER do that to you Ronke and you know it. NEVER!” Akudo yelled, unable to control the tone of her voice.
The tears flowed freely now.
Ronke tried, and failed to blink back her own tears as she opened her mouth and made to touch Akudo.
“Get out.” Akudo said through clenched teeth.
“AK-” Ronke attempted.
“Get. Out.” Akudo repeated.
She knew there was no love in her eyes when she stared back at Ronke. The sorrow in Ronke’s eyes showed it, but she was well past caring.
Ronke turned around, opened Akudo’s front door, and walked out.
Akudo turned to rest her back against the door when she heard a knock.
Ronke was going to push her to violence.
She flung her door open with so much force that it slammed against the wall and vibrated.
When she saw Timeyin standing there, a look of worry and fear on his face, the anger she felt melted away, leaving only raw pain.
“Are you okay?” He asked, remaining where he stood.
Akudo shook her head, leaned forward, pressed her forehead to his chest and sobbed.
Timeyin wrapped his arms around her, gently guiding her further into her home, then kicked the door closed behind him.
Ronke put her car in park and let out a loud sigh.
She glanced in her rear view mirror and cringed at the face that stared back at her.
Her face was a mess of congealed makeup and dried tears.
She lifted up her arm rest and pulled out a single sheet from her pack of wipes.
She wiped her face clean, got out of the car and groaned.
She had meant to drive home to her apartment, but, as usual, she ended up at Femi’s place. She was starting to see why Akudo believed she acted like she was nothing without Femi.
She was obviously going to keep her distance for some time, but she needed a few of her personal effects from his apartment.
She looked up at his building and sighed.
She might as well get the confrontation over with.
She knocked on the door, her face pursed and ready for a fight.
Femi opened the door, a solemn look on his face.
She hissed, pushed past him and stalked into his apartment. She had made it halfway to the bedroom when she heard the front door slam.
“Ibironke, are you mad?” Came Femi’s angry voice.
Ronke spun around. “It is you that is mad Femi. You and your entire generation!”
Femi blinked, then his features hardened.
“You must be high on cheap drugs if you think you can do what you did, and still have the guts to speak to me like that.
“You have no right to speak to me you cheat!” Ronke shot back. The tears betraying her.
“What are you talking about?” He asked, confusion clear in his tone despite the anger.
“Oh don’t pretend. I saw you! At Red Toucan restaurant?” Ronke shouted in his face. “Do you want to deny it?”
Femi’s brows furrowed, then his features relaxed as he realised what she was talking about. He glanced at the ceiling and smiled in a self-deprecating manner.
He pulled out his phone, pressed some buttons and stuck it in her face. “You mean this woman? My investment banker, and childhood friend?”
Ronke’s eyes darted back and forth between the screen in her face and the look on Femi’s face.
He wasn’t lying.
“I’m sorry, what was that?” Femi said, cupping his palm to his right ear. “That’s right, you have nothing to say because yet again, you have let your paranoia and possessiveness cloud your judgment.”
Ronke remained quiet, her eyes averted.
“You are suspicious of every woman you see me with, insist on knowing my every movement, are damned near hostile to my friends, and invite yourself to every event I attend – even when it’s inappropriate. You were smothering me but I tolerated it because I had feelings for you. Then you go and try to sleep with my best friend? My best friend? Seriously?” He leaned in for emphasis.
Ronke’s chest ached. It was the first time she had ever seen Femi look pained or hurt.
She had messed up. She had messed up big time.
“Look,” she said wiping her tears. “Nothing happened. Nothing was going to happen. I sent you a text from Timeyin’s phone. I wanted you to come.”
“What?” Femi said, the shock unmistakable.
“I wanted you to feel what I felt. You have been my life for the past six months and when I saw you with her, I just…lost it. The way you hugged her…” Ronke trailed off.
“She is my childhood friend!” Femi screamed.
“I know that now!” Ronke yelled back. “And I’m sorry. I never planned to sleep with Timeyin, I just wanted…”
“To hurt me.” Femi finished. “To hurt me even though I did not hurt you. You could have just walked up to the table at the restaurant and asked who she was.”
“It would have looked like I was stalking you.” Ronke protested.
“Weren’t you?” Femi bellowed.
Ronke stepped closer. “Look, it was bad judgment on my part. I’m sorry.”
Femi stepped back. “Don’t touch me.”
Ronke blinked. “But I said I’m sorry.”
“And you think that fixes everything?” He spat.
“No, but I am owning up to my mistake.” Ronke said, advancing some more.
Femi held a hand up to stop her.
He took a deep breath. When he lifted his head up, his voice was firm.
“I am very skilled in the art of being a bastard, but I saw something in you and felt that maybe, just maybe this was it for me; but I can’t do this.”
Ronke blinked at that. “What do you mean?”
“I can’t do this anymore Ronke. It is too much. YOU are too much. It’s a pity too because I really really liked you but-”
“Liked me?” Ronke interjected, her features hardening. “We have been dating for six months; and we are still at ‘like’? I have done everything for you, given everything for you, and have been in love with you almost from the first day I met you-”
“How can you love anybody if you cannot love your damn self Ibironke?!” Femi yelled.
“I am a friendly guy, it’s who I am. It’s who I was when you met me; but you came into my life and have been constantly trying to turn me into something I am not. A person who is afraid to greet his friends, afraid to make a move, afraid to even tell the truth sometimes! Just the other night, I had Akudo lie to protect your feelings!”
Ronke’s head snapped up at that.
“Yeah, at the reunion. I was crazy about Akudo when I was in SS2, and she knew it. I damned near begged her to lie because I did not want you to feel insecure. I was holding onto some hope that at some point, you will realise that you had NOTHING to worry about.” He finished.
Ronke knew deep down that Femi was trying to make a point about her insecurities, but after he said he had been crazy about Akudo in secondary school, she kind of heard nothing else.
Here she was, back full-circle. When she had called him to set up that first dinner date, he had been near hostile on the phone until she mentioned Akudo’s name.
The way he had hugged her that first night, the way he gazed at her. How could she have been stupid enough to think that their shared love of software development, and her constantly playing “wife” to him would change that?
Here they were, having a fight and he had to bring Akudo’s name up.
The bastard was still in love with her. After six months of cooking for him, cleaning his home, driving herself crazy over the women that constantly threw themselves at him, and giving him undoubtedly the best sex he had ever had in his life, he was going to stand here and talk about Akudo?
“Why am I not surprised?” Ronke said. “Of course you are still crazy about Akudo, you never stopped loving her.”
“What are you talking about?” Femi blinked. “Don’t change the topic woman. This is about you, and your insecurities.”
“Liar! That first night we met, weren’t you trying to get Akudo? Wasn’t the reason you came because of Akudo?” Ronke said, inching closer to him; her eyes cold.
“You want to make this about Akudo? Instead of facing your demons and dealing with your crap, you want to drag her into this? Really?” Femi asked in disbelief.
“Answer the question.” Ronke seethed.
“You know the answer to that question. Though most women would focus on the fact that it was you I ended up with, not her.” Femi said, shaking his head and walking around her. “Sometimes I wonder how she even remained friends with you. Is she aware that you see her as a rival even though she sees you as a friend?”
“Shut up.” Ronke said, her lips quivering.
“You know I’m telling the truth. You carry on as if you care about her but you really don’t.” Femi continued.
“Gbenu e dake!” Ronke warned.
“Or what? Kilo fe se? You are messed up Ibironke, and you need to go figure your life out before you destroy the life of that innocent woman.” Femi said, glancing over his shoulder at her.
“If I am so messed up, and she is so perfect; then why did you choose me? Doesn’t that say something about you?” She shot back.
“Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to.” Femi said simply, walking over to his mini bar.
What was that supposed to mean?
She had asked the question to point out that if she was messed up, so was he for being with her. What was he trying to imply? That she had not been his choice?
She advanced towards him.
“Answer the question.” She said between clenched teeth.
Femi glanced back at her, and poured himself some brandy, then walked around her to sit on the couch.
“Olufemi Odebiyi, you will answer me this minute!” Ronke shouted. “If you wanted her, why did you pick me?”
Femi looked at her, then back at the TV. “Please make sure you take all your belongings with you when you leave. I’d hate to throw away any valuables.”
Ronke lunged forward and smacked the glass of brandy out of his hand, sending it shattering on the floor into several pieces.
“Are you mad?” Femi screamed, getting to his feet as he stared at the broken glass pieces on the floor.
“Tell me why!” She shouted in his face.
He towered over her by a good foot, but no man had ever been able to intimidate Ronke.
His eyes blazed with equal fierceness as he glared into hers.
She did not budge.
Suddenly, his eyes grew cold. The transition was so smooth that Ronke found herself swallowing in fear. She had never seen that look in his eyes.
His voice was low, cold, and devoid of emotion when he spoke.
“I chose you because I was not in the mood for a challenge.” He leaned in so close their noses were almost touching. “That’s the truth. Deal with it.”
Ronke’s eyes grew wide, then slowly softened.
Femi turned away mumbling something about cleaning up the mess, but his voice sounded so distant. She felt like the room had become hazy and her vision blurred.
Ronke could not believe it was happening to her again.
She was not the choice, but the substitute.
She was not the prize, but the cheaper option.
She was not chosen for who she was, but for how easy she was.
She was only vaguely aware of herself as she squatted low and picked up a piece of the broken glass.