But we were friends before we were…

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April 28th | Cable Connections

Tell me again why this date hasn’t happened, oh. It’s not rocket science na!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No time. Esohe responded in a flash.

The typing…indicator on Esohe’s screen seemed to go on forever. Idly, she wondered what her friend’s message would be. When it finally appeared, it was all in capital letters accompanied with angry, shocked and frowning faces emojis.

BUT YOU’VE HAD TIME TO GO ON 3 PLAY DATES, ABI? Emoji. Emoji. Emoji. IS HE AUDITIONING FOR A FATHER FIGURE ROLE OR HAVE YOU CAST HIM ALREADY?!

Esohe didn’t reply immediately, biting lightly on her lower lip as she contemplated her answer while reading and rereading the words. I don’t hear him complaining, and he’s really good with children.

Six or half a dozen, it’s the same thing. Babe, are you looking for another father for Osayu? Or a boyfriend first? Either way, you need to be with him to determine a fit, if that’s the case. Be with him the way a man is with a woman. Alone! Especially one trying to woo you! Even if it’s a public place.

It will happen in due time.

When? Before I give birth?

Maybe.

Maybe? Okay oooooooooh. Don’t let this man slip away from you oh. What does Alero say to this your dilly-dallying?

She doesn’t know yet.

Because she go yab you die! Laughing emoji. Another bar. But seriously girlfriend, are you sure you’re ready to go back into the dating scene? It doesn’t seem that way to me. Making a new year resolution and actually following through with it are two different things, y’know.

Uh hu. I think I am Jeje.

Okaaaaayyyy oooooooooooh. I wonder, though, who said yes to that first date invitation – you or our voices in your head? You might want to consider this again if two months after there’s still no alone time with this guy. His cracked screen has nothing to do with it. Give Osayu a big kiss for me. I have ante – natal.

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He rarely called during working hours unless she did or sent a text message first. But here he was, at 1.20pm, lighting up her LCD screen. She was smiling as she picked up her device to answer its summons.

“Hi. I’m at your reception.” Raspy tones informed her before she could speak. “And don’t say you’re away ‘cos the nice lady here said you’re very much in the building.”

“And I’m working.” She responded, already heading towards the door of the meeting room she’d hidden herself in for the past hour or so.

“A five – minute break will do you just fine.”

“Five minutes and no more, IK!” She threatened teasingly, even though she knew she could extend the time. She was as surprised as she was pleased with anticipation of seeing him. “I’ll see you now.”

She noticed his arresting and virile look exuding from the dark – coloured, Atiku outfit he had on before she, belatedly, saw the brown bag he clutched at his side.  He raised it towards her as she approached.

“I wasn’t sure what you’d like for lunch, so I played it safe. Most people like Chinese.” He told her as she stopped right in front of him, the bag separating them. “Hope you like spring rolls for starters”

“Oh IK.” She gushed. No sooner had she gotten over his impromptu visit did she get blindsided by another thoughtful gesture of his. “Thank you.” She took the bag and instinctively closed the gap between them in what would have been a swift, brief, first hug between them if his hand hadn’t immediately circled her waist.

She felt it, and was certain he did too. The connection, the chemistry between them. This physical contact was proof enough. And for a moment Jennifer’s words echoed: Be with him the way a man is with a woman.

“You didn’t come all this way just to give me lunch, did you?” She asked once they disengaged. She steered him towards the exit and away from the attentive gaze of the receptionist and her obvious heightened hearing.

He opened the door and let her by, first, ushering her into the glare of the afternoon sun.  “I’d rather have had lunch with you, Esohe.” He responded smoothly, levelling his gaze on her directly. “But it was short notice and like you said, you’re working.”

She eyed him sideways.

“I was meeting a new client on Awolowo Road and thought: ‘Why not?’ It would be nice to drop in and see you.”

She indicated the bag. “And you came bearing gifts. Thank you again.”

He nodded. “Let me leave you. I think my time’s up. We’ll talk later?”

She smiled and nodded. “Yes.”

“Bon appetit!”

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By the time Esohe came to the realization of her position with IK, she figured she might have left it too late.

The communication between them had waned somewhat. Twice in a row she had sent him text messages to no response. His status had revealed no activity on WhatsApp in the last three days.

Peeved that he hadn’t bothered to check on her, she refrained from texting a third time or even calling him to find out if all was well. For a moment, she wondered: What claim did she have to him? Weren’t they just friends or hanging out with children, and getting to know themselves while playing chaperons? Did she really have a right to be upset with him for going all ghost on her? She wasn’t certain. Encompassing work in the form of the magazine’s annual charity ball which coincided with her boss’s fiftieth birthday in May derailed and distracted her further. As the date drew closer and as the chief project manager, there were long hours and late nights of planning and logistics towards both events – the hall, entertainment, security, parking, guest lists, brochures, invitation, caterers, decorators, suppliers, etc. Temporarily, she moved in with her mum to reduce her daily commute and to be certain Osayu’s needs and school run did not suffer due to the sudden shift in her work schedule.

In the midst of it all, her thoughts did stray to IK when she contracted the stage design out. The magazine had a supplier it worked with and she saw no compelling reason to change him when he constantly delivered satisfactory work but she couldn’t help but recall the 3D design of IK’s she had seen at Eko Hotels and wonder what sort of magic he would have pulled with the magazine’s events. Almost two weeks gone and still no word from him, or movement on his WhatsApp either. She made a mental note to give him a call when her work life regained normalcy again.

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