September 5th | La Feminine
Head bent and hair partially blocking her view, she was fumbling in her handbag for her ringing cellphone as she stepped into the reception of La Feminine that morning. Thus, failing to see the receptionist rising to her feet to greet her, or the figure unfurling from one of the black chairs which adorned the area. “Good morning ma.”
If it was Eddie calling, she’d silence the ringer, she thought, stopping to extract the device and raising her head to acknowledge the lady in front of her. She still hadn’t worked out exactly what she was going to tell him. She was yet to find the words. How do you let a man, who has captured your heart, go? How do you let a man like that go? She needed more time. Or needed to prolong the illusion that all was still well with them.
She glanced at her screen, simultaneously sensing a presence out of the corner of her eyes. The number flashing was unknown to her; it wasn’t Eddie. Then she looked sideways. He was here at her office. She just ran out of time.
“Good morning Miss Eweka.” He shoved both hands into the pockets of his trousers; the dark-grey suit he had on, like all the others he wore, fitting well on his frame. His expression gave nothing away; just dark, sharp eyes flickering all over her face.
She ignored the call completely, tearing her gaze from his intense one, turning to the receptionist. “How long has Mr. Williams been waiting?” She inquired, willing her voice to be steady and strong. “And why didn’t you call to tell me?”
“Because I told her not to.” Eddie answered before the receptionist could.
Esohe turned back to stare at him and was certain he could read her thoughts clearly. If I had known you were here, I wouldn’t be until I was sure you were gone. Mentally, she collected herself. “This way, Mr. Williams.” And she resumed walking in the direction of her office, sharply aware of his steady footfalls behind her and totally unprepared for the confrontation that was to come. She still didn’t know how to explain away her attitude of the last two days.
“Please take a seat.” She invited once they entered the office and were alone, striding towards the table to her chair behind it.
“Thanks.” He didn’t take her on her offer. Just stood ramrod straight behind it, watching her place bags on the table and swivel the chair, making no attempt to sit down either or meet his gaze.
“I’m sorry…” She began.
“Esohe, is everything all…?” He started as well.
They both stopped speaking the way they started – together.
He gestured with one of his hands. “You first.”
“It has been crazy, these two days.” She explained. “I was too swamped to call.”
“We’re both busy.” He pointed out. “But somehow…are you all right, Esohe? And Osayu?” He asked suddenly, digressing.
She still avoided his stare. “Yes, we both are. Thank you.” She paused. “I just feel a bit rushed.”
She missed seeing him stiffen ever so slightly but felt the slowly building tension seeping through the air.
Now they were getting somewhere. “Rushed, Esohe?” His hand gripped the back of the chair in front of him. “Did I do something wrong over the weekend? Tick you off with something I said, insinuated?”
She shook her head. “No, it’s not you. It’s me. “ She bit her lower lip in an attempt to stem the tears gradually forming and threatening to spill. “I feel choked. I think we need to cool things off a bit.”
“What are you saying?” The smoky tones were quiet.
“We need space, a break from each other.” She lied unconvincingly.
“What break? Which space?” He wanted to know, leaning forward, his face suffused in mild surprise. “We’ve only just begun! For goodness sake, we had an almost perfect weekend together! Where is this coming from?” His eyes narrowed. “Does this have anything to do with Folarin?”
“No!” Her reply coming a tad too quickly. “I just need to sort some issues out on my own.”
“What issues, Esohe?” He asked. “You’re being vague. What is going on with you? Talk to me! We’re supposed to be a team, remember?”
“Don’t do this, Esohe!” He implored her. “Whatever it is, we can face it together.”
“I’m sorry, Edosa.”
Now that she had dropped the bomb on him, it seemed easier to bank the tears, but her heart was sliding rapidly into the pits of her stomach, shattered in several places.
Two days ago, she’d been the one pleading, begging, desperate; and now she was on the other side of the table, dishing out the same justice she’d suffered through to the man she loved. Her breath caught in her throat and she turned away.
“Don’t call my full name when you’re breaking up with me.” Smoky tones informed her after a stretch of uncomfortable silence. “It’s like twisting a knife in an open wound.”
Only when the door closed gently behind him did she cover her face with her hands, and hot, treacherous, silent tears came cascading down her face.