August 31st |Lekki Phase 1
“How did this happen, Seyi?” Authoritative, firm and calm smoky tones asked into the cellphone. “I left you with specific instructions.” Dark, sharp eyes trailed Esohe who emerged from the kitchen as she sauntered towards the two closed doors further down the cream – coloured curved wall.
It was only after they’d disengaged from their passionate reunion, and Eddie’s cell began to ring did she pay attention to her surroundings for the first time.
Rich, deep–brown leather furnishing – a two–seater, a three-seater and three round stools made up most of the pieces in the sitting room. A bright orange ottoman by the wall stood out and aloft; she placed her bag on it after admiring it and testing its comfort level by depressing with her fingers. The exquisite coffee table in the middle had a round, tempered glass and a high gloss base in the same shade of brown. This can only be found in a bachelor’s pad, she mused, her eyes shifting to the front of the room.
A 40-inch TV hung from the wall; above it was a round, white-tipped clock with black–coloured numbers written in cursive. Beneath the TV was another cute glass contraption of a cabinet. A glass figure of the Bhurj Khalifa and the formidable lady of justice, in gleaming bronze, balancing her scales and blindfolded, were the only two items adorning it. The sitting room was devoid of any frills. No framed photographs. No laurels. No needless decorations. Only the essentials, showcasing Eddie’s taste.
The dining area held four black chairs in an intimate gesture with a rectangular glass top, one of which Eddie occupied, speaking with a subordinate, his gaze flying to his guest now and again. Not unlike their very first meeting in La Feminine’s boardroom. This time, however, she was free to walk out of his line of sight. As she sailed past him, her fingers grazed his shoulders. He attempted to capture them in one palm and missed; she giggled and slipped away, reaching for the door Tony’d disappeared behind not too long ago.
It was the kitchen, and Tony could be found tucked in a corner, mowing down a hectic amount of jollof rice. The other man within the enclosure was bowing down in greeting even before she became fully aware of his presence. A white cloth hat and corresponding white apron spoke volumes of his role in the house immediately. Vincent was Eddie’s personal chef; a portly, little man with a serious look about him. From the steaming pots and fresh produce lining the marble counter, he seemed to be cooking up a storm for his boss.
“Can I prepare something for madam?” He asked politely.
Esohe shook her head, slightly amused at his attitude. “No thank you, Vincent.”
“If you change your mind, ma’am.” He bowed again.
She nodded with a little smile, turned around and departed, leaving him to his duties.
“I encourage your initiative.” Eddie was saying now. “But we both know how tricky this client can be. To deal with him is to think like him.”
Esohe paused by the first of the two closed doors, and glanced back at Eddie. Unconsciously, she arched her back slightly.
His gaze missed nothing; he nodded and gestured his assent.
The first door revealed a bedroom. Most likely Eddie’s. An unopened, black, trolley suitcase leaned against wide paneled wardrobes. A black laptop bag rested on one of the bedside cupboards. It was a neat, spacious room with similar shades of colour as the sitting room. No frills as well. A four-poster bed – dressed in cream beddings and a duvet that were yet to be slept on, a lampstand, a table and its sole chair, soft rug and brown shutters over the window.
Nothing personal. But it was there, that earthy, masculine scent of his hung in the air. Faint but definitely present. It was the same one she inhaled during the brief hugs they shared and any time he was near. The same one that’d enveloped her a few minutes ago during their fiery moment.
This was his room all right. The master’s bedroom.
She passed on looking into the ensuite bathroom and ventured into the other closed door.
Eddie was still glued to his dining chair; he sounded as though he was rounding off his conversation.
The other room didn’t need lingering. It was bare to the bones. It had the markings of a guest room not in use for a long period of time. Though it was clean and free of any dust, the bed without covering.
Okay, so it was a two–roomed cottage, she thought. With a boys’ quarters she’d spied through one of the room’s windows. But what about the maisonette? Why was it empty? Whose was it? What was its story? She wondered, strolling out the second door and almost colliding with Eddie, who was in the process of joining her.
“What’s wrong with your back?” He asked, speaking first.
She looked up at him. “Are you done?” She evaded the question with one of hers.
He nodded. “For now. I told them I had someone important to attend to.” He replied. “So what’s wrong with your back?”
She shrugged and walked past him. “Nothing. Just a little pain. Sleep should cure it.” She was heading towards the ottoman.
He turned and followed her. “How long has it been?”
“This morning. Bad sleeping posture last night.” She lowered her frame on the pouf and grabbed her bag. “I took something for the pain.”
“And it’s still there.” He loomed over her, a figure in all white attire. “A light massage might go a long way. I can give you one.” He offered. “You want to undress in my bedroom?”
Esohe’s fingers stopped rifling for her cell phone. She didn’t look up. She didn’t utter a word of response either.
The ensuing silence stretched for some seconds until Eddie sat on his heels, giving him a full view of her slightly worried expression, half–hidden by her hair falling forward.
“Esohe, you trust me enough to come visit in my house, don’t you?” He began quietly, gazing up at her.
“I don’t plan on forcing myself on you. There’s nothing manly about it.” He continued. “I’ve never done it and don’t intend to start now. Especially not with you.” He paused briefly. “When we make love, and we will…” He reached up and tucked her hair behind her ear, compelling her to meet his gaze headlong. “…it will be like the kiss we shared a while ago. Consensual. You’ll want me as much as I want you.” His lips curved into a small smile at the thought. “It would be pleasurable, and we’d bask in the afterglow of that explosive meeting.”
She shifted her gaze from his, pursing her lips and failing miserably to hide a wayward smile.
He caught it and his expanded. “Whenever you’re ready, my dear. I’ll be waiting.” He murmured.
She turned her back to him as he straightened. “Can you help me with the zip?” She asked.
Esohe awoke with a start. Where was she? As sleep slowly dissipated from her brain and vision, so did her bearings return. Eddie’s place.
The only light in the room shone from the screen of the muted TV behind her. She twisted her neck but was unable to make out the time on the clock above it.
She still laid prone on the orange ottoman; her bag resting on the coffee table. A heavy covering weighed and warmed her equally; she recognized the duvet from the master bedroom. She was still fully clothed with her feet missing the strappy sandals.
Soft snores of breathing drew her attention to the three -seater adjacent to her. In a white plain t-shirt and striped blue pyjamas trousers, Eddie was stretched out on his back, a hand over his head, sleeping peacefully.
She manoeuvered herself to a sitting position, and arched her back; the dull ache barely registered but her stomach groaned loudly from its emptiness. The last meal she had must have been at noon.
She reached for her bag and rummaged for her cellphone; the time was 10 minutes to midnight, and there were no missed calls. Several work e-mails awaited her attention though.
She replaced the ‘phone and rose from the ottoman. The last thing she remembered was Eddie’s hands going back and forth on her bare back, their rhythmic movements a soothing balm to her aches, mesmerizing in the simple task they performed to the sound of his voice recounting the tale behind the grounds and the buildings standing on them. Something about the masionette being too big for one person…a family was more suitable for its size and space…it would become useful in time. She must have dropped off somewhere along the way.
She went past the dining area, noting a rectangular cooler, cutlery, glasses, silverware and bottles of water on the table, some of which had been already used.
Her second foray into Eddie’s room showed a different side – the master was back!
His white, native outfit was strewn across the bed. Shoes, apart, and half- peeking from beneath the bed. His personal effects – watch, wallet, handkerchief, etc – adorned the bedside cupboard. The once unopened suitcase lay unzipped but covered on the floor next to the table and chair.
She threw one of the wardrobe doors open. Suits, stand-alone jackets, shirts and trousers in sober, lawyer colours greeted her in silence from their places on wooden hangers. She opened another and looked down at three drawers which made up the bottom -half of the wardrobe. She found what she wanted in one of them which had t-shirts, half-arranged in transparent bags and half- scattered. The grey one she chose was plain, V-necked and thick. More than two sizes too big.
It didn’t matter when she slipped it over her now semi– nude body and a whiff of Eddie’s signature scent immediately engulfed her.
A few minutes in the bathroom produced a fresh–looking face, free from hours wearing make-up.
Out of the room at last, she paused by the dining table, helping herself to a little of everything packed in three plastic containers – grilled fish, cube sized plantains, and a sauce not unlike ayamase – she found inside the cooler. Once she was done, she slipped the almost cold remnants into a grey, double–doored refrigerator in the kitchen.
Back in the sitting room, plate in hand, she stopped briefly by Eddie. This sleeping form was new to her. She had only seen him awake and talking, laughing, gesturing; those lips curling in amusement and excitement; his eyes taking in everything. To view him in repose was mild entertainment for her. He looked vulnerable. No trace of the cocky or arrogance or self–assured traits. Just a man who needed to rest a very active body and mind. On impulse, she stooped and brushed her lips against his cheek lightly. He moved slightly as though in reaction, as though he was about to awake but sleep and exhaustion won. He settled back into deep somnolence, expelling soft snores in his wake.
She walked towards the ottoman and perched on it, balanced the plate on her knees, stared at the CNN reporter on the screen as well as the news scroll below, and couldn’t quite comprehend how she got here – about to have a proper meal after midnight at Eddie’s, dressed in a t-shirt of his. What had this man done to her within such a short period of knowing him?