AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR - VOLUME ONE
Copyright © Ufuomaee
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23).
Daniel Akunne was a man expert at getting what he wanted. With each new triumph, his confidence and skills grew. He had learnt early the virtue of patience and the art of cunning, and was resourceful in making the best use of all the gifts God had blessed him with, including his charms.
Despite his appeal and success with the ladies, he had never settled down. His drive to build an empire did not allow him the time needed to focus on keeping a woman happy. And he had not met any that presented a worthy challenge yet. However, he was of the mind that he had stumbled on something quite rare and precious, when he had walked into Da-Vyne Interiors, just yesterday. He had to thank his good old friend for recommending their services.
Danny pushed open the double doors of the restaurant, where a table for two was already prepared for him and his special guest by the window. He went ahead to pull up a seat for his companion, before going to sit across from her. Moments later, two waiters came with trays of pre-ordered delicacies, an assortment of meats and rice dishes. Another came to take their order for drinks.
Lola looked at him in amazement, as everything happened like in a movie. It was all so surreal. She cut through the scene with her ludicrous question: "Do they do this every time you come to eat here?"
Danny threw his head back and laughed. "Would you believe me if I said yes?"
"I'm not sure I would," Lola said honestly. She fiddled with her hands on her lap, feeling the need to broach the issue at hand. "This is awkward, but I hope you're not trying anything funny?"
Danny let his sly grin break into a full smile, as he giggled. "Like what?"
Lola shook her left hand in front of her, to draw attention to her wedding ring, and pulled one eyebrow up.
"Oh no. What do you take me for?" Danny rebuffed. "It's my restaurant, can't I show off a little bit? I'm just trying to make sure you come back... That's what we do in the hospitality business, you know? The customer is king - or in your case, queen!"
"Um umm, yeah yeah" Lola smiled, deciding that she'd done enough to address the elephant in the room. "If you say so."
"So what are you going to drink?"
"I'll be happy with water, thank you."
"A little wine will help you sleep. It's been a long day," Danny said.
"No, water is just fine," Lola said, looking pointedly at the waiter.
"Well, if you're not having any, I'm not having any either," Danny said, with a fake sulk. "Get us two bottles of water and some fresh juice".
"Yes, Sir", said the waiter, as he left for the bar.
"So, you never answered my question," Danny said, serving himself a plate.
"What question?" Lola ate a bite of her prawn spring roll.
"If I can call you Lily?"
"If it makes you happy," she shrugged and looked out of the window at the traffic below, trying to appear disinterested.
"Lily it is. It really is a beautiful name. It suits you."
"Thank you, Sir," Lola said, intentionally adding the title of respect to draw again the line of professionalism.
"I think you can stop calling me Sir now," Danny said, with an eyebrow raised. "Danny works for me. Or Dan. Or D." He gave her a wide grin and chuckled at her reaction. He had to loosen her up. She's so serious.
"What do you do for fun?" Danny asked.
Lola had to think. "I read. And watch TV."
"Ever traveled out of Nigeria?" Lola shook her head. "Lagos?" she nodded.
"We traveled for my traditional wedding," Lola answered.
Danny was quiet for a while. He ate and watched Lola as she ate her plate of chicken fried rice. She had a good appetite. He was glad she wasn't one of those girls who picked at their food.
Lola grew nervous as she felt his gaze on her. She was still fighting an internal battle, and trying not to enjoy his presence so much. But the truth was that she did enjoy his company. He was funny and charming, and she admired his business sense. She wanted to know more about him, but she also wanted to keep things professional between them, so she bit her tongue and focused on her meal instead.
"What about your dad?" Danny broke the silence again. "You never spoke about him."
"There's nothing to tell," Lola responded.
"That bad, eh?" Danny said, wondering about her family values. Family was very important to him. Even though he didn't have a wife and children yet, he was a good uncle to all his nieces and nephews. And he hoped to have his own one day. "No siblings?"
"I'm the only child my mother had. My dad left us for another woman, when I was still little. I don't know him, though he was at my wedding," Lola finally shared. "I'm not interested in his life. I hear he's got four other children with his second wife, but I don't know them either."
"Your mom never remarried?"
"He broke her heart, and she never trusted again. It was just us. And now, it's just me."
Ummm... Danny thought. How sad. Her final statement rang in his ears. "Just you? What about your husband?"
"Yeah, well... just the both of us," she corrected herself, feeling a little embarrassed that she might have given too much of her feelings of loneliness away.
"He doesn't have family?"
"He does. Most live in his village. But his father is late. I never met him."
"Oh," Danny said. Wanting to change the topic, "how are you enjoying the meal?"
Lola smiled, appreciating the diversion. "It's lovely, thanks."
Danny volunteered information about himself, sensing that Lola was reluctant to ask. He had schooled in Nigeria his whole life and was a top student throughout school and University. He started his real estate business while at the University of Benin, with a side hustle, helping people to find low rent properties. That was how he got into the property development business. As a Petroleum Engineer by profession, he got a good job in a reputable firm, and saved up to buy his first estate. After a few years, he decided to quit, and expand his business. At 38 years of age, he had everything he ever wanted, except his own family.
Lola was very impressed by his story. She allowed herself to notice the man sitting across from her for the first time. She studied him with interest. He was a dark beauty, a Taye Diggs look alike, without the boyish look. He was well-built, with thick strong arms. She noticed the deep dimples on his cheeks whenever he smiled, even slightly. He had long, thick lashes too, and eyes that pieced into one's soul. His lips were full, with a touch of pink. They were tempting; he was tempting... She caught a hold of herself, blushed and looked away. Danny observed her reaction with satisfaction.
She hadn't ever allowed herself to look at another man in that way, since she said "I do" to Bolu. She had reasoned that if you don't look, you can't be tempted... And now she had looked, and she couldn't stop noticing how sensationally attractive Danny was. She wondered what the time was, and looked absentmindedly at her watch.
"Oh my God, it's 8:30!" she exclaimed.
"Time flies when you're having fun," Danny joked, with a cheeky grin. "Let's get you home."
Lola went to where she had put her phone to charge. Five missed calls! How could she have lost track of time? She unlocked the phone to see who the calls were from. One was a network call. Another was her boss, and the remaining three were from Bolu. She checked her messages. Only two from Bolu. "Hey babe, you home yet?" and "Why aren't you picking my calls? Been trying to reach you. Please call me when you get this."
"Is everything ok?" Danny asked, noticing a change in Lola's demeanour. She looked panicked.
"I just have to get home," she said, as she picked up her bag and hurried to the elevators. Oh Lord, what if Bolu was home waiting for her? She pushed the button frantically. How would she explain where she had been all evening? She quietly prayed that she would make it home before him.
Bolu was worried now. He hadn't been able to get through to Lola all evening, and by 8:30pm, she still hadn't called him back. However, he could see that the message he sent via WhatsApp had been delivered and read. Something wasn't right. His mother's words echoed in his ears.
He could no longer focus on his work, so he packed up his things and decided to leave the office earlier than planned. The traffic would have cleared up by now, and he would be home between 15 to 20 minutes.
Lola was silent on the drive back home. Her heart was racing with the fear of being caught. But what she had done wrong, she wasn't sure. Technically, she hadn't done anything she should be ashamed of, she thought. Everything could be explained perfectly reasonably. Except for the fact that she wished she could have spent a little longer, in that place where it was just her and Danny. And except for the fact that she was now seeing Danny as more than a client.
A line was crossed tonight, and she was afraid because she didn't want to go back to the place of safety. For the first time in a long time, she had not felt desperately lonely. She felt awakened in a way she hadn't felt in ages. And she was afraid of going back and never feeling that excitement again. She had been resigned to live unhappily married, thinking there was nothing more for her, and now she feared that she could no longer live with her discontent...having tasted an alternative reality.
She knew what she had to do. She knew the only way to make sure she doesn't fall for temptation is to run from it, like the Bible says to. Would she have to give up the commission? Hand over the job to her MD or a field agent? It didn't make sense to give up such a great opportunity. Her husband wouldn't even understand why she felt she had to give up the job. No, she would have to get a grip on herself. She would just have to make more effort to keep the lines of professionalism drawn...
"I don't know where I'm going," Danny interrupted her thoughts.
"Oh sorry. Please take this left," Lola said, pointing at the gate that lead to her estate from the roundabout. She directed him until he got to her apartment building.
"Thanks for a lovely evening, Lily. I'll call you in the morning," Danny said, with an affectionate smile, before unlocking the doors with the central lock system. "I'd like you to see the other places tomorrow if possible, so we can schedule Port Harcourt and Abuja for next week."
Lola gave a slight smile. She didn't know what to do or say. She had to process what had happened tonight. She nodded, carried her bag and opened the car door to leave.
Danny waited until she had entered through the gate of her compound to safety, before driving away.
As he drove off, Bolu arrived and horned at the gate of the compound.
When he got in their apartment, Lola was in the kitchen tidying up. "Welcome back, hon," she called out to him in her usual tone.
He dropped his briefcase and keys and went to her. "Didn't you see my messages?"
"Sorry, I missed them because my phone was charging. I actually just got home myself," she admitted.
"How come?" Bolu asked, observing her closely for a tell-tale sign that she wasn't telling the complete truth.
"The last property I saw was a hotel at Ikate. They want to redecorate, and by the time I've surveyed all the rooms, it was almost 7pm. I decided to stay and eat dinner, to wait out the traffic."
"Was it on the house?" Bolu asked, intrigued.
"Yes it was... Oh, I should have brought back some. Maybe next time. How was your evening?"
"It was ok. I came home early because I was concerned about you," Bolu said. "Mama called. She said something about something not being right, so I got worried. You're sure there's nothing else you want to tell me?"
This was it. Would she tell him the whole truth? What was the whole truth? And what good would it do to Bolu to be worried about his wife's attraction to another man, if she would just nip it in the bud? So, there was nothing to say, Lola reasoned. "Not that I know of..."
"Why didn't you call me, though?" Bolu prodded further.
"I was leaving already when I saw your message. I thought it'd be better to call once I got home."
"And yet, you still didn't," Bolu said, looking at her suspiciously.
"What's this about? Do you have any reason to suspect me? Except for your mother's feeling that something isn't right?" Lola replied defensively. "I don't question you every night you come back at ten, eleven or even midnight. This work will require some late shifts. I thought you knew that?"
Bolu was quiet. His lawyer instincts told him that there was something she wasn't telling him.
"Look, I got home, and I saw that the kitchen was a mess, and I just wanted to tidy it up quickly. And that's when I heard your horn. I'm sorry I didn't call."
Bolu decided he would drop the issue for now... But he would have to keep an eye on her. "Okay."
"How is Mama?" Lola continued to clean the counter.
"She's fine. She wants to come and visit. How do you feel about that?"
"When? And for how long?" Lola turned to look at her husband. She didn't know if she could stomach her mother-in-law staying over. She was a very demanding and tiresome woman.
"Probably next week. Maybe for a month."
"Well, I'm supposed to travel next week," Lola said, hoping that would be sufficient deterrent for further consideration.
"Yeah, I told her. And I thought about it too. Instead of having someone come around to cook and clean, Mama would be able to help with cooking at least. So it works out," Bolu said decisively. Mama would also help him to keep an eye on Lola, he thought.
Lola swallowed hard. She simply nodded, not wanting to give her feelings away.
Bolu went over to her and pulled her into his arms. "I'm sorry for suspecting you," he said. "I know you're not all that happy with my work schedule, and I just hope you will continue to be understanding of the demands of my work. It'll get better. I'll make more effort to come home to you, I promise."
Lola nodded again, and allowed Bolu to kiss her passionately. He took her by the hand and led her to their bedroom.
Ten minutes later, Bolu rolled on his side with satisfaction. Lola laid awake in bed as silent tears streamed down her cheeks. Something definitely wasn't right.
To be continued...
Photo credit: www.eharmony.com