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).
Danny chose a table by the poolside, which had a lovely view of the lagoon. He pulled a seat out for Lola, and she sat down without making a fuss. She'd observed how he had been greeted and how they had been treated on entry into the hotel, and figured this was the other hotel he owned in Lagos.
It was bigger and busier than the first hotel, even at lunchtime. A waiter came and handed them two menus each, one for the food and another for drinks. Lola looked up at Danny, with a raised eyebrow, as if to say, "no pre-ordered food today?".
Danny smiled at her implied question. "We're not in a hurry today. We can relax and take our time."
Ummm, Lola thought to herself. "You know, one of us actually has a boss to answer to?"
"Somehow, I don't think your boss will mind you enjoying a nice lunch with me. Don't you know the happiest customers are the most generous patrons?" Danny said, leaning in towards Lola, the desire in his eyes unmasked.
Lola smiled and looked away, as she felt herself blushing. He had an answer for everything, she thought. She busied herself with studying her menu. The burgers looked appetizing.
The waiter came back to take their order. Lola settled for the double cheese burger, with extra tomatoes. Danny ordered a medium-rare steak with a side of chips. Lola asked for orange juice, and Danny ordered a malt drink. The waiter took the menus away, leaving Lola with nothing to focus her attention on except for Danny.
She fiddled in her bag for her phone. No messages. No, not even one! She checked her network connection. It was fine. Why did she have to be so boring? She decided she would send Bolu a message. "Hey darl, how's your day? I hope all's good. I'm just having lunch." The message was sent, but there was no evidence that it had been delivered yet. She put her phone back in her bag.
Danny also checked his phone. Lots of messages. Mainly work, but there were a few personal messages from his "women"; those girls he would get in touch with now and then when he was feeling randy or just a little bored and lonely. He quickly responded to some of his messages, before he noticed that Lola had put her phone away. He looked up and smiled at her. He sent his last message, and placed his phone on the table.
The breeze from the ocean was mild and calming. Lola's weavon blew in the wind, and she used her hand to brush back some strands that blew over her face. Danny reached out his hand and helped her to remove a couple that were stuck on her long lashes, and felt her shiver under his touch.
"Thank you," she muttered. She decided she'd better pack her hair back with a ribbon, so he wouldn't have any more reason to touch her so intimately.
"Why are you packing it up? I like your hair down like that," he asked, though he knew why she'd decided it was the best thing to do.
"I don't want it in my food," she lied. The food was taking long in coming, she thought.
Just then, the waiter brought their drinks. Thank God for a distraction, she thought. She put the straw to her lips and sipped gently.
"So, you said you have five properties in Abuja. Are they apartments or houses?" Lola said, hoping some business talk would break the tension she was feeling.
Danny shook his head. "No business talk for now. Besides, you'll see them next week."
Lola nodded and reverted back to silence.
"I want to know more about you," Danny said, looking intently into her eyes.
"I think you know everything already." Lola said, dismissively.
"I think there's more to know. Like, what makes you happy? What makes you laugh? What makes you smile?"
"I don't know. Sunshine, ice cream, jokes... the usual."
"Oh, you like comedy. There's a comedy house we can go to when you're in Port Harcourt. I always go when I'm in town."
She thought to raise an objection, but decided she would rather save it. He can make all the plans he wants. She was in control, she told herself.
"Do you dance?" Danny asked, with a smile. He loved to dance. He wondered if she was any good.
Lola simply shook her head. Dancing wasn't her strongest trait. She sipped more of her orange juice. "My husband dances, though". Good, remind him that you're married.
"Ahh," Danny said, recognising her tactic. Not shying away from the challenge, "How did you meet your husband?"
"Church," Lola answered. "We both volunteered for a Church event, and he noticed me, and asked me out. Just like that".
"Cool. So how did you know he was the one?"
Lola shifted uncomfortably on her seat. She wasn't sure how to answer that, but figured honesty was best. "Do you ever really know for sure? He was a good man, with great prospects. We shared the same faith and commitment, values and interests.... He made me happy... He understood me, and I felt right at home with him from day one. Everything just seemed right."
"He made you happy?" Danny noted the past tense.
"Yeah... We were very happy at the beginning. The sky was the limit. But somehow, life gets in the way, and you start scaling down your expectations."
"Ummm..." Danny thought it was bold of her to be so honest. "So are you not happy anymore?"
She looked up at him, and saw that his concern appeared genuine. "I'm happy enough."
"I don't believe you," Danny said.
"You don't have to. It's not your problem whether or not I am happy. It is my husband's problem...if it is a problem at all."
Just in the nick of time, the food arrived. Lola took in a deep breath. She was proud of herself for putting Danny in his place. In case he thought he would be a hero to save her from her unhappy marriage, she felt he would be deterred by her response. It was also good for her to remember that Danny's involvement in her marital problems would be like throwing petrol to a burning house. Her help would not come from the likes of him, but from above.
Danny chewed over Lola's last statement to him, as they ate their food in silence. He appreciated her faithfulness to her husband. It was an attractive quality that made her even more endearing to him. But was she right that her happiness was not his concern, not even a little bit? If he cared for her, though he wasn't sure how much yet, wouldn't it be his business? If her husband was hurting or mistreating her, didn't he have a right to be concerned, especially if he knew better and desired to treat her in a way she deserved? And how can her being unhappy not be a problem? He knew it was her way of brushing him off, but he wasn't sure he was ready to accept that.
"I still don't believe you. And as a fellow human being, who I happen to know and care about, your happiness is my concern".
Lola looked up at him in disbelief. He wasn't going to drop the matter? She shook her head. "You're just a stubborn goat!"
"Ahh, yes! So glad to officially no longer be worthy of the title of 'Sir'! Only a true friend can be so honest!" Danny said cheekily.
Lola laughed out loud, and Danny laughed too. The ice was broken. So, they had crossed the line to being friends, Lola thought, as she dug into her burger. I guess I can live with that.
Danny was happy to hear Lola laugh. She had a beautiful laugh. He wanted to make her laugh more often. Now that she had addressed her very private feelings about her marriage, their conversation flowed more freely. Danny learnt that Lola was in fact quite a joker, and they had a good time making each other laugh, as they recounted different stories from their lives growing up.
It was the sun setting that alerted Lola that they were still out at lunch, after more than two hours. How they had filled their time with conversation, she didn't know. But she'd had fun. A lot of fun. And she didn't feel guilty about enjoying the company of another man, who she now regarded as a friend.
Danny drove Lola home again, despite the traffic. He had insisted that he wouldn't have her taking the bus, when he had kept her out all day. Their drive back was filled with comfortable silence, now that the ice had officially thawed. Danny was happy about this breakthrough, but the last thing he wanted was to be 'the friend'. He wasn't sure what exactly he wanted from Lily, but being only a friend was not it.
They got to Lola's compound at about 7:30pm. Danny took her hand and squeezed it. "Goodnight, Lily. I had a great time today," he said, affectionately.
She smiled at him, and squeezed his hand back, before withdrawing her hand. "Goodnight, Danny".
Lola shut the car door and walked through the gates to her apartment. She was happy with how things had worked out today. She felt safer having Danny as a friend, and knowing that it was okay for her to have fun with him, without reading too much into everything he did. She felt assured that everything would be okay. As for her marriage, she would have to keep praying over it, and trust God to work everything out for good.
Lola walked into an unusual scene in her two bedroom apartment. Someone was cooking in her kitchen, and she knew for certain it wasn't Bolu, because his car wasn't in the compound. It could only be...
"Mama?!" Lola said in shock, seeing her mother-in-law stirring soup on the stove. "Eku irole, Mommy."
"My daughter, welcome," said Bimbo. She didn't turn from her activity.
"How long have you been in? We weren't expecting you until next week."
"Do I have to wait for your invitation before I come and see my son?" Bimbo shot at Lola.
"Sorry, Mommy. I didn't mean it like that," Lola said. She dropped her bag on the dining table and went to assist Mama in the kitchen. "Here, let me help you with that."
"It is okay, I've already finished. You make pounded yam. Your husband should be home any minute".
Lola washed her hands and did as she was told. She wondered if Bolu was aware that his mother was already in Lagos. She hadn't checked her phone since lunchtime. She had figured Bolu would be working late again.
"So, who was that man that dropped you at the gate?" Bimbo asked.
Lola froze for a minute. She turned around to look at her mother-in-law, wondering just how much she had seen. Their apartment was on the third floor, and she wondered if it would have been possible to see into Danny's car from the balcony facing the road. "He is a client. I am decorating his properties," Lola said finally.
"Does your husband know he drops you at home?" Bimbo's enquiry continued.
Lola had a nervous laugh. "Is there a problem with someone dropping me at home?" She asked defensively.
"Huh," Bimbo grunted. "The way I saw it, it looked like a problem, oh."
"I'm trying to understand, Mama. What did you see?" Lola asked boldly, despite the voice in her head telling her to just shut up.
"If it is not a problem, then you will not mind me telling my son what I saw."
"Again, Mama, what did you see?" Lola couldn't restrain her tongue.
"It is well," Bimbo said, going to sit on the sofa. She put on the TV and proceeded to ignore Lola.
Lola went to her bag and retrieved her phone. Only one message from Bolu. "I'll be working late tonight. Please keep my dinner for me," was all it said. There was no missed call. She decided she would call Bolu herself. He didn't answer his phone. She tried again. Same thing. She sent him a message. "Mama is here. Your food is ready. I hope you will be home soon."
Lola returned to the kitchen to finish pounding the yam for her husband and his mother. She had lost her appetite.
To be continued...
Photo credit: www.eharmony.com