Folu had been angry with her too. Anita had gone to confront him after the wedding, and she had told him to mind his business. He had felt so embarrassed and upset at Derin for breaking her promise not to mention it.
Time had passed since the wedding. Folu and Derin had reconciled and were back to being good friends.
That was also one of the reasons Derin missed Anita for.
She had started to enjoy this beautiful friendship with him. She didn't feel good with herself if she hadn't heard from him in a day. They spoke over the phone, text, phoned each other again after work, and spent weekends together. The only thing missing was that they were not officially dating. And Derin refused to admit to herself that her walls were developing their own minds and were letting themselves down, brick by brick.
They had a date. Well, she called it hanging out. He wanted to take her to go watch a short stage play titled Thick thin Lines adapted from a Prose written by the multiple award winning Lagos writer, Fisayo Talabi. Derin had never been to the theater to watch a play before. It wasn't really her thing. But Folu seemed really interested. At least it was better than hanging out at home watching Africa magic Yoruba. Her mother never changed nor let anyone change the TV station from Africa Magic Yoruba.
She actually enjoyed the Play to her surprise, although she was not as engrossed as Folu. Sometimes she marveled at his appreciation for literature. The man was a computer software engineer. Definitely he must have been in the Sciences in secondary school.
"Did you enjoy it?" Folu asked her after the play. He held her left hand with his right, like her body guard, as they walked out of the hall.
"I did. Thanks for bringing me here. At least that's one item ticked off my bucket list if I die soon." She said.
She wasn't really surprised at her words. She didn't think she wanted to hide anything from Folu. She wanted to be as open a book as she could be. She questioned herself why she felt the need to let him know her health status. After all, she wasn't exactly interested in a relationship with him, or anyone else.
He was about responding when someone walked up to meet him.
Derin had seen the lady first. She was wearing a lilac body-con dress, and her Funmi hair bounced with lustre and gloss. She was a beautiful young woman. Derin knew she was beautiful, but she stood no where close to this lady. She caught her self looking at Folu, to see if he was checking out the pretty young woman.
"Folu!" The lady said, smiling and feeling very comfortable with him.
Folu smiled too.
"Hi, Ope." He said.
She leaned over and they hugged.
"I never would have guessed you still came here." She said.
Oh, so there was a history...Derin thought.
"You know I love coming here." Folu replied.
There was silence between both of them. It was more like an awkwardness.
"Em...how are things with you?" Folu asked.
"Yeah, very good. I run my own make-up business now." She responded.
"Wow. I'm glad for you." He said.
Derin began to feel more awkward being there.
"I'll go wait in the car." Derin said.
Then Folu remembered to introduce her.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Er...Derin, this is Ope..." Folu started.
"We used to date." Ope said immediately, laughing, as though she was trying to prove a point.
Derin smiled, nodding. Actually, she was beginning to feel really uneasy.
"This is Derin...my..."
Derin waited for it. In fact, both women waited for it. Derin wanted to know what Folu referred to her as, and Ope wanted to know, perhaps, if Derin was his girlfriend.
"I'm his friend." Derin said, smiling.
She left them and went to stand a little afar off. When Folu still hadn't concluded with Ope, she went to sit in the car.
She couldn't help it. Even the music in the car couldn't distract her from stealing glances at them. She was tempted to call him so he would leave her and they would get going. But she decided to hold her horses.
She saw them hug again, then Folu left her and finally began to walk towards the car.
The ride was quiet as he drove and got on the express way. Derin was upset. She didn't know why but she was very upset.
"Hey, why aren't you talking?" He finally said.
"Nothing. Don't feel like talking." She said, her voice flat.
"Is something wrong?" He asked.
"Nothing is wrong." She said. She grabbed her earphones and plugged them in her ears, listening to music from her phone.
Folu finally found somewhere to pull over and then, he yanked the earphones off her ears.
"What was that rubbish for?" Derin raised her voice, her eyes burning with anger.
"What rubbish are you talking about? Taking off your earphones, or not introducing you to Ope." He said.
Derin felt a surge of heat within her. If she were white, she would have gone all red with embarrassment.
"What are you talking about?" She said, looking out the window. Folu held her face in his hands and turned it so she could face him.
"You're upset because I didn't introduce you rightly to her, isn't it?" He said.
Derin wasn't just upset. She was jealous. But on what grounds was she basing her jealousy?
"Look, we are friends, aren't we?" She said.
"Is that all you want us to be?" He asked.
Derin felt her heart beating fast. All the walls she had built were coming down like the walls of Jericho, with Folu's alleluia.
"I...I..I don't understand..." She stuttered.
"Do I have to spell it out to you that I love you?" He said.
Derin heard him right, but she said. "What did you say?"
"You heard me. I love you so much. I don't want to be just your friend."
She was quiet for a while.
"Folu it's complicated." She said.
"Nothing is complicated. You're not in love with someone else, are you? I know you're over your ex, Tobi , already. And Ope means nothing. She cheated on me so I left her." He said, mumbling up all his words.
"You won't understand." She sighed.
"What won't I understand? That you're SS?"
She almost lost her breath and choked on her saliva with what he just said. How did he know? They had never discussed it before!
She didn't need to ask him anything. Her eyes were wide enough to do the asking.
"I'm sorry but Benjy told me. Anita told him." He said.
"What? You guys were talking about me?" She was getting angry.
Folu held her shoulders.
"No, it's not like that. I told him I was getting to like you a lot. He said if I was serious about it, I had to know that you are SS. Anita told him about it already...she wanted to be sure I could stick with you and all that."
She breathed in and out, then she shook her head.
"I'm sorry, I can't."
Anita sat on the rug, looking through her iPad, at their wedding pictures; Her and Benjy. The iPad was on one hand, and on the other was a towel damp with hot water. She was massaging her arm; the black spots where injury had been inflicted on her. Benjy had hit her.
She tried to hold back her tears. They were hot, and had welled up in her eyes. She remembered that day when Derin had dragged her into the bathroom. It wasn't that she didn't know he had been a fraudster and a drug dealer. But he had promised that he had changed and that he now owned his own business in Toronto. She had asked him what kind of business and he said he sold cars and exported used ones to Nigeria. She believed him.
She wanted to believe him, and she had chosen to believe him.
She had been scared when Derin mentioned it. But she couldn't pull out at that time...less than an hour to her wedding. She was thirty three years old. She was already getting tired of the constant teasing and reminders by her parents that it was hightime she got featured too on the Bellanaijaweddings that she checked so often.
Where would she start from? Many of the men who approached her only wanted a fling. In fact, they were always married men, some with kids already.
Benjy was wealthy. Even though he was dirty wealthy, she felt she could help do his laundry and change him into a better person.
...The previous night, Benjy had left the house, insisting that he had to go sort out some things urgently. Anita had complained and whined about his shady behavior and lies and many excuses. She had asked him to show her his office since they moved back to Canada after the wedding, but he always came up with a reason not to. He told her not to worry about anything and that he could provide her with any amount of money she wanted. She didn't have a job and he told her he didn't want her to have one. He said he had promised her parents that he would take care of her and that he was going to fulfill his promise.
But Anita was tired of shopping for clothes and bags and shoes. She wanted to do something. She was too young to be idle.
After he had left the house, she got bored and decided to go take a bath in the Jacuzzi upstairs. As she walked to the bedroom, she passed by Benjy's study. He always locked it up. He never allowed her come into that room. She was curious. She knew she couldn't force him into letting her in, so she decided it was a good time to check what was in there. Perhaps it was only his books that were top secret.
She found the key after a thirty minute long and tedious search in the box where he kept all the keys of the house.
By 10 PM, Benjy walked into the house. He had just received an order from a regular customer for three packs of white powder. He had some piled up under the rug, behind the shelves, in his study. He needed quick cash, because he had spent so much at the wedding in Nigeria. The customer wanted it delivered that night. He had already called one of his boys who helped with delivery to meet him up by 10.30.
Benjy ran up the stairs and dashed into the bedroom. Anita was dressed in her bathrobe, her hair wet and sleek. She had obviously just taken a bath. He kissed her face then dragged out the box where he kept his keys.
"What are you searching for?" She had asked, after watching him.
"The key to my study. I hope I didn't leave it open." He'd said, in a hurry.
Anita stood akimbo behind him, then she brought out the empty plastic bags where he had wrapped up stacks and stacks of cocaine.
"Are you looking for this?" She said.
Benjy stared at her eyes wide.
"What did you do?" He yelled, not believing what was going on right in front of him.
"Benjy I flushed everything down the toilet. You promised you had changed! What is..."
She never finished her statement. He grabbed the collar of her robe and began to hit her several times, cursing and yelling. She managed to let herself free from his grip, then she ran into the bathroom and locked herself in, weeping profusely.
Anita massaged her bruises with one hand, and stared at one of her wedding pictures on the iPad at the same time. She saw Derin in the photo, just behind her. She wished photos could listen so she could tell Derin, the friend who had her back, before she walked into the marriage, that she was sorry.
Folu felt really bad. He had poured out his guts of love to Derin, and she had just told him an outright No.
He knew she had been hurt in the past by her ex. He knew she was very afraid and didn't want to commit herself to another relationship again, but he wasn't going to take her No for an answer. He was a determined man. He always got what he wanted, and Derin wasn't going to be an exception.
Derin couldn't find any sleep. She kept on thinking about what Folu had said. She couldn't lie to herself anymore. She knew she loved him too. She wanted more than anything to be with him, but she didn't want to start something she might not be around to finish. What if her crises happened again and she couldn't survive it? She would leave him depressed and unhappy, and she didn't want that.
She remembered he had said that he knew she was SS. She was surprised that he knew this and was still willing to have a relationship with her. Maybe he wanted a fling. Maybe he just wanted sex. Maybe he wasn't in it for the long term.
By the next morning, she came up with a decision. It was a public holiday so there was no going to work. She took her bath, got dressed, and called a cab to take her to his house, after she had informed him that she was on her way. He had been so eager to hear her voice. She could tell from his pitch.
She smiled as she climbed out of the cab and paid the taxi man, then walked towards his gate. He was standing there already. She hugged him.
"Do you have any guests?" She asked. She knew he lived alone, but she just wanted to be double sure.
"No. I knew you were coming." He said.
She smiled, and held his hand, dragging him into the apartment.
Folu was still surprised as to what was going on. She hadn't exactly said anything. Maybe she wanted to talk...All that mattered was that she was there with him, and he cherished that above everything else.
She pushed his door open, and when they were inside, she shut it and then locked it. Then removed her high heels. Folu smiled.
She unzipped her dress, and then she begun to unhook her underwear.
"What...What's going on? What are you doing?" Folu asked.
"What does it look like?" She said.
"Why? Derin, please..."
"Isn't this why you asked me out? You want sex, right? Well, I'm here, all for you."
He looked away and then turned his back so he wouldn't face her.
"Please get dressed. Don't do this." He said.
She came towards him but he pushed her off and raised his voice, insisting she got dressed, then he went into his bedroom, leaving her in the living room, naked.
She was embarrassed. Slowly, she picked up her dress from the floor and began to get dressed. She sat on the floor, on his Persian rug, crying.
Folu came back into the living room and sat beside her.
"What did you do that for, Derin?" He said, still upset. "It's an insult. You think that's why I love you? Because I want to sleep with you?"
"Then what could you possibly want?"
He sighed, then pulled her close.
"I want to be your man. I want to marry you."
She shook her head.
"How is that going to work? What's your genotype?" She asked.
"Obviously, it has to be AA, for me to want to raise a family with you."
She laughed too. His joke didn't hurt her feelings.
"I...I don't want to get hurt, Folu. Are you sure about this?" She said.
He hugged her.
She put her arms around him and breathed in a sigh of relief.
*Survived the Shoah