Saturday was her best day of the week. It was because that was the only time she got to sleep, rest, eat and binge watch or catch up on her favorite TV soaps and YouTube series. Her favorite was This Is It on LowlaDee TV. She just found herself falling in love with Dede’s character while secretly crushing on Tomide. Yeah, fine boys were her weakness.
The particular episode she was watching got her thinking. She wanted a good life; something sweet and eternal. Yes, it was normal for every marriage to have its ups and downs. No relationship was perfect. But she wanted something as good as Dede and Tomide’s. Or more realistically, like her parents’. Her dad and mom had been married for twenty nine years and they still acted like teenagers in love. Her dad still sent her mom little gifts every now and then; those Just because it’s Tuesday kind of presents. She watched the way her father loved and treated their mother despite her big tummy and saggy breasts. He would bend his glasses to the bridge of his nose and scope mummy whenever she got ready for a party or tied those her one of a kind gele styles for church service. And mummy in return respected daddy so much. She had taught the girls to cook like bosses but she still made sure she prepared every meal that went through the esophagus of her husband. She didn’t take it as a wifely duty. She did it because he was the love of her life that she sought to please. Tony and her younger sister Kiky always complained of how gross their parents acted but the truth was that the girls envied and respected the love their parents shared.
Her phone rang. She was tired of Jimi’s calls. She didn’t even care to know how he got himself out of the horrible situation at the restaurant. He had called her phone a dozen of times last night and she’d had to switch it off to catch some sleep.
It wasn’t Jimi calling though.
“You haven’t changed, Abosede.”
It was her mother. She rolled her eyes. She didn’t know if it was deliberate that her mother chose to call her by her first name. Abosede was actually given to her by her paternal grandmother. Growing up, everyone called her Bose till she got into secondary school and decided to be addressed as Antonia and thereafter, simply Tony. Her little sister followed suit and changed her name from Okikioluwa to Kiky.
“Are you still sleeping at this time? This is 11.30am.”
“Mummy. Good Morning.” Tony responded.
“Good morning, my darling. I hope you slept well. I’m sure you have had a stressful week but you need to get used to waking up early. You are a woman and you have to be up early to cook for your husband and children so you have to get used to it now…Speaking of that, how is that your boyfriend you have been following for so long? Are you two even talking marriage?”
Tony didn’t know which question to start answering first. She loved her mother to bits but it was because of questions like these that she kept her distance from her sometimes.
“How is daddy?” She changed the subject.
“Your father is fine. He’s my husband. How is your own?”
“Mummy please, don’t start this early morning again now. I have had a long week of stress and I just want to rest.”
“Okay o. Do you have enough food at home sha?”
Tony missed and craved her mother’s delicious buka stew filled with all sorts of living things, and her signature gbegiri soup and efo riro.
“I haven’t had the time to go to the market. I have been closing around 11p.m every day.”
“That your job. I don’t know why you won’t take your dad up on his offer and come work with the family business. That way you can even move back to the house.”
“I don’t…Mum, I am building a legal career. We have had this discussion so many times. I can’t work with a Saw mill factory.”
“Saw mill factory that sent you and your sister to very good schools in London. You are not serious. Let me tell your father and we will see if you will still get the allowance and gifts from him.”
“Oya Mummy e ma binu. Saw mill business is the best in the world!” Tony laughed.
“Iwo lo mo. Anyways Mr. Salisu is coming down with Kiky. I even called you because of something else. You remember that my friend when we were living at Isolo, Mrs Akinwale?”
Mr. Salisu was her mother’s driver.
“Yes. Tope and Toba’s mother?” Tony replied.
“Ori e pe. She’s having her Fiftieth birthday next week Sunday. It’s going to be a very big party and everyone who matters is going to attend. You know she’s into politics now. I got the asoebi for you. It’s Sixty Thousand but she gave us for free because of our good relationship. Kiky is bringing yours so you can have it made immediately. You have to attend.”
“I don’t really feel like….besides where do I find someone to make my outfit in a week. I don’t even have the time.”
“Bose, you have to come o. Find a way. She has been asking after you and she really likes you. Toba is around too. He has relocated back to Nigeria and he has his own business which is doing very well. Many more celebrations for both our families lagbara Jesu.”
Tony couldn’t help but laugh at her mother. The woman reminded her of Tiwa’s mom in Skinny girl in Transit.
“And you think Toba doesn’t have somebody he wants to marry already? See, mummy, it’s okay. I have heard. I hope Kiky is bringing my cooler of jollof and stew with the asoebi.”
“You should call Mrs. Akinwale to tell her thanks for the asoebi. I will send her phone number to you now.”
“Are you aware I am in a relationship Mummy?” Tony said.
She looked at her finger and stared at the ring. She hadn’t given it much thought after she stormed out of the restaurant and called a Taxi to get her home. As soon as she had gotten home, she took it off and kept it in her drawer. She picked it up again after she ended the call with her mother and wore it. She switched on the LED bulbs in the living room and tried to see the glitter of the ring. He actually did his homework. It was diamond.
Kiky confirmed it too when she arrived at her sister’s apartment. If Kiky did, then it had to be genuine. She was a genius when it came to these things.
“Please don’t tell mum or dad or anyone yet.” Tony said after Kiky screamed and hugged her and certified the ring okay.
“Why? Is there a problem?” Kiky asked.
“I don’t really know…I mean, I do love him and I like the ring and everything. It’s what I always wanted. I always wanted him to propose. But now I’m just really scared. He’s a good guy and everything but…”
“Man’s not loaded.” Kiky said.
Tony shot her a startled look and both sisters burst out laughing even if Tony knew this wasn’t funny. She didn’t even have the nerve to tell her sister what happened at the restaurant on the night of the proposal.
The timer of the microwave went off and Tony went to get the plate of jollof rice and goat meat that she had heated, courtesy Mama Lewis.
“I think you should follow your heart, sis. He seems to really love you. Money isn’t necessarily everything you know.” Kiky said. She took the TV remote control and changed the channel to ID Xtra.
“It’s not the money, although that’s a huge part of it. I think it’s his perspective to life generally. I don’t know.” Tony said.
“Well, why don’t you weigh your options? Meet new guys and have blast and then make your decision.”
“Kiky, not everyone is wild and free and twenty two years old like you or like Feyisetan.”
Kiky laughed. Feyisetan was Tony’s bestfriend.
“By the way, this Mummy’s friend’s asoebi, what am I going to do? Have you made your dress? And how come I am getting it a week to the event?” Tony asked.
“That’s because your mother suddenly realized that Mr. Toba is back in town and may be looking to settle down soon. She asked the woman for asoebi for you and of course the woman didn’t want to be a run-down mummy so she sent it for free for her daughter.” Kiky said, making air quotes.
Tony shook her head.
“Who’s going to accept this fabric from me and make me slay? I can as well go all out and dress to kill.” She said, admiring the clothing.
“There’s this brand my friend introduced me to. I got a couple of custom made dresses from her and they were so perfect. Remember that movie premier I attended with my friends last month?” Kiky reached for her phone.
“Yea, that silver dress with the pretty details? I love the dress.” Tony said.
“Yes that one! She made it for me. Also got some stylish dresses from her look book too and they fit so well.”
“What’s her name?” Tony asked.
“Maibecca. Check her page on Instagram.”
Tony unlocked her phone and typed in the name.
“Not bad at all. Will you help me talk to her? I mean the notice is short and I bet she’s booked and all. In fact take the fabric to her and I’ll go for measurement. Please.”
Kiky nodded. Her attention was more engrossed in the murder scene showing on TV.
All through the week, Jimi would not give up on calling her. He started by sending numerous text messages while she was in church on Sunday. When she didn’t reply any, he let her be for some time.
Monday, she caught her early morning Air Peace flight to Abuja to attend the meeting with Mrs. Pius. It lasted for about three hours after which they went to lunch together. Mrs Pius barely ate but kept answering phone calls all through.
“Are you sure you don’t need a hotel room? You can rest for today and head back for Lagos tomorrow morning.” Mrs Pius finally said. They were almost through with their meal. Well, Tony was.
Tony looked at her watch.
“My ticket has been booked already Ma, but I appreciate your concern. My flight is in two hours.” She responded.
“Okay. My driver will take you to the airport.” She said.
“Thank you Ma.” Tony smiled.
“So tell me a little more about you. I like your work ethic. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders.”
Tony looked at the woman. She was surprised. Mrs. Pius was always so business business business.
“Thank you very much Ma.” Tony said, searching for the words to describe more about her.
“Um…I am an easy going lady and I really love my job and hope to build a strong career…”
“You know this isn’t a job interview, right?” Mrs. Pius said.
“Okay Ma, maybe I should ask what precisely you’d like to know.”
“Well, do you plan to work with Dealridge forever? Are you getting married soon?”
Tony chose her answers carefully because she knew that there was a risk that Mrs. Pius might spill to her boss. She didn’t trust the woman that much.
“I do love my job and I love my work environment. We will see where it leads. But for now, my focus is on doing my job very well and also getting experience and building relationships.”
Mrs. Pius did not say anything.
“Regarding marriage, not yet Ma.” Tony continued.
She wasn’t wearing the engagement ring. She hadn’t worn it since last Saturday.
“I want this to be between you and me. I need an in-house legal personnel in my company. I want you to consider it very carefully. I don’t even need to have you interviewed. Like I said, this is not a job interview precisely. I know how good you are at your job. It certainly won’t be a pay cut. Your starting salary is an estimate of Five Hundred Thousand Naira monthly subject to good performance and confirmation after which it goes higher.”
Tony was tongue tied. Why was she being thrown between the devil and the deep blue sea? This was so difficult! Of course she wanted the job. But she was also loyal to Mr. Wright. He trusted her. Tinuke had resigned. Sharon would probably leave after NYSC. She couldn’t leave too.
“Think about it properly. You will need to do a lot of travelling though. But you can rest assured it’s on business class seats and choice hotels. You met Mr. Daniel right? He is in Bayelsa and tomorrow he jets off to South Africa to have a meeting with the Minister of Education. He would have needed you with him because it involves a lot of legal work…but unfortunately, we can’t do that because we know you have other clients’ jobs at your company. It’s because of things like this that we want our own in-house counsel. You get an assistant too, a car and twenty five working days paid vacation. Think about it, okay. I know this is all so sudden.”
Mrs. Pius stood up and her Personal Assistant walked towards them and took her hand bag to help her with it as though it was heavy baggage.
Her Uber dropped her home by 4pm. Fortunately, her flight was right on time and she did not experience any of the usual delays at the airport. It felt as though she was on leave, being at home by 4pm. Even during her leave days, she always had to stop by the office to sort out one thing or the other. Being home alone would be boring. She knew the perfect person to call.
In an hour, she had showered and changed into a Shop Beesha crop top on high waist jeans and let her hair down. Kiky had stolen the top from her on many occasions but somehow she found a way to get it back. You know those outfits that you can’t afford for them to leave your closet for life!
She got into her car and drove down to Maison Fahrenheit. Feyisetan was already downing a glass of Mimosa when Tony joined her at the roof top. Feyisetan was a big shot makeup artist for magazine covers and a lot of modeling agencies. She also got high profile briefs to do make up of the crème de la crème of society. She had just returned from Spain where she went to do a bride’s face for her destination wedding. She was one of those people who lived life to the fullest without any fears.
“Hey drunkard.” Tony hugged her bestie who exchanged side kisses and flipped back her bob weave.
“This is how we say hello in Spain.” Feyisetan laughed.
“Yeye girl. Anyway how was your trip? The wedding was on a Sunday. How come you got back a week after?” Tony raised a brow.
“Well, they say a lady shouldn’t kiss and tell.” She responded. “I got you this.” She reached for a gift bag beside her and handed it over. Tony hugged the bag. In it was a perfume bottle.
“This is why I can’t have any other bestie besides you, Feyisetan Ajayi.” Tony smiled. “So please, start kissing and telling. What were you up to?”
Feyisetan rolled her eyes.
“Let’s just say the photographer was French. We hooked up at the wedding reception and after wards; he decided to help me maximize my time in Spain.”
“When did you start speaking French?”
“I’ll have you know that love is beyond languages. But really, he speaks a good dose of English too. And it’s so sexy when he pronounces my name with that accent.” She shrieked.
“I hope this your time in Spain was not more than you are telling me.”
“I had a swell time. And I think I just might consider going to take French classes. We connected.”
“The same way you connected with Layo and Wale and Segun and Nnamdi and Abubakar and…”
“Wos wobi! Spare me!” Feyisetan hissed.
Tony laughed and shook her head. It was so funny how one minute Feyisetan was all posh and accent tongue rolling and the next, she was a proper razz human being.
“So something happened.” Tony started.
Feyisetan looked at her, searching her face for clues when Tony remained silent. Then she brought out the ring box from her purse and showed it to her. Feyisetan gasped and was saying a million things before Tony cut her short.
“I don’t know if I can marry Jimi. I mean, I love him but…I am so confused.” She said. She went on to narrate everything that happened at the restaurant and Feyisetan burst out laughing.
“I always told you I have never been a fan of Jimi.” She said.
“You are not a fan of any man who doesn’t have money.” Tony retorted, sipping her cocktail.
“Well, that’s how my Mama born me. If you no get money, hide your face!” She hummed and laughed. “So, girl, what are you going to do?”
“I love him. He’s the only guy I like really loved. I have waited for him to propose to me but I just don’t want a life of financial drama, you know. But I know him so well and he gets me and we love each other. He has never cheated on me. He’s a great guy.”
“I know. Broke boys don’t cheat because they can’t afford it. But really, I think you should tell him you are leaving him. And that’s because you are a good girl. I’d rather just ignore him and stop answering calls. With time they always get the message.”
“I should just return the ring. I will go to his place and…”
“Aunty, aunty please what did you just say? Return what? This fine ring? Where did he get the money to buy it though? I hope it’s not blood money.”
She looked at the ring again and truly, she agreed with Tony for once. She wondered how he got the money to pay for it.
After a couple of more drinks and finger foods as the girls caught up on their lives, they decided to call it a night at 9pm. One of the guys on the table beside them had been checking Feyisetan out for a while. As the girls stood up, he joined them, introduced himself as a brother to a bride whose face Feyisetan had made up some months ago. Feyisetan did the math and realized he was the son of the CEO of Anglia Oil and Gas Ltd. She kissed Tony good bye and decided to hang out with him.
Just like that.
She turned off the ignition and grabbed her purse then stepped into her apartment. She noticed there was another car in the compound. She had three neighbors and she knew their cars. She went closer and saw that it was his car. He had dozed off in the driver’s seat. She rolled her eyes and sighed then knocked on the glass. He jolted out of his nap and immediately got out of the car.
“Baby.” Jimi said, holding her hand and pulling her closer to him. “You have had me worried sick! You have been avoiding me.”
She pulled her head back, avoiding his kiss.
“You can’t just show up at my house like this.” She said.
“Where were you?” He looked at her outfit. He knew she wasn’t coming from the office.
“I went out.” She said coldly.
He was quiet for a bit.
“You’re not wearing your ring.” He said.
She felt bad but she avoided his eyes.
“I don’t know, okay. I can’t get over how you embarrassed me at that restaurant, Jimi. If you didn’t have the money then why did you take me there?”
“I wanted to do something nice for you. I didn’t know that I was short of funds. Apparently someone I had made payment to had cashed the cheque I gave to him. I didn’t think he would for some time.”
“That’s the problem with you! I am sick and tired of these financial troubles! It’s either you owe someone money and you need me to pay back for you, or you embark on a stupid hustle and expect me to fund it. Jimi, other men provide for their women! You are asking me to marry you and you can’t even foot the proposal dinner bill.” She was livid.
He bit his lip, looking away.
"Baby please calm down." He persuaded.
“Don't tell me to calm down! You know what? I think I need some space. I need some time to clear my head and know what I really want. Give me some time to think about all these. I love you but I can’t take a decision now. So please, just go and let me be. I don’t need you to call me or text me or creep up on me like this.” She said.
“Is there another man in the picture? Babe, you can’t say this after everything we have been through. Six damn years, Tony.”
She put her hands on her head and shut her eyes.
“I need space. I need you to leave now. A little hint…maybe you can prove to me how serious you are about marriage. Good night Jimi.”
She walked away from him towards her door. She wanted to turn back and hold him and hug him and tell him they would work it out, but she couldn’t. She got into her apartment, shut her door and broke down in tears.
*@maibecca *@shopbeesha *@ubernigeria *@maisonfahrenheit *@flyairpeace *@thisisitseries