As Rebecca drove to her date with Gbenga, she couldn’t help but smile. She said a quick prayer for Bolu concerning her dead love life. Bolu was Rebecca’s best friend and partner in crime and business. They were such a perfect fit that that they often joked that if they were lesbians they would be…
As Rebecca drove to her date with Gbenga, she couldn’t help but smile. She said a quick prayer for Bolu concerning her dead love life. Bolu was Rebecca’s best friend and partner in crime and business. They were such a perfect fit that that they often joked that if they were lesbians they would be married. Now, they were co-founders of a growing consulting business. She hoped Bolu would meet a wonderful guy like Gbenga soon and then they would have even more than their friendship and business in common.
Having arrived at her destination, she looked in the mirror before getting out of her car. Her make-up was impeccable. Her hair was neatly tied back, with a few strands falling by the side of her face just the way Gbenga liked it. She was ready.
She walked into the lobby of the hotel, hoping to have some time to powder her face and reassess her looks one last time but Gbenga was already waiting, early as usual. She walked up to him beaming and he smiled as his eyes ravaged her body.
“You look so hot.”
Rebecca replied with an excited thank you. They immediately proceeded to the poolside for dinner and Rebecca went on to tell Gbenga all about her day while trying to hide the excitement in her voice. Even though she’d had nothing to eat all day because of how nervous she felt, she wasn’t hungry.
Gbenga, on the other hand, was as calm as ever. He nodded as he laughed at her jokes and said a few of his. She had often thought about how she would like to get proposed to but never thought she’d be this excited. When the food was ready, she ate slowly in case the ring happened to be embedded in the meal.
After eating the starter and main dish, there was still no ring. Rebecca became more nervous with each passing second. Gbenga didn’t notice a thing. He reached for her hand, stroking it playfully and running his index finger over her ring finger. She wondered if he was doing it intentionally.
“Would you like some dessert?”
Staring at Gbenga, trying to read his features, Rebecca nodded affirmatively even though she was full and about to burst. They picked the vanilla and chocolate fudge. Gbenga told her about his day while they waited for their order to arrive.
“By the way, babe, I just remembered I might have someone for that partner position of yours. Remember Nnamdi? I worked with him when I was still with GTbank. I think he might be interested. I’ll forward his details to you.”
Rebecca thanked Gbenga for the suggestion while resisting the urge to blurt out “Why don’t you want to marry me?” in frustration. The dessert came and they shared it. There was no circular metal in it. There were no excited waiters hovering around to bring in any more surprise meals or take pictures of her and her invisible ring. This was it. Gbenga wasn’t going to propose.
Rebecca left the hotel in a daze. Gbenga was in a daze too, but for a different reason. As they walked towards the car park, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. His hand slid from her waist and rested on her buttocks. They kissed passionately by her car as he cooed in her ear.
“God, you are so beautiful. I can’t believe you are mine.” His eyes flashed with a familiar light and he added: “Soon, I will be privileged to wake up next to you every morning!”
Then, a glimmer of hope fluttered across Rebecca’s heart. This had to be a hint.
“Would you like to come over to my place for coffee?”
Rebecca hated coffee. She hated its bitter taste and its strong scent; its addictive nature and the false energy it gave when she drank it. Still, she nodded a yes to his question. He had to be up to something.
Gbenga and Rebecca spent the night at his place tasting many things – none of which was coffee. She woke up to him the following morning, as the effect of the previous night’s ecstasy waned and it dawned on her. Still, no ring.
Why would he want to propose to me when I am always at his beck and call? Anytime he wants me, I’m here. I mean, I cook and even do his laundry; he really has no need to marry me.
The object of Rebecca’s thoughts stirred from his peaceful sleep and lazily kissed her.
“What’s for breakfast, honey?”
She wanted to strangle him, to slap him into reality, but she didn’t. Instead, she gave him the most passionate kiss she could muster and momentarily forgot why her chest felt so heavy. Why she felt like such a waste.
Bolu was waiting for her at work when she arrived. She grabbed her right hand and looked disappointingly at her.
“But we were so sure! He told you to dress up in your hottest clothes and get your nails done. He even paid for the expensive spa and told you how much he loved you and wanted to spend the rest of his life with you!”
For a moment, Rebecca wondered if Bolu was sadder than she was. That sadness quickly vanished. In its place was anger.
“Becky, this is the third time he’s teasing you like this! It has to stop! I think you should give him a piece of your mind!”
“Bolu, Gbenga has never told me he wants to marry me. I’m the one that’s always reading meaning to his words. He never said he was going to propose. It’s ok, I’m fine. Yesterday wasn’t so bad.”
“Let me guess, you slept at his place?” Bolu sneered
Rebecca knew Bolu didn’t mean to be judgmental, but she had that look of disgust in her eyes. She wondered if her best friend was disgusted with her, or with Gbenga. She wondered if it mattered. She changed the subject as fast as she could.
“Something good came out of my unproductive date sha. I got a new prospective partner. I googled him and he checks out.”
Bolu was mad at her so she didn’t probe; instead she nodded and asked Rebecca to set up a meeting.
The first thing Rebecca noticed about Nnamdi was that he was fine. He had caramel skin and almond eyes. He had just the right height and just the right build. He had just the right everything. Rebecca didn’t usually ‘scope’ men, but she was so sad and even angry that letting herself admire another man was her own small way of getting revenge. She wondered if she should just talk to Gbenga, but how could she? The last time she tried, he accused her of not trusting him enough.
“Don’t I show you how much I love you every day? How is a ring going to change anything?”, he had said. She had nodded and apologized then, promising herself to never bring it up again. He had then moved closer to her and whispered while cupping her buttocks: “Soon, baby. Soon.” She had let herself believe him.
Now, Nnamdi was talking about his strategy for improving customer satisfaction and reduce working hours. He seemed to know what he was doing. Rebecca wondered why he would want to come and work with her firm when he could probably start up his own place. He seemed to read her mind and answered her question immediately.
“Actually, I didn’t come here for an interview. I came here with a proposition. I’d like to partner with your company. You have the clients and I have the expertise and connections. We could work together to build something bigger and more sustainable.”
Bolu wasn’t impressed. From the look on her face, Rebecca knew the four words running through her friend’s mind: wolf in sheep’s clothing. She didn’t know what to think. This company meant everything to her, especially now that she was panicking at the possibility that she would be alone for the rest of her life. She wondered what to do next.
After several weeks of debating and weighing the pros and cons, Bolu and Rebecca agreed to Nnamdi’s terms.
It didn’t happen immediately, but Bolu grew to like Nnamdi. He was quite charming and very good at his job. For Rebecca, it was a little bit more than that. With Nnamdi around, work became a little more exciting. Rebecca began to realise she wanted to look better and work even harder.
Gbenga finally began to notice when she started going to the gym and stopped offering to cook for him and do his laundry. Rebecca told him work was demanding.
“I thought that was why you hired Nnamdi?”
She didn’t reply. She couldn’t explain what was happening.
One afternoon, she was having lunch with Bolu, who caught her off guard.
“I hope you know what you are doing.”
She pretended not to know what Bolu meant.
“I’ve ordered the mocktail before”, Rebecca responded breezily.
Bolu wasn’t having it.
“I’m serious, Becky.”
Rebecca knew she couldn’t avoid it anymore, so she confided in her friend.
“I don’t really know what I’m doing, but it makes me forget about everything.”
Bolu looks unsure, but speaks up albeit tentatively.
“Gbenga is an asshole, I know, but still, don’t let him win by becoming a bigger one than he is.”She squeezed Rebecca’s hand. Rebecca nodded and took a fork full of food just to avoid giving a reply.
Weeks turned into months and Rebecca’s heart slowly opened up again. She knew it was wrong but had fallen in love with Nnamdi. She also knew that Gbenga had noticed something had changed.
Things nearly came to a head when Gbenga decided to show up at her office without prior notice. He met her on her way out with Nnamdi, and she lied that they were both meeting Bolu at a restaurant close by. She quickly texted Bolu, who covered for her.
That afternoon was a surreal experience for Rebecca. She watched Nnamdi talk excitedly about work, his foot resting and occasionally sliding against hers under the table while Gbenga kept his hand on her thigh, moving it in different directions. It took everything she had within her to keep a straight face.
One day, after their usual rendezvous at a hotel near work, Nnamdi said something shocking.
“What are we doing, Rebecca? You know I love you. I want to be with only you for the rest of my life.” Ever since Nnamdi made the statement, she couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t look Gbenga in the eye.
It was as if Gbenga knew what was coming, because he decided they should go on a romantic getaway. He made all the preparations and said all the usual things. They travelled to Obudu cattle ranch and had a quiet romantic weekend. She reminded herself not to fall into old patterns of expecting something that would never come, and she didn’t.
On the last day of their break, Gbenga said he had something to say. Before he started, she blurted out the truth. She told him she didn’t love him anymore and wanted to end the relationship. He begged her to reconsider, but she remained adamant.
An elated Rebecca returned to Lagos. She quickly called Nnamdi to tell him the good news; he could finally propose! He didn’t sound as excited as she’d expected, but she let it pass. She returned to work to find a different Nnamdi. They still met up from time to time, but it wasn’t the same. He started to flirt with junior colleagues and clients, and it infuriated her. Didn’t he remember his promise to marry her?
Bolu saw how conflicted and heartbroken Rebecca was and tried to intervene, but every time she broached the subject, Rebecca would insist she was okay. One weekend, Rebecca drove to Gbenga’s house to collect some of the things she had left there. He packed some in a neat pile and put others in a box. They smiled politely at each other as she moved them into the car. Just as she was about to pick up the last few items, she spotted a tiny jewellery box on the table. She’d seen that same box on their last trip but had ignored it. She thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a look before Gbenga returned from her car, where he had gone to help put some of her things away.
She nearly wept when she saw the pear shaped emerald ring. He’d picked her favourite colour.
“I was going to propose.”
Rebecca looked up to find Gbenga leaning against the door.
Too shocked to speak, she turned to look at the tiny jewellery box one last time before leaving.
Nnamdi and I need to talk.