Hi, the next part drops today. That one is dedicated to everyone reading. Especially to the people that commented here when the series started and the ones that messaged me to ask for three posts a week (sorry, not gonna happen, lol). The passion is there, if only time and energy came with it. Tbone, Shughar, Des, Ai, Deeh, Kkkkk, Thegracedmisfit, Ihunanya, Amina, Gift and Nai. You are all awesome. Thank you. Shout out to Chinny, Ifedami, Auxano, Fsf, Mosespraise, Beezy fun Oluwa, Doughyeen and namesake Sarahaos for topping the comments list in 2015 alongside most of the people above.
//THAT THING MEN AND WOMEN DO//
Bayo was kissing Kanyin when his hands started sliding under her blouse. If she had put a bet on his next move, she would have won. It always started like a small innocent kiss. The sort you would expect between friends that liked each other but were not yet ready to spell things out. And then he would put his tongue to action like a dog that hadn’t tasted water for years.
If only those randy hands didn’t always yearn for more.
“Shortee, seriously?” Bayo frowned. “Is it the Mary in you I’m gonna get every time we hang out.”
She resisted the urge to chuckle. Despite his irritation, his hands were still under her top. His face didn’t look half-bad for someone frowning. She had always gone on about his luck with his physical features, telling him most women would be glad to have a face like his. It wasn’t just his skin – the colour of the flesh of ripe mangoes – that made him stand out, his narrow nose and slight lips fitted his face perfectly.
She crossed her legs, putting a few inches between their bodies on the sofa. His face fell and his hands dropped to his sides.
“When are you going to be ready then?” His tone came out stifled. “This is why I don’t date girls. They want to be treated like babies. I’m a big guy and you know I’m serious, Kanyin. You know I love you. And you know you are the first girl to capture my heart. Shortee, why are you doing me like this?”
His whining had started after their third date five months ago. At first, his voice carried on softly. These days, it would start with the impatience of a bark, increasing in strength with each yap.
Kanyin told him at the start it would take her a while to be ready. She thought he understood, until that Friday afternoon he volunteered to give her a massage in his studio flat. He could barely move when he walked her to the door. The way he carried himself, picking up each leg as if it weighed same as his body, anyone would have thought the thing between his legs would turn into a snake and bite him if he didn’t consummate their relationship soon. So far, persuasions and temptations had been handled with strict discipline, including the cold December night he called to say the harsh, chilly air would kill him if she didn’t come over. Her harsh ‘no’ didn’t kill him. Neither did the cold night.
“When are we going to take this relationship to the next level then?” One of his hands had wandered down to her legs.
She shoved the hand away. “Is this all you want from me? If it is, I suggest we end this now.”
“Chillax. Not my fault what I feel for you drives me nuts sometimes.”
“Please joor, love is not all about jigijigi.”
“But jigijigi makes it stronger.” Bayo sat up straight. “Shortee, I wish you would trust me. I know some men… even some of my pals are players but I will never do you like that. I would never treat you like a ho. I don’t even know why you are so scared of men when you are a small girl with no experience.” He picked up his phone from the table and started going through it.
He was right; her dating past was not as colourful as that of many girls her age. But having heard enough of what her father put women through, she decided a long time ago not to be any man’s pawn. She wouldn’t be one of many in someone’s life.
Although her father had become the archetypal family man, shunning social outings in favour of date nights with Anu and attending children’s parties with Jadesola, the horror stories Grandma told her about girls who let men ruin them would always stay with her. Stories about girls who let the lies from men’s mouths control them. Grandma insisted the girls were to blame. Her own daughter sat for her final school exams with the swell of pregnancy showing through her uniform. And although Kanyin’s mother moved on from the shame she brought home, finished her education and married a lawyer, Grandma never truly recovered. She started to drum stronger warnings about men in Kanyin’s ears when everything fell in place for her to join her father in the UK, two years ago.
She couldn’t argue with her grandmother’s points. She had met women who, upon seeing her father, would do nothing to hide the bright glow on their face and the fluttering of their eyelashes. He always wore his wedding ring and so the blame could not be on him but on those women.
“I have to finish off my essay,” Bayo announced. His eyes were on the Toshiba TV screen now, one of the many expensive appliances in his flat. His house left her surprised the first time she visited with Nkem, her friend and course-mate. Nkem said Bayo disgraced money with the set up. Kanyin just wanted to ask him how he could afford all these things.
“Well, Austin is waiting for me.” She fished out her phone from her bag, hoping that he wouldn’t explode again.
“It is that kind of decision that makes me go mad with you, Shortee. How you gonna leave me here go joy riding with another man?” His lower lip dropped in a sulking pout.
“Here we go again. You know Austin is my father’s personal assistant. We live in the same house and the only reason he is giving me a lift home is because my father insists.”
“You better don’t let that geek, that Johnny Just Come touch you.”
She was angry now. “Austin moved here three years ago. I only arrived two years ago. Obviously, you think I am a JJC too.”
His condescending, the way he walked past the university’s canteens to spend triple the money at Tastiest Chicken and Nandos, the way he snubbed impressionable year one students wanting to be his pals, had all been the things that made her notice him at first. The things that now infuriated her.
“No, bae.” Bayo smiled as she got up and started to get ready to go. He rose too, towering above her. At six foot tall, he was only three inches taller than her. Yet, he had a way of carrying himself that made him seem bigger. Stronger.
“Chill, I didn’t mean you. But it is hard watching my girl live with a fully grown man that is not related to her.”
He pulled her to his body and kissed her with so much aggression. She whimpered as his tongue forced its way in her mouth. His hands grabbed at her, touching her until her hands succeeded in pulling his hands away from her body. She stepped away from him and smoothed down her skirt, realising as she did so that she’d chosen the wrong skirt this morning. It clung tightly to her legs. Perhaps this was why Austin stared at her this morning when she joined him in the car.
“I have to go.” She tapped his chest and led the way. It would be mean to stay any longer. Dangerous too. He had licked his lips as she bent down to retrieve her bag.
Her father was on the sofa with Anu when they arrived. They were watching one of her Victorian documentaries on the TV. Anu had her body on his and his hands were holding her close. Kanyin regretted staying out so late. She had heard him say he would be at work ‘til very late’ this morning. Blaming roadworks and traffic in Manchester wouldn’t cut it this time.
“Where are you two coming from?” He growled, stopping them in their track.
“Sorry, sir.” Austin darted his eyes in her direction. “My presentation group had a meeting at the library after lectures. Kanyin had to wait for me.”
“And what did she do whilst waiting for you?” Her father asked, searching her with his eyes like he could read her mind.
“I studied in the library, Daddy.”
She was glad when his face relaxed a bit. Their relationship didn’t start off this way. He didn’t step into the protective fatherly role until a year ago. The first year, he had been more like an older friend than a parent. Making up for the years he was absent in her life by being soft with her.
“Okay, Kanyinsola Iretioluwa. I have heard you.” His face had a friendly grin on it now. “One of you should come back down and lock up later. I’m taking my wife upstairs soon.”
“Too much information, Daddy.” she pouted.
“Ignore him Kanyin,” Anu smacked her father’s hand playfully. She giggled when he narrowed his eyes at her and ran a hand down the spot she had smacked. Their eyes locked, the way it usually did. It used to annoy her when she first moved in. Her father would be having a discussion with her whilst communicating things she didn’t know about with his wife by using his eyes. It annoyed her too that they were always together so that you couldn’t get one without the other.
She turned to Austin. “I think we should go upstairs. I have heard and seen enough. I don’t want to end up needing therapy for the rest of my life.”
“Sorry,” Anu curved her neck in their direction. “There is chicken and jolof rice in the kitchen. I made cupcakes earlier too.”
“Thanks step-mum.” She planted a big beam on her face for Anu. This always came in handy for when she needed extra money from her father.
“Sweet. Thanks.” Austin rubbed his hands together. “I can’t wait to tear apart that chicken.”
They made their way upstairs. She would go into her sister’s room to check on her before going to hers to get changed. Leaving the girl’s parents with the job would be like trusting two loved-up hormonal teenagers with a job.
One of her father’s friends, Ikumapayi teased him once about his mad feelings for his wife. This was after he and Anu forgot their then four months old daughter at Emeka’s house. Perhaps the situation would have been easily forgotten if Emeka and his girlfriend hadn’t had to call the lovebirds to remind them of what they left behind.
“You have that look, Aisha.” Idriss’ hand travelled down her back and lingered when it got lower. “You want something, don’t you?”
Calling her Aisha – her father’s favourite name for her – didn’t help. She couldn’t help but wonder what her father would think of the new woman she had become. A woman who now spent more time churning out new recipes for her family than she spent at work.
“I want to go back to work full-time. I miss it.”
He reached for the remote control but didn’t use it, placing it instead on the sofa next to their bodies.
“Now that Jadesola has a nanny that she really likes, I think I am ready.”
“I disagree.” He traced a finger down the side of her neck to her collarbone, further down until her dressing gown stopped him. “Jadesola still needs you. I need you. I love coming home to find you pining for me.”
He chuckled. As her head was on his chest, she heard what the chuckle was. A fake, forced chuckle. A tool to prepare her for his reasoning.
“Baby, you work two days a week. The other days you spend at home are not merely spent on running the house, you support me in taking our company places. Who was it that woke up at dawn this morning to start writing our annual business plan, wasn’t it you? Abi, is it not you that runs our online shop meticulously. So, what do you mean you want to go back to work? You didn’t exactly stop working.”
The death of her mother three years ago took its toll on her but it was finding her father dead in his bed last year that finished her. It wrecked her. Turned her into a woman that she didn’t recognise. A quivering wreck that broke down moments before her Women Business Managers Cheshire presentation.
They told her he was sixty-eight. That he had lived a rich life. They reminded her that he loved her. That he had been at his happiest, having seen his daughter marry and become one of the best in the housing business.
It took all of her willpower not to shout at those people. Sixty-eight might have been a good age for other men to go. It wasn’t for her father.
She would drink several cups of coffee to prepare her for work and still struggle to go in. Everything in their Ribble Greaves agency base reminded her of her father. Idriss had to start managing the agency himself whilst Kaz transferred to Manchester to oversee their new branch.
“I miss being busy,” she said. “I have too much free time.”
“So, you want to go back to running two branches, coming home so tired that you can barely look after Jadesola and me? You were doing three people’s jobs, Aisha. The minute you took time off, I realised that.” He kissed her forehead. “I don’t want you to go through that again. We have money. Even, if we didn’t have it, I wouldn’t be comfortable seeing you like that. I’m supposed to be the provider.”
“You are my wife. Now I know what you do, I don’t want you having that much responsibility again.” He lowered his voice. “We are trying for another baby. Jadesola is a toddler, she needs her mummy. Kanyinsola needs you too. I told you about that stupid boy that dropped her off last Friday. He is the same boy that came to the agency for a job. The one I told you insulted me when I said he didn’t get the job.”
“She is a university student. You can’t protect her forever.”
“When she is married and she has left my house, she can do whatever she wants. For now, I wouldn’t mind if it is someone like Austin that is staring at her. As long as all they are doing is staring at each other.”
Anu laughed. “Women and girls don’t usually go for serious types like Austin.”
“Why not? He is a good-looking boy. Very ambitious.”
“I married you, Idriss. Enough said.”
“Please talk to her. I’m worried and I don’t want to come down hard on her.” He started to touch her when she said okay, spinning her round so that he could have better access to her body. “Let’s go upstairs, you need to give me something sweet.”
She sighed as he helped her up. He was leading her towards the stairs when she sighed again.
He halted and faced her. “I didn’t say no, Aisha. I said give it time. Perhaps wait until Kate comes back from maternity leave. You and Kate were always good together at our main Aspire base.”
He tilted her chin forward and kissed her. She welcomed his lips. He was right. It wouldn’t be the same without Kate, her hardworking receptionist. Idriss had complained once or twice about the temp covering for the girl.
“Do I get something sweet now?” He asked, undoing his tie.
“You know you deserve it.”
Kanyin looked up and saw Austin staring at her and Jadesola. The girls were in their pyjamas, curled together on the sofa. With their slightness, long legs and dark caramel hue, they appeared more like full sisters to anyone that didn’t know them. A woman at Anu’s church mistook them for daughter and mother once.
“Hey Austin. Wassup?”
“I’m off to work.” Austin lingered on his spot, in the doorway.
Austin was dressed in a black tuxedo, cradling a new laptop. Although he was slightly shorter than Bayo and not as fair, Austin always looked presentable. Long, dark lashes and trim brows on an eye-catching face. Nkem loved drooling over him. She helped her conclude he was good-looking. Kanyin had never had the inclination to look at him like that.
He usually left for work with her father and she guessed he was in a hurry to catch up with him. But instead of rushing through the door, he stood there staring at them.
“What’s wrong, Austin?” She pulled up the blanket at her feet and covered Jadesola’s lower half with it. Her sister had nuzzled closer to her, something she did whenever she felt cold. The girl settled her head in the comfort of Kanyin’s chest and arm.
“Don’t be angry but… em …” Austin scratched his chin in the way he was wont to do every time something worried him. “I think you should be careful with Bayo. The guys at the university are saying stuff about him.”
“That he is a player! That he is not nice! Whatever. I have heard it all before.”
“Be careful. Please Kanyin.”
“Okay, Austin. I hear you.”
He headed for the door.
Anu was a few minutes away from home when she spotted someone that looked so much like Kate pushing a double-buggy down the road. She had gone for a jog around their neighbourhood to ease her restlessness.
She started to run after the girl when shouting her name failed to stop her. She seemed to have increased her pace, guiding the big buggy onto the pavement. As she ran, Anu realised that the unreturned calls she had made to the girl had been missed on purpose.
Anu wasn’t one of those jolly bosses who cracked jokes with their employees. She loved getting the job done. Whilst Kate and her worked together though, they enjoyed a good working relationship. This was why it surprised her that the many calls she made to the younger woman’s phone, so she could see her twins, went unanswered. Anu wanted to help the new mother, the same way experienced mothers rallied round her when a prematurely-born Jadesola spent months in the hospital as a baby.
Kate paused. A woman with a stroller and a restless dog had blocked her path. Anu increased her speed, slightly. She couldn’t speak when she eventually reached her.
“I’m in a rush,” Kate snapped, trying to push past the woman with the stroller.
Anu noticed the girl’s unkempt hair. How her dark roots showed through her usually lustrous blonde hair. Her face, which had always looked youthful, was anything but today. Brownish blemishes looped her eyes and red freckles sat around her cheeks.
“Are you okay Katy? How are the babies?” She tried to catch a glimpse of her children but the road was now clear and Kate had started speeding down the pavement again. She hurried after her, one hand over her stomach. “Wait, Kate. Can I see the boys?”
Kate stopped, although it was clear by the way her hands gripped the handlebar that they wouldn’t be sitting down for coffee and a chat anytime soon.
“I understand, Katy. Motherhood is no beans.” She started, searching for the right way to put it. The girl, at twenty, had recently become a mother to two babies at once. Any young adult would struggle to cope with this. But for someone who struggled with day-to-day issues that most people would find trivial, she guessed the girl was exhausted. “Let’s go to mine to talk.”
“I’m sorry,” her voice trembled. One of her babies had started crying but it didn’t seem as if she had heard the tot’s cry.
Anu shifted towards the pram. The baby stopped crying when his alert eyes spotted her. She reached for his cheek and stroked it.
The boy had the same tanned colour and short, black curls on his head like his twin brother. She turned her eyes back on their mother with a question in her eyes, the only man she had seen with her was white. A pale-skinned lad who visited her at work in his mechanic’s overalls. She didn’t expect the babies to be mixed race.
“I’m sorry,” Kate repeated. “I slept with him once. Just once. I never meant to do this to your marriage. Please forgive me.”
“You and Kate are friends?” Anu was looking out through the window. At first glance she bore the picture of a wife waiting for her husband. Kanyin knew her well enough to know she wasn’t as composed as she looked.
“Did she sleep with your father? Did you find out? Is that why you and Kate no longer hang out?”
“He wouldn’t do that to you. No way.” Kanyin said. “And you know I wouldn’t support him to do that to you.”
She glanced at her sister where she was in a corner of the room watching Peppa Pig on her IPad. Her head was struggling to cope. She had called her father a few minutes back. After Anu told her what Kate said. At first, she had narrowed her eyes at her stepmother and maintained that the girl’s claims were ridiculous. Until, she remembered seeing her father’s hand on Kate’s waist last year. They were all at Emeka’s house for a barbecue and when she saw them, they were alone and leaning towards each other. She would have assumed it was all innocent if they hadn’t both started trying to engage her in a conversation whilst at the same time telling her what they were doing in the kitchen. He had claimed to be in search of the Ketchup bottle. She, the kitchen roll. And then, Kate started making excuses every time they were supposed to meet up. When she announced her pregnancy, the excuses had stopped coming and they had drifted apart.
She walked over to Anu by the window where she was standing with folded arms. “Why don’t you go upstairs and get changed.”
“I want to see my husband…” She turned away as if there was more to say but her mouth wouldn’t voice them. Or perhaps it was because it was Kanyin with her, after all her father was the one that had caused all this heartache and worry.
“He wouldn’t do this to you, I promise. He loves you too much.”
Her father had his faults, his open body language with women and the way he always seemed to be giving them more than the attention required. She had seen the way his female employees like Kaz flirted with him but had assumed that his heart belonged to only one woman.
Anu started heading towards the kitchen.
“Is it coffee you want? Let me make it.”
“No offence. I want to be by myself.”
Moments later, she heard the woman sobbing. She could hear the kettle boiling and rattling of dishes and cutleries but her sobs came through too. The type of painful, heart wrenching sobs that she heard from her Grandma’s room after her grandfather slumped two years ago. To occupy her hands, she picked up Jadesola from the floor and held her close. They were still like this when she heard the door and her father rushed in with the gait of someone whose wife had gone in labour unannounced. Austin followed soon after.
“Where is she?” Her father asked without meeting her eyes.
“Daddy, did you?”
“Where is she Kanyin?”
She pointed to the kitchen door.
Anu wiped her eyes when she heard his voice. She busied herself with getting her carton of skimmed milk out of the fridge, so that when he came in the first thing he saw was her back.
Placing the milk on the kitchen table, she met him halfway. They embraced, gripping each other, tightly. He murmured something. She was crying again. He cupped her face and wiped her tears.
“I knew you didn’t do it.” Anu wanted to scream at herself. Why couldn’t she stop crying?
He had wrapped his arms around her again so that she couldn’t see his face. His body felt warm. Her JD Sports top and training pants were still damp from her run earlier. Being this close to him felt good but what she wanted was to look into his eyes. She knew him. She would be able to tell.
“You didn’t do it, did you?”
“Something must have happened.” She pulled away from him.
“Nothing happened.” He said with a casual shrug. Reaching for the carton of milk on the table, he grabbed it and took his time returning it to the fridge. Then he turned his attention to the cereal bowls in the sink – his daughters’ used bowls which still had bits of cornflakes left in them.
“You slept with her, didn’t you?” He didn’t answer her. He didn’t need to. His hands had paused around one of the bowls. Anu could feel her legs going from underneath her. The dining chair she was leaning on groaned.
Idriss dropped the bowl and rushed to her. “I don’t know what came over me.”
“No! Please, no.”
“It happened once.”
“No. Please don’t do this to me. Take it back.”
The next part will be posted shortly. Thanks.