The Men She Loved (11)

She stared at her phone vibrating and was tempted to ignore it. She wanted to stay in bed and avoid the steps she would have to take today. But life had to go on, she had work, she had her puppies to feed and according to her phone, she had her brother’s birthday to attend.

She sat up abruptly. She had completely forgotten about his birthday which was uncharacteristic of her, but then Dayo’s presence in her life had been a wonderful frightening distraction.

First things first, she would attend to the needs of her dogs, then go over to Lanre’s to apologize before heading to work. The time now was 7am. She grabbed the big tee hanging on her chair and pulled it over her head. Satisfied she looked fairly decent, she jogged to the kitchen and grabbed the puppy food from the store. Rumble and Tumble had keyed in to what was going on and were wagging their tails and barking at her in their excitement. She gave the two of them a quick brush of their coats and then laid out their food and water for them.

Often Lanre took them for walks but today she decided she would come home early to take them herself. It was best she maintained a little distance from Lanre. Things were complicated enough as it was.

She left the pups to their devices and took herself upstairs for a quick shower. Usually she laid out what she would wear the night before but there had been nothing usual about the last few nights. She chose a pair of black slacks and a silk cream top, she would change to her sportswear at the centre.

Lanre was washing his car. She watched him for a moment dipping the jumbo sponge into the bucket and then swirling the soap and water on his precious vehicle. He seemed more tense than he usually was. His movements were stiff and awkward as though his body was in pain. He had shaved his head again recently. He liked being bald but the stubble around his lip and chin grew unfettered. He pushed his glasses further up his nose as she strolled up to him.

“Good morning.”

He mumbled a greeting in return but he didn’t turn and he didn’t smile. She sighed.

“I’m sorry I ran in to my house like that yesterday. It was rude. Forgive me?”

He didn’t respond. Instead he continued the circular motions on his car. She bit her lip nervously. He was overreacting but he was a wonderful friend and she had already lost Ada. She didn’t want to lose another person in her life.

“Please talk to me.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because…well…we are friends.”

“What in God’s name gave you the impression that I wanted to be friends?”

She opened her mouth and shut it again.

“Lola,” he continued, “I bought you Valentine’s day gifts, walked your dogs when you were busy, I even invite you for all my family events. Why on earth would you assume my aim was to plait your hair and engage in pillow fights? And on top of it all you choose that criminal over me!”

She immediately regretted having told him that Dayo had been incarcerated. At the time she was eager to put Dayo behind her, but her indiscretion was now being thrown in her face.

“You walk around like you’re some victim but you are cheating on your boyfriend; and don’t deny it because I saw that dude coming out of your house with a big grin on his face.”

This was getting out of control. She tried to stall the onslaught of his words with her hand, to no avail.

“You women are such hypocrites! You say you want a good man, then shack up with the first criminal that comes along!”

Lola slapped him before she knew that a slap had been what her hands were itching to do. She regretted her action when she observed tear drops swimming in his eyes and she knew it wasn’t as a result of the physical impact.

“Lanre, I…” He wasn’t listening. He had lifted his bucket and was heading towards his front door. He didn’t give her a backward glance.

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