The Men She Loved (6)

It was her cousin’s wedding reception and she was placed on one of the 50 tables, seated amongst strangers. Her mind wandered until the girl beside her squealed.

“He is here!”

The speaker wasn’t talking to her so she turned back to facing nothing in the distance, still she could not help but overhear.

“Who is?”

“That Dayo guy. I heard he has been to prison, but men is he hot!”

Lola felt like her heart was going to explode out of her chest. She craned her neck and scanned the crowds but she could not see his frame from where she sat.

“Ah! What did he do?”

“It was probably 419. That’s what all these boys do when they go to jand.”

“Which one is he?”

“Are you blind? He is the finest guy here! That yellow paw paw one.”

Lola discreetly followed the finger, which the speaker pointed to direct her friend and she saw him. Her heart tripled it’s pace. For a moment, she felt dizzy. She wished for the fifth time that day that Temi had not been too busy to accompany her. She stood up abruptly.

“Hey!”

The seats were so close together that she had shoved the seat of the person beside her as she stood. She gave her best apologetic smile, “I’m sorry.”

She had done her dutiful two hours at the venue and she could leave with a guilt free conscience. But she didn’t move from her spot. As though she were rooted there, she found herself watching him. A woman was hanging from his arm, but it was not Janet. This girl had the supple ebony skin and was altogether more rounded. She looked up at Dayo constantly and smiled. Lola felt her heart clench. She knew that smile. The new girl was in love. But did Dayo love her back?

They sat down on a table not too far from her own and she walked over to them, ignoring the screaming voices in her head.

“Hello Dayo.”

Dayo and the girl looked up in one synchronized movement. She wanted to tell the girl that she had only called Dayo’s name but held her tongue. She recognized this feeling. She hadn’t felt jealous in years. Dayo smiled into her eyes, as though he were reading her mind, as though he knew.

“Lola. Blue is definitely your colour. What do you think Bunmi?”

“Yes. You look beautiful.”

Lola was struck by the sincerity in the new girl’s eyes. Up close she realized how pretty she was. How face was rounded and without distortion of any kind. Her eyes were large and dark, her lashes long and her lips were wide, as though they had been created purely for laughing. She wore a soft pink A line dress and had accessorized with simple gold jewelry.

Lola herself had gone for a blue and grey patterned silk Iro and buba and worn only silver tear drop earrings.

“Thank you.”

“Where are my manners? Bunmi this is Lola, we used to go to school together. Lola this is Bunmi, the love of my life.”

Bunmi’s eyes twinkled. But Dayo was looking into Lola’s eyes and she read a challenge in them. She dragged her eyes away from his. What had she been thinking coming to meet him? Dayo was dangerous, he always had been, he always would be. She just hoped Bunmi realized before it was too late.

“It was nice meeting you Bunmi. Dayo.”

“I’ll walk you out,” was Dayo’s response. She wanted to refuse but he was already standing up. So together, they wove their way through the stressed waiters, flustered ushers and hungry guests until they found an exit.

“You really didn’t have to see me out.”

“I meant what I said, you look like a Nubian queen.”

She said nothing, dropping her head so she wouldn’t have to look at him. They walked in silence to her car.

“I heard you were seeing someone. Why didn’t he accompany you?”

“He had work to attend to.”

“On a Saturday?” His tone was incredulous. He was assuming that her new man was cheating on her, like he had.

“Not everyone is like you!” She blurted.

“Well I haven’t had much occasion to work on a Saturday in the past few years,” he replied quietly. She hated herself for rising to his bait and she turned away from him. “Don’t. Don’t fight me. I’ll come see you tomorrow, if you’ll let me.”

“That’s not a good idea.”

“It’s the least you owe me love.”

She didn’t owe him anything. Somewhere she knew that, but since when had reason and Dayo ever gone together?

“Ok.” she replied.

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