By Akpan-Nya, Alexandra Emem
“Is something wrong?” Michael asked, a worried tone in his voice as he leaned forward and took the dripping glass of juice from Susan. He dropped the glass gingerly and wiped his hand clean on a handkerchief, dark eyes watching her.
“Nothing.” Susan said, looking away. She didn’t want him to see the disappointment in her eyes. “Nothing’s wrong. Sorry I was clumsy…”
“Mummy! See what you did!” Cherish interrupted, holding up the sheet of paper she had been writing on. A few orange drops were still seeping into the white sheet. She placed her hands on her waist and shook her head at her mother in rebuke.
Susan began to smile, struck by how much Cherish looked like a small disapproving version of her but the smile disappeared when Michael laughed as well. His deep laugh sent tremors of awareness through her body, and she stood up abruptly.
“I’m sorry, Cherish.” Susan said. “I’ll get you another sheet of paper.”
“That’s okay, mummy.” Cherish mumbled, examining the stains. “I can write on this side…”
But Susan was already on her way to her bedroom, not stopping to look back. She had only needed an excuse to get away from Michael and his magnetism. There was no way she would continue a flirty conversation with a person that was possibly a married man.
She avoided him till the lesson was over, aware he would notice the difference in her attitude but not really caring. She half-hoped he would ask- she was itching to give him an impassioned lecture about the sanctity of marriage vows. But he didn’t; after a few more rebuffed attempts to resume the thread of their conversation, he stopped trying, and simply told her a curt goodbye when he was leaving, his car zooming off with an uncharacteristic shriek
Susan spent a tortured night going over their conversation. Michael was witty and brilliant, and they had not shared an awkward moment from the moment she started the chat. She bit her lip and tossed in bed. Brilliant. Drop dead gorgeous. And he just had to be unavailable. Why were all the good ones taken? Doubts nudged her mind. What if she had been too hasty? He could very well be divorced or separated. Regret filled her. She should just have simply asked.
By the time she woke up from a fitful sleep, she had convinced herself that the paler band of skin around his finger had been too fresh, the indentation of the ring too deep. Unless he had gotten divorced just the morning before, she couldn’t just dismiss her concerns. The thoughts affected her mood and she had to keep herself from snapping at Cherish when the little girl took too long to get to the car after her breakfast.
She dropped her daughter off at school and drove quickly but carefully towards her office, annoyed that she seemed to be meeting all the red traffic lights.
“Oh for heaven’s sake!” she muttered as she stopped at another red light. She used the opportunity to flip down her visor and examine her face. Her perfectly drawn brows arched as she turned her face from side to side. Eyebrow game on fleek, she thought to herself, pleased. She had woken up feeling a need to assert her feminine side, so she had taken pains to apply a little more make-up than usual. Her success stared back at her from the mirror- darkened eyes, long sweeping lashes, pouty red lips and flawlessly creamy complexion. She hesitated for a moment, and then loosened her braids, letting them fall over her shoulders and brush the shoulders of the red dress which she had worn after a brief inner battle. She figured it wasn’t a crime to look sexy once in a while, though she had shrugged on a black blazer over the gown just before she stepped out.
She flipped the visor up and noticed the silhouette of a male driver in a jeep beside her, his head turned towards her. The windows of the car were tinted, but she knew he was probably staring at her in admiration. Susan swallowed a small smile and put her car into gear as the lights changed. She knew she looked attractive; and the feeling provided just the boost of self-confidence she needed after a restless night spent wondering if she could ever attract a great, SINGLE guy.
Her ex-husband had never allowed her to indulge in the need to look good, preferring her to remain fresh-faced while he chased women all over the town. As she drove into her office premises, she made a mental note to dress up more often. It was good for her self-esteem. She had gotten more than a few approving looks as she drove past the other people who had offices in the same gated premises. As she was locking her car, a car pulled in beside hers and parked.
She frowned; the vehicle looked familiar. Then after a few seconds, she connected the dots. It was the jeep that had been beside her car at the traffic light. She gaped at the car. Had the man been so enamoured that he followed her to work? Na wa o, so my market still dey sell like this, she thought wryly to herself.
Her amusement disappeared as the man climbed out of the car, his familiar figure dredging up feeling she had happily forgotten. Her brow furrowed at the cocky grin on his face and her palm clenched around her car keys. How had he found her? She braced herself for the unpleasant conversation that was bound to come.
“Hello there, baby. Missed me?” her ex-husband asked.
To Be Continue By 3pm