I apologize for not posting this on Saturday for logistical reasons. Do enjoy the seventh episode of It’s Another Saturday!
The One He Kissed
When Honey told me she could handle my friends, I had laughed in my head because I underestimated her. But now, sitting here and watching her, I can see that she is doing just what she said she would – effortlessly. Using that powerful mechanism called attraction.
The men literally are cross-eyed as she engages them in conversation. Watching her touch on every topic of discussion without acting all-conversant, and at the same time, showing she is knowledgeable enough, leaves me in awe. It is a skill she has mastered fine, the way she makes every person feel like they’re important in the conversation. It’s all in her physical and verbal expressions; peppered by that endearing manner in which she twirls the tip of a lone braid that has fallen across her shoulder from behind her left ear. Pure sex appeal!
I sit back like a boss with my glass of Bacardi and coke and watch her with smugness as she charms the pants off my friends. They are all giving me that look like ‘where did you get this babe from?’ Earlier Shady had pulled me aside to ask for details but the answer I gave him was vague because I knew he was only being Celia’s messenger.
Her and her crew have regrouped in the kitchen under the guise of fixing up the small chops but I know they are poisoning the darts they plan to fire at Honey.
Oddly, they have left Mary behind. And now she vacates her chair to join me on the three-sitter Honey and I are sharing. I have a feeling the extra space has been hers all along. For a while she acts like she’s interested in the topic the guys are discussing but deftly, she arrests my attention with a single line.
I turn. “Who?”
“Honey. She’s beautiful.”
I don’t look at Honey. I admire Mary instead, from head to toe. “So are you.”
She pulls at her short gown.
“I’ve always told you to dress like this and you’ve always said it was slutty. What happened today? Who’s the lucky guy you’re doing it for? Is he coming?”
“Lucky guy keh. I don’t need a man to look sexy. I can do bad all by myself.”
I laugh in a low tone. She has just used my line. “Have fun with your vibrator tonight, then.”
She hits me playfully and Honey gets distracted from her gist as she gives us a glance. She turns back immediately, to continue listening to Reno blab about his recent visit to Germany where he went to view the concentration camps.
“That was how you didn’t come for the wedding yesterday,” Mary speaks.
“Sorry about that.”
“You were with Honey?”
“How come you didn’t talk about her last Sunday when you were with me or even on Friday when I came to your office and literally spent the whole day?”
“Um…slipped my mind.”
“So you had your own girlfriend but you went and slept with Mex’s own?”
I put a finger to my lips to hush her.
“She doesn’t know abi?”
“No one knows,” I say inaudibly, “now shut up.”
Mary seems upset. She opens her mouth to continue her interrogation but Celia and her horde emerge from the kitchen, trays of small chops in their hands.
“Food! Finally!” I exclaim and spring up to help Celia with the tray in her hand. She wouldn’t let me, as she places it on the center table. Then she takes my hand and leads me back into the kitchen.
“Jide, tell the truth and shame the devil.”
“I solemnly swear to,” I reply, placing my hand on my chest.
“That chick is not your girlfriend.”
I lift my lips in a smile.
“I know Shady called you and told you what happened at the wedding yesterday and you decided to crop this girl up from nowhere so you can foil our plans to hook you up with Mary.”
“Whoa! Slow down. Wait…what?”
I marvel at my own acting skill at times. For a man who beds a lot of women, you just have to learn a little theater.
But Celia is not fooled.
“Yes, sweetheart.” I try charm. Smartness can’t help me out this time. “I…”
She pauses. My charm is working. I press on. “Have I told you I like your hair? The curls are perfect on you.”
She angles her head in the direction of the sitting room. “Shady, your friend is hitting on me!”
“Kick his balls!” Shady replies.
“As I was saying,” she continues.
“No, I was saying,” I interrupt. “Repeat that part about hooking me up with Mary. That was what you guys planned yesterday in my absence? Have you all gone crazy?”
“Nope. Two of you fit each other.”
“How? Mary’s like a sister to me.”
“Well, brothers don’t kiss their sisters.”
“It was a harmless kiss, Celia. There was nothing to it.”
“Not according to Mary.”
“Look, Cee, Honey is my girlfriend and please, no matter what you do, try not to bring this whole kissing Mary incidence up this night. It will break her heart.”
“Jide, you’re still looking into my eyes and lying like this.”
“I am not.”
“Well, since you won’t tell the truth, I’ll get it from her myself.”
Celia begins to walk away but I stop her. “How?”
Her eyes twinkle and I see little demons dancing in them. “She’s going to be on the barstool.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“It’s tradition, Jide. Every wife-to-be must go on our barstool.”
“I never said anything about wife here.”
“Jide, you know it’s tradition. We have weaned out terrible girlfriends and boyfriends in the past using this stool. If Honey is the one for you, we’ll know this night.”
Didn’t I tell you about Celia and her bag of tricks? Now she has come up with this barstool trash and there’s nothing I can do about it, unless I want to get angry and walk out on all of them, which would be hypocritical since I’ve watched others face humiliation on the stool without doing anything to help them.
“Relax. It’s just a few innocent questions.” Celia giggles like a little rat.
I narrow my eyes at her. “Play nice.”
“Don’t worry, luv. Your Honey’s in safe hands.”
Celia heads back to the sitting room and I stand, watching her walk with swag in her steps. The mischief in the woman is getting out of hand. I wonder how Shady copes with her.
I join them in the sitting room. My former space has been occupied by Bimpe, Bright’s wife. I pick a plastic chair by the corner and try to join the hearty conversation they’re having about Game of Thrones. I have forgotten how my friends are so close-knit, that they and their wives watch the same movies and series. I leave a mental warning not to let my future missus be part of the gang.
An hour or so passes. Finger foods and alcohol have made their rounds. Everyone is in a chirpy mood now, apart from me. I pretend everything is fine but I’m dreading the moment Celia puts Honey in her hot seat. So far Honey has handled the air around her coolly. Can she take the heat that’s about to come?
From across the room, I catch her eye. She smiles; I wink without meaning to. It’s a hereditary glitch that occurs every now and then.
“Aww,” Peace, Reno’s wife coos with dove-like eyes.
“What is it?” Ajonoka asks.
“I just caught Jide winking at Honey,” Peace replies. “So romantic.”
The other women give her a look. It is not outwardly reprimanding but she gets the message that she’s not supposed to swing the way she just did. She sighs. Just like her name, she’s a peaceful soul, Holy Ghost sister, always head-in-the-clouds. It’s a shame she’s married to a serial cheat.
Pressed from all that drinking, I excuse myself to the restroom. When I return, I see that the food has been done away with and Ajonoka is now entertaining them with a sexy dance for her husband, Ibro. It’s nothing new to watch. Noka, knowing her competition is Ibro’s only true love, always does her best to keep him constantly attracted to her. Of all the women present, she is the most stylishly dressed but she pales in elegance when compared to Honey. That one has stolen the heart of every man present, mine inclusive.
Noka completes her dance and she gets applause. Her husband gives her a kiss, pulling her to sit on his laps. Celia disappears and returns with the scandalous barstool, which she places in the center of the room.
“Who’s going on the stool?” Shady asks. No one replies; he gets the message himself. He looks at me. I shrug.
“Okay,” Celia speaks up. “First of all, I want to welcome Honey to my humble, little house once more.”
“Thank you,” Honey replies.
“You must forgive us if we acted really shocked when Jide introduced you as his girlfriend. The thing is we’re his closest friends and he never told us anything about you. But you’re still welcome.”
“Very much so,” Reno quips.
“However, to be fully accepted as one of us—as you can see we’re practically family—you have to sit on our barstool.”
Honey stares at the stool. “Okay.”
“And we’ll ask you some personal questions.”
“Personal?” Honey scratches the side of her nose. “How personal?”
“Nothing that you can’t handle, sweetie,” Bimpe assures.
“Yeah, simple questions,” Noka adds.
“You’re game?” Celia asks Honey.
Everyone cheers. Bimpe takes it upon herself to lead her to the stool. “If you don’t want to answer any question, you simply say pass…”
“And we’ll pass you a shot of brandy,” Celia completes.
Honey pops her eyes out and laughs.
“That’s why it’s called the barstool,” Noka says.
“I hope this is not an attempt to get me drunk,” Honey states with a calm face but her eyes keep a steady stare at Celia.
“No. Why would I want to do that? You’re my guest. Relax, dear. Jide is here. He won’t let anything happen to you.”
“You got that right,” I answer as Honey takes the seat. She crosses her legs, giving the guys an eyeful of the long, spotless pair.
“So everyone, including, Jide, gets to ask you two questions. If you answer anyone’s question correctly, that person takes the brandy shot instead.”
Reno clinks his glass for sound effects as they excitedly adjust their positions. I look at them with vigilant eyes; it’s as if I’m watching a bunch of old folks trying to revive their youth.
They begin. The questions are downright intrusive. They’re not even playing. It’s like they want to know everything about her in just one evening. They want to know about her first kiss, if sex the first time hurt, the most embarrassing thing she ever did, the one thing she wishes she can undo, the best sex scene she ever watched in a movie, if she loves erotica, if she can keep her body for marriage…
She tackles each question maturely, even the intimate ones. Finally, it gets to my turn and seriously I’m not prepared for the moment. I kill the flow with a long pause.
“Jide, we’re waiting,” Bimpe urges impatiently.
I look at Honey and let out the one question nudging at the back of my mind that I’m uncomfortable to ask.
“Honey, what did you feel the first time you saw me?”
There is pin-drop silence as everyone stares at her. But her eyes are on me alone. She uncrosses her legs and takes a pose.
“I felt light like a feather, flushed and sweaty.” She dramatizes like an actress in a Shakespearean play. “Spots before my eyes…”
Her audience is amused.
“I was simply blown away.” She ends in a low volume after the laughter dies down. “I think it’s called love at first sight.”
She gets more than one ‘aww’ from Celia’s co-conspirators. Seems like the ‘Honeyofor’ bug is biting them all, save for Celia and Mary, who are trying their best not to show their displeasure.
“Did you do drama in school, Honey?” Mary queries.
“Is this part of the questions?” Honey replies. Mary goes shut. I smile at Honey’s cunning.
“We’re not done,” Celia arrests everybody’s attention once more. “Bright, time for your second question. This round is to test Honey’s knowledge on all things Jideofor. Are you ready?”
Bright asks, “Jide always does something whenever he’s in the shower. What is it?”
I hold my breath and try to catch Honey’s eyes. She should just take the shot of brandy…
“He sings Michael Jackson’s songs really loudly.”
I squeeze my brows together. How the hell did she know that?
“She’s right!” Bright accepts a shot passed to him by Reno, our designated barman.
“Honey,” Bimpe comes next, “does Jide have more boxers than briefs?”
“He has more briefs.”
Again, I’m stunned. How does she know this?
“I’m next!” Noka yells as if anyone is trying to stop her from speaking. “What is Jide’s English name that he’s so ashamed of?”
The whole room cracks up at her answer. My friends never get tired of making fun of my name. But I act like I’m deaf to their jeering. I now know where Honey has gotten all her info about me. I wonder how much my mom has shared with her. The one about the briefs, though, I’ll have to ask.
It’s Reno’s turn. The impish expression on his face makes me sick. “Do you guys have a sex tape we can download?”
His wife smacks the back of his head as the men laugh.
“Not yet,” Honey replies. She gets hoots from them. All I can do is smile from where I sit. I am yet to relax. I cringe as the next four questions come, but one after the other, Honey confronts them expertly, having only to take one shot of brandy for refusing to answer Ibro’s question about if she has ever been part of the mile high club. I jump in when I see her discomposure, and tell Ibro to ask another question that centers around me. Honey chooses to drink instead.
Celia and Mary and I are the only ones left. Mary goes first, after taking a long guzzle from the glass of liquor in her hand.
“If you found out Jide kissed one of his closest female friends, let’s say, just about a week ago, what would you do?”
I flash hostile eyes at Mary as I feel my patience which has been growing thin reach its elastic point. Nevertheless out of curiosity, I want to see how Honey takes this. All has gone silent.
“If he kissed someone else a week ago? It wouldn’t have bothered me because there was no us a week ago. What you see here,” she smiles at me, “is new…and amazing.”
I become uneasy as I take a mouthful of my drink. I’m either falling for this girl or scared of her. How else do I explain this restlessness in my guts?
“You guys want to make me fall in love again.” Peace blows wet eyes.
“Cee, your turn,” Mary tells Celia with as much poise as she can muster. Honey has just weakened their sinister alliance. Celia is their last card, but really what’s the worst she can do? They’ve laid out all their aces already.
“Honey, you know Jide is like our baby brother in this love and marriage business, so all of us here are looking out for him and we want him to have only the best, a woman who truly loves him. And that is why we want to know if you’re with him because you love him or because you heard he’s the Bridemaker and you want him to make a bride out of you.”
WT…F! Celia is such a bitch! What is wrong with her?!
“Excuse me? Come again.” Honey straightens up, her face puzzled.
“You mean you haven’t heard about the Bridemaker?” Noka asks. She laughs. “This is about to get interesting.”
I lose my good mood completely. They have simply gone too far. One stare at Shady’s apologetic eyes tells me he’s not in support.
“Ladies,” he speaks, “I think Jide should ask his question rather. Make una forget dis Bridemaker something abeg.”
Ibro concurs but Honey stops them. “No, it’s okay,” she counters. “Tell me about the Bridemaker, Noka.”
Noka is all happy to share. With so much glee on her face, she gives Honey the Bridemaker gist. While she speaks, Honey keeps an expressionless face but I watch her fingers silently drum on her knees. When Noka finishes, she bravely tells them she would pass on the question and takes some brandy. I am so not happy about this. Celia has a scathing remark waiting but one look from her husband makes her behave.
I stand up and clear my throat. It is my turn. I am annoyed and disappointed at the direction things have turned but I know I can’t react. The only thing I can do is obey the voice in my head. It wants to get even at all cost and silence the conniving wives permanently.
“Honey,” I walk to her, “can I kiss you?”
My question is as much a surprise to her as it is to the others.
“Like, right now?”
I don’t give her an answer. I steal her lips. They are moist and devastatingly soft but tremble at my rude invasion. Yet she doesn’t gasp or lose her composure. She responds to my intrusion by letting her tongue caress my upper lip before she allows me in. I kiss her softly, slowly, sensually, very aware of our audience. But I won’t lie; I am getting lost between those lips. I want so badly to go in hard and deep. I just realize I want to know this woman more.
“E don do!” Bimpe impolitely intrudes.
“No, let them continue.” Reno sounds annoyed at the intrusion. Honey and I pull apart. I search her eyes to see if I’ve done something wrong but her head is lowered.
“If that’s not the sweetest kiss I’ve seen in a while.” Peace sighs dreamily.
“So, Jide, you guys are serious?” Noka asks.
“Yeah.” I help Honey to her feet, wrap my arms around her from behind and peck her neck. I mean nothing by it; just making sure I’m nailing the coffin shut. After this night, they will never try to arrange any chick for me, let alone my closest female friend.
I look at Mary now. Her eyes are not on Honey and I. I hate to hurt her but she needs to set her brain right and find some other man. Celia takes her drink from her. I think she has consumed too much alcohol already. I hope someone has the commonsense to drive her home to make sure she’s safe.
“Cee, Shady, thanks for a fun night,” I announce.
“Are you guys leaving?” Celia protests. “We still have one more game to play.”
“It’s past ten, Celia.”
“It is?” Bright checks the time on his watch.
“Yep,” I reply, distractedly rubbing Honey’s arm. Her skin is warm as milk.
“You’re right. Some of us have work tomorrow but I don’t think an hour more will kill anyone.”
I shake my head. “We have to leave. Thanks, guys.”
“Yeah, thank you for the warm welcome and the fun questions,” Honey tells them. “Hopefully, we’ll do this again.”
We share hugs with them and leave the house. Outside, we meet a cold night. Now alone with Honey, I feel awkward. After all the affection I’ve displayed back at Shady’s, am I to stay away or keep up with the act until we’re well out of sight?
Honey helps me decide. She pulls closer and links her arm with mine, “I’m cold.”
I put an arm around her but under the brightness of a security lamp, I see goosebumps over her skin. I pull her to me and give her a full blanket wrap with both arms as I flag down a cab.
Lord help me, this woman is beginning to overrun my commonsense.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
I’m quiet in the taxi. All I’ve heard about Jide today has left me a bit unsure of how I feel about him. I stick close to my door, still cold and missing the warmth he offered a few minutes ago.
“Honey, I’m sorry if my friends made you feel uncomfortable.”
“No, it’s fine.” I give him a half smile.
I continue looking out the window.
“You have questions for me?” he asks.
I look at him. I’m liking the way he reads my mind easily.
“I have questions of my own,” he says when I don’t answer, “although I think I know half of the answers.”
“You want to know how I got my answers today.”
“My mom told you my English name, right?”
“I hope to God she wasn’t the one who told you about the briefs and the Michael Jackson shower thing. Please, tell me you came up with that all on your own.”
I fight back a grin and recall how last night when I slept over at his, I had strolled into the sitting room to pick my handbag and saw him asleep on the couch with nothing but a pair of Calvin Klein briefs. It had taken me great restrain to leave the place and not stare all night.
“I heard you singing The Girl Is Mine this morning while you were having your bath.”
“And the briefs?”
I turn away from his stare. “Just a guess.”
“Hmm. Okay o. So you want to know about the Bridemaker.”
“It’s just a stupid gist that has no origins whatsoever.”
“But does it really happen? That you sleep with a girl and next thing she gets married?”
“How many girls so far?”
He laughs. He won’t look at me.
“Can I pass on that question?”
“Are you still in the bride-making business?”
He’s even more tickled at this question. “Bride-making business.” He guffaws. I don’t think it’s funny. “My friends have given you this impression that I sleep around.”
“No. There’s just this general opinion that once you’re not hooked, you’re a player.”
“Are you sleeping with someone presently? Mary, maybe?”
The laughter drains from his face. “Mary? Why would you think that?”
“Cos I saw the way she was looking at me. If someone had given her a gun, she would have shot me right there.”
“Wow. It was that obvious?”
“She’s a friend with benefits?”
“No. She has this crush on me that I just got to find out today and that was why I asked you to accompany me to Shady’s.”
“So she was the one you kissed a week ago.”
Jide smiles behind pressed lips. I feel I have gone too far but I can’t help it. I’m dying to know him more, dying to hear him tell me he’s not just another Georgey Porgy out there.
“Can we talk about something else, Honey?”
I’m upset but I have to respect his wishes. I apologize and try my best not to sulk. I will not come off looking like Mary. I let out deep breaths and bring up a different topic. He’s glad for the change. We maintain the discussion until we arrive at my hotel. He walks me to my suite and stops outside the door.
“So when do I see you again?” he enquires.
“I don’t know. Soon, maybe.”
“I hope so. Thanks for a wonderful weekend. You’re great company.”
“And the kiss…”
“Yes, the kiss…”
We both laugh.
“Let’s not talk about it,” I say, afraid to hear the words ‘it meant nothing’.
“Well, I just wanted to say that I enjoyed it despite it being an act.”
My insides mush up at his words. He looks like he wants to say more but he simply tells me goodnight and walks away. I stand by my door, watching him until he disappears. I enter my suite and fall on the bed. I ping Dele’s wife immediately but she doesn’t reply until minutes later. I use the time to relive the kiss.
I prop a pillow behind my head and ping back.
-I dey jare. How u dey?
-In cloud 9. He kissed me!
-How was it?
-Heaven! That’s why I’m in cloud 9
-Hahahaha! U no well. So he’s a good kisser
-I can’t even explain, babe. I wan2be kissin him 4eva
-Se jeje o
-Nothing like jeje for dis mata. I like dis guy die
I sigh. Dele’s wife can be a bitch sometimes.
-But nothing jor
-Okay o. Hapi 4u. Jus take it easy. U know how ibo guys are
I roll my eyes. I will not get into an argument with her about tribe right now. I won’t even share my fears with her and have her spoil my night. I want to drag that kiss into my dreams and have Jide take my lips over and over until I wake up.
-Babe, I hav to go
-Ah-ah. Jus lyk that? We neva finish gist na. what prompted the kiss. Was dat all u guys did. Gimme more
-Tomoro. I’m tired. I wan2sleep
-Ok o. oya, g.nite. sleep tight.
I put my phone away, take off my clothes and go for a warm shower. When I return, I slip into bed and fall asleep with my earphones in my ears, listening to love songs.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
After I drop Honey, I head straight home. Ele is waiting for me. She doesn’t want sex; not like I am even in the mood for her. She wants some money. I don’t ask her what for. I just pass the notes to her and move away when she tries to kiss me. The taste of Honey is still on my lips.
I get into the house and head for my bedroom. The moment I hit the sheets, Mary calls. I hesitate before taking the call. When I eventually do, she is silent for the first few seconds.
“Boo, talk nau. This one that you’re quiet.”
“I want to come over so we can talk,” she speaks up. “It’s important. Is your girlfriend there?”
This is my turn to be quiet.
“She’s not here.”
“I’m coming over.”
I regret why I brought her over to visit two days ago.
“Can I come?”
“It’s late, boo.”
“Please. It’s important.”
“Okay o. I’m waiting.”
Sleep vacates my eyes. I move to the sitting room, pop open a canned beer and watch music videos while I wait for her. She arrives in good time. I open the door and let her in. She walks in and stands in the middle of my sitting room like a stranger.
“Sit down nau, madam.”
“No, I want to stand.”
I lock my door. “Stand keh. You said you wanted to talk. Now you’re here and you want to do the talking on your feet. You’ve been acting strange all day, shey you know. I don’t even want to bring up this evening and how you were sulking all through.”
“That’s what I actually came to explain.”
I take her hand and make her sit. I realize, from the way she can’t keep herself steady, how drunk she is. I occupy the space beside her.
“Talk. I’m listening.”
She heaves a couple of times before she builds up the courage to speak.
“I…” She brushes hair off her face. “I have feelings for you, Jide. I’ve always crushed on you, since from school days but I’ve been so scared to tell you. But when you kissed me last Sunday…”
Her eyes go moist.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I tried, Jide. I really tried.”
“But you came today with Honey and I… I just fell apart.”
She holds my eyes in hers.
“Jide, is there a chance for us?”
Chai. Na only me waka come? Dear Jesus, this is the second time I’m asking your help today concerning these women. Can you please handle my matter with urgency? The last time I broke a heart this devoted to me, I had to watch her almost take her life; then I had to suffer the pain of her losing her mind slowly. And from then on, things just went downhill for me.
Now, how do I get out of this present mess? No matter what I tell Mary, it won’t end well. And I love her to death. But not this way. Not just this way.
“Jide, you’re not saying anything.”
I pull closer and hold her hands in mine. I want her to listen to every word I say and understand me well.
“Mary, I love you. Very much. I’ve watched you grow and I’ve grown with you. You have been there for me through the years and you have become part of my history and now, my present. But Mary, boo… I… I don’t feel the same way…”
She bursts into a sob, cutting me off. Her deep alto tone thins out to a wretched whine that breaks my heart. I enclose her in an embrace to comfort her. She clings to me as if to life. I have no one but myself to blame. If a harmless, dispassionate kiss can lead to this, only God knows what the one I shared with Honey will produce.
For the third time, Jesus, please help me.
Se jeje o (Yoruba) – take it easy