We never spoke again after that day, not for lack of trying on his part. He did call, many times, but I couldn’t bring myself to speak to him. I was still trying to understand what had happened and too confused and angry to talk to him. I changed my number after a while. Then I heard from Eddie that he had travelled to the States for a master’s degree.
Life went on though; I graduated, served, started Living Lagos and gave up on ever loving any other man the way I still loved Michael. I had confided my feelings to Ada on one of the ‘Girl’s night in’ days at my apartment. Drunk on red wine, maudlin on romance movies and incensed by a picture of him I had seen on a friends Facebook page. I told her everything while she listened patiently.
“I think you overreacted.” She had said at last. “I’m not really sure about the ‘jambite rush’ thing and I don’t understand all your ‘vexing’ and not picking his calls. Why didn’t you at least talk to him?”
I had asked myself the same question over and over for years, so I couldn’t bring myself to argue with her. We went back to oohing and aahhing over his picture and how handsome he looked. Before the day was over Ada made me promise that if I ever had a chance I would see him, talk to him and see how it went from there.
“You never know.” She said. “You might just take one look at him and wonder what you ever saw in him.”
Very unlikely, I thought.
Now here I was in my tiny bedroom, with no idea what to wear. I was in a panic. I didn’t want to be too dressy, and make him think I was trying too hard. But I didn’t want to dress down either. Half of my wardrobe was on the bed and I still hadn’t decided.
My phone rang.
“Have you left home yet?” Ada asked.
“No!” I replied dejectedly, collapsing unto the pile of clothes on the bed “I’m not going. I have nothing to wear!”
“Of course you do.” She cajoled. “You have lots of lovely clothes.”
“Well they’re all hiding somewhere.” I said petulantly. “Because I haven’t seen any of them.”
“You’re just panicking.” Ada said. “You’re afraid to go and see the man you know is the love of your life.” She continued. “Just relax.” She coaxed. “You’re beautiful, in fact you’re stunning, forget about him for a moment and just dress up for a fabulous night out.”
Easy for her to say, I thought.
At last, I decided to wear a simple black dress, a pair of nude colored shoes and a matching clutch. I wore simple gold accessories and pinned my hair up. My makeup was light, a little eye shadow, mascara and lipstick, and I was done.
The girl who stared back at me in the mirror was classy and elegant, with long black hair, and smooth fair skin. My almond shaped eyes, already large, were well framed by my long lashes and elegantly arched brows. My small nose was perfectly underlined by my full cupid’s bow lips. Combined with my slim figure and long legs, I knew I looked good, and I was glad of it.
It was a short drive to the MUSON center. As soon as I entered the full hall, my eyes started to scan the place for Michael. I didn’t see him. As I futilely searched the faces of the people across the numerous round table arranged in the big hall, I tried to ignore the pang of disappointment in my stomach. I gave up and went to search for my seat.
There was funny couple on my table, a husband and wife in their sixties, who adopted me as soon as I sat down and before long, had me laughing at their stories on how they met.
“He walked up to me and said he was going to marry me!” The lady told me, her light voice just able to reach me over the music the live band was playing. “And I told him to get in the back of the queue.”
“I told her I was starting a new queue.” Her husband said with a self-satisfied chuckle.
“Then I asked him what he had that my other beaus didn’t.” The lady said still smiling, “and do you know what he said?” She asked me.
I shook my head.
“He said marry me and you’ll find out!”
“She couldn’t resist that!” Her husband laughed. “She just had to know.”
It continued like that all evening and even helped to ease my tension a little. But I still couldn’t forget why I was there. Michael Ade-Cole was like a weight, an anchor holding my mind in one place so that no matter what I did, I couldn’t turn it away from him.
I had psyched myself to be cool when I finally saw him. But when I did see him, all that preparation went out of the window. Somehow as soon as he came into the hall, I knew. My eyes went to the entrance and there he was, still beautiful, like some sort of god. He looked taller than I remembered, dressed in a semi-casual traditional attire of a white brocade caftan and trousers.
I watched him stride into the hall, following an usher to a table at the front. As he passed by my table I thought I saw him pause and almost turn around, but then he kept on walking, and joined his sister at their table in the front.
“Are you all right?” It was the old lady. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I’m fine.” I reassured her, smiling quickly.
She pursed her lips. “Why are you here alone anyway?” She asked, as if I had personally affronted her. “A beautiful girl like you should be here with one of her beaus. I always had someone to escort me when I was your age.”
“Times have changed.” Her husband quipped. “These days’ girls impress each other with their careers, not with the men on their arm.”
At one point Ada came up to me. “Babes, I saw him and he is hot!!!” She whispered in my ear. “How did you ever let that one get away?”
I shook her away and then stole a glance at him. He seemed to be enjoying himself, talking and laughing with the people at his table. Yes, he was handsome, more handsome than I remembered. I sighed. It even hurt to look at him.
The event drew towards the end. The last of the comedians and dancing troupes had concluded their acts and Michael’s sister gave her vote of thanks. Everyone was up and socializing. I got up. There was only one way to do this. If I was going to find out if my feelings for Michael would ever result in anything after all this time, then I was going to have to go to him.
He was standing towards the front of the room, talking with a slender woman who, as far as I could see, was being very receptive to whatever it was he was saying. Of course, I had known that he might bring a date, but the sight was much more disenchanting than the thought. I didn’t pause though, I walked towards him, my steps purposeful, inside I was a knot of nerves, but outside, I am sure I looked like the most confident girl in the room.
I was halfway to him before he raised his eyes.
And looked right into mine.
Somi Ekhasomhi is a Nigerian writer, poet, optimist and Architect. In 2012, she started publishing Always Yours, a romance set in Lagos, Nigeria as a blog serial at www.lagosromanceseries.com. Always Yours was later published as a novel on Amazon Kindle to very positive reviews. Her other books include Hidden Currents, the standalone sequel to Always Yours, as well as a short story, Jungle Justice.
The full copy of Always Yours can be purchased here on Amazon.