Short story: Twice bitten five

My days became very busy and my nights, unexciting. After I’m done with the day’s work, all I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for a week; even my Telemundo suffered a lot. By the time weekend rolled around, I was so ready for it.

Adelaide called me every day during that week, she asked about my day and demanded I tell her everything that was going on. On Wednesday, she dropped in for about twenty minutes just to check up on the progress and to boost my morale a bit. She praised my work and that encouraged me, I didn’t want to think I was going mad with fatigue for nothing.

I barely saw Daniel during that week. He didn’t stop by, and the few times we met, it was in the office lobby. He told me he didn’t want to see the unfinished work, he said he’ll be patient and wait to be surprised by the beauty I’m concocting. I was grateful for his apparent trust in my work.

By the time Friday rolled around, I was so tired, I could barely function but I was at the same time exhilarated. I was proud of what I was able to do and awed by how much people love it.

Adelaide was able to finagle an invitation from me when she visited the offices on Wednesday. I promised her we were going to do something fun together on Saturday. She was planning on going to see a movie, and doing some shopping after that. Although I’d rather stay home all day Saturday and enjoy my off day, I couldn’t disappoint her. And I must admit, a part of me was looking forward to the outing; after all, a hardworking girl needs some relaxation and fun time now and again.

I got home on Friday, fell on my bed, and slept like a log until the ringing of my cell phone woke me up the next day. I opened bleary eyes, stared at my bedside clock and saw it was a few minutes past 9 a.m. I picked up the shrilling phone and saw it was Daniel on the line. My eyes flew open and all sleep wiped from my brain.

“Hello?” I spoke tentatively into the receiver.

“Hi, Ella. Don’t tell me I woke you?”

I bristled. “Yes, you did. Some of us like to sleep in, you know?”

“Figures.” He murmured.

“What did you say?”

“Never mind. Look, I didn’t call to fight with you. I’m sorry I woke you up.”

“It’s cool, it was time for me to wake up anyway. What’s up?”

“I’ll love to spend the day with you. I’ve got some things planned we could do together.”

I swallowed convulsively. My mouth dropped open. I couldn’t believe my ears. Spend the day with him? The guy obviously believes in going straight for the jugular.

“Spend the day with me?” I repeated stupidly

“Yeah. You know, like go and have some fun together. We can do anything you want, it doesn’t have to be what I had planned.”

I kept quiet. Why, oh, why did I make those plans with Adelaide, when I could have held on just a little bit longer and get to spend the day with one of the most powerful men in Nigeria?

“Well, what do you say?” he asked after a few moments of silence from me.

“I’m sorry, Daniel, I already have plans for today.”

“Oh? Doing what?” I could hear the disappointment he was trying to mask in his voice.

“Just some plans with a friend.”

“Break it.” He said arrogantly.

Arrogant much? “I can’t break my plans. The person will be disappointed and I care too much about the person to do that.” Why did I say that? Why did I just say that??

“Who do you have plans with?” he asked suddenly.

“Nobody you know.” I smirked. Now, I know why I’m saying these things. I’m trying to make him jealous. If I have to stew about having to decline his invitation for a few hours, the least he could do was be jealous for those hours. That way, we both suffer. I know, I know, I’m so bad.

“Are you sure about that?”

“Pretty sure.” I hope he doesn’t find out it’s just Adelaide.

“Okay then. Maybe another time.”

“I’ll love to hang with you some other time.”

Subtle, Ella, subtle. Why don’t you just tell the guy you love him?

“I’m sure the opportunity will present itself again.” I could hear the smile in his voice.

Ella, you just gave away the game , I admonished myself. “Hmm hmm.”

“Bye, Ella.”

“Goodbye.”

We listened to each other breathe for a few moments before he cut the line. I dropped the phone and covered my eyes with my right arm.

Did I just turn down an invitation to frolic all day with the most eligible bachelor in Lagos? All for a girl I can see any time? Smooth Ella, smooth.

I know I’m starting to feel something for this guy. I just hope I’m not making a mistake. Again.

I rose up from the bed. I knew Adelaide’s call will come in soon and I better be ready by the time it does. I was brushing my teeth when my cell phone rang again. It was Adelaide.

“Hi, girl.” I said into the receiver as I swished the brush around in my mouth.

“Hi. You ready?”

“Hmm hmm.” I dare not answer that question.

“Ella, I know you’re not. I’m almost at your place. You better be ready when I get there.”

“Yes ma’am.” I saluted and laughed.

“Naughty you. I’ll be there shortly.”

“I’ll be ready.”

Twenty minutes later, I was decked out in a no-frills teal-colored top and blue jeans. Hot pink ballerina flats completed the look; no use going all out when I’m going to be walking around all day. I heard a knock at my door as I was applying the finishing touches to my makeup. I quickly rushed to open it, and my mouth flew open as I stared into Daniel’s eyes.

“Da…da…niel?” I stammered stupidly.

He smiled. “Nobody I know, huh?”

I was speechless as I watched all the thoughts in my head fly out the window.

“Daniel? What are you doing here?” I asked incredulously, after I managed to drag my bottom lip off the floor.

He grinned. “Happy to see me?”

I frowned. “Not really. I don’t understand.”

He just kept grinning that wicked grin. “Are you going to let me in?”

I stepped back as if controlled by a remote. He smiled at me as he stepped into my domain. Immediately, my space felt smaller.

“Hmm, nice digs. Suits you.” He said as he looked around.

I remained mute. I think I was still in a state of shock to see the almighty Daniel Omalu in my tiny apartment. Of course, ‘tiny’ here is relative.

“You’ve not told me why you’re here, Daniel.” Better to take the bull by its horns.

“We have a date, remember?”

“No, we don’t. I told you I have plans.”

Still smiling, he took my hand. “I know that. Consider them cancelled.” He said with all confidence.

I bristled. What arrogance? “What?”

He squeezed my hand. I couldn’t be properly angry with him touching me so I withdrew my hand from his.

“I called your date, and made your excuses. I really want to spend some time with you, Ella.”

It’s difficult to be angry after a confession like that, and while regarding the earnest look on his face. And all for me? I couldn’t believe it. This is like the crème de la crème of hot guys in Lagos. Although, I maintained a straight face, I was giddy with happiness inside.

“You don’t know my date.” I said deadpan.

He laughed. “Oh, Ella, we both know I do.”

I couldn’t get angry, not really. I found myself smiling.

“I guess we do. What did you do with my friend?”

“Your friend is my cousin, remember? She is fine, or rather, she’ll be fine.”

“Hmmm. I can imagine how fine she will be.”

“Don’t worry about it, Ella.”

“Oh, I’m not. Far from it.” Why are we standing in my living room, bantering?

He looked into my eyes. “I don’t think I’ve ever gone to this much trouble to get to spend a day with a beautiful woman.”

That admission tickled me, but I was not ready to let it show. “You have them falling all over you then?” I arched my brows.

He laughed again. He’s just bubbling with happiness this morning, isn’t he? “Yeah, something like that.” He allowed with no hint of self-consciousness. The guy was altogether too sure of himself.

“So,” he rubbed his palms together like a child anticipating a treat. “Shall we go?”

“Where are we going to, exactly?” I inclined my head, studying his face.

“Oh, here and there. Get ready for the best day of your life.”

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this level of arrogance and confidence in him, they both mix well, and the combination made him ‘oh, so appealing’ .

“Best day of my life? Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

“And who says I can’t keep them?”

“Hmmm, that remains to be seen, doesn’t it?”

“Is that a challenge?”

“What if it was?” I’m enjoying this, oh yes, I am .

He looked at me, pursed his lips and studied my face for a few moments. I tried not to squirm under the scrutiny of his piercing eyes. That’s one of the best things I love about him; his eyes. He’s got some sexy eyes.

“I do believe it was.” He tapped his bottom lip with his index finger. “Hmm, Ella, Ella, what shall we do about this challenge you just issued?”

I shrugged, watching him wearily.

“Didn’t your mother tell you not to issue a challenge you can’t match?”

I didn’t like the reminder of my mother. My face fell and the smile dropped. “My mother taught me plenty.” I murmured.

He noticed the change immediately and came closer to me. The teasing smile was gone, and in its place a very serious expression. He took hold of my elbow.

“Hey, what’s the matter? What did I say?”

“It’s nothing. It’s not you.”

“Come on, talk to me.” He cajoled.

“I just didn’t like the reminder of my mother.”

He looked confused, and at the same time concerned. “Why? Is she dead?” He led me to a seat and sat beside me.

“No, she’s very much alive. We just don’t talk much.”

“Why?” he asked again.

I looked into his eyes. Am I ready to tell him all that? Open that tightly covered and hidden can of worms? Does he really need to know all that? I think not. Better to see where all this is leading to before going all out.

“It’s a long story.”

“I’ll like to hear it.”

I smiled. He’s so earnest. Not sure he’ll be ready to be such a lover-boy if he knows all there is to know about me.

“Maybe someday. If you can manage to impress me today.” I managed to infuse some fun and humor in the conversation. It became too serious all of a sudden.

He was still staring at me. Finally, he smiled and squeezed my hand. “I’ll look forward to it.”

I nodded. Rarely do you find a man so eager to hear a woman’s story of woe. I was beginning to see how sensitive Daniel is.

“Are you ready to go?”

“I don’t know if I’m dressed right for whatever you have planned.”

He looked at me critically from head to toe. “You look fine. At least a shade better than the last time you stormed into my office looking half crazed.”

I wanted to sock him but I refrained. I laughed instead. “But you told me I looked great.” I adopted a pretend look of hurt.

“And I meant it. Doesn’t mean you couldn’t look greater.”

“Ha ha! Now, I see.”

“I’m sure you do. Let’s get going. It’s almost time for the first phase of your best day.”

I stood up. “Hmm, I can’t wait. Let me get my purse.”

I went into my bedroom, grabbed my phone, touched up my lipstick, and grimaced at my dressing. If I knew I would be spending the day with Daniel, I would have put in more effort. As it is, I couldn’t change a thing, don’t want to be too obvious. I checked my reflection critically once again, fluffed my hair, and sucked in my stomach. This will just have to do.

My phone rang as I turned to leave. It was Adelaide. “Hello, girl. You set me up.” I started.

“My dear, you should have seen the bombardment I received from Daniel this morning. He’s really got it bad for you.”

I rolled my eyes. “He called me this morning and I told him I had plans. How did he know it was with you?”

“He just called to ask what I was doing today and I told him I’m going shopping with you. I didn’t know what you guys discussed previously. You don’t have to go with him if you don’t want to. Although, I’ll hate to give up the credit card he bribed me with.”

“What? He bribed you?” I asked, aghast.

“Oh boy, the guy just gave me his card. You know, as compensation. Although, he stipulated I must not spend more than 100k.”

“A 100k?” this was getting more outrageous by the minute.

‘Yes, girl. Like I said, he’s got it bad for you.”

I was speechless. Who in the world bribes a girl 100k because he wants to take her friend out? I feel so flattered, and scared at the same time. What is happening here? Am I ready to go into another relationship, with the fear of failure constantly hounding me? I was not sure about that but I have to figure it out soon.

I stepped out of my bedroom, ready to face a day full of fun and enjoy Daniel’s company as much as I can.

My jaw dropped again as soon as we got out of my apartment building. The car parked at the curb was a sleek 2016 Audi A8. Yes, I know my cars, and I loooove the Audi brand.

I slanted a look at Daniel, and I saw him watching me with the teasing grin back on his face. “Is this yours?” I asked.

“You know about cars?” he asked, surprise in his voice.

“Oh, yes. Cars are my one driving passion.” I smiled. “Pun intended.”

He laughed. “That’s really cool. You rarely see a woman that knows her cars.”

“Yeah, I’m unique like that.” I teased.

“It’s my pleasure to present Boyd to you.” He indicated the sleek silver car, grinning boyishly.

“You named your car?” I was trying so hard to keep my mouth from twitching.

“Who wouldn’t name a car like this? Look at this baby. Boyd stands for beyond ones you desire .” He patted the hood affectionately.

I couldn’t help it, I laughed. “Baby indeed.” I joined him in patting the car. “It’s a really lovely car. Commands presence and respect, and it suits you perfectly.”

His brows raised in surprise. “Thank you.” He said solemnly.

I flashed him a smile. “You’re welcome. Now, what can this baby do?”

“Oh, it’s best experienced. Should I talk about the V8 twin turbo engine or the plush leather seats? Come on, hop in and experience the drive of your life. Pun intended too.” He winked.

I laughed. “You couldn’t ask me twice.” I gleefully opened the door and stepped in, and a long groan escaped from deep within me before I could stop it. “Oh, this feels so good.” I purred like a cat.

He laughed. He was obviously enjoying my reaction but I was too enamored of the car to be embarrassed. “I’m glad you think so.”

“Oh, I’m far from thinking right now. I’m just feeling. Such soft leather, so pliant, and it molds to my body perfectly.” I rubbed the leather seat as I would the face of a lover.

He was still watching me with that awesome smile on his face. I basked in his regard, surrounded by the smell of leather, and the soft purr of the music. Music? When did he put on the stereo? To my uttermost surprise, it was Celine Dion’s voice that crooned out of the speakers singing “My heart will go on.” I looked at Daniel’s face incredulously as my heart hammered and my throat constricted. Tension suddenly filled the car, and I was finding it difficult to catch a breath.

His eyes bore into mine, the teasing smile gone, and in its place a look of such intensity, a look that frightened me for its sincerity.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.” He said quietly, and my heart stopped.

The assault on my senses started from that moment and lasted all through the day. The first place we went to for breakfast was a restaurant tucked into a corner at Victoria Garden City. I had never been to VGC and I must confess, the beauty took my breath away with its beautifully manicured lawns, its exquisite houses, even the people there are beautiful; no exaggeration. I tried to act my age though, and tuned down the gawking to a minimum. Daniel must have observed all my reactions because he had a half smile on his lips throughout, and a twinkle in his eyes.

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