Onyinye was having second thoughts as she sat cross legged on Stanleyâ€™s bed and waited for him to return from the conversation he was having with his friend and course mate in the corridor.
What if her brother had been right about Stanley?
What if there was more to him that he showed?
The door opened and Stanley walked in.
â€œBack,â€ he announced with a smile before lowering himself with a sigh to the bed. Onyinye watched his handsome profile for some minutes. She admitted to herself that she was beginning to see him in a different light. Gone was the amiable platonic friendship they had enjoyed at the beginning. In its place was a blooming attraction that left her confused and uncomfortable.
â€œSo what were we talking about?â€ he asked, elbow supporting his weight as he lay on his side and looked up at her.
â€œWe were talking about your favourite American series.â€
Stanley smiled and shook his head. â€œNo, we were talking about your favourite American series.â€ He stopped smiling and reached to caress the back of Onyinyeâ€™s right hand lying on her lap. â€œItâ€™s all about you today.â€
Onyinye remembered her Brotherâ€™s words.
He wore yellow?
And his friends too?
Sounds to me like he is a cultist. You better stop hanging out with him.
â€œNo,â€ Onyinye said, shaking her head. â€œLetâ€™s talk about you.â€
â€œWhat do you want to know about me?â€
The earnest look on Stanleyâ€™s face gave Onyinye confidence.
â€œAre you a cultist?â€
The air in the room changed. Onyinye could feel the mood shift from its relaxed state to a tensed one. Stanley was still smiling but his eyes had become guarded. She lost her confidence.
â€œWhy did you ask?â€
Onyinye rubbed her palms together, wondering if it would have been better to keep her suspicions to herself.
â€œNothing. I am just curious.â€
â€œThere has to be a reason.â€
Onyinye began to shake her head and then had a change of mind.
â€œYou and your friendsâ€¦you were all wearing yellow the last time at your faculty.â€
Stanley shrugged and sat up.
â€œIt was a co-incidence.â€
Onyinye continued to look into Stanleyâ€™s eyes. She saw nothing there except caution. Stanley was definitely hiding something from her. She decided to be more direct.
â€œOkay, let me ask you something.â€
â€œGo on,â€ Stanley said, shifting away from her and imitating her lotus sitting position.
â€œAre you a cultist?â€
His brows drawing together until they were almost touching, Stanley looked away from her. In that instant, Onyinye knew she had gotten her answer. A thousand thoughts ran through her mind as she looked at Stanleyâ€™s handsome profile. Images of a half unclad Stanley stomping and shrieking around a camp fire, his face drenched with blood mingled with her thoughts. The silence stretched into several minutes until Onyinye grew uncomfortable with it and made to leave the bed.
â€œWhere are you going?â€
Onyinye looked back to see Stanley holding on to her arm. Her heart began to pound in her ears. His expression still had the same stony quality and she imagined she heard a hint of menace in his words.
â€œI amâ€¦ermâ€¦going to my room.â€
Onyinyeâ€™s palms filled with perspiration.
â€œBecause I want to work on an assignment they gave us today.â€
Stanleyâ€™s grip grew tight. â€œStay.â€
Onyinye dared to shake her head.
Fingers settled under her chin and then she felt a pressure turn her towards Stanley. There was a smile on his face now. Onyinye found it difficult to respond to the smile.
â€œAre you scared of me?â€
Onyinye shook her head.
â€œSo why are you leaving then?â€
â€œI told you already.â€
Stanley sighed. â€œOkay fine, but hold on. I want to explain.â€
Onyinye sat and waited as Stanley began to tell her about his difficult early years and the friendship that led him to the lifestyle he had indirectly admitted to.
â€œItâ€™s not what you think it is though.â€
His smile turned teasing. â€œAre you still scared?â€
Onyinye did not know what answer to give. She just sat and watched different emotions flit across Stanleyâ€™s face and dealt with emotions of her own. He was a cultist. And she was in love with him.
Pero met Yemisi on the pavement of their faculty. She had tried to avoid her but Yemisiâ€™s greeting had been too loud and too effusive to ignore. She walked with a noticeable limp as she met Pero and playfully slapped the side of her left arm.
â€œO fimisile be. Ko da o!â€
Pero massaged her arm.
â€œMa binu. Lectures have been crazy. I barely have time for myself these days.â€
They stood and made small talk about lectures and timetables. They were soon distracted from their discussion by a group of classmates talking loudly among themselves. As the group stopped near them, Pero realized that the loud talking was actually a quarrel. Mirabel, a brash talking runs girl with an extremely light skin that exaggerated her less than average beauty was currently involved in a screaming match with Hakeem, a no nonsense young man with a permanent frown on his face who also happened to be their class rep.
â€œI shouldnâ€™t tell you what?â€ Mirabel half screamed, red lips pursed in fury as she attempted to break through the wall of bodies separating her from Hakeem. â€œWho do you even think you are sef. Ordinary class rep and you are feeling like one thing like that. If you come be president nko?â€
His right hand in his pocket and out of sight, Hakeem adjusted the bundle of papers in his left hand and sneered at Mirabel.
â€œHow am I even sure that you are a student? You are never in class.â€
Mirabel reached for the tortoise shell eyeglasses hanging from the round neckline of her floral print peplum top, pushed it over her eyes and lifted herself to a tip toe so that her face was only inches away from Hakeemâ€™s own.
â€œYou are an idiot you hear, idiot!â€
Pero looked to her right. A crowd made up of curious students had begun to gather at the gate of the faculty.
Hakeem made a face of disgust and stepped back to avoid the spray of spittle escaping Mirabelâ€™s mouth.
â€œI am sorry to disappoint you, but I am not going to exchange words with you.â€
â€œFool like you. I donâ€™t blame you. I blame whoever made you class rep. Outside this school, you cannot talk to me anyhow. No be your type.â€
Hakeem scoffed, â€œlike I talk to brain dead girls.â€
A good portion of the crowd that surrounded them broke into amused laughter. Mirabel eyed Hakeem, starting her appraisal from his sandaled feet to his blue native Danshiki until they rested on his face.
â€œI use people like you for house boy. I canâ€™t even do your type.â€
Hakeem cool demeanour slipped and his anger showed.
â€œI swear if you donâ€™t move away from me, you will hate yourself.â€
â€œWhat will you do ehn? What will you do?â€ Mirabel dared, chest thrusting out as she inched towards Hakeem again.
â€œDonâ€™t worry, you will see.â€
Pero stopped listening as Yemisi elbowed her in the ribs.
â€œI wish she can slap that small boy. See the kind of nonsense coming from his mouth.â€
The shriek from Mirabel stopped the reply forming on Peroâ€™s lips and she turned to find Mirabelâ€™s palm open and facing Hakeem.
â€œYour father, you hear. Mumu like you.â€
Turning on his heel and walking away with some of the crowd following him, Hakeem left Mirabel screaming obscenities at his retreating form. It wasnâ€™t long before one of the security men stationed at the other exit of the faculty walked over to Mirabel. The man wore a frown on his face.
â€œWhat is happening here?â€
Mirabel returned his frown, â€œnothing.â€
Then she turned and walked past him, chin held up and defiant. She passed Pero and Yemisi but the latter called her attention before she could complete her journey out of the faculty. The frown clearing from her face and a smile of recognition replacing it, she greeted Yemisi warmly. Pero hung in the background as the two girls hugged and flattered each otherâ€™s choice of garish clothing. They talked for a few minutes and then Yemisi sauntered back to Pero.
â€œYou know her club right?â€
Peroâ€™s eyes narrowed, â€œclub?â€
â€œYes,â€ Yemisi said with a nod, eyes going to the direction Mirabel had gone. She faced Pero again. â€œThe Islanderâ€™s club. They are all big girls there.â€
â€œAnd they all live on the Island?â€
Yemisiâ€™s brows furrowed. â€œI am not sure about the others but I know Mirabel lives in Obalende.â€
Yemisi became visibly excited.
â€œAnyway, guess what?â€
â€œShe invited me for a party this evening. She said they will be giving hundred k as thanks for coming.â€
She leaned closer to Pero and whispered.
â€œIt is a governorsâ€™ party. Some governors will be there.â€
Pero had heard rumours of runs girls attending such parties and leaving with huge amounts of money.
â€œWill you come?â€
Pero did not think twice. She shook her head.
â€œIt is that your boyfriend abi.â€
Pero nodded. â€œWe are going somewhere tomorrow.â€
Yemisiâ€™s lips turned downwards in a sneer.
â€œInstead of you to go where money is, you want to go and do osho free. I hope love will pay your bills.â€
Pero ignored Yemisiâ€™s taunt. She looked around at the scattered groups of conversing students and decided it was time to leave for the hostel. She said goodbye to Yemisi and rushed back to the hostel to keep the date with her boyfriend. Love would not pay her bills, but it was enough.
The bedroom was dark even though it was just five in the evening. On the bed, Eno was half lying, half sitting across Funsho as they kissed, her position showing the reluctance with which she had approached the kiss. Funsho was on his back but he didnâ€™t stay that way for long. As Enoâ€™s resistance melted away with every passing second, he changed position, moving her under his body and settling between her legs. Breaking the kiss, he kissed her ear and trailed down her neck, leaving love marks. Eno moaned as a tingling feeling moved through her body. Funsho pulled away to smile at her.
â€œI like the way you moan.â€
Eno smiled back.
Funsho ran his hand over her black T-shirt.
â€œWant to take this off?â€
Eno sat up slowly, hands moving to the hem of her shirt with reluctance. She was afraid and excited at the same time. She knew she was about to take a risk and yet she did not know how to stop. The shirt was over her head in the next second. Funsho looked at her C cup breasts, eyes filling with desire. The look in his eyes made Eno feel beautiful. His hand reached behind her back to unclip her bra.
They went back to kissing each other, hands feverishly seeking out their most secret parts. It went on for a while until they were almost unclad, Funsho stripped to his boxer shorts and Eno in nothing but her black panties. Somewhere between kissing her neck and kneading her right breast, Funsho stopped and drew up to look into her eyes.
â€œI like you.â€
Eno felt Funsho withdraw from her.Â Â She struggled with the sheets, pulling it up to cover her nakedness. Funsho lifted his body from hers to make her struggle easier. He settled back again, separated by the sheets from her body. He must have seen the regret in her eyes because he kissed her lightly on her lips.
â€œI am thinking there is no need to rush. What do you think?â€
Eno mumbled something incoherent and then cleared her throat.
â€œAnd ermâ€¦about my girlfriend, I donâ€™t have one.â€
Eno wanted to tell him that she knew about his dead girlfriend but she did not want him to think she had been discussing him with Joy.
There was a momentâ€™s silence and Eno thought she saw pain in his eyes but he blinked, a smile curling the corners of his lips.
â€œSo we have a long time to do this.â€
Eno thought about their first night together. It was odd that he suddenly wanted to take his time with her. She turned to her side as he dropped back to the bed and lay on his back.
â€œThe first nightâ€¦â€
â€œWhat about it?â€
Eno tucked her hair behind her ear and clasped her arms tightly against the sheets to keep it in place.
â€œYeah I know.â€
There was a momentâ€™s silence. Funsho stared deeply into her eyes.
â€œYou want to know the truth?â€
Eno nodded. â€œYes.â€
â€œBecause I thought you were you knowâ€¦.a runs girl.â€
Eno was not surprised by Funshoâ€™s revelation, but she wondered for a minute what Joy had told him about her. She made up her mind to ask Joy herself. They stayed in bed for long until the day ran into night and the place became completely dark. She was dressed in Funshoâ€™s T-shirt when Joy knocked on her door and told her it was time to go back to school. Funsho came to stand behind her, wrapping his arms possessively around her.
â€œShe is not leaving with you.â€
His tone was playful but Joy kept a stony expression as she stared at them from the threshold of the door. She turned serious eyes to Eno.
â€œYou are not leaving?â€
Funsho answered for Eno again. â€œNo, she is not.â€
Joy looked at Funsho.
â€œPlease let Eno answer.â€
And Eno did, echoing the same thing Funsho had told Joy, much to her surprise. She wanted to go with Joy but she realized how much she wanted to stay back with Funsho.
â€œOkay, if you are staying back, I will stay back too, but be ready tomorrow morning,â€ Joy said, sounding very maternal and annoyed. She turned away from the door and walked down the corridor to her boyfriendâ€™s room.
Later that night, Funsho persuaded Eno to go to the living room to watch a movie. They met Joy and Lekan there. As she settled into the space between Funshoâ€™s thighs, she saw the look on Joyâ€™s face. It wasnâ€™t a happy one.
Tola and Patricia sat for lunch at the Bungalow restaurant on Akin Adesola, Victoria Island. Patricia stopped finished the last of her steamed prawns and reached for the glass of orange juice. Tola was bent over his phone, fingers busy over the keypad. He realized that she had stopped eating after some minutes.
â€œSorry, she will be here soon.â€
They were also waiting for his secretary. Patricia wondered as she sipped from the straw how long they would wait before she turned up. She wanted to talk about their last misunderstanding. Beccaâ€™s words of advice still rang clear in her head.
He has problems expressing himself. Talk to him.
They had made up, passionate kiss after passionate kiss, but he continued to avoid the subject of his fatherâ€™s call.
â€œWe need to talk.â€
Tola looked up from his phone, a frown of concentration on his face.
â€œAbout the last time.â€
Tola hunched over his glass of white wine.
â€œMy dadâ€™s call?â€
Tola sighed. â€œYou just wonâ€™t let this go, wonâ€™t you?â€
Patricia leaned back into her seat.
â€œI just think it is better to talk about it.â€
â€œBecause I think we are having issuesâ€¦.â€
â€œWe talk Patricia.â€
â€œSometimes. Most times you just clam up.â€
Tola shook his head, a rueful smile on his face.
Patriciaâ€™s heart lifted with hope. She congratulated herself on her success with him and waited for him to start talking.
â€œSo are you ready?â€
â€œOkay, my dad doesnâ€™t like us together. He wants me with a family friend for some weird reason.â€
â€œI know,â€ Patricia said, nodding. â€œIt is because I am not from a rich home.â€
Tola looked into her eyes for a long time and then shrugged.
â€œSomething like that.â€
Patricia exhaled. â€œOkay. Who is this family friend?â€
Tola opened his mouth to answer but then, he lifted his eyes to the door of the restaurant and saw something that made him pause. Patricia turned in her seat. Two women were strolling towards them. She recognized Bisi, Tolaâ€™s secretary. The other was a tall half caste woman that looked oddly familiar. She saw Tola watching her closely when she turned back in her seat. She barely had time to understand the look on his face when the women arrived at their table. Tola stood up to receive the hand the half caste woman held out to him. They exchanged polite kisses and pulled away.
â€œNice to see you here,â€ the woman said, eyes moving to Patricia. She flashed a tight smile. â€œHi.â€
Patricia smiled back.
The woman ignored her after that. She pulled a seat from the next table and made herself comfortable at their table. Bisi did the same and completed the circle. For the next twenty minutes, Patricia sat and listened to a conversation that did not mean anything to her. Tola occasionally referred to her in an attempt to make her part of the conversation but the half caste woman always managed to steer the conversation to herself. Patricia breathed a sigh of relief when received a call from his driver.
â€œI have to be home now,â€ he told Bisi and the other woman when he ended the call.
Disappointment on her face, the woman stood up reluctantly with them. She exchanged another kiss with Tola again.
â€œWe should see one of these days.â€
Tola spared Patricia a brief glance before nodding.
â€œFor work,â€ the woman said to Patricia, attempting to joke but her smile was still not friendly. Then she faced Tola again.
â€œYour dad called with an idea. He wants us to work together on it.â€
Tola made a promise to call her and reached for Patriciaâ€™s hand. Patricia could not miss the narrowing of the womanâ€™s heavily lined eyes as they walked from the table.
Who was she?
She kept her curiousity to herself until Tola faced her ten minutes into their drive.
Tola nodded and honked at an aqua blue Toyota Camry driven by an old man wielding a mobile phone in his hand.
â€œYep. Tera Lewis. The one the blogger said I was dating.â€
Patricia realized why the woman had looked familiar, but she remained puzzled over the womanâ€™s apparent dislike for her.
â€œShe is the one my dad wants me to get married to,â€ Tola said, answering her thoughts again.
Patricia looked outside the window at the world that whizzed past. She remembered the womanâ€™s request for a meeting with Tola.
â€œYour dad wants you to work together.â€
â€œYes,â€ Tola said with a sigh. â€œHe is close to her father.â€
They said nothing to each other until they got to the front of Tolaâ€™s gate. As they waited for the gate to open, Tola turned to Patricia and said the most surprising thing.
â€œWhat if I asked you to marry me?â€
Pero was having a hard time sleeping. Her phone constantly beeped with Yemisiâ€™s messages. The latest one made the sleep clear from her eyes.
Ore I dey bathroom. These people want to kill someone. They are not even using condom sef.
She sat up in bed, careful not to wake her sleeping boyfriend. She quickly typed back a reply to Yemisi.
No condom? Why?
Yemisiâ€™s response came in seconds.
That is how they do it o! What is my own? Shebi it is money someone is looking for.
But what if they have HIV or AIDS?
HIV, AIDS for governor body? You too you know that is not possible.
Pero shook her head. Yemisi was lost to the world of runs. There was no way to help her.
YORUBA WORDS USED IN STORY
O fimi sile be. Ko da o. â€“ You left me alone. Itâ€™s not fair.
Ma binu â€“ Do not be angry.
Ore â€“ Friend