For some strange reason she began to recount what just happened in her head, remembering every tiny detail. The sweat on his brows, the little patch of sweat under his armpit, the way his tie hung askew on his neck and the freshly trimmed beard. She felt her stomach grumble and reached for her breakfast. She then lost her appetite after the first bite. Her office suddenly felt hot and she had to increase the air conditioning. Her palms became sweaty. She dropped her head on her table and mumbled “why is this happening?” She could hear the janitor working along the corridor. She was too disoriented to concentrate on anything work and decided to go through her facebook timeline to distract herself from the thoughts running through her head. The morning went on in a blur.
She decided to have lunch in a restaurant next door as opposed to her regular habit of eating in. She needed a breathe of fresh air. She walked in and picked a corner at the end of the restaurant so as to get a good view of what was going on around. She ordered ofada rice with grilled chicken and a bottle of water. She was halfway into the meal when she saw a familiar figure walk in. She almost choked on the pepper and had to take a quick gulp of water. She avoided looking his way, hoping he wouldn’t see her. But it was too late, their eyes met and he began to approach her table.
“Dunni” he said with a big smile.
“Tade” she responded, forcing a smile.
“Quite a surprise to see you here”
“I know right?” “Please, please don’t sit” she pleaded in her head.
“May I?” he said pointing to the empty seat across her her.
“Sure”. “Damn.” She thought.
“So what pulled you out of your office today?” It was no news that she enjoyed the comfort of her office space to anywhere else. She noticed he was no longer wearing his tie and had loosened the first two buttons on his shirt. She watched as a drop of sweat rolled from his neck down the shirt.
“Oh? Yeah. Just wanted a change of scenery”
“Why are you playing with your food? Is something wrong?” He nodded towards her plate.
“Oh, sorry” she exclaimed. She had no idea she had been twirling her fork in her plate.
Tade laughed. “Apologize to the food not me”.
She forced a smile and gulped some spit. She wanted to pinch herself.
” So, what brings you here?”
“I came to get some iced tea. It’s pretty hot out there today”
“Sure” she said, spooning rice into her mouth and spilling some in the process.
“Are you sure you are alright? You seem a bit clumsy today. Are you stressed out?” Tade said after the waitress served him his tea and was far from hearing distance.
” You need a vacation”
She laughed. “Says the one who is the first to get to work and the last to leave. I will go for one after you have gone for five”.
Tade laughed. ” Thanks for this morning. You really saved my behind ”
“Anytime”. She observed he had finished the iced tea in one gulp and didn’t seem to want to leave. She pretended to look at the time.
“I should get back to work”. She called the attention of the waitress, asking her to put the rest of the meal in a pack. Serving justice to her juicy piece of chicken will be uncomfortable with Tade staring in her face.
” So, how did the meeting go?”
He scoffed, “Those alaroro people? You need to see them slicing our budget like Thanksgiving turkey. We had to turn the job down.
She smiled, “It happens. But they know we are the best for this job. They will be back.”
He sighed, “I really hope so. I need the commission from that contract now more than ever”.
Adunni felt her heart flutter in her chest. She had almost forgotten Tade proposed to his girlfriend over the weekend and was making plans for the introduction already. Matter of fact, she introduced Tade to the lady who planned the whole thing. She still couldn’t understand what was happening to her. She looked at Tade and smiled.
” You will be fine “. She paid her bill, tipped the waitress and stepped out ahead of him.
That night, she couldn’t sleep. She kept running things over and over in her head. She had worked with Tade for about 5 months and had liked him from the first day she set her eyes on him. He was a fine man. Her hopes were dashed when she found out he was taken. She did a good job building up walls around her feelings but those walls came crashing down that morning.
Three weeks later, Tade had his introduction and she was unfortunate to get invited. She looked for every excuse in the book not to attend but it was futile. She had to put on her best face game for the occasion. She tried to avoid crossing paths with him at the office, she even stopped showing up very early for work. Time passed and nothing much changed. This particular morning, they were both riding down in the elevator after a brief meeting with the creative director. In order to avoid awkward silence, she asked, ” How’s the fiancee?”
“She’s fine. She’s settling in quite alright”. She had found out he proposed and rushed the introduction because she was leaving the country for a year long course. She understood his fears. The elevator stopped and they walked out, heading to their respective offices. She stepped into her office and….(to be continued)
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