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Saturday, 2 July 2016

Dangerous Glance (1) ebony


  ***


Dele Benjamin saw her smile at him across the room. He should have looked away but

he didn’t. In a split second, he took in her soft homely ebony beauty, her beautiful figure and the braids she wore so elegantly.

He didn’t know her name but became pleasurably aware of her. However he wasn’t going to do anything about it because he was happily married, content and loved his wife dearly. 

He had been married for three years and had never once thought of having an affair; he wasn’t about to start now.

He left the restaurant and went back to work. But surprisingly, as he lay beside his wife that night, thoughts of Ebony attacked and penetrated his peace. That smile, those braids, the pretty face, the slim waist! 

Stacy, his wife, had been slim once, with a proper hour-glass figure. But that was some time ago; way before they had their two wonderful kids. He indulged himself and let the thoughts roll. Finally, he slept off with a happy smile on his face.

***

Two weeks later, he sat at an empty table at the same restaurant enjoying a plate of steamed white rice and plantain. A shadow fell across his meal. “Hope you don’t mind if I join you?” she asked in a most sonorous voice.

Ebony.

He couldn’t say no. He revelled in their short chat, during which he learnt her name was Omowunmi. He wished he could prolong the lunch hour.

A month later, they had dinner together. If she had been a hunter, clingy, or demanding in any way, he would have found it easy to resist the attraction. 

But she was nice, selfless, submissive and pleasant; and he often wondered if she was innocent.

During the next three months, he spent all of his free time with her. It was like a dream. He loved his wife but he craved Omowunmi’s company. An expensive indulgence; but he allowed himself to enjoy it.

Then one day she confronted him. She was pregnant. It was a mistake. She wanted an abortion. Could he please give her some money so she could do it at a professional hospital? That was a big problem. 

He had always preached that –abortion is a sin against God. What was he going to do?

At that moment, his thoughts were suddenly with his wife. 

He loved her deeply and didn’t want anything to come between them, ever! How would she take this? She must never get to know.

The sensual memories of the past three months instantly faded. He held his head in his hands. He remembered his mother’s favourite admonition- “Don’t sniff at anything you know you don’t want to eat.”

How he wished that three months ago, he had just looked away!

His phone rang as he sat at dinner with his family that evening. He picked it up and his code name for her – EBONY, appeared. The sight of those five letters made his heart quicken and his hands tremble. This must be urgent; he had warned her never to call him at home.

“Hello, who is this?” He pretended not to know.

“Sweetheart, it’s me. I feel so alone and desperate. What do I do? This baby grows by the minute and you are not doing anything?”

He stole a sideways glance at his wife. God forbid that she even knows about this conversation. He had to find a way to settle Omowunmi and permanently cover his silly recklessness.

“I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll give you a feedback then.”

“Make sure you do.” She dropped the call before he could blink.

His heart pumped harder as his wife asked ever so casually, “Who was that?”

“Nothing. It’s official.” He picked up his glass of water and drank long and hard. 

The next day at her home, she gave him an ultimatum. “I’m not taking this any longer. I don’t like the way you are taking me for a ride. You either give me enough money to have an abortion in a proper hospital or,” she paused, “ .... you marry me.”

The accumulated apprehension of the last few days erupted in his throat as croaky laughter. “Marry... what? You must be joking.”

She eyed him and sneered. “It’s not marry, what! It’s marry me.”

“Don’t even think about that. It’s not possible. I love my wife, I love my kids, I am not going to disrupt their lives because of my foolishness. No way! Get that idea out of your mind.”

“The idea doesn’t sound evil to me, but if you think it is, well – no problem. I will not argue with that. It just makes things much simpler – give me two hundred and fifty thousand for an abortion and we part ways.”

He was silent for a while. “I can’t do that either. I believe abortion is murder.”

It was her turn to laugh. “My dear lover, you are an intelligent man and that is why I respect you. You must know that you can’t eat your cake and still have it. 

Even the bible you profess to read and believe in says, ‘Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?’ Just listen to yourself, you are not making sense at all...”

He wondered about her quoting from the scriptures but then he had to make her see things from his point of view. He was a Christian and he couldn’t do an abortion. There were many reasons why he couldn’t marry her as a second wife. 

In spite of his indiscretions he really loved his wife. What madness had made him have this affair? And now he didn’t even care for this woman anymore.

He lifted his head and looked straight at her. “Look this is what we will do. You will have the baby. I will take care of you and the child. I will pay for your rent, school fees, hospital bills, and upkeep, anything you want. All I ask in return is your discretion.”

She pursed her lips and slapped her chest. “Me? No way! I won’t mortgage my future for you or anyone. Who will marry me if I have a child and keep its away-father perpetually in tow. 

You are happily married, what makes you think I too don’t deserve a home someday soon. Abortion or marriage and that is final.”

He was confused. He had not bargained for this; all he had wanted was a little spice. There and then, he took a decision. He knew what he must do next.

***

Stacy rolled over onto her belly and held his face between her hands. The morning light was just beginning to seep into the room from behind the curtains.

“Wake up, sleepy head.”

Dele had barely slept a wink all night. But he opened his eyes slowly so she wouldn’t guess.

“Huun...What’s up?”

“Happy anniversary, Sweetheart. I just want you to know how much I appreciate having someone like you. I’ve been thinking all this last week and I can’t thank God enough for you and for your love. You make my life so complete; if I had to choose

again and again; I would still marry you. 

Today, even after four years I still feel the same love and attraction that I felt when we first met. And I know that by the Grace of God, the next ten years will be even sweeter.”

Dele’s heart was heavy. This woman didn’t know how much he did not deserve her. He wrapped his hands around her and pulled her head on to his chest. Guilt prevented him from knowing how to respond. 

All he could do was to let the tears flow. What had he done? It was his wedding anniversary and he had allowed a mere shadow of lust to eclipse what should have been a great celebration.

She heard his sob and sat up abruptly. “Dele?”

Slowly he sat up too.

“What’s wrong?”

The deep concern in her eyes made him pull himself together. He wiped his face with the edge of the bedsheet. “It’s nothing, I just feel so blessed to have you in my life too. I love you.”

She relaxed and smiled. “I love you too Babe.” She poked a finger in his chest. “Now where are we going today? Me thinks a candlelight dinner at THE SPADE this evening; and then when we get back home....” She winked.

His heart was heavier still. He knew what exactly she meant but all he could manage in return was a half smile.

***

On Saturday morning, Dele parked his car in front of her flat and dialled her number.

“Hi. I’m downstairs. Please come.”

Within a minute she was walking towards him in a long casual T-shirt over black leggings, her braids unbrushed and tousled over one side of her face. Her cheeks looked a little plump, or was that his imagination? The girl was absolutely lovely; who would blame any man for falling for her?

But then he wasn’t just any man. He was a Christian man with values, with a wife who loved him with a passion. He was different and shouldn’t have fallen.

Was he about to do the right thing? He knew the answer to that but then he didn’t have an option.

Or did he? Maybe he did? But one thing he didn’t have was time. If her cheeks got any plumpier then it would be too late.

“Good morning,” she said, standing before him, arms crossed.

He exited and handed her a brown envelope. “Here; two hundred and fifty thousand naira."

Her face fell. She hesitated before she took it and turned it over, it was sealed. A hint of pain crossed her lips before she started to walk away.

“Just a minute.”

She paused and made a full turn.

“I’ve kept my side of the bargain and now I don’t want to hear from you again.”

Those eyes, they were so expressive. Bitter sadness quickly turned to hatred. Her voice was soft as she lifted her face to him.

“Shame on you Dele! All those long evenings you spent, sweating all over me; I guess that is a bargain. I was the one who sold myself cheap, you didn’t have to cough out a dime. But what surprises me is how you can call yourself a Christian."

Don’t deceive yourself, you are not; you are just a brazen hypocrite! And you know, it’s interesting that abortion for you is a sin, only when it concerns others, not when you need it to save face.”

She eyed him from head to toe then walked away.

Her words hit home and he broke out in an uncomfortable sweat. But at least the problem was sorted out. Now he was free. As he drove home, he made a solemn promise to God, “Never again. I’m so sorry.”

To be continued

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