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Little black book  - Season 1 - Episode 8
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Source: coolval22
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Finale

****


I once told you I was not a quitter. I screw up or get screwed, I stay. One does not just exercise their license to run away from every situation at a whim. One has to be an adult and weather the storm no matter how harsh, or one would be without a job.

Well, that was so not me. I had not stayed. I had run, tail between my legs, with no intention of returning. To hell with the job, I told myself. I would find something soon. It may not pay as much or boast of all the benefits I was getting at the time but it would be way better than being stuck in a situation where I had to watch the man I loved expend his love on someone else.

I packed my things that evening, called my brother and told him I was coming home. He didn’t ask any questions. He didn’t do too well with crying human beings. Next, I called my cabbie. He told me he wasn’t close; he would be there in an hour to pick me up.

And so I waited, phone in hand, butt on the floor, knees drawn up. My little apartment seemed as sad as I was. The walls had witnessed me being loved by the man they had watched me fantasize about on many nights. The sadness in me had somehow bled out and affected everything around me. Even the floor beneath me was uncharacteristically cold…or maybe I was catching a fever from all the crying. I felt drained. I was abandoned. I needed someone to lay all my burdens on… I needed Lola.


I picked up my phone and dialed her number. She answered on first ring.


“Anna Banana!” she yelled. “This one you called me today. I hope you sha have hot gist for me because my evening is dull. Me and my oga had a fight and he’s in the parlor sulking while I’m forming my own vex in the room. How are you, sha? How is work? Your oga nko? Shey everything is cool between you guys? I even owe you a visit sef. I’ve not just had time. Zara wants to kill person with work.”


She said all of that in one breath. Somehow it made me smile.
“Ha. This one you’re quiet like this, hope you’re alright, aunty? Talk to Lola.”
It took me a moment to put my thoughts together. I spoke to her in breaks, talking and crying, crying and talking. I blubbered a lot but she understood every word I said.


“Clean your tears, banana babe. And stay there. I want to see how I’ll steal this yeye boy’s car key and drive over to your place. I’m coming with wine and chocolate and my Alanis Morissette CD.”

I felt slightly better after the call but the tears didn’t leave. My head kept on replaying the embarrassing moment at my boss’ suite. How many times would I fall flat on my face before the man?

I took a pillow and la!d it on the floor to rest my head on. Lola came some thirty minutes later, barging in like the crowd she was. The first thing she did upon entry was to give me this long, comforting hug. After which she began to play Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album. She had wine, I had the chocolate, we talked about my love life.


“I have to be honest with you, Anna Banana, it’s time to move on. I’m not saying you should leave. Just pack your emotions and get the hell out of his life, or he’ll keep hurting you. But retain your job…”
“I can’t handle that.”
“You can and you will, Anna. It’s going to be hard but you have to do it.”

“When I first heard about his girlfriend, I told myself that their relationship wasn’t going to affect me. In fact, I was in denial until I saw her. That was when it occurred to me that it was really over for us.”

“That’s why I said you should move on. Anna, you will get a guy. In short, my cousin who just got back from the states is single and wants to start dating…”
“I’m not interested,” I answered tersely, nibbling on a nugget of white chocolate.
“Whatever. Just concentrate your energy elsewhere. The man is not yours. Keep your relationship with him on a professional level.”
At that point, I felt I needed some wine. Her advice had sunk in. I would keep the job but keep the man out of my life and pants.

Lola passed the bottle of wine to me and popped open another one. The cabbie called, I told him my plans had changed. Lola and I drank wine and talked about men and our jobs. The night wore on. Her boyfriend called her six times. She didn’t take his calls. She fell asleep slantways on my bed, her head hanging off on one end. I took the couch and snuggled in. The walls were still sad. I was still heartbroken.


***********


Months sped by. Lola’s cousin, Sheriff, turned out to be great. Our first date was at the stadium where one of my brothers was playing a game of football with his team. Sheriff could hardly get my attention that day but I got all of his. Later on, he told me he hadn’t seen a girl who loved football so much. It turned out the boyish side of me came out on that date, even though I was donning a short, floral dress and a pair of fancy wedge sandals. Sheriff loved the mix. His kind of girl, he said. He kissed me in the back of the cab on our way to my place. I tried hard not to compare his lips to my boss’ but I did. I wouldn’t say Sheriff didn’t meet up to expectation. He was good. He just wasn’t him.
Sheriff and I started dating a week later. After our second kiss. He was a tall, athletic guy who once played basketball in college but left the team after a knee injury. Now, he used his spare time coaching teenage boys at the stadium. During the week, he worked with an IT firm. We connected on an intellectual level. He often wondered what I was doing in the hospitality business. Many times he offered me a job in his office but I declined. I treasured what I was doing because the man my heart once loved was part of it.
I saw him every day – le boss. He was still in love with her, still sent her flowers, still spent long hours on the phone with her. It stung every time but I always had Sheriff whose arms I would crawl into and forget my pain.
I met his family after dating him for five months. His dad and mom loved me. Before I left the house I was renamed iyawo. Each time I was called that, Sheriff smiled. That night we spoke about marriage for the first time. I didn’t like the conversation. We had a fight about it. I slept in my own apartment. Sheriff didn’t bring up the issue again until I took him home to my family.
“When will you two get married?” my eldest brother threw in unexpectedly.
The question was his way of saying he and the others liked Sheriff.
“We’re not thinking about marriage now,” I answered.
“Maybe you should, Anna. You’re almost thirty.”

Sheriff rested his hand on my knee to calm me. We revisited the topic that night at my place. Sheriff scratched his well-trimmed beard as I spoke. I told him I wasn’t ready, not even in the next two years.
“What are we doing with each other, then?”
I felt pressured by him. Suddenly the air began to choke me. I told him I was taking a walk. I hurried out and hopped into a cab instead. I ended up in the office. It was dark and empty – or so I thought – until I heard laughter coming from my boss’ office, the unmistakable voice of his girlfriend. I heard kisses too. One would think that after that last time, I’d give them their privacy. No, I stayed, and heard them make love.
“Sunshine, you know how I feel about you, right?” He asked after they were through. She had laughed and said nothing in reply. “I’m going crazy here.”
That was when I felt I had had enough. I quietly left the office and went back home to Sheriff. I found him asleep, clutching a book, mouth slightly open.

He was handsome. He was successful. He loved me. What else was I looking for? Why chase after the wind?

I decided right there that I was going to invest all my emotions on him. I wasn’t ready for marriage but I was ready to finally fall in love with someone else.

I kissed his parted lips and he stirred.
“Anna?” He looked at me through shaded eyes and pulled me close. “I’m sorry about the marriage talk.”
“It’s okay, baby.”
He chuckled in a tired tone. “She called me baby. Yay.”
“Go to sleep, jare.”
“Can I sleep with you, instead?”
We made love intensely. I put my heart into it, and for the first time since knowing him intimately, I didn’t fantasize about my boss during the act. It was all me and Sheriff.
The days that followed were best described as amazing. We entered a different phase of our relationship as I fell in love with him. Even the secretary noticed something was different. She asked me why I was always smiling.
“Nothing,” I replied with giggles.
I spoke with Sheriff every chance I got. We never ran out of ‘I love yous’ to say to each other. On one of such endearing moments over the phone, my boss walked by with a knowing smile. Later on, while we rode to some event on the outskirts of town, he asked me how Sheriff was doing.

“How did you know his name?” I threw back. He smiled.
“I do hope he’s treating you right, though, because if he isn’t…”
“He is.”
“He’d better be.”
I was flattered but I noticed a certain quietness about him. He had come off as reserved over the past couple of days.
“Are you okay, sir?” I looked into his face. He looked back.

“I’m fine, Anna.”
His eyes said otherwise.
“Thanks for asking.”
I didn’t inquire again, even though the quietness lingered. I faced my life with Sheriff. He was busy a lot then, swamped under work. But he always found a way to make out time for me. We spent the weekends together; his week days belonged to his job and family. I didn’t mind. He always made up for missed time. He was the sweetest boyfriend ever. It seemed I had finally found my happiness.
But not quite. Not yet. I stumbled across a used condom under Sheriff’s bed on a Saturday, while searching for an earring that had fallen over the bed post. Sheriff had gone out to buy lunch and returned to find me holding out the condom by a finger. The look of guilt on his face saved me time on whatever he had to say. Nonetheless, I allowed him defend himself.
“It’s an old one, baby,” he explained.
“We stopped using condoms three months ago.”
“It’s probably been there for the longest time.”
“This is fresh, Sheriff. Most likely yesterday. I swept under this bed last weekend and this wasn’t there.”
“You must have missed it.”
“Sheriff, don’t lie to me.”
“I am not lying, Anna.”
He came to me, arms already stretched out to hold me. I moved back.


“You think I’m cheating on you, Anna?”
“You tell me.”
“I am not.”
“Then explain this.”
He began to say something, then stopped, looked into the air in thought and burst out laughing.
“My colleague and his girlfriend slept over two days ago. I took the other room.”
“Why didn’t they use the other room?”
“The AC there is bad. You know that.”
I didn’t believe him. He called the colleague in question, put him on speakerphone and asked him to explain to me that he had slept over with his girlfriend two nights ago. The guy confirmed his claims. Only then did I let the matter go. We had a quiet lunch with me lost in my thoughts. I knew Sheriff was lying to me.
Four days later, in the dead of night while normal humans were asleep, I sat in the back of a cab and watched as a girl wearing a short dress stepped out of a yellow cab outside Sheriff’s home. I waited until I was certain they were deep into their fornication. I let myself into the house with my own key.
The girl was on all fours. Sheriff was banging her brains out. They didn’t see me. I took a picture and left the house. I sent the picture to him and broke up via BBM. I didn’t take his calls the next day. I didn’t tell Lola. I didn’t cry.
Office hours dragged on forever but I had no desire to go home. I stayed back after everyone was gone. Only then did I let the tears out. I was deep into my pain when my boss walked in. He turned on the lights and stood watching me with worried eyes.
“He cheated, didn’t he?”
I was too broken to reply. The man walked over and pulled me up. He didn’t hug me. Rather, he led me to his suite where he fixed me a cup of hot chocolate that brought strange calm to my emotions.
“I laced it with something,” he confessed. “I need you to forget what happened.”
We sat in his living room, listening to the radio. His girlfriend was doing her nightly show. She was doing her magic of healing to broken hearts with her words. I sought for tears to expel my pain. I didn’t find any. Whatever my boss gave me seemed to work. Soon we were laughing over inconsequential stuff that I wouldn’t normally find funny. I realized after an hour, that I was high. But it was a good high. I felt in control.
“Heartbreak is a b---h,” he said. I saw the quietness I had noticed in him return.
“She cheated on you too?” I dared to ask.
“Not really. She just can’t commit.” He laughed silently. “Isn’t that ironic? She’s the female version of me without the whoring around. She just cannot commit. All she wants from me is a baby. Imagine that.”


He left his seat for a glass of brandy. When he returned I was chomping on peanuts from a bottle.

“I’m just a d---o to her.” He had a taste of his drink. “I feel used, small, inconsequential.”
I threw my head back in laughter. It was probably the high but the irony of his situation was thick.


“Yeah, Anna, laugh. I’m the one being played now. The merry jack in the box has found a box that has no strings attached. She swallows me and spits me out whenever she likes and every time, I’ll take her back, yapping up to her like her little, lost puppy. But she gives it to me good, Anna. Every bleeping time.”


The humor left me just as it came. I sat there watching him. He was hurting.

“I love her. I love that woman to death. I am obsessed. Have you ever felt that way before?”
His question threw me back into the past when what I felt for him had been strong. I still felt it but I had mastered it and dumped it somewhere. Now I feared that it would return with a stronger force.


“Yes, I have,” I gave his question an answer. “I’ve loved like that before. In fact, I still do.”
“Do you want to be cured of it?”
I shook my head, no.
“Me neither.”


He drank his liquor. I watched him. Something about the way he looked that night brought back old memories. Or maybe it was the dim lighting over grey and blue décor that gave off the feeling of ardor. Or perhaps I was just high and stupid. Whatever it was, it told me to leave my seat and walk to him.

I did.

It then told me to put my arms around him.
I did.


Finally, it said to me, ‘kiss him, Anna’.
I did.

And then the voice vanished, abandoning me to the whims of my boss, who never saw an offering presented to him willingly and passed up on it.

He chugged down his drink and kissed the common sense out of my life. Old feelings returned in a rush as he held my body and reminded me of why I could never let go. We made love on one of the sofas, and then we moved to the spare bedroom, and stayed there until morning.


Daylight came quickly and as the sun rose, he held me in his arms.
“You mean so much to me, Anna. You have no idea. You know parts of me that nobody else does.”


That much was true. I knew his crap. I had seen him at his worst, at moments that she could never share with him. I took him as he was; the good, the bad and the dirty. I loved him that way. It was a shame that she played with his heart.
“I’m never letting you go,” he whispered and began to kiss me.


That morning, we both arrived at work late. Sheriff was waiting when I entered the office. He made quite a scene begging me on his knees. I didn’t give in. My boss called security to throw him out when he wouldn’t leave. I observed the scene in sadness, watching how months of invested emotions and body parts came to nothing.


Shortly after he was gone, Lola called. I thought she wanted to plead on his behalf but she was telling a different story.
“The girl is his ex. I’m glad you dumped his a-s. Good riddance.”


I didn’t tell her what I did the night before. She hurried off the phone to attend to Zara. She told me she would visit after work.



I closed at normal closing hours and took the staff bus home, listening to my colleagues talk about the wave of terrorism spreading around the world as I had flashes of the previous night. The bus dropped me on a street next mine and I walked home leisurely. When I got to my building, I saw a brand new car with a ribbon on it parked outside. I concluded it was one of my neighbors surprising his wife with a birthday gift but it was I who got the surprise when my boss’ chauffer stepped out of the car and walked to me with an envelope.

“For me?” I asked awkwardly. He didn’t respond. I opened it and took out a plain card with a handwritten note.


For sexual healing. For helping me cope.
You’re for keeps, Anna. I want you exclusively.
I could hardly believe what I had just read. For real?!

“For real?” I asked out loud. The chauffer, of course, carried that condescending look in his eyes he always had for me but I didn’t care. Look who’s the boss now. I wanted so badly to scream out loud. Excitement was a mild word.
I glared at the car. It was as real as the pavement on which it was parked. My first car ever! And I didn’t even know how to drive. Given to me by my man. My man.


“But there’s a clause,” he said to me on the phone later that evening. “We don’t go public yet. We remain as we are. I, the boss, and you, my assistant.”
“Sure, sir.”
“Say my name, Anna. Say it the way you say it when I’m between your legs.”
I laughed and called out his name.
“I’ll talk to you later.”

He hung up. I lay in bed, still as a rock but tumbling in excitement. However, I had questions. How was this exclusivity supposed to work? What did it even mean? Had he totally let go of her?

It took a couple of weeks for the high to fade and for me to realize what his words actually meant. He treated me as he said he would during office hours. Nothing changed in our working relationship. But sadly, the same treatment carried on after office hours. He never called, not even to say hi. At the start, I took it in stride but after a long stretch of silence, I became worried.

Another week passed and only then did I realize that he had gone back to her. I caught them making out in his office on a Sunday morning when I stopped by to pick my laptop. He hadn’t been perturbed when I walked in on them.
“Hi, Anna,” he called with a smile.


I apologized for barging in and left. He didn’t call to explain why he was still with her. I spent the night with tear-filled eyes.
“Why not pick your phone and call him, aunty?” Lola suggested.
“I’m scared of what he’ll tell me. Maybe he’s changed his mind about us and gone back to her.”


“Just call him and let him give you a proper definition of what you people have. You deserve more than he’s giving you.”
“Fine. I’ll do that.”

But I didn’t. Rather, I maintained the current situation, waiting to see how things would turn out. He cut short my wait, however, when one day, he rang and asked me over for dinner and drinks. We sat out at his balcony, taking in the view of city lights while we dined. The radio was playing like the last time. His girlfriend was on air. She was talking about one-sided love, and how hard it was for some people to simply let go and love the person who loves them dearly. She explained how scared they were of losing control of their hearts and have it broken in the end.

His face at some point, while we listened to her, turned icy. He went into the bedroom and changed the radio station to something that was more upbeat. I poured him a glass of wine and he stood resting on the railing, looking out into the night.

“Come, Anna.” He stretched out his hand.
I went to him. He stood behind me and clasped me tightly. The air was cool as were his lips on my neck. We stayed that way for a long spell until a P-Square song off their Invasion album began playing.


“I love this song,” he whispered. “You want to dance?”
“No.”
“You’ll dance, anyway.”

Holding me, he moved to the beat of the music and somewhere in the middle, he sang along.
“And I swear, if you are my girl, I’ll take you round the world. I’ll take you places where you’ve never, ever been before. So give me your hand…”

I fell into rhythm.
“I’m giving you my world,” he sang on. “I promise I’ll be loving you forever and ever. I’ll love you forever. I’m giving you my world.”
“I like it,” I caroled in response. “I really, really like it.”
“If you are my girl, I’ll take you round the world.”
“I like it. I really, really like it.”
“You know I’ll love you forever. I’ll please you forever. I’ll kiss you forever.”
And then it struck me, right there, from nowhere, that he wasn’t actually singing to me. He was singing to her. The words did not apply to me. He didn’t want to love me forever or give me his world. He just wanted me in one little part of it. The part where he could run to whenever she walked away. I was always going to be his little, side project. She would wear his ring and have his kids and bear his name while I made his coffee, organized his life and gave him sexual healing.
I was a mistress! Plain and simple! What on earth had I been thinking?
I wriggled out of his hold and went for my handbag.
“Where are you going?” he asked, surprised.
“I’m going home,” I told him.
“Why?”
“Because I can’t do this – this thing we’re deceiving ourselves that we’re doing here. I can’t. You don’t love me, you love her. She doesn’t love you, she loves someone or something else. But it’s neither of you who suffer. It’s me. I’ll always have to wait for you to need me when she doesn’t need you. And I don’t want to do that. I want to be needed as much as she’s needed and as much as I need you. If you can’t give me that, I’m sorry. This can’t work.”
I started out and he stopped me.
“Please, don’t complicate this,” I begged him. “Just let me go.”
“Sit down, Anna. Let’s talk.”
I hesitated. He held me and sat, pinning me down on his laps.
“When I told you I wanted us to be exclusive, I wasn’t lying. I meant it. I want you, Anna, and not just for flings. I need you in my life. Only you understand me. Only you really know me. Yes, I love her and I desperately want to own her but it doesn’t lessen what we have…”
“How can you say that?”
“It is what it is, Anna. You’re stuck in my world. I can never erase you from it. If you go, you’ll break my heart. And God knows I can’t stand to watch another man hurt you again. Please, stay. Don’t go away.”



I swung my head from left to right countless times. I didn’t want to listen to him. He was working his magic into my head. Soon he would kiss and I would melt again.


I pulled out of his clutch and dashed out as fast as I could, shutting my ears to the sound of my name on his lips. The floor of the elevator could hardly take my wobbly feet. I broke under the weight of my decision.


“You deserve better, Anna,” Lola’s words re-echoed but I didn’t agree with her. The man was the best I ever had and I wasn’t looking for a replacement. I was simply going pulling out of the present situation to assess my position and then decide on what next I wanted.


I planned to keep the job, the car, the apartment – and of course, him too. But you see, he had to come back with a better offer than what he was already giving me
The old Anna who was naïve and blindly in love with him wanted me to go back there and take what was he was offering. But I had been through a lot in his arms to ask for less.




The End

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