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Alex’s eyes ached as he saw Lola. There could only be one reason why she would be at the bar. It had to be George. He took a deep breath and gathered his steps with courage as he approached his wife. She didn’t take her gaze off him. She just stared. The Lola he knew would be slightly nervous. This one wasn’t. She just watched him as he took what might be the longest steps of his life towards her. “Hi.” He said lamely as he stared at her. Yes, ‘Hi’. They had now become the ‘Hello…Hi’ couple. It’s funny how a lot can change due to one person’s carelessness. “What…What do you want here?” he asked.
Lola raised an eyebrow. “The last time I checked, I was the music aficionado, not you.”
“On a Friday?” he probed as he slipped one hand into his pocket.
Lola sighed. “What do you want, Alex?”
What did he want? It was Lola he wanted. Could he have her? That…he didn’t know. Alex knew he didn’t have much to do at the bar anymore. He took one glance at Doubra and then walked out of the bar.
Lola’s heart skipped as though Alex had literally walked out of it. Her cold eyes held fear for a moment as she turned around after Alex. She took a deep breath as she watched him walk away and finally out of sight. She turned around as Jude cleared his throat. “Hi.”
“How are you doing, Ma’am?” Jude asked.
She stared at him with some disdain. “Good.”
“Of course, it was a pleasure running into you, here. Nice bar.” He added and walked out.
Doubra took a deep breath as Lola focused on the exit. Nothing had gone according to what they had planned. She reached for Lola’s shoulder. “Hey.”
“Huh?” Lola asked, probably stoned out by all that had just happened.
“I think we should leave.” Doubra said.
Lola nodded numbly and walked out with her friend.
George sighed as he freed himself from Bode’s grip. “Are you happy now?”
“What? You think I was going to let you go and meet her right there?” Bode asked.
George took a seat. “Maybe I just her lost her forever.”
“Maybe not…but, I think there is a lot of drama going on here and it sure is something that you do not want to be part of.” Bode replied.
George stared at him. “What drama?”
“They didn’t look very much like the happy couple, did they?” Bode asked. “I don’t think you want to be that guy.”
“What guy?” George asked.
Bode stared at her. “The guy who brings everything all crashing down.”
Bode nodded. “I get it. She’s hot and you liked the lady before you knew who she was, but if there is any unhealthy drama between couples, back off. What would be would be.”
George blinked. Bode was right but his heart wouldn’t stop still. “I’d be a coward to give up.”
“And you’d be worthless to go after her.” Bode replied.
George stared at him. “Bode?”
“Maybe not worthless…but irresponsible.” Bode replied with a faint smile.
George wrestled with his thought as he drummed his fingers on the table.
“I get it…you like her, but brother, don’t go after her.” Bode added.
George stared at him. “She came here for a reason.”
“Yes…and don’t even start thinking that she came here for you.” Bode retorted.
George was confident that she did. “She came here for me, Bode. I believe it.”
“You know who I think came here for you?” Bode asked. “Her husband and his pal. They would have broken you into pieces if not for that little distraction. Take my advice, buddy. Run when you still have legs.” He concluded and poured himself a drink. “Free scotch?”
George stared at him. “Since when did it become your right to have free scotch?”
“I have one glass per day. We could share mine.” Bode added with a smile. “Think about what I have just told you. You don’t want to be that guy, man.”
George turned away as he sighed. “I want her.”
“Yes…we all want the best…but we all can’t have it.” Bode replied with a smirk.
George smiled. “I won’t settle for less.”
“Are you taking up a challenge with her husband? Be wise. There are a lot of things he knows about her that you would never know.” He replied.
“I saw her eyes that day…she was sad. Something is wrong with that marriage. She is hurt.” George protested.
“And it is not your place to step in. Besides, they will fix it.” Bode replied.
George relaxed in his seat. “I am not sure I can let her go easily.”
“Dude, she is not yours. You like her, but you can’t have her. Let’s do something, why don’t you treat it like a celebrity crush? You know? I am crazy about Genevieve Nnaji, but I am quite realistic that I won’t have her…so I am not going to kill myself over what I can’t have. Treat it like that.” Bode said with a smile.
George looked away. He wasn’t sure he could treat his feelings like that…it might have been a crush initially but it was blowing out of proportion and faster than he could hold it back in. The lady he cared about was also in his reach, why would he look away?
“George, I know it’s hard to look away but when the woman is not yours, she is not yours. You are just going to keep trying but you’d never own her and even if there’s drama in that marriage, it might be resolved or it may never be…but when you have to compete with a real man that wears suits like that, you need to bring something more than your heart to the table.” Bode said and chuckled.
George frowned. “Do you know how stupid the last part of your admonition sounded?”
Bode laughed. “I am sorry, but it’s the truth. Do you even have a car?”
“Is that what love is all about?” George asked.
Bode laughed mockingly. “See this one o! Love don enter the matter? It’s over for you!”
George clenched his teeth in disappointment.
Doubra stared at Lola. “I am sorry.”
“Why are you sorry?” Lola asked as she typed away on her laptop.
Doubra blinked. “You have not said a word to me since we left the bar. I made you go there and I am sorry.”
Lola chuckled. “Do I look like I am five to you?”
“I know you want to think that you made that choice solely on your own because it is typical of you to think like that but I just think that if I had not made us go to the bar we wouldn’t have run into Alex.” Doubra said.
Lola closed her laptop. “One question for you, Doubra. What if we had not run into Alex at the bar? Would you be saying this?”
Doubra blinked as Lola’s question pierced her. She had really not thought about the possibility from the positivity. “Lola, are you trying to spite me?”
Lola smiled. “No, darling, I am just saying that you shouldn’t feel bad for me. I don’t feel bad for myself.”
“Alex seemed broken.” Doubra replied.
Lola stared at her. “He seemed?”
Doubra nodded. “I don’t know…I felt really bad seeing him there. He must have gone there to look for George too.”
Lola took a deep breath. “Doubra, let it rest.”
“What does your Mom think of this whole thing?” Doubra asked.
Lola sighed. “We had a long hard talk but I made myself clear to her. If he cheated on me once, maybe it could be a mistake. But these are several ladies, I can’t see it so simply. I am tired. My Mom is pissed at me and I am sure my Dad too is. They understand I am hurt, but they don’t think I should quit.” She replied as she ran her fingers through her hair. “I… am also very confused.”
“So, where do we go from here?” Doubra asked as she stared at a picture of Lola and Alex on the table.
Lola sat up. “I don’t know.”
“Do you really want the divorce?” Doubra asked.
Lola remained silent.
“You have your signature on it…it won’t take long before you get Alex mad enough to want to let you go…so, are we all in?” Doubra asked.
Lola stared at her. “Are we? Number one, I am the one married to Alex. So, the only person getting a divorce here is me.”
Doubra took a deep breath as she braced herself to hear Lola’s rant.
“Do you think I can let Alex go? Do you think I can live without him? Alex is my life. He is everything to me. My friend. My buddy. My partner. I’d take endless walks with Alex without going weary and even when I am tired, we are both in it. Alex is the only one who had given me a reason to understand how meaningless life could be alone. He gave meanings to a lot of silent things in my life. He is the only one I’d yell at and still be able to make love to…I love Alex. It is that hard to let him go. I can’t go on without Alex. I am mad at him but I don’t want to him to go.” Lola said as she tried to fight back welling tears.
Doubra swallowed painfully. Everything Lola had said to her had pierced her heart and shown her off as a bad friend. But she wasn’t bad. She just wanted her friend to be a little happier than she was. Her genius plan seemed to have worked until they ran into Alex at the bar. “I am sorry, Lola.” Doubra said.
“There is nothing to be sorry for.” Lola replied. “You tried to help me in your own way and I don’t resent you for it.” She continued and poured herself some water. “This is something I must make a decision about.”
Doubra watched her friend drink slowly. “Do you think you can ever forgive him? Maybe learn to trust him again?”
Lola stopped drinking her water and focused on Doubra.
“When he is on the phone making a business call, are you not going to be worried that it’s another woman? When he has to travel for a business meeting in Abuja, would you believe him or would you take the next flight to Abuja after him? Would you ever be able to trust him again? Because, if you decide to forget this and make your marriage work, you have to be able to trust him all over again. If you don’t think you can trust him, don’t waste your time, Lola.” Doubra said.
Lola stayed silent.
“I am going to my office, Lola. Take care of yourself. I’d check on you later.” Doubra said as she rose to her feet.
Lola waited for Doubra to shut the door before she let her tears roll down. She didn’t know if she’d be able to trust Alex again and that was indeed her greatest fear.
Jude passed Alex a bottle of beer. “Here you go.”
“Nah…not drinking.” Alex replied as he removed his tie.
Jude sat up. “What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know what I want to do.” Alex replied.
Jude took his seat beside Alex. “Look here, man, you have to know what you want to do. There has to be a reason why Lola was at that bar and if your guess is as good as mine, your wife was there because she was interested in George.”
Jude scoffed. “Come on, man, be real. She wasn’t there because her company had become advisors to Clandestine bar overnight. She was there to do exactly the same thing we were interested in, finding out more about George.” He said. “The only difference is emotional attachment.” He added quickly.
Alex stomped his foot on the ground. “Oh God!”
“Lola went there for him.” Jude said.
Alex stared at him. “Why don’t I ask her before drawing conclusions?”
Jude groaned. “Guy, are you dumb? Your wife doesn’t owe you any explanation right now and trust me you won’t get any different answer from her than I have provided you.”
“You want me to believe you over my wife?” Alex asked calmly.
Jude smiled. “I know what you are trying to do and it won’t come out nice. I know it hurts to think that your wife might have subtle feelings for someone else and in this situation, it is not far from it, but what else could she want at Clandestine, Alex? Think. You know it. It is hard to admit, but I want you to accept it and hasten this denial phase so we can look for solutions.”
Alex sighed and picked up the bottle of beer. “I could use this now.” He said as he opened it and started to drink.
“Take it easy, man.” Jude cooed as he sipped his drink. “We just have to come up with a really good plan.”
Alex dropped his bottle. “What plan is going to be good enough for me? Lola has served me the papers already. She has probably made her move on the George guy, which means I am out of the picture.”
“Not yet, Alex. You can’t give up on her.” Jude replied and gulped his drink down. “She’s hurt but she’s yours. I don’t think you should let her go easily, besides, you were the one who said you won’t want her to play the revenge card so she doesn’t hurt herself, so, fight for her and don’t let this new guy in.” He added.
Alex stared at Jude. “Why have you stayed single?”
“Being married doesn’t change a man. It’s just a good place to show who he really is.” Jude replied. “No offence bro, but look at you.” He said and laughed. “I don’t want to be in this sort of mess that you are in when my wife finds out I have been screwing other women.”
“Why did I even let you talk me into this act?” Alex asked.
Jude smiled. “Well, scoring ladies had always been fun for us back then…and of course, we were quite stupid to let it get this far.”
“And I am more stupid knowing I am letting good love go to waste. Lola is everything.” Alex replied.
Jude sighed. “Maybe if I found myself a ‘Lola’ type of woman, I’d understand how you feel. Honestly, I don’t know how I can be so stuck up on someone.”
“Maybe if you fall in love someday, you’d understand. Till then, it would be as though I was talking gibberish to you and I don’t have the time to bring you up to speed on matters of the heart.” Alex replied.
“Why don’t you do something romantic for her? You could just show up at her office and take her home or maybe you can make her dinner or just do something special for her?” Jude probed. “There has to be something that ticks for her, right?”
Alex shrugged. “Do you think it’ll matter to her?”
“Yes, it should matter to her. Alex you have got to try harder than you already are.” Jude replied. “And if she still comes at you with the divorce papers, then maybe…just maybe it’s time to let go.”
Alex blinked. “Are you sure?”
“Alex, I am not sure. But, you have got to try.” Jude replied. “Let me see, do you guys still talk at home?”
“No. But, she makes my breakfast and dinner before leaving for work. At night, she warms my food and serves me and walks away without saying a word, if she is still awake. Otherwise, I warm my food myself.” Alex replied.
Jude smiled. “Dude, you are guys are still practically married. You haven’t lost anything.” He said with a grin.
“You are wrong. I have lost my friend and confidant. I just have a timed house mate who would leave the minute I sign the papers.” Alex replied and looked away.
Lola turned the door knob and walked into a dark living room. She reached for the light switch but the bulbs wouldn’t come on. She could have sworn that she had seen their neighbour’s front lamp on. Why didn’t they have electricity? Maybe it was his generator. She picked her steps as she turned to her right and a dim lamp beamed in the corner. She gasped as Alex’s frame stepped in from the shadows. “What did you do that for?”
“I am sorry.” He replied.
She nodded. “Have you had dinner?”
“No.” He replied.
She nodded. “I’ll go warm your meal.” She said and tried to step away. Alex took her hand. “What is it?”
“I made us dinner.” Alex said. “Come with me.” He said and led her to the dining room.
The dining table was candle lit. Lola took a deep breath as she stared at Alex. “What is this?”
“It’s time to eat.” He replied and drew her chair back. “I know you have not eaten with me in a long time, but please just sit.”
Lola blinked and took her seat. “Thank you.”
Alex took a deep breath and poured her wine. “Do I serve your soup?”
“Alex.” Lola called.
He stopped and stared at her. “Yeah?”
“I understand what you are trying to do and I…I think you are making efforts but I…I don’t know if I still want this marriage. I can’t sleep without thinking of it and it eats me up so much. We are going to have lots of issues. It’s hard for me to comprehend this whole scenery, I don’t know if I’d be able to trust you again…or love you again…or-”
“-Lola, please have dinner.” Alex said, acting unnerved by her statements.
She stared at him.
“Just eat. It’s just food. Don’t worry about my efforts. This is all about you. I am going to respect your decision. Just eat.” He replied and served the food.
He took his seat and dug his fork into his meal.
“Are you going to sign the divorce papers?” Lola asked.
Alex stared at her. “Do you want a divorce from me, Lola?” he asked.
Lola didn’t know what her next response would be. Alex didn’t look sad or worried anymore and at the same time, he didn’t see excited. He just held indifferent emotions. This seemed like another of his facades, but she didn’t know if it was worth a gamble. She stayed quiet.
“Lola?” Alex probed. “Do you want a divorce?”
Lola stared at him and then blinked. “I don’t want to talk.”
“Lola, let me know if I should start letting go…it’s going to take forever for me, so maybe you want me to start now.” Alex said.
Lola swallowed. “Do you think it is easy for me? Do you think I can just stop loving you? Do you think I want this?” she shouted.
Alex blinked. “I am sorry.”
“Too bad sorry can’t change how I feel right now.” She replied and rose to her feet. “In response to your question, Yes. Let’s break this thing up. It’s good we have no one to worry about but us.”
Alex felt the heaviness in his eyes. He raised his head to prevent any betrayal from his eyes. “Lola, what am I going to do without you?”
“I don’t know, Alex. I don’t know what I’d do either, but all I know is I don’t want to be here…I hate you so much for doing this to us, Alex.” She replied and walked away.
Alex blinked and let his tears flow.
It’s not every time that you have all the answers…most times, we never have most of the answers. Alex knew he was losing Lola. He had his fair share of the blame and maybe all of it, but he wasn’t going to go down without a fight. You don’t love a woman endlessly and just give up. He didn’t know if the choice he had just made was stupid but he was going to do it.
He took a deep breath and knocked on the door. He had spent the early hours of the morning driving down here and he couldn’t turn back now…even though he could be in trouble.
“Good morning, Sir.” He said as the door opened.
Mr David stared at him.