It was only “common sense” for Alex to take three steps backward as soon as Mr David appeared before him. Mr David was one of the few men that Alex knew who still kept fit. He took early morning runs and was a fitness devout. Not like Alex wouldn’t be able to take him on in a bout but why would you even want to take on your father-in-law in the first place? The man looked ready for a fight. He had his fighting gloves in his hand and was dressed for the gym.
“I am going to the gym. Walk with me.” Mr David said and without another word, he started jogging off to the gym.
Alex stared at him as he jogged off. “But he said walk with me.”
Without another thought. Alex jogged off after him.
A YEAR AGO
“You throw solid punches, Sir.” Alex said as he took off his gloves. He reached for a towel to wipe off the sweat trickles around his brows.
Mr David took a seat beside his future son-in-law and handed him a bottle of water. “When all you have got are two women in your life, you’ll feel the constant need to be enough for them.” He replied.
Alex stared at him, slightly confused. “I don’t follow, Sir.”
“Alex, I like to hit the gym. I have never stopped liking it. Being in the Military for as long as I have been is enough reasons to stay fit and it can’t go away now that I am out.” He said. “But, I just like looking good.” He added with a corny smile.
Alex nodded as he watched Mr David drink his water. He was surprised when he got a call from him that morning asking him to join him at the gym for a round bout. Mr David had also warned him not to breathe a word about it to Lola and he obliged. He had thought it a joke but after a couple of jabs to the floor, he realised that it was real and happening.
Mr David stared at Alex. “Please, don’t hurt her.”
“Excuse me?” Alex probed.
Mr David blinked. “I love my little girl so much. Make no mistake, her mother loves her equally and maybe even more, but Lola has always been my strength. She has always given me a reason to keep fighting for something in life. She’s always been so smart, so beautiful, so ambitious, so generous and loving. She’s pushed me beyond limits I never thought I’d reach and I am thankful for the women in my life and I love them so much and I am selfish, but I have to let Lola go…she has always been my princess, my girl, my little girl, but now she is a woman. A beautiful woman. A woman who no longer needs daddy everyday but her own man and she found you and you have to be a lucky man to have found her.” He said and looked up to hold back his emotions.
Alex was stunned at this moment. All this while, he had been reeling in the excitement of almost being a married man, but Mr David’s words had upset him. The man didn’t mean to upset him but there are ways you can say some words to frighten another person. Alex swallowed as Mr David wiped his forehead with the towel. “I…I won’t hurt her.” He said.
Mr David stared at him. “Do you just drive a knife through someone’s belly because it’s fun?” he asked.
Alex stared at him. “I…I don’t understand.”
“I am just saying that there might be tendencies for you to hurt her, but please, my baby girl doesn’t deserve it.” He said.
Alex swallowed painfully. “Sir, I love Lola and I promise to love her with all my life. I would never stop loving her, I would protect her and I won’t hurt her.”
Mr David nodded with some optimism but without total conviction. He had been married to his wife for about twenty-five years now and he still couldn’t say he had done everything right but they were still standing and that had to count for something.
Alex knew he’d wanted forever with Lola.
“The day you hurt her, I am going to hit you.” He said with a smile. “Anyway, let’s go home, the ladies would be waiting.” Mr David said as he gathered his bags.
“The ladies?” Alex asked.
Mr David smiled. “Nothing is more attractive than your woman seeing a fit man covered in sweat.”
Alex raised an eyebrow.
“Really? You didn’t know that?” Mr David asked with a soft chuckle. “Come on, Son. It’s not good to keep them waiting.” He said and walked out of the gym.
Alex took a deep breath as he strapped his gloves into his hand. He tried to avoid Mr David’s stern gaze which hadn’t left him since they got into the ring.
The Gym attendant joined them. “Sir, have you checked out your wrist?”
“I’ll be fine.” Mr David replied, without taking a look at the attendant. His eyes were on Alex who tried hard to pretend as if he couldn’t notice them.
The Gym attendant walked away.
Alex mustered all the courage he could and stared at him. “Sir, the reason why I called you-”
“-I don’t want to listen.” Mr David replied.
Alex nodded. “I know, but, I have to tell you what happened.”
“Do you think I do not already know? Do you think my family is not already aware that Lola has served you divorce papers?” Mr David asked him as he clenched his gloves together.
Alex blinked. “Okay, Sir. I…I know I have disappointed you.”
“No, you haven’t. It’s a work in progress.” He replied.
Alex was confused. He wiped some sweat off his face. “I am really sorry, Sir.”
Mr David stared at him. “That’s the problem. You are sorry.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Don’t say anything!” Mr David yelled. “I begged you. I told you not to hurt her. Why did you do it?”
Alex swallowed. “I was stupid.”
“And now?” The Older man asked.
Alex stared at him. “I…I don’t want to lose her.”
Mr David took off his gloves angrily and threw them to the floor. He then reached for the sides and took a seat. He was confused, sad and angry. “I just wish you didn’t do this, but it’s done, we need to find a solution to this and pretty fast too.”
Alex took off his gloves and watched Mr David as he seemed to be talking to himself. The man wouldn’t look at him. Was he so annoying or was he just expecting too much?
“Do you have a plan to win her back?” Mr David asked.
Alex stared at him. “I…I took her to our meeting spot and it turned out to be my biggest regret.”
Mr David stared at him. “Why? That’s supposed to be romantic.”
“She met someone else.” Alex said.
Mr David stopped for a moment. SHE MET SOMEONE ELSE? That didn’t seem like his Lola. But still it was amusing to hear Alex sulk saying it. The Older man burst into an awkward laugh. “Karma…Karma…”
Alex sighed. “Yes, I know. Karma.”
“But then, explain it to me. What exactly happened?” he asked.
“Apparently this guy had run into my Lola somewhere before and as fate would have it, he was at the bar and singing for the Lola he had met.” Alex started.
Mr David stopped him. “Let me get this right. He had planned a song for her not knowing she was married and coincidence would have him meet with her again when you were trying to rebuild your home?”
“Yes, sir. That’s exactly the situation.” Alex said.
Mr David shook his head. “This is serious.”
“I know.” Alex replied.
“Now, you need a real plan and this will take effort and you are not going to like it, but you are going to do it if you want to win Lola back.” Mr David said as he gathered his bags.
“I am ready to do anything. Anything.” Alex said eagerly as he joined Mr David in gathering the bags.
Mr David stared at him. “Let’s go home.”
“Err?” Alex asked looking confused.
Mr David nodded. “We’ll talk about it on the way home.”
Alex nodded. “Thank you so much, Sir. I really-”
Mr David silenced Alex with a punch in the face. Alex crashed to the floor from the effect. Mr David felt the pain in his hand as he tried to stretch his wrist. “I said I would hit you if you ever hurt my daughter. I meant it.” He added as he stared at Alex. “Now, let’s go.”
Alex massaged his face and for the next second he thanked God that Lola didn’t have brothers.
Lola pulled up at the mall. She had woken up and searched for Alex to no avail. Her pride wouldn’t allow her call him so she decided to ignore the thoughts that maybe something terrible had happened to him. The burden to know his whereabouts rested on her heavily. Why she couldn’t get over a man that had hurt her deeply was like a mystery to her. She was supposed to be mad at him, but she couldn’t help feeling guilty for last night’s dinner being close to a disaster despite all of Alex’s efforts to try to make it work. But she wasn’t going to give herself room to be sorry. Alex hurt her and she won’t take the punishment for it. She would do the household shopping like a dutiful wife that she was until she finally separated from Alex.
She moved the trolley swiftly from the food to the toiletry section and in no time, she was done. It was routine for her. She arrived at the counter and started to arrange her goods on the table. The attendant turned towards her. Her heart skipped a beat as she stared at him. “So you work as an attendant too?”
George smiled at her. “We keep running into each other.”
“Coincidence. Please take my order.” She said as she looked away.
He smiled faintly. “My shift is actually over, but I’ll take your order.” He replied and started preparing her an invoice.
Another attendant joined them. “George, thanks a lot, man.”
“I’ll be out of here soon.” George said to him.
George packed up Lola’s order. “Here you go, ma’am. Your bill is twenty-five thousand naira.”
The other attendant stepped forward. “I’ll take over from here, George. You need to leave.”
George nodded and stepped away.
Lola watched him leave till he was no longer in sight and then finished up her order.
She pushed her trolley out of the mall and into the car park.
Lola turned and watched George as he ran across cars to meet up with her. She chuckled slightly as she watched him stop a moving car just to get across.
“Ma’am? That’s a nice name.” she said as she opened the car trunk.
George smiled and helped her with her bags. “How are you doing?”
“Very well, and you?” she asked as she shut the trunk.
He nodded. “I am good.”
“So…you work as an attendant too?” she probed.
He nodded. “Yes, I do.”
“Interesting.” She replied and walked over to the driver’s seat.
George cleared his throat. “Are you busy?”
“Busy?” she asked.
“Like…do you want to go somewhere with me?” he asked.
She stared at him. “Go somewhere with you? Wouldn’t that be weird? I just came to get groceries.”
He nodded. “My Bad. I…I just want to get to know you…and I know that it sounds ridiculous, but I…I just want to.”
Lola took a deep breath and stared at her wristwatch. “Where are we going to?”
“I know a really nice spot some blocks away.” He replied. “We could walk.” He added.
Lola shrugged and locked the car. “Okay.”
“So…how’s the weekend going?” George started as they walked.
She stared at him. “The weekend hasn’t even started. It’s still morning.”
“Yes, forgive me. I am just excited.” He replied.
She stopped and stared at him. “George?”
“I am married.”
He nodded. “Okay…I am just getting to know you.”
“No. You know what you want and it can never happen.” She replied.
He blinked. “But…but you-”
“-don’t seem happy?” she asked.
He nodded. “You seem so sad…hurt and in a lot of pain.” He replied.
She smiled and stared at the eatery. “Pizza spot?”
“Yeah.” He replied and pushed the door open. “After you.”
George made the order and joined her at their seat. “So, I guess my feelings are going to waste.”
Lola smiled. “Your feelings? Do you just catch…I mean, do you just literally catch feelings for someone from seeing her once?”
“Haven’t you heard about love at first sight?” he asked.
Lola scoffed. “Do you believe in that?”
“I do. As a matter of fact, maybe that’s what happened to me. I couldn’t get you out of my mind since that day and I haven’t been able to yet.” He said as he took a bite from the pizza. “Maybe you could help me?” he asked with a smile.
Lola sighed. “George, I am married and that makes me unavailable.”
“Okay…let’s be friends.” He said.
She smiled. “Friends? George…come on. You don’t just ‘let’s be friends’ after what I know you want.”
“Lola, you are married. I respect that.” He replied.
“Then, move on.” She said, cutting in. “You’d be fooling yourself by spending more time around me and expecting it to all go away.” She concluded as she took a bite from the pizza. “This is good pizza.”
George blinked as he watched her eat. “What happened to your marriage?”
“I don’t understand.” She said as she wiped her mouth.
He swallowed. “You are a good woman. A very good woman. What went wrong?”
“How are you so sure that I am a good woman?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I just know it.”
“George, it is never as it seems.” She replied.
He sighed. “I don’t believe you. How did he hurt you?”
“Of what good would it do if we have this discussion? We are flying around in circles, George.” She said.
“Why are you a good woman, Lola?” he asked.
She shrugged with a smile. “All the bad people are already taken.”
He nodded. “Lola, I like you very much. And it hasn’t changed knowing that you are married. I respect you and your marriage and I am going to stay away from your marriage but not totally away from you. I am going to be there in every corner, watching, waiting and hoping…”
Lola sighed. “Hope can be a very feeble thing to hang on to.”
“I’ll take my chance.” He replied.
“I’d never be yours.” she said dumbly. Lola wasn’t convinced of that statement when she made it but she just did. “I’d never be yours.” she reiterated.
George clenched his teeth. “I know…it’s a big deal to fight for a married woman.”
“No. It’s a big deal to fight for a woman in love.” She replied with moist eyes. She picked her keys and purse. “I have to go now.”
George took a deep breath and rose to his feet. “Would you give a number?”
“No. I can’t give you any real opening.” She said and approached the door. She stopped and stared at him. “Besides, you always seem to find me.” She concluded with a faint smile and walked out.
George swallowed painfully. He had heard so much to make him give up, he knew the battle to win Lola’s heart just went a notch higher. That did hurt painfully. He sipped some juice to ease his pain, and then he descended on the pizza and then he wouldn’t stop eating it.
Jude stepped back as Alex walked into his house. “Morning, bro.”
“Good morning.” Alex replied and took a seat.
Jude took a seat opposite him. “What’s up? You look like a mess.”
“I am a mess.” He said.
Jude stared at him. “Why?”
“You know why.”
“Lola, right?” Jude probed with a sigh. “Man, you have no idea how stupid I feel about allowing you do the score game with women right now.”
“It’s not entirely your fault. A better man would have done the right thing.” Alex said.
Jude blinked. “You are a good guy, Alex.”
“Don’t patronize me.” He replied as he rose to his feet.
“I take it as yesterday’s dinner didn’t go well.” Jude said as he joined him by the window.
Alex nodded. “It was a disaster. I am losing her. She is not even flinching. She hates me too much.”
“Alex, I think you should chill. Lola doesn’t hate you. She is probably just too mad at you right now. Maybe I should see her?”
Alex shook his head. “Nah…I have something I must do if I need to get her back. I am not so sure about it though.”
“What is it?” Jude asked.
Alex returned to a seat. “I don’t know if I want to talk about it now.”
“It’s okay if you don’t want to talk. Just think through and think really hard about it. If it is worth it, go for it. If not, don’t take a chance.” Jude replied.
“Jude!!!” A female voice echoed from inside the house.
Alex looked concern as he turned around.
Jude smiled at Alex. “You know what it is.”
“Bro, haven’t you learnt a thing from me?” Alex asked.
Jude shrugged with a grin. “I have learnt a lot…and I don’t know if I can keep mighty Jude zipped even when married, so I won’t even get married.”
“Love happens, Jude.” Alex said, rising to his feet.
Jude nodded. “I have got a bullet for cupid. It ain’t biting me with that love bug anytime soon.”
Alex took a deep breath. “I feel sorry for you.”
“I feel sorrier for you, Alex. You are the one about to lose all the gold you’ve got. Fight for Lola. Good women are hard to find.” Jude replied as he led Alex to the door.
Alex nodded. “Take care, bro.”
“And you too, man. Hang in there.” Jude said as they hugged.
Lola felt like she was doing something wrong by even giving George the opportunity to sit with her. Maybe it was true that women did know how to emotionally cheat on their spouses without even going to bed with another guy. Did she portray herself as available to George by even accepting to talk to him? She didn’t know if she was staying angry at Alex for too long but she didn’t know if she could trust him easily again.
She ran her fingers through her hair as she cried. All she wanted was for someone to tell her that she would be able to trust Alex easily again. It seemed so hard at the time. She was driving in her car alone and if anyone needed convincing, it was her…and yes, she had to do it alone.
She stepped on the brakes as she approached the traffic sign. She took a deep breath as a police officer approached her.
“Just my luck!” she said.
Alex stared at the clock and the door. He had taken different postures while waiting for Lola for some time now. Could she have packed out of the house already? Lola might be mad at him but he knew she wouldn’t just do that. It wasn’t her nature.
He heaved a huge sigh as the gates opened and her car drove in. His heart pounded faster than ever at the fear and thought of losing Lola. The door opened and he watched her walk in with the grocery bags. He hurried to meet her. “Let me take them.” He said and collected the bags.
He returned to the living room almost immediately. Lola had sunk into a chair. She looked exhausted. “Hi.” He said.
She ignored him.
She turned in his direction without saying a word.
“Lola, do you still love me?” he asked. “Please?”
She sighed and looked away.
“Lola, say something. Please.”
Lola scoffed and started to walk away from him.
“Lola!!!” he yelled.
Lola stopped and stared at him. “What?!” she yelled back.
“Lola David, I have signed the divorce papers. They are upstairs. You can go.” He replied with wet eyes.
Lola gaped as her eyes went wet.