I looked everywhere except at her face. Obviously I was still upset.
Somehow, this daughter of Eve had convinced my boss that they would sign the deal – but needed to discuss some finer points of the contract with the media head.
So my boss had
ordered suggested that I have lunch with her. I hadn’t gotten the call from Chevron or Shell…so I obeyed.
Maybe if I were right-thinking my chest would have expanded a few inches and I would have been levitating. Yeah.
All I felt was anger. I really wasn’t in the mood for socializing – especially not with a member of the opposite sex. Not then.
So I sat there with a wooden face and kept navigating the conversation towards business hoping to get done and get back out and into the safety of my small cubicle.
After a while she sat back and stared at my mouth, chewing slowly and steadily. When she finally spoke…
“We have all day.”
I sat there in silence and swore bitterly.
She wanted to take me out for lunch, and she said so with a hand on the sleeve of my jacket.
I acted like the warmth from her fingers was too slight to make a difference to me and looked everywhere but at her mouth as she spoke. She came to the office at the behest of one of our latest clients – she was the company’s legal adviser.
Normally I wouldn’t be involved in such a meeting – signing official documents and what nots. But in light of several recent events…
I told her no. I didn’t – don’t fraternize with clients and seeing how they were new I’d rather not.
A smile appeared on her too-thin lips and she said she understood.
“I understand,” she said.
I still have a hell of a lot to learn about women.
A MATTER OF HEIGHT VII
Chinwe was feeling warm and soft; very feminine. It was nice to be around a man again.
It had been too long.
Gbemi sat beside her – she imagined, somewhat stiffly. She wanted him to relax, so she shifted a little and placed her head on his right shoulder.
Hesitatingly, he raised his right hand and held her closer, so she was lying against his chest. She could hear his heart beating strongly and, suddenly feeling bold put her hand over that side of his chest.
She felt him start and look down at her head, but she did not look up, studying the area of his chest her hand covered. And then she slowly looked up at him.
There was something in his eyes – something that seemed to take the breath from her lungs. He was looking into her eyes – and then his eyes dropped and she knew he was now staring at her lips.
Despite the cool conditioning of the cinema, sweat slowly popped out of her upper lip and she unconsciously stuck out her tongue to clean it off. Even in the darkened room there was no mistaking the glint that appeared in Gbemi’s eyes, and Chinwe felt as naked as a fly caught in a cobweb. She saw his throat jump as he swallowed nervously, and all sound receded as he dipped his head towards hers.
Oh dear Lord; she thought, trying not to panic. He’s going to kiss me.
She tried to calm herself, and almost reached for his slowly-descending lips with hers when a loud gunshot shattered the quiet of the cinema. She turned to the screen to see Denzel’s character lean against the wall and slowly sink down. He was shot.
“No,” she mumbled under her breath. She felt Gbemi’s hand tighten on hers and she returned the pressure gently. She wondered what he must be thinking; after all it was just a movie. She leaned up to look at him but was staring at the screen with rapt attention. She did not know whether to be glad or sorry.
Chinwe smiled again as she remembered a small scene when they had gone for the tickets. The sales girl – who Chinwe had already found slightly irritating because she was staring at Gbemi so hard, had asked her which movie they wanted to see.
“Safe House,” Chinwe had answered somewhat churlishly.
“How many tickets?” The girl asked.
“Two,” Chinwe snapped, wanting to ask the girl how many of them she could see.
The girl had nodded, and then asked again, “just you and your brother?”
“Brother?” Chinwe had looked over at Gbemi, stunned. Seeing his amused expression, she had walked over to him, put her arms around him and said to the girl, “He’s my husband!”
The girl’s shocked expression and mumbled apology had made the lie worth it. As they walked away and she slowly drew away from Gbemi she heard him chuckle, but had been too embarrassed to ask him why.
Back in the cinema, she felt her spirits lift a bit when it seemed as though Denzel had survived the shooting –but of course that was premature. He still died at the end of the movie.
As they made their way out of the cinema and towards Gbemi’s Camry, Chinwe was feeling confused. Her emotions were all over the place – she felt as though the slightest provocation would make her cry. Don’t be silly; it’s just a movie! She told herself, but she knew it was more than that.
It was some minutes after nine when they left the cinema, and she declined Gbemi’s offer of dinner, feeling too depressed to eat. Grateful for his silence as he drove them back to her house, Chinwe sat quietly trying to get her thoughts back in order. She allowed her thoughts drift…to work, particularly the presentation she had that coming Tuesday. It was for a new client; and it was necessary she presented the creatives before the in-house staff before they took it to the client. Even though it was not her first time; it was her first for a new client. She was nervous.
Let Monday come; she thought. I’ll deal with it then. She came back to the present and realized that some slow music was playing in the car. She cleared her throat and spoke.
“Sometimes I wonder why we struggle; why we live, love, laugh and do other things knowing fully well they don’t last.”
Gbemi turned down the volume of the player and slowed down the speed of the car before turning to look at her seriously. “It’s the movie isn’t it?” he asked gently. “Denzel’s death is getting to you.”
She shrugged. “Maybe…or maybe I’m just wondering out loud,” She rubbed her arms and looked out of the window. “What do you think?” she asked him without turning.
“I think things like that last for as much as you want them to,” he said after a moment’s silence. “You could decide to get home, think about the parts of the movie you really enjoyed and relive the experience or get back into the real world immediately. It’s up to you.”
Chinwe sighed. “I wish it was that easy.”
She turned, imagining he was going to say something but instead he was focused on his driving. She relaxed back in her seat and closed her eyes, drifting again.
“We’re home,” Gbemi announced suddenly.
She started awake and noticed that they were no longer moving. Opening her eyes slowly, she shook her head as the familiar sounds of generators in the neighborhood churned out their noises. The lights were on in her apartment and she shook her head, smiling to herself thinking what Amaka would think when she told her she and Gbemi had not kissed.
“I had a great night,” she said, leaning against the car as he came to her side of it. “I…” she stopped and pointed to the nylon bag he was carrying. “What’s that?” she asked.
“Em…it’s a little something I want you to give your mom,” he said. “I forgot when I came earlier – what’s wrong?”
Chinwe opened her mouth to respond but a lump was suddenly stuck in her throat. She swallowed and tried to speak again but to her horror, she burst into tears.
She sensed rather than saw Gbemi look uncertain for moment before coming slightly closer. “Em…why are you crying? Was it something I said?”
“No…no,” Chinwe stuttered, trying to stop sobbing. “She’s…she’s…”
Chinwe felt Gbemi place the bag on the car and gently put his hands on her arms. “What’s wrong with your mom? Is she okay?” he asked, concern heavy on his voice.
“She’s…she’s dead,” she sobbed heart-brokenly. For a moment his hands stilled on her arms, and then they slowly resumed their slow rubbing.
“What happened?” he asked. But Chinwe couldn’t answer. For some reason she could not stop the tears. They just kept coming.
She felt Gbemi hesitate; and then he gathered her into his arms gently. Somehow he had contrived to use the uneven geography of her compound to his advantage; as a result instead of towering slightly above him she was at the same level with him. She went into his arms.
Later; alone in her room, she could not remember exactly how they started kissing or even who kissed who first. She just knew she was in his arms and it felt just right.
She smiled then; feeling her lips gently with the tips of her left fingers and relived the moment when Gbemi had come to himself. He had stepped back slowly, shaking his head. “Chinwe…I…I’m so sorry,” he had mumbled. “I…”
She had followed him and kissed him again, stopping his apology. Despite the fact that her tears were running in between their lips, it was a gentle and wild kiss all at once.
He tastes minty and fresh; she thought; like a combo of baba blue and Lemon plus. The analogy made her smile and she chuckled, breaking the kiss.
Gbemi stepped back and looked at her, his eyes cloudy. Chinwe gently touched her lips and smiled, “That’s a very effective way to stop a lady crying,” she said.
“Chi…I…” Gbemi started, evidently apologizing again. She cut him short.
“Gbemi,” I wanted to kiss you too so it’s okay.” She stepped close and hugged him. “Thank you for a wonderful evening – and thank you for being so thoughtful.” She eased back and kissed him lightly on the lips.
“Chi…I…I need to tell you something,” Gbemi managed to blurt out but Chinwe waved him to silence. “It’s been a heavy night, champ. I need to gather myself somewhat. I’ll still be here tomorrow,” she finished and smiled brightly. “Okay?” she asked.
Gbemi took a deep breath – and then smiled. “Okay.”
Tomorrow; Chinwe thought as she massaged her lips gently. I’m so looking forward to that.
She fell asleep cradling her favorite pillow, a smile on her lips.
May 15, 2012 | Categories: Series | Tags: a matter of height, budding romance, first kiss, flirting, height related romance, honesty, lunch date, memories, mother's day, relationships, romance | 12 Comments
“He’s short…the guy’s very short…like around here!”
The voice speaking was laced with anger and frustration, which made no sense as at the time of the conversation.
“So? What does height have to do with it?”
Chinwe looked at her younger cousin with disdain. “And they call you the brains of the family. Sometimes I wonder if mom means actually ‘brains’ as in grey matter or ‘brains’ as in oral…”
Amaka waved her hands. “You should be the one to talk. All the tall guys you’ve dated, what have they done for you?”
Chinwe looked shocked. “I can’t believe you’re defending this guy. You don’t even know him!”
Amaka shrugged. “I’m just asking you to be objective. He has not even asked you out yet…”
“But I know he’s going to! You should see the way he looks at me…the way he holds my hand a bit longer than necessary…”
“Hmm. Sounds to me like you like him. So what’s the problem?”
He’s…he’s short!” Chinwe threw up her hands and slumped on the easy sofa, fuming.
Amaka came and dropped beside her. “Look on the bright side – at least he wouldn’t have to kneel down to ask you to marry him!”
Chinwe looked at her cousin. “Is that what you should be saying?!” she asked incredulously. Amaka shrugged. “Someone has to see the silver lining in every dark cloud,” she answered. “It’s not so bad when you really look at it. Worse things have happened.”
“Oh yeah? Like what?”
“Whitney Houston is dead. Obama might not be the next American president. Pedophilia is on the rise – and you are worrying about one guy’s height.”
Chinwe made to stand up. “You’re crazy,” she said to her cousin unsmilingly.
Amaka touched her thigh lightly. “I was kidding – but hear me out. Do you remember when we were arguing about Mariah Carey marrying Nick Cannon?”
Chinwe shrugged. “We were still in school then!”
“That’s not the point. Do you remember what you said?” At Chinwe’s second shrug she smiled and continued, “You said ‘if she had to marry a younger guy to find true happiness, I wish her all the best.’ You said that, dear cousin.”
Chinwe bit back the angry retort at the tip of her tongue, realizing her cousin was correct. Apart from Gbemi’s height…
“Seriously, apart from his height – you don’t have any other issues with him do you?”
She thought back and smiled. “But Ama, this is crazy! It’s not even been a week since I met this guy! And yet…”
“So love has a timeline, abi? Okay. When is he supposed to fall in love with you? When is he supposed to ask you out – take you to watch Ghostrider or…”
Chinwe jumped up and stood over her cousin. “Don’t you dare make fun of my Ghost Rider, you hear? Don’t try it!”
Amaka cowered in mock fear. “Okay! Okay!! I’m sorry. I was just -”
“I know you were ‘just’” Chinwe bent over and hugged her little cousin. “You’re so smart all of a sudden…all grown up. Thank you so much.”
Amaka, who was not used to her cousin displaying emotion, was pleasantly surprised and hugged Chinwe back firmly. When they finally released each other there were tears in Amaka’s eyes, but she was smiling happily.
“What are you going to do?” she asked Chinwe.
“Oh, he asked me to lunch so I’m going to go to lunch with him. And then we’ll see.”
Gbemi had instructed his girls to close the door while they logged in the new stock for the shop, so he was not expecting anyone. At the moment they were off-loading biscuits, and he thought of Chinwe and how she had been avoiding him since he asked her to lunch the previous week. It occurred to him he might have jumped the gun where she was concerned – asking her that soon; but he liked her and did not appreciate mincing words.
But obviously that had not gone well; he thought. Okay, maybe I did jump the gun this one time. I’ll go and see TJ, use that as an excuse to see her – and apologize if necessary.
“Oya, una hurry o! You wan sleep here?” He asked. Of course, his staff was working hard without slacking but he had to say something. He did not even need to be there; he trusted them that much but – he was interrupted.
“Oga,” came a voice from behind him. He turned and saw Jerry, the security guard on duty.
“Yes?” Gbemi answered, frowning slightly. The guard cleared his throat, trying not to smile.
“One madam dey find you o. She say her name na Chinwe,” Jerry concluded.
Chinwe! “I’ll be right there,” he mumbled.
As Jerry turned away, Gbemi called Aisha and told her to watch things, removing his apron as he spoke. And then he hurried to the restroom to tidy his appearance.
A few minutes later, he hurried outside. She was sitting beside Jerry at his post, laughing quietly at something the guard had said. Gbemi slowed down his walk and watched her laugh, a small chord being struck to life somewhere around his chest area. She looked beautiful in a blood red blouse and blue jeans, a combination that set off her complexion. She was wearing trainers.
He moved closer and cleared his throat.
“Hi Gbemi,” she said, looking up at him. She looks really really nice; he thought.
“Hi, Chinwe. How are you today?” he asked.
She stood up. “I’m good,” she answered. “I hope I didn’t interrupt -”
“No you didn’t,” he cut in hastily. “I was just watching them off-load and arrange stuff.”
“Okay,” she said. She nodded and then suddenly said, “You offered me lunch, did you not?”
At Gbemi’s stunned nod she smiled. “Okay then,” she continued, “take me to lunch.”