What was what about?” asked Julia.
“Come on, don’t act like you don’t know” Teniola countered.
“But I don’t” Julia insisted, she had forgotten how persistent Teni could be and she was frantically trying to come up with an explanation for her sudden disappearance as Teni planted all those kisses on Ade’s face. Surprisingly Teni did not pursue the line of conversation but started going through the items in one of her boxes which lay open in the center of the bedroom. She had told her parents that she would be staying with Julia for a week and surprisingly they had not objected; at least not strongly.
Teni’s silence left Julia a bit disconcerted and she couldn’t concentrate on her reading anymore, she was reading a romantic thriller, or was trying to, she had tried to do so many things after she had gotten back to the apartment, seeing Teni all over Ade like that had completely thrown her off balance. If Julia had not been so pre-occupied with her own thoughts, she would have noticed Teni’s discomfiture. She had consistently reminded that Ade belonged to Teni, that this day would come but seeing her jump on him like that, plant all those kisses on his face and call his name so lovingly, so endearingly, so many times did things to her she could not explain and she felt something would snap in her if she stayed a moment longer.
As she walked back to her place she finally admitted that some of what she felt as she stood there looking at the heap of lovers on the floor, was hatred for Teniola, not for Teni as a person she told herself, but for what she stood for, how she took Ade from him, how she was the one who had everything, the one whose parents agreed to send to school abroad; who had an ever faithful boyfriend waiting in Nigeria- she didn’t see what Ade did with her as Ade being unfaithful; the one whose cousin couldn’t bear to hurt, the one who had never been hurt by a man, the one who would finish her college education before the rest of them; thanks to the strike situation in the country.
The thought of how she kept cooing “Ade, Ade” all over his face as she planted those kisses, was like a kick to her gut, a sharp pain that actually made her stop mid-stride and fold over as she gripped her stomach retched. At that moment, she realized that she could never utter that name again without remembering that moment, without having a mental picture of Teni calling out that name as she planted kisses all over Ade’s face. It was at that moment that she decided she would never call him that name again, she would call him Femi, the rest of his name; Adefemi.
In the flat, as she went from cleaning the room, to washing the bathroom and then folding the laundry; never finishing one chore before moving to the other, she was torn between several lines of action; confessing to Teni when she got back to the flat in the morning, she was sure she would be there all night “having sex with him; that slut” she thought maliciously, and at that moment she decided that her line of action would be going to Ade’s apartment, breaking up whatever was going on and telling Teni everything right there with Ade present. She was still gathering her thoughts, thinking of how best to say what she had to say when Teni walked in.Julia could barely hide her surprise, she was not expecting Teni back so soon, she had been certain Teni would spend the night Ade’s place. She said the first thing that came to her head.
“What are you doing here?”
“What?” Teni was taken aback.
“I meant why are you back already, you only just saw Ade since you got back” the name almost choked her “I was sure you would spend the night at his place.”
“I didn’t pack for that, it didn’t occur to me to, so I came back to pack”
It was at this moment that Teni asked Julia “What was that about?” Julia stood watching her cousin go through the open box for a while, eventually she could not take the silence anymore
“I just thought it would be nice to give you guys some alone time” she ventured.
“Is he cheating on me?” Teni turned to face her cousin.
Julia felt the blood drain from her face as the book she was holding slipped from her fingers unto her laps. When she finally found her tongue, she asked in a measured tone; “Why?”
“Because…” she carefully searched Julia’s face before she continued,
“because you wouldn’t come into his place or even at least stay long enough to say hi to him and because he refused to come with me to get my overnight things” she paused for breath and then continued speaking once again “Did you catch him with another girl, does he have another girl?” she looked at her cousin desperately, searching her face desperately for assurance and at that moment, seeing how vulnerable and weak Teni was, Julia knew she would never be able to tell her cousin what transpired between herself and Ade.
She shook her head slowly finding strength in knowing that she held Teni’s happiness in her own palms and said “No he isn’t cheating, all the while you were away, I never once saw him with another girl” after a thoughtful pause she continued “actually I did see him with one girl once”
She felt immeasurable pleasure hearing her cousin’s sharp intake of breath before she continued “but it was just a classmate, I confronted them both, made a bit of a fool of myself but I confirmed it and ensured she knew he was taken” she smiled as she said this and Teni smiled back weakly, almost in tears; such was her relief.
“But you would tell me wouldn’t you?” Teni persisted
“Yes I would”
“You wouldn’t lie to me just to protect me would you? I’m a big girl, I can take the truth”
“I wouldn’t Teniola”
Teni came to where Julia was and held her in an awkward but firm hug.
“Kenny I do not want Claire to be my girlfriend, I would like us to be friends with her but if she makes you that uncomfortable, we won’t talk to her again” he then added as an afterthought “and if you want her to be your girlfriend I am absolutely fine with it”
Tai was exasperated, Claire’s name had come up in conversation again, and once again Kenny had gone off the deep end, this time for much longer than usual. Kenny was lying in bed, facing the wall, ignoring his twin and pretending to be deeply engrossed in his phone. He tried to hide a smile as he listened to his twin brother’s speech, he failed miserably and sat up.
“Tai you can have her really, I’m not upset, there is just something about her…”
Tai cut him short “I really don’t want her to be my girlfriend, I just want her to be my friend, our friend, I think she needs friends, not a boyfriend”
“Okay we’ll be friends with her then” Kenny was still smiling.
“So you’ll come along to her place on Thursday?”
“Of course I will, we go everywhere together na, I was just doing you shakara” Tai heave a sigh of relief and punched his twin playfully in the shoulder.
Claire had asked them over. They had been on the basketball court doing more or chatting than playing the ball when suddenly Bob had given some mumbled excuse about having to leave and practically taken off. Tai looked up from the ball he had been bouncing and had seen Claire coming from the opposite direction Bob was headed. He smiled thinking to himself that Bob was not such a ladies man after all. He however knew better than to voice his thoughts to Kenny.
When Claire finally got to where the twins stood, she said hi. What followed was at best a stunted conversation.
“Hello Claire” Tai said brightly, a bit too brightly he thought.
Kenny mumbled a very reluctant “Hi” while thinking his twin sounded foolish with his high pitched hello Claire .
After a few moments of silence, Tai ventured “So how have you been?” to which Claire replied “Fine and you?”
“Oh we have been good too” Tai replied while Kenny said to himself “Speak for yourself abeg”
Eventually Claire let it out in a rush “Would you guys come over to say hello sometime?” she couldn’t bear to fail and have Susan gloat over a failure.
“To where?” Tai was asking, Claire was still trying to catch her breath from the effort, she couldn’t believe she had actually done it, asked her friends over.
“What?” she asked
“Come over to where?” Tai repeated
“This girl must be some sort of idiot, aren’t we already saying hello?” Kenny was thinking to himself.
“Oh to my house…my parents’ house” they like to meet my friends “actually that’s a lie” she thought “I’d like to show that woman that she can’t win”
“What?” the nice twin was saying something again; she really needed to pay more attention when having these conversations she told herself.
“I said when and where do you live?”
They agreed on Thursday and she gave them her address before they parted ways. The twins actually knew the house but had no idea that was where she stayed.
Stay tuned for Episode 17 next week Friday