“Omote, I will like you to be my chief bridesmaid!” Alicia gushed, her eyes shining with delight at her declaration.
Oh God, I groaned inwardly. It wasn’t bad enough that yet another one of my closest friends was getting hitched to a very gorgeous man, she had to yoke me with the most thankless job in the world: the one where I get to share the spotlight with her, and everyone can look past her beaming face, and past the sparkle on her ring finger, and wonder about the friend just behind her who isn’t wearing a ring of her own.
“You’re not smiling and screaming!” Alicia growled. “Why aren’t you smiling and screaming!”
And so I peeled my lips back into the widest smile I could muster, and let out a loud squeal of faux delight.
“You’re excited, right?” the bride-to-be wanted to be reassured.
“Of course I’m excited,” I immediately said. “Don’t mind me jaré, I’m very excited and happy for you. You’re a lucky woman, about to wed a guy who’s crazy about you, and on your day, your wedding will be the best ever.” I paused and added tongue-in-cheek, “Well, that is, until my own wedding.”
And we dissolved into gales of laughter.
It is 7pm, and Alicia isn’t happy with her conversation on the phone. She doesn’t like to be interrupted when speaking, but Clarence, it seems, doesn’t care. She stands in front of her bathroom mirror with her earphones plugged in her ears, listening to him barrel over her words: “I specifically asked for a green-on-white print card. And what do I get from the printer dudes – that you told them to add a touch of red?! What’s that – a Christmas wedding?!”
“I was trying to explain –” Alicia begins in a shrill tone, when he does again. Cuts her off.
“We’re way past this, Ally. We settled on green-and-white. If you didn’t like it, we could have talked about it first.”
“Fine. Whatever. Have it your own way.” Why can’t she have landed a future husband who acted like every other groom and maintained a healthy distance from the planning of his wedding? Clarence is so hands-on that she is starting to wonder who the bride-zilla is, him or her.
“I’ll come see you tomorrow. We haven’t discussed the lighting and décor.”
“I have a lunch date with my chief bridesmaid tomorrow,” she snaps. There is a pause, a pregnant one which Clarence lets stretch without saying anything. She feels a pang of guilt at her bad attitude and concedes, “Maybe you can stop by early enough, as early as 7am, I suppose.”
“So you would rather have a lunch date with your chief bridesmaid than discuss an important part of our wedding with me?” Clarence is at it again.
“Oh Clarence, will you stop it already? I have no answer to that, and you know that my bridal train is also an important part of this wedding.” Alicia is almost yelling this time. “You know what, you can tell the wedding planners what sort of lighting and decor you want. My opinion never counts any way.” She hangs up and catches a look at her reflection, at the face that was flushed with her annoyance.
She sits down on the bathroom floor, thinking, quietly waiting for Clarence to call her back. But he doesn’t; the phone remains immobile and blank-faced in her hand. She resents it when he does things like this; irritate her and then not immediately pacify her. The last time he annoyed her, he waited until the next morning to send roses to her office; of course, she sent the roses back and called him to seethe her resentment, and he blandly told her that he’d wanted to wait until she was in a better frame of mind before apologizing. She hung up on him in a huff, and an hour later, he was at her workplace to give her the best makeup sex yet in the cramped space of the office convenience.
What a man, she sighs presently, as she fights the urge to go for something strong to drink. She runs her left hand through her short hair as she contemplates the man who she is about to get married to, the man she has been dating for almost a year before he proposed. She flirts with the idea that she may have said ‘Yes’ to him too soon, and then dumps the thought. She doesn’t need to think about it; Clarence has money, influence and good looks. And he is the man of her dreams.
So what if he wants to be hands-on with the wedding preparation. It merely speaks to his fond consideration of their impending union as man and wife. If he’s an attentive groom, then surely, he’ll be a doting husband. She really shouldn’t begrudge him his attention to their nuptials.
She decides to call it an early night, has a quick bath, and slips into bed, determined to wake up the next day in a better frame of mind.
Alicia opens her eyes slowly. Something has awoken her, a loud bang perhaps. She isn’t sure. Then it comes again, this time startling her. Someone is knocking at her door. She struggles out of bed, casting a bleary gaze at the clock on the wall. It is 9:30pm. It isn’t late, but still, she doesn’t appreciate having her night rest so rudely interrupted.
She hurries into the bathroom, rinses her mouth with some mouthwash and runs some water over her face, before heading for the door. She looks through the peephole at who the person on the other side of the door is. And she isn’t very surprised when she sees who it is. Clarence dressed in a plain cerulean T-shirt and pair of black jeans, wearing a grin on his face and hefting a bouquet of red roses.
She opens the door. His grin widens. She groans, “Go away, Clarence. I don’t want to talk.”
“Can I at least come in?” She hesitates, fighting back a yawn. She really should get back to her sleep. He adds, “Please?” And then, there’s that sexy grin, the one that melts her resolve. She lets him in.
“I’m sorry about earlier, baby,” he begins as he places the roses on Alicia’s reading table, and assumes a comfortable position on her bed. “I guess I got carried away…I don’t know.”
“Got carried away, you say? You’ve always been like that, Clarence. Sometimes, you just never listen to me. And it hurts, big time.”
“And I’m deeply sorry about it.” His face is appropriately remorseful. His smile hangs tentatively on his lips. “Tell me, did you miss me?”
She turns away from him to attend to the roses and says flippantly, “It’s only been two hours. And I went straight to bed. So how could I miss you?”
He gets up from the bed and walks to where she is standing, and stands behind her. He slides his hands around her waist and presses her body back against his. Alicia releases a tremulous sigh as she feels the soft curve of her bottom rest against the bulge of his hard-on. Her blood begins to flutter with desire. He buries his head inside her hair, inhaling deeply. And then, he runs his fingers through the short tresses, and bites her ear gently, tracing the tip of his tongue down to her nape, and taking soft, quick nibbles of the skin of her neck.
Alicia closes her eyes and lets out a soft moan. Clarence raises her silk singlet, the one she’d been sleeping in, and cups his hands over the soft swell of her moderately-sized breasts. He gives them a gentle squeeze, and Alicia moans louder at the arousing pressure. He grabs her waist and presses her backside firmly against his groin, grunting with mounting desire at the repeated contact between her butt cheeks and his erection.
“Now, tell me, did you miss me?” he groans into her ear as she grinds her behind repeatedly against his hardened member.
“Yes…” pants Alicia. “Yes, I did – goddamnit! Now stop talking, and let’s finish what you started!”
“Let me in right now!” the querulous voice of a young lady can be heard arguing with the security at the entrance of a prestigious restaurant in which Alicia sits, waiting for her friends.
“I’m sorry madam, but pets are not allowed in this restaurant,” the security guard explains with a solicitous but adamant tone.
“Arrgh, you won’t get away with this!”
Alicia immediately recognizes the voice, and with a chuckle, she looks back in the direction of the restaurant’s entrance where the sound of the ruckus is coming from. She is right; it is her closest friend, Omote, whose actual name is Chikamso – her closest friend and chief bridesmaid.
“Such a drama queen, she hasn’t changed a bit,” Alicia mutters with an amused shake of her head. She watches her friend through the restaurant’s French windows as she walks the white-furred Alsatian with its leash back to the curb and into the backseat of a black Mercedes G55 AMG. “Wow! She bought that?” Alicia says to herself while gaping.
Soon, the ladies are seated and laughing.
“Haba, Omo-Tee – what is with you bringing a big dog to our meeting?” Alicia queries with a smile.
“Ah-ah, I’m a dog lover nau.” At her friend’s skeptical lift of eyebrows, she adds, “OK,OK, so maybe I wanted to look for some trouble today. I’m very aware of this place’s policy of pets not being allowed in here –“
“And yet you brought a dog – an Alsatian, no less – along for our date. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you intended to create this drama for some attention from a hot dude you know will be here.” And Alicia sweeps an exaggerated look around the restaurant.
“And if I didn’t know better, I’d think I was seated at the wrong table, about to have lunch with Nancy Drew,” Omote sallies back.
There is more laughter, before Alicia asks again, “And the G55, how manage?”
“That baby parked outside?” Omote replies with a wide grin. “Let’s just say I struck a very good business deal, I delivered and got paid.”
“Omo-Tee! This is why I like talking about you. I’m so proud of you babe. Just don’t let them kidnap you o!”
They laugh again, and promptly swing on to other topics, majorly the upcoming nuptials and husband-to-be. Alicia talks about their latest disagreement and the sudden infrequent bursts of uncertainty she feels concerning her relationship. Omote listens, injecting a word of encouragement here and a word of advice there.
Soon, their talk is interrupted by the arrival of a waiter, who hands them both menus and moves discretely away from them, pending when they are ready with their orders.
“Hope you don’t mind,” Alicia says. “I invited Tobi over as well.”
“That your gay friend?” Omote says flippantly as she flips through the pages of the menu. “Sure, it’s fine.”
“E-ma sonyee mọọ, kọ nshe gay joor,” Alicia counters with a tone of voice that suggests she has had this kind of talk with Omote before. “He’s just very familiar with the ladies, seeing as he grew up with a battalion of them.”
“The more reason why he’s gay, sister,” Omote maintains. Alicia frowns at her, and she shoves her gently. “Relax joor. I’m just messing with you. I sha like having him around. I wonder why you two haven’t ever dated. You’re so close. If he was a chick, I’d be jealous.”
“Tobi and I are fine the way we are,” Alicia says with what might have been an abashed smile.
Just then, a loud voice bursts out: “Hello, ladies!” They turn to watch a young man their age, leanly built with a pleasantly-featured face walk toward their table. He is wearing a wide smile as he adds, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
Omote rolls her eyes as the new arrival plants a quick kiss on Alicia’s cheek. “If you burst out into further words of poetry, I swear I’ll throw up the lunch we’re yet to have.”
Alicia laughs. “What she meant to say was, we’ve been waiting for you. Have a seat, dear.”
Oluwatobi, fondly called Tobi by all who knew him, settles down and rests an appreciative glance on Omote. “My, Chikamso, don’t you look as ravishing as the summer skies today.”
“I’ll throw up, I swear. I’ll throw up,” Omote threatens.
The others laugh. “So, how’s it going at the company?” he queries of Omote.
“You know how it is, new publishing company, well, we’re getting entries and it’s being successful enough.”
“And you, Alicia honey, you look even more beautiful than the last time I saw you.”
“You mean, twenty four hours ago?” Alicia teases.
“Exactly twenty four hours ago. And yet, I’ve missed you like hell.”
“Oh, me too, darling.”
And the two of them lean toward each other and exchange a quick kiss, mouth to mouth. It isn’t a new spectacle to Omote; she has always known of their closeness and fondness for each other. But as far as she knows, nothing romantic has ever flared up between them. Even so, she stares at them with some reproof.
“Get a room, you two,” she says with another eye-roll.
“We would have if she hadn’t decided to get married to the rich Mr. Clarence,” Tobi teases.
Alicia giggles and says, “We should order something to eat and get on with the wedding plans.”
“And I thought we weren’t ever going to get around to that, é-bi mkpami,” Omote sighs while signaling the waiter.
Lunch is a success. There are lots of laughter and wine in between the strategizing and clashing opinions over the lunch table. By the time Alicia foots the bill at the end of the three-hour session, they are all full, giddy and more than a little tipsy, the women more so than their male companion. After repeated reassurances that she is okay to drive, Omote gets into her car and zooms off. Alicia however is in no shape to get behind the wheel, so Tobi drives her home. All through the drive, she keeps up a banter with him, laughing uproariously at everything he says. She is quite inebriated.
Tobi notes this, and helps her up the stairs to her apartment. “You’re drunk, angel,” he says indulgently as he gets her onto her bed. “You need to have a bath and sleep it off.”
“I’m not drunk joor. It will take more than a few drunks of wine to get me drink.” And she lets out a loud peal of laughter.
Tobi smiles at her. “Oh really? And how just many dranks will that be?”
Alicia laughs loudly again. “Gbagaun! You have gbagaun-ed!” And she goes on laughing, a happy sound that is so infectious that Tobi joins in.
When the delirium of their amusement dies down, they sit on the bed, close to each other, breathing together, their bodies touching. Alicia reaches out and takes Tobi’s hand. He looks at her face, looks into the suddenly inviting depths of her eyes.
“Kiss me –”
“No, Alicia, we can’t –”
“What do you mean we can’t? I’m just asking you to kiss me. Just to kiss me, Tobi. On the lips like you always do.” There is a seductive murmur to her voice now.
“Alicia, you have had too much wine…” Even as he speaks, he moves closer to her and lifts a hand to gently run his fingers over her cheek. She leans into the touch, and gazes at him, deeply at him. A thousand words are silently communicated to him in that one look. He sighs and moves his lips to her left cheek, and brushes them gently against her lower lip. He can hear the beat of his heart, roaring in his ears, and flooding his body with a rush of blood that collects in his groin down below.
And then he whispers into her ear, “Do you have any condoms?”
TO BE CONTINUED.
Written by Yvonne Alozie, @grey_adanna