Don’t stop” I wanted to cry out.
As my heart continued to race, I knew that in a few moments this was going to be over.
As if to hear my internal plea, he kissed me deeper. I melted in his embrace. I couldn’t believe how much I had craved for this.
Then the picture of Lisa flashed in my mind; the one of her kissing Patrick by the pool at the engagement party.
Hot guilt came over me. Here I was kissing her fiancé after condemning her about cheating on same.
What did that make me? How was I different from Patrick?
I retreated, moved away from his embrace and turned my back on him trying to catch my breath. For a moment, we were both silent.
I needed to make him feel guilty, how else would I get over the confusion and guilt that engulfed me? Maybe if I made him feel guilty, I would get some sanity as he would try to explain why he decided to kiss me in the first place.
Did he have feelings for me?
I turned back to face him trying to look furious.
“You really shouldn’t have done that” I began.
“Well, you really shouldn’t have responded” came the nonchalant response.
I couldn’t believe my ears. That was definitely not the response I was expecting.
I stormed out of the kitchen. Missy was busy lapping the remaining milk in her plate.
Jeremiah followed me into the living room.“Could you serve breakfast please, I am starving,” putting his hand right hand on his belly and rubbing it dramatically.
I shot a glance at him, there was a smirk across his lips. How could I be in love with such an insensitive man as this?
“Ask Lisa to make breakfast for you!” I shot back.
The response came before I could stop it. Did I just say that? I hated myself for feeling this way, he was very sure he was getting to me. He even kissed me for the fun of it!
He came to me, getting too close that I stepped back. He smiled and said matter-of-factly.
“It wasn’t Lisa I just kissed.” He was looking into my eyes now.
It was difficult to read him. He had a mixture of affection and that ‘I am the champion’ look.
I struggled to hold his gaze. His lips seemed pinky from the kiss. The picture of him standing there, looking at me like that melted my heart the more. I wanted to kiss him again.
“Don’t go to dinner with Gregory, Isabella,” he said.
Of course, that was what this is all about! He came here to ask me not to go to dinner with Gregory. How could I have been so stupid? He kissed me as a bribe, as a distraction.
“I should have known. All these was about my dinner date with Gregory” I managed to say, almost in a whisper.
“Bella, I came here to ask you not to go on that date with Gregory. The kiss just happened” came the dreadful response.
Just happened! Just happened! That rang in my head like a church bell.
“This isn’t the time to get emotional, Bella. At least, not in his presence.” That logical part of me that chose to run off when Jeremiah was seducing me in the kitchen suddenly stepped forward.
What would Ego do? My friend had warned me to be careful. She could kiss ten men and would feel nothing. But these men are not Jeremiah Young.
This was the time to be brave.
“I want to go to the dinner with Gregory and i would go to dinner with Gregory.”
What I said next surprised even me.
“Jeremiah, with all due respect, I am hungry and I do not intend sharing my breakfast with a man who just happened to kiss me. Besides, I have a dinner to prepare for. May I kindly be excused if there isn’t any work-related issues you would like to discuss with me?”
He looked at me, I couldn’t tell what was going on in his mind because his face was expressionless.
For what seemed like forever, he continued looking. He then nodded and turned, walking towards the door.
At the door, he turned and looked at me.
“Have a lovely day, Isabella. I apologise for taking your time.”
Missy meowed. Jeremiah looked at her, looked back at me and then turned the knob to open the door.
He stepped out of my house, closing the door behind him.
I wanted to run after him, to ask him to stay for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With the way I felt now, I could ask him to stay forever.
Missy meowed, heartbroken without receiving at least a goodbye stroke from her new crush. I looked at her. We were both in love with Jeremiah young; my cat and I.
He hadn’t even considered the kiss to be anything. He had kissed me and termed it as something that just happened.
“What were you expecting, Isabella? That he breaks off his million dollar engagement and make a home in your heart? Yeah, right.” Logical Bella mocked.
Missy came to me and used her head to rub my legs. I carried her and sat on the sofa. Jeremiah’s scent still filled everywhere. I could still feel his lips on mine.
Tempted to call Gregory to cancel dinner, I wished I didn’t get entangled in all of this. Would it have been better if I never signed up to work for Jeremiah Young? Or better, still if I hadn’t even met him at all?
I thought deeply. If I cancelled on Gregory, Jeremah would win. His coming to bribe me with a kiss without considering my own feelings would yield the results he wanted.
Then he would feel he can do anything with me and get away with it. And where would that leave me?
I decided on still going for the dinner with Gregory. I made up my mind to look extremely gorgeous too. If this was the only way to get back at Jeremiah for making me feel completely stupid, then this was the perfect opportunity.
Missy meowed, this was the first time she would take to a stranger.
“I know, I know, my dear cat… I love him too and he broke my heart as well. But then, I guess he is just way out of our league.” I said, stroking my cat.
However, that didn’t seem to cheer her up
Finally, evening came and I settled for a black knee-length sleeveless chiffon gown.
When Gregory called me earlier asking to come pick me up to the restaurant, I declined. I wasn’t about to be at his mercy or the mercy of any cab driver should I decide to leave the restaurant on my own timing.
So, I decided to take my own car; Jeremiah’s company’s car. Such irony!
My thoughts on Jeremiah lingered. What if he decided that he didn’t want me to work for Edgewood anymore? Well, he couldn’t do that. I was familiar with my rights.
However, I knew I was being disobedient. Maybe rebellious… and I hoped it was all worth it.
Missy had slept when I stepped out of the house at 7:30pm. It was a 30-minute drive from my house to the restaurant.
Ego had called to say she would be back that night but may probably not see me till Sunday or Monday evening.
In my mind I knew that was a lie because I could almost picture her driving to my house at any opportunity she got asking for ‘gist’. A lot had happened and was still happening with me and these two men for my friend to keep her curiosity in check.
As I drove down to the Restaurant, memories of Jeremiah’s kiss filled my mind. His smile, his mini-drama of being hungry and rubbing his belly, carrying Missy as she curled her tail gleefully, none seemed to elude me.
All of these brought smiles to my face which didn’t last when I remembered how he told me it was just a kiss and walked out on me and my cat.
I didn’t know when I got to the restaurant; my mind was too occupied as I drove.
As I walked in, I spotted Gregory at the far left of the room. He was different from what I saw in the tabloids. He was finer, way finer. His eyes were sweeping the room in anticipation until they finally rested on me. His smile was still the same.
He stood up to reveal a perfectly tailored white shirt with no tie on sleek trousers. He was still smiling as I walked down to where he was. Leaving his seat, he came towards me and extended his arms for a hug.
“My Bells” was what came out of his dark, full and rounded lips. He had always been a lot taller than I was. After the hug which seemed to take forever, he looked at me admiringly, still beaming.
“Look at you, you have grown to be such a beautiful woman. I always knew you would do just fine.”
“I always knew you would do just fine too,” I responded “You have changed, yourself,” I responded as we took our seats.
“Really? What changes do you see, Bells?” He asked.
I couldn’t deny I missed him a bit. Or maybe too much.
“Don’t worry about that, Gregory. Changes are inevitable. I am sure you know how much you have changed.” That was my dismissive response.
“Still stubborn as ever,” he laughed revealing a set of perfect dentition I used to admire so much back then. Funny how I still did.
We ordered and we ate in a brief silence, he didn’t stop looking at me. I knew I had limited time with him, but I just didn’t know how to begin the conversation with Edgewood and Pentagon House or better yet, him and Jeremiah.
Meanwhile, I knew that was the last thing on his mind as he stared at me like a spectator captivated by a football game.
I decided to break the ice.
“How is your daughter…and if it’s safe to ask, Toju.”
He dropped his cutlery, “Isabella is fine, she is at my mum’s for vacation. Not sure about Toju, I haven’t heard from her or about her in… ” I didn’t let him finish.
“Isabella?” My eyes shot up at him. “You named your daughter Isabella?” My eyes had become narrow. Was he kidding?
He looked at me squarely. By now, his countenance had changed and all of a sudden, serious.
“I never stopped loving you Isabella, how could I ever allow your memory fade from my heart. Every moment of my marriage with Toju, I longed for you. Before my marriage was over, it already was. My daughter was the only thing that kept me sane. I couldn’t bear the thought of your absence in my life. Whenever I called your name, and my daughter answered, it gave me sanity.” He smiled and then his mind seemed to drift off a bit. “She is also stubborn, you know. And she rolls her eyes just like you do.” He finished, I could tell he adored his daughter.
“So your way of achieving sanity was to name your daughter after me? Wasn’t that disrespectful to your wife?” I blinked.
“She tricked me, Bells. She manipulated me. She knew I was in love with you. I never really told you what happened that night she conceived my daughter. I was drunk. She knew. I make no excuses for myself. It was a one-off thing. She planned it the whole time. How could I ever love a woman like that? She took twelve years of my life, twelve years that I spent without you. Twelve years of wondering what you were doing. Twelve years of pain.”
Was it my eyes or were there tears welling up in his eyes?
By now, my mouth was opened. I stared at him as he spoke with so much emotions.
God forbid that Gregory Banwo started to cry here. Only God knew who was a reporter or blogger among those stylishly looking at us in the restaurant.
“Gregory, there isn’t any need beating yourself up, it’s over and passed. You have a beautiful daughter from your involvement with Toju. I have forgiven all you did. Maybe it’s time to forgive yourself and your ex-wife,” I managed to say.
Now he was holding my hands and his smile was back.
“I was glad when I was learned that you weren’t married.” His gaze didn’t leave mine.
“Meaning?” I blinked.
“You would know in no time.” He grinned.
I didn’t probe, I only released my hands from his, picked up my cutlery and began fiddling with my chicken. Now was the time.
“Concerning Edgewood…” I began and looked up at him only to see his countenance change.
“Can we not talk about Edgewood here and now, please?” he said sipping his wine to hide his discontentment.
“Why not? What do we rather talk about?” I asked.
“Us” He said. He took my hands again and with a smile he said, “Isabella, I want you back.”
I wasn’t sure if it was the chicken I was eating that stuck in my throat or his words that had hung there.
Either way, I knew it was time to gulp my wine.
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