“Chukelu, we should stick to being just friends.”
I said with conviction in my voice and a fluttering in my heart.
Hegrimaced in a way that made him look even more boyish and said, “If that is what you want but I can’t stop wanting you.”
“I cannot continue cheating on my boyfriend. I still cannot believe I did. I feel like such a fraud.” I railed.
“Don’t tell him.” Chukelu said with a sad smile. It almost sounded like an order.
“What if he finds out somehow?? The Universe has a way of revealing these things, you know.”
“Well, not this one. He’ll only find out if you tell him.” He said with a calm finality as he inserted the car key in the ignition and brought the car to life. I remained lost in thought till he said in that seductive voice of his.
“Won’t you kiss me goodnight Odii? I’ve missed your lips so very badly.”
“No no no, this has to stop.” But I really loved the thought of crushing my lips again his. I involuntarily licked my lips. When he drew closer, I drew forward to meet him.
And just like that, I fell back into Chukelu’s arms and I forgot anything about being just friends for the hundredth time.
I met Chukelu on one of those days I had had a really hectic day and all I could think about was getting home, immersing myself in a bath-tub filled with honey-scented warm water while sipping white wine from a large goblet and listening to Kenny G. Reality- The only thing I had was a few Kenny G songs on my phone. No bath-tub, no scented bath liquids. Mtchew.
I had just turned onto my street when I saw him ahead, he turned as though he had felt my eyes on him. I remember averting my gaze and counting my steps and midway I realized I had drawn abreast of him. He had deliberately slowed his pace.
“Hello neighbor,” he grinned and displayed cute uneven teeth.
“Hi,” I said, my face askance, “we are neighbors?”
He smiled, nodded in affirmation, and said “Chidi’s brother.”
“Oh… he mentioned his brother would be visiting but I never realized you had arrived.” I returned.
“I came in 2 days ago, and I’ve seen you leave for work quite early, Chidi told me you’re his beautiful neighbor and he wasn’t wrong.”
I had smiled in a manner that said I wasn’t a stranger to this line of conversation, then in a bid to take control of the moment, I offered my right hand and said. “My name is Kaodili. It’s good to meet you.”
He took my hand in a warm grasp that had my eyes flick up in a rush to meet his eyes. I felt something.
“Chukelu, and the pleasure is all mine.” He said and took back his hand.
By then we had gotten to the house. So I hastily bid him farewell and made my way to my flat. I was a little bothered but it soon faded away as I prepared a light dinner and got immersed into other usual night activities before bedtime. By the time I talked to Dikachi, my boo I had totally forgotten about the pull I had felt when Chukelu held my hand for a few seconds.
With time we started talking more. He would be waiting somewhere along the way home and we would talk for a while before I realized it had gotten late and I had to run. Sometimes we met somewhere between my workplace and home and I soon learnt we had studied the same course, in different Universities of course. We had a lot in common and we had many good laughs. We didn’t know when the attraction set in and swamped us.
One minute we had been laughing over something silly on the TV in my house and the next thing we had started tearing at each other and when it seemed we would reach third base real fast he whispered “I don’t have a condom.”
I had jumped like I had been stung by a bee. If that wasn’t a wake-up call, I do not know what else it could have been.
I started avoiding him. I would take a bike home instead of walking and would say a breezy “hi” if I saw him, then fly into my house like a swarm of bees were after me. I was cold on the phone when he called. It irked me that whenever I saw him, he seemed to be highly amused at my expense. All the while, I worked on my relationship with Dikachi whom had travelled to Canada for his Masters. I did my best to banish Chukelu from my mind, it seemed I had succeeded.
One Sunday afternoon, I had decided to stay in and enjoy the rest of the weekend before the grueling week ahead. So I amped my speakers as high as I perceived acceptable and let the music wash over me. I chose blues and jazz and I had just relaxed into the atmosphere when a knock brought me right back to earth.
It was Chukelu, looking like what the angels had sent down.
“What do you want?” I faked irritation while inside I was oddly happy at seeing him.
“Your lips, I haven’t thought of much more since the first day and the last time I kissed you.” His gaze was fixated on my lips and I flicked my tongue over them nervously and laughed –a shaky laughter that didn’t pass my larynx.
“Be serious. I’m not in the mood for jokes.” I said
“Ok, I’ve missed my friend and I came to see her and talk, can I at least come in??” he had queried.
“I do not think that’s wise given what happened the last time you were here Chukelu.” I had bit out, more forcefully than I had intended. “Okay, come in and better make it fast, I’m busy.” I threw over my shoulders as I walked ahead of him.
“You don’t even want to offer me Sunday rice eh? What are you busy with? I’m sure you’re just planning to sleep. Abi you are avoiding me eh? Come let’s go out na.” He had prattled on as he walked in.
“See, if you came here to talk me into a headache, tell them you didn’t see me. You did not notice it rained heavily today and I do not like going out when everywhere is so messy? Besides, I just want to rest this weekend. So, you can sit in silence and enjoy the music or go.” I had settled back on my bed and closed my eyes, but I knew every movement he made. When I could ignore his presence no more I sat up and faced him.
“I’m attracted to you and I want to explore that, but I can’t. I do not want to. Does that that even make sense? I don’t need you around me, my body seems to have a mind of its own.” I had confessed.
“Alright, I’ll go.” He had said as he stood up. I didn’t want him to go but I knew he had to. I nodded and before I opened the door, he gave me a quick hug and asked for a kiss. I refused, and shooed him away. He didn’t give up. And since I had really felt like it, I allowed a small one. Or so I had thought. So a kiss speedily lit up to a wildly passionate sex session that had me moaning so loud I was grateful for the loud sound of Toni Braxton’s “Spanish Guitar” masking most of the noise.
“Peeeeeeeeee! Peeeee!” The car horn I had mistakenly held onto for balance startled us to reality.
“Chukelu, I don’t think we can really be just friends. When are you going back to Abuja??”
“Hahahahahahahaha, not anytime soon love” he replied.