Timi Dakolo’s ‘iyawo mi ’ fills the air in the beautiful and tastily designed Restaurant, the hand of the guitarist with the Live band was performing some magic in unison with the sensational voice of the male vocalist, the melodious combination of both the instrumentalists and the singer with his sexily dressed backup singers, held the atmosphere spellbound, turning the whole place into a coven for lovers, just that the two seated at table 4 were not lovers, ehm… ok … one is hoping seriously that the other would one day look at him with love just as he was looking at her with love at the moment.
Walking into the NOK Restaurant, Victoria Island Lagos gave her a chill, she had not been there before, though she had heard so much about it, and of course how expensive their cuisines are, her Kali Ankle Strap Evening shoes made the ‘click-click’ sound as it made contact with the marble floor, she was a bit uneasy with the sound though, she felt she was drawing attentions.
“You finally made it” Morgan said with a smile, he wanted to give her a peck, but she pulled away politely and offered her hand instead.
“I didn’t know what to do with myself” she said as he ushered her to their table where a waiter was already waiting with a list of wines for them to choose from.
They finally settled for ‘white Zinfandel’ grace has not tasted it before, so she didn’t know what to expect when she lifted the wine glass to her lips.
“You look distracted Grace” Morgan said, observing her from the tail end of his eyes
“I have not been here before” she said looking away, towards the live band
“No Grace, there is something else bothering you, what is it? What is this or who is this that is taking away your attention and leaving me with only your skeleton” he said calmly
“Ok… you remember the lady I told you about? My PA?”
“Mmhmm…” Morgan affirmed while swallowing some more wine
“I came back and she was nowhere to be found, probably she had gone back to that… that ,,, bas***d” she said under her breath
If Morgan was surprised he didn’t show it,
“Oh” was all he said
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“I don’t know how I feel about this, I am sad, disappointed, you know?” Grace continued
“Hold on Grace, these things happen, an abused woman going back to her abuser, it’s not new, and besides, we are here to enjoy the evening, not to brood over some stupid girl that doesn’t know what she wants” Morgan said
Grace was disappointed, Ken would have listened to every word she said, he would have allow her to brood over some stupid girl who doesn’t know what she want, according to Morgan, he would have forgotten that they were in a choices Restaurant and discuss Imelda with her.
“I’m so sorry Morgan, I can’t help thinking about others” Grace said, still wondering why she would compare him with Ken.
“It’s ok, so can we order our food now?” Morgan asked beckoning on the waiter
She was giving the honor to order first, Grace has never taken any liken to foreign foods, neither was she used to most of the cuisines with tongue twisting names, ‘salt and yaji shrimp, grilled lobster with spiced herb and smoked crayfish sauce, chicken piri piri with sauteed ugwu’ the last one sounded like what her grandmother would say when she want to explain that a child is having runny stomach in Igbo ‘Nwata ahu n’anyu piri piri ’ her grandmother would say. It took her almost like forever to make her order, even the waiter was getting impatient though he was smiling uncomfortably.
She finally settled for the one they called ‘vegetable bastilla’ at least she knows ‘vegetable ’ it was the ‘bastilla ’ added to it that she did not understand. She handed the menu back to the Waiter who heaved a sigh of relief.
Morgan made his order immediately, “he must have gotten used to these foods” Grace thought
He handed the Menu to the waiter and ordered more wine while they waited for the food.
“It’s like you are a regular here” Grace asked him just to break the Ice, she was already feeling awkward, catching his eyes on her each time she looked at him also made her uncomfortable.
“Why do you ask?” he replied
“The way you fit in immediately, the bartenders and the waiters already know your name, even that singer acknowledged you with a nod” she pointed out
Morgan was pleased with her observation, she could see it in his wide smile and the brightness in his eyes. He was a handsome man, she observed secretly, with a well structured jaw, well trimmed white and black beard almost flawless skin that looked like a ceramic floor, it was obvious that Morgan was a man who knows beauty and doesn’t stop at anything to give himself that touch of beauty.
“…So it seems you have not been to many intercontinental Restaurants yourself” grace only heard this part of all he was saying, he must have been recounting many of such top Restaurants he had been to worldwide,
“Not quite many” she said, not wanting to sound too local “ I personally have a thing for our local Dishes so I most times prefer to go for Restaurants that can prepare our local delicacies without adding any Oyibo spice” they both laughed at this
“I hope you will enjoy this place, I actually chose here to give you a special treat” he said silently pleading with his eyes for her to recognize his extra efforts
“Sure, the place is beautiful!, the serenity, the music the setting the waiters, I feel like a queen already” Grace said genuinely, though she still wished she would be having ‘Suya’ or ‘Ugba Agworo agwo’ instead of whatever it was she ordered
“So, why don’t you want to be my Lady” Morgan asked with food in his mouth. Their food arrived sooner than expected
“I thought we would not go into this discussion, you promised this would be just a dinner date” Grace said politely, she almost was tempted to chew the vegetable like someone with the DNA of a goat, she couldn’t make any sense out of the taste from the food in front of her.
“I know I said that but can’t you see? I like you, you are elegant, poised, beautiful and intelligent, we are good together, we can build empires, we will go places, please Grace don’t turn me down” Morgan pleaded
“Morgan, you a good Man with a good heart, you are handsome, wealthy, full of life and fun to be with, but… believe me when I say I can’t, I need some time to make this decision, give me time , I don’t want to be under pressure” Grace said
They eat in silence for a while with Morgan sending glances at her once in a while, the temperature in the hall was cold, with the alluring colored lights playing tricks to some lovers in the Restaurant. A beautiful lady had taken over from the male vocalist with ‘I will always love you’ a popular number from Whitney Huston,
Grace still had her fork deepen in the vegetable that was already as cold as an ice, she allowed her eyes to stray from their table to the stage where three couples danced to the rhythm of the music going on in slow movements, holding hands, heads on shoulders, arms cupping hips, while some had their eyes fixed on each other’s faces, smiling and giggling at little or nothing, suddenly she was no longer the spectator, she was on the dance floor, swinging her hips left and right, moving seductively close to the Man who was equally dancing in synchronization to her steps, there was no other couple, no tables and no Morgan, it was only the both of them, she and her Lover, until he grabbed her to kiss her, that was when she saw who he was, KEN
“Grace!” Morgan called her for the fourth time, she snapped out of her wide imagination.
What was wrong with her, why would she be moving with Ken’s image stuck in her head, why can’t she see any other person beyond Ken.
“Sorry … I was carried away, was wondering what is going on with Imelda my PA” she lied
It was past nine pm when a car pulled over in front of her house, he watched her stepped out of the car, with the Man that brought her home, he saw both of them lean on the car chatting and laughing, he did not hear their conversation but it was obvious they had a nice time from where ever they were coming back from, he saw them hugged and he planted a kiss on her forehead.
She froze when she saw him standing at her door step, with his face as cold as a stone, the fire in his eyes spoke volume, they both stood there, rooted on the ground, gazing at each other, one with surprise, the other with sadness.
He broke the gaze, handed her a bottle of Wine and wrap of Suya
“The Chinese company I trade with had decided to make me one of their permanent partners, I didn’t know who to celebrate with, I wanted to celebrate with you” Ken said
Grace couldn’t say anything, her mouth hung open, she felt like she was drowning in an ocean
“I have been waiting for you for about an hour now, it is obvious you had fun with whoever you went out with”
ken walked pass her, she did not turn to see him drive away, with the wine and Suya in her hands, her legs became too heavy for her to move, she swallowed hard trying not to cry, when she finally turned, the space where his care was packed was replace with darkness
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