Jide Babalola wasn’t sure he knew the type of man he was anymore.One moment he was sure he would not break his marriage vows again and the next, he was naked, pounding away at Anita in a venue of her choice. He was also sure he detested Anita Bankole and her pushy, lewd manner but as soon as they found a private spot, despite his feelings, he found himself a willing participant to their illicit games, carried away on the waves of pleasure her voluptuous body and hot whispers gave him.He could never get away fast enough fromthose encounters and he was always riddled with guilt and regret for days after, but it didn’t stop him from going back whenever Anita called. Even though she dangled the carrot of her power over him on the corporate ladder, he knew it was notserious enough to be the main reason he kept returning to her. Superstitious fear filled him. Had Anita used some kind of charm on him? She was notorious for getting whatever she wanted. Had he inadvertently started something he could not stop anymore?But he rationalized it away, realizing that kind of thinking was also another attempt to excuse his lack of self will. If he had been charmed, he would not know he had. It was merely a case of weak will and bad timing. Starved for affection and intimacy,he had fallen for easy temptation and just tasted the forbidden apple and now he was becoming a glutton.Home was no refuge for him. There, he had to face Patricia and her remoteness, with only his guilt to keep him company. They hardly ever touched each other and conversation was strained, filled with painful pauses when he wondered if she knew of his infidelity and was only torturing him with her silence. So he spent most of his time hanging out with friends and the rest, at work. And that was where his second source of refuge lay.Florence Iheanacho.Jide Babalola was drawn to her gentle beauty and seeming innocence. It seemed a great contrast to the chaos that his life had become and he was fascinated by it.Each workday started with her smile and usually ended with it. He was tempted to request specially for her to be assigned as his own secretary, but he suspected the move would raise brows in the office, and possibly scare her away. He did not want to give the impression that his interest in her was anything but friendly.Florence, in turn, glowed under the new attention from the handsome and charming Jide Babalola. Her conversations with him were witty and filled with laughter and talking to him became the highpoint of her day.While Jide grew more fascinated with her for reasons he was not quite sure of, Florence’s feelings grew more definite. Shehad fallen hard for Jide Babalola. Even though she knew he was a married man, she had slowly begun to ignore her misgivings. “Florence, you know this matter had passed ‘be careful’ o.” Felicia, her roommate warned, eyes wide with alarm. She had just interrupted one of Florence’s running commentaries on how awesome Jide Babalola was.
“The way you’re sounding about this guy…”“How am I sounding?” Florence cut in crossly, glaring at her friend. It was late in the evening and they were both sitting on a bench in front of the building where they lived. The Gbagada evening traffic crawled past sluggishly on their street, motor bikes whizzing around cars filled with frustrated drivers. A gutter nearby wafted a dank smell towards them, but they ignored it, noses used to the punishment.Felicia looked around to make sure no oneelse could hear, and then lowered her voice. “You know he’s married. And you’re gushing over him like this. It’s not right.” Florence knew her friend was right, but shepushed down the feeling of guilt that stirred in her. “And what makes you think I have any plans to steal someone’s husband? We’re friends, that’s all.”“Well, maybe he thinks you are. But do yousee him that way?” Felicia asked, swiping away the mosquitoes that danced above her friend’s head. They had both covered up properly before coming outside to sit, but still the mosquitoes hovered. “If he notices you like him, he could take advantage o.” Florence brushed her friend’s warning aside. “Nothing dey happen jare. We’re friendly, that’s all.” But she knew she was lying. And somewhere in her heart, she hoped Jide would notice how she felt about him. If he did and made a move, Florence wasn’t sure of how she would react, but she had resolved not to think about it.When and if that problem arose, she woulddeal with it.And so, that was how the love life of the man called Jide Babalola stood. Married to a woman who didn’t seem to care; cheating with one who he didn’t care for; and loved by one he didn’t even know cared.And yet, his troubles had only just begun.
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