Florence knew she was allowing her heart push her onto a wrong path.Like her friend and roommate had said, Florence had never supported the idea of adultery.
All through her university years and thereafter, she had been propositioned numerous times by married man eager for a fling. She was a pretty, intelligent and attractive woman, so men flocked towards her in droves. Despite the fact that she struggled for money, she had not let greed push her into accepting propositions from those men, refusing to cross the moral line of being involved with a married man. She had managed to keep body and soul together somehow; and her ability to resist the temptation of easy money had always been a thing of pride for her.The irony about the situation involving Jide Babalola was that when he came into Florence’s life, she wasn’t rolling in money,but her side business of pastries and stewed meats was enabling her to slowly stash away enough savings; it was a slow process, but she was growing self-sufficient.
The package that was Jide did not come with the temptation of money attached. It was purely a thing of the heart. “Good afternoon, sir.” Florence greeted Jide as he stepped out of the office for his lunch break.Jide turned to smile and return her greeting, but a certain air of expectancy in the way she was looking at him made him slow his steps. When she stood up from behind her desk, he knew he had read her body language right, she wanted to ask or tell him something.He stopped walking, his eyes instinctively running over her as she moved towards him. She was dressed in a simple dark-brown gown which subtly showed off her trim figure and flattered her long legs. As was usual these days, her hair was down, brushing her shoulders and framing her long, pretty face. Jide felt his lips curve into a smile as he noticed the small bag clutched in her hands. It bulged with a cylindrical shape he guessed was a covered bowl or a food flask. He had been patronising her regularly, buying her pastry and meats.
He braced himself to give her a gentle rebuff; he wasn’t particularly hungry. “I see you have come with your ‘market’ again.” Jide teased as she reached him. “Do you want me to add more weight than this? Am I not fine like this he? Or you want to be the only shapely, fine person in this office, right?” Florence felt her face grow warm at Jide’s implied compliment. She was conscious of Jide’s secretary, Nancy, watching them with eyes that had narrowed imperceptibly. Nancy was a bit on the chubby side, and where Florence had heard a compliment, she would probably have heard something unflattering. Florence was careful to keep her tone friendly, yet civil when she responded. “Oh, no sir. This is stewed goat meat. It’s protein, good for getting muscle mass. Not that much fat in it.” Jide shook his head.
“So you’re concerned about giving me muscles. I don’t even know how to react to that. Anyway, I have to decline today. Your stuff is delicious, but today I’ve decided to stick to fruits. Not to say your stuff isn’t sweet as well. No pun intended.” He added with a wink.Florence’s head whirled at the flirting tone and for a moment she forgot Nancy was even there. She smiled up at Jide, tongue-tied for a few seconds. When he smiled and began to walk away again, her tongue loosened. “Well, sir, I’m not selling this batch to you. I’m just appreciating my good customers today.
This is free.” She offered the covered bag to Jide, her heart racing. Jide’s eyes widened in surprise. Florence was surprised at herself too. It was an impulsive decision she had just made.Behind Jide, Nancy crossed her arms and leaned back, watching. “Well. That’s very nice of you.” Jide laughed. “I can’t very well reject that now, can i? Thank you. Just hold on to it for me;when I am ready to go home, I’ll take it with me.” Florence smiled as Jide sq££zed her shoulder gratefully and then walked out. She made her way back to her desk, feeling like she was floating, still caught up and basking in the euphoria caused by Jide’s attention. Nancy’s voice burst that bubble. “Heen?” the other secretary clapped thrice slowly. “Na wa o! You are even dashing him meat? Has it reached like that?” Florence wipes the smile from her face and scrunched her nose up at Nancy. “Reached like how? Can’t I appreciate my customer again?”“Such appreciation of…” Nancy raised her hands and made quotation marks in the air. “Customer.” Her voice was heavy with sarcasm.Florence laughed at the dramatic expression on the other woman’s face. “Biko, no think go far o. he’s just the boss. It’s not what you’re thinking.” And though the expression on Nancy’s face did not change, she said nothing more, keeping whatever suspicions she had to herself. Florence spent the rest of the day going over the brief conversation with Jide Babalola, lost in daydreams and fantasies where he told her he had feelings for her and she was helpless to resist him.Later in the day, when Jide collected her gift and left her with a smile, she scolded herself for her behaviour. It was a bit foolish to give up a huge chunk of the money she could have made in one day, just to get on Jide’s good side. She didn’t expect him to eat the meat anyway since he had decided he wanted to eat fruits that day alone. But what was done was done.
At least she could boast of one thoroughly satisfied customer, and not in the way Nancy had implied.** **Like Florence had predicted, Jide did not eat the meat. He drove home and deposited the bowl in the refrigerator, then took a quick shower and drove out of the house again.Patricia stood at the kitchen window and watched him go. He had barely acknowledged her presence, refusing lunch before going out again.
She found the bowl of stewed meat in the refrigerator and hefted it thoughtfully in her hand, wondering if her husband had already eaten outside and who had fed him. He had claimed he wanted to take only fruits, but Patricia’s paranoia had not let her hear anything but a lie coming from his mouth. She stared into the bowl, anger roiling in her stomach.With a prolonged hiss, she walked over to the garbage bin and tossed the bowl and its contents into it.Patricia had decided it was time to put her foot down.
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