Jide arrived at work the next day, looking composed and dapper as usual, but he was actually walking around in a state of shock that was close to an emotional breakdown.He quietened the voices in his head as he responded to greetings and chatted briefly with some colleagues and other members of staff on his way up to his office floor, habit pasting a smile on his face.He was so distracted that when he reached his office reception lobby and Florence greeted him, he failed to notice the way she brightened up as she saw himor how she flipped her hair to draw his attention to its length as it travelled over one side of her throat. He answered her pleasantly enough, then noticed Nancy’s desk was unoccupied.Florence followed his eyes and pre-emptedhis question. “Oh, Nancy called in sick again. She had a relapse of her last illness;I’ll be filling in for her today.”“That’s alright.” Jide murmured with a distracted smile. “Good thing I have you around to take care of me, right? I know I’m in good hands.” Deep in his thoughts again as he opened his office door, he did not see Florence’s face writhe in pleasure at the double entendre in his words nor did he hear her stifled giggle. He was only focused on sinking into the chair behind his desk and sinking his head into his hands as he remembered the incidents of the night before and the infuriating event which hadended his night.Anita had delayed him from returning home by over one extra hour. Jide had finally arrived dishevelled and sweaty, onlyto find that Patricia had already dropped ascathing note for him and left for the family dinner on her own. Disheartened and feeling guilty, he had cleaned up, fixeda quick dinner for himself and then retired to their bedroom. Feeling bloated after the meal, he decided to clean the house up a little and arrange the bedroom, figuring it would lessen his wife’s anger when she returned from the party.In the course of re-arranging his wife’s clothes and rearranging her shoes and bags, he came across a pair of boots Patricia had never worn since he bought them for her. He had just straightened up with the pair in his hands, shaking his head at women and their need to amass countless shoes, when a small sheaf of papers fell out of one of the boots. Jide was about to push them back in, thinking they were receipts, when he noticed the unique crest of their family hospital on thepapers.Fifteen minutes later, Jide was sitting on the edge of the bed, mouth open in shock as, for the second time, he went through the medical papers he had discovered. In black and white was the summary of the fertility issues his wife’s gynaecologist had discovered. He gaped at the reports, shaking his head in shock at the magnitude of his wife’s betrayal.
How could she have kept some important information from him?His conscience pricked at him.Are you anybetter? You’re both keeping secrets. Wow, what a couple. United in betrayal.Jide had returned the papers to where he found them and curled up in bed, nursing an instant headache as he tried to decide the next step to take. Was this condition responsible for his wife’s recent behaviour,he wondered, and why would she think it was fair to leave him in the dark about it?Jide’s thoughts moved from shock to anger quickly and when he finally drifted off to sleep, he was plagued with dreams where his wife stabbed him in the back over and over.
The next morning he had been stiff and unresponsive to Patricia. She had roundly scolded him for missing the party the night before, but he only responded with grunts, too upset to even look her in the eye till he left for work.Now he sat behind his office table, head inhand, so lost in thought that he failed to hear the gentle knock on his door and the muted sound of Florence’s sensibly low heels tapping on the floor as she dropped a beverage-filled tray on the corner of his table.Florence paused, concerned by the picture of Jide lost in what seemed like serious thought. His body language screamed distress and she could not stop herself from taking a few steps close to him and placing a hand on his shoulder. “Sir, is everything alright..?” Florence stifled a small scream as Jide shot to his feet, his heart thumping with anger at what he thought was another uninvited intrusion from Anita, who never respected his private space. Spurred by hisraging emotions, her growled her name, his hands already reaching for her and gripping her upper arms bruisingly before he realized it was Florence standing beforehim.Jide’s eyes widened and he immediately gentled his touch as he pulled the shockedsecretary closer to him. “Oh my God, I’m sosorry, Florence. I’m so sorry!” Florence’s own heart was also hammering hard in her chest. First it was from shock at how angry Jide had looked as he gripped her and called her Anita. Second was the realization of how close she was to him; his cologne ran down her nostrils, stealing her ability to think. Jide pulled the shivering secretary closer, his own nose inadvertently filling with the sweet smell ofthe shampoo she used for her gorgeous hair. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, his next move borne on instinct.Before Florence and Jide could come backto whatever senses each other’s nearness had stolen from them, their heads moved fractionally till they were in the right position for the inevitable to happen.Caught in a maelstrom of emotion and shock, Florence Iheanacho and Jide Babalola shared their first kiss.
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