After a few days of keeping the news of what happened with Jide Babalola to herself, Florence finally let the cat out of the bag.They were both preparing to go to their respective workplaces and Felicia, her roommate, had just crossly mumbled about another episode of Florence m0an!ng Jide’s name in her sleep. “One of these days, I will just wake up and stuff a dirty sock into your mouth.” Felicia threatened, glaring at Florence as she neatly tucked her white shirt into the waistband of a black skirt. “I know what your problem is. Shey you know ‘konji’? Ehen. That’s your problem. Stop fantasizing about a married man and look for a young, unattached, virile young man to cure you.” There was no electric power and their shared bedroom was warm. Florence was standing at the open window, looking for acool spot to finish moisturizing and combing out her hair. She grinned at her roommate’s complaining tone, turned around to retort and ended up letting the confession escape her mouth. “He kissed me.” Felicia frowned.
“What?”“Jide. He kissed me at the office a few days ago.” Felicia cocked her head to one side.
“Are you pulling my legs?” Florence tried to keep herself from looking too pleased. “Nope. He grabbed me and kissed me, just like something in all those romance novels I like to read. And Felicia, it was awesome!” The other girl was not sharing Florence’s delight. “This is bad, Florence! Very bad! He’s married, for goodness sake!”Florence felt a spurt of anger pass throughher. “You’re one to talk. When has that everstopped you?” immediately the words left her mouth, she regretted them. Her friend was very sexually active and not too picky about her partners, but Felicia had never had reason to use it against her.Felicia paused what she was doing and looked Florence square in the eyes. “I’ll justignore that.”“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” Florence sighed and a note of frustration entered her voice. “But why can’t I be happy Jide kissed me? I know it’s wrong but I liked it, and I like him! Who says I have to be the good person all the time?” Felicia picked her words carefully before she responded. “Like you’ve pointed out, I’m no angel myself. I’ve dated all sorts and we both know it, but that’s me. I enter these things clear-eyed, knowing exactly what I want and what I can get. And even then, I still have lines I will not cross. For instance if I had accepted that Alhaji’s proposition, I would not be sharing this tiny room with you.” Florence looked apologetic. “I didn’t mean to call you loose…”“It’s fine, Florence. I’m not angry. I’m just telling you I have my own principles I don’tignore.” Felicia assured her. She walked over to Florence and held her hands. “You have even more lofty ones than I do, and even though I tease you about them, I havealways admired that. This whole thing with Jide is a betrayal of what you believe in. But then, you’re human and will break your own rules sometimes- just be careful you’re not expecting too much from it.” Florence mulled over her friend’s words as they finished dressing up and left the house together. She was early and had time to kill, so she walked to work slowly, musing.Was Felicia right? Were her expectations of Jide Babalola unrealistic? She knew he liked her, not just for her understated beauty but also for her mind. Since the kiss, he had been a bit more formal but no less friendly and she had seen no sign thathe meant to repeat what had happened. He still bought her stewed meat and paused to exchange pleasantries, while she surreptitiously stared at his mouth andwondered when next they would kiss.Should she make the next move?Twenty minutes after the leading character in her mental romance gymnastics arrived at work after Florence did, she was still pondering over that question.Nancy had still not resumed work and Florence spent the better part of the morning chewing on her nails and agonizing over the bold move she was tempted to make. What was the worst thatcould happen?When she entered Jide’s office with her decision reached, she was so tense, she forgot to knock. Jide was on the phone, pacing behind his desk, his blue shirt gleaming in the afternoon light streaming in through the windows.
Florence’s breath caught at how handsome he looked, his shirt stretching across broad shoulders and chequered tie knotted crisply, giving him his trademark spiffy look. He looked even better than he had in her dreams. Wildly, she wondered how he would truly look with his shirt off.Jide turned at the noise and stopped his conversation to look up crossly at the intrusion, his phone held away from his mouth. “Anita, for heaven’s sake…!”He paused when he realized his mistake, his words tangling as he saw Florence standing by the door with a pile of folders in her arms“Oh, Florence. I’m sorry about that. I was on the phone; I must not have heard you knock.” Florence was hearing something else. She had not failed to notice the recent friction between Jide Babalola and Anita Bankole. The woman had barged into Jide’s office a few times in the past week, and the encounters always ended with raised voices and Anita leaving Jide’s office abruptly, glaring at Florence on the way out. Intrigued, Florence had timed the fights correctly to have started just after her kiss with Jide happened and incorrectly assumed she was the reason for the quarrel between Jide and the woman she suspected was his lover. Whatif kissing her had made him realize he needed something purer that what he had with Anita? Something deeper?The thoughts pushed her feet forward and she carefully placed the folders on Jide’s table, then swiftly went around to where hewas seating before her resolve failed.Jide watched her come towards him with a hesitant smile that faded into a confused frown. Just before she reached him, he realized what she was going to do and his expression blossomed into alarm. Before he could open his mouth to protest,Florence lightly placed her arms on his chest and leaned in for a kiss.Florence Iheanacho was lost in exhilaration. Jide Babalola was simply lost in anxiety.
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