THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT…..(18+)…..Part 44


Florence Iheanacho did not feel a need to leave the office floor she had been assigned to anymore.It had been a week since her conversation with Jide Babalola about his near-accident, and everything seemed to have fallen in place. She had lost her anxiety about working near him and there was no awkwardness in their interaction and conversation. If anything, their friendship had blossomed. They maintained the distance that the boss-secretary dynamic required, but there was no denying that they were close. Although Nancy was suspicious of all the time Jide spent perched on the edge of Florence’s desk chatting or munching on the snacks she sold, with a clear conscience, Florence was able to assure Jide’s secretary that the strengthening friendship was totally platonic.When she told Felicia the same thing, her friend had another theory. “Hmm, this is interesting. You know, maybe this notion I always hear a lotabout is true. You know, the one thatsays true friends of the opposite s-x will always have some degree of sexual attraction between them, but once they satisfy that curiousity, they can then move on to a real, honest friendship, free of sexual tension. Sometimes those relationships end up in the best marriages too, you know.” Even though Florence had brushed her roommate’s theory aside, she couldn’t help but wonder if her friendwas right. even if it were true, she was sure of one thing, the friendship would not lead to anything else.
Jidewas already married and off her books. After much thought, she decided not to worry over it too much. So long as she was once more happy at her workplace, as far as she was concerned, all was well with the world.** **Jide was not as happy as Florence was.He was relieved about the pleasant and welcoming atmosphere in his office, as he felt it helped the secretaries to be productive, but the real reason for his growing closeness to Florence worried him.He just couldn’t talk to his wife.All seemed pleasant in his home; Patricia seemed to have moved past her anger. She kept him fed and well taken care of; and since he was mostly useless in the kitchen and with laundry, he appreciated it greatly. She occasionally struck up some conversation and regularly asked him how his work days were and she seemed to be working, her freelance writing kept her occupied.

They had even visited his mother and although he had been tense a few times, waiting for some kind of explosion, the visit had been uneventful. Patricia had been the smart, witty wife he was used to and his mother had been sad to see themgo.He felt an ache when he remembered the brilliant conversations that had attracted him to Patricia in the first place. Their courtship had been the stuff of romantic books- a connection basedon mutual respect, physical chemistry, and admiration for each other. Patricia was a strong, confident woman, willing to bend over for her friends except when the knife of betrayal was plunged to close to her heart. Jide knew his betrayal was unforgivable in the books of the woman he had wooed and married, so her acceptance of his infidelity was startling and worrisome. Was it possible she could have simply chosen to forgive and forget? Jide could find nothing to indicate she had not decided to letthe Anita incident go, and it wasn’t for lack of looking.
The fact was thatPatricia seemed to have moved on and was almost back to being the woman he had stood before the altarwith.But Jide still felt like something was wrong. For no reason he could pinpoint, Patricia’s behavior still seemed like a well-oiled act to him.
The feeling stopped him from being totally open with her and he spent hours watching her surreptitiously, wondering when the hammer would fall. He was intelligent enough to consider that it could just be his conscience that was pricking away at him, but his uneasiness told him itwas more than that. He had been unable to imitate any romantic overtures, and other than a few chaste kisses and hugs, his wife had also kept her distance, but he had put that down to the almost-zero sexhabit the last few months had established between them.While he looked rested and content outwardly, Jide was a mess of emotions inside. The type of honest conversations he used to have with his wife during the good old days were now only possible with Florence Iheanacho. He gladly took advantage of the young lady and herlistening ear, using her wit and smarts to calm his worried mind. He knew she was acting as a mental surrogate for his wife and he did not know how long the situation could last without going haywire.He did not have to wait too long.Barely a week after his near accident, Jide felt the cold brush of death again.


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