It is often said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.In Jide Babalola’s case, the saying held true. He loved to eat, but wasn’t particularly adept in the kitchen. The extent of his culinary prowess was boiling water and even at that, he had fallen asleep once when he was living alone during his undergraduate years, and woken up to see his kettle red-hot on a fuming stove. So after then, he admitted his failure as a cook and stayed away from the kitchen.But his inadequacy didn’t stop him from enjoying food. He ate in restaurants till he got married and even after then, hardly ever missed one of his daily three square meals, even if it meant eating out of the house. He was a six foot plus, muscled young man, blessed with a high metabolism that melted away any iota of fat before it settled on him; he felt he needed all the nourishment he could get to replace the calories he burnt away quickly.But sometimes a man’s stomach is not just a highway to his heart. It can be a highway to his death.** **Florence Iheanacho was not surprised when Nancy dropped her desk phone and informed her Jide needed her attention.
It had become a fairly routine occurrence for Jide to summon her for duties ranging from official to just a little chitchat to pass the time. Their friendship was waxing stronger every day. “You called sir..?” Florence began to ask as she stepped into Jide’s office.She stopped talking when she realized he was on the phone, a finger raised to signal her to be silent. He gestured to the seat in front of his table and walked to the lone window in his office, peering through the parted blinds as he continued the conversation.Florence settled into the chair and watched him surreptitiously. Jide’s shoulders moved as he laughed at something the person he was conversing with said. The sound warmed Florence’s heart. There wasa pure female appreciation for the timbre of his voice, but she was just happy he sounded at ease. Because of their growing closeness, she suspected Jide Babalola was not quite happy. He sometimes had a faraway look in his eyes that Florence felt spelled trouble at home,even though he assured her his wife had totally forgiven his indiscretion with Anita Bankole.
Florence only hoped that was actually the truth.She let her eyes run over him one more time. he was dressed impeccably as usual; brown chequered tie knotted expertly, perfectly complimenting his crisply starched beige shirt, tucked into darkbrown trousers held up by a brown belt. His colour coordination was always on point, and Florence smiled when she noticed his shoes were two-toned, brown and black. She felt proud of his handsomeness and spiffy look.His cologne drifted to her nostrils and she frowned as she noticed another smell in the room. It seemed savoury and she surreptitiously sniffed at her own palms, hoping she hadn’t brought the smell of the sautéed meat she sold in with her. “Isn’t that smell glorious?” Jide interrupted Florence’s secret investigation. He ended the call he was on and walked back to the table. “That was my oga at the top. Weird call. Almost seemed like a second job interview.” He sat down and sighed, taking a deep breath. “Food smells are the best in the world.” Florence laughed and shook her head. “Even better than the smell of a woman or her perfume?”Jide hesitated.
“Well, your hair smells nice, but still….food is king!” Florence laughed, watching as he slid a bag out from beneath his desk and pulled out a covered bowl. When he cracked open the lid, the smell of something stewed and delicious filled the office. Florence’s mouth watered immediately. She peered into the bowl and shook her head as she saw the pile of stewed meat sitting on a small heap of rice. “Yoruba men and meat. See how happy you look.” Jide grinned and pulled the bowl closer to him. “This is joy on a plate.” Florence shook her head as she saw him reach into the bowl and pick up a big piece of dripping meat. “Oga, atleast wash your hands na. Haba!” Jide laughed and ducked his head forward, bringing the juicy morsel to his mouth to avoid getting his shirt stained. “This is just tasting na. Who washing of hand epp?” The piece of meat was scant inches from his mouth when Florence’s voice stopped him. “Wait! Don’t eat that yet.” Jide paused, and raised his gaze to find Florence frowning at the dish. “What’s this one? First, you send me meat and then you tell me not to eat it.” Florence’s frown deepened but she did not look up from the bowl. “What? I didn’t send you this food, sir.” Jide frowned in turn, surprised. He had actually called Florence in to thank her for the surprise food he had found in his office, but her response meant it wasn’t her handiwork. Despite his surprise, the siren call of the meat was too great. The motion of his hand continued towards his mouth. “Well, God bless whoever sent this…” Florence reached out and swatted the morsel from Jide’s hand. His eyes widened as the piece of meat bounced onto the surface of his table and then rolled to the marbled floor. Jide jumped to his feet and stared down at a few drops of oil that had landed on his immaculate shirt. “This is just great! Florence! Have you lost your mind…?” He stopped as Florence pulled the bowl towards her, picked up a pen from the table and dug through the savoury pieces of meat. “What the hell are you doing with my food?” Florence looked up, her eyes wide in alarm. “My goodness! Oh my God!”Jide started to protest angrily again, but Florence’s next words stopped him. “Sir, there’s broken glass sprinkled in this food! That’s really dangerous
Eating this could kill you!”
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