In case you missed it, read Episode 1
One week had passed since I got Gloria’s number but I was yet to call her.
I did not forget, in fact, I remembered everyday but something inhibited me. Something that had consumed me so many other times with so many girls, maybe Gloria was just like any of them. But it turns out she was not.
Exactly a week after she first came to my office, she was back. I was once again sitting with the receptionist. Immediately Gloria entered the room, I jumped to my feet.
“Hello Gloria, glad to have you back.” I said.
“You didn’t call me.” She replied.
I looked at her, confused. I know I didn’t call her but I did not understand why she looked so disappointed.
“I’m sorry.” I mumbled. “But you’re here now.”
“I called my uncle; he said I should come today.” She said.
“Yeah, but he isn’t in right now. He might not be long though, want to sit for a while?”
She hesitated, then said. “I’m kind of hungry, is there any restaurant around here?”
“Oh yeah, we have quite a few around here. I’ll point you in the direction of one.” I answered.
“Okay…are you busy right now?” She asked looking at me with a puzzled look.
“No, I can walk you there if you want.” I said.
She smiled and replied. “Don't bother, just point the place to me.”
We walked out of the building and every minute I spent with her, I knew I wanted to spend more. Maybe I had been so stupid for not calling her all week long.
We got outside and I pointed her towards KFC, it was closest to us. But I was reluctant to see her go.
“Are you going to come back after eating?”
She smiled, shook her head and walked away.
I stood there and watched her go. I did not know what to do so I turned around.
“Hey Jude!” She called me and I stopped. “You are an idiot, aren’t you?”
“What?” I asked, bewildered.
“You’re going to let me eat alone? Shouldn’t you just come with me?”
Oh shoot! I felt so stupid, that was the sensible thing to do. I wanted to spend more time with her and I was passing up a great opportunity.
I walked to meet her and we walked to the restaurant without saying a word. I got the door and opened it, she smiled and walked in.
“Now that you invited me to eat with you, I hope you plan to pay.” I said.
She looked at me. “Wow.”
I burst out laughing at the look on her face. “I may be an idiot, but I’m not that stupid. I was just kidding.”
We ordered some food, I paid and we sat close to a window. I looked her at as she began to eat. She had a smile on her face, it was almost as if it was glued there. I tried to look into her eyes but they were busy working in tandem with her hands and her mouth. She was oblivious to my stare so I looked for as long as I could. Finally, she looked at my still fork and then at me. She caught my gaze and I held hers for a few seconds before I looked away.
“Really Jude? It happened this fast?” She asked with a huge grin.
“What happened this fast?”
“You’re in love with me already? Or wait, have you been in love with me since that day back in secondary school?”
“Oh, you remember that?” I tried to laugh away my embarrassment.
“Of course, I do. And I’m sure everybody in ‘JS 2 B’ does too.”
“You told them?”
“Of course I did. A senior student just embarrassed himself trying to talk to me, I told everybody.”
I shook my head and covered my face with both palms. She was having too much fun at my expense.
“Well, that was a long time ago. And guess who just asked me to lunch?”
“Of course, I did that to save you hours and hours of rolling on your bed later tonight regretting.”
There was no point arguing. “That’s true, I guess I’ll just take this defeat with humility.”
She shook her head and returned to her food. I picked my fork and started on mine. I did not get the first spoon in my mouth before I was interrupted. I noticed one of the waiters pointing in my direction, I looked up and saw Molade – the receptionist standing next to her. I dropped my fork, excused myself and went to her.
“What are you doing here?” She asked.
“I’m busy, what’s the problem?”
“It’s almost closing time and you are not back in the office?”
I looked at her with my mouth open. “Are you serious?”
“I’m going home soon and you know you have to be in the office when I leave.”
“Omolade, go and wait for me in the office. I will be back before closing time and if I’m not, wait for me!” I hissed and turned away from her.
“Better don’t keep me waiting.” She called after me.
I shook my head and looked at Gloria and I stopped. There was someone in my seat talking with her. She was deeply engrossed in the conversation, I doubt she noticed I was gone at all. She laughed and what had once been a melodious sound to me was a dagger through my heart. A dagger through your heart? I was just being dramatic, I was having a good time with her, no guy was coming in the way of that.
I walked towards them.
“What was that about?” Gloria asked as I got to the table.
“It was nothing important.” I said, still standing.
“Oh, pardon me. Jude, this is Tunji, he was my camp sweetheart. Tunji, this is Jude.”
I nodded at the guy and shook his hand. Tunji was the kind of guy you would not want your wife, sister or daughter around. He had the looks, the muscles and the charisma to sweep any girl off her feet. He bothered me, a lot. I did not seem to bother him at all, he smiled at me like I was his best friend.
Tunji did not make a move to leave my seat and Gloria did not look like she wanted him to move anyway. I looked at my untouched food but my appetite was long gone.
“I have to get back to the office.” I said.
“Really? Why? You haven’t even touched your food.” Gloria said.
“I wasn’t really hungry, I’ll just let you catch up with your friend here. I’ll wait for you in the office.”
And like that our little magical outing was over. I was devastated. I considered going back and telling the Tunji guy to bounce..but that was all I did, 'consider'
I waited at the office till everybody in the building left then I came downstairs to wait at the reception. Every second felt like a day, a slow, dragging day. It then occurred to me – what if she wasn’t coming back? She had no reason to, except me. I squeezed my face in frustration. I would wait till seven, two hours from now and then I will go home.
I heard the sound and my eyes snapped open. For a few seconds I wondered where I was and then I looked up – Gloria.
“What time is it?” I asked.
“Ten minutes to six. I thought you would have left the office and here you are, sleeping but waiting.”
“I said I was going to wait, so I waited. Is your friend here with you?”
“No, he’s gone. I’m sorry he barged in on us like that. Like I said, we were really close in camp but then on the final day we were so caught up in getting our posting letters and I lost my phone that day and we haven’t talked since.”
“It’s okay.” My mouth said but my face was not in complete agreement.
“You’re not angry, right?” She asked.
“No, I’m not. So, you and this guy, were you like…dating on camp?”
“Awww, Jude is jealous. No we didn’t date on camp and we are not dating now.”
I stood and walked to the receptionist table, grabbed my bag and we headed for the door.
“So, are you going to come back tomorrow for your letter?” I asked.
“About that, I won’t be coming here anymore. There was this NGO Tunji and I were trying to process on camp, and it was my first choice actually. Apparently, Tunji got in and he is going to help me get in too, so I will be serving there instead.”
My heart sank. Now I wished I had pointed Gloria in the direction of another restaurant or I should have gone to get the food for her. Idiot!
“So, you won’t be coming here anymore?” I could not hide the disappointment in my voice.
“I’ll come sometimes to check on my uncle. Although to be honest, I’ll do most of the checking at the house.”
I nodded and we walked in silence to the road. I had to see her again. If she was going to be working with Tunji and seeing him every day, I had to work extra hard to get her attention. And I had to start immediately. And the way to forget a bad first date is to go on a second one – in my opinion.
So I asked…
“Gloria, can I take you out this weekend?”