Friday, August 7, 2015

MUST READ: 'Gloria, Will You Marry Me?' 4


In case you missed it, read Episode 1Episode 2 and Episode 3


Episode 4

*****
It was already one month since that day when I asked Gloria to be my girlfriend. She said yes but not before she had toyed with me. I had honestly feared she was going to say no and now I feared she would be wishing she had. Our relationship was not going well and I was to blame.

My boss was not kidding when he said I was going to be doing a lot of work. I was always at the office or at his house working on something. I had not stepped into church in a month and I had not stepped into my own house in a week. It was intense.

Gloria was not clingy but she loved to talk and spend time with me. I could not blame her; it was what loving couples do. Except I couldn’t, not on the crazy schedule I was running.

I found a way to see her every other day but never for more than one hour. That was not ‘quality time’ according to Gloria and she was right and so tonight I was determined to spend time with her.

It was not just any night for Gloria, it was her first dinner with her new organization. She begged me to come and I promised to be there. As if on cue, my boss had organised a dinner with our Finnish clients. I was devastated but of course I could not tell Gloria, I knew I would have to find a way.

“Jude, I want you by my side all through this evening.” My boss said. “I want you to hear everything I hear and I want you to record them. "

I sighed and looked at my watch, it was a few minutes to four and I had promised Gloria to pick her up by six.

“Jude, are you okay?” My boss asked.

“What? Yes sir, I am.” I said and grabbed his iPad.

“Today is very important, you can’t afford to be distracted.”

I had considered asking him for some time off but with that last statement, it was sure I was not going to get one.

‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ I had heard that statement made so many times, and I knew I had the will but the way was not as easy to find. I thought hard but nothing came to mind. It was better if I started preparing my apology to Gloria.

I started the car and backed out of the compound. I was about to drive off when my phone rang. It was Gloria. I was not sure what to do, delay the inevitable or just be a man and tell her I was not coming.

“Hello Gloria,” I said. “What’s up?”

“I’m good..can you believe that the tailor did not finish my dress? Now I have to wear the one I bought!”

“I’m sorry dear. You know you’ll look beautiful even if you wore fig leaves.”

“Of course I know that, I looked in the mirror this morning.” She said and laughed. “I just don’t want anything going wrong today. Did you know I was getting an award tonight?”

This was getting worse. “That’s great babe. An award for what?”

“There’s no way I’m telling you that.”

“I have to come and find out, right?”

“Yes and please dear, don’t be late, okay? We agreed you’ll be here by six o’clock, right?”

I paused. This was the time to tell her I was not coming.

“Hello? Jude? You’re still coming....aren’t you?”

“Oh yes, I am coming.” Aarrgh! I couldn’t bring myself to tell her I wasn’t coming.

“Okay then, see you at six then my sweet chocolaty bear.” She said and hung up.

I sighed and I drove to the office. My boss came in with our visitors and I forgot about Gloria. Truth be told, I was not held against my will all through the month, I was enjoying the project. These Finnish guys had never worked in Nigeria and were fascinated with the country. I was their first point of call and I had to show and explain a lot to them. This particular meeting was even more exciting, and with every minute I spent with them, I looked forward to going to Finland.

“Don’t you ever go out?” Inka asked during a short ten minute break. She was the youngest of the Fins at twenty eight years old.

“Of course I do, why do you ask?” I said, a little embarrassed.

“Well, you’re always here.” She said.

“Well, I do. Matter of fact, I’m supposed to be going to a dinner today by six pm.

“Six?” she said and looked at her watch. “Look at your watch.”

I looked at my watch, it was six twenty! Oh my God! Why had Gloria not called me? What was I supposed to do now?

“Are you okay?” Inka asked.

“I was supposed to go to a dinner with my girlfriend and I promised to pick her up by six.”

“But you knew you would be in a meeting, right?” She asked.

“Yes, I did but I thought somehow I would get to leave. And she did not call? Why would she not call?”

“You’re probably in more trouble than you can imagine.”

“What do I do? I need to make this right and I can’t leave the meeting.”

She smiled and went back into the meeting room. Inka was right, I was in big trouble. It was even worse that Gloria did not call. I could not imagine what she was thinking or how angry she would be. The right thing to do was to call her and apologise but I could not think of any reasonable thing to say.
Finally I gave up and went into the meeting room. It was already fifteen minutes to seven and the dinner was going to start by seven.

“Jude, grab the pointer, we need to go over the graphs again.” My boss said.

“Michael?” Inka called my boss. “I need Jude to take care of some important stuff for me. Can he be excused?”

I looked up at her with my mouth open. She looked at me and smiled.

“You mean right now?” My boss was just as surprised. “We kind of need him here.”

“I know Michael and I wouldn’t insist if it wasn’t so important.”

“Inka, surely it can wait.” Jere, the boss of the Finnish group said.

“I’m sorry Jere, it would be a lot of trouble if Jude doesn’t help me out.” She said.

“Okay, he will leave as soon as we done with the current presentation.” My boss said.

“Thanks a lot.” Inka said and winked at me.

I could not help the grin that spread over my face. Inka had just saved my life. I was still in trouble but maybe if I could still get to the dinner before they started, I could manage the trouble.

It was just one presentation but it did not end until one hour ten minutes later. I mouthed a ‘thank you’ to Inka and dashed out of the office. I already had my suit in the car and I hurriedly wore it in the parking lot. I hurried to the venue and I arrived in twenty minutes.

I waited in the car and took several deep breaths. Gloria would not be very pleased to see me, but I would have to face her anger sooner or later. I stepped out of the car, straightened my jacket and headed for the entrance.

“Welcome sir, your name please.” Some guy at the door asked me. He confirmed my name and led me to a seat.

I started to look around immediately I entered but I did not see Gloria anywhere. What if she felt so bad that I did not come and she didn’t too? Maybe I should have called her. I looked at the compere; he was saying something I couldn't hear. Where is Gloria?

“And the award for the rookie of the year goes to Gloria Damijo.” I heard the compere say and I jumped to my feet.

Gloria came out from behind a curtain and walked to the stage. I stood still for a few seconds and stared at her, stunned. She was so beautiful; I had never seen her like this. I had never seen Gloria in a dress but I didn’t think I ever wanted to see her in anything else now. She was smiling but I could tell she was not very happy and I knew why. You idiot! As soon as she got to the stage she was joined by a guy – it was Tunji, the guy from camp. He hugged her when she received the award and posed for pictures with her. I could taste the bitterness in my mouth as I watched them come down from the stage. I walked towards the stage so she could see me. Tunji held her arm and helped her down the stage, whispering into her ears. She took a step in my direction and saw me. She paused and I tried to smile, it did not quite come off. She did not look interested in my smile anyway, she walked away, Tunji at her heels.

I was confused. Was I supposed to look for her and apologise or wait for her to come to me?

I couldn’t quite decide until the dinner ended. I waited for her at the door and finally she came - once again, Tunji was with her. When she saw me, she excused herself and came to me.

“Gloria, I’m sorry. I got stuck at a meeting and…”

“You had a meeting?” She asked.

“Yes, and it was Inka, one of our Finnish partners who helped me get away.”

“You knew about this meeting all along?”

“Yes, I did. I’m sorry Gloria, I didn’t…”

“Why did you promise me Jude? All this while I tried to understand that work was taking your time but I thought maybe this once you would make the sacrifice.”

“I’m sorry Gloria.” I said and reached to touch her arm but she pushed my hand away.

“Is there a problem here?” Tunji said rushing to stand between Gloria and I.

“Guy, get out of my face!” I was livid!

“And what if I don’t?”

“Hey stop it!” Gloria said.

I turned and walked away from them. It was all I could do to stop myself from punching him in the face.

“Where are you going?”

I turned around and saw Gloria following me. “To the car.”

“You let me come alone and now, you’ll leave me here alone?”

“It doesn’t look like you’re alone. You have your camp sweetheart to take you home! He probably brought you anyway.”

“Yes he did! Because my boyfriend preferred to stay at work rather than make his girl happy.”

I clicked the door of the car open and entered. To my surprise she opened the passenger’s door and entered too.

“Do you know how hurt I was when it was six o’clock and you did not show up without any explanation?”

I looked at her face and my heart broke. I had no right to be angry with this angel. Not when I had wronged her over and over again.

“Gloria, I’m really sorry. There’s something I need to tell you, maybe it will help you understand all that has happened these last month.”

I told her about my trip to Finland in two months’ time and how it had affected my workload.

“You’re going to Finland in two months? To be back when?” She asked.

“I’m not sure.”

“So where does that leave us?”

“We don’t have to make any decisions now, it’s still two months from now.”

She kept quiet and I got scared. What was she thinking? I was in the same country with her and I wasn’t such a good boyfriend, what will happen when we are no longer in the same country?

“Gloria, I know you don’t like long distance relationships…” I started to say.

“Shhh…” Gloria said and held my hand. “Let’s enjoy the silence, okay?”

I looked at her and she smiled. I had the greatest girl in the world, why would I want to lose her. Going to Finland was great but not when compared to having Gloria. I had to make a decision about my job, it was time to talk to my boss about my girlfriend – his niece. But first, I needed to make peace with Gloria.
So I asked.
“Gloria, if I promise to stop being a jerk and treat you like the treasure you are, will you forgive me?”

******
Credit: @LordJoshWrites

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