Authors: Somi Ekhasomhi
book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the
product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance
to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
2012 by Somi Ekhasomhi
rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used
in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author.
To my family,
Daddy, Mummy, Ase and Badubs, you guys are the best.
To Ebe, Tonia and
Nnenne, the friends I will always be grateful for.
To Pearl Eze, for
reading, and advising.
And for Martins…
It was always you.
Ada has her life planned out, and there’s
no place in it for men or relationships. Even if she had the time, or the
inclination, Eddie Bakare is the last man, she would ever consider. He seems to
be every girl’s fantasy, handsome, rich, charming, and so sure of himself, but
Ada is not interested in fantasy when reality keeps her very well occupied.
However, Eddie is determined to make her
change her mind. Will she be able to resist him, now that she is the center of
his attentions, and does she even want to?
At that time of the day, late afternoon,
Tafawa Balewa Square was not yet as busy as it would be later in the evening,
when the labor force from Victoria Island would arrive to queue for hours for
the Bus Rapid Transit buses that would take them over the bridges, to the
mainland. Now there was a long queue of big, empty blue and red buses, with
only a few passengers seated. The drivers waited impatiently for the passengers
to arrive so that they could be on their way. Hawkers, selling cold drinks,
fruits, boiled groundnuts, and other typical Lagos traffic snacks, sat
impatiently on the curbs, disgruntled with the slow afternoon sales as they
eagerly awaited the thirsty, hungry crowd that would arrive in only a few
On the other side of the road, walking on
the sidewalk in front of the old tennis club and holding hands, were two
schoolchildren in uniforms. The bigger one, a girl about eight years old wore a
red pinafore, a pink check shirt, black rubber shoes and a pair of white socks
that reached up to her knees. The boy, much smaller, wore the same except that
instead of the pinafore he was wearing red shorts.
Ada Arinze watched from behind them as they
moved along the sidewalk. A slim, caramel skinned, medium height figure,
casually dressed in blue jeans, black sneakers and a purple T-shirt. A wide
purple headband narrowly prevented her thick cloud of tightly curled, springy
hair from becoming a sky-high afro. She wore a camera around her neck, and as
she watched the children walk ahead of her, her hands reached for it
automatically, sensing a good picture.
The little boy was kicking his feet idly,
with the girl holding one of his hands to keep him from skipping away.
Siblings, Ada thought, on their way from school. She took a couple of pictures.
She captured the little boy as he jumped too far ahead of his sister and her
subsequent warning for him to stay in line, one hand on her waist and one
finger pointing towards his upturned nose.
After she had taken a couple of pictures,
she noticed that the children had stopped walking and were now facing the road.
They were obviously waiting for the traffic to clear so that they could cross.
As another car sped by, Ada walked up to them.
“You want to cross?” She asked with a
The little girl looked up at her and nodded
uncertainly. The boy only stuck his thumb in his mouth and smiled widely.
Ada took both their hands and waited until
the road had cleared again. It was a one-way street, but since they were in
Lagos, she made sure to look both right and left before attempting to cross to
the other side.
“Thank you Auntie.” The little girl said
shyly before running off with her brother across the concrete pavement to a
small wooden kiosk where a woman was selling fresh fruits. Their mother, Ada
decided. Probably they would stay with her in the kiosk until evening, when she
was ready to go home. Ada smiled nostalgically, remembering herself as a
schoolchild, spending the days after school in the much larger shop where her
granny used to sell provisions.
She shook off the memories and removed the zoom
lens from the camera, placing it carefully in her backpack. There was no point
in dwelling on those happy days now that Granny had returned to Owerri to live
in peaceful retirement. Even though she now felt more alone than she had ever
felt in her life, she knew it was the best choice for Granny, Lagos life being
what it was.
However, it had raised all sorts of
complications in her life. Both she and her brother Zubi had lived with Granny
since when their mother died. It had been their only option after their father
had shown his reluctance to take them in to live with him and his new wife. Now
that Granny no longer lived in Lagos, her father had refused to continue
payment of the rent for the Lagos house. He had advised Ada to go and live with
Zubi, who was married and had a young family, until she got “a real job and
could afford a house of her own, or some man to marry her and give her a home.”
Ada grimaced at the memory of the
conversation with her father. He usually either ignored her or said the worst
things to her. Not surprisingly, she preferred it when he ignored her. She
switched her thoughts to the new apartment she had found in Surulere instead.
She would have to tell Zubi about it, she reminded herself, even though he was
still mad at her for not being eager to ditch photography and take the job he
had found for her in real estate.
Frowning, she started to look around for a
commercial bike, or an Okada as they are called in Lagos. She had to wait for a
while. When you didn't want one they were all over the place, she thought
dryly, but as soon as you actually needed them, they became impossible to find.
After some time, she saw one of them speeding towards her, the rider as dark as
coal and looking as if he had bathed in dirt and grime, with his clothes on.
Ada sighed and waved him over. In a few moments, they were speeding toward the
offices of Living Lagos magazine.
The office wasn't very far from the square.
It was located in one of the less busy streets of Lagos Island. So before long,
she had paid the Okada rider and was running up the stairs of the six storey
building that housed Living Lagos. By the time she got to the fourth floor, she
was out of breath and could feel her thigh muscles protesting, but she didn't
mind. She never took a lift for anything less than six floors.
As she entered the fourth floor lobby, the
security man, Mr. Festus, looked up from the issue of Complete Sports he was
reading intently, and called out a greeting to her. He was a middle-aged man
whose round face was perpetually wreathed in smiles. “Aunty Ada!” He exclaimed,
breaking into his characteristic smile. “Why you did not take the lift?” He
asked, in his own version of good English, “Is working fine.”
He always asked her that. Ada sighed. “I’ll
take it next time, Mr. Festus.” She replied, unwilling to explain for the
hundredth time that she preferred to climb the stairs.
As she walked towards the double glass
doors of Living Lagos, she was already mentally planning the rest of her day.
Which was why, she had already started to push the doors open before she
realized that the man standing over the front desk talking to Fadeke the
receptionist was Eddie Bakare.
She stopped, reluctant to continue the
journey inside, and trying, without much success, to control the erratic rhythm
her heart had begun. If only she had seen him before she started opening the
doors, she thought desperately, then she could have gone back downstairs, gone
to lunch, gone shopping, anything rather than walk straight into him as he flirted
It wasn’t that she had anything against
Eddie, after all, he was partly responsible for the success of Living Lagos. He
was the one who had made the initial financial investment in the magazine when
the publisher/Editor–in–chief, Sophie Aliu conceived the idea for a weekly
publication that presented the interesting aspects of living in Lagos in a
humorous and entertaining way. In fact, Ada conceded, there was nothing wrong
with him. He was a pleasant enough person, with wonderful manners and well, an
incredibly, handsome face. He was okay, except for the fact that she never felt
right when she was around him.
She wasn’t attracted to him, or anything
like that, Ada reasoned. He wasn’t her type. She wasn’t crazy about tall guys
with perfectly handsome faces and male model bodies. If she had to choose, she
told herself, she would go for a pleasant face over a handsome one any day.
She just didn’t particularly like him.
There was something about that lazy confidence, that instant friendliness, playfulness,
and amiability that put her off. Everything came too easily to guys like Eddie,
and somehow, she didn’t think her good regard and friendship should be one of
He was saying something to Fadeke, probably
something flirty, judging from the way she was giggling like a maniac. Ada
snorted silently. Of course, to a girl like Fadeke, Eddie was something like a
demigod. He was rich, handsome, and extremely well mannered, just the way the
romance novels had told her that her Mr. Right would be.
As if somehow, he had heard Ada’s thoughts,
Eddie looked up and noticed her standing at the door. His face broke into a
handsome smile, as if, Ada thought cynically, she was just the person he had
been waiting to see.
“Hello Ada.” He greeted, his deep voice was
warm and friendly. He left Fadeke’s desk to help Ada with the door, and she
quickly stepped inside the office, not too pleased with the thought of him
holding the door open for her like some olden days suitor.
“Hello Eddie.” She gave him a small polite
smile, and quickly looked away from his face, resisting the urge to gawk at how
handsomely his cheeks dimpled. “Hello Fadeke.” The smile she gave Fadeke was
friendlier and lasted far longer. She walked past the both of them to her own
desk, farther inside the open office, carefully laying down her backpack and
starting her computer.
They both watched her in silence, their
conversation on hold. Surely, Ada thought, they didn’t expect her to join in
whatever they had been discussing.
“How’ve you been?” Eddie asked finally.
“It’s been a while.”
Internally Ada rolled her eyes. This was so
like Eddie, instead of accepting that she had just ignored him and that her
behavior had even been on the verge of rudeness, he would still try to talk to
her, he would still try to be nice. That was just him, too well mannered, and
too polite. Maybe it wasn’t such a dreadful thing to be like that, Ada thought,
but it was just too much for her in particular.
She exhaled, realizing that she had been
holding her breath, waiting for him to either talk to her or leave her alone.
She looked up at him and smiled halfheartedly, hoping that the look on her face
would tell him that she was too busy to talk to him. “Work has been fine, thank
you Eddie.” She turned to Fadeke, who was gawking at Eddie as if she had never
seen a man before. “Fadeke, does Sophie know that Eddie is here?”