Simi gripped the wheel with both hands and stared straight ahead. There was a tight knot deep in her stomach that wouldn’t unravel, no matter what she did. She felt like she would snap at the slightest provocation and she could not explain the ache she felt in her chest region. She took one hand off the wheel and rubbed gently at her chest, but it didn’t help.
“What did you think of Lara?”
She shot a glance at her grandmother, but the woman was not looking her way. Turning back to face the road, she shrugged, “She seemed cute.”
“Is that why you avoided her as though she was the antichrist?” Mama Rose asked.
Simi choked back a groan, “Honestly mama, I don’t know where you get your analogies from.”
“Well, what happened to you? You used to like children.” Mama Rose sounded bewildered.
Simi stiffened in defence. She did like children, but she could not look at Lucas’ child without a sharp pain going through her heart. She was the one that was supposed to have had his children. She, not some random chick out there that she didn’t even know about. It hurt to think that he could so callously throw away everything they had, all they’d shared. Expecting her to just accept the little girl was asking a bit too much from her.
“What happened between you and Lucas was not Lara’s fault, Simi. Is it fair to treat her like that just because you’re still angry with the father?” The older woman asked with a sigh.
“I’m not angry with Lucas, mama. Like you said, what happened was a long time ago. I’m over him.” Simi deliberately avoided responding to the first part of Mama Rose’s statement. She knew that little Lara was not to blame for what happened before she was born, but she wasn’t ready to fraternise with the kid. She wasn’t sure she would ever be ready.
“If you’re over the boy then why are you not married with children?” Mama Rose asked.
They were at the gate of her Grandma’s house and Simi honked twice for the gateman. She remained silent while she drove in and parked the car in the carport. Both women were quiet for a few moments and then Simi let out a deep breath.
Finally, she turned fully to face her grandmother, “Mama, God’s time is the best. Is that not what you always say?” Simi hid a smile as the other woman nodded reluctantly, but it didn’t last long.
“Fine, but don’t be stubborn and miss God’s time. You’re not getting younger and good men are scarce these days.” With that parting shot, she climbed out of the car and walked into the house.
Simi bit back a swear word as she hit the wheel in frustration. “Someday I will have the last word,” she vowed.
Simi woke up very early the next day and went straight to the kitchen. It was her favourite spot in the house and she’d always loved how cosy it was. It was January, and the weather in Jos was chilly so she was dressed in a thick ankle-length flannel nightie. She had on a thick sweater and had pulled a woollen hat over her head. She felt as snug as a bug, but a hot cup of coffee was what was missing.
She sat on the kitchen table and sipped her coffee. As she contemplated her grandmother’s garden, Simi realized that a vital part of her was missing. She had always been in deep harmony with herself, but she lost that when she went away to Port Harcourt and had acquired an edge that she wasn’t sure she liked.
She was still thinking about that when the doorbell rang. From the clock in the kitchen, she saw that it was a little after seven. Wondering who it was, she hurried to get the door and stopped in shock.
“Good morning, Simi.”
Simi felt her stomach dip and sucked in a breath. She let it out in a whoosh when she realized he was waiting for an answer. She’d gone from not seeing his cheating face for years to seeing it up close twice in a row. If he thought for one moment that she was going to talk about their past or anything else, he had better think again.
“What are you doing here?”
She watched him as his eyes travelled over her frowning face down to the hand on her waist, and saw his mouth tighten. By the time his eyes came back to hers, they were as frosty as the morning air blowing into the house from behind him.
“I came to see Mama Rose,” he said in a clipped voice.
“At this time of the morning?”
“Some of us actually work for a living?”
Simi folded her hands across her chest and gave him a hard stare. If he was trying to imply that she did not work for a living the joke was on him. She thought of the long hours of back breaking work as an engineer in an oil servicing firm…the nights she never made it home because she was out on the field…whatever. She did not owe him an answer and she was not going to let him intimidate her.
“Look, it’s cold out here. Do you mind if I come in?”
“Okay, I get that you are still bitter and angry at me…”
What! Simi raised a hand to stop him mid-sentence. “What do you mean by I’m bitter?” She could not believe the nerve. “Can you imagine you standing there and calling me bitter? Who do you think you are? See ehn, let me just tell you now to avoid me. I am not the stupid, naïve girl you used to know so stay the hell away from me!”
He took a step forward, invading her personal space, “Fine. I will stay away from you, but if you raise your voice to me like that again, I will not be held responsible for my actions.”
The steel she heard in his voice shook her. It was more potent because he did not raise his voice. Okay, she had to admit, she was intimidated, but she could not show him that. So she stepped up to him until they were almost touching and spoke in the nastiest voice she could muster.
“You don’t intimidate me. I eat little boys like you for breakfast.”
She saw surprise flare in his face and then his eyes darkened. “Is that so?” He murmured, lowering his gaze to her mouth.
Simi’s pulse began to race as the air between them suddenly became charged. She held her breath, afraid to breathe out as she watched him watch her. A slow awareness began to burn inside her. Air. She needed to breathe. She let out the breath she’d been holding and inhaled again, taking in his scent. His eyes finally met hers and the deep heat she saw in their depths made her retreat in instinctive self-preservation. She regretted it immediately when she saw the knowing smile on his face. Anger replaced whatever had been brewing.
“You want to see my grandmother? Come inside.” With that she turned and walked away without waiting to see if he followed her.
She informed her grandma that he was around and retreated to her room, careful to avoid a second meeting with Lucas. She did not understand what had just happened and she needed time, and privacy to process her newfound stupidity.
Stop by next week for chapter 5. Can’t wait? Get Simi’s Return on your kindle.