Lucas was exhausted. He had been in meetings all day, explaining to IT-clueless executives why they needed enhanced protection on their servers. There were days when he asked himself why he didn’t just quit and become a teacher somewhere. As he parked his car beneath the carport in front of his Abuja home, he acknowledged that he couldn’t imagine doing anything else. He’d built his company from the ground up and he was proud of what he’d achieved in less than four years. Still, there were moments. He thought back to the exec who had made a pass at him and cringed. At least this one was female.
Entering his house, he was grateful that he’d taken the step and bought property in Abuja. He was in the Federal Capital Territory almost every other week, and it just did not seem to make a lot of sense to keep staying at a hotel. So he’d bought this place. It was in Utako, a quiet area of Abuja. It was not the most expensive area, nothing like Maitama or Asokoro, but it was a decent neighbourhood.
Turning on the air conditioning, he headed straight for his room. He needed a shower. He wished he could call and speak to his daughter. But it was already midnight, too late to call Mama Rose. Taking off his cufflinks and his Piaget Dancer watch, he remembered the text message Mama Rose had sent several hours ago. He walked to the dressing table, where he’d left his phone and dropped the other stuff before picking the phone. Flipping to his texts, he felt his lips tip up in amusement when he saw that Mama Rose had sent Simi’s number with a message to call her granddaughter if he finished too late to speak to Lara.
Right. Like he was going to call a woman who clearly still hated his guts. He thought back to the way she’d stepped up to him and laughed. The woman was crazy. Just then his phone rang. He saw that it was Dele, the closest friend he had and smiled before hitting the answer button.
“Ol boy, how you dey?” He asked slipping to pidgin English.
The voice at the other end laughed, “Lucas bobo, you dey ABJ?”
“Yeah, I’m in Abuja. What’s up now? It’s been a while.”
“You’ve been making all the money, and not thinking of your friends. Continue, God is watching you.”
Lucas laughed. Dele was an oil magnate and though Lucas was doing very well, it was nowhere as well as how Dele was doing. “Dele, Dele…I know your style. You’re talking like that so I won’t beg you for money. No fear man.”
Dele chuckled and Lucas could imagine him shaking his head in amusement. “We should hang out o, before you run back to Jos. Tutu has been asking of you.”
Lucas smiled at the thought of Dele’s vivacious wife. Tutu was indefatigable. Just thinking of her boundless energy made him sag. They’d been friends before he introduced her to Dele and they’d hit it off immediately. They had been there for him through the saga with Simi.
“Ah…tell Tutu I’m sorry but not this time. It’s quite tight and then I need to hurry back.”
“Shame. Tell you what, let’s plan a trip to that mountain home of yours. We’ll take the chopper.” Dele suggested. “Just you and I…I need to talk to you about stuff.”
“Actually, that’s a great idea. No wahala, we go arrange am. Got to go guy, we’ll talk.”
“Later,” Dele said and rang off.
Lucas had a quick shower and settled in for the night. He had some quick reading to do and he still needed to go through the day’s events so he could plan for the next day. By the time he was through, it was almost three a.m. He reached for his phone. It was open to Mama Rose’s text message. He stored Simi’s number, there was no telling when he might need it. On a whim, he searched for her on WhatsApp.
She was online.
He stared at the phone for a few seconds. Then he typed…
After several minutes of waiting he decided she was not going to respond. He didn’t want to feel disappointment, but there it was. He felt ridiculous sitting there staring at the phone. He dropped it beside him on the bed and turned out the lights. Then he lay there staring into the darkness, contemplating his life. Suddenly his phone beeped.
He picked it and stared the screen. A WhatsApp message from Simi.
HOW DID YOU GET MY NUMBER?
No greeting, nothing. Yet he found himself smiling as he typed a reply.
I HAVE MY WAYS.
MY GRANDMOTHER GAVE IT TO YOU DIDN’T SHE?
SO SUSPICIOUS FOR ONE SO YOUNG. He decided to tease her a little.
There was a pause, then HMMMM
He wondered what that meant. He hesitated before typing again.
WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?
He knew he was pressing her buttons, but he couldn’t help himself. She was so easy to tease. He watched his phone for her response.
ARE YOU DRUNK?
A chuckle escaped him. Suddenly he was feeling wide awake. He sat up and rested against the headboard.
IS THAT A TRICK QUESTION?
I CAN’T DO THIS WITH YOU, LUCAS.
Lucas knew what she was talking about. It was so easy to just slip into an easy rapport with her. Easy to forget all that had gone down between them, all the baggage they both had. Simi had been his best friend and he missed that.
I MISS TALKING TO YOU.
He didn’t know when he typed that. But it was true and these past few years without her had felt like something major was missing from his life. He had tried to be with other people, but it hadn’t been the same. Still, he was not ready to get involved with her again. Well, maybe as a friend, but that was it.
YOU HAVE A REALLY SMART GIRL
He smiled at that. SHE IS THE CENTER OF MY LIFE. IT HASN’T BEEN EASY BEING A SINGLE DAD, BUT I WOULDN’T TRADE IT FOR ANYTHING.
YOU’VE DONE A GOOD JOB WITH HER. SHE TAUGHT ME HOW TO MAKE COOKIES TODAY. THEN WE HAD A TEA PARTY.
LOOKS LIKE YOU HAD A LOT OF FUN.
IT WAS OKAY. I NEED TO GO NOW. GOODNIGHT.
Lucas sighed. He could have chatted with her through the night. But he had a long day ahead and it was almost morning. He needed at least an hour’s sleep or he would be useless the next day.
IT WAS GREAT CHATTING WITH YOU. THANKS.
He waited a few minutes and there was no reply. He turned off his data and tried to sleep, but his thoughts were all over the place. He couldn’t stop thinking about her even though he knew there was no future with Simi Japheth. He needed a woman with staying power, one who would stay through thick or thin, and she wasn’t that person. He had a child to think of, he could not afford to make a mistake.
Stop by next week for chapter 7. Can’t wait? Get Simi’s Return on your kindle.