Holding my breath, a nervous wreck as he slid my panties down, worried about my inexperience. Am I going to please him enough? Then he stopped. I said to myself, “This is it, he knows. He’ll leave me”. I asked with utmost fear, “What is it?” but he said nothing. He just looked at me, very deeply as though he could see through my soul and said, “I adore you Christine”. In that instant, all my fear melted away.
I woke up the next morning not sure of where I was. I looked around the bed and slowly the events of last night came flooding back. How Michael had treated me like I was royalty even while doing unspeakable things to me, he found a way to make me feel like I was the luckiest girl on earth. Oh Lord, I groaned slowly massaging my temples as though that would make me forget.
“You’re awake mi amor,” he said as he walked into the room with a tray of breakfast delight in his hands.
He knows me so well, I thought. I smiled up at him, and just as I was about to speak, he leaned in and kissed my forehead then whispered, “Thank you for last night mi amor”. Those words, what did they mean? Simple thank you but in that moment it made me feel like my work here is done. And he said it in the sweetest way possible.. Why does he call me “mi amor” anyway? I hated it. I am not one for endearing nicknames but I never found the courage to tell him because I knew it would hurt him. He went to culinary school in Spain for a year and that was the only Spanish I heard him speak.
He called everyone “mi amor” even his maid. Everyone was tired of it but no one said anything. “Thanks.. thank you?” I stuttered my voice failing as usual. His very presence weakened me. I never knew what to say. He looked at me intently and said “Yes, thanks mi amor, last night was special to me. Was it special to you?” he asked. I gently nodded. He smirked as though giving himself a pat on the back and said “Of course it was.”
I started at the croissants he’d made and realized I had lost my appetite. He must have sensed it as he slowly took the tray away from me and planted a kiss on my lips. I lay back knowing what was to come. He took off his robe and I closed my eyes thinking of how much I loved him. Hoping thoughts of how good he made me feel would numb the pain as he took me for the umpteenth time. I had lost count last night.
“Wake up, mi armor!!! Christine!!!!” I startled almost falling out of bed still wrapped in the cum-stained sheets.
“What is it Michael?” I asked and then he looked at me and said the words. The words I would never forget.. Those words that haunt my dreams till this day, “You have to leave mi armor, my wife is on her way.”
“Yo… Your.. wi… wife?” why does my voice always fail me in times I needed to show strength?
“Yes, my wife, Christine. You have to get dressed,” he said as he threw my clothes to me while looking for something very intensely on the floor. Christine? I thought to myself. We have gone from mi amor to Christine?
“My shoes are in the bathroom” I said easing his burden when I realized that’s what he was looking for.
In the four months we dated, Michael never told me he was married but in that moment even as I tried to gather the remains of my dignity, one underwear after the other, I realized I had been foolish. Of course he was married. Why else would someone so perfect want me? Someone like me: short, somewhat beautiful, naive me. I was 19 years old, 5’6 tall and very light skinned. But I never got crazy male attention maybe because I wore no makeup and I hated dresses as they showed my legs, a part of my body I wasn’t a fan of. Guys my age never looked at me twice but for some reason, older guys couldn’t seem to take their eyes off me. I had concluded that my dream of marrying a young handsome man was farfetched and I’d settle for a not so old father. But Michael had changed that. We met in a supermarket close to my school and he said he couldn’t take his eyes off me the moment I walked in. I remember that day vividly. I wore a sweatshirt with “University of Lagos” inscribed boldly across it paired with my faded denim jean. My hair was wrapped in a bun and I had smeared my sister’s lip gloss on my lips before leaving just to make her shut up about me not putting an effort to be pretty.
I walked in, got a shopping cart and started making my way across the aisles, taking just my personal effects while calculating the price before I got to the counter. This was something I always did. I passed by the provision aisle and I stood, my eyes fixed on a jar of nutella. Did I really need it? I asked myself. Deciding against it I walked to the counter, emptied my cart and waited for the cashier to attend to me.
“I saw you look at this,” the cool, deep voice said beside me. I remember hearing the voice and I thought of Yul Edochie, the Nigerian actor whose voice I loved. I turned and there he was. The most handsome man I had seen that month. He was tall, dark skinned and bearded. I didn’t pay attention to his eyes. I was stuck on his beard. I stared at it as though it was dripping of glorious sweet smelling male essence. I later realized that was just his cologne. I let my eyes wander to his fingers and when I didn’t see a ring I sighed.
“What?” I said as I snapped myself back into reality.
“I saw you look at this and I thought I’d get it for you. I hope you don’t mind,” he said and held up a jar of nutella. I wanted to refuse but then I thought of my sister, and the names she’d call me once I tell her the story and I thanked him.
“No, don’t mention. It’s my pleasure,” he said.
I forced a smile and returned my attention to the cashier who gave me a weird smile as if she was trying to communicate with me as a female. I ignored her expression and brought out my money to pay.
“Please, let me,” he said. That voice again. I was ashamed of how wobbly my knees got when he spoke but I kept it under control. He probably knows my sister and wants to ask of her I thought to myself. Why else would he be so nice?
“You really don’t have to”.. I started to say then thought of my sister again.. This girl will kill me, I thought to myself, “but thanks,” I completed. He nodded saying nothing as he handed the cashier wads of 1000 Naira note. I looked around to see what he bought that’d cost that much but all I saw was a bottle of wine and perfume. oh, I thought to myself, my sister Francine would like this guy. I carried my bag and started walking out of the supermarket. I felt him follow me and silently prayed he’d leave me alone.
“Can I give you a ride? Where are you headed?”
I turned to him and said I would walk since my hostel wasn’t that far.
“Oh” he said looking like a lost puppy. “Can I have your number then? Please? I’d really like to see you again.” I wanted to tell him no and return his money to him but there was something about the way he talked, his aura and I also thought of how happy my sister would be.
“Sure,” I said as I stretched out my hand gesturing for his phone. He dialed my number immediately and it rang in my pocket.
“Had to confirm,” he said smiling. I nodded and said I was leaving. He offered to give me a ride again and when I refused he said he’d call me later and drove off. I boarded a taxi and went back to my hostel excited about telling my sister what had happened, I went straight to her room but met her absence. Disappointed I went back to my room and lay on my bed thinking of him till I fell asleep.
I awoke to Beyonce’s love on top playing on my phone and I just lay there, too lazy to get up and answer. If it’s important, whoever it was will call again, I said as the phone stopped ringing. The phone rang again, I sat up and stretched. I picked it up and looked at the last four digits. I didn’t recognize the number. “Hello,” I answered, irritated already as I assumed it would be a colleague of mine asking to borrow a note or textbook. I had prepared my answer “No, I’m sorry. I’ll be using it,” when I heard his voice.
”Hello beautiful, Its Michael, we met at the supermarket earlier. I hope you got home okay.”
Michael? I gulped. If I thought his voice had an effect on me before, the phone maximised it. It was like a hundred thousand decibels of pure greatness. His voice was the kind I felt every man worth anything should have but then again, if everyone had it, it wouldn’t be that special would it?
“Hello Michael, yes I did. Thanks for asking,” I finally managed to say.
“Don’t mention mi amor, how are you?” We spent the next two hours on the phone talking about nothing and everything. He had a good sense of humour and listened to me talk like he was genuinely interested in the things I had to say. He told me he was 28 years of age and I was disappointed not because he was way older than I was but because I was almost sure that if he found out my real age, he’d leave. I told him I was 20 not so much a lie I thought to myself. 19 and 20, who cares? We were still talking and laughing when my sister walked into my room and stood, staring in awe at me. Clearly a roommate of mine had gone to call her as they’d been grinning and making funny sounds throughout the duration of my call. I frowned, slightly angry. What did they take me for? Is answering a phone call for that long a very strange thing? Then again I thought to myself, I didn’t really blame them, I hadn’t been the most flexible person so their shock was well-founded.
“I’m sorry Michael, I have to go study now,” I said to him when I noticed my sister wasn’t planning on leaving.
”Oh, I’m sorry mi amor, I honestly forgot I was talking to a student. I’m usually more disciplined I promise…hehe…” he laughed.
“It’s fine Michael. We’ll talk later” I said. He started to say something else but I had already ended the call. I spent the next hour telling my sister all about him, surprisingly with less enthusiasm as I had earlier in the day and revealing as little information about him as I could.
”I want to meet him. Let me know the next time he calls,” Francine said.
”Sure,” I replied but I knew that was not going to happen. For some reason, I felt the need to keep him from her maybe because I was a little scared he’d see her and immediately realise how really plain looking I was.
For the next couple of weeks, Michael and I were inseparable. I don’t know what was more appealing about him: his looks or his personality. Michael was a child at heart. When he wasn’t away at Abuja for work, we went swimming, dancing, he took me on road trips and bought me gifts at every chance he got. We went to a karaoke bar one time and I laughed until I wept when he tried rapping along to Nicki Minaj’s anaconda while making weird movements with his waist. I later found out he was trying to twerk. That was my Michael. I realised I was in love with him when he finally met my sister and he shook her hand for a second then turned all his attention back to me and said “Francine, I’m in love with your sister.” That evening was the first time we kissed.
“I don’t want your school work to suffer because of me Christine!!!”
“Well then, maybe you should stop asking to see me every day!!!” I yelled back at him. Results for that semester had been released and I had failed two courses. He was with my phone when the text came in from Grace, a friend from school and Michael had flipped yelling at me for failing. I didn’t understand his anger because I was the one in school, not him. I made this clear to him and he called me a child. That statement aggravated me so much I left. I went back to school and cried myself to sleep. He called the next day apologising and saying he was just concerned. I apologised too and promised to pay more attention to my studies. That was our first and only fight.
Michael was a stud. Anywhere we went he had females staring at him, this was uncomfortable at first but Michael had made me feel so secure I started to enjoy the attention. The issue of sex had come up in the third month of our relationship and I had made it clear I was not ready to go that far with him yet. He said he understood and that he’d not bother me. But this was not to be as he asked for it at every opportunity he got. The next month, he proposed a weekend get-away at his house in Abuja and I knew he had gotten tired of waiting. I was ecstatic…finally, I can put Francine to shame I had thought as she had repeatedly expressed concern as to why my boyfriend never invited me to his house. I immediately agreed to follow Michael to Abuja. I talked to Francine about it and she was so excited for me, I genuinely felt bad for thinking ill of her earlier. She took me shopping and bought me a pink and red lingerie and a very sexy night wear. She stocked my bag with a packet of durex condoms muttering “You should never rely on a man for protection” under her breath.
That was it, I was set for a weekend of bliss. I got to Abuja that morning and Michael was at the airport waiting to pick me. I ran into his arms and he said, “Welcome mi Amor. I’ve missed you” I grinned and followed him home. His house was all I imagined, beautiful. I noticed there were no pictures or paintings on the wall and he dismissed the question saying he wants to re-decorate. He bought me my favourite chocolates and we stayed watching TV until it was late.
The pink or red? I kept asking myself in the bathroom. I couldn’t pick which lingerie to wear so I called Francine…”
“The red!” she said almost immediately, ”is there a robe in the bathroom?”
I looked around and surely there was a robe. How did Francine know these things?
“Yes, there is,” I replied.
“Okay, wear it over the lingerie and tie it loosely. Christine?”
“Yes? I’m still here”
“Be careful, make sure he uses protection, don’t listen to any excuses.”
“Ok, thanks. Goodnight” I said as I hung up. Would I be able to make Michael use protection? I dismissed the thought and said a silent prayer that he’d use it without my asking.
What were you thinking Christine? He was too good to be true, you knew that. How could such a beautiful man be yours? I lay in the dark thinking to myself. It was just 8pm but I had shut the door of the hotel room and switched the lights off, trying to force myself to sleep just to escape my new reality. The car ride after I left his house had been silent. Michael hadn’t bothered to explain his failure to tell me he was married and I had been too afraid to ask. As we got to a hotel, he pulled over, brought out a bundle of cash and gave it all to me. I stared at him in disbelief, holding his gaze, he took his eyes away from mine.
“I’ll call you Christine,” he said as I stepped out of the car. He drove off almost immediately and I stood there watching the tires of his Benz screech as he tried to leave as fast as he could and I knew in that moment that he would not call.
I picked up my phone and called Francine. She listened to me tell her everything that had happened amidst tears. When I was done she said, “Do you have enough money in your account for a flight home?”
“Yes, I do.” I told her.
“Okay Chris, I’m sorry for what happened but you have to forget about him. Don’t answer his calls or give him any opportunity to talk things over. He’s married. You don’t interfere with another woman’s marriage. I just checked online, there’s a flight from Abuja to Lagos by 2pm tomorrow, book it now, stop crying, we’ll talk about it when you get back tomorrow. I love you. I have a test tomorrow. Goodnight,” She hung up.
I dropped my phone. I was used to Francine’s tough love, she hated tears and I remembered all the time I had to stop myself from crying around her even when mum died. I was mortified. I cried every day for weeks but Francine hadn’t shed a tear. At least I never saw it. I cried some more, now thinking of my mother till I fell asleep.
I woke up to 15 missed calls and 3 text messages from Michael which I ignored. I was never going to speak to him again. It was hard but it was the right thing to do. I had fallen in love with someone’s husband without knowing it and I was going to do everything possible to move on. I ordered room service and paid with the money he gave me. I ate while watching television and when it was 12pm I left for the airport. I arrived in Lagos and went straight to school. While in my room I thought about the last three months and all the signs I had ignored stood out clearly. How he always answered calls with me out of earshot, how I’d found implicating text messages in his phone and he’d said there were from a crazy stalker in Abuja or how I had called him once and a lady picked up the phone. I immediately dropped my phone and he called back hours later saying she was his personal assistant. How was I so blind? No, I thought to myself, I realised I wasn’t blind, I just refused to pick at the multiple sores in our relationship because I was afraid of how much the wounds might hurt.
Francine and I never talked about Michael again and I knew better than to bring it up. It was her way. “Ignore the pain until it doesn’t hurt anymore,” was one her favourite lines. So that is exactly what I did and after a while, I realised it still hurts but not as much and I was going to be fine.
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