TITLE: Love Happens, Eventually
AUTHOR: Feyi Aina
GENRE: Women’s Fiction, Romantic Comedy
PUBLISHER: Love Africa Press
RELEASE DATE: Nov 27, 2020
"Bridget Jones’s Diary meets The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives." ~ Kiru Taye, award-winning author
Nifemi Ajayi is single, not searching and not expecting to ever get married. When her younger sister trips at a family wedding event, a visit to the hospital puts her in the sights of Dr Esosa Aghomo. There is instant chemistry. Esosa ticks every box on her checklist and there’s no reason not to invite him to her grandmother's 60th birthday celebration.
Then her uncle, Toba, shows up at the party, tall, handsome and grown out of his teenage awkwardness. He is much cooler than Nifemi remembers and is sporting a sexy new girlfriend who is the cynosure of every eye present.
A death in the family and a will reading reveals a big family secret and the truth about Toba’s parentage. This raises many questions for Nifemi, topmost of which is how to handle an uncle who is no longer exactly an uncle. Even more when she finds she can’t trust Esosa.
Love Happens, Eventually is full of musings about life, love and the usual Nigerian life drama as seen from the eyes of a single girl from a huge Yoruba family whose least favorite question is when she is getting married.
The Recital is packed. I stand by the registration desk and look out for Esosa, a little worried he’s missed his way.
“Miss Ajayi,” Gbemi, the office assistant, accosts me. “The refreshment guys are already set up, but you know we told them we’d handle the drinks.”
“I know,” I mumble and mindlessly dial Esosa’s number. As co-editor at Drift Publishers, I’m somewhat in charge, hence why Gbemi came to me with those concerns.
“They didn’t provide us with ice. Do we get ice for the drinks?”
I am worried. Despite all my protests and Olamide’s teasing, today is kind of a huge deal. I haven’t clicked with anyone I like in a long while, and I am hoping we work out. We like the same movies, read the same type of magazines, play Scrabble on our mobile phones, and he’s watched Pointless at least a couple times.
“Miss Ajayi, I need money to buy ice.”
I bring out my purse and give Gbemi two thousand naira.
“Write it down,” I say to her as his phone starts ringing. “I’m collecting all my money back from you.”
“Yes ma.” Gbemi leaves.
Behind us, my friend and co-editor Lilian, is seated at the registration desk. She and the rented ushers are sorting the crowd one person at a time.
Esosa’s pleasant voice comes online, and I see someone waving at me from the back of the room.
“Hey.” I wave back and cut the call as he weaves through the crowds. My heart leaps in response, and I can’t believe I have butterflies in my stomach.
He’s got a trim, fit frame, and shoulders that carry his light grey Oxford button-down shirt with dignified elegance. It’s tucked into a pair of black jeans, with breathable black sneakers on his feet. I can’t help feeling lucky. Esosa is handsome, especially with those intelligent-looking spectacles and those ‘guaranteed to make me swoon’ dimples.
“Hi.” He plants a quick kiss on my cheek. “You look great.”
“Thanks. This is Lilian, my colleague.” I turn to introduce her.
“Hello,” Lilian replies in her cool, low-toned voice, “nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Esosa says.
“How was work?” I can’t stop smiling, I’m really glad he came.
“Exhausting, but good,” he replies.
“Thanks for making time out to come. I will be a bit busy, but I’ll catch you afterwards.”
“I totally understand. Dinner?”
“Yes.” I’m breathless.
“Great, I’ll be waiting.” He touches my elbow, gives another smile, and heads inside with the crowd trooping into the auditorium.
“Nice.” Lilian raises her eyebrows at me. “Where did you pick him up from?”
“The hospital, when Olamide broke her leg.”
“Ahhh, you’ve been hiding things from me.” She hands out more program booklets. “Where are you guys going afterwards?”
“I don’t know yet. I’m just going with the flow!”
“Did you even register him, or were you just busy gazing into his eyes?”
“I was not gazing into his eyes.” I pick up a biro from the desk. “I’ll register his name myself. I know his details.”
I hurry in my heels around the desk and score a registration sheet from one of the ushers.
“You already know his email address. How long have you guys been dating?”
Lilian’s teasing reminds me that I don’t have the actual information I need to collate data for future events.
“I’ll just text him for the info.”
I lean over the desk to start composing the text, but as I punch in a bunch of letters, I feel a hand on my lower back. It’s so warm and unexpected that I jump and turn around to see who it is.
“Cousin Toba!” My heart leaps and scatters all over the place at the sight of him. “Oh my goodness, you scared me!”
He gives me a broad grin. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
“It’s okay, I was just—” I put a hand to my heart and start laughing out loud. “Hi.” I reach out to hug him. “I had no idea you were back home.”
Lilian sort of straightens up at the table with her mouth parted. I can see the wheels in her eyes turning, as well. Toba’s build is formidable.
My head barely reaches his chin on block heels, and my face gets squashed into his soft chest—which smells ridiculously good, by the way; Ralph Lauren or something along the lines.
“Been back a while.” He hugs me for a minute and steps back to give me room to recover. Toba’s voice is several levels of deep and is one of the first things you notice about him, after you ask yourself how tall he is.
“Your mother’s birthday!” we say simultaneously as I laugh some more and his smile widens.
Cousin Toba is my grandpa’s seventh and last child, my mother’s younger half-brother from Aunty Ladepe, my grandfather’s youngest wife. We call him Cousin Toba because he is three years older than I am, and it’s hard to qualify him as an uncle. But he’s our favourite uncle, my sisters and me, my personal favourite in truth. It’s why I’m laughing frenziedly like a tickled child, and staring at him like I struck gold.
“How you been?”
“Good.” I see his slow drawl hasn’t changed. “I haven’t seen you in what, two, three years?”
“Two years, Uncle Sesan’s birthday.”
He nods. It’s weird, us meeting at a musical recital and not at a wedding or a burial or at any other family event like we often do.
“I’m fully back, working with Exon Mobil.”
“Oh! Aunty Ladepe didn’t say. I bet she’s happy.”
“You know my mum,” he says with a nonchalant shrug. “You’re coming for her birthday on Saturday, aren’t you?”
“Of course, Olamide is planning the whole thing. She will literarily hang me up by my ankles if I don’t show.”
He laughs out loud. It’s a boisterous sound, deep, warm, and endearing all at once. It makes me smile, and think of crashing ocean waves and a sunny beach.
“My mum mentioned, I think I missed her wedding. How is she, by the way?”
“Doing okay, and no, you did not miss her wedding. She had the unfortunate luck of breaking her leg at Solape’s wedding.”
“Ooooh,” he makes a pained expression.
“Hairline fracture of the tibia, clean break in the fibular, with swelling huge enough to make us all worry.”
“Wow. So how is she now?”
“Leg’s in a cast, should be out before the wedding.”
“Oh good,” he looks relieved. “I’ll be able to attend.”
We grin at each other. It’s good to see he hasn’t forgotten the family rule of everybody being at every family event.
“What about Aramide and Enitan?”
“Both fine. You’ll see them on Saturday.”
My eyes lower to his huge shoulders and wide chest. His frame is still bulky within the collared Ankara shirt he has on, but it doesn’t mask his allure.
Lilian taps my wrist just then, hinting at the fact that I haven’t introduced them both.
“Oh, this is my colleague, Lilian.” I turn to her, “my cousin, Toba Awotunde.”
“Hi.” Toba holds out an extra-large hand and pumps her dainty one with a little enthusiasm. Lilian blushes and stands to her feet. Toba’s six-foot-and-above height makes him a little intimidating when you’re seated. Plus, there’s that thing with his baritone voice. “Nice meeting you,” he says to her.
“Same here,” Lilian replies.
I can tell my friend is interested. Toba is not bad to look at.
He’s a smart, friendly guy with a first-class degree in Geology from the University of Ibadan and a Geotechnical Engineering Masters from the University of Birmingham. The pride and joy of my grandfather and his last wife, he’d worked with a multinational oil company in the US for several years and had made a ton of foreign money.
Growing up, however, he wasn’t always this guy Lilian is giving second looks to. He was reserved, tongue-tied, and took his sweet time getting anything done. Back then, I remember him as a tedious, overweight cousin who lived with us for some years, till my sisters and I discovered that he was my grandfather’s last child and therefore our uncle and not our cousin.
Observing him now, I see no trace of the past. Despite still being a little on the big side, he’s blossomed into this very confident hunk who is not my cousin.
Toba turns from Lilian to me. His forearms are thick beneath the sleeves of his shirt, and he has a black Samsung wristwatch clasping a strong-looking left wrist. It’s one of those smart step-counting things I’ve been seeing around.
“So how’s she planning the birthday, Olamide, that is, with her leg in a cast?”
I give an exaggerated shrug. “She has an events management crew, tons of staff. Ola will not let a broken leg keep her from bossing people around.”
He chuckles. “She won’t.”
“I’m curious. How did you hear about the recital?”
“My—” he turns around as if searching for someone, “— friend.”
I look around like I can spot the friend when I see her.
“She’s friends with one of the authors reading here today, and she made me promise to bring her. I wouldn’t have come on my own, but— oh, here she comes.”
I’m not prepared for the lady that saunters towards us hips swinging, hair bouncing, and body rocking the gorgeous outfit she’s got on.
“Toba darling, there you are,” she says in perfect Queen’s English and has every eye cratering in her direction. Her voice is loud, the accent British.
I am wondering how Toba knows this African goddess. I glance at him, but he is busy smiling as she strides over to us.
I can’t resist widening my own smile, because his ‘friend’ is ‘mouth hanging open’ gorgeous.
She is of average height, ultra-thin at the waist, and blessed with wide hips, a small bust, naturally pouty lips, and long, slender arms and legs. With an oval face and symmetrical cat-like eyes, her wavy, mid-back length weave looks like it literarily grew from her scalp. In the figure-hugging silk jumpsuit she is in, she looks like a model—will probably be successful at an MBGN contest if she ever ventures into one.
“Where ever did you wander off to?” she says.
“I bumped into family. Meet my cousin,” Toba says and suddenly frowns as if contemplating how best to introduce me. “My niece, relative,” he turns the frown over to me, and our eyes meet. “Femi, Nifemi Ajayi.”
“Hi.” She slides her arm into the crook of Cousin Toba’s right elbow and leans—Excuse me, squeezes—her chest into his upper arm while smiling at Lilian and me. “So lovely to meet family.”
“Hi,” I say. The sound almost doesn’t come out. Toba has had a few girlfriends accompany him to family events over the years, but I have to admit that this one takes the crown.
“Femi, meet Yinka, a friend from London Business School.”
London Business School, I had no idea he had even gone there.
Toba looks embarrassed as she leans further into him and tiptoes to graze his cheek with her lips. She laughs out loud, a hearty, bell-like tinkle that grates on my confused nerves.
“Yinka,” she says, still giggling as she turns her face from Toba’s to mine, “with a ‘C’.”
“Yinka,” I say and force a chuckle, “with a C. Nice meeting you, I see what you did there, a ‘C’ instead of a ‘K,’ Yinca, very nice. You guys should register and pick up programme pamphlets. I’m sure we are about to start.”
“Yes, do let’s hurry, sugar.” She pulls on Toba’s arm. “I want to get a good front seat.”
That ship already sailed, I’m thinking.
“Sure.” Toba watches Yinka ‘with a C’ register both their names with Lilian.
I spend that time staring at him. I know my cousin-slash-uncle-slash-relative is a shade away from being red in the face. He doesn’t need to be—he’s the envy of every guy present.
“Femi, it’s nice seeing you again,” he says to me. “I’ll see you Saturday, won’t I?”
“Yeah,” I say and smile at Yinca. “You, too, I hope.”
“Definitely, ta-ta.” She throws a beauty queen wave at me and walks into the auditorium with her arm linked in Cousin Toba’s elbow.
“Na wa o,” Lilian can’t resist saying once they’re out of earshot. “I should just cancel all my plans for your uncle. Where did he find that girl?”
“Ah, na so I see am o.”
“But that your uncle is fine,” Lilian says.
“Who, Toba?” I cringe and think of him as a child. “Don’t lose hope yet. He changes his girlfriends like he changes clothes. This one, I doubt she will last. There should be hope for you. Just come to my aunt’s birthday on Saturday. As for me, I’m going to check on Esosa.”
Lilian looks at her wrist watch and glances at me. “Love nwantiti, he left you like fifteen minutes ago!”
I shrug as I walk away from her. “Has it been that long?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Olufunmilola Adeniran writes as Feyi Aina and is the self-published author of Saving Onome and Love's Indenture.
She is the winner of the RWOWA Author of the year Award 2019 and enjoys reading historical novels, cooking and travelling. Most of her poems, short stories and novels can be found on Naijastories, Okadabooks, TCLibrary, and Smashwords. She lives in Lagos with her family.
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