3 times 3 (Part 4)

After two days of being together it was unanimous that the trip to the Epe resort was worth it. Chidera didn’t mind that Hafsat didn’t play ball. Lolade kept smiling as he helped Pepper put her things in the trunk of his car. She sat in front like the Mrs. He got into the car and kissed her several times. Pepper kissed back and was looking forward to going home. Her body ached and she needed to sleep it off. She reminisced about the 2 hot nights in a row.

Hafsat and Chidera were quiet. Chidera was not his usual courteous self. He spoke to Hafsat twice; once to ask whether he could help her with her bags and secondly to ask for her address so he could put it on Google map. Hafsat’s attempts to be chatty were rebuffed. She got the message and spent the remainder of her trip on her phone.

John drove Bellema’s car. She had insisted that they go to her place before he would set out for home. He agreed. His mantra was “anything to get ahead”

Two months later, Bellema came up with another idea for a getaway. “This time” she had told Pepper and Hafsat, “Na serious all girl’s affair” One of my friends was just made Personal Assistant to the Governor of Cross River. He has invited me to Obudu Mountain Resort. He says I can bring as many of my friends as possible. I told him that I’m not into that runs thing like that, at least not with you guys” He says it’s okay, because he owes me a favour. Let’s all agree on the date. Half of the ticket is on me, it’s my treat!” Hafsat and Pepper did a small dance then asked, almost at the same time and almost in the same words “Bellema, are you sure you are not packaging us for some Calabar men?” “Nooo” Bellema replied it’s legit. No runs. Just us Queens pampering ourselves. I hear the scenery and the food are to die for!”

At Enugu airport, Bellema fussed over her Louis Vuitton suitcases not getting scratched, as the porters put them on the trolleys. She was dressed to kill and she knew it. Pepper and Hafsat teased her about her ‘sharpness” when it came to men. They were picked up by a Cross River State Government 14 seater Bus, with 2 protocol officers. The girls chatted almost all of the 4 hour journey to Obudu.

The tram ride and scenery was adventure-like. Bellema spoke as if she’d been to Obudu before. She pointed out the waterfall and amenities on the ranch. They agreed to freshen up and have lunch before deciding on the next activity. In the dining room Pepper & Hafsat giggled when they saw Bellema walk to their table in one of her skimpy clothes. She sat down shivering and complaining. Obudu was cold, cold like Europe and Bellema hadn’t done the research to know that.

Mid-way through their lunch Pepper’s eyes were covered by someone from behind her. She immediately guessed who it was. She knew only one person who wore that perfume. She guessed right. It was Lolade. They hugged. Pepper asked what he was doing in Obudu and gave Bellema a stern look. Lolade said he got a message from John to come to Obudu for a few days to get away from the noise of Lagos and it was supposed to be a Guy retreat. He was shocked to see the girls. Chidera too, came to have lunch and was surprised to see the 3 ladies. John came in next. He and Bellema burst out laughing when they saw each other. Hafsat was quick to say “Bellema you and John planned this, abi! Why the secrecy and lies?” “Well” Bellema said, “It’s a surprise”.

They moved to a bigger table and on cue each man sat beside a lady. Hafsat was eating and on her phone. Chidera held her by the elbow and gently took her phone from her. “Ï know you don’t like me, but let’s make an effort at least to be friends” Hafsat felt silly. She looked at his face and took a good look at him for the first time and said. “I’m sorry I’ve not been so nice to you. Okay”. The three couples were laughing and chatting.

There was an argument on what next to do. It was unanimously agreed that they look around the grounds, hang around in the bush bar and do suya. They were not decided on whether to play “truth or dare” or strip poker. Truth or dare was agreed. Even Hafsat was quite excited. Pepper hadn’t played the game before and tried to dissuade them from playing it. “Okay, so if you don’t tell the truth nko?” she asked. “Then there will be grave consequences” Lolade replied, smiling.

In the middle of drinks and the meal, Lolade stood up with drink in hand. He coughed and said “I have some wonderful news to tell you guys! Let me start first by saying (he turned towards Bellema) that, that day when you got us all to meet at the Rainmaker, I wasn’t sure whether I’d like to see Pepper again. I am very happy you brought us together. The thing I want to say is that “Pepper is carrying my baby! There was silence. It was obvious he was drunk. Pepper had her hand under her chin. She looked away towards the entrance. It was Hafsat that broke the ice ‘ N gbo,Pepper is it true?” “Hafsat” replied Pepper, it’s nobody’s business! I am an adult. I can do what I like and”…. “And what?” shouted Bellema “How could you keep something like that from us?” Pepper said: “You are wrong! I don’t have to!

John laughed and said “Chidera it’s your turn to answer my question. Let’s leave Pepper. It’s not really our business. ”So Chidera, apart from the one seated beside you, is there any other woman here in our group that you fancy? Chidera thought for a while and then said, “Yes there is”. “Okay” John said, tell us who she is. “Ï fancy Pepper!” Chidera replied.

“Guy are you mad? Didn’t you just hear what she just said?” John asked. “She’s carrying Lolade’s child”. Lolade stood bolt up and announced in a slurry voice and I’m going to marry her too!” Silence again. Chidera got up and laughed, “How will you marry her stupid man, is the child yours? Too much alcohol can make a quiet and calm man become a monster. Lolade shook Pepper and said “bloody say something! Talk!” He continued to shake Pepper. Everybody stared at Pepper waiting for an answer.

Pepper had started to cry. “Lolade it’s not your Baby. Its Chidera’s” she said, getting up and making to leave. Lolade’s voice had changed now. The booze seemed to have left his system. “Pepper, how can you be sure about that when we’ve been together several times? So, you were sleeping with the two of us?” Pepper was really crying now. “Lolade I told you several times that I wanted a friendship with you I’m not sexually attracted to you!” She coughed. “All the times you think I slept with you, I didn’t. I drugged your drink and took of your clothes so you’d think we did it. Chidera interjected, “that time in Epe resort, we both went for a late night walk and we bumped into each other and…”Bellema finished it off “and kept bumping into each other!” “Well” said Chidera, she has agreed to marry me. “Lobatan!” said Hafsat.

Lolade straightened up and walked out. Bellema tried to calm him down but he asked to be left alone. Pepper and Chidera left together. John, Bellema and Hafsat finished their drinks in silence. John said to Hafsat, “since we all seem to be in “telling the truth mode” let me confess: You see this Hafsat-the girl, she is tripping me like, you won’t believe it!” Bellema eyed Hafsat. ”What do you mean John? She asked. What expensive joke is that?” “It’s no joke” he replied. I’m just telling you so that you know in case you see me chasing her. You and I still have what we have together, nothing changes” Bellema was mad. Hafsat got up and left.

They say never joke with a woman’s intuition. A phone rang in Lagos. A woman picked it up and said “Lolade, Baby Mi” How was the flight? Are you in Obudu yet? Have you had the meeting with the Governor yet?”

“Yes I am Darling” How are you and the kids?”

“They are fine. Hold on for Dami and Kitan. “Dami! Kitan! Come, come and say hello to Daddy”

There was lots of talking thereafter. Lolade slept off with a mischievous smile on his face. Pepper had been smarter than the usual girls he met. He sipped his drink and slept off.

Bellema was on the phone trying to convince her friend, the Personal Assistant to the Governor that she was in Love with him. She had thrown John’s things out of her room.

John had been knocking on Hafsat’s door for over 20 minutes. ”Honestly” he said, I had to do it because of something Bellema was trying to arrange for me. Look now I’ve lost that opportunity because of what I feel for you. I’m falling for you, can’t you see? Are you going to pretend that you didn’t see my eyes all over you?” Hafsat had dragged a chair behind the door. She was giggling as quietly as she could. She was happy that he was begging for her attention, but refused to respond. ”Dan Allah” Hafsat open up!” Hafsat opened the door and asked “Why did you say that? Are you a Muslim?” She asked, suddenly interested. “Yes” John replied, my Muslim name is Sani my Mum is a Christian she insisted on calling me John. “But, do you pray?” Hafsat asked, opening the door a little wider. “Of course I do” said John seeing that he was getting her attention. She opened the door wide and asked him to come in and sit down. ”Now, let’s listen to what you have to say. Tea of Coffee?” she asked.

The End

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I envision Hilda’s Shoulder to be a relationship park-a place you go to learn, vent and share. I have another understanding of the word relationship -I don’t think it is for people dating only. A marriage is a relationship too, and one which needs great rela- tions in the SHIP called home!
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