If this pepper soup could not revive her taste buds, nothing could. She tried to take another spoon, but her throat rejected it. Swallowing had become a chore. Funmi dropped the bowl of food on the table beside her and sipped some water. It tasted bitter; she had to restrain herself from spitting it out.
Kayode had dropped the meal about an hour ago, before leaving with a promise to come back for the plates when she was done. He was soon going to be back to see that she had taken just two spoons. It was unfair to his cooking expertise not to eat at least half of the meal, but she also did not want to embarrass herself by vomiting and watching him clean up after her. She wasn’t sure her pride could ever recover from such an ordeal. Moreover, the young man was trying, it would be unfair to add to his stress.
When Kayode came back to the room after another fifteen minutes, Funmi was already asleep with her plate seeming untouched. He sighed, and wondered for the first time if bringing her here was a good idea. He had no clue or experience whatsoever in taking care of a sick person, and Funmi legitimately needed care. Beads of sweat had formed on her face, and he could not even tell if it was a sign that she was getting better or if it meant that she was hot. It had to be the latter. His windows were shut and the air-conditioner was off.
Funmi woke up from her sleep as soon as Kayode began to open the windows, but pretended to be asleep, still. Her nose was getting really stuffy, and the headache had crept back, a sign that her earlier dose of pain killer was wearing off. She didn’t want Kayode to see her struggle so she was glad to see him leave the room.
He was not gone for long. Funmi opened her eyes when she felt him dab her forehead with a cold towel. That was definitely the last thing she needed and she moved away swiftly. Not anticipating her movement, he lost his balance, the bowl of water shook, most of its content spilling to the ground, wetting his floor.
Funmi felt like a spoilt child, particularly because she also didn’t want to apologise. He had no right to be trying to touch her with water when she felt so cold. But she definitely wasn’t prepared for an apology from him nor did she expect it. So, when Kayode apologised, it broke a part of her. She hadn’t responded, but watched him go into the bathroom, return with a mop stick and clean the mess the water had become on the floor. After cleaning, he quietly carried the now cold meal and left the room.
“I am a difficult guest,” Funmi said out loud as soon as Kayode left the room. The man was going out of his way to take care of her despite the panic in the society. She wasn’t even sure if any of her extended family members currently living in her house and fully dependent on her for sustenance would be devoted to her care the way he had been doing. She needed to rectify her behaviour immediately, so she reached her mobile phone. Kayode must have switched off, and switched it on.
Funmi was not prepared for the number of emails and text messages that flooded her phone as soon as it was powered. This was probably the first time in a long time that she had switched off her phone. She sent Kayode a thank you message, and apologised for being a difficult guest, then went fully went on to respond to her emails.
Ten minutes later, Kayode was back. He had read her message, and had come to let her know that no offence was taken. But the position he saw her was shocking. Funmi was fully scribbling something in a notepad, and typing on her phone. She looked pale, almost as if she was going to faint any minute. Instead of going into the room immediately, Kayode slipped back out only to come back some minutes later with Funmi’s bowl of pepper soup, freshly warmed and with a can of bitter lemon drink.
“I hope that’s your meal”, Funmi said and returned to the quick budget she was doing on her notepad. She missed her laptop badly. She had considered asking Kayode for his address so that her office assistant could deliver the things she needed to work effectively. Kayode placed the food on the table, and removed the notepad and the pen from within her grasp.
Funmi was irritated. “I don’t get what you are trying to do,” she stated. Kayode responded with a smile. She may very well be older than him, and a whole boss lady and a half by all accounts, but she was in his bed, in his house, her health depended on his care, and he could no longer afford to be soft. He was done being a puppy to Funmi. She needed a firm hand right now, and his was the only hand available.
“You have the strength to write, and send messages, let’s help you find the strength to eat too,” Kayode said, still smiling, fully aware of Funmi’s irritation.
“I can’t eat. I tried,” she bellowed.
“Let’s try a little bit harder. I will help you” Kayode said, dragging a chair near her, ready to feed her.
“Do you plan to shove it down my throat? Because that’s the only way that spoon is entering my mouth,” Funmi said and slumped into the bed, pulling the cover cloth to her chin. She looked absolutely adorable; Kayode would have given anything to join her. But he was on a mission and he was not going to back down.
“I will use any means necessary, Darling,” his use of the endearment shocking him. Funmi didn’t seem to notice though, she was just angry. Kayode was taking things too far, and she needed to leave his place. But unfortunately, she was isolating here till the test results were obtained.
“I am not the enemy, you know” Kayode said, sensing her irritation, as she sat up again, ready to fight him. “I just want you to get well. We are on the same side; your side.”
Funmi softened “I appreciate you Kayode. To be honest, I don’t even know why you are doing this, taking a risk, and– ”
Kayode didn’t let her finish, “It’s because you are special.” Funmi smiled.
“I am serious,” Kayode continued. “You are special to me. I wouldn’t do this for just anyone”. He held her hands, “But you,” he sighed, “You are different. You are not anyone.”
The atmosphere in the room had changed. Even her headache did not seem as tense anymore. Funmi realised that she hadn’t misheard him previously. He had called her “darling.” For some reason, he was no longer seeing her as madam, and she did not know how to feel about that.
Her choice on how to feel was quickly taken away from her as, Kayode sat on the bed beside her, put her head on his chest, and began stroking it softly. It was a bold move to make, but Kayode couldn’t help it. He needed to touch more than just her hands. Funmi, on the other hand, revelled in the feel of his hands in her hair, on her head, gently against her scalp. In that moment, nothing else mattered; just the feel of his hand in her hair and the sound of his heartbeat to her ear. Kayode’s heart was beating fast.
Slowly, he released his hands from her hair and asked “Will you try to eat now?”
Funmi could not find her voice. It took more than a few seconds before she finally said, “I will embarrass myself if I eat. I don’t want to throw it all up, and give you any more work to do.”
Kayode held her hands and smiled, “It’s fine, give me work. I’ll be happy if you at least try.”
She really did not have an appetite. She knew, though, that it was practical to eat; just another task on her to-do list. Yes, that’s how she’d think of it. “Okay, Kayode. For you, I will try,” a slight smile formed on the corners of her lips.
With that one statement, Kayode’s heart warmed..Was he getting through to her? Then Funmi added, “Sooo if I do that for you, you will do something for me. For every two spoons take, you will let me respond to an email.”
Kayode hid his disappointment. “How about we make it five spoons?”he countered, expecting a pushback that surprisingly never came., Instead, Funmi took the spoon from him and took her first spoonful..
It was a long day, but they managed to get by. Thankfully, Funmi had finished the entire bowl of food, even though it had taken the better part of four hours. Work was too important to Funmi. She had finished the food because it gave her the chance to do more work.
She had even convinced Kayode to send for her laptop and other working essentials that arrived within the hour. Her staff definitely took instructions seriously. Looking at Funmi now, even while sleeping, she commanded respect.
James, his Doctor friend had phoned in to know how she was feeling. He talked him through changing Funmi’s drip over the phone. It was not easy but he came out on top, mostly because Funmi did not fight him on this.. James was scheduled to stop by the next morning with the test results. Kayode hoped and prayed that COVID-19 would be ruled out, but whatever the case he was not going to back down. Funmi is a fighter, and so am I! Together, we will fight this disease!
There was no confusion anymore; this was more than a crush. He wanted Funmi, on his arm, as his wife, and in his bed. The irony! He was living in a plot twist where she was in his bed, but nowhere close to being his.
Without question, he knew he was going to have to sleep in the guest room for the night. He wondered if he was going to do a vigil for another night in a row. How could he sleep, when the object of his fantasy was in his home?
The decision to sleep, or not to sleep was taken away from him; nature had its way.
Funmi was awakened around midnight by the loud sound of a roaring thunder, and Kayode’s gentle snores. He had probably slept off on the chair while watching her sleep. The poor guy was probably so tired that neither the sound of the rain nor the discomfort of his sleeping position was enough to wake him up.
It gave her a chance to look at him. For the first time since she had met him, she saw him. Kayode is a fine man. She absolutely loved his body. She blushed, thinking about his body, but it didn’t stop her. Funmi had not become a success overnight. Her boldness, tenacity and foresight were responsible for her success. She never wasted time in assessing a situation, with respect to making the best move. She has had 48 hours to detect this truth; Kayode had strong feelings for her, and they did not just start within these two days.
The question then became: what was she going to do about it?
Life has a sense of humour. There is no doubt about it. How could the one man who was willing to drop everything to be by her side, and risk his life while trying to save hers, be her friend’s younger brother? It may have been the sickness, but she found that she considered Kayode appealing; feelings were a whole different ball game. It was too soon to know, and was definitely a bad idea. Even with men her age and older, there were issues with regards to control. She couldn’t imagine how anything significant could brew between her and a guy as young as Kayode. For a brief moment, her mind wandered to the Netflix show, Love Is Blind. Was she being a Jessica?
Nevertheless, as the rain began to pour, she made a decision. She would help him get over these feelings of his, even as she tried to get better enough to leave his house.
There was another loud clap of thunder. Kayode woke up startled, his eye meeting Funmi’s. Immediately, he rushed to close the windows, worried that rain had spilled in to disturb her sleep.
Funmi’s headache intensified, and it had nothing to do with the illness this time. How was she going to help him get over her, when she herself was beginning to enjoy his attention?