“You are a baby,” Funmi said as Kayode painted her toenails. The lockdown had definitely brought out a side of her she didn’t even know she had. This was the first time in forever that she just sat leisurely in her living room with no work-oriented tasks. She had come to realise that with Kayode, there would be many first-time-in-forever experiences. With no new contracts at the moment, she had more time on her hands to play, so she allowed herself to breathe and get to know this man who had become so important to her. The timing of the relationship was so appropriate for growth. Two Sundays ago, while at her office, Funmi had given up on the possibility of being able to make the relationship work. They were so different that it felt as though it was going to be a waste of time.
Kayode didn’t think so, and he had proven it to her. That day, as he drove her home, he held her hands in his and assured her that they were going to make it work. They were not teenagers; they didn’t have all the time in the world for trial and error. They just needed to evaluate the situation like two adults in love.
“You love me?” Funmi asked as Kayode drove into her compound. He parked, turned to her, held her shoulders and gently twisted her to face him.
“You are the only woman for me; no one makes me feel the way you do. Beyond mere feelings though, Funmi, I feel a strong connection to you; something I haven’t felt for anyone else before.” He held her right hand to his chest, “can you hear how it’s beating?” Funmi nodded, tears already forming in her eyes. “My heart beats for you. I am so excited to be with you and I am confident that you won’t leave me at the first excuse.”
A tear fell from Funmi’s eyes, and Kayode wiped it. She was never the emotional type, but Kayode’s words did things to her that she couldn’t explain. “I don’t want to leave you.”
Kayode caressed her shoulders softly, “then don’t leave me. We can make this work. Let me help you fall in love with me.”
Funmi put her palm on his face, “I think you are already doing that.” Kayode smiled. They could definitely make this work.
A couple of weeks in, in spite of his efforts, Kayode still had not gotten Funmi to say the actual words I love you. Instead of that, Funmi would smile. He teased that he’d stop saying it; hence why she called him a baby. He rolled his eyes playfully at her and continued painting her nails. Funmi smiled.
“Does it matter if I say the words or not?” Kayode did not answer; he just covered the nail polish and kept a straight face. Funmi tickled him, and he laughed. The laughter was a mockery of her effort rather than the product of the tickle.
“If I do my own, you will roll on the floor,” Kayode said smiling.
“Try me,” Funmi responded.
Kayode was really tempted to tickle her till she rolled on the floor, but he restrained himself. If he got into such a playful mood right now, things would probably go a step further than he planned. He found that he was extremely attracted to Funmi, so he had vowed to be more cautious than usual. He planted a kiss on her lips, and stood up.
“Does it matter if I say the words?”
“Yes, it does,” Kayode replied.
“No, it doesn’t. Feeling it is much more important.”
“Telling me you feel it is important too,” Kayode said gently, trying to appeal to her soft side, but Funmi’s soft side was hard to crack.
“Alright, I will think about it,” she said opening her laptop.
“You are just a stubborn woman,” Kayode replied, feigning hurt.
Funmi smiled, “and you my darling, are such an impatient man.”
Kayode rolled his eyes at her and disappeared into the kitchen, where the Cook was making them lunch, as Funmi laughed. She was really enjoying this relationship more than she thought possible.
Even though the relationship was only a few weeks old, Kayode had become a regular guest at Funmi’s house. He came and left as he pleased and no one ever stopped him; they knew that he was Madam’s man.
Funmi’s house was a big mansion with eight rooms ensuite. It was like a mini palace that made his apartment feel like a guest room, but Funmi always preferred to be in his place rather than hers. He had expected that she would live in a big house, but this was more than his imagination. She also had people living with her in the house from her nuclear and extended family; no wonder she always escaped to the office. Kayode, on the other hand, liked visiting her at her house because it helped him know her better, and he also wanted to know some of the people close to her.
As he entered the kitchen, he found one of her step cousins fixing himself lunch. They greeted familiarly even though they barely knew each other. The guy moved closer to Kayode, obviously encouraged to do some small talk.
“You are the first man we have seen in this house. Your game must be really tight,” the guy said. Kayode managed a weak smile. This line of conversation irritated him but he managed to keep a straight face.
The guy did not seem to get the hint. “Sister Funmi is tough sha o. You have your work cut out for you.”
“It’s really not your business how your cousin’s relationship progresses, but thanks for watching out.” Kayode said, causing a chuckle from the Cook.
“You handled that quite well,” the Cook said as soon as the nosy cousin stepped out. Kayode smiled. The Cook was his favourite person in the house, not because they shared a profession, but because he knew she genuinely cared for Funmi.
“But I understand where he’s coming from,” she continued. Kayode raised a brow in query, and the cook quickly continued to avoid being misunderstood. “You truly have your work cut out for you. My boss is a special woman, and I am glad to see you together, but her attention span is so short and she likes work more than anything else, so if what you share is going to last, you will need a lot of patience and understanding. She is a woman like a man, so it won’t be…”
“I don’t agree that she is like a man, she is just a different type of woman, my woman, and I won’t be stupid to allow anything flimsy come between us,” Kayode said, interrupting the cook and ending the conversation.
Funmi stepped into the kitchen just then, and put her arms round Kayode’s waist, oblivious of the Cook who had gone back to sink to find something to wash. “I didn’t think you were going to abandon me in the living room just because I refused to say the words.”
Kayode smiled and pecked the back of her palm, “Well, are you ready to say them now?”
Funmi smiled, and removed herself from Kayode to pick a clean apple from the slab, “I probably would have said it if you didn’t run away, but now, I guess I will just eat this apple.”
Kayode tried to snatch the apple from her, but she took a quick bite and ran out of the kitchen, leaving him smiling.
A few minutes later, after he had measured the right amount of ingredients needed for the banana bread he wanted the Cook to make, he could not help but wonder at the words of Funmi’s cousin and her Cook.
Was it really going to be a battle to keep this relationship?
Kayode got an answer to this nagging question two days later when he entered Funmi’s office for the first time since the encounter two weeks ago.
He had been in the conference room reviewing the progress of the food bank with Bimbo, the welfare and logistics manager and her team since 8:00AM. He was aware that Funmi had been in the office since 7:00AM but he had not seen her. He told her he was around for a meeting and she had simply responded saying, “all the best,” and even cut the phone before he could go ahead and tell her that he brought her breakfast. He texted her to let her know, but she replied with, “I am in meetings all day today. I am not in the mood for an actual meal. I will just do coffee and snacks. Thanks though.”
Kayode felt like he’d been slapped across the face. He was so excited to cook the special breakfast of ofada stew and white basmati rice for her. In fact, he had gotten his car dented where he parked in the market the day before when he went to buy the different assorted meats he needed for the sauce.
She made him feel like he was a disturbance that she did not need. He was here for work too. It wasn’t as though he had come simply to feed and play with her. He had just spent the day before in a heated argument with his family members over their concerns with his relationship with her. Yet, here she was making him almost question his stance.
Mama Kayode, Soji, and their younger sister, Kemi had staged an intervention in his apartment over the matter. I have met the lady, and I like her, but that does not mean you should carry on with her. A woman of that age cannot be a good wife for you,” Mama Kayode chimed, receiving quick support from Soji.
“If it was any other type of woman, I will not even be supporting Mummy, but I know Funmi. She is not the type of woman than can easily accept the authority of a man, let alone a man that is six years younger than her,” Soji contributed.
“You even mentioned that she is a very rich woman, abi Soji? Please what can you give her from this your food and cooking business that will even make her respect you?” Mama Soji added.
Kayode was frustrated. How could they not see things from his point of view? “Haba Mummy, this is a relationship based on love, and not a battle of wealth. Our relationship will even be stronger than the usual ones because we are in it solely because we truly care for each other, and not because of what we can gain from each other.”
“I am on your side brother Kayode as long as you love her and you are sure that she genuinely cares for you, not just that she is with you because it’s convenient for her now,” Kemi mentioned.
After many hours going back and forth on the matter, Kayode barely convinced his family to trust him. Tired, they decided to support him no matter what. After all, it would be their joy to see their son and brother happy. And like any supporting family, they’d also be there to help him pick up the pieces of his heart if this relationship with Funmi went south.
In that moment, with that text from Funmi, he couldn’t help but think about what his sister said. Was Funmi only with him because it was convenient? Because her priorities seemed very clear whenever she was in business mode, and it did not look good for him.
It was a little past noon, so Bimbo dismissed her team for lunch. She glanced at Kayode who was still busy typing away on his computer, and wondered if she could take him out for lunch. Bimbo did not waste time letting a man know when she was interested; and she was interested in Kayode. Even though there was much to be said about his physical build, it was more than that with Kayode.
Men like Kayode were the real deal. They knew what they were doing, could not be easily swayed and more often than not, they made good business and life partners. She could easily imagine what it would be like to be married to him and start a business together. As nice as her boss Funmi could be, the woman was a tyrant. If she combined Kayode’s culinary skills and clientele with her own knack for welfare and hospitability, they could create a successful events and hospitality business, even Funmi would patronise them.
Kayode was more quiet than usual. He wasn’t his jovial self today and Bimbo wondered if there was something wrong with him, but she did not let it stop her from asking him if would go out to get lunch with her. They had finished the first phase of the meeting, and weren’t scheduled for the next phase until 2:00PM when they were to meet with Accounts. They had ample time.
She was surprised when Kayode said, “I am not hungry, but I have food that you may like if you don’t mind.”
“Of course I don’t mind. Whatever you cooked is definitely one hundred percent better than what I could have bought.”
Kayode smiled and excused himself to go and get the food from his car, at least one woman in this office building appreciates his cooking. Better she eats it than let it go to waste.
It was on his way back with the food that he bumped into a smiling Funmi. She even gently caressed his shoulder. “If you know the kind of day I’ve had–” She started to say but stopped when she realised that Kayode was not smiling back at her. She withdrew her hands from his shoulder, and asked, “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” he responded matter of factly. “If you don’t mind I am keeping someone waiting. We can talk later, when you are done with all the things that are important to you.”
“What do you mean by that?” Funmi asked genuinely confused for a moment before it dawned on her. “Stop acting like a child just because I wasn’t in the mood for food this morning.”
“I am not a child,” Kayode said and began to walk past her. Funmi grabbed his arm to hold him. She saw the beautifully arranged food basket he was holding. It was packed like he was going for a picnic. It was clear he’d put quite some effort into this, he always did, and she loved him for it.
“I believe you are holding something that belongs to me,” she said with a smile, but Kayode didn’t return it.
“I am sorry; this has been promised to another; since you don’t want it.”
Before Funmi could say another word, Bimbo appeared in the doorway. She did not realise that her boss was behind the widely opened door. She exclaimed at the sight of the basket and swiftly collected it from Kayode. “Wow, you make food an art. I have never met a man who packed his own lunch like he was presenting a sample to the Queen of England.”
Kayode smiled at her response, and told her he will come in shortly. Bimbo went back through the opened door, basket in hand.
“I am sorry,” Kayode said again to Funmi, except he did not look sorry. He wasn’t even smiling like he had done with Bimbo, and Funmi’s heart fell.
“I don’t share,” Funmi said and went into Kayode’s arms, but he held her loosely, conscious that anyone in her office could easily pass and see them, not that he minded but he knew Funmi would. However, right now she didn’t seem to care, as she pulled him even closer.
“I hate you for giving another woman what you made for me,” she mumbled into his chest, but he heard her and laughed.
“I love you for finally making my day with your jealousy,” Kayode said.
“I love you. Period. Now, go get my basket!” Funmi said and began to pull away but Kayode pulled her even closer not minding who saw them anymore. She had finally declared her love in words. It was about time they knew that he was going to marry their boss.
As if her phone couldn’t pick a more wrong time, it beeped, notifying her of a new message. Funmi checked it. Her mood changed immediately, and she began to leave abruptly.
“What is the matter?” Kayode asked. “Don’t you want the food anymore?” He continued teasingly.
She walked away saying, “I wish food could solve the problems of the world.”
Kayode, again, felt like he had just been slapped. How was he even thinking that he could eventually marry this woman who had such great skill shutting him out of the things that were truly important to her.