Putting the strangely weird conversation with Ben out of my mind, I decided to enjoy the rest of my time with the gang inside Amira’s room. I had fun, I laughed a lot, and I made fun of Dolapo and Peter, and nothing could spoil my euphoria, well, except Femi and Amira on the bed together. Talking privately. All through the time we spent in the room.
Even with Luke’s attentive arms around me, my attention kept diverting to the oblivious couple on the bed. I could not stop wondering; what were they discussing that had their heads so close together? It was with a steel resolve, that I was able to stray from the ugly thoughts that kept rearing its head in my mind.
After spending our afternoon with a now healthy Amira, we trooped down to the kitchen to see if Aunty Teju needed help with dinner. We knew some of the staff would be with her, but it would also be more fun to have our rowdy selves with her while she cooked.
The kitchen was quiet though, when we got there. It was devoid of life, save for Aunty Teju and a content Jerry, wagging his tail at her feet. She was sitting on a stool, engrossed with something on her tablet, while Jerry acted as her watchdog. She probably bribed him with food to make him ditch Femi and myself. Traitor!
“Mummy, where are the kitchen staff?” Anthonia approached her mother with a demure smile reserved for all adults, except me.
Aunty Teju raised her head from the screen. She adjusted the falling glasses on the bridge of her nose. “They are busy elsewhere. Why?”
Tonia was by her mother in two long-legged strides. “Are we not going to eat dinner?”
“And we don’t expect them to all the work. We are here to help out or make the meal ourselves.” I threw in, before Aunty Teju would think we were acting like spoilt rich kids. There was nothing she hated more than that. Well, she hates Zeeworld, but that’s a story for another day.
Tonia threw me a scorching look, even though she knew my quick thinking had just saved us from a round of scolding. “I was just about to tell you that mummy.” She turned to look at her mother with a saintly smile gracing her blood red lips. Bloody Tonia!
Aunty Teju swiped the screen of the tablet, probably closing whatever it was that she was so engrossed with initially. She set the tablet on the countertop beside her, while Jerry raised his head, noticed Femi, and came bounding towards our direction, at the entrance of the kitchen.
“You don’t all have to help. That will just be messy.” Aunty Teju finally responded, amidst all our jumbled protests. Even Amira was interested in helping.
“But I’m a good cook…”
“We promise not to make a mess.”
“We only want to keep you company.”
“Please trust us.”
“Great, can we go resume our game now?’
All our sentences came out jumbled as we all spoke at once, each person trying to make his own voice heard above the others. Aunty Teju raised a hand, and all our half-hearted protests died down immediately. Such a commando!
“You can come and keep Daniel and I company in the games room, while two people cook for us tonight.” There was a mischievous glint in her eyes and I silently dreaded whatever Masterminding plan she had up her sleeves.
“As long as I’m not involved, I’m good.” Dolapo’s voice came from the far back.
Aunty Teju fought a smile, but raised one bushy eyebrow. “Do not tempt me Adedolapo.”
Dolapo pretended to zip and lock his mouth while Aunty Teju finally released the chuckle without mirth, she had been holding.
“So, who and who?” Tonia asked, the impatience rather clear in her voice.
I silently hoped and prayed it was Femi and I, or maybe Luke and I. my feelings were so contradictory, and I did not know what to do. Luke was funny, cute, and he liked me, but Femi was different. I didn’t even know I had these sort of feelings for him until recently, when my jealous side started rearing its ugly head for the world to see.
“You, my dear, and your sister.” Aunty Teju announced, looking all giddy and satisfied with her decision.
Oh no! There was no way in hell I was going to spend up to an hour in a confined space with Tonia. Didn’t she realize how much we annoyed and grazed on each other’s nerves? Instead of dinner, we would be serving our very own corpses, when we were done cat fighting as usual.
Seemed I was not the only one sharing the same sentiments. “Mum, why? You know Tella does not like me. She’s always looking for ways to pick on me, no matter how much I try to be nice to her.” Her whiny voice grated my raw nerves.
Aunty Teju felt the same way, because she simply rolled her eyes. “And you have been a saint to your sister? You don’t taunt her and send barbed insults her way, when you think no one is looking?” I think I was gay for Aunty Teju at that moment.
Tonia looked taken aback. She certainly didn’t expect anyone to have caught on to her mean streaks.
“So, I’m glad we all understand.” Aunty Teju clapped her hands and finally stood up, picked up her tablet, and beckoned at Jerry. “What better way to solidify your sisterly bonds than cooking together? The rest of us will be in the game lounge, waiting for your delicious creation.” She shooed the rest of them out.
I caught Luke’s eye and he shot me a sympathetic glance before coming to pull me in a hug. He pecked my lips, smiled at me, and wished me luck.
“Maybe an epiphany will happen, and you two will end up hugging and crying, and be miraculous friends.” His unserious grin melted my angry heart.
I slapped his shoulder and pointed at the door. “Out.”
He mock-saluted me. “Yes ma’am. Maybe you can wear a cute little soldier outfit for me later tonight, and we role play before making…”
I rushed at him and covered his mouth before he could finish that salacious statement. “Luke Imade Ebhojie. I swear to God, I will kill you if you don’t get your flat but cute ass out of my kitchen.”
He threw me a wink and finally sauntered out of the kitchen, leaving a glaring Tonia, and a confused Jerry with me in the kitchen. Oh, Dear God!
“Seems you do nothing other than flirt with each other.” Tonia sounded angry, but she also had a hint of something I could not place in her voice. Like a longing.
I grabbed an apron, ignoring her statement. I was going to cook dinner, and try to ignore her whole existence, if I could.
“What are we making?” She finally asked, after tying her own apron, and realizing I wasn’t going to dignify her statement with a response.
“Fried rice and coleslaw.” I moved towards the fridge that held the vegetables and legumes. “Get started on the carrots, I’ll wash and cook the chicken.”
She brought the carrots out, got a chopping board and a knife, and made to start cutting the innocent orange vegetable.”
I rounded on her immediately. “Wash your hands before you touch any edibles please.”
She looked startled, her head raised, and fixing me with a glare powerful enough to disintegrate lesser mortals. But I was not a lesser mortal. I was Donatella Adeola Adegboye, and this lady did not scare me. Well, a little.
“My hands are clean.” She retorted.
“This is why you should have actually paid attention in the kitchen when we were growing, but you were more contented with sneaking off, and later taking credit for my hard work.” I snapped.
“Fine.” She dropped the knife wand went to wash her hands at the sink. “I didn’t ask you to be all prim and proper and trying so hard to be the perfect daughter.”
I washed my hands at the other sink before approaching the chicken. “Perfect daughter? I wasn’t the one getting all the praises for being so perfectly feminine and never making me mistakes. All I had to offer were my grades.”
“Oh please.” She was back with the carrot, cutting it with vengeance, she probably wished the carrot was my neck. “My mum wouldn’t stop yapping about how you were so homely and down to earth.”
“While my dad wouldn’t stop nagging me about trying to be more like you; his perfect girl. All the while, you were busy rubbing pancake, or whatever the hell you call it, and stealing other people’s crushes.”
She dropped her knife and looked at me, a mocking smile on her lips. “So, that’s it. That’s the main issue. You’re still sore that Ben chose me even though you became a simp in his presence. Look Tella, I can’t help it that I am beautiful, feminine, and wanted. It’s been years, get over it!”
I laughed, but it was obviously devoid of mirth, and Tonia looked confused. My ballon d’or sister of perfection. “You think I care? Look around, I have a ring on my finger because a man loves me for me.” I pretended to look round the room. “Wait, is that a ring I see around for you? No! nada! So, why in God’s name would you think I care about some silly God-forbid kind of high school crush?”
She picked up another carrot, started slicing it. “My boyfriend loves me, and I assure you, he’s going to propose to me before this weekend is over.”
“Keep saying that. Repeat it a few more times and you’ll actually believe it. My Luke is successful, unbelievably handsome, funny, caring, and just plain sweet. He’s more than a catch, and more than any of your former flames combined together. I’m sure you’re going to break up with Ben. Again. Just to try and get your hands on someone like Luke, if not Luke himself.”
She was shocked. This was the first time I would actually stand up for myself against Tonia. “Is that how shallow you think I am?” She asked, almost in a whisper.
I started ticking my fingers. “Well, let’s see; you always want anything I have, even though you have more. You made sure you stole every guy I had my sights on, even went as far as throwing a tantrum when my best friend, Femi, didn’t want you. You have never really cared about anyone other than yourself. And you’re only ever friendly with someone, when they have something to offer you.” I gave her a malicious smile. “If that is not shallow, then I don’t know what is.”
She looked hurt, almost like she was going to burst into tears at any moment. Oh please, don’t cry. I was just used to us throwing banters, I did not know she had emotions that were capable of being hurt.
“Well, I guess I am shallow.” Her voice was low, and she was no longer dicing the carrots. “But at least I am honest and upfront about my intentions. Here you are, with a perfect man doting on you, his ring on your finger, but what are you doing? Salivating after your best friend.”
I opened my mouth to tell her Femi and I were just friends, but she raised a finger to silence me. “And before you give me that bullcrap about being just friends, I’ll advise you to shove it. You like him and that much is obvious to anyone with eyes. But you know what’s worse? He knows you like him and he’s still holding out hope, looking at you like the moon and the star. But you’re eventually going to hurt him, when you marry your perfect rich man. You know what that makes you Tella? A hypocrite.”
She dropped the knife and walked out of the kitchen. Seemed I would be making dinner by myself. I was shell-shocked, and frozen on the spot. I was angry, but I was also hurt, because I knew she was right, and I hated it when Tonia was right.
Jerry barked, jolting me out of my self-loathing moment. I looked at the puppy.
“I am not a hypocrite. Don’t give me that look.”
He barked again.
“I am not.”
He barked and jogged out of the kitchen, leaving me to my lonesome self.
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Thank you for reading this chapter.