Forbidden fruit is sweet but the aftermath is most often bitter.
Nora wasn’t quite sure why she recalled one of her late mother’s maxims that morning as she got ready for work. But she didn’t pay much mind to it; only mused that she would always miss her sweet, kindly and yet no-nonsense mother. Death can be a cruel fate and it had taken the one thing she valued most in a time of her life when she needed it most.
No heavy melancholic thought, she chided herself. It was thank-God-it’s-Friday day and she should be excited to have come to the last working day of the week. Last working day if her Head of Operations doesn’t find something to ensnare them into coming to work the next day, that is. Nora rolled her eyes as she slipped on her stud earrings. She wasn’t crazy about her job—who in their right mind was nuts about a bank job? But she didn’t mind it more than half the time. It paid her bills; provided her a respected front among family, peers and the general public and best of all, it gave her a chance to meet all kinds of weird and not-so-weird people every day. That is, of course, days when she was in the right frame of mind.
She sauntered over to her half-length mirror and angled her head as she surveyed her image. Not bad, she decided, for a Friday. She’d chosen a colour-block wrap, shift dress and it clung snugly to her full-hipped, roundly-breasted build. She liked snug clothes that emphasized her curvaceous frame. What was the point of possessing the rare figure-8 if one can’t show it off, huh?
Satisfied with her look, she turned from the mirror and walked to the desk at the other end of her one-bedroom mini-flat and hefted up her handbag. She never unpacked her handbag, not unless she was making her mid-week switch. She made a point of picking out two handbags for the week and chose clothes that matched them. The last two days has been her H & M black leather satchel-like handbag and though black was a universal, fit-all colour, she felt better that it matched the black parts of her colour-block dress and her ballerina-toed flats.
She slid in her phone and tablet into the bag—the only items she got out at the end of each working day—and was about to zip it up when her phone started to ring. A smile formed about her pale-brown painted lips. She knew who it was. She knew he’d call. He never failed to. She dug out the phone and clicking the answer key, lifted it to her left ear.
“Morning, my ever sweet Benny-Mac.” She said into the phone, the smile on her lips turning a little sensual. This was her man. The one who set her body—and heart, afire. “Tell me you slept just fine and dreamt erotic dreams about me.”
Benny’s chuckle came, quick and deep, and sent delicious tingles swirling through her. “I slept just fine and last night’s erotic dream was out of this world. Lord have mercy, I woke up with a hard-on that looked like something you’d find on a weightlifter.”
She giggled. “You’re a man, so you always wake up with a hard-on. But I wish I’d seen that hard-on and possibly done something with it.” The thought sent off another tingle way down into her nether region. “Hmm, how’s your schedule today? Are you on call most of the day or in the evening?”
He was a doctor and worked at the Federal Medical Centre. Being a junior-ranked consultant meant his schedule most often was erratic. Which, in turn, meant they got to make last-minute arrangements or adjustments to already-set appointments. Nora didn’t mind. She loved him and was looking forward to sharing his home and his life, on a permanent basis, come April.
“It’s all day calls for now and I am hoping, praying it remains so.” Benny replied. “Whether it does or not though, I’ll be over today—tonight. Whenever I can make. Anyway, let me not keep you. Just wanted to check in and tell you that as always, you’re my sunshine, my moon and my shooting-star. And I love you.”
“Aw, my Benny-Mac.” He was the very best there was. “I love you more. You are the very reason I wake up smiling and believing in the beauty of a new day. You have a blessed day and don’t over-inject a patient.”
He laughed. Another deep, flowing, tingle-inducing sound. “And you, don’t over-balance an account. See ya later, sweets.”
She blew him a kiss before the line went dead and sighed deeply as she lowered the phone into her handbag. He was now the thing she valued most in her life. Two years they’d been together and now they were getting married in just three months and two weeks. He had come into her life at a time when she was still hurting from a harrowing heartbreak and he had become friend, confidante and then, lover. And on the day they were celebrating taking their relationship to a deeper level, he’d proposed to her. That day, for now, remained the happiest day of her life. Their wedding day of course will be taking over that title, of that she was certain.
Nora picked up her handbag, turned off her lights and strolled through the door. Out in the yard, she gestured for the security-guard to open the gates as she unlocked her 2009-Volkswagen Jetta. He had surprised her with this car on her birthday last September. That had been a month before his proposal. And that he would do something that generously remarkable even before he knew for sure if she would be his had endeared him more than ever to her.
Twenty minutes later, Nora strolled into the bank and made straight for her desk. She wasn’t surprised to see that Maureen, her Customer Service Unit colleague, was already there among the few early comers. Though Maureen was married with kids, she was unbeatably the most punctual staff in their branch. Their branch manager never ceased to commend and reward her for her punctuality.
“Early bird as usual.” Nora sent her a smile as she took her seat. “I wonder how you do it with your kids and everything.”
“Timing.” Maureen shot her a grin. She was a slender woman—another thing Nora never stopped admiring about her. She was still slim and not overly-curvy after two kids. “How are you and how is our Benny-Mac?”
“I’m great. I think we’re having shorter nights though… my sleep time is getting shorter.” She poked out her tongue at Maureen’s quick laugh. “It’s true abeg. Anyway, Benny is fine. We’re seeing this evening. He’s determined that we do. Said he woke up with a weightlifter boner this morning.” She said the last bit with a giggle and in a hushed tone.
Maureen rolled her eyes. “Eating the fruit before marriage is forbidden o.”
“But forbidden fruit is always sweeter na.” Nora quipped, a wicked gleam dancing in her eyes. “What you’re trying to tell me now is that you and Oga Joe didn’t taste and see that the Lord is good before your wedding night, abi?”
“I am a new creation now. Old things have passed away and all things have become now.” Maureen retorted, tongue in cheek. “The maxim is do as I say not as I do.”
“If I hear!” Nora waved her off as she tapped on her computer. “Face your work jor and leave me to enjoy my life. After all, he will permanently be mine and I his very soon.”
Maureen chuckled and pulled open her drawer. “All right o. But the thing dey tire person na im make I dey advice break-in-transmission.”
“The thing fit tire you but me, mbanu! I too like sweet things.” She twinkled, laughed at Maureen’s loud snort and got down to setting up her work system for the day.
The day swept by, but not fast enough in Nora’s opinion. As was customary of Fridays, the banking hall was jam-packed as customers frenziedly made their for-the-weekend transactions. She was contemplating slipping off for her lunch break when a shadow towered over her desk.
Oh God, she should have sneaked off earlier when the last customer on her line left, she inwardly groaned. But being a good customer service officer, she plastered on her professional smile as she raised her head.
“Nora Ezenyere!” The man in navy-blue linen traditional attire exclaimed, the quick surprise in his eyes an imitation of her own. “My God, I didn’t even know it was you! Longest time. You work here now? How are you?”
Nora’s surprise was more of a shock. Her ex. The one ex she’d found it hard to get over—not until she met Benny and he brought laughter and love back into her life.
Aware of Maureen’s curious glance their way, she maintained her professional smile. “Hello, Tim.” She said quietly. “Long time indeed. What business brought you here?”
She meant ‘here at the bank’ but he misinterpreted her meaning. “Actually, I just moved back. About five weeks ago. I want to be here full-time to manage my new hotel—Bloomsdale Suites—towards the government house?”
She absently inclined her head. So, he owned the new hotel that was the talk of the town lately. Hmm. “Congratulations on your hotel and welcome back.”
“Thanks.” He smiled. “Have you been there?”
Nora shook her head, frowning faintly. She didn’t like the quick tickle she’d felt at his toothy smile. “No, I haven’t. Em… please how may I help you?” An older man had come up behind him and she forced herself to swallow her grimace.
“Oh. Ah, I wish to apply for a new MasterCard. Here, I’ve already filled the form.” His smile didn’t dim and when he passed her the form, their fingers touched.
The tickle came again and slithered down her spine, deepening Nora’s frown. But she pushed the frown and the feeling aside and scrutinising the form, focused on her job.
By the time she was heading home, her brief encounter with Timothy Kalio had become part of the clustered memory of a hectic working day. And that memory quickly lost its retainer’s hold as soon as she drove into the yard and saw Benny’s Kia Sportage. She secured her car and smiling ear-to-ear, walked to her apartment.
The tantalizing aroma of fish pepper-soup welcomed her and sent her mouth watering. “Oh God, tell me ‘food is ready. Sit down and start eating’.” She moaned as she stepped into her medium-sized kitchen.
Benny, tall, ebony-dark and looking great in t-shirt and jeans laughed. “Food is almost ready and you’re not sitting down to eat until you toss off that dress and have your bath.”
“How about I toss it off and just do a birthday-suit parade for you?” Nora flounced over to his side and lifted herself to her toes to kiss him.
For a full minute their mouth locked together in a deep kiss and then he nudged her backward. “No birthday-suit parade. At least, not before your bath and our dinner. Choo! Off with you. And hurry up, the plantain and yam will be ready in a minute.”
“Spoilsport.” She planted another kiss on his cheek before dashing off.
But her smile bloomed as she took off her clothes and got ready for her bath. Gosh, she was so blessed. She had the best man there was on earth and he loved her to bits. And oh yes, she’ll be giving him a birthday-suit parade later—after dinner. Nora let out a low giggle as she envisioned slow, erotic moves that will, without doubt, drive him insane.