• Short Stories

    Too High A Price – 1

    She loved to cook. There was a time she loved to cook for him. Now, it was only the pleasure of creating something edible and enjoyable that remained. It sometimes made her sad when she thought of how different her feelings for him had become.

    It didn’t now though, because she was deliberately keeping her mind centred on positive thoughts. Tonight, they would have dinner. She would convince him to eat a little if he doesn’t want to eat—for whatever reason he might give this time. They would talk.

    When last did they really talk? She couldn’t remember. Maybe six months ago. Close to it, at least.

    She would ask him to stay and talk with her. Then she would initiate sex. Seven weeks since he last touched her, it was beginning to get to her. She wasn’t overly a sensual woman, but she was married and a woman needed her man’s touch every now and then.

    Was that what she was doing, making a special dinner so he could touch her?

    Pitiful. When had they come to this?

    She heard the honk and Naomi cast a glance at the clock on the wall. 6:10 p.m. He was home earlier than usual today.

    Was something wrong?

    Uncertain if she should be apprehensive or grateful for his early return, she washed her hands in the sink, wiped them dry and strode out of the kitchen.

    He was driving in when she stepped out on the balcony.  Standing there, the memory of the argument they’d had over whether to buy the house in the highbrow estate or to build their own home came. He had won the argument of course, and here they were living in a duplex that cost twenty-three million naira. Naomi watched him manoeuvre the platinum grey Hyundai Santa Fe under the carport in front of the house, his newest prized possession.

    He had acquired the car two months ago and once again in spite of her objections. She had protested not only because she didn’t think they needed another car when they had two already. But more so because the posh lifestyle he’d adopted after getting his promotion to General Manager, Sales and Marketing in the oil and gas company he worked was starting to terrify her. He’d always been somewhat flashy, but now he was extravagant.

    He called her a prude when she protested and in his disparaging, mocking tone. But she wasn’t going to think about that tonight, Naomi reminded herself. Fixing a smile, she gave a wave, and then swallowed the sigh at his absent nod. He was on the phone. Another new habit, he never left his phone alone. He called it business, she considered it a sign. A sign of what, she hasn’t let herself decide.

    He came through the stairway door. “We will talk tomorrow, Aaron. I’m home now.”

    “Welcome back.” Dutifully, she reached for his briefcase. “You’re home early today.”

    “That should make you happy.”

    His impersonal tone grated on her nerves. But she forced herself to keep the smile. She wasn’t going to fail this evening.

    “It does. I am only surprised. You’ve been busy lately and I guess I’m used to seeing you somewhere around nine p.m.” She preceded him into their bedroom. “If I’d known that you were on your way home, I would have started dinner earlier.”

    “Making dinner won’t be necessary. We’re dining out.”

    “Oh.” If they dined out that would ruin her plans. “That’s lovely, but I’ve already started on dinner. Grilled chicken drumsticks with salad, your favourite.”

    “You will have to pack them in the refrigerator then, because we are dining at Spices.”

    “Sam…”

    “The MD invited us and I’ve said yes. It’s at eight, so better start getting dressed.”

    “We are having dinner with your MD?”

    “At eight.”

    Her heart lurched in alarm, she didn’t want to have dinner with his boss. She didn’t want to meet him ever again if she could help it. Benjamin Akintunde made her feel ill at ease. The way he looked at her. The suggestive way he’d touched her hand during the company’s Christmas party. The way he’d insisted on dancing with her. And Samson had considered it rude when she’d at first refused.

    “But… why did he invite us to dinner? I mean, is it like a double date or something? Is his wife going to be there?”

    “I don’t know who’s going to be there or not, Naomi. Just start getting dressed. I don’t want us to be late.”

    He was heading into the en suite bathroom, so she followed him.

    “Sam, you know I’m not very comfortable with your boss. He has this way he looks at me.”

    “A lot of men look at you one way or another, Naomi. You’re an attractive woman. Besides, there’s no crime in looking. Stop being such a prude and start dressing up.”

    Gosh, she hated when he sounded so blasé. “I am not being a prude. He unnerves me and I’d rather not dine with him.”

    “Well, you don’t have a choice because he specifically asked that you be there.”

    “He did, did he?” Why wasn’t she surprised? The scoundrel!

    “Yes, he did. Now, allow me take my bath in peace.” He said and turned on the shower.

    Naomi stepped back into the bedroom. There was no getting out of this, she was going to spend the evening in the company of a man who looked at her like he was undressing her with his eyes and her husband didn’t care that he did.

    Was she actually a prude?

    Naomi didn’t think that she was one. The man’s behaviour was improper and it shouldn’t be tolerated. But why did Samson tolerate it?

    Because he was his boss?

    Because he was confident that she wouldn’t pay attention to him?

    Or maybe because he didn’t care if another was looking at her.

    She exhaled and turned towards her closet. She was beginning to wonder if he has lost all interest in her. In their marriage. What would she do if he was?

    “No, not that one.” He said as he emerged from the bathroom.

    Naomi looked at the black dress in her hand. “What is wrong with this one?”

    “Nothing, except that it’s not suitable for this evening. Wear the new red dress.”

    It was coral red and she didn’t like it because it had straps for sleeves and was backless. “You know I’m not comfortable in clothes like that, Sam.”

    “A woman dresses to please her husband. I like it, so you will wear it. Hurry up; it’s going to take us at least twenty-five minutes to drive there.”

    “Sam, that dress is too revealing…”

    “Can you not argue tonight, please?” He cut her off. “It’s dinner with my boss, a wealthy and sophisticated man. If you don’t mind, I’d like my wife not to look like I picked her up from some backwater town.”

    She wanted to argue, to insist that she wouldn’t wear that awful dress he’d bought for her. But she wanted peace too.

    So, she shrugged, replaced the dress in the closet and took out the red one. If they couldn’t have the intimate dinner she’d wanted, they could at least have a good time together.

    She hoped his boss’s wife would be there. That would surely make things easier. It would make her more at ease.

    ***

    He was alone. And he stood up as they walked towards the table he had chosen. He was a good looking man who took care of himself and his appearance, and looked nothing like he was in his mid-fifties.

    “Naomi.” He took her hand in a warm clasp. “I am so glad you could accept my invitation. Allow me to say that you are beautiful as always.”

    As always? As if they saw each other regularly. “Thank you, sir. For the compliment and the invitation.” She slipped her hand from his.

    But before she could pull back a chair, he did so and held it while she sat.

    “The invitation was my pleasure and having you here, both of you, deepens that pleasure.” His hand brushed across her back as he took his seat.

    It could have been an accident, but somehow Naomi doubted it. Still, she told herself not to over think it and relax.

    “Hope it was a traffic-free drive down, Samson?”

    “Yes, sir, it was.” Samson replied with what Naomi considered his ass-kissing smile. “The roads are quite free this evening.”

    “That is good. As you know, I live just around the corner and actually strolled down.”

    “That is impressive, sir. It’s at least three miles.”

    Naomi didn’t think it was all that impressive. She walked longer distance when she was in the mood for a stroll.

    “Oh, it’s nothing but a lazy exercise.” Benjamin Akintunde dismissed. “Anyway, how about a bottle of champagne to begin the evening?”

    “A bottle of champagne? Are we celebrating something?” Naomi asked.

    Samson made a sound of disapproval, obviously displeased that she’d questioned his boss’s choice.

    But Benjamin Akintunde merely turned his gaze on her. “There’s always something in life to celebrate. This evening, I would like to celebrate your being able to join us.”

    The look in his eyes, it wasn’t lascivious. Yet it clearly said that he wanted her.

    Although unnerved and irritated, Naomi managed a smile. “How gracious of you, sir. And Madam, was she unable to join us?”

    “She wasn’t invited.” He paused, and then finished. “She’s out of town.”

    “Oh.” Dear God, she couldn’t stand this man. She couldn’t bear that she’d been forced to tolerate his company this evening.

    “How’s your teaching job, Naomi?”

    She’d never invited him to use her first name and the fact that he so familiarly addressed her added to her mounting irritation.

    “It is fine, thank you, sir.” She offered him a cool smile.

    “Is it? That surprises me because I cannot imagine that teaching is a dream career for you. If you would like to do something else, I can help.”

    “Actually, teaching is my dream career. I’m a trained teacher and enjoy teaching.”

    “Naomi is very passionate about impacting the lives of little children.” Samson said with a quick laugh, no doubt trying to make up for her frigid tone.

    “That is admirable.” His eyes were still on her and his expression was caught between amusement and intrigue. “A lot of people see the teaching profession as a stopover career in our country these days.”

    “The poor state of affairs is no doubt responsible for that mind-set.” Naomi shrugged.

    “That it is.” He turned to the waiter, nodded his go ahead for him to open the bottle of champagne. “Serve the beautiful lady first.”

    “Thank you.” Naomi said to the waiter.

    “A toast?” He said after the waiter retreated. “To beautiful women with admirable passion.”

    “To beautiful women.” Samson echoed.

    Naomi said nothing, only raised her glass before taking a sip. She couldn’t wait for this evening to come to an end.

    ***

    It was another hour and half before it did and Naomi was feeling like her entire body was tied up in a string about to snap.

    “Thank you for a wonderful evening, Naomi.” He’d walked them to the car and was now holding her hand.

    “We should be thanking you for the invitation and a lovely dinner, sir.” She tried to retrieve her hand.

    But he wouldn’t let go. “I think we should do this again. Another evening, someplace else. You are the kind of woman a man would enjoy spending time with, Naomi. Samson is a lucky man. I wonder if he knows that.”

    “Of course, I do, sir.” Beside them, Samson laughed.

    “Thank you, sir.” She wrenched free her hand. “Goodnight.”

    Not waiting for a response, she opened the car door and got in.

    The drive home was a silent one. Samson hummed stupid songs to himself and she kept her lips clamped together.

    But the second they were inside the house, she lashed out.

    “What kind of a man sits back while another man flirts with his wife, Samson?”

    “What the heck are you talking about?”

    “I am talking about Benjamin Akintunde flirting with me and you pretending like you can’t see what’s going on!”

    “MD flirting with you? Naomi, are you tipsy?”

    “What I am is disgusted. Thoroughly disgusted with him and with you. What is going on, Samson? Are you two up to something?”

    “What are you talking about? You’re not making sense. He flirted with you? How? When?”

    “How? When? How about in the manner he looks at me; which I have complained about before and you didn’t take any notice. Or, how about in the way he held my hand outside the restaurant. He caressed the back of my hand, Sam.”

    “Please, MD wouldn’t do something like that.” Samson scoffed.

    “I am telling you that he did. You were there, are you saying you didn’t observe the impropriety of his behaviour towards me?”

    “No, I didn’t, Naomi. You want to know what I observed, huh? I observed a man who was courteous to his employee’s wife and treated her with admiration.”

    “Treated me with admiration? Is that how you explain it?”

    “It is how it was.” Samson hissed, swept to the closet to put back his clothes. “Gosh, I don’t know why you’re such a prude, Naomi. A man looks at you and you think the worst. He shakes your hand and you call him a pervert. He’s my boss for heaven’s sake!”

    “He’s your boss.” Why has she thought he would listen to her when he never did before? “Fine. He’s your boss and I am your prudish wife. That settles it. Goodnight.”

    She ignored his explicit curse and strode into the bathroom. Fighting the temptation to cry, she sat on the bathtub and tightly closed her eyes. What was happening to her marriage of only four years?

    What was going on with them?

    When last did they really talk? She couldn’t remember. Maybe six months ago. Close to it, at least.

    She would ask him to stay and talk with her. Then she would initiate sex. Seven weeks since he last touched her, it was beginning to get to her. She wasn’t overly a sensual woman, but she was married and a woman needed her man’s touch every now and then.

    Was that what she was doing, making a special dinner so he could touch her?

    Pitiful. When had they come to this?

    She heard the honk and Naomi cast a glance at the clock on the wall. 6:10 p.m. He was home earlier than usual today.

    Was something wrong?

    Uncertain if she should be apprehensive or grateful for his early return, she washed her hands in the sink, wiped them dry and strode out of the kitchen.

    He was driving in when she stepped out on the balcony.  Standing there, the memory of the argument they’d had over whether to buy the house in the highbrow estate or to build their own home pricked. He had won the argument of course, and here they were living in a duplex that cost twenty-three million naira. Naomi watched him manoeuvre the platinum grey Hyundai Santa Fe under the carport in front of the house, his newest priced possession.

    He had acquired the car two months ago and once again in spite of her objections. She had protested not only because she didn’t think they needed another car when they had two already. But more so because the posh lifestyle he’d adopted after getting his promotion to General Manager, Sales and Marketing in the oil and gas company he worked was starting to terrify her. He’d always been somewhat flashy, but now he was extravagant.

    He called her a prude when she protested and in his disparaging, mocking tone. But she wasn’t going to think about that tonight, Naomi reminded herself. Fixing a smile, she waved at him, and then swallowed the sigh at his absent nod. He was on the phone. Another new habit, he never left his phone alone. He called it business, she considered it a sign. A sign of what, she hasn’t let herself decide.

    He came through the stairway door. “We will talk tomorrow, Aaron. I’m home now.”

    “Welcome back.” Dutifully, she reached for his briefcase. “You’re home early today.”

    “That should make you happy.”

    His impersonal tone grated on her nerves. But she forced herself to keep the smile. She wasn’t going to fail this evening.

    “It does. I am only surprised. You’ve been busy lately and I guess I’m used to seeing you somewhere around nine p.m.” She preceded him into their bedroom. “If I’d known that you were on your way home, I would have started dinner earlier.”

    “Making dinner won’t be necessary. We’re dining out.”

    “Oh.” If they dined out that would ruin her plans. “That’s lovely, but I’ve already started on dinner. Grilled chicken drumsticks with salad, your favourite.”

    “You will have to pack them in the refrigerator then, because we are dining at Spices.”

    He was undressing and had his back to her. She resisted the temptation to glare at him. “Sam…”

    “The MD invited us and I’ve said yes. It’s at eight, so better start getting dressed.”

    “We are having dinner with your MD?”

    “At eight.”

    Her heart lurched in alarm, she didn’t want to have dinner with his boss. She didn’t want to meet him ever again if she could help it. Benjamin Akintunde made her feel ill at ease. The way he looked at her. The suggestive way he’d touched her hand during the company’s Christmas party. The way he’d insisted on dancing with her. And Samson had considered it rude when she’d at first refused.

    “But… why did he invite us to dinner? I mean, is it like a double date or something? Is his wife going to be there?”

    “I don’t know who’s going to be there or not, Naomi. Just start getting dressed. I don’t want us to be late.”

    He was heading into the en suite bathroom, so she followed him.

    “Sam, you know I’m not very comfortable with your boss. He has this way he looks at me.”

    “A lot of men look at you one way or another, Naomi. You’re an attractive woman. Besides, there’s no crime in looking. Stop being such a prude and start dressing up.”

    Gosh, she hated when he sounded so blasé. “I am not being a prude. He unnerves me and I’d rather not dine with him.”

    “Well, you don’t have a choice because he specifically asked that you be there.”

    “He did, did he?” Why wasn’t she surprised? The scoundrel!

    “Yes, he did. Now, allow me take my bath in peace.” He said and turned on the shower.

    Naomi stepped back into the bedroom. There was no getting out of this, she was going to spend the evening in the company of a man who looked at her like he was undressing her with his eyes and her husband didn’t care that he did.

    Was she actually a prude?

    She didn’t think that she was one. The man’s behaviour was improper and it shouldn’t be tolerated. But why did Samson tolerate it?

    Because he was his boss?

    Because he was confident that she wouldn’t pay attention to him?

    Or maybe because he didn’t care if another was looking at her.

    She exhaled and turned towards her closet. She was beginning to wonder if he has lost all interest in her. In their marriage. What would she do if he was?

    “No, not that one.” He said as he emerged from the bathroom.

    Naomi looked at the black dress in her hand. “What is wrong with this one?”

    “Nothing except that it’s not suitable for this evening. Wear the new red dress.”

    It was coral red and she didn’t like it because it had straps for sleeves and was backless. “You know I’m not comfortable in clothes like that, Sam.”

    “A woman dresses to please her husband. I like it, so you will wear it. Hurry up; it’s going to take us at least twenty-five minutes to drive there.”

    “Sam, that dress is too revealing…”

    “Can you not argue tonight, please?” He cut her off with a glare. “It’s dinner with my boss, a wealthy and sophisticated man. If you don’t mind, I’d like my wife not to look like I picked her up from some backwater town.”

    She wanted to argue, to insist that she wouldn’t wear that awful dress he’d bought for her. But she wanted peace too.

    So, she shrugged, replaced the dress in the closet and took out the black one. If they couldn’t have the intimate dinner she’d wanted, they could at least have a good time together.

    She hoped his boss’s wife would be there. That would surely make things easier. It would make her more at ease.

    ***

    He was alone. And he stood up as they walked towards the table he had chosen. He was a good looking man who took care of himself and his appearance, and looked nothing like he was in his mid-fifties.

    “Naomi.” He took her hand in a warm clasp. “I am so glad you could accept my invitation. Allow me to say that you are beautiful as always.”

    As always? As if they saw each other regularly. “Thank you, sir. For the compliment and the invitation.” She slipped her hand from his.

    But before she could pull back a chair, he did so and held it while she sat.

    “The invitation was my pleasure and having you here, both of you, deepens that pleasure.” His hand brushed across her back as he took his seat.

    It could have been an accident, but somehow Naomi doubted it. Still, she told herself not to over think it and relax.

    “Hope it was a traffic-free drive down, Samson?”

    “Yes, sir, it was.” Samson replied with what Naomi considered his ass-kissing smile. “The roads are quite free this evening.”

    “That is good. As you know, I live just around the corner and actually strolled down.”

    “That is impressive, sir. It’s at least three miles.”

    Naomi didn’t think it was all that impressive. She walked longer distance when she was in the mood for a stroll.

    “Oh, it’s nothing but a lazy exercise.” Benjamin Akintunde dismissed. “Anyway, how about a bottle of champagne to begin the evening?”

    “A bottle of champagne? Are we celebrating something?” Naomi asked.

    Samson made a sound of disapproval, obviously displeased that she’d questioned his boss’s choice.

    But Benjamin Akintunde merely turned his gaze on her. “There’s always something in life to celebrate. This evening, I would like to celebrate your being able to join us.”

    The look in his eyes, it wasn’t lascivious. Yet it clearly said that he wanted her.

    Although unnerved and irritated, Naomi managed a smile. “How gracious of you, sir. And Madam, was she unable to join us?”

    “She wasn’t invited.” He paused, and then finished. “She’s out of town.”

    “Oh.” Dear God, she couldn’t stand this man. She couldn’t bear that she’d been forced to tolerate his company this evening.

    “How’s your teaching job, Naomi?”

    She’d never invited him to use her first name and the fact that he so familiarly addressed her added to her mounting irritation.

    “It is fine, thank you, sir.” She offered him a cool smile.

    “Is it? That surprises me because I cannot imagine that teaching is a dream career for you. If you would like to do something else, I can help.”

    “Actually, teaching is my dream career. I’m a trained teacher and enjoy teaching.”

    “Naomi is very passionate about impacting the lives of little children.” Samson said with a quick laugh, no doubt trying to make up for her frigid tone.

    “That is admirable.” His eyes were still on her and his expression was caught between amusement and intrigue. “A lot of people see the teaching profession as a stopover career in our country these days.”

    “The poor state of affairs is no doubt responsible for that mind-set.” Naomi shrugged.

    “That it is.” He turned to the waiter, nodded his go ahead for him to open the bottle of champagne. “Serve the beautiful lady first.”

    “Thank you.” Naomi said to the waiter.

    “A toast?” He said after the waiter retreated. “To beautiful women with admirable passion.”

    “To beautiful women.” Samson echoed.

    Naomi said nothing, only raised her glass before taking a sip. She couldn’t wait for this evening to come to an end.

    ***

    It was another hour and half before it did and Naomi was feeling like her entire body was tied up in a string about to snap.

    “Thank you for a wonderful evening, Naomi.” He’d walked them to the car and was now holding her hand.

    “We should be thanking you for the invitation and a lovely dinner, sir.” She tried to retrieve her hand.

    But he wouldn’t let go. “I think we should do this again. Another evening, someplace else. You are the kind of woman a man would enjoy spending time with, Naomi. Samson is a lucky man. I wonder if he knows that.”

    “Of course, I do, sir.” Beside them, Samson laughed.

    “Thank you, sir.” She wrenched free her hand. “Goodnight.”

    Not waiting for a response, she opened the car door and got in.

    The drive home was a silent one. Samson hummed stupid songs to himself and she kept her lips clamped together.

    But the second they were inside the house, she lashed out.

    “What kind of a man sits back while another man flirts with his wife, Samson?”

    “What the heck are you talking about?”

    “I am talking about Benjamin Akintunde flirting with me and you pretending like you can’t see what’s going on!”

    “MD flirting with you? Naomi, are you tipsy?”

    “What I am is disgusted. Thoroughly disgusted with him and with you. What is going on, Samson? Are you two up to something together?”

    “What are you talking about? You’re not making sense. He flirted with you? How? When?”

    “How? When? How about in the manner he looks at me; which I have complained about before and you didn’t take any notice. Or, how about in the way he held my hand outside the restaurant. He caressed the back of my hand, Sam.”

    “Please, MD wouldn’t do something like that.” Samson scoffed.

    “I am telling you that he did. You were there, are you saying you didn’t observe the impropriety of his behaviour towards me?”

    “No, I didn’t, Naomi. You want to know what I observed, huh? I observed a man who was courteous to his employee’s wife and treated her with admiration.”

    “Treated me with admiration? Is that how you explain it?”

    “It is how it was.” Samson hissed, swept to the closet to put back his clothes. “Gosh, I don’t know why you’re such a prude, Naomi. A man looks at you and you think the worst. He shakes your hand and you call him a pervert. He’s my boss for heaven’s sake!”

    “He’s your boss.” Why has she thought he would listen to her when he never did before? “Fine. He’s your boss and I am your prudish wife. That settles it. Goodnight.”

    She ignored his explicit curse and strode into the bathroom. Fighting the temptation to cry, she sat on the bathtub and tightly closed her eyes. What was happening to her marriage of only four years?

    What was going on with them?

    ***

    EPISODES: 23. 4. 5.

    ***

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    4 Comments

  • Reply Glowing Kosnie February 6, 2019 at 5:37 am

    Intriguing Piece!!!

    I’m also wondering if this is a ploy for the husband to be less concerned while the Boss openly flirts with his wife, is it one of The criteria in keeping his job or he’s just not aware of the Whole thing.

    Bring it on TM…

  • Reply Iyke David February 6, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Sam is being deceived by the boss in order to get the wife
    He is the prude one here

  • Reply Datoks February 6, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Sam is either clueless or stupid. Cos his wife can’t keep complaining and he keeps ignoring her

  • Reply mobolaji February 6, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    Is this a ploy to use his wife to keep his high profile job? An intriguing piece!

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