When she saw the SUV pull up in front of her salon as she locked up, Callista knew fate had brought her the chance to shove that truth in Chukwudi’s face.
Such a pity his face still made her want to sigh and stare wistfully. Or maybe it was lustfully, Callista thought, and froze up the heat that was sending warmth through her. She’d made a decision, a wise one, and she was going to adhere to it whatever it cost her.
“Hey, Cally. How come it’s you locking up this evening and not Ndidi, shouldn’t that be part of her job?”
She pushed the last padlock in its lock, picked up her bag from the floor before turning to regard him with a cool gaze. “It is only her job when I make it so. Why are you here?”
“Why else, but to drive you home?” Although impatience bubbled up at her tone, Chukwudi reminded himself he was on a mission. “I hope you’re not going to be contrary as you’ve learnt to be lately and allow me do so.”
“Have I been contrary lately?” She asked only because she was curious to hear his response.
“You have been, and I must confess it’s been annoying to me.”
“It annoyed you, did it, that I finally remembered I possess good sense in my head?” Amused by his quick frown, Callista smiled, gestured to the car. “You came to drive me home, so let’s go.”
That she accepted without him having to convince her as he’d thought he would pleased Chukwudi. “Maybe it is now you are remembering your good sense,” he said as they got in the car. “And that is good because I am not a man of patience as you well know.”
“No, you’re not,” Callista said agreeably, almost smiling at the curious glances thrown at them. Tongues would wag about her going about with her old boyfriend, and she didn’t care. “When you want something, you want it immediately.”
“I do indeed, and I’m sure you know what I want now. Or should I say, who I want now.”
Callista eyes the smug confidence on his face. “No, I don’t know. What–or who do you want now?”
“Stop playing coy, Cally, it doesn’t suit you,” Chukwudi reproved, then hissed at a pothole the size of a small ditch. “I don’t know why the government doesn’t do anything about these road, they are not at all motorable.”
“The potholes don’t seem to do much damage to your car as it’s raised high above the ground,” Callista said, unconcerned about his distress. “But if you are so concerned, you may want to take your complaints to your uncle. He’s the Obi and should fight for the cause of our town when they attend those meetings they do with the governor.”
“Talk not of things you know nothing about, Cally,” Chukwudi ordered, not pleased with the criticism of his family. “It is not for the Obi to bring such matters to the governor. That is the responsibility of the local government chairman.”
“Maybe it is, but I still see no reason why the Obi can’t speak on it if he has the chance to do so.”
“If he has, you wouldn’t know, as you are not privy to that sort of information. Anyway, I did not pick you up so you can argue foolishly over political matters.” He pulled off the road and stopped the car under a pear tree. “I think we will have better privacy talking here than at your house.”
“You want us to talk?” Although her tone was pleasant, Callista was annoyed that he’d called her argument foolish. It was just like him to so disrespectfully dismiss her thoughts. Well, she was about to teach him a final lesson. “What about, as I’m not aware we have any unfinished business.”
“Don’t start with your little games, Cally. I asked you to think about the choice you’re making, and I want to know what you’ve decided.”
“What I’ve decided about what?” She was going to drag this out before she finished it.
“Stop with this silly revenge,” Chukwudi chided, touched her chin, and had the pleasure of feeling her skin tremble under his hold. “I’ve told you it’s not necessary at all because I want you.”
“You want me, do you?”
“Yes, and for my wife.” His hand slipped to her neck, trailing down until his fingers rested on the flat top of her breast. “I want to settle down with you, Cally. It’s what you want, isn’t it, marriage?”
“Most people want to get married.” She clasped a hold over his sneaky hand and put it away from her body. “Don’t touch me, Chukwudi. I warned you about it last time.”
“Have you been listening to me, Cally? I said I want to settle down with you.”
“I heard you, Chukwudi.” Wanting a little distance between them, Callista leaned braced her back against the door. “But that is a lie.”
“What do you mean, that is a lie?”
“You are lying to me. You don’t want to settle down…or maybe you do, but not with me.”
“I’m telling you something, Cally, and you are calling it a lie.” Her expression was too calm, too knowing, and Chukwudi didn’t like it. “When have you ever known me to lie to you?”
“Always. Or maybe, it wasn’t directly a lie, but it was pretence, which is the same thing.”
“I pretended with you?” Chukwudi felt insulted, more so by her insistent aloofness than her words. “I find your words insulting, Cally, especially when I have only to look for you to come running into my arms.”
“That is true, you only had to look at me to have me running into your arms.” He’d returned what he considered insult with insult, and that was fine with her. “That was how gullible I was, and you knew it. You knew you didn’t really like me or even care for me, but you pretended like you did, just so you can have your way with me. I let you because I was desperate for any sort of attention from a man. The problem we are both having right now, is that I am no longer desperate, but you fail to understand that.”
“You are no longer desperate because you have Mario, is that what you’re saying?”
“This is not about Mario. It is about me. And it is not because of him that I no longer want you, it is simply because I don’t.”
“You don’t want me? You sit there and tell me that you don’t want me, Chukwudi Udolisa?” The thought of it was so ludicrous, Chukwudi laughed. “You take this foolish game of yours too far, Cally, and you should be grateful I have the good humour not to get angry with you over it.”
“It is not a game, Chukwudi. Not this. I am no longer interested in you. If I am to tell you the truth, I was only interested because you were the only man available to me. If I had another, any other, I wouldn’t have chosen to be with you.”
“You wouldn’t have chosen to be with me?” It galled Chukwudi that this insult came from Callista. “You say such nonsense as if it wasn’t I who gave you the honour of my attention and affection, both of which you practically begged for.”
“You gave me attention, and only when it suited you. But let’s not deceive ourselves and say you gave me affection, because you had none for me, unless we will call shallow lust that.” His insulted fury gave her pleasure. It was her payback, and she delighted in it. “It was all we felt for each other, lust, and not even a deep-seated one. Yes, we…or rather, I dressed it up in the fine clothes of attraction and likeness, but what it truly was, was lust and I accepted it because I had no other choice. You may hate to it, Chukwudi, but I don’t want you. I don’t want to settle down with you. I don’t want you back in my life.”
“Because of Mario. That is it, isn’t it, you are so full of yourself because you have Mario Elue paying attention to you now?”
His sneer didn’t insult or offend Callista. Petty shots like that were all the weapon he had, she thought. “I’ve told you this is not about Mario, and that’s the truth. I am the one making the choice here…”
“And you choose Mario over me?” Fury made him snarl. Affront, at having been mortally insulted, turned the snarl into a mocking laugh. “You think he wants you? You think he’s serious about you? You are stupid, and more than desperate, if you think Mario Elue wants anything serious with you, because he doesn’t. No man does.”
It hurt, that he would say that, that she half believed it. “It doesn’t matter what any man wants or doesn’t want, what matters is that I don’t want you, Chukwudi.”
“Oh please, stop piping that out as if you’re saying something meaningful. You know very well, I don’t want you. I never did. You were only good enough when I wanted someone to keep me company in bed, and even there, you were poor company. A case of available, not desirable.”
“You unnecessarily repeat my words, for that’s what I just said you were to me.” Unwilling to let the last insult hurt, Callista waved a hand in dismissal. “As we both understand each other finally, I will bid you goodbye. Thanks for the ride up to this place.”
He grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. “He will dump you. When he’s done with you, Mario will toss you out like I did. The difference is that it’s an insult for a worthless man like him to dump a woman like you, Cally.”
“It really offends you that I might have another man in my life, doesn’t it?” Callista cocked her head to the side, studied him, and decided Jebolisa was right, he was only good to look at. “And no, Mario is not a worthless man. As a matter of fact, I consider he’s worth a lot more than you.”
“Get out of my car!” Chukwudi snarled, unable to bear the repeated insults. “Get out now!”
Callista got out, slammed the car door, and watched him spin the SUV around and zoomed it in the opposite direction.
“Well done, Callista Okoli,” she murmured to herself, turned and started the rest of the way home on foot.
She finally closed the chapter of Chukwudi Udolisa.