'Welcome back' I said, smiling into the camera right in front of the stage. 'If you're just joining us this is LARA'S LOUNGE, I'M LARA PHILLIPS and I have as my guest today the shiny lipped, dimpled, Davido. Now we've got time for one more question before we round this episode up....' 'left back' . I heard Esey my producer's voice prompt in my tiny earpiece. It was too far in the studio for me to see but I obeyed. 'I have a question in the back?' I said, pointing in that direction.
The shock of hearing that unmistakable tiny voice barely registered before the bigger shock of what was happening hit. 'Will you marry my daddy?' it asked. The audience went mad.
I am renowned among friends and family for the sluggishness of my brain in processsing things that shocked it. My boyfriend's four year old daughter was on the set of my live show and asking me to marry her father and the first two questions in my head were 'who pulled her out of school' and 'wasn't her father in China on business?'
" Get up Lara, get up!" Esey's voice made me realize I was still seated in my seat with my go-to smile plastered on my face. Everyone was out of their seats and straining to get a glimpse of the them in the center now.
I hurried down the stage and in that direction, stumbling as my heels reminded me they weren't made for running. The crowd parted till I got to the center. Sure as God, there was my man, his tall lean body standing there in a White shirt, jeans, Navy blazer and brown mocassins. All of which I'd bought him at one time or another; except for the red cardboard pocket square, Lola's addition. She was right beside him, clutching his index finger with all of hers, in a much tinier replica of her daddy's attire; the cutest wingman ever.
My audience was impatient now . Shouts of 'answer nau' 'Yes or No?' 'she don friendzone am' filled the air. Each one of them happy to be witnessing the gist, I kept hearing cameras click. Esey probably had someone taking photos for all the blogs. The wench, she would so milk this for the publicity! I would kill her later, I had a proposal to answer.
"Let him ask for himself" . I finally spoke, not taking my eyes off him. He smiled that naughty smile of his as he went down on one knee. My Femi.
Seeing her father, Lola decided that this looked too much like punishment and jumped ship to me. I smiled and rubbed her hair. "Lara Phillips, will you marry me?" The crowd shouted that last part with him.
'Yes' . The whole studio erupted. Davido was singing 'Ayé',I couldn't stop smiling. I never got to sign off the show properly.
We had dinner at this Italian restaurant in Lekki. A few industry people were already congratulating me. This town! As we waited for our food I let my mind travel back in time. Three years ago, still nursing a 5 year old heartbreak, I was doing just fine thank you with purely physical relationships. I reserved feelings like Love for my job. Femi, a widower with a one year old child had been my friend for a while. We grew close until we fell in love but he knew that word was a taboo to me.He loved me as stubbornly as I refused to thaw. I did everything to push him away, even knowing it would crush me if he did.
I remember how I would throw fits of anger and he would leave, only to come back with a tub of my favorite ice cream which he would put just out of my reach then walk out. I would restrain myself from pouncing on it just till he closed the door behind him.
The food came and I watched Lola dig into her pizza, this was just a formality for her. As far as she was concerned I'd been her mother since.
After dinner I told Femi I had to go pick up some stuff at my place and I'd meet them at home. I took a cab. When I got home there was a car parked in front of my house which i didn't recognize. Probably one of my neighbour's 'man friends'. I'd just turned the key in the lock when I felt someone behind me.
'Congratulations' the voice said. I turned sharply. Dede. After eight years. Standing on my doorstep like it was the most natural thing in the world. I had imagined this scenario way too many times for my brain to be slow. I slapped him, hard and fast. I relished the way it swung his head to one side. So I did it again.
'Won't you invite me in?' he asked, rotating his neck.
'What do you want?' I countered.
'Well..' he drawled, 'word around town is my Ex is getting married, thought I'd drop by to congratulate you'.
'Last time I saw you you were in bed with my cousin'.
I tried to keep my voice down. Eight year old scabs had just been peeled open. I was determined not to let it show. You're happy now, you're in love, you have an adorable step daughter, Femi has the body of a god.I counted my blessings in my head to harden myself, but he was already kissing that precise spot on my neck....what a bastard.
Two hours later we lay side by side in my bed, spent. He was the first to speak. 'If this were a Nollywood movie, the camera would start from our clothes scattered on the floor, show the whole floor..' I laughed and turned into him. Our bodies still fit perfectly. I lay there loathing myself for how good it felt. I suddenly remembered Femi. I bolted up so fast my head hit Dede's chin. I searched the room for my bag. I'd dropped it when he kissed me. I raced to the front door and there it was.
I watched my fiancée rush to the door of her house wrapped in a bedsheet to pick her bag. I'd dropped Lola with my parents and followed her home for some consunmate celebration but had seen her bag outside. I thought she was in danger and was opening the door with my key when I'd heard them. Thus I was stuck watching the bag from the end of the street. At least now I could leave. I walked away to my car parked down the street, there had been no parking space. My phone rang just as I put the key in the ignition. I switched the ignition off then answered, doing my best sleepy voice hoping no car would drive past or horn and blow my cover. 'Baby where are you?' .
'So sorry babe, I slept off, I guess today was just so stressful, I hit the bed as I got home. See you tommorow okay?'
'It's okay, I understand, I love you, goodnight'. '
Goodnight' she replied and hung up. She didn't say 'I love you'