The heart won. It does most of the time. It’s a powerful part of the body, that one, the heart.
She had completely stopped having her lunches at Fish and Chips joint with her colleagues. Great Grills was her joint every single day, where she would see the handsome Jayden.
He would take off his white coat when she came in. It was his break time, he said. So he would join her table and they would chat and laugh and Renee would go back to her office feeling like a sixteen year old girl in love.
For many days Renee declined going for a real date with him but she was only playing hard to get. She wanted to hear him insist and beg. He had a way of making her feel special.
But Renee also felt scared of dating again. She had never dated anyone else in her life but her ex, Manuel, whom they had, had a relationship all her campus life and a few years after that. Then she had hinted that she wanted him to propose marriage to her, but Manuel always had an excuse. And one day, Renee felt she had taken enough of his excuses. She dumped him.
Now here she was, smitten with a twenty four year old, working as a waiter. She finally said yes to Jayden. They would meet that evening at The Love Tavern. She felt her heart beating at the anticipation.
“Mmm….mmm…somebody is in deep thoughts, good thoughts it seems, you are grinning from ear to ear.” That was Timona, the office gossip, probably checking in Renee’s office to snoop around for gossip to monger around.
“What do you want Timona?” Renee asked, pretending to focus on her computer.
“Mscheew..mm, can’t a girl pop in to say hi to her dearest friend!” She said and grinned at Renee.
Renee studied Timona as she took a chair uninvited. She definitely had something under her sleeves.
“Timona, I am busy, just tell me what you want.” Renee stated.
Timona sat more comfortably , straightening her short skirt and placing her long manicured hands on her skirt in a way to show off. Then she blinked her long lashes for a few seconds and cleared her throat and whispered, “Are you seeing someone?”
“What?” Renee asked.
“Well, you don’t accompany us for lunch nowadays and then recently you have been unusually happy?” She continued still in whispers.
Renee felt like a time bomb ready to explode and say ‘Yes! Yes! She was seeing somebody and he is the best thing ever!’ but not to Timona. Timona would spread it to the whole company, even their headquarters in London would know that Renee was dating. She swallowed hard and managed to put on a poker face.
“I just wish you could just mind your own business.” Renee stated.
“So is it true, c’mon, you and I have come a long way friend. You can tell me anything. Remember we went to campus together.” Timona had now moved closer to Renee her ears long like a dog sensing intrusion.
“Timona, please leave. I am busy.” Timona wanted to insist but Renee’s glare was too sharp to disobey but Timona always made sure she had the last say.
“Ok. Just so you know, Manuel and his wife are divorcing.” She said and closed the door behind her.
Renee could not hide that she was shocked. Everybody in campus was so sure that Manuel and Renee would end up happily married. When Renee ended things with him, for many days, she thought she had made a mistake. She waited for Manuel to ask her back but he moved on swiftly to another woman whom he later married.
She wondered what to feel about the divorce news. Timona wouldn’t lie about that. Manuel and Timona’s husband were brothers. She was speaking from a good source.
Renee decided not to spoil her thoughts on an ex. Jayden was who she would think about.
The date that night was superb. The two had a wonderful meal together, then watched as karaoke singers entertained them and when they heard enough, they talked, more candidly than they usually did at Great Grills.
“Enough about me. Tell me about you. Why don’t you ever draw? You are so good at it?” She asked.
“I know. I am a gifted artist. But even art requires money. One needs paper, special graphite pencils, charcoal sticks, craft knifes, drawing boards , easels, time!”
“Well, you know you could make much more money from drawing than waiting at tables.” Renee insisted.
“I thought so too but it’s not as easy. People want something classic, a good drawing on a good big paper, and I have no money for that. Everytime I think I have saved enough money to start serious art, something at home comes up and I have to start from scratch again.”
“What if I helped out?” Renee asked.
“No…no..no…no. I will not accept any more help from you my love.” Jayden said.
Renee was shocked. Not because he rejected her offer but because of how he addressed her. He had called her his love.
“What? Did I offend you?” He asked.
“Do you address everyone as your love?” She asked, her heart beating.
“No. Wait. Is that why you look so upset?” He held her hand and looked into her eyes. “Renee, You are my only love. I loved you from the first day you set your foot at Great Grills, but you were too sophisticated, way out of my league.
Everytime you came in, I made sure I was the one to serve you. I knew you would never notice me but I was ok with just seeing you. You never looked up at me, you just said ‘Thank you, some water please.’ I almost broke my legs to fulfill all your demands.
It was my pleasure serving you. Now, I feel like the luckiest man alive. The woman of my dreams is seated neat to me. From the bottom of my heart Renee, I love you.”
Renee did not know that tears were flowing from her eyes. She couldn’t remember his face until the phone incident yet here he was saying that he had noticed her from the first day she visited his workplace. She held him by his cheeks and kissed him, he kissed back with equal fervour until a drunk man passed by.
“Eeishhh! Get a room you lovebirds!”
They laughed as they stared into each other’s eyes.
“I should get going. ” Renee said as Jayden gazed at her longingly.
“Jayden, I said, I should get going. And before I leave, I will do something that you might not like.” She whispered the last statement.
“What, you going to kiss me again, because I will definitely like to be kissed again.”
“Mmm…probably that and this,” She quickly took a bundle of notes then thrust them in his inside breast pocket. “That’s for you to start your art.”
“What? No. Please take it back.” He said as he took it out and tried placing it on Renee’s hand who was pushing it back asking him to please take it back.
“Please, if you care about my feelings, accept it.” She said and he stared blankly for a few minutes.
“Ok. But I promise you, I will return every coin once I make my first sale. This I promise.”
Renee could not argue with that. She agreed and the two left the tavern holding hands.
Renee wanted to take things slowly. She made it clear that she would be going home, alone and fortunately for her Jayden was a gentleman. She had come in a taxi and they both got in one. The taxi dropped her first. She waved goodbye and got to her house full of the joys of spring.
“Wawawa! Kijana, hapo umeangukia!” (Boy aren’t you lucky!) The taxi driver exclaimed after Renee disappeared into the house. He seemed to have noticed the bundle of cash that Jayden was transfering from the breast pocket to his wallet.
Jayden chuckled but did not say a word. But the driver hadn’t let it all out.
“You know such women, the rich and older ones are very generous with money, but you have to play your part well!” He winked at Jayden who was reluctantly listening to the noisy driver. He would be thinking about Renee were it not for his blabbering.
“And what is my part supposed to be?” He inquired.
The taxi replied with his eyes repeatedly moving from his groins back to Jayden’s.
“You have to leave her satisfied and happy at your game…eeh!” He said humping his steering wheel theatrically.
“Aaa…No! Renee is respectful and I do respect her too. Yetu ni serious!” Jayden defended his love.
The driver made a mocking noise. “Hehehe….Ok. Don’t say I did not warn you but these women don’t know serious. Do you think she hasn’t had opportunities to get married by older and richer men?
I know this calibre of women. They have everything they desire and so they just hunt for good sex from energetic toyboys like you. Then when you start being clingy, they dump you and go to the next.
My advice is, enjoy the sex and the money but don’t get serious. After all, there are fresher and younger girls waiting to be married.”
He concluded as he stopped outside the plot that Jayden shared with seven other neighbours. He entered his bedsitter, amused at the driver’s perspective of him and Renee.
He knew more jibes and ridicule would come their way. He preferred to ignore them.
As for Renee, only Timona had the gall to speak to her about her love life. She knew there was tattle going on about her after she stopped accompanying them for lunch but the feeling of love had filled all space in her mind. She could only think of Jayden. She hoped Jayden would ask her out again soon, possibly that coming Monday.
That Monday, early morning, she happily walked into her office waving and greeting her colleagues when she encountered the shock of her life in her office. This must be Timona’s doing, she thought.
“Hallo dear. Looking gorgeous as usual.” Manuel said, standing from her chair, his tall brawny body walking towards her, his arms opening to her. She tried to move back but he held her and hugged her intimately and she felt his cologne stinging her nose. She remembered it was her that had introduced him to the perfume. She was surprised he still used it.
“What are you doing here Manuel?” She asked, displeasure written all over her face.
“Well, I wanted to say hi to my sister-in-law Timona, haven’t seen her in days and I thought, wouldn’t it be rude not to drop by and see you too?” He said, proud of his lie, as if Renee couldn’t see right through it.
“Well, I am fine as you can see. You can go now.” She said as she sat down and started to peruse through some papers. Manuel was unmoved by her dismissal. He came and sat on her desk, close to her.
“For old times sake Renee, why don’t we have a cup of cofee somewhere. Just cofee.”
“I am busy as you can see.” She said as she rose up and went to the window, away from his physical proximity.
“Well, how about lunch? My treat.” He suggested and continued to recommend good hotels and their various food offers, but Renee’s attention had been stolen by what she was watching from the window.
It was Jayden, in his usual jeans and the Great Grills red Tshirt. Renee watched as he walked clearly searching for someone. Apparently, few seconds later he saw who he was looking for. Renee’s knees got weak when he saw her , a young girl, possibly seventeen or eighteen running towards him. She had a tight blue top with a black fitting jeans. Her long hair tied to a simple ponytail. The two embraced for quite a long time.
She watched as they discussed an issue with the girl placing her hand on his shoulders on numerous occasions. He then put his hand in his pocket and handed her what would have obviously been money. The two embraced again and the girl left. Jayden waited until she crossed the road, then waved when she turned back and then walked back to where he came from, unaware that the woman he had told he loved two days ago was watching.
“So, where are we having lunch dear?” She was startled by Manuel’s whisper in her ear.
“Great Grills. Pick me up at exactly 1:00 o’clock.” She declared.
Manuel was astoundedly joyful. He left the office feeling like a jackpot winner.
She had a meeting but she was in pain. However, she knew she had to look strong even though she was breaking apart inside.
Manuel and Renee walked in Great Grills chatting like they did not care about anything else going on around them.
When Jayden saw them, he sat on a chair lest his feeble legs failed him.
“Should I?” Shakiri, one of the waitress offered to take their order. He nodded as she gave him a sympathetic pat on his back. He could not bear watch Renee look so happy with another man. He left .
“So why are you divorcing your wife,you two haven’t even made a decade?”
“Renee, if something isn’t meant for you, it will never be. We have both tried working things out but it’s draining both of us. All we do is fight, fight ,fight. The only thing we did not fight about was the decision to divorce.”
“Hmm…sorry to hear that. You guys looked so happy on the photos you posted on social media.”
“On those pictures we were, but those are few times. Many times, there were tears. People just show the good side.” He said seeming to reminisce the times with his ex wife. Then he changed the topic.
“How about you? Since the mention of a divorce,Timona can’t stop harping on about me and you, suggesting that I should see you. I was reluctant at first then she was like, ‘The woman you were meant to be with will slip from your fingers as you dilly dally there!’ So I thought, let me come see you!” Manuel said, imitating Timona’s sharp voice and mannerisms making Renee burst into laughter.
“I will not lie to you. I thought I was getting into something serious,” Renee said as Shakiri, set the table for their foods. “Then I saw him. It was right in front of my eyes, I saw him with another girl, embracing and being all lovey dovey.”
“Sorry dear, did you confront the bastard?”
“No. I just let it go. I am just happy we weren’t that serious. Anyway, let’s eat. We should not waste time talking about him. Tell me about your work. I heard they made you Regional Manager?”
“Thank you.” Manuel addressed Shakiri who had deliberately hang around the two guests, pretending to do this and that on their table, listening in to their conversation. She smiled politely at them and went straight to the changing room. She knew Jayden would be there.
“Were you two timing her? She knows!” Shakiri announced.
“What?” Jayden asked confused at what Shakiri was talking about.
“She knows about another girl. She saw you embracing her.I think that’s why she brought that man here, to show you that it’s over between you two.”
Jayden gaped at Shakiri more confused. The only girl that he had was Renee. Then it dawned on him. She must have been watching him from her office as he met Naomi.
Naomi had come to update them on their mother’s health and get some money for some medication. Did Renee think that Naomi was his ‘other girl’? If she did, nothing could be further from the truth, because Naomi was his little sister.
-TO BE CONTINUED-