I picked the bottle of wine before me, reading the label to be sure the drink was non-alcoholic. I needed my sanity to be intact when the air hostess discovered that she had made a mistake and needed to return me to economy class.
I wrinkled my nose at the mere thought filled me with distaste. After experiencing the comfort and luxury of business class, you don’t want to be anywhere else. I poured out the wine into the wine glass by my seat and took a sip. I swirled the drink around my tongue savouring the rich grape taste.
I almost dropped my cup with fear. My mind is playing games on me. I hope I do not need to visit a psychiatric doctor. I was not only seeing things, but I have also started hearing things. The next set of people I might begin to see would be Peju and the twins! I tried to make light of my present predicament.
“Hey stranger!” came the deep baritone voice, I knew so well.
It took me some few seconds to realise that I was not hallucinating but sitting before me, was Drew Akande.
I gasped in unbelief.
“You!” I squealed with delight but lowered my voice looking around, but none of the two other people in the far corner of the plane seems to look our way.
“What are you doing here?” I asked as a soft, warm feeling starting up my toes and gradually engulfing the whole of me.
“Travelling,” he answered with a smile and a look of innocence, I could bet my two cents were for the Oscars but had my heart racing with excitement.
“You were the one…..” I mouthed.
It was all coming together. The business class was Drew.
“Yes, that’s me, your royal highness, at your service,” said Drew raising his glass of champagne in mock salute.
“To a new world of happiness and possibilities on your adventure.”
“You call a degree an adventure?” I asked rolling my eyes with amusement. Why was I complaining anyway? I was neither coerced nor mandated by anyone. I choose this journey of my own free will.
What was I thinking? Throwing everything I had accomplished for a whim to get out of a reminder of my misfortune.
Lately, my heart had decided to betray me. Accusation and counter-accusation were playing back and forth in my mind. I would never be the other woman. I should not interpret his friendship for any romantic gesture. I needed to keep my head and enjoy the camaraderie.
I was amazed at the length he went to schedule his flight with mine. Ahead of his scheduled meeting four days away.
“I might never see you again and want to create memories. You know…..” Drew’s deep baritone voice washed over me.
I nodded even when I did not know. But I was contented to have this time together. Perhaps, I will keep it as part of my memoirs of a great friend and former boss.
I was contented to lie back and bask it in his presence. Stealing looks at him through my half closed eyes.
Drew is the traditional tall, dark and handsome guy. Piercing eyes that could be quite intimidating, with a strong chin showing character. Outside the no-nonsense exterior, he was a man with a good heart. Too kind to a fault. He would make that lucky girl a good husband.
I shook my head to reign in my thoughts. I would lose my friend once he’s married.
Why had he not mentioned her to me? I was aware that sometimes ago there was no special someone in the picture, that he did tell me. But I guess time happened for him, and he found her while mine went downhill.
Perhaps the reason he never brought it up.
“A penny for your thoughts?”
“Sorry dude not even a quarter of a million dollar would do,” I teased back.
I would rather die than let a guy know I had fallen for him. Not an already taken guy. I smiled sadly and wondered at what point I fell in love with this hunk of a guy with a heart of gold. Love has stolen sweetly on me while I was not looking, the only snag is, it was too late. I could not fight it when I did not even know it was upon me.
A tear fell off my eyes as I abruptly wiped it away embarrassed at my display of weakness.
“You okay?” Drew asked with deep concern etched on his face.
How I could gaze into those eyes for a zillion years memorising every line, look and expression to take me through the coming days when my heart will hurt and as time passed the pain will slowly ebb away, I hoped. I was drowning in a loss of what I did not have and could never have. I loved Drew. I have always loved him. I do not know when or where or how it all started, but on this flight to England, it became clear as crystal and hurt so bad that I could feel the pain in my heart like a hot iron on my skin.
“Yeah, I got something in my eyes,” I forced a laugh that sounded hollow to my ears.
“You are so bad at lying,” Drew chuckled as he unlatched his seatbelt and came over to kneel at my seat.
Luckily, the “fasten on your seat belt” light was off.
“You have not left the shores of Africa, and you are missing home already. How do you suppose you’ll cope for the next 18 months?”
I smiled with relief. Thank goodness Drew could not read minds. He would be left aghast at my thoughts.
Grateful for the lifeline. I agreed too quickly to the theory of missing friends and family.
“You are such a pathetic liar,” he teased.
With eyes opened wide, I stared at him, hoping whatever psychic ability he had would not do a number on me.
“You are now a mind reader?” I shuddered.
“You could change your mind you know, “he continued like I had not spoken eyes boring into mine.
“No way,” I answered too vehemently in a bid to break up the emotional atmosphere that engulfed us.
“I do not want to be 50 and regret never taking that step.”
“Hmmm, yeah I can agree on that,” he said thoughtfully.
“I do not want to be 70 with a toothless mouth, sitting on a cane chair, looking in the sky and wondering why I ever let that girl go.”
I shifted uncomfortably wincing at the pain I felt cut my heart as a reminder that this debonair of a guy kneeling before me with such expressive handsome eyes was not mine.
“It is about time you told me about her but what do you mean letting her go? From what I can see you both look great together.
“Who?” Drew had this amazed look on his face like I had grown a horn or something scarier.
“Your fiancée, the girl in the picture at your house,” I blurted out.
I was like a rat in a trap, the more I tried to escape the more entangled I became saying the wrong things.
“My fiancée? Oh! You mean Ella! That’s my kid sister.”
I felt hot with shame and embarrassment. Followed by a spark of hope and then a huge disappointment. There was still someone else.
So this is the point the guy you love tells you he loves someone else.
LANA! I shouted my name in my head. Get a grip on yourself. Don’t throw away a great friendship. I scolded myself and pushed away the melancholy threatening to engulf me.
“So who is this lucky girl?” I asked too brightly anyone with keen eyes could read through me. It must have been a brilliant act because Drew believed me.
“Yeah, you should meet her soon, if you haven’t already.”
“Is it someone I know?” I continued pestering him acting too excitedly while intense pain punctuated every word and move? I should be declared the winner at the next Oscars for my excellent performance.
“It would be my honour, your majesty,” I mimicked a bow from my seat to hide the tears that threatened to fall.
What is wrong with me? 35,000 feet above sea level was sure messing my emotions.
Drew stood up from his where he knelt beside my seat all the while. He looked like he wanted to say something but decided against it. There was a look in his eyes I could not read. I guessed he did not want to talk about her. I should respect that.
I feigned a yawn and closed my eyes. Finding it hard to swallow. I wanted to lie on my bed and cry the pain out.
Love perhaps might never be for me after all.
Watch out for the sequel Winter 2018
Drew struggles with how to make Lana see she is the most important person to him juggling between his frequent visit to London from Lagos.
Lana is thrown into another season of grief as she loses someone special to her and fails to see love staring at her.
To solve her problems she further entangles herself in a web of deceit and betrayal.