Do not judge a book by it’s cover.
Curtis was shifting uncomfortably in his seat and I in turn kept my eyes fixed on him as I sipped on my coffee. Diana on the other hand winked at me without Curtis noticing. I got her message and smiled. It was obvious her wink meant, ‘he’s trying his best to swallow his pride and thank you and then apologize to you.’
Curtis emptied his mug of coffee and then dumped it on the small glass table beside his couch. He then ran a hand through his hair. “Dee, how sure I’m I the story you’ve just told me is legit? How do I know you and this woman are not in cahoots cause it seem like you’re getting along more than fine.”
“C’mon, Curtis, would I be as insensitive as to lie about something this serious? If you don’t believe I was almost gang raped and it was Alicia who saved me then go over to Emmasdale Police Station where I’ve left a statement.”
I saw Curtis swallow.
What an arrogant jerk, I inwardly said. Can’t believe he just can’t muster the bravery to thank me and apologize for his rudeness three weeks back.
I liked to believe he owed me an apology.
“Your name’s Alicia, right?” he
I merely nodded.
“Well, I’m grateful you went through the trouble of saving my cousin. Honestly speaking, I don’t know what I would have done had those low lives forced themselves on her. She’s so sweet and is the only family I have so I guess saying thank you won’t be enough but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway, thanks a lot.”
See, are you dead now? I’m still waiting for my apology though. “It’s fine, Mr. Maliti. As a police officer, it’s my duty to serve and help this country. That’s called patriotism.”
“Yeah but it’s not all police officers who are as patriotic as you’re so thanks once again.”
I shrugged and took another sip of my coffee which was now luke-warm. “You’re welcome and it’s my pleasure to help those in need of assistance.” I feigned a huge yawn. “Oh Diana, I’m so tired right now. I think I need to be excused. Can you kindly show me where I’m spending the night?”
Curtis hurriedly stared at Diana. His facial expression went like, ‘She’s sleeping here?!’
Diana’s, ‘It’s late, do you want her to go at this hour?
Curtis sighed and shifted his gaze toward me. “I’m happy to learn you’re spending the night or morning since it’s already past midnight. At least I’ll feel at ease knowing we are doing something to show appreciation for your kindness.”
I didn’t bother
Diana stood too and adjusted her dress. She gestured towards what I guessed to be the hallway, “This way, please.”
We were in the doorway when I heard Curtis clear his throat. “Officer, there’s something I-”
“Pardon me, Mr. Maliti,” I replied, not looking at him. “but I’m quite too tired so we’ll talk tomorrow.”
Yes I was tired but not as much as I was claiming to be. This was partly a charade cause I wanted Curtis not to get an ounce of sleep. I wanted him to at least feel how I felt back then when he’d humiliated me.
Diana ushered me to the guestroom and I thanked her. I wasn’t shocked to see the extravagancy of the room. After all, this house was ravishing and so was everything in it. Fully dressed, I dumped myself on the bed and drifted off to lala(sleep) land.
I woke with a start. Thinking I’d overslept. I sighed in relief upon checking the time on my phone, 05:34 hrs. I had one text from Baison, wishing me good morning. I opted not to reply cause if I did so, we’d end up texting each other for eternity.
I dragged myself out of bed and went to the adjoining bathroom where I emptied my bladder. I went over to the sink to wash my face and saw a packet of new toothpaste and toothbrush.
“Okay,” I muttered under my breath, quite impressed.
It was only after brushing my teeth and making the bed that I left the guestroom and went straight to the living room which was empty. An aroma of delicacies hit my nostrils and I followed it to the kitchen. I paused in the doorway upon seeing Curtis standing over the stove with an apron hanging from his neck, he was frying eggs.
The lady I guessed to be the househelp was helping him with coffee.
Both Curtis and the maid were startled.
“Morning,” said the maid sheepishly who hurriedly resumed what she was doing.
“You’re an early riser.” Curtis smiled.
I leaned against the doorframe and folded my arms across my chest. “As a lady, I ought to wake up early. That’s tradition.”
“Don’t let Diana hear you say that.”
“She’ll get hesterical and throw a tantrum. She really does hate the word ‘tradition’. As I speak to you right now, she’s cuddled up in bed and will only get out at midday.”
“She’s spent most of her life in Europe so I’m not shocked.”
Curtis shook his head. “Not most of her life. Same applies to me. Alicia, we- is it alright if I call you Ali?”
Baison’s the only one who calls me that. “Yes, it’s okay.”
“Cool. Ali, Dee and I were not born rich.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m sorry,” he flipped an egg. “I don’t think I can say, at least not just yet.”
When he was done with the eggs, I helped him set the table.
Once we were at the dining table, Curtis suggested we start eating. I was starving so I went right ahead.
“I’m sorry,” said Curtis abruptly, causing me to almost choke on my toast.
“The way I treated you at my book opening. I was so rude, I know. And that’s why I’m sincerely apologizing to you, Ali. It’s not that I’m only apologizing because you saved my cousin from getting molested last night, no. I’m apologizing because my conscience has been eating at me for the past three weeks. I was having a really bad night and it was utterly wrong of me to offload my garbage on you.”
“Was this apology rehearsed?”
Now it was Curtis who almost choked on his coffee. “No. Why would you think in such a manner?”
I shrugged. “Because it seems too perfect. Anyway, to err is human and to forgive is divine so yeah, I forgive you. But this doesn’t mean we’re best buddies now. I’ve got my own life to live and you’ve got yours so let’s keep it that way.” Okay my mouth was going to land me in trouble one of these days. I didn’t even know why I was saying all this.
As if to save me the awkwardness, Curtis only smiled and said, “Noted. And thanks for being so understanding.”
When we were done eating, I hinted at wanting to go home. Curtis suggested he gives me a ride but I declined. He insisted and I declined. After what seemed an eternity of insisting, I finally budged. Curtis drove me home and we made small talk. He parked in front of my gate.
“I’m sorry but you cannot come in,” I blatantly told him.
“It’s fine, I understand. You have a nice house, Alicia.”
“Thanks, Mr. Maliti.”
“The title ‘Mister’ combined with my surname makes me feel kinda old. Why don’t you just call me ‘Curtis’?”
I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction. “Mr. Maliti’s fine by me. Have a good day.” and I stepped out of his car before he could reply.
He waved at me and I didn’t bother waving back so he just drove off.
“This temperature’s killing me,” groaned Baison. “Why can’t it rain already? I’ll go crazy if this heat keeps up.”
“And you think I’m feeling cool where I’m seated? My God, Baison, you whine all the time.”
Him and I were in day shift two days after Curtis had dropped me off at my place. I hadn’t set eyes on him since and I didn’t wish to. Diana had come over that evening though but I was fine with her.
Baison and I enjoyed bickering and it was while we were at it when Curtis walked into the police station. He was wearing grey ripped jeans, a Manchester united t-shirt and dark sunglasses. His red snickers were on point too. In his hands was a bouquet of red roses.
“Does this place look like a cemetry to you that you decide to come in with flowers?” said Baison rudely as soon as he noticed Curtis.
Curtis ignored him. “Good afternoon, Ali. I was within so I decided to bring you flowers.” he placed them on the desk. “You can thank me later. Have a nice day, both of you.” and he was gone before I could say anything.
“What was the meaning of that?”
“Baison, I don’t know ai.”
“He just called you ‘Ali’. I’m the only one who calls you by that name. Wait a minute, are you sleeping with him?”
I don’t know what got into me but Baison’s question earned him a nice hot slap.
He held his cheek in pain. “What was that for?”
“For indirectly calling me a w—e. Baison, just because I slept with you doesn’t mean I go around doing the same with every man that comes my way. You better grow up cause I might end up ending our friendship. Now I get why you have no friends except me.”
For the rest of that day, Baison was sulky and I couldn’t care less. I wasn’t one to tolerate being called a w—e. Heaven knows I didn’t brook such fiddle stick.
A day later, I was still mad at Baison so I had changed shifts that he now worked with Helen and I with Sibajene.
I was seated at home watching cartoons with Faides when Helen gave me a call.
“Have you heard from Baison today?” she worriedly asked.
“Because he hasn’t turned up for work.”
“And you’re only telling me this now? For crying out loud, Helen, it’s past 19:00 hrs! Have you tried calling him?”
“His phone’s not going through.”
“Okay, I’ll go over to his place and check on him. I’ll keep you updated.”
“You’re going out again?” Faides asked with puppy eyes. I knew she longed to spend time with me and I was really trying my best.
“Yes sweety. But I’ll be back before you know it.”
What I didn’t know was that I wouldn’t come back home that night thanks to the ugly scene that was waiting for me at Baison’s place.