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The last smile Episode 26

“I can’t believe she is gone” Vicky murmured as she sat on the couch facing Raymond. She had just arrived from her friend’s place and after dropping her things, she discovered that Lucy was not in. Raymond broke the news of her departure to her.
“The earlier you believe it, the better for you” Ray’s eyes were fixed on the flat screen TV.
She sighed. “I must have scared her off; and to think I imagined that she accepted me for who I am… should have known that no one can” she was sober.
“What are you talking about” Ray’s attention turned to her instantly.
“I told her about my s£×uality”
“You did what?” Raymond yelled as he jumped to his feet. “What were you thinking? Were you daft or something”
“I was perfectly ok. Just did not want someone to like me and later become disappointed when they find out the truth”
Ray did not know why he yelled that way but he was furious. He had been the only one in their family to accept Vicky unconditionally even though her acts irritated him terribly. “When did you tell her?”
“The day after I arrived”
Ray looked at her like she had gone mad but he held his tongue. He wondered why he did not see the trace of hate in Lucy towards to Vicky. Not everyone would accept a l£sblan that easily except if they believed in them, which he found ridiculous. “Well, she left for her family. She even said in her letter that she wished you guys were sisters”. Vicky was stunned but she did not have the opportunity to probe him further because they heard the gate open and Ray knew who to expect.
He opened the door and met Duke who was walking majestically towards him. The guy could be a charmer any time any day without even trying.
“Hey man” he greeted Duke with a smile and they gave themselves the usual manly hug. “To what do I owe the honour?”
“Is it a crime to visit my best friend?”
“Judging by the last time you visited me, I would bet this year’s salary that you are not here specifically for me”
“I would be ready to take that bet anytime” he grinned. They entered the sitting room and Vicky who had been watching a movie turned round. Duke’s heart skipped a beat as he stared at the only woman he had ever loved. He had fallen in love with her long ago but when he bore his heart to her, she had in turn told him that she saw him as someone of the same s£× with her and the only people that appealed to her were females. Being in love with a l£sblan was the last thing he ever imagined would happen to him. The incident would have affected his relationship with Raymond but he did not allow it. It took a long time for him to forget her even though she was already out of the country.
Vicky swallowed and smiled tightly at Duke. If she had known that he would be visiting, she would have stayed back at her friend’s place, besides, she was also a l£sblan.
“Hello Vic” Duke finally broke the silence. Ray just stood still, watching the drama. “I can see that you are still as s£×y as ever” his eyes roamed Vicky and Raymond frowned protectively.
“And you are even more of a flirt” Vicky replied with a corny smile.
“Amen to that” Duke’s eyes held no smile even though his smile portrayed them.
“OK” Ray cut in. “Vicky, could you please get us juice?”
Vicky left without a reply and Ray fixed Duke a warning glare. As they sat, Ray faced Duke. “I think I am ready for that bet now” Duke hissed and he laughed.
Duke and Raymond discussed unhindered in the sitting room. Raymond was trying his possible best to use his best friend as a tool in order to forget his worries and keep his head straight. Never did a minute p@ss when he did not think about Luciana, worrying if she was alright. Being in the office made it worse; he was being paid to stay focused when he was doing the exact opposite. He could not remember anyone who took over his thoughts the way Luciana had done successfully. They were never intimate throughout their stay except for the klzz that in the gym. Even though he had been barely conscious, he still felt her soft l!ps on his and it had continuously haunted him until he felt he would run mad from desiring to really klzz her. The gym had become his favorite part of the house because he went there frequently to work of his stress and thoughts; even at that, there was little or no effect. He had no doubt in his mind that the klzz was what propelled Lucy’s speedy departure. He had known that she would leave soon but not as fast as a bullet.
“RAY” Duke yelled as he and Vicky stared at Raymond who suddenly bolted out of his reverie. The two pairs of eyes peering at him drew a scowl from him.
“What is it? Do you have to yell my name like that when we are two steps away from each other?” Ray asked as the anger that had become his best friend for the past few days began to erupt.
“Considering the fact that I have been calling and talking to you for minutes now with your mind being far away, I was sorely tempted to use a megaphone in retrieving your escaping mind” Duke ranted. “What the hell have you been thinking about?”
“I am sure a particular fair goddess with an incredibly long brown hair and striking eye balls has created a castle in his head. He was merely exploring it” Vicky said with a glint of humor in her eyes.
Duke frowned. “I never knew Raymond was that much into Tinuke. Especially with all her unbearable attitudes. Does she have brown hair?”
Vicky snorted. “Tinuke my foot. Even Tinuke cannot stand Lucy’s beauty. Ray has been testy ever since the rare beauty left, I have no doubt he is in love with her”
Duke smiled. “You don’t say” he had a devilish grin that Ray already recognized as a sign that he would continuously tease him until he said something. He hissed. Duke and Vicky kept on talking about him, like he was not pres£nt while he just looked on.
“Raymond is in love!” Duke exclaimed then out of the blues, he asked Vicky. “How did you know?”
She smiled. “You only need to see the way he looks at her. He stares at her even when she is not looking and the look on his face is priceless. She was able to pull him to the kitchen, can you believe that? He looks at her like she was the last icing on the cake and he would not wait to grab it for himself”
Ray snorted. “If I am correct, you used to think the same of Bose and I” he replied.
She smiled. “Yeah, I used to, because I mistook your likeness for her as love. The way you gazed at Lucy can never be compared to the way you looked at Bose. The chemistry between you and Lucy cannot be denied also; I am sure Lucy left because she could not withstand your powerful appeal. I noticed her efforts in ensuring you guys never stood too close to each other” she had this love signs in her eyes as she talked.
The analysis struck Duke as odd, coming from the mouth of Vicky. “And how would you know how a man looks at a woman he loves?”
Vicky turned to him as the humor in her eyes and voice evaporated. Ray noticed the turning table with both relief and anxiety.
“I don’t expect you to know that. The highest you should know is how a woman in love looks at another woman” Duke continued.
“Bring it down Duke” Raymond said quietly, knowing how h@rd it had been for Duke to forget Vicky.
“I know exactly what a man in love looks like…” Vicky felt insulted.
“Humor me” Duke countered.
Raymond stood up with a sigh and turned towards the entrance. He knew that they needed to settle their score so he decided to leave them alone. He had enough things to think about. When he got to the doorway, he faced the duo and smiled. “I guess you don’t need me here. Three is a crowd. Duke” he called. “Be a gentleman”.
“How can I be anything less? I would not dream of crossing the line with someone who considers herself a man, even though she dresses otherwise. Would rather be with that fat dwarf in the office”. Ray swallowed and left them alone while Vicky sat down, glaring. She was hurt by that s£ntence.
“So, you consider me unappealing” Vicky mouthed.
“It is your appeal that sickens me. I was crazily in love with you but what did you give me? You threw my love in my face, telling yourself the ridiculous story of being a l£sblan”
“It is not a ridiculous story. I am a l£sblan. Men do not appeal to me and it is not my fault that I am like this. I did not create myself”
“You were not made like this. The problem is that you have not found the guy to make you squirm”
“I am not interested in any search. I have searched and found no one but now I am comfortable with what I am” she glared and stood up as she became very angry. “The earlier you accept it, the better for you. I have not had anything to do with men for over a decade and I never will” she declared.
“I would be an exception” Duke grabbed her hand and pulled her to him, so fast that she did not even have enough time to breathe.
“What the hell is this?” she asked breathlessly.
“When I klzz you, I want you to know that it is Duke and not one of those whores” with that he brought down his l!ps to hers, klzzing her thoroughly with anger. She struggled for some time against his chest but he pinned her to him until she later relaxed, knowing that no harm would come from letting him indulge himself. She was sure that he would have no effect on her.
When Duke s£nsed her total surrender, his anger seemed to evaporate and what was left was the love he had for her. He had been sure the feelings were dead but now they burned with rage, even higher than what he had felt for her five years ago. Even as he klzzed her, he knew that he would suffer the consequences. He would have to deal with killing that feeling all over again but even at that, he just klzzed her. When she placed her palm on his chest, a cold shiver went down his spine and he jerked away from her. She looked stunned but he just turned around and marched out of the house without looking back.
Luciana entered the empty church with her head covered with a shawl, to prevent people from seeing her. She had struggled with her parents until they finally allowed her to go. She walked to the pulpit feeling totally miserable. She had never been this confused, sad and angry in her life. When she got to the altar, she sat at the edge and just stared into space.
“What have I done Lord?” she began as her heart ached. “Why do I have to go through this turmoil? Why have you subjected me to this test? I know I was wrong, did not seek your cons£nt before going for Deolu out of pressure but must I go through this pain now?” tears sl!pped down her cheeks and she furiously wiped them away. She swallowed as she remembered the constant calls of her parents, asking her to bring a man home. Ever since she clocked 21, the tune had changed from ‘don’t let me see you wasting your time with any boy when you need to face your studies’ to ‘you are a grown woman, when would you bring the lucky man home’. It had been tough because her mum believed that any girl that was 21 years was ripe enough for marriage. When she clocked 23 and was not even seen with anyone in the male gender, not to mention being engaged, the pressure had increased. The job away from home had been all that she needed to breathe but still, her parents kept calling and asking. She was never angry because she knew that they loved her and being the only child, their focus was constantly fixed on her. What happened when she was 20 years old and in her third year in school had distanced her from men and she had maintained that distance. Fred was the only male friend she had in school but she saw him as a friend and nothing more even though he tried to change it. Deolu came along and was even closer to her than Fred was. He was everything a lady could want in a man – a Christian who loved God, a handsome guy who could make ladies trip, a successful and independent man, and a guy who loved her so much.
It hadn’t come as a surprise when Deolu asked her out and she had accepted even though she did not love him. Of course, Deolu never knew that she did not love him but she knew that the feelings she had for Deolu were too simple and easy to be called love. She liked him and felt that was enough because she had given up on herself, saying that she was incapable of love. But here she was, madly in love with someone she had lived with for two weeks and three days. Madly in love with someone who just broke off his engagement to his fiancée immediately she entered his house. Madly in love with someone who had too many ghosts haunting his dreams. Madly in love with someone who had given up on God. Madly in love with someone whose sister is a l£sblan.
“Why is this happening to me?” she screamed at the pulpit as more tears left her eyes. “I just want to be happy Lord” she sniffed. “Why am I now faced with these feelings for Raymond when I am obviously with another man?” she lamented. She knew that her heart would never allow her to leave Deolu even though she was clearly in love with Raymond. Deolu had gone through a lot when she was away, it would be suicidal if she told him that she was in love with someone else. Was that not what that useless Tunde did to Teju? Teju had told her everything shortly before she went to Abuja and Lucy had insulted Tunde, calling him all sort of names. Lucy felt she would be in the same category with Tunde if she left Deolu, even though she was not after s£×.
Raymond was not perfect in any way but whenever she saw him, she saw perfection. Ever since she got to that house from the hospital and found out that Vicky was a l£sblan, along with their religious status, she hadn’t stopped praying for them. Even though Ray’s physical appearance alone was enough to make any lady desire a steaming night, his looks was not the only thing she loved about him. She loved his jovial nature. She loved his ability to understand her silence within the few times they had spent together. She loved his attachment to his parents, even though it was a bit of a setback for him considering his inability to forget their death. She loved his romantic attitude. She loved his inability to cook. She loved his self confidence and independence which was very evident. The fact that he still worked under someone however surprised her. Ray was very famous, probably even more famous than Deolu but she saw and felt his humility and his down-to-earth nature. His comp@ssion was great. She sighed and stood up. Once again, she had been carried away by thoughts centered on Raymond. She wondered if Raymond felt the same way but common s£nse made her feel that the feelings she had was not reciprocated because she felt that he would love his fiancée, or ex-fiancée. He had slept with his fiancée a lot, he must love her. She swallowed as jealousy threatened to choke her.
“Lord, please fix this for me. If you don’t I would end up living with Deolu, while my heart stayed with someone else” she demonstrated, like she was talking to a physical being. “I also want Fred to pay for what he did to me. Father, you know what he did. Please, fight for me” she wiped her face and went out of the church with the shawl carefully covering her face.
Hmmmmmmm, Between Raymond and Deolu, who’s the right man for Lusy? And who sacrificed most for her?


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