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Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 3:24am On Mar 08
RUBY’S SEARCH FOR ROMANCE
By Cynthia Linlin


Synopsis
After Ruby ends her ‘friendship’ with Boye, she actively begins to look for a real, serious relationship. Her quest for ‘real and serious’ leads her to start a journey where she would not only find the partner of her dreams, but also go through heartbreaks and cause heartbreaks; she would go through dark times, near-depression, and find out shocking things about herself.

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”
– Bruce Lee, “Love Is Like a Friendship Caught on Fire”

©2020 Cynthia Linlin
All rights reserved. No part of this series may be copied, reproduced, translated, adapted, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Cynthia Linlin.

Updates at least three times per week and five times at most. Enjoy your reading experience.


EPISODE ONE

Johnny Drille’s voice filled the room as Ruby powdered her face. She hummed along to the song, feeling his words wash over her. He was her celebrity crush.

“Why do you like these boring songs? They make me want to sleep.” Boye turned on the bed, the rumpled sheets going down to his waist. She had woken up to find him scrolling through Twitter. It was about an hour and a half since then, and while she had taken her bath and dressed up, he was still changing positions on the bed as he continued his morning job of twittering.

She ignored his question and continued what she was doing. “Are you not going to work today? Abi, you want to take another day off today?”

He groaned. “I don't know. Let my guy call me first. You know how my work is.”

She opened her mouth to say something but shut it up. It wasn't her business. She didn't need to force him to take his unstable job seriously.

“You know that babe I was talking about the other day?” He sat up on the bed and stretched. His brown lean body gleamed in the brightly lit room.

A few names ran through her mind. When the answer wasn't forthcoming, she asked, “Which one?”

“The one I met at the junction, Stephanie. I just found her page on Instagram. You should check her out.” Yawing loudly, he came down from the bed and wore his slippers.

“If you want to ask her out, just do it. There is no need for me to validate her for you. Moreover, my standards and yours are not the same.” It was difficult to keep the bite out of her words, but she tried to sound as casual as possible. Yet, deep down in her heart, she hated the feeling of hurt that had flamed. Just friends, she reminded herself, Bestie.

“It's just that I don't want any girl to do me like Josephine. You know na? And you are always quick to point out those tendencies in girls.” He came to stand beside her, picking up a makeup item, looking at it, and then returning it to its position.

“That was before, not now. If you want to date any girl, go ahead. I won't stop you. But just inform me when you do, let me pack my load. I don't want any girlfriend wahala.”

“Ah babe, noo! we can continue. Even if I find another girl, we can continue sleeping with each other. It's not as if you have any boyfriend yet.” He walked to the bathroom, leaving the door slightly open.

Ruby winced at the sound that soon hit her ears. He was really clueless about everything, wasn't he? With a sniff, she packed up her makeup items and stood up. “There's this guy I met the other day. he chatted me up on WhatsApp and it seems to be going somewhere. If it works out, I'm not going to be having anything with any other person including you.” The lie flowed seamlessly from her lips. She mentally went through her WhatsApp contacts wondering if there was anyone that remotely filled the description. There was none. She bit the inside of her lips softly in disappointment. She had chased them away all because of one person.

“Which guy? Why didn't you tell me about it?” He came out of the bathroom still tying his trousers.

“Did you flush the toilet?” she asked instead.

He frowned and looked back into the toilet. He shut the door as though trying to hide the evidence. “I will do it later. You didn't tell me about him.”

“Oh, I must have forgotten.” She hoped she sounded nonchalant.

He stood beside the table and watched her as she adjusted her clothes and packed her things into the overnight bag she had come with. “So, you want to date him? What does he do? Are you sure he is really interested in you?”

She rolled her eyes, forcing her makeup bag into the larger, already filled red bag. “Of course. He's not just interested in me because of the different sex positions I can invent. He actually wants to date me. Take me out on cool dates and the rest.”

“I'm not just interested in you because of sex. You are my best friend.” He seemed to finally understand her words.

“Best-friend,” she stressed. “And I need a boyfriend, Boye. In fact, we both need to get into a proper relationship with other people. We have been doing this,” she gestured at the scattered bed, “for over three years now and I don't see it going anywhere. Maybe it's time we acknowledge that whatever we have has gone beyond the limits of friendship and is now something else. God knows I don't take you as a friend anymore.” I take you as something much more different from just a friend, she completed in her head.

“What do you mean?” He straightened up.

“Let's stop this, whatever it was. I want to get into something serious.” She looked at him.

“Ehn?” He barked out a laugh. “I'm not stopping you from dating anyone. But we can still be friends.” He moved closer to her and attempted to draw her into a hug.

She pulled away. “No, Boye. I want a serious, exclusive relationship.” She took a deep breath. “You don't ever see yourself dating me right? You just see me as your Bleep buddy, your booty call, the girl that can be as adventurous as you are on the bed, right?” Finally, she was saying the words that she had been hiding in her heart for over two years now.

“What are you saying? Ruby, you are my friend.”

“No, Boye. I am not your friend. I stopped being that the moment we started sleeping with each other. I am the girl you have been fucking under the guise of friendship. I am the girl who fell in love with you and kept waiting for you to take me seriously. I am the girl that had to watch different girls take the position that I wanted so much in your life. And yet…” Her eyes watered. She blinked rapidly. She didn't want her makeup soiled.

Seeing Boye’s expression, the instinctual repulse on his face, the way he moved away from her, told her all she wanted. She sighed and breathed deeply to school her emotions. With a small smile, she looked at him. “It's alright. I've always known that I can never be your girlfriend. It just... ... hurts.” Her voice caught in her throat, it was as though needles were piercing her chin. She looked around the room, searching for any of her property that was still lying around in the scattered one-room flat. Maybe there was, she thought of her panties and her green sponge in the bathroom. He would dispose of it himself.

Boye still hadn’t said anything, but she wasn’t going to wait for him to do that. With a final goodbye to him, she picked up her bag and went out of the house.

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 3:18am On Mar 09
EPISODE TWO

Ruby had to wait a few minutes for the Uber she had ordered to get to her pickup destination. She tried not to focus on the inconspicuous looks that were thrown her way, the most noticeable from the saloon opposite where she was standing. They were just opening for the day, one of the three girls in the saloon was hanging out towels on the rack she had brought outside to the front of the shop. Another was sweeping the floor, while the last stood with her hands akimbo, not attempting to hide the looks she was throwing Ruby.

This wasn't the first time Ruby had to wait for a cab in front of Boye's compound. It was an open street, where everyone knew everyone. And it was no secret that she was Boye's ‘friend’. Sometimes it was pitiful looks, she had learned to tell that they came when Boye had a girl over the previous day. Sometimes it was malicious looks. Like the time after Boye had started dating Ozioma, the girl that made it a mission to show her superior position in Boye's life. She had gone around announcing her relationship with Boye, even to the extent of expecting an engagement ring.
This would be the last time, Ruby thought to herself. She checked how far away the Uber was and continued to go through her WhatsApp messages.

A champagne-colored car pulled to a stop in front of the building. Ruby matched the plate number to the one in her phone before she got in. She briefly exchanged greetings with the driver, a man probably in his late forties. She plugged in her earphones to prevent any conversation from ensuing. The car started slowly out of the neighborhood. Ruby sighed with relief as soon as he turned into another street, the familiar sight of the area that she had spent more than three years of her life faded away to the back of her mind.

She and Boye's friendship had started when she was in the university. It hadn't always been just the two of them. They had been three friends, three very tight friends. Boye, Ruby, and Rose. When asked, she could barely remember how they became close. Their friendship continued until after they had all graduated and went for their NYSC. It was during that one year that their friendship changed. Boye and Rose suddenly announced that they had been seeing each other behind her back.

It was as much a shock as it was a disappointment. She had also been harboring feelings for Boye and intended to profess them when they returned to Lagos. She was hurt as well, especially when she found out that the relationship had been going on for quite a while and they didn't deem it fit to tell her. Despite this, she hid the feelings she had for Boye and blessed the couple. This also caused a strain in the relationship between the three. Ruby slowly withdrew from the trio.

After their service, they returned to Lagos, going in different directions. Rose had gotten a job in an accounting firm. Ruby started working as an accountant in a business firm. For Boye, he also got a job but lost it a few months later. In the year they all settled in their respective jobs, Rose and Boye slowly grew apart. Rose's schedule got busy as she turned all her attention on her work in an attempt to get a salary increase and swift promotion. It was hard for her to do that while still in a relationship with Boye. Boye was quite the demanding boyfriend. It didn't take long for the quarrels to start and soon they broke up.

If Ruby's relationship with Rose and Boye became stale when they started dating, she grew much closer to Rose after the break-up. Due to how the relationship with Boye ended, Ruby had to separately maintain her friendship with the two of them. It became a triangular friendship.

Ruby started sleeping with Boye three years after settling in Lagos, about a year and some months after Boye and Rose broke up. Of course, Rose was the only one that knew of the awkward friendship between her and Boye.

“That guy is worse than a leech. I wouldn't want you dating him, not with where you are now,” Rose had advised that day. It was a Sunday, one of the few days that their busy schedules would let them spend time together. Ruby just broke the news of sleeping with Boye.

“He doesn't want my money or anything. It's just the sex.” The words ended in a shrill voice.

“That's the thing. You like him, but he is just using you for sex. If he gets an official girlfriend, what will you do?”

Ruby didn't consider the implication of her next words. “I can handle it. It's not like we must be in a relationship to validate anything. Moreover, I think it will make him develop feelings for me.”

It was the same hope that had kept her running from her home in Maryland to where he stayed in Alaba for three years. The same hope that saw different girls walk in and out of Boye's life, believing that one day he would wake up and find a girlfriend in her. No one knew her sexually as Boye did. And she knew him too. The things they did together, Boye had even confessed that no other girl could satisfy him the way she did. And in the end, what did it amount to? It was just her wishful thinking.

She shook her head, willing the thoughts of Boye away. She searched through her contacts on WhatsApp and stopped on Rose's name.

We broke up, she typed first and then deleted it. Were they ever together? She mocked her foolishness.

The thing with Boye is over, she typed and sent it. She clutched the phone tightly in her hand, watching the message as it transitioned from a single tick, to double ticks and turned a bright blue.

Honey
That idiot
Are you okay?
Where are you?


The one-lined messages were sent almost simultaneously. If Ruby didn't know Rose well, she would have assumed that the messages had been waiting in her phone, to be copied, pasted, and sent.

Her phone rang as she made to type out a reply.

“Babes,” Rose's usually cool voice was high-pitched. “Are you okay? Do you need me to come to pick you? Where are you?”

Ruby couldn't help chuckling at Rose’s tone. “I'm okay. I'm fine. Just a little hurt, but it will soon pass.”

“Oh, God! That idiot, let me not catch him. And I'm already on my way to the office. Are you going to be okay? I know how much you cared for him.”

“I don't know.” Ruby sighed. She leaned back and looked out of the car. The traffic wasn't too heavy today. She sent a prayer of thanksgiving to God. She didn't want to be late to work with what had happened. “I'm still a little surprised. When I told him what was on my mind, I had expected a reply, an assurance, or something. But he just kept quiet. Even the look on his face…” She pressed her eyes shut at the memory.

“You know what eh, just try to get through work today. When you come back, I will prepare something for you. Or do you want to go out?”

Ruby smiled, comparing her less-packed schedule to that of Rose. “No, no, no. It's okay. You don't need to do anything. I know how work has been for you this week.”

“You have come again. Don't worry. I just got to the office now. I will check on you later, okay? Just try to put him at the back of your mind. He doesn't deserve any more of your time, even in your head.”

“Yes ma,” Ruby said robotically, momentarily forgetting about Boye.

Rose laughed. “See you later then,” she said and ended the call.

Ruby still had a smile even after the call ended. She checked the time and sighed again when she realized that she would be a few minutes late.



Visit my blog @ cynthiaspen.worpress.com for more interesting series and stories.
N.B: This story is not available on my blog

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 3:33am On Mar 10
EPISODE THREE

Ruby opened the door and walked into the house in blissful agony. Even though her heels ached from wearing tight shoes throughout the day, her face was feeling clunky with the layers of makeup she had on and the throbbing ache in her calves, she didn't feel as tired and grumpy as she'd imagined she would be when she left Boye's house in the morning.

As soon as she entered the business firm where she worked, everything about Boye had been forgotten. The month was quickly coming to an end and due to an increase in business scope earlier that month, the accounting department had been on their feet, reconciling old accounts with the new ones that had been created, running analysis.

Her excitement about work was because she had been chosen to present a report at the end-of-month meeting, a meeting which coincided with the midyear performance report. It was a breakthrough for her.

Despite being in the company for about four years, the status of the 'newbie' hadn't completely been taken away by the rigorous method with which she carried out her tasks. She was the youngest in the department and still bore the brunt of the smaller, miscellaneous tasks that lay around the office. Being able to make a presentation before the board was like an official ceremony, removing the 'newbie' tag from her name. After the meeting, she would be assigned a particular task depending on how well she'd performed.

Ruby couldn't help but sigh in disappointment at the realization that Rose was not home yet and there was no electric supply. While she rejected her offer to prepare a comfort meal for her, she still longed for Rose’s food.

Rose was the cook between the both of them. While Ruby knew her way through ingredients and kitchen equipment, her food had a general feeling to it. It wasn't exceptionally tasty or colorful. It was just there.

On the other hand, Rose was a sucker for food aesthetics. It was a joke between them that if one day Rose loses her job, she would do extremely well in the food business. Rose's culinary skills were only second to Ruby's mother, she often said.

When Rose decided to cook, she cooked. And whatever she brought out of the kitchen, was picture-worthy and finger-licking delicious. It was no wonder that both their galleries were filled with either selfies or pictures of food taken from different angles.

Ruby contemplated switching on the generator as she took off her clothes and dressed in looser clothes. The light from the rechargeable lantern on her desk was enough for her to get on with, but there was an eerie silence in the house that made her feel uncomfortable. The feeling was dousing off the excitement she had been feeling and slowly unbidden thoughts of Boye started flooding her mind.

He hadn't called, she had confirmed earlier in the evening as she left the office. There were no missed calls, no texts. She tried to force herself not to feel disappointed, but she couldn't help it. Her mind went back to a conversation she once had with him.

The scent of sex was pungent in the room as they had just completed another round of sex.

"When do you want to get married?" The question came unbidden from that part of her that longed for stability, assurance.

He was quiet for a while, still breathing heavily, his arm thrown over his face, preventing her from fully observing his expression. "Marriage? It's too early to think about that."

"I know." She leaned up on her elbows and looked at him. "Like what do you feel about it? If you were to marry someday what type of girl would you pick?"

"Definitely not someone like you." It had come out casually but it rang with seriousness. He laughed and pulled her into a hug. "I mean I want someone a little softer than you."

She had covered up her hurt emotions with a snigger. "Who wants to even marry you."


The signs had always been there. To him, she could never be his girlfriend. He didn't even see her as a woman that could be a wife. Her eyes watered. This time, she didn't hold back the tears as they came flowing down her eyes. Why? Why? She kept on asking herself. Why didn't she leave him sooner? Why did she allow him to play with her that way? Why wasn't she strong enough to do the right thing sooner? Why...? Why...?

But you also enjoyed it, a small voice in her head whispered halting the descent of her tears and the moaning coughs that came out of her mouth.

Of course, she enjoyed it. She couldn't deny it. Before Boye, she’d only slept with two guys in her life. There was Buike, her boyfriend when she was in year one. The guy that had taken her virginity. She didn't have much memory of sex with him. Uti, whom she started dating when she went for her service in Benue had been more interested in his gratification than whether she enjoyed it or not.

With Boye, it was different. She could still remember the day their affair started.
They had gone to a friend's birthday and had too much to drink. Boye's house was closer to the birthday venue so she had opted to spend the night with him. Getting home, when they had settled to go to sleep on the mouka foam that lay at the corner of his one-room apartment, Ruby dressed in one of his shirts, his hands began straying. The small touches, seemingly unintentional, sparked off intense need between her legs and set alight those emotions that she had suppressed when Boye and Rose announced their relationship.

It had been an intense night. Even the thought of it now still aroused her. Boye was quite a stud on the bed, twisting her body in ways she didn't think possible.

"Is it not okay?" she had to ask when it seemed he wanted to go for another round.

Thinking back to it now, she was tempted to think that Boye had aimed to train her to be his personal sexual vixen. When one of his girlfriends didn’t satisfy him, she was his quick dial. She was the one that occupied his bed during the short intervals in between girlfriends.

"No, you are not the victim," she said aloud, stilling the part of her roaring up it’s heard, pleading the part of the victim. And indeed she wasn't. She had only placed her honeypot in the wrong place and she could blame no one but herself for ignoring the writings on the wall.

Never again, she thought, standing up from the bed and wiping her face. Boye's regime in her life had ended. It was time to look forward to the next best thing.

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 1:17am On Mar 11
EPISODE FOUR

“I don't think it's necessary to put on make-up. The guy doesn't like girls with makeup. He prefers natural; natural hair, natural breasts, natural face. If they have an association for team natural, I'm sure he will be the chairman.” Rose stood by the door watching Ruby as she decorated her face.

“I'm not putting on makeup for him. What is my business if he doesn't like it? Is it his face?” Ruby retorted. The guy in question was definitely going to be one of the most annoying people she'd ever come across.

“Just saying. Though you also look good without makeup. Just try to be polite. This is my first time playing matchmaker. I don't want it to be a flop.” She reached out and took the eyelash from my hand, proceeding to help me put it on.

Her breath smelt strongly of pineapple as she leaned towards me, tipping my face up. “It's already a flop. I can't imagine why someone will chat you up on WhatsApp and then not say anything aside from ‘good morning’ ‘hope you slept well’. I tried to take the conversation a little further and then with two or three sentences he will just shut down.”

“Maybe he wanted to wait till the both of you meet so that you can have a stronger connection?” She too sounded dubious.

I looked at myself in the mirror, fluttering my lashes and posing in different angles to let the light from the transcendent bulb hit my face. “Make I hear, he already seems boring, even those things he is posting on his status. I even prefer Nene with her countless gospel verses than his.”

“I don't look at his status. I muted him a long time ago. I give it to him, he is intelligent, but what he says most of the time is nonsense and is not going to add any significant thing to my life, not even small laughter.”

“Seconded.” I stood up. “That is why I am going to do everything possible to make sure it doesn't work out. Even you know that we are not compatible.”

Rose had an imploring look in her eyes. “Just go please, don't be too rude. He is Blossom's friend, at least for both our sakes. I didn't know he was serious when he commented on the picture I posted of you on your birthday.”

“Don't worry.” I patted her shoulder. “I will go, after all, who can say no to a date with food.”

Rose laughed. “You and food. The guy likes Chinese, so he might take you to a Chinese restaurant.”

“Anywhere, I don't mind. So far as there is palatable food.”
My phone vibrated.

“He's here?” Rose went out of the room before I could even look at the phone. I picked it up and sighed when I saw the missed call. It was Boye. Why was he calling me? I ignored it and went ahead to put on my shoes.

“He's here,” Rose shouted from the front door.

I raised my brows in surprise. He had arrived too soon, about thirty minutes early. Thirty minutes that I had wanted to use to take pictures. Still, I took my time, checking my clothes and makeup in the mirror, dabbing my lips to reduce the amount of gloss I had put over the lipstick.

I could hear Rose conversing with Uche in the living room. I strained my ear to hear his voice. Quite deep, I noted thoughtfully.

“Are you not done?” Rose came into the room a few minutes later. She met me sitting on the bed, looking through my Instagram feed.

“Why did he come early? I haven't taken any pictures.”

“He said he was just returning from a meeting and felt that it would be a waste of time if he goes home first before coming to pick you,” Rose explained. She touched my hair lightly.

I moved my head slightly, away from her hands. It had taken me a long time to properly style the bunch of braids now sitting atop my head like a clay pot. It was annoyingly heavy too. “And then?”

“Do you want to have the date in his house or follow him first to his house, then after he freshens up, you guys will just go for the date.”

“Meeting him for the first time and he is already thinking of taking me home.” I rolled my eyes. “After dressing like this, we better go to an interesting place o. I cannot come and waste this look.”

“I'm not sure it's as bad as you think it to be. It's better than him wasting your time, right?”

I shrugged. “What other option do I have. This date you just arranged for me, I'm going because of you o. Not because of any other thing.”

“Food nko?” Rose smirked.

“That one is just extra.” I picked up my purse and followed her out of the room.

It was just four days since I left Boye's home, sad and heartbroken. It was beginning to feel like it happened a lifetime ago. Since that day he hadn't called me or texted me until now. As though he had been monitoring me, immediately I got a serious suitor, he was now back in my life, leaving me messages and a trail of missed calls. Thank God, I had gotten over whatever I had for him.

Uche had been in the picture for quite a while. He had asked Rose for my number when she posted my picture on her status to wish me a happy birthday. Apparently, he felt an ‘intense connection’ with me as soon as he saw the picture and wanted to get to know me. From his profile picture, he was good-looking, with light skin and thick beards that made me ignore his obvious faults. His status posts made him seem quite the eccentric with a weird taste in movies. And Rose was right, he was all for the natural. Like I told Rose, I was going for the date only because of her.

But beyond that, I was curious. How could somebody be interested in how to manufacture soap today, posting the whole process on his status to and then post about the science of dreams and visions. At first, I thought it funny, laughing at the seriousness with which he analyzed some of the things that I was sure no one on his contacts cared about. And then after a while, it became boring and annoying. Stick to one thing please, I was often tempted to send to him. I didn't though. it was his status and he was free to post whatever he wanted.

“Hey, Uche. She's here.” Rose walked into the living room.

I followed behind her, coming to the sight of him lifting himself from the couch.

“Oh my God,” I couldn't hold it in. He was tall, so tall that his head was almost touching our ceiling fan. And those biceps... I quickly got my act together and stretched my hands towards him, lips stretched out in a smile. “Hi, I'm Ruby. Nice to meet you.”

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 1:20am On Mar 11
RUBY’S SEARCH FOR ROMANCE
By Cynthia Linlin

Synopsis
After Ruby ends her ‘friendship’ with Boye, she actively begins to look for a real, serious relationship. Her quest for ‘real and serious’ leads her to start a journey where she would not only find the partner of her dreams, but also go through heartbreaks and cause heartbreaks; she would go through dark times, near-depression, and find out shocking things about herself.

Updates: At least three times a week

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Odoogu(m): 11:23am On Mar 12
Heart break sessionscheesy

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 4:42am On Mar 13
EPISODE FIVE

The warm smile on my face stiffened when I caught the slight upturn of his lips. Whatever feeling I had at the sight of his tall, good-looking mass faded away immediately. He took my hand slowly, his eyes on my face.

“Miss Ruby, I suppose?” He looked like he wanted me to be another person.

“The one and only,” I replied with a snigger. I hardened my look daring him to comment on my make-up, bracing for the comeback I would give.

“Pardon my being here too early.” He placed a hand to his chest and bowed slightly. I looked at Rose with wide eyes. She shrugged, biting her lips in an attempt to hold back her laughter.

“It's no problem.” I secretly bemoaned the fact that I wouldn't be taking any pictures. With the way he was standing and looking around, he wanted nothing more than for us to be on the way.

“So, you're ready?” He looked me up and down I caught a small nod of appreciation.
Where was the ‘all things natural’ man? I made a face at Rose, she just winked at me. I briefly thought of what she told him while I was in the room.

“Yes, of course.” We went out of the house. It felt weird walking in front of him. I felt his eyes on my buttocks. I ignored the urge to cover it with my small purse.

A blue Benz was sitting in front of the gate. “Wow,” I said softly.
He unlocked it and opened the door for me.

“Thank you,” I said with a smile. When he got into the car, I continued. “Your car is really cool.”

He smiled widely at me. “It's not mine. I borrowed it from a friend.”

I leaned back in surprise. That definitely wasn’t the answer I had been expecting. “Oh.”

“Yes. I will soon get mine though. I've been saving up for it. Do you know how expensive these cars are? I want to get a Honda Legend, you know it right? I also wanted to get a Benz but it is so popular these days, I prefer to have something else, to be unique. And then there is Lexus. Which of them do you like? I prefer Honda, you know…”

Jeez! Jeez! Jeez! The word kept on playing in my mind as he kept on talking animatedly about the features of all the cars he must have been researching for the past few days, the prices, the advantages, and disadvantages of getting which. I tuned out of the conversation, it couldn't count as one, rather it seemed like I was listening to a crash course on cars. I couldn't even pretend to listen. I was as interested in cars as I was in the history of the world. I could only admire them, but how they worked, I really didn’t care.

“...when I went there, most of the people rode bicycles especially the students. I mean, you cannot compare that place to Nigeria. The roads are well organized…”

“...the importance of reducing chemical emissions…”

“It is not like I don't like the BTS, but I still wonder…”

Can we get there already? I was truly, honestly regretting agreeing to come for this date. You could mute someone's status posts, but it was difficult to mute a living, walking WhatsApp status. I pictured myself laughing about this in the future, maybe with my husband or with Rose. But right now, it felt like a complete nightmare. His brain seemed to be working five times faster than mine, his lips jumping from one topic to the other. I wondered if his mouth didn't hurt from all the talking he did. it didn't help that we were currently in the middle of serious traffic.

“Sorry,” I cut into his monologue.

He looked at me, his eyes widened. He didn’t forget he had company, did he? “Can I play some music?” I asked uncertainly.

“Of course, although you would have to bear listening to the one I have been playing before. Do you know Evanescence? I…”

“Don't worry. I can connect my Bluetooth and play from my phone,” I said. He would soon launch into a commentary on the types of music in the world.

“What type of music do you like?” He asked tapping his hands on the steering wheel.
I searched my phone for the perfect playlist, one that could hold me until we got to the venue of our date. “Nigerian music,” I said. “Burna, Wizkid, and Fireboy. They're my favorite.”

“I haven't listened to Fireboy, but Wizkid?” He looked at me skeptically.

Not willing to get into an argument about my musician idol, I quickly clicked on a song. The loud sound that exploded from the speakers jarred me. I jumped in fright. “Jesus! Why is this fucking loud?”

He reached to turn down the volume. “I must have left it that way earlier.”

I frowned at him. “You turn the volume that high?”

He had the grace to look sheepish. “Yes, it helps to make me concentrate on driving.”

I imagined him talking to himself while driving, his mouth moving faster than the wheels of the car, and understood why he would need music that loud to help him concentrate. This guy is nuts, I had to admit.

I had heard of people that went mad from knowing too much maybe he was one of them. He was knowledgeable. Most of what he said was quite meaningful, however, he seemed so wrapped up in the books he had read, things he had learned to stay connected to the world and people around him. Wahala, I thought. I tried to picture myself dating him and the resulting image was me spouting off things I didn't even understand. Never again, I muttered to myself.

***
“Jesus, Rose,” Ruby moaned as Rose massaged her shoulders. “Never again do I want to see that guy. I've already blocked him on WhatsApp.”

“Was it that bad?” Rose's face was masked in disbelief.

“Try learning history, environmental science, literature, and even cars in the space of five hours. You should listen to him…” she deepened her voice. “When you want to talk about the possibility of a third world war, try to imagine the effects of chemical emissions on the environment, and then Shakespeare was one of the greatest poets..." Ruby shivered in horror. “Biko, biko. I will just join him in his madness.”

Rose clucked her tongue. “Today was my first time seeing the guy. I will talk to my boyfriend. The only thing I know is that he has a Ph.D. and two master degrees, the only one in their group of friends that has gone that far with his education. I thought he only posted those things on his status. I didn't know it was a mental thing.”

“Mental or not, it is not me that he will kill. He didn't even allow me to say anything all through the date. He will ask, 'what are your opinions on this?' 'what do you think about this?' but before I open my mouth, he has picked up another topic. His thoughts are just all over the place.” Ruby heaved. “The only good thing about him is that he is generous. At least he is not stingy.” She thought about the new clothes she had returned with.

“So in the end, the date was not all that bad sha?” Rose put in hopefully.

“No!” Ruby refuted. “It was bad o, very very bad. I cannot spend another minute with him even if he buys me the whole boutique.”

“Fine bobo like that,” Rose sounded despondent. “Well, I was really hoping the date would go well so I wouldn't have to tell you that Boye came to look for you this evening.”

Ruby sat upright and stared at Rose. She tried to calm her heart which was now beating rapidly. “He came? For what?”

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 4:42am On Mar 13
Odoogu:
Heart break sessionscheesy

Exactly grin
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 5:03am On Mar 13
Story cover

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:36am On Mar 15
EPISODE SIX

There was little Ruby hated than being left in confusion over things that concerned her life. She wouldn't call herself organized, but she felt more in control of her life when she knew what needed to be done, who needed to be called, what she had to buy. Boye giving her mixed signals was not the push she needed to improve her performance at work. First, he had completely ignored her, maintaining the impression that they were only using each other for sex. After she left, he was back in her life, asking her to come back.

“As what?” she asked when she called him after Rose said he’d come to look for her.

“We are friends, Ruby. I really value you as a friend,” his voice was pleading.

Ruby had heard enough of those same words. This time, she wasn’t falling for it. “No, Boye. You just like sex with me. We stopped being friends a long time ago.”

He breathed sharply. “That's not true. Then what do you call this thing between us?”

“What thing?” She was genuinely curious. “Sex?” she answered quickly before he could say anything.

“No, I don't mean that. Why are you so quick to make everything between us about sex. I meant the connection between us.” He sounded bitter at her reply.

“Ah!” At this point, Ruby honestly wanted to laugh. It took a lot of self-control to turn it into a small cough. “I don't see any connection, Boye. There is nothing aside sex between us”

“Listen-”

She sighed tiredly. “You listen Boye, you cannot expect me to just keep on sleeping with you forever why you go on having girlfriends. That is not fair, not just to me, to your girlfriends. I cannot keep playing this game with you. I need to get my life sorted out, and sleeping with you isn't going to help me accomplish that.”

“Is it boyfriend you want? You can still date other people while-”

“Hmm, it's like you don't even understand what I'm saying. Boye, good night. Don't call my number again.” She ended the call with so much finality, deleted his number, and switched off her phone.

***
When she woke up the next morning and switched on her phone, a barrage of notifications— missed calls, messages both on her messenger app and WhatsApp, all from an unsaved number that while she had deleted, could still remember clearly who it belonged to.

A summary of all the messages he’d sent mostly implied, “Come back, Ruby. We fit each other perfectly, you won't find another man like me.”

“I just love his foolish ego.” Rose laughed as she read out the messages while they had dinner the next night.

Despite knowing that these messages were just a coy to get her back in his bed, at his beck and call, Ruby couldn't help being tempted by them. She loved Boye. It was something she couldn't deny. She had spent a lot of her time and energy on him, that she really couldn't bear the thought of it falling apart. The thought that it was a useless endeavor.

Her date with Uche had not gone well. Indeed it was difficult to find a partner in the very thriving market of serious relationships. But she was willing. She wanted to get into a serious relationship. She couldn't keep on whining about Boye, and the best way to keep him out of her life and her mind would be to find another person to shower her love and attention on. There were other men more deserving of her.

***
“You're serious?” Rose looked at her in surprise. She had paused while putting on her earrings. It was morning and they were both rushing to work. She couldn't blame Rose for being surprised. No one woke up in the morning and started asking for blind dates. Well, except her.

“Yes, anyone.” Ruby nodded firmly. “Well, except crazy, intelligent people. They should be fine too. I'd prefer men with beards. Ah, no, beards are not important. Hmmm? He should have money too.”

“I thought you said anyone? Are you looking for models?” Rose scoffed. She slid her feet into black pumps.

“I didn't want to be too specific. Forget the ones I mentioned before, but at least let the guy be taller than me biko. That one is extremely, very, extra-important. You hear?” Ruby stressed. She was done dressing and stood by the door waiting for Rose.

“I've heard o. Later they will say Rose has high standards.” She made a face at Ruby as she picked up her bag and rushed towards the door.

“Let's hurry up. The BRT bus will soon arrive.”
They hurried out of the apartment.

***
After a few more messages and calls from the unsaved number she knew by heart, Ruby finally blocked the number and began the process of forcing herself to forget the digits. She was in the restaurant opposite the firm for her lunch break while she browsed ‘How to forget someone's number’. There was little help in the loads of information Google was bringing to her, but she was finding the search fun, sometimes clicking to read articles on ‘how to have a healthy relationship’, ‘how to know he is the one’ etc.

The waitress arrived with her plate of jollof rice and set it on the table.
“Get me a bottle of Sprite,” she raised her head briefly and then picked her spoon to eat, her attention still on the article she was reading.

“I'd advise you to concentrate solely on getting this plate of rice into your stomach, but I'm sure that advice wouldn't be welcomed.” A voice came over her head and someone sat down on the chair opposite her.

She looked up sharply, her neck almost cracking from the sudden movement. Subconsciously, a scowl decorated her face. “Gideon,” she acknowledged stiffly.

“As usual, not happy to see me.” He looked excited at that fact. “Get me a plate of poundo with vegetable soup, without fish.” He said to the waiter when she dropped a bottle of sprite in front of Ruby.

“You seem happy about that.” Ruby put her phone aside and turned her attention to her food.

“Well, you're like the only person I look forward to when I come to work in the morning. I'm just happy that my presence affects you.” He showed a set of white teeth.

Ruby shook her head in mock pity. “A bad effect, I suppose.”

“Bad or good, it's still an effect.”

Ruby spooned rice into her mouth, not caring to chew it properly before swallowing.

“You don't need to rush on my behalf. We still have about thirty minutes to go before we return to the office.”

She paused. “’We’? You and who?”
His food arrived. He leaned back to allow the waitress to set the food on the table. Ruby couldn't help but eye the mouthwatering, leafy soup that had chunks of meat and stockfish sticking out.

“You want?” He winked at her. He washed his hands in the basin the waitress had kept beside the food.

She ignored him and continued eating. From time to time though, her eyes would stray to the plate of soup Gideon was currently feasting on.

“Have you tasted the soup here? Or it's just rice and spaghetti you eat every time?” He cut out a portion of the pounded yam and molded it expertly.

Of course, she always ate rice and spaghetti when she came to this restaurant. She really couldn't bring herself to eat swallow in public, not with the size of the fufu balls that she could swallow. She didn't answer. Her plate was almost empty now.

“You should try it. Even though you won't eat it here, you can take it home. I assure you, you would regret not buying it sooner.”

She smiled stiffly and stood up, still chewing the fried meat that had topped her plate of rice. “I'm going,” she said. Without waiting for a reply from him, she left the restaurant. However, she put a mental reminder to stop by the restaurant to buy a plate of soup on her way home in the evening.

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 12:11pm On Mar 17
EPISODE SEVEN

Ruby referred to Gideon as her nemesis when she was asked about him. They were colleagues in the business firm where she worked. He had been employed the year before she came into the company. He had started in the marketing department before he was moved to the social media department when it was created as an independent department in the company.

Her relationship with Gideon had not always been this cold. In fact, he had been one of the few young, eligible men in the company that had captured her attention when she first stepped into the company. He was attractive, with a slight dusting of hair, well-trimmed and glossy. But it was his eyes that pulled her to him.

She'd felt special because of the look he'd given her when she was introduced to the other employees in the company. It was a deep look. She felt flushed with attention. He looked at her as though she was the only rose in a garden, his garden. Yes, that had been her feeling when she'd felt the look on her. At that time, she and Boye hadn’t happened so her mind had gone into overdrive, mentally readying herself to be wooed.

There was no wooing to be done. After waiting a few days, during which she dressed the best she could on her then measly bank account, she slowly accepted the fact that he had no special interest in her. This was heightened when a marketing strategist had visited the company and the same look was bestowed on her. If her early encounter with Gideon had ended this way, she wouldn't be so bitter whenever she saw him. There was more.

It was on a Friday, her first outing with the company. She had dressed to kill, she believed, despite being dressed in one of her older, asoebi gowsns, one that had become her go-to whenever she was invited to a wedding or an event in the same vein. It was old, but she still felt it was wearable, especially since she had yet to receive her first salary.

The venue for the outing had been in Lekki. Her home at that time was far from the company and she didn't want the stress of going back home to dress up then going to Lekki. She had packed her party clothes and shoes as well with some make-up and ended up coming to work with her overnight bag.

Alas, she didn't know that it was just a casual outing. She didn't need to dress up. No one was going to dress up. And the worse, no one told her even when she had told the others to give her some time to change her clothes in the bathroom.

The embarrassment, hot and uncomfortable, that had flooded her as soon as she came out and saw the others still in their working clothes and shoes, while she was dressed pencil-thin heels and a glittering, classic asoebi gown. A few weird looks were thrown her way but no one stepped out to tell her that she was overdressed. The three cars meant to convey them to the venue were already waiting and they were rushed into the cars.

She entered the same car with Gideon and three other employees. They were among the youngest in the company. That was where the ridicule started. Gideon didn't start it. The other female, Kossi deliberately being backbiting had started it, saying “It's as if someone doesn't understand the meaning of 'casual'.”

After a few comments here and there, with Ruby sheepishly admitting that she'd assumed that it would be something similar to a formal dinner party, it died down. But just before she could breathe a sigh of relief and mentally plan how to escape to a restroom as soon as they arrived and change at least her shoes, a sly comment came from Gideon who was sitting in the front passenger seat. “There will be a lot of male patrons there. Maybe she will find her next target there.”

A heavy silence hung in the car as the implication of his words pierced through her heart. At this time, she was certain that even the driver who was also an employee but way older than them also viewed her in such light. She didn't say anything. She didn't know what to say. She was hurt by the statement. It was the first time such a vicious remark was thrown at her. And so she had maintained a cowardly silence all through the ride. Her night was ruined. Even changing her clothes could not salvage whatever feeling she had towards the hangout.

The seed of contempt was sown. Although he apologized the next day, his stupid eyes boring into her as she stiffly accepted his apology, she could not bring herself to view him in a positive light and whatever good feelings she had towards him, disappeared like they were never there.

Since he had been transferred to the social media department where he managed the company’s social media accounts (something she had to admit that he was very good at), he suddenly seemed to be in her space more often— popping into the accounting department more often, getting to the company almost at the same time with her so that they would meet by the entrance and have to exchange awkward greetings with each other, and now, suddenly joining her for lunch.

He was surely up to no good, she thought subconsciously. She mentally ran through the reasons why he was cozying up to her and all of the reasons were not so good.

“How are you coming up with the presentation?” Mrs. Oyena asked. As usual, she was sitting behind her desk, spooning huge chunks of meat into her mouth.

Ruby swallowed at the permeating aroma of pepper-soup that filled the office and the attractive plate in front of the round woman. As usual, Mrs. Oyena was being the ‘queen of premium enjoyment’ as she was known in the company.

“It's coming along okay. I am still dealing with the numbers from the Enugu branch. It's comprehensive but I have to work it into the ones from other branches.”

Mrs. Oyena waved her spoon in the air with a hiss. “I told those people to make sure they use the same sheets we use, it would be easier. I don't know why that Promise man likes feeling as if he is an expert, because he went to school abroad? It's not like it's one better school. Who knows which school he went to in China? If it is even a school sef.” She paused to spoon a helping of the peppery water into her mouth.

Ruby didn't know which school Promise went to but she could argue that his method made things easier and the only reason she was having a problem was because it was difficult to revert it to the method they used and add it to the files. “I will soon be done with it, ma. It's not that difficult.”

“Don't worry.” Mrs. Oyena reached for her handkerchief and blew her nose into it. The pepper was indeed causing her some runny nose. “I will talk to him. By the way, send me the reports that came in from Awka yesterday.”

Ruby frowned. She settled down behind her desk and roused her computer from sleep. “I haven’t gotten any email from them,” she said as she went through her email, refreshing it three times.

“Hmm.” The sound of bones being crushed by strong molars filled the office. Mrs. Oyena spat out the bones into the cover of the plate in front of her. “I thought they were supposed to send it in before today.”

Ruby said nothing. The company had opened up new branches in Enugu, Awka, and Asaba in the past few years. She was barely used to doing heavy work that involved dealing with these three branches, but she was beginning to anticipate what would be her inception into the world of serious accounting after the annual year report.

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Oluwatimi2000(m): 2:16pm On Mar 17
hmm I see a Ruby and Gideon ship sailing
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by xaviercasmir(m): 8:04pm On Mar 17
wow nice work. Keep it up
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 3:01am On Mar 19
Oluwatimi2000:
hmm I see a Ruby and Gideon ship sailing

Taking notes grin
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 3:02am On Mar 19
xaviercasmir:
wow nice work. Keep it up

Thank you
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 3:04am On Mar 19
EPISODE EIGHT

“Ha, this one you are smiling sheepishly at your phone. Who is the new boo?”

Ruby rose her head sharply at the voice. She breathed out a sigh of relief when she saw that it was Ama, one of her very good friends in the company.

“It's just this guy I met on Twitter.” The words tumbled out of her mouth with no control. She wanted to slap her mouth. She looked up at Ama, gauging her expression. What would this God-loving, immorality-rebuking girl say?

Ama burst out laughing. She raised a hand to cover her mouth when she realized how inelegant it looked. “Really? Do people really get boyfriends on those apps?” She looked genuinely curious, leaning on Ruby's desk.

Ruby shrugged. She locked her phone, readying herself for a serious conversation. “I'm not sure. I've seen stories of how some people met their partners through Twitter or Instagram. But I feel most of it all is just fake.”

“Really?” Ama thought for a few seconds before she said. “I've gotten private messages from men in the past, but I always assumed they were scammers or just out to catch fun.”

Now, Ruby was intrigued. So with all the bible quotes and inspirational quotes Ama posted all over her social media accounts, there were still men rushing into her DM? “How many?” She pushed on.

Ama looked up at the ceiling. “I'm not sure. I had to block some of them, they kept on sending me some awkward texts. But of recent, there's been this guy, he has been responding to all my posts. He seems to like the same things as I do.”

“Oh.” Ruby leaned forward in interest. Was she going to change her social media strategy? “Did he chat you up privately?”

Ama's face fell in disappointment. “No. He doesn't need to. I checked his profile and he is married.”

“Ouch,” the word fell out of her mouth. She grimaced. She had never had a guy pay so much attention to her posts, no matter how she glowed under the sunshine or how she posed to make sure her assets were visible. There were appreciative comments here and there, but none that seemed to pay close attention to her. She'd had to go hunting for guys herself, liking all their photos, commenting on the not-so-funny videos some of them posted. Well, her hard work paid off. A smile decorated her face.

“So who were you chatting with?” Ama could read what was going on in her mind.

Her smile widened. “It's just this guy o. I chatted him up the day before yesterday on Twitter.”

“Wait,” Ama was aghast. “You chatted him up? By yourself?”

Ruby nodded, mentally adopting a defensive stance. “Of course. I just like him. His posts sound intelligent and he looks okay. I just decided to shoot my shot.”

“Wow.” She still looked perplexed. “I thought it was guys that were supposed to chat girls up.”

Ruby couldn't prevent snarky laughter from leaving her lips. It's fine girls like you that can wait, people like us with average looks, we will just wait till thy kingdom come. “It depends. Girls can still ask guys out. It's no longer the way it was before.”

Ama was everything Ruby wasn't. Pretty, intelligent with an awesome fashion sense that didn't interfere with her spiritual life, the charisma that she exuded that made her become the youngest department head, working in the PR department; her impeccable English, she didn't have to feign a foreign accent, that made her even more attractive. Despite being a staunch religious, she was still able to separate her spiritual life from her work life. She didn't go around carrying God on her head like many others She was one of the people Ruby secretly aspired to be like.

However, there was one stain on Ama's seemingly perfect being—she could be annoyingly close-minded, in a way that made anyone that got into an argument with her gnash their teeth in anger. It didn't help that she delivered her points intelligently with succulent English. Ruby had made it a point never to argue with her.

“I still feel it is necessary to wait for the guy. What if he rejects you or he says you are just looking to sleep with him for money? I hear many girls do that online now,” Ama continued.

And this was where Ruby would end the conversation. “If he is not interested, I move on. By the way, the wig you wore last week where did you get it from? I like the quality.”

Ama frowned at the sudden change of subject, but she was happy to introduce someone to her hair vendor. Maybe she would get a discount.

***
I just got home now. How about you? Don't tell me you're still stuck in traffic. A wink face emoji. Ruby struggled to take off her gown as she typed with one hand.

The reply came almost immediately. Don't talk about it. I'm definitely getting home by midnight. A sad face emoji

Aww, poor baby

Ruby took longer to take off her clothes, take her bath and settle into comfortable house clothes than she usually did. All the while, her attention was divided between her phone and the task at hand. She took a picture of the plate of jollof rice she had served out, using a filter to blotch out the blackened parts, a tell-tale sign that the food had been left longer than necessary on the cooker. She sent it to him immediately inviting him to join her.

She and Fred had been following each other on Twitter for almost six months. She'd begun actively engaging with his posts two months earlier when he had made a post about being single. He was a stockbroker and he had his stockbroking firm. He claimed to have worked with some influential people, but she didn't care.

She was more interested in him because of his wit as reflected through his tweets, his physical appearance as displayed on his profile picture—a baldheaded man with thick, dark beards. She didn't need to look at his full picture to know that he was at least six-inch tall and had a layer of muscles beneath his shirt. What more, when she had struck up a conversation with him, he'd patiently explained what he had implied in his tweet and seemed genuinely attentive to listen to her point of view.

Slowly, the messages turned from neutral conversations to personal, more intimate conversations, and soon they were getting involved with each other's daily life. Most recently, they'd exchanged phone numbers. Ruby couldn't forget the feeling that had engulfed her when she first heard his voice over the phone. His voice was not deep. It was slightly gruff, but attractively so. He spoke deliberately slow, sounded exactly like his tweets. He took time to answer questions, chose his words. He didn't use extravagant words, but his sentences were simple, straight to the point. His accent was undeniably Nigerian, with the tilt of the Yoruba accent. She loved listening to him. She purposefully asked him questions that would have him talking for a while so that she would just listen to him.

Speaking of which, she quickly cleared her plate and washed down her dinner with a gulp of water. As she retired to her room, she dialed his number. It was going to be another long night.

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 3:07am On Mar 19
Wishing all my readers a lovely weekend ahead. smiley smiley

2 Likes

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by mhizv(f): 4:52pm On Mar 19
Can't be the only one that sees Ruby and Gideon together kiss
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 5:37am On Mar 20
Thanks for the update ma’am

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:06am On Mar 22
mhizv:
Can't be the only one that sees Ruby and Gideon together kiss
Let's see how it goes then kiss
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:07am On Mar 22
EPISODE NINE

Ruby worked studiously at her desk, reviewing numbers, repeating phrases in her head. Since she got to work that morning, she had only gotten up from her desks two times. Those two times were trips to the restroom when her bladder couldn't handle the torture any longer.

For the first time since coming to the company, she forfeited going for her lunch break. Even though there was a slight gnawing in her stomach that wasn't helped by the fact that she was using water to tide over the feeling, she was barely aware of this feeling. She was anxious, nervous, and excited. The feelings threatened to run her over and the very thought of the presentation which was the next day was enough to make her feel like throwing up.

Everyone in the office seemed to understand what was going on with her and steered clear of her desk. Well, everyone but Mrs. Oyena.

“You don't need to stress yourself so much,” she said when she returned from using the restroom during the lunch break. She had asked Ruby as soon as it clocked one if she was going to eat in the restaurant. Ruby replied in a low mumble, her eyes still poring over the figures on her computer screen. She went for lunch and returned to see Ruby still in the same position.

“I'm just trying to do my best.” Ruby's neck felt stiff as she looked up at Mrs. Oyena. The woman's face was etched in a severe frown. Ruby massaged her neck, a sheepish smile coming onto her lips.

“Did you create a PPT?” Mrs. Oyena leaned over the table. She took over the mouse on the desk and started clicking rapidly.

“Yes. It's over here.” Ruby tried to take the mouse from her hand.

Mrs. Oyena ignored her. “Do you think you're writing exams? Who has time to sit down and listen to you rattle out all these numbers?”

“But ma-”

Mrs. Oyena shook her head furiously and heaved a sigh. “You don't need to cram all the numbers. That is why the sheets are there. You just need to report the trends on the sheets accordingly, make comparisons with the previous data and also report on that of other branches, using graphs and charts. You've done all those things, why are you still learning all the numbers individually?” She closed about four windows and straightened.

“I just wanted to perform well.” Ruby's head was pounding. She didn't like the way Mrs. Oyena made it all sound simple when she'd been slaving for hours.

“Yes, you want to perform well. But are you trying to prove to the board that you can memorize numbers or that you can analyze data? Those are two very different things. What the board wants to hear is how well, or not well the numbers are doing. What is the growth rate compared to before, which areas are performing well? You don't need to go there and start spouting numbers without analysis. That is not how it is done. So far as you have created the presentation, with all the numbers and statistics showed, the board members will understand. It is not the first time that they are doing this.”

Ruby felt properly chastened. She slouched on her seat, tired and despondent.

Mrs. Oyena's expression softened in understanding. “It is okay. It's your first time and you're nervous. But you don't need to treat it as though it is a maths exam. That's not what we're doing here. First of all, email me all the documents let me look through them again, and show you the one to use. Then you go out and get something to eat.” She looked up at the clock hanging on the wall in the office. “The lunch break is almost up, but don't worry. Eat your food well and relax your mind before you come back.”

Ruby sat upright and reached for the mouse. “Thank you ma.”

***
The warmth from the sun was a welcome change from the cold air that dominated inside the company. Ruby wanted so badly to stretch her body as far as she could, the way she did in the privacy of her home, but she forced herself to remember where she was. She crossed the less busy road to the other side and entered the restaurant. It was almost empty, with about two patrons seated at one end of the restaurant. Ruby found her way to her usual position, a spot near the wall, facing the large screen TV that hung on the wall. She enjoyed eating and watching the soundless motions that came from the screen. Like always, it was a music video that was playing.

The waitress came to her table asking her what she wanted to take. On impulse, Ruby said, “Poundo and vegetable soup.”

She almost wanted to take it back but seeing that the waitress was already heading back to the counter which led to the kitchen, she kept her cool. She looked scrupulously around the restaurant releasing a sigh of relief when she saw the two patrons, both female, one eating fried rice and the other also taking swallow.

No shame in my game, she thought to herself and readied herself for the meal. It was exactly what she needed after the morning of tedious work.

It didn't take long for the meal to be ready. A tray containing a steaming plate of soup and two medium-sized balls of wrapped poundo was placed in her front. A sniff of the soup and she swallowed. “Get me a bottle of sprite,” she said to the waitress.

“Sorry auntie, we don't have sprite. Should I bring Coke or Fanta?”

“Bring Fanta.” Ruby shrugged. She'd washed her hands and was preparing to dig into the meal.

Just why didn't I taste this food since I came here, eh? Her stomach was heavy but she felt like herself again. She picked her teeth with a toothpick and stretched out, stifling a belch. The content of the plates in front of her had been reduced to bones. she'd even wiped the soup plate clean with her fingers. But she didn't feel a bit embarrassed. This was good food, extremely good food. For the first time, she thought of Gideon in a good light.

The other day, when she'd come to buy the delicacy to take home, it was all sold out in the company. So after that day, she had not given it a second thought. However, after tasting it, she was certain that she wouldn't be going back to the rice or spaghetti that she often had.

With a satisfied belly and renewed spirit, she marched out of the restaurant and headed back to the company. Most of her anxiety had disappeared and whatever fears she had about the presentation, she now had under her control.

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 4:56am On Mar 22
Thanks for the update ma’am

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Missmossy(f): 2:30pm On Mar 23
Such an interesting piece, eager to know what the future holds in stock for Ruby cheesy welldone OP...

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:12am On Mar 24
Missmossy:
Such an interesting piece, eager to know what the future holds in stock for Ruby cheesy welldone OP...
Thank you smiley
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:14am On Mar 24
EPISODE TEN

“I heard you did pretty well at the meeting.” Gideon sat down opposite her.

She said nothing, still shoveling spoonful after spoonful of rice into her mouth. Her heart was still beating rapidly even though it was almost an hour since the meeting ended. She couldn't remember most of what she said during the meeting. All she remembered was the bite of the shoes she'd worn on her toes, the excess wetness under her arms, and what seemed like the roar of a storm in her head. The hour-long report had gone on like it was another person in her body that made the presentation. But as soon as she had completed the presentation, she came back to the present and met the approving look of the General Manager. The pinch of her shoes and the uncomfortable feeling in her armpits were forgotten.

“So, how do you feel about it now? I heard you were pretty nervous before it? Mrs. Oyena joked that you were cramming the whole numbers.” He laughed out loudly.

Ruby eyed him, but she was glad Mrs. Oyena had left the jokes until she was done with the presentation. “It was okay.” She treated him with cordiality since she was in a good mood.

The waitress brought a serving of eba and egusi. Ruby looked at it, admiring the rich red and yellow of the soup, contrasted with strips of green. “Making a presentation is not so difficult. It's mostly reporting what most of them already know. The problem is how you make the presentation, whether you-”

“Yes, I know.” She paused in the motion of picking up the chicken drumstick on her now empty plate. “At least I know what to do if I'm told to do it another time.”

“You'll be doing it pretty often after this.” He put a morsel of garri dipped into the soup into his mouth.

They sat in silence while Ruby polished off her chicken and finished drinking her bottle of sprite.

“You don't need to run away every time you see me,” he swallowed quickly and said when she made to stand up.

Ruby settled back on the chair and frowned at him. “Why do you think I run away from you?”

“Is it not obvious?” He shot back.

“I'm not running away from anybody,” she mumbled and tried to stand up again.

He reached over the table and held her hand with his unsoiled one. “Well, just wait for me to finish so we can go back to the company together. Moreover, there's something I want to talk to you about.”

Ruby raised her brows and contemplated, looking from his hand on hers to the contents of his plate. He was now halfway through his food.
“Alright.” She leaned back on the chair. But when she did, she reached for her phone and started scrolling through Instagram. She smiled briefly when she saw a post from Fred, posted two hours ago, and proceeded to like and comment.

Gideon finished his food, not minding the way she was ignoring him, going through her phone as though he wasn't there. When he finished and washed his hand, he reached for a toothpick.

Ruby looked up from her phone. “You're done?” She immediately stood up.

“Ah, let the food digest small na. Why are you rushing back? We still have like thirty minutes.”

“It will digest on the way back,” she argued but sat down. “What did you want to talk about?” She looked at him cautiously.

He shook his head at the briskness of her tone. “Are you really still angry with me? About what happened how many years ago? I thought you'd have gotten over it by now.”

“Is that what you want to talk about?” She was beginning to regret her decision to stay back.

“Obviously. We are working in the same company and as co-workers, we should treat ourselves civilly. Moreover, we might have to work together sometime in the future.”

“What?” She looked at him as if he had suddenly grown horns. “We belong to two very different, mutually exclusive departments— accounting and social media. You can jump from sales marketer to social media strategist. I can’t. And honestly, I don’t see myself working with you in the near future.”

"Oh," he nodded thoughtfully. “I understand. But don’t you think it’s high time we settled our problem?”

Her forehead creased. “I don’t have any problem with you. Really. You’re the one that thinks there is a problem.” Guilty conscience, she added in her head.

He stood up. “Why don’t I feel the same way? Just admit it.” He waited for her to join him.

She kept up the pretense. “I still don't get what you are saying.”

He sighed and then turned to face her, using as much earnestness as he could muster to say, “I want to apologize, wholeheartedly and sincerely for what I said that day. I can understand why you still bear a grudge with me, but it's gone too long and I would like to believe that even you feel that it's gone on too long to remain reasonable.”

“I don't need you to tell me what is reasonable and what's not. And for God's sake, I am not angry with you. I stopped being so a long time ago. Why would I waste my energy on that? I just don't feel the need to associate with you any more than required. If you can say that about a woman who just started working in your company, then it's worse to think of what else you can say about just any woman.” She walked ahead of him, but her voice was audible and clear.

“Pretty direct, huh?” He hurried to catch up with her. She'd stopped to let a car drive by. “At that time, I just went through a really bad breakup. I found out that she was sleeping with some other men for money.”

“That doesn't mean that every girl is like that.” She walked briskly. “And by the way, that excuse is pretty lame and stale. Do you know how many other girls have gone through bad breakups, worse than yours? If we all go around treating people one way because of what somebody else did to us, then who knows the kind of toxic world we would be living in.”

His expression turned somber. “I understand what you mean.” She stopped just at the entrance of the company and gave him her full attention. “I realize the wrong in what I did and I assure you, I don't think that way towards everybody. The hurt was fresh at that time and seeing you dressed like that? She also had a gown like yours.”

She couldn't stop herself from laughing bitterly. “Because of my gown kwa?”
She sighed. “Look, I don't hate you or anything. We've been in the same company for years so I know the type of person you are. Maybe not entirely as rude as I'd originally thought. But what you said came at a time when I was really struggling to fit into the company. And I had to walk around for days imagining everyone in the company saw me as this girl going around looking for a man to prey on. I can't promise you anything. I will treat you cordially, that is fair. But don't wish for me to become friends with you anytime soon.”

His smile was forced. “That's fair. But I will take that over you looking annoyed with me anytime I am around you.”

“So,” she pointed at the sliding door of the company. “Can I go in now?”

“Oh, of course, of course.” His smile this time was genuine.

“Okay.” She waved as she entered the company. “See you later.”

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 3:24pm On Mar 24
Loving the chemistry

Thanks for the update

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 4:10am On Mar 26
EPISODE ELEVEN

“So what do you plan to do about it now?” Ruby's heart beat rapidly.

Her relationship with Fred had grown to the stage that he was willing to tell her about all that was going on in his life. It still seemed unbelievable to her that she had met someone like him through the internet and despite their numerous voice calls, they had not met each other in real life.

“I don't know.” His voice was faint at the end. Some rustling at the other side of the phone. “I told him that if he didn't trust anybody here to handle the project for him, he should come down himself and oversee it. I can't work with someone that cannot trust me.”

The person in question was Fred's cousin who stayed in Holland. He wanted to build a house in the village but couldn't trust anyone to handle the project. One couldn't blame him. He had been duped by his elder brother for the same cause. He had sent money to him for the purchase of land and the materials to start the foundation. It had taken more than a year of false promises and avoidances before he understood what was going on. It turned out that his brother had 'borrowed' the money in hopes to return it when his business gained enough profit. Now, Fred was one of the few people he was willing to talk to about the construction of the house.

“If he doesn't trust anyone, he can come back time to time to know how it is progressing. Or isn't there someone else he can trust? Like a friend or something? I mean, this type of thing, this will not be the last time he would need something like this.”

Fred groaned tiredly. “Forget him. He would come to his senses soon. Enough about that. How was your presentation? I can hear the excitement in your voice, so I can guess that it went pretty well.”

Ruby smiled goofily. “Yes. It went really well.”

She proceeded to tell him how the presentation had gone, the nervousness that had prevented her from really enjoying the process. He responded in like manner, encouraging her with short words yet not interrupting.

They spoke for about an hour, with Ruby rolling from one side of the bed to the other, hugging her teddy bear to her chest, the goofy smile still on her face. He was about to end the call when she called his name tentatively. “Fred.”

“Yes, hun.” As always, his voice when he called the pet-name was soft.

“So I was wondering,” she continued cautiously. “We've known each other for a while now. Don't you think it's time we meet each other? Like face-to-face. Hmm, I mean, we're both in Lagos and…” she trailed off when she could only hear silence from the other side of the phone. “Hello, Fred. Are you-”

“Yes, yes. I'm here.” He gave a sound that seemed like a forced laugh.

“You don't want to meet up?” Her disappointment was carried over the static waves of their phone connection.

“No, no, no. That's not what I mean. It's just that I've been really enjoying the conversation and everything with you. I don't know how it will turn out if we meet up. Will it change the way things are between us?”

Definitely, Ruby thought. She had tried a number of times to initiate an intimate topic with him. But it had always ended up with him smoothly changing the topic. The words that came out of her mouth were different though.

“Of course not. We will still remain the way we are. Truthfully, I've not had this type of connection with anyone before.” It was a small lie.

“Me too,” he replied enthusiastically. “I really value this. I fear that if we meet, it will turn into one of these toxic relationships on the internet.”

She laughed uneasily. “So you don't want to meet up or what? We cannot just be dating on social media. Wait first, what are we exactly? Are we dating or what?” Her relationship with Boye had taught her to always clarify things right at the onset to prevent getting hurt in the end.

“Well…” he trailed off.

They remained silent for a while, each buried in their thoughts.

“Why don't we clarify that when we meet? It's the better option I guess.” Ruby was the first to break the silence.

“Oh.”

The reply annoyed her. “Oh? Oh, what?”

“I just meant that it is a good idea. When do you want to meet up then?”

Ruby exhaled a breath she didn't know she had been holding. Her voice was light when she said, “This weekend is great, don't you think? We can meet on Friday and see how things would go from there.” She hoped he understood the undertones of her words.

“Friday...Friday, hmm.” He sounded as though he was looking through something. “Yea. Friday is good for me. Where and what time? Evening, right?”

“Evening.” She nodded. “I'm not sure about the venue yet. I will check out some places."

“Somewhere in Ikeja would be good for both of us. You stay in Maryland, right? Don't worry. I know some good places there. I will check out the places and send them to you. You can make your choice.”

“Wow.” She smiled sheepishly. “Alright, that’s okay.”

She started thinking of which cloth she would wear to the date. She had to dress to suit the place they were going to.

“By the way, do you have any preferences or any particular type of restaurant in mind? Like a foreign one or what?”

“No, I don’t have any. You can pick the venue yourself. I don’t really mind.”

“I would send some places to you. You just make your decision based on which would be more convenient for you, we can make the reservation before Friday.”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” She squealed when the call ended. She stood up on the bed and jumped around crazily, ignoring the little snick of pain on her ankle.

Her search had not been in vain. She was on her way to a serious, real relationship with a man who appreciated more than her skills in bed. It was still three days to Friday but she went to her wardrobe and started searching through it. After some minutes of taking out clothes and bringing them to her length in front of the mirror, she decided she would go shopping the next day. The contents of her wardrobe didn't include a dress that was suitable for a date, what more a first date that may land her a much-needed boyfriend.

“And while at that-” she eyed herself in the mirror, from her hair already worn out and untidy to the light protruding on her mid-region and then her rough toenails with tiny bits of nail polish she’d forgotten to clean up. “I'll include a trip to the hair salon and resume my sit-ups.”

Her rough physical experience didn't tame the excitement in her. She swirled to the bed and picked up her phone. Opening her chats with Fred she typed.

Goodnight sweetie(A kiss emoji). I look forward to seeing you.

As do I. Sleep tight babe. I certainly expect a visit from my angel to my dreams. The reply made her heart melt.

Ruby slept with a grin on her face and dreamt of the handsome fellow that took her to various foreign and exotic restaurants to taste dishes from all parts of the world. When she woke up the next morning, she was certain that they'd both had the same dream.
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 8:57am On Mar 26
Thanks for the update ma’am

I’m really doubting this meeting

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by PrudySara(f): 11:24am On Mar 26
This date sha, might change things o

I don't trust this Fred guy!


Thanks for the update!

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 3:34am On Mar 29
EPISODE TWELVE

Ruby opened the door to the smell of burnt food.

“Jesus,” she screamed and rushed to the kitchen, flinging her bag on one of the chairs in the living room. She was coughing by the time she entered the smoke-filled kitchen. On the gas cooker was one of the small pots they used to heat food.

She reached for the towel hanging on the rails of the window and dragged the pot from the cooker. She almost screamed when she felt a slight sting on the flesh of her finger and flung the pot in the sink, immediately turning on the water. The post hissed as water met its hot, charred, and dried contents. She turned the gas cooker off and proceeded to open the door and windows of the kitchen. It would take a long time for the smoke to dissipate.

“Rose,” Ruby called out. She walked out of the kitchen.

It was very unlike Rose to leave her food unattended in the kitchen. Her chicken and plantains were always fried to the perfect brown, not a shade deeper or lighter. She knew when the water would be completely dried up when boiling rice, how often to stir the stew so it wouldn't burn. But this was merely reheating a meal. Why did she leave it unattended for longer than required?

Rose's door was firmly shut, but when she turned the handle, it opened with a small click.

“Rose,” Ruby fumbled for the switch and soon the room was cast in a fluorescent glow. On the bed, Rose lay curled up in a fetal shape. She was shaking... no, Ruby rushed to the bed. She was crying.

“Babe?” Ruby joined her on the bed and moved to encircle her in a hug. “What is wrong?”

This was one of the few times she had seen Rose break down in an unbridled way. Most of the previous times were when they were watching an emotional movie. She rubbed her back and continued asking. As though she had been waiting for someone to join her, Rose's sobs only became more powerful, her body vibrating in a feverish frenzy.

“Oh my God! Who did this to you?” Ruby was worried that her comfort tactics were not working. She didn't know what to do and could only keep on saying, “Babe, stop crying. I'm here.”

“He deceived me, lied to me, cheated on me.” Minutes had passed and Rose's cries had finally reduced to hiccups. The tears were still flowing down her eyes like a waterfall.

“What? Blossom? How come? I thought you guys were doing pretty fine.” Ruby squeezed her friend's shoulders. She couldn't imagine the sort of pain she must be going through.

“We wanted to get married. He was about to propose.”
 
Ruby's eyes widened. Things had gotten that far with them? “Then what happened?”

Rose didn't answer immediately. She pulled herself away from Ruby and struggled to compose herself, wiping her eyes and reaching for tissue that was on the bed. There was a bunch of used, crumpled ones on and around the bed.

She sniffed as she explained. “He mentioned being ready to get married during Valentine, but I didn't want to think about it so I wouldn't get my hopes high for nothing. I wanted it badly though. I've not met anyone like him. I love him, I really do. So, he had been trying to get permission from his parents before he proposes. They were adamant against it because we are not from the same tribe. You know he is Igbo and me, I'm from Edo. It became worse when he told them my parents were Muslims. Yes, my parents are Muslims but I am a Christian. I've been one since I was 14. It didn't deter them. Blossom kept on trying to convince them. I played my own part the best I could. Twice we went to visit them, and I almost broke my back trying to please the woman. The soup I cooked, she just criticized it to no end. The comments were bad, but if he was willing to keep on trying, I could endure, right?”

“Only that it wasn't only refusing our marriage. They had this girl that they wanted him to marry. She went to school abroad, has her own small consulting agency. She is not like those village girls in Nollywood films. She is beautiful and she has this British accent. Blossom told me he didn't want anything to do with her. In front of me, he blocked and deleted her number, quarreled with his mother when she tried to enforce it on him.”

She forced a laugh. “Just imagine. I thought it would end there. We continued our relationship. In fact, I could sense that he would soon propose to me. He often joked that we would get a court marriage and he would get me pregnant immediately. 'It would shut them up'.” It was repeated in a sneer.

“So imagine how I felt when the day before yesterday, I get these pictures from an unknown number—chats scheduling dates, conversations about that Edo girl, ‘mummy said this, daddy wants you to do this.’ That wasn't the worst though, it was the nudes and the pictures with his parents, in the church after service, and at their family home. I thought I would run mad. I really thought I would. She warned me to stay away, that I was an intruder, a side-chick. Imagine, me Rose from girlfriend, almost fiancee to a side chick. The secret he was now trying to keep from his parents and all the while, he still kept up the pretense of wanting to marry me.”

“My God!” Ruby was speechless. The past few days she had been so caught up with work at the office that she hadn't paid much attention to her friend. “What did he say when you confronted him?”

Rose shook her head. “I couldn't. I didn't want to look at him, look at that face that had whispered lovely words to me, that had promised me heaven and earth, promised never to betray me, and see what? That it was all a lie? That he hadn't deemed it fit to tell me that he couldn't go against his parents and he was already falling for the other girl. That he kept on stringing me, feeding me false hope and promises, while he went on to build a life with another woman? No, I couldn't.”

Ruby pulled her into another hug. It lasted a while before she released her. “Then what did you do?” She wanted to add ‘Don't tell me that you just decided to shove everything under the carpet and pretend all is okay?’

Rose smiled impishly. Ruby appreciated the bright look, though it was brief. “I may have gotten my heart broken but I still have my head is still functioning well.”

Rose searched underneath the rumpled sheets and came up with her phone. She unlocked it and after some seconds, handed the phone to Ruby.

“Jesus!” Ruby couldn't hold back her scream. It was a series of credit alerts. Four different transactions, five hundred thousand naira each, culminating in a gross of two million naira.

“Heh.” She sounded doleful. “I didn't like doing it to him, but there had to be some way he would pay for it. I couldn't do anything much. When I slept at his place yesterday, I completed the transactions as he slept. I've always known his password to both his ATM card and his bank app.”

“Wow!” Ruby still found it hard to believe. She scrolled up to the previous bank messages. Most of them were debit alerts. The highest credit alert was no more than four hundred thousand naira, Rose's salary. The newest addition to the bank account had made the total balance jump from a seven-figure amount to an eight-figure amount.

“What did he say?” Ruby was genuinely curious. She wondered how Blossom wasn't in front of their house trying to pull the door down and demanding his money back.

“What should he say? I left by the time he woke up and sent him all the messages his new girlfriend, now fiancee, I suppose sent to me, the threats and I contrasted it with some of the messages he had sent before. When he called, I broke down on the phone. I still can't remember clearly what happened. I know I cried a lot, I cursed him, I begged him to come back to me, but at the end of the call, I genuinely felt tired, mentally and emotionally drained. After holding it in for two days, I finally cried it out. I confronted him. When I ended the call, I told him not to ask or call me back requesting the money or even to apologize. I told him never to appear in front of me, ever again. I had taken the money on impulse, as there was no other way I could make him feel the pain I felt. I doubt if it will hurt him much. Money can always be gained back. But at least, let me have that small feeling of revenge.” She shrugged, gloom and despair written all over her face.

“So it's over with him?” Ruby asked softly. 

“What do you think? It over, totally over.” She tried to make her voice sound light, but it cracked at the end. Soon, she was down in tears again.

Armed with knowledge now, Ruby remained by her side, silently offering her comfort, rubbing her back until tired of crying, Rose fell asleep.

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 9:08pm On Mar 29
Thanks for the update ma’am
Keeps getting interesting

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