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Ruby's Search For Romance - Literature (2) - Nairaland

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:18am On Mar 30, 2021
Ann2012:
Thanks for the update ma’am
Keeps getting interesting
Definitely.
I'm glad you're enjoying it.

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:19am On Mar 30, 2021
EPISODE THIRTEEN

“Babe, how are you feeling?” Ruby came out of her room to meet Rose in the living room, spooning ice-cream into her mouth and watching a movie.

“Wow, you look so good.” Rose sat up and kept the bowl of ice-cream on the table in front of her. “I'm okay. Give me three days and I assure you, I will totally forget everything about the name Blossom.”

“You say it like it's easy.” Ruby walked towards her and picked up the bowl of ice-cream. She took some.

“Forgetting him is not easy, thinking about it all the time is also not easy. Let me choose the better of two evils. Going through a breakup is not something you can use motivational sayings to brush over.”

Ruby smiled guiltily, thinking of all the inspirational messages and sayings she'd been sending to Rose since the previous night.

Rose continued, “I just want to get the whole thing done and over with. Now, I can cry how I want and curse him all I want, but when it's done, I move on with my life.”

Ruby looked at her friend in admiration. “So straightforward.”

“People like to make things complicated for themselves.” She gestured for the ice-cream bowl. Ruby returned it to her. “So where are you going? This one you even bought a new gown, any new boo I don't know about?”

Ruby sat on the handle of the couch. She reached for the remote control of the TV and reduced the volume. “It's the guy I met through social media. We're finally meeting in real life.”

“That was fast. Are you sure he is not something else? With the rate of online scams, you have to be very careful.”

“We are meeting in a very public place, near Ikeja City Mall. I checked out the place, it's a restaurant.”

“Even though it is safe, you don't know what might be waiting for you. Send me the address of the place in case of necessity.”

“Hah?” Ruby eyed Rose. “Is that necessary? I'm sure it's very safe. I've been on-”

“I said 'in case of necessity' o. The way things are now, you can never be too sure or too safe. Just send me the address. I'm not going to ruin your date. At least if something happens, we know where to start from.”

“Jesus! Why are you taking it so seriously like that? God forbid something happens to me.” But as she was saying it, she brought out her phone to send the address to her.

“You still have me on your quick dial, right? If you start getting any vibes, just know when to remove your shoes and run.” Rose continued.

“Yes, mummy,” Ruby's reply was sarcastic. “Did anything happen? Abi it's because of your breakup?”

Rose gave her a sharp look. She licked her spoon and tossed it into a now-empty bowl. “One of the security men at work had to take leave yesterday to go and look for his younger sister, a university student. They said she has been missing for five days now. We were talking about it during break and you'd be surprised at the things my coworkers were saying. My dear, it is better to be safe than sorry. I'm just taking cautions. But you have to be careful.”

“Hmm,” Ruby had always seen a lot of messages concerning missing people, though she'd always assumed that it was one of those broadcast messages that were designed to put fear into people’s mind. “I'll be careful.”

Rose picked up her phone and looked at the message Ruby sent. “Are you coming back this night?”

“Definitely. With this thing that you told me, I don't think I can afford to spend the night elsewhere.” Ruby's phone buzzed. “My Uber is here.”

“Okay. Enjoy yourself then,” Rose wiggled her fingers in a wave.

Ruby stood up and adjusted her clothes. “You too. Make sure you don't stay up too late or cry too much.”

“I can't promise any of that.” She smiled playfully. “See you.”

Ruby shook her head and went out of the house. An ash car was waiting in front of the gate. She confirmed the driver's name and got into it. Hopefully, the traffic wouldn't be too heavy, she thought as she sent a message to Fred informing him that she was on her way. He lived in Ikeja, so it wouldn't be difficult for him to get to their rendezvous.

***
It was probably one of the best restaurants she'd been to. Soft strains of jazz wafted through the restaurant, with muted lights that added a sense of romanticism to the place. Round tables were designed to seat two people, with love-shaped candle stands in the middle of the table. The tables that were occupied had the candles lit up with a reddish hue. The sound of cutleries was muted, each couple caught up in their world. It was a Friday night and very few tables were empty. Ruby was certain that it would soon be filled up. The waitress that had met her at the reception desk now led her to a table in the far corner of the restaurant. She only had to call Fred's name as he had made the reservation in his name.

She was the first to arrive. Her heart was weighed down in slight disappointment as she was directed to the table. She sat down and when the waitress asked if she would like anything, she looked at the menu and ordered one of the cheapest wines she saw. Though by her definition, it was not cheap at all.

The wine arrived quickly and soon, she was taking small sips from the glass. The table Fred picked was close to the window, overlooking some of the city sights. From where she sat, she could see the roads, lighted up by cars and road lamps, colored lights where bars were. It was beautiful.

She sat sipping from her glass and looking, both out of the window and at the entrance. Time and again, she would look at her phone to check for the time.

Fifteen minutes passed.

Thirty minutes.

Thirty-five minutes.

Ruby's neck had a crick in it from every time she had to look back to know if the person arriving was him. At some point, she switched positions, backing the window so she would have her eyes on the entrance at all times. She'd sent him multiple messages and tried calling him. There was no reply and her call wasn't picked. Three times, a waitress had come to ask her if she was ready to order. She was almost halfway through the bottle of wine, as her little sips were turning into gulps. She was also beginning to feel slightly dizzy.

Forty-five minutes.

The waitress was there again. She ordered a simple plate of fried rice. Her stomach couldn't handle the hunger and she was beginning to feel faint.

Fifty-five minutes.

She finished the first serving of rice and tried calling again. The phone this time was switched off. She gestured to the waitress, ordered another serving of fried rice, this time with salad and a side of peppered beef.

One hour.

Still no sign of her online lover. His phone was still switched off.

One hour, fifteen minutes.

She forced herself to finish the meal she had ordered.

One hour, twenty-five minutes.

She was done eating. The waitress was standing beside her with a POS. She searched for her ATM in her purse and handed it over.

The waitress swiped the card with efficiency. A ding from her phone let her know that money had been deducted. She didn't check. Only picked up her purse, along with the unfinished bottle of wine, which the waitress had been kind enough to package for her, and went out of the restaurant.

She waited ten long minutes before her Uber arrived. Ten minutes during which she kept peering into the face of every man that walked into or from the restaurant. Her Uber arrived. She got into it and it drove away.

She didn't know what to feel.

3 Likes

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 6:21am On Mar 30, 2021
Too bad sad I feel Ruby and Rose’s pain

Thanks for the update

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by PrudySara(f): 2:14pm On Mar 31, 2021
I understand Ruby... in this kind of situation you don't even know what to feel again.
I feel sorry for her and Rose.
Thanks for the update!

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by xaviercasmir(m): 11:16pm On Mar 31, 2021
Thanks for the update

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:51am On Apr 01, 2021
EPISODE FOURTEEN

“Are you okay?” Ama stood by her desk.

Ruby shook her head and rubbed at her temples. “I'm just not feeling good. I feel a little sick.”
 
Ama's frown deepened. She raised her palm to Ruby's forehead. “Your temperature is normal. Are you nursing a headache?”

“Yes. I'm also feeling a little nauseous. I don't know what is wrong.” Ruby felt tempted to place her head on the table and fall asleep.

“Did you get enough sleep yesterday night? Your eyes look swollen.”

Ruby didn't answer. She knew perfectly well what was wrong with her. When she returned to the apartment last night, she found Rose sleeping in front of the couch. After switching off the television and the generator, she had retired to her room, finished the bottle of wine, and cried herself to sleep. She was woken up two hours later, after midnight, by the sound of her phone ringing. It was Fred.
 
“Don't pick,” she said to herself. But her traitorous hand reached for the phone and clicked on the green button. 

“Hello,” her voice was gruff.

“Hey babe, I'm so so sorry. I didn't expect-”

“What happened?” She asked, knowing he was about to present a plethora of excuses—his car broke down, an urgent meeting cropped up, he misplaced his phone or better still, his phone got stolen. It had to be one of them.

“My mother just arrived in Lagos,” he said.

Oh, add visiting relatives to the list, she noted. “And then...?”

“I couldn't pick your call in front of her. I don't like her getting to know much about my life because once she hears something about a girl I'm seeing, she would hunt it down. I just got her settled in now. The traffic from the airport to my place was quite congested.”

“And it didn't come to your mind to send me a message? Just a simple, ‘I wouldn't be able to make it. Talk to you later’ shouldn't waste your time. Or your mother can also monitor what you do with your phone?”

“Babe, I'm sincerely sorry. I didn't want it to turn out this way.”

“Hmm.” She yawned. “Is that all? I want to go back to sleep.”

His voice took a concerned note. “Did I disturb your sleep?”

“It's almost 1 am. Who is awake by this time?” She couldn't stop irritation from lacing into the words.

“Oh, I'm so sorry. Let me leave you to sleep. I'll call you in the morning.”
 
“Hmm, okay.” Without waiting, she ended the call and threw the phone on the other side of the bed. “Stupid man.” She laid down to sleep, but unfortunately, she couldn't go back to sleep again. After trying unsuccessfully to go back to sleep, she finally reached for her phone, switched on her internet, and started looking through social media and watching YouTube videos.

In the blink of an eye, it was morning. She heard Rose moving around in the living room. It was Saturday. She didn't like to work on Saturdays even though she started work later than she usually did on other workdays. 

And so she had laid in bed until 9.30 am, drifting between deep sleep and light sleep.
It wasn't surprising why she felt a lack of strength. 

“You can go home early. You know Saturdays are not as intense as other days. Moreover, even if you go home, they won't deduct much from your salary. You know, right?” Ama continued, understanding the look on her face.

“What about all this work waiting for me? I don't want to shift it to Monday.” She gestured at the pile of files in front of her. She often used Saturdays to organize all the work she had completed during the week.

Ama pursed her red-painted lips. “Or you can take them home?”
 
“Ah, noo.” Ruby shook her head, her headache immediately forgotten. “That one is extra stress.”
She straightened up and reached for the bottle of water on her desk. “I can still finish it. As soon as I finish, I will go home. it won't take much time.” I hope so. She completed in her head. She drank the water in huge gulps.

“Okay o. if you say so. If you have any problem, don't forget that I'm in the opposite office. I have some paracetamol tablets. It should help.”

Ruby was already looking through the files. “I'd really appreciate it. Thank you.” 

Ama went out of the office and returned minutes later with a packet of medicine. “It's remaining four tablets. You can have it all.”
 
“Thank you so much.” Ruby collected the medicine and didn't waste any time in popping two of the white tablets into her mouth, washing it down with water.

“I'll see you later then.” Ama left the office.

Ruby sighed and looked around the office. The accounting department was empty. She was one of the few employees that agreed to a six-day workweek in the company in her employemt contract. Though she had to admit, she had been regretting the decision for the past few months. It wasn't as though the difference amounted to much, but when she signed the contract, still fresh in the labor market, she wanted every single penny she could get. Thinking about it now, she would love to have a complete weekend.
 
Her attention was buried deeply in work when her phone jarred her senses. She blinked slowly, her eyes watering. She'd been focusing too hard on the computer screen. Sniffing, she reached for the phone and picked the call without looking at the caller. She placed it on speakerphone.
 
“Hello.” She typed out some numbers.

“Hey, babe. Are you okay? I called you two times this morning but you didn't pick my call. Are you still angry with me?” Fred's voice filled the office.

She sighed in exasperation. “I was still sleeping when you called.”

“Okay. Are you in your office now? I was thinking we could have the date this evening. I'll come and pick you up.”

Her hands stilled on the keyboard. She cleared her throat, then cautioning herself against being too excited, she said, “I'm not sure. I'm not feeling so well.”

“What's wrong with you? Then we can go see a doctor together.”

She rolled her eyes and resumed typing. “Let's wait till after work.” That's if your father doesn't decide to drop down from the skies of Lagos.

“I'll see you later then. I can't wait to see you.”
 
“Okay,” she said unenthusiastically.
 
Seeing that he wouldn't be getting anything more from her, he ended the call.

Ruby snorted to herself and burst out in laughter. It couldn't be what she was thinking, could it? She bit her lips to control her laughter, reminding herself that there were other people in the company. Let's see, then. She thought and resumed her work.

2 Likes

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Odoogu(m): 11:43am On Apr 01, 2021
Fred isn't too far from Gabriel. cheesycheesy

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 7:09pm On Apr 01, 2021
Thanks for the update ma’am

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:07am On Apr 06, 2021
EPISODE FIFTEEN

Ruby didn't feel an ounce of guilt as she clutched her now switched-off phone and peeked out of the window. Directly in front of the company was a young man standing beside a red car. He kept on pressing his phone and raising it to his ears. She made a face to herself and laughed. Who told you to stand me up?

It was over thirty minutes since the car pulled up in front of the company and thirty minutes since she switched off her phone. She wanted to see how long he would wait. She had to admit that she was impressed. In the past thirty minutes, he had paced up and down the length of the company's gate. He got into his car two times, and when Ruby thought he had run out of patience and wanted to drive away, he came down and continue waiting.

Her feet were already aching from standing in one position for long. “Let me just pity him.”
She straightened up, stretching her body with a loud yawn. What more, she was doing herself a disservice. She was only punishing herself by hiding in the company since work was over. As if agreeing with her, her stomach growled.

“Okay. Okay.” She picked up her bag that she had placed on the table. She looked out to be sure that he was still there. He still was. This time, he was leaning on his car with folded arms. He seemed ready to wait as long as possible.

“Men,” she shook her head and walked out of the office, switching off the lights as she went out. The security man sitting behind the entrance of the company sighed with relief when he saw her.

“E be like say you get plenty work today. One man don dey wait for you since.” He stood up to open the door for her.

“Really? You should have informed me.” She hoped her words sounded believable.

“I come your office, you no dey inside.” He came out after her.

She had been in the opposite office, looking out of the window. She wondered if the security man knew that. “Okay, make I dey go now. See you on Monday.” She waved at him and walked unhurriedly out of the company.

“Ruby?” The man straightened when she walked out of the company.

She stopped, planning to feign surprise. But when she looked at him, she was shocked. It was a genuine shock. “Fred?”

The man in front of her was indeed Fred. He had the physical make-up and the shape of his head. It was all him. What surprised her was the scar that spanned from his lower left chin down to his neck.

He smiled widely. “Hey, you're finally out.” He rubbed the side of his neck with the scar.

Ruby was unsure what to answer. She contemplated denying the name and walking away. However, she remembered the times they had exchanged pictures; his face always turned to show only the right side. Most of the pictures he'd posted looked very real and natural, but from what she was seeing now, they must have been edited.

“You're really Fred? Not his brother?” she asked looking at the scar. It had been difficult to see his face properly from the netted window on the second floor. If she had noticed it, she probably would have sneaked out through the side gate of the company.

His smile turned uneasy. He reached to open the door of the car. “I'll talk about it on the way. Are you...uhm, do you still want to have the date.”

Ruby raised her eyebrows uncertainly. She looked from Fred to the opened car and then back to the company. The security man was looking at them, probably expecting a drama. She sighed. “Sure. Let's go.” She got into the car.

When he closed the door, she let out a shaky breath. Her mind went back to her conversation with Rose. “Looks are very important…” She bit her lips. When he entered the car, she smiled at him hoping to conceal the internal struggle that was going on in her mind.

“Do you have any place, in particular, you want to go?” He motioned at her seatbelt while he put on his own and started the car.

“Anywhere is okay,” she croaked out. She cleared her voice and repeated her statement.

“I feel like I scared you.” He pulled away from the front of the company and eased into the empty road.

She made a silly noise. “It's evident, huh?”

“I'm sorry. I feel I should have given you some sort of heads up, at least tell you not to expect the handsome fellow on my page.” He had a small, bitter smile on his face.

“Yea, a heads-up would have been better for sure.” She repeated.

“But you wouldn't have wanted to meet me in person if you knew,” he continued.

She frowned. “What makes you think so?”

“Experience.” He took a right turn. She couldn't see the whole of his face clearly but she could tell that he had a wry expression.

“Oh,” She could imagine. She had to admit, he was right in some way. “You can't tell though. Probably, I would have surprised you." She said.

“I'd love to believe so. At least you didn't walk out on me back there or deny being Ruby.”

She sniggered. “Should I assume that's the reason you stood me up yesterday?”

“No, definitely not. I know it sounded like a lie, but my mother really arrived yesterday. This is her first time in Lagos, so I had to pick her up.” He smiled at her, an earnest smile. “I'd prefer to meet you yesterday rather than today. My looks aside, with what happened yesterday, it'll be hard to get into your good books.”

“You bet.” She relaxed on the seat. “I still feel there's something you're not telling me. I called you several times and you didn't pick or send a message. I'm not going to force you, after all, we just met today. But still-”

“My mother came with someone from the village. A girl she wants me to marry.” He cut in, speaking rapidly.

“Oh.” Another mother-in-law wahala. “And why are you here if as it is now, you've gotten a wife, a good one I guess if your mother brought her.”

“Babe,” the appellation floated out of his mouth smoothly. “If I have to depend on my mother to get a wife for me, I'll be miserable for the rest of my life. Besides, I don't like her.”

She humphed. “But I'm sure she can cook, wash clothes, clean the house-”

“I'm not looking for a housemaid,” he said. “If I wanted anything else, I wouldn't tell you about that. But I've lied to you once. I don't want to do it again.”

He brought the car to a stop by the side of a restaurant. Ruby had been paying attention to what he was saying that she lost focus of the route they'd followed.

“So,” he turned to look at her after shutting off the engine, “are you willing to get to know me, beyond this,” he gestured at his face, “and yesterday's drama? Are you willing to allow me to get to know you in the same manner?”

She looked at him, really looked at him. Suddenly, the scars faded. It wasn't the face on his profile pictures that she saw, but she saw the face she'd been visualizing behind those messages, behind the phone calls, without any filter. And slowly, she nodded. “Yes.”

3 Likes

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:09am On Apr 06, 2021
EPISODE SIXTEEN

“You didn't need to be so harsh,” Ruby said in between bouts of laughter as they walked out of the restaurant towards the car.

“I had to be,” Fred's voice was firm. “If not, they will take you for granted. All these waitresses, I wonder why they come with so much pride. They're paying you to provide good service and, you're still giving them attitude on top of their own money.”

“That is how it is.” Ruby smiled at him in thanks as she got into the car. He shut the door slowly and went around the car to the driver's seat.

“I'm glad you had a nice time.” He put in his seatbelt.

She did the same. “I didn't say I had a nice time,” she clucked her tongue.

“Well, your smile says you did. You cannot deny it.” He winked at her and started the car.

“Maybe, because the food was great and I watched a major show-off between oga Fred and one waitress Lucy,” she said impishly.

He burst out in loud laughter and eased into the light traffic. “Stop saying that like it was anything special. I just put her in her place, that's it.”

“I can imagine what she would tell her friends. I'm certain ‘proud’ would be one of the words she would use to describe you, along with the famous words, ‘because he thinks he has money’." She shook her head.

“I do have the money and being proud? Don’t I have the right to be so?” He tsked. “If I wanted to make her cry, it's as easy as reporting to the manager. I assure you, she would be weeping as she is telling the story.”

“Ah! it's not that serious na.” She slapped his shoulders lightly, playfully. “Just let it be. In the end, we still had a wonderful dinner,” she said even though she didn't think much of the salad, with the cabbage cut as though it was prepared for rabbits.

“I'm glad you did.” The car slowed down as they joined heavier traffic. “Does that mean I am a step closer to entering your good books?” He leaned towards her.

She smiled vaguely. “I don't know. What do you think?”

“I probably still have to work a little harder, hmm?”

“Maybe yes. Maybe no.” She flashed her teeth. Her expression turned a little solemn. “How did you get it?” She looked at the scars. She could tell that he had gotten it a long time ago. It was almost one with his skin, growing with him.

“Eight years old and reckless.” He smiled. "My mother had just given birth birth to our last born. One night while she was preparing to bathe him, I ran into her while she was carrying the basin of hot water. I hurt my face. For my mother, it was her legs. Nothing they did could reduce the impact of the scars. I had to live with it."

“Does it still hurt?” she asked, then regretted the question. That was more than twenty years ago. Of course, it didn't hurt.

However, he seemed to take her question to mean something else. “Well, it used to. Not physically, mentally, and emotionally. Most of the girls I met before, especially when I was still struggling, always gave me this look. I could always imagine what was in their heads — ‘You no fine, you no even get money’ especially during my early twenties.”

“So how did you get over it? You seem better now. I mean, you now have money,” she gestured at the interior of the car. “I'm sure a lot of girls now pay more attention to you.”

“Most of it is usually shallow. They are merely interested in me because of my money.”

“How can you tell?” She briefly wondered if he also saw her in the same light. “So all the girls that you met after you became..., made money, just wanted your money?” She raised her brows.

“Not all, but most. How can you explain someone always asking for money but doesn't want to be seen in public with you? Or someone that introduces you as a friend when you go for the birthday party that you sponsored?” He sighed. “I did have a real connection with a girl. She didn't need my money as she had a lot of it herself. But it was hard to keep it as I felt inferior next to her.”

She blinked. “Because she had more money or what?”

“No, no, definitely not. Actually, I appreciated it. It made our relationship seem a little less superficial. I just never felt okay next to her. With other girls, my money made me kind of superior. I didn't feel the need to worry about my looks or anything. But with her, money didn't matter and, she was quite pretty. She couldn't put up with my insecurity and broke up with me.”

“Oh.”

“But it taught me something. I stopped looking for shallow relationships. I started searching for real, lasting connections.”

“How long was this?” She wanted to be sure that she was not just a rebound.

“About a year and a half ago.” He pressed his horn so that a roadside trader would get out of the way. “Where do you live?”

“Don't worry. The traffic would continue for at least thirty minutes. I'll tell you where to take turns when we get off this road.”

“So what was in your mind when you were chatting with me online? I'm quite curious.” She tapped her fingers against her chin and looked at him, her eyes glittering with curiosity.

“I do have many girls that chat me up. At first, I assumed you just used that particular topic to slide into my DM, feigning interest. It's pretty easy to notice when they are not really interested as the conversation continues. With you, the conversation only became more interesting as it continued. It was different.”

“And then it turned to something else.” She smiled cheekily. “I don't often go around sliding into men's DMs, by the way. But..., well, let's say, heartbreak does things to you.” She sighed, remembering Boye.

“Want to talk about it?” He tipped his head at her.

“I thought it was impolite to talk about your ex with a potential boyfriend?” She laughed.

“Potential boyfriend? Omo, I've graduated.” He let go of the steering wheel and clapped.

She widened her eyes and shook her head in amusement. “Oga, the keyword is potential o. PO-TEN-TIAL.”

“At least there is boyfriend there, whether it is future or potential, anyone. At least I know my progress now.” He smiled.

“Suit yourself.” She returned his smile and turned to face the road. “You have to turn left at the junction. The traffic won't be so heavy from there.”

***
After about forty minutes of navigating Lagos traffic, Fred pulled his car to a stop in front of her compound. “This place is quiet.” He looked around as he opened the door for her.

“Yes, it's the calmness that made me and Rose remain here despite how far it is from our offices.”

“Rose?” He followed her to the gate.

“My best friend and flatmate.” Ruby opened the gate and then turned to Fred. She wasn't ready to let him into her space yet. “So I had a nice time this night.”

“I'm glad you did.” He played with his car keys. “Tomorrow is Sunday-”

She was already shaking her head. “I have plans with Rose tomorrow. She just got out of a bad breakup. I haven't spent much time with her as a friend.”

“Okay. How about Monday? Something like this again?”

She nodded. “Alright. We'll see on Monday.”

He came closer, obviously to hug her. She smiled uncertainly but returned the hug. “Goodnight, babe,” he said when the hug ended.

“Goodnight.” She waved and entered the house, closing the gate behind her.

4 Likes

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 2:48am On Apr 06, 2021
Thanks for the update ma’am

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 3:21am On Apr 08, 2021
EPISODE SEVENTEEN

Ruby gave the keke driver a two-hundred naira note and waited as he searched his compartment box for a change of fifty naira. In front of the restaurant opposite the company, a young girl was setting out a glass showcase that would soon be filled with buns and donuts. Ruby waved at her.

The restaurant owner had recently added confectioneries to her menu. Ruby had to admit that she especially liked the slightly peppery puff-puff that sold out even before the frying began. But not today, she thought, thinking of the very fulfilling breakfast she had that morning.

The weekend had done both her and Rose well. On Sunday after her date with Fred, she and Rose went out, roaming the shopping mall. Their account balances had decreased significantly from their expenses during the outing. They ended the night in their living room, dancing to loud music. Two times their neighbor had knocked on the door, telling them to reduce the volume. During the night, they drank wine, cursing Blossom.

When she woke up that morning, she was nursing a headache and a hangover. But the smell of food dispelled any feeling of nausea that she had. Following her nose, she went to the kitchen where she met Rose already dressed for work, frying pancakes. Next to the plate of pancakes was a bowl filled with fried plantains. Rose was singing as she prepared the meal.

“Why didn't you wake me up?” She reached for a piece of plantain. A hand slapped her hand midway.

“Go and brush your teeth first.” Rose gave her a dirty look. “I tried to wake you, even slapped your face but, you didn't want to wake up. It's still quite early. Just go and prepare for work. I'm using Uber today. Maybe you can stop by the Catholic church junction. From there, you can take a keke to your office.”

“Did Angel Gabriel visit you in your dream?” Ruby grumbled. She eyed the plantains longingly before she hurried out of the kitchen.

***
The memory of the perfectly shaped and browned plantains had her rubbing her round stomach. While in the car on their way to work, Rose finally professed to be over and done with Blossom. “No whining, no thinking. All in the past now,” she'd announced with finality.

“So, you're going to look for a new boyfriend now?” Ruby asked.

Rose looked at her as though hurt she would ask that question. “No, definitely not. I want to enjoy singlehood until I am tired of it. I cannot come out from a long relationship and jump into another one. Let me breathe first na.”

Ruby was relieved. “I thought you were going to say all men are scum.”

Rose burst out laughing. “I am not that immature, please.”

Ruby shook her head. Indeed, her friend was not so immature to say all men were scum when she was widely awake. But their anthem while they waved wine bottles in the air and shook their body to “Away” by Ayra was “All men are scum, Blossom is their leader.” She laughed out at the memory. While Rose was the type that forgot everything that happened when she was drunk, Ruby recalled everything, even to the smallest detail.

“What's so funny? I can see you're having a great morning.” A voice came up behind her.

She started then looked back to see Gideon right behind her. She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't notice when she stopped walking and stood still, smiling like a statue in front of the entrance. “Jeez.” She shook her head to remove the thoughts and turned to face him.

“Yes, I was having a pleasant morning until someone decided to introduce the clouds into a previously bright day,” She looked up at the sky. It was true. The clouds were gathering, rumbling with the sign of a heavy thunderstorm.

He rolled his eyes. “Well, maybe the sky on your side of Lagos was clear all through. But the weather has been like this since last night.” He came to stand beside her on the last level of the stairs. She rotated in a like manner.

She looked up at the sky again. “Oh, I didn't notice.” She wondered if she had any clothes still hanging on the line outside. Even if she did, Rose must have brought them inside.

“It must be because you woke up happy, care to share the secret? Because I'm having a typical, horrible Monday.”

She moved away slightly in mock horror. “Well, don't come and infect me with your horrible Monday syndrome. My Monday is going well, rain or no rain,” she announced with certainty.

“I better tap into that positivity. The same person that was walking around last Monday with a hardened face is now radiating sunshine? A miracle, a miracle indeed.” He clapped his hands.

Ruby eyed him. “I don't have time to dally around with you.” Someone was walking towards them. It was Kossi, the GM's secretary. Ruby turned to greet her. “Good morning.”

A slight nod in her direction was all she got. Kossi’s attention was on her tablet.

“Did you hear the gossip that is going around in the company?” Gideon's voice sounded so close that she jumped in fright. He had leaned close to her.

“Don't do that again.” She calmed her racing mind. “What gossip?” She tried to remain unconcerned even though her curiosity was at its peak.

“Kossi and the GM are…” He trailed off and made a weird expression with his face.

She pretended like she didn't understand. “Are what?”

He looked at her in exasperation. “You know what I mean. They are seeing each other outside work.” He said the last sentence in a whisper, looking around to make sure they were alone.

Of course, it wasn't mere gossip. It was something she and Ama had known as soon as it started. “Then why are you telling me? Is it my business?” She rolled her eyes and moved to enter the company. She had wasted a lot of time already, talking outside with Gideon.

He seemed at a loss of what to say. “I...I just..., If you don't want to know, forget about it.” He shook his head and walked behind her.

Ruby snorted and found her way up the stairs to the accounting department. She could already foresee the termination of Kossi's employment. She would be the fourth secretary to the general manager in the years she'd spent in the company. She wondered if the confrontation that would take place between Kossi and the GM's wife would take place in the company or wherever they had their secret rendezvous. She pitied the GM's wife. After dealing with one woman, there would always be another one. The string of girls never ended.

Ruby sighed as she sat on her desk. Maybe, one of the jobs included in the secretary's employment also included bedding the GM. Otherwise, how could the man sleep with all the women employed to help him manage his schedule and meetings?

“Left for me eh, the man doesn't need a secretary. What he needs is a mistress that would be paid with the company’s money, calling her ‘my P.A.’ Stupid man," Ama said, filled with infuriation after they had seen the two culprits getting it done in the GM's car.

Ruby couldn't help but agree with her.

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 1:49am On Apr 09, 2021
EPISODE EIGHTEEN

Ruby's soles felt as though a pin had been buried into it. She cursed the blue shoes, shoes that she was only wearing for the first time. She wished she had listened to the shop owner that advised her to get a larger-sized pair, even though they were ugly compared to the pair currently on her feet. She was walking back home from the estate gate. She had taken a bike from the bus stop but bikes were not allowed in the estate, so she had to walk all the way home.

She was two houses away from her house when she saw a figure standing in front of the gate. Ruby frowned. Despite it being a rented property, that housed two other tenants aside from her and Ruby, and one of the cheapest housings in the area, the security was tight enough to not let any suspicious person into the compound.

As she drew closer, she recognized the figure and her breath caught. She could understand why he was standing like a homeless person in front of the gate. Rose had warned the security man to never let Boye into the house after they broke up, even when Ruby started sleeping with him, the rule didn't change. At first, Ruby despised the rule but thinking now, she appreciated it.

“What are you doing here?”

He had noticed her coming from afar and straightened up when she got to the gate but she didn't allow him to talk.

“You blocked my number and I really wanted to talk to you. I came an hour ago but the security man didn't let me in. I thought you closed work at five?”

Ruby sniggered. “Talk?” When I needed you to talk, why did your voice disappear? She seethed inside. “I don't think we have anything to talk about. You've done all the talking. I listened. Why are you still here?”

He scratched his scanty beards. Ruby cursed the times she had spent helping him purchase beard-growing ointments. Not like any of them worked. He was doomed to the scanty strands.

“You didn't wait for me to say anything the other day. You just spoke and left my house.”

“Oh, you actually said a lot that day. Your expression, your attitude told me everything your lips would later deny. After seeing that look on your face, did you think I would wait for you to fill my head with your stupid assurances? ‘You are the only constant in my life’ ‘They're just temporary’ ‘It's me and you forever’." She shook her head in wonder. “How did I ever believe all those things?”

“But it was true, it's really true. These past few days, I've missed you so much. I swear, I'm not lying. Look, I've come here more than three times. Did Rose tell you? I met her once and she warned me not to come here. I knew you would not say something like that.” He sighed putting on a pitiful expression. “Is it what she said? You know how things ended between me and her. She just wants to-”

“Better stop there.” Ruby's voice was stern. “I should have learned from her lesson. I just had to go and experience it myself. You are a leech, you know that right? The funny thing is that you’re not a money leech, that would have been better to deal with. Emotionally, mentally, physically, you just want to be the only one huh?”

“What are you saying? I loved her that time. I just wanted her to spend more time with me.” He fisted his hands to stress his point.

“So that she would abandon her job and join an unstable man that depends on scamming people to make his money?” She shouted. Finally, she said those words. Words that she'd always withheld whenever they got into an argument about him finding something else to do. Words that even she and Rose tiptoed around.

“It's still money, isn't it? Is it my fault that there is no job in the country. It's what I can do.” He threw back. “I just knew it was because of money. The man Rose said you are dating, he is rich ehn? He has money too? Are you sure it's not this type of work he is doing too?”

“You are very mad, very stupid. Because you make chicken-change from that rubbish you are doing doesn't mean every other man is like you. People also work hard for money, you know right? How far does the money even carry you? Today you have, tomorrow you are broke like a rat. And what? The circle continues. Yes, if not for anything else, what you do is enough for me to leave you? To fucking dump you even though we are not dating-”

She was interrupted by the sound of a car pulling up in front of the gate. She kept quiet to wait for the person to pass before she continued on her rant.

“What is he doing here?” Rose's voice was hard.

Of course, it had to be her, Ruby suddenly felt pity for Boye. “Hey, you're back?”

Rose came up beside her and rubbed her arms, questioningly. “I just had that feeling that one rat will spoil my day, I was trying to ignore it. Now, look what decided to drop by?” She enunciated the words. “Oga,” she gave Boye a shriveling look, “you miss road?”

Boye looked at her. He looked like he had so much to say, but could only keep his mouth shut. Rose had always been the bolder of the “R-Square” as he jokingly called the both of them before. Ruby always felt that he was a little scared of Rose even though he didn't admit it. It was one of the reasons she'd never felt that the two of them would date each other. “Rose?” He ended up saying, or rather asking.

“No, it's Hibiscus. Why are you here biko? What did I tell you the other day eh? You have finished doing what you want with her, won't you allow her to rest? Abi you want to keep dragging her into your impoverished life?”

“Rose,” Ruby pulled at her hand. Her words were too harsh.

“Ehn-ehn,” She brushed Ruby's hand away. “Don't ‘Rose’ me now. If he doesn't want to hear anything worse from my mouth now, he should just leave this place right now. What kind of pest is this one na?”

Ruby sighed. While she didn't even have an atom of likeness towards Boye, she was not too antagonistic towards him. She looked at him. “Just go, Boye. Go and leave me alone. I don't want to see you around. For the sake of the friendship, we had before, just allow me to be in peace.”

“But…” he trailed off when he caught Rose's glare. “Okay.” He turned and walked away.

The two friends watched as he walked further from them and their lives.

“Are you sure you're over it? Including the sex with him?” Rose's voice had warmed to its usual tone.

Ruby smiled. “Maybe I wasn't before. I mean, I always wanted some form of closure. Say the things I never got to say and just let him know what I truly think, not what I tell him to assuage his ego.”

“So you told him everything?” Rose's eyes twinkled.

“Well, not everything, but the ones that matter.”

“And his small-”

“Don't go there,” Ruby feigned a stern look. “It may be quite small, but it knew how to work wonders.” She rolled her eyes.

“And she said she's over it.” Rose laughed.

“Biko, biko. Leave that one first. Let's go inside. I'm so hungry.” Ruby pulled her and walked towards the gate. Ruby shook her head when she saw the security man standing by the gate. He must have witnessed the whole drama.

“Today is indomie night o. I don't have time to cook an extravagant meal.”

“At least it's nutritious indomie,” Ruby put in impishly, looking forward to a well-garnished plate of noodles with fried plantains.

“Abi o,” Rose agreed.

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 2:30am On Apr 12, 2021
EPISODE NINETEEN

Ruby's tummy ached from laughing too hard. She collapsed on the passenger seat, breathing heavily. “It's okay,” she gasped. “You want to kill me with laughter?”

Fred smiled broadly. “Let me finish the story na. Even my mother that came with her, stood there looking at her in shock. I wonder if she even knows the girl very well.”

Fred was narrating how he'd come home to find his gateman and the girl his mother came with together. They had been getting it down at the back of the kitchen. Meanwhile, there was a pot of rice abandoned on the cooker.

“Wait o!” Ruby recovered from her laughing bouts and narrowed her eyes in suspicion. “Did you pay him to sleep with her? Abi, he thought she is the new maid?”

“No, why will I do such a thing?” His expression changed. “Even though I don't like her, I wouldn't go as far as to do that. It's like dishonoring my mother.”

“Oh, sorry.” She muttered. “So what is your mother going to do now?”

“My mother? She has removed her mouth from the matter. The girl even refused to follow her back home. She says she wants to stay in Lagos and get married to the gateman.”

Ruby's eyes widened. “Really? How many days has it been? Your gateman must have some skills to get her hooked on him.”

“I was also surprised. When I asked the gateman, the man said that he already had a wife at home, but he wanted to take her in as his second wife.”

“Wahala,” Ruby hummed. “Did the girl know that he was married? That he wants her as a second wife.”

Fred shrugged. “What is my business? She went home with him after we found them. She would follow my mother back to the village after that and wait for him to pay her bride price.”

“She still got a husband in Lagos,” Ruby said after contemplating the girl's choice. “But I won't be surprised if she waits till thy kingdom come.”

“It's her problem. I'm just relieved that she has been taken off my hands now. After this, my mother won't disturb me for a while. At least she now knows that even village girls are not as holy as she assumed.”

“Abi, the world is not like before when almost every girl from the village is pure and innocent. Some of them have opened their eyes now.” Ruby nodded.

The time on the dashboard read 10.43 pm. Outside, the street lamps illuminated the street.

“I should go inside now,” she said reluctantly. They had been sitting in the car outside her compound for almost an hour now.

“Why so soon?” He grumbled. “I really enjoy spending time with you.” He leaned towards her, taking one of her hands in his. He looked at her. In the dim light, she could see the honesty, naked as daylight in his expression.

“Me too,” her reply was just as honest.

“How soon can we do this again? How is your weekend? Don't tell me you already have something planned?”

“Well, it depends,” she said cheekily.

He leaned much closer, his breath fanning her face. “On what?”

“Who comes first.” She was grateful for the minted gum she had popped in her mouth after they left the restaurant.

“I'm here, aren't I?” Their noses touched.

In the slightly cool car, Ruby shivered. “What do you want us to do?” Her voice lowered to a whisper.

“Let me surprise you,” he breathed out. The smell of alcohol from the wine he had during dinner was sharp on his breath.

“I won't say no to surprises.” Her breath was coming in short puffs now. If she kept on waiting, Lord knows how long he wanted to play this.

“And a man…”

She shushed him with her lips, covering the tiny space between them. Fred moaned in delight and deepened the kiss. He let go of her hand and wrapped his hand around her waist. He pulled her closer over the division console of the car to rest on his body. She responded in like, placing her hands on his chest for support. The kiss continued for a long time. They remained interlocked in each other's arms. Their heavy breathing echoed in the car, and soon, Fred's hands started etching lower to her buttocks, tentatively cupping them.

Ruby was the first to break away from the kiss, panting and using her hand to fan herself. “Wow,” she muttered.

“Yea, wow.” He adjusted himself on his seat and used his thumb to touch his lips.

Ruby adjusted her clothes and her hair. Her heart was still beating rapidly. She reached to the backseat to get her bag. “I should be going now,” she said for the third time that night.

He nodded absentmindedly.

“Fred!” she called out, snapping her fingers in his face. “What are you thinking about now?”

He roused himself and reduced the temperature of the AC. “Things, baby. Things,” he said vaguely.

Ruby would be foolish to say she didn't understand, but she ignored the first comeback that came to her mind. “I'll talk to you tomorrow, then.”

“Alright.” He reached over to peck her on the cheeks. “Tomorrow.”

She came down from the car and smoothened her skirt. She waved at him and waited until his car lights disappeared into the night. The gate was unlocked when she walked to it, and she tried to imagine if the security man had been watching her and Fred. She looked around and sighed in relief when she realized he was inside his room.

***
Rose was typing furiously on her laptop when she entered the house. The smell of cookies was heavy in the air. It wasn't difficult for her to find where the aroma was coming from. A bowl of cookies was sitting right on the table, beside it was a cup of coffee. She walked over and picked one.

“Overtime today?” she asked as she sat down beside Rose.

Rose nodded absentmindedly, then said, “I kept your portion on the kitchen counter. I don't want to stand up from here until I complete this.”

Ruby peered into the screen. “What is this one again? You want to go into real estate?”

“Not me. It's this real estate company that came to the office yesterday. After talking with one of the representatives, I decided to look into the real estate company. I hear working with them is a big deal.”

“You want to switch jobs?” The cookie in her mouth suddenly felt too dry. She stopped chewing and just swallowed it, reaching for the cup of coffee and taking a small sip. She winced at the bitter taste.

“I've not decided yet, but I want to know if there are better options out there for me. Moreover, I've been studying the company's portfolio. Going into real estate isn't a bad idea.”

“Oh,” Ruby muttered. “I will check it out too,” she continued dismissively. But she filed the information into one part of her mind for future consideration.

“Let me not disturb you.” She stood up and took three cookies from the plate.

Rose sighed. “Babe.”

“Don't worry. I will bring more for you. Just call me if you need more.”

Rose shook her head in exasperation. Ruby smiled and made her way to her bedroom.

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by PrudySara(f): 3:34pm On Apr 12, 2021
Wow... Updates back to back. Thanks OP

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 9:46pm On Apr 12, 2021
Thanks for the updates OP kiss

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 1:00am On Apr 15, 2021
EPISODE TWENTY

The afternoon was hot. Ruby's eyes first looked at the ceiling fans; the whirling blades did little to cool down the restaurant. She looked again at the standing fan on the other side of the restaurant, fanning the suited man that was shoveling huge morsels of amala into his mouth.

She ate slowly, taking time to blow at the pepper soup in her spoon before putting it in her mouth. Her tongue still glared from the first spoonful she had taken. It didn't help that the cook had lived up to the name of the soup. It was indeed spicy. She blew softly, telling herself she could handle the pepper. Her only worry was what it would to her stomach.

Beside the plate of pepper-soup still filled to the brim with meat cut to smaller pieces was a white mass, agidi. She had been excited when she asked the waitress what other meal they had aside from rice and swallow. Pepper-soup was on the menu. What more, it came with agidi. Unlike the other times that she ate without really tasting the food, she took her time to savor the peppery soup. She took small spoonfuls hoping to allow the soup to cool down before she could devour it. Her stomach was protesting the tiny spoonfuls that were sent down into it, especially when the promise of a nourishing meal was right in front of her.

“Enjoyment galore, eh?”

She didn't need to look to know that it was Gideon. She simply focused on blowing at the spoon, a small piece of meat stood amidst the brownish water.

He sat down and gestured at the waitress. “I will get what she is eating,” his voice was loud, deliberately provoking a response from her.

She said nothing, putting the spoon in her mouth and licking it clean. She chewed slowly.

“This one you are not saying anything, na so the food sweet reach.” He laughed.

Ruby paused for a bit, contemplatively looking at the soup. Why, all of a sudden, was Gideon suddenly all in her space? At first, she wanted to ignore him even though they were co-workers.

“What is the problem? Why are you no longer eating?” He asked. The waitress had just placed a steaming plate of the same soup in his front. He nodded at her in gratitude.

“Nothing,” she muttered and continued eating.

“Did you hear?” He used his fingers to wipe his spoon before dipping it into the soup. “The GM's wife came to the company this morning. Did you know he had a son abroad?”

The information piqued her interest, yet she feigned nonchalance. “Hmm-hmm.” She reached for the bottle of water beside her plate and gulped it.

“Yes. He had a son before he even married. You know, one of these people that go abroad and date foreigners. I heard he wanted to bring him down to Nigeria. Surprisingly enough, the wife agreed. But only on the condition that he sends one of her brothers outside too.”

Ruby continued eating, listening to him. She didn't need to say anything. Gideon would continue his story even though she pretended to be disinterested.

Gideon hummed in approval after taking a few spoonfuls of the soup. He smacked his lips and continued. “The man refused at first. You know how difficult sending someone abroad is, right? I'm not sure how they will settle the problem.”

“Why does he want to bring his son back here? Isn't he living well there?” Ruby couldn't withhold her curiosity.

“No, it's not to live here. He wants him to spend the long break here. Do you know when last Mr. GM traveled to see him, over five years? They've only been communicating through the phone. The boy still has to know his father's people.”

“Wait first, how do you even know all these things?” The soup in her plate had finished leaving only the pieces of meat. She ate them two at a time.

Before he could say anything, the smell of perfume engulfed the air around them, almost overpowering the aroma of the food. Ruby smiled and looked up. It was Kossi, dressed in her typical chiffon top, tucked into a tight, short skirt. She was smiling at Gideon.

“Hey,” she said and sat down on Ruby's right side.

Ruby sniffed, her throat already feeling clogged from the smell of the perfume. She was glad she'd almost finished eating before Kossi arrived.

“You are late, you know?” Gideon's voice was chiding.

Kossi rolled her eyes. “I'm sorry. You know how work can get back at the office. I had to lie that I wanted to use the toilet to leave.”

Ruby widened her eyes, looking from Gideon to Kossi. Now, what again? The curious cat in her made her ignore the smell of the perfume. She raised her brows at Gideon.

He smiled and gestured at her to calm down. He turned to Kossi, “What are you going to take? This one,” he pointed at his plate of soup, “is very good. But it is also spicy. I remember you say you don't like pepper.”

“Definitely not,” Kossi shook her head. “With the way Ruby's eyes are red, I'm not sure I want to try it. Just get me rice.”

Ruby self-consciously blinked her eyes. Indeed they felt watery. But she was glad her nose had decided to behave itself all through the peppery ordeal, if not..., she shook her head how she would have looked.

By the time Kossi's plate of jollof rice and salad arrived, Ruby had finished eating, and the waitress cleared her plates. To spend more time with the duo, she ordered a bottle of sprite and two donuts.

“After eating that food, you can still eat donuts?” Kossi stared at her in amazement. “Some people's stomachs are big o. I'm not even sure I can finish this.” She nodded at the plate in front of her.

Ruby flashed her a toothy, insincere smile, but her eyes were hard. “Indeed.” She muttered and eyed Gideon.

Gideon shrugged with a helpless shake of his head.

When the waitress brought her order, she told her to pack it up in a takeaway bag.

“You're leaving?” Gideon asked.

She gave him the same smile she had given Kossi seconds ago. “Yes, the break is almost over.”

“See you later,” Kossi was quick to bid her bye.

Ruby rushed to the counter to pay for all she had eaten and walked out of the restaurant. Heaven knows, she never really cared about Kossi. After all, their paths barely crossed in the company. But right now, she wanted to beat up the girl.

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 1:17am On Apr 15, 2021
EPISODE TWENTY-ONE

Ada snorted when Ruby explained what happened at lunch to her. They were both leaving the company together. “You didn't know that the two of them are now in a 'situationship'?”

“Since when? I thought Kossi and...,” Ruby trailed off when she heard someone coming up behind them.

It was another co-worker. They waited until she passed before Ada continued. “I was also surprised when I heard about it. I think it's just Gideon wanting to use her or something. But I still can't believe someone will openly be sleeping with two men in the same company.”

“Gideon of all people.” Ruby still couldn't wrap her head around this new piece of gossip.

“There is nothing impossible when it comes to matters like this. It's not like the GM has exclusive rights-” Ama was stopped by Ruby's sudden grip of her hand. She turned to Ruby in confusion.

Ruby gestured to the front of the gate. The GM's wife was standing in front of the company, dressed in a blue dress. What surprised both of them was the pair of slippers on her legs. Both Ada and Ruby were ready to watch the show of their lives

“Is she still in the company?” Ruby asked.

Ada shrugged. “Even if she is, I doubt she would want to come out at this time.”

“Why is the woman not entering the company?” Ruby asked after a few minutes passed and there was no sign of Kossi.

“The GM banned her from entering the company. The last time she came to make a fuss, she broke one of the glass walls in his office, and of course, he would get a warning. So, unless it is extremely important, the security man won't let her into the company.”

“Now, that is harsh.” Ruby pitied the woman, who was currently pacing the front of the company. She could imagine the pain the woman was going through.

“Not like I don't empathize with her or something, but I don't think anything she does would change anything about the man. He wants to cheat, so he will. I'm sure at this point, he doesn't even care if she knows about it or not. If she chases one girl, there will be others,” Ada said.

“God knows, I can't live like that o,” Ruby muttered.

Ada sighed. “And it's the same marriage my mother is hounding me about. 'When will you marry?' 'All your mates are getting married'. Allow me for Christ's sake. If anyone wants to get married, they should get married. When I feel I'm ready or meet someone that I am interested in, then we'll talk about it.”

Thinking of Rose and Blossom, Ruby asked, “How are you supposed to know the one that will cheat and the one that won't cheat?”

“As my elder sister will say, it's like throwing a dice. You can't control the outcome. You cannot control anybody, just try to control your reaction.”

“It's not that easy.” Ruby thought of how she had been so certain she could control her emotions around Boye, look how it ended.

Ada patted her softly “My dear, we are all philosophers until we get into the real deal. We just hope that our luck is not that horrible when it comes to marriage, let's have someone we can deal with not one that would turn us into something else.”

Ruby agreed. They had waited for over thirty minutes and she could imagine that the GM's wife wouldn't be getting what she'd come for. “I don't think there will be any drama today,” she acknowledged with a disappointed sigh.

“There will be one, but it will be at home. I wonder if they will sack Kossi this time. There was no big ruckus like that of the other girls.” They started walking out of the company's premises.

“I still don't believe the thing about Gideon and Kossi o.” Ruby continued when they left the company, the GM's wife way behind them now.

“Hmm, to be honest, I'm also not sure what is between them. That is why it's a situationship. I imagine that he wants to get something from her.”

“Info on the GM?” Ruby wondered. She gestured at a keke that was coming towards them. It stopped and they got in.

“But why would he need info on the GM? Is he writing a gossip blog?”

Ruby humphed. “You've forgotten what he deals with. I won't be surprised if he has one.”

Ada clucked her tongue. “Whatever it is, let's just mind our business. At this rate, I think you should keep your distance from him. I never really liked him. He just keeps getting into other people's personal space.”

“Exactly. I was wondering why he suddenly started coming close to me. Now that you said it, I will just keep away.”

When the keke stopped by the bus stop, they alighted and paid their fares. They had to board different buses.

“I'll see you tomorrow.” Ruby bade Ada goodbye and went off to find her bus.

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Odoogu(m): 1:26pm On Apr 15, 2021
this Gideon na tatafo... talk like loose bottom cheesy

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 3:36pm On Apr 15, 2021
Fear men like Gideon oooo.... Amebo

Thanks for the update

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 8:13am On Apr 20, 2021
EPISODE TWENTY-TWO

The air in the car was a little chilled, not from the AC, but she could feel Fred turning away from her emotionally.

“Why?” he asked in a gruff voice. “I mean, I want to understand why you don't want to include sex in the relationship, but…” he broke away.

Ruby wasn't certain about why she had made that decision. About two hours ago, she had gone to his house. It was a cozy home in Ikeja. He'd offered to prepare something for her, an offer she refused in favor of ordering pizza from Domino’ Pizza. After they'd feasted on the peppery pizza, they watched a movie, during which Fred had made his move, attacking the soft spot that was her neck. Things had gotten a little hot between them. It was when he reached to take off her shirt that she held him off.
When the air settled between them, she made the announcement. “I'm off sex for now.” She didn't give a reason. She just put it out there.

For a few moments, he looked at her as though he thought she was crazy. He didn't say anything, only stood up and excused himself.

When he returned to the living room, she was getting ready to leave. He didn't ask her why or try to make her stay. He picked up his keys and offered to drop her at her place.

They had driven for a while in silence. She wanted to play some music to ease the silence, but she wasn't sure about how he felt, so she kept to herself.

He had just turned into her estate when he asked the question.

All through the drive, she had been thinking of the 'why'. Why had she blurted those words? She had not thought about it before. A serious relationship also meant having sex, for many people, including her. And the decision didn't come from a religious place. Yes, she went to church, but merely as a Sunday ritual.

“I just came out of a... I don't know how to explain it. I don't think you would understand.” She started to talk about Boye but shook her head.

“No, I really want to understand. If not, I wouldn't ask. Just tell me.” He pulled the car to a stop in front of their gate.

It was still daytime. Ruby was grateful for the privacy that their quiet and always lonely estate afforded them. “I had this friend. We have been friends, along with Rose since my university days.” She went ahead to tell him about Boye, talking about how the relationship was only sexual and had left her heartbroken.

She watched his expression as she spoke, stilling when she gave intimate details about her and Boye. At some point, she wanted to stop, thinking she was divulging too much. One didn't talk about an ex with the current boyfriend. She had seen it in many relationship advice and articles.

“Continue,” he would prompt gruffly.

When she finished, up until the past two months when she finally broke up with Boye, she said, “I don't know why. But I just feel..., I don't think-”

“You don't think you're ready to get into another physical entanglement,” he put in.

She nodded. “I didn't want it to be like this. I never even thought of it,” she tried to explain. “It just happened when.. when we were…” she trailed off.

He shook his head. “You don't need to apologize. It's your personal decision. I respect it.”

She didn't know what to say. She imagined what was going on in his head. Did he think she was pretentious? Did he think she was doing it purposefully? But back in his home, after the kiss had become hotter, whatever desire she felt at the onset died as soon as his hands started roaming.

Their parting was very awkward. Ruby feared that she wouldn't be hearing from him anytime soon. She relayed the events of the day to Rose when she got into the house. It was Sunday. Rose, as usual, spent the day preparing soups and stews that would take them through the week.

“Maybe your body is still clinging to the memory of Boye,” Rose offered. She threw some shelled groundnuts into her mouth.

Ruby shook her head. “I don't think it is that. I felt something for him, but when it came to the real thing, it's like everything fled, and my body just became cold.”

“Maybe you don't fancy him physically. Sometimes, it’s like that.”

“I still don't think it's likr that. I felt him up during the whole thing, and I assure you if I am to judge by the size...,” she trailed off.

“So he is endowed, but still, no reaction on your side, eh?” Rose quipped. “I still feel that your body is still attached to the thought of Boye. In your mind, you may have gotten over him. But ask yourself, are you truly over him?”

“Yes,” Ruby answered resolutely. “No doubt about it. It has nothing to do with Boye. He hasn't even come into my mind these past few days. Maybe it's because I am not as ready as I thought I was for another relationship.”

“Or you simply don't find him attractive enough.” Rose put in. “Didn't you say he has this scar on his face?”

Ruby eyed her. “I wouldn't go out with him on multiple dates if I thought anything about his looks or his scar.”

“Fancy restaurants with delicious foods,” Rose mused.

“Rose.” Ruby's voice was stern.

Rose rolled her eyes. “Don't be too serious, babe. Going on dates with someone doesn't mean that you can have sex with the person. Unless you want to join 'operation force yourself'.”

Ruby frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Look, Ruby, I know you really want to get in a serious relationship with someone. The reason for that, I am not sure. But you should also know that a relationship isn't just what you see every day— going on dates, taking 'awwn-worthy' pictures together, sweet morning messages. Babe, there is more to it o. You need to work for it. You think me and Blossom just happened, always being the lovey-dovey couple that made other people mad with envy? It is not like that. Sometimes, when girls say they are not ready, it simply is the fact that they are not attracted to that person.”

She looked at Ruby with honesty. “I can tell that you are not as attracted to him as you think you are.”

Ruby returned her look. She was quiet for a while before she sighed. “Do you think he will call again?”

Rose resumed her carefree expression. “Depends. He might have gotten the memo. Or he may have not.”

Ruby reached for a handful of groundnuts from the bowl out of which Rose was eating.

“Pimples o, Ruby. Pimples,” Rose warned.

Ruby laughed.

“What are you going to do now?” Rose asked when Ruby didn't say anything about her previous comment.

“Wait,” Ruby said simply. “Sleep on it. If he calls, I will go with what my mind tells me. But to be sincere, I honestly like the guy. I like where the relationship is going.”

“Well, on another note, you may still need time to warm up to him. I mean, it's just been you chasing after Boye for the past two three years. It may take some time, but you'll get there soon.”

Ruby pinched her upper arm. “Then why didn't you say so first? You just had to go round and round, even when you knew exactly what was wrong.”

Rose gave her a dirty glare, rubbing the sore area. “I just had to be certain you know what you want. When you know exactly what you want in any relationship with anybody, it becomes easier to answer certain questions.”

“Like play like play, person don turn to relationship counsellor.” Ruby chuckled.

“Na singlehood biko. It's time for me to start giving advice.”
They laughed.

2 Likes

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 8:32am On Apr 20, 2021
EPISODE TWENTY-THREE

“Hey,” Ruby's voice was tentative, cautious.

It was Monday, about 24 hours after she and Fred had parted on a distant note. She was on her way home from work, walking the short distance from the estate gate to her house. She finally couldn't bear waiting for him to call and called him.

“Babe,” he sounded as though he was just waking up.

Her hands tightened around the phone. “I hope I'm not disturbing?”

“No, no. I'm at the office. I had a long day and was just taking a short nap before I head home.” She heard him stifle a yawn.

“Oh, my day was the same.” Not entirely true. She'd spent the whole day staring at her phone in anticipation of a message when she wasn't typing at the computer.

“Can I call you back later? When I get home?”

Her heart tightened. “Oh sure. You can get back to work.” Without waiting for him to say anything, she quickly hung up the phone. She stumbled slightly, catching herself before she fell.

She tried not to think of anything as she entered the house, briefly greeting the security guard. She went through the motions of taking off her clothes, taking her bath, and heating her dinner like an automated machine, deep in thought.

During her conversation with Rose the previous evening, she had been so certain that she no longer felt anything for Boye, not physically or emotionally, and that was true. But what had happened between her and Fred could have affected the way she viewed sex, she imagined. She still couldn't understand why she said those words to Fred. It wasn't premeditated. It had just come out from where she didn't know.

Maybe that was what she needed? A relationship without sexual ties? Did she even know what she wanted? The question stared her in the face as she ate absentmindedly. She always thought she knew what she wanted when it came to a relationship. She wanted a serious relationship. And then what? It shouldn't stop at that, she told herself.

She wanted a serious relationship with a man that cared about her; had enough money, was good-looking...? The thought trailed off. Just what exactly did she want?

Fred called much later in the night when she had retired to bed and was ready to go to sleep. After they greeted each other, relating how each other's evening went, an awkward silence descended between the both of them. Ruby was unsure of how to broach the topic. She wasn't even sure of what she'd wanted to tell him.

“Do you still have feelings for him? Are you just using me for a rebound?” Fred finally asked after what seemed like three hours passed.

“No,” she said quickly. “No, no. I don't feel anything for him anymore. Whatever it was between us has ended. I'm not even sure what to call it.”

He breathed deeply. “I like you, Ruby, I really do. I just want to be sure that you also feel the same way about me. And this relationship between us, I want it.”

Her heart thudded in excitement. “Yes, I want it to.” Her voice was loud in the room. She reduced her voice. “I also feel the same way.”

“Really?”

She nodded even though he couldn't see her and sat up on the bed, leaning back on the headboard. “Yes, Fred. I like you. I want a relationship with you, a serious one.” She bit her fingers as she spoke, her toes curling tightly.

There was a slight chuckle from the other side. “I'm glad you feel the same way. I am willing to understand your choices concerning sex and an intimate relationship. I don't mind. And I'm willing to wait for you until you're ready.”

It was now her turn to whisper, “Really?”

He laughed. “Really. If it would help us grow a stronger relationship, I'm willing to do that.”

She laughed out loud. “Thank you for respecting my choice. I didn't expect…” She broke off, thinking back to the thoughts that had worried her that morning when she woke up. She'd worried that he would be one of the ones that would back off as soon as they heard no sex.

“Didn't expect what?” he prompted her to finish off her sentence.

“Nothing,” she said airily. “Though, I don't think it would take a long time.”

“Don't start what you cannot finish.” He warned.

She giggled and asked, “Ehen, how was your day? When I called earlier this afternoon, you sounded quite tired.”

He moved on to talk about his tiring day.

It was almost midnight before he bade her goodnight and ended the call. When she slept, her spirit felt light, and her heart was singing.

***
“This one someone is shining teeth like a Close-Up influencer. I can tell that things are going well with our Instagram boyfriend,” Rose said when Ruby came out of her room humming a gospel song.

Ruby laughed. She halted her movement when she saw Rose sitting in the living room. “Anha, you are not going to work today?”

Rose shook her head. “I will go, but I will go later. I'm not feeling myself this morning.” Rose was lying down on the couch. On the table in front of her was a glass of tumbler and an empty packet of medicine.

“What is wrong?” Ruby walked towards her.

“My dear, what else? Cramps o. I don't know what happened. It's worse this month. I threw up two times this morning.”

“Ehya, hard-luck eh. Have you drunk hot water? I heard that ginger tea helps. Is there still ginger in the kitchen?”

“No, don't worry. I've already taken medicine. I'm just waiting for it to kick in before I take my bath and prepare for work.”

“Have you taken spoken with your supervisor? Shey you said it's no longer Mr. Okige. The new person they brought is not harsh eh?”

“I just told them that I want to go to the hospital to see the doctor, that I would come to work a little late. With all the work I've been putting in, I don't think it will matter much.”

“Alright.” Ruby rubbed her shoulders. “I'll be on my way now. I'm already late.” She started towards the door.

“You didn't tell me what happened with your online boyfriend o,” Rose called out after her.

“It's no longer online abeg." Ruby laughed. “I will gist you in the evening.”

“Okay. See you later.”

2 Likes

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 4:54am On Apr 23, 2021
EPISODE TWENTY-FOUR

The next few weeks were one of sweet bliss for Ruby. She finally felt as though her life was on the right track as it was supposed to be. Work was going fine. She was assigned to work as Mrs. Oyena's assistant. 

Mrs. Oyena, despite her old ways of thinking, was a very great partner to work with. While she remained strict to the methods she was used to, she allowed Ruby a level of freedom to incorporate new methods into their work.

With Fred, well, she seemed to have gotten what she wanted— someone to send her good morning/good night texts that would put a smile on her face, someone to send her random gifts (which she reciprocated), and someone she could introduce as 'my boyfriend'.

“Fred is the best thing that happened to me,” she always found a way to insert this comment into any conversation she was having about him with Rose. He definitely was. She could feel herself fall slowly, deeper in love with him. And the same with him. He confessed, quite often, that he was falling deeper for her.

And sex..., the thought of it brought an embarrassed smile to her face. After promising to keep sex off their relationship for a month or more, she had gone and broken it. She'd been the one to initiate intimate relations with him. She had to admit that she didn't regret it one bit. It had happened exactly eight days after the conversation that had sailed their relationship.

“I don't know what happened. It's like I just lost control,” she lamented when she returned home to Rose. Her body still ached a little from the 'heavy' exercise. Fred definitely knew how to use his 'endowment'.

Rose, who had been working on her laptop shut it down and turned to face her, curiosity written all over her face. “How was it? Better than-”

Ruby eyed her. “You're not even listening to what I'm saying. I didn't want to-”

“No, not you didn't want to.” Rose cut in. “You very much wanted to, and you look…” Rose looked her up and down, “...like you enjoyed it. So gist me.”

Ruby snorted. “What do you want to hear. It was nice, that's it.” She sat down on the couch and reached for a handful of chinchin from the bowl on the table.

“Nice ke?” Rose humphed. “Talk jare. His size? Skills? Babe, talk na.” She prodded.

Ruby rolled her eyes. “Intimate, baby. Intimate details.” She stressed, struggling to hold in her laughter.

“You're crazy, you know eh?” Rose laughed. “But he's good?”

Ruby shook her head. “I don't want to give out many details, Rose. But... but…” she sighed in excitement. “It was worth going against the whole 'no sex for a month'.”

Rose clapped her hands. “I just knew it. No sex for a month, tah. If you had not said anything, I would have assumed it possible. But after you said it, I knew it would become a real struggle for you.”

“Abegi,” Ruby sniggered. “I was just trying to build a strong relationship with him before the whole sex matter. You know how it messes up some relationships. I didn't want it to turn to what I and Boye had.”

“Not all relationships are the same. But it's good for you. Sometimes, sex helps with the connection.”

“Very true,” Ruby nodded. “What about you, aunty?” She changed the focus of the conversation to Rose. “Are you still in the 'single' zone?” She put quotation marks in the air when she said single.

Weeks ago, Rose claimed she wanted to enjoy being single for a long time before she jumped into another relationship. However, about two days ago, just as Ruby had returned from work, she saw Rose in a car sitting with a guy. She had not yet had an opportunity to question her about the man until today.

Rose blinked her eyes innocently, “Who? When? What are you talking about?”

Ruby tsked. “Better start talking o.” She reached for another helping of chin-chin. She was eating them one by one.

“Nobody, my dear. He lives in this estate. Last week, I was rushing to work. The Uber I called just ended the trip halfway, despite me waiting for him for over thirty minutes. He offered me a ride to where I could take a taxi. I accepted. You know how things will go from there,” Rose narrated drily.

“You don't like him?” Ruby picked up on the annoyance in Rose's voice. 

“Like? That one na pest o, correct pest. He won't leave me alone now. Every time, he is calling me. 'Would you mind stepping out with me this evening?' 'Can you come over to my place?' Jeez! He should be able to read the signs na. The only reason I'm still giving him face is that he helped me that day. If I had arrived at work a few minutes later, I would have missed an emergency meeting.” She shook her head. “But still, the thing tire me sha.”

Ruby laughed. “Sorry o. You can tell him straight that you are not interested. If you don't make it clear, they will continue hounding you.”

“I'm just trying to be polite na. I will give him this week. After this week, I will just block his number. We've been in the same estate for over two years, but this is the first time I'm meeting him. If I play my cards well, I would be able to avoid him completely.” Rose picked up her laptop and rebooted it.

“You want to go back to work?” Ruby sniffed. Once again, Rose was making her feel unserious. 

“No,” Rose laughed. “I'm checking for a car. Thank God you're here. Come let's look together.”

“Jesus!” Ruby screamed in excitement. “Rose, wow. Just wow.” She hurried up from where she was sitting to join Rose. She engulfed her in a wide hug. “That's so cool. What type of car do you want to buy?”
 
Rose shook her head at Ruby's excitement. “I'm not sure yet. I just want to get something affordable. I checked my accounts and I'm safe to say, I can buy a new car and not go broke. I may even consider getting a second-hand. I still haven't decided.”

Ruby felt earnestly happy for her friend. “Anyone you decide to get, I support you. Let's look together. Which brand do you prefer?”

Far into the night, they continued poring over the laptop, looking at pictures of cars, browsing what particular specs meant. That night, Ruby also slept in Rose's room.

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 5:19am On Apr 23, 2021
EPISODE TWENTY-FIVE

Ruby used her already soggy handkerchief to wipe her chest. She felt uncomfortable with the streaks of sweat running down the middle of her chest and her back, turning her blue shirt damp. She cringed at the sight she would make when she came down from the keke. Walking around with a wide, dark map on her clothes, evidence of how hot the day was, had not been on her plans that Saturday morning when she left the house.

The feeling of discomfort was compounded by the soreness in her temples and slight pains from different parts of her heads, courtesy of the new braids she had on. She had left the house as early as 6 am to get her hair done so she could meet up with work in the afternoon. She cursed the hands of the woman that made the hair. Just how many times had she said “not too tight?” But the woman had made it a point to tighten her hands anytime she started a new braid.

She massaged her temples slightly and continued fanning herself with the fan she had sneaked out of the hairdresser's shop with. She looked through the front of the keke and sighed in exasperation. The road was packed with cars. Roadside sellers were prowling the sides of the cars, screaming the names of their wares as well as some beggars.

She thanked her stars that she had called in earlier at work to say she would be late. She was more grateful that it was a Saturday and not a very serious day of work. She had also started considering making changes to her employment contract. She wanted Saturdays off. She envied Rose, who had still been on the bed, enjoying the cool air from the rechargeable fan in her room when she'd left the house.

The keke moved to cover up the small space that had cropped up in front of him. Before it stopped, someone entered the keke.

A hurried voice told the keke his destination.

Ruby had been the only one in the keke, so she shifted to make some space for the new occupant. She sniffed at the strong smell that filled the keke. Some people just had to bath in perfume before they left their house, she wondered. She eyed the man with the offensive perfume. On a normal day, she would have kept to herself and minded her business. But the pain from her head, the uncomfortable heat that was turning her into a puddle of sweat, the slow-moving traffic, and now, this strong perfume added to her frustration.

“You don't have to spray the whole bottle so that everyone will notice that you are smelling good,” she said tartly.

At first, the man ignored her before he looked at her questioningly. When he realized she was talking to him, he asked, “Are you talking to me?”

She raised her eyebrows and sniffed. “Who else? Your perfume is too strong and I can't even breath properly.”

“Oh, sorry.” He sniffed at his shirt, still looking confused. “I'm sorry,” he repeated, “I'm having a clogged nose, so I didn't notice it.”

“'Clogged' nose in this weather?” The word sounded foreign to her. It wasn't a word she would use to refer to a stuffy nose.

He smiled apologetically. “My girlfriend turned the AC too low and I didn't sleep with a blanket, so…” he trailed off.

“Oh,” She muttered slowly and turned away, minding her business.

“Oga, you get one thousand naira change?” The man asked the driver. He had stopped a young boy, holding a basin filled with bottled water and soft drinks.

“Ah, where you wan make I find one thousand naira change from?” The driver looked through his money box. It was filled with one thousand and five hundred naira notes. He shook his head. “I no get change o.”

The man turned to the seller and asked if he could get some change, the seller also replied in the negative. Ruby bit her lips, holding back her laughter. She knew that the driver had a bundle of smaller notes in his pocket.

“Excuse me,” the man turned to Ruby. “Do you have any change? I can pay for the both of us.”

Ruby calculated mentally. With a small nod, she opened her bag, brought out her purse and took out a two-hundred-naira note, and handed it to him.

He collected it from her with a smile of gratitude and gave it to the seller. The seller gave him a change of fifty naira along with a bottle of Fanta.

“How much is your fare?” He turned to Ruby.

“It's hundred naira.”

He looked at the two notes in his hand— a fifty naira note and a thousand naira note, unsure of how to handle it.

With a slight shake of her head, Ruby took the thousand naira note from his hand and gave it to the driver. “Oga change. At least you get eight-fifty, eh?”

The driver had been watching them from his mirror. He had a sour look on his face as he collected the money from her. After searching through his box, he brought out some notes and handed them to her.

She took a hundred naira note from it and handed the rest to him. “Check, it should be complete, right?” She was already putting the note into her purse.

He didn't count the money, only brought out his wallet and put the money inside, arranging the notes neatly. “Thank you,” he said when he returned the wallet into his pocket.

She smiled in return. She checked her phone for the time and groaned silently when she saw it was past noon. “Is there any need to even go today?” she asked herself.

The keke moved slowly, following the traffic. After about thirty more minutes, the keke pulled to a stop at the junction that led to the company. Ruby alighted and started the long walk to her company. All the while, still fanning herself. The braids on her hair felt so prickly.

On arriving at the company, she met Ama at the entrance making a call. Ama gestured at her to wait while she hurriedly ended the call.

“Your hair is so neat. Who made it?” She pulled Ruby close and started examining the braids, poking at each of them to test how tight they are.

Ruby gently pushed her hand away. “It's one woman around our side. She made it so tight and now I'm nursing a headache. Do you still have any panadol?”

“Yes," Ama led the way into the company. “You just missed one huge drama this morning.”

Her hair and the heat were forgotten as soon as she heard the word drama. Ruby held her elbow and whispered excitedly, “What happened?” She looked around, but the company was as silent and empty as it usually was on a Saturday.

“I met Kossi and Gideon in the company when I came. I don't know what happened. You know the GM doesn't come in on Saturdays, he just works remotely. I met her crying and packing her things. It's like they've sacked her.”

Ruby widened her eyes. “I knew it was coming, but what happened? Did his wife come? Even Gideon? He was sacked too?” She forced herself not to feel gleeful at the thought.

Ama shook her head. “I don't know exactly what happened. And it's just Kossi. Gideon said he just came to help her. I think she slept in his house.” The last statement was said in a low whisper.

Ruby chuckled. “I don't know what is going on between the three of them, but she should have expected it.”

“Maybe it’s like this— she and the GM had something together, then she fell in love with Gideon and broke it off with the GM. The GM became jealous and angry and sacked her.” Ama shrugged.

“Even if it is Super Story,” Ruby laughed. “It's probably true. With all the underground politics that goes on in the company, I believe anything is possible.”

“Anyway, Gideon also said he wants to report to the board. That the GM is playing with the resources of the company, employing girls only based on his instincts and not what the company needs.”

“He's really serious?” They got to the accounting department but didn't go in.

“I agree with him. I think it's better if the choice of the next P.A is made by another person. They should bring a man or someone else.”

Ruby nodded thoughtfully. “Anything that happens shouldn't affect my work, right? All these wahala, let me just do my work and get paid. If the man wants to sleep with all the girls in Lagos, it is not my business.”

“Well, you would think so.” Ama's voice was small. “He has made a move on me before.”

Ruby widened her eyes in shock. "When?"

To be Continued Next Week.
Three-five posts per week.

3 Likes

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 9:01am On Apr 23, 2021
Thanks for the updates

I’m so loving this story

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by onlyfacts: 9:20am On Apr 23, 2021
Cynthialinlin:
EPISODE THIRTEEN

“Babe, how are you feeling?” Ruby came out of her room to meet Rose in the living room, spooning ice-cream into her mouth and watching a movie.

“Wow, you look so good.” Rose sat up and kept the bowl of ice-cream on the table in front of her. “I'm okay. Give me three days and I assure you, I will totally forget everything about the name Blossom.”

“You say it like it's easy.” Ruby walked towards her and picked up the bowl of ice-cream. She took some.

“Forgetting him is not easy, thinking about it all the time is also not easy. Let me choose the better of two evils. Going through a breakup is not something you can use motivational sayings to brush over.”

Ruby smiled guiltily, thinking of all the inspirational messages and sayings she'd been sending to Rose since the previous night.

Rose continued, “I just want to get the whole thing done and over with. Now, I can cry how I want and curse him all I want, but when it's done, I move on with my life.”

Ruby looked at her friend in admiration. “So straightforward.”

“People like to make things complicated for themselves.” She gestured for the ice-cream bowl. Ruby returned it to her. “So where are you going? This one you even bought a new gown, any new boo I don't know about?”

Ruby sat on the handle of the couch. She reached for the remote control of the TV and reduced the volume. “It's the guy I met through social media. We're finally meeting in real life.”

“That was fast. Are you sure he is not something else? With the rate of online scams, you have to be very careful.”

“We are meeting in a very public place, near Ikeja City Mall. I checked out the place, it's a restaurant.”

“Even though it is safe, you don't know what might be waiting for you. Send me the address of the place in case of necessity.”

“Hah?” Ruby eyed Rose. “Is that necessary? I'm sure it's very safe. I've been on-”

“I said 'in case of necessity' o. The way things are now, you can never be too sure or too safe. Just send me the address. I'm not going to ruin your date. At least if something happens, we know where to start from.”

“Jesus! Why are you taking it so seriously like that? God forbid something happens to me.” But as she was saying it, she brought out her phone to send the address to her.

“You still have me on your quick dial, right? If you start getting any vibes, just know when to remove your shoes and run.” Rose continued.

“Yes, mummy,” Ruby's reply was sarcastic. “Did anything happen? Abi it's because of your breakup?”

Rose gave her a sharp look. She licked her spoon and tossed it into a now-empty bowl. “One of the security men at work had to take leave yesterday to go and look for his younger sister, a university student. They said she has been missing for five days now. We were talking about it during break and you'd be surprised at the things my coworkers were saying. My dear, it is better to be safe than sorry. I'm just taking cautions. But you have to be careful.”

“Hmm,” Ruby had always seen a lot of messages concerning missing people, though she'd always assumed that it was one of those broadcast messages that were designed to put fear into people’s mind. “I'll be careful.”

Rose picked up her phone and looked at the message Ruby sent. “Are you coming back this night?”

“Definitely. With this thing that you told me, I don't think I can afford to spend the night elsewhere.” Ruby's phone buzzed. “My Uber is here.”

“Okay. Enjoy yourself then,” Rose wiggled her fingers in a wave.

Ruby stood up and adjusted her clothes. “You too. Make sure you don't stay up too late or cry too much.”

“I can't promise any of that.” She smiled playfully. “See you.”

Ruby shook her head and went out of the house. An ash car was waiting in front of the gate. She confirmed the driver's name and got into it. Hopefully, the traffic wouldn't be too heavy, she thought as she sent a message to Fred informing him that she was on her way. He lived in Ikeja, so it wouldn't be difficult for him to get to their rendezvous.

***
It was probably one of the best restaurants she'd been to. Soft strains of jazz wafted through the restaurant, with muted lights that added a sense of romanticism to the place. Round tables were designed to seat two people, with love-shaped candle stands in the middle of the table. The tables that were occupied had the candles lit up with a reddish hue. The sound of cutleries was muted, each couple caught up in their world. It was a Friday night and very few tables were empty. Ruby was certain that it would soon be filled up. The waitress that had met her at the reception desk now led her to a table in the far corner of the restaurant. She only had to call Fred's name as he had made the reservation in his name.

She was the first to arrive. Her heart was weighed down in slight disappointment as she was directed to the table. She sat down and when the waitress asked if she would like anything, she looked at the menu and ordered one of the cheapest wines she saw. Though by her definition, it was not cheap at all.

The wine arrived quickly and soon, she was taking small sips from the glass. The table Fred picked was close to the window, overlooking some of the city sights. From where she sat, she could see the roads, lighted up by cars and road lamps, colored lights where bars were. It was beautiful.

She sat sipping from her glass and looking, both out of the window and at the entrance. Time and again, she would look at her phone to check for the time.

Fifteen minutes passed.

Thirty minutes.

Thirty-five minutes.

Ruby's neck had a crick in it from every time she had to look back to know if the person arriving was him. At some point, she switched positions, backing the window so she would have her eyes on the entrance at all times. She'd sent him multiple messages and tried calling him. There was no reply and her call wasn't picked. Three times, a waitress had come to ask her if she was ready to order. She was almost halfway through the bottle of wine, as her little sips were turning into gulps. She was also beginning to feel slightly dizzy.

Forty-five minutes.

The waitress was there again. She ordered a simple plate of fried rice. Her stomach couldn't handle the hunger and she was beginning to feel faint.

Fifty-five minutes.

She finished the first serving of rice and tried calling again. The phone this time was switched off. She gestured to the waitress, ordered another serving of fried rice, this time with salad and a side of peppered beef.

One hour.

Still no sign of her online lover. His phone was still switched off.

One hour, fifteen minutes.

She forced herself to finish the meal she had ordered.

One hour, twenty-five minutes.

She was done eating. The waitress was standing beside her with a POS. She searched for her ATM in her purse and handed it over.

The waitress swiped the card with efficiency. A ding from her phone let her know that money had been deducted. She didn't check. Only picked up her purse, along with the unfinished bottle of wine, which the waitress had been kind enough to package for her, and went out of the restaurant.

She waited ten long minutes before her Uber arrived. Ten minutes during which she kept peering into the face of every man that walked into or from the restaurant. Her Uber arrived. She got into it and it drove away.

She didn't know what to feel.

Hello cynthia, a lovely story.

I work for a company that pays writers.

Have you published your story on any platform before now?

If not I'll like you to publish it with my company and get paid.
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 1:45pm On Apr 23, 2021
Ann2012:
Thanks for the updates

I’m so loving this story
I'm glad you're enjoying it wink
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 1:47pm On Apr 23, 2021
onlyfacts:


Hello cynthia, a lovely story.

I work for a company that pays writers.

Have you published your story on any platform before now?

If not I'll like you to publish it with my company and get paid.


Hello, I just have this story on Nairaland.
Can I contact you through WhatsApp?
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by onlyfacts: 2:41pm On Apr 23, 2021
Cynthialinlin:


Hello, I just have this story on Nairaland.
Can I contact you through WhatsApp?
This is my WhatsApp contact 08137572864


I'll msg you now.
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 1:06pm On Apr 24, 2021
EPISODE TWENTY-SIX

Ruby listened in silence as Ama narrated her ordeal when she first came into the company. She was employed to work as the GM's secretary. She hadn't been a fresh graduate like Ruby, rather it was already her third year looking for a job after her service. Getting a job was like a prayer answered. In her excitement, she wasn't concerned about the salary. She was just happy to have a job. Her work was to work with the GM: follow him to meetings, join him on travels within the country, receive his calls at ridiculous hours of the day, her workdays included Sundays. She didn't read her employment contract when she got the job. She hadn't even bothered contesting some of the job descriptions that were plain ridiculous with the salary she was promised.

It was weeks later, almost a month before the realization of what she signed up for dawned on her. She hadn't gotten her first salary, yet she had to deal with the extra expenses that came with the company-paid trips. She had been requested on many occasions to get new clothes befitting of her position as the personal secretary to the General manager.

Despite the tough conditions, she kept mute and still worked. The minute her phone pinged with her first salary, most of her internal grudges were forgotten. She continued to work, following the GM around like his dog.

The advances started three days after she got her second salary. “Or rather, it started with the second salary,” she corrected.

“It came with a bonus that was more than half of my salary. I was expecting around seventy thousand. But when I saw over a hundred thousand, do you know how excited I felt? My account balance had not gone above a hundred thousand since I finished service, and all of a sudden, the total amount is nearing two hundred. After cross-checking and being certain that it was from the company, I went to the finance department to clarify. They said it was part of my bonus. Bonus? I believed I deserved it. I've been working myself to death for the work, so why didn't I deserve a bonus?” She explained.

One of the things she did with the bonus was to go to the market and get new clothes. The GM had been complaining she'd been repeating most of her clothes to meetings. Three days later, she and the GM with some other members of the company went to a hotel to meet with a prospective investor. After the meeting, the Gm dismissed the other workers and asked her to remain and have lunch with him.

She often had lunches with him, so she didn't think too deeply about it, believing that they had another meeting after lunch.

He started by mentioning the bonus payment. Even though she already thanked him for it, she still repeated her appreciation.

But he went on to talk about increasing her salary if she was willing to work harder.

“Increase my salary?” she asked, trying to sound less excited, less eager. Who wouldn't want a salary increase? Not a bonus payment that could be cancelled if something happened to the company; her salary.

“Yes.” He didn't miss the excitement that rippled through her body. His thick lips curled in anticipation. “If you're willing to work harder for it, that is.”

She'd nodded hard, forgetting the half-eaten plate of rice. “Yes, sir. I'm willing to work hard,” she replied naively.

He chuckled, then reached over the table to place a hand on hers.

She wanted to retrieve her hand, but he tightened his hold. For fear of being too rude, she smiled politely and tried to stay put. “Sir?”

“Well.” He rubbed circles on her hand. She cringed inwardly, still fighting the urge to pull her hand away even it would offset the glass tumbler beside her. “I've had my eyes on you since you came into the company. Your determination…” he grinned, “or should I say your beauty…”

He didn't need to say any more for Ama to understand what he meant. If by now she didn't understand, she would be a fool. She'd pulled her hand away and smiled apologetically, lying that she had a boyfriend who planned on marrying her. It was the first of the many excuses she would give the following weeks. She kept looking for ways to avoid him, even started looking for other jobs.

It seemed though that the GM loved the chase. The bonuses kept coming, the trips to other cities and visits to 'clients' increased.

It would have been difficult to get another job, even within the company. But as luck would have it, a position opened up in the PR department when the department head had a stroke and resigned from his post. She had studied public administration at the university. Working in the company also gave her additional points. Fighting tooth and nail for the opportunity wasn't easy either. She had to deal with a reluctant GM, cozying up to the HR department, trying to buy the members of the PR department with her skills.

Ama shook her head. “I was so scared it wouldn't go through. You don't know that man. Even to sign the paper to transfer me to another department was another thing. I had to give him what he wanted.” Her face was etched in disgust.

Ruby gasped silently, cupping her mouth.

“I didn't sleep with him, but…” She made a face of disgust. “I had to give him something though. Anything. It was a horrible experience, my worst ten minutes in this company.” She shut her eyes tight. “You need to see the look on his face when all was said and done. I was this close to using the scissors on his desk to cut..., this close,” she made a gesture with her fingers. “I had to smile, say ‘thank you sir’ and leave the office with that paper.”

She stopped to shake her head and sigh. “I worked hard to get to this position I am in now, just to show him. And if Gideon or anyone in the company wants to file a report against him, then I wholeheartedly support that person.”

Ruby could understand how Ama felt, but she couldn't help the seeds of worry that were beginning to take hold in her heart, sensing how serious things were about to become. “But what if…” she trailed off.

“What if ‘what’?” Ama smiled at her, her sadness and bitterness slipping away. “Babe, I work in the PR department. It's like you don't understand what it means.” She laughed. “Besides, one of those board directors is on my case.” She winked at Ruby, “And let's just say, something might be brewing there.”

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 11:14am On Apr 26, 2021
EPISODE TWENTY-SEVEN

Ruby squealed in excitement. “Tell me, tell me.”

Ama shushed her and looked around. But it was Saturday, and there would be very few people in the company. She smiled and leaned back. “You know Oche? ?His father is one of the major investors. We met sometime last year, but you know how things were for me at that time.”

Ruby nodded. Ama had been going through a rough time then. Her father had died, and she'd been struggling to pull up funds to give him a befitting burial.

“I felt disturbed by the attention he was giving me. After two months, he just went off. He must have gotten tired. I didn't hear from him again until after the new year when we had the problem with Dawsons. They were threatening to file a lawsuit. I had to step up my game and put everything together. He came into the picture this time. His friend was one of the stakeholders in the company. It was only through him we were able to prevent the matter from escalating.” She flashed her teeth. “You know the rest.”

“So you guys are serious now?” Ruby played with the stapler on her desk, opening it up and closing it back again.

Ama tapped a finger on her cheek and looked up at the ceiling. “Not yet, but soon. I'm still considering it.”

Ruby widened her eyes. “Considering what?”

Ama sighed. “It's not like I'm too demanding or anything, but it doesn't feel right for me. I've always said I want a God-fearing man, someone that is as spiritual as I am. But he isn't. He is the typical Christian in name only, just going to church once a week, and that is it. When I start talking about God, he's just..., well, he doesn't even say anything.”

Ruby couldn't even pretend to understand. She was also a 'typical Christian in name only'. “Maybe you can try first, you might be able to influence him.”

“I don't know yet. I'm still praying about it.” She sighed. “I just don't want to make the wrong choice.”

Ruby silently wished her well. She wasn't spiritual. She couldn't empathize with whatever Ama was going through in her quest for a God-fearing boyfriend.

“You know, Gideon is not really seeing Kossi,” Ama said after a while.

“Really?” Ruby's ears perked up.

Ama nodded. “He was trying to get her to spill some beans on the GM. You should see the information he gathered. He even got information on some of the things the GM has been doing with the company's funds.”

Her eyes widened. “But I thought they ran a check on him some time ago, and they found nothing?”

“Yes, but you don't know there are other ways. And the GM, I think he does it smartly. Sometimes, it's the small things that matter. They're easy to overlook and hide.”

Ruby frowned. “Wait, Gideon said…” She looked at Ama, “I didn't realize that you guys were that close. Since when?”

“He's been trying to get close to me for a while. I misunderstood his motives at first. You know that he is like the gossip of the company. I wasn't certain what he wanted. And every time he comes, he's either saying something about Kossi or the GM. It was on Wednesday that he explained everything to me.” Ama explained.

“Does he have any personal beef with the GM? Why is he on the man's case like that?”

Ama shrugged. “I'm not sure. Maybe it's personal. He doesn't say much about his private life, despite the way he talks.” Ama stood up and stretched. “By the way, he has been going around trying to get people to sign his petition. Hasn't he come to you yet?”

Ruby shook her head. “No. Even if he does, I'm not sure I will sign yet, especially when I don't know what will become of the petition. What if the GM sees it and decides…”

“The man cannot just up and fire everyone in the company,” Ama cut in sharply. “You have forgotten that he is not the owner of the company, eh?”

“But he is the only one we have to answer to every single day,” Ruby muttered under her breath. No matter how Ama made it sound, it didn't just sit right with her.

Ama clucked her tongue. “It's your choice. No one will force you. Just think about it.”

Ruby nodded and looked up at the clock. They had been discussing for over an hour. She shook her head at how much time they had wasted.

“And also, the petition mentions canceling Saturday as workdays. Even though it is optional, but the GM was the one that included it. Ordinarily, workdays are just Mondays to Fridays. He also uses it as an avenue to embezzle more money.”

“Really?” She widened her eyes. “I was contemplating reviewing my employment contract too.”

Ama shrugged. “A lot will happen if the petition goes through. I do hope we get enough support from the other workers.”

Ruby nodded. After a small talk on random issues, Ama left to return to her office. Ruby switched on her computer and got into her Saturday work mode.

***
“Stop it,” Ruby giggled, slapping Fred's hand away. She tried to roll away from the warmth of his body, but his hands snaked around her waist and pulled her closer.

“Where are you running to? You are the one that started it.” He blew warm air at the back of her ears. The sound of her giggles bounced off the walls of the room.

She fought for freedom, kicking her legs in the air. Her ribs were beginning to ache. “Please,” she breathed out in between giggles. “I won't do it again.”

He stopped and reached to peck her on the cheeks. “Naughty girl.”

“You don't have to play dirty,” she panted with an offended look on her face.

He leaned up on his elbows and bent to pepper her face with small, light kisses. “Is she angry?” The last kiss landed on her lips and lasted for a while longer.

She pouted when he straightened and laced her hands around his neck, keeping him where he was. She pulled him closer for a much deeper kiss. “Yes. What will you do to calm her down now?” she said when the kiss ended.

His breath fanned her face. In the dim-lit room, she couldn't see his face clearly, but she was sure that he had an amused expression. “I would say my peppered indomie would do the trick…” his hands started roaming, “...but…”

She squealed when he pinched her sharply on her buttocks. “Fred!” she pouted. She regretted telling him she loved it when he did that.

He laughed, “Didn't you say you like it?”

She humphed and rolled him over so that she was on top. “You want to play that game?” she teased. She held down his hands with her knees, and her hands began their own game. Her mouth joined the rush, laying hot wet kisses on the naked span of his chest.

“I thought you said you were tired?” He asked with a hint of laughter in his voice.

“I really was, but now…” She used her teeth to tug at his nipples. He groaned. “I'm not so tired anymore.”

Fred rolled her over immediately. She chuckled. “Well, I'm up to the task.”

Her reply was lost as he covered her lips with his and reached to tug her clothes away. The sound of heavy breathing, soft moans, and bodies slapping against each other filled the room.

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Cynthialinlin(f): 6:43am On Apr 28, 2021
EPISODE TWENTY-EIGHT

About an hour later, Fred returned to the room with a glass of wine. Ruby was cleaning up in the bathroom. She joined him on the bed when she finished. He put his hand around her when she laid close to him and pulled her close.

“I still don't understand your need for alcohol after sex,” she said, tracing lines on his chest.

He laughed, sipping slowly from the glass. “It just became a habit.” He raised the glass to her mouth. “You want some?”

She shook her head but straightened up to take the glass from him and take a sip. “Hmm.” She smacked her lips. When she handed the glass back to him, she reached to kiss him. She loved kissing him after he drank. After a few weeks with him, she'd understood that once he reached for a glass of wine, there was no ‘next round’ that night. No matter what she did, she couldn't get him ready. After trying a few times, she gave up. Once he took the wine, there was no sex again. Well, till in the morning. The thought descended on her feeling her with anticipation.

“What were you saying about the guy from your work? Gideon?” He finished off the wine and placed the glass on the bedside table. 

Ruby sniffed. She had been talking about what Ama told her earlier that day before hands drifted off and clothes went off. “He wants to report the GM. Ama wants to too. She has personal issues with him.” She didn't go deep about Ama. It was too sensitive to share with other people.

“What about you?”

She sighed. “Honestly, you know I couldn't care less. It's not like I've had any personal encounter with the man. And so far as work conditions are okay for me, I don't mind anything that happens.”

“A little selfish, don't you think?” He was now massaging her hands.

She moaned softly. “I know. I felt so bad when Ama was talking to me. But when I think about it, I can't summon anything in me to support the idea. The man is horrible, I agree. But you can also think about it like this: he has been working in the company for many years, and all these things have been going on. There is no way the board hasn't noticed what has been going on since?”

He placed a kiss on her hand. “Maybe no one has made any report on it. They too might have reservations against the man, but they are looking for an opportunity to put it into action.”

“If you say so. Then I'd talk to Ama. She should talk to her boyfriend, and get proper information on how many people will support the idea. You know how these things are. If nothing happens to the man, all the people that were clamoring to deal with him will be in trouble. I like my job and the way things are in the job market, I'm not sure I want to start running around Lagos with my CV.”

“It won't get to that point.” His voice sounded drowsy. 

Ruby smiled and reached to kiss him. “Go to sleep,” she muttered. “Let me not keep you up any longer.”
 
He whispered “Goodnight,” then pecked her on the forehead. He reached over the headboard to switch off the light.
 
Ruby lay cuddled in his hold and listened as he drifted off to sleep. It didn't take long. She smiled to herself as she enjoyed the feeling of laying down beside someone that could listen to her talk and talk, the feeling that there was someone that cared for her. This is good, she thought to herself, having a boyfriend is really good.

***
Someone nudged her on the shoulder. She slowly awoke. “Babe, babe.” A voice accompanied the continuous taps. She tried to shake the hand away.

“Babe,” the voice was louder, the tapping slightly increased in intensity.

“Hmm,” She refused to open her eyes.

“It's Sunday. We have to go to church.” Fred's voice pierced through her cloudy mind.

She opened her eyes slowly. “Sunday?”

He was leaning over her, peering at her. “Yes. I have to attend the first service today. You're coming with me, right?”

“Eh?” Her brain was still in booting mode.

“My friend is doing a thanksgiving offering today for their first child. It's for the first service. We're almost late.”

“We? Late?” She sat upright. She stretched the whole length of her body with a loud yawn.
 
He stood up from the bed and looked at her. “Yes. It's almost seven, and the service starts at eight. If we don't start getting ready now, we would be late.”

“You didn't say anything yesterday?” That wasn't her problem. As she awoke fully, she understood what he was saying. He wanted her to go to church with him. She didn't know how to feel at the thought, but she was more worried at the fact that she hadn't come with any of her 'church clothes'.

“I forgot.” He rubbed his face. She could tell that he had also woken up a few minutes earlier. “But the church isn't so far from here, about five minutes ride, ten minutes with traffic.”

She came down from the bed and walked over to him, standing on her tiptoes to peck him, right where his scar was. “Good morning.”
 
“Don't mind me.” He returned her kiss with another on the crown of her head.

“Which church is it?” She walked to the bathroom. While she relieved herself, she wondered if the extra clothes she had brought with the anticipation of going on a date with him would be appropriate for a church service.

“It's a Catholic church. He said their service lasts for about an hour and half.” He had increased his voice so she could hear him.

She flushed the toilet and went to the sink to brush her teeth. “I don't think my clothes will do. I heard they are strict with dressing there.”

“I don't think it will matter much. We can stay outside. It's just for thanksgiving. We can leave after that.”

She spat out foamy paste into the sink and sighed. “Okay.” She had a hundred excuses in her head, but she decided to let it go, preferring to dwell on the fact that he was willing to invite her to join him for something like this. Maybe, just maybe, she smiled at herself in the mirror, she'd found her 'the one'.

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