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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
Thanks for the update ma’am
Keeps getting interesting
I'm glad you're enjoying it.

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

“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.


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

Thanks for the update

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Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by PrudySara(f): 2:14pm On Mar 31
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
Thanks for the update

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

“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.

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

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

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

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.”

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

“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.”


“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.


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

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

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

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.

1 Like

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

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.

1 Like

Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by PrudySara(f): 3:34pm On Apr 12
Wow... Updates back to back. Thanks OP
Re: Ruby's Search For Romance by Ann2012(f): 9:46pm On Apr 12
Thanks for the updates OP kiss

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