Tomi pretended to be thinking for a while. She was actually thrilled. ‘Sounds interesting,’ she said.
Mak smile widely, ‘How do you feel about firsts?’
‘Firsts?’ Tomi was confused.
‘When last did you do something for the first time?’ Mak asked.
Tomi shrugged, ‘I don’t know.’
‘You know what, why don’t we take a cab, stop at my hotel, drop our boxes and then go do something completely out of plan, something unusual? ‘For me, this will be my first time of meeting a girl that picked up my bag by mistake and spending the evening with her instead of going to hang out with my buddies as planned.’’
Tomi liked the idea but she was a bit wary. With the stories of girls getting abducted by strange men and being led to their doom by friendly strangers on facebook, she knew she had to be cautious but Mak looked completely harmless.
‘Don’t worry, I don’t bite,’ Mike chuckled. ‘You need to see your face right now. We’re just dropping our boxes in my room so that we don’t have to slug them around. Besides, I’m famished. Don’t you want to get something to eat?’
‘Ok, I guess I should trust you,’ Tomi smiled. She was already excited at the prospect of spending time with him plus she was more than famished too.’
Mak took his time selecting cabs until he found a neat one with functional air-conditioner and a courteous driver. He gave the address of the hotel to the cab man and they both relaxed in the back seat. They arrived at the hotel in ten minutes. Mak had chosen a hotel close to the airport so that he could get to the airport on time the next day. Tomi walked up to the reception with him, admiring the tastefully furnished hotel. Having a keen interest in interior decoration herself, Tomi could always spot a good job. She also wondered how much the tariff for a night there would be. ‘Probably enough to settle the cab man’s bills for the month,’ She thought to herself.
In a few minutes, Mak was done. He went up to his room with the porter and after keeping their boxes in the room returned to meet Tomi who was waiting for him in the lobby. They went back into the taxi and Mak told him the name of the restaurant they were going to. The taxi man seemed to know the place. While Mak was answering a phone call, Tomi was reminiscing about the events of the past few hours. Mak seemed like the perfect gentleman. He held open the car door for her to get into the car, he listened to her whenever she had something to say, he made her feel safe around him, he was considerate and charming.
Mark ended the call and turned to smile at Tomi. ‘I’m really glad I met you today. My evening would have been perfectly boring.’
Tomi just smiled and shrugged. She didn’t want to seem too excited but she could hardly control those little butterflies fluttering in her insides.
They arrived at the restaurant in less than thirty minutes. Again, he held the door open for her and gently led her inside the posh place. It was owned and manned by Indians. Tomi had never been in a place that grand and hoped she wouldn’t do something improper and embarrass herself. Mak took charge of everything. Although he had never been to that particular restaurant, he had been to a similar place before so he had an idea of the best things to order. She ate something called ‘Fish Masala’ with ‘Basmati Rice Pulao’. The waiter explained that it was pearl white rice sautéed and flavoured with spices and boneless fish. It was quite a feast for Tomi who was eating her main meal for the day.
Tomi would later say that it was the best first date she’d ever had. The meals were so delicious and the glass of red wine she drank made her feel giddy. They talked like school children. Tomi discovered that Mak was very good natured and humble. Sometimes he would laugh so much that tears glistened his eyes. She was surprised to hear that he enjoyed horror movies just as much as she did.
‘My best scary movie is ‘Saw’. I know they say it’s not that scary but I thoroughly enjoyed it.’ Mak said.
Tomi nodded vigorously. ‘I haven’t seen any other movie that was as scary as ‘Saw.’ Most of the horror movies they make these days are so predictable.’
On and on the evening went until Tomi glanced at her watch and realized that it was almost 8pm. ‘Oh my God! I totally lost track of time. I should call my brother now so he can pick me up.’ Mak didn’t look happy but he simply shrugged. Obioha answered the call at the third ring. ‘Tomi, how are you doing?’
‘I’m fine, Obii. Guess what?’ Tomi said in excitement.
‘I’m in Lagos. I wanted to surprise you.’
There was a short pause before Obioha said, ‘Really? Oh, I wish you had called me earlier. We’re not at home right now. Maggie and I are at her parents’ place in Ibadan. She received a call from home earlier today that her sister had an accident. Her car was hit by a trailer on her way to work in the morning. Maggie was so anxious that we had to rush down here this evening.’
‘Ewo! I’m so sorry, Obii. Is she okay?’ Tomi was worried.
‘Well, she passed away shortly after arriving at the hospital. It’s really sad.’ Obioha sounded very low.
Tomi could only imagine how Maggie was feeling that moment. ‘Can I talk to Maggie?’ Tomi asked.
‘She’s still in shock. She’s been crying since we got here. I’ve had to watch William myself.’ Obioha said. Tomi wondered how the baby was faring. ‘Tomi, you’re going to have to find somewhere to stay tonight. You can call one of your friends or stay with Aunty Jenny. I’ll be back to Lagos in the morning because I have to work tomorrow. Maggie will be here with William for till the end of the week.’
‘Ok, I will. Please take care of yourself and extend my condolence to Maggie.’ After Tomi ended the call, her mind began to work like a clock. She had to figure out a place to stay that night. She wished she hadn’t come without informing her brother first. She wished…
‘Tomi are you alright?’ Mak was touching her hand slightly. In those few minutes of hearing about the tragedy that befell her sister-in-law, Tomi had forgotten about the chance encounter that had brought her in contact with Mak.
‘Yes, I’m fine. I’m just a bit shaken after the bad news I got from my brother.’ Tomi said.
‘I’m sorry about that. I could tell it was bad news from your reaction. What happened?’ Mak inquired.
Tomi told him about the accident and the fact that she had to find an alternative place to spend the night until her brother’s return the next morning.
Mak’s face seemed to light up at that. ‘That’s easy, you can stay with me tonight!’ He said.
To be continued…
NB: Watch out for the concluding part of To be a Side Chic… ‘You don’t rush a delicious meal!’
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