Previously on Down Low

*

Timilehin Sonaike glanced anxiously at the whimsical mouse-shaped wall clock that had been a gift to Ronke Quadri from one of her patients. Ironically, it was the same Ronke that Timilehin was keeping a vigil for, clutching her bathrobe around her slender neck and intermittently pacing the spacious living room of the loft apartment that she, Ronke and their dear friend Liliana all shared.

It was almost midnight now, and Ronke hadn’t gotten back home. She had also not been picking her calls or responding to her messages. Granted, Ronke was on a date, but still, utter silence was not normal. At least Ronke should have buzzed just to let Timilehin know that she was OK.

A door slammed shut somewhere in the apartment, and moments later, Liliana stalked into the living room, a half empty wine glass in one hand and a completely empty bottle of chardonnay in the other.

“You’re waiting up for Ronke again?” Liliana asked, her speech just a little bit slurred.

“You’re getting yourself drunk again?” Timilehin retorted, approaching Liliana and attempting to wrest the wine glass from her grasp. “You should stop this self destructive behaviour, hon. It’s not helping.”

Liliana jerked away from Timilehin and gracefully avoided Timilehin’s long grasping arms. “I could say the same for you,” she replied. “Your self-destructive behaviour is not helping anybody.”

Timilehin clutched her bathrobe tighter around her neck, as she suddenly found it hard to breathe. “What is this one saying? You’re drunk. Drop the wine, Lili, please.”

“You know very well what I’m saying, baby girl,” Liliana drawled, plopping down unto a chaise lounge, and taking a large gulp from her wine glass.

Before Timilehin could frame a clever or coherent reply, the front door clicked open. She spun around, her breath catching in her throat as Ronke let herself into the apartment. The woman had a small smile on her lips and a dreamy expression on her face, one which faded into mild surprise as she saw her two roommates who were apparently up because of her. She flashed them a brilliant smile, and Liliana waved at her. Timilehin stood, feeling butterflies ran amok inside her.

“Well, it’s awfully sweet of you girls to wait up for me, but it really isn’t necessary.”

“It was all Timilehin’s idea,” Liliana said, taking another sip of wine and giving Timilehin a coy look. “You know this one is carrying a torch for you.”

Ronke laughed nervously while Timilehin shot Liliana a look that could have melted steel. The latter simply smiled serenely and continued sipping her wine.

“Darling, Timi is simply concerned for my well being,” Ronke said to Liliana as she moved over to Timilehin and enveloped her in a hug.

Timilehin closed her eyes, temporarily losing herself in the warmth of her friend’s embrace, the feel of her thick curves in her arms, the softness of her cocoa skin and the scent of her lush weave. A strange scent brought Timilehin back to her senses; a faint citrus scent with woody undertones – unfamiliar, alien, masculine.

Timilehin pulled away and gave Ronke a stern look.

“Of course I should be concerned if you, my best friend, is still outside by this hour in this dangerous city with a man we barely know.”

Ronke rolled her eyes. “This is my third date with Gozie, and I have known him for almost two months. I’d say I know him well enough to know he isn’t an axe murderer.”

“But I don’t know him. I haven’t met him, and I don’t know his intentions towards you.”

Liliana giggled. “Oshey mother hen. To be fair, we should probably worry about Ronke’s intentions towards him. We all know how quickly she goes through men, the little whore.”

Ronke and Liliana burst into laughter, but Timilehin frowned. She didn’t like thinking about Ronke with men – or with anyone for that matter. Her only comfort was that none of them ever lasted, except for Hakeem, Ronke’s first, the only one Timilehin had approved of, rest his dear soul.

“You, my dear friend, are drunk as hell,” Ronke retorted to Liliana, taking in the empty wine bottle and the now empty glass.

“I doubt it. It’s just been a bottle. I may be tipsy at best,” Liliana said, gazing longingly at her empty glass.

“Mmhmm, just a bottle which you drained all by yourself, with you weighing less than the paperweight on my office desk.”

Liliana crowed with laughter. “You bitch! We can’t all be BBW please!”

“No one was asking you to be,” Ronke said with an indulgent smile. “The point is, you are drunk and it’s time to get you to bed. Now get up!”

Liliana protested feebly, as the bigger and heavier Ronke pulled her to her feet, and the two of them tottered towards the rooms.

“Goodnight Timi love,” Ronke called out.”Thanks for always worrying about me.”

Timilehin smiled wanly back at her. “Goodnight Dr. Quadri. Hope you had a nice date, and I hope that next time, if you are staying out this late, I’d be informed?”

Ronke and Liliana both laughed.

“Yes ma, even though the term ‘this late’ has to be defined,” Ronke replied and the dreamy expression returned to her face. “And yes, I had an amazing time with Gozie. Almost too amazing…” She stopped to frown slightly, but the expression quickly disappeared. “I’ll gist you guys tomorrow. Night-night.”

Her two roommates disappeared up the stairs and Timilehin inhaled deeply. Safe. Her love was safe and back home with her.

Oh, Ronke, will you ever know how important you are in my life? She thought in despair. Will you ever know how much you mean to me? Will you even care?

Written by Santa Diaba

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