Previously on Down Low

*

For what seemed like the millionth time, Martin rubbed his eyes. The excel spreadsheet was beginning to blur in his vision more and more, and make less sense as the minutes ticked by. He glanced at the time displayed at the bottom corner of his monitor screen and groaned inwardly. 10:30pm and he still had not finished the financial model he was working on. The investment report that needed the model as an input was due on Monday, and today was Friday. He was dead.

Martin Okorie, you are a pot of beans in human flesh, Martin groaned to himself, ripping his glasses off his face and burying his face in his palms to let out a small scream of frustration.

“I hope all is well,” a deep voice said, seemingly out of nowhere.

Martin sharply lifted his face from his palms and blinked blearily at the tall, broad but hazy figure of Emeka Udego standing in front of his work station. He hurriedly put his glasses on and the figure of his superior became clearer and infinitely more delicious.

“Good evening, sir! I didn’t think anyone else was around…” he said, flustered.

“Neither did I, and least of all you. Has it been up to a month since you got hired?” Emeka asked. There was a slight furrow in his brow.

“Um, no sir… I will be a month here by next week.”

“Have you completed the training plan drawn out for you?” the man asked, the furrow getting deeper.

“Erm, well, somehow…I am doing more learning as I go about the job you see, not necessarily according to the training plan.”

Emeka did not seem pleased by that reply. “Whose team are you on?”

“Mrs. Iyamu’s team, sir – the research team,” Martin said, as he felt a slight headache threatening to bloom in his right temple. This kind of interrogation this night?! He was not here for this, no matter how hot the interrogator looked, with his shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbows and a few top buttons of his shirt undone.

“Listen up, my good man,” his boss began sternly, “you are on a team. Whatever you are working on should be a team effort and shouldn’t be left up to only you, the newest member of the team! This is unacceptable and will be addressed at the departmental meeting on Monday morning.”

“B-but, it’s okay, really! I’m learning a lot and proving myself as a valuable member of my team!” Martin protested.

Emeka scoffed. “Bullshit. Now, save your work and lock up shop. You’re a young man and it is Friday night.” He paused, and then a wide smile broke across his face.

Upon the glorious sight, Martin felt his insides liquefy.

“Actually,” Emeka went on, “we are both young men and it’s Friday night. How about I take you out for a couple of drinks?”

Martin blinked several times before responding, “Hmmm?”

Emeka laughed. “I wouldn’t say no to my boss’s boss if I were you.”

Martin laughed nervously. “Alright then, since I apparently have no other choice than to say yes.”

His boss’s boss grinned. “Smart man! I’ll be waiting for you in the car park. Don’t look so panicked, jeez! I don’t bite. In fact, something tells me that we will get to know each other pretty well after tonight.”

Then he winked at Martin before heading for the elevators.

***

They moved gracefully together, their bodies twisting, turning and sliding against each other in time to the energetic merengue beat. She spun away from him, and his long arms whipped out, snatched her by her slender waist and drew her back against his chest. She grinned seductively and wrapped her left leg around his waist as the music hit a crescendo, and he proceeded to spin them both across the lacquered wooden floor, ending in a graceful dip as the music came to an end. Hazel-green eyes stared into brown eyes as their breaths came in short bursts. Several sounds of applause and cries of admiration and encouragement brought them back to the present, and Siji straightened up, while Liliana slid out of his embrace.

“Bravo guys!” Ricardo gushed. He was the instructor of the aerobics dance class that Siji, Martin and now Liliana attended every Saturday morning. “The two of you move so well together.”

Liliana and Siji both grinned and bowed, their movements almost synchronized.

Ricardo shook his head in amazement. “The two of you have insane chemistry, I must say!”

“We get that a lot,” Liliana replied, her arms around Siji’s waist as he bent to place a kiss on her nose.

Ricardo proceeded to speak to other class members, and Liliana decided to take a selfie with Siji for her Instagram account in favour of the prevarication they’d decided to perpetuate, as more social media coverage of their relationship would make it more convincing. They took several pictures in different poses and with different expressions, laughing as they looked over the results.

“Better upload the one I look hot in o,” Siji warned.

“Who cares about you? I’m not selling your market on my Instagram please!” Liliana retorted.

“Okay everyone, that’s it for today!” Ricardo announced from the centre of the room. “I will see you all next week, and we would be doing the waltz.”

“Oooh! I love the waltz!” Siji enthused.

“Ugh, you’re so gay,” Liliana sniped at him in a laughing whisper.

“Why, pot, is that you?” he rejoined, and Liliana laughed.

They proceeded to gather their things and head for the exit. Liliana had bridesmaid dress fittings and lunch with Adaora, the reluctant bride, while Siji wanted to hit the gym for a more intense workout. Dancing was fun and got the blood flowing, but it wasn’t the same as pumping iron.

“Siji! One moment please, before you leave!” Ricardo called out, jogging over to the couple as they strolled across the studio’s small compound. “I was just wondering why Martin didn’t show up today. I hope he’s fine?”

“He’s probably exhausted from working late,” Siji said.

“Well, if you get in touch with him before me, let him know I missed him today, okay?” Ricardo said, looking slightly bashful. “He’s one of my best dancers.”

“Of course,” Siji replied, trying not to smirk. “See you next week.”

As Siji and Liliana both exited the building, Siji dialled Martin’s number, as all his BBM messages were still unanswered. There was no response to the call. His brow furrowed with mild concern as he wondered what was up with his friend.

Written by Santa Diaba

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