Dele stared with disbelief at the newcomer. He had almost choked on his beer when their eyes met. What the fuck was Tunde doing here?
“Hey, Tunde!” hollered Kola when he spotted his colleague and bustled over to hug him. “Aww, you shouldn’t have,” he said as Tunde, with a shaky smile, handed him the card and bottle of wine. He was still rattled by the sight of Dele on the other side of the room.
“Oh good, there’s someone I want you to meet,” Kola suddenly burst out before shepherding Tunde toward where Dele stood.
Dele watched as the two men approached. He wasn’t sure how to react. He wanted to remain stony and maybe a bit cold, but he also just wanted to pull Tunde in a fierce hug. Since he deleted him online, he had missed him terribly, but his pride had been too hurt for him to reconnect with him. Tunde calling him a fag were words that stung him more than usual, because they came from someone he was falling for, and he had reflexively retreated into his shell.
Kola began once they came close to Dele. “Tunde, meet my brother –”
“Dele,” Tunde said.
“Tunde,” Dele replied a bit curtly. His eyes searched Tunde’s face for something. He wasn’t sure what it was, but something nonetheless.
“You two know each other?” Kola said with his eyes wide open, and Dele could see that curiosity that was second nature to his brother begin to creep into his eyes. The same curiosity that had made him chew sand as a baby, and made him ask their father why he loved alcohol more than them when he was twelve, making the man whoop the hell out of him.
“Yes, we do,” Dele said simply, proffering nothing more.
Kola laughed at that. Kola laughed a lot when he was tipsy. Loud and booming. He usually fell asleep before he could get full-on drunk, so Dele wasn’t too worried that his brother’s mouth would loosen and start to spill out secrets.
“Dele, please could we talk somewhere,” Tunde said.
Dele nodded stiffly, and wordlessly, he headed toward to the corridor that led to the different rooms of the house, leaving Tunde to follow behind him.
“You’re Kola’s brother, huh?” Tunde said, as soon as they were out of earshot of the other guests.
Dele nodded slowly. Tunde wondered why he hadn’t seen the resemblance sooner. Maybe because Kola’s eyes weren’t as beautiful as the ones he was looking at.
“What did you want to talk about? Or you want to remind me what an abominable fag I am,” Dele said cuttingly, and Tunde saw his eyes go cold.
He recoiled slightly. “It’s not like that, Dele,” he said protestingly. “I didn’t mean any word of what I said. I’m gay too, but I just wanted to tease you a bit. I took it too far. I’m so sorry. I should have known how bad it is to call someone a fag. I tried to reach you after you deleted me. I even started looking for you at the mall we met, but I couldn’t find you, and I felt so bad, and I missed you a lot. I shouldn’t have said what I said, jokingly or not. I’m such an idiot.” Tunde had been looking down the whole time he was talking, but at that point, he looked up at Dele’s face, hoping to see understanding there. Dele’s gaze was still stony, and Tunde gave a sigh. He had tried.
“Well, I’m sorry.” And he turned to leave, but Dele grabbed his arm and pulled him close to his chest and gave him a very tight hug. Tunde relaxed into the embrace, inhaling deeply. Dele smelled like sweat and coconuts. The clean smell of the beach. He inhaled again, realizing he was going to get addicted to that smell.
Dele broke the embrace, and then he took Tunde’s face in his hands, before gently leaning down to kiss him. A soft, short kiss, and Tunde felt his knees go a bit weak.
“I missed you, too,” Dele breathed. His face had softened. Then he chuckled, “Sorry about the alcoholic breath, but I’ve been wanting to do that to you for ages.”
Tunde was a tad bit dizzy from the rush of blood to his head, and all he could manage was a shake of his head. He didn’t trust himself to speak.
“Aaaawn, that’s so sweet!” A female voice cut in, and both of them pulled back from each other, turning around to see a beautifully curvaceous female silhouette leaning on the door frame. The owner of the form then said as she approached them, “Now, if you too lovebirds are done, I would like to use to the bathroom.”
Dele breathed a sigh of relief. “Don’t scare me like that, Angie,” he said.
Angie giggled as she went past them, through the doorway they’d been leaning against.
Dele led Tunde out of the corridor, telling him not to worry about the woman; Angie was a good friend. He felt heady and it wasn’t from the beer.
They spent the rest of the party together. Not close like in the corridor, but close enough. Dele couldn’t help it. He always found his eyes drifting toward the man on his side, and they’d exchange winks and small smiles and little brushes of their fingers against their skin.
Soon, it was time to leave. Too soon to leave. And Dele asked Tunde as he leaned against his car window if they could see sometime soon. Maybe the next day. Tunde laughed and said he’d think about it. Dele pouted and Tunde laughed some more.
“Of course, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Tunde said, tugging lightly at Dele’s cheek.
Dele smiled. “I will pick you up at your place. We will go have dinner somewhere.”
“Ooooh! A date,” Tunde said with obvious delight.
“You could call it that,” Dele conceded, and then murmured, “I so want to kiss you right now.”
“Don’t you dare!” Tunde said with exaggerated horror, and Dele laughed. “I really have to go,” Tunde said and Dele stood back to let him drive out. He stood at the gate until Tunde’s car disappeared from view before turning back inside, bracing himself to answer Kola’s barrage of questions, which were sure to come.
As Tunde drove home, he started to realise with a small unsettling feeling in his stomach that he might just be falling in love. But he wasn’t worried. He wasn’t too worried. Not yet. He was still tipsy.
Written by James