Dalia looked at her friend and immediately felt moisture on her face. The face she knew all too well stared back at her with a scared expression. Ese, typically a petite lady with stunning dark complexion and charming dimples, was usually reserved and only spoke up when she was with close friends. However, the frightened expression on Ese's face told a different story. One of her eyes had a blood clot, while the other was visibly swollen, likely from crying. Although Ese's attention returned to her food, tears continued to stream down her cheeks and onto her plate. Ada quickly rushed over and embraced her, while Kerri remained frozen in her seat. Upon seeing Dalia's tears and feeling her trembling body, Mikky also began to cry.
"I'm fine, really," Ese said, facing Ada. "I had a slight accident in the village, but I'm fine." She turned to address the others. "Dee, please, it's not that deep."
"No, no way," Dalia chimed in as she got up to pacify Mikky. She chuckled sarcastically.
"Dee, it was an accident," Ese reassured once again.
"So why are you crying?" Kerri interjected. "Hmm? Why? Ese, you better fess up now! What happened this time?" Kerri's voice raised slightly.
Ada signaled with her hands for everyone to lower their voices. "Guys, please, let's calm down. Ese, talk to us. This has him written all over it. What happened?" Ada said softly. Ese broke down in silent, heartbreaking tears. This made Dalia cry even more, while Kerri rushed to hug Ese.
After Ese had calmed down, she reached for a napkin on the table and gently dabbed at her injured eyes. "I apologize for springing this on you guys," Ese explained.
"Babe, if you don't share it with us, who will you share it with? Come on now, what really happened?" Ada spoke softly while rubbing Ese's back. Kerri and Dalia nodded in agreement.
"To be honest, I wanted to end things, so I went over to his place, we got into an argument..." She stopped to compose herself before continuing. "But It's okay now." She paused again. "I actually, I never went on the village trip. I just couldn't bring myself to tell you guys."
"Amidst all of this, why are you still together instead of breaking up?" Dalia inquired.
"He took me to the hospital and promised he would never do it again, he really won't!" Ese hastily added, anticipating any objections. "I know he loves me, you wouldn't understand. He asked for my forgiveness and proposed to me, and I accepted," she continued. Kerri and Dalia exchanged a glance, their unspoken thoughts intermingling.
“Listen, we love you, okay? I love you," Dalia paused to contain her impending tears. "Ese, you're smarter than..."
"Yes, we love you, and no matter what choice you make, know that we will support you," Ada interjected, giving Dalia a meaningful look just before she could finish her sentence.
Kerri stated after a moment. "Ese, I love you, how do you expect us to sit back and watch you walk into a dangerous situation, if this guy has this level of anger in him, what’s to say he doesn’t do worse next time."
"Ada, look into her eyes! Look at Ese, no! There should not be a wedding. Ese, you cannot marry this abuser na!" Kerri's eyes were visibly red.
Ese looked to Dalia and Ada for support, but Dalia avoided saying anything by directing her attention to Mikky in her arms. Although everyone acknowledged that Kerri made a valid point, they chose not to contribute or detract from it.
As the waiter walked by, Ese motioned for the check while adjusting her glasses.
“K, Yes, Ken made a mistake, as people sometimes do. He apologized, and I accept that. What I need now is just support ehn?" Ese finally spoke up.
“Does your brother know Kennedy hits you?” Kerri inquired
“Kennedy does not hit me, it happened just this one time, and this is why I did not want to say anything about this, guys like I said before it’s no big deal!
“Alright, it’s no big deal abi?, ok, we have heard, K, please drop it” Dalia said. She was feeling drained already, what a brunch! “Babes, I need to start heading home, Nnamdi is coming to drop cloth for me and I don’t want his wahala if he misses me this time.” She addressed Ada who nodded and reach to collect Mikky who was drooling in his sleep already.
"I'll come to your place. I'm not ready to go back home," Kerri said to Dalia as they gathered their things to leave. Ese, clearly done eating her food, was spoken to by Ada as they prepared to leave.
"I want you to know that we love you unconditionally. If this is the decision you want to make, we will support you and be here for you in every way," Ada said, looking around the room. Dalia and Kerri, known for their hot-headedness in the friend group, nodded in agreement involuntarily.
"Thank you, babes," Ese responded, sounding calmer now. She looked at everyone else and smiled through her glasses. "Thank you." Dalia went over to her and hugged her, with Kerri joining in.
As soon as she entered her apartment, she headed straight to the kitchen to drop off the takeaway pack and left the door unlocked for Kerri. Once she had done that, she made her way to the bedroom to change out of her jumpsuit. However, she was interrupted midway by her phone. She returned to the living room to retrieve her phone from her bag and, upon seeing the screen, a spontaneous smile lit up her face. It was Emeka calling.
"Hey you," she answered with a smile, finding a cozy position on her bean bag. Just then, Kerri also entered the living room.
"Hi, how are you?" Emeka replied on the other end of the line,
"I'm good, just got home from brunch actually."
"Oh, nice. I am having lunch with a client near your house and wanted to check up on you, did you go to church?"
“Yes I did, I went for my brunch from there”
While Dalia was engaged in a phone call, she casually flipped through the TV channels. However, her attention kept drifting towards Kerri, who eventually got up and headed to her room. Twenty minutes later, Dalia returned wearing shorts and a one-shoulder top. Sensing curiosity from Kerri, she settled back into a bean bag and sighed before explaining, "I'm actually planning to go out, but not right now. It'll be in the evening."
Kerri perked up, her eyes shimmering with excitement, and asked, "Oh, really? Tell me more, Dee!"
Dalia continued, "Remember Emeka, the guy I went out with yesterday? He wants us to go for an evening drive by the waterside."
Kerri sat up straight, unable to contain her enthusiasm. "Now that's the kind of gossip I love, Dee! But aren't you going to change out of that outfit?"
"What's wrong with this?!" Dalia exclaimed.
"Nothing, if you're cleaning your house on a Saturday morning instead of going on a second date with a potential hunk!"
Dalia corrected her as she stood up, "It's not a date, it's just a drive."
"That's what you think," Kerri retorted, but their conversation was interrupted by the sound of the doorbell.
"That's Nnamdi," Dalia remarked, heading towards the door. Sensing Kerri's tension, she brushed it aside.
"The bestest bro!" Dalia hailed as she opened the door, aware that Nnamdi wasn't particularly happy about having to return and drop off the cloth a second time.
"Scope" he replied coolly, entering the room and handing over the bag to Dalia.
“Thank you, you are my hero, I did not want to face mummy” she said, throwing it on the couch.
Kerri stood up, staring at both of them. “Hi Nnamdi” Kerri greeted Nnamdi rather shyly.
Dalia noted this in surprise, this was so unlike Kerri who was usually bold.
“Hi K” He replied
K, what on earth is this about? Dalia thought in her head.
“Hi” Kerri repeated in a small voice
“Brother, thank you” Dalia said trying to breaking them out of the tension.
Nnamdi nodded, a small smile gracing his lips. He then turned his attention to Kerri, asking her how she was doing. Dalia, feeling a sense of unease, gathered the material he had just brought and headed towards her room. Although she couldn't pinpoint the cause, she could sense the tension lingering between Kerri and her brother. When Dalia returned to the sitting room, Nnamdi informed her that he was leaving and made his way to the door. This confirmation solidified Dalia's suspicions that something indeed was going on.
"Alright, spill!" Dalia exclaimed, turning to Kerri after locking the door behind Nnamdi. "What was all that about?"
"What do you mean?" Kerri responded, attempting to redirect the conversation. "Let's go and pick out a better top for you." she walked towards the room.
Unyielding, Dalia grabbed Kerri by the arm and insisted, "Not until you tell me what's happening between you and my brother, K! Don't tell me you have feelings for him."
The expression on Kerri's face contradicted Dalia's assumption.