Mrs Oteng did not appreciate the joke he’d turned her proposal into and frowned, first in confusion and then in annoyance.
“Kobby, it’s me Charlene. You know how I feel about you. Why are you treating me this way?”
He steeled himself to her words, cursing the stars that had connived for his consulting room nurse to spend longer than she usually did on her lunch break this afternoon. He had to control the situation, and fast.
“Charlene, okay let’s be serious for a minute. Have you suddenly forgotten your husband of 3 years and that I’m a married man now too? You know this line of conversation is totally inappropriate, right?”
She didn’t look fazed in the least.
“But what do they have to do with us?! You and me go way back to years before they both came into the picture. And you know my heart has never stopped beating for you since University.”
She had come around his desk now and was perched on the edge facing him. She’d gotten up and moved around too quickly for him to get out of the chair he was sitting in himself and move away, barely five minutes before this bizarre drama had started to unfold. Though the A/C was on full blast, he felt a cold sweat trickle down his back as he sat back, trying to appear as calm as he could while his mind raced with different permutations on how to get out of this prickly mess before it was too late.
Dr. Kwabena Akorful had honestly had enough at this point but the delicacy of their particular situation was not lost on him. All she had to do was to rip open her blouse and raise a shout and he would have his head on the block – first through the unforgiving media, but most painfully to his wife. He shoved the rising anger down and tried to reason with her again.
“Oh, is that the story you remember Charlene? I see you’ve managed to edit out the part where you left me for that guy – what’s his name sef, I don’t remember – when I asked you to wait for me to start my specialisation before we got married” He steepled his fingers. “Where is he nowadays, by the way?”
A brief look of embarrassment flitted across her face before she looked away momentarily. “Jerry is in London now. We weren’t a good fit after all.”
“Oh? I thought he was the one you married o. You know I didn’t even recognise your name when I received the patient cards? ‘Oteng’, is it?” He picked up the card on the table, momentarily pleased by the direction the conversation seemed to be taking now.
She tried to steer things back on course once more.
“All that’s beside the point. Do you remember that day after Third Year Final Semester exams, before we left campus, when we were strolling through the Royal Parade Grounds? Do you remember what you said to me?”
He did. And the resurfacing thought brought with itself a surprising amount of feeling – loss mostly, but including a few other more dangerous ones he decided not to investigate any further.
“I don’t remember,” he lied, shifting his coffee mug about on his table as he tried to ignore the woman still perched there.
“You’re lying, I don’t believe you. But in the off-chance that that’s true, let me remind you. You told me that I was the best thing to happen to you and you’d never ever find anyone close to me, even if we were to break up someday. You then said, ‘I love you, Charl. And then there was the first passionate kiss…,” she leaned closer and closer with a sultry look in her eyes now, “…and another, and-”
Dr. Akorful jumped out of his chair, backing away from Charlene.
“Herh!” he exclaimed. “What do you think you’re doing?!”
She fiddled with the top button of her blouse, popping it open with one hand as she hopped off the desk and stepped towards him again.
“I miss you Kobby. I just want to feel a little bit of what you used to make me feel back then. You remember how that stroll ended that night, don’t you?”
He sure did. He sent a silent prayer up in thanks for the melanin that darkened his skin, else she’d have seen him blush furiously just then.
“No, I don’t,” he lied again, hoping to contain the rapidly-worsening situation he was faced with.
“You really should know better than to lie to me, Kobby.” She stretched out a finger to lightly caress the lapel of his white coat. “I can see you still have the same tell when you’re being a bit less than totally truthful.”
He groaned inwardly.
“Fine, so maybe I do. But it doesn’t matter anymore, Charlene. I’m married and faithful to Joy, while you’re married to Mr. Whatshisname. We cannot be doing this! You should not be doing this!”
“Oh come off it, Kobby. Stop playing Mr. Goody Two-Shoes with me. Don’t you remember me? Charlene – your Ride or Die chick!”
“Maybe that was true once upon a time, but now we are nothing to each other – barely even acquaintances! Where did you crawl out from today koraa? Don’t you usually visit Dr. Okpoti’s Consulting room instead of mine?!” He instantly regretted saying that as she seized upon his comment triumphantly.
“Oh Kobby, so you’ve been keeping tabs on me too?! I’m soo flattered!”
He tried to regain some ground. “That’s beside the point – which is that you’re behaving improperly right now and making me uncomfortable. Please stop and return to your seat – or even better, leave so this bizarre episode can end. Please!”
He tried to sound forceful at the end but had to avoid raising his voice for fear someone outside might enter the Consulting room in response, bearing witness to an ambiguous scene his reputation and practice might not recover from.
“Oh, ‘Stop’? Stop what, Kobby? This?” She flirtatiously slipped the shoulders of her blouse off in a smooth motion, popping open the second button and further confounding the situation!
Kobby felt that cold sweat drip down his back once more as he saw his immediate options flash before him in an instant: Raise a shout finally and have people come in, only to be accused of attempted rape by Charlene; or succumb to her luscious invite and finally cheat on Joy, proving the dictum he’d never subscribed to of ‘all men cheat‘ and hurting his wife and family in the mix…
He would later admit to himself that the scariest thing about that incident was the manner in which he felt his body respond to her advances. His suddenly intense pumping heart and faster breathing, treacherously matched to the manner in which he felt his being rise in salute to the open invitation on display in front of him left no doubts in him of the very real and present danger he was in…from within also.
He then settled upon a spontaneous Hail Mary, Plan C.
“Okay, fine. You’ve got me. I remember you very well, Charlene.”
He steeled himself inwardly before taking a step towards her, right into her arms. He enveloped her in his own, sending up another silent prayer that no one would enter at just that moment. She gasped in surprise a split second before melting into him with a sigh. He waited a few seconds more before releasing her from his embrace, stepping back once more.
“So what do you want from me now, Mrs. Oteng?”
She took a deep breath of satisfaction.
“What I want Kobby, is simple really. I want you to help me experience what it means to be a real woman once more. Francis, my husband, travels frequently – like about 8 months a year, he’s out of the country – and even when he’s around, he barely touches me until I make the first move. I remember that that was never your problem even way back then. I want to remember how it felt to be wanted as a woman once more. I want you doctor, and I won’t be taking ‘no’ for an answer.”
He felt a deep feeling of regret at the comment she passed about him. It had been a mistake to start sleeping with her then and years after their breakup, when he’d finally gone straight(er) with God and gained some self-control over his feelings, he’d chalked that experience down as a major failure on his part. He could sense, however, that this volatile moment probably wasn’t the best moment to pour all that out to this desperately dangerous woman. He sighed.
“Were I to say ‘yes’ –“
“But you’ve got to!” she whined. “Or do you want me to beg, ‘cause I will.” She made as if to drop to her knees but he caught her before she could finish the action. Who knew what else she might come up with to do down there?!
“No, no begging. I just don’t want anything of the sort going on here. Y’all non-medical people watch too many dramas & movies, giving you all sorts of ideas about us and our consulting rooms, eh?”
He tried to make light of the conversation with a smile he hoped looked more sincere than he felt. “Apart from the discomfort and risk of infection from the examination couch, there’s always the risk of discovery even with locked doors – multiple key copies, remember?”
“Okay, fine. So what are you suggesting?”
He started covering her up once more with her blouse.
“I’m saying you should pick a place and time so if it’s good for me too, we can meet and we’ll see how things unfold.” He snapped shut the lower button first, hoping the special effort he was making not to touch her exposed chest wasn’t obvious, and then the last one, smoothing the silk blouse over her shoulders.
“Well, if you say so and really mean it, I’m game. I have your number,” she’d picked one of his complimentary cards lying on the desk (dammit) and waved it in his face before tucking it into her bra.
“Don’t stand me up, Kobby. Because I’ll be back. And you know how relentless I can be when I want something – in this case, you.”
He’d expected nothing less from her, actually being a bit surprised that he’d managed to convince her so easily…unless…that had been her plan already! He inwardly fumed at the realisation but had to doff his hat to the Machiavellian vixen in front of him – she’d played her cards masterfully, manipulating him to this point.
“Okay then. If that’ll be all, I’d say this has been a very interesting Consultation today. I’ll be expecting your call.”
He strode to the door to usher her out.
“Wait a minute, Kobby. I need a deposit before I go.”
His heart sank, though he’d been half-expecting it. He turned to her to protest or make up some means of getting out of this predicament too but was not given that opportunity this time. She’d been much closer than he’d realised and right in the split second he’d made the turn to face her, her lips were planted on his!
She jumped back a second later, giggling as he backed away stunned.
“Forget me not.” With that, she stepped out of the office with a mischievous smile on her face.
He glanced at a clock on his desk after wearily collapsing into his chair: 3:21pm. It had been just 15 or so minutes but it felt like hours.
The relief he felt now, though, was more than balanced by a robust volume of dread for 2 reasons. First, he knew that Charlene would stay true to her word and not give up until she had what she wanted. He also knew that there was more than a mere likelihood that this one time tryst would turn into a full-blown affair – it was practically a certainty. And this was further reinforced by the second reason which scared him far more than the first: he’d liked it.
Dr. Akorful cradled his head in his hands.
Ewurade bɛgye steer no…
[To be continued]
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