“Papa who are you referring to? Is it the guy you met in Church?” I asked feigning ignorance. “No the one sitting in front of my House like he owns it,” my father said jokingly laughing. At this time the car came to a halt in front of Dennis and he rose to greet my Dad. “Good morning and happy birthday to you Sir. My name is Dennis and I am Tobs friend,” he said shaking my father’s extended hand.
“Good grip shows strength of character. So you are also ‘my daughter’s friend,” my father said in amusement giving me an impish smile. “Hello Princess, you look very beautiful,” Dennis said kissing my hand before I could stop him as I stood shell shocked at his effrontery. My father smiled, invited him in for a few minutes while informing him that he had to be at the Reception and inviting Dennis to join us. I made an attempt to intervene informing my Dad that Dennis would not be able to make the Reception but Dennis cut me short, disagreeing vigorously. “Sir I am honoured, of course I will join you, if Tobs has no objections,” he said blandly turning the tables on me, his play on words not lost on me or my father and anything but innocent. When my father excused himself and went to his room to pick what he forgot at home, I rounded up on Dennis. “So what are you doing here?” I spat out the question, my stance hostile and unfriendly. “Are you seriously angry with me Tobs and here I am thinking you will be ecstatic to see me,” he said with boyish charm. I felt like stamping my foot on the ground in frustration. These guys (Rick and Dennis) want me to lose my mind; I am convinced I muttered to myself angrily. “I did not invite you Dennis, so why are you here?” I asked the velvet gloves coming off as I threw caution to the wind and went on the attack. “Well done Counsel, I applaud your direct approach and so I will also be direct. It’s impossible to be around you or anyone close to you without hearing about the epic event of the decade Chief S.W Anaughe’s Birthday also known as ‘Papa’s Birthday’. I knew you were not going to invite me so I invited myself, after all the whole of Lagos is in attendance. Can I get down now from the Witness stand? Hope we are done with the interrogation Counsel but if you have additional questions for me, I am game,” Dennis said looking at me earnestly. “No more questions for now,” I said wearily. I wasn’t going to win an argument with Dennis, at least not today. As Lawyers a lot of people think we enjoy sparring with each other outside the Courtroom but frankly speaking it is exhausting. My father came out shortly after and we all drove in a convoy to the Reception. The girls had taken a table for themselves close to where my father and the high chiefs sat and as we walked past my eyes collided with Rick, I saw him stiffen and then relax the minute he saw Dennis. I hope there will be no drama, I ruminated in unease. The two men respected themselves and avoided each other like a plague; that works for me. I
f only they will bundle themselves back to Lagos just the way they came to my hometown. Wishful thinking, right? They were both stubborn like mules. It wasn’t easy avoiding two men who were determined to make certain I did not forget their presence. After the beautiful Reception, I went back home with my father. “Tobs, there are two gentlemen waiting to see you; one in the sitting room, the other in the courtyard. What’s going on? They also asked to see Papa, Suitors?” Grace my cousin asked, smiling mischievously when she came to inform me of Rick and Dennis’s presence. Which kin wahala be this? Is it by force? I contemplated bitterly. Dennis and Rick sat opposite each other in the expansive sitting room; like two bull dogs spoiling for a fight.