Read Chapter 28 here
I stopped abruptly at the door of the dimly lit restaurant. So, this was why Bola had insisted on picking out the restaurant, I shook my head, returning her grin with one of my own.
“We got you, didn’t we?” Omololu whispered in my ears, chuckling and certainly feeling good about it. I looked back at him and smiled. They did get me.
I scanned the scene as I walked forward slowly. The restaurant was beautiful, but even more beautiful were the grinning faces that surrounded me. The ‘Happy birthday song’ rented the room, everyone grinning and staring at me as if to gauge my reaction. I didn’t know what to say, but I hoped my gobsmacked expression, and misty eyes showed clearly how I felt.
“This shocked expression suits you and made my whole day,” Bola said, grinning proudly, as she leaned in to hug me.
“Thank you, I’m… I’m… this is great,” I stuttered, at a loss for the right words to say.
“I know, I know,” She said squeezing my hands. “And we caught your expression on camera,” She added, pointing towards her husband.
“Happy birthday Teni,” He said, grinning, and waving his phone at me. “She insisted I must catch every emotion, so she can watch it any time she questions if she has ever done any good in this world.”
“I won’t even say anything to that,” I shook my head, amused yet grateful for her friendship.
“And my sisters-in-law are here,” Bola whispered, nodding her head in the direction of two ladies chatting with Omololu’s friends. “Yeah, I introduced them as soon as we got here,” She said before I could ask any question.
I laughed at her silliness, wondering how she recognized Omololu’s friends. She had never met them, so it beats me how she not only recognize them but also introduced herself and her sisters-in-law to them.
“Let’s go say hi to the guys,” I heard Omololu say behind me, nudging me towards his friends.
“You didn’t forget at all, did you?” I asked as we walk forward hand in hand, stopping to greet everyone on our path. “You were just playing along when I reminded you.”
“Yeap. I couldn’t have forgotten, not with my phone reminders and Bola,” He chuckled. “I know I can get consumed by work and forget things, so, I very smartly marked them on my phone calendar just in case my brain fails me.”
“Thank you,” I said, my voice cracking. “This made my year, babe.”
“I’m glad,” He simply said, lifting my hand to his lips. “I’m glad.”
The dinner was going beautifully well. It was a casual gathering of friends, just like I wanted it, only bigger. I sat back, filled with food, and scanned the warm, cheerful scene around me. Everyone was relaxed, conversations and laughter flowed easily. I sighed suddenly realizing that this was the happiest I have been in weeks.
“Babe,” I whispered, catching Omololu’s attention. “Any idea how Bola knew your friends?” I nodded towards the end of the table where she was chatting with them across the table.
“She insisted on seeing their pictures when we met to discuss this party. Something about getting to know the guests, I think. Why do you ask?”
I grinned, typical Bola. “Your friends have no idea what hit them today. Bola is matchmaking.”
“Really?” He said his eyes lit up in mischief. Bringing out his phone, he continued as he typed, “We all need to settle down anyways. I better text and warn her not to bother with Tosin, man is already hooked. But Dave and Kayode are up for grabs.”
“What a friend you are,” I grinned, slapping his thigh.
“Attention everyone,” Bola hit her wine glass, standing and immediately silencing the table.
“We are all here to celebrate my best friend, Teni, but I thought it wise to also remind her that she can no longer use ‘I’m in her 20’s’ as an excuse for anything,” She turned to wink at me, as everyone laughed around us. “Teni is hands down one of the best persons I know, and I’m glad to be able to do this for her.”
Omololu suddenly coughed beside me, interrupting Bola.
“Okay, okay” Bola rolled her eyes dramatically. “Omololu helped a tiny bit,” She laughed. “He didn’t even question me, I just gave him the bill, and he paid. He’s a good one Teni, let’s keep him,” She added making everyone laugh.
Bola’s speech opened the floor for speeches. One after the other, people stood to say the nicest things they could think about and wished me a happy birthday. After everyone had spoken, Omololu got up beside me, calling for everyone to listen.
“Teni is the easiest person to please,” He began, smiling at me indulgently. “Believe me guys, it doesn’t take much to make her happy, and that makes her the easiest person to be in a relationship with. She’s just amazing, smart, and an all-round great human, and I’m so lucky to have her in my life,”
He picked his wine glass and turned to face me, “Happy 30th birthday babe, I love you and nothing is going to change that.”
“Now,” He raised his glass, turning to face the rest of the others, “To, Teniola, on her 30th trip around the sun,”
“To Teniola, on her 30th trip around the sun,” Everyone echoed raising their glasses.
“I have a gift for you but I’ll give it to you without all these nosy people around” He whispered to my ear, as he took his seat.
“Okay,” I grinned, rubbing my hands in excitement at the thought of yet another gift tonight.
My birthday dinner ended on a great note. I was exhausted, but that exhaustion holds no candle to my euphoria of a day well spent. It was a great day and I made sure to express everything I felt while thanking everyone who had come.
“What’s on your mind?” Omololu asked, breaking the peaceful silence that had enveloped the car since we left the restaurant.
“Just reminiscing about the day,” I smiled. “Thank you for doing all that. I had fun,”
“I’m glad,” he smiled back.
“And thank you for my gift, the one you will give me any time now,” I said grinning.
“The moment we get home,” He promised, laughing.
“Home huh?” I chuckled. “Who told you I’m staying at your place tonight?”
“Me. Why do you think I left your gift back home?” He raised his brows.
Sneaky, I thought, amused, but before I could respond, my phone rang.
“It’s Omolola,” I whispered to him, as I answered the call. “My fierce angel.”
“Hello Sis,” She responded, her excitement palpable through the phone. She was calling to wish me a happy birthday and to apologize for not calling me earlier. She had decided to be the last one to greet me, knowing her brother would be the first.
“So, how did your surprise party go?” She asked. “I’m sure I missed a lot, didn’t I? Would you believe my brother only told me this morning? I’m sure it’s to make sure I don’t have enough time to convince him to let me come.”
She fired question after question, most of which she answered herself. I smiled listening to her; She is a breath of fresh air, always so upbeat.
“Don’t worry, we will go out to the same restaurant for dinner when next you visit, just you and me,” I promised, smiling.
“You see why I love you? Thank you,” She said, excitedly.
“Oh, hold on a minute, Mummy wants to speak with you,” She suddenly added, sounding unsure herself.
What!!! I thought, my eyes bulging out in panic. Why??? I was panicking, my heart suddenly beating fast.
“How are you Teniola? Happy birthday to you,” I heard a woman say to me from the other end of the phone.
“Your mum” I whispered to Lolu, hitting him lightly on the lap to draw his attention.
“Th.. thank you ma,” I stuttered, my mouth suddenly dry. Is this the part she tells me to stay away from her son?