I knew trouble when I saw it.
Trouble at that moment was Nneka pushing her way through the dancing guests towards me. I had no idea what she wanted but it definitely wasn’t peace.
We were at the reception of one of my friends who tied the knot that morning. I wasn’t surprised to see her as we shared the same circle of friends — it was the look in her eyes that made me uncomfortable. Unconsciously, I squeezed my partner’s hand tightly.
“Hello Edet,” she beamed when she got to us. I offered her my cheek but she kissed my lips instead.
“What have we here?” she asked when we disengaged, seemingly unfazed by my unresponsiveness.
The two women surveyed each other none too kindly: condescension i Nneka’s eyes, contempt in Joke’s. The appraising went on for a few seconds before I interrupted.
“Nneka, meet my fiancee, Joke. Joke this is Nneka… my ex.”
Joke yanked her hand away from mine. Not good.
“I need to talk to you Edet,” Nneka said to me, then diffidently to Joke, “We need to catch up on some unfinished business.”
Without giving me time to protest, she seized my hand and dragged me towards the exit. I glanced briefly over my shoulder. Joke had her lips compressed and the look in her eyes was far from welcoming. I shrugged helplessly.
“What do you think you’re doing, Nneka?” I asked when we got outside.
“Are you sleeping with that bitch?” she asked fiercely, pressing herself to me like a tick.
“That’s my business,” I said angrily, pushing her away.
“You don’t know what you’re doing. She doesn’t look right for you,” the fury in her voice was beginning to look amusing, as I put two and two together.
“You’re jealous,” I said simply.
She slapped me.
My cheek smarted from the blow and I flinched slightly. I grabbed her upper arms before she could hit me again, shook her roughly then held her still, squeezing. She winced from the pain.
“You’re hurting me,” she said in a tiny voice.
“That’s the point,” I nodded.
“I love you Edet. We were good together — you know we were good together,” she tried.
“I didn’t break off the relationship. You did,” I released her.
She had no answer to that. Her lower lip trembled and before I could stop her, the tears came. I pulled her to myself and she buried her face in my chest, her body shaking as she sobbed. We stood like that until she pulled away.
I offered her my handkerchief. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose with it.
“Can I keep it?” she asked.
I shrugged and went inside to join my fiancee.