Violet stretched her body as she stood up. Another day was over. She began packing up her things. She frowned at her food flask as she placed it back in its bag. She hadn’t eaten half of the potato porridge that she’d packed in the morning. She eyed the pack of half-eaten digestive biscuits. Maybe buying so many snacks and placing them in the office, right before her eyes wasn’t such a good idea. She didn’t want to think of the chocolates that had been sneaked into her eager mouth during school hours. She placed a hand on her tummy, relieved when it didn’t meet a curve. She needed to control the urges. With a shake of her head, she continued packing up, tossing the offensive pack of biscuits into the dustbin. She was wiping her table when a knock sounded on the door. She shivered at the suddenness, then looked at the clock on the wall. School was over and she was done with counseling for the day. 

Relieved that it wouldn’t be a student, she said, “Yes, come in.”

“Vee.” It was C-Jay. He stood at the door as though uncertain about whether to come in.

Violet took a deep breath. Between Oyim and being a counselor, she had all but forgotten about C-Jay. “Come in,” she said tiredly. She walked to the window to spread the wet rag on the rails and then washed her hand in the hand washer. After drying her hands, she returned to her seat, placing her bag on the floor. She looked at C-Jay sitting in front of her with a small smile, “How have you been?”

“I’ve been absent for the past three days and you didn’t even notice my absence?” He curved his head returning her smile with a similar one. “But I have been fine.”

Violet gaped at him. She rarely stayed in the staff-room so it was hard to keep track of most of the other teachers. “What happened?” She asked with genuine concern.

He waved the question away. “Nothing serious. I traveled for a burial. I’m just surprised that you didn’t notice my absence. Are you that angry with me?”

She was shaking her head before he finished asking. “It’s really not what you think. Things have been kind of heavy for me these days. I can’t catch a breath.”

“Really? So you’re no longer angry with me?” He sat up, leaning towards her.

She thought for a second. “To be honest, I didn’t think about what happened until you showed up.”

“Out of sight, out of mind, huh?” He settled back again with obvious disappointment.

“C-Jay?” She called out. “Do you really want us to continue like this?”

He shook his head slowly. “No, seriously. I don’t want to make things difficult for you. It’s just that I didn’t expect that I would be that easy to forget.”

Violet clucked her tongue and in a bid to ease the atmosphere, she said, “Don’t think so highly of yourself. You will just get disappointed.”

He smiled widely. It was a real smile this time. “Don’t bet on that. You will lose your money.”

Violet burst out laughing. Finally, she thought. She hated how things had gone between them. “So, whose burial did you go for? How did it go?”

“One of my uncles. We thank God.”

“My condolences.”

C-Jay gave her a small smile. “It has passed.” He pushed back the chair and relaxed on the chair, raising his left foot to place it over his right thigh. “Let’s talk about you. These days you are the hot cake of the school. Everyone is talking about you.”

Violet chuckled and reached for the half-full bottle of water at the edge of her desk. As she opened it, she said, “Don’t exaggerate it. It’s mostly because I started sitting in this office. After this term, it will die down.”

“Don’t downplay yourself, Vee. You’re really doing well. I may be exaggerating, but most of the students look a little happier. I mean I can tell from some of the students in my class that what you’re doing with them is not small.”

“Hah! I’ve not even talked with a quarter of the students in the school and you’re already seeing a difference.” She gave a small smile and sipped water from the bottle on the table.

“I believe they call it a chain effect. You talk to one and they share the positivity with their mates. It’s good to know that the students have a room like this that they can talk. I mean, see the way you decorated it. I also want to have a counseling session.” He looked around. 

Violet laughed and waved her hand in the air. “No, don’t bring all your adult baggage for me. I cannot handle it.”

He stood up. “I know you were about to go home. Let me not keep you any longer.”

Violet reached for her bag. She switched off the AC and pulled the curtains shut. “These days I go home later than usual. An hour later than my children return from school. It’s a good thing Sochi can handle some things, if not, I’m not sure what I would do.”

“Why won’t you employ a maid to help out at home?” He reached for a handful of sweets and pocketed it. Violet eyed him but said nothing.

“A cleaner comes in every Wednesday and Saturday to clean the house and do the laundry. The rest I can handle. I’m not sure I can trust any girl to take care of my home the way I want it to be.”

He nodded thoughtfully and walked out of the office leaving the door open for her. Violet switched off the light as she came out, then locked the door. 

“And you? Mr. Bachelor, don’t you have a maid?”

C-Jay shook his head rapidly. “I dare not. The last person I brought turned my house upside down. Till today, I’ve not gotten over it. I don’t need a maid.”

Violet wanted to inquire deeper but immediately changed her mind. She wasn’t sure if it was okay to discuss such topics with him. They walked to the gate talking about random topics. He followed her to her car and stood by the side as she got into the car.

“Vee,” he called out as she started the engine. 

Violet looked out of the window. 

He gave her an uncertain smile. “You really don’t want anything to do with me? In that way?”

Violets hands stilled on the wheels. 

“I know, I really understand what you mean. But it keeps on eating me in my heart,” he placed a fist over his chest, “Here. I just want to be in your life. I won’t force you to do anything that would go against your marital vows. But let us have something, not just friendship. I want something deeper than that. I wanted to keep this to myself. I didn’t want to say anything. But after being with you for less than an hour, I can’t keep it in. Just consider it, okay?” He made to move closer to her but when he saw the expression on her face, he sighed. “I’m sorry.” Without waiting for her to say anything, he turned and walked in wide strides to his car, a similar color to hers.

Violet watched as C-Jay drove out of the compound. Her hands were still frozen on the wheel. It was when his car disappeared into the sea of cars riding past the gate that she got herself. She rubbed her hands together and started the car. She didn’t think of what he asked. She didn’t dare to. She was not supposed to think of any other man aside from Oyim. It was a sin to do so. It should be easy to push it to the back of her mind. She had other important things to think about. Somto would soon be taking the common entrance examinations. Oyim’s business was just taking off. He wanted to hold a small party to celebrate it. And the twins. She had her family to take care of. She shouldn’t be thinking of C-Jay and his sweet mouth. She kept on repeating this mantra until she got home. But even as she and her family had dinner, his words kept resounding in her head and the picture that remained in front of her was Oyim and a slim girl with natural make-up and breasts that were still firm and pointy.