A nervous Ross asked Emma to call him some time.
Emma leaned back in her study chair and stretched.
She’d had a big stack of depositions to get through over the weekend.
Just as she was thanking her lucky stars that Friday was a slow workday, three cases landed on the desks at work, meaning she’d need to pull a weekender.
She removed the spectacles she used to work at the PC and pinched the bridge of her nose with two fingers.
She closed the laptop lid, and stood.
20 minutes later, she was showered, dried, her hair shampooed, and in her winter pyjamas.
The nights were still chilly. It was raining.
She pulled her duvet into the lounge of the small apartment, and turned the TV on.
With a mug of hot cocoa, she flicked through the channels.
She managed to find the last half hour of Notting Hill, the Julia Roberts romantic comedy.
Her eyes prickled as she witnessed the tender kiss between Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in the park.
Rom-coms always managed to tug at her heartstrings.
It was so long since she’d felt that sweeping, tumbling feeling of love for somebody.
It was never like it was in the movies, was it?
Remembering the ordeal of dating Brian, her view of the movie soured.
People were players.
Relationships were full of pitfalls, unpredictable obstacles, pain, heartache.
“Whatever, Notting Hill,” she told the TV, as she turned the television off using the remote.
Romance was a shame. Men were pigs. She’d had enough of that.
Her mind drifted to Ross.
She could tell that he liked her.
But she couldn’t work out how she felt about him.
She thought he was sweet, but he didn’t make her heart flutter, or anything like that.
Maybe they could be friends?
That would be nice.
He was gentle natured, smart, funny – he could make her laugh.
She felt sort of relaxed in his company – she felt like herself, like she didn’t have to try to be cute, or something.
That meant a lot to her – feeling no pressure to be something she wasn’t.
She got up, went to her bedroom, rummaged through the laundry basket for her jeans.
She found the pair she’d been wearing on Friday – a frayed pair of Levi’s, an old fave.
She fished that little scrap of paper out of the pocket.
She unfolded it, looking once more at his spidery scrawl.
Though the writing was erratic, she was pretty sure she could make out the number:
071 558 7717.
She took the note back to the couch, and snuggled back under the duvet.
She picked her phone up off the carpet.
She looked at his number again.
Should she text him? Or call?
She decided to phone.
She typed the number onto the screen and pressed ‘call.’
She lifted it to her ear.
It rang. And rang.
Why didn’t he pick up?
Eventually it stopped ringing. No voice box, even.
She sighed, annoyed.
She tried again.
After two rings, a woman’s voice answered.
A deep, velvety voice; very sultry.
‘Hello?” the voice asked, and Emma immediately imagined a Bond-girl type bombshell.
“Hey,” she stammered, uncertainly. “Who is this?”
“I could ask the same question,” replied the velvet voice.
Emma heard a man’s voice in the background, saying something she couldn’t make out.
“Hello?” asked Emma into the receiver once more.
She heard the woman giggling, and then she heard the velvety voice say flirtatiously, “Stop that!”
Emma could tolerate no more. She hung up, tossed the phone onto the carpet, and flopped back onto the couch, wondering why she even bothered.
Bonani was at Naledi’s flat that evening.
As usual, they weren't seeing eye to eye.
She wouldn’t let him in.
They stood outside, in the rain, covered by her umbrella - next to his car.
“Why didn’t you tell me you’re confiding in her, now?” Naledi asked, looking drained. “And please don’t duck and dive, dude. It’s a simple question.”
He rolled his eyes, giving her a 'not this again', look.
“Babes, I'd just had a verbal fight with you. And Spox happened to be right there. It’s not like I confide in her.”
“You told her everything about us, Bonani. You told her I want you to move in with me, and you aren’t interested. How is that not confiding?”
The rumbling sounds of thunder were audible from a distance. Rain came down hard.
“Naledi, I didn’t come here to fight, okay.”
“Whatever! Then why are you here?”
“You heard me. I asked why you’re here, Bonani?” she demanded, sounding like a drill sergeant.
“Uhh … because you’re my girlfriend? I didn’t think I had to have a reason to come see you …Or am I missing something?”
“Uh huh … So have you made a decision?”
He stepped back, throwing his hands in the air, getting wet. “I DON’T WANNA FIGHT WITH YOU, NALEDI!”
“I don’t wanna fight with you either, Bonani. But I’m sick of this whole thing. So is it gonna be me or Siphokazi? I need an answer, now.”
He hid under her umbrella again, his face a mere centimetres from hers. “How do you compare yourself with her? There is no Siphokazi, okay.”
“There is. You’re literally dating us both. And you can't even see it.”
He gave her a sarcastic look. “Naledi, are you serious right now?”
“Do I look like I’m kidding?”
They stared at each other, speechless.
"I don't know what's gotten into ..."
“I think we should take a break,” Naledi mumbled, looking away now. Her eyes began to tear. “It’s obviously not working, dude.”
Bonani couldn’t believe his ears. He grabbed her by the chin. “Look at me, Naledi. Say that again.”
She stared him straight in the eyes, trying to compose herself. “It’s not working, and I’m tired of trying.”
“Dude, I’m like a nag to you. I’m always asking you to do something you don’t wanna do. So yah … I’m through.”
Bonani's heart raced. This wasn't happening. “So it’s like that?” he said softly.
Naledi looked away.
“Okay Naledi. But just know, if I leave here, I’m not coming back. You aren’t gonna call me tonight and say sorry or whatever.” He stepped back into the rain.
“You did this, Bonani! You put that bitch in between us. Don't blame this on me.”
“HOW THE HELL IS SOME LITTLE TEENAGER, THABO’S GIRLFRIEND, IN BETWEEN US?”
“I don’t wanna go into it, again and again and again. I think we've spoken about her enough - but don’t blame me,” she concluded, folded the umbrella, and stepping back, towards the front door.
A tear fell from Bonani’s face. Hurt and anger plagued him terribly. “Naledi!”
She was still facing him, with her hand on the doorknob, twisting it. “I’m sorry.” Her eyes also started to water.
Bonani wiped his face, dropped his head and walked around his car to get in.
She moved inside the flat, and slammed the door shut.
Inside, she fell to the ground, letting out a painful cry, with her hand on her mouth, trying to muffle the sound.
Bonani sat in the car, still. He couldn't possibly drive - he wasn’t in a position to. He’d have to let it all sink in first.
He trembled; his hands shook.
He felt fragile and light headed. Why was Naledi doing this?
Will Naledi call Bonani to reverse her suggestion?