Hue the Shade of Wilted Roses #2


Regent Royal Hotel

Regent Royal Hotel, the same one that boasted of 5-star everything, including 5-star Internet services, in their almost minutely ads on ITV, smelled to Lanre like a year-old ice cream, and although he didn't know how a year-old ice cream smelled, he imagined it was like this.

In his part of the city, hotels like this were not to be seen, not that he had been to any hotel before; not that his parents would allow, but he knew for sure that no such building- a six-storey grand palace with annexes larger many many times than his own house -existed there.

Standing in its spacious lobby with its imperial chandelier and immaculate whiteness, Lanre couldn't help feeling the odd one out - a blemish in purity. Although his whole lecture house was here, he felt very out of place, possessing none of the glitter his mates seemed to have so abundantly.

He wondered how many of his mates had had to sneak out of their houses to be here. Not many, he concluded.

The hotel made him think of Uncle Chima, his mother's brother who'd just returned from Canada. Lanre recalled that his mum had complained about having to use a hotel to do a welcome party for him. It was the cost - and the need in the first place - she was really concerned about.

But she could never cut cost by hosting such a party at the house. She couldn't trust Chima, who had kept all kinds of company before Canada and whose welcome party was bound to be rowdy, to keep such friends and their invitees civil.

Rumour had it, and Lanre wished this one would be true, that his uncle had actually come home for him. To take him back to Ontario to continue his education. No one was saying anything, but the now constant family meetings said many. He however knew better than to get his hopes up.

"Hey, you truly came, thought you were joking o."

Lanre turned to see the beautiful Oluchi. resplendent in a short flowery chiffon dress, sauntering towards him. Oluchi was truly a sight for sore eyes - a fairer, younger version of Adaora Ole. She flicked her hair backwards, moving her shapely body with a grace quite comparable to Cleopatra's - according to Nigerian speak, she packaged. 

In addition to her beauty and heart, Oluchi hailed from affluence - her father owned this hotel as well as a budding transport company covering southern and western Nigeria.

"I wonder what you mean by Regent Royal, not a very proper name, if you ask me," he said nervously.

He wondered what she thought of his appearance. Standing so close to her, he imagined what a passerby will see - a beautiful princess and a scrawny lanky beggarly peasant, perhaps? If she had any reservations about his choice of clothing (not that it was much of a choice), she didn't show it. She seemed genuinely happy to see him.

She laughed, her soft girly laugh that reminded Lanre of omelettes and bread.

"Well nobody asked you," she teased.

"And that's the problem," Lanre quipped.

"You and your mouth ehn, maybe I'll tell daddy to ask you before he names another hotel, because he's very bad at it, like dad named our dog, Tonzo, what kind of name is that?" She asked, bursting into another round of omelettes and bread.

As they joked and laughed, she led Lanre into Blue Hall, a large lofty hall with Lil Kesh's Shoki blaring from the speakers and disco lights turning her dress blue, then red, then green.

"So what did you tell daddy that made him allow you today?" She asked, her voice seemingly ridden with mockery.

Although he knew she meant it innocuously, the question irked him. She obviously knew he'd crept out without permission because they'd had the discussion where he'd categorically told her he couldn't ever tell his parents about a night party because their answer wouldn't just be a no but also a concerned inquisition into his mental state. Not for the first time that night, he felt like walking away and going home.

Lanre was about to reply with a blunt and witty comeback when he felt a tap on his back. It was Deba, the only friend he'd made in the lecture house.

"Guy, na you?" the loudmouthed Osadebame asked rhetorically.

"No, na my ghost, see as you gadge."

Deba was rocking an all white ensemble, his Supra gleaming in spite of the disco lighting. Once again, Lanre felt very underdressed and very very inadequate.

Hanging on his arm was a dark big-boned girl Lanre had seen around the lecture house. Ever the player, this would no doubt be one of Deba's numerous catches. And she was a catch, the Deba he knew did not deserve anyone like her.

"Hello beautiful," Deba said to Oluchi, kissing her hand, and to no one in particular, "you remember Jovina, science student?"

They - Oluchi and Lanre - let a moment of completely awkward silence pass, before the former declared, in a small but sharp voice: "let's go and dance!"

"You know I don't dance, did I tell you how beauteous you look tonight?" Lanre asked, trying to divert her from urging him to dance and outshine his friend in the finesse of flirting, as Deba would put it.

But seriously, dancing is the last thing I'll do tonight, he thought, looking at his many classmates dancing religiously to the loud secular music blaring from the speakers.

"Hmmm, beauteous, Dr Professor, I hail o," she said, obviously having enjoyed the compliment.

Lanre turned to wink at his friend but Deba and his date must have slipped away for some privacy. The poor girl was probably going to get it tonight, that is if Deba's tales of sexcapades was anything to go by.

"lets dance, no one comes to my parties, and not shake body," Oluchi said, shaking her shoulders - rumba style.

And that stupid probing, what Lanre had even named Why Not came again, and before he knew it, he was beside himself doing justice to Wizkid's In My Bed on the dance floor.

* * * * * * * *

"I never knew you were such a good dancer, God." She was saying this, many Shoki, Etighi and Azonto steps after. They were drinking canned Bullet, another indulgence Lanre blamed on Why Not. Sitted in the VIP section with a great view of the frenzy going on on the dance floor, they shared laughs and traded jokes.

"I practice sometimes when I'm not drinking, I mean reading," Lanre was on his third can, and clearly stunned. His mind wouldn't take him to sensible things like going home.

"You were great." Lanre would later think that, for all the effect it had on her, Oluchi must have taken something non-alcoholic.

"Do you put things in there?" he heard himself asking - more like babbling, pointing at her tits.

"lol, you are almost gone, where do you live?" she said in between laughs.

"Why do you want to know?" he belched, stumbling while trying to pick something invisible from the floor.

"I'm in serious trouble," Oluchi cried mockingly, trying to get him up and in a serious tone, "We are going home."

* * * * * * * *

It took Oluchi all of twenty minutes to get an address from Lanre who was now in stupor stage, another ten precious minutes to get him out of the hotel with help from Deba who had the freedom of a vagabond and could stay out later than the devil. By this time, most of the party-goers had gone home, leaving their usual mess for whoever cleaned it up.

One of these days, daddy will stop my parties, she thought, struggling with Lanre's semi-conscious body - she hadn't thought he weighed this much.

"Deba, thank you, I'll handle him from here."

Deba, whose date must have gone home like any decent person, insisted on calling a cab and wouldn't depart from their side even when he could hear its engine purring nearer.

"You said number ten right?" she asked Lanre's dead body for all the reply she got.

"I hope your parents will not be angry, here," handing him a bottle of warm water and laughing in surprise when he downed half of it in one gulp.

"Shut up," she heard him say.

The taxi appeared, its headlights illuminating their figures, drawing long shadows behind them. She was about to announce this, when his mouth crashed into hers, kissing her weak. His hands were strong on her and she gave in to the kiss willingly. There was something both firm and caring and urgent about his taste. The alcohol aside, he tasted like pure hot bliss.

Deba coughed at some point to make the kissing couple aware that the taxi was upon them. He then insisted on taking Lanre home - he knew the house and his friend would not be able to tell gutter from ground anyway.

Oluchi stood there, in the entrance of her father's hotel, long after the rear of Lanre's taxi had disappeared into the night, a familiar tune - Shania Twain's When You Kiss Me playing endlessly in her heart.


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