Austin continued to tell us how his girlfriend ran away because he had no money.
“So why are you here in the beach, you should be out there making money to bring the girl back” I said.
He went on to tell us how he didn’t know where to start his business since he returned from Germany.
“I am not sure you have been out of this country” Juliet said, that was the first words she said since Austin joined us.
Rather than interrupting her, i decided to let that slide.
However, Austin was quick to calm her down.
“Yea, i went to Germany in my dream and i think that counts too” he said and we laughed.
We ended up chatting and playing until it was time to go.
“I will drive you home to whatever part of Nigeria you are going” Austin said.
“We don’t want, we have our own car” Juliet said.
I looked at her instantly and she kept quiet, then i turned to Austin and thanked him for the offer before politely telling him that we came with a car.
We all walked up to where we parked and when he asked me to give him my phone number, i did without hesitation.
Something was strange about Austin. He seemed so confident and quiet especially when Juliet tried to provoke him.
After giving him my phone number, he called me to make sure it was the correct one.
We watched as he slowly made his way towards a parked grey BMW.
He opened the flashy car and entered.
“Wow,” Juliet said, “He has a nice ride. I think he returned from Oversea.”
We drove past him and I waved with a smile. Two minutes later, he blazed past us with top speed.
Instantly I dialed his number and when he answered, i told him to go easy on the throttle pedal.
I didn’t see or hear from Austin again until the next two days when he called and said he was in Surulere. When i told him to come to my area, he said he was busy.
I asked where he was so i could go to him. He directed me to Aguda and when Juliet confirmed that she knew the place, we drove there.
Austin was cleaning a new apartment when we walked up to where he was. He said he found and paid for the place the day before. When i mistakenly asked why he relocated, he said that he wanted to stay closer to me since i lived in Surulere. I laughed over it because i understood it was one of his mysterious jokes.
I joined Austin in cleaning the house while Juliet stood in one place and watched us.
As we worked, Austin asked about me. He wanted to know everything about me.
The introduction began.
“I already told you my name. I am called Maria and i am from Edo State. I returned from Italy two weeks ago to have fun in Nigeria. I am single but not searching” I said.
“Every girl who is up to 20 years in Nigeria is searching” He joked.
“Well, i am not searching. I am fine the way i am now.” I continued.
“What about your non-talking weird friend?” Austin asked.
“Don’t call me that again” Juliet protested.
“Well her name is Juliet and she is a student at the Lagos State University. She came to stay with me for the duration
Of my stay here in Nigeria. What about you Austin, tell me more about you” I said.
While he cleaned the floor, he talked, “Just like you baby girl, i returned from Europe but not in Italy. I lived in Germany and Portugal. As you already know, i am an Igbo boy.”
“Tell me what you did in Europe” I said.
He refused and argued that i didn’t tell him what i did in Europe myself.
“Alright Austin, I worked at the McDonalds restaurant in Milan and Napoli” I said.
He looked up at me and continued what he was doing.
“What, don’t you believe me?” i fired.
“Oh i do sweetheart.” He said.
My heartbeat skipped as we talked about Italy and Germany. As someone who lived for years in Europe, he must have known what Edo girls did over there. The way he looked at me showed that he didn’t really believe that i worked at McDonalds. But then, what was he expecting me to say in the first place?
Was he expecting me to tell him that i was a prostitute?
The truth about Austin and I was that i was beginning to love him. If i was told to chose who to marry at that stage of my life, it would definitely be him.
Back before i left Ekpoma the week before, my mother had brought one Mr. Jude as my prospective husband.
I felt that she wanted me to either get married before i returned to Europe or that she wanted me to atleast, present a man to her before going back.
I didn’t blame her for all that, i was her first daughter and i was supposed to have some kind of positive influence on the other little two girls. Despite knowing that i was a prostitute back in Europe, i was sure she wouldn’t want the younger girls to follow that path. It was obvious that the family needed money to be able to raise the other kids and to build a house. Half of that problem has been solved.
Austin looked like that man i should present to my mother. Even if he was to forget about me in the future, it was important that I took him to Edo State and take my chances first.
As we cleaned the place, i started to plan on how to trick him into going to Edo State with me. If he ever agreed, i would call my mother and tell her that i was bringing a man who would marry me. I would make my mother swear not to ask him anything about marriage, it was just to present him for her to see.
After cleaning the place, we all took my car to a restaurant where we ate together. Austin paid for the food and agreed to follow me to know my place.
We arrived at my apartment and relaxed in the sitting room. I had hoped to intimidate and impress him with the apartment. Whether it worked or not was only known to him. He was just indifferent and refused to commend the place. He didn’t even behave as if he had come to a new place and didn’t even ask if i was the owner in the first place.
He just sat there and starred at the Television as if i didn’t matter.
Juliet had gone to her room and refused to come out. It was good that she wasn’t in good relationship terms with Austin, it gave me privacy to discuss with Austin.