DARKNESS AT DAWN by ADURA OJO

It’s now well past midnight. Ayo can still see Jare scowling at her across the room, with a sneer that belies his chiselled masculine features. She tries to shut out Jare’s face from her mind’s eye and snuggles up to Wale on the dancing floor. Ayo is starting to lose herself in the engrossing lyrics of Alicia Keys’ ‘If I ain’t got you.’ Wale looks at her and reaches from his 6’4’ frame to scoop her up in his arms. Sensing the tension within her, he asks if she’s okay. They have always been able to communicate without words and that’s why this is all the more traumatic for her. Wale picks up on her feelings and moods quite easily without her saying a word. How long can she keep herself from exploding with the pain and trauma boiling up inside of her? Ayo breathes in the familiar aroma of Wale’s eternity aftershave and struggles to calm her nerves. Jare’s hold on her is a time bomb waiting to go off.
It all started 7 years ago on a clubbing night at the now defunct ‘Granaries’ in Croydon, a South London suburb. Oh, Ayo whispers, lost in her inner world again. She wishes she’d never drunk that tequila! It is mind boggling and overwhelmingly sad that one seemingly unimportant decision could shape the rest of her life. Now she’s wishing she could turn back the clock. A wave of anger wells up inside her. She stiffens unconsciously. Wale asks again if she’s okay. She says she’s fine but needs some air.
Sensing that she needs some time to herself, Wale goes to the bar and starts chatting with a colleague he’d met earlier on. Ayo holds the Armani chivette closely around her shoulders as she walks over to the club’s wide balcony to get some air and gather her thoughts. The chivette caresses her skin almost reassuringly. She loves to adorn herself with beautiful things. It helps counteract the extreme ugliness she encounters in everyday life. The pale lilac chivette is a one-off Armani ensemble made from a special mix of luxurious chiffon and velvet. Ayo saw it last week at an exclusive boutique off King’s road in Chelsea. She simply couldn’t resist it. The pale lilac chivette is a contrast to the rich aubergine thin strapped top and figure hugging black skirt with deep groovy corners, also by Armani.
Hearing the familiar aggressive gravel of Jare’s voice and feeling his breath against her neck, she can feel the sick coming up to her throat like it did all those years ago. She turns around sharply.
“Oh don’t act so frightened. It doesn’t suit you,” Jare spits out in obvious hatred. “You’re more of a tiger” Jare grins wickedly.
“So says the flag-bearer for the animal kingdom. You would know all about animals, wouldn’t you?” Ayo hisses back disgustedly. Ayo wishes she could wipe that smirk off his face or better still, terminate the existence of this nasty piece of work otherwise known as Jare Ariyo. She has thought about it often enough but her Christian values prevent her from doing such a thing. Besides, how could she deprive Lola of her ‘beloved’ husband? Lola worships the ground Jare walks on.
Ayo glances worryingly across at Wale talking to his colleague. He has his back to them.
“Don’t worry. He can’t see what his precious er…lady is doing right now”, Jare spits out again in disgust, his hands on her shoulders. Ayo flinches. “I would rather you keep your hands to yourself. You make me sick!”
Ayo can feel the sick coming to her throat once again. This time, it’s for real. She makes a hasty retreat to the toilet to relieve herself in what is sadly now becoming a regular routine. Ayo is on her way back to speak to Wale about leaving early when Jare grabs her by the wrist and shoves her into another dancing room.
“We need to talk” he says, smirking.
“Leave me alone. I have nothing to say to you!”
“Well… let’s just say I have a proposal for you”.
He moves so close to her she can smell his foul breath.
“Call it a ‘get out’ clause. You pay for my silence by keeping me happy, you can go ahead and marry lover boy. I can even persuade him to marry you”, he boasts. “After all we are more like blood brothers, Wale and I. We are the closest you can get.”
“You are supposed to be his best friend. You are the sickest bastard walking upright!”
Jare laughs. “I’ll take that as a compliment. Tell you what…have some thinking time. Take a holiday and think this through. I don’t need to remind you that the stakes are high. You will be deciding your fate for the rest of your life. If I told Wale the truth today, he would drop you faster than the speed of lightning across the skies. Who would want you then?”
“The truth…? You mean your truth!” Ayo snaps. Sooner or later she must be strong enough to delve into the tortuous abyss of the past. She will have to deal with a secret that threatens the stability of everything that’s precious to her. Ayo would do anything to protect Wale and Lola. Jare knows that only too well.

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