“We need to talk,” said Nike. Her uncharacteristically solemn face told him it wasn’t good. He stepped gingerly into the kitchen.
“Please sit,” he said, gesturing to the table. He did, and she followed suit. The took a simultaneous sharp breath but words didn’t come. They scratched their Afros and and gazed at each other.
The suspense was killing him. “What have I done?”
She began. “Gurey, you know I love you. You’re the kindest gentlest man I’ve ever known. I can never forget when we first met, how you kept your eyes on my face. The way you asked me how I like it when we first made love, it was incredible.”
“I get the feeling you’re disarming me for something,” he blurted.
Her full lips broke into a smile. “And straightforward, I can always count on you for that.”
He combed his tapering brown fingers through his beard in anticipiation.
“There’s just one issue. It’s been bothering me for a while now, and please don’t get offended. It’s just… you eat too much.”
“Yeah! You’re like a lion: let the woman get it and finish most of it yourself!”
Gurey hung his head. “I get hungry. What can I do?”
Nike burst out laughing, catching him off guard. “How can I get angry at that face? Stop it, let me nag properly!”
“OK,” he agreed, imitating a cave man’s face. The woman was in hysterics, with snot flying out of her nostrils!
“My god this is embarrassing!”
Gurey’s hand dived into his pocket and whipped out a tissue at mach speed. He tenderly wiped the slime off her upper lip.
“Thank you sweetie, but this doesn’t change anything. If you’re gonna eat so much, start paying for it. I’m not rich yet you see how I’m generous, right?”
“I always give to those I love – even if don’t love me back. Always been my weakness. Please, I know you’re not taking advantage but greater contribution would be fantastic.”
Gurey reached for an apple from the bowl before him.
She screeched, “What did I just say?!?”
“Sorry. I was listening, I’m just seriously hungry. Didn’t eat anything yesterday,” he said before taking a bite. “Wow this is juicy.” He paused.
He looked into her deep sable eyes and said, “OK. I understand your point, and I know I eat like a pig. Please know I’m trying to contribute. It’s just… I never told you about my dad did I?”
A scowl overshadowed his face. “He was a filthy khat addict. Could never trust him with anything in the house, always had to hide our money in case he stole it to fuel his habit. Sometimes me, mum & my sister had only 1 meal a day to share between us.”
“Wow. I had no idea.”
“Being stingy & greedy helped us save enough money to come to England, leave his backside in Somalia. I know it’s bad but it literally kept us alive. But I’m glad you brought it up. Really.”
Nike was confused as he reached for his wallet.
“I knew I’d only change if someone had the guts to tell me.” He fished out a £50 note and handed it to her. “Before I chicken out again, take it.”
“Are you sure?”
She slipped it gingerly from his fingers. “You’re doing this because you want to, not because I told you to?”
“You’re not angry at what I said?”
“Why would I be?”
“ ‘Cause men don’t like women telling them what to do. That’s been my experience growing up in Nigeria.”
Gurey leaned in, cupped her bistre cheeks in his hands and replied, “Not me. Do you know why I love you?”
She smirked. “My 42NN breasts.”
“Yes, AND! Your straightforwardness. Your confidence. You always make sure people take you seriously. You know your worth, you make others know it, and you make me want to be worthy of you.”
She stroked his hands. “You already are.”
“Not yet. But I am getting there. Let that 50 quid be the start of showing my appreciation for everything you’ve done for me.”
Nike stared into his deep sable eyes. “Are you sure?”
With a smile he nodded. “I’m gonna change. For you.”