Tessa Conte is the blogger at Tessa's blurb and today is her birthday. To make her happy, she wants her friends to "Write a 500-1000 word story/scene that mentions birthday(s), candles, cakes or presents."
Happy Birthday Tessa, enjoy!
“Where are we going?” Gladys asked Edward as she stepped out of the office bathroom. He’d just come back after three weeks in China and though they’d spent most of the past few days together, he never mentioned they’d go out tonight. He only called this morning to ask her to take a change of clothes for an evening on the town with some friends.
“You’ll know when we get there. It’s a surprise.” He turned to smile at her before tidying up his papers and ushering her out of the office. “And you look good in that top.”
“Thanks, glad you like it. But don’t dodge the question. Why won’t you tell me now?”
“Not yet, wait till we get there. Or you can try guessing.”
“Oh Edward, you know I don’t like surprises.”
They took the elevator to the underground car park and were soon on their way. Unlike most of their dates, this wasn’t set in advance. He usually picked her up after work, either alone or with friends, to take her home or out for drinks.
Sometimes, they went to her book club or similar literary events. Other times he introduced her to new places; some he’d discovered as a university student during his first years in the city.
They were caught in the perennial hold-up on Awolowo Road when she turned under the seatbelt. “OK, do you know what?”
“What is that?” Edward adjusted his side mirror as an okada bike sneaked in between the stationary cars.
“I got a query yesterday. My boss says I nod off at my desk.”
“So you are one of those people who sleep at work, eh? I have some of those in my office too.”
“I got you,” Gladys chuckled. “I actually enjoy my duties.”
“You’re sure you do not sleep on the job?”
“No I don’t.” Did he think she was serious?
“Is that your final answer or do you want to phone a friend?” Edward deadpanned as the traffic began to inch forward.
Caught unawares, Gladys laughed easily. It was clear she would have fun tonight. “Really, I was only trying to pull your leg. I’ve never received a query.”
“Well my legs are quite busy now, so please don’t pull any of them.” Their laughter blended into each other.
He looked at her when she stopped. “What did you receive?”
“That’s the deal. I’ll tell if you say where we’re headed.”
He guffawed. She put a hand on his thigh, “Edward please...”
“So you thought to make a stand? I didn’t think so.”
She pouted and looked away. They soon arrived at Reed’s Restaurant, which served Thai food. They had been here before, but Gladys was surprised to see her friend Ola walking up to the car. She opened the door and stepped out.
“What a coincidence!” She said as Ola came closer to them.
“I don’t think it is.” Ola pointed to the group of people near the doors of the building.
Gladys looked up and gasped; she looked over to Edward who had just finished locking up.
“Happy birthday to you darling.” He smiled innocently at her and turned to Ola. “Allow me to use this opportunity to congratulate you on your confirmation too.”
“Don’t look at me, I didn’t tell him.” Gladys protested when Ola turned to her with an accusatory look.
Ola was a colleague whose cubicle was just down the hall from hers at the office. She had started out in the industry ten years ago as a lowly clerk but had risen to become a chartered accountant. They’d taken to each other, maybe because she was a fairly new employee herself when Gladys joined the firm. Ola was Gladys’s best friend even though she was older by some years. They shared more interests than she did with Jennifer or Ayo. Also, Ola was a Lagos girl and from her and Edward, Gladys had learnt all about living in and enjoying the hectic city.
“How did you find out then?” Ola turned back to Edward.
“Let’s just say I have an ear to the ground.” He replied striding around the car. Her eyes settled on him but she was speechless. Her birthday was last week but she wasn’t even a stickler for celebrations. Her family and a few friends had called with greetings and she was even happier when he’d made time from his busy schedule in China to do the same.
He took her arms and gave her a brief kiss on the lips.
“So this is your surprise?”
“Yes, a birthday party. Do you still not like surprises?”
“I love this one.” She gave him a big hug.
Excerpt from my first novel, A HEART TO MEND