Martina Shaw stood there, waiting, debating whether or not to go into the restaurant. Laird Pendlebury was in there with his friends. Going in there now would be foolish. No one knew about their relationship. He wanted it that way.
He said that it was because he was an MP and although he wasn’t married, any illicit relationship would look badly on him, especially since he was a staunch Catholic. The Catholic Church disapproved of fornication which was sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. He didn’t want to offend his Catholic constituents.
And she knew that many people would have a problem with him being in a relationship with a black woman. So, for now, she had to keep a low profile, meeting him at his convenience. This had been going on for a year and a half now. She didn’t know how much longer she could do it. She tried to muster up the courage to end it but couldn’t because she loved him. She wasn’t sure if he loved her too. She hoped he did.
Only her closest friend, Gladys knew about the relationship. “Honey, you need to end it. You deserve better. You deserve to be with a man who isn’t sneaking around because he doesn’t want his uppity white friends and family to know that he’s got a black woman on the side.”
Gladys was right and I should have walked away but I just couldn’t. I didn’t kid myself that he would marry me someday. He would marry a woman of his background. And when that happens, then I would walk away. I won’t be any man’s mistress.
“Hey, Martina.” The jovial greeting brought her back to the presence. It was Steven Okeke, her Nigerian friend.
She smiled. “Hi, Steven. How are you doing?”
“I’m doing well. How about you?”
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen you. What are you doing here?”
“I was just window shopping,” she lied.
“Do you want to grab a drink or something?”
She shrugged. “Sure.”
“We can go over there,” he said, pointing to the same restaurant where her man was. “They have a nice bar there and I know the bartender.”
Her heart skipped at beat. What was Laird going to do when he saw her walk in with Steven? Well, she would soon find out. She followed her friend across the road and paused outside to smooth down her hair and fix her skirt. Her heart was pounding now.
She spotted him as they walked over to the bar. He was sitting at a large table with a large group of people. There was lots of laughter and the conversation was flowing. He happened to look up and see her. Their eyes met briefly before she turned away and sat on the stool facing away from the table. Steven sat beside her. She was tempted to turn around but she didn’t. She forced a smile and tried to act nonchalant.
He watched them, his fingers gripped his glass as red, hot jealousy ripped through him. What was she doing there? And who was that man she was with? He wanted so badly to go over there and confront her.
“What’s the matter, Laird?” Greta asked him. “Didn’t you find Martin’s remark about corrupted conquests funny?”
He stared at her blankly. “I beg your pardon?”
“Martin just made a funny remark about Larry Birk and him being the latest of Neville Quinland’s corrupted conquests because lately, he has been backing his rather controversial policies.”
“Oh, yes, yes.” To be bloody honest, he didn’t give a damn about Birk and Quinland. What little respect he once had for them was gone. As far as he was concerned, they could both go to hell. All he cared about at that moment was Martina and the man she was with. How could she do this to him? He was extremely hurt, angry and jealous. It took every ounce of self-control not to explode.
“Are you all right?” Greta asked, looking a bit concerned.
Dear, sweet Greta. Why couldn’t she be the woman he was involved with instead of Martina? She was very attractive but she wasn’t the one who drove him mad with desire. She wasn’t the one who was making him sick with jealousy right now.
Abruptly, he rose to his feet. “Excuse me. I’ll be right back.” He walked past the bar, his face flushed and went straight to the washroom. He stood at the sink for several minutes, fuming. Then, he turned on the tap and washed his hands. He slapped them against his face and after turning off the tap, he dried his hands and face.
He took deep breaths before he walked out of the washroom. As he passed by the bar, he glanced over at Martina and her companion. His face was drawn.
“That guy looks very familiar,” Steven remarked.
Martina’s hand trembled as she reached for her glass. “That’s-that’s Laird Pendlebury.”
“Laird Pendlebury, the MP?”
“Yes.” She couldn’t get the expression on his face out of her mind. How she wanted to go over there and tell him that she was sorry that she was there with another man even though it was perfectly innocent. “Thanks for the drink, Steven. I–I have to go.” She slid off the stool and walked away.
He gulped the rest of his drink down and then ran after her. “Are you all right?” he asked, frowning.
“I’m–I’m fine. I’ll see you around, Steven.” She turned and walked away, leaving him gazing after her, puzzled.