It took her a few seconds to make her decision and she ended up leaving the jewelry where it was. She did not think it wise to tag along, a constant reminder of the current puzzle in her life, be it a prank or not.
Arda exited the bedroom and stepped onto the corridor. On either side of the corridor, there were shut doors to the other rooms in the house.
When she emerged at the living room, she saw Jacob at the dining table studying the morning paper with a cup of coffee before him.
He looked fresh from a bath and wore loose grey slacks beneath a white vest. He smiled at the sight of her but she threw him a pout as she drew closer to the table.
“You promised to make me breakfast.” She reminded him. “You promised.”
“Calm down. You didn’t even say hi to me.”
“I’ll greet you when I see my breakfast.” She said as she came to stand beside him.
“And some folks envy me for living with you girls.” He said with mock bitterness. “If only they know what I’m going through.”
“You look amazing. Luke will melt at the sight of you.”
“Thanks but quit changing the subject.”
“What makes you think that your food isn’t ready? Do sit down.”
Arda drew out a chair beside him, sat down and placed her backpack on the floor.
“Good girl.” Jacob praised and laid down the newspaper on the table before rising and venturing towards the kitchen, which was just right around the corner.
Whistling a happy tune, he returned shortly with a tray bearing toasted bread and scrambled eggs, which he placed before her on the table. Her face lit up with a smile and he winked at her.
“This food smells and looks amazing. Thanks and now I can say good morning.”
He laughed. “Good morning. You are welcome.” He responded and sat down to his newspaper and coffee.
“Where is Karina?”Arda asked. “I guess she has gone to the gym?”
“You have guessed correctly.” was Jacob's response.
“Okay.” Arda said and dug into her food while he drained his coffee and continued reading.
“Anything interesting?” she asked.
“Yeah. Howling animal sounds in the surrounding forests have intensified. There is concern that wolves or some dangerous animals might soon be the death of us.”
“That is kind of weird but sounds exaggerated.” She said and he shrugged offhandedly. Then he showed her the page he was reading, holding it before her.
The picture of a wolf was at a section of the page. Wolves on The Loose? The headline questioned. The article was brief. Residents around the urban forests have reported insistent howlings in the woods at night. We hope that there will be no report of citizens being attacked by wolves or other dangerous animals.
“Reporters can be so dramatic.” he commented.
“I agree.” she said.
Jacob abandoned the paper on the table and rose up to his feet. “Anyway, I have to go and prepare for campus.” He said. “Good luck with your Project Supervisor. I hear he is mean.”
She chuckled but said nothing, although she had a whole lot to say concerning her relationship with the man.
“Thanks.” She said instead. “Enjoy your day, Jacob.”
“You too, Arda.”
When he left the living room, she quickly finished her meal and moved the empty dishes to the kitchen. She walked back to the dining table, picked up her backpack, ambled over to the main door and exited the house.
Outside, the weather was cool and the air was calm but she could already see the early shimmering rays of the morning sun on the verge of breaking through the sky. It looked like the sun was going to be all out today she thought, not regretting her choice of clothing.
The apartment Arda shared with her friends was one amongst several residential homes lining a street that was not busy.
The houses were gated with low fences made of woods and fitted with drive in garages by the side. Surrounding the vicinity were towering mountains, faintly visible in the distance.
Arda walked over to the curb before the house and let herself inside her car, a modest Camry.
Sliding the car key into the ignition, she started the car and checked the time on the dashboard, which told her that it was 8:20am. Great, she would not be late. Kicking off the car, she pulled it off the curb and hit the road.
The city was suburban and not as populated as major cities but it had the required structures –the way posts of civilization that formed a city; parks, schools, religious structures, museums, libraries, banks, ATM stands, tall corporate buildings, stores, self-serving filling stations, etc.
It took Arda about thirty minutes drive before she finally arrived at the University campus. The marquee in front of the school read UNIVERSITY OF HOMELAND.
It was sitting on an expanse of land with people going about their business in the premises; Freshmen walking, uncertain, determination lurking within, other experienced students moving confidently, graduating students like her, anxious, focused on their thesis, cliques of students hanging together, talking, laughing, serious students hanging at the well mowed grassy park, reading.
Arda parked her car among the sea of diverse cars in the parking space and ventured towards the administrative building, her backpack resting on her shoulder.
Before long, she was at the door of her supervisor’s office, the tag on it announcing proudly, Professor of History- RAY WILSON. She gave it a slight knock and let herself inside.
Ray was writing something on a notebook. He was a handsome man in his early forties. A smile lit up his face at the sight of her and she returned his smile as she shut the door behind her.
The office was large and airy despite the brawny office furniture fitted inside. One section of the office was a library of its own and had a row of shelves filled with books of different sizes.
An official portrait of him was on the wall along with portraits of the Dean of Student Affairs, The Registrar, The Provost and the Governor of the state of Homeland.
“You look amazing, Arda.” He said to her as she drew forward.
“Thank you and good morning sir.”
“Morning dear, It’s Ray when we’re alone. I thought you would be used to it by now.”
“Okay, Sir Ray.”
Ray laughed and she smiled, coming to stand before his large table.
“Sit down, Arda. Let’s talk about your project.”
Arda sat down on one of the seats across his table and retrieved a printed sheet of paper from a file inside her backpack.
It contained three bulleted history project topics. The topics listed were Urban Legends, Responsibilities Distribution in Iron Age and Bridal Ceremonies in Ancient Rome.
“Let’s hear the topics, please.” He said and Arda read them out for him.
“So which one have you chosen for your thesis?”
“Bridal Ceremonies in Ancient Rome.” She told him and watched him arch his brow.
“Interesting. Why did you choose that?”
“I chose it because it sounds fun.”
“I know you can give me something better than that.”
“Well, I read somewhere that the Roman wedding is the basis for many modern marriage customs and I find that interesting.”
“Good. Interest is a vital step when venturing into a project because if you are not interested in something, it gets difficult to do. I’ll approve it for you.”
“Thank you, sir Ray.”
“Okay, thank you Ray.”
“Hmn.” He said thoughtfully, with one finger under his chin. “Now, I’ll have to report your disrespect to the disciplinary team.”
Arda’s eyes widened with panic. “But you said…” she began and he laughed.
“Relax, Arda. I’m just messing with you.” He said and watched her exhale with relief. Then she smiled.
“On a serious note, Arda, my door is still open. I want you and you know that.”
“Ray.” he corrected, interrupting her.
“Um…Ray, I have a boyfriend.”
His brows lifted. “So what you’re trying to say is that I’m too old for you.” He stated lightly.
“No, it’s just that…”
“You can hurt my feelings, Arda. It’s okay. I can take it.”
“You’re married, Ray.” She said.
“Are you saying if I wasn’t, you would date me?”
“Years ago.” Arda admitted.
“Thanks. That makes me feel better. But would you consider me as your sugar daddy? I will give you financial care for your company. I will respect you. I will not stop you from having a boyfriend like you have now as long as you don’t rub it in my face. You can save your scholarship funds and quit your side hustle. Don’t you want that?”
Arda had always found his offer tempting but again, she found herself declining. She saw no real future in that. She did not want to be someone’s mistress. She wanted to be a wife. If she wanted a fast life, maybe she would have agreed but she was contented with the little she had and she could only hope for the best. She had already gotten this far. She was in her final year in the university. Her future was right before her and she was prepared to explore it.
“I don’t want a sugar daddy.” She told him politely. “Please don’t be offended.”