And here is Episode three. Our love journey begins!
Tolu brought out a bottle of wine from his fridge when he got back to the office that night. He opened it and filled his glass. He held the glass by the stem and took a long sip. He walked around his desk to his chair behind it. All the while a smile remained on his face. His eyes were as bright as the stars lighting up the sky that night. He downed the content of the glass and poured some more drink into the glass.
He hiccupped when he took a sip this time. He followed the hiccup with a small chuckle. Hmm… he had found Ebika after eight years. Who would have thought they would meet again? The first girl he had fallen heads over heels in love with back in the university. Her charming smile had stolen his heart from the moment she smiled her thanks to him when he returned the wallet she left in a restaurant. Thank God he had been seated close to her. In fact, he had been watching her all the while she was there with her friend. Her soft laughter cut across his heart like a hot knife through butter. That lovely smile had caught his attention. He had spent more time admiring her than eating his food. Finding her wallet was the best thing to happen to him that day. He ran after her with all glee. When she smiled her lovely smile to show her appreciation, he had felt like a hero, her hero. His shoulders puffed up as he introduced himself. That was the beginning of their love story.
Tolu pressed the glass to his lips. He didn’t swallow the drink immediately. He rolled it in his mouth for a while, savouring the rich taste of red grape. He liked his wine. It was the perfect taste for his mood. Meeting Ebika again was as sweet as the best wine he had had. Ebika was sweeter though and more beautiful than she had been before. He sat up in his chair, images of their meeting fleeting back into his mind. He saw her like she was standing right before him. Her image was so real he felt if he stretched his hand he could touch her right there in his office. He stretched his hand before he could stop himself. He took off his jacket and brought it close to his nose, inhaling deeply.
“Oh, she smells so good.” He muttered, his eyes closed.
He pictured her tall and slim figure that could rival any model at her best. No ounce of fat seemed to have been added over the years. He liked that she still maintained her figure; the figure and her shiny dark complexion. Her figure made it easy for his hand to circle her waist back then. Her face came into view. That heart-shaped face that was accentuated by her pointed nose and small lips. She still had the thick dark hair just the way he remembered. He swept his hand through the air imagining his fingers running through her hair.
“You’re the best, Ebika.” He said with all the admiration.
“Hmm… what is going on here?” A voice intruded into his musing.
His eyes flew open. He sat forward suddenly, upsetting the glass on the table. Red liquid ran across his table. He pushed files away from the liquid spreading fast. The intruder grabbed a hand towel from the top of the file cabinet and stopped the spreading liquid. He cleaned the table dry.
Tolu’s eyes burnt with anger as he regarded his friend and business partner of six years, Christopher Ebikitin. “People have doors to keep unwanted guests out.” He said in a blunt tone.
Chris flashed an innocent smile. He returned the hand towel to the top of the cabinet. “Only when their doors are locked.” He replied. He pulled back a chair in front of the desk and took his seat. “What’s the occasion, Tolu?” He asked, his eyes resting on the half-emptied wine bottle. “Why didn’t you invite me?”
“Because you’re not wanted.” Tolu huffed, relaxing against his chair.
Chris chuckled. “Well, I always go where I am not wanted.” He shrugged.
“Why are you here anyway?” Tolu asked him, fixing him with suspicious eyes.
Chris’ eyes lost the playfulness from moments ago. His eyes drew in deep seriousness. He became the level-headed, the sensitive man Tolu knew him to be. Tolu suddenly preferred the playful Chris. He waited for Chris to speak. He knew whatever he had to say wouldn’t be good anyway.
Chris cleared his throat. “Your wife called, Tolu.” He told him, regarding him with steady eyes.
Tolu returned his gaze without flinching. “What did she tell you?” He quizzed.
Chris leaned forward in his chair and placed his elbow on the table. “Tolu, what you are doing to that poor woman and your children is not fair, and you know it. How could you leave the house for two days now?”
“If she insist on working, then I won’t return to the house.” Tolu replied in an iced cool voice.
“Come on, Tolu. Eladebi has tried and you know it. Your second son is three years old now. Let the woman work.” Chris implored in a pleading tone.
Tolu sat up in his chair, fixing Chris with unblinking eyes. His jaw was set firmly. “I won’t allow her work, Chris; not after the insult her father and her uncle dished out to me back then. They made jokes that I wouldn’t be able to take care of her. I have proven them wrong and will continue to prove them wrong. Let her stay at home and mother our children.”
Chris sighed, rubbing his clean-shaven jawline. “I just wish you’ll learn to communicate more with her than going off like this whenever you have a disagreement.” His eyes went to the picture frame of Tolu’s family on the wall to his right. “We both know that Eladebi is a good wife and mother.”
Tolu followed his eyes and stared at the frame too, taking in the image of the woman he had married five years ago. Was he losing his love for her? Why did he always take their argument to the extreme even when he was in the wrong? Yet, Eladebi will still apologize, prepare his meal, pray for the family and let peace reign?
He released a heavy sigh. “I have heard you, Chris. I will go home, but I still stand by my word: she’ll not work.” He replaced the files he had moved back to their position since the wine had dried off.
Chris’ lip turned up in a smile. “Just do what is right, Tolu.” He told him, then he added “So what were you celebrating when I came in?”
The heaviness in Tolu’s heart dissipated as a bright smile light up his face. The smile grew bigger as he thought of the one who had put it there; not his wife but the one who had his heart right from the beginning: Ebikaboere.
Her husband was back home. Eladebi jumped up from where she sat with her children watching Spongeboo Squarepants on Nicklelodeon. She ran to the window and peeped through it. Truly, her husband was back home.
“Daddy is back!” she announced to her children, grinning from ear to ear.
Tari, their first child, got up and yelped in delight, throwing his hands up. “Yeeeeeee!”
His brother, Timi, looked at him briefly and went back to his cartoon. Tari joined her at the door as they waited for Tolu to make an appearance. The minutes he took to park the car in the car park beside the house and walk around to the front door seem like forever to Eladebi. She adjusted her bubu gown, then she smoothened her weave-on with her palm.
The door opened and there stood her husband of years and the father of her children, looking as breath-taking as always. She wrapped her arms around him, while Tari, and Timi who had seen his father, hugged him by the leg. His free hand didn’t embrace her back. He just stood there as rigid as a rock waiting for her to ease off.
Her excitement slipped a little when she looked at him. His face was as hard as it had been when he left the house two days before. He dropped his briefcase and picked up Timi, while he patted Tari’s head. That was when she saw a smile on his face. She picked up the briefcase he dropped.
“You’re welcome, my husband.” She said to him, plastering a smile on her hurt face.
He eyed her. “Why are the children still awake?” He questioned scowling.
Her eyes went to the grandfather clock on the wall. It was past 9 pm. She turned apologetic eyes to him. “I’m sorry about that. I guess we got carried away.” She explained.
He dropped Timi gently on the floor. “Take them in and prepare them for bed. They have school tomorrow. I’m going to the room.” He moved towards the hallway.
“I made something.” She called after him.
He turned to her with questioning eyes. “I didn’t tell you I’ll be coming home, did I?”
She shrugged, smiling. “I prayed about it. I knew you would come home.”
Tolu crossed his arms across his chest. “Really?” He sneered. She nodded. “Was that after you called Chris or before you called him to bring your missing husband to you?” He asked in voice heavy with sarcasm. His lips turned up in a mocking smile when he saw her winced. “I am here, but I still stand by my word Eladebi: you will not work. Go and return that appointment letter to that school.” With that, he went down the hallway to their bedroom.
Eladebi’s face fell. Her shoulders sagged as she led her children inside.