Love Quest Ep 3

So sorry this episode is coming now. Had a lot on my table. We meet Raymond in this episode. Happy reading!

Episode Three

It was cloudy when Nimi left her place of work on Tuesday evening. She looked up and saw that it would rain soon. She groaned in frustration. She had left her umbrella in the house that morning while she made a mad dash to the bus stop. Her hand went to her hair. How would she cover her hair? It had taken three hours to braid her hair. Hours that would have been used to tidy up her work now that the ED wanted to get reports for all their accounts in details. It would be a disaster if the rain poured down and caught her on the road. She groaned as the sky rumbled. She followed her groaning with a silent plea to heaven that the sky not to open up until she got home. Getting home would be after her meeting with Raymond.

Raymond, hmm… she sighed. What would be the end of it all? Where had she gotten it wrong? What did she miss? All was in place at least that was what she thought. These thoughts drifted in and out of her mind as she stood at the bus-stop. Images of her times with Raymond filled her head like motion pictures. Her heart felt hollow where feelings for Ray should have warmed. Deep in her heart, she wanted to be free from the nightmare that had become their relationship in the past months, but she couldn’t shake off the lonely feeling that thought brought. How would she start all over if Raymond truly called it quit? What about the time she had invested in the relationship?

Comot for road.” Someone bellowed at her.

She jumped just in time to step off the way of a man pushing a water truck. He sent her an angry look as he passed her. He murmured words Nimi didn’t hear but was sure were abusive. She shook her head. Nimi, think positive thoughts, she admonished herself. Your negative vibe is inviting negativity from people around too. She looked at the man pushing the truck again. He was several feet away from her. His back was bent. That image filled her with sadness. Everyone had problems. They just handled it differently. While she was lost in thought, lightning flashed across the sky, followed by a crashing sound. People took to their heels. Mothers grabbed their children and ran for shelter. Some others came out their houses to call children out in the streets.  Those at the bus-stop became impatient, flagging down tricycle riders. Some walked briskly away.

Nimi joined those walking away. She was sure she wouldn’t get a tricycle; not with the way, people struggled for the empty ones. Raymond’s house was not too far. She could get there in fifteen minutes if she walked fast. Her only prayer was that the rain would hold its peace.

She picked up her pace. Shop owners packed their wares quickly. Some roadside traders positioned their umbrellas properly. Some others filled empty cartons arranged on wheelbarrows with their goods. Nimi branched off at a bend. She would take a shortcut to Raymond’s house. She maneuvered her way through the potholes filled with water, evidence of the rainfall on Sunday night. Children jumped excitedly in front of their houses, expecting the rain. Buckets, water drums were placed under the roof to get rainwater.

Despite her fear of the coming rain and her anxiety over her impending meeting with Raymond, the atmosphere made her feel good. Her face brightened as she stole glances of the happy children. She could pretend to be like them for a while – carefree, innocent and without secrets. This feeling stayed with her until Raymond’s house came into view.

Her heartbeat changed its rhythm. No longer did she feel the relaxed beat of her heart against her ribcage. In its place was a fast rhythm normally used for an ominous scene in movies. Her steps faltered as she drew close to the house. The brown-coloured two-storey building stood out amongst other buildings. It was flanked by two unpainted bungalows. The squared-shaped compound was surrounded by a low fence, and its entrance was marked by a black gate.

Nimi drew closer to the house. Her eyes roamed the first floor of the building and settled on the second flat at the back wing of the compound. It was Ray’s flat. She knew every inch of the house like she knew her own house. The opened window she could see was the second window in Ray’s bedroom. Her eyes stayed on it for a while. Happy thoughts floated in her head like clouds on a bright skyline.  She had been certain of the love they had for each other. Raymond had promised her his heart for eternity. It wasn’t even looking like a couple of months together. She gave a sad shake of her head and moved towards the gate. She pushed opened the small gate and walked in. She walked straight to the flats at the back wing and stood in front of the door that would lead her to Ray’s flat. Before she could stop herself, she did a sign of the cross. I am ready for whatever, she told herself. She repeated this mantra a couple of times before she knocked at the door.

She stood there shifting from one foot to another when Ray came to the door.

She looked up at him. “Good evening, Ray.” She said in a breathless tone.

The smile he gave her didn’t reach his eyes. “Welcome, Nimi. I was just about calling you.” He said, raising the phone in his hands. “I was worried about the weather.” He added.

“It’s okay. I’m here now. We can have our talk.” Nimi said in a bland tone. There was no need beating around the bush. They both knew this talk would either make them or break them.

Raymond looked like he wanted to say something, but changed his mind. He invited her in. She walked past him to the stairs, moving as far away from him as possible. She would keep everything as impersonal as possible. She would just take it as a civil meeting between two people planning a better future for themselves.

When they got to his apartment, he invited her to sit down. She took her seat in one of the black-leathered sofas in the living room and placed her bag on a side stool beside her. Power was out due to the weather, and although it was still early evening, Ray had an electric torch on, placed on the glass table in the middle of the room. The dim light hid the shadows in her eyes and she liked it. She waited now for Ray to speak.

“What would you like?” Raymond asked, standing in front of the refrigerator beside the dining table.

“Nothing,” Nimi answered in a stone cold voice.

“Okay.” He shrugged, then he came to sit with her. “I called you here so we could talk about us.” He told her.

Nimi rolled her eyes. Was it not obvious? She wondered. “Well, guess we should start talking.” She fixed her eyes on his picture frame on the wall. She would stare at anything but his face; even though her picture with him was no longer on the wall where it was the last time she visited him.

Tears prickled in her eyes. He didn’t even wait to officially break up with her before erasing her memory from his life: memories they spent two years building. Anger welled up in her as she waited for him to speak.

He placed his right leg on the couch so he could look straight at her. He took her hand. “Nimi, being with you these past years has been wonderful. Honestly, you made me a better man. I bless the day I met you that day in the bank. You are a charming lady, and I really wish to spend the rest of my life with you…” He scratched his head with his free hand, struggling with the right words.

Nimi regarded him calmly. “But…” She said.

He looked confused. “But what?”

She smiled without humour. “Everything you’re telling me, Ray, will end with a condition. All the accolades will not stop the unpalatable news you want to give me.” She challenged him.

He got up from the couch. “Why do you think it’s unpalatable?” He asked.

Nimi lost her patience. “Please cut the crap, Ray. We both know where this is leading to. Even if I don’t want to admit it, it’s obvious we’re finished.” She snapped at him, anger clouding her face.

He pivoted. “Why would you..?” he started talking, but she raised her hand to cut him short.

“A blind man can see the big hole in this farce that has become our relationship. For crying out loud you took my pictures of the wall.” She pointed out. Unbidden tears rolled down her cheeks. She pressed her lips together to stop them.

Raymond’s eyes went to the wall. Guilt covered his face. He had no explanation to give. He just thought it was better not to be reminded of anything related to her to make the breakup easy for him. He wanted her, but he couldn’t go against his mother. He looked at her now and felt as if a knife was twisted in his gut. His heart broke when he saw the tears she was struggling to hold back. Better to get on with everything so they could move on with their lives.

He cleared his throat, drawing her attention to him. “I’m really sorry, Nimi. I didn’t mean for things to end like this, but I have to obey my mother.” She raised questioning eyes to him. He rushed to explain. “My mother found out that your elder sister ran away from her husband’s house and married his best friend. She went to see a prophet in her church about you and your sister’s character. The prophet told her that it’s in your family’s nature not to stay with one man. She got worried and told me to end it with you.” He finished. He exhaled. Sweet relief, he thought, he had finally said it.

Nimi stood up slowly, her eyes filled with shock. She opened and closed her mouth and no words came out. She placed her hands on her waist and took a deep breath. “This is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard, Ray. To think that I’ve been killing myself these past months, wondering what I have done, and you’ve been holding this against me.”

Laughter bubbled within her and she laughed. For a few minutes, she kept laughing. Raymond looked at her with concern. When she didn’t stop, he came forward to touch her, but she pushed him away. “I know you told your mother about my sister because I told you about it.” She said in an accusatory tone. Shame and guilt washed over Ray’s face confirming what she suspected. She picked her bag from the chair. “You’re not a man, Raymond. You are a boy. Go and marry your mother.” She told him in a tone as cool as ice. She went right past him. She placed her hand on the handle of the door, and faced him “Screw you, Raymond, for wasting my time. Screw everything you represent.” She fired at him, then she walked right out of the door, banging it loudly.

Thanks for reading! I promise to post episode  4 right on time. Question from this episode: What should be the rate of Parents’ involvement in their children’s relationship?

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Love Quest Ep 2

​Welcome back, enjoy this episode.

Episode Two

The conference hall was packed on Tuesday morning as people awaited the arrival of the Chief Executive Officer. Gradually DAA staff members filed into the hall in groups, whispering. The hall soon filled up in no time. Since no one knew the reason for the meeting, they all drew their own conclusions. The Managing Director didn’t give any reason for the meeting when he announced it that morning during team briefing. Guilty eyes roamed the hall. Team members shifted in their chairs.  It was a known fact that the CEO didn’t visit without coming to address an omission or a commission. They all wondered what it was that day.

Nimi and Layefa sat close to each other. They, like others, were anxious about the CEO’s visit. Layefa drew close to Nimi. “Why is he coming?” she asked in a whispery tone. Nimi gave a shrug in response. “I thought he addressed all issues when he visited a few weeks back when we lost the Blue Sea Account.”

“I really don’t know why he is coming, Laye. I just wish he’ll address the issue of shortage of staff in certain departments. I’m tired of working like a ‘Jackie’” Nimi replied. She smiled as she replied her messages on WhatsApp.

“You’re so relaxed.” Layefa accused, eyes going from her face to her phone. “What if he’s coming to deal with us for something we have done?”

Nimi raised her eyes from her phone. She turned to Laye. “We didn’t do anything. Just relax. I don’t know why you’re so worried.” She looked over her shoulder at the person to her right. Her tone dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. “If anyone should be worried, it should be Mr. Uwem.” She smiled.

Layefa smiled too. “Ah, that’s true.” She agreed. “He hasn’t been punished for failing to submit the final design for the Blue Sea Account before we lost it”

The tension left Laye’s body. They had figured out who would be punished when the CEO came that morning. The Blue Sea Account was a major account that would have given the Agency global recognition, but they had allowed it slip out of their hands. The CEO came down hard on all teams and threatened a salary cut for their lost. It took several appeal letters before he reconsidered and launched an investigation into those responsible for the lost. That conclusion pleased Laye as she was not on the Blue Sea team. Nimi, was however on the team; even though Mr. Uwem had a larger part of the blame. 

Laye watched Nimi now who kept chatting on her phone, completely lost to the events in the hall. Her narrow oblong face with angular cheekbones and a pointed chin was beautiful. Her pencil-thin eyebrows rose slightly as a smile spread across her face while her hands flew over her phone’s keypad. The smile lightened up her already glowing, dark skin. It was no surprise that Nimi had the best of all; she was beautiful through and through. She had the love of her life, even if they were having problems. She still had others showing interest in her, and it would definitely be Raymond’s lost to let go of her. 

Laye heaved a deep sigh, fighting the envy rising within her. Nimi was her best friend. It was wrong to be envious of her, but she couldn’t help it. She didn’t have Nimi’s face, neither did she have her figure. The men wouldn’t even notice her. Beside Nimi, she felt like an ugly duckling. Forget the fact that she had an abundance of natural curls while Nimi couldn’t even uncover her short hair. Nimi outshone her in all. If Nimi had been an Art Director in the Agency, she would have been better than Laye. Being an Art Director was her only strong point, and yet she couldn’t judge by that. Nimi was one of the best Copywriters in her team, while she was just struggling to be recognized. She allowed the cold arms of self-pity envelope her as she thought more of her disadvantages. Her mother’s words danced in her head with heavy steps. Her head started aching as she thought of the last argument they had. Her mother had accused her of being an ingrate. She had told her in no simple terms that she was deliberately staying away from men so that she, her mother, would continue in sadness. This conclusion had been based on the number of men she interacted with every day and her refusal to date anyone of them. Her mother couldn’t believe that she was yet to attract any of her male co-workers. What would she do? She rubbed her aching forehead. Her eyes went over the men in the room, from copywriters to art directors, from designers to production artists, name it; DAA had them in shapes and sizes. Who was the one for her? Who would love her as much as she had loved Pere, and not break her heart like he did when it was almost time for them to discuss walking down the aisle?

These questions plagued her mind, sending a resounding headache across her head. Pere had such effect on her. The mere thought of him could cause a panic attack. She could already feel one coming as her heart started beating fast. She clutched her chest and placed a hand on Nimi’s shoulder. Nimi turned to her. Her eyes widened when she saw Laye breathing fast. Before she could react, The MD walked in to inform them of the arrival of the CEO. They all stood up. Nimi kept looking at Laye with concerned eyes. Laye fought for control of her emotions. She repeated the mantra she had recited over and over since her breakup with Pere two years ago and his wedding last year after dating for seven years. Just as she drew a steadying breath, the CEO walked into the hall with a young man. Immediately, Laye’s eyes settled on him, her breathlessness from moments ago was forgotten as her eyes followed the man to the front of the hall. His confident strides struck her and caused a stirring within her. Her mind went to Pere. A stirring course through her body and made her shiver a little. She turned sharply when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

“Hello, handsome,” Nimi whispered her eyes on the young man. “Is he the new Art Director?” She quizzed but continued without waiting for an answer. “I hope he’ll be on someone’s team.” She gave a knowing smile. 

Laye cracked a smile despite her mood. “I know.” She replied in a conspiratorial tone, just as the MD welcomed the CEO. 

The CEO adjusted the mic in front of him, cleared his throat and started speaking. “Good morning to you all.” He greeted. The staff chorused their greeting too. He continued, “Let me start by appreciating you all for the effort you put into making this Agency a great one. It is my prayer that God will reward you accordingly.” A chorus of amen followed his prayer. He expressed his thanks for a few minutes and encouraged them to work harder before moving to the crux of the matter. “I don’t want to dwell on the accounts we have lost, I’m believing that we would do more and get more accounts. To achieve this, I came here today with someone I trust so much and rely on.” He turned to the young man who bowed slightly in acknowledgment of the commendation. “Let me introduce to you the one who will manage the affairs of the Agency in my absence. He is my nephew, but I see him as a son. I introduce to you this morning, the Executive Director of DPassion Advertising Agency, Mr. Ken Timinipre.” He smiled at Ken and drew him closer to him.

The staff applauded the CEO’s announcement. Some faces beamed with smiles while others, in confusion. Laye belonged to the former. She kept grinning from tooth to tooth as Mr. Ken acknowledge their applause with a smile and a nod of the head. When the applause died down, the CEO urged them to work with him and give him all the needed support to make his work easy. He ended by asking Ken to speak to the staff. Laye moved forward in her chair as the ED took the mic.

“I’m glad to be here, and I know we’ll work together for the good of the Agency. Please, feel free to communicate with me if you have any problems. I look forward to a wonderful time with you all. Thank you.” He said.

The staff applauded again. The meeting came to an end, and they all got up to return to their different work areas. Laye pulled Nimi to the Art Office. She quickly shut the door behind her. “Oh, my God! Nimi, what do you think of our new ED” She asked, eyes dancing with delight like a child who found a pack of sweet.

Nimi gave a small smile and shrugged. “Well, he seems cool, but I can’t draw any conclusions yet. It’s his first day after all; in fact, his first hour. Let’s wait and see.” She reasoned.

“There’s something striking about him. Did you notice?” She asked.

Nimi shrugged. “I did.” She admitted. “But I’m not drooling over him like you.” She told her.

Laye opened the door slightly and peeked out. “Working in DAA just got better, Nimi. Everything has changed.” She closed the door and faced Nimi. “We have a young, handsome, hot…hmmm” She closed her eyes.

Nimi came to stand in front of her and snapped her fingers at her. Laye’s eyes flew open. “Snap out of it, Laye. For all you know, he could have a wife and children.”

Laye’s smile wobbled. “That’s true o. I’ll check his hand whenever I’m close to him.” She commented. “Just imagine me taking that ‘hottie’ home to meet my mother; she’ll be off my case forever.” A dreamy look came into her eyes. She turned back to the door.

Nimi laughed. “Dream on, girl. It cost nothing after all.” She teased. Just then, her phone beeped, notifying her of a text message. She drew her lock pattern and read the text. It was from Raymond.

‘Hey, Nimi. How is your day going? Can we meet after work? We need to talk.’

The mirth disappeared from her eyes when she read the text message. She suddenly felt afraid. Her heart pounded in her chest. Is this the solution I’ve been praying for, or the end I’ve been expecting? She pondered. No, she shook her head. The text sounded ominous to be a solution. For crying out loud, he even addressed her as Nimi. Whatever happened to ‘my honey bunch’, ‘sweetie’? Hmmm… what really is behind Raymond’s change? When all should be going well, he suddenly grew distant and cold. For two years, they had it good. He took her to see his mother a few months back, and that was the beginning of his new attitude.

Nimi shook her head in confusion. If the woman didn’t want me, she would have shown it. But she was all smiles and love. 

Laye, sensing the sudden silence, moved away from the door and turned to her friend. Sad lines drew lines on where smiles had brightened just moments ago. “Hey, where did you travel to?” She asked, pushing her lightly.

Nimi drew a deep breath. “Raymond sent a text.” She said simply.

Laye studied her for a while. “What is it about?” she asked, carefully. From Nimi’s look, she surmised it wasn’t a good one.

Nimi gave a light shrug. “Nothing much. He just said we need to talk.” She moved into the office and rested against the window frame. She closed her eyes, trying not to show her fear.

 Laye could read her of course. They have been friends for years, and she has had her own share of heartbreak. She could read the signs, but she would say nothing. She came to stand beside Nimi. “Everything will be fine, Nimi. You and Raymond will work things out. Don’t assume the worst until you meet him.” she placed a comforting arm on Nimi’s shoulder.

Nimi tried to smile, but her lips would not cooperate. They grew tight with anxiety. “I really hope so, Laye. From the depth of my heart, I hope so.” 

The loud knock on the door, followed by a booming voice stalled further discussions. “Laye, open the door! I have things to tidy up.” 

Their eyes went to the clock at the same time. Nimi gasped. “Oh, my God! I have a something to show my Creative Director. See you later, Laye.” She hurried out of the office, almost running into the other Art directors sharing the office with Laye. At the door, she turned to Laye. “Don’t spend your entire day mooning over the Executive Director.” She teased.

Laye’s laughter rang after her as she made her way to her work area. It was time for serious business. She needed it to keep her mind from drifting to Raymond.

**********

Ken sat behind his uncle’s large oak desk. The office was twice the size of that of the manager of the company he worked for in Lagos. It wasn’t his first time being in his uncle’s office, but it was the first time he was there as the boss. He swirled around in the leather chair. His eyes moved from the shelf to the file cabinet; to the television and DVD sets on a small table and to the refrigerator beside the table. Everything was spic and span. He closed his eyes and sent a prayer of thanks to heaven. He didn’t deserve this, but God had made it possible. 

He turned back to the table. He frowned when he saw the piles of files on it. He picked a pile and looked through them. There were application letters and proposal letters. He dropped them. There would be time for all that, he told himself. Now, he had to familiarize himself with the running of the Agency. He pressed the intercom and asked the MD to see him. 

The MD arrived in a matter of minutes. Ken pointed him to a seat in front of him. “Thanks for coming.” He said. The MD nodded. He was a few years older than Ken, but he was a hard worker. Uncle Doutimi had told him that much and had encouraged him to work with him. “I just want an update on the Agency’s activities.” He told him.

“No problem, sir. I’ll get all information across to you.” He replied.

Ken shook his head. “I prefer you call me Ken.” He stated.

The MD laughed. “I’ll think about it.” He winked at Ken. 

Ken smiled. “Alright then. I’ll like to meet with members of the staff after closing tomorrow. Please inform them.”

“Okay. Is that all?” 

“Yes. For now.”

The MD got up and left. Ken looked through more files. God had given him the opportunity, and he was going to make the most of it.

Thanks for reading!  Don’t forget to drop your comment and share.

Love Quest Ep 1

So I’m breaking my silence today! Yes! This is a new series. Join me on this ride as we become a part of Nimi, Laye and Ken’s lives. Happy reading!

Episode One

It was a cool Monday morning, just the way Nimi liked it. She was out of the house at the first light of day. The rain all through the night had not stopped her from her usual practice ever since she joined the staff team of DPassion Advertising Agency. The office was far from her house, and she couldn’t afford to be caught up in the mad traffic of the morning. In fact, she couldn’t afford any delays if she wanted her salary intact at the end of the month. DAA had a zero tolerance for lateness and laziness. It wasn’t as if the salary commemorated the staff input. Still, she loved her job. Working as a copywriter gave her much pleasure. She had only been in DAA for seven months, but she already developed an attachment to her job and her colleagues.

Traffic was light that morning due to the weather. She got a cab in no time and settled in for the twenty minutes’ drive to the office. Her eyes drifted closed and opened as the cool wind blew against her face. Most of the shops they drove past were not opened. The weather had given people the rest they needed but couldn’t afford. Nimi smiled, giving a dramatic shiver. The day would be good, she could tell. Right inside of her, excitement bubbled. For what reason, she couldn’t tell. It was definitely not because of Raymond. A slight frown creased her brows at the thought of him. She shook it off and looked forward with the same enthusiasm from moments ago. Her day would be good and that was all that mattered. Thoughts of Raymond would just have to wait.

When she arrived, she was happy to note that she was the third person to clock in that morning. It was still twenty minutes before the actual resumption time. She straightened her suit skirt and sauntered to the general office. One of the office’s helpers rushed to her and offered to take her bag. She smiled her thanks and handed it over to the girl. The girl joined the Agency a few weeks back when she parted ways with her wicked aunt who brought her to the city as an unpaid maid. Her hardworking and humble personality endeared her to many.

Nimi looked around when she stepped into the office. A satisfactory smile spread across her lips when her eyes fell on her desk. Not a pin was out of place. Her files were stacked neatly on one side of the table, and her team’s files also occupied one part, neatly arranged. Her desktop computer sat comfortably in the middle of the desk. This was the way she loved her desk looking. She pushed her chair back and took her seat. She said another thanks to the helper who carried her bag.

It was time for tea.

She opened her bag and brought out her water flask. She pulled out a drawer and took out two cups. She gave a small smile. It was time for her morning ritual with her friend Layefa. Layefa was never late. When she signed in earlier, she had seen her name as number one.

Nimi got up. She carried the flask and the two cups and went down the hall. Layefa was in her office. She pushed the door and went in.

“Good Morning.” She greeted with a bright smile.

Layefa looked up from the screen of her computer. Her face broke into a smile too. “Good morning, beautiful. You look so goooood.” She commented, looking Nimi over.

Nimi gave a short laugh, waving her off. “Oh please, Laye. You look better.” She replied, also taking in her perfectly shaped ash-coloured suit.

Layefa shook her head. “Forget it, Nimi. You are the brightness of the day.” She countered.

“Then, you are the best rival I have.” Nimi winked at her. They burst into laughter. It was part of their morning ritual to compliment each other’s look until one gave up. It also gave them a good feeling to be complimented, especially on mornings when one stood out; just like this particular morning. Nimi loved everything she had picked out that morning: from the body-fitting suit to the red shoes she had on to match the navy-blue suit, to her beautifully made up face and neatly-packed hair, Nimi knew she was outstanding. She dragged a stool and sat on it. She placed the flask and the cups on the desk. She opened the flask and poured the already made tea into the two cups.

“So, how was your weekend?” She asked Layefa.

Layefa shrugged. “The usual. Mama didn’t stop nagging me about a husband.” She said. Nimi laughed. A sad line crossed Laye’s face. “Really, Nimi, if I knew where they sell husbands, I would have gone to purchase one.”

Nimi threw her head back in laughter, almost falling off the stool. “That’s hilarious, Laye.” She said.

“It’s hilarious to you because you are not in my shoes, Nimi.” She brought the cup to her lips and sipped its content. She lowered the cup. “Mama is really getting on my nerves. She reminds me daily how she single-handedly sponsored me when my father died and left her with a pile of debts. She wants to eat the fruit of her labour before she journeyed to the great beyond.” She gave a resigned shake of her head.

NImi placed a comforting hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Don’t let it bother you so much, Laye. God’s time is the best. Your own man will come at the right time, my dear friend.” She assured her.

“I wish you’ll come and tell my mother that, and she’ll believe you.” She smiled a little. “By the way, what about you and Raymond?” she asked, changing the subject.

Nimi sobered. “It’s the same story, Laye. He hasn’t said anything. He has neither assured me of our future together nor told me why his mother won’t accept me.” She looked down at her cup. “I keep wondering if there’s something I don’t know. He pretends we are okay, but I can see the growing distance in his eyes. I think he’ll call it quit soon.” Tears pooled in her eyes.

“Ah, don’t be like that, Nimi. Don’t let Ray spoil your day. If he’s not man enough to stand up for what he wants then he doesn’t deserve you. You’re one in a million, my friend; the best Copywriter in the whole city.” She praised her.

Nimi rolled her eyes. “Oh please, Laye. You like teasing me.” She coughed a little to clear her choked up throat.

“You know I’m telling the truth.” Laye raised her hands.

“Alright then. Thank God I have the best Art Director as a friend. Now finish up your tea and let’s go to the conference room for team briefing.”

Laye nodded and downed the rest of her tea. She raised the cup as a form of salute to Nimi. “Thanks, Nimi. Now we can boldly face a typical day in DAA.”

Nimi laughed. They got up and walked up the stairs to the conference room. Team briefing in DAA was as important as the actual work.

*************

Ken watched the scene before him in utter dismay. He hated being the reason for any argument how much more between his uncle and his aunty. The argument had been on for over five minutes, and each minute made him more uncomfortable. If he knew heeding his uncle’s call would cause so much problem, he would have stayed back in Lagos. At least, he wasn’t jobless, even though the job offered little. But he would never disobey his uncle, the man who had taken care of him when he lost his father while in junior secondary school two. Having lost his mother at a tender age, he was orphaned in secondary school. God had used his uncle to bring him up. He was grateful for this. However, he didn’t want to be a problem now that he could stand for himself.

He listened again as his aunty poured out malicious words. “Darling, you can’t continue to spoon-feed Ken. Let him find his own way.” She said, throwing Ken a bitter look.

Doutimi sighed heavily. “Nene, how many times will I tell you that Ken is part of my family, and I can do anything to make him comfortable?”

Nene’s face tightened with displeasure. “Fine, but must you give him our son’s inheritance?” She asked, arms folded across her chest in defiance.

Doutimi took his seat and crossed his legs. “Nene, Douye is a medical doctor. He wants nothing to do with DAA. He has made that clear over and over again. Ken is the right man. He has administrative knowledge. Making him the Executive Director of DAA will make a great impact on the Agency, and it would be for the best.” He explained.

Nene didn’t back down. “But there are directors in the Agency. What is the need for another director?” She demanded.

Doutimi straightened, his patience waning. “Yes, we have directors, but I said executive director. I want someone to monitor the activities of the Agency. You know we’re not stable in the country. I want someone that can be reached easily when we are away on one of my numerous business trips.” He told her gently, trying not to snap at her.

“It’s just so unfair.” She muttered tears in her eyes.

Doutimi regarded her calmly, reigning his anger. He knew what she was doing. She wanted to pull the guilt card on him. It had worked other times, like when she insisted Ken attended a federal university instead of a private one like their son. It won’t work this time. He would help his nephew whether she liked it or not. His recent trip to Lagos confirmed what he suspected all along: Ken was living poorly. His job was nothing to write home about. He couldn’t have all this luxury and see his nephew struggling to make ends meet. He fixed Nene with an unyielding look. “Sorry, Nene, you can’t have what you want this time. Ken is now the Executive Director of DPassion Advertising Agency, so deal with it. I’ll take him to the Agency tomorrow to be introduced to his staff.” He told her.

She looked at him maliciously for a few seconds, then she stormed off in a huff. Doutimi watched her go. She would get over it when she sees the result of Ken’s hard work in DAA, he assured himself. He turned to Ken. “Congratulations, my dear.” He smiled at him.

Ken shifted uncomfortably in his chair. His eyes kept going to the way his aunty had stormed off. “I’m sorry, Uncle, but I can’t accept your offer.” He said, not looking at him.

The smile slipped off Doutimi’s face. “Why, Ken? Because of your aunty?” He inquired. Ken gave a small nod. “Don’t worry about her. You should be used to her after all these years. Listen, Ken, I really need your help in DAA. Things haven’t been going so well for some time now. We lost two major accounts last month and the team of directors couldn’t explain what went wrong. I need you, Ken. I trust your administrative skills. Please do this for your old uncle.” He appealed to him.

Ken considered this for a while, then he smiled. “Alright, Uncle. I’ll work as DAA’s executive director.” He answered.

“Excellent.” His uncle beamed at him. He got up from the couch and offered a hand to Ken. “Welcome on board, Ken.”

Ken accepted his uncle’s handshake. “Thank you, Uncle. I won’t disappoint you.” He assured.

Doutimi gave a nod. “Yes, yes. I know you won’t. Just give it your best shot.” He encouraged.

“I will,” Ken said, more to himself than to his uncle. It was time to prove himself as a man, no matter what his aunty thought of him.

IMG_20171120_134539

This is how I look when I know the holiday is near and  I have enough time to tell stories. Yay!!!!! Thanks, guys, for all your support. Thanks for taking your time to read my stories.

Photo Credit: Me, myself and I

Cover Photo Credit: finding love: Google images

Old Flame Ep 20B

Episode 20B

Finally!!! This is the concluding part of Old flame, the story of Tolu and Ebika. happy reading!

Tolu searched through the box of pictures he had carried into his bedroom from the study. He had given up on sleep the previous night when it eluded him and filled him with memories of what the past had been. He had also spent the better part of the night thinking of all that he had discussed with Chris. His friend had listened to him pour out his heart. He admitted the mess he had made of his life and how difficult it would be to fix it. His heart ached badly when he thought of all the hurt he had caused Eladebi and his children. Guilt also wrapped his heart like a fine wrapper around a woman’s waist. The mere thought of what he had done to Ebika, and what he might do made his heart heavy with guilt.

He scratched his day-old beard. Things were so complicated, but must be put in order notwithstanding. It was the same thing Chris had said. He had given him a shoulder to lean on and not the I-told-you-so attitude. His encouragement, and not mockery, had given him more reasons to be engaged in the deep soul searching he started in the night.

He finally found the picture he was looking for. It was one of his favourite of all his wedding pictures. It was the picture that had given hope to his marriage with Eladebi. The picture that reassured him that he had done the right thing by marrying Eladebi. Their posture in the picture told the story of their determination; determination to shame those who thought their coming together doomed.

He smiled as he looked at his wife. Eladebi had given the brightest smile when the picture was taken. She had wrapped her arms around his waist and looked lovingly into his eyes. In that look, he had seen all the love she felt for him, and the hope she had for their marriage. With his arms around her waist and eyes on her too he had given hope to her hope. That brief but special moment during the photo session doused the doubts in his heart and filled it with peace instead. It gave him the confidence to believe in his marriage with Eladebi. True, it wasn’t so rosy at the beginning, but they pulled through and shared laughter, joy, and friendship before he lost it.

Holding the picture, he moved to the bed and laid on his back, then he opened the floodgate of his heart and allowed the memories to flow through.

And they did flow.

The times they shared, both good and bad, came back to him like pictures on motion. Pictures after pictures of shared laughter, smiles, and jokes flashed through his mind. Eladebi’s joy each time she served their food, her superb mothering skills that gave their children the perfect setting for normal growth touched his heart now. She laughed at his jokes that weren’t really funny. He couldn’t remember her criticizing him once; even when he started treating her bad. He blanched when those pictures came next. All the times he had hurt her and brought tears to her eyes came back to him. He had put more tears in her eyes and caused her lips to quiver in sheer pain than smiles. He closed his eyes in shame when he thought of what he had done before sending her packing.

‘Oh, Eladebi.’ He wept. He had taken advantage of her kind-and-loving heart. The thought filled him more and more and made something that had always been lurking in his heart clear to him: he loved Eladebi. He drew himself up as the thought of how much he loved his wife and all she meant to him sank in. This excited his heart and brought a happy smile to his face but it brought more troublesome thought. If the love he felt was his wife had not died, then what did he feel for Ebika? What kept him so attached to her like a chain around a dog’s neck? The more he thought about it, the more he became confused. He ran a hand through his thick head and threw his head backward.

“What a mess you’ve made, Tolu.” He said out loud.

Yes, he had to put things right even if it earned him eternal hatred. He didn’t mind grovelling before both women to convey his apology. He would continue to ask for forgiveness for all the hurt he had caused his wife and his children and Ebika. He picked up his phone, drew a deep breath and dialled Ebika’s number.

*************

Ebika burst into a happy dance when she ended Tolu’s call. Just some minutes ago she had been wallowing in self-pity and cursing herself for leaving Bina who was her bird in hand, and now Tolu wanted them to meet in one of the best hotels in town. That banished every form of regret and thought of Bina. She still felt bad though that Tolu ignored her all through yesterday and caused her sleepless night, his call had put her world back in order. To think that she had even called in sick and so had not gone to work because of how depressed she had been when she heard nothing from Tolu despite numerous calls. Hearing his voice reinvigorated her. She felt strengthened.

She dashed into the bathroom to quickly take her bath, then she dressed up in a lovely peach-coloured straight gown; an off-shoulder gown that would show-off her delicate bone structure. She removed the hair rollers from her weave-on and combed lightly. Curls fell about her neck causing a silky bob. She flipped it, and it gave a gracious bounce and settled around her neck again. She looked at herself in the mirror and smiled back at her reflection. She liked what she saw and was sure Tolu would like it too. He would once again know that she was the only one for him as he was the only one for her. She slipped her feet into her silver-coloured low heel sandal and strapped it lightly around her ankle, then she picked up a silver purse to match. As she swayed out of the house, she felt certain all would be well because she had chosen the right man.

Her confidence waned when she got to the room that Tolu had told her he would be. She had expected romantic atmosphere with flowers and all, at least they were meeting in a hotel room, but she had not seen any of that. Tolu had asked her in without coming to answer the door and he had greeted her with a brief smile from his position beside the window with arms across his chest.  There had been no hug or sweet words. He just asked her how was she was doing and if she didn’t have difficulty coming down. He sounded more boring than Bina at that moment. He seemed to prefer looking out the window than talking to her.

When ten minutes passed and no meaningful word had passed between them, Ebika spoke up.

“What is going on?” She asked, feeling the first rush of anger. “If you knew you so loved what is beyond that window then you shouldn’t have called me here. You could just stay and enjoy the view on your own. I can’t imagine leaving my house to come and watch you looking out of the window.” She bit her bottom lip to reign in her anger. “You haven’t even apologized for what you did yesterday.” She added.

Tolu moved away from the window and came to sit in front of her. “I’m sorry, Ebika, so sorry.” He told her in a sombre tone.

Ebika? Tolu just called her by her name and not the sweet names she had gotten used to. An alarm went off in her head. She looked closely at him and noticed his uncombed hair and roughed jaw. She became worried when she saw the circles under his eyes. What was happening?

“Ebika, I’m really sorry,” Tolu repeated.

“It’s okay.” She answered, clasping and unclasping her fingers on her laps.

Tolu got up and came to kneel before her. She looked at him, mouth agape. “What is the meaning of this?” She asked. She looked down at her finger and saw the engagement ring he gave her still there. What then was the reason for him kneeling before her?

“Ebika, I’ve kept some…” he coughed a little. “I should have told you this long ago, but I thought it would affect our relationship and I wanted you by my side.”

Ebika waited with bated breath, her heart beating against her chest like a sea against a rock. A sudden feeling of unease crept up her back.

“Forgive me, Ebika. Please forgive me”

“Just tell me and get over it.” She told him in a tension-filled tone.

“I have a…” he hesitated.

Ebika pulled his hand. “Let it out, Tolu.” She urged, trying not to sound desperate.

He let out a breath. “I have a wife and… and two children.” He said quickly looking away from her.

Shock slapped her across her face. She pulled away opening and closing her mouth. She placed a hand over her trembling lips. How could it be? A wife? Two children? Was that the reason why he invited her to a place like this to shatter her heart? Unbidden tears filled her eyes and started rolling down her cheek.

“How could you?” She cried. “How could you do this to me, Tolu?”

“Ebika, I’m sorry. I had to let you know.”

She wiped her tears with the back of her palm. “Where are they?” She asked.

“My wife and our children are with a friend since I… I sent them packing a couple of months back.” He shifted his eyes from her.

Ebika shook her head. What had she gotten herself into? Tolu was married. All the while he was with her he had a wife and children, and yet he had behaved as if she meant the world to him. He had been playing her and had proposed marriage? What would happen to his wife and children if she decides to go on with him? Could she really bear tearing down a home just to get her heart desire? A lump formed in her throat. She pressed a hand to it as if to push down the lump. She waited for Tolu to speak but he didn’t. He just kept staring at the door behind her.

“What do we do now?” Ebika inquired a sober tone.

Tolu looked at her. The look in his eyes didn’t assure her that he had a favourable solution to what had become a very tangled web. Her heart that started beating earlier just before he dropped the bombshell of his wife and his children doubled its beat. Tolu touched her hand.

“I hope you can forgive me, Ebika. I never meant to hurt you. I thought I was doing the right thing.”

Ebika pulled her hand away from his. “You didn’t mean but you hurt me still.” She replied.

“I thought about everything deeply. Ebika,” He called softly taking her hand again in a firm grasp. “Please forgive me.”

She tried to pull free again, but Tolu held on fast. “Let me plead my case.” He pleaded. After a while, Ebika stopped struggling with him. He sighed. “Ebika, what we shared in school was special and what we felt was real. I can’t deny that fact. Meeting you again was like giving an alcoholic drink to a man who has sworn never to take alcohol again. I couldn’t resist the fire you sparked in me when I saw you again. I got drunk with you and I had to explore this feeling. And I did. We both couldn’t deny the fire burning in us and it led us to this point. All I wanted was you…” He let go of her hand and placed his hands on his face.

“But…” Ebika chipped in.

Tolu dropped his hands on his laps. “But we… we can’t be together. Everything had been a fantasy, Ebika. My wife and my children are my reality and I love them dearly. I realized everything we’ve done has been on memories of our past together. I have come to know how much my wife means to me and I hope to win her again. I am truly sorry for everything. I don’t mind grovelling before you both for the rest of my life just to ask for forgiveness. Ebika,” He leaned towards her. “Forgive me.”

Tears filled Ebika’s eyes and ran down her cheeks like a fountain. It was difficult to gather her thoughts. She looked at Tolu but couldn’t even see him right before her because her tears blinded her. Her head started pounding. She placed her arms around her body and rocked it side to side. Mucus flowed out of her nostrils and mixed with her tears spilling down her lips.

“Ebika,” Tolu called her in a panicky tone. He held her by the shoulders and shook her a little. “Ebika.”

“You… you… you are going back to your wife?” She forced the words out in a shaky tone.

Tolu let her go, releasing a heavy sigh. “I’m sorry, Ebika.”

She fell on the floor, her eyes rolling in their sockets. Nothing made sense to her. Her head kept bobbing to an unknown music. Her whole body shook convulsively. Tolu rushed to her in a full panic mood. He placed a hand under her head and called her name. She couldn’t respond as her tongue was heavy with the same heaviness in her heart. When he got no response from her, he carried her and ran out of the room down to the parking lot where his car was parked. Between the room and the parking lot, her senses came back to her. She opened her eyes and stared at Tolu. It was all clear to her: Tolu was leaving her. He was going back to his wife. Anger like a raging fire welled up inside of her. She pushed his chest and he set her on her feet.

“Ebika, I’m sorry. Please for…”

She silenced him with a slap across his cheek. Tolu staggered looking dazed. She straightened her dress and walked away from him with the pride she had no more. He called her severally but she didn’t look back. She had no more business with him. What she felt didn’t end back in school had finally ended, and she had the scars now to show for it. The scars that would last for eternity had been caused by her. If she had not been carried away she wouldn’t be where she was. She cried hard as she as she made her way out of the hotel. She didn’t mind the curious glances or stares of the people she passed on the way. They didn’t know the pain in her heart. They didn’t know what it meant to see a light and still choose to walk into darkness. She had run from the light complaining of his dullness and chased after a bright light that was just a mirage. Just that morning she had thought all was alright. It was just past midday and her world had turned upside down. Who will hear her story and not laugh at her? Who will hear her story and not put the blame on her? Oh, tongues that would wag! Oh, lips that would sing her mockery. Oh, fingers that will point at her as a warning to erring youth. She had paid the drummer and now she must dance to his beats.

The pain in her heart became unbearable. She clutched her chest and leaned against a tree few metres from the hotel. Fresh tears filled her eyes again and came running down like a stone on a sloppy hill. Oh God! Oh, God! She wept. She thought of the days she would walk in the darkness she had created for herself and prayed for a little light to ease her darkness. She thought of Bina and Doubara. Their laughter would hurt her the most. While she wallowed in sorrow, pain, and darkness, they would be joyful and would progress.

Just a little light, oh Lord. Just a little light I pray. She bent down and wept. How long she stayed like that she couldn’t tell until a hand touched her. She looked into the concerned eyes of a man.

“Young woman, what is the matter?” He asked.

She said nothing and just kept staring at him. He smiled at her and stretched a hand to her. “Come, let me help you.”

She stared at his hand for a few heartbeats and then she placed hers in his. As he pulled her up and led her to a car parked across the gutter, she sent a silent prayer to heaven within her. ‘I’m not asking for a lot, oh Lord, for I don’t deserve it. All I ask for is a little light.’ She prayed for a light to walk down the dark tunnel that had become her life. Whether she would get it or not she couldn’t tell.

THE END.

Dear Readers,

It’s been a great time writing the story of Tolu and Ebika. I hope you liked it. I trust you also learned one or two things from it. Thank you for your time. God bless you for going on this journey with me. If you have truly enjoyed Old Flame, please don’t just read this episode; drop your reviews. I REALLY need them. My next story is titled LOVE QUEST. It will be on the blog soon. Just keep in touch.

To end this, please answer this question: Who deceived who? Tolu or Ebika?

P.S: Answering the question doesn’t take the place of your review.  If you think I’ve done a good work, then let me hear it. Until next time, keep reading.

Faith P.I

 

 

Old Flame Ep 20

Hey, guys! Thanks for your patience. This is the first part of the final episode of Old flame. The concluding part will be on the blog on Thursday. Happy reading!

Episode Twenty

His phone was ringing again. Tolu raised his eyes and noticed the Permanent Secretary looking at him. His hands were on the table and he must have felt the phone’s vibration. It was the fourth time it was ringing in ten minutes. That did not include the previous times it rang before the meeting commenced formally. He pressed the end button, but not before he checked the caller ID. He sighed when he saw it. Ebika was making him uncomfortable. All the calls he had received in the last hour had been from her. It annoyed him more to think that he told her he had an important meeting to attend with some stakeholders that would boost his business connections. He didn’t expect her to be calling so much. He picked the phone from the table and dropped it in his pocket. He smiled at the Perm Sec and nodded a few times to one of the businessmen giving analysis on economic growth.

Five minutes passed. He sighed with relief. Oh, sweet peace! He muttered within. His phone hadn’t vibrated. Ebika must have gotten the message that he couldn’t take her call. His mind was more focused on the deliberations now. Just when he was all set to contribute, his phone started vibrating in his pocket. Almost as a reflex action, he quickly looked at his pocket as he stood up. His hand held the offending phone in his trouser pocket. He heard a loud sigh, and didn’t have to look up to know who had sighed. He couldn’t mistake his voice even when they had spoken to each other for the first time couple of months ago. The voice could break through the strongest heart and leave you shivering. If he hadn’t created a gap between Chris and him, he would have invited him to come with him. Now, he waited for that voice to tell him off.

“Mr Smooth, why don’t you go outside to answer your call?” He said gently.

The undertone was apparent.

Tolu gave a polite nod. “Thank you, sir.” He replied.

He took long strides and walked out of the hall. He was grateful for the venue of the meeting. Unique Hotel could handle the mood he was in. He was very furious with Ebika, and he needed to cool off.

He walked down the stairs and straight out of the doors, waiting for her to call again. He drew a deep breath when he stepped outside. He lifted his palm and used it as a fan to cool his burning face. It wasn’t like the weather was hot. In fact, the meeting hall had good air conditions, but he couldn’t stop the heat that crept up his body each time he saw Ebika’s call. It was almost like he had a choking chain around his neck. He ran a hand over his neck as if to be sure he didn’t truly have a chain around it.

He sighed when his hand fell to his side. Ebika was becoming too tenacious. She suddenly felt all clingy to him. The same Ebika that was playing hard to get sometimes back. What had changed? Was a ring that powerful? He shut his eyes tightly and imagined himself having no worries at all. He tried a smile to back up the imagination, but it didn’t work. He ended up with a deep frown when he opened his eyes. Just then, a couple walked past him hand-in-hand, smiling into each other’s eyes. Before he could pronounce doom on their love, two boys of about ten rolled two boxes past him. They wore identical Tees and Shorts. One ran ahead and called to the couple. They stopped and called back to him, then both boys ran to meet up with them at the entrance.

Tolu shook his head sadly. He wanted a family just like theirs. Truth was he had that few months back but he threw away what he had for what he was beginning to doubt. Eladebi’s patience, kind-and-loving heart could never be matched. It was why he hadn’t found it difficult to marry her back when she became pregnant for him. At the face of threats and challenges, she had stood her ground against forcing anything on him, and when he had agreed to marry her, she hadn’t become overtly possessive or vengeful. She had seen it all as a partnership. He had offered her his shoulders for tears and his strength for her weakness when she felt she couldn’t go on, especially when the mockery became worse. Those days had been filled with more tears than laughter, but they had grown through it and built a loving relationship. What drew his heart closer to Eladebi back then was her kindness. Not once did she accuse him for ruining her life. She loved him with the whole of her heart. How he could now pay her with such cruelty was beyond him. Tolu tried to imagine Ebika in similar situation and doing the same thing, but he couldn’t. Ebika would not have taken things as Eladebi had taken them. While she had her own good sides, Tolu doubted patience to be one of her virtues. Eladebi on her part had all he wanted. Just as that line of thought flittered into his heart, his eyes grew big in realization. The realization of what Eladebi meant to him and what he felt for her filled his darkened heart with light.

He staggered. “What am I doing?” He asked aloud.

Making a fool of yourself, a small voice responded within him.

He placed both palms on either side of his cheeks. His phone rang just then. He guessed the caller again. It was Ebika. He stared at her image but made no attempt to answer the call. Few seconds after the call ended, he received a message notification. He hesitated for a few heartbeats before checking it.

“I hope you’re not ignoring my calls because of another lady right there. You promised to love me alone and that is what I expect. Don’t you dare break my heart after all I gave up for you. Let’s finalize the plans for our wedding. The sooner the better. Love you.”

While he was used to the first statement in the text message, the others laid a heavy burden on his heart. He had made a big mess and he had no way of getting out of it. There was no way he would repair all he had done without hurting Ebika. She would hate him for life. He could just go on with her. But that would mean cutting off from his children forever. He couldn’t bear that. He scratched his head vigorously. I need help. Oh, Lord, help me. He muttered within.

“Tolu.” Someone called from behind.

The voice sounded familiar. He turned around slowly and saw Christopher, hands in his pocket standing a few feet from him. Tolu’s eyes widened in surprise.

 

 

 

 

 

Old Flame Ep 19

Welcome back, friends. Did I take too long before posting this episode? Yes! I’m sorry about that. Enjoy this episode. The end is near.

Episode Nineteen

 From the moment Ebika saw Bina and Doubara together she knew she would approach them. She couldn’t imagine letting them go without showing off her engagement ring. It would surely put them in their places after all the bad things they have said about her. She had been the object of ridicule since her breakup with Bina became an open secret. People had taken Bina’s side. None had considered that she had a right to her own choice of man. Some have even declared doom. How they got to know that she was involved with another man did not surprise her at all. Doubara had told them all. It was her turn for payback. The rejected stone has become the chief cornerstone. She smiled as she looked down on her ring finger. Bina had not even given her a wrist bangle not to mention a ring. Now she had a gold engagement ring.

Her smile grew wider as she approached them. She swayed her hips as she took step after step. She shook her left fingers as she moved past rows of seats to cover the distance between her and Bina and Doubara. From the corner of her eyes, she saw one girl tap the other and pointed to her as she walked past them. It made her giggle. She was on top of her game, and she would shine like they have never seen.

Bina saw her first because he was facing her. Doubara didn’t see her immediately. She had her back to her. Bina abrupt silence caused her to turn back. She followed Bina’s gaze and trailed it to Ebika. Doubara’s face reflected her displeasure. It matched Bina’s face too.

Their cool stares didn’t deter her. She was on a mission, and she would carry it out successfully. No one would put her down. She had what she had always wanted: the love of the man she adored, financial security, a good house and wonderful companionship. Bina could never meet up with that in years if she had to wait for him. She was grateful she didn’t have to.

When she finally got to them, she put up a very bright smile and spoke in a musical voice, “Hello, guys,” she greeted.

“Hi, Ebika,” Doubara replied. Her voice wasn’t welcoming.

Bina kept silent. He just kept staring at her coolly.

Ebika didn’t mind his reaction. It made her happy instead that she could bring such emotion in him.  She regretted that she had a short weave-on. A long weave-on would have given her the opportunity to toss her hair over her shoulder and show off all Bina was missing. She tried her best to charm them both.

“I saw you standing together and I decided to come and give you a wonderful news.” She said in a cherry tone.

Bina and Doubara waited for the news. She smiled. Their lack of interest would not stop her.

“The big news is…” She met their eyes one after the other and then continued, “I got engaged!” She shrieked in delight, shoving her left hand in their faces.

Bina drew back. He regarded her for a few seconds, shook his head and walked away without saying a word.

Ebika’s smile slipped.

Doubara shook her head too and turned to take her leave too. Ebika’s hand shot out and held her in place.

“Won’t you say anything?” She questioned Doubara, sounding desperate.

Doubara unwrapped her fingers around her wrist and looked her straight in the eyes. “You’re engaged, good for you.” She said with a sly smile, then she walked away.

Ebika watched her departing back and felt the first slash of shame wash over her. It wasn’t payback; it was pay off. Bina and Doubara had brought her low. She hadn’t seen any pain in Bina’s eyes when he looked at her engagement ring. She had seen pity instead. Did he pity her? Worried lines creased her forehead. Why should he pity her? He should be sad that he had lost her. He should be ashamed that he wasn’t man enough to keep her.

And what about Doubara?

Her friend had neither been jealous nor pained as she had expected her to be. Instead, she had made her feel like she just signed a wrong deal.

Ebika shook herself. Why couldn’t Doubara see that she had taken the best decision? She pondered on this as she walked back to where she left her bag with less grace.

She picked up her bag and slugged it over her shoulder. She walked slowly out of the church auditorium. She took no notice of the youths who stood in groups at the entrance discussing. Her mind was filled with Bina and Doubara.

Her thoughts didn’t ease as she prepared her dinner when she got home. She placed her hand on the counter in the kitchen and thought some more about it. Why she couldn’t push it off her mind she couldn’t tell. She closed her eyes and tried to conjure all the qualities she loved in Tolu that Bina didn’t have. They seemed inconsequential as she thought about it. She thought of her motive for accepting Tolu next. She tried to assure herself that it was because of the deep love she had for him and how he made her feel, but something in her wouldn’t agree with that.

Her forehead puckered. She turned her engagement ring in her finger. She forgot about the rice she had on the fire as thoughts after thoughts unfolded in her heart. She didn’t know how long she stayed that way until she started coughing. She turned around and noticed the fumes from the pot of rice was filling the kitchen. She turned off the cooker in quickly, coughing profusely. Douye came running in.

“What happened?” Douye asked, coughing too.

Ebika coughed some more and pointed towards the door. They left the kitchen in a dash. When they got to the living room, they both gulped fresh air.

“What happened?” Douye asked again.

“I don’t know. I guess I turned off from the kitchen for a while and that was the result.” Ebika explained, remembering where her mind had been before the rice started burning.

Douye eyed her suspiciously. “What are you thinking about?” She quizzed.

Ebika let out a long sigh. She plopped into a couch and fixed her eyes on the door. “I saw Bina and Doubara together.” She said simply.

Douye raised an eyebrow in a what-about-it fashion. “So?”

Ebika turned to her slowly. “They seem to be dating now.” She told her, screwing up her face in displeasure.

Douye smiled. “Good for them. They fit each other.” She took the seat opposite Ebika. “But, why do you look bothered?”

Ebika got up, crossed her arms over her chest and started pacing. “I should be happy for them. I should be relieved that Bina has found someone, but I’m not. I’m filled with jealousy, anger, that Doubara took my place so quickly. It simply means she was eyeing Bina while we were together. She wanted him for herself. She was just waiting for me to get out of the way.” She stated, her face twisting with anger.

Douye gaped at her. She could not say anything.

“Don’t look at me like that, Douye,” Ebika said, looking down at her where she sat. “I know what I feel right here.” She touched her chest. “How could they have gotten together so fast after our breakup?”

Douye blinked. “Did they tell you they are dating now?”

Ebika huffed. “They didn’t tell me, but it is quite obvious they are. I could read in between the lines. Even when I announced my engagement, they were not even moved by it.”

“But you have Tolu now. He is far better than Bina.” Douye reminded her.

“I know, but Bina seems so loving with Doubara. He was never like that with me. Why didn’t he do that with me? Maybe I wouldn’t have broken up with him. I don’t want him showing the kind of love he didn’t show to me to another lady.” Ebika pouted.

Douye let out a breath. “Ebika, I know I advised you to go for the best and you chose Tolu, but you have to let Bina go. If his happiness is with Doubara, then don’t fight it. What he does with his life shouldn’t concern you anymore. Tolu is the one for you, and he loves and adores you. Bina has nothing to offer you.”

Ebika dropped back into her seat. “You’re right again, Douye. I shouldn’t concern myself with Bina. It doesn’t matter if my heart feels jealous that he is with my ex-best friend. I have the best, and that is Tolu. He is all I want. I will love and cherish him forever.” A smile lit up her face. She sat up straight. “Thanks, Douye.” She touched her leg slightly. “You just got me back on track. For a while, I was doubting my decision to be with Tolu, but you made me see everything clearly. Who will have Tolu and choose Bina?” She laughed a little.

Douye shrugged. “I wonder.” She replied. “Enjoy your life, dearest Coz.”

Ebika nodded and settled back in her chair. Her eyes drifted closed as loving thoughts of Tolu filled her heart.

Photo Credit: Google images

Old Flame Ep 18

Episode Eighteen

 Tolu stood in front of the dress mirror and adjusted his tie. He was getting set to meet with Ebika for a dinner date. It was the fifth dinner they were having in the four weeks they’ve been together. He had learned fast that he couldn’t meet up with the demands of the kitchen and so he had chosen one of his favourite restaurants where they could be served and treated right. He didn’t have to worry about the dirty dishes in the sink anymore, or cleaning the kitchen.

If Ebika wanted to be entertained, he was equipped for that. He would pamper her as he should have done back then. He would treat her like the queen she was. It was her right to be treated right by him. His only regret was letting go of fresh home-made meals. Eladebi took pride in cooking for him and the children. She hardly subscribed to eating out. He had also gotten used to having his meals at home until he decided Eladebi was no longer an interesting companion during meals.

He shook his head. Were things so bad with her? He had no answer for the question that filtered into his heart. All he could say was that he was with Ebika and would make the most of it. The feelings he had for her were genuine and he would explore it as much as he can to secure his happiness. Eladebi was getting to understand that now. He finally told her the truth about the state of his heart towards her and his affections for Ebika when her calls and text messages won’t stop coming in. He told her he had moved on and someone else was in his life now. Her reaction had been a deep sigh. She sent a message after that to tell him the usual since their separation: she was praying for him.

He raked a hand through his hair. Her resilience baffled Tolu. Her never-say-die spirit caused him moments of guilt. She had even offered to bring the children to see him, but he declined. Though he missed them greatly, he couldn’t stand bridging the gap just yet. His emotions were still raw where they were concerned. He hoped they would understand too. His relationship with Ebika had sailed smoothly so far. It was time to dissolve the marriage between him and Eladebi. That way, she would stop being hopefully, especially with his plans for dinner that day.

A smile curved his lips, wiping off the worried lines that gathered there. He dipped his hand into his pocket and cradled the jewel box he had purchased the day before. He brought it out of his pocket and clicked it open. In the middle of the box sat a golden engagement ring. He was ready to pop the question. Excitement flowed through him like electric currents. It was the first time he would be doing that. He didn’t ask Eladebi to marry him. They just agreed it was the right thing to do considering the situation they were in then.

His smile grew wider.

Everything was turning around for him. He had fallen in love again, in fact more deeply than the first time, and he was fortunate to fall in love over and over again with the same woman.

He slid the box back into his pocket. He would ensure that the evening was one of Ebika’s best in her life.

He applied his hair cream to his hair and combed it to a fine sheen. He winked at his reflection. “You are the man.” He said. He picked his car keys and left the bedroom. Just as he prepared to step into his car, the gateman ran to the gate at the loud honking from outside the gate. Tolu watched as he confirmed who was at the gate, then he pushed open the gate.

The red car that drove in belonged to Christopher. His excitement seemed to vanish with the evening breeze. He shut his car door and waited for him to alight.

Christopher alighted and made his way to him. Tolu refused to close the distance between them. He stood where he was, right beside his car with his one hand resting on the car and the other in his pocket.

“Hi, Tolu.” Chris greeted with a smile.

“Hi.” Tolu answered, forcing his lips to smile in return.

Chris’ eyes swept over him. “Is it a wrong time?” He inquired.

Tolu sighed. It wouldn’t be a lie if he told him it was, but his relationship with Chris had gone beyond that level; notwithstanding their disagreement about a month ago. Chris must have the same thick skin as his wife because he also didn’t give up the calls and messages even when he didn’t reply his calls, nor acknowledge his messages. It was no big surprise that Chris visited the house. He knew he would soon show up to follow up his ignored calls and messages. He looked into the eyes of his friend now.

“It’s okay. I have some time to spare.” He replied coolly.

Chris looked towards the house. Tolu didn’t rise to the bait. Inviting Chris in would elongate whatsoever he wanted to say. It was better to let him feel he was delaying him. When he didn’t make any move to invite him to the house, Chris sighed and started out with why he was there.

“You haven’t been picking my calls, Tolu.” He said. “Are things that bad between us?” He asked, flashing yet another smile.

Tolu’s expression dulled. He looked away from Chris. “No.” He croaked. It wasn’t the entire truth, but he wouldn’t tell him that. He still didn’t want him to interfere in his relationship with Ebika. His eyes went back to Chris. “Listen, Chris, I know you mean well, but I know what is best for me. Ebika is my life and I can’t change how I feel because you have taken it upon yourself to tell me how wonderful Eladebi is.” A muscle in his jaw twitched as he spoke. He tried to soften the harshness in his tone with a smile but his lips refused to cooperate.

Chris smiled, seemingly unaffected by his harsh tone. He was a man on a mission and he would deliver the message he had for Tolu even if he barred him from his house and office.

“Tolu,” he started in a friendly tone. Let him hear, Oh Lord, he prayed in his heart. “I don’t want you to see me as an enemy. I don’t want you to think that I don’t have your interest at heart. We’ve been friends for years, and I love you like a brother. I would not want you to make a terrible mistake.”

Tolu’s nose flared at that. Chris raised his hand to stop the words that were just on the tip of Tolu’s lips. He was certain they were not compliments.

“I’m not trying to paint Ebika as a bad person. In fact, she is a victim because I know she is not aware of your marital status.” Chris challenged. Tolu’s eyes went straight to his feet. His earlier bravado was nowhere in sight. A knowing smile curved Christopher’s lips. “You’re not just hurting one person, Tolu, but two. You’re hurting Eladebi, who is your lawfully wedded wife under God and the law, and Ebika, who is unsuspecting of your secret.”

“She will forgive me. I know she will. I want nothing to do with Eladebi. Ebika is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with.” Tolu informed him in an unsteady voice.

Chris gave a nod. “You have said that over and over again. I really want to believe Ebika will forgive you when she knows what you’re hiding, but that’s not why I am here. I just want you to know that you’re destroying someone’s self-esteem. You’re putting her down and chewing her out. Think of the damage you’re doing to your wife: physical, emotional, mental and social damages. You think she is so strong and she won’t break. She is holding on by a thin thread. What about your children, Tolu? This love you feel for Ebika is it worth giving up the love and respect of your children. Can you withstand their hatred and disrespect for life? Above all, Tolu, think of God’s words on this. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the almighty God. Eladebi’s strength is in God. Don’t wait until He fights for her. Fight for her and the love God blessed you both with. Fight for your children and the future God has designed for you all. Had I known is the father of I don’t care.” He placed a hand on Tolu’s shoulder and patted it lightly. “Do the right thing, Tolu.” He turned away and walked briskly to his car.

For several seconds after Chris’ departure, Tolu couldn’t move. His heart thumped loudly in his chest. The words of Chris kept replaying in his head. It was just like a song.

Fight for her and the love God blessed you both with.

Fight for your children and the future God has designed for you all.

Do the right thing, Tolu.

Do the right thing, Tolu.

Do the right thing, Tolu.

He placed his hands over his head. “No! I won’t listen to you, Chris. I won’t allow your words enter my heart. I will marry Ebika, and love and cherish her forever.” He said out loud, his eyes shut tightly. He repeated this a couple of times until he felt a hand on his elbow. His eyes flew open, staring into the worried eyes of the gateman.

“Oga, are you alright?” The gateman asked.

Tolu dropped his hands, and then he straightened his suit. “Yes, yes, I am fine.” He answered with a straight face. “Go and open the gate.”

The gateman nodded and went to do as he was told.

Tolu’s mind was preoccupied with Christopher’s words as he drove down to the restaurant. His enthusiasm for the evening had fizzled out. He was almost not looking forward to it. He thought of calling Ebika and putting off their date, but he couldn’t. He was already late as it was and couldn’t disappoint her further by calling off the date.

He drew into the parking lot of the restaurant and took his time getting down. The bright light of the restaurant seem to hurt his eyes. He looked across the road instead where people moved up and down, vehicles moved down the road. He suddenly felt like the burden of the whole world was on his shoulders.

How ironic that he wasn’t looking forward to his date with Ebika. It used to be Eladebi before. He would prepare to stay out than to be in her company.

You love Ebika. Your discomfort is as a result of what Chris said. It’s not about you. It’s about Chris’ stubbornness. He doesn’t want you to be happy. A voice whispered in his heart.

He sat up straight. Yes, Chris is the one making me uncomfortable, and not Ebika. I will go and have a good time with her, he told himself. He pushed a smile through his tight lips and got down from the car. He moved with more confidence this time.

Ebika was already waiting when Tolu arrived. Her face was drawn in a deep frown. He rushed forward and took her hand.

“I’m so sorry, Ebika.” He apologized. “I was delayed.” He added.

Ebika eased her hands away from his. “Delayed? You should have called me.” She bawled at him. “I’ve been here for almost thirty minutes now. Is this the love you feel for me? Is this the way you want to treat me? How are you different from the person I broke up with?” Angry words spewed out of her mouth.

Tolu drew away from her as if she hit him. He opened and closed his mouth. He couldn’t believe his eyes or ears. Ebika’s eyes were spitting fire. He stared at her.

“Tolu, stop staring at me like that. I accepted you because I feel you were better than my ex. If you start treating me this way, I’ll not be happy I didn’t get a fair deal after all. I love you and you know it.” She stood and gave him a light hug.

Tolu’s eyes remained surprised but he returned her hug. “I love you and you know it too. I just got delayed.”

Ebika flashed a smile. The smile lightened his troubled heart. He felt his world become right again. Ebika loved him. She was only angry because he was late. He would not do the same thing she did. He would not compare her to Eladebi. Eladebi would have won the round of comparison because she would never have reacted that way to him. He would not think of the numerous times he kept her waiting and instead of confronting him, she was concerned for his safety and well-being. The times he had given reasons for his lateness, she had accepted it without reading him the riot act. He would only think of this time with Ebika and what he planned to do. He would think of ways to love her so much that she would forget about her ex. At least he had scored a point in their last date when she praised his generosity and told him her ex hardly gave gifts. Tonight, he would score the greatest point.

He took his seat in front of Ebika and commended her look. She basked in his compliment, eyes sparkling. He was once again drawn to her. She was a beautiful one, and he wanted that beauty to be with him for keeps. He ran his eyes over her red-laced off-shoulder blouse. Her hair fell around her neck. A necklace adorned her delicate neck. He touched her cheek lightly.

“You’re the best thing to have happened to me.” He commended.

“Thank you.” She said in a musical voice, fluttering her lashes.

“I have a big surprise for you.” He told her.

“Really?” She inquired, eyes glowing.

Tolu touched the tip of her nose. “After the meal.”

Ebika couldn’t quell the excitement that bubbled within her. She couldn’t even eat so much. Tolu took his time eating. He kept giving her teasing looks. Her heart was full. When she felt she would explode she touched Tolu’s hand.

“I can’t keep it in again. Please tell me the surprise.”
Tolu gave a hearty laugh. He set down his fork. “Don’t you want dessert?” He asked instead, his eyes dancing.

Ebika held his hand in a grip. “Tell me, tell me, Tolu. I can’t stand this excitement anymore.”

“Okay.” Tolu agreed. He pushed his chair back and went on bended knees. Immediately he did this, Ebika jumped up, covering her face.

Tolu pulled out the box from his pocket. “Ebika, make me a complete man. Be my better half.”

“Yes!” She shrieked in delight. “Oh, yes, Tolu. You don’t know how much I’ve waited for this.” She stretched her finger and he slid the ring into it. She flew into his arms after that.

People around the restaurant applauded them. Congratulations flew from all angles. Faces beamed with smiles. Ebika had the biggest smile. He had a smile too, but he just didn’t know why his heart was twinging instead of rejoicing.

 

I guess we should say congratulations to Tolu and Ebika.The journey to forever has started.