Old Flame EP 9

When an advice is given, one either takes it or leave it. What will Ebika do? Happy reading!

Episode Nine

Doubara was watching her with that weird look again. Each time she picked up her phone to reply Tolu’s chat, Doubara’s eyes would become suspicious. It must be because she kept smiling and laughing as she typed on her phone. The chat that started the previous night had continued early that morning. She was totally charmed by Tolu’s show of affection and care. If she hadn’t fixed up the meeting with Doubara days before, she would have spent the evening with Tolu again with the way he gushed over her, and the time they spent together the previous evening.

She dropped her phone and looked up at her friend, the smile still in her eyes. “What were you saying, Doubie?” She quizzed.

Doubara eyed her from across the table they were sharing in HiBooks cafeteria. Her eyes went to the phone and back to her. “Who is putting these smiles and laughter on your face, Ebika?” She asked.

Ebika laughed a little. “It’s a secret.” She said. Her phone beeped again. She made to pick it, but Doubara placed a hand on her hand.

“Tell me the secret. You told me Bina is on morning shift, so who are you chatting with?”

Ebika ran her fingers through her hair. Today, she wore it down. She held the front with a green headband to match her green blouse. The ‘selfies’ she took that morning had already been sent to Tolu, who had not stop talking about how beautiful she looked. Now, she looked at her friend.

“It’s not Bina.” She admitted, looking straight into Doubara’s eyes.

“I know already.” Doubara threw her hands up in exasperation. “Who?”

Ebika regarded her with caution-filled eyes. Would she understand? Would Doubara understand the reason for my attachment to Tolu? She sighed. “I’m chatting with Tolu.” She said simply.

“Tolu? Tolu?” Doubara called the name slowly, her eyes lifted up. She placed a hand under her jaw and thought more about it. “Toluuuu?” She repeated. She shook her head after a while. “Sounds strange. Is he a new member in our church?” She asked.

Ebika shook her head, twisting her fingers on the table. “I told you about him long ago remember. He was the one I was with in school.” She explained.

A look of remembrance filtered into Doubara’s eyes. Confusion however took the place of remembrance the next second. “I thought you lost contact years ago. Why are you chatting with him?”

“Because we found each other again after all these years. It happened a week back.” She told Doubara with all glee. She couldn’t resist the smile that followed her statement.

Doubara’s eyes closed up in suspicion again. “Found each other again?” She drawled. “What do you mean by that?”

“We met by chance at Royalty bank, and since then we have been trying to bridge the gap of eight years between us. You know getting to know each other all over again.”

Doubara gaped at her like something was wrong with her. Ebika wondered why. “What?” She asked when Doubara kept staring in silence.

Doubara shook herself. “Getting to know each other again? What does that even mean?”

Ebika rolled her eyes. Her patience was wearing out. She was also itching to read Tolu’s chats on her phone. She placed a hand on her phone, but the look on Doubara’s face stopped her from picking it up. “Doubie, Tolu and I are trying to be friends again, no big deal. We just don’t want to lose contact like we did before.”

Doubara sighed. “I don’t know why I feel something is not right. Just friendship and you have been chatting with him since I got here over thirty minutes ago? I haven’t seen you smile like you are doing when replying his chat.”

The ringing of her phone halted Ebika’s response. The call was from Tolu. She mouthed an excuse to Doubara and picked the call. He wanted to know why she had not been replying his chats. She assured him she would once she was through with what she was doing. She dropped the phone and faced Doubara.

“Just friendship.” Doubara sneered.

“It’s nothing really.” Ebika insisted.

“Does he know about Bina?” She asked the question that always filled Ebika with guilt each time she was with Tolu or chatting with him.

Ebika shook her head slowly.

“When do you intend telling him?” Doubara questioned, looking straight at her.

Ebika looked away. “It’s still early. When the time is right, I’ll tell him about Bina.” She responded.

Doubara touched her arm drawing her attention back to her. “Listen, Ebika, the time will never be right from what I can see. If you’re getting to know each other again, then it’s better you let him know about your fiancé. He should have someone too, I’m sure. He couldn’t have possibly waited for you until he found you. You should ask him this. I can see the look in your eyes, Ebika. This is not just friendship. Don’t let the devil deceive you with what is glittering. You don’t know what you’ll find when you unwrap it.” she squeezed Ebika’s hand gently. “I trust you to do the right thing, Ebika. You are a Christian, Ebika. Stand firm. Tell him about Bina and your forthcoming introduction. If he still wants to remain your friend, then set boundaries. Keep your Christian values so you won’t fall.”

Ebika felt torn within her as she listened to Doubara. She couldn’t fight against what Doubara had said because it was the truth. Her excitement with Tolu had stopped her from praying about her relationship with Bina. She spent more time fantasizing about life with Tolu than life with Bina. She had deliberately kept Tolu in the dark about her relationship just so she could have the kind of love they had in school. It was time to wake up. She couldn’t ruin it all because of romantic feelings. She couldn’t be seeing Tolu as the balance in her life when she had God.

“I have heard you, Doubara.” She said, regret etched on her face. “I would not be carried away. When next I meet Tolu, I’ll tell him all about Bina, so we could be clear on the kind of friendship we are building.”

Doubara nodded her approval. “That is better, my dear. God will give you grace.” She held her hands and said a short prayer with her.

The relief she desired didn’t come immediately. While she concluded her discussion with Doubara on their choir uniform, a heavy feeling of sadness settled on her. All she could think of was Tolu’s reaction when she told him about Bina. Would he still be with her, or would he keep his distance? She hoped for the former.

 

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

 

Tolu stared at his phone lying lifelessly on the table. The veins stood in his balled fists which cushioned his jaw. He kept waiting for it to ring. The aroma of the fried rice his wife had prepared for dinner did not appeal to him. He wanted to hear from Ebika. His wife kept sneaking peeks at him as she spooned her food into her mouth. His two sons played with their food, giggling as they made patterns with grains of rice scattered on the table.

Their action grated his nerves. “Stop that now!” He ordered sharply.

Immediately, Tari and Timi sat up right. His wife eyed him, but he wasn’t bothered. His mind was somewhere with Ebika. She whispered to them, and they ate peacefully after that. He on the other hand couldn’t get anything through his closed throat.

He kept wondering why Ebika stopped replying his chats and wouldn’t take his calls too. He picked his phone and dialled her number again. He listened to the phone ringing. When he heard the dial tone, he knew she had ignored the call again. Was there something he had done wrong? He rubbed his forehead.

His wife dropped her spoon on her plate of rice and faced him. “Are you alright, honey?” She asked.

He pushed away from the table. “I’m fine. I just don’t have appetite tonight.” He got up from the table.

The eyes she lifted to him were worried, but he could do nothing to alleviate it. Should he tell her he was pinning for an old love? Of course not. He touched her shoulder lightly as he walked past her chair.

“I’m fine, my love.” he reassured her.

She nodded slowly, looking unconvinced. He said nothing and went straight to the bedroom. When he got there, he dialled Ebika’s number again. He lost count of the number of times he called her before she finally answered.

He sat up straight in bed. “Ebika.” He called, letting out an audible sigh of relief.

She sounded distant when she responded. “Tolu, I’m sorry.”

“What happened?” He asked.

“We’ll talk about it later.” She replied.

“I want to take you out tomorrow to celebrate your birthday.” He told her.

A short pause. “Okay.” She finally said.

He did a sign of cross. “Thanks. I’ll pick you up in the afternoon.”

“I’ll be available.” She said.

“I’ve really missed you. Let’s talk online.”

“Okay.” She said.

He punched the air when the call ended. He let out a whoop of delight. The ache in his heart left immediately as her response to the messages he had sent earlier came. He positioned himself and replied her message. He was this way when his wife came in.

“It’s time for night prayers.” She informed him.

His eyes drew in irritation as he looked up at her. “Go ahead. I’m busy.” He replied, typing a reply to Ebika. She hesitated. He didn’t keep the irritation off his voice when he addressed her this time. “Go. I’m busy.”

She said nothing after that. While he smiled and laughed with Ebika through their chat, his wife’s voice carried through the room as she sang with the children. The guilt he felt was nothing compared to the pleasure he got chatting with Ebika.

Eladebi soon returned to the room after the prayer. She pulled back the bed cover and joined him in bed. He turned slightly, shielding his phone from her.

“I noticed you don’t wear your wedding ring anymore.” She said softly, adjusting her pillow.

His head came up at that. He looked at his ring finger. He had taken off their wedding ring when he was angry with her, before he met Ebika again. But since he met her, and felt the chemistry between them, he didn’t see the need to put on his ring again. It would only scare her, and he didn’t want that. Again, he couldn’t tell his wife that. An excuse would be good, or a white lie. He shrugged.

“I have a little injury on my finger.” He said.

She drew close to him. “Oh, I didn’t know. Let me see.” She peeped over his shoulder.

He turned completely away from her. “It’s nothing. I’ll be fine soon, and I’ll wear my ring again.”

“Okay.” She muttered. She wrapped her hands around his waist. “Good night, honey.” She said, nuzzling her cheek against his back.

He pushed her back a little. “Good night. Just sleep. I’ll join you soon. I want to check something in my study.” He got up and walked away from his matrimonial bed without a backward glance at his wife who watched him go with tears-filled eyes.

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Old Flame EP 8

Welcome back, friends! sorry episode 8 is late. happy reading! Don’t forget to share your thoughts after reading.

Episode Eight

The atmosphere in Lakeview Restaurant suited Tolu’s mood. He liked the corner he had chosen for them to sit. The room was dimly lit, casting a soft glow on the tables in the room. The low background music caressed them. It made him feel free. It took him back in time with Ebika, before he went off to work as a seaman and before he married Eladebi.

He forced thoughts of his wife down as he stared into Ebika’s twinkling eyes. Her eyes shone with merriment. Strands of hair that had come loose on the drive to the restaurant now rested on one part of her face. She looked lovely. He felt himself lost in her beauty. He watched as she took her glass to her lips, taking a sip of her wine. He smiled when she dropped the glass, her fingers around the stem.

“This reminds me of the night we spent outside my hostel talking through the night till dawn.” He said. Images of that time came to him like it had happened a day before and not more than eight years ago.

Ebika smiled, a dreamy look in her eyes as she also pictured that time. “We were so in love, and we couldn’t stay away from each other.” She laughed a little. “We were supposed to be studying that night, but we started talking and forgot about the books we left in the lecture hall.”

Tolu looked straight into her eyes. “We were inseparable.”

Ebika nodded. “We were.” She agreed. Her tone was sad. She looked away from him and down at the drink in front of her.

Tolu knew what she was thinking. He hadn’t stopped thinking that since he met her again. He unwrapped her fingers from her wine glass and held them in his. “I made a mistake back then.” He said.

Her eyes glistened with tears as she looked at him. “You never came back. Where did you go? Why did you leave?” A tear rolled down her cheek. Tolu caught it with his hand.

“I’m so sorry, Ebika. The job paid well, but it was very stressful. I couldn’t promise you anything. When the opportunity to travel abroad came, I didn’t think twice: I took it. I thought I’ll find you once I got settled. Well, it didn’t happen. I ended up spending two years in London with the business man who facilitated my journey there building what I have today.” He rubbed her palm lightly. “When I got back, I felt ashamed of what I had done, cutting off from you like that. I couldn’t find you anywhere.”

Ebika blinked back more tears. Life had given them reality, taking away their fantasies. What did it matter now that they have found each other? She had Bina, and she was certain someone else had his heart. It wasn’t possible for someone of his status not to have ladies around him. These were her thoughts as she listened to the last part of his story. The part that told her how he was able to build his business empire now.

When he finished, she fixed sad eyes on him. “I guess there is someone now.” She said, easing her hands off his.

He looked away, regret clouding his eyes. “Let’s not spoil tonight with talks like that. Tonight is for us, just us, Ebika. Let’s get connected again.” He said in an intense tone, imploring her with it.

Ebika hesitated. She should tell him about Bina. He should know that she would be tying the knot soon with the one who had rescued her heart when he left it shattered. The more she thought of it, the more she couldn’t bring herself to do it. If she could just have this harmless time with him, what did it matter? She would do nothing to hurt Bina. She prayed so. The feelings Tolu was arousing in her heart scared her, yet she liked it. She liked going back to a time where she had been deeply in love with butterflies in her stomach; when love had been exciting and carefree.

Tolu watched the different emotions moving across her face. He shook off his feeling of guilt. There would be time enough to tell her about Eladebi and his children. For now, he needed to stay connected to her, to keep the special memories they had shared in the past.

“Say something, Ebika. Let’s stay connected. I want us to go back to our time in Creek Haven. Let’s bridge the gap of eight years.” He pleaded with her, taking her hands again.

Ebika sighed. “I’ll really like that too, Tolu.” She said in a small voice.

His lips turned up in a relived smile. “Thank you so much, Ebika. You don’t know how much joy you have put in my heart.” He placed his hand on her cheek.

She leaned towards it. “Thank you too, Tolu. This moment is special.” She replied.

They remained that way for a while, his hand on her cheek and her head slightly turned to it. After a while, he took off his hand and placed it on her palm on the table. He talked about her birthday coming up in a few days. Back then, they had always celebrated her birthday in a big way.

“What would you like?” He asked her.

She shrugged. “Anything filled with love.” She batted her eyes at him.

He gave a hearty laugh. “Keep doing that and you will get more than you bargain for.”

They laughed together. After spending a few hours together, Tolu took her home. They promised to see each other soon. As Tolu drove off, he knew he would be spending his night in his study at home. That was the only way he could talk freely with Ebika, and he planned on spending the night chatting with her. It made him smile as he anticipated their chat later.

 

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

 

Ebika walked into the living room and came face to face with Bina. Her eyes dilated with surprise. He looked up at her from the book he was reading. He closed it and placed it beside him.

I didn’t know you were here.” She said in an accusatory tone, moving away from the door. She flopped down into a couch opposite him. She rested her head on the couch and closed her eyes.

“I thought you would be home since we spoke some hours ago.” He replied. “Where have you been, Ebika? I called Doubara, and she told me you didn’t show up in church.”

Slowly, she sat up and faced him. “I had more work to do.” She lied. It was almost liked she had practiced what to say. When he kept looking at her, unconvinced, she had to look away. “I couldn’t finish the time I told you I would.” She rushed on to add in a shaky voice. Guilt enveloped her like a thick blanket on a cold night. She couldn’t push it aside. How would she tell Bina she had spent the last hours in a restaurant with her ex-boyfriend?

Bina kept looking at her. She shifted under his piercing eyes. She felt naked under his scrutiny, like he could see through her lies. Her eyes kept shifting from his. She couldn’t tell what he had in his mind. She sighed. Better to change the subject before secrets become revealed. She didn’t trust herself to keep on lying to him about her evening. She knew what the Bible said about lying.

“What did you come to do?” She asked. Now this was a safe topic, she said within her.

Bina leaned forward, his hands clasped in front of him. “I came to discuss our introduction.” He told her.

Ebika’s eyes bulged at that. Introduction? She blanched. Oh, she had forgotten about their plans for it all because of Tolu’s sudden appearance. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. “What about it?” She asked.

“Since we have been cleared by the marriage committee, we can have it first Saturday in April.” He said.

“That’s three weeks from now.” She responded. He gave a nod. “Can we afford it?” She quizzed.

Bina shrugged. “We don’t have to make it a big affair. Just few members of our family. We can work with a small budget. You can draft the budget and show it to me when we meet tomorrow.”

She thought about this for a few heartbeats, then she sighed. “Okay. We’ll make it a small affair. I would draft a moderate budget.” She agreed.

Bina released a relieved breath. He had prayed for Ebika’s understanding, and God had answered him. “Thank you, Ebika.” He picked up the book from his side and got up. “We’ll discuss more tomorrow. It’s getting late and I need to head home. I’m on morning shift tomorrow.”

She nodded her understanding, getting up too. They stood looking at each other in silence. Ebika moved towards him. His eyes lifted in curiosity. She opened her arms to him.

“Can I get a good night hug?” She smiled at him, her eyes filled with innocence.

Bina looked around. Nobody was in sight of course. Douye was in her room. He moved slowly to her and placed his right hand around her shoulders, touching her side with his.

“Good night, Ebika.” He said quickly, moving away from her.

Ebika swallowed her disappointment. “Good night, Bina.” She replied.

She waved him off and went back to the living room. She sank into the couch. What did she expect? That Bina would hug her as tightly as Tolu did when he had the opportunity? Or he would make her even yearn a little for the time they would be married?

“All I wanted was just a little chemistry. I mean everything is just so detached.” She mumbled to herself.

“I saw you.” Her cousin’s voice broke into her mind’s activity.

Douye left the side door that led to the bedrooms to sit beside her. Her lip turned up in a mischievous smile. “I saw you.” She repeated again in her high-pitched voice.

Ebika regarded her cousin with irritation. Much as she loved Douye, she was too nosy for her liking. “Saw me where?” She asked in a disinterested tone.

“I saw you in that luxury car with the guy that dropped you.” She told her.

Ebika sat up straight, a slight tremor ran through her body, causing her to tremble. Douye laughed at her reaction.

“Relax, Coz, I have no intention of telling on you. Besides, that guy looks better off than ‘our Brother Bina.” She teased, tickling Ebika.

Ebika’s lips refused to laugh. She picked up her bag from the couch and looked straight into Douye’s eyes. “Let that be my assessment.” She said with all the authority of an elder sister that she could muster.

Douye gave a non-commital shrug. “I just feel that guy is better. I know you were with him all through. You weren’t working in any office.” She threw Ebika a challenging look.

Ebika shook her head in disbelief. Douye had eavesdropped on her conversation with Bina. The girl was annoying. She got up and walked away from Douye. Just as she got close to the side door, Douye spoke again:

“You really should think about it, Coz. Small introduction or all that luxury. Remember, you can’t bear the family burden forever. It will take some years before Ere can assist you, and mama can’t do much now. Think about it.” She got up and moved past Ebika where she stood.

Ebika went to her room completely down. Yes, she needed assistance to attend to all her family issues: Mama’s regular ill health, Ere’s school fees, their house rent and feeding. Losing their father years back had made things difficult for them. Their mother had stopped being a full housewife then and took up petty trading. When they couldn’t meet up their needs, they had left the city for their hometown. Her school fees had been a big problem. Ere had stayed back because their mother couldn’t cope with everything. Her mother’s elder sister had taken Ebika and decided to care for her, when their mother took ill the first time. She was almost out of school then. That was how she moved back to the city, into her aunty’s house with her cousin Douye, her aunty’s only child. Her job with Hibooks Agency immediately after service further eased their burden, but the responsibility now rested solely on her. Her mother’s health was fragile, and Ere was in her second year in higher institution. The occasional support that came from her aunty, who left the country just after her service year and settled with a white man in America, was a lifesaver.

She sighed. How far could Bina assist her? They would both pull their resources together to make things work. Could Bina really bear her family’s burden and still maintain their home? But Tolu was a different case. From all she had seen, and all he had told her, he could give her a secured future if she was with him. She would have to find out what his plans were soon. Her introduction was around the corner, and she could not afford settling for less when she could have the best.

Old Flame EP 7

​Someone is weaving a tangled web. Find out who. Happy Reading! 

Episode Seven

She was going to be late for choir rehearsal. How did she lose the document she was supposed to have submitted earlier that day? Ebika frowned heavily as she worked on a new document. Her boss had warned her not to leave the office until she turned in her document. She checked the time on the system and found out she had just fifteen minutes before choir rehearsal. She blew out air from her puffed cheeks. There was no way she was going to meet up. She was just on the first page, and she still had two more pages to go. 

She beat her fingers against her desk as her mind raced for ideas. She thought of calling Tolu but decided not to push too much. Their reunion was just a week old. They have spent it getting to know each other again. Phone calls and whatsapp chats were steady between them, but she was still taking things gradually. She would seem too eager if she called him to come pick her up. Her sure bet was to call Bina. Her eyes scrunched together when she thought of being in his car again, but she had no choice. Besides, that car had been her ride for a long while now. She would just have to manage it until Bina purchased a new one. She would make sure he did.

She picked up her phone and dialled his number. He picked up at the first ring.

“Hello, Ebika.” He called across the line.

“Hi, dear. I wonder when you will think of a sweet name to call me aside Ebika.” She said, her voice raised slightly in anger. 

He laughed a little. “I just like your name. What’s up?”

“I’m tied up with work at the office. It would take another thirty to forty minutes for me to be through. I have choir rehearsal and I don’t want to be too late. Could you pick me up in thirty minutes time?” She requested.

There was a pause for a few seconds before Bina spoke up. “Ebika, the car is still faulty. I’m presently with the mechanic. I don’t think it will be ready before that time.” He explained.

Ebika grimaced. “Why not just ask him how much you will get if you sell it?” she said, anger clouding her words.

Bina gasped. “Ebika!” 

“Well, since you can’t pick me, let’s just forget about it.” She didn’t wait for him to say anything else. She just ended the call. He called her back, but she ignored it. 

He is so unreliable! She fumed in anger. Her fingers trembled as she went back to typing again. When she wrote a sentence thrice, she took a break. She took a drink from her water bottle and inhaled deeply, fighting for composure. Few minutes after she went back to typing, her phone rang again. She allowed it ring for a few seconds before picking it up. The caller ID melted away her anger and filled her inside with excitement.

“Hey, girl.” Tolu said when she answered the phone.

“Wow, Tolu! So good to hear from you. I was just thinking about calling you.” She told him, flashing a gap-toothed smile.

“Then you should have called. You should never think before calling me because I’ll always answer you.” He told her. 

“Hmm… that’s sweet.” She replied, leaning against her chair. 

“Our spirits must be one because I called you when you were thinking about calling me. I hope the reasons are the same.” 

Ebika swirled around in her chair. “What’s your reason?” she asked, twisting her toes.

“I missed you, Ebika. I dropped messages for you on whatsapp, but you didn’t reply. I couldn’t let today go without talking to you. I want to see you, Ebika.” His tone was soft across the line.

Ebika giggled. “Our reasons are related. Well, I am tied up at work and I need assistance getting home.” She informed him.

“Don’t sweat it. I’m on my way right now. Just send me the address.”

She sat forward. “Really?”

“Ebika, I will do anything for you. You are special to me.”

“How I wish you had been willing to do that eight years ago.” The words dropped from her mouth before she could stop herself. Tears shone in her eyes. 

Bina sighed. “That’s why I want to make it up to you. Just let me. Let me start by picking you up and treating you to a nice evening.” 

“Okay then.” Ebika responded.

She texted her address to him and waited for his arrival. She forced down her tears. So what if there was eight years gap between them? What mattered now was their reunion and new friendship. The thought of spending the evening with him brought a joyful glow to her eyes. She smiled as she went back to work. The ideas she had been battling with before Tolu’s call flew into her head. Her zapped energy returned in full force. 

Ebika smiled as she looked at the almost completed work. Her boss would be definitely like her work, she was certain. It was better than what she wanted to turn in before. Her secret to the master piece before her was no other than Tolu.  He seemed to have the ability to put her in a good mood. Hmm… not just a good mood, but a great mood. 

When he got to her office, she was putting finishing touch to her work. He waited patiently for her and didn’t make a fuss about the extra time he was spending. She finished and sent the document to the Agency’s mail before printing it out. She kept it in a file and placed it in her drawer. She quickly tidied her desk and shut down her system. She got up and rubbed a hand over her rumpled skirt. She pushed back strands of hair that had fallen across her face while she worked. She wound them in the bun that sat in the middle of her head. When she was satisfied, she carried her back and went to meet Tolu at the reception.

His head was bent over the phone, but he looked up when he heard the tap-tap of her heels on the tiled floor. His face broke into a pleasant smile. He stood up and came to her. He gave her a light hug.

“Seeing you is like taking a deep breath of fresh air after a heated day. You’re so beautiful.” He said, his eyes going over her. Desire filled his eyes.

Ebika basked in his compliment. She liked what she could see in his eyes. She batted her eyelids at him. “You haven’t changed. You are still a hopeless romantic.” She teased, pushing his shoulder lightly.

He laughed heartily. “How can I, when I am with the one who brings that side of me?” He replied.

She shook her head, still smiling as they walked together to the car park. She stopped in her tracks when she saw the car he had come in.

“This is your car too?” She asked him, her words dripping with admiration. 

His eyes went to the parked Range Rover. “Of course.” He answered.

“What about the Lexus?” she asked.

“It’s parked at home. I didn’t feel like using it today.” He said with a shrug. “Let’s go.” He placed a hand around her waist and led her to the car.

While she placed the seatbelt across her body, she said to him, “You really have to tell me who you are now, Tolu.”

He chuckled as he ignited the car. “Let’s go somewhere nice to talk, then I’ll tell you what you want to know.” He told her.

“Okay.” She replied. Her eyes went over his body as he drove. She swallowed when she noticed the designer label on his blazer. Her knowledge of designer wristwatches was limited, but she could tell a real Rolex watch when she saw one; that was what Tolu had on. Her eyes went to her Romanian gold wristwatch. That was when she remembered her choir rehearsal. 

“Oh, my God! Tolu, I have choir rehearsal now.” She told him.

Tolu angled his head a little to look at her. “What time?” He asked.

She peered at her watch. “I’m forty-five minutes late.” She noted, sadly.

“Since you’re that late, why not just spend the time with me.” He suggested. “It’s just this evening Ebika, and I’ve been dying to have some time with you.” He added.

Ebika hesitated. She had not informed Doubara that she wouldn’t be around. What about Bina? Should she inform him of her outing? No way! She kicked against the idea within her. It was better not to say anything. It wasn’t likely he’d find out anyway. What would an evening with Tolu do? What would missing one rehearsal do? She’d just join the next rehearsal on Saturday. The rule was to attend at least one. She shrugged, I’ll spend this time with Tolu.

“It’s alright. I’ll spend the evening with you.” She said, smiling.

“Thank you, Ebika. It’s going to be a great evening. We’ll have fun and bridge the gap of eight years.” He told her, his eyes dancing with excitement.

“I can’t wait.” Ebika laughed. Her voice carried through the coming darkness as they drove down the express road.

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Old Flame EP 6

Welcome, Fam. Happy Fathers day. Happy reading!

Episode Six

Bina’s aunty was a nice woman, Ebika noticed. She welcomed her with open arms and complimented her without any reservation. Ebika liked the woman. It was the first time she was meeting her because she had been living in Ghana and just relocated to Nigeria after the death of her Ghanaian husband a year ago. She was a pretty woman who still stood straight despite her sixty-three years. Her smile added beauty to her aged face. Ebika had met Bina’s parents and it had left her wondering if Bina took after someone else in his family. His mother was just like her aunty – delicate and pretty despite her age. Seeing his aunty made her wonder again whom he took after. The only connection between Bina and his aunty was their fair skin.

“Aunty, who does Bina look like?” she asked, throwing him a sideways glance. His eyes twitched at her question, but she didn’t mind.

Aunty Nene laughed. “Bina is a replica of our father, his grandfather. His mother must have thought of him so much as he died some days before Bina was born.” She explained.

Ebika gave a nod, smiling a little. “No wonder.” She said.

Bina sat up beside her, his brows knitted in puzzlement. “No wonder what?” He and his aunty chorused.

Ebika’s face flushed in Embarrassment. What was she thinking bringing up issues on Bina’s look? He was not ugly. Why was she bent on painting him like that?  She coughed a little to cover her embarrassment. “Oh nothing. I was just wondering why Bina… er… well, he’s not as tall as you.” She rushed to explain.

Aunty Nene laughed again, but Bina’s lips tightened in displeasure. He kept looking at her all through the time his aunty spent telling them stories of her stay in Ghana.

“Let me go and get you something to eat, my dear. Bina is not a stranger, but you are. I must take care of you. That drink is nothing.” She pointed to the glass of juice on the side stool she had offered them when they came in earlier.

“Okay, ma’am.” Ebika answered.

Aunty Nene got up and moved to the kitchen, leaving them to watch the drama series on the television. Ebika felt Bina’s eyes on her and so she turned to him.

“What?” She asked with questioning eyes.

“Go and help her in the kitchen.” He said in a whispery tone.

Ebika looked towards the kitchen and back to Bina. “It’s my first time here, Bina. Why should I join her in the kitchen? I didn’t plan on coming here to cook.” She replied. Her tone was sharp with anger.

Bina said no more. They spent the rest of the time in silence, watching television. When Aunty Nene served the food, Ebika offered to help, but Aunty Nene brushed her off and told her to enjoy the treatment. Ebika flashed her tongue at Bina and mouthed ‘I told you so’. He gave a shrug and let it pass.

Their visit came to an end and they appreciated Aunty Nene for the good time. When they got into Bina’s car, he brought up the issue of joining Aunty Nene in the kitchen.

“Ebika, you should have joined her in the kitchen.” He chided her. “You should have shown your good home training.” He turned the key in the ignition and started the car.

Ebika waited for the noise from the engine to reduce a bit before she answered him. “Bina, please don’t spoil this wonderful evening we just had. Must I help in the kitchen just to prove I am a wife material?” She demanded in anger, arms folded across her chest.

Bina kept his eyes on the road. “It shows respect, Ebika. You seem not to understand the point I’m trying to make here. It’s as if you’re deliberately disagreeing with me.” He turned to look to her briefly, then back to the road. “What was that comment about my look, Ebika. I never thought it mattered.” His lips drew together in disapproval.

Ebika huffed. “Are you saying I’m just against you for the pleasure of it?” She gasped. “Honestly, I like the fact that you are showing emotions. I like the fact that you noticed my comment about your look.”

He looked at her. “What do you mean by that, Ebika?”

“Please keep your eyes on the road.” She stated. He turned. “Take a good look at the way you are dressed today. Why would you wear a dress shirt on a jean all tucked in with a sandal, Bina?” She bawled at him.

Bina laughed. “There is nothing wrong with the way I am dressed, Ebika.” He said.

“Yeah, right.” She sneered.

He kept talking about his taste in fashion, but Ebika stopped listening. Her mind wanted to see someone who took his time looking good. She had checked his whatsapp display picture and liked what she saw. Even in a polo, Tolu could stop her in her tracks. When she complimented his look, he had forwarded some of his recent pictures to her. He requested for hers and she had sent the best. He gushed over them. It made her feel like she was back in Creek Haven University again when Tolu couldn’t get enough of her.

Sad lines crossed her face when she thought of the last time Bina had complimented her. Sometimes she wondered if he noticed at all. They just went through the motions of their relationship like actors in a scripted play. There was nothing spontaneous about them, nothing exciting. Everything was just steady, nothing out of line.

She sighed. She was definitely bored out of her mind. Bina was not helping matters at all. She’d just chat up Tolu when she got home. At least that would bring exciting memories to her. Her eyes twinkled like the stars as she thought about that. She closed her eyes to watch the texts of her chat with Tolu dance across her head.

They were not moving. Something was wrong. Her eyes opened slowly. She rubbed her sleepy eyes and looked around. She yawned a little, trying to remember where she was. It came to her in no time. She had dozed off while thinking about Tolu. She looked around for Bina. The driver’s seat was empty. The bonnet of the car was raised. She opened the door and stepped out. Bina was bent over the engine, looking hard at it.

“What is going on, Bina?” She asked.

He straightened. Worried lines were drawn across his forehead. He kneaded his forehead. “I really don’t know what is wrong. The car jerked for a while and stopped. It refused to start.” He explained.

Ebika folded her arms. “Maybe you are out of fuel.” She reasoned.

“No, it’s not fuel. Something is wrong.” He bent over the engine again and started touching some parts.

“You see why I keep telling you to change this car.” Ebika challenged him.

He angled his head to look at her. “Ebika, I can’t afford a new car now. This will just have to do.” He told her.

“Then maybe you should sell it and gather money to buy a better car.”

Bina sighed. He stopped hitting the engine. “You know we’re preparing for our wedding. Car is not our priority now.”

“If it’s not then we shouldn’t be going around in this… this…” She looked away in disgust without completing her statement.

“This what, Ebika?” He inquired.

“How do I get home now?” She said instead, fixing him with angry eyes. Around them people moved in a hurry as darkness was gradually creeping in.

“I’ll stop ‘keke’ for you. I don’t think I’ll be able to take you now.”

Her face swelled with anger. She pursed her lips and looked away from him. He came to stand in front of her.

“I’m sorry, Ebika. This is not intentional. Please don’t be angry.” He said in a pleading tone.

She said nothing. She just stood while he got a tricycle to take her home. All the way she fumed over Bina’s stubbornness. Why won’t he just buy a new car? She mused. How much exactly was a Lexus? Bina just has to change his car if he wants me to go anywhere with him again, she resolved as the keke drew close to her bus-stop.

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Old Flame EP 5

Happy Sunday, Fam. Happy reading!

Episode Five

Ebika stretched her taut muscles. She closed and opened her palms, flexing her numb fingers. Working as a copy editor for HiBooks Agency had its benefits, but it wasn’t all rosy. She had been typing since she got to work that morning. She checked her wristwatch and confirmed it was time for lunch break. She pushed back her chair and got up. Most of the booths around hers were empty, indicating that people had gone for lunch. She better join them.

She took the stairs down to the Agency’s cafeteria. She was hit by the sweet aroma of Banga soup when she stepped into the cafeteria. She sniffed the air with all pleasure. Banga soup will do this afternoon, she said within her. She sauntered to the serving point and requested for Banga soup and Starch. She picked a tray and took her lunch to the end of the room. Most tables in the room were occupied. People sat in groups to chat over lunch. Someone called to her to join them, but she politely declined. She needed to be all alone to enjoy her meal. Her regular seat kept her face to the wall, away from the eyes of her colleagues.

She placed her meal on the table and said a short prayer. She swallowed each morsel of starch with great pleasure. The fresh fish in the soup melted in her mouth as she enjoyed its sweet taste. She closed her eyes while she chewed. Nothing like good food, she muttered in delight. Her bleeping phone broke into her magical food moment. Her brows drew in a deep frown. She picked the phone and looked at the caller ID. The call was from her friend, Doubara.

“Doubie, how far?” She said when she picked the call. She licked the soup rolling down her fingers.

“Nothing much o. How is work going?” Doubara asked.

Ebika sighed. “The usual o: stressful. We’re on break now.” She replied.

“I called to inform you that I have sent the style for the choir uniform to your whatsapp. You can check it out and tell me what you think.” Doubara told her.

“Oh okay. I’ll turn on my data once I end the call, then I’ll get back to you.”

“Alright then. See you in church.”

“Yeah. Enjoy the rest of your day.” Ebika ended the call. She turned on her phone’s data and waited for it to connect. While it was connecting, she went back to enjoying her meal. Several notifications popped up when it was finally connected. She picked up the phone.

“Three hundred and forty five messages from whatsapp?” She groaned. “I’ll have to leave all these groups I was added to.” She scrolled through the messages, ignoring the group chats for personal chats. She saw the style Doubara had sent. The style was quiet simple: peplum top on straight skirt with a small cut at the side. She nodded her approval. She looked through her other personal chats and saw messages from Tolu. She sat up immediately and read through them.

Tolu: Hi, my dear. How is your day going? I hope it’s not like mine. I’ve been swarmed with work all morning, but you have been on my mind all through. I took a break a while ago to chat a little and when I refreshed my contacts, I saw you. I couldn’t resist dropping a message.

Ebika’s lips widened with a smile. She read the message again. She pushed the tray away from her and washed her hand. She picked up her phone and replied his chat.

Ebika: My day has been busy too. I’m just at the cafeteria taking lunch. Although, thoughts of you haven’t crossed my mind since I got to the office this morning.

His response came immediately.

Tolu: Ouch! That hurts, Ebika. I’m so unimportant that your work took precedence over me. That’s not fair.

Ebika laughed a little when she read his reply. She typed her response quickly.

Ebika: Well, you left me with no choice. I can’t be thinking about a stranger, you know.

Tolu: What if I don’t want to be a stranger anymore? What if I want to be as close to you as I was before?

Ebika: We’ll see about that.

She noticed the cafeteria was emptying. Her break was almost over.

Ebika: Back to work for me. Let’s chat later.

Tolu: Ok, but I mean what I said earlier about getting close to you.

Ebika: I’ll say it again: we’ll see about that, Tolu. Bye.

She ended the chat and finished the rest of her food. She went back to her booth in the office. All around hands flew over the keyboard of computer systems, trying to meet up the deadline of a magazine publication. Despite the urgency in the air, she couldn’t get back to work. She leaned against her chair and allowed thoughts of Tolu wash over her.

Eight years! Eight years after Creek Haven University. Where has Tolu been all these while? She ruminated. Why this strong connection between us despite the years gone by? Where are we heading to with this new friendship? Maybe I should tell him about Bina. Her eyes widened at that thought. She nodded slowly. He could also have someone. That thought caused a slight frown on her face. She shook her head. I’ll just take things gradually. There’s no need to rush. It’s not as if he proposed to me. We are only trying to build friendship again.

She sat forward and powered her system, getting set to work. As she typed in her staff password, a funny thought crossed her mind: What if Bina was not in the picture, and Tolu was willing, what would be her response?

 

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

 

She met with Doubara later that day in church. She told her the style was good. While they were still talking about the material to use for the style, Bina joined them.

“Good evening, Sister Doubara.” He greeted.

Doubara smiled at him. “Good evening, Bro Bina.” She jabbed Ebika’s ribs playfully, winking at her.

Ebika didn’t smile. She folded her arms and looked away from Bina.

“Hello, Ebika.” Bina said to her, touching her elbow lightly.

“Let me discuss with the others, Ebika. We’ll talk later.” Doubara told her, retreating.

“Can we talk, Ebika?” Bina asked.

She kept silent for a while, but then she sighed. “Alright. Let’s talk outside.”

They walked out of the church’s main auditorium towards the children auditorium. They faced each other then.

“I know you are angry with me.” Bina stated.

“Good you know, Bina.” She muttered.

“Ebika, I’m sorry. You know I was on afternoon shift. There was no way I could have made the transfer. I called you very early this morning so we could find a way around it.” He explained, his eyes scrunched together in a pleading look.

“It’s okay.” Ebika told him, giving a shrug. “I was able to make the transfer, and Ere got mother’s drugs. She’s doing well.”

“Praise God!” He exclaimed in joy.

Ebika looked at him then. She noticed his worn polo and black trouser. Her eyes went to his loafers. It was the same loafers he wore all the time during evening service. Being a foot taller than him, she was able to look over his head. It was shaved completely. No strand of hair could be seen on his head. His head brought to mind a smooth tiled floor where one’s reflection could be seen. His rectangular face that showed his wide forehead, buttoned nose and full lips couldn’t really pass him as handsome. He could be said to be pleasant looking.

She shook herself. Why was she analysing his appearance like this? It wasn’t like she was noticing all these for the first time. Bina never kept any hair on his head because he was bald. She never complained before, but she was suddenly comparing it to a rich, dark, shiny afro someone kept. The image stuck to her mind even as she listened to Bina.

“I hope you remember my aunty’s dinner invite to us tomorrow evening.” He said. She nodded in response. “I’ll be on morning duty so I’ll come and pick you from the office.” He informed her.

“It’s okay. We could chat on whatsapp this night to discuss what we’ll wear.” She suggested.

Bina laughed. “The last time I was online was two weeks ago, and that was because I was on leave. Just wear what is nice, and I’ll do the same. Besides, we don’t want to send the wrong message to people by dressing alike.”

Ebika’s shoulders sagged in defeat. “I hope you wear something better than nice.” She said in a small voice.

He didn’t say anything to that. He just laughed again like she just said the best joke of the day. “Let me drop you at home.” He offered.

She agreed. She tried not to compare his old volvo to a certain Lexus R300.

Fireworks!!!! Yeah! Ebika and Tolu! hmmmm. Friends, encourage me by sharing your thoughts. Let me know if you are enjoying this story.  Don’t forget to share with your friends.

 

 

 

Old Flame EP 4

Welcome back, fam. Sorry for the delay. Enjoy episode four.

Episode Four

Ebika sat on her bed with legs crossed in front of her. She had her Bible in her hand and her devotional manual close to her. She flashed the passage of the Bible with her phone’s torchlight. When she was through with the passage, she picked up her manual and read from it. She closed her eyes afterwards and prayed. Just as she was rounding off the prayer, her phone rang. She ended her prayer and picked it up. Her eyes flashed in anger when she saw the caller ID. She dropped the phone back on the bed and placed her devotional manual and Bible on her bedside table.

She straightened her bed sheet and tucked it in properly. She picked up the yellow floral print dress she had chosen to wear to work that day and dropped it carefully on the bed. She picked out her silver peep-toed heels and dropped them at the foot of the bed. While she prepared to go take her bath, her phone started ringing again. She ignored it again and went to take her bath.

When she returned to the room, she checked her phone and realized Bina had called five more times. She erased the missed calls. “I am not ready to talk to you, Bina. I’m still hurting. I haven’t gotten over what you did yesterday.” She said to herself.

Thinking about the events of the previous day brought Tolu to her mind. Her face gleamed with smiles. She had finally seen her first love again after all these years. He was still as remarkable as ever. He needed no prodding to do what he was supposed to do. Just like when he had found out she had accommodation issues back in school and couldn’t afford to buy a bed space. He had willingly given up his place off campus for her and went to squat in the hostel with his friend.

She later discovered he paid for the place with the money he saved from his plumbing business in school. Her love and respect for him grew after that. Out of his nothing, he had given her something. Not for once did they fight. They had a way around all their disagreements. Their love blossomed so much that they were given the award of best couple in Creek Haven during SUG week.

She never imagined spending her life with someone else. But then, Tolu disappeared into thin air. She only received a call from him, informing her he was off to work as a seaman and the money involved would set him up pretty good. He told her not to worry as he would come back for her.

She sighed heavily. He never came back until yesterday. Days without him in school had been terrible. She couldn’t answer all the questions posed to her by friends, gossips and enemies. What kept her going initially were his calls once in a while, but it stopped after some months. She left Creek Haven with a broken heart. A heart that kept hurting until Bina came into her life.

Bina, charismatic, hardworking and God-fearing, had come into her life with his pleasant smile and simple nature and became a friend to her. She couldn’t remember if he proposed to her formally or when their friendship became love, but they had started something special. It was not the passionate love she shared with Tolu back then. It was just a steady love between two level-headed people faced with the realities of life. She liked their relationship but seeing Tolu yesterday, being in his company made her yearn for that fiery love she once had with him.

She threw her head back and rested her weight on her palms spread out on the bed. The butterflies had flown in her belly just being with Tolu for some time. Her heart had responded with great excitement. Maybe she could make a change in her relationship with Bina. They could fire things up a little. They could be more passionate and lively. It wouldn’t just be the usual: prayers,   Bible studies, planning and minimal show of love. Things would have to change.

With this resolve she got up from bed and started dressing up for work. She was just buckling her wristwatch around her wrist when her phone rang again. She groaned. “Why can’t you just get the message, Bina?” She picked up the phone from where it was on the bed with the intention of ending the call, but stopped herself when she saw it wasn’t Bina. It was Tolu.

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

 

He waited with bated breath for her musical voice to fill his ears. He hoped it wasn’t too early to call, but he didn’t know her schedule. His wife was not in the room, giving him the privacy he needed for this call. He had turned restlessly in bed all through the night because of Ebika. At one point, he had gone to his study to look through his old photo albums. He had found just what he went there for – a picture he took with Ebika when she said yes to him. She had been laughing when the shot was taken. The photographer had captured every detail of their posture: her perfectly curved body resting in his arms and the look of awe on his face as he stared at her with all the love he felt.

He had stayed back in the study admiring the picture until the wee hours of the morning. That picture was hidden under his pillow. It must have found its rightful place, because he slept after he placed it under his pillow. His dreams had been filled with her. Once he heard his wife leave the room, he picked the phone to call her.

“Hello.” Her sweet voice floated across the line like cool evening breeze on a sweaty skin.  He heard the smile in her voice. His heart jumped in excitement. “Hi, my dear.” He replied, drawing himself up in bed. “How was your night?” he asked.

“Fine.” She answered. “And yours?”

“Fine too.” He pictured her still in bed. “Mine was filled with thoughts of you.”

“Oh, really?” She laughed.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t dream of me. I must have crossed your mind.” He teased.

“Of course you crossed my mind.” She answered.

“I’m so happy we met after all these years, Ebika. I hope we really keep in touch.”

“That depends on you, Tolu. You are the one who is good in disappearing.”

Her words caused his heart to ache. Sadness clouded his features. “I’m truly sorry about that, Ebika.” His words were spoken softly. He needed her to know how sorry he was to have left her back then. He didn’t hear her reply as his wife came into the room. “I’ll call you later. Have a great day.” He rushed on.

“You too.”

Once he heard her response, he ended the call and faced his wife who was looking at him like he had grown horns.

“What?” He asked her sharply.

She opened her mouth to speak, but she shook her head. “Never mind.” She moved to the in-built wardrobe in their room and started moving his clothes about.

Guilt washed over him, but he pushed it aside. He would not hurt Eladebi, but he would not stay away from Ebika.

“What are you looking for?” He asked her, his tone softening.

She turned teary eyes to him. “I don’t want us to be like this, my love. We have to let go of all offences. We’ve come a long way.” She came to knee in front of him. “Forgive all my wrongs, my husband. I just want us to be happy.”

He considered this for a few heartbeats, then he threw his legs off the bed and drew her to his chest. “It’s alright. I’m no longer angry with you. We’re fine.”

“Thank you, my love.” she smiled up at him with tears in her eyes.

He wiped them off and dropped a kiss on her forehead. “I love you.” He told her.

“I love you too,” She replied, wrapping her arms around his mid-section.

While he drove to his office that day, he told his heart to love Eladebi as much as she loved him. She never forced herself on him; not even when she became pregnant before their wedding and had to face disciplinary actions in church. He scratched his head. It was he who assured her of his undying love and promised to stand by her. She had been true to him ever since. But why was he having second thoughts. Could it be that his love for her was fizzling out? Every little thing irritated him now, and he wondered why he seemed so intolerant of her. Hmm… he sighed, his heart must have been preparing him for his meeting with Ebika. Ebika, the one he should have married.

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Old Flame EP 3

And here is Episode three. Our love journey begins!

Episode Three                             

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.