Love Quest Ep 7

The bond of love is strong even a mother can’t break it. Or can she? Let’s continue with Ken, Nimi and Laye. Happy Reading!

 

Episode Seven

Raymond sat in his parked car a few houses from his parents’ house and pondered over what had become his love life. His mother had taken over in the few days since his separation with Nimi. She and her prophet had prayed and counselled him. They had finally found someone among the choristers in the church that would be the perfect partner for him.

Raymond shook his head. He couldn’t believe that he had actually driven down the few kilometres from his house to meet a stranger in his parents’ house who would be his wife. His mother had seemed rather pleased with the lady whom he had not even seen. She had sung her praises over the phone and assured him she was the best of all. He had to meet her that very day, and so he had gotten into his car and driven down there. He had, however, slowed down when the house came into view. He never imagined he would be meeting another lady.

Where was his Nimi? Where was the one that had his heart? Could this lady fire up his blood as Nimi had done? Could she excite him as much as Nimi?

These questions kept him right in his car with worried lines across his face. He looked to the street ahead through his windscreen. Activities on the street were just picking up after the monthly cleaning on the last Saturday of every month.

A mixed crowd gathered around a tap to fetch water; women with wrappers around their chests and waist, some with babies strapped to their backs, young boys and girls were also in this group. They formed groups and discussed among themselves while the tap filled bucket after bucket in a trickle. Just opposite the place where the tap was, a woman stood over a grinding engine working vigorously as she filled the engine with tomatoes and pepper. A girl and a boy stood away from her chatting while they waited for the tomato paste from the engine.

Raymond released a slow sigh as these played out before him. Life would not be stilled because his heart was breaking. People would go on with their lives. If he wanted to be as free as the boy and girl laughing heartily, then he had to take his state of heart into his own hands and correct what had gone wrong. To do that, he had to call Nimi.

He detached his phone from his car charger and quickly scrolled through his contact. He clicked on Nimi’s number and dialled it.

The call went unanswered the first time. His heart raced in his chest when the phone started ringing again. Nimi picked it up after three rings.

“He… he… hello,” He called, stuttering.

“Yes? What do you want?” She asked in a chilled tone.

He winced at her chilly tone. He swallowed to calm his alarming heart rate. “How are you?” He inquired instead without giving an answer to her question.

She scoffed. “You have no right to know about that anymore. Get to the point, Raymond. Why did you call me?”

“Nimi,” he whispered. His heart thudded so heavily that he was not sure he could think of a single appropriate thing to say. “I am… I am very sorry.” The words came out slowly.  He heard nothing in response. If not for her soft breathing across the line, he would have thought she had hung up the phone. The fact that she had picked up was a good sign, and to think that she had not dropped the call was yet another good sign. He pushed on with as much emotion as he could muster.

“You’re all I have. You’re all my heart wants, Nimi. I can never love anyone like you.” He confessed. Was that a sniff he heard? Whatever he had heard, he would win his love again. “Forgive my error, Nimi. I can’t have the one my mother has chosen for me. I want to have you. I’m right here thinking about you while my mother awaits me with the lady she has chosen for me. Nimi, how can I have that lady when all my heart wants is you?” His eyes glistened with unshed tears.

Nimi laughed. A harsh sound that caused his ears to ring out loud with a funny rhythm like a worn-out church bell.

“Yeah right, you will have that lady, Raymond, because your mother says so. Forgive me, but I am not interested in a cry baby’s story. Go and tell this to your mother, and not me. When you win that battle, come back and talk to me. I’m not even sure I’ll be waiting. Goodbye.”

He heard the click of the phone. He moved it away from his ears and stared at it. Nimi! Nimi! His heart cried. Her words struck him then. How would he confront his mother? How would he break her heart and tell her he wanted no one but Nimi? He could still hear her joy as she told him of the lady she and the prophet had chosen. How would he cause her such sorrow to insist on being with Nimi?

He shook his head. No, he would not do that to his mother. He would meet the lady and learn to love again. If only his heart would respond. With this resolution, he turned the key in the ignition and drove down to his parents’ house to meet the one that would create new memories with him and shape his future.

**********

Nimi banged her fist on her desk causing her files to jump. She didn’t bother as they flew about the table and landed on the floor. Her cheeks coloured in anger as she replayed the phone conversation she just had with Raymond.

“The sheer nerve of him!” she muttered. “Nonsense! Let him confront his mother.”

The click sound from the keyboard next to her booth seized, causing her to raise her eyes. She looked into the concerned eyes of the copywriter that was beside her. She forced her lips to smile and nodded at him like nothing happened. She pushed her seat forward and picked the files on the ground, all the while fuming at Raymond’s call.

How could he claim to love and couldn’t do without her, and yet he was going to meet with another lady? Why did he not tell his mother off from the instant she suggested he break up with her? It was a waste of time now crying over spilt milk.

She arranged the files she had disturbed and wished she was not on duty. It would have done her much good to receive Raymond’s call at home. It would have given her enough time to rant and rave without anyone thinking she was loco. Her eyes went to the copywriter beside her. He seemed engrossed with the work they had been assigned to do that morning. The work she was doing when Raymond’s call interrupted her. It annoyed her a great deal that she had even received his call.

But she couldn’t help it.

She had spent years with him, creating memories. Those feelings would not go suddenly. But she would not indulge them. If she would move on from the heartbreak Raymond had caused her, then she would be strong and not entertain any memories that would sadden her now.

She picked up her phone and scrolled to his number. Deleting it would change nothing for his number was stored in her brain. But she couldn’t bear seeing his name on her phone and so she pressed the delete button. It was the same feeling she had that had led her to delete all of his pictures from her phone. Not even a text message had been left on her phone. Raymond was her past, and she would treat him so.

Fresh pain gripped her heart all over. She fought back tears. No! She would be strong. She looked towards the corridor to Laye’s working area. She wished with all her heart that her friend was on duty. She would have given her a shoulder to cry on and encouraged her. While her eyes were strained at the corridor, she didn’t see Ken standing before her until he snapped his fingers in her face. She jerked back in the chair and lifted shocked eyes to him.

“Sir!” She called out in surprise.

He gave a rueful smile. “Hi, Miss Tombiri.” He pulled out one hand from his pocket and waved at her.

Others around raised their voices in greeting and he nodded in acknowledgement.

“I didn’t know you were here.” She told him.

He leaned against the glass frame that marked out her working area, looking very handsome in a red and white striped polo on a navy-blue chinos trouser. His eyes twinkled behind plain fashionable glasses.

Nimi swallowed, amazed at the friendliness radiating in his eyes. She listened to his voice like soft music to her ears.

“I have some work to finish up, so I decided to work on them instead of staying back home to do nothing.” He explained.

“Oh, I see. We’re also here to work on the Diaper Account.” She replied, gesturing to the open computer in front of her.

Ken nodded. “That’s nice. I trust your work.”

For reason she couldn’t explain, his compliment sent a warmth through her down to her toes. She smiled up at him. “Thank you, sir.”

“Er… Miss Tombiri, I’ll like you to join me in my office.” He informed, pointing towards the corridor. “If you’re almost done with your work.” He added quickly.

“I’m done,” she answered immediately, getting up. Her face coloured with embarrassment when he smiled at her quick response. “Hmm… I mean, I’ll be done in another ten minutes.” She adjusted.

Ken gave a short laugh. “Alright, I’ll be expecting you then.”

He waved bye to the other members of her team and walked away to his office.

 

Ken waited for Nimi in his office. He powered his system and tried working but found it difficult to concentrate. All he kept thinking was the time he would have with Nimi. After his last conversation with her, he had not stopped wondering about her.

Beyond her beauty –and she was beautiful, he kept picturing her close to his heart. What was it about her that wanted to break through his carefully built wall? He was certain he wasn’t falling for her beauty. Beauty was what got him entangled with Tenisha.

At the thought of Tenisha, cold sweat broke from his forehead. She had called severally in the last couple of days, and it had gotten him so worried. Each time she called he had ignored her call. He had no courage to answer her for he dreaded what message she might pass across to him. He was scared also for himself. How strong was he to resist the beautiful and sensuous Tenisha?

No, he would not risk his newfound relationship with God. He would not gamble away his peace of mind. He would keep praying for God to take Tenisha away. Even as he thought of that, something deep within told him he hadn’t seen the last of her.

He had no time to dwell on this new feeling as Nimi knocked on the door.

He stood up when she walked in. While she sat in her booth working, he had not seen her fully. But as she worked towards him now he admired God’s handiwork in her creation. The straight, blue gown she wore suited her perfectly. Much as he hated to admit it, he noticed her beautiful figure. She smiled at him.

“You’re welcome.” He said, replying her smile with one of his own. “Please, have your seat.” He pointed to one of the two chairs before him.

She sat down gracefully. “Thank you, sir.” She replied.

He noticed she looked more relaxed than she had been the last time she was in his office, and happier too. Whatever was bothering her then must have left her or she had hidden it properly. Whatever the case may be, he liked that she was better than the last time she was in his office.

“You look more relaxed today.” He said before he could stop himself. He leaned back in his chair and regarded her.

She laughed a little. “I’m pushing out what wanted to take away my happiness.” She replied.

“I hope you succeed.”

She nodded. “I hope I do.”

Ken pushed his chair forward. “It’s important we don’t allow anything take our happiness away. I don’t believe we should give anyone or anything that power.”

“I agree, but sometimes, one can’t help it.” Her tone lost its lustre. A faraway look crept into her eyes.

Ken realized he had jolted a sad memory. He tried to liven up the conversation again. “Well, we just have to fight down anything that wants to steal away our happiness.” He winked.

She smiled. “We’ll try.” She gave a conspiratorial response.

He talked to her then about the Seasoning Company Account and his intention to include her in the team that would work on the account. She expressed her delight at this and promised to give her best. He went on to share some ideas with her and she responded with her own ideas. By the time the conversation was unwinding, they had become very comfortable in each other’s company, sharing laughter and smiles.

He was sharing one of the funny incidents that occurred in his former employment where he mistakenly sent a love message to his boss instead of his girlfriend, and how he couldn’t look the man in the eyes after that day when his phone chimed loudly. He allowed it ring for a while just so he could enjoy the joyful laughter of Nimi. When the phone kept ringing, she drew his attention to it.

Immediately he picked up the phone and saw the caller ID, his expression became clouded. His laughter got stuck in his throat. Nimi noticed this instantly.

“Is all well, sir?” She asked with utmost concern, seeing his sour expression.

He dropped the phone back on the table without answering the call. He gave no immediate response as he waited for the phone to ring again.

And it did.

It was the way it had been for days. Tenisha would call for five to six times at a time before she would rest. He shook his head in self-pity. Tenisha had called at a time when he was free from all the baggage of his past. Her call had, however, caused those baggage to return with vengeance.

“I just feel bad when I think about some things in my past.” He told her in a sad tone.

Nimi leaned forward in her chair, understanding filling her eyes. “I feel the same too.” She replied in a whisper.

“A lot of things I did should never have been done.” He looked thoughtful for some seconds, then he shook off the sad memories. He took his phone and placed it on silent mode. He smiled up at Nimi. “It doesn’t matter anymore. I have found peace in God. I hope you have too. Though I wonder what you could have done wrong.”

Nimi’s eyes became guarded. They shifted from him and stared at the laptop on his desk. “It’s… er… it’s nothing bad.” She responded in an off-hand tone.

He knew it was more than that, but he would not push. Time would come when her heart would be opened to him. The time wasn’t now. He had to gain her trust and that was what he would do. He leaned across the table and took her hands in his own, enfolding and clasping them warmly. “Miss Tombiri, all will be fine. Don’t fret over anything. God is in control.”

A soft gasp escaped her lips. She looked down at their intertwined hands on the table. She said nothing. When he was sure his message had sunk into her, he removed his hands from hers. She pressed one hand to her cheek.

“I’m truly grateful for this time, sir. I truly needed a friend today especially and you fitted properly.” A set of dazzling white teeth gleamed in appreciation.

Feelings of triumph seeped through his veins and excited him like nothing had since he started receiving Tenisha’s calls again. Somehow he felt like he had just conquered the first stage of a difficult challenge. When Nimi left his office that day, he was filled with a certainty that there was more to the two of them and he was ready to unravel what was there.

 

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Love Quest Ep 6

Karibo? Ken? someone is getting confused. Happy Reading!

Episode Six

Nimi shoulders quivered as tears spilled to her face. She recounted what had happened between her and Raymond to Laye. She felt the crush of her break up with him.

“It’s like a dream, Laye. To think the reason for our break up is something so insignificant; a storm in a teacup. How could he break up with me over my sister’s action?” She lamented. “Was it my fault that my sister preferred her husband’s friend to her husband? I also wish to know the hungry prophet that told him that such character trait was in our blood. Imagine the nonsense! Did God tell him that?” Her words blazed with anger.

Laye placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Don’t trouble yourself over this, Nimi. It wasn’t meant to be. The right man will come. Raymond is tied to his mother’s wrapper. Thank God it ended now, or your life with him would have been horrible. Don’t waste any more tears on him.” She said soothingly.

“All I was worth to him was a text message, Laye; just a text message.” Her face contorted in pain. “He sent a message to me last night, telling me he was sorry. What would his sorry do for me? I don’t need his pity.” She cried out in anguish. A few heads turned towards them.

Laye offered a smile to them and wave them back to what they were doing. “Just talking.” She muttered to them. “Nothing to worry about, or gossip about.” She added to the two copywriters opposite Nimi’s booth with a sly wink. They turned away. “Nimi, it’s okay.”

Nimi sniffed. “I wish I had kept quiet about my family affairs. I wish I hadn’t told him anything about my family, especially my sister’s case. He would have had nothing to use against me.” She said in a voice laden with regret.

“This milk has been spilled, Nimi. Stop crying over it, please. You’re beautiful and kind. It is Raymond’s lost. Forget him.” She bent over her and gave her a hug. They were interrupted by a knock on the glass divider around the booth. “Yes?” Laye raised her eyes to the helper standing on the other side of the glass.

The helper came around and stood in front of them. “Mr. Ken wants to see Miss Tombiri.” She told them.

Laye pulled back from Nimi and stared straight at the helper. “What did you say?” She asked.

“Mr. Ken said I should call Miss Tombiri.” She repeated; her eyes on Nimi.

Nimi looked up then and exchanged glances with Laye. She saw the confusion in Laye’s eyes and gave a shrug in response. “Thanks.” She told the helper. “I’ll be there”. The helper strode off. “I wonder what he wants.” She said, worry creasing her brow. Her tears from moments ago forgotten.

Laye folded her arms. “Maybe it’s a mistake. Maybe he wanted to send for me.” She said in a small voice.

Nimi gave a small laugh. “That would be good. I bet both of you would soon connect.” She picked her hankie from the desk and blew her nose into it. She pulled out her drawer and took her powder brush. She touched it to her face lightly. “Don’t worry, when I go there, I’ll tell him about you.” She teased, rubbing Laye’s cheeks.

Laye laughed too. “I am Josephine and you are Mr. Ken’s butler. Pass in a good word for me, will you?”

“Oh, I will, my friend.” Nimi curtsied. She drew a deep breath.  “I’m grateful for this distraction. “She said. “I can’t imagine moaning over Raymond all day.” She smiled then. “Thank God for Mr. Ken. Let me go and hear what he has to say.”

“Okay,” Laye answered, waving her off.

***********

Nimi stood in front of Ken and tried to look anywhere but at him. “You sent for me, sir.” She said, her fingers clasped behind her back. Her eyes fixed on the shelf to his left.

Ken nibbled on his biscuit. He offered her a seat. “Sit down, Miss Tombiri.” He said, mouthful. She did. He smiled. “Come and join me. I’m just having snacks since I missed lunch because of work.” He stretched the packet of biscuit to her.

Nimi shook her head at his offer. “Thank you, sir, but I’m not a fan of biscuit.” She told him.

His eyes widened at that. “Oh, really? You’re the first girl saying that, Miss Tombiri.” He replied. He shook off the crumbs of biscuit from his palms.

Nimi allowed a small smile. “Well, I just don’t like biscuits.”

“Good for you then,” Ken said. He took a swig from his bottle of coke. “Would you like a drink?” He asked, his eyes going to the refrigerator standing at his right hand.

Nimi declined. She looked down at her intertwined fingers on her laps. She didn’t want him to see the question in her eyes. She also didn’t want to scream at him that she was not in the mood for small talks. Who cared about biscuits and a drink when her heart was shattered? She sighed. He must have sensed her impatience and so went on to why he called her.

“I noticed you are the only female copywriter on your team.” He started. She said nothing. “I must say I’m highly impressed by your works. I’ve gone through your team’s previous presentations and I’m quite impressed. From what I’ve heard, you do your work very well.” He gave her an admiring smile.

His compliment did not get to her. She was used to comments like that about her ability as a Copywriter. Raymond had loved her for her attention to details. Well, that was history now.

She shoved down thoughts of Raymond and forced a smile for Mr. Ken. “Thank you, sir.” She responded.

He leaned forward. “I’ll like to hear from you the challenges you have in your team.”

Nimi gazed at him like he wasn’t serious. He had spent some time with the MD discussing exactly that with him. Why was he was asking her the same question? She smelled a rat.

He looked expectantly at her. She had no choice than to repeat the same things he had already been told. While she talked, he picked up a pen and wrote in a notepad on his desk. Her eyes fastened to his head while he wrote. She swallowed. While she stared, she stopped talking.

He looked up. “Miss Tombiri?” He called, questioning.

She covered her embarrassment with a cough. “I’m sorry, sir. I had something in my throat.” She rushed to explain. She pressed a hand to her throat and coughed again.

Ken rolled the pen between his fingers. “Your throat or your mind?”

She didn’t expect that.  She looked up at him with wide eyes. “Sir?”

He looked thoughtful for a while, then he shook his head. “Never mind.” He told her. “I have noted your points. I’ll do something about them.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“That will be all for now. If I need further help, I’ll call on you. I trust you will give your best when it’s time to work. I hope you will be available.”

She nodded. “Of course, sir.” She pushed the chair back and got up.

Ken leaned back in his chair. “Miss Tombiri, please take good care of yourself. Tough times never last but tough people do.” He smiled and waved her off.

Outside the office, Nimi placed a hand on her racing heart. Was it my imagination, or had Mr. Ken’s voice soften when he made the last statement, she wondered. No, Nimi, don’t think about that. She walked quickly back to her booth.

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

Layefa paced back and forth in Nimi’s booth. She waited for Nimi to get back. Severally she peeped down the corridor awaiting Nimi’s arrival. It took all she had not to go down to Ken’s office to eavesdrop. She was sure Didi wouldn’t mind. She, who was already married, would understand a lady’s yearning for her own man. She counted each minute Nimi spent in there. She wondered what they were discussing. Maybe she should just go there and pretend to need something from Nimi. That could work.

She adjusted her skirt. If she would appear before Ken again then she would appear better than he had seen her earlier. She powdered her face with Nimi’s powder left in her drawer. She splashed her lip gloss across her lips. She gave a satisfied smile when she looked in the mirror attached to Nimi’s powder.

Just as she stepped out of the booth, she saw Karibo striding towards her. She straightened her back and made to walk past him, but he put a restraining hand on her arm. She looked up at him with questioning eyes.

“How did it go with Mr. Ken?” He asked.

“Very well.” She replied, looking towards the corridor.

“You didn’t come back to give us feedback,” Karibo stated.

“I had to attend to something important.” She told him. She looked at her wrist that was still held in his arm and lightly pulled it. His grip tightened around her wrist. The more she pulled, the more he tightened his grip. She met his eyes, anger flashing in hers.

“What is the meaning of this, Karibo?” She quizzed.

He said nothing but kept staring into her eyes. Then he looked down at their clasped hands after a while –his large and hard, hers much softer. An ache started up in her chest. She couldn’t speak. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat suddenly. Why was she reacting this way to Karibo? Why was she even standing with him in the middle of a work area, hands clasped?

“Karibo,” she said softly, “Let me go.”

He dropped her hand suddenly as if he had just been informed that she had a plague. His expression became clouded as the sky before a storm. “I’m sorry.” He whispered. “I’ll see you later.” He turned around swiftly and left in large strides. He couldn’t have gone any faster.

Laye stood where she was watching his retreating back until he disappeared around the corner leading to the staircase. Her beating did not stop, and it wasn’t Ken’s name that came to her heart. Her mind at that time was filled with Karibo and the strange encounter they just had. While she stood thinking about that, Nimi arrived and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“What are you looking at?” She asked, peeping over Laye’s shoulder.

Laye turned to her and immediately remembered what she was going to do before Karibo’s arrival. Her eyes lit up then when she thought of hearing about Ken. Karibo was pushed to the back of her mind.

“How did it go with him? What did he say?” She rushed on with her questions, pulling Nimi to the safety of the booth.

“Yes?” She said.

Nimi smiled. “Calm down, my dear desperate friend,” she teased.

Laye huffed. “Desperate you say; I am not.” She replied. “I just like to get things over with. You know how many “miss” we have flying around here, and you know how many are available.  I can’t have them trying their luck with Mr. Ken and hitting jackpot. It has to be me.” She said passionately, looking herself over. “I am sure I fit him.”

Nimi’s lips formed an ‘oh’ as laughter rippled through her. “Yes, you fit him.” She picked some files on her desk and arranged them in order.

Laye waited with bated breath while Nimi tortured her doing one thing or the other. When she couldn’t take it again, she grasped the last set of files Nimi was arranging and dropped them on the table with a whoosh.

“Just tell me for crying out loud.” She shrieked, a vein popping in her neck.

The corners of Nimi’s mouth quirked up in a sly grin. “Alright. We didn’t say anything of importance. He just wanted to know about the challenges we have in my team and if I would be available to work on any account he wants me to work on.”

Laye screwed up her face. “That’s all?” She asked, disbelief clouding her features.

“Yes.” Nimi shrugged.

Laye’s shoulders drooped down like Nimi’s had been earlier when she had been crying over Raymond.

“Okay then.” She pouted.

Nimi touched her, comforting her as she had done to her earlier. “Hey, Ken is not the only man you know. There are so many of them, even right here.”

At Nimi’s words, Karibo’s face flashed across her heart. It jolted her out of her dejection. Why would Karibo’s face filled her mind’s eyes when Nimi was talking about other men?

He had never really appealed to her; not his squared-shaped face or balding head. She didn’t find his bushy beard appealing or the folds of fat on his belly that his average height had not hidden properly. She never even seen him more than a colleague. He was serious-minded and she liked him just like that. It kept her fantasies at bay while working with him and reserved it for people who deserved it; people like Ken.

Yes, Ken. The one she yearned for with every fibre of her being. She liked Nimi, but she couldn’t agree with her on the existence of “other men”. There was only one man for her –Ken.

Love Quest Ep 5

Laye is becoming bold… Ken is thinking of someone else… Nimi is in between. All in Episode 5 of Love Quest. Happy Reading!

Episode Five

Ken shuffled through the files on his desk. His meeting with the staff had gone well, and he had been informed of an abandoned proposal for a major seasoning company. He would take that up and make sure that account was secured.

He had selected his team already during the staff introduction. He could feel the peace within at those he had picked out. He was certain they would deliver.

One thing bothered him though. The female copywriter he had included in the team had not really been herself during the meeting. Something had been wrong with her because her beautiful face was masked in deep sorrow. Her huge eyes were sad.

While he addressed the staff, his eyes kept straying to her. He focused more on her than on any other lady in the room despite the fact that there were nineteen of them. Eleven, including her, were unmarried; yet his eyes only sought her out. He neither bothered with the lady beside her, smiling and winking at him.

Truth is he had no time for distractions. He knew what each ‘miss’ attached to the female staff could do to him and he was not ready to go that way. God had brought him out of the mess that had been his life few months back through a colleague who became a close friend.

Peter had shared the same working area with him and done most of their office assignments together. This had brought them close. It didn’t take long for Peter to know the kind of person he was and the kind of rotten life he was living. Gradually, Peter had suggested a better life in Christ to him and started talking to him about it.

He listened.

Realization followed his attentiveness to the good news Peter shared with him. Things started changing and the mess started clearing after he confessed his sins and acknowledged the Lordship of Christ Jesus.

Those days hadn’t been easy. The first week after his conversion had been so difficult that he had found his way back to the arms of one of his numerous girlfriends.

It had only taken a few hours to get back to where he had started from. When the day broke and what he had done registered on him, he jumped out of her bed in shame and disgust, and ran away from her without a backward glance like one who had fire in his brain.

How he wept when he got home that day. He couldn’t look Peter in the eye when he came visiting that evening for Bible study. Peter had been sad, but he had not condemned him. He prayed with him for grace to overcome sin while he confessed what he had done.

It’d been three months and God had helped him. He was still a work in progress, but he was certain of God’s love and grace working things out for him. He would therefore not go back to his vomit again. No, never, he told himself firmly.

He pulled out the file he was looking for from the heap on his table. Excitement coursed through his veins like water on a rock. A wide grin spread across his face. He loved challenges, and this challenge would be one he would surmount.

He fingered the file and turned it open, going through the proposal that was attached to it. He took out a plain paper from the pack of A4 paper resting on his printer and penned down the names of those he had chosen for the account. His hand hovered over the female copywriter’s name. Her face filled his heart next. He dropped his pen and allowed himself wonder about the sadness in her eyes, the pain that contoured her beautiful face.

What could he do to help her?

The ringing of his phone drew him out of his thoughts. He picked it up from where he dropped it beside his computer. He looked at the screen. A fine sheen of sweat broke out of his forehead when he saw the number. Although he had deleted the contact from his phone, he would know the number anywhere. His hands shook as he kept glaring at his phone. He dropped it on the table as if it was on fire.

He got up from his desk and moved to the window, rubbing his head. The short hair he kept scraped his palm.

Calm down, Ken, it’s probably nothing, he assured himself. He drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. His heart beat dropped and he quickly mouthed words of prayer. Just as he rounded off the prayer, his phone started ringing again. He moved close to the desk and peeked at the phone.

It was the same number. It was Tenisha.

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

Layefa stood against her desk with three other art directors in their working area. They had come up with some wonderful designs for the Seasoning Company account. Although the designs had been on ground before the ED brought it up again, they had fine-tuned it and added more life to it. She had contributed her best in the short time they had come together to work on it. As they passed comments on it and quickly corrected mistakes, Layefa was sure the ED would be impressed.

The thought of impressing Ken made her giddy with excitement. Her face came alive in a bright smile. How could anyone be so handsome? She wondered. No one had the right to be so good looking. Her smile deepened as she pictured him the way he had been that morning: all manly in a well-tailored grey suit.

Energy burst within her and she felt more alive than ever. The reason was not far-fetched: Ken was causing a lot of tingling sensation in places she thought had died when Pere left her years ago. What she felt now was a sparkling of electricity. It zinged her each time she caught a glimpse of Ken or heard his name mentioned.

He was her man. She was sure of it. His innocent look endeared him to her. She would explore everything Ken was and she would be his woman.

She jumped at the cold fingers that circled her arm. She turned around with a frown and stared at the intruder with belligerent eyes.

“What?” She demanded in anger.

Three pairs of amused eyes looked back at her. Their lips quivered in amusement. It was obvious they were trying not to laugh out loud. Before she could make another harsh remark, Karibo, one of them, spoke up.

“I will give a thousand dollars to know what you were thinking about, Laye.” He said in a teasing tone, his eyes crinkling as he smiled.

Laye eased off. “A thousand dollars is not even enough. My thoughts are worth millions of dollars.” She replied, pushing off the desk and clapping her hands.

“What if I’m willing to pay?” Karibo persisted, fixing her with serious eyes.

Laye regarded him with wary eyes. Something seemed off with him, she thought. He was the most serious of the bunch, but for a while now he seemed to joke a lot with her.

What gives? She pondered. She picked a pencil from the desk close to her and tapped the top with it.

Karibo took the pencil from her and held her hand. He looked straight into her eyes with intensity. “I will pay anything just to get into your thoughts.”

“Huuu…” the others echoed, slapping each other a high five.

Laye pulled her hand from his. “Quit fooling around.” She told him firmly, creating space between them. She picked the printed designs and examined them closely. She totally avoided Karibo who kept on watching her.

“What next?” She asked the team.

Adike, the most senior Art Director in the room, cleared his throat. “We’ll present it to Mr Ken.”

Laye’s heart flipped at that. She straightened quickly. “All of us?”

Adike shook his head. “No.”

Disappointment washed over her like rainwater on a plain surface.

“I suggest Karibo represent us.” Adike added.

Hope surged within Laye. She moved back to Karibo with a smiling face. “What were you saying about paying for my thoughts?”

“Er…” Karibo stuttered.

Laye placed a finger over his lips. Karibo’s eyes widened and he looked at the two other art directors for help. They simply gave him a shrug.

“Don’t worry about paying. You could be a part of my thoughts right now if you would allow me go to Mr Ken’s office in your stead.” She pleaded in a sweet tone, batting her eyes.

Karibo coughed a little. “Why?” He inquired.

Laye gave a slight shrug. “Oh nothing really; just that ladies get desired results all the time in DAA. “ She came forward and placed her hands on his chest.

A gasp of surprise escaped Karibo’s lips. He stared back into Laye’s eyes. A small smile of victory tugged at the corners of her lips when she felt Karibo’s eyes softening. She was sure he would hand over the design to her any minute now. Adike’s sharp interruption ended the moment to Laye’s displeasure.

“That doesn’t sound like something to be proud of Laye.” He said, turning his head to one side as he weighed her words.

Laye flinched, stepping away from Karibo who was still staring at her mouth opened. “Whatever.” She bit out the retort. “I will be the one to give our design to Mr Ken.” She stated in a matter-of-fact tone.

Adike raised his hands in mock surrender. “Let Karibo decides. It’s out of my hands. Karibo!” He called.

Karibo turned his head slowly to Adike and back to Laye. He flashed a bright smile. “Anything for the lady.” He took the design and handed it over to her with a bow.

Laye suppressed a yelp of delight forcing its way to her throat. The men would wonder about her true motives, especially when the design hadn’t even been accepted. She flashed a small smile for each man, nodding her thanks to Karibo.

“Thank you, kind sir.” She said, bending one knee and raising her skirt a little. “I won’t let you down.” She took the designs and stalked out of the door, down the corridor before Karibo would change his mind.

Someone called to her from an open office but she kept right on. Nothing would distract her from her goal.

She breezed through protocols with Ken’s secretary with flatteries. She complimented Didi’s blue dress and the secretary fell straight for her. It took only few minutes for her to be admitted into his office.

 

Ken stood close to the shelf, a serious look on his face. He had one hand across his chest and the other held his lower jaw. He stared at the creamy curtains on the window as if they were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He didn’t look up when she entered, and yet it was he who had answered the secretary’s buzz through the intercom, informing him of her presence. He seemed lost in thought. Laye took advantage of the few seconds to really study him.

A breath caught in her throat as she drank in his features. His sharp angular face was defined and boasted of a slightly pointed chin and a sturdy jawline. His chocolate body was covered with a grey suit, hanging perfectly on his athletic body. His long fingers cradled the phone he held in the arm around his chest like a baby. He stood a few feet above her five five. Her eyes moved quickly to his clean-shaven face and immediately gasped in shock when a pair of eyes look back at her disapprovingly.

Her cheeks grew hot with embarrassment under his unfriendly stare. She was grateful for her slightly light skin or else her embarrassment would have been boldly written on her face with patches of red across her cheeks.

“Do you like what you see?” He asked. His mouth was set in a hard line.

Laye drew her lower lip between her teeth. The hand that held the design shook as he kept staring down at her like an annoying insect. She drew her hands behind her and cleared her throat. “I’m Miss Layefa Iteimo, one of the art directors here.” She said. He said nothing. She swallowed a lump that had formed in her throat. “I’m here to give you a design we created for the Seasoning Company account.” She explained.

He looked away from her when her explanation sunk in. The hard lines around his mouth softened just a bit. “Drop it on the desk.”

Layefa moved close to the desk and dropped it there. She waited. When he said nothing, she turned to leave. Almost at the door, she made a turn back to him. She couldn’t waste the opportunity and just leave like that. Even if he was in a foul mood she would get something out of the meeting with him.

“Mr. Ken,” She started.

He looked at her, surprise crossing his eyes like he couldn’t believe she was still there. “Yes?”

Laye pulled her biggest grin and met his eyes. “You seemed bothered.” She said, inching closer to him. “What is on your mind? I hope it’s not the Seasoning Company account.”

His expression closed up. “It’s nothing. Thank you, Miss Iteimo.” He left his position and moved to his chair. He pulled it out and sat down. “I’ll look over your design. Thank you once again.”

Feeling dismissed, Laye swallowed her disappointment and left his office. She walked briskly back to the office with a straight face, but just before she turned to her working area, she sighted Nimi in her booth, shoulders slumped and head bowed. She switched directions and moved straight to her friend who seemed in need of a friend at that moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shock

I wanted a ring, he gave me a baby…

Yes, I have found the one my heart loved. I have found the one I could call my own. No more would I be subjected to the suspicious counsel of mother. No more would father wonder when a man would come for me. I have my own man. 

I bragged and walked with my shoulders high. Why shouldn’t I when my heart was occupied? I had the courage to wave off too nice guys. When I needed them, they were nowhere to be found, now I need them no more.

The months rolled by and I started wondering about my man. The doubts marked my face like tribal marks on the face of a Yoruba man. When will he popped the question? Oh, when will he ask me?

I have liked several pictures of friends displaying their engagement rings and when the question was popped. When will mine happen?

Sleep left my eyes in the months I waited for my man to speak. When my heart could wait no longer, I approached my man.

My question shocked him. He wondered why I was in a hurry, and I told him I wanted to know where we were heading.

And he told me.

My man said he loved me and wanted to spend forever with me. It filled my heart with joy, but I couldn’t rejoice.  My man had shown no ring, neither had he expressed any joy at his admission. He looked as serious as a student sitting for his final examination. I had to know why.

And he told me.

I was the third girl he was with. The two before me couldn’t understand and had to go. What should I understand?

My man’s mother wanted a grandchild first before the ring. Hmmm…  How do I give a baby without a ring? What would I tell my mother? What about my friends? What about the picture on Facebook? Should I show a tummy instead of a finger?

My man went on his knees and pleaded. He confessed his undying love over and over again. How could I resist even though I wanted a ring while his knees were bent and not a plea to accept his semen?

But I accepted it.

I couldn’t bear the thought of another search; another waiting for another man. I would have my ring immediately after my tummy became habited. I could pay the prize.

And I fell for it.

The months went by again, and I was almost at the delivery room. My man said nothing.

Nothing. Zilch

The Man

Love they say is blind. I was totally blind when I fell for him…

 

He whispered to me just around the corner as I walked down the street. He motioned for me to stop and I did. The butterflies flew in the pit of my stomach as I waited for the one whose attention I have drawn.

He was like no one I have attracted in the past. This man was different. His average height appealed to me because I wouldn’t have to tiptoe to return his kiss or give one of mine. He was just lean enough for my slender arms to wrap around his body.

Oh, his face! It struck me hard like lightning in a cloudy sky. He was handsome as handsome can be. Think of what you love best about your own man and I’ll tell you my man had it.

I didn’t wait long for his strong legs took him to me in few strides. His smile twinkled in his eyes like the stars on a beautiful sky. I enjoyed his perusal and I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say.

He told me of love. He told me of intimacy. He told me of oneness. He told me of longing. He waited for my response.

I didn’t need to wait any day to give my ears to my man. He was all I wanted. Even his voice was like melody to my ears. I told him to come right again and sweep me off my feet.

And he did.

He coloured my day with the best of all: We smiled, laughed, held hands and I even had my first kiss. It was all bliss.

And I said Yes to my man.

He became my man, and I was his woman.

Our hearts became one and started beating in the right direction.

I was sure we had the perfect future ahead of us. I wanted it all.

But something was waiting for me…

 

Love Quest Ep 4

So my pen went on a very long holiday and didn’t get back on time. Pweee!! sorry about that. A lot also kept me away: a blown power pack was one of the lot.Well, I’m right here, and I’m taking back my space. Hey! get back here with me! Winks! I’m really giving my best to this story and I know you’ll like it, just like others.

If you have forgiven my long absence, sit down and get back on the train with my fav characters: Nimi, Laye and Ken.

Welcome Backkkkk!!!!!!

 

Episode Four

Her journey home that evening was the longest Nimi had ever taken. Tears pooled in her eyes and flowed ceaselessly. She didn’t mind the curious glances she got from people whom she shared the tricycle with. By the time she alighted at her bus-stop and made her way down the street to her house, the rain she had dreaded earlier came in torrent. This time she neither walked fast nor prayed against it. She felt no concern for her braids already soaking wet. Her tears and the rain blended together. Where one stopped, the other continued.

The street was deserted, save for the few who took shelter in front of their shops or unfenced compounds. She heard a few whistles calling to her, but she didn’t stop. The rain was less heavy than the one pouring in her heart and manifesting in her eyes.

Her heart burned within her chest. She clenched it and staggered a little. Her world had shattered. She could take no step further. She sank into the water puddle in the middle of the street few feet from her house. Around her, the rain poured. Bits of sand and stones stuck to her clothes. She felt content sitting right in the middle of the street. It made sense that she should drown herself in the sorrow that followed her breakup with Raymond.

Someone must have seen her fall, because in no time she was pulled back to her feet, and was staring into the concerned eyes of a middle-aged man.

“Are you alright?” He asked, concern outlining his words.

She looked at him for a few heartbeats but said nothing. When she didn’t say anything, he led her away from the pouring rain and under one of the roofs of a shop that provided shelter from the driving rain.

Curious glances met her when the man led her there. She said nothing, neither did she meet anyone’s eyes. She looked at the man who had helped her briefly before turning away to stare into the pouring rain.

“I’m fine. My house is close. I’ll go now.” she said in a low tone, barely audible above the sound of the rain on the zinc roof. She was about to cross the gutter separating the front of the shop from the street when she remembered she hadn’t said thanks. She turned to him, “thanks,” she added.

She walked away then. The strange silence didn’t affect her. She was sure they would talk about her. They would wonder about her strangeness, and someone who knew her among them would point out that she was the sister of the lady who married her husband’s friend. She wasn’t Nimi to so many on her streets and beyond anymore; she was the sister of the one who committed an abomination.

That had never really mattered to her. It was her sister’s life after all. Her sister hadn’t listened to any reason back when she had done what she did. All hell had broken loose. Her father threatened to disown her, her mother wept her eyes out; and she quarreled nonstop with her. In the end, they had accepted what they couldn’t change: her sister loved her husband’s friend more than she loved her husband. How it got to that was a long story she wasn’t even ready to relive just yet. She only wanted to mourn her shattered relationship because of what was no fault of hers.

She dragged herself into the quiet house disturbed by the sound of the rain against the roof. Her eyes darted right and left. The living room was arranged neatly, she noted with joy. The last thing she wanted adding to her sorrow was her mother’s nagging on orderliness. It was yet another scar her sister had left behind: her two-year-old son. Much as she loved her nephew, she couldn’t stand that they had to be responsible for him because of her sister’s irresponsibility. If it weren’t for her two younger siblings, she would have looked for her sister even if it took forever. Not loving his father didn’t mean she should not love her own son.

She walked across the living room, shoving her sister’s problems from her heart again. She had enough of her own. She padded the carpeted floor lightly to avoid being heard. That would have been impossible though because of the sound of the rain. She passed the line of rooms on the corridor. The first room was her parents’ room, next to it was the one shared by her brother. In between the rooms on one end of the corridor and the other stood two bathrooms and toilets. She walked by slowly to the room that her younger sister shared with her nephew. It was formerly her room. She caught snatches of a song as she made her way down to the room. Her room was the last. She opened the door and pulled herself in, leaning against the heavy wooden door.

Her eyes were dried with tears, saved the water dripping from her hair and falling on her face. She forced herself up and took down her towel from the door. She wrapped it around her head and pulled off her wet clothes. She took the heap and dropped them into a basket beside her bed, then she unwrapped the towel from her head and wrapped it around her body. A shiver ran through her like lightning in a cloudy sky. She hugged her shoulder and thoughts of Raymond filled her.

Why would he leave her? Why would he allow his mother dictate to him? Why wouldn’t he remember all they had shared?

 

Few hundred miles away, same questions plagued Raymond’s mind as he looked out of his window into the rainy darkness enveloping the outside.

What Nimi’s sister did wasn’t her fault. The decision was her sister’s. Hers alone. Why then did his mother shift it to Nimi? Oh no, a little voice stopped this line of thought. It wasn’t just your mother. Her prophet confirmed it; the voice reminded him. The same prophet that told you when you would get a job and you got it. The same prophet that assured your mother that your father who ran away to be with another woman would come back begging, and it happened. Why should he be wrong about Nimi now?

Raymond roughened his hair with his fingers, confusion biting deep within him like teeth on a juicy meat. Worry lines marked his forehead like tribal marks on the cheeks of a Yoruba man. If the prophet was true to his prophesies, how come he felt so guilty letting Nimi go. It was almost like a big hole now occupied where his heart was before. He felt empty and alone.

Nimi completed him. She loved him with all her heart. That, he was sure of as he was sure of the day breaking in the morning. From the moment their eyes had met in the bank that morning two years ago, he had fallen for her. The moment he asked for her pen and brushed her fingers as she handed it over to him, sparks of love had ignited within him. Each time they locked gaze and she smiled at him, he knew there was no turning back.

Starting a relationship with Nimi had been pure pleasure. They clicked right from the start like the lock on a briefcase. She loved what he loved and enjoyed what he did. Their differences were almost non-existent. He recalled each smile, each laughter; he recalled each tender moment lost in their own love world. His friends envied him and waited patiently for his wedding invitation. How would he tell them it was over now? What reasons would he give?

‘We’re not compatible spiritually. My mother wants someone who will complement me and stay with me forever. You know my father left my mother, and it seems infidelity runs in Nimi’s family. She doesn’t want me going down that road.’

A shudder ran through him. Everything sounded shallow. He hated himself and what he had done to Nimi. He hoped she would forgive him and understand where he was coming from. He could never disobey the woman who had given her all for him when his father left them with nothing. The woman who only wanted the best for her only child.

It wasn’t wrong to end a relationship because of her. He repeated this to himself. It should have made him feel good, but he felt like a trailer ran over him and crushed his heart. He placed a hand over his chest. Relief washed over him like a cleansing tide. His heart was beating. The only problem was each sound called for Nimi. Each rhythm yearned for her gentle and sweet presence.

It would take a whole lot than river bathing to cleanse him of Nimi. His mother and her prophet better be ready.

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

It wasn’t the way Layefa planned to end her day, but what choice did she have? Seeing her mother on the balcony told her she was yet to see the worst of the day. After spending hours sketching and re-sketching, just to impress the new ED, and still had nothing impressive, she had no intention of hashing anything out with her mother. The weather didn’t put her in a good mood either. She should have gone home with Nimi if not for her meeting with Raymond.

For a moment, she allowed her mind to drift from the predator that was watching her with mean eyes and thought about her friend.

How would things end between them? She pondered, concerned filled her eyes. What would happen to her friend if Raymond truly breaks up with her? She sent a word of prayer to heaven’s ears on behalf of her friend; then she faced the armored tank waiting for her.

She put one step in front of the other, drawing close to the place of war. When she got to the balcony, she greeted her mother. “Mama, good evening.” She said.

Her mother gave a long hiss. “What exactly is good about this evening, Layefa? Tell me?” She fired at her, standing up straight and adjusting the wrapper around her waist.

“Well, I went out, and I’m back safely,” Layefa replied with a sigh.

Her mother gave a mirthless laugh. “Your mates are returning safely to their husbands’ houses, Laye, not to their mother, who have toiled tirelessly to bring them up.”

“And here we go,” Laye muttered under her breath. She held on to her bag. A look of controlled misery settled over her features, but her posture straightened as though she might allay that misery with sheer physical effort.

“You have refused to see the man of God with me. This is a spiritual problem, Laye.” Her voice lost its hardness, taking a negotiating tone. The corners of her rigid mouth softened.

Her words grated Laye’s already fray nerves. “Mama, nothing is wrong with me. My man will come at the right time.” She told her calmly.

“But when?” her mother burst out in anger. “Is it when I die, or when you become too old to bear children?”

Laye knew the routine. Her mother would soon start crying. She didn’t want her to cry. “Mama,” she said, moving closer to her. “Very soon, I’ll bring your son-in-law. You will like him.” She smiled.

Her mother’s eyes filled with hope. “Really?” she quizzed, hope dancing in her eyes like embers of flame.

“Yes, very soon.” She assured her. She placed her head on her shoulder. “Let’s go inside, Mama.”

Mother and daughter walked into the house, hand in hand. It was one of those rare mother and daughter moments for Layefa. She liked it. She didn’t allow the false hope she had given her mother to stop her from enjoying the moment. What does it matter if Ken has not even noticed her? She would only make him do. She wasn’t so bad that he wouldn’t want her.

Photo Credit: Lois Temitope