Old Flame Ep 20B

Episode 20B

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

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

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

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

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

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

And they did flow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Forgive me, Ebika. Please forgive me”

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

“I have a…” he hesitated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But…” Ebika chipped in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ebika, I’m sorry. Please for…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END.

Dear Readers,

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

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

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

Faith P.I

 

 

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Old Flame Ep 20

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

Episode Twenty

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

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

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

The undertone was apparent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tolu.” Someone called from behind.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Old Flame Ep 17

And their love blossomed… hehehe

 

Episode Seventeen

 It was time for a major clean-up. Tolu stood in the middle of his living room with his hands on his waist, looking around. Things had changed for him in the two days Eladebi and the children had been absent from the house. He was enjoying his freedom with the knowledge that he could have the love of his life to spend it with.

Ah, yes, Ebika. He sighed with deep pleasure. Ebika, the one for him, had accepted him back into her life. She was ready to create more memories with him. He made up his mind to please her. He would go extra length just to keep her by his side. The extra length he was willing to start with was to remove all of Eladebi’s pictures from around the house.

His eyes went to the first frame on the wall, just above the television. The picture had been taken on their wedding day. He took the frame off the wall and stared at the picture. Despite Eladebi’s stress that day, she had managed to smile and look good. It was he who went about looking like a lost soul.  He did feel like a lost soul then, and even now. He couldn’t understand how he went from Ebika to Eladebi back then, and how he would soon be a father. Each smile had been strained, and yet, he had kept smiling to keep up appearances. He had to be happy. He stood at the altar with Eladebi and told himself over and over again to be happy.

That happiness eluded him initially when he had to go through the awkwardness of life with Eladebi. They related almost as strangers during the early stage of their marriage, but things took a turn for good. Eladebi proved to be a wonderful woman indeed, and his heart eventually accommodated her. Too bad now that the owner of the heart had come back for what was rightfully hers. He couldn’t deprive Ebika of what truly belonged to her, even if it meant letting go of the woman he had spent years with, and the children God had blessed them with.

“Let’s hope it’s worth it after all.” He said aloud and took down the frame. He dropped it carefully on the side stool he had placed beside him.

Each frame he took down told a story of his life with Eladebi. There were pictures of both of them in the church during the children’s christening. Pictures of the boys at three and six months. He also looked at pictures of their children’s first birthday. He kept dropping them one after the other swallowing the emotions threatening to choke him. He didn’t know it would be so difficult to clean out Eladebi and his children’s presence in the living room.

The last frame he took down was a family picture of all of them together. It was taken at the New Year party organised by his in-laws a year ago. He took in their happy faces and thought again how that happiness had been there without Ebika. How had he been so happy with Eladebi? When did he stop feeling that way towards her? Was it just because their minor disagreements which Eladebi would always apologize for and do his bidding, or something else?

His heart thumped wildly against his chest in guilt. It was foolish to dwell on the issue when he knew his heart had rejected Eladebi already. He dropped the frame with the others on the stool like it was burning his hand. He had to forget Eladebi. She was his past now. His past as at two days ago.

He carried as many frames as he could and dropped them in a big carton in his study. When he was through, he dusted his hand and examined the living room. The walls only held pictures of him in various outings, meetings and all. No one would ever know he had a wife if they stepped into his living room now. That should make him happy but all he felt was a gnawing in his heart. He tried to smile but his lips won’t cooperate. His heart refused to warm to the prospect of a smile. He had to fight the sadness in his heart. He had what he always wanted. There was one way to keep reminding him of what he has now.

He ran to his bedroom and returned with Ebika’s picture. He attached it to one of his own already on the wall. He stepped back to look at it.

“Yes!” He exclaimed with smiles. “Now this is how it ought to be. This will definitely impress Ebika when she visits tomorrow.”

He left the living room and went to the guest bedroom. He picked out every incriminating item; incriminating items like his children’s toys that Eladebi didn’t go with. Hair brush, Hair shampoo and conditioner, shower cap and an empty bottle of ‘Romantic Women Perfume’ that Eladebi left in the bathroom when she stayed in the guest room.

When he left the guest room, he found himself in the children’s room. A frustrated look entered his eyes as he took in all that was in the room. He shook his head. He couldn’t clean out the children’s room. It would have to be an out-of-bound room for Ebika. He would ensure she didn’t go there.

The master bedroom was already cleaned out. It was just unfortunate that his kitchen was too organise to be in a bachelor’s pad. Then again, Ebika could stay away from the kitchen. He would be the perfect host, and if he was going to put up a good show for Ebika, then he had better do it all; all included cooking Ebika a meal.

That thought didn’t excite him at all. He left the master’s bedroom and wandered to the kitchen to start his catering practical.

 

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

 

Four years was such a long time to have forgone cooking, but for Ebika’s sake, Tolu was in the kitchen wiping up what he hoped to be his best. He had spent the entire day after the clean-up cooking.

Standing in the kitchen felt so odd. For a long time his place had been at the dining table and not the kitchen. He had never been disappointed before when he waited for Eladebi’s food at the dining. It was always right on time and very delicious. Saliva filled his mouth and he swallowed nosily. He hoped his food would also make Ebika salivate.

He checked his pot of Jollof rice one last time, then he turned off the cooker. He rubbed his palms together in excitement. Time to get set for the arrival of the queen of his heart.

His bath took few minutes, but he spent more time dressing up. Ebika liked his looks. He would ensure he satisfied her. He ran a hand across his neatly trimmed beard.

“Nice.” He said, smiling broadly at his reflection.

He pushed his comb through his afro and styled it properly, then he looked over his blue polo and combat short. It was casual enough but also stylish. He wanted Ebika to be comfortable around him. By the time the doorbell rang, he was all dressed up and ready to entertain her.

“Hi, love.” He greeted, pressing his lips to her cheek. “You’re welcome.”

“Thanks, dear.” She answered with a smile.

His eyes swept over her, and he liked what he saw. She looked gorgeous in a well-cut pencil gown that revealed curves that made her more appealing to him. He swallowed. His guilt over his treatment of Eladebi flew out of his head as he drank all of Ebika. She seemed to enjoy the attention because she flipped her shoulder-length weave-on over one shoulder and batted her eyes at him. A burning desire rose within him, such as he had never felt for Eladebi in a long while. He quickly stepped aside before the thoughts in his heart were put into action.

“You look so beautiful, my love. Come in.” He invited.

She gave a deliberate sway of her hips as she walked past him. He liked it all. He liked what she was doing to him. If she continued keeping him interested the way she was doing at that moment, then marriage should not be too far off.

He led her to a couch and he sat beside her. He gave her time to enjoy the beauty of his living room. She nodded severally in approval. Seeing the admiration in her eyes reassured him of the good work he did while he was preparing for her visit. Nothing was out of place.

Ebika’s eyes finally stopped their roaming and came back to him. “Wow, Tolu! This place is so lovely.” She stated in an admiration-filled voice.

He grinned from ear to ear. “Thanks, my love. This will soon be our place.”

She fixed him a dreamy look as she considered what he just said. Her eyes went round the room again. She jumped up abruptly startling Tolu. She moved to where he had arranged the frames and included her picture. He joined her in front of the television. She had her back to him. His eyes rested on her waist. He imagined his arms encircling it. He thought of her reaction if he did. He hesitated. It lasted only for a few seconds. He moved to her and placed his hands on her waist. She leaned into his body, rubbing her face against it.

“I can’t believe you kept this picture, dear.” She said in a near whisper, caressing his ear.

He kissed the ear. “I can never throw away the memories I have with you.” His voice matched hers. Her eyes drifted close as he spoke of his love for her.  “You’re the best thing in my life, Ebika. Time could not separate us because we were meant for each other. I have always loved you and still love, and I will continue loving you.”

She turned to face him then. He drew her into a bear hug.

Emotions built within him. This was what it meant to love. He thanked his lucky stars for granting him another chance with Ebika, and for giving him the courage to kick Eladebi out of his heart and life. Sending Eladebi and his children away for the love of Ebika was worth it. He dropped a light kiss on her lips as he led her back to the couch.

Their love was the topic for the day. They both pledged underlying love for each other while they ate. He kept stealing kisses every now and then during the meal. It made Ebika bat her eyes more at him and even return his kisses. He was excited beyond words. This was the kind of life he wanted.

After the meal, they lingered over the wine he had poured to celebrate the moment. He held her hand.

“I believe you enjoyed your meal. I made it specially for you.” He told her.

She smiled. “I’m impressed. If you keep doing this each time I come around, I promise to love you till infinity.” She tapped his nose with her finger.

His smile wobbled a little. Cook each time she was around? Did she mean it or was she just joking? It must be a joke. He concluded within him.

“I’ll like to eat your food too. Maybe you should invite me to your place.” He suggested.

She pulled her hand free from his. “I would love to, but I prefer you entertaining me here.” She answered with a small shrug.

The magic was slipping. He took her hand again and changed the subject. “I’ll do anything for you.”

“Oh, that’s…”
The bleeping of his phone cut her short. He picked it up and dropped immediately when he saw the caller ID. “You were saying…?” He urged her to continue.

“I wanted to tell you…”

His phone started ringing again.

He ignored it and got her to continue. When the phone rang the third time, a suspicious look came into Ebika’s eyes.

“Why don’t you just answer the call?” She said stiffly. The smile had disappeared from her face.

“It’s not important. It’s just a client I dealt with some days back. He needs some goods but couldn’t meet up with the payment.” He explained. She didn’t look like she believed him. “I’ll just turn off the phone.” He picked up the phone, but she stopped him.

“Don’t turn it off.”

“But… it’s making you uncomfortable.” He tried to reason with her.

She shook her head. “Don’t worry.” The smile that accompanied the statement made him worry instead.

Things got bad after that: two more phone calls that he couldn’t take and two messages that he was not ready to read. Ebika picked up her purse soon after.

“Let me drop you at home.” He offered when he couldn’t convince her to stay back.

Her arms crossed her chest as she waited for him to pick up his car keys. When he came back to her, he pulled her into a hug.

“I’m sorry, my love. I didn’t mean to ruin your first visit to my place. You mean so much to me, and no one is worth my attention when I am with you. Don’t leave like this.” He pleaded. He felt her body melting against his. He released a sigh of relief.

“It’s okay.” She replied, playing with the button on his shirt. “Just promise me this won’t happen next time.”

Tolu crossed his heart. “I swear it won’t.”

The moment felt like the time she just arrived. He led her out whispering words of love to her. He surprised her with the cash gift he had kept aside before her arrival. She accepted it with all smiles. He felt good that he could make her happy.

All through his drive home the feeling remained with him until he got home and found out he had to clear the table and wash all they used. He didn’t feel so good again. He pulled out a chair and dropped down heavily, then he cursed Eladebi for almost ruining his date with her calls. He still didn’t understand while she kept calling even when he had

refused to answer any of her calls. One of the messages he received was from her and the other was from Christopher. He opened her message and expected to read an apology like the ones she sent their first day apart. Instead, it was a prayer for him. She went on and on praying for him, and telling him she and the children were missing him. What baffled him was her belief that everything would soon pass and they would be back together as a family. She was putting up with a friend so that her family members would not know what was happening. What made her so confident was beyond him because as far as his heart was concerned he was done with her.

Christopher told him he understood what was happening but encouraged him to do what was right which was to get back with his wife and children.

Tolu scratched his head. His eyes back to the dishes on the table. Whatever was going on at the moment, the reality for him was that he had just finished sharing a meal he cooked for his woman and was about to wash the dishes himself. There was nothing appealing in that.

 

 

 

Old Flame EP 10

Episode Ten

When she accepted Tolu’s invite for lunch to celebrate her birthday, she had wondered what she would tell Bina. But he had made everything easy for her when he called that morning to tell her he was on morning shift and would see her later in the evening. She made her calculations and noted with relief that her date with Tolu would be long over before Bina would meet with her.

Despite all she had told herself after Doubara’s counsel, she couldn’t stop the flutters in her stomach as she thought of being on a date with Tolu again. She rushed through her work as the clock ticked towards the time she would be with Tolu. She accepted birthday wishes from friends and colleagues. Her phone kept ringing. Everything was putting in her in the mood for a great time; even her mother had called her. Her call put a broad smile on her face. Her recovery was quite fast and it made her happy.

When she finished her major work that morning, she turned over the others to her partner whom she had planned with that morning. She went into the ladies to retouch her makeup. She would not meet Tolu looking ordinary. She must appear her best. It was the reason why her dress had been specially picked out that morning. The red gown was as daring as her mood. It was a long, flowing linen gown with a cut that ran from her knee downwards, revealing straight legs that were her pride. She left the ladies with so much confidence. As she swayed towards the reception to await Tolu, her steps faltered. She must tell Tolu the truth. She couldn’t keep up with their fantasies all in the name of old love. Yes, her heart was attuned to the feelings from the past, but she had to do the right thing. Tolu must know about Bina. Whatever the consequence, so be it.

That didn’t give her joy. She didn’t look forward to their meeting again. She dropped heavily on the metal chair in the reception. Her face was sad and withdrawn. Her hand rested under her jaw as she read the messages on her phone without her earlier glee. Her face brightened a little when she read the post Doubara had made for her on Facebook. Tolu arrived while she was at this.

He breezed into the office with the aura of the wealthy man he was. In his right hand was a bouquet of flower. His blue blazer glimmered in the bright light. The hair she loved was neatly combed. The fragrance of his perfume filled the area immediately. Heads turned to him. Some didn’t return to what they were doing before. It angered her that two ladies sitting in front of her were making ‘google’ eyes at him. She stood up then. Time to claim ownership of the fine specie that seemed to be everyone’s fantasy.

His eyes sparkled as he set them on her. The corners of her mouth widened in a smile until she felt they would tear. When he got to her, he dropped a kiss on her cheek.

“Happy Birthday, beautiful.”  He whispered into her ears. His free hand curved her small back.

If she was fair, her face would have become as red as a ripe tomato. “Thank you, handsome.” She replied in a husky voice. She met the eyes of the two ladies who had been looking at him with open admiration when he came in earlier. She didn’t expect friendly looks from them and she didn’t get them. What she saw was what would be seen in the eyes of defeated ladies: jealousy. She winked at them. One huffed and turned away.

Ebika laughed.

Tolu moved away from her and ran his eyes from her head to her toe. “You look more beautiful each day, my dear.” He told her, longing in his voice.

She giggled like a love-struck teenager. “It must be because of you.” She replied, batting her eyes at him.

He touched the tip of her nose. “Don’t kill me, Ebika.”

Another giggle. She looked around. They were the centre of attention for everyone. “We’ve given these lot a good drama. Now, let’s go before they declare war on us.”

He looked around then and guffawed. “You’re right.”

He led her through the slide doors and into his car. He drove down to a private guest house a few kilometres away from her office. He told her he had made reservations for them right there.

It was an exotic place. The environment was serene. Flowers adorned the drive way. A lawn tennis court occupied one side of the drive way. Just after it was a large swimming pool. A small shelter for relaxation was built beside it. The other side of the road had small hut-like shelters built with bamboo sticks for relaxation too.

Ebika took in the whole place in sheer delight. A place like this would have cost a small fortune. She said as much to Tolu, but he laughed it off. She was worth more than that, he told her. Ebika agreed too. It wasn’t wrong to be pampered this way, even if the one doing the pampering was your ex-boyfriend that you never broke up with.

Tolu guided her past the glass paned lobby. The desk clerk greeted him with a big smile. He got the key to the room he had paid for and led her there.

The room was quite exotic too. All was prim and neat. From the beautiful oil paintings on the wall, to the leather upholstery and the flat screen TV on the wall. She turned around. A fridge stood beside the king-size bed, laid with white bed sheet.

Tolu motioned for her to take her seat on the couch. She did with grace. If he saw her worthy to be brought to a place like this, then she would act the part of a well-cultured lady too.

She watched him as he made a call to room service. In a few minutes, a table was rolled into the room, and a feast was set before her. Her mouth opened in total surprise.

“Wow! Tolu. This is a lot.” She cried in delight.

He reached up a finger to her face, touching it with a feather-soft stroke. “You deserve this and more. This is what I would have given you if things hadn’t gone the way they went, but I’m here now to always give you this.” He stared at her with intense, burning eyes.

A strange sensation crept up her body as she looked at him. She swallowed the desire filling her senses quickly. Things were getting heated. What would be the state of her heart after this awesome time with Tolu? Her heart hammered in her chest. She looked away from him.

“You know how to make me feel special, Tolu. No one has done this.” She told him in a small voice.

He placed a hand under her chin and brought her face back to him. “I’ll do it always.”

No, you won’t, a voice cried within her. She is taken. She belongs to Bina.

Ebika shook off the voice. Tolu was not proposing to her, she told the voice.

“Come, let’s eat.” He said.

The fireworks that were on the verge of exploding moments ago eased as they moved to safer conversation during the meal. They shared stories of childhood birthday celebrations. She laughed easily at his jokes and stories. By the time their meal was over, they had relaxed considerably.

They moved to the shelter of the balcony with their drinks. The balcony overlooked the flowered garden in the compound. Tolu dropped a bottle of wine on the table that was placed alongside two chairs on the balcony. He pulled out a chair for her and took the other one.

He looked up at her, his intense gaze scanning her face. “I’m happy to be spending this time with you, Ebika. I don’t know what I would have done if you had rejected my invite.” He said.

Her gaze swept over his face. “Thanks for making this day very special for me. I won’t forget this in a hurry. It will be in my memory for a long time to come.”

He brushed her cheeks lightly with warm fingers. “I don’t want you to ever forget, Ebika. Let us build more memories.” His voice was very soft, pushing through the walls of her heart.

She lifted one dark swooping brow at him. “What do you mean?” She asked.

He placed his warm hand over hers that had gone cold, causing it to tingle. He looked like he was going to bear his heart to her, but then he shook his head. “Time will tell, Ebika.”

Ebika shook her head. “I don’t have time.” She told him in a tone heavy with sadness, her eyes looking into the distance.

He gave her a quizzical look. “What do you mean, Ebika?” He asked, making her turn back to him. He stared across at her.

Ebika let out a long breath. She felt her emotions brewing over like a cup of hot tea. She had to do the right thing.

“We’ve been separated for a long time, Tolu. A lot has changed between up.” She said in a tone that was just above whisper. Tolu fixed a steady gaze on her. She closed her eyes tightly and opened them gradually. She wanted the moment to pass by quickly. What if she was wrong about all that had been happening between them since they met again? What if Tolu was just being nice? He could have someone too, and was just being a good friend to her for the sake of old times. She sighed, let me just tell him, she decided within.

“Tolu, I’m engaged.” She said in a rush, staring into Tolu’s eyes to see his reaction. He seemed not to have heard her. He tilted his head to the left, a disoriented look on his face. He said nothing, just kept giving her the strange look. Worried lines etched her forehead. “Tolu.” She shook his hand. “Did you hear me?” She asked.

Only a small nod told her he was still with her. She sighed with relief. But then, why was he not talking, she wondered?

After what seem like forever, Tolu’s eyes refocused and gave her a conscious stare. “What do you mean ‘engaged’?” He asked her in a raspy tone. He downed his wine to wet his dry throat.

“I met someone else a couple of years back, and we are planning to have our introduction in three weeks.” She explained to him.

Tolu looked like she struck him. He got up from his chair and went to stand in front of the rail, his arms crossed his chest. His chest heaved up and down in quick succession. Fear moved down Ebika’s spine like tapping fingers as she watched him. He stayed that way for a while. All the time she kept wondering if she had kept her engagement to Bina too late. Guilt twisted her heart.

Tolu whirled, coming to her with burning eyes. He wrapped his fingers around her slender wrist. “Don’t leave me, Ebika.” He pleaded with her in a shaky tone.

Ebika swallowed at the intensity of his tone. “I’m right here with you, Tolu.” She replied. She was held captive by his gaze and so she found herself staring into the depth of his eyes.

He shook his head. “I love you, Ebika.” He admitted.

Laughter rippled within Ebika and rushed to the surface. She guffawed in his face. “That’s funny, Tolu.” She said, lifting her chin in disbelief. Her voice was calm, in spite of her runaway pulse.

Tolu shook her hand. “I mean it, Ebika. Meeting you again has proven that what I felt for you never died all these years. I can’t go a day without you now.”

She gaped at him as he spoke. He touched a finger to her lips. She felt heat move up her neck all the way to her hairline. It was happening for real. Tolu wanted her. If that was the case, then nothing was holding him back too. What would hold her back? Could her love for Bina stop what was building in her heart for Tolu? She listened to him as he spoke.

“I know I don’t have a good record of keeping a promise, but this is different for me, my love. I want to be with you. I feel it strongly like I felt it the first time I saw you. Just think about it, Ebika. While you do, you could put off the introduction. I want you be the one that would walk down the aisle with me.”

The walls in her heart were crumbling. She could feel it. She placed a hand over her chest as if she could stop it, but she knew she couldn’t. Tolu appealed to her a great deal. What she felt for him made her alive. She didn’t need to make her decision immediately, and there was no need for her to rush into anything with Bina. She would have this time with Tolu and make the right decision.

“Alright, Tolu.” She finally said, smiling up at him. “I’ll think about it.”

He circled her in a bear hug. “You won’t regret this, my love. Just give us this chance.”

“I will.” She said. Her words were muffled by his chest.

When he moved away from her, his eyes were happy. Gone was the deep sorrow from before. “I have something special for you.” He moved into the room and came back with a small jewellery box. He stretched it towards her. “Happy Birthday, my dear.”

She took the box from him. “Thank you.” She said.

“Open it.” he nudged.

She did. It was a gold wristwatch. She looked at the expensive wristwatch. “Wow, this is beautiful, Tolu. I will treasure this always.” She gasped in awe.

He gave his usual shrug. “You deserve the best.”

She left her chair and flew into his hands, dropping a kiss on his cheek. “Thank you.”

He wrapped her hands around her trim waist. “I’ll do more for you. Just love me.”

Sounded easy enough to Ebika. She could do this. She would only make the right choice between Bina and Tolu.

The rest of the time spent together kept tugging her heart towards someone. It wasn’t surprising that the name wasn’t that of the one whom she was engaged to.

 

Promises! Decisions! Crossroads! the web is so tangled, friends. Don’t forget to share your thoughts.

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.

Don’t forget to share! I’ll like to know what you think. Kindly share your thoughts right here or any of my social media platforms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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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