Old Flame Ep 18

Episode Eighteen

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

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

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

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

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

His smile grew wider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do the right thing, Tolu.

Do the right thing, Tolu.

Do the right thing, Tolu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really?” She inquired, eyes glowing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Old Flame EP 16

​ Hey, friends! Welcome back. In this episode, friendships hit rock bottom, loyalty is tested, someone’s heart is broken, and someone gained his “freedom”. Happy reading! 

 Episode Sixteen
The morning was not going the way he had anticipated just before leaving the house. The sun had given way to dark clouds, and thunder rumbled in the sky. It gave him a bad feeling. What if Ebika changes her mind? What if the guy goes back to beg her and she agrees? What would happen to him? The questions made him afraid. The same fear that had stopped him from calling Ebika. He kept having a gut feeling that something was wrong. As wrong as his work was going that morning. 
“Argh!” He eyed the files on his desk with displeasure. What he needed was a relief from the tension building up in him. 

He picked up his briefcase and searched for Ebika’s picture. What would be good was to frame it and put it on his desk. He smiled at that while his hand went beneath the papers in his briefcase. He didn’t feel the soft texture of the picture. He took out all the papers in his briefcase and dumped them on the already congested table. He didn’t even notice that the papers had covered what he had been working on. 

Precious minutes flew by while he searched for Ebika’s picture. What if he had left it at home? He panicked at that thought, gritting his teeth. Eladebi would find out everything. His mind went all over all that happened before he left the house that morning. His memory of that morning was still fresh so it didn’t take him long before he remembered he had hurriedly dropped the picture on the floor and quickly picked it up when Eladebi knocked on the bedroom’s door. He also remembered dropping the picture in his briefcase before leaving the house. It should be in his briefcase, but he couldn’t find it. 

His mind whirled around when he thought of Ebika’s picture getting into the wrong hands. Twin lines appeared on his forehead. Knowing that he had her pictures on his phone did not comfort his heart. The picture was a reminder of the deep love they shared in the past. A past that must be recreated to make their love story more romantic and magical. That would not be if he didn’t find the picture soon. Eladebi could even be looking at it at that moment, placing all the curses of infidelity upon him. 

“Oh no.” He exclaimed in deep frustration. His hands moved through the files on the table.

A knock sounded on the door.

He stopped mid-action and contemplated inviting whoever was knocking in. It bothered him that his secretary didn’t call to inform him that he had a visitor.

The knock sounded again.

He stood up straight, but made no move of inviting the visitor in. While he stared, the door knob turned and the door opened to reveal Christopher. Tolu gaped at him.

Christopher walked into the office with an envelope in his hands. He took in Tolu’s scattered table and his surprised face. 

“I take it you were looking for this.” Chris said, stretching the envelope.

Tolu regarded it with suspicion-filled eyes. He didn’t make to take the envelope. What’s that?” He asked.

Chris let out a dramatic sigh. “What you are looking for.” He replied, fixing cold eyes on Tolu. His usual smile was nowhere in sight.

This did not go unnoticed by Tolu. He became more wary of what the envelope contained. When he made no move to take the envelope and kept regarding it with suspicion, Chris got tired and opened the envelope. He pulled out a photograph and flashed it in Tolu’s face.

“Is this what you were looking for?” He asked with as much disgust as he could muster.

Tolu winced when he got a clear view of whose photograph it was. He heaved a sigh of relief, happy that his early thoughts about the location of the picture had been wrong: the picture was not with Eladebi but with Chris.

“Yes.” He answered, trying to match Chris’ icy tone. He crossed his arms across his chest.

Chris slammed the picture against his desk. Files jumped up and fell to the ground. Tolu jerked right where he was. His eyes mirrored his disbelief as he stared at ‘the new’ Chris.

“I’m so disappointed in you, Tolu. Why did you get yourself involved in extramarital affair?” He challenged.

Tolu shook his head like that could shake off his disbelief. “It’s not what you think, Chris.” He said, sinking into his chair.

Chris stood menacingly above him. “It’s not what I think, yet you have disrespected your wife so much. You have mistreated that poor woman. All for what, temporary pleasure? Think, my friend! Think, Tolu.”

Hot flash of anger rolled across Tolu’s face. He leaned forward, gripping the arms of the chair.  “You have no right to judge me. You are not in my heart and you don’t know what I feel in my heart. If you think you are a saint, good for you. I am not, and I will leave my life as it pleases my heart. You have no right to question me.”

The venom in Tolu’s tone caused Chris to back away from him. He couldn’t believe his ears. He just stood looking at Him. Tolu returned his stare, and a staring match ensued. Tolu looked away first, looking uncomfortable.

Chris heaved a sigh. “I don’t know where that came from, Tolu. I just want the best for you and your family.” He stated in a reconciliatory tone.

Tolu didn’t buy it. His face twisted in a frown. “I appreciate what you think you’re doing, but I don’t want you interfering in my family’s issue again.” Tolu emphasized family. He placed a hand on his chest. “What I feel right here is what is best for me and my family.” He picked up Ebika’s picture that Chris dropped on the table. “If you don’t mind, I’ll like to be alone now.”

Chris stood rooted to the ground, looking at Tolu like he had grown horns. Tolu lost interest in him and focused on Ebika’s picture. 

Few minutes passed. 

Tolu heard his door opened and closed. Chris was gone. He released the breath he had been holding.  Just as his taut muscles were relaxing from his confrontation with Chris, anger rushed through his body. 

Eladebi was going to get it from him when he got home.

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

Ebika was bent on evading questions from Doubara concerning her break up with Bina. They stood in Ebika’s room, facing each other. Doubara hadn’t stopped badgering her with questions since she got to the house half an hour ago. Ebika cursed Bina over and over again in her heart for running his mouth as she listened to yet another question from Doubara.

“Ebika, come out straight with me. What exactly made you break up with Bina and please don’t give me that ‘we’re-not-compatible’ story?” Doubara asked, fixing Ebika with serious eyes. 

Ebika rolled her eyes in a ‘here-we-go-again’ fashion. She dropped on her bed. “I told you already, Doubara. My heart has really drifted away from Bina. We can’t keep going on.” She responded, letting out a lazy yawn.

Doubara shook her head. “Ebika, why? Why would you do this to Bina? The guy was true to you. He loved you and gave his heart. Is this how you want to pay him back?” She challenged Ebika.

Ebika jumped up suddenly and stood in front of Doubara. She placed her hands on her waist. “You know what, Doubara, I am tired of hearing this. Bina this, Bina that. If you think he’s so good, why don’t you date him?” She countered in a tone heavy with sarcasm.

Doubara gasped, the colour draining from her face. Words got stuck in her throat. She had no response for Ebika.

Ebika continued. “That’s right, Doubara, go ahead and keep ‘Bina the awesome guy’ for yourself. I don’t even need his love anymore. I have someone else in my life now.” She flaunted arrogantly.

Doubara’s head bobbled up and down in understanding. “So you admit it now.” A wry smile played on her lips. “You finally admit that you left Bina because of that boyfriend from the past. Ebika, I hope you don’t regret this at the end. I’m happy for Bina though. God exposed your fair-weather love before he made a huge mistake.”

Ebika’s face lit up in anger. It didn’t stop Doubara from finishing what she had to say. “Let me leave you to your fantasies. I’ll cross my finger and wait for when you will wake up to reality. I just hope it won’t be harsh on you. Goodbye, Ebika.”  She walked briskly out of the room.

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

Tolu didn’t waste any time in his car as he had done often since he found Ebika. Today he had things to settle with Eladebi. He marched towards his house in purposeful strides. When Eladebi rushed to meet him at the door, he grabbed her arm and pulled her inside.

“Ouch!” She exclaimed in pain. “What is wrong, my love?” She questioned.

He dropped his suitcase and pulled Eladebi in front of him. “Where are the children?” He asked through gritted teeth. Their reaction to him the other day was still fresh in his memory. He would not want them to witness another unpleasant scene.

“They are playing games in the room.” She answered, forcing a smile.

Tolu was not moved by her smile. His mind was already set on what to do. “It’s good they’re engaged. I can address what I want to address without a guilt trip from them.”

Eladebi raised questioning eyes to him. Beneath the question hid her fear. He couldn’t see it though. 

“I’m tired of this farce we call a marriage, Eladebi. I’ve had it up to here with you.” He fired at her, putting to his neck. “I don’t even know how I ended up with you.”

Eladebi swallowed her shock. She shook it off her and tried to appease her angry husband. “My love, my husband, I don’t know what you are talking about. If I have done anything, I’m sorry.” She went on her kneels.

He drew close to her and shoved her to the ground, anger burning like hot coals in his eyes. “You are a worthless wife. What have you contributed to my life since I married you?” He demanded. Eladebi made to speak but he shut her up. “Shut up, woman! What do you have to say? You stay in my house, eat my food, wear the clothes and jewelleries you purchase with my own money, yet you can’t even try to be a good wife.”

Eladebi pushed herself up from the floor. Her eyes blazed with her own anger. “I’m really getting tired of this, Tolu. What have I not done as a wife to please you, yet you are not satisfied. I have also had it up to here with you.” She imitated his earlier gesture when he said the same thing to her.

Tolu clapped his hands, his mouth curving in a sneery smile. “I can see you have grown wings. Eladebi, you can now open your mouth and talk back at me right?” He said in a tone devoid of emotion.

Eladebi eyed him. “Don’t play the victim, Tolu. You know what you are doing.” She hissed. “You accused me now of not contributing anything to you, but when I said I wanted to work, to build a career, you stood firmly against it. Even Christopher could not convince you. You shouldn’t even bring that up right now. If there is something else, lay it bare. I’m tired of walking around on eggshells. I’m tired of my children asking me why their daddy is acting the way he is. I’m tired of the loneliness that permeates my soul regularly. I want to be happy.” A tear rolled down her cheek. She made no attempt to rub it off.  Another tear rolled down. 

Her tears did nothing to Tolu’s hardened heart. His state of mind could rival Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness towards the Israelites. He cast a hateful glance over Eladebi and poured out more hurtful words. “It’s good you are tired because I’m also tired of this loveless marriage. I don’t love you anymore. I’m tired of you running to Christopher with all our family problems. You can’t shut up and build your home. I wonder if you have not even told him when last we got intimate. I don’t want a basket-mouth for a wife. Get out of my life, Eladebi! I don’t want you anymore.” Tolu bellowed.

Eladebi broke into a loud sob. She came forward and knelt before him, wrapping her arms around his calves. “No, my husband, don’t say that. Please, let’s work things out.” She pleaded amidst her tears.

Tolu bent down and grabbed her shoulders firmly. “It’s over, Eladebi. Get out of my house!” He kicked her then.

She rolled back in pains. “What about our children?” She gasped, pressing her hands to her left side where Tolu’s leg connected with her body.

Tolu turned away from her. “Take them with you. When I’m over the damage you have done to me, I’ll come for them. For now, I don’t want to see you or the children.”

He walked out of the house. Eladebi’s tears of anguish traced his steps. He didn’t look back. 

Thanks for reading. I love to know what you think about Old flame. Please share your thoughts. It encourages me. Till next week, keep reading. Question of the week will come up on the 11th of September. Stay tuned! If you don’t know what it’s about, read up the post in Alert. 

Old Flame EP 15

Episode Fifteen

The weather was in agreement with his mood. A slice of sun peeked through the thick curtains. The brightness boosted Tolu’s positive outlook. He would not go through the day depressed as he had done for the past few days since Ebika told him of her introduction. Ebika was free. Ebika’s love was all for him. 

He looked through the suits in the wardrobe. His eyes settled on his navy blue suit. He pulled it off the hanger. He dropped it on the bed and picked out a small box that held his gold tie and cufflinks. He must look his best on the first day he was meeting Ebika as a single woman since they met again. His wife’s face floated into his mind. 

‘Eladebi.’ He called out softly. ‘Eladebi.’ He repeated again. He rested his head against the wardrobe. ‘My children.’ He held his head in his hands. Again he questioned the rightness of what he was doing. His heart beat a steady rhythm of guilt. How could he do such heartless thing to Eladebi? He pondered.

“I can’t help what I feel for Ebika!” He screamed into the silent room. He pushed away from the wardrobe, balled his right fist and banged it against the door of the wardrobe. “My heart only yearns for Ebika now. I do no wrong to Eladebi. I just need to be with Ebika.”

He repeated this a couple of times, took a deep breath and continued his preparation for work. He however lost his earlier glee. He dressed up quietly and took his briefcase. He sat on the bed and placed the briefcase on his laps. He popped open the lock and lifted some papers. Just below the papers, he took out what had prompted him to open the briefcase in the first place.

Ebika’s picture.

The picture he had carried everywhere since they met again and rediscovered their love and passion. He looked at her smiling face.

“You’re worth it, Ebika. I’ll give all up just for you.” He brought the picture close to his face and placed his roundly-shaped lips on the picture. “I love you, my heart: just you.”

A knock sounded on the door, causing him to jump. The picture fell from his hand. He scrambled to pick it up and dropped it back into his briefcase along with the papers he had removed before.

“Who is there?” He called in an angry tone.

“Good morning, my love.” Eladebi answered in a cheerful voice from the other side of the door.

“What do you want?” He demanded, all traces of affection from moments ago gone. 

“Well, I wanted to tell you that your food is ready.” She told him.

Tolu imagined her cheery face standing right outside the door beaming with smiles, sounding so sweet and innocent. And she was indeed sweet and innocent. He shook his head. Ebika was sweeter than Eladebi. He would stick to Ebika’s sweetness, beauty and intelligence.

“Just go. I’ll be right out.” He told her, picking up his suit again. He sighed with relief when he heard her departing footsteps. The earlier he sent her away, the better for his heart and his conscience.

He cast a glance at his wristwatch. “Whew!”  He had spent more time than he expected. He had an appointment with Chris. He dressed quickly after that, but he still took his time to oil his hair and style it just the way Ebika liked it.

On his way out of the living room, Eladebi stopped him, bearing a tray with a ceramic kettle, a tea cup and two pieces of toast.

“Your breakfast is ready, my love.” She informed him with a bright smile.

Tolu’s face twisted with frustration. When would she get it? When would she understand that I don’t want her again? He cried within. He stepped away from her without saying a word.

“Honey, your breakfast,” She called to him in that cheerful voice again.

He snapped. He turned to her with a menacing look. He grabbed the kettle from the tray and sent the content spilling in her direction. She jumped away at the last minute avoiding what would have been a disaster sending the tray, along with the teacup, spoon and toast crashing on the floor. His children ran out of the room at the loud banging.

“Mummy!” They both cried, holding on to her.

Tolu noticed they didn’t come near him. They clung to their mum and all three raised fearful eyes to him. He suddenly felt like the devil himself. With a loud groan, he staggered out of the house.

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

Ebika’s eyes rested on the wall clock in the living room. Bina was waiting for an answer. What would see tell him? She looked into her plate of boiled yam and fried egg with no appetite at all. She wasn’t even in the mood to go to work. Was it really goodbye with Bina? 

A hand rested on her entwined fingers on the table. Ebika jerked back. She looked up into the eyes of her cousin.

“What’s the problem, Ebika?” Douye asked, sliding into a chair opposite Ebika on the dining table.

Ebika looked away. “You startled me, Douye.” She replied.

Douye smiled. “You never complained in time past. You enjoy my creepy moves.” She teased, stretching her hand to touch Ebika’s cheeks.

Ebika dodged away from her touch. “I’m not in the mood, Douye.”

“You don’t have to tell me that.” Douye sneered. “It’s so obvious. Even the poor yam and egg on your plate knows that.” She forked a piece of yam and sent it to her mouth. “What exactly is wrong, Coz?” She quizzed again mouthful.

Ebika regarded her with distaste. “Maybe you should finish with your food first.” She said with barely concealed sarcasm.

Douye nodded and rushed through her food. All the time, Ebika thought of her predicament. Had she done the right thing by sending Tolu a message so quickly without any consideration? Should she tell Bina? She nibbled on her bottom lip.

“Done!” Douye said, letting out a belch.

Despite Ebika’s reservation, Douye had to know. After all, she was all Ebika had left. Doubara would never listen to what she had to say about Tolu and Bina. Letting go every queasiness about Douye, Ebika opened up.

“I broke up with Bina… or I think I want to break up with Bina.” She admitted, shaking her head in confusion.

Douye gulped down water from a glass before responding. “You think or you have?” She asked.

Ebika pushed back from the table. “I’m confused, Douye.”

“What is confusing you?” 

“I want to be with Tolu, but I’m not sure. I feel like I’m rushing things.” She explained, chewing on her lower lip.

Douye sat up straight, pulling on a serious face. “You are right to want to be with Tolu, Ebika. You are not rushing things. After all, you’ve known him before now.” 

Ebika stood up and placed her hands on the back of the chair. “But I’ve known Bina too.” She countered.

“That didn’t stop you from loving Tolu, did it? If your heart responded to Tolu, it’s because you allowed it. You did it because it is right. You feel right with him.” Douye went to stand beside her. “Your heart has drifted away from Bina. Don’t force it anymore. If your heart has chosen Tolu, it’s only fair that you let Bina go.” Douye touched her shoulder lightly and left her alone.

Ebika closed her eyes tight. She wanted to accept Douye’s advice, but something fought it within her. Yes, her heart has chosen Tolu, but why can’t it be happy with her choice? She shook her head. Better to follow her heart and that’s to choose Tolu. It was time to let go of Bina. She wasn’t the one for him. Destiny did not have both of them in its plan. Destiny had chosen Tolu from the onset, so despite the separation, they still found the way back to each other. No need to go against destiny. If she had no courage to face Bina, then her text message would do the work. She picked her phone from the table and unlocked it. Time to end it all with Bina and move on with whom her heart, and of course Destiny, had chosen for her.

****************
The content of Ebika’s message didn’t surprise Bina. He shuffled his phone back into his pocket. He had been expecting it for hours since dawn. Something in him prepared him for the break. Even if a little part of him still wanted to work things out. Well, her message had put an end to that hope in him. The words from the message kept replaying in his heart. ‘I’m sorry, Bina. We can’t continue with our relationship. My heart has drifted away from you. I don’t want to keep deceiving myself and you. Your lady is out there. She’s just not me. I wish you the best with her.’ 

He waited for pain to seep through his heart, but felt nothing. All he felt was sadness. Sadness that everything with Ebika ended the way it did. He felt sad for the energy put into their relationship; the emotions, the plans, all gone down the drain. He rubbed his shaved head. He still could not figure out when she stopped loving him. He would never know. If his heart had not been preparing him for this moment, he would have been completely shattered. It would just take time to put a closure to everything he shared with Ebika. People would find out soon enough that they were no longer together. Better to start telling them by himself. The first person on his mind was Doubara. 

And Bina knows his stand now. Do you think he should fight for Ebika’s love? Or should he just let go? 

Old Flame EP 13

​And the story continues…. Ebika and Tolu. 

Episode Thirteen

It was time to pour out her heart to her husband. The silence in the house was killing her, and she couldn’t take it anymore. Tolu had kept his distance for days and for the life of her she couldn’t tell why. She had to know now that the children were away in school.

Eladebi dropped the melon seeds she was shedding on the kitchen counter. She moved to the sink and looked out of the window. The vegetables in her garden were sprouting, but that was not what was on her mind. Thoughts of her crumbling marriage filled her mind. Things seemed to have deteriorated between Tolu and her. He barely tolerated her during meals. Her attempts her conversations were met with monosyllabic responses. After meals they stayed apart. His phone was fast becoming his everything. His children didn’t excite him anymore. He rarely played with them. It was almost like he was avoiding them all. Laughter, as well as love, seemed to have departed their own.

“Dear Lord, where did I go wrong?” She lamented. “Are you still punishing me for defiling the bed?” She shook her head. Sorrow marked her face like a carved wood. “You know I have been a good wife. I have loved Tolu with all my heart, even when he makes me so angry. Times when loving him was difficult, I have kept his love in my heart. Lord, it’s getting harder by the day. I am at my wits end. I can’t continue like this.” Tears pooled in her eyes. She pressed her fingers to her lips to stop her tears. “I need you, Lord.” 

‘My grace is sufficient for you.’

The reminder from the word of God swept through her heart. Her breath caught at how fast she remembered the scripture she had read that morning during her devotion. While she had just read it as part of her daily Bible reading, it made more meaning to her now. God’s grace was sufficient for her, even in the turbulence her marriage was becoming. God’s grace was sufficient even as she made up her mind to talk to Tolu.

She heaved a deep sigh and moved to the bedroom. The room that she had been spending time alone as her husband spent more and more nights in his study.

Tolu didn’t look up from his phone when she entered. She stood before him and waited to be noticed. He kept his eyes glued to his phone. She got tired and spoke up.

“Darling…” She called softly.

He said nothing.

“Darling” She repeated.

Silence.

She gave up and moved closer to him on the bed. When he seemed not to notice her, she touched his shoulder. All of a sudden, a slap landed on her left cheek. She fell backwards, mouth opened in shock. Tolu stood over her.

“Don’t you ever disturb me when I don’t want to be disturbed.” He spat at her, his face twisted with fury.

No words came out of her shocked lips. She just stayed right there on the floor looking at her husband like he had become someone else. In truth, he was someone else, for in all their numerous disagreements, he had never raised his hand to hit her before.

“Get up at once and leave this room! Don’t show your annoying face here until I invite you.” He snarled.

With a heart wrenching sob Eladebi got up from the floor and ran to the kitchen. She fell against the counter when she got there. Her world was crashing. The storm that was brewing was just a disguise. What was happening in her marriage was a tsunami. 

Eladebi’s heart shattered in pieces within her. The pain was excruciating. 

“Oh Lord, help me! Help my troubled heart.” She wept.

‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’

She straightened as the words from the Bible settled in her heart. It wasn’t one she read. It was from her pastor’s message the previous Sunday. 

How long would she endure? How long would she bear? Her human heart had no answer.
Tolu stood in the middle of the bedroom watching the door, arms akimbo. What had he just done? His beating heart told the story of his reaction. He had raised his hand against Eladebi. Eladebi, his wife and the mother of his children. What possessed him? He wondered.

The truth was glaring at him.

 He was possessed by Ebika’s love. He would do anything to keep her love, even if it meant hitting the woman who had given him her all. He winced at such thought. He wasn’t wrong, was he? Ebika’s love was worth it. With this new line of thought, his weak limbs regained strength and carried him back to the bed. He threw his left leg across the bed while the right remained on the floor. He forced a smile through his hardened lips. He had set in motion his plans to chase Eladebi out of his life. He wouldn’t back down. Her departure would make way for Ebika’s arrival. 

Ebika, the love of his life. The one who gave him joy. The one who made his made his world complete. He would give anything for her.

The only grey spot in his bright sky was her fiancé. His lip set in a hard line again. That man can never have my Ebika, he growled, nostrils flaring. She would be mine and no one else.

He picked up his phone and scrolled through his new messages on whatsapp. Ebika’s message was among. The message he had been unable to read because of Eladebi’s intrusion. Now he read it with great pleasure. She had promised to call everything off with her fiancé in a couple of days after which she would be free to be with him.

He read the message over and over again. It was the best news he had received so far. It made him forget what he had done to his wife. All he had to do was to use the time Ebika had given him to also push Eladebi out of his life and wait for Ebika’s green light.

He was certain Ebika would give him a positive answer.
*****************

Ebika clasped and unclasped her trembling fingers. She pressed them against her thighs to still the trembling. Her eyes rested on her phone on the table before her in the cafeteria. She had tried reaching Bina all through yesterday to break the news to him in person, but that had been impossible. Each time she picked up her phone to dial his number, her courage failed her. Doubt plagued her as she turned her hasty promise to Tolu over in her mind. The ‘what ifs’ kept her from calling Bina. It was the same doubt that kept her from reaching Bina now.

Tolu had asked for progress report during their chat the night before. She had nothing to tell him. He had spent up to fifteen minutes pleading with her to call off her introduction with Bina. The question on her heart however was if she was ready to call things off with Bina. 

She desperately needed someone to talk to. Her eyes moved around the busy cafeteria, resting on the ladies in groups enjoying a good meal and company. Laughter filled the air. People were relaxed, having. She was the only one alone and with no appetite. She truly had no close friends among her colleagues. She loved her privacy while she ate. That had made it difficult to keep close friends. It hadn’t really bothered her in time past when all was good and well with her, but she didn’t feel so anymore. What she would give to have good friends around her now, advising her. 

She heaved a sad sigh, shoulders drooping. Doubara was her best friend, but she couldn’t discuss her predicament with her. She already knew what Doubara would tell her. She didn’t want a one-sided advice. Same reason she didn’t talk to Douye. She needed someone who would consider both sides of the coin before concluding.

 “Oh, what do I do?” She scratched her hair. She was already regretting her new hairdo. The crotchet weave was killing her, but it was the least of her worry. Her mind was drifting from Bina to Tolu and Tolu to Bina. She had had very good times with Bina, even though her heart now favoured Tolu and wouldn’t recall her time with Bina. 

What if she gives Bina reasons why they should call off the introduction for a while without making it sound final? She sat up straight at this thought, light shining in her eyes. She could keep Bina in the pipeline while she figured out Tolu’s plans for her. She snapped her fingers. The pieces had finally fallen in the right places. No more worries. 

Whew! Thank you, Lord, for wisdom. She smiled. Having settled that, her appetite came back with full force. Telling Bina to hold on for a while was much easier to tackle than calling things off with him. It could still happen in the future if all went well with Tolu, but she didn’t have to consider that at the moment. Right now, she was at the top of her game and she would keep it that way. Her new slogan was live, love, spend Tolu’s money and be happy. She giggled as she went to order her lunch. 

Episode question: Do you agree that people fall out of love even after all promises and progress made in a relationship?

Old Flame EP 12

Something big happened in this episode. Find out what. Happy reading!

Episode Twelve
Something was off with Ebika. This thought laid like a heavy burden on his chest as he watched her across the table. He knew it wasn’t her new hairdo that made him feel this way. Her provocative hairdo was a surprise, but it didn’t give him so much concern. It was more of the I-don’t-care posture she assumed since they got to the restaurant to discuss their forthcoming introduction. 

Her interest had been more on her phone than on the budget she placed before him for them to peruse together. His eyes scanned her face, but she took no notice of his intense look. Her lips curved into a wide smile as her fingers flew across her phone’s keyboard. Warning bells jingled loudly in his head.

Could she still be angry because of her birthday gift? Worried thoughts made his heart their dwelling place while Ebika spent the next couple of minutes typing on her phone. 

He cleared his throat to draw her attention. She didn’t look up. She kept on typing. It was almost like she had forgotten she was with him in the restaurant. He could as well have been invisible. Whatsoever was off with her must be put back in order. 

He cleared his throat more loudly. She looked up at him with a slight frown. Her eyes were impatient as they glared at him. He tried not to let her look bother him. He delved into the reason why he had invited her to a restaurant on his first off day of the week.

“Ebika, you seem to have forgotten why we are here.” He told her, trying not to grit his teeth in disapproval.

She huffed. “What do you mean, Bina?” She challenged, eyes spitting fire. “You asked me to come with the budget I drew, and I’m here with it. Do you want me to go over each item with you?” She stopped short of snapping at him.

Bina’s mouth opened and closed at her harsh tone. The sound of the warning bells that started earlier grew louder. Ebika’s eyes left his and went back to her phone. He clenched his teeth in anger.

“Ebika,” he said, reigning his anger. “Don’t you think you should focus on the reason why we are? You seem more interested in your phone than in plans for our forthcoming introduction.”

She placed her phone carefully on the table and faced him. “What do you want us to talk about?” She quizzed in a tone heavy with sarcasm.

Bina sighed. If he wanted to get things in order then he would not take the bait she was throwing at him. He would keep his anger in place no matter what. Although that had been difficult for a while now. Ebika had gotten him so angry in such a short time as opposed the-once-in-a-while disagreement they had in the past. It was the roughest time of their relationship so far. He still had no answer for the tension that was building between them. He rubbed his jaw. His hand brushed a roughened jaw. He sighed. Ebika seemed to take more and more of his mind lately, and it wasn’t because of positive things.

Time to settle it all. His face softened with a smile. “Ebika, it’s okay. Let’s not argue.” He said in a reconciliatory tone.

Her face lost some of its antagonism. “I’m not arguing with you, Bina.”

“Fine. Let’s just talk about our introduction.” He fingered the piece of paper on the table. “Thank you for taking your time to prepare the budget. I just have an observation.” He stated.

She cast him a suspicious glance. “What is that?”

“The budget is way more than we can afford. I think you should reduce it. I mean this is just our introduction. We should make it small.” He said.

Her expression hardened. “How small are we talking about, Bina?”

Bina shifted in the cushion chair he was seating on. “Just a small gathering, Ebika. I don’t want us to spend so much on the introduction.” He reasoned.

“I don’t know why you keep using ‘we’, ‘us’. This is your responsibility, Bina, and you should shoulder it like a man.” She stuck her nose in the air.

Surprise crossed Bina’s face. His mouth snapped shut. How was it possible that Ebika had made so much change in just two weeks? What happened to her we-are-in-it-together song?

“Don’t look so surprised, Bina. It’s the right thing for you to do. You are the man. Besides, I have spent what I planned for this introduction on my family issues. If you were supporting me enough as my fiancé, then I would have enough to put down now.” She told him in a nonchalant tone. She picked up her phone and started scrolling.

Bina rested his back against the chair, gawking at Ebika. She refused to meet his eyes. His mind was boiling –with confusion and anger. Anger was winning the battle. It rose to the top within him. 

“If this is the way you feel, maybe we should not bother then.” He said in an icy-chilled tone.

Ebika’s eyes flickered. Bina noticed it. Fresh emotions flooded his heart. This time he recognized doubt and fear. For a moment he had seen the flicker of joy in Ebika’s eyes, even though it went away immediately. Could it be that she wanted out? He pondered within. No, he shook himself. He waited for her to respond. No need to draw his own conclusions.

“Has it gotten to that level?” She asked him. Her tone matching his.

He gave a shrug in response. “The budget is high and I can’t afford it.” He copied her earlier nonchalant tone.

They both regarded each other in silence, each with his own thought. At the end it was Ebika who gave in.

“Fine. I’ll see what I can do to the budget. We can’t just take a rash decision because of a trivial issue.” She forced a smile. “We’re fine, Bina.”

He doubted her. “Are you sure?” He asked, casting a worried look at her.

“Yeah, sure.” She said in a dismissive tone.

He handed the budget over to her. She collected it and kept it in her purse. 

“Don’t scare me like that again, Ebika.” He touched her hand lightly across the table.

She pulled it away gently. Again, she didn’t look at him. “All is well.”

“Thank you.”

Having settled that, they both spent the next few minutes going over other plans regarding the introduction. Ebika’s lack of enthusiasm did not pass Bina. He read it all from her responses. By the time they both entered his car, he was certain something big was coming –and it wasn’t a good thing.

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

Ebika broke down in tears the moment she got into her room. She clang to her pillow and wept into it. Things were going bad. When did I become like this? She wept. Why is my heart torn between Bina and Tolu? Who is the one for me, Oh Lord? 

She flung the pillow across the room and pulled off the bed sheet from the bed. She screamed into it. It is not my fault that Bina’s love is dying in my heart. I can’t help it.

‘Are you sure you can’t help it?’ she heard the question in her heart.

She swiped her tears on the bed sheet. I can’t. she screamed with all confidence. Bina is not what I thought he was. He doesn’t dress well. He is not romantic. He doesn’t even have a good car. He can’t give me good gifts. How many times have I heard that what is not done outside marriage won’t be done in marriage? God must have me in mind for bringing Tolu my way. 

She sat up straight as that thought settled in her heart. It made sense. Otherwise why would Tolu come back into her life just before she committed her future to Bina?

‘Are you sure God has a hand in this?’

Yet another question. It also got her thinking. She knelt beside her bed, hands clasped together and head bowed.

“Oh Lord, please hear my cry and help my heart. I am caught between two roads and …” A loud sound from her phone cut short her prayer. She eyed it with uncertainty. The call soon ended when she made no move to answer it. She took her prayer stance again. Before she could get any word out, her phone started ringing again. She threw her hands up and picked it. A smile broke through her sad lips when she saw the caller ID. She pressed the answer button.

“Hello.” She said, trying to force down her sudden excitement.

“Hello, the queen of my heart. Are you home now?” Tolu’s deep and attractive voice floated across the line. It was like music to her ears.

“Yes.” She said, taking a sitting position on the floor beside her bed. She curled her toes.

“I miss you so much, my love. I wish I could see you every moment of the day.” He said. His tone growing intense.

“Well, we can’t help being apart. We have our separate lives.” She replied, injecting flattery into her words.

Tolu growled. “ I really want to put an end to our separate lives. It’s time we have one.”

“How?” Ebika quizzed, eyes dancing in pleasure.

“Call off your introduction, darling. Please I beg you. Just give me a couple of weeks and I’ll straighten everything between us.”

She swallowed. This was her opportunity right. This was what her heart had been yearning for ever since her reunion with Tolu. Ever since he awoken her deep love for him. Her heart thumped ever so slightly as her answer came to her.

“Darling, are you still there?” 

“Yes.” She quickly answered, then she took a deep breath before giving her final answer. “I’ll call off the introduction, Tolu. Let’s work things out between us.”

“Yes! Yes!” Tolu squeaked in delight. “This is the best news ever. Oh my God! I wish we were together right now, Ebika. I would have given you the biggest kiss ever.”

Warmth flooded her heart. “Oh, there would always be time.” She teased.

“Really? I will take you up on that, Ebika.”

“You’re free to.” 

“Thank you, my love. You won’t regret this.” He assured her.

“No, I won’t.” She answered with the same assurance.

When the call ended, her excitement fizzled out as she thought of how to break the news to Bina. What would he do when she would tell him to call off the introduction? She would never know until she faced him. Facing him was her biggest challenge.

 Did Ebika make the right decision? Hmmm… 

Old Flame EP 11

​Welcome back! Twas a busy week for me. Sorry for keeping you waiting. Enjoy Episode 11.Happy reading! Don’t forget to share your thoughts.

  1. Episode Eleven

Tolu sat in his car right in his driveway. He couldn’t muster the strength to get down from the car and face his wife. She didn’t deserve his rejection, but he couldn’t stop his heart. Falling out of love with her was no fault of his. His heart just seem to favour someone else. She would eventually forgive him. 

He loved Ebika and couldn’t do without her now.  He couldn’t allow her go with someone else. He was certain of her love too. But his life was complicated. He had not told Ebika about Eladebi. She would definitely walk out of his life once she found out he had a wife and children. Nothing would stop her then.

He hit the steering wheel lightly, groaning in frustration. What was he going to do? He couldn’t just wake up and send Eladebi and the children away? He’d just call her and tell her the truth. That would be better.

This new line of thought brought a shimmer of hope to his eyes. Eladebi would understand. She had always been like that from the beginning: very understanding and supportive. She would never force herself on a man. Just like she never blamed him for what happened back then. She never forced him to marry her because of the baby, but his conscience had not allowed him do that to her when he knew he had more blame in their mistake. If he hadn’t teased her about taking alcohol, she would have gone home that night with her purity. But he had teased her ceaselessly about being a baby. She wanted to prove herself that she was matured enough, and she had downed three bottles of alcohol. Well, they both ended up where they shouldn’t have.

He ran his fingers through his head. He should have known better. He should have stopped her. He hadn’t. He had to use her to exorcise Ebika’s ghost in his head. It was never love that took him to Eladebi. He wanted to know if he could be with another woman. He wanted to prove his friends wrong. He wanted them to know he wasn’t scared of women. 

The answer hadn’t been what he had expected. He hadn’t fallen heads over heels in love with Eladebi after that. In fact, he had distanced himself from her after their intimacy. He only went back to her when her pregnancy became an open secret. 

Five years after, the ghost of Ebika was much more alive in him. Eladebi had not succeeded in taking her place. He would keep it like that. He would love Ebika the way he loved her back then, and even more. His heart belonged to her forever.

He released a deep sigh, looking towards his house. Eladebi must have been wondering what was keeping him so long after driving into the compound because she came out of the house and walked towards him. Her face reflected her concern.

He watched her closely. She wasn’t as tall as Ebika or as slender, yet she had that classic face that spoke of strong bone structure. She wasn’t as feminine as Ebika or as soft, but she possessed a beauty that came from the heart and made her otherwise ordinary face, pretty. She still had the gait in her walking steps. He liked the way she always carried herself back then. Be it a gown or a skirt, or a native attire, Eladebi stood out. 

He got out of the car as she came close. The evening sun did her justice, as it cascaded over her fair skin like a soft spotlight. He saw her smile, but he didn’t return it. He couldn’t allow his heart to be confused. He wanted Ebika firmly rooted in his heart. Eladebi would just have to move out now that he had made up his mind that he wanted Ebika forever.

She gave him a light hug when she got to him. “My love, you’re welcome.” She said, smiling up at him. 

“Thank you.” He replied, somewhat stiffly. He turned away from her and made a show of locking the car. She waited, and when he turned to her, she collected his briefcase.

“I got worried when you stayed back here. I had to come and check on you.” She said, her voice filled with concern. “I’m happy you’re fine. How was your day?” She asked, wrapping her free arm around his waist.

He looked into her eyes and saw all her love for him shining through. He turned away from it like it was the plague. No, I don’t want her love.

“My day was fine.” He answered in a gruff tone. “Let’s go inside.”

She tucked her arm around his as they walked the short distance to the house, all the while she talked about the children and the fun things they had done that day. It hurt him a little that he was getting far away from his children too. He used to love doing fun things with them. Well, a time will come when he could have them around him and do fun things with them and his children with Ebika.

For now, he’d spend the evening building his case against Eladebi. This was one battle he had to win if he wanted to live long.
**************
Bina was waiting for her in the living room when she stepped into the house. He looked up at her with a smile when she walked in. 

“Happy Birthday, Ebika.” He said, getting up from the couch he was sitting opposite Douye. He came forward and gave her a side hug. 

Douye stifled her laughter when she saw the anger in Ebika’s eyes. She allowed a beguiling grin instead, watching the drama before her.

“Thank you.” Ebika answered, tight-lipped. She crossed her chest with her arms.

Bina put his arms in his pockets. “Where have you been?” He asked.

She pushed past him and plopped into a seat. “Working.” She answered. The lie rolled off her lips easily. She didn’t even stop to think about it, neither did she feel the warning in her heart. Lying was becoming a second nature to her where her love life was concerned. It was just unfortunate Bina was the one she lied to often.

Bina sat down too. “I would have been here earlier but I got delayed.” 

She shrugged in response, giving him an uninterested look.

“I bet you enjoyed your day.” 

Her lips turned up in a smile. Thoughts of her time with Tolu filled her mind. “Oh yes, I did.” She answered in a dreamy tone.

 Douye coughed, forcing the smile off her face. She looked at Bina. “Everyone at work made my day special.” She said carefully.

Bina propped his hands on his thighs. “I’m happy to hear that. By your next birthday, we would be married.” He said. 

Ebika lifted her eyebrows. Married? The word sounded like a trap to her. “Maybe.” She muttered under her breath. 

“What did you say?” Bina asked.

She opened her mouth to speak, but Douye closed her fingers around her flesh, pinching her lightly. Ebika’s eyes flew to her, but she looked away. She rubbed where Douye had pinched. “I didn’t say anything, Bina.” She looked at the clock in the living room.” It is late.” She said subtly.

Bina got her message. He straightened. “I should be on my way now. I couldn’t go home without coming over to wish you a happy birthday. The phone call wasn’t enough.” He rubbed his palms on his jean trousers. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

Ebika watched him like he had grown horns. Before she could stop herself she asked, “Where is my birthday gift, Bina?”

Bina winced, scratching the day-old beard on his chin. “I couldn’t get anything, since I didn’t know what you’ll like.”

Hot anger flashed in Ebika’s eyes like an angry volcano. “You don’t know what I’ll like. Did you call to ask me what I want?” She fired at him.

He rubbed his palms together. “Ebika…”

She raised her hand to stop his defence. “I’m really tired of this your attitude. This is the third birthday I’m celebrating, and yet you don’t know what I like. Last year, you gave me “Woman, thou art Loosed” by T.D. Jakes as my birthday Gift, and that was after four days had passed. The first year, it was a miserable #400 recharge card. This year, you came here empty-handed to tell me you didn’t know what I’ll like. This is the funniest thing I’ve heard this year.” 

Bina was silent. He just looked at her. She grabbed her bag from the couch and got up. “Good night, Bina.” 

He placed an arm around hers to stop her. “Ebika, I’m sorry. I’ll do something about it.”

“Don’t bother. It’s too late for apologises.” She said, anger colouring her words.

He dropped his hands. “Even at that, I’ll do something. I don’t want us to part on this note.” He pleaded.

She let out a breath after a while. “Fine. I’ll get over it. Good night.”

“Thank you.” He said. “Good night, Douye.” He turned to her cousin.

Douye’s eyes danced with mischief. “Good night.”

Ebika walked him to the door. When she returned, Douye gave her the same mischievous smile. 

“Don’t even say anything.” Ebika shut her up. “I’m not in the mood.” She marched past her.

Douye raised her hands in mock surrender. “I mean no harm, Coz.” She said.

“I don’t care.” Ebika threw over her shoulders as she made her way to the room.

In the room, she wondered again if staying with Bina was worth it. Tolu came at the nick of time to save her from his stingy arms. Her introduction would be put on hold, she decided as she shrugged off her dress. She folded it neatly and dropped it on the bed. She would not rush into anything with Bina. If after years of courting he still did not know the gift to give her on her birthday, then she better think twice before agreeing to walk down the aisle with him. She didn’t need a prophet to tell her that. She was her own prophet, and she could tell that her relationship with Bina needed serious evaluation.

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.