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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Old Flame Ep 19

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

Episode Nineteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebika’s smile slipped.

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

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

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

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

And what about Doubara?

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

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

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

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

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

“What happened?” Douye asked, coughing too.

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

“What happened?” Douye asked again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Douye gaped at her. She could not say anything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Google images

Old Flame Ep 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 14

Welcome, friends! Happy reading!

Episode Fourteen

All hell was breaking loose. She should have known better than telling Bina her intention concerning their introduction in church. Now he was very angry with her. But what could she have done? She had tried calling him, but he couldn’t meet with her because of his work. Well, meeting him in church was the alternative since she couldn’t wait till he had his off day. She just hadn’t planned for his volatile reaction. He had given her a look that could kill her and then stormed off to tell Doubara.

Doubara stood before her now regarding her with eyes spitting fire.

“Did you really call off the introduction?” She inquired, lips turned up in disapproval.

“For crying out loud, I did not call off the introduction.” Ebika replied, throwing her hands up in exasperation. “Why can’t Bina understand the difference between ‘postpone’ and ‘call off’?”

“I doubt you know the difference, Ebika.” Doubara said coolly, crossing her arms across her chest.

Ebika glowered at her. “Don’t start, Doubara.”

Doubara let out a tired sigh. “What exactly is going on, Ebika? Please, tell me.” She urged.

Ebika looked away from her. “Nothing.” She said.

Doubara drew close to her. “There is something, Ebika.” She responded, her voice strong with conviction.

Ebika threw her hands up again, stepping away from Doubara. “I just feel we should hold on a bit. What is wrong with that, Doubie?” She faced her with challenging eyes. Doubara stared back.

A minute passed.

Ebika started squirming under her persistent stare. She shifted from one foot to the other. “What exactly do you want me to say, Doubie?”

“Ebika,” Doubara started in a softer tone. “I don’t want you to make a mistake. Whether you tell me or not, I know this has to do with that friend of yours from the past.”

Ebika looked away.

“Bull’s eye! I knew it.” Doubara pointed a finger at her. “But why, Ebika?”

“But nothing, Doubara.” Ebika’s lower lip quivered. “I haven’t broken up with Bina. We just need time. I still… well… like Bina.”

“Like? Like you say, Ebika.”

Ebika shrugged. “Well, I mean… I lo… love Bina.”

Doubara shook a finger at her. “Tsk, you can’t even convince me, how much more Bina.”

“Where is he?” Ebika asked, changing the subject.

“He stormed off after he told me you called off the introduction. He went that way.” Doubara nodded towards the exit beside the pastor’s office.

Ebika touched Doubara’s arm. “Trust me, Doubie, I know what I am doing.”

“If you say so.” Doubara replied in a cheerless tone.

“Let me go and look for Bina. I need to explain things to him. I didn’t call off the introduction. I only postponed it.”

Doubara gave a nod. Ebika patted her arm and went off.

 

She met Bina at the back of the church auditorium. He stood against a pillar with a faraway look in his eyes, arms akimbo. She walked quietly to him and touched his arm. He turned slowly and looked at her.

“Bina, you got it all wrong. I didn’t call off our introduction. I only postponed it.” She said, injecting what love she had left for him into her words.

A sad smile curved his lips. “Ebika, I can feel what you are not telling me. I can see it in your eyes. I can hear it in your words.”

It was her turn to look into the distance. “I don’t know what you are talking about, Bina.” She answered in a whispery tone.

“You know, Ebika, all I want to know is where I got it wrong. What did I do exactly?”

“Why are you asking me that? Why do you sound like I’m the bad person here? You sound like I’ve done something wrong.” Her voice thinned with veiled anger.

“I didn’t call you a bad person. I just want to know why you suddenly have cold feet.”

“Cold feet huh? Isn’t it enough for me to have cold feet? You don’t even know what I want. You don’t listen to me. You don’t do fun things with me. We struggle to keep money flowing between us. How do we cope when we get married?” The words flew out of her mouth in anger. “Oh yes, I’m postponing our introduction until I’m sure you are man enough.”

Bina’s jaw went slack. “I’m suddenly not man enough after two years.” His heart thumped within his chest. Things were going from bad to worse.

“What does it matter how long we’ve been together? Thank God I didn’t rush into anything, Bina. I still want us to take our time.”

Bina’s eyes grew very cold as he regarded her. “For how long, Ebika?” He inquired.

Ebika pulled her right ear lightly. “Huh, I don’t know. Sometime soon, but not now.”

“I can see that you don’t take us seriously, Ebika. You can’t just decide without me. We should have talked about it. Well, since you started it, I’m also going to take my stand. If truly you want to be with me, then we will have the introduction as we originally planned. If this relationship ever mattered to you, then you will do the right thing. I’m giving you tonight to think over it and give me an answer. If by tomorrow, I don’t hear from you, I’ll take it our relationship is over.” His words dripped with icy chill. His tone reflected his seriousness.

The look in Bina’s eyes sent a tremor down her back. Ebika didn’t doubt him for once. “Bina, you don’t understand.” She tried to reason with him.

“I have tried to understand, Ebika, but it has been difficult. It’s time we decide. We either move forward or we stop. The ball is in your court. Let me know tomorrow.” He ended his statement and walked away from her without a backward glance.

Ebika watched his departing back and felt the fire burning within her. Her plan had turned against her. It was time for drastic measures. She quickly pulled out her phone. Her hands moved swiftly over the keyboard as she typed a message to Tolu. She couldn’t lose.

 

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

 

Eladebi’s voice was grating his nerves. Tolu picked up his pillow and placed it over his head, but still her voice floated to him through the closed door. He got up, gritting his teeth. Why couldn’t she just observe her night devotion quietly? Oh no, she must sing. It was amazing that she still had such joy after what he did to her. He placed his right elbow on the pillow and settled his jaw on the opened palm. His brow drew together in deep thought. Why hadn’t Eladebi reported him? Why did she relate with him as if all was well with them?

His eyes went to the wardrobe. The same wardrobe where his ironed clothes had been put away by his wife some minutes before she called the children for devotion. He had gone through them to find fault, but found none. As usual, Eladebi proved to be the efficient wife she was. Even her food seemed to taste better than before. He drummed his fingers against his jaw. Something has to be done or else he would be caught in between. If Ebika found out his secret, he would pay dearly with his heart shattered completely. Better to deal with Eladebi soon.

But how?

That was the million dollar question on his mind even as his wife prayed for him in the living room. Ebika had given him the green light. He had to do something too. He stood up and started pacing the room, trying to lay hands on the numerous ideas flying through his mind. While this was on, his phone announced a text message.

He picked up the phone from the bed and read the message from Ebika quickly.

‘The coast is clear for us.

Things moved faster than I expected.

Am all yours now, my love.

 Everything now lies with you.

Let’s chat later and discuss what we’ll do next.

Love you.’

Tolu punched the air. “Yes!” he exclaimed, a wide smile spreading across his lips. “Finally, I can have Ebika all to myself.” He raised his shoulders and moved about the room with arms widespread by his side. “I have gotten what I want. Ebika belongs to me.” He burst into happy laughter.

Eladebi walked into the room at that moment, singing. She stopped abruptly when she met him in a happy mood. “What is going on here?” She asked.

Tolu turned suddenly, causing Eladebi to jump. “It’s none of your business.” He told her.

Eladebi regarded him for a few beats before she turned away from him and pulled out her night dress from the wardrobe. Tolu snatched the dress from her. He marched to the door, threw it open and flung out the dress. Eladebi ran to him.

“Why did you do that?” Eladebi cried.

Tolu fixed her with menacing eyes. “From now on, you will sleep in the guest room. I have no need of you here, and I wish not to see your face every of my waking hour.” He told her, nose flaring.

Aside a brief flicker that appeared in Eladebi’s face, she showed no emotion. She picked up her night dress and faced him.

“Good night, my love.” She said with a smile.

Tolu watched her, totally speechless. He stood in the same spot even after she closed the door behind her. Guilt twisted his inside. Eladebi didn’t deserve the treatment he was meting to her. A line appeared between his brows. It was getting difficult to bend Eladebi and get on with Ebika.

He went back into the room, slowly this time. He plopped down on the bed, eyes lifted up. “Being with Ebika is much more pleasant than spending the rest of my life in a loveless marriage.” His expression hardened. He drew himself up. “I won’t give up. Eladebi must leave. My life is with Ebika and not her, especially now that nothing is stopping Ebika.”

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 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.