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!
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.