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.

Old Flame EP 6

Welcome, Fam. Happy Fathers day. Happy reading!

Episode Six

Bina’s aunty was a nice woman, Ebika noticed. She welcomed her with open arms and complimented her without any reservation. Ebika liked the woman. It was the first time she was meeting her because she had been living in Ghana and just relocated to Nigeria after the death of her Ghanaian husband a year ago. She was a pretty woman who still stood straight despite her sixty-three years. Her smile added beauty to her aged face. Ebika had met Bina’s parents and it had left her wondering if Bina took after someone else in his family. His mother was just like her aunty – delicate and pretty despite her age. Seeing his aunty made her wonder again whom he took after. The only connection between Bina and his aunty was their fair skin.

“Aunty, who does Bina look like?” she asked, throwing him a sideways glance. His eyes twitched at her question, but she didn’t mind.

Aunty Nene laughed. “Bina is a replica of our father, his grandfather. His mother must have thought of him so much as he died some days before Bina was born.” She explained.

Ebika gave a nod, smiling a little. “No wonder.” She said.

Bina sat up beside her, his brows knitted in puzzlement. “No wonder what?” He and his aunty chorused.

Ebika’s face flushed in Embarrassment. What was she thinking bringing up issues on Bina’s look? He was not ugly. Why was she bent on painting him like that?  She coughed a little to cover her embarrassment. “Oh nothing. I was just wondering why Bina… er… well, he’s not as tall as you.” She rushed to explain.

Aunty Nene laughed again, but Bina’s lips tightened in displeasure. He kept looking at her all through the time his aunty spent telling them stories of her stay in Ghana.

“Let me go and get you something to eat, my dear. Bina is not a stranger, but you are. I must take care of you. That drink is nothing.” She pointed to the glass of juice on the side stool she had offered them when they came in earlier.

“Okay, ma’am.” Ebika answered.

Aunty Nene got up and moved to the kitchen, leaving them to watch the drama series on the television. Ebika felt Bina’s eyes on her and so she turned to him.

“What?” She asked with questioning eyes.

“Go and help her in the kitchen.” He said in a whispery tone.

Ebika looked towards the kitchen and back to Bina. “It’s my first time here, Bina. Why should I join her in the kitchen? I didn’t plan on coming here to cook.” She replied. Her tone was sharp with anger.

Bina said no more. They spent the rest of the time in silence, watching television. When Aunty Nene served the food, Ebika offered to help, but Aunty Nene brushed her off and told her to enjoy the treatment. Ebika flashed her tongue at Bina and mouthed ‘I told you so’. He gave a shrug and let it pass.

Their visit came to an end and they appreciated Aunty Nene for the good time. When they got into Bina’s car, he brought up the issue of joining Aunty Nene in the kitchen.

“Ebika, you should have joined her in the kitchen.” He chided her. “You should have shown your good home training.” He turned the key in the ignition and started the car.

Ebika waited for the noise from the engine to reduce a bit before she answered him. “Bina, please don’t spoil this wonderful evening we just had. Must I help in the kitchen just to prove I am a wife material?” She demanded in anger, arms folded across her chest.

Bina kept his eyes on the road. “It shows respect, Ebika. You seem not to understand the point I’m trying to make here. It’s as if you’re deliberately disagreeing with me.” He turned to look to her briefly, then back to the road. “What was that comment about my look, Ebika. I never thought it mattered.” His lips drew together in disapproval.

Ebika huffed. “Are you saying I’m just against you for the pleasure of it?” She gasped. “Honestly, I like the fact that you are showing emotions. I like the fact that you noticed my comment about your look.”

He looked at her. “What do you mean by that, Ebika?”

“Please keep your eyes on the road.” She stated. He turned. “Take a good look at the way you are dressed today. Why would you wear a dress shirt on a jean all tucked in with a sandal, Bina?” She bawled at him.

Bina laughed. “There is nothing wrong with the way I am dressed, Ebika.” He said.

“Yeah, right.” She sneered.

He kept talking about his taste in fashion, but Ebika stopped listening. Her mind wanted to see someone who took his time looking good. She had checked his whatsapp display picture and liked what she saw. Even in a polo, Tolu could stop her in her tracks. When she complimented his look, he had forwarded some of his recent pictures to her. He requested for hers and she had sent the best. He gushed over them. It made her feel like she was back in Creek Haven University again when Tolu couldn’t get enough of her.

Sad lines crossed her face when she thought of the last time Bina had complimented her. Sometimes she wondered if he noticed at all. They just went through the motions of their relationship like actors in a scripted play. There was nothing spontaneous about them, nothing exciting. Everything was just steady, nothing out of line.

She sighed. She was definitely bored out of her mind. Bina was not helping matters at all. She’d just chat up Tolu when she got home. At least that would bring exciting memories to her. Her eyes twinkled like the stars as she thought about that. She closed her eyes to watch the texts of her chat with Tolu dance across her head.

They were not moving. Something was wrong. Her eyes opened slowly. She rubbed her sleepy eyes and looked around. She yawned a little, trying to remember where she was. It came to her in no time. She had dozed off while thinking about Tolu. She looked around for Bina. The driver’s seat was empty. The bonnet of the car was raised. She opened the door and stepped out. Bina was bent over the engine, looking hard at it.

“What is going on, Bina?” She asked.

He straightened. Worried lines were drawn across his forehead. He kneaded his forehead. “I really don’t know what is wrong. The car jerked for a while and stopped. It refused to start.” He explained.

Ebika folded her arms. “Maybe you are out of fuel.” She reasoned.

“No, it’s not fuel. Something is wrong.” He bent over the engine again and started touching some parts.

“You see why I keep telling you to change this car.” Ebika challenged him.

He angled his head to look at her. “Ebika, I can’t afford a new car now. This will just have to do.” He told her.

“Then maybe you should sell it and gather money to buy a better car.”

Bina sighed. He stopped hitting the engine. “You know we’re preparing for our wedding. Car is not our priority now.”

“If it’s not then we shouldn’t be going around in this… this…” She looked away in disgust without completing her statement.

“This what, Ebika?” He inquired.

“How do I get home now?” She said instead, fixing him with angry eyes. Around them people moved in a hurry as darkness was gradually creeping in.

“I’ll stop ‘keke’ for you. I don’t think I’ll be able to take you now.”

Her face swelled with anger. She pursed her lips and looked away from him. He came to stand in front of her.

“I’m sorry, Ebika. This is not intentional. Please don’t be angry.” He said in a pleading tone.

She said nothing. She just stood while he got a tricycle to take her home. All the way she fumed over Bina’s stubbornness. Why won’t he just buy a new car? She mused. How much exactly was a Lexus? Bina just has to change his car if he wants me to go anywhere with him again, she resolved as the keke drew close to her bus-stop.

Like our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/teamhiwriters. Spread the news. Don’t forget to share with lovers of fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Flame EP 5

Happy Sunday, Fam. Happy reading!

Episode Five

Ebika stretched her taut muscles. She closed and opened her palms, flexing her numb fingers. Working as a copy editor for HiBooks Agency had its benefits, but it wasn’t all rosy. She had been typing since she got to work that morning. She checked her wristwatch and confirmed it was time for lunch break. She pushed back her chair and got up. Most of the booths around hers were empty, indicating that people had gone for lunch. She better join them.

She took the stairs down to the Agency’s cafeteria. She was hit by the sweet aroma of Banga soup when she stepped into the cafeteria. She sniffed the air with all pleasure. Banga soup will do this afternoon, she said within her. She sauntered to the serving point and requested for Banga soup and Starch. She picked a tray and took her lunch to the end of the room. Most tables in the room were occupied. People sat in groups to chat over lunch. Someone called to her to join them, but she politely declined. She needed to be all alone to enjoy her meal. Her regular seat kept her face to the wall, away from the eyes of her colleagues.

She placed her meal on the table and said a short prayer. She swallowed each morsel of starch with great pleasure. The fresh fish in the soup melted in her mouth as she enjoyed its sweet taste. She closed her eyes while she chewed. Nothing like good food, she muttered in delight. Her bleeping phone broke into her magical food moment. Her brows drew in a deep frown. She picked the phone and looked at the caller ID. The call was from her friend, Doubara.

“Doubie, how far?” She said when she picked the call. She licked the soup rolling down her fingers.

“Nothing much o. How is work going?” Doubara asked.

Ebika sighed. “The usual o: stressful. We’re on break now.” She replied.

“I called to inform you that I have sent the style for the choir uniform to your whatsapp. You can check it out and tell me what you think.” Doubara told her.

“Oh okay. I’ll turn on my data once I end the call, then I’ll get back to you.”

“Alright then. See you in church.”

“Yeah. Enjoy the rest of your day.” Ebika ended the call. She turned on her phone’s data and waited for it to connect. While it was connecting, she went back to enjoying her meal. Several notifications popped up when it was finally connected. She picked up the phone.

“Three hundred and forty five messages from whatsapp?” She groaned. “I’ll have to leave all these groups I was added to.” She scrolled through the messages, ignoring the group chats for personal chats. She saw the style Doubara had sent. The style was quiet simple: peplum top on straight skirt with a small cut at the side. She nodded her approval. She looked through her other personal chats and saw messages from Tolu. She sat up immediately and read through them.

Tolu: Hi, my dear. How is your day going? I hope it’s not like mine. I’ve been swarmed with work all morning, but you have been on my mind all through. I took a break a while ago to chat a little and when I refreshed my contacts, I saw you. I couldn’t resist dropping a message.

Ebika’s lips widened with a smile. She read the message again. She pushed the tray away from her and washed her hand. She picked up her phone and replied his chat.

Ebika: My day has been busy too. I’m just at the cafeteria taking lunch. Although, thoughts of you haven’t crossed my mind since I got to the office this morning.

His response came immediately.

Tolu: Ouch! That hurts, Ebika. I’m so unimportant that your work took precedence over me. That’s not fair.

Ebika laughed a little when she read his reply. She typed her response quickly.

Ebika: Well, you left me with no choice. I can’t be thinking about a stranger, you know.

Tolu: What if I don’t want to be a stranger anymore? What if I want to be as close to you as I was before?

Ebika: We’ll see about that.

She noticed the cafeteria was emptying. Her break was almost over.

Ebika: Back to work for me. Let’s chat later.

Tolu: Ok, but I mean what I said earlier about getting close to you.

Ebika: I’ll say it again: we’ll see about that, Tolu. Bye.

She ended the chat and finished the rest of her food. She went back to her booth in the office. All around hands flew over the keyboard of computer systems, trying to meet up the deadline of a magazine publication. Despite the urgency in the air, she couldn’t get back to work. She leaned against her chair and allowed thoughts of Tolu wash over her.

Eight years! Eight years after Creek Haven University. Where has Tolu been all these while? She ruminated. Why this strong connection between us despite the years gone by? Where are we heading to with this new friendship? Maybe I should tell him about Bina. Her eyes widened at that thought. She nodded slowly. He could also have someone. That thought caused a slight frown on her face. She shook her head. I’ll just take things gradually. There’s no need to rush. It’s not as if he proposed to me. We are only trying to build friendship again.

She sat forward and powered her system, getting set to work. As she typed in her staff password, a funny thought crossed her mind: What if Bina was not in the picture, and Tolu was willing, what would be her response?

 

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

 

She met with Doubara later that day in church. She told her the style was good. While they were still talking about the material to use for the style, Bina joined them.

“Good evening, Sister Doubara.” He greeted.

Doubara smiled at him. “Good evening, Bro Bina.” She jabbed Ebika’s ribs playfully, winking at her.

Ebika didn’t smile. She folded her arms and looked away from Bina.

“Hello, Ebika.” Bina said to her, touching her elbow lightly.

“Let me discuss with the others, Ebika. We’ll talk later.” Doubara told her, retreating.

“Can we talk, Ebika?” Bina asked.

She kept silent for a while, but then she sighed. “Alright. Let’s talk outside.”

They walked out of the church’s main auditorium towards the children auditorium. They faced each other then.

“I know you are angry with me.” Bina stated.

“Good you know, Bina.” She muttered.

“Ebika, I’m sorry. You know I was on afternoon shift. There was no way I could have made the transfer. I called you very early this morning so we could find a way around it.” He explained, his eyes scrunched together in a pleading look.

“It’s okay.” Ebika told him, giving a shrug. “I was able to make the transfer, and Ere got mother’s drugs. She’s doing well.”

“Praise God!” He exclaimed in joy.

Ebika looked at him then. She noticed his worn polo and black trouser. Her eyes went to his loafers. It was the same loafers he wore all the time during evening service. Being a foot taller than him, she was able to look over his head. It was shaved completely. No strand of hair could be seen on his head. His head brought to mind a smooth tiled floor where one’s reflection could be seen. His rectangular face that showed his wide forehead, buttoned nose and full lips couldn’t really pass him as handsome. He could be said to be pleasant looking.

She shook herself. Why was she analysing his appearance like this? It wasn’t like she was noticing all these for the first time. Bina never kept any hair on his head because he was bald. She never complained before, but she was suddenly comparing it to a rich, dark, shiny afro someone kept. The image stuck to her mind even as she listened to Bina.

“I hope you remember my aunty’s dinner invite to us tomorrow evening.” He said. She nodded in response. “I’ll be on morning duty so I’ll come and pick you from the office.” He informed her.

“It’s okay. We could chat on whatsapp this night to discuss what we’ll wear.” She suggested.

Bina laughed. “The last time I was online was two weeks ago, and that was because I was on leave. Just wear what is nice, and I’ll do the same. Besides, we don’t want to send the wrong message to people by dressing alike.”

Ebika’s shoulders sagged in defeat. “I hope you wear something better than nice.” She said in a small voice.

He didn’t say anything to that. He just laughed again like she just said the best joke of the day. “Let me drop you at home.” He offered.

She agreed. She tried not to compare his old volvo to a certain Lexus R300.

Fireworks!!!! Yeah! Ebika and Tolu! hmmmm. Friends, encourage me by sharing your thoughts. Let me know if you are enjoying this story.  Don’t forget to share with your friends.

 

 

 

Old Flame EP 4

Welcome back, fam. Sorry for the delay. Enjoy episode four.

Episode Four

Ebika sat on her bed with legs crossed in front of her. She had her Bible in her hand and her devotional manual close to her. She flashed the passage of the Bible with her phone’s torchlight. When she was through with the passage, she picked up her manual and read from it. She closed her eyes afterwards and prayed. Just as she was rounding off the prayer, her phone rang. She ended her prayer and picked it up. Her eyes flashed in anger when she saw the caller ID. She dropped the phone back on the bed and placed her devotional manual and Bible on her bedside table.

She straightened her bed sheet and tucked it in properly. She picked up the yellow floral print dress she had chosen to wear to work that day and dropped it carefully on the bed. She picked out her silver peep-toed heels and dropped them at the foot of the bed. While she prepared to go take her bath, her phone started ringing again. She ignored it again and went to take her bath.

When she returned to the room, she checked her phone and realized Bina had called five more times. She erased the missed calls. “I am not ready to talk to you, Bina. I’m still hurting. I haven’t gotten over what you did yesterday.” She said to herself.

Thinking about the events of the previous day brought Tolu to her mind. Her face gleamed with smiles. She had finally seen her first love again after all these years. He was still as remarkable as ever. He needed no prodding to do what he was supposed to do. Just like when he had found out she had accommodation issues back in school and couldn’t afford to buy a bed space. He had willingly given up his place off campus for her and went to squat in the hostel with his friend.

She later discovered he paid for the place with the money he saved from his plumbing business in school. Her love and respect for him grew after that. Out of his nothing, he had given her something. Not for once did they fight. They had a way around all their disagreements. Their love blossomed so much that they were given the award of best couple in Creek Haven during SUG week.

She never imagined spending her life with someone else. But then, Tolu disappeared into thin air. She only received a call from him, informing her he was off to work as a seaman and the money involved would set him up pretty good. He told her not to worry as he would come back for her.

She sighed heavily. He never came back until yesterday. Days without him in school had been terrible. She couldn’t answer all the questions posed to her by friends, gossips and enemies. What kept her going initially were his calls once in a while, but it stopped after some months. She left Creek Haven with a broken heart. A heart that kept hurting until Bina came into her life.

Bina, charismatic, hardworking and God-fearing, had come into her life with his pleasant smile and simple nature and became a friend to her. She couldn’t remember if he proposed to her formally or when their friendship became love, but they had started something special. It was not the passionate love she shared with Tolu back then. It was just a steady love between two level-headed people faced with the realities of life. She liked their relationship but seeing Tolu yesterday, being in his company made her yearn for that fiery love she once had with him.

She threw her head back and rested her weight on her palms spread out on the bed. The butterflies had flown in her belly just being with Tolu for some time. Her heart had responded with great excitement. Maybe she could make a change in her relationship with Bina. They could fire things up a little. They could be more passionate and lively. It wouldn’t just be the usual: prayers,   Bible studies, planning and minimal show of love. Things would have to change.

With this resolve she got up from bed and started dressing up for work. She was just buckling her wristwatch around her wrist when her phone rang again. She groaned. “Why can’t you just get the message, Bina?” She picked up the phone from where it was on the bed with the intention of ending the call, but stopped herself when she saw it wasn’t Bina. It was Tolu.

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

 

He waited with bated breath for her musical voice to fill his ears. He hoped it wasn’t too early to call, but he didn’t know her schedule. His wife was not in the room, giving him the privacy he needed for this call. He had turned restlessly in bed all through the night because of Ebika. At one point, he had gone to his study to look through his old photo albums. He had found just what he went there for – a picture he took with Ebika when she said yes to him. She had been laughing when the shot was taken. The photographer had captured every detail of their posture: her perfectly curved body resting in his arms and the look of awe on his face as he stared at her with all the love he felt.

He had stayed back in the study admiring the picture until the wee hours of the morning. That picture was hidden under his pillow. It must have found its rightful place, because he slept after he placed it under his pillow. His dreams had been filled with her. Once he heard his wife leave the room, he picked the phone to call her.

“Hello.” Her sweet voice floated across the line like cool evening breeze on a sweaty skin.  He heard the smile in her voice. His heart jumped in excitement. “Hi, my dear.” He replied, drawing himself up in bed. “How was your night?” he asked.

“Fine.” She answered. “And yours?”

“Fine too.” He pictured her still in bed. “Mine was filled with thoughts of you.”

“Oh, really?” She laughed.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t dream of me. I must have crossed your mind.” He teased.

“Of course you crossed my mind.” She answered.

“I’m so happy we met after all these years, Ebika. I hope we really keep in touch.”

“That depends on you, Tolu. You are the one who is good in disappearing.”

Her words caused his heart to ache. Sadness clouded his features. “I’m truly sorry about that, Ebika.” His words were spoken softly. He needed her to know how sorry he was to have left her back then. He didn’t hear her reply as his wife came into the room. “I’ll call you later. Have a great day.” He rushed on.

“You too.”

Once he heard her response, he ended the call and faced his wife who was looking at him like he had grown horns.

“What?” He asked her sharply.

She opened her mouth to speak, but she shook her head. “Never mind.” She moved to the in-built wardrobe in their room and started moving his clothes about.

Guilt washed over him, but he pushed it aside. He would not hurt Eladebi, but he would not stay away from Ebika.

“What are you looking for?” He asked her, his tone softening.

She turned teary eyes to him. “I don’t want us to be like this, my love. We have to let go of all offences. We’ve come a long way.” She came to knee in front of him. “Forgive all my wrongs, my husband. I just want us to be happy.”

He considered this for a few heartbeats, then he threw his legs off the bed and drew her to his chest. “It’s alright. I’m no longer angry with you. We’re fine.”

“Thank you, my love.” she smiled up at him with tears in her eyes.

He wiped them off and dropped a kiss on her forehead. “I love you.” He told her.

“I love you too,” She replied, wrapping her arms around his mid-section.

While he drove to his office that day, he told his heart to love Eladebi as much as she loved him. She never forced herself on him; not even when she became pregnant before their wedding and had to face disciplinary actions in church. He scratched his head. It was he who assured her of his undying love and promised to stand by her. She had been true to him ever since. But why was he having second thoughts. Could it be that his love for her was fizzling out? Every little thing irritated him now, and he wondered why he seemed so intolerant of her. Hmm… he sighed, his heart must have been preparing him for his meeting with Ebika. Ebika, the one he should have married.

Share with friends! You can use the whatsapp share button. Just click on more and share.

Old Flame EP 3

And here is Episode three. Our love journey begins!

Episode Three                             

Tolu brought out a bottle of wine from his fridge when he got back to the office that night. He opened it and filled his glass. He held the glass by the stem and took a long sip. He walked around his desk to his chair behind it. All the while a smile remained on his face. His eyes were as bright as the stars lighting up the sky that night. He downed the content of the glass and poured some more drink into the glass.

He hiccupped when he took a sip this time. He followed the hiccup with a small chuckle. Hmm… he had found Ebika after eight years. Who would have thought they would meet again? The first girl he had fallen heads over heels in love with back in the university. Her charming smile had stolen his heart from the moment she smiled her thanks to him when he returned the wallet she left in a restaurant. Thank God he had been seated close to her. In fact, he had been watching her all the while she was there with her friend. Her soft laughter cut across his heart like a hot knife through butter. That lovely smile had caught his attention. He had spent more time admiring her than eating his food. Finding her wallet was the best thing to happen to him that day. He ran after her with all glee. When she smiled her lovely smile to show her appreciation, he had felt like a hero, her hero. His shoulders puffed up as he introduced himself. That was the beginning of their love story.

Tolu pressed the glass to his lips. He didn’t swallow the drink immediately. He rolled it in his mouth for a while, savouring the rich taste of red grape. He liked his wine. It was the perfect taste for his mood. Meeting Ebika again was as sweet as the best wine he had had. Ebika was sweeter though and more beautiful than she had been before. He sat up in his chair, images of their meeting fleeting back into his mind. He saw her like she was standing right before him. Her image was so real he felt if he stretched his hand he could touch her right there in his office. He stretched his hand before he could stop himself. He took off his jacket and brought it close to his nose, inhaling deeply.

“Oh, she smells so good.” He muttered, his eyes closed.

He pictured her tall and slim figure that could rival any model at her best. No ounce of fat seemed to have been added over the years. He liked that she still maintained her figure; the figure and her shiny dark complexion. Her figure made it easy for his hand to circle her waist back then. Her face came into view. That heart-shaped face that was accentuated by her pointed nose and small lips. She still had the thick dark hair just the way he remembered. He swept his hand through the air imagining his fingers running through her hair.

“You’re the best, Ebika.” He said with all the admiration.

“Hmm… what is going on here?” A voice intruded into his musing.

His eyes flew open. He sat forward suddenly, upsetting the glass on the table. Red liquid ran across his table. He pushed files away from the liquid spreading fast. The intruder grabbed a hand towel from the top of the file cabinet and stopped the spreading liquid. He cleaned the table dry.

Tolu’s eyes burnt with anger as he regarded his friend and business partner of six years, Christopher Ebikitin. “People have doors to keep unwanted guests out.” He said in a blunt tone.

Chris flashed an innocent smile. He returned the hand towel to the top of the cabinet. “Only when their doors are locked.” He replied. He pulled back a chair in front of the desk and took his seat. “What’s the occasion, Tolu?” He asked, his eyes resting on the half-emptied wine bottle. “Why didn’t you invite me?”

“Because you’re not wanted.” Tolu huffed, relaxing against his chair.

Chris chuckled. “Well, I always go where I am not wanted.” He shrugged.

“Why are you here anyway?” Tolu asked him, fixing him with suspicious eyes.

Chris’ eyes lost the playfulness from moments ago. His eyes drew in deep seriousness. He became the level-headed, the sensitive man Tolu knew him to be. Tolu suddenly preferred the playful Chris. He waited for Chris to speak. He knew whatever he had to say wouldn’t be good anyway.

Chris cleared his throat. “Your wife called, Tolu.” He told him, regarding him with steady eyes.

Tolu returned his gaze without flinching. “What did she tell you?” He quizzed.

Chris leaned forward in his chair and placed his elbow on the table. “Tolu, what you are doing to that poor woman and your children is not fair, and you know it. How could you leave the house for two days now?”

“If she insist on working, then I won’t return to the house.” Tolu replied in an iced cool voice.

“Come on, Tolu. Eladebi has tried and you know it. Your second son is three years old now. Let the woman work.” Chris implored in a pleading tone.

Tolu sat up in his chair, fixing Chris with unblinking eyes. His jaw was set firmly. “I won’t allow her work, Chris; not after the insult her father and her uncle dished out to me back then. They made jokes that I wouldn’t be able to take care of her. I have proven them wrong and will continue to prove them wrong. Let her stay at home and mother our children.”

Chris sighed, rubbing his clean-shaven jawline. “I just wish you’ll learn to communicate more with her than going off like this whenever you have a disagreement.” His eyes went to the picture frame of Tolu’s family on the wall to his right. “We both know that Eladebi is a good wife and mother.”

Tolu followed his eyes and stared at the frame too, taking in the image of the woman he had married five years ago. Was he losing his love for her? Why did he always take their argument to the extreme even when he was in the wrong? Yet, Eladebi will still apologize, prepare his meal, pray for the family and let peace reign?

He released a heavy sigh. “I have heard you, Chris. I will go home, but I still stand by my word: she’ll not work.” He replaced the files he had moved back to their position since the wine had dried off.

Chris’ lip turned up in a smile. “Just do what is right, Tolu.” He told him, then he added “So what were you celebrating when I came in?”

The heaviness in Tolu’s heart dissipated as a bright smile light up his face. The smile grew bigger as he thought of the one who had put it there; not his wife but the one who had his heart right from the beginning: Ebikaboere.

 

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

 

Her husband was back home. Eladebi jumped up from where she sat with her children watching Spongeboo Squarepants on Nicklelodeon. She ran to the window and peeped through it. Truly, her husband was back home.

“Daddy is back!” she announced to her children, grinning from ear to ear.

Tari, their first child, got up and yelped in delight, throwing his hands up. “Yeeeeeee!”

His brother, Timi, looked at him briefly and went back to his cartoon. Tari joined her at the door as they waited for Tolu to make an appearance. The minutes he took to park the car in the car park beside the house and walk around to the front door seem like forever to Eladebi. She adjusted her bubu gown, then she smoothened her weave-on with her palm.

The door opened and there stood her husband of years and the father of her children, looking as breath-taking as always. She wrapped her arms around him, while Tari, and Timi who had seen his father, hugged him by the leg. His free hand didn’t embrace her back. He just stood there as rigid as a rock waiting for her to ease off.

Her excitement slipped a little when she looked at him. His face was as hard as it had been when he left the house two days before. He dropped his briefcase and picked up Timi, while he patted Tari’s head. That was when she saw a smile on his face. She picked up the briefcase he dropped.

“You’re welcome, my husband.” She said to him, plastering a smile on her hurt face.

He eyed her. “Why are the children still awake?” He questioned scowling.

Her eyes went to the grandfather clock on the wall. It was past 9 pm. She turned apologetic eyes to him. “I’m sorry about that. I guess we got carried away.” She explained.

He dropped Timi gently on the floor. “Take them in and prepare them for bed. They have school tomorrow. I’m going to the room.” He moved towards the hallway.

“I made something.” She called after him.

He turned to her with questioning eyes. “I didn’t tell you I’ll be coming home, did I?”

She shrugged, smiling. “I prayed about it. I knew you would come home.”

Tolu crossed his arms across his chest. “Really?” He sneered. She nodded. “Was that after you called Chris or before you called him to bring your missing husband to you?” He asked in voice heavy with sarcasm. His lips turned up in a mocking smile when he saw her winced. “I am here, but I still stand by my word Eladebi: you will not work. Go and return that appointment letter to that school.” With that, he went down the hallway to their bedroom.

Eladebi’s face fell. Her shoulders sagged as she led her children inside.