Old Flame Ep 18

Episode Eighteen

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

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

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

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

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

His smile grew wider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do the right thing, Tolu.

Do the right thing, Tolu.

Do the right thing, Tolu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really?” She inquired, eyes glowing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Old Flame Ep 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 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 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.