[STORY] Heartstrings(episode 1-12)


Episode 1
The blue sky was clear, cloudless, not entirely, an after effect of the rainstorm early that morning. Cool icy wind blew, hitting the skin with a firm grip. The street was empty. Different colours of houses lined both sides of the road. Some were decorated with palm trees, variety of flowers, plants, while others stood out with artworks on the walls and sculptures. He stopped the car outside the white house with a big black gate and honked thrice. He heard the sound of metal. The security guard in green and white uniform poked his head out. He was a short man in his mid-forties. He retreated into the compound and opened the gate.
“Good morning sir,” the man stood aside and waved.
He waved back in acknowledgement and drove in. He parked the silver Prado jeep alongside three other cars and killed the engine. He picked the black polythene bag on the front seat and alighted from the vehicle. He closed the door and locked it. He sneezed thrice and thought of a hot bath. It would chase the cold away he reasoned. He turned around and headed for the one storey building. A tall slim figure raced out of the ground floor flat towards him.
“Uncle Bassey, Uncle Bassey, welcome…” she tried to collect the bag in his hand, but he wouldn’t let go.
“You can’t carry it. It is heavy. Thank you,” he tried to smile.
“Where did you go this morning? You left while it was raining.”
He kept on walking. Was she monitoring him?
“Did you go to work? I thought you hardly go to work on Saturdays, except when there is an emergency.”
He glanced at her. When did she start to keep tabs on him? Wasn’t she too young to be nosy? The dark skinned eighteen year old girl towered over him with an inch. Her slim frame looked athletic in the blue jeans and red short-sleeve blouse.
“Uncle Bassey, I think I will study Dentistry like you. You make a lot of money. You drive a very expensive car, you are living in a three bedroom posh apartment in Ikeja G.R.A, and you run your own dental clinic. How old are you? You are a rich young man.”
What in the world!
He halted and looked at her closely. Was that how she saw him, a rich young dentist with an expensive car and a posh apartment? It had not always been that way. One doesn’t become successful in a day.
“Young woman, you should really think about what you want to study. Do not use anybody’s success or failure as a yardstick.”
She beamed at him, white teeth, rosy cheek, dove eyes.
Was she even listening to him at all? “Chinyere!”
“Hmmm…” she blinked, all her thoughts cleared.
He shook his head. She had not heard a thing. He walked past her and stepped into the building. She ran after him.
“Uncle Bassey, how old are you?”
He grunted, “None of your business.”
She walked beside him, marching his speed with quick steps of her own, “Come on, we are neighbours. I am… I am like your sister.”
“You are not my sister,” he eyed her and went up the stairway.
“I know. How old are you?” she followed him.
“You are eighteen years old, add seventeen to that.”
She stopped and pondered. Her eyes widened with realization. Her hand flew to her mouth and her eyes turned pale. She bit at her lower lip and climbed the stairs to the first floor.
“You are like, almost… twice my age.”
He placed the bag on the floor and fished out the door key from the bunch of keys attached to the key-holder, “I am old enough to be your father.”
“You are not my father!” her dark eyes flashed with anger.
He caught a glimpse of her and opened the door. He lifted the bag and walked in, “Have a superb weekend.”
He turned around.
“Can I come in?” her pleading eyes held his expressionless ones.
She folded her arms across her bosom.
“Go home. You mama needs you.”
She eyed him, “My mama is sleeping.”
“Bye Chinyere,” he shut the door and locked it. He carried the bag into the kitchen and dropped it in the sink. It was a good thing that he had gone to the abattoir early that morning. He had been able to purchase different parts of cow, goat and ram meat. He would be able to make enough soup and stew that would last him for a week or more.
His work at the dental clinic had taken a demanding turn due to the number of people that patronized the place. He was able to hire a doctor, a dentist by profession, who had been like a pillar of support for him in the past three months. He had also employed another nurse. The work load had taken a bad toll on the only nurse in the clinic. Now, she wasn’t alone again. While working at Lagos University Teaching Hospital a few years back, he had never thought he would set up his own clinic, although it had always been his dream. It was when his parents’ Calabar restaurant boomed and became a household name that the idea really came to life within him. He believed that before the year ran out, he would be able to set up another clinic in Abuja. If Jesus tarries, by the time he was forty; his dental clinics should be all over the country.
The door-bell rang. His thoughts faded. He turned off the tap at the sink and wiped his wet hands with a napkin hanging on the kitchen window. He hoped it wasn’t Chinyere. She could be a pain in the neck at times. He wasn’t expecting anyone that day. The only person that showed up at his place unannounced was his younger sister. If she was the one at the door, he would drive her away. He cannot stress and cook while someone else would devour the whole thing. She loved spending her weekends with him. It had become a routine after his fiancée broke up with him. His sister had taken care of him until he was emotionally ready to return to work. Those six months had been unbearable. If not for her, his apartment would have turned into a pigsty. Nevertheless, it didn’t give her the right to raid his kitchen whenever she visited. He strode out of the kitchen and walked towards the front door. He peeped through the door hole and saw his neighbour’s daughter. His brows came together in a frown. He unlocked the door and opened it.
“What are you still doing here?” his stern voice didn’t dissuade her.
“I want to stay with you.”
“Go home,” he glared at her.
“Uncle, please now,” her eyes became misty.
He hissed, took her by the hand and dragged her towards the stairway.
He raced down the stairs, pulling her along. She tried to break free from his grip, but he tightened his hold on her. He halted outside her flat and pressed the door bell.
“Let me go!”
He released her and pressed the bell again. The door flew open and a woman in her early forties stepped out.
“Chinyere, where have you been?”
The girl pouted, stamped her feet and went in.
“I have been looking for this girl…” the woman hissed and looked at him, “Good morning doctor.”
“Morning Madam,” he turned around and returned to his flat. He met two of his neighbours at his door. They lived directly opposite his flat. He groaned and looked heavenwards.
Oh God… not today.
“Good morning doctor,” they chorused.
“Morning,” he feigned a smile.
“Do you have salt?” the darker and taller one grinned.
“Me I need sugar,” the other squeaked.
He had left his door wide open. His neighbour’s daughter was responsible.
That girl.
He walked into his flat with gritted teeth and the ladies scurried after him.
“Men, I like coming to your flat. It is so organized,” she looked around her.
“Organized with class,” the darker one settled on a leather chair facing the 40’ flat screen LG television.
“Anyone that marries you is lucky…” the other danced around the room, touching and sniffing everything.
“Doctor Bassey, you live like a king,” she winked at him and parted her dark long legs. The purple mini skirt she was wearing barely covered her lumpy thighs. The matching lilac blouse barely covered her chest.
He looked away in disgust. He had no interest in women who lay all their cards out in the open like wares for sale.
“This is my dream house men,” the other sat beside her friend and flashed him a smile. Her shorts which could hardly be called shorts was similar to a granny pantie, but tighter. Her red blouse could hardly carry her heavy chest. Everything was hanging out like over-ripe plantain.
Did he make a mistake by renting the flat? Since the day he moved in, his female neighbours had been after him like flies hovering over faeces. His neighbour’s daughter wouldn’t give him a breathing space and these ones wanted his attention at all cost. He could never date the likes of them.
Heaven forbid!
If his fiancée had not called off the wedding, he would have been happily married by now.
“Halima, Simisola, I am kind of busy right now.”
“Doctor…” Halima cooed, adjusted her blouse and ran her hands over her thighs in a slow motion.
Irritation crawled all over him. He turned away and clenched his teeth.
“Doctor Bassey…” Simisola got up, walked up to him and squeezed her heavy bosom. She smiled and blinked her fake long lashes.
He coughed and held the door knob. The girls exchanged glances and chuckled. They walked sluggishly and blew him kisses before stepping out of the apartment. He kicked the door shut with his leg and returned to the kitchen.
I should have been married by now. All this kind of nonsense would have been avoided. This is torture.
He turned on the tap at the sink and continued to clean the red meat. He switched his thoughts to the kind of soup he wanted to prepare that morning.

[nextpage title=”episode 2″]
Chapter 2
She powdered her face and stared at her reflection in the hand mirror. Her dark skin looked flawless. Her big dark eyes were similar to that of the ancient Egyptian women, darkened above and below the eyelashes. Her full luscious lips were coated in red. She flashed herself a smile. Her eyes twinkled with pleasure. She liked what she saw.
“Make-up guru,” one of the nurses approached her. She kept the mirror in one of the drawers attached to the desk.
“One needs to look good,” she looked up at the brown skin, tall and plump lady.
“Hmm… I hear you,” the nurse leaned on the high semi-circle desk.
“You know I am the face of this clinic.”
“Face of clinic ko, face of Africa ni,” the newly employed nurse walked up to them.
“I am the one every customer sees before both of you attend to them and transfer them to the doctors.”
Adanne clapped her hands and began to laugh.
“Is Oga around?” Ibinabo stood beside the semi-circle desk.
Sikemi shook her head. Her curly shoulder length braids danced around her face.
“The first time I came here, I thought Doctor Sylvester was the owner of the clinic,” Ibinabo glanced at her colleague.
Adanne shook her head, “He is not. He assists Oga to run the clinic.”
“He is like the second in command,” Sikemi added.
Ibinabo smiled to herself, “Oga is so cute. He is short for a man though.”
“He is not short! I am five feet seven and he is exactly my height,” Adanne eyed her.
“Ehn… okay, fine, he is not short,” Ibinabo looked back at the nurse, wondering while she was upset.
“I am five feet nine inches, I am taller than you,” she pointed at Ibinabo, “But, I don’t mind dating someone like Oga,” her big dark eyes had a dreamy look.
The nurses turned to look at the receptionist.
“He is too slim for my liking,” Ibinabo blinked and turned her head towards the flat screen television on the wall.
Sikemi chuckled, “I like him that way, at least, he has six packs and his cropped curly brown hair makes him look sexy.”
Ibinabo frowned, “You are not his type. You are too tall for him.”
Sikemi eyed her, “Who are you to determine what his type is?”
Adanne grinned, “I am more like his type. I am his height and I am almost as fair as he is.”
They glared at her.
“Doctor Bassey is oyinbo, you are not even close,” Ibinabo hissed.
“Presently, he is single and available,” Sikemi played with a strand of her hair.
Adanne leaned closer to the desk, “I thought he was dating that oyinbo babe, what’s her name now?”
“Lovejoy,” Sikemi chuckled.
“Yes, Lovejoy,” she nodded.
Ibinabo glanced from one to the other.
“The mumu babe called off the wedding,” Sikemi hissed.
“Ah!” Adanne placed a hand over her opened mouth.
“Do you remember those six months that oga didn’t show up at work?” Sikemi tilted her head.
“Yes, doctor Sylvester almost died of frustration,” Adanne looked towards the doctor’s office.
“Exactly! Oga was nursing a broken heart that period,” she hissed again.
“Aww… I wish I knew,” Adanne rubbed her jaw with her fingers.
“I just found out. Anyways, he is back in the market and I am definitely for sale,” Sikemi batted her eyes.
Adanne sighed; she had a lost look on her creamy brown face.
Ibinabo absorbed all the information she had gathered. She drummed her fingers on the desk.
“Good morning nurses,” Bassey walked past them, “Sikemi…” he beckoned at the receptionist.
They froze with shock. The nurses exchanged glances. They didn’t notice when he walked. They hurried to their office and hoped he
wouldn’t query them for gossiping during office hours.
Sikemi sprang to her feet and ran after him. Her high heels made click sounds on the tiled floor.
“Do I have appointments this morning?” he walked into his office and settled behind the mahogany desk.
“No sir,” she followed him in and stood by the large desk, “Doctor Sylvester is attending to the patients that came in this morning.”
“Okay,” he leaned against the chair and pressed his knuckles.
“Can I get you anything sir, tea, coffee, beverage?”
He closed his honey coloured eyes and opened it, “No, thank you.”
She nodded, turned around and walked out. She closed the door behind her and sighed with relief. She had thought he would scold her.
She noticed that the nurses were peeping through the slightly opened office door.
“How far?” Adanne whispered.
“We live to see another day,” she winked at them and cat-walked back to the reception area.
Bassey shut his eyes and opened it. Was he dreamy? Did he just drive past his ex-fiancée? Was that Lovejoy? It had been almost a year, eleven months to be precise, since she called off the wedding. He could still remember the day he went with his family to see her parents and find out why the wedding preparations were stopped. They received the embarrassment of their lives that day. They were driven out with no explanations. He checked the in-coming traffic and reversed the car. He stopped at the bus-stop and looked out of the window. A fair lady in her late twenties stood among the crowd. He was right. She was the one. He smiled and honked several times. Someone standing beside her tapped her on the shoulder and pointed at his car.
She looked in his direction and a surprised look took over her face. She approached him with steady steps. Her jeans clung to her like a second skin, show-casing a round eye-bulging backside. The white and blue stripe fitted short-sleeve blouse complimented her fair skin and revealed a considerable amount of cleavage. He swallowed hard, she had not changed one bit.
“Hi,” she leaned towards the window.
“Hi… where are you headed?”
“Can I drop you?”
“Yes,” she had been standing at the bus-stop for over thirty minutes. She was on the verge of calling her fiancé and asking him to
come and pick her up.
She opened the door and climbed in. He joined the traffic and changed the direction in which he was headed. She stole a glance at him.
He looked cute as always. She missed playing with his short curly brown hair. She remembered why she broke up with him and frowned. He turned his head when he sensed that she was staring at him. Why was she frowning? He returned his attention to the road and noticed the stand-still ahead. His facial expression indicated anger. He hated been stuck in traffic.
She opened her bag and brought out an invitation card. She threw it on his laps and looked out of the window. He picked it up and glanced at her. He opened it and saw her full name, Lovejoy Idiongho Akpan. He directed his gaze at her again. She was getting married? She had the right to move on, he reasoned.
“Thank you.”
“Who is the lucky man?” he scanned the invitation card again. His heart stopped beating when he saw the man’s name. Stephen Akpos Edet, his childhood friend, his best friend.
She caught a glimpse of him and smiled, “We hooked up months after we… we broke up.”
He glared at her, “You called off our wedding and went after my best friend.”
“It wasn’t like that,” she eyed him up and down.
“Or have you two been… were you cheating on me with him?”
“No!” she felt infuriated by his accusation.
He clicked on the air-conditioner button. The temperature in the car had gone up all of a sudden.
“Stephen and I started dating three months after we broke up,” she tried to clarify his misconception.
“How convenient,” he wished the car in front of him would develop wings and fly.
She folded her arms across her bosom. He could think whatever he wanted. She wasn’t the one at fault.
“Why did you call off our wedding?” the emotion in his voice tugged at her heart.
She darted her gaze towards him and noticed the way his eyes glistered with tears. Hasn’t he gotten over her yet?
“Why didn’t you tell me that you couldn’t father a child?” she confronted him.
He blinked. What was she talking about? “I don’t understand.”
“Your sperms are weak and there is a ninety percent chance that you might not be able to father a child.”
He stared back at her, open-mouthed.
For the love of God, this girl is driving me nuts. This is a plot. This is a plan hatched out from an evil mind. This is wickedness of the highest order.
“You know what I am talking about. You were going to marry me in deceit.”
He shook his head, “Brilliant, this is just brilliant. Is this what you told your parents? So this is what you told everybody…”
“Stephen confirmed it!” she erupted.
“What?!” a million thoughts ran through his mind. What rubbish did his best friend fill her up with?
“He showed me a medical doctor’s report. He spared me a life time of pain and shame,” she eyed him. She was glad that she found out the truth before he ruined her life. She thought he loved her. If he had confided in her in the first place, they might have worked things out.
“And you believed him?” he stared at her in disbelief.
She took her eyes off him and faced the window. She wasn’t in the mood for an argument. She wished she had not gotten into his car.
“You didn’t even bother to ask me… why… why didn’t you ask me first before cancelling our wedding?”
She didn’t respond. He placed a hand on his forehead. He was beginning to feel a headache. It was impossible. His best friend wouldn’t
do such a thing. It was a lie. A doctor’s report? Where did he get that from? Did he really? Could he really? He had known the guy most of his life. What would have been the motive for such an outrageous act?
“You can come to the wedding if you like. I will take a bike home,” she opened the door and got down from the car before he could say
another word.
His heart rate quickened. If what she said was true, his best friend had a lot of explanations to give.

[nextpage title=”episode 3″]
Chapter 3
Stephen gave the child a pack of chocolate. He had developed a habit of giving candy and chocolates to every child that visited his dental clinic. It made the child’s experience endurable, regardless of the procedure he or she was brought in for. Most times, it was usually the removal of a bad tooth. It didn’t matter if he was available or not, he had instructed his staff to follow suit. He had been running the clinic since he completed his internship at Lagos University Teaching Hospital. He inherited a ten bedroom duplex amongst other things from his late father and had converted the ground floor into a clinic and the upper floor into his living quarters. His patients loved the fact that he was accessible. He had two other dentists working with him, three nurses and a few non-medical staff. He hoped to set up branches of the clinic in different parts of the country at the end of the year and at least three other branches in the West African region.
The mother and child waved goodbye and walked out of his office. His personal assistant came in immediately.
“Sir, there is someone here to see you.”
“Who?” he returned to his seat behind the oval glass desk.
“Doctor Bassey.”
His gaze flew back to her smiling face. He had not seen his childhood friend in a while. It was intentional. He had come up with one
excuse or the other over the past few months. He knew he would have to face him one day, but, was he ready?
“Let him in.”
“Okay sir,” she retreated and closed the door behind her.
Stephene rose the moment the door opened and Bassey walked in, “To what do I owe this impromptu visit?”
“You are the busy one,” Bassey approached the desk.
“Business has been very good,” he circled the table and shook hands with his friend. He towered over him. His six foot figure made him
look like a Greek god.
“At least you have a large staff,” he released his hands.
“Yes, em… what can I offer you?” Stephen placed both hands on his hips.
“Why don’t you explain this?” he brought out the invitation card from his pocket.
“Oh…” he recognized his wedding invitation card. He took a step back and leaned on one of the leather chairs in front of the desk.
“Is this why you have been avoiding me?” Bassey threw the card on the glass desk.
He grinned, “What do you want me to tell you?”
An angry expression took over his fair face, “You stole my fiancée.”
Stephen started to laugh, “Come on man mi. Darn it, she called off the damned wedding.”
“After you brain-washed her.”
He scratched a spot on his eyebrow, “I am going to marry Lovejoy, nothing and no one can stop that from happening.”
Bassey took a closer look at the man he used to call his friend. There was something off about him.
“You have had it good all these years; it is my turn to feast.”
“Feast? On what doesn’t belong to you? What rubbishing are you spouting?”
“Do you think you are the only one that will make it?” his tone raised a pitch.
Bassey watched him with keen interest.
“I am taller than you, much more handsome, broad shouldered and all, compared to your skinny self.”
His friend’s disdainful look astounded him. He was beginning to think that Stephen was jealous of him. He folded his arms across his chest and paid attention.
“I don’t know what babes see in you. They melt at your mere presence and flock around you like bees. Every girl I ever liked was in
love with you,” he pointed an accusing finger at him.
He swallowed hard. His friend had been envious of him all along. How come he didn’t detect it?
“We set up dental clinics around the same time, but, yours picked up faster than mine.”
“What are you talking about? Look at this place, you are more successful,” he looked around him.
“I have always loved Lovejoy. You were going to marry her and I decided to do something about it.”
Bassey shook his head in disbelief.
“I convinced her that you were sterile and eureka! She became mine.”
His eyes became red. He gritted his teeth and clenched his fist.
“At long last, I have something you can never ever possess in a million years, lucky me,” he winked at him and laughed.
Suddenly his friend attacked him. Both men swerved from one spot to the other, pushing, kicking and hitting each another. They
landed on the tiled floor with a thud.
Stephen pushed him off and sat on the floor, “You are crazy!” his breath came fast and hard.
“You allowed jealousy and envy to ruin our friendship,” he lashed back at him.
“What friendship?” he eyed him.
Bassey shook his head and got up.
“You are invited to the wedding.”
His personal assistant came in, in a hurry. She looked at both men, and then backed out.
“You can have her,” he adjusted his blue checkered long sleeve shirt.
He chuckled, “She is already mine.”
“I don’t want someone who didn’t trust me enough to confront me, regardless of how convincing the evidence against me was.”
“Whatever, your loss, my gain,” he got on his knees and rose.
Bassey took his eyes off him and marched out of the large office.
The moment she saw the silver car coming through the gate, she sneaked out of the flat and ran to meet him. He staggered out of the car and locked it. He straightened himself and noticed his neighbour’s daughter heading his way. He hissed. He was in no mood for her charade.
“Uncle Bassey, welcome. You are late today. Did you attend to a lot of people? You must be tired,” she tried to pat him on the back,
but, he slapped her hand off. Her shocked gaze lingered on his emotionless face. He strode towards the one storey building and left her standing by the car, wondering what had come over him. He climbed the stairs and met Halima and Simisola at his doorstep.
“Doctor welcome,” they chorused.
He ignored them, unlocked the door and went in. They exchanged glances, wondering what was wrong with him.
Bassey went straight to his room, got out of his clothes and locked himself in the bathroom. He came out an hour later, clad in his boxers, and went straight to bed. He had no appetite. Food was the farthest thing from his turmoil mind. His encounter with Lovejoy and Stephen had been a bad experience. He turned on his side and reached out for his phone. He went through his phone book list and placed his younger brother and sister on a conference call.
“Hello… Bros you no dey sleep at all?” he heard his younger brother’s voice.
“It is almost midnight for heaven’s sake,” his younger sister complained.
“Shut up, shut up, see this children wey they born yesterday.”
He heard them laughing. Their voices soothed his aching heart.
“When was the last time bros called like this?” Imabong asked.
“That time now,” Eno responded.
“Oh okay, Lovejoy matter,” Imabong whistled.
“Serious matter o,” Eno chimed in.
He listened to their chit-chat and sighed, “I met her today.”
“What?!” Eno exclaimed.
“Who?” Imabong wasn’t sure he heard him clearly.
“Lovejoy now,” his sister answered quickly.
“Ehn-hen… where?” Imabong’s curiousity accelerated.
“She is…” her face flashed through his mind’s eye, “She is getting married to Stephen next month.”
“Wow! She didn’t waste time,” Eno sounded disappointed.
“Which Stephen?” Imabong asked.
“Stephen Edet,” Bassey replied.
There was a moment’s silence.
“Stephen Akpos Edet!” his siblings chorused.
He could discern their surprised state in their voices, “Yes, my childhood friend.”
“This is unbelievable!” Imabong hissed.
“He planned it. He told her something false about me and she called off the wedding.”
“This girl is dumber than I thought,” Eno hissed.
“Why didn’t she ask you?” Imabong felt angered.
“She just believed your friend like that,” Eno hissed again.
“Na so I see am o,” Bassey sighed heavily.
“I can still remember how her parents rained insult on us and called us unprintable names the day we went to their place,” Eno
sounded sad.
“What did he tell her sef?” Imabong’s voice was laced with gloom.
“He convinced her with a fake doctor’s report that I was sterile.”
“Eh! See gbege,” Eno cried out.
“Sharp guy. That your friend messed up. See lie,” Imabong felt distressed.
“Lie from the pit of hell,” his sister added. “I will let dad and mum know.”
“Thanks Eno.”
“Come to think of it, bros you dey sterile?” his younger brother asked.
“Imabong!” they chorused.
“What? I supposed ask now.”
“Where did Stephen get a fake doctor’s report?” Eno wanted to know.
“Beats me,” Bassey couldn’t imagine the length at which his friend went to deceive his ex.
“Bros sorry o.”
“Hang in there.”
“Should I come over after work tomorrow?” his sister asked quickly.
He frowned, “No, no, no, Eno thanks. I am fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“I said I am fine.”
Imabong’s laughter rang in their ears, “Eno won go clear bros kitchen. Ah… Eno, na wa for you o.”
“Shaarap there.”
“Have a blessed night you two.”
“Goodnight bros,” they chorused.
He hung up and lay on his back. He felt relieved after talking with them. It was therapeutic. His parents would be so disappointed at
Stephen. At least, they would know why Lovejoy called off the wedding. He closed his eyes and said a prayer. He lay all that concerned him at God’s feet.

[nextpage title=”episode 4″]
Chapter 4
Damilare Peters arranged the pay-slips on the desk. The end of every month felt like a jackpot for him. He had a lot of debts to settle and a few things to purchase. He hoped he would have enough left to get him by before he received another paycheck. He considered himself lucky to have gotten employment in Hopewell Dental Clinic as an Accountant. His paycheck was the double of what his peers earned. The nurses strode into his office without knocking, followed by the receptionist.
“Don’t you girls ever knock?”
“The Accountant,” Adanne sat on his desk.
“Accountant, accountant, how you dey now?” Ibinabo settled on a chair in front of the table while Sikemi took the other seat.
“Where is our pay slip?”
He searched her face. The receptionist never wasted time. She was always direct and straight to the point. He liked her, but his height might be a problem. She was at least three inches taller. He knew several girls who didn’t like dating men shorter than they were. He had seen her ogle at the CEO on more than one occasion. He was shorter than her too. If she liked their boss, maybe she might give him a chance.
Sikemi stared back at him puzzled. His intent gaze made her uneasy. Was he interested in her? He wasn’t that bad. He had a good physique, but too short for her liking. He was from her tribe and that was a plus. She was interested in their boss. If only he would notice her. The man had been acting beside himself lately. She had a feeling that he was sort of depressed. She wished he would confide in her. Who was she anyway? His employee, she wasn’t even his friend.
“Have you noticed Oga’s mood swings?” Adanne tapped her on the shoulder.
She looked up at her and nodded.
“That’s true. He is being kind of cold and unapproachable lately,” Ibinabo chimed in.
“May be he is stressed up,” Adanne reasoned.
“Abeg, abeg, take your pay-slips. Don’t turn my office into a gossip center,” he distributed their slips. The nurses chuckled, collected their slips and headed out.
“Oga has turned to stone cold Steve Austin,” Damilare said casually.
Her confused look made him to laugh, “Who is Steve Austin?”
“Steve Austin now, Wrestle Mania…”
Her clueless gaze remained on his face, “I don’t watch wrestling matches.”
“Like seriously?”
She eyed him and got to her feet.
“Steve Austin is mean, cold, powerful, six feet, broad shouldered, fair, six pack, steel-like stance, emotionless and strong.”
“So, our boss is Stone cold Bassey Etim?”
“Exactly, without the height, muscles and you know.”
She started to laugh.
“I was there when he lashed out at Doctor Sylvester.”
“What happened?” she sat back on the chair, eager for news.
“If words were swords, Dr. Slyvester would have had severe cuts all over him.”
“Ouch!” She placed a hand on her chest.
“A broken heart does nasty things to a man’s mind.”
“But, I thought he was over his ex-girlfriend,” she raised an eye-brow.
He shrugged, “Maybe something or someone re-opened his old wounds.”
“I guess we are in for a repeat episode of what happened when they just broke up a year ago.”
“God help us,” she leaned against the chair and folded her arms across her chest.
He drove homewards, despite the storm; he navigated his way into the Government Residential Area. He thought of eating catfish pepper soup for dinner after taking a hot bath. A hot milky beverage would make him to relax and send him off to Slumber land. He had not been sleeping well and it was affecting him physically and mentally. Two houses away from his place, he saw a group of people gathered at a corner and shouting at a man, a woman and a young lady. They stayed closed together, drenched and shivering. What was going on? Should he find out or head home? He didn’t like getting wet in the rain. He drove off and stopped in front of the white house. He changed his mind and got out of the car. He approached the crowd and recognized many of them. Most of them lived on that particular street.
“Uncle Bassey,” she tapped him on the shoulder.
“What are you doing out here? Don’t you know you can catch a cold?” he eyed his neighbour’s daughter.
She pouted her lips.
“What is going on here?”
She moved closer to him, “This man, his wife and daughter, have been living in that uncompleted building down the street. The people in the area want them to live.”
His brows creased in a frown. What was their business? “Nobody has a say in this matter except the owner of the building.”
“The sister of the land owner is the one leading the protest.”
“Witchcraft,” he said under his breath.
“They said they don’t have anywhere else to go, but, no one is listening.”
He sighed and approached the stranded family.
“Doctor Bassey…” someone called him from the crowd, “Please tell them to leave or else I will call the police.”
He ignored the person and addressed the family, “Good evening.”
They stared back at him blankly and cringed.
“I live in that house over there,” he pointed at the white house, they followed his gaze, “It is raining, let’s go in… least you catch a cold or something worse, then, we can talk.”
They exchanged glances and looked back at him.
“Please come with me,” he beckoned at them.
They followed him immediately, but, with caution. The crowd watched them and dispersed, but, Chinyere followed the doctor and the strange family. He led them into the building and returned to get his car. He parked the car inside the compound and hurried into the building. He met Chinyere by the stairway.
“Not now, not now,” he dashed off.
She stamped her feet on the ground and watched him leave. She wanted to know why he took the family home. What he did was very risky. He didn’t know them from Adam and they were inside his house. She decided to confront him in the morning. She dragged her feet and returned to her flat.
Bassey led the family into one of the guest rooms.
“Do you have anything to change into?”
They shook their heads.
“Okay, I will be right back,” he hurried away and returned with a pile of clothes. He dumped them on the large bed, “This…” he picked up a
tee-shirt and a pair of black trousers, “It belongs to me…” he sized up the man who looked like he was in his fifties, “I think this will suit you,” he gave it to the man, “The blouses and skirts are for my younger sister, she spends her weekends here sometimes,” he looked at the woman in her forties and the young lady in her mid-twenties.
“Thank you,” they chorused.
“When you have all taken a hot bath, please join me at the dining,” he retreated and found his way out.
The man held hands with his wife and daughter. They were grateful to God for rescuing them from the angry crowd. They had been terrified because they had nowhere else to go that night. The uncompleted building had been their abode for several months. God had sent them an angel and they were grateful.

[nextpage title=”episode 5″]
Chapter 5
He dished the hot steaming catfish pepper soup into four different bowls. He placed the bowls on a big stainless steel tray and carried it out of the kitchen, a step at a time. He navigated his way to the dining and placed the tray on the wooden table. He looked sideways. Where were they? He returned to the kitchen and poured hot milky chocolate beverage into four large mugs. He placed the mugs on a plastic tray and carried it to the dining. He arranged each mug beside each bowl and took a seat. Should he go and call them or wait? He raised his head and glanced at the wall clock. It was past eight. He heard footsteps and turned his head. The dark chocolate skin slim elderly man, about five feet seven inches, approached him. He looked better now that he had freshened up. The red tee-shirt and black trousers was a little bit big for him, but, it wasn’t that noticeable. His wife followed. She was darker, shorter, slimmer and the clothes she was putting on made her look like a clown. He averted his eyes and tried not to laugh. Their daughter walked behind them. Her chocolate brown skin was complimented by the brown fitted blouse and white ‘A’ shaped skirt. She was taller than her parents, probably his height.
He lifted his eyes and met her watchful brown gaze. She was pretty. Her straight dark brown hair graced her shoulders. Was it her real hair or a hair-extension? Women and their weave-on were like inseparable twins. He tore his gaze away and leaned against the wooden chair. They all took their place at the dining and started to eat. The hot soup warmed his body and chased the biting cold away.
“My name is Bassey Etim; I am a Christian and a Dentist by profession. Welcome to my home,” he sipped at the hot liquid.
The elderly man cleared his throat twice, “Oluwatomisin Philips is the name. Thank you for…” he coughed and met Bassey’s encouraging gaze,
“Em… we are grateful.”
He nodded with understanding, “You are welcome sir.”
“Jesutofunmi is my name.”
He turned to look at the man’s wife.
“We are strangers, yet… you accommodated us. God will bless you,” her eyes smarted with tears. Her husband reached out for her hand and gave it a light squeeze.
“I am Oluwagbemisola.”
He directed his eyes at the young woman.
“I am the only surviving child of my parents. Thank you for helping us.”
“Thank God.”
They ate in silence for a while, each lost in his and her own thoughts.
“I… I was a business man,” Tomisin finished eating and pushed the empty bowl away, “I dealt in the import and sales of exotic cars here in
Lagos. I brought my best friend into the business and…”
Bassey snorted at the sound of the word ‘best friend’. It seemed best friends all over the world were dealing with their friends mercilessly.
Tofunmi noticed the young man’s angry expression. It was truly a wicked world if his best friend had also hurt him too.
“He took over my business in less than a year. He stole all my customers, manipulated my investors and rendered me penniless…” Tomisin had a lost look on his face.
Bassey pushed his plate away and picked up his half-empty mug of milky chocolate drink. He was beginning to feel very irritated. Why were
people so wicked?
“I couldn’t pay the loans I took at the bank. They claimed my houses, cars, properties, everything was taken from me,” Tomisin’s voice shook.
Misi stopped eating. She could still remember everything that happened to her family like yesterday.
“We… no one… not even family… relatives… friends… no one helped, no one came to our rescue,” tears spilled all over Tomisin’s face.
Bassey’s stomach tightened with pain. He placed the empty mug on the table and swallowed hard.
“I… I lost my children. One after the other, to sickness and hunger…” Tomisin began to weep. His wife started to cry too, “Here we are… no way forward…” he sobbed. His daughter covered her face with her hands and cried.
Bassey pressed his lips together. He breathed out loudly and held back the tears threatening to burst out of his eyes.
Tomisin looked up at the young man through blurred eyes.
“It is going to be all right. God has not forgotten you,” Bassey’s voice turned hoarse.
Tomisin nodded in agreement. He had not lost his faith in God.
“You can all stay in my house for now. We will put our heads together and think of a way forward.”
“Thank you,” Tomisin whispered. His heart swelled with gratitude.
“Thank you sir,” both women chorused. God had sent them help when they least expected it.
Bassey pushed the chair backwards and got up, “Have a goodnight,” he smiled at them and left the room.
Tomisin held his wife and daughter’s hands. They bowed their heads and said a prayer of thanksgiving.
Bassey could hardly sleep that night. The Philips family situation lingered on his mind. He called his parents and told them about the Philips. They decided to donate their old clothes. They promised to send it through his younger sister the next day. He called his sister the moment they hung up and asked her to sort her wardrobe and bring everything she wasn’t wearing or using to his place the next day. He also called his brother and asked him to start looking for any vacancy in his place of work. He hoped to get Misi somewhere to work before the end of the week. He would also discuss with his parents about employing Tomisin and Tofunmi. They would be able to start afresh and move on with their lives. He had seen the sign board of a two bedroom flat for rent along the street where his clinic was located. He would check out the place on his way back from work the next day. He had learnt early in life that it was good to be good. One never knew when one would also need help. No man was an island. He felt a bit relieved and at peace with all the plans he had made. He turned on his side and closed his eyes.
Misi leaned over the sink and washed the dishes. Her parents were fast asleep, but, sleep had evaded her. She couldn’t remember the last time they had a decent meal and bathed with clean water. She had thought she would work in her father’s company as an accountant when she graduated from the university, but her dreams ended when his friend hijacked the firm. The thought of how her siblings died one after the other consumed her. Everyone turned their backs on them, even those who had benefited from her father’s wealth. It was exactly a year since they had been living on the street, jumping from one uncompleted building to the other. She didn’t want to think of what would have happened to them if the doctor had not rescued them from the angry crowd.
God I cannot thank you enough. E se baba.
“E se o o o, baba oluwa, e se, e se, baba oluwa, e se baba, baba wa, baba e se…” she started to sing and dance.
Bassey strode into the kitchen and found her washing the dishes, singing and dancing. He leaned over the refrigerator and watched her with a
smile on his face. Her voice sounded nice to his ears. He knew the song she was singing, although he doesn’t know the meaning. He had heard
it in church a number of times. She appeared graceful as she moved left, then right, swirling her hips, lost to the world.
Instinctively, Misi sensed that she wasn’t alone. She turned around and found the doctor in the kitchen watching her. She stood still and heard the throbbing of her heart. The loud thuds echoed in her ears.
He walked over to the cabinet beside the sink and opened one of the drawers. He brought out a tin of Milo and a tin of Dano milk. He set it on the table and reached out for one of the mugs she had just washed.
She returned her attention to the sink. She wanted to finish washing the dishes, but, her hands refused to respond to the message her brain
had passed.
I have made a fool of myself. What does he think of me now? He found a crazy girl dancing in his kitchen. Misi, Misi, Misi oooo!
She exhaled loudly when he left after making himself a hot mug of chocolate drink. She bit at her lower lip and started to rinse the bowls she had washed. His face flashed through her mind’s eyes. She recollected that he was actually smiling when he caught her dancing. She made a sign of relief. He definitely didn’t think she was crazy.
Bassey emptied the mug and placed it on the bedside drawer. He changed into his boxers and returned to the bed. Misi’s dancing figure flashed through his mind’s eye. He smiled and closed his eyes. He liked it when people knew how to praise their God. A heart full of thanksgiving was much more valuable than gold. He drifted off to sleep and dreamt about a woman singing and dancing. She called his name and asked him to join her.

[nextpage title=”episode 6″]
Episode 6
Tomisin and Tofunmi sat at the dining with their daughter. They were having breakfast at twelve noon. They woke up late that morning and realized that they were alone in the house. It had been a long time since they had slept that well.
“Do you know if the doctor is still around?” Tofunmi glanced at her daughter.
She met her mother’s gaze and shook her head.
“I think he has gone to work,” Tomisin munched at the toast in his hand.
Misi sipped at her chocolate drink. She could still remember when he caught her singing and dancing in the kitchen. She hoped he had
forgotten. The door bell rang. They looked towards the front door and wondered who it was. She placed her mug on the table and pushed back the chair. She got to her feet and strode to the front door. She unlocked and opened it slightly. A tall young girl stood at the doorway. She looked a bit familiar, but, couldn’t place where she had seen her.
“What are you still doing here?” the girl asked her.
Misi was taken aback by her attitude. Recognition hit her. She had seen the girl talking to the doctor the day he took them home. She
probably lived in the building too.
“Can I help you?”
“No!” the girl eyed her.
Misi looked up at her and shook her head. She could discern that the teenager was a trouble maker, “Doctor Bassey is not home. Come back when he returns.”
“I know that he isn’t home,” she snarled.
Misi folded her arms, “So, what are you doing here?”
“You and your family should go back to wherever you came from. You are not wanted here.”
She was beginning to feel provoked, “Shouldn’t you be in school or something?”
Chinyere hissed and pointed a finger at her, “I know your type. Your charms won’t work on him. He is mine.”
“Oh… I see…” Misi started to laugh. Now she understood the girl. She probably felt threatened by her presence. She definitely had a crush on
the doctor.
“What is so funny?”
“You… little girl.”
Chinyere’s nose flared.
“You are too young for the dating game. You better face your books. In five or six years, you might be ready. Right now, you will only get
She backed away, “I don’t need advice from people like you,” she turned away and ran down the stairs.
Misi stepped back into the flat and closed the door.
Misi lay on the three-settee and dozed off while watching movies on African Magic Urban channel on the television. She opened her eyes and heard the door bell ringing. She blinked and stretched out. A loud yawn escaped her. She sat up and felt worn-out all of a sudden. She yawned again and pushed her weight up. She dragged her lazy self towards the front door and hoped it wasn’t the nosy infatuated teenager again. She peeped through the hole at the center of the wooden door and saw the doctor and someone else standing beside him. She turned the key and pulled the doorknob.
“Welcome doctor, good afternoon ma,” she smiled at the creamy brown skinned lady beside him. If she wasn’t mistaken, she was
unquestionably her age mate.
“Hi, Misi, right?” the lady smiled at her.
“I am Enobong Etim.”
She threw a glance at him, then back at her. Were they related? Come to think of it, there was a slight resemblance between them.
“Please help us with these bags,” Bassey motioned at the Ghana-must-go bags by the door way.
“Okay,” Misi reached out for one of the bags and pulled. It was very heavy. What was in it?
Bassey and Eno pulled the two other bags into the flat.
“Where are your parents?” he asked.
“In the guest room, sleeping,” she responded.
“Okay…” he regarded her, “The clothes, shoes, jewelry, everything in these bags are for you and your parents.”
Misi looked at the big bags, and then stared at him in bewilderment.
Eno observed her. She was delighted that they were able to help the Phillips family.
“Thank you,” she whispered. Her throat tightened and her eyes smarted with tears.
“My sister and my parents donated everything,” he directed his gaze at his younger sister.
“Thank you,” Misi turned towards her, “Please thank your parents for me.”
Eno let out a chortle, “I will.”
“Great, I am going back to work,” Bassey turned around and walked out of the apartment.
“See you later,” Eno shut the door and turned to met Misi’s uncertain stare, “Let’s get these bags to the guest rooms, then, make something
to eat. I am famished.”
“I think these bags have s—-d every iota of the food I ate this morning,” Eno rubbed her tummy.
Misi started to laugh.
“I am serious; I think I have also lost weight.”
She laughed harder and reached out for one of the bags.
Sikemi hurried after her boss the moment he walked into his office.
“Please let Dr. Sylvester know that I am back. He must be exhausted by now,” Bassey instructed her.
“Yes sir, all right sir,” she stood adjacent to the desk.
“You can go,” he took a seat.
Sikemi nodded and turned around. Her high heeled shoes made click sounds on the tiled floor.
Bassey watched her leave the room and leaned against the chair. A relaxed smile lit his face. He felt fulfilled after dropping the bags for Misi and her parents. it was a good thing that his family had helped out. They had also donated furniture and electronics for the two bedrooms flat
he paid for down the street. They would be able to move into the place the next day. He was at peace. Her dancing figure flashed through his mind’s eye. He had not been able to delete the image from his memory. Whether he was asleep or awake, she seemed to linger in his thoughts. It was the first time in two years that he had thought of someone else other than his ex, Lovejoy. His chest tightened with pains.
Although he had gotten over her, her lack of trust and his friend’s betrayal gnawed at him like an old wound. He doubted if he was ready to trust another. Maybe in another year or two, he would be able to give his heart away again. He was already thirty-five and his parents were not pleased with his single status. It wasn’t his fault. He would have been married if not that his ex called off the wedding. He pushed the unpleasant thoughts away and scanned through the files on his table.
He got out of his car and saw Chinyere and the ladies living opposite his flat standing a few feet away. Were they waiting for him?
What do they want now? He was exhausted and peckish. He trusted his sister to have prepared something. She doesn’t play with her tummy. He locked the car and headed for the one storey building.
“Good evening doctor,” they followed him.
“Evening ladies,” he tried to smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes.
“Doctor, Chinyere told us that you are accommodating those riff raffs who used to live in that uncompleted building down the street,” Halima snorted.
He sighed and moved his head from side to side.
This girl needs to be spanked with a very long, thick, and… and…
“You don’t know what they are capable of, it is very risky,” Simisola chimed in.
He remained mum and climbed the stairs. They scrambled after him, trying to get noticed.
“Some of these people use charms on men and enslave them.”
“You are a nice person. Don’t let them take you for granted.”
He halted at his door and faced them, “Thank you for your concern. Have a good night ladies.”
“Good night doctor,” they sighed heavily and returned to their flat.
Chinyere looked him up and down, folded her arms across her chest and stood in front of him like a stumbling block.
“Chinyere, Chinyere, Chinyere!” he waved a pointed finger at her.
She pursed her lips, “I am only looking out for you.”
“Who made you my guardian angel or my bodyguard?” his tone of voice rose a notch.
She grimaced. She didn’t like the fact that he didn’t appreciate her gesture of care.
He looked up at her, “I am old enough to be your father.”
“You are not my father,” she hissed and stepped backwards.
He heaved a sigh of distress, “Regardless… look young woman; I know you like me…”
She lowered her gaze. She had fallen for him since he moved into the compound but, he had always related with her like a child. She had
hoped that he would see her like a grown woman and learn to love her the way she loved him.
“Look… you are a good girl… but, I cannot go out with you,” he searched her pale face.
She bit at her lower lip. His words wounded her pining heart.
“I am not a pedophile,” he hoped he would be able to get through to her that night.
She looked into his honey coloured eyes, “I know that. It doesn’t matter what people might think… it is ‘you’ and ‘me’ that matters,” her eyes pleaded for understanding.
He raised his head and looked upwards. Why do teenagers have such thick skulls? Nothing ever got through to them.
Lord Jesus help me out here. She is not listening to me.
“Listen to me,” he gave her a long steady look, “I don’t love you, I cannot love you and I will never ever love you the way you want me to.”
Colour drained from her face. Wet dark eyes probed honey coloured firm ones. She gulped spittle, turned around and fled.
“Chinyere!” he took some steps forward, and then exhaled loudly. He ran his fingers through his brown cropped curly hair and stifled a yawn.
He backed up and pressed the door bell.

[nextpage title=”episode 7″]
Episode 7
He saw Misi standing at the doorway clad in a knee length straight brown dress with a pink bow at the waist line. The colour blended with her chocolate brown skin, making her look fresh, clean and desirable. Her dark brown shoulder length hair was curled at the tip, giving her a stylish look.
“Welcome…” she felt uncomfortable under his gentle scrutiny. There was a gleam in his honey coloured eyes as he stared at her.
“Evening, how are you doing?” he stepped into the apartment.
“Fine,” she closed the door and followed him into the sitting room.
“Evening everyone,” he met his sister and the Philips watching the television.
“Welcome,” Eno winked at him.
“Evening doctor,” Mr. and Mrs. Philips greeted him.
“I hope there is food in this house,” he directed his gaze at his sister.
“Yes, I will set the dining,” Misi responded.
“Good, thanks,”he glanced at her and headed for his bedroom.
She hurried into the kitchen and brought out his bowl of ogbonna soup and a plate of semovita out of the microwave. She and Eno had made soup and stew that evening. She set it on a tray and carried it to the dining. She returned to the kitchen and brought out a pack of fruit juice from the refrigerator and picked a clean glass cup in the cupboard. She arranged it on the dining and dashed back to the kitchen. She filled an empty plastic bowl with water and reached out for one of the napkins hanging on the window. She took it to the dining table and joined Eno on the settee. She and Eno had hit it off that day. She found out that she worked at Wazobia radio station and coincidentally, they needed an accountant. Eno called her boss that noon and an interview date was scheduled for her. She believed that she would get the job. God had turned things around for her family and everything was working out for their good. She noticed when the doctor started eating. He was in his boxers and a white singlet. His fair skin made him to look like a half-caste. She wondered if his curly hair was natural or in perm. There were times when she was tempted to run her fingers through it.
How will it feel like?
She cleared her head. It wouldn’t be wise to develop feelings for someone that had decided to help her family with no strings attached. Relationship was the last thing on her mind anyway. Her last boyfriend had broken up with her when he got an opportunity to travel out of the country. He didn’t want a long distance relationship and he wasn’t ready to get married. Her family situation had also killed any desire to get involve with someone else. She might be ready to date again once they were back on their feet. She saw him leave the room. He must have finished eating. She got up and walked to the dining. She cleared the table and carried the empty dishes into the kitchen.
Eno left everyone in the sitting room and went to one of the guest rooms to sleep. She had told Misi to be ready early the next morning so that she could be interviewed by her boss and hopefully gain employment at the Radio Station. She liked the girl, despite her family’s financial condition; there was still an air of affluence about her. She had a calm and peaceful aura. It had been a while since she had met someone who was so full of gratitude and had a firm faith in God. If she was in her shoes, she wasn’t sure how she would have reacted or coped. The Philips had stood the test of time. They were an encouragement to all that God never failed.
Misi came in and joined her on the bed. Her parents and the doctor were still in the sitting room watching the news. She needed to wake up early the next day. She couldn’t afford to sleep late and risk waking up late in the morning. In a minute or two, they were both fast asleep.
Bassey called Tomisin aside and they spoke in low tones. His wife discerned that they wanted privacy. She bid them good night and left the room.
“I have secured an accommodation for you and your family.”
Tomisin gaped in surprise. He prayed within that God would bless the young man. The Lord had used a perfect stranger to rescue them when friends and family turned their backs on them.
“It is a two bedroom apartment right here in Ikeja.”
He clasped his hands together, “Thank you, thank you so much.”
“You are welcome sir.”
“God will bless you,” his eyes glistered with tears.
“Amen. My parents and siblings donated furniture, electronics, kitchen utensils, food stuff, provisions, and a host of other things.”
“Wow!” his excited gaze held the younger man’s happy ones.
“You can move in tomorrow if you like.”
“That is good news, thank you so much.”
“I am happy to be used by the Lord to help you and your family… just thank God.”
He nodded in appreciation. He couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. His heart expanded with joy, “God will bless you and your family beyond your wildest dreams.”
“Amen! Amen…”
Tomisin looked heavenwards, “Thank you so much Jesus. Oh God thank you.”
Bassey excused himself and went into his room. He would speak to his parents about how they could integrate Mr. and Mrs. Philips in their
work force. They had an outlet in Ikeja. The couple could work there and spend less on transportation. His brother had not given him feedback concerning vacancy in his place of work. He needed to get Misi a good job too. He had an accountant already in his clinic. If not, he would have employed her. He lay on the bed and soon drifted off to sleep. His dreams were completely taken over by the Philips’ daughter. She was singing and dancing.
Misi sat in the reception hall and watched the soap opera been shown on the flat screen television fixed on the wall beside the Front desk officer’s desk. She had done the interview and was waiting for Eno to give her feedback. She hoped she would get the job. She needed it. It would be so good to start working and earning money. Her father told her that morning that the doctor had rented a place for them to stay and his family had furnished it. It was a dream come through. After spending more than a year on the streets of Lagos, they now have a place of their own again. Her parents had moved in that morning and had sent the address through a text message. She planned to leave for their new home immediately she left Wazobia radio station premises. People like the Etims were very rare. How many people would help complete strangers? People hardly help people they knew, talk about strangers. She prayed that God would reward them a million fold.
She sighted Eno across the room, walking towards her, wearing a brown skirt suit. She had a beautiful and elegant physique. Her black high heeled shoes made her look taller than her five feet eight inches height. She was taller than her elder brother. Why was the last child in most families taller than everyone else? The doctor was an inch shorter than his sister, about five feet seven inches. Was he shorter than his younger brother too? She had never met Imabong, though she had heard a lot about him. She had always been interested in guys that were taller than she was. If she dated someone like the doctor, most of her high heeled shoes would become useless. He was her exact height.
“Babes… you got the job.”
“Eureka!” she leapt to her feet.
Eno drew her close in a hug, “I am so happy for you.”
She released her, “You are starting work tomorrow morning.”
“Wow!” her eyes glittered in excitement.
“Eight a.m on the dot.”
“I will be here.”
“Let me see you off to the gate,” she placed a hand around her shoulders and led her out.

[nextpage title=”episode 8″]
Chapter 8
He closed from work and decided to check on the Philips before heading home that evening. Their apartment was in a three storey building, five houses away from where his clinic was located. He said goodbye to the receptionist on his way out and walked briskly to the spot he parked his car. He got in, drove out of the large compound and down the busy street. He maneuvered the car into a space he found outside the brown painted three storey building. He killed the engine and stepped down from the vehicle. He locked it and strode into the building. The Philips’ flat was on the ground floor. He greeted the security guard and walked towards one of flat at the back of the building. He pressed the door bell and waited. He looked around him and noticed the semi-clean surrounding.
“Doctor!” Tofunmi opened the door and saw him standing two feet away.
“Good evening,” he smiled back at her.
“Evening, please come in,” she stepped back into the house.
“I thought I should check up on you all…”
“Oh… thank you.”
He followed her into the sitting room and found Tomisin and his daughter at the dining.
“Good evening sir,” Bassey bowed his head.
“Evening doctor,” Tomisin rose.
“Please sit down sir.”
He smiled and sat down, “Why don’t you join us?”
“Thank you,” Bassey pulled out one of the empty chairs at the dining and sat down opposite Misi.
“Evening…” her eyes remained on her meal.
“Evening,” he lifted his eyes and searched her face.
Tofunmi rushed into the kitchen and returned with a plate of pounded yam and a bowl of egusi soup with grilled fresh fish. She placed the meal before him and took a seat beside her husband.
“Misi got a job as an accountant at your sister’s place of work today.”
He looked from mother to daughter, “That is wonderful,” he felt like a burden had been lifted off his shoulders.
“She is starting tomorrow.”
He glanced at the proud father, “This is good news.”
“God has used you and your family to help us in ways we can hardly imagine. We are grateful,” Tofunmi smiled with gratitude.
“We thank God ma,” he smiled back at the elderly woman and started to eat.
Tomisin held his wife’s hand, “We got a call from your dad this evening.”
Bassey raised his head and stared at the couple.
“They want us to work as Supervisors in their Calabar food restaurant here in Ikeja,” Tomisin’s eyes began wet with tears.
Bassey closed his eyes and sighed. He had spoken to his parents about the Philips unemployment. He opened his eyes and grinned.
“We are also starting tomorrow,” Tofunmi’s excitement radiated on her face.
“God has wiped away our tears and replaced our shame with honour,” her husband chimed in.
The couple exchanged glances. Their dark eyes shone with happy tears.
He was very happy for them. He turned to look at their daughter. Her brown hair was packed in a bun on top of her head. A red hair-band
held it together at the center. She looked pretty with little or no make-up on her face. She had a natural beauty. Many girls lacked that. Her singing and dancing image flashed through his mind. His brows creased in a frown. He hoped her image would stop tormenting his dreams now that she doesn’t live with him anymore. He concentrated on his food and ate it all. He washed his hands in the bowl of water beside his plate and wiped his hands with the napkin on the table.
“Thank you ma, it was delicious.”
The couple laughed lightly and stared at their daughter. He followed their gaze. She raised her head and realized that they were all staring at her.
“Did Misi cook the food?” he searched their happy faces.
“Yes,” her parents chorused.
“Wow…” he got up, “I am impressed.”
Misi dropped her head and tried to stop herself from smiling.
“I have to head home now, please call me as often as you need to.”
“Thank you doctor,” they chorused.
Her father signal to her. She washed her hands and shifted her chair backwards.
She got to her feet, “Let me see you off.”
They both walked towards the door.
“Take care of your parents,” he glanced at her.
“I will,” She opened the front door.
He stepped out and then turned to look at her. Bright honey coloured eyes drilled into brown ones that became tensed due to the intensity of his gaze.
Her heart beat accelerated and the heat of their proximity made her to feel light headed. Out of the blue, something deep within propelled her to close the gap between them.
As if he was been controlled by the same feeling, he brushed a hand over her smooth chocolate brown oval face. She shuddered at his touch and parted her lips. His gaze dropped to her small cute wet mouth. He swallowed hard and tried to still his raging emotions. She wrapped her arms around him and sealed his lips with a kiss. Shock waves flew in every direction in his system. A deep longing within him took over. He kissed her back, lost in the euphoria of the moment. She trembled in his arms and melted into him. His hands slid down her back and caressed her buttocks. She moaned and tightened her grip on him. They moved back into the house and he shut the door with his leg.
She felt his hardness and paused. What were they doing? There was absolutely nothing between them. She shouldn’t have kissed him. Why did she allow her emotions to override her reasoning? She wanted to pull away, but, her hands were limp with desire.
Bassey held unto her firmly and led her into one of the bedrooms down the hall way. He couldn’t stop the kisses. The desire building within him
felt like a volcano about to erupt. All he could think about at that moment was to consume every inch of her.
His weight crushed her on the soft, firm, mattress. It registered on her mind that they were in one of the rooms, hers or her parents’? She couldn’t tell. What if they found them locked in each other’s arms? What would they think? She panicked and tore her lips away. She searched his face and the realization that he wanted her too came as a surprise. Was it possible that he had feelings for her too?
“What are we doing?” she whispered.
His eyelids flickered and his senses returned. What was he doing? What had he done? He released her and sat up quickly.
She lifted herself and sat beside him, “I am sorry,” she observed his firm face.
“No, I am sorry,” he returned her gaze, “I like you… I like you a lot.”
She batted her eyes. His confession shocked and excited her all at once.
“I… I have been thinking about you more than I should,” he looked away, “You have completely taken over my dreams, but, right now… I can’t
do anything about how I feel about you,” he got up and straightened his creased blue long sleeved shirt.
She raised her head and searched his face. If he really liked her, why wasn’t he ready to pursue something futuristic with her?
“It’s being a crazy period for me. I need time… I need time to get my priorities straight,” he stared back at her.
She dropped her head. A pained expression took over her face. If he had asked her out that night, her response would have been positive. What was holding him back? Was there another woman in his life? Maybe he didn’t like her enough to date her. She felt a lump in her throat. Why did she kiss him? She felt so stupid.
“I am sorry, I have to go,” he caught a glimpse of her, turned around and walked out.
She exhaled and wrapped her arms around her body. She placed her head on her laps and closed her eyes.
God … I am falling in love with someone who isn’t ready for a commitment.
Tears rolled down her face.

[nextpage title=”episode 9″]
Chapter 9
It was three in the morning. He had not been able to sleep a wink. His thoughts were consumed with his intimate encounter with Misi. If he had not regained his senses, he would have slept with her and regretted it afterwards. He found pleasure in the fact that she was also attracted to him. He turned on his side. Was his heart ready to commit to another woman? He doesn’t know her well enough to trust her. He wasn’t looking forward to getting hurt again. If he took things slow and court her friendship, in time, he might be ready for a serious solid futuristic commitment. What if she couldn’t wait? The thought of seeing her with someone else made his blood boil. He lay on his tummy.
Oh God… I really, really like this girl.
He remembered the day he saw her singing and dancing in the kitchen. He raised the corners of his mouth in a smile. The house had seemed kind of quiet since the Phillips moved out. He missed the noise and coming home to an empty house had turned into a daily unpleasant experience. It was high time he settled down.
She opened the door and walked into the large office space. She sighted Eno seated in her cubicle and sighed with relief. She had been trying to see her all day, but, she had been tied up with one assignment or the other. She approached her desk and took the empty seat opposite her.
“Hey! Hi, hi,” Eno smiled at her.
“You have been scarce,” she eyed her.
Eno rested against her chair and sighed, “My madam has been on my neck.”
Misi crossed her legs and looked around her, “You are lucky.”
Eno rolled her eyes.
“Seriously, I work in an office with a bunch of guys who wear spectacles… at least, you have a better crowd.”
Eno let out a throaty laugh. She had been to the Accounts office a number of times. There were several unattractive bald guys who had their heads in their books and didn’t talk much.
“I thought there were three ladies in that office,” she grinned.
“Two of them to be precise,” Misi pouted.
“Plus you, that’s three.”
Misi folded her arms across her bosom and feigned sadness, “We need more women in that office.”
Eno reached out and patted her on the shoulder, “You will get used to it.”
Misi pressed her lips together and motioned at the pack of Pringles on the desk. Eno picked it up and passed it to her.
“Thanks,” she opened it and threw a few slices into her mouth, “Is your elder brother unavailable?”
Eno raised an eyebrow, “Which one of them?”
“The doctor,” she looked at her steadily.
Hazel eyes seized up curious brown ones, “Who wants to know?”
Eno’s interest increased, “Why do you want to know?”
“He is sort of indecisive,” her brown eyes darted away.
Eno drew her chair closer to the desk and focused her attention on her, “What do you mean?”
She sighed and closed the pack of Pringles, “He… he said it’s being a crazy period for him.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. Her brother rarely talked about his personal issues with people he hardly knew. Why did he open up to Misi?
“What does he mean?” she searched her face.
Eno looked away. She wouldn’t wish for a repeat of what her brother went through when the wedding was called off.
“I don’t quite get him,” she stressed.
“Why don’t you ask him?” Eno folded her arms against her chest.
Misi directed her gaze at the poster on the wall. She wasn’t ready to face him yet. The last time they met, things had gotten kind of heated.
Eno noticed the conflict in her brown eyes. Did something happen between them? “Do you like him?”
Misi turned her head her and met her eager gaze. She opened her mouth but no words came out. She closed it and turned away. Liking the doctor was an understatement. She was falling in love with him.
“You do like him, don’t you? I can see it in your eyes,” her hazel eyes brightened.
Misi didn’t respond. She shifted on the seat and cleared her throat.
“What exactly did he tell you?” Eno watched her. She could tell that something had transpired between her brother and her new friend.
Misi scratched a spot on her head, “He… we… I…” she bit at her lower lip. How does she explain the confusion she was immersed in?
“You can talk to me,” she tried to encourage her.
Misi bowed her head, clasped her hands and cleared her throat again, “I have been attracted to your brother since the day he rescued us from the angry crowd on his street.”
Eno listened attentively and observed her.
“My feelings grew each passing day. Initially, I thought it was because he helped us… but, later, I discovered that it was much stronger than
that,” she raised her head. She felt encouraged by the empathy in Eno’s eyes, “I know he likes me too, but, he… he is like… sort of restrained,
I don’t know.”
She nodded. Her brother had been hurt by his best friend and his ex. It would be hard to trust another with his heart.
“Some days ago, he visited us. The craziest thing happened,” Misi averted her eyes.
She narrowed her gaze, “What happened?”
Misi covered her face with a hand, “I kissed him.”
“Lord God Almighty!” Her eyes grew big in wonder.
Misi peeped through her hand, “He kissed me back and… and…”
“Aaaaaaah!” her scream attracted attention.
Misi looked around them. She became aware that some of her new friend’s colleagues were looking in their direction.
“Sorry…” Eno whispered.
Misi folded her arms across her chest and sighed.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” Eno fanned her face with a hand.
“We… I… the next thing I knew, we were in the bedroom,” she felt the need to tell her everything that had been eating her up for the past few days.
Eno covered her mouth with a hand and stifled the shriek that erupted from within her.
“We came back to our senses before… you know,” she looked away.
“My God… that is some chemistry,” she whistled.
Misi returned her gaze to her excited face.
“Bassey must really like you. As far back as I can remember, he is very principled. He doesn’t touch anyone he isn’t committed to. He doesn’t
sleep with anyone he isn’t prepared to marry, though, he doesn’t believe in sex before marriage. You, you are not even dating him and… and he is all over you,” she gave a shake of head in amazement.
“I have the same ideology.”
“Good for you,” Eno watched her.
“I don’t make out with every D–k and Harry I meet either.”
She chuckled, “He must really, really like you to have thrown caution into the wind and… and ate you all up.”
“He said he isn’t ready. Why?” a pained look took over her face.
“Hmmm…” she darted her eyes left, then right, “Why don’t you ask him?”
She sighed and scratched a spot on her brow, “I don’t know if I can face him…face the truth.”
Eno shrugged, “But, it is better you know what you are up against.”
She covered her face with both hands, “I don’t know.”
“What are you afraid of?”
She peeped through her hands and sighed heavily.
“I trust my brother. He knows how to exercise his self-control, even at the last second. “
Misi wrapped her hands around her body. She wasn’t convinced. The man that kissed her back the other night was far from exercising
self-control. It didn’t bother her, what she was concerned about was that, she might not be able to stop him the next time he touched her.
Eno smiled to herself. She was happy that her brother was falling for someone else. They had been afraid that he might not think of getting marriage in another five years. God had answered their prayers by bringing the Philips into their lives. Misi had broken the spell of depression upon his life. It was only a matter of time. He would be ready to settle down sooner than they had thought.

[nextpage title=”episode 10″]
Episode 10
His thoughts travelled while he washed the dishes in the sink. He liked weekends. It gave him enough time to recuperate after a tiring week. His nights had worsened after his intimate encounter with Misi. She tormented his dreams and while he was awake, she clouded his thoughts. It had been a while since the thought of a woman had harassed his mind. He heard the door bell ringing. He wiped his wet hands with a napkin, turned around and walked out of the kitchen. He hoped the person at the door wasn’t his neighbour’s daughter. She had kept him at arm’s length for the past few weeks. Many other men would have taken advantage of her, shattered her heart and rendered her body useless. Far be it from him to be reduced to such level. The bell kept ringing. He marched towards the front door, wondering who it was. He peeped through the hole in the door and gasped when he saw her. What was she doing at his place? He rested his head on the door and debated whether to ignore her or allow her in. He gritted his teeth and turned the key. He placed his hand on the door-knob and opened it slightly. His honey coloured eyes travelled over her slim curvy frame wrapped in a sky blue long fish tail dress. She looked like a princess with her brown shoulder length hair swept backwards. He felt like touching it. He lifted his eyes and met her intensed gaze.
“What are you doing here?” he sounded harsh.
The instant she saw him, her throat went dry and her desire for him magnified. She shouldn’t have come. Should she just turn around and return home or take the bulls by the horn and resolve the turmoil on her mind?
“What do you want?” he repeated. His heart throbbed at the sight of her.
She swallowed hard.
God give me strength.
He could sense the battle she fought within. Her eyes said it all. It was similar to the war that rage within him. She shouldn’t have come. She had just complicated things. He backed into the flat and tried to close the door.
Her eyes widened in surprise, “Wait!” she held the door-knob.
“Go home,” his stern tone wasn’t lost to her.
“Hold on,” she pleaded. She really wanted them to sit and iron things out.
“Why?” he eyed her.
“We… we need to talk.”
He shook his head, “I have got nothing to say to you,” he pushed the door, but, she held unto it.
“Bassey… please.”
“I am not ready for this… this thing between us…” he gave a shake of head.
His words cut through her heart. She felt pained.
“If I allow you in, I will sleep with you,” he said plainly, his words were devoid of emption.
She let go of the knob and stepped back. She just wanted to talk. She didn’t want to get sexually intimate with him.
“I will regret it, ask God for forgiveness, repent and it will significantly complicate things between us.”
She nodded with understanding and blinked back the tears that burned her eyes.
“A man can give you his body, but, not his heart.”
She searched his expressionless face. Why was he saying does things to her?
“I can sleep with you right now, but, it doesn’t mean that I love you, sex is not love. They are two different things. You ladies mix them up a
She turned away. The tears came. It pooled over her face, “I just… came… to talk,” her voice cracked.
He snorted, “That talk won’t happen. Our bodies are already on fire. If we start to talk in here and right now, our conversation will end in the
She started to walk away.
She ran down the stairway.
“Misi!” he hurried after her, clad in his boxers. He caught up with her and held her hand.
“Let me go,” she sobbed.
His chest tightened at the sight of her sad wet face.
“Let me go!” she snapped and yanked her hand back. She turned to leave, but he pulled her close and embraced her.
“I am sorry.”
“Leave me jo…” she started to cry.
“I am so sorry,” he held her tightly. Her softness melted into him, drugging his mind.
She kept on crying. He felt bad because he knew his words had wounded her. He had no choice; he need no choice; he needed to tell her the truth. He pulled away and led her up the stairs and into his apartment. They sat on a two settee and silence hovered over them. She brought out a handkerchief from her purse and dabbed her face with it.
“I dated a girl two years ago. We were supposed to get married, but, she called off the wedding.”
She glanced at him. His hands were clasped together and he stared at nothing in particular.
“My family and I visited her parents, but she refused to see us and we were chased out of their home.”
She rested against the chair and listened to him. She was happy that he was opening up to her.
“I found out that my childhood friend, my so called best friend had lied to her about me. She believed him. She didn’t even deem it fit to
confront me. They are now married and living happily ever after.”
She wanted to pat his back and console him, but thought against it.
“I have gotten over her. The wounds have healed, but, the scars have not completely faded away.”
She nodded with understanding.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” he glanced at her, “I don’t want to waste your time…” he took her by the hand, “I like you, I really do, but before
I can pursue a relationship with you, I need to sort myself out.”
She sighed with relief. All hope wasn’t lost. It would have been worse if he had rejected her completely.
“I am not going to ask you to wait for me,” he searched her eyes, “But, if you are sure that you want to get committed to me in the nearest future, please, be patient.”
She exhaled and smiled.
“If you can’t wait, you can as well accept any proposal that comes your way,” he felt distressed saying those words.
She looked into his eyes. Her heart yearned for him, her body craved for him; she was head over heels in love with him. She doubted if she would be able to date anyone else. She would wait for as long as it was necessary.
He stared back at her. He could see the answer in her eyes. Her feelings were out in the open. She had fallen for him. He sighed with relief and drew her close. He claimed her lips and trembled when she responded. She ran her hands through his short curly brown her and moaned at his touch.
“Bassey…” she came to her senses and pulled away, creating space between them.
He exhaled loudly and got to his feet.
“I think I should go home,” she got up too and avoided looking at him.
He came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her slim frame.
Her heart missed a beat, “What are you doing?”
He kissed the nape of her neck and ran his tongue along the smooth side.
“Please don’t,” her nerves were set on fire by his caress.
“You came to the lion’s den; don’t you know that you might get eaten?”
“Stop…” she shook him off and hurried to the door, “Good night,” she glanced back at him and hurried out, closing the door behind her.
He ran a hand through his hair and fanned his face with the other. A satisfied grin was pasted on his face.

[nextpage title=”episode 11″]
Chapter 11
Tomisin and his wife sneaked into the kitchen and stood by the doorway. Their daughter had been singing all day and she behaved as if she was walking on thin air. They found her dancing and cooking at the same time.
“Is she all right?” he nudged his wife on the shoulder.
“I think so,” she glanced back at him.
“You are a woman. What does your instinct tell you?”
She observed the girl. She noticed that her eyes twinkled with delight and a certain joy radiated through her. There were a million things that could make a woman to emit such feeling. The most common was love. She grinned and poked him.
“What?” Tomisin glanced at her.
“I think she is in love,” Tofunmi beamed.
He looked back at the girl and narrowed his gaze. She was actually acting like a love struck teenager.
“Is she dating anyone presently?”
“I am not sure. Her last boyfriend travelled out of the country.”
“Is he back?”
“I don’t know, maybe.”
He frowned at her, “Don’t you gist with her at all?”
She eyed him, “Yes, I do, but, she doesn’t tell me everything.”
“Maybe it is someone in her working place.”
She shrugged, “Maybe…”
“It is about time. She will turn twenty nine in May,” he turned around and returned to the sitting room.
She nodded in agreement. She had been praying that God would give her daughter a good husband.
“What or who has made my daughter so happy?” she approached the girl.
Misi turned around and found her mother in the kitchen. She thought she was alone. Her question replayed on her mind? What would she tell her? She didn’t think it was wise to open up to her, not until Bassey was ready for a serious commitment. No need getting her mother’s hopes up when she wasn’t sure how things would turn out eventually.
“Who is he?” Tofunmi searched her eyes.
She looked back at her and smiled, “He is someone I like a lot, and… and he likes me too.”
Tofunmi tried to hide her excitement and looked up at the ceiling.
Thank you Jesus.
“Things are not serious yet sha.”
“O-kay,” she dropped her head and returned her gaze, “But, he isn’t going to waste your time, is he?”
Misi chuckled and shook her head.
She heaved a sigh of relief and patted her on the shoulder, “Good. I am happy that you are happy.”
“Thanks mum.”
She noticed the way the young girl shone with joy. She prayed that everything would work out for her good.
Eno strode into the Accounts office. She found Misi at her desk, buried in a pile of files. Her shoulder length hair was in curls. It settled around her face in a half-pattern style. She made her way to her table and took a seat opposite her.
“Knock, knock.”
She raised her head and smiled, “Who is there?”
“Mr. Who.” Eno grinned.
She hissed, “Mr. Who ko, Mrs. Who ni.”
She started to laugh. She noticed that she had drawn attention. She cleared her throat and leaned forward, “I forgot that I was in the ‘No
noise allowed’ office.”
Misi giggled.
“Howdy, howdy?” Eno winked at her.
“So, so,” she closed the file in front of her.
“What about our last discussion?” she imitated a French accent.
She tried not to laugh, “We talked.”
“And?” her curious eyes stayed glued on her chocolate brown face.
She punched her on the shoulder.
“Ouch! What was that for?” Eno eyed her.
Misi stuck out her tongue at her.
“I thought you had lady-like attitude.”
She rolled her eyes.
“When did you become a tom-boy?” Eno rubbed her shoulder.
“Since I met you,” she eyed her.
“Heavens no! That kind of influence is definitely not from me.”
She giggled again. Eno watched her with narrowed eyes. She seemed different. She was much more relaxed and happy than the last time they spoke.
“Am I going to beg for info?”
She nodded and grinned.
“Come on Misi.”
“Okay, okay. I went to his place and we talked.”
“And?” she yearned for news.
“He likes me, I like him, in the nearest future, it will blossom into something much more serious.”
“Beautiful…” her eyes twinkled, “If all goes well, you are going to be my sister-in-law before the end of the year.”
She nodded in agreement. She and Eno had gotten pretty close. It would be nice to have her as an in-law. She punched her on the shoulder
Bassey lay on his bed and browsed through his iphone. He read his new emails, text messages, BBM and Whatsapp chats. He replied some and ignored a few. Her image flashed through his mind’s eye. A smile crossed his face. He searched for her number on his contact list and dialed it. She picked the call after it rang twice.
“Hello,” her voice flooded him with warmth.
“How are you doing?”
“Am good,” she sounded happy.
“You have completely taken over my thoughts.”
He heard her giggle.
“Everywhere I go; I see your face…”
There was no response.
“Misi… are you still there?”
“Yes…” she whispered.
“You are taking pieces of my heart with each passing day.”
She let out a loud breath.
“It is becoming clear to me that I won’t be able to live without you.”
He heard her gasp.
“I want to see you.”
“Will you come over after work tomorrow?”
“Come to my place tomorrow evening.”
“I don’t think that is a good idea.”
He turned on his side, “Really? I won’t bite,” a sly smile spread over his lips.
“I don’t trust… alone with you… bad idea.”
He started to laugh.
“Why don’t you come over to my place?”
“Do you think your place is safer than mine?”
“Yes,” she sounded confident.
“It didn’t stop us… you know… that night,” the first time they kissed replayed on his mind. He closed his eyes and pressed his lips together.
“Don’t remind me,” her tensed tone wasn’t lost to him.
He opened his eyes and sighed.
“You can come when my parents return from work.”
“I want to see you tomorrow.”
“Okay, okay, I will come to your office, when I close from work.”
“When do you close?”
“I will wait for you.”
“I miss you,” her soft whisper re-echoed in his head.
“I wish I can see you right now.”
“Me too,” she sighed.
He sat up, “I am coming over.”
“What?! No! It’s late.”
“It’s just past ten.”
“It is ten-thirty.”
“I stay in G.R.A, remember? It’s just a ten minutes drive to your place.”
“Bad idea.”
“I live with my parents.”
“Old news. I am coming over.”
“We will sit in my car outside your house.”
“Bad idea.”
He lay back on the bed, “All right. See you tomorrow then.”
“Good night Princess,” he hung up. He wished he could see her that night. She was right. It was late. He would wait for the next day, although it seemed so far away.

[nextpage title=”episode 12”]
Episode 12(final episode)
Sikemi hurried into the nurses’ office. They were both dozing at their desks. She shook them awake and leaned on one of the tables.
“Why are you both sleeping? It is almost time to call it a day.”
Ibinabo stretched out her hands and yawned. Adanne scratched a spot on her creamy brown skin, then her scalp and her neck.
“What if Dr. Bassey had walked in here?”
Ibinabo closed and opened her eyes. It was a good thing that the weekend was fast approaching. It had been a tedious week. She wished
she could ask for a few days leave period.
Adanne eyed the receptionist, “Why did you wake me? I was having a very good dream.”
Sikemi hissed, “You are not serious,” she shifted a set of files from the edge of the table and sat down.
Ibinabo giggled.
“Oga has a visitor.”
“So? Does that buy me dinner tonight?” Adanne placed her head on the receptionist’s laps.
“Carry your head jo,” she tried to push the nurse’s head, “The lady has never been here before. The doctor was ecstatic when she arrived.”
Adanne raised her head and glanced at the other nurse who looked back at her, curiousity had taken over her face.
“She is quiet pretty; on the slim side… they have been chatting, laughing and eating for over an hour.”
“Why are you just telling us now?” Adanne sat up straight.
Ibinabo wondered who the visitor was. The doctor rarely entertained guests. Was he dating again? She turned pale. She had tried to gain his
attention a number of times, but, he seemed immune to all her body language and gimmicks.
“I want to go and see who my competition is,” Adanne got up and headed out.
Sikemi started to laugh. She clapped her hands and got up, “Your friend is crazy. I have given up on the doctor a long time ago,” she turned
to the other nurse.
Ibinabo shrugged. Should she also give up on the doctor? He might never see her as more than his employee. It was high time she set her
sights on someone else. The Accountant was a bit shorter than she was and Dr. Sylvester was too tall. Maybe her husband was out there. She needed to find him, she wasn’t getting any younger. She placed her head on the desk. She was eager to hear what Adanne had discovered. The outcome would be hilarious.
Sikemi hurried after the crazy nurse and stopped her before she could badge into their boss’ office.
“Let go!” Adanne pushed her.
“You will only make a fool of yourself,” Sikemi cautioned her.
“Let me go this minute,” she eyed her.
“Suit yourself,” she dropped her hand and walked away.
Adanne stared at the door for a while. She changed her mind and returned to her office. They all had a crush on the doctor, but he was someone they would never get to date.
Bassey pushed away the empty bowl. He placed a hand on his tummy and belched. Misi giggled. She was also feeling very full. She had prepared pounded yam and melon soup when she returned home from work that evening. She brought some for the doctor and he had wiped the bowls clean without remaining any morsel of food. She didn’t understand why men go without food, especially when they were at work. If she missed breakfast and went to work, she would be tired and cranky till lunch time. It was the reason why she kept biscuits, chocolates and candies in one of her drawers at work.
“Thank you for feeding me,” he rested against the chair and loosened two buttons on his white long sleeve shirt.
“You are welcome,” she was pleased that he enjoyed the meal.
“Come and sit here,” he tapped his laps and winked at her.
“We are in your office,” she looked around her.
She shook her head and folded her hands across her chest.
“Come here,” he narrowed his gaze.
She leaned against the settee adjacent to the desk and looked away.
“If I get up…” he leaned forward.
“Leave me jo.”
“You don’t know what you are missing,” he rested the back of his head on his palms.
“Ehn… whatever.”
He laughed lightly and watched her from the corner of his eyes. He was happy that she showed up. He had missed her. He had been doing a lot of thinking. He would be clocking thirty-six in May and would like to get married around that time. God had brought her into his life at the perfect timing. There was no one else he would rather spend his life with than her. He would bid his time before confessing to her how much he had grown to love her.
She turned her head and caught him staring at her. What was he thinking about? He had been giving her different kinds of looks since she arrived. At times, she felt self-conscious.
Somebody knocked. He blinked and looked towards the door. The receptionist opened the door and stepped in.
“I am sorry sir…” she looked from him to his guest, and back at him, “Em… someone is here to see you.”
“I am heading home soon, if it is a patient, send the person to Dr. Sylvester or tell the person to come back tomorrow,” he instructed her.
She swallowed hard and took a few steps forward, “Sir…”
“What?” he raised an eyebrow.
“Mrs. Lovejoy Edet is here to see you.”
He sat up straight. Several thoughts ran through his mind, “Let her in,” he stood up.
“Okay sir,” she retraced her steps and closed the door behind her.
Misi noticed the sudden change in his facial expression and wondered who the visitor was.
The door swung open and a tall, fair lady in a blue jean which aligned her curvy frame and a fitted chiffon blouse, revealing a chunk of her cleavage, sauntered in.
“I didn’t know that you had a visitor,” Lovejoy glanced at the lady seated at a corner and directed her gaze at him.
“What can I do for you?” he seized her up.
She settled on one of the chairs opposite the desk, “I need to talk to you, alone.”
He looked down at her, “I am listening.”
Lovejoy glanced back at the lady. Who was she to him?
Misi met her curious gaze. She didn’t like the visitor one bit.
“Is your husband aware that you are here?” he sat back on his seat.
“What?” she looked back at him, she didn’t hear what he said.
“What are you doing here?” he crossed his fingers and placed them on the table.
Lovejoy eyed him. Why was he so unfriendly? The man she knew two years ago wouldn’t treat her that way. She noticed the empty bowls on
the table and glanced back at the visitor. What was her relationship with him?
“I will call your husband if you don’t get to the point,” he picked up his phone.
She gave him a steady look, “We need to talk.”
Misi got to her feet. She was uncomfortable. She didn’t want to be at the centre of the brewing dispute.
“Where are you going?” he looked in her direction.
She met his angry stare. She sat back on the settee and faced the window.
“Bassey… please,” her hazel eyes smarted with tears.
“Lovejoy, what do you want?” he glanced back at her.
“I made a mistake. I should have confronted you with Stephen’s accusations. I… I… I should have…”
“It is all in the past,” he cut in.
“He lied to me,” tears rolled down her fair face.
“You are married to him now,” he sighed heavily.
She shook her head, “I am going to ask for a divorce.”
He frowned, “Don’t complicate issues.”
“I can’t live with a liar!” she snapped.
“You made your bed; you have to lie on it,” he felt little or no pity for her.
She gave a shake of head.
“For what it is worth, he loves you. He fought hard to make you his wife.”
“Crap,” she took out a handkerchief from her bag and dabbed at her wet face.
He grinned, “He truly loves you, turning you against me was the only way he could get your attention.”
She eyed him, “I can’t believe that you are defending him, after… after what he did to you.”
He ran a hand through his curls, “I am not defending him. I have known him for… look; you mean a lot to him, which was why he did what he
had to do…”
“I don’t care anymore!” she lashed out.
He eyed her, “You have to care.”
“No, I don’t. I will divorce him and… and…”
“And then what?” he searched her face.
Their gazes locked.
She leaned towards him, “We… we can start over.”
“Have you lost your mind?”
“Totally,” she smiled at him.
He creased his brows in a frown, “You are confused. You need help.”
Misi tried hard not to listen to their conversation, but she heard everything. The woman that had hurt him wanted a second chance. Did she
realize how long it took him to get over her and start afresh? Why do some women think they could eat their cake and have it back?
Lovejoy was beginning to feel exasperated, “Don’t you get it? I should never have left you… I need you now…” she placed a hand on her forehead.
“Go home to your husband,” he folded his arms across his chest.
“I am sorry for hurting you; I know that you still love me… I still…” her eyes shone with interest.
“You don’t know anything,” his stern voice silenced her, “Let me get the records straight, my love for you died a premature death the day
your parents threw us out of their home.”
She closed her eyes, “I am sorry,” she remembered that day vividly.
“It has been over between us for more than two years,” his honey coloured eyes flashed with annoyance.
“We can start over,” she opened her eyes. She was pretty sure that they could pick up from where they left off.
“Haven’t you heard a word I said?” his anger brewed.
“Bassey, please,” she clasped her hands, hoping against hope that he would listen to her. She was sure that someone where in his heart, he
still felt something for her.
“I have gotten over you. I have completely purged you out of my system. There is no turning back,” his words were laced with truth.
She began to cry. She had not contemplated his rejection. She thought she could divorce Stephen, kick-off her relationship with him and spend the rest of her life with him.
“I have moved on and I am very happy. I have found the love of my life and we are ecstatic.”
Lovejoy stared back at him, visibly shaken and distraught. If he had truly fallen for someone else, she had definitely lost him forever.
“Misi, come here,” he beckoned at her.
Her heart quickened. When she heard him say that he had found the love of his life, was he referring to her? He had never told her that he
loved her.
She rose and caught a glimpse of him behind the desk. He was smiling at her. She circled the desk and walked over to his side. He got up and drew her close. He held her by the waist and turned to his ex who stared at them in disbelief.
“Meet the love of my life, Oluwagbemisola Philips.
The lady glared at her. Misi smiled at her in return.
“Go home and sort things out with your husband. Don’t be quick to leave him. If you didn’t love him, you wouldn’t have married him.”
She sniffled, picked up her bag, got up and walked out without saying another word.
“I have a confession to make,” he wrapped his hands around her.
She stared back at him in anticipation.
“These past few months, I have grown to love you. You have become like a drug and I am addicted to you. I don’t think I will be able to live without you. I love you.”
His words felt like a soothing balm on her aching heart. She had been waiting for him to say those words to her. Her patience had been rewarded.
“I love you too,” she looked deep into his eyes.
He bent his head and claimed her lips. She kissed him back, marching his intensity. He pulled away and stared into her glittering brown eyes.
“I thought of getting married in May, but, I don’t think I can wait that long.”
She blinked. A wedding? What was he talking about?
“Will you marry me?”
Her brown eyes amplified in astonishment. She thought he wanted to take things slow. She couldn’t believe that he was proposing to her that very moment. It was a dream come true.
“Yes,” she raised the corners of her mouth.
He searched her eyes, his heart was filled with love, satisfaction and joy, “You are mine.”
She giggled, “Am all yours,” she pulled down his head and kissed him.
The End