CHAPTER TWENTYChike returned to Lagos mid-September. His school had already resumed and he was now in his fourth year. The thought that he would be gr
Chike returned to Lagos mid-September. His school had already resumed and he was now in his fourth year. The thought that he would be graduating the following year made him very happy. He made a lot of money while working for his uncle during the long holiday. He would be able to take care of himself till he returned home for the Christmas holiday.
He missed Bukky. The fact that she was in a relationship with another made him to feel pained. He wished she was his. He hoped the distance he created between them had given her a different perspective about things. He believed that she would think twice before pushing him away next time.
He didn’t pick her calls or replies her text messages because he was trying to prove a point, but, he wondered if he had taken it too far. What if she doesn’t want to speak with him again? He decided to visit her as soon as he was done parking and cleaning his apartment. The thought of seeing her flooded him with joy. He wished he could fly to her place that very moment.
Kike informed her niece that she was heading to church for a women’s programme. On her way out of the building, she met Chike walking in. They exchanged greetings and she went her way, wondering how many men was in her niece’s life. She knew about her affair with their neighbour’s first son. Who was Chike to her? Was she dating two people at the same time? She hoped the girl wasn’t playing games. At thirty-six, she was still single and understood how messy things could get. She made mistakes in her last relationship. She dated three men at the same time and while trying to decide who to spend the rest of her life with, they all discovered her folly and broke up with her. She prayed that her elder sister’s daughter wouldn’t make the same mistake. It was hard to find good men. Most of them were married.
Chike stood by the door and knocked thrice. Bukky opened the door and gasped when she saw him. She had no idea that he was back in town.
“Can I come in?” he seized her up. The slim black beauty had on a pink short-sleeve, knee-length skirt and a white sleeveless blouse.
Her cleavage was in full view due to the V-shape of the neckline and her n—–s pressed against the fabric. He could tell that she wasn’t putting on a bra. He tore his eyes away and concentrated on her hair. The wine and gold shoulder length wavy weave-on was in a half-pattern style. It made her pretty dark eyes to twinkle.
She was shocked to find him at her doorstep. She thought he was still upset with her. After all, he alienated her when he travelled home. “Please come in,” she stepped back into the room.
Chike walked in and sat on the two settee. Bukky shut the door and settled on a plastic chair, an arms- length away from the settee.
“How have you been?” his dark brown eyes observed her.
“I am…” she cleared her throat, “Fine… and you?”
“I am good. I just got back, a few hours ago.”
“Oh…” her dark eyes settled on his calm face.
“I bought you a birthday gift,” he showed her a wrapped box.
She stared at the gift, then back at him. It would be an understatement to say that she was surprised.
“Happy birthday,” he smiled at her.
“Thank you,” she reached out and collected the box. What was in it?
He leaned against the chair and turned towards the television. It was on the Zee World channel.
Bukky unwrapped the box, tore it open and brought out a Nokia Express Music phone. Her eyes widened in shock and delight. She had
been saving to get a camera phone, but, ended up spending the money to pay one bill or the other.
“Thank you,” she directed her excited gaze at him.
He glanced at her, “You are welcome,” their gazes locked, “I missed you.”
She swallowed hard, “You… you didn’t pick my calls.”
He sighed heavily, “I missed you so much that it hurt.”
She blinked back the unshed tears, “You didn’t reply my messages.”
“It’s so good to see you.”
“You didn’t even tell me when you left.”
The sadness in her eyes gnawed at him. “I am so sorry.”
She dropped her gaze. She didn’t want to cry, but, she was overwhelmed with emotions she had been keeping in check for months.
He got up, walked to her side and pulled her up to her feet. “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he wrapped his arms around her.
She buried her face against his chest. The warmth of his nearness soothed her aching heart. “I missed you too,” she whispered.
Her words warmed his heart. He felt elated. “I missed you more. I owe you a birthday outing”
She raised her head and looked into his smiling eyes.
“Where do you want to go?”
She shrugged, “I don’t know.”
“I have money. A lot of money. Just say the word, anything and your wish is my command.”
She chuckled and just looked at him. She was glad that her friend was back.
“My uncle paid me handsomely during the holidays. I am going to take care of you. Thank God that your boyfriend has gone back to school. I will have you all to myself,” he winked at her.
She dropped her gaze and sighed heavily.
“What is it?” he could sense that something was wrong.
“We… we broke up,” she looked up at him.
“You what?!” shock and relief flooded his veins, “When? Why? How?” a thousand thoughts ran through his mind.
“Several weeks ago.”
He frowned, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
She eyed him, “I tried. You were avoiding me.”
He scratched a spot on his head. He couldn’t believe that she was finally available. “What happened?”
“We… we couldn’t agree on a lot of things.”
“I see,” he kept on looking at her.
She pulled away and sat on the settee. He joined her, eager for news.
“He… he didn’t want to leave s-x out of our relationship and I wanted to honour God with my body.”
Chike shook his head in disappointment.
“He used to see things my way, but, overtime, I don’t know,” she bit at her lower lip.
“He is not serious. He needs serious beating, honest.”
She heard the anger in his voice. She leaned against the chair and faced the television.
He smiled with relief. He would give her time to get over her ex-boyfriend, then ask her out when the time was right.
“I passed my Common Entrance Examinations,” she glanced at him.
“Good, great. Congratulations!”
“Thanks,” she smiled back at him.
“Have you been given your First School Leaving Certificate?”
She nodded quickly, “Yes.”
“Cool. Now, no one dares call you an illiterate.”
She started to laugh.
“I have to run.”
She blinked, “Now?”
“Yes, darling,” he got up.
“But, you just got here,” she got to her feet.
“I need to clean my apartment. Everywhere is dusty. I can’t sleep like that.”
She crossed her arms against her chest.
“I will take you out this weekend, okay?”
“O-kay,” she wished he didn’t have to leave so soon.
He stared directly into her eyes and felt like drawing her close and kissing her. He erased the thought from his mind and started towards the door.
“I will call you when I am through. We can stroll to that Mallam’s place and get suya.”
“Okay,” she followed him to the door and they both walked out of the room.
Gbemiga sat on his bed in his off campus hostel, pondering over his life. His grades at school were okay, but, his relationship with God had gone downhill. He didn’t even recognize himself anymore. He had been lured back to his old habits since he broke up with his ex-girlfriend. He was drinking again and he went to the club almost every Friday night. He had lost count of the series of one night stands he had indulged in, in the past few months. He wasn’t happy and he wanted out. His parents and siblings were looking up to him. He couldn’t afford to smear the family’s name with mud and bring them shame.
He clasped his hands together and closed his eyes. He began to ask God for forgiveness and mercy. He re-dedicated his life to Jesus and promised to live for his savior henceforth. He thanked God for accepting him back, regardless of his reckless living. He ended the prayer and opened his eyes. Amazingly, he felt better. It was as if a huge burden had been lifted off his shoulders. He decided to talk to God more often and pray daily.
He lay on his side and thought of Bukky. He admired her stance to do things God’s way. He regretted the way he treated her and wished he had not deflowered her. Was it possible for her to forgive him and take him back? He still had feelings for her. Even after dating a few other girls, his affection for her never faded. He sighed heavily and closed his eyes.
God, please give me a second chance with Bukky.
Chike and Bukky sat on the leather chair, watching a movie. There was a bowl of popcorn on the stool in front of the chair and a pack of fruit juice. He turned towards her and grinned from ear to ear. He was counting down on the day he would finally ask her out and he was sure that her answer was going to be yes.
“Why don’t you come with me to Owerri for the Christmas holiday?”
She looked at him quickly, surprise written all over her face.
“Come and spend the holiday with my family.”
She blinked and stared at him. Was he serious?
“It will be fun. I will take you on a tour to all my favourite places in Owerri.”
She turned away. She wasn’t sure how his family would see her. Their son was almost a graduate and all she had was her First School Leaving Certificate. The thought that they might not approve their friendship scared her.
“Maybe next year.”
“Come on, please. I promise you a blast,” he tried to convince her.
“Em… I am thinking of visiting my parents. I haven’t seen my siblings like forever. I want to spend time with them this Christmas.”
He rolled his eyes. “Excuses, excuses, excuses. Do you know how much I am going to miss you?”
She sighed, “Then stay with me in Lagos.”
He gave a shake of head, “Owerri is much more exciting than Lagos during the festive period. Lagos will be too boring for me.”
She rolled her eyes.
“You are the only fun-thing for me around here. You make Lagos liveable.”
The intensity of his stare made her look away.
“Can I kiss you now? At least, you are now available and single.”
“Stop it! Why do you like expensive jokes?” she eyed him.
“Who is joking?” his firm gaze remained on her face.
She raised an eyebrow and stared back at him,
“I like you, you like me. The only thing stopping me from asking you out is the fact that I am waiting for you to completely get over your ex.”
Her jaw dropped in amazement.
“It’s being three months plus. How long do I need to wait?”
She closed her mouth and dropped her gaze. Was she ready to start a new relationship? Was she completely over her ex? She really liked Chike and wished she met him before she started dating Gbemiga.
“Your silence said it all. You need more time,” he returned his attention to the television.
She raised her head and stared at him. He turned his head and met her intense gaze. She looked away quickly.
“I will be travelling on the twenty-second.”
“That’s three days away,” she turned to look at him.
She paled. She was really going to miss him.
“Come with me.”
“I will see you off to the park.”
He hissed, “It is either you follow me to Owerri or nowhere else.”
“What’s doing you sef?” she eyed him.
“Owerri, yes?” he battered his lashes at her.
“No,” she folded her arms across her chest.
“Fine. Next year is not that far away,” he picked up the pack of juice and drained the content.
“Why did you finish it?”
He dropped the empty pack on the stool. “Go and carry another one.”
She hissed, “But, you know I like that flavor.”
“Bukky, abeg, free me,” he leaned against the chair and stretched out.
“Fine, watch the movie all by yourself. I am going home,” she got up abruptly.
“Where do you think you are going?”
“Home,” hands on her hips.
“After eating my popcorn and drinking my juice?”
She hissed, “You finished the juice.”
“You better sit down before I go and buy koboko for you.”
She hissed again and put on her slippers.
“If you want to leave, you better vomit everything you have eaten.”
“You are unwell.”
“Really? I will show you how unwell I am.”
The next thing she knew, Chike grabbed her by the waist and forced her to sit on the chair.
“Chike! Leave me! Let me go this minute!”
“Start vomiting my food, now!”
He started to tickle her. She tried to run, but, didn’t get far. She fell on the bed, and he pinned her down with his weight.
“I give up.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I give up. Let me go.”
“Chike Nwosu please o, biko o, I am sorry. I am not going anywhere. I am staying right here with you.”
He chuckled and smiled at her.
“Oya get up,” she became aware of their awkward position.
“I wish you can come home with me.”
“I don’t want to go.”
“Maybe I will throw you into one of my suitcases and carry you off to Owerri.”
She started to laugh, “Kidnapper mode activated.”
He began to laugh too. Their gazes locked. The urge to kiss her overwhelmed him. The desire in his eyes made her heart beat to accelerate. It mirrored her exact frame of mind.
“I think you should go.”
She blinked in confusion.
“I will see you off.”
She stared back at him. She could bet on every penny in her bank account that he was going to kiss her a moment ago. What changed his mind?
“I will never take what is not fully mine,” his whisper flooded her ears, “I cannot take what has not been freely given.”
She swallowed hard. Her heart hammered against her chest, deafening her ears. “Kiss me.”
His eyes widened in surprise.
“I want you to kiss me.”
He parted his lips then pressed it together. “I don’t want to start what I am not willing to finish. When we start dating, then, I will kiss you.”
She blinked away her disappointment.
“Even then, I cannot go beyond kissing you. I will honour God in our relationship.”
She smiled happily, “I will have it no other way.”
“Perfecto,” he pecked her on the forehead and got up quickly.
Bukky lay on the bed and sighed with relief. Chike was simply God-sent to her. What was she going to do without him?