ELEVEN YEARS AGO
“Ah! Oga Mope, how I dey?” Aliyu greeted on opening the gate for Mofe to go into the compound. “I get work I go do for house today?”
“No Aliyu, I’m here to see Ezinne.” He replied, he had to be somewhere soon so this meeting would be brief but he was still feeling good that he could see her for just a few minutes.
The gateman raised a brow “Small Madam?” He asked to be sure as if there was some other madam anywhere.
“Yes,” He replied trying not to let his irritation show.
“Oga Mope, I get something I wan’ gip am?” he asked again, his eyes going to his laptop backpack on his back.
“ Aliyu, why all these questions?” He snapped, when had he become Ezinne’s personal bodyguard to be quizzing him this way?
“Sorry Oga Mope, make I no vex. I just wan know na why I ask, make I call go call am?” He apologized quickly, about making for the main house but Mofe signaled him to return.
“No need, she’s coming already,” He pointed, seeing Ezinne walking down in a yellow tank top and jean shorts, showing off her smooth creamy legs. She was expecting him as he had called her before coming over. He needed her to approve the new splash screen he had designed for her.
This wasn’t the first time they would be hanging out, working on her project but Mofe knew Aliyu was just being nosy, trying to figure what business he had with the General’s daughter that had them meeting quite often these days. Well too bad, but he didn’t plan on telling him anything, it wasn’t exactly his business anyway.
Ezinne broke into a dazzling smile on seeing him and he unconsciously let loose his own dentition, she was breath taking as usual, long hair blowing lightly in the light breeze as she came towards him.
“Hi Mofe, come, let’s go to the back.” She told him leading the way to the gazebo behind the house.
“Alright,” he said giving the nosy Aliyu who was watching them, a last look before following.
It had been a week since he had begun work on her project and everyday they found some time to meet in order to go through the changes he had made. Her project was the design and implementation of an online student result management system for secondary schools. So far she had been open to the corrections he had made to her work. Her research and the materials she had provided were really good and he was using the information to make her design more efficient and less bulky. He had reduced her twelve modules she had created into just five, it was less complicated and people would find it easy to learn and use.
“So, I wanted to ask,” he began as they were at the gazebo now, she sat on the bench while he took the space beside her, opening his back pack to retrieve the notebook PC. “Is it that when a teacher records a student’s score for an assignment or a test, the report goes straight to the parent’s account?”
She nodded “Yeah, that was how I designed it.”
“Okay…. But don’t you think it would be bulky and annoying receiving one’s kids reports everyday?”
“Annoying?” She asked bursting into a laugh at the unexpected question “I just imagined the parents being really interested in their kid’s school work, I didn’t look at it that way……. But thinking about it now, I think you have a point, it could really become annoying receiving alerts for every school work.” She had a thoughtful look now, even though the smile was still on her lips.
“Yeah,” he was smiling without even knowing it, he loved the sound of her laughter “so instead, can we make these reports weekly? The system will compile the weekly results from tests, classwork and home assignments for the week and then send it to their parents at the end of the week, Friday?”
“hmmm,” she inclined her head to the side, still in thought, she didn’t think for long “Sounds good, I think. I hadn’t considered that at all, no wonder they call you Bill Gates, you do try to cover everything, don’t you?”
He shrugged, the compliment doing wonders to his mind but he kept a straight face, “Well, I do try to impress.”
She rewarded his modesty with a heart wrenching smile, her eyes dancing mischievously, “so you redesigned my splash screen, I still think mine would look better.”
He laughed, wait till she saw what he’d done with the splash screen “Lets hope you’ll still feel that way about yours after you see mine,” he said, opening the documents folder and retrieving the splash screen he’d just designed that morning. He was really confident she would prefer his, hers had been quite boring but he wouldn’t tell her that to her face.
“Wow,” She whispered, “it looks …” flashing him an awed glance before looking back at the screen, her large eyes growing even larger, “it looks so good, much better than anything I had in mind, where did you get these pictures?”
“Duh? Free stock photos of course,” He joked and she playfully punched him on the arm, it happened reflexively and she didn’t even know what she’d just done but Mofe knew. In the one week they had worked together she had been nothing less than friendly, smiled when he joked but this was the first time she was initiating playful body contact as she’d just done, it was a little gesture but for him it was a lot. It gave him some hope that maybe, just maybe there might be a chance for true friendship between them, not just work bringing them together.
He watched her silently as she studied the design on the screen, taking in the tiny details of her face, the perfectly arched eyebrows, large brown eyes slightly tilted up at the corners, framed by long dark lashes, an aquiline nose, slightly long but delicately flared at the nostrils, her
lips unconsciously parted as she stared awe struck at the laptop screen, then the curve of her slender neck and the way her long dark hair, draped down, lightly caressing her shoulders.
He shook himself, ‘Mofe, you are one overly whipped sucker,’ he told himself snapping back to reality.
She turned to him, her eyes shining with pleasure “I love it! Seriously, I should just leave you to handle everything, because you sure do know what you’re doing.”
He smiled again, feeling good at her positive response and approval of his work, if only she knew how long and hard he had worked to get it all looking this good. His cousin, Eric had been disapproving, he didn’t understand why Mofe wasted his time helping her because he felt Ezinne wouldn’t appreciate his time he was putting into it. Eric didn’t know Ezinne the way he did, what he and everyone saw was just her flashy exterior. Mofe had seen some glimpses of the inner her and what he’d seen only deepened his feelings for her. She was quite spoiled but she wasn’t the bratty diva type, he knew.
She did appreciate his work and never missed a chance in telling him how she felt.
“What’s that on your wrist?” She suddenly asked pointing to the dark patch of skin on his right hand that he’d been born with.
“Err.. it’s a birth mark.” He replied, looking down at the ugly looking scar.
“Wow, it looks like a burn scar.”
“Yeah, it’s a family thing.”
She then looked up at him with another of her smiles “Well, guess you’re not all that perfect after all.”
He would have laughed at the joke, if he hadn’t been taken aback by it, she actually thought him perfect, did that mean she found him attractive? He couldn’t ponder much on the thought as they were interrupted by some commotion at the gates dragged both their attention.
He heard a male’s voice, yelling at the top of his lungs some obscenities that one should really not call out in public, he saw Ezinne shake her head and he had a feeling of who it might be, her boyfriend.
“Your boyfriend?” He ventured.
“Ex!” She corrected him quickly, “ex boyfriend.”
She got up, “Well, I guess that’s it for today,”
“Yeah,” He said a bit saddened at the thought of leaving, he wouldn’t have minded secretly ogling her some more but he began putting his things together.
The boyfriend was yelling at the gate, probably at poor nosy Aliyu.
“Please excuse me, I need to take care of this,” She said rushing off in the direction of the gate, he didn’t blame her, the ex sounded royally pissed and if he wasn’t calmed soon, Aliyu and his gate might not be enough to keep him out.
‘What did she have to do, for Ekene to get it she was over and done with him?’ Ezinne wondered as she hurried down to the front gate before Ekene unleashed his frustration on poor Aliyu whom she had instructed since the past week not to let him in at any time. The poor security man had done his job well so far as this wasn’t the first time Ekene had been at her house since the break up.
Aliyu was out side the gate house, standing beside the locked gate with a helpless look on his features as Ekene hauled insults and derogatory remarks his way, Ezinne intervened.
“Yes, Ekene, What do you want here?” She asked. She couldn’t see him as the gates were large and between them. There was a small peephole and Aliyu was standing beside it, not that she needed to look at who she was talking to anyway.
“Baby, Ezinne, please let me come in, it’s been a week now, haven’t you calmed down a bit? I am really sorry babe, I regret my actions, why don’t we just move on from this, it will never happen again, I promise you.”
She didn’t believe him one bit, he had comfortably cheated on her for a long time, he wasn’t going to drop it all just because she’d caught him. He would only be more careful.
“What are you sorry about, Kene? That you got caught? Please just leave, there’s no point in you being here, we are done!”
“Baby, please …. please let me in and let’s talk it over, please now?”
“Not happening Ekene, I have nothing to say, just go!”
“I am not leaving here today until you open this gate! I will camp out here if I have to!”
“Okay, well it’s obvious you’re jobless, suit yourself please!” She told him, turning to go back in the house only to bump into the hard mass that was Mofe’s chest. She hadn’t known he’d been just behind her, his hands came up to her shoulders, steadying her. She had totally forgotten him, how was he going to leave with Ekene out there?
“Sorry, you okay?” He asked as he dropped his hands.
“yeah,” She muttered now steadied.
“How am I going to leave without him coming in?” He asked no one in particular, looking at the locked gate.
She groaned knowing there was no way around it, Ekene was in luck today, and finally he would get what he desired.
“Guess he’s going to be coming in then,” she said resignedly.
“I could hang around for a bit……” He began but she cut him off.
“No, please, I can’t keep you longer than necessary because I don’t want to see him, I always knew sooner or later I would have to face him, guess that day is today after all,” She sighed, shaking her head “Lord help me,”
She walked to the gate, “Aliyu, open it,”
A perplexed Aliyu did as he was told, unlocking it and pulling it open for her. Stepping outside, she saw Ekene with his back resting on his car, arms folded and looking none too pleased. He jumped off the car on seeing her, taking off his ray bans as if the glasses were making him see unreal things.
“Ezinne… princess,” he rushed toward her arms outstretched like he was coming for a hug.
Was he out of his mind, she stretched a hand holding him off “Are you for real? You expect me to give you a hug?”
“I …. I just thought since you opened the gate, maybe you had reconsidered.” He stammered.
Ezinne couldn’t believe this guy
“Reconsider what? Ekene, I came out here to tell you to your face that we are done, get it? We are done, or should I go slower so you can read my lips?”
“Ezinne, you and I can’t ever be done, I admit what I did was wrong but why can’t you forgive me?”
“Forgive you?” She gasped “I knew there was something off for months, but you kept lying to cover up your tracks and kept on with your girlfriends. You had enough time to end those relationships without me ever finding out, but it had to take me finding out before you decide to change. I don’t buy it, Ekene, you don’t fool me at all.”
Mofe had just come through the gate and was making his way to where he stayed next door, when Ekene’s gaze trailed him.
“Who’s that?” he asked her
“Are you even listening to me, Kene?” She raised her voice appalled at him
“I said who is he?” he raised his voice now also “Is he the one you are creeping with now, my replacement?”
Ezinne frowned confused at how he could have even thought about something like that “What are you talking about?”
“Who was the guy who just left your house, is he the reason you’ve been so headstrong?”
“You know what? There’s just no point with you, you wrote the book on creeping around, so I’m sure you know everything there is to know on the subject. I don’t have the time or patience for this rubbish!” She spat turning around, leaving for the house, when he grabbed her arm tightly, pulling her back a bit roughly.
“Owww,” she complained. “What are you doing?”
“You are not going anywhere till you tell me who he is!” Ekene ordered.
“Oga Ekene, abeg, make I leap s’mall madam hand-“
“Will you shut up?”
Aliyu gulped shutting up. Ezinne had had enough of this nonsense, she tried jerking her arm but he held on even tighter now really hurting her.
“Owww, Ekene you’re hurting me,”
“You aren’t leaving until you tell me what that guy was here for?”
“Don’t you know him? That’s Mofe, the guy who does stuff around the house, now leave my hand, you brute!”
Ekene was still holding on, looking her in the eye like she might be lying when to her surprise she saw Mofe, coming out of his gate and toward them.
“ The lady asked you to leave her arm,” He said with a deceptive calmness, she could see in his deep set eyes that he was far from calm. Why had he returned? She didn’t need this. These boys would come to blows right then if this wasn’t handled immediately.
Ekene left her arm and turned on him, stepping forward, he asked “And what concerns you with how I hold my girlfriend’s arm, aren’t you just the paid washman who washes the cars?”
Ezinne saw something flash in his eyes and she knew she had to step in immediately, if a fight broke out between the two guys, it would definitely be in favour of Mofe who was tall and had the build of a formidable wrestler. Ekene was a rich boy who didn’t have much experience in brawls, she doubted his six foot lanky frame would hold up against Mofe’s six foot seven lean and perfectly toned muscled one.
“Ex girlfriend,” She stated clearly to Ekene before turning to Mofe “It’s okay Mofe, I’ll be fine,”
“You’re sure?” He had an unreadable expression on his face, but his eyes spelt anger, she had never seen such a look on him before and it was downright scary.
She nodded and he took his leave but not without a last glance at Ekene, a warning glance.
“I wasn’t aware you now had a watch dog, tell me, where is his leash?” Ekene said to her when he had left.
She took a step closer to him, narrowing her hers and pointing a finger at him, noticing the angry welts that were beginning to form on her hand where he’d held on too tightly. “ The next time you hold me that way, I will have Aliyu bring out one of my father’s guns and use it on you!”
“Oh please,” he scoffed. “No need for melodrama!”
“You think I’m being dramatic, or joking? Just try it again and see!” She told him about to leave when he spoke again.
“Speaking of your father, if you keep acting up this way, I’m going to have to let him know about your attitude.”
“Really?” she raised a brow holding his eyes, now he thought he could threaten her by going over her head, to her father. “Please don’t leave out the part where you carry other girls around because if you do, I won’t,” she said making for the gates.
“Ezinne, please don’t be like this,” He called behind her. “Why can’t you just forgive me and let us move on from it?”
“Because I’m no fool, that’s why, Good day Ekene!” she told him going into the compound.
He didn’t call her back this time, she hoped he’d finally gotten the picture.