ELEVEN YEARS AGO
Ezinne believed she needed serious prayers, it seemed she had been possessed by the spirit of lust because she couldn’t understand why thoughts of Mofe just wouldn’t get out of her mind. She wanted him in ways she had never wanted any man before, and it was quite frustrating. She was going through one of the worst infatuations a girl could go through.
All she thought about was how gorgeous he looked when he smiled, how his eyes crinkled softly when amused and how good that kiss between them had felt and how she wanted another episode of it.
It had been a week since she’d seen him back at his apartment, she consciously avoided meeting him in school and avoided places he might frequent on campus. He had obviously moved on with his life as she had told him to but the problem now was her.
Getting him out of her damn mind was proving really difficult. She wasn’t even sure she wanted him out, because if she did, she would have done so already or was she just powerless against her feelings for him?
It had sort of hurt that he had moved on so easily without much of a fight, he had just accepted her wishes but what had she really expected him to do?
Why did it feel like it was Mofe she should be taking a chance with and not Ekene? Just his touch set her nerve ends on fire, something she never felt with Ekene.
Shaking herself out of it, she decided it was just pure lust, what she felt for him was just physical. He had been a distraction from the real course her life was supposed to take. She would get over these strange feelings after a while. Infatuation always faded away, didn’t it?
What she needed to do was spend more time with her real boyfriend and thoughts of Mofe would naturally fade off, she decided.
She had called Ekene’s secretary a little earlier meaning to confirm with her when he would be free for lunch but had been told that he had taken the day off as he was feeling a bit under the weather. It was strange that he had suddenly taken ill because they’d spoken in the morning and he hadn’t mentioned it.
It wăs probably a little headache and that was why he’d not bothered her with it but she would seize the opportunity. He hardly ever had a free day except for weekends and she needed to spend more time with him so as to get Mofe off her mind.
She was almost ready when the intercom in her room rang. She picked it.
“Madam, your friend Uduak is here to see you.” Beatrice, one of the maids said.
“Uduak?” Ezinne wondered, what she wanted. “I’ll meet her in the living room.”
Dara and Osas had been trying to get them to meet and talk but she hadn’t felt up to it. For Ezinne, when trust was broken, it was difficult to mend. She doubted Uduak had ever been a real friend to her.
All she had needed from Uduak that day had been a simple ‘I am sorry’ but her so called friend hadn’t been in the least bit sorry. Was that someone she could call a friend?
She knew how many times she had stuck her head out for Uduak, covering up for her with her parents and her boyfriend where as time and time again Uduak via her actions had never been much of a true friend.
Why in the world would she turn off her alarm clock when she knew she had exams the next day? The most annoying part was she hadn’t been remorseful about almost making her miss the paper.
Had it not been for Mofe’s help she would have certainly failed the paper and would have had to enroll for an extra year.
She didn’t need that sort of friendship, she decided as she grabbed her handbag and car keys. She would find out what she needed and then leave.
Uduak was sitting on a sofa in the living room when Ezinne got there. She turned as she heard Ezinne’s approach.
“Hi Ezinne,” she greeted getting up from the seat as Ezinne came down the stairs.”It’s been a while.”
“What are you here for Uduak?” She asked brusque and straight to point.
Uduak sighed “Ezinne are you still angry with me? I am sorry for what happened, I know I have not been the best of friends with you, I am sorry. I shouldn’t have acted the way I did.”
Ezinne rolled her eyes at her friend “Water under the bridge UD, what’s done is done and I really don’t have time for this….”
Uduak continued earnestly, ignoring her, “Honestly when I put off the alarm clock,I was half asleep and wasn’t thinking straight, I forgot about your paper….I am really sorry. I know I should have apologised but the way you screamed my name in public and made a scene got me annoyed, please Zinnie I am sorry.”
Ezinne had heard her but really didn’t have much to say to her. She wasn’t sure if she was for real or just saying what she had to. “I have heard you but I have to leave now. I need to be somewhere.”
“Does that mean you forgive me? That we are good now?”
“I don’t know, just give me sometime to think, please. I need to be out now. Ekene is not feeling well and I need to see him.”
“Ekene?” Uduak asked with a frown.
“But I just saw him …….” her voice trailed suddenly and her expression changed as if she had said something she shouldn’t have.
“What’s that Uduak? Saw him, where? Doing what?”
“Em… I …” Uduak looked away, not able to meet her eyes.
“Spill Uduak, you saw what?” Seeing Uduak’s hesitation, Ezinne decided on a little emotional blackmail “You say you are my friend and you are hiding things from me?”
That got to her, she looked back up, her eyes pleading
“Ezinne, it might be best you didn’t know.”
“Spill Uduak, right now.” She ordered.
With a resigned sigh she began talking, “He was just at Kelvin’s place, to pick up Mary…. She stays in the BQ in Kelvin’s compound. I guess they met at Kelvin’s birthday party or so.”
As usual Ezinne felt nothing, she wasn’t surprised. Ekene was a serial cheat and she had already suspected. Still she didn’t expect her so called friend to hide the information from her.
“How long has it been going on and how long have you known?”
“Just answer Uduak.” She snapped irritated.
“Ezinne your boyfriend is a man whore, he chases everything, he has even made passes at me ….it’s just the way he is, but…. he loves you, he will still get married to you as you are his main chick, if that’s what you are afraid of.”
Ezinne took a few steps closer to her friend.
“I don’t do main chick, Uduak…I do ‘only chick’. You might treat Kelvin like that or let him treat you that way but I won’t take that nonsense from someone I am supposed to spend the rest of my life with. If you would excuse me, I have a boyfriend to get rid of once and for all.”
Ezinne made her way out of the house and Uduak didn’t stop her. She would go to Ekene’s place, even if he wasn’t in she would wait till he got back.
This revelation by Uduak had strengthened her resolve, she and Ekene were done for good and nothing from her father or anyone else could change that.
Mofe was about winning the sixth game in a row on the basketball court when the guy who held his phone for him called out that he had a call coming in.
“Who dey call?” He asked trying to dribble past the point guard for the other team.
“Zinnie.” The guy called back and Mofe paused, standing up straight he halted the game. “Time out guys abeg.”
He pleaded as he jogged off to pick the call, ignoring the grumbling of the other players.
He wondered what she wanted. They had managed to stay off each other’s radar or a while now, so he was quite surprised she was calling him now.
Her voice was hushed as she spoke quickly.
“Mofe I am sorry to bother you but it’s Ekene, I…he…”
“Ezinne, you can’t keep putting me between you and your boyfriend all the time…you are going to have to resolve your ……”
“You don’t understand, I am at his place, I locked myself in the bathroom…I am scared, Mofe!”
”Scared?” He frowned. “What…..What exactly happened?” He asked just before he heard yelling and pounding, like someone beating on a door in the background.
It didn’t sound good and he immediately went for his things deciding his game was over for the day.
“Talk to me Ezinne, what’s happening there?” He asked her again
“I can’t talk Mofe, just get here in time, I will text you his house address. When you get here I will tell you everything….Come quickly please.” She said hurriedly before hanging up.
“You dey go, MJ?” One of the guys asked and he nodded quickly as he walked off.
“Yeah…someone should sub me abeg, I need to get somewhere.”
“You go return?”
“I’m done for today.” He announced to the cheering of the opposing team who were very pleased to see him leave, it finally gave them a chance to win the game.
“Una don die for our hand today.” One of them threatened but Mofe didn’t have the time to be bothered about the game. Ezinne needed his help quickly.
He probably shouldn’t go.there alone, he needed someone to stop him from killing the guy. Bringing out.his phone from his pocket, he dialled a number.
“Kelvin?…Yeah, I need to meet you now.”
Ezinne cowered in the bathroom scared, it had been a horrible idea going to Ekenes place alone but she had wanted to tell him to his face that it was over between them for good.
Ekene hadn’t taken the news at all well, he had flared up and suddenly become so angry that he had struck her across the cheek.
The force of the blow had made her lose her balance and she had stumbled. Afraid he was going to pound on her some more as he seemed to be going through one of his blind rages, she had scuttled into the bathroom and locked it behind her.
“You think you can decide if we break up or not?” Ekene yelled from behind the door “You don’t seem to get it. I own you Ezinne, your father owes my dad a huge debt and you are the settlement. You are still going to be my wife and it doesn’t matter if I keep a zillion concubines, hell I could keep a harem…you will still be mine! Now open this damn door… or stay there if you like till you’re tired, you are going to have to come out at some point, right?”
Ezinne prayed Mofe got there soon. She knew Ekene was scared of him and he wouldn’t do anything to hurt her in his presence.
She knew Ekene had a temper but she had never seen him like this, he had never been like this against her. He was consumed by a murderous rage because she had walked in on him and his lover midway through their making out session.
Now she knew, it was official and confirmed, Ekene did have a screw loose somewhere in his head as Mofe had once suggested. She had never believed he could raise his hand against her but she had been wrong. He was capable of beating her and would have if she hadn’t run into the bathroom to save herself.
She had kept mute in the toilet afraid anything she said might aggravate him further and make him kick the door down.
Her phone began ringing again, it was Mofe. He was around, the last time he had called he had said he was close and she should hang in there. He was coming with Kelvin.
She picked the call “Yes Mofe?”
“I am there now, get ready to come out.” He clipped and she could tell he was really pissed himself. She hoped he didn’t do any damage to Ekene before she got to him.
“Okay.” She replied just as the doorbell rang. She heard Ekene’s footsteps retreat from the bathroom door and then the door to his room shut. It was almost over, she would be out of here and out of his life or good.
Not long after she heard Mofe’s voice yell “Where is she?” And that was her cue to come out. Unlocking the door, she went out to the living room where the three men were. Mofe’s hands squeezing the collar of Ekene’s shirt while Kelvin tried to pry them of.
“Mofe.” She called. She was so glad to see him that she ran to give him a hug. He left Ekenes shirt and took her in his arms.
“Ezinne, are you okay? This bastard didn’t touch you, did he?”
“I’m okay…no, he didn’t.” She lied knowing it would make matters worse I she told him about the slap. Right now all she wanted to do was leave. “Let’s just go now, please.”
Mofe turned back to Ekene, he didn’t seem ready to leave yet and Ezinne could feel the tension in him. She guessed he was looking for a reason to start a fight, a reason to beat Ekene up. Luckily, Kelvin spoke up.
“You guys go on.” Kelvin said, “I need to have a word with Ekene. You’ll be fine? Zinnie?”
“Yes, thanks a lot, Kels.” She replied with a look at Ekene. He was quiet now but the hatred was evident in his gaze.
She pulled at a reluctant Mofe’s arm, silently urging him to leave with her. Ekene regarded them, his gaze moving from her to Mofe and back as he processed the unspoken closeness between them. He spoke up.
“He can hover around you all he likes, Ezinne but in the end you know it’s me who will have you.”
“I don’t belong to you, my father or anyone else.” She told him.
Tugging on Mofe’s hand, she led him out and this time he followed.
She needed to get away from the psycho’s presence quickly. She led him to her car and produced the key, “Can you please drive?”
He nodded, she was about to go over to the passenger’s door when he held her arm back. “Wait, what is this on your cheek?”
“It’s nothing,” She lied trying to leave but he held her hand back.
“No, wait. Did he slap you?”
“Mofe please let’s just go, all I want to do is get out of here. Can you just do that for me, please?”
He must have seen something on her features because he nodded, his own expression changing from anger into understanding as he let her hand go.” You want to go home?”
“No, I don’t think so. Let’s go to your place instead if that’s okay by you?”
“Sure. Get in.”
They hadn’t driven far when Mofe began speaking, he was now quite pissed at her. “I really don’t believe you Ezinne, I told you he was unstable but you said he would never raise his hand to you…it’s just baffling how you would choose to be with that…..monster!”
“Mofe….”she tried but he wasn’t done.
“No…Ezinne let me finish, do you really care for your safety at all? That you would choose to keep up a relationship with that animal?”
“I didn’t choose, my dad instructed I try to make it work but obviously, I can’t be with Ekene now, not when he is like this. We have been together for years, I have never seen him like this before.”
“What even started the fight that he had to go off on you like that?”
“Same thing as before, I confronted him on his cheating, I walked in on him and some girl, told him it was over for the last time and it got him mad.”
“And do you mean that?” Mof asked with a glance at her. ” Is it really over?”
“Oh trust me, it is totally over! Even my dad will have to agree on it.”
“What do you mean hopefully? My dad will not see me end up with someone who beats me up.”
Mofe spared her a glance but said nothing.
“What? Why did you give me that look?” She asked sitting forward. He seemed to think her dad wouldn’t agree to ending it with Ekene.
“Nothing.” He said but Ezinne knew there was a lot he wanted to say.
“Speak MJ, you know you are dying to.”
He glanced at her again before speaking, “well, your boyfriend said something, that you will end up with him…he seems so confident and I am wondering if your dad made a promise to him?”
She recalled Ekene saying something about her father owing his father a debt and she was the payment. She didn’t believe Ekene, “My dad will understand when I tell him what happened today.”
Mofe grunted for a reply and that got her quite pissed.
“Why dont you just say whatever you have to say already? You are not good at holding back your opinions, so just spill it already!”
“You want me to spill?”
“Yes I do!”
“Okay, hold on.” He said slowing the car down to a halt, parking it on the side of the road.
This was going to be something if he had to park first to speak. She had to brace herself because she wasn’t sure if she could handle what he would launch at her.
He turned to her, releasing the strap of the seat belt and releasing hers, he covered the gap between them, his hand under her chin as he tipped it up.
She knew what was coming, his kiss and she wanted it, she had missed it, she had missed him. She closed her eyes expecting it but it never came.
Opening her eyes, she saw him staring at her. “You want this, you want me so why are you letting your dad control your decisions? I can assure you if you let him keep doing that to you, you will be unhappy.
Do you want to be unhappy just to please him?”
“He’s my dad Mofe, I respect his decisions.”
“I understand that but you are also old enough to know what’s right for you….instead of letting him make your decisions, you should also figure if the decisions he takes for you are for your own good or his.”
She thought about what he had just said, he did make a good point. “My dad knows what’s best for me.”
“Does he? Cos I see the person he chose as your life partner, disrespect, cheat and hit you….does that show he knows what’s best?”
“You don’t know my dad, Mofe…you don’t know anything!” She hated him talking about her father like this. She refused to believe her father would be intentionally cruel to her like he was insinuating.
“Maybe I don’t, but I know if you were mine, I would cherish and treat you better. You know how I feel about you, I have felt this way for four years and it hasn’t faded…if anything it gets stronger….,” he gently traced his fingers down the side of her face where Ekene had hit her. It still hurt a bit, but Mofe’s light touch made it better.
“I could never bring myself to hurt your soft, delicate features instead I would do all I could to protect you….I could never even look at any other female, just looking at you, I get more and more entranced….
If it’s about money, I know I would work my hands to the bone to get you anything you need…well nothing flashy or extravagant but if you need something, I will do it or get it for you…. I don’t have much now but it won’t be this way forever.
Like your boyfriend says, I am a washerman at the moment, but I won’t be that forever. I know that I will be more than I am now by God’s grace, but right now what I do is just a means to an end.
I might not have seven figures in my account at the moment, I might not drive a fancy car or have a mansion like your boyfriend..all I have to give you is myself…but I promise to give you all of me, I won’t hold any part back.
I might not have much but everything I have is yours. That’s the way I feel about you, I will give you all of me and hold nothing back for myself.
All of me will be yours, all of me is yours, Ezinne, but I won’t force you, I won’t control you like your father is trying to do. You are intelligent, I trust you to know what’s right for you.”
“Mofe…” she wanted to speak but he held a hand up.
“You don’t have to say anything, just think about it and let me know your decision, till then I will still remain your friend. Even if you don’t want me, I will still understand and remain friends if it’s what you want.”
He said now resuming his seat and fastening his seatbelt. “Could you fasten your seatbelt?”
Ezinne complied knowing what she wanted. It was clear to her and she didn’t need to think too much about it. She wanted him, she wanted to be with him but like he said, he father wouldn’t understand.
Now the question was did she follow her feelings or what she thought her father would approve of. He was her father anyway, there was no way he would lead her astray.
She glanced at Mofe as he manoeuvred the car back on to the road. She wanted him bad and not just lustfully, she loved the companionship he provided. He was so easy to talk to, so funny and just made her happy being with him that she never wanted to leave his presence.
He turned to her suddenly, catching her gaze, he smiled reassuringly and her heart literally squeezed. What would she choose?
Ezinne was trying to get her mind off the happenings of that morning as she browsed idly on her phone while she lay on Mofe’s bed. He was in the bathroom now having his bath and as she heard the sound of the shower running, she couldn’t help but think about him, naked with water running down his tall toned, lean muscled athletic frame.
She had watched him as he had taken off his t-shirt and singlet leaving just his basketball shorts that had hung loosely over his boxer shorts. The guy had a gorgeous body and he was so oblivious to it.
Every tress and sinew, so perfect and inviting to her fingers.
She was madly lusting after his body and didn’t care anymore. She wanted him, there was no point lying about it because she knew it deep within her soul. She had never felt this much pull to any guy ever before and she had to be honest with herself. The first step in helping herself was to admit the truth.
“Hey? Having fun?” Mofe called to her as he closed the bathroom door behind him.
Ezinne’s gaze zoned in on the towel around his waist hanging dangerously low. She swallowed as she took in his broad smooth chest, toned six pack abs leading down to a narrow waist. She knew she should look away but couldn’t, he held her spellbound.
“Hello?” He called and she looked up at him.
“What?” She asked and he smiled, his eyes crinkling at its sides and his lips quirking at its tips.
“Am I safe around you?” He joked and she rolled her eyes.
“Please, don’t flatter yourself.” She said turning on her tummy and going back to her phone. How could she have ogled him so shamelessly, she wondered.
“You know, if its worth anything, I really don’t mind being violated by your eyes. So by all means, you can stare.”
“Just shut up already, will you?” She told him not looking up from her phone. “I wasn’t even staring at you, I was staring past you.” She lied and he chuckled.
“Staring past in deed.” He walked over to his wardrobe and pulled out some clothes. “Do you want to hang out today? Instead of moping around here.. Ogling me.”
She turned over to look at him, “You want us to go out?”
“Sure, it would be a lot more fun than staying in here…not that I don’t love you staring at my awesome self though.” He said, his hand gesturing at himself.
She smiled at his joke. “So where do you have in mind?”
“You love movies, right?”
“Then let’s do movies then.” He said.
She was about to agree when she thought about it, she didn’t want Mofe going above his means to impress her.
“We don’t really have to go out you know, I could just watch any movie on your PC, I know you have quite a lot.”
“Huh?” He frowned. “Where is this coming from?”
Ezinne sat up not sure how to explain this. “Mofe, I Just don’t want to spend money which you don’t have. Knowing you, I know you would never let me pay or anything and I don’t think it’s okay for me to spend yours when I know how hard you work for it. It’s just not fair, I’m okay here with you…”
“Wow.” Mofe cut in “You have just succeeded in insulting me. Thank you Ezinne, for taking pity on a pauper who wants to spend the money he doesn’t have pleasing miss rich princess. Aren’t you so considerate?”
She frowned, “whoa, Mofe…”
“I don’t need your pity, Zinnie. That’s the last thing I need from you, yes I am broke but I am not at the level you are putting me. I can afford to take you to out, it’s just a movie for crying out loud…except you don’t want to be seen with me, then just say that instead of bringing up flimsy excuses.”
Ezinne sat up now seeing that Mofe was really pissed. “Mofe, please I didn’t mean it like that honestly, I was only being considerate….”
“No, you were pitying me and I don’t need that.” He said going back into the bathroom with his clothes and shutting the door behind him.
When Mofe came out of the bathroom dressed in a polo necked shirt and combat shorts, he was surprised to see Ezinne sitting on the couch, her hand bag in hand, she seemed prepared to leave.
“I have to leave now, Mofe.” She told him.
“Leave? Why, did I upset you with what I said?” He frowned. He had taken care not to insult her even though he had been embarrassed that she thought he was so broke.
“No, I was the one who upset you, so I thought I should just give you some space to yourself. I couldn’t bring myself to leave without letting you know.”
He sighed, gesturing with his hands he said,”come here.”
“Why?” She asked from where she sat.
“Just do it will you?”
She got up, dropped her handbag on the floor and walked the small distance to him. He took her wrists gently in his hands.
“I am sorry for talking to you so harshly. You touched a raw spot and I reacted quite harshly but you can’t ever upset me. Even if you do, not for long.”
He told her looking into her eyes, she looked back at him and he could see the feelings in them. She wasn’t hard to read, but would she give in to what she was feeling?
“Mofe please let’s be really honest to one another now, what do you really want from me? What is this for you, a fling or something serious? I need to know because when my dad asks, I need to tell him what this is between us. Please give me a final reassurance, just one last time and I will give you my decision right now.”
“I don’t want anything from you, I want you.” He began, “I want you, and I know you are way way above my reach but that doesn’t make me want you any less.
I don’t do flings, I will give my all into making our relationship work. What this is between us is definitely serious and I would love us to explore it. Let’s see how far it leads, unlike your boyfriend, I promise I will treat you how you should be treated and not money, the lack of it or class will come between us. “
As he looked into her beautiful eyes, he saw her make her decision and he knew what it would be. She was so easy to read and he had to smile.
“Mofe, I don’t want anything from you.” She started, “having you is enough for me.” She stepped forward closing the gap between them, “and please quit calling that monster my boyfriend….you are my boyfriend, if that’s what you want?”
She put her arms around his neck as she pulled closer until their bodies touched, all the while holding his gaze.
For his reply,he took her lips in his in a searing kiss, he had been longing to that for a long time. She kissed him back hungrily and he could tell she had been longing for it also.
Breaking off the kiss, he asked “how about your father? Are you no longer concerned about what he’ll think about us.?”
“If he cares for me then he will accept whoever I choose to be with. I tried it his way but Ekene is not normal, the slap he gave me today has finally got me thinking straight. I can’t be with someone that is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. Asides that,” she paused for a second before going on.
“I am so attracted to you Mofe. As you have noticed I enjoy ogling you. I confess you have invaded my mind and I can’t do anything about it, I can’t help but give in. I also want to see where this will lead.”
Mofe chuckled feeling so good at hearing her words,”finally, you admit it.”
“Yes.” She said as she came closer to him again, this time her hands running over his back, from his waist up.” I can’t fight it so I will just give in to it.”
Having her hands on him felt so good, he almost didn’t believe this was real.
“You can’t imagine how I feel hearing you say this, I almost don’t believe it’s true…today has got to be one of my happiest days, I promise I will make you as happy as I can.”
She smiled “and I promise not to pity you anymore.”
He smiled nodding, “Good. So…now will you go to out with me to the movies and stop fretting if I can afford it or not, girlfriend?”
” Yes I will, babe!” She replied.