Mofe knew there was something off as the car pulled up the driveway to the front door of his house. Something about the place just didn’t feel as warm as it used to or had he been away for so long that the place now felt alien to him?
It was early evening now and Eve usually left work later but to his surprise, he saw her car in the driveway. The lights were barely on inside the house but the lawn was illuminated so he could see that the grass was slightly overgrown which was also odd as he had a landscaper who took strict care of it. The house was a big one and they had a company that regularly sent staff to consistently keep the place spruced up but it seemed no one had been over to do much about the grounds since.
He had a niggling feeling which he didn’t like. Something was wrong, he was quite sure about it.
The driver brought the car to park and he got out, taking his light luggage and letting himself into the house with his key. Curious to know why the grounds looked like the house wasn’t being lived in. It was unlike Eve to let it go this way.
Leaving his luggage just inside the front door, he walked across the large hallway into the living room to take one of the grand twin staircases up to the bedroom.
Frowning, he noticed the brown Uhaul boxes. There were a lot of them, different sizes, some were sealed closed while others empty.
‘What the…” His voice was a surprised whisper. Why did it look like someone was moving in or…. out? Looking into the boxes he noticed it was Eve’s stuff. He wanted to kid himself that she was possibly getting rid of things she didn’t need anymore but he was smarter than that. One did not use Uhaul boxes to get rid of stuff. She was moving out.
“Eve?” He called.
He doubted she was in. She would have seen his car drive in if she were.
Walking into the bedroom he shared with her, there were even more boxes.
Now he was getting really pissed. Had she really meant to leave without informing him? No, that was so not like her. She was usually upfront about stuff, she was the one who always wanted to communicate, talk about stuff. Now she was cowardly moving out without telling him?
Why would she do this?
He brought out his phone to dial her number, she hadn’t been picking his calls when he’d been back in Nigeria. Maybe when she saw his local number, she would pick it.
She wouldn’t be expecting the call from that number. He’d meant to surprise her with his sudden arrival and had instructed no one to let her know he was around. Funny as he was the one getting the shock of his life.
He heard the front door open and knew she was back. Leaving the room, he walked back to the top of the stairs and saw her walk into the living room.
She stopped when she saw him, the surprise on her face. She was returning from her usual evening run, he could tell because she was dressed in gym shorts, a tank and running shoes with perspiration dripping down the side of her face.
“MJ….” She said, staring in surprise. “I…um..I didn’t know you were…. You, you’re back?” She stammered.
He stood rooted to the spot, he wanted to reply her but there was a lump in his throat. He didn’t want to believe she had planned to leave him without a word of it.
“Whats with the Boxes, Eve?” He ground out. There was a tightening in his chest and something told him he wouldn’t like whatever she told him.
“Umm… MJ, you just got back. I’m sure you’re tired. Let’s……”
“Eve.” He snapped in annoyance. “What is going on here?”
She sighed as she climbed up the stairs to meet him where he stood.
“As you can see, MJ, I’m moving out… I’m going back to New York. The Partners offered me senior partnership but I’ll have to work from New York.”
This was big for her, he knew she’d always wanted to make senior partner. She had worked hard for it and she deserved it but he hadn’t thought she would need to work from the New York office.
“And you planned to tell me after you were back in New York? Or you never planned to tell me at all?” He asked.
“MJ… I… I..planned to tell you eventually.” She stammered which was very uncharacteristic of her.
He was getting more riled now, what was with these women keeping the news from him till he found out later. “Eventually?..Once you were back in New York, I guess?”
“No…I.umm..I..” She didn’t seem able to find her words so he continued.
“By the way why haven’t you been picking my calls or replying my emails? You just shut me out.”
“After what happened the last time, I just…I knew it was over between us, so I began preparing myself until I finally came to terms with it.”
Confusion added to his anger and he frowned. What was she talking about? They had argued the last time they’d talked on the phone, but not enough to end a relationship. He’d told her to walk in the heat of the moment but surely she’d known he hadn’t meant it couldn’t be just because he’d refused to have a Paternity test done that she was doing this. There was something else.
“What do you mean it was over between us? Whoever said it was? We had an argument but nothing to make you leave. What exactly did you come to terms with, Evie?” He asked staring into her sea blue eyes. He saw something in them, a resolve that he didn’t like.
“I came to the terms with the fact that you will never love me the way you do her, that you will never settle with me.” She told him, her voice held a note of finality like the sound of a Judge’s gavel.
“What?” He stepped forward now and took her shoulders in his hands, he needed to talk sense into her. “But that’s precisely the reason I’m back!” He exclaimed. “It’s you I want to settle with, I’m ready for us to move on to the next stage of our lives.”
He’d expected her to look elated or at least surprised at the news but instead, she regarded him quietly, looking indifferent as if she didn’t understand him, so he added, “it’s time we set a date for that wedding of ours.”
“So you’re done in Nigeria…You’ve found the closure you need? You’re not returning?” She asked with a raised brow, still looking unconvinced.
“No…, of course, I’ll be going back, I still haven’t settled everything, I …..”
“Settle what exactly, MJ? You say you have a daughter, even though you’ve refused a test. What else is there to settle aside custody which isn’t too much of a problem. You could do that from here. You don’t need to be back there.”
“Don’t be unreasonable Eve, Azora doesn’t know me, Eve, my daughter thinks of me as an uncle to her and a friend of her mom’s. If I want that to change, I’ll need to spend some more time with her, get her to trust me…. The plan is to hang around till Ezinne agrees to tell her.”
“And in the meantime I’ll be here, lonely in this big house, waiting indefinitely?” She seemed pissed now
“Waiting for you? Waiting till you fall for her all over again and leave me?”
“What I had with her is done, Eve…. It’s not happening….”
“Oh please stop kidding yourself! The only reason you want to be back there is you still want her.”
For a second, Mofe was speechless, before he managed to ask, “what makes you think so?”
“MJ, it’s all over you… she’s in everything you do, even your dreams. I thought if I supported you, you would be able to let go but when you said you were going back, I just knew. You had to see her again, and now that she’s got a kid for you, I know there’s no way you can move on without her interfering in our lives. I’ve tried MJ but the signs are clear. You’re not mine.”
Mofe listened quietly. She wasn’t done
“Tell me you didn’t want her the whole time you were there. Swear to me that I was all you thought about?”
He opened his mouth to speak but he didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t exactly missed or craved for her.The most he’d felt for Eve had been concerned because she hadn’t been picking his calls.
“That’s what I thought.” She murmured.
“This isn’t fair Eve…. Ezinne and I have a history and that’s all it is. I might have had some lingering feelings for her but it’s you who I want to be with….and you know me, I mean what I say. You’re really not being fair to me, I regret telling you about my daughter now…. I knew you wouldn’t be able to handle it. The real reason you’re leaving is my daughter, Isn’t it? Tell me the truth.”
“It’s not MJ! Are you even listening to me?… And what do you mean I couldn’t handle it…. I’m handling it right now. I don’t want to go into a marriage which has failed before we begin.”
“It won’t fail, Eve. I won’t let it.” He tried reassuring her trying to draw her closer to him but she pulled away from him, shaking her head. Stepping back, she gave them space and Mofe knew right then that he’d lost her.
“Easier said than done, MJ. There really is no point, I’ve made up my mind.” She said, not meeting his eyes.
He was quite pissed now. “So you’re just going to walk, like this? You’re just going to end what we’ve had after all these years? You were just going to go back to New York, without even the courtesy of telling me? Really, after all this time we have been together, your plan is just to up and leave… It’s like I don’t even know you anymore….
“I’m really sorry MJ, I just……” She looked at him, trying to apologise but he didn’t need her apology. She’d given up on them, she’d given up on him. Right at the moment when he was ready to make them official, she was quitting.
“Save it. I don’t care” He told her turning and making his way down the stairs. He needed to clear his head, he needed to get away for a bit, process what she was telling him.
“MJ wait!” She called after him but he didn’t wait. “Where are you going? Are you going to be fine?”
“What do you care?” He called her, picking his bags and walking out without a backward glance.
“Dara, it’s all like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from. I wouldn’t have ever thought Mofe would come back looking for me….. When I made the decision not to tell him about Azora, I’d thought I was never seeing him ever again.”
“I warned you then Ezinne but you wouldn’t listen.” Dara reminded her.
Ezinne nodded, “I know but I was just so mad at him. I’m still mad although not so much at him anymore. Now that I realise the part his cousin played in keeping us apart, I’m madder at myself and his cousin.”
“What exactly did he say when you saw him?” Dara asked.
“He came to beg my forgiveness… that he was sorry for everything and looking back, he can see how foolishly he acted. He hoped we could eventually move on from everything because there was nothing he wanted more than to meet Azora.”
“Awwww…” Dara sighed.
“Don’t ‘awwww’ anything! He might seem sincere but I can’t let it go like that. Have you forgotten how many months I cried? How confused I was on what steps to take when I thought Mofe never wanted to hear from me? I was heartbroken for myself and my baby, so don’t ‘awwwwww’. I really want to hate that guy, Dara. I want to hate someone, Dara.”
Dara shook her head. “Hate will not do you any good, Zinny, it will only get you twisted and make you hurt more. You have to let it go, not for him but for you. You have to forgive him, girl, forgive them all and also ask Mofe for his forgiveness. You two have been wronged and are hurting so much, you need to forgive each other and work out how to raise your kid.
Ezinne knew Dara made some solid points but she wasn’t sure how to just drop the anger from the past. It had been with her for years. Besides, she doubted Mofe was ready to let it go too.
“What if he’s not ready to forgive and move on?”
Dara shrugged, “Then that’s his problem, just do your part and feel better about yourself.” She said. “But something tells me he just might move on from it all. The way that guy liked you back then, I doubt he could stay mad at you for long… besides, he was the one who came looking for you. Someone who didn’t I care for you wouldn’t do that.”
“Don’t say that o! Mofe is now a different person. He threatens me and does the opposite of what I want. It’s as if he is out to intentionally hurt me.” She said but all that had been before their kiss.
Could the kisses they shared have changed something between them? She doubted it had. If it had, he wouldn’t have run away from the country leaving that rushed note with the housekeeper.
“He is different now,” Ezinne said, he wasn’t the same guy she’d knew back then. They had both changed.
“Different in character?” Dara asked.
“Arrogant, domineering and downright annoying.”
Dara chuckled. “Well… He’s a wealthy guy now, so I guess he has to assume the airs of one but he obviously cares for you to have provided this gi-normous house with all the staff. You seem really comfortable even with Rachel not around.
“Yeah, I’m quite comfy but don’t think he cares for me. Everything he does is for his daughter, I’m just along for the ride until he gets rid of me.”
“Heyyy…why are you so hellbent on thinking he has an agenda? He hasn’t done anything to get you thinking such.’
“He hasn’t done anything yet but he has threatened it. My gut feeling just tells me he’s up to something and I trust my gut.”
Dara sighed. “I think you are paranoid…. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt his daughter… or you. I just don’t see him hating you like you say, that guy had it deep for you.”
“That was ten years ago, Dara. We are not the same people we were…too much has happened.”
“So…you mean he hasn’t given you any reason to suspect that he’s still into you?”
She recalled that night in her bedroom when they’d both given in to the attraction that was still very much between them.
“I’m reading something on your face… did something happen between you two? Did you two hit the sheets again?” Dara asked, amusement laced in her voice.
“Dara, whatever you are thinking, unthink it. Nothing happened and nothing will happen, he has a fiance and you know how he is about commitments.”
“Okay….how about you? Do you still have feelings for him?”
“No!” She lied, “now let’s change the discussion. Where are the kids? Are they still in the pool?”
She had not heard their voices in a while. Dara brought her two kids over to hang out with Azora.
“No, they left the pool sometime back, probably in the gaming room or arcade. Josh Has already made me promise to bring him back next weekend.”
Ezinne laughed. “Hope You will keep your promise…. Azora does get bored sometimes even with all the games and gadgets around.”
“I’ll try… I know Josh and Janet won’t let me rest if I don’t. This place is just awesome, are you sure Zora would want to leave when it’s time?”
Dara laughed, “okay, authoritative mama… how’re the renovations coming along? How long will it take?”
“I have no idea, Mofe didn’t share the information with me but it seems he’s taking his time. He most likely wants me to remain here forever, not me anyway…. his daughter. He’s spoiling her with everything money can buy, and she’s loving it.”
“Yeah… Who wouldn’t?… When do you plan on letting Zora know about her father?”
“What do you mean?”
“You heard me Ezinne, don’t act like you didn’t.”
Ezinne sighed. “I really don’t know Dara. I don’t know how she’ll take it, all her life she’s believed Ekene was her dad…. I’m afraid it will confuse her.”
“Confuse who? Zora?… Don’t be absurd Zinnie, you know your Kid. She’s smarter than you make her be.”
“So you think she’ll be fine?”
“Wait, she’s taken a liking to him, hasn’t she?”
“Yeah. They are inseparable when he’s around.”
“Okay… so what more do you need to know its okay? She’s old enough to process the information. You better break the news to her before she starts crushing on him thinking he’s just your friend.” Dara joked laughing.
“Eww, that’s gross, Dara. She’s only ten, not a teenager.”
“You’d be surprised what goes on in Kids’ minds…anyway the point is you need to let her know sooner than later. Mofe has established himself as someone she likes and can trust. It’s okay to let her know.”
Ezinne was thoughtful. Maybe Dara was right, Ezinne was more afraid what Azora would think about her keeping this secret from her for years. Lying to her that someone else had been her father. How she would take the news was what Ezinne was most afraid of.