The drive home was hellish. The pain was excruciating. For the hundredth time, he had turned the car around in his mind but he didn’t. He would not. He was doing the right thing not just for her but for himself too. Or was he? Now he wasn’t so sure, he couldn’t tell how she felt.
She must hate him he thought, trying hard not to look at her expressionless face. She had quickly returned to her unpredictable mood, talking about her trip, her plans for the camping. The uncountable things she wanted to do. They had made a brief stop at drumstix to buy chicken nuggets, only then did she give away an emotion. She was happy. She loved nuggets.
He smiled and reassured himself, he was doing the right thing. She smiled back. Somehow deep down she was grateful he had stopped them. She knew he loved her. And she loved most that he was in charge. A man with so much self-control. She loved him too and after her service year, they were getting married.
Married!!! Marriage!!! The words rang in her head like a cymbal as she stood there looking out the window, taking in the beautiful hilly view of Agbama estate, Umuahia. She knew Dash was a fraud. She had spotted him on the very first day. But somehow she had ended up becoming his Spanish guitar.
He was like a bad habit she couldn’t lose. An addiction she couldn’t get rid off. She was only trying to be rebellious but now she was playing with fire. There was no pep talk. She knew that. Obinna Dash Onyekwe was a loose cannon, a man on rampage. And above all a forbidden fruit.
NYSC ORIENTATION CAMP, UMUNNA BENDE.
It was a sunny day. The lectures were long, uninteresting and boring. In truth? Queen did not see the need for the whole NYSC scheme. But for now, she was glad she was here and far from home. She had met a few friends already. Some trying earnestly to woo her. She would always laugh at their efforts. while always basking in the shared memories she left behind.
Then it happened; it was during one of those long pointless lectures. A team of I.t guys had come from Digify Africa. She wasn’t particularly interested in what they had to offer but one of the facilitators caught her attention. Not because he knew what he was teaching, actually it was the exact opposite. And moreso, the audacity he had.
She had laughed so hard. But hey! This is Nigeria. Anything goes. She finally concluded. Four hours later as she tried to make her way out of the hall. There he stood looking stern, unjoking and mean. ‘What was so funny”? He asked. She didn’t reply, instead tried to sidestep him. And as she did, he pulled her back. She smiled as she spoke, with that usual intimidating manner that has worked a thousand times over. And finally, she asked “what do you think you were doing up there? Talking about what you know nothing about?”
It wasn’t meant to be anything more than a brief exchange of words. But it had turned into something heated, stifled, emotional, challenging and more of a battle of wits. Dash may not have been an i.t guru but he knew his numbers. And unlike so many other guys who were easily intimidated by her; he had stood his ground and defended himself. He was filling in for a friend who had taken ill. A great display of loyalty. And somehow as much as she hated to admit it, he had won himself something more than her admiration.
Her phone brought her back to the present. It had been ringing off the hook. When she finally picked up it was him. “hey are you set? Am in your estate already”? She affirmed and hung up. She felt guilty, a nagging soul tearing guilt. Why was she feeling guilty? It’s not like am sleeping with the guy she consoled herself.
It was just a date after all. And he had been helpful to her in more ways than one. From apartment hunting to moving and all the running around that would require a man’s stamina. No! she wasn’t using him either, but still, she felt guilty of something outside of herself.
Deep down they could both feel it. The restrained flirting, the disciplined conversations, the hushed desires, the repressed emotions, the subdued longing for something forbidden. It was there in their long calls and chats over the past three months. It was towering like a ghost of girlfriend past on their first date as he unconsciously brushed past her. She knew it was there. And now she blamed Michael for the things he had left undone. The things he had refused to teach her how to handle or respond to.
A couple of minutes later there was a knock on her door. Startled that he was already here, she rushed to the door. And there he stood. Exhausted, drained, beaten down and frustrated. Her mouth fell open, her surprise was evident. No, she wasn’t expecting him. She was actually expecting another. But Michael had shown up. Unexpected, unannounced.
This, she thought to herself must be Zoronachi’s handiwork. she knew without the slightest hint of a doubt. But that could wait for now she thought as she pulled him inside…..
To Be Continued……