Wole lifted the ring before her with expectant eyes and heart; his hope was on its way to being shattered. Tola kept staring at him with her mouth agape and this really bothered him. Horns were honking and blasting from all directions; some out of impatience and anger, some out of curiosity, while a few others were simply confused. A few “gbeboruns” (meaning people who wouldn’t mind their own businesses in typical Yoruba Language) had actually pulled up to watch the end of their showdown. He had hired some of the road officials for his fifteen minute “drama”; time was time! But that was not his problem at the moment, his heart pounding heavily in his chest seemed more like it.
Tola didn’t know how to say ‘yes’. She had watched too many movies and even though she had always envisaged her screams with the potential ‘Yes’, it looked all too real, she was scared, shocked and filled with joy. She didn’t even notice when a tear drop rolled down her cheeks just before she screamed “YES! YES!! YES!!!”
“Is that a Yes?” he asked, excitedly still on his knees.
She nodded and held his face in her hand. “I will marry you, Wole.” She screamed.
There was a thunderbolt of applaud and cheers. Wole smiled as he took a deep breath and slipped the ring onto her finger, the “audience” gleefully applauded until he rose to his feet and drew her in for a kiss.
“I love you, Wole.” She muttered while still in his grip.
He was about to respond when a harsh light flashed in their faces followed by severe horns. “GET A ROOM! …… GET MARRIED!”
They laughed as they ran away hand in hand from the zebra crossing to the pavements and took their seat on the side walk as they watched a tow vehicle pull Tola’s car off the road to the side.
“Did you really have to do that?” Tola asked, as she stared at the ring.
He grinned. “The tyre, right?”
She nodded as she kissed his chin. “You are really something.”
“They will get your tyre fixed soon and return your car to you soon.” He replied and kissed her forehead. “You are mine, Tola. I love you more than I can explain.”
She smiled as she hugged him. “Wole, there is still time to wake me up from this if I am dreaming.”
He giggled as he pecked her forehead. “We are living our dreams, sweetheart.” He said.
I tapped on the door lightly with my bag by my side. No answer. I took a deep breath and tapped on it for a second time. The door opened almost immediately, Ini stepped back with a grin lurking around her mouth.
“Save it!” I ordered, and pulled my bag inside.
She squealed and jumped on me from behind. “I missed you, baby.” She screamed, as she forced me into a seat. “There is no place like Lagos.” She said standing up. She swirled from one part of the living room to the other. “The streets…the lights…Oh no…you missed Lag!” she continued.
I rolled my eyes as I wriggled out of her grip and took a seat. She dashed into the kitchen and returned with a glass of water. “Really?”
“Of course…I am being nice, enjoy it while it lasts.” She said handing me the glass which I gratefully collected and gulped. “Kim, what was Abj like?”
I nodded with a faint smile. “Very decent, less noisy and chaotic unlike Lagos.”
She scoffed. “Wetin dey do this one? How long did you stay in Abuja sef?”
I smiled. “I just knew this niceness of yours wasn’t gonna last.” I took a deep breath. “Where’s Tola?”
She slid into her chair. “I don’t know oh…” she replied, yawning. “I am really tired; maybe you should wait up for her.”
“She has a key, doesn’t she?”
The door flung open and Tola ‘jumped’ in. “I am getting married!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” she screamed, showing off her finger.
Ini and I jumped up from our seats. “Oh my God!” we screamed at the same time as we rushed to meet her. “It’s real!” I shouted.
She nodded as she hugged us and then paused. “Kim, you are back?”
Ini scoffed as we all took our seats on the same couch. “She is not back; she is still chilling at the airport.”
Tola hugged me tight. “My love, I have missed you. You have no idea of what I have been through staying with this witch, Ini.” She started.
Ini pulled her hand. “Let me see the ring! This one must cost a fortune oh...” she exclaimed and rolled her eyes. “Marcus had better start saving money oh! Else, I will buy my ring by myself.”
We all giggled. Ini kissed the ring. “How did he propose? Gist us!” Tola grinned. Ini gasped. “Oh my God! You guys finally had sex?”
“Idiot!”Tola replied. She then smiled in my direction. “Wole Briggs asked me to marry him on the road, right in the middle of Lagos City traffic.”
Ini’s eyes popped. “Really? I have to check YouTube; those Naija gossips must have done something by now.” She said, as she grabbed her phone and started to search. “This YouTube is sick.” she said lifting her phone high and low obviously searching for network.
“You mean to say MTN is sick.” I replied.
Tola rolled her eyes. “Port to Glo.”
“Glo is the worst service provider ever.” Ini replied as she took her phone near the Television. “It’s faster here.”
I took a deep breath as I smiled in Tola’s direction. “This is beautiful; you are going to be very happy. Wole is a great man.” I said.
“Loading….” Ini stressed as she was squatted beside the TV.
Tola and I rolled our eyes as we watched her drama.
“YES!!! MTN…You rock!!!” she screamed and then slowly took a seat. She stared at her phone with her eyes wide open. I could hear the sound coming from the video stream. “Jeez! This is Tola. Awww…this is so sweet!” she said, with a smile. Tola and I rushed to her to confirm it. I smiled as I watched Tola scream in the video. “Oh girl, your video has got ten thousand likes already.”Ini continued. “This has got to be the best proposal of the year.” She said and paused. “I will put that of Peter, the PSquares guys’ proposal own as second; he gave his babe a Range Rover.”
“That was also pretty beautiful.” I chipped in.
Tola smiled. “Nothing as beautiful as Wole and I.” she said smiling.
“I am really happy for you, Tola. I’ll go get the Champagne!” Ini said, and dashed into the kitchen.
I pulled Tola closer and hugged her. “Congratulations!”
She smiled as we drew back for a moment. “Kim, thank you for everything. I can’t believe this is happening to me.”
I smiled. “I don’t see why you are thanking me, you worked things out and everyone can see that clearly, I am happy for you guys.”
She nodded and took a deep breath. “And David?”
I sighed. “I don’t know.” I took a deep breath.
“Kim…are you guys going to kill everything you feel for each other? She asked.
“Kim is unserious! Ini jumped in.
You should go talk things over with David, he was honest with you, so he needs you by his side right now more than ever” Ini said, joining us as she placed the bottle on the table.
“Kim, you need to see David and talk about this, you guys can’t just throw everything away.” Tola added.
I took a deep breath. “I don’t know.” I said and didn’t know my eyes had turned red. “It’s just that I love David and I don’t know what to do.” I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore as my girls hugged me. “I came back because of him. I want to see him.”
“You have no idea how the press have stormed this place since your article went viral.” Mr. Adeoye said. “We are really getting solid.” He stared at me. “I was scared you had run off with Wura.”
I took a deep breath. “I love writing.”
He nodded. “I know. It’s a beautiful art. We have received more articles from other departments, I will pass them on to your email, and we would have to review your salary and allowances.”
I smiled. “Thank you, sir.”
“It’s the least I can do, you are a real talent and thanks to you, we can show our face again.” He took a deep breath. “I remain grateful and indebted to you.”
I smiled faintly. “The renovations are going swift too, congratulations sir.”
He nodded. “It’s time to take this place one step higher, you have taught me a lot, some things can’t always remain the way they have been, we have been too traditional.” He paused to lean against a door. “We have to mix tradition with the trends too.” He cleared his throat. “You are indeed God-sent. God bless you.”
“Amen.” I replied
Marcus held the baby carrier in his hand as Ini walked alongside with the baby’s bag in her hand and her handbag dangling carelessly. People turned and stared as they walked into the agency.
‘Oh my…they have been sleeping together!’… ‘They have a baby! Oh!’ ‘Ini and Marcus? It’s like Priyanka Chopra and the geek! Oh God … Pyaar is possible!’ ‘When was Ini ever pregnant? That girl is a wonder!!! How did she hide the pregnancy?’
The thoughts and discussions continued in hushed-toned groups as Marcus and Ini walked on.
Marcus pushed Ini’s room open. “Oh boy…my ear was full!” He dropped the carrier on the table.
“Did you actually listen to them?” Ini asked, placing the bag on the table.
He nodded. “I couldn’t help it. They were talking about us.”
“They actually think I am her mother, and that is true.” She replied with a smile.
Marcus smiled as he walked up to her. “Really? Are you gonna be a mother to Ini?” he asked as he kissed her gently.
The door opened and Shola came in. “Huummmm!!!! I see…it is true after all.” She said as she closed the door. Ini and Marcus broke away abruptly and stared at her. Shola walked up to the carrier and peered into it to see the baby. “She is beautiful…heyy baby!” she said, waving at the baby.
Ini scoffed. “What do you want, Shola?”
“Does this pretty baby have a godmother yet? I would love to be.”
Marcus hissed. “No, thank you.”
“Hehe… Look who is getting touchy! Baby’s Dada! I see you both…hmmm…so, when did you carry this pregnancy?” she asked raising her eyebrow. She paused and smiled. “You evil thing, you must have had an In vitro fertilization, right?” she asked as she smiled. “You just want this shape intact so you can keep modeling!” she said, touching Ini’s waist.
“Just cut the crap, Shola.” Marcus interrupted.
She shook her head disapprovingly. “You two apparently have no idea what parenting entails: foul or swear words are not to be used around kids.” She smiled as she took a seat. “The first reason I am offering to be her godmother is that she needs a proper role model.”
“Role model?”Ini scoffed. “Are you under the impression that you have a kind heart?”
Shola smiled. “I am.” The baby started to cry and she went over to the baby and smiled. “Little baby don’t you cry… mommy’s here all the while…” she sang softly. The baby chuckled. “See?”
Ini and Marcus hissed. Marcus cleared his throat. “What do you want, Shola?”
Shola grinned. “Nothing. I only heard about your baby and came to confirm.” She replied. There was a light knock on the door. “I’ll get it.” Shola said and opened the door. She stared at the petite stewardess. “Yes?”
“I’d love to see Ini Obong.” She replied.
Shola stepped out of the way as the stewardess walked in. “Ini, the director would like to see you in his office.”
Ini nodded and dismissed her. She stared at Shola and Marcus. “I’ll be right back”
“Do you really have to do this, Wura?”
Wura smiled as she placed the divorce papers before Tunji. “Yes, please sign them.”
He scoffed. “You came all the way from Abuja to make me sign these papers? I don’t believe you, you still care. You could have faxed it.”
She smiled. “I am surprised that you think I care.” She took her seat. “Tunji, I went through all those years of nightmare because of Kimberly, it’s over now.”
“Are you going to hurt our daughter?”
She scoffed. “Tunji, Kimberly is aware. She is not five anymore. She knows what we have been all this time: A lie!”
“I have changed.”
She laughed sarcastically. “Losing has a way of humbling you, doesn’t it?” she placed a hand on the document. “Tunji, sign these papers, I want my life back.”
“The bible doesn’t support divorce. I won’t give it to you.”
She gasped. “Tunji!!! You are unbelievable! Did the bible support the torture you gave to me?”
He shook his head sadly. “I regret everything, I am sorry.”
“Tunji, you don’t have to be sorry. I don’t need it. All I want is for the document to be signed.” She said, standing up. “I will leave them with you, I’ll send Mark over to retrieve them in the evening, and I hope they would have been signed by then.”
Tunji stood before her. “Please Wura, I want you to forgive me.”
She took a deep breath. “Forgiveness? Tunji, you owe more people, your daughter, and yourself.” She said, and approached the door as she opened it. “Just grant me my divorce, that’s all I need from you.” she said and walked out.
Mirabel pulled up. “Is this the place?”
“Yup!” Henry replied as he jumped out of the car. “We sell lots and lots of stuff!”
Old Rodger picked up his cane for support as he saw Henry approach him with a lady. “Good afternoon.” He greeted coolly extending a hand.
Mirabel took the hand with a smile. “Good afternoon. Mirabel.”
“Mirabel, how are you?” he said, as he walked with her into the store.
She grinned at Henry as she walked along with Old Rodger. “I am doing very fine.”
Henry dashed into the inner room and returned with a comfortable chair for Mirabel. “Sit here.” He said.
She stared at her. “That’s so cute, isn’t it? But no.” she replied and offered the chair to Old Rodger. “Please sit, Sir.”
He cooed. “That’s…thank you.” he said, taking his seat
Henry frowned and went inside to bring another chair. “Do you want a fruit mix, Mirabel?”
“Fruit mix?” Old Rodger asked.
Henry shot a warning stare at his father and smiled in Mirabel’s direction. “A fruit mix is a combo of Pineapples, Apples and our very rare and expensive strawberries, you are gonna love it.”
She nodded with a smile. “Sounds nice.”
“I hope you can say the same about the taste.” Old Rodger sneered quietly.
Mirabel stared at him. “Excuse me?” she asked with a smile
Henry cleared his throat loudly. “I will be right back!” he said and left for the inner room.
“Tell me about you, Mirabel.” Old Rodger started.
Bolu Coker drummed heavily on the gates. He stared around as he knocked even harder.
“WHO BE DAT MAD MAN?!”
Bolu swallowed as the vulgar rants continued. He waited till he saw a man approach. “Were you the animal that was hurling abusive words?”
The man eyeballed him coldly and nodded. “I no be animal oh…wetin happen?”
“Where is Femi?” he asked.
The man stared at him. “Which Femi?”
Bolu took a deep breath. “Femi, the man who lives in the top flat.”
The man laughed. “Fem-Fem, abi?” he asked as he licked his tongue staring at Bolu Coker. Bolu sighed and brought out some money from his trouser and threw it at the man. The man bent and picked it excitedly. “Well done, Baba!”
“Now where is he?”
The man took a deep breath. “Fem-Fem don comot for here.” He replied. Bolu raised an eyebrow. “He does not live here again.” The man reiterated.
Bolu Coker took a deep breath. “Did he say where he was moving to?”
“No. He just took his bags and family and left.”
Bolu nodded and returned to his car. He slammed the door hard and undid his tie nervously. He picked up his phone and dialed Femi’s number again, but it indicated ‘SWITCHED OFF’
“Is everything okay, sir?” his driver asked.
Bolu scoffed. “Did you get the address I asked you?”
He nodded. “Yes sir. It is Victoria’s Home.”
“Take me there.”
I clutched my purse to my arm as I stepped out of the office to the road.
I heard my name. Must be the press! Mark had told me to always walk on whenever I heard my name, if it was the press, they would catch up. I obliged.
I stopped in my tracks and turned. It was my father. I took a deep breath as I allowed him to meet up. “Good evening, sir.”
“Kimberly, how are you?” he asked. “Congratulations on your current success.”
I nodded. “Thank you, sir.”
He took a deep breath. “Kimberly, we need to talk.” He started. “We need to clear the air on many things. Since you are free now, can we just go to the bar around the corner?”
I shook my head in disagreement. “I am afraid it might be impossible, I have somewhere to be.”
“Kim, we need to talk. Your mom is trying to get a divorce from me, I have hurt you too much, I have failed in my role as a father, and I need to right these wrongs.”
I scoffed lightly. “There is nothing to talk about Dad.” I shrugged. “You can talk things out with Mom. I didn’t marry her and as for me, I’ve accepted everything you have done.”
He held my hand. “Kim, I know I married her, but you are our daughter, a fruit of the love we once shared, can’t you just think about that?”
I yanked my hand out of his grip. “Stop this, Dad! Fruit of what? Where is all this coming from?”
“I love you, Kimberly.”
I nodded. “Good for you, Dad. I have to go.” I said, and walked away.
“I had a nice time here with you, sir.” Mirabel said as they walked out towards the car. “I wish I could stay a little longer, but I have to run.”
Henry smiled. “I am glad you enjoyed yourself here.”
“I will definitely be back, sir.” She said, staring at Old Rodger. “Henry, your Dad is a very nice man.”
Henry nodded with a slight grimace. “I see… I know.”
Old Rodger waved at her. “See you later, Mirabel.” He said and nudged Henry in the waist. “I will start locking up.” He said and returned into the store.
“You seem to like my father a lot.” Henry said as soon as Old Rodger was out of sight.
She nodded with a smile and leaned against the door. “He likes me too.”
Henry swallowed. “Yeah…I see, err…so, are you back to settle in Nigeria?”
She nodded. “Yes. I have a fashion outfit that I would love to establish here, so, I am not going back. Maybe I’d return for vacations.”
“Is it only about the fashion outfit?”
She nodded with a smile. “Of course, but I will attend your convocation too.” She said with a smile.
He nodded. “That’ll be fine. Thanks.”
“It’s a pleasure, I’ll call you.” she said, and pecked him on his cheek before she stepped into her car and drove off.
Henry returned into the store with a smile. “Are we set, Dad?”
“Where did you ever come up with fruit mix?”
Bolu paced round Mother Francesca’s office. “What do you mean by I am no longer responsible for Elizabeth Coker?”
“Sir, she already signed over her responsibility to someone else.”
Bolu slammed the table. “You have to be joking! She is in no mental frame of mind to decide who her guardian is.”
“I must remind you sir that this is no mental institute and it is an Old Parents’ home which is set out to take care of people.” She replied, standing up. “We put their interests first.”
He nodded. “I see…where is she now?”
She shook her head in disagreement. “I am afraid, we are unable to release such classified information to you.”
He clapped. “Great!” he said sarcastically. “I don’t know how it works, but I’m sure this country’s system wouldn’t mind my locking up a ‘Mother’ in Federal prison?”
“On what charges would that be, sir?”
He shrugged. “We’ll see…Good night!” he said and walked out.
Niran Briggs smiled. “This is great news. I am so happy for you both.”
Wole placed his hand on Tola’s. “Thanks a lot, Dad.” He said and stared in his mother’s direction. “Thank you, Mom. God bless you.”
Olamide smiled. “I pray God blesses your union too. It is my prayer that all your heart desires would be met.”
“You know, when I decided to marry Olamide…” Niran started. “I did so because of how much she really cared for humans and other creatures, she used to feed my dog then. So generous!”
She hissed. “It was a stray dog. Niran never had food to eat, so how would his poor dog have something? That’s why I was nice to the poor thing.”
Wole and Tola watched with smiles as they continued.
He scoffed. “Woman, I had food. I was watching my weight.”
She smiled. “Really? Then why didn’t the poor dog eat?”
“Err….I was scared that if I had to make a meal for the dog, I would be tempted to eat also.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Niran…and this happened almost every day, remember?”
He cleared his throat. “Olamide, case closed!”
She nodded. “Of course, your secret is out.”
Mirabel walked in. “Hello everyone!”
Niran and Olamide grinned at her. “Hiiiiiii”
“What is going on here?” she asked, taking a sip from Tola’s wine. “I hope you don’t mind.” She said, looking serious.
Tola shook her head with a smile. “Not at all…”
Mirabel scoffed. “Who cares if you do?” She said, taking a seat. Tola smiled faintly. “Just kidding.” She added.
Wole smiled. “Mirabel, you might have to refresh your sense of humour.”
Mirabel stared at him and hissed, she fixed her eyes on Tola with a smile and then her eyes popped. “You are getting married!” she screamed.
“Yes, we are.” Wole replied with a smile.
Mirabel smiled. “This is good news.”
Olamide nodded. “Yes, and we all are excited about it.”
“Have you picked a date?” Mirabel asked.
Niran interrupted. “Isn’t that supposed to be a collective decision? We will all sit together with Tola’s family.”Wole stared at her. She swallowed lightly. Niran got the message. “I see…we’ll talk later.” He said with a smile.
Olamide nodded. “Exactly.”
The door creaked open slightly and Wura stepped into the room. Elizabeth sat up immediately. “Good evening.”
Elizabeth smiled faintly. “Wura Bankole?” she smiled. “I saw you on TV recently.” She said, with a smile. “You looked good.”
Wura nodded and closed the door gently. “How are you, Elizabeth?”
She nodded. “I am okay, trying to stay alive.”
Wura took a seat beside her. “You are beautiful, Liz.”
“I was beautiful, Wura.”
She shook her head in disagreement. “You are still beautiful, my dear.”
“Wura, did you ever see me as a loner? We never really got along.”
Wura smiled. “I have always seen you as special. You had a beautiful gift, your talent is exceptional.”
“It was exceptional. I don’t paint anymore. I don’t even remember what a brush looks like.”
Wura smiled faintly. “Elizabeth, you have to find yourself again. I did and I’m the better for it.”
“Find myself? Wura, it’s over for me. Some of us are finished articles.”
Wura took a deep breath. “I was finished too.”
Elizabeth scoffed lightly. “You? You could still see the sun at will. I had no life.” Wura blinked as she listened to Elizabeth. “I had a son who didn’t care, he watched his father send me away…on exile.” She continued. “I was alone, hurt, and sad. A broken woman!”
Wura wiped the tears in Elizabeth’s eye. “How much do you want your life back, Elizabeth?”
She swallowed. “I don’t know…do I still have one?”
“You do. I know you do.”
Elizabeth took a deep breath. “You are so kind, Wura. Kimberly is also very special, I love her.”
“She loves you too.”
Elizabeth smiled. “Thank you, Wura.”
She took a deep breath. “Let me take you home.”
She nodded. “It’s time to go home, Elizabeth.”
“Kimberly has signed your papers for discharge from here and the home.”
I finished my cup of coffee. “Thank you, Mark.”
“You are welcome, Kimberly. Your mom should be done talking to Ms. Sunflower, that’s her name, right?”
I nodded. “Yes, she is Ms. Sunflower…but we should give them some more time, allow them to talk.”
“That’ll be fine.” He replied and paused to finish his coffee. “Have you spoken to David?”
I turned my face away. “I am scared he might not even want to talk to me.”
“But you know him better and you know he loves you.”
I nodded. Mark didn’t even know David and he was sticking up for him. “I am too scared to even look at him after everything, he trusted me too much and I let him down.”
Mark smiled. “He understands. You just have to talk about this.”
“Should I go and see him?”
Mark nodded with a smile. “Of course, go to him. He is everything for you.” he said, holding her hand. “You came back to Lagos, it might be your abode, but your home is with David, in his heart, in your heart. Just go to him.”
I smiled with so much joy. “Bless you, Mark.”
He nodded. “Go to him.”
“What about Ms. Sunflower?”
He smiled. “She’ll always be here for you. Go! No more excuses!”
I nodded and walked out of the clinic’s cafeteria.
I walked through the hospital as I made my way for the exit. I stared through rooms and saw family members together. I stared at a family through their window blinds. I watched them hug and laugh together. Did I ever have a family? Would I ever have a family? I couldn’t imagine life with another man if it wasn’t David.
I walked away slowly from the family’s room and walked on towards Elizabeth’s room, I was hoping my mom would have talked her into leaving the hospital. As I drew closer to her room door, I didn’t know if I was wishing or hoping, but I saw David walking towards me. As we got closer, it looked real. YES! DAVID! He stopped as he stared at me with his hands in his pockets. Say something, David. I prayed quietly in my heart as I stared at him with a smile. David smiled back, and he looked good. I didn’t know what happened next, but I wasn’t walking anymore, I was floating in my heart and I ran off into his waiting hand. David took me in his manly grip and lifted me up.
“My girl.” He said.
“I am sorry, David.” I said as I whispered into his ears.
He dropped me kindly and kissed my forehead. “I love you, Kimberly.”
“I love you too.” He said, and kissed me. “Did you miss me?”
I gasped. “Are you kidding me? I was lost!”
“I feel special, Kimberly.”
I smiled as I stroked his face. “You are special, David.”