I just sat in the living room like a statue, no longer even hearing the persistent ring of the phone. Even when one of the boys awoke and started crying, I still didn’t move. I watched as his Nanny attended to him, like someone in a trance, unable to believe what had just transpired. Unable to believe that just as I’d started getting truly comfortable and secure in my relationship with Kachi, I’d lost it…just like that.
It wasn’t until Voke and Victor walked into the living room, having just returned from a wedding, that I broke out of the trance.
“What’s wrong with you?” Voke asked. “Why are you just sitting there, staring at nothing? I thought you were here with Kachi.”
And just like that, the dam broke and the waterworks began. They were both taken aback when I suddenly burst into tears, and from the corner of my eye, I saw the Nanny scurry away into the nursery with Gogo. But I could no longer hold back the devastation I felt.
“You shouldn’t have hidden it from Apache!” Voke said, with a deep sigh.
“What she shouldn’t still be doing is sitting down here.” Victor remarked. “Voke isn’t the one you should be talking to, Isio. You should be doing all this explaining to Kachi.”
And, with a start, I realised he was right. I couldn’t just roll over on the floor, and accept the hand fate had dealt me. If I truly believed what Kachi and I had was special, then it was time to fight for him.
Without a further word to either of them, I grabbed my phone and car keys and dashed out of the house. I was just about to start my ignition when my phone started ringing again. Glaring at the offending device, I was even more offended to see it was still Pere calling. That had to be the 50th call that day alone.
And at that point, I knew I’d had enough.
“What is it, Pere?” I asked, trying with everything in me to control myself.
“Thank God, you answered! I was beginning to consider showing up in Lagos, so you can finally see how serious I am.” he said. “Did you get the flowers?”
“Pere, listen up and listen good. Don’t ever call me again. Don’t you EVER call me again!” I said, the tempo of my voice rising with my anger. “Can’t you get it through your thick skull that I’m not interested? What’s with all this hounding and stalking? Pere, for the last time, LEAVE ME ALONE!”
“I can’t leave you alone, Isio! You are the love of my life and the mother of my kids…”
“To hell with that!” I screamed. “This is not me playing hard to get, Pere. I’m over you! I don’t want you! I don’t love you! I don’t want to be with you! Can’t you just leave me alone?! I don’t even care whether or not you go back to Ogechi or any other woman, just leave me alone! I don’t want you!”
There was silence from the other end of the line for a few seconds.
“That’s not going to happen, Isio.” he finally said. “You once tried to fight for us, but I was too stupid to see it. Now, I’m the one fighting for us…and I don’t care how long I have to fight, but I will…”
With a long hiss, I terminated the call and proceeded to block his number, something I should have done a long time ago. Even though it had crossed my mind to do that before, I hadn’t because I didn’t believe it was fair to deny him access to his children. But if he was going to continue constituting a nuisance in my life, well…so be it.
As I drove out of the estate and onto the Lekki expressway, headed to Kachi’s house, my anger gave way to the kind of anxiety I hadn’t ever felt before. What if he turned me away? What if he refused to believe that Pere and I had not rekindled our sick relationship? And as I neared his apartment, I was filled with a different kind of dread. What if he wasn’t alone? What if he was there with another woman?
The security guard let me into the compound, and I saw that Kachi’s car wasn’t parked in its position. Getting to his apartment, I could tell he hadn’t returned. Reaching underneath the flowerpot by his door, I was grateful to find his key still there. It’s ironic how I’d berated him about his lax sense of security just the weekend before, asking him why he needed to keep his house key in what was probably the least strategic of locations. But now, I was only too happy it was there.
Letting myself in, I proceeded to sit in the living room at first. I probably sat there for an hour, before getting restless and moving to the kitchen, where I made jollof rice with the left over ingredients from my recent trip to the market, and also fried some plantain and some old chicken. When that was done, I cleaned up the kitchen, and then moved on to clean the entire apartment. Whilst in his bedroom, I considered going through his things…searching his drawers and closets to see if I’d find anything incriminating, but I decided against it. At least one of us had to show some trust, and I chose to believe that he was being faithful and sincere to me.
When I was done cleaning, I returned to the living room, but this time switched on the TV. By this time, I’d been there almost 3 hours, and I was starting to get nervous. Just as I was on the phone with the Nanny, checking on Gogo and Tubo, there was a knock on the door. Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was almost 10pm.
“How did you let yourself in?” Kachi asked, when I opened the door. “I should have listened to you about not leaving my key under that darned flower pot.”
I couldn’t help but glance behind him, to see if he had brought home any ‘company’.
“Where have you been?” I asked.
“Out with Hakeem and the other guys.” he answered. “I needed to take my mind off you and Pere…so I went to join them where they were having drinks.”
I sighed deeply. “Kachi…I’m sorry for lying to you. I’m sorry for not telling you everything. But you have to believe me when I say that we’re not back together!”
“Why not, Isio? I know it’s what you’ve always wanted.” he said. “If after wanting him for so long, he’s now trying to get back with you, how do you expect me to believe you haven’t jumped on it already?!”
“Because I’m in love with you.” I answered tearfully. “Because being with you has shown me that whatever I had with Pere was really nothing. Because being with you has shown me what real love truly is.”
“Isio…” he said, but his resolve had clearly melted. “I thought I’d prepared for myself for the possibility of you going back to Pere. But today…today I felt the kind of pain I have never felt in my life.”
I reached for his hand. “Kachi, you can’t keep on expecting the worst. You have to trust me. You have to trust us.”
“I’m just so scared of losing you…now more than ever.” he said, and for the first time, I saw that fear so evident in his eyes. He of all people knew just how long Pere had been in my life, and with the birth of our sons, I could finally understand his fears. But they were completely unfounded. Going back to Pere was absolutely not an option. How could I revert to eating fast food…when I’d already been introduced to the finest dining ever.
And so we sat in his living room, with me telling him all about Pere’s reappearance in my life the Sunday after our disagreement. I told him about the persistent-bordering-on-obsessive phone calls, and how I’d finally blocked his number that evening.
“You can’t block his number, Isio.” Kachi said. “He’s the father of your kids. He needs to be able to call you.”
“Not when he’s harassing me, he doesn’t!” I retorted. “I have never known Pere to be this obsessive, but I’m not going to continue subjecting myself to his harassment!”
“As for those flowers, Pere knew exactly what they would cause between you and I!” I continued ranting. “In all the years I’ve known Pere, he never gave me flowers. That’s not his style! Why then have them delivered to my house, on a Saturday afternoon, when he knew you would very likely be there. He did it on purpose!”
Kachi smiled. “He knows we’re together?”
“Of course he does!” I answered confidently. “I told him the last time I answered his call, so he’d stop bugging me.”
“Isio, cutting him off isn’t the solution. He is a part of the boys’ lives, and we just have to deal with it.”
“And what if he keeps on with his harassment?!” I asked, exasperated.
Kachi smiled again, but this time it was a sly smile. “Leave him to me.”
And that gave me all the confidence I needed.
Despite my desire not to leave until the next morning, he insisted on driving me back home at 1am in the morning.
“You might be able to control yourself…but I’m not sure I can.” had been his own response to my protests.
As I lay in my bed that night, I felt more peaceful than I had in a long time. I’d thought it was Pere’s harassment that was making me agitated, but apparently, it was the big secret I’d been keeping from my boyfriend. Now that everything was out there, and we’d been able to resolve our differences, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest.
As the weeks progressed, Kachi and grew even closer. This time, we both knew there were no more boundaries. We had no more secrets, and were no longer afraid to show the whole world our love. Well, the whole world except my parents. Even though I wanted so badly to tell them about him, I hadn’t been able to. I guess I was encouraged by Voke, who still hadn’t told them about Victor either. Her excuse was that she wasn’t ready for our mother’s drama, and frankly, neither was I. But as both of our relationships got more serious, we knew it wasn’t something we could put off for long.
But on the plus side was the fact that Pere’s calls had dramatically reduced. I’d reluctantly unbarred his number, and even though the days that followed had seen him continue to call me frantically, over the following weeks, the frequency had dramatically reduced as I never answered his calls, choosing instead to continue sending him pictures of the boys via WhatsApp. After trying to call me on that avenue as well, I guess he got the message that I was truly no longer interested.
And then in August 2017, I got what I had been longing for in the 8 years it had been since my return to Nigeria. I got a job with a major multinational oil company! At first, it had been like a joke. When I got the e-mail inviting me for an interview, I couldn’t even remember having applied for the role. I almost thought it was a prank. But a prank it was not, and I’d proceeded to go for that first interview, which was followed by a few more. And on August 8th, I got the email I’d daydreamt about for so long. I’d been accepted for the role of my dreams.
I’d immediately forwarded the e-mail to Kachi, and he’d called me back almost immediately. Together, we’d yelped, rejoiced and even cried. He knew how badly I wanted a better job, and to be offered one that paid 15x what my current one did, was a pure dream come true!
Resigning was one of the sweetest things I’d ever done. It had taken everything in me to wait out my notice period, as all I really wanted to do was live a life of leisure until my resumption in the new place in early September. But Kachi had advised me to do things right, as I had no idea where, or if, I’d ever need anything from my current company and/or its Principals. And so I waited.
My family was overjoyed by my new job offer, my parents especially. My mother must have spent the better part of an hour in praise worship over the fact that her black sheep daughter was finally moving up in life. Voke was overjoyed and joked about how she would enjoy being the ‘poorer’ sister for a change. As for me, I couldn’t help but marvel over what a wonderful year 2017 had been so far. I’d found true love…and gotten the job of my dreams. What on earth could wrong?
I was soon to find out that a lot could. A whole lot.
The Sunday before I was to resume at my new job, Kachi had driven me around for all my last minute errands; hair, nails and picking up other essentials. By the time we were driving into my street, it was raining cats and dogs. I guess that’s why I hadn’t noticed the tell-tale Mercedes parked on the side of the road. Kachi shielded me in a futile bid to protect my hair, and as we scampered through the heavy rain, into the compound and upstairs to my apartment, we were giggling like school children. But all the giggles dried up when we saw who was seated in the living room.
He rose to his feet, looking all dapper in a Hackett polo shirt and blue jeans…a sharp contrast to Kachi and I, who were soaked to our underwear.
“What are you doing here?” I demanded.
“I’m here to see my sons.” he answered me, but with his eyes fastened on Kachi.
“Hello Pere. Good to see you.” Kachi said, stretching his hand to shake him.
Pere didn’t even spare the outstretched hand a glance.
“That’s not our arrangement. You’re not supposed to come here unannounced. You’re supposed to let me know first!” I snapped. “Who let you in anyway?!”
“Considering you never answer my calls, I didn’t think there was any point calling.” he answered. “I guess lover boy has taken too much of your time.”
I was so angry, I could barely even think straight. With Voke being out, it was obvious one of the Nannies had let him in, and I made a mental note to let her know he was not to be given access to the house without my go-ahead.
“The boys are having a shower, in case you’re wondering where they are.” Pere said, sitting down again and assuming a comfortable position.
I opened my mouth to talk, but Kachi shook his head. He was right, there was no point stooping to Pere’s level. Leading Kachi by the hand, I took him to my bedroom so he could towel himself dry. Luckily, I had some of his drycleaning with me , so at least he’d have a decent change of clothes. I was just about to pull out a pair of track-downs and a t-shirt from my closet, when the door was flung open.
“Is this what you do in front of my sons?” Pere bellowed. “You entertain your lover in your bedroom, right in their presence?!”
“Pere, if you don’t get out of my room, I’m going to scream! What nonsense!” I exclaimed, more shocked than angry, amazed he’d actually had the effrontery to barge into my bedroom.
“So you even have your clothes here! How cosy!” Pere directed at Kachi. “Very romantic and cosy!”
But Kachi remained cool as a cucumber. “Pere, this is Isio’s bedroom. You don’t have any business here.”
“Who the hell are you to tell me that?!” Pere exploded. “Who the hell are you to tell me I don’t have any business in her bedroom? Where the hell did you come from? Do you know how long Isio and I have been involved? When I’m talking to my woman, don’t you dare get involved!”
“Which woman? Who is your woman?!” I shouted. “If you don’t leave my room right now, I’m going to report this to the Police and to Family Court! I’m going to make sure any access you have to the boys is permanently revoked!”
“Who the hell am I? I’m her boyfriend.” Kachi answered Pere. “And I think that gives me the right to ask you to leave…not just her room, but her house! You’ve seen your sons, there’s nothing else for you here. Next time you want to see them, as she said, do the right thing by getting in touch, and…”
Kachi was cut short as Pere suddenly advanced towards him to hit him. In one deft movement, he ducked out of the way and Pere’s fist went headlong into the wall-mounted mirror by my bed, shattering it to pieces. I screamed, and the commotion brought my two nannies scampering into the room, each of them holding one of the boys.
“Can you see what your lover did?!” Pere shouted, holding his bloodied hand. “Can you see what he did to me, Isio?”
Pere glared at me, and then at Kachi, before stalking off. The nannies also returned to the boys’ play area, leaving Kachi and I standing in the room, Kachi still half dressed and me still in my wet clothes, surrounded by several shards of glass.
And then we started laughing.
We laughed so hard, we were almost in tears. Even as we cleared up the glass from the ground, we still laughed. Though it wasn’t a laughing matter, we couldn’t help but be amused over how things had unfolded. Pere had come spoiling for a fight…and he’d given himself one, without any other person having to lift a finger.
Thankfully, by the time I resumed for work the next day, all was forgotten. And how wouldn’t it be? Just driving into the complex that morning gave me such a high, such a euphoric feeling of achievement! And walking through the corridors, being introduced to the predominantly American staff, I couldn’t help but think I’d truly arrived! And when Kachi took me out for drinks later that evening, to celebrate my first day at a much better job, I thought my joy was truly complete.
I should have known it was too good to last.
On Thursday that week, my father sent me a text message, summoning me to Ogudu the following Saturday. I knew it had nothing to do with the new job, as the old man had prayed every prayer and said every sayable in that regard. No, I knew it was something else…but something just as important. Even though I wanted to, I didn’t tell Kachi about the summon. There was no point worrying him, especially if there was nothing to worry about. But as Saturday drew closer, I got more determined to use the opportunity to tell my parents about him. There was no point waiting for Voke, who by all means didn’t appear to be in any hurry. Well, I was in a hurry. I had a feeling that my parents were the only thing stopping Kachi from asking me to marry him. I’d seen all the body language indicating his desire for me to be his wife, and I was certain that clearing this hurdle would help promote us to where we needed to be in our relationship.
I left for Ogudu early on Saturday, and got there a little before 9am. My plan was to have the talk quickly, and be back home before lunch time. From the uncharacteristically cold and awkward way my parents received me, it only confirmed to me that something was truly wrong.
“Isio, please sit down.” Dad said gravely, sending chills down my spine. I quickly obliged. “I don’t know where your mother and I went wrong with you. Maybe it’s all the foreign TV shows and movies we exposed you to, or maybe we made a mistake by allowing you and your sister move out of home too early, making you to lose your sense of right and wrong.”
I looked at him, startled. “What are you talking about?”
“Your mother and I have been married for 37 years! You and your sister were raised in a nuclear family unit…with a mother and a father. Even when my entire village was harassing me to marry another woman who would give me sons, I vehemently refused…and it wasn’t only because of my love for your mother. I didn’t want to expose you to any step-whatever. No step-mother. No step-brother or sister. And definitely no step-father!”
My nostrils flared and I pursed my lips, the realization of where he was headed hitting me.
“So why you are hell bent on raising your children in some kind of scattered and confused manner just boggles my mind, because that was not what you saw growing up!” he continued.
“There is nothing ‘scattered or confused’ about how I’m raising my children.” I muttered.
“The father of those innocent boys was here to see me. He came to see me with his family.” Dad continued. “Is it true that you have been turning down his request to marry him and be a family?”
“Marry ke?! Nobody said anything about marriage oh! He’s just been harassing me with endless phonecalls…”
“Will you shut up your mouth there!” my mother snapped. “Harrasing ko! Was he harassing you when you opened your legs wide for him?”
“The young man says he wants to be with you, and your mother and I think it’s the right thing to do.” Dad continued. “It is unfair to those children to raise them as bastards. Pere says he loves you, so I don’t see what the problem is.”
“Well, I don’t love him!” I answered, crossing my arms defiantly, determined not to be bullied.
Dad nodded grimly. “He says you are seeing another man. Is that true?” he finally asked.
With courage I had no idea where it had come from, I looked the old man in the eye. “Yes, I do. His name is Kachi. He’s a great guy, and…”
“Is it also true that this your ‘boyfriend’ viciously attacked Pere last weekend?” Dad asked. “Pere showed us the wounds he got from the scuffle with this ‘boyfriend’ of yours.”
My mouth literally dropped to the floor. “He’s lying! He’s the one who tried to attack Kachi, but hit the mirror instead.”
“Isio, I didn’t call you here to drag words with you!” Dad said in a voice louder than anything I’d heard from him my entire life. “I summoned you to tell you that enough is enough with this rubbish! I have kept quiet for far too long. I am not going to allow you raise my grandchildren surrounded by strange men, not when their biological father has expressed a sincere desire to remedy his own past mistakes and to be a family. Next weekend, Pere’s family will be here, and we are going to pick a wedding date…”
I shot to my feet, also having heard enough. “I’m afraid that’s not going to happen! I’m never going back to Pere! Never! I’m in love with Kachi, and he’s the one I’m going to be with, whether you like it or not!”
“How dare you talk to your father that way?!” Mom shouted, also shooting to her feet. “And what love are you talking about? You want to be there, having children for different men, no be so? I didn’t train any ashawo in my house oh!”
“I’m not an ashawo!” I said, glaring at her before turning to my father. “And I’m not going to be forced into any marriage with Pere. If that’s what you called me here for, then sorry to disappoint you!”
And with that, I stormed out of the house and into my car. I half expected the old folks to chase after me, but they didn’t. As I made the drive back to Lekki, I felt both saddened by the outcome of the discussion, and relieved at the same time. At least, if nothing, I’d told them about Kachi. Any further discussion could never be as disastrous as what had already transpired.
Getting home, I told Voke all about the catastrophic visit, and she hadn’t seemed the least bit bothered.
“You know the folks are traditional, and they would always sway in the direction of the children’s biological father.” she said. “It would take maybe God to convince them that Pere isn’t the right person for you, so don’t even waste your breath. In the end, they’ll get tired.”
“But what if they never give Kachi and I their blessings?” I asked. “What if they never allow Kachi and I get married?”
“Has he asked?” she asked. When I shook my head, she patted my arm. “Then stop borrowing tomorrow’s worries for today. Let him ask first. Then we’ll have no choice but to cross that bridge.”
And I had no choice but to be satisfied with that.
When I saw Kachi later in the day, it took everything in me not to blurt out what had happened with my parents. But I chose to do as Voke advised instead. There was no need worrying about tomorrow today. Try as they might, my parents couldn’t force me to marry Pere. So the worst that would happen would be that we’d all remain in status quo, until the first person to proverbially blink. And if I was still unmarried at 40, then I’m sure they’d have no choice but to let me be with whom I wanted. Fine, I still had 6 years to hit the milestone, but it was something to consider.
Somehow, I was able to push the encounter to the back of my mind, and life went on as normal. With the boys turning one year old at the end of the month, I had more than enough to occupy my mind with. Even though I had no intentions of throwing a big party, I knew it wasn’t something that could breeze by just like that. All it took to remind me of the need for thanksgiving were the 6 weeks we spent in the NICU. Thinking back to how small and fragile they had been, and seeing them now, all chubby and boisterous, I knew we couldn’t but thank God. It could have gone either way, and I was all too aware of it.
I can’t really say when the sudden change in Kachi’s behavior started. I think it was sometime later that week, when he called to let me know he wouldn’t be able to pick me up from work, as always. ‘A late meeting’ he’d said. In all fairness to him, I couldn’t really blame him. With my new office on the Lekki expressway, it was out of the way for him, but he’d insisted on coming to pick up everyday, regardless. Somewhere deep in my heart, I’d known it wasn’t sustainable.
“Will I see you later?” I’d asked.
“I have a bit of a headache, Isio.” he’d answered. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Now that was a first for us, but I chose to think nothing of it. The next day, he also called with an excuse not to pick me up from work, and gave yet another flimsy excuse for not coming to see me. The following day, Saturday, he said he had to run some important errands for his father all day, but by Sunday, when he tried to give me an excuse for not being able to make our routine Sunday lunch, I knew something was up.
“What on earth is going on, Kachi?” I exclaimed. “Since Thursday, it has been one excuse after the other. This is the longest we’ve gone without seeing each other, and I’m not sure I like it! What’s wrong?”
I’d half expected him to berate me for reading unnecessary meaning into things, which is why I’d been surprised by the lengthy pause on the phone.
“I’ve had a lot on my mind, Isio.” he answered after a while.
“What do you mean by a lot on your mind?” I asked, my heart racing.
“Babes, could you please give me a few days to work some things out? I’m dealing with a lot right now.” he answered.
“Sure.” I said, trying to sound supportive, even though I was dying inside.
For the rest of the day, I moved around the house like a ghost on auto pilot, my mind coming up with all sorts of reasons for his sudden withdrawal. Was it another woman? Had his family just been pretending the day I’d met them and later on told him they forbade us being together? Or was he simply tired of me?
I couldn’t even bring myself to tell Voke about what had happened, choosing instead to just pray that whatever was eating him would quickly run its course, and that we’d be back together soon. With the boys birthday the following week, I needed him more than ever.
On Monday, for the first time in a long time, I had to drive myself to work. I waited with bated breath for him to call, but he didn’t. The same thing happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday, I was just about going out of my mind, when he finally called as I was getting ready for work.
“My love.” was all he’d said, and I immediately burst into tears.
“Kachi, what on earth is going on with you?!” I cried. “This has been one whole week since you’ve been acting all weird! What’s going on?”
“I’m really sorry, babes. I just had a lot of stuff to work through in my mind.” he answered. “But I’ve missed you. This has been the hardest week of my life.”
“I’ve missed you too.” I answered, overwhelmed with relief.
“Let me make it up to you tonight. Can I take you out for dinner this evening?” he asked.
“Young man, you have a whole lot of making up to do!” I laughed. “I hope it’s somewhere fancy.”
“Somewhere very fancy!” he answered. “I know I don’t need to tell you to dress the part.”
“You can trust me!” I said, mentally deciding against the shirt and pants outfit I’d already planned, and opting for one of my more elegant work dresses.
“I love you, Isio.” he said suddenly.
“I love you, my Kachi.” I answered, my heart melted to butter.
All through my work day, all I could think of was that evening with Kachi. After a whole week of not seeing him, my feelings for him were even more amplified. I loved him so much more than I could ever have imagined possible. And even though I was overdressed for a Thursday, all it took was for me to think of the evening that lay ahead, to put a big smile on my face. In my former life, I would have been planning to give him the sex of his life that night. But the new and reformed Isio knew there were so many other ways to express my love for him. A part of me wondered if he was going to propose that day, and it gave me even more butterflies in my stomach.
And when I saw him in our car park later that evening, I was so happy that tears started pouring down my face.
“Hey, I didn’t know I looked that bad!” he teased, pulling me into an embrace. “I’ve really missed you, Isio!”
I held on to him, still crying. “Don’t you ever do this to me again!”
“You’re going to spoil your makeup!” he teased, pulling away from me and handing me his handkerchief. “Not that you’re not even more beautiful without it.”
I dabbed expertly at my eyes. “I put in too much energy to this look to let my makeup to get ruined!”
“You look amazing, by the way!” Kachi said. “But then again, you always do.”
I smiled at him, glad he’d noticed. “You likeee?”
“I likeee very much.” he answered, kissing me on the bridge of my nose. “We better get out of here before you get fired for too much PDA!”
Laughing, I let him lead me to his car. By this time, it was getting dark and it was already the perfect time for dinner. As we drove down the express and back to Victoria Island, I stole several glances at him, looking for any clues that indicated he was going to pop the question. He wasn’t dressed out of the ordinary, but he did appear nervous. Several times, I saw his grip on the steering wheel tighten, and he also had a faraway look on his face sometimes. But it all served to confirm to me that I was right. He was definitely up to something that night.
As we drove, my phone vibrated several times. Glancing at it, I wondered why Voke was calling me so desperately. But I wasn’t about to share the evening with anyone else but Kachi. I wasn’t going to spoil the mood by answering any call from her. I knew it wasn’t anything serious, and even if it was, she had Victor. For tonight, my cardinal priority was the man I loved with all my heart. My Kachi.
Driving into Lagoon restaurant, my brow rose. “You really meant it when you said fancy!” Kachi smiled as he got out of the car, and made his way to open the door for me. “Ever the gentle man!” I teased.
He smiled again and took me by the hand, as we walked up to the building. But a few feet from the door, he stopped.
“I forgot something in the car. I need to go get it.” he said. “Go inside and wait for me. I’ve already reserved a table.”
I smiled slyly. He’d probably forgotten the ring. “Sure.”
His face suddenly went serious, and without warning, he cupped my face and kissed me deeply. As we kissed, it didn’t even matter to me that the place was teeming with people. It just felt like the most beautiful, the most natural thing in the whole wide world.
“I know!” I smiled. “And you are mine.”
He stepped back. “Go inside. I’ll be right there.”
Still smiling, I walked into the restaurant and was just about to ask a nearby waiter for our reserved table, when I noticed a table full of people…familiar people. I looked in shock as I recognised my parents, Pere’s mother, two of his brothers, and even Voke and Victor.
I looked around in shock, and looked back to see if Kachi was coming in, wondering how on earth I would explain this crazy coincidence to him. A coincidence I didn’t even understand. I looked at Voke, who was trying to mouth something I didn’t understand either.
And then Pere stepped forward.
“Isio, I was a fool for a very long time. Not even when all the forces of nature tried to bring us together did I recognize that you are the only one I have ever loved…and will ever love. For close to two decades, you have been the other part of me. Even when we’ve been apart, my heart has always yearned for you, even if I have often tried to fight it.”
And then he got down on one knee.
“Will you make me the happiest man in the world…and marry me?” he asked.
I looked around stunned. I looked at my parents, who were beaming with pride. I looked at Voke, whose face was set like stone. And then I looked at Pere, looking up at me with so much longing.
And then I turned around and ran out of the restaurant.
“Kachi!” I called out, running to where we’d parked. “Kachi, let’s get out of here!”
But the car wasn’t there.
I looked around desperately, wondering if maybe he’d changed his parking position. I ran around the entire car park, looking for the blue Toyota Lancruiser. But it was nowhere to be found.
And standing in the car park, I realised what had happened.
Kachi had surrendered me to Pere.
Catch up on Isio’s story here:
- Iya Beji 1: A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Iya Beji 2: Destiny Blocker
- Iya Beji 3: Daisy
- Iya Beji 4: Upgrade
- Iya Beji 5: Bleeding Love
- Iya Beji 6: The Beast
- Iya Beji 7: The Standby Guy
- Iya Beji 8: The Boss
- Iya Beji 9: The Deal Breaker
- Iya Beji 10: The Convert
- Iya Beji 11: Hiatus
- Iya Beji 12: Never Stopped
- Iya Beji 13: Jealousy
- Iya Beji 14: Pure Magic
- Iya Beji 15: Congratulations, Mrs. Clarke!
- Iya Beji 16: Blast from the Past
- Iya Beji 17: The Offer
- Iya Beji 18: Co-Parenting
- Iya Beji 19: The Baby Mama
- Iya Beji 20: Carried Away
- Iya Beji 21: The Return of Belinda
- Iya Beji 22: Gender Reveal
- Iya Beji 23: Bargaining Tool
- Iya Beji 24: The Wedding That Would Never Be
- Iya Beji 25: Voke versus Belinda
- Iya Beji 26: Somewhere Far Away
- Iya Beji 27: Damsel in Distress
- Iya Beji 28: Inconsequential
- Iya Beji 29: Something Beautiful
- Iya Beji 30: Yesterday’s Mistake
- Iya Beji 31: Miami Magic
- Iya Beji 32: Special Care
- Iya Beji 33: Winning the War
- Its Beji 34: Quicksand
- Iya Beji 35: Epic Easte of Time
- Iya Beji 36: Just Friends
- Iya Beji 37: Taking it slowly
- Iya Beji 38: The Comeback