Thirty minutes later, she heard the door-bell. Her heart beat began to race. Was he the one? She wasn’t expecting anyone else other than Edet Udeme, her very own God-sent angel. She jumped up from the settee and staggered a bit. She adjusted the cap-sleeve, round neckline, sky blue cotton blouse she was putting on over a three quarter blue jeans and walked up to the front door. She peeped through the key hole, took a deep breath and exhaled. Smiled and unlocked the door.
“Hi…” she whispered and cleared her throat.
Edet stood at the door, clad in a short-sleeve, white tee-shirt over a knee-length brown khaki shorts.
“Hi…” he smiled back at her. His dark brown gaze sized her up. She looked appealing in the simple outfit.
“Em… please come in,” she noticed the two heavy looking black Bagco bags in his hands and stepped back into the flat. She raised an eyebrow, wondering what was in the bags. She thought he said he would buy lunch on his way to her place. She assumed that he was coming with fast food, or did she imagine the conversation?
“Where is the kitchen?” he walked in, taking a quick look at the apartment. He liked the way the brown coloured chairs blended with the cream and coffee brown curtains by the two large windows.
“Em… come with me,” she led the way.
He followed her to an open doorway leading to the kitchen. A small space with a cabinet bearing the sink and several drawers. He could see a toaster, blender, and a microwave on the cabinet. There was a refrigerator to his right, and a two burner table top gas cooker placed on a wooden support attached to the wall, to his left. He placed the Bagco bags in front of the refrigerator, opened it and brought out four large tubers of yam, about a dozen big sized sweet potatoes, grounded melon seeds, ogbonna and crayfish, in separate polythene bags, six large dried catfish, a 5kg rice sack, two modules of brown beans tied in a black polythene bag, a paint container of white and yellow garri, tied in different polythene bags, a 2kg pack of Semovita, Wheat, Poundo yam, bottles of palm-oil and vegetable oil, two sachets of Maggi, rolls of curry and thyme sachets, onions, tomatoes, pepper, a crate of eggs, a carton of indomie, a carton of spaghetti, a big tin of chocolate beverage, milk, two packs of Saint Luis sugar, a 2kg pack of Sunlight detergent, two frozen full chicken, three large frozen fish and two pack of fried rice and chicken with salad from Tantalizer.
Edua dropped her jaw in amazement. She was completely blown away by the amount of foodstuff on the kitchen floor, provided by just one person. Her mental calculation summed the purchase to be about a little over twenty-five thousand naira.
“I hope this covers almost everything you need,” he turned to look at her and noticed the tear-drops sliding down her oval shaped fair face.
She nodded her head and smiled at him broadly, unable to utter a word.
“Hey… are you crying?” he took a step towards her, “Don’t cry, today, I am your Knight in shining armour responding to the needs of my damsel in distress.”
She sniffled, “Thank you,” she whispered and met his dark brown calm stare.
“You are welcome Princess. You know I love you and I am ready to take care of you. Just call my name and I will be there,” he sounded serious.
She chuckled and brushed the back of her hand against her wet face. Why was he always talking humorous nonsense?
He sensed her disbelief. “Okay, let’s eat. I am quite famished,” he picked up the two packs of fried rice and chicken and headed out.
“I will bring water. Sorry, I don’t have any juice or soft drink,” she opened the refrigerator and brought out a bottle of water.
“Water sounds good,” he settled on one of the seats in the sitting room, opened a pack of food and started to eat.
Edua joined him on the two-settee. She filled two glasses with water and picked up the other pack of food.
“You don’t believe that I love you,” he bit into the grilled chicken.
She shrugged and swallowed the food in her mouth. “You don’t know me.”
He smiled, “I think I do. Slay Mama turned born-again Christian.”
She chuckled and glanced at him, “That is not even close.”
“I can imagine your entire life, what else is there to know?” he chewed the bone and dropped the empty plastic plate on the center table.
She took a deep breath, exhaled and ate the rest of the food. He had no idea what she had been through in the past.
“Nothing in this whole wide world can stand against my love for you,” he emptied the glass and refilled it with water.
“Hmm… wait till you hear my story,” she chewed the rest of the meat. It had been a while since she had a very good meal. She thought of the foodstuff in the kitchen. She was going to cook a storm. She had enough to last her for at least three weeks or more.
“Okay, let’s hear your story,” he crossed his legs and faced her. His attention was focused on her averted face.
She gulped down the water and sighed heavily. “It is a very, very long story,” she leaned against the chair.
He shrugged, “I am all ears.”
Her light brown eyes became misty, as she narrated how her own mother sold her off to men old enough to be her grand-father. How she grew up dating high classed money-bags and wealthy men in the society, her reconciliation with God, broken relationships and her journey so far.
Edet could hardly believe what she went through. It all sounded like fiction, an evil nightmare. His heart ached for her. Now, he understood why she didn’t believe that he truly loved her. The first time he saw her at the mechanic shop, he had a knowing within him that she was the one for him, his missing rib. Although he had a feeling that she lived a wild life, he believed that God was going to rescue her. He had been praying for her every single day in the last two years. He was happy that she was now on the Lord’s side.
“Your story breaks my heart,” his voice cracked with emotion.
She turned to him, expecting to see disgust, repulsion or animosity in his eyes, but, the love in his dark brown eyes entrapped her in its fullness. She was completely astounded. What kind of a man was he?
“I can understand why the men you dated couldn’t handle your past. It takes the grace of God to be able to bear such burden. In our society of today, the stigma of what you went through can be catastrophic. No one wants to be associated with someone who had such a past,” he sighed heavily, overwhelmed by the circumstances surrounding her past.
She nodded with understanding. She didn’t blame Chidi and Kolawole anymore. It was no fault of theirs that they couldn’t accept her past.
Edet reached out for her hands and held it. “Your past is past. You need to be able to forgive your mother and yourself, so that your heart and soul can heal up and become whole.”
She bit at her lower lip. Forgiving herself was one thing, but, forgiving her mother was another. There was a period in her life when she actually loathed the woman. She doesn’t hate her anymore, but, even if she could find it in her heart to forgive her, she doubted if she would ever be able to forget. He noticed the conflict in her light brown eyes,
“Forgiveness is possible,” he squeezed her hands. “Ask Jesus to help you. He is the greatest forgiver of all.”
She sighed heavily. She had always known that she needed to let go of her hurts and pains and allow God to take control of her entire life. It was a Herculean task. Once in a while, she still had nightmares of her defilement as a child. Sometimes, she doubted if she would ever be able to get over it.
“Praying for your mother, and all those men that has hurt you in the past, will help you to forgive each and every one of them,” the sadness in her eyes tugged at his heart. She raised an eyebrow. Was it possible to pray for mercy for the men who defiled her? Wasn’t she supposed to be praying that God should bring down his wrath on them and their generations unborn?
“With God, all things are possible,” he assured her.
She dropped her gaze. It was going to be very difficult to pray for mercy for her mother and every man that has hurt her.
“When you start to forgive them, when you start to let go of your past, all the hurts, heartaches and pains, your heart and your soul will heal up and become whole. God will also be able to transform your life and everything will start to work for your good.” She took in a deep breath and exhaled loudly.
“Remember, even before you knew God, he forgave you. Nothing on this earth can separate you from his marvelous love, not even your past,” his face brightened as he talked about God’s love.
“Romans 8:35,” she recollected the scriptural verse.
“Exactly. Jesus has forgotten all about your ugly past. He sees you as a completely different person, cleansed and purified by his blood.”
She lifted her head and met his calm gaze.
“I love you Edua. I am not going anywhere. I am going to love you until you love me back. I am going to chase you until you trust me enough to let me into your heart. I am not giving up until you agree to spend the rest of your life with me.”
She blinked and stared back at him. He was definitely crazy. She couldn’t believe that after everything she had told him, he was still claiming to love her. What was wrong with the guy? Was he possessed or drunk or something?
“You are crazy…” she whispered.
He started to laugh. “I know. I am crazy about you Princess.”
She pulled her hands away from his grip. “What about your family?” fear gripped her. She would never forget the way she felt when Chidi’s siblings rejected her. “Your friends? What if your people find out about who I was?”
“I will try and convince them all that you have changed. You are not that person anymore.”
“What if they do not believe you? What if they…”
He reached out for her hands again. “Sssssh….”
She fell silent and looked into his loving eyes. The ocean of peace in his eyes calmed the raging storm within her.
“It doesn’t matter what anyone say or do. I love you. Nothing is going to stop me from spending the rest of my life with you,” he spoke softly, with confidence.
She began to shake her head in distress. It was all too good to be true.
“I am not letting you go, ever,” his comforting stare didn’t dissipate her anxiety.
“This is crazy…” she muttered under her breath.
“I want to meet your mum, and your pastor.”
She eyed him, “Why?”
“I want to introduce myself and ask for your hand in marriage.” She gaped at him.
“I believe that in the next three months, we can get to know everything else about ourselves.”
She began to shake her head again.
“Your likes, dislikes, what you like to eat, what you want to do with your life, your favourite places on planet earth, your strengths and weaknesses, how many kids you want to have, what you cannot live without, and every other thing people do and discuss in their dating relationships,” he grinned at her, sensing her apprehension.
“In three months?” she looked him up and down.
He nodded with confidence, “Everything is possible darling. Just believe it.”
“Everything is possible…” she repeated.
“I love you Edua, I am not going to stop loving you, ever.”
Their gazes locked. He leaned forward and sealed her lips with a passionate kiss. She froze for a moment, then relaxed. She placed her hands around his neck and kissed him back.
He broke off and let her go. “I have to go.” He had been dying to kiss her since he walked through her door.
She nodded, unable to look at him. The kiss had awakened the feelings she had been trying to bury since she ran into him some weeks ago.
“Text me your account number. I want to send you something. I spent all the money I had on me at the market.”
“Okay,” she sighed with relief. If he sent the money that day, she would be able to go out the next day.
He got up and pulled her up to her feet. “We are going to be fine, everything is going to be all right,” he brushed a hand over her smooth face.
She met his affectionate stare. She was starting to believe him.
“Let’s make this official. Edua Imasogie, will you go out with me?” he winked at her.
She started to laugh. She felt a rush of warm feelings coursing through her.
“I want to go out with you and marry you in the next three months,” he sounded serious.
“Wait…” she raised a hand, “Let’s start dating first, then, in time, we will talk about marriage.”
“Is that a yes?” he beamed.
“Yes to what?” she stared back at him.
“Dating and marriage?” he grinned from ear to ear.
“Edet…” she groaned inwardly.
“Come on babe,” he drew her close. “Man pikin no fit wait past three months o, body no be firewood.”
She erupted in laughter.
“I am serious here. You know that you are a very pretty woman and you’ve got the body of a Roman goddess…” he sized her up again and shuddered visibly.
“Hmmm…” his perusal made her feel jittery.
“Three months; dating, introduction, traditional marriage and church wedding,” he outlined his plans without mincing words.
“God help us…” she mumbled.
“I am asking you again, will you go out with me?” his intense gaze settled on her lost in thought eyes.
She blinked and looked into his firm, adoring gaze. “Yes.”
“Okay. Will you spend the rest of your life with me?” his dark brown eyes bored into hers.
An uneasiness took over her expression. What would her mother say? The woman would definitely turn her into a laughing stock. What about church people? They would think she had gone crazy or worse. Getting married to a common mechanic might be like falling from grace to grass, but, come to think of it, being a mechanic was also a decent profession.
Her mechanic was a loving man. A man who loved God and loved her beyond words could express. He was her Knight in shining armour, her very own Prince charming. She liked him. She really, really liked him. She was also intensely attracted to him. In time, she believed that she would also grow in love with him, as heady and intoxicating as he loved her. He was right. Anything longer than three months wasn’t advisable in their circumstance.
“Edua, will you marry me?” he looked deep into her light brown eyes.
She breathed out loudly, “Yes, yes, I will marry you,” she smiled at him, eyes gleaming with adoration and affection.
Edet felt elated. He sighed with relief. His dreams were coming true in leaps and bounds. The tenderness in her eyes warmed his heart. He knew she was growing fond of him, and in time, she would love him as much as he loved her