”I am serious dear” , Richard says to Chichi.
They both sit down on the sofa .
“Do you have a preferred TV channel?”, Chichi says to him as she picks up the remote control from the stool beside her.
“What’s that on the dining table?”, Richard asks while looking into that direction .
“Oh ! that is my ludo game. Do you remember ludo? Or are you too sophisticated to know the game?” , she says to him jokingly .
“Chichi bring that game here ! , I will show you who the master of the game is”, he replies with a mischievous smile.
After an hour of playing the game, Chichi says to him
“I need to go to the shop close by to pick some toiletries before they close for the day”.
“Don’t tell me it’s because I beat you back to back”, Richard says with a smile.
” I just allowed you to win. After all you are my guest”, she says with a charming smile on her face.
” I could escort you ,if you don’t mind”, Richard replies.
“Okay! ,you are going to carry all the bags. That’s your punishment for winning me in my own house”, she says to him in a playful manner.
“Yes madam Chichi”, he replies jokingly.
Chichi wears a comfortable foot wear and goes with Richard to the shop.
He waits for her to place the toiletries in her room before saying “I have to go home now dear.I had a great time “.
” I had fun too”, Chichi replies.
“Can I have your phone number ? “,he asks.
Chichi gives him her number as she sees him off to his car.
They both say goodnight to each other and Chichi walks back into the house whistling like a love struck teenager.
Dinner turns out to be better than Ekanem expects. She enjoys her delicious meal and fine wine served in one of the best restaurants in Lagos.
Kola’s sanguine nature helped to make the outing even more interesting. He always had stories and analogies to make.
They both get into Kola’s car after dinner. As he drives her home, he says to her; “I am so glad that I agreed to the blind date. I hated the idea initially because I actually like to be in charge of things like that. I am happy that Chioma insisted “.
“Hmm ” ,Ekanem replies.
” I am like an open book Ekanem, What you see ,is what you get.I am not here to play. I like you a lot. Can you give me a chance to know you better? , he says to her.
“Okay! I actually admire your honesty, let’s just take our time to get to know each other better”, she replies.
They arrive at her house. Kola walks her to the door .He hugs her and says” I will call you before you go to bed”.
“Okay, thanks for a great evening”, she replies.
Ekanem enters her house and meets Chichi cleaning up the kitchen.
“You are welcome lover girl!” , Chichi says to Ekanem.
” I should be calling you that. For Richard to come to the house without calling me to inform me.Hmmm, is there something that you are not telling me? , Ekanem replies with a straight face.
“There is nothing going on between Richie and I”, she says in a fidgety manner.
“You know that you can always tell me when you are ready ” ,Ekanem replies .
“Forget about me for now.How about Toks? “, have you heard from him? , Chichi asks Ekanem.
“Yes ! ,he sent me a text message apologising for walking out on me. He blamed it on the emotional trauma he is currently facing” ,Ekanem replies.
“So what are you going to do now?.This guy really cares about you Eky”, Chichi says to her.
”I care about him Chichi”, Ekanem says to her.” The problem is that I am not sure that I want to live a life that would be under constant scrutiny, it would entail my abandoning everything I have worked so hard for all these years”, Ekanem says to her with sadness .
“Does it really matter? I think the real issue here is fear .You are so scared of giving your heart to a guy.You will both eventually figure out how you will handle your career “; Chichi replies.
“Why should I be scared?Meanwhile I am sure that Toks would be angry with me for not going with him to see his dad who is very ill”, she says to Chichi.
“It’s not too late dear , first of all, you need to stop leading that Chioma’s guy on and make effort to see the guy you really love “,Chichi replies.
” I feel terrible for not going with him. What if he doesn’t take me back?”, Ekanem says to Chichi.
“It won’t hurt to try first “,Chichi says to her.
Ekanem nods her head in agreement and goes into her room to retire for the day.
Just as she lies on the bed after taking a bath, she gets a call from Kola.
“Hi dear”, he says to her.
“Hi kola”, she replies .
” I hope you are resting? .I had a great day, thanks to you”, he says to her .
“Thank you. I was actually about to sleep before your call came in” ,she replies.
“Oh! Okay, let me allow you sleep then.Goodnight dear”, he says to her.
“Good night ” ,she replies.
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Ekanem wakes up the following day .She is glad that the Christmas holidays start the following day because of her plans to go in search of Toks.
As she walks towards her car after giving her last lecture for the year, she gets a call from Richard.
“Hi Ekanem! , are you free at the moment?” , he says to her .
” I am actually about to go home. I hope you are okay? ” , she replies with a soft voice.
“I will meet you at the parking lot in less than 2 minutes”, he says to her and ends the conversation.
Ekanem enters her car and scrolls through her social media messages. She wonders what Richard wants to say to her in such a hurry.
He finally gets to her car and knocks on the driver’s car window to alert her of his presence.
“Hey Richie! “, she says to him as he opens the front passenger’s seat for him to enter the vehicle.
“Hi gorgeous! .How was your day? “, he replies.
“Not bad at all ” ,she says to him.
“Ekanem what plans do you have for the holiday? “, he asks with a smile.
“I don’t have clear cut plans yet” , she replies.
“If you aren’t travelling to stay with your family, we could visit a resort close to Lagos this holiday”, he says to her.
“That sounds fun but I don’t think it’s such a good idea”, she replies.
“Why not?” , he replies.
“Richard we have been best of friends for some time now.I don’t really understand what kind of game you are playing”, she says to him.
“What game Eky? I do not understand what you are talking about”, he replies.
“You asked me out some months back and you are currently getting close to Chichi, not that it bothers me anyway. I just want to be sure that you know what you want”, she says to him.
“Do I smell jealousy in the air ? “,he replies with a mischievous smile on his face.
“Far from it Richie! “, she says to him.
“Well Ekanem if you must know. I am tired!.I am tired of watching you go out with other men. I am tired of watching you give your heart and attention to someone else when I who has been your best friend is left to scramble for the few minutes we spend together. I love you so much that it hurts.I decided to get close to your house mate to test your love for me.I thought that perhaps you would be jealous of our closeness or better still get angry when you see Chichi talking to me over the phone”, he says to her with a loud voice .
“Wow!” ,Ekanem replies with shock written all over her face.
” I guess that’s all you have to say after watching me make fool of myself”, he says to her with sadness in his eyes.
“Richie! Calm down! “, she replies.
“It’s okay Ekanem. It’s crystal clear that you can never love me” , he says to Ekanem.
” I love you as a”. ..Ekanem replies .
“As a brother, isn’t it? “, he says to her.“Goodbye! Ekanem”, he says to her as he tries to leave the car.
Ekanem goes after him and holds his hand.
“I need you to keep being my best friend and brother .I can’t bear to loose you Richie!” , she says to him with a soft voice.