“This is my house dear”, he says to her with a smile.
“What a lovely house you’ve got !” ,she replies as she looks at the house with admiration.
They both got down from the car. As they walk towards the front door, Ekanem looks at the beautiful outdoor Christmas decorations. The garden as well as the exterior aspect of the house are lit with white light. The pillars and the front of the house are adorned with beautiful Christmas garlands.
As Ekanem approaches Toks’s front door, she notices the pre-lit ornament wreath hanging on the door .
She smiles to herself as she wonders in her heart how much time and effort Toks put into transforming his house into a fairy-tale Christmas castle.
He ushers her into his house. They both sit down on the brown sofa located in the living room.
“I am so glad that you are here .I have longed for a time like this.Welcome to my humble abode” , he says to her as he looks into Ekanem’s beautiful eyes.
” I am equally happy to see you again and please this house is far from being humble”, she replies.
“Thank you dear “, he says to her.
Ekanem smiles at him and says “how is your dad’s health? “.
“Surprisingly, with prayers and this new diet regimen that everyone is talking about recently, dad has improved greatly. He will be going to Germany to see his oncologist in January .We are hoping for the best Eky! “,he says to her with a soft voice.
“You have to keep being positive. His life is in God’s hands” ,she replies and places one hand in his to comfort him.
“It has been a very difficult period for my family .My mum is almost a shadow of herself. It’s not easy watching the love of your life suffer from such a deadly disease ” , he says to her with sadness in his eyes.
As she attempts replying him,a man walks into the living room to announce that dinner is served.
“Please join me at the dining table”, he says to Ekanem .
“Okay”, she replies as she follows him to the dining area.
They sat across each other at the dining table .The light from the beautiful crystal chandelier not only provided the necessary illumination but created a welcoming ambience.
” I asked my chef to prepare local dishes for us.I hope you don’t mind”, he says to her .
“I don’t mind at all”, she replies .
Goat meat pepper soup, local rice with ofada sauce and Ekpang nkukwo are available.
Ekanem smiles when she hears the last food option .They both settle for Ekpang nkukwo after taking a bowl of pepper soup.
They both enjoy their meal thoroughly and decide to have a slice of red velvet cake .
“Thanks for the meal, your chef certainly deserves an award”, Ekanem says to him with a smile.
They return to the living room .Ekanem sits beside him while Toks turns slightly to face her .
He looks into her eyes and smiles.
“Why are you smiling?” , Ekanem asks jokingly .
“You make me happy Ekanem that’s why “,he replies.
“Hmmm”, Ekanem says to him.
“Why did you come to the coffee shop to look for me Ekanem? “, he asks while staring into her beautiful brown eyes.
Ekanem is silent for a moment then replies with a soft voice “I just decided to find out if you had returned from your trip since I couldn’t reach you via your phone.I was worried about your dad’s health “.
Ekanem moves her gaze away from him and begins to fiddle with her phone.
Toks smiles and says “really ! Is that the only reason why you came? “.
“What do you really want from me?”,Ekanem replies as he looks into his eyes .
” I want the truth”, he says to her .
“Will it really make a difference ? “She replies hastily and stands up from the sofa.
Ekanem goes to a corner of the living room .She sees a painting which draws her attention and as she stares at the painting, Toks walks towards her.
He comes up behind her and places his right hand on her shoulder. He then whispers into her ear “Stop doing this to us “.
“Doing what ? “,Ekanem replies with a soft voice .
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Toks turns her around to face him and says ” stop delaying what is inevitable Ekanem “.
“I don’t understand what you mean”, she replies .
There’s silence in the room. He looks at her with a straight face and says ” stop lying to yourself,your mouth says things which are contrary to how you feel. Your eyes say it all “.
“Hmm”, Ekanem says with a smile on her face.
“Can we go for a walk? “, Toks asks.
“Okay, I could do with some fresh air”, she replies.
He leads her through the back door towards the garden .Ekanem admires the beautiful waterfront which has a jetty on their way to the garden.
They decide to sit on the wooden garden bench in order to rest their legs.
“What a nice garden you have got here” ,Ekanem says to Toks.
“Thanks dear”, he replies.
She looks into his eyes and says” thank you for a lovely evening”.
“Thank you too. It has been great having you by my side”,he replies.
Ekanem smiles in return and places her head on his well toned arm.Toks takes her right hand in his left hand .
” I love you so much Ekanem”, he says to her with a soft voice.
Ekanem tightens the hand grip and replies “I love you too”.
” I want you to know that I would never take you for granted, I know how far you have gone in your career and how passionate you are about impacting knowledge on others.I love you too much to ask you to give up on what you have worked so hard to achieve all these years.I will never stop you from being the best you can be”, Toks says to her.
Ekanem smiles but wonders in her heart if a but would follow his statement.”Is he trying to give a reason for walking away from me?” ,she says to herself.
He gets up from his chair and stands in front of her .In less than 5 seconds, he brings out a ring from the pocket of his trouser.
“He gets down on one knee and whilst looking into her eyes he says to her ” I may not have it all figured out darling, I may not be the best man out there but one is certain, I don’t want to live without you by my side.
You brought me out of my misery when I heard that a certain lady which fit your description has been looking for me .Will you marry this guy who is crazy in love with you?” , Toks says to her with a soft voice.
Ekanem trying so hard to hold back the tears from her eyes as he spoke to her says to him with a smile on her face ,”No one has ever understood and loved me the way that you do.Yes!!! , I will marry you. I will be by your side as you face all your challenges and achieve your dreams”.
He slips the ring into her finger and takes her into his arms. “You are so beautiful Ekanem” he says to her and kisses her gently on her cold lips.
To be continued