Ekanem smiles in a shy manner when he releases her from his grip .
They spend only a few more minutes in the garden because outside is too chilly for Ekanem.
As they walk back to the house, Toks says “I hope you like our house, are there any changes you would like ?.I want you to be comfortable whenever you are in Lagos ” .
“It’s a beautiful house. I doubt if I want to make any changes but you could take me on a brief tour of the house” ,Ekanem replies.
Toks takes her into all the rooms on the ground floor. She admires the interior decor .The neatness of the house makes her impressed as well.
Just as they are about to climb the stairs to see the rooms especially the master bedroom and the study Toks spoke to her about, he takes her into his arms again and says ” I pray that someday , God willing ,this house will have kids playing everywhere .After a year of marriage though because I want you all to myself ” ,he says to her with a smile.
Ekanem laughs and says “1 year indeed when you want me all to yourself. Let’s see how it goes darling “.
Toks shows her the other rooms upstairs first before taking her to the study.
Ekanem’s jaw drops when they get to the study.” Wow! this looks like a modern study from a catalogue”, Ekanem says in excitement.
” I know how much you love to read .I got an expert in interior designing to create a a place where you would write your research papers,study and prepare your lecture notes without interruption.I wanted to show you before taking you to meet my parents earlier on” he replies .
“This is too much Toks! . I love it ! “,Ekanem says as she walks across the room.
Toks walks up to where she is and takes her into his arms.
” I am glad that you love it” he says as he looks into her eyes .
” I love you so much Tochukwu. Thank you for believing in me “, she replies with a soft voice.
“I love you more darling. I have not been able to get you out of my mind since the first day I met you at the café” , he says to her as he strokes her hair.
They both go to the master bedroom and like the rest of the house, Ekanem is thrilled by the superb decor and space .
They discuss briefly in the house and Toks takes Ekanem to her house.
There’s no sign of Chichi in the living room when they return. Ekanem goes to Chichi’s bedroom to share the good news with her but she finds her sleeping soundly on her bed.
Ekanem makes a cup of tea for Toks and herself .They sit beside each other on the sofa watching an old movie.
Ekanem rests her head on his right shoulder. They must have dozed off for a while because they are unaware of Chichi’s presence in the living room.
Chichi taps Ekanem gently on her shoulder. Ekanem smiles when she sees the mischievous smile on Chichi’s face.
Ekanem excitedly flashes her engagement ring at Chichi. Toks wakes up coincidentally and sees Chichi smiling like a Cheshire cat.
“Hi “he says to Chichi as he gets up.
“Hi prince charming ! , I hope you are not leaving on my account?”Chichi replies .
“No! I have a meeting by 7 am and it’s already 2 am”,Toks replies with a smile.
He gives Ekanem a hug and says” I will call you later okay, try and have some rest “.
“Okay dear” , she replies .
Toks leaves the house hurriedly and drives off in his car.
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When Toks leaves the house, Chichi excitedly sits beside her flat mate and says” tell me everything ! . How did he propose to you? “.
Ekanem narrates everything that happened that evening /night to her friend .
“How do you feel?.How are you going to handle work? , she asks Ekanem.
” I am truly happy. I haven’t been this happy in a long while. As for the job issue, it shouldn’t be so difficult getting a university in Tok’s state to lecture in if we have to relocate eventually. I guess we shall cross the bridge when we get there ” ,she replies Chichi.
“That’s the spirit my dear. I am so excited and happy for you”, Chichi says to her .
The holidays ended on a good note. Toks takes Ekanem to meet his parents briefly before going to Abuja to declare his marriage intention to Ekanem’s family. Both sides of the family are happy about the engagement.
They both decided that August would be a perfect time for the wedding in order to allow the two families prepare sufficiently for it.
Ekanem goes to work when school starts. She finishes early and decides to spend some time with Toks in his restaurant before going home .
As she starts the ignition, she hears a knock on her car window. She turns to her left side to see Richard trying to get her attention. Ekanem winds down the window and smiles.
“Happy new year Eky! “He says to her with a smile.
“Hi Richie! Happy new year. Sorry for not calling you back. It was a very hectic holiday “, she replies.
“You look great as usual “he says to her. As he looks at her with admiration ,he sees the engagement on her finger.
“That’s a beautiful ring you are wearing” ,he says with a straight face.
“Thank you. We need to talk Richie.Please come inside the car” ,she replies .
“Talk about what ?” ,he asks .
” I am getting married soon. I wanted to inform you in person that’s why I didn’t tell you earlier over the phone ” ,she says to him.
“Hmm! ” he says to her with sadness in his eyes.
“Yeah”, she replies .
“Congrats, I am sure that you told me because I saw your ring” ,he says to her.
“Don’t say that Richie! .You are my friend” , she replies.
” A friend that you refused to date. It’s okay anyway . I am happy for you”,he says to her.
“Thank you”, she replies.
“He is one lucky guy. I must confess that it’s a heavy blow .Letting go of you will probably be one of the most difficult things for me to do. Watching my best friend get married to another man is definitely heart breaking, Nevertheless, I want you to be happy. Congratulations Eky! ,he says to her.
” I know that someday, you will meet that special lady that will make you forget me completely. Don’t be a stranger Richie”, she replies.
Ekanem and Richard discuss briefly before saying goodbye to each other.
It’s a few days to Ekanem’s church wedding ceremony .The excitement in the air is almost palpable.The traditional wedding which took place at her father’s house a month earlier was very successful.
Both families hope that the white wedding ceremony which is to take place in the King’s palace would be equally grand despite the recent deterioration of Tochukwu’s father’s health.