“Hi Ekanem”, Philip says to her with a smile.
“You have not answered my question Philip”, she replies.
“Won’t you allow me come inside first before interrogating me” ,he says to her.
“Well you are not invited” she replies with a frown on her face.
As they argued, Chichi returns from the salon with her friend Chioma. They saw the surprise look when they see him at the front door.
Philip forcefully enters the house as Chichi and her friend go inside.
Philip sits on one of the sofas. He watches in silence as Richard washes his hands after eating his meal.
“Thanks for the delicious meal” Richard says to Ekanem.
“You are welcome dear”, she replies.
“Can I see you privately ?”Philip says to Ekanem with a straight face.
In order not to embarass him in front of her friends, she obliges him and takes him to her room to discuss.
“Ekanem so it is because of that guy in the parlour that you have been acting funny? “he says to Ekanem.
“If there is anyone who has issues, it’s you Philip. It is over between us.I am not kidding”, she replies.
“It’s not over until I say it is. Can’t you see that I love you deeply ” he says to her with a mischievous smile.
“You must really think I am desperate. I don’t need your kind of love. It’s too toxic”, she replies.
“Really! Okay let’s see how it goes”, he yells.
“I believe we are done talking, please see yourself out. Thank you! “,she replies .
Philip storms out of the room. He leaves the house without saying a word to anyone.
Ekanem goes to the living room and sits beside Richard.
” I hope you are okay?” Richard asks with a soft voice.
“It’s nothing. I will be fine”, she replies.
They all watch television for a while until Richard announces his intention to go home.
“I will see you off to your car” Ekanem says to him.
As they approach his car ,he takes hold of her hands and turns to face her.
“Eky !you know that you can talk to me about anything”,he says to her.
” I know Richie! and I am thankful that I have you as a friend”,she replies with a smile .
“What are you still doing with that guy? It breaks my heart when you complain about the way he treats you” ,he says to her with a soft voice while looking into her eyes.
“Don’t worry about me, it’s over between Philip and I “she replies .
He says goodnight to her after giving her a warm embrace.
Ekanem lies down on her bed after taking a bath.
She remembers the words of Richie to her that evening.
“I have never seen him act this emotional towards me” ,she says to herself. For some strange reason, her thoughts go to the coffee seller. She quickly redirects her thoughts back to reality and sleeps off.
The following week is as hectic as Ekanem anticipates. She looks foward to her annual leave which starts in a couple of weeks.
Chioma travels to Awka to visit her parents as well as prepare for her traditional engagement ceremony which is to take place that weekend.
Ekanem squeezes out time from her busy schedule to visit her favourite café. She requests for a cup of café latte with two chocolate chip cookies.
Ekanem takes her seat. She observes that Toks is not available but she is happy to see Peter who serves her the coffee.
She takes her time to drink it ,not just because it tastes so nice but because she hopes that delaying her exit from the shop would make her bump into Toks.
After having her snacks, she picks her personal belongings and goes home.She is glad to be alone at home .Chichi hadn’t returned from work. She relaxes on the sofa and puts on her favourite show.
After about 5 minutes, She begins to wonder in her heart why Toks didn’t show up at work.
“I hope he is well? ” she says to herself.
“Maybe I should check on him, after all he helped me in the past”, she rationalises.
After battling with her will for some minutes, She eventually gives in.
Ekanem dials his number and just as it begins to ring ,she quickly cuts the line.
“What am I doing? “She says to herself.
In less than a minute, her phone starts to ring.
She picks it hurriedly and says” hello Toks “.
“Hi Ekanem !.How are you doing?” ,he replies.
” I am fine,I was at your shop today “, she says to him.
“Oh ! Really. I wish I were there to see you. Who attended to you?, he asks with a soft voice .
“Peter attended to me,thanks”she replies.
There was silence for about 15 seconds.
“I will be back tomorrow”, he says to her.
“Okay , see you later”, she replies .
Ekanem keeps her phone on the sofa and goes into her room to freshen up.
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A week after Chioma’s engagement ceremony ,she returns to Lagos to prepare for her trip back to Newyork.
Chioma visits Chichi and Ekanem at their apartment.
“Babe congrats oh!.You are almost married. I hope everything went well?” , Chichi says to Chioma.
“Yes dear, thank you” ,Chioma replies .
“Have you guys fixed a date for the wedding? ” , Ekanem asks with a smile .
“No definite date yet but we are looking at 6 months from now”,Chioma replies.
“That’s cool, Gives you and hubby to be enough time to plan”, Ekanem replies.
“Speaking of weddings, Eky I need you to accompany me to an event” Chioma says to Ekanem with a mischievous smile.
“Why are you inviting only me “,Ekanem replies.
“Babe relax! .There’s this really cool guy I want you to meet “she says to Ekanem
“Chioma thanks but I don’t want another Philip situation,you can take Chichi along with you”, Ekanem replies.
“Chichi has a guy already”, Chioma replies .
“Hmmmm but she isn’t married yet “, Ekanem replies with a mischievous smile.
They all laugh and Chichi replies “Don’t worry very soon , you will get a wedding invite”.
The ladies chat for a while and Ekanem retires to her room. She goes through her phone and sees a missed call from Richard . She calls him back and they talk for long time before calling it a night.
Ekanem is glad when she finally starts her annual leave. She goes to the spa that beautiful Monday morning .She took advantage of the beauty treatments services which were offered as well as the professional body massage.
“This is just what I need .Something relaxing to make me forget all my worries” she says to herself .
She decides to go to one of her favourite places in Lagos .Ryan’s coffee shop would be the icing on the cake , she says to herself as she drives .
Ekanem arrives at the coffee shop and goes right in to locate her favourite seat .
She gets a call from her dad and while she is talking to him, she looks around the shop to see if she would see her regular coffee makers.
As she looks towards the counter, she sees Toks as he comes out from one of the back doors. He sees her and smiles. Ekanem smiles back as she continues talking to her dad.
Toks continues to sustain the eye contact between him and Ekanem as he stands at the work area.
After some minutes, a waiter brings a bowl of roast chicken salad to her table with a note. She takes the note from the waiter and quickly ends her call.
The reads the note; “Don’t say no a second time.It’s on the house”.
She looks up to see Toks staring at her from a distance. She smiles in a shy manner and perforates the cling film covering the salad.
She pours the salad dressing on it after uncovering the bowl. Ekanem takes a bite of the chicken with some vegetables dipped in the dressing.
“Hmmmm, this salad is hitting a spot in my brain”, she says to herself.
She wishes in her heart that she was eating the salad at home so that she could do justice to it.
As she takes the last serving,Toks walks up to her.
“I hope you liked it”, he says to her.
“Like is an understatement, I loved it”, she replies with a smile .
“I am glad “he says to her .
As he walks back to the counter to work on other client’s orders,Ekanem gets a call from Richard.
“Hi Eky! How are you enjoying your leave? ” , he says to her.
“I am chilling at Ryan’s coffee shop at the moment” ,she replies.
“ Okay! I am coming over” he says to her and ends the call before she is able to reply.
Richard arrives not long after. He places an order before sitting down so as not to waste Ekanem’s time.
He sits opposite Ekanem and they both discuss work and other non specific topics.
When Richard’s order is ready, Toks decides to serve him.He carries his cup of cocoa drink and club sandwiches on a tray and walks towards the table pointed at by the waiter.
As he approaches the table, he sees Ekanem engrossed in a conversation with Richard.
To be continued