Ekanem and Richard discuss other topics for a while before leaving the restaurant.
Ekanem is pleased that there isn’t any awkwardness between them.
He eventually drops her off at her house. Ekanem relaxes in her room watching a nollywood movie until Chichi returns from work.
“You are welcome dear”, Ekanem says to her.
“Babe , how are you doing? , did you step out of this house today? ” ,she says .
I had lunch with Richie today. The seafood Okro soup was superb! ,she replied excitedly.
Chichi’s countenance fell momentarily.
“That’s nice!.Hmm! are you guys now an item ? The frequency of your hangouts nowadays is kind of on the upward trend”, she says with a straight face.
“You know Richie is my bestie! , nothing serious. Atleast for now anyway”, she replies Chichi with a mischievous smile.
“Okay, if you say so. Let me go and freshen up dear “, Chichi says to Ekanem.
Ekanem wonders in her heart why Chichi acts up any time she talks about Richie but pushes the thoughts away.
The hours pass by so fast. Ekanem finishes her house chores and prepares a delicious pot of Chicken stew.
About an hour to the time Toks is to pick Ekanem up from her house, she freshens up , puts on a pair of dark blue fitted jeans and a fuchsia coloured fitted long sleeved tshirt .
She also packs her hair, applies some make up and puts on a nice pair of navy blue wedge shoes.
At exactly 5 minutes to 6pm, her door bell rings. Ekanem opens the door and sees Toks standing before her.
They smile at each other and he says “you look so beautiful “.
“Thanks. Your not looking bad either”, Ekanem says.
Ekanem knew that her reply didn’t do justice to what her eyes were seeing.
He leads her to a black car with a driver seated in front.
“I hope you don’t mind the fact that we are going to be using the cab I ordered online. I hate driving the official car when there’s a lot of traffic on the road”,he says to her .
” I don’t mind at all after all you are not expected to use an official car for private business except of course your boss doesn’t bother you with the usage of the car” Ekanem replies.
Toks opens the door of the car for her to enter. They both sat down at the passenger’s seat behind and the driver begins to drive to the cinema.
Ekanem likes the choice of music made by the driver and nods her head in a subtle manner.
“Do you also enjoy soft rock music ?” , he asks with a smile.
” I do enjoy it but I also love country music. My friends think it’s weird”,she replies.
“Who cares what they think “he replies and they both laugh.
The mood becomes lighter as they discuss about music and movies.
They finally arrive at their destination .Ekanem and Toks got into the cinema room after Toks buys their tickets plus some refreshments.
The movie turns out to be better than expected. They both laugh so hard that their ribs nearly crack all through the movie.
Toks orders another cab when they leave the cinema which arrives shortly afterwards.
“Do you mind if we make a quick stop at the café”, he says to her.
“That’s okay”, Ekanem replies.
The ride back home is very quiet. Ekanem unconsciously leans on his shoulders.
Just as she attempts moving from that position, she feels his left cold hand on her right hand.
Ekanem smiles to herself and steals a quick glance at him. It’s basically a very quiet ride to the café.
When they get to the shop, he leads her through a black door close to the counter into a room.
She sees two round coffee tables in front of an S shaped bugundy coloured sofa by the corner of the room. There were two sets of well crafted chairs and tablessings. The room is indeed exquisitely furnished with beautiful flowers and African art pieces.
“This place is beautiful “Ekanem says as she admires the decor.
“It’s the VIP section for celebrities and dignitaries who do not wish to eat in public “he replies with a smile.
They sit on the sofa and Ekanem says to him.
” I have never seen the owner of this café before. It would be nice to see the person who puts a smile on thousands of Nigerians”, Ekanem says.
“He is a very busy man but I am positive that you will see him one of these days “, he replies.
“Let me get something warm for you to snack on” he says to her and excuses himself.
After some minutes, he returns with a tray containing a glass of cinnamon flavoured almond milk and two chocolate croissants.
“Toks,you won’t succeed in making me fat “, she says as he offers her the snacks.
“You always look great dear. I doubt if a couple of croissants would make a difference”, he replies.
They discuss for a while till Toks says”I need to go and drop you off at your house, it’s getting late ” .
He drives her home in the official car and opens the door for her when they arrive at her house.
He walks her to the door.” I had a great time”,Ekanem says to him with a smile.
“Same here. Can we do this again ? “he says to her while looking into her eyes.
“Sure, you are actually fun to be with”she says in a playful manner.
“You too” he replies and they say goodbye to each other.
She enters her house and sleeps almost immediately after taking a hot shower.
As she slips under her soft quilt, she gets a text alert on her phone from Toks ; “what are you doing? ” ,he asks.
“About to close these tired eyes”, she replies .
” I am glad we were able to hang out today “he says to her.
“I had fun .Where are you?” , she asks .
“Still at work. I wish you were still here with me “, he replies.
“So that you continue staring at me right? ” ,She says to him.
“Good night gorgeous” he replies .
Ekanem smiles as she drops her phone on the side table beside her bed.
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For the next two months , Toks and Ekanem communicated so frequently that he was the first voice she heard in the morning and at night.
It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon, A few weeks to Christmas. Chichi and Ekanem have just enjoyed their lunch and are trying to set up their Christmas decorations /tree when Ekanem’s phone rings.
When she sees that the call is from Toks, she smiles like a love struck teenager and answers her call in her room.
After 30 minutes, Ekanem returns to the living room where Chichi is .
“So because of Richie,you left me all alone to set up this big Christmas tree? “She says with a frown on her face.
“Sorry dear! It wasn’t even Richie.Forgive me anyway “, she replies.
“Hmmm, who is this person that is trying to come between you and Richie. I hope you know that Richie loves you? ,Chichi says to Ekanem.
“How do you know that Richie loves me?”Ekanem replies.
“Well, the way he acts around you makes it so obvious. Please answer my question? “, Chichi asks with curiosity in her eyes.
“He’s just a friend. His name is Tochukwu, Toks for short”, she replies .
“Hmmm, is it by any chance that dispatch rider that dropped you off a while ago? “Chichi asks with a straight face.
“What if it’s the same guy ? ” ,She replies.
“How can you throw away Richie who is practically your closest friend over some coffee seller. Is it because he is handsome?” Chichi says to her .
“Babe relax !you are taking this too far”Ekanem replies with a smile.
“Richie and I are still very close. Toks is equally my friend, more like a hang out buddy, there’s nothing official going on between us.Atleast for now because he hasn’t asked me out yet”, she says to Chichi.
“Ekanem so you want to tell me that if he proposes to you ,you would actually consider it “she replies with sarcasm.
“Who knows! “Ekanem replies with a smile .
“Philip must have been so horrible for you to consider someone who can’t even pay your bills. Did this Toks guy even smell the four walls of a university?” , Chichi asks with a warm voice.
Chichi please mind your business, what kind of interrogation is this? Ekanem replies angrily.
“You know that you are like a sister to me. I want a man that would be compatible with you.Look at the Richard you are throwing away. Every normal woman’s dream guy!”Chichi replies.
Ekanem leaves the living room area and goes to her bedroom. After about an hour, she gets a call from Chioma.
“Hi Chioma. How are you doing? ” ,she says excitedly.
” I am fine dear. What’s this I am hearing about you dating an okada rider,she replies Ekanem .
“Who told you that big lie “.This Chichi is so annoying”, she says to her.
“Anyway it’s your life Ekanem. As long as you are happy.Please I need you to go and pick up your bridesmaid’s clothes from the person hubby sent from Newyork. The person is going to be available on Wednesday but Chichi would be travelling to Abuja that same day,Chioma says to Ekanem
“Okay dear, I am always available to assist with the wedding “Ekanem replies.
They discuss about other wedding plans and end the conversation.