A/N: The chapter you've all been anticipating
The drive back home was a quiet one but not an uncomfortable silence rather the type of silence where you're engaged with a lot of things in your mind. The dinner at Noah's parent's home made me realize a whole bunch of things like how lucky I was to have Noah in my life, until today I'd never had people truly care for me even after knowing parts of my life that I'm not proud of. I also noticed how supportive Noah was being throughout the whole dinner even after the whole 'college dropout' bomb was dropped.
I stole a glance at Noah who had his eyes focused on the road ahead of him; sometimes I actually wonder what he saw in me that made him so interested in me. It's not like I wasn't attractive but I also wasn't the prettiest flower in the garden and Noah – well, he was very attractive. He was basically every Nigerian woman's dream and more – he's wealthy, tall, handsome, kind, caring, down to earth, generous, have I mentioned handsome. Oh okay I think I have.
"We are here" Noah announced
I look around and I noticed that we were in my compound. I must have been so deep in thoughts for me to not have realized when we entered my street talk less of my compound.
"Do you want to come in?" I asked
We both got down from the car and I handed him my apartment keys to go ahead while I go pick up Zozo from my neighbor's. I knocked heavily on the door in order for my neighbor to hear before waiting patiently. The door opened to reveal Mrs. Okachi, my neighbor who had been kind enough to help watch Zozo whenever I had to work. She was a full time house wife with two kids of her own who were both in boarding school so she basically had nothing doing after she was done with her wifely duties.
"Good evening, ma" I greeted her
"Good evening, my dear" she replied before turning her head back into the house. "Zozo, you're mummy is here"
"So how are things now?" She said returning her gaze to me.
"Fine ma, thank you"
"Ehen, I've been seeing one fine car always dropping you off at home. Who is that?" She inquired
This right here was one of the characteristics Mrs. Okachi possessed that I didn't quite like; she was very nosy and was always looking for what she could talk about. Anything you tell her be prepared to hear it from another person's mouth because she would spread your business like wild fire.
With a tightlipped smile, I replied. "He's a friend"
"Hmm, just a friend?" she said scouting for more information
"Yes, just a friend" I said firmly
Zozo ran out of the house and into my legs which I mentally thanked God for. I picked Zozo up, thanked Mrs. Okachi and hightailed out of there before she could ask any more questions.
I placed Zozo on the floor immediately I stepped into my apartment and she let out a loud squeal before running into Noah's arms.
Noah and Zozo were now very good friends and this was their signature greeting every time she saw him. Noah picked her and threw her up in the air making her scream loudly with her eyes wide open and then burst into a very loud laughter. Watching the both of them together always without fail made me smile and sometimes fall into laughter along with the two.
It took an hour for Zozo to run out of fuel and finally fall asleep after I had given her a bath for the night, I gently picked her up from Noah's arms like I did every other day and took her to our room so she could sleep comfortably.
When I returned to the living room, Noah was typing furiously on his phone so I walked over to the sofa opposite him and gently sat down.
"Today was quite an interesting one" Noah said and I nodded my head in agreement.
We fell back into silence and I contemplated whether or not to tell him more about me – No, I actually wanted to but I just didn't know how to start or bring it up. Tonight made me realize that Noah wasn't going anywhere irrespective of what I tell him and that I could trust him with information about my past.
"Noah, you know how I never want to talk about my past?" I finally spoke out.
"Yeah" he said as he dropped his phone on his lap giving me his full attention
"I think I'm ready to talk" I said
"Are you sure? I can always wait if you're not" he said truthfully. "I don't want you feeling pressured to say anything because of the whole dinner at my parent's house"
"I'm sure" I said with a firm nod.
"Wow, where to start... uhm, I was born to a very strict household, well my father was very strict and my mother just went along with whatever my father decided. My younger sister and I both attended boarding schools ... she should still be attending right now but that's not the point, whenever we came back for the holidays we were not allowed to leave the house unless it was absolutely necessary, we were to spend our time studying or doing something useful. We couldn't go visiting friends or attend birthday parties like the rest of my mates did because my father wouldn't allow us." I said, staring off into space.
"On my high school graduation day, he didn't even let me attend the dinner party that was organized by the school saying it was a waste of time. I felt suffocated in my own house; we couldn't freely express ourselves without getting a nasty remark from my father. When I had to retake my JAMB examinations because my score wasn't high enough, I thought I'd die staying one whole year at home with him constantly reminding me of the fact that my mates were in university and I wasn't ... which was why I was so happy when I got into University of Lagos the following year. I knew that I would finally be able to stay on my own and be free" I continued
"University was like heaven to me; it was a place where I could do whatever I wanted and act however I pleased without any parent figure telling me what to do. I went to parties with my friends, had sleepovers basically acted however I pleased and it felt so good because I had never experienced so much freedom in my life. I continued with my ways of freedom till my second year when I met Kunle, Zozo's father, he was every girl's dream guy; he was older, popular, funny, good looking and when he showed his interest in me, I was elated and high on the fact that he could actually be interested in someone like me. He had just graduated and was doing his NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) in a primary school not far from the University and so he would stop by to see me and some of his friends who were still in school." I said before taking a pause.
I looked at Noah and his eyes were focused on me as he listened intently, moving my gaze unto the floor, I continued. "Things were going fine between us for awhile until he started asking for sex and when I said I wanted to wait till marriage he agreed at first but still kept trying to change my mind telling me he would marry me and there was no need to wait .... I on the other hand didn't want him to break up with me because I was desperate for that attention that I was getting from him – maybe it was because of my daddy issues- I finally gave in. I felt bad at first because I really wanted to wait till marriage like it was commanded in the bible as a believer which I was and still am but I consoled myself with the fact that we would eventually get married so it didn't matter and so we continued to have sex. We were using protection in the beginning but then he started refusing to use anymore saying that he wanted to fully enjoy me... I was skeptical at first because I didn't want to get pregnant or catch any STI's but he convinced me he was clean and even got me on birth controls so I would feel better and me wanting to please him, I stupidly agreed and well ... that was how Zozo came to be "
My chest tightened and I took a deep breath before continuing "I was so scared when I found out about my pregnancy and I didn't know what to do, I knew my father would kill me if I told him about it. I even contemplated having an abortion but I couldn't go through with it because I knew I would be killing an innocent child even though it wasn't a child yet at that point and also because I had heard stories of girls not surviving the abortions or not being able to have kids later in life. I decided to tell him about the pregnancy and he started going on about how he wasn't ready to be a father and how I would be destroying his life if I decided to keep the baby... Like it wasn't my life that was going to be put on a hold, I felt so alone in that period of time because the one person who I thought loved me had just abandoned me"
I felt Noah wrap his arms around me making me realize that I was now in tears, I didn't even notice when he moved to where I was. I leaned into his embrace as he ran his hand across my arm in a comforting manner.
"I eventually had to tell my parents about my pregnancy because I was beginning to show a little and my father was furious. He basically threw me out of the house saying I wasn't going to rub the good name he had worked for in the mud and I should go and seek refuge with whoever got me pregnant. 'If you were bold enough to open your legs for a man and get yourself pregnant then you can survive on your own outside my house because no daughter of mine would have any child out of wedlock under my roof' those were his words to me as he flung my belongings outside the house. My mother tried pleading with him to allow me to stay but he wouldn't budge and my sister wasn't even around to plead on my behalf because she was away in boarding school" I had to pause for a while to calm myself down as the tears were just coming down like waterfalls.
"You don't have to go on, if it's much for you" Noah said with a tone of concern.
"No, it's fine" I assured him, before breathing deeply and then out. "So, uhm ... I went back to Kunle's place since I had nowhere else to go but he said I would inconvenience the rest of his roommates and I had to find somewhere else to stay. At that moment, I realized that he didn't truly love me and I had no one to turn to and I was alone in the world. Luckily a friend of mine offered to house me in her apartment till I was financially stable to stand on my own two feet and well, the rest is history... I guess"
My conscience plagued me to tell him the rest of the story that made me move all the way here from Lagos to Anambra but I wasn't ready to talk about that part so I just stopped there at least for now.
Noah hugged me closer to him. "I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that"
"It's fine .... It's not your fault." I said softly. "If anything ... everything that happened to me has made tougher and smarter"
We lapsed into a comfortable silence as Noah continued to stroke my arm in a comforting manner. I felt lighter after telling Noah about my past like I had just offloaded a huge weight from my shoulders and the fact that he was still here offering me support and not out the door after hearing my story strengthened my trust in him and made me realize I made a good choice in giving us a chance.
"So ... Kosi huh?" I said breaking the silence
He chuckled and his chest vibrated against my head. "It's a nickname. Short for Kosiso, my Igbo name"
I laughed heartily. "It feels weird calling you Kosiso, I'll stick with Noah"
"Stick with whatever you want" he said placing a kiss on my forehead.
We stayed in that position till I started to fall asleep then he rose to leave so I could lock up after him, we both had a busy day ahead of us.
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