A/N: Double updates, my lovelies
"Thank you" I said as I took the keys from the attendant.
"Do you even know how to drive this thing?" Ijeoma asked gesturing at the speedboat in front of us.
"Of course" I assured her with a smile.
She looked skeptically from speedboat to me and then back to the boat; it was like with every passing minute she became more reluctant.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and we were at the beach, just the two of us. We were surrounded by people who were either sprawled out on towels under the sun or riding horses with the assistance of the horse boys. There were some people huddled under secluded, thatch-roofed spots which they likely had rented and some couples were holding hands, positioned at the shore in order for the water to lightly touch their feet.
There were a few people who actually dared to swim in the ocean; I use 'dare' because here in Nigeria, people don't swim in the oceans because of the fear of being taken too deep into the ocean and not being able to make it back to the shore. There were stories of people going into the ocean and not being able to come back, then later turn up washed ashore, bloated from the amount of water that they must have consumed as they drowned. Some even talk about the existence of 'mammy water' which is what we call mermaids and how they draw people who venture too deep into the water and eat them up.
I gently climbed into the white fiberglass speedboat with an outboard engine before giving Ijeoma a hand in getting into the boat. I started the engine and drove away from the shore and deeper into the ocean.
"Relax" I said when I noticed Ijeoma's rigid posture.
"Easy for you to say" she said with her eyes closed.
I laughed. "This is supposed to be a fun date, at least open your eyes"
"Can you cut me some slack? I've never been on a speedboat before" she said with her eyes still closed.
"Just relax. Nothing is going to happen, you're safe. Trust me" I assured her.
She took in a deep breath before prying her eyes open. It took her a few more minutes before she began to relax and unstiffen her muscles.
"See, that wasn't so bad" I said with a smile. "And if at all, anything happens, we have life jackets on" I said pointing to the orange life jackets.
She immediately sent a glare my way.
"But nothing would happen" I quickly added with a cheeky smile.
I drove the speedboat further into the ocean but we could still see the beach from where were. Ijeoma, finally completely relaxed and even asked to drive the boat. I got behind her as I directed her on what to do.
She let out a whooping scream as she got a hang of driving it, she looked so carefree with the wind in her hair and her white transparent beach cover-up, flying in the air behind her. I loved how happier she was, the smile that was plastered on her face, the twinkling in her eyes as she laughed. I never thought I would ever be this content in another person's happiness.
She relinquished the wheel to me before taking out her phone to take pictures. We took a couple of videos and pictures making different faces ranging from serious to cute and then goofy.
We were very far away from the beach when all of a sudden, the boat stopped.
"What? What happened?" Ijeoma asked, the pitch in her voice slowly rising.
"I don't know" I said as I tried restarting the boat.
The boat refused to start after so many attempts to get it to work. I turned to Ijeoma who was watching me intently.
"I think it's the engine" I suggested.
"You think?" she said with her eyes bulged out.
"Maybe" I said "I know that it's not fuel because the tank was full when we left the shore"
"Oh my God" she said placing her hand on her forehead. "How are we going to get back?"
"I dunno. We could swim back" I said playfully.
She shot me a glare. "You and who?"
"This is not the time for jokes, Noah" she said. "We're literally in the middle of the ocean"
"I'm sorry" I raised my hands in surrender.
"Oh my God" she muttered under her breath as she paced around in a spot. "What are we going to do now cause I'm sure as hell not swimming in this water"
"Hold on, Let me think" I sat down on the driver seat before running my hands over my face to collect my thoughts while Ijeoma continued to wear a hole into the floor of the speedboat.
"You know, pacing like that isn't helping"
"I'm sorry. I can't help it" Ijeoma said before sitting down beside me.
"Uhm... there should be a book or something with numbers that we could call so someone can come to get us" I said. "Check over there and I'll check here" I pointed to the back of the boat.
"Careful" I said as she almost fell over due to the waves that hit the boat.
"There's no book here, just this paper" she said holding up a neatly folded piece of paper.
She carefully unfolded the paper and then began to read the contents aloud. "Will you put this hopeless romantic out of his misery and—"
She stopped and looked at me with her mouth hung open. "You have got to be kidding me"
"Go on. Keep reading me"
"— and officially become his girlfriend" she concluded with a smile. "Oh my God" she hid her face in her palms.
"So will you?" I said suggestively as I moved closer to her.
"I mean we already tell people that I'm your girlfriend, so yeah" she said looking up at me.
I went in for a short, intimate kiss to consummate the moment.
"Does this mean that the boat is completely fine?" she asked
"Oh my God" she lightly hit my chest. "I was so scared"
"I know" I said smugly.
"Can we please go back? The water is beginning to make me feel woozy" she announced
"This is nice" Ijeoma said, picking another sliver of the Suya meat from the newspaper and polythene bag it was wrapped in with her toothpick.
"Yeah" I nodded in agreement.
The sun was gradually setting, giving the sky a beautiful orange-pinkish hue. There were still a few people scattered around the beach, Children running after each other, large speakers were blasting with music, some people dancing to the music and a few others gathered around the Suya-man waiting for their order to be ready.
We were currently sitting under one of the thatch-roofed spots, eating Suya meat and two bottles of soda; I was having a bottle of Coke while Ijeoma was having Fanta.
"It's nice to finally eat out in a place that's not the hospital" I said
"Yeah, without the smell of antiseptic and all those patients around us" she replied taking a sip out of her Fanta orange drink. "The beach is actually not bad for a first date"
"Yeah, I know. I didn't want to do the conventional 'first date in a restaurant' type of thing. I wanted it to be different" I said.
She hummed in the response.
A boy who looked a year or two older than Zozo raced past our spot and tripped on air, falling to the ground. He slowly raised his head and looked in our direction before bursting out crying. A lady who I assumed was his mother rushed towards him and picked him up, cradling him to her before walking away.
"You know he started crying because you were looking at him" Ijeoma said
"When a child has a little fall when playing, you don't look them in the eye unless you want them to cry" she explained.
"What?" I said astounded. "That doesn't even make sense"
"But it's true, I learned that with Zozo. If she falls down when playing, the first thing she does is look at me and when I act like I didn't see her fall, she gets back up and resumes her playing" she narrated. "Now if she catches me watching her, she'll start crying just so I can baby her"
"Bear in mind, it only works when it's a little fall. Otherwise, they'll cry regardless of whether you look or not" she added.
"Well, that's new"
She just shrugged and continued to sip her Fanta.
After we finished the Suya and our drinks, we decided to take a walk along the beach as the sunset before finally going home. The whole beach was cool from the breeze that came from the sea, the smell of aromatic sea air filled our nostrils. We walked barefooted on the sand along the beach shore letting the water run over our feet, our hands entwined with our footwear in the other, not saying a single word, just enjoying the scenery before us and being in each other's company.
"You know, that was the most creative way, I've ever been asked out" Ijeoma spoke out, watching the waves build and fall in the ocean. "You're making it really hard for other guys to compete, that's if we don't work out"
"First of all, I'm never letting you go, so there is no competition" I said, laying emphasis on the 'no'. "Two, why are you even thinking of us not working out?"
"I don't know... all of this feels too good to be true" she shrugged her shoulders, looking straight ahead and avoiding my gaze. "And as much as I don't want to feel like this, I sometimes feel like one day you're going to realize that you can do so much better than me"
I didn't realize she felt this way, that she was this insecure, the fact she didn't realize how beautiful and charismatic she was. I basically have to ward off guys with my eyes when we walk into a place, I know how many guys who stopped to watch her just in this beach alone not to talk of the other places we go to.
I halted and turned to face her. "Look at me"
She turned to face me and slowly brought her eyes to meet mine.
"I'm not going anywhere, ever... and if anyone could do better, then it's you. You're so beautiful, smart, and attractively honest and the fact that you don't even realize that makes you even more attractive. You know how to hold an intelligible conversation and you're humorous at the same time. When you smile the entire room lights up and your laughter is contagious because it just invokes mine. You're like a fluorescent bulb and like a moth, you draw me in... and whenever I feel like I know everything about you, you surprise me with another impressive quality" I said truthfully. "So believe me when I say, if anyone could do better, it's you"
"You're going to make me cry" she chuckled, trying to downplay how emotional she was getting but her glossy tear-filled eyes said otherwise.
"I love you" I whispered, pulling her into a hug.
She wrapped her arms tightly around me like if she let me go I would disappear. "I love you too... so much"
The moment was disrupted by the shrill sound of my phone ringing in the back pocket of my white board shorts. I knew who was calling immediately from the ringtone; it was Dr. Nosa, one of my superiors.
"Sorry... hang on" we pulled apart and I pulled out my phone.
"There was an accident, we need you back at the hospital" His tired voice came through the phone.
I inwardly groaned. "Sure. I'll be right there"
He hung up the phone and I turned to face Ijeoma.
"You've got to go" she said knowingly
"Yeah, I'm sorry"
"It's okay. We were about to leave anyway" she assured me.
I sighed deeply before taking her hand and walking back to where the car was parked.
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