It was a bright and sunny saturday afternoon. Things at the hospital had calmed down a little bit, although there were still patients coming in and out of the hospital. These past few weeks have been really busy and stressful, I couldn't even remember having time for myself.
I was putting in all of time, energy and focus into getting this promotion as much as every doctor on the race was. I realized that it had put a huge strain on my relationship with Ijeoma, more than I had expected. We knew that this was going to happen especially with her new job separating us but I don't think we anticipated it being this way.
I was currently on my way to Ijeoma's apartment to surprise her for the second time. Unlike, last time I knew that she was going to be home, being that it was a Saturday and she didn't have work. I took a day off from work saying that I had some family emergency I needed to attend to, if a little time off would affect my chances of getting the promotion then I was never meant to get it.
A large tube of ice cream and two family size buckets of chicken from KFC were sitting on the passenger side of my car. I also had freshly cut daffodils as well, as a romantic gesture. I know she didn't really care for the flowers but since yellow was her favorite color, I decided to get them.
I parked my car outside her house, by the roadside so that she doesn't see the car come into the premises. Once I made sure that my car was properly packed and that I wasn't going to come back to meet scratches on it, I got down from the car with the bags and the flower in hand.
There were some men sitted on a bench under a big mango tree, a few metres away from Ijeoma's place. They were all looking in my direction and whispering amongst themselves. I raised a hand in the air as a sign of greeting and they responded with a wave and a 'welcome o'.
Once inside her compound, I placed two loud knocks on her front door in order for her to hear irrespective of where she was in the apartment. As I waited for her to answer the door, I looked around the compound. The sun was scorching hot, the type that made you dehydrated from just spendine a couple minutes in it and so everyone was inside their respective houses.
The front door flew open and an ear piercing scream followed not long after. One minute, she was standing before me and the next she was literally on top of me, hugging the life out of me. If I didn't have a steady stability, we would have both landed on the ground with the force at which she flung herself at me.
I chuckled, wrapping my free hand around her frame. "Hey babe"
"Oh my God. I didn't even know you were coming over" her face was tucked in the crook of my neck.
"Surprise!" I said amidst chuckles.
"I'm surprised, indeed" she pulled away from my neck to get a good look at me.
"Are you going to get down now?" I said when I saw that she made no effort to come down from my body.
She shook her head and crossed her legs behind me. "No"
I chuckled and hoisted her up in order for me to walk into the apartment. She eventually got down but she didn't release her hold on me. She was wearing a black hoodie and leggings, her hair was packed with a rubber band behind her.
"I've missed you" she said lifting her head from my chest and looking up at me.
"That makes the two of us" I said dropping my head down and placing a kiss on her lips.
"I've missed this" I whispered against her lips.
"Really?" She said playfully.
"Yeah" I placed another swift kiss on her lips
I looked around the house and it was awfully quiet. "Where's Zozo?"
"Oh. She's at a classmate's birthday party. Her friend's mom would dropping her off when the party is over" she said. "What's that?" She gestured to my occupied hands.
"Ohh. These are for you" I handed over the bags and flowers.
"Wow. Thank you" A bright smile that reached her eyes appeared on her face.
She took a sniff of the flowers. "This smells really good. Such a pity that it wouldn't last a week with me"
I laughed. "It doesn't matter"
"Thank you again"
She headed into the kitchen with the bags but not before dropping the flowers in her room.
Fifteen minutes later
We were sitting on her sofa with half full cups of ice cream in our hands and a plate of half eaten chicken pieces on the stool in front of us.
"We really need to get you a TV" I stated.
We were literally staring into space as we ate our chicken and ice cream. The house was so quiet.
"Yeah. In due time" she replied.
I turned to her. "You know I can always get one for you. Just say the word and I won't hesitate"
"I know. I just want to be able to get it myself" she took another spoon of ice cream.
"But you don't have to" I stated gently yet firmly. " I'm here for you, you know that right?"
"I do but I want to be able to say that I was able to do this and that by myself without anyone's help. No matter how little it is" she replied
I understood where she was coming from. The feeling on wanting to be independent and to stand without leaning on anyone for help was something I think she learnt along the way, especially after what she went through. With time, I knew that she would gradually relinquish her hold on things and let me help out.
"Fine... But the minute you want me to step in, don't hesitate to tell me" I said firmly.
"I will" she assured me
Her phone on the stool vibrated before her ringtone began playing. The name 'Mr. Kachi' appeared on the screen. She picked up the phone and answered.
"Hello, sir... Fine, thank you" she said into the phone.
I heard a muffled voice from the other end of the phone. I couldn't really hear what was being said because the voice wasn't clear.
"Yes... Okay... Hold on, let me check" she stood up from the sofa and walked into her room.
The conversation carried on for ten minutes and I would occasionally hear her laugh on the phone. I couldn't help but feel some certain way towards that 'Mr. Kachi' of a man. He just rubbed me the wrong way and I hadn't even met him.
"Okay, no problem... Bye" she walked back into the living room.
"Your boss?" I asked when she hung up the phone
I nodded and picked up my phone that was beside me on the sofa. I mindlessly scrolled through the phone to avoid saying anything.
I looked up at her. "Huh?"
"Why did you ask if it was my boss and then nod like that" she said
"Nothing" I shook my head as if I didn't know what she was talking about.
"Are you sure?" She asked
"Mm hmm" I returned my gaze to my phone.
She moved to pick up the empty cups that we used to take ice cream.
Who am I kidding? I couldn't hold it in, I had to voice out my worries.
"Don't you think it's weird?" I stated
She halted and then straightened up. "What?"
"The fact that your boss is this chummy with you?" I said.
"What do you mean?"
"You were basically laughing on the phone like friends... And not boss and employee" I explained
"He said something funny and I laughed. What's the big deal?" she said
"So, he just called to crack jokes?"
"No. He called to ask for some information on a file that I had" she explained
"Okay. What about the fact that he drops you home after work, everyday? What type of boss does that?" I said.
"He doesn't drop me off everyday and he's just being a nice person" she said defensively.
"Nice person, my foot" I spat.
I don't know why I sounded this way but the fact she couldn't see what I was seeing just put me off.
"Why did you say that?"
"I think he likes you and that's why he's trying to be 'friendly' with you. Any body can see that" I stated
"You've not even met him before" she said
"I don't need to meet him to know that he's after you... Remember that, there was once a time I used to drop you off at home everyday and look at us now" I replied
She laughed out loud. "So, what are you trying to say? That guys just need to drop me home frequently for me to go out with them"
"That's not what I meant" I countered.
"Then what do you mean, Noah" she said frustratedly. " Okay, let's imagine that what you're saying is true and that my boss likes me, which he doesn't. Can't you trust that I would never let anything happen between us"
"I do but I don't trust that boss of yours"
"You don't need to. I'm the one in a relationship with you" she said. "Let's just drop this whole thing, okay. This is the first time we've seen each other in weeks and I don't want to use this time to argue with you"
"I really want to drop this but I just can't understand how you don't see that your boss likes you" I said
"Oh my God" she grabbed the cups and walked into the kitchen.
She walked back out. "Maybe I can't see it because there's nothing to see and you're just jealous that some other guy, who is not you is friends with me"
"Your being ridiculous" I said in annoyance
"I'm being ridiculous? Are you kidding me right now?" She retorted in anger
The air felt heated from our arguments. I shouldn't have called her ridiculous. It just came out and I was just so annoyed at how oblivious she was to what was right in front of her.
"Noah... Before I met you, I was in a really dark place. I was lost and unhappy and I basically had no one. And then I met you and you brought light into both mine and my daughter's life. You brought my family back into my life, whether you like to accept it or not." Her voice broke and tears welled up in her eyes. "I'm in a really good place and I have never been this happy and content with anyone like I am with you. Do you really think that I would want to throw all that away?"
My heart literally broke as she spoke. I stood up and engulfed her in a hug.
"I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have dumped my insecurities on you like that or called you 'ridiculous'" I said
"I just need you to trust me" she cried against my chest.
"I do, I do. Babe, I'm sorry" I rubbed her back to calm her down.
She wiped her eyes and pulled away but I pulled her back to me.
"I'm so sorry that I hurt your feelings, I didn't mean for that to happen." I told her.
She nodded. "I know, it's okay"
"I'm sorry" I placed a kiss on her forehead.
"It's okay" she looked up at me. "I love you so much and I don't think anything could change that"
"I love you too, more than you know"
She chuckled. "That's not possible"
"Oh, it is"
She was about to speak up when Zozo's scream pierced through the air.
"No-no!!" I heard the light sound of her feet running outside the door.
"How does she know I'm here?" I stated
"I think she saw your car outside" Ijeoma replied
Ijeoma went to open the front door and Zozo ran past her and headed straight for me.
"Hi, angel" I lifted her off the ground and placed a kiss on her cheeks.
She giggled with excitement as she wrapped her little arms around my neck.
"Thank you so much for bringing her back" Ijeoma said to a lady who was holding Zozo's backpack at the door.
"No problem" the woman said
I walked up to the door with Zozo in my arms.
The lady was light skinned and stood a few inches taller than Ijeoma. She was dressed in a purple and green tie-dye gown and similar scarf wrapped around her head.
"Hello, I'm Noah" I said
"Mrs. Amadi. Zozo and my daughter are friends" she introduced herself.
Ijeoma collected Zozo's bag from her. "Thank you again"
"No problem. I'll be on way now" Mrs. Amanda said before walking away.
She walked up to a black car was packed in the driveway. I could see another little girl at the back of the car. The little girl waved at our direction and Zozo waved back before the car drove away.
We headed back into the house and Ijeoma closed the door after us.
"Zozo, you didn't even hug me" Ijeoma said to Zozo who was leaning her head on my shoulder.
She moved to hug her mother and returned back to me.
"I think she loves you more than me" Ijeoma said.
I laughed. "I don't think so. She just hasn't seen me in a long time"
Ijeoma shook her head. "I stand by what I said"
I walked over to the sofa and sat down, placing Zozo on my lap. Ijeoma headed into the kitchen.and returned with a plastic cup of ice cream for Zozo.
"How was the birthday party?" I asked her.
"Fine" she replied
"Did you enjoy yourself?" I asked and she nodded.
"Do you want a party for your own birthday?" I asked
She nodded excitedly. "Yes"
Ijeoma handed the cup of ice cream to Zozo and sat beside me. "Tell us about the party"
"Thank you" Zozo said as collected the cup. "There was bouncing casul and snacks"
"Wow. A bouncing castle and snacks" Ijeoma echoed. "What about cake? Was there cake?"
Zozo nodded and held up two fingers. "Two cakes"
"Do you want two cakes for your birthday" I asked her
She nodded rapidly. "I want two cakes... No, I want chree"
Ijeoma laughed out loud. "You want three?"
"Yes" she nodded as she took a spoon of ice cream.
"What else do you want?" Ijeoma asked
"I want ---"
Zozo went on to list a bunch of things that she wanted in her own birthday party. Some of which made sense and the rest didn't but I listened carefully nonetheless. I missed this, spending time with the two most important people in my life. I was glad that I took the day off.
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