"Angeli, Angelina. You dey cool my tem-pe-rature" I sang along to the Burnaboy's 'On the low' song coming out of my computer speakers.
I continued to sing along to the parts of the lyrics I knew and hummed in the parts I didn't whilst looking through some files laid out in front of me.
"You're overly excited today. What's going on?" Chioma pointed out.
She had walked in a couple minutes ago and headed to Mr. Kachi's office to retrieve a file before settling down. I noticed her gaze on me a couple of times as I sang, doing my work but I ignored them.
I feigned cluelessness. "What do you mean?"
"Tahhh. Don't even try that one with me. I know you know what I mean" she gave me a pointed look
I chuckled. "So, somebody cannot be happy for no reason again"
She raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips as if to say 'I don't buy a word your saying'.
"Fine" I said in defeat. "Nawa for you ooo. If someone sees you know they'll think you're innocent and you don't like gossip"
She laughed and then wiggled her brows. "I do my own things on the low"
"I hear you" I said in a mocking tease. " Anyways, my baby is coming back today"
"Ee hen, love nwatintin. I go wan love like this oo" she teased and I rolled my eyes in return. (Sweet love)
"I hope that eyes keeps rolling oo" she said with laughter dancing at the tip of her tongue.
We both burst out into a heartfelt laughter.
Chioma and the others met Noah on the night of the office party. They surprisingly maintained cordiality with him throughout the entire evening and bombarded me with questions the next Monday morning at work. Most of the questions came from Nkechi, she wanted to know the whole story of how I met Noah and if he had brothers or cousins who lived in the state.
That one no dey use eye see fine man.
Noah was indeed returning from his medical trip today and I was so excited. It has been one week and only two barely audible phone calls and a short text message that we had to keep contact but now I got to finally see him.
I felt like an army wife who was called into base because her husband was back from war. He sent me a text earlier today that he would be returning later tonight and that set my mood for the whole day.
Mr Kachi wasn't on seat at the moment hence our careless chatter and loud laughters. In fact, Mr Kachi hadn't spent time in the office for the past four days and it wasn't because he was avoiding me or anything like that. Instead, he had his hands full with the new workload that came with the mega-mall contract.
He was working closely with the contractors and architects, making sure they had the right materials and everything on our side was in order
There were a couple of small offices in the company's warehouse which was were he worked from these days.
"I have to head back to the warehouse and join Mr Kachi. You can take care of things here right?" Chioma said
"Of course. When are you leaving?"
She glanced at her black leather wristwatch. "Uh... In the next thirty minutes, I should be on my way"
"Okay. Before you leave, let me use the opportunity to give Nkechi some files" I said rummaging through the files in my drawer
"No problem. Don't waste time there, please. You know Nkechi talks too much and I have to beat the traffic"
"I'll be quick" I rose from my seat with the file in hand and dashed out.
"Owww!" I exclaimed as my thumb accidentally grazed over the hot tray of freshly baked muffins.
I quickly placed the tray on the countertop above the oven along with the napkin I used in carrying it and rushed over to the kitchen sink. I turned on the cold water faucet and allows the cold water run over my throbbing thumb.
I was making muffins for Noah before he arrived. I wanted to cook an elaborate dinner and have us eat it together as a small family but I wanted to make him happy not congested so I decided against it. I knew how much he loved my muffins and it had been quite a while since I made them. In fact, ever since I quit my job at the hospital, I hadn't thought of making muffins due to my busy schedule.
I exhaled in relief as the throbbing waned.
As I grabbed a hand towel to wipe off the water droplets, my eyes landed on Zozo. She was seated on one of the high stools by the center counter. I had just woken her up from a nap she took late afternoon.
She had hands crossed against her chest, her lips pouted out and her face contorted in annoyance. I knew that look all too well.
You know those times, you just wake up irritated and angry and you sit in a corner waiting for the unfortunate soul that'll cross your path just so you could unleash your inner beast on them.
Whenever I was in one of those moods, Noah would always avoid me and focus all of his attention on Zozo which in return pissed me off. Well, because at that point in time I would be looking to start an argument and he wouldn't give me a reason to battle with him.
Being my annoying self, I would find ways to pick a fight but he would never let it escalate and would always find ways to bring me to a better state of mind.
"Sweetheart... My love... My beautiful baby" I cooed at her, trying to make her smile.
Her lips didn't even twitch, talk less of forming a full fledged smile.
"Let me just leave you alone. You're my daughter after all" I said more to myself than her. "Noah will take care of you when he gets back"
I allowed her to be in her own space while I went ahead to set up the dining table. I had ordered food online; spicy Jollof rice and medium sized chicken laps which I transferred into a fancy dishing bowl after warming them.
I moved to mix the salad. That was the one of the things remotely close to cooking that I could do. I grabbed an empty bowl, a glass jar of mayonnaise, a bottle of Sprite, already sliced cabbage, carrots and others, arranged them on the counter and got to work.
Noah didn't like eating salads made outside his home because he was worried about the level of hygiene of the people making it. He could forgo other heat required foods because the heat used in cooking them would kill of whatever bacteria that was present in it but for delicate foods like salads, already cut fruits sold by the roadside were big no-nos for him.
He had a very sensitive stomach and was very careful of what went into his mouth. In fact, he was extremely cautious about his health. I had never really experienced sick Noah but he always tells me that he's a horrible patient and I wouldn't want to see him in that state.
Once I was done with the salad and the table was well set, I took Zozo upstairs for a bath. I didn't let her know he was going to be back today because I didn't know how late he would arrive and I didn't want her staying up too late, waiting for him.
An hour later, Noah still hadn't arrived and I couldn't keep waiting for him before giving Zozo her dinner. She ended up having her Jollof rice while I decided to wait till he got back before having mine.
I didn't want to smell like flour and sweat by the time Noah arrived so I took Zozo up with me to my room and dropped my phone with to keep her company. I headed over to my wardrobe and began to ransack for something nice to wear.
It took me twenty minutes to find something I could finally agree on. It was a sleeveless, surplice black gown that hugged my body and stopped a few inches below my knee. The bottom of the gown had a criss-cross design to the side creating a slit that would expose a little of my left thigh.
I couldn't even remember when I got the dress because I'd never worn it out before, it even had a tag on the top which I pulled out. I laid the dress neatly on the bed before taking off my clothes and heading to the bathroom.
After the refreshing and very much needed shower, I got dressed up and began to contemplate on make-up. On one hand, I wanted to look good for Noah, I mean I haven't seen the man in a week and on the other, I didn't want to put make-up on, only to wipe it off in a couple of hours. A couple deliberations of 'do I' and 'do I not', I finally decided to just put on a little brown powder and dab some lipgloss unto my lips.
A few head turns from side to side in front of the mirror and I decided that I was satisfied with how I looked. Although my sew-ins needed to be taken out, I had carried the hair for way too long. It still looked presentable but it had to go, I was tired of tapping my head from all corners just to relieve myself of head itches.
"Mummy... Mummy" Zozo called out, lifting her hands up in the air.
"So you know I'm mummy now, abi" I pursed my lips playfully at her.
Zozo was finally out of her cranky mood and now wanted to be carried around. She was no longer a baby but still wanted to be treated like one. I didn't want her to throw a tantrum so I indulged for a few minutes before taking her to her room.
I placed her gently on her bed and handed her the 100 pages coloring book that Noah got for her along with her set of crayons. I didn't want to leave her by herself so I settled down on the little bench chair by her window.
It was getting quite late but I didn't want to start calling Noah to ask for his location. I assumed that there must be some level of hold ups on the way back which was delaying him. Besides, he was driving and I didn't want him getting distracted.
I pulled out my phone and opened the Netflix app on my phone. I was diehard fan of Bollywood movies and I would sometimes think that if I wasn't born in Nigeria, I would've been born in India. I had started watching this very interesting Indian movie 'Ek Villian' and as sad as I was about one of my favorite actors being the villian in the movie, I still found it interesting nonetheless.
The movie was almost coming to an end when I heard a loud knock on the front door downstairs which was a little weird. If Noah was back, he could just input the security code and come in instead of knocking but I didn't think much of it.
I was so excited to see him, I was literally skipping two steps at a time just to get the door. Once I got to the door, I adjusted my hair and plastered a wide smile on my face before yanking the door open.
"I've mi--" I started to say
The smile on my face faltered and dread washed over me like pouring rain. My eyes bulged out in shock, my mind blanked out on me and my chest began to palpitate rapidly as my eyes landed on the man standing in front of me.
The man that haunted my dreams for many nights and caused me so much pain and suffering. The man who I trusted with my everything but hung me out to dry when I needed him most. The man that caused a lot of hidden scars that even Noah didn't know about.The man that I prayed fervently to never set eyes on ever again, my worst nightmare come true. The devil incarnate himself.
"Kunle" I whispered in disbelief.
It's about to go DOWN.
Let me get your thoughts, please.
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