27: I’m sorry but YOU DID WHAT?! …by La-Pimpette featuring F
There he was. The man who had refused to call. The man who had made her feel ridiculously foolish and yet made her want to try again. Iphey was shocked to see him after so many weeks! She had to blink to be sure that this was not a trick her eyes were playing.
“Chinedu, what on earth are you doing here?”
As the words left Iphey‟s lips, realization hit her hard. MAMA! She had been right all along. The woman HAD been expecting someone else when Otunba appeared on the scene. She glanced back and the look of ultimate satisfaction on Mama‟s face said it all. Right in the middle of this storm in Ngozi‟s living room, Mama was grinning from ear to ear. The smile of a woman whose mission had been accomplished. Unbelievable. Iphey tried to caution herself from jumping to conclusions but Mama‟s voice sealed her suspicions.
“Oh Chinedu. I have been expecting you! How are…”
“Wait, you were expecting him?” Iphey turned to her mother. She knew Mama was a match-maker but did not believe she would go that far. So all that delay asking for details about James was just to buy her some time so that Chinedu would meet her here? As Iphey extricated herself from the confused web of emotions that her mind had become, she realised Chinedu was explaining.
“Yes your mother called me here… she said she wanted me to come help her with something.”
“So you’re not here to see me?”
“Yes…Erm…No… Your mother said…” Chinedu stuttered.
The funny thing about shock or stress is the disconnect between thought and speech. His words were as eloquent as those of a teenager asking for a first date.
What Chinedu was thinking was, “How dare you? I am the one who should be demanding explanations here. YOU made up your mind without hearing my side!”
These thought flitted through his mind, yet, the exasperation he felt was far outweighed by something else he couldn‟t explain. Like why he could not erase her from his thoughts like he did with his phone. She had a hold on him and he didn‟t like it. He realized that she had also gripped his arm literally.
“If you would excuse us,” Iphey said to everyone. All eyes were fixed on them by now. “We need to talk,” she whispered to him.
Chinedu was as surprised to see Iphey as she was. He did not know her mother was playing one of her tricks again! The woman had called him earlier to come and help her out with “something”. She said it was an emergency and something she could not talk about on the phone. God he had so NOT planned on seeing Iphey! It was the middle of the afternoon and she was supposed to be at work. Now all the emotions that had seemingly been buried were rising from nowhere. His thoughts were paused by the sound of her voice… he had almost forgotten what listening to her was like.
“I‟m talking to you Chinedu! Did you know I’ll be here when you agreed to Mama’s request to come?”
He pretended nonchalance. “I came to see your mother; I honestly did not plan on seeing you.”
Her next words came out of nowhere. “That‟s not even the issue! How dare you ignore me since? After that episode with Bisi, you did not even think of calling me to explain. You completely blanked me and acted like we shared nothing…. like I did not mean anything to you! How could you let me go? Why?”
First, it was his past. Now she wanted an explanation for Bisi. Iphey wasn‟t even his woman so why was she angry at all? How could she be so worked up when they were not even together? He wanted to tell her he was sick of her excuses. Instead, Chiendu remained calm…
“They say if you love something you should let it go and if it comes back then its meant for you.”
Iphey hissed, “Oh don‟t give me that! You did not even act like you were hoping I‟d come back! Aisha said you never brought up the subject after that day.”
“I was giving you space, you needed to sort out your feelings.”
“I don’t blame you.” Iphey rolled her eyes. “Am I not the one that drove all the way to your house to tell you how I really felt but you happened to be with SOMEONE ELSE?”
At her rankled tone, he began getting worked up too. “Iphey, I‟m trying to be as civil as possible but you are not making it easy! For Pete‟s sake I‟m the one meant to be pissed here. I do not deserve this interrogatory process that‟s going on here! In fact, I did not deserve the show you put up that night. YOU came to my house and I had a visitor, SO WHAT? YOU chose to walk out without giving me a chance and YOU chose not to pick the calls I made to you that night!”
Iphey piped down quickly. He was saying the obvious. And after her confrontation with Bisi earlier, she knew what she had to do. “OK OK… I‟m sorry,” Iphey said. “I really did not mean to raise my voice.”
“Is that all you’re sorry for?” Chinedu snarled. After putting him through all that heartache? Making him wonder if he had done anything wrong? Not trusting him? Ruining his relationship with his workers because he had been terribly grumpy since then? And she was just sorry for raised voices?
“I‟m sorry for everything! I should have trusted you! Something else happened that night with my family but still I shouldn’t have flown off the handle so easily. I‟m truly sorry.”
Chinedu felt peace flood his heart. He wanted to hug her. He smiled and moved closer. Just then her phone beeped.
Iphey quickly read the message from Jane.
“Oh no! I‟m so sorry, I have to run to work now. I’m late and my boss will fire me if I‟m not there this minute! Can you call me later so we can make plans and sort this thing out?”
Chinedu stepped back. With a heavy sigh he said, “Sure I will. What‟s your number again?”
Iphey fumbled in her handbag for her car keys. “What?”
“I don‟t have your details any more. I deleted them…”
“YOU DID WHAT?!”
28: I just want a chance with you…by F
After her outburst, the silence lengthened between them.
“Ifeoma!” Her mother’s scolding voice cut through the charged atmosphere. “Is that how to greet your mother’s guest, ehn? With confrontation?” Letting
out a loud hiss, Mama came to Chinedu‟s aide, stopping what was about to turn into a train wreck.
“Don‟t mind her, my son. How are you?”
If she was a meddling mother, he was gladly an enabler. At least, she came through for him. Guy! You fuck up. Why did you have to go telling Iphey you deleted her numbers? Dear God… Smiling sheepishly, he could have kicked himself for the nearly perfect impression of the awkward teenager he was putting on show. Cupid was surely having another laugh at him.
Highly irritated, Iphey cut Mama’s bonding session with her perceived potential son-in-law short. “OK… I really don‟t have time for this. I have to get back to work.” She stormed off, leaving Chinedu with Mama. At the door, she hurriedly mumbled some awkward but polite goodbyes and “nice to see you” to Ngozi and Otunba. In truth, she wasn‟t totally thinking about her job after that last tidbit about deleting her details. She would have agreed to jump on to a bed of hot coals if it meant avoiding Chinedu.
The man might have been shaky with his words in the beginning, but he definitely wasn‟t playing at the end. Even when caught off guard he exuded a natural confidence that couldn‟t be taken away from him. He had just told her he had been ready to throw her over and here she was still salivating. The fact that he was just as gorgeous as the last time she saw him wasn‟t helping either.
She looked up and Chinedu was in front of her. His eyes looked straight into hers unflinchingly. This was not the right time to be gazing into the eyes of an alluringly attractive man. Sanity had to be preserved. Brushing past him, Iphey dashed into her car.
Let him stew in it. Leaving him like this made her heart ache, but she was too proud. The high of their reconciliation had been dented by finding out that it had been so easy for him to forget her. And it seemed that the pride of her car had been dented as well, her engine spluttered and died when she turned it on. She couldn‟t believe what was happening right when she needed to escape the most.
Again and again, the car refused to start. When she turned the ignition, the uncooperative engine made a sound that seemed to be laughing at her futile attempts to get it to work. Iphey felt herself on the verge of explosion. Surely, this much exasperation couldn‟t be contained in one body… She was one second away from bursting into a torrential flood of tears when a deep soothing voice came through her window.
“I‟ll take you.”
Iphey decided to play the hand fate had dealt her. Whatever her beef with him, the fuming Funmi still waited in the office. She didn’t even want to fight him off any longer. She was in Chinedu‟s car with all her stuff before she knew it. As they drove in silence, she noticed he was smiling. Out of amusement this time, not awkwardness.
“What is so funny?”
Chinedu let out a quiet laugh. It was that of a confident and mildly amused man. “So you sabi Igbo like that?” Iphey hadn‟t realised she had been cursing in Igbo at her choppy day, her manager and her car. They both burst into laughter. The tension brewed by all the day‟s previous events melted into oblivion. There was something about him that always put her at ease. It was the same calm she felt when he comforted her during Obi‟s hospitalisation. Her mind drifted, envisioning being held in his arms, totally at peace without a care in the world.
“You always know exactly what to say or do. When you aren‟t having strange women over or robbing people at gunpoint, of course.”
The laughter died at once. A feeling of intense stupidity enveloped Iphey. She had no idea why she had said that. Before she could take it back, Chinedu had veered off the road, stopping sharply by some roadside stalls. He was visibly angry.
“Who do you think you are? You no get secret? You no get past? The fact that you know mine does not give you the right to throw it in my face all the time.”
He threw his hands up. “Women! You say you want honesty, then you run when you hear the truth. You say you are not interested in me, then you freak out at the sight of another woman. What the hell do you want from me?”
Iphey was dumbfounded. He was irate. She couldn‟t bring herself to look at him, reverting to a childhood habit of playing with her fingers when nervous. She now looked down at them.
“Answer me! Answer me now!”
“A chance?” she whispered.
Chinedu thought he was hallucinating. He could feel everything inside him softening, turning to mush. “What?”
“I said…a chance. I‟m sorry for joking about that. It sounded funny in my head.”
She laughed awkwardly in an attempt to minimise the gravity of what she was saying, and looked down at her fingers again. “I was scared. I still am. You know how they say, „Be careful what you wish for‟? Well, I wished for someone who made me feel safe. And you do. The violence of your past scares me. But I could work through that. I just want a chance with you…”
Chinedu felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. In their place, an army of butterflies suffused his stomach. Gently, he lifted her chin so he could see her eyes. They were sincere. Afraid, but sincere.
“Iphey, I swear I‟m not that person anymore. I promise you. The confusion that led me to that life is not part of me anymore. In fact, I am far from confused. I have never been as sure of anything as I am of us. So if you still want that chance, I can give it to you wholeheartedly. I am serious about you and I need you to understand that.”
Iphey finally found herself submerged in the eyes she had been trying to avoid. Relief and happiness overwhelmed her. Something else did as well. It was lust. She found herself wanting to be lost in more than his eyes. Before either of them could finish their train of thought, they were lost in an intense and passionate kiss. They didn‟t even notice the petty traders outside the window until the knocking came.
“Oga, if u go use your enjoyment block customer for me, make you buy something now!”
Chinedu couldn„t care less. He would buy the entire stall if he had to. Finally kissing Iphey had been bliss. He wanted to do kiss her again and keep doing it.
Iphey smiled widely. The kiss had felt so natural; so right. Chinedu was the man of her dreams. Literally. Those eyes…they smiled into each other’s eyes and drew closer again.
Her phone beeped. “Oh no…Chinedu please, let’s get to my office.”
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