Iphey got home early from work and dressed to go to her sister’s house. She had had a fair enough day but wasn’t to be pushed…she was almost at her limit.
Her mom had been in Lagos for the past couple of weeks. Though she was staying with Ngozi to help take care of Obi, her presence still weighed heavy on Iphey. The bright side was that her nephew had been released from the hospital two days ago. They had all been surprised, considering his still weakened condition but the doctors said he was stable and would bounce back faster at home.
“Mum, how can you have a party for Ngozi and Obi? Shouldn’t they be resting and besides, how come I'm just finding out about the party?” Iphey recalled her conversation with her mum just last night.
“My daugther, I’m sorry but seeing as you are a very busy lady, I didn’t want to stress you more than you are. I know the few times you could come to the hospital. This is also my send off, I'm returning to Port Harcourt on Sunday.”
That was the only excuse she got from her mom. An excuse that raised suspicions that didn’t sit well in her stomach. Though her attempts to find out who the other guests were from her mom seemed futile, she was so relieved her mum was finally leaving that she let it slide. Her mum had visited her office twice and she'd also caught her going through her phone. Iphey was beginning to feel like a third wheel with her colleagues and friends where her mum was concerned.
Oh well, she didn't want to overdress so she wore a pink, light sweater on a faded, deep blue jeans and a black, sleeveless leather jacket over that. She wore no make-up that evening. Looking into the mirror to make sure that her curves were not too pronounced, she stepped out of her apartment.
Chinedu parked his car on the street his heart beating a little bit faster. He had taken a chance to accept the invitation from Iphey's mother. He and her daughter had not spoken in nearly a week. Aisha had asked what he did since Iphey didn't want to talk about him though she had tried several times to find out what was happening. He was of half a mind to give up but something told him not to.
He had never had it this difficult with a girl. He had the looks, the money, and the charisma. She was different…he suspected that she was not swayed by frivolities but was more interested in his personality. If so, he’ll take things slow.
He walked into the house and saw other guests that had been invited, holding drinks and making conversation. He scanned for Habib but first found Aisha and her husband in a corner of the room with the lady who most definitely made his heart stop. ONLY ONE WOMAN MADE HIM FEEL THIS WAY! He took charge of him emotions, mustered a bland expression and walked up to them. Before he got there something unexpected happened.
A tall, well dressed man joined the group, greeted them and hugged Iphey with familiarity. Even Chinedu couldn’t deny that this new man was very attractive and he looked like he’s got money as well. He felt a stab in his chest and his face betrayed his cool demeanor. He was full of jealousy in a way he had never been, especially as the stranger's hand was still resting on her hips.
“It’s not that she’s my lady but I know I can’t stand her with another man..." A voice broke into his thoughts. It was Habib, "Why you stand here, come on…”
Chinedu walked with him to say a very brief hi to everyone. He saw an expression of guilt on Iphey’s face…this made him a little happy. He walked away after a muttered excuse to get a drink.
“Chinedu, Chinedu…hold on. Stop! Please…”, Ipey called out. She had left the man she was with and came after him. He smiled.
He turned around so suddenly that she ran into him and almost fell. He caught her on impulse and held her close. His heart raced and seemed to beat twice as fast. He looked into her eyes as the adrenaline pumped through his veins…and drowned in the beauty before him. A thousand years could have passed and he would not have traded that moment for anything. He stood there oblivious to his surroundings and wondered what was going on in her head. He wanted to know.
Without warning, she kissed him, For a second, he thought he was dreaming, only to realise that it was for real. She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek but he remained tense and unyielding. Although he wanted nothing more than to fold her close he still smarted from the jealousy she had stirred in him. He pulled away and watched as she looked at him in disbelief.
“What was that about?” he asked.
“I wanted to say welcome and thanks for coming…” He could see she was embarrassed by his aloofness and didn’t know what to say. She followed the direction of his gaze and gripped his arm. "I know what you're thinking but trust me, he's not...”
Cutting her short, “What does that have to do with me? Why should I care? At least you’ve made it clear that you want nothing to do with an ex-armed robber. Now I know why you refused to hear the circumstances that led me down that path..."
He smiled without mirth, "Well I came on your mother's invitation, so I’ll go greet her and your sister and be out of here…let's just say my eyes are now opened.”
With that…he walked away, leaving her transfixed and at loss of what just happened.