Ngozi whisked the eggs steadily, slowly adding butter and sugar, swiftly turning them in, it was a very calming process, her mind wandered...
Since Iphey told her about James she hadn't been able to sleep well, had become easily distracted, even though she had also felt a bit relieved , a sense of closure because not knowing what happened to James had been tearing her apart. She had barely managed to fight off his relatives who had been adamant about declaring him dead.
Ngozi sighed again, she really needed someone to confide in. Iphey had been so busy lately, since she had gotten back with Chinedu two weeks ago so there really wasn't a good time to talk to her about it. She couldn't speak to her mum because she knew it would just escalate things, her mum was still with her throwing a spanner in the works for Otunba. But the truth was that who she really needed to speak to was James, to ask him why he left, explain to her why she didn't have a choice in the matter, how he could just walk out and leave hs son without a father. It had been a quick knee-jerk reaction to draw closer to Otunba but she had changed her mind since then. His proposal had clouded her mind coupled with James's continued aloofness.
She remembered the way they had met, back in Port Harcourt. Then her baking was truly a hobby. She baked for her mother's friends usually and only charged money if the job was really big to earn some spare cash. That day she had been baking a cake for a customer who she had never met. He had called three days previous, said he'd gotten a referral from one of her usual customers and he wanted a cake for his mums birthday. Usually she didn't take orders without at least a weeks's notice, but there had been something about that voice, so warm and friendly, the way he gently pleaded and nudged her to do his will, she wondered what type of face would go with that voice.
The birthday was later that day and as she completed the icing on the cake, she smiled in anticipation of finally meeting him. They had spoken twice more on the phone after his first call and he had confirmed that he would pick it up himself.She was expecting him in four hours so she had just about enough time to finish with the cake and get herself ready.
At exactly 5pm her doorbell rang, an hour earlier than planned, the icing was all on but not ready to go but she was in even worse shape. She caught a glance at herself at the mirror on the corridor, she looked a mess, she always looked scattered when baking. Her heart hammered in her chest but she didn't want to keep him waiting.
James was at the door, he hoped she had been able to bake the cake in three days. He had been really desperate and had pulled out all his charms in getting her to assist him. She had sounded stern on the phone but at the end of the phone call, she was laughing really hard. He remembered her laugh now, it had sounded like a happy song, it made him smile thinking about it.
Ngozi opened the door to a striking face, he looked just as he had sounded -a charmer- he was tall dark and handsome -a cliché- but that was all that came to mind looking at him, his smile completed the whole look and she felt her heart skip a beat.
Wow, she thought, that hadn't happened in a while.
"Hi," he said, "I am James, we've spoken on the phone, about the cake?"
"Yes, yes" Ngozi replied, "please come in."
"I am so sorry for the inconvenience, it was a last minute thought," James said.
"Oh no worries, you are definitely paying for it," she replied jokingly. "The cake is just about finished. I'll put it in a box for you soon as I return to the kitchen. I am sure your mum will be pleasantly surprised, wish I could see her face when you give her, I love surprises."
"You could, you know, she is having a small get-together, you could come if you wanted to."
Ngozi smiled, "its so nice of you to offer, but I couldn't possibly go. I am not even dressed and I have to clean up, I can't impose."
James insisted "You wouldn't be, and I could help clean up while you dress. After all it's my fault, I gave an order on short notice and now I'm here earlier then we scheduled." He smiled at this point sending her heart to skipping, "Also you would find that I'm a domesticated man."
Ngozi refused, "thanks for the offer but I wouldn't want to crash your mother's party."
"I insist, she wouldn't mind. In fact I am sure she would want to meet you after tasting this cake, and it'd be great for your business." James added.
"OK, but this is just a hobby." Ngozi had smiled, admitting defeat, "I'd go, let me just freshen up," she had left him in the kitchen after showing him where the utensils are kept.
James washed up after his simple meal, a scowl staining his face. He forced himself to smile by thinking of Ngozi and his son Obi. His hope of seeing them again soon was being boosted by his new friend Habib. He had confided in him about his woes of the past and the young man had promised to help. He said he had friends in the police who would soon be on the case. James rinsed his plate reminded of the day he met Ngozi. He smiled to himself, just like that day, he had a feeling that something was about to change in his life.
He couldn't remember all he had said that day seven years ago but there had something about the lady he'd first seen at the door that appealed to him, she looked so adorable in her stained apron and tussled hair. With the facade of a cake, their mothers had schemed for them to meet each other and he had fallen for it without knowing. By the time they both found out about the match-making, it had been a moot point. They were in love with each other. They got married six months after that day and it had been bliss all the way till he had spoiled it with his own hands. He cursed the day he decided to try his hand at gambling. Thank God he had learnt his lesson before it was too late. Or was it? His family was still out there...
A knock broke through his consciousness.
"Oga James," the little boy that lived in the room opposite said, "one man say make I give you this." The prepubescent chap handed him a thin envelope and scampered off.
James closed the door and opened the enveloped. Dread washed over him even before he knew what was inside. He had never received parcels since he moved into this area of Ajegunle. Did this mean they had found him again? Just as he was about to hope again?
The five pictures sliding out of their cage, missed his waiting hands and scattered across the floor. There were pictures of him in his borrowed taxi, him and Iphey in the taxi, him and Iphey at the entrance to her house and then a couple of just Iphey, at work and at home.
James staggered back till he collapsed on the only furniture in the room apart from the thin mattress on the floor. The chair creaked underneath his slight weight as he leaned his head between his knees. The envelope was now also on the floor. It was only then he noticed the writing paper peeping out. He pulled at it quickly. Scrawled in pencil were the following words.
YOU AND YOUR NEW GIRLFRIEND WILL BE IN TROUBLE IF YOU DON'T GET OUR MONEY IMMEDIATELY!
That's it folks. It seems things are still going to continue between Ngozi and James. It seems none of the contributors wanted Otunba in the picture, oh well. BUT! Did anyone see what I saw? Iphey is in Danger! Who gave James enemies the idea that she was his girlfriend, how did they find him and more important, how did they find her? Leave your comments and vote for who you want to hear from in the next chapter. Don't forget to check back always.
Our contributor is HappyBBB of WHO I AM!!!!! Her name already gives us an idea of who she is but her last post on the ten things I love meme sheds even more light.
"1) Smiles: i am a smiling person, i always smile that's my personality, its easy to know when am down you wont see a frown, there just wont be a smile, my brother calls me ismaila... hehehehe,
2) My blackberry: its my blogging and twitting machine, i am addicted to it i swear down, my mum has threatened to seize it times without number, what was i doing when i didn't have one,
3) Love: i totally love love, love stories,movies , novels,songs, they all speak to me, i love watching people fall in love, hearing people speak about love, i love weddings and d smile on the brides face, i love awwwwing and ooohhhing, i love giving love out, making TY feel loved, i love the four letter word in its entirety"