Nkoyo flung her hand bag across the big bed she shared with Atim before she reclined to a chair so she could stretch her feet comfortably and drown in her thoughts. Shutting her eyes, she wondered what would happen to Johnson now he’d lost his job. Wherever she went, someone talked about him. Apparently, Johnson was popular especially among ladies.
She thought about how he would feed or fend for himself in other ways. Johnson always said it was her culinary skills that endeared her to his heart. Now, who would cook for him? She acted the housewife on many occasions but didn’t warm his bed. That was the part that threatened their relationship. She had always wanted to get married as a virgin. She knew Johnson cheated on her but she thought he would change, someday. She neither complained nor made a fuss about it. She loved him. His shit, she could swallow. Once, he had tried to rape her. She excused the act as a weakness she could handle. One day, he’ll understand the world doesn’t revolve around sex. She had thought. Johnson mattered to her like her very life.
A quick movement from the restroom pulled her out of the deep realm of thoughts. Atim stood beside her, wrapped in a blue towel stopping above her knee. Nkoyo opened her eyes and smiled faintly. Her mother had sent the towel as a gift for Atim on her 25th birthday before she died two years before. Atim made sure no one other than her used it. It was a treasure she didn’t wish to part with.
Wrapping the large towel on her head, Atim bent over to pour some moisturizer onto her palms. “When did you return?”
“A while ago.”
“You’re lucky I didn’t lock the door. How did your day go?” Atim rubbed her palms together, rubbed her skin and asked the matter with Nkoyo.
“My dear, haven’t you heard?” she said, dropping her head backwards and stared into the white ceiling.
Atim chuckled as she glanced at her. ”Don’t tell me this is about Johnson being sacked. He is guilty as charged.”
Nkoyo threw her a strained look through narrow eyes showing her displeasure.” Guilty as charged? But don’t you have the slightest thought of how he would fair?”
“How’s that my business? Atim shook her head. “How does that concern me? Every action done by man has a consequence. Johnson sowed seeds, and he’s only reaping a harvest. A bountiful one at that,” she said as she started to wear a pair of yellow boxers.
“How do you know he is guilty? What if he was framed?”
Atim stood stunned as she listened to her friend. Sensing a tinge of sentiment in Nkoyo’s tone, she decided not to say a word. Once a lady is in love, her senses are blurred by emotions.
“And come to think of it, it’s Aniebiet who had him sacked.”
“Ahhhhh! How did you know?”
“Deny it if Benedict didn’t feed you the details.”
Atim went over and held Nkoyo’s hands in hers. She noticed Nkoyo’s eyes were beginning to shine with tears. Obviously, she was still in love with him. A man with looks like Johnson’s couldn’t be erased from memory like a word document. Feeling sorry for her friend, she squeezed her fingers lovingly. “Johnson is your past. There’s no future in the past. Let Johnson go.”
Nkoyo snatched her hands sharply. Atim stood still facing her. “Johnson is not my past and will never be. He needs me now more than ever before”. Atim saw her throat rise and fall with tears. I love Johnson and it remains that way.”
“But it’s over between you. When will you accept that? By the way, you have a responsible man who could go to the moon for you. Why not give Aniebiet a chance to love you.”
Tears spilled onto Nkoyo’s cheeks as she walked past Atim to the open window. The rays of the sun fell on her crumpled face. “That’s where the problem lies. He can go to the moon for me yet he sacked the man I love. He sacked Johnson. Oh Johnson. She called his name thrice in silent whispers as she clenched her hand and laid it on her chest.
Atim stepped forward to lay a hand on Nkoyo’s shoulder but missed her. Nkoyo turned swiftly, grabbed her handbag, sandaled her feet and fled the room. She paused to hear whether Atim would come after her. But did it matter? She wanted Johnson to hold her in his strong arms. She wanted him to wipe the tears from her face. She wanted him to tell her they could become a pair again. Atim had her fair share of problems. And she was good at bottling it in. Often, she wondered how a lady who was squatting with her still had time to smile through her pain. She heard Atim singing one of her favourite songs that talked about the faithfulness of God. Unwilling to hear more of how God has been good to her, she sauntered to the gate.
Johnson was watching a movie on his laptop when Nkoyo arrived. When she stepped in, she looked around. The sitting room had a different look.
The curtains were now royal blue instead of the yellow she knew. The chairs shone and the center table sparkled. On the dining laid a plate in a tray, covered with a table cloth. Nkoyo suspected the handiwork of one of his mistresses but was preoccupied with the thought of seeing him after a long time. Her eyes settled finally on his handsome face. Her heart fell.
When Johnson took Nkoyo’s hand, something moved in her soul. Now she wished she had not come. She wished she had told Atim about the frequent calls. Johnson had mentioned something about losing his job and said he felt he was paying for breaking up with her. For a long moment, they held hands and held each other’s gaze.
Nkoyo found her voice before she gave in to the stirrings Johnson brewed in her. She didn’t want Johnson to realize he still had her heart. But Johnson was no fool. He saw the deep passion in her dark brown eyes and felt satisfied. Thankfully, he had not lost the woman standing before him. While Mfon was away at work, Nkoyo would keep him company. “Can I sit?”
Johnson laughed. “You act like a visitor. This is your home, remember?” He looked at her left hand. “Do you still wear the ring I gave you?”
“Yes, I do.” She dragged a soft breath, lowering her eyes. “I didn’t break up with you, Johnson. You did.” She turned away from him but Johnson grabbed her hand.
“Stop Nkoyo, tell me the truth. Did you wear this ring just because I wanted to see you?”
Nkoyo tensed at the touch of his hand. Johnson still had his charm over her. Sometimes, she wondered how she managed to decline his sexual advances. “Johnson, I’ve worn this ring all along because it was given to me by the man I loved. It’s mine now. So how I wear it doesn’t concern you.”
Johnson’s heart grew with compassion. Had Nkoyo not been nice to him? She credited his account at will, but refused to let him have a feel of her. Written all over her was the love she had for him. A love he couldn’t handle. “So, who’s on board?”
“Aniebiet, your former boss”, she said as she watched his countenance fall.
“That dude set me up, had me sacked, and now he wants my babe.”
“Did I hear you well?” She said, taunting him. “Your babe?”
Johnson’s eyes widened. “I won’t let him take my job from me and my woman.”
“Point of correction, I am not your woman.”
“Deny it, Nkoyo. Look me in the eyes and deny it. Then why haven’t you taken this ring off?”
Nkoyo’s silence pissed him. He clenched his fist as he remembered how he slapped Mfon a couple of days ago. He still saw the marks of his finger on her smooth face. Anger was getting the best of him, but right now, he knew he had to stay put. One wrong move, Nkoyo would be out of his life forever. Pleasurable sex or a chilled bottle of Gulder could soothe his nerves but Nkoyo would neither give him the former nor let him have the latter which was sitting in the freezer.
“Tell me all about what led to you being sacked. I’ve heard so many themsays.” She sank into one of the chairs, her bag by her side.
Johnson sat with her. Putting an arm around her neck, he laid her head on his massive chest. The hairs on his chest tickled her face. Nkoyo felt her pulse increasing. She wanted to run but here was the man she loved. Her wishes were coming true. She knew she had to put up a logical fight before her emotions gave way. She told him to let her rest on the chair. When he withdrew, she felt bad for using a harsh tone on him.
“So, what would you like to drink?”
“Nothing. I came to see how you’re faring and—”
“Or because I asked to see you.”
O God, why can’t he understand I still care about him in spite of the hurt he’s caused me? Johnson, why are you so blind? “Whatever you think. Why have you been bothering my line lately?” Nkoyo asked, scratching her head.
Johnson didn’t smile. Instead, he held her hands and stroked them gently. “I’ve missed you my Love. I really have.”
Nkoyo tried to pull away but Johnson held her firmly. “Don’t strive with me, please. Agreed, I messed up. But I’m not letting you go. I’m not going to allow that Aniebiet guy take what belongs to me, anymore. If you have any connection with him, please severe it.”
Nkoyo swallowed hard as Johnson kept rubbing the back of her hands. She wished she could see through his heart. “Why? He loves me”.
“That’s not the point. Do you love him?” he tipped her chin and searched her face for a response. “I’ll be right to say you don’t because if you did, you wouldn’t be here.”
Nkoyo lowered her eyes. Johnson was right. She did not love Aniebiet. To her, he was boring. Even though they shared the same beliefs of marriage is honourable among all, and the bed undefiled, Aniebiet didn’t make her blush like Johnson did. She loved his humour and the wild sensations he sent through her body. Again, she regretted why she had worn the engagement ring he had given her. What would her Pastor say when he heard she visited Johnson? “Ehmn, Johnson”.
He hushed her with a finger planted vertically on her lips. “Let’s go back to how we were. Now, I’ve lost my job, all I think about is you. I lost you once and I’m not losing you again. He fondled her ring. We will still get married”.
“How? You’ve lost your job?”
“I’m the man. Just say yes and before the year is over, you’ll officially become Mrs Johnson.”
A momentarily smile spread across Nkoyo’s face. Did she hear correctly? God was smiling down on her. She cupped Johnson’s face. She felt the beards against her palms. She saw his handsome face that made her heart pound uncontrollably. She perceived his cologne envelope her like a princess. And she tasted his tongue in her mouth as he captured her lips in a slow kiss. Her body burned like fire with intense desire. With his powerful arms, Johnson scooped her effortlessly, before heading to the bedroom.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t see you last week as scheduled,” Pastor Vincent said, as he sat in his chair. “I have quite a lot of engagements on my plate”.
“Not to worry, Sir. I wasn’t in town all the same. I had to visit my Mother.”
“Hope all is well?”
“Of course, it is. She’s just worried about me not being married.”
“Oh that? That’s a regular African mother for you. By the way, do you have eyes for any woman anywhere on this planet?”
Aniebiet tried to hide his smile. “I have eyes for Nkoyo.”
“She said so the last time we spoke. Have she given you a response?”
“Not yet. She said I should give her some time.”
“That’s true. A lady who just lost her man isn’t expected to jump into the hands of another man at will.”
“But I don’t intend to hurt her. I’m here for real.”
“Johnson, listen to yourself talk. Nkoyo will not take your word just like that. If she demands for some time, then let her have it. Remember, love is patient and kind.”
Johnson nodded as he stared into Pastor Vincent’s eyes. “I wonder how much time she needs. And how much I can hold it in any longer.”
Pastor Vincent returned Aniebiet’s gaze. “Patience, my son, be patient. You need wisdom to run a relationship, especially with a broken woman.”
“Nkoyo isn’t really broken. I’ve heard rumours about her returning to Johnson.
“Are you saying she’s returned to her vomit?” Pastor Vincent twisted his face. Nkoyo didn’t disclose this to him.
“Rumours will only wreck your heart. If you desire to know the truth, talk to your lady. Ask questions. And if you know this is the will of God for you, be patient. The tide will turn in your favour.”
Rising to his feet, Aniebiet shook Pastor Vincent’s hand, thanking him for his time and sound words. Turning to the door, he told Pastor Vincent to extend his regards to his wife and children.
Episode 9 continues Next Wednesday.