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A MATTER OF HEIGHT PART VIII

A MATTER OF HEIGHT VIII

And then…

Gbemi sat in his Camry, lost in thought. He was worried.

No; he corrected. I am both worried and uneasy.

He was worried because Tunji had not replied his text – which usually meant Tunji did not agree with the contents of the text. And that was bad.
He was uneasy because he was not sure that showing up unannounced where he was at that moment was a good idea.

He was seated in his Camry, windows up, AC on – outside The Covenant Christian Centre Jibowu, waiting for Chinwe and her cousin to step outside the church. He was not sure she would like the idea – but Amaka had thought it would be a good one; she was of the opinion that he should not give Chinwe that much space. So there he was.

He smiled self-consciously and scratched his head. It had been a while since he had done something like this.

He was on his way home the previous night, agonizing over the fact that he had kissed Chinwe and wondering if she would ever want to see him after that when he got a BB request from Amaka.He had paused for a moment; wondering if he was about to be caught in a ‘love triangle’ before accepting the request and thinking ‘ridiculous’.

Her first ping was‘I’m not hitting on you and I don’t plan to, so relax’.
He had blushed.

She had gone on to type I know my cuz can be such a prissy little woman sometimes, but I know she likes you. You could use some inside help.

To that he had replied Thank you Amaka. I didn’t think you were going to hit on me.
I do need some ‘inside help’.

She sent him the ‘devil’s head’ smiley and then typed don’t worry; I’m on your side. Are you seeing her tomorrow?
He responded No…at least we did not plan that.

Amaka typed Hmmm – okay.

There were a few moments of silence – and then; maybe you should come to church with us tomorrow.

He answered: not sure I’ll be able to…there are some things I need to get done.

Amaka, showing a bit of the feisty nature he knew she had, answered: Look, it’s either you want to be with my cuz or not. Don’t start fronting.

Gbemi laughed and then responded: I was not fronting. I appreciate your help. What time is service?

She answered: 11:15am

He typed not sure I can be there that early – but I could come get you guys afterwards. What do you say?

There was a moment of silence, and then; I guess that can work too. Okay. Do you know when the service will end?

He answered Err…no.

Amaka put the devil smiley up again before typing Oya ask na; proud man.

Gbemi sighed and typed Okay ma. Please; when will the service be over?

At first, nothing.

And then; a laughing smiley.

And then; be there by 1pm. Good night.

Back to the present, he looked at his BB, screen wondering if he should send Tunji another message or to call when it started vibrating. He looked at the screen; it was Amaka asking; where are you?

He looked up and noticed people where milling from the church. He responded quickly to Amaka’s ping; I’m on Herbert Macaulay way, the junction to your church.

She responded will do.
Why am I nervous? He asked himself.

All too quickly, he spotted Amaka dragging Chinwe behind her. He quickly put the car in gear and drove towards them, slowly winding down the side window as he got close to their position. Chinwe was standing with hands on hips, looking like she was about to call Amaka a rude name when he spoke; “hi ladies.”

Amaka looked relieved, and without a word to her cousin, opened the back door and got in. “Hello, Gbemi. Thanks for coming,” she said. “How are you doing?”

“I’m good thanks,” he answered, looking through the window at Chinwe who was standing with her mouth slightly open. “Looks like she’s happy,” he continued.

He opened the door and got out, not hearing Amaka’s response. Walking quickly towards Chinwe; one side of his mind registered that he might unwittingly cause a traffic jam by leaving the car where it was, he tried not stare at her, instead looking everywhere except where she was.

“Hi Chinwe,” he said as he stopped in front of her, resisting a crazy urge to grab her and kiss her till she begged him to stop or he swallowed her up. The last thought brought laughter to his throat but he quickly covered it up with a cough. Chinwe looked at him, and then looked away shyly before shading her eyes and looking at him again

“Hi Gbemi,” she said, smiling, “it is nice to see you. Did you worship here today?” she concluded, looking genuinely pleased. Gbemi let out an inaudible sigh of relief.

“Err…I came to…” he began before Amaka interrupted him, winding down the window and poking her head out.

“I asked him to come get us after church, so do come in jo,” the girl finished and wound the glass back up. Chinwe stuck her tongue out at her cousin, and then put her arms around Gbemi gently.

“Good afternoon. Missed you,” she said before withdrawing and skipping lightly to the car. Gbemi followed eagerly, happy that she obviously liked him and did not mind his showing up unannounced at the church. He opened the passenger door for her, making sure she was seated comfortably before turning to his own side of the car and getting in.
Back in the car, he started it moving, laughing at something Amaka said. He had forgotten everything about Tunji and the response he was waiting for.

By the time he remembered, it was too late.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

We have now come to the ‘end’ of the series ‘A Matter Of Height’. Hehehehehehehehehehe! Always wanted to say that!

What that means though; is that several fans have suggested that it would be better if we took this story further from a bunch of blog posts and actually made it into a full length novel. What do you guys think?

Thank you for so much!

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A MATTER OF HEIGHT VII

A MATTER OF HEIGHT VII

Chinwe was feeling warm and soft; very feminine. It was nice to be around a man again.

It had been too long.

Gbemi sat beside her – she imagined, somewhat stiffly. She wanted him to relax, so she shifted a little and placed her head on his right shoulder.
Hesitatingly, he raised his right hand and held her closer, so she was lying against his chest. She could hear his heart beating strongly and, suddenly feeling bold put her hand over that side of his chest.

She felt him start and look down at her head, but she did not look up, studying the area of his chest her hand covered. And then she slowly looked up at him.

There was something in his eyes – something that seemed to take the breath from her lungs. He was looking into her eyes – and then his eyes dropped and she knew he was now staring at her lips.

Despite the cool conditioning of the cinema, sweat slowly popped out of her upper lip and she unconsciously stuck out her tongue to clean it off. Even in the darkened room there was no mistaking the glint that appeared in Gbemi’s eyes, and Chinwe felt as naked as a fly caught in a cobweb. She saw his throat jump as he swallowed nervously, and all sound receded as he dipped his head towards hers.

Oh dear Lord; she thought, trying not to panic. He’s going to kiss me.

She tried to calm herself, and almost reached for his slowly-descending lips with hers when a loud gunshot shattered the quiet of the cinema. She turned to the screen to see Denzel’s character lean against the wall and slowly sink down. He was shot.

“No,” she mumbled under her breath. She felt Gbemi’s hand tighten on hers and she returned the pressure gently. She wondered what he must be thinking; after all it was just a movie. She leaned up to look at him but was staring at the screen with rapt attention. She did not know whether to be glad or sorry.

Chinwe smiled again as she remembered a small scene when they had gone for the tickets. The sales girl – who Chinwe had already found slightly irritating because she was staring at Gbemi so hard, had asked her which movie they wanted to see.

“Safe House,” Chinwe had answered somewhat churlishly.

“How many tickets?” The girl asked.

“Two,” Chinwe snapped, wanting to ask the girl how many of them she could see.

The girl had nodded, and then asked again, “just you and your brother?”

“Brother?” Chinwe had looked over at Gbemi, stunned. Seeing his amused expression, she had walked over to him, put her arms around him and said to the girl, “He’s my husband!”

The girl’s shocked expression and mumbled apology had made the lie worth it. As they walked away and she slowly drew away from Gbemi she heard him chuckle, but had been too embarrassed to ask him why.

Back in the cinema, she felt her spirits lift a bit when it seemed as though Denzel had survived the shooting –but of course that was premature. He still died at the end of the movie.

As they made their way out of the cinema and towards Gbemi’s Camry, Chinwe was feeling confused. Her emotions were all over the place – she felt as though the slightest provocation would make her cry. Don’t be silly; it’s just a movie! She told herself, but she knew it was more than that.

It was some minutes after nine when they left the cinema, and she declined Gbemi’s offer of dinner, feeling too depressed to eat. Grateful for his silence as he drove them back to her house, Chinwe sat quietly trying to get her thoughts back in order. She allowed her thoughts drift…to work, particularly the presentation she had that coming Tuesday. It was for a new client; and it was necessary she presented the creatives before the in-house staff before they took it to the client. Even though it was not her first time; it was her first for a new client. She was nervous.

Let Monday come; she thought. I’ll deal with it then. She came back to the present and realized that some slow music was playing in the car. She cleared her throat and spoke.

“Sometimes I wonder why we struggle; why we live, love, laugh and do other things knowing fully well they don’t last.”

Gbemi turned down the volume of the player and slowed down the speed of the car before turning to look at her seriously. “It’s the movie isn’t it?” he asked gently. “Denzel’s death is getting to you.”

She shrugged. “Maybe…or maybe I’m just wondering out loud,” She rubbed her arms and looked out of the window. “What do you think?” she asked him without turning.

“I think things like that last for as much as you want them to,” he said after a moment’s silence. “You could decide to get home, think about the parts of the movie you really enjoyed and relive the experience or get back into the real world immediately. It’s up to you.”

Chinwe sighed. “I wish it was that easy.”

She turned, imagining he was going to say something but instead he was focused on his driving. She relaxed back in her seat and closed her eyes, drifting again.

“We’re home,” Gbemi announced suddenly.

She started awake and noticed that they were no longer moving. Opening her eyes slowly, she shook her head as the familiar sounds of generators in the neighborhood churned out their noises. The lights were on in her apartment and she shook her head, smiling to herself thinking what Amaka would think when she told her she and Gbemi had not kissed.

“I had a great night,” she said, leaning against the car as he came to her side of it. “I…” she stopped and pointed to the nylon bag he was carrying. “What’s that?” she asked.

“Em…it’s a little something I want you to give your mom,” he said. “I forgot when I came earlier – what’s wrong?”

Chinwe opened her mouth to respond but a lump was suddenly stuck in her throat. She swallowed and tried to speak again but to her horror, she burst into tears.

She sensed rather than saw Gbemi look uncertain for moment before coming slightly closer. “Em…why are you crying? Was it something I said?”
“No…no,” Chinwe stuttered, trying to stop sobbing. “She’s…she’s…”

Chinwe felt Gbemi place the bag on the car and gently put his hands on her arms. “What’s wrong with your mom? Is she okay?” he asked, concern heavy on his voice.

“She’s…she’s dead,” she sobbed heart-brokenly. For a moment his hands stilled on her arms, and then they slowly resumed their slow rubbing.
“What happened?” he asked. But Chinwe couldn’t answer. For some reason she could not stop the tears. They just kept coming.

She felt Gbemi hesitate; and then he gathered her into his arms gently. Somehow he had contrived to use the uneven geography of her compound to his advantage; as a result instead of towering slightly above him she was at the same level with him. She went into his arms.

Later; alone in her room, she could not remember exactly how they started kissing or even who kissed who first. She just knew she was in his arms and it felt just right.

She smiled then; feeling her lips gently with the tips of her left fingers and relived the moment when Gbemi had come to himself. He had stepped back slowly, shaking his head. “Chinwe…I…I’m so sorry,” he had mumbled. “I…”

She had followed him and kissed him again, stopping his apology. Despite the fact that her tears were running in between their lips, it was a gentle and wild kiss all at once.

He tastes minty and fresh; she thought; like a combo of baba blue and Lemon plus. The analogy made her smile and she chuckled, breaking the kiss.
Gbemi stepped back and looked at her, his eyes cloudy. Chinwe gently touched her lips and smiled, “That’s a very effective way to stop a lady crying,” she said.

“Chi…I…” Gbemi started, evidently apologizing again. She cut him short.

“Gbemi,” I wanted to kiss you too so it’s okay.” She stepped close and hugged him. “Thank you for a wonderful evening – and thank you for being so thoughtful.” She eased back and kissed him lightly on the lips.

“Chi…I…I need to tell you something,” Gbemi managed to blurt out but Chinwe waved him to silence. “It’s been a heavy night, champ. I need to gather myself somewhat. I’ll still be here tomorrow,” she finished and smiled brightly. “Okay?” she asked.

Gbemi took a deep breath – and then smiled. “Okay.”

Tomorrow; Chinwe thought as she massaged her lips gently. I’m so looking forward to that.

She fell asleep cradling her favorite pillow, a smile on her lips.


A MATTER OF HEIGHT VI

A MATTER OF HEIGHT VI

Gbemi stood beside the door to Chinwe’s flat, wondering what was wrong with him.

What is wrong with me; he wondered? It’s only been a week since I met this girl, and it’s almost as though I’m on drugs or something. I can’t concentrate for thinking of her!And I’m not some sixteen-year old who just discovered that the fairer sex has twin protuberances on their chests called breasts. I’m a grown man!

A smile appeared on his lips as he remembered the first time he heard that ‘grown man’ phrase used. It had been in a conversation with his dad; and the elder Thomas had said it to him after severally chastising him for some carelessness he had exhibited while attending to a customer. You’re a grown man, his dad had said to him, smiling. Handle yourself responsibly.

Coming back to the present, he gave a philosophical shrug and raised his hand, about to knock again when the door opened seemingly of its own accord. He peered around it and saw a tall, slender model-looking girl holding the door open while talking to someone over her shoulder.
“Hello,” Gbemi said politely as she turned to face him. “I’m…”

“Gbemi. I know.” She said, smiling dazzlingly at him. “I’m Amaka, Chinwe’s baby cousin. Won’t you come in?”

“Thanks,” Gbemi responded, shaking her outstretched hand. “Chinwe did not mention anything about a cousin,” he continued, stepping in and hiding the nylon bag he was carrying behind his back.

Amaka glanced at him over her shoulder as she led the way into the house. “That’s normal,” she said, wagging her eyes at him in exaggerated coyness. “I make her feel insecure so she acts like I don’t exist. But as you can see,” she suddenly stopped and did a slow twirl in front of him, “I’m real in living color.”

Gbemi felt his ears grow hot with embarrassment. “Emm…I’m sure,” he stuttered, not knowing how to continue. “But Chinwe’s quite beautiful…just as you are,” he added hastily. “I don’t see why she should be insecure around you.”

Amaka smiled. “Nice to see there are still some loyal men left,” she smiled and lightly shoved Gbemi playfully. “You can relax! I’m playful like that,” she concluded.

She showed him to a seat directly in front of the sixty-inch TV tuned to African Magic. “That’s for you guys,” he said, handing the nylon bag and looking away as she grinned hugely.

“Oh goodies! Thanks! Let me go get Chi,” she said as she walked away.

Gbemi looked around,eying the various etchings and paintings on the wall.There was a particular one that caught his attention; a mural that looked like an aerial shot of the National Stadium at Onikan. He made to stand up to take a closer look – when he suddenly heard Amaka’s voice clearly.
“…and he bought some things for us,” he heard her say, “from his supermarket no doubt.” Gbemi smiled to himself as he slowly settled back down.

Something told him the conversation was not over yet. He was right.

“The guy looks good na,” he heard Amaka continue; and he grinned. It was good to know he had her support. He strained his ears to hear what Chinwe’s response would be – but it was all quiet.

Suddenly Amaka’s voice came again, a bit louder this time. “Ehn now,” she said, sounding like she had something in her mouth. “He’s not even that short!”

“Amaka!” he heard Chinwe shout, and allowed himself a small smile.Things were looking up.

A sudden clatter of footsteps announced to him that one…no; both girls were coming. He leaned back in the sofa and stared at the TV as though he suddenly found Nollywood movies fascinating. He was still staring when a whiff of cool mint…or something blew across his consciousness. He turned towards the origin of the scent; intending to say something flippant.

But then he caught sight of something, and that other ‘something’ he intended to say became stuck in his throat.

Chinwe had her braids tied in a bun on top of her head, which offered him his first unobstructed view of her neck. It was slender and graceful – but that was not the only thing that stopped him.

Gbemi cleared his throat uncomfortably. He knew fully well that all romance heroines in fiction were typically beautiful; he knew he had been going on and on about how beautiful Chinwe looked – but it seemed to him that every time he saw her was the first time.

In a manner of speaking it actually is the first time; he thought to himself, first time I’m seeing her in anything apart from jeans.

She was wearing a black gown that hugged the sweet curves of her breasts, fitted snugly at the waist, flared out to accommodate rounds hips. It continued, only stopping a bit above legs that seemed to go on for miles – and then ended too soon in a pair of blue pumps. Gbemi cleared his throat again.

“Don’t stand there staring na,” Amaka chided him playfully. “If you like what you see, say so! Maybe we’ll arrange a special take away package -”
Chinwe dug her elbow in her cousin’s ribs and smiled at him, “Hello Gbemi,” she said.

“Hello, Chinwe. You look incredible.”She smiled and dipped her head, but did not take her eyes off him. “Thank you. You really look nice yourself.”

“What time is it?” A suddenly-serious looking Amaka asked Gbemi, who pushed back the sleeve of his black sweater to check his wrist watch. “It’s a quarter to two, why?” Gbemi asked.

“Please bring her back by eleven p.m. latest,” Amaka answered. “And I don’t mean put-her-in-a-cab-send-her-home. I mean bring her home,” she finished.

Chinwe blushed. “Amaka!” she said, feeling embarrassed. But Gbemi just smiled and said;
“It’s okay. I will bring her home by eleven. And I mean bring her home. Myself.”

Amaka nodded. “Thank you,” she said and smiled at Gbemi. “Oya, the two both of you start going!”

Chinwe smiled and hugged her cousin as Gbemi preceded her out of the house. “Have fun o,” Amaka whispered as Chinwe made to break the hug. “Don’t be too uptight. And if he wants to kiss you – let him. Life is too short.”

Chinwe pinched her cousin on her left hip and ran laughing out of the house.


A MATTER OF HEIGHT V

A MATTER OF HEIGHT V

“So – when will I get to see you again?” Gbemi asked.

Chinwe sat on her bed wearing a large t-shirt and nothing else, fiddling with her hair as she weighed her answer. It had been almost a week since they had lunch, and she had been swamped with work. Gbemi; somehow understanding that had given her space asides from the occasional text message. But if his voice is anything to go by; Chinwe thought, he’s really missed me. The idea made her belly warm.

“I’ve just been so busy,” Chinwe answered, realizing she missed the soft-spoken short guy on the phone too. She giggled out loud at the ‘short’ part, and then continued speaking.

“We have this new client – so we’ve been under a lot of pressure to come up with new and interesting creatives. But we broke ground just yesterday, so I should be able to make time this week,” she finished.

“Okay,” Gbemi responded, “but how about this weekend? Are you doing anything interesting?”

“No…not really,” she answered. “I just want to do some laundry – maybe hang around with my baby cousin. Why – what are you thinking?”

Gbemi cleared his throat. “I was wondering if I could interest you in a movie…maybe ‘Safe House’ or whatever you’d like to watch,” he finished.
“Safe House? Isn’t that the one that has Denzel in it?” she asked, reaching for and hugging one of her eleven pillows.

“Yeah – Denzel and that Ryan Reynolds dude. The reviews I’ve read online so far have been excellent -” she interrupted him.

“Sure, I’ll see it with you. I love anything that has Denzel in it.” Gbemi chuckled.

“Another fan,” he said. “Hey. I just wondered – what church do you go to?” he asked.

“Covenant Christian Centre…the Jibowu branch. You?”

“There’s a Redeemed Christian Church about two streets away from my house – that’s where I go whenever I feel like church.”

Chinwe was surprised. “How do you mean ‘whenever I feel like church’?”

Gbemi’s slow laughter preceded his response. “See, I strongly believe certain things should not be forced; they should be allowed come naturally. I don’t think church should be routine –I think it loses its meaning and significance once it becomes that. Anyway, that’s how I look at it,” he ended.

Chinwe was quiet. She had not thought about church that way; and though it was not routine – not to her anyway she clearly understood what he meant.

“I understand what you mean,” she said, “and I think you’re right. It’s not routine for me anyway…it’s always been a place where I go when I’m happy, sad, lost, confused –a place that always feel like home to me,” she finished.

“That’s good,” he said gently, went quiet for some moments, and then said, sounding reluctant; “I guess I should let you go now. You have work tomorrow.”

“Well…okay,” Chinwe responded, eying the clock beside her bed. It was ten-twenty eight; and she did need to sleep. “Maybe I’ll come by your store tomorrow – just to say hi,” she added hastily.

Gbemi laughed again. “I understand. It would be nice to see you. It’s Friday besides, so maybe…”

Chinwe interrupted. “Nothing,” she said firmly. “I’m just stopping by to say hi.”
“That’s good enough for me,” Gbemi said, “good night.”

“Good night, sire.” Chinwe responded and Gbemi’s soft laughter was the last thing she heard before the phone clicked off. She fell asleep with a smile on her face.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
She was at her desk, putting finishing touches to the airline logo she was designing when her intercom buzzed. She picked it up and Seni; the front-desk girl said in a dazed voice; “There’s a package here for you, dear.”

Automatically Chinwe replied, “Ehn…collect it for me na. Isn’t that the normal thing?”

“Obviously,” Seni snapped, exasperated. “But he’s refusing to drop it unless he sees you!”

Intrigued, Chinwe answered “I’ll be right there.” She tried to finish the work before going to see what the package was, but she was too curious so she just left it as it was and hurried downstairs.

Just before she went round the corner and into the reception area, she straightened her blouse and fluffed her hair vainly. Smiling at herself because she was wearing braids, she marched into the area.

There was a tall, lanky young man standing in front of Seni’s desk carrying a polythene bag. Something looked familiar about him – and then she realized Seni was talking to her.

“Sorry – what did you say?” Chinwe turned to look at the curvy front desk girl who was pouting at that moment. At Chinwe’s apology, Seni rolled her weepy eyes and grudgingly said; “This guy showed up here some minutes ago saying he had a package for you. I told him he could drop it and leave –and he refused completely saying his oga would kill him if he gave it to anyone who was not you.” She paused, clapping her hands to show her frustration. “Na wa o,” she concluded.

Chinwe smiled and turned to the young man. “Yes,” she said to him; “who is your oga?”

He smiled; showing dirty brown teeth and pushed the nylon bag to her. “Na oga Gbemi; e say make I give you this thing make you carry go.”

Reflexively she collected the bag and instantly he started to walk away, grinning at some private joke. “Hey,” Chinwe called, “hey! What’s – wetin be your name?”

But he completely ignored her; walking at the same unhurried pace till he got to the glass double doors and pushed them open. And then he walked away.

Chinwe managed to shut her mouth and peered into the nylon bag. The first thing that met her sight was a white envelope that had her name on it in a large scrawl. And then, she found that it was resting on a cooler – a bright green cooler. She groaned.

“Isn’t that food?” Seni said – almost into her ear and she jumped. She had forgotten the girl.

“Mind your business,” Chinwe said fondly, swatting the girl’s rump playfully and walking towards the stairs back to her office. She waited till she was out of sight of the desk and then pulled out the envelop.

Chinwe,
Good afternoon. I observed you’re still really busy at work, so I took the
liberty of making something for you. Note ‘making’; because I cooked it myself
and I hope I am an accomplished-enough cook to interest you in something I made.
Enjoy – and some feedback would be appreciated.
Thanks.
Gbemi

She carefully folded away the note and sat at her desk staring at the cooler, a troubled look on her face.


A MATTER OF HEIGHT III

“He’s short…the guy’s very short…like around here!”

The voice speaking was laced with anger and frustration, which made no sense as at the time of the conversation.

“So? What does height have to do with it?”

Chinwe looked at her younger cousin with disdain. “And they call you the brains of the family. Sometimes I wonder if mom means actually ‘brains’ as in grey matter or ‘brains’ as in oral…”

Amaka waved her hands. “You should be the one to talk. All the tall guys you’ve dated, what have they done for you?”

Chinwe looked shocked. “I can’t believe you’re defending this guy. You don’t even know him!”

Amaka shrugged. “I’m just asking you to be objective. He has not even asked you out yet…”

“But I know he’s going to! You should see the way he looks at me…the way he holds my hand a bit longer than necessary…”

“Hmm. Sounds to me like you like him. So what’s the problem?”

He’s…he’s short!” Chinwe threw up her hands and slumped on the easy sofa, fuming.

Amaka came and dropped beside her. “Look on the bright side – at least he wouldn’t have to kneel down to ask you to marry him!”

Chinwe looked at her cousin. “Is that what you should be saying?!” she asked incredulously. Amaka shrugged. “Someone has to see the silver lining in every dark cloud,” she answered. “It’s not so bad when you really look at it. Worse things have happened.”

“Oh yeah? Like what?”

“Whitney Houston is dead. Obama might not be the next American president. Pedophilia is on the rise – and you are worrying about one guy’s height.”
Chinwe made to stand up. “You’re crazy,” she said to her cousin unsmilingly.

Amaka touched her thigh lightly. “I was kidding – but hear me out. Do you remember when we were arguing about Mariah Carey marrying Nick Cannon?”

Chinwe shrugged. “We were still in school then!”

“That’s not the point. Do you remember what you said?” At Chinwe’s second shrug she smiled and continued, “You said ‘if she had to marry a younger guy to find true happiness, I wish her all the best.’ You said that, dear cousin.”

Chinwe bit back the angry retort at the tip of her tongue, realizing her cousin was correct. Apart from Gbemi’s height…

“Seriously, apart from his height – you don’t have any other issues with him do you?”

She thought back and smiled. “But Ama, this is crazy! It’s not even been a week since I met this guy! And yet…”

“So love has a timeline, abi? Okay. When is he supposed to fall in love with you? When is he supposed to ask you out – take you to watch Ghostrider or…”

Chinwe jumped up and stood over her cousin. “Don’t you dare make fun of my Ghost Rider, you hear? Don’t try it!”

Amaka cowered in mock fear. “Okay! Okay!! I’m sorry. I was just -”

“I know you were ‘just’” Chinwe bent over and hugged her little cousin. “You’re so smart all of a sudden…all grown up. Thank you so much.”

Amaka, who was not used to her cousin displaying emotion, was pleasantly surprised and hugged Chinwe back firmly. When they finally released each other there were tears in Amaka’s eyes, but she was smiling happily.

“What are you going to do?” she asked Chinwe.

“Oh, he asked me to lunch so I’m going to go to lunch with him. And then we’ll see.”
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Gbemi had instructed his girls to close the door while they logged in the new stock for the shop, so he was not expecting anyone. At the moment they were off-loading biscuits, and he thought of Chinwe and how she had been avoiding him since he asked her to lunch the previous week. It occurred to him he might have jumped the gun where she was concerned – asking her that soon; but he liked her and did not appreciate mincing words.

But obviously that had not gone well; he thought. Okay, maybe I did jump the gun this one time. I’ll go and see TJ, use that as an excuse to see her – and apologize if necessary.

“Oya, una hurry o! You wan sleep here?” He asked. Of course, his staff was working hard without slacking but he had to say something. He did not even need to be there; he trusted them that much but – he was interrupted.

Oga,” came a voice from behind him. He turned and saw Jerry, the security guard on duty.

“Yes?” Gbemi answered, frowning slightly. The guard cleared his throat, trying not to smile.

One madam dey find you o. She say her name na Chinwe,” Jerry concluded.

Chinwe! “I’ll be right there,” he mumbled.
As Jerry turned away, Gbemi called Aisha and told her to watch things, removing his apron as he spoke. And then he hurried to the restroom to tidy his appearance.

A few minutes later, he hurried outside. She was sitting beside Jerry at his post, laughing quietly at something the guard had said. Gbemi slowed down his walk and watched her laugh, a small chord being struck to life somewhere around his chest area. She looked beautiful in a blood red blouse and blue jeans, a combination that set off her complexion. She was wearing trainers.

He moved closer and cleared his throat.

“Hi Gbemi,” she said, looking up at him. She looks really really nice; he thought.

“Hi, Chinwe. How are you today?” he asked.

She stood up. “I’m good,” she answered. “I hope I didn’t interrupt -”

“No you didn’t,” he cut in hastily. “I was just watching them off-load and arrange stuff.”

“Okay,” she said. She nodded and then suddenly said, “You offered me lunch, did you not?”

At Gbemi’s stunned nod she smiled. “Okay then,” she continued, “take me to lunch.”