Tarnished And Cherished

Tarnished And Cherished
Eunice Bennett

Dear reader
I am a new author and I hope my book would receive positive commendation as well as positive critiquing so I can get better and improve and become well grounded in this novel journey of mine.
It would be great to get feedback from you would appreciate genuine feedback. You can contact me through:
Email: eunicenojar@yahoo.com
Twitter @Austin Christana

Yours sincerely,
Eunice Bennett

Tarnished
and
Cherished

Eunice Bennett

Copyright page

Eunice Bennett
Has been hooked on novels from popular writers like Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Chinua Achebe. She has an avid interest in helping especially the abused in the society. She lives in Lagos Nigeria she is single
And lives with her mother.

This book is dedicated to all the women and young girls who have been victims of rape. It is a reminder that they are not alone in their struggle and that they can still find love it’s never too late.

This book is for my mother and all those who believe in me. I couldn’t have done it without your help.

chapter One

Not been a party animal, Tolani wondered why she allowed Remi convince her to come along to this gig. The music was too loud and the air reeked of cigarette smoke. How do they cope with all these. It was a Sunday night. Imagine she had work tomorrow it was a big mistake doing this just to please her friend. She had promised to accompany her but never knew it would go against her sanity.
” Are you having a nice time?” Remi asked with a drink in her hand. Tolani looked at her and then declared that she had to be on her way as she had a schedule to keep. Picking up her bag she waved goodbye to her friend. She walked out and breathed in the clean crisp fresh air as compared to the stale air in the bar. It would be nearly impossible to get a taxi by this time of the day. It was nearly 4 in the morning. She had to be at work for 8am. She walked down the streets in the hopes of finding a taxi or hitching a ride whichever one, so long as she got home and got some sleep. Sleep was important to her now. As she walked she glanced over her shoulder anxiously. The area was notorious for rape and robbery. A lone woman was an easy target. At the next bend she saw a taxi and hailed it. She gave the driver her address and settled in. As the taxi moved she was feeling better now and she was happy for the decision. Stopping in front of her house she gave the driver her fare and thanked him. She walked up the stairs to her door, opened it and got in. It was good to be home. She locked and bolted the front door went to her bedroom and fell into bed. She was fast asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.And she slept soundly. Waking up suddenly to the sound of the alarm she was disoriented for a while until she looked at the time and it was already dawn.

Tolani woke up from her bed groggy and tired. She had had a rough night. The annoying thing was she had to climb out of bed and get ready for work so she won’t be late. She lived on the main land and worked on the Island. The shuttle between was hectic enough to make a person mad. Her discomfort was of her own making she realized.
The splitting headache she was having was as a result of not having a enough sleep. It was sheer miracle that made her arrive home safely and in one piece from her foray in town. Work has to be done it can’t very well do itself can it. She stood up walked into the bathroom, brushed her teeth and had a quick shower. Looking at the time it was fifteen minutes past seven. No time for breakfast as she would be late. She donned on a pencil skirt and a silk blouse. Checked her bag to make sure she wasn’t forgetting anything. Walked out, shut the door and headed for the bus stop. It was packed and crowded. She waited for the bus with everyone else and kept checking her watch. By 8.00am she concluded that she would be late and there was nothing she could do about it. Finally, a bus arrived and it was a mad rush with elbows poking around and people scurrying around to board the bus. Getting off at her bus stop she clipped clopped in her 3 inch heels to her office building. As she walked in the manager said ” You are late!” Looking sheepishly, she replied, “the buses were scarce to come by it was a jungle at the bus stop”.
“Well it’s okay I understand” he responded with pity.
” Thank you sir”
She got to work immediately . Working for an advertising agency can be challenging but she lived for the thrill of the brain storming, designing, etc. It’s what she loves or so she thought. She got to planning an advertisement campaign for a software company that’s looking forward to go big any time soon. She and her team debated over strategies to be used in achieving their goals and targets. As well as satisfying the yearnings of their clients. It was a difficult task but they were up to the challenge. The best was yet to come.

Yemi Awoseyi was an astute business man in the land scaping business he was a master. He had a recent competition in Mark Ogaga. He was out to destroy him for no good reason. He wanted to buy him out and was ready to use any means possible including harassment and intimidation. He was scaring his workers away. And sabotaging some of his finest works. Recently he demanded that he engaged his daughter to him if he wanted respite. He had been stalling but with the recent trend he didn’t see any way out. So he discussed the matter with his wife and they agreed to accede to his demands so that they could have respite.
Having finalized the agreement he arranged for a meeting between them the following day. He called Tolani and explained that it was important for her to play along. She agreed to please her father but didn’t know the cost would be great. The time was set and thus it was left to chance.

Always having his way and winning had always been Mark’s lifestyle. Losing wasn’t something he considered. Mr. Awoseyi would bend to his will that he was very sure of. He would ruin the man and his family for his defiance. He had demanded for a relationship between him and his daughter, not out of love but to taint his reputation as a husband, a father and a business man. If only he had been generous he wouldn’t have resorted to such drastic measures. One thing he was sure of was that he would hit him where it hurts most his precious daughter would be raped and then he would call off the supposed engagement saying that she had been tarnished and he couldn’t afford to taint his reputation. With that all planned out he went about to set the ball in motion. He arranged with the thugs who will carry out the rape phase of the plan. He would meet her tomorrow and before weekend she would have been raped. Satisfied with his ingenuity he relaxed a bit.

Chapter Two
” You would need to do a clean job, don’t kill her just rape” Mark said to the man in front him. He gave him Tolani’s itinerary as he had had her followed. The poor thing didn’t know the calamity that was soon to befall her. The stage was set and the actors would soon be in motion. He emphasized that he wanted no mistakes.
Mistakes were costly, he asked the man to wear a mask as she must not see his face under any circumstance. The money was the allure and the man assured him of their success. A lot was riding on this he knew one slip and it all comes tumbling down like a card house. That was something he couldn’t afford. He would block all ends that would lead directly to him.
Tolani looked at the time she was running late for dinner with her parents they needed her and she’d help them in any way she could; she couldn’t afford to not attend. Tiding up loose ends. She closed for the day and set out on her way. Her father said they were expecting company. He had explained the situation to her. And she was ready to give her full cooperation for the sake of peace. At exactly 7:40pm she arrived at her parents house. She greeted them warmly and they responded. Their guest was yet to arrive so she was in time to help her mother set the table and plan the meal. Soon after, a knock at the door announced the arrival of their visitor. She opened the door to meet a very young well dressed man who should be in his mid thirties only a few years older her, she thought. ” Come in” she said.
The man entered and soon everyone was seated and dinner passed quietquitely. As the meal ended Tolani and her mother cleared the table of the dirty dishes. The men retired to the living room. She walked in some minutes later after finishing in the kitchen. Her father turned and said ” let me introduce our guest, Mark Ogaga a business man”.
Mark looked at Tolani and smiled saying ” nice to meet you finally”.
Tolani was stunned as she had never encountered the man before. Seeing the look of confusion on her face he quickly added ” I have been told so many good things about you”. Feeling a little bit relieved she joined them. Her father excused himself and they were both alone. It was strange. She said nothing and kept her cool. Mark looked at her closely like she was a spec under a microscope.

Not knowing what way the conversation between them would sway; she let him take the lead and say what was on his mind. He drew closer and wanted to hold her hands but she withdrew and shifted closer to the edge of the chair. Non pulsed by her reaction he pasted on a smile. She stared at him for a while but didn’t move any closer. Mark was seething in anger. He would teach her not to take him for granted. ” What exactly do you want?” He heard the question and wondered what it was about. Remembering he was at the Awoseyi’s he answered ” To get to know you better”, he smiled.
” Alright no problem then I agree”.
” Okay, can I have your number?” He asked.
She gave him her number and he promised to call her soon. She nodded in assent and hurried out of the living room. She went to the kitchen and told her parents good night.
She picked up her bag and went out the door. As Mark saw her leaving he rushed out asking if he could give her a ride. She declined the offer and was soon at the bus stop. She got home tired and got into bed straight away.

” How did it go?” , Tolani’s father asked.
Mark looked at him and just kept quiet.
He thanked them both for the dinner and muttered under his breath it was a disaster. He waved goodbye and was soon out the door. He got into his car and drove off. He headed to a club; he was in need of a drink. He arrived at ” Press Play” ordered a beer and took a corner table. He surveyed the interior and smiled into the glass. Phase one of his was already in motion.

The Awoseyi’s watched in awe as both Tolani and Mark left without saying anything about how their discussion went.
Children of these days always keeping things to themselves they mused. Hope it would turn out well? That seems to be their only prayer.

Chapter Three

Making appointments and planning for the next day Tolani and her team decided to give it a rest and pick up from where they stopped tomorrow morning. She got her hand bag and waved goodbye to them. Smiling to herself she realized that the day had gone better than she planned even if there were one or two hitches. As she walked taking longer strides so as to get to the bus stop on time. She never heard footsteps behind her until it was a little too late. Her attackers grabbed her to a dark part of the street and tried to rape her. She opened her mouth to scream for help but it was useless.

Tired of struggling she gave up fighting them praying for the ordeal to be over fast. They hit her with a blunt object and she was unconscious all through the ordeal.
From the corner of his eyes, Roland watched as the scruffy men dragged the woman to a dark part of the street. Looking at it he felt no compunction to rescue her and he wanted to just mind his business. But on second thought he told himself that his conscience will not be at peace if he stood idly idllybyy and did nothing.
So summoning courage,he walked towards where he saw them drag the woman. By the time he got there he was already too late. The men had done the deed and fled leaving her unconscious. He whipped out his cell phone dialed the emergency number and waited for help to arrive. The police questioned him while the EMT took Tolani away. He followed the ambulance to the hospital. Fortunately, being a doctor had its own advantages. As she was loaded onto the gurney and wheeled into the hospital he decided that he had to save her life at all costs. Though he had never seen her before he felt compassion as well a sense of warmth and protectiveness towards the rape victim. Why he could never tell. He just felt this great urge to protect her and keep her safe from the rest of the world. Tolani was treated and by the time she could speak, Roland was there to answer all the questions she had to ask. A feeling guilt washed over him. If only he had reacted earlier she would have been spared the pain and anguish she’s going through. He promised himself that he would try to help her recover from the ordeal as fast as possible.

He never knew she’d be a part of his life and that he would come to cherish her more than his own life.

Chapter four
Still not able to leave the hospital Tolani got accustomed to the handsome face of the man that always greeted her each time she opened her eyes. It was a surprise to her that he was there she felt alone and was always happy to see him as the days went by. The pain in her body had receded but the one in her soul was still fresh. As tears flowed she wondered what she had done to deserve such a fate. Roland had asked if she would like to contact anybody and she said her parents. He let her call her parents in privacy and didn’t enter her room again until evening. He strolled into ward with a stethoscope and a lab coat.
” Evening how are you?” He called out.
She looked up surprised but replied ” A little sore here and there”
” Am happy to learn you are doing good” he said.
” We haven’t been formally introduced; I am Roland Emuh” he said smiling.
” I am Tolani Awoseyi” she replied.
Well that’s out of the way now , he said matter of fact “There are no internal bleedings as we suspected. The case has been reported to the police and you would file an official statement once you are discharged. It’s a pity I couldn’t do anything for you until I saw you lying there unconscious.” The way we always turn a blind eye to issues telling ourselves we are better off not knowing is heart breaking he said to open up a conservation between them.
” Why should a complete stranger be telling her this; or did he have a hand in what happened to her?” , She thought to herself. “I know you are thinking, what you are thinking, didn’t mean to scare you?” He replied reading her thoughts. Tolani was shocked at the way he guessed what her thoughts were exactly. Wanting to recover fully so she can be on her feet again she willfully did everything the doctor said and was relieved to know that in a few days time she would be out of the hospital but not out about. She needed rest the doctor said and she had to take things slow for the mean time. Roland still visited her room whenever he could and often reassured her that she would have on her feet soon. He came to love the time he spent with her just talking , listening to the sound of her voice. It was the highlight of his day . Her recovery was complete it was time to go home. As she was leaving the hospital Roland walked up to her and said “I’d miss talking to you, it was something I looked forward to everyday after a long shift”, he confined. ” I was glad to be a sounding board” she replied smiling. She walked out of the hospital and went straight to the police station but was told that the time limit had elapsed on such report. She said that a report had been filed on her behalf by the hospital she was only here as the victim to corroborate the statement. The officer in charge insisted that there was nothing he could do. She walked out of the police station dejected and wondered if it was the wrong one. It was the only one close to the hospital so she thought it should be it.
She trudged back to the hospital and asked for Dr. Roland. He was available and asked that she come in. ” Good to see you again—” he paused looked at her carefully and added carefully ” what happened?”

” I came to ask what police station you reported my case to” she said almost in tears.
” The one close to the hospital” was his prompt response.
” There seems to be a problem, they claim their is an expiration on how long it would take to corroborate ones story, the window was already shut” she answered dejected.
He sympathized with her plight but couldn’t help her like she envisaged. He said it was the way the police worked. That she should leave it all to time. Time will tell and bring justice to her no matter how long.
” I wish I could be of help” he told her.
” No problem, you’ve done more than enough for me” she answered.
As she stood up to leave his office he extended his card to her saying ” Call me alright”. She tucked the card away in her bag.
As she got to the door he called out ” wait up I walk you out.” Surprised by the gesture she stepped back as he stood and opened the door for her.

Mark had followed the whole scene and went to the police station where the case was reported to bribe the officers in charge into waving the case off at all cost. He never counted on a good Samaritan figuring into his plans. He was thankful that he was on hand. As this way the rape case won’t be investigated. Even if it was temporarily till he decided what next step to take he would call her later and see how she’s doing.

Chapter Five
In the days that followed Tolani tried to immerse herself in work. She was given light jobs and participated in group discussions on various campaigns her team was involved in. It made the day fly by. But when it got to the time to head home, fear always gripped her. What fate would befall her? She never voiced her fears to anyone. She was afraid of being laughed at and been called paranoid. She always left work early escorted by one of her team members. She took a taxi home rather waiting at the bus stop. The bus stop no matter how brightly lit became like a death trap and she refused to go near one. For the time begin she told herself : “Breathe babe don’t hyperventilate” she scolded herself. She got home in time paid her fare and walked up the stairs to her apartment. Checking for any signs of invasion she checked the locks and windows. Satisfying her curiosity she went into bedroom and took off her clothes. Then had a refreshing bath. She ate an early meal; watched a show or two on television and went to bed. Afraid. ” Calm down” she reassured herself.

Roland was sitting in his office when a nurse rushed in that he was needed in the ER urgently. He followed her out immediately and was prepped and ready in no time. He entered the ER and asked of the status of the patient. He was an accident victim, he was told. The operation was to save his legs from been amputated. The battle to save the man took roughly six hours. The operation was successful and he was transferred to ICU to recover. Thinking how close they got to losing him, he was happy that he could save a life. Recovering from the strain of the operation, he began to recollect that he had seen the man’s face somewhere. But couldn’t remember where? He let it drop and counted it as just a mere coincidence. He let the matter drop off his mind. Rather he thought of Tolani, wondering how she was doing? He wanted to see her, she had a calming effect on him. That he couldn’t deny. She was his secret stress reliever.

Chapter six
Remi one of Tolani’s friends came visiting one Sunday evening. As they sat at the balcony and had drinks they jawed off on irrelevant things. Remi was telling Tolani about one of her clients who was very demanding. There was a knock on the door. Puzzled and wondering who it could be she walked to the door and met the biggest surprise of her life. Roland stood at door with a basket of fruits.
” Hello” he said in greeting.
” Hi, how did you find my place?” She asked.
” Well, it was part of the information you filled during your admission” he said matter of fact. She opened the door reluctantly to let him in.
All males were always giving her the hibby jibbjibbes lately, she didn’t want to be in his company alone. Hearing voices Remi stood up to see what was going on. Coming face to face with Tolani and Roland and the obvious awkward situation. She spoke up gaining their attention. ” Oh! We have company!” She chirped. Tolani didn’t bother to introduce the uninvited guest, so Remi said ” I am Remi Alakija, nice to meet you”. ” Roland, the pleasure is mine.”
He gave the basket to Tolani and walked in. She was strung tighter than a guitar string. The animosity she felt towards this guy was like a living thing. As Tolani walked into the kitchen to drop the fruits Remi engaged Roland in conversation. ” Have you known Tolani for a long time?” She asked.
” No we met a few weeks back.”
” Alright, she said casually sizing him up.
” The guy is hot and sexy” she pondered to herself.
No wanting to embarrass her Roland avoided her sultry gaze not appreciating been sized up like a prime stud for sale.
Tolani walked in with an extra glass for Roland. Remi the natural leader controlled the conversation asking questions and making mooning eyes at Roland which was obvious to Tolani and Roland didn’t seem to notice how humiliating. ” So I was asking Roland, how you met ——-” Remi trailed on chattering excitedly. Roland replied ” at the hospital”, to get Remi off his case. She had been badgering him with questions since he sat down. ” Oh, alright.” ” Would you mind telling me why you at hospital and you didn’t deem it fit to tell me? She accused directing her question to Tolani.
She glared at Roland and he realized that she had not told her friend about the incident. To save her the embarrassment he said ” she came in for a routine check up, I am her doctor” he added as an after thought. Tolani wondered how the man could be so quick on his feet. He saved her from telling her sad tale to Remi. She was indeed grateful. ” Do you do make house calls” Remi asked smiling sweetly.
” No I don’t” was his candid response.
” Then why are you here” she said mildly
” I was in the area and decided to stop by and see how she was doing, he said tersely. He was becoming fed up with her friend’s nosiness and blatant flirting. No shame at all what has the world become.
As if on cue Roland stood up and looked at his watch.” Sorry ladies you would have to excuse me, I have a night shift; enjoy the rest of your day”. He walked past and Tolani stood too saying ” I’ll walk you to the door”. As they walked into the living room Tolani apologized for Remi’s attitude earlier. ” Thanks for saving me back there ; I really don’t appreciate sharing my ordeal just yet” she confided with a smile. Her smile was like a 100 watt bulb lighting up her whole face. He felt a warm tingling sensation. She was like a cool breeze on a rainy day. He carried the picture of her smiling face in his heart as he left. He didn’t reveal anything as she didn’t suspect a thing about how he really felt. ” Good bye” she called out and waved as he left. As she turned back to the house Remi rounded up on her and was feeling very excited. What’s with her she wondered. Until she blurted out her reason for the excitement it all had to do with their unexpected visitor. “Do you have his number?” She blurted out without preamble. Tolani stared at her and was wondering what had come over her friend.

She could get any guy why chase shamelessly after the good doctor. ” No I don’t if you were so interested why didn’t you ask him”.
” I didn’t want to appear desperate”. ” Hmmmmm, wonders shall never end, Remi when will you change?”
Remi looked at Tolani like she had suddenly grown horns. ” Don’t be such a kill joy” she chided playfully. ” Or do you like him and then I would back off; but if you don’t abeg shift let me enter” she told her friend.

As he walked home from Tolani’s place he strolled down the street at a leisurely pace. Her parting smile was all the memory he cherished about her. Been able to make her smile brought great comfort to him. He was feeling protective towards her. He told himself it was because he was unable to do anything until after the horrific ordeal.
He was bent on righting things as best as he could and trying to gain her trust so she would have someone to talk to. Bottling her emotions inside was doing more harm than good. She was avoiding male contact he noticed. He couldn’t blame her. He would suggest that she see a psychiatrist soon. This phobia of the male developed will take time to wane. He wanted to be a part of her recovery process so as give her a fighting chance. It was true she was unconscious during the ordeal thankfully. He was looking forward to seeing her again without interference. Her friend sure was bold and flirty. She didn’t read any signs he sent her telling her he was not interested.
He didn’t look too much at Tolani but the little glimpses he had of her was like a life time and he would always appreciate it.

Chapter Seven
Yemi and Bola Awoseyi were discussing with their daughter Tolani. They wanted to know in detail about the incident and were ready to give their support in any way they could. They had been notified by the hospital of their daughter’s admission. Been out of town they rushed to her side as soon as they returned.
” How did happen?” Her mother queried.
” Yes, how come no one came to your rescue” her father asked.
” It all happened fast and I was knocked unconscious” was her response.
” Thank God you are alright now’. Her mother added thoughtfully.
Tolani looked at her parents and wondered what thoughts might be going through their minds. They have always wanted her to marry as a virgin. Now that plan wouldn’t work. Who wanted a damaged flower. She currently abhorred male company and was only enduring her work mates. They too had noticed how scared she got if any one of her team members Femi and Gbenga touched her to get her attention. She usually had this repulsive feeling to their touch. Even though they meant well. Her mother reassured her that she was not alone.
” We trust you are taking good care of yourself?” Her mother said.
Bringing herself back to the present she answered with a nod not trusting herself to speak just yet. It wouldn’t be long before they pick up on the marriage issue with Mark. How could she explain her repulsion to the male folk? Won’t they think she was overreacting.

She had to confide her fears to someone before she explodes with bottling up her emotions.
Her parents looked her and noticed she had this far away look. Thinking she was exhausted from their conversation. They said good bye and promised to visit soon. Walking her parents to the door she waved them good bye. Her mother hugged her and as her father tried to also hug her she recoiled and ran into the house with tears in her eyes. What would they think of her attitude she thought. She needed help and had to get one before she loses her mind completely.
And she knew who to ask for help even if it means tolerating his presence for a while.
” Hello” Roland answered the phone on the second ring.
” It’s Tolani” came the voice over the phone.
Lady luck must have smiled on him for her to call him. Understanding that finally she was needing help he gave his full attention to the call. ” To what do I owe the honor of hearing your melodious voice? He asked laughing to put her at ease.
” I need help” she explained.
” What kind of help?” He asked seriously.
” I know you noticed the aversion I had towards you when you visited” she paused.
Roland had indeed noticed it and acceded to this fact to encourage her to continue the process could not be rushed. ” Yes” he replied.

” Well, I just ran away as my father tried to hug me” she answered almost in tears.
The situation was indeed getting dicey and needed to be nipped in the bud so she could have a normal healthy life.
” Can you come to the hospital this afternoon” he asked
” No I don’t think so” she replied tersely.
” Alright, how about I come pick you up and we could have lunch together?”
Meeting in a public place without any chance of touching was the best way to handle the delicate situation. She agreed reluctantly.

Few minutes later, a knock at the door sounded and as she opened she saw Roland waiting for her. He refused to enter and she grabbed her purse and locked up then followed him. He walked ahead while she trailed behind no body contact. She felt comfortable with the agreement. ” Where would you like to eat” He asked her as they walked.
” There is a fast food place not far from here ” Domino’s” she replied.
He walked up ahead and true to her description found the place. He opened the door for her but stood back at a reasonable distance. She entered and looked around. The place was almost empty except for few people. She ordered food for them while he found a table. He took one at the back that afforded them some privacy from prying eyes and ears. Though the place wasn’t full he still didn’t want anyone overhearing their conversation. It would be difficult for her. She walked with the tray balanced on one hand like an experienced waitress. He smiled at this. And so as she sat down he still had the smile on. ” If only she knew” he thought to himself.
” Why are you smiling? She asked puzzled. ” Just remembered something” he said in response.
Settling in he asked her to sit so she had her back to door, he sat facing the door so he could observe people coming and going and so she doesn’t see any known faces. Without arguing she did as she was told. They ate without conversation. Then she asked ” so when we going to talk?”
” Be patient Tolani” he said.
Finishing their meal he gave her his undivided attention and said ” Shoot, am all ears”.
” This repulsion I have towards males, is it a permanent or temporary thing” she asked.
” I am not a psychiatrist, but I ‘ll recommend one to you a female preferably” don’t you agree .
” Yes thanks for making the concession for me”.
” Alright, the sooner you start the better.”
Roland picked up his phone and dialed Carolyn’s number. He explained that he had a patient who he would like her to meet. They arranged for an informal meeting later that evening. He related the information to Tolani and asked if she was comfortable with the arrangement. She was becoming less tense and insecure as she spent time with him. Maybe she could overcome this fear. She was looking forward to winning this battle.
As they talked the door opened and Remi walked in with a handsome young man. Roland observed them as they scanned the area for a seat. They took a seat close to the door. Roland told Tolani of her friend’s entrance. She was grateful for the sitting arrangement. They made plans to see Carolyn in her clinic before starting a formal session. Remi was oblivious to anything around her aside the young man. They didn’t stay long and soon they walked out hand in hand. Taking it as a sign for them to take their leave; Roland stood and Tolani did the same. He was behind her as they walked out. He couldn’t help noticing that she was very beautiful with a lithe and flexible gait. Carolyn’s clinic was a few blocks away and so they walked there. Knocking softly on the outside door, Roland waited for her to open the door. She greeted him warmly and invited them in. ” I am Carolyn Williams” she said proffering her hand out for a hand shake. ” Tolani” she replied shaking the extended hand. They sat around a small table with chairs. ” Roland explained your situation earlier but I would like to hear it from you if you don’t mind” she encouraged.
Tolani found her voice soothing and relaxing and the events of that horrible ordeal were tumbling out of her mouth without restraint. As she finished narrating it to her. She was convinced that it was temporary but didn’t know how long this phase will last. ” We would begin our sessions tomorrow morning as I believe evenings are hard on you” .
Alright I am willing to make the effort. Carolyn assured her that she would overcome this problem in a short time. Roland said he would attend with her for moral support. ” Do you have a boyfriend” Carolyn asked pointedly.
” Yes” she replied.
” Have you told him about this incident”.
” No” she shook her head.
” I suggest you do and I mean face to face not over the phone, she cautioned.
Roland was just hearing about the boyfriend but it wasn’t a deterrent to what he felt for her. He was willing to wait. He just discovered that he was going to have a tough fight but he was sure of success.
They thanked Carolyn and left the clinic. How would she tell Mark about this? She was in a dilemma. It’s been over 3 months still she was yet to recover. Hopefully, these sessions she was starting would dis spell some of fears and doubts about herself.

Chapter Eight
She started her sessions with Carolyn and was happy with the outcome of their first meeting. She decided to take the bold step and called Mark so she can arrange to tell him as soon as possible she was eager to put the encounter behind her. She dialled his number and it went to voicemail. She wondered where he could be. So she called her father to apologize for her action and to tell him that she would be coming over for the weekend. He was excited and informed her mother. She immediately said that they would also invite Mark. He was out of town but would be back by weekend. She was looking forward to outpouring the sordid horrific ordeal but not with joy but it was a necessary evil. She had to get it over with. Maybe he wouldn’t mind that she had become a damaged flower no longer whole. She was feeling that he would take it well. Until she reached the bridge she would cross it. With the ball already set in motion she decided to go to work to ease some of the boredom. She had been on compulsory leave for a while and was missing working. So she took a taxi and stopped in front of
‘ Legit Prints’. The sight was welcoming. She was dressed casually and smiled and greeted those she passed by. It was a change from the cringing and screaming banshee. She was a work in progress and she was willing to adjust. Her manager Mr. Toju Obafemi saw her and asked what she was doing at work. ” “Am bored just wanted to check with my team to make sure they are on schedule with our deadline”.
” Alright just take it easy” he advised.
She was been treated like a fragile vessel that could shatter. This broken doll persona must have been straining on her co-workers. She was thankful that she had gone to her session this morning. It bolstered her morale and confidence. She worked with her team members for about an hour or two. By 12pm she waved goodbye to everyone and set out for home. The day had been fulfilling and productive.

She called Ronald and told him that she would be out of town for the weekend to visit her parents and break the news of her rape to Mark. She was getting to trust him as he had become a rock for her to rely on. Would Mark be as understanding as he? The news would make or mar their relationship. It was already hanging by a thin rope and this might just send it over board. She packed her bags for the weekend and called her parents to let them know she was on her way. Because of her fear for the night and dark places she left in the afternoon and got to Surulere in good time. Her parents welcomed her warmly. She went to her room and dropped her over night bag. Her mother knocked and walked in. ” How are you doing? She asked concerned.
” Am doing better than when we met last” she confided.
Bola Awoseyi looked keenly at her daughter and realized that there were indeed subtle marked changes. She just hoped it would be soon enough for her to marry Mark. A lot was riding on this marriage. She hoped that Mark will not think of her as damaged flower. Leaving everything to fate, she walked out of her daughter’s room to begin preparation for their guest. Mark will be by tomorrow afternoon and she was hoping to make a good impression on the young man and also pointing out Tolani’s fine points to detract from the god awful news of the rape. Tolani helped her mother to prepare for Saturday.
Saturday dawned and the moment of truth was here finally and she decided to live with whatever the outcome. She had come this far and would not back down. By noon, a knock at door announced their visitors presence. The table was set and Tolani and her mother brought the trays of food to the table. ” So how was trip to Abuja” her father asked Mark as he sat down. Tolani sat close to her mother and far away from Mark. He didn’t seem to mind at all. He chatted with her father until lunch was served. He ate and appreciated her mother for the sumptuous feast. The meal went by without any hitch. As the table was been cleared she told Mark there was something she would like to discuss with him. He said okay and reclined in the living room with her father. She approached the living room with faltering steps and stilled herself. Her parents were buffers for the storm to be unleashed. It’s best to get this over with once and for all it’s not like she had any feelings for him it was an arranged engagement but she was hoping it would work. ” Well, I wanted to tell you about what happened while you were away, she started.
” Am all ears, he answered.
” I was raped by some unknown men” she continued.
” Are you pregnant, he asked angrily.
” I don’t know, didn’t have a pregnancy test done, she replied.
Mark looked her with anger in his eyes. ” How did it happen, tell me every detail don’t leave anything out”.

She recounted the whole episode to him. He stood up and shouted ” how could you have been so stupid to walk alone at night, it’s your fault you were raped”.
She looked at him and refused to shed a tear. He was blaming her just like she was blaming herself before Roland reassured her that a rape victim is never at fault. It was a psychosomatic attitude only in the mind and body. Just as Carolyn also said. She refused to bear the cost. ” That’s a sexist thing to say” , she shouted back.
Her parents watched the exchange between the two become heated. Her father strove for decorum. ” Will you two settle down” he said quietly.

” Ask your daughter to treat me with some respect, I wouldn’t take her insults”,he said.
” What’s going on”, she looked from Mark to her father.
Her father looked heartbroken and she wondered why. She had said her piece the decision was his to make.
” I don’t think our deal still holds, he said.
” Why is that?” Her mother asked.
” You are giving me a used good” he told her to her face.
Tolani looked on helplessly as the banter continued. So all she was , was a bargaining chip in growing her father’s falling business. Why didn’t he say something to her about his financial situation.
She was angry that her parents didn’t trust her enough with their problems. But bartered her off to the man with the wherewithal to rescue them. She ran away from the living room as hot tears streamed down her face. She packed her bag. Looking at the time it was 4pm. Nightfall was coming. Refusing to be a prisoner to her own emotions, she walked out of the room with her bag. ” You are looking for a repeat performance” Mark called over his shoulder in a mocking tone.
She didn’t bother to give him a reply.
” Let’s explain the situation to you, her father said. Calling out to her.
” She has a right to be angry, her mother said heatedly.
Not thinking it over she walked out of the house in a daze but intact. Funny enough the only person she wanted to talk to now was Roland. She called him and asked if he could come pick her up. She took a taxi to the bus stop and waited for Roland.
Thirty minutes later he was at bus stop. He helped her stow her bag to the back of the car. He rushed to open the door for her before sliding in behind the wheel. Her eyes were puffy and swollen from crying. He pulled out a handkerchief and give it to her. ” What happened, honey? ,He asked concerned.
” It was a disaster , it was all a ruse, she blurted out.
” Slow down and repeat an abridged version of what happened”, he encouraged.
She told him Mark blamed her for the rape, describing her as a damaged good. And how her parents wanted the marriage so he could rescue them them from financial quandary. How they didn’t trust her enough with their problems. Rather they were willing to auction her off to Mark at all cost. It was saddening. His hands tightened on the steering wheel in anger at what she had to endure. He drove through the light traffic and stopped in front a beautiful bungalow. He opened the door and she also opened hers before he got to her. ” What are we doing here? “She asked inquisitively.
” I can’t let you go home, when you are so upset” ,he told her.
” But why” she asked.
” I would be worried sick, if you insist on staying at your place I’d pack a bag, I’m going with you” he offered.
When did he get so possessive and over protective. Has he always been this way. He took her bags from the car and took hold of her hand. It wasn’t repulsive and she didn’t flinch. He was very gentle with her. He opened the door and they both entered the living room. ” The guest room is to your left” he called out. She picked up her bags and disappeared down the way he directed. Settling in for the night, she pondered on the days event. She was shocked at the outcome. It was the least scenario that she imagined. Could she be pregnant she thought. She would ask Roland for help in getting a pregnancy test first thing in the morning.
But now she was tired and she needed sleep. She would need her strength in the morning that she was certain about. As she closed her eyes to sleep she wondered what surprises the next day would bring. As was his wont Roland checked to ensure that the doors and windows were locked. He checked in on Tolani and found her fast asleep. He was thankful for that she needed sleep. Her exhaustion was obvious the shock she underwent was not a piece of cake. He closed the door and went to his bed. Just before dawn screams from Tolani’s room woke him up. She was thrashing restlessly. She was having a nightmare. It was a miracle that it came this close to dawn as she wouldn’t have to relieve the dream so soon.
He touched her with care mindful of her feelings towards men in general. She drew herself into a tight ball. As he reached out to her, she was screaming ” don’t touch me!” Since her ordeal she had not let herself remember. But now she recollected vividly. As she opened her eyes her surroundings were not familiar. ” Where am I? ” She asked with shock in her eyes and voice.
” You are in my house” Roland replied. Hearing his voice she began to calm down when he touched her again she didn’t pull back. He drew her closer she needed human contact more now. He was relieved that she didn’t hit him or try to pull away. ” It’s over sweetheart” he cooed.
” I had a nightmare about the night of the rape”, she said shaking.
” You are alright now” he spoke softly to her.
Bringing her home was a step in the right direction and he didn’t regret it. Tolani was glad to have a shoulder to lean on during this time. Whatever misgivings she had faded as Roland didn’t attempt to take advantage of her. She rested against him drawing strength from him. Slowly, the storm passed and everything returned back to normal. Roland let her go reluctantly. ” Take a bath,we will spend the day inside, I’ll call the hospital and tell them to call me only during an emergency”.
Spending a full day with Roland was going to be fun. She couldn’t wait for the day to begin so she could at least forget all her worries for now. She looked forward to what the day would bring and how she intended to greet it. All was right in her world for now.

chapterChapteR Nine
With the events of the past week behind her. Tolani began to focus on her work. She went back to work and was more detailed and determined. She wasn’t pregnant Roland told her this. It was a necessary step for all rape victims. Speaking of Roland brought a blush to her cheeks. She had moved in with him as he insisted on keeping an eye on her. So he drove her to her place to pack a bag with all the necessary things she would need. They stopped at ‘ Elle’s Cafe’ for a quick snack before driving back to his place. He bought groceries and even cooked for her. She was really getting quite comfortable with him. Though she could walk past men without feeling a need to cringe. She was a lot better with Roland’s touches. They were infrequent but special to her. At times she would wonder what it would be like to love someone like Roland. She was caught up in one of her fantasies when Kemi tapped her. ” We’ve been working hard to complete this project” she said.
” I know, you have all done well am proud” she said with pride.
The project was already completed with little final touches here and there. Her team rounded up the session and she called Roland telling him that she was through for the day. He asked her not to move from the office until he got there. She agreed and was browsing through a magazine at the reception when a horn hooted signally that her ride was here.
” That was fast” she said laughing.
” For this pretty damsel, I live to serve” he courtesied She laughed so hard that tears were rolling down her cheeks. ” I have missed your laugh” he said matter of fact.
She was holding her chest to keep from laughing harder. ” You are a clown” she said jokingly. As they drove off he asked her if she wanted to eat out or endure his cooking. She chose the second option. Wanting to observe him without his being aware of it. He was getting to her. Even with the trampled flower attitude she had about herself, the tell tale signs were there. The wanting to be with him, enjoying his company, driving to and fro from work with him. The routine has been set and she wanted it to be permanent. But the nagging feeling that he was just been kind, kept her from wanting any close relationship with him.
Roland cooked dinner, he stole secret glances at Tolani while she was engrossed in any activity. She made his house lively. He never knew it was so cold until her arrival. He could get used to it. But feared that asking her to marry him would sound like an insult to her. So he was biding his time. Very soon he would convince her that though she was damaged she was cherished. There was nothing he wanted better than to wake up each morning with Tolani under the same roof. She continued her sessions with Carolyn and he made sure he was always available. She said it would be better if she had a male she could be in contact with without fear. Since he was that he volunteered to help her. Carolyn noticed that Roland always looked at Tolani with affection. He was ready to bear her pain if he could. She just hoped that Tolani would snap out of the wall she had built around herself fast enough. She really wanted her to be happy. And Roland was doing a good job in that department.

” You are living with a man” her father accused her.
” What’s it to you” she replied angrily.
” Haven’t you dragged this family’s name into the mud enough already” he replied hotly.
” What does that mean” she shouted into the phone.
Not wanting to continue the conversation she cut the call and turned off the phone.
She walked around the house pacing. The phone call rattled her. How did her father know? Was he having her followed? Well now it’s out in the open and she can rest better. Not wanting to look gloomy before Roland returned. She washed her face and looked her best. As she heard Roland’s car park. She tried not to appear anxious in waiting for him. He walked in with a bouquet of flowers. He gave them to her and planted a kiss on her forehead and stepped back. This was the most intimate he had been with her since her arrival. So he did feel something for her. She was going to work on herself and prayed she would be quick enough so she won’t pursue him.
Roland noticed the change in her. It had been straining on his pride to have her so close and yet so far. He planned on bridging the gulf. He would try to succeed without scaring her. His sanity depended on it. ” How was your day? , he asked.
” My father called” , her voice sounded cool and distant.
” What did he say?”
” He knows am living with you”.
Roland thought it would be nearly impossible for her folks not to find out. He wasn’t exactly secretive about the move. If he knew it saved him the effort of telling him. He was happy with Tolani and he planned to make it permanent very soon with or without the approval of her parents.
He looked at her she smiled shyly she had never been courted. He planned on wooing her until she realized what he was about and consent. He would work on her slowly. Romantic dinners, flowers, chocolate, any thing else that catches her fancy it was hers. All she had to do was ask. He told her not to worry about her father that he would come around. His pride is just hurt.

Chapter Ten
Roland was at the Hospital ” Our Lady of Fatima” it had become like a second home to him. The director Dr. George Bernard was a very disciplined and dedicated man. He had dropped Tolani off at work and was in high spirits when he dropped off to work himself. He was contented with the situation of things for now. She was improving with every session and he was there to cheer her on. But as he drove in through the hospital gates, he felt like he was been followed. Not wanting to alert whoever it was he played it cool. Parked the car and walked into the hospital. Though as he locked the door he noticed a shadow in the corner. Was he been hysterical and delusional or was someone really tailing him there was only one way to find out. He left all worries behind for now going about his normal business not wanting to look out of place. He called Justin his friend and explained the situation to him as soon as he entered the office. As he dropped the call he was relieved that Justin would help him monitor who ever it was and they would be the wiser for it. His day began with a flurry of activities and soon he was immersed in the job that made him happy. He was retired from the Navy and being cautious was serious business. It could spell the difference between life and death. Justin was good at tailing without been spotted he was confident of that fact. He attended to his patients all through and soon forgot the tailing or no tailing problem.

” He just got to the hospital,” the caller said into the phone.
” Do you think he knows he’s been followed?”, Mark asked.
” No sir he doesn’t” he replied.
” Alright keep a close watch on him then, I’ll keep in touch.
He rang off and paused could she have suspected anything he thought. Well that was why they were been tailed. She could never find out that he was behind the rape attack few months ago. He felt justified in doing what he did. She paid for her parents mistakes. He had been trying to weasel out of the engagement but was unable able to. This was the only way he could ensure that he got them off his back. Their business could crumble he cared less. Now that he had gotten rid of Tolani , he could pursue other women and live the dream life he wanted free and unattached. Relationships were draw backs. You have got to explain yourself to someone. Accountability wasn’t his strong suit.

The Awoseyi’s were debating about what next step to take since the falling out with their daughter and Mark’s betrayal. They had grown cold. Bola kept wondering how she agreed to sacrifice her daughter to save their business. She was bitter with herself for listening to her husband who promised that it would all work out. She had been skeptical about this Mark character but her husband said he could be trusted. Now the business is crumbling and their daughter doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. Lost in thought she sat gazing through the window. As Yemi entered he saw his wife was distracted. He called out ” Dear”. No response.
“Bola” he called again touching her shoulders.
Looking up she saw her husband’s face and replied ” What do you want, to remind me that my daughter has thrown herself into another man’s arm so soon after the fiasco with Mark?”
” Am sorry I was angry” he responded.
Yemi looked at his wife, she had become grouchy and irritable ever since that fateful evening. The evening that saw to the sudden but gradual collapse of his business. Mark had turned the tables on him. He literally pulled the rug from under his feet. It was just a business strategy but it failed woefully. Bola had repeatedly asked him to tell Tolani the truth. But he kept reassuring her that he had it all under control. How wrong he was. He shook his head. I have failed as a parent. Using my daughter the way I did. He wondered if Tolani would ever forgive him for betraying her. He was not sure of a way out yet but he would keeping finding more logical solutions rather than the charade he was living in. It was time he admitted his mistakes in business. The land scaping business had not been doing too good for a while. So when Mark approached him with the idea of saving the business, he thought that the way to make him keep his promise was to get him engaged to his daughter. That way if they eventually got married he would have no problem. How horribly his plan backfired. Mark never wanted to save his business, in truth he contributed to its death as he later found out. He was stealing his clients right from under his nose. It was the alteration of that evening that brought everything to the fore. Now he agreed it was petty of him to trade his daughter for miserly favors. He was so wrong, how could he begin to undo the damage he had done. He would start with trying to win his wife back then his daughter. It was one baby step after another. Patience is what is required, and he was ready to learn it to build his family back.

Tolani labored with her team to build a portfolio for a client. They had given them the concept that they wanted and they were working tirelessly to meet the standards of the client. As she listened to Funmi’s ideas about the concept paying rapt attention the opening lines of Grateful blared out on her phone. Reaching for the phone she picked up and said ” Hello” Tolani here how may I help you. A boisterous laugh came to her ears over the phone. She frowned looked at the phone and realized it was Roland not a client as she thought. She smiled to herself.
” Yes” he replied sharply.
” Yes, to what?”, she asked confused.
” That you could help me” he replied.
” Am all ears tell me how I can be of service” she replied in a mock tone.

Roland wanted her to be alert but not alarmed he wanted the tail off him before he picked up Tolani so he found a way of convincing her to stay put and that he would be running late. She was not to worry as they would eat out. Seeing nothing unusual she agreed and told her team that she would be staying a bit longer.
They high fived one another in a celebratory mood and got to work on colors, designs, presentation and the works. She kept her phone handy so she could hear when it rings. She was loving her life and wanted it to be so everyday with Roland there to brighten up the days like he did when she was in the hospital.

Roland left work early so he could get this tailing business off his mind. He didn’t want Tolani in the car for this. It would scare her. And that he didn’t want. She was getting used to his touch not just enduring it he could tell. It was a work in progress. He called Justin and told him, he was leaving work so he could move into position. He said he was ready for action. It felt just like old times. Driving out, he noticed another car pull out as he drove out. It pulled back so as not to appear obvious. It continued to close the gap between them. Now Roland was sure that it was not his imagination and that he was completely sane. Knowing he had to be cautious he allowed himself to be followed. Justin was back up for what he had in mind. Which was to interrogate the fellow and find out why he was tailing him as well as who set him up to it. He took the bait and Roland veered as if to turn into his driveway; he blocked the exit ramp while Justin double parked to cut off the tail. Trapped between the cars the tail knew he was done for and only prayed that he wouldn’t be killed. He was only doing it for the extra money. He really needed it to off set his gambling debts. Stepping out of the car Justin Michael was in full camouflage; he opened his door. He looked at Roland and signalled that it was all clear. He also stepped out anger was visibly written all over his visage. ” Get out” he growled at the man in the KiaKia OptimOptimaa that was his tail.
” Don’t go off half cocked” Justin warned seeing murder in Roland’s eyes.
The man stepped out of the car careful not to tick the men off. They didn’t pull a gun on him but it was obvious that they were working together and the sight of them was terrifying. He looked from one to another and stepped out. Justin walked behind him and they went into Roland’s house for the investigation. Roland realized that he would have to change houses soon if he wanted to keep Tolani safe. He didn’t know what they were after. But having used this house it was likely they would come after him. With that decision made he followed Justin and they entered through the back door. As soon as he entered he ordered the man to sit-down. He turned on the lights and went to start packing. He would leave the interrogation to Justin because he might not be able to hold his temper. He left the room and the shut the door quietly.
” Who are you? Justin asked.
” I am Robert Kevin” he replied.
” Why were you tailing my friend?”
” I was contacted and paid to do so”
” Who sent you?, his voice dripped with venom.
Robert was afraid now. What have I gotten myself into he wondered. Justin quizzed Robert some more for details but he was scared stiff and couldn’t answer.
Trying a different approach, he gave him a glass of water and sat opposite him. Talking to him like a buddy. It worked and soon he was singing like a canary. He recorded all that was said and later Roland and him would sift through it. A door opened and closed somewhere in the house. Roland was packing Tolani’s bags taking only the essentials they could buy the rest of the things they needed. With the bags packed he lugged them to the kitchen and opened the door. Justin looked at him and knew what he was about.
” What are you doing? , he asked curiously.
“I can’t help thinking this is related to Tolani in some way” he answered.
At the name Tolani, Justin noticed a shivering in Robert. He asked him what he knew about her and he said the man who hired him kept repeating the name during conversations to someone over the phone.
They looked at one another so Roland wasn’t paranoid at all. Robert recounted how his boss confided that he had organised for a certain Tolani Awoseyi to be raped so he could teach her father a lesson that he would always get what he wanted. Shocked by this news Roland sat down and asked Robert if he was sure.
This mysterious person had a hand in bringing Tolani pain. The past few weeks with her in close quarters has been the longest of his life. His love for her had doubled. And he was ready to protect her with his life if need be. Justin suggested that Robert should pretend to still be tailing Roland so his boss wouldn’t suspect a thing. He agreed and said he was sorry but would try to help them in any way he could. They let him go and Justin suggested that Roland stay put until they had enough proof. He agreed and carried the bags packed back to unpack them.

It was going to be difficult but he would find out the truth one way or another. He thanked Justin for his help and escorted him to his car, a black Toyota Tundra. Waving off with a promise of keeping in touch he drove off. As Roberts Kia Optima also pulled out of his driveway. He arranged the house and left to pick up Tolani.

chapter Eleven

Dinner was wonderful as Roland took Tolani to a chic restaurantrestraunt. As the meal was over, they drove home. Indeed Roland’s house had become home in the past weeks since she moved in with him. Despite her father’s accusations she never told him that she had never even been to Roland’s room not to talk of sharing his bed. It was clear he wanted her but was willing for her to give the green light. He wouldn’t push it but he sure was making his intentions known subtlely. It was awkward this sexual tension between them. She felt it too. Sometimes, she caught him staring at her like she was an untarnished rose. That look that sent sweet shivers down her spine. He would always avert his eyes once she saw him. Usually, he was smiling, but he let her know from his body language that he loved what he saw and wasn’t complaining. So why should she. They rode home silently each one to their thoughts. As his driveway became visible Tolani looked at the welcoming sight. She had become so accustomed to the scenery it was always breath taking no matter how many times she viewed it. She stepped out of the car and Roland was there beside her taking her arm as he ushered into the house. His mind had been preoccupied all through the drive. Thoughts of how to keep her safe and sound was uppermost in his mind. In as much he would love to also show her his heart so she could see the love radiating in it . His heart beat always and only for her. She may not see it but he was ready to make her feel it too; what he was feeling was too wonderful to be felt alone. He wished he could just show her that she was loved. He opened the door and as he entered with Tolani in his arms he had a strong urge to really kiss her. Not a chaste kiss but a deep and passionate kiss. Whatever the outcome he would apologize. But he would have satisfied his heart. Just one taste of her in his veins was more than enough. So throwing caution to the wind, he turned her in his arms as kissed her as he had been yearning to do for a while now. Taken aback completely by the force of the kiss, she stood rigid initially, but he was not backing down and wanted full participation. He deepened the kiss giving her no room to run away. He pulled her close and crushed her against his chest. He was ready to coax her as much as possible even if it took him all night. She was worth it and he could no longer handle having her near and not been able to touch her at will and her doing the same to him. Tolani knew this day would come. Even from the hospital she had been falling deep but her engagement to Mark was the only deterrent. Now that it was out of the way why should she deny herself. Damning the consequences she returned the kiss just as he was about to pull away. The sudden movement of her hands around his waist was jolting. Seeing her response, he felt confident that it was not a one way street. His senses were heightened and tuned to her. Aside from the hands at her waist he didn’t touch her further, not out of fear but he wouldn’t be able to stop himself at just touching when he wanted all of her. It was like electric coursing through his veins. Encouraged, she shyly participated and he was a willing teacher showing her the ropes. He could swallow her whole just in this kiss. As she seemed to be enjoying their relative closeness as much as he did, he decided to break the kiss before things got really raunchy. Pulling away , put still holding her waist he looked at her. Her eyes were closed and her cheeks were flushed. Slowly her eyes fluttered open. She realized he had broken the kiss but held her close. That was comforting. Finding his voice he said , ” Thanks”.
Confused by his response she asked ” For what?”
” For not pulling away and keeping me sane” he smiled.
She wondered what he meant but she wouldn’t mind making a habit of kissing him as it completely muddled up her brain. Time had stood still during those few moments. He releasedalesed her and let her go watching her with tenderness. It was obvious he didn’t find it easy to relinquish the cosiness. There were sure to be a lot of spontaneous kisses from now on that he was certain about. Walking away slowly and steadily looking back he bade her good night.
Tolani didn’t sleep well the kiss with Roland kept her awake. She was feeling like she was in cloud nine. It was not an emotion that came readily to her. Tossing around in bed she imagined what would have happened if he hadn’t pulled away. To think that she could respond to him without fear was a true coup. She was a willing participant it only took a little persuasion for her to break free even for a bit. It was a pleasure to know that Carolyn’s sessions were eventually paying off big time. She prayed it would not be the last of it. Even if it meant initiating the kiss she would without hesitation. She was finally able to relieve the kiss and the sensation it stirred in her. She thought it was dead but she was glad that it wasn’t. She fell asleep with those thoughts.

Roland was not finding it easy to sleep. He was hyped from the sizzling hot ravenous kiss he shared with Tolani earlier in the evening. He was doing his best not to go to her. Not to have sex but just to cuddle up with her. Feeling her against him was a hellish pleasure. He hadn’t known it would be like this between them. It was like molten lava. It felt like a living thing. It was tempting and he sure was hoping he would be able to keep his hands to himself from now on. He was no saint but he sure would assuageassurge this thing between them once in a while not necessarily the kind they shared. But he was willing to take the risk. It was a no holds barred situation. Feeling restless he remained awake reminiscing and plotting ways to really win her heart and her trust before tackling winning her body. All in good time. He was willing to convince her with subsequent kisses that he wanted her not just for her body but rather for her heart and soul. He really was thinking about marrying her. It would make him the happiest man. He would try not to smother her with too much outward declaration but he would make her buy into the idea if it’s the last thing he did. Waiting for the dawn his hands tingled in anticipation of touching her again. He felt no shame about the way he cared about her. She was a ray of sunshine that livened up his day. He was not letting her go,watching the sun rise he smiled a secret smile to himself.

Yemi Awoseyi was worried about his daughter living with a man. He knew it was modern times and the younger generation did things their way. What if he was taking advantage of her. True he was no saint he knew that Mark Ogaga was not the ideal man for his daughter. But selfishness and greediness coupled with desperation fueled his choices. He saw clearly now that he made a horrible mistake. How to right it now was the problem. He didn’t know what to do. He was in a dilemma. His wife was hounding him to make amends with their daughter. But she wasn’t willing to forgive him just yet. Mark kept threatening him that if he didn’t sell his shares of his land scaping business to him Tolani would suffer for it. He was too obsessed with success to heed the warning. It wasn’t long after that all his works were always sabotaged over night. He was losing his clients and business as well. What if he was behind his daughter’s rape. He knew her schedule well enough. Why was he thinking such thoughts. But Mark was ruthless and aggressive when he wanted something. The truth was that he with his eyes wide open plunged his daughter into the lion’s den and was hoping she comes out un scarred. But he was wrong he had lost more than he could imagine. His business, his wife and his only daughter. He was sure now that Mark was behind Tolani’s rape. Something he said a subtle hint. He would try to salvage the situation by making sure Mark pays for his crimes. He just hoped his daughter was in good hands. He would try to be more action and less talk. He wanted results and he intended to get them using every means available whether legal or unorthodox at his disposal.

Chapter twelve
” How is the surveillance going?” Mark asked Robert. He was becoming antsy and the feeling of doom seemed to be over him these days like the end was drawing near. He shook himself and reassured himself that he could salvagesalvaje ththee situation.
” All is going according to plan boss”.
” Good we can’t afford to screw up, understand?”
” Yes boss”
The ruin of Tolani was in the works he never figured that the game was over and the tables would soon turn against him. He never suspected that Robert had been compromised. Robert was playing his part better than he himself anticipated. He was positive that his alliance with his boss would be short lived and he could go back to his life and would never go back into gambling again. He was truly lucky to be alive.

Roland looked at Tolani as she waltzed out the door and kept staring wondering how he got do lucky in love. She was truly a blessing to his life. He was planning on how to make her a permanent part of his life and home. He was always happy to have someone to go home to. He no longer had to immerse himself in work without having a social life. She had made his house into a home that was lived in not just somewhere he slept. He would damn all and ask her to marry him. He would then go about asking her parents. Even if he didn’t get their blessings he would still go ahead and her have for his wife. He moved in and opened the door to car for her. Today was special and he was elated.
” Why are you smiling, what are you up to?” She asked curiously.
” It’s a secret”
Tolani was reeling in amusement. ” Surprise!” She screamed. ” I love surprises”
” Good then let’s hop to it then” he chuckled.
He drove through the streets of a very nice estate. Curiosity had the best of her and she looked in awe at her environment. He was taking her to visit his parents and he finally decided to tell her about his military service. He wouldn’t tell her about the tailing yet until he had more information. But just in case his parents house was in the middle of nowhere. Untraceable with heavy security. His father a retired army saw to it. They drove up to a big gated house and he spoke into the intercom at the gate announcing his presence. He heard the gates open and drove up to the house. He opened the door and helped Tolani out. He took her hand in his as they went in. ” Digwo ma” Roland greeted his mother as she came out to greet them.
” You didn’t say you were bringing company?”
” I know it was meant to be a surprise to both of you”.
His mother took in the atmosphere and decided to let it go for now. Roland was strange in some ways and she had come to recognize his need to be trusted.
Leading the way Ejiri Emuh entered the house accompanied by her son and their guest. ” Well who was it?” Ovie Emuh asked. His mother replied that it was Roland and he brought a guest. His father was pleased to have company outside his wife. He ushered them in and welcomed them in. Roland greeted his father as did Tolani genuflecting. His father was pleased and said so. His mother watched quietly as everything happened. Maybe finally Roland has seen a girl to settle down with. She only hoped for the best.
His father took them all into a spacious living room with pictures hanging on the walls. Tolani looked around appreciating all she passed by. Roland still clasped her hand loosely in his not letting go. She felt embarrassed but was strengthened by his strength. ” To what do we owe the honor of your visit son?” ” Well, I came to introduce my wife” he replied as he looked at Tolani with love. His parents looked at him inquisitively and asked if he was sure and if he had asked Tolani. He answered that he wanted them to be the first to know and Tolani wouldn’t be able resist his charm and would definitely say yes. Tolani looked on in wonder along side his parents. She was speechless and knew he was sure of himself and she couldn’t say no even if she tried. It was like there was an invisible rope leashing her to Roland and she couldn’t seem to break free. He was becoming the highlight of her day. A sight she could wake up to all the days of her life. Coming prepared Roland pulled a box out of his pocket and opened it. A diamond ring sparkled from the opened box. Tolani was mesmerized. She felt light as a feather. How did he manage the ring? He asked her with his parents as audience. “Tolani will you do me the honor of being my wife?” He asked shyly and waited anxiously for her reply. His parents looked on in awe but smiled. Tolani short for words just nodded in assent. He was ecstatic and planted a chaste kiss on her head. It was a promise to the sizzling hot kiss he had in mind and would wait for. He placed the ring on the third finger of her left hand and kissed it. His parents congratulated them. His mother was truly happy that her son was finally going to settle down. She had been badgering him to no avail. Tolani seemed to make him happy and that was what was most important. His parents insisted that they stay for dinner and stay over for the night. Roland asked Tolani if she was okay with the arrangement and she said yes but she had no clothes to sleep in. Roland agreed to give her one of his old t-shirts to sleep in if she didn’t mind.”No hanky panky panunderr my roof, we yon?” His mother said cautiously. Roland answered ” Ayo” , with a mischievous smile. “Well then let’s eat now that your big surprise is over.” They chatted during the meal and Tolani seemed to enjoy the meaningless banter and the camaraderie. The aura was infectious just like his parents. She was going to be Roland’s wife she couldn’t seem to wrap her head around this fact. She was excited about the new development and hoped to inform her parents about the news as soon as possible. She had forgotten momentarily about any reason she had against marrying him which always clouded her mind. Those thoughts were gone. She deserved to be happy. Happiness had found her at last. It was like an exlirlir. She was happy and full of joy. His parents allotted rooms to them. Tolani’s room wasn’t far from Roland’s. It had an adjoining door which Roland intended to use. Even if he couldn’t make love to her. He could at least hold her for comfort if nothing more. With that in mind they both said good night to his parents. His father gave him a conspiratorial wink as he went down the corridor. It was going to be a long and temptinguous nightt. Tolani found it difficult to sleep from all the excitement and anticipation that was eating her up. She couldn’t wait to begin her new life. It was going to be awesome. Roland opened the adjoining door and slipped into bed with her later in the night. She snuggled up to him and he took full advantage by pulling her close and drawing from her warmth.

Chapter Thirteen
It was a warm evening with the breeze blowing about. The fresh air was a pleasure away from the claustrophobic room. It was hellish. The room was too cramped. Robert was strolling down the streets taking in the sights and sounds. He had a meeting with Justin since Roland was out of town. He was been extremely careful about his double dealing. He was not going to go down with Mark. He would rather have it with Roland and his buddy watching his back. He had really come to trust these two men. He kept feeding Mark half truths about Roland’s whereabouts. The truth was he really didn’t know. Roland was better at dodging and covering his tracks than he had anticipated. He was glad of that fact. It was one less burden off his chest. Justin was keeping in touch with him just to learn about Mark. He and Roland were gathering evidence to support their theory of Mark’s involvement in Roland’s girlfriend’s rape. The more he found out he relayed to Justin. It was just once in a while they met. He had learnt how to watch out for being tailed. He had noticed a black sedan in his inner mirror and managed to shake it off before arriving at the rendezvous point. As he saw headlights approaching he sat up and waited for Justin’s car to drive in. He got out and Justin did the same. ” Hey” , Justin called out in greeting. ” Hello” , Robert replied.
” Got anything good for me?”
” Yeah, sure”.
Robert recounted the previous discussion he had with his boss and how he admitted to been the brain behind Tolani’s rape. He said he had recorded the conversation and made a tape. He gave Justin a copy for security in case he doesn’t make out of this alive. Justin reassured him that he would come out unscathed. The exchange was brief and they soon parted ways with a promise to keep in touch.

” I lost him boss” he said into the phone as he drove away not seeing Robert’s Kia Optima. He was surprised at how well he was able to maneuver. Had he seen him? How did he manage it in the heavy traffic? He must be better than the boss envisaged. He must be a pro no doubt. That’s the only thing that comes to mind. Yes he was slick and intelligent. One needed both to be on top of the food chain in this business. Working the dark side affects your psyche. Makes you think one step ahead of the competition. He was going to be derided and there was nothing he could do about it. He had to return to base.
” Must I do everything myself?” Mark yelled. He was furious and angry. Robert had been behaving funny these past couple of days. He was reporting about Roland but he felt iffy that something was wrong. So he had someone tail him as he went home today. But the moron lost him. How? It wasn’t like Robert was one of his best men. No. He was a weak link he could easily get rid of. Maybe he should just cut him loose. It was better than walking on eggshells. He had to do it fast. Time was running out and he was sure that his game would soon be over. But he wasn’t going down without a fight.

” Hello, are you awake” Justin’s voice floated to him over the phone.
” I am now” Roland replied.
” Well I have got news you would like”
“Hold on give me a minute”.
Roland snuck out of bed and headed to his own room to answer the call. He didn’t want Tolani overhearing their conversation. ” Alright, what have you got?” Justin walked him through the conversation with Robert. He suggested that they pull Robert out as he was in danger. Justin agreed with him and they decided to pull him out of Mark’s watch sooner rather than later. His life was worth more than any information. The ones he had gotten them were substantial proof. He gave reassurances on keeping him posted. Roland rang off and returned to Tolani’s room. She was still fast asleep. He snuck back into bed and closed door against the outside world for the time being. It was a magical moment. Unforgettable. He just hoped he could wrap things up soon so he and Tolani could live a normal life.

Tolani slowly woke up and took in her surroundings. The room was strange to her. As she turned she came in contact with a hard solid body beside her. She saw Roland and wondered how he got into her room. Then she recollected that they were at his parents house and he had proposed to her. The ring glittered in the in coming sunshine. ” Let’s sleep in” came Roland’s voice beside her. She turned towards him. ” What are you doing in my bed?” He looked at her and smiled ” sleeping what does it look like.” Tolani laughed out loud at his gimmicks. ” What would your mother say if she found you here, remember she warned you about this.” He scratched his head as if thinking and replied ” well at least I still have my clothes on so no harm done.” ” Silly goose” Tolani replied to his statement. As she attempted to sit on the edge of the bed he drew her back into bed and threw the covers over them.
” It’s Saturday and I think we should sleep in a while” was his response to the quizzical glance she gave him. Roland rolled his eyes at her and pinned her to his side. She made a token attempt at escaping but later stayed put in his arms. ” I am not letting you go ever” he whispered into her ears. Tolani wriggled around and she discovered that he was shirtless. She had not really looked at him since she woke up in his arms. He held her at arms length with a hint of mischief in his voice he said ” keep this up and I won’t be responsible for my actions. ” She stopped moving as he whispered those words into her ears. His voice was husky. She felt powerful and was smiling to herself about the kind of allure she held over him. His breathing was uneven and his voice raspy. Roland was hanging on by a very thin rope and he hoped it wouldn’t snap anytime soon. He was losing his cool and control around her. It was like she held the key to his sanity. She had been unaware of the power she wielded over him it was a struggle not to flip her over and make love to her like he really wanted to. He looked at her with lust and desire. It was obvious what thoughts were running through his mind. He made no attempt to hide it from her it was pointless. He would have her soon that he promised himself. It would be after he married her. But for now he assuaged his desire with a deep and passionate kiss. The kiss took her by surprise. He was not going to let her wiggle away since this was her doing. He was fine technically until she started wriggling. Well, since he was aroused he had to find a way to quench his thirst for her. The kiss felt like fireworks exploding in the night sky. He kissed her and felt himself drown in her fragrance. As he pulled back slowly for air he looked at her and her clothes were askew. He smiled at his handiwork. Kissing her brainless. He smiled more because she was speechless. At least for now it was mission accomplished. He felt no guilt at all as she opened her eyes and looked at him as only one lost in passion would. This would content him no doubt.

Chapter Fourteen
” Am getting married” Tolani squealed with excitement into the phone. Her mum was smiling at the news. Her daughter was getting married not out of pity but love. She was excited about this development but decided to keep the news under wraps for the time being. ” That’s wonderful news.” Her mother was besides herself with joy. ” Who is he? Anyone we know?” ” Yes”, she replied almost breathless from the thrill of sharing the news. No black clouds in her sky . It was all sunny and warm and beautiful. She had been itching to share her big news with someone who better than her mother whom she knew was going to support her. She could always count on her. She would find a way of breaking the good news to her father in good time.
” Hope your mind is at ease now” , Roland asked.
” Yea, sure now we are even kind of. “
Roland laughed at the way she said it. He was wondering how he was able to sweep her off her feet. She made it easy to love her. That’s for sure. He would dedicate the rest of his life to putting a smile on her face. Mark’s involvement in her predicament sickened him. How could a person be so monstrous and unfeeling. Deriving joy from someone
else’s pain. That’s low very low. He tried his best to distance himself from the unhappy feelings around her. He just wanted to strangle Mark that he was sure of. He was to meet with Justin and was looking for a good way to leave Tolani behind for a few minutes at his parents and then come back. So he told her ” Am going for a jog, care to join me?”
Tolani smiled and answered ” I’m skinny enough thanks, you go I’ll be fine.” He was expecting her to sulk as they have been quite inseparable these past weeks. He give her a kiss on the head and walked back to his room to get dressed. As he shut the door behind him Tolani was relieved to be rid of him even if it was for a short while. She wanted some time alone to herself. She was glad for the solitude and silence. Roland was a force of nature. He bustled about easily and quickly in a flash. Dressed in all black with a base ball cap on his head he walked back in gave Tolani a quick kiss and was out the door. She breathed a sigh of relief. He was policing her these past weeks. He was hiding something. She was sure but she didn’t want to insist too much as she thought back to the events of the past. She smiled at herself and how far she had come. It wasn’t an easy journey. But with Roland it was made less complicated and thrilling in a way. She looked at the ring on her finger a symbol of his love for her and was overwhelmed. She has finally been able to put the past to rest. She was opening a new chapter in her life. One she was sure she would enjoy and not endure like she had always thought before. Rising from bed she went to the bathroom brushed her teeth and had a shower. It relaxed her and she walked out of the room to the living room. She came face to face with his mother. She greeted her and asked if she slept well. ” Yes dear thanks for asking,looks like we have the house to ourselves”.
It came as a surprise that his father was out too or was it planned so his mother would have the opportunity of speaking to her alone. Well whatever the case she was well capable and had no shame for what she felt for her son. She would explain and argue her point convincingly laying bear heart. She had everything to lose. His mother invited her to sit with her. ” Tell me how did you meet my son?”
” He was my doctor” she said simply.
Roland’s mother looked at the young woman she wore her heart on her sleeve. And she would be blind if she’d failed to notice the way her son looked at her. Well she was happy that Roland at least has found someone who complimented him ; he was an extrovert while the young lady was his complete opposite. But they had and shared something special that she couldn’t deny. There was a bond between them. She was going to encourage them to keep the flame of love ablaze at all times. ” I’ll tell you about Roland’s life as a child.” ” Yes , please do , I was wondering how you coped with him.”
His mother only smiled and began her tale of Roland’s exploits and gallantry. It was a long tale indeed.

” Hey, what’s up?” Roland greeted Justin.
” A lot is up, bro” he replied.
Thinking what the matter could be he listened to Justin recount all that Robert told him including the tape. Roland was happy that at last all their hard work was paying off. He reminded Roland that they had to pull Robert out as his life could be in danger. He was worth more to them alive than dead. Roland agreed and he called Robert giving him strict orders not to return to Mark’s but gave him directions to a safe house he owned. He needed to lay low as all the drama unfolded so he doesn’t get caught in the middle. Robert saw the wisdom in his words and agreed to the plan. With all set Justin and Roland said their goodbyes. They agreed to keep in touch. Roland went back home and walked in on his mother and Tolani having a heart to heart. What could they be talking about he wondered. Engrossed in their conversation they didn’t hear Roland come in. Tolani was laughing so hard at something his mother said that he was curious to know what it was. He walked in and asked ” what are you guys talking about?” Startled by the interruption, his mother was quick to recover and answered ” it’s girls talk, go away you really don’t want to know.” His mother was a fine story teller he wondered why they wanted him out of the picture. He sat next to Tolani and asked ” You’d tell me about it, won’t you?” , He smiled. Tolani laughed a hearty laugh and replied ” No, you won’t get a peep out of me”.
” Are you two planning a coup?”
” Don’t talk nonsense son. ‘ Coup?’ “
Tolani just stared blankly and held herself from laughing more. As Roland feigned being hurt he said ” You are both conspiring against me, I know”. “You are been silly so please quit it. ” You would tell me sweetheart, won’t you? He nodded encouragingly to Tolani. ” I won’t betray your mother’s confidence”, she replied. ” That’s not fair!” He said and left the room.
” You were right he really is impatient and inquisitive”.
” Told you so”.

What could those two be planning. His mother has robed Tolani in. Hmmmm……. I guess I was the topic of discussion that’s why they shooed me out. Mum is probably telling her all about how wild I was. Well, what’s to hide anyway. If she knows she knows. He waited patiently for Tolani to return to the room. He was going to have her to himself all day. Just watching her talk, listening to the sound of her voice….. He was shivering with excitement. As the door opened he leaped to his feet and caught her in his arms. Whirling her round and round. ” Well it’s a good thing you are back.” Tolani was startled and surprised by his actions. ” If you think I would reveal anything about what your mum told me, you are wrong.” ” Darling don’t worry I have other better things in mind.” What’s he up to this time she thought. He seems to be in a jolly good mood. What could be the cause. He sure wouldn’t spill the beans to her, that she was sure of. He closed and locked the door. For now he was going to immerse himself in seduction. He was going to make her enjoy his company. He held her close and did a slow dance towards the bed. Tolani was afraid that he was going to try to get her to sleep with him. As if reading her mind he smiled ” I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to.” How could he have been right on point. Not waiting for an answer he locked his lips against hers and gave her a passionate kiss. It was totally different from the others. It awakened something in her. It was hard to resist this much charm. Roland had always been a gentleman. He took the kiss to a different level. He entangled his tongue around hers. Drawing the moment. Tormenting them both. His hands roamed her body and rested on her back. He couldn’t be still. He was going mad with the need for her. He could wait. But for now he was going to tease her and learn the secrets of her body. He was going to make it worth while. After all she had agreed to marry him. He needn’t sleep with her. That can happen when they are married. But he would touch and explore to his heart’s content. He would have her touching him. She was still shy even seeing him shirtless was a bit awkward. That would have to change. Now was the moment. He was going to make her moan with pleasure. Even if he got non back. Her satisfaction was his goal nothing more. This was a great way to relieve the stress of the past days for them both. And he wasn’t going to pass it up. He kissed and touched. He was aching for her. Just having her close drove him wild. Maybe it was just him, but she wasn’t pulling away thank God. At least he didn’t scare her with his wild passion.

Chapter Fifteen
It has been weeks since that magical time at his parents place. He wished he could go back in time. Rather he had to go back to work and he had a lot to catch up on. He was getting closer to Tolani everyday. Since that night he let loose his passion. He had stolen quite a number of kisses from her. No complains and each kiss was sweeter than the last one. He was always reminiscing about her. She was like a good luck charm. The hospital was no longer a hide out but going home each night to Tolani made him work fast and he was always counting down to when he went home to her. He enjoyed her company as well as holding her. It gave him peace of mind. He now had a reason to believe that happiness was attainable. He had not told her parents. She was pressuring him to not to do so. The suspense was killing him. He wanted to make her his wife and have her share his bed as soon as possible.
His colleagues saw a marked difference in him. It was one they hoped would last. No longer was he a workaholic, who lived only for work. He was thinking of going on leave. He had always skipped it. But now he had a good reason to go on leave. He could never get tired of being with her. She was like oxygen. He smiled more often now and he looked into the mirror the wrinkles were fading as he was constantly smiling now.

Tolani was day dreaming more often these days. Since the return from his parents house things have become more risqué between them. Roland couldn’t seem to keep his hands to himself lately. He was always touching every chance he got. It was a novel experience. This feeling of being wanted unconditionally. It made her soar. Her co-workers were seeing a different version of her. A loveable, charming and warm personal. She was on top of the world. She was happy and smiled often. Roland often surprised her by giving her flowers, chocolates, romantic dinners. She living a fairy tale. She wanted it to last forever. Maybe she should let him talk to her parents. He was a very convincing person. She would let him know her decision tonight. She spent her times judiciously now she had a lot to be grateful for. She wouldn’t push things it was going to be one step at a time. She loved him. Now that she was certain of without a doubt. She enjoyed all the time spent with him. His company was interesting and fun. Just the right person to spice up her dull personae. Looking at the time he would soon come pick her up. It has become a routine. If she was going to run late she informed him and he adjusted his time.
The doors to her office opened and Femi informed her that Roland was around. She picked up her bag, turned off the lights and hurried out the door.
” Wow, that was fast” he said smiling.
” Really?”
” Yes, no last minute updates today?”
” No, I didn’t want to keep you waiting was all”. She answered in a mocking tone. He laughed at her banter. ” You can’t annoy me no matter how hard you try” .
” Are you sure?”
Roland soon rode off to the house and was surprised to see Justin’s car parked and idling while he stood beside it. He parked his car settled Tolani in and asked her to please remain indoors. She had never seen him this worried, so she decided to heed his words. She changed out of her work clothes and soon got dinner started.

” What has happened? ” He asked curiously looking around for any signs of trouble. It doesn’t hurt to be alert. Tolani’s life was in danger and he would do all he could to ease her curiosity. He didn’t want her unnecessarily worked up over nothing.
” Well , it looks like Mark has been busy, Robert is settled in and he says he’s positive he had another tail on you”
” Are you sure?” He looked around once again.
” It wouldn’t hurt to be careful and alert”
” Alright, let’s make him believe he is winning”.
Justin agreed and told him that his wife would love to have him and Tolani over for lunch on a Sunday. He said he would give him details of the meeting. ” Laura is anxious to meet the woman who captured your heart of stone.” He said laughing at his friend.
” Alright,I would run it by Tolani, and then give you a feed back. “
” Will do see you soon” . He got into his car and drove away crunching gravel.
Roland walked in and went to the kitchen. Tolani was almost done with dinner. ” How can I help?” He said as he stepped into the kitchen not wanting to startle her.

Chapter Sixteen
” Must I do everything myself” Mark yelled out loud.
” No boss” he answered solemnly.
Mark was furious with all his minions they were incompetent as long as he was concerned. Simple jobs he gave them and they flopped . They were stretching his patience thin. Robert had vanished into thin air despite his best efforts to locate him. He had been compromised he was sure of that. The only reward he deserved was death. But how could he mete out just deserts unless he finds him first. This is becoming a nightmare.
Tolani was been protected by that doctor. The close marking was going to make it difficult to get to her. Now he doesn’t even know where the doctor lives as he couldn’t get the information from Robert. Damn what to do? What to do? He would have to be extra cautious and careful. Time was of the essence and he sure was running out of time.

Bola Awoseyi was in a gay mood. No amount of taunting from her husband was able to dampen her happiness. Her daughter was finally getting married. What she thought would be impossible given the situation of things. It was a miracle for her to find someone despite knowing she had been raped. She was afraid that it would be a put off but now she was at ease. She would keep the news to herself a little while longer. After all her father was pessimistic about the whole thing. She was optimistic and would remain so. What was wrong with her, her husband was incensed. Why the happiness? Who was it that called her the other day? She has been happy since that call. And even when he tried to tease and taunt her to get her to talk she just kept quiet. This is strange. What could be going on in her head. He hated be kept in the dark. He was not going to get a peep out of her that’s for sure. No matter how hard he tried she just wouldn’t budge. What should he do? Threaten her? That wouldn’t work. He wasn’t a patient man. But it looks like it was the only thing to do now. Be patient.

” Stop” Tolani was giggling as Roland tickled her. ” Hey it’s not my fault you are sensitive” he accused jokingly. He chased her around the house. It was like their own personal version of hide and seek. Only they were much too old for such weren’t they? He could never be bored with Tolani. She was like a ray of sunshine. She was a pleasure to be around. He also enjoyed teasing her. As she easily blushed these days. Her cheeks would redden when he began his teasings. She didn’t know how to hide it from him. It’s like he was at tuned to every bit of her. From the sound of her voice, the patter of her feet, her sweet perfume…… The list was endless. He just knew when she was around. It made him giddy like he was drunk. She gave his life colors, bold colors. Wow! It was like he was experiencing life for the first time. Tolani was reeling with laughter at Roland’s playfulness. She had never seen this side of him. The playful and easy going side was hidden and it had been unleashed. She was likewise enjoying his company more than she thought she would. He was always looking for ways to make her happy. It was like he was her personal clown. Only there for her amusement. She had laughed and smiled more since he came into her life. She smiled and was lost in the middle of the play. ” A penny for your thoughts” he said. She jolted herself back to his living room. They were chasing each other like little children. She was excited to feel this way. She had less of the nightmares but it was sometimes there. She would have to deal with it. She was positive that she would come out on top no doubt. She would bask in the moment. It was golden. Loving someone wasn’t a burden. It was a gift. A gift that one unwraps slowly and savors every inch of it. Soon she would be ‘ Mrs. Roland Emuh’ she just couldn’t wait. The excitement was too much. It was making her feel dizzy and elated. She would be his forever soon if she had something to say about it.

Chapter Seventeen
The alley was dark. Two men in mask were chasing her. She ran. And stumbled. She kept looking back to measure how close they were. She ran like she had never run before. Only stopped to catch her breath. Why were they chasing her? What does she have that they wanted. As they drew closer she screamed No!
She woke up from her terrible dream soaked in sweat. Roland was at her door and he asked why she screamed like that. “It was a dream”,was her reply. “It’s been a while since you had one”, he said soothing her. It’s okay you are alright I won’t let anyone harm you, he reassured her. Tolani looked around the room and turned to Roland saying ” I don’t want to sleep alone anymore” . Roland looked at her puzzled. ” What do you mean, Princess”. ” Well, I would like to sleep in your bed for the time been if you don’t mind”.
Mind? He was elated. Thanks to the nightmare he would at least have close by. He was more than comfortable with the arrangement. ” Sure I don’t, I have an extra mattress; you sleep in my bed I would sleep on the floor”. Tolani looked at him like he had suddenly grown horns. ” You have been a complete gentleman, we can share your bed , you wouldn’t force me into anything, we have been living under the same room all this while and you never took advantage of me”. He smiled. He was no saint but since she had no qualms sharing his bed, who was he to complain. ” Alright, thanks for trusting me enough to respect your decision”. ” I only remembered that we slept together in your parents house, and no harm came to me” . She was something. Trusting him without reserve. He wasn’t going to let lust rule him. He would keep his libido in check. Hard as it may seem. He walked with her to his room. The bed was king size. Big enough to contain both of them without any hassle. He turned the lights on and ushered her in. She climbed into bed and he turned off the lights and joined her. He held her close. She rested her head on his shoulders and threw her right arm over his waist. Soon her breathing was even. She had fallen asleep. That was fast. He thought to himself. He could hardly sleep when there was a wall between them. Now that they were sharing closed quarters he would have to deal with it. Thank God she fell asleep soon . He was thinking of the best ways to protect her without alarming her about Mark’s plan to destroy her. Not while he was alive. He would ensure her safety with minimal risk involved. He was going to call her father and tell him that he planned to marry his daughter. His decision didn’t matter. As his wife he had a better chance of protecting her. He just had to wed her first and every other thing would fall into place. It would be a low-key wedding. He didn’t want to call unnecessary attention to her. As Mrs Emuh he could reveal the severity of the situation. Mark would realize that he had a formidable opponent in him. He would give him a run for his money no doubt. He would regret the day he laid eyes on Tolani. If he told her she was in danger she would panic. He didn’t want that to happen. She would be in the dark but he would be her light. He was going to lighten up her life and keep her safe. She was his life. His reason for living. His sunshine in the rain.

Mark was in for a dose of his own medicine. Just he wait and see. He messed with the wrong person. She slept soundly and he watched over like a guardian angel.

Where could they be hiding out Tolani and that wretched doctor. They seemed to have disappeared from the surface of the earth. But to where? Where could they be hiding? So many questions. No answers. I have to stay on top of this game. It’s a battle till the death. Mark was pacing agitatedly. He was thinking of a plan. He had to teach them that no one messes with him and lives to tell the tale. The dead don’t tell tales. He would track them down once they came out of hiding. They can’t hide forever, could they? He was beating himself up over nothing. Relax all in due time.

” What do you mean Mark wants to kidnap Tolani, it’s absurd”.
” I know but Robert is positive about what his Intel told him. It would be wise to see how true it is, better safe than sorry bro”.
Justin was been practical Roland knew this. He needed to keep Tolani out of harm’s way. He had to come up with a plan that would draw Mark out. He answered Justin saying ” we would give him what he wants”.
” Are you mad?”
Justin told him it was suicidal to do such a thing. Roland said they would think of a way. Robert would be contacted soon for update on the matter. Then they would know how to proceed. Roland already had a plan its execution will be risky but it was one he was willing to take. He wanted this nightmare to be over soon. He told Justin that he would send Tolani to his parents place for a while. He would give them an excuse they would buy. Then he would find someone who would dress like Tolani so Mark could see that they were out of hiding. It was tricky but he bet he could pull it off. Justin shook his head and said ” you are one smart cookie”. The bait has been set it remains for Mark to fall. All arrangements needed to be put in motion fast. ” The earlier we get this over with the better” Roland said.

Chapter Eighteen
” Hello, Good morning sir” Roland spoke into the phone.
” Who am I speaking with?” Yemi asked.
” Well I would introduce myself.” The voice said. Roland was going to talk Tolani’s father into agreeing for him to marry his daughter. He had no chance. He would drive home his point succinctly. ” Please do am very curious”.
” Alright, my name is Roland and I am your daughter’s finance”.
” Look here young man, I didn’t give my consent” her father replied hotly.
” I am not calling to ask for your permission, I already knew what it would be, so consider it a fair warning” .
” Where is my daughter?” He asked.
” I am sorry but I can’t disclose that information to you, it’s for safety reasons. The less you know the better”.
All this was strange. His daughter getting married. When? How? The whole thing was confusing. He wanted to ask questions but the person on the line was being short with him. ” Please explain, is she alright?”
” Like I said she’s fine. And don’t call me. I just thought I should let you know since you are her father. Will keep in touch” .
The line went dead before he could ask further questions. Was his wife aware of this development. What should he do?

Every thing was set. The decoy had been found. She looked like she was Tolani’s twin. She knew what was expected of her and could defend herself if push comes to shove. That much he was thankful for. He had called Tolani’s office telling them she would be away for a few days as she was planning her wedding. He took her to his parents and explained that he had a back log of work to catch up on which needs his full attention. He told his father the truth so he could be prepared for any eventuality but hoped it won’t come to that. They were all to stay out of sight. This mission was a daring one. He couldn’t afford to lose. His happiness was dependent on this. Everyone was in position. “The show has started. Let’s hope Mark takes the bait.”

” Boss!” One of his minions shouted.
” Why are you shouting” Mark yelled.
” The guy you asked us to look out for has resurfaced”
” Are you sure of what you are saying?”
The excitement was palpable. He was ecstatic and overjoyed. Finally, he could get rid of Tolani and the doctor. Then he would rest easy. He would travel out of the country once this mission was done. He had his men watching Roland and Tolani’s offices . Their hunch finally paid off. He was beginning to get worried. Now he could be sure to get rid of them easily. It would be easy as ABC. “Show time, boys”. All his men were at the ready waiting for his say so. He had to succeed. He planned to waylay Tolani and her doctor boyfriend. He would kill them both. He would take no prisoners. It was all or nothing. This was war. No retreat no surrender. ” Okay men let’s get ready”.
Mark and his minions set up a road block around where Tolani and Roland would pass. His men will stop them and at gunpoint kidnap them both if everything goes as planned it would be great.

Justin and Robert were at the corner witnessing the show down. Robert was worried that something would wrong. He couldn’t shake the feeling off. Mark was an evil master mind. He would stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Justin reassured him that Roland would come out of this. And anyway they were both here to help. And Roland had given the go ahead to invite the police he was sure Mark was up to no good. Though he had never met face to face with Mark but he was sure he was a dangerous person based on all that Tolani had told him.
How he schemed and plotted destroying her father’s business. It was so petty of him he couldn’t build a business of his own so he had to steal from others. It was a big shame really. Robert wondered what made men like Mark thick. Fear. It was the only thing he could think of. It was what fueled him. Knowing his victim was afraid of him. They were alert and ready. They couldn’t afford to fail Roland now. He needed them.

” Finally, you have come out of hiding”.
Mark walked up the ramp by the road. His men had double crossed Roland’s car. He finally meets the doctor who rescued Tolani from the fate he had planned. She was supposed to be his bargaining chip. And this insolent man snatched that opportunity from him. He was going to pay dearly. Roland looked at Mark and wondered how he felt. Thinking he was helpless. He was going to prove him wrong. He looked at Grace and said ” I would enjoy raping you, my men did it the first time, but I will do it myself. I just need to be alone with you my dear.” ” To think I was willing to love you” Grace replied. One doesn’t love a snake Roland thought. You end up being bitten. As he ranted on Grace was recording. They both acted scared and did it convincingly. Mark was happy with himself. ” Not to worry I am sure you would love it. I am not a brute you know”. He was acting all cocky and self assured. He had won the first round. Victory was certain. Roland and Grace played along with him. The plan was to gather enough evidence before the police got here. But Mark wouldn’t take them away. They would have to stall him. Grace engaged Mark in conversation. ” You are really smart, your ingenuity is mind blowing”. What was she up to. She had to have thought of something to do as she was currently. He stayed quiet. She was sending him a message indirectly he was yet to decipher it. Puzzle unraveling wasn’t his forte. ” Well to think I was willing to love you”. Grace said. ” I am sorry my love but things don’t always work out the way we plan, do they?”. Roland caught on to the game. He called Justin and then put the phone on speaker. This way they too could over hear the conversation. It was a smart move bolstering his ego. Now he had to wait for the most opportune time to spring his plan into action. Mark didn’t have any idea of what was coming to him. He would know soon enough no need to ruin the surprise.

Chapter Nineteen
The phone rang on Justin’s end. It was Roland’s number. As he picked it up he heard voices. Grace was speaking to someone. The conversation was very cordial. What could be going on. As he attempted to call back to know what was going on Roland sent a text saying he should just listen it was important to have enough ammunition with which to destroy Mark. Thus he and Robert paid rapt attention and even recorded the conversation. Things were heating up fast.
Mark had a huge ego and Grace was just bolstering it. She was stirring the embers of the fire. Roland was playing dumb. He didn’t want to give himself away. Mark kept boasting about his accomplishments and achievements. How smart he was. He went on and on. All the while Grace indulged him. The more he talks the better chance of planning their escape. Sure enough he was praying against any casualties. He wouldn’t want anyone’s blood on his hands. Grace was holding up her end of the bargain. Mark laughed at something Grace said. He was sure he had them cornered. And they will beg for mercy. Tolani was still as wimpy as ever. Begging, it’s a pity. He was going to have to kill her. She had seen him for who really was. Not as he portrayed himself in society. He was two faced.

Who does he think he is? Grace was angry to be putting up with such a fool. She didn’t show it. She was encouraging him to talk. So as to stall for time. Though he had a gun, she could easily knock it off his hands. This guy thinks he’s smart. He’s just an idiot with no brains. She was going to enjoy kicking his ass. She would bide her time and then disarm him. He was going to see what she was made of. She was no snotty nosed girl. He would learn a lesson in humility. As she talked she edged closer to where he stood. He had sent his minions away. Believing he could handle the situation on his own. That was his first mistake and he would pay for it. Roland saw as Grace moved in on Mark and knew what she was about to do. The abandoned warehouse where he housed them was not far from the road. As he kept elaborating on his great plans, Grace tripped him and successfully disarmed him. Roland used his tie to tie his hands. The look of surprise on his face was priceless. As he looked intently he realized that he had been duped. This wasn’t Tolani. But she looked like her. The resemblance was startling. The police were around and Roland called Justin giving him their location. It was finally over. He could rest easy. Go about the wedding plans without fear. Tolani would never know about what went down today. He was going to protect her from her own shadow if it became too scary. The police arrested Mark. All the evidence were sufficient enough to make him stay in jail for a very long time.

” I am talking to you, answer me.”
” What do you want me to say?”
” Did you know our daughter was getting married?” Yemi accused his wife.
” Oh so it’s now our daughter, not my daughter abi?”
” Don’t change the subject”.
Bola Awoseyi was un daunting. She glowered at her husband. Her eyes were shooting daggers at him. His wife had always been submissive and docile.But now he hardly knew this woman he was living with now. She just walked away not answering any of his questions. He was in the dark. His wife wouldn’t talk to him. What did he do to deserve such a fate. He had done things the wrong way. Righting them would take him an eternity.

A month after Mark’s arrest.
Roland was at his parents place. He seemed to be enjoying spending time with them. Tolani also enjoyed the visits. He was going to marry her in a few days time. He was elated. The battle was fierce but he braved it all. He saw himself as a knight in shining armor while Tolani was the damsel in distress. What an analogy. He returned from the battle with Mark intact. His father took him aside and asked him how it went. Tolani and his mum were unaware of anything. All was safe in his world again. His life was getting easier and easier. He was proud of all that they had achieved. Tolani has gone back to work. Nobody doubted that she was getting married. As the rock on her finger was a dead giveaway. She was so happy. Roland informed his parents that he was going to visit Justin and his wife Laura along with Tolani. ” You are leaving me with your father?” His mother sulked. ” Well you’ve always been together all these while why are you complaining now”.
His mother glared at him. ” Well I have gotten used to having another female around” she challenged. Father and son looked at each other in amazement. ” We would be back soon,don’t let Roland tease you” Tolani reassured her. His mother was thrilled to hear that. She was already enjoying Tolani’s presence too much. She was thinking of convincing Roland to move back in with them. The house was big enough to contain all of them. ” Alright, bye for now”.
” What did you do to my mum to get her attached to you?” Roland asked.
” Nothing, just a listening ear and been a sounding board”. She laughed.
” Alright but it seems she really likes you”.
” Yeah she sure does. Roland drove his Highlander into the streets and headed for Justin’s house. He had promised and he always fulfilled most of his promises. He had called ahead to let them know that they were on their way. As they drew closer to the house the outside lights came on. Justin was standing by the door ready to play host. ” Nice of you to make it today”.
” It was no bother” , Tolani replied.
” Who’s at the door, honey?” Laura called from inside.
” Our guests have arrived” he replied promptly.
” Bring them in don’t keep them at the door” she chided.
Justin did as he was told and ushered them in. He asked them to seat and to make themselves comfortable. His wife soon came out to greet them. She was delighted to see Roland and Tolani. ” So this is the señorita that stole this guapo’s heart.” Laura was thrilled. Roland was happy to see her too and embraced her. Tolani looked on. ” Thanks for having us” Roland said.
” Si , si, the pleasure is all mine, Amigo”.
Tolani was wondering why she was speaking in a mixture of Spanish and English. Seeing her face asking the question. She answered as if reading her mind. ” I am studying for a diploma in Spanish, I practice on whoever I can, hope you don’t mind, Amiga?”
” Estoy bien, de Nada” Tolani replied laughing.
Justin and Roland watched the women as they carried on in Spanish. ” Ladies please have pity on us” her husband said pleadingly.
” Mi Esposo is afraid” she teased.
Tolani was laughing hard as the joke was on Justin. ” What did you say darling?”
Laura paid no heed to him to but went about setting the table with Tolani’s help.
” I am in trouble bro, my wife would sell me one of these days”.
” No she won’t, she loves you, silly”.
” What’s mi esposo” Justin asked Tolani. As his wife was refusing to pay attention to him.
” My husband” Tolani replied laughing.
Justin looked at his wife and smiled. She pretended not to notice. The table was set and everyone sat down to eat. Laura asked about how they met. Roland answered her questions. But Tolani chipped in a word or two. Dinner was soon over and Tolani complimented Laura on the dish saying it was delicious. Laura smiled and said that she was pleased. Tolani looked at the time and pinched Roland. We need to get going dinner was delicious and wonderful. We should do this sometime soon again, Tolani said. Justin shook hands with Roland as he walked them out. ” It was a pleasure having you in our home, gracias”.
” Gracias” Tolani replied.
” Where did you learn to speak Spanish” Roland asked as they drove to his parents place. ” I have always had a flare for the language”.
Roland was discovering sides of her he had never encountered before. She was growing confident and her self esteem has improved tremendously. He stopped the car and looked at her. She was more beautiful than ever. He was going to be a good husband. He would try not to make her cry. She deserved all the happiness and joy in the world.
” Let’s go see your parents soon” he told her changing the subject.
” Really, am so glad you brought it up”.
” Well, I called your dad some weeks back” he said gently.
” You did?”
” Sure did, I want to ask him in person, the call was just a preamble.”
Tolani was happy he was making the effort to get her father to agree to their wedding even planning a visit. What more could she ask for. ” Yeah sure”.
” Alright I would ask my parents to join us”
” Wow, my father stands no chance, he would agree, thanks mi amor”. She kissed his cheek.

Chapter Twenty
Tolani and Roland set out to her parents house a few days after the talk in the car. His parents were also coming along for moral support. He really was following through with his words. He was really a man of his words. Tolani was so happy to share her joy with her parents in person. It was a great weight off her shoulders. She has forgiven her father. Though he really hurt her. She was ready to let go of the past. To start on a clean slate. It was a sacrifice she was willing to make. Roland was making it easier for her. Now she can come face to face with her father and have the strength of her love to withstand whatever he might throw at her.
As they approached her parents house she was anxious and excited at the same time. He parked the car and they all got out; walked to the door and Roland knocked on the door. He was ready to face this head on. Nothing would deter him. He just prayed that her father would accept him and even if he didn’t he was determined all the same.

A knock at the door was a pleasant surprise. “Are you expecting any visitors?” Yemi asked his wife. He was wondering what was up with her these days. ” Why should I? ” His wife replied saucily. He was getting tired of her attitude. She was becoming more bold these days. Anyway he went to the door and opened it only to be met with a surprise. His daughter was at the door but it was a man who knocked. Why is that? If he kept them outside he wouldn’t have peace of mind as his wife would skin him alive. Saying he wasn’t hospitable. His wife was at the door and was shoving him out of the way to see who it was. Her eyes were as big as saucers when she saw Tolani. She threw herself at her daughter and gave her a warm embrace asking her questions at rapid fire speed. Her father stood to the side watching the reunion. He was short of words. ” Well, come in please” she said to the visitors. They all processed in and her father shut the door.
” It’s nice to finally meet you ma” Roland said.
” And who might you be?
” My name is Roland”
” Yes, I am Roland’s mother, we have heard so many good things about you”.
” Really, hope they are good” her father inquired wearily. Roland where had he heard that name before. He was sure he had but couldn’t place a finger on it for now. It would come back to him he reassured himself. And maybe it was a different person. He wouldn’t dabble into the unknown without certainty.
Bola looked at her husband and just shook her head in disbelief. How dare he. He didn’t even wait to know why they were here before he made his wreckless statement. Well she’ll entertain before asking them why they here. She left the living room to get drinks for the visitors. Her husband was speechless. It was like he was starring in a movie in his own home. Soon Bola returned with the drinks in a tray and Tolani got up to assist her. As soon as the drinks were served and everyone was sitted. Ovie Emuh spoke up. He greeted Tolani’s parents. He then proceeded to introduce his wife Ejiri. He further stated that they were here to inform them about the upcoming wedding between their son, he pointed at Roland and Tolani. He would like to seek their approval as the parents of the bride. He reietrated that Tolani was well cultured and it will be a great honor to add her to the family. Bola was excited and happy. She looked at her daughter. She was indeed happy and she deserved a chance at lasting happiness. She said ” it would be an honor to have you as my in-laws.” Her father was about to speak but his wife stared at him from across the room. Then she quickly amended that her husband too was okay with the wedding. Yemi just nodded his head. What a strange couple Ejiri thought to herself. “So now that this was out of the way let’s go ahead with the wedding preparations”, Tolani’s mother said.
” Wow that’s awesome” Ejiri replied. “Time is of the essence and we have to plan.”
” I agree with you” Roland’s mother said.
The two women dragged Tolani with them and left the men to discuss on their own.

“So you want to marry my daughter?” Yemi asked Roland.
” Yes, sir I do”.
” We won’t be here if weren’t serious” his father stated convincingly.
Both men looked at each other like competitors in a boxing ring. Roland watched the silent exchange in silence. Hope they don’t come to blows. He spoke up and the fathers had no choice but to listen. ” We are expected to be planning a wedding, not a boxing match” .
” Alright, son I agree with you” his father said.
Yemi was out numbered in his own home. He had to concede. He started giving a list of the things needed and told them he would have to consult with his family on the rest and then get back to them. Ovie had no problem as it was the normal thing. What could these women be up to Ovie Emuh thought to himself. Tolani’s father stood no chance against his wife. She was a charmer and a natural leader.
In the room, the women were telling Tolani about their own experiences. How they felt. The excitement of waiting for the the D-Day. Always anxious to get the ceremony over with. And to start their lives together. Tolani looked at them they were like teenagers with the kind of happiness in their voices as they told their tale. Roland’s mother confessed to keeping his father waiting at the altar longer than was expected. He was getting tired and threatened to come look for me by himself if I wasn’t in the church soon. Tolani’s mother laughed at her antics.
Putting all arrangements in place both families bid farewell to one another. Tolani remained in her parents place for the time being. Roland was not too happy about it. But he understood that she had to spend time with them.

” My little girl has blossomed into a woman”, her mother commented.
Tolani hugged her mother. ” Yes, I sure have”.
Yemi Awoseyi stood apart watching his wife and daughter. He had vowed to bring to justice anyone involved in the rape case. But he failed and allowed pride eat at him. He was going to mend the wall. Try to be a better father. He wouldn’t be judgemental and bitter. It was what started the beef with his daughter in the first place. He watched as they both spoke and laughed. His wife hadn’t laughed in a while. It was wonderful hearing the sound of her laughter alongside their daughter’s. He moved closer to join in and his daughter stretched out her hand to him. He was surprised but took her hand. ” I hold no grudges against you dad”. Tolani smiled at her father. ” I hope you can forgive me for the hurt I have caused you”.
” I hope you would give our daughter a shot at happiness”, his wife said sternly.
Yemi looked at his family, whole again after a long time. ” Sure I will”.
” Really, dad?”
” Yes, dear, I will make the effort”.
Tolani was happy to be home again after the difficulties. She was looking forward to seeing a better side of her father and to learn about been a good wife from her mother. She had so much to learn within a short period of time. She would make the most of it.

Mark was seething in anger in his jail cell. All his plans went to waste. He thought he was in control but unbeknownst to him all was not well. The evidence against him were damning. There was no where to hide now. Even his money was of no good now. His lawyer couldn’t do anything. He advised Mark to own up and plead guilty as he would be going to court soon. He won’t just accept defeat like that. He was going to fight till his dying breath. Word of his arrest soon got to the news papers. He soon had a visitor. Tolani’s father was his august visitor. He looked at him and said ” see your end Mark with all your money, it’s a shame that the money can’t buy you freedom.” He walked out of the prison yard a happy man. Mark was no longer a threat to his daughter. Whoever was responsible for putting him here had his sincere thanks. He was more than relived.

” How’s our jail bird doing?” Roland asked Justin.
” He’s doing well , I guess. The last time I saw him he was okay and would be going to trial soon.”
” Good this stays between us, Tolani must never find out.”
Roland was happy with the speed of things. Now he could progress with his wedding without any hassles. Justin and Robert would keep him updated. He only had to worry about the lengthy list given to them by Tolani’s family. His father reassured him that they would get everything done in no time at all. All he needed to do was to have faith that all will go well.

Chapter Twenty One
The morning of March 6th dawned bright and sunny. The church was decorated gaily in Gold and Coral Blue. Every thing was ready. The traditional wedding took place in the morning. Roland had to prostrate which he did with gusto and florish. His friends likewise were with him for moral support. All the traditional rites were met. The yams, palm oil, clothes, accessories, bride price , name it was met with out questions. As the bride walked in when the main ceremony began and she was invited in. Roland gazed upon her like it was the first time he was her. Her skin glowed. She radiated warmth. He could drown in the depth of her eyes. But he couldn’t just throw her over his shoulders like a cave man, which he really wanted to do right now. As she approached he held himself still until she got to his side. Both parents linked their hands together to solemnize the union. As the traditional wedding ended the race to church began in earnest. Tolani got prepared for the occasion, the day she had been eagerly waiting for was finally here. No more stolen kisses. She smiled to herself. Her mother and mother-in-law helped her to get ready so as not to be late for the ceremony. The wedding was to hold at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Ipaja. Every thing was going well today. Happiness permeated the atmosphere. Everyone was dressed to the nines. It was going to be a special day indeed. As the car conveying the bride drove into the Church Premises, everyone close by scrambled around to have a look at the bride. Roland and his parents were already at the church, waiting for the bride.
Roland and his parents were already at the church, waiting for the bride. He kept stretching looking out for the vehicle carrying his bride. Throwing everyone in a frenzy, with his incessant pacing. ” You would wear the rug out” Justin commented laughing. ” What’s so funny?” He asked angrily. Justin just smiled and reassured him that Tolani would be there, and that he should calm down. He did as he was told.
” How long before she’s ready?” Roland asked curiously.
” Don’t be so anxious son”, his father pacified him.
” But it’s taking too long, isn’t it?”
” You are only anxious, son relax” , his father advised.
” Alright, I will relax”.

Roland was pacing, wearing out the rug under his feet. They had done the traditional wedding early in the morning. They had met all the demands of Tolani’s family and more. His mother bless her arranged everything to a perfect T. No hitches what so ever. Now he was at the Church anxiously waiting for her to arrive.
He was anxious. He was going to be married in a few hours time. As he was waiting a car drove into the church premises. He peeped out the window to see who it was. But his father dragged him away from the window. And asked him to be calm he would get to see the bride at the altar not a minute sooner. ” Why can’t I just get a glimpse” he grumbled. ” You’d get all the glimpses of a life time, don’t be eager son”.

” Are you sure she’s ready” , Tolani’s mother asked the makeup artist. Her makeup was mild and not loud like she feared it would be. Her mother and the mother of the groom hovered over her like a mother hen. Straightening her dress and asking everyone to hurry else they will never be in time. As final touches were made Tolani looked in the mirror she was stunning and a genuine hotty. Roland wouldn’t know what hit him when he laid eyes on her. She was happy to be getting married to him at long last the wait was over.
” Let’s hurry, they should all be at the Church auditorium waiting” chimed Roland’s mother.

” All done here” Tolani’s mother reaffirmed.
Her father was standing by to escort her to the altar. Her mother went down the hall and called him to tell him that Tolani was ready. As he saw his daughter he was amazed at how beautiful she truly was. He was going to give his daughter in marriage. A privilege he was proud to experience. ” Are you ready dear?” Her father asked.
” Sure I am dad, I was born ready for this day”.
With that father and daughter started the journey down the church aisle. As they passed the audience stood. Roland was waiting at the altar for her. As she walked beside her father she felt light headed. She was going to enjoy every bit of her time with Roland there was no doubt about it. As they got to the altar, her father placed her hand in Roland’s and went to take his seat. As the bride was at the altar the audience sat down and the ceremony began. The priest asked them to exchange their vows and asked for the rings to be brought.
him like a dream. The officiating priest finally said ” I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride”. Roland needed no other prompting he kissed her like he would never kiss her again. The congregation clapped as he finally broke the kiss reluctantly and drew her close to him. Cocooning her in his embrace. He whispered into her ears saying ” this was a chaste kiss once we are alone I promise to pour all my energy into the kiss and you stand no chance”.
She smiled and slapped his arm telling him ” mind your language you are in the house of God”. ” God is a romantic, he won’t mind” he answered.

The audience applauded Roland was deaf to all these but focused on Tolani and this moment in time. As they broke apart he whispered ” it doesn’t end here” into her ears. She smiled and whispered back ” I know.”
The priest then said “let me the first to introduce to you the newly weds. Please make welcome Mr and Mrs Roland Emuh”. The crowd was applauding loudly as they congratulated them. Pictures were taken in the Church Premises. Then it was time to move to the reception. It was a glorious event. With a lot of dancing, merriment and fanfare. Everyone had a great time and they wished Roland and Tolani a happy and blissful married life. Filled with love, happiness and joy. The couple thanked all that graced their special occasion and wished them a safe journey back home. “Mrs Emuh , I like the ring of that” Roland said smiling. ” Sure I do too” , Tolani answered laughing.

” You won’t believe what I hav e planned for us” he teased. Tolani laughed at his banter as she walked beside to the car. As they neared the car, he paused as though he forgot something. Without preamble nor warning, he lifted her into his hands carrying her the remaining steps to the car conveying them to the airport. ” What was that for? “; She asked laughing hard. ” Didn’t want you to strain yourself I know you would be very tired” he replied seriously then burst into laughter. He put her in the car and got in beside her as the driver drove away. Taking them to the airport to board a plane to their honeymoon destination which he said was a surprise and he refused to let her know where they going. “If tell you then it is no longer a secret “, he argued. She decided to go with the flow and enjoy her time with her husband. Husband! Fancy that. She smiled a secret smile to herself. Roland held her hand all through the journey to the airport. A solemn promise that he would never leave her alone.

The newly weds left the for their honeymoon in the evening. Roland refused to tell Tolani where they were going to. He claimed it was a surprise. And that she would love it. She believed him and followed him. She had complete and total trust in him. As they arrived their destination a beach house. Tolani was surprised and excited. She twirled around and around. Loving the serenity and peace. The ambience. ” How did you pull this off?” She asked. ” Well I guess I have my secrets”.
Roland walked up to the house and opened the door. Their luggage would arrive soon. But he just wanted to enjoy this beautiful moments with his wife. His wife. Finally. He chased her around the beach and caught and then kissed her. The beach was closed to visitors so they had the whole place to themselves. As Roland kissed his wife he twisted her around so he could unzip her dress. She wasn’t wearing a bra under and he was glad for that. He deepened the kiss as they both sank into the sands. He was hungry for her. ” Hmmmm, you taste like ………
” Like what?” She drawled.
Roland was going to make love to his wife for the first time and he couldn’t wait. He wanted it to be perfect and for it to last. He looked into her eyes and asked ” are you sure you are ready for this?” She was naked and not afraid. ” Sure I am. Or are you afraid that you might not be up to the task?” Roland grinned. He was more than ready and he showed her how much he loves her with his body. She couldn’t deny that he loved her. He handled her gently like a porcelain doll. She gave as much as she took. It humbled him. He had pictured this day and it was more perfect than he had ever imagined. Roland took her face in his two hands. ” I want you to know something. You have made me the happiest man, I am glad that you are now mine, and you ain’t going no where. I cherish you more with each passing day.” Cherished. Yes , that was the word for the sweet unity she experienced in his affection and friendship and passions as well as his support. He gazed lovingly into her eyes. In the cocoon he built no one existed but the two of them. Holding her face gently in his two palms, he kissed her twice, once on the forehead and then on the lips. The moon glistened on their naked bodies as he savored his wife like fine wine. This was the beginning of the many good times to come.

Self Love

God is love. Yes. How can you love you don’t see when you can’t love yourself? It is disheartening to note that at times we all have this feeling of worthlessness. We feel inferior. We always think the whole world is against us. But if we look deeply we can appreciate the little things that make us unique. We can wake up and smell the roses. It is only when I love self that I can love some one else selflessly. And love God. Love reflects from the inside out not the other way round.

Cheers

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  • Self Love
    God is love. Yes. How can you love you don’t see when you can’t love yourself? It is disheartening to note that at times we all have this feeling of worthlessness. We feel inferior. We always think the whole world is against us. But if we look deeply we can appreciate the little things that […]
  • Cheers
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  • My Heart Is True
    There is always that someone that comes into into your life and turns it around in the best way possible. You miss them when they are far. Love is a beautiful emotion. You always crave them even when they are near. A kiss , a touch is always valued. It lasts like forever. You smile […]

My Heart Is True

There is always that someone that comes into into your life and turns it around in the best way possible. You miss them when they are far. Love is a beautiful emotion. You always crave them even when they are near. A kiss , a touch is always valued. It lasts like forever. You smile for no reason when you think of the one you love. Memories are ever golden. No time spent together is a waste. Time is treasured like a jewel. No time is enough time. Always wanting to enjoy each other’s company is to strengthen the test of love. No mountain is too high to climb. Words are not enough to describe my love. Words fail but my heart is ever true.

Memories

I reminisce about the journey have made so far. A lot of disappointment. Struggles. It is never easy trying to keep your head above water. When all you have experienced is hurt. You tend to see the worse. Like a local adage says if because we feel hurt we close our eyes for the bad ones to pass; when the good ones passes by how do we know?

My heart is beating with joy as I am writing. I am very proud of who I have become. A very happy and healthy person. In love and living life to the fullest. I never thought I would be able to get this far in my life. But I am thankful to God that I have overcome obstacles that were in my way.

Now I am free, free like a bird. Living life and loving it. I am very happy that things are falling into place for me. In pleasant places. Love has found me and the hurts of the past are completely forgotten. Love indeed is a balm.

Long distance relationship LDR

Most times LDR’s are a little too much to take in. Is it possible to love a person you have never seen face to face? Can love be share from a distance? It’s always impossible to work out how LDR’S are meant to work. But each couple brings something unique to the table that makes the relationship work. Fear is a major factor that destroys LDR’S. The ‘ what if’ syndrome begins to play in our head. Unless we truly let go and appreciate the relationship. It won’t work out. Communication is the glue holding any relationship. When it’s gone. The relationship begins to nose dive and the couple begin to drift apart. It’s a slow process this drifting until it dawns on you that it ain’t working and then you part ways. Long distance relationships work it only requires time, patience and understanding. Whose with me on this?