After her outburst, the silence lengthened between them.
“Ifeoma!” Her mother’s scolding voice cut through the charged atmosphere.
“Is that how to greet your mother’s guest, ehn? With confrontation?” Letting
out a loud hiss, Mama came to Chinedu‟s aide, stopping what was about to turn
into a train wreck.
“Don‟t mind her, my son. How are you?”
If she was a meddling mother, he was gladly an enabler. At least, she came
through for him. Guy! You fuck up. Why did you have to go telling Iphey you
deleted her numbers? Dear God… Smiling sheepishly, he could have kicked
himself for the nearly perfect impression of the awkward teenager he was putting
on show. Cupid was surely having another laugh at him.
Highly irritated, Iphey cut Mama’s bonding session with her perceived
potential son-in-law short. “OK… I really don‟t have time for this. I have to get
back to work.” She stormed off, leaving Chinedu with Mama. At the door, she
hurriedly mumbled some awkward but polite goodbyes and “nice to see you” to
Ngozi and Otunba. In truth, she wasn‟t totally thinking about her job after that
last tidbit about deleting her details. She would have agreed to jump on to a bed
of hot coals if it meant avoiding Chinedu.
The man might have been shaky with his words in the beginning, but he
definitely wasn‟t playing at the end. Even when caught off guard he exuded a
natural confidence that couldn‟t be taken away from him. He had just told her he
had been ready to throw her over and here she was still salivating. The fact that
he was just as gorgeous as the last time she saw him wasn‟t helping either.
She looked up and Chinedu was in front of her. His eyes looked straight into
hers unflinchingly. This was not the right time to be gazing into the eyes of an
alluringly attractive man. Sanity had to be preserved. Brushing past him, Iphey
dashed into her car.
Let him stew in it. Leaving him like this made her heart ache, but she was too
proud. The high of their reconciliation had been dented by finding out that it had
been so easy for him to forget her. And it seemed that the pride of her car had
been dented as well, her engine spluttered and died when she turned it on. She
couldn‟t believe what was happening right when she needed to escape the most.
Again and again, the car refused to start. When she turned the ignition, the
uncooperative engine made a sound that seemed to be laughing at her futile
attempts to get it to work. Iphey felt herself on the verge of explosion. Surely, this
much exasperation couldn‟t be contained in one body… She was one second
away from bursting into a torrential flood of tears when a deep soothing voice
came through her window.
“I‟ll take you.”
Iphey decided to play the hand fate had dealt her. Whatever her beef with
him, the fuming Funmi still waited in the office. She didn’t even want to fight
him off any longer. She was in Chinedu‟s car with all her stuff before she knew it.
As they drove in silence, she noticed he was smiling. Out of amusement this
time, not awkwardness.
“What is so funny?”
Chinedu let out a quiet laugh. It was that of a confident and mildly amused
man. “So you sabi Igbo like that?” Iphey hadn‟t realised she had been cursing in
Igbo at her choppy day, her manager and her car. They both burst into laughter.
The tension brewed by all the day‟s previous events melted into oblivion. There
was something about him that always put her at ease. It was the same calm she
felt when he comforted her during Obi‟s hospitalisation. Her mind drifted,
envisioning being held in his arms, totally at peace without a care in the world.
“You always know exactly what to say or do. When you aren‟t having
strange women over or robbing people at gunpoint, of course.”
The laughter died at once. A feeling of intense stupidity enveloped Iphey. She
had no idea why she had said that. Before she could take it back, Chinedu had
veered off the road, stopping sharply by some roadside stalls. He was visibly
“Who do you think you are? You no get secret? You no get past? The fact that
you know mine does not give you the right to throw it in my face all the time.”
He threw his hands up. “Women! You say you want honesty, then you run
when you hear the truth. You say you are not interested in me, then you freak
out at the sight of another woman. What the hell do you want from me?”
Iphey was dumbfounded. He was irate. She couldn‟t bring herself to look at
him, reverting to a childhood habit of playing with her fingers when nervous. She
now looked down at them.
“Answer me! Answer me now!”
“A chance?” she whispered.
Chinedu thought he was hallucinating. He could feel everything inside him
softening, turning to mush. “What?”
“I said…a chance. I‟m sorry for joking about that. It sounded funny in my
She laughed awkwardly in an attempt to minimise the gravity of what she was
saying, and looked down at her fingers again. “I was scared. I still am. You
know how they say, „Be careful what you wish for‟? Well, I wished for someone
who made me feel safe. And you do. The violence of your past scares me. But I
could work through that. I just want a chance with you…”
Chinedu felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. In their place, an
army of butterflies suffused his stomach. Gently, he lifted her chin so he could
see her eyes. They were sincere. Afraid, but sincere.
“Iphey, I swear I‟m not that person anymore. I promise you. The confusion
that led me to that life is not part of me anymore. In fact, I am far from confused.
I have never been as sure of anything as I am of us. So if you still want that
chance, I can give it to you wholeheartedly. I am serious about you and I need
you to understand that.”
Iphey finally found herself submerged in the eyes she had been trying to
avoid. Relief and happiness overwhelmed her. Something else did as well. It was
lust. She found herself wanting to be lost in more than his eyes. Before either of
them could finish their train of thought, they were lost in an intense and
passionate kiss. They didn‟t even notice the petty traders outside the window
until the knocking came.
“Oga, if u go use your enjoyment block customer for me, make you buy
Chinedu couldn’t care less. He would buy the entire stall if he had to. Finally
kissing Iphey had been bliss. He wanted to do kiss her again and keep doing it.
Iphey smiled widely. The kiss had felt so natural; so right. Chinedu was the
man of her dreams. Literally. Those eyes…they smiled into each other’s eyes and
drew closer again.
Her phone beeped. “Oh no…Chinedu please, let’s get to my office.”
After her outburst, the silence lengthened between them.