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House on the Hill

HOTH EPISODES

SEVEN

THE BREAK OF THE morning brought nothing eventful with it. And the day passed in that manner, uneventful and monotonous. Moyo went to bed early that night. She had been too disinterested to read.

But when the usual noise startled her out of her sleep, the inertia that kept her bored all through the day before vanished, and emboldened by a sudden courage and determination, she yanked aside the coverlet and marched for her door.

But even as she crept up the stairs, the noise stopped. Notwithstanding, she kept going. Tonight, she was uncovering that noisemaker.

“And where are you skulking to?”

It took everything in her not to squeal. Moyo turned around to glare at the weird boss. He was a few feet away from her, hidden away by the semi-dark hue of the hallway.

She should have looked to her right before going left, she thought grumpily.

“I heard that hammering noise again and I wanted to check it out.” She responded with a defiant turn-up of her chin.

“You heard a noise and decided to leave the safety of your room so as to investigate it by near two am?”

It sounded ridiculous now the way he said it but Moyo refused to be bullied, or shamed, into backing down. “Yes. I came out because I knew it was coming from up here.”

“And do you still hear it?”

She hated his sardonic tone. “No, I don’t. Whoever was making the noise stopped as soon as I climbed up the stairs.” She inched closer, peered at him. “Since you are hiding here in the dark, were you the one making the noise? Or do you know who was?”

“First, I am not hiding here.” His tone was thoroughly reproving. “I was coming up when I heard you disobeying my express orders to keep away from these rooms and so I stopped.”

“You were coming up?” Moyo stared at his unclear form. “From where?”

Maje inhaled sharply. He hadn’t meant to explain himself. “That would not be any of your business. As to your previous insolent question, I wasn’t the one hammering. I don’t hammer— like I’ve told you in the past.”

“Then who does?” Moyo demanded, exasperated.

“No one you should concern yourself with.” Maje snapped, barely controlling his temper. The girl was a demon with questions. “Now get back to your room, lock it and get some sleep!”

“I was trying to get some sleep when the… whoever was hammering woke me up!” Moyo snapped back, incensed because he was yelling at her. “Do you know how hard it is to get any proper rest when all you hear are strange noises? Do you how scary it is? Is that what you and… this person are after, to scare me to death?”

In the semi-dark, Maje’s brows shot up. Never had he been spoken to in such a manner. Well, someone else had done so… a couple of times too. But she was gone now.

Blinking, he realised his temper had ebbed away. “I’m sorry.”

“Huh?” Moyo’s jaw literally dropped.

His mouth twitched. “I’m apologising. Sorry that we… that your sleep was disturbed.”

“Oh. Well… ah… thank you.” Should she apologise too for foolishly daring to raise her voice at him? Uh-uh. She should just back away whilst still ahead. “Um, I’ll go back to bed now. Since the noise have stopped. Goodnight… good morning. Whichever.”

And she scuttled down the stairs.

Maje exhaled as he heard her door click to lock. “What have I gotten myself into hiring a wilful, over-inquisitive young woman?” He muttered under his breath.

Blowing out another breath, he headed towards his own room.

A tap came at the linking door as he pulled back the covers of his bed.

Stiffening, and wary, he called out softly. “Yes? Need anything?”

He gabbled out the words in a low-pitched growl.

She is a match for you.

Maje found his mouth curving involuntarily into a smile. “She is a nuisance.” He said, gruffly. It was odd. They barely ever conversed. Not about trivial matters such as this one. “I should get rid of her before she’s much more trouble.”

A vehement protest came.

No! She stays.

Maje shut his eyes. It was risky. She was too inquisitive… too daring. But he couldn’t refuse him. He dared not. Not tonight at least. There was no need to agitate him.

So he ventured at cajoling. “Can you not hammer anymore tonight? She is probably spooked despite all her brave acts.”

Have laid down my tools for the night. She deserves her rest.

He heard the shuffle of retreat, the squeak of the bed. Maje stared at the door, surprised for the second time that night… morning. He had never willingly given up his works at night.

Moyo. Was she trouble or…?

Unwilling to complete the thought, Maje slipped into the bed and shut his eyes, willing sleep to come—as he did every night.

 

WHEN HE BROUGHT down the breakfast tray later in the day, he spoke to her for the first time as he did set it down on the counter.

“I left some clothes in the laundry basket. Could you attend to them?”

Surprised at being spoken to, Moyo eyed him curiously. “Yes, sir.” Had the night encounter changed him? Not likely, she instantly decided.

“Thank you.” And he retreated.

Shrugging, Moyo went back to her food.

She waited until after taking care of the dishes before going into the laundry room. Dumping her own clothes into another laundry basket, she dug into the one with his clothes and started separating them based on colour and fabric type.

She was about to drop a cornflower-blue short-sleeved shirt into the lighter-colours pile when it struck her that there was an odd mix of the shirts-only pile. There was a vivid difference in colours and even style… and then the significant size difference.

“What the heck!”

Moyo jerked up the shirt and turned up the collar looking for its size tag—24?

She picked the dim violet crewneck t-shirt and checked its tag—16.

“Bloody hell!” She piled back the set out clothes and started crosschecking.

Size-16 went with the dimmer coloured t-shirt-like wears and size-24 was clipped on the brighter coloured button-down shirts.

“What are you doing now?”

Moyo swung up her head at the cynical-toned question. Then mumbled a cuss because once again he’d come upon her without her hearing him.

“Separating the clothes for washing, sir.” She replied, clearing her throat.

He slowly lowered his gaze to the piled-together clothes on top the plastic table. “Looks more like jumbling together from where I’m standing.”

“I got confused so I piled them up again.” It was the damn truth.

“Aha!”

Moyo refused to be amused by the significant lift of one of his brows. “I noticed that there are two different sizes of shirts here. Different styles too and colour choices “

“How very observant of you.” His tone was dry. His expression its usual blankness. “And how did that end up confusing you?”

“Because they are too different.” Moyo managed to swallow her hiss and breathed instead. “How can one person wear two clothes sizes, sir? It’s impossible. It is clear that the sizes 16 are yours and the sizes 24… whose are they?”

“Questions again, Moyo? Do you never tire?” He shook his head and flicked a hand. “Put the clothes into the machine, Moyo. You are meant to wash them, not dissect them.”

“But…”

“Now!”

And because she’d never heard that low authoritative tone before, Moyo clamped her mouth shut and secretly rolling her eyes, picked out the lighter coloured shirts and dumped them into the machine’s washing bowl.

“Thank you.” And he turned and quietly left.

“Thank you, my ass!” She muttered, glaring at the empty doorway. “I’m going to unravel all of these mysteries. That you can bet on… and thank me for.”

 

DINNER DONE AND THE kitchen cleaned out, Moyo strolled into the living room, reluctant to return to her own room yet. She found him there reading.

“Oh. I didn’t know you were in here.”

How the heck does he get around without her ever noticing?

He said nothing, only gave her a look from under his lashes before returning to his book.

“You’re reading.” A rather gigantic-sized solid back book. “You must like reading a lot to have this enormous bookshelf.”

Again the under-the-lashes glance and no response.

“Don’t you like television?” She refused to give up. “I noticed there are none anywhere in the house. Anywhere I’ve been allowed in that is. Don’t you like to watch TV?”

“No.”

Ah, finally a response. And without the look. Making headway.

“Hmm. I do. I know that sounds like a duh thing given that I’m a girl… woman.” She let out a laugh. Watched him to see his reaction. There was none. Not a flicker. Damn! “I think TV is a good form of relaxation. Of course I mean the soaps, series and shows. No one really considers News programmes entertainments, right?”

He finally raised his head. “Don’t you have anything to do? A book to read maybe? Because if you don’t, you can pick as many as you need to occupy and entertain you from the shelf.”

“I do have books, novels. But they are old ones that I’ve read over and over.” She held in her triumphant whoop at having poked through his wall. “Talking about books and bookshelf, there’s a door behind this one. I discovered it two days ago.” Telling him how wasn’t an option. “Does anyone use it often?”

The girl was craftier than the devil. “Such a pity you chose to study office management, you could have made a good investigative police officer. With the many questions you always have, you could have unearthed many leads, clues and answers.”

“Yeah, that surely would have been an advantage. Of course if my questions never get answered, I might not make headway in my cases.” She let out a dramatic sigh. “But there is the advantage that if I were really a police officer, I’d have to toss you in jail and have freeway with my investigations.”

The loud sputter of laughter rang out.

Moyo gaped at him, shocked. She hadn’t expected a laugh.

Neither had the one upstairs who’d been listening with his keen ears. He laughed. She made him laugh. He’s never laughed… never like that. No one has ever made him laugh. She’d stood up to him and now she’d made him laugh. She must be something… something special. If only he could see her.

Feeling ridiculously unnerved at his spontaneous mirth, Maje stopped his laughing, and schooling his features back to blankness, looked at her. “There are novels, fiction novels, in the lower compartments of the shelf. Pick one and go entertain yourself in your room.”

Since she’d been stupendously shocked speechless by his laughter, Moyo found herself obeying his bidding.

The lower compartments were filled with tons of novels. She picked a Judith McNaught.

“Thank you, sir.”

His eyes were back on his book. “Good night, Moyo.”

“Goodnight, sir.” Moyo left the room with her mind still bemused.

On her bed, she opened the novel and on the title page, she found written in a curly penmanship—Teniola Davies.

Teniola Davies? Who was she?

His sister, wife… mother?

Another puzzle. Damn, this house was full of them. Rolling her eyes, she turned to the first chapter.

 

Dedication: for Nnem & Cheks, for superb story-telling skills.

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44 Responses to House on the Hill

  1. biodun says:

    thanks TM…I see you!

  2. Jeffrey Jamez says:

    Hmmmmm……..speechless

    tell me i am FTC

  3. At least she was able to make them laugh.
    Wonderful work ma’am.

  4. Tosin says:

    I love Moyo’s tenacity and boldness. thanks TM for this story.

  5. VictorA says:

    hmm…slowly slowly, the mystery is being unraveled. Can’t recall how many times I’ve refreshed this page today. Thanks Ma’am.

  6. Joan says:

    I’m with Jeffery on this one. I’m totally speechless, don’t know what to say.

    Good job ma’am. Thanks for the post. Gracias

  7. Luwibaby says:

    Thanking you, how is you? How is your family? *in jenifa voice* i have refreshed this page like God knows how long…. My body dey shake cant seem to get enough… Got long throat for this story….

  8. Adebowale says:

    I love this story. Well done TM

  9. Sylvia says:

    Ds moyo girl sha….something speshia.
    Tanx TM

  10. iyke David says:

    I GOT NO REASON NOT TO ADMIRE THIS GIRL COURAGE NOW!
    TM, WELL DONE!

  11. sabelle concepts says:

    It’s short o..didn’t want it to end..i love moyo and I can’t wait to discover who that carpenter that keeps hammering is.

  12. Patience Bassey says:

    Hmmm

  13. bola says:

    Our love story don dey enter small small. Mama u rock joo

  14. Jeanfortune says:

    hehehe, see action love brewing up between these two sha and they are holding back, well, thats the sweet thing about love. Moyo baby, ur magic wand is really turning cos even the monster-something wants u around, i hope it turns in ur favour. By the way Madam Spicey, welldone o HOTH family i hail una too

  15. Vimlady says:

    This is getting more interesting…..thanks TM for this story

  16. Omolola says:

    Wowww…..you got me spellbound TM. I don’t know who is more shocked at Maje’s laughter, Moyo or myself. I’m loving Moyo’s courage and tenacity. I’m just loving this story and you.

  17. Nykky says:

    Our audacious girl in waooing even the beast or whoever is wearing size 24 shirt in d house. It might just turn around to favour Moyo in the end but till then fingers crossed. Kudos TM

  18. Paula says:

    Awwwwwww and he laughed.

  19. Mmm, I dey hear love, love, love… Ish dat sho? Lmao

    • Jeanfortune says:

      yes yes ish sh sooo, infact most of us want it to be so, but then, i know ur style, it doesnt always end the nollywood way

  20. Pacesetter says:

    Moyo is good, its good to be inquisitive

  21. Adefunke says:

    hmm, Moyosade the comedian

  22. Ego says:

    Wow interesting. I am just trying to imagine what d picture of Maje looks like, even Moyo sef and I already have a picture of dem in my mind. Lolz

  23. gannie_perrie says:

    waoo

  24. Roselyn says:

    Woooow! TM, you too much. Lady Moyo, I feel you. But watch out for potholes so that you no go scatter your exhaust pipe. Heeeheehee!

  25. chic says:

    Thank you

  26. horllybee says:

    TM I think it’s we unravel the identity of the beast cos
    despite the hints,I still can’t tell…thanks

  27. mystiq18 says:

    moyo is gradually changing d atmosphere… can’t wait for her to see d oda guy…tnx BL

  28. Toyenlon says:

    Moyo is gradually getting through to Maje, can’t wait to see how it turns out. Welldone TM.

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