JETH had thought of her all week long. He had spoken with her more times than he’d imagined himself capable of speaking with anyone over the phone. She never forgot to tease him that he was hounding her with calls. But much as he would have liked to back off and give her some space, he simply couldn’t.
His constant thinking of her wouldn’t allow him to. And the feelings that were already growing inside of him for her, obstinately fought against any demand for good sense.
“I think my heart has chosen the one it wants to love.” He sighed aloud.
Ethan raised his eyes from his mobile phone’s Solitaire game. They were both home alone. Gloria has taken the kids along with her to Abuja to spend the weekend with Sophie and her new-born. It would have been a good boys’ time for both of them, except that Jeth has been mostly absent-minded and morose.
“Is that right?” So finally the day they’ve all been waiting has come. He would have to update the ladies. “Would the one your heart is choosing to love be she with the remarkable voice from church?”
“Who else could it be? I can’t stop thinking about her. She’s always on my mind.” Jeth moved his legs restlessly on the sofa. “Do you think it’s too soon to be feeling this way for her?”
“Uh-uh.” Ethan’s eyes glistened with amusement. “Not when you are thirty-two going on thirty-three.”
“Very funny.” But his worrying head made him sigh again. “I am worried it is all happening too quickly. For me, at least. Not for her. I don’t think she’s taking me seriously yet.”
“Well, she won’t until you two officially start dating.” Ethan pointed out.
“I’ve been inching towards asking her out. But again, the ‘happening-too-quickly’ factor is holding me back.”
“Well, so long as you hesitate, you can’t truly let her know what’s in your heart, and she won’t be certain whether to take you seriously or not.”
“She says she can only offer friendship at this point.” That has sort of been amplifying his hesitation. “I want more than friendship and don’t want to settle for less than I want.”
“And why should you?” Ethan set down his phone and adjusted on the armchair to fully face him. “You already know what is in your heart. It is your place to let her know and to seduce her heart into reciprocating that feeling.”
“Seduce?” Jeth’s mouth curved. “Isn’t that tampering with God’s law?”
“Not when the lover of our souls first seduces each and every one of our hearts.” Ethan grinned. “No one is a master in the seduction to win love like our God, of that you can be certain. He pursued the Israelites passionately, whenever they strayed, until their hearts and devotion were his again. And he pursued every prophet and apostle same way until all they thought of was of him. The Songs of Solomon aren’t the poetic words of a man and his female lover. It is the passionate love of the Creator for the ones he created.”
“Seduce her to reciprocate my feelings.” Jeth mulled over the thought. “Seduce… charm her heart to fall in love with mine.”
“There, you already grasped it.” Ethan gave a smiling nod of approval. “Seduce is not always synonymous to sex. What you are to do is lure her heart, not her body.”
“But the heart is the hardest to lure, isn’t it?”
“Not when the right words are said and the right things are done.”
Jeth looked at his older brother. “What do I do?”
“Ask her out. And don’t take no for an answer. “Ethan added in a firm voice.
SHILOH looked at the caller id and let out a half-hearted exasperated sigh. “Is this how you keep your promise of not hounding me with calls?”
“It can’t be hounding if the last time I called was over seven hours ago.”
She rolled her eyes at his laughing tone. “What do you want now, Jeth?”
“Come out with me. Let’s go see a movie. Or we could just perambulate the city of Port Harcourt doing nothing but watching people do their thing.”
Shiloh momentarily considered the teasing-voiced invitation. “I’m kind of busy at home.” She declined the invitation. “Saturdays are always busy for me all through. Told you that in the morning.”
“Okay. What are you doing now?”
“Doing now?” Shiloh cast a glance at the television. “Ah…”
“What channel are you on?”
It was NTA. And at the moment, they were boring her with three-man panel Sports analysis.
“What makes you think I am watching TV?” She countered, her mouth curving with a smile at his right guess.
“Stop answering my question with a counter question.”
“But you just did that.”
Her smile widened. His voice sort of went gruff when it was laughter-filled. And then, she liked it more.
“Did I?” Shiloh chuckled at her repeated counter question. “Well, maybe I did. Still, I am not in the mood to go out.”
“When will you be in the mood, tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow is Sunday and I prefer to stay indoors after church.” It was half truth, half lie. Lord have mercy on her flimsy excuses.
“I want to go out with you, Shiloh.” His voice took on a soft serious note. “I’d really like to. I want us to begin to know each other more.”
“Jeth, I already told you I am not interested in a relationship right now. I can only offer you my friendship.”
“And I accept it. But I want more.” There was a momentary pause. Then he added. “I have more to offer, Shiloh.”
Lord, surely those words were every girls’ dream? Still…
“I don’t know, Jeth. I think you are moving too fast. Way too fast for me.”
“I probably am because I’ve got feelings which are moving way too fast for me to slow them down.” The teasing note was back in his voice. “I am not going away, Shiloh. I am here to stay. And I apologise that I may be breaking my promise to you, because I plan on hounding you even more than I am doing now.”
“I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you with my number.” Shiloh grumbled and wished she was truly vexed.
He chuckled. “I would have resorted to hounding your office if you hadn’t. Anyway, I’m going to let you go back to your TV program but feel free to change your mind and call me up anytime. Talk later.”
“I wish you’d stop adding that.”
“All right. See you later.”
“You’re impossible.” Shiloh rolled her eyes and ended the call.
“I don’t see why you are refusing his invitation.” Joy said as she came through the door. “You’re not doing anything at home and with me going out, you’d be bored silly.”
“I don’t mind being bored silly, mum.” She wished her mother wouldn’t try to convince her. Her heart was shaky enough already. “It’s happened before.”
“Well, it doesn’t have to happen today.” Joy dismissed the stubborn excuse. “Just go out with the man and stop playing too hard to get.”
“Wow, I can’t believe my own mother is encouraging me to give myself cheaply. What has the world come to?” Shiloh maimed a shocked expression.
“It has come to mothers having to literally push their only daughters into doing what they ought to be sneaking off to do.” Joy retorted.
“Gosh, you two have one thing in common—being annoyingly persistent.” Shiloh laughed. Then grimaced. “I don’t know, mum. I don’t want to start anything that might end up with me getting hurt.”
“Avoiding to get hurt is same as avoiding to take chances and live your life fully, Shiloh.” Joy said softly. “You can’t go through life protecting your heart from pain because you’ve been hurt once. Love hurts. But love also heals. If you don’t allow another in, your broken heart will never be fully mended.”
“Oh God, see why I hate to listen to you?” Shiloh groaned.
“You love to listen to me.” Joy countered with a chuckle and headed towards the front door. “Call up that young man and go out like normal young people do. I want to hear all about it when I get back.” At the door, she turned and winked. “And don’t you do anything you can’t tell me about.”
“You mean I shouldn’t be having spirits and smoking cigars?”
Joy laughed. “Those too. See ya.” And she swept through the door.
Shiloh sighed deeply as the door shut after her. “Call him back? Right.”
She picked up her phone and dialled his number.
“I knew the day was coming when you’d miss my voice enough to want to hear it by initiating a call.” He said as soon as he picked the call.
“Now I’m almost tempted to drop the call.” Shiloh threatened.
“Please don’t. I was only indulging in a moment’s worth of wishful thinking.”
Shiloh chuckled. “I changed my mind.”
She pursed her lips. “Want me to change it again?”
“Shuo! Somebody cannot even play with you.”
Her laughter burst out at the silly colloquial phrase. “You are a menace. I want you to know that.”
“And I plan to be the rest of our lives if it makes you laugh like that.”
Her heartbeat involuntarily skipped. “Want my address?” Shiloh lightly queried.
“Holler it out.”
She gave it and then hung up after his promise to be at her place within the hour.
Did she want this? Shiloh asked herself as she walked into her bedroom. Was she ready for another leap into the love-gamble world?
Oh God, please lead the way this time. Let it be you leading me into the banquet hall. Let it be only your banner over me.
Dedication: For February celebrants. True and everlasting love is my prayer for you.
And for all lover of love.