He’d been absentminded since he arrived the house. He’d been attentive enough whilst her parents and younger brother were around, but even then she’d perceived the distance in his eyes. That distance was now more evident. He hadn’t said a word in the last fifteen minutes and he wasn’t really reading the Sports magazine in his hands.
What could be wrong? Sharon frowned. Was it business related? She didn’t think so. He had spoken eagerly and with barely-suppressed pride about his new hotel whilst he and her father had been talking. If it wasn’t business, then it had to be personal.
Something to do with a lady? Sharon quickly shut off that thought. Not only did she not care to give room to mistrusts in a relationship, it was unthinkable… unbelievable that Tim would be involved with other woman. He was a good man. He wasn’t perfect or infallible, but he was honest, straightforward and God-fearing. She wasn’t naïve enough to believe in today’s interpretation for God-fearing, which usually meant active in church and church’s program. No, for her, God-fearing meant being a good Christian. Living one’s life by the standards of Jesus Christ and his teachings. And Tim strove to do that. He didn’t even believe in sex before marriage. He’d told her that he’d earlier lived a reckless life until he found Christ eighteen months ago whilst still in the UK and then everything had changed for him. When she’d told him she was still a virgin, he’d been overjoyed and had said that God indeed had sent him his wife.
She’d only known him for about ten months now. They’d met at a church in Woolwich whilst she was still there for her Master’s program. She’d been instantly attracted to him—something that had never happened to her in her twenty-five years on Earth. Not only was he quite handsome in his near six-feet, dark and leanly-strapping build but he’d had a rare baritone voice as he testified with a song of worship. Since church members were encouraged to introduce themselves and familiarise, it had been easy to walk up to him and commend him on his singing. And that was how they’d started, right from that church, they’d become friends and in a matter of weeks, they’d started dating.
She’d returned to Nigeria four months later but the distance seemed only to make their relationship wax stronger. Two months later, he’d visited Nigeria and had insisted on meeting her family. Same day, she introduced him to her parents and her brother, he’d proposed to her right in front of her parents, kneeling on both knees. He’d commenced the building of his hotel before returning to the UK. And just about seven weeks ago he’d returned fully to Nigeria, spent a week or so in Lagos before coming back to fully reside at Asaba. And they’d quickly fixed their traditional marriage ceremony and white wedding for May this year.
He wasn’t perfect as he could sometimes come off as too cocky and bragging particularly when he talked about his successes but Tim wasn’t the kind of man to cheat on his woman. He’d never given her cause to doubt his love and fidelity and she had no reason to now. Of course a woman unconsciously panicked when she saw her man with another woman—like she’d done on Saturday when she’d been peeking into the phone store and found him chatting with the curvy-built lady. But that had been reflex… knee-jerk reaction.
Sharon wiped off her frown and rebalancing the white melamine tray on her hands, she stepped away from the kitchen door and walked into their rather large and contemporary-furnished living room.
“Hey you, what’s with the teeny-weeny wrinkles on the forehead?” She said in a teasing voice as she set the tray on a stool. “Is it the increasing rise of foreign exchange or the fall of oil price, which one is responsible for creasing up my Adonis’ face?”
Tim turned to her with a smile. “All and none of the above.” He dropped the magazine and reached for her hand. “Forgive me, I’ve been distracted. I bet you noticed.”
His cheerful smile nudged aside whatever worries lingered. “As your wife-to-be and the woman who loves you like no other, I sure did notice. So, what’s the deal? Something happened?”
“Nothing that you need worry yourself about.” Tim raised her hand to his chest and held it there. “Well, frankly, I think our wedding is suddenly looking too far away for me. I think that being around you all the time once again is making me wish we’d chosen a closer date.”
“Aw, come on, May is just four months away.” Sharon leaned her head closer and gave him a light kiss on the lips. “I know waiting can be hard, especially when you get to be with the one you love and can’t really let go. I feel impatient too, you know. I can’t wait to be your wife and to be completely yours.”
“I can’t wait to make you mine.” Tim pulled her to him and gently kissed her. He was sorely tempted to do more. Gosh, he was dying to do more than just kiss her. His body was beginning to crave fulfilment but his heart, his head knew that he couldn’t allow a momentary lust to ruin his new life… or his relationship with Sharon. “Anyway, with the building of the restaurant and fast food, I am going to be too preoccupied to be indulging in naughty thoughts, so no worrying about me.”
“That is good. Nothing like work, work, work to keep our minds off our little temptations.” Sharon gave him another light kiss, then pushed out of his arms and picked up the tray. “Now, why don’t you try these meaty-filling Shawarma I made? Mum said the filling was too much, but I think that is what makes it distinctive.”
“Let your man give his verdict then.” Tim grinned and lifted one large oven-brown shawarma and bit into it. He chewed slowly and then pursed his mouth in contemplation. “Meaty… but not too much since your man loves meat, in all in varieties. A whole lot. But it could do with a pinch of less salt though. You got four months to master that little art of knowing the right amount of salt ’cause Timmy ol’ boy hates, and with unbearable loathsomeness, the awful tangy taste of over-salted, capiche?”
“Capiche.” Sharon repeated, laughing.
Mondays were always tedious whatever the kind of job or the profession you were in, that was Benny’s opinion. But Mondays after a weekend with your fiancée—your sweet, gorgeous fiancée—were less tedious and less monotonous. That was also Benny’s opinion and as he walked into his office after his ward-rounds, he felt the tug of still-there undercurrent exhilaration of a weekend spent in love. He’d almost broken their rule of never sleeping over on Sundays or weekdays after their dinner date last night. But Nora, naughty as she can be sometimes, was a tough-nut when set rules were concerned.
Benny dropped his stethoscope on the case-files covered desk and sat down. He was about to pull out his phone to send her a text when the knock on his door came.
“Come in.” He called, setting down the phone.
It was Dr Nengi Toby-Koko, a house-officer who worked in his team. Benny sighed as he blanked his eyes. “Yes, Doctor?”
Nengi slowly walked her ample-breasted, narrow-waist, perky-jutted backside body-frame into the office and stopped right beside his desk. She’d considered herself the luckiest house-officer in the entire hospital when she’d been assigned to work with Dr Bennett Kachi-Williams. Not only was he a brilliant OB-GYN, he was considered the hottest single doctor in the hospital and she wanted him. Oh yes, she wanted him in her bed… or in his bed… either way worked as long as she got a taste of him.
“New patient.” She extended the file and grinned when he accepted the file with a frown. “You shouldn’t scowl so, it doesn’t fit your handsome face.”
Benny ignored the comment as he perused the file. As usual, she’d painstakingly done her job, asked the right questions and entered in the answers into the right columns. Nengi Toby-Koko could never be faulted for negligence of duty. She was hardworking, punctual and thorough. She was also the daughter of the hospital’s Chief Medical Director. And that meant she could pull a few strings as to which department she preferred to work and which Consultant’s team. Benny knew she’d used daddy’s-power to keep her place in his team even though most of her colleagues had been switched at least once.
“You may come in with her.” He said now, shutting the file.
“Did you get my message yesterday?” Nengi slid into the stack chair in front of his desk instead of moving to obey his order. “I got a delivery report but no response from you.”
“I did. And I will prefer that you stop sending me text messages.” Benny felt the rise of irritation. “Not only am I your superior and any relationship between us will be inappropriate, I am engaged to be married in April.”
“I disagree that a relationship between us will be inappropriate. Doctors fall in love all the time and get married.” Nengi sent him a twinkling smile. “This could be our case if you just give it a chance.”
“Do you ever hear the part that I am engaged and soon to be married?” Benny wondered why she was so persistent. It wasn’t as if he was the only single male doctor or consultant in the hospital.
“I hear it but I believe until the knot is tied, the rope is still loose… so to speak.” Nengi leaned forward. “Most girls share this believe these days, you know. Ever heard them counselling each other never to lay their eggs in one basket?” When he only scowled, she chuckled. “I see you have. I bet your wife-to-be swears by that maxim.”
“No, she doesn’t.” Benny retorted, looking away from the popping-out cleavage. “Now, get up and do your job. And I demand that you keep it professional between us from now onwards or I’ll be forced to make a formal complaint against your conduct.”
Nengi wasn’t threatened or afraid, but she rose to her feet all the same. She didn’t really want Bennett Kachi-Williams, not for keeps anyway; she wasn’t ready for ever-after relationships. She only wanted sex from him. He possessed the strong looks of a man who will know how to satisfy a woman with his tight, muscle-bound build.
“No need to go mean-superior on me, sir.” She gave him an easy smile. “It’s the twenty-first century, you know. Ladies are allowed to own their attraction and desire. Besides, I am not looking to break up your relationship with lucky wife-to-be, uh-uh.” She shook her heard gaily. “I only want a microscopic taste of you. Just a minuscule bite… nothing major. A tiny bite and I’d be satisfied and will never again trouble you. What do ya say, doc? Tiny bites aren’t dangerous to our health, are they?”
Benny didn’t know if he was irritated or exasperated now, but he was certain he didn’t want to bite. Not even when the object to be bitten was subtly tempting. “It depends on what you are biting, Dr Toby-Koko. And if nothing else, they can be dangerous for our consciences. Send in my patient, please.”
“Playing-hard-to-get doctor, I’m intrigued afresh.” Nengi winked before turning to jiggle her perky hips out of the office.
Benny blew out a long breath the second the door shut after her. He so hated when ladies came onto him and he hated more when his treacherous body reacted to their weapons-of-attack. He slightly heaved up his body and adjusted his trousers, drowning the little rise inside. Weak-minded creature, he silently cursed it. Then cursed himself because he figured he was the one who was weak-minded for reacting to sultrily displayed smooth, supple, fair cleavage.
Tim knew he shouldn’t be there. He knew he shouldn’t be driving through the gates of the bank when he had no business inside of it. No sane, defensible business. But he couldn’t stop himself driving past the saluting security-guard just as he couldn’t stop himself from leaving his office at the hotel when thoughts of her had won over sanity.
Tim switched off the engine and inhaled deeply. He could still stop himself. He still had the chance to turn the engine back on and drive out of the bank’s parking lot. No one would question him, no one would demand why he’d wasted time driving in if he knew he had nothing to do inside the banking hall.
He inhaled again to quell the little tremors that accompanied his guilt-tripping conscience. God, he’d thought he’d forgotten all about her. Good heavens, he’d forgotten everything about her until he stopped in front of her desk last Friday and had looked down into her face! That singular look at her still flawless caramel-skinned pretty face with its supple, pouty lips, bright twinkling dark-brown eyes and snub, pert-sized nose had sent memories long-buried flooding back into his mind.
But it hadn’t been memories alone that had come flooding back, long-forgotten emotions too had come with recollection. She had been the girl he couldn’t do without longer than day at a time. He had been crazy about her. It hadn’t been love… not in the devoted, tender, fond manner he felt it for Sharon. No, he hadn’t been in-love with Nora but he’d been crazy about her. He had found her irresistible from the get-go and he had wanted her to be his. She had—still had as he found on Saturday at the Konwea Plaza—a body that can send any sane-thinking man wild. And when he’d finally gotten a chance to touch that body, three months after meeting her, he’d discovered that she drove a man even twice as wild with the uninhibited things she could do in bed. Their love-life had been wild and he’d found it hard getting enough of her. He hadn’t wanted to leave her… never thought that he could leave her. But the chance to travel to the UK had unexpectedly come and he’d been too self-centred to do anything else but just dump her out-rightly and gone ahead for his trip.
He’d missed her—missed their passionate, erotic times together—the first couple of months. But soon, the memory of her had started to dim as he dated other ladies and drowned himself in work. Then he’d encountered Christ at a church program a friend had invited him to and that had changed things completely. Of course, not right away as he had struggled with sexual temptations for a long while after until he’d learned to curb his desires and restrain himself. Meeting Sharon, getting to know her and falling in love with her innocence and generosity had strengthened that resolve to stay off sex until marriage.
That was until he’d walked into a bank’s branch and saw again Nora Ezenyere. That was until he’d walked into a phone store and noticed her shapely, tempting form in front of a phone-display shelf.
Tim inhaled again and pushed open the door of his Ford Escape. He was there already and he might as well see her. Maybe another look at her and a reminder that she was engaged, as he was, would reset his scattered brain. He got down, tugged in place the blazer he’d worn over his dark chinos and short-sleeved shirt and started towards the bank building.
He stood behind a pillar and waited for her to finish with the only customer in front of her desk before making his way steadily to her desk. “Hi, Nora.” He greeted in a soft-toned voice, loosely admiring her light-grey pin-striped suit.
Nora flung up her head at the deep, quiet voice. “What are you doing here?” She demanded with a quick frown, forgetting where she was. A subtle clearing of the throat from Maureen reminded her, so she plastered on her professional smile and amended. “Good afternoon, sir. Is there anything I can help you with?”
The polite smile and disinterested tone made Tim smile. He preferred the heated tone she’d used at first though. “I suppose coming over during your working hours was inappropriate. I would have called if I had your number instead of just turning up.”
“It will be inappropriate whatever the time you come over, Timothy.” Nora kept her tone low and polite. “That is of course unless you have a banking related reason to be here.”
“Frankly, I don’t.” Tim wished they were alone instead of inside the teeming bank hall. And because he hated to be nervous, he tossed some airiness into his voice. “Anyway, I was just around the corner and I remembered you work here, so decided to drop in to say hi.”
“Really?” Nora didn’t believe him. And she hated that he was looking so smug and self-contained. “Nice of you but absolutely unnecessary. Still, thanks all the same and if that is all, I’d like to get back to work.”
Tim felt the tug of annoyance at her dismissive tone but he couldn’t blame her. “Okay. But may I have your number, please? I’m sure there won’t be any problem with us keeping in touch as old friends.”
“We are not friends, Tim. Old ones or new. You belong in my past and quite frankly, I’d sooner you remain there.” Nora spoke through gritted teeth, struggling with the temptation to snarl loudly. “Now if you….”
“I can’t stop thinking about you, Nora.” The confession spluttered out of him. And shocked both of them at the same time given the quick widening of her eyes. And obviously, her colleague at the desk close by had heard as she cleared her throat again. Tim knew he couldn’t withdraw his statement. He didn’t want to either. It was the truth and he knew he couldn’t escape from it. “I know I have no right to but I can’t help myself.” He crunched a little over her desk. “You’ve been on my mind since Friday, Nora.”
“Please step back from the table, sir.” Nora didn’t know how she managed to keep her voice calm and steady. “If there is nothing else we can do for you, sir, then I’ll have to thank you for banking with us and wish you a good day.” Her eyes ordered him to leave.
Tim knew when he’d been thoroughly dismissed. He stepped back. “Thank you, Nora.” Stiffly holding onto his shattered pride, he walked out of the banking hall.
“Who the heck is that man?” Maureen had tipped closer her chair and was watching her with puzzled curious eyes.
Nora let out a sigh. More to calm her jumping nerves than to express weariness or exasperation at Maureen’s nosiness. “Timothy Kalio, biggest asshole this side of the Niger bridge.”
Maureen chuckled. “I don’t need an oracle to tell me he’s an ex. What a jerk!” She added with a low hiss. “I can’t stop thinking about you indeed… as if you send am.” She hissed again. “I like the way you dismiss im sorry-ass jor. Loser!”
Nora smiled. She couldn’t help it. “I wish you had said that to his hearing. It would have taken him down a peg or two.”
“I just might if he dares return. Losers always thinking they can waste a sister’s time twice. Yeye dey smell!” Maureen gave her hand a soothing rub. “Just forget him jor.”
Nora let out a snort. “Yesterday’s piece of trash? He’s buried and forgotten.”
But as they both went back to work, she wondered why her mind recalled his words and pondered on them.