9. The Game Takes Turn…by David
Iphey got home early from work and dressed to go to her sister‟s house. She had had a fair enough day but wasn‟t to be pushed…she was almost at her limit.
Her mom had been in Lagos for the past couple of weeks.
Though their mother was staying with Ngozi to help take care of Obi, her presence still weighed heavy on Iphey. The bright side was that her nephew had been released from the hospital two days ago. They had all been surprised, considering his still weakened condition but the doctors said he was stable and would bounce back faster at home.
“Mum, how can you have a party for Ngozi and Obi? Shouldn‟t they be resting and besides, how come I’m just finding out about the party?” Iphey recalled her conversation with her mum just last night.
“My daughter, I‟m sorry but seeing as you are a very busy lady, I didn‟t want to stress you more than you are. I know the few times you could come to the hospital. This is also my send off, I’m returning to Port Harcourt on Sunday.”
That was the only excuse she got from her mom. An excuse that raised suspicions that didn‟t sit well in her stomach. Though her attempts to find out who the other guests were from her mom seemed futile, she was so relieved her mum was finally leaving that she let it slide. Her mum had visited her office twice and she’d also caught her going through her phone. Iphey was beginning to feel like a third wheel with her colleagues and friends where her mum was concerned.
Oh well, she didn’t want to overdress so she wore a pink, light sweater on a faded, deep blue jeans and a black, sleeveless leather jacket over that. She wore no make-up that evening. Looking into the mirror to make sure that her curves were not too pronounced, she stepped out of her apartment.
Chinedu parked his car on the street his heart beating a little bit faster. He had taken a chance to accept the invitation from Iphey’s mother. He and her daughter had not spoken in nearly a week. Aisha had asked what he did since Iphey didn’t want to talk about him though she had tried several times to find out what was happening. He was of half a mind to give up but something told him not to.
He had never had it this difficult with a girl. He had the looks, the money, and the charisma. She was different…he suspected that she was not swayed by frivolities but was more interested in his personality. If so, he‟ll take things slow.
He walked into the house and saw other guests that had been invited, holding drinks and making conversation. He scanned for Habib but first found Aisha and her husband in a corner of the room with the lady who most definitely made his heart stop. ONLY ONE WOMAN MADE HIM FEEL THIS WAY! He took charge of him emotions, mustered a bland expression and walked up to them. Before he got there something unexpected happened.
A tall, well dressed man joined the group, greeted them and hugged Iphey with familiarity. Even Chinedu couldn‟t deny that this new man was very attractive and he looked like he‟s got money as well. He felt a stab in his chest and his face betrayed his cool demeanor. He was full of jealousy in a way he had never been, especially as the stranger’s hand was still resting on her hips.
“It‟s not that she‟s my lady but I know I can‟t stand her with another man…” A voice broke into his thoughts. It was Habib, “Why you stand here, come on…”
Chinedu walked with him to say a very brief hi to everyone. He saw an expression of guilt on Iphey‟s face…this made him a little happy. He walked away after a muttered excuse to get a drink.
“Chinedu, Chinedu…hold on. Stop! Please…” Ipey called out. She had left the man she was with and came after him. He smiled.
He turned around so suddenly that she ran into him and almost fell. He caught her on impulse and held her close. His heart raced and seemed to beat twice as fast. He looked into her eyes as the adrenaline pumped through his veins…and drowned in the beauty before him. A thousand years could have passed and he would not have traded that moment for anything. He stood there oblivious to his surroundings and wondered what was going on in her head. He wanted to know.
Without warning, she kissed him. For a second, he thought he was dreaming, only to realize that it was for real. She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek but he remained tense and unyielding. Although he wanted nothing more than to fold her close he still smarted from the jealousy she had stirred in him. He pulled away and watched as she looked at him in disbelief.
“What was that about?” he asked.
“I wanted to say welcome and thanks for coming…” He could see she was embarrassed by his aloofness and didn‟t know what to say. She followed the direction of his gaze and gripped his arm. “I know what you’re thinking but trust me, he’s not…”
Cutting her short, “What does that have to do with me? Why should I care? At least you‟ve made it clear that you want nothing to do with an ex-armed robber. Now I know why you refused to hear the circumstances that led me down that path…”
He smiled without mirth, “Well I came on your mother’s invitation, so I‟ll go greet her and your sister and be out of here…let’s just say my eyes are now opened.”
With that…he walked away, leaving her transfixed and at loss of what just happened.
10: Match-making Mother….by Leggy
Chinedu stalked out of the party looking really mad. He couldn’t even bear to face Iphey’s mum and sister, he was that angry but confused at the same time. There was just a way that man hugged her with so much familiarity that he didn‟t like, granted he had no reason to be mad. He wasn‟t anything to her, not her boyfriend, not her brother, not even her friend, no matter how much he wanted to be the first.
Chinedu got into his car and drove out of the parking lot into the dim lit streets, easily manipulating the steering of his brand new Porsche Carrera GT. What didn‟t he have that Iphey could possibly want in a guy? He was handsome-going by what other girls said to him, he was rich, he had his own company, and he was living the good life. He had paid for his mistakes over and over again; he deserved to be happy now without the shadow of a terrible mistake of his youthful days crowding his life. An occupation that didn‟t even last that long and one in which he was pushed into by necessity.
He had to admit that Iphey looked really good in those clothes, very casual, not even a bit of make up on that face and she still looked so good. After watching her sleep in her apartment on the day of her sister‟s son‟s crisis, his feeling that they had a connection had become stronger. She had tried to apologize before he left and he kept expecting her call or something. After over a week and he had not heard from her, he had accepted her mother‟s invitation to come for the party. He had been hoping that Iphey secretly knew about the invitation and really wanted to him to come. If wishes were horses….
But why exactly am I mad? He thought to himself, she kissed me, she left him and she kissed me, he might be whatever to her but it was me she chose to kiss. So why exactly am I angry?
The truth was that he felt he was getting so fed up with her games, fed up with wondering- does she like me? Always asking himself, Is she just fronting? Is she like all those other girls?
He gently drove into his drive way and got out of the car, picked up his coat and phone from the backseat of the car and walked into his house. As he undressed slowly he thought back at the events of that night, the taste of her lips still lingered on his lips, he liked Iphey with all his heart but he felt like he was being manipulated, being tested, she kept opening up to him and withdrawing. Maybe she doesn‟t even like men, he thought and as that crossed his mind he smiled, okay he was going crazy.
He stepped into his pajamas, picked up his phone and called her mum. After the fourth ring she picked up and yelled „hello‟ into the phone, it was really loud in there.
“Good evening ma,” he responded.
“Hey, my son, I heard you left, you didn‟t even think to come say goodnight to us?”
“Ah ah mama, it‟s not like that now. There was an emergency in the office I had to attend to, all these newbies in the office always messing up one file or the other.” he answered. A little white lie couldn‟t hurt, he thought.
“And they had to call the CEO to attend to such details on a Friday evening too? No problem my son, at least you thought to call. So is Iphey with you? I can‟t find her anywhere around here and she isn‟t picking up her phone.” Iphey’s mother sounded a little worried.
“No, ma,” he replied. “When I was leaving she was still there. I‟ll try and track her down for you and get back to you on her whereabouts, she‟s probably somewhere around there and can‟t hear her phone ring because of the loud music.” Or maybe she has gone off with the other guy an inner voice taunted him.
“I hope so oh. I assumed that you both went off together, you know I saw you both.” She laughed, ‘well, call me when you speak to her oh. I’m just a little worried because the last time I saw her she looked upset.”
“I think I upset her by coming without her knowledge, there was another guy…”
“Rubbish, of course that’s not true. That guy works at her office that’s all, he’s still here.”
“OK no problem, ma. I‟ll call her right away. Bye bye ma,” he replied, not in the least bit relieved and even a little worried.
“Bye bye my son” she answered back.
As Iphey‟s mother closed her phone, she smiled cunningly to Iphey‟s sister, Ngozi who looked at her with a mixture of a frown and a smile.
“Iphey is going to kill you if she finds out you are meddling in her personal business. Just because you were right about James and I getting together doesn‟t
mean you should consider yourself a matchmaker. Remember that we still don’t know whether he only missing or he’s deserted me,” she said.
“I’m sure James will still come back. Isn’t Obi back home after what the doctors said? Trust me on this, I’m still the very good and wise mother who married you off single handedly. As for Iphey, she is being too much of a fool and I can‟t just stand by and let her send this nice Chinedu away like all the others.”
She smiled at Iphey who stood quietly with her colleagues looking sad and annoyed at the same time. Iphey’s mum turned and winked at Ngozi; she could already hear the wedding bells ringing.