Annabel chewed at her lower lip as she stared at what was left of her money, she gulped as her stomach growled in protests of hunger. It was getting dark and they hadn’t reached the bus park. Even if they had, she didn’t know the difference, this was her first time of coming to Lagos. She had just completed her Ordinary National Diploma Examination and staying in the village was pointless. She was on her way to see her eldest sister who lives in Lagos.
The bus pulled to the bus-top as Annabel struggled to get down amidst the bolstering of people around her, a man pushed while another tried squeezing his way through the small aisle of the bus. Eventually she alighted from the bus with her meagre luggage in tow. Glancing around nervously, she walked towards the gate of the park, taxi drivers and bike riders called but she didn’t look their way. She opened her clammy palms to reveal a crumpled piece of paper, she peeked at it again and sighed as she read her supposed address aloud for the umpteenth time.
’17 Ago Oke palace road Festac’.
She walked out of the bus park quickly, trying to locate a route which could lead to her destination. She walked for ten minutes trying desperately to avoid the cars and motor bikes on the Lagos road while she looked at the endless array of street signs. Tiring soon of walking aimlessly, she stopped at the side of the road and starred ahead as she tried hard to recall her father’s instructions.
‘When you get to the gate of the motor park, walk to your left then cross the road, you will see a big sign board advertising the popular Omo Detergent, stand beside the sign board and you will see a bus going to Festac, while you are in the bus, tell the driver to stop you at Ago Oke palace road. It is easy and you will not miss your way.’
As she stood at the side of the road presently, she doubted her father’s words, she had walked for more than ten minutes and haven’t found the Omo detergent sign board. She suspected that the billboard which advertised the detergent must have changed the brand to something else, besides her father’s last trip to Lagos was four years ago.
Her phone was tucked in her travel bag beneath her folded clothes for fear of being stolen by Lagos area boys thus she couldn’t make any calls. Her parents had told her to ask only a police man or a traffic warden and since she saw none, she was too scared to ask anyone. She had no options left but to stand at the side of the road and wait for a miracle, if any exists in Lagos.
Nathaniel sat behind his steering as he drove down the road, his loud speaker blared loudly and he swayed to the music. The headlights of his car had died almost immediately as he left his friend’s house that evening. Everything before him was a blur, he had drunk two bottles of French wine early that morning and it was still in his system. He peered at the road before him, trying desperately to see, he sighted a large port hole before him and swerved to the side of the road to avoid it when he hit something hard. His car stopped and he jumped out of his car door to see what it was.
Annabel was still looking for the Omo detergent billboard when she was hit hard and felt her body fall to the ground.
‘What do you mean by that?’ Nick screamed starring at his brother who cowered in fright.’
‘I am sorry… I never knew she was there… I was trying hard to avoid a port hole when I hit something soft, it hurts me that I almost killed a person.’ Stammered Nathaniel as he starred at his older brother in anguish.
Both men were similar in looks but had different build, Nathaniel was a feet shorter than his elder brother Nick. They both stood in Nick’s well furnished office on Victoria Island, Nick starred hard at his brother and asked.
‘Where is she now?’
‘That is the reason I came….’ Nathaniel started.
‘Was that my question?’ Nick shouted.
‘Emm…You know I told you that the accident happened two days ago…well…I mean…she is fine…but..’
Nathaniel started, shaking literally on his feet.
Nick starred at him again, his handsome face contorted in a deep frown.
‘She is at your house’. Blurted Nathaniel, flashing his teeth in an attempt to smile.
Nick advanced towards him in anger and grabbed him at the collar of his shirt.
‘I might kill you..you silly pig. How dare you bring an unknown woman into my house?’ Shouted Nick, the veins on his neck appearing in a thin line on his skin.
‘Well..what would you have me do? Throw her on the streets? She doesn’t even ..know her name.’ Choked Nathaniel.
‘She what?’ Asked a puzzled Nick who had released his brother from his grip obviously coming to terms with the fact that he couldn’t kill his brother despite his stupidity.
‘She has amnesia…she remembers nothing.’ Sighed Nathaniel wearily.
Nick opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again and screamed in fury picking up a water glass from his desk and hurling it against the wall.
Annabel wondered why the two men starred at her as though they have never seen her in their life.
‘Weren’t they her brother’s friends?’ She asked herself, basing her knowledge of the present with the details Nathaniel had supplied. She sat directly opposite them at the dinning table as she ate her food with much gusto. She looked around the house again and tried to remember something but nothing came. She stared at the elder of the two and smiled, blushing in the process, he was very handsome and intriguing, she was sure she must have liked him very much or how else could she explain the feelings in her lower abdomen?
‘Do you really mean you don’t remember anything?’ Nathaniel asked sweetly .
‘No…I don’t.’ She replied looking up at them.
The dinning chair scrapped the floor harshly as Nick got up from his chair and angrily walked away from the dinning room.
She was alarmed.
‘Did I do anything to make him angry?’ She asked Nathaniel.
‘Not at all, it must be something else. Please resume eating your food.’ Nathaniel assured her.
‘I am finding it hard finding any other clothes to wear, this is the only dress I have and I have worn it repeatedly.’
‘Well you brought no clothes with you when you came to spend the holiday with us. You were going home to get extra clothes before the accident.’ Answered Nathaniel.
She stopped talking and focused on the mouth watering dish before her.
Nick starred at the television as he lay on his bed, he tried hard to concentrate on the film but he kept seeing the face of the young lady in his house. She had stirred something deep within him. Tired of tossing aimlessly on his bed, he got up and went to the bathroom to wash his face, he had hardly turned on the tap when he heard a loud crash coming from the east side of his house. His head snapped up and he ran out of his room in search of the cause of chaos. He stopped his search at the kitchen as he saw the young lady that his brother had brought to his home on her kneels trying to pick up broken dishes, her hands bled and she hastily licked away the blood staining her finger tips. He hurried to her side and roughly pushed her away as he walked to the broom closet and brought out a broom and dust pan which he used in cleaning up.
Annabel stared at the ground blushing crimson, he disposed the ruined dishes and walked up to her, she lifted her face to look at him, her eyes widening as she saw pure desire written in his gaze, her pink tongue darted out to lick her parched lips.
His body hardened as sweat broke out through his skin, he felt his arousal push the soft cotton of his night short. Nick reached out for her, taking her hands in his and bringing them to his mouth, slowly he sucked each finger. Annabel gasped in pleasure at the feel of his warm mouth against her skin, she closed her eyes and sighed.
The sound from her lips jerked Nick back to his senses as he hastily dropped her hands and turning on his heels, he walked out of the kitchen.
She stared at him in wonder as her mouth parted in an O shape, disappointment written all over her face.
‘Sandra…hello…’ Cooed Nathaniel as he gently woke Annabel from slumber, she was lying on the sitting room sofa with her legs coiled beneath her. Her lashes fluttered open, she smiled, sat up and gave Nathaniel a hug.
‘Nathaniel…I thought I told you that my name isn’t Sandra.’ Annabel grumbled.
‘Have you forgotten that I am your brother’s closest friend? I have known you since your diaper days honey, you are Sandra.’ He persisted.
‘I don’t feel like a Sandra.’ She replied pouting.
‘Don’t make me laugh, I know its your name.’ After a short pause he continued.
‘ There is something I would like to share with you’.
Annabel smiled eagerly and listened to him.
Its Nick’s birthday on Friday and I planned a surprise party for him, I was wondering if you would like to be part of it.’ Asked Nathaniel.
‘What?’ She smiled with eyes glowing. ‘I would love that very much, there is nothing to do in this house except eat and sleep, when do we begin?’
‘Woa…hold on babe, you are too active. I just want to confirm if he is coming back from London on Friday as he planned…but that isn’t the reason I woke you up. There’s something special that I want you to do for me.’ He said smiling.
‘Really? What is it?’ She asked
‘It’s a secret.’ He answered and winked at her.
Nick opened the entrance door to his house, a frown settling on his face. The house was pitch black, his suitcase was clutched firmly in his hand and he said aloud.
‘Where is every one?’
His thoughts flew to Annabel and he banged the door shut, he was about to climb the stairs and go to her room to check up on her when the lights came on and he saw friends and well wishers jump out of their hiding places as they screamed.
His face broke into a huge smile, he shook hands and slapped backs, hugged and gave pecks as he greeted his friends who had come to celebrate his birthday with him. His brother walked up to him and hugged him. Nick dropped his suitcase on the floor as his eyes scanned the crowd for Annabel. She wasn’t amongst his well wishers, disappointment gnawed through him as he accepted a drink from one of his friends.
Nathaniel cleared his throat and spoke.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, a birthday is not complete without a cake. Could the waiters kindly push the cake forward?’
Everyone’s eyes widened in surprise as they screamed in delight and awe as the waiters pushed forward a ten foot cloth cake in a trolley, the supposed cake was a huge satin cloth material sewn to look more like a wedding cake than a birthday cake it’s background was white with blue flower patterns, at the edges were little sparkling Christmas lights, the creativity behind the cloth cake made Nick smile, he had never seen any like it before. The waiters placed the cake before him and everyone gathered around it. Nathaniel spoke.
‘Happy Birthday Nick.’
As soon as Nathaniel said those words, Annabel jumped out of the cloth cake dressed in a beautiful blue shimmering gown, to Nick’s surprise and to the utter astonishment of the guests present. Staring deeply into his eyes she smiled and said.
‘Happy Birthday Nick.’
A cheer broke out from the guests as they clapped their hands and cheered. Nick felt like the world’s burden had fallen from his shoulders, he moved towards her, picked her up in his arms and spun her round, stopping only to kiss her long and deep.
Annabel felt his lips on hers as she kissed him back, holding his head in her hands and not seeming to hear the cheers from the people around. She had dreamed of this, she never wanted it to end, his lips tasted as sweet as she had imagined, she slid her tongue deep into his mouth and he responded as he drunk greedily from her lips.
The party went on through the evening as guests were reluctant to take their leave and Nick was more reluctant to let go of Annabel. He held her waist protectively and smiled at her from time to time, hours later she felt tired and begged to go to the toilet to freshen up. On her way to the toilet, she heard Nathaniel discussing with his friend, she placed a smile on her lips and walked towards them but stopped as soon as she heard her name, Nathaniel was telling his friend all about her and the accident. Suddenly her memory came flooding back she blinked fast as tears flowed
Two days later, Annabel moped the hard floor of the kitchen bruising her palms in the process. Her sister was peeling potatoes at the kitchen sink while her children were running round the house. Suddenly one of her nieces ran into the kitchen shouting at the top of her lungs.
‘Mummy aunty Annabel is on television.’
Her sister looked puzzled and ran into the sitting room, Annabel dropped her cleaning rag and followed. On the television screen was her picture, a snapshot of her taken from Nick’s birthday party. Under the picture was inscribed. ‘Missing Person.’ Her sister looked at her in query and she began to explain.
Nick sat behind his desk as he starred at the framed picture of Annabel starring back at him. He scratched his head in fury;
‘Where could she be?’ He asked himself.
His phone rang as his secretary informed him that someone waited to see him, he told her to let the person in.
One minute later, his door opens and Annabel stands there starring at him. He gets up from his seat as one in a dream and walks towards her, when he gets close to her she chokes on these words.
He touched her face with all the tenderness he felt and said.
‘I don’t need an explanation…I need you.’
With that, he bent his head and his lips met hers.
Name: ADAEZE IBECHUKWU OSUIZUGBE.
Country of Residence: Nigeria
Adaeze also known as deedee by family and close friends loves imaginative writing. It is the ability to imagine that makes it possible for her to write, reading romance novels has also played a big part in helping her write love stories.