” Grizzy…what’s wrong? ” Her Petit mother asked for the umpteenth time with a worried look on her wrinkled face.
” I love him so much,mom. But he doesn’t feel the same way about me..he abandoned me at the Marina. ” She sulked to her mother and clutched her pink teddy bear closely to her chest.
” Are you sure? Maybe his parents called him,there must be an explanation for his actions. Have you called him since then? ”
” No..he should be the one to make the call. He messed up. ”
” I know my dear..but you need to cheer up.. I’ll speak to Mrs Akinwale later on. Its past 1 a.m,you should be in bed. Should I tuck you in?”
Their door bell buzzed just as Griselda was about to reply her mother. Mrs Ayobami wondered whom it was at that time of the day,and went to get the door whilst her daughter tried dialling Mark’s number;it was switched off. She wondered whom the visitor was,and frowned when she heard the baritone of a male voice,she hoped it wasn’t one of her nosy uncles and pretended to be fast asleep.
” I’m sorry for barging in at this time of the day. I was just informed of your arrival,and…. ” Nick spoke with a bright smile.
” And? Is that all? ” Griselda asked after posing with her hand on her hips
” I love you… I always have..I can’t live without you.. You don’t deserve Mark,he’s a foolish play boy who doesn’t know what he wants. ” He spoke convincingly.
” Okay okay…. Are you really a blogger? Did you really win that lifestyle award?”
” Yes, I am…and, Yes I did. Gulity as charged” He answered with a cocky grin.
” Then… Yes! I love you too.”. She hugged him tightly and pecked both sides of his cheek.
Mrs Ayobami stared on in dismay and wondered when her daughter would finally grow up. Nick on the other hand,was glad that he had finally won the prize he had been longing for. He rushed over to Griselda’s place when he was informed of Mark’s health condition,and was planning on playing the role of a friend with a listening ear for the damsel in distress. He was glad to find out that the damsel was really not in distress,and was rather ignorant of her ‘boyfriend’s’ state.
It was two weeks after the incident at the Marina,and Mark had just gotten discharged from the clinic. Tera had paid him visits with her family on several occasions,but never alone,for very obvious reasons. She hadn’t informed her parents of Dozie’s involvement in the incident,and was most grateful that Mrs Akinwale hadn’t either.
” Dozie,you need to apologise to him. You owe him an apology. ” She explained to him with a frown spread across her face. She hadn’t seen him since the incident,and all attempts made to contact him were to no avail.
” I don’t need to..I’ve sent him a text already,isn’t that enough? I don’t have time for this, Tera. My flight leaves in 2 hours. He responded and lifted some of his clothes from the wardrobe.
” Please.. His parents have threatened to press charges.. You need to apologise,its the right thing to do. ”
” Hmmmm….if you had told me you were in love with him, I wouldn’t have raised a finger against him. Why didn’t you inform me? ”
” Love? I’m not. We’re. best friends..or better still,we were. Wasn’t that exactly what I told you? Why are you jumping into conclusions? ”
” I can see it in your eyes, Tera. You two need to grow up and be sincere with one another. You’re obviously hurting,you almost cried your eyes out when I hit him with my fist. I
knew he wasn’t a thief but I didn’t want to stop. That’s what he gets for being so immature. ”
” You’re evil… ” She added with a frown which eventually dissipated into a chuckle.
Mark was taking a nap in his room when Richie heard a knock at his door; it was Tera,and she was with Dozie. A smile lit up his face as he tapped his brother’s arm when they offered to come back later; he knew Mark would be more than willing to see Tera,and wondered who Dozie was. He looked much more lively than he once was; he was clad in a white,woolen sweater with a pair of pencil trousers,and blue socks-the cold weather was getting through to his feet.
” What? Why is he here? ” Mark asked Tera with a startling expression as he maintained an upright,sitting position.
” I’m sorry.. He wants to apologise. Please hear him out. ” She pleaded with a hand to his wrist.
” Okay…I’m all ears.Wait… Where are you off to? ” He enquired as Tera walked towards the door.
” I’m still here.. Don’t panic…Just trying to give you guys some space to talk. ” She responded with a blush spread across her face. She was glad to find out that he didn’t want her to leave,and headed over to the garden for a chat with Richie.
” If you love her,then you should let her know.. She’s an amazing lady,and believe me,if she slips off your hand for the second time,I wouldn’t hesitate to sweep her off her feet. Take care. ” Dozie added after expressing his heartfelt apology to Mark. The convalescent was about to respond when Dozie added the sucker punch. He let out a silent ” Thank You ” from his lips in response.
Tera walked in to see Mark who was earnestly trying to coin up a speech. She looked plain and weary. Her natural hair was packed into a loose bun,and her blue knee-length doll dress was of the same shade with her spectacle’s handles. She hadn’t bothered to put on a pair of earrings or ever apply make up; All she was concerned about was Mark and his well being. She was so bent on seeing him that she rushed over to Dozie’s home without scrutinizing her reflection in the mirror as usual.He still made her heart race,and her palms felt sweatier than usual. She cleared her throat hastily as she avoided his gaze after sitting on his bed; she didn’t want to sit next to him on the sofa. She just couldn’t stand such proximity.
” Have you taken your drugs? I was informed that you have drugs to take by 12. ”
” Yes, I have.Tell your friend not to get his feathers rustled. Mrs Akinwale won’t press any charges,I pleaded with her yesterday. So glad she only heard half of the story ” He pulled off his green watch after responding. He had worn it because he wanted to rush to the barbing salon. His hair had grown quite full in the past couple of weeks and he felt it made him look shaggy.
” I’m sorry, Mark. Please forgive me. ”
” For ? ”
” Everything. Dozie… ”
” Has already apologised. ” He chipped in.
” That night in the car. ”
” Was the best night of my life. ”
” Don’t lie to me,stop trying to make me believe a lie. I can see right through your facade. You’re only saying that because you think that’s what I want to hear. ” She shot at him with glassy eyes as she turned to face him.
” I’m not… I can’t fool you. You’re ….. ”
” Not important? Clumsy,fat,stupid and weird? Do you need me to go on? I can’t keep doing this..you need to stop messing with me. ”
” Will you just listen to me for five minutes?I think I deserve that from you..or,don’t I? ”
” I owe you nothing, Mr Luminous.. Nothing! Go and meet your endless chain of girlfriends.. They should be able to give you more than you deserve. ” A cold expression plastered across her face as she spoke. Tera knew she had to leave immediately,else she would literally explode. She was about to twist the door knob when she felt his hand on shoulder. She looked towards the door,and then at him. The sound of his heavy breathing got her concerned,she maintained her gaze on him with darting eyes.
Tera would never have rightly predicted Mark’s move at that moment. The young man wrapped his arms around her neck and claimed her mouth softly with his; images of their memorable night in the car ran through Tera’s mind as her lips worked with his. She wanted to stop,but she couldn’t . This felt a lot more different from that of the previous night. It was softer,yet more intense and passionate. He freed his lips from hers the minute she closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his neck.
” Is that what mistakes feel like? ”
” I don’t know..I’m just very certain that this can’t be. ” He lifted his hand to her upper lip and brushed off the tear which was headed for her lower lip before replying.
” I love you. I know I’ve been acting like a jerk…I guess its cause I blamed myself for what happened that night and hoped that a bit of distance would help me forget my mistakes,and also shield you from my emotional instability. But every inch I took farther away from you brought more memories to my mind. Nothing has been able to keep my mind off you,not even music or movies or …. ”
” Other girls? ” Her eyes flickered.
” There’s been no one but you…ever since that night I’ve….been unable to commit to any female.That kiss at the concert meant nothing,I just did that to make you back off. I wanted you to regard that night as a mistake.Griselda forcefully kissed me once,but I ended up calling out your name in the process. I’m in love with you. I can’t….. ” He got down on his knees before completing his statement.
” Move on without you. I promise not to hurt you anymore. I love every inch and bit of you…I remember how you got suspended in junior high because you went out of your way to protect me from those bullies who always picked on me and called me a wimp. I’ve grown so accustomed to your clumsiness that I now think its absolutely kind of cute,and how your facial expression reminds me of the angry bird icon…how you scratch your hair when you’re nervous,and bite your lips when you’re trying to get rid of special memories of me….I love that you’ve metamorphosed into an intellectual giant through your determination and focus..who would have thought that ‘ dumb ‘ Tera could ever become a B student in Architecture? I know you love me.. But, does my teddy bear ninja wish to commit her heart to me? Should we give this a try? ”
” Please rise up…. Your temperature. ” She insisted and dragged him up. Her lips instantly got hooked to his the moment he rose to his feet.She leaned towards him,lips parted.
” Yes.. Yes.. Yes..Please don’t let go of me now..I want to cherish every bit of this moment ” She whispered hastily and shut her eyes once more with her arms wrapped around his neck as her lips got entangled with his once more.