Tunde’s gentle smile remained on Anaya’s mind throughout the next few days and she couldn’t complain. Since he would be out of town for the next week on a business seminar, Tunde asked to meet with her the weekend he returned. “I’ll be waiting, pretty girl…” he said with that devastating smile of his before squeezing her hand on his way out.

Anaya shook her head to clear her thoughts, although there was a resident smile on her lips as she pushed open the classroom door and started down the hallway. She waved at two classmates on her way up the stairwell.

“Excuse me,” a female voice behind her echoed in the open stairwell.

Pausing in her step, Anaya peered over her shoulder, spotting a slender woman clad in a white doctor’s coat and her honey-colored hair slicked back in a resourceful ponytail. Anaya had never met her before. Her brow furrowed as she turned to the light-skinned woman who now made her way up to meet her.

The woman’s light brown eyes skimmed over Anaya even as she approached her. “Are you Anaya?”

“I am…” she answered hesitantly, tightening her grip on her bag strap.

Then the woman smiled, stopping right beside Anaya. “I’m Felicia Brooks.” She extended out a hand. “I’m Tunde’s friend.”

Anaya’s heart slammed against her chest as she stared at this woman. Willowy and strikingly beautiful. The way she emphasized her relationship with Tunde, Anaya couldn’t help but stiffen up.

One dark shapely brow rose when Anaya still hadn’t accepted her hand. Her lips curled up and she showed off her brilliant pearly whites. “More specifically, I’m his younger brother’s girlfriend.”

Like a needle popping a balloon, Anaya felt the air whoosh out of her lungs in relief. She readily took Felicia’s hand, much to the woman’s open amusement.

Felicia smiled gently, returning her hand to perch on her hips. “I’ve heard a lot about you from Tunde.” Her brown eyes scanned Anaya from head to toe. “Tunde doesn’t do you justice with his description. He said you were pretty… but you’re quite beautiful.”

Anaya’s cheeks warmed under the woman’s praise and she inwardly rejoiced at the picture of Tunde talking about her. Heart skipped a beat, missing the man already. “Thank you…” she answered shyly.

Felicia nodded. “Are you busy? I was hoping to talk with you for a little bit.”

She hesitated, planning on studying for the rest of the day. “Not really…” she heard herself say.

“Good. Why don’t we get an early dinner? There’s a sandwich shop across the street.”

Anaya felt her head dip in acknowledgment and started down the stairs with Felicia, wondering what this woman could possibly have to say to her.

A few minutes later and the two sat down near a window with their tray of sub sandwiches. Felicia continued her open perusal as Anaya bowed her head to say grace. When the younger woman glanced up and caught her staring, Felicia grinned. “I see why he’s enthralled by you.”

Anaya blinked. “What do you mean?”

“You’re perfect.” Felicia leaned back in her seat, shoving her hands in the pocket of her white coat. She crossed her legs. “You’re from Nigeria?”

“No… Niger.”

Felicia frowned slightly. “What’s the difference?”

Anaya smiled patiently. “There is one.” She raised a brow. “What do you mean by perfect…?”

“Has Tunde mentioned introducing you to his mother?”

Her jaw slackened as Tunde’s words pushed back to the forefront of her mind.

Felicia smirked at Anaya’s stunned silence. “Yup. In case you hadn’t figured it out already, Tunde is a very intense individual. Driven and intentional about everything he does… And he’s very serious about you.” She tilted her head to study Anaya. “What about you? Are you as serious about him as he is with you?”

Anaya swallowed hard, eyes scanning Felicia’s intent gaze for any falsehood in her words and could find none. Even though she knew she didn’t owe this stranger anything, she felt her head move affirmatively and heard the soft reply from her lips. “I am.” Something fluttered within her and Anaya shivered against it.

Days later, Anaya stared listlessly at the open book on her desk at home. She could still feel the flutters in her stomach but had come to accept them as part of her now. Meeting Felicia Brooks had been an unexpected gift, causing her to come to terms with her growing feelings for Tunde. Now more than ever, Anaya wanted to see him, couldn’t wait to tell him how she felt. She was ready for this next step.

Groaning at her wanton thoughts of throwing herself into his arms, Anaya shook her head. “Focus…” she muttered in scolding, forcing her gaze on the small print on the page.

The door suddenly flung open as a wide-eyed Leeza stumbled into the room. “Sister!”

Anaya lifted her head and frowned at her sister. “What’s the matter?”

“Look out the window!” her sister stammered, climbing over the bed that blocked the path to the window.

Heart in her throat, Anaya pushed the book away and shifted in her chair to peer out. She swallowed a gasp as she spotted Tunde’s car parked on the other side of the street. She jerked her eyes back to Leeza. “What…?”

Leeza was grinning from ear to ear. “He’s come to see Papa.”

Anaya shook her head, standing to her feet. The back of her knees were tingling. “Where is he?” She had to stop him.

“He just stepped inside.”

She stiffened, swallowing against the dryness in her throat. Too late. “Where… Mama?”

Leeza bobbed her head, still smiling. “Downstairs too.”

Her heart plummeted to the floor of her stomach and she gripped the side of her chair as her knees threatened to give way under her. She’d lied. She had not prepared herself for this.

<<Part 9 || Part 11>>