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Tunde couldn’t believe what he was seeing from his brother’s lips or the frantic flash in his eyes. The furious look wasn’t one he usually saw on his good-natured, goofy brother but here he stood in the middle of the room as if he’d lost his best friend. “Why would she say that?” It didn’t sound like Felicia.

Silas pursed his lips. “I can’t make sense of it, Tunde. I mean, sure I dragged my feet a little but to completely come out and say she won’t marry me—“ he drew in a sharp breath. “I can’t.”

“Slow down,” Tunde said sternly, annoyed that he couldn’t do anything for his brother. Maybe he should be talking with Felicia instead. All of this made little sense to him. After she’d practically begged the man to marry her, she was now refusing the proposal. “What did she actually say?”

Anaya bit her thumbnail, agitated with nerves and frustration. She wanted to tell Tunde, hating the sight of confusion marring his brow.

“Tunde, “ Silas started in an even tone that brought chills up Anaya’s arms. “That was all she said. I took her to her favorite restaurant, allowed her to finish her food and then she said she wanted to talk to me but I had a feeling she was going to ask me why I was taking too long.” Silas paused, glancing once at Anaya before turning back to Tunde. “So I pulled out the box and held it out to her. Told her that I couldn’t live without her, that I wanted only her. Then she started crying!” He frowned. “I thought she was happy and continued, even got down on my knees and the girl just split!”

Tunde and Anaya gaped at him. “She ran away?” Tunde asked, stunned. This didn’t sound like Felicia.

Anaya swallowed a groan. So Felicia hadn’t told Silas after all. “Did you go after her?”

Both brothers turned to her. Silas frowned. “No. I was busy picking up my self-respect from the floor.”

Tunde scowled at his brother. “You let her go home and just came here?”

Silas ignored him, finally taking note of the look on his sister-in-law’s face. “You know something, don’t you? You know why she’s acting like this, don’t you?”

Anaya bit the inside of her cheek, her heart skipping several beats when Tunde returned his gaze to her. She closed her eyes. “Talk to Felicia. I can’t say anything.”

“Even to me?”

The hurt in his voice was unmistakable and Anaya’s eyes snapped open, connecting with her husband’s. She pulled her eyes back to Silas, shuddering under his narrowed glare.

“What did she say to you, Anaya? You have to tell me.”

Anaya shook her head at Silas. “I promised her I would wait for her to tell you.”

“Well obviously she didn’t tell me, so you don’t have to keep that promise,” Silas shot back impatiently. He took a deep breath and released it. “Look, Anaya, I’m at the end of my rope here. This woman just said she doesn’t want me anymore and you’re the only one that can help me figure out why.”

“I can’t…” she whispered desperately, turning her pleading eyes to Tunde. “Please try to understand. Felicia has to be the one to tell Silas. I promised her.”

Tunde shifted his gaze to Silas without missing a beat. “Go back and talk to her. Even if she doesn’t budge, neither should you until you get some answers.”

Silas groaned. “I… It’s because I waited so long, I’m sure that’s why.” He rubbed his face. “What if I can’t convince her?”

“She loves you, Silas,” Anaya couldn’t help but say, wanting to quell some of his fears. “It’s obviously more than just you taking time to propose to her. It’s more important than that.” She swallowed against her dry throat, feeling the weight of the two brothers’ stares directed on her. “Please, just talk to her.”

Tunde didn’t say a word as he followed Silas to the door. He wordlessly patted Silas’ shoulder and watched as his younger brother trudged out of the apartment to his car before he turned around to see Anaya tiptoeing to the room. “Stop right there.”

Anaya’s back stiffened and she halted in her steps.

“Don’t even take another step,” he said sternly, his gaze intent on her back.

She sighed and turned slowly to face him. The penitent look on her face grated his nerves. “Please try to understand…”

He wordlessly pointed to the couch where they’d been snuggled close earlier. “Sit.”

Anaya frowned at him. “If you’re mad, just say. Stop being bossy.”

“I’m more than mad, Anaya. I’m disappointed in you.”

Stunned speechless by his words no doubt, she blinked at him.

Tunde folded his arms across his chest. “Since when do you start keeping secrets from me, your husband?”

Anaya released a shuddering breath and he could feel the cold shiver skitter down his own spine. Still he steeled against the pity that rose up within him. “You lied to me.”

“Oh come on, Tunde!”

“No, you come on.” Tunde’s brow furrowed deeply. “You sat there and listened to me go on forever about Silas’ plan to propose, knowing full well Felicia would not accept it.” He tilted his head to study her. “Why can’t you tell me what’s going on?”

“I just can’t!” Her eyes flashed with pent-up frustration as if she was battling with herself.

He steeled himself from going to her, to hold and comfort her. “Why not?”

Anaya threw her hands in the air. “I can’t, Tunde. I promised Felicia I would let her tell Silas before I told you.” She scowled up at him. “Can’t you just understand and be patient until then?”

Tunde shook his head. “No, I cannot just sit here and twiddle my thumbs until you’re ready. Did you not see my brother’s face today? I couldn’t do anything to help him, to comfort him. If only you—“

“That’s exactly why I couldn’t tell you. Because of Silas. Because you’d want to help him.”

He frowned darkly. “I don’t understand. You don’t want me to help him?” Who was this woman in front of him and where was his loving, considerate wife?

“If I told you before Felicia did, you’d want to tell him and it would be a big mess.”

“Bigger than what it is now?”

“Yes.” Anaya heaved a deep sigh, her eyes searching his. “I know you’re disappointed that I didn’t tell you, that I can’t tell you… But you have to trust me.” With that, she started for the room.

“I don’t understand. Is this a matter of life and death?” His heart skipped a beat, afraid of her answer.

Anaya stalled in her steps.

“Ana.”

She peered over her shoulder at him, her expression grave. “What do you mean?”

He took a deep breath before responding. “Will someone die if you told me?”

Anaya rolled her eyes. “Tunde, stop being dramatic. I’m just asking you to wait a little longer.” She started for the room and he had no choice but to follow.

Tunde watched as she jerked the covers back and climbed into bed without even changing into her nightgown. “Wait for what?” he demanded from the door.

When Anaya didn’t respond, he stormed to his side of the bed and perched beside her. “Ana.”

“Just wait until Silas comes back,” Anaya replied, her jaw tight and her stiff lips barely moving.

“Speak clearly,” Tunde snapped in annoyance.

Anaya rolled her eyes and turned her face fully to him. “I said just. wait. until. Silas. comes. back.” Her face softened when she saw his jaw visibly tighten. “Tunde please just try to be patient. I promise it’s better this way.” She then turned away but not without him seeing the glint of gathering tears in her eyes. This was eating at her as it was him.

For the next hour, the two of them sat in silence, stewing in their own thoughts. Tunde mulled over all that had taken place and the obvious reluctance and downright defensive stance his normally docile wife had taken, refusing to divulge the details for Felicia’s bizarre conduct. He shifted his eyes to Anaya’s tense shoulders beside him and frowned. What on earth could cause both women to act so strangely?

Anaya held back her tears and her breath, feeling Tunde’s warmth behind her. She wanted so much to snuggle against him, to hear his comforting words that everything was alright but how could he when she refused to tell him what was wrong? She inwardly scolded herself, knowing that in a way, she’d betrayed Tunde’s trust. Promising herself that it wouldn’t be long before Silas returned, Anaya closed her eyes and prayed silently.

“I hope it’s not a life and death situation…” Tunde’s soft voice broke through the silence.

Anaya opened her eyes, feeling her husband’s voice pervade her body. “It’s not.”

“Hmm?”

She reluctantly turned around to face him, her eyes feasting on his shrouded features. “It’s something serious but not a life and death situation… They just need to figure things out on their own.”

His eyes scanned her face. “Something that I can’t help them with?”

Anaya nodded wordlessly, knowing how instrumental her husband had been in keeping the two together.

Tunde sighed heavily, pulling his gaze over her head to the propped bedroom door.

Fighting the urge to curve her palm over his cheek, Anaya merely kept her eyes focused on him. No doubt his mind was spinning aimlessly, trying to figure out what could possibly cause this mess. Even if he didn’t like that she couldn’t tell him, Anaya was sure that she was making the right decision.

Within minutes, Tunde pulled a drowsy Anaya into his arms and closed his eyes to sleep. For now, he’d leave Silas and Felicia in God’s hands. He had no other choice.

<<Part 21 || Part 23>>

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