Posts tagged “confession

Refuge: Chapter 5

Posted on 26/09/2018

Over an unhealthy lunch of chocolate-filled donuts and overpriced coffee, Zoey and Eli sat near the window overlooking the planes docked at Heathrow Airport, awaiting their next flight in an hour. Zoey watched Eli lick the chocolate from his index fingers and rehearsed her next line.

The corner of his lips twitched a smile and he lifted his gaze. Zoey averted hers, occupying herself with stirring the coffee. “Chocolate tastes so different overseas.”

Zoey smirked. “Probably.”

“What’s Nigeria like? I mean, the food and stuff?”

She laughed, lifting her gaze. “You’re such a foodie.”

He shrugged. “I like food.”

“Well, since you love spicy, you’ll like Nigerian food.” Zoey shook her head. “We should’ve tried some while in Houston. Can’t believe I never took you to one.”

“You said they weren’t that good,” Eli reminded her, grabbing another donut. “Something about fake meat.”

Zoey choked. “Man, that was harsh…”

“That’s what you said.”

“Yeah well, you’ll have plenty opportunities to try it at home.”

“What’s your favorite food?” his eyes skimmed her face while he bit into the donut. “I’m curious about the jello rice.”

“Jello…” Zoey heaved a sigh, mildly frustrated. Just when she was ready to spill, he was distracted by food. “It’s jollof rice, babe.”

“Ah Jollof. It’s like Mexican rice, right?”

“Not even close.” She frowned. “Eli, I need to talk to you about something.”

A plane whooshed over their heads and Eli peered out, watching the plane ascend into the clouds.

“Eli.”

“Hmm?”

“Eli.”

Her sharp tone had him glance her way. He frowned. “What?”

Zoey tamped another sigh and stared him straight in the eye. “I haven’t been completely honest with you–”

A child behind them squealed with delight and Eli’s gaze shifted over her head. Zoey grabbed his hand, smearing hers with chocolate. She grimaced. “E, I’m not a poor international student.”

Eli smirked at her. “I know that already.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m being serious.”

“Okay.” He released the donut and reached for a napkin. Taking her soiled hand in his, he wiped it clean.

Zoey drew in a breath and released it. “E.”

“I know you’re not poor, Zo. I know international tuition is high, and yet you have your own place, your own car, and you’re paying off your degree.” He looked up at her. “But what does that have to do with anything?”

“It has everything to do with everything.”

Eli chuckled, cleaning chocolate from her fingers.

Zoey frowned.

He paused to look up. “Okay, talk to me.”

There was no other way to say it so she began with “My parents have money.”

Eli arched a brow. “Okay…?”

Zoey rolled her eyes. “Let me rephrase that. My family comes from crazy money.”

“Still isn’t that much clearer, Zo.”

“You know that show Rich Housewives Chicago* and the lady with the real-estate investments?”

“Yeah?”

“One of my dad’s side investments is twice that.”

“In Naira?”

“Dollars, Eli.”

Eli’s hand loosened and slid from hers.

Zoey swallowed hard. “I know I should’ve told you but–”

“Why tell me now?”

The quietness in his voice stilled her. She stared at him.

His features were taut but his eyes resembled a confused little boy. “Why tell me when we’re halfway there that you come from money? Why now and not before?” His gaze skimmed her face.

Zoey searched his and didn’t like what she saw there. “I didn’t mean to keep it from you, not purposefully. I just didn’t know how to say it. Didn’t think it mattered.”

“Then why mention it now? What for?”

“Because you’re coming home with me and I…” Zoey swallowed hard.

“You want me to be prepared.”

Zoey nodded, surprised yet grateful that he’d taken the words from her mouth. “Yeah.”

“You think I’m gonna embarrass you?”

Her eyes widened. “What–? No, heck no.” She frowned. “Eli, I don’t care about that. I just wanted you to know that my folks are a lot…”

“Attention travelers,” the voice on the intercom interrupted. “This is an announcement for Flight Z345A to Lagos via British Airways. Boarding will begin in twenty minutes. Please report to Gate 40B.”

“That’s us,” Eli mumbled, grabbing his bag.

“Whoa, wait a sec.” Zoey grabbed his wrist, stilling him for just a moment. She searched his expression and scowled. “Sit first.”

Eli didn’t. “You had a year and a half to tell me about your family and you didn’t. Give me at least an hour to process what you just told me. I have nowhere else to go but with you, so give me that. Fair enough?”

Zoey hesitated. Eli’s brooding took way longer than an hour, and she couldn’t afford his silence for another six hours. “I meant no harm, Eli.”

“I know, Zoey, but it still stings.” Eli tugged his wrist free and gestured for her to stand. “Let’s go.”

At least he waited for her to stand before walking in front. Zoey heaved a sigh as she watched his lonely frame and wondered yet again if she’d made the right decision bringing him along.

Another plane whooshed above as Zoey grabbed her bag and rushed after him.

He wanted to stay mad; she deserved more than just his silence. But they were 11,000 feet off the ground with only a boring selection of movies for entertainment and ignoring the person beside him didn’t make much sense. Especially since Zoey kept sighing and fidgeting in her seat.

Eli dropped the headphones to hang on the back of his neck and leaned in his seat, arching a brow at her.

She squinted at the screen and sighed before glancing once at him. “What?”

“What happened to giving me an hour?”

Zoey frowned. “I did–I am.”

Eli squinted at her attempt to look innocent. “Nah, you’re not giving me space and time to think.”

“Space?”  She scoffed. “Eli, we’re in a cramped plane. How much space can I give you? You want me to switch places with a stranger? Should I tape my mouth and my body so I don’t bother you?”

Eli shook his head. Zoey could be so dramatic, just like his sisters. He sighed as a thought crossed his mind. “D’you know that all my siblings’ and their spouses have something in common?”

“What is it?”

“Lies.”

Her mouth tightened in a hard line. “I already said it was unintentional. It’s more of an omission, honestly.”

“Lie of omission is still a lie, Zoey.” Eli held up a hand before she could protest. “Hear me out. Phoebe lied to Abe about who she was and almost jeopardized Junior, Darah and I remaining with our family. Geri lied to Bart about her ex-husband.”

Zoey’s eyes widened. “Geri was married before?”

“She was. He was a mean jerk to her, and died for his crimes–”

“Good Lord!” Zoey slapped a hand over her mouth, eyes wide.

“But she was able to escape and come back home. Anyway, she didn’t tell him everything and they even tried to lie to her ex in-laws about having a relationship…” he paused and shook his head. “It was a mess and J.R. had to step in to fix it.”

Zoey lowered her hand and stared intently with no interruption.

“Then there’s Darah, trying to hide her pregnancy from everyone.” He frowned. “Hers isn’t much of lying as it is omission of fact but then she was being stupid throughout.”

“That’s harsh, Eli.”

“It is but it’s true. Actually, both were actually lying to each other about their feelings, and they spent so much time dancing around before coming together.” Eli shrugged. “And then there’s Junior.”

“What about him?”

Eli scoffed lightly. “Pretty sure he and Karen are keeping some crazy secret there in Ethiopia. When I stayed with them for a summer, it was weird.” He scratched the side of his head. “Can’t put my finger on it but they were sneaky.”

Zoey sighed. “What’s your point, Eli?”

“Lies only complicate a matter that didn’t need to be complicated.” Eli stared intently at her. “You didn’t need to hide the fact that your family is loaded. I don’t care if your mom’s the queen of Nigeria or your dad owns every building in the country. You’re you and that’s the reason why we’re together, not because of the money your family has.”

Zoey nodded, regret plain on her face. “I’m sorry, Eli.”

“It’s okay.” Eli frowned. “I do want to know now. Can’t go there looking like a fool.”

“So you want me to tell you now?”

“We’ve got five more hours,” Eli answered with a shrug.

Zoey glanced around first, caution clear in her tense shoulders. She dragged her gaze back to him. “Can I write it down?” she asked in hushed tones.

Eli fought a laugh. “They must be really loaded.” She looked tortured and Eli tamped down the laugh from spilling out. “Alright, write it down.”

Zoey readily grabbed her bag and pulled out her notebook. Eli leaned in as she started to scribble, him reading as she wrote.

Half an hour later, Eli sat back, reeling.

Zoey closed the notebook and looked up at him, expression penitent. “I’m sorry.”

He couldn’t respond; not yet. The chart Zoey scribbled out proved that his mind couldn’t fully fathom the implications of Zoey’s background compared to his. Her father, a retired bank commissioner with real-estate and political connections and her mother, a princess of an affluent tribe that he couldn’t pronounce. He was an orphan with a questionable background and only $10,000 in both his bank accounts. She had legacy in her family while he knew nothing about his birth father.

So deep in thought Eli was that he didn’t hear Zoey and jumped when her hand dropped on his shoulder. He blinked at her. “Hmm?”

“Say something.”

Eli stared at the woman he called girlfriend so casually, someone who was practically royalty. He’d always thought she was out of his league but now… The truth was a sucker punch to his gut, rendering him speechless.

Her eyes watered. “E, please say something.” Her fingers tightened on his shoulder.

He swallowed the truth down and tucked away his wounded pride. Zoey’s tears were more painful than whatever feeling he couldn’t fully identify. “I…”

Zoey sat up, eyes wide in anticipation.

Eli shook his head and laughed it off. “We should’ve taken the first class seats then.”

She blinked in surprise, obviously not expecting that reply. Then she giggled softly and shoved his shoulder lightly. “You gold digger.”

His half-smile dropped. Zoey’s laughter dissipated instantly and regret dressed her features. “Too soon, huh?”

“Yeah.”

Zoey sighed deeply and scooted close, tucking her arm under his. “Forgive me,” she pleaded, resting her cheek on his shoulder.

“Sure.” He stared listlessly at the movie Oceans 8 playing on the screen while sifting through his mind for a plan of action.

Four more hours till they touched down in Lagos, and he had no idea what to do.

“Everything will be fine,” Zoey said softly, tightening her hold on his arm. “My parents are more laid back than it seems. My cousin, Paula, she’s marrying a regular guy she met in London from university and everyone was cool with it. My mom was actually an advocate for their relationship.”

The need for an advocate meant there was initial pushback but Eli didn’t have the heart to interrupt her, partly because he wanted to believe that her parents would be accepting of his lack of qualifications too.

“And one of my aunties on my mom’s side is like the coolest aunty ever. Aunty Sophie, she’s picking us up from the airport.”

“What, no entourage?”

Zoey peered up at him, one brow arched. “Do you want one?”

Eli almost laughed. That she thought to ask was ridiculous. “No,” he answered simply.

She looked away. “Aunt Sophie’s like the rebel. She never got married and traveled all around the world. She reminds me of your brother Junior. You’ll like her.”

Eli could only nod. Any ally was welcome. “Ok.”

“I thought long and hard before inviting you, and I wouldn’t have done that if I thought you’d be treated badly. My family will love you. I promise.”

He nodded again, not wanting to weaken her confidence in him or his in her. “I hear you,” was all he said and allowed her to embrace him with all her might. He needed all the strength he could get for the journey ahead.

<<Chapter 4|| Chapter 6>>

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Sanctuary, Chapter 26

Posted on 03/08/2017

Karen was a pro at taking rejection. She didn’t wallow in self-pity for too long and chose to reaffirm that she was a great catch. She didn’t need a man that didn’t need her. After Clement’s lame attempt at rebuffing her confession, Karen merely thanked him for lending his phone and retreated to the bedroom for the night.

Surprisingly, she wasn’t convinced by Clement’s delayed reaction. That telltale pause after she confessed, and the way his gaze shifted as he announced he was like a celibate priest.

Refocusing her attention on the children coloring in their books, a soft smile lifted Karen’s lips. The five she and Clement had brought last night sat together for most of the activity. After warm baths, delicious food and a comfortable place to sleep, they now seemed content coloring pretty pictures with their new friends. For now, this was their home until Clement discovered their respective homes.

Wubit, Dula’s young wife, supervised some of the younger children. The teenager Eddie sat beside Karen and gestured toward the box of colored pencils. Since the girl couldn’t understand much English and Karen little to no Amharic, the two resorted to sign language.

“Thank you,” Karen said with a thumbs up and reached for a red colored pencil.

Nostalgia swept over her as she drew a heart, remembering her precocious niece and nephew. It was times like this that she wished to forget everything and run home. Resting her chin on one hand, she drew an interlocking heart and shaded it in.

“Pretty picture.”

Karen glanced up at Wubit and smiled. “Thanks. I usually color outside the lines. My sister would be proud.”

Settling in the seat to the left of Karen, Wubit accepted the paper Eddie offered. She grabbed a pencil. “How many siblings do you have?”

Three young girls abandoned their pictures and crowded Wubit, doodling with her on the piece of paper.

Karen’s smile warmed watching them. “Two. An older sister and younger brother.”

“They must miss you terribly.”

“Well they have their own lives. Sister’s married with two and a half kids. Brother’s living it up in college…” Karen glanced up, noting Wubit’s arched brow. “She’s pregnant with the third, and my brother is in college.”

“I figured,” Wubit said, one corner of her lips quirked upwards. “Do you miss home?”

Eddie gestured for the girls to leave Wubit alone, instructing them to return to their own papers.

“I do but…” She shrugged. “I always felt like I wasn’t meant to be in one place, especially not in the States.”

“Really?”

“Hmm. Ever since I was young, I’ve always wanted to do more with my life.”

Wubit’s lips twitched. “You must’ve been a fun child to be around.”

“That’s a nice way of saying I was a handful.”

“That too.” Wubit laughed, eyes dancing over Karen’s face. Then her smile dimmed slightly. “What made you go on this mission trip? Boredom or an interest in African culture?”

“No. I want to be a missionary.” She laughed when Wubit gaped at her. “That’s the same look Clement gave me when I told him…” Her laugh eased away and she returned her attention to her drawing.

“What’s wrong?”

“Just hoping we’ll reunite the kids with their parents. I can only imagine how they must be feeling.”

“Afraid, worried… hurt.”

Karen looked up, seeing those very emotions playing in Wubit’s youthful features. She didn’t look a day over twenty-five yet hidden pain, the same that she’d witnessed in Clement’s eyes, was evident in hers now. She frowned. “Were you also…”

Wubit’s smile was sad as she nodded. “I lost my parents to a fire a long time ago. I was very young, too young to remember all of what happened, but I knew they died in the fire.”

Pain sluiced Karen and she gripped the pencil. “How old are you, Wubit, if you don’t mind me asking…”

“I am twenty-three.” Wubit chuckled at Karen’s wide-eyed stare. “Yes, my husband and I are far in age. But he is the only one for me.”

Karen nodded dumbly, watching the very young wife and new mother continue drawing. It seemed all, including Clement, had matured from tragedies and hardships in their lives. She, on the other hand, felt like a fraud for having faced very little and a brat for complaining about it.

The door opened then and Karen slowly turned, her heart skipping a beat when Clement and Dula stepped inside. She quickly avoided Clement’s gaze, hers falling on the man that trailed behind them.

He was more slender than stocky and almost as dark as Dula. He also wore a wide grin that stretched his narrow face. “Hello,” he greeted while waving.

Wubit smiled. “Welcome back, Brother.”

Karen figured this must be the friend Clement spoke with earlier and waved. “Hi there. I’m Karen.”

“I know,” he said good-naturedly and put a hand to his chest. “I’m Ejigu.”

“Good to meet you, Ejigu. And thank you for your help.”

“It is my pleasure.” He started toward her, one hand out.

Clement stepped into his path, gaze fixed on Karen. “Are you ready to call your friend?”

Karen noted Ejigu and Dula chuckling behind Clement, then dragged her attention to Clement. “Uh, sure.”

“Come with me.” He held out a hand to help her stand.

Hesitating for just a moment, Karen reluctantly placed her hand in his and then stood. She bit the inside of her cheek when he tugged on her hand, silently guiding her toward the door. Karen snuck a peek at their spectators, noting the amusement dancing in Dula’s face and Wubit’s wide smile. Even Ejigu looked like he barely held back a laugh.

She let Clement lead her out of the room before she tugged her hand free and pocketed them in her borrowed capris. “Are celibate priests allowed to hold hands?”

Clement looked exasperated and flustered all at the same time.

Karen snorted incredulously. “Never mind. Give me your phone.”

“We need to talk after your call,” Clement muttered as Karen unfolded the scrap paper and dialed the number. He sighed when she merely turned her back, the phone pressed to her ear. It was obvious Karen wasn’t going to let him off the hook anytime soon. With one more glance at her walking down the hallway, he turned in the opposite direction to spend time with the children. His first order of business was getting the five children to tell them about their home and their parents.

Anticipating the tough task at hand, Clement drew in a sustaining breath and returned to the room.

Ejigu looked up from his drawing upon Clement’s return. “Where is she?”

“None of your business,” Clement groused, walking up to Dula and Wubit.

“Someone’s in a grouchy mood,” Wubit teased, nudging Clement’s arm.

“He’s jealous,” Dula interjected with a twinkle in his eye.

Clement scowled. “Jealous of what? Nonsense.”

Leaving his friends’ laughter behind him, he moved past them toward the group of boys and girls. Then cleared his throat to get their attention, and was rewarded with squeals of excitement for seeing him after few days of absence.

Pacing up and down the chapel aisle, Karen nibbled at her thumbnail as she waited for the dial-tone. Three rings and still no answer. Hope began to dissipate and Karen lowered the phone from her ear.

“Hello?”

She jerked the phone back. “Hello? Ashon?”

“Missi?!”

Karen’s tense shoulders sagged with relief. “My goodness! I’m so glad it’s you. Thank you, God.”

Loud static filled the silence on the other end and she drew back the phone, worried the signal would go out. “Hello, Ashon? Are you there?”

“I’m here…” Static undercut his voice.

She bit her bottom lip. “Are you okay? Everything okay?”

“Yes, Missi. We are fine.”

Karen blew out a breath. “We… you still have the children?”

“I couldn’t leave them. Where are you?”

“I’m with my friend in Bichena. Do you know where that is?”

“No. Is that east or west of the capital?”

Karen frowned, wishing Clement had stayed a bit longer. “Uh, I’m not sure. I just know it’s like sixteen hours from Finch’awa.”

“That won’t help me, Missi. Is your friend there? I will need directions.”

“Where are you? Did you get hurt?”

“Not hurt. I am a few hours from the capital. I didn’t know where else to take them, and I remember you said your friend works in an orphanage.”

“He does!” Karen started for the chapel door, ready to search for Clement. “Hold on, let me—”

Priscilla was on her way from the kitchen toward the children’s center when the chapel door swung open. She narrowly missed the swinging door but ended up bumping in the person exiting the chapel. “Watch it!” she scowled at the foreigner who stood before her.

Karen straightened and the frown eased off her face. She shoved the phone at Priscilla. “Here, give my friend directions.”

“Excuse…” her scowl darkened as Karen pressed the phone to her ear. “Hello?”

“Hello,” the man answered stiffly. “I need to find the orphanage. Can you give me directions?”

Eying Karen askance, Priscilla held the phone. “Where are you coming from?”

A minute later, Priscilla reluctantly returned Clement’s phone to Karen. “Who is he?”

“A friend of mine,” Karen answered, pocketing the phone in her flower-printed pants.

Priscilla scowled. “Those are my pants.”

“They are?” Karen peered down and then shrugged. “Oh don’t worry. I’ll wash them and go back to wearing Clement’s clothes.”

“Keep it—is this guy your boyfriend?” She fell in step with Karen, both heading in the same direction.

“Goodness.” Karen laughed openly. “More like an uncle. Ashon’s is probably a decade older than me….”

“Probably?” Priscilla frowned. “Wubit and Dula have fifteen years between them. It is no big deal.”

Pausing in step, Karen arched a brow at Priscilla. “Your point?”

“Age isn’t but a number…” she halted as Karen scoffed and started walking faster. Catching up, she asked. “What is your real relationship with Clement?”

Karen rolled her eyes. “You heard him. I’m a good friend of his from America. Nothing more.” She imagined the Cheshire grin on Priscilla’s face and quickened her steps. “Thanks for helping with the directions.”

“You’re welcome!” Priscilla answered in a melodic voice.

Silently mimicking her words, Karen pushed open the door to the children’s center and froze in step.

Before her, Clement sat cross-legged with the children sitting around him. He wore a kind and patient smile that reached his eyes, listening intently as one of the girls told a story. There was no doubt that he loved children and would do anything to ensure they were safe and loved.

A thought of Clement cradling his own child popped in her mind and Karen brushed it aside. Celibate priests had no business fathering children much less settling down. He seemed too content as a bachelor.

Yet, as she watched him lift one of the youngest children onto his lap, Karen couldn’t help but question his softly-spoken rejection. There was something that flitted in his eyes when she told him how she felt. Even though it was just wishful thinking on her part, Karen wanted to believe that Clement wasn’t completely immune to romance. Just like her, he hadn’t met the right one.

At that moment, Clement looked up and their eyes met. Karen didn’t look away this time, and gave him a gentle smile. Even if he rejected her again, she planned to show him bachelorhood wasn’t for him.

Clement noted the warm smile softening Karen’s pretty features and marveled how she managed to look refreshed after only a few hours of sleep. He couldn’t deny she was beautiful, and a good woman at that. It was plain to see she would make someone a very happy man, but he wasn’t sure he could take that chance. Her pretty smile would morph into a disapproving scowl whenever he stayed away for more than a day. They’d argue all the time and the excitement he experienced seeing her would cease with harsh finality.

As Priscilla stepped in behind her, Clement refocused his attention on his favorite storyteller. His smile twitched as the little girl waved her arms, enthusiastically describing the scene. Her peers watched with enraptured attention and to his pleasant surprise, so did the five newcomers.

Sobering, Clement thought about the many other children that would be sleeping in a cramped box while being transported to the next auction house. His stomach turned, worried for his next move.

“So Karen,” Ejigu’s voice pervaded his thoughts and Clement looked up to see his friend standing by Karen.

He gaped openly as Karen turned that pretty smile to Ejigu. “Oh, hi again.”

“Hi. Has anyone had the chance to show you around?”

“Not yet. Hopefully soon.”

And before Clement could think to say anything, Ejigu gestured toward the door. “Allow me.”

Perturbed, Clement watched Karen willingly follow Ejigu out the door, laughing as they exited the center.

“Yup,” Dula said by Clement’s right shoulder where he perched on a toy box, bouncing his son Meko on his knee. His eyes twinkled with mirth. “Not jealous at all.”

While his friend chuckled at his expense, Clement forced himself to sit back and listen to the girl’s story for the millionth time.

“Sorry for the interruption,” Ejigu said, jogging back to Karen’s side. “Important phone call.”

“No worries. So, did you meet Clement here too?” Karen asked once they resumed their stroll around the church courtyard. She smiled up at the lopsided paper wreaths that hung on the terrace. There was enough evidence that the orphaned children were loved and taken care of here.

“No,” Ejigu answered easily, hands pocketed. “My main job is a tour guide and driver. We met in the capital a few times, and came to know everyone through him. He is a very good man.”

Karen glanced up at him, noting his dimpled smile. “That he is.”

“A bit stubborn and very hard-headed, but he cares for his family and friends.”

She smirked. “Are you trying to convince me? I already know him.”

Ejigu chuckled but said nothing more on the matter. He moved up a sloping hill toward a small gazebo. “Clement mentioned that you were with him on the last mission. How did that happen?”

Karen paused and watched the man walk ahead of her. Although he was good friends with Clement and probably already knew about the encounter, she didn’t feel comfortable divulging her side of the story.

He glanced over his shoulder and stopped, turning to look at her. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine.” She resumed walking up to meet him. “I’m sure Clement told you already.”

“He did…” he regarded her carefully. “You believe what he’s doing is correct?”

Karen shrugged. “I don’t know about correct. I just think at the moment, it seemed the only thing to do besides doing nothing at all.” She eyed him curiously. “I take it you don’t agree?”

Ejigu sighed, facing the sun that was slowly descending behind a mountain. “It’s very complicated. I know that when a child was killed after one of the village raids and countless children were stolen, Clement blamed himself. He became a desperate man then, spending a lot of sleepless nights trying to figure out who caused the child’s and the kidnapping of so many others.”

Her breath caught. “A child died?”

“… He didn’t tell you?” He heaved another sigh. “He still has nightmares about that day. Had one yesterday night. That’s why he was awake when you err…Perhaps he should tell you himself.”

She shook her head. “We both know he won’t budge. Please tell me what happened.”

Ejigu hesitated for a moment and then gestured to the gazebo. “We might as well sit. It is a long story.”

Karen quietly moved toward the gazebo, dreading the tragedy that drove Clement to such desperate lengths to save a child. But as Ejigu took his place beside Karen, a ping sound stopped him from starting the tale. Giving her an apologetic look, he retrieved the phone and frowned at it. “It’s a text from Clement.”

“Uh-oh,” Karen said with a laugh. “What does it say?”

“Says your friend has arrived and we should come inside now. Can we postpone our talk?”

Karen jumped to her feet. “Yes, later!” Then she hurried out of the gazebo and back down to the church. Ejigu had no choice but to follow, curious to meet the man that made Karen smile so prettily.

<<Chapter 25 || Chapter 27>>

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