Posts tagged “friendship

Refuge: Chapter 8

Posted on 30/10/2018

Staying annoyed was not a luxury Eli could afford. In this foreign land where Zoey was the only familiar face, separating himself even mentally would be foolish. He needed Zoey. Also, the fact that she kept digging her bony elbow into his side made futile his attempt to ignore her.

But he tried, for as long as possible, to keep his attention elsewhere. The ride was long and despite the AC blasting, Eli palmed the sweat from his face and rubbed against his thigh. He blamed it on the stifling heat permeating through the car metal and shifted in his chair.

The conversation in the car went on without him, Aunt Sophie filling Zoey in on her cousin’s wedding preparations. He picked up a few words of cathedral and coral beads but watched the scenes with Aunt Sophie’s warnings playing as a soundtrack.

Foilage collided into disjointed buildings that ran for a mile before tapering off to open land. He’d seen it for miles now since they left the airport. The dichotomy of the filthy rich and devastingtly poor existing together on the same dusty road wasn’t reserved to Lagos. He’d seen it many times driving with his brother Clement. For the life of him, he couldn’t understand how slums and mansions sandwiched between them could co-exist.

Miles later, the sun retreated as darkness fell over the bustling city. Only shadows and well-lit buildings remained and the traffic had eased away to only the Zoey’s welcoming entourage trucking along a smooth narrow road.

Eli suddenly sat up, spotting at the outline of a building resembling a temple in the near distance. “Is that…?”

Zoey leaned forward suddenly. “It’s a mansion.”

From the disdain in her tone, Eli glanced down at her. “Yours looks different?”

She frowned. “I don’t have a mansion.”

“But your parents do.” Eli arched a brow. “Am I prying?”

“There’s no sense in hiding who you are, Zoey dear,” Aunt Sophie interjected. “Not when we’re barely a kilometer from your father’s place. To answer your question, Eli, not many can live in this area. Real-estate here is in the billions.”

“Aunty, please.”

Eli barely registered the strain in Zoey’s voice and gaped at the well-lit homes built along the road. His sister-in-law Geri would salivate at the chance to decorate any of the grand architectural houses.

Cyrus turned the corner and the bright headlights of the Mercedez illuminated the street, revealing cars parked on either side of the road.

Aunty Sophie burst into laughter. “You can’t take the bush out of our people, no matter how far removed from the village we say we are. Do they think this is Olomo road?”

“Wow,” was Zoey’s only reply.

Eli pulled down the glass to peer out the window. The end of the narrow paved street came to a point where an elaborate metal gate barred further passage. Above the gate took his breath away. It was like a scene in a blockbuster movie; the kind where the camera pans out to display the tall and thick white columns that stood two stories tall, big grand windows beaming with light from activity inside and shadowed palm trees swaying in the breeze. If the camera panned further back, it would scan the acres of land that stretched for miles–vast landspace boasting of the owner’s wealth. Zoey’s wealth.

“Eli, we are hosting a door-knocking,” Aunty Sophie’s voice interjected Eli’s rampant thoughts. “That’s why there are so many people here.”

He could only nod, taking stock of the massive building before him. No doubt the mansion housed many rooms.

Zoey nudged his arm. “Ready?”

Though he couldn’t see her face, he imagined the hesitant smile there. She seemed to look more apologetic since they boarded their flight in London. It didn’t make him feel any better knowing that she somehow felt uncomfortable around him. He’d never been one to feel inferior about his status in life; his siblings were proud and grateful for their upbringing, and even his maternal grandmother wasn’t poor.

Being a middle-class American or a college dropout had never been a source of shame for him… he had his own life to live, and even though he wasn’t an engineer like Abe or even a missionary like Clement, Eli was proud of what he’d accomplished.

So why did he suddenly feel like the walls of the car were closing in on him?

The car stopped in front of the gate and a slender man stepped out, squinting at the bright headlights as he approached the car.

Aunt Sophie laughed and stepped out of the car. Cyrus did also, giving the young couple a brief time to themselves while they greeted the man.

Zoey’s fingers curved around his arm and clutched him a bit too tight. He frowned. Was she nervous? “You okay?”

“I haven’t been home in a while,” Zoey replied, her voice barely a whisper. “Don’t know what to expect.”

Eli was quiet. If she was this nervous about seeing her family, how did she expect him to feel about meeting them for the first time? The thought of her family staring at him with critical, scornful expressions was what nightmares were made of.

“Eleazar.”

He shook out of the thought instantly. Zoey only ever called him by his full name when she got serious or cross with him. He glanced down. “Hmm?”

“Promise me you won’t think differently of me or regret coming here after we go inside.”

The silence that followed stretched longer than she liked and Zoey’s eyes scanned his shrouded features, wishing she could read his expression. “Eleazar, answer me please.”

“That sounds ominous.”

Outside the car, Aunty Sophie’s laughter grew louder.

She pressed fingers into his skin. “Just answer, please.”

“I can’t promise that, Zo. You barely gave me any time to adjust.”

Zoey could imagine Nwando’s smug expression and shoved it clear from her mind. She scooted closer to Eli. “I was worried that you wouldn’t understand.”

“Understand what?”

“My family.” Zoey heaved a sigh. “I never asked for this.”

“No one ever does. Not everyone gets to choose their family.”

There was something in his voice–she could only decipher it as pain from the contentious battle between his adopted family and his maternal grandmother about his wellbeing.

Zoey sighed again. “I can’t even begin to understand what you’ve gone through, Eli. But know that I didn’t mean to hurt you by keeping this a secret. It’s just not part of me. I’m not some spoiled-rich girl.” She wrinkled her nose even as she said that.

For years, she’d tried and failed at separating her parents’ reputation and status from her. For once in her life, she’d almost succeeded in America to be just a normal girl with normal aspirations and a normal relationship without questioning whether people approached her for what she carried, not what her parents owned. Eli was more than she’d asked for, and she didn’t want to lose that just because of her family’s increasingly-flamboyant lifestyle.

“I didn’t even know they renovated,” she snapped in annoyance. “I just don’t understand the need for all this space. My parents are empty-nesters, for goodness’ sake!”

Eli draped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her into his side. “You don’t need to make excuses, Zo. I get it. Your parents are rich. So what?”

Zoey wished she could believe in his sudden bravado. But he’d only met Aunt Sophie, the tamest of her family members.

A rap at her window made her glance over.

“No fraternizing,” Aunt Sophie said in a mock-serious tone. “Let’s go. Khalid and the others will bring in our stuff. Khalid, remember Zoey?” She opened Zoey’s door and gestured for the young couple to exit.

“Ah, of course now,” the young man from inside replied. “No be small thing, our little madam don reach home. Little Madam, you’re welcome o.”

Zoey smiled gently, accepting the warm greeting of her father’s long-time chauffeur. The headlights illuminated his face, revealing the deep markings on his cheeks and his dark lips. At least some things stayed the same. “Thanks Khalid.” She scooted out of the car and stepped to the side so Eli could exit also.

“She’s not so little anymore,” Aunty Sophie corrected fondly, tucking an arm under Zoey’s and tugging her toward the gate. “Khalid, this is Zoey’s friend from America.”

Zoey glanced over her shoulder as Khalid greeted Eli warmly. She smiled, grateful for at least one welcoming response. Hopefully, Nwando was waiting for them inside. She dug on her heels, waiting for Eli who trailed behind Khalid toward the trunk of the SUV.

Aunty Sophie clucked her tongue. “Eli, leave the bags. They’ll get it.” She then pulled Zoey forward. “You two better leave that independent we-can-do-everything-for-ourselves stuff out here. Don’t give your mom’s sisters reasons to talk. Especially Aunty Nneoma.”

Aunty Nneoma was Paula’s mother and a constant source of annoyance for her mother. The two, since childhood, had always found reasons to fight about any and everything. Even in their mid-fifties, they still argued like enemies and competed about everything possible. No doubt Aunty Nneoma would tease about Zoey taking over the housemaids’ duties.

Zoey tamped a sigh and a groan. Maybe coming home wasn’t one of her great ideas.

“Zoey, you and Eli go inside first. Just remembered something.” She nudged Eli forward and hurried back to Cyrus’ side. “Hey, Khalid, one sec!”

Reaching for and clutching Eli’s hand, Zoey led the way to the front door of a house she didn’t recognize–a house most likely rebuilt to fulfill her mother’s obsession of one-upping her younger sister.

Laughter and music could be heard on the other side of the door. Zoey drew in a breath and released it slowly.

Eli squeezed her hand and in that brief moment, Zoey knew she had her answer. Eli was with her, no matter what stood on the other side of the door. Even with his warranted reluctance, he was here and would be here even till the end of the trip.

She looked up at him with a smile, grateful he was here.

The door flung open. “Finally!” A beaming Nwando, dressed in colorful native, stood on the other side. “Get in here!”

Zoey and Eli were ushered inside, and Nwando shut the door. “Aunty, Uncle!” she bellowed over the party noise. She then grabbed Zoey’s hand from Eli’s, breaking the hold. “Zoey’s home!”

Zoey felt herself being dragged away from Eli and towards the living room where her family awaited her arrival. She glanced over her shoulder to where Eli stood by the door. “Nwa–”

“I got him,” Nwando interjected, nudging her forward. “Your folks are here to see you first and foremost. Right now’s not the time to introduce your American boyfriend. Stealing Aunty Nneoma’s spotlight is not advisable.”

Zoey sighed. She didn’t want to delay the meeting between Eli and her parents, but knew that this wasn’t quite the time for family introductions. Her gaze swept over Nwando’s face. “What would I do without you?”

“Very little,” Nwando winked. “Don’t worry, he’ll mingle with the other hundred guests in the room. Paula’s uni friends are here too. There’s one oyinbo girl your brother’s been eying since morning. Go hug your mom, she’s not been happy about any of this. I’ll go get Lover boy.” She laughed and turned away to retrieve Eli.

Zoey watched Nwando go, wishing she could go with her.

“Is that my Zobo baby?”

Zoey plastered a smile on her face and turned to greet the woman dressed extravagantly. “Aunty Nneoma. Congratulations–!” She grunted as her mother’s younger sister enveloped her into a bear hug.

“Nawa o,” her aunty sing-songed, drawing back to inspect her niece from head to toe. Her painted brows furrowed. “What’s going on, are you losing weight?”

Zoey refrained from rolling her eyes. Her clothes from before she left Nigeria still fit perfectly. “No Aunty. I still look the same.”

“Look at you, all skin and bones.” Aunty Nneoma clucked her tongue in disapproval, hands squeezing Zoey’s arms. “Enh-heh, I would’ve thought America would fatten you up small. Welcome home, my darling!” Draping an arm around Zoey’s shoulders, she led her around the partition wall to the living room.

“Thank you, Aunty—!” Zoey drew in a breath as she took in the scene before her. There were people everywhere, everyone dressed in their best native attire. The living room stretched almost six feet south, with extravagant furnishings and even two sparkling golden chandeliers on the ceiling. She wanted to ask Aunty Nneoma if this wasn’t her home instead, but didn’t have a chance to.

“Zoey’s home!” Aunty Nneoma announced above the lounge music playing, and all eyes faced the front. They all cheered at once, some she knew well—cousins and even old classmates she hadn’t seen since primary school—rushing forward to greet her. It seemed her parents had invited everyone they’d ever known to her cousin’s wedding festivities. And all she could think about, in the midst of all the cheering and overly-enthusiastic greetings, was Eli being overwhelmed by it all.

Around the corner, Eli and Nwando stood witnessing the extravagance of Zoey’s welcome and the grand display of wealth in one scene.

Nwando then placed a hand on Eli’s shoulder, drawing his attention to her. She smiled a gentle smile that held some sympathy. “Welcome to Nigeria, our boyfriend.”

Eli would’ve laughed if not the butterflies waging war in his stomach.

<<Chapter 7 || Chapter 9>>

Advertisements

Sanctuary, Chapter 25

Posted on 02/08/2017

“I don’t like her,” Priscilla announced, hands propped at her hips.

Dula and Wubit glanced once at each other before watching the agitated doctor grow even more unsettled. Clement had still not yet returned from settling his friend Karen in his room, deciding to bunk with Ejigu in one of the small rooms near the back of the church building.

“I should’ve known she’d be trouble,” Priscilla continued, pacing the small space in the kitchen. She came to a stop and faced her friends. “Did you see the way she looked at him? Like he was some piece of meat!”

“I remember you looking at him like that,” Dula reminded her, earning a dig in his side from Wubit. Eddie who stood by the stove, dishing out the meal into small bowls, muffled a giggle.

Priscilla scowled at him. “Of course I did because he was my boyfriend!”

“Even before that…” Dula swallowed the rest and held up both hands. “I’ll go see where he is.” He stepped off the stool and hurried out of the kitchen in search for Clement. He slowed to a stop, finding Clement and his lady companion strolling toward them. Planting a smile, he narrowed the distance between them. “Hello.”

Karen looked rueful as she bowed again. “Salam.”

“You can speak English,” Clement said gently. “He understands well.”

Dula smiled for good measure. “With an accent, of course, but my college insisted we learn.”

He’d meant to assure her but the pained look on her face proved otherwise. “I didn’t mean to sound like an arrogant foreigner thinking no one else knows English besides Americans or the British. I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay, Ms.…”

“Please call me Karen.” She offered Dula a genuine smile. “You must be Dula, Clement’s oldest friend.”

“Old as in age and duration, yes,” he joked, pleased when she giggled. So she had a sense of humor. Good. “Please, come. My wife has made you some dinner.”

Karen grinned openly. “I’ve been dreaming of Ethiopian cuisine for weeks.”

With a smile, he gestured for her to go ahead and then clapped a hand over his friend’s shoulder. “Good job,” he whispered in his native tongue.

Clement’s smile froze and he turned from watching Karen to giving Dula a quizzical stare. “What?”

Dula wriggled his brows. “I thought you’d never move on from Priscilla but…”

“Hey calm down,” Clement protested half-heartedly. “We’re just friends.”

“Uh-huh,” Dula slung an arm over Clement’s shoulder and when Karen paused in step to look over her shoulder, he grinned and waved. “Let’s not keep the ladies waiting.”

Priscilla’s scowl was a bit distracting but Karen focused her attention on Eddie’s bright smile and Wubit’s warm expression. Wiping her mouth, she set her fork down. “So how long have you all worked with Clement?”

“We were at this orphanage before Brother Clement joined us in 2004.” Wubit tossed Clement a grin. “I remember he was such a know-it-all.”

Clement scoffed but continued eating.

“I can see that,” Karen teased, winking at him. “He does act like he knows everything.”

Wubit and even Eddie nodded, surprised that she could relate with their struggles. Clement shook his head. “No, I was excited about my new assignment and they wanted to stay in the past.”

Dula grunted in disagreement. “No, you were a know-it-all.”

Wubit, Karen and Eddie giggled when Clement growled. Priscilla rolled her eyes and crossed her arms.

Karen peeked at her once and then spoke. “You must be the one I talked to on the phone earlier right?”

Wubit and Dula exchanged questioning glances. Clement lifted the glass of water to his lips, gaze volleying between the two women. Priscilla arched a shapely brow. “Pardon?”

“Yeah, I think it was you… You said you were Clement’s girlfriend,” Karen merely blinked when Clement choked on his water. “Was there a reason for the lies?”

Priscilla frowned in Clement’s direction. “You told her I was lying?”

Karen noted the wrinkle in Clement’s brow. “Wait… it isn’t a lie?”

Clement swallowed the water and looked chagrined as he turned to Karen. “I can explain.”

Karen choked on an incredulous laugh and lowered the fork to the plate. Then she gave Wubit and Dula a smile. “It was nice meeting you and thank you for the delicious meal. I think I need to go to bed now.”

Dula and Wubit nodded, their smiles strained. “Goodnight,” Wubit said gently.

“Karen.”

Ignoring Clement, she also gave Eddie a smile before standing to her feet.

Clement rose with her, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Clement,” she said in a falsely-calm tone. “I don’t want to embarrass you or myself in front of your lovely friends. So kindly let me get some rest.”

“But…”

“Brother,” Dula interjected gently and when Clement glanced his way, he shook his head imperceptibly. Wubit also nodded, silently willing him to let Karen go for tonight.

Reluctantly, Clement released Karen’s arm and she hightailed out of the kitchen and down the hall to his bedroom for the night. Heaving a deep sigh, Clement dragged a hand over his face.

“You were wrong for that, Priscilla,” Wubit berated her friend softly.

“She provoked me first.”

Clement scowled in Priscilla’s direction and stormed out in the other direction, to the small room he and Ejigu would have to share for the evening. He didn’t understand why he was so frustrated with how Priscilla behaved and Karen’s reaction, but he dropped on the bed exhausted and annoyed. Even though he was beyond exhausted, Clement tossed and turned on the cot until Ejigu dragged himself inside hours later.

“You’re still awake, Brother?”

“Hmm,” Clement muttered, tucking one hand under his head. He stared up at the ceiling, sleepless.

Ejigu chuckled, shrugging off his backpack. “Priscilla is such a pain.”

“You heard?”

“Uh-hmm. I also heard your lady friend is a fireball.”

“Firecracker,” Clement corrected softly and sighed heavily. “And yeah, looks that way.”

Though exhausted, Karen couldn’t sleep for long. She’d spent the night drifting out of sleep and tossing in bed. So after a few hours of trying to stay asleep, she gave up and left the room. The chapel was empty, so Karen claimed the first pew. An oak podium mounted the altar and a stained glass cross etched on the wall behind. Imagining Clement standing there with light casting a halo around his head made Karen smile.

The smile quickly eased away and Karen sighed deeply. “What am I doing here?”

She was a long way from home, with no way to reach her family. No doubt her family worried after not hearing from her for so long. She needed to call them soon.

Then her thoughts shifted to the children whose parents were undergoing the same turmoil or worse. She imagined their bitter and despondent cries, and wished she could do more to help.

Closing her eyes, Karen bowed her head and folded her hands. “Lord, I don’t know what else to do. I’m just one person and the bad guys are… they’re out there, doing really bad things to innocent people. But I know you are much bigger than any of them put together. Even when the wicked is mighty, you’re mightier.” She sighed deeply. “And please protect these children. Help us get them back safely to their families. Let us not lose any child to the wicked…”

Her brow furrowed. “And protect Clement also. He’s got a lot on his plate, serving as a pastor here and now having to go undercover as if he’s some James Bond…” She sighed. “I guess I did the same, so yeah. Forgive us for putting up pretenses to save the children. It’ll be great if you could provide a better way, one that we can safely bring them home and not have to sin against you.”

“Amen.”

Karen’s eyes snapped open and she jerked about to see a man sitting in the shadowed pew a few rows hers. She spun about, ignoring the quick jump in her pulse and closed her eyes. “Anyway, Father, please help me be able to locate Ashon so I can get back my passport. And keep him safe also. Oh, and help him find his daughter. In your precious name I pray. Amen.”

“Amen.”

She frowned and glanced over her shoulder at him. “It’s rude to eavesdrop on someone’s prayer.”

“Sorry.” He draped his arms around the back of the pew. “One of your prayers has been answered.”

Karen merely gave him a hairy stare and Clement chuckled in the shadows. “I see you’re still mad at me, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why.”

“Which request, Clement?”

“Ashon.”

Karen sat up. “Really?” She left her seat and walked down toward him, perching at his side. “Is he okay?”

“Hold on,” he answered with amusement in his tone. “My friend Ejigu, you’ll meet him at breakfast, he was able to get in touch with the cab your friend works for. Apparently, the day he picked you up was his last day. He no longer works for them.”

Karen frowned. “Okay, but did they have his contact information?”

“That’s why it’s a prayer answered.” Clement shifted, pulling out a sheet of paper from his pocket. “Here.”

She snatched the paper and unfolded it, although she couldn’t read it legibly.

“It’s his phone number. I doubt he’ll be awake now so let’s wait until sun-up to call him.”

“Yeah okay.” She folded and tucked the paper in her shirt pocket.

“Hmm.” Clement gestured to her. “We’ll need to get you a change of clothes.”

Karen glanced down. “No wonder your girlfriend made such a fuss. I’m still wearing your shirt.”

He heaved a sigh. “For the umpteenth time, she’s not my girlfriend.”

“Whatever.” Karen started to stand when Clement grabbed her hand. She sighed. “How many times do I have to tell you not to grab my hand whenever you like, without permission? Let go.”

“Not until you tell me what’s wrong.”

“Nothing’s wrong.” Karen lowered back onto the seat. “Let me use your phone.”

“You can’t call your friend, Karen. It’s late—”

“I need to call my family. Hand it over please…”

“Bossy woman.” Holding her with one hand, the other held out his phone. “I have an app that allows you to call without a calling card.”

“Yeah, I had one for mine. Let go, Clement.” She yanked her hand from his the minute he loosened his grip. Then standing, she relocated to her original seat and dialed her sister’s number first.

Samina picked on the second ring. “Finally! My goodness, Karen, where have you been?”

“I’m sorry, sis. It’s been a hectic week.”

“Are you okay?”

“Better than okay.” Karen dragged one foot on the cement floor. “How are you?”

“Nu-unh. You don’t get to divert attention to me when you’re the one whose been missing for a week.”

“I recall someone going off the grid for a week also, for surgery no less…”

Her sister cleared her throat. “That’s different. I was still in Houston, not some foreign place doing God knows what. Are you alright? What was hectic about your week?”

“I’ll give you details when I get home. Is Mom okay?”

“She’s pissed but that’s normal. I’ll tell her you called. Actually, it’ll be better for you to call her yourself.”

“And risk getting my ear bitten off? Nah, I’ll let you relay the news.”

Samina snorted derisively. “Anyway, when are you coming back? You’re still set for next week?”

Karen frowned, realizing that her trip was drawing to a close a little too soon. “Um, about that…”

Clement had abandoned his shadowy post to perch beside Karen. He smirked when she scooted an inch from him and found himself narrowing the gap between them. Something about her made him want to tease her, and he couldn’t figure out what or why he didn’t want to stop.

Karen scooted an inch more, teeth dragging against her bottom lip. “I might have to extend my trip.”

“What… Karen, you’ve been gone for a month and a half!”

“Yeah, I know but…” Karen sighed in exasperation as Clement scooted close, his thighs brushing hers. She tossed him a warning look which he responded with an innocent smile. She scowled. “What are you doing?”

Clement maintained his innocence and shrugged, refusing to budge.

“What am I doing?” Samina replied. “You’re the one being vague. Why do you need to extend your trip?”

“Just because…” Karen’s hip bumped into the wooden edge of the pew. She couldn’t move another inch away, pinned between Clement and the end of the pew.

“From your itinerary, I’m guessing you’re now in Ethiopia, correct?”

“Yeah, so?” Karen gestured for Clement to move. She scowled when he merely crossed his ankles and draped an arm behind her shoulders.

“You’re with that pastor guy, aren’t you? He’s the reason you’re staying, isn’t he?”

Karen stiffened and snuck a glance at Clement. He stared her down, one brow arched in silent question. She fought a grimace at Samina’s loud voice. There was little doubt in her mind he’d heard every word.

“Hey Sam, let me call you back.” She disconnected the call over her sister’s protests. “Did you hear her?”

“Not if you don’t want me to.” He drew back the arm draped behind her and eased back an inch.

“It’s fine. I have nothing to hide.” Karen lifted her chin, staring at him straight on. “Well it’s true. I like you. It’s the reason why I was pissed off last night.”

Clement remained silent, merely staring at her. It took everything in Karen to keep from not looking away. She continued. “I think it must’ve started at your sister’s wedding or maybe before that… It doesn’t matter when it happened. All I know is that I like you, Clement Teka.”

“Hey!” Clement exclaimed, rubbing the sore spot Dula had smacked him. “What was that for?”

“For being a fool.”

“I agree,” Ejigu said, folding his arms across his chest. “A woman tells you she likes you and you say what? That you’re a celibate priest?”

Clement frowned as both his friends muttered their disapproval. “Would you have preferred I led her on?”

“Admitting your feelings is not leading someone on. Don’t you like her?”

“This isn’t about liking her,” Clement countered, still rubbing the back of his head. “I already told you how difficult it is to be in a serious relationship right now. She’s saying she likes me now but she’ll be like Priscilla after a few months and end up resenting me.”

“That sounds like an excuse,” Dula groused. “A terrible one at that.”

“Not everyone is like Priscilla,” Ejigu refuted. “I haven’t met your lady yet but from what I heard, she seems very different. You’re always preaching about giving people a fair chance and not to discriminate, but you’re putting her in the same category as your ex-girlfriend. How fair is that?”

Clement regarded his friends warily. “Why are you all so invested in my love life?”

“Because you deserve to be happy,” Dula replied easily. “Marriage will do you good.”

He rolled his eyes and gestured to Ejigu. “Get him married first then. I’m fine—” He scowled when Dula smacked him upside the head. “Will you stop that?”

“Not until I knock sense back into you.” Dula shook his head and turned to Ejigu. “Never mind with him. Let’s get you married first. Maybe we can introduce you to Ms. Karen today at breakfast.”

Ejigu nodded, sneaking a peek at the frown forming on Clement’s face. He hid a smirk. “What a brilliant idea. Is she a beauty?”

“She’s beautiful.” Dula draped an arm about Ejigu’s shoulders. “Maybe you could teach her Amharic.”

“Hold on a minute,” Clement interjected. “Ejigu’s too young for her.”

“Age isn’t but a number. Besides, I like older ladies,” Ejigu tossed over his shoulder and flashed his friend a cheeky smile. Then turned to Dula. “Come introduce me to the beautiful Ms. Karen.”

The two smiling friends strolled out of Clement’s room and upon hearing the telltale growl behind the closed door, gave each other a fist bump before walking toward the kitchen.

<<Chapter 24 || Chapter 26>>

%d bloggers like this: