Two days later, Tunde decided to call Shalewa. She picked up on the second ring. “Hi dear.”
“Hi Tunde. How are you doing?”
“I’m good. And you?”
“I’m doing well.”
“I wanted to apologize about the other day. Introducing you to my grandma when you were not ready was not the right thing to do. I don’t want you to feel rushed. Please, I’m sorry.”
Does he really understand that it wasn’t about the introduction? I am never going to be ready. “It’s fine Tunde.” She said as she exhaled. “I’m glad I met her. She is still very strong and agile at her age.”
Tunde relaxed letting out a hearty laugh. “Yes, you are right. Do you know she arranges and rearranges her home by herself? She says she does it to keep her busy.”
Shalewa smiled. “I hope you call her from time to time. I’m sure she would love to talk to you every day if she could.”
“I try my bit. I know I don’t call her as often as I should.” Tunde was quiet for a few seconds. “Is my apology accepted?”
“Thanks Shalewa. I appreciate this.”
“You are welcome.”
They talked about other random issues before putting an end to their call thirty minutes later.
The next four weeks went by smoothly; with Shalewa and Tunde visiting each other’s homes and having private dinners.
One night, Tunde decided to hang out with his friends in a night club. They took a table of four and threw banters at each other.
“Guy, wetin dey happen with your chic nau?” Segun said facing Tunde. He was sipping from a champagne flute and it was obvious he was beginning to get tipsy.
“Abeg leave Tunde with im chic oh. Billionaire daughter. I can imagine the headlines when they marry. Tunde, the business magnate gets married to billionaire Samuel’s daughter.” Chibuzor said as he raised up his right hand to dramatize.
“C’mon guys. But you know I love Shalewa. This is not about her father’s money.” Tunde said.
“Oh yeah! You really do?” Momoh said as he burst out in laughter.
“You guys should get serious for once.” Tunde said scolding his friends.
Chibuzor looked at the faces of his friends before bursting into laughter. “Serious? You think we are unserious?”
“That’s not what I mean. I need your support, that’s all I am asking for. I want to propose to her soon.”
“Hey congrats man. You caught a big fish.” Segun said as she stretched out his hand to shake Tunde.
Tunde shook his head. “Segun, I think you should slow down on the drinks. You have never been good with alcohol.”
“Who says?” Segun asked; his words beginning to get slurred.
“Anyway, let’s toast to Tunde’s proposal to billionaire daughter.” Chibuzor said as the other two raised their glasses.
Tunde refused to raise his glass but Momoh nudged him. “C’mon it’s your day. Let’s celebrate.”
It was a Saturday and Tunde’s thirty-fifth birthday. He had planned a small birthday party for himself; intending to celebrate the day with a few friends. His grandmother had woken him up with heartfelt prayers as she had gone on and on with blessings for his life, his fiancée and his business.
He stepped out of bed after her prayers and took a look at himself in the bedside mirror. At thirty-five, he had not done badly. His business was doing well, he lived in his own house and his relationship with Shalewa had been smooth the past few weeks. He took a quick shower before going downstairs to monitor the caterers who had started trooping in. They had been allowed in by his house-keeper and his dining table already looked busy with various chafing dishes. He smiled as he sauntered towards his music system and slotted in a jazz CD putting it on auto-repeat.
His friends arrived at about 1.00p.m and immediately made themselves comfortable with drinks. He warned them that there would be no alcohol as he did not want anyone to ruin his day. Even though, they kicked against the idea, they realized they had no choice and decided to make do with the mocktails served by the waiters.
Shalewa arrived 30 minutes later with her driver carrying a massive cake behind her. Tunde’s friends became green with envy as Shalewa gave Tunde a birthday kiss on his cheeks. Tunde had invited about two of Shalewa’s close friends and they also arrived a few minutes later.
With all guests present, the party got lively and everyone chatted, laughed, ate and drank. After about two hours into the party, Tunde strolled towards the music system and decided to change the CD playing to another. KC and Jojo’s “All my life” began to play, filling the house with their sonorous voices. He walked towards Shalewa where she sat chatting with her friends and asked for a dance. Shalewa was caught unawares and wondered what was going on but her friends urged her.
Tunde held Shalewa by the waist as he sang along to the music playing. As the music drew to a close, Tunde went down on one knee and brought out a small box from his jeans pocket. Shalewa was shocked and began to shake her head. Tunde opened the box to reveal a sparkling diamond ring. “Please marry me, Shalewa.” He said.
Shalewa was stunned as she looked at Tunde who was grinning from ear to ear; still on his knees awaiting her answer. Her friends cheered her on while Tunde’s friends were whistling. Shalewa closed the box in Tunde’s hands and his smile faded off immediately.
“Can we talk about this in your room?” Shalewa asked.
Everyone was shocked at the drama that has just happened. Tunde got up and he led Shalewa by the hand up the stairs to his room. He looked at his friends and signaled to them to continue the party.
Tunde shut the door to his room and rested his head on it. “What have I done to deserve this, Shalewa?”
Shalewa paced round the room unable to utter a word.
“Shalewa?” Tunde called; his voice more like a guttural sound.
She stopped pacing and stood before him. “I wasn’t expecting it. At least, not in front of everyone downstairs.”
Tunde raised his head to look at her. “They are my closest friends and two of your friends. There are no strangers down there.”
“You don’t get it, do you? I’m not ready for this.” Shalewa said in frustration.
“Shalewa, when would you be ready? When? I have never loved any woman the way I love you and I have never been hurt so much by any woman except you.”
“I’m sorry, Tunde. Please understand.” Shalewa said as she moved closer to Tunde.
Tunde shook his head in pity as he walked towards the massive bed in his room. “I am out of ideas of how to make you fall in love with me. We have been on this for about six months now and there has been no headway.”
Shalewa walked to the bed and knelt before Tunde. “I know my dad is behind the rush for our wedding. Why don’t we give it some time? Would you prefer I get married to you without loving you?”
Tunde took a deep breath as he held Shalewa’s hand. He cradled her face lovingly with his right hand and traced her lips with his fingers. Shalewa closed her eyes savouring the feel of his fingers on her lips. Tunde moved closer as he took her lips in his kissing her slowly but passionately. He pulled her up from her kneeling position as he continued to kiss her; the fire of passion steadily burning in him. Shalewa suddenly put her hands on his chest and pushed him back gently.
“I think I should leave now.” She said as she stood up and adjusted her dress.
Tunde closed his eyes and nodded his head. “I think so too. You can leave.”
“Are you sure you will be okay?” Shalewa asked.
“I’m fine.” Tunde answered; his eyes still closed.
Shalewa stretched her hand to touch him but changed her mind and dropped it immediately. She looked at herself in the mirror in his room, straightened out her hair and walked out.
As she walked down the stairs, her friends were smiling and winking at her. She sauntered towards them and informed them that she needed to leave. They were surprised but she lied that something came up in the office that needed her attention urgently.
After Shalewa’s unceremonious exit, Tunde’s friends waited expecting to see him return downstairs. After about ten minutes, his friends urged Momoh to go check on him in his room. Tunde was still seated at the same spot he was when Shalewa left the room. He had his head in his hands and did not hear Momoh walk in.
“Guy, it’s your birthday. What are you doing here alone?”
Tunde looked up at his friend and sighed. “I don’t know what to do to get her to love me.”
“Abeg leave mata for Martha. Don’t let that dampen your spirit.” “Who knows you may meet someone else tomorrow who will fall hopelessly in love with you?” Momoh said shrugging.
Tunde gave his friend a confused look.
“C’mon, you should not keep your guests waiting. Let’s get back to the party.” Momoh said as he pulled up his friend from the bed and patted his back.
As Shalewa eased into the back seat of her car, she asked the driver to take her straight to the office. She had nothing to do in the office but she needed to be alone. She threw her head backwards and closed her eyes. She hadn’t expected the kiss from Tunde but she had also not stopped him. He was good looking, caring and enterprising. He had proved to be better than all her previous boyfriends. Maybe she was being too hard on him. Maybe she could learn to love him.
As different thoughts filtered through her mind, she made a conscious decision to give him a chance.
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