Bridge Between Hearts




To tell you the truth, if she didn't jilt me seven years ago, I wouldn't be where I was today. It was when she finally showed me that my life had no direction that I started making adjustments, and today, I'm the youngest billionaire in Nigeria. Funny how the winds of Fate blows our lives. 

I shouldn't be thinking of all these; I shouldn't be dwelling on the past. At least, not now; I had something very vital to do today. But as my driver parked my car in the underground garage at my company's headquarters, I told myself that in the end, the pains of those years had metamorphosed into gains of today. I came out of my car, arranged my pinstripe suit, and headed into the elevator. 

At the reception, I returned the greetings of the few of my workers I met, and when I reached the receptionist, I instructed her to start ushering in the applicants for the job in the next five minutes. Today, I would be hiring a new secretary. The former one, Mrs. Nwali, had relocated to the US. Her departure had left a huge gap in both my business and personal lives as she was not just my secretary but also a substitute mother. So, it would be hard to find a replacement; that was exactly the reason I was personally conducting the interview—to find someone that would be competent enough. This wasn't a job to be relegated to the HR.

After taking a quick breakfast, I sat in my chair, called the receptionist, gave her the signal; the interview for the post of the personal secretary to the CEO of JusTech Enterprises commenced.

***************************************

Two hours later, and I had still not found a person who fitted what I wanted. I was increasingly getting irritated after having interviewed over thirty people without any of them coming close to what I wanted. I instructed my receptionist that after the next five people, I would stop for the day. The rest would have to return in two day's time.

But the next applicant that stepped into my office was someone I had never met before, yet didn't want to see. It was a girl with a face similar to a ghost from my past. Without asking her, I knew who she was, but I had to maintain the decorum, so I asked.

“Good afternoon Sir," she greeted.

“Good afternoon young lady. What is your name?"

”My name is Nkechi Sylvia Ike."

”Right. “

So my suspicions were confirmed. This was going to be one tough interview session. I asked for her credentials, and focused on the file she brought out from her bag. Her qualifications really impressed me; she had a first class degree in Public Administration, and had worked for two and half years at a law firm. Only that she was the sister of my ex-girlfriend. Yes, the very same one that left me for my best friend because he had made money while we were in school. Her certificate and credentials were okay, but that wasn't enough. I needed to know the kind of person she was.

I raised my head, and stared into her dark brown eyes for a long time. As I looked at her, the face I saw wasn't hers but her sister's, and I wasn't in my expensive office, but inside my small room at the lodge I stayed while in school. The same memories I'd tried so hard to push back to the recesses of my mind all flooded back. 

”Sir? Are you all right?" She was up from her seat and was wiping my forehead with her handkerchief. I did not know when my mind had wandered so back into the past; I had to find a way to save myself from the embarrassment of the moment. I waved her back to the chair, and manufactured a lie by the way of an explanation.

”I'm sorry about that incident," I began,”I'm just tired and having a terrible episode of migraine."

”Oh. I understand perfectly. If you cannot continue, maybe I can come back some other time." The sexy lilt of her voice, the way she genuinely cared, hers smile after she finished talking, they all contributed to making me feel more comfortable with her before the interview started. 

”All right then. Can you tell me why you decided to quit your job at the law firm?"

”I'm sorry Sir, I've not been totally honest with you," she said, and adjusted her sitting position. The way she said it, and the way her eyes rested on everywhere except my face, sent warning bells all around me. 

”It's good to be honest, I commend you for wanting to be frank with me," I replied.

”The thing is... I'm not exactly here for the job."

"What are you here for then?"

"To meet you."

”You could have booked an appointment, and wouldn't have gone through the theatrics of this interview."

"What's the fun in that?" At my quizzical look, she added,”Moreover, my letters for appointment were rejected many times. I decided to take the unorthodox approach. Thankfully, it worked."

"I see. So why did you need to meet me?"

”It's actually my sister that needs to meet you. I'm just the middle-woman."

”As you can see, I'm a very busy man. So, it would be nice if you could get to the point."

”Seven years ago, you were dating my sister. Then she left you for another man, your best friend. She wants to apologise for her cruel actions."

”That's so sweet of her, but honestly, it is totally not needed. I'm fine without it."

"Yet she insists that I convince you to meet her."

”That's the problem of both of you and not mine."

”Justin—can I call you that?"

”It's still my name. So you're free to call me by that."

”All right. What would it take me to convince you to meet her?"

”Why are you finding it hard to understand that I do not want to meet with your sister?"

”Probably because you still love her."

That got a laugh out of me. She was spewing out all manner of balderdash, but that particular one was the height of it. I got up, signaling that the mock-interview was over. She sighed, got up, and produced a complimentary card, dropped it on the desk and went out. Her last words as she stood at the door of my office were:

”Should you change your mind, you can reach me using that number."

*******************************************

You can call me a coward, or better still, a big fool. You would have been correct on either account. If I wasn't both of these things and more, what else would I be doing at the most expensive restaurant in town, on the verge of meeting someone I'd vowed never to see again? I stepped into the place and immediately spotted her; she was hard to miss. With her jet-black hair, long and slender neck, and dreamy eyes, she always made men swoon over her. As had you, a lifetime ago, I mused.

I edged closer to where she sat with her sister. Both of them sighted me at the same time, so there was no way I could change my mind; I would have to hear whatever Ndidi had to say. I sat down when I reached them, and ordered only Amstel Malt; I wasn't in the mood for any food, neither did alcohol have any appeal. They both 
ordered Smirnoff Ice. 


”Hello, Justin," Ndidi greeted. Now that I was close to her, there was something that was terribly off with her, it wasn't her dressing, neither was it how she talked. It was her... eyes; they were too sad, like someone who had seen a lot. In a few minutes, I discovered that I wasn't far off the mark. 

She told me how her life had turned out in the past seven years. After school, her new boyfriend had opened up a fashion shop for her, but had was killed my Fulani herdsmen when he was returning from a business trip in Abuja. At that time, they had been engaged, and would have gotten married in a few months’ time. After his demise, she had put all her energy into her business, and within three years, she had a booming clothing line. She had not wanted to marry anytime soon, even though she had a beehive of admirers. Till it was too late. 

Last year, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. And it was in the last stages as she had only one week left to live. 

”Really Justin, I'm very sorry about what happened. At that time, I had stopped having feelings for you; Chuma was the person I loved. I knew that staying in the relationship would have been detrimental to the both of us, so I ended it," she finally ended her tale.

”Surely, you could have told me all these before destroying all the faith I had in love," I growled.

”I'm sorry; I was too much of a coward."

”What do you want from me now?" I asked.

”Your forgiveness, nothing more."

As I thought about it, I realised that I'd already forgiven her. A long time ago. So it was easy for me to say,”I've done that already Ndidi." 

We looked at each other for what seemed like eternity before I decided it was time to leave. Which I did. There was no need dwelling in the past, we had gotten past the issue between us. Two hours later, I was in my house.

And two days later, she gave up the ghost. Thank God we made peace before she died.


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