“Good to see you again, Nini.” He smiled.
“I should say the same too.” I faked a smile. It hid my displeasure perfectly. I couldn’t wait for the music to end. I sucked in breathe when Ade moved his hand to the small of my back, dangerously close to my behind. He stylishly pulled me closer to himself. I became conscious of his arousal, his hardness rubbed against my thigh.
“You are just as beautiful as ever.” His smile broadened. There was a mischievous glint in his eyes.
I stared straight into his brown eyes. In all honesty, Ade was a handsome man, tall and muscled in the right places. His killer smile showed a white, perfect dentition. With it, any lady would grow weak in the knees for him. He was a real charmer. His voice alone would make most ladies look twice at him.
Despite born with a silver spoon, Ade has amassed for himself the wealth of the sea; he was an oceanographer after all. His wealth coupled with a fine face qualified him to be one of the eligible bachelors in town.
“You are devilishly handsome as well,” I flirted.
His brows rose in amusement. I cursed inwardly. Ade took my response as a green light. His grip tightened as we gyrated to the rhythm of the music.
“You know I have always had my eyes on you.” He winked.
While I have mine on someone else, I thought.
“Without doubts.” I nodded with a smile. He gave a sultry look as he palmed my butt-cheek.
Get rid of him before it is too late, I yelled in my head.
I unhooked myself from his arms quickly. He frowned. “I need to use the restroom. Excuse me.” I walked away from the dance floor briskly. I didn’t wait for a reply. I exhaled loudly as soon as I was out of sight. I felt suffocated. My eyes watered. I fanned my face with hopes to find relief.
“You are indeed your father’s daughter, you know?” my elder brother’s voice rang behind me. “Well done, sister, you hid your displeasure well.”
Anger washed over me at the sight of him. Niyi stood gallantly—like a soldier that he was—with an amused face. “I hate you!” I spat.
He smirked then shook his head. “No, you don’t sis. It is my birthday today. Wish me well at least.” He neared me.
“I mean it!”
“You are just angry—”
“—at the fact that you sent me away—”
“—for your good!” he voiced sternly. “Do you think I will sit idle and watch you waste your life with that low class, poverty-stricken boy?” He closed the gap between us. I shifted nervously at his stern demeanor. “You won’t drag the Jaja family name in the mud, Nini. I won’t allow it!” he growled.
“But I-I love him.” Tears pooled in my eyes.
I winced as he gripped my arm tightly. I shuddered in fear.
“You. Loved. Him.” He gritted his teeth. “He is past tense for you.”
“Don’t test me, Nini,” he shushed me. “I have warned you. You know I can do it.” He glared.
I understood him perfectly. He needn’t remind me of his warning five years ago. I knew without a doubt that he’d go through with it. Tears dropped down my cheeks. My heart grew heavier at every beat. I couldn’t help but recall all the memories I have of him. It’s been five long years.
“Do your makeup, Lil Sis.” He wiped my cheeks. “You’ve ruined your face with tears. Come down when you are done. I will stall cutting my birthday cake for you.” He hugged me gently then left.
Like a robot, I walked into my room. Like a lifeless zombie, I powdered my face. I stared at my reflection in the dressing mirror. My eyes had long lost its glow. I shut my eyes.
The voice pierced my hearing. My heart stopped as I peered at the reflections in the mirror. I gasped. I saw him standing behind me. His big brown eyes reflected nothing but love. My heart fluttered as a smile lit his face slowly, revealing his white dentition.
“It’s been five years.” His baritone voice sent shivers down my spine. I rose from my seat slowly. “You haven’t changed a bit, Nini. You look just as beautiful as ever.”
I let out a moan as his finger trailed my jaw line. Tingles spread throughout my body. My eyes closed at the wave of pleasure that washed over me. How much I have missed him.
“Toba—” I managed to say.
“Tsk, tsk.” He caught the tear that escaped my eye. I blinked in surprise. I had no idea I had tears in my eyes. “Don’t cry, love. I am here now.”
“Are you even real?” I turned to face him. I touched his arm gently. I feared he’d fade away like in my dreams. I shivered at his warmth. I felt him shiver too at my touch.
“As real as your next breath,” he said softly.
“Toba—” I echoed again.
He captured my lips with his. The kiss lingered for a few seconds, and then he began to pull away. Instinctively, I closed the gap again. This time, I was in control. I ignored his slight chuckle as I deepened the kiss. Toba pulled me to himself with his arms wrapped tightly around me. We made out for God-knows-how-long. Every second was divine. Then, reality hit me like a blow to the gut. I yanked myself out of his grip. Toba looked quizzical and I, hysterical.
“This can’t happen.” I heaved. I wiped my mouth. “We can’t happen.” I peered at him.
Tears pooled in my eyes again. “Don’t make this harder than it already is, Toba. It has been five years!” I sniffed. “I am over you.”
He shook his head. “No Nini, you miss me.”
“I refuse to believe that.” I took two steps backwards as he took one towards me. “You kissed me back.”
“The kiss means nothing to me,” I forced myself to say.
Toba looked unnerved. “You still love me, Nini. This I know for sure.”
“You know nothing, Toba. I don’t love you anymore,” I lied. I bit down on my lips.
“You lie,” he spat. “You wouldn’t have kissed me back if you don’t.” He drew closer. “You wouldn’t be wearing the precious stone on the ring I gave you around your neck now if you don’t!” He pointed, his voice resonated throughout the room. “I heard your conversation with Niyi, Nini.”
I touched the stone pendant I wore around my neck. The stone initially sat on a gold ring, the ring he’d gifted me on my twenty-first birthday, a symbol of his love for me. I couldn’t get rid of it so I had it fashioned into a pendant.
“Why are you so scared?” his voice snapped me back to life. “Why don’t you want to be with me? It’s been five years, Niniola.” His voice shook with emotions. Tears filled his eyes. “I have waited. I have endured your absence. I have longed to have you in my arms again. I know you want me as much as I do, then why are you resisting our love?”
“Because I am protecting you!” I voiced. Tears streamed down my face. “I love you so much that it hurts, Toba, yet I must protect you.” Toba was dumbstruck. He stood speechlessly, blinking in intervals.
“I left to protect you from my brother, Toba. I never intended to leave but I had to do it for your survival. I’d rather die than to see him hurt you.” I neared him. “He said he’d kill you the day he sees you with you with me again and you of all people know he is a man of his words.”
“You sure know me too well, little sis.” My blood ran cold at my brother’s distinct voice. I turned to see him at the door with a silver pistol aimed at us. His face was grim and filled with hatred. “I won’t spare you, you worthless, low class, son of a bitch,” he spat angrily.
“This worthless, low class, son of a bitch loves your sister and she loves him in return. I doubt there is anything you can do about it,” Toba replied sternly. He pulled me behind him, his chest puffed out.
“Brother… please, don’t,” I pleaded.
“I made it clear that you are never to see him again, Nini. Why are—”
“Because I love him.” I cut him off. “You shouldn’t hate him because he isn’t of the same class as we are, Niyi. He is decent at least.”
My brother, Niyi stared for a while. He shook his head slowly. “You have been betrothed to another of high class. This thing isn’t good for you,” I saw his hand tighten around his gun. “He needs to be removed ASAP.”
“But I love him,” I sobbed. I tightened my arms around Toba.
“Can’t you see?” Toba voiced. “Neither distance nor time could wear away the love we have for each other.”
“I know something that can,” Niyi smirked wickedly. I began to frown. “Death.” He pulled the trigger.
My scream died in my throat before it could escape my mouth. I acted instinctively. In a heartbeat, I was in front of him, my back against my brother. Toba grabbed me, he stared back in shock. Silence settled in the room for a few seconds until Toba gasped, he stared at his bloody hands. He peered at me in horror. I put on a pain smile.
“Nini…” Toba’s voice shook with emotion. I grabbed his shirt as the pain began to spread from somewhere down my back. “No… no… no…” Toba eased my falling. “Nini… no!” He gathered me in his arms.
I shivered. The pain increased by the second. I looked up at Toba. He looked totally distraught, his eyes brimmed with tears. I shook my head.
“N-neither d-distance…” I stuttered in pain. “…n-nor time.” His face blurred. I felt so cold all of a sudden. “Not even death…” I managed to whisper before embracing the cold darkness.