Shadows At The Crack Of Dawn-Episode 70

Shadows At The Crack Of Dawn-Episode 70

Hi loves! Pfew! My sincerest apologies for being MIA for the last couple of weeks, its been due to some technical issues beyond my control. You have been in my thoughts all week and I’m glad all is well and finally over. To make up for past stories, I will be posting everyday of this week. Thank you for sticking by my side. I wouldn’t be here without you. All my love. xoxo.

 

***

Tokunbo stared vaguely at the ringing mobile. It stopped, only to begin its incessant buzz for the umpteenth time, and she let out an exasperated sigh. Just watching it and unable to answer it drained her of every strength. She’d really missed Dimeji and it took a lot not to respond. But she’d made a promise to herself, and she was determined to fulfill it. This should relate her worth to the man, she reasoned.

Like Dimeji, the past days had been hell for Tokunbo. After shedding endless tears, she’d one day braced up from her pity party, decided to forge ahead with the rest of her life, and just as soon as that was decided, boom he seemed to have awoken to reality and had taken up the baton from where she had stopped.

Though she truly loved the man, but with him was so much pain. One minute he was hot and the next cold, and she’d had the last straw when yesterday during the call with Tomiwa, he’d made it super clear that he didn’t need her or anybody, and then suddenly, barely twenty-four hours later, he’d began professing his love for her all over social media, it was as though he’d suddenly come back to his senses or maybe lost his mind.

However in all six days, rather than meting all blame on him, Tokunbo had realized her own share of fault when he’d walked out on her. She’d been insensitive to his troubles and had been a drama queen right from the moment she’d walked through that door. For that she was entirely sorry, but recent events had left room for doubts and raised suspicious. Once bitten twice shy they say, and so her instincts had gone on full defense mode, remembering a couple of his cheating escapades. It was only normal that she’d be paranoid on issues about a man whom she’d given the bulk of her young adult life to.

It didn’t help that in this part of the world, finding a man at thirty seemed almost too impossible, as it was regarded well past marriageable age, plus from experience, it’s a known fact that men had a strong preference to youngsters as opposed to older women. Not like she thought about such jargon or thought marriage her only priority, but then, there just comes a time in one’s life when one was ready to settle, especially when you’ve found the one you consider your soulmate. That was Tokunbo’s cross; loving a man whom she’d warded off other suitors for, the most recent, a past head of state’s son whom her father not only approved but adored. Such a merger with the retired General’s son was the appropriate sort of backing he needed to boost his political ambitions.

‘Financial security.’ Her friends had dubbed it as well, with neither giving thoughts to her real feelings or lack of it for the young man. It didn’t matter to any of them that she found him especially unappealing (which had nothing to do with his stout form or protruded belly). Nothing mattered to them but his bank account, assets, and offering of marriage which by societal standards would complete her. It was high time she cut the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ thing with Dimeji, they advised and snagged the stinkingly wealthy man instead. And once in a bout of frustration, Tokunbo had flared up that they go ahead and marry him instead. Thankfully, that had earned her some breathing space. On that note, she will marry for love and that alone. Not because she was privileged to financial security through well-to-do parents, but because she’d always prided marriage on love and companionship, and all of that she felt for Dimeji.

To keep from thinking about Dimeji any further, she plugged her ears with good music, except almost every line of Sade Adu’s revolved around love, and then she switched to a Wizkid’s dancehall, the air changing all in one moment and lightening up her mood almost like magic.

But then, the phone started again, throwing her off momentary bliss, and again she was torn between answering and ignoring. She hit the ‘end’ button, now furious about the whole situation. Tears burned her eyes. She loved Dimeji too much, it tore her heart that she had to treat him such a way. But there was only so much a woman could take. She’d find love again, she consoled herself, and even if she didn’t, at worst, she’d remain a spinster for the rest of her life, which wasn’t such a bad thing. The only sad part was that she’d really looked forward to knowing and experiencing the consummate love between man and woman.

How can you not have made love? Her friend Tricia had teased shocked. I bet that’s why he has never really committed to you, she had sworn about Dimeji’s promiscuity, and for the first time forcing Tokunbo to question her celibacy. Celibacy was a choice she’d decided a long time ago, not because she considered herself a saint, but when at twenty-four she’d only had her first taste of dating, she decided to go all the way till marriage. Besides, she’d never had to suffer the hassles of pregnancy scares, contraceptives and the other bunch that accompanied the path.

It didn’t matter that her friends thought her weird and best suited for a time when virginity was more valued, and a fraction of a woman’s worth depended on it; Times when after the wedding night, her worth was displayed to her family in gifting of an overflowing keg of palmoil, hundred tubers of yam, filled matchboxes and other food items, to be accompanied with the blood-stained sheet an honorary proof of her status. Back then, women met otherwise, were considered a shame to themselves and family, while the family was only gifted with half a portion of all the required gift items.

Thankfully, such practice was long abolished. Though its intent like female circumcision clearly had been to promote discipline in the society, Tokunbo considered it unfair, unjust, inconsiderate and impartial. No one should ever be deprived of his sexuality or considered a shame for exploring his sexual needs. Especially as such practice was one-sided; subjecting the female slavery, constraining them from understanding and experiencing the most likely pleasures attainable to the human body, while they were treated as nothing but mere objects, bound for pleasures for their men only.

Sexuality was a thing of choice and should be enjoyed if one wishes to. Sadly, as it happened with every free-will known to man, the downsides were in the human tendencies of extremities. But somehow, a balance must be struck, in self-control, that ‘sex’ should mean more than mere act of convenience or pleasure, but a shared intimacy between two persons, and not to be shared with all.

Tokunbo’s thought was interrupted by the sudden beep on her mobile phone, and her heart gave an involuntary thump at the short note from Dimeji that simply read. “I am downstairs”. Barely recovered from the rush of emotions, the maid arrived to announce his presence.

“I am coming.” She called back to her, taking a moment as she pushed out of the bed calmly, a huge contrast to her inner feelings of rage and a mix of joy. She splashed some water on her face to calm her nerves and stopped mid-way to glare at her reflection. She was stalling she knew,  and after a few deep breaths started out in her nightdress and shorts that moulded her figure like a second skin. Logic proposed changing into something appropriate, but on a flash of mischief, she decided otherwise. Dimeji deserved a bit of torture and she’d derive utmost pleasure in a brief tease. With that decided, she charged out of the room, following a quick splurge of perfume behind her ears and freeing her long artificial tresses of the nightcap, slightly tussling it for a full vixen appearance, and stroking her lashes with a wand of mascara, which popped an obvious difference on her look.

Midway down,  her mother, Felicia’s voice rang in a rich crackling sound interspersed by a brief pause and a continuance of what was obviously a burst of deep sated laughter. Her voice when she found it reflected such profound amusement. Of all her daughter’s ‘friend’s’ Dimeji was her most preferred. Not only for his ability to crack her up but also for his kindness and good mannerism. Dimeji had long won the family’s hearts, except her father who had never understood why a young ambitious and a considerably successful young man would wait any more moment in proposing to a woman of reputable backgrounds after such long years of courtship.  It bothered Felicia too. To them all, five years was more than enough time to assess and decide if one was actually whom he’d like to spend the rest of his life with. And from the obvious, each already possessed the necessities for marriage plus a fierce attraction for the other. So what could be the problem? Felicia wondered as she conversed with him,  warding off intense desire to question him for that would project a false sense of desperation on their path. But then, she like the family was fed up. Back then at Tokunbo’s age, she’d been married and had already borne all her three kids, and at fifty already a grandmother.

And so early in the year, at her place of worship, when a spinster program had been announced, she’d literally pulled Tokunbo along and had ensured both mother and child partook in the seven days dry fast. The program which was themed ‘locating your wedding ring’ had yielded such success, that five spinster’s since then had returned to testify of some miraculous engagement. Now three months after, Felicia couldn’t help but wonder when her child’s engagement will come.

Both felt Tokunbo’s presence, and naturally, the room quieted as both automatically turned her way.

Her heart leapt audaciously as she ran a quick sweep of the man in jeans and shirt, and then she turned to her mother barely acknowledging Dimeji’s presence as she asked if she’d been able to reach her father as he’d been gone on a long trip.

Felicia nodded, a bemusing smile crossing her lip as she reached for her glass of water. She knew discussing her father was the least on her child’s mind. However, she indulged Tokunbo’s little front for the young man, hoping it wouldn’t be overdone and would know just when to call a truce.

“Did he say when he will be back?”

“Next week. He is still attending to some matter.” Felicia responded with a small frown. To say she was uncomfortable with her child’s leggy display as she paraded before the man to an adjacent seat was an understatement. Growing in a conservative African home, she’d never really given to the western culture of ‘bared’ skin, and even when Tokunbo sat, she frowned in disapproval as the satin pressed against her bosom, showing an unmistakable flash of nipple beneath her nightwear.

She wasn’t lost to the woman’s seduction or its effect on the man either. And as she started to leave to grant both some privacy, she dumped her shawl on Tokunbo’s lap with a stern look that instructed she covered up. Tokunbo obeyed, cringing under her mother’s scowl.

“What?” She scowled at Dimeji following Felicia’s disappearance, now draped in her shawl.

“Nice view,” he whispered, his eyes twinkling amusement and mischief, a secret smile tugged on his lips as he glimpsed over his shoulder in watch for the mother hen. Dimeji’s face only further lit on Tokunbo’s forced grim expression until she began laughing herself. The ice was partly broken.

The air had changed again, but not completely rid of strife as he made way to her, with an outstretched arm. Her gaze lingered from it to his face as if in quiet contemplation.

“Please come.” He simply said.

“No!” came her sharp retort, deepening his smile.

“I won’t bite,” he teased, and when finally seeing she wouldn’t budge, he heaved a restless sigh. “I know you’re mad at me. I’m sorry, I really am. Please give me a chance to explain.”

She turned from him angered and touched at the same time from the emotionally charged words and gaze, and cursed her betraying emotions. She’d planned to hurt him but found all of her resolve crumbling. And before she knew it, her palm had found a place in his and like some lovesick bird, she allowed to be led out by her man.

As both stepped into the night, she flinched, as much from the frigid air slapping her skin and the hand holding hers, both sending ricochets of shivers as sharp as an acupuncturist sting. “I know something that can keep you warm.” He teased, rounding out of visibility to a corner, and twirling her to a stop.

Her trembling resonated deep in his core, as he linked his hands around her waist, enveloping her in his warmth. Her body shook with soft cackling giggles, a melodious sound to his ears. And when she quieted, both were gravely aware of the air, thick and dense around them. Each’s breath hitched as both under the low light glared into the other’s eye, a pact between two souls, and as his lips gently bore down on hers, she tenderly yielded as a wildflower to the first rays of the morning sun. The kiss was sweet and unhurried, a beautiful exchange magically dimming the throes of the past days, filling each’s heart with love.

Dimeji was insatiable. A raw need had broken within him that only she could fill, and he relayed it in every kiss and every touch. Its message as clear as day to Tokunbo, the communication beyond words, rattled her.

Dimeji was different, she could tell from the slow sensuous and affectionate mesh of tongues. There was something about him she couldn’t seem to reach, but yet seemed to understand at the same time despite the distracting tingles from her back where his hands trailed. And when his hand lightly graze the side of a beast, she stifled an excited yelp in his mouth and gasped instead. Though Tokunbo was yet to make love, she’d long recognized that wanton part of her. It was indeed a wonder how they’d kept it tamed it all these years.

Dimeji parted, trailing soft kisses along her face and then tracing down to nibble at her ear. She all but jumped and shivered, a low moan escaping her throat. Lost and shivery, she clung to him, dangerously nearing the edge with every kiss. Here now blanketed by her desire, logic was far displaced, as she unconsciously guided his hands to a soft mound when suddenly his hand stilled on them, and he pulled away, leaving her flushed and floundered as her eyes blinked open from beneath desire dazed lashes. What a way to stay celibate, the voice in her head scowled.

Dimeji’s lips paused regretfully. He was deeply rattled by her vulnerability, her big brown eyes glaring intense desire amidst haloed dark light aggravating his want. He knew he could have her without any resistance, and even he had been momentarily swayed. But the timing and place were not right. Besides, he knew she wasn’t ready, although her body had clearly spoken a different language. He would never take advantage of her at her most vulnerable, he’d once promised himself. And had done right by it, until he could give her what she truly wanted-marriage.

Now spaced a reasonable distance apart,  Dimeji loosened his hold on her shoulder, and to tame his itchy hands from further contact, he buried them into his jeans pockets.

Tokunbo now fully returned to her senses, frowned. She was as much peeved at her vulnerability and the budding ache in her middle she tried to ignore, and then she took another step backward, a sort of claim to the reins of authority as she spat at him dark-eyed. “I’m mad at you!”

“But your body isn’t.” Dimeji teased

“My mind, heart and my head are!”

“I’m sorry.” Dimeji started in earnest with a step towards her. She backed away, untrusting of not him but herself.

“You ignored my calls, my messages. I was begging Dimeji!” her eyes were raging, and he noticed she seemed contented with channeling all of her anger, and unmet needs into something.

“You won’t understand. Last Sunday was terrible for me. I was going through some stuff, and then you came and…it was just bad timing.”

Her anger faded at its memory, and when she spoke, her voice was low. “About that, I’m sorry. I was really insensitive.” And then of her own accord, she neared him. “What happened?”

Her concern warmed him. If he’d ever doubted Tokunbo’s love, he didn’t anymore.

“Talk to me babe, what happened?”

“Don’t worry about that. It’s fine now.” He dismissed reaching for her again, glad she let him link his hands on her waist as before. For now, he wanted no reminders of the event which she would eventually get to know about. But for now, he craved solace from his woman’s arms and presence.

“It was just some misunderstanding between Tega, Tobi and I. You know how it is sometimes.”

“Is it settled?”

“No.”

Tokunbo stopped and didn’t push any further. He didn’t want to talk about it at least for now, and from prior experience and understanding, she knew to let it be until he was ready to share.

“The past days have been crazy babe.” He began with a strange enigmatic light stealing into his eyes. “It was hell, but I made it through somehow. Thoughts of you had seen me through.”

She was flustered by the flattery, but above all, wished he let on more. Maybe if she stayed quiet, he might spill, she thought.

“You were my light babe. You were my sunshine, you were and are my happiness.” There couldn’t be any more sincerity in those eyes and smile as he brushed the pad of his thumb ever lightly against her lower lip leaving tingling trails of delights in its wake. Her mouth suddenly felt dry and she wetted her lips in response, causing his gaze to linger on them moments longer. Her heart leapt furiously as his gaze met hers again.

“What happened? Talk to me Dimeji.” Her curiosity again had taken hold.

“Shhh.” His voice sounded a small whisper as his fingers stopped on her lip, silencing her. Her heart thawed excitedly, basked in his showered attention and affection which was all she’d ever wanted.

The air was different, the night suddenly degrees colder and a most overwhelming serenity, a perfect moment for lovers, and as Tokunbo searched those small soulful eyes, there was no shaking off the voice of premonition echoing some growing anticipation from her sixth sense.

“You mean a lot to me Tokunbo, I’ve learnt that life isn’t the same without you…I don’t ever want to lose you.”

Her breath hitched, her skin burning from the gentle caress of those words and loveable eyes. But the magic soon waned as it suddenly struck. It was history again on repeat! She thought, suddenly pushing out of his embrace, leaving him dazed.

It was happening again.  Once, she’d played the fool, once in a dimly lit restaurant, he’d raised her hope with such lengthy professes, she’d thought it was time. Instead, the opposite had happened, when after all rehearsed lines, he’d dumped her at her doorstep, asking for some more time. Her friend, Tricia had fallen victim to that too, her boyfriend muttering similar mushy lines before leaving. She would never be subjected to such pain, she swore.

“Hey what’s wrong?” He made to reach for her again but stopped startled by her sudden restraint and a vehement shake of her head under clear fluorescent, her face acquiring some ghostly parlour.

“You are leaving me.” She simply said.

“What?!”

“The last time this happened, you asked for a break!”

“I don’t understand.”

“You’re leaving me?!” This time she cried, her voice strangely choked. And then with solid convictions, she began.  “You are not a romantic Dimeji. We both know how much you hate those lines. It so unlike you and then now out of the blue, you suddenly start to profess your love for me, that you can’t live without me, when in fact you just spent the past six days without communicating!”

“I’m sorry, I needed to think.”

“My God Dimeji, that was inconsiderate. I was scared, worried that something had happened to you, but you didn’t care to get back to me!”

“I didn’t want to bother you.”

She shook her head in disbelief. “The last time with Tomiwa, in your words, you said  ‘you don’t need me or anyone, you didn’t even want to talk to me! So what do you want now?”

Dimeji frowned momentarily perplexed until having her refresh his memory.

“I heard that clearly. Do you know how it feels caring so much for someone and having that love tossed back at you?”

He winced. “I’m sorry. I just needed to think.”

“Fine! You never share; you would rather keep things to yourself. I get it!” She vented sarcastically. “So this time what do you want?”

Her last words as much as the inflection of it hit a nasty blow under his belt as he realized they were in fact true. Dimeji had never been the romantic lyricist, but he’d tried at least before his gain of wealth and affluence. In fact, since the advent of wealth, he’d never really affirmed to Tokunbo her worth, except in actions, but never really in words, he realized.

“I’m not leaving you Tokunbo.” Dimeji mildly said.

“Then what do you want?” Her guarded eyes thinned in slits, and then all of a sudden, she shook her head.  “You know what, it doesn’t matter. Me and you Dimeji, we keep going in circles, and always come back to the start.” She demonstrated, drawing an imaginary circle in the air, with a sorrowful look in her eyes. “This is not working D! Five years, doing the same things, it’s tiring. It’s almost like repeating a class over and over.”

“It’s fun…there’s chemistry.” He pitched, his joke entirely lost on her.

And with a sardonic smile, she continued “You are male Dimeji, you have money, the looks, the women, and all the time in the world to play. I’m not asking that you change your lifestyle for me, but I’m a woman, I’m not getting any younger, it’s me who would be knocking menopause someday, and this is obviously not leading anywhere.”

“I know.’ He quietly admitted to her surprise.

For a long moment, each regarded the other. Though there was no pressure in those eyes, Tokunbo had made known her stand, and she could never guess the reason for his smile as he drew towards her, on a purposeful stride.

He knew her fears, her worries, her paranoia, but mostly, he knew her attraction to him visible in that trembling form as he neared. Reaching her, he wanted to shake her, affirm loudly into her ears his love for her, and tell her how she’d almost ruined a most perfect moment. Instead, he reached down and took her hands. “I’m not leaving you.” He simply said.

Tokunbo shook her head suddenly bent on fighting the truth.

“I’m not leaving you Tokunbo!” He reiterated, “But I don’t know about you.”

“Don’t you dare turn the table on me!” She growled, anger stealing into her as she desperately tried to yank out of his hold even when he wouldn’t let her. “I want you too much for my own good and you know it! That’s probably why you treat me with barely any regards.”

“That’s not true!”

“Then what do you want for me?!” Maybe she was a little out of context, but it didn’t matter.

“I want forever!” he lashed back, Tokunbo’s large eyes glaring questioningly and unimpressed. “It had taken a few days without you to realize my incompleteness without you. You are my light Tokunbo, my sunshine-” And then he continued running a restless hand over his well-cut hair, as his features tore with emotion. “I am no poet Tokunbo, I wish I was. I love you so much baby, I never want to leave you.”

Her much somber gaze proved that he was obviously hitting some note.

“I know, but this is even beyond love.” She muttered adamantly, trying to free from his grasp again.

“No it’s not!”

Then what, what do you want with me?!” she cried vehemently withdrawing from his hold.

“I want you to be my wife!”

Tokunbo froze at those long-awaited but yet unexpected words. It almost sounded too good to be true.

“No!” she spat, taking a step backward. “I’m not some sorry case you could just marry out of pity. I’m not an old hag desperately wanting to jump on the first wagon that’s willing to brandish me the title ‘wife’. Please go!” She challenged, too confused and blinded in an unknown rage to notice Dimeji’s movements until he was lowering on one knee, a diamond ring twinkling at her from its velvet cushion. Her heart seemed to have stopped.

“I’m not leaving Tokunbo, I’m here to stay.” He simply said to the startled woman, well beyond satisfied with catching her unaware. Though this wasn’t how he’d planned the proposal to be, but seeing Tokunbo spiral out of control, he knew this was the time.

“I have loved you from day one, I don’t know why it took so long to do this. But I finally realize what I want, and it is you. If you’ll have me, I want forever with you Tokunbo. “

Tokunbo barely heard the rest of his ramblings about wanting a better proposal as she watched her dreams come true before her. And after a deep steadying breath, he proceeded.  “Tokunbo Crystal Fatunmbi, will you marry me, be the mother of my kids, and stay with me forever, because I can’t live another day without you?”

“Oh God!” She rasped breathlessly, her world a crazy revolve around her. It was a dream; Dimeji down on one knee, the extravagant stone gleaming wickedly in the low light. All of it seemed like a dream, except after repeated blinks, she realized it was reality.

“Tokunbo?’ Dimeji nudged jarring her from her haze, and momentarily panicking as he caught the quick flash of doubt in her eyes as she reluctantly lifted from the ring back at him. But as soon as both gazes met, all his doubts vanished in the face of her silent acceptance as she whispered ‘Yes.’, and even more vehemently as he slid the ring into her middle finger, engraving the moment in both their hearts and minds. As he rose again, she felt whole and safe, basked in the love and warmth of the man’s arms circling her as both inspected the ring and its perfect fit on her finger and then in a pure haze of love, both’s lips met again, now even more languorously, with Tokunbo throwing all of herself into it as she now knew he was totally hers.

 

 

 

Temitope Fakeye

I am Fiction writer, my blog temitopefakeye.com will center on realistic and entertaining stories with weekly releases on Saturday's and Wednesday's.

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