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“Ife?”

The tears pooled in her eyes, threatening to spill and threatening to ruin the perfectly contoured face.

She blinked back the tears and clumsily stood, knocking down the glass of Chapman on the table.

She did not stop to take care of the mess she had caused, neither did she respond to him when he called her again.

She was on her way to her car when he caught up with her.

“What is wrong with you?” He asked gently. Concern had filled his face, concern she knew was for her.

All he had wanted to know was her history with his best friend and all she had given him had been silence and now, tears.

Her voice broke as she tried to explain to him that she had to leave for a recording session at the studio.

But he was there to wipe her tears yet again. He pulled her close and tended to her like a child while she cried in his arms.

“Was it that bad?” He asked her quietly, trying to calm himself from getting angry at Abiola for what he did that caused her so much pain.

“It hurt.”

He did not want her to speak any more words because he knew how hard it seemed for her to utter them. “Let me take you home.” He offered softly.

She pushed him away when she heard that, “No” she replied, cleaning her face. “I can take care of myself. You don’t always have to come to my rescue.”

She was trying to avoid his help again and he could see that but what did she think she was doing? He never could stop himself from the strong urge to hold her and take care of her, he couldn’t stop worrying, couldn’t stop wanting her and couldn’t stop the effect she was slowly beginning to have on him.

Her presence had begun to mean something else to him, suddenly she just wasn’t who she used to be before. Now, her presence was like sunshine on a bright new day after the heavy rain. It was welcoming, it was wanted, it was beautiful.

“But you need me.”

“I don’t.” She snapped and snatched her hands away from him. “You killed my boyfriend.”

“I didn’t. I have told you that countless times since last night.”

She still did not believe him, he could see that in the way her eyebrow arched in disbelief and her arms folded across her chest as if she was waiting for him to tell yet another lie.

“Trust me when I say I did not murder Lanre.”

“Indeed.” She sneered and then turned to leave.

He pulled her back. “Your boyfriend kidnapped your mother, lied to you and was involved in a lot of criminal acts…”

He watched the words sink into her slowly, she was shocked.

He continued, “Your Uncle was blackmailing me and I planned with Lanre to have him abandoned somewhere he couldn’t return to Lagos from. The plan apparently went sour, Lanre got shot. I did not plan that! I am not a murderer!”

He realized only when his voice was raised how badly he wanted her to believe him.

Minutes passed, agonizing minutes while he waited earnestly for her to say something.

Whatever she thought of him mattered a great deal and he would be lying if he said he did not care. He cared, maybe too much.

Ife lowered her gaze and settled it on the gold chain on his left wrist. It glistened in the sunlight, almost blinding her eyesight and reminding her how much it would have cost the millionaire who wore it.

“Why was Uncle Gbenro blackmailing you?” She asked him, her gaze returning to his face.

His insides were in turmoil, his world threatened to collapse and for the first time since he became an adult male, he realized he was scared of what someone would think of him if he spoke the truth.

He had spent the last few years trying hard to right a wrong with her and the truth could change everything but he also was not going to tell her lies.

He liked her a whole lot, too much it was beginning to seem abnormal and damn him if he lied to her.

“I killed your father.” He said calmly.

It rained heavily that evening. And while he was locked up in his Office, after he had sternly informed Jen he did not want any visitor, he stood by the part of his Office that was a mirrored wall and watched the Heavens shed.

It was as if the Universe had joined him in his misery and mother nature had chosen to send the tears he was not capable of shedding.

The skies were dark, it had been raining non stop for three days since Valentines day but the rain that evening had been heavier than the previous days.

He was not feeling his best.

Earlier in the day, Gidi Music had partnered with one of the biggest shoe designers in Africa to release a limited range of designer shoes and it had been a great deal, yet he was not excited.

His mind was faraway, it was with her.

He could not help but wonder what she was thinking about him, if she hated him and what she wanted to do that moment.

He did not mean to kill her father, the man’s life had been lost because of his own carelessness and refusal to listen to reason but still, he had not meant to run his tyres over his head.

But that did not make sense to Ife, she was having none of it.

She had been promoting her music which had been widely accepted but had refused to take his calls/respond to his messages.

He sighed. He did not know for how long he would feel the way he felt but he knew what he always did whenever he felt that way.

He knew who he always went to.

So he grabbed his jacket and phones and then strolled out of his Office.

Ronke was eating dinner when her son sauntered into her mansion two hours later. She noticed his grim look and cadaverous face when he inched closer and slumped into a seat near her.

Alarmed, she abandoned the tray of eba and egusi soup in her hands and hurriedly washed the oily soup off her bulky hands.

“Ahn ahn kilode?” She asked, feeling his head with the back of her palms as soon as she dried it with a napkin that was lying close. “Are you okay?”

“No.”

“What is wrong?”

“Ife.”

It took her a full minute to understand what he meant by that one single name. “She still won’t talk to you.” She said gently.

“No.”

“Ayobami, when she is ready she would.”

“But it has been days. I did not do everything within my power to change her life so she can stay made at me forever. This makes me feel so bad.”

Ronke smiled, “But you just said it now that you have done everything within your power. All you have to do is wait, she will come around. Besides, you killed her father, were you expecting her to embrace you and move on with life just like that? It would take a while.”

“I hope it would not take too long.”

Ronke studied her son carefully, “You like this girl.” She said quietly.

He looked at her and nodded. “I don’t know how it happened but it happened.”

“Are you in love with her?”

“No. I cannot fall in love. You of all people know that.”

Ronke did not say anything but she knew that her son might refuse to accept he was human enough to fall in love but he was not far from it.

She returned to her dinner quietly, occasionally glancing at him to make sure he was alright.

She went to see him three days later. He was writing music while he played his piano when she found him.

“I did not know you were back to recording music.” She said. It had been three years he recorded or even wrote anything.

And the last time he wrote, it was because something uncontrollable, something within his power had tragically occurred and music was his only solace.

His album had been critically and successfully acclaimed and three years later, most of the songs on his album were still receiving constant airplay.

She wondered the reason he was making music was this time around.

“That’s the only way I can escape this mood.” He mentioned to her without turning to look at her.

And that moment, it occurred to Ronke what it was.

Ife was the reason he was back to making music.

Ronke took a seat near him in front of the piano, she placed a hand on him gently, “The last time I said this, it was untimely and it did not make much sense but I would say it now because it would help you to stop deceiving yourself.”

Ayo paused, he looked at his mother.

“Marry that girl.”

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