He knocked, opened the door and peeped. He saw her seated on the bed, clad in a pink and red long-sleeve sweat-shirt and a white cotton baggy trouser. Her braids were weaved in a pony tail, giving her an angelic look. “Ready to turn in for the night?” She tilted her head, “I think so.” He strode into the room and settled at the edge of the bed. “I didn’t know that the harmattan in this part of the country can be so devilish.” He started to laugh. “Thank God I came with a few jackets and sweaters.” “You will get used to it.” She snorted, “I doubt it,” she noticed that he was still in the white sweat-shirt, but, had changed into a pair of blue shorts. “I am so glad that you are here,” his piercing dark eyes bore into her serene brown ones. “I don’t want to be anywhere else,” her placid stare searched his face. He moved over and wrapped his arms around her. She sighed with relief, basking in the warmth of his embrace. She placed her arms around his neck and inhaled the scent of his deodorant. Funmike heard his dragged intake of breath, then felt the moist trail of his lips on the nape of her neck. Her heart beat accelerated and fell in rhythm with his. Dantenimu claimed her lips. It was just as he had imagined. The soft, supple, sweet flesh captivated his mind and fired up his hunger. She kissed him back, marching his intensity with the deep longing that took over her senses. She felt his hands underneath her shirt, handling her bosom. She sucked in breath as a tingling sensation coursed through her nerves. Gently, he made her lay on her back and kissed her again. She trembled under his weight and felt the hardness of his manliness. The pressure aroused her, making her yearn for him like never before. He raised his head and looked deep into her eyes. She stared back at him. The passion in his eyes marched the desire that welled up inside her. “I want you.” “I want you too,” she whispered. He closed his eyes and tried to fight back the cravings that threatened to consume him. He opened his eyes and exhaled, “I believe that God brought us together and I know that you are the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.” Shocked wide eyes, jaw agape. She had no idea that he felt strongly about her. She knew how much he liked her, but was oblivious to how deep his feelings were. “I wanted to wait till you graduate before asking you out, but…” he gave a shake of head, “I have ran out of patience.” She fixed her gaze on him. It pleased her that he desired to be with her as much as she wanted to be with him. “First thing tomorrow, I am going to buy an engagement ring.” “What?!” He kissed her lightly, “I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” his intensed gaze drilled into her surprised ones. “I love you too,” she confessed. “I want us to get married right after your convocation.” “Isn’t that too soon?” “Nope. I want to wait till our wedding night before I touch you. The sooner we get married, the better.” She giggled and smiled in approval. Dantenimu and Funmike walked into the Millenium Park on his twenty-nigth birthday carrying a mat, food flask, a small cooler of drinks and a pack of candy. It was her fifth day in Abuja, yet, she hated the weather. How was she going to cope when she finally relocated to the city? He spread the mat under a tree and arranged the food flask and the cooler at the edge. She sat down and placed the candy on the flask. He settled down beside her and held her by the waist. “What do you think?” he grinned from ear to ear. She stared at him and giggled. His happy disposition was contagious. “The park is quite big.” “It is massive,” his dark eyes twinkled. “True.” “Yahuza Suya Spot is our next point of call.” She beamed, “I have heard of their delicious grilled chicken and meat.” “One taste and you are hooked,” he winked at her. “I can’t wait,” her head bobbed. “From there we will set off to the Galleria and relax with a movie.” “I like your plans.” Eyes locked. He leaned over and kissed her. While they waited for their turn to buy movie tickets, she opened her facebook profile on the iphone and saw the wedding pictures of her elder sister. Her eyes smarted with tears. It pained her that the bride didn’t want her there. It was pathetic that her parents’ attitude towards her had rubbed off on her sisters. “What is it?” She lifted her eyes, saw the worried look and passed the phone to him. He collected it and scanned the pictures. He returned the phone and drew her into his arms. “Trust God and let him take control of every aspect of your life.” She buried her face in his chest and tried to calm her tumbling emotions. “Lover birds, it’s your turn,” someone said behind them. He released her and approached the lady at the ticket stand. Funmike folded her hands across her chest. She prayed to God to give her the desire and will to forgive her parents and her sisters. She hoped that some day soon, they would all be able to relate with one another in love, without grudges. She walked out of the lecture hall with her black bag strapped to her shoulder and her car keys in the other hand. Four of her course-mates, a guy and three girls fell into step with her. They had become are regular passengers. They complained about the date of the first semester examination. She wasn’t bothered because she had defended her project. She would be able to prepare for the examination without distractions. She heard the ringtone of her phone. She dipped a hand into the bag and brought out her Blackberry Passport and iphone. “Hello.” “Hello love.” The sound of his voice warmed her heart, “Dante, you didn’t call last night,” she followed her course-mates into the elevator. “I am so sorry. I got home late last night. I was worn out and I slept on an empty stomach.” “Aww…” “The demand for our product is pretty high. We are producing twice as much. More workers have been employed. Things are pretty busier over here.” “More work, more money.” She heard him laugh. “Don’t forget to send all the goodies. Eat alone, die alone.” “Hey! Funmike!” “What?” she stepped out of the elevator. “Okay, fine, I will send you kilishi from Yahuza Suya Spot.” Her mouth watered, “What else?” “Long throat.” “If I hear…” “Oliver Twist.” “Back to sender.” She heard him roar with laughter. She giggled and slow walked towards the navy blue Toyota Camry. “I miss you.” She exhaled loudly, “I miss you too.” “Wish I could fly down to Lagos this evening.” She sighed with longing. She would give anything to see him that day. “Can’t wait to meet your parents and ask for your hand in marriage.” She smiled, unlocked the car and climbed in. Her coursemates got into the car and shut the door. “Can you call me back? I am about to drive.” “Oh, okay. Later love.” She hung up and threw the phone into the bag. She started the engine, checked the front and side mirror and navigated the vehicle out of the car park. She caught a glimpse of her gold ring and smiled Funmike drove home immediately after her last paper. She wasn’t feeling well. Some of her course-mates tried to convince her to stay back and attend the end of semester party, but, she wasn’t up to it. The stress of the examination period had gotten to her and she planned to stay indoors for the next few days and rest. She was almost tempted to leave for Abuja and return once school resumed, but decided against it. She noticed the fleet of cars in her father’s compound when she drove in. The heavy sound of music coming from the house indicated an ongoing party. It dawned on her that she might not be able to rest that evening till probably after midnight. She groaned inwardly and got out of the vehicle. She opened the boot and pulled out her luggages. She marched towards the house, dragging the bags after her. She met Folake on her way to her bedroom. She was gorgeously dressed in a brown and gold french lace. The long fish tail skirt and short-sleeve blouse fitted her perfectly. “What are you doing here?” she eyed her sister with irritation. “I live here. Remember?” she started to walk away. She hissed and placed her hands on her curvy hips, “Just stay in your room, okay?” She stopped and glanced back at her. “Today is my introduction ceremony. Please stay out of sight.” She stared back at her younger sister in astonishment. The twenty one year old in her 200 level in the university was getting married? Why didn’t anyone tell her? The thought that they didn’t want her present at the party disgusted her. “Why are you just standing there? Go to your room!” She knitted her brows in a frown. She didn’t like the way she was been spoken to. It was her parents’ fault. In order not to make a scene, she held her tongue, turned on her heels and strode off. Once in the comfort of her bedroom, her safe haven, she dropped the bags on the blue and white tiled floor and headed straight to the bathroom. A warm bath might calm her fried nerves. She hoped. She rolled on her side and squeezed her face. One side of her head was throbbing with a blinding ache. She took a deep breath, placed both hands on her head and sat up. She tried to swallow spittle, but, her mouth was unusually dry. She raised her head and looked around the room. The bottle water on the bedside drawer was empty. She groaned and got down from the bed. Each step she made towards the door seemed to magnify the ache and the sharp twist she felt in her tummy accelerated her discomfort. She reached the door and turned the knob. It didn’t bulge. She frowned. She didn’t lock the door. Why was it stiff? She tried to open it again. It remained still. She bent her head and checked the knob. She discovered that the door had been locked on the otherside. She stood straight and frowned. Who locked her up? Why was she locked up? What sort of games was the person playing? A sharp pain pierced her tummy. She cried out, held her stomach and fell on her knees. Oh God help me! “Hello.” “Dante.” “My love, are you home now?” “Yes,” she drawled. “Are you okay? You sound unwell.” “I don’t know how I am feeling.” “What’s going on?” “I have a bad headache, my tummy is assualted by terrible cramps, my throat is patched, I can hardly move, I am losing strength,” she sobbed. “Go to the hospital, fast!” “I can’t.” “What’s that supposed to mean?” “I am locked in my own room. I don’t know where my keys are.” “What the…” “Dante, I don’t feel good.” “Oh God! Who is home?” “Everybody.” “Call someone.” “Their phones are switched off.” “What’s really going on?” “Today is my younger sister’s introduction ceremony.” “My goodness! I am sure that they didn’t tell you.” “They didn’t.” “I am sure that one of them locked you up.” “I think my younger sister is the culprit.” “The little witch!” “Dante!” “Sorry. I am freaking out right now. Who else can you call?” A thought crossed her mind, “Our security guard.” “Perfect.” She hung up and dialed the guard’s number. She noticed the security guard the instant he came to stand by the window. “Tanko.” “Yes aunty.” “Were you able to speak to my dad?” “No. Aunty Folake didn’t allow me to see oga. She said I will lose my job if I don’t return to my post.” Her face turned red, “Didn’t you tell her that I wasn’t feeling fine?” “I did. She said that you were lying.” Her eyes smarted with tears. What was wrong with her sister? How was she going to get out? The pain in her tummy multiplied. She groaned and limped towards the bed. She lay on her side and dialed Dante’s number. “Hello, did they let you out?” “The little witch sabotaged my plans.” “I am at the airport. I will be in Lagos in the next three hours. Please hang in there. I am on my way love.” Relief flooded her, “Okay, hurry,” she cut the call and wrapped her arms around her slim frame. The heavy music coming from the sitting room shook the walls. It reignited the ache in her head with vengence. She placed a pillow over her head and began to cry.