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♥ONE

   LOVE IS KIND, HAPPY, CHEERFUL AND NICE. LOVE IS A BEAUTIFUL THING- 

    FOUR YEARS EARLIER.

    
    TOLANI WAS SMILING, staring at Stella and Favour with his playing cards well covered up. What else could make him happier, that time than playing with Stella and her friend, Favour? At least, they just finished their tests and Tolani had came to Stella’s room to play cards with her and discuss with her about his traveling.

    He didn’t know how to start the discussion so he felt playing, at first would be the introduction to his discussion with her. He had a black bag on him, as he played with the ladies. He had been leading the game on point and had been laughing at the ladies because he had told them earlier that he was going to win.

    He scratched his head using his index finger. “Stella, I came because of something important.”

    Stella who had been laughing raised her head and gazed at him. He seemed serious that time, what important thing had he came for? If Tolani spoke seriously, he meant every word from his mouth.

    Her impression and expression showed she was ready to hear what he came for without asking what it was. Favour also paused, should she stand for the couple or remain there? What if it was something secretive they wish to discuss? She kept on pondering. 

    “I want to travel, Dad said he wants to send me to Manchester; where his brother lives, to complete my education.” He said.

    “That’s a nice idea, but he should have done that earlier than now.” Stella was glad.

    “Wao, congrats.” Fave smiled.

    “What’s the happiness and well wishes all about? Do I look like I’ve accepted his offer to leave Nigeria? Why on earth can’t I stay in my country to study like others? I refused.” He hissed as he took away his face.

    “You refused? Large percentage of students in Nigeria wish to travel abroad to study, if I have thay chance do you think I’ll wait in Nigeria? Yes, you may not like it but you have to go!” Stella spoke with passion and dropped the playing cards.

    Tolani dropped his cards too. “I wish to leave, but not without you. If you don’t go to Manchester, I won’t likewise. But Dad is not ready to send you with me and I won’t leave likewise.” Be said.

    “Because of me? Tolani!” She called his name faintly.

    “Yes now, I can’t imagine leaving you all alone. Your dad is on the sick bed, you also know where your mother is… I can’t!”

    “If it’s because me then… I’m no longer interested in this relationship.” Stella stuttered as she was downcast.

     “Stella!” Favour cut in.

    “I’m for real, I’m not interested.” She repeated herself.

    “Are you out of your mind?” Favour packed the cards she had with her together and gazed at Stella.

    “I’m not, I’m serious! Let us depart if it will cause you not to go.”

    “St…stella..” Tolani stammered, blinking.

    Stella still couldn’t raise her head properly. She didn’t want to be the mistake in his life, she wanted the best for him. “This is not a joke.” She said again.

    “Are you really for real?” Tolani asked again.

    “I’m serious.” She spoke, looking really serious.

    Tolani was taut. He stood up gently and picked his bag. He gazed at Stella and Favour again before he removed his hand bead and dropped it on the table. He was tight-lipped and wan, he left the room without returning.

☆★☆★

   ♡Four years after – Present.

    “I’ve grown, I’ve seen a lot, I’ve witnessed trials, was born into abject poverty, still father worked as a hotel cleaner before he was accused of stealing a golden wristwatch which the owner forgot inside the car. He was detained, tortured until he was found innocent, free from artificiality. This landed him into a terrible sickness, no one could help, not even those who accused him of stealing neither the hotel in question. Tolani tried his best before he finally left for Manchester, then it resulted into sickness. Mother, a rare gem on earth. She worked as a maid in a rich man’s house after my father died, even with her age. A woman that has given birth to two children, one died at the age of seven when he was sick and there was nothing to be done because there was no money and me, twenty-five years of age. The woman who has given birth to a child of my age, is fourty-eight years, still a maid in a rich man’s house. She did it for me to excel, I passed out, made it but there’s still no job to do.”Stella dropped her handkerchief.

    “I deliberately kept quiet for you to speak, express yourself and remember the pasts. As you know, you are still a lot better than people out there. Though, you may have a very sad story, everything about you may be weird but you’ll make it someday also.” Favour said.

    “This is our usual chorus, usual anthem but nothing has ever changed has it?” She questioned.

    Favour heaved a sigh and kept her head low. She was born into a polygamous family of four wives and eleven children. Her mother was the first wife that was sent out of her father’s house because of barreness. It was after two months it happened she knew she was carrying a baby.

    At first, she kept mute and didn’t want to get her husband informed since he didn’t even love her again too. She was persuaded by her mother who eventually took her to his house and told him her daughter, Favour’s mother was pregnant.

    It was already the third month, who would believe she wasn’t telling a lie? She was refused and since then, her mother had been catering for her till she gave birth. There was no one to offer help, Favour’s mother also strived hard to make sure her daughter was well eduacted so that she wouldn’t suffer like she did.

♡♡♡

    Tolani just returned back to Nigeria, two months back. He was the one his father sent to head the headquarters of his companies. Throughout his stay in Manchester, he always remembered Stella. He did pray that she should be fine, as well as her parents.

    He had tried all means to get in touch with her again but all was up to no avail. He had tried all he could but none of his attempts was able to locate where Stella was. Yes, he still loved her and the love hadn’t faded. He wished to know if she hadn’t given her heart to someone else; if she hadn’t gotten married.

    He called the mobile phone numbers he knew but none went through. He visited the house he knew they were living in before his depature but still she wasn’t there despite his difficulties and obstacles.

    He disciplined himself to the extent that he didn’t give his heart to anyone else because of Stella. He wished to know if she kept the bead he gave to her because he knew Stella did cherish whatever given to her to keep. Tolani wished to know if she just broke up with him because she wanted him to excel or she meant it.

    He had imagined how she could be, where she worked and what she looked like. He wished his wishes could come true so that he could set his eyes on her again.

    ♡♡♡

    Tolani got back home and headed to his room. He was already tired, perhaps the day was hectic. It was less than ten minutes after, Professor Olakunle drove into the compound in a Nissan Pathfinder Jeep. He walked in with his daughter, Feyi.

    Professor was the owner of three popular hotels in the town and one of Oladele- Tolani’s father’s best friends. It was Oladele that established the Professor.

    Though, he was an English professor but he had nothing good to do with it his title, as a professor until he met Oladele who turned his situation around into harmony. Then, he sent his daughter to Oxford University, to study.

    Feyi was a young, bright and beautiful young lady who studied Architecture. She was brilliant and graduated with colourful grades in the university. She loved drawing, which motivated her into the course she studied. Her father had been telling her he would bring her to Oladele’s place to greet him because he was the one that helped him and his family.

    She walked in slowly, with her dark and hefty father. She was smiling in the brown gown she had on her and her brown purse. She had many purses and handbags of various types and colours which she did use to match any cloth she had on.

    Prof had called Oladele earlier to know if he was around because he wanted to show him who her daughter was, at the same time, he wanted to know how Tolani was.

    “Oladele!” He grinned and increased his pace on seeing his friend.

    “Ha.. you came so early..” Oladele grinned as well and stood up.

    “Welcome, how are you beautiful angel?” He sighted Feyi behind her father.

    Feyi bent smiling. “I’m good sir, good day.”

    “Come on, have your seat dear. I can read it in your utterances, hope you’ve not gone there to be speaking like them.

    Feyi chuckled and sat down. “Not at all sir.”

    “You better sit too..” Oladele addressed Prof.

    Prof sat down as well. “Where’s my son?”

    Oladele sat down. “He just came back from office and went upstairs. What would you like to eat?”

    “I’m okay..” Prof. said.

    “Who’s asking you? I’m asking my princess.”

    Feyi was flattered. She grinned, exposing her beautiful set of white teeth. “I’m alright.”

    “Tolani!” Oladele shouted his son’s name so he could come and greet his friend and ‘the princess’ as she was termed.

    Tolani rushed down the stairs. He knew they had a visitor or more. He had taken his bath, he was just trying to check Facebook again if he’d find the name – Olasupo Stella.

    ‘Who are these?’ He asked within himself smiling as he saw the Prof. He bent and greeted him. “Good evening sir.”

    “Wao! Tola has grown bigger!” Prof. admired him standing. “Same as his so-called wife.” Oladele said, jokingly.

    Prof. and Oladele were so close before they missed their contacts. Then, Tolani was always called Feyi’s husband.

    “Do you know her?” His father pointed at Feyi.

    He gave a long look at her, as well as Feyi.

    Tolani kept staring at Feyi, likewise Feyi herself. “I don’t think so.” Tolani replied his father that he didn’t recognize her.

    “I knew it, what of you, Feyi?” He asked her.

    “I recognize him, I still know him.” She smiled.

    How? Tolani wondered and smiled too. “How was Manchester?” Prof asked Tolani.

    They continued discussing with him and offered him a seat to sit as well.

****

    It was already dark when Tolani walked down to his father’s room to ask him questions. He’s been bothered and didn’t want any trouble whatsoever. He was allowed to come in. His father was trying to send a mail when Tolani arrived.

    Feyi and her father had gone some hours before that time so he felt he should ask his father the question that had been bothering him since he saw Feyi.

    “Hope you enjoyed office today?” Oladele asked his son.

    Tolani sat down calmly. “Yes dad.”

    “So you really couldn’t recognize Feyi?”

    “Dad, I came because of her. I’ve watched movies, read stories and I don’t like what majority of parents are doing, out there. I hope you aren’t planning anything like making her my wife or something?” He asked frankly.

    Oladele chuckled. “Tolani!” He exclaimed on his name and stood up. “I’m not a father like those out there. See, I don’t discriminate. You can marry whosoever you wish to, she only came here to greet me.”

    Tolani was relieved. He smiled and glimpsed at his father. “That’s a good idea.” He said.

    Oladele also smiled. He wasn’t expecting the question his came to ask him. He wouldn’t do that, to his only son.

    “Let me get going, I have some things to thrash in the office tomorrow.” He said and stood up.

♡♡♡♡

    Stella yawned and stood up from the sofa she laid on. It was already some minutes past nine, she was expecting Favour to return back from where she went to.

    She told Stella she wanted to visit her father’s place if he’d recognize her and give her some money. It was just then, she entered slowly. “How was it?” Stella quickly asked on sighting her.

    “Still the same..” she sat down, seemed tired.

    “Nawa oh.” Stella said and hissed.

    “See, I got to know there’s a vacancy at Diamond hotel while coming, let’s go and try that, early tomorrow.” Favour said.

    “This was what my father did that later sent him to grave. I hope I’m safe..” she sighed.

    “We’ll be prayerful, nothing is going to happen!” Fave assured her.

    ****

    “For the time being, you’ll go and manage my Diamond Hotel. I don’t know why you children of nowadays love having your own company, set up. Can’t you discard Architecture and oversee my hotels?” Prof. Olakunle addressed his daughter, Feyi.

    “That’s what I wish, how would I go abroad to study and at the end be the Overseer of Hotels?”

    “No problem, I’ll take you there tomorrow for introduction.”

    “Alright Dad.” Feyi smiled happily

    ****

    It was 7:15 am when Stella left Favour for the Hotel. She had not been feeling good about the hotel, she didn’t wish to venture into that kind of work. It made her remember her father, how he did speak to her and how was been tortured for uncommitted offence. She had prayed and hoped she’d be favoured.

    Favour led the way as they were going while Stella was behind, still brooding. It was like she was painting the image of his father in her memory until a vehicle almost collided with her.

    At first, she thought she had been hit by the vehicle and fell instantly. The young guy who was heading to his own office ran down from the car and helped her up. She was already in shock, shivering. “She can’t be left this way…” he said to Favour and carried her into his car.

    He was a gentle was handsome guy. He was also aiming at getting to office so early when he almost hit her. He got her to the hospital for little treatments and advised her on brooding. He said he’d come and check on her by evening, since the Doctor said she wanted her to take a rest till evening.

****

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