He had made uncountable appearances in her dream. Showing up holding his charm in one hand and a promise in the other. A promise of unending love. She would wake up, and though aware that it was just but a dream, she would still feel the unoccupied side of the bed with her hand as if by dreaming about him he would magically appear. On such occasions, the desire to call him would be overwhelming, but she would remember what her mother-in-law told her about the need for him to learn his lesson. So she wouldn’t call. It was because of this that on this day, she still found it difficult to believe that it was really him, her Tony, standing before her. She repeatedly closed her eyes and opened them, rubbed them even, wanting to be absolutely sure that indeed this was not on of those many dreams.
All this while, he patiently leaned against the door, admiring the woman he loved. He chuckled every time she rubbed her eyes and whispered, “Okay, please let this be true. Let this not be a dream.” And he wanted to say, “So you have been dreaming about me, huh?” But he didn’t. He said nothing. He stood there silently, looking at her the same way an artist would look at his precious painting that no one else but him gets. A painting that he felt no need to explain what it really meant because he was okay with keeping the meaning to himself.
It was him, she was sure. Her mind was not playing any tricks on her. But yet, it really, really was impossible for her to imagine that this was happening. She had never imagined it would take just one day for things to fall in place. When she woke up that morning, the idea of seeing Tony had not registered in her mind so she was ready to have him stand there for as long as it would take before she finally accepted that this was happening. Secretly, she was jealous that he still looked as fine as he always did, like her leaving had not affected him at all.
“You know, when you said you were spending your nights in this room, I thought you were lying,” he said, walking towards her.
“And why would I lie to you?”
“I don’t know. I just did.”
Now would have been the perfect time for her to come forward with the truth, but she thought they had better things to discuss. She inched closer to him, making sure that eye contact was not broken. The corner of his eyes glittered with what she imagined was excitement. He held her gaze, also took a step closer, placed his left hand behind her neck, gently stroking the hair that she had recently grown. His eyes, in a flash of a second, dropped to her bump and then back to her eyes. A reluctant smile was taking shape in his mouth when he leaned in for what she imagined was a kiss. So she closed her eyes, lips slightly trembling. But instead, he whispered in her right ear, “To tell you the truth, it looks to me like you just moved in here.”
She flashed her eyes open. “Really, how did you know?”
He pointed at her suitcase lying on the floor, “That doesn’t look like it has been here for long.”
She dropped her gaze to her bag and then to him. At this point, she wasn’t really thinking straight. No, she wasn’t. She was feeling things. Things that made air float away from her so she was short of breath. She hadn’t seen him for so long and now that he was here, she figured they had far much better things to say or do, other than discussing when she moved into his room. But she did not want to rush things. She still forced a smile and complimented his genius discovery. In any case, she needed to control herself if she was to stand a chance to remain on top of things. That, and she also needed to know what his plan was. What the current development on Danny and his inability to father a child, or the other way round was. And what it meant to them. To their relationship.
She took a deep breath and said, “Fine, you got me. I only moved in here today because it felt like the right thing after we talked over the phone.”
She then turned around and walked a few steps away from him and still looking the other way, she asked, “How is Sam?”
“Oh, that one? We are only waiting for Valentine to come and pay for his bride price. He is the woman in that relationship, you know.”
Eve laughed, “You are just jealous. Sam is a perfect gentleman.”
“What are you saying, that the rest of us are imperfect gentlemen?”
“I did not say that,” she turned around, arms folded on her chest, “But come to think of it, are you? A perfect gentleman? Because the last time I checked, gentlemen did not lie to their women or go for days without calling them. I did not even know that you were coming today.”
He walked to her and wrapped his arms around her from behind,
“That’s because I wanted to surprise you.”
“I am surprised, sir, well done.” She turned around in his arms, “But I still can’t stop but wonder if you would have shown up today if I hadn’t called you. Your silence hurt me you know? You never even cared if I was doing okay or not.”
“That’s not true,” he said almost in a whisper, “I care about you. There is no single day that passed by without me calling mum to ask her how you were doing.”
She was startled, “But she never said anything about that to me. In fact, as far as I know, you never even contacted her, leave alone to ask about me.”
“That’s because I told her not to mention anything about it to you. I wanted to sort my shit first.”
In hindsight, Eve understood exactly what her mother-in-law meant when earlier on that evening she told her that she was on her side, and also on her son’s side. “Oh, but that doesn’t mean it was okay for you not to call me. Calling your mum isn’t the same thing as calling me.”
“I know. And I am sorry.”
“So, you said you needed to sort your thing first. Have you sorted it?”
“Part of the reason why I am back in the city. Danny’s ex, the one who claimed he couldn’t father a child, was lying, apparently. She now claims that Danny is the father to her newborn daughter.”
Eve’s eyes shone with delight, “Really?”
“Really. She already put to bed and so Danny is also here for the tests and everything. Your sister Clair has been brought to speed with everything that’s happening and though it wasn’t easy, we managed to convince her that everything will be fine.”
“So what does this mean?” It was taking Eve all the energy she had to not jump up and down in delight.
“It means I have to take my shower and then be with my wife.”
“I am not your wife,” she hit him playfully on the shoulder, “You haven’t paid my bride price yet.”
“And who said I will pay any?”
They both laughed.
He kissed her quickly on the cheek before quickly letting go of her. He stripped, flaunting his biceps and six packs as he grabbed the towel and disappeared into the bathroom, “You can join me if you want,” he said but she shrugged off his offer.
His shower was a quick one. She hadn’t finished thinking of what she was going to do to him that night when the door opened and he stepped out. She was seated on the bed, the long T-shirt slightly moved up, exposing her thighs. They locked eyes, and he hungrily rolled his eyes all over her. Rubbing himself dry with a towel, just like she had pictured him earlier on, he reached out to her hand and pulled her up. But before he could make any other move, she broke free of his hold.
“You know, earlier today Valentine called to tell me of the beautiful story you had penned about us. Rather, I want to believe it was about us because no names were mentioned,” she paused to look at him, holding his gaze, and she smiled at how he followed her every movement, her every gesture, with a revamped keenness. “I was surprised. Pleasantly surprised because I never knew you could write or capable of bringing out such emotions when you write. And then after going against my better judgement and called you, I figured there was nothing better that could possibly happen again yet here you are.” She lowered her voice, “I missed you, Tony. And I love you. Please tell me that from now on things will be perfect. No more fights. No more lies. Please?”
He stared her in the eye long after she was done talking. He could see her chest rising and falling in anticipation. That she wanted an assurance was not in doubt. But still, he didn’t feel the need to offer it immediately. He took his time to look at her like he was seeing her for the first time. He reminded himself of the things he had put her though and how somehow she always managed to forgive him. He reminded himself that there were not many women out there who would have put with half she had had to put up with. Above all, he reminded himself that out there, not many women could claim the kind of beauty she claimed. Yes, beauty did not claim her she claimed it. If you squinted your eyes you could almost see it rising from her toe and spreading to the rest of her body as if following a command. Her beauty was calm. And he loved her.
He followed her to where she was now standing in the middle of the room, stopping a few inches from her. Her ability to stare someone directly in the eye was out of this world and he found it sexy. But when he said nothing for almost a minute, she broke contact and said, “Come on, do we have a deal or not?”
“Perfection, my dear, is not attainable. If it does then it’s not with love,” He moved even closer and held her arms. “So promising you that everything will be perfect will be a lie and like you said, no more lies. So what I can promise you is that I will love you like I have never loved any other woman before— Which is true because I have never loved any other woman more than I love you—and always take good care of you. The truth is I am also tired of these games. I want a normal love life, and it can only be normal if I am with you.”
She smiled. “That will do.”
“Sure, it will.”
As if they were both in agreement that they had done too much talking for the night, they remained silent and stared at each other. They both felt a small tremor of excitement shaking the earth beneath their feet. Letting her arms go, Tony wrapped his left arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and twisted her head slightly to the left, looking at him with half closed eyes. His right hand grabbed her ass, playfully squeezing it. She held her breath when he ran that hand down to her thighs, the tip of his fingers running through her inner thigh. Her eyes were almost fully closed now, and she made a sound when she felt his lips touch hers. He hadn’t lost his mojo. She responded to his touch and kiss by running her fingers through his bare back and kissing his lips with more passion mixed with hunger. She almost felt her heart bit stop when he grabbed her knicker and pulled it down with so much force it almost tore. Opening her eyes to look at his eyes, she knew she was in for a good night.
* * *
He fell off of her, gasping for breath. They stared at each other and smiled, then laughed, a cold wind whipping through their bare skins. After a little chit chat, they cuddled, and it did not take long before he fell asleep. Eve who was feeling too good to fall asleep tried to decipher what it was that made men want to fall asleep almost immediately after sex.The night went back to being still. Except for the soft breathing sound from Tony, everything else was quiet. Her eyes lurked in the dark. The glow in her heart shone even brighter. For some reason, it felt sinfully thrilling to be in the same bed with the man of her dreams, in his room, and with their mother-in-law upstairs completely unaware of what was going on downstairs. At some point she had to close her eyes, hoping that he would again make an appearance in her dream, only this time, she would wake up with him beside her.