Please note that this series contains some sexually explicit content, violence and offensive language. It is not appropriate for children nor an immature and sensitive audience.
A SMALL WORLD - SEASON TWO
Copyright © Ufuomaee
Tolu was stunned by Femi’s arrogant response. You must really love me? Was he mad? Couldn’t he see how much she hated him?!
And that’s when Tolu realised the problem. She hated him. She didn’t love him as a Christian ought to love her neighbour…or even her enemy. She didn’t care about his salvation. She hadn’t released him with forgiveness, and her bitterness at his betrayal was eating her up.
She began to cry to God. She got down on her knees and prayed.
“Lord, please help me! Please deliver me from this rage I feel inside towards Femi. Help me to forgive him, and to love him as I should. Help me to see him through Your eyes, as someone who needs Your love and grace, and help me to be a vessel through which You can love him.
“Lord, I love Danny. I really want things to work out with him. I want to be happy. I want to be free from the past and be happy. Please show me what I must do, and give me the grace to do it.”
Release him from judgement. Stop blaming him for your unhappiness. I saved you for one better. He was never the one for you.
Tolu was at peace as God ministered to her. She began to see that it had been God’s will, and the person she had really been angry at was God and not Femi. She was angry that He hadn’t let her have the man she loved, and thought He had been punishing her for giving herself to Femi all these years. She hadn’t realised that He had spared her for a better destiny, and had clung to the past…to what would have been…never knowing what life with Femi would have been like.
I love you and I want more for you. Trust Me, Tolu. Trust Me.
“I trust You, Lord. Thank You for saving Your best for me. Thank You for delivering me from myself and keeping me by Your grace. Help me to see myself through Your eyes as well…so that I will desire better for myself, and not settle for less. I don’t want to miss out on what You’re doing, Lord… Help me to submit to Your will always and follow You. Thank You for Danny. Help me to be the woman he needs to fulfil Your will…
“Please grant me more wisdom, so that I know how to respond to Femi. I pray that I will not hinder him from coming to You, and that he will come to know that I am not the one for him. Please minister to him, Lord. Have mercy on him, Lord. I pray that Your perfect will will be done in his life, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Tolu abided in silence in God’s presence as He healed her of her bitterness and continued His ministration of love and grace. All the weight that had been weighing her down was lifted, as she was delivered of them and restored in strength and spiritual sight. She rose up rejoicing.
It was the first Saturday in March, and the third week since Chuka had been out of work. However, things were peaceful at the Uzokas’ Bungalow in Gbagada. Husband and wife had developed a new understanding, respect and care for one another, and the atmosphere in their home was loving and friendly.
They didn’t treat each other as the enemy or even the opposition anymore, but realised that they depended on one another to have a happy home and raise their three boys. Ijeoma made more effort to guard her tongue, and look for ways to say things and make recommendations without demeaning Chuka’s leadership in their home. And Chuka was more conscious about owning his feelings and not being accusatory of nor reactionary to his wife. They were both more prayerful, humble and responsible for their own contributions to the family.
However, Chuka still hadn’t gone to Ijeoma’s father to enquire about working for him, as she had suggested. They had been getting by with the support Ifeanyi and Mary had given them, and the little savings they had. Chuka said he wanted to use this time off work to rest and pray and be sure about the direction he should take in his career. He liked being a marketer, but he had some business ideas he was interested in developing, which he hoped he could approach Mr Njokwu about when he was ready. Ijeoma accepted his response, and decided she wouldn’t bug him anymore about it.
She’d asked him what he thought about her starting a small business to add to their streams of income, and he had been excited by that. She’d found this encouraging, and had begun to think of things she could do, while still maintaining a home and three kids. She’d learnt about Childminding, as a business, and was seriously considering going into that. She knew a lot of mothers in her area who were keen to return to work, but challenged for lack of day-care services. She had begun to take an online course on this, and was preparing a business plan to run by her father too.
Ijeoma was in the kitchen preparing lunch for the family, when Chuka got the call they had both been waiting for. She heard him speak excitedly to the person at the other end, and affirm his work experience at Zion Bank and Leadway Account Managers. He ended the call with “Thank you, Ma. See you on Monday!”
The next thing she knew, he was in the kitchen, and he threw his arms around her, as he hugged her from the back. She turned around in his arms, giggling. “Who was that?”
“That, my darling, was the Human Resource Manager for Solomon Investment Bank! They have a job opening that’s perfect for me. She said, off the record, the job is mine, but I still need to come in and do an Interview and a test on Monday…but they’ve got a good recommendation for me, and are eager for me to join their staff force as HOD Brand and Communications!”
“Wow!!! That’s huge! I didn’t even know you applied to SIB,” Ijeoma said.
“Well, actually… I didn’t. It could be a head-hunter, though…” Or it could be Ifeanyi, they both thought. Either way, it was an answer to prayer and a great opportunity. Chuka hated to be indebted to a friend, but if these were one of the perks of having the right connections, then it was a blessing he was happy to accept. He only worried about if he was really up to the task to take on such a major role, if he was not chosen on merit but on favour. The thought dampened his enthusiasm, and Ijeoma sensed it.
“Congratulations, darling! I am really proud of you. I know you’ll ace the Interview,” she said, encouragingly.
Chuka nodded, and pecked her lips. “Yeah…” His excitement and joy at the job offer were now gone, as he wondered if Ifeanyi was behind his good fortune. He would find out soon enough, as he intended to call his friend to tell him about the call he had just received.
Ifeanyi was having lunch with his family on the dining table, when Chuka’s call came in.
“Hey, Man, what’s up?”
“I just got a call from Solomon Investment Bank about a job offer…”
“Oh, really? You don’t sound too excited… Wasn’t it a good offer?”
“It was. It is actually. Head of Department Brand and Communications. I’m just wondering if you had anything to do with it…”
“Well… I still get their emails about vacancies. So, I sent your CV, after including myself as one of your referees. Was that wrong?”
“So, you didn’t call in any favours?”
“No, Chuka. I didn’t even write them a letter. They didn’t call me. They obviously were impressed by your CV.”
Chuka let out a sigh of relief. He believed Ifeanyi was telling the truth. “Thanks, Man. I appreciate. I mean, even if you did write a letter, thanks! I just wanted to know if this was based on merit or favour, you know? I’d hate to feel like I was hanging on only by your word… You get what I mean?”
“I get you, Chuka. You really need to believe in yourself. Your retrenchment from work was not about you. Don’t let it destroy your confidence. I believe in you. And I’m very happy to know SIB does too!”
Chuka smiled from his heart. “Thanks, Man. I’m grateful. Greetings to your Mrs!”
“Aight… You too, Chuka! Let me know how it goes. Later.”
Ifeanyi sighed, after he had hung up the phone with Chuka. He felt sad about Chuka’s low confidence in himself, and also about his pride about accepting favours. He knew that no matter how good and qualified a person is for a task, that favour is still always needed. If not for anything, for humility.
He prayed that Chuka would come to appreciate that, and not hinder God’s favour in his life because of his pride. Ifeanyi knew, as one who had been favoured since his childhood, that favour was not something he wanted to live without. His beautiful wife, Mary, was a testament of God’s favour in his life. He smiled as he beheld her, and his happy home.
Danny was in his gym room, in his small condo in Lekki, working out and trying not to think about nor call Tolu. After how she had behaved last night, he wanted to give her some space. He also needed the space to clear his head and re-center his focus on God.
It was hard not to take it personal, but he knew that it wasn’t personal. It was her issue, and essentially between her and God. He only hoped she would include him and be as open to him as he had been with her about his past.
He was thirty minutes into his routine when his doorbell rang. He was sweaty and under-dressed, but the person at the door impatiently pressed the bell a second time, as he was delaying to make it to the door. Looking through the peep hole, Danny saw that it was Tolu, and his heart skipped excitedly.
“I’m coming, Tolu. Let me put something on…”
He returned a couple of minutes later, still sweaty, but wearing running shorts and a t-shirt. He opened the door, and she walked into his apartment. As usual, she was well-dressed and beautiful. Today, she had worn skinny, blue, faded jeans and an African print top. She looked like a model.
Danny swallowed as he beheld her frame. She came towards him for a hug, after he had shut the door, but he stepped back from her, being self-conscious about his appearance. “Let me shower, Babe. I’ll be back soon,” he said, before heading for his bedroom. “There’s some food on the stove,” he shouted from his room.
Fifteen minutes later, he returned, well-dressed in denim shorts and a polo top. She stood up to hug him, and he received her in his arms. And they just stayed there in each other’s embrace for a few minutes.
“I’m sorry,” Tolu said, at last. “I’m sorry for holding out on you.” She looked up into his eyes, and he smiled warmly at her.
He released her from his arms, and took her hand to lead her to the sofa. He stroked her face lovingly. “Have you been crying?”
“I’ve been grieving a life I thought I should be living. Femi was my first love, and my first time. He hurt me badly, and for ten years I hung on to the hurt, and the hope…that it was all some sort of misunderstanding, and that there was still a future for us.”
“So, you still love him?” Danny asked, his heart tightening.
“I love you. I’m in love with you, Danny. Seeing him again just brought back a lot of the pain, and made me confused about how I felt for a while. But he was never the man I thought he was. He wasn’t the man I loved… And I have been struggling with forgiveness. Because I just realised the man I loved was an illusion…and I’d hung on to that illusion for years. I don’t want him anymore. I want you.”
“So, have you forgiven him?”
Tolu nodded. “I believe I have. Last night, I surrendered everything to God. I realised that I had been angry with God as well. He ministered to me, and He showed me that He had a better plan for me all along. I just couldn’t see it. But now I do.”
Danny pulled Tolu in his arms, and hugged her. He placed a soft kiss on her forehead and sighed deeply. “I’m all in, Tolu. I need to know that you are all in too. And that you believe me when I tell you that I love you. I’m not Femi. I have only fierce love for you. You have to let me love you. Are you ready to be loved fiercely?”
Tolu nodded eagerly, and smiled.
“Good. Because that’s what you deserve. And that’s what I want from you.”
“I love you, Danny. I can’t wait to be your wife,” Tolu said, passionately gazing in his eyes.
They longed to kiss, but Danny remembered the importance of self-control and his duty to lead in that regard. He rested his forehead on hers and breathed in deeply. He closed his eyes and prayed for grace, as she stroked the back of his neck, lovingly.
“Let’s go out for lunch,” he breathed out, as he tore himself from her.
To be continued…
Photo credit: www.pixabay.com
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