Mila winced when she felt the freezing touch of the ice on the bruises around her neck. Lily’s fingers had done a good number on her and her face hurt as well from the well aimed punch she had received during their tussle. She was able to bear it because Tunji kept whispering to her words that worked faster than the effect of the ice and towel. When she held on to his hand out of pain, he stopped and dropped the bowl on the bedside table and then removed his shoes before joining her on the bed.
He hugged her, short of words to express his shock at what had happened that evening. He still couldn’t believe that Lily had pulled such a stunt. He knew she was a wild one but he couldn’t believe that such violence she displayed that evening had always laid low beneath that cool exterior and air of sophistication she always had on. He shut his eyes tight and whispered to Mila,
“Babe, if anything had happened to you, I never would have forgiven myself. I’m so sorry Sunshine. How badly did she hurt you?”
Mila whimpered and raised her hand to indicate that it hurt terribly. It felt numb cos Lily had exerted so much pressure and force while they struggled with each other. So Tunji stood up and said,
“Come. I’ve run you a hot bath. Let’s get you cleaned up and then, we’ll do something about the aches. Okay?”
Mila nodded and he carried her in his arms to the bathroom. There, he removed her under wear and led her into the bathtub. He didn’t join her inside; instead, he took another small towel, lathered it and used it to wash her in a circular motion. He didn’t scrub, just a little rub here and there then he left her to soak in the warm water that smelt of aromatic ointments to soothe the mind. Mila closed her eyes in gratitude as she allowed the scent to ride her senses. When she opened her eyes, she saw Tunji smiling down at her, she smiled back and he bent down to kiss her on her fore head.
“I love you Mila. You’ve got no idea” he said
Mila didn’t reply. Her entire being could attest to the fact that she was head over heels in love with this man. He kept showing her in so many ways how much he loved her and the extent to which he would go to secure and keep her affections for him. That, she couldn’t and wouldn’t take for granted. It was rare to meet a young, successful, wealthy, and powerful man like Tunji who loved hard . It baffled her and it excited her. She had never felt this way with anyone before and she was glad that her love was finally requited.
Tunji led her back to the bed and gently massaged her with the same aromatic ointment he had added to her bath. He gave so much attention to the task that whenever he heard her wince in pain, he would stop and whisper sweet nothings to her. This touched Mila so much that she allowed the tears that had been threatening to escape her eyes flow. Then she sat up, prompting Tunji to stop. He was a bit surprised and asked,
“What’s wrong Sunshine? Did I hurt you?”
“No. I’m just scared”
“Babe, I understand. You’re safe with me now. Lily’s gone. I promise, no one will ever hurt you again”
“That’s not why I’m scared T. It’s more than that”
“Then tell me. What is it?”
“I just don’t understand. Why do you love me?”
Tunji sighed and said after a moment “I’ve asked myself that same question over and over again Mila but I can’t seem to place my finger on the reason. But one thing I know for sure is that, you complete me Mila”
That took Mila unawares. She knew he loved her but not to that extent. That was too deep for her to comprehend so she asked “How?”
Tunji knelt in front of her and said “Look at me Mila. Anyone would look at me and see an accomplished young man who’s got it all but I know where there’s a vacuum in my life and you filled it up the moment you walked up to me at Zenbah that fateful day. Ever since, I promised myself I wasn’t ever letting you go”
Mila was overwhelmed with so much emotions she couldn’t describe. She held her head in her hands and said quitely,
“Oh Tunji! You’ve got no idea what I’ve been through this before in the hands of men. The most horrible experience happened a year before I met you and I’ve been treading carefully with men ever since. I got burnt and stung by my love. I don’t want that to happen again. That’s why I’m scared”
“Shhh” Tunji said and raised her face to look at him gently “Look at me Mila, look at me” he said
Mila looked at him and he held her face in place so she could meet his deep piercing gaze.
He said “I’m not going anywhere Mila. I’m not. I’m here now, I’ll be with you whenever and wherever you need me. It’s us now. Just us always. Do you understand that?”
Mila stared deeply into his eyes as if searching for the truth or any inclination at all if her was lying but he had his soul in his eyes and all she could see was a man who was ready to ride or die with her. She nodded as she said “Yes, yes, I believe you”
He leaned in to her and kisses her softly. He withdrew and added, “You won’t ever get burnt with me Mila. I promise. Okay?…”
Mila nodded. She felt tipsy, tipsy with every emotion that could describe her joy and love for Tunji Jacobs. She loved him. Yes she did and he loved her more. That was all that mattered. Nothing else matters. As he drew her into a tight hug, she laughed out loud as she imagined Simi”s reaction when she gave her the full gist. She mouthed a “Thank you Simi” as she thanked her stars as well for the boldness to walk up to this man that fateful day. She had always been one that quoted Sefi Atta’s “Everything Good Will Come” to herself when things turned sour with her. Now, her “Everything Good” has come in a cocktail style. She had an amazing family that supported her, a great job that has helped her grow in so many capacities and the best man ever. Her everything good has come. She laughed happily as Tunji kissed her loudly on the cheek and all over her face playfully.
The photo album still laid opened on the floor in the living room. The whole place still had traces of the scuffle that had happened. The cleaner will come in the morning to clean up. And everything would go back to normal.