A rose by any other name, p.1
A Rose by Any Other Name, p.1Nia Eze
A Rose by any Other Name
A Rose By Any Other Name
By Nia Eze
Copyright 2016 Nia Eze
All Rights Reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright preserved above, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright holder and the publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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TABLE OF CONTENT
Glossary of words
Note from the Author
Excerpt from Skyline, A novel by Nia Eze
Excerpt from Undead - Sarah Jane, A novel by Nia Eze
She peered at the street signs as she slowed the SUV down. She mumbled the names of the streets she had memorized and finally, she saw one which tallied with a name she had in her head.
“Mustapha Street.” She said as he turned on her car’s indicator light and turned into the street where a huge gate blocked thoroughfare. The sight was so appalling to her that she almost did not notice that the car right in front of her had come to a stop and that there was a line of waiting cars in front of it. As she stepped on the brakes, Keira contemplated this new stumbling block on the road to her quest today.
The line was caused by a small crowd of people who seemed to have created the blockade in order to talk to each car owner as they attempted to drive past the gates. Finally her car rolled up to the gated.
“Good day Madam” came the very cultured voice. Keira blinked as she turned to look at the person who had spoken. He looked ‘white’, like he was of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean descent. He was beautiful to look at! Keira felt a smile form on her face simply as a response to the one which had formed on his face.
“Good day yourself!” she replied.
“Do you live on the street?” he asked “Because I have never seen you around here before.”
“No I don’t.” Keira smiled. “I’m actually looking for an address. Cole Street. It’s supposed to be off this one.” She said
He frowned slightly as he cocked his head to the side in thought.
“There isn’t any street off this one and I really can’t think of a Cole street in the area.” He responded. “Are you sure you have the directions right?” he asked.
Keira pulled out her mobile phone and scrolled through it until she got to the message she wanted and opened it. She read out the address which had been sent to her earlier.
“It is, 14 Cole Street, Off Alhaji Mustapha Street, Aleko Lagos.”
He starred at her blankly for a few moments and said “Nope! Definitely not around here.”
“Perhaps, I can ask someone else if…” Keira began.
“This is the only street bearing Mustapha in this area and…” he interrupted only to be interrupted in turn by the blare of several horns from the cars queuing behind hers.
He looked up at the cars and walked round to the passenger’s side of her car, motioning to the others to open up the gates as he went. When he stood at her passenger door, he motioned that she release the locks on her car and she did as she stared in him in bemusement. She had never as yet met anyone with such overweening confidence.
As he hopped into the car, he said as he buckled himself in, “Let’s get out of the line we seem to be holding up.”
By the time he was done, she was parked on the side of what had turned out to be a tree lined avenue. The trees were in bloom and each tree seemed to have similar flowers of different colours. Together with the shrubbery and other greenery, it made for a charmingly beautiful street.
“I’m Majid. You are?” he introduced as he put his hand out for a handshake. Keira put her hand in his for a return of the gesture and could have sworn that an electric current caught hold of her hand and gripped the rest of her body in a charge that held her immobile and scattered her thoughts. She shook her head discreetly hoping she could unlock her frozen brain by shaking it loose. It was his continued stare however that jolted her from her numb state. Oh lah! He was gorgeous!
“Keira. My name is Keira.” She responded through a tongue that felt unusually thick.
“Nice to meet you Keira.” He said as he shook her hand and released it “So… Cole Street? Who or what were you hoping to find there?” he asked.
“A customer.” She responded nonplussed. “I sell stuff.” She continued by way of explanation. His raised eyebrow cued her to the fact that her explanation was quite lacking. She took a quick breathe and continued “Clothing, accessories, household goods, jewelry….stuff!” she explained even as she wondered why she was being so forthcoming with a stranger sitting in her car!
“Ah!” he drawled, nodding his head with a teasing smile. “I see. Does this customer owe you some money by any chance? He enquired.
“Not at all! He placed some orders and I was supposed to drop them off at that address. I do an online shopping thin, just started that off.” She shut her mouth abruptly in consternation. Why was she telling him these things?
“Well Keira, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but that address does not exist.” He stated.
Keira huffed. “How can you be so certain?” she asked in exasperation.
“Because, like I said earlier, this is the only Mustapha Street in this area and there are no other streets going off it. It just goes straight down and joins Aleko drive at the other end and that’s it!” he said.
Keira huffed again, this time in a mix of exasperation tinged with some defeat. A dead end! And it was the second one today. Never would she have imagined that getting the online shopping off the ground would be so…crushing. It had been a really huge order too; the biggest to have come in through her website in the month since she had started it. At least, she hadn’t received any money that would need refunding. It was a payment on delivery offer. She had been so excited about it this morning. Oh well! Another day, another story!
She looked up at Majid to find that he was staring intently at her. She pinned a polite smile on as she said, “Thanks. Perhaps our wires crossed. I have a number I can call somewhere on my phone. I’ll try it again later on.” She said.
He sat, just looking at her, not saying anything. It didn’t even seem that he had heard anything she had just said.
“Did you hear me?” she asked pointedly.
“Oh I did.”He said quietly. Then he flexed himself as if he were unfolding his body in her seat, hi
“You are a really beautiful woman.” He said softly. Keira’s mind flashed the memories of every conversation she had had about talking to strangers and how oyibo people were weird. She wondered if she was about to experience some weirdness firsthand. With the way her day had been going… and here she was blushing. It wasn’t even that she was particularly light skinned, she just blushed really easily. It had always been so and had rendered her a very ineffective liar so many times while growing up.
“There’s no need to blush.” He continued. “It’s the truth.”
“Thank you Mr. Majid.” She said crisply, “I need to be on my way now.” She continued, indicating that he use the door with her chin.
He smiled, really widely. Keira felt it like a drop kick to her stomach. It seemed to pack a physical punch. Goodness! He was…beautiful! She felt like she was literally leaking out through her skin.
“It’s been my pleasure Keira. May I have your business card?” he asked.
“Y-yes-s.” she stammered and mentally rolled her eyes at herself.
She crossed her hand over to reach the glove compartment where she often left some complimentary cards for just such situations. His hand shot out and gripped hers. Again, Keira felt all of her caught up in that static he seemed to create around her. She felt the contents of her brain scramble out of reach even as her pulse raced and her heart thudded in her chest.
“Is that a wedding ring?” he asked. Keira looked at her hand and shook her head.
“No. it isn’t.” she responded as she pulled out of his grasp and flipped the glove compartment open and took out a card. Resentment and attraction waged a war within her. Why should this perfect stranger have such a…an effect on her? She handed the card to him and released the car locks again.
“Thank you so much Mr. Majid.” She began with more starch in her voice than before. “It was very kind of you to help me out. Now, I really need to leave.” She said.
He smiled again as he opened the door to climb out of her car.
“May I call you? Within the week?” he asked.
Keira was sorely tempted to bite out a rude response but settled with an abrupt, “Alright” and a frown.
He gave a small wave and finally hopped out of the vehicle, slamming the door shut behind him. Keira felt breathe she had not realized she was holding whoosh out of her lungs. She threw the SUV in gear and navigated it through a U-turn.
As she drove out past the gates, she dared not look back through her rear view mirror. She already knew what she would have seen if she did. The thought of the sight made her blood roar in a strange elation. Majid, still standing in the same spot as when he had hopped out of her car, with her card held up to his eyes and his eyes trained on her car with the same fascination with which she was watching him through the corner of her eyes through the rear view mirror.
For some reason she did not want to examine too closely, she hummed a nonsensical tune to herself as she drove off.
Keira shook her head in disbelief.
“It would have been sooooo difficult to call me when it became obvious that I wasn’t going to show abi?” she said, her amazement colouring her voice.
Bimpe shrugged her shoulders. “You know how Clara is nah! Once she has set her mind to something, she no dey move!”
“So you guys just left?! Hah! Na wa for una o!” Keira said as she continued with her task of re-arranging the beddings she had just received from her supplier.
“Once we realized what had happened, we all had a good laugh over it and just ordered some ice cream. Eventually we left. But I’m sure something is in the works for later this week though.” She shrugged as she came around to join Keira in her task.
“Hmph! This time, no shenanigans o! Just tell me when and where to show up! Imagine! I missed my own shower because you girls were looking for who to surprise! Hiahn!” Keira shook her head again. “Dear, you know nah…me and surprise…we no dey gel!”
Bimpe snorted a laugh at that and they continued their task in companionable silence.
Keira’s mind went back to that afternoon. She found that her mind had been sneaking back to that day rather frequently. She had not received any call in the three days since then. She wondered whether he had ever really intended to call. She wondered why she was concerned whether he called or not. She remembered how she had felt when he had touched her and how breathless it had left her. Had it been real? Was she magnifying the incident in her mind?
“Keira!” she jerked out of her reverie and turned to her friend’s questioning look.
“Hah! Where were you?” She asked drawing a circle against the side of Keira’s head.
Keira shook her head as she bent to her task, a small smile forming helplessly on her lips. “Nowhere, everywhere…this wedding…that’s why I wanted a smaller event.” she sighed.
“Jude wanted a much bigger event you know.” Bimpe reminded her.
“I know.” Keira sighed again.
Bimpe dropped the package of beddings she had just picked up.
“Babe, is everything okay? She asked, turning a serious mien on Keira.
“How do you mean?” Keira went on arranging beddings.
“You seem off. Off of things. Like you are lost… gone somewhere else far away.”
“How?” Keira asked finally leaving the beddings alone, a frown of consternation forming on her face.
“Are you having jitters?” Bimpe asked.
“As in bridal jitters? Keira questioned. Bimpe nodded her head.
“No! Why should I?” Keira asked, baffled by the question.
“You tell me.” Bimpe responded. “Jude…is a great guy. You’ve both been together so long I can’t remember a time when you guys weren’t. And in all of those years, he’s never cheated on you. He’s always been so caring, coddling you like a baby. Everyone, everyone in his family loves you and your parents think the earth and sun and moon revolves around him!” She rolled her eyes. Then became serious again, “Why do I sense a ‘but’? What’s wrong?”
“Hiahn! Bimpe o! Which one be this nah?” Keira asked in some agitation. “’But’ ke? There is no ‘but’ o! Is this because I missed the shower?” she continued rhetorically, “But no be me cause am nah?
“Of course it has nothing to do with your missing the shower. You couldn’t have helped that ‘auto correct’ happened and…”
“There isn’t a ‘but’ Bimpe.” Keira interjected.
“Why are you getting so worked up nah? Bimpe questioned.
“BIMPE!!!” Keira fake screamed. “THERE IS NO ‘BUT’!!!”
There was a sudden silence as the both of them were shocked by the vehemence of that response. Bimpe picked up the bedding she had dropped and continued with her task. After a moment, Keira did the same. They worked on in silence for awhile, each lost in her own thoughts.
“You…” Bimpe sighed. “I love you Keira. And I want you to be humongously happy. You deserve to be humongously happy.” Bimpe said earnestly, having turned to Keira as she spoke.
“I am.” Keira said simply, overwhelmed by the love she felt for this woman.
“Are you?” Bimpe asked.
“Yes dear. I am.”
Bimpe searched Keira’s face and then nodded. “I just…be sure?” she said.
Keira smiled “I am” she repeated as she pulled her friend in for a hug.
Keira stared at the phone with a fierce scowl marring her face.
“I do not believe this!” she whispered loudly. Did he drop the phone or was that, she peered at the bars on her phone, bad network? She put the phone to her ear but no sound was coming from it other than static.
“Hello?” she said tentatively even though she knew the call had been dropped. The question was, was it dropped by her husband or by the network. The dull ache she had been carrying in her heart coalesced into something so acute that it temporarily s
It was telling that she would think this at all. Jude. She sighed as she mentally called out his name. She wished she had someone to talk to. Someone who would not assure her that she was making mountains out of molehills and that would not immediately launch into her defense without advising her first. She just wanted to unburden to someone who would not judge and possibly tell her what to do but she had no one like that. She could not think of any one person she knew who could be that for her.
She drew in a long breath and gasped out an exhale as she got off her bed. The in-use light on her phone came on and she turned towards it in anticipation. No. it was not Jude calling back. It was just a notification message from her network providers.
She went into the bathroom en-suite her bedroom and began her nightly ablutions. The heaviness in her heart translated to her movements. Everything felt leaden, like it was weighed down with loaded weights.
Was her marriage failing? Was she being paranoid? Who could she call to ask? Her friends were mostly unmarried and the few that were she honestly did not wish to ask any questions and she would not call her mum! That woman could worry enough for Africa. She breathed heavily.
As she walked back to her bedroom, nothing had sorted itself out in her head. She lay back down on her bed, her eyes darting to her phone to see if the screen would light up. She went over every nuance of her conversation with Jude in her head. No, there was nothing out of the ordinary, just something missing. She sighed as she put off the lights and settled in to sleep.
The sound of the entrance door swinging open pulled her head up from the papers in her hand. The man who had just walked into her business premises looked around as if trying to get his bearings. As he made a small turn, his eyes finally alighted on her seated off to the side as she was and his eyes widened in recognition.
“Hey Pretty Lady!” he smiled as he walked towards her.
Keira peered at him closely as she struggled to make out his features against the rays of the sun in her face. She stood and moved out of the direct sunlight to better see him and recognition fired up like lightening through her.
“Mr….Majid.” She smiled as the name came back to her in a moment. It was a trait that had stood her well in business. She rarely forgot a name or a face.
“Quite an age!” she exclaimed in her best salesperson’s voice as she held out her hand for a handshake.
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