Bade was seated far back in the church’s multipurpose hall. It was full to capacity. Many teenagers and some parents were in attendance. On the stage was Femi, his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Makun, and the chief launcher, Pastor John Iweze.
Bade, in a few minutes of observing Femi began to admire him. He was calm, collected and most remarkably humble. He wasn’t full of himself but was quick to smile. Femi had a confident gait. He was what all the yahoozites weren’t. No wonder he had so many admirers and well wishers. Bade wished he were in Femi’s shoes.
Chioma had been ushered to the front row; a seat already reserved for her. When she was called up stage, Bade was proud of her. She sang gracefully. Her voice filled the hall and everyone was transfixed. She seemed to create an atmosphere of love, peace, hope and joy as she sang. Bade guessed it was the effect of the prayers she had prayed but wondered if prayers could be that potent. His mother’s prayers for healing seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
He took a quick scan of the audience. They were plainly lost in worship as some sang along with Chioma. When his eyes settled on Femi up front, he stopped cold. He saw in Femi’s eyes what he had seen in his own mother’s eyes when he won a prize in elementary school. He saw love and admiration in its truest form. It wasn’t the look guys in the porn film had when they saw a mate or the look the yahoozites had when they saw a beautiful girl. This was a pure look. It made Bade feel angry and guilty at the same time for the mess he had gotten himself into in the past week.
Femi was obviously lost in Chioma’s voice and in her beauty. Bade suddenly felt jealous and couldn’t explain why. He looked back at Chioma and saw her through Femi’s eyes. It seemed like a veil had been pulled off his face. She looked so beautiful in her blue skirt suit. Her dark and full hair fell against her neck. She smiled as she sang and she was simple irresistible.
Just as he began admiring her in this way, another vile thought started creeping through his mind. ‘Chioma looks just like Claire’ he remembered the boy’s words and started imagining what Chioma would look like in a more revealing outfit. He blinked severally, bit his tongue and had to pinch himself in a struggle to discard the thoughts – they were unwelcome thoughts at the moment.
Bade couldn’t get them away and he finally gave-in to the thoughts. His hands began to shake at the thought of actually experiencing the thoughts he was harboring. He then looked at Femi and the jealously he felt was heightened and he became possessive. Chioma is mine and I will have her to myself. Thoughts to justify his inordinate affection began to creep up. Chioma is the only person, about my age, that seems to care about me and spends time with me. She even said she loved me as she would a big brother. What would happen if Femi has her and she begins to ignore me? D-one told me the other day that when I have sex with any girl, she’ll become mine and won’t ever leave me. I have to keep Chioma to myself.
Bade could hardly think of anything else but he managed to get involved in a few activities that took place. The luncheon was a success. A lot of money was raised and many praised Femi’s creativity. The book was titled “True Love”. The review was brief but the summary was that love originates from God and only God, through His word, can teach humans how to truly love each other. That seemed rather unrealistic to Bade but others seemed very excited at that seemingly new revelation.
Chioma walked over towards him and they were about leaving when Chioma heard her name. She turned to see Femi hurrying towards them.
“Chioma, you made my day. Thank you so much”, he said and gave her a quick hug.
“It was my pleasure” she said.
He shifted his attention to Bade. “I’m Femi.”
“I know” Bade said, managing a polite smile. “I’m Bade. Great work you have here”. He said honestly fingering through the copy he had bought.
“Thanks. I’ll see you around. I have to appreciate other folks; you were my priority.”
Chioma blushed and she nodded. Bade nodded too.
“Thanks again, Chioma”, he said and hurried off.
Bade could see the excitement in Chioma’s eyes and wondered if he would still have a chance with her but he decided to try anyway. I would prefer to lose the fight than not to fight at all.
“Thanks for coming. Bade, it was very good having you around” Chioma said, interrupting Bade’s thoughts.
“You’re welcome” he said flatly.
They had just finished dinner. It was going to be about two hours before Chioma’s mum returned home. Chioma had rented a romantic comedy for them to watch. They both sat on the sofa facing the TV. Bade was all too aware of Chioma’s closeness. He had never been this conscious but the events of the day had changed all of that. She wore shorts and her favorite pink T-shirt.
He stole glances at her legs and wondered why he hadn’t noticed how smooth they were. Sometimes during the movie, Chioma leaned her head on his shoulder. It was not unusual for her. She trusted him. It had been nothing to him before too but now it meant the world to him. He responded by putting his arm around her shoulder. But while Chioma took it for a brotherly gesture, Bade hoped to get more from it.
The phone rang and Chioma stood up to get it. Bade watched her as she walked to the phone, watching every movement of her body, his desire mounting. She picked the phone and sat facing him, unwittingly giving him a better view of her legs. It was Femi! Bade was mad and couldn’t bear the glee he could see consume Chioma as she spoke with him. He turned away and half-heartedly watched the movie.
A scene in the movie however caught his attention. The lead actor, who was a big time player wanted to sleep with a decent girl. Seeing she won’t budge, he went into self pity, saying that nobody loved him and she too was rejecting him. In an attempt to comfort him and make him know she cared about him, she gave in to his desires. Bade decided he would do the same with Chioma. He was glad she missed that part of the movie, so she won’t know what his real intentions were.
When she was through she smiled at him on her way back to the sofa but he looked rather sad. “What’s the matter, Badez?” she said, poking him.
“Nobody loves me”
Chioma was perplexed. “Where is this coming from? But you know mum does and I do too.”
“You don’t love me Chioma. If you did, you’ll prove it”
“Badez don’t be silly. I love you and would do anything to let you know that. Name your price and I’ll do it” Chioma said, not knowing she was asking for trouble.
Bade decided to go slow. “If you love me, you won’t be hurting me.”
“Hurting you? I’m lost, Badez”
“You are drifting away from me.”
“Now this is getting weird”, Chioma said, shaking her head, frustrated. “You’re being ridiculous. What do you mean?”
“You’re getting too close to Femi and shifting your attention to him”
She smiled, relieved. “Oh that. I thought I told you we are just friends.”
Looking rather serious, Bade looked at her. “That’s how it all starts. You say he’s just a friend, and next thing I know, you two will be dating.”
“Are you being jealous, Badez?”
“Yes I am” Bade said rather too loud. “I am in love with you Chioma”
Chioma was stunned. “What?”
“I said I am in love with you. I’ve grown attached to you, loving you more and more with each passing day. And now, you’re about to kill me with what you’re doing to me.”
“Badez, stop your jokes!” she laughed nervously. Looking at him, she saw he was serious. “But we are supposed to be family.”
It wasn’t going the way Bade had expected but he couldn’t give up now. “Yes, but we are not blood related and I have fallen hard for you.”
Chioma was dumbfounded. This must be a cruel joke. She had enjoyed Bade’s company in the last three weeks and hoped they would grow closer. But thinking of him on a romantic basis was not just in the picture at all.
“I’m sorry Badez but it can’t work. I don’t want to hurt you-”
“You already have!” he said, cutting her short. He stood to leave the living room.
“Wait!” Chioma said. She ached for him. He had really come up in the last three weeks that she didn’t want to see him withdraw into his shell again, not with the new set of fellows he was meeting regularly with. “But… do you know what you are asking?”
Bade was impressed at his ability to play the role well. He sincerely cared for her but he couldn’t think straight with the hormones cruising through this body. He had to exaggerate his feelings or do whatever else was needful to have her in bed with him. He knew Chioma was proper and he would have to work on her emotions through sentimental statements. “I said I love you. Have I lied to you before?”
Chioma was beginning to lose the fight. “No” she said.
“Do you doubt me now?”
“No, I don’t. But-”
“You don’t love me?” Bade asked, his eyes filling with tears. He was surprised at himself.
“I do. But-”
“You have so many but’s today. I want to leave your house. I’ll die if you and Femi date while I’m here. It’s better I forget I ever met you and your mum.”
“Badez, I didn’t mean to-”
“You don’t have to pacify me. I’m not good or smart enough for you. Leave me to my miserable life” he said wiping at stray tears.
Chioma was short of words. Mum, I wish you were here now. If her mother was around, Chioma was sure she would have been able to handle this ugly situation. Lord, I need wisdom here. I don’t want Bade to recoil but I don’t want to lose my head or heart wrongly instead. She hoped and prayed God will show her the way somehow. “I’m sorry Badez. I promise not to date Femi” she said and saw him ease up. She decided to quickly add. “But can I still be friends with him?”
“Thanks. Come, sit down.”
“What about us?” he asked, as he lowered himself to the sofa.
“We stay as before and keep loving each other.” Chioma meant love in a brother-sister way but knew Bade would take it to mean romantic love. But if the statement seemed to please him then she was fine with it. She hoped that her mum would come home a little early to end this ordeal. She couldn’t wait to spill the whole story to her.
They resumed their position on the sofa when after a few minutes, Bade said something unintelligible.
“What did you say?” she said with her head on his shoulder.
She looked up at him and laughed but she saw that he meant it. This is getting crazy. She weighed her options. A kiss wasn’t going to hurt. She assented and moved her face towards him. He immediately took the lead and kissed her passionately, a little longer than she had hoped. It all felt silly and awkward to Chloe because the kiss meant nothing to her but there was a look of satisfaction on his face.
Bade felt he needed to continue with the script and say something that would justify what had just happened. “Thanks for proving to me that you love me”
Chioma was speechless.
“I love you Chioma; please never leave me.” She nodded. “If you ever leave me, I’ll kill myself. You have given me a reason to live.”
His words sent chills down Chioma’s spine. Where is this leading? Can I continue this way? Do I have the strength to refuse his requests and hurt him instead? It was as though he was reading her thoughts; he bent towards her again, demanding another kiss and she felt helpless to refuse him. Even as she did, she couldn’t get her mind off the nagging thoughts that filled her heart. I want to love Bade like Christ would; that’s what mum and I decided to do. But would Christ approve of my going this far in the bid to show love? She decided she would talk to her mother about it when she got home. When Bade seemed satisfied, she rested her head on his shoulders as they finished the movie. Chioma couldn’t concentrate; she just stared blankly at the screen.
Chioma was however unaware that the satisfaction on Bade’s face owed only to the fact that he felt he had kissed her as passionately as the guy in the film kissed his co-star, Claire. All his thoughts and actions were directed by what he had watched many hours back in the day. He was acting what he had watched. That was just the beginning.