My Destiny's Game (2)

It came to a point whenever I was home on holidays, I spent more time in Rachel's place than in my own home.

"We hardly see you these days, Jul. You are always with Rachel. Have you fallen in love with her? Is she your new girlfriend? What about Funmi?" Mark, my younger brother queried one day.

"Are you jealous?" I countered teasingly. It was a Saturday and we were downstairs washing our parents' cars in the courtyard.

"You bet I am! I have lost my only brother to a 'strange' woman! Brother snatcher!" he said in mock anger.

I laughed, playfully splashing him with some water from the bucket on the ground. 

"Stop oh! Or I will throw this soapy rag at you!" he said, waving the cloth at me threateningly. I laughed again and ran into the house.

Later, in my room I thought about what my brother had said earlier about Rachel. He could be right. 

For whenever I was with her, I felt a kind of happiness and inner peace that I had never felt with any other girl including my current girlfriend, Funmi. 

We had been dating for nearly two years and though I cared about her a lot, things had changed since I met Rachel. 

Most times, she was the one on my mind, the one I was always thinking about.

  I was not sure she was aware of the way I felt about her; I had not told her about my feelings for her but I knew it was only a matter of time.
  A few days before I was to return to school, I invited Rachel out on a date. I borrowed my Mum's car and we went to watch a movie. 

 That evening before I dropped her at home, I opened up about the way I felt about her.
 "I know this might come as a surprise to you. But I can't pretend any more. I'm in love with you, Rachel," I stated.

 She did not look surprised or anything; she just looked up at me quickly before stating simply:
  "You can't be. You have a girlfriend."

  "I know. But I don't love her. It's you I love and want to be with," I stated. I added that when I returned to school, I was going to break up with Funmi

 "It's not fair to her, remaining with her when I'm in love with someone else," I pointed out. That day, she did not give me any firm answer; she said she needed time to think about my proposal. 

 So, I remained hopeful as we parted that night.

  On my last day, I went to Rachel's house to inform her mother about my leaving for school the next day.

 "She has gone to the salon to fix her hair," the woman said on my arrival. She was watching a movie showing on the cable TV in the living room so I sat to keep her company. 

But she seemed to have lost interest in the film for she was more interested in chatting especially about her youngest daughter.

 "So, you like Rachel. I knew it! I could tell from the way you look at her!" she declared succinctly.

 "What?" I said, taken by surprise at her words.

  She laughed before saying:

 "Rachel told me everything. She tells me about her love life, you know. Unlike her sister!" 

  She paused before adding:

 "I think she likes you too from the way she talks about you. You know, you are the first guy she has shown interest in since Tony."

 Rachel had never mentioned him before and I became curious about him.
 "He was her ex-boyfriend," she explained when she saw the quizzical expression on my face. 

 "I think he was her first love; she used to be so crazy about him. When they were together, she would talk about him all day long till I got sick of hearing his name! 
But two years ago, they broke up and he left the country. He's based in Canada now. Though she denies it, I think my daughter still loves him."

  Rachel came in shortly after.

 "Hope Mum has not been boring you with tales of the past when she was the most beautiful girl in Nigeria!" she said teasingly.

 I laughed at her words.

 "No. We were talking about you instead," I stated. She glared at her Mum, grumbling about how she would not mind her business but always sticking her nose in her affairs. 

 "Busybody Mama!" she scoffed. Then picking up her bag, she went to her room.

  Her Mum laughed, stating: "What other business do I have but you? Afterall, I'm a jobless woman!"

 "Your hair looks fine," I complimented her sometime later as she saw me off. She smiled up at me and to my surprise, took my hand in hers.

 We walked in silence till we got to the gate of my house.
 "I will miss you," I said, holding onto her hand. 

 "Call me when you get to school," she said.

 "You bet I will!" I assured her. I kept to my promise, calling her regularly and enquiring about her Mum. 

 It was while we were chatting one day on phone that she stated:

 "Julian, I'll like to..."

    To be continued
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