blished a solid business for you. He is my father and I know him too well, more reason why Im the only one who comes visiting him. He changes girls all the time and that disgusts my older siblings. I just understand him sometimes because he is old and lonely. You stand to gain a lot than him if you really stop resisting and just give in ” she paused to see if I was buying what she was saying but I maintained a blank look.

”Okay, think of cooking, I love your meals. You mustn be the one cooking, you could start a business in cooking. It will sell off and you can start having that independent life you so much desire. ”

Her speech was so smooth and I wouldve fallen for it if I didn know any better. Her father was in his late sixties, what could I possibly be doing with him despite all the money he had. I just knew it wasn right and didn agree with my person. On a second thought, I wondered what I could gain from having an affair with the senator. I could finally trace my family and go back home.

What should I do?

The rest of the drive was spent in silence until we reached the house. The compound was empty, no cars to indicate a party was going to happen that night, it looked so dark. I wondered if at all anyone remembered it was Damis birthday. Together we went to the sitting room and the light suddenly came up.

”Surprise! ” , everyone chorused.

I had that electric feeling run through my brain and I remembered again. It had been my twenty fourth birthday and I was standing right in front of the sitting room like this. Everyone was gathered with beautiful smiles plastered on their faces and a card that said ”Happy Big 24! ”. I remembered.

It was only brief as I looked around and saw Dami hugging everyone excitedly and I smiled too. I could relate with that feeling. I knew then, with patience in my heart that I was going to remember everything one day. Who I was exactly.

My eyes swept the room and I saw Tare staring at me like he was lost. I smiled at him and he nervously smiled back and looked away. What was that for? I ignored him the rest of the night. Danis party was really beautiful, the senator was sure a man with good taste. He spoiled her silly. The thought of accepting his advances crossed my mind again and I waved it off. But each time I saw him looking at me, the thought always came back.

I felt tired from all the dancing, I decided it was time to retire. Walking down the hallway to my room, someone grabbed me from behind and before I could tell who it was, wet hot lips were crushing down mine. I fluttered my eyes open to see Tare and I closed them back again to savor in this moment. He kissed me with so much urgency and need like he has been denying himself of this for a very long time. He grabbed my waist, fondled my body with his other hand while still kissing me. My hands kept running around his hair and ears as my heart pounded with so much ferocity. His lips tasted so delicious.

He pulled away when Dami walked in on us. She stood fixed, looking at us with her mouth wide open. She couldn find any word to say as she just stared. After some awkward moments, Tare apologized and left and I was left standing stupid, with my dress still ruffled from the kiss, looking at her not sure what to say.

”Are you really cousins? ”

”No ”

”Then, what? ”

”Its a long story. Please sit with me while I explain it all to you. ”

”Its my birthday Oge, I have guests ”

”Please ”, at that moment I saw myself losing an important friendship.

”Okay. Five minutes ”

We sat down and explained everything to her and how I ended up in her fathers house.

”Oh my goodness Oge. How could you not tell me all of this. I thought we were friends, I could at least help you find your parents. Im even more mad that you hid this from me ”

” I wasn sure of telling you because you always sided with your dad ”

”Yes he is my father but I only advised you to think of accepting him, only because I felt you had no option again. I was told you lost your whole family. I felt my father could give you a new life. Now that you mention you have another family and life out there but can seem to remember, the most important thing to do is to reunite you with them ”

”You would do that for me? ”

”Of course. Come on ” she said hugging me, then turned and looked at me again.

”Do you really love Tare ”

”I think so ”

”Do you think he loves you? ”

”I don know. Maybe ”

”Girl, if its a ”Maybe ” then you have to get your head out of there. A man should be sure of a woman he wants and make her feel same way too. If not, then he might just not be the one for you. Besides, my dad has a hot temper, he just might throw you guys out immediately or even lock you in prison. He can be jealous, don let him catch you though ”

We smiled and the rest of the night went smoothly.

Tare didn speak of the kiss again, he avoided me. And for the first time, I took Damis advice to forget him. I started ignoring him too and acted like he never existed. Some of the workers noticed it because they knew how close we were (as cousins) and when they asked me I gave an excuse. I avoided him more and after some time, he got tired of the whole silent treatment and came to apologize. He met me at the lobby and held my hand which I removed at once. I told him I didn care anymore but then he opened up.

”Oge, I was scared of losing this job that was why Ive never made any move. This job means a lot to me because the world out there is harsh. I just couldn help myself the other night. Im sorry ”

”Stop saying you are sorry ”

”I don care about the job anymore. Its you I want Oge ”

”You don mean that. The job is your life ”

”I am in love with you and we will take this one step at a time ”

I have always dreamt of him saying these words and to hear them said to me calmed every doubts I had in my heart. I let him kiss me again but that kiss was cut short. Again.

”What?! ” ”In my house?! ”

I panicked as I stood up immediately from where I sat. The senator was red eyed as he removed his spectacles.

”You deceive me, in my own house? Eee Tare, after everything Ive done for you? ”

Tare steadied me behind him and turned to the senator.

”Im sorry sir. Im sorry that you had to find out this way ”

”You mean about you and your girlfriend who is your supposed cousin? ”

”Sir we can explain ” I pitched in.

”Yall can explain later in prison. This is identity fraud ”

”Sir, please ” Tare knelt before him. ”Take only me but don punish her. Its all my fault ”

The senator ignored us and called the police who came to arrest us. Dami was coming in to the impound when they were leading us away. She pleaded with her father to let us go but he refused. I don know what she later said to him but he let me free but Tare was taken away by the policemen.

I felt empty once again. I keep getting people that cared about me in trouble. I didn know what to do, I was exhausted from trying to find something for myself in the world. I lost hope. I had no one.

”Don give up now Oge. ” Dami said standing me up from where I lay on the tarred road after chasing the police car to bring back Tare.

”Im tired Dami. Ive lost two new families Ive made in a space of months. Im sorry but allow me to give up ”

”No. I can . I told you how bad my fathers temper is. Right now, Im not sure of bringing Tare out from there but I promise you, I will try all my best to bring him out and help him find his feet back again. But as for you, we need to get you out of here. He hates you right now and I don want him to hurt you. Come on. We need to leave right now ”

”Allow him to hurt me. Im even tired of struggling and finding peace and having it snatched away ”

”Now stop, Oge ” she sounded angry.

”I can no longer tolerate you anymore if you keep sounding pathetic. Don you want to see your family again. Tare is not your only family. Im here but for you to see your family, you have to be alive. Now stand up ”

I stood up and followed her to the car where she packed. We entered and no word was said as she drove until we reached a bus stop.

”Now Oge. Remember what I had told you about finding your family. Well I have made some research about families that their twenty five year old daughter was missing and most of the research keeps turning up to a particular city. I had wanted us to go together but with the new situation at hand. Its best you go alone. ”

She paused to wipe my tears again for the second time.

”My friend will be at the arrivals waiting when you come into the city. Ive told her all about you. She will help you and the good part is that she is a professional cook. She cooks for big occasion, so while you search for your parents, you can do something you love. ”

”Thank you Dami, I could never repay you ”

”Please don . Just promise me one thing ”

”Whats that? ”

”Promise me to never be pathetic no matter how tough things get. To remain strong ”

I paused. It sounded easy but it would be difficult. One thing I was sure of, was that, if Dami could be strong for me at this point, then I have to be strong for myself too.

”I promise ”

We hugged each other so tightly and shed some tears as she saw me off. Giving me a wad of cash inside a purse to take care of myself and get things I would need. I was already missing her. I quietly sat on the bus while she waited for us to leave.

How did I get so lucky with friends.

The bus started leaving and as it picked up speed, we waved goodbye to each other as she receded into the distance until finally I couldn see her anymore.

I wondered solemnly if we would cross paths again.

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