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Written by Lola Hikmat…

Dare couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the reason for his sleepless nights for a year now. The lady that had him waking up in the middle of the night aching.
“Yes” he replied before Stella can talk.
“What a small world” he directed at her
Stella kept her gaze to the floor, battling with different emotions. What should she do, how should she explain to Lola, how will she face him.
“Are you alright” Lola asked her.
That jolted her back to life.
“Yes” she replied.
“Let us move” Lola said cheerfully
She knew something was amiss and that her friend was disturbed she decided not to question her.
“Where did you guys meet” she couldn’t help but ask.
“In Paris ” her brother replied
” OK that should be a year ago” 
“Yes” her brother replied
Stella was extremely quiet throughout the whole journey. She just couldn’t understand why life is treating her this way.. How can he be her best friend’s older brother she kept wondering.
“we are home” Lola declared.
It was a happy re- union for the family and everyone was obviously happy.
“Mom I have to go now ma “Stella announced
” But dear you just arrived here ” Lola’s mom replied.
“I need to deliver a message for my Dad”she said.
” How is he by the way ” Lola’s father inquired
“He is fine sir” she hastily replied, and called out to Lola to let her know she is on her way .
“Okay, should I drop you?” she asked
“No I will find my way”
“I will see her to the gate” Dare suddenly announced.
“No you don’t have to, you need to rest from such a long trip”. she quickly said
” I insist”
She quietly let him lead her out of the house.
“So? he said
“so what?”
“Why did you leave that morning” he asked once they were outside
“I don’t owe you an explanation” she replied
“Yes, you do and by God I am going to get it from you” he threatened.
“What will you do force words out of my mouth? ”
“Yes, if that is what it takes”
“well I guess I have to go now”
” I will come for you”
Stella left the house with a very heavy heart .Her phone rang and she picked.
“Is this Stella George” the caller asked
“Yes, how may I help you? ” she inquired.
“Your dad was rushed here after he collapsed from heart failure” he is presently at the city hospital.”
“What!!! I will be there right away” please Lord protect him. She prayed.
Stella got to the hospital quickly, but she was directed to wait for the doctor that was attending to him. It seems like ages to her and she had various thought crossing her mind. She kept praying to God to please spare her father he is the only one she has, her mother died when she was 10 years of age. It was her father that had been in charge of her upbringing. Though a very busy man, he had always been both a father and a mother. She needed him now more than ever.
The doctor came and told her to follow him to his office. She was told he had heart arrest and collapsed he was lucky to have been brought there on time. He has to spend 1 week in the hospital under proper medical attention, then they can decide when he is fit to leave.
After she left the doctor’s office in tears she checked on her father and found him sleeping. She sat beside him and watched over him for hours. Around 6 pm she decided to put a call through to Lola
“Hello girlfriend” Lola answered
“Hi, I called to inform you that dad is in the hospital”
“what is wrong with him ” she asked
“Nothing much, everything is under control now, just wanted you to know. I will be absent from the fashion house for some time”
“Have you eaten” Lola asked
“No, I have been pretty occupied”
“Which hospital are you right now, I will join you right away” Lola said.
“City hospital”
“Okay ” Lola said.
Lola arrived 30 minutes later with a food flask and new clothes for her.
“I brought you these, figured you won’t want to leave his side” she said
“Thanks”
“How is he now”
“He is stable now”
“That is good”
“Please don’t get yourself too worried, he is going to be fine”
“Thanks”
Lola stayed with her for 2hours then bade her goodbye.
She prayed throughout that night and made sure the press was kept out of the hospital premises.
After her father was discharged, she was warned to make sure he is not stressed or disturbed and his every need be met as at when due. She was told he needed maximum rest. She happily promised to obey the doctor orders, anything to bring her father to his feet. The Adams were really supporting throughout that period, they were the only one who stood by her. She will be forever grateful to them for the support given to her. She was happy she didn’t have to face Dare at all for the past three weeks and at the same time it made her heart empty.
“You have a visitor ” one of the maid told her .
“who”
“A Young man, ma”
“Okay I will be downstairs shortly”
She wondered who it was, she made her way downstairs and froze at the presence before her.
“Hi” Dare greeted.
“Hi, yourself”
“I wanted to check on, I had what happened to your father”
“Thanks”
“Lola who is there” Her father asked from the stairs
“Father you should be resting”
“Stop treating me like a minor”
“I am not”
“Introduce me to your friend”
“He is not my friend he is Lola’s brother”
” Malomo’s son”
“Yes sir, I have heard a lot about you” Dare answered
“Welcome to my house, son. Your father told me you would arrive but due to my ailment I couldn’t make it to the welcome party”
“It is Okay sir”
” How about, I host you and your family for dinner tomorrow ”
” I would deliver the message ”
“okay son, looking forward to meeting you very well”
Stella watched the exchange between her father and Dare and nearly lost it when her father invited Dare to dinner the next day.Dare announced that he wants to be on his way and her father bade him goodbye and returned to his room.
“I will see you tomorrow” Dare told her, she saw him to his car and returned inside.
The next day came, Stella was busy preparing for the Adams visit. She made sure the food was well cooked and had the maids arrange the dinning well. She bought different fruits. At around 6:30 she changed and made sure she was as simple in look as possible. The Adams arrived 30 minutes later and was welcomed. The men immediately took to discussing business and politics while Lola helped her in preparing the table. Dinner was delicious and Mrs Adams complimented her well. Her father took special liking to Dare to her dismay.
“So when do you plan to return” her father asked Dare
“Sir, I am actually back in Nigeria for good”
“Wow, that is good, so any plan on ground”
“I actually want to start my construction company here”
“That is good”
“I only need someone to help my feasibility study”
“Stella can do that”
“Dad I think Mr Dare can find another person” she pointed out.
“She would be perfect sir” Dare said eying her
“You will help him pumpkin, won’t you” her father asked.
She felt cornered and didn’t have a choice.
“Yes” she replied.
All through, Lola was eying her suspiciously and felt there is something she is not telling her. Dare fixed her meeting with her at her shop and promised to pick her up on Monday.

To Be Continued…

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