There is an aching
There’s a hole in my chest
That the crown of a king doesn’t change me
Jon Bellion (Fashion)
Tori rubbed the sleepiness off her face. She sat up
reclining on the wall placing the pillow on her
stretched out legs. The rays of light that flooded the
room through the window made her saw how
beautiful the room actually was. It’s not like she
didn’t see it yesterday but it was late, dark and she
was tired too.
The supposed guest room was rather too spacious
compared to what she was expecting. A cubicle-like
room would have been okay. She wasn’t really in a
situation where she could possibly choose.
Tori rolled the duvet off her while she sat on the bed
as she slipped on a pair of flip-flops by the bedside,
yawning. It was a few minutes past six and it
surprised her it was this bright already. The house
was silent which made it seem like nobody had woken
up just yet. She took a trip to the bathroom to clean
up then tiptoed down the corridor her legs barely
touching the ground to the kitchen. She didn’t want to
wake anybody up while she was at it. If she was
going to stay here, she should as well earn it.
The kitchen was neat and items there were neatly
arranged. It was like no cooking hazard occurred
there just yesterday. Tobi’s mum might not be a
genie when it comes to cooking but she sure knows
how to clean things up. She wondered what his mum
would say if she happens to see her in their home this
morning. There is a possibility she might just kick her
out considering the fact that Tobi didn’t sought her
approval before bringing her home. She was sleeping
when they got back and Tobi had said they would be
talking about it the next morning. So nobody knows
she was there except him.
Is it even a good idea she was in the kitchen? Trying
to gain approval by warming her way into their hearts
through the kitchen?
Does that even make sense?
But it would be pretty rude too if she sat back in the
guest room and do nothing.
It’s just for a while. It’s just until she makes enough
to get her own place. Tori silently consoled herself
biting her lips until they turned pink in determination.
She moved to the end of the kitchen that has a piece
of paper pasted on the tiled walls. She smiled as she
traced the outline of the paper with her fingers at the
poorly sketched handwritten food timetable.
‘What are you doing?’ The voice scared her and her
heart rose to her chest. She had turned before she
realised it was Tobi’s voice. How she dreaded hearing
another person’s voice aside his. He was leaning on
the wall beside the door. An unreadable expression on
‘I’m just huh…er…’ Her words got caught up in her
throat. It seems like she hasn’t recovered from the
shock just yet. Realising her fingers still lingered on
the paper, she instantly withdraw her finger like she
just got shocked.
He walked to her gracefully and Tori seemed more
scared. She felt caught.
Caught doing what exactly?
She was acting rather too jumpy if you’d ask me. Her
jumpiness was actually due to fact she hadn’t gotten
over being embarrassed before him. She never
imagined he was going to see the helpless side of her.
Shrugging off the obvious shame she felt in an
instance, her face lit up and she smiled at him
‘Good morning.’ She greeted beaming, trying to be
‘You were going through this…’
‘Yeah. Your mum told me you made it. I saw it
yesterday and I was curious so she told me.’
‘You were in the kitchen yesterday?’
Did her big mouth just let the cat out of the bag. She
bit her lip slowly. She wished she could smack senses
‘No…not exactly though…’
‘You don’t need to lie about it. I know you cooked
yesterday. There is no miracle worker that could
change mum’s cooking skill that much. So you can
just go ahead and tell the truth.’ He said placing his
hands on the kitchen counter.
‘What were you doing in the kitchen this early? If you
were hungry you can just grab some cereals or make
oath for now…’ He stopped to look at her like he just
got a grip of the obvious. ‘Or were you trying to make
breakfast for everyone?’ He pronounced the words like
he has never heard anything as unvelievable as that
Tori shrugged then nodded her reply.
‘You took me in. You don’t expect me to sit back and
do nothing to show my appreciation? Your mum
doesn’t even know I’m staying here…’
‘No one asked you to do anything. I told you I’d do
the talking myself. You are not going to cook for the
family just because I asked you to stay here. I didn’t
ask you to stay here because I need a cook. If you
must know, we have a cook who comes everyday
except weekends. You would have met her yesterday
but she was with her sick son in the hospitsl so she
she would be here today possibly. Why the hell would
you even think that?’ He seemed so angry Tori felt like
shrinking. He noticed that too. He wiped his face with
his palm in order to calm himself.
‘Go and sit down.’ He said relaxing his nerves. Tori
obeyed and went to sit on the mini dinning table in
the kitchen. The dining table was made of two chairs
placed around a round table. She sat down and placed
her hand upon each other on the table like an
He was making coffee. Tori surveyed his physique. He
has quite a build which she guessed he owed to
several hours in the gym. He had this haircut which
made him look like one of this cute African American
Hollywood star. His bicep stood out when he picked
up two ceramics cups from the cupboard. He is quite
handsome if she must say. There were times she just
look at him in the face while they talk to see his well
carved and well shaven face. There were times she
had been lost looking at those thin, pink lip of his.
There were times she was lost checking out how
handsome he was.
Why was she seeing all those now? Tori shrugged off
the thought going through her mind and looked away
from staring at his back.
Was she probably so pitifull she was seeing him as
nice just because he took her in?
She can’t be that stewpid, can she?
‘Here.’ He placed a cup of coffee before her and
another cup before the empty chair then he sat down.
Tori took a sip from the coffee which was laced with
milk. She took so much time sipping in order to bury
her eyes and stop them from looking at those abs that
were quite visible under the tight black singlet he was
‘Are you done?’ He asked when her sipping took like
forever. It was then Tori knew she had made a
slurping sound while sipping. She placed the coffee on
‘Yeah.’ She said slowly. Letting her fingers curl up
around the cup still. That way she could hide her
‘I don’t know why you are acting like this. While I
spoke to you on phone, you seemed like someone who
clearly knows what she wants. But getting to know
you now, it’s like you have inferiority complex or
something. I’m asking you to stay here and I’m
expecting no payment in return. No payment in any
‘Can you atleast let me do this. That’s the least I can
‘You doing this, have you considered how mum would
feel about it? It’s like you are using are inability to
cook as your own weapon to stay here… ‘
‘No… You know that’s not what I’m doing.’
‘Well, that’s what it seems like. If you’d be staying
here, the family tradition won’t change. It would be as
it has always been.’
Tori felt awkward about what he said. It was quite
alright he was trying to be an hospitable host but
putting her in a difficult situation is not really what
‘So, what you are saying is, I should sit back and do
nothing?’ She asked spreading her hands in mid-air
and giving him the ‘is that it?’ look.
‘Yep.’ He replied popping the p. ‘Well, you are free to
do anything you like. Anything you feel like doing
around here. If you want to help around the house,
then fine. As long you have it at the back of your
mind that you are not doing it because you are
Tori nodded. Things would have been pretty boring
around here if what she was thinking were to be the
case. She took the cup before her back to her lips,
while sipping she could see Tobi smirking at her when
she brought the cup down from her face.
‘Why are you giving me that look?’
‘Nothing.’ He replied ‘You just look like some funny
character out of an animation.’
Was he being cocky again?
Tori gave him the tight lipped look of annoyance.
‘You are annoying you know.’
‘Well actually, you are not the first person to tell me
that. Isn’t that great?’
Why does he make every insult hurled at him a
‘Well, you used to be a pretty bright child while you
were very young though. Your writing and spellings
back then says it all.’ Tori poured pure sarcasm
inside her voice b
as she smirked her words up at him pointing at the
food time-table on the wall.’
‘Actually, I would be glad to inform you, my writing
hasn’t changed much from the one you’ve seen. I was
only six then and I might as well say I am proud of
myself. Some people can’t even write their own
names at that age nor could they control how they
take coffee as adults. They always end up having their
whole nose stained with milk in the process.’ He
replied shoving an hankie he took out of his short’s
pocket at her.
Tori gently cleaned her nose with it. Feeling a bit
defeated in their little battle of words.
‘So much for being arrogant, your hankie smells of
maggi and palm oil. You don’t even cook, where did
they come from?’ She squinted her face in disgust
even though all she could perceive was a faint smell
She knew she wasn’t winning this battle this time.
She drank everything in the cup before her in one gulp.
Making sure she didn’t stain her nose this time of
‘Well, you don’t have to make things up when you are
getting wordly-roasted. It makes you sound lame and
Not like she gets pissed off easily by anybody. But
this dude right here…
Well, he’s got an A+ in pissing her off.
‘Did your mum drop you off a cliff at birth or you just
loose a few screws every single day?’ Living with him
might be quite a task.
‘Neither.’ It was his mum. She was at the door. It
looked as though she had been standing there for a
while. She walked inside the kitchen and straight to
the dispenser where she poured herself a cup of
Tori could tell the fear was back judging by the rate
her heart thumped.
Tobi could see she was scared again. Her eyes says it
all, those eyes that looks so much like Jo’s. Why do
she remind him Johanna so badly. She’s like
miniature version of her.
But she doesn’t have Jo’s confidence.
One look at her and you can tell she is all shaky
inside. Why does she have insecurity problems and so
She is not someone who sticks to her own words, is
‘Where he gets all that from quite amaze me as well’
His mum added as she fiddled with the glass cup in
‘The cook won’t be coming Today. She has to be in
the hospital with her sick child again.’ She announced
and Tobi knew it was meant for him.
‘Alright. So, are you going to make breakfast?’
‘You want me to make breakfast?’ She asked
completely stunned by what he said.
‘Yeah. Dinner was great and knowing how much I love
homemade foods, I’d be having breakfast at home this
She hesitated before answering. ‘Alright then.’ She
glanced at Tori and he could tell she was trying to
communicate with her countenance.
That girl was all frozen on her seat.
‘Right. Mum’ He started calmly ‘She would be staying
here for now until she gets her own place. I wanted to
tell you yesternight but you were sleeping when we
‘Her landlord evicted her without notice. She knows
nobody in Lagos and has no place to stay.’
‘Awwwn. That’s so unfortunate. You are welcome
here dear. Thanks for yesterday and for returning the
phone. I am grateful.’
Even if he weren’t suspicious at first, ‘thanks for
yesterday and the for returning the phone’ is a
statement worth investigating. He could see Tori’s
face lit up and she thanked her earnestly, going as far
‘So mum, what did you say about breakfast?’ Tobi
‘Don’t worry about it. I’ll surely make it.’ She seemed
so sure of herself.
Tobi wished he could shout ‘not today’ at her.
‘You should follow the timetable. We are having Yam
and egg since today is Friday.’
‘Did you have the table memorised already?’
‘I went through it this morning.’
‘Shouldn’t you go and prepare for work now?’
‘I’m not going to work. I just got back from a
business trip. If uncle Soji needs anything, he’d come
get it at home.’ Tobi knew his mum was trying to get
rid of him.
‘Well, you should go and shower and rest. While you
are gone, we’d be having a heart to heart talk.’ His
mum said gesticulating towards Tori.
By heart to heart talk, he knows what she meant.
‘Not to worry. I want to show Tori around the
neighborhood. Whatever you guys want to discuss can
wait until you are done cooking. You can’t be talking
while I’m hungry. Now, if you’ll excuse me, we have a
street to walk.’ With that statement, he pulledTori by
the wrist and dragging her outside.
‘What did you do that for? You put your mum in a
very bad position you know.’ Tori said yanking her
hand off his
‘Right, maybe next time she’ll learn not to lie to her
kids and not ask a stranger to cook the family’s
‘She knows she’s not a great cook that’s why she’s
putting so much effort into trying. She almost burnt
the house down yesterday.’
Tobi couldn’t help smiling.
‘You don’t know my mum like I do. She even asked
you to help her cook the first time you met her!
That’s more than outrageous! If she was making
efforts, she would have asked you to guide her, not do
it for her.’
‘She did asked me to guide her but it was taking quite
long and you’d be home any minute.’
‘My mum doesn’t try cooking. If it weren’t for what
she wanted to say to me yesterday, she wouldn’t
have cooked. I know her so much. That’s why I don’t
want you cooking. If you do, she wouldn’t step inside
the kitchen ever again if you do. I want her to learn
the hard way.’
Tori reasoned with him and didn’t want to argue with
‘So, where are we going exactly? Or we are just going
to roam the whole street aimlessly?’
‘We are going to eat? Whatever she is making won’t
be digestible. And you won’t want to be hungry for
the rest of the day.’
‘But I can’t go like this.’ She added saying the ‘this’
as she pointed at her outfit.
‘But it’s not like we’re going out on a date. The
restaurant is just a few metres away.’ He said
‘Is that much reason for me to go there in a
pajamas?’ Tori asked trying to confirm his sanity.
‘Well, go on and change then. But I’d be going like
‘this’.’ He said as Tori ran off. His phone was
vibrating. He had a call.
‘Hello.’ He said, thickening his voice the more after
‘Tobi, can you come over? Something urgent came
up.’ She said into the phone. Her voice was breaking
‘It so happens, I am on my way. Would be there
Tobi didn’t give it a second thought. He jumped in his
car and he was on the street after a few minutes.
Not thinking about the moment when Tori would come
out of the house.
Not thinking of when she would appear and find him
To be Continued