6: Her Safe Haven

“I’m very sure it’s Ilham that’s putting this kind of thoughts into your head, Sulaiman. What are you thinking of? How could you even think that way?” He couldn't understand how Sulaiman could have these kinds of thoughts, like what the hell?

“She isn’t the one, okay, I'll confess. I was casually telling her what has been happening for the past weeks, and she shaped my mind. Why don’t you try it, Yazeed? Maybe something good will come out of it.” He wished he wasn’t driving right now and he was standing or sitting beside Sulaiman to see if he was in his senses as he spoke.

“What do you mean telling her casually? Sulaiman, you have a hidden motive, just say it out. And no, I'm not going to give anything a chance, like I can’t understand the reason you’re having this kind of thoughts. I'll excuse Ilham because she’s pregnant and her hormones aren’t acting normal, but you? Man! I'm driving.” He turned the steering and wished he could end the call on Sulaiman, but that was something he couldn't do to him out of all humans in the world.

“We’ll have a better conversation of this when you get to the company, drive safe brother.” Sulaiman teased, there was a hint of laughter on his tone which Yazeed wished he could smack off.

“Please don’t even try speaking to me about this, because I'll ignore your entire being. Bye.” And he ended the call, just in time he was driving into the company. He drove to the parking lot and there she was, having a phone call while she laughed heartily beside her car. Was she always on the phone? And who was she talking to this happily and early in the morning? He wondered.

He parked his car and walked out, not looking her way and when she saw him, she quickly ended the car and sprinted toward him. “Good morning, I was waiting for you.

He turned to where she was walking beside him at the same pace and looked at her for a second before he looked away. It wasn't like he was noticing everything she did, but he had never seen her wore any kind of Hausa attire, it was all English wears and abayas, not that she didn’t look in her skirts and shirts with a veil wrapped around her head and also her abayas. But he was just curious about how she would look in either Ankara or lace. How her skin color...get a freaking hold of yourself, Yazeed!

“But do you realize just because you aren’t going to reply to me I won’t let you be? Don’t worry, I can always do the talking for us.” What was wrong with this girl for the sake of the almighty? It had been weeks now since she started being this clingy on him. Maybe she gave Sulaiman the wrong idea, not just Sulaiman but the whole company. Like she waited for him almost every day at the parking space so they could get to their office together.

Yes, that’s what he would call it now, their office. Because he couldn't remember the last time she stayed in her office for more than two to three hours, and no, he wasn’t complaining too. As much as he would never show or tell this to her, she wasn’t a bad company. Even though he hardly ever replied to the thousand questions she threw at him, a thousand conversations she started and ended herself, he was sometimes glad that she was in the office because, for the time they stayed together, it took his mind off a lot of things that were eating him up.

She hadn't mentioned it to him, but he had realized that she had a phobia for elevators and she couldn’t get on one alone without someone with her, so he decided to run away from her using what she hated. His only reason was because of the conversation they had with Sulaiman, he didn’t want to be growing the wrong idea on people’s mind. He turned left, away from the path that would lead them to the elevator.

“Where are you heading to? Do you have somewhere you need to go?” She asked and still walked beside him.

“I’m taking the staircases today, will you please mind not following me?” He didn’t look at her while he spoke, but he assumed she had a horrible expression on her face because she was damn lazy when it came to things like this. That he was sure of.

“Come on! Please!” She whined and stood on the track, “Why don’t we just go into the elevator, the 9th floor isn’t somewhere we can easily take the stairs for. And we’re going to be late if we do. Please?” She felt like he was doing this on purpose, to shoo her away from him, but there was no way she was giving him that chance.

He turned to look at her, and there was a hint of a smile on his face which he masked up expertly. “Do you have to take the elevator with me? Why do you always follow me? Go to the elevator and I'll take the stairs. And for being late, you have a boss, I don’t.

She stared at him for some nanoseconds and when she saw that he was really into the staircase thing, she gave up and her shoulders slumped in defeat. “Fine, I'll take the stairs too.” He didn’t even wait for her answer when he began taking the stairs but he could feel her presence by his side and certainly, her burning gaze on the side of his face. He knew that she would be sulking for maybe an hour or two, reason known to her but today, he knew he was one of those reasons. He made her take the stairs to the 9th floor.

“But you know you can always let it out, right? No one will judge you.” She said out of the blue moon, and he wondered if she was on the phone or something. Because, what was she talking about?

He stayed mute, and she knew she had to speak again for him to reply to her, that’s if he wanted to. “Your smile, I know you did that on purpose. I mean, you did this on purpose and you wanted to smile so bad when I whined because, to you, it felt like mission accomplished. Right, boss?” He had to chew his inner cheek to avoid a chuckle or smile out of his lips. She had never called his name outwardly, but he had realized that whenever she wanted to be sarcastic with him, she called him boss. That was her way of showing that she was angry at him and can probably kill him if she got the chance to.

He shook his head because if he didn't give her a response, nothing could stop Jalilah from ranting his ears off until he would likely go deaf. “What does that mean that? Why can’t you smile in front of me? Do you ever fully smile?

He ignored that, because to him it felt like she hit a nerve, and she did. Even though he knew she wasn’t doing that to hit a nerve. And he thought about it himself, ‘When was the last time he genuinely and fully smiled?’ It had been so long that he couldn’t even remember the last time he did that. But one thing was certain, ever since Jalilah came to this company and they began working together, there were times he wanted to laugh, times he wished he could chuckle and there were times he wanted to smile so widely that she would likely take a picture of him. But he restrained himself from doing that because it felt odd and weird and he just didn't want to do it.

“This is the worst punishment I've ever received in my life, we’re just on the 5th floor.” He was so deep in his thoughts that he had forgotten he was together with her until he spoke and he turned to look at her. From the looks of it, she was indeed tired, but he didn't know how he was enjoying this, was it because taking the stairs gave him more chance to think, to clear his head?

“You should've told me beforehand! I wouldn’t have worn these heels!” She whined loudly and sat down on one of the stairs, lifting her abaya a little that it revealed her feet carefully stacked in her heels, he quickly looked away.

For a moment, she looked up with a whiny expression and a pout on her lips, “Will you please wait for me to rest a bit then we can continue? This is exhausting me.” Slightly, Yazeed shook his head and the next thing she saw was his retreating back walking ahead.

She took off her heels and held them in her hands before she followed him, “I don’t even know what to say to you! Wait for me!” She half yelled and matched his pace. He turned to look at her and the first thing his eyes got in contact with was the heels she was now holding and he looked at her bare feet.

“What is this?” He asked, she followed his gaze and looked at him afterwards.

“I can’t walk in my heels, I can fall if I continue doing so.” She replied, fixing her eyes on the floor.

Yazeed looked at her for some minutes before he questioned, sometimes if she did something, she acted like the younger sister he had never gotten the chance to live with. And right now he wished he was her brother so he could smack her head so painfully that she would have to cry. “And if you know you can’t take the stairs, why did you follow me?

With her eyes still fixed on the floor, she answered him. “I have a phobia for elevators, but whenever I ride it with you I feel safe, or Wafiyya, which I'm quite sure she was long in her office and it’s so rude to ask her to come down. I have no other choice but to follow you.” Her voice broke as she spoke because even if she wasn’t giving too much away, she only used the word ‘phobia’ to make it seem less painful than it is, she felt it within her heart.

He stared at her for minutes, trying to figure out what was going on with her. He didn't miss the hint of sadness in her voice while she spoke and he wondered, did this bubbly spirit ever felt what sadness was to look this solemn when she was confessing about a phobia she had? But what he didn’t understand was why him?

“And why me and Wafiyya you said?” He asked, and she sighed before she looked up at him.

“Because all the rest of them feel like strangers, I don’t know them, I don’t spend time with them. I have never shared a pleasantry with must of them. I feel like they’re going to hurt me. But I know you won’t hurt me, that’s why I feel safe with you.” Was this an emotional blackmail or what? Because she made him feel bad about making her take the staircases this much. Because if he had known this was the depth of it, he wouldn’t have acted that way. He knew pain so well to wish to add more of it to someone.

He ducked down and removed his shoes, she watched as he peeled his socks out and stood upholding them. “Wear this, you can’t be walking around with bare feet.” She was hesitant at collecting them, and when she did, her sad smile turned into a wide grin before she sat down on the stairs and put the socks on.

She pulled her legs forward and made some weird and funny moves with her feet that he had to smile because it was safe to do, she wasn’t looking at him. “Thank you so much for the socks, they look adorable.

“If you’re done because I have some work to do in my office.” She jerked up and nodded her head before they silently kept walking. With each passing minute, he stared at her through his peripheral view as she lifted the ends of her abaya and stared at her feet with a wide grin. He didn’t know what she was happy for. Because he gave her socks or because she had something to put on her feet?

For a reason unknown to him, he felt happy and somewhat relieved, he had made someone happy and at least that was a good start of the day.


She looked up from the screen of her MacBook and even though she wanted to speak to him about something, she had to look at him for some minutes. She still couldn't get over the warm feeling of his socks on her feet, and the way he looked at her when she told him she felt safe with him, which was true. Because it was rather weird if she was with Wafiyya, she felt that something might happen with them, but she would be able to take the risk, but if it was with him, she felt safe that she can even sleep if she could.

And right now, staring at him as he absentmindedly worked, she wished she can stare at him like this for all she wanted until her eyes turned sore, which she doubted if they ever would. Maybe he felt her gaze on him, or maybe he used to take stolen glances on her as she did on him? But she threw all thoughts away because the first thought was what with no doubt, Wafiyya would say. And the second, Farha would even scream it out.

She realized she had held his gaze and had fallen into her train of thoughts, and right now, he had one of his eyebrow lifted inquisitively and she felt embarrassed. She had to tell him what she initially wanted to before she got carried away with his handsomeness.

“I’m hooked here, I don’t know whether I was taught about it at school or I have forgotten. Will you please help me out?” She asked, and she watched the way he gave her the ‘Are you sure?’ Look, which she expertly fought with her confident stoic expression.

“Bring it here, let me see.” He said and began putting aside some of the files he had on his table.

She stood up and walked up to him with the system while he had fixed his eyes on her every move. As much as it felt uncomfortable for Jalilah, she loved it with everything in her soul. She placed down the laptop and by Allah when she leaned in to show him all that she wanted help on, she wished she could stay there forever. She had never been this close around him, and his scent had got to be the most amazing and mind-blowing scent she had ever known.

Focus, Jalilah. Understand first, fantasize about him later.

She kept saying this to herself, wishing she could do as she told herself too. But with each passing second, everything proved her wrong. She tried managing to focus on what he was showing her, to understand so she couldn't find another excuse to come this close to him next time, and she did.

“Are you sure you’re understanding what I was saying?” He asked, and she nodded her head at him.

“Yes, I do.

“What did I say then?” Mr, are you a secondary school teacher? That’s the first thought that crossed her mind, but she restrained herself because she wasn’t in her right mind now. She was silent because she didn’t know what he said and didn't want to embarrass herself further.

“I knew you weren’t listening to me. What we're thinking of?” This was the right time to smack his nape, and if she did, he would have to duck down and place his face on his keyboard. What kind of question was that? She was thinking about him. How his scent was mind-blowing and it was a punishment being this close with him.

“I’m sorry, I don't even know what I was thinking of. Can you show it to me again? I promise I will understand and never disturb you again.” She was innocently fiddling with her fingers in such a way she knew even though Yazeed might appear as a hard guy, he could never ignore that.

“For the last time, and if you don’t understand it you have to go back to school because you can’t be a graduate without knowing this.

She rolled her eyes at his head and whispered, “Rub it on my face that your father is the CEO and you’re the manager while I can't even solve this code.

“Are you talking?” He looked up at her and she quickly masked up her annoyed expression with a smile and shook her head.

“No, I was just being thankful that you were able to help, I don't need to go back to school anymore, Boss.” This girl, he wished he can set her head straight. One minute she was a normal human and the next she was something else. He truly didn't know what was wrong with her.

When he was done, he asked her to explain it to him, and she did exactly lichee did to her, he was impressed. That’s one thing he liked about her, she was so smart and interring, jus that she was dangerously crazy.

Jalilah took her system back to the sofa and they began working in an eerily silence until it was time for Zuhr and she looked at him before he walked out without her knowing. “Are you coming back here immediately after prayers?

“What’s the question for?” He asked Jalilah fiddled with her fingers to think of the right lie to tell him.

“I can't shut my laptop right now, and if you’re coming back immediately I can leave it here, I know it’s safe.” She said and touched the edge of her laptop.

“Oh, yeah.” He said and in the blink of an eye, Yazeed was out of the office. She ended up watching his walking body through the glasses and just smiling to herself.

She quickly pulled her phone out and texted Farha, because she knew she wasn’t in the right mind to have a phone call which she was sure if she did, Farha would make her even more anxious than she was.

‘Girl, do I have to do this? Should I abort the mission? I'm so nervous, Ya Allah.

‘You can’t back out when it’s just a few minutes away. You have to do this, Jalilah. Make sure you don’t fail as well, fight as much as you can, and if you get hooked, imagine what I will do. Yes, I know I'm crazy but sometimes it will turn out well with a topping of craziness.

‘Let’s give it a try, but so you know, I'm going to rip your heart open if something bad happens. You pushed me into doing this.

‘Trust the Farha spirit, I assure you nothing will happen. Bye, gotta go.

‘Farha spirit indeed, bye.

She sat down on the sofa and thought about what she was going to do. She weighed the possibilities of either being accepted or disappointed. And when she made her mind up, she stood, took her bag and walked outside with her confidence glowing beautifully.


He was doing all he could to dodge Sulaiman in the mosque, but it looked like he was getting a comeback for what he did to Jalilah in the morning, he was going to have his own medicine from all indications, because Sulaiman walked up to him when he was rushing to get out of the mosque.

“Hey, bro!” He playfully smacked his shoulder and Yazeed tried all he could not acknowledge his presence.

They kept walking in an eerily silence until Sulaiman got fed up and he turned his shoulders to face him, “You can’t ignore me like this and go scot-free, I'm not talking about it since you don't like it. But have it in mind whenever you want to talk about it, maybe make a progress or...

Yazeed cut him off before he was done, “Please, Sulaiman. I don’t know what brought your mind to that. Of all people?

“You’ve been saying of all people for all I could remember, Yazeed. I don’t want you to grow old like this, alone. You’ve been practically alone all your life. Please, find yourself a companion.” There were times if Sulaiman spoke to him even though they were the most real of truths, he felt hurt beyond measure. But he knew what he was saying was the truth, he had been alone all his life. Well, maybe with the fractions he felt that life was sweetly exonerated.

“And that shouldn’t be bothering you, Sulaiman. I'm fine by the way I live and I love my life as it is. Please, I know Ilham is waiting for you at home, go to her.” He tried walking away but Sulaiman held him by his shoulder.

“I'm sorry if I hurt you, but we both know it’s the truth, and no, you don’t love the way your life is now. Let’s go and have our lunch together.” He shook his head because even on days when it was all well between them, he hardly went to his house for lunch. Not to talk about today that the ambience was rather sour.

“I'll take my lunch after Asr, my regards to her and the baby.” He walked off without waiting for his reply.

“I saw the socks on her, that was a nice move, bro!” He heard Sulaiman’s words thrown at him and he wished he could run back and punch him in the face because he knew right now, he was smiling or even laughing at him.

He walked to his office, thinking of the right way to rectify what he had done. He knew he was the one that gave Sulaiman the wrong idea, not that they have ever spoken about her, no. But he was sure it was because he saw her every day in his office, even though they didn’t talk but whoever came and met her comfortably working in his office would think otherwise.

To his surprise, she was already back in the office, and she had something laid out on the table which he didn’t recognize yet. Was she doing her makeup in his office? Not that he cared, but it would be weird because she had never done that. He ducked his head down and walked with a soft taslim on his mouth.

“Assalamu Alaikum,” he said and tried walking to his seat when she looked up and grinned widely at him.

“Waalaikumus salam! I’m glad that you’re finally back. Oh, pardon my language.” She bit her lower lip and stared at the basket that was placed on the table. “Will you mind coming over here, please? I mean sit on this sofa?” She pointed at the sofa opposite hers and he stared at her with a confused expression.

“Yes, I know my medications were over since, but I have something I want you to see,” Jalilah spoke again, even though she was sure she appeared to him as her confident self, her heart was shrinking with each word she uttered.

When he didn’t make any move of coming over, she asked again, “Will you? Please?” And then came the puppy eyes.

He shrugged and walked toward the table with a warning dripping from his lips, “It better be something worthy of my time.

“It will be worth it, I promise.” She waited until he came over to the sofa and sat down before she did too. “I made this lunch at home, yeah before you said it; I know you’re the son of the CEO and you have enough money to feed the whole company if you want. But I feel like we have the same problem, the cafeteria’s food is too much of junks and that restaurant is crap. You don’t eat until after 4 pm, which isn’t good.

No word came from him, he just stared at her as she rambled without taking a breath and she began serving him in a plate he couldn’t believe was all contained in this basket.

“I know you won’t speak, but will you please take it?” She handed him the plate, but he looked at her instead of the plate.

“How do you know that?” He asked instead, Jalilah flashed him a confused expression and he spoke again, “That thing about being the CEO’s son.

“Oh,” she palmed her lips and sat back as she placed the plate in front of him. He had this hard look on his face that nearly made all the courage she had mustered to run away but she knew if she wanted that courage, she couldn’t make the mistake of looking into his eyes, which she tried so hard not to.

“I figured out his name is Alhaji Adam Bunza, and your name is...” She had never realized this before, that she had never called his name while they were together, she always made sure to put her words in such a way that it didn’t require his name popping up, which helped a lot because they were always alone and whenever she spoke he knew she was referring to him. “You know, you bear the same surname.

“Oh, yeah. Thank you, but I can’t eat this food.” Please, God, she didn’t hear him right.

He tried standing up when she coughed and he looked at her, “You know there are things I owed you for, right? You have to eat this food. Look at you for god sake, you’ve been losing weight all over, I don’t even know what’s eating you up but you need to eat to something to stay alive.

He bit his inner cheek, “You don’t have to insult me to make me eat your food. What do you owe me?

She squirmed on her seat and looked at him again, “You hit me with a car and I can’t remember you telling me sorry, just that ‘No, I think you should get in the car...’” She had forgotten that she wasn’t telling Farha and the way she scrunched up her face, changed her tone was the same as his. He kept looking at her with amusement filled in his eyes.

“So, this is how I speak?” That question was what brought her out of her reverie and she masked up her embarrassment.

“Kind of. And you made me take those medications for a whole week, you made me lost something for weeks now because of my sprained ankles, something as important as my life is to me. So, I owe you.” He knew by the mention of that, she meant ballet. She didn't have to mention it to him because she thought he didn’t know she danced, and now that she spoke about it, he got a flashback of how alluring she looked while she danced.

“And I have to pay for eating your food? How sure am I you haven’t poisoned the food?” Sometimes when he let himself speak like a normal human being with her, he tends to lose himself and act like the person he thought was died in him.

“I’ll easily get arrested and killed too, it’s straightforward even though there were times I wished I could do that. But for now, you’re safe to go.” She pointed at the plate and smiled at him, she knew the smile looked mischievous, and she didn’t miss the sceptical look he had on his face.

“Come on, I promise I won’t kill you, at least not now. Like not even this way.” He could only stare at her, how it was so easy for her to say whatever the hell she was thinking or have in mind was something he found amazing and wished he was that kind of person too.

He took the plate and scooped some of the contents in his spoon while he watched as she served herself, “You aren’t eating it here too, are you?

She looked at him and prayed the hot glare she had flashed him had gone unnoticed. “And what does that mean? If you’re afraid of choking, I promise not to look at you.

He looked at his brought up spoon then back to her, how she had fixed her eyes on him and waited for nothing but for him to have his first bite, “Are you even a good cook? I don’t want to risk my stomach please.

The smile was tight-lipped and she had her eyes cut into slits, “I won’t reply you know, but I promise if it tastes like the crap that restaurant serves as food, I'll...yes! I'll take you to the most expensive restaurant in Abuja and buy whatever you want. So, will you eat already?

How in the whole world was she acting this bossy? It wasn’t until she did something that she will finally ponder over it and knew that what she did was wrong in all its entirety. He brought the spoon to his lips with reluctance and shook his head at her, “You promised not to look at me, you’re choking me with your eyes.

“It’s not like you’re an angel that I can’t take my eyes off you.” She rolled her eyes even though to her, he didn’t notice she did, but he did. She closed her eyes with her palms and made sure she left some openings so she could see through. “Closed, now eat.

The moment he had his first bite, she brought her hands down and looked at him with hope brewing from her eyes, “Should I bring my card out or we should continue eating?

He stared at her, chewed the food and swallowed before he scrunched up his face and shook his head, “Your card...” She didn't let him finish talking when she poured the homemade orange juice she had brought and handed it to him.

“I knew it! You’ve never tasted amazing food like mine. Now, let’s eat, boss!” When he looked up at her to speak, she glared at him that he had no choice but to suppress his chuckle but his smile became even more prominent. Truth be told, she was a badass cook, the food tasted like heaven, but he wanted to see her reaction, and it amused him to the core.

“You see? You’re even smiling. I'll take a picture of you.” Before he protested, she had already brought her phone out and snapped him while saying out the caption, “I won’t share it with anyone, but I'll write the caption as ‘When he tastes a food made by the substitute of an angel.’”

{Don't forget to vote please. Thank you as you do.}

Next chapter