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Love's Second Chance
by Nkem Akin   (Author)
Read First Three Chapters

CHAPTER ONE

Abuja. November 19, 2009.

“Who is Ms. Sagay? Someone at the front desk referred me to the assistant general manager. Where is she?”
Efe sat back down as her secretary replied that it was late, and Ms. Sagay could not see visitors. She tried to return to work, but the angry voice tugged at her memories, prompting her to the door. She opened it to hear him better. The man complaining had his back to her and she took in his tall frame and wide shoulders.
He wore jeans, but his outfit was made more formal by a well-ironed and collared shirt. Her secretary asked to help the man with his problem and Efe waited for him to speak again, but his next words pushed thoughts of placing his voice out of her head.
“I’m done dealing with secretaries. I’d like to speak to Ms. Sagay,” he said, placing an emphasis on the title indicating her unmarried status.
Efe knew the ‘Ms.’ preface was not common in Nigeria but still felt annoyed at the chauvinist tone in the man’s voice. She opened the door wider and marched into the outer office. “I am Ms. Sagay.”
He turned towards her, and she blinked. It was the face of her nightmares. Taken by surprise, Efe took a step backwards, tottering against a chair as her legs folded under her. The visitor moved to help her, and Efe had to stop herself from shrinking away. He assisted her to a padded couch and insisted she sit.
She blinked several times before looking up, but that face, that face was still there!
Efe was wearing a light gray and beige suit which she’d added to her wardrobe at her mother’s insistence. She’d picked it this morning after waking from the bad dreams that haunted her nights, and sometimes her days too. When she had returned to Nigeria earlier in April, her mum had not been impressed by the designer labels of her American outfits and nagged her to shop for more colorful clothes. Her clothes were too drab her mother said, and would discourage suitors.
Efe had said nothing. She didn’t tell her mum that she needed suitors like she needed a gun to the head. Her mom knew why too, and had backed off after that. And here was the reason standing tall and virtually unchanged before her.
At the Hilton hotel, she parked in the employee bay and walked into the building. Leaving instructions with the front office not to accept any visitors for her, she took the elevator to her fifth floor office. She wanted to tackle some records and finish up an order in preparation for the busier nights the club had on Fridays.
Her assistant had not come in for the past two days, so she was behind her schedule. As the day progressed, she was interrupted a handful of times, but only by people who had previous appointments. When she finally checked in some numbers around six, the order was just about ready.
About to pat herself on the back, Efe half-jumped off her seat as a man’s voice shattered the silence.
The visitor stared at her from the opposite armchair.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked.
“I’m fine!” she replied, with feigned strength, gooseflesh rising on her skin at the lack of recognition in his eyes. Forcing her gaze away, she sat up jerkily, crossing one leg over the other. Not feeling comfortable that way, she jumped to her feet.
“Are you sure you’re OK?” the visitor asked, his voice still calm. “I’m a doctor.”
“I’m good, just a misstep, the carpet...” Efe flicked at her nose and cursed under her breath. It wasn’t a surprise she was so rattled, but she needed to get a grip. It wasn’t Kevwe as she’d first feared.
“If you’re sure.” He shook his head, his gaze flicking over her once more. “I don’t understand you independent women.”
Efe glared at him, and then ordered the hovering secretary away. When she faced him, his expression said she’d lost her mind. Well, it was his fault she felt like Alice in Wonderland, with a buzzing noise in her ears and her heart thumping.
“You say you’re a doctor?” Her mind repeated one name over and again. He had to be Ofure, Kevwe’s twin brother.
“Dr. Mukoro, the owner of Miracle Hospital and Lab,” he replied, stretching forward his hand. “I came to collect my long overdue business report.”
It was as she already knew. Quivering inside, Efe accepted the handshake and asked him to follow her inside.
She remembered noting the Mukoro name on a customer file during her first month at work. His hospital regularly held seminars in the hotel’s Congress Hall, or board meetings in a smaller hall, and her office produced quarterly reports for them. She’d pushed the file to her assistant and hadn’t touched it since then, so it was not strange that they’d not met before now.
In her office, she studied him fully when they were both seated. He was exactly like Kevwe, down to the tribal mark in the middle of his forehead. It could have been her former fiancé except she knew it wasn’t.
“I’m not happy at the delay, and neither are my accountants and foreign partners.” He paused and looked her over, “You sound as if you can understand.”
She shook her head at the American accent she worked hard, if without success, to lose when speaking to Nigerians.
“Sorry for the hassle, but I can assure you that the report will soon be finished,” she replied.
“When will it be ready for me?”
“Next week, for sure…”
“I’m not patient,” he warned, “It better be ready, or we and our partners will never host events at this venue again.”
“Oh, it won’t get to that,” Efe said. She noted his faint accent and recalled the few times she’d spoken with him over the phone, when she’d dated Kevwe. In the first year after moving to the States, she’d half-expected him to call her up one day and say that Kevwe had changed his mind and wanted her back.
That hope had fizzled out, and as she spoke, assuring him that the reports would be ready as soon as possible, a part of her mind clouded with painful memories. Efe was relieved when he got to his feet, pacified. She walked him out of the office, promising to get the report ready and have someone bring it over to his office the following Friday.
With him gone, she staggered into her office and collapsed at her desk. Pushing her laptop aside, she buried her face in the sanctuary of her folded her arms, lost in memories of a time past.

Lagos. November 19, 2009. 6.30pm

Kevwe Mukoro raised a stiff arm in the air as a warm feeling crept over his skin and the hairs on his nape prickled. The technician beside him halted mid-action and looked around in confusion, but Kevwe paid him no mind. His feelings said someone needed his help and he should do something. He surveyed the factory again, but nothing stood out from the metal poles, steel girders, heavy machines, and the men who operated them. He swung to the wide double doors and the gloom outside, but no one came.
As the silence stretched, Kevwe shook his head and blinked, muttering to himself to snap out of it. Putting the strange feeling aside as something happening to Ofure, he turned to the men working the same line with him.
“All right people, let’s get to work.”
Feeding a chunk of material into a machine chute, he directed someone on what to do next, deciding to call his twin later. After about an hour, he turned to the man behind him. Sunday was short and stocky and had a permanent grin on his face. Though he only had a diploma, when it came to the company, he knew more than the staff with university degrees. He was employed the longest and knew the machines like the back of his hand, whether old or new. Sunday was also skilled at design and that was why Kevwe, who wanted to focus on innovation, found him invaluable.
“Old boy, I want to talk to you on this new project. Please see me in my office before you go, you hear? I want us to redesign some of our products.”
“No problem, Oga. But what do you have in mind?”
“Those small coolers we launched last year, you remember?” Kevwe grinned as he thought of discussing the idea bubbling in his head with Sunday. It was a new design that would speed up their production process. “I want us to do something no one has ever done. I’ll give you details when we meet in the office.”
“Yessir…”
Sunday’s eyes began glittering with excitement and Kevwe knew he had been infected with enthusiasm. He left the men to their work and returned to his office in the main building. His company, Mukoro Refrigeration and Engineering Limited, had recently gained a larger customer base than most others in the country.
However, the expanded production had led to the need for additional labor to cope with increasing market demands. They had increased from twelve to eighty employees in the five years since entering the market. He had just hired twenty new technicians; they needed time to get used to the new equipment, and this contributed to the current delays.
Kevwe sat at his chair, flexing the kinks out of his right knee. He arched his back to release some tension, rolling his neck from side to side. He’d over-stretched himself, but he would take time off after the next batch of deliveries. He moved to wake his computer, but his phone beeped before the machine finished booting up.
“I just thought of you.” Kevwe said when it was his brother on the line. Putting the BlackBerry on speakerphone, he studied his twin’s picture on the screen. When people saw it, they always assumed it was a picture of Kevwe.
“Hmm. How are you?” Ofure asked. “Remember you promised to take time off soon. When should I expect you, in two weeks or next month?”
“Soon,” Kevwe bit off, wishing his brother would quit bugging him about working too hard.
“No, I won’t stop bugging you, because all work and no play...” Ofure laughed.
“I asked for that,” Kevwe said, rolling his eyes. “Anyway, on to other things, have you called Mum?” Kevwe asked.
“We spoke yesterday. But that’s not why I called. Ugome has finally decided to leave me and sent some choice words to that effect.” Ofure’s voice dripped sarcasm. “She sent me a message on Facebook and has a status message too.”
“I thought you had both decided to go your separate ways some time ago?”
“Well, we’ve been each other’s back-up since the split.”
Kevwe chuckled. “What do they call it? Friends with benefits, right?” Laughing some more, he sat back up and placed his arms on the top of the table. “Didn’t I read somewhere that e-mail is the latest way to break off relationships?”
“I told you that,” Ofure said, “I saw it online and now I’ve experienced it. Nigeria is fully in the internet age, but some cavemen hold back, preferring to stay in the Stone Age. He knows himself, he who won’t join Facebook or Twitter.”
Kevwe accepted the jibe with a laugh. The only technology that concerned him was that which had to do with his business. However, he wasn’t complaining that Ofure had helped him get up to speed with a website, an iPod and iPhone.
“I’m the one to talk,” Ofure continued, “I’m sure Ugome’s friends know it’s me in that status update. I’m finished, I tell you. I won’t be able to get another girl…”
“I say you gave Ugome a reason to become jaded and bitter.” Kevwe knew it wouldn’t take time for his twin to land another lady. Ofure loved women, but they had their place and it wasn’t on top of any list. Kevwe pitied the ladies who fell for his charm.
“Man, unlike you, I’m not made of wood.” Ofure laughed, “When I came back two years ago, Ugome was all over me. Why turn down her offer? We weren’t exclusive, and I thought she understood that I wouldn’t just bow to Dad’s wishes. Maybe now the old man is gone, she accepts marriage is out of the question, and that’s why she’s finished with me.”
Their father brought Ugome into their lives seven years ago, when Kevwe was still bedridden from the car crash that cost him Efe, his ex-fiancée. Ugome became Kevwe’s de facto girlfriend, running errands and visiting him faithfully in the hospital. For several months, things remained that way.
Their dad only cranked up his demands after Ofure returned to America, and Kevwe was more stable. He wanted Kevwe and Ugome married, and enlisted their mother to use all manner of tactics including Kevwe’s near-death experience. At the time however, Kevwe had not been interested in Ugome or in any other woman. When he wasn’t battling the pain of his injuries, he fought not to be consumed by the agony of Efe’s betrayal.
At the end of that year, Kevwe left Nigeria for more treatment in Germany. When he returned some months later, he made it clear to Ugome that he was not interested in a relationship with her. She stuck around but he ignored her, focusing all his attention on his previously abandoned business. Luckily Ugome was soon transferred by her employers to Abuja, and he cut all ties to her.
After his brother returned two years ago, it came as a surprise seeing them together. Not that he had been upset; it only cemented his belief that no woman could be trusted. So while his twin dated and dumped women, Kevwe’s business remained his only mistress.
Kevwe sighed before speaking into the phone. “You know, I never had anything against Ugome. Mum said Ugome went to see her last week, so she’s good enough - just not the girl for me or even you. And please Ofure, remember to call Mum often. She misses the old man a lot.”
“What say we go see her together when you come up here?” Ofure asked.
“Sure.” Kevwe was reminded of the strange feeling down in the factory earlier. “Did you have an incident with a potential lady friend earlier today?” he asked, “Or don’t you want to tell me all about your damsel in distress?”
Ofure did not answer at once, but Kevwe knew he recognized the incident.
“I thought the name sounded familiar,” Ofure finally said, “but it’s been a long time.”
“What name?” For the first time, Kevwe cursed his ability to share thoughts with his twin as images of Ofure’s meeting with Efe flooded his senses. A headache started at his nape, his shoulders feeling tense as wetness prickled under his arms.
“Ms. Sagay,” Ofure replied, “Yes, it was Efe Sagay.”
The name slammed into him like a fist and swirled over him. Ofure continued to speak, but Kevwe wasn’t listening any more. Efe Sagay. A name he thought never to hear again and didn’t want to hear now either. He ended the call, gripping the phone hard.

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Product Details
Author: Nkem Akin
Publisher: NS Publishing
Publication date: 2011
Pages: 125
Product dimensions: 422 x 600
More About This eBook
Overview
This book starts 7 years after the end of Love's Beginning. After their break-up, Efe goes to America to finish her education and Kevwe puts his life into the company he had started. Fate steps in and when she returns to
Nigeria, the couple meet again. Can they rekindle what was so perfect for them when they first met? Will family again put a stop to their relationship? Or has too much time passed for them to reunite, especially as Efe has a new man in her life?
Love's Second Chance will warm your heart even as it takes you deep into the pain that both Efe and Kevwe had experienced in their time apart. The book explodes the mystery of the young lover's break up and brings Efe face to face with Kevwe's twin brother!
Editorial Reviews
About Author
Nkem was born and raised in Enugu, Nigeria, where she spent most of her time, studying, reading and daydreaming or climbing trees and playing with the boys. She has a Master’s degree in Public Health Research but has now returned to her childhood dream of spinning stories. She writes and blogs full-time, and believes in the use of the internet and social media to promote the book industry and literacy levels in the country. Nkem is also the founder and managing editor of www.NaijaStories.com, for those that read, write or publish Nigerian stories.

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