Walking On Red Lines : [Valentine Series: Part 4]

In the beginning…

I didn’t believe in love. Love felt like an abstract word to me. I have fought to be accepted, after being raised by broken people [parents]. I grew up amiss in the world and grew into a broken adult. I didn’t see love beyond a transaction. If it is not ‘transactional’, it is not love and it wouldn’t last.

When I met Mr. and Mrs. Pepple with the way they interacted with each other after 27 years of marriage, it gets me all the time. I got an apartment that belonged to the Pepples but at the time I moved in, they were on vacation. I didn’t get to be formally introduced to them until after 3months. The day they got back from vacation was quite a memorable day for me. I was in my apartment when this car drove in and I saw two elderly love birds alight from the car. Mr. Pepple got down from the car to get Mrs. Pepple. I didn’t know when I opened my mouth agape peeping through the window.

Well, as one who’s not used to public display of affection [PDA], I was eyeing them in my mind. ‘what is all this show-off all about?’ but apparently, it’s no show-off. Other occupants welcomed them except me and of course, it is understandable cos I just couldn’t comprehend the show. They held their hands as they walked into their chalet, giggled like teenage lovers while their maids carried their luggage. The following day was a Sunday, I didn’t prepare to go to church cos at the time I moved in, I was done with church. I saw this couple prepare for church the same way they did yesterday, holding hands again. What is all this? I hissed and took a book to read.

‘Hello, how are you doing?’

I thought I was daydreaming when I heard the voices at my door but apparently, I wasn’t. I approached the door and peeped through the pigeon-hole only to see the Pepples holding hands again but this time, in front of my door. What on earth do they want? I don’t want to be attached to any apartment owner. Reluctantly, I opened the door, feigned a smile on my face, and ‘Good day sir and ma’am’.

How are you doing? young lady? Mr. Pepple returned my greetings with a lovely smile and heartwarming voice. I thought that was all? I am okay, thank you, sir.

She looks really pretty, she should be invited over for our usual Sunday lunchtime with the gang, says, Mrs. Pepple. Lunch? the gang? I was trying so hard to process what they were talking about. Just as I was about to decline the invitation, Mrs. Pepple goes, the gang is every one occupant of this apartment. We are family here, no one is an outsider. We will see at 2. Welcome home, Alice.

“Welcome home, Alice?” Mrs. Pepple hugged me whilst her husband gave me a handshake. I closed my door after the warm exchange and teared up. A hug! ‘welcome home, Alice’ no one has ever welcomed me in such a way, not even my own parents. It is hard to see a place as home for me because I haven’t used the word ‘home’ in a long time. What is with the People’s? It was 2:20pm when one of the maids came to knock on my door; ‘hello ma’am? are you home?’

Of course, I am home but can everyone just leave me in this apartment? I have always been on my own and moreover, I am not hungry.

‘Ma’am, we are waiting at the Chalet. You are the only one who’s not there.’

‘I will join you all soon, I am coming.’

I reluctantly took a top, got into one of my favourites shorts, used my bob wig with a little lip gloss, and went to lunch. The maid was at the door waiting to welcome me in. It’s a lovely living room, simple but detailed with class. I looked down at the hallway to see a fine dining table with people seated there, waiting. Apparently, they didn’t want to dine before me, they waited for me. I greeted everyone, with my head down, got into the last seat, and tried to be comfortable.

I am glad you decided to come, Mrs. Pepple started a conversation that I genuinely didn’t want to have. Thank you ma’am. So, how about you pray for us before we get to eat? we’ve been waiting for you.

‘I don’t know how to pray’, I responded with a fake smile.

‘I will teach you after now, but you can try to make a move. It is not hard, it is you saying how you feel to the father.’ No, it was not Mr. Pepple nor Mrs. Pepple that responded to me, it was one young man. A dark-skinned man, with a lovely physique [I could figure from where I sat]. Funnily enough, I didn’t even notice him when I got in because my head was down. I kept staring at him even after he’d finished speaking and he motioned with a smile, just say a word.

I mumbled some words out of my mouth and we started to eat. Mrs. Pepple asked me about my profession and I told her that I am into investment banking. This young man never said a word till we finished eating. The Pepples were actually fun to be with. They kept stealing a glance at each other over the table, these people are not even young, they are old. It felt like arrant nonsense to me. How can old people be so engrossed like this while a young woman in her early thirties like me doesn’t even have someone, not even an admirer? I think I will never get to experience this kind of love, I said to myself on that table. The maid packed the food trays and the couple led us to the living room to sit there.

‘Alice’, Mr. Pepple called.

‘Sir?’, I responded.

‘I learned you’ve not been introduced to the gang. Let me introduce you to everyone.’

I know that we are five occupants in this apartment. I have seen the couples, met the old lady but this man, the prayer guy, I don’t know him and I have never met him. I got introduced to everyone but the guy.

‘Moses, you should introduce yourself to the young lady since you both are the young, single ones.’ I couldn’t fathom why Mrs. Pepple would make such a statement but everyone laughed including ‘Moses.’

‘Hello, My name is Moses.’

‘Hi, I am Alice.’

‘I am glad you decided to join us cos you look like it’s your world and no third party penetration will be allowed’; he said with a smile. He brought forth his hand for a handshake and it was warm and firm. I looked at his eyes and just couldn’t take my eyes off his eyes, he is tall, dark, fine hair layout and very handsome. How come I have never met him in this compound?

‘Did you just move in?’ I asked.

‘No, I have been here for a year.’

‘Oh… I exclaimed in shock.’

‘You wouldn’t have noticed cos you sneak through the compound, you hardly walk or announce the room with your presence,’ he said.

I smiled but understood what he meant. We sat at the Pepples for a little longer before heading home. I left there first though but Moses saw me off to my apartment door.

‘I hope I get to see you around, Alice.’

It wasn’t a maybe thing, he was saying it with so much assurance, Like, Alice; I must get to see you!

‘Okay, If you want to… I live here.’

‘See you around then.’

‘See you around.’

Moses and I became friends, we wanted to be around each other. He preached love at its simplest to me. He didn’t cajole me to love back, it came voluntarily because he showed it to me. The life of the Pepples became clear to me. There is love, there is love that is unconditional. There is good love. I felt it from our friendship till we became lovers. For the very first time in my life, I said the word genuinely; ‘I love you.’ How did I find peace, love, and grace in this apartment? Well, God works in mysterious ways.

Six months later—

We were having the usual Sunday lunch at the Pepples; I saw little decorations here and there but felt the Pepples can be very extra. I didn’t know that I was going to receive a shocker. We had lunch and after we had finished eating, clearing our plates to go to the living room for the usual gist, Moses fell on one knee.

‘Alice… I have asked Jesus about you way before you came to me. He gave me these exact words… ‘Her name is Alice.’ Every day, the love hits differently, the friendship is solid and our foundation is firm.’

I wanted to faint. This cannot be happening? I didn’t see this coming. I mean, I love him but didn’t know that this man would want to wife me.

‘Will you marry me?’

‘Of course, who wouldn’t want to be hitched to genuine love? Yes. I will.’

Love found me and spoilt me silly.

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