Ladies and Gentlemen – let me welcome you to the Finale of Love, Music and Dreams – the longest spanning serial that I have written yet – (We started this journey in 2015 and here we are, just closing it up in 2016 -guess what- started this as a bachelor, spanned so long, I had to get married in the middle of it *smiles*).
For previous episodes – click here.
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//Dreams Come True//
All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them ~ Walt Disney
Teni watched in delight as early comers to the finale of ‘The Star’ show filed into the L.I.N.E booth for their genotype tests, with results to be available for pick-up after the show.
She was excited not just by the turn up but also by the quality of logistics provided by Zmobile, with the laboratory company contracted to do the genotype testing, one of the best in the city.
‘I’m proud of you,’ Danny whispered into her left ear from behind, on his way from the booth.
Her eyes opened up in surprise when she heard his voice as she had not seen him pass by her into the booth. ‘What are you doing here?’ She asked, ‘shouldn’t you be preparing for your performance?’
He had been chosen to perform as the closing act of the finale, which was a remarkable feat considering the fact that it was a spot usually reserved for established acts.
‘Went for my genotype test?’ He muttered with as much courage that he could muster.
Teni’s brows arched, ‘genotype test? What for? We both know you’re AS, genotypes don’t change.’
Danny shrugged, not knowing what to say, his eyes evading Teni’s piercing stare.
‘What’s that?’ Teni asked, searching Danny’s eyes, not sure what to make of his shrug, ‘is there something I should know?’
‘Teni, I’ve never really done a genotype test before,’ Danny confessed to a visibly stunned Teni.
‘Are you serious?’ She replied in shock.
‘Yea,’ Danny answered, his face burning with embarrassment. ‘I just fill in AS whenever the information is asked of me.’
Teni exhaled loudly. ‘And how did you come about just filling AS?’
‘My elder brother. He is AS, he did the test when he was about to get married, and my younger sister too, she did hers when her school demanded a genotype certificate. Since both of my siblings were AS I just assumed…’
‘That you would be AS too… right?’ Teni fired at him, completing his sentence.
‘I know it’s dumb but I’ve never really had to file a certificate for it in school or anywhere else, never thought…’
‘I didn’t say anything about being dumb,’ Teni interrupted.
Danny scoffed. ‘I can see it in your eyes.’
‘Okay, it’s actually very dumb,’ Teni replied with a half-smile, shaking her head disappointedly, not sure how to interpret the emotions that presently engulfed her. Whether it was anger at his unbelievable ignorance or delight at the new ray of hope. ‘You should go get ready for your performance.’
‘I’m sorry,’ Danny cooed, squeezing her hands softly.
Teni gave him a sad smile as she retrieved her hand from his hold, before hurrying back towards the L.I.N.E booth, with Danny’s test result, the only thing on her mind.
Daniel had his heart in his mouth as the drum-roll served as fitting accompaniment to the suspense in the hall. He watched intently as the Host fished out the card from the envelope, waiting to hear her call out the name of the winner.
‘The winner of the PEN2SCREEN Africa award is,’ she repeated after the card was out of the envelope, ‘Love, Music & Dreams by Bamidele Daniel!’
‘Boo-yah!’ Daniel let out excitedly, pumping his right fist into the air immediately he heard the first word Love…, celebrating his win even before his name had been mentioned.
He grinned from ear to ear as he shook hands with the other writers, too excited to notice the ushers trying to lead him up the stage, until one of them nudged him softly to get his attention. ‘Thank you,’ he breathed, receiving his award plaque from Ayi Kwei Armah who was assisted by the Chief Executive Officer of WnP, the organizing company for the competition.
‘Thank you!’ He repeated, overwhelmed by the moment and short of words to describe his joy as he kept tapping his jacket pocket in search of his prepared speech.
‘I’m sorry.. I .. prepared a speech,’ he stuttered, slipping his hands into his jacket pocket to retrieve the note he was sure he had placed there, but all he could find was empty space.
He had forgotten the piece of paper on top his reading desk.
‘Aah,’ he sighed, the text from his speech flying around in his mind as the Host urged him on with a smile.
‘Firstly, I’d like to say thank you to God,’ he finally started, not sure what the next line was supposed to be as the sweet sensations of victory toyed with his memory. ‘And to say… Stella!!’ He shouted, going completely off script as he saw a figure on the aisle, stealing out of the hall.
The figure stopped in its tracks.
‘Stella!’ He called again, shoving the microphone into the hands of the Host before skipping off the stage towards the figure, with the award plaque in his hand.
The hall erupted in excited chatter as they watched him on the big screen run towards an unknown figure standing on the aisle, with the spotlight tracing his movement.
‘I’m sorry,’ Daniel said breathlessly when he finally reached Stella, with both of them encircled by the spotlight.
‘What for?’ She asked, not too comfortable that she was on the big screen.
‘For everything,’ Daniel replied, ‘for not telling you about my resignation… For saying nothing about the threat … And erm… yes… I didn’t resign cos’ I felt blackmailed and disrespected, I resigned cos’ I wanted to be with you… I wanted a chance with you.’
‘Dan …we are up on the screen,’ Stella stopped him, her ears tingling with excitement at his words.
‘I don’t care,’ he said shaking his head. ‘Not anymore Stella. Look what you inspired me to,’ he continued, pushing the plaque into her hands. ‘With you I’m invincible, I feel like I can do anything.’
‘Apart from express yourself maybe,’ Stella teased, with a beautiful smile.
‘Volume please!’ A thin voice screamed out in the hall.
‘Give them a mic!!’ Another shouted from the opposite end.
‘I love you …’ Daniel continued, ignoring the distractions. ‘I love you with all of my heart Stella, I love you so much it hurts. I may not be wearing a cape but… I feel like superman when I’m with you. You put the big ‘S’ on my chest,’ he rhapsodized.
‘For someone who took an eternity to express himself, you talk way too much,’ Stella breathed, leaning forward into his arms and closing his lips with a kiss.
It felt like the most beautiful piece of music composition ever, with the gripping feel of his fingers on her back, like the touch of a master pianist playing on the love chord.
‘Come with me to the party,’ she pleaded, her eyes searching into his, as their lips separated momentarily.
‘Happy birthday,’ Daniel said dreamily, licking his lips slowly like he was unsure of what just happened, even though he could still taste the sweetness of her lips on his. ‘One more,’ he whispered, his voice laced with passion, drawing her back into his arms and parting her lips with a hot, longing kiss.
Ebuka frowned when he saw the caller’s identity on his phone’s screen, it was his friend, Lanre. He knew the reason he was calling was to accuse him of not being invited for Stella’s birthday party and he wasn’t quite sure what reply to give.
‘Hello,’ he said into the receiver, his mind thinking up different excuses, top of which was the very cheesy, ‘it skipped my mind’ excuse.
‘Are you close to a TV?’ Lanre asked, his voice carrying an urgent tinge that excused his lack of courtesy.
‘No… Why?’ Ebuka replied, surprised by the urgency in his friend’s voice.
‘Your girl is on TV, I think you should see it for yourself,’ Lanre said, ‘it’s on Showcase.’
Ebuka slipped the phone back into his pocket without bothering to end the call, his eyes making quick darting runs around the lounge as he tried to locate a television.
‘And what are you looking for?’ Raheem asked him, noticing his friend’s darting eyes.
‘A television,’ Ebuka replied, hurrying out of the lounge.
Raheem followed closely, not sure what to make of the situation, but certain that something was amiss.
Ebuka stopped abruptly when his eyes caught sight of a television hung as a wall frame in one of the mini bars.
He entered the bar, transfixed by the images on the television which was already set on channel Showcase. It was a picture of a couple entangled in a passionate kiss. He recognised them immediately; Daniel and Stella.
‘Was all this search for a TV because we wanted to catch a couple kissing?’ Raheem asked, surprised. ‘You really do need to get married.’ He teased.
Ebuka didn’t respond, blinking continuously in shock whilst gritting his teeth in silent fury. His fingers twitched uncontrollably as he watched Daniel draw the woman he was about to give a ring to, back into his arms for another smouldering kiss. He felt a volcano of rage erupt deep inside of him.
‘Stella!’ Raheem gasped, the moment he could make her out from the kissing couple. He was slack-jawed.
‘Drinks,’ Ebuka called out to the bar-man, as he watched Daniel lead Stella out of the hall with his arm wrapped around her waist. ‘Two shots.’ He added, wondering why the audience on screen were on their feet and clapping. Bastards!
‘Of what sir?’ The man asked, cutting into his thoughts. ‘Hennessy?’
‘No,’ Ebuka answered, taking his seat on one of the stools in front of the counter-top. ‘Your strongest spirit,’ He said, his voice cold as steel.
‘Okay sir,’ the bar-man replied and went about his task without further questions.
‘Way too strong for me,’ Raheem said as he sat next to his friend.
‘I know,’ Ebuka replied, a distant look in his eyes. ‘It’s not for you, it’s all mine. You can make your order.’
‘Take it easy bro,’ Raheem urged, patting his friend’s arm in a soothing manner.
‘I am,’ Ebuka answered as he gulped the two shots of Spirytus in one fell swoop, beckoning to the bar-man for another round. His eyes turned fiery red. ‘This is just the beginning man, it’s going to be a very long night.’
Femi Haastrup stood in front of the mirror, fresh out of the bathroom and just home from a week long business trip in Europe. He was yet to see his daughter who was out of the house for her birthday party.
He picked up his phone from the table, staring at the phone screen with Mr. Subair’s number staring back at him. He felt a strong urge to tap on the green call icon but he restrained himself, preferring to watch Mr. Subair try to explain his actions in his office on Monday instead of hearing him do so on phone.
He couldn’t understand why the man would use his name to blackmail and threaten a staff, especially for the reason his daughter said he did. For a man he was seriously considering to become his next GM ADMIN. This could well lead to his sack.
The door creaked open and his wife stepped into the room, tying her hands around his waist. He smiled into the mirror as he felt her crush herself against his back. ‘Do you think she’ll like it?’ He asked.
‘Who wouldn’t like a car gift on their birthday?’ Foluke Haastrup asked her husband, who covered her hands in his. ‘I can’t wait till it’s my birthday,’ she said giggling.
‘I can’t wait for mine too,’ Femi said, winking at his wife in the mirror.
The lounge was bustling, as happy chatter blended perfectly with high tempo music to produce an electrifying atmosphere.
‘I don’t think my presence here is a good idea?’ Daniel said, as they eased past groups of partying guests, with Stella making stops to respond to friends wishing her a happy birthday.
‘I need you here’ Stella replied, receiving the glass of wine from him, whilst her eyes scanned the room for Desola.
He liked the way she said it, ‘I need you here’. He drew the glass to his lips, letting the wine seduce his taste buds, while he bopped his head to the beat blaring from the speakers.
‘Look who’s finally here,’ Desola called out excitedly in the company of her fiancé, who took Daniel’s hand in his for a firm handshake, while Desola threw her arms around Stella in a hug. ‘What took you so long?’ She asked, glancing questioningly at Daniel, with a mischievous glint in her eyes.
‘And what is he doing here?’ Ebuka interrupted, bellowing with maddening rage and drawing the attention of other guests as he advanced menacingly to the group, with Raheem in tow.
Stella turned her gaze to Ebuka’s direction, her eyes filled with shock at his outburst.
‘Get this bastard out of here!’ He ordered, motioning at Daniel and pointing towards the door.
Daniel remained calm, his hands tucked inside his pockets, while his eyes bore that resolute look of defiance.
‘You are embarrassing me and my guest,’ Stella breathed, her eyes darting from Ebuka to Zainab, before resting on Enitan, who had arrived the group in Zainab’s company. She looked slightly different in a red lace crop top.
Stella lowered her gaze to the hem of Enitan’s crop top, her eyes catching the screaming rose tattoo, etched just inches above Enitan’s exposed belly button. The arrangement looked oddly familiar but she couldn’t place the connection.
‘Embarrass you?’ Ebuka spat out angrily, slipping his hand inside his jacket pocket to fetch the ring, preparing to show her how much of an embarrassment her dalliance with Daniel was causing him.
‘Gold,’ Stella called out quietly, the doubt in her voice eclipsed by the anger in her eyes as her mind began to connect the dots.
The music stopped as if on cue, with Raheem and Enitan turning their gaze to Ebuka, while the questions in Zainab’s eyes quickly turned to confusion, lost as to why Stella was calling the event planner’s name like someone caught up in a trance.
Stella clapped her hands slowly, to the amazement of everyone, staring into Ebuka’s guilty eyes, ‘you really are good at what you do Ebuka,’ she stated with a smirk on her face. ‘So it was right in front of me all this while and I never even had a clue?’
‘Ww…hat are you talking about?’ Ebuka stammered, trying to put up a bold face as he held the velvet ring case in his left hand.
Raheem scratched his beards in obvious apprehension, avoiding his wife’s gaze as he watched the cookie crumble before his eyes. He was in a state of shock.
Enitan’s smile quickly disappeared from her face, leaving behind a cold, defensive stare. She looked like she was ready for a fight.
‘So this is Gold?’ Stella asked rhetorically, ignoring the ring case in Ebuka’s hand and pointing at Enitan dismissively like she was not standing there.
‘No,’ Ebuka lied.
‘Yes,’ Zainab answered at the same time, before turning to look at Ebuka, surprised at his response.
Stella smiled. ‘So cheating on me with her wasn’t bad enough, you had to put a twist to the story by having her plan my birthday party? She just had to be here right?’
The other members of the group and extended onlookers, who had by this time encircled the group, gasped.
‘Just like this fool had to be here too,’ Ebuka retorted, his eyes glancing at Daniel, who was standing beside Stella, with his hands still in his pockets, but with his jawline set and his posture, battle ready. ‘Don’t go all saintly on me Stella, when it’s you who’s kissing someone else on TV.’
Enitan made a grunting sound which was received with piercing stares from Desola and Zainab, who eyeballed her at the same time. They were visibly angry.
‘I’m ready to put these distractions behind us, forgive you and make you my wife,’ Ebuka continued with a coy smile on his lips as he stretched out the open velvet case to Stella with the ring sparkling brilliantly in its soft cushion.
There was a muted awww from the guests as Ebuka opened the case to reveal the ring, while everyone turned their gaze on Stella, waiting to see what her response would be.
‘I don’t need your forgiveness Ebuka, I’m fine where I am, I hope you are too,’ she said, glancing in Enitan’s direction before snuggling into Daniel’s arms as Ebuka stared back at her with a devious grin. ‘Please take me home,’ she said quietly to Daniel.
‘If..fi..fit’s about her,’ Ebuka started, pointing slightly to Enitan’s direction, ‘I…I.. didn’t do anything with her. It was just the pictures that you saw, that was all,’ he said, his eyes shifting around in embarrassment.
‘I’m pregnant,’ Enitan cut in, her voice cold like an assassin’s.
The words hit Ebuka like American bombs on Baghdad, shrinking his stature and leaving him with a battered visage as he gaped stupidly in shock.
‘I confirmed yesterday.’ She added pointedly, with a blank stare.
Chai! Fuck up! A male voice exclaimed from amongst the guests.
‘Congratulations, you’re about to be a father,’ Stella said to Ebuka with a mocking smile, before turning to leave the hall, her fingers locked in Daniel’s.
Ebuka’s mouth hung open as he watched the retreating figures of Stella and Daniel, with Desola and her fiancé following closely behind, and like a man who just discovered madness, he rushed towards the group, screaming ‘Bastard!’ before throwing himself on Daniel. They crashed to the ground with a thud, grappling fiercely like angry gorillas, with guests scrambling to separate both men but not before Ebuka had been dealt a bloodied nose with Daniel having a bruised lip.
Stella cradled the plaque as the music from the radio filled the car. ‘I’m sorry I got you involved in my mess. It was never my intention,’ she said, touching his lip softly.
‘Its fine,’ Daniel replied, liking the feel of her fingers rubbing tenderly on the spot where Ebuka had grazed his lips during the struggle.
‘I don’t like how love, music and dreams ended,’ she said, finally letting out the thought that had been on her mind all evening. ‘I stopped at episode twelve after Danny got evicted from the competition.’
‘Really?’ Daniel asked, reducing the volume of the radio.
‘Yea,’ she replied, ‘I was too heartbroken after that. I’m a sucker for happy endings,’ she said with a frown on her face.
‘Hmmn,’ Daniel grunted with a slight grin playing on his lips.
‘What? Is there something I missed?’ Stella asked, seeing the grin on his face.
‘You missed the best part,’ Daniel answered, making a detour to his right as he tried to avoid the traffic in front of him.
‘So how did the story end?’
‘Not telling,’ Daniel replied, the smile spreading out on his face, ‘you have to find out for yourself.’
‘I hate you,’ she said, punching Daniel playfully on his arm, before fishing out her phone from the bag. She searched out the Love, Music & Dreams file on the phone and scrolled down to Episode =THIRTEEN=.
The fireworks lit the stage, with the audience screaming in delight as Orode disappeared backstage with members of her family, each one beaming with smiles.
‘It’s been a great night,’ Oge said excitedly into the microphone, glancing at her partner Femi, who nodded in agreement. ‘Congratulations once again to all our contestants and most especially to Orode, The Star of the season.’
‘And this is where we draw the curtain on this record breaking season of The Star show,’ Femi continued, ‘but before we go, let’s welcome back on stage the newest Zmobile ambassador, as he does a repeat performance of Rude which has been voted by the fans as ‘The Performance of The Season,’ Femi said, taking a pause, to allow his words to sink into the audience, ‘please help me welcome, the one and only, Da-nny!!!‘
Danny smiled as the stage drapes ascended and the lights came on at the same time to reveal him and the band.
He could feel the energy from the fans who screamed his name delightfully as the drum roll and music from the band eased him into the song.
Saturday morning, walked out of bed, put on my best suit
Got in my car, raced like a jet
All the way to you…
The atmosphere was great. It sure did feel good to be a Zmobile ambassador.
Teni could hear Danny’s smooth voice over the speakers as she marched towards the stage, past the technical area. The white envelope in her hand felt heavy.
‘Stop her!’ A technical staff called out after her when she crossed past the technical area onto the stage.
‘Don’t!!’ Another voice countered as she sauntered into the full view of the audience. It sounded like the director.
Danny continued singing, oblivious of Teni’s presence on stage until a sideways glance made him see her approaching with a white envelope in hand.
His heart beat quickened and his fingers stiffened as she got closer. The band continued playing instead of closing the song after the outro.
Teni stopped just before getting to where he stood, beckoning to him with a tint of sadness in her eyes.
Danny stepped backwards to meet her, with the audience staring at the unfolding drama on stage. ‘Is that the test result?’ He asked.
Danny paused, and even though the answer was obvious from the look in her eyes he just couldn’t help but ask the question, ‘and what does it say?’ Fear evident in his voice.
‘That you can kiss me,’ she replied, easing into a smile, with her eyes glimmering like pieces of diamond stones.
Danny’s eyes popped open in surprise, searching her eyes to see if she was joking.
‘That you scored straight A’s doesn’t mean my offer is valid for eternity, Danny boy,’ Teni warned, her smile widening into a grin.
Danny didn’t need any further prompting as he arched his head closer to hers, letting her lips melt in his like hot chocolates, kissing her passionately amidst the cheering from the audience.
The performance hurtled to an electrifying stop with fireworks again lighting up the stage and serenading the kissing couple as the curtain dropped on what indeed was a magical season.
Stella blushed as she read the closing lines of the story, it was the kind of story you couldn’t wait to finish and when you were done, you wish would never end.
‘You like?’ Daniel asked, waiting for the traffic light to turn green.
‘I love!’ Stella exclaimed, beaming with smiles. ‘But how possible is it to find someone who doesn’t know his genotype?’ She asked, turning to face him.
‘That part of the story is actually based on a true life account,’ Daniel replied, his eyes still on the road.
‘Yes,’ Daniel answered. ‘Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.’
‘And is the story based on your life? Is that why the main character is your namesake?’ Stella queried.
Daniel grinned mischievously in the semi darkness. ‘That part was to trick readers into thinking they were reading about me. Humans are natural voyeurs. They enjoy peeping into other people’s lives.’
Stella chuckled as the car turned into her street. ‘We would make an interesting love story someday,’ she said, peering into his eyes as if to challenge him to write a story about them.
‘And who says someone somewhere is not reading us right now as we speak?’ Daniel asked, bringing the car to a halt in front of her house.
Stella’s brows arched.
‘Yes,’ Daniel responded, grinning.
‘You’re all shades of weird,’ Stella breathed, staring lovingly into his eyes.
‘And you’re all shades of beautiful,’ he replied, pressing forward to give her a kiss. ‘Meet me halfway,’ he pleaded, the seatbelt halting his progress at the point where his lips bristled against hers.
She smiled as she felt his breath blow softly against her face, releasing the strap of the seatbelt and freeing his frame to allow his lips embrace hers in a feverish kiss.
‘Give me a title for our story,’ Daniel whispered.
‘Now?’ Stella whispered, her palms caressing his face as his lips nibbled hers.
‘Yes,’ He replied, staring into her beautiful eyes.
‘Love… music… and dreams.’
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