01 May

It's 8:00am, I am driving my old Avensis Verso to work. Our offices are in a building in the middle of the city, my hometown, Kigali. It's a clean, busy but safe place, which is improving almost exponentially, judging from where the country was, in tatters, blood shedding, twenty six years ago, you wouldn't know it has become this sparkling beautiful place people are visiting daily. I turned off the radio which was just talking about the newly discovered microscopic thing that's exactly like Covid-19. Well this thing might just never end. I take that time to adjust my face mask. Gone is the fancy make up I used to put on, there would be no point. 

I work in a travel agency. We take people to tour around the country, help them learn history, while having fun, hiking, and boat riding, taking pictures and all. I am in charge of selling tickets, helping people book their places and advertisement. People have become fascinated, the travel agencies are increasing and so the competition has turned crazy over the course of this year. But we're doing fine. Daisy Tours is thriving, I might have to say that I can take credit, I dare say I came up with very creative and effective ways of advertisement. I park my car, take out my purse, load it with sanitizer and hand moisturizer and get inside. The day goes fairly normally, we are receiving customers and they're buying their tickets both singles and couples, for the upcoming tour to Karongi, a beautiful district in the southern province.
I have arranged everything perfectly and in the evening when I am about to go out planning to go to an Art Cafe, I see him.
Him: Patrick Ngonga, my ex-boyfriend. The guy who had promised to love me forever when we were in highschool, the guy whom we had made life plans together, we had both gone to Germany to pursue our bachelor's degree, and somewhere along the journey he said he was falling out of love, it was near our 5 years anniversary. 

He was getting more private, keeping things to himself, he was expanding his horizons and I was no longer fitting in his plans. I was heartbroken and I came back home and avoided dating at all, I focused on myself. Seeing him again after a year without seeing him, shakes me up a little, my eyes dilated at his sight until they fall to some cute girl next to him, these days when everyone wears a mask yet some people are always visibly cute, she has a nice figure tucked in some skin tight jeans and a skimpy top. On the other hand I am buttoned up in some suit here, with my hair pulled up in a tight granny style bun. I don't measure up to the hottie he has dangling on his arm, I should have known and heeded my Aunt's advice and stop seeing him after highschool.

"Hello, how can I help you?" I say to them in my best business-like tone, everyone has gone out and I am left to receive them. Carine, our receptionist, had an emergency and here I am, facing the last man I need to see right now.
"Hey, Cas," he says casually, calling me by the nickname he had given me when we were together. I no longer go with any nickname, it's Cassandra Rwema.
I hold out my elbow to greet them. "I am Cassandra." I say facing the girl, I see Patrick wincing. "Again how can I help you? We're almost closing."
"I am Sonia, I wanted to buy a ticket for the upcoming tour, please!" She says, her dainty hand clutching Patrick's large bicep.
"Okay, sure," I say, handing her my card and the flyer for the tour, " please read the info from the flyer, and call me on that number on my card for more information and booking your slot. Do I assume you're going as a couple or it's just you?" I ask, almost cringe at the thought of seeing them together.
"No no, I am going with two of my best friends." Sonia says, relief washes over me. I don't know why.

Sonia looks like a sweet girl, maybe that's her luck, Patrick is a sweet guy, funny and crazy, sometimes cute and sometimes so gallant. I know I shouldn't be recalling all the good times we had but I can't help it.
"Okay, Sonia, please call me tonight. We will discuss it and I will give you the ticket tomorrow morning if you like." With that we round up our brief conversation in which Patrick hasn't said anything and I headed home, I am not feeling like going to Art Cafe anymore.

I head home, I live with my brother and my Aunt, not far from the center of the city at Gikondo, a very vibrant neighborhood. My aunt doesn't seem to notice that something is amiss with me, despite her sharp eye about everything and everyone.I tackle insomnia for hours as I wait for Sonia's call, I don't want her to change her mind about it, we need all the clients we can get. Around 11:00pm a number calls me, since I don't have Sonia's number I sigh happily, thinking it might be Sonia finally calling.

"Hey Cas." The voice I would recognize anywhere comes in, Patrick's deep voice slurs in my ears. I roll my eyes. I almost want to hang up on him but I don't.
"What do you want?" I ask.
"You still wear the same perfume," What kind of a response was that?
"That doesn’t answer my question," I retort.
"You've gotten smaller, are you okay?" He says, I am furious with him ignoring my feelings, as if he can waltz back into my life, calling me in the middle of the night as if we have nothing going on. He has marked the end of our relationship himself, who does he think he is?
"You know you're an asshole right?" I say angrily.

There is a deep sigh on the other end and I feel tears pricking my eyes, I still have feelings for him.
"I am so sorry Cas. But you know what, let's go on that tour together. As a couple."
"But Patrick we're not, I don't need you to meddle in my life just because we were in love all those years, you said you fell out of love remember? Don't stress me out!" I cry.
"Buy the ticket Cas, we're going." Click! He hung up. The nerve to assume I will do it.  I refuse to be his puppet, he doesn't own me. I think. I cry myself to sleep.

Days later, I find myself clutching the ticket and a bag waiting for Patrick. He appears in a tight black t-shirt, with sunglasses tucked on the front, along with tight jeans that showcases his tight ass and some white Reebok trainers. He is carrying a small backpack too.
When he reaches me, he just nods, at Sonia, who trails off with some of her friends towards the Van.
"Sorry to spring this on you, but really let's go somewhere else, you and I need to talk." He said. I am flabbergasted at the nerve he has, changing plans as if I would come and go at his beck and call. He takes my elbow and steers me in a different direction, he nods off to Carine, it seems they knew each other and she had a hand in all this.
"Patrick, I don't know what this whole nonsense is about."
"Trust me darling, you will understand this, just follow me!" He says.In a playful tone. It was all pushing me on the edge, it was like he has become someone I don't recognize anymore, he is not the considerate guy I fell in love with.
"Please stop playing this game with me, I can't take it." I almost plead.
His eyes turn soft at my pleading and he looks at me intently.

"The sooner we get this done, the sooner we're all set free." He says. Now I am feeling flutters in my tummy as if whatever this is, I won't like it.
He drives his Nissan sedan to Galaxy hotel, we enter and check in, he takes a room we had had sex in for the first time, I remember how romantic it had been, it had been painful when the hymen broke but it had subdued with the touch and the kisses he trailed all over my body. My cheeks flush when I remember how we had made love almost like animals later in the night. I was an eager student as he taught me more ways to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh, licking, nibbling, kissing and all.

As soon as we enter the bedroom, I sit on the bed and he stays standing. I am imagining better things to do with his ever so handsome body right now and I hate myself for it. We share a heated stare for a minute. I don't know who moves first but the next instant our lips lock, he tastes like coffee and fruits, his routine breakfast. He still can kiss like no other guy, my eyes close as his fingers roam, we fumble with clothing, the kiss goes from soft to hard, the moving becomes frantic and rushed. We don't bother removing all clothes, I dry hump him at first and he groans in my mouth and he unleashes himself pushing the thin material of my panties under the floral sundress I am wearing and he drives himself into me, the heat that has been packing inside of both of us explodes, as we used to do it, we both come together, panting and holding each other.

"You know this was not what I had brought you here for, I just can't resist you." Patrick says. At least I am not the only crazy one between us. I keep silent.
"What then?" I query.
"Will you marry me Cas?" He says. Pulling out a simple silver band with a diamond and a small emerald in the center. It's so freaking beautiful but I can't say that.
"Are you fucking out of your mind? You just can't do this, it's not even fair, you're taking advantage of me Patrick, I refuse to be used and discarded like I am a piece of nothing."

As I say it, he moves and clasps my hands in his. I fight him but he holds me tighter, until I start to cry instead.
"I don't think I can discard you, or forget you even if I wanted to. I have been following you and asking about you from Carine and your Aunt for a freaking year, I couldn't have the guts to ask you to forgive me, I watched you from afar wishing to hold you again. It's been a tough time without you to look forward to, please Cas, you are my life, I said things I didn't mean because I was overwhelmed with the loss of my parents' company and all. I think you still love me and I am not wasting time to put this ring on your finger, mark you mine for all men to see." 

Tears pool in his eyes, something moves in me, it's such a short time, he can hurt me again, I know it but then again I want to be his, I want to be the one he makes love to, the one he dreams and holds tight. I take the ring and slip it on my finger as we both stare at it and share a quiet smile. I am taking this risk, it might be my ticket towards my own happy-ever-after. We kiss and make up, screw recklessness. Love is hardly sane. But that makes it much more beautiful.

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