He'll come back to you.

Gladys began to cry quietly. “Thanks for saying that, I really appreciate it. It’s not as if I doubt it but it would be easier to ignore all the rumors if I were sure of Edward’s love.”

“And that’s another way you’re different from me and the main reason I’m telling you this now. You’re making the effort to know your man which I didn’t. Everyone said I shouldn’t lose this rich suitor so I grabbed on with both hands. I married for convenience and maybe that was the root of the rift that later occurred. I regretted my choices when it was already too late.”

“So you didn’t know he would be this way when you got married to him?"

“I had no idea. I came to Lagos at eighteen to learn fashion and designing with a woman from our village. The apprenticeship didn’t work out and I started casual work at one of the factories owned by my husband’s family. That was where we met and a year later we were married. I never asked if my background was a problem and just believed that if he could marry a poor girl, he would accept my family as well. We both know it didn't turn out that way."

“I hear you.” Gladys paused and wiped her face. “And that is why I want to be totally sure of Edward’s motives for wanting marriage. I’m certainly not with him for the money and I don’t want to hook up for convenience’s sake. There is no guarantee for the future but at least I think we need to start off from a strong basis of trust, love and respect.”

“That is something that both of you would have to talk through. And yes, he has to care deeply for you and what’s important to you. You have to be sure that he’s someone who can accept compromises too. I have found that one of the most important things in a partner.”

“I don’t know if Edward is willing to give us the chance. This may be the end. He hasn’t called in the past week…”

“Why don’t you call him?” Aunt Isioma raised both palms at the look Gladys gave her. “OK I know. The man must be the first to capitulate eh? Are you sure you did not say any damning things during the disagreement? Men and their egos can be so easily bruised.”

“I’m sure I didn’t. I only wanted him to spell out how he felt for me. I want him to make a commitment deeper than just wanting me physically.”

“Then don't worry; if it is the same Edward I know, he'll call you. One would have thought his eyes were clear enough on how he feels, but you young people. What can I say; you want to hear the words. Still I’m certain he’ll come back to you.”

"Do you think so? I'm beginning to fear..."

Aunt Isioma put one arm around her shoulders and wiped her tears with the other. "Cheer up dear. Don't lose hope, he’ll surely call. He’s probably deciding on the next step. Give him as much time as he needs to sort his thoughts out OK? It’s probably better you’re going to meet your family in Enugu. They’ll take your mind off things. And please do cheer up; Christmas day is next week you know?"

Gladys smiled and returned to her packing.