She searched around for him, to see if by some chance he was in the hall but he was nowhere in sight.
How could he leave like that, he knows what this moment meant to her and how she had longed to get this award and to share the joy and happiness with him, she didn't understand any of it one bit.
Oreva noticed Titi was unsettled, saw her scanning the place for something she didn't understand but she quickly found out the reason, Charles had left the hall. In all the excitement they didn't notice when he left. She also looked around for Charles, as if to reassure Titi that all is well but alas he was nowhere to be found. Oreva urged Titi on with a nod and a comforting smile, telling her that everything will be alright.
Titi was getting worried. Charles' disappearance was beginning to show that she was rattled. She tried to speak but choked on the words, she found it difficult to say anything. The side talks from the audience was evident that they were growing impatient and needed her to say something fast. "Why on earth did he leave?" She asked inside "Is he mad that we didn't get a chance to talk, this just doesn't make sense. I love him and I want him here, I need him here." She almost broke down in tears but her eyes caught Oreva and she saw the assurance in her eyes, urging her to go on, telling her that all will be well. Titi mustered all the strength and courage within her, she realised that despite his absence Charles was indeed happy for her.
So she opened her mouth once more and the words came out miraculously. "First of all I'd like to thank God for his blessings upon my life, I would not have made it this far if it wasn't for him. My parents, I know they're watching over me now and would be proud of what their daughter has accomplished. I dedicate this award to them, I'd also like to thank my best friends, more like sisters" she laughed and the crowd joined in Chi, Rev, you guys have been great" She said smiling at her girls and it was no surprise to her that they had teary eyes. "Jide, thanks for being there" Jide gave a nod with a half-smile across his lips "I would like to thank my staff, for their dedication and hard work, we made it guys" She said as Mary wiped her teary eyes with palms. She did not believe they actually won, after all the hurdles, her betrayal and the last minute patch up; in all she was over joyed. Titi looked around again in a desperate attempt to locate Charles but her search proved futile. "I'd love to specially thank a wonderful person that has seen me through my worst and stuck with me through all. He's the reason TOUCH COUTURE gained prominence".
Just at that precise moment, she saw him rush in, panting as if he'd just ran a 100 meter sprint. He took his seat next to Oreva and Titi could not help but beam with happiness and enthusiasm. "Charles thank you so much for everything, my life changed the day you walked into it. And to my customers, God bless you, please shop more at TOUCH COUTURE. Thank you all" She left the stage with her head held high and a standing ovation.
She made her way to the back stage, congratulatory handshakes and hugs poured in from fellow designers, friends and acquaintances. She was shocked to see her friends all waiting back stage for her. "How did they get there so fast?" She asked herself. They took turns hugging her and rained accolades on her. Charles was the last to hug it seemed neither of them wanted to break the sweet embrace, but Titi pulled away. "I have to tell you something now. For a moment I was scared you'd gone. By the way where did you go?" Charles opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted. "You know what, it doesn't matter. You're here now and that all that counts." Titi locked him in another warm embrace. Charles, I love you" She said as she broke the intimate bond between them.
Charles was taken aback, he wiped his eyes and stuck his index finger in his right ear as if to say he didn't hear her correctly. Titi held his hand and stared in his eyes. "Look, I know this must be hard but I'm not expecting you to say anything. I love you Charles and it has taken me this long to realize and come to terms with it. I know you don't feel the same way and it's ok. I just want you to know that I've been so happy spending time with you these past months than I have been in a long time. I wanna be……" "Will you marry me?" That was not how he'd planned it. The words just came out, but then again she left him with no choice. For months he prayed to hear her say those words to him and here he is, finally his dream has come true.
"What did you just say?" Titi wanted to be sure she heard correctly. It could be a joke or something serious and she desperately wants it to be the latter. "Will you marry me Titi?" Charles said going down on one knee, he brought out a small jewelry box and opened it. Inside a heart shaped diamond ring sparkled. Oreva quickly stood beside Titi while the rest watched with rapt attention. Chioma and Oreva exchanged glances and smiled. Oreva whispered something to Titi who was shocked beyond measure, she couldn't say anything, and she just stood there with tears running down her cheeks. "Take the ring silly girl and say yes" Oreva said. And that jolted Titi back to reality. "Why?" She asked. She could not understand why he wanted to marry her. He doesn't even love her. Charles still kneeling on one knee kissed her hand gently and looked at her. "Because I love you Titi, I've loved you from the first time I laid eyes on you. You are everything I desire in a woman and I just wanna take care of you and love you. Sometimes I feel you are too good for me, that I don't deserve you. I thought you didn't feel this way about me, when I saw you on that stage I just knew you are the one and I'm not mistaken. I left to go get this ring. I've had it for a while now. Bought it the day after I met you cuz I knew that I've found the one. Please Titi, do me the honour of being my wife for the next one hundred years" Chioma and Oreva, now overwhelmed with emotion screamed at Titi. "Say yes, say yes" and she echoed them. "Yes Yes, I'll marry you baby" she released her finger and Charles slid the ring in. "kiss her" Jide and Chike urged Charles excitedly. Without waiting a second more Charles found her lips and made it his. They stood, oblivious of the world around them, nothing existed at that moment, nothing mattered, nothing ever will, except the two of them and the new found love they now share.
Everyone sat patiently, well dressed and beaming with smiles. The atmosphere was cool and the ambience was like an enchanted fairytale story. All eyes fixed on the aisle to witness the joining of a beautiful couple. It's been a long time coming and finally it's here. The happy couple couldn't keep their eyes off each other as the priest ministered. They decided to write their vows, they felt the need to speak from the heart and they were done the whole place was agog with guests applauding. Titi wiped her eyes with her handkerchief as she smiled at her friends, they finally did it, Mr. and Mrs. Akintunde. Everything worked out just fine. Chioma is happily married and is due to give birth any moment, Oreva just got hitched and she's also due to give birth soon. And she is not left out, TOUCH COUTURE is doing just fine, Mary now oversees the new branch in Port-Harcourt and also doubles as the face of the label. Ahh, the icing of all, Charles. She spotted him sitting in the front seat, looking so handsome. Soon they'll tie the knot and she'll start a new phase in her life. He's been wonderful and it affirmed Titi's belief that God indeed saved the best for last….