Rendition 2

With the exploding chemistry between Bemsen and Kassandra, what turn will fate place ahead of them? Will it be a happily ever after or something else? Let's dig in to find out more...

Walking away from home Kassandra was difficult. Bemsen had just met her, yet she felt achingly familiar. She was not one of the exquisite beauties and glamor ladies he had come across in his life. He had met several ladies in his life so far, beautiful, glamorous, and affluent, but this encounter was unique. Kassandra's gorgeousness was of a different kind, a rare kind. She stood in a class by herself. There was something about her that said she was more than enough, more than a handful. Bemsen could tell that the rabbit hole which presented itself for exploration was laden with captivating mysteries that would require all his willpower and more to ignore. 

How he could perceive her so deeply was another puzzle. Bemsen did not know he possessed such ability to untangle human personality, or was it unique to Kassandra? Everything about her was just a marvel, at least the part he could perceive on their first encounter. She was beautiful in a natural, simple, and refreshing way, sociable, welcoming, kind, playful, intelligent, and organized. Above all, she tugged at his heart the way no one else in his twenty-four-year-long sojourn on earth had. Somehow, she soothed him in ways he could not comprehend. It was like having a new mother fill up a long-standing gnawing vacuum in his life. There was an inexplicable need for this lady in his being that defied immediate comprehension.

"Damien, who is this lady, Kassandra?" Bemsen inquired as they walked to the South-Core's male hostel, his hands in his trouser pockets, his head bowed in deep thought, his ears rapt to pick his cousin's responses. "Where did you find her? Is she for real?" Damien knew he had to keep all his emotions in check. He was green with jealousy, angry at the turn of events but took in deep breaths to steady his tightly strung nerves. The sun suddenly became too fierce on his face, and his shirt was wet with perspiration from the struggle for composure. I wanted you to meet my Kassandra and help me gauge her for me. I wanted you to fall in love with her person and choose her for me. I hope you are not trying to take over. I can feel the chemistry between you and her. I just hope all is well.

"She is my friend," he managed through clenched teeth. "We started in hundred level at the same time. I met her during the battle to get our freshman courses registered." "Why have you never once talked about her? I do not remember you ever mentioning Kassandra to me. Surely, you could not have missed mentioning someone this spectacular." Damien could no longer stand the probe and would have burst out. Just then, one of Damien's classmates, Jev, hailed them down, interrupting a looming tragedy. While they chatted and walked along, Bemsen finally noticed that Damien was agitated. His responses were somewhat curt and, at the same time, reluctant. It was suddenly a strain for Damien to carry on a conversation. He could not remember ever seeing him in a mood this foul before. 

He was one of the coolest among Bemsen's associates and friends. Bemsen had always known he could count on his cousin to be cool-headed and rational in every situation. Whatever agitated him had to be borderline catastrophic. This new attitude was a dilemma for Bemsen. As far as he knew, there were no secrets between them, but this touchy and inflammable attitude begged to differ from the previous stand. The numerous visitations they had together elapsed in a blur as Bemsen seemed preoccupied with Kassandra and the prevailing daunting circumstance. He spoke sparingly, cautious not to mention her to Damien. It became obvious that Damien's sudden change in mood was linked to her. Damien became gayer when he started socializing with other friends. The topic, Kassandra, was laid to rest, but Bemsen planned to get to the roots of the tree. Estrangement from his cousin and bosom friend seemed to crawl up his spine.

As they had planned, the two young men visited Bemsen's sister, Keziah, last. She was expecting them and had cooked dinner. They all ate together. After the meal, Damien excused himself to check on a female classmate in the same hostel to collect an assigned task. Their class was to submit in three days. Bemsen could not wait for Damien to leave the room. "Keziah, who is Kassandra?” "I don't know any Kassandra. Why? "Damien took me to meet her in South Core, female hostels. She is Damien's friend from the hundred level." "I haven't met her yet." "Wow! I hope she is not being kept a secret. Damien and I never keep secrets. This is strange. Keziah, my heart has gone to Kassandra. I left her room without my heart; it is in her custody now. I would like to draw near to her, but I can feel a hindrance in the form of my best friend, Damien. It has just been a few hours, but Kassandra has taken over my life; there is no space in my being that she has not filled. How did that happen?

"You are in love, big brother!" Michal declared happily. She got up from her bed and hugged her brother, who was sitting in a chair. But Bemsen did not share in her joy. "I get a feeling that I have lost her even before I found her; it's heavy in my chest." "Do you think Damien is interested in her?" Keziah sat back on her bed and stared calmly into her brother's saddened face. He was supposed to be all over the place in excitement; rather, he was worried. This hindrance must be serious. "I am not sure. He seems unwilling to talk about her at all. He has been evading the topic since we left Kasandra's room." "Oh! I see. You'll have to pry gently until you know what is going on. If Damien doesn't want to talk about it, there should be a concrete reason. He is your friend. It should not be too difficult for you to get him talking." "Yeah. I'll find a way."

Damien returned to join Bemsen in Keziah's room, and the two friends retired to Damien's hostel room to rest for the night. It was a custom with Bemsen that whenever he visited the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, he spent the night with Damien and shared his small ten-spring hostel bed. The two cousins turned friends were inseparable. It was an opportunity to speak to Damien again about Kassandra. "Dammy?" "Mmhm," Damien answered. "I'll like to take Kassandra out to the zoo tomorrow after church service. Do you think she'll agree to go?" Damien delayed his answer. Oh! Bemsen, can't you let this go? You are breaking my heart. Of all the ladies you have met, why must you fixate on my choice? He checked himself in his thoughts. Damien, play cool. This is your best friend o! What if Kassandra prefers him? Would you stop them? He sighed and cleared his throat.

"You'll have to ask her first to get her response. I may see her tomorrow morning in the early hours' prayer meeting. I could ask her for you." "Yes, please do. Thanks, Dammy." "Sure." Bemsen slept with a hope-filled heart, but Damien slept restlessly till morning. Dread of Kassandra agreeing to go out with Bemsen overtook him. He arose at dawn with a headache. A loud voice was heard in Kassandra's hostel, a voice that said it was time to wake up. Ochai Adanu sounded the morning call to prayer. Every morning of the week had appointed to it a particular person to make a call to prayer chosen from among the Joint Christian Campus Fellowship (JCCF). Since it was more acceptable socially for the males to visit the female hostel at such early hours than vice versa, the venue for the daily morning prayers was Zion Hostel's spacious common room. The common room was large and cozy, officially provided by the institution for the students. It was used for many purposes; a place for students to receive visitors that were not deemed fit to reach the student's accommodations, a television room where many students gathered to watch football matches and other sports. There was also a shop within it to provide for the needs of the students. 

 Kassandra got out of bed, got dressed, and headed for the common room. The prayers said that morning hinged mainly on cultivating God's presence. The entire assembly called unto the Lord Jesus Christ for the enablement to cultivate His presence at all times. The prayer session ended at seven thirty am. It usually started by five to six O'clock in the morning, but on Saturdays and Sundays, it started by five-thirty and ended by seven-thirty in the morning. JCCF was known for punctuality. Friends were greeting each other after the meeting when Damien grabbed Kassandra by the elbow. She had turned to leave, and many others had already dispersed. "Good morning Kass."

"Morning, Damien," Kassandra responded with a welcoming smile, and Damien smiled back. "I didn't see you. How was your night?" "Cool, thanks. Can you give me a minute of your time?" "Sure, why not." And she pulled him towards a quiet corner of the common room's outer entrance. "I hope all's well?" "All is well. No problem. I just want to ask a favor of you," Damien reassured. They both leaned on the porter's desk, which was gigantic, rectangular with curved edges. One end of the desk, which was situated towards the main entrance to the hostel, came close to the wall and had a small door, waist high, which turned, on its hinges to let people in and out of the porter's office space. The other end of the desk was attached to a wall beyond which was a network of stairs that led to the up and down stairs of both the left and right wings of the female hostel. Beyond the desk on the opposite wall, within the portresses' office space, was a board attached to the wall with numerous nails jutting out of it. 

Room numbers were written above each nail which carried the key to each corresponding room. This arrangement made it easy for all the occupants of each hostel room to have access to their accommodation without a hassle. Whenever a student returned from class and saw a lone nail belonging to her room number, it meant that a roommate had already returned, picked up the key, and was in the room. Only a few occasions presented the loss of a room's key. At other times, the last room occupant leaving for class would drop the key in her bag and forget to hang it on its nail. The onus hence lay on the porters to be sufficiently available to serve as security for the students. The female porters were expected to know, if not all, the students, most of them, and which rooms they occupied.

Damien stood gazing at Kassandra without uttering a word. She frowned, her face forming the question Damien knew was coming. "Are you sure there's no problem?" How can I tell her that my cousin Bemsen is interested in her when I am interested? How can I not let her know how my heart beats for her since the very first time I set my eyes on her? Damien, you are late. Your cousin has beaten you to the chase. "Ahem!" Damien cleared his throat and looked down at his feet, clearing his head and rearranging his thoughts. "Please, Kassandra, don't take what I'm about to tell you the wrong way." "I can't promise you that since I don't know what it is, but I'll try not to. What is it?" 

"Bemsen would like to take you out to town today, after church service; to the zoo, to be precise." Kassandra was shocked. She opened her mouth and closed it twice, unable to form any words. Her face registered an emotion that was strange to Damien. There was a mixture of excitement, fear, and shyness. Damien was perplexed. Kassandra's heart was ramming madly against her ribcage, and she could almost say for certain that she felt dizzy. Her hands grasped firmly onto the edge of the desk. She did not trust her feet to keep her standing at that moment. It was her turn to look away. She had never been asked out on a proper date before, and it was a confusing situation to handle. Kassandra was not prepared for this sudden move. 

Damien's perplexity gave way to a joyous understanding, and he almost spilled his joy at what he saw. Thank God she has not fallen for Bemsen. I can still have my chance to woo her. Oh! What joy! A knowing smile touched his lips. "Don't worry, Kass," Damien spoke up after a close observation of his dear friend, "I know what to tell him to get him off your scent." "Thank you," Kassandra sighed with relief, gratitude filling her heart. "But please let him know that he can still visit after church service." "No problem. Have a nice time in church." "Yeah, you too."

Damien gave her his usual friendly wink and walked out the female hostel's main door. He was whistling a tune, a very unfamiliar one to Kassandra. She gazed at her retreating friend in amazement. She had never heard him whistle. Is that a bounce I see in Damien's step? What in heaven's beauty is going on? If I understand him perfectly, I would say he is happy I turned down the date, yet there's something about the situation that says Damien is trying to match-make Bemsen and me. Lord, I like Damien as my brother and friend, not as my life partner. If he is not to be the one, please ensure that he doesn't propose marriage to me, so our relationship is not marred. It would become weird and uncomfortable. 

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