Ibo took her home, cradling her hand in his with the utmost care for the entirety of the trip. It was the rainy season, and the going was slow, but eventually his driveway opened up to reveal a muddy mess leading up the front walk. He put the Jeep into PARK and cut the engine. Mathilda opened the passenger door to step out of the vehicle but Ibo came around and scooped her up into his arms and carried her across the marsh that was his front yard and up the steps of his porch, all the while forcing a little giggle from Mathilda.
She rolled her eyes and sighed, “Ibo, put me down.”
He did as she asked but his hands never left her shoulders. He leaned in for a brief kiss and said, “I will always protect you, my love.”
This time her sigh was deeper and her eye-roll extended down her back, to her knees, “Ibo, I appreciate how much you care for me, but it is completely unwarranted. I am fine; you don't kneed to protect me.”
Ibo opened the front door and let them inside, closing and locking it behind them. He smiled as the young woman made her way down the hall, “I will always protect you, Mathilda. I love you.”
In the kitchen, Mathilda got a glass and poured herself some iced tea from a pitcher in the refrigerator, “I love you too, Ibo, but I am fine. I am an adult; you don't need to be so overprotective, you know.”
He slipped in behind her and put his hands on her hips as he pressed his chest into her back. He whispered into her ear with a bit more icy sternness than he had anticipated, “I know how much you value life, my sweet, even the lives of the wild creatures of our land. But you need to know this: those who hunt the ivory? Those illegal poachers? They do not value life as you do, and will kill anyone who stands in their way. Do you understand me, Mathilda? They will kill you as easily as swatting a fly. That's why I am worried about you, my love. I could not bear to lose you over some youthful ignorance.”
She whirled on him then, twisting violently in his arms and confronting Ibo with eyes aflame with indignation. He teeth were firmly clenched and she jabbed a finger hard into his chest, “Is that how you feel, Ibo? That I am an ignorant youth?!”
“Mathilda, no. It is just that you believe you can do anything you want. I love that about you, but these are dangerous times, and sometimes it is the wise person who knows when to look the other way and not get in the way.”
Mathilda, her fury simmering on the brink already, was practically fuming at Ibo's careless words. She snarled, “The wise person? Or the coward?” and stormed off to the back of the house, where Ibo heard the bedroom door slam hard enough to rattle the dishes in the sink behind him. A part of him wanted to follow her and maybe explain (through the door, no doubt) how foolish she was acting, but he knew Mathilda better than anyone else ever could; He knew she would be completely unapproachable until her temper cooled. So instead he stood in his own kitchen, wondering how next to occupy his time until Mathilda became more reasonable later on in the day.