[STORY] Dear future Husband (Episode 1-10)

First rule of a Monday morning, especially when you stay in Lagos, ‘DON’T WAKE UP LATE!’ Tola Matthews had never fallen short of this rule, except for today. She brushed her leg against the side table as she made for the front door. I giggled. Tola stopped to eyeball me.
She rolled her eyes. “Kimberly, the only reason I am not going to talk back at you is that I feel pity for you.” she started. Tola had a knack for showing off her status as Broker. “You don’t have a job. All you do is sit and watch TV, I have no problems with that, but don’t you think you should look for a real job that takes you out early?” she said looking at the wall clock. She smiled at me. It had mock written all over it.
I snickered. “You are not happy. And the money in the Firm isn’t yours, you work for Mr. Asolo. One day, they’ll take that Range Rover back.” I replied, with a grin.
“I bought that with my money!” she hissed and stepped out.
I wasn’t done yet. “Kentucky on your way back, please.”
“Did I hear you right?” Tola replied, tucking her head back in.
I smiled. “You are a salary earner, aren’t you?”
I focused my attention back on the Flat screen. It is a big deal when you have nothing to do in Lagos. I am Kimberly Bankole, popularly called Kim Banks by my friends, graduated with a First Class from the prestigious University of Lagos with a degree in Economics. So much for my First Class Degree! I had sought to live on my own and when my best friends, Tola and Ini presented the opportunity I jumped at it.
Tola works in the Real Estate Business and due to her hard work, she was gaining heights every day, and she currently occupies a top position in Asolo Real Estate Firm. Tola paid her way through the University as she lost her father quite early. She indulged in business all through her stay on the Campus, and coupled with the monthly bursaries from the Government, she could fend for her academics.
Ini Obong is a model. She recently just got herself a billboard job for beauty soap. Ini worked when the opportunity arose, and she earned fat for it. Her career was fast rising and her manager, Marcus, worked tirelessly to get her jobs. Ini cherished her beauty sleep and she was still having it. But with Kimberly in the house, who would get a beauty sleep?
I drew the curtains and let the sun rays in. “Wake up!” Ini rolled over and covered her face with the pillow. “Ini, it’s almost 9 in the morning. The roads would be free, why are you still in bed?”
Ini snarled. “I don’t have to look for Jobs, they hunt me! Now get out of here.” She said, punching the pillow.
“Really, Ini? You should be awake.” I said, pulling the duvet.
Ini punched her pillow heavily and sat up. “I need my beauty sleep!” she emphasized. “The party lasted late into the night and I am tired. You should be the one on the road, go get a job.”
I shot at her. “How many times do I have to tell you that I have a job? I am a freelance writer!”
Ini chuckled. “Ah…yes, I remember, whatever that is, honey.” She said, and slumped back to bed.
I rolled my eyes and left for the kitchen. I work as a freelance writer from home, I write articles on the internet and if a column job comes by, my friend, Ben passes it to me, Although, I haven’t gotten any yet. I have his promises to cling on to. I am from a popular Lagos family. I am Professor and Professor Mrs. Bankole’s only child. Wondering why I am not gainfully employed? I turned down several opportunities to work for my Father and his well established friends. Economics had never really been my dream; I lived it for my Parents who are successful Economists. After my first degree, I hurried out of the house so I could chase my dreams, to be a writer.
“How many successful writers can you find in this country?” Professor Bankole had shouted at me when I stood before him with my bags.
I sighed. “Dad…there is Wole Soyinka and recently, Adichie. Dad, I can do this.”
“They are few, scanty and insignificant! I would give credit to Wole Soyinka and a few others, but the field is meaningless, you would be broke!”
I took a deep breath. “Dad, please. I am tired of Economics. I don’t want to work in that Firm.” It had never been easy being Professor Bankole’s daughter, your life is all typed out like one of his Economics textbooks.
Mother knelt down before her husband. “Tunji please let her go.” She begged. She is my silent advocate.
“What are you saying, woman? Kimberly is about to bring shame to our family. She is only 21, what does she know about wanting to live on her own? She even wants to be a writer, this is ridiculous!” he said, tapping his legs.
Wura Bankole nodded. “I know how you feel, Tunji. But, we have to let this girl try, who knows? Please…” she begged. Men and their egos! I had to join mother on her knees.
“Listen to me, young woman. I give you a year to make a nuisance of yourself in that field called ‘Writing’ after which, if you fail,” he shrugged. “Of course,
when you fail, you are coming back home and would work in the Firm.”
I stared at him as he spoke. He couldn’t see any light at the end of my tunnel.
“And one more thing, I don’t have to remind you about not liking any man, you already have David Coker.” He said sternly.
I nodded. “Dad, you don’t have to remind me. I have heard this all my life! I went through University without any man, so you have nothing to be scared of, I would become David Coker’s wife when he chooses.” I replied, spitefully.
“Young lady! Show some respect!” he shouted.
I scoffed. “Of course Dad. I am the only one who is not allowed to fall in love freely because David Coker would marry me. Do you even care to know the last time David Coker and I spoke?” Dad sipped his drink. “Two months ago Dad, two months!” I argued.
He placed his glass on the table. “David is a busy man. He is doing all that for you, he has to manage his father’s business and it’s all over the world. He would be back soon.”
I leaned against the sink and waited for the Kettle to whistle. I made a hot cup of coffee.
“Please make me a cup too.” Ini said, as she took her seat.
I smiled. “You are finally up. Of course, I would make you coffee, I am good for something after all.”
Ini scoffed. “Oh…sweetheart, Hasn’t ‘Ben Ten’ called you today?” I smiled. “Oh, he hasn’t. I think that guy is cute.” I stared at her. “Oh…I get it; you are not allowed to love.” I handed her the cup of coffee. “Thank you, sweetheart.” Ini sipped her mug carefully. “Kim, really, don’t you think Prof. Bankole is pushing you?”
“It’s for my own good.” I replied, taking a seat. “It has always been for my good.”
Ini scoffed. “What good? Right from when we were at High school, your old man has always been on your neck with this issue, David Coker this…David Coker that. Wake up, girlfriend, David won’t marry you.”
“Ini, he will.” I replied. “Dad said so.” I said softly.
Ini laughed with so much mockery in it. “Honey, I have always liked you since high school, I mean you were my school daughter, so I would tell you this, David won’t marry you. You guys barely speak.” Seeing my expression she tried cheering me up. “I don’t know how things run with you guys from wealthy homes, but maybe because my folks were broke while I was growing, they won’t dare betroth me, I mean it’s so outdated.” She said. “And to think your parents are professors.” She murmured.
I snickered. “You can say that again.” I stared at the kitchen sink. “We’ve got to fix that pipe, the one beneath the sink.” Ini nodded and dropped her mug in the sink. “Ini, you are so going to wash that.”
Ini stuck her tongue out. “Marcus is waiting.” She said, and left for her room. Ini had the habit of leaving the dishes. “Who would marry you?” I shouted.
“Someone who isn’t DAVID COKER.” she called back, laughing.
I smiled.
That was the daily routine. Since I have nothing real to do, I just sit by my Apple laptop all day and write down articles, short stories and poems. I would also get the groceries and stock every corner of the house. If Ben called, I would say hi to him at the Office, else I would see Mom at home, but I had to call first. Dad didn’t want to see me.
“Hi, Mom.” I said, as I turned on the Television.
Wura Bankole closed the door to her study. “Hey…I told you never to call in the mornings.” She whispered. “Your Dad is still home.”
“I had no idea I had to sneak around to say hi to my mom because of I am on some sort of probation by the Almighty Professor Bankole. Mom, I just want to say hi.” I replied, turning off the TV.
Mrs. Bankole sighed and took her seat. “It’s not like that, Kim. You know how your father is. Anyway, how is it out there?”
“Mom, it’s rough. Getting a Job is hard. But I am coping fine.”
Mother sighed “Just come back home, Kim. You can work in the Firm and still get jobs as a writer; I would talk to some friends.”
I rolled her eyes. “Mother, you know the terms. Dad has to see that I can make it without your help. Thanks Mom.”
“Have you heard from David this month?” Wura Bankole asked, changing the topic. Still not a friendly topic!
I chuckled. “Not at all. He didn’t even reply my mails, he must be really busy.” Mom laughed on the other end. “Do you regret being married off to Dad?” There was a deep silence from the other end. “Mom?” I called. Silence means affirmation!
“Not at all, Honey. He provides me with everything I want and need. The society loves us, we are happy.”
I scoffed. “Mom…”
“Oh…Kim, I have to go now. I have a presentation in about an hour.” She replied and hung up.
I nodded as I held my phone to my chest. “Yes mom…‘you always have’ to go, you are not happy, yet you think it’s what best for me. David Coker would provide everything I want and need, I would be happy.”
Tola picked up the receiver. “Yes…”
“You are needed at the Boardroom now, ma’am.” Kemi said. Kemi is Tola’s secretary.
Tola closed her laptop and wore her blazer. She stepped out elegantly as ever and flashed at Kemi. “Take down any message.” She said, as she walked briskly. As a manager, Tola Matthews had a lot on her hand. She had to be up and doing, she had never relented.
She opened the door to the boardroom. “Good morning ladies and gentlemen.” she said as she walked into the empty Board room. She stared at the empty seats and chairs. What prank was Kemi playing? She turned to walk away.
“Not yet, Ms. Matthews.”
She turned round to see one of her clients, their biggest client. “How did you get here?” she asked and stopped. “Of course, you are Wole Briggs, where can’t you be?”
He nodded. “That’s correct. I am Wole Briggs, I can open any door. Please have lunch with me.”
“Money isn’t everything you know.” She started. “It is a shame that some people allow themselves to be bought as to let you into this place.” She stopped and stared at him. “Get out before I call security on you.”
He scoffed. “Really, Tola? I am just trying to be friends with you.”
“Friends? I would say you are stalking me. That thing you did with my tyre the last time I came to your office, I still remember. If only I found out earlier that it was you who had pricked it, I would have had you picked up for acting like a street urchin.”
Wole Briggs laughed. “Tola, come on. Did you think the Police would come as close as touching my hand not to talk of cuffing it?” He smiled revealing his perfect set of teeth. “I just want to be friends with you.”
“The answer is No. now get out, Wole.” She said, sternly.
He nodded. “Of course, as you wish. But I would be back. I don’t give up.” He said and walked past her. He stopped and stared at her. “Loosen up a bit, you work too hard.” He said as he undid her top button.
She smacked his hand. He smiled and walked out. “Stupid pervert!”
Tola returned to her office. “Who put the call across for me at the Board room?” she asked.
“It was Mr. Asolo, ma.”
Tola smiled. “Of course. Thank you.” she replied and walked into her office.
“It’s really competitive out there for the billboard jobs.” Marcus said as he gave Ini a massage.
Ini took off her earphones. “Marcus, I am hot and beautiful. It is not competitive for me. See, I just won a billboard job.” She flashed a smile.
He smiled. “I admire your confidence, but remember Shola Jones beat you to the last job.”
“That’s because she slept with all the men in that agency.” She replied, with a grimace. “Disgusting.”
Marcus smiled. “And you went ahead to put that on twitter. Ini, the men in the Agency are not our friends thanks to that.”
“But I have fans. At least they know that some models are modest.” She said, flipping her head over her shoulder.
“And loud mouthed.” He added, quickly. Ini grinned. “But really Ini, you have to take this job really serious, I pulled some strings to get you this billboard and I hope you don’t mess it up.”
Ini snarled. “What could possibly go wrong, Marcus?” she whined. “You are scared for nothing, just relax. You know I think we should go to the Spa, I am tired of your rough hand, and I need a real massage.” She said, rising to her feet. “You should also get a massage. You worry too much, Marcus.” She said, and left for the bathroom.
Marcus sighed. “Of course, I have to. You are my source of livelihood. As long as you work, I won’t be broke. I have a responsibility.”
“I heard you, Marcus.” Ini shouted from the bathroom.
Marcus smiled. “As always.”
“Thank you for having lunch with me.” Ben said, as he stared at me.
Ben fell into deep thoughts. Kimberly, an epitome of beauty, was definitely any man’s desire. She was simple, brilliant and beautiful. Ben had admired her from the first day she walked into Millaroca looking for a job. She had greeted everyone respectfully. Ben had faked being the boss and stepped up to her. “Hey, what do you want here?” he asked, staring at her eyes.
“Sir, I would love to apply for a job.” She replied.
Ben smiled. “Erm…we are totally occupied here. So many staffs and we won’t be needing another. But you can drop your CV behind.” She said, pointing at the attendant.
“Ben…Ben…” He turned around swiftly. “The Boss is here.” He flashed a smile at Kimberly. “You would meet the Boss soon.” He said, and dashed out through the back door.
Millaroca Magazine is about 30 years but was now gradually being edged aside in the country. It was mostly purchased by the ‘older generation’ as it used to appeal to them, but they soon lost interest. The Magazine needed a push to come back to the forefront in the country, but the competition really was stiff.
I raised her head. “So, you said you wanted to see me.”
“It’s just for lunch.” He replied, with a smile. My face fell. “How’s the job hunt?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Nothing has changed. They all said they would call back, and no one has. Isn’t there any column job at Millaroca? I would take stipends.”
He held my hand. “It’s not about stipends; there are so many old brains at Millaroca. And to be honest, the boss is not willing to change his ideas, he believes in classic and from our survey it turns out the classic women don’t even want classic again.” He said.
I smiled. “Maybe they would pass it on to their kids when they stop liking classic.”
“Kim, I would keep trying to get you a chance to write. You just have to be patient with me.” he said, and sipped his coke.
I nodded. “Of course Ben, It’s not like I have too many options.” I replied. And truthfully, time was also running out!
“So, I thought I could take you out this Thursday.” He asked.
I raised one eyebrow. “Thursday, erm…I think I would be busy…maybe I should…”
“Kim Banks, you are never busy. You don’t want me to rub it in that you have no real job.” I frowned. “Okay, I am sorry, but it’s Valentine’s Day. I thought we could hang out when I close from work.”
I rolled my eyes. “Really? Ben, you don’t think I would fall for you, do you?”
He smiled. “A man must always try. I don’t give up.”
“Start learning to. Anyway, where are we going to?” I asked.
He shrugged. “Let me keep that a secret.”
“Secret? I don’t like secrets. Maybe you are a serial killer. Are you?” I asked, pointing my Fork at him. We laughed.
He raised his hand. “Okay, I meant surprise.”
Ben had many qualities that any lady would fall for, but remember, I am ‘married to David Coker’, although Ben doesn’t really strike me as that man. I’d rather remain friends. “So, are we gonna have Thursday?” he asked, with a smile.
It wasn’t as if I had anything doing, and of course, I didn’t want Ini and Tola throwing their day in my face. “Of course.” I replied, with a smile. Ini and Tola never spared me of their Valentine day’s gifts throughout our high school and university days. It wasn’t as if I didn’t get gifts, but they were from ‘Anonymous’ guys. I didn’t bother to keep them.
“It won’t be at one of the expensive places that you might be used to.” He continued. I stared at him. Who cared about money? My Parents were the wealthy ones, not me!
I nodded. “Ben, I am penniless, why would I mind?”
“You are Professor Bankole’s daughter, aren’t you? Sometimes I wonder why you are job hunting, he could just hook you.”
I stared at him. I had never told him about my family background. “How do you know about my father?”
“I am a huge fan of Professor Bankole. I love his guts and everything about him, so I know everything about him.” He straightened in his seat. “That is of course, as far as Wikipedia would tell me. And the journals too.” He said, flashing his teeth at me. “But I won’t mind an extra lecture; I would love to meet him.”
I blinked. He smiled. “So, would you help me?”
“I would think about it.” I replied, and tried to finish up my food.
Marcus fumbled with his I-pad for a while; he stared at Ini who looked rather too calm for their current situation. Well, he hadn’t told her the bad news yet. He had to! “Ini, we have a situation.” Marcus said, scrolling through his I-Pad.
She adjusted her bathrobe. “You worry too much, Marcus. What could it be this time?”
He took a deep breath. “I just received a mail from the advert agency. They want to revoke your contract.”
Ini nodded. “For the billboard, right?” she asked.
“Yes. My sources tell me that Shola Jones is behind it.”
She smiled. “Of course, that skanky little thing has to be. She is trying to take her revenge on me after the twitter saga.”
“What are we going to do?” Marcus asked.
Ini scoffed. “I should be asking you that. It turns out; I am even tougher than you are. Shola Jones would walk into our trap; her skin needs a little adjustment.” She said, with a grin.
“Ini…we could hurt her career.”
She nodded in agreement. “She struck the match; she’s bound to feel the flame.”
Marcus sighed. This is not the first time Ini had fought Shola Jones back and when they did, it was really messy. Both of them never really got along well. The Fashion industry was fast rising and Models were out at each other. It was a matter of who would take the lead, and as far as Lagos was represented, the battle line was between Ini Obong and Shola Jones.

[nextpage title=”Episode 2″]
“Ben…you are so gonna love this.” I said as I took my seat, excitedly.
He stared at me. “So what’s this news that has you leaving my door open?” he said, and walked over to shut the door.
I smiled at him. “I am sorry, Ben.” I said, feigning seriousness. He shrugged and took his seat. “Okay, I am pregnant!”
“What?” Ben said, staring at my stomach.
I scoffed. “Come of it Ben, I meant Pregnant with this huge idea to bring Millaroca up, you are so gonna love my plan.” He nodded. “I know it’s competitive here and there are old brains, but I have to bring it out.”
He sighed. “Kim…This organization abides by lots of traditions; you can’t just come in here and change things no matter how impressive the ideas are.”
Yeah yeah…here we go again with Traditions! “We don’t always have to go with traditions; it’s like flying around in circles. Millaroca has been down for years, no one is buying anymore.” I blurted. “The articles are not fascinating, no one is impressed.” I said, almost raising my voice.
He shook his head. “Kimberly, you know how things are here. Mr. Adeoye believes in classic. You met him some months ago, and you remember what he told you, he doesn’t like a change.”
I drummed my fingers on the table. “He’s got to be flexible. Ben, he believes in you, why not convince him?” Ben blinked. “Or maybe, you are also comfortable with the classic stuffs, right?”
Ben frowned. “Not everyone is Professor Bankole’s daughter who has a backup plan even when fired. Some of us have to live by this all our lives.” He said, raising his voice. My face fell and I clasped my bag to my arm. He sighed. “I am sorry Kim; I didn’t mean it that way.”
“It’s okay. I have to be somewhere.” I said, and walked out.
The streets really aren’t fun to walk. The sun was scorching and I had to catch the next bus at the BRT station, lucky me, it was only five minutes away. I sat down thinking about my idea; I wanted to write a new series for the Magazine. It would catch the youths especially the female gender and when you have ladies onto something, the men have no choice, at least, it would tell on their pockets.
The best thing about being on the road around 11am is that you would easily get a seat in the bus, most of the working class people would be at work, and if anyone would be on the bus, they might just be visiting friends or running errands and on a working day, you hardly find them. I leaned against the glass as thoughts floated through my mind; I had just 6 months to go. I left home September last year after my First degree.
I didn’t have enough personal money to publish a novel, even if I wanted to, I had to write, edit, and other formalities, a year would have been over and Dad would have the last laugh. With the way things were going, Dad might still be the winner, if I didn’t find a solution to this and make myself relevant, I would be in for Economics. I had to use part of my savings when I wanted to move into the Flat with Ini and Tola. We all had our share to pay for the Porsche Flat we had bought.
Mr. Asolo, the founder of Asolo Real Estates drummed his pen on the table. “Ms. Matthew, I would love you to meet with a client today during lunch at this address.” He said, scribbling down details into a paper.
Tola straightened up. “Sir, I have a lot to tidy up, can’t I send the other guys?” She already knew that it was Wole Briggs.
He frowned. “This is very important to our Firm. We can’t afford to lose our much cherished clients. He asked specifically for you.” she sighed. “Don’t be tired of working hard, it has earned you this position. He needs a new house.”
“But Sir, Mr. Briggs has already gotten houses from us, what does he still want?”
Mr. Asolo laughed. “His money never runs out, try to bring them all here.” He said, and turned on his laptop. He was directly telling Tola to leave. She got the message. She bowed and walked out.
Tola hurried off to her office. “Kemi, please I would be out for lunch, if I have any messages, kindly take them down.”
Kemi nodded. “Ma’am, you had a call when you went to see Mr. Asolo. It came from Mr. Scott.”
Tola sighed. “I have told him never to call the office again.” She murmured and pushed her door open. She grabbed her phone and immediately dialed Tolu Scott. “Tolu, why did you call the office?”
“You weren’t answering your calls, Tola. I had no choice.”
She took a deep breath. “What is it? I told you I would see you later after work.”
“Tola, I need money.”
She snarled. “Of course, Money! Is that all I am good for? You always need Money!”
Tolu raised his voice. “Is it my fault that I am unemployed? If it weren’t for my current state, would I call you to ask for money?”
Tola was really a softie. “Okay, how much?”
“Erm…#50,000 would do, it’s a bit urgent. So, maybe you should just wire it quickly.”
Tola clenched her fists. “I am very busy. I would have someone do it later in the afternoon.”
“I want it today.” He said, and hung up.
Tola held her head. “He always wants money! Like I am his money bag or something? Oh…God.”
Tola and Tolu Scott had been dating for years. He is handsome, tall, fair skinned and well built. A very attractive man, but Tolu had a snag, he saw Tola as his personal purse. Her last boyfriend was a lot like him, he loved money to a fault and Tola was as ‘generous’ as ever. She had six zeros every month behind a solid number which increased gradually. He always had the need for money and Tola dished it out until she complained and he ran away, but she really did love Tolu and even when she felt like giving up, she just couldn’t quit. She really was unlucky.
Tola pulled up at Soul Lounge and stepped in. She spoke to the attendant and he pointed to where Wole Briggs was seated.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Briggs.”
He smiled. “Always on time, I like that.” He said, and helped her to a seat. “Thank you for having lunch with me.” The waiter came over and took their order. Tola ordered only a drink.
“Don’t make me feel bad, Tola. I just want to do business with you.”
She nodded. “Business? Then why don’t we stick to business, and you deal with appropriate persons, if you had anything to do, you could have seen the other guys in the Firm, why me? And why do you always have to involve Mr. Asolo?”
“He is my father’s friend. I figured he could easily help me.”
She shrugged. “You have never had to work for anything, have you?”
“Yes. I have always worked to make sure that my life goes on just the way I want it.” He replied, with a sly grin.
She scoffed. “You are so full of yourself, I may not have all the money in the world but I can’t be bought. If it is business you want, then let’s deal, I don’t like wasting time.”
“I admire your guts, Tola.” He said, and sipped his drink. “You are always throwing my love back in my face; most ladies would kill to have your opportunity.”
Tola laughed mockingly. “Really? I had no idea that you knew so much about love. You are proud, stupid and rich, no one can love you. They only want your money, honey.” She replied.
He blinked and turned his face away. “Am I stupid?”
She nodded with a smile. “You are, my dear.”
“Thanks. We would talk later.” He said, dropped some money and walked out.
Tola watched him walk out and smiled.
I stopped at the grocery store. “Old Rodger!” I called as I walked in. Old Rodger ran the store. He had a smile for everyone and he had read some of my articles, he said he loved my work. I didn’t see him at the stand so I walked inside the store. “Old Rodger.” I called.
“Eh…where are you going to?”
I turned round to see a young man staring at me. “Ya…where are you going to?”
“I want to see Old Rodger.” I said, dumbly.
He smiled. “Here’s young Rodger.” I squeezed my eyeballs. “Dad is not around, he is a bit sick.”
“Really?” I stared at him. He was wearing an Apron.
“Come over here.” He said, and walked away.
I followed him. “Are you Old Rodger’s son?” He turned at me with a grimace. “Of course…I am sorry, you said, ‘Dad’.”
“Ms., what can I help you with?” he asked. He stood in front of the Fruit stand. “They are fresh and I bet you would love them.”
I nodded. “I would have some of these and some of that….” I said, pointing at the stand.
“Is that all?” he asked, packing them up.
I shook my head. “No, maybe some potatoes and vegetables too”
“I don’t have all day, please try to be brisk.” He said, with a frown.
I shot at him. “Hey, I am your customer, you asked a question and I responded. If you are not happy working, you should quit.”
“What do you know?” he replied, and walked away to get some potatoes. “Anything else?”
I shook my head. “You are rude! Pack them up.” I said.
He murmured as he put them into bags.
“Stop murmuring, will you?” I shouted, angrily.
He stamped his foot. “I am not in the mood, okay?”
“Try not to rub your moods on others.” I said, as I grabbed the bag. “How much is my bill?”
He ran his eyes through my body and I had to look at it myself. “#3,500” he said, hastily.
I scoffed. “So you assess people before you bill them? You really have a horrid habit.” I said, fumbling with my purse. I handed him four clean #1,000 notes. I would have given Old Rodger the rest as a tip, but for his son, I would gladly collect the balance.
He dashed into the tiny office and returned with the Balance. “Here” He said, stretching out a Five Hundred Naira note at me.
I collected the change and bumped into Old Rodger as I attempted to leave. “Old Rodger!” I said, with some joy. “I thought you were sick.”
He nodded and moved aside. He puffed his pipe carefully. “I couldn’t stay at home anymore, my customers are not pleased with this kid, he’s a pain.” He said, pointing towards the direction where his son was standing, but he had now disappeared into the tiny office. Old Rodger smiled. “Henry is really something else.” He said, and helped himself to his seat. He stretched his cane out and sighed. “Did he treat you right?”
I wasn’t about to answer that and add to Henry’s troubles. I smiled in response.
Rodger scoffed. “Kim, I know he has an effect on ladies with his cute face and masculine body and all, but you should report him when he errs.”
I stared at Rodger. Now that he mentioned it, I had ignored Henry’s gorgeous looks due to his attitude. A bad attitude really takes you nowhere! “I would be off now, Old Rodger. Do take care of yourself, you should probably get some more rest and stop smoking that thing.” I said, pointing at his pipe.
“I can’t stop.” He called back laughing.
I smiled and pushed the door open. “See you later.”
Old Rodger coughed. His cough had worsened and the Pipe wasn’t going to help, yet he won’t bulge. “Henry.” He called.
Henry came out of the office. “Dad, she provoked me. She won’t make up her mind at once.”
Old Rodger picked his cane and stroked Henry’s arm. “And the same with every other customer?” Henry shrugged. “No lectures today, right? You are in your finals. Try to take things more serious and maturely.”
Henry nodded. “Aye Aye Captain!” he saluted. His father hissed. “Dad, I think you should go home, I am really capable of running this show you know.”
“What show? My shop isn’t a club. I make money from here to take care of you.”
Henry rolled his eyes. “Technically, I didn’t mean it is a show, it is a short way of saying things, Dad. You really are out-dated, you won’t understand.”
Rodger nodded and stroked him harder with the cane. Henry jumped back, rubbing his skin. “Good for me. At least, my generation taught me to have manners. I respect everyone even Ms. Kim, not like you, who can’t respect anyone.”
Henry scoffed. “Come on Dad!” he replied, fetching himself a seat. “That lady isn’t the reason for this attack, is she?” he asked.
His father sighed. “Are you through with your special project work?”
“No Dad, I am taking aids from those Kim Banks Articles, I wish I could meet the lady someday. I need her to assist me on a lot of things, else I won’t be able to import some ideas and it would be a shame because those articles are rich.”
Old Rodger burst into a mocking laugh. Henry stared at him. “What, Dad?”
Rodger continued laughing. He eventually stopped and poured himself some liquor. “You just met Kim Banks.” He replied.
I emptied the groceries into baskets and stocked them in the kitchen. Ever since we started living together, it became a point of duty for me; I also had to handle the cooking, except for Saturdays when we cooked together and Sundays when we ate out. I enjoyed helping out, but I wished that I had a real job. I am the youngest of us, Tola Matthews is 27, Ini is 24, she would be 25 in a few weeks, and well you know my age, but I would be 22 in July, I was hoping that I would be settled in my field by then.
My phone rang. I stared at the home screen, it was Ben. I ignored the call. As I washed in the sink, water dripped from the broken pipe. “Ah…” I sighed and left for the store. I fetched some plumbing tools and a new pipe, all I had to do was to change the pipe.
The door bell rang. I checked the wall clock. “It’s just past noon. Who could that be?” I thought aloud as I adjusted my gloves. The door bell chimed again. “Who is it?” I asked as I reached for the door.
“Rodger” came the response . ‘Old Rodger?’ I thought.
I opened it and shook my head upon seeing Henry, Old Rodger’s son. “What do you want?” I asked.
“Thanks for not telling on me before my Dad.” He said.
I nodded. “If that’s what you came here for, it’s fine.” I replied and tried shutting the door, but he stuck his leg. “What?” I asked.
He smiled. “It’s not fine. If it was, you won’t be trying to get rid of me so easily.” He said, with a smile. He stared at my hand. “What are you doing in those gloves?”
I smiled. “Trying to fix a broken pipe.” I replied, holding the Wrench.
“Can I help out?” he asked, stretching out his hand.
I shook my head. “Nah…I can do it.”
His face fell. “I would feel bad leaving you alone to do it” He said.
“Okay, come in.” I said, stepping out of the way. I shut the door gently behind him.
He stared at the Apartment. “Nice place you have here.” He said. He looked at a Picture frame on the wall. It had a picture of Tola, Ini and I in it. “Your sisters?”
I smiled and handed him the wrench. “More like it.” I pointed towards the kitchen. “Get to work.”
Henry got to work immediately. He started with the wrench while I sat and watched. “You know, I could use some help here.” He said, taking out the old pipe. I smiled. I thought he was acting all ‘Mr. I can do it’.
“What do you need my help for?” I asked.
He popped his head out. “My Special Research project.” He replied.
I stared at him surprisingly. “Plumbing? I had no idea…” I said, with a smile.
He wore a grimace. “Very funny, Ms.” He stretched.
“Kim…Kimberly” I replied, chuckling. “I just knew you needed me for something.”
He put in the new pipe and screwed it tightly. “I need Kim Banks. She has this article that I intend to take a cue from.”
I nodded. “I suppose you got it from Old Rodger.” I said, clasping my hand on my lap. “All you have to do is read it.”
“Kim, it’s not that easy to decipher why a lady would want to get her heart broken, every lady avoids that. So, tell me how you want me to present that to my faculty.”
I smiled. “Oh…well, we might have to look into that on a free day for both of us. What university do you go to?”
He cleared his throat as though he was about to present a speech. Well, he did it in style. “The University of Lagos.”
“Really?” I said, getting two glasses. “Do you care for some Juice?” I asked, getting the Juice from the Refrigerator. He nodded in the affirmative. “Here you go.”
He smiled. “Thank you. In that case, I would love to request for an interview with you, just to make my work more standard.” He took his seat. “So, what do you do?” he asked. “What University?”
“I am a graduate of Economics from UNILAG (short form for University of Lagos)”
He almost spilled his drink. “You are out of the University?” I nodded. “Unbelievable. You look so…young!”
“Well, I am young.” I replied.
He smiled. “And beautiful too.” I stared at him, and he grinned. “Okay, I think you are good for age, but why Economics?” he asked.
I shrugged. “It’s Profession, writing is Passion.” I lied. ‘Economics is profession, Writing is passion! ’ had become my favorite response when asked about my course preference. I couldn’t tell strangers about my parent’s influence. Only close friends knew. Henry took a deep breath and he dropped his empty glass on the kitchen table. “Want another?”
“Nah…I am just wowed by you.”
My phone rang again. Ben…again. I ignored it. The call came in for the second time… still I ignored it.
“Boyfriend? You aren’t gonna answer?” he asked.
I shook my head. “He’s not my boyfriend. He’s a friend, but I don’t want to talk to him.”
He nodded. “I wonder how I would feel if I got that treatment from my girlfriend” he caught my expression. “I mean, my friend.”
“Ben isn’t my boyfriend.” I retorted. “So, tell me Henry, how’s UNILAG these days?”
He smiled. “As good as ever, so how’s the job market?”
I cleared my throat. “There are really no jobs out there, anyway, when do you think we could meet?” I asked. Henry was getting too comfortable, I had to usher him out.
He took to his feet. “Probably next week, can I get your phone number?” he asked, bringing out his phone. I collected it and typed the number. “Thank you.” he said and walked out.
Marcus rubbed his hand on his forehead and slid into the backseat of Ini’s Murano car. “Done! Are you sure about this?” she had packed the car behind the agency.
She laughed out loud. “You just said done, it means that’s over. Where’s that cream anyway?” she asked, stretching out her hand. Marcus placed Shola’s cream on her hand. “She really does go for the best, this is French.”
Marcus jumped into the front seat. “Let’s get out of here.” He suggested.
She scoffed. “Don’t be a chicken, Marcus. Let’s wait till we hear a loud scream at least, then we are sure that Shola has killed her skin.”
He hissed and shot at her. “The only reason why I got as close at the bathroom without being noticed is because I had to dress like a cleaner,” he started, throwing his face cap at her. “What if we are caught? Look Ini, we can always hear about this on the news or through friends in the agency, but we can’t risk being found out. Just start the car.”
Ini hissed. “Marcus, there’s this satisfaction that I would get here and now if Shola Jones rubs that cream on her body now, hearing it later would be stale, let’s just be patient. She should be out of the bathroom by now.” She said, looking at her wristwatch.
Marcus kept looking out of the car. “Ini, this agency is full of security men, we would be finished if we are found out.”
Ini grew out of patience and yelled. “That’s it Marcus! It’s either you get out and run or you stay here and wait, but remember if you run, you are a suspect and I would deny you!”
He fidgeted and took his hand off the car lock. “How did I ever get stuck with you?” he said, silently.
She laughed and kissed his cheek. “Be a man, Marcus!”
“There’s no way we are going to hear Shola scream. The bathroom is not close to this place. We would find out eventually.
Ini slammed her hand on the steering and drove off.

[nextpage title=”Episode 3″]
“Ini would love to hear this news.” I said to Tola as we watched the news.
She nodded in agreement. “She has always hated Shola Jones.”
Shola Jones was shown being stretchered out of the National Modeling Agency with an Ambulance waiting. There was an oxygen mask attached to her nose.
“In the early hours of today, Top Nigerian Model,
Shola Jones suffered a horrible accident to her skin due to a cream. Dermatologists are yet to report the extent of its damage, but due to this, Arab Millionaires, Etilahad have called off their deal with her, reports suggests that, Ini Obong might just be awarded the deal. More reports to follow. I am Moji Ola, reporting for TMV worldwide”
The TV went off. Tola and I turned back. “What did you do that for?” we shouted. Ini must have walked in on the news.
“The news is over, isn’t it?” Ini asked, taking her seat. There was a wry smile lurking around her lip. “But I think her accident is exaggerated.” She said, placing the Remote controller beside her.
I nodded. “It’s true, because I wonder where they came about the oxygen and heavy security in taking her out of the Agency. But I am a bit concerned because Shola Jones was said to have been using that cream for ages, so it is a big deal now that it has resulted in adverse effect. The company is definitely going to be sued by her lawyers.”
Ini shrugged. “I could care less; all I need now is a phone call from Marcus to say that I have been selected. Who cares if she burns her head?” she added and returned to her room.
“Ini is so cold.” Tola said.
I nodded. “She’s always been like that. Me, Myself and I.” Tola sighed. “Anyway, how are things with you and Tolu?”
Her face fell. “He keeps asking for Money, Clothes. I don’t know what to do.”
“Tola, that guy is a jerk. He just wants what you have worked for all your life.”
She sighed. “He supported me back in UNILAG. He loves me, things would be better if he had some money.”
“YOU ARE A FOOL, TOLA!” Ini shouted from inside the house.
I stared at Tola. The lady was hopelessly in love with Tolu Scott. Sometimes, I wished I was in love too, but for me, I already had a man that I would marry, other times, I think she’s a slave to Tolu and he was taking advantage of the fact that she had a good job.
“You think I am a fool too, right?” she asked. I didn’t know what to say. “It’s okay. I think I am, but I’d rather be a fool for him.”
I sighed and hugged her. “You would be fine, Tola. I just wish he could show you some love.”
“He does show me love, he cares for me. It’s just the money and material stuffs.”
I rolled my eyes. She just lied to me. “He doesn’t love you and you know it.” I whispered.
She sobbed. “He would still love me. I love him so much.” I wiped her face with a tissue paper. “Would he still love me?”
I sighed. “I hope so.” I had to switch the topic. “How’s Wole Briggs?”
She hissed and sniffled. “Jerk! He keeps flashing his money in my face. He thinks money can buy love, no one loves him, they only love his pocket.”
I chuckled. “How ironic! That’s ‘rich’ coming from you.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
I raised my hands up with a smile. “Nothing.” She nudged me in the waist. “But seriously, is Wole Briggs that bad?”
She nodded. “He is that bad! He even rubs shoulders with Mr. Asolo and that one helps him to force me on a date.” She said, sounding indifferent.
She stared at me. “What do you know about being ‘romantic’? You are tied to a stranger that doesn’t even really know you.”
I snarled. “That’s my cross, I am carrying it willingly.”
She scoffed. “Don’t lie!” she replied. “You are so unhappy.”
I was raged. “You know if you can put in this effort into knowing if Tolu loves you, things would be better for you!” I shouted. Her face fell and she turned away. Oh…no, did I say something wrong? But, she just mocked me too…
“I am sorry, Tola. I didn’t mean it that way.”
We hugged ourselves. My phone rang again. BEN
“You have ignored Ben all day, what happened?” she asked, as she released me from the hug. I stared at my phone as the back light went off. “Pick it up.”
I shook my head. “Ben won’t help me at Millaroca because he thinks he can get fired, and also, he thinks that because my father is Prof. Bankole, I won’t have to suffer at all.” I started. Tola straightened up in her seat. “The truth is this, I know Ben also likes me, and even though I am ‘not allowed to love’, according to my parents, I don’t like him too much.”
“Really? I thought you liked him?” she asked.
I shook my head. “I have always seen him as a good man, but not the type that I could fall in love with.” I shrugged. “It’s not as if I have a preference, but you just know when something isn’t there, you know. I just don’t see anything more to him.”
“Wow! That’s deep then. For once I thought someone would be able to whisk you out of Prof. Bankole’s cage, turns out it won’t be Ben after all.”
I smiled. “Maybe someone else would come my way, and even if it doesn’t happen, I would try to make my marriage work, at least for the society’s sake.” I said, wiping a tear drop from my eyes. “My mom is holding up well, so that she’s constantly the
‘Mom of the Year’ and Dad too doesn’t lose the Award.”
Tola sighed. “I am so sorry; it must have been hard for you growing up.”
I shrugged. “It was full of demands; I had to meet up to standards and fight to surpass them.” Tola listened. “Do you know how my father chose David Coker for me? I had never really been able to tell anyone how.” Tola nodded and I started…
Prof. Bankole adjusted in his chair as Mr. Coker walked into the study. “Sorry for the wait, Tunji.” Mr. Coker said, apologetically. Tunji Bankole shrugged. “I had to give instructions to my son; he is accompanying my P.A to Istanbul to tie up a deal.”
“Your son? David is a kid.” He replied.
Bolu Coker scoffed. “David Coker is not a kid. He is my son, he has my blood and he operates like me. Moreover he is seventeen.”
“17? Come on…I won’t let my daughter out of my sight even when she’s 17.”
Bolu scoffed and called out. “David! David Coker!”
“Do you have to call him with your surname?”
He smiled. “It reminds him of duty.”
A Handsome young boy walked into the study. He was in a black suit and looked very firm. “Yes Father.” He saw Prof. Tunji and bowed courteously. “Good afternoon sir.”
“Do you remember my friend, Prof. Bankole?” Bolu asked his son. David nodded in the affirmative. “He has a daughter about your age.”
Prof. Bankole corrected. “No, Kimberly is just 12.”
“It’s a double digit range sir.” David said. “Although you are right, she’s still a kid, I am a teenager. I think I met her once or twice.”
Prof. Bankole smiled. He was impressed; he was impressed with David’s guts. “What school do you attend now? You should be through with high school.”
Bolu Coker took over. “It’s a school for business men, he had been taking the lessons for a while now, he would merge it with College in U.K after the Istanbul deal is over.” He turned towards his son. “Now, go on, you would delay the pilot.”
David nodded and turned towards Prof. Bankole. “It’s a pleasure seeing you again sir, my kind wishes to your wife and daughter.” He said and walked out.
Prof. Bankole was wowed. He clapped in excitement. “I love that boy! You have raised a fine man, Bolu.”
Bolu smiled. “Kimberly is a very bright girl. I think if she and David get married, they would make a fantastic couple!” he said, sipping his drink.
“Really? Is it possible? I mean how would we still merge children in this generation?”
Bolu smiled. “Look at David Coker, he is a fine young man, do you think I would allow him to end up with someone who hasn’t been raised with such class too?”
Prof. Bankole nodded in agreement. “So, how are you going to convince his mother about this?”
Bolu hissed. “That’s not a problem, she has never had a say, and she can’t have now.” Tunji blinked. “Are you scared of Wura?”
“Of course not, I just think we should seek their consents.”
Bolu had never been a man to take to advice. “Look here Tunji; we know what’s best for these children, these women only want what’s best, we know what’s best!”
Tola was raged. “That’s nonsense. You don’t just decide people’s future like that.” She blurted. I giggled. “It isn’t funny. You have to stand up to your dad.” She argued.
I stared at her as if she were talking in gibberish. “I have been Prof. Bankole’s daughter and I have learnt to live with it. David isn’t complaining, I see no reason why I should.” Tola stared at me. “I know it sounds insane, but I am comfortable with it. At least, my mom is okay.”
“Really?” she took to her feet. “Good night!” she said, and stormed in.
Marcus tried to avoid glances with the Representatives from Etilahad group. Ini grew uncomfortable. Marcus was almost very transparent. The representatives whispered to themselves. Ini clenched her fists in fear, Marcus would ruin everything.
“Marcus! You didn’t have to come here, if I knew your diarrhoea was this bad, I would have made you stay back!” she shouted.
The Chairman peered. “Excuse me?”
Ini sighed. “I am so sorry sir, My Manager here has very bad diarrhoea and he’s been uncomfortable since, I fear he might even do the business in his pants if he is not allowed out of here.” She lied.
The Chairman smiled. “I feared something was weird with him too. He has been acting strange ever since he got here, erm…it’s okay Marcus, we would take care of Ini, although it’s obvious she’s capable.”
Marcus nodded in fear and took to his feet. “I would be in the gents.” He said and hurried out.
Marcus shut the toilet door and flushed the empty W.C. He sighed and took a deep breath. “I should never have changed Shola’s cream; she’s in so much pain.” He thought. ‘What if I just go out there and tell the truth?’ he thought. ‘Ini would go to jail…I can’t let that happen.’
Marcus battled with his conscience and thoughts for minutes as he remained in the Toilet, Ini had saved them with a lie. Who knew how many more evils they would do?
Ini drummed on the toilet door. “Marcus!!!”
He opened it fearfully. “I am sorry, I was so nervous.”
She batted her eyelashes. “Done deal now, let’s get out!” she said, and pulled him out.
“Marcus! You are gonna have to man up. You are so full of fear.” She said, as she drove.
He stared at her. “Did you watch the news? She was taken out with oxygen mask.”
Ini laughed wickedly. “Marcus, did you believe any of those charades? It was put up so that she could gain some sympathy at the end of the day, look, it was just a cream change, she should consider this an ultra-toning aid.” She said, with a smile. “So, what would it be for you? Kentucky? TFC? We have to celebrate this deal.”
“I just want to go home.” He said, still very uncomfortable.
She hissed. “Not when you are with me, you sissy!”
Mr. Asolo cleared his throat. “From now on, you would personally handle Mr. Briggs interests in this Firm. Looks like he would be needing houses regularly”
“But Sir, I have so much work to do already. Why do I have to handle Mr. Briggs affairs too?”
He sighed. “Because you are the best for the job, you know, the Briggs family is very important to this city, and having their son put so much interest in our Firm means we can’t let go easily. And I have searched high and low and it is obvious that you are the only one who can help out.”
Tola took a deep breath. “Mr. Asolo, this is going to cause a huge distraction to my normal duty.”
“I have that all sorted out, you would have an assistant resuming tomorrow. She is very efficient, and you can be sure that your work won’t suffer.”
She nodded and rose to her feet. “Okay sir.” She said and walked out. Her phone rang immediately. TOLU “Hi, Tolu.”
“Tola, stop being irresponsible!” he barked. “Tomorrow is Val’s day, and I don’t have a new Red shirt. I thought you said you bought me that.”
She closed her office door. “If you weren’t so hasty last night, you would have heard me say that I didn’t get a red shirt and I got a pink instead.”
“PINK??? Do you think I am gay? I saw the stupid shirt, I burnt it already. I want a Red shirt.”
Tola slammed her table. “You burnt it? I bought that shirt for 12,000 Naira. Do you know how many people would kill to have a shirt worth that amount?”
He hissed. “How much is #12,000? If things weren’t horrible for me, would I need that miserly amount?” he shouted.
Tola sighed out of tiredness. “You want a red shirt, right?”
“Of course. I helped you when you were nothing, never forget that!” he said, and hung up.
Tola rubbed her forehead and dialed her secretary ordering her to get a Red Shirt.
Henry walked into his supervisor’s office. “Sir, I have the killer topic for my special project.” He announced.
“Henry, you have two weeks to submit and now you want to change your topic, I hope you know you are doomed to an extra year.”
Henry smiled. “Sir, I can assure you that with this, I would rock this campus. Everyone would want to read, they would want to listen and they would want to understand.”
Dr. Kalu nodded. “Henry, you make me laugh. Everyone is wrapping up their special projects and you are confident of bringing me a ‘killer project’.” He shook his head despicably. “Henry, I can’t stop you, it’s your vision.”
“Of course, you can’t stop me.”
He nodded. “But, I can tell you one thing for sure, I regret having you as a student. Forget about bringing whatever rubbish you have to me, go ahead with it.” He said and pointed at the door. “Leave, I am a busy man.”
Henry scoffed and walked out. He bumped into John. “Hey John…how far, how you dey?” They exchanged pleasantries in Pidgin English.
John smiled. “I dey… Just returning from my supervisor, he says he thinks my work is good, so it’s just a matter of me putting some finishing touches to it.”
“Good for you, man.”
John stared at Henry’s hand. “What’s that in your hand?”
“Oh…this is my project, I was trying to get an approval from Dr. Kalu to work, but he won’t even have a look.”
John stared at him. “Henry? Approval? Guy, Everyone is wrapping up already!”
“I know, but that topic he gave me before is so wacked and no one would be interested in applauding me for it.”
John shrugged. “So what? He is a Doctor; he has said you should do it, why would you think you know better?”
Henry smiled. “That’s the difference between you and I, I am not a Robot.” He said, and walked away.
Immediately Henry got home, he started to compile the write up from Kim’s Articles; he would do interviews after speaking with Kim Banks.
Wura Bankole sipped her juice. “Tunji, I think I am not too comfortable with this thing with David Coker. To be honest, he hasn’t spoken to our daughter in a while; she’s worth more than that.”
“That’s the problem Woman, you only think.” Tunji replied, laughing.
Her face fell. Her husband was right. “Tunji, you hardly let me have a say in this house especially when it deals with our daughter. It’s not fair.”
He smiled. “You don’t understand. I am securing Kim’s future, happily, she’s smart enough to recognize my intentions.”
“She doesn’t have a choice. The poor girl has always adored you, you making this decision for her is not right.”
Tunji stood up. “Where is all this coming from? Our daughter isn’t complaining, why are you?”
“I am her mother!” she shouted. “I know she’s unhappy.”
He nodded. “When you were married off to me, you were unhappy, but see, we are used to each other and moreover, as long as I can provide you with everything you want and need, you should be happy, and that includes Money, Cars, and Trips. What else could you want?”
“Tunji, this is the reason why I didn’t want another child with you after Kimberly, and I am glad we didn’t have another! A child should be born out of love.”
Tunji Bankole slammed his glass against the wall. “What else do you want from me, Wura? It’s not my fault that our parents wanted us together, but I have tried to be responsible.” He paused and scoffed. “So that’s why you never wanted another child.” She turned her face away. “How shameful.”
“It’s not my fault, Tunji. You have never made me happy, I have only been comfortable.”
He stared at her angrily. “What’s the difference? When you are comfortable, you are happy!” Wura burst into laughter almost falling off the chair. “What’s funny, Woman?”
“I can’t believe that you don’t know that there’s a difference in being happy and comfortable. Unfortunately, our daughter would suffer the same fate. She has been unhappy ever since she started to study Economics.”
He eyeballed her. “She’s a First Class.”
“Of course, Kim is just determined to succeed. That’s why she got a First Class.” She took to her feet. “If you keep pushing her, you would turn her into what you have made me, a woman without confidence.” She walked away.
Professor Bankole was left with his thoughts, but fury consumed most of it.
Tolu wiped some mayonnaise from his mouth. “So where are we going to tomorrow?” he asked. Tola dropped her Fork. “What?”
“Can I survive this dinner first? It’s not like you are paying for the outing.” She blurted furiously.
He stared at her. “How dare you?” he started as he pushed his chair back. “Are you trying to rub it in that I am without a job? I would have handled that.”
She sighed and grabbed her Jacket. “Tolu, I am not ready for this. We would go to Soul Lounge or Harbour’s point. You decide.” She said, picking her keys.
“Tola, this is not fair! You are treating me like your puppy and I can’t stand it.”
She nodded. “T OLU!!! Give me a break! You always want this or that! Do I need to kill myself for you to be happy?” “Kilode?” she stressed in Yoruba. (Kilode-What is it?)
Reverse Psychology needed. He turned away and faced the window. “I was there when you had no one, your uncles kicked you out, I took you in.” he said softly, taking his seat. “I am sorry.”
She shook her head and stormed out. She sat in the Range Rover and buried her head. Tolu really had been there when she had no one, but now, she really is unhappy. They used to be so happy when she had nothing. They would run across the streets for cheap meals and go to Local Pubs, but ever since she got that mouth-watering Job at Asolo Real Estate, Tolu changed. He wanted more.
The door bell chimed. Prof. Bankole was reluctant to get it. It was already 9pm. ‘You should stay in your house!’ he thought. The bell rang for a second time and then a third. He grunted and forced himself to the door. The security man would pay for allowing anyone in at this time, and of course the visitor would get his own share of the spoils. He pushed the door open and his jaw dropped slightly.
“Sorry I am here unannounced, Good evening Sir.”
He smiled as he admired David Coker’s dressing. “Good evening, Son. I didn’t know you were in town.” He said, stepping out of the way.
David was all suited up. The man just knows how to look good, apart from the obvious fact that he is good looking. He had the height, appearance, and carriage. Magazine Material! “I came in few hours ago. Father thought I should visit.”
“Ah…Bolu, he should have let you rest. How was your flight?” he asked. David motioned towards a chair. “Please sit.”
He adjusted his jacket. “It was okay. Is Kimberly in?” he asked.
Prof. Bankole blinked. How would he tell his in-law that his wife-to-be wasn’t in? “Erm…Kimberly is currently staying with her friends. Her work takes her away most times.”
“Really? What does she do?”
He poured himself a glass of wine. “She’s a writer.”
“Writer?” he probed with a form of slight grimace.
David Coker looked a bit disappointed and Prof. Bankole knew he had to up the rhythm. He sipped carefully. “She’s not really a writer, but she has this project for my Firm on Economics. She’s an Economist.” He said. David rose to his feet and adjusted his button. “She graduated with a First Class.” He cleared his throat. “There’s a lot going on these days in the business world.” David nodded.
David stared at Tunji Bankole carefully. “Please sir, do tell Kimberly that I would be going out with her tomorrow for the Valentine’s Day.” He said with a smile. “Do extend my kind greetings to your wife, would have loved to see her. Good night.” He said and walked out.

[nextpage title=”Episode 4″]
“Tolu is taking me to Soul Lounge.” Tola said, applying her lip stick.
Ini and I stared at her. Who was she trying to fool? Tolu would show up in a Red shirt, Grey Pants and Bollard Hat and dark sun shades that would have been purchased by our dear friend Tola. That guy is just a leech!
Tola sighed. “Okay…but you don’t expect me to say I am taking Tolu to Soul Lounge.” She said, grabbing her car keys. She turned towards Ini who was still snickering. “Why are you up early, Ini? It’s a miracle.” She was right, Ini never got up early. Ini smiled.
“I had to see your outfit for the Val’s day special. And of course, get to witness you talk about Tolu as if you were having a happy time.” Tola was looking hot in her Red velvet gown and black heels. The season was really something to savour for her. She ‘loved’ Tolu way too much. Or maybe ‘lust’, I mean the guy is a real hunk!
Tola scoffed. “At least, I have a boyfriend of my own.” She said, approaching the door. The Loser’s consolation!
“Of course, he is a boy! He still needs Tola…” Ini replied, sounding like a cartoon character. “Like a baby needs his mommyyyy…” she added with a great deal of sarcasm.
Ini and Tola were fond of taking swipes at each other, I couldn’t be bothered. They were the free women. I picked up my phone and sent a text to Ben. ‘See you later tonight!’
Their banter ended when Tola slammed the front door. “Why do you always have to be so mean, Ini?” I asked, turning to her.
She smiled and jumped at the Remote Control for the TV. “Fashion TV first!”
“Ini, why would you just switch the topic?”
She grinned. “It’s not as if we had a discussion going.” She said, sticking her tongue out. I smiled. “Okay love, what are you wearing tonight? I saw your fingers typing to Ben.”
I giggled. “I haven’t even thought about that. But I would find something as soon as I look, I am certain.” Clothes had never been a problem for me, the problem was wearing them often. I had nowhere to go!
“I want to help you with the make-up. You have to look awesome.”
Owl-some or Awesome, Ini won’t be tinting my face! At least not tonight, I have always cherished simplicity and thanks to that it has kept me level-headed, I won’t have had a problem with Ini’s make over, but she really could over do it. “I would be fine. You don’t have to.” I said, refusing her offer.
She snarled. “I insist. I promise to be back from the agency much earlier today because of you. What time would Ben be here for you?”
I shrugged. “Probably 8pm”
“Fantastic! We would have a Diva made by Iniready for him.” She yawned. “You see, I have to return to my rightful place-the bedroom.” She said, and walked in.
I laughed at her as she went after her beauty sleep. I reached for my laptop and continued my project. I was bent on showing Ben that my new write-up on ‘ Dear Future Husband’ would fetch Millaroca a wide audience. The story was targeted at the Nigerian Woman with many dreams and wishes in a man, of course, everyone wants the Prince Charming not the Toad, even the fairy tales taught us well. I had started writing on it. The story featured Single women and their needs and wants from men, especially the man to make a perfect husband.
Tola stared at her phone anxiously. She was expecting at least a ‘love message’ from him, after all, its Val’s day! ‘Please Tolu…’ she murmured.
Tolu and Tola really used to be darlings of the institution back then; most people even tipped them to get married. Tolu was selfless then, but now he had grown to be selfish. It was all about him these days and it really broke her heart.
She relaxed in the swivel and got back to work. At least someone had to provide for their relationship. All bills was on Tola for their dinner at Soul Lounge, a number of her friends from the Real Estate Business and Popular Clubs would be hanging out there tonight and Tolu too did say that some of his ‘boys’ would be at Soul Lounge with their babes.
The best part of Val’s day at Soul Lounge is the Paparazzi and Red Carpet; the press would be there in their numbers to tell the society about ‘who loves who’.
Tolu Scott is a real hunk! He had the body that any lady would die for; he has the looks, height and charms too. Ini even tried hooking him up into the Modeling agency, but Tola kicked against it then. She attacked Ini for trying to steal her man, who would blame her? Ini hung around with the best guys. At times Tola felt that Tolu still resented her for not allowing him get into the Agency because he would bring it up when they argued, but Tola did her best to make sure he never lacked anything. For his last birthday, she bought him a Mercedes E-class, yet he would still ask for money to fuel the car. She really was a slave to this love.
There was a light knock on the door. A large bouquet of Red Roses covered Kemi’s face as she walked in. “Good morning ma’am.” She greeted dropping the flower delicately on the table.
Tola smiled. ‘Tolu’ she thought with a smile. At least, he still had it in him. “Good morning, Kemi.” She greeted back and reached for the card on the Flowers.
First things first!
“There’s a parcel too.” She said, stretching out a gift parcel to Tola. Tola dropped the card and collected it. Kemi turned out briskly.
Tola smiled at the parcel and opened it carefully. “Wow…this is beautiful.” She said, taking out the gold necklace. “This is so beautiful.” She admired the necklace and then reached for the card she had abandoned.
‘I might be stupid, but I won’t forget to tell a beautiful woman that deserves love a happy valentine’s day, Love from Wole Briggs.’
She sighed as she dropped the card. “Silly me, here I was thinking Tolu had sent it.” She carefully packed the necklace and dialed Kemi. “Please come in.”
“Yes ma’am.” Kemi said, as she walked in. Kemi could guess why she was being called.
Tola stared at the flowers. “Have you gotten any flowers this morning?” she asked. Kemi smiled. “Come on, don’t be shy.”
She shook her head in disagreement. “Not yet, but even if I get a branch out of love, I won’t dispose of it.” Tola’s face fell. She had a bouquet, but Kemi would be willing to take a branch from someone who loved her. “I have a man who loves me, he is a cab driver.” She started. Tola stared at her probingly. “I don’t like him much, but he loves me. That’s a part of his heart, I can’t take it away from him, even if he gives me a branch of tulip, I would receive it with so much love because I know it’s from his heart.”
OKAY! Tola had had enough! “You talk too much for a secretary.” Tola replied. Kemi’s words hit her. Kemi smiled. “It’s okay, Please take these flowers down to the reception. Our clients would love to see a large bouquet like this. Money wasted!” she said, tearing the card and dumping it in the thrash. “And when you are done, please send a messenger here to return this to the address where it came from.” She said, staring at the parcel.
Kemi nodded and walked out carrying the Bouquet.
David rolled over on his bed as the ray of sunlight came into his eyes. He slept without his shirt and that’s a beauty to behold for Oyinkan. “How many times have I told you to sleep with your shirt?” she asked, throwing a pillow in his face.
“Is it my fault that I am too hot?” he asked, pulling her on the bed. He stared at her eyes. “Good morning.” He said and kissed her forehead.
She smiled. “Keep flirting with me like that and I would forget that you are my cousin.” She replied, as she bit her lips.
He shook his head and shoved her away kindly. “You are really something, Oyinkan. When would you stop turning on men?”
“When I finally get married! I wish I was as lucky as you are, at least, you have a readymade bride. A good one at that!” She said, standing up from the bed. He smiled and wore a shirt. “Do I really turn you on, Cousin?” she asked, opening his diary.
David rushed at her and snatched it. “Don’t touch!” he snapped. “You couldn’t even turn me on when naked.” He replied and winked at her. “How’s that boyfriend of yours?” he asked, going into the bathroom.
“Remi is good. I am spending the night at his place.” She replied.
David came out with his toothbrush. “Really? Every time you spend the night in a guy’s place, you break up the next day. You are no longer a kid, Oyinkan. We are in Nigeria now; there are traditions you have to take it easy here.”
She smiled. “What’s the difference? Men would always be Men! You are really protective, big cousin. I like that.” She said, smiling. “But really, Remi and I won’t last. We met on the plane, remember? And we would definitely have sex tonight and then it’s over.” She shrugged.
He scoffed. “Not all men are pigs. I don’t think he would just sleep with you without knowing you well.”
She hissed. “Who cares about Jack? Not all men are like you, my decent cousin.” She smiled. “I can promise you that it would happen tonight.”
David shook his head. “You can’t continue acting like this, Oyinkan. You have got to respect yourself a little more.”
She shrugged and lit her cigarette. “Respect is for love. Love doesn’t exist.”
“Just because Derek broke your heart doesn’t mean you have to go from good to bad, you are more than that.” He said, taking the Cigarette from her mouth. “No smoking in my room.”
She groaned. “You are too Prim and Proper, David. When would you stop this?” she punched the bed.
David finished brushing his teeth and sat beside her. “Can you give room for love again? I miss the old you.”
She eyeballed him coldly. “All men are the same.”
“Including me?” he asked, with an eyebrow raised.
She smiled. “You are the only different one.” He hugged him. “Maybe if you could love me, I would try to love again, but I know you can’t and I don’t think I want to be beside you as your woman, you are too cautious. Kimberly is just your fit.”
David rubbed his chin. “Can we make a deal, Oyinkan? I want you to try to see Remi differently. Forget about having sex with him.”
She laughed. “Impossible, David! This is the deal, if after everything I do sleep with him, he resists me, I would try to love.”
“Oh…well, that’s quite unfair.” He said, stroking her hair. “You really are gorgeous; it’s hard for a man to resist you.”
She stared at him. “How do you do it?”
He shrugged. “You know why.”
“Love is not enough. Derek swore that he loved me, yet he slept with my sister.”
David sighed. “Let’s forget about that loser and focus on Remi, I hope he wins.”
“For your sake and the few decent men out there, I hope so too.”
He nodded and carefully put away his Diary. “So, Happy Val’s day.” He said, bringing out a bracelet from the drawer. Oyinkan smiled sheepishly as he put it round her wrist. “It’s a friendship bracelet.” He said, with a smile.
Oyinkan admired the bracelet. “David, are you really comfortable with this? I mean the wedding and all.”
“Just as you said, Kimberly is a decent lady, and our parents are comfortable, so I just have to marry her.” He replied, grabbing a towel. “I am spending this evening with her, I haven’t seen her in almost eight years and we barely talk on phone, I guess we have some bonding to do, for the sake of our family businesses.”
She smiled. “Try to know her, okay? I have to eat. I think breakfast is set.” She said and approached the door. “See you tomorrow morning; we have a deal, remember?”
“Of course, be good.” He said, and closed the door gently after her.
Ben straightened his Blazer. “What do you think, Boye?” he asked.
Boye stared at it. Boye is Ben’s best friend. They live together. He nodded. “I think Kimberly would love it, but Dude, are you sure about that place you want to take her?”
“Of course, it’s going to be a surprise for her. She would never expect it.”
Boye took his seat. “Look Ben, I am not saying that taking her to a classy restaurant isn’t good, I am only concerned about what you are going to spend.” He started. “You have a humble salary, Kim would understand.”
Ben smiled. “Boye, when you fall in love, you would understand.” Boye shrugged. “How’s that babe?”
“Which one?” Boye asked, looking confused. He had been with many ladies of recent. “Bola or Keji?”
Ben laughed. “Do you even know the last girl you slept with?”
Boye smiled. “Maybe Keji, but I am not too sure. She has even been sending me messages since morning.” He said, taking out his phone. “Ladies…”
“How do you intend to spend tonight?” Ben asked, taking his seat. He fetched his phone from his jacket. “You know, it was Kimberly who even sent me a text this morning, I think she likes me.” he said, with a smile.
Boye shrugged. “I hope so. And I hope you are not seeing Kim as your lottery ticket to meet the famous Professor Bankole.”
“No! I love her. Although, it would bring some of my dreams to pass, it’s love first.”
Boye nodded. “I hope so.” He grinned as though he was about to say something annoying. “I hope Prof. Bankole likes you, I mean, you live in a humble flat, nothing like the place Kimberly stays with her friends. How much more his home? He giggled.
Ben wore a grimace. “Very funny Boye, my apartment is not that bad. We even sleep in separate rooms, and when Kim and I get married, I would provide her something better.”
“From which salary? Is it the one that Mr. Adeoye pays us? It’s not even enough to pay the full year rent.”
“It’s because Millaroca is really slumping.”
Boye scoffed. “Why won’t it? The man is so traditional; he won’t even look at our ideas. By the end of the month, I would start looking for another job bro, and I suggest you do the same.”
“Mr. Adeoye has been good to us.” Ben replied, quietly.
Boye rolled his eyes. “Yes, I know. But even though Millaroca is going down, that man has just bought that ‘Evil spirit’ ride, he has kids who are well to do and can take care of him, but you and I, what do we have? We live in a Flat bro, you still use the same Camry, that car is already taking a bow, you know.”
“Boye, we have to start from somewhere, anyway, my desk is full. I think you should go and tidy yours too.”
Boye smiled. “Of course, the truth always gets you like this.” He said, standing up. “Don’t spend all your savings tonight, save some for the wedding.” He said, and walked out.
Marcus sighed as he paced around in the waiting room.
“Keep pacing like that and you would have everyone believe you are a murderer.”
He stood and faced Ini. “We are going to jail when we are found out.”
She sighed. “Where did I ever find a weakling like you for a manager?”
A Doctor came out. “You can go in now. You just have ten minutes.” He said.
“Is this a Prison?” Marcus murmured.
The Doctor stared at him. “Did you say something?”
She shrugged. “Of course not.” She replied and pushed Marcus in.
Shola Jones sprang as soon as she saw Ini. “What do you want?” she asked.
Ini rolled her eyes and dropped a bouquet of flower near her. “Happy Valentine!” she said with a fake smile.
“I know you wished this was my funeral. I am not dead yet.”
Marcus waved.
“I see you brought your puppet along.” She said, looking at him. “You didn’t come here just to give me roses, did you?”
Ini scoffed. “Of course not, it’s only important that we share this moment together.” She fetched a box of chocolates. “We should take pictures as we eat this.” She said, giving her I-Pad to Marcus.
“Are you foolish, Ini?” She asked. “Or you do you think I am foolish?” she added. Ini smiled. “Ah…I get your plan, you would take a picture of us sharing chocolates and send it to Instagram and Twitter and then you would look like the Perfect Model and Role-Model.”
Marcus interrupted. “Why are you misjudging Ini’s good intentions?”
“He speaks! The Puppet speaks! Marcus, you are not invited to this conversation, and thanks for the visit, leave now you both.” She ordered.
Ini rose to her feet. “Humans are of insatiable wants.” She murmured.
“Really? Look here Ini, I would be fine soon, and I would find out however my cream was tampered with, and trust me, I would be back for THE PERSON OR PEOPLE.” Marcus blinked.
Ini scoffed. “You are fine. There’s nothing wrong with you, all those charade with the oxygen mask was to earn some sympathy from the society. You should log in to your twitter account; your followers have skyrocketed in the last hours.” Ini tinkered with her hair. “I think you have around 600,000 now. That’s impressive.”
Shola smiled. “It’s because I am beautiful.” Ini yawned. “Even on a stretcher.” She added with a smile. “Now leave!” she said, sternly.
Ini snapped at Marcus who took a snapshot of Shola Jones and walked out after Ini.
My phone rung tirelessly. ‘Can’t some callers be patient?’ I thought. I hummed to Anne Boskovich’s Everything is Beautiful , It had become my favorite. I turned off the shower. It is my 2 time of having a shower. Ini said I had to look extremely fresh for Ben. Probably it was Ben calling, I was expecting his call. He hadn’t called since I sent him a text in the morning.
Oh…well, all my Missed Calls were from Professor Bankole. What did Dad want? Was he calling to say a happy valentine to me? That would be special…
“I suppose you keep your phone miles away.” Dad yelled into the receiver.
He almost made me regret calling back. “I am sorry, Father. I was in the shower.” I replied, using my right hand to ruffle my hair with the towel. I got a broadcast on my BB where I was told to use my left hand to pick calls. I haven’t confirmed that yet, though.
“Whatever. I want you to get ready for 7:30pm; David Coker would be coming to pick you for dinner.” He said.
DAVID COKER!!! “David what?” Did I hear this man right? After how many years and he chooses to show up on Valentine’s Day! The man sure knows how to pick his moments!
“You heard me! Your fiancé would be coming to pick you by 7:30pm; I already gave him the address.”
David Coker? I hadn’t seen him in person for many years. We only talked on phone and it was really brief. How could he show up today of all days? “Dad, it won’t be possible, I have plans for tonight.”
Dad hissed loudly. “Then cancel it! Your fiancé comes first! He would be there and that’s that.” He roared and hung up.
I sank into my bed. This isn’t happening…David Coker? I dialed Ben immediately… ‘The Number you have dialed is currently switched off, Please try again later… ’ came the response from the Network.
I stared at the wall clock “6:30PM!” I dried my hair and had a quick change of cloth into something really light.
The door bell chimed almost immediately. “No way!” I shouted. Dad had said 6:30pm! I rushed to the door, took a deep breath and opened the door with my best smile. “Hello.”
Ini frowned. “Why are you so excited?” she asked. Oh…well, at least, my own House of Tara had arrived! I sighed and stepped out of the way. “Come back here Princess, were you expecting Ben?” she asked, laughing.
I sank into the chair. “I am expecting David Coker.”
“David what?” she asked, joining me on the chair. “What about Ben?”
I sighed. “Dad just called to tell me that David would be here to pick me up by 7:30pm and Ben hasn’t replied my message since morning.”
She stared at the wall clock. “It’s almost 7.” She sighed. “What are you going to do?”
I shrugged. “I have to go. I am engaged to David, remember?”
She nodded in agreement. “In that case, let’s get you ready.” She said and pulled me inside.
“Ta-da!!!” Ini said turning the chair towards the mirror. “Wow! I should be a makeup artist.” She said, reveling in herself.
I smiled. “You are already a model.” She brushed my hair back. “Thank you, Ini.”
“It’s nothing. Now stand and let’s behold her royal beauty.”
I blushed as Ini walked around me. “You are hot! Why do you hide all these curves in those stupid denims and Polo of yours?” I smiled. “It’s okay. I think your chariot would soon be here, it’s almost 7:30pm, and if he is as principled as your Dad says, he should be here exactly in 5 minutes.”
I smiled. “What about traffic? This is Lagos, remember?”
She scoffed. “Most couples would be at the Cinemas or stuck in Kentucky or somewhere special. The roads won’t be busy.”
“I have to go and call Ben.” I said, and approached the door.
She smiled. “I would find you a clutch.”
I smiled back and walked out in my black gown and Red heels. “Please pick up Ben…” I said and dialed again. ‘No Answer’ gladly he had turned on his phone, but he wasn’t picking up. I dialed again. I then sent a text. ‘I won’t be able to make it Ben, something came up.’ The door bell chimed. ‘7:30PM’
I took a deep breath and opened the door. “Good evening.” I said, with a smile. Okay…truth be told, David Coker is really handsome! Tall, Athletic and Good looking. David Coker smiled faintly. He stared at me almost provocatively. I tried avoiding his glare. He cleared his throat. “Please come in.” I said, and stepped out of the way.
He walked into the apartment. I placed my phone on the side table as I took my seat. “Kimberly?”
“David Coker.” He said, stretching out his hand. I took it confidently. “There’s going to be a lot of traffic, we had better head out now.” He said.
Ini jumped out. “Omg! David Coker, nice to meet you.” she said, taking his hand. She was smiling and almost laughing too. It felt weird. “I am Ini, Kimberly’s friend. She’s said so much about you.”
WHAT??? Ini didn’t just do that! David smiled at her. “Funny, but nice to meet you, Ini.” He turned towards me. “Shall we?”
“Of course” Ini said, flying towards the door and opening it. She was almost pushing us out. “You guys look good together.” She placed the clutch in my hand. “Take care honeys.” She said, closing the door after us.
Kimberly Bankole had dropped her phone on the side table, Oops!
Ben fumed as he called Kimberly’s Phone for the umpteenth time. “She’s still not picking the call.”
Boye sighed. “Man, I think you chose the wrong place. It’s very expensive here at Golden gate, too classy.” He said, looking around. He watched the Lagos ‘big boys’ stroll in with their hot chicks. By Big boys, these were men who called the shots with their pockets, men like Wole Briggs. “Guy, this place dey off our league o…shey we never over do am?” he asked in Pidgin English.
Ben hissed. His pessimist of a friend was going to jinx the mood. “Boye, I told you not to bother coming. Go and meet one of your girls, she would soon pick the phone, it’s already past 8.” His phone buzzed and Kim’s text came in. “Oh no!” he said and dropped the phone on the table.
Boye stared at him. “What is it, Man?”
Ben’s face fell. “Kimberly won’t be able to make it, she said something came up.” He said, clenching his fists.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself. There would be other occasions, and it’s not like Valentine’s Day is the only day you can show love. I guess I have to call Keji now, she’s the only one that cares so much.”
Ben sighed. “That’s because you ‘do’ it well with her, anyway, I just thought it would be special with Kimberly.” Boye smiled. “What’s funny?”
“I am smiling, not laughing. Anyway, let’s get out here man.” He said, looking around. “It’s not like we fit this place.”
Ben nodded and adjusted his blazer. He rose to his feet and Boye quickly sat him down. “Duck Man, I can see Kimberly.” He alerted. Ben slid down his chair slightly. They watched Kimberly and David Coker take a seat. “That’s your Kimberly, man.” Boye said, with a sly grin.
It echoed in Ben’s head as he stared at Kimberly and David afar off.
David stared at me. “You are beautiful, Kimberly.”
Sigh…I thought he would never comment. What a Fiancé!
“Thank you. You are not bad either.”
He scoffed. “I have always been good looking.” He replied. I smiled. He didn’t lie about that. I met him on few occasions when growing up, and he had always looked attractive. The waiter joined us and placed Menu Books before us. “I would have this.” He said, and handed his booklet to the waiter.
“Looking good.” The Waiter said smiling at me.
I smiled back and handed him my booklet. “Thank you.”
David scoffed as soon as the waiter left. “That’s a nice compliment; I didn’t know it was part of customer service.”
I laughed. “How’s business?”
He shrugged. “Business is business. Nothing different from the norm, it’s ruthless and brutal. I have a major take-over next month.”
And the terms poured in…what did I care about business? Sooner or later, I had to get used to it, it is what my future husband was going to be doing.
“How’s your writing going?” he asked.
Did David just ask about my writing?
I stared at him. “Writing?”
He nodded and sipped his wine. “Yes…your father said you are a writer.” WRITER??? DAD WOULD NEVER BE PROUD OF SAYING THAT. “He said you had a writing job for his Firm.” I rolled my eyes.
Of course…Dad would pretend. He had David thinking I was in his firm, how untrue!
“Happy Valentine’s day, Kimberly.”
I turned round to see Ben.

[nextpage title=”Episode 5″]
I adjusted in my chair as I stared at Ben. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Ben.”
He smiled. “I saved enough money to bring you here, why him?” he asked, staring at David. David sighed and sipped his drink. His legs were crossed carefully and he appeared indifferent.
“Ben, it’s not what you think. Things are a lot more different than it seems and I can explain if you give me the chance.”
He nodded. “Of course, you can explain. But you never did. You had all the time in the world, I called you endlessly this evening, you didn’t have the decency to pick my call and out of the blues, you send me a text that something came up.” He was now raising his voice. “Is this what you are busy with?” he asked, eyeballing David.
I touched my clutch and searched for my phone.
Oh no! I had dropped it at home while collecting the clutch from Ini. My heart skipped a beat as David rose to his feet. He adjusted his jacket and took a deep breath. “Good evening.” He said, stretching out his hand. Weird man!
Ben stared at him from head to toe. “Are you trying to throw your $5,000 suit in my face?” he asked, looking at him. David stared at his jacket and smiled. “You think it’s funny, right?”
I stood up. “Benjamin! What’s all these for?” I queried. I didn’t know what to do at that time, like it or not, David is my to-be husband.
He shot at me. “What does it look like? You stood me up just because you felt I couldn’t bring you to this kind of place, right?” I hissed. “Go on…I might be nobody today, but I know how to spend all I have on someone I love.” He yelled.
“Just hold it right there, Ben! You are embarrassing me!” I stifled through my teeth. Heads were beginning to turn and the murmurings began.
What a nice way to ruin to the
He nodded. “Of course! I am not meant to be in this kind of place, I am not from the top families, I am…”
“Just shut up! You are so pathetic.” I yelled.
Boye joined us. “Cool it, Ben, let’s get out of here.” Boye said, holding his hand.
“No, you were right, Boye. Stupid me! Here I am with all I have to show my love and it’s been spurned in my face, just because I am not a rich kid.” He said pointing at David. David smiled. “Just look at that! Very arrogant bastard.” He said and threw a punch at David.
David dodged it and hit him in the face. Ben crashed into the table breaking it in the process. Boye rushed to him and I did too. I never thought that David could hit anyone, he looked so… “Ben, are you alright?” I said, looking at his face. From his face, it was obvious that he was dazed from David’s hit.
Security Men rushed in and tried to pick Ben up.
“Is there a problem?” one of them asked, facing David.
“This nuisance here disrupted my dinner with my fiancée.” David replied.
Ben stared at him as Boye helped him up. “Fiancée?” he turned towards me. “Y…You never told me.” he struggled to say. I bowed my head; it wasn’t something I was proud of.
David took my hand. “We are leaving” he said, pulling me along. He then paused and looked at Ben. “By the way, the suit is $7,000.” He said, and walked out dragging me along.
“Stop this! Show me some respect!” I shouted as we stepped out of the Restaurant.
He laughed scornfully. “Really? I think you are the one who has to show me some respect. Your boyfriend tried to hit me.”
“Ben is not my boyfriend.”
He nodded. “It didn’t seem so to me. You should try to define your friendship, Kimberly Bankole.” He said, walking away.
“David Coker! You don’t know a thing about me!” I replied hurrying after him.
He turned back. “Fill me in. You appear to me like some woman who can’t wait to be with any man because her fiancé is temporarily unavailable.”
I was stunned! I am still a virgin because of this man! (PLEASE: Tell no one!) “Temporarily unavailable? You are unbelievable, David Coker. I have been faithful to you ever since our parents hooked us.” I yelled. Some people walking into the restaurant stopped to look at us. “What are you looking at?” I shouted. Those who had stopped to watch quickly walked ahead.
He smiled and grabbed my hand. “The next time you forget that you are Kimberly Bankole, remember that I am David Coker and I have a family name to protect. Now get into the car and stop embarrassing our families.” He said and pushed me in.
He didn’t say a word as he drove into the night. The gossip channel in Nigeria would already have information on David and I yelling outside the famous Golden Gate Restaurant, and I could bet that Dad would blame me for it. He won’t see anything wrong with his precious son-in-law to be.
Tola sighed as she watched Tolu dance with the 3 girl. He didn’t even ask her for a dance, and when she was ‘stupid’ enough to get on the dance floor with him, he switched dance partners almost immediately. She poured herself another shot of whisky.
“You have had enough.”
Her cup was seized as she tried to drink. She turned to see Wole Briggs. “You again?”
He nodded. “Yes, it’s me again.”
“Do you keep tabs on me? Or is this a coincidence?” she asked, feeling tipsy.
Wole adjusted his chair and faced her. “I am Wole Briggs, remember?”
She smiled. “And still as arrogant as ever”
He shrugged. “So what are you doing here all by yourself?” he asked, sipping her drink. She didn’t respond. Seeing that she wasn’t in the mood to say anything, he continued. “Or, who are you here with?”
She turned sharply. “Mr. Briggs! Why are you here?”
“I came to hang out with some friends, and then I spotted you afar off, I thought I should say hi.”
She nodded. “There you have it, Hi-Hello.” She said hastily and turned in Tolu’s direction, he was still on the dance floor. His new dance partner wore a polka dotted pink gown, she sighed. The last lady was wearing a red gown. Tolu went on and on having fun, while she grew morose.
“Do you want to dance?” Wole asked.
She hissed and tried to lift the bottle to her mouth. Wole seized the bottle this time. “What is it, Wole Briggs? Are you too stupid that you don’t know when to stop?”
He smiled. “I just thought you could use some company. I don’t think your boyfriend loves you.” he said, looking ahead.
“What do you know about me?” she said, and fetched her phone from her purse. “You know nothing, absolutely nothing!”
He shrugged. “Not much, but enough to know that you need to go home and take a shower and sleep. Val’s day has not been a good one for you.”
“Really?” she laughed, mockingly. “How has it been for you?”
He smiled. “I am here with friends; everyone is having a good time.”
“Except you!” she interrupted, quickly.
He smiled. “Why?”
She nodded and tried to keep her eyes open. “It is because you are here with me. If you were with your friends right now, you may be happy, but right now, you are having a bad time.”
“You are right. Why don’t we make it a good time for both of us then? We could take a walk.”
She nodded and tried to stand up. “I usually don’t drink much.” She said. She struggled to gain balance on her heels. She then puked accidentally and crashed into Wole. She felt embarrassed. The Alcohol had too much weight on her, normally; she won’t do that in the public. “I am sorry.” She struggled to say, avoiding his stare. She had stained his shirt.
Wole helped her to a seat. “It’s okay.” He took out his handkerchief and wiped her face gently, he lifted her chin to his face. “You need to rest. Let me take you home.”
“Hey fast guy! What are you doing with my woman?” Tolu said, placing his Hat on the table, he rolled his sleeves quickly.
Tola’s view was hazy. “He was only helping me out.”
“Really? You were all over him.” He replied, angrily.
Wole stepped in. “Chill man, she is slightly drunk. She needs to go home.”
Tolu clenched his fists. “I didn’t ask for your explanation, punk!”
Wole nodded and stepped back. “Take ‘your woman’ home.”
“Of course!” Tolu bent over to pick Tola up. This time she burped slightly and he dropped her carelessly. “My Pant!”
Wole pushed him away roughly and helped her up. She groaned in pain. “Are you alright?” he asked, trying to help her to a seat. He turned at Tolu. “You Pig! That’s no way to treat a woman!”
Tolu manned up. “Who are you to tell me how to treat a woman? My Woman!”
“She didn’t do that on purpose.”
Tolu nodded. “Listen Man, this is none of your business, just stay away.” He dragged Tola’s hand up. “Let’s get out of here!” he shouted.
David Coker stretched a cup of Ice cream at me. I turned away. “Don’t ruin this day for yourself. Very soon, all the gossip channels would be talking about the incident at Golden gate, don’t make it worse. Just have something for your belly.”
I scoffed. “So, taking the ice-cream would reduce the weight of how bad I feel right now?”
He nodded with a smile. “It promises to reduce it.” He replied, leaning against the Car. “Since we are going to be getting married, I feel we should try to be friends, to a good level.”
“Marriage?” I scoffed. “You are a wild thinker, David.”
He hissed dryly. “Look here Kimberly, you are yet to know how this operates, right? Wait till our wedding day.” He said, and brought out an envelope from the car. He stretched it at me. “Take.”
“What is this?” I asked, looking at the envelope.
He thrusted it into my hand. “Just see for yourself.”
I opened it and brought out some Invitation Cards. “What is this, David?”
“Samples of our Invitation Cards, there are about five of them. Make your pick and we would set a date.”
I laughed mockingly. “I am not your acquisition, David. You can’t make these choices without me.”
He nodded. “Of course not, that’s why I am showing you the cards, just pick one.”
“It doesn’t work this way, Mr. Coker.”
He smiled. “However you think it works is your business, I have my methods and I would go by them too.” he stretched the Ice-cream at me again. “It’s melting…”
“No, thanks!” I replied.
He shrugged and dumped it into the Bin. “We would leave when you wish.” He said, and returned into the car.
I joined him in the car almost immediately. “Now that you have succeeded in ruining my evening, David Coker, Tell me why you came back.”
He turned off the engine. “Okay, we could sit here and talk. Erm…There’s a major take over for our family next month and I have to be here.”
“Take over? I don’t follow…could you enlighten me?”
He nodded. “Of course…there are some settlements that we want to buy and turn into a new franchise, possibly we would look for semi-remote environments.”
“Kicking people into the streets?”
He frowned. “No! Most of them are illegal anyways, it’s not their place…so we are just taking back what is a mess and re-defining it.”
“You are kicking people into the streets. You are making people homeless.”
He scoffed. “Why are you making it sound so bad? It’s not like your family is not into it.”
I shook my head in disagreement. “My father is an Economist.” I corrected.
He laughed mockingly as though he knew more. “Really? You know so little about your family business, it’s a shame you are the only child of Prof. Bankole. You have to inherit what you have no idea about.”
I was confused. “What are you saying, David?”
“Your Dad is a major stake holder in our business, he’s been into this for almost ten years now, how are you not aware of it?”
I sighed. “I was never told.”
He hissed dryly. “You never asked. How is it that you think an Economist like your Dad would be able to call the shots if he didn’t have a backup plan?”
I ignored him.
“Look Kim, you better get used to it. We don’t kick people out of their homes into the streets. We redefine these messed up environments and make them worthy of admiration.”
David smiled and started the engine. “It’s getting late, should I drop you at your father’s?”
“No. I have my own apartment.” I bragged in my heart. At least, my savings was good for something. I could boast of a place to rest my head outside Prof. Bankole’s house. Even if I had to share…with Tola and Ini.
Marcus turned off the gas. “Food is ready.” He announced. Ini strode into the kitchen. “I hope you like it.”
She stared at the pot and hissed. “Really, Marcus? Rice! My mates are busy having fun on the island or anywhere away from home and I am here confined to Rice. Thank you, I am so touched.”
“There’s plantain too.” He said, showing her the pan. He fetched two plates. “It isn’t my fault that you have no date tonight, you might as well enjoy being stuck with me.”
Ini smiled and poured herself a drink. “If only I had accepted to date that guy from Johannesburg in the agency.” She lamented shaking her head. “The new photographer.”
“Michael? He’s only about a week old in the agency. Has he already made a pass on you?”
She gave a sensual smile. “Why won’t he?”
“I am a lucky man!” he replied, dropping the plates on the dining table. “I am able to hang around you without charge.” He said, laughing.
Ini frowned. “You were never funny during high school and you still are lacking now.” She said and served herself. “I don’t like this chicken, Marcus.” She said, picking a chicken and raising it to his face with an ugly grimace.
He hissed. “I had to do the cooking all alone!” he grumbled. Ini stared at him, and his face fell. “Really Ini, I tried. At least I am showing you some love, no one is doing that today.”
“I turned down the opportunity of being in a classy restaurant. For what?” she said, looking at the Rice, Plantain and Chicken. “Marcus, this is why you are still single.” He swallowed and blinked carefully. “What? Am I wrong? Little wonder Chioma left you.”
He dropped his fork. “Chioma wanted more than I could give her and you know it.”
Ini scoffed. “I was just kidding, let’s eat.” He packed his plate. “Really Marcus? Don’t get angry at this rude girl, you know I am teasing.”
“I understand. I have to be somewhere.”
Ini dropped her fork. “Marcus! I am sorry…really…I know you don’t like to hear about Chioma but I was just teasing you.” He nodded and turned into the kitchen. Ini chased after
him. “Marcus, I am really sorry.” She sighed. “But, why do you get upset whenever we talk about Chioma?”
“Chioma is my past living in my present.”
Ini nodded with sarcasm. “Whatever that is, Marcus, but I think you should let her go.”
“I can’t. She’s already forced herself into my life.” He took a deep breath. “I have to leave now, Ini.” He said, approaching the door. “Have a good evening. See you at the photo shoot tomorrow.”
“At least, let me drop you off.”
He smiled. “You really want to know my place by all means, I won’t let you.” he said, and walked out.
Ini returned to the dining table and dug her fork into the Rice. “He really does cook well.” She murmured and ate on. The door bell chimed and a wry smile lurked around her lips. She immediately wiped her mouth and dropped the fork beside the plate. She didn’t want Marcus to know that she touched the food. ‘Why did he come back?’
she thought as she danced to the door.
“Why did you come baccckkk…?” Ini swallowed the rest as she saw Tola in Wole’s arm. “Who are you and what are you doing with my friend?” she said. She stared at him carefully. She had seen this face before… ‘The Magazine or TV…he had to be a popular face’.
Wole groaned slightly. “Could you let me in at least? She’s some weight.”
Ini stepped aside and watched Wole place Tola carefully on the couch. She shut the door and faced him. “Who are you?”
“My name is Wole Briggs, I am Tola’s friend. I brought her home.”
Ini nodded. “That, I can see. Why did you bring her home? She’s meant to be with her boyfriend.”
“He would visit later. Do take care of her.” He said approaching the door.
Ini ran across and blocked his way with a wry smile. “Not so fast. What did you do to her?” her face was stern now. Sister’s love!
He smiled. “I was only helping out, she would explain when she wakes.”
“How about I detain you till she wakes up?” Ini said, sternly. Wole stared at her and sighed. He reached for his inner pocket. “I don’t need your card.” She said, firmly.
He smiled revealing his teeth, this time with some beauty in it. He fetched his card from his pocket and flashed it at her. “How did you know I was going for that?”
She grinned. “It’s not hard to figure. You are Wole Briggs, you probably would want to show me who you are.” She stretched her hand towards a seat. “You would just have to wait till she wakes up.”
He nodded in agreement and walked over to the dining table. “Wow…so you were having dinner alone on a day like this?”
Ini walked over to the table. “Not exactly.” she replied, taking her seat. “A friend just left.”
Wole reached for a spoon. “I won’t mind sharing with you.”
“Be my guest.” She said, getting another plate.
He smiled as he took the first spoon. “This is good.” He then paused. “I am sorry, what’s your name?”
She smiled back. “Ini…Ini Obong.”
“Nice to meet you, Ini. So you guys stay here together?”
She nodded. “We have a third flat mate, Kimberly. She’s not in at the moment.”
“I am sorry, but how is it that you are the only one who didn’t go out to catch some fun?” he said, staring at her.
She shrugged and sipped her drink. “I had fun with a friend, we didn’t want the traditional Val’s day thing, so we just stayed in.” she lied. He nodded impressively. “So, are you from the Briggs’s family? I mean, Briggs Empire?”
He smiled. “Well, I think I am.”
Fortunate Man! He must have had it all while growing up. Ini came from a very humble home, things were hard with them, but they raised a fighter in her, who had become slightly over ambitious.
“What do you do, Ini?” he asked.
She smiled as she was about to flaunt her profession. “I am a Model.”
“Really? Wow…that agency is fast rising these days. I might even need your help soon.” He said, biting his chicken. “My sister has a clothing line, so who knows?”
Ini pretended not to be excited about the prospect of modeling for one of the biggest brands in Africa. “Your card may come now.” She said. Wole smiled and handed her the card. “So, how is business these days?”
He shrugged. “Business is business. But, I am more into buying properties these days; I am in Lagos for a while though.”
“Where does the wind of business take you to again?”
He smiled. “You never know.”
Oyinkan dropped her purse at the bar. “Martini please…” she said as she ran her finger across her hair. She watched the bartender pour the glass. It took her mind back to how Remi had poured her glass.
“So, tell me Oyinkan, what do you do?” Remi had asked. He fixed his gaze on hers.
She relaxed in the chair and dropped the glass kindly. “Nothing.” She replied, casually.
He probed her. “Really? How is that?”
“Like you know, I just returned so, I am still looking around. I probably would settle down soon.”
Remi shifted his weight against hers and dropped his glass kindly. Her heart raced faster as he brought his mouth close to her neck. “Nice cologne.”
She chuckled slightly and moved away from him. David was right! She shouldn’t be hanging around strangers too quick, she just met Remi.
“I want you.” he blurted, running his eyes through her female assets.
She stared at him. She didn’t have the normal bold stare she normally posed when about to do the business with men, fear was written all over her face. David had warned her against jumping into men’s bed, but this time, she wasn’t even pushing herself at Remi like she usually did, he wanted her.
Remi drew closer again and this time, with more urge. He started to kiss her neck; he ran his hand through her lap underneath her gown. Oyinkan groaned slightly and broke free from him. “I am sorry.” She said, standing up. She pulled her gown down as he had started to pull it roughly.
“I thought you wanted this.” He said, picking up his glass.
She sighed. “Of course not. I wanted a man, not a pig.” She said, spitefully.
PIG??? Remi sprang to his feet furiously and darted towards her. She was two seconds too quick for him as she dashed out.
She sighed as she sipped her drink. Some serenity at last! She thought.
“Whisky!” A man bellowed as he slipped into the next seat beside her. She sighed. He downed his cup in no time and ordered for the second, and third and fourth and the gulps rolled in.
She seized the cup. “Hey! Go home!” she ordered.
He laughed. “You know, you sound just like her, the type of woman who would make you see her as instantly perfect.” He said and yanked his glass from her.
A rueful smile endorsed her lips. ‘Did someone just see me as perfect?’ she asked herself and faced him. “Life doesn’t end there.”
“Are you sure? Why are you here? You must be devastated too.” he said, wiping some perspiration from his face.
Oyinkan smiled. “I am not devastated; I just got what I asked for.” She smiled at the Bartender. “Water please.” He frowned. “I know you do have water in reserve.”
He shrugged and opened a fridge. “Here you go.” He said, handing her a bottle of water.
“Thank you.” she said and turned towards the man stretching the bottle. “So, I am Oyinkan, and you are?”
He collected it with a smile. “Ben.”

[nextpage title=”Episode 6″]
Tola gulped her water. “I want to know what you did to Tolu.” She charged angrily. Wole swallowed. “You aren’t so macho after all?”
“Tola, can you just stop being a fool for a minute. This man rescued you from that idiot and now you are attacking him, what is it?” Ini replied.
Tola smiled. “Ini, this isn’t your business and I suggest you stay out of it.” She then turned towards Wole. “I don’t know Tolu’s whereabouts and he isn’t answering his calls, what if this man here had him killed?” she asked eyeballing Wole Briggs coldly.
“I didn’t do anything of such to him. I thought you could use some help there.” He replied calmly.
She scoffed. “Help? I have never needed anyone’s help. When I needed help, the only one who ‘helped’ me was Tolu. And that’s the only man I know, get it into your head.” She said, standing up.
Wole took a deep breath. “My work is done here.” He said, staring at Ini. “Please take care of her, don’t forget to call me.” he said, and walked out.
Ini closed the door after Wole and stared at Tola. “Tola Matthews, do you really want to continue living like this? You are Tolu’s toy!”
“That’s it! What do you know about being a toy? Why won’t anyone understand? Where’s Kimberly?” she shouted.
Ini hissed. “What is Kim going to tell you differently?”
“I don’t know, but at least, she knows how to listen.” She said, and grabbed her shoes and walked in.
David turned off the engine as he pulled up in front of the house. “I would have my secretary call you tomorrow, there’s a fund raiser that we have to attend.”
I stared at him. “What do you think I am? You can’t just arrange my life for me, David.” I replied.
He smiled. “I apologize. Okay, we have to be at a fund raiser early next week; I would have my secretary brief you on the details.”
“David Coker! You need to seek my consent, not give me orders. I am not about to become my mother!” I said and stormed out of his car, slamming the door hard.
I pressed the door bell with some venom. After the second hit, Ini opened up. “Hello.” I said, and walked in. she poked her head outside, I could guess she was trying to know why David Coker was still outside. She faced me as soon as she shut the door. “No questions!” I immediately said, closing any avenue for queries.
“Well, I guess you are not about to act like Tola tonight.” She said, sitting down. “That reminds me, you forgot your phone, and Ben Ten called endlessly.”
I stared at the ‘evil in her’. “Why didn’t you pick up?”
She shrugged. “It’s your phone, I shouldn’t be answering your calls, you know.”
I nodded. “Ini, if I didn’t know you well, I would have agreed with you, but I know you didn’t answer the call on purpose.”
“What difference does it make?” she cut in. “It’s not like you didn’t have a nice time, I mean, it’s almost midnight.” She said, staring at the clock. It was fifteen minutes to midnight.
I scoffed. “So you think I enjoyed being out with David? Ben walked in on us.”
“Omg! Ben Ten?”
I wore an awful grimace. “Uh-hmm Ten Ben” She sat up. “What happened?” she asked in a calm tone.
I shrugged. “What part do you want to hear first? The bad or the Ugly?”
She looked up as though she was thinking about her answer, we both knew there was nothing for her to think about. She wanted the ugly, it’s just like Ini. “The ugly.” She affirmed. Just like Ini!
“Okay…David punched Ben.”
He r jaw dropped in surprise. “Really? Mr. Debonair threw punches at an exquisite restaurant?” I nodded in agreement. “Was it that bad?”
I sighed. “Ini, why would he hit him if it wasn’t that bad?” her face fell. “Quit the good girl look, I know how excited you are about this.”
“Did he hit back?” she asked, coming alive now.
I smiled. More like Ini! “Oh…well, Ben tried to hit him first and then he dodged swiftly and sent Ben crashing into the table.”
A rueful smile lurked around Ini’s lips. “ Perfecto! That’s how a real man should act! It must have been like one of those Mexican soap operas, like when Diego fought for Paloma. What’s the name of that guy he beat up?” she asked rubbing her forehead.
I eyeballed her. “See…it didn’t take long to bring out the devil in you! One minute to gloat and you are already showing how much hate you have for Ben.”
She rose to her feet defensively. “Don’t paint me bad! I am only trying to see things from my perspective.”
I nodded. “And where does Ben fit in your ‘perspective’.”
She snapped. “Come of it, Kim.” She said. She took her seat beside me and came closer. I shifted from her and she came closer, she grabbed my neck with excitement. “Did you guys kiss?”
I jumped out of her grip. “Ini Obong! Have you lost it? How do you expect me to kiss someone that I don’t love?” She whistled and turned on the Home Theatre. “Whistle all you want, but you are really sick to think I would even kiss him!” I replied.
She played Drake’s ‘ Find your love’ . “You know I love it when songs preach to you! You need to find your love… ‘Eh…eh…eh….and nothing’s gonna tear us apart’
“You should just stick with modeling, you have no career in music!” I said, and grabbed my phone from the side table. “Ini, the neighbourhood would be resting, turn off that noise!”
She smiled and obliged. “Don’t you want to know what happened with Tola and Tolu tonight?” she asked, stopping me in my tracks. I turned. “ Olofofo! I always knew you had it in you, you just hide behind the fact that you are ‘intelligent’ abi na brilliant?” she added in pidgin English.
“I don’t blame you. Spill it!” I replied.
She smiled. “Wole Briggs brought Tola home.” I took my seat with a questioning look. “Babe, I guess Tolu messed up, but Tola did worse.”
“How? By coming home with Wole Briggs?” I asked.
She shook her head in disagreement. “She practically sent Wole away when she woke up. She started saying nonsense about how she was sure that Wole must have had her Tolu killed, since he wasn’t picking up.”
I hissed. “That guy must have her under a spell.” Ini wore a grimace as she stared at me. “Okay…I don’t believe in ‘juju’ but na wetin?” I asked in pidgin.
“Kim, you just used pidgin.” She replied, laughing.
I frowned. I rarely use Pidgin English. Most times, it came as a last resort when I had nothing else to say. “Ini, just ignore that.” I replied. “How are we going to help Tola?” I asked.
Ini shrugged. “I don’t see us changing her mind about Tolu, it is something that she has to do on her own, probably learn a really bitter lesson, or she finds another man.”
“Like Wole? She says he is pretty arrogant.” I replied.
Ini shook her head. “He didn’t seem so to me. We had a decent conversation, and I must say, he is a very nice guy, and he is a free man. He would really make her happy.”
I yawned slightly and rose to my feet. “We’ll see. Is Tola spending this weekend with Tolu?” I asked.
Ini nodded. “I guess so, more so, now that she couldn’t reach him after the party.”
“But I thought we were gonna to set up the barbeque this weekend.”
Ini smiled. “And invite who? It’s not like Ben would come, and I bet David would see it as ridiculous, Marcus is pissed at me, we really won’t have people over for it.”
“What did you do to that gentle Marcus again? Let me guess, you reminded him of Chioma spitefully?”
Ini shrugged. “He should let go for once and move on. And do you know that he has refused to let me know his new apartment since Chioma left, I might just search for that myself.”
“Ini, just stay out of his business, Marcus is a bit private, respect that!”
She hissed. “No way! I no fit respect that! He works for me; I must know everything about him. We have been friends since high school, why would he be keeping secrets from me?”
“Maybe because he doesn’t have a posh apartment, you know he’s still saving up for a car, he may not want you to ‘wash’ his house.” I replied and left for my room.
Henry passed me an apple from the stand. “For your troubles.” He said. I scoffed. “My supervisor won’t have a look at my work.”
“We’ll make it irresistible.” I replied.
He smiled. “Kim, how did you spend Val’s day?” he asked. I rolled my eyes. “You can tell me.” he added.
“Henry, I am busy!” I replied. He sprang to his feet and started laughing. “What?!”
He poked my cheek. “It went bad.” He said smiling. I frowned. “Oh yes…that’s the syndrome! So who broke your heart? Ben?”
I shot at him. “Enough, Henry!” I ordered. He paused and then took his seat. “I am single!” I added.
“Wow!!! I might just try my luck.” He said, rubbing his palms. I smiled. “Is that a yes?”
I hissed. “Dreamer! I think I have this thing sorted out.” I said, turning the laptop in his direction. “What do you think?”
He put the laptop aside and drew his chair closer. “I like your eyes.” He said.
I batted them and stared back. “I don’t like yours!” I replied, and drew my chair back. “Henry, do you need your ‘A’?” I asked, standing up.
“Of course, but above all…” he said, joining me. I stepped backwards. He grinned. “Why are you scared?” he asked.
I stamped my foot. “Okay! That’s enough Henry! I won’t have you do this again!” I ordered. Henry came forward with a deep grin; I stepped back in fear and crashed into the apple stand. He let out a horrid laugh.
“What are you looking at? Help her up?” Old Rodger shouted. I flipped my head over my shoulder to see Old Rodger who was leaning against his cane for support. “I am so sorry, my dear. This monster must be at it again.”
Henry pulled me up. “I was just messing with you, Kim.” I hissed. “I am sorry.” He added as he helped me to a seat.
I felt embarrassed. “Henry, this act of yours is sickening!” I shouted. I stared at Old Rodger. “Sir, Good afternoon.” I said. Old Rodger smiled and helped himself to a seat. I didn’t like that smile. ‘We weren’t doing anything! Or, rather, Henry was acting funny.’ I said to myself silently.
“You guys are kids, it’s okay to have fun.”
KIDS!!! I am a university graduate, I have a job! (Not exactly a job, but at least I am out of school!) I shot furiously at Henry who was all smiles. It seemed as though his Dad was taking his side. “Old Rodger, Henry and I are done here. I would head out now.” I turned toward Henry. “Do submit that paper this week and give me the feedback.” I grabbed my grocery bag. “Have a great day.” I said and walked out.
“Kim, are you pissed at me?” Henry asked, holding my hand back.
I freed my hand from his grip and walked on. “Why should I be?” I asked with a smile. He smiled back. Did he think the smile was for fun? “I can’t be pissed at a kid.” I said, grinning.
“KID? I am not a kid.” He stared at himself. “I have all the muscles in the right places and I might possibly be older than you.” he added. I stole a glance at his physique and then scoffed. “Still unimpressed?”
I nodded in agreement. “Still as unimpressed as the first day I met you.” I replied. He pulled a face and I laughed. “But, Henry, you really are a cool guy, I like your person. Maybe you should meet my
sisters someday.”
“Sisters? Or housemates?”
I rolled my eyes. “I call them sisters.”
Boye sank into the chair. “Ben, who was that girl you left the bar with yesterday?” Ben continued typing on his laptop, ignoring Boye. “Ben, did you guys hit it?” Ben stared at him with some anger in his eyes. “Yes…you did!” he said, laughing.
Ben hit the table. “Boye! I can’t tolerate you anymore.” He shouted. “I only dropped her at her place.”
“Eh! Don’t transfer the aggression, I am not Kimberly.” He replied. “And if I were you, I would be looking for another lady, because it’s obvious from what that girl wore last night that you are still out of her league.”
Ben stood up. “I haven’t said a thing about that lady, except that I dropped her. Where’s Keji? Didn’t she come to work today? You guys should be hiding around the toilet as usual.”
“I intend to take things serious with Keji soon. After what happened to you yesterday, I don’t think I want any lady springing a surprise on me.”
Ben nodded. “Kimberly is a cheat!”
“You guys were never dating, Ben. I think she was fairly honest with you.”
He hissed. “She knew I loved her. She’s just a slimy little cheat! She appears to be this beautiful and principled lady, but she’s not different from the others who lie and deceive people.”
“Ben, you are full of spite for Kim, did you ever ask her if she was engaged?”
He shrugged. “She didn’t look it. She never mentioned anything. She just let me dream.”
“You wanted to dream, bro!”
Ben paused and dropped his pen. “Are you on her side? You saw her man humiliate me; He wanted me to know that he has it all.” Boye blinked. “What? I am serious! He was very rude.”
“Ben, I am not disputing the fact that he might have made you look little, but you already belittled yourself. Ben, you are always thinking mediocre and acting in wise. I am not surprised that you got that kind of treatment.”
Ben scoffed. “Boye, are you trying to say that I was at fault? Kimberly never told me that she had a fiancé.”
“You are out of context, Ben. I don’t want us flogging this issue unnecessarily, but I think you shouldn’t judge Kimberly yet, give her the chance to explain.”
He nodded. “She hasn’t even called since the incident. Isn’t that pathetic? She’s probably at home with her fiancé now, eating and watching the news.”
Boye sighed. “I have to go to my office now. See you later.” He said and approached the door. The door flung open with Mr. Adeoye bursting in. “Good afternoon sir.”
Mr. Adeoye looked angry. “What’s good about this afternoon?” he asked and walked in. Ben rose to his feet, Boye immediately walked out. “Ben, this month has been horrible for us. Our sales have dropped drastically, didn’t the audience like the Val’s day special in the magazine?”
Ben rubbed his chin. “Sir, that article was written by Mrs. Ibe, I don’t think it went down well with the youths and they were our primary target for Val’s day.”
“Yesterday was Val’s day, we didn’t get a single feedback! It had never been like this!” he shouted.
Ben bowed his head. “I am sorry sir!”
“I don’t need your sorry, Ben. I need this thing fixed.” He shouted angrily and then paused. “Do you remember that lady that came here the other day saying she could write for us?” he asked. “I think the name is Kimberly.”
“No.” Ben replied, bluntly.
Mr. Adeoye nodded and walked out. Ben sighed and took his seat.
“Final Pose….erm….there you have it!” The Photographer said as he closed the photo shoot.
Ini smiled. “Don’t forget to send them to my mail, Michael.” She said, and walked towards Marcus. He turned away as soon as he saw her coming. “Really, Marcus?”
Marcus ignored her and spoke to the chairman of the Etilahad group. “Sir, my client would love all the things offered and more…she’s good and you know it, she’s a beauty for your brand.”
“Marcus, I know Ini is good. But, I have told you our terms. Shola Jones was satisfied with those terms too.”
Marcus sighed. “Ini is on a different level from Shola Jones and you know it. Ini is warm, she brings the beauty to your brand, she will make people love Etilahad.”
Ini stared at Marcus as he spoke with the Chairman. She immediately joined them. “Mr. Chairman, I would love to have a moment with Marcus.” She said. Marcus stared at her. She held his hand and stepped away from them. “Marcus, are you going to continue ignoring me?” she asked.
He sighed. “I am not ignoring you, I am trying to seal a deal for you, please let me return to my work.”
“I am sorry about yesterday.”
“I am not offended.”
She hissed. “You didn’t wait at the usual spot this morning. Did you join a bus to this place?”
“I had to be here much early, I couldn’t wait for you.” he replied. She wanted to utter another statement but he stopped the predictable next question. “Sorry I didn’t call, I was out of airtime.”
Ini nodded. “I am not a fool, Marcus. I am really sorry.”
He sighed. “Okay fine. What do you want?”
“Can we have lunch?” she asked. He stared at her. “I’ll cook.”
He scoffed. “I’ll pass. I have to be at my mother’s.”
“Are you afraid of my cooking?”
He stared at her. “Do you cook?”
I stared at Henry as I clutched my purse to my arm. “This had better be good.” I said.
“Of course. Shall we?” he asked leading the way.
I sighed and walked with him. “Henry, next time, set up a meeting.” I said.
He smiled. “It’s urgent. I didn’t get my girlfriend anything for Val’s day, and then she’s putting up this attitude, I bet it has something to do with her not receiving a thing.”
“What makes you think I am a good judge of dresses? I rarely go shopping.” I said, flagging a taxi. “You should meet Ini.” I added almost inaudibly.
He helped me hold the door while I got in and then closed it carefully after him. “Kim, you are the only female friend I have apart from my girlfriend.” I stared at him with the ‘you know you just lied’ look. “Okay, fine. That’s a lie, but any other girl that tags along might request I get her a clutch, shoe or even a gown.” He leaned forward to tell the taxi driver our destination. “The Palms.”
I smiled. “What makes you think I won’t?” I asked.
He sat back and smiled. “You are different.” I blushed slightly. “You are just close to perfect, Ben is a lucky dude.”
I shot at him. “Ben isn’t my boyfriend.” I replied. He whistled. “I am serious, Henry!”
“That’s fine. You don’t have to get all defensive. I believe you.” he grinned. “So, who is he?”
I sighed. “Can we skip the topic?”
“NO!” he replied, sharply.
I took a deep breath. I wasn’t about to tell him that I was engaged. I flashed a smile at him and fetched my I-pod from my purse. These things come handy, you know. I plugged my ears carefully and tilted my head towards the window allowing the city’s breeze flow through.
“Bad habit!” Henry said as we got off the cab.
I smiled. “I am sorry, Henry.” I dragged with sarcasm. “You won’t give up.” He pushed the door and I stepped in. “Thank you.”
“Where do we go?”
I looked around. “Mango. Ini loves that place.” I said, leading the way. “How much do you have for shopping though?”
“Who’s Ini?”
I smiled at him. “My sister or housemate, pick one.” I walked into the store with a smile. “So how much do you have?”
He smiled. “Don’t worry about the money. I need to make my girlfriend happy.”
“Here we are then…” I stopped pointing to some gowns. “Be my guest.”
He stared at one gown. “This is nice. Would you try it on?” he asked, checking the price tag.
“It’s for your girlfriend, I shouldn’t be trying it on.” I replied.
He frowned. “It doesn’t matter.” I ignored him. “Fine. I’ll just assume this would fit her. She’s got good curves like you.” he said.
I assessed the gown. “It’s beautiful.” I said and checked the price tag. “Henry, are you sure about this gown?”
He nodded in agreement. “Yes, I am.” He said, pulling it off the rack. He stared at me. “We have something beautiful, let’s go.”
“Let’s do some window shopping, at least. Check the jewelry sections.” I replied.
He smiled and nodded in agreement. “Wow…check this out, Kim.” He said, pulling my hand as we stopped before a diamond necklace.
“This is beautiful.” I said, staring through the show glass. “This would cost a fortune.” I said, staring at it.
He stared at me. “I could steal it for you.” he said, sounding serious. He sounded serious to me.
I stared back at him and stepped back. “Now you are beginning to sound like a freak. First, you scare me to death at your father’s store, and now you are saying something scary.” I replied.
Henry laughed. “You really take everything too serious, Kim Banks. I was just messing with you.” he said.
“Really? Okay, let’s pay for the gown and leave.” I replied and walked away.
He caught up with me at the counter and pulled my hand back. “I am sorry if I scared you, but I thought you were down with it. I guess I act like a kid, I’ll grow up soon.”
I chuckled. “How soon is soon?” I asked and he smiled. “I can deal with your jokes, but they sometimes have me worried.” I added with a smile. “But, how soon is soon?”
He looked serious. “Soon enough but not soon enough to stop me from what I
am about to do.” He said and tickled me. I tried to wriggle and bumped into an oncoming customer.
I turned around swiftly. “I am so sor….ry” I said. I raised my head and my jaw fell. “I am sorry, David.” I said staring at him.

[nextpage title=”Episode 7″]
David stared at Henry as though he was about to say something rude to him. His stare was very offensive as he helped me up to my feet. “I am sorry, David.” I repeated for a second time. He appeared not to pay any attention to my first apology.
Henry paced around David with a corny smile. “You really know some fly guys, Kimberly.” He stopped and stared at David. “Dude, your suit is dope!” David remained mute. “Kim, doesn’t your friend talk?”
I rushed to Henry and sealed his mouth. “David, I am so sorry.” He kept on staring at us. “At least say something.” I said, getting sick of his mute game.
He turned to his right as a beautiful lady in a Red gown and Black smart heels approached him with two shopping bags. “Are you set, Yewande?” he asked. She nodded in agreement and they walked out together.
Henry stared at me. “Who was that guy?”
“Erm…a friend.” I replied. I wasn’t comfortable with telling him that David is my ‘to-be’ Husband.
Henry scoffed. “That guy must be really boxed up , and with a touch of arrogance too.” He said. I smiled. “Anyway, let’s get out of here” He said, and we walked over to the attendant.
I adjusted my Ray Ban sunshades as soon as we stepped out of the Palms into the sun. “Wow! You look good in it.” Henry said.
I smiled in acknowledgement. “Funny thing, Tola hates them. She likens them to a beggar’s shades, might dispose of it soon.”
“Who’s Tola? Your housemate? Sorry, sister?”
I smiled. “Yes…now we are on the same page.” Henry tapped me. “What?” I turned to see David approaching us. I braced up for anything he would say.
He took off his shades. “You want a ride?” he asked.
Henry stared at him. “We are fine.” He replied.
David stepped forward and smiled. “I wasn’t talking to you, kid.” He turned towards me. “Do you want a ride, Kimberly?” he asked.
I stared at Henry. “We are fine, thank you.”
David swallowed and walked away. “Who’s that guy?!” Henry asked. “He just called me a kid! I can’t stand him. Where did you ever meet him?”
“Just stop, Henry! He’s a friend.” I said, and flagged a cab down.
Henry didn’t say a word to me till we got home. “Thank you.”
“For what?” I asked.
He shrugged. “For coming along.” He replied. I smiled and walked into the house.
Oyinkan flipped her hair across her shoulder as David flung the office door open. “Hey Couz!” she said. He stared at her. “Your secretary let me in.” She added, knowing that David’s next question might be on how she got into his office.
David sank into his chair. “Kimberly has issues.”
Oyinkan smiled. “David, every girl has issues. What has she done?”
“Apart from her boyfriend crashing in on our dinner last night, I met another guy she ‘kicks it with’.”
Oyinkan raised an eyebrow. “David, are you sure you didn’t misinterpret the situation?” she asked, standing up. David’s gaze followed her as she walked round in his spacious office. “David, how are you sure of what happened?”
“I saw Kimberly and this guy having fun at Mango, he even tickled her till she tripped over me accidentally.” He said, angrily. “She is my fiancé, not another man’s toy.” He complained.
She took her seat. “How did she react?”
He shrugged. “Nothing special in her reaction, except that she turned down my offer to take her home.” He drummed on the table. “We will have our introduction next week.”
Oyinkan’s jaw dropped. “DAVID???” She stared at him. “You won’t marry Kimberly because you want to possess her, she’s not one of your properties” she argued.
He stared at her. “Whose side are you on? I was going to marry her anyway”
“Yes, but not in this manner.”
David stood up. “I have seen her around two guys now, and the situations have never been palatable. Anyway, business is involved.”
Oyinkan shook her head. “David, I think you should get to know Kimberly better. You guys don’t need to suffer because of business.”
“I don’t know if I have the time to know her. Do you know that Kimberly doesn’t know about their business?” he asked. He smiled as Oyinkan wore a surprised look. “That lady is going to be my wife; she has to know things about us. She even thinks that buying houses is pure evil.”
Oyinkan smiled. “Buying people’s homes” She corrected. “I kind of agree with her. You never used to like it, I wonder how Mr. Coker made you like this.”
He hissed. “I’ll talk to father and have the introduction plans started.” He replied.
“David, I don’t want to believe that Kimberly would want the marriage so soon. I think you should get to know her better. Hang out and try to make things work if you guys will be together. David, you only get one chance to love.”
He stared at her and scoffed. “Where did you get that lie from?” she smiled. “I’ll tell Yewande to drop the stuffs I bought for her at Mango at her place; I hope that’s good enough.”
“I suggest you take it to her after work. You guys could probably take a walk or something, just try to create a decent atmosphere for yourselves.”
David stared at her. “What if she can’t love me?”
She smiled. “You guys don’t need love, you only need mutual understanding.”
The doorbell rang for a second time. I stared at the wall clock. “7:30pm”. Tola would be at Tolu’s for the weekend, and Ini had a late photo shoot. The bell chimed again. I groaned in discomfort as I rose from the sofa and had to forfeit the tension soaked scene in Tinsel , my favorite soap opera. I opened the door with some venom as I expected Henry; he would be the only nuisance at the door.
“Good evening.” David said, as he stepped back.
I took a deep breath. “Good evening, David.” I replied. “Please come in.” I offered. He nodded and walked in after me. “Please sit.”
I left for the kitchen and returned with a can of Fayrouz. “You care?” I asked. He smiled and I passed it to him. “I usually don’t entertain visitors without notice.” I lied, trying to sound professional. Not that any unannounced visitor is welcome, but I could use the tone of a working class woman.
“What do you do?” he asked. “That is, apart from writing for your Dad?”
I hissed. “I don’t work for him. I am unemployed.” He stared at me as he opened his drink. “That’s what my Dad wants you to believe.”
“Really? I thought you work for him.”
I sighed. “I don’t! I am unemployed and needing a job.”
He looked to his right and handed me a gift bag. “I got these for you.” He said. I collected the bag. “You should try them on, maybe you can wear the black for the fund raiser.” I took a deep breath. “What is it?” he asked, calmly.
“Have you ever been in love? Or have you had any girlfriend in the past?”
He stared at me. “That’s none of your business.” He replied, firmly.
“Oh yeah? I think it is…David, you need to seek my opinion before throwing anything at me. I don’t like the fact that you are imposing a fund raiser on me. You should seek my permission first.”
He nodded. “Kimberly, we are going to be married sooner than later.”
“Still doesn’t give you the right to impose your will on me.”
He shrugged. “I am sorry if you feel that way, but I am just trying to help us get along, at least, let’s be happy if we are not in love.” I turned away shaking my head. “Or are you in love with someone?” he asked.
I looked at his cold eyes. “If I was, would you let me go?” I asked.
An awkward silence filled the room. At that moment, I wished I was in love with someone, anyone. David’s eyes blinked. “Kimberly, I don’t want to marry you.” He replied. A tiny smile formed around my lip. “But I have to.” The smile faded as soon as he dropped the bomb. “And I know that you don’t want to either, but you have to. It’s what we have to do.”
“Have you ever been in love?” I asked.
He smiled lightly. “I don’t know. I only love my business.”
I cursed. “And you want to go on with that feeling until your dying day?”
“It doesn’t matter, as long as we are good companions, have mutual understanding, and we are very comfortable, we don’t need love.”
I nodded with some sarcasm. “I need love.” He stared at me. “I have watched my mom live in comfort without love, I don’t want it.”
“Is there someone else?”
I blinked. “If there is, would you let me go?”
He rose to his feet. “Kimberly, you know better.” He took a deep breath. “Do you want to take a walk?”
“Okay, I’ll just get my jacket.” I replied, and left for my room.
We walked down into the streets. We listened to the dogs howling and barking and we finally took our seats on the side chairs in the Estate. These things have a reason they are made, you know.
“Erm…” we both said and laughed. “You go first.” He said, playing the gentleman script.
I smiled. “Dad said you have been into business since you were a little boy.” He nodded in agreement. “How did you find it?”
“I felt lost initially, I was 14 then when I started going with Dad to tie up deals.” He paused. “I met older men, they really despised me, didn’t like the fact that I was learning the ropes that early.” He stopped to stare at me. “I had a tough life.”
I burst into a cynical laughter. “Try another joke. Your Dad has forever been rich!”
He shrugged. “Never mattered, I never really liked his business, but now, I have grown to love it and fight for it.”
“What do you mean by tough life? I know the business is hard, but you are comfortable, you have everything you want.”
He nodded. “But not all I need. I can’t even buy myself a conscience or a heart.”
I stared at him carefully. His words were wise, not that I expected anything less, but they were starting to hit me. “You are a good man, David.”
“You think?” he sighed and rose to his feet. “I couldn’t even save the only woman I have ever loved from depression.” He said and walked away.
“It’s a bright and sunny Saturday morning in Lagos City. What are you doing today? Someone’s birthday? Someone’s wedding? A barbeque party? Chelsea against Manchester United? Or attending a funeral? Tune into Lagos city 94.8FM, it’s your boy, Magic on the radio…”
Ini turned off the side radio as the ray of light shone into her eyes. “Mumu, you no dey sleep?” she shouted at me in Pidgin English. I smiled arrogantly as I turned on the radio again. She hissed dryly and pulled herself up from the bed. “You know how important it is that I….”
“get my beauty sleep…” I yawned along with her. “It’s 9am, Ini. Time to clean up!”
She scoffed. “Why you no go call Tola from Tolu’s bed?”
“Tola is with her man, they are definitely busy with some sanitation.” I replied and Ini grinned. “I will be waiting for you in the kitchen, we start off from there today.” I announced and walked out.
The doorbell chimed. “Ahn! Who could that be?” I said aloud and strode over to the door.
“TA-DA!!!” Henry shouted as I opened the door.
I stared at him with a grimace. “Why are you here so early?”
“I thought you could use some help with the sanitation today.” He said, trying to come in but I stood firmly in front of the door. “What?”
I took a deep breath. “You should help your Dad with the store.”
“All done! We did that last night!” he replied, grinning.
I rolled my eyes. “And your project?”
He scoffed. “Kim, stop treating me like a kid. I came to visit you, and that’s that, you must allow me in.” he said with a rueful smile
“Na wa o! Where did you find this kid?”
I turned round to see Ini. “How long have you been standing there?” I asked.
Henry tried stretching his hand across. “I am Henry.”
She nodded and pulled me aside. “Let him in.” Henry stepped in confidently. He still looked juvenile to me. He was wearing Ralph polo, faded blue jeans and a LV snicker. “How old are you?” Ini asked, with a smile.
He stared at us. “23.”
“Really?! You look 18.” She replied. “Better start getting some white collar and pants.” She said. “Sanitation starts from the kitchen, but I’ll gladly have you start in my bathroom, if you know what I mean.” She said as she bit her lip gently staring provocatively at Henry’s lower.
I smiled. Ini is a s–t! Henry stared at me and I shrugged. “This way please.” I said, leading him to the dinning. “What would you have? Fruit and Fibre? Oat?”
“Nah…I am okay.” He replied.
Ini poked her head in from the kitchen. “You better eat! You’ll help us with the barbeque.” She said and poked her head back.
“I thought we cancelled the barbeque this weekend.”
She poked her head out again. “On a second thought, Marcus and I have reconciled, so it won’t be boring, and since Henry’s here, we might as well just have some proper refreshment.”
“Leaving Tola out?”
She nodded. “We’ll have other days.” She replied and returned to the kitchen.
I turned to Henry. “Are you okay with it?”
He nodded excitedly. “Sweet!” I nodded. “I’ll have breakfast then.”
“Okay then. What would it be?”
He drummed his fingers on the table. “Whatever you’ll have”
I laughed. “You better make your choice. I’ll have potatoes and scrambled eggs.”
He shot at me. “Why then did you offer me Cereal?” he asked, feigning seriousness.
“I am sorry, you may turn on the TV and catch some fun.” I said and disappeared into the kitchen.
Ini pulled me aside as soon as I entered the kitchen. “Are you sleeping with that kid?”
I hissed and pushed her kindly. “Everyone can’t be like you.”
“I was just messing with you.”
I scoffed. “Well don’t! I think he likes me and he’s not a kid, he’s just a baby at heart.”
Ini laughed hard. “What’s the difference?”
“There is a difference.” I replied.
She smiled. “Marcus is no longer mad at me, we talked things out yesterday.” She announced as she washed the potatoes. “Do you want me to chop them into bits?” she asked, getting a chopping board.
“It’s already your intention to chop them or
why are you with a board?”
She shrugged and rinsed the knife. “I think we have to sit Tola down and talk to her about Tolu, that guy is milking her dry and I think it’s time we tell her the truth, however she might find it.”
I sighed. “I really don’t understand the whole situation myself. I wish she could just realize it, Tola is deaf to anything we say about Tolu. She practically worships him. He is her life, her everything, i guess. It’s just unfortunate.”
“Listen Kim, Tola likes to talk to you as she thinks my advice is filthy. You saw her reaction when I suggested that Tolu joined the agency.” I stopped to eyeball her. She hissed and continued. “I wouldn’t have slept with him. Tola is like my sister; at least if he was earning some cash for himself no matter how irregular, he wouldn’t have to live off her.”
I nodded. “You have a point there, but you know your records with men.” She laughed. “Almost every guy wants to have you, even if you don’t want Tolu, he doesn’t seem to me like the decent type, he’ll want you, and that would create problems with Tola.”
Ini nodded in agreement. “That guy is a devil. I just wonder how Tola is still stuck with him. I wonder how the intelligent ones do the most stupid things…”
“And what is that supposed to mean?”
She smiled as she turned on the gas placing the pot carefully on it. “Look at you, you are going to be married off, with all your First Class and High IQ, and for your parents, they are doing what my Illiterate parents won’t dare.” I took a deep breath.
Spanking hot truth! “Also, look at Tola, beautiful and intelligent, yet she is a slave to love, what baffles me is how people see the both of you as reliable sources for relationship advice.” She paused and winked. “I SHOULD BE THE ONE GIVING ADVICE; I AM NOT TANGLED UP LIKE YOU BOTH!”
I grabbed her neck. “You monster!”
Ini and I rushed to the living room as we heard Henry scream in excitement. “What is it?” we chorused.
“SJ has been released from the hospital?”
Ini stared at him. “MJ is dead!”
He shook his head in disagreement. “I said SJ…not MJ…SJ is Shola Jones.” I smiled. “I am so happy for her, they say her skin treatment was a success and she recovered rapidly.”
“Okay, now what?” Ini asked, sounding indifferent.
He shrugged. “I guess she’ll continue her treatment at home according to TMV fashion news, and then she’ll be back on the runway as soon as possible.”
“How come you know so much about Fashion news, are you gay?” Ini asked, staring at the news.
He smiled. “I don’t know anything about it, Shola Jones is my cousin that’s why I know her.”
Ini widened her eyes. “You are Shola’s cousin?”
Ini sank into a chair. “Oh…well”
“Are you also a fan of my cousin?” he asked.
I hissed. “They are rivals. Ever heard of Ini Obong?” I asked. Henry looked at Ini. It was the
‘you are the Ini’? type of look.
“Wow! I can’t believe I am under the same roof with the talked about Ini Obong. I am sorry I don’t know your face, I am not so conversant with the Fashion TV and all, I only know my cousin Nice to meet you.” He said, stretching out his hand.Ini took the handshake calmly. “You are so different from what SJ says about you.”
“Oh well…I am gravely misunderstood.” She replied. I grinned.
Ini rose to her feet. “I think we can continue with breakfast now.” She said, leaving for the kitchen.
“What’s up, Ini?” I asked, walking into the kitchen. “You seem not to like the fact that Shola Jones is out of the hospital.”
She hissed. “What do I care?” I held her hand. “I am not scared.”
“Why should you be? She can’t take your contract from you, you are working hard for it.” I replied.
*Buzz* Ini’s iPhone vibrated. “I have to take this.” She said, and stepped out through the backdoor into the yard. I stared at her she seemed to be yelling into the phone. I could guess she was speaking with Marcus.
“I am hungry.” Henry said, as he walked into the kitchen.
I turned towards him. “Give me about ten minutes.” I said, dismissing him. I was more concerned about my sister now. She might be feeling intimidated with Shola’s return.
Ini returned into the house almost immediately. For the first time in a long time, Ini didn’t seem calm and in control of this situation. She appeared distraught. “I may have to leave soon.” She said, fetching a can of Coke. She downed it in almost one gulp.
“Ini! Get a hold of yourself. You are good at what you do, why are you so scared?”
She wriggled out of my grip and left for her room. I joined Henry in the living room. “Food is almost ready.” I said.
“Excellent news! So, I never knew that one of your
sisters is the famous Ini Obong. That’s a delight.”
I nodded. “There you have it. Did your girlfriend like the gown?”
“She did. I think she’s happier now.”
I shook my head. The doorbell chimed. ‘Who could that be? ’ I thought as I approached the door. Thoughts of David streamed through my mind and I, for the first time was scared. I turned the door knob gently and Tola stood before me in a Ray Ban sunshade and her bag dangling loosely from her shoulder.
“Tola!” I squealed, as I tried to hug her. “You came home for barbeque” I guffawed as I shut the door.
She snubbed me and walked past. She stopped to stare at Henry. “Who are you?”
“Hey Tola, that’s no way to treat my guest.” I interrupted before she continued her query.
Henry stood up. “My name is Henry.”
Ini ran downstairs in a chinos top and a black jean, she was holding her car key. “Heading out?” Tola asked.
She stared at Tola. “Yes, and what’s the Ray Ban for? I thought you said Kim wore beggar shades?” she asked, laughing. I grinned. “I thought you could do better, like Gucci or something else?”
“Why don’t you spend more time on minding your business, Ini Obong? Shola Jones is out of the hospital, I hope you aren’t scared.”
I turned towards Tola. “Why are you so annoying this morning? You are not supposed to be back till tomorrow evening. You never return on Saturdays.”
“There’s always a first.” She said, almost pushing me out of the way.
I pulled her back, accidentally yanking off her Ray Bam shades. I covered my mouth in surprise, Henry’s Jaw dropped and Ini screamed.

[nextpage title=”Episode 8″]
Ini dropped her key on the side table. “What the f**k is this?” she asked, angrily.
“I had an accident.” Tola replied casually.
Henry nodded. “Wow…the kind of accident that happens when a fist lands on a face several times.”
“Who is this tramp?” Tola charged angrily at Henry.
I stared at her unable to believe what had happened. Tolu had assaulted our friend!
“Did Tolu do this to you?” Ini asked, lifting her chin. Tears streamed down Ini’s eyes. “Look at what you have reduced yourself to, a punching bag?”
Tola scoffed and stepped aside. “Why are you crying, Ini? I am the one who should cry, but I am not. So why cry on my behalf?” she left for the kitchen and returned with an Icepack “No one understands.” She murmured nursing her face with the Icepack.
“Just shut up, Tola! Shut up!” I screamed. “Look at you, you are beautiful, young and powerful and you allow one guy to dictate your life? How dare you?”
Henry stared at her. “No man should treat a woman like this.”
Tola scoffed. “Who owns this kid?”
“He is not a kid! At least, he knows how to treat a woman, not like that pig.” I retorted.
Ini’s eyes burned with fury. “Tola, stand up and let us go to that house, now!” she ordered. Tola laughed. “Do you think it is funny?”
“What are you going there to do? Demand an explanation? Beat him up?” she hissed and fetched her phone from her bag. “It won’t work.” She said, dialling a number.
I shook my head. “Ini, let’s call the police.” She nodded in agreement. “We need to help this girl.”
“I am going to deny everything.” She said, bluntly. “I won’t cooperate.”
I sighed. “ Tola wake up and smell the coffee! This guy is a beast! Look at you, he has you damaged.”
“He hasn’t done anything wrong. He only corrected me.” She said.
Ini slammed the table furiously. “She’s playing a script. Is this what he told you to say? Did you rehearse this? Did he molest you sexually too? Did he drug you?” Ini screamed.
“He loves me!” she shouted and broke down in tears.
I slid into the sofa beside her. “Tola, this isn’t love.”
“What do you know? You have never been in love.” She replied.
Henry took a deep breath. “Well, I have. And I will never do this to the woman I claim to love. Never!”
Ini hissed. “You all are sick! We need to go and kill that bastard, what is all the discussion for? Look at Tola! She is a shadow of herself. Are you coming with me, Henry?” she shouted.
He nodded and stood beside her. “Kimberly?”
Tola held my hand. “Don’t go, please. Kim, he didn’t mean it.” She said, holding my hand tightly.
“Kim???” Ini shouted.
I sighed and joined Tola and Henry as we walked out. Thankfully, Ini knew the address. She drummed on the door as soon as we got there. “Open up you bastard!” she shouted aggressively. The curtain blinds went up slightly and a thin lady poked her head through the door.
“Are you a rabid dog?” The thin lady asked flipping her hair backwards.
Ini hissed and pulled her out. “Who are you, skanky little b*tch?” she muscled the lady to the floor sending her crashing with two hits. Henry quickly pulled Ini away from her as I rescued the lady from Ini’s grip.
“What’s going on here?” Tolu shouted, coming out in a towel. “Are you guys crazy?” he shouted as he walked close to us.
I walked up to him and slapped him hot. “Bastard!” I shouted. Henry restrained me from hitting him a second time. “Leave me alone, Henry.”
“He is not worth it.” Henry whispered.
Tolu stepped forward and tried to hold Henry by the shirt. “Who are you?” Tolu shouted. “Are you all insane???” he yelled at the top of his voice.
Ini picked up a metal from the surrounding and charged at Tolu. Seeing the impending danger if the metal should hit Tolu, Henry and I rushed to salvage the situation. “Let me go!” Ini shouted.
Tolu ran into the house and shut the door after him leaving the thin lady outside. “Witch!!!” Ini shouted and rushed to hit the lady. The lady took to her heels in only the T-shirt and left the house.
Oyinkan stepped out of the car. “But what if your Dad finds out about this?” she asked, staring at David.
“Who is going to tell him? You?” David asked. She smiled. “I didn’t think so” he said and closed the door gently. “This is the home, right?” he asked, staring at a sign post.
She stared at him. “It is. I wrote down the address from your dad’s diary.” She said, adjusting her blouse.
He nodded and walked up to the entrance and pressed the bell. The door creaked slightly as an elderly woman opened up. “Good morning.” He bowed courteously.
“Good morning, son. How may I help you?” she asked, staring at him and Oyinkan. Oyinkan immediately stepped forward with a smile. “Hello, daughter.”
David took a deep breath. “I would love to see Mrs. Coker” he said.
The Nun shook her head. “There’s no one here with that name.” she replied. David stared at Oyinkan.
Oyinkan crosschecked the address from her phone. “This is it. She has to be here.” She replied, peering above David’s shoulder to see the name of the Old Parent’s home. “Hearts alone.” She read and nodded confidently. “I am very sure.”
David cleared his throat. “Her first name is Elizabeth.”
The Nun stared at them. “What is your relationship with her?”
David stared at Oyinkan. His mother would never want to see him. She had cursed him the day she was brought to the home. “I am a cousin.” He replied.
“I am afraid, you can’t see her.” She replied.
Oyinkan blinked. “But it’s important we see her.”
The Nun smiled. “I am sorry. Have a good day.” She replied and returned into the home. David drummed on the door again. “Calm down, son!” the Nun shouted as she flung the door open.
“I want to see her!” he shouted.
Oyinkan held his shoulder. “Let’s go, David. We’ll have other days.”
He wiped a tear dropped from his left eye and walked back to the car. “I should have never let her go.”
“You were young, David. You were 15; you couldn’t have fought your Dad.”
He kicked the tyre furiously. “But I let him. She cried so hard, she looked into my eyes and begged me to say something.” He started. Oyinkan watched him as he spoke passionately. “I stood there and did nothing until she told me that she cursed the day she had me.” He continued in tears. Tears streamed down his cheek as he stared at the Old Parent’s home that his father had kept his mom. It had been 12 years since he last saw her.
Oyinkan hugged him. “I am sorry, love.” She kissed his forehead. “You can still make things right, talk to your Dad.”
“He won’t listen…you know him.”
She sighed. “David, you have been sorrowful since the day your mother left. Talk to your Dad.”
“Ouch!” Tola screamed as Ini cleaned her face. “Please be gentle.” She begged.
Ini hissed. “You should have told Tolu to hit you softly.” She replied as she massaged Tola’s face.
I dropped a bowl of water beside them and took my seat. “Tola, you need to leave that man.” I said, looking at her face.
“He is not a man.” Henry chipped in. I stared at him. “I am sorry.” He murmured, but loud enough for me to hear. He excused us and left for the backyard.
Tears streamed down Tola’s cheek. “I think I provoked him.” She started. Ini shook her head in dismay and forced the towel into his face. “AHAN!!!!!” Tola shouted, staring at Ini. “Take it easy.”
“Ini let me take over.” I suggested. The Ini I know would force the towel on Tola’s wounds again if she said anything to defend Tolu. Ini dropped the towel angrily. I mopped Tola’s left eye carefully.
Ini left for the kitchen and returned with a drink. “Tola, I love and respect you so much. You have been a fighter all your life, and even though Tolu was supportive in the past, it doesn’t give him any right over you” she started. She sipped her drink. “Tola, you need to stop now!”
I stared at Tola’s beautiful eyes. I took a deep breath and pushed the towel into her face. She managed a squeal in pain. “It’s okay.” I said, mopping a tear drop from her eyes. “You have to end this façade with Tolu. It’s turning into an assault.” I pleaded.
“How do you want me to live without him? I love Tolu.”
Ini slammed her glass on the table. “That’s it! You will live without him! Kimberly has never had a boyfriend except from her husband to be, and I have been single for 3 years.”
“You have never been single, Ini.” I replied, with a light smile. “You have sex partners.”
She scoffed. “I HAD sex partners. I am celibate now.” Tola laughed in spite of herself. “What is funny?” Ini smiled when she saw that Tola had a smile around her face. “We will always be there for you, someone better would definitely come your way.”
I nodded. “All good things will come…”
Tola smiled. “That sounds like poetry or a novel.” I nodded. “Thank you, I love you really much.”
Ini sighed. “Wole Briggs is also a very cool guy, and I think he loves you.” Tola hissed. “I thought as much.” She continued. “We promise to be here for you.”
“Group hug???” I asked. And with the typical mushy act among girls, we hugged lovingly. “Okay, when do we go to get pack whatever you have left from Tolu’s?” I asked.
Ini hissed. “More like when would kick Tolu and his s–t out of Tola’s house.”
“I got him that place. I am not taking it back.” She said, standing up.
Ini eyeballed her coldly. “What about the car?”
“A gift too.” She replied.
I watched Tola and Ini continue their tirades. I watched them smile too, and that made me happy. I left for the backyard. “Hey…” I said. Henry turned around with a smile. “Hope you weren’t too bored?” I asked, joining him on the porch.
He shrugged. “Nah…How’s Tola?” he asked.
“She’ll be better. She needs a form of distraction.” I replied.
Henry smiled. “Are we still having barbeque? At least, the family is here, we are complete!”
“Family? We?” I asked, with a questioning look. Henry was slowly rubbing himself in on us. I didn’t mind, but what about the others?
Mr. Coker stretched out in his chair as he stared at David. “What do you want from me?” he asked for the umpteenth time. David took a deep breath and opened his mouth to speak but immediately paused. “What is it, son?” he asked. “I can’t help you if you don’t say a word and continue acting dumb.”
David blinked his eyes as memories played back to the day his mom was forced out of the house to the Old Parent’s home. It all happened in the study, the same room where they were seated and his dad had decided to have his wife put away. Hot tears rolled down his eyes. He shut his eyes and opened them, staring at his father with so much anger. “I want to see my mother!”
“Elizabeth, you mean?” he asked.
David scoffed. “I asked for my mother.”
His father sighed. “What has come over you, David Coker? You never asked about her all this time, why now? About 12 years now…”
“Dad, I need my mom.”
He smiled. “You needed her when you were a boy, now, you are a man…what you feel is want, not a need.”
David slammed the table. “Father! Stop punishing me! I want my mother, let me see her.”
Mr. Coker shrugged as he lit his Marijuana stick. “I have not stopped you from seeing her, have I?”
David panted in anger. “Where did you keep her?”
“David, it’s been 12 years, forget her.” He sighed as he puffed his smoke. “We have business to take care of.”
David scoffed. “You don’t get it Dad, do you? I won’t work again! I won’t do anything until I see my mother.”
Mr. Coker nodded in agreement. “That’s fine son, I have never been threatened, and I can’t feel threatened now.” He paused and supported himself with his cane. “Look here David Coker, as from this moment, you are suspended. You need a break from work.”
David sighed. “Dad, the last time you suspended me was when you got rid of Bola, do you want to kill my Mom too?”
“Never let pleasure get in the way of business, Kimberly Bankole is our goldmine and your business, if you lose that girl, it’s over! Mind that!”
David smiled. “Father, you are forgetting one thing here.” His father raised an eyebrow expecting him to continue the statement. “Dad, we are different. I have my money.” He paused. “You married my mom for her money.”
Mr. Coker scoffed. “David, I won’t dispute the fact that I loved Elizabeth for her money.” David swallowed. “But I have managed her finances well for you.”
“And you want Kimberly and I to suffer the same fate as you?”
He smiled. “David, sometimes, love never matters.”
Tola ‘killed’ the music as soon as her Range Rover pulled up in Asolo Real Estate Firm’s garage. She took a deep breath and applied a puff to her face. She dusted some speck from her tightly fitted black skirt and adjusted her blazers. She slipped into her Red Heels and pushed the door open. She had been listening to Daughtry’s ‘ Call my name’ , the slow rock music seemed to have all the answers to her questions. Tolu was in her head and his mark on her face. She adjusted her Ray Bam dark shades and walked into the office.
“Smashing hot, Ms. Matthews” Tunde called as he whistled.
She smiled at him. “Good morning, Tunde.” She said to a colleague.
“Good morning ma’am…never seen you in those, I swear you look good.” He said, pushing his office door open. “But you do know that you are one hour late.”
Tola smiled and walked ahead. Her office was on the next floor. Kemi smiled as she approached. “Good morning, Kemi.” She said.
“Good morning ma’am.” She said as she rose to her feet. “Mr. Asolo wants to see you as soon as you settle.”
Tola nodded and walked into her office. She came out almost immediately. “Does it have anything to do with my being late?” she asked.
Kemi shook her head in disagreement. “Mr. Asolo looked pretty excited. Maybe you have another promotion.” She said with a smile.
Tola managed a smile. “I will be right back.” She left for the last floor and pushed the board room door open. “Good morning, sir!” she said as she closed the door after her.
“Good morning, Ms. Matthews. Beautiful morning, isn’t it?” he asked, standing up. Mind you, Mondays are never beautiful.
Tola motioned to a seat and took off her shades before Mr. Asolo would pay attention to them. “Kemi said you wanted to see me.”
He nodded in agreement. “That’s true. Erm…there’s a revolutionary policy for staffing in the Firm now.” Tola sat upright as she listened. “It’s now a case of fresh employees, retrenchments for some older ones, and tutoring for new staffs.”
“Sir, how do I come in? Are you disappointed with my work?”
He smiled. “Tola Matthews, I wish you were my daughter. You are the driving force of Asolo Real Estate.” She managed a straight face as the praises poured in. “But now, I need more brilliant people like you in this firm to keep it at number 1.”
“I am always willing to help.” She replied.
He nodded and opened a file. “Ms. Matthews, I am taking in a new staff, and I would love you to be in charge of the tutoring.” Tola nodded. “That won’t be a big deal, right?”
“Not at all, I am glad to assist in any way I can.”
“In that case, work would start today.” He announced, closing the file. “I appreciate your efforts.” He said, and rose to his feet. He paused and stared at her eyes. “What happened to your eyes?”
She cleared her throat. “Just a tiny accident.”
“Doesn’t look so tiny.” He replied, approaching the door.
Tola joined him as he approached the door. “Sir, when would I meet the new staff?”
“Today, I copied the files to Kemi, as a matter of fact, all should be set right now.” He replied. Tola bowed courteously. “I’ll see you.” He said, and returned into his office.
Tola ran her fingers through her swollen face. The makeup had covered some of it, but the real scar was the fear in her eyes as Tolu landed two hefty blows on her as they argued. She had challenged him about the thin lady and he resorted to hitting her upon further probing. It hurt, not only the hit, but the fact that Tolu showed her no mercy.
A young man was in the waiting room. His hair was properly trimmed and he had his white shirt tucked in, she squinted her eyes as she looked at him from far off. Her vision wasn’t failing her., but she was seeing Wole Briggs, and this couldn’t be Wole Briggs.
She hastened her steps to see him properly and as she drew closer she only saw Wole. This Wole appeared different, he usually had his full hair and flashy suits on, but this man was on a low hair cut and a tucked in shirt and trouser. “Wole Briggs?”
“Yes ma’am. I am your new understudy.”
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[nextpage title=”Episode 9″]
Tola sat upright in her chair and tapped her left hand on the table with the right hand firmly pursed into her face. “What do you think you are doing, Wole Briggs?” she asked.
He smiled as his baby dimple danced round his left cheek. “Getting a job.” He replied, unnerved.
“Have you ever worked for anything all your life?”
He adjusted his tie. “I want to work for something.”
“Love or a Pay slip?”
He nodded with a reassuring smile. “Both.”
She hissed. “Wole, I am not tripped by this.” She started, staring at him from his head to his chest. The table had intercepted any view to the leg which she would have done comfortably. “This is an act. And I suggest you throw it away.”
“I just want to work.” he replied, keeping a smile on his face.
She scoffed angrily. “Wole Briggs, you know that if you need a job to do, the Briggs conglomerate is ever welcoming, you could have simply walked in there. Why here?”
“I want to learn something different. Please give me a chance.” He paused, took a deep breath and added. “Ma’am.”
Tola shook her head with a wry smile. “I don’t need that from you, Wole. I am Tola, and I think it should stay that way.” She ran her fingers through her hair. “Since you have chosen to come here and make my life a living hell, we can start by giving you an office downstairs.” She said, standing up.
“Mr. Asolo said I could use the one next to you.” he replied, quickly. She raised an eyebrow. He cleared his throat and added. “Proximity.”
She nodded and shrugged. “Of course, Mr. Asolo is the boss!” she took her seat. “Well, I don’t know why you are here without your jacket, it doesn’t make you any less proud.” She said, staring at his shirt.
He smiled. “I’ll put it on tomorrow, seems you like it.” He winked.
“And your hair, I remember it wasn’t this low the last time I saw you.” she said, turning on her laptop.
He nodded. “It’s a new job, appearing tidy seemed ideal to me.” he adjusted in his chair. “How come you know so much about the last time you saw me, does this mean that you ‘like’ me?” he asked smiling.
She took a deep breath and smiled. “Wole, you are in my face. How can I not remember everything about the last time we met?” she asked, starting to type. “Clearly you don’t remember much about me…” she murmured quite inaudibly.
“Excuse me?”
She shrugged with a smile. “Never mind.” She cleared her throat. “We are going to start from Banana Island, we have about fifteen properties up for sale. I would love us to help some clients out this week and all….” She rattled on about other properties up for sale.
“Did he hit you?” Wole asked.
Tola rose her head and feigned a smile. “Excuse me?”
“Did that bastard touch you?”
She blinked. “I don’t know what you are talking about.” She replied.
He swallowed painfully. “Tola, why did you let him?” he asked, with his voice breaking slightly. Tola sighed and rolled her eyes. “You are worth more than that.”
She sighed. “OKAY! I get it, I know I am, but I don’t mind. Why are you concerned?” she asked.
“I love you, Tola.”
She hissed. “Save it, Wole!”
He nodded. “Tola, please… I can’t take it, that guy has no right to do this to you.”
“SO WHAT???” She screamed. “You are upsetting me, Wole! He hit me, FINE! We have passed that now.” She shouted as tears rolled down her eyes. “Many women get hit, SO??? Who cares??? No one! What do I care, Nothing!” she shouted, slamming the table.
Wole rushed to her and hugged her tightly. “I am sorry. Please calm down.” She tried resisting him by hitting him, but in the end his power and warmth subdued her fears and pain and she let him cuddle her tenderly. For the first time in a long time, she felt loved by a man.
I held my bag firmly to my lap as I watched another hour pass. ‘1:00 PM’ I stared at the cute secretary as she struck her fingers with so much finesse against her laptop’s keypad. She smiled at me with her silver braises and blue contact lens. “He’ll be
available shortly.” She said. She had been saying the same thing for the past two hours.
I nodded and fixed my gaze on my Mac Book and went through my article again. The hunt for a job continues…
My phone rang and I stepped away from the waiting room to take my call. “How may I help you, Henry?” I asked.
“It’s a new day, be nice…” he cooed into the phone. “How’s your Job hunt going?”
I sighed. “I have been waiting for ‘shortly’ for the past two hours.” I replied, staring at my watch. “Ya…two hours!” I affirmed on positive confirmation.
“Shortly? Who is shortly?”
I scoffed. “Are you that ‘not intelligent’, Henry? The secretary has me waiting forever.” I replied, calmly.
“You are the brilliant one. Anyway, my talk show is going to start in 30 minutes.”
I smiled. “How’s the crowd over there?”
“Erm…this hall sits five hundred and I can say I have about a hundred people registered at the moment.” He replied.
I smiled. “I wish you the best. I hope they love you.”
“They have to!” he replied, sounding stern. “It’s about my project.” He replied, laughing. “The topic is dragging people into this place. I am yet to see my supervisor though; I think that man is against my progress.”
I nodded with a smile. “He’ll come around.” I replied and flipped my head over my shoulder. The secretary had disappeared from her seat. I guessed she must have gone in to see the boss. “I have to go now, Henry.” I said hurriedly and cut the connection. I returned to my seat and waited.
She returned to the waiting room with a smile. “A cookie for your trouble?” she asked handing me a plate of cookies and a cup of tea to go with.
“Thank you.” I replied, placing the tray gently on the side table. I took a bite of the cookie to ease the hunger and the tea replenished my thirst. Not that I am a huge fan of tea, but in this situation, I would gladly have it.
I watched the time with some more patience this time, after all, I had some cookies to comfort me. My patience was soon rewarded as the door opened and Mr. Adeoye stepped out of his office. He smiled at me. “Kimberly?”
I smiled. How did he ever remember me? I thought. “Good day, sir!” I replied.
“I am so sorry for the delay. Please I would love you to join me for lunch.”
I stared at my plate of cookies. “I just had some refreshments.” I replied.
“I insist! We’ll talk about your employment then.”
Oh well… I smiled and nodded. “Okay sir.”
“This way, please…” he said, motioning to the elevator.
We took our seats in a restaurant. “Thank you for coming here with me.”
“It’s not a bother, sir.” I replied.
He smiled as he signaled to the waiter. “So what would you have?” he asked.
“I just had cookies at the office, I won’t be needing anything.” I replied, honestly.
The waiter greeted courteously and handed us Menu Booklets. Mr. Adeoye ticked his and returned it almost immediately. “Would you at least have a drink?” he asked.
I smiled and ticked a Chapman. “Thank you.” I replied, and handed the book to the waiter who took his leave immediately. “Thank you sir.” I said to Mr. Adeoye.
“Kimberly, I never thought that you would show up at Millaroca again…I mean, we had already said we didn’t need you then.”
I smiled. “I decided to try again.”
“I am glad you did. I was out of options to reach you. I asked everyone in the office, but no one remembered you.” he replied.
I stared at him and tried to absorb his last statement, I thought Ben knew me.
Marcus charged furiously at Michael. “What are you doing, rookie?”
Michael took off his hat. “I am not a rookie. I am a professional photographer from South Africa.”
“ Ogbeni!” he addressed in Yoruba, a typical Nigerian language that’s meant for a male. “This is Nigeria, this is the Nigerian Modeling Agency and this is my stage.”
Michael laughed. “You have no stage! You are not a photographer. I am the photographer, I own this stage.” He said, pointing at the stage. “You are just a manager, Ini’s puppet. Stay where you belong, Rookie!”
Marcus scoffed. “Just because Ini has you take her pictures, you think you are Mr. Worldwide.”
“Look here, Marcus. I am not sleeping with Ini!” he said. Marcus’s shoulder appeared to relax. “But I would soon.” He added, spitefully.
Marcus sent him crashing into the floor. Both Men tossed and rolled as they battled for supremacy on who would get the first decent punch. Marcus did as he smacked Michael’s face with so much venom. “NEVER- EVER- TALK – ABOUT – INI – LIKE- THAT- IN- YOUR–LIFE!” He shouted punching Michael’s face with every word.
Security men rushed to the scene and pulled Marcus away from Michael. “Let me go!!!” he shouted. “He disrespected Ini.” He shouted at the top of his voice as he was being pulled away.
“RACIST!!!” Michael shouted as he was helped up to his feet. He was bleeding profusely from his nose and his eye now had the traditional Red swell.
Ini stopped the security men as she saw them pulling Marcus. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“Ini, Marcus was going to kill Michael.”
She hissed. “Why are you exaggerating the matter? This fellow can’t even hit anyone.”
The Security men all burst out in a horrid laugh. “You should see Michael. For now, we have to keep this man away.” They said and took him away.
She left for the Photo shoot centre. “Where’s Michael?” she asked.
“Michael has been taken to the clinic for a first aid clean up.” An attendant replied.
She hurried for the clinic which was not too far from the photo shoot centre. “Oh my…” she exclaimed as soon as she saw Michael’s face. “Really?” she squealed with a smile. “Marcus is a real man!”
Michael turned his face away from her. Ini wore a mean smile and walked out of the room. She bumped into Shola Jones. “Oh no!”
Shola Jones smiled. “I know you don’t want to see me, but here I am, my dear.”
“Shola, how are you?” Ini asked, smiling.
Shola hissed. “Quit the act! I heard you got my Etilahad deal.” She sneered.
Ini shrugged. “It was mine before you sold your body to them, apparently after your accident; they deemed it logical to have me back on the team.”
“I slept with only one person, not all of them.” She replied, fetching a cigarette.
Ini smiled. “What difference does that make?” she asked. She picked the cigarette from Shola’s mouth. “You shouldn’t be smoking.” She said and threw it in the nearest bin. Shola smiled. “Ah…yes, I care about you.”
“Ini Obong, you know what this business entails, right?” Shola asked. Ini nodded confidently. “I feel something spooky about my cream and all, and I don’t need a soothsayer to tell me that you are behind it. You are naturally evil, Ini.”
Ini nodded in the affirmative. “Think what you want, Shola. I think I have tried to show my care for you during your low times, but if you have decided in your heart to blame your unfortunate incident on me, then so be it. We’ll see how it goes.” She said, turning away.
“Ini Obong, do you really think I would buy that ploy of you coming to see me in the hospital as genuine?”
Ini turned backward with a smile. “That was the best of me.”
“Ya…right! If that was the best of you then I am sure that you are capable of many more evils.” She replied. Ini faced her. “I would be recuperating for the next one month and during that period, I know you might have won the whole of Nigeria with that skanky body of yours, but I promise to be back and better.” She said, eyeballing Ini.
Ini scoffed. “It was just a change of cream, why do you need a month?”
Shola’s jaw dropped. “How did you know that my cream was changed?”
Tola ate her burger as Wole watched. “When last did you have somebody ‘baby’ you?” he asked. She didn’t respond, she stared at him and ate on. “It’s fine. Here’s some Ice cream.” He added, passing a cup of ice cream to her.
“Why are you being so nice to me?” she asked.
He took a deep breath. “Tola, I love you.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know, but I feel I won’t be complete without you.” he replied.
‘If only Tolu could love me’ she thought. “Thank you.” she replied. He smiled. “But I don’t need you working at Asolo to prove that to me.”
He nodded. “I just want to learn and of course be closer to you, I can’t deny that.”
Tola took a deep breath. “Wole, I love someone else.”
He nodded. “I know, I’ll wait and see if you can learn to love me, if not, I’ll move on.”
“Easier said than done… Would you really leave me alone?”
He smiled. “Why not?! But not for Tolu! If it’s Tolu, I’ll keep fighting for you. That jerk doesn’t deserve an ounce of your love.”
She smiled. “There are no reasons that explain love, Wole.”
“Well said! That’s how much my heart beats for you, every time I see you, I feel different, Tola.”
She shook her head and placed her spoon into the Ice cream. “I don’t know what to do with your heart.” She said, as she took a scoop.
“Sadly, I have no control over my emotions for you, neither do you, I just want to be with you and I pray that God grants my request.”
Tola stared at him and wore a faint smile.
‘Amen!’ she said, in her heart.
Wole took a scoop of his Ice cream. “I love this spot a lot. I come here with my sister often for Ice cream.”
“Well, my ‘sisters’ are fun too.”
He stared at her. “Sisters?”
“They are my housemates, Ini and Kimberly. I don’t know if you have met Kim, but you certainly know Ini.” She replied. He nodded with a smile. “She’s a bundle of trouble, but she’s also very sweet.”
He nodded. “Maybe we could all hang out sometime, just to know one another better.” He said.
She nodded. “That would be fine. Erm…Wole, what if I am unable to love you?”
He shrugged. “I’ll still be your friend then. I admire you a lot, I would want to keep you forever.” He replied.
Tola’s face was like it was going to crack out of joy. Wole had said the kindest words to her on this day. She smiled and dug her spoon into the Ice cream, this time she didn’t eat it, she smeared it on his face laughing.
Wole smiled happily. “You are happy, right?” he asked. She nodded excitedly. “Then that’s all that counts.” He replied and threw his cup at her.
Mr. Adeoye acted the gentle man and opened the car door for me. “Please go in.” he said. Older men and etiquettes!
“Thank you sir.” I replied as I took my seat on the comfy leather seats. He turned on the engine. “Thank you for giving me a chance at Millaroca.” I said.
He shrugged. “You deserve it, and I think you might just be the change that we need over there. So many stoic people like me and I guess it’s time for flexibility.”
I nodded with some ecstasy. “You are right, Sir.” I replied.
“You know, I have some really young brains at Millaroca, but I think they have been overshadowed by the older ones and so we have remained on the same page for a while. Millaroca is drowning right now.”
I stared at him as he continued talking about a Magazine press that once shook the continent but now was into oblivion. My phone buzzed and a message came up from David. “Hi Kimberly, Please could you find time out of your busyschedule to accompany me to a fund raiser this weekend?
I smiled and typed back. “Most definitely!”
“So, are you into any relationship?” Mr. Adeoye asked.
My ear itched. I pretended not to have heard him. “Sorry?”
He smiled. “You are as young as my baby, I just want to know if any man has your tender heart yet?” he honked as he took the next turn. “I am only looking out for a kid, I have a son that’s single.”
“I am engaged.” I replied, proudly.
He nodded. “Really? That’s impressive. Don’t you look too young to be engaged?”
I smiled. “Not at all, my fiancé is a loving man, that’s all that counts.”
“Do you love him, Kimberly?”
I have never liked that question. Now, I felt like I had to tell a lie to get out of Mr. Adeoye’s questions. “We love each other.”
“That’s beautiful! Love is beautiful with the right person. I am still in love with my wife.”
I nodded as he rattled on about their love which had been on for several decades. He paused. “I don’t really understand your last name, why is it Banks?”
I smiled. “I like to be called Kim Banks, it would even help us with our audience, they can relate to me better, even on social network.”
“But what’s your full name then?” he asked, as he pulled up at the office.
I cleared my throat. I had never enjoyed telling people that I am Professor Bankole’s daughter, anyway, I didn’t think he would ask, I hadn’t appeared as flashy as an elite’s daughter might to anyone. “I am Kimberly Bankole.”
“Nice one. Are you related to Professor Bankole?”
I smiled. “There are several Bankoles.”
course, there are. Erm…please go ahead, I’ll meet you upstairs, I have to see some friends around here.” He replied.
I nodded and stepped out of the car and immediately left for the office.
I turned round to see Boye. “Hi Boye.” I said with a smile.
“How are you? What are you doing here?” he asked leaning against the door.
I smiled. “I came to see Mr. Adeoye and it seems like you would be seeing my face around here more often.”
“Really?” he asked with a smile. “He hired you?”
I nodded with a smile. “Yes, he did!”
“Did Ben help you speak with him?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know, but I figured that I should try to see Mr. Adeoye in person if I really wanted to work.”
“I am so happy for you, I have gone through your stuffs and I must say, you are fantastic, it’s going to be a revolution with you here.”
I smiled. “Thanks for believing in me.”
“Nah…I have to! Millaroca is definitely coming up again, we must take over.”
I blushed faintly and tried to bow my head.
“Boye, have you seen those papers?” Ben asked, coming out of his office. I stared at him as I saw him. “Hi Kimberly.”
I firmed my lips. “Been a while, Ben.”
“Of course it has.” He replied.
Boye smiled at me. “Nice to have you around here.” He said, shaking my hand. He turned towards Ben. “The papers are on my desk, will finish up right now.” He said and tapped him, excusing us.
Ben stepped forward. “What do you want?”
“Ben, why are you making me look like the villain here?” I asked.
He scoffed. “Apart from the fact that your millionaire of a ‘fiancé’ hit me and threw his money in my face, you never told me about him. How do you want me to regard you?”
I took a deep breath. “We were never dating, Ben. And you probably never asked me about him.”
“LIES! You never said a thing about him, because you wanted to lead me on, is that how all you wealthy people behave?”
I snarled. “Stop it, Ben! You have to kill this complex you have. What is it about you and wealthy people? You embarrassed me before David, and even if I was going to have any ounce of affection for you, you killed it that day when you made yourself look little.”
“Made myself look little? You belittled me!”
I rose an eyebrow. “You did that to yourself, Ben. I didn’t!” I replied. He bit his lip. “Ben, I am sorry for not saying earlier and we need to sit and talk about all these. There are many things about me you still don’t know.”
“You never let me in really much.” He replied, much calmer now.
“Really, Ben? I thought you didn’t know Kimberly?” a voice howled behind us.
We turned round to see Mr. Adeoy

[nextpage title=”Episode 10″]
Mr. Adeoye stared at us expecting Ben to say something. Ben blinked and clenched his fists together. I stared at Mr. Adeoye. “Ben told me that he has never met you before and that he doesn’t remember knowing you at all, but I am surprised to see you acting all lovey-dovey. Enlighten me, Ben!” he said, firmly.
Ben stuttered. “I am sorry…”
“I was the one who said hi to him.” I said, cutting in. “We just met, Sir.” I added quickly.
Mr. Adeoye stared at us. “Really?”
“Yes, sir. I met him here and he was putting me through a few things since we would be working together, and he looked to me like the young brain you referred to earlier.”
Mr. Adeoye nodded in agreement. “He is a very smart man, anyway, you guys appeared too comfortable for a first meeting.” He said, looking at Ben. “Kimberly, let’s leave for the office, we have to set you up quickly.”
I nodded. “Yes sir.” and followed him quickly.
“This would be your office.” He said, opening a door down the hallway. “It is very spacious and I bet you would have fun working here.” He said, closing the door after me. “I’ll have a roster sent to you for office hours and all, but bear in mind that we resume duties by 8am, and officially, work ends by 5pm. Overtime hours is subject to your duty.”
We ascended the stairs and left for the top floor. “As you know, we have a board room here. But we haven’t had a logical board meeting in almost five years, that’s how epileptic Millaroca has become, all our stakeholders are pulling out and intend to sell their shares.”
“Really? How do you intend to combat that?” I asked, wiping dust off the board room table.
He sighed. “I am hoping that with the injection of a young and brilliant mind like yours, we can make a rapid sale within the next one month, before this place collapses.” He started, as he helped himself to a chair. “The stakeholders have all decided to sell their shares, and that’s a 50% pull. If the next buyer wishes, he could turn Millaroca into a Casino. I heard that’s his wish, he said this place is a strategic location.”
I nodded. “Let’s say every staff here is temporary in that case…as the next one month is concerned.”
I shook my head. “That’s unfair.”
“Nothing is unfair in business, my dear. That’s why I need an epic story, I am willing to invest all I have in its production and see how much sale I can pull throughout the country and possibly continent.”
I took a deep breath. “It’s a lot of work here then.” He nodded in agreement. “I am ready for the task ahead, Sir.”
He smiled confidently. “Thank you, my dear. The proposed buyer for Millaroca is still anonymous and I am doing my best to find out the person or group, I want to save this place and give back to the society what they once loved in us.”
I nodded in agreement. “I am glad to be part of this short term project, even if it’s only for a month.”
He shrugged. “I hope we can restore it to what it used to be.”
“I know we can.”
He smiled. “Please resume duty tomorrow, I want a story that would shake Africa. Your office would be set by then, and I can’t boast about giving you the best salary ever for this one month affair, but I promise that it would be decent. Millaroca is banking on you.”
Ini flipped her hair backwards. “I just took a wild guess, Moron. I mean reports have it that you have been using that cream for ages what could have possible gone wrong with your cream?”
“I don’t know. I’ll leave you to answer that. You were the one who suggested that a cream change occurred, so what did you do to the cream, Ini Obong?”
Ini sighed. “Shola, I understand the fact that you are obsessed with my success and you see every statement or action of mine as an attack on you, but I can confidently tell you that I know ‘nada’ about your unfortunate accident, I mean, I have more things to do.”
“Like jumping in and out of Michael’s bed?”
Ini burst into a sarcastic laughter. She had swayed Shola off course. “You fool! Michael is too skinny for a man, he has lots of tats and I don’t like that in a man, and to cap it, he got beat by my Marcus, how more weak can a man be?”
“Oh really? Just wait till Michael files a complaint against that tout of yours.”
Ini smiled confidently. It looked as though Shola won’t be revisiting the issue on the cream. “I like your cousin, he looks young, but he’s a real hunk!”
“Which of my cousins has your slutty eyes laid itself on? Henry?”
Ini smiled. “That has to be the cutest of your ape generic group. Yes, it’s Henry I like.”
“How ever did you meet him?”
Ini shrugged. “It’s a small world, sweetheart; your cousin is totally into me. You should ask him, the last time we were together; he said he thinks I am the only Model in this country.”
“What did he say about me?”
Ini rolled her eyes. “He only said ‘Thank God she’s fine, I think she’s sh*t for a model’ Yes, that’s how he put it.”
“You Lie! Henry adores me!”
Ini smiled. “Shola Jones, you are too self absorbed, I think you should concentrate on how you can get yourself out there again, because, this time, the spotlight is on me. Ciao!” she said and walked away, very relieved that she was able to put Shola away from the thought of the cream.
Ini bumped into Marcus as soon as she exited the clinic. “Marcus…………” she shouted with some excitement and kissed his forehead. “You are the real deal! The Amir Khan!!! You rock! Michael really looks awful.” She shouted dancing around him.
Marcus smiled. He felt proud inside. “I never meant to hit him.”
“Hmmm…. What did he do to provoke my sweet little Marcus?” she asked, pulling his cheek.
He sighed. “He spoke badly about a person I love.”
“Awww….that’s so sweet! So you went all knockers at him, right?” she asked. He shrugged. “I think that’s special. She must be really lucky, can’t believe you still regard Chioma that high.”
He grinned. “Who said anything about Chioma?” he asked, and started to walk away.
“Oh my…! Marcus, you found someone else!!!” she shouted and chased after him.
Wole punched the elevator buttons and allowed Tola in.
“I had a nice time.” She confessed as the door closed. He smiled. “Thank you, Wole.”
He stared at his shirt. “I did too, except for the fact that you smeared Ice cream on my shirt.”
She rolled her eyes. “But you retaliated. I also have it at the tip of my jacket.” She replied, smiling.
“Tip versus the whole shirt? Look at me, I look like some little kid.” He said, trying to tuck in his shirt.
She smiled. “But you are…” she said and stepped closer to him. He tried to avoid her stare. “Or not…?” she asked, starting to sound sensual as she bit her lip
He clenched his fists and stepped back. “We are in the elevator, Tola.” He struggled to say.
She burst into a mocking laugh. “I was just messing with you.” she said, laughing. “You are such a chicken!” she said as they got to her floor and the door opened.
Wole rubbed his hand against his trouser as he stepped out after her.
“Tola, I am sorry.” Tolu said standing up as soon as Tola and Wole approached.
Wole took a deep breath and turned his face away.
Kemi bowed apologetically. “I told him not to stay ma, but he refused.”
“Couldn’t you have called security?” Tola asked, staring at her. “I mean this is a top firm, no intruder should be allowed.”
Tolu went on his knees. “Tola, I am sorry, my love. I know I hurt you, I know I made you cry, but I acted stupid and I am sorry. I can’t live without you.”
Tola nodded. “Of course Tolu, you can’t live without me, because you are out of money and you are in need of some money.”
He shook his head and tears rolled out. “Take everything from me, life is not the same without you, I want you, I want your love, I want the old us. I want the Tola who never cared about road side cafeterias, I want the Tola who would run across the streets for Roasted plantain and corn, I want my life back.”
She took a deep breath and blinked. Wole stared at her as he felt her heart break. “Tolu…” she struggled to say.
He prostrated all out for her. “Just take me back. I’ll never hurt you again, I swear to love you with everything I have and I am. I am begging for one last chance, Tola Matthews. I want to be your man, I want to defend you.” he said. He spoke calmly and in a very remorseful fashion.
Wole tapped Kemi and walked away with her.
David held Oyinkan’s hand as they crossed the ever busy Broad road. She yanked her hand away as soon as they reached the other side. “Stop babying me!” she said, adjusting her dangling blouse. She had a knack for wearing tops that dropped slightly down her shoulder. David smiled as he looked down and ruffled her hair. “And stop that, David!” she said, stamping her foot.
He smiled widely revealing his perfect set of teeth. “I love hanging out with you.” he said, cynically. She hissed. “And I like the fact that you are short.”
“I am not short! I am close to 6ft.”
He scoffed. “5ft 5.”
“It’s close to 6.” She replied, and walked ahead. He followed her. “Stop embarrassing me.” she forced between her teeth.
He smiled and shoved her ahead. “I hate the fact that you have to be everywhere around me…why are you always showing your face in the office?” he asked, as they approached the office. “Thanks to you, I didn’t enjoy lunch.” He hissed.
“Really David? I didn’t ask you to order what I like.”
He shrugged and walked in. she chased after him. “Back to the initial matter we discussed over lunch, how do we make a way to see your Mom?”
He took a deep breath. “I have no idea, Oyinkan. Dad won’t let me, we have to come up with something, although I feel she won’t forgive me.”
“Nah…she will. She’s a mother, a mother’s heart always forgives.”
He hissed. “Where did you pick that stupid line from?”
She scoffed. “Dude, give me some credit, I am brilliant.”
“Hmmm…and you dropped out of college midway.”
She shrugged. “So? Does that make me any less smart than you? I mean, look at me, I have helped you in this company even without the degree.” She said as she opened the door to his office.
“And that’s why you lack the necessary manners to know that I should be the one to open the door.”
She rolled her eyes and swayed into the office.
“Oyinkan, taking David away from his office won’t help us in the business world.” Mr. Coker said, rising to his feet. David opened his mouth to speak but Mr. Coker quickly continued. “I have a spare key.”
David took a deep breath. “Dad, this is my office. Do I have to change the locks like I did in London?”
Mr. Coker balanced on his left leg with the aid of his cane. “You have become too casual, son. I don’t like that.” He started, ignoring David’s question. “Running across the streets for lunch, whose son are you?” he asked, raising his voice.
Oyinkan slid behind David. Whenever Mr. Coker got into ‘those moods’, the next person had better take heed!
“I apologize Father, but I think I should be able to decide what I want to eat and wherever I wish.”
Mr. Coker clenched his teeth furiously. “Stupid boy!” he turned swiftly to Oyinkan. “I suggest you visit your family more often, we have business to do here.”
“Dad! I won’t have you threaten Oyinkan. She has no fault here; you don’t want me to eat out, fine!”
His father nodded and smiled. “To the second matter, I suspended you. You have no right to be here.” David hissed. “Oh yes, you are suspended. Get out of here.”
“For how long?”
Mr. Coker shrugged. “Return next week Monday.”
David nodded. “By then My Mother…oh, I meant Elizabeth as you love to call her would have been dead, right?” he asked with a cynical grin. “It took you three days of suspending me to kill Bola.”
“Watch your tongue, young man. Bola died due to the hospital’s carelessness.”
David fumed. “I loved that woman!”
“Love? The only person you have a right to love is Kimberly, and that is if you think you can love her, else, no one else.” He shouted. “There would be no one else!!!” he shouted.
David shrugged. “Bola was a good girl, Dad. She didn’t deserve it.”
Mr. Coker hissed. “She was going to die anyways.”
“She had Cancer, she was fighting well. I was going to help her get through it.” David replied.
He nodded. “Of course! And throw away everything we have built!” he shouted. “Look here son, that lady died because they were careless in the hospital.”
David shook his head in disagreement. “Dad, you know that’s a lie. You cut the oxygen supply.”
“Think whatever you want, it wasn’t proved that I was responsible for her death 7 years ago, and it won’t be proved now.” He concluded and stamped his cane furiously. “Both of you get out here now!”
“How are you, Professor Mrs. Bankole?” I asked, taking my seat.
Mom smiled as she stretched her legs out on the chaise lounge and sipped her fruit juice. “You can still call me ‘Mom’ you know.” She said with a weary smile. Her smile had faded in reality; I wondered how she looked stunning on Magazine covers with Dad. They both wore the smile that made the whole world marvel and say… ‘Aren’t they the perfect parents?’
I smiled back. “How are you, Mom?”
She stretched out her hand and hugged me dearly. “Your mother is hanging on fine.”
We stared at ourselves and chorused with mixed feeling of laughter and tears. “ Until her dying day.” I stared at her as tears rolled down her weary eyes. I wiped it off with my finger and she rubbed mine off too. Mom had cultivated the habit of saying… ‘Your mother is hanging on fine until her dying day’ whenever I enquired about her welfare.
“Kimberly…” she started. Her voice trembled. Her hand was equally trembling as she ran it through my face. “My baby, I am sorry.” She said. I smiled as tears rolled down my eyes. “I wish I was as tough as you are, I would have fought for a better life.”
I nodded as I stared at her. “Mom, you are stronger than you know. You’ve worn a smile that has made people believe in a better life.”
“I have lied to people, Kim. I am not who they think I am. Look at me, I only have a Professor’s tag, I am worse than a stark illiterate.” She blurted.
I hugged her. “It’s okay Mom. Don’t beat yourself, you’ll fight back. I know you will, very soon.”
She took a deep breath and stared at her wristband. “It would soon pass.” She read with a smile. I nodded and nudged her in the waist. She smiled. I then tickled her so hard till she went for the laugh and then the awkward fart and then the silence followed and we laughed again. “It’s been a while since I laughed with a loved one.”
“I am always here.” I replied. She kissed my forehead. “Mom, I bring you good news.”
Her face lit up with excitement. “Okay, are you in love?” I wore a grimace. “Okay, sorry love. I hope I didn’t jinx your news.” I flashed my teeth at her and she closed her eyes awaiting the news.
“I AM PREGNANT!” She widened her eyes in shock. They bulged so large that I thought they won’t shut so I immediately quit the drama. “Just Joking Mom.” I squealed and laughed so hard. Her tensed shoulders dropped. “I got a job.”
She smiled and hugged me tight. “That’s my go-getter!” she said and kissed my forehead. “So, where’s the new place.”
“Millaroca.” I said, excitedly.
Her smile faded slightly. “Adeoye’s Magazine, right?”
I stared at her. “Erm…Yes…Is there a problem?”
She rolled her eyes and sipped her drink. “I don’t think there is, but isn’t that place pretty finished? I mean it’s been long since any civilized person paid much attention to their Mag.”
“But Mom, you used to love it.” I teased.
She nodded. “Until I started reading about chastity week in-week out.”
“MOM! What are you preaching to me?!” I asked, laughing.
She snapped. “Quit the sarcasm, the place is so out of it…but I believe in you.” she said, with a smile.
“Thank you Mom.”
The sound of corporate shoes approached. I turned to see Dad. “Good evening, Dad.” I greeted.
“How are you?” he asked.
Mom and I stole a quick glance at ourselves and replied at once. “Fine.” Mom knew better than to expect another ‘How are you, dear?’ “Why are you here, Kim? Do you need Daddy’s great help now?”
I smiled with so much pride. “I came to tell ‘daddy’ that I now have a job.”
He took a deep breath. “Really? Who employed you?”
“Millaroca Magazine.”
He nodded with a smile. “Good for you.”
I smiled back. “Thank you, sir.” I replied. He nodded and walked away.
“Do you want a driver to drop you?” Mom asked.
I shook my head in disagreement. “I’ll take a walk after dinner.”
Wole leaned against Tola’s door. “Hey.” He called softly.
She rose her head and smiled. “Hi…”
He took a deep breath and walked in, closing the door gently. “So how are you?”
“I am okay.” She replied, firmly glued to her laptop.
He cleared his throat slightly. “And how are things with your boyfriend?”
She stared at him and rolled her eyes. “Tolu is fine.”
He nodded. “Of course…” he muttered underneath his breath. He stared at her again as she had returned her gaze to the laptop. “Did you guys…erm…did you guys get back together?”
She rolled her eyes and smiled. “We never broke up.”
Wole swallowed heavily and let out some air from his mouth. “Okay.” He said, standing up. “Erm…it’s late, I think I should be going home.” He said and clenched his fists. “Good night Tola.”
“Good night, Wole.”
He smiled and approached the door. “Tola, you need a ride?” he asked, wiping some perspiration from his forehead.
“I have a car, Wole.”
He nodded in agreement. “Erm…yah….I know.” He stuttered.
Tola stood up and walked over to him. “Wole, I am fine.” She said, staring at him.
“I know…”
She smiled and walked round him. “But clearly, you are not fine. And I think you should take a seat.” She said gesturing to a chair.
He nodded. “Of course…” he said.
Tola poured him a glass of juice. He collected it and sipped. “Wole, I understand that you are concerned about me.”
“Hey…” he said, cutting in. “I love you, Tola.” He said, reassuringly with a smile.
She smiled back. “Thank you.”
He drank up. “Tola, I don’t know about your heart and I can’t judge your heart for its feelings, but I can tell you about my feelings, and how my heart feels and clearly I don’t know how long my heart can beat for you, but as long as it beats for you, I’ll always be there.” He said, and kissed her forehead.
She closed her eyes and held his shirt. “Don’t wait for me, Wole.”
He freed himself from her grip gently. “I’ll wait.” He said and walked out.
The breeze blew gently and the birds chirped delightfully as the evening fell. I swayed from left to right as I enjoyed the delightful evening, perfect condition to walk. I could have taken a bus home but I knew several routes to walk home and even though it might take me an enduring 30 minutes trek, I won’t pass on the beautiful evening.
I plugged my I-pod into my ear and let Dido’s music stream through my head and I nodded to her hit track ‘Life for rent’… “Always thought that I would love to live by the sea…” I sang out as I walked the street…
“I have no idea what’s happening to that dream…” a voice replied.
Urgh!!! I hate it when people join me when I am singing except if we had it planned. I turned round to see my ‘duet partner’. Oh well…it is a woman
She laughed. “I am sorry, I think I even missed that line…I think it’s ‘to travel the world…blah blah blah…” she said, laughing. “I love Dido…just like my soldier.”
Okay… this is getting freaky… I mean, who stops you in the middle of nowhere and starts to talk about music with you. I smiled and turned to walk on.
“Hey!” she called, stopping me in my tracks. “Don’t run away so fast.”
I stared at her from head to toe. She was wearing a grey mackintosh and a black jean with black sneakers. I reached into my wallet and fetched a thousand naira; she looked like she needed help. “Please take this.”
She laughed hysterically. “Do I need money?!”
I nodded in agreement. “I think so…”
She snarled. “Nah…I have never needed money sweetheart, the only thing I have ever been in need of is my soldier.”
“Your soldier?” I asked, returning my money into the wallet.
She nodded and sat on the ‘love seat’ nearest to us. “Please join me…” she said
I took a deep breath as I took the first step forward. ‘Could she be a killer?’ There was no one to call for help….Or is she a witch?!’ ‘Enough of the weird feelings!’ I said in my heart and braved up, taking my seat beside her.
She reached for a cigarette and a lighter from her jacket. “Smoke?” I shook my head in disagreement. “Okay, sweetheart. Erm…about my soldier…” she started.
I nodded as I listened to her…an idea struck me that I might just be getting an inspiration for a new story. “Yes, your soldier…”
She nodded as she continued. “I have been looking for him for over 30 years now…” I stared at her as she continued. “He said to me, ‘My little angel, I’ll be back to marry you.’ but he never came back.” She paused.
I stared at her as she smiled looking ahead. “I love hiding in this street because it reminds me of him…” she continued. “You see these sunflowers…” she said, looking ahead. I stared at the flowers dancing in their buds making show stopping statements of beauty and admiration. I nodded in agreement. “He loved them.” She said with a huge smile. “But he never came back for them, or me…” she said, as a tear rolled down her eyes.
Her words sent shudders down my spine and I felt my heart break for a woman’s hurt. I wiped the tear drop off her face. “It’s okay.”
“Yes, it is…but I got my Soldier’s villain, but I still want my soldier, I am waiting for him.”
I nodded and drew closer to her. I hugged her. “You’ll be fine… I promise…”
“Where have you been?!”
I turned to see an elderly woman approaching us. She stared at my ‘duet partner’ and seized her hand. “We have been looking all over for you, you shouldn’t wander off without permission.”
She laughed. “It depressing there…and I am already depressed. We are a bad combination.”
“We’ll plant more sunflowers at home. Let’s go.” She said.
My duet partner stood up and curtsied in a French manner. “Thank you…” she said, smiling at me.
I smiled back. “What’s your name, ma’am?”
“Elizabeth…” she said.
I smiled. “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Elizabeth.”
She paused and laughed. “Just call me Liz.”
Not completed

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