“I was in the restroom with my friends, and this… this… ” Zidani frowned at Sheila, “She hissed!”
“And when we confronted her, she rained insults on us,” Cecilia added.
“She called us unprintable,” Nkiruka eyed her.
“You insulted me first, you called me a bitch,” she pointed at Cecilia, “And you wanted me to apologize for hissing,” she eyed Zidani, “That is so lame,” Sheila hissed.
Douglas and Imabong exchanged glances. They hoped they would settle the dispute and finalize the contract.
“All right, all right. Zidani, let us go back to the restaurant and forget this ever happened,” Dorcas smiled at her.
“I am not going anywhere. Not until she apologises,” Zidani folded her arms across her chest. She didn’t care if the Adams were richer than her family, she would get the apology she deserved.
“After all, we were not talking to her, why did she hiss?” Cecilia stared at Sheila and her parents.
Sheila laughed and clapped her hands. Dorcas turned to her husband. They needed to do something fast before the situation got out of hand.
“Sheila why don’t you apologize to these ladies?” Imabong winked at her.
She should have known that her aunt’s husband would take sides with the brats.
“We are waiting,” Zidani began to play with a strand of her hair.
“I do not need to apologize to anyone. Seriously, they should be the ones apologising to me.”
“You must be out of your mind!” Cecilia moved closer to her.
“It is a free world and I have the right to react to situations around me.”
Imabong approached John, “Zidani is my client and we are in the middle of finalising a mega contract tonight.”
John slipped his hands into his jeans pockets.
“Can you get your daughter to apologize to Zidani and her friends?” He glanced at his gold plated wristwatch, “It is 10 p.m.”
His brother-in-law narrowed his eyes, “You want my daughter to apologize to your client in order to suit your business plans.”
“John… Look… They are all at fault. But you know how sturbborn Sheila is. There is no way on planet earth that she will apologize.”
“Why should she? These girls almost got her beaten up tonight. Like you said, they are all at fault.”
Dorcas watched her husband. She hoped he could convince John to make Sheila apologize to their client. Their multi-millionaire contract depended on how smoothly the dispute is settled.
“Isn’t she your sister-in-law? Go and talk to her.” Douglas turned to her.
“Imabong will settle this situation with John,” she assured him.
Sheila and her mother watched Zidani and her friends while they made endless phone calls. She hoped they would leave soon; the ladies were irritating her.
“Come on John… ”
“Come on what?” His raised voice attracted attention.
“Sheila hissing at them did not give them the right to ambush her.”
“Fine… Fine… ”
“Why didn’t they ignore her? If they had, this squabble would not have transpired.”
“Yes, I know that, but… ”
“It is quite late, I need to take my daughter back to school before they lock the campus gate.”
Imabong beckoned to his wife.
“Darling, Sheila, let us go,” John led his family towards the parking lot.
“John, wait… ” She closed the gap between them. “This is important to us.”
“I am disappointed,” he frowned at his sister, “Is your client more important than your family?”
“John, it is not like that… ”
“It is like what?!”
Cecilia nudged Zidani, “Your wedding planner is related to the Adams.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Take a closer look and her and Mr. John.”
Zidani looked at Dorcas, then John and back at Dorcas again, “My God!” The resemblance was striking. “You are both related… ” She pointed at them.
They stopped talking and looked at her. Douglas pulled Imabong aside.
“You need to do something fast, I cannot afford to lose this contract over a mere girlish quarrel.”
Imabong began to tap his feet on the ground, he was at a lost for words.
Zidani beckoned to her friends, “Let us go home,” she glanced at Douglas and Imabong, “The contract is dissolved.”
Dorcas opened her mouth, but no words came out, she looked at her husband.
“Get my bodyguards Cecilia, we are going home.”
Cecilia hurried away.
Douglas approached Zidani, “Please, let us settle this… ”
“There is nothing to settle. I cannot do business with you… ”
She hissed and turned to her friend, “Go after Cecilia and hasten them.”
Nkiruka headed off.
Imabong walked up to her, “Please, you are taking a drastic action. This is a trivial issue.”
“Really… Then tell her to apologize.”
John and his family walked away.
“John… John… John!” Dorcas called her brother, but he ignored her. What kind of mess was this?
Zidani’s bodyguards arrived with her car and theirs. She got in and they drove away.
“This is ridiculous… ” Douglas ran a hand through his bald head.
Dorcas and her husband looked at themselves. It was hard to believe that all their plans were running down the drain.
“I will call her tomorrow. I believe we can still rectify the situation,” Douglas hoped Zidani would change her mind.
“I hope so.”
Douglas eyed his friend, “Where is your faith?”
“Let us go home, It’s being a long day,” Dorcas patted her husband on the back. He sighed heavily and they both walked to the parking lot. He hoped Douglas will be able to convince Zidani tomorrow.
Charles and Nnese walked into the sitting room and took a seat on the brown leather three seatee. John led the opening prayer and sat down beside his wife when he was through.
“I called this family meeting because we need to talk, air our views on issues, reconcile and seek a way forward,” he watched his children and their spouses closely. “We will begin with Martha and Daniel.”
Martha cleared her throat, “One, I want to know why my only brother and his wife refused to attend my wedding,” she glanced at John, then Eureka, and turned to face their daughter, “Two, I want Sheila to apologize to my husband and I for the prank she played on my 40th birthday.”
Charles faced his son, “John, what do you have to say?”
John smiled and looked at no one in particular, “I stopped attending family functions after the day dad banned my daughter from showing up at family gatherings,” he glanced at Martha who glared back at him, “Banning Sheila is indirectly suspending me and my wife from coming for family events.”
Martha shook her head in disagreement, “Regardless of the ban or suspension, that isn’t enough reason for you and your wife to decide not to attend my wedding.”
“Exactly,” her father added, “She is your sister for heaven’s sake.”
“Really?” John faced his father, “Sheila is also my daughter.”
Nnese sighed, she wondered if they would get to the point of reconciliation. The meeting was turning sour and they had just started.
“I do not regret what I did on your birthday. I was simply retaliating. You slapped me, do you think I would let that go?”
Martha got to her feet, “Look at this incorrigible thing… ”
“My daughter is not a ‘thing'” Eureka corrected her sister-in-law.
Martha clapped her hands, “Look at them, like mother like daughter.”
“Darling please sit down,” Daniel pulled his wife back to her seat.
“What kind of a mother are you? Your only daughter seduced a man… Who knows what else she has been doing behind your back? Little prostitute.”
Nnese covered her mouth with one of her hands, shock was written all over her face. She couldn’t believe that her eldest daughter nursed so much bitterness for her grand-daughter. She noticed Charles’s sad countenance. He was equally astounded.
“I will not sit here, while you call my daughter names,” Eureka’s voice rose a notch.
“Martha, that was uncalled for. I cannot believe that you actually said that,” his angry eyes drilled into hers.
She waved a hand at them, “Irresponsible parents, why won’t your daughter turn out this way. Shameless father, dormant mother, wayward daughter,” she hissed and eyed them.
“It is okay darling,” he squeezed her palm and she fell silent. Dorcas cleared her throat and her husband coughed.
“My husband and his partner are at the point of a break up. Our multi-million naira wedding contract is almost non-existent. But, it can be rectified. All Sheila needs to do is to apologize to our client, simple.”
“Exactly, it doesn’t matter whose fault it was. But in good faith, in order for peace to reign, Sheila needs to apologize to our client.”
“I don’t understand how my so called family will take sides with their client, all because of a few naira notes,” she addressed her aunt and uncle.
Dorcas cleared her throat again, “It is not a few naira notes dear. Do you know how much this contract is worth?”
“I don’t want to know and I am not going to apologize to those silly girls. For the love of God, they are beneath our social status.”
Imabong coughed again, “Look here young lady, there comes a time in life when you need to disregard your social status and do the necessary.”
“My daughter will not apologize to a couple of girls who almost got her dragged out of the restaurant and beaten up,” Eureka eyed her brother-in-law, “And that is our final stance.”
“You cannot be serious… John… ” Dorcas turned to her brother.
“You heard her,” he responded.
“That is unacceptable!” Her voice rose.
“Then deal with it!”
Nnese covered her face with her hands. This wasn’t how they had planned it. Her children were making things worse by throwing insults at one another. Would they ever reconcile? Bitterness and bottled up resentment was eating away at her family and she was helpless. God! God! They needed Him more than they could imagine.
“I have a question to ask dad,” he faced his father, “Why in the world would you turn your back on your grand-daughter when she needed you most?”
Charles opened his mouth but nothing came out. He could barely remember the last time his son had spoken to him in this manner.
“Stopping her from seeing her own family does not solve anything, it only worsen it.”
He nodded, “I can see that now,” he swallowed.
“You are the head of this family, if you cannot make good decisions in the time of crisis,” he shook his head, “What will become of this family?”
Charle’s mouth moved, but no words came out. Why was John angry at him? What did he do?
“That is enough John! He is your father for Peter’s sake,” his elder sister berated him. “Coming from you, someone in God’s ministry,” she eyed him, “I am highly disappointed.”
“What did the good book say? Honour your father and your mother… ” Dorcas sized her brother up.
John relaxed. Why was he upset?
Nnese held her husband’s hand, she could sense his hurt. The meeting had been a total waste of time. But at least, it had opened their eyes. They needed to do something fast before their family disintegrated and dissolved into oblivion.
“Where is Sheila?” Eureka looked at John. Everyone turned to look at where she had been sitting for the past twenty minutes; the seat was empty.
Sheila got into her father’s car. She could hardly sit in there a moment longer. Nonsense! Stupid meeting, what was the essence anyway? Everybody hated everybody. What kind of a family was that? She was going home. Her parents could find their own way back. There was no money with her, she would have taken a taxi. Her father would have a fit by the time he discovered that his car keys were gone.
Her phone started to ring. She ignored it. She wouldn’t answer it until she got home and was lying on her own bed. She started the car, backed it out of her grand-parents’ compound and nosed it into the road.
“She is not picking her calls,” Eureka cried out in alarm. John dialed his daughter’s number with his phone. It kept on ringing for several minutes.
“Let us go home, she probably got tired of all these unnecessary arguments and headed home.”
Nnese closed her eyes and prayed. She hoped her grand-daughter was okay.
John and his wife walked out of the sitting room without speaking to anyone.
“Dad, you must bring John back to his senses. Sheila must apologize to our client. This contract is important to us,” Dorcas sat beside her father. He sighed and remained quiet. At that moment, his mind was in turmoil.
Martha hissed and turned to Daniel, “Don’t you think we should leave too?”
“We will… Please be patient.”
John and Eureka returned looking worried.
“Sheila left with our car.”
Martha started laughing, “Wonders shall never end.”
“When did she start driving?” Nnese tried to get up. Charles helped her to her feet.
“Why don’t you call her again?” He suggested.
John dailed his daughter’s number, but there was no response.
“We will take you home, hopefully she got there safely,” Imabong offered. John nodded in agreement.
“Honey,” he glanced at his wife.
“I will stay here,” Dorcas leaned back on the seatee.
“All right then,” Imabong, John and Eureka left in a hurry.
“Take me to the room, I need to pray,” Nnese beckoned to her husband.