Adaeze Chukwuemeka strolled into the Public Relations office clad in a tight fitting knee length red skirt that exposed her dark thighs and outlined her heavy behind, complemented by a clinging white short sleeve shirt with red stripes. She held her red jacket in one hand and a white hand bag in the other. She scanned the large empty room and noticed the ray of light coming from her boss’ office. No matter how early one arrived at the office, Miss. Vivian Njemanze was always in the building.
She settled in her seat, kicked off her white high heeled shoes and thought of calling Kemisola. It was their first day at work that year. She was looking forward to an increase in salary. She needed to move out of her brother’s house at Victoria Island and move into her own apartment. They had been nice enough to accommodate her when she got the job at TL Communications. She needed her own space and privacy. She also needed a car. The amount she spent on cabs daily was enough to change her wardrobe monthly.
She was thirty-six. Time wasn’t waiting for her. She hoped to settle down as soon as possible. The Heads of Account who she was having an affair with was far from divorcing his wife. He had promised to end his marriage, but, she was certain he wouldn’t separate from his spouse even at gun point. The only reason why she was still with him was because of the financial benefits. She would drop him like a piece of hot potato once she found a single wealthy guy who was ready to marry her.
She might attend one of the series of church programs Promise had invited her to in the past year. May be God might have mercy on her and favour her with a husband. She doesn’t want to end up like her boss who was turning forty-one that year. She had never been married and she had no children. Her job was her husband. She cleared her thoughts and started to dial Kemisola’s number on her iphone.
“Hello stranger,” she closed the door behind her.
She looked up and smiled, “I was just about to call you.”
Kemisola approached her, swinging a purple clutch bag. She wanted her colleague to notice the designer label on the bag which had cost her a fortune.
“Where did you disappear to during the staff party?”
She dropped her iphone on her desk, “I sneaked out of the party with you know who,” she winked at her. She saw the Gucci label on the bag. How much did it cost?
“Hope you had fun.”
“Of course I did.”
She noticed her colleague’s outfit, “Someone looks sexy today. Do you have a date?” She drew out her chair.
“No dates. Just felt like looking good,” she felt pleased that she was impressed with her outfit. Everyone else would go gaga.
“If the Heads of Account sees you, you will get a date and a fat package on your way home.”
Adaeze nodded in agreement, “I might swing by his office later today.”
“That’s my girl,” she would start wearing some of the clothes she bought at Dubai and UK. Adaeze wasn’t the only one who knew how to look good.
“We don’t slack when it comes to opportunities,” she gave her an high five.
Oyetunde walked in, mumbled something that sounded like ‘Good morning’ and went over to his corner.
On her way out of the car park, she saw someone stepping out of a wine Honda Element car.
“Boma Etuk?!” She blinked in surprise.
He glanced side ways and saw her standing a few feet away.
“Hey! Hi… Morning,” the last time he saw her was at the staff’s party. She looked really good in her brown skirt suit. He liked the way the skirt swarm across her knees.
She approached the car, “Is this yours?”
He brushed his fingers on the warm bonnet of the car, “Yes, this is my new car.”
“My God!” She touched it and felt its smoothness, “Congratulations.”
“Thank you. I am taking you out to celebrate with me after work today.”
Her eyes glowed in astonishment, “Really? That will be great,” they had gotten pretty close during the holiday. She was glad she had someone like him as a friend.
He grinned and took her by the hand.
“Let’s head to the office. I am sure that Miss. Vivian has arrived.”
She chuckled and fell into steps with him. He was right. Their boss always got to the office before anyone of them. There was a time she began to suspect that the woman lived in her office, but, later erased the notion from her mind.
Oyetunde noticed when Boma and Promise came into the office. Despite the weeks that had gone by, he had not been able to get over her rejection. He speculated whether something was going on between them. They seemed to be closer than when they all started working at TL Communications.
Boma settled down and turned his head when he sensed that he was being watched. He caught Kemisola and Adaeze staring at him. He waved and looked away. He didn’t like the way they were staring at him. He won’t be surprised if Adaeze also had a crush on him.
“Birds of a feather,” he muttered under his breath.
Why was he upset? He shouldn’t allow such things to annoy him. He had been through worse and he had escaped unscathed. He wished them well and prayed they find husbands to marry them as soon as possible.
Promise arranged her things in her drawer and looked towards the notice board. Each column was covered with heaps of attached documents.
“Lord have mercy,” she groaned.
Boma glanced at her and followed the direction of her gaze.
“Wow! Wow!” He got to his feet and placed a hand on his waist.
Oyetunde pushed himself out of his seat and walked over to the board. It seemed their assignments had tripled. Margaret Thatcher was definitely out to kill them with work that year. Kemisola and Adaeze joined him.
“Play time is over girlfriend.”
“Tell me about it.”
They exchanged glances and pondered on how they were going to juggle their exciting social life with their demanding job.
Vivian Njemanze stepped out of her office and addressed her staff, “Good morning to you all. Happy New Year once again.”
No one responded, they just stared at her like lost puppies.
Promise tried not to watch her parents while they dined. She faced the television, but none of the programs was of any interest to her. She had rushed home from work that evening and changed into a pink sleeveless knee length dress with white pocker dots. She hoped Boma was taking her to a very good restaurant.
She glanced at the wall clock. It was a few minutes past eight. Where was Boma? Her tummy growled. She was hungry. If he doesn’t show up soon enough, she would join her parents at the dining. Her blackberry phone began to ring. She checked the caller’s ID and smiled. She got up and bid her parents a goodnight.
“Hope you are with one of the gate spare keys,” her father called after her. Neither he or his wife were prepared to leave the comfort of their bed to open the gate that night.
“Yes dad,” she hurried out of the house.
Blessing met her husband’s questioning gaze.
“Boma is taking her out.”
“I see,” he swallowed the food in his mouth, “Have they started dating?”
“I don’t think so. They are just friends.”
He refilled his empty glass cup with water from the jug on the dining.
“I hope history won’t repeat itself,” he could still remember how hurt his daughter felt when Gbenga left her because he couldn’t accept her past.
She sighed, “Let us hope for the best,” she had a good feeling about Boma.
“Where are we heading to?”
“I am not telling you.”
“Don’t I have the right to know?”
“My lips are sealed,” he concentrated on the road.
“Suit yourself,” she looked out of the window. She trusted his judgement when it came to food and restaurants. She relaxed and leaned into the seat.
“I like your dress.”
“Thanks,” she blushed.
“I saw your birthday date on your facebook profile page.”
“I don’t believe in hiding my age.”
“Hmmm… March tenth is also my birthday date.”
She turned to look at him. He met her shocked gaze. He smiled and glanced back at the road.
“I am just five years older than you.”
She hissed, “So what are you feeling like?”
He started to laugh. Thirty minutes later, he stopped in front of a white one storey building at Elegushi Estate, Lekki. He honked and the security guard opened the gate. He drove into the neat compound, parked the car and helped her out. The puzzled look on her face wasn’t lost to him.
“This doesn’t look like a restaurant,” she eyed him. What does he have up his sleeves?
“You have met my new car,” he pointed at the Honda, “I want to introduce to you my new apartment, a three bedroom flat. I live upstairs and my neighbour, also a bachelor, lives downstairs. You will meet him some other time,” he took her by the hand and led her up an external spiral stairway. He unlocked the gate to the flat and led her into the posh apartment.
“Welcome to my humble home,” he bowed.
Promise looked around her, lost for words. It was a beautiful place.
“Dinner is ready, please let’s move over to the dining.”
She followed him to the glass table and sat down on the chair he pulled out for her. He took a seat beside her and held her hand.
“I am a very good cook.”
There was a bowl of vegetable soup on the table, stuffed with different kinds of beef, and a bowl of what looked like wrapped pounded yam beside it.
“Did you pound?” She looked up at him.
She started to laugh.
“I can pound. Seriously, I can.”
She stopped laughing and cocked her head side ways.
“But, tonight I used the Yam Pounder machine. I am not a fan of pondo yam powder.”
“I hope you are a good cook. I left my mother’s food because of you.”
He stuck out his tongue at her. She noticed that he was still holding her hand. Should she pull away? Should she leave it be? What should she do? She swallowed hard. As if he was reading her thoughts, he let go of her hand and began to dish their meal.
“Fork and knife or a bowl of water to wash your hands?”
“I like using my hands when it comes to African dishes.”
“My kind of girl,” he passed her a plate of food.
She washed her hands and tasted the food. Her eyes widened.
She lifted her dark eyes, “Where did you learn how to cook?”
“My mother taught me well.”
“I am impressed.”
“I am glad,” he winked at her.
She smiled and went on eating. She hoped to marry a man that could cook. He would be able to help her out in the kitchen whenever she got pregnant or when something unavoidable came up.
“The company I worked for that went bankrupt… ”
“Hmmm… ” She continued eating.
“They called me.”
She met his excited gaze. Was he leaving TL Communications?
“I was one of the staff members they choose to compensate.”
“They apologised for the way they threw everyone out and compensated me with a very fat cheque.”
“Oh Lord have mercy!” She fanned herself with her hands.
“I have been praying to God for a while concerning a new car, a new apartment and my own personal business.”
“He heard your prayers and answered.”
“Exactly, I am so grateful,” he beamed.
“And I am so happy for you.”
“Thanks dearie. I am going to resign from TL Communications at the end of the year. My business plans will have taken effect by then.”
She held his hand, “I am so happy for you.”
“Thanks,” he looked at her hand, “Hope you are not rubbing soup on my hand.”
She hissed and pointed a finger at him, “I will spank you now.”
“With what? That slim delicate hand of yours? You want your father to arrest me after it has broken into two.”
She threw a fork at him and he dodged it.
“I can see that you are full.”
“You know you have a very big mouth,” she eyed him.
“Yes. The next time I visit, I will come along with a cane.”
He clapped his hands together and laughed.
“You want to beat a grown man like me, seriously?”
She threw another fork at him.
“Promise those things are sharp,” he tried to feign anger but he ended up grinning like a school boy.
“So is your mouth.”
“Did you come to my house to harrass me?”
She downed her chilled drink and washed her hands.
“I will bring a cane the next time I visit.”
“We will wait and see,” he began to clear the table. She joined him and followed him into the kitchen.
“Whoever you marry is so lucky. Your house is set and ready,” she looked around her.
He smiled and remained quiet. If only she knew that his mind was already made up concerning that area of his life. She was the one he desired to spend the rest of his life with. He was still getting to know her, but he was certain that she was his missing rib.
She glanced at her wrist-watch, “I think you need to take me home. It is late and you know we have to get to work early tomorrow.”
“All right your majesty, lead the way,” he felt sad that she was leaving.
“First and foremost, I want takeaway.”
“What? What? Take what? Look at this young woman.”
She hissed and started to search the cupboards for the vegetable soup.
“What do you think you are doing? This isn’t your mother’s kitchen.”
“Where is soup?”
“What soup? Did I cook the whole pot for you?”
She continued her search. He went after her and attempted to carry her out of the kitchen. She grabbed at the table nailed into the wall.
“Come and go to your house.”
“Not without the soup.”
He pulled her away from the table and they both fell on the tiled floor. They bursted out in laughter and sat on the floor for a while.
“You know you are a case.”
“So are you.”
Their eyes locked. He liked it whenever she braided her hair, especially when she used coloured hair extensions that contrasted with her coffee brown complexion. He felt the urge to crush her in his arms and kiss her.
“I wish you didn’t have to go.”
“Me too. There is no dull moment with you,” she punched him on the shoulder.
“I wish you could stay here forever.”
She blinked and turned her face away. Forever? Did he just mention forever? What was he trying to say? Was he trying to tell her that he wanted more than friendship? Her heart beat accelerated.
“Let’s get you home,” he got on his knees and helped her up.
Promise could barely sleep that night. She kept on turning and turning on her bed. At a point, she sat up and switched on the bedside table lamp. It was two in the morning and she had not slept a wink. She hoped she wouldn’t doze off at work.
Her dinner date with Boma filled her thoughts. She liked him a lot and knew that he liked her too. The attraction between them had intensified with their growing friendship. It was only a matter of time before he asked her out. His true feelings had been exposed briefly that night.
She would love to date him, but, she was scared. Her past stood like an invisible wall between them. Would he be able to accept it or reject her like Gbenga?
‘God what am I going to do? Lord, what am I suppose to do? I am lost without you,’ she placed both hands on her head.