I thank God for giving me the Grace and Favor in completing and writing this book. Also, to my parents; Mr. and Mrs. Ochidi and my siblings. And of course my readers.
Thank you all.
© 2018 BY OCHIDI GRACE
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
In my nude Nikki Strappy Stilettos heels, I walked into the striking Hotel in the heart of Nigeria “Lagos state”, feeling sexy in my classic sheath black dress. My sexy shoes made a click-clack sound as I walked on the clean, immaculate marbles of the hotel with my head held high and my blue bagroo Kelly bag hanging in the crook of my hand.
You see, I have a meeting with the C.E.O of Dark Knights Enterprise. An arrogant, conniving, selfish bastard that thinks of no one other than himself and this C.E.O is my boss. Because he’s young (he’s like in his 20’s and so am I) and he’s also rich, he uses his power to intimidate and disgrace people lower than him. He practically doesn’t give a damn about anyone’s feelings.
Goodness me, but I hate that guy.
Okay, so I really don’t know how I got here. I mean I was in my office one morning, working on some documents concerning the launching of our brand new liquor. It’s absolutely divine. I’ve never tasted such alcohol in my life and for me to say that says a lot.
So here I was in my office, working away. All focused and determined to finish up early so I could hang out with my girls, Nikki and Cassandra. When my bullheaded, boss called my office line, “demanding” not asking oh, “demanding”, that I come immediately to his office.
Goodness me, why? Why did it have to be me? There are hundreds of girls in this building that he could have called; even his secretary would have been available for him. But nooo….he had to call me, me Scarlet.
Anyway, I went to his office prepared to face him.
Here’s the thing, my boss knows I hate him, he hates me too. But for some reason, he hasn’t seen any cause to take my job away from me especially on days when I’m being my normal stubborn self. For years he has tried to intimidate me with his money, arrogance, position and even his height. Yes, he’s tall, like really tall, and I’m short like really short. Okay not really short, but I’m short sha.
Anywho, back to the matter at hand before I started to give descriptions of my boss and me.
I prepared myself as I made my way to his office. Getting there, I saw his secretary Sandra she smiled at me when she saw me approaching her desk. Sandra and I have been friends for years. We became friends the first week I started working here. She’s a really sweet girl. I don’t know how she copes with my boss.
“Hi Sandra, how’s work going?” I asked as I stood by her work desk.
“Going great Scarlet how’s yours?”
“Dandy” I replied, “but it looks like your boss is about to change that”
She smiled at me, “I’m sure he just needs a file or something”.
“And why are you his secretary, to just serve him coffee every morning?” I asked.
“He doesn’t like coffee,” she said looking at me sheepishly.
“He doesn’t?” I asked surprised by her comment.
“Nope” she replied shaking her head for added effect.
“Hm he looks like a coffee guy”
“He sure does, but he doesn’t” she replied.
“Hey! I remember asking you to get something for me one morning but you said you were about to get coffee for him. You lied!”
She gave me a big wide smile keeping her mouth shut.
“Sandra…” I said warning her.
“I didn’t want to come to your floor, I was avoiding Ben. You know he has been pestering me”
“Oh yeah, that’s true. But you guys worked it out right?” I asked.
“Yep, we broke up”
Then she faced her laptop and began to type fervently.
“What!” I exclaimed.
“You should go in. you know how he gets when his request isn’t answered immediately”
“Why did you guys…”
“You should go in Scarlet you don’t want to piss the boss off,” she said cutting me off.
I squinted my eyes at her “are you trying to avoid my question?”
“Scarlet he’s waiting”
She was no longer typing on her system she was looking at me instead.
I waited for a few beats before letting it go.
“I’ll let it go for now. But you’ll be giving me the full gist later” I said pointing a finger at her.
She shooed me away, “yes I know, go I don’t want to lose my job because of you”
I walked away then suddenly stopped. I turned quickly around at my sudden flashback.
“Oh my god Sandra you lied to me for years!”
“Scarlet go please we’ll talk later,” she said anxiously looking at her boss’s door”
Walking backward, I pointed a finger at her scowling.
“Love you,” she said waving and smiling at me.
I smiled back. Turned fully around, and walked to his door.
I shouldn’t have come to work.
I was stepping into the elevator with my head down tying into my phone when this flashback came through of how I landed here. The doors closed. I looked at the young man beside me.
I said suddenly without meaning to. But why wouldn’t I?
it’s my boss, standing beside me, how?
“Scarlet,” he said like my name tasted like lime in his mouth.
I faced back around replying, “Mr. Caleb”
“You’re early, was heading out to have lunch”
“Well I could wait for you in your apartment,” I said, hoping he’ll say yes.
“Sure let me take you there. I locked the door”
Oh, thank you, God, at least a few minutes away from me will give me enough time to prepare myself to tackle him down if he decides to vex me.
He pressed the button to take us to his penthouse. The doors closed and up we went.
A few seconds later, an insane thing happened, something unimaginable, I wish it was rapture that took place but it wasn’t. No, it was something worse.
The elevator stopped going up.
Flashback at the office a few days ago.
I knocked on the door and my boss called me in. I took a deep breath, opened his door and stepped in.
“Sir you called,” I said walking deeper into his posh office.
“Scarlet I’ll just get down to it. You don’t even have to sit down”
Oh my god, I think today is the day I’ll be getting fired. Gosh, I knew this day will come. I stared at him with my heart beating really fast waiting for him to proclaim me fired. But he said something totally different, he said.
“The company has chosen you to take charge of our upcoming event in New-York city. And I’ll be your supervisor.”
Oh my goodness, the event in New York is bigger than the launching of our new liquor. This project is huge; people have been fighting to lead it. I can’t believe I’ve been chosen. This is awesome.
Well, I can manage him being my supervisor, no biggie, it’ll just be for a few months and then I’ll get back to my life.
He moved in his seat looking frustrated then he expelled a deep breath and rubbed his forehead like what he was about to say was going to be terrible.
“We’ll be working together Scarlet, for a year”
I swear I think the world just ended.
Presently in the elevator
“What just happened?” I asked terrified.
“The car just stopped” my boss replied calmly pressing the buttons, but nothing happened.
I jerked my head at him, “stopped? It can’t stop, I’m claustrophobic!”
He looked at me “oh shit”
“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” I said panicking and fanning myself with my hands.
“Scarlet calm down we’ll begin to go up before you know it”
I wasn’t listening to him, I was panicking. I picked a side of the elevator and glued myself to it. Closing my eyes and chanting unreasonable words out of my mouth.
“Scarlet” he called.
I kept chanting.
“Scarlet” he repeated.
But my chanting continued and my voice increased.
Mr. Caleb grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me to get my attention, “will you stop and listen to me?” he yelled in my face.
“Stop yelling in my face!” I yelled back opening my eyes.
“You’re the one yelling, not me” he replied.
“I’m scared okay. Haba”
“Calm down, I’ll make a call to let them know the elevator isn’t working. Just calm down, you’ll be fine. We’ll both be fine?”
I nodded my head. But I was still scared out of mind.
“Okay, look at me, breathe with me”
I looked into his eyes.
“That’s it, just breath with me. Deep breaths now, that’s it, good girl”
I followed his instructions breathing with him. I realized the more I obeyed him, the easier it got for me.
“Okay, do you feel better now?”
I nodded my head.
“Can I make the call?”
I nodded my head again.
He let go of my shoulders slowly observing me. Making sure I won’t fall back into panic mode. Once he was sure I was okay, he took out his phone and called the front desk.
“Hello. Yes, this Mr. Knight. I’m in an elevator with a colleague and it just stopped….yes it’s no longer moving…yes, I tried doing that but it didn’t work….no none of the buttons are working…. Okay, good. We’ll be waiting”
All the while that he spoke, I watched him. He looked so calm like he wasn’t scared at all.
“You don’t look scared,” I said.
“That’s because I’m not” he replied, standing at the other end other elevator facing me.
“You’re not claustrophobic?” I asked.
“Nope?” he replied.
“Hmmm, so what’s your phobia?”
“You really think I’ll tell you?” he asked.
“Well, we don’t know how long we’ll be here. I remember a friend of mine got stuck in an elevator, she was the only one. She was there for over 2 hours”
Mr. Caleb’s eyes grew round, “2hours? Alone?”
“Yeah, it is” I replied, remembering the whole thing and feeling bad for her.
“So because you think we’ll be here for a while you want us to share each other’s phobias?”
“Well, not us. You already know mine, it yours that’s not known yet”
“I can’t tell you mine,” he said simply like it was final. Well, we’re not at work and he can’t bring his bossiness into an elevator.
“But why?” I asked nosily. I sat on the floor to get comfortable my legs were killing me from the heels I was wearing.
My boss sat down cross-legged on the floor too after watching me sit.
“Because I’m your boss, you’re not meant to know my fears”
“We’re in an elevator Mr. Caleb so technically you ain’t my boss right now until when we start talking business”
He grinned slowly at me, “red, I’ll always be your boss” he took off his jacket while I watched him, “and since I’m not your boss right now, you might as well call me Caleb”
Confused I asked, “Red?” dismissing him telling me to call him Caleb.
“Yes, red, your name is Scarlet and you love anything red, hence the nickname ‘Red’ ”
“Hmm,” I said thoughtfully. “But wait how do you know my best color?”
“It’s obvious, only a blind man won’t be able to tell”
I kept quiet.
“Good right?” he asked.
He nodded his head.
“Okay so since we are giving nicknames…..”
“No we are not giving nicknames” he objected.
“But you just…”
“I know what I did, but red you aren’t giving me a nickname”
“Common now it’s only fair that I do, okay I promise it won’t be…”
“Will you stop cutting me short?” I demanded heatedly.
He was quiet for a second then he stubbornly said, “no”
I rolled my eyes at him.
We both fell silent.
The car was quiet and hot, I stared at him for a bit, he stared back. I was waiting for him to tell me what his fear was but I think he thinks he has forgotten I asked him.
“So?” I said, pushing him to answer me.
“So what,” he asked going through his phone.
“Well, you’re supposed to…”
“Tell you my fear?” he concluded.
I sighed, totally tired of him cutting me short, “Yes, you’re supposed to tell me your fears”.
He was still going through his phone but he looked worried as he did.
“Is everything alright? Have you gotten a message from the hotel or something?”
“You ask too many questions red,” he said, tucking his phone into the pocket of his dress shirt.
“That’s why I’m the best in your company”
He smiled a little at me and then adjusted himself on the floor facing me.
“Okay I’ll tell you my fear”
Yes! I said excitedly within.
Caleb shook his head amused at my exuberance.
“Why do I feel this is a bad idea?”
“It isn’t, trust me, just go ahead, I’m all ears”
Then I moved forward a bit to get closer to him, sitting cross-legged paying apt attention.
He studied me for a bit then decided he’ll just tell me.
“Okay, my fear is poverty”.
I looked at him confused, “poverty?”
“Yes, poverty” he replied, “I’m scared of being poor. I look at it as a disease, a disease I don’t pray to have. It’s the worst kind of thing any human can fall into”
“Wow,” I said dumbfounded.
“Yeah” he replied quietly looking at his shoes.
He began to examine an imaginary piece of cloth hanging out of his trousers. I looked at him as he picked at it, he was quiet. And he looked like he was thinking about something.
“Being poor is a useful tool that teaches one how to survive” I suddenly said.
He raised his head slowly to look at me. I continued when he decided not to speak.
“The thing is when you’re rich all your life you get comfortable, you won’t be able to survive if you get stranded in a deserted island or bankruptcy hits you like an unknown missile or your business comes crashing down. When you’re poor you learn to survive, improvise and look for ways to make life better. Yes, it’s hard and pitiful but its tool and lessons enrich you. By the time you’ve worked hard to become the rich man, you are meant to be, when you look back you’ll realize it was worth it. So don’t look at poverty as your fear, look at it as your strength”
Caleb was quiet throughout the moment I began my mini-speech. Once I was done he looked surprised.
“Wow, I had no idea you were this smart”
I smiled at him, “thank you”
“I’ve seen a side of you that I like. I think we’ll do well in New-York” he said genuinely.
“I think so too”
He smiled at me, I smiled back then the doors opened and right in front of us stood a group of men, the one in the middle had a tag on his black suit that said “manager”.
“Oh thank you, God,” I said relieved”
The manager stretched out his hand to Caleb apologizing profusely, “sir we are so sorry. This will never happen again”
Caleb got up with ease, helping me to do the same. He picked up my handbag and handed it over to me. Then he placed his hand on my lower back and led me out. The manager still had his hand stretched; I looked at it then looked at the manager. I watched the manager as his throat worked on taking a deep swallow of his saliva. He was scared.
I knew he was scared, so I whispered into Caleb’s ear,” take it easy on him champ”
Caleb looked at me, “champ?”
“Sir we really are…”
“It’s okay. All’s forgiven” said Caleb looking at me then he looked at the manager, “No one got hurt so it’s good”
“Thank you so much sir” replied the manager gratefully.
We walked away from them, heading towards the transparent glass doors of the hotel.
“Where are we going? Aren’t we having our meeting in your penthouse?”
“I’ve changed my mind, we’ll have lunch while we have our meeting,” he said determinedly.
I smiled sheepishly, I think another phobia has been added, he now has elevator phobia.
“Why are you smiling?” he asked as we stepped out of the hotel.
“I think you now have a new phobia” I replied.
“Yeah, what is it?” he asked, his hands still on my lower back by the way.
He was quiet
A giggle began to bubble up in my tummy.
“Red?” he growled out.
I couldn’t hold it in, I had to let it out and out it came. I laughed so hard it could be heard even at the end of the street.