Promise and her younger sister alighted from the taxi and walked into the compound with their bags and luggages.
Bachelor was seated on a plastic chair outside his apartment eating from a bowl of fruits. He waved at them and they stopped to greet him.
“Bachelor, Bachelor, serious enjoyment.”
“Please, please, this isn’t enjoyment. It is simply a necessity,” he swallowed the banana in his mouth.
“I hear you.”
“Who is the pretty lady with you?”
Promise patted Gift on the shoulder, “She is my younger sister.”
He flashed his white set of teeth, “Hello dear,” he winked at her, “You are taller than your elder sister. Are you into modelling?”
“No,” she glanced at her sister who was trying not to laugh.
“Really? You should try it. You have the height, and the… ” His eyes ran over her figure, “… and the perfect shape.”
Gift rolled her eyes, she was just two inches taller than her sister who was five feet seven inches. He wasn’t the only man who had found her attractive and suggested modelling. Was it compulsory for every tall lady to go into modelling?
“Bachelor, take your eyes off this one. She is still a baby,” she pulled her sister along. He watched them go, his eyes were still on Gift.
“Why do you call him bachelor? What is his real name?”
“My room-mates and I nicknamed him Bachelor. I don’t know his real name,” she unlocked the door, opened it and helped her sister to bring in their bags and luggages.
“You ladies are weird. How would you feel if someone nicknamed you spinster or worse, unmarried woman?”
Promise shrugged. It would be embarrassing to ask Bachelor what his real name was. Adaeze and Bolatito might know his name, they have been very friendly with him since they moved into the compound. She would ask them when they returned to Abuja.
Gift looked around her, she liked what she saw,”Cute and cosy. Nice place you’ve got.”
She smiled and settled on the settee, “Thanks.”
“But, this place is too small for four people. It’s okay for at least two people, but four? That is like asking for trouble with a capital ‘T’.”
Her sister chuckled and leaned back on the chair.
“How do you cope?” She sat on the bed and faced her sister.
Promise raised her shoulders and dropped them. She wasn’t ready to discuss how she lived with three other people. There were moments when she wished she was living alone. But, at other times, it was kind of fun. Her room-mates were single women with different characters and behaviours. It made life interesting each day.
She took her sister’s silence for lack of readiness. She decided to change the topic, “Where are you taking me tonight?”
Her elder sister bursted out laughing.
“What?” She raised an eyebrow.
Promise cleared her throat and changed her position on the chair. She rested her back and bent her raised knees.
She eyed her, “You can laugh all you want. But, the first place I want to go to is Yahuza suya spot. I have heard so much about their juicy grilled chicken and meat. I am dying to try it out.”
“I hear you, as long as we are spending your money.”
Gift gapped, “Promise that is so unfair. I am your guest.”
“Yes. You work at Yellow Tube, I am just a student. You are the one with all the money.”
“I need to unpack, my Abuja vacation has just begun,” Gift danced around the room and winked at her sister.
Promised groaned. Her younger sister would drain her pocket in less than a week. She had enough money to sustain her till the end of the month and the foodstuff her mum packed for her will help a bit, but, entertaining Gift was another story. She needed a back up plan fast!
Promise got to work a bit late that Monday morning. She had taken her sister on a tour around Abuja during the weekend and had ended up waking up late that morning. The sooner her sister returned to Lagos, the better for her. She cannot afford to resume work late each day.
“Promise you are two hours late. You are lucky that Mr. Keshinro is not around,” Maimuna sat on her desk.
“Don’t mind her, the holidays had probably grown on her skin,” Abubakar teased her. Her colleagues laughed at her.
“I wish I could stay back in Lagos a bit longer,” she acknowledged. She had enjoyed her vacation.
Abubakar faced Edet and Ogbonna, “What did I tell you?”
They all started to laugh again. Promise sighed, she wasn’t bothered by their laughter. They were probably used to working all year round with little or no time for themselves.
“You said Mr. Keshinro isn’t around. Isn’t he back from his vacation?” she addressed Maimuna who shook her head in reply.
“Mr. Keshinro left for Accra this morning,” Edet informed her. She turned to face him.
“Yes, the company is pursuing a new contract with a multinational firm. Mr. Keshinro is handling it,” Ogbonna chimed.
She remained quiet, pondering. If her boss wasn’t around, that was goodnews. She doesn’t have to worry about his reaction towards her rejection for the time being.
“He left instructions that you must join him this weekend,” Maimuna informed her.
She blinked several times. Join him? Why? What for? What was her colleague talking about?
“I don’t understand,” she tried to appear composed, but her mind was in turmoil.
Abubakar left his seat and came over to her corner.
“Dearie, everyone in this department has travelled out with Mr. Keshinro. That is one of the pecks of this job. You get to travel round the world,” his dark eyes glittered with excitement.
She blinked again and tried to smile, but her heart rate had sky- rocketed. Business trip? Accra? Alone with her boss? That was suicidal! They had no idea that their boss wanted her to date him. The trip was a bad idea.
“We usually take turns in travelling out with Mr. Keshinro. It’s a new year and you are the newest staff in our department, it’s your turn,” Maimuna winked at her and got down from the table, “Enjoy your trip.”
Promise dabbed at the beads of sweat that had broken out all over her face.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded and avoided looking at him directly.
“I hope you are not afraid of flying.”
She shook her head and smiled at him. Edet and Ogbonna started to laugh again.
“You will be leaving for Accra on Sunday evening, and you will be returning with Mr. Keshinro the following Sunday,” Abubakar briefed her.
She nodded. She felt a sudden ache. She placed a hand on her throbbing forehead and sighed. ‘Oh God! Oh God! What am I going to do?’
“If you have any further questions, Maimuna will fill you in,” he left her side and returned to his seat.
She nodded again. She felt nauseous. She staggered to her feet and found her way to the restroom. Abubakar watched her go.
“Is that girl okay?”
“She will be fine. Maybe she is afraid of flying,” Maimuna met his concerned gaze.
Edet and Ogbonna started to laugh.
Promise sat on the toilet seat. She held her shivering body and tried to still her confused mind.
She had always wanted a job that would fulfill her dreams of travelling round the world. She would have been estatic about her trip to Accra if her boss wasn’t disturbing her, but he was. How safe would she be alone with him in Accra? She was attracted to him physically, how long could she hold up her defences against him. What was she going to do?
‘God! Where are you?’
Promise tried to compose herself when her boss picked her up at the airport. She had almost resigned but had decided against it at the last minute. She was spending a week in Accra with her boss, if she survived the trip, she might be able to get him off her back for the rest of the months she had left in Yellow Tube.
They squeezed their way through the crowd in the arrival hall and headed to the car park.
“How was your flight?”
“It was okay.”
Their driver collected her bags and placed them in the boot of the car. On their way to the hotel they were lounging, her boss intimated her on the series of meetings they would be having. Once the contract deal was sealed, hopefully before the weekend, he assured her that they would head back to Abuja.
They arrived at Labadi beach hotel. She collected her bags from the driver and followed her boss into an elevator. They stopped on the second floor and walked out.
“This is the key to your room,” he handed her a thin thick square card, “Have a goodnight.”
“Thank you sir, goodnight sir,” she watched him go. She heaved a sigh of relief and located her room. His room was opposite hers, but that didn’t bother her. The fact that they had separate rooms was enough consolation. The fact that he had not mention anything about his request and her rejection was an added plus. If they could concentrate on the task ahead and leave out their emotions, everything would be fine. Would it? Would everything be just fine?
‘God, over to you. I need you now.’