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.
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 busy schedule 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.”
“Of 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. Adeoye.